I, of course, have no idea what the powers that be had in mind when they titled this book Sex Machine. I also had no idea what to really expect, though I did have a preconceived idea or two running around in my head, especially after taking a gander at the cover. What got me over all of that and on to reading this book is the fact Marie Force wrote it. So if you’re leaning toward raunchiness or threesomes or whatever “sex machine” calls up for you, this is one of those cases where appearances can be deceiving or, more appropriately, don’t judge a book by its cover. Or title.
Though sex machine is 100% accurate when you hear about Blake Dempsey.
First, however, Honey Carmichael is finally going to find out what all the hullabaloo about sex is all about. So far, all she’s had has been disappointing. She has no belief in other women’s ringing endorsements about the act. But, with the help of her best friend, she’s about to have her first truly orgasmic experience in bed. At least according to said best friend, because she knows firsthand that Blake Dempsey is a sex machine with equipment size that is unrivaled. I guess size does matter!
Blake and Honey have been friends since they were kids, and he’s had a crush on her forever. That crush dimmed a bit when he met Jordan, his late fiance, in high school and who died years ago in a car accident in which Blake was driving. He’s never forgiven himself, so he doesn’t do relationships, keeping his hookups to one night only. You can imagine his surprise and dumbfoundedness (if that’s a word!) when Honey walks into his usual dive bar and announces she wants – well, I’m not going to tell you exactly, because this one of the best openings of a book I’ve read in a long time. Bottom line, they head to Blake’s when he realizes she’s pretty darned serious.
Knowing she won’t have more than one night with Blake – his reputation precedes him – Honey is curious and now that she’s made the first move and is in his bed, she’s hoping her friend hasn’t steered her wrong. Especially when she gets a good look at Blake in the buff. She thought it was all an exaggeration, but apparently not. The man is hung, and now she’s having doubts he’ll fit. But Blake isn’t about to let her out of his grasp now that he has Honey right where he’s always wanted her. After it’s all over with – after some scintillating sizzling – something amazing happens to Blake. He wants more – more than one night, more than just sex – with Honey. And she’s happy to give it to him, despite warnings she can’t get too caught up in him, because he can’t give her what she – or any woman – truly wants.
I really enjoyed Blake and Honey. They both have issues in their pasts – Honey was abandoned as a baby and raised by the women who took her in, whom she called Gran, but Gran is gone now, so Honey keeps her friends close – and while Honey is able to move forward, it’s Blake who really pulls the heartstrings in being unable to get past his survivor’s guilt, even after twelve years. For someone who doesn’t want a relationship, the way he treats Honey, coaxes her, loves her with soft words, soft hands, and a soft heart, he does all the right things when they’re together. Yes, he gets tripped up now and again, self-doubt and all that, but he’s also a smart man. He won’t find what he has with Honey ever again, and though it takes him a bit to totally realize that, he grabs at the last straw that’s dangled before him when opportunity gives him the chance. All that being said, be prepared to have your fan blowing right at you, a tall glass of whatever iced drink you prefer, and anything else you’ll need to keep the heat down when these two are hot and heavy in their lovin’. They steam, sizzle, and burn.
While I enjoy Marie Force’s many series and read nearly every book she releases, I do so love her standalones. One of her first books I read was Everyone Loves a Hero and absolutely loved it. So I didn’t hesitate when offered the opportunity to review this book, her first standalone in five years. I’m very happy she surprised the heck out of me, moving me along in a direction my preconceived idea didn’t go in. If you’ve not read any of her books and don’t want to start a series right at this time, read this book. You will love it too, I guarantee it. Then move along to Everyone Loves a Hero. By then you’ll be ready to pick up every book in her backlist.
Okay, I’ll be honest – the reason I read romance? The sexy heroes. Everything else is secondary. Except emotion. There are very few authors I’ve readOkay, I’ll be honest – the reason I read romance? The sexy heroes. Everything else is secondary. Except emotion. There are very few authors I’ve read who have made me cry, laugh, or react in some other way through the emotional intensity in their books. I have just added Genevieve Graham to that list. Tides of Honor is all about duty, honor, tragedy, triumph, and, of course, love. She had me turning pages as fast as I could to find out what was next for Danny and Audrey as we travel along with them through their entire romantic and emotional life with World War I as their backdrop.
Danny is a simple man from Nova Scotia, but he’s in France fighting in a war that takes from every nation involved. His battalion is tired and hungry, looking for shelter before the coming storm with none in sight. Then they come upon a young lady and her grandmother, their wagon needing work, and as he gazes at this beauty, his world shifts. It’s the same for Audrey, and she invites the men to their farm for a warm meal and place to bunk for the night. I love those first new and slightly awkward but full-of-emotion scenes between Danny and Audrey. You can feel the sweet love take hold, while neither of them truly realizes what it is right at that moment. But Danny does promise to return for Audrey as soon as humanly possible.
What neither of them can imagine is that Danny’s life is about to change even further. He and his best buddies from home are hit by enemy fire, his friends killed and Danny losing his leg. So he’s then shipped home, where everything is now so different from what he knew before, people staring and not knowing what to say to the newly injured hometown boy. It’s even awkward with his parents, especially his father, Danny feeling he’s let his dad down, he’s not the man he should be in his father’s eyes. The scenes where he returns his friends’ last possessions to their families are wonderfully done. Truly a bygone era when mothers and fathers are so very happy to see a son of their heart, even though their sons are gone and buried.
As Danny tries to find a new normal, he awaits Audrey’s arrival. She’s had a time of it herself – her grandmother passes away, leaving Audrey on her own, heading for London with the memories of her mother who also left home on her own to live as she wished before dying so young. But she’s free of her grandmother’s judgment and on her way to Danny, though it will take a while before she can begin her journey. In the meantime, she works in factories and befriends a few ladies who are fighting for women’s right to vote. I enjoyed this look into the women’s suffrage movement, having only really seen it from a U.S. point of view. But women everywhere did go through the same prejudice and work to equal their rights, and Ms. Graham does an admiral job in describing how Canadian women progressed and persevered through the process. Audrey even uses her artistic skill to further their cause.
When Audrey finally makes it back into Danny’s arms, all is right with the world. They marry quickly and live in a room attached to his parents’ house that Danny himself built. It’s those small nuances that pull you further into the story and make you feel you’re part of these lives that live simply but happily with so very little. Slowly, however, Danny’s feelings of inadequacy become more pronounced and he moves them to Halifax where there’s work he’ll be able to handle, even with his disability. Audrey is hesitant to leave their idyllic life, but she goes where her husband goes. All does not go well for them in Halifax, to the point it seems they no longer know one another. Separation comes abruptly one night and Danny is now truly afloat in a morass of emotion he can’t contain. And if that’s not enough, their world literally explodes one bright and sunny day.
As I read those scenes when a ship explodes in the harbor at Halifax, killing hundreds – including scores of children – destroying everything near and damaging everything far, I kept wondering if those events were real. It’s a horrific tragedy and Ms. Graham does it justice in these scenes. I felt the impact of that day in every way possible as Danny helps those he can while he searches for Audrey and falls for three young orphaned brothers. He’s turned his life around after experiencing such devastation, and when he finally finds Audrey alive, there’s still the question of how strong their love is after so much strife and turmoil. I love the ending Ms. Graham gives them. Thankfully in such simpler times love can conquer all.
This is a beautifully heartwarming and romantic story in a time when hope and dreaming were in low supply. Danny and Audrey find each other by a fluke of fate, and the trials they go through will wrench your heart. If you’ve not read Genevieve Graham yet, please do so soon. Start with this one. I guarantee then you’ll want to read her Scottish historicals too.
I’ll be honest here, I really had no expectations for this book after reading the first part. My biggest quibble, apart from the purple prose that leaI’ll be honest here, I really had no expectations for this book after reading the first part. My biggest quibble, apart from the purple prose that leads to not being true to the characters, is the fact they don’t trust one another, nor their love in each other. Yes, that’s probably due to the fact they fell in love in record time, but then that’s the dilemma the author has woven into the over-the-top emotion this couple throws back and forth at the drop of a hat. There’s only one reason, and one reason alone, this book gets a higher grade from me over the first book.
This book picks up exactly where the first one left off – Lexi running from Quinn when she discovers something she either doesn’t understand or misinterprets, runs straight into trouble and Quinn has to rescue her and drag out of her why she ran to begin with. The opening scenes, as in the first book, actually move along okay, giving me hope maybe this story may be better. But then as Quinn and Lexi begin an actual conversation, my hopes plummet. People just don’t speak to each other the way these two do. It’s stilted and awkward, all due to word choice, which, again, is not true to the characters. Especially Quinn. He’s supposed to be alpha military. He’s only that when he’s actually in military mode. It doesn’t bleed over into his everyday life.
Once Quinn and Lexi get to the end destination after their wilderness trek, things go to hell very quickly. Vincent, Lexi’s supposed fiance, is there first and causes havoc to no end. Lexi tries to will Quinn to understand her betrayal, and Quinn is just left bewildered and out cold, even though he can take down any number of men at a time. I find it a bit ironic it’s always something very simple that takes Quinn down in these books. He finds himself bound in a basement somewhere, and he bides his time to escape and get Lexi out of his mind. These scenes during his imprisonment are actually some of the best in the book.
Lexi, on the other, hand, she hasn’t grown one whit since the first book. She’s still too vulnerable and naive, especially after her sojourn. She just needs to grow the hell up. But even after her treatment in Vince’s hands, she’s the same old Lexi. Finally her father, the mob boss, gets involved, which should have happened much earlier, in my opinion. Both she and Quinn are doubting each other to the point of never wanting to see the other again. At least Lexi does get the gumption to finally face Quinn when her next secret can’t be hidden any longer. But the man is vicious. Doesn’t give her a chance, flaunts his one-nighter in front of her, and is very close to losing my respect. In fact, I’m surprised that hasn’t happened already.
What saves him? His reaction to Lexi’s news when he does finally discover the truth. Of course, there needs to be more groveling on both sides by this time, but it’s too late for that. For me there’s just way too much outside conflict that goes in their lives. They seldom work together, and when they do, it doesn’t last long. But I do like the scenes near the end when Quinn finally has everything he never thought he wanted. That, and the few other points above, are the only things that brought my grade up for this book. Everything else needs so much work. Hopefully Ms. Cliff will take this experience and grow from it.
I chose to read this two-part book based on the description and blurb sent to me through email. I responded that I love to read alpha military heroes,I chose to read this two-part book based on the description and blurb sent to me through email. I responded that I love to read alpha military heroes, thus this series sounded like a good one. For me, however, what was described and what I actually got are two totally different things.
The story actually starts okay. Quinn is contacted by a mob boss, one who Quinn owes a debt to. The man’s daughter is missing and needs Quinn’s help to find her. Quinn really doesn’t want to get that deeply involved with the mafia; they always take a few extra miles when given just an inch. However, he reluctantly agrees, throwing out his own terms in getting the job done. So he kicks his current flavor of the night out of the house – he’s a player to the max and has the sexist attitude to go with it – off Quinn goes to trek through forest and mountain to find a pregnant mafia princess.
Lexi is one those heroines who has been sheltered, is kind and gentle and really knows nothing of the world, even though she’s been around her mafia family all her life. Though she does use last bit when she needs to look a little smarter than she actually is. She’s in a bind at home. Her fiance is blackmailing her, supposedly has evidence she’s killed someone, so he’s going to get what he wants out of her while he can. A close friend, though, is willing to help her by giving her the means to disappear off the grid until things can be taken care of. He gives her a map for her journey though the wilderness, along with some supplies and just enough time to flee before the shit hits the fan.This woman knows absolutely nothing about hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and anything else you need to know to survive in the great big wild. Why in the hell wouldn’t she go to her father, the mafia boss, the big kahuna, the main man, to get out of trouble? Oh, yeah, because then there wouldn’t be a story. I have a feeling a better story would have ensued if that’s the direction it would have gone, though.
So Quinn finds Lexi lickety-split. That’s his baliwick, you know, so almost a no-brainer to track her down. He turns on the charm and easily worms his way into keeping her company until she reaches her destination. Lexi has just a tiny bit of hesitation in letting this stranger tag along, but then she acquiesces, which tells me again she doesn’t use her brain much, and that is borne out over and over again in this book. She’s so wishy-washy, going from sweet to pissed off about the most inane things in nanoseconds. The biggest nitpick I have during this journey of theirs is they act like giggling teenagers instead of the grownups they are. Quinn is in his early to mid 30s, but he’s on the ground tickling Lexi and spewing purple prose left and right that no man – especially an alpha male – in his right mind would ever say. Two-dollar words are used, like in an effort to beef up the content, when fifty-cent words are a better bet. Orbs? Who thinks someone’s blue (or green or brown, whatever) orbs are the prettiest they’ve ever seen. Orbs are those mysterious lights you see in supposed paranormal photographs. How about eyes? That’s a good fifty-cent word.
The only part of this story, other than the beginning, that I even like a little is when Quinn does truly go into alpha military mode when he and his dog realize they’re being followed and then later when two men actually get their hands on Lexi. But those scenes are so short, it’s not enough to make up for the ground lost in the rest of the book. Also, the fact that these two fall in love at the drop of a hat, can’t tell the truth to one another no matter what despite the fact they love one another, and then even decide they hate the other when it looks at though betrayal is in the works. So much for love. I’d rather have had these two stick together against all the conflict instead of letting the conflict break them apart. It would make me believe in their love so much more.
I do like Amber, Quinn’s military dog. I like a man who loves his dog. I just wish he’s more of a man instead of a sexist jerk who suddenly changes into a different person when he meets the supposed love of his life. He spouts emotional drivel all over the place. I’d rather he be a man who doesn’t know how to utter one word when faced with all that emotion – or even bumbles it up some when he does try. That would be more endearing than anything he says to Lexi in all these pages. I think I’ll go out on a limb and say this book didn’t get much of a professional edit. I can’t see any editor letting this much and more getting by them.
Of course, this is all just me. Others could love a man like Quinn and the woman he lusts after. More power to them. I just find it all way over the top and much too difficult to believe. And be warned, this book ends on a cliffhanger, because the author herself loves them and she wants to live up to her name. I’m not a fan of them myself, but because I had both books, in this instance it didn’t bother me as much. And because I requested both books to review from that email I received, I did finish this one, though a number of times I wanted to set it down and not get back to it. I also read the second book, the review of which will be coming soon. Stay tuned.