Beyond Denial consists of just 15 pages, seeing as it’s actually a deleted scene from Beyond Control (so make sure tlol Yeah, I’m still reading these.
Beyond Denial consists of just 15 pages, seeing as it’s actually a deleted scene from Beyond Control (so make sure to read that one first). Since each book focuses on a different couple, I was anticipating a book between Ace and Rachel, but this deleted scene is actually between Ace and Jared. And they aren’t having a chat.
I’m growing to appreciate the openness of sexuality in these stories. The things that go on may seem a little extreme and crazy but I find the general absence of labels, shame, and taboos that we constantly deal with in society to be quite refreshing. I wasn’t sure if I’d be continuing these stories because they’re really not my thing… but they’ve got their hooks in me....more
Beyond Control centers around the relationship between Lex and Dallas and holy shit, these two be crazy. We learn that Lex wasn’t always in Sector FouBeyond Control centers around the relationship between Lex and Dallas and holy shit, these two be crazy. We learn that Lex wasn’t always in Sector Four, she used to be owned and was something of a sex slave in another Sector so she has issues with submission (as can be expected). Her and Dallas have been something of a thing for years but he hasn’t made her an honest woman and collared her yet so she decides to force his hand one day and gets his name tattooed across her stomach. He responds as she expected and bestows a gorgeous temporary collar on her made of leather and chains. They finally seal the deal by having sex (without an audience either!) because even though they’ve been at it for years, Dallas wouldn’t sleep with her until she was officially collared.
Goddamn, this is some romantic shit.
As hoped, we do find out more about the state of the world (only a little though) and the politics between Sectors plays a much larger part. Overall though, this one was a bit of a rocky read for me. I never much cared for the dynamic between Lex and Dallas and his continued insistence that she wants to be owned touched a bit of a nerve when you consider her past. Once again, the consent train comes barreling in to the station to make all the crazy shit okay. I just didn’t super buy it this time. And whether it’s because of the lack of characterization or what, but I don’t actually like any of these characters. I didn’t like Noelle’s doe-eyed, innocent act, Jasper was this seemingly brainless brute that just wanted to protect the pretty lady, Lex has clearly got some mental hangups due to her past but goddamn she’s angsty, and Dallas is the king of brainless brutes. Their sex scenes were also not nearly as hot as in the prior book mostly because the domination factor was through the roof and that got old quick.
I continue to have many of the same issues with these stories but they leave me completely riveted. It almost must be said that they definitely don’t read like the self-published books that they are. I may not have any partiality when it comes to characters but I have enjoyed meeting new couples with each story… definitely keeps things interesting....more
‘We fell apart. Broke each other’s hearts and screwed up our friendship. Now I’m adrift, unmoored without her. I keep treading water, looking for lan‘We fell apart. Broke each other’s hearts and screwed up our friendship. Now I’m adrift, unmoored without her. I keep treading water, looking for land. All I can see is endless blue.’
After Vada Bergen and her best friend Ellis Carraway are in a car accident, Vada slips into a depression after being injured and left with the inability to do the art which gave her life. Vada and Ellis aren’t just best friends, their relationship goes beyond that, but Vada has always struggled to accept her feelings of love towards Ellis. Even so, their bond still can’t withstand the after effects of the crash either and they drift apart. Unable to go back to school since her injury will barely allow her to hold a pencil, Vada chances upon meeting a couple that introduces her to the world of being a cam-girl; performing sexual acts on camera for anonymous strangers for money. She renames herself Morgan and becomes the companies highest earner with her signature move: a silk tie wrapped around her neck.
Morgan performs for strangers with an unwavering emotional detachment, but then one of her clients begins asking for personal one-on-one chats and then finally to meet in real-life. Ellis comes back into her life as well only jumbling her thoughts and feelings further. Vada has to make the decision to take the chance on a man she knows nothing about, or to re-attempt to accept her perplexing feelings for Ellis.
‘This world is so thick with ghosts it’s a wonder anyone can breathe.’
Leah Raeder continues to amaze me with her powerful novels that tackle those difficult subjects that are too often just easier to ignore. In Cam Girl, she tackles depression, gender-identity, same-sex relationships, and she tackles the sex trade. At first glance, you would probably say that that’s likely to be a bit overwhelming, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Raeder manages to handle these various different topics and their multiple facets with ease though. Her lyrical writing style is once again present in all its glory, transforming an ugly subject matter into something beautiful.
The focus on not just same-sex relationships but the confusion Vada felt due to her mother’s insistence she wasn’t really feeling what she knew she was feeling was a tough pill to swallow. Also, the way the sex trade was presented is definitely a hot topic for conversation. It may be because I just read Tricks and Traffick so I struggle to see the sex trade in anything but a negative light, but Vada used her role as a cam girl as a way to regain her confidence in life. It can be argued that this is healthy or not, but I appreciated having a new spin on that topic.
For those who have yet to experience one of Raeder’s books, you should know they get quite dark and extremely graphic. Her characters all possess their own unique darkness which they spill across the pages for you to experience. It doesn’t make her novels easy to read, but they are honest, full of passion, and brings to light those dormant topics that we should all be discussing.
‘This is what they don’t tell you about losing someone: It doesn’t happen once. It happens every day, every moment they’re missing from. You lose them a hundred times between waking and sleep, and even sleep is no respite, because you lose them in your dreams, too.’
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
‘Scars tell a story. My whole life was written on my body. How are you supposed to leave the past behind when you carry it with you in your skin?’
La‘Scars tell a story. My whole life was written on my body. How are you supposed to leave the past behind when you carry it with you in your skin?’
Laney Keating is a troubled teen questioning her sexuality while battling bullies and a severe drug addition. She just wants to successfully make it to college so that she can start completely over with a fresh slate. That’s the bottom line, however, that doesn’t even begin to touch the contorted sort of life she leads. Still reeling from her mother’s suicide, Laney becomes intensely close with two individuals: Armin and Blythe. After finding out the details of her sordid story, the two agree to help her get back at those that hurt her so she can finally get the revenge she’s been dying for for so long.
‘I am not the heroine of this story. And I’m not trying to be cute. It’s the truth. I’m diagnosed borderline and seriously fucked-up. I hold grudges. I bottle my hate until it ferments into poison, and then I get high off the fumes.’
First and foremost, Black Iris is one seriously dark and twisted thrill-ride of a tale. With a sense of being on a rollercoaster whipping you to and fro, the story throws us back in the past and forward into the future with each alternating chapter, slowly uncovering the facts of what caused Laney to become the sort of person she is. It’s such a thoroughly absorbing and well-written tale that keeping your facts straight isn’t ever a chore. And speaking of well-written, this book is simply sublime. Leah Raeder sees this world from a different perspective than the rest of us mere mortals. She sees this world in vibrant colors and intense detail and has the poetic ability to bring it to life for the rest of us.
‘I don’t categorize people by who I’m allowed to like and who I’m allowed to love. Love doesn’t fit into boxes like that. It’s blurry, slippery, quantum. It’s only limited by our perceptions and before we slap a label on it and cram it into some category, everything is possible.’
This book touches on a lot of severely dark aspects of life such as excessive drug use, mental illnesses such as depression and mania and not only the personal effects but how it manages to effect everyone in your life. It also tackles bullying, self-denigration and learning to come to terms with your sexuality despite it not being ‘the norm’. Revenge is a central part of the story as well and I loved how unrepentant Laney is about taking it, regardless of any ramifications. Her actions might not have been the easiest to understand or even to stomach, but her raw brutality still managed to be profound.
Black Iris may not be for everyone because its crudely savage and Laney remains remorseless to the very end without your quintessential self-realization over all the wrong that was done. But that crudeness is what completely ensnared me, shocked me and by the end left me completely stupefied (in the best way possible).
I received this book free from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
A copy of Tampa was provided to me by Ecco/HarperCollins for review purposes.
'The rage of lust was like an IV drip in my veins; I felt it beginning toA copy of Tampa was provided to me by Ecco/HarperCollins for review purposes.
'The rage of lust was like an IV drip in my veins; I felt it beginning to spread inside me with the helpless awareness of someone realizing she's been slipped a drug.'
Celeste has the intensity of a psychopath or even a serial killer when it comes to her sexual obsessions. The desperation in doing whatever it takes to satisfy her need was disturbing to say the least. Her complete disregard for how her actions would affect others in her life was unsettling. Celeste is hands down one of the most warped characters in literature I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
Comparisons to Lolita cannot be helped (although it could also be compared to Belinda by Anne Rampling, one of Anne Rice's lesser known novels written under a pseudonym), despite the fact it's actually quite different it still manages to touch upon the same subject. Unlike Lolita, this is not a retelling of events or even a confession but a first person accounting of the main characters sexual forays. But be warned, Celeste makes Humbert Humbert look tame in comparison. Nabokov wrote a truly lyrical story that managed to win over many readers despite Humbert's wrongs; he became one to be pitied. Nutting has done the opposite with her character Celeste and does not ever intend for you to pity her or feel sorry for her affliction. She's extremely lewd and vulgar and the pages reek with indecency and she's not ashamed to admit it.
'I found that sometimes it was a relief to do something unattractive in private, to confirm that I'm deeply flawed when so many others imagine me to be perfect.'
She found anyone that had begun to show signs that adolescence was leaving them to be completely foul and disgusting and was utterly envious of the female children of her class. The fact that she was flawless and appeared much younger than her true age I think was the only mitigating factor that prevented her from personally disgusting herself as she took extremely good care of herself to avoid showing signs of her age for as long as possible. It could also be said that her sexual encounters with the younger boys was seen as a purifying or cleansing ritual in her eyes. Bottom line, she was an extremely disturbed individual.
Tampa is a book that opens up the discussion that women are obviously not always the victim, that they can be just as guilty and just as psychopathic as their gender counterpart. It's a topic that forces you to look at the stereotypes in society today whether it is gender stereotypes or even stereotypes based on looks alone. Also, it definitely brings to light how the pursuing of an older woman no matter the age of the pursuer has become slightly glamorized over time.
In an interview with Cosmo (incredible review, definitely worth a read), the author stated that there is a void in literature about female sexual psychopaths and she sought to fill it. I can't think of any books related to the topic either but I have to applaud the fact that Nutting tackled this subject head-on and didn't water it down simply to avoid controversy. The extensiveness of her sexual conduct did at times seem gratuitous and left you feeling just as empty as Celeste, however, there’s no denying this was an exceptionally scandalous yet efficiently written debut novel.
“She’d been cast out of Eden and straight into Hell.”
Outside the walls of Eden is complete ruin after solar storms destroyed much of the Earth, but“She’d been cast out of Eden and straight into Hell.”
Outside the walls of Eden is complete ruin after solar storms destroyed much of the Earth, but many have found ways to survive and even thrive. Noelle Cunningham, a councilman’s daughter, has lived her entire life behind the heavily regulated walls of Eden but after getting caught in various compromising acts she is thrown out into the Sectors to fend for herself. She hasn’t walked the Sectors long before she’s drugged and is being stalked through the streets when she is rescued by Jasper McCray, an O’Kane lieutenant of Sector Four. When his protective instinct arises, he decides to take her under his wing. The O’Kanes, led by Dallas O’Kane, are the most dangerous gang in all the Sectors and their money is made from distilling alcohol and smuggling it into Eden where alcohol is forbidden. Sector Four is led with an iron fist but for the most part, it’s a non-stop party where regulations are non-existent like they are in Eden. Alcohol and sex are enjoyed without shame and Noelle will be in for an eye-opening experience.
This book has been on my TBR for years because the genre combination of post-apocalyptic and erotica was too intriguing a concept to pass up. Except there were like two sentences that reference the reason the world is the way it is, a chapter or two about conflicts between Sectors, and the rest was basically one giant orgy.
Yes, I know, it’s erotica (or as I like to call it, word porn) so I shouldn’t be surprised at all but word porn can have a storyline too, so excuse me. Anyways, Jasper ends up putting Noelle in the hands of Lex who decides to teach her how it’s done out in the sectors. No, not like, how to work or earn her keep (although I guess it is?) anyways… it was basically, “Hey, I’m Lex, here are some clothes of mine you can borrow because you can’t wear that to the sex party. I’ll introduce you to people later. I’m going to give this guy a blowjob, you should watch carefully because you’re going to also get down here and practice. And later we’ll have dance lessons because you’re going to be a stripper. Welcome to Sector Four!”
Get a girl a drink first, ffs. So yes, this is definitely erotica, don’t be fooled as I was by the post-apocalyptic aspect thrown in for effect.
Jasper and Noelle of course get cozy super fast and out in the Sectors you don’t get wedding rings. You get collars. Yes, like a dog, oh except it’s tattooed on you. You get collared and you’re supposed to be submissive because you’re owned and… what in the fuck did I read? The one aspect of this story that smoothed all these jagged flaws out was the topic of consent. It wasn’t all about the women because men got “taken care of” way more than the women did but the need for consent was always being brought up. The women were never forced into doing a single thing that they didn’t want to do, which was appreciated, even though half the time I was like
But if they were cool with it, then you do you.
The actual legitimate issue I had with this story though was Noelle herself. Rules that heavily restrict society in general is bound to cause turmoil and some massive rebelling and that’s exactly what got kicked Noelle out of her home. She comes off as cute and innocent because that’s what Eden instructed her to be but she’s still got that rebellious streak and it comes out through her interest in sex. It seems like an understandable curiosity at first but this chick is either thinking about sex, talking about sex, or bemoaning how terrible she is for being the way she is. You discover not a damn thing about her character other than this. As Navessa put it ever so eloquently: “she’s basically a clit with legs”.
Despite my abundant issues, this was oddly unputdownable. I’m intrigued by the fact that each story in the series focuses on a different couple but I am hoping that the world-building and characterization is built on as well....more