Shooter by Dahlia West

This book definitely proved one of life’s most common sayings: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

What’s it About? 

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Chris “Shooter” Sullivan has returned to his home town of Rapid City, South Dakota to pick up the pieces of his life shattered by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He only wants to focus on holding what’s left of his old unit together, running his garage where he builds custom bikes and cars, and pretending that his murdered father’s motorcycle gang doesn’t exist. Hayley Turner is a young woman with her own traumatic past. Fresh off the bus from Nowhere, USA, all she wants is a job and a place to live, until it’s time for her to leave again. She doesn’t want to make friends, or enemies, least of all the ex-Army Ranger who obviously doesn’t like her. She bristles under his watchful eye. He’s even got her convinced she’s bad news. But circumstances force two people who don’t need anyone to need each other more and more. The more Chris gets to know Hayley, the harder it is to stay detached. And the more Hayley gets to know Chris, the more she realizes she’s been alone for so long she might never recover from it.

First Impressions

I seriously wanted this book to have a recipe section!! Consider this a friendly warning, don’t read this book on an empty stomach. You’ll definitely want some appetizers or cookies on hand to ensure you don’t salivate whilst reading it. We’ve got descriptions of succulent ribs, decadent chocolate cake, flaming baked Alaska and sweet peach cobbler.

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Upon first meeting, Chris is understandably wary of Hayley. She’s new to town, and he can easily tell she’s hiding details about herself and her troubled past. Hayley isn’t necessarily looking for friends when she arrives in Rapid City, but she doesn’t want Chris and his Army buddies to be suspicious of her either. So let the cooking begin! I will say after a while it did seem a bit over the top, what with Chris and his boys playing poker as Hayley is cooking away in the kitchen. Or this pack of alpha males working on bikes and Hayley bringing them all some home cooked lunches as they refer to her as “honey” or “darlin'”. It was nice at first, but after a while it became almost too Donna Reed for me.

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A Slowly Built Inferno

I really did enjoy the development of a friendship between Hayley and Chris, as well as with his other Army buddies. Having a friendship first means it does take a while before they enter into a sexual relationship. You definitely have to wait until after the half-way point before you get any juicy details. However, I think I preferred this scenario to them rushing into anything too quickly, especially considering Hayley’s own traumatic past. This is the first relationship Hayley has been in since going on the run five years ago.

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She’s kept her past a secret from everyone, including Chris, and we as the readers don’t discover what happened until the rest of the characters do pretty late into the story. At first, Hayley and Chris are strictly friends, but eventually they realize it’s time to take things to the next level. She’s hesitant considering how long she’s been on the run, but Chris convinces her he’ll protect her from any evil, and it’s finally time to stop running and take a chance. They start things off slowly with some kissing, rubbing, zero penetration whatsoever. But it doesn’t take long before he’s going full on dirty talk and demanding she sit on his face. Ohhh boy!

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The Life of a Biker

For the most part I liked Chris. He’s nice to Hayley, doesn’t push her to do anything before she’s ready, vows to protect her from her past, and even gets her a kitten for crying out loud! Something I didn’t appreciate though was when we ultimately discover he’s got a strained relationship with a neighboring biker gang, and that all of Hayley’s actions now reflect on him. If she makes a supposed mistake he could be the one to pay for it. Probably would have been something o share with her when you were convincing her to take a chance on you there buddy!! Then there’s a dramatic plot point with this motorcycle gang that didn’t really come full circle, and sort of fell flat for me.

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Series: Burnout, book 1. I did really enjoy the introduction of each of Chris’s Army Ranger buddies, and am excited to see each one’s eventual story.

Should you read it? It’s a sweet romance that has a strong foundation of friendship. There’s an intense climax at the end where Hayley’s past comes back to interfere with her present. I do think it could have been shortened slightly so that we not only get to the lovemaking earlier on, but also the drama of her past. Perhaps one less scene involving a mouthwatering culinary creation would have been conducive to the overall story.

Smut Level: Daaaaaamn. You have to wait about 60% until anything physical happens, but Chris has got a mouth on him, and he’s more than willing to show Hayley everything she’s been missing out on the last few years.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 472 Pages.

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Beta by Jasinda Wilder

Book 1 in this series featured a budding relationship between an alpha male and a reserved female exploring non-vanilla sex for the first time. This second book completely switches gears into something like a Jason Bourne movie. Such a stark and jarring contrast!

What’s it About? 

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Roth and I are on an open-ended tour of the world. Roth being Roth, this means missionary in Morocco, reverse cowgirl in Calcutta, bent over the bow of a houseboat in Hanoi, slow and sleepy on St. John. Anywhere and everywhere, in every conceivable position, and some I didn’t know were possible. Life was pretty incredible. Until I woke up in his chateau in France, alone. On the bed next to me was a note. There were only four words: He belongs to me. ***This book contains sexual scenes and situations that may make some readers uncomfortable.***

First Impressions

Now, full disclosure here people, normally when I include the synopses of books I feature on this here blog of mine, I tend to cut out the little disclaimer that is often found at the bottom which basically says “Warning: Sex Ahead”. Let’s face it people, we all know that sex is mostly likely involved in every novel I choose to review. Heck, sometimes I’ll complain if there’s a lack of it. However, I usually always leave the disclaimer in if rape is involved, and when it came to this novel I just couldn’t remove it. There are a lot of scenes of male rape and torture that seemingly go on forever. From water boarding to a Viagra pill from hell, consider yourself warned that this novel is uncomfortably graphic. Additionally, I think that the characters almost try to minimize the trauma of this extended rape scenario seeing as we are dealing with a male victim who was being abused by a female.

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If You Have an Erection Lasting Longer than Four Hours…

This second novel initially starts off with a lot of boozing and f*cking. At the end of the first chapter though we discover that not all is right in paradise, as Roth has been abducted by an unknown kidnapper. As Kyrie explores their French villa in search of him she reminisces on all of the different places throughout the house that they’ve had sex, and in all of the different ways. Come on now woman, focus!! There are more important things for you to focus your attention on right now.

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We eventually discover that Roth’s ex-girlfriend, Gina, from 10 years ago is behind the kidnapping, and she wants to use his body sexually before killing him. Ummm, I’m sorry but what’s the motivation here? Why did she wait so long before eventually going after him? Why now? Surely there are easier ways to get good sex than having to drug, kidnap, rape and abuse your ex? We come to learn that even back in the day when they were a couple Gina used to abuse Roth sexually, and use sex as a weapon to get him to do her bidding. After getting her hands on him yet again she proceeds to tie him down, and drug him with what is basically an advanced version of Viagra that turns Roth into a sex-crazed maniac. The scenes that follow are utterly disturbing in how graphic they are.

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Kyrie to the Rescue! And then Roth! With Harris Tagging Along!

Rather than getting the police involved, Kyrie and Roth’s butler/chauffeur, Harris, decide to infiltrate Gina’s fortress to rescue Roth on their own. I have to say, it was ridiculous how useless Gina’s henchmen were. We basically have the equivalent of Star Wars storm troopers with absolutely zero aim. Not only are Kyrie and Harris successful in breaking into the fortress and retrieving Roth, but when Gina eventually kidnaps Kyrie as revenge she is also rescued rather easily due to the sub-par guarding skills of these hired guns. Seriously, someone needs to invest in a security system update.

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Facing Your Fears

One of my main issues with this novel was what happened when Roth was first rescued. He is understandably extremely hesitant to engage in any sexual activity with Kyrie. The guy was literally just sexually tortured and raped for days on end after ingesting what can best be described as the Energizer Bunny’s nightmare version of Viagra. He’s simply not ready to do anything physical with Kyrie. However, it’s decided pretty quickly that the only way he could possibly get over this trauma is to just face his fears and start screwing like a wild animal.

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I’m sorry, but I just can’t get on board with this. Kyrie and Roth barely talk at all about what he just went through at the hands of Gina, and don’t seek out any external help either. If ever there was a need for a therapy session or two, now would be a good time! Roth has barely had any time to recover (we’re talking like a day or two here), and now he’s being pressured into having sex when he openly admits it’s not the right time. It doesn’t seem like the best way to get over an emotional sexual trauma, and I feel like it also demonstrates how their relationship is purely sexual if that’s their way only to connect after a kidnapping. And oh yeah, Gina is still after them!! Maybe they should take a break from their continual orgasm-fest to form a plan on how they’re going to permanently escape from this crazy psycho who’s chasing them.

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Final Considerations

There were two other aspects to this novel that weren’t my cup of tea. Firstly, the narration. I listened to this as an audiobook, and I’m sorry to sound harsh or inconsiderate, but the narration was laughable. Neither the male or female narrator could voice the passion of the sexy scenes. Seeing as this book has a ridiculous amount of sex scenes and dirty talk, it was kind of a problem when both sounded like robots reading from the phone book. The accents between the characters were also totally off. The male narrator makes Gina sound Greek, whereas the female reader made her sound slightly British. It was the little details like that which interrupted the flow of the novel.

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Another aspect of this novel I didn’t particularly care for was the financial one. Roth has a seemingly endless amount of money. Even when he and Kyrie are on the run at the end of the novel to escape the wrath of Gina’s father, he still seems to have pretty easy access to all of his bank accounts. Roth even buys a super yacht for them to sail away on. I’m sorry, but it just seemed almost too easy, not to mention a terrible way to cover your tracks. I think if Mr. Billionaire Valentine Roth suddenly found himself on the run with a lack of money it would have added another layer of suspense to the tale.

Series: Alpha, book 2. Honestly, not really looking forward to the third book in this trilogy, but I’m sure I’ll get around to finishing it at some point.

Should you read it? I was already kind of on the fence with book 1, and this second book just rubbed me the wrong way in so many different places. I couldn’t help but feel that the issue of rape was resolved almost too quickly with very little time for Roth to heal. Again, it sort of came across as though because he’s an alpha male he should just push past it and jump into the deep end. There was definitely a disconnect between these first two books, as this sequel feels like an action movie with a crap ton of sex thrown in. As for the motivation of our villain Gina, we never really discover why after ten years of ignoring Roth she suddenly had the desire to go to the ultimate extreme by capturing and raping him.

Smut Level: Roth and Kyrie certainly don’t need a magical Viagra drug to screw at all hours of the day and night.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 406 Pages.

Kaleb by Nicole Edwards

Rumors abound about the seven Walker brothers. They may be gentlemen, but they are far from saints. Good God and there’s seven of them?! Heaven help their mother.

What’s it About? 

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Zoey Stranford might’ve had a crush on the sexy boy next door since middle school, but she’s a woman now, and that crush has turned into a full blown case of lust. So why is it that at twenty nine, her libido decides to ramp into high gear and the only thing she can focus on is the intensely sexy, scorching hot boy next door who is definitely not a boy anymore? The only problem is that Zoey and Kaleb have been best friends for as long as she can remember. Not to mention, Kaleb and his brothers are working on buying Stranford land to build a new resort, and she’s more than a little hesitant about his intentions.

Kaleb Walker has had his eye on Zoey for close to twenty years, but never before has he considered taking their friendship to the next level, no matter how many fantasies he’s had about her over the years. That doesn’t explain why Kaleb is hell bent on having her – in as many ways as possible.

Kaleb finds himself in a precarious situation. His brothers have nominated him to pursue Zoey’s father about purchasing the land needed to get their new resort off the ground. Finding out that Carl Stranford is on the brink of foreclosure and Zoey might just lose her house and the land, Kaleb now has to convince her to put aside her pride and let him help her. It doesn’t take long before the flames start burning bright and hot, and the two of them burn up the nights and the days as they explore each other’s forbidden fantasies. But can their friendship survive a business transaction or the new friends with benefits clause? Or will they realize that they’ve been overlooking something much deeper that’s been right in front of them all along?

First Impressions

Kaleb and Zoey have been neighbors for years, and he’s been lusting after her since they were just a couple of horny teenagers. The synopsis tries to imply that it’s only because he’s trying to convince Zoey to sell her family’s land that they suddenly get closer in the physical sense. However, that’s not really true. If anything it seems like after being friends for so long they’ve had enough with putting things off, and kind of fall right into being romantically involved. There’s really no awkwardness at trying to navigate a physical relationship. They simply get down and dirty with it, including their flirtatiousness. And hell, why not add another guy into the mix as well?!

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Secrets and Sensuality

Zoey admits to Kaleb pretty early on in their newfound relationship that it’s been a fantasy of hers to be the filling of a Walker brother sandwich. Seeing as the Walker brothers are known about town for sharing their women at the same time, Zoey’s biggest conundrum is what other Walker brother she’d want to have a threesome with. Not gonna lie, I did find it rather strange that considering how long Zoey has been lusting after Kaleb she’d be willing to toy with the idea of allowing another one in there. Meh, what do I know about the emotional or physical logistics of a threesome. I’ve always said it seems like too many limbs jumbled together!

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As for Kaleb, he’s been waiting for so long to take Zoey to bed, and has even been dreaming about sharing Zoey with one of his brothers for a long time. Talk about being close with family to an uncomfortable degree! Kaleb mistakenly assumes that Zoey will have an innocent vanilla approach to sex, but when he discovers her secret desires he’s almost afraid of pushing her too far with his own desires. However, it doesn’t take long before he overcomes those insecurities, and brings their dreams of a threesome to a reality. Rather than sharing her with a blood relative though, Kaleb decides to bring his best friend to the party. Kaleb is excited to bring Zoey to the ultimate pleasure, yet experiences an unexpected mixture of possessiveness and lust when his best friend strokes Zoey’s thigh. Now that he finally has Zoey, will he be able to share her with someone else? Um, yeah. Multiple times.

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Threesomes and Land Purchases

I’ve read a few erotic novels featuring threesomes before, and this one definitely took a unique approach to the horizontal conga line. I feel like normally when it comes to threesomes we either see a couple experimenting with it once as a way to mix things up in the bedroom, or you have three people who all fall in love with each other and decide to become romantically involved forever and ever. In this novel however, there were a surprising number of threesome scenes involving Zoey, Kaleb, and his best friend Gage. Zoey clearly understands that Gage is only there for the pleasure aspect, and her true feelings of lovey doveyness are for Kaleb alone. She’s just intrigued with the idea of exploring her sexuality after the disastrous end to her marriage, and apparently that involves more than one foray into the world of threesomes.

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The other aspect of the novel which surprised me was that there’s really no attention focused on this club that Kaleb and his brothers are opening. The majority of the story involving the club deals with the land purchase from Zoey’s father. I guess I just assumed this club would be constructed and fully opened by the end of the novel, but that’s not the case. Looks like this might drag out to encompass the other novels in the series as well. I do feel the club’s concept deserved more attention and discussion, especially when Zoey discovers they are planning to open a sex club. Seems like it’d be a main topic of conversations, but nooooope. Moving along.

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Series: Alluring Indulgence, book 1. I won’t rush to read the next book in this series, but I won’t delete it from my TBR list just yet.

Should you read it? This novel was definitely more about sex than story. It’s mainly just about Zoey exploring her sexuality. Don’t get me wrong, that’s good and all, but it simply doesn’t make for a very engaging read. There isn’t much drama at all involving our multitude of characters, including all the Walker brothers, and when there was drama it seemed pretty unnecessary. Overall, a lack of really any kind of depth to the story.

Smut Level: With a threesome here, and a threesome there. Here a threesome, there a threesome, everywhere a threesome.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Pocket Star Publishing. 342 Pages.

The Red by Tiffany Reisz

I feel like we all need to take a moment to admire the ethereal beauty of the cover art. Just look at it! Gorgeous!! As for the book itself, well…let’s just dive right in, shall we?

What’s it About?

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Mona Lisa St. James made a deathbed promise that she would do anything to save her mother’s art gallery. Unfortunately, not only is The Red painted red, but it’s in the red. She soon realizes she has no choice but to sell it. Just as she realizes she has no choice but to sell it, a mysterious man comes in after closing time and makes her an offer: He will save The Red if she agrees to submit to him for the period of one year. The man is handsome, English, and terribly tempting…but surely her mother didn’t mean for Mona to sell herself to a stranger. Then again, she did promise to do anything to save The Red…

First Impressions

This was my first ever Tiffany Reisz novel, and my first impression was pretty immediate: I am waaaaay out of my element. Having never read a Reisz novel before I didn’t really know what to expect. If you’re a fan of her style of storytelling, I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy this one. Personally, I found it rather hard to review. On the one hand the writing is downright exquisite. You can’t deny that fact. The scenes are outlined in such particular detail you feel like you’re right there in the room with the characters. On the other hand I really didn’t want to be in that room. The sex scenes were excessively graphic and raw to the point where I just couldn’t enjoy them. This is the kind of book which intentionally tries to make you question your preconceived notions of pleasure and sex, like a psychological mind game. For me, it was done to excess, and I was uncomfortable reading it for the majority of the time.

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A Deal with the Devil

While our mystery man might not be the actual devil, we get the sense pretty early on that there’s something different about him in the paranormal sense. Malcolm comes upon our heroine when she is at her lowest: half a million in debt and on the brink of losing her mother’s beloved art gallery. He offers to give Mona one million dollars if she gives him carte blanche over her body for one night every 2-3 months for a year. If she agrees, he’ll provide her with a priceless work of art after each and every tumble. Well…that’s a new kind of sexual deal I’ve never come across before.

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You gotta give it to this guy, he doesn’t f*ck around. Malcolm couldn’t be more blunt when outlining this arrangement with her. There are no flowery words of love, and he acknowledges right off the bat that he’s treating her like a whore. Literally. “I think you’ll make a fine whore” is a direct quote. Interestingly enough, his continual label of her as “whore” eventually comes across as a pet name rather than an insult. Malcolm admits he just wants to f*ck her, and has no interest in love or marriage. I guess you kind of have to appreciate he’s being upfront and not trying to manipulate her?

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The whole thing is sort of conducted like a business deal, and is the first introduction of some interesting examples of juxtaposition throughout the book. This man gives off a dignified air when discussing something so overtly sexual. They carry out their sexual contract in a seemingly pretentious art gallery, yet are surrounded by erotic art as they indulge in excessively carnal and scandalous acts. Mona acknowledges how weird it is for him to just jump right in with his head between her thighs without any wining and dining beforehand. Malcolm is thoroughly using her body, yet she states multiple times how much she enjoys being used by him. Sooo…yay for it being consensual?

A Lesson in Art

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Nymphs and Satyr by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

I will say, while this book wasn’t my cup of tea there was one feature that I really did enjoy, and that was the art aspect. Before each coupling, Malcolm would provide Mona with the title of a piece of art that would come to represent the theme for the evening. This is when the paranormal aspect of Malcolm’s persona really comes to the forefront, as he is able to transform the back of Mona’s art gallery into any setting, from an elaborate maze to a secluded clearing in a fairy tale forest. Every chapter is entitled with the name of the artwork, and it was kind of fun to look them all up on Google before proceeding with the chapter. Definitely something I would recommend to all readers who take this one on!

 

Out of My Wheelhouse

I had trouble wrapping my head around several elements of this novel. The first was Malcolm’s literal treatment of Mona like a whore. What I found so bizarre though was that he didn’t look down on her for selling herself, and she too seemed to enjoy it. He admits, “I have trouble respecting a woman who gives away for free what she could sell for good money.” Well, doesn’t this just make you question everything you were taught growing up? It’s kind of freaky how much a smooth talker this guy is, where you start to think, “Wait, am I…am I supposed to think he’s right?” You start to realize that he doesn’t just want to f*ck her, he wants to f*ck with her by playing mind games of what’s real and what’s fantasy.

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Dora and the Minotaur by Pablo Picasso

There were two scenes in this book which stood out to me, mainly because they were the ones which confused me the most. The first was the enactment of The Slave Market painting. In addition to Malcolm, four other men come to Mona’s gallery to poke and prod her, suck her, examine her breasts, mouth and nether region. She mentions how she’s humiliated, she hates it, she wants to cry. And yet…she also loves it. She doesn’t understand it. I don’t understand it! Let’s move on.

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The Slave Market by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Then towards the end of the novel we have a rather demented version of 99 bottles of beer on the wall. Instead, it’s smacks of Malcolm’s riding crop. Mona gets 100 strikes of his cock for 100 strikes of his crop. Malcolm whispers words of encouragement and adoration throughout this scene to the point where Mona loves him and his kindness, while also curling up in the fetal position and crying tears from the pain. After every strike of the crop he would kiss her, which made her eventually see every strike as a loving kiss itself. Now…that’s a psychological mind game right there! Personally, I couldn’t help but see it as a disturbing window into abuse.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? If you enjoy the work of Tiffany Reisz I would say give it a go. I did enjoy the artistic element of the novel, it has some interesting twists, and the writing itself was spectacular. This book is seemingly all about the heroine discovering herself, and I guess for me it made me discover that for a genre of novel like this I am a total prude when it comes to sex! The sex scenes presented were simply too over the top hardcore for me (which is definitely saying something!), and therefore made it a rather uncomfortable read.

Smut Level: Malcolm penetrates Mona with a glass water bottle. I’ll never be able to look at another bottle of Perrier the same way ever again.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. 8th Circle Press. 250 Pages.

Dark Instincts by Suzanne Wright

Goodness gracious golly gee, this book definitely starts off with a bang! Nothing like an attempted kidnapping and an overturned car to get your juices flowing.

What’s it About? 

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It happens whenever wolf shifter Roni Axton is near Marcus Fuller: a crackle of sexual awareness that’s intoxicating…and deeply annoying. Marcus is a pack enforcer who oozes power, but Roni is lethal in her own right—nothing like the flirty females who flock around him. Even still, his possessive gaze makes one thing clear. Marcus has singled her out for seduction, and he wants to make her sit up and beg.

No matter how aloof and unfazed Roni acts, Marcus can tell she wants him. When a brutal attack by a jackal pack forces them to work together, it’s the perfect opportunity for Marcus to chip away at her defenses—until he falls into his own trap, completely unprepared for the intensity of their connection. Roni is the only one who’s ever seen past his shifter charm and discovered the man hiding beneath it. And for Marcus, claiming Roni once will mean needing her forever.

First Impressions

I’m now four books into this Phoenix Pack series, and I’m starting to notice that each novel follows a very particular arch from start to finish. At the start we are always presented with some kind of interesting conflict or suspense, and this novel in particular had probably the most dramatic opening scene of any book in the series so far. Roni is trapped in an overturned car, and is desperately struggling to fight off a pack of jackal shifters from kidnapping the child of the alpha and beta of the Phoenix Pack. Nail biting start that draws you in, guaranteed.

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Then things slow down a bit story wise as we have a male and female lead who start to explore their sexual attraction for one another. They are undoubtedly mates, even if they can’t admit it to themselves yet. Fast forward through all the sexy times, and in the last 10% of each novel we always see the resurgence of our main conflict point, which is resolved in a fabulous display of pack strength. Voilà. There you go. Not gonna lie, this was probably the most disappointing book in the series so far for me, as it followed this arch to the letter, with very little deviation. Quite predictable.

Pack Combos and Ignored Villains

This novel has character overload! Not only do we have our two main leads, but we also have the mates from the previous three novels of the series, the blending of both the Phoenix and Mercury packs, human extremists and jackal shifters. It was honestly very difficult to keep them all straight, as well as understand the dynamics between all the pairs. This novel started off so strong, but then unfortunately just tapered off into nothing. Look, I get we have a romance novel here, and we need to focus on the development of Roni and Marcus’ relationship. However, to have such an intense start with a dramatic kidnapping attempt, and then switch to basically no mention of it for a large portion of the book was a total let down.

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Especially considering I was really excited to see that we were dealing with jackals. I was hoping to learn more about a different species within the series, but it’s not really touched upon all that much. As is a theme with most of the books in this series, we never really get to know our villain either. We are just aware that they’re lurking in the background plotting dastardly deeds, but there’s no real character introduction before the villain ultimately reappears for one final battle. Having more than just a surface level look at the enemy could really enhance the sense of struggle throughout the entire series.

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From Bad-ass to Damsel

The biggest disappointment for me in regards to this novel was the ending, and the stagnation of Roni’s womanly independence. Throughout this book, and even in the last book for that matter, Roni is portrayed as the ultimate bad-ass. She is a dominant female who can stand up for herself, sucking on a lollipop the whole time. Roni acknowledges that it’s ok if she’s dominated in the bedroom, but the girl knows how to give as good as she gets. She was actually the one to mark Marcus first, but Roni manages to distinguish very early on in their relationship the difference between possession and control. While she’s fine with Marcus doing the former in bed, she won’t stand if he does the latter in their day to day life.

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Fast forward to the end of the novel, where everything has been building up to one final confrontation between Roni and our jackal leader villain. Warning: spoilers ahead. I’m telling you guys, I was totally pumped for this ultimate showdown. Unleash the girl power Roni, and kick his ass to the curb!! Unfortunately, when push comes to shove we find that she actually can’t do it by herself. Marcus has to come along and rescue her. Now, I totally would have been ok with this if they had done like, a back-to-back teamwork fight off of jackals, but that’s not the case here. Roni is literally lying on the floor dying, and Marcus has to come and finish the job for her. Where she failed in her confrontation with evil, Marcus succeeds and saves the day. While this might be a victory for our Phoenix pack, I was really keeping my fingers crossed that Roni could have been the hero in the end.

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Series: Phoenix Pack, book 4.

Should you read it? I just wasn’t impressed with this one. It felt like the focus wasn’t always on Marcus and Roni, as there were all the other characters from the previous novels making an appearance. In the end though, the disjointed mix of suspense and romantic story lines was the main factor of why this book didn’t do it for me like the others.

Smut Level: We’re dealing with wolf shifters here. Undoubtedly we’ll deal with some animalistic urges and…mounting.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 322 Pages.

Until Ashlyn by Aurora Rose Reynolds

You know the old adage that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?” I think we can all agree that it never holds true in romance novel land. That shit always follows you home.

What’s it About?

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Dillon Keck knew Ashlyn Mayson was drunk when she suggested they get married. He knew he should have taken her back to their hotel room and put her to bed. Instead, he did what he had been craving to do since the moment they met. Claim her as his.

Waking up married in Vegas isn’t something Ashlyn Mayson ever thought would happen to her. Having Dillon, her boss, a man she thinks is a dick, insist they stay married is absurd, but every time he touches her, she gets lost in him and wonders if maybe they are meant to be together. But someone isn’t happy for Dillon and Ashlyn and their new found romance, and they’re willing to do anything to keep them apart. Even commit murder.

First Impressions

Alright, when it comes to full on first impression of Dillon, it’s not too hard to come up with a description of his character: the dude is basically a dick. He has taken over the dental practice where Ashlyn works, and upon first meeting he states that he’ll need to re-interview her to ensure she has the necessary skills, as he doesn’t just need a pretty thing to look at every day. Well f*ck you very much your majesty. Sure, meet with her a few times to double check she meets your standards, but don’t imply that just because she’s pretty she can’t be skilled and useful. We do eventually learn that this was his particular take on a classic schoolyard tactic to hide how he really felt about her by acting douchey, but it still doesn’t leave a very good first impression. Strike one against you sir!

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Unicorns Left and Right

One feature of this novel which was pretty unique is the fact that when Dillon and Ashlyn finally do the dirty in that Vegas hotel room, it’s revealed that this was actually the first time either of them had had sex. Unfortunately, there’s no real discussion between them about how special this is! Dillon does express that he had never closed the deal with another woman beforehand because it never felt right, but come on! The rarity in this day and age of having two grown adults remain virgins for so long deserved some more attention! There’s another adage out there which compares women who haven’t had sex by a certain age to unicorns, in that they are basically mythological creatures. In this case, we have both a male and female unicorn! I think this feature really deserved a discussion, but instead was kind of glossed over in a one off comment from Dillon.

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From Rom Com to Horror Film

The start of this novel truly reads like a romantic comedy; pretty silly and light-hearted. We have two co-workers who hate each other, yet have some underlying sexual tension, so they get drunk and married in Vegas. Because we’re dealing with a novel in the Until series world, we of course have an uber alpha male who refuses to let Ashlyn get away. She too also has an inherent sense of possessiveness when it comes to Dillon. At one point his crazy bitch of an ex tries to weasel her way into the picture, and Ashlyn kind of goes off on her after a fair amount of goading. While Ashlyn didn’t like the jealous person she became in that moment, Dillon was totally into it, as it showed she was just as in love with him as he was with her.

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Awwww, isn’t that just the cutest?! Well, flash-forward a bit and things start to take a turn for the bizarre. Someone tries to run Ashlyn down with their car, and two women in this small Tennessee town are found murdered. Suspense. Intrigue! Well, we’re gonna put that on hold for another large section of the book for some more lovey dovey stuff and familial interactions. Until the last 10% of the book of course when it pretty much turns into a full on horror film. I’m talking kidnapping, stabbing, some more murdering. To introduce and resolve all of that murder mystery within the final 10% of the book was just too rushed. Although an interesting plot twist, it was kind of jarring to go from what felt like an Ashton Kutcher rom com to Saw in such a short amount of time. Ok, so Saw is definitely too out there of a comparison, but you catch my drift. I also don’t watch horror films, so my repertoire is lacking.

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Series: Until Her, book 3. Personally, I would recommend reading these in order. Although each novel focuses on a different stand-alone couple, there are certain reappearing characters and themes that would be helpful to know from the beginning.

Should you read it? All in all, a good addition to the Until Her series. That being said, while I found the suspenseful murder aspect of the novel to be totally enthralling, it definitely could have been integrated better into the overall story line.

Smut Level: Something must be in the water in this small Tennessee town which causes “alpha male syndrome”.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 225 Pages.

 

 

Knight by Kristen Ashley

Knight? Well, that’s definitely a…unique name for a human being. Talk about pressure! Certainly a name you’ve gotta live up to.

What’s it About? 

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Anya Gage has learned that to get anything good in life, you have to work for it. She has no expectations, no dreams. Then she finds herself at a party where she doesn’t want to be and she meets Knight. Knight Sebring knows who he is, what he wants and what he likes. And he gets it. But he never expected something as sweet as Anya Gage to wander into his bedroom during a party he did not expect to be having to borrow his phone.

Knight tries to leave Anya to the life she deserves of white picket fences and a man who watches football on Sundays – good, normal and clean. But when Anya comes to his nightclub and finds herself in a situation, he knows someone has to look after her, he can’t fight it anymore and he decides that man will be him. Knight teaches Anya that, just as with the bad, in life you should also expect the good. And he teaches her this by giving it to her. But Knight has a dark past and just as he desires Anya for exactly who she is, he fears when she finds out exactly the man he has become and always intends to be, she’ll leave him for good, normal and clean.

First Impressions

I will say I did enjoy how this novel started off. I think we can all relate to being at a party at some point in our lives that we simply wanted to escape from. This is how our story opens; with Anya feeling totally out of place surrounded by such splendor in her knock-off shoes and out of season clothing. Luckily for her, she ends up meeting a sexy man who is prepared to take her to pleasure town. With a layover in orgasm city. Unluckily for her, said man also happens to scare the dickens out of her.

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Fear and Control

Anya repeatedly acknowledges throughout the novel that Knight scares her. He’s intense, overbearing and controlling. She honestly doesn’t know what he’ll do if she disappoints him, or doesn’t follow his directions. When she admits her fears to her friends, what do they do? They repeatedly tell her to just “forget the scary.” That…seems like dangerous advice to follow when fearful of an overbearing guy you just met.

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Anya tries to convince herself that since meeting Knight he’s only made her life better. While I do think that he’s made her feel more confident in her own skin by constantly saying how beautiful she is, she never lists this as one of his influences. Every single reason she gives for the impact he’s made in her life relates to material possessions. If we were to take all that away, I think Anya would just be left with an uber controlling guy who scares her. And yeah, sure, gives her lots of orgasms.

A D/S Daddy

I’ve been reading romance and erotic novels almost exclusively for about 3-4 years now. I’ve read a lot of novels in that amount of time which have featured dominant/submissive relationships, and I’ll admit I’m finally just now starting to fully understand what they’re all about. Took long enough! As Anya’s close friend comments, “that’s bedroom, not in life.” For her in particular, she leads a very stressful life where she’s the one in charge and making all the decisions. By giving up control in the bedroom, she’s able to let go, relax and let someone else make the decisions for once. I can sort of see how such a relationship could be freeing. When it comes to Anya and Knight though, it seems his controlling ways do expand beyond the bedroom. He even says “Unless I tell you what to do or not to do, do whatever you wanna do.” Umm…that’s not really what I consider to be the definition of freedom there buddy.

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So I might just now be understanding of how some women could get into the whole d/s relationship without it being considered misogynistic. I’m learning here. Something I still don’t for the life of me understand the appeal of though is calling your lover “daddy”. Like…no. Not the time or place I want to make reference to dear ole dad. I mean, I feel like it doesn’t go both ways, which simply isn’t fair, right? I’ve never read an erotic novel where the guy calls his girlfriend “mommy” as she spanks his ass. I just don’t get it!! Can someone out there explain the appeal of calling your lover daddy? Seriously, I’d really love to get a discussion going.

Series: Unfinished Heroes, book 1.

Should you read it? The writing was just ok. Pretty basic descriptions were used, with “very” as the descriptor of choice. Very expensive, very tall, very pretty. By the end I thought if Anya said “Oh God” or “Oh my God” one more time I was gonna scream. About 145 times actually. When it comes down to it, repeatedly using the term “daddy” is a sure-fire way to kill my mood. Also, you shouldn’t be afraid of your significant other! She never really communicates her fears or misgivings to Knight, so he has no way to address/resolve them.

Smut Level: He sure does like to use the “c” word in reference to her…lady bits.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 285 Pages.