Doing it at: 19%
Catnip: Cougars, Adultery, Tragic Love, Star Crossed Lovers, Boy Next Door, Spanish Pillow Talk
Shame Scale: Low Shame, this is a Real Book, only the lingering shame of our morals being destroyed
Fantasy Cast: A young Jesse Williams or one of the oh so pretty Dominicans we’ve sprinkled throughout the review, plus Jennifer Connelly, actual age.
A woman who has everything meets a man who can offer her nothing but trouble. They bring each other to a height of desire neither thought possible, but is it enough to overcome the differences that tear them apart?
Kate Champion, a forty-two-year-old, married mother of two, leads an enviable upper class life of luxury. Her comfortable path takes an unexpected detour after a chance encounter at a neighborhood playground.
Jaylee Inoa is a twenty-two-year-old, second generation New York Dominican with close ties to the Heights and the gangs that run them.
Her life of privilege is no match for the code of the streets he navigates with ease. When a crime of the heart leads to a crime in the flesh, how far will she go to redeem him? Can she risk all in her life that is golden for the love of her golden-eyed man?
**Warning** Heights of Desire contains descriptions of: gang activity, graphic sex, violence, dubious consent, unprotected sex, infidelity, infidelity and more infidelity, questionable parenting and some dialogue in Spanish without translation.
Disclaimer: We received Heights of Desire as an ARC from the author, however all the nice things we are about to say are our actual thoughts. We can not be bought!
Cleone: Oh Mara White, you’re like our author best friend, and you’re super in to breaking our hearts.
Mary: I don’t know how she does this to us. I mean, I didn’t even kid myself going into this book the way I did with the cousins in Maldeamores. I knew I was going to be super into the ‘desperate housewife meets hot young thang‘ relationship (we all have our fantasies…), and yet it was still an emotional roller coaster.
C: I am never a fan of cheating as a plot device, Mary likes it sometimes, but for me cheating by the book protagonist, who we are supposed to root for, usually results in a book being a Do Not Finish (DNF). However, just like she made us totes cool with kissing cousins, White made me team cheat on your husband Kate in about ten pages. She’s magical. And maybe evil. I can’t decide.
C: Kate is a the 42 year old mother of two girls who lives in a restored brownstone in Washington Heights, she’s married to a lawyer, comes from money, and has full time help even though she’s a stay at home mom. She’s the picture of upper class privilege. She meets Jaylee while walking her young daughters to their dance class.
He’s a 22 year old Dominican who makes us old lady bloggers (relatively old) swoon. He enhanced our google and tumblr searches.
M: For example:
C: He follows Kate to the girl’s dance class, and when she comes out the door from dropping them off, he’s waiting there. Their eyes meet and they have epic book insta-lust. Jaylee is like come with me, and Kate is all sure, but I only have an hour. At no point does she hesitate. Kate’s not the best at self control.
M: She just invites him home to hang out with her and her daughters, and that’s not weird at all. He pushes them on the swings, then he does some pull-ups. As a mom who admittedly makes some questionable choices, this all felt a little fucking bat-shit insane to me? I mean, I’m all for cheating on your husband with the hot 22 year old neighborhood kid. Not that I ever would (seriously, as much as I joke), but in this book I embraced the relationship from the start. Why fight inevitability and all that. But bringing him around your kids? Clearly Kate is not acting rationally.
C: Kate’s husband Robert is the high powered sort of attorney, like the defense attorneys on Law and Order. He defends high profile criminals and works late nights, and Saturdays. For Kate this has lead to a solitary life, for the most part her daughters and Carmen, the housekeeper, are the entirety of her social circle. She doesn’t have any close friends in town. And her best friend, the amazing Sarah, lives all the way out in CA. She’s lonely and she’s aching for a connection, for someone to make her feel like a desirable woman again.
M: We’re going to do a little bit of plot recapping, so if you want to avoid any potential spoilers, scroll down really quickly from the first google image screenshot of a hot Dominican twenty-something to the next.
M: Jaylee invites Kate to go dancing and she just goes for it – and even tells her husband about it, so he’d be less suspicious because hey, who the fuck would ever outright tell their husband they were going out with their lover amiright? Jaylee comes over an hour early, dresses her up like a 20 year old (“Shorter. Shorter.”), and takes her down to Jersey. Kate has the best time, and afterwards he fingers her up against a car without even kissing her, and demands that she stops sleeping with her husband. Note: She still fucks her husband, and they’re both real into it.
M: From there, things get hotter/crazier. I don’t even want to recap the plot, you guys, because I wouldn’t do it justice. You should all just read this book.
C: Jaylee and Kate have to sneak around because of her husband and daughters, though she pretty quickly lets her daughters become attached to him, she trusts him with her girls right away. He evens babysits the girls so that Kate and her husband can go to a charity event. AS ONE DOES.
The girls are four and nine, just excited to have this cute, playful older boy around, Jaylee is closer in age to them than to Kate. Its a TWENTY year age difference. But Jaylee is super into her mom bod. And her Don Quixote tattoo. Props to Jaylee.
M: Kate’s husband, Robert, ended up being a much more complex character than I had anticipated. In all the adultery romances I’ve read, the husband is either portrayed as a sympathetic cuckold, or he ends up being a villain. And Robert was a bit of both, and maybe neither. I read both books in this series (And Mara I think we need to talk about that ending, Lady), and I still can’t wrap my head around Robert.
After seeing the looks that Jaylee is throwing at Kate after the absurd babysitting charade, Robert has this conversation with Jaylee, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Don’t touch my wife!” “Too late.” *Punch in the face* Then Robert attempts to pay off Jaylee to keep him away. Since Jaylee only sometimes behaves like a worldly, dashing lover, and the rest of the time acts exactly like you’d expect a swagger-y 22 year old drug dealer to act, he buys a jet ski.
M: Kate couldn’t seem to decide if she was more hurt that Jaylee took the money and bought something so inane, or that Robert only thought she was worth a paltry ten grand.
C: Jaylee also has no problem introducing Kate to his family, including his mom who might be younger than her, and his 16 year old sister. And he’s totally down with boning her on the double bed that his mom and grandma share.
M: We didn’t see much of her, but Jaylee’s mom seemed to be the only character in this story who acted like you’d expect. Mainly, she hated her young son’s rich married girlfriend who already had her own family.
C: Kate doesn’t know, at first, how Jaylee is making his money. Its pretty obvious to anyone with eyes and a brain that it is probably something sketchy – he takes care of all the ladies in his life. Kate is too dick glamoured to ask any hard questions, until she realizes that Jaylee carries a gun. Because of course he does, Kate.
A big part of reading Heights of Desire is trying to figure out how far Kate will go to be with Jaylee, I mean will she give him a blowjob in a dirty public park bathroom in the Bronx, while someone else watches? Will she do that and LIKE it? Will we, the reader somehow support this and think its really hot and have to reevaluate our lives?
C: For his part Jaylee is charming; he has all the machismo, swagger, and sweet talking that we want in our book boys. He is barely out of childhood, really, and White does a great job of balancing Kate’s knowledge of that with how much she just wants to bone him all the time, to the detriment of her family.
The affair doesn’t stay a secret long, Jaylee doesn’t want it to be a secret. He gives her hickeys and tells her to explain them to her husband. His corner boys refer to her as Jaylee’s girl. He demands that she not fuck her husband. Kate doesn’t comply with his request. Being with Jaylee has turned her on in all directions, Robert is getting really lucky off of Jaylee’s fluffing.
M: Seriously. Kate is burning up with desire for her boyfriend, but she takes a lot of that want out on her husband. And even after Robert finds out how far Kate has taken things with Jaylee, he still keeps trying to make things work between the two of them. In really crazy, borderline delusional ways. Like I said, I don’t think I’ll ever understand Robert.
C: The only person Kate can really talk to about the whole mess is Sarah, who is maybe my favorite book best friend of all time, up there with Jess from our beloved Kresley Cole Russians. Mara White must have a kick ass best friend because every scene between Kate and Sarah is golden. Sarah teases her, and tells her she’s crazy for ruining her perfect family for some 22 year old, but she wants to hear EVERY detail. This is perfectly realistic. This is how female friends work. At least in my own not insignificant experience of having awesome lady friends.
C: Heights of Desire is a harder read than a lot of the romance that we read. Kate seemed incredibly real, and even while she’s spiraling out in ways that had me shouting, it was hard not to root for her. Minus her taking a Birkin bag to Rikers. I couldn’t get on board with that.
M: I found myself rooting for Kate and Jaylee, and then all of the sudden Kate would have me wanting to throw my kindle in frustration, and then just when I was feeling like the book had jumped the shark, Mara White would suck me back in and I’d feel like I’d die if things didn’t work out in this bananas relationship. Much like Maldeamores, this book had me tied up in every way. I couldn’t put it down, I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I had to put it down (stupid kids, stupid motherhood).
C: This is a gritty book, no neatly tied up happy endings or one dimensional characters in The Heights. You won’t know what Kate is going to do, you won’t be able to decide how you feel about Robert (even while he’s being seemingly fine with Kate cheating on him, damnit), but you will likely find Jaylee endearing and sexy. We strongly urge you to read this not-light book for yourself. And then come talk to us about it, por favor.
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