Monday, February 4, 2013

The Red Diary by Toni Blake

Sun, sand, and one woman's private fantasies recorded in a seductive red book . . .

Prim and proper Lauren Ash has a secret side no one else sees—she records her sexual fantasies, in intimate detail, in a very personal book meant for her eyes only.

When hired-hand Nick Armstrong finds the red diary, he's shocked…and aroused. Never before has he come across anything so private—or so sensual. And given the way the Ash family has hurt his, he soon begins to see this as a potent weapon for righting an old wrong. Wouldn't it serve the haughty Lauren right if he used her own fantasies to seduce her, make her fall in love, and then break her heart?

But there's much more to Lauren than Nick expects, and before he quite realizes it, he's opening himself—and his heart—to her. Can Nick let go of the past and surrender to Lauren, body and soul?

The Red Diary

This is one of Toni Blake’s earlier novels, written in 2004 and recently re-released. It's a very steamy read and while there were things I loved, there were things I didn’t love, but still, all-in-all, an enjoyable story.

The plot:

Lauren Ash is the daughter of Ash Builders owner, Henry Ash. On the outside she’s prim and proper, but Lauren has a naughty secret – her red diary, in which she pens all her deepest, most erotic fantasies, never in her wildest dreams thinking that anyone else will ever read them.

Nick Armstrong is the owner of Horizon Painters, and he has a secret too. His company has been hired to paint Lauren’s house and Nick takes the job himself, wanting a glimpse of her life – a life that should have been his. But twenty years ago Lauren’s father cheated Nick’s father out of his half of the business, and now just a glimpse of the life he missed out on isn’t enough. Now Nick wants revenge, and he thinks he might just have found the way to get it – Lauren’s diary.

The characters:

Nick is a likeable character - very sexy, very smart - though I wasn’t completely on board with his reasons for wanting revenge, or the way he was going about getting it. But, he’s a man with a lot on his plate: running his own company, and helping support his sister Elaine and handicapped brother Davy. And he's got a lot on his mind: the grudge he’s been holding onto, one that’s turning him into a bitter, angry man.

Lauren’s character started out very weak, in my mind. She was easily led around by her friend, Carolyn, never really standing up for herself or making her own wants known. As the story progresses, she becomes a much stronger woman, but still, I never really connected with her.

The story:

As I said, this is a very sexy story, but the things I most enjoyed about it had nothing to do with sex, or our hero and heroine. What tugged at my heart and kept me turning the pages was the tragic story of Nick’s younger brother, Davy. He’s got such a sweet boy's heart and soul, trapped in a man’s body, after suffering a horrific, brain injury. It was the time I spent getting to know him, his likes and his interests, that really had my attention. What an emotional side-story his is.

The bottom line:

I'm a huge fan of Toni Blake's Destiny series, as well as her H.O.T. Cops series written as Lacey Alexander, and while I really did enjoy The Red Diary, I didn't love it. I had issues with Nick's sneaking around Lauren's house, reading her diary and plotting his revenge on this woman who had nothing to do with her father's deception. I also had issues with Lauren, in general. I found myself more interested in the secondary story-lines than that of our hero and heroine.

My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of The Red Diary in exchange for an honest review.

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