Title: The Devil's Playground
Professional burlesque dancer Francesca "Frankie" Strong has learned the hard way: on San Francisco's cutthroat party circuit, crime has a way of going unnoticed. When her best friend is brutally attacked, she's determined not to let the case fall through the cracks, even if that means crawling through every alley and back room in San Francisco to find the truth.
Undercover cop Johnny Marsden is in desperate need of a win. His career on the rocks, he's infiltrated the infamous nightclub Cafe Outré, rumored front for San Francisco's Chinatown mafia. Johnny has never seen anything like the glitter-and-sin-encrusted world he's now a part of. He's certainly never met anyone like Frankie Strong.
Realizing they'll get farther together than on their own, Frankie and Johnny forge an uneasy partnership. Neither expects the heat that flares between them. Neither is ready for what it could mean. Together, they run down a trail that leads directly to Chinatown, and a faceless terror its residents refuse to name.
Frankie's only interest is in protecting her friend, and she's willing to make a deal with the devil to do it. But Johnny suspects the attack was part of something larger, something darker... and he's right.
Author: Laura Olivia
Published by Self Source: Author
Published: 31 December 2013
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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Purchase your copy: Visit the Author's Website
I wasn’t 100% certain where this story would lead when I started the book, but I was instantly drawn in with questions about the characters, their backgrounds and just why they were all there at Cafe Outré.
Frankie is a burlesque dancer: her act has her dressing in drag as a man, while she performs a strip-tease that is more style than just strip. Her best friend, Cookie, is a drag queen and the one person that she can trust. A difficult task for Frankie, we get bits of her backstory: abused, defeated and above all a survivor, her hard shell is protective and while she tries to remain icy and distant, there is a vulnerability hiding in there.
Johnny is a knife thrower, a new addition to the playbill, but his reasons for joining the cast is not just to throw knives. He has been recruited to be a second to an undercover operation with his former employer, the police department. Again, we have a character with a deeply troubled history, and an insatiable curiosity where Frankie is concerned. Their connection is electric, and she just might have the experience, the connections and the know-how to be an integral asset to the police investigation. But, she’s not cooperating.
Their chemistry is electric: and while both are running from the vibes between them, there is no doubt that Frankie needs the protection that Johnny provides: even when she won’t allow herself to admit it. But the case is far more involved than either could have imagined: danger lurks around every corner and Cookie may not be the only casualty.
Laura Olivia has done a great job in this introduction to the series, providing characters that are intriguing and dropping clues and bits of their history that keep the reader involved and engaged in the story as it developed. The connection between the characters is well-developed and even the moments of distance are well defined with their own histories and pasts. I really enjoyed the story to this point, and am curious to see the development as the mystery is unraveled, and see just how far along Frankie and Johnny can go with their relationship.