This series is being marketed as a NA series. Whether it's New Adult or Contemporary Erotic Romance (it's actually both). it's mainly a mess. I thinkThis series is being marketed as a NA series. Whether it's New Adult or Contemporary Erotic Romance (it's actually both). it's mainly a mess. I think I've developed a new rating for books like these: DNR. Do Not Resuscitate works just as well as Do Not Read.
DNR for the absolutely over the top behavior of the hero and the heroine's best friend. DNR for the ending...what ending? DNR for the creepiness factor: The heroine was 12 when she met the hero, who is, I think, something like 20 years her senior. I can be only thankful that he never went all Maurice Chevalier about her....more
Last year I read Bonds of Trust and wrote about it here, indicating I'd liked it fairly well and planned to follow it up with Bond of Need. Time got aLast year I read Bonds of Trust and wrote about it here, indicating I'd liked it fairly well and planned to follow it up with Bond of Need. Time got away from me, though, and when I saw Bonds of Hope on Netgalley not long ago, I decided to jump back into the series. I'm glad I did. I'm not usually a fan in books of celebrity characters, but the notion of a waifish actress, whose mother seemed a stage mother from hell, wanting to explore BDSM for a role in a TV series appealed to me, even if it seemed a little far-fetched.
When Quinn Andrews goes to The Den for a crash course in being a sexual submissive, she has no idea that she actually is one. She does know that she's never been in control of her life as her mother and others have made all her decisions for her since she was a child actress. This makes her waifishness all the more so, and makes the job of Marcus Reese, her assigned Dominant (and one of the club's owners) for the week, more difficult. He quickly enough decides she is a sub, but because she's a good actress, he's not completely sure. As they explore her limits and she learns about BDSM, they begin to fall in love, but time is not on their side. She'll be leaving soon enough to start the series, and his friends don't want him hurt by a fling. Her jealousy of other subs he works with--now non-sexually--also threatens their burgeoning relationship, which comes to a breaking point when an incriminating photo of the two of them lands on the Internet.
I liked Marcus quite a bit; he pays attention to Quinn's needs and allows himself to fall for her. I never realized until recently that I seem to love a waif, so Quinn appealed to me as well, although keeping her identity a secret also seemed far-fetched. If she's doing a BDSM TV series, why would it be so scandalous if the public knew she visited a sex club? This felt contrived in our post-Charlie Sheen era but it served the plot because it extended Quinn's waifishness in in terms of needing to be protected against the world.
Although I can't go into it to avoid spoiler territory, things all go to shit before Quinn and Marcus are allowed their emotional happily-ever-after, which showcases their personalities. Marcus is a rescuer and Quinn very much needs rescuing, but not because she's weak. She's simply sheltered, and eventually her attempts to stand on her own go overboard, which is what sets up the final scenes. That felt authentic to me, something I can't always say when reading erotic romance.
There's plenty of kinky sex being had at The Den and by Marcus and Quinn, but there's quite a bit more to the story. I think Aicher did a better job in that the writing didn't suffer the same stiltedness as occasionally creeped into Bonds of Trust. What worked particularly well was Quinn's transformation. It's always great to see a waif allowed to self-actualize, even in an erotic romance....more
I look for four things when reading erotic romance: the story, the emotional component, the writing/prose style, and yes—obviously—the sex. To varyingI look for four things when reading erotic romance: the story, the emotional component, the writing/prose style, and yes—obviously—the sex. To varying degrees all four must be there. The story may be outlandish and over the top, but if the writer is a good storyteller and it's not a total boink-fest, I'm there. If the author engages my emotions so that it's not a total boink-fest, I'm happy. If the sex is hot in the way I like it, I'm glad to read it before going off in search of my husband. If the writing is horrible, I absolutely won't be able to finish let alone like the book, but if the other three components are there, I am able to overlook some degree of bad, clunky, or weird writing.
Most important to me about Claimed is that I actually teared up while reading the emotional dénouement. So, "check" for emotional component. The storytelling? Reasonably good, so "check." The sex? "Check!" The writing...not so much. It all boiled down to an endearment. I hate it when a non-Brit calls the heroine "love" (or runs around exclaiming "lovely, for that matter). "Darlin'" doesn't work for me either—it works in a historical Western, but not a contemporary. A new endearment moves to the top of my list as a result of reading this book: "Doll." The hero in this book isn't Bogie or Sinatra...he isn't an an actor in a 40s gangster movie or the star in a Broadway musical of the 50s...so every single time he uttered "Doll," I got yanked out of the narrative.
It's a small thing, really, and I actually didn't like the book less for it. My grade for Claimed is a B- and wouldn't have been higher had the hero used a different endearment, but it's something that really stuck out for me. That said, as far as BDSM-themed romances go, this one earns a qualified recommendation, and I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series when it's published. The author's website says Bared should be out in January.
The three stories in The Theory of Attraction were written by authors I've never read before. After reading their stories, I've already gone to NetgalThe three stories in The Theory of Attraction were written by authors I've never read before. After reading their stories, I've already gone to Netgalley to download another story from one of them and am going to check out the backlist of another. The third? Meh.
Let's start with what I liked best: Forbidden Fantasies by Jodie Griffin. The premise here is all about a married woman's secret fantasies, which after reading erotic romance are moving from the deepest recesses of her mind into her consciousness. She wants to be dominated, but believes her husband would be horrified by her fantasies. Unfortunately, by keeping her desires under wraps, she's become terribly unhappy, and her loving husband fears for their marriage. Although Griffin overshoots the shame aspect, this is a storyline I really like, and I thought the husband's handling of things post-revelation was delightful. That's why I just downloaded Forbidden Desires (on sale later in November) from Netgalley. Look for my review soon.
Next up; Christine d'Abo's A Shot in the Dark. The premise here is all about a Dom re-awakening the submissive in a woman who had forsworn the life after severe abuse at the hands of the man who once dominated her. Particularly appealing about this story was the hero's occupation: firefighter. How utterly delicious that a man who rescues people likes to dominate women in his spare time. What also worked was the heroine: She's difficult, and I can relate to that. Their sex play is really intense, though, so be forewarned. That's not the case in either of the other two stories.
Finally, The Theory of Attraction, by Delphine Dryden. This is the story that headlines the anthology, and yet it's the one I liked least. The premise here involves a woman asked by her brilliant but Sheldon Cooper-like neighbor, a scientist at the university employing them both, to teach him social skills so he can successfully schmooze donors and keep his job safe. She doesn't know it, but the surely-he's-got-Aspergers scientist dominates women at a sex club twice a month, and when the attraction between the twosome flares, her heretofore unknown submissive side comes out to play. Unfortunately, I just didn't buy somebody so apparently on the spectrum being able to pick up the cues Dominants need to pick up on if they are to drive their submissives crazy with desire.
Look for The Theory of Attraction on November 1st from Carina Press (digital only). My digital copy came via Netgalley....more
If you like erotic romance with a BDSM bent, Bonds of Trust ought to do it for you.
Cali Reynolds ended her 20+ year marriage after raising two childreIf you like erotic romance with a BDSM bent, Bonds of Trust ought to do it for you.
Cali Reynolds ended her 20+ year marriage after raising two children with a husband whose lack of sexual desire she could no longer tolerate. He could barely do vanilla, let alone the nasty things she fantasized about. Though she's convinced it's time to act on her desires, her fears of discovery are always just below the surface.
Jake McAllister owns The Den with his two childhood friends. All were saved from a life of despair from a man who took them in, fed them, clothed them, and nurtured their self-esteem. But this man was no Ray Quinn (Chesapeake Bay quartet, Nora Roberts); he owned a BDSM club. He did nothing untoward...this is also no Men of August series...but after they achieved adulthood (and my guess is that each of them served their country in an elite fashion), they created The Den. But Jake, always the wanderer, agreed only to stay on and actively participate in the club's running for five years. His time is almost up, and his wanderlust is back, big time.
Seth assigns Jake to do a follow-up interview with Cali; he tells Jake there's something about her that needs additional analysis. It doesn't take long for Jake to decide that Cali's pent-up desires for domination are real. She's no cougar. She also calls to him in both a primal and nurturing way. Rather than assign her to some other master, he takes her on for the night. It doesn't take long for him to start breaking rules for her, beginning with a kiss. Soon he's taking her upstairs to his private apartment. His feelings for Cali don't jibe with his need to head out of town, nor does it fit his M.O. He's never taken a club submissive before. Instead he's kind of a Master for Hire, acting out Scenes with female club members but never getting involved.
What makes this a different sort of BDSM story begins with that first night. Now, I'm no expert on these things, but every other First BDSM Club (or Dungeon) Scene I've read follows the Start As You Mean To Go On school of domination. The woman's first experience is intense, and very formalized. This is not how Jake indoctrinates Cali. It's far more of a seduction, and as a reader I found that, well, seductive. Eventually the formal Scenes between Jake and Cali become increasingly intense, particularly the scene in which Jake plans to turn her over to another Master.
While the interplay between Jake and Cali is unique compared to my other reading in this sub-genre--he wants her to call him Jake rather than Master, they become a couple rather quickly, and Cali doesn't quite understand that this is not how D/s relationships generally work--the book does suffer from the same writing problems that tend to plague erotic romance. In this particular instance the non-sexual content has a stilted quality that manifests itself most of the time when Cali is the focus. She wants to explore her sexuality but her general mein and fears of discovery give her a slight case of "stick up the ass." And while Jake's scenes with his friends add to the story, Cali's issues mean that her scenes with friends and family don't work as well,
That criticism aside, Bonds of Trust is an ebook you won't want to put down your Kindle (or nook, or iPad) for while reading. Indeed, I read it in one sitting, staying up late into the night to see how it all was going to work out. I rarely do that when reading an erotic romance. I look forward to the planned sequel, Bonds of Need, out in March next year, featuring one of Cali's friends and another of The Den's three owners.
Look for Bonds of Trust in late November from Carina Press (digital only). My digital copy came via Netgalley....more
I wrote in an article about Bared to You that it was a book that wouldn't let go. I tried to explain why that was the case, given that it suffered froI wrote in an article about Bared to You that it was a book that wouldn't let go. I tried to explain why that was the case, given that it suffered from a host of problems, but added that I was antsy about the release of Reflected in You. Well, I downloaded it the day it was released, sat down to read it, and didn't stop until I finished, and felt like a limp noodle. It's been a little over a week now, so here are my thoughts.
What stood out most of all is that the flaws of book one were amplified in book two. If Bared to You was Writ Large, Reflected in You was Writ Even Larger. There was such a small amount of "down time," let alone happy times, that the exhaustion factor from all the angst took over and never let up.
Interestingly, if I had to compare it with another book, it would have to be Bridget Jones's Diary. That will likely come as a surprise, but Gideon Cross and Mark Darcy both broke away--whether physically or emotionally, so as not to provide spoilers--to get all their ducks in a row and fix things. In both books, a five-minute conversation would have helped, but Mark Darcy's actions mirrored Darcy's in Pride and Prejudice and can be forgiven. If it was good enough for Jane, it's good enough for me. I don't know if Austen was Day's muse here, but there is something very primally male about going off to fix things with nary a grunt beforehand.
Of course, Bridget didn't suffer as Eva suffers throughout most of the story, and that suffering dragged me down as a reader. Reflected in You came across as a bridge book, one that got us from book one to book three, where presumably there will be a wonderful payoff.
So I'm left much as I was left after book one, frustrated by the over-the-top qualities and emotional roller-coaster riding, yet anxious for the next book, so I can get to Eva and Gideon's HEA. On its own merits book two doesn't stand very well; the angst level was too high for even the sex to be much fun.
Day really needs to provide her readers with a strong pay-off in the third book of this series. If she doesn't, I'm going to consider the entire thing a frustrating waste of time. If she does, I'll be one satisfied customer. ...more
I downloaded The Siren from Netgalley after reading very good things about it from people I know online. It's a full-length erotic romance, very denseI downloaded The Siren from Netgalley after reading very good things about it from people I know online. It's a full-length erotic romance, very densely written, and highly disturbing, at least to me. The story involves Nora Sutherlin, an erotic romance writer who wants to spread her wings and write in a more literary fashion. For that to happen she needs a literary editor, and sets her sights on Zachary Easton, a brilliant Brit living in New York and working at Royal House Publishers. Though his boss is keen on Zachary signing Nora, the editor is extremely skeptical about the woman, her writing, and her lifestyle. He will sign her only if they completely re-write the book in the six weeks he plans to remain in New York before moving to the West Coast to head up Royal's L.A. office.
Nora is a beautiful woman who began to write after ending a thirteen year relationship with her Master, seemingly the most dominant of Doms in New York. Reisz details their D/s relationship in great detail. There's a Big Secret involving her Master, and its revelation so shocked me that I found it difficult to continue reading. Actually, the entire book was difficult to read. The explicit BDSM scenes go far beyond what I can handle, and I continued, with great trepidation, only because so many people I know thought this was a phenomenal book.
Nora's assistant Wesley is a young college student from a conservative family. He is in love with Nora. She loves him, but because he is such an innocent soul, they attempt to remain platonic. While not as disturbing as Nora's relationship with her one-time Master, her scenes with Wesley disturbed me greatly, particularly as the story progressed and each pushed the limits they had set for themselves.
Zachary is separated from his wife, who remained in London after his move to New York. Nora and Zachary attract and repel each other, and this push and pull magnifies as Nora realizes her editor remains in love with his wife. As writer and editor fight each other while working together on a book the latter believes could be brilliant, they indulge in sexual teasing, which culminates in their giving in to their desires late in the book, after Zachary has revealed his own Big Secret. As with most of the sex in The Siren their sex is difficult and painful to read.
Nora, of course, has her own Big Secret that she only wants to reveal to Zachary at the right moment, which of course doesn't happen. Three Big Secrets in the course of one book is probably two to many, particularly when they are layered, as they are in this book. Although I've read erotic romance for more than half a dozen years, I learned that I'm too vanilla for this one. OTOH, those who enjoy books filled with damaged people who indulge in deliberately extreme and provocative behavior may have a different response.
While I didn't like this book, its disturbing aspects gave me pause. Because I kept reading until the end, I must credit the author for at least that much. ...more
Although the 23-year-old virgin aspect of this book was unfortunate enough, I pushed myself to continue reading because I liked a short story the authAlthough the 23-year-old virgin aspect of this book was unfortunate enough, I pushed myself to continue reading because I liked a short story the author wrote as part of her Doomsday Brethren series. By the time I finished reading, I wished I'd thrown in the towel initially. To avoid revealing spoilers, I'll simply say that the hero's All-Encompassing Reason for avoiding commitment turns out to be Utterly Ridiculous. ...more
"I've previously read two books by Lauren Dane: Laid Bare and Sweet Charity. While the romance in the former eventually included more than two in a be"I've previously read two books by Lauren Dane: Laid Bare and Sweet Charity. While the romance in the former eventually included more than two in a bed, in the end I preferred it to Sweet Charity because of the author's handling of difficult emotional content. I don't choose to read any romance for Big Issues, but Laid Bare just so happened to tackle some - surprising enough where erotic romance is concerned - and tackled them well. So when Carina Press made available via netgalley Dane's re-write of Second Chances (originally published by Loose I.D. in 2005), I asked for a copy to read. As with her other books, I couldn't put this one down, but I encountered some problems along the way..."