Strip Poker

Beg Me by Lisa Lawrence
(Delta, $13.00, NC-17) ISBN 978-038-5341042
Having survived her brush with the elite behaving badly in Strip Poker, part-time snoop, Teresa Knight, is back in Lawrence’s smashing follow-up.

Teresa is a girl-of-all-trades. She mostly works odd jobs, but when cash flow becomes an issue she sometimes “solves problems” for various friends. She’s in Bangkok to see Jeff Lee. His sister, Anna, was Teresa’s masseuse and friend, until her murdered corpse was found in a seedy New York City alley. The cops think it was a drug deal gone bad, but Jeff knows differently. For one thing, there is no way his sister would be into drugs, for another someone has sent taunting photographs to him of his sister, trussed up in bondage gear. Naturally upset, and hungry for revenge, he hires Teresa to get to the bottom of things.

This proves to be a very complicated case for Teresa – one where she travels from Bangkok, to New York, to Nigeria, and back to New York. She also finds herself infiltrating the elite BDSM cult that Anna belonged to before her death. To get answers Teresa is going to have to go undercover, and for that she’s going to need some schooling. While our girl certainly has a reputation for adventure, the darker side of BDSM is completely out of her realm.

Lawrence’s brand of eroticism isn’t necessarily to titillate, instead being a tool to illustrate the suspense thread. Readers expecting the romantic side of sex to illustrate love are largely not going to find it in this story. That being said, the author does allow tender interludes during the girl-on-girl scenes, and especially towards the end of the novel – which are particularly moving. It’s when this tenderness creeps into the story that Teresa finds herself incredibly vulnerable. However despite these tender moments, Beg Me is being billed as an erotic thriller, and that is a very apt description. This is not a romance, and very much follows the form of a suspense novel – not everyone escapes unscathed.

There’s a wonderful global sensibility to this story not often found in many novels. While the author does some info-dumping during the Nigerian portion of the story, it’s all important background to the mystery at large. It’s fun to watch Teresa flit from one part of the globe to the next, taking these seemingly unrelated occurrences and tying them all together. The various settings all have a nice sense of place without reading like a travelogue – and with Teresa telling this tale in first person it truly transports the reader along for the ride.

Teresa Knight is a feminist heroine. One who lives by her wits, and matches them with the big boys. She’s the kind of heroine not easily found in fiction, and one that will appeal to readers looking for a take-charge heroine. While this series won’t be to everyone’s taste, a strong female lead, and cracking good mystery make Beg Me a solid, page-turning read. This is the second Teresa Knight novel published in the last six months, here’s hoping the author has plans to deliver more.

--Wendy Crutcher

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