Risking it All by Tessa Bailey

Risking it All by Tessa BaileyRisking it All by Tessa Bailey
Series: Crossing the Line, #1
Published by Entangled: Select on January 27th 2015
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon

NYPD detective Seraphia Newsom will avenge her brother’s death at any cost. Even if it means insinuating herself into a rough, Brooklyn street gang and going so far undercover, she’s not sure she’ll be able to get out. Every minute she spends in their midst means the clock ticking down on her life, especially when she overhears something that could get her killed.
Bowen Driscol is the heir to a crime enterprise. He never asked for the job, but with his father behind bars, he has no choice but to step in and keep the operation running. But when the NYPD blackmails him with a piece of damning information in exchange for aiding an undercover cop, he finds himself on the other side of the law for the first time in his life.
Bowen knows the danger Sera is in, and keeping her safe trumps saving his own ass. The problem? She can’t know he’s on her side. And there's the matter of the seriously inconvenient heat sparking between them that's incinerating his resistance. But Sera only sees Bowen's past, and men like him are the reason her brother is dead. If they're to get out alive, he'll have to risk exposing the man beneath, and hope to hell he doesn't blow the whole operation in the process.

There’s a lot that’s shaping up to be commendable about the Crossing the Line series, if I’m to be grudgingly honest. As the series suggests, these aren’t squeaky clean H/h we’ll be reading about but characters with dubious moral centres who have generously dipped their feet into criminal activities. The ultimate dilemma for them, if I’m to guess where this is going for every book, would be how they could redraw their own moral boundaries and allegiances and come out stronger for it (and on the better side) by the end of the book.

With much angst and hard, near-acrobatic sex along the way.

As always, Tessa Bailey’s strength lies in her deft handling of relationships; in fact, she excels in crafting and drawing out twisted ones in which obsession and lust fuel the sex scenes that later also tend to get mistaken as love. I did enjoy the depth Ms Bailey attempts to give Bowen but Sera feels too innocent, naive and swayed by her emotions to be a believable undercover cop. 3 years on the force despite the buttoned-up and repressed burdens of a Catholic upbringing would surely have toughened her beyond giving into nipple-swelling moments each time she shared a smouldering look with Bowen?

I’m rather disappointed however, to find that there’s little deviation from the formulaic alpha male that I’ve seen repeated across her books: hot, dirty-talking, sexually forceful and dominant – only that they skirt the fine lines between right and wrong here. A virginal heroine is also like a hark back to the early versions of Mills and Boons where heaving bosoms and hysterical mood swings are the precursors to the all-important deflowering moment. Please, Ms. Bailey, give us a conflicted man who doesn’t see the need to screw everything in sight because he can’t commit or a controlled heroine who wears fluff bunnies to bed but not in her head.