OMG I am shattered! Absolutely shattered. There is no way I can write a review that does justice to what I just read. My best attempt will come later.OMG I am shattered! Absolutely shattered. There is no way I can write a review that does justice to what I just read. My best attempt will come later. I, just WOW!
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: 1 Oct How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.
Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus. Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.
Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view. As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.
Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds. This blurb came from the author’s website.
I have read a few things by Cullinan before and each time I tell myself I need to read more. So when I found out about Love Lessons, I decided this was my opportunity. Those of you who caught my tweets or saw my first attempt at writing a coherent thought, know that I absolutely loved this book, and yet I almost didn’t finish it. When I was first introduced to Walter, I couldn’t stand him. I thought he was a sad self-centered ass and I felt sorry for any of his “Talents.” Then I met Kelly and I really thought this could turn out to be the roommate match that you use to scare incoming freshmen that are forced to live on campus. I was also adrift when it came to their college life. I shared two common experiences – dorm living and dealing with food allergies in a non-supportive atmosphere. However, as I kept reading Walter and Kelly sucked me into their lives.
Kelly was a romantic. He grew up in a loving, supportive, and protective family seemingly too protective at times, but with good reason because Kelly suffered from severe food and environmental allergies. Usually, discovering a serious allergy occurs after a serious reaction. The process of determining the cause or causes can be long and, depending on how bad the reaction is, scary. Once you know what the trigger is, learning avoidance can be even worse. That is when you discover just how many things are hidden in food and how many people do not understand the consequences of contamination. Given that situational background, it was a lot easier to understand his air of innocence. He also grew up on a steady diet of Disney movies and other entertainment that all pointed towards romance. As a result, that is what he wanted and felt he deserved to the extent that he refused to participate in carefree intimacy. Part of what he expected to find in college was acceptance for his orientation, allergies, and a boyfriend. College life didn’t turn out the way he expected but he ended up with a great deal more than he hoped.
Walter on the other hand was a bitter cynical appearing man whose only interests were “Talents,” his best friend’s wedding, and the only professor he felt comfortable talking to. “Talent” was the term he used to describe young men who were out, attractive, and perfectly willing to indulge in a fun encounter or two. The fact that he was forced to live on campus, in a horrible dorm, with a roommate who would have been on the top of his list of “Talents” but instead was an idealized innocent who refused to play around didn’t make him happy. Yet, on the inside Walter proved to be a decent person who didn’t want to hurt Kelly. In fact, he went out of his way to almost protect that innocence. Watching the dichotomy of Walter’s reputation/outside behavior and what he really did when he was around Kelly caused me to decide Walter wasn’t one of those people I detest who only care for themselves.
As Walter and Kelly fell into a mostly comfortable lifestyle and became friends, I loved watching some of Walter’s confidence spread to Kelly and at the same time see Kelly bring joy and innocent pleasure back into Walter’s life. Their slow growing friendship that later developed into a relationship was a treat. Each had to separately come to the realization that the other meant much more than a roommate. Walter slowly seduced Kelly, but whenever Kelly made a move, he had been drinking, so Walker kept refusing to take what Kelly was offering. For all of his teasing ways, Walter remained protective and caring about Kelly, while denying that he looked at him as anything except a roommate.
Rose sipped at her tea, eyes twinkling. “You and Walter are such a couple, and it’s adorable. I know. You’re not dating. Except that you are. It’s almost like you skipped dating and went straight to married.”
“Walter doesn’t date.” Kelly had said this to her before, but it felt like a lifeline right now. Remember that, before you hurt yourself.
Rose had a wicked look about her. “Walter takes better care of you than anyone I’ve ever dated, slept with or simply called a friend.”
But it wasn’t all one-sided. Kelly gave Walter the feeling that he mattered as more than just a sexual partner.
I have picked out two moments that I thought provided great examples of their relationship. One was when Kelly called Walter to get a ride back to school after Thanksgiving and as reluctant as Walter was to let Kelly see the dysfunction that was his family; he agreed. Then promptly set off on a massive cleaning and sanitizing spree that even involved his mother in cooking/experimenting with recipes Kelly could eat. That was a perfect example of how much he cared for Kelly despite his refusal to admit it. The second one happened over Christmas vacation. Walter and Kelly agreed they would each spend half of the vacation with their respective families and for the second half, Walter would visit Kelly and his family. Having learned that Kelly’s mom was losing her job so the family was tightening their purse strings, Walter did a little Christmas shopping. When Kelly realized what Walter did, he warned his family but their honest reaction made me reach for more tissues.
All but Dick [Kelly’s father], who stood at the end of the table with a quiet, reverent look on his face.
Walter watched him, Kelly noticed, and as soon as he did he kept the pair of them in his sights, holding his breath.
Eventually Dick turned to Walter, as if he’d known he’d been watched all along.
Countenance soft but serious, Dick held out his hand to Walter, gave him a small jerk of a Minnesota nod and said, “Well done, son.”
He shook Walter’s hand when he put it there, then pulled him in close for a steady, man-pat hug. Walter stayed stiff for a second then when Dick let the embrace linger, giving Walter space, Walter let himself sag for a moment and closed his eyes in relief.
At that point Kelly had to look away, or he’d start crying.
“I think we fixed his Christmas,” Lisa [Kelly’s sister] whispered in his ear.
In Love Lessons, Cullinan reached inside and pulled out ALL the feelings: fear, guilt, sadness, anticipation, happiness, love, lust, bitterness, loneliness, togetherness, and coming of age (yes that is a feeling, probably combines all of the ones I mentioned previously). As I was sucked into Walter and Kelly’s journey I had to reach for tissues on a few different occasions when things were really touching me. Cullinan left me utterly shattered from the emotional roller coaster which ended on a great book high. I was so emotionally spent and touched that I had to start reading a completely different genre for fear of losing that book high or finding a comfort read suddenly lacking in comparison. Yes, this is a slow growing rather sweet romance but it packs an extreme punch. While sweet and less steamy than some of Cullinan’s other writing, the sexy-times are both touching and detailed....more
From the authors who brought you Wild & Steamy come three all-new tales of lovers who create their own heat, even when they’re surrounded by ice…
Speed Mating by Jessica Sims – Estrella may be going into heat, but she’s determined to remain in control. Just because she’s ovulating doesn’t mean she has to settle for just any man (or his beast). Her sexy alpha’s determined to find her a tiger to take care of her heat and father her child…but no one seems to look quite as good as the man in charge. Will giving in to her need for her alpha ruin her tenuous relationship with her clan or be a match made in heaven?
Conjuring Max by Carolyn Crane – The witches of the world ridiculed and rejected nerdy Veronica for trying to use newfangled computers to enhance old world spellcasting. Well, it’s 1984 now, and she’s perfected her spellcasting computer program. Hey, who needs friends when you can conjure virtually anything…or anybody? So when Veronica makes powerful new enemies, she conjures Max, a pitbull of a cop, to deal with the pesky hitmen who keep coming around. Maybe Veronica can finally get some peace and quiet so she can work on her computer. But tough-guy Max is in no mood to play lapdog to a gorgeous witch.
Wrecked by Meljean Brook – Elizabeth has spent the past five years running from her father; her father’s huntsman, Caius, has spent the past five years pursuing her. But when he finally catches up to her on an airship flying above Europe’s zombie-infested cities, Elizabeth discovers that Caius isn’t the only danger she has to fear—and now that he’s found her, Caius doesn’t intend to let her go…
*Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: I absolutely love and adore all things Jessica Sims/Jill Myles/Jessica Clare. I think I could read the phonebook, if she wrote it. Meljean Brook has created one of the most imaginative and incredible worlds that I’ve ever come across. Mix it in with her sexy writing and I can’t turn down anything of hers either. While I’ve only read a novella or two of Carolyn Crane, I’ve liked what I’ve read so far, and will definitely need to add her books to my ever-growing TBR stack.
Speed Mating was probably my favorite in this book. It was light hearted, sexy and an all around fun read. It was also the shortest, which made me just a teeny bit sad. I love that Sims has a way of finding ridiculous situations for her heroes and heroines, and then a humorous and sexy way of getting them out of it. Poor Estrella was looking for both a father for her child and a man who didn’t repulse her. More than anything she wanted her alpha, and I loved that she was so scared of ruining that relationship by approaching him about mating. I loved the way they finally got together, and how much they were secretly crushing on each other. I can’t say enough good things about Sims writing and just how much I love her stories.
I give Speed Mating an A
Conjuring Max was a really unique and different read. I loved the idea of using computers to enhance magic, and how Veronica was able to create a program to help her conjure up anything she wanted. It was a really cool and fun twist on magic that I haven’t seen before. For me though, there was something lacking in the romance between these two. I’m not sure what it was, but I just didn’t find that I was totally invested in the relationship between Max and Veronica. I wanted to be, but there was just a little spark missing, and it caused my interest to wane a little throughout the story.
I give Conjuring Max a B-
Wrecked was another fabulous novella to add to the Iron Seas series. As I said before, Brook has created probably the most imaginative world I’ve ever read, and I absolutely adore everything she writes within this world. I loved getting the chance to see some of the zombies up close and personal, and getting the chance to see first hand what their deal is all about. I loved the idea of having the cat and mouse game between Elizabeth and Caius be the foundation of their romance. I was rooting for them all the way and glad to see them finally find their way to one another. PS: Brook does an amazing job creating some really creepy villains as well!
I give Wrecked an A-
All in all this was another fabulous anthology from these three powerhouse authors. I love getting the chance to catch up with both the Midnight Liaisons and Iron Seas series, and I’m anxiously awaiting both of these authors to release their next books. I can only hope these three continue to write together and give us more in the future!
E: It was a great surprise to see a review request of Fire & Frost appear and since it contains two authors whose writing I absolutely adore I couldn’t wait to read it. I have found that Brook and Sims/Myles/Clare have a way of drawing me into their worlds. Crane is a new-to-me author who provided a very interesting addition to this anthology.
Speed Mating was a lot of fun to read. I found myself laughing often at the sheer incompatibility of prospects, Estrella’s combination of determination and shyness, and the uber patience of her alpha. I adored how Sims included some of the things that are used in society today to meet potential dates and played on how challenging it can be to meet someone who is interested in more than just a quick hook-up. One of the other things I enjoy about Sims’ writing is that she is always includes at least one key friendship so we get to see additional facets of her main characters. I really can’t wait to see what Sims provides for the next installment in this particular world.
I give Speed Mating an A
Conjuring Max was a very interesting take on computers, math, and magic. It brought me back to the days when I first started studying computer science and I tried to explain email and the internet to my family. Eventually I gave up and said it was magic. They were quite willing to accept that explanation so I had an immediate connection to the magic aspect that Crane used. Even with my fascination I found this novella missing a few things. I did not understand why the Council and hired assassins were trying to kill Veronica so I spend most of my time reading trying to understand that aspect. The other thing I found missing was, like MinnChica, the connection between Max and Veronica. I think I never quite grasped the romance because this was a snapshot after all of their internal conflict had been resolved so I really didn’t see the emotional attachment.
I give Conjuring Max a B-
Wrecked is another great installment in Brook’s Iron Seas world. Each story adds more to the world building and explores new aspects while retaining the familiarity of the original set-up. She explores some very fascinating issues here that aren’t completely revealed until the latter parts of the story which I thought was great. This ended up being a great game of chase with each side having information that could drastically sway the actions of the other side. I loved how both Elizabeth and Caius went to extremes to right what they saw as a serious wrong. Without giving away too much, I hope, I absolutely loved the themes of individuality and redemption that Brook wove throughout the story.
I give Wrecked an A.
Overall this was a really fun anthology to read. I hope the three ladies continue to join together for these collections. They are all skilled in creating fascinating worlds and unusual characters who inhabit them. Fire & Frost contains something for everyone from shapeshifters, to computers augmenting magic, to steampunk the variety was refreshing! I can’t wait to see what they come up with next....more
**spoiler alert** Much more to my liking than the first book. Agree with some of the concerns from my discussion on twitter. Full review to come next**spoiler alert** Much more to my liking than the first book. Agree with some of the concerns from my discussion on twitter. Full review to come next week.
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Jace, Ash, and Gabe: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Jace, it’s a woman whose allure takes him completely by surprise…
Jace Crestwell, Ash McIntyre, and Gabe Hamilton have been best friends and successful business partners for years. They’re powerful, they’re imposing, they’re irresistibly sexy, and Jace and Ash share everything—including their women.
When they meet Bethany, Jace begins to feel things he’s never experienced before: jealousy, and a powerful obsession that threatens him, overwhelms him—and excites him beyond control.
Jace isn’t sharing Bethany—with anyone. He’s determined to be the only man in her life, and it’s jeopardizing a lifelong friendship with Ash. Bethany will be his and his alone. Even if it means turning his back on his best friend.
This blurb came from Goodreads.
E: After reading Rush the first installment of Banks’ Breathless trilogy I decided I was more interested in Jace and Ash than I was in Gabe. I heard from other people that the characters and dynamic were very different in this second installment so I decided to give it a try. While I did enjoy Fever much more than I enjoyed Rush I have come to the conclusion that Banks’ contemporary writing voice is not working for me.
Has: I also felt the same way about Rush because I really disliked Gabe’s character but I agree that the characters of Jace and Ash held more interest for me and I was looking forward to see how Fever panned out for me. I also agree that I did enjoy Fever more but it also had some issues, which was primarily about the heroine, who I found to be one dimensional, and it affected the development of the romance for me. But I did like Jace’s character, and the fact he really fell head over heels for Bethany which is something that makes me melt when I am reading a romance. But I am leaning towards feeling the same way for this series, because while this is a crackilicious trope, the development of some characters and plot points isn’t ticking my boxes.
E: I actually didn’t have too many issues with either Jace or Bethany separately but I did have concerns with their relationship dynamic. No I am not talking about the D/S aspect and the extent to which it stretched throughout their relationship but more in terms of the fallback positions each took during times of high stress. Bethany’s abusive background built in a lifetime response to escape either through drugs or by physically leaving while Jace defaulted to verbally attacking and accusing Bethany of doing the worst possible action without determining the situation. Bethany’s only alternative to Jace once she entered the relationship was to go back to the streets and shelters from a taste of privilege. Jace still had his place, family and money. Bethany did start to leave after each of Jace’s explosions but he continually expressed remorse and then did it again. To me when someone has started trusting and believing again to have their past or other nonexistant actions thrown in their face by the very person who built that trust is not the sign of a healthy relationship.
Has: This was the main issue I had with the book and the romance itself. The power dynamics between Bethany and Jace was very unequal, and while I liked the heads-over-heels element and the fairy-tale aspect which really fits the tone of the story. There was no real expansion on how Jace fell in love so deeply with Bethany, and I wanted more of an emotional development on that rather than the sex and the D/S factor of their relationship.
I also totally agree with you about the pushing and fro-ing with the trust issue, and it added to the unequal dynamics in their relationship, especially since Bethany was homeless and had no power. Even though I think Maya Banks did try to state the message that Bethany did have the upper hand of their relationship because Jace was vulnerable and open to her. I didn’t really believe that because for me he held the upper hand in all aspects of her life and I wasn’t keen on the fact he wanted to dominate her outside the bedroom even though she was willing and they did consent with each other with each decision.
E: Like you Has, I had a hard time believing that Bethany had the upper hand even though she was willingly to go back to streets instead of lose the grounds she had made personally it seemed all to easy for Jace to get mad and break Bethany down.
Spoiler The only person Bethany could depend on during her life was Jack, someone she viewed as a brother, who had earned her loyalty and trust through their shared experiences in foster care and on the street. As a result while she knew Jack had his own issues she always gave him the benefit of the doubt and believed that Jack would never do anything to put her in danger. From the onset of this book Jace and Jack were polar opposites pulling Bethany in different directions. This was a major source of conflict and contention between Jace and Bethany which resulted in some ugly situations. End Spoiler
Jace was used to getting what he wanted, when he wanted it. Yes, he did have to take care of his younger sister unexpectedly but he had all of the advantages of privilege. This was evident each time he introduced Bethany to a new situation and expected her to just fit in. He did not pay any consideration to how foreign each was or that he was subtly undermining her confidence in her ability to fit in through his words and actions. He went from insta-lust to what he called love threaded through with jealousy and possession. I never had the feeling that he learned any lessons about respecting and caring for every aspect of Bethany, especially given their D/S relationship outside of their sexual acts.
Has: I definitely agree, but I also felt Bethany a wallpaper protagonist for me, she reflected and acted on the desires of the men in her life and I didn’t get a sense of her character. I also wished that she would develop her own sense of being and self, and we didn’t get to see that although there was a hint in the end when she wanted to go to college and do something. But that was too little, too late from because there was no real transition from the beginning of the book to the end to show that.
I liked the fairytale overtones of the story, which basically is totally perfect for this trope of the rich hero and poor heroine type romance. But I didn’t think the BDSM and D/S themes fits well with this story. Although I really found this series was refreshing that the kink was not due to any tortured pasts or abuse which is a huge trope for similar books. But I did find it a niggle, on the reasons why Jace and Ash’s predilections to sharing a woman was dismissed by Jace so quickly even though it was a huge part of their sex lives. And I was quite surprised by this because it just felt that this was an added kink to spice up the series. This is a reason why I am not that keen on menage romances these days because its more about the sex than the emotions. And for a good erotic romance to work for me – it must be just as strong with the emotional tone as well as the sexual elements.
E: That is a very good point. The fact that Jace didn’t want to share Bethany from the very beginning was supposed to indicate that she was his one and only instead of just part of the line. While I appreciate the attempt at distinguishing Bethany, since sharing women was such an integral part of the friendship between Jace and Ash it seemed to me that sharing was maybe something that Jace did for Ash instead of it being an equal enjoyment.
I did prefer Fever over Rush but like I said in the beginning I think Banks’ contemporary voice at least in this trope is not working for me. I was not able to fully enter the reading experience or to believe in the relationship and its HEA. I thought that the heroine’s past and her drive to overcome it was a nice change from the typical heroine in this particular trope. Banks did address some of the issues involved in drug abuse, the ugly side of foster care, and life on the streets/shelters which again is usually avoided or glossed over in contemporary romances unless h/h is part of the system. While I found those refreshing the overall story really didn’t work for me and as a result I do not anticipate finishing this trilogy.
I give Fever a C-
Has: I also felt that Fever was much stronger than Rush, but I am with you about the tropes not working for me in this case. The power dynamics especially for a D/S themed book failed which affected the overall romance especially with the characterisation. And while I did enjoy some elements of the story, it didn’t win me over fully.
Alexa Parrino escaped a life of servitude and survived danger on the streets to become one of the most trusted, influential people in Sector Four, where the O’Kanes rule with a hedonistic but iron fist. Lex has been at the top for years, and there’s almost nothing she wouldn’t do for the gang…and for its leader. Lie, steal, kill—but she bows to no one, not even Dallas O’Kane.
He’ll settle for nothing less.
Dallas fought long and hard to carve a slice of order out of the chaos of the sectors. Dangers both large and small threaten his people, but it’s nothing he can’t handle. His liquor business is flourishing, and new opportunities fuel his ambition. Lex could help him expand his empire, something he wants almost as much as he wants her. And no one says no to the king of Sector Four.
Falling into bed is easy, but their sexual games are anything but casual. Attraction quickly turns to obsession, and their careful dance of heady dominance and sweet submission uncovers a need so deep, so strong, it could crush them both.
*Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: I’m always on the lookout for post-apocalyptic romance. When one of my favorite genres meets my favorite writing duo and they add in some super smokin’ smutty themes, it’s a match made in heaven! The second book in the Beyond series is just as hot as the first, and just as sweet. How Rocha is able to combine the right amount of smut with romance to create such amazing stories is beyond me! I was so excited to see the big bad Dallas brought to his knees by Lex, and it was EPIC.
E: Rocha hit all of my right buttons with Beyond Shame, the first book in the Beyond series so I have been looking forward to the sequel. As Rocha provided snippets and mini-excerpts along the way my excitement continued to grow. I am pleased to say that the wait was certainly worth it. Watching the actual dynamics between Lex and Dallas not to mention their continual sexual and emotional tension *fans self* was absolutely amazing. Yet it remained sweet, smutty, and set in a fascinating violent post-apocalyptic world.
Has: I so totally agree! I was looking forward to Beyond Control ever since I read the first book, because I was intrigued on how Lex and Dallas would finally get together despite their tensions over their issues. And I was so pleased this lived up to the promise because this was an intense, angsty and very sexually charged romance which I inhaled in one gulp. While Beyond Shame was like a tasty entree this was like a delicious main dish which delved into the world-building and characterization and with real depth and development to the on-going plot threads.
Thoughts on the Hero
Has: Oh Dallas, is a character who I love to wack something crack hard over his head. But at the same time, he’s such a well fleshed out and multi-layered hero with flaws that he has become one of my all time favourites which Kit Rocha/Moira Rogers has ever written. I loved we got to see his more vulnerable side of him in this book, especially when it involved Lex and how she draws that aspect out of him. It was beyond sweet, beyond passionate and definitely beyond sensual with their scenes together.
I also loved the elements of the political wrangling and posturing Dallas had to be a part of in protecting his people as well as his ambitions which added a lot of nuance and realism to his character.
Lou: I was so intrigued by Dallas in the first book. I wasn’t a huge fan of Noelle and Jasper in their book, but Beyond Control was so damn good. Dallas has an intensity to him that made the book so fraught with tension. He’s wanted Lex for so long but she’s pushed him away. I thought their romance was very romantic and their connection incredible. He had to straddle being the leader of the Kanes whilst treating Lex as an equal.
E: Dallas oh man! Talk about hard, intense, dedicated, controlled and yet lonely and driven. By the time I finished Beyond Shame I really wanted to know what made him tick and why Lex had so much influence on him. Seeing the other aspects of his character both within his relationship with Lex, the political posturing with the other Sector leaders, and how he interacted with members of the O’Kanes was brought into sharp relief. He showed so much about where he got his stability but also how Lex was his major vulnerability.
I really liked how he fought against his instincts to protect Lex through controlling her movements and caging her in because he knew that would only destroy her and any chance they ever had. Even with his insights he was still clueless at times about Lex and how her mind worked. It was good to see that he wasn’t omnipotent and had to learn how to apologize and do some groveling.
MinnChica: Ahhh Dallas…. What to say about the man who has it all, and whatever he wants, is laid at his feet. I love that he is a total hardass, and yet has a sweet side as well. I enjoyed the fact that he had such a depth to him that I never imagined. For all his kinky ways in both the first book and this one, he also had a strict code that he lived by for his partners. I thought it was kinda endearing to him. Plus, given his total badass nature, his willingness to do anything and everything for Lex was so awesome to read.
Thoughts on the Heroine
Has: I loved Lex in Beyond Shame, I love her upfrontness, courage and she did not take any shit from anyone even with Dallas who is her weak-point. She was the perfect foil and partner for him and that she was person who helped to cement the O’Kanes and in a lot of ways, she is their heart. This was such an emotionally intense book and I was exhausted but in a good way reading on how they got together because they played high stakes in a harsh world. And even though it was such a dangerous and stark world they are living in, the romance between Dallas and Lex was truly sweet and vulnerable and I loved how they drew aspects of that and made it a strength because it helped to ground them which is something they both realised in the book.
Lou: Lex is an incredible character. Her confidence about her sexuality was so empowering, and I loved that she didn’t roll over for Dallas. Yet Lex and Dallas were romantics at heart. I’m not a huge fan of menages and orgies, but Kit Rocha has created a world where everything feels natural. Lex has a strong relationship with Noelle from the first book, including a sexual one, but in Beyond Control we see just how much Lex and Dallas care about each other, and how their love is very personal and private. That’s what was missing for me in the first book. I didn’t get any connection from Noelle and Jasper.
E: Lex was so complicated. I really liked how she broke away from her past and made herself into a completely different openly powerful woman. Yet she was also determined to ensure she didn’t leave any reason for Dallas to hold her past over her head. Seeing her go back and confront some key people from that past was also very insightful. I loved how she made the first move and practically dared Dallas to say or do something about it. Of course I don’t think she was quite ready for what he did. Her vulnerability to Dallas and how she gave him as many chances as she could without losing herself was amazing to watch. And then to see everyone bond to her and basically ensure Dallas knew he screwed up showed just how much people appreciated everything she had done for them.
Lex showed in so many ways that she knew what Dallas had to do for the O’Kanes and what she was willing to do to help others. But she also needed Dallas to continue to treasure her as a partner after they became lovers in truth not just as his lover. Watching her start to trust Dallas not just more than any other man but with herself was amazing because so much was at risk. If I didn’t already really like her as a character I would have fallen completely for her in Beyond Control.
MinnChica: I fell for Lex the moment she stepped onto the page in the first book. She was a free spirit, she loved life and there were so many different aspects to her facade that I couldn’t wait to delve in and find out more. As her backstory unraveled, I loved her even more. She was strong and given the way she was raised, she didn’t let life beat her down either. She fought for what she wanted to fight for, and also took every opportunity to help out any other woman in need. She has a soft spot a mile wide, and for that alone I adored her to pieces!
Has: I can’t spoil this scene because it was part of the ending and climax – but like Lou says it was linked with when they made love. But I think this scene really showed, Lex was not afraid to go into the heart of danger and to save people who she promised to protect. It also made Dallas realise how much she was important to him even above the O’Kanes and I think that was a turning point on their relationship.
Lou: My favourite scene has to be at the end where Lex and Dallas make love. There was so much intensity and love between them, and it came across as very romantic. We see Dallas’ vulnerability with his relationship with Lex where he wants her for himself and admits his jealousy.
E: Hmm so many scenes I liked. The love scene that both Has and Lou mention was a wonderful scene. I think the one I will pick for this is when they are having a discussion and Dallas asks if Lex trusts him. She responds that she trusts him more than any other man and Dallas said that he would work with that but he wasn’t stopping with that. To me that cemented exactly how much he wanted Lex not just for smexytimes but as a whole even if he didn’t know what that whole consisted of.
Of course I also loved when a certain individual received what he was due!
MinnChica: Oh man… trying to find just one scene that spoke to me above all the others…. I think I might have to go with the scene where Lex sees her sister again after all the years apart. It was such a sweet and heartbreaking moment. Lex gets the chance to see her family, and at the same time she also opens her eyes a little to just how different life is for everyone. Despite her hatred for the way she was raised, she also sees that the life she left behind wasn’t as awful as she thought. That her sister was happy and thriving. It might not have been until later that Lex really let it sink it, but that moment resonated with me.
Dislike about book
Has: I don’t have any real dislike about the book, because the pacing, side characterisations and the ongoing plot-lines were all solid and developed.
Lou: I suppose my only dislike of the book was involving the secondary characters, where I thought Ace and Rachel were starting to become close, when suddenly a new male character appears, which means triangle. I’m looking forward to their book but I’m unsure of how it’s going to play out.
E: I don’t really have any complaints. I just want more.
MinnChica: Ah man… is too much sex a complaint? No, than nothing here either!
Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
Has: I think Beyond Control really cements this series for me. I loved that the world-building which was explored much fully, which was my main gripe of the previous book. But in this book, you had political intrigue and wrangling, a heart-wrenching and tender romance which was filled with sexually charged love scenes (you will definitely need a fan when reading this book) and solid characterisation. I can’t wait for the next book, which will feature Six and Bren which promises to be just as good.
I give Beyond Control an A-
Lou: Beyond Control really delves deeper into the world building, and the romance for me had a deep emotional connection that I could believe in. My problem with the first book was that it was mostly sex without any depth going into the world building. Beyond Control is much different and goes into the details of the gangs and sectors, and we see the different sides to Dallas and Lex.
I give Beyond Control a B.
E: I thoroughly enjoyed Beyond Control. I was able to see into Dallas and Lex who already had a complicated relationship. I also got to visit the other O’Kanes and see how they were progressing as well as some hints for future books. I also liked the glimpse of the other Sector leaders and their personalities. Some clashes coming up I can imagine. Rocha did a wonderful job on this installment and it was well worth the wait. I am looking forward to the next one.
I give Beyond Control an A.
MinnChica: I really enjoyed the second installment of this series. I love the nitty and gritty world that Rocha created, and the chance to see even more if it in this book was perfect. I’m so anxious to see where we go from here, what happens with the new sector under Dallas’ control, and how some of the secondary characters will find their ever after. I love that all the characters stand out as ones I can’t wait to read next, and have fallen head over heels for this series.
Publisher: Brava Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
Shelly Laurenston, New York Times bestselling author and a star in the paranormal romance genre, comes the eighth book is the successful Pride series, that blends outrageous humor and sexy shapeshifters to create irresistible heroes that readers fall in love with.
Ricky Lee has no plans of getting serious about anyone, but he will protect Toni Jean-Louis Parker. Not just because he’s been hired to do so, but because it’s the right thing to do. And if that means traveling around the country with one complicated She-jackal, dealing with chocolate-eating wild dogs, instigating trouble between his brothers, and having the most amazing sex he’s ever had…well, who said his job didn’t have perks?
Toni doesn’t know how she keeps getting herself into these situations. But even she has to admit there’s something about Ricky Lee Reed that she finds kind of interesting…and downright sexy. Now they just have to survive long enough to figure out if what they have is worth fighting for… This blurb came from Goodreads.
I have been a huge Laurenston fan ever since I first discovered her. She is my go to author for anytime I need to laugh. It was great going back to the Pride world and seeing some familiar faces and how their essential personalities haven’t changed over the years. Laurenston created another great installment to the Pride series in Wolf with Benefits. Ricky Lee was a great counterpoint to the rest of the Smiths and even from his other Reed brothers (hope to see more of them). He was unashamedly interested in Toni for one thing only yet when it came down to doing his job and protecting her he stayed professional. Toni was such a martyr, at first I didn’t really like her character but when she was given the chance to grow into herself not the family organizer she quickly became one of the characters that I enjoyed reading. Even her agonizing about caring for herself vs caring for her self-centered family were amusing. Throw in the rest of the motley crew and I found myself laughing time and time again.
I have to admit that I taunted my family by reading them the first six pages as Ricky Lee had his first encounter with Toni and her siblings. They all agreed with me that it was a great start. I am happy to say that the personalities established in those six pages continued to hold true throughout the book. Those of you who have read “Miss Congeniality” from When He Was Bad will recognize Toni’s mother as Irene’s best friend and roommate. Unfortunately, while Jackie was able to manage Irene’s absent mindedness the combination of her own genius and that of most of her children she was unable to keep things together. As a result juggling everything all fell on Toni, the oldest child and the only one who was not a certified genius. Just as it seemed like she was going to spend her life catering to the selfish whims of her siblings she had the opportunity to do something for herself. Toni wasn’t able to seize that opportunity without some help and reassurance from a few individuals like Irene, Bo, and her father. The scenes with Bo and Toni’s family were hilarious.
Ricky Lee Reed was wasn’t a Smith boy. The Reeds were cousins of the Smiths so while they didn’t have the extreme level of aggressive alpha insanity they still had their share. Ricky wasn’t quite as insane as his younger brother Reece who excelled in provoking Bo nor was he quite as calm and responsible as his older brother Rory but he did take his job as an employee of Llewellyn Security seriously. So when he was asked to escort Toni on a negotiation trip for the Carnivores he took both her physical and mental health seriously which led to some creative stress relief techniques. Ricky’s relatively laid back personality was a great injection into Toni’s life because he was able to give her some peach. At the same time he would do whatever was necessary to protect family.
The subplot involving Toni’s sociopathic sister was a bit unusual for Laurenston’s Pride stories so far. Usually the bad guys are external to the families involved or are one species against another. In this case some bad things happened as a result of a member of the family. To me that allowed Toni to show that while she loved and cared for her family she also had limits and once they were crossed that was it. I am pretty satisfied with the resolution to that particular problem.
Once again Laurenston provided a very entertaining installment. I revisited old friends and got to see new aspects of some of the regulars. I also met some new characters that I enjoyed immensely. Speaking of which I loved Livy so much! I won’t say anything else about her except she is great and I hope she gets her own story…maybe with Vic **looks hopeful**. I enjoyed reading Wolf with Benefits and watching Ricky go from just wanting benefits to wanting everything. It was also a lot of fun seeing Toni start to focus on herself instead of her gifted but selfish family.