Updated: Aug 21
by Lauren Layne
Published by Montlake Romance
Book #1 in 21 Wall Street Series
Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot:
seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he’s met his match in Lara McKenzie—a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.
An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case—the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading—could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.
She’ll do anything to prove he’s guilty. He’ll do anything to prove he’s not. But it’s only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It’s become a pleasure—and there’s more at risk than she ever dreamed.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Some Steaminess Rom-Com Feel Good
Hot Asset is the first book in the 21 Wall Street Series, and centers around Ian Bradley and Lara McKenzie. Truthfully, I doubt I would have picked up this book if it wasn't written by Lauren Layne. It's a weird thing, but I usually am not interested in books that involve detective work, or the FBI. I don't know why. I'm a true crime junkie, but in a romance, it doesn't usually jive for me.
But ... it's Lauren Layne. I love her books.
The first few chapters I read, I wasn't sure I liked Ian. He is arrogant, and a bit of a man-whore. It didn't take long for him to grow on me, and of course, his softer side didn't start coming out till he met the witty SEC agent Lara. Details of his life didn't start coming out till he met her. His backstory of being an orphan, being shifted from shitty foster home to the next, and working his ass off, getting into an ivy league school, and becoming one of the top guys on Wall Street, and one of the richest, is interesting. His affection for his last foster father, who he still remains in contact with is sweet. The fact that he harbors some disappointment that he never adopted him goes a long way to explain why he keeps most people at arms length. It could even explain why he was so attracted to Lara in the first place. Women never rejected him, until her. At first, I am sure it was the challenge to get her to want him that lured him to her.
Lara is driven and passionate about her dreams. Her dream is to be an FBI agent, just like her parents, in the white collar division. She wants to work her way there, so she is currently an agent with SEC, and is asked to investigate Ian Bradley for insider trading. She believes in doing everything by the book, and she lets her job take over her life. She knows if she can find evidence proving Ian's guilt, her boss will send a recommendation letter to the FBI.
The chemistry between these two takes time to build up for me. Their positions in regards to one another made it hard for them to connect the way they needed to. It didn't take long for sparks to fly though. I loved that their feelings for one another creep up on each other. Quicker than I usually like, but it was necessary so the rest of the story could grow as well. After all, it isn't just romance in this book, but a bit of a mystery, which was interesting to mull over during the read.
I suspected her boss was trying to set Ian up from pretty early on. I honestly couldn't figure out why he would want to though. I found it very interesting that the accusation against Ian came about because he slept with a married woman (said woman being Lara's boss's sister, who he had no idea was married). Ian's dick (as Matt, Ian's best friend) puts it, gets him into this mess. Weirdly enough, it leads to Lara, who turns out to be the only woman that has made him want to settle down. It's an interesting twist.
By the end of the book, I really enjoyed Ian's character. Lara cracked his shell, and it made him likable. The fact that he was willing to put Lara's happiness ahead of his own, and let her go to DC for a new job, was sweet. Love is wanting the other person happy, even if it doesn't make you happy. His idea after weeks of missing her or trying long distance, and buying plane tickets in advance for every weekend was an incredibly romantic gesture. It all worked out in the end, as Lara gets her dream job, moves back to New York, moves in with Ian, and ends with him proposing a little after a year of dating.
Hot Asset, with its cheesy title, is actually a fun, interesting read. With romance, a little bit of mystery, the dynamic between Ian and his group of friends, and a touch of the Wall Street world, it gets points for standing out. The characters, particularly Lara's character, could have used a bit more back story, but all the characters, even some of the side characters that will feature in the next two books, had enough going on for them that made me interested in finding out what happens next. If you like romance, hot sex, and an actual story, I totally recommend Hot Asset to you! 4.5/5
Top 3 Favorite Moments
1. Ian and Lara's first date ... and the sex that follows. *Don't judge me.*
2. The Grease "sing along" in Ian's office had me laughing.
3. The sting operation, where Lara clears Ian's name, and gets the men falsely accusing him.
Where to Buy:
Paperback (amazon Canada)
Lara: "Seriously? Do these lines usually work for you?"
Ian: "Honestly? Yeah."
Lara: "Well, let me know when I'm supposed to fake the swoon."
Ian: "Well played, Ms. McKenzie."
Lara: "Back at you, Mr. Bradley. You want to play sexy cat and mouse, I can play right back, and I'll win."
Ian: "My email account information - work and personal. Eat your heart out. I have nothing to hide. Oh, and Ms. McKenzie ...My personal account has a few naughty pictures in there. Enjoy those. "
Sabrina: "She's pretty."
Ian: "Shut up."
Sabrina: "I thought you said you were supposed to cooperate."
Ian: "You go talk to her. You'll learn real quick she's not the cooperative type."
Sabrina: "Meaning she didn't fall all over herself when you flashed your smile."
Lara: "Is Kate going to be pissed?"
Kennedy: "Probably. Might be good for her."
Kennedy: "You want me to be honest?"
Kennedy: "You want me to tell you anything about him that might be useful to you."
Lara: "Yes, absolutely."
Kennedy: "All right, then. Maybe this will be helpful ... I don't think I've ever seen him so pissed off."
Ian: "Right now."
Lara: "You just don't strike me as the type to have an orchid. They're notoriously finicky and require a bit of coddling."
Ian: "I can coddle."
Ian: 'What the hell were you thinking, following me to lunch on Friday?"
Lara: "I'd hopes you were eating alone, and that I might get a moment of your time - since you've been avoiding me."
Ian: "And once you realized I wasn't alone?"
Lara: "I thought she might be a source. Someone who could prove helpful to my case."
Ian: "Bullshit. You thought she was my girlfriend."
Lara: "Actually, no. I figured you and she were trying not to be seen together."
Ian: "Why the hell would I want that?'
Lara: "Perhaps she's involved with someone else."
Ian: "Jesus Christ. It's bad enough you accuse me of being a criminal, not I'm stealing other men's women?"
Lara: "A friend ... When she looks like that, and you look like that ...
Ian: "I look like what, Ms. McKenzie? I got to say, seeing you uncomfortable is the most gratifying thing I've seen in days."
Lara: "I'm not uncomfortable."
Ian: "You're practically twitching."
Lara: "By the way, he's over-watering it. Congratulations, it should be dead in no time.
Kate: "Is it weird that I might like her?"
Kennedy: "This is really great. What thirty-four year old adult doesn't enjoy listening to deafening, God-awful music in the dark while wasted twentysomethings rub all over each other?"
Ian: "Well, we're never going to get anywhere with him looking like that."
Matt: "I want to agree, but we've seen too much to the contrary. One of life's great puzzles, why women dig a nerd."
Kennedy: "Indeed. Nearly as baffling as why they love boy wonders."
Ian: "Go. I need to get laid,and you'll only crash my game."
Kennedy: "Worried I might get the girl?"
Ian: "Get out of here, old man."
Kennedy: "Going. See you Monday. Try not to get arrested or dead."
Ian: "I make zero promises."
Ian: "Since when are you two on a first-name basis? You've been calling her 'the SEC' for weeks."
Kate: "Keep your enemies close and all that. Plus, she's one of the only females in this place, and ovaries bond with ovaries."
Ian: "Nope. Out."
Kennedy: "Am I interrupting?"
Kate: "Yes, and thank God for it."
Kate: "Ian's got it bad for Lara."
Kennedy: "I'm aware. What's that got to do with dating?"
Kate: "That's what I mean by 'has it bad'. He wants to date her, not just bone her."
Ian: "Bone her?"
Kate: "Or whatever. Insert the verb of your choice."
Lara: "What are you doing here?"
Ian: "Trying to feed you. Also trying to get in your pants. Maybe find out if your curtains match your -"
Lara: "Oh, for God's sake. How old are you?"
Ian: "Old enough to know what I want, clever enough to know how to get it."
Sabrina: "Are my boobs lopsided? The new bra and tight dress don't seem to be getting along. Ian?"
Ian: "Nope. I don't know how many times I can say it - I refuse to analyze your breasts."
Matt: "You telling her about how you're still trying to get over me?"
Sabrina: "Well, I do definitely remember being over you. I've never been with someone quite so content to just lie there on his back."
Sabrina: "Don't touch. Those are for Lara."
Matt: "Ouch! Since when do you like the SEC better than me?"
Sabrina: "Since always. I like everyone better than you."
Ian: "You never did answer my question."
Lara: "Which one?"
Ian: "Worst lay you've ever had."
Lara: "Oh. Gosh. I had a different answer before ... wow, this is awkward. I feel like I should at least let you get dressed before I answer. You know, to save your pride."
Matt: "Tell us."
Ian: "You already know. She came over. We ordered in."
Matt: "Tell me more."
Ian: "This isn't a Grease song. I didn't take her bowling."
Kennedy: "In the arcade?"
Ian: "I did not see that coming. I thought you only watched shit like Citizen Kane."
Kennedy: "Grease is a classic. I like classic things."
Matt: "You like old things."
Kennedy: "True. It's why I'm not too keen on you. Have you had your first shave yet?"
Matt: "you know, you would make a pretty good Kenickie."
Kennedy: "I know."
Matt: "And we got Danny Zuko here, who won't tell us if Sandy put out under the dock."
Ian: "Made out under the dock. The line is made out under the dock."
Kate: "Ooh! Did you stay out till ten o'clock? Never mind. I'll ask Sandy. I mean Lara. Can I be Rizzo? She's my favorite."
Kate: "Why not?"
Kennedy: "Because I'm Kenickie."
Kate: "Yeah. Okay."
Kennedy: "Who do you think I'd be?"
Kate: "What's the principal's name?"
Matt: "You're thinking of the gym teacher. The principal's a woman."
Kate: "No, no , I know. I was definitely thinking of Kennedy as the principal. Uptight, a little prudish ..."
Ian: "Have you ever seen Grease?'
Lara: "Like Sandra Dee Grease?"
Ian: "Yeah. So fair warning ... the next time we see my friends, there's a good chance there will be a sing-along. You're to tell them that I was sweet. Just turned eighteen."
Lara: "Do I have to? Because that;s super weird."
Ian: "It's either that or you tell them you're hopelessly devoted to me."
Sabrina: "You need anything, I'm there. Matt and Kennedy, too."
Lara: "We're the Avengers."
Sabrina: "I love that you're such a dork."
Lara: "Wait. You thought about it? You thought about giving me a ring?"
Ian: "It crossed my mind. After I realized I loved you."
My knees buckle, but he catches me.
Ian: "That was embarrassing for you."
Lara: "Give me a break. The guy I love surprised me with red roses, plane tickets, and vague chatter about marriage."
Lara: "Tell me about your day."
Ian: "Oh, you know, the usual. Kennedy pretends not to notice Kate; she continues to torture him. Matt and Sabrina got in a fight, so they might be dead.
Lara: "Same ol'."
Check out the next two books in the Wall Street Trilogy by Lauren Layne