Author: Rachel Blaufeld
Date of Publication: October 16th 2014
Asher Peterson is a self-made man, owner of the Electric Tunnel, Sin City’s hottest adult entertainment spot. Brazen and formidable in designer T-shirts and motorcycle boots, he seems unflappable whether he’s making his rounds through the decadent decor of the Tunnel, or whipping through the desert heat on his bike. But inside he is a shattered man, desperate to understand what unconditional love from a woman feels like.
Hiding the effects of his emotionally stunted youth behind a gritty persona, and keeping his fractured soul buried deep while seeking out his baser instincts, Asher is convinced he is man enough to leave the past in the past. The only clue to his broken soul is his deep-seated need to provide safety and a good life for emotionally damaged women within the glamorous walls of his strip club.
Fooling himself that he deserves little in life, Asher keeps his big heart tightly guarded with everyone but Sienna Flower, his friend, business partner, and headliner. Until, that is, the night he runs into his childhood friend, Natalie Parker. While trolling a rival strip club, perusing their offerings for his own personal pleasure, he collides with his past. Coming face-to-face with a woman he only knew as a girl, he’s shaken when he finds the dark-haired beauty in a precarious position. Now all grown up, she’s a hardened soul who reminds him of where he came from, and stirs within him the need to protect yet another woman.
Known as Nat to most everyone, Natalie is a single mom to Quinn. But when she’s under the bright spotlights in a thong, she’s known as Natasha or Nataleigh Dallas. A girl who once had everything going for her, she’s now a jaded stripper with only room for her son in her life, and has erected impenetrable barriers around her heart. The strength of those walls is challenged the night a man she has known since childhood steamrolls his way back into her life, flashing those smoky-gray eyes that have always melted her.
A man she has loved from afar since she was a young girl, one who lights fire to her walls, burning deeper, setting everything ablaze––smoldering her.
Asher and Natalie, two people who are equally tormented by their own demons, set out to rescue each other as part-time lovers in a torrid, desperate workplace affair. Thinking they can remain friends while keeping their hearts at a safe distance, they find themselves at odds when their situation morphs into a messy, tangled mess.
Ripping free of each other proves impossible as they learn that the very web that connects them goes much deeper than they ever expected.
Natalie has known Asher, owner of the Electric Tunnel, and her boss, since she was very young, and she has loved him since the day that she met him. Both of Asher's parents had abandoned him - his dad, pretty much at birth, and his mom, when he was around eleven. He then grew up in the same neighborhood as Natalie, so that she was able to follow him and love him, from afar, for years. They grew up in the backyard of the Las Vegas Strip, so they, and all of their friends, have always had it tough - they see the darker side of Vegas.
Natalie has been raising her son, Quinn, for almost ten years, and, in order to raise him the way that she wants, she has been dancing in various strip clubs for the majority of that time. She has always tried to keep him completely separate from that part of her life, so when Asher runs into her and makes her come dance at his club, he and everyone else understand when she never wants Quinn around. Her earlier crush on Asher comes back full force, however, and the two of them begin a physical relationship where both say that they want no strings attached.
At this point, I want to point out that Asher continues sleeping with other women, but Natalie does not. She agrees to a no strings attached relationship, but it has nothing to do with her not wanting to be with Asher and everything with her not thinking that she is enough to keep him with just her. I do not typically like relationships where one of the people continues to see other people like this - it feels too much like cheating, especially since Asher admits that he has feelings for Natalie. Even once they both admit their feelings, and she pushes him away, he continues to sleep with other women while feeling like crap for doing it. The twist with Asher is that he is also into kinky stuff and menages - except with Natalie.
I had a difficult time with this book. The story and the writing are good, but I guess I had a hard time believing that Natalie could keep her life that separate from everyone for five years, once she started dancing at the Electric Tunnel and sleeping with Asher. A few months? Sure. Five years? It just seems really implausible. Asher, as a person, was also just...not really enjoyable for me. I wanted to like him after reading the first book, but...even after admitting his feelings for Natalie, he continued to sleep with other women - even after admitting that he felt bad about it. And yet, we are supposed to believe that he does not need the same kinky stuff with her that he needs with other women? I was getting so irritated with Natalie for constantly pushing Asher away, but, due to his actions, I really understood why she did - for her sake. The secret that she was keeping from him, however, I disagreed with on so many levels, especially after her relationship with Asher over the last five years.
In some ways, each of these characters makes decisions that it is so hard to support, but you understand why they do. It is the direction that their lives have been heading since the day they were born due to living in an area that glorifies sex and the good time and ignores the ugly side of all of that.
Q&A with Rachel:
Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured writing-wise?
I like to write mid-morning when it is quiet and I recently brewed a fresh pot of coffee. I don’t structure my writing day…when I sit to write and it starts flowing, I cancel everything I had originally set. Sad, but I can’t force it, so when it happens, it happens…and I reschedule.
I also like to write a coffee shop. I stick on my head phones, but something about the people drifting in and out helps me?!?!?
FUNNY Story – I was sitting in a coffee place and writing a weird scene and a friend walked in…and because I had my head phones on, I yelled, “Hey, so-and-so, what kind of drug can be mixed with coke to cause a blackout?” And, this woman putting cream in her coffee looked at me like I was crazy, and I responded with, “Oh no, not for me.”
THIS is how real my characters become to me.
What is for you the perfect book hero?
I like bad boys. Really bad boys. Naughty, Dirty, Foul-Mouthed men who know their way around a bedroom and a KITCHEN! Except, preferably one who doesn’t cook bacon. I hate the smell of bacon. I don’t get how that is romantic to smell a pig cooking! HA.
Just give me a cup of java and a donut, and get back in bed.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
THANK you!!! For everything. I wish I could know each and everyone of you possibly and share a donut and coffee with all my readers.
At this point, the moon was waning, the sun about to burst over the horizon, and I began to dread what I would look like in the orange glow of daylight. Not really how I looked, but I feared in the light of day I’d be seen for the traitorous asshole I was.
I wanted to hide in the shadows of the night, to make amends wrapped in the warm glow of the moon and stars against a background of awe, mystery, and suspense. Forgiveness seemed so much more attainable in the shadows, and now brightness was chasing me away, bringing me back to reality where I was meant to live a life without the unconditional support of a woman.
Wasn't that what my mom taught me?
I was in a mental fight with the sun when I heard Natalie speak.
“This is it, Ash. I’m leaving. I know you came here to try and stop me, but you can’t. You can’t always be my protector, boss, friend, and sometimes lover. It’s all too much. Together—separate—it doesn’t matter. It’s too consuming. You’re both my salve and my kryptonite, and I have to get out on my own.”
I wanted to roar, but then remembered the sleeping kid behind her slightly ajar door and her neighbors, who more than likely worked hard at getting a good night’s sleep.
And, my pride.
I stood up, kissed her on the cheek, and walked away. The sun was coming, and I wouldn’t, couldn’t, refused to be exposed in the light of day.
I had laid my heart on the line.
I would be damned if I stood with the hot desert rays burning down on me and begged.
About Rachel Blaufeld:
Rachel Blaufeld is a social worker/entrepreneur/blogger turned author. Fearless about sharing her opinion, Rachel captured the ear of stay-at-home and working moms on her blog, BacknGrooveMom, chronicling her adventures in parenting tweens and inventing a product, often at the same time. She has also blogged for The Huffington Post, Modern Mom, and StartupNation.
Turning her focus on her sometimes wild-and-crazy creative side, it only took Rachel two decades to do exactly what she wanted to do—write a fiction novel. Now she spends way too many hours in local coffee shops plotting her ideas. Her tales may all come with a side of angst and naughtiness, but end lusciously.
Rachel lives around the corner from her childhood home in Pennsylvania with her family and two dogs. Her obsessions include running, coffee, icing-filled doughnuts, antiheroes, and mighty fine epilogues.