I’m always a little nervous when I read a new author. And when I say new, I mean to me, because let’s face it, there are simply too many great writers out there for even a book addict like me to have even scratched the surface. I sat down with Rules of Negotiation on a day when the house was clean, the kids were in school, and my wonderful husband was off hunting down lawn and pool supplies. I would have hours of uninterrupted reading time. And it’s a good thing, because I don’t think I would have noticed if dinner was burning.
RON was full of everything I love, a good dose of angst, a great love story, and a writer who knows how to deliver a story. I’ve recently hit a road bump with several writers and their continuity issues within one book. I’ve also run across finding a real disconnect with characters in several books. In more than a few I wanted to throttle the leads and tell them to find some new friends and family to hang with! In Rules of Negotiation we have characters that were likable, I want them to be together, I root for them! Brit is hot and adorable and sexy and smart. And hot. Hey did Imention hot? Tori got to me and not in a bad way. I was so happy to like a female lead this much again! I also enjoyed Betsy, Tori’s assistant. She was funny and straight forward but not in an annoying I-know-better-than-you way.
It’s that time of year to put our summer reading lists together and I highly recommend to all our readers to add Scott’s love story to their TBR! I ended up reading it twice and I have a good feeling I will again this summer. I’ll have to put a * next to the title though …..iced tea and a fan at the ready for some scenes because hot and steamy will be coming from the pages not just Mother Nature. (less)
Melissa McGuire’s a hard working news producer whose job seems to consist of keeping the cute, perky, nightly news anchor on time and out of hot water. Since her last job ended after a nasty breakup with the station manager in Los Angeles, she tells herself she’s satisfied with her current status. She might be happy, but her grandmother Nelly isn’t.
Nelly knows she doesn’t have much time left on this earth so she plans to make sure Melissa falls in love with a good man—someone who’ll look out for her once Nelly’s gone. And the best place to find a good man? A charity auction where the hunky, single firemen are auctioned off to the highest bidder. (Who among us hasn’t dreamed of the gorgeous men who grace calendars everywhere?) But after being burned by the last man she dared to love, Melissa isn’t about to fall into that trap.
Compared to other genres, I don’t read an inordinate amount of contemporary romance, but when I do, I want the story to grab me, the characters to live and breathe. The Fireman Who Loved Me does these things and does them well. I loved Nelly, the meddling grandmother, and the other firemen were great, too, but watching the antagonistic relationship between Melissa and Brody evolve was what made it all worthwhile. This is the stuff of daydreams.
Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without an ex-wife hovering in the wings, an old flame showing up, or other catastrophes dangling overhead ready to drop without notice. And just like in real life, Melissa and Brody almost let love slip away because of stubborn pride. Overall, a cozy, steamy, feel-good story you won’t want to miss.(less)
I have to admit it took me a couple times to get into this book, but I blame since I’ve been on a Cat and Bones marathon and it was quite the switch from one genre to another. The final time I picked up this book I couldn’t remember why I had put it down in the first place. I thoroughly enjoyed Cowboy Crazy.
The characters for me were full of what real people are: love, laughter, and contradictions. I love complex characters but I’m also drawn to people who know their minds. I liked Lane because he knew what he wanted straight away and poor Sarah who maybe, just maybe had enough baggage to keep her from finally letting go and loving someone. Stubborn women and the alpha cowboys who love them, I’ve always been a fan.
The backdrop of Cowboy Crazy isn’t something I’m overly familiar with but the way Kennedy made the town of Two Shot it’s own characters is a plus in my book. It gives the reader a complex landscape to explore as the characters interact and discover what they want out of life and love. Lane’s brother Eric Carrigan had me laughing, lusting, and scratching my head. I would love to see him get his own story where it’s get knocked down a peg or two by a cowgirl.
I’m not going to come out and say this is my favorite book of the year but I am glad I read it. There was chemistry between the Lane and Sarah and darn it if my husband didn’t find me squirming and completely enthralled more than once. I have to recommend a book that makes me laugh, groan, and talk out loud to the characters and Kennedy got me to do all three! In the end I kept myself up late so I could see how Lane and Sarah finally figured out how to be together and I’m not sorry I did. ;)(less)
Stars: Doll Believer: 4 Stars Doll Suz: 1 Star Doll Kitt: 2 Stars Doll Noa: 1 Star Doll Day: 1 Star Doll Eowyn: 1 Star Doll Chrissy: 1 star Doll Mona: 1 Star - DNF Doll Lil: 1 Star - DNF Doll Alli: 1 Star - DNF
Kitt: See what had happened was... It all started with an innocent inquiry from Alli about Fifty Shades of Grey "Has anyone read it?" From there Day, dratted woman ;p, decided we should all read it. Most of us involuntarily volunteered, but what the hell, we're all game for the challenge. Except how to have one review with ten women that would be different - and short (ha! yes, this is the short version!) - hence the Q&A. All the Dolls were charged with reading Fifty Shades, once completed, were to submit two questions. Here's the result:
Did you finish reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY? If not, how far did you make it and why did you stop reading? If yes, how did you rate it on Goodreads?
Day: Yes, I finished the first one. I had to keep reading. I kept thinking... "Okay. Any minute now something really amazing will happen and I will realize why so many women are obsessed with this book." That moment never came for me. I rated it a one on Goodreads. (Sorry)
Noa: Day, that was my reaction too! I kept telling myself "maybe the next chapter...maybe the second book...the third?" Then I realized it wasn't going to happen. This wasn't even a one star series for me.
Mona: I stopped at a point shortly after Ana’s graduation. My inner goddess told me she was going to kick my ass if I didn’t give her something less annoying to read.
Eowyn:Yes, I finished the book and felt I liked it a little more toward the end. I only gave it two stars on Goodreads.
BLVR: Devoured all three. I took time off whenever my feelings were too overwhelmed. The first book was particularly emotional for me.
Alli: I have as of yet not finished. It's not because I don't like it, it's just my pregnant brain won't allow me to read for more than 10-20 minute spans before zoning out and thinking about nesting!
Lil: I did not finish it. I tried repeatedly but could not do it. I stopped at Chapter 4 and decided to skip ahead (something I never do). I got through "basic training" and I couldn't keep going. I became angry because I have a TBR full of really good books I was ignoring them to be annoyed by head cocking, murmuring, and one really noisy subconscious. I reluctantly gave Fiddy 1 star because giving Minus Stars is not an option.
Chrissy: Yes I finished reading it despite the fact that I did not enjoy it.
Suz: Yes, I did finish it although I haven't rated it on Goodreads yet because I've been waiting to do this review first. I give all cliff-hanger endings a one star rating because I believe them to be manipulative marketing thievery. This book will get one star when I rate it for that reason. I read all three of the books, back-to-back.
Kitt: Yes, I did. I read the first two - both I gave 2 stars - and then I had other books to read. I may eventually go back to read the last, Fifty Shades Freed, just to see how it ends.
Suz: Did you begin reading FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY with preconceived notions, and if so what were they?
Day: Yes. Due to all the hype I was expecting the "grand poopa" of books. Something that is extremely well written with incredible character development and a new and unique twists on erotica.
Mona: No preconceived notions here. I tend to take every book on its own merits, but this one had more demerits than merits, IMHO.
Noa: I guess I did. It would be very hard not to with everything going on out in the media and social media world proclaiming it as the literary accomplishment of the year if not decade.
Eowyn: I began reading the book expecting it to be extremely racy considering all of the media hype. I must admit, though it is slightly racy, I found it quite tame to what I had been led to believe from all of the hype.
BLVR: Yes, I did. I had heard a lot of media hoopla surrounding this piece, "Mommy Porn" , "BDSM in the Burbs", "Publishing Phenom". I was very intrigued.
Alli: I had heard some talk of the book bringing sexy back to the bedroom on the radio and how all these women just couldn't put it down. I expected it to be amazing.
Lil: I didn't even know the book existed until Day brought it up. I live with my nose in books or at Swimmer Girl's practice or I'm working (not lots of book discussion there) so I missed all the media attention. But I trust Day's opinion so I did go in thinking I was going to regret it. Which of course made me feel guilty for not giving a new author a chance.
Chrissy: I had a few preconceptions. From what I'd seen online it seemed as if 50% of readers loved it and 50% of readers loathed it so I figured it could go either way.
Suz: Yes. I had heard it was fanfic of Twilight and that it also had a lot of BDSM. I assumed the quality of writing, or at least the editing, might be substandard and was therefore skeptical but tried to remain open minded. My biggest concern, however, was that BDSM would be presented as some sort of psychological and emotional work around for the deeply broken. I think that's how it was presented in the movie The Secretary and I was fearful I would find that to be the case here. In all honesty I had not really exposed myself to too much of the hype other than to be aware of its existence. I don't spend a lot of time scouring sources for controversy as I find it unpalatable.
Kitt: Yes, I believe I did. Even though, like Mona, I try to take every book on it's own merit, it's hard to ignore the massive amount of hype surrounding this book. Going in I thought "This must be one of the best erotic books ever"
Day: Have you read other books that are classified as Erotica fiction? If so, how does this compare? If not, will you now read more?
Day: Yes. This one is nothing spectacular when it comes to the genre. There are some that are much better and some worse. In my opinion, 50 Shades is just mediocre.
Mona: I’ve read a LOT of erotica. Heck, I even corrupted Kitt with my choices. FSoG doesn’t even register on my radar.
Noa: I have read Erotica fiction and many of its sub-genres. As with any genre there are books I enjoyed more and books I enjoyed less. If not for me forcing myself to finish it (see answer 1) I would have stopped in the middle and put it in the "Do Not Read" pile.
Eowyn: I have not read other Erotica books. I can't say that I won't read more after reading this but I'm not inclined to run out and check out all of the Erotica books. I have enough Fiction on my TBR list at the moment.
BLVR: Yes. I often read Erotica written by Emma Holly, Portia Da Costa and several authors who might bristle at being labeled Erotica but whose work clearly fits. I am not a huge fan of Erotica for its own sake, instead I prefer erotic themes or events that are part of a larger work.
Alli: I have not read any books that are classified as Erotica. It's just not my style typically, but doesn't mean I'm not open to exploring it as an option later.
Lil: I have been told over and over if I'm going to write then I had to read everything, fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, Archie and Jughead.... so yes I've read Erotica, I hated it in the beginning, it was torture for my creative juices. Then I discovered Lorelie James and Cat Johnson and what can I say, Giddy Up Cowboy ;). They opened me up to the world of Erotica where there is juicy story line and a plot that makes sense with dominant men and strong women, since then I have found other writers I enjoy but they remain at the top of my list.
Chrissy: Erotica is one of my favorite genres to read. I'm quite fond of the works by Alison Tyler and Rachel Kramer Bussel.
Suz: Yes. This one had comparable heat to other erotica in terms of excessive quantity but the quality of erotica can vary pretty widely and 50 Shades is not exceptional in regards to the quality of the erotica. In fact, given that it was supposed to be kinky I found it to be more than a little tamer than I expected. In terms of quantity I suppose I would praise 50 Shades because the sex scenes were relatively brief and not over written with flowery prose. I did have trouble with suspension of disbelief because the protagonist was a virgin who became multi-orgasmic from her very first experience, but I suppose that’s a trope you could find in just about any romance novel. A wishful thinking trope. As for whether I'll read more, I read a lot anyway and much of what I read is "chick lit." There is often a lot of erotica in that whether it intends to be classified as erotica or not. So I don't think I'll read any more or less than I was reading of it before. I LIKE a bit of sex in my books, I just tend to prefer there to be a STORY with it, too.
Kitt: Mona is one of the worst book pushers! So yes, I've read my fair share.
Mona: After reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, do you think people will assume BDSM will magically revive sexual desire, and if so, will they be brave enough to try it? What happens if their partner is offended/disgusted by it?
Day: If readers are naive, they'll believe anything I suppose. The media sure would like us to believe that millions of women have revived their sex lives with BDSM, but I don't think it's likely. And if it has actually sparked a flame in their bedrooms, I think it will be short lived. Good sex has a lot to do with breaking the monotony and in my experience everything gets old after a while.
Mona: I had to ask this question after seeing a news program about the increase in women buying the 'toys' to spice up their marriages. I wondered if any of them actually had any idea what they were getting into, and what their husbands thought about them just coming up with this out of the blue.
Noa: Mona, I was wondering about that too. I have to agree with Day. I'll add a little bit of wisdom I got from my mom: Spicing up the sex life is awesomesauce. So long as both sides are happy with what's happening. But I doubt it will make readers decide to take on the BDSM lifestyle.
Eowyn: I honestly think it might spice up their sex lives but not with the BDSM life style. I think perhaps women are getting a little turned on from reading the book and perhaps making sex exciting again but I'm not so sure they are adding anything other than some possible role play to the mix.
BLVR: I wouldn't classify these acts as true BDSM but it doesn't matter I suppose. I would hope that a reader would be inspired to bring the themes that move them into their own lives and act upon them. Absolutely! Harry Potter can help children feel brave and courageous. There are countless examples of literary characters or scenes giving people solace, hope, courage and inspiration. If 50 Shades helps reignite a romantic spark - I'm all for it! These games are not for everyone and there will be readers who will stop reading or simply enjoy being voyeurs.
Alli: To be quite honest, a book shouldn't be the catalyst to revive someone's sex life. Reading about non-vanilla sex might make them desire sex more with their partner, but would it make them branch out and try something new? Probably not.
Lil: What Day said.
Chrissy: I'm sure that many readers will view it that way but both parties are not always apt to participate. If it works for them then great if it doesn't at least they can say that they tried. Although I agree with Alli, it shouldn't be the catalyst.
Suz: Although 50 Shades uses the correct shibboleths from the BDSM community and suggests the proper forms it’s not, in my opinion, a BDSM book. It’s a slap & tickle bedroom book in which the virginal, inexperienced female protagonist manipulates and controls the highly experienced but emotionally bankrupt dominant throughout. In the BDSM scene they call it “topping from the bottom.” Since there really isn’t any BDSM other than references and props and a bit of spanking and light bondage, I would say it’s not really a BDSM book. Do I think it will help people feel better about wanting to shake up their sex lives and try something “new and naughty?” Yes. It already is. Will that be BDSM? I doubt more than a very few people will find their way into a BDSM community or lifestyle from these books. As for partners that are offended/ disgusted – I suppose they will do what curious partners have been doing from the beginning of time: either forget about it or go exploring on their own.
Kitt: What is there really to add to this that hasn't already been said, except no, I don't think the majority of women will suddenly feel the urge to take BDSM into their bedroom. At least I didn't. However, I do think that this book is having the same effect of other erotic romances by giving the women the urge to have sex more often.
Chrissy: If you enjoy the overall storyline of a book, can you overlook the unnecessary reiteration throughout a novel or does it annoy you? Example: the continuing emphasis on the fact that Ana is a bookworm and that Christian is gorgeous.
Day: Yes. IF I enjoyed the overall storyline those things could be overlooked.
Mona: A book must be really good for me to overlook something that annoying. Oh, my.
Noa: I think it would be very difficult to say. There are just so many things that annoyed me in this book. Ana's inner goddess, Christian's hair, Ana's inner goddess, her other inner character, her inner goddess... See? annoying right? And the storyline didn't help.
Eowyn: I think perhaps I can overlook unnecessary reiteration if I'm really enjoying the book. For most of this book I felt it was strained and I was back in High School.
BLVR: I did overlook it eventually. I found that the character development and story arcs became increasingly interesting enough to make me more generous towards forgiving certain crutches the author employed.
Alli: Probably. I do get annoyed with repetitive themes being beaten into my skull, but if the story is amazing I tend to ignore the nagging voice inside my head.
Lil: No I can't. I tried. Really really hard.
Chrissy: For me, it takes away from the book and can be the difference between whether or not I like a book at all. Writing style is very important to me as both a reader and a writer.
Suz: It depends on the book and whether or not I’m getting properly lost in the story and characters and the world. Generally if it’s annoying me it’s also pulling me out of the “world.” There was a lot of annoyance factor with unnecessary reiteration in this book. In fairness, that does improve a bit as you move through each book but since we’re only talking about the first book I’d have to say it was above average annoying in this book, but not as bad as I have seen in some books by much more established authors.
Kitt: I'd have to really like the book. But like Chrissy, it can make or break a book for me. In Fifty in particular, I couldn't ignore it, like a little electric shock every time she mentioned her inner Goddess, her subconscious, every time she said 'Oh my'
Kitt: What are your thoughts on Anna and Christian in general? Were they well developed or one-dimensional? How about the secondary characters of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY?
Day: Unimpressed all down the board. More development with all characters would have been nice.
Mona: Paper dolls. Repetitive paper dolls.
Noa: There were characters in 50 Shades of Grey? O_o
Eowyn: Character development was lacking.
BLVR: Yes - I believe that James imbued her Ana & Christian with complexity. But Ana could have acheived a higher level of complexity without a doubt. I think James was exceptionally brave in the last book when she gives us Christian's POV of his first meeting with Anna. He is truly unappealing and a cad.
Alli: Like most of the other dolls, I felt that the character development was very one-dimensional. We learn about them at only the most superficial level. I had a hard time connecting to Ana and Christian, which makes me like the story a lot less.
Lil: I didn't really read enough to make an observation about character development. I can say the characters did not draw me in and I didn't find myself invested in them in the least. I guess that made it easier to put the book down.
Chrissy: I strongly agree that the characters were one dimensional.
Suz: It was fairly poor in the first book but improved a bit as you move through the rest of the trilogy, for both the protagonists and some of the secondary characters. In the first book there was so much reiteration and so much mind talk that seemed juvenile and insipid that it left the characters fairly flat. I think that time could have been better spent developing situations to put the characters in that would have shown us their characters.
Kitt: I'm going to agree with Suz here, and some of the other Dolls. As the books continue, we do get to see further growth from both Christian and Ana, but for Fifty Shades by itself, both characters were flat. <laughs at Noa>, I could see how you missed them.
Lil: How did you feel about the POV? Was the inner dialogue helpful to you as a reader or distracting from the story?
Day: My thoughts on Ana's inner dialogue? Annoying. Personally, I wanted to scream at her to shut up about her inner goddess. But that is just me.
Mona: My inner goddess kicked the crap out of her inner goddess….and her noisy subconscious, too. Just shut up and let me read.
Noa: Her inner goddess, her subconscious... I take it back, there were characters in 50 Shades, they were all in Ana's head.
Eowyn: I have to agree with the rest of you on the inner dialogue. I was so sick of her inner goddess! I wanted to scream at her inner goddess and it didn't even make sense to me the things her inner goddess would be doing. I mean really? I think inner dialogue can be helpful but in this book I wanted to scream at it.
BLVR: A-ha!!! I loved it! I really did! Those are the moments and devices that make literature great. A visual medium could not have done those moments justice. James chose a clever way to showcase her character's logic fighting with her libido.
Alli: I teeter-tottered between meh and annoyed with the inner dialogue. By the way, where's my inner goddess these days?
Since this is a short novella, there’s not a lot of time for character development, and some of you may find that detrimental. But if you’re looking for something different and hot, this might interest you. It’s definitely for those of you who like some spice in your books, but don’t have a lot of time to read.