"Lily of the valley." He made her feel exotic, still dressed in her sensible gray frock, only her hair loose about her shoulders.
"Lily of the valley," he murmured. "I'll remember that scent forever now, and whenever I smell it again I'll think of you, Eve Dinwody. You'll be haunting my tomorrows forevermore."
She gasped and turned, looking up at him. She'd thought that he'd be smiling teasingly at his words, but he looked quite serious and she stared at him in wonder. Had he always carried this part of himself inside? This wild poetic lover? If so, he'd hidden it well underneath the aggressive, foulmouthed theater manager. She had a secret fondness for the crass theater manager, but the poet....
She swallowed, suddenly nervous.
She might come to love a wild poet.
Foreplay. This story from page one until almost the very end is one deliciously drawn out word, foreplay. Asa is darkly erotic in the most sweet way. He recognizes that his approaches to Eve must be gentle (emotionally) and all on her terms, which he then executes in scorching hot ways. The villain aspect felt somewhat tagged on and I generally like more verbal sparring between my leads. This was heavy on the sexual aspects side, don't get me wrong it works, (woo baby does it work, carriage scene anyone?) I just personally tend to like more focus on other aspects.
The way Asa suspects about Eve's issues but refuses to treat her any different as a woman, acknowledging and encouraging her desires, and then when he knows and how he gives her agency and power while still feeding her desires and his own, make this a must read.