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cover90956-mediumBeautifully Decadent

Beautifully Damaged, #3

by L.A. Fiore

Avery Collins has just landed her dream job, pastry chef for the posh-Manhattan restaurant Clover. Her new boss, Trace Montgomery, even helped with securing her an affordable place to live: a beautifully restored carriage house owned by his friend, Rafe McKenzie—a man that makes her catch her breath and stirs her imagination. Trouble is, he’s involved with someone, his father is being released after 25 years in prison and Avery is just his tenant. Exploring the attraction that sizzles whenever they’re together would be the icing on the cake, but Avery knows all too well that you can’t have everything. Of course, what’s cake without icing?

 Rafe McKenzie’s world shattered at nine when his father Liam—the only parent he knew—was arrested and convicted for armed robbery. Growing up in the system, Rafe managed to survive his childhood and now has a job he enjoys, a house he’s restoring and a tight circle of friends. He’s even working on reconciling with his dad, both eager to put the past in the past.

 Happy for the income a tenant would bring, Rafe agrees to rent his carriage house to Clover’s new pastry chef. When Avery Collins pulls up his drive, she’s not at all what he’s expecting. Funny, sexy and as sweet as her desserts, it doesn’t take long for things between them to heat up. Just when it seems as if they’ll have their cake and eat it too, the past comes back with deadly intent leaving Rafe to figure out who’s pulling the strings before his world shatters again.

 Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

(Surprising no one, I have to admit that this is the first in this series that I’ve read but it can easily stand on its own.  It looks like previous heroes & heroines make an appearance and there are some allusions to their stories, but it doesn’t detract from this one.  I’ve just got more books to put in my extremely high TBR pile 🙂)

I don’t know if having read the other stories if I’d have a better understanding of Rafe but I found him to be surprisingly well adjusted for a man whose dad went to jail and therefore he found himself in foster care at just 9 years old.  Since Trace & Lucien knew him then and there is talk about the wonderfulness of Sister Anne at the home they lived in I’m thinking the answer is probably.  The friendship between the guys, and by association their women, is deep and helps ground them all.  I would have liked to have seen that in the other stories because I think that it would only help fill in the nuances of them all.  As he is here, Rafe’s assured, hard-working, dedicated to his loved ones, and while he not commitment-phobic, he’s also not exactly looking for true love.  Then he meets Avery.

She has got to be one of my favorite female characters.  She’s spunky, warm, friendly and has a habit of doing stupid things in front of Rafe.  But her sunny personality is one of those things that just draws you to her and the fact that she screws up occasionally makes her that much more adorable.  I could easily see myself trying to be friends with her 🙂

The trouble that they find themselves in doesn’t overshadow the rest of the book but does help to bring in an additional layer to display the kind of people this group is.  They pull together in time of need and it highlights the high points of their characters & the bond amongst them. 

While the romance happens quickly, I don’t feel like it is rushed.  The interactions between the two and the chemistry that Fiore creates for them work really well to establish a believable relationship.  The danger portion also adds that little extra something to their story that helps keep things exciting … not that you need it with a hottie like Rafe and a personality as big as Avery’s.