by Kym Grosso
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Powerful CEO, Garrett Emerson’s, life and corporation are built on a foundation of risk taking and top secret priorities. He works hard, but plays even harder. When tragedy strikes, the charismatic and sexy billionaire takes the gamble of his life by bringing a beautiful consultant into his inner sanctum, exposing her to his exclusive society of extreme athletes who are adventurous both in business and pleasure. Inexplicably drawn to the intriguing woman, Garrett teaches her to face her fears, bringing them both to new levels of ecstasy.Selby Reynolds, a high profile technology specialist, reluctantly accepts an engagement at Emerson Industries. Discovering secrets and uncovering clues to a murder, she’s swept into Garrett's dangerous but seductive life of luxury. Captivated by the world renowned capitalist and adventurer, she’s convinced he could crush her heart. As he pushes her sexual limits and their erotic play intensifies, Selby finds it impossible to resist the one man who turns her darkest fantasies into a reality. When Selby’s life is threatened by a killer, carnal lessons of trust are put to the test, forcing them to choose who is friend and who is foe. Can Selby give her heart to a man who revels in the excitement of flirting with death? Will they prevail against an enemy who threatens to tear apart Garrett’s world, including the fragile connection with the woman he seeks to claim as his own?
“What are you doing here?” Lars whispered.
Recognizing his voice, she spun around and gave him a small smile. This was his hidden world, she knew, and he hadn’t invited her.
“Garrett asked me to attend,” Selby told him.
“He shouldn’t have done that.”
Selby stood firm, despite his annoyed expression. Over the years, she’d seen him both frustrated and determined, but never angry.
“It’s not like I asked to come. Garrett invited me.” She crossed her arms, irritated that he hadn’t welcomed her.
“Dance with me.” It was a command, not a request.
Selby marched to the parquet floor, allowing him to take her in his arms. The music slowed to a ballad and she began to plead her case.
“Please don’t be mad, Lars. You’re the one who got me into this.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just…” He exhaled loudly. “Look, Selby, the people in this room…you’re not like them.”
“Gee, thanks. Nice.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. But come on, you know you’re not big on any kind of adventure. These folks are here because they share a passion. You wouldn’t understand us. What we do…it’s not something you are ever going to do. We’ve been friends for a long time, but Garrett shouldn’t have brought you here.”
“Everything we do has a risk. I’m afraid to fly but I still do it anyway. And do you know why? Because at the end of the day, data speaks, bullshit walks. I know full well that I have a better chance of dying in a car accident than I do getting on a 747.”
“Well, your chances are a helluva a lot greater when you base jump. Try more like one in sixty.”
“True, but you haven’t died yet, and there are things I do that are a little risky.” She guessed that singing at the club wouldn’t rank very high on Lars’ list, but as far as she was concerned, it counted when it came to bravery.
“Get real. You can’t even go down an escalator without saying five Hail Marys and holding on for dear life. This club,” he gestured to the people dancing around them, “the people here tonight…they embrace it all. Pushing the envelope of what we’re supposed to be doing.” He paused and added, “Including sex.”
“What?” Selby had fully expected the ‘we like to do dangerous things’ lecture, but hadn’t expected him to talk about sex.
“Look around.” Lars spun her in a circle to the beat. He whispered in her ear. “The couple in the corner. It’s Chase and Penny. Do you see them?”
Selby glanced to a man and woman who sat in darkness. She could barely make out their silhouette.
“What? No they aren’t,” she protested. As she glanced again, she observed the slightest movement.
“Yes. Yes they are.”
“But Garrett said they’re investors…”
“They’re the originals. His venture capitalists are his closest friends. We helped him build his dream, and in the process, we all prospered.”
“That’s good, right?” Selby asked, still trying to catch a better look at what exactly the couple was doing. She swore Lars was just messing with her to get her to leave.
“Some work at Emerson. Most do. Some, like me, have our own companies with close partnerships with Emerson. A few,” Lars nodded to the band. “See the twins?”
Selby caught sight of the lead singer, who wore a tight black t-shirt. He tightly gripped the microphone, his heavily tattooed arms bulging every time he flexed. A similarly handsome man played drums.
“They’re recent doctoral grads from MIT. They were interning with Evan. Now they’re helping Chase out with a few things.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this involved having interns?”
“Because you don’t have any. You’re there to help recruit Evan’s replacement and expedite the outsourcing. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“I know that,” she replied. Her lips pursed as she considered that once again Garrett hadn’t disclosed all the facts of the situation. Her whirling temper was thwarted as Lars stopped dancing and held her tight.
“What’s going on between you and Garrett?”
“Lars,” she breathed. Her head fell to his shoulder. Jesus, she wished she could lie to him, but she couldn’t.
“He wouldn’t have brought you here if you weren’t…are you sleeping with him?”
“No,” she protested. “And besides, even if I was, it’s not like it’s any of your business.”
“I don’t want you to get hurt, is all. It’s why I never introduced you to him. I knew how you admired him. Women lie down and spread their legs the minute he says hello, and you aren’t going to be one of them.”
“Are you kidding me?” Selby exclaimed.
“Look, he’s one of my best friends but he’s not like you. You’re innocent. You don’t have this addiction we’ve got.”
“Lars, I appreciate your advice but I’m not that girl you dated in college. I can handle myself.” Or so she hoped. Despite her confusion over Lars’ concerns, she wasn’t leaving.
“Just be careful, okay? I know you, Selby. I’ve seen you during an attack.”
Selby’s stomach lurched as he mentioned her weakness. Garrett, no matter how smitten, hadn’t seen her at her worst.
“The things we do aren’t for you,” Lars insisted, his voice firm.
“I surfed today,” she said defiantly. So what if she’d only stayed up for all of five seconds? It still counted.
“Yeah, Seth told me. I knew they’d push for you to do something to get to know the customer a little better. But surfing? Come on. You know that kids do it, right?” He shook his head and laughed. “It’s just a small sliver, baby. Unless you’re planning on goin’ with us on our next base jump, this place isn’t for you.”
“She’s my guest.” Selby heard Garrett’s commanding voice behind her, and excitement flushed through her veins.
His hand glided over her shoulder, and tingles ran down her arm. She caught a glimpse of anger in Lars’ eyes, but her focus was drawn to the debonair billionaire who’d invited her to the party. Her breath caught as her eyes devoured him. Dressed in black slacks and a white shirt, his strong muscular forearms pressed through his rolled up sleeves. A lock of his dark brown hair brushed over his forehead. He emanated sex without trying, his cool casual style apparent in his every movement and word.
“Garrett, Lars was just telling me about your, um, your club.” Her arm broke out in gooseflesh as he trailed his finger down it. Although covered by fabric, she swore she could feel the burn of his touch straight through her dress.
“Was he now?” Garrett’s eyes darted to Lars and back to Selby.
“Yes, he was telling me about your investors. Lars…” she went to address him but he’d walked away toward the bar. She shook her head, upset that he’d left angry. They never fought and it broke her heart to think he’d be irate about her seeing Garrett.
“Don’t worry about him. Everyone’s a little tense after last night. He’s going to be fine.” Garrett brought the back of her hand to his lips and kissed it.
“I…Garrett,” she stammered.
Selby glanced around the room and caught sight of both Seth and Nate staring at her. As much as she yearned to throw herself into Garrett’s arms, she hadn’t expected public displays of affection at a company event.
“Selby?” He gave a small chuckle, tugging her toward the door.
“Where are we going?” she asked as he led her out onto a large balcony. It overlooked a magnificent waterfall that spilled into a swimming pool. Large glowing orbs the size of beach balls floated along its surface.
“It’s too noisy inside.”
“What is this place?” she asked in wonderment.
“This is Altura.”
Carnal Risk is a sultry story between a broken woman trying to keep her head above her fears and a man who chases adrenaline faster than American Pharaoh wins a horse race. I liked that just because Selby had so many fears and phobias because what was done to her she was written strong and fighting those same fears. Garrett is still mourning his friend Evan and dealing with his business and trying to prove his friend was murdered, it made him a bit of a grump. He is also seriously dominant and that could translate into a jerk at times, but with his personality it fits. The story was entertaining and though some parts were predictable I enjoyed reading it and seeing Selby become stronger and Garrett help her with her fears.
Garrett is an extreme sports junkie and makes tons of money from like minded people by making gear for their crazy and exhilarating life style as well as top secret military projects. When his friend, ex military and professional sky diver dies during a bad dive he immediately suspects murder. His friend Lars wants Garrett to bring in his own friend Selby who has mad skills at hacking, but more importantly she can temporarily do Evan's job while she looks for his replacement. The only problem is Lars knows Garrett wont give her a chance because she doesn't engage in their life style. Selby takes risks in her own way so Lars shows him before ever bringing her up. Seeing it for himself Garrett knows Selby takes risks in her own way. And he also sees he wants her, badly.
The passion between the two is astronomical, but lies and secrets will come out. But will near out of control passion be enough? The story heats up pretty fast in more than one way and when it does things will not be the same again. I recommend this book to those who like a romance with some adrenaline rushing excitement and spice.
**My rating system is different from Amazon where this will be a 4☆. See my rating chart to the right.