Book editor Hannah Levinson couldn’t be happier. This “Nice Jewish Girl” is ready to marry the man she’s longed after for half her life. When her fiancé suggests they audition for Last Fling, a steamy new reality show for engaged couples, she lets herself be swayed. Maybe she’ll learn a thing or two.
Vlad Shustov’s fall from a once-bright career as a competitive figure skater was swift. Now trapped by a shameful past and an uncertain future, “Vlad the Bad” strips for cash. Joining the cast of Last Fling could earn him a fortune—or at least enough to finally leave stripping. But to win the show’s prize, he must seduce an engaged woman, something he can’t even bear the thought of. Hannah’s not like any woman Vlad’s met before. Betrayed by the man she thought she loved and relegated to the ugly-duckling role she’d worked so hard to shed, can she trust there’s more to Vlad than meets the eye? With sleazy TV tactics shattering the last shreds of the contestants’ confidence, they’ll have to believe true happiness is not only possible…it may be looking right at them.
Hannah sighed and shook her head. “I’m not usually such an emotional mess. It’s just this show. This whole situation! Back there…” she flung her arm wide, in the direction of the mainland. “I’m successful. Accomplished. I have a great job. I live in New York City. Here, all anyone cares about is how hot I am. Or more to the point, how hot I’m not!”
Vlad nodded sympathetically. “It’s TV. Unfortunately, sex sells better than other good qualities.”
“Exactly! I can’t compete. I’m not like those other women, and I don’t even want to be. But I have no choice. Not unless I want to lose my fiancé to a scheming bimbo and have the entire nation talking about what a pathetic loser I am. It’s humiliating.”
“You can always learn to be sexy.” Vlad looked her over. “You’ve got the right equipment. All you need is to learn to use it. I am around sexy women all the time. I could coach you. You know…sexy lessons.”
“Sexy lessons?” She had to laugh at that. “I’ve never thought of sexy as a learned skill.”
“It is, though. All about how you carry yourself.” He adjusted his posture and the set of his broad shoulders conveyed a confidence that was undeniably hot.
“And who better to teach me than a guy named Vlad the Bad who takes off his clothes for a living?”
“As Uncle Ivan used to say, it pays to work with best coach you can find.”
She laughed again, but didn’t entirely dismiss the idea. Putting a little strut in her stuff held surprising appeal. Yet what was the catch? A guy who willingly signed on for a trashy show like Last Fling must want something. “And in return?”
He thought a moment and Hannah tensed, afraid of what he might ask. Then he gave a decisive nod. “I want you to read my book. Not just query, synopsis, “sorry not right for us,” but the whole thing. You don’t have to buy, but I want honest, professional critique of how to make it better.”
Honest and professional? Yikes. What would she say if the book was god-awful, which it likely was? He’d pinned so much hope to it, she couldn’t bear to be the one to discourage him. On the other hand, at least she would be gentle and constructive. And if it was good, this was a chance to help him achieve his dream. She imagined taking the book to her boss. Sales and Marketing would drool over this hot Russian male stripper–turned-literary sensation. As would everyone else. And if it kept Jack from Robynne’s clutches, it was worth the risk.
Vlad narrowed his eyes. “So do we have a deal?”
A bit more certain, Hannah laughed and stuck out her hand. “Deal.”
Turning It On is the second book in the Red Hot Russians series but it can be read as a standalone. I haven’t read the first book in this series, but the blurb seemed original and the idea of reading a book set in a reality show world got me curious.The fact that I like hot, broody Russian male characters was just a plus.
Hannah is a book editor and she’s going to marry the man she’s wanted all her life. Jack, her fiancé, works as a lawyer but he always wanted to work as an actor so he convinces Hannah to join a reality show, called Last Fling, after they were invited to it by Eric, a common friend and now screenwriter. Hannah doesn’t really see the point in it but Jack is successful in convincing her that she would be making one of his dreams come true.
Vlad is a male stripper that wants to be a writer and gets invited to the show to be a fling, he hesitates, worried about what kind of man he would have to become to perform the task required, but eventually agrees to do it for the money he can make by participating.
I hated Jack from the very beginning, actually, I can share that I hated pretty much all the characters apart from Vlad and Alison. Even Hannah got on my nerves until she started to have a connection with Vlad, then I slowly warmed up to her.
When I started reading the book, I literally could’t put it down, it was obvious that Jack manipulated Hannah in every aspect and she let him get away with it, always afraid that he would dump her. I felt like I was watching a train wreck and I couldn’t stop looking at it! That’s when I realized that Elizabeth got me totally hooked in the story. I really don’t want to spoil much, but I can say that I loved Hannah and Vlad’s dialogues and Vlad was definitely my favorite character in the book. There were moments when I really didn’t want to know what Jack was doing, or Eric by the way, and just wanted more and more of Vlad!
The reality show guidelines and mind games felt very realistic, the way Vlad helps Hannah to get her self esteem up is sweet and their moments together, even though it’s a slow build relationship, are really good and Vlad’s respect for Hannah is perfect for the all situation. I just wished we got more of Hannah and Vlad’s story and less details on other secondary characters.
If you like reading books about hot Russians and set in a reality show world, you have to read this book.
About the Author
I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I’m a happy girl.
I read a variety of genres– romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.
When I’m not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.