I have enjoyed the first two books of the Fusion series on audio so I was keen to continue and hear about Kat’s HEA in Blush for Me. Unfortunately, it was the weakest book of the series so far and there was a big issue that stuck out like a sore thumb around chapter 17.
Kat is in charge of the bar at Seduction, the restaurant and wine bar she owns with four other friends. She is a wine connoisseur and a bit of a badass. In the previous books she was a “just use men for sex” type of girl; not interested in a relationship and very cynical. I was looking forward to how she kept her personality but also found love.
When Kat attends a wine convention in Napa Valley, she has to fly for the first time. The only problem is: she’s terrified. Fortunately for her, her seat mate in first class is “Mac”, a hot guy who, it turns out, is attending the same wine convention. Mac soothes and settles Kat on the flight and when they meet again at the hotel, it isn’t long before they commence a no strings “sexcation”.
Kat and Mac do not exchange phone numbers. What happens in Napa stays in Napa. I was struck that Kat didn’t ask Mac anything about himself. Not his last name, where he lived or what work he did. Nothing. Mac asked about Kat but not vice versa. Kat did not want to continue any relationship with him after the convention so I guess she didn’t need to know? It still seemed a bit rude to me.
Their connection is scorching hot and they enjoy a lot of inventive sex during the week of the convention. Mac, usually a “no relationships” guy, asks to see her again once they’re back in Portland. Kat shuts him down soundly. I was a bit surprised therefor when the next scene had Kat complaining that Mac hadn’t called her!
Mac had no intention of taking no for an answer of course and comes to Seduction to see her. It doesn’t go well initially because for reasons which made no sense to me at all given their history – particularly that Kat deliberately didn’t ask him personal questions – Kat is angry that he didn’t tell her his full name is Ryan “Mac” Mackenzie.
Fortunately, the discord settles quickly and they commence a friends-with-benefits relationship which gradually morphs into the forever kind. There really isn’t anything keeping them apart. I kept waiting for the thing to happen which would put tension on the relationship. When it came – very late in the book – it was unexpected and the story briefly dipped into romantic suspense territory.
I liked Kat the badass and she seemed to morph into someone else during the course of Blush for Me. For example, she had long said she never wanted children. I really wanted to read about a heroine who didn’t want kids and that was okay. But guess what? Over the course of the story it’s clear she’s changing her mind.
Then there’s chapter 17. The night before Kat’s 30th birthday, the gang goes out to a bar for drinks and dancing. Mia, Kat’s friend, is asked to dance by a hot guy and three nearby women give her the side-eye. This chapter is told from Mac’s POV (first person, present tense) so the listener is in his head the whole time. He refers to them, as “Slut One”, “Slut Two” and “Slut Three”. There is a group discussion about the women being dressed “like hookers” and the females present do nothing to push back on that assumption. These women are wearing “too short” dresses; therefore they are sluts. They are also mean so I guess it’s okay to call them sluts? (Except not really).
A confrontation occurs between “Slut One” and Kat near where the group of friends is sitting. “Slut One” tells Mia to keep her “fat ass” away from the hot guy from before. Kat and the other woman get into an argument wherein “Slut One” repeats her assertion that curvy Mia is “fat” and Kat tells the woman she is “ugly”.
In the next chapter, told from Kat’s POV, she reflects that she doesn’t understand why women are so mean to each other. Oh the irony.
Do I need to spell this out? The heroines aren’t sluts because they enjoy sex, have “sexcations” or are sex positive. The “mean girls” aren’t sluts because they wear short dresses. Why is this hard??
Sebastian York’s narration was, as usual, entertaining and skilful. I did pick up a couple of times where Kat was incorrectly called “Kate” and there was a bit of conversational confusion in one or two sections as well, where the context told me Mac spoke but it was voiced as Kat or vice versa. While they should have been picked up in edits, they were fairly trivial as far as criticisms go. Otherwise, his performance was very good.
Ms. Craden suffered from not being Arielle de Lisle unfortunately. The publisher, for whatever reason, decided to go with Abby Craden in lieu of Ms. de Lisle for this third book and that put Ms. Craden at a disadvantage. One of the things I loved about Ms. de Lisle’s narration was the distinctive voices she gave to the five women who form the basis of the series. Kat’s voice was deep and smoky – and completely different to the way Ms. Craden depicted her. De Lisle’s Addy had a mid-range sound but in Ms. Craden’s performance, she was more giggly-airhead which didn’t fit my mental picture at all. I could go on. Even so, Ms. Craden’s performance wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I had been expecting.
All five women who co-own Seduction feature strongly in each book of the series. The heroes are, pretty much, new each book. So I’m not bothered by a change in male narrator for the series (though Sebastian York has narrated books one and three). But it would have been nice to stick with one female narrator throughout.
The narration was entertaining enough, even with the mismatch of my expectation and the reality. Had the story been more compelling and absent the events of chapter 17, I’d have rated it more highly. As it is, chapter 17 alone drops the grade.
Book Content: C-
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: Minimal
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harper Audio
Blush for Me was provided to AudioGals by Harper Audio for a review.