Author Garrett Leigh serves up such an appealing, authentic foodie experience in Misfits, it's easy to forget that restaurant umbrella company Urban Soul is only fiction: Reading Misfits left me with a craving for Pink's paella, burgers & champagne, and Cass's rib eye steak.
This story is layered with emotion and life choices and shared experiences. Misfits is a beautiful tribute to three very different men, the ties that but them together, and the personal quirks that set them apart. I loved the style of the storytelling: the ambling, believable pacing; the structured passing of perspective at key points in the story; and the originality about everything having to do with these three men and their relationship with one another.
None of the characters is perfect and each of them is compelling in his own unique way. Their sexual chemistry both in pairs and as a threesome is stellar, right hot (imagine I said that in a British accent), and their relationship is ideal for a menage story.
Speaking of—and with—a British accent, I sometimes had trouble internally verbalizing the speech quirks and slang as the story travels through the various districts in London. It didn't put me off or diminish my enjoyment of the story but it did hit home that the author's prose is unapologetically British and the narrative was certainly not edited with the intention to cater to Americans. Even so, I rather enjoyed my stint through London with these three colorful blokes.
Misfits also delves into the personal side of Tourette's syndrome, a gutsy and honorable effort that gives us a glimpse into what a day (or year) in the life of someone living with this condition feels like, how they learn to cope, and how a healthy support system can be built around them....more
Total Surrender, in classic Rebecca Zanetti style, was a whirlwind read and I couldn't put it down long enough to even get a full night's sleep. Ms. Zanetti is a master of her intense, in the action, balls-to-the-wall style, and it's the ultimate addiction. What reader would turn down sexy alpha males, brilliant leading ladies, and an intoxicating combination of suspense and sizzle? Not THIS gal, that's for sure!
One of the things I like most about Ms. Zanetti's writing is how she builds such deep, strong family bonds through each of her series. Sins Brothers especially embodies the spirit of family and brings home how precious those ties can be to those who have nothing else to hold close.
Like his brothers before him, Jory is precisely crafted, a man with brains and brawn in equal measure. He has this fairly scary, inherent darkness, which completely balances a tender heart the size of a Montana sky. Because he's been in a coma for the previous books in the series, we haven't had much time to get to know Jory before now, and he is absolutely a force to be reckoned with. Jory Dean has it all: charm, good looks, smarts, sheer physical size, combat mastery, a warm sense of humor, and a few extra special abilities I'll let you discovery on your own. ;) The reunion between the brothers was all I hoped it would be and a few surprises I didn't expect but completely loved!
Piper is one of the more adorable heroines in this series, although they've all been sweet, spunky, capable, and relatable. I love her smarts and her intrinsic need to see the best in people even as her cynical logic kicks in to play devil's advocate. Piper pretty much just says what she's thinking, without meaning to and without artifice. Since I can relate to that particular trait pretty closely, it was really fun to read about.
With enough epilogue-worthy material to satisfy even the most rabid Tolkien fan, Ms. Zanetti wraps up this series perfectly, with closure for all the main characters and a glimpse of the potential for more action from the Dean brothers in the future. Brava on a book (and a series) beautifully imagined and artfully delivered!
Total Surrender is heart-warming and suspenseful, balancing on a blade's edge between youthful vulnerability and sheer, raw, hardass adult determination. This book is the perfect well-earned closure to an intense, action-packed series.
What a wolf wants is a short-ish story (right at 25000 words) so I'll make this a short-ish review. :)
Th** This review contains minor plot spoilers **
What a wolf wants is a short-ish story (right at 25000 words) so I'll make this a short-ish review. :)
This second book in the joint-effort Black Hills Wolves series will require some suspension of disbelief even for paranormal lovers. I didn't love how quickly Saja just accepted various story elements: - The existence of people who change into giant wolves - Seeing Ryker in a violent situation with little to no emotional repercussions or fear of him - Accepting a permanent, intimate bond with Ryker after only hours of knowing him
Now, all that said, paranormal novellas often come across like this. With such a limited word count, an author can only fit in so much into a story, and some elements just have to be sacrificed.
If you go into this book knowing and understanding that, you'll probably enjoy it. The characters are distinct and likable, the world building is well crafted, and the story fits nicely into the existing series universe without requiring the reader to have read the previous book. What a Wolf Wants didn't have the emotional punch that I've come to expect from Ms. Long's stories, but it was a quick, fun, enjoyable read....more
Served Hot is a cozy read about two men who meet and dance a slow, heartwarming romance over coffee. The story is told from Robbie's POV in first persServed Hot is a cozy read about two men who meet and dance a slow, heartwarming romance over coffee. The story is told from Robbie's POV in first person, which really showcases his adorable personality and geeky Portland ways. David is very "accountant", with his starched shirts and awkward segues, and harbors a painful, emotionally debilitating past.
There were moments in this story that gave real, truly touching, glimpses into the deeper emotions that blend together a couple's yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows. The plot didn't feel contrived or rushed (whew, definitely not rushed!) and each time Robbie would start to get frustrated or fed up with something between him and David, I would find myself reaching that same point as an empathetic observer. And each time, David came back with a realistic and understandable reason for why he is who he is, so the story is believable and well crafted.
Overall, I enjoyed the Served Hot but was hoping for something with more oomph. I felt that this was an okay one-time read but not a book I'll be inspired to go back to or remember much about next month or even next week. It felt somewhat insular, with all the focus squarely on the growth aspects of the relationship. I would have enjoyed seeing through David's POV periodically to break up the monotony a bit, but generally a cozy read with gentle wit and a satisfying ending....more
**spoiler alert** ** This review has no direct spoilers but I'm hiding it anyway because I do hint at some plot points. **
I liked the premise of this**spoiler alert** ** This review has no direct spoilers but I'm hiding it anyway because I do hint at some plot points. **
I liked the premise of this story, and the elements of danger and power exchanges, but it feels like something key is missing. I was particularly annoyed with the sex scenes, where the characters were able to do nearly physically impossible things and completely disregarded some sanitary considerations.
I also liked the idea of the bond between Master and Cass being so strong that he was willing to switch for her, but there's not enough character and relationship building here to support the emotional weight and impact of that in the story, making a gesture which should have been earth-moving come across as just "meh".
I was able to take most everything else in stride until the ending, though. This story does not have a happy ending, not by far. What I didn't realize when I started Wicked Shots is that it is the prequel to a romantic suspense serial and the main character here is not featured (directly) in subsequent books. Part of my dislike most likely came from finding this out the hard way - at the end. I think if I had known going in what I was getting into I might have enjoyed it more, but the turn of events at the end (and realizing I'd just started a serial) actually made me feel a little ill. Sure, I could have better educated myself on the story, but I'm not sure that would change my rating.
*** WARNING: This review contains some spoilers and the story itself is a CLIFFHANGER. ***
Deep breaths. That's what I'm taking as I've just finished Katy Evans' Manwhore, a new book about billionaire playboy Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint and the reporter determined to charm an expose out of him to resurrect her dying magazine. Sounds like a story with a lot of potential, right? It is. Malcolm Saint intrigues and romances both Rachel Livingston and us, the voyeuristic readers hanging on his every word and gesture.
The first real impression we experience of Malcolm is the laser-focused shark he becomes in business, followed closely by the quiet intensity of his personal attention. For a man whose dynamic social life is splashed across every online and print media outlet in Chicago, Saint is a surprisingly private person and holds himself apart from nearly everyone, even his seemingly-best friends. This is a man everyone wants a piece of but no one really gets. Always respectful and considerate yet with ambitions firmly locked on his target, Malcolm Saint channels Real's Remy and Burn For Me's "Mad" Rogan. Saint is the essence of sophisticated potential energy and aggressive business acumen with a raging drive to succeed at all costs. Desired by all but truly liked by few, Saint holds himself apart from everything... except Rachel. All of this, this I liked. The character is smartly layered and would appeal even if he weren't a billionaire or a playboy.
That last part—playboy—is actually where the story starts to lose me. First, the title of this book is misleading. "Manwhore," to me, means loose morals and selfishness, a guy who cares more about getting off than making right. Malcolm might fit that image from the outside but once we start seeing him from Rachel's perspective, he is immediately identifiable as NONE of that. In fact, in this way, Malcolm reminds me a lot of champion fighter Remy, sweet and intense and in single-minded pursuit. When he's with Rachel, the man she likes to call "Sin" is considerate and caring, nothing like the callous manslut the city of Chicago so wants him to be.
The story loses me even further with the cast of secondary characters built around both protagonists. Where Saint's cronies may charm and flirt, they're much closer to the playboy he supposedly can't help but be. Rachel's friends and colleagues, particularly Gina, left a bitter taste in my mouth. I get that they're all fairly young (post-college) and young adults tend to polarize themselves against hurt, protect the ones they care for in the same way. Gina, however, insults and debases Saint's character—a man she doesn't even know!—at every turn, based solely on her own past relationship trauma... and Rachel just takes it, ignores her own instincts! GAH! Gina's predictably timely (and rude) interruptions into the couple's intimate encounters also seriously put me off.
I really wanted to love this book, but the truth is I just can't respect a weak heroine. I can't identify with a woman (no matter her age and life experience) who will let others dictate her very personal life choices: love, career, morals. She deserves to pay the price for that mistake and learn a valuable lesson... and Rachel does learn, but ultimately it is the reader who pays the real price. I don't normally give spoilers in reviews, but if you are a reader who depends on that guaranteed happy ending to get you through the hard parts (as I am), you will want to throw this book across the room. As much as I hate comparing anything to Fifty Shades these days, I kept thinking about that controversial elephant in the room over and over as I read Manwhore...
Article #1: Aloof billionaire bachelor inexplicably obsessed with quirky reporter. No, Fifty's Anastasia isn't actually a reporter, but she meets him that way, doesn't she?
Article #2: Writer with questionable self-esteem hesitantly bursts into said rich man's life and reluctantly caves to his persistent advances.
Article #3: A story which gleefully indulges in stringing out its inevitable conclusion, keeping readers on the hook long after they intuit how this whole situation is going to play out.
Article #4: Straight-up cliffhanger: The book literally ends at the door. Except rather than an elevator closing on Christian Grey's disbelieving face, it is Ms. Evan's fans who will do the begging when the story slams to a close, enforcing an indeterminate wait for a payoff on the reading time invested.
Article #5: Prose which shifts and stumbles, shying away from committing to a consistent style and cadence. If I didn't know this was written by Katy Evans, an experienced and celebrated author with several successful stories in her repertoire (at least one of which I personally have loved!), I'd assume Manwhore was written by a new author still trying to find her voice.
I'm finding it very painful to write and publish this review. Even operating in staunchly New Adult territory, this story could have taken so many positive turns and celebrated youth, but instead, Ms. Evans settled for rehashing an already-tired premise. I am honestly regretful to say that I did NOT love, or even like, Manwhore and, after my bookgasm over Katy Evans' work in Real, Manwhore was one of my more anticipated reads of the spring. Maybe it comes down to genre: this is New Adult, no denying it and no making excuses, and Manwhore comes with all the tropes and cliques you may have come to expect from a story carrying the New Adult label. If you enjoy that style and you don't mind clilffhanger endings, are maybe even a fan of serials, Manwhore will probably be an energizing read for you. As for me, this book is just not my style. ...more
In for the Kill opens with all the addicting mystique of a spy thriller and rolls right into the story like a freight train on a bender. Ballsy, take-no-shit ladies and in your face, brutally honest men duel through the dialogue, cleverly filling in series backstory without being obvious or leaving confusing gaps. These people clearly have a payload of exciting (maybe 'traumatic' is a better word) history together, from woo-woo new "special powers" to jewelry literally designed to kill. We're not in Kansas anymore Toto: Here there be danger, and I dare say I like it!
Ms. McKenna paints each dialogue, every suspenseful interlude and nerve-wracking action sequence as a vivid stroke on a canvas primed with glittering privilege and unfathomable cruelty. Her characters boldy demand attention as they wade neck-deep into the nasty business of human trafficking and slavery, on a mission to protect one woman who has already been forced to sacrifice too much.
Oh, Samuel Petrie! I adored Sam's lovable stubbornness; one of the other characters refers to him as a pit bull and it is a fitting comparison. All he wants is Svetlana Ardova, and he will protect her at any cost, even from herself. Even from him. Sveti matches Sam's stubborn streak and brings an intensity of focus that is both frustrating and admirable. She is willing to sacrifice everything, including Sam's and her own happiness, for the greater good. When these two get together, it's all fireworks and fighting, in just about equal measure. Their sex scenes are intensely passionate (with lots of dirty talk!) and explore the gamut of personal expression, from power exchanges to soul-baring, brutal honesty.
This book is part racy sexscapades through the rich Italian countryside, part brutal no-holds-barred adventure, and all heart-pounding, addicting love story between a man and woman who want nothing more than each other and are willing to fight everything in their way (sometimes even themselves) to get there. Coming in to the series as a first time reader on this final book meant I had a lot of characters and history to catch up on, but I didn't feel overwhelmed or confused for the most part. It absolutely whet my appetite for more of this colorful clan and their histories. Time to start at the beginning of Shannon McKenna's McCloud series!...more
You know that scene from the reboot Star Trek movie where Scottie says "I like this ship. It's exciting!"? Well that's how I felt while reading this book. Blind Faith is most definitely exciting! The story has a lot of elements of romantic suspense and flirts a little with the genre boundary, but I'd say it ultimately falls on the side of contemporary romance with some paranormal elements.
Speaking of ultimate, the Gray/Dean brothers are a hell of a set of alpha heroes! Nathan—like his brothers before him—is serious and radiates a constant lethal edge, and he's willing to sacrifice anything to see his family safe, with the freedom to live long, happy lives. That is, until Audrey dances back into his life. As the daughter of the psychopathic genius scientist who created the brothers to be the ultimate killer soldiers, Audrey must constantly walk the line between trying to live up to her mother's expectations and falling into the manipulations and mind games the twisted scientist thrives on. Both Nate and Audrey have one regret in life and that's losing each other, so to see them come back together after all this time is an intensely satisfying experience.
The story Ms. Zanetti has crafted is stellar, with great action and suspense, believable bursts of adrenaline followed by lulls of quiet. Some of the tactics used by the Dean brothers to communicate and infiltrate are quite brilliant and Audrey herself is far more capable and intelligent than she gives herself credit for. My favorite kind of heroine: determined and smart.
I love the sneak peek at the end of the book for the next book in the series and can't wait for it to come out.
There were several moments in Blind Faith that made me feel like I was in the middle of a Dan Brown novel, which really made me smile. Ms. Zanetti infuses such energy into the story, sprinkled with a nicely crafted cultish mystery, that it's really just a joy to read. Toss in the (possibly) unintentional comedic relief of the Dean brothers at their most protective with the expertly penned fighting sequences, and you've got a book that is nearly impossible to put down!
You may know the name Donya Lynne from her bestselling paranormal series All the King's Men—which has become one of my personal favorite vampire romance series—but you may not have seen her contemporary romances yet, and they are every bit as good.
Finding Lacey Moon is the first book in a series about the people of Hope Falls, a small tight-knit community which is home to almost-star football player Scott McCord and his daughter Savannah. When Lacey, snowboarding champion and two-time Olympic superpipe gold medalist, needs a place to escape to and re-evaluate her life, she lands in Hope Falls. The romance between Scott and Lacey, a.k.a. Mattie, is adorably sweet and slow-building, infusing both characters with vulnerability and sincerity. This book flirts with the top edge of New Adult territory, due to Lacey's age and personal story arc, but (thankfully, for those who spurn that younger-feeling genre) plants itself firmly in adult contemporary romance-land thanks to the maturity of both characters and the heavier feel of Scott's life experiences.
I loved Scott as the hero in this; he's your average (albeit quite hot) everyday man, building a life for himself and his daughter while trying to heal emotionally from a tragic accident that stole his football career years ago. Scott is not "alpha", nor is he a pushover. He is sincere, direct, and respectable, the kind of man you'd want your daughter to date. Mathilda Lacey Moon is a young woman truly finding herself for the first time, and Ms. Lynne did a fantastic job in bringing her—and the sport of women's snowboarding—to vivid life. I felt her triumphs and trials, when she was "communing with the snow" and when she was crashing painfully at the Olympics, as if I were right there in the moment, and it was a heady experience (especially for someone who knows next-to-nothing about winter sports)!
I'm not usually a fan of "cozy" settings in romance books, but Hope Falls works. The people are a little nosy (practically a requirement for "cozy romance") but not annoyingly so, and the town is not so small or secluded that it comes off as awkward or unreal. Hope Falls is like a forgotten paradise where this Texas gal might actually like to go, rent a cabin, and do a little communing with nature myself. Parts of the plot arc were a little predictable but still beautifully delivered, and fans of authors like Laura Kaye will appreciate the strong, genuine emotion the story evokes. If you're up for a contemporary romance and looking for a little snow, definitely pick up Finding Lacey Moon!...more
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! *** * Being Emerald is part of a continuing series and should not be read as a standalone. If*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! *** * Being Emerald is part of a continuing series and should not be read as a standalone. If you must, you must, but I think you'd be cheating yourself. =) *
Being Emerald is as different from the first two books in this series as they were from each other. Rock is... 'intense' is not nearly extreme enough a descriptor for this man. He is complex, unpredictable, overwhelming, stubborn as hell, and addictive. The sex scenes between Rock and Laila are—whew—smokin'! I appreciated each new evolution of their relationship and rebelled against Rock's immovable authority right along with Laila. Sometimes it takes more courage to submit than to fight, and the way Ms. Ryan threads all Rock's "lessons" through to the final plot sequence—transforming the private, personal experiences into life-saving survival skills—weaves a beautiful tapestry of shared trust and determination to succeed at all costs.
Being Amber flirted with BDSM—Xander used it as a tool to help Jaci cope—and Being Sapphire introduced it as a lifestyle choice for the Jordan and Shane, but Being Emerald dives right off into the deep water of pair-bonding. Anyone who has read the series so far knows about the gruff, domineering armor Rock wears like a shield, but it's not just a shell; those alpha traits are a compulsion and control is a requirement for his happiness. The relationship Rock and Laila build is hard won, and I don't think either one of them would like it any other way. He needs—truly craves and relishes—her dependency and total submission to his will, and she loves him so much that she can't keep from giving him everything, yet she's independent and spunky enough to need to hold back and (sometimes unintentionally) brat a little. All the main personalities so far in the series have been very strong, vastly different from one another and particularly memorable. Most of them haven't changed much from when we first met them in Being Amber, but Journey is one you can see slowly growing throughout the books. I'm curious to see where her path wanders in her own story, and I imagine she is aptly named. *wink*
Overall, I enjoyed this story a lot. After blazing through the first two very emotional stories, however, I was left wanting just a little with Being Emerald. In comparison to other books and series in this genre, it still stands out as a "must read", but lined up next to Ms. Ryan's stellar work on its predecessors, I felt there were fragments missing—little details which could have better tied up plot lines and filled in story pieces. General Morgan—for all his bluster and evil—still really hasn't lived up to the monster he's been built up as, not in his personal scenes anyway. There were story segments where I didn't have any sense of how fast time was progressing, and the characters would do or say something that made me have to stop and think "wait, when did they do that?" I'm also not sure I believe Rock would have truly made the decision he ultimately did in order to keep Laila "safe". It felt like a plot device for the author to maneuver Laila into a position that would allow the delivery of a key piece of intel for the continuation of the overall series' story arc. All that said, the book still packs emotional punch and is definitely worth the read for fans of the series.
So far in the New Atlanta series, the end of each story has brought about a wholly different emotion in me. Amber was cultural shock and a warm feeling of unity, Sapphire was respect and a sense of sisterly pride, but at the end Emerald, I realized something that really wasn't a surprise but made me profoundly sad anyway. I won't talk about that here, to keep from giving inadvertent spoilers, but I will say that those of you who wondered about the differences in the epilogues for Amber and Sapphire will gain a little insight at the close of Emerald. As of this posting, Ms. Ryan hasn't yet made the epilogue to Being Emerald available on her website, but I'm looking forward to reading it! My overall score for this is 8.5/10, which translates to just above a 4/5 on GoodReads. ...more
This book definitely took some time to get into; I was sorely tempted to put it down in the first two chapters, and then decreasingly periodically after that. By the time I got to 40% though, I didn't want to put it down!
The characters are difficult to connect with at first. The author's style of narration is satiric, almost flat. Once I had a better understanding of who June Coffin was and what elements of her personality were most borrowed for the tone of the narrative, I had an "ah hah!" moment. The mood of the story is heavily colored by June's prickly persona, so as you get to know June better, you inherently start to understand more nuances of the storytelling, with its underlying humor and sarcasm. That knowledge was hard won though, and since there were several plot pieces that seemed inconsistent, a less tolerant reader may be tempted to just stop reading (I certainly was!). The story just feels like something is off, like a sweater that doesn't quite fit and but you can't really put your finger on exactly why. In the prologue of the book, Ms. Morgan talks about how The Wicked City evolved and how June's character was layered together, one aspect at a time. I highly recommend you start there, as that foreword actually gives a lot of good insight into June and the story's pacing, or you may never make it to...
The little details scattered throughout the early story that seemed indulgent and inconsequential? Totally come together in the last 20% of the story. I practically flew through those last chapters and didn't want it to end. I actually came to really like June and her caustic personality; under all that gruff is a gal I bet a lot of us identify with on some level...
I also had trouble identifying the romantic interest... and you know what? I actually like that. I came into this story expecting paranormal romance and got a nice big serving of urban fantasy, and I'm proud to say that I - ultimately - thoroughly enjoyed it. This is not a story meant to be told in one book. I can't wait to see what happens with June, Sam, Jason, Micha, and Muse....more
This story has a lot of potential. It's original and creative and features characters you want to get to know better. Unfortunately, it's simply far too short. The romance moves so quickly at first that it feels forced, or like maybe the reader isn't getting the whole picture. Likewise, the characters (initially) aren't very well developed - not enough to carry the depth of emotion the story wants to portray, anyway. The time-traveling premise, while intriguing, really needs to be better explained and more organically demonstrated.
There are moments of real, strong emotional connections and then, shortly after, the pace skips too far ahead. After Thane and Celine's night together, I remember thinking "this feels really fast", then looking down to see that half the book had already passed. The second half flowed much better, but when the story ended, I was left with more questions... Is this part of a series (it is, I now know)? What about Reid? What's the real deal with Dalir? Did Thane have any trouble getting to the right future timeline? How the can they only jump forward in time yet still go "back" to their "current" timeline?
I would really like to see this story expanded from its current 25k word count into a full-length novel, fleshed out into the epic, emotional journey it so clearly aspires to be; this could easily move my "meh" rating up to a "wowzers"! Thane's Redemption feels like a story that is close to the author's heart but has been cut and spliced to force it into a publisher's requirement for a shorter word count... which is (if true) is a real shame and is purely speculation on my part. As it is today, Thane's Redemption - if priced appropriately - is quick enough to be worth the read but may leave you with more questions than it answers. Hopefully we'll see more from this crew - and promising new author - in the future... pun totally not intended but I'll take it, hah!...more
Content warning: This book contains serious emotional themes (suicide, forced sterilization, and sexual assault) which may be disturbing to some readers.
I cannot say enough good things about this heartfelt, incredibly moving book! Post-apocalyptic dystopian romances are hard to nail down. Usually they fall hard to one side: either heavily erotic or overwhelmingly story based (read: lacking in emotional depth). Being Amber strikes the perfect balance, delivering a heart-wrenching, pulse-tripping experience full of ups and downs, with believable events and characters.
The premise for this society is unique and crafted so realistically that I can imagine it actually working exactly as described. The necessity for the segregation and Repopulation Laws, the long-term element of power that grew out of the extreme survival methods, and the breakdown of society's acceptance of that outdated rule... all of this lays the groundwork for a love-of-a-lifetime romance that has everything working against it and manages to prevail anyway, while setting the scene for a very necessary revolution against the oppressive Gov.
The characters are relatable and their way of life is both intriguing and a little shocking, but makes total sense. Jaci doesn't make stupid decisions or rush into danger expecting someone to save her. She's smart, but while she's also hesitant and unsure, she has a core of steel. She endures several terrible personal attacks, both physically and emotionally, and her reaction to each of them is spot on. I liked Jaci from the start and respected the hell out of her by the end. Xander may come off as edgy and intense but he's smoothly layered with a gentle and protective nature and some serious skills as a Dominant. I liked that Ms. Ryan wasn't afraid to incorporate BDSM into the story universe - the lifestyle lived by the Ambers completely supports it - but didn't make a big deal out of it or try to turn it into some big production. Being in charge and liking rough sex are just part of who Xander is and that is damn appealing on his character.
Being Amber made me smile and swoon. It made my heart beat faster in sympathy and in expectation. It even made me cry. It's been a long time since I enjoyed such a well-crafted post-apocalyptic dystopian romantic series and I am already looking forward to starting the next book (Being Sapphire)....more
As I finished the epilogue for Being Sapphire (available on Sylvia Ryan's website) - tears literally streaming down my face - all I could think was "Wow. Just, wow." What a great story, in what is shaping up to be a truly epic series. Considering this is only book #2 of what is likely to be a trilogy - and being such a big fan of scifi and fantasy, where a story arcing over a mere three books long is barely considered a series - I don't use the word "epic" lightly. If you haven't read Being Amber, the first book in this series, you must start there. Skipping that story will rob you of the relevant and absolutely necessary experience of life in New Atlanta so you can fully immerse yourself in the gravity of the situation these people lived through.
Where Being Amber chronicles the conception and infancy of the Amber resistance against the oppressive dictatorship parading as "the Gov", Being Sapphire follows the first steps to freedom, the start of a new way of life, and the growth of the unique three-way relationship between Jordan Ford and twin brothers Patrick and Shane O'Connor. For those of you either looking for a true menage story or worried about twincest, let me just say upfront that this story respects the bond of the brothers - meaning they do not have a romantic or sexual relationship with one another - and showcases the heart's ability to love in different, varied (sometimes shocking) ways. Most of the bedroom action in this book is m/f, as Jordan splits time between them through her organization of the Resistance in the Sapphire and Amber zones.
One of the things I love most about the New Atlanta series is how Ms. Ryan spins such a believable, realistic tale. The balance between the romantic relationships, the delicate vulnerabilities of the human psyche, and the lasting impact that seemingly small decisions have on the political climate of the story universe is perfect. I'm a fairly harsh critic of romantic stories and I cannot imagine a more ideal and relatable way to tell this incredible tale. It is an inspiring journey through the heart of a very necessary revolution and the inevitable personal sacrifices the characters must make. Ms. Ryan doesn't handle her story with kid gloves, nor does she subject her people to unnecessary suffering for the sake of manufactured drama (seriously, major kudos for that). This is an author who takes care in establishing a solid trust with her readers very early in the story and never takes advantage of that fragile bond.
Being Sapphire had me gasping in shock at some of the events, squirming along with the heroine in her "punishments", and wanting to high-five Jordan in her triumphs. She is perfectly complimented by twin brothers Shane and Patrick O'Connor, who - while sharing a deep twin bond and having grown up together - are as different as night and day when it comes to their interactions with her and how they support her seemingly conflicting personal needs. I won't divulge Jordan's history here, but she needs the security and structure she finds under Shane's hands as her dominant as equally as she craves the lighthearted love and total acceptance she gets from Patrick. As a woman, she is strong and independent - the kind of character who is easy to identify with, that you cheer for over the entire book. Don't forget to read the epilogue to the story on Ms. Ryan's website!
This second book in Sylvia Ryan's post-apocalyptic dystopian romantic New Atlanta series is a beacon of love and acceptance, hardship and personal sacrifices, and embracing the courage that lives deep inside yourself. There are no zombies or mutants here, just victimized people whose ancestors survived a harrowing holocaust and now live under the repressive rule which was originally necessary to save the human race from extinction. Being Sapphire makes me feel 10 feet tall as if I'm right there with Jordan in her triumphs, and heartbroken as she struggles to accept the reality of her situation. It has been a long time since a book or series left me - simultaneously - in tears and glowing with pride. Even if you think dystopian is not your thing, you absolutely must read this book (and this series) by Sylvia Ryan. It will lift your spirits and inspire you to become a better you, someone who truly makes a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
You may also like the Beyond series by Kit Rocha and the Metamorphosis series by Lauren Dane....more
Burn For Me is all that and a bag of potato chips. It is a perfect storm of action, wonder, intrigue, and a hint of romance to bait the hook. Seriously, just thinking about this book that I read two months ago (there's a lot of books between now and then, ladies!) is filling up my brain with all sorts of silly, nonsensical comparisons and fangirl talk. And I don't usually even like urban fantasy. As in, don't even want to try it, my track record with UF is so bad.
What makes Burn For Me so very special? Relate-ability, striking characters, innovative lore, and a slow burn chemistry paced just right. That's what!
Nevada Baylor - first of all, you must admit that is an excellent name - is a heroine you can respect and relate to while still being little in awe of her loyal drive and foolhardy bravery. She's sassy without being annoying, sensible without handicapping herself, stubborn but not to the point of self-sabotage, and skilled without being a completely unbelievable badass. Basically, she's the gal you want to hang out with on wine night and the one you want at your side when you run into trouble.
Connor "Mad" Rogan, on the other hand, is a wild card right from the start. He's obviously the male romantic interest, so you know he can't be truly corrupted and 'bad', yet he's written so succinctly - and with such gravitas - it's easy to imagine him doing some fairly unexpected things. Mad Rogan is initially presented as an extremely powerful mage who bows to no one and feels zero remorse for the countless lives he has taken... enjoys it, even. This is a risky choice for a hero's profile. The authors have to strike that perfect balance so that he radiates presence, authority, and danger without leaving him psychotic and emotionless. Ilona Andrews has created a beast of a leading man in Mad Rogan, and I want more of him!
Regardless of Mad's scary dragon moments, my gut tells me there's a yummy, sweet, gooey center to the Rogan-pop, and we'll see more of it organically as the series progresses.
Burn For Me feels a little like the Shadow Fever story arc, with two powerful men simultaneously trying to use and flirt with - one outright and the other much more roundabout - the heroine and you know at least one of them is for sure a bad guy, where the other one is the sexy hero you root for.
The first chapter in Ilona Andrews' new Hidden Legacy series, Burn For Me is a masterpiece. Now, earlier, I implied that I practically want to marry this book but I don't like urban fantasy. If you read my reviews much, this is no surprise. Annoying first person perspective heroines, not enough smut, and zero perspective into the hero's head tend to send me looking for the exit fast. So for me to say "hey, this urban fantasy book is one of the best books of the year" - and that is exactly what I'm saying - is a very big deal. Well, to me. Guess you'll have to read it for yourself to see if you agree! =)...more
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Jan DeLima's Summer Moon, follow-up to her compelling debut Celtic Moon, steps right into the story, mere days after the climactic events of Celtic Moon. New readers will definitely want to start there to learn the rules of the story world and all the backstory, meet the characters. Where Celtic Moon was a slow discovery of mythical creatures and forgotten gods, Summer Moon is a deeper look into the corruption in that society of ancient beings, and the power of love across time and races.
In some ways, Summer Moon is a coming of age story. While both Luc and Rosa are obviously experienced adults who have lived a very long time and are both powerful in their own rights, neither of them has experienced the kind of love with anyone else that they have with each other, and both face unique challenges in overcoming the ghosts of their pasts.
Insultingly referred to by many of his kind as The Beast of Merin, Luc Black is both a strong alpha and a powerful wolf shifter. Where many of his kind have lost the ability to shift forms over the generations, Luc's family lines are potent and his deep-rooted loyalty is as much a part of him as his love for a woman who passed away many years ago. He is tactical and decisive, with a strong hand when needed and a gentle heart to lead from. A rare female shifter desired by many and used as a pawn in power games and politics, Rosa has been a prisoner in her own home and her compassion and care for others manipulated to control her. Her union with Luc takes Rosa through a slow discovery of what it is to truly live life, helping her heal from a lifetime of abuse. The physical connection between Luc and Rosa is deep and solid, and their scenes together are true to both their characters: honest and straightforward, woven with threads of intensity and dominance from both sides.
Delving deeper into Taliesin's motivations and history was one of my favorite things about Summer Moon. This lonely demi-god has more secrets yet to be revealed and I can't wait to see how all unfolds. Most of the characters in this series have had a tough life in one way or another, but Sin's is particularly heartbreaking and his role in this story is powerfully moving.
As with Celtic Moon, Summer Moon's path through the storyline is sedate with an irresistible lure to keep reading, find out how it all unravels - right up until the final scenes, where the plot culminates beautifully, laden with emotional depth and pivotal character choices. Each book in this series spins out more threads of possibility, building future timelines for potential events and pairings. Rich in mythology and imagination, Celtic Wolves is a series to watch! Beautifully and obviously lovingly crafted, Ms. DeLima's wolves will be a joy to follow as each new book weaves a compellingly beautiful tapestry of otherworldly lore, creative new fiction, and stories with heart....more
The premise for Truth About Riley intrigued me so much that I bought it on just the word of a fellow blogger and the knowledge that it's about two men who fall in love after a phone number misdial. "Slow and steady wins the race" meets "internalizing Beauty and the Beast" it's the gist of this one, and it is sweet and romantic.
Without spoiling how the plot ultimately plays out, I wanted to mention that while I found the story to be enjoyable overall, there were things about it that bothered me. First, the guys are both “born and bred New Yorkers” but many of their speech cadences and word choices sounded suspiciously British. The dialogue also felt a little stiff and forced in places, as if the author had trouble really bringing Riley to life. Cam, on the other hand, was much more relatable and his personality felt more balanced and better communicated.
The story is quite unique and I really loved how Ms. Clarke stretched out the plot and developed everything in its own time without rushing. That same thing was also one of my least favorite things about it. I wanted more face time with them together and less phone convos. Everything really started to come alive in the second half of the book, especially the emotional arc. Some parts were heart-breakingly tender and vulnerable, leaving me literally rubbing the area above my own heart to soothe the ache. The ending was beautiful and well done, if a little abrupt.
Overall a sweet, solid m/m romance read with a little heat to spice it up, The Truth About Riley is a recommended read for fans of contemporary gay romance. And hopefully, the follow up book will be out sometime this year as expected; these characters are just getting started!
If you enjoy this sort of gay romance – stories focusing on how the relationship between the characters develops rather than some epic struggle against external challenges – you may also enjoy Making It Personal by K.C. Wells and He Completes Me by Cardeno C. Happy reading!...more
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Archangel’s Shadows is set as a filler story on the overarching archangel political plotline of the series but easily stands out as a must-read story in its own right. Fans of the Guild Hunter series will absolutely want to snatch this one up on release day, worthy of putting aside anything else you have in your TBR pile. Readers new to the series looking for a place to start should pick up Angel’s Blood to experience the whole exceptional saga from the very start. One of the most immersive and consistently creative works in urban fantasy, the Guild Hunter series is simply above and beyond anything else in its genre.
The events in this story take place during the period of time just after the battle for New York in Archangel's Legion, and focus on Ash and Janvier's hunt for a supernatural killer. Archangel's Shadows has the feel of the first Guild Hunter book (Angel's Blood), where Elena was the Hunter and her typical prey was of the vamp variety rather than the super-powered archangelic conflicts that have dominated the series since she became an angel. This hunt gives us insight into the previously opaque character of the vampire Naasir and brings out the softer - and more lethal - side of "the Cajun" vampire Janvier. Little moments, deepening relationships between the characters - particularly those who haven't gotten as much page time - are some of the small details that make this series special.
Mmmm, I just ADORE Janvier's voice and the cadence of his speech. I can practically hear True Blood's Bill in my head with each line I read, that slow southern drawl infused with Cajun flair. It's not easy for an author to write such a pronounced accent so well without it coming off as fake or overwhelming, but Ms. Singh delivers with panache. Janvier's dedication to Ash is remarkable and helps him stand out as one of the most endearing men in the series. Layers of easy charm and gracious wit barely contain a core of unwavering focus and a will of steel. The connection he shares with Ash feels so true and organic that I actually miss being their heads now that the book over. I didn't even feel this close to the Archangel's Blade characters during Dmitri and Honor's story, which was one of star-crossed lovers spanning a thousand years. Ash and Janvier are a special couple and her history and character in particular are so much deeper than we have read in other chapters of the Guild Hunter saga.
I also loved getting to learn more about Naasir, the tiger-like vampire member of Raphael's Seven who is a fascinating blend of predatory grace, childlike curiosity, and feral obsession. Of all the characters in the series, particularly the members of the Seven who are still unpaired, it is Naasir whom I see as the least human and most difficult to write a romance for and I cannot wait to read his story!
Archangel's Shadows gives glimpses into the lives of other notable characters in the series, as well as subtle reminders of a few you may have forgotten about - whom I believe still have their own stories yet coming - and leaves readers satisfied yet still wanting more. When it comes to any of author Nalini Singh's works, but particularly with the Guild Hunter series, that's pretty much a given these days....more
*** 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....more
*** 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....more
*** 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!...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 l*** 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......more
*** 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!...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 th*** 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....more
*** 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! ...more
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 lovedThe 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!...more
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 oNot 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....more
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 cuSet 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....more
*** 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
*** 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....more