One of the hardest things to do as a reader when given a free book in exchange for an honest review is to find that you didn’t like a book in the end.One of the hardest things to do as a reader when given a free book in exchange for an honest review is to find that you didn’t like a book in the end. I hate to hurt anyone’s feelings, especially an author who poured their time and passion into writing a book, but I believe in honesty, so I will do my best to explain why SHUT OUT was not my favorite read this year by far.
I have noticed since starting this series that the author has a tendency to jump back and forth in third person point of view between the characters. In this third book in the series, the storyline was so jumpy, I almost felt like I was missing key portions of the plot. It was abrupt and required me to constantly re-evaluate who was speaking and what I may have missed. I prefer a more streamlined and smooth flow if an author wants to write in third person. The epilogue appeared in the story roughly, right at the climax of the plot; the full story wasn’t really seen to fruition in my opinion. If I had been beta-reading this book, I would have had many things to say to this author. I don’t like being confused when reading.
The other thing I have noticed since starting this series is the author seems to be unfocused in her plot lines in the series. I should probably qualify what I mean by that statement. The first book was a male/male romance, the second book had a completely different focus and barely had any soccer at all, and this third one attempted to focus in on the BDSM lifestyle (unsuccessfully in my opinion). To me, it almost felt like the author wanted to take popular themes/tropes in romances these days and link them together through a series. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel it was successful with cohesion between the books. Though there were shared characters, it didn’t feel like the same series to me. If there was a fourth book, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a paranormal romance.
Getting back to this particular installment in the series, I was very disappointed with the lackluster BDSM lifestyle portrayed in this book. Though I don’t partake in the BDSM lifestyle, I have absolutely no problem reading books that focus on the Dom/sub theme. I was disappointed in how the author presented such a thought-provoking lifestyle. Sophie, the heroine, is not what I would look for in a Domme. In one of the opening scenes where she is shown in this capacity, her mind is wandering while her client is tied up. Unsafe. Not fun. Very bad in my opinion. I didn’t feel that there was enough exploration of why Sophie would have been in this lifestyle. What did she get out of it? Why was she such a switch? It didn’t make sense to me; I feel that the mental exploration in a BDSM book is the majority of what makes it interesting.
Outside of the BDSM theme in SHUT OUT : there are other unrealistic things throughout this book: unsafe sex, a character is attacked and then frisky and ready to ‘make-love’ a page or two later, villainous females that refer to themselves in the third person, etc. The worst thing to me was a plot device that I cannot reveal here (to save spoiling the book), yet it was so bad that it makes the story feel more like a soap-opera. From the characters own mouths: “We’re both so fucked up.” I also was not attracted to the heroine’s thoughts. As an example, I was truly bored reading about her talking about her yoga class. I suppose I was supposed to be intrigued as a reader as the hero was in the same class, but it did nothing for me. Her reactions were illogical, especially when it came to how she handled the second half of the book (sorry, I can’t spoil it for you so I have to be brief).
All in all, I am fairly certain I would not choose to continue this series if a fourth book is written. Maybe I am just picky. Your mileage may vary.
The first thing that I would like to point out is that it will be hard to write a review for this second book in the Black Jack Gentlemen series, REDThe first thing that I would like to point out is that it will be hard to write a review for this second book in the Black Jack Gentlemen series, RED CARD, without revealing spoilers for the book, but I will do my best to try to avoid revealing too much. I personally hate it when I read spoilers before starting a book, so I will try to walk a fine line here.
Unlike the first book in the series, RED CARD features a male/female pairing unlike the gay relationship featured in book one. I know that will definitely turn off some of my reading buddies, but I don't mind reading male/female romances, so despite some surprise I didn't fault the author on that point.
Alicia dreams of playing professional soccer and seems to harbor resentment towards males, almost a reverse form of typical chauvinism, if you ask me. Strangely, she and her sister are not afraid to call the hero misogynistic or piggish. I didn't really see the behavior he exhibited as women-hating or chauvinistic. Yes, he was a man-slut. Yes, he even referred to the disposable women in his bed in his own words as "bed-filler", but does sleeping around mean you are misogynistic? I don't think so.
Because Alicia is a soccer player and the hero, Metin, is also a soccer superstar, it was a lot of fun to have a scene in the book of them playing soccer together in a flirty way. There's a fun daydream where Alicia dreams of tackling Metin in a crazy aggressive fashion. I love to see women get sex-crazed in the book in the same fashion as the men. Unlike the previous book in the series, there isn't as much focus on the Black Jacks team or soccer playing in general. It's there, but it is more of a backdrop to the main plot of the story. So, that was slightly disappointing. Still, it was fun that the author slipped in some scenes.
There are some sex scenes in the book that involve unsafe practices, so if that kind of thing throws you out of a book, you may want to avoid this one. Also, if you're not someone who can deal with angst in your romance, this might not be your book as well. Finally, there are some rather large twists in this one that might not flow with certain reader's ideas of 'romance'. I could see the big twist coming in this one due to some foreshadowing on the author's part, but I can definitely see how many readers will likely be surprised by the big twist. Again, I don't want to spoil things so I can't really get into it.
On a side note - there wasn't any scalp tingling in this book, much to my shock after the fixation the author had with it in book one of the series. There was at one point, however, a spot where the hero claimed his hair was hurting. I guess she couldn't neglect the hair/scalp region after all.
All in all, RED CARD was an entertaining read. I am still interested enough in the series to read book three by Liz Crowe and look forward to getting the opportunity.
I’ve always been a fan of sports-themed plots in movies and books, so I jumped at the opportunity to read MAN ON, a book about a newly formed profess I’ve always been a fan of sports-themed plots in movies and books, so I jumped at the opportunity to read MAN ON, a book about a newly formed professional soccer team with male players who were likely to have as much fun in the locker-room shower as they would playing the game itself. Sweaty bodies… flailing limbs… balls… the Black Jacks soccer team nicknaming themselves BJs… I mean, how can you resist? I had never read anything by Liz Crowe before, but I thought that this series would be a good place to start with a new author based on the theme.
I was a little puzzled when the hero introduced in the first few pages, Nicolas Garza, decided to finger-fuck a complete stranger on a plane, let alone a female character. Where were the other passengers? How did they not get arrested as the plane landed? I guess I went into the book expecting gay characters, not men that were going to have sex with women as well. Not that there’s anything wrong with bisexuals (I’m bisexual myself, so I can hardly hold it against a character). However, I’m not too keen on my heroes in a romance sleeping around at random, especially if it’s pretty clear that they’re having sex with someone that they have no connection with whatsoever – a throwaway character, if you will. In defense of the author in this regard, Nicolas does struggle throughout the book with sexual addiction. So, it wasn’t completely random after all - it just felt that way when the story started.
The other hero, Parker Rollings, was an interesting, closeted guy who was torn between his love of the game and his family and girlfriend and their ideal view of him as a future doctor. Once again, the hero was bisexual, but the females that he was intimate with felt like throwaway characters to me as well. The author piqued my interest when she seemed to indicate that Nicolas and Parker would be competing for the same position on the newly formed team, despite their instant sexual attraction when they met. Unfortunately, I felt that portion of the story was glossed over and wasn’t delved into the way I would have liked to see. Too bad.
Getting back to the instant sexual attraction between Parker and Nicolas, I really was perplexed because on their first encounter, Nico’s scalp tingled at the sight of Parker. All I could think when I read this was that Nico had been abusing his dandruff shampoo. I can’t say that I have ever in my life had my scalp tingle. I laughed it off and was prepared to let it go, but I found that the author had a fascination with describing the feelings of her characters’ scalps. One time, even the phone ringing caused someone’s scalp to tingle. I ended up counting more than a handful of times where the zing of scalps was described. EEK! I asked my husband if his scalp ever tingled or zinged when he was aroused. His response was of course not and clearly the characters in the book were likely aliens. I admit my husband’s logic may be a bit flawed, but I might just have to agree with him.
Though I liked the characters of Nico and Parker and found their attraction to be sexually charged, there was a scene in the book that really pulled me out of relationship. I’ll paraphrase (if you read this out loud, be sure to use a ridiculous Spanish accent a la Antonio Banderas as that is how it sounded in my head):
•Fuck Me. •No, I’m no good for you. •Fuck Me. •No, but I will make love to you. •If you don’t fuck me right now, I will be pissed. •No, I need to watch your face while we make love. •Shut up and fuck me.
I happen to have a big prejudice to the ‘make-love’ vs. ‘fuck’ thing in my books, so I was very distracted by that sort of dialogue. I guess I just wanted to tell the one character to shut up and pound the fuck out of the other guy (especially because he was begging for it!) *grumble* ☺
I was slightly disappointed that the author would at times focus attention away from the two heroes and switch perspectives to the coach and his family. I didn’t really feel invested in the coach, so I found it distracting when she did that.
Re-reading this review so far, I realized it sounds like I didn’t like the book and all I am doing is complaining or mocking. I thought I better qualify to say that I definitely didn’t dislike MAN ON. It kept my interest and I enjoyed reading it. I liked how author, Liz Crowe wasn’t afraid to focus on sports; it wasn’t merely a backdrop to the book. I liked how the characters interacted with each other. I thought most of the sex scenes were interesting to read. I can just get nit-picky at times. I definitely plan to continue the series, as I would like to read more about the Black Jacks to see where things go.
✳✳ Copy provided by the author/publisher for an honest review.