Staking His Claim (A Line of Duty Novel) (Entangled Brazen) - Tessa Bailey

We've been introduced to Matt; strong, silent NYPD ESU sniper, best friend to Daniel Chase and Brent Mason, and Lucy, Brent's little sister who we've heard of, but never met, in previous books in the Line of Duty series .  Even though the MCs have been told about one another, they've never met and have no idea what each looks like. Upon meeting there's lust at first sight.  Lucy knows Matt would never betray her brother by getting involved with her so she lies about who she really is to get what she wants; Matt.  Matt finds out who Lucy really is fairly quickly and believes he can't pursue a relationship with Lucy because...reasons.

 

Staking His Claim is a hot, sexy novella-length romp.  If you're looking for an erotic short that'll make your e-reader spontaneously combust...

But if you want something deep and well-developed this isn't the story for you.  

 There's a sexy motel hook up between these two within hours of meeting and within a week they are declaring, I love yous - after some senseless drama, of course. 

I'm not usually a big fan of insta-love or insta-sex, but in a novella I'll let my disdain for the trope slide.  So my issues with SHC weren't related to this.  Allow me to explain...

 

From the the moment he laid eyes on Lucy, Matt's having very naughty fantasies about her.  There are hints to some darker desires that Matt seems to carry some shame about and have seemingly been the reason for the demise of a past relationship.  I thought Matt was going to turn out to be a seriously depraved, dominant alpha-hole of some sort, but his darkest desires were pretty tame and Matt is nothing close to an alpha-hole.

The whole thing with why Matt thinks he can't be with Lucy fell flat for me.  None of Matt's issues seemed big enough for the level of shame and insecurity he carries; especially considering Lucy is an oh-so-willing partner in every instance.  

 

Some other holes in the story along the way...

- Hayden, Brent's fiancée, lies for Lucy and it never comes up again.  

- Brent never asks where Lucy's roommate is, with whom Lucy was supposed to be visiting NYC.

- Brent sees Lucy as a wild child nuisance based on antics during her younger years.  Brent is completely out of touch with who Lucy is now and Lucy does absolutely nothing to correct his impression. Brent and Lucy never have a discussion.  Matt never corrects Brent. Nothing.  

- There wasn't much substance to Matt and Lucy's relationship besides hot sex.  The ILY's not only came quickly but I couldn't see what they were based on since these two hadn't spent much time interacting beyond the sexy times.  

- Matt and Lucy sucked at communicating.  Matt thinks Lucy can't accept his bedroom games and Lucy thinks Matt just wants her for casual sexy times.  We have to wait until the very last chapter for them to finally get on the same page and TALK like the adults they are supposed to be.

 

I had to suspend disbelief on A LOT here; not unlike many novellas, I guess. I like Tessa Bailey's writing; had this novella been longer or filled in more of the aforementioned holes, I have no doubt I would have rated it higher as I did with the other books in this series.