This book came from NetGalley, and I will never give you less than an honest review, no matter its source. I do provide informational and purchase links to make it more convenient for you to access the book. I also receive a percentage of the sale if you use one of my links to buy it. And that's not enough money to be less than truthful *grin*.
On My Knees
by Julie Kenner
Genres: Erotic Romance
Second in the Stark International Trilogy erotic romance series, which is a spin-off from Kenner’s Stark Trilogy series, with On My Knees revolving around Jackson Steele and Sylvia Brooks in Los Angeles.
This ARC was sent to me by NetGalley and Bantam for an honest review.
It starts off interestingly, but Kenner’s use of the present tense first person drove me nuts. I hate that screenplay perspective, and it does color how I perceive the story. Do keep that in mind as you read my review. There’s a bit later on in which Kenner adds a third-person limited point-of-view that sets me reeling and makes it even worse. Why not simply repeat the first person POV with Jackson instead of leaping into a completely different style of voice?
Nor does it help that Kenner is mostly tell and so very little show, as she tells us how passionate Jackson and Sylvia get. I kept slowing down to read, trying to get into the action, and it simply wasn’t working for me. Yes, I do think it’s that first person POV that puts me off. It sounds like she’s giving him instructions. Or the screenplay is.
I’m sorry, I ain’t buyin’ Damien’s reasons for firing Jackson. It screams of knee-jerk reaction, and if Damien thinks Jeremiah was a lousy father, doesn’t he figure that Jackson might think the same way? After all, this father figure spent the great majority of his time with Damien and not Jackson. Why would Damien think Jackson would do anything for their father? What’s with that comment Jackson makes about “moving to the whim of Damien”? That doesn’t ring true, either.
I’m not buying that Damien is one of the richest men in the world. Don’t such men usually have a variety of businesses in which they’re involved?
I love this phrase about Jackson’s work:
“…making the structures seem organic, as if they were part of the land and the sea.”
The conflict is good with multiple layers: Syl’s past and her family’s part in it, Jackson’s childhood and how he channels his need for control, and Damien’s own traumas. It’s Jackson’s need to protect Sylvia as well as her own need to protect her brother, although, I did get tired of Sylvia’s whining.
I did like Jackson’s understanding about Sylvia wanting to stay on. And yeah, part of me wanted her to quit in high dudgeon, but this truly was the better action on her part. Just as her encouragement of Jackson to fight for what he wants is also the best choice.
Crack. Me. Up. I loved it, lol. Sylvia is getting so hot and steamy with Jackson, telling him she knows what he wants, oh, baby, and then Kenner gets me to spew my coffee as I read those next lines. Oh, man. I’m laughing all over again. Oh, yeah, this here is a woman who knows her man. “…porn for architects…”??
What Jackson does with those photographs is out of line with his character. I’m guessing that Kenner needed to get a move on with the drama.
The current (and best) choice of architect for The Resort at Cortez was Jackson Steele, and Sylvia is thrilled to be working with him. Until that rug gets pulled out from under both of them.
It was a star opportunity for each of them: Jackson for the opportunity to work on such a fabulous project, tailor-made for an architect with imagination and Sylvia for the opportunity to move up in the company, working with the man she loves.
If the two of them can only survive their dread secrets.
Sylvia “Elle” Brooks is a woman with secrets she can’t acknowledge and a love for Jackson Steele. She’s also Damien Stark’s personal assistant and the project manager for the Cortez project. Ethan is the beloved brother who would have died without Sylvia’s sacrifice. Cass is Syl’s best friend. Zee is Cass’ current lover. Siobhan is the longtime girlfriend who dumped Cass. I love Cass’ idea of a Halloween costume, lol. Joy is one of Cass’ employees at Totally Tattoo.
Jackson Steele is the unacknowledged bastard son of Jeremiah Stark, Damien’s father. And the very acknowledged starchitect for a wet-dream-come-true project. His company is based in New York City, and he’s living on his boat, the Veronica while in L.A. Clay Sutter is an old friend to whose gym Jackson belongs and who knows where the bare knuckle fights are. Penny is his mother.
A real estate developer, Damien Stark is one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men, and married to Nikki. Carol Stark was his mother and the one who brought the money into the family. The Stark Children’s Foundation provides play- and sports-based therapy to victims of child abuse; Stacey is its assistant director. The Stark Education Foundation provides opportunities for kids with a science aptitude.
Charles Maynard is Stark’s lawyer; Ollie McKee is one of his associates. Ryan Hunter is Stark International’s security chief. Jamie Archer is his girlfriend. The British Aiden Ward is Sylvia’s immediate supervisor and the vice-president of Stark Real Estate Development where Karen is the receptionist. Trent Leiter is in charge of all projects in the Southern California area and directly under Aiden. Rachel Peters is Damien’s second assistant who’s dating Trent. Preston Rhodes is head of acquisition for Stark Applied Technology. Evelyn Dodge is a friend of Damien’s and his former agent with a good sense for PR. Lauren Crane is a temporary assistant to Jackson. Joan is the manager of the graphics department. Cheng is the president of Stark Manufacturing in Hong Kong.
Westerfield is a hot ‘n happenin’ club that happens to be Stark-owned. Glau was the first architect on the Cortez project. Nathan Dean is a great architect and had been a friend of Damien’s. Phillip Traynor and Allison Monro are potential architects. Pratt & Associates is a private investigations firm Stark uses to perform background checks.
Megan Fletcher was married to Tony. Ronnie is her three-year-old “daughter”. Amelia and her twin, Carolyn, died under a cloud. Megan’s father was Arvin Fletcher, a big land developer in Santa Fe. David and Betty are Megan’s maternal grandparents.
Robert Cabot Reed is a movie producer and director these days. He used to do photography. Graham Elliott is a big star in Hollywood and all set to play Jackson’s part in the architectural murder mystery. Reggie Gale was Sylvia’s old boss in Atlanta. Dallas Sykes is an investor in Cortez; he’s also a gorgeous tabloid-friendly department store mogul.
Detectives Parker and Jamison are with Santa Fe PD.
Phil is the bartender at Jackson’s favorite hotel. Joe is the doorman in Stark’s apartment building. Wyatt Royce is a photographer who is teaching Nikki and Sylvia how to use a camera.
The Cover and Title
The cover is yummy with a six-pack-plus bare chest exposed under that open white button-down and a hint of black suit jacket. The background appears with an abstract splotch of sun just before it sets down behind the silhouette of a hill behind Jackson.
The title could be applied to most any romance story with a pretension to eroticism, as many a woman would be On My Knees before her man. In Syl’s case, she’d rather Jackson pound into her than at those bare knuckle fights.