Favorite Quote: “This is why I was against casual Thursdays. There’s always one person who takes it too far.”
I’m a huge fan of Ms. James’s Rough Riders series so when I was offered this one for review thought, “Ride’em cowgirl!” Wrangled and Tangled is an erotic western romance that centers around two couples; one starting down the path of love and one trying to find their way back.
Janie Fitzhugh divorced Abe Lawson eight years ago when she realized being a rancher’s wife was slowly killing her spirit. She comes back to Muddy Gap to work the Split Rock Ranch for her friend Renner Jackson. Abe never stopped loving Janie but she is not the same woman he married. He finds himself intrigued by the woman she has become and when a series of events places her in danger, Abe offers to let her stay the ranch…figuring it’s only a matter of time before he gets her back in his bed and life.
Renner Jackson, manager of the Spilt Rock Ranch and Resort wants to get the resort finished…but when Tierney Pratt shows up to "help" he can’t help but wonder exactly why she’s here. Her father owns the property and Renner feels that the spoiled daddy’s girl is going to be nothing but trouble. Tierney has her own reasons for being at the resort and while she finds Renner be exactly what she wants in a man…she knows this rough and tumble cowboy will be is nothing but trouble.
I enjoyed the first half of this story. Lorelei James’s characters are imbibed with so much spirit and personality that they are indeed larger than life. Sassy independent woman and stoic sexy cowboys has the pages smoking as you follow their rocky path to love. Add in some suspense and mystery and you have a thoroughly engrossing read. Ms. James does a great job of blending the two separate plots into one storyline. Each able to maintain some semblance of independence of one another yet complementing and uplifting each other as you wade further into their lives.
While the town thinks that Janie is in Muddy Gap for a job, we learn that she is actually in hiding. A former boyfriend has been stalking her and she has a series of accidents that lead her to believe he has followed her here. When Abe finds out, he demands she come stay at the ranch. There he knows she will be protected. While there, he and Janie discuss what when wrong in their marriage and Janie sees that Abe has made a lot of changes to the ranch and to himself. The sexual attraction is still scorching hot between them but they slowly begin to rebuild the feelings that brought them together in the first place. Janie left Abe because once they married, she found herself nothing more then another piece of the ranch. Abe’s brother and sister lived with them so their was no privacy and she was forbidden from changing anything in or out of the house She wanted to be special and instead felt used, so she left. Abe realized after a few years, especially after his brother Hank got married, just how wrong he was in how he treated Janie and their life together. When Janie comes back to town, he realizes he has a second chance to make it up to her. I enjoyed hearing Abe’s POV as his insecurities about his life and Janie come into play. He really is sorry and it shows. You really don’t hear much of Janie’s POV beyond the past and the story suffers a bit from that.
Renner and Tierney have a love/hate relationship. Watching them argue and fuss at one another is funny, especially when they realize just how attracted they are to one another. Renner is a hard nose cowboy who has invested everything he has into the Spilt Rock Ranch. If it fails-he fails. After being married to one spoiled rich daddy’s girl, he has built a wall of iron around his heart. Tierney brings out the worse in him. He sees nothing but a rich little girl playing at being a manager and he thinks she’s here to spy on him. Tierney Pratt is nothing like Renner thinks. Her dad may be rich but she has fought for and paid for every thing she has. She left her dad’s company when she was passed over a promotion she knew she deserved. A numbers genius but lacking in people skills, Tierney is looking for the home she never had.
I loved watching Tierney break out of her shell and settle into Muddy Gap. She goes to the one place guaranteed to find acceptance-the local beauty salon. I have to say the best part of the book is the woman in the beauty salon. I laughed so hard at their antics. They have no boundaries.
“At least someone is dating. I don’t remember that last time I saw a live penis.”
“You saw several last week when we went to the ‘Crash with the Past” all male review in Casper smarty.
“Oh them penises don’t count. Them penises were in captivity. I was guaranteed to see at least one when we shelled out for the show. That’s not like finding a penis out there in the wild. Where at the end of the night when that zipper comes down and you find out if he’s hung like a horse or dangling a worm.”
I enjoyed the steaming sex scenes and the sexual tension that leads up to them. Ms. James is a master at invoking some heavy duty day dreaming when she writes of her cowboy loving. New territories are explored and boundaries pushed that kept my eyes glued to the pages.
It was in the second half when it fell apart for me. Janie’s stalker plot goes nowhere. The storylines begins to rush to the finish line and we end with pages of filler clichés. I am also not fond of bitchy people. There is bitchy-funny; snarky yet good natured. Then you have bitchy-annoying. Those people are bitchy because they are always right, even when they are wrong. They are quick to anger and quick to point the finger of blame. Janie and Renner are two very emotionally bitchy people, and not the good kind of bitchy. Janie is all about her and her feelings. She felt overlooked and lost with Abe yet she goes to the extreme opposite and becomes one those people who are determined never to be "taken advantage of" again. I tried to sympathize with her because of the way Abe treated her in the beginning of their marriage and a few other situations she’s been through, but her way of speaking to those around her was grating. She doesn’t ask-she demands. When she throws a hissy fit because she finds out she is last to know about a situation, I was done. The situation that had nothing to do with her. Yet, she threatens to "leave" because she can’t deal with the fact everyone figured it out but her. Abe talks to her, making her realize that she is being a prude and bitchy and all is forgiven but I couldn’t help but think a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots overnight.
Renner is no better with his bi-polar personality and always jumping to conclusions. He wants Tierney yet treats her abominably at times. One minute he’s sweet then the next he goes all alpha on her and says things that would have had me punching his lights out. When she doesn’t act or do what he wants or expects, he accuses her of all sorts of things rather then do what any sane person would do and ASK. Once they start having sex she turns in to a ‘yes" girl. I liked her better when she went toe to toe with Renner. If Tierney had a past with him I could almost understand it but they meet for the first time in here. There is one scene where she and Celia (Abe’s sister) tease the men with a little girl on girl flirting. It both angers and turns Renner on so he drags her outside, accuses her of being a tease and an exhibitionist and proceeds to engage her in sex out in the open. She enjoys it of course and that would have been okay, if Renner hadn’t been so angry and done it more as punishment then something for her enjoyment.
The ending was okay. It wraps up the main conflicts yet leaves enough open to let us know we will see more of these couples in the future. I would have felt better about it though if both couples had done more to settle their problems then just paying lip service to finish the story. While this one was one smoking hot read read, I find myself more enamored with Ms. James Rough Rider series. The characters in that series are more realistic and approachable.
Hmmmm...I have mixed feelings for this book. The premise interested me-a semi autobiography story about a Master dom and his feelings on what BDSM is...moreHmmmm...I have mixed feelings for this book. The premise interested me-a semi autobiography story about a Master dom and his feelings on what BDSM is and what it entails from a male pov. Told in a narrative style using an interview to tell the story, it engaged me in the beginning. I enjoyed the authors views on BDSM especially as he explained what he felt being a dom meant and the different ways a D/s relationship can work. It's actually pretty much dummied down for the lay person-emotion not entering into it.
That being said, it began to unravel at the half way point when it abruptly introduced the romance. The author's voice switched from the detached in instructional style storyline to the arrogant billionaire erotic romance storyline when he began to spin his "stories" in order to titillate the woman interviewing him. We watch him reel her in only to slap her down as the classic issues plot line is slowly set up. I was disappointed in how quickly Leticia, the interviewer, lost her maturity and became a needy weepy lip biting mess whose attachment was better in line with someone who had actually been a relationship with the Master. I'm sorry, but a single kiss does not grant you rights to demand he or she loves you.
The ending is somewhat of a cliffhanger and I give it to author that the great reveal is not one normally employed. I was hoping for something a little more awe inspiring or darker in nature but, what can you do? We are also given clues that there is a second woman who will employ a Machiavellian MO in the future to keep the Master with her.
All in all an interesting book that had it's moments. Will I read the next one? Probably. While I didn't buy the romance, it definitely needs more development and depth, I did find the Master and his stories interesting. (less)
Enjoyable story, I liked the romance between Eli and Quinn though I thought Quinn REALLY took on too much with attending the wedding and baptism of Pe...moreEnjoyable story, I liked the romance between Eli and Quinn though I thought Quinn REALLY took on too much with attending the wedding and baptism of Peter's child. I also didn't understand the family's nonchalant reactions concerning Peter and Quinn's 10 year relationship and his marring someone from a one night stand. Did they NOT know they were in a relationship and just thought they were room mates? That confused me. The daddy kick was a little disconcerting but I got comfortable with it.(less)
I was hard pressed with how I felt about this book. I enjoyed the story and the sub plots but I found Aiden wore me out. Aiden is a submission who wan...moreI was hard pressed with how I felt about this book. I enjoyed the story and the sub plots but I found Aiden wore me out. Aiden is a submission who wants to learn the bdsm lifestyle but finds himself way over his head when he begins an abusive relationship with a brutal dom. When things go to far, he runs to a friend who consults with her art professor (also in the bdsm lifestyle)about how to help Aiden. Keaton knew Aiden from before and offers to help. Aiden goes to stay with Keaton and they find themselves embarking on a relationship. Aiden needs rules and thinks pain and humiliation is the only things that will keep him in line but Keaton knows that love, trust, and patience is what Aiden needs.
Aiden has had it rough. His confidence was shredded by his abusive relationship and now he is unable to cope with life. Keaton is a dom but believes in a domestic discipline. Meaning he and Aiden hare equals but Aiden follows certain rules or gets punished. These rules are merely set in place to ground Aiden and help him to regain his confidence and self worth.
Normally, this story line would push my buttons. It is almost impossible for me to understand the need to allow someone to punish me in or out of bedroom for breaking rules. Yet, Rock does a fantastic job of not only explaining this particular lifestyle but also making us understand and sympathize with the need for Aiden to be in a relationship like this. I like that we learn along with him. Keaton is fabulous and has far more patience then me. :) I think part of this worked for me was because it is an mm story. This would never have worked for me as an m/f.
The beginning is brutal as we live through the abusive relationship with Aiden so beware. It's not sugar coated and I found it very distrubing. The sharp contrast between Aiden's two relationships carries the story well and leads to a satisfying conclusion.
I really like this series and our protagonists-Bo and Sam. Ms. Blue keeps a healthy balance between the romance and the main plot with plenty of hot s...moreI really like this series and our protagonists-Bo and Sam. Ms. Blue keeps a healthy balance between the romance and the main plot with plenty of hot smexy time in between. (less)
Jack and Tony are a fabulous couple and I liked the emotional angst and realistic expectations that were placed on there relationship. Jack really com...moreJack and Tony are a fabulous couple and I liked the emotional angst and realistic expectations that were placed on there relationship. Jack really comes off as an arse but as his story is revealed, you can sympathize with why he does some of the things he does. Tony was great in his support of Jack while staying true to himself. They both grow as a couple in here. I do wish some resolution would have come about concerning Jack's past. Maybe in the next one it will be addressed.(less)
This book just wasn't for me. Over the top and slightly humorous; it starts out cute but quickly became a challenge for me to read. I found the heroin...moreThis book just wasn't for me. Over the top and slightly humorous; it starts out cute but quickly became a challenge for me to read. I found the heroine to be silly and stupid and the heroes were just goofy. They all basically live for the moment except for one robber (Zeus) and by the time we get their full back story, I was irritated with them all.
I do think many will enjoy this debut series but it's just not for me.
A short but very intense erotic about a true submissive who is loaned out by her master in order to help a fellow friend and dom deal with the grief o...moreA short but very intense erotic about a true submissive who is loaned out by her master in order to help a fellow friend and dom deal with the grief over his wife's death. An interesting look at true submissiveness and the play of power between master and slave. What I really enjoyed was the conflict between Eleanor's needs and wants. She is unable to connect emotionally with her master (due to his position and boy is THAT a surprise o_0) and craves the emotional sides of a relationship. Something that Danial tries to offer her. No HEA in the true sense of what we want but rather Reisz gives the characters what they want. (less)
Review originally posted in RT Book Review Magazine
Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant leave no boundary uncrossed in this explosively HOT erotic m/m roman...moreReview originally posted in RT Book Review Magazine
Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant leave no boundary uncrossed in this explosively HOT erotic m/m romance that takes us on a journey in the dark side of BDSM. Fast pacing and a smoothly developed storyline examines and dissects the emotional and sexual needs of two men who attempt to find balance and love in a sadist masochistic relationship. Haimowitz and Grant do a fabulous job of realistically building the relationship, going beyond the sex and addressing the basis behind a dominant/submissive relationship, without stooping to generic scenarios. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that while this is an erotic romance, it does contain graphic s&m scenes akin to torture that may not appeal to everyone.
SUMMARY: Brandon McKinney felt his heart and soul opening under the seductive and sadistic tutelage of Jonathan Watkins. Brandon ran away from his feelings, fearing he was not strong enough to handle all that Jonathan had to offer him, but now he’s back, asking for a second chance. Jonathan knows Brandon is the submissive he has been waiting for all his life. He has seen great strength in Brandon, and wants a chance to show Brandon that pain can bring the greatest pleasure of all. Jonathan fears though that Brandon is only willing to try again in order to claim the money promised to him if he can submit for six months. As Jonathan takes Brandon to new heights of pleasure and pain, can he protect his own heart or will Brandon leave with more than the money? RIPTIDE PUBLISHING, JUN., 292 pp., $8.99) (less)
This is my first read by this author. A short erotic that gives us a look into Ms. O'Hurley's Berserker world. Interesting premise though it felt rush...moreThis is my first read by this author. A short erotic that gives us a look into Ms. O'Hurley's Berserker world. Interesting premise though it felt rushed and I didn't really connect to the characters. I wanted more so I could connect with the characters and this world, but this is merely a taste.(less)
Mandi: When I read Tori’s weekly wrap-up last week, I noticed she was going to start the Dark Soul series by Aleksandr Voinov. I’ve been wanting to try something by him (although I think I read a previous novella by him) so I decided to grab book one and see what it was all about. Whoa. It’s dark, intense, has some extremely uncomfortable sexual situations, and is completely addictive. I really enjoyed it and could not put my Kindle down. The series consists of five novellas, each 50-75 pages long. We watch how mafia boss and married man Stefano meets the heir to a retired mafia boss and a made man himself, Silvio. Stefano has never been with a man before, but can not deny the lust that he feels when Silvio is around. When the Russians invade Stefano’s turf, he turns to Silvio, a deadly killer, to help solve his problem.
Tori, what were your initial thoughts about the first novella in this series, and how did your reaction change as you continue reading?
Tori: When I first stumbled across the Dark Soul series, I was intrigued by the premise. Mobsters and illicit love. The first novella shocked me. Aleksandr Voinov storms out of the gate and doesn’t slow down. We are introduced to the main characters in a way that leaves you feeling like a voyeur. I wanted to step into some scenes and scream, “STOP!” Yet, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t make a sound. I had to, like the characters, stand there and take it. I was immediately hooked. The scenes don’t feel cheap or used to invoke a blind reaction. Voinov does a fantastic job of exploring and dissecting the complicated range of emotions that Stefano experiences throughout the story. He has been taught that to desire another man is wrong and in his world, that desire can kill you. He is torn and those emotions translate well across the pages.
As the novellas continued, I found my feelings changing and expanding, along with Stefano. The story becomes less of an erotic story and more of an suspense with an intense character study as we learn about Silvio and his childhood. We see how and why Silvio is the way he is and my heart breaks.
Mandi: Yes. I have to admit my first feeling in the book one was shock. There are a few scenes that made my eyeballs pop out of my head. And as we continue to read, Voinov never shies away from showing every dark desire Silvio has. Especially in book three, we start to learn of Silvio’s abusive past, and how that has molded his sexual inclinations and the intense need of pain he needs to experience a release. It goes from, ‘omg this is shocking’ to an understanding of why SIlvio acts the way he does.
Let’s talk about Stefano. He is a mafia boss and married to a woman he deeply loves. Yet, Sivlio storms into his life, and for the first time he is attracted to a male. How did you feel Stefano’s ‘gay for you’ personality was portrayed, and did his infidelity ever bother you?
Tori: While the “cheating spouse” storyline is never a big draw for me, I wasn’t put off in here as I normally would be. Stefano is deeply conflicted by his attraction to Silvio. He loves his wife Donata and you can tell by his thoughts and references to her that she is the key to his heart. No matter how it all ends, you know he will never leave her by choice. For Stefano, his being attracted to someone else is physically hurting him and that softened me to his infidelity. If he had been looking for it, I wouldn’t have been so forgiving. I also like that Voinov doesn’t take the easy way out by portraying Stefano’s wife as being the enemy, therefore “okaying” Stefano’s infidelity.
I found his emerging bisexuality interesting. I personally thought that it was Silvo’s androgynous looks that made it easier for Stefano (and us) to accept he was attracted to a man. In a way, it confirms Stefano’s inherent masculinity in that he is attracted to femininity as a whole. The tranny hooker scene is a prime example. Stefano knows it’s Silvio yet gets extremely turned on by the feminine role play.
How did you like mob storyline? Do you think it played well against the romance of the book? I think the mob scenario mixes well into the storyline. Big tough wiseguys, their entire hierarchy dependent on their perceived “masculine” identity. The constant references to what happens to outed gay men in their ranks makes for delicious tension. Watching Stefano change hats in response to his business and personal needs was interesting. He straddles the line, trying to keep everyone happy. He’s so calm, cool, and collected when dealing with Donita and his business…but Silvio completely throws him for a loop.
Mandi: I’m not huge on mafia storylines, but as you said, I like how Stefano not only had to deal with being attracted to someone that made him uncomfortable, but coming to the realization, that he couldn’t tell anyone about this new part of his life. He literally would be killed if the other mafia bosses discovered where his sexual interests lay. This added a lot of external pressure to a situation that was already very intense. I do think when he finally tells his wife about Silvio, that it may have gone over too easy.
Let’s end this chat with talking about the sex. Because, wow. The sex in this one is dark, areas are explored that are taboo. In book one Silvio gets a gun stuck up his ass and likes it. Later on in the series, Silvio explores a sexual relationship with someone who he should never, ever have sex with. Yes, it is explained to us just how truly horrid Silvio’s father was to him. And after I got into the story, although the sex scenes are intense, to me it felt like they fit the story. But my boundaries were stretched Tori. Stretched I tell you!
Tori: LOL. I can’t believe you used ass and gun in the same sentence. While there were some scenes that had my eyes bugging, I think the sexual tension and anticipation was more intense then the scenes themselves. My heart bled for Silvio as he tries to explain through his actions and words what he needs in a sexual and emotional relationship. We and Stefano realize quickly that Silvio is damaged and needs to be handled with care. I enjoyed meeting Silvio’s brother and wished he would have stuck around awhile longer. Silvio’s past. OMG. This poor man was made then shamed by the people who should have protected him.
The confrontation and subsequent acceptance by Donita did go rather easy but I wasn’t displeased with that. I wanted one aspect of Stefano’s and Silvio’s relationship to be easy.
Do you want to see more? I do! We need 10 more volumes.
Mandi: Yes, I would have loved it a little longer or revisit them to see how their life has changed after the book ends. I’ll be making my way through Voinov’s back list for sure.
Tori: Agreed. I have a feeling this is going to appeal to many readers with its darkness, emotional turmoil, violence, and sexual eroticism.(less)