So a friend of mine on facebook (who shall remain nameless, mostly because I haven't told her yet that sheSPOILERS, SPOILERS, AND TAMMY GOES ON A RANT
So a friend of mine on facebook (who shall remain nameless, mostly because I haven't told her yet that she owes me $2.95 for the cost of this book) shared a truly excellent book ad the other day. There was a beautiful shot of a man's arm in a french-cuffed white shirt, a heroine named Izobel, and a quote that was straight out of "Alpha/Dom speeches 101". It had me. And when my friend said she'd had a look at the sample and it was promising, that was all it took for me. CLICK.
And two hours later? I'm done the book, I'm annoyed, borderline offended, and thinking that was $2.95 and two hours of my life I'll never get back.
This should have been good. Elise Hepner has taken two of my favourite tropes (marriage of convenience and best friends boinking) and mashed them up with a measure of kink thrown in for good measure. Pretty standard for a contemporary romance these days, and I was looking forward to reading what this author's take on these standards would be.
What I got was a disjointed, choppy, cheat of a story, with two-dimensional characters and flat dialogue. The entire premise of the book was based on a need for the marriage in the first place, and 3/4 of the way through the book the premise is erased - just like that - and never mentioned again. Not only that, but an icky, almost offensive connection between BDSM and the hero witnessing his mother's murder that had me thinking someone needed to take Bash to a psychologist, and quick.
Izzy and Bash have been friends forever (except for that time between middle school and high school that they weren't, and really who cares, but the author thought we should so she stuck in a weird flashback to start her story) and apparently Izzy is in love with Bash. Don't know why really, even with all the telling the author does. I never got the connection between them, never saw the foundation for what was to come.
Somehow we are able to determine that Izzy's mom has cancer, is quite ill, and is in hospital having chemo. Also somehow, through the garbled conversations and inner-voice meanderings of these two, we are told that Bash and Izzy have decided somehow to get married to make her happy before she dies. They share a couple of heated kisses at the hospital and somehow there is a wedding ceremony.
The wedding night doesn't happen, as Bash takes off from the romantic, rose-petal-strewn hotel suite and goes to some Dom/Sub club called The Attic where Izzy catches up with him in a "scene". Then the book got weird. For me, anyway.
There are flashbacks to Bash's mom's death - at the hands of a boyfriend who beat her for his own pleasure - which has somehow molded Bash's sexual proclivities. This was where things got creepy for me. I don't mind a little bit of BDSM in my books; I've read that stupid 50 Shades, and virtually every contemporary you pick up nowadays has a hero who likes a bit of rough play. What I DON'T like is when the hero is described as having a "not-so-secret love of BDSM", but his behaviour as portrayed by the author is closer to that of a sadist. He considers himself a monster, and tells Izzy so.
It just got worse for me after that. Their first sexual encounter is rough, and Bash spanks the shit out of her. For a first-timer, I found it a teeensy bit hard to believe that all it took for her was a bottle of champagne and a couple of hours surfing bondage porn on the internet to discover that she was really a sub and wanted to be bruised during sex.
And when he takes her to the club where they ARE the scene? That was where the author lost me. He puts her head in a STOCK for crissakes, flogs her, puts on nipple clamps and yanks on the chains, has some big-time anal involving a dildo (after never even having TALKED about that type of sex), drips hot wax all over her and jerks off onto her back. That's pretty serious for only her second time having that type of sex. And also? No mention of a safe word. At any time.
Now, I'm not much of a serious student of BDSM but I've learned a couple of things since "the book that shall remain nameless" came out:
1) BDSM seems to be all about the sub's pleasure. The dom gets pleasure from giving pleasure to the sub, the sub relinquishes all control to the dom. Of course, that's pretty simplistic as I believe there is a lot of stuff about control, blurring the line between pain and pleasure, anticipation and most of all TRUST involved in that type of thing. None of that was done here. Bash seemed to have a need to cause pain (for some unclear, creepy, psychologically-fucked-up reason) and Izzy seemed to think that she would endure whatever she needed to because she loved him (and OH! she discovers that she likes it.)
2) YOU NEED TO HAVE A SAFE WORD. If I've got my head and wrists in a fucking stock, you've put clamps on my nipples and decide to splash melted wax on me, you better fucking believe there should be a word for me to scream at you to let you know I've had enough. I would have thought this was basic, and I'm surprised that an author of erotica would overlook this. It's irresponsible, IMHO.
There were other problems I had with the book as well - in addition to the bait-and-switch with her mother's illness (aw shucks! They switched the biopsies! I'm really fine and not dying and probably didn't need all the chemo I just had!) Bash is referred to as a workoholic by Izzy. Um, doing what? Don't think he went in to work during the entire span of the book. He drives an expensive car, and dresses well, but doesn't every contemp romance dude? And what does she do? Details, that's what was missing. Substance, depth, character, emotions. Wasn't feeling it.
As a matter of fact, I wasn't feeling anything by the end other than somewhat annoyed. And wondering if I actually did practice BDSM, how PO'd I would be at the portrayal of my "likes" in the bedroom being linked in a novel to a boy watching his mother being beaten to death by a sadist because it pleased him. I also wondered if Jenny Trout has read this - and what she would have to say if she did.
Can't recommend this one. I didn't buy the romance, I didn't buy the characters, and I sure a s*** didn't buy the dom/sub aspect (although what I will say is that those scenes contained the best writing in the novel).
One of my favourite contemporary romance authors debuts with Harlequin Desire this month! Karen manages to push all of my "like" buttons every time ouOne of my favourite contemporary romance authors debuts with Harlequin Desire this month! Karen manages to push all of my "like" buttons every time out, and her latest effort, "One Night with the CEO" is no exception. (Copy of the book provided by the author in exchange for a honest review)
To summarize: Melanie Costello is working her butt off to keep her small PR firm going. No small feat, after her business (and romantic partner) defected with one of their clients. When telecom mogul Roger Langford retains her to repair his playboy son's image after his latest tabloid scandal, she comes face to face with her best-kept secret: her one-night stand with Adam Langford.
Adam is gorgeous, interested, and still out of reach - now more so than ever. Can Melanie keep a professional distance from Adam? If she can it will make her career. If she can't, more than her firm is on the line. Her heart is at risk as well.
So here's the thing. I am so excited for Karen - she was with Ellora's Cave, did three books with a small-press, re-released her old stuff herself, and this is her debut with Harlequin. So cool! The only drawback to a Harlequin is that an author is constrained by the company's guidelines, and I believe that includes the length of the book. I would have loved to see more of both characters, and as I know how good she is at character development, it's hard not to feel a bit like she was just able to scratch the surface with Melanie and Adam's story.
(And I also need to say this: BEST. COVER. Whew!)
That being said, Adam Langford is a hard-working, custom suit-wearing, stubble-bearing, swoon-worthy Hero, well worthy of all of Melanie's efforts. Melanie is a heroine we can all relate to: burned once, she has trouble believing Adam could be as into her as she is him. With snappy banter, sizzling chemistry and a sigh-worthy happily-ever-after, "One Night with the CEO" is a worthy companion to a cold drink and a lounge chair in the summer sun.
P.S. Check out Karen's backlist -- this is just a taste of what she can do.
In my endless quest to find a "better" version of FSoG I keep picking up these billionaire BDSM books. (And, to be fair, it's hard to find a contemporIn my endless quest to find a "better" version of FSoG I keep picking up these billionaire BDSM books. (And, to be fair, it's hard to find a contemporary these days that ISN'T an homage to that stupid book.)
This one is set in Australia which immediately gets points from me, if for no other reason than I can imagine the hero talking dirty in an Aussie accent. The heroine is also NOT a clumsy ingenue. She's a lawyer with a snarky sense of humour and a potty mouth. Again, immediate points from me for that.
I'm not sure if I liked it enough to pay for the next two installments; on the other hand I've paid for some pretty bad books recently so I can't really use that as a yardstick.
...just waiting for the world to get tired of really rich guys tying up their girlfriends so that they can spank them...
This was an Amazon freebie. Briefly, it's about a woman named Elena. She fell in love with Alec when she was 14 and they were together until he was kiThis was an Amazon freebie. Briefly, it's about a woman named Elena. She fell in love with Alec when she was 14 and they were together until he was killed in a car accident 16 years later. She's wracked with guilt about the accident, and has struggled all her life feeling as though she didn't deserve the life she had. Complicating things are her feelings for her dead hubby's cousin. She's known him all her life as well, and they fight like cats in a sack. Whatever shall she do?
Here's what I liked:
It was FREE.
The heroine swore. So did her sister, so did the hero. Just like real folks, and what a refreshing change. The f-bomb got dropped in conversation (sister says, "Oh for fuck's sakes, Elena!") They sounded like real people, and I liked that quite a bit. They insulted each other, flirted, and everyone that needed to had great chemistry.
The scenes with Elena and P.J. were good, and the subplot with Elena's sister and the hot cabin owner next door was nicely done.
....and that's about it.
I'm not sure why the author felt the need to throw a whole PILE of extraneous filler into what were the bones of a good story. To create tension, maybe? Anyway, I didn't think it worked. By 2/3 thru I was ready to kick Elena in the ass. I have no patience with the "I'm not worthy" trope when drug on too long. No wonder her sister was saying, "Oh for fuck's sakes!"
The heroine was a spicy chica with a Dutch surname. Apparently this is supposed to explain the gleam in her eyes as a teen and her vivacious spirit. (Which was stomped into submission by her perfect boyfriend in his attempt to turn her into a Stepford wife.) We're then treated to a pointless info-dump about how her parents met, blah blah blah. It would have been more interesting if it was ever mentioned more than the once. Or tied in at ALL with Elena's personality. I might be wrong, but I don't believe one has to be latina to be "fiery".
Then, we are treated to flashbacks of her life with the perfect Alec, including over-the-top scenes with her husband's law partners' wives at various social functions over the years. This sets the stage for an unbelievable visit by the wives to Elena's cottage, where they trade insults with her sister and have unbelievable conversations about what they expect her life to be now that her husband is gone because it reflects on them. And then the partners themselves call her down to the office and accuse her of, um, being a not very nice person! Because she bought a cottage! And they want to know about her marriage, because Alec was so perfect. (I've known/worked for/with lawyers for more than 25 years, and lots of them are so self-absorbed they don't even care how their OWN marriages are doing, let alone a dead partner.)
What else? Oh, the phone call she gets from the police/prosecutor, explaining how the accident happened, how it was completely unavoidable, it wasn't her fault even though she tries to tell them it was. And by the way, even though you don't remember the accident well enough to notice that it WASN'T CAUSED BY YOU can you testify against the fellow driving the truck that hit you? Or maybe not because he might plead guilty, he's feeling pretty bad about the whole thing.
And then she tells her in-laws about the details of the accident, including (view spoiler)[that she told him she was leaving him RIGHT. BEFORE. THEY GOT HIT. so she wouldn't blame them if they thought she'd killed him, so they immediately call her husband's former law partners and they all decided to sue her for wrongful death. (hide spoiler)]
And then everyone reconsiders for no apparent reason, and then she (view spoiler)[ falls through the ice walking her new puppy on the lake and is in a coma for 2 weeks and has a nice talk with dead husband Alec, who reminds her that he wasn't perfect, and if he had it to do over again he wouldn't have married her, because now he can see that he was smothering her, blah blah blah, and then she miraculously wakes up and is free of guilt and can now tell the long-suffering hero that she does in fact love him too. (hide spoiler)]
(takes a deep breath) And THEN, she goes with the hero to her former in-law's house for a holiday supper and finally tells her in-laws that she's dating their nephew and gets everyone's blessing (because the news that Alec wasn't perfect is only news to HER) and everything is coming up roses and everyone lives happily ever after opening presents at Christmas.
Or something like that.
Boy, I think I didn't like this more than I thought.
2 stars for the basic story idea, which I liked. And the swearing and banter, because, well, because.
The latest "thing" in contemporary romance seems to be the rock star romance. Most of the time I leave these alone - as fairytale-ish as the story wouThe latest "thing" in contemporary romance seems to be the rock star romance. Most of the time I leave these alone - as fairytale-ish as the story would seem, I think they are pretty hard to pull off without being cartoonish.
What drew me to this story was that the rock star in question was one the heroine had had a super-duper teenage crush on. She interviews him for Rolling Stone magazine 22 years later and they fall in love. Cool! That's a double-whammy fairytale if ever I heard one. So I downloaded the sample, got hooked on it (just as Amazon intended) and like a responsible Kindle owner bought the book.
First of all, I must tell you all -- IT'S CLEAN. Sigh. Yes, mostly fade to black, not nearly as steamy as my usual romance diet. Although the characters are believable and I liked them, I had a couple of issues. The story is sweet, perhaps a little too? and I wasn't feeling the angst the way I knew I should be. The author classifies this novel as "romantic women's fiction" and I suspect that explains the sweetness and lack of explicit detail in the love scenes. (She has also written a couple of shorter works for Ellora's Cave, and I'm thinking those ones might be more up my alley.)
I loved the premise of this book, and while it didn't quite deliver the goods for me, it was a pleasant read for a Sunday afternoon. I will definitely seek out more of Karen Booth's work. ...more
Another take on a popular storyline lately in contemporary: heroine in love with her co-worker/boss/best friend,A quick, clean, cute, enjoyable read.
Another take on a popular storyline lately in contemporary: heroine in love with her co-worker/boss/best friend, she pines for him until she gets him then realizes he wasn't worth her time and attention. Of course, by then she's fallen in love with new coworker/boss/friend and we have to wait and see if she sees the error of her ways in time.
The story isn't new, but I always like to read these ones just to see how the author gets me from beginning to end. This one didn't disappoint, although I might not remember it a couple of months from now.
Let me just say this - if this guy existed in real life, the woman he ended up with would have no friends.
She would be liAnother freebie from Amazon.
Let me just say this - if this guy existed in real life, the woman he ended up with would have no friends.
She would be like the woman all of us know who is constantly having to explain or apologize for what a complete DICK her husband is. Sure, sure, he loves her to the point of distraction (obsession?) but he's a complete asswipe to everyone around her. So possessive/controlling/desperate. Of course, all of the tortured desperate love that he feels for her can't make a girl feel anything but cherished, right? When your man can't hold you tight enough, have you close enough, fuck you hard enough?
It was a little too much for me. I couldn't help but imagine their relationship a few years into their HEA, thinking that if he doesn't get all that emotion sorted out he'll start using her as a punching bag. I was also not a big fan of the author's writing style in this novella - lots of very short sentences. That are very dramatic. And used to make a point. But can also get very tiresome.
Fans of OTT tough guy Heroes will enjoy this steamy little bit tremendously. I'm going to use the 3-book rule for this author and try some of her other stuff.
I have got to stop picking up free books from Amazon.
I got sucked in by the synopsis on this one, and who could b(Look out, I spill the entire plot.)
I have got to stop picking up free books from Amazon.
I got sucked in by the synopsis on this one, and who could blame me?
When Addison Hauser gives her heart to her best friend at fifteen, she never expects him to disappear with it. Working the ranch and caring for her alcoholic father after tragedy strikes, she doesn’t have much time to dwell on the hole he left.
Twelve years later, Mack returns to claim her and is reminded why bullies ran from his best friend when she was seven. It isn’t going to be easy to get back in her good graces.
He’s willing to do the work…if he can just keep her from shooting him
So much story crammed in to 111 pages - hoo boy, this author is busy. That was the whole problem for me with this.
We have their childhood, they fall in love, he leaves, her world falls apart, twelve years go by, he comes back with 3 black ops type folks to her dude ranch, she doesn't recognize him but when she does they fight then have pages of raunchy sex, she takes off for 2 years and becomes a professional sharpshooter (??) and travels the world, then comes home and all those people are still at her ranch (again, ?? Black-ops people still there? Srsly?) they have sex, sex, sex and more sex until she's pregnant, then more sex then I think there was an HEA. All in 111 pages.
Frankly, by that point my head was spinning from all the stuff thrown in here, and I'd figured out this had to be a book or two into a series, so I wasn't paying much attention.
Anyone who has been following this series will probably like this; I'd rather read a full-length novel. I'd like to see what this author can do when she has 350 pages rather than 111. Off to search her backlist.
Well. A gander at Goodreads has set my mind at ease. The reason the heroine has an answering machine with a tape is because this book was written in 1Well. A gander at Goodreads has set my mind at ease. The reason the heroine has an answering machine with a tape is because this book was written in 1998! Cripes, for a couple of minutes I thought I was going nuts.
This is currently free on Amazon and touted as a new release. The author must have gotten the rights back to her old books, methinks.
Anyhoo, a standard, run-of-the-mill contemporary romance with an impossibly beautiful, pregnant heroine and a super-hot handyman Hero, marred slightly by an implausible secondary love story that felt almost weird to me.
And I can't stand the new cover - my GR friends TJ and Tonya will immediately know why. ;D....more
Huh. I gotta say I've never read a book where the Hero was a drag queen. Not sure I'd ever read another, for that matter. Somehow I can't see this stoHuh. I gotta say I've never read a book where the Hero was a drag queen. Not sure I'd ever read another, for that matter. Somehow I can't see this storyline taking the world by storm and knocking those billionaire bdsm guys off their pedestals.
Lots of fodder for discussion and snarky comments in this book - self-proclaimed "chubby" heroine with no self-esteem when it comes to men, deals with everything by being quick with snappy comebacks and diversion; gorgeous metrosexual neighbour, acts like the witty gay best friend but wants to drill the heroine senseless; the tortured background - early death of his mother, sexual abuse, drinking problem, moodiness, etc.; throw in a little bit of kink (like having sex while he's in costume) and there you have it.
All a bit two-dimensional and wrapped up a little too neatly for me -- IRL the Hero would need YEARS of therapy, methinks.
I liked the writer's sense of humour though, I LOL'd more than a couple of times. ...more
Colour me perplexed. Is this what "NA" books are? 21 and 23 year olds flailing about, finding love and discovering themselves? If so, this book ain't
Colour me perplexed. Is this what "NA" books are? 21 and 23 year olds flailing about, finding love and discovering themselves? If so, this book ain't it.
It has the other pre-requisites: heroine orphaned tragically, alone in the world and struggling to finish college; the stunningly gorgeous male lead with a tortured (well, this guy had a stutter. Sort of tragic, no?) past, tons of money and a weird family.
Otherwise, it was a standard, run-of-the-mill contemporary romance. Heroine agrees to act a fiancee to the love of her live in order to fool his family and patch up love's career, then runs into love's older brother, who has been in love with HER all of his life. Comedic love triangle and assorted goofy family antics ensue.
The problem I had with this (and it's too bad, because otherwise I quite enjoy this trope) was that although the author says her characters are 21 and 23, they don't talk that way, dress that way, have jobs that fit, or, for the most part, act that way. Hero is supposed to be 23, talks like he's 30 and has owned and run a millionaire's ranch for years. WHAT? The ne'er do well brother, who we are told is 21, has taken over his parent's multi-million dollar company, is stalked by paparazzi and tabloid reporters and has been in multiple scandals with strippers. The only believable thing about all of that is the stripper part. The heroine, who is also supposed to be 21, is the only one who remotely acts her age, but certainly talks like a woman in her late 20s.
So there was that. And the whole high school thing from my updates. It got to be surreal by 2/3 of the way through the book, and that's when I started skimming.
The first half of the book felt as though the characters and story were written to be in their late 20s, early 30s. By the end of the book nothing much was making sense anymore.