Initial thoughts: Thank you Kyra Davis for writing an erotic serial tale that actually turned out very nicely, at least in its first part. Probably one of the best ones I've read as of late.
I originally finished this book on January 9th, 2013, and recently re-read it in June, and the story was just as strong as I remembered it being when I finished the work. One thing to bear in mind in this reflection: this is the first part of a serial novel. I read this as it's own work in galley form, so my impressions will probably be different from someone who peruses the complete work.
A few things to start with: some of you know that I do not really like stories of cheating spouses or indecisive characters. But usually, if I can see inside the head of a character and understand their sentiments through the work, I can still usually like the characters and story for what they offer to the table. To me, "Just One Night: The Stranger" was a story of a woman who falls in the hands of a lover that makes her feel alive, question her structured life, and then become a toggle in power plays that ultimately come to a head at the end of the work, leaving a cliff hanger where anything could happen.
The writing in this is beautifully crafted in its contrast throughout. Kasie's urged by a friend (Simone) in the beginning to "sleep with a stranger", and while I winced at the suggestions that Simone offered, I did admit I felt the chemistry between Kasie and Robert Dade. Kasie meant for the night in Vegas to stay secret, forgotten. At least until her new client back at home, offering the chance of a lifetime in her company, turns out to the same guy she slept with.
From there, it's a war of emotions inside Kasie, and I felt they were palpable for the scenario presented. Kasie's drawn into the chemistry that she has with Robert, but she's torn for her affections and stable life with Dave. I thought that the narrative did a nice job showing the contrast in her conflicts, having her realize how wrong her actions were, but at the same time coming to terms gradually with the realization that her life wasn't what she wanted it to be. Did I think it was morally right on her part? No. Did I think she was silly for not taking the opportunities to tell her fiance what happened? Yes, absolutely. But at the same time, I could suspend my disbelief because the story carried the narrative well enough to toggle her affections for both men, and also note her distrust in going with someone who may give her lust, but didn't give her the stability, comfort, and level of expectations of a life she'd already known.
But then it all build up to a rather tense ending. Holy crud. I was probably more surprised on my first read through of this, because I didn't see it coming, but the second read through confirmed that it was an interesting way to end it and lead off into the next story, because it made me realize the role of the power play, and why Kasie made the decision she did. Kasie always came across as the person to choose some familiar constricted sense of stability over uncertainty, so that was a factor in why she made the decision she did. Even if she knows it will cost her. I don't think it was a decision based on love, but rather going back to own up to her actions and try to salvage something that she's on the verge of losing.
As to what it will cost her, I'm looking forward to seeing what that promises in the next book. "The Stranger" is an interesting moral play on the strings of lust, power, and stability, with erotic go-betweens. I'm definitely going to read the next part of this story to see where it goes, and I hope it's something that can be palpable based on this first story. Very well written, intense, and worth the read.
Overall score: 3.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Pocket Star.