by Kristen Callihan
Published by Plain Jane Books
Book 4 in the VIP series
There are some people in life who know exactly how to push your buttons.
For me, it’s Rye Peterson. We can’t spend more than ten minutes together before we’re at each other’s throats, which makes working together that much harder. Rye is the bassist for Kill John, the biggest rock band in the world, and I am his publicist. It doesn’t help that the man is gorgeous, funny, talented, and…never takes anything seriously. Avoidance is key.
But everything changes when he overhears something he shouldn’t: a confession made in a moment of weakness. Now the man I’ve tried so hard to ignore is offering me the greatest temptation of all—him.
Brenna James is the one. The one I can’t have. The one I can’t get out of my mind. Believe me, I’ve tried; the woman loathes me. I managed well enough—until I heard her say she’s as lonely as I am. That she needed to be touched, held, satisfied. And I could no longer deny the truth: I wanted to be the one to give her what she craved.
I convinced her that it would just be sex, mutual satisfaction with nothing deeper. But the moment I have her, she becomes my world. I’ve never given her a good reason to trust me before. Now, I’ve got to show Brenna that we’re so much better together than we ever were apart.
Things are going to get messy. But getting messy with Brenna is what I do best.
Exposed is the fourth book in Kristen Callihan's VIP series, and centers around Kill John's bassist, Rye Peterson, and the bands publicist, and lead singer Killian's cousin, Brenna James. When Rye overhears Brenna admit to her friend that she is lonely, and looking for some physical release without the complications of a relationship, Rye quickly volunteers himself, despite the fact that whenever they are around each other, they fight like cats and dogs. He has always wanted her, but kept away because she is Killian's family. He is sure he can keep his feelings to himself, and just give in to the physical. Only, after one night, he is hooked. Brenna becomes his world, and Brenna's equally shaken. How is it that the best either of them have ever had, is with the one person that gets under their skin the most? And how can Rye convince Brenna to give him a shot of more?
If you have read my other reviews for the VIP series, you will know that a) I love this series, and b) I have been excited to Rye and Brenna's story, because it was SO clear to me that they were going to end up together. I was surprised I didn't realize it had already come out, but kindle recommendations did not let me down, and here I am. I'm afraid I may have ruined this book for me a little bit, because I built it up in my head, and while I liked the book, and it certainly hasn't turned me off from continuing the series, but it wasn't my favorite. There was very little build up for me, and for two people who are so confrontational, I felt like we would have got way more banging of heads before they got into it. That aside, it was well written, and fast paced, and just as I predicted, Rye and Brenna are seriously hot together.
While not my favorite of the VIP series, and I felt like it needed more of a set up, Exposed was a good book. If you love a good frenemies-to-lovers story, with hot, steamy scenes, you will enjoy Exposed, as well as the rest of the series. Now, crossing fingers for an intriguing story for Whip. There are NO hints for his story, except that it's gotta be juicy if he is keeping it a secret from his friends.
Rye showing Brenna how attracted he is to her by his heartbeat just standing close to her
Sophie drunk at the party, and telling his friends his favorite sexual positions
Brenna laughing every time Rye goes to kiss her
The pact where the group gets tested more regularly, and announces their results to the group to cheer up Jax for his STI last year
Rye telling Brenna his fantasy, and the dirty talk. HOT
Scottie and Jax telling Rye they caught him and Brenna making out in the kitchen during family dinner
The "Daddy" text lol
Rye's trick to not coming too early
Rye taking Brenna to the Art museum
Rye and Brenna's day in LA
Rye standing up for Brenna with her parents
The Group chat at 1 in the morning
Brenna's confessions to the group
Killian sliding a key to the guesthouse under the door for Brenna and Rye because they were too loud lol
Brenna: “Let’s just agree never to speak of this again.”
Rye: “Hold on a second.”
Rye lifts his hands, amusement lighting his eyes.
Rye: “We agreed that I was a dickhead and am sorry for it.”
Brenna: “And I was a…what’s the female equivalent of a dickhead?”
Rye: “You don’t really expect me to answer that, do you?”
He’s smiling now.
Brenna: “Because that’s bait.” Instantly, I feel like an ass for cursing him. He sets his messenger bag down then starts handing out drinks. I feel even worse when it’s clear he got everyone their favorite.
Scottie: “With a twist of lemon,”
Scottie says, impressed but trying not to show it as he sips his Earl Grey.
Rye: “Without the lemon, you don’t achieve the proper snooty lip pucker,”
Rye says with a wink. Rye: “Got you one of those lemon butter cookies you like as well.”
Quietly, he slips a small bag into my nerveless grip. But not covertly enough.
Whip: “How come Brenna gets a cookie?”
Rye keeps his gaze on me and raises his voice enough to answer.
Rye: “She’s the one most likely to kick my ass for being late.”
Jax: “I thought that was Scottie,”
Rye: “He got his twist of lemon.”
Scottie: “Well done, you.”
Scottie lifts his tea with a small salute. Rye: “Stop looking at me like that. I’m not mooning or whatever the fuck you think. You have no idea what you’re talking about this time.”
Whip: “So tell me.”
Killian: “Tell you what?”
Killian says, suddenly at Whip’s side. The guy must walk on cat feet or something. Whip and I both visibly jolt.
Whip: “Rye is not mooning over Brenna,”
Whip says solemnly.
He is no longer my best friend.
Killian nods, playing along.
Killian: “He never does.”
Rye: “Fuck you both.” By the time I lean against the gleaming black marble bar, he’s setting out an icy vodka tonic with peels of lime, lemon, and grapefruit twisted together in an artful multicolored swirl. I take a sip and close my eyes for a second.
Brenna: “Despite what I tell the others, you are my favorite friend.”
he says with utter sincerity as he fixes himself a Manhattan with quick and precise moves. Impeccably dressed in a dove-gray bespoke suit and more beautiful than a man has a right to be, he really is something to watch in action. I’m tempted to throw down a tip. Brenna: “This is where you say I am your favorite too.”
I take another sip. The barest smile curls the corner of his lip.
Scottie: “My dear, there was never any question.” Brenna: “Oh, hell.”
Horror threatens to swallow me whole.
Brenna: “You’re matchmaking?”
Scottie winces at my screech.
Scottie: “I wouldn’t normally, but I believe you two would hit it off.”
Brenna: “Kill me now. Just kill me and feed my body to the wolves.”
Scottie: “I believe you mean to the hyenas. They prefer carrion.”
Brenna: “Scottie, I’m about ten seconds away from killing you.”
His eyes gleam with evil mischief.
Scottie: “Make up your mind, Ms. James. Is it you or I who should be murdered?” Rye leans an elbow on the bar top.
Rye: “Matchmaking isn’t your usual style.”
I give Rye credit. He’s clearly trying to appear unaffected; his smile holds its usual smirk, and his stance stays relaxed. The problem is, if it’s clear to me that he’s upset, then it’s obvious to Scottie. We all know one another too well, which is both a gift and a curse. Scottie’s eyes narrow a fraction, then his expression smooths out.
Scottie: “I loathe the very idea of matchmaking.”
Rye: “Then why are you doing it?”
Rye retorts. They’re both staring at each other like gunslingers in a cheap Western. I want to run away from this nightmare, but I’m pathetically frozen in place. A sly curve twists Scottie’s lips.
Scottie: “I’m a problem solver.”
Brenna: “Oh, Go. Make it stop.”
Rye eyes me and offers a fake frown of concern.
Rye: “You got a problem, Bren?”
He knows very well what my problem is: him.
Rye: “Need a little loving?”
I glare at his smug face.
Brenna: “Yes. And since Scottie cares, he’s going to procure a fine piece of ass for me. Aren’t you?”
Scottie’s grin is a quick flash of calculated evil.
Scottie: “Of course, love. Let’s bring him over so you can have a look.” Rye: “You’re cute when you’re drunk, Soph.” Sophie: “I’m not drunk. I’m simply…cocktail-induced happy.”
Libby: “Let’s go tell Scottie about it, shall we?”
Sophie: “Oh, let’s. He’s so pretty. My mom is watching Felix for the weekend. I’m footloose and baby-free. I gonna take my man home and ride him like a wild pony.”
With that lovely image in my head, I really don’t want to look at my friend at the moment. Rye: “Hey, guys. Having fun?”
I ask, as Libby, having left Sophie in Scottie’s care, returns and sits on Killian’s lap. Killian leans back in his chair, his hand on Libby’s hip, and grins.
Killian: “Sophie told us all of Scottie’s favorite intimate positions. In detail. So maybe not fun. But entertained, yeah.” Brenna: “The arrogance. You think out of all the people in the world, only you can fix my ‘little problem.’”
His blunt chin lifts a fraction.
Rye: “At this moment in time? Yes.”
Brenna: “Oh, God.”
I laugh again.
Brenna: “How on earth do you figure that?”
Rye: “Because I’m here. And I know you, Bren.”
He says it so emphatically, I go still inside. Rye’s gaze moves over my face.
Rye: “I know you get cold if it’s lower than seventy-five degrees out, which is why, when everyone else is sweating, you manage to look cool and professional. I know that you can’t wear synthetics because they irritate your skin and you break out in a rash. I know that your calves cramp almost every day at exactly one fifteen in the morning ... Which, by the way, is weird as shit that it's always at that time, but we'll chalk it up to one of the endless mysteries of the body. I know that you love having your hair touched and stroked, but for some reason you never admit to needing that, much less letting your hair down. " Brenna: “How the fuck…?”
Rye: “Because I know you,. I’ve spent years trying not to learn you, and failing.” Scottie: “I’m not going to tell Jax.”
Jax: “Tell me what?”
Jax asks, popping out of nowhere like Houdini and making me jump.
Jax: “That Rye and Brenna are bumping uglies?”
I glare at Scottie.
The man nearly rolls his eyes.
Scottie: “Don’t look at me. I didn’t tell him. I prefer to keep all your secrets to myself. Much easier to manipulate you sods that way.”
Jax: “That’s creepy, Scottie.”
He turns to me as he takes a seat.
Jax: “He didn’t tell. Give me a little credit. I can read you guys like a headline. It was obvious you two are doing the bump and grind. The Humpty Dance. Netflix and chillin’. Etcetera, etcetera."
Rye: "You sound like an Urban Dictionary page."
Jax: "Fine. You are fucking. Is that better?"
Rye: “God help me,”
I plead to the sky.
Rye: “Seriously, if you get me out of this nightmare, I’ll be a good boy from now on.”
Jax: “No god would accept that bargain, Ryland. Best you ask the guy downstairs.” Jax: "If you don’t want anyone to know, you probably shouldn’t suck face in the kitchen during family dinner night.”
Blood drains from my head and rushes to my toes.
Rye: “Shit. You saw that?”
Jax: “That horror is burned on my brain now, thank you very much. Hell, I should get an Oscar for backing out and pretending I saw nothing.” Rye: "I know the risks better than you chuckleheads. But she’s finally let me in. And I’m going to take the chance, for however brief it might be. Even if I crash and burn and don’t survive the wreck. Because I can’t do anything less and still comfortably breathe.”
Text: Berrylicious: You’re sounding suspiciously parental right now, Peterson.
TrueAceOfBass: If you want to call me Daddy, I’m surprisingly okay with that.
Berrylicious: It’s like you never want to have sex with me again. TrueAceOfBass: Oh, I’m getting some. As soon as you return from Atlanta. Exactly when is that, btw? Berrylicious: You’re pretty sure of yourself, buttercup.
TrueAceOfBass: I was there. You were two moans away from, “Oh, Daddy, please give me more.” Berrylicious: Ugh. That’s it. I’m turning off my phone. I have to go take a hot shower and scrub my skin to rid myself of the ick. Jax: “Engaging with Brenna is master-level tactics, and you’re over there in primary school.” Rye: “Maybe you should teach a class now that you’re so enlightened.”
Jax: “Maybe I should. Gather ’round, little dudes, and let Unkie John explain this wonderful concept called ‘think before you speak.’”
Rye: “Probably best if you don’t call yourself ‘Unkie John.’ That’s creepy.” Jax: “Whatever you say, Daddy.”
Rye: “God, I shouldn’t have gone there.”
Jax: “Live and learn, my friend.” Brenna: “How does it feel? Knowing that you’re going to live on like that too?”
His brow wings up as he turns my way.
Rye: “In infamy?”
I nudge him with a laugh.
Brenna: “No. You. Your music. It’s going to live on far after you do.”
He steps into my space, running his fingers along my waist as though he can’t help himself. His voice lowers to a husky rumble.
Rye: “I don’t know. Sometimes, I think about it, and I feel…empty.”
My hands slide over his chest to cup the back of his neck. He leans into the touch, ducking his head so his cheek brushes mine. “Yeah. Empty. It will hit me that someone might listen to my music when I'm dead and gone, and I feel so fucking empty. Because I know my life will be over, and I wonder if I will ever ..."
Brenna: "Ever what?"
Rye: "Ever fill it with something more than just music."
Brenna: “You’re more than just your music, Ryland. You always were.” Rye: “Mainly, I’m sorry my mom can’t get out of the cycle of forgiving him.”
Brenna: “I wouldn’t. Forgive someone for cheating on me, I mean.”
Rye: “No. I suspect they’d search for the body and never find it.” Rye: “Come on. There’s a fashion exhibit on high couture that has your name all over it.”
Brenna: “I don’t know if I like how much you get me.” Blinking rapidly, I don’t say anything for a moment.
A shuddering breath escapes me.
Rye: “You guys are going to mess me up.”
Jax: “There, there.”
Jax reaches out and musses my hair.
Jax: “They’re only feelings. You’ll get used to them.”
Rye: “The fuck I will,”
I mutter, moving out of his reach. Brenna: “Are you trying to sabotage me?”
I ask lightly, because I know he isn’t really. But he answers with quiet seriousness.
Rye: “No, Berry. Never that. I’d wish you luck right now, but you don’t need it. And, admittedly, I don’t know if I can wish you luck.”
I whisper, feeling the need to follow his hushed tone.
Rye: “Because I don’t want you to go.”
My breath hitches, the fluttery feeling in my heart threatening to make me say things I shouldn’t.
Rye: “But I will. Let you go. You deserve to be where you’re happy.” Isabella: “Tell me, Sophie, how is little Felix handling the time difference?”
Sophie’s brown eyes go wide, and I know she’s not exactly pleased to be picked out of the herd. But she is a socializing pro and slides easily into a breezy tale about Felix staying up all night and driving Scottie to plead on his knees for his toddler son to give it a rest. Sophie’s grin is wide and infectious as she laughs, remembering the moment.
Sophie: “Gabriel ended up reading Felix Go the Fuck to Sleep—” Patricia’s strangled gasp of horror cuts Sophie off.
Patricia: “You read that? To a child?”
Scottie inclines his head her way. His expression could freeze over hell.
Scottie: “Twice, to be precise.” Rye: “Your daughter is bold, intelligent, and one of the most respected people in the music industry. She’s the living heart of this band. She doesn’t hang on to us. She holds us up.”
You complete and utter dick drizzle.
Rye: “And if you can’t see how great she is, then you don’t deserve her.” Xander: “Oh, leave off, Neil. Your issue isn’t with Brenna or Rye. If you want to have a go at me, wait for after dinner. I’ll be more than happy to accommodate you. But you’re putting everyone off their roast.” Neil: “So superior, Xander. In your Italian loafers, playing country lord of the manor.”
Xander: “Well, one ought to wear the proper footwear when lording." Brenna: “I thought loving someone was supposed to be easy.”
Isabella shakes her head slowly.
Isabella: “My dear, I was talking about loving yourself. If you don’t do that first, you’re always going to push away those who try to love you.”
Text: Stella!!!: Emergency pajama party in the kitchen. 15 min
WhipIt: I don’t wear pajamas.
Stella!!!: Well, find some. No one wants to see your bare ass
So-Sophie: I want cocoa or it’s a no-go
WhipIt: You can’t make that judgment, Stells, without seeing the product first
JaxJax: Whip, you’ll be seeing my foot up said ass if you keep flirting with my woman Text: Killer: Can you all please shut up? It’s one in the morning. I’m not in the mood for No-Go Cocoa
So-Sophie: No-Go Cocoa… :D
Stella!!!: You’ll have cocoa and like it, Mr. Killer: No
Libs: I’m on it.
Killer: I resent the idea that you women think you can
WhipIt: She took his phone, didn’t she?
JaxJax: Count on it. Scottie? I know you’re curled around Sophie like she’s your woobie, but we’ll need confirmation of attendance, because you’re evil and no one trusts you not to turn into a snake or something to get away.
MrScott: Sorry, must run. About to dematerialize.
Rye: "I always was."
Brenna: "Always was what?"
Rye: "Yours. I've always been yours. And you ... You already are my everything. You're my music, Bren." Jax: “Aw. That’s an Instagram moment right there.”
Rye pulls back enough to shoot Jax a repressive glare.
Rye: “Excuse us,”
he says to everyone, then hefts me up into his arms. I wrap my legs around his trim waist as he palms my butt. And then he’s kissing me again and walking out of the room. Faintly, I hear Killian mutter,
Killian: “And the world was never the same again.”