Megan Hart's books, I did have my doubts about how she would handle a serial. I love serials, but honestly they're a different sort of writing. Authors who excel at writing short, serials may be a good fit. But I read Megan Hart's books almost exclusively for her characterizations. She writes dynamite, fully-realized, flesh-and-blood characters. And how is that going to translate to a fast moving serial format? Turns out, pretty well.
Taunts Me is the third installment and Elliott comes to the realization that he can't stop thinking about Simone. He's not looking for a permanent thing, he's terrible at relationships, but this woman has crawled under his skin and is driving him to distraction. So he tells her, that yes - he wants to have steamy sexy times with her and then proceeds to lay out his ground rules. Simone, for the most part, is highly amused and is ready to agree to Elliott's "demands" - just so long as her needs are being met as well. And you know what? It's going along swimmingly until Elliott breaks his own rules. He gets jealous of Simone's former lover.
This is the installment that moves things forward by having Elliott stand his ground. To stop running scared, which he basically was doing in the first two installments. It's easy to see how he would be intrigued and scared of Simone all at the same time, and finally, blessedly, he's going to stop denying himself, and her, what could be a very fulfilling relationship - even if he doesn't want to call it that.
Final Grade = B
Denies Me is the fourth, and second to last, installment. This is the entry where all the conflict finally comes to a head. After his fit of jealousy in the last entry, Elliott has decided that maybe he and Simone should try dating. Yeah, dating. You know, dinner, dancing, drinks, maybe a show? Dating. It's pretty out of character for him, and Simone hasn't been on a "real" date in so long she thinks she might have forgotten how - but she genuinely likes Elliott. As in, likes him likes him. And that's her fatal mistake - because eventually everything Elliott said would happen? Does. He's an asshat and rips her heart to shreds. Which sends Simone reeling and back to the one place where she knows she can seek comfort, even if it's only temporary.
Hart's genius as a writer has always been her characters. She's so great with characters that when you get big, splashy, emotional angst from the plot you're left lying on the floor, gasping for breath, trying to stop the bleeding. As in, you need to remind yourself that they're "made up" and "not real people." The moment when all the conflict hits boiling point? It literally sucks all the air out of the room. It's bloody fantastic.
Final Grade = B+