Kris Bryant is an amazing romance author, but when she is writing as Brit Ryder, the heat factor is so high the pages of the book almost curl up from the heat. I found that out when I read her novella Shameless, and I believe this even more after reading Not Guilty, the sequel to the novella.
In Shameless we meet Emery Pearson and Claire Weaver as the two accidentally meet and have an intense and hot sexual encounter in a museum. We see this story in first person through Emery’s eyes. In the book Not Guilty, we are looking at the tale from Claire’s point of view. Claire is at the museum for a possible one-time-only hookup before she begins her new job as a circuit court judge. She has no time for relationships, and has to be discreet because of her public image as a judge. She never bargained on seeing her one time sexual partner the very next day as a witness in her courtroom. Neither Emery nor Claire seem to want a relationship, but the desire, and yes, lust they share won’t be denied. They decide to try a “discreet sex-only arrangement”, but will that be enough?
Once I started reading this novel, it was hard for me to put it down. I had already met the two main characters in the novella. I connected with Emery then, so it’s good that the novel is told through Claire’s eyes. I will admit to being occasionally frustrated by her refusal to see what she really feels about Emery. It fits her character though, and makes the story more interesting. The secondary characters are equally well-developed and play an important role in the overall story.
This is a tale that starts with lust and gradually morphs into love, though Claire especially fights it tooth and nail. Add in a bit of criminal intrigue, and you have a story that grabs your interest and keeps you reading until the end. The author has done an amazing job weaving together the intricate details of a tale filled with eroticism, romance, and mystery.
Not Guilty could be read as a standalone novel, but I honestly believe you should read the novella first. I think it gives you a better chance of getting to know and connect with these two people, especially Emery. I recommend you read both stories in order. I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review of Not Guilty. I bought Shameless.