Tender Deceit by H.Y. Hanna
Word Count: 67,000 words
Cover Artist: Kim Killion
First love. Second chance.
All they have to do is stay alive...
Following her father's mysterious death in Singapore, Leah leaves her life in London and returns to the island that was her childhood home - braced to confront her past. Toran James may have been the boy her fourteen-year-old heart yearned for, but the magic of stolen glances and first kisses faded with his betrayal.
The enigmatic man she meets upon her return, though, is nothing like her memory, and the past holds more secrets than she realised. Was her father's death really an accident? What was hidden in his study? And why has Toran contacted her again after all these years? Someone is out to silence Leah - and that someone might be the man she is rapidly falling in love with... again.
Tender Deceit is a story of first love getting a second chance. I think...
About the Romance
Through a series of interspersed flashback chapters, we find out about Leah and Toran's first relationship (preteen/teen). It is filled with all of the anticipation and angst that you'd expect with first love. When they meet up years later as adults, it's clear that the chemistry is still there. I really enjoyed the build up of romantic tension between Leah and Toran. It's charged without being explicit.
Tender Deceit ends an upbeat note, but without a clear happily ever after.
About the Suspense
As the chase to uncover the truth about her father's death kicks in, Leah ends up all over Singapore. Her challenges provide the reader with glimpses of the city-state and its culture. Singapore is almost like a character.
Can I just say that Tender Deceit makes me want to visit Singapore wearing pants with an elastic waistband? After eating all of the yummy food, I'd wander around to all of the places that the author described to work off the calories.
As the story progresses, it is appears that Leah and Toran both feel betrayed by each other (stemming from their teen split). Their trust issues help to heighten the book's suspense. I got the impression that there is more to the betrayal angle than they realize.
For me, the story ended with a number of unanswered questions. I'll have to wait for the next book in the series for more answers. I am patting my foot with anticipation. I would definitely read future books in the series.
Read the book and let me know if you want to go to Singapore with me :-)
NOTE: This post is part of the Tender Deceit book blitz tour organized by Bewitching Book Tours. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
He stopped. She had come around the side of the bamboo screen and was standing there shyly, wearing nothing except the T-shirt he had given her. It was big for her, falling to mid-thigh, and barely hinted at the curves underneath, but Toran felt his mouth go dry.
“I couldn’t bear to put my clothes back on,” she said, tugging the hem of the T-shirt downwards. “I’m sorry, this isn’t very—”
“It’s… it’s fine.” Toran swallowed, hard. “You can get into bed, if you like, and cover up with the blankets.”
She walked over to the bed, pulled back the covers, and climbed in. Toran tried not to watch, but he couldn’t keep his eyes off her as she moved, the T-shirt tightening and moulding itself to her body, the hem sliding up to reveal the long length of her bare legs. He took a deep breath and tried to calm his suddenly racing heart. It was embarrassing. He was acting like a fourteen-year-old boy seeing a naked woman for the first time.
He cleared his throat. “Would you like something to eat… or drink?”
Leah shook her head. Her body was propped back against the silk cushions, slack and relaxed in a way that wasn’t quite normal. It was the flunitrazepam still in her system, thought Toran. She turned her head and looked at him and he caught his breath at something in her eyes.
“Toran… I don’t want to be alone.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be right here in the room.”
“Can… can you hold me?”
He swallowed again and moved slowly across the room, turning down the lights as he did so. Kicking off his shoes, he lay down on the bed next to her, putting one arm around her and drawing her close. She nestled into the crook of his arm, her head tucked under his chin. He heard her sigh. Slowly, he tried to make himself relax, to force his mind away from the thought of that soft, pliant body pressed against his.
“Shh,” he said. “Go to sleep.”
She stirred slightly. “I’m not sleepy.” Her hand strayed across his chest and she started drawing circles with her fingertips. Even through the fabric of his shirt, Toran felt her touch like hot needles burning his skin. His muscles bunched tighter and tighter as her fingers crept across his chest.
“Stop that,” he said sharply, grabbing hold of her hand.
She giggled softly, drunkenly. “Don’t you like it?”
He tried to push her gently away, but she rolled up suddenly onto her elbows. Her eyes searched his in the dark.
“Toran… I want you to kiss me.”
He drew his breath in sharply. “Leah—”
“Like you did outside the Raffles. Like that. Hard and desperate.” Her voice was breathless.
“Leah…” Toran felt as if he couldn’t breathe. “I don’t think—”
She put a hesitant hand on his chest. “Don’t… don’t you want me?”
With a groan, Toran pulled her into his arms and brought his lips crushing down on hers. He kissed her hungrily, urgently, and she responded with a passion that surprised him. Her arms crept around his neck, pulling him closer to her, and she arched her body against his, moving it in a way that made him groan even more.
Somehow, his shirt had come off and then his trousers and he shuddered as Leah slid her hands across the skin of his bare back, her nails digging in slightly. The blankets had been pushed down and Leah’s T-shirt had ridden up her hips, exposing her long legs. Toran slid his hand downwards, skimming over her thigh, revelling in the silken feel of her skin. Then he found the hem of her T-shirt and slid his hand underneath, caressing the curve of her waist as his fingers travelled slowly upwards. His thumb brushed the soft curve of her breast and she gasped. Leah whimpered softly and arched even closer.
The sound penetrated the haze in Toran’s head. He stiffened. No, no, not this way. He broke the kiss, took a deep breath and pulled back, gently pushing Leah away from him.
“I’m sorry, Leah, but we can’t… This is wrong.”
She stiffened against him. “Don’t you want me?” she said again, in a small voice.
He let out a shaky breath. “God, yes, Leah. More than you’ll ever know. But not like this. I can’t… I’d be taking advantage of you. You’ve still got the flunitrazepam in your system. One of its common side-effects is that it lowers inhibitions. You’re not yourself at the moment.”
About the Author
Along the way, she somehow managed to pick up a wonderful husband, a huge, slobbery dog, two rescue cats, an assortment of cardboard boxes and a slightly dodgy "trans-atlantic" accent. After graduating from Oxford University, she tried her hand at a variety of jobs before returning to her first love: writing.
She’s the author of the Amazon bestselling children’s mystery series, Big Honey Dog Mysteries, and is now diving into the world of romantic suspense with the launch of Tender Deceit, Book 1 in the First Love Series.
You can find out more about H.Y. Hanna and her books at: http://www.hyhanna.com/ or catch her on Facebook at “H.Y. Hanna” or the Big Honey Dog Mysteries Facebook Page.
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