Monday, October 17, 2011

Ready and Willing by Cara McKenna

TITLE: Ready and Willing
AUTHOR: Cara McKenna
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 25k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.99

Abby wants a baby, but rather than go with an anonymous donor, she places an ad and picks out two men. Rob is the most gorgeous guy she’s ever seen, while Noah feels like somebody she’s known forever. There’s no strings, and having sex with both men means nobody will know who the actual father is. Except almost from the start, Abby feels a pull she wants to ignore, one that proves more and more irresistible as time goes by…

While I’m still excited about this author, I’m pretty sure my lower enjoyment of this particular novella is at least partially my own fault. See, the publisher lists a ménage as part of the warnings, and I didn’t read the blurb very carefully when I was so greedily buying up this author’s backlist. I was expecting a ménage romance, and though there’s a ménage (mfm) scene, this most definitely is not.

At thirty-two, Abby is feeling her biological clock ticking. She wants a baby. She doesn’t want an anonymous donor, however. She wants to meet the man who might be the father. After taking out an ad, she picks two men, who agree to her payments and no-strings offer. Rob is gorgeous, and the thought that she gets to have sex with him turns her on. Noah is good-looking, too, but his appeal comes from something else, from the feeling that they’ve known each other forever. The differences between the two men is stark, right from the beginning, and it doesn’t take long for Abby to realize that keeping things casual is a lot easier said than done.

So let’s get this clear. This is not a ménage romance. It’s not even really a “who will she pick” romance. It’s obvious from the beginning that the way Abby and Noah hit it off is important. Their chemistry is sweet and tangible, leaping off the page. I adored the first scene in the story where they meet up. It’s funny and charming, much like a lot of this author’s work. But unlike more traditional romances, Abby isn’t sexually exclusive to Noah. She can’t be. Her intention is to have sex with both men so nobody will know who the real father is, which means, sex with both men. It didn’t bother me since it seemed obvious that it was going to happen that way, but for some readers, it might prove a stumbling block.

The disparity between the two is so blatant, however, that there’s not really a lot of tension. Abby doesn’t even come when she has sex with Rob. She has to get herself off afterward. Noah, on the other hand, is as into her needs as he is his own. Plus, he’s uncomfortable with the payment part of it. It all adds up to an easy choice. There’s a solid HFN as pay-off.

The one weakness in this, and it was a doozy for me, is that their sex talk is supposed to be hot and dirty. It just wasn’t for me. It felt forced and fake, like bad porn. That makes it really hard to get into the sex scenes. The erotica worked best for me when they weren’t trying to have sexy talk, when it was more organic and real. Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen often enough.

The story is told in 1st person, present tense, a choice that might put some readers off, but honestly, I thought worked great for this style of story. It lends Abby an air of relatability, especially since the author’s voice is so distinct. My only wish is that the rest of it had been as strong.


7/10 – The dirty talk came across as more awkward than hot, but I flew through and loved all the rest of it


7/10 – Adorable and wonderful, I just needed more


7/10 – I needed her motivations sooner than I got them, but her independent streak was fantastic

Entertainment value

6/10 – Not buying the dirty talk really held me back in enjoying this

World building

6/10 – The contemporary setting precludes much of anything here, though there was a nice setting when it hit Christmas



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