07 Oct '12

A Nix Contemporary Review – Test Shot by Cari Quinn (5 Stars)

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Ever since they moved to a different city, the relationship between Aidan and Layla has changed. Together for four years, they used to have be both friends and lovers but now they barely touch. Now most of Layla’s orgasms are courtesy of the sex toys he frequently buys her, furtive bringing herself pleasure whilst he sleeps next to her.
When Aidan discovers her masturbating to a picture of the latest model she wants to sign for the erotic modelling agency for which she works, it sets off a chain events that changes their relationship for ever. He encourages her to invite Sawyer into their bed but he doesn’t want to be involved, he just wants to watch. He can’t give her what she needs anymore, a secret causing him to push away the woman he loves. He rolls the dice, takes the risk and hopes that his plan won’t backfire and push her into the arms of another man.
Sawyer and Layla hit it off straight away and it takes very little convincing to get him into their bed. The chemistry is combustible, the affection very real; in the interest of keeping his secrets, could Aidan have sowed the seeds that will kill the one thing he is trying to save? When things become worse between Aidan and Layla, will she turn to Sawyer to give her the affection she craves? And will Sawyer settle to being a third forever? Or will he push for more?
It you read nothing else from this review, read this paragraph. This book is outstanding. It played with my emotions, tore strips off my heart and left me reeling. I didn’t expect this book to hook me the way that it did and didn’t predict the way the plot turns would leave me ignoring life in general to keep reading right up until the end. The ending is not what I expected either.  I had an idea of where it was going, but found that idea changing with each and every chapter. I can’t say this book made me happy but it certainly made me feel something. It isn’t a easy, chick-lit romance that you devour in a week with a smile on your face through every page. It’s an angsty, emotional, intense read with flawed characters making decisions because of flawed reasoning and suffering greatly because of it. I will reread this book once I get over the way it made me feel the first time round.
These characters can’t stop hurting each other. Aidan is hiding a secret which is putting a wedge between him and Layla. Their relationship is on the verge of collapse, their love for each other the only thing keeping them from admitting the truth to themselves. By suggesting they bring Sawyer into his bed, Aidan thinks he is doing something that will save them, allowing them to stay together with Sawyer filling the gaps he can’t plug himself. Instead, he unintentionally hurts them all.
Layla feels rejected and unloved by the man she is to marry, so she allows herself to be pushed towards Sawyer. Yes, she is attracted to him, but she would be happy to just fantasize. Once he’s in her bed he shows her what a relationship should be like, but there is the constant shadow of Aidan in the corner to make her torture herself over her feelings and keep her unhappy.  Sawyer loves being around her, but isn’t too happy being their third. Aidan creeps him out, but he is willing to put up with him as long as he gets to be close to Layla. Every time they are together, he forgets, for a little while, that she isn’t someone else’s girl and that this isn’t a temporary arrangement. Every time they are apart, it all floods back and then he hurts all over again. Mean while Aidan has to watch another man worm his way into the affections of the one woman who he adores and he can blame no one but himself.
I couldn’t decide what I wanted to happen with this book. At points, I wanted Sawyer and Layla to run off together (I loved them together), in others I wanted a happy ménage and in others I just wanted them all to go their separate ways and find relationships that didn’t cause them pain and pleasure in equal amounts. The only thing I never wanted was Layla and Aidan to go it alone. I did not like Aidan.  His inability to deal with his secrets caused the emotional pain of three people and I couldn’t help see him as an emotionally selfish man. Yes, I felt sympathy for him but this was overshadowed by the anger I had at his complete disregard for anyone else but himself. He was the master puppeteer of this twisted triangle and I wanted him to bugger off.  On reflection, I should also lump some of the blame at the feet of the other two characters for letting their emotions rule and allowing themselves to be treated like they didn’t matter as individuals. As you can tell, this book caused some angst in me, never mind the characters.
This review is turning into a thought dump so I’m going to leave it there. This book was filled with emotional angst, troubled character and a story line which kept me biting my nails throughout. It was a smoking hot, heart wrenching tale of two people trying to cling onto a relationship for all the wrong reasons and the repercussions of a spur of the moment decision that changed their lives forever. 



Nix

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