SynopsisWelcome to Eye Candy, the East Side’s hottest nightclub where the bartenders are hot, the cocktails are fancy, and danger lurks just under the surface…
Eve Webber, the gorgeous and savvy owner of Eye Candy, knows better than anyone that growing up on the wrong side of the tracks comes with certain complications. Determined to run a clean business and fix up the East Side, Eve’s plans get temporarily stalled when a potential new hire walks into her bar. The sexual chemistry crackling between them is a potent distraction…even if she refuses to mix business with the promise of pleasure.
Detective Matt Dorchester lives by strict rules that have kept him alive in impossible situations. When his latest undercover assignment has him playing a bartender, his desire for the passionate owner has him breaking every single one. Eve is in danger and her life depends on his secrecy. But once their attraction reaches a climactic conclusion, Matt must make a desperate choice: Tell her the truth about who he really is—or risk a once-in-a-lifetime love to save her life?
A Review by Wendy
3.5 Figuring It All Out Stars
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Anne Calhoun knows exactly how to draw a reader in. She has taken me on many a ride with well constructed stories and unique characters. In Under the Surface, she gave us a conflicted undercover cop and an owner of an up and coming club.
Due to a money laundering scheme the main characters, Matt and Eve, have been brought together under tricky circumstances. Eve was approached by an old neighborhood thug to use her club, Eye Candy to clean the drug cash. She listened saying she would think on it knowing all along she would go to her friend on the force. She tells of the set up and will work with them in her own way. Little does she know they are bringing in Matt as the bartender to watch over the bar and gather evidence for the bust.
This is the major conflict of the story. Matt understands how to do undercover...he has been doing it for too long. He has been in many situations similar... but this time... all the half truths, the playing the game with Eve doesn't feel right.
Eve is nothing like what Matt is use to... she is something very different. She is extremely strong... she had to be. Having parents who were part of the church meant they never expected or approved of their daughter to be involved in the nightclub/bar business. Eve just happened to fall into it while going to college and before she knew it , she had worked her way up to events and special projects. All of this experience gave her the way to contribute to the community she loved. Her dream was to bring the Eastside out of the dark despair and provide a positive way for it to flourish. By her helping the police bring down the drugs and crime, it could be a first step.
Both these two meet and sparks happen. What is surprising to Eve is the reluctance of Matt when Eve lets him know she is interested. Because he is "on the job", he is trying to play it careful and not cross the line. However the chemistry between these two, is just too much for them to fight.
With the attraction and the danger...the story is multi-layered.
I happened to like Eve and her strength quite a bit. She was a woman who found herself and knew what she wanted; her club to be a success, her community to be safe and rid of threats and crime, and she saw a man she wanted to share herself with. She made no apologizes for who she was and handled herself well.
Matt was more distant and brooding. His attraction for Eve was plain yet he was torn... always trying to do what he felt was correct and right. I got where he was coming from... yet I never really warmed up to him. I think it was a me thing.
Overall, this brings romance and suspense together with the strong talent of Anne Calhoun.
A gifted copy was provided by St. Martin's Press for an honest review.
ExcerptOne of the most basic components of police work was learning to control a situation. A good undercover cop adjusted his personality and attitude to manage the situation according to his objectives. Matt was as good as they came, and that bluff should have worked.
Except Eve Webber raised the stakes without blinking an eye, and suddenly white-hot, explicit images of exactly how they’d finish what she’d started flashed in his brain . . . the skirt that barely covered her upper thighs, her desk, and that sleek mass of black hair she kept tugging free from the glossy color on her mouth. Heat flashed through him, the sensation shockingly intense.
Your job is to keep her alive, not get her into bed.
Eve emerged from her office around seven, iPhone in hand, and once she started working the room the vibe punched up several notches. Watching her smile and talk to the customers triggered something he couldn’t put his finger on.
During a brief lull, he turned to Tom, the steroid-buffed player working the station next to his. “She looks familiar.”
Tom hit the button on the blender to mix a raspberry daiquiri. “She won the newspaper’s sexiest female bartender contest two years running before she switched over to events management at the Met.” “Fucking moron” was implied at the end of that sentence.
A niggling memory surfaced of the newspaper’s Arts and Culture section getting passed around before the shift briefing a couple of years ago, right before he made the leap to detective and started working long-term undercover assignments. The article’s text meandered alongside a full-length picture of Eve, hair tumbled into her face, hands braced on the bar behind her, wearing a white blouse unbuttoned deep in her cleavage, a tight, short black skirt, black stockings, and heels. Her slim legs were crossed at the ankle, and the angle of the shot made them seemed endless. He should have been focused on the briefing, but he’d given the photo a good thorough look before handing it to his partner, who’d looked even longer.
The provocative shot actually masked what won Eve the contest. In person she radiated vitality, a sheer visceral force that drew light, glances, attention. Even more surprising was the way she didn’t hoard the energy but rather turned it back on whomever she was talking to. Like that person was the only person in the room. Like she heard what they were saying, and maybe even what they weren’t saying.
Life flowed into this woman. She amplified it and sent it back out into the world, and he couldn’t stop watching her.
She checked in with her bouncer, the size of the Hulk, with gang ink disappearing into the sleeves of his T-shirt.
“That’s not an off-duty cop,” he said.
“Friend of the family,” Tom replied over the music. “Someone her dad knew.”
“Bars this busy usually hire the pros,” Matt said as he pulled out a fresh rack of glasses.
“You know what those assholes charge? They’re fucking expensive,” Tom said as he handed the drink across the bar. “And they’re nosy. Hot Stuff doesn’t like strangers in her business.”
Matt would bet his Jeep that Eve wouldn’t like being called Hot Stuff, but if Tom hadn’t figured that out, Matt wasn’t about to enlighten him. He watched as she cleared a couple of abandoned glasses off the bar in front of him and handed them to a passing busboy, then came around the corner of the bar, trailing her fingers along the polished wood. He handed the drink to a customer and gave her his full attention.
“How are you doing?” she asked, scanning his station.
“You tell me,” he replied, and if he got a little closer than necessary to hear what she was saying over the thumping dance music, well, he was just doing his job. Given the heat in the bar, he expected perfume, something musky and sexy. Instead the faintest scent of mint and rosemary drifted into the air between them when she tucked her hair behind her ears.
“I’m satisfied,” she said, not backing away. “The job’s yours if you want it.”
She was less than a breath away from him. A shift of his weight and a deep inhale, and they’d be breathing together like they were naked and horizontal. The heat sizzled and popped between them and it didn’t take training in body language to read the signals. Eve Webber wanted him.
Chad Henderson. His undercover identity, the man he was pretending to be. Not him.
No matter who he was today, neither he nor Chad could have her. He was supposed to keep her safe, make sure she didn’t change her mind about working with the department, monitor any appearances Murphy made in Eye Candy.
He wanted her.
“I want the job,” he said, not bothering to hide what he really meant.
She looked at him through the layered, sweeping fall of hair he wanted to brush back so he could see her eyes, her mouth. “Hang around after close. I’ll give you the paperwork to fill out and bring back with you tomorrow.”
He leaned in, as if he needed to speak with her, employee to employer, but didn’t want to shout over the music. “See you later, boss,” he rasped.
After doing time at Fortune 500 companies on both coasts, Anne landed in a flyover state, where she traded business casual for yoga pants and decided to write down all the lively story ideas that got her through years of monotonous corporate meetings. Her first book, LIBERATING LACEY won the EPIC Award for Best Contemporary Erotic Romance. Her story WHAT SHE NEEDS was chosen for Smart Bitch Sarah's Sizzling Book Club. Anne holds a BA in History and English, and an MA in American Studies from Columbia University. When she's not writing her hobbies include reading, knitting, and yoga. She lives in the Midwest with her family and singlehandedly supports her local Starbucks.