After Hours by Cara McKenna

Title:  After Hours

Series:  N/A

Author:  Cara McKenna

Genre:  Romance

BlurbA dangerous infatuation with a rough and ready man… 
Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing’s prepared her for the physical and emotional demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection—and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who’s more than willing to provide it.
Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she’d never get involved with. She’s seen firsthand, via her mess of a sister, what chaos guys like him can bring into a woman’s life. But she finds herself drawn to him anyway, even when he shows up at her door, not eager to take no for an answer.
What Erin finds even more shocking than Kelly’s indecent proposal is how much she enjoys submitting to his every command. But he can’t play the tough guy indefinitely. If they want to have more than just an affair, both will have to open up and reveal what they truly need.

Thoughts:  Erin Coffey is woman who suddenly finds herself on her own after taking care of her grandmother for the past six years.  In order to support herself – as well as stay near her younger sister – she has taken a job at the Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, even though the thoughts of it intimidate her.  While she is compassionate and caring towards people with mental illnesses, she is a bit scared when thinking of some of the violent episodes and dangerous situations she may find herself in – especially when she is so petite.

Enter Kelly Roback, an orderly that she meets on the first day of her new job.  Keely is hard, rough, and massive, and reminds Erin more of the guys her sister gets involved with rather than her!  But it is obvious from the first that she is fascinated with Kelly – despite the fact that he appears to Erin to fit in more with the patients rather than the staff!  However, Kelly’s appeal wins her over despite her misgivings – especially after they get up close and personal as Kelly participates in her restraint training as part of her new-hire orientation.  And when Kelly offers her a no-strings weekend of wild, uninhibited sex, Erin can’t say no.  Only in Erin’s case her feelings have become much more than just a simple sexual relationship – but is that what they both want?

I thought the premise of the book was really great –  it goes outside the standard romance novel type of format we all are familiar with.  There is a lot of focus on Erin’s experiences within the psychiatric hospital and within the environment there.  Patients dealing with mental illnesses were touched on more in this book than in any other romance that I read, however it does not detract from the main story itself.  The book has what felt to me like touches of BDSM in it – Kelly is into a lot of dominance, demands, and orders in the bedroom – but it never quite steps all the way into that genre.  Some of the scenes flow into some of the dominance/submission scenes that I have encountered in other books, but they never actually refer to each other that way.  And even though Kelly is very dominant, and is even described as mean a few times in the book, he never crosses over the line into being insensitive to her needs and desires like some of the other BDSM novels.  If that is something you are interested in exploring, this might be a good in-between novel that bridges the two genres.

For me, the book started out a bit slow, but still gave you a great introduction to the characters.  There was a lot of build-up in the middle – Erin and Kelly spend their hot, sexy weekend together, they argue, they break-up, there are family emergencies, etc. – and I kept waiting for them to get back together.  But when the end came, it seemed rather anti-climactic to me.  I kept waiting for this great ending, one that lived up to the rest of the book, and the ending was rather blasé for me.  But, again, the build-up of the story left me with perhaps too high expectations for the ending.  All in all, a good read.

Rate:  B-

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