"Two characters coming together to learn to trust each other and let go of their pasts"
Reviewed by Tonya Callihan
Posted June 22, 2009
Sierra Donovan has worked hard her entire life. She has a
successful business with her best friend, Belle. But she
also has secrets in her closet that could ruin her
reputation and her life. Now Sierra is getting perverted
pictures from a stalker.
Reece Carter, a cowboy from Kentucky and someone Sierra had
a wild encounter with, agrees to protect Sierra. And Reece
also has a few things in his closet that he feels he needs
to reveal to Sierra. But when she throws them up in his
face things get heated.
When Reece starts poking around Sierra's past and opening
doors she thought she had firmly shut, Sierra must make a
decision to trust Reece with everything or nothing at all.
When Sierra is in danger can she count on Reece to be her
white knight and rescue her? Will he stay put in Los
Angeles or will he expect Sierra to move back to Kentucky
Anymore when I think Harlequin Blaze I think Tawny Weber.
When I think Tawny Weber I think of sizzling sex scenes
that make your toes curl, I think of strong characters,
overpowering emotion, sinfully spicy, and a satisfying
read. And boy did she ever deliver with Going Down Hard.
The characters are free and comfortable with their own
sexuality to explore, taunt, and tease each other and the
readers. This story has a sexy, sweet cowboy, Reece, who
gives his all to protect Sierra. He teaches her to trust
herself and to trust him. He teaches her that even when
she thinks a bully is out of her life, they aren't until
she faces them and fights. I cannot wait to read more from
Sierra Donovan is flying high on her company's rising
success. Her bonus? Another sexy one-night stand with cowboy
Reece Carter—also known as the best sex she's ever had.
But when sick blackmail photos start to show up, fiercely
self-reliant Sierra suddenly finds herself needing a
twenty-four-hour bodyguard. Who better than
cowboy-turned-security-specialist Reece Carter?
Reece is tall, dark and dangerous…and he's getting in
Sierra's take-charge way. But, oh god, can he make every
single nerve ending on her body sizzle.
Sierra soon realizes that coming home to great sex each
night has its benefits. That is, as long as her bodyguard
can keep her alive to enjoy it….
ExcerptIt wasn't every day a woman got to see her naked self coated
in chocolate and being licked like an ice cream cone by a
dozen people. Apparently hot fudge was the syrup of choice
for an orgy.
Cringing, Sierra Donovan peered at the grainy
black-and-white eight-by-ten photo starring her and her
twelve new best friends. Struggling to be objective instead
of giving in to the terror taking hold in her belly, she
forced herself to consider whether the pile of naked bodies
was supposed to be sexy.
She was no orgy expert, but wouldn't it be a little hard to
get off when you had no idea who was groping what?
Cellophane crinkled loudly in the silence as she clenched
another piece of candy in her fingers. Unable to deny
herself the sugary comfort, she unwrapped the butterscotch
sweet and popped it in her mouth as she squinted at the
picture. Which body was supposed to be hers? Was she the one
between the three guys or was she holding the dripping spoon
in her hand?
"Sierra, have you got a second?"
She managed to stifle her scream by crunching down on the
butterscotch candy. But she couldn' t stop her heart from
pounding so hard it had to be stretching her bra strap.
Coughing a little, Sierra tossed the picture into her desk
drawer and slammed it shut. Giving her best friend a stiff
smile she tried to pretend she wasn't having a total
freak-out. "Sure," she said. "What do you need?"
Belle Forsham was Sierra's partner in Eventfully Yours, the
premier event planning company in Southern California. She
was also one hell of a savvy lady. She took one look at
Sierra's cheesy smile, hands clasped schoolgirl-perfect on
the desk, and the pile of candy wrappers overflowing the
trash can. Then she raised a platinum brow and sauntered
over to the desk, tucking the files she carried under one arm.
"Give," she said, holding out her hand.
"Have I told you lately how great that rock looks?" Sierra
said to stall answering and gestured to Belle's sparkling
new engagement ring.
"It is gorgeous, isn't it?" Belle agreed with a sappy smile,
taking a second to splay her fingers in order to catch the
light with her diamond. If Sierra wasn't a total cynic,
she'd have been a smidge envious of her friend's happiness.
But envy was pointless. Besides, finding long-term romantic
happiness was as rare as being hit by lightning. In Belle's
case, she'd missed out the first time around, then
freakishly had a second chance. Belle and the man she'd left
at the altar six years ago were now basking in the glow of
It gave Sierra a warm, cuddly feeling. Which was bizarre,
since she was definitely not a warm, cuddly type of gal. But
for her best friend? She'd take up knitting sweaters for
teddy bears to prove her happiness.
Belle sat in the cushy chair on the other side of Sierra's
cherrywood desk and tucked the files next to her. Kicking
off her Jimmy Choos, she curled her feet under her and
settled back like she was ready to chat.
The rock-hard tension in Sierra's neck and shoulders eased
just a little. Whew, the distraction with the ring had
worked. Sure, they'd probably have to talk wedding plans
now, but Sierra's forte was planning fancy events so that
wasn't much of a hardship. She held back on the sigh of
relief, though. No point tipping Belle off.
"I've changed my mind from pastels for the bridesmaids to
jewel tones," Belle mused, excitement clear on her doll-like
face. "I think you'll look great in sapphire or amethyst
silk." Even though the wedding was only three months away,
she was still changing things around daily. She arched a
brow. "Of course, you look good in anything. Or nothing. I
take it you're naked in this picture, too?"
Sierra blinked twice. Then she sighed. So much for distraction.
"Does it matter? So some idiot got their hands on a photo
editing program. Obviously they need a lot of practice.
Yesterday my head was on sideways, remember?"
The photos, all sexually explicit, all poorly composed with
Sierra's face pasted in, had started arriving two months
ago. At first, when only one a week showed up, she'd hidden
them from Belle since her partner was dealing with a big job
and even bigger romance. But for the past two weeks they'd
been coming daily. And the perv behind them was getting good
enough with photo editing that the photos were starting to
make Sierra queasy. Orgies were bad enough, but yesterday's
picture had involved farm animals.
Today he'd added commentary.
Soon everyone will know there's nothing sweet about you,
was digitally typed over the image.
She was terrified.
But she wasn't about to admit it. Not even to Belle. Nope,
Tough Girl 101. To maintain control, all vulnerability had
to be hidden. Even if these stupid pictures were to blame
for her new two-tube-a-week concealer habit to hide the dark
circles brought on from sleep deprivation.
"Give," Belle demanded.
With a grimace Sierra yanked open her drawer and tossed the
eight-by-ten across the desk. She watched the glossy paper
slide toward her friend, the image even more bizarre upside
"Oh my…" Belle's lips moved as she silently counted. "Twelve
at once? How do they keep from getting squished, do you think?"
"Good lower body strength," Sierra deadpanned.
Not wanting to watch Belle analyze the creepy picture,
Sierra flicked her mouse to take her laptop out of
hibernation. Pretending the words weren't blurred and shaky,
she tried to focus on her Outlook schedule. They had three
events scheduled this week. Two birthday celebrations and a
store opening on Rodeo Drive. A signing meeting with a
publisher determined to launch with a bang and a pile of
billing to get out. Her favorite outlet store would get a
delivery of basics on Wednesday, too. With this many events,
she needed to keep up appearances, and for her that meant
scouring sales. Busy, busy.
She blinked and let the jobs run through her head, the
details calming her like no platitudes or assurances could.
This she could control. And control was primary for Sierra.
Ambitious, outspoken and self-confident, she knew she was
damned good at what she did. Her gaze slipped over to
Belle's perusal of the latest pervy pic and she clenched her
These pictures weren't something she could control, though.
And they were fast spinning from a minor irritation into a
major source of anxiety. If she wasn't careful, she'd end up
having panic attacks.
"Sierra, we need to take these to the police."
Yep, there it was. Panic. Sierra's vision blurred to black
around the edges, and she felt her heart sprint into high
gear. No. She wasn't doing this. Two deep, calming breaths
while she focused on her wiggling toes, lovingly encased in
the prized pair of red suede Manolos she'd scrimped and
saved for eight months to buy. That helped her push away the
"No. This is just some dumbass perv playing games, Belle.
I'm not giving him the satisfaction of running to the cops."
"This isn't a game," Belle insisted. "There's a motive
behind it. Someone is going to a lot of trouble to terrorize
you. Now they're adding threats."
"Commentary," Sierra contradicted, as if it didn't matter.
"Look, it's probably just one of our competitors trying to
shake us up, you know? He'd have started on you except you
have that hottie fiancé you're busy keeping company with."
They both knew that was a slim possibility. The pictures had
started to arrive before Belle hooked up with Mitch. While
she'd been working on his account, as a matter of fact.
Belle didn't call her on it, though. She just gave Sierra a
long, considering look. "How do you know the perv's a he?"
Sierra sneered and poked her finger at the picture still in
Belle's hand. "Look at the size of those boobs. Not anything
under a C cup there. Totally guy-fantasy crap."
"I agree that it's probably the competition," Belle said.
"We're taking over Southern California and kicking ass."
Then she tilted her head and added, "But he is
getting serious. These pictures are coming daily."
Sierra shrugged, trying to blow off the concern. She
couldn't, though. Not all of it. After all, just knowing
Belle cared enough to worry about her meant she owed it to
her friend to do whatever it took to assuage those fears.
"Serious or not," Sierra said, "I'm not letting some freak
push me around. What am I supposed to tell the cops, anyway?
That someone is sending me dirty pictures? And now he's
They'd probably say it was an ex-lover trying to get some
kind of revenge. And since she was a healthy
twenty-seven-year-old woman, she had a nice list of
ex-lovers to choose from. None were stupid or tasteless
enough to pull a stunt like this, though. After all, she
prided herself in being extremely selective about who she
let into her life. Or her bed.
"When did you get your hair cut?" Belle asked.
Sierra blinked again. Usually Belle was much better at the
tactful subject changes. Telling herself she was glad to
move on and not hurt that her best friend had given up so
easily, Sierra brushed her fingers over the blunt edges of
her sable hair. "Last week. Tuesday, I think."
After years of flat ironing, special shampoos and blow-dries
to pamper her long hair, she'd gone for a shoulder-length
style that actually worked with her waves. She'd been afraid
it would be too casual, but instead it softened her sharp
features and added an air of approachability she'd never had
before. If it snagged more clients, it worked for her.
"Tuesday?" Belle repeated flatly.
"Right, why? What's the big deal?"
Belle turned the paper so it faced Sierra and tapped one
French-tipped nail at her image. "Apparently you blew off
dinner at my place to spend this last weekend in a kinky
Sierra's stomach lurched and breath stuck in her throat.
Well, shit. She'd been concentrating so hard on not being
concerned, she'd totally overlooked the fact that her orgy
debut featured her new hairstyle.
She sucked in her lower lip and tried to find an
explanation. But her mind was blank.
"I'm calling the cops," Belle stated adamantly. "This guy is
straight up stalking you."
Sierra rubbed a lock of dark hair with her fingers. Before,
she'd tried to write the pictures off as irritating and a
little obnoxious. She really had figured it was a competitor
trying to shake her up. Or, worst-case scenario, a guy with
a twisted way of leading up to hitting on her. But now? She
didn't know why she was more worried now, but she was.
She should warn Belle it wouldn't matter, though. Cops never
believed her. Especially when it came to anything sexual. It
was as if they took one look at her and figured she was a
liar. She'd never understood why, either. She didn't dress
provocatively, she didn't flirt randomly, and as much as she
liked sex, she could hardly be termed promiscuous.
But when she'd been sexually harassed by her uncle? God, how
many times had she called the police as a teenager, asking
for protection against the nasty man's advances? His creepy
comments, his filthy suggestions and offers. His attempts to
corner her, to touch her. She'd dodged him as often as
possible, and when dodging hadn't been possible…
Well, suffice it to say, the one time he'd actually managed
to shove his hand down her top, she'd shoved him
down the stairs. The cops hadn't thought much of that,
either. Believing her aunt's assertion that she was a mouthy
brat, troubled by her mother's recent death and acting out,
they'd arrested her for assault. Sierra hadbeen
troubled, heartbroken to lose her beloved mother at
thirteen. But she'd also been so terrified of being
abandoned, she'd acted the perfect child when she'd gone to
live with her aunt and uncle, despite their accusations to
She snatched another candy from the dwindling dish and
popped it into her mouth, letting the sweetness coat her
tongue, distract her. None of that mattered anymore. All
that mattered was that the police weren't going to believe her.
Especially not if they checked her record and saw the
accusations her relatives had used in her arrest. Luckily,
before she'd died, Sierra's mother had arranged and paid for
Sierra to attend a prestigious boarding school starting in
ninth grade. The only reason her aunt and uncle had let her
escape at fourteen was that it wasn' t money out of their
pocket, and the possibility that Sierra might blab to the
country-club set about her uncle's advances made her even
less welcome in their home. Boarding school became her
haven. And once she'd met Belle there, her home.
She knew calling the authorities about the photos was
useless, but somehow the idea still made her feel as if she
were doing something. So she didn't say a word as Belle dialed.
"Okay, the guy I talked to is coming by the office," Belle
said as she hung up the phone. "You have all the pictures in
a file, right?"
"All there in the drawer," Sierra said, barely concealing
her shudder as she unwrapped another piece of candy. If this
kept up, she'd put on ten pounds.
Belle glanced at her watch, then grimaced. "I'm supposed to
meet the CEO of Family Publications in a half hour to
discuss photographers and push her to finally sign this next
round of contracts. Let me make a few phone calls and I'll
rearrange the appointment."
Sierra was shaking her head before Belle even finished
talking. "No way," she protested. "This picture geek isn't
going to upset, change or interfere with Eventfully Yours in
Belle's green eyes rounded at the fierce tone. Her
open-mouthed shock made Sierra sigh.
But dammit, she had too much riding on this deal. She'd
hooked an account big enough, wide-reaching enough that
Eventfully Yours hit it big as a marketing planner as well
as an event planning company. But more importantly, the
income from this job would make her feel like she'd finally
kicked in her part, financially. When they'd started the
company five years ago, Belle had fronted the start-up
money. She'd never blinked or hinted that she minded, but it
still bothered Sierra. After all, Belle was the party girl,
Sierra was the organized brain. They each brought a vital
element to the business, complementing each other's style
and strength. But being able to organize a party for two
thousand and arrange seating wasn't enough to pull her
weight. Sierra needed to pay her way, too.
All her life, she'd been the rich little poor girl. Wealthy
family, very little money of her own. Fancy boarding school,
hand-me-down uniforms. Even now, to keep up with her rich
friends and their lifestyle she shopped with coupons,
scoured outlet sales and vintage stores.
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