In Your Corner by Sarah Castille

At one point in this novel Jake is helping Amanda correct her form and technique with push-ups. I gotta say…I don’t think I’ve ever come across a novel which has made this physical activity seem so damn sensual. What with all the grasping, pulling, pushing and rubbing. Oh good God the rubbing.

What’s it About?

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He rules in the ring

Two years ago, Jake and Amanda were going hot and heavy. But when Jake wanted more, Amanda walked away. Jake immersed himself in mixed martial arts, living life on the edge. But that didn’t dull the pain of Amanda’s rejection-until a chance encounter throws them together.

A high-powered lawyer, Amanda was a no-strings-attached kind of girl. But two years after her breakup with Jake, she still hasn’t found anyone who gets her heart pumping the way he did. And then he shows up in her boardroom, hot as sin and needing help…

But can he rule her heart?

Jake is darker, sexier, and impossible to resist. As their chemistry builds, Amanda’s not sure if she can stay in control, or if she’s finally willing to let him claim her body and soul.

First Impressions

Ok ladies and gents, first things first. I think we all need to take a moment to stop and appreciate the beauty of this cover art. I mean, my God, he’s like a sculpture! I never quite understood in romance novels when female leads expressed the desire of wanting to lick the tattoos of their male love interest, but after viewing this cover?! Yeah, ok I still don’t get the sentiment. Especially considering how sweaty this guy looks. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth if you ask me. But still! Beautiful man right there.

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Alright, now that that’s outta the way, we can begin! To give you all an idea of where my mind was at when starting this novel, I’d actually like to quote myself from something I wrote in my review of the first book in this series. Ahem, cue throat clearing noise, “If we ever have a future novel featuring Amanda as the female lead I’m gonna have some issues with it.” Lo and behold, who is the main character of book 2? Why Amanda of course! I must say, I really hated this character in the first novel. Here’s another gem of a quote from my last review, “Not gonna lie, this woman is a terrible friend, and quite possibly a terrible person in general.” Needless to say, I wasn’t quite looking forward to this read, but if I were ever to skip a book in a series I’m convinced the world would implode in on itself. Ok, I’m not that psychotic, but you get my point.

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Expectation vs. Reality

Imagine my shock and awe when I started reading this book to discover Amanda really wasn’t that bad. Now, personally I think there are three main components which contributed to the reason she didn’t get on my nerves as much in this book. First, it’s been two years since the end of book one. Who knows, maybe she’s been able to mature in that time. Second, we do finally get to hear things from her point of view, and it definitely puts things in perspective. Growing up Amanda was never one to hear “I love you” very often from her parents, who also held her to impeccably high standards. She’s always been closed off, putting a wall up in her relationships in an attempt to numb herself to the pain of when she would inevitably be dumped. Must have added to the whole “selfish” personality trait which was so persistent in book one. Points one and two considered, I think there is one main overbearing reason though why it was easier to like Amanda in this book compared to book 1.

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Honestly, it was like we were introduced to a completely different character. I feel as though more of the infuriating characteristics of Amanda’s personality were either toned down, or even changed entirely in order for us to like her more as a main character. In looking back on my review of the first book, one of the reasons I disliked her so much was in her treatment of Jake when the two briefly dated. I discussed how she decided to slowly faze him out because he didn’t bend to her every selfish whim, and when he said “to hell with this” he decided to break things off, at which point Amanda immediately jumped into bed with someone else. But then in this book their break up is presented in such a different light, as though she pulled away from Jake because she was afraid of opening up to him. Seems like either their break up was not fully discussed in a coherent way in the first book, and I totally misread the situation, or we’re getting a toned down version of events so that it’s easier to sympathize with Amanda. Sure, I like to believe the version of events we get in this book, but I couldn’t help but feel there was some disconnect here.

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Chasing the Climax

Amanda likes sex. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. The connection of two people, where for the briefest of moments she can finally feel loved and desired by someone else. It’s a feeling which comes crashing down in the light of day, and so she continually tries to chase that connection. When her boss discovers her penchant for sex he tries to use it as a way to blackmail her. Either she gets down on her knees to please him, or he’ll reveal her entire dossier of past sexual partners (and it’s a pretty thick dossier) to her parents. Not only that, but he’ll tarnish her reputation all over town by saying that she was the one to proposition him. Rock, meet hard place. Audience, meet a jackass in a position of power who thinks he can manipulate a woman into spreading her legs for him.

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The fact that this form of sexual harassment happens so often in the real world makes us want to stand behind Amanda in any way possible to support her. Also, the fact that Amanda chooses to say no, to walk away with her reputation in tatters but her integrity intact? Well that makes us root for her all the more. After telling her boss to go to hell Amanda makes the brave decision to strike out on her own. To fight back against the man who tried to take advantage of her, and so many others before her. Honestly I think I liked this part of the story a lot more than the romantic aspect! I almost wish these two separate story lines could have been blended together more. It isn’t until the very end when Amanda is about to face her boss again that Jake makes a quick appearance to say that he is in her corner, but it seemed like a missed opportunity for them to discuss it more throughout the rest of the book as something to connect over. Instead they connect over something else.

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S…E…X

No more beating around the bush. Sex is a very important part of Amanda and Jake’s relationship. We discover that it’s the one way for Amanda to finally open about what she’s feeling. It’s important to remember that when our novel opens, Amanda and Jake haven’t seen each other in over two years. This ramps up their sexual desire about tenfold, as they’ve both been denying their sexual connection for quite some time. It makes every glance, every touch, that much more intriguing. But Jake wants so much more from Amanda than just sex. He wants a relationship, and for Amanda to open up to share what she’s thinking, feeling, and what she’s afraid of. Here’s the problem though. These two don’t know how to effectively communicate!

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In the beginning especially, Jake does a pretty poor job of telling Amanda exactly what he wants out of this relationship. They’ll be in the midst of a heavy make-out session when he’ll abruptly stop, say they both need to consider what they really want from this, and then turn around and leave. This makes Amanda mistakenly think he wants nothing from her. And then when Jake does finally communicate that he wants the whole kit and caboodle with her she suddenly pulls away because she doesn’t want to open up. My God girl do you want the guy or no?!?! I had trouble at times following her thought process.

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When she and Jake start to explore a sexual relationship again after two years apart, she seems so desperate to ensure this isn’t just another notch in her bedpost. She wants that high she’s been chasing for so long to finally stick with someone who makes her feel wanted, and Jake appears to be that guy. When he eventually admits he wants the same thing though she puts her walls back up. She can’t give up control. In a way it seems like now she just wants sex from him, and I must say it was kind of uncomfortable at times how she’d ignore Jake’s feelings to get it. At one point Jake was trying to put a stop once again to their sexplorations so that they could talk things over. He’s begging her to stop, to take things slow, saying no over and over again, but she just keeps rubbing up against him until they give in to their desires on the floor of a MMA fight cage. Remember everyone, no means no. However, ironically enough it turns out that having sex is the key to getting Amanda to finally open up and talk about herself! Something about that post-orgasmic sleepy bliss gets her to talk about her feelings. I have an inkling Jake won’t mind too much in the long run using that technique to ultimately have an honest conversation with the woman.

Series: Redemption, book 2. You might not believe it, but I think I may have actually liked this book better than book one. I am also excited to see what comes next in this series, as I genuinely enjoy all of the remaining characters. Nowhere to go but up, right?

Should you read it? So, just like the previous book I can’t say this was my favorite read ever. Jake and Amanda seem like they are caught up in a never-ending circle of getting close and then breaking away into their separate corners for introspection before eventually coming together again. It got tiring and repetitive after a while. That being said, it starts and ends strong, as this is when we see Amanda stand up for herself against her boss, and go after what she wants in a relationship with Jake. It’s just that measly middle section where she starts to doubt anything and everything about her life. Could have been tweaked a bit.

Smut Level: Vibrating panties and a penis piercing. Enough said. She’s also never been spanked before, and Jake is more than happy to introduce her to it.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Sourcebooks Casablanca. 302 Pages.

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The Beast of Aubyn Hall by Alex L. Michaels

A slightly quirky and accident prone bookworm? Check. A sexy as hell and overly confident alpha male? Check! You can definitely understand why this book would be part of the Bookworms & Alphas series!

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The man they call the beast, sworn off love, meets the bookish beauty who thinks that love exists only in books. When Bronte Beltran finds out that her next assignment is cataloging the famous Aubyn Hall library, she’s ecstatic. But when she finds out they call the owner the Beast of Aubyn Hall, not so much. A week in a dusty library should be right up her alley. But a wrong word at the wrong time and she might just find out what exactly is beastly about the Beast of Aubyn Hall.

First Impressions

Holy crap this book is the epitome of sexual tension build-up. Practically from the moment that Bronte crosses the threshold into Aubyn Hall, and hears the dark and foreboding voice of Caine, aka our Beast, you can practically feel the air get thick with desire. That being said, prepare yourself to be teased, as we don’t get a full and final…climax to this desire until the very final moments of the book. You’ll want to scream out loud, “Just ravish each other already!”

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In a way, it sort of follows the same story arch of the first novel, where we were also presented with some delayed gratification. Whereas book one presents us with a plethora of being pushed up against a wall and being whipped around for an intense close-up discussion, in this novel we get the added glory of Caine continually coming up behind Bronte in the heat of an argument. Sexy whispers in her ear, not to mention that a particularly part of his anatomy is usually…digging into her bum. I will say, although we are being teased right along with the characters, this makes for a very quick read because you just keep reading on and on so you can get to the moment when they consummate this thing.

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Sexy as Hell, buuuuuuut…

This book is sexy as all get out, but at the same time I also found the dynamic between Caine and Bronte to be somewhat worrisome. It’s clear that Caine is set and determined to have Bronte in his bed, and while she is obviously affected by his sexy whispers and passionate stares, she expends quite a bit of effort to convince both herself and him that she’s not receptive to his sexual ministrations. He’s also quick to boss her around, and while sometimes it relates to the fact that she’s working for him, in his home, cataloging his library, it also crosses the line of professionalism. Below is one quote which I found to be particularly concerning:

In fact, I don’t think he ever approached me in a kind or respectful manner. He just kept sneaking around me, provoking me, making me feel uncomfortable and sometimes he plainly insulted me. He also made me feel foolish, confused, insecure and sometimes plain afraid. But he also excited me enormously, that much I was able to admit to myself.

I mean, goodness gracious if it weren’t for that last sentence I’d be screaming at the woman to get the hell outta that house! At the same time though, whether she’s sexually excited by this man or not, I feel like the fact he sometimes made her feel “plain afraid”, can’t really be a good thing??? The last thing we want is to have an alpha male who borders the line into jackass. Although, I guess we were warned right in the title that we’re dealing with a beast here 🙂

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However, based on how the novel progresses it becomes clear that Bronte is definitely attracted to this man, and she just doesn’t want to admit it to herself, so it results in Bronte continually running away from her feelings for this man. One of my favorite quotes from the book is said by another woman who has her sights set on Caine, and during one confrontation with Bronte she declares, “and you want him to get you whether you’re willing to admit this to yourself or not”. Such an intelligent statement that can carry over into so many romance novels. I guess I just wish there weren’t those moments thrown in where Bronte admits she doesn’t feel respected by Caine. It kind of throws a damper on the sexual fire that is spreading throughout the rest of the book.

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A Library in Disarray

Bronte and her team have been brought to Aubyn Hall in order to get Caine’s library in order for eventual public view. Maybe I’m just too much of a book nerd, but I sort of wish more time had been spent talking about the details involved with this work. I mean, what exactly goes into cataloging a library? Apparently a lot of heavy lifting, but what else? Alphabetizing? Writing down all the titles? Making sure there’s a designated romance section? This sort of ties in as well to my wish that Bronte and Caine had connected a bit more over their shared love of books. They both admit to the fact that they’re book lovers, but maybe having just one or two additional moments where they connect over books in the library might have transformed their relationship beyond just the obvious sexual connection.

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A Beast with a Set Mind

Apparently Caine has a motto in life when it comes to Bronte, and that would be “I have set my mind on you.” This is his answer for everything when it comes to why he is constantly pursuing Bronte, and why he refuses to give up on her. No matter how many times she says no. Bronte is totally stumped when it comes to Caine’s pursuit, since she can’t understand why someone as gorgeous and rich as him would pursue a bookworm such as her.

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This brings us to the inevitable confrontation and blow-up between Caine and Bronte. Just when they are starting to make some progress and headway to starting a relationship, it is revealed that Caine asked for Bronte specifically when it came to the work on his library. Apparently he had seen her once before, and this provoked his mind to be set on her. Honestly, I had a bit of trouble understanding why this was seen as such an offense to Bronte. She is immediately pissed, and explains that it was a way of Caine using his money to try and exert his control into her life.

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Which, ok, I can see is kind of weird. He could have just been a normal person, walked into the library where she was working and ask her out for a cup of coffee. But then we wouldn’t have a book, would we? 🙂 I guess her reaction seemed just a bit over-the-top considering this ploy to get her in his house was essentially his version of a pick-up line. My favorite comment on this entire situation comes from Bronte’s friend who states, “…boo hoo. So what? Maybe it wasn’t the smoothest type of seduction, but it wasn’t the worst either.” Amen sister!

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Bookworms & Alphas, book 2. You really don’t need to read the first book in this series to follow the plot of this one. The female lead from book 1 does get a mention towards the end of the novel, but there’s no plot carry over, so you should be all set! I’d love to see future books in this series focus on some of the supplemental characters from this book, as they are an absolute hoot!

Should you read it? This is sort of a different take on your classic Beauty and the Beast tale, in that our beast is actually gorgeous. He’s more beastly in manner, not to mention a beast in the bedroom. When it comes to building sexual tension this book has perfected it to a damn near science, but I wish we would have seen a bit more connection between the characters over their love of books. It’s sort of the only time we see a soothing to his beastly manner, and I just wanted more of it. I also wasn’t a huge fan of their dispute over why Bronte was brought to Aubyn Hall to begin with. While it provided conflict to the plot, I couldn’t really understand why she was soooo offended at the thought of being brought there because he’d seen her before.

Smut Level: Caine just loves to make a happy hour of Bronte, in that he has the tendency to pour his alcoholic beverages over her before lapping it up. While we have to wait quite a long time before they officially have sex, we get a delightful amount of dirty talk and teasing before then.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 153 Pages.

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Cocky Biker by Faleena Hopkins

For those of you looking for a definition of the word “irony” here you go: I think I published my review of this book at almost the exact same minute #cockygate started appearing on Twitter. Who knew?! This is what happens when you don’t pay attention to social media as much as you should! As you can see from my review below I did enjoy this book, but just crazy to see what was evolving on Twitter at the same moment. I’ve seen other bloggers say they’re deleting all their reviews and ratings of this series; others say reviews are sacred and to keep the honesty alive. So, I’ve decided to keep my honest review of the work itself up on my blog here.


I’ve gotta give a standing ovation to these two. They use every available surface to make the most of their coupling. They always seem to end up in a sweaty mess after a multitude of orgasms. You may also question the cleanliness of the next hotel room you stay in considering all the positions they get in!

What’s it About?

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I want her and she won’t even tell me her name.
The Ciphers, we’re the Robin Hoods of MCs.
Our latest mission is the most dangerous we’ve faced.
I thought we’d get in, get nasty, and get out.
I didn’t expect to meet a woman as wild as a feral animal.
Normal women bore the f*ck out of me.
I need this one. Crave her.
Hell, I even have the patience to make her trust me.
I’m a Cocker. We always get what we want.
This can’t be the one time I won’t.

LUNA:
Sunshine? Only a cocky man like him would call me something so ironic.
I try to pretend I don’t dampen under his smirk.
That I don’t want to climb on the back of his bike.
Forget alllllllll my problems for a night.
But I’m here for a reason, and he isn’t it.
I have to run from sexy and smooth-talking Jett Cocker.
The only thing worse…would be never having met him.

First Impressions

Man this book has you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails in anticipation with every possible twist and turn! You never quite know where the story is headed or what’s gonna happen. Just when you think the high action break-in to free women trapped in a sex trafficking house will be the high point…BAM! Here’s a coma hospital stay to keep you on your toes. And all within the first 1/4 or so of the book! Definitely not a boring read, and I found myself surprised a time or two with the direction of how the story plays out.

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When we look beyond the plot we see that the characters in this book are everything you could ever want. Luna is a bad-ass, living a life focused on revenge. There’s the constant wonder and worry of what she’ll have to live for should she ever succeed in avenging the death of her mother. Enter our bad-boy biker! Jett of course is a cocky son of a gun, but just like his brother from book one, it’s a cockiness that adds to his smoldering sexiness rather than making you hate him. I also enjoyed getting to know the other members of the motorcycle club, who are brothers to Jett when his own are so far away on the other side of the country.

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A Cipher Biker with Determination

I’ll admit that I’m not always a fan of motorcycle club focused tales, but this was definitely an exception to the rule. While Jett has a tough exterior as a member of the Ciphers motorcycle club, we see that he and the other club members are dedicated to doing the good that the police can’t always get to. They believe in doing what’s right, even when it seems impossible. Vigilante justice at its best! Like Robin Hood…or Batman. They dress in dark leather and have some amazing roaring metal rides under them, but there’s just no need for a utility belt or bat signal. And of course, in spite of their hard-ass outer appearance, it’s evident they are all a close-knit family who care deeply for each other. What’s not to love here?

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In spite of Jett’s cocky manner, he’s also the one who is most sure about the connection between him and Luna. She is fearful, and her first instinct is to run away from what she feels for this stranger. Normally this feature can be frustrating as hell in a romance, but Luna’s distrust of men is completely understandable based on her past. She grew up trapped in a house where her mom and numerous other women were trafficked for sex. Used and abused, her mother died when Luna was just a girl. She had to run away and learn to survive on her own so she didn’t end up with the same sad fate. Luna knows there’s something important linking her to Jett, but she’s not sure she can give her all to him. Initially she only wants to see him as a way to get some sexual satisfaction, but it doesn’t take long to realize that he makes her feel alive in a way she’s never felt before. He teaches her to ride. To find her freedom. But Jett starts to wonder if he’s teaching her to live, or providing her with the means to run away from him forever.

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A Sequel Unlike the Rest

This is one of those few moments where I think I may have enjoyed book two in the series more than the first! However, there’s a few clarifying points to make with this statement. First, the two are completely unique and distinct from each other. I think it signifies that as a whole I’m probably gonna really like this series, as each novel has a different focus. The first is definitely more light-hearted and comedic. This one has the drama, the action, the suspense. It has a darker side to it which completely sets it apart from the first. We still have the continuing cockiness of the Cocker brothers, and the importance they place on family, but it never felt like we were seeing the same story on repeat. Each book has its merits, and you might have to decide if you’re more in the mood for a romantic comedy or suspense, but either way you’ll probably be pleased! While I’m still early on in being introduced to the Cocker brothers, I have a feeling that it’ll be hard to get tired of the series. We’ve already seen a romance between roommates, and now a biker romance. Looking ahead we have a cowboy, a soldier, a politician, a rock star, and so much more!

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Series: Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, book 2. At the end of each book we get an introduction to the brother who will be featured in the following book. In the last one we saw biker Jett help out his brother Jake. In this we see the cowboy Cocker, Jaxson, host Jett on his ranch. Yeehaw for book 3!

Should you read it? This book pulled me in from the opening scene, and didn’t let me go until our final scene closes. It’s full of suspense, revenge, flirtatious back and forth, family drama, and true love. Not to mention lots and lots of sweaty sex. I’m talking dripping with sweat here. Consider yourself warned that at times Jett has some rather…ungentlemanly ways of referring to Luna when she does something to piss him off. His words can definitely make you cringe at times. Overall though we have a story that manages to mesh together a dramatically interesting plot with an intriguing romance.

Smut Level: I’d say on average these two would go at it for about four or five rounds in a row when doing the dirty. They’d be laying down, standing up, rolling every which way and in essence getting a great work out.

Get it on Amazon:Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Hop Hop Publications. 336 Pages.

Own the Wind by Kristen Ashley

I’ll admit it was kind of cute to see the domestic side of a romance novel, especially when a hard core biker is involved. Shopping for a refrigerator, arguing over who is responsible for doing the laundry. Feels so realistic!

What’s it About?

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Tabitha Allen grew up in the thick of Chaos—the Chaos Motorcycle Club, that is. Her father is Chaos’ leader, and the club has always had her back. But one rider was different from the start. When Tabby was running wild, Shy Cage was there. When tragedy tore her life apart, he helped her piece it back together. And now, Tabby’s thinking about much more than friendship…Tabby is everything Shy’s ever wanted, but everything he thinks he can’t have. She’s beautiful, smart, and as his friend’s daughter, untouchable. Shy never expected more than friendship, so when Tabby indicates she wants more—much morehe feels like the luckiest man alive. But even lucky men can crash and burn…

First Impressions

Shy is the ultimate alpha motorcycle dude with a cave man persona and everything. I’ll admit that my initial reaction to some of his comments made the inner woman in me want to cry out in protest. He’ll never do the laundry? Excuuuuuse me? You think I wanna wash your dirty underwear, I don’t think so! But what this novel does pretty well is that Shy is rather quick to then verbalize why he’s coming off as a seemingly difficult guy. For example, with the laundry we discover there’s actually a sad back story to his laundry aversion revolving around having to live with his uncle and tyrannical aunt following the death of his parents. It seems like in so many romance novels you’ll have some kind of argument like this, and our lead characters will just get all pissy about it and refuse to speak the truth about the matter for days. To Shy’s benefit, he sort of breaks the mold in that he insists Tabby listen to his explanations. True he could still probably tone things down a smidge, but you gotta give the guy some credit for not closing himself off.

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 From Repetition to Time References

I will say I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the writing elements employed here. Firstly, the book was quite repetitive when it came to the wording of a particular scene. Either the same emotion or action would be stated in a slightly different way, or it would just be blatantly repeated. Now don’t get me wrong, I realize I am also 100% guilty of doing this, and I do it often. I do it all the time. I do it in a plethora of different ways. You could even say the number of times I do it is rather numerous. See what I’m doing here? Saying the same thing three-four times over, but it builds my paragraph length and sometimes lets me look up some fun new words in a thesaurus. And even though I know I myself am guilty of this technique, it was kind of irritating to see it utilized so many times throughout a full-length book, which is already pretty long at roughly 400 pages.

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Another feature which left me kind of lost was that each chapter, and even sometimes multiple times throughout a chapter, we’d be introduced with some kind of time progression. 3 weeks later, 2 days later, 6 weeks later. I’m sorry, am I supposed to be keeping track of all this? Because I stopped paying attention about 7 months ago. Towards the beginning I think it was helpful when tracking Tabby’s relationship with another guy, and the length of time which passed after this guy’s untimely death before she and Shy became an item. Other than that, kind of unnecessary.

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One final confusing aspect was that we would have a sudden introduction of a person or event as though we were supposed to know the full back story of what was going on. But of course we don’t, so we then get multiple pages of description and background before finally getting back to the present predicament. Again, if this had happened once or twice, I would get it, but it was a recurring theme which would often make it even harder to understand the timeline of where we were in the story. To be introduced to a character for the first time, then learn about the history of the main character with this new character, then hear about some of the different events from this new character’s past even before meeting the main character which made them the person they are today, to finally getting back to why this new character had to be introduced in this particular scene in the first place. Exhaustion!

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Brushing Aside the Action

For the most part, this book is just an exploration of Tabby’s evolving relationship with Shy, as well as the two of them getting used to each other’s quirks and habits. And bodies!! We have two moments in particular which are pretty drama-filled, but I must say I was disappointed in how they were handled. In both instances, the details are kind of left feeling unfinished. Seeing as the rest of the book isn’t too action-packed, it was kind of frustrating that the few instances where we do have it we never get a full resolution to matters.

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In the first instance Shy is finally allowed to confront his parents’ murderer, and some body-beating goes on, but then we sort of switch gears entirely to him having an honest confrontation with his aunt and uncle. Um, I’m sorry but what happened to the guy you were just mercilessly beating? Did you kill him? Remove an extremity? Leave him to die somewhere?? The second instance was especially frustrating as we are introduced to an intense feud between the club and a rival gang in which Shy is even left slightly injured. I was expecting a final confrontation or battle. Showdown between key members. Something! But again it’s brushed aside and the book basically ends. There’s the implication this will continue on in future novels in the series, but I wanted more! Now!

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Series: Chaos, book 1. This book wasn’t my favorite thing ever, but I gotta say it was probably one of the most enjoyable novels I’ve read from Kristen Ashley so far. Don’t have much to go on of course, but still! I could see myself continuing with this one.

Should you read it? As it turns out, I unknowingly broke the cardinal rule of romance novel reading. I didn’t do a thorough enough background check to see if this was part of a series. I simply saw that it was book 1 of the Chaos series and assumed I was good to go. Well, you know what they say when you assume something! Turns out there’s some fine print to that, which states that this is an offshoot of the Dream Man series, and that it recommends you read Motorcycle Man first so you can follow along with some of the events which are referenced. Oops! At times I was kind of lost when they quickly referenced what must have been huge story points from this other novel. The problem is I’ve read a few of the novels from this other series and I wasn’t a huge fan, so I’m not as motivated as I should be to go back and complete that series.

Smut Level: Good Lord it was shocking how some of these chapters started! Normally with Shy’s head between Tabby’s legs. Yowza!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Forever Publishing. 405 Pages.

I Only Have Eyes for You by Bella Andre

Looks like the nice twin has a little bit of naughty to her after all!

What’s it About?

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Sophie Sullivan, a librarian in San Francisco, was five years old when she fell head over heels in love with Jake McCann. Twenty years later, she’s convinced the notorious bad boy still sees her as the “nice” Sullivan twin. That is, when he bothers to look at her at all. But when they both get caught up in the magic of the first Sullivan wedding, she knows it’s long past time to do whatever it takes to make him see her for who she truly is…the woman who will love him forever.

Jake has always been a magnet for women, especially since his Irish pubs made him extremely wealthy. But the only woman he really wants is the one he can never have. Not only is Sophie his best friend’s off-limits younger sister…he can’t risk letting her get close enough to discover his deeply hidden secret. Only, when Sophie appears on his doorstep as Jake’s every fantasy come to life—smart, beautiful, and shockingly sexy—he doesn’t have a prayer of taking his eyes, or his hands, off her. And he can’t stop craving more of her sweet smiles and sinful kisses. Because even though Jake knows loving Sophie isn’t the right thing to do…how can he possibly resist?

First Impressions

We finally get to see a novel featuring one of the female Sullivan siblings! Needless to say it’s interesting to see how different the approach is to the story line. First off, overprotective brother overload. There are 6 Sullivan brothers who all want to protect her from the world, and only see her as the nice librarian. On top of this we also get the protective mode from her twin sister, nicknamed “naughty”. Well, Sophie is ready to take things into her own hands and go after what she’s wanted for years.

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And what should happen when she finally takes a chance by going after what she wants and exploring her sexuality? Accidental pregnancy! With twins no less! I kind of see now how inconvenient it can be to be a Sullivan female. Despite the overprotective siblings and apparent repercussions of having sex as a Sullivan woman, I did enjoy this book. The dynamic between Jake and Sophie was interesting to behold. They have both loved each other for years, and while she’s the one to make the first move by pursuing him, he’s eventually the one pursuing her to take a chance by spending the rest of her life with him.

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Duty or Desire?

The main discussion point of this book surrounds the relationship between Jake and Sophie in that upon learning of her pregnancy he wants to marry her immediately. Although this is something Sophie has always dreamed of, she refuses to say “yes”, thinking that he’s simply feeling honor bound to wed her after knocking her up. What she doesn’t know is that Jake has desired this union for years, and now that it’s within his grasp he wants to move at the speed of light. Jake asks that she give him just one week to prove they are meant to be together. He now must prove to her that he’s not just fulfilling his duty to marry her because she’s pregnant, and also that their connection isn’t just physical. I mean…sure it doesn’t hurt to explore all the ways they are physically compatible, does it? Both Sophie and Jake are willing to add that feature to the mix. Using their hands, tongues and…other extremities.

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Took Ya Long Enough

Considering Sophie and Jake have both desired each other for years, it also begs the question why they never acted upon their feelings before now. And this is where I think the novel was a bit lacking. First, there’s the family element. Jake was brought into the family years beforehand as almost the 9th Sullivan child considering his own abusive home life. When Jake’s best friend, Zach (who also happens to be Sophie’s older brother), discovers their relationship he is immediately pissed and a fight ensues. Here is something I never understand in romance novels!! If this is your best friend, wouldn’t you sort of be happy that he could become a brother in a truer form through marriage? It’s in this fight that we realize it’s not just that Sophie’s family thinks Jake isn’t good enough for her, it’s that nobody is good enough for her. And I can’t help but roll my eyes at that. Look, you know this is a good guy, he’d treat her well, take care of their children, and you’ve already known him for years. Do you really need to enter into a bout of fisticuffs?

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The secondary reason a relationship was never pursued was much more intriguing in that it actually relates to the interests and abilities of our 2 main characters, which always seems like such a minor component to most romances. You see, Sophie is a librarian; her whole world revolves around books, and she has the tendency to trip over the stacks of novels strewn about her apartment. Something I can relate to. Jake though? He has a profound difficulty with reading which has plagued him for years. If he focuses hard enough he can string words together, but it’s a struggle which he is afraid to admit to Sophie he suffers with. Surely when she finds out he “can’t read” she’ll see him as an idiot and break things off for good, right? Well, when he powers through What to Expect When You’re Expecting in one night, and eventually admits his impediment with Sophie, she realizes just how far he’s willing to go to prove he loves her. Sigh!

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Series: San Francisco Sullivans, book 4. A definite improvement from the last few, though kind of unfortunate to see all the unexpected mishaps which can befall a Sullivan female in love.

Should you read it? An intriguing love story about two people who finally get what they’ve always wanted, even if it was an unexpected pregnancy which brought them together. One aspect I didn’t really care for was this idea of proving to Sophie in a week that they are destined for each other. Like, what’s the rush here people? Also the idea of keeping the relationship a secret from the family. We’re all adults here, they’re just gonna have to deal with it!

Smut Level: Gotta love those pregnancy hormones making everything more sensitive, right?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Oak Press, LLC. 176 Pages.

 

Hardpressed by Meredith Wild

“I don’t know what it was about him pinning me up against hard surfaces, but I fucking loved it”. Amen sister!

What’s it About? hardpressed

Despite Blake Landon’s controlling ways, the young and wealthy hacker finally won the trust of the woman he loves. Internet entrepreneur Erica Hathaway broke down the walls that kept her from opening her heart and her business to Blake. Ready to start this new chapter in her life, Erica is determined not to let anything come between them, even if that means giving Blake back some of the control he craves in and out of the bedroom. But when demons from her past threaten their future, Erica makes a decision that could change their lives forever.

First Impressions

If I had to describe this book in three words or less it would be “frustrating as fuuuuuuuuuck”. Apologies, pardon my language, but what can I say? I’m frustrated!!! This is one of those novels where it seems like all of the drama, unhappiness and mayhem could have just disappeared in a poof if Erica had managed to open her mouth and share what was going on with Blake. Now I know, having the drama end all within the span of a chapter doesn’t make for a very exciting read. But in my mind, that means it doesn’t make for a very decent plot when you can resolve it all so quick and easy if the lead character acted in any way like a normal person would. Maybe add another dimension to it so that I don’t constantly want to pull my hair out and scream out loud, “JUST TELL HIM WHAT’S GOING ON!!!!” The fact I listened to this as an audio book primarily on my walks to and from work meant that I was constantly on the verge of looking like a psycho. Nobody wants that people!

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Feel the Pressure

One of the minor frustrating aspects of this novel revolved around Blake and Erica’s sexual relationship. It’s basically a continuation of what was presented in book one, with them running in circles like a greyhound chasing a mechanized bunny at the race-track. He’s used to non-vanilla type sex, where domination is the name of the game, and he’s the master of his bedroom. However, Blake is hesitant to fully dominate her since she was raped years before. He’s worried he’ll take things too far and they won’t be able to come back from it. Surprisingly, we see that Erica is actually the one pressuring Blake to take their sexual adventures to the next level. He desires total submission and she wants to give him that.

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The problem here is that both are so set on taking things to the extreme. She’s urging him to go all out in the bedroom, and he’s concerned going all out will trigger a panic attack for her. Whatever happened to baby steps people?! Like, you don’t have to go straight from missionary position in unique locations to being blindfolded, handcuffed, and spanked at the same time all in one go. Maybe have a slow and seductive introduction to the d/s lifestyle so that Blake doesn’t have to worry about taking things too far, and Erica can get used to a new side of sex she hasn’t seen before. Slow and steady wins the race folks! You need to learn how to tie the knot before stringing up your lover to the bedpost.

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Squashed Potential

The first quarter or so of this book was pretty dull, as it just dealt with Erica setting up her new business, and navigating her sexual relationship with Blake. And then we get a dramatic plot twist that I must admit I did NOT see coming. There was sooooo much potential here for the book to go in an entirely new direction with some depth and suspense thrown in. Unfortunately, this opportunity was pretty much squandered, as Erica draws together almost every stereotype of being a frustrating lead character. Now, I don’t want to give away this plot twist since it was undoubtedly the most interesting part of the novel. However, I will say that with this twist a character demands Erica break up with Blake, or else there is the implication that physical harm will come to him. So what does she do? She keeps her mouth shut about this external threat to Blake, instead choosing to end things between them.

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If Blake were just your average Joe Schmoe I miiiiight get why she didn’t want to draw him into her drama. Here’s the problem though. Blake is like, a gazillionaire. If Erica had just said, yo this person is threatening us as a couple, any thoughts? He probably could have hired a swarm of bodyguards, private investigators, and a swat team to resolve the matter. But instead Erica has to go and play the martyr, falling on her sword to give up her happiness with Blake to live in misery. Eventually he does find a way to weasel his way back into her panties, and it took a loooooong time for us to finally get there. And when we do? Blake has not only one option to resolve all her drama, but two! Just goes to show that working together as a couple, and opening up to your partner with the truth can make it so much easier to confront a threat than having to do it all on your own.

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Series: Hacker, book 2. This is a pretty meh series so far.

Should you read it? Really the only positive I can give with this one is the early plot twist, but unfortunately it just drags on and on before eventually going nowhere. Erica frustrated me to no end, especially considering how many times she pushed Blake away even though he was begging her to let him in and help. Makes it hard to sympathize with her woes when she’s being so stubborn.

Smut Level: They’re still in the introductory phase of the BDSM lifestyle. Blake enjoys his dirty talk, but you can tell he’s still hesitant to let his hand loose completely.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $6.99 Kindle Price. Hachette Book Group. 312 Pages.

Come Undone by Jessica Hawkins

For those of you who, like me, aren’t a huge fan of romance novels where our lead character is contemplating adultery, this might not be the book for you. The fact this lead eventually chooses to indulge in that temptation? Uggggggh.

What’s it About? 

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Olivia Germaine has already found love. Devoted wife, loyal friend, determined career woman–she’s created the life she always envisioned. But when Olivia locks eyes with a handsome stranger across a crowded room, he peers a little too closely and sees emotions she thought she’d buried long ago. David Dylan, alleged playboy and eternal bachelor, challenges Olivia to confront the life she’s built and to make decisions that could either lead to happiness…or regret. Will Olivia be able to draw the line between lust and love? And can David respect that line?

First Impressions

For the first half or so of this book I just thought, good God this is mind-numbingly dull. It mainly focuses on Olivia agonizing over her attraction to David, and having a multitude of minor arguments with her husband. It wasn’t until about halfway through that something kind of exciting happens regarding a gang case her husband was involved with, but unfortunately it never really comes full circle and is left totally unfinished. I think the goal here in drawing out Olivia’s contemplation of pursuing a physical relationship with David was for us to almost sympathize with the fact that she didn’t rush into this affair lightly. However, if anything that made me dislike this character even more, as it showed that she not only knew exactly what she was doing by the time sex came into the picture with David, but in all that time she never really tried to have a conversation with her husband about it. Seek out counseling. Nothing. Sure, none of us are perfect, but I found it exceedingly difficult to respect Olivia as an adult.

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Gimme an “A” for Adultery!

We have a married woman here people! Now look, I get it, sometimes you’re already in a relationship when somebody else catches your eye. It happens. But! There were some serious issues here with how the entire situation was handled. Firstly, Olivia attempts to place a large portion of the blame on David without taking any responsibility for her own actions. We all know the saying, it takes two to tango. For example, at one point she judgingly berates David’s pursuit of her by saying that, “he’s a willing participant in destroying a marriage”. Dude, so are you!

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You didn’t exactly try to stay away. Hell, when he asks her to dinner she naively tells herself that the only reason she accepts his invitation is to tell him to stop flirting with her; stop pursuing her because she’s a married woman and she doesn’t want anything to do with him. Or…you know…you could just not go out to dinner with him? Such a simple idea, I know. Let’s put it this way, Olivia knew exactly what she was doing in continuing her communication with David. She can’t really be surprised he continued his flirting with her, when she had no problem reciprocating his flirtatious behavior.

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Far From a Saint

Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that David is some innocent little bunny. Although his words may have said he didn’t go after another man’s woman, his actions certainly said differently. David had no problem pursuing her in the beginning, in spite of her numerous protests. What really pissed me off when it came to David though is that right when Olivia started to come around, and seemed to entertain the idea of something physical happening between them, that’s when David chose to withdraw and give her the cold shoulder. This of course results in Olivia obsessing over the situation even more, wondering why he pushed her away and didn’t want anything to do with her anymore. There was just so much back and forth with them playing this game I couldn’t handle it.

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His most egregious mistake though came at the very very end when Olivia and David FINALLY have sex. Not that I was rooting for them or anything, but after a while it was just like, jeez get on with it already. So Olivia and David find themselves alone in his apartment, with David pushing her up against a wall. He proceeds to capture both her wrists behind her back in his hand, and an intense make out session begins. But then reality sinks in and Olivia tells him to stop and that she wants to leave. Instead he grips her harder and says if she wants to get away she should get away. She pulls and thrashes before finally succumbing to lust and indulges in releasing all this built up sexual tension. Sorry folks, no means no, don’t try to convince a married woman (or any woman for that matter) she actually wants it. Just…no.

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The Third Side of the Triangle

And this brings us to the one missing piece of our adulterous discussion here: Olivia’s husband, Bill. At the beginning of the novel they seem quite happily married, but once David enters the picture and the sexual pheromones start flying, Bill suddenly starts to have his annoying moments. Let’s face it, the author has to show a dark side to Bill in order for us to even entertain the idea of Olivia having an affair with another man. But here’s my problem with the execution of it. Most of these arguments that Olivia and Bill start to have surrounding their marriage seemingly come out of left field.

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Not that we know much about Bill’s character to begin with, especially considering he’s pretty absent from the last half of the novel, but I still couldn’t help but feel that his sudden pissy attitude and pressuring of Olivia about various aspects of their lives together seemed pretty out of character for him. Why did he so suddenly go from being a supportive and understanding spouse at the start to a dick who refuses to listen to his wife by the end of it? Does he suspect Olivia might be considering some naked alone time with another man? It so, it needed to be incorporated more into the story.

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So we can sort of see how the author attempts to use Bill’s suddenly less than stellar presence as a reason to drive Olivia into considering an affair. Again though, here’s the problem with the execution of this. When one of Olivia’s friends discovers her attraction to David she asks if she and Bill are really that unhappy, Olivia responds: “I’m happy with Bill. It has nothing to do with him”. Well then, what the hell is going on here?!?!?!?! If she is happy in her relationship with Bill, then her attraction to David must therefore be purely sexual. Once she and David eventually have sex she even comments how David is the only man who has ever succeeded in giving her an orgasm. So she’s either lying to herself about her happiness with her husband, or she chose to give up that happiness for a decent roll in the sack. Either way, how exactly am I supposed to like this character?

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Series: The Cityscape, book 1. I can’t see myself continuing with this one.

Should you read it? I found it really hard to connect with any of the characters in this novel on a personal level, which in turn makes it almost impossible to ever enjoy the book as a whole. I think there were some interesting emotional components of Olivia’s character, but for some reason the author chose to keep these details a secret from us as the audience, instead having a big reveal towards the end of the novel. I think this was meant to be an “ohhhhh, that’s what that was about” moment, but I just thought, “yeah, that’s what I figured. Still would’ve been nice to know about 15 chapters ago”. It also seemed that the main draw for Olivia to David was physical, in which case this affair is nothing to celebrate.

Smut Level: There really isn’t anything spectacular until David and Olivia come together at the 90% point of the novel. At which point, good God they go all out. And in. And out. You get the idea.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Kinshaw Press. 366 Pages.