Okay, I was so looking forward to this book that I snapped it up as soon as it was available and pretty much dropped everything to read it. I really loved the first novella Shameless and absolutely adored Emery. Not to mention how much I enjoyed the rather smutty story and the fantastic twist. When I heard that Not Guilty is the story from the mysterious woman in red’s perspective and then continues into a novel that expands the story and characters I was even more pumped. So I read it. I didn’t like it. I was gutted. The swagger and charm of Emery isn’t as apparent as this is all from Claire’s first person POV. And I loved Emery. Stupid Claire. 😦
Because I usually love Kris Bryant (Brit Ryder’s alter ego) books, I thought maybe it was me so I gave it another try. Second time was the charm. I enjoyed this much more the second time and I’m really glad I gave it another shot (note to self, stop setting up expecations and just go ahead and read what the author wants to write). I still miss Emery … and i think I was so set on a story focused on her that I didn’t give Claire the proper chance.
As a newly appointed Judge, Claire is hyper vigilant of reputation and not causing scandal – she’s so reserved and private that she fits the ice queen mold. But underneath that exterior is a woman of rather immense appetites (wink wink nudge nudge) and her unconventional rendezvous with Emery starts to chip away at her ideas of what and who she wants out of life. Claire’s an interesting character that at first I found was a bit bitchy and stand-offish but she grew on me. I think that there might have been a bit of a miss on developing her more as the bulk of the book was focused on her uninhibited love of good sex. As much as I did enjoy the book on the second go, I still have regrets around Emery’s character – she was so charming and roguish in Shameless and the other short story from BSB, that she felt flat and one dimensional in the book. Not having her POV was a miss and it may have given the story arc a bit more.
As Brit Ryder, the author writes a great sexapalooza. There’s a plot, there are characters, there are arcs, but there is sex. Lots of sex. Lots of sweaty sex. The change of POV from the original novella might give you pause, but it’s a good read if you are looking for a smutty bit of fun.
Overall, on the second read, I enjoyed this one.