*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Right from the start, Linger is a pretty easy read, so I didn't expect it to have such a mature view on the BDSM lifestyle. Many of the stories in this subgenre rely on swanky clubs and a rigid set of rules on which to base their content; take the story outside of the club, take away the fancy equipment, take away the unending rules, and the relationship between the characters falls flat. Linger isn't like that. It is a celebration of open Montana skies and a love that can overcome even the most traumatic memories.
Author Lauren Jameson has crafted these characters with layers of confidence, doubt, realistic expectations, and fragile hopes and dreams, so that when they interact, it is on a personal level and always progresses their very organic-feeling connection. The emotion in Linger shimmers just below the surface for most of the book, the manifestation of a heart-rending story just waiting to burst free.
Something else I really enjoyed about the story is the unexpected depth of the characters - both of them. Logan is truly an alpha male, a former soldier-turned-veterinarian who only submits in the bedroom. Scarlett is a newly minted Domme who understands that all people have different needs and it's her job give her sub what he needs rather than what he stubbornly insists he wants, even when that delivery is emotionally or physically painful for her. She's commanding without being a bitch and calmly holds control without seeming overbearing. The perfect combination.
Linger may not be glossy and posh and sophisticated, but it has a whole lotta heart. I believe even readers who aren't into BDSM can get lost in this couple; incorporating kink into your everyday routine is as unique and individual as the people practicing it, and those with an affinity towards the lifestyle should enjoy the nuances of the connection between Logan and Scarlett.(less)
*** This review is spoiler-free! Read on with confidence! ***
Bad boy lead singer and guitarist Zachary Fox is intense. You could call him 'alpha' but he's a whole lot more diverse and sophisticated than that, and not the controlling brute the "alpha" moniker has come to imply. Fox is a beautiful, captivating cascade of layers, each potent and addicting in its own way. Gentle when it's right and forceful when necessary, this man is always in charge of his own destiny and pulls off control with a flair and confidence that makes most other "alpha" characters look simple and bumbling in comparison.
Molly Webster starts off as someone with serious emotional hurdles to jump and throughout the story grows to be a mature, brave, sensitive, and supportive young woman, testing and pushing all her boundaries. I love that Fox's perfect match - his soul mate really - isn't some glammed up super-skinny celeb or a starry-eyed groupie, but an intelligent and clever girl-next-door with a heart as big as New Zealand.
Rather than the forced union of collective chaos some rock bands seen to be, these guys are genuinely long-time friends who make music for the joy of the artistry despite the intrusive fame factor. Even better, this story has heart and goes beyond the typical rock stereotype to lay the groundwork for a series rich in friendship, loyalty, camaraderie, and support... and, of course, sinfully hot rock stars.
Rock Addiction showcases those complex, vibrant emotions Ms. Singh is known for and it has a lot of sex. Way more than fans of her Psy-Changeling novels have come to expect. It's a nice change, brimming with sensuality without crossing the line into eroticism despite all that page time devoted to dancing between the sheets... and against the wall... and in the elevator...
This story may have been written on a whim, a tale that begged to be told amidst Ms. Singh's myriad other deadlines and obligations, but it is perfectly positioned to spin off an entire series around not just the band, but the central couple of Rock Addiction through friends on both sides. Fans of Olivia Starke's two rock band romance universes will most definitely love Rock Addiction, particularly with the concurrent storylines I foresee in this series' future. Some very promising groundwork had already been laid for those other stories and I'm excited to see what's next! Luckily for fans, we don't have to wait too long for the next story in the series, already slated to release in late September.(less)
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Set in a supernatural version of one of my favorite places in the world - the San Francisco Bay area - Night's Honor opens with leisurely pace that smartly sets the scene without boring the reader or trying to stuff in too much. In the world of the Elder Races, there are many different kinds of monsters; most are beautiful, all are deadly to humans, and humans not only know of their existence but coexist beside them. Tess, our heroine, is plucky, intelligent, stubborn, and desperate, leading her to bid for a Vampyre's patronage at their annual swanky ball. She knows her limits and what she is willing to do to secure safety, making her a unique potential a commodity to Vampyre Xavier Del Torro. Close friend and advisor to the king of Nightkind, Xavier quickly proves himself to be more tolerant and patient than most of the others of his race, and is a constant enigma that keeps Tess intrigued and curious even through her fear of him.
Xavier is elegant and reserved and urbane, with a warm heart and quick mind. Lethal too, spymaster that he is, yet he cleverly hides it beneath a civilised veneer of decorum and neutral politeness. As I got to know him though - as he opened up to Tess throughout the book - I loved his poet's soul and the little Spanish heritage nuances in his speech and mannerisms. Xavier could very well be the inspiration for the colloquialism "still waters run deep".
Tess could have easily been one of those heroines who doesn't know when to stop being stubborn and causes problems for everyone around her, but she actually shows real growth of character throughout the plot arc and that pacing is perfect. Tess is determined and courageous and not afraid to confront her fears or work on improving her flaws. I respect that a lot in a person and even more so in the female lead of a paranormal romance story, where the author could easily just cheat and find a magical solution or gloss over the trouble spots. Readers of paranormals are generally willing to suspend disbelief to a decent degree, but author Thea Harrison doesn't need to take advantage of that, having crafted such a solid, believably enjoyable story.
Author Thea Harrison is a master of cleverly weaving words to give just the right amount of history without it becoming overwhelming and delivering the message in ways that make complete sense, adding to the story rather than a filling in as some cheap diatribe meant to simply spew information. This is my first time reading a Thea Harrison book and I am an instant fan. Her style of storytelling is complete, weaving in little details that don't make an impact to the overall story yet greatly enhance the personalities and motivations of the characters. Each section of text, no matter if it is a dialogue or memories resurfaced or a seemingly unimportant aside, feels organic and like an important piece of the greater whole. I never found myself wanting to skip sections or getting bored with backstory and the in-between scenes. Night's Honor is just... complete, and thoroughly entertaining. Such beautifully expressive prose. Count me in as a new reader of the Elder Races series!(less)
*** This review contains some spoiler information, mostly similar to what you can read on the book's public blurb, but be fore-warned. ***
Bliss is a l...more*** This review contains some spoiler information, mostly similar to what you can read on the book's public blurb, but be fore-warned. ***
Bliss is a look inside the inner workings of a perfect society, one where everyone - even the criminals - are happy and crime is almost non-existent. Like every other utopian paradise ever attempted, life in Beulah is indeed too good to be true. Criminals seem "happy" because they've been implanted with behavioral modification chips that force them to behave that way, even if they are screaming inside for a way out of the prison of their own minds.
When Rory comes into Beulah and is accosted by Tate, Tate is quickly assigned as his "rezzy", a live-in indentured servant for 7 years. Tate is not gay and he has other obligations outside of Beulah that he urgently needs to respond to, but his behavioral chip has him doing all sorts of things he never thought he would and never wanted to do. Rory, like most citizens of this idyllic city, has no clue about the viscious battle raging inside Tate and takes Tate's compliance - enthusiasm, even - at surface level. As events start to unfold, it becomes more and more obvious that nothing is as perfect as it seems, and Rory has some hard choices to make.
Although it felt a little underdeveloped in places, I ultimately enjoyed this story. I enjoy reading about characters challenged by enforced psychological stresses, and Tate's dilemma is certainly that. I also appreciated the burden of guilt and responsibility Rory bears and how he handles everything in the end. By creating this utopia, the authorities of Beulah are playing god, forcing sexual orientation choices on rezzies and taking away their voices completely. This very personal subjugation is both horrifying and fascinating.
If you enjoy stories like Bliss for the sexual orientation struggles the characters undergo, try L.A. Witt's Static, a story about a person who can change genders at will and is forcibly stuck in his male form. The relationship between the protagonist and his boyfriend is well-written, and really makes you think about the restrictions we put on other people due to our own beliefs in "right and wrong". Check out the GraveTells review of Static here: http://gravetells.com/contemporary-ro...
If you're looking for something along the lines of Bliss but more hardcore, check out Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz's psychosexual thriller The Flesh Cartel. You can read the GraveTells review of it here: http://gravetells.com/2014/08/03/book...(less)
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Beyond Addiction starts off with a bang - literally, Kit Rocha just kicked this series into high gear! Aside from the off-the-charts sexstravaganzas, one of the most exciting things about a Kit Rocha Beyond novel is the action. Beyond Addiction takes us into a new sector, introduces us to people with a different way of life and a pretty gnarly hobby. The resulting action sequence is gritty and wild, a ride of a different kind and a totally immersive experience to read. From Fight Night to top shelf liquor to stealth supply runs to almost-strip poker, the O'Kanes don't do anything halfway.
I love the interactions between the characters in this series and how each new book gives use more glimpses into the relationship nuances between couples (and potential couples) like Ace & Cruz, Mad & Doc, Dallas & Lex, and peeks into the personalities of future O'Kanes - like Jared - really add to the heart and soul of the storyline. This series is always building, always growing and giving readers something exciting and tantalising to look forward to. As tensions between the sector leaders grow, the O'Kanes just get tighter and more loyal to each other and it's part of what makes them so addicting. Everyone wants to be loved and accepted like that, and Finn's outsider status lets us see Sector Four through the eyes of the less privileged, the non-believers.
I really enjoyed the dynamic between Finn and Trix, especially since they have such a loaded and heavy history together. He was an enforcer for the man she ran away from, a scheming drug lord who's been a thorn in Dallas' side for years. It's not easy to earn the respect of the O'Kanes, even less to be offered their ink and a place at their sides, and even with Trix's support, Finn has a tough road ahead him and his choices are some of the most painful this series has ever seen.
I'm not a tattoo girl, but every damn O'Kane book has me giving it another look. Think I'd regret it 20 years from now if I got a set of Dallas' cuffs? Naaah. O'Kane for life!(less)
*** This review covers the entire serial of the Flesh Cartel*** *** To see the whole review, including extra quotes and links to related articles by th...more*** This review covers the entire serial of the Flesh Cartel*** *** To see the whole review, including extra quotes and links to related articles by the authors, find it on GraveTells here: http://goo.gl/0V0ED6
The Flesh Cartel by authors Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau should not be considered a romance. It is a brilliantly crafted work of dramatic fiction about human sex trafficking, based on real psychology and a fairly plausible chain of events. This story is not for everyone, and readers will react to it in a variety of ways. It is brutally honest in the telling, and the resolution at the end of the story is just as compelling as the complete absence of hope throughout its middle. The Flesh Cartel was originally released in the serial format, in nineteen individual novella-length segments over the course of nearly two years. This delivery in itself is brutal, considering how impactful and addicting each “season” is. After reading the first few installments, I knew I’d have to wait ’til the very end to write my final review.
Reviewing a story like this is somewhat of a personal risk, due to its sensational and taboo nature, much like writing it must have been for the authors. You see, a piece of work like The Flesh Cartel addresses some extremely sensitive topics and digs deep into the psyche of the characters. I became so immersed in the story that just about every new chapter had me crying and flinching along with the fresh horrors – some physical and some mental – visited on the Carmichael brothers. What happens to Mat is downright vicious since he is intentionally allowed to keep his self-awareness; it’s important for his spirit to remain unbroken so that he still cares about staying alive when they fight him like a dog and subject him to the most atrocious tortures. Doug’s experience, while more pampered – if you can even call it that – is much more traumatic psychologically, as he is completely mentally reconditioned and nearly irrevocably changed as a person.
I found myself fascinated by the brilliance of the psychological manipulations inflicted on the slaves (particularly the various and subtle ways the brainwashing was seeded and reinforced for different character roles and situations) and even turned on by some of the voyeuristic scenes, and this is where recommending or promoting this story gets dicey. Whether or not someone may like The Flesh Cartel is so personal that I can really only relate my reading experience. Almost everyone has kinks, some mild enough to not actually be considered all that ‘kinky’ by mainstream society, some very extreme and generally deemed socially unacceptable, and many spanning the spectrum between. Some kinks can be linked directly to personal experiences and some simply just are. Society tends to judge things it doesn’t understand or agree with, and The Flesh Cartel is full of – and based upon – taboo topics.
Is this story right for everyone? Absolutely not. Many readers may have trouble getting through the violent and exceptionally abusive nature of the events to see the underlying messages of perseverance, love, hope, family, and respect. Some people will have suffered past personal trauma, and the events in this series will bring it to the fore. Whether that is ultimately healing or hurtful is an individual decision for each reader, but the warning is there. For me this story was a harrowing journey that frightened, disgusted, intrigued, fascinated, aroused, and finally brought a warm feeling of joy to my heart.
The Flesh Cartel is a complete work, more psychologically immersive, raw and risky, than anything else I have ever read. This is the story of just how monstrous the human psyche can become – how well it can bend to justify any and all acts of depravity – and how buoyant the human spirit is, to be able to recover from such a deeply damaging ordeal. Parts of The Flesh Cartel will be very difficult for some readers to get through, and some may elect not to finish it at all. Others may find themselves inexplicably drawn to it, uncomfortably aware of new desires and personal realizations.
Whatever the case may be for you, if you choose to read this story, please go into it with an open mind and the knowledge that it does have a happy ending for all the right people. This book covers some very dark territory but that increased emotional range also allows the authors to connect with readers on a deeper, more visceral level. Fans of Captive In The Dark by C.J. Roberts will probably enjoy The Flesh Cartel; both are about sex trafficking and psychological reprogramming, include a romantic element, and are brutally descriptive in their portrayal of the trade. This might also be a good fit for fans of Cherise Sinclair’s Masters of the Shadowlands series who enjoyed the rougher elements of the Harvest Association plotline.
The Flesh Cartel is one of the most memorable stories I have ever read and has stuck with me all these months (seriously, all twenty-freaking-two of them!) while i waited for each new chapter to released (and this is why I dislike serials, hah! They make me crazy with the waiting!). There were times when thinking about these characters and the atrocities each new episode visited upon them consumed me to the point of being unable to sleep. Despite the violence and abuse that defines the story – or, perhaps, because of it – I thoroughly enjoyed the read and wish I could start it all over again for the first time. Kudos to authors Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau for being willing to take a risk on writing such a boldly compelling story.(less)
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Even though this is book three in the series, you can easily pick it up and dive in without being too confused. There are a fairly large amount of characters contributing to the story who were introduced in the past two books but Risky Game mainly focuses on Brody and Shay.
Something that I really liked in this book, which is a nice change from the last one (Foolish Games), is that the story arc feels well-paced and the hero keeps his caveman moments to an attractive minimum ('William the Conquerer' was decidedly less level headed!). Shay is also a refreshing heroine, a woman who is intelligent, confident, brave, driven, and has a remarkably thick skin. She's a perfect match for the famous Blaze tight end playboy, with his millions and charm and magazine good looks.
The book doesn't really have any surprises and reads more like a traditional or Regency romance in that respect - you can pretty much tell from the start where it's headed - but the story is well-crafted and entertaining throughout. The relationship chemistry (and not just sexually) between the protagonists is excellent and, while their love story is open-door, Ms. Solheim doesn't abuse that balance by adding in unnecessary sex scenes or giving lascivious detail where it doesn't enhance the reading experience. Risky Game is a true, classic contemporary romance.
Want to start from the beginning of the Out of Bounds series? Check out Game On. Risky Game is a fun, engaging read with likeable, relatable characters who practicality feel like family. All the critical plot strings are tied up nicely, leaving only a few tantalizing lead-ins for the upcoming books. If you haven't read this series and you're a fan of football and contemporary romance, definitely add this one to your list! (less)
The Perfect Hostage grips you from the very first page and keeps up its addicting momentum through the entire (not nearly long enough) story. I loved...moreThe Perfect Hostage grips you from the very first page and keeps up its addicting momentum through the entire (not nearly long enough) story. I loved John Quick and his southern boy drawl - which was very well done by the way, right down to the slang and colloquialisms. I could practically hear his accent and see his swaggering stride, and that's a big accomplishment with this Texas gal reviewer. I adored the way John's badass loner outlook was paired so nicely with Lucy's yearning for family, close relationships, and safety. Their sexual chemistry was superb and creative and the story arc was perfectly paced and constantly filled with excitement of one kind or another.
My only complaint about the book was that it wasn't longer! There were a lot of references to what was likely the first book (or more) in this series, particularly the story starring Zara and Lawson, but I didn't feel overwhelmed or confused by the extra characters or history. This can definitely be read as a stand alone but I imagine you'll enjoy it a lot more (particularly the ending) if you've read any previous books in the series first. A quick read with engaging characters and an exciting spy romance storyline, The Perfect Hostage is a must read!(less)
Not every book by an author is right for a reader, even if you think you're a superfan. Here's why...
I straight up salivate over Tessa Bailey's Line o...moreNot every book by an author is right for a reader, even if you think you're a superfan. Here's why...
I straight up salivate over Tessa Bailey's Line of Duty series - all those buff, commanding, confident men in uniform with their demanding bedroom personas and the flash-fire sparks of lust practically shimmering of the pages... mmm, sexy! Going into Unfixable, I expected more of the same and was REALLY looking forward to it. This book, however, reads and feels vastly different from the stories in that series, so much so that I actually looked it up to make sure the author was indeed the same Tessa Bailey.
For starters, Unfixable is told in first person present tense rather than the traditional third person past. This is a writing style that evokes very strong reactions in me, most of them on the not-so-positive end of the spectrum, unfortunately. The main character, Willa, has a very negative perception of herself and I find it tough to be in the headspace of someone like that, especially in the first person POV. Sure, she has some entertaining snark and humor (usually self-deprecating, or used to redirect an uncomfortable conversation path), but her general outlook on life is that she's broken and doesn't want to be fixed. Despite the charisma and mystique of her love interest, sexy Irish boy Shane, I had a hard time enjoying the storyline with all the negativity floating around in her/my head.
Race car driver Shane is closer to Ms. Bailey's other heroes than Willa is to the other heroines and has that brooding, mysterious, smokin' hot bad boy attitude, so I did grow to like him and appreciated the emotional weight of his back story. Their chemistry is intense and well-written and the supporting characters are all memorable and unique. That said, and even though they were 'memorable and unique', I disliked some (most) of the supporting characters. Perhaps it was the neediness of Shane's mother or the duplicitous nature of his sister's new boyfriend (who is first introduced as a pick-pocket preying on tourists) or even the over-the-top energy and changing moods of his sister. All this, combined with the angsty personality of the heroine, just really put me off.
Even so, there is a subtle undercurrent of humor in Unfixable, which made for some great laugh-out-loud moments and helped balance the heavier atmosphere of the story itself. Overall this was a good read with a turbulent story arc that fans of tightly focused first person romantic narratives will probably enjoy. The end was a whirlwind of breathless romance and wraps up tidily just when you think all may be lost (kind of reminded me of that scene at the end of Twilight New Moon where Bella is running toward Edward to keep him from throwing his life away. Hey don't hate, Twilight has its moments too!). Personally, I can't get past the first person present writing style and the angsty personality of the heroine to want to re-read Unfixable or any potential other books in this series, but it ended well and had a good emotional arc so I'm glad I gave it a shot. I actually had to let this review sit for nearly a month before I could separate myself enough from the disappointment and negativity I felt about it. There are a lot of readers out there who loved Unfixable, but I am not one of them. (This makes me very sad because I honestly wanted to love this. We named as Tessa one our GraveTells 2013 Debut Authors of the Year!)
Lesson learned? The New Adult genre and first person present tense point of view are just not for me, no matter how much I like the author.(less)
Set in my old stomping ground of Austin TX, A Night of Misbehaving was a trip down memory lane, with its whirlwind tour of the Austin hot spots and cu...moreSet in my old stomping ground of Austin TX, A Night of Misbehaving was a trip down memory lane, with its whirlwind tour of the Austin hot spots and culture. The story itself is much more "normal" than many of the contemporary romances out there today... no military guys with their insanely dangerous jobs, no billionaires with their innocent ingenues, no vamps or weres waiting to sink their sensual teeth into their unsuspecting human partners. This story is about real people, single "Super Mom" and "Sexy Dad" who do normal parent activities and love their children and just want to take a night for themselves. And hey, if that night of misbehaving turns into more, everybody wins.
The heat between Brent and Georgia is good and the initial clash of their personalities is believable. The one thing that kept pulling me out of the story, though, was the dialogue. It felt a little to formal or "written" to be truly conversational, especially in the heat of the moment and knowing first-hand how people in Austin actually speak. I just can't see Brent telling Georgia he wants to "climax" inside her or her telling him she wants to see how she "affects" him. Not to say that's how ALL people in Austin speak, but it just didn't resonate with this Texan gal.
Otherwise though, this is a fun quick read with a 'happily-for-now' ending. If you like the 1 Night Stand series from Decadent Publishing, you'll probably also enjoy this and others from Entangled's Indulgence line.(less)
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Darlin' don't say a word, 'cause I already heard What your body's sayin' to mine
(That song has been in my head since I put this book on my reader! And oh how appropriate it is for the story.) Slow Hand doesn't waste any time diving into the attraction between the characters, and still gives the necessary backstory to make everything believable. The chemistry between Jared and Teri is instant and intense. One of the things I enjoyed most about this story was how creative the love scenes were... not in a 'wow, that's new' sort of way but that Jared doesn't rush into the "good part" like many stories do, and he fully enjoys Teri's body in ways many books don't take the time to explore in the quest for consummation.
I want a man with a slow hand I want a lover with an easy touch I want somebody who will spend some time Not come and go in a heated rush
(There's that song again.) On the other hand, while definitely hot, there were a few things that bothered me about the love scenes. There's a lot of (what I think is) unnecessary talking. Some talking is good, ups the heat level, especially if it's in the right tone of voice and in the right circumstances, but too much takes me out of the scene. The sex language is also a little overly colorful, not quite purple prose but reminiscent of it. People's skin doesn't taste like candy or desserts (unless you rub something like that on it first) and there are some adjectives I just don't want to see in the middle of a sex scene, like 'turgid'.
All that aside, this was a fun quick read with a lot of heart and one very patient and gentle pirate determined to sweep his woman off her expensive designer stilettos. Teri and Jared have such easy and comfortable chemistry, their playfulness is infectious and makes me want to charter a boat sailing the Caribbean right now!
I found a lover with a slow hand A lover with a slow hand And I get all excited with his easy touch I found somebody who will spend the night Not come and go in a heated rush
(Now will this song PLEASE get out of my head?! Is it in your head yet? It's all yours - you can keep it!!)
*This story first appeared in the print edition of Pure Sex in Kensington Books’ Aphrodisia imprint. This version has been revised, updated, and is a little longer than the original.(less)
To read an exclusive interview with the Laura Kaye on East of Ecstasy, g...moreTo read the full review, check it out on GraveTells here: http://goo.gl/jVM0Hn
To read an exclusive interview with the Laura Kaye on East of Ecstasy, go here! http://goo.gl/Si3cTR
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Intense. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think about Devlin’s story. Complex and charming and emotional. As the son of the outcast and evil Eurus, Devlin is the god of autumn rain and is the heir to the East wind, if the other Anemio can ever beat the Cardinal God of the East who has been making their lives such hell for the past year. This is the last book in Laura Kaye’s outstanding Hearts of the Anemoi series and the story arc comes full circle in a way that you’ll only fully get if you’ve read all the books from the start. The mistrust and animosity towards Devlin is heartbreaking but understandable given the awful history the Anemoi have had with his father. Devlin’s view of himself is low from a lifetime of being put down and mistreated, and it resonates painfully throughout the book. How can someone who has been so terribly manipulated, abused, and beat down by his father, physically and emotionally, think he’s got any good in him at all? This is a constant struggle for Devlin and Anna is the one outlet he has for finding his sense of self and value. She is my favorite of the heroines in the series, innately strong in character with a warm heart and gentle warrior’s soul. She may not go into battle with her man, but she will make damn sure he’s as strong as he can be and for the right reasons.
It’s not all doom and gloom though; there’s some great humor in East of Ecstasy as well. We also get to see a satisfying amount of interaction with the other Anemoi from the rest of the stories, particularly Zeph and Owen, and the alternate point of views give necessary depth and perspective to the overall sequence of events and character motivations. I also really like that while the villain of the series is the master of the East wind, Ms. Kaye takes great care to express that the wind or autumn itself that is not inherently evil, only the being who wielded it. Compelling and politically relevant, there’s a deeper message in there if you look close.
My reaction as I started reading the final showdown of the series? Oh. My. God. Heartbreaking. Stunning. Vivid and beautifully wrenching.
Easy of Ecstasy is hands down Laura Kaye’s best work to date and a ride so intense and shocking it will have you sobbing over your e-reader. This story is the epitome of great, entertaining storytelling, and that doesn’t always mean a happily-for-every-good-guy-ever-after. What makes EoE such a satisfying conclusion to an already stellar series is the care and patience that went into crafting and placing the pieces of the overall story. Every character has a healthy backstory and something both at risk and to fight for. Losses and sacrifices keep the events believable without becoming overwhelmingly traumatic for the readers. I didn’t want it to end but I couldn’t bear for it to go on, and it wraps up so beautifully! Laura Kaye has outdone herself.(less)
***This review is spoiler-free! Read on with confidence!***
One of the things that always sets apart a Nalini Singh novel is her ability to craft beautifully expressive and poignant prose. More than just a reflection of an elegant and extensive vocabulary, Ms. Singh's stories come alive with vibrant imagery and a seemingly effortless style of character development that showcases deep bonds and exceptional personal traits in her heroes and heroines. Vasic is one of those standout individuals who has been involved in recent storylines but always stood apart, a snowy bastion of incredible strength and loneliness. What better partner for a man who has been brutally trained and molded into one of the world's most efficient killing machines since the age of four, than Ivy Jane, an emerging leader in the mysterious and long-buried empathic Psy E-designation.
Another brilliant aspect of Ms. Singh's writing is that even in a series as long as the Psy-Changeling, the couples and their individual story arcs never get repetitive or formulaic. Each book focuses on a different set of characters while furthering the overall storyline and building out the supportive traits for other characters in the story universe. I find it nearly impossible to pick a favorite couple because each book is so integral and unique, and each relationship special and necessary in its own way.
Without giving too much away, one of the things that makes Shield of Winter an excellent addition to this series is its focus on the Arrows and who they are as a unit. It really humanizes the elite soldier squad and also provides some insight into their past training and recruitment methods, as well as their capacity to feel and express intimate emotions, participate in personal bonds. Because of how the story falls in the general arc of the overlying plot, there's no singular big bad here to face and that makes Shield of Winter relatively unique among the Psy-Changeling stories. Vasic's transformation from stone cold soldier to loving mate is beautiful and so well written.
Like Heart of Obsidian before it, Shield of Winter is a pivotal chapter in the ongoing Psy-Changeling saga, and Ms. Singh delivers, big-time. This book will have you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails and cheering on Ivy, Vasic, and Sascha and the til-now mysterious squad of assassins known as the Arrows. We get to see a lot of old friends and get to know some new ones, and you will absolutely not be disappointed!(less)
Like all the books in the Rear Entrance Video series, Straight Shooter deals with real world issues that are far edgier and less popularized than the...moreLike all the books in the Rear Entrance Video series, Straight Shooter deals with real world issues that are far edgier and less popularized than the typical male/male or even Dom/sub stories common in the romance genre. Austin's story is just as much of a journey of self-discovery as Christian's and Rob's, except he's not strictly gay and continues to identify that way, sort of toe-ing the line, throughout the book. Austin's kink is humiliation and punishment, and he likes it most when it comes from being sexually dominated by another man.
Liam, Austin's crush, is a bi-sexual porn star who runs his own adult production studio and has made a name for himself on screen as the heavy-handed, take-no-shit Master Puck who breaks in 'unwitting straight boys' until they beg for more. His real personality though couldn't be more different from that, and it's a real struggle for Austin to reconcile what he wants with the real person he actually wants it with, and Liam won't let his new sub be anything but honest with himself.
Of all the stories in this series, I enjoyed this one the most and sped through it in a few hours. Austin started out as someone so uncomfortable in his own skin, so aggressive and defensive and rude that it was difficult to be in his head at first, but his journey is the most rocky and difficult of all of the roommates because of the multiple blurred boundaries he had to face. Watching Austin's transformation was a treat, especially after the complete ass he made of himself in the previous books, and likewise, I enjoyed watching the dynamics between the roommates change as Austin himself started to change.
The Rear Entrance Video series is ideal for male/male romance readers who enjoy, or are at least open-minded about, different sexual orientations and lifestyle choices; it addresses subjects that are less conventionally romantic (and sometimes straight-up uncomfortable) as the characters discover who they are and what they're willing to do to accept themselves. Straight Shooter *can* be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend starting with Apple Polisher to help understand the back story of the roommates and their unique stories.(less)
First of all, the premise for this book is truly unique. A creative blend of gay-for-you, straight, and paranormal/scifi romance, Static is interestin...moreFirst of all, the premise for this book is truly unique. A creative blend of gay-for-you, straight, and paranormal/scifi romance, Static is interesting before you even crack the virtual cover. This is a story about shape-shifters, people whose shift changes their gender rather than their species. The author put a lot of thought into what a gender-shifters reality would actually be like... how their attraction to the opposite sexes works, the societal nuances and expectations, the complications of long term relationships. It's a fascinating pseudo case study in gender identity and the science of attraction.
The romance is well paced, which equates to 'fairly slow while the characters work out their issues', and their chemistry is believable. While it's not a book I would likely read again, Static cleverly presents a sensitive topic and raises necessary questions about the way our society has been programmed to accept and react to gender rules and identities. Static is a breakthrough novel for transgender romance because it cleverly and sensitively bridges the various gender identity potentialities, and author L.A. Witt makes that happen through heartfelt storytelling that reflects a realistically reluctant socio-political atmosphere, wrapping it all up in a sweet shifter romance.(less)
Rebecca Zanetti is an ace at writing strong, sexy alpha males with just the right balance of bossy charisma and tender emotion, and Rising Assets is a...moreRebecca Zanetti is an ace at writing strong, sexy alpha males with just the right balance of bossy charisma and tender emotion, and Rising Assets is a great example of how fun one of Ms. Zanetti's heroes can be amidst all the drool-inducing testosterone. Colton, which is a fabulous name by the way, is the youngest Freeze brother and the financial genius of the family. He also owns and operates his own ranch and is as good on a horse as he is with numbers, but he's a cowboy at heart and excels at his double career path as well as his Sheriff and lawyer brothers.
Melanie and Colt have been best friends since childhood and never gotten together, never stepped over the friend line. Due to a health complication, Melanie's plans for her life have just gotten a major speed boost and suddenly things between them are more than complicated. The sexual tension, as with just about every RZ story, is superb - edgy and steamy and bristling with a saucy-yet-submissive power exchange decades in the making. Melanie doesn't make things easy for Colt and he loves it that way.
I loved the set up of the story elements and the romance and the start of a segue into Hawk's book. I just wish Melanie and Colton's story was a little longer; I haven't had enough of them yet! I felt like the first 3/4 of the story was well-paced and on track, then things speed up considerably at the end. There's an epilogue that wraps things up even further, and I almost would have preferred that scene happened in the next book rather than tying up Rising Assets so neatly and perfectly. I've felt a similar pacing curveball with the other two stories as well so this may just be the result of a having to keep the plot within a specific word limit.
Maverick Montana is a great series and the stories are quick, fulfilling reads. Recommended for anyone who loves contemporary cowboy romances that give the players more freedom of character and memorable power play dynamics.(less)
Stubborn as all get out. That's Southern slang. Look it up in Wikipedia and you just might see a picture of Will Connelly and Julianne Marchione. Big...moreStubborn as all get out. That's Southern slang. Look it up in Wikipedia and you just might see a picture of Will Connelly and Julianne Marchione. Big tough William the Conquerer is easy to anger and just as likely to turn to putty - both, of course, when in close proximity with his lovely in-name-only wife.
Much of the book is set in the cozy little town of Chances Inlet, where I kinda wouldn't mind living (and I'm not normally a fan of 'cozy' settings). Will, however, obviously feels differently and all that time shut away from the town with Julianne and Owen (their son) makes for some nice and easy-paced romantic reading. The love scenes in this book are open door but not gratuitous. Ms. Solheim shows just enough to fit the plot pacing and context and I really respect that decision; it allows the them to develop a relationship as a couple and a family.
Julianne doesn't always make the best choices and she carries a lot of emotional baggage, but she has a good heart and sweet (although sometimes fiery) personalty. She's also as stubborn as Will, so they're a well-matched pair. Will has a serious temper, which made it pretty easy to predict how things would go down at the height of the plot. While it made for great drama, I was hoping he would surprise us with a different type of story turn, one of a couple solidifying their trust rather than letting fear rule. Ultimately though, this all turned out to be a good move by author Tracy Solheim as it led into a very emotional and satisfying turn of events at the wrap-up.
Full of ups and downs and heartache and love, Foolish Games is a great sports read. Recommended! (less)
One of the things I love about romance books is how you can pick whatever kind of hero matches your mood or sparks your interest. The Gray brothers, named for their matching storm-cloud gray eyes, are definitely not your average every day guys, even for soldiers. They were trained since birth to kill, track, and work undercover, and are gifted with heightened senses: hearing, precognition, instinctively knowing the truth from a lie. It generally doesn't go over too well with your employers when you blow up their laboratories and training facilities and make off with their expensive property, especially when said property is four badass world-class killers with a conscience determined to right the wrongs done to them.
Because the characters are capable of so much more, physically and mentally, than normal people, the action sequences and plot arc of Sweet Revenge are all deliciously amped up. The mystery is deep enough to avoid being transparent and predictable but isn't so complicated you need a flow chart to map it out. Which is great, because while I want to be challenged a little intellectually by the books I read, that's not what I'm here for... ya know? *wink* Speaking of, the chemistry between Matt and Laney is superb and his presence is palpable.
Matt dominates every scene he's in, and not just in that I'm-an-alpha-dog-hear-me-roar way (although there's some of that too, for you alpha lovers). Laney holds her own pretty well against the overwhelming force of his personality, and she's definitely got spunk and determination.
We get more involvement with the other two surviving brothers (Nate and Shane) and even a few scenes from Nate's perspective, giving us a teasing glimpse of what it will be like to be in his head whenever it's his turn to fall madly in love. I really like this series and can't wait to see where the storyline goes with the missing brother! Kudos to Ms. Zanetti on another fine Sins Brothers installment, definitely a series to watch! (less)
I saw this story featured on a 1 Night Stand newsletter and couldn't resist the rock star - werewolf - male/male triple threat. Sex, Wolves, and Rock n Roll is a standout quick read, packing a lot of history and emotion into a short, memorable story. If you're a fan of rocker romances with hot preternatural heroes and enjoy a little guy-on-guy action, definitely pick this one up!(less)
From the blurb, I thought I was really going to like this one, but I just couldn't connect with the characters. I found the heroine frustratingly flat...moreFrom the blurb, I thought I was really going to like this one, but I just couldn't connect with the characters. I found the heroine frustratingly flat and the hero too self-controlled, and built up almost no interest in the plot. I started skipping pages around 23% (something I rarely do) and ended up giving up altogether not too long after.
This could just be me - I know not all books resonate with all readers. I was attracted to it for the MMA element but I generally don't care for small-town stories and the mob element was a turnoff. Those are personal preferences. I find it hard to identify with heroines who withdraw and allow themselves to be walked on, even if it is due to past trauma, and while I think some self-restraint is a good way to build up sexual tension, I felt there was too much on the part of the hero. Possibly it was just talked about (in his head) too much - too many references to his cryptic past and why he could never possibly be happy. These elements caused my reading experience to feel more depressing and frustrating than entertaining.
On GoodReads, 2/5 stars is "it was ok", which is pretty much how I felt about Fighting for Irish - it was okay, not not appealing enough for me to keep reading. (less)
***This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
The beyond series books always make me want a tattoo... no, not just a tattoo, freaking sleeves of them, and I am not a permanent ink kinda gal! There are just some things about this series that are incredibly addictive. Besides the ink, which symbolizes belonging to a family of loyal open-minded people, the free-spirited sex and the bad ass cage fighting are to die for. Layer in the slowly unfolding mystery of Eden and the origins of the Sectors, and you've got a hell of a good series. Like, gleefully hedonistic and unapologetically-addicting good.
This is the menage book, the Ace-Rachel-Cruz story we've all been waiting for, and it starts out in trademark O'Kane fashion, with fighting and drinking and tattoos. Beyond Jealousy definitely requires a lot of backstory knowledge to read smoothly through all the references and history looped in, so there were times when I wasn't sure whether the characters were subtly passing on new information or if I was just forgetting the events of previous stories.
Every time I think the Beyond series has hit its peak, Kit Rocha twists it up another level... more secrets, more danger, and an ever-expanding universe for the series with more unique characters and even kinkier possibilities.
My only criticism about the story is that I wanted more intimacy between the men, and not only in the physical sense. They consistently used Rachel as their buffer and I really wanted more Ace-on-Cruz (and vice versa) in the personal little ways that show someone how much you care. That said, this book was hot and the ride was definitely worth the wait!(less)
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
The characters in Feel The Rush are real standouts, each vibrant and unique enough to shine on their own. I love Meagan's sense of snarky humor and straightforward attitude, and also the softer side that she's not afraid to show. And Reed is adorable in that sexy, wanna-jump-his-bones sort of way. His personality flips from cheeky, charming jumpmaster to intense, sincere and all male, and I looked forward to experiencing both equally. The secondary characters, particularly Eva and Luke, were fantastic and thoroughly entertaining.
Feel the Rush is a beautiful romance full of ups and downs, with unexpected twists and heartbreaking revelations. I loved all these characters so much that I didn't want it to end... but end it finally did, going out with the perfect epilogue. Kudos to author Kelsie Leverich on another fabulous new contemporary romance!
*** This review is spoiler-free! Read on with confidence! ***
One of the great things about a Laura Kaye story is you can always count on intense emotion without over-used cliques or boring predictability. Hard As You Can is a standout contemporary romance that honors its ex-military special forces heroes, representing these men in a way that feels realistic, respectful, and grounded. They're not super heroes and they're not perfect; they each have subtle character nuances and fit together as a functional tactical unit. Crystal, in the fine tradition of many of Ms. Kaye's other memorable heroines, brings an alluring mix of vulnerability and strength to the mix and is a great match for Southern boy Shane (who is, in his own right, incredibly hot).
I really enjoyed the action in this one and the unexpected moments of humor and camaraderie. I was glad to see the team starting to mend the rifts in their relationships with each other, and can't wait to see whose swass and swalls we'll get to read about next. ;-)(less)