Thursday, September 19, 2013

What the Heart Wants by Staci Hart

It's 1984, and Tanaka Katsu is paving his way in the Yakuza. His marriage to Yuki was a business deal, and one that he has paid for with his happiness.

Aphrodite can't stand that he's so miserable, and Hera, the goddess of marriage and monogamy, has a strong hold on Yuki, who will do whatever it takes to get what she believes is hers. Aphrodite won't sit by and watch Katsu's life slip away with no chance at love, so when he takes a trip to Vegas, she'll introduce him to his match.

Kim never thought she'd be in the situation like the one that's coming her way, but what the heart wants is a powerful thing, and one that's impossible to walk away from.

 "He took a heavy breath and leaned on the bathroom counter, peering into the eyes of his reflection. Outside of schoolboy crushes and Yuki, Katsu had never been in a relationship. He had opened his heart to Yuki, but when she tried to carve it from his chest and lock it away, he built a wall to keep her out. It wasn’t the life he wanted, a life without love, but he had never considered that there would be an alternative.
Katsu lathered on shaving cream while Kim occupied his thoughts, and he wondered about the how and the why of his infatuation. They had barely exchanged words, but he found himself thinking of her, wishing for her.
Months on months had passed since he had been with Yuki. He could barely be in the same room as her, never mind sleeping with her. All he could see in her was a twisted snake, black and full of hate. If he let her get close enough, she would wrap herself around him and squeeze until there was no light left in him.
And then, there was Kim. Her face burned into his mind alongside the smell of her, like lilac. Just being close to her was overwhelming, like staring at the sun. It was almost more than he could bear."

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom; she has three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife; even though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f, ends with k, and there a uc in there. Just saying. From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she's not writing, she's sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics. But let's be honest, she's mostly writing.

 After reading Staci's second Good Gods book, SNAKE in the GRASS, I was intrigued by Kat and Kiki's family. I was ecstatic to hear Staci was writing a novella surrounding their parents beginning. What a treat this novella was. At only 66 pages, this baby packs in a ton of mind boggling entertainment and an emotional punch. Once again, Staci's writing blew me away...
Their father Katsu was a strong, commanding character. Very much an alpha. You know a bit about his background and how the girls came to be in the SitG, but you don't hear what a GORGEOUS, compelling and charismatic man he is until this story. I may have fallen harder for him than any other of Staci's men. That's saying a lot as they are all quite um... yummy. His wife, Yuki? Well, she's a piece of work. A nasty piece. Theirs is a union of convenience and our lovely Aphrodite (Dita) can't stand to see Katsu suffer in a loveless marriage. Of course she must interfere with the goddess of matrimony, Hera's twisted plans. And of course that delights Dita.
Once Dita commits to finding Katsu's perfect match, she discovers Kimberly Riggs. Kim is a blonde, sensual beauty, who is giving and kind, hardworking, loving and compassionate. Everything Yuki is not. So Dita puts her plan in motion, sparks fly, and set off a chain reaction to rock the ages. Between Yuki's contemptuous attempts to control and possess Katsu, and the endless battles waged between Dita and Hera, Katsu may very well get his chance at true love and as a result, possibly meet his end.
This story is about manipulation, second chances, and sacrifice. Yuki will stop at nothing to keep Katsu at her side. NOTHING. And Katsu and Kim will forsake everything to be together.
This beautiful and desperate tale made my heart ache. Made me cheer. And at times left me  shocked and dismayed. The levels of treachery and deception were both extreme and tragic. Not only do our lovers suffer the consequences of their tryst, but others get caught in the fray.
You might think all this would make WtHW a very sad and melancholy tale, but with Dita's wicked sense of humor alongside her bestie, Persephone (Perry), there are enough antics and playfulness to lighten up the heavy and make this a fun and raucous read. And let's not forget this is the rad and raging '80's. We're talking feathered hair and rockin' dance music. What a background. And what a riot.
I promise WHAT the HEART WANTS will keep you entranced and enamoured. The ending will leave you fully satisfied. I urge you to grab your copy now and dream away your evening or afternoon with these incredible characters. WHAT the HEART WANTS is a fascinating and fantabulous side dish in what is proving to be a brilliant and mesmerizing series. Staci's next installment can't come soon enough.

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