The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

At one point in this novel a character mentions that in regards to BDSM “everyone should experience it at least once”. Ummm…no thanks, I’m good.

What’s it About?

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Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she’s sure it’ll be her breakout book…if it ever sees the light of day.

Zachary Easton holds Nora’s fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it’s no deal.

Nora’s grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining…and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him…or returning to his bed?

Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.

First Impression

Our story opens with two posh editors debating the prospect of bringing an author of ‘smut’ into their company, whilst also discussing the superiority of Hamlet and poetry. Why do I get the feeling it won’t be too long before we’re tumbling down a very deep and dark rabbit hole of depravity? I went into this book with a bit of hesitancy. I’ve only read one Tiffany Reisz novel before this one, and it was a bit outside my comfort zone in regards to BDSM. Let’s just say that at one point the female lead was…pleasured with a Perrier bottle. So yeah, I guess when I picked up this little diddy I was slightly worried with what I might encounter. However, all things considered I must say it really wasn’t that bad! Would I call it vanilla? Oh hell to the no. We do encounter some pretty graphic scenes of BDSM with whipping, candle wax, multiple orgasms, f/f sex, etc. Again though, in thinking back to that one other novel I read by the same author I suppose it was mildly tame in comparison!

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Erotica Prejudice

Personally, I felt the synopsis was slightly deceiving. Based on the description, it almost seemed as though our editor Zach would be the slightly kinky one. What with the mention of his need for control, his demanding personality, as well as his “exacting standards”. While Zach is certainly a strict editor, our female author Nora is actually the one who brings all the sexual expertise to the table. Zach always assumed he had a pretty wild sex background before he got married, what with the few times he’d had sex in a car, or in a public park. How could he have imagined that upon meeting the Ms. Nora Sutherlin, he’s basically a prude. Zach’s prudishness particularly comes to the forefront upon his initial opinions of Nora and her books. He openly discusses with his fellow editors, as well as with Nora directly, that the last thing he wants is to be involved with a writer of smut.

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The snobbery and prejudice which is expressed against her work is something that many of us romance/erotica fans have probably heard a thousand times over. Even when Nora is attacked by a crazed fan at a book signing, Zach essentially blames her, asking what she expects considering the depraved things she writes. As Zach spends more time with Nora and her book though, he realizes there is much more to this woman than meets the eye. He discovers that the intimate scenes which mix both pain and pleasure are things which Nora has personally lived through, and that she is still involved with. At first, Zach insists that he doesn’t want to know any of the explicit details regarding Nora’s past or present life involving BDSM, but he quickly becomes fascinated despite himself. As for Nora, she’s more than willing to show her hard-ass editor what it’s really like in her world.

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Welcome to the 8th Circle

For the first half or so of the book, the majority of the graphic details involving BDSM are reserved to scenes in Nora’s book. In a way, I found it sort of lessened the shock I would normally have felt when presented with such detail because it dealt with characters in a book within a book. We’re more removed from them. However, eventually Nora decides it’s time to provide Zach with a glimpse into her world by taking him to the 8th Circle, aka the sex club where she is second in command behind her former lover, who also happens to be a priest. This is when Nora’s BDSM lifestyle goes from black and white, and evolves into full technicolor. We and Zach are witnesses to a world very much unlike our own, and one which can be difficult to understand at times.

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While I can’t say I enjoyed reading about what went on in this club, I must say I appreciated the reality of Zach’s reaction to all that he saw. His responses are probably similar to those I assume most of us would have. People are getting hurt. It’s dangerous. It’s sexist. What was even more interesting though was that for every concern or question he raised, there was always someone there to provide a seemingly legitimate and reasonable explanation. People are getting hurt? Sure, people get hurt playing rugby too. Dangerous? Only if you don’t trust the person you’re with, or you forget your safe word. Sexist? Pfft. Some women in the club are more dominant than any of the men could ever dream of being. It might be difficult for most of us to understand the appeal of this world, but some of these explanations really do provide us with a window into how it might appeal to some.

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The Discovery

Eventually Zach discovers Nora is actually a very well sought-after dominatrix, and decides that his time with her and her book are over. Umm…are you really that surprised?! She basically took you to her playroom in an underground sex club. Wake up and see the riding crop on the wall already. I will say her reaction to Zach declaring her book won’t be published kind of made me giggle. When I get overwhelmed with the stresses of life and things not going my way, I might bake a cake, go to the movies, maybe crosstitch for a few hours whilst listening to an audiobook or having Friends on in the background. Nora? She goes on a dominatrix binge with clients for a few days. Well…whatever works for ya I guess! Zach equates the situation to prostitution, and at first I was all ready to come to her defense since she usually just ends up smacking her clients around for a few hours. Hell, if anything it’s like an overpriced gym membership with a personal trainer. But then she insists it’s not prostitution because she only sleeps with the women. Oh…well in that case…yeaaaah might be borderline prostitution.

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A Question of Morality

As you can see, many characters in this book like to try and explain away some morally questionable behavior. Nora’s former lover is the king of trying to bring a sense of legitimacy to everything that Zach is witnessing in this sex club from hell, but at the end of the day I feel as though there were some issues that couldn’t simply be explained away by a smooth-talking priest. First of all, he’s…a…priest! He first met Nora when he was a priest. Their entire relationship of 10 years happened when he was a priest. And he’s still a priest! He tries to brush it aside by saying that Nora is the only one he’s ever broken his vows for. Still not ok. Nora claims that this priest was the only man who never hurt her, yet she’s been put in the hospital on more than one occasion after being with him. Swollen cheek, cracked lip, bruised rib, etc. True, she’s never uttered her safe word in these scenarios, but I feel like most other BDSM novels explain how a dominant who makes his submissive bleed, bruise, or scar is doing it wrong. And yet this is almost the foundation of Nora’s relationship with her priest.

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Beyond the priest element, and the possible prostitution feature, there are several other moral issues presented in this book that sort of made me question whether or not it was an enjoyable read. At one point Nora has sex with a 15-year-old boy. Our priest again tries to justify it by saying that the boy was suicidal because he couldn’t understand why his sexual proclivities were so beyond the norm, and that Nora saved his life by showing him it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, but maybe a therapist could have told him that too. Then there’s the fact that Zach is still married to his estranged wife back in England, and while he’s more than willing to entertain the idea of having an affair with Nora he still desires to get back together with his wife. Then…maybe you should give her a call in the evening instead of having Nora give you a blow job? Oh gosh, I guess I’m the biggest prude of all in this scenario!

Series: Original Sinners, book 1. I don’t know if I can mentally prepare myself enough to take on book 2 in this series. Maybe one day, but I might need to do a shot of tequila before giving it a go.

Final Impression: I will say I did enjoy the moments where Zach and Nora worked on her book together, as it pushed the limits of Zach’s understanding of pleasure, and helped him let his guard down a bit. Once they drift away from discussing the book though I did lose some of the connection to the plot. This is when the BDSM aspect is more fully explored, and everything becomes almost too explanatory. Like a lesson in the mechanics and psychological component of BDSM rather than any emotional connection with the characters. I also felt there was a lack of focus in terms of what the novel was supposed to be highlighting. We have Nora and her priest, Nora and Zach, Zach and his wife, Nora and her 19-year-old virgin intern, Zach’s introduction to BDSM, and Nora’s book. There’s definitely a lot going on.

Smut Level: Nora and Zach have agreed to not have sex until after they are finished with her book, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do other things before then 😉

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $6.99 Kindle Price. MIRA Publishing. 428 Pages.

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Hard by Eve Jagger

Cassie will do anything she can to make sure she doesn’t lose her home to pay off her brother’s debts. Even if it means she has to spend every day working for an intimidating, sexy bastard.

What’s it About?

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Strong. Arrogant. Hard. Ryder Cole is the King of Atlanta’s nightlife — and the one man who can erase my past. I’m running from secrets that could destroy me and there’s no room in my life for someone like him: too damn cocky, and sexy as hell. I should keep my distance, but smart goes out the window the minute he looks my way. And when he puts his hands on me…? A girl could forget her own name. But what happens when the past catches up with me, and all the things I’m hiding from tear our lives apart again? I can’t keep running forever, and Ryder always wins. He’s not the kind of guy to let me go gently, Ryder will give it to me hard.

First Impression

Cassie has just moved back to the United States after leaving an abusive relationship behind in England. She’s looking to escape from the drama in her life, but instead she walks into even more drama than what she was expecting. She’s fast asleep one night when she’s jerked awake by a devilishly handsome and muscled man named Ryder who is looking for her brother, Jamie. As well as the $10,000 Jamie owes him. When Cassie discovers her brother put their house up as collateral, she finds she has no choice but to start working off her brother’s debt by managing the account books for Ryder’s business. Her goal in working for this man is to untangle both herself and her brother from Ryder, but as Cassie spends more time in his world she finds herself ensnared by his passionate stare and sexual magnetism.

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All in all, I kind of wish Cassie and Ryder had met differently. Not necessarily in regards to her brother owing Ryder a debt. That part was definitely an interesting impetus for them coming together! I just wish their first meeting hadn’t involved Ryder and his thugs kicking her door in one night looking for Jamie and his 10k. Even if Ryder did mistakenly assume he was walking in on Jamie that night instead of Cassie. I guess I found it a bit hard to believe that after being shaken awake in the middle of the night by a muscle bulging, tatted stranger, she’d be able to fall for him so quickly. I feel like I’d be shaking from shock for the better part of a year after such a rude awakening. But I treasure my sleep, so anyone who interrupts it immediately rises to the top of my enemy list. Has anyone seen my list by the way?

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She Gives as Good as She Gets

I absolutely loved the verbal chess match which plays out between these two. You never know who will put forward the most sass, and have the foresight to checkmate with just the right hint of sexual innuendo. Sometimes there is no clear winner. Ryder isn’t afraid to take what he wants when it comes to Cassie, which I understand sounds a bit…forceful, but believe me when I say Cassie is fully prepared, and desires to take everything Ryder is putting out there. What I love even more than the delightful physical element to their relationship though is when we get to see a softer side to Ryder’s character. He initially comes across as such a hard-ass bastard. The title of the book and series alone says it all!

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We are presented with this muscled, tatted, badass who is all intimidating businessman on the outside, but there’s more to this man. There’s a scene where Ryder explains to Cassie how he first got into fighting, and we discover that in spite of his tough exterior, at the heart of this man is someone who is willing to stand up for those who can’t defend themselves. He looks out for others, and cares deeply for the people in his life. It was probably my favorite scene in the whole book. While Ryder lets his shield down a bit by letting Cassie take a glimpse into his past, unfortunately we see that Cassie isn’t necessarily as forthcoming with her own past.

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Keeping Secrets, or Withholding Details

Cassie chooses to keep the abusive aspect of her previous relationship from Ryder. Let’s face it, we all know that just means it will eventually come to light anyway, and Ryder will undoubtedly be very pissed that she kept it from him. And sure enough, it happens. Now, this ultimate reveal evoked some interesting reactions for me. Normally when we come across something like this in a romance novel, I get frustrated with the lead character for keeping such a large secret from their love interest. However, in this instance I can’t say I really fault Cassie for not revealing this aspect of her life to Ryder. She just met this man. Their relationship up to this point has been primarily physical, and they haven’t really defined their relationship. It’s definitely implied they’re exclusive, but they haven’t even been out on a date yet.

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Ok, yes, ideally she would have told Ryder she was still married. But this past with her ex, Sebastian, was one that was both mentally and physically abusive. I think even Cassie is trying to sort it all out for herself. She’s taken such a big risk by leaving Sebastian behind in England, only to arrive back home to find her brother owes a massive debt. Cassie is not even at the point where she’s admitted the truth of this broken relationship to her own family, let alone to some dude she just met that she’s sleeping with. So, in this regard, I get why she didn’t divulge the details to Ryder. Yes, he opened up about his past, how he defended a helpless classmate from the hands of a bully, as well as the deatils about his cheating ex. But in my opinion it’s a bit different than the emotional torment which Cassie has been suffering with for the last two years all by herself.

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Sebastian Comes To Town

That…being…said. Once the truth of her marriage does come to light, and we are presented with a scene where Ryder, Sebastian and Cassie are all in a mini face-off circle, I do kind of judge Cassie for not shouting out the truth of the matter at the top of her lungs. When Sebastian introduces himself to Ryder as Cassie’s husband, and that she’ll be going back with him to England, I don’t understand why she didn’t interject, “um, f*ck that! This dick hole beat me, and I’m not going anywhere with him.” Instead, she tries to persuade Ryder to leave him be, and insists that Sebastian is just leaving. Come on girl, stand up for yourself!

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I am happy to say though that my frustration didn’t last too long. Rather than let Ryder sulk, Cassie doesn’t hesitate in going after him. She still kind of tries to keep the darker  details of their relationship a secret, but eventually Ryder gets the truth out of her. Even better though is that when we build-up to the eventual final climactic finish where Cassie needs to confront Sebastian, my girl does not disappoint! We have an exciting finish where we finally see Cassie stand up to her abusive ex. The theme of giving back as good as she gets comes to light in her final confrontation with him too.

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Series: Sexy Bastard, book 1. I loved the introduction of all of Ryder’s business partners, as well as the female friends in their lives. I’m excited to see what comes next, as each character really has a personality all their own.

Final Impression: There was actually more depth and plot to this story than I was expecting. The details of Cassie’s past with Sebastian were dark and full of turmoil, but also added an element of suspense and anticipation to the plot. In addition, I enjoyed the scenes where we were able to see Ryder be more vulnerable with Cassie, and open up about his own past. Unfortunately I also feel that the story didn’t 100% come full circle for me in regards to Cassie’s brother, Jamie, and the debt he owed to Ryder. I would have liked to see more scenes between Cassie and Jamie especially, but for the majority of the novel Jamie is really reserved to the background. When he does finally reemerge, it’s to quickly hand over a bag of cash paying off his debt. Seeing as this debt was the impetus for the whole book, I felt that it’s resolution was thrown together a bit too quickly.

Smut Level: Holy crap. I can’t remember the last time I read a romance novel where a male lead was so eager to get his head between a woman’s legs.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Eve Jagger Books. 260 Pages.

Aurelius by Jessika Klide

This is quite literally the climax that fans of Aurei and Siri have been waiting for!

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It’s my turn. I’m ready. I want the “Golden God.” I choose Aurelius Moore. F*ck, that’s a sexy name. I’m going to turn my Wild Thang loose on him because I know he can handle her. When Aurei returns home from his military obligation at the same time Siri has been dropped off by the taxi, she turns up the heat determined to let their chemistry take them on a thunderous ride. I’m going to scorch him, brand him, and make him mine!

First Impressions

Alright, so full disclosure right off the top. This post is going to be more of an observation rather than a review for one very important reason. This is the fifth book in the “A Scorching Stripper’s Love Story” series, and I haven’t read any of the previous books which came before this one. As such, it definitely feels like I’m a bit late to the game! You can tell this story picks up immediately from where the last book left off. Like, it literally feels as though this is just the next chapter in the story rather than a firm beginning to a new novel. It was a unique feature to be sure, as it almost give the sense of this series being a continuous periodical that flows from one book to the next.

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Now, as a fresh newcomer to this series, I can’t say it was my favorite mechanism ever, as it didn’t really give me a chance to fully get to know our characters, or really understand the backstory and dynamic of their relationship which was presented in the earlier books. I kept wishing throughout the book that I could have been privy to a few more recaps of what came before. At the same time though, I can completely understand that if I had read this series from the beginning, too many recaps would definitely interrupt the flow of the series. It’s a uniquely outside of the box approach to storytelling, but if this book has showed me anything, it’s that this series doesn’t attempt to be conventional or predictable in any way!

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Untold Secrets

From what I can tell, these two have been desiring each other for quite a few books now, but they have yet to act upon these desires. Until now of course. Wink wink. Readers finally get to see the climactic moment when Aurelius and Siri come together to, well…climax 🙂 Honestly, I’m shocked that with the amount of sexual vibes these two are emitting they haven’t consummated before this moment, and it makes me wonder what in the world they could have been doing for the last 4 books! It seems as though Aurei and Siri don’t want to rush into a sexual relationship, and even in this book we see how things are delayed a bit at the start.

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As it turns out, in spite of Siri being an unbelievably sensual woman, she is still a virgin. When she finally decides that Aurei is the man she wants in her bed, he is mighty surprised to discover that she hasn’t been with another man before him. This prompts him to want to reveal every “dark secret” he has, so that she is fully aware of who it is that she’s giving such a precious gift to. And apparently, the dude’s got a lot of secrets. Rather than get into the nitty gritty details of everything though, Siri insists that she wants Aurei no matter what. There is nothing he could tell her that would make her want to change her mind, so they proceed with their sexual activities without really revealing any of the secrets of their pasts. If other romance novels have taught me anything, this is just a recipe for eventual disaster and catastrophe. I kept waiting for some kind of big momentous secret reveal later on in the novel which would test this budding relationship. Surprisingly, it never comes, but we’ll just have to wait and see if this holds true for future novels too.

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We do get one brief glimpse of this dark side which Aurei is alluding to the morning after he and Siri explore each other’s bodies in every possible way. While he’s taking a shower, Siri quietly sneaks in with him for a morning quickie, but in the process she gets more than she bargained for. It’s in this moment that, I at least, discover Aurei suffers from PTSD due to previous tours of duty. He mistakenly lashes out at Siri, but she is quick to calm him back to reality. Now, it’s going to sound weird, but I wanted more of these moments! To see an emotional connection between Siri and Aurei that went beyond just their obvious physical chemistry. For all I know, it’s possible this was already discussed in a previous novel, or there might be plans to delve deeper in a future book. However, just based on what I was presented with here I wanted more of these scenes where Aurei and Siri share personal details about themselves. I wanted to see that darker side to Aurelius that he hints is lying beneath the facade of the beautiful Golden God.

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Suggestive Entertainment

I might be a bit late to this series, but one thing is for damned sure. Siri is one sensual woman. She performs suggestive dance, and as Aurei describes it she is involved in “erotically charged entertainment”. While we don’t get as many recaps as I would have liked regarding Siri and Aurei’s relationship up until this point, we do get a few brief snippets as to the events which went down at a “Cock and Tail” swingers party which Siri attended in the last book. And holy shit does it sound like it was one hell of a party. We’ve got mention of pole dancing, a riding crop, masturbation, oral sex, and a rather erotic version of Russian roulette. Based on this brief overview I kind of get the feeling it might be too erotically charged for my tastes, but at the same time it sounds like Siri is all about helping people delight in sex, orgasms and pleasure. She’s not necessarily an active participant, but rather a guide for others to find a pleasure they may not have even realized they were seeking.

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

Series: A Scorching Stripper’s Love Story, book 5. This novel sort of ends how it begins. There really is no firm beginning or end, but rather it feels like a continuous story. You get the sense that the next book will pick up immediately from where this one left off.

Should you read it? I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing what I did, and use this book as the starting off point for the series. I felt like I missed out on a lot, and at times it was kind of difficult to follow the dynamic of Aurei and Siri’s relationship. That being said, if you’ve been a reader of this series from the beginning I imagine that this book would be the ultimate culmination to everything you’ve wanted from the very start. After so much build up, and witty suggestive banter back and forth the two have finally decided to give in to their sexual desires. And they hold NOTHING back.

Smut Level: Oh boy. Aurei and Siri perform all kinds of sexual acrobatics. At one point he has her pinned up against a wall with her legs thrown over his shoulders. Seriously, I get a cramp just picturing this scenario!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 290 Pages.

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.

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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Beauty and the Geek by Sidney Bristol

A man who likes Moleskin notebooks and Frixion pens?!?! Be still my beating heart!!

What’s it About?

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Professor Steven Kipper is used to the stares, the muttered insults. Monster. Disgusting. Gross. It’s all he’s ever known. Relationships suck when his date won’t even go out in public with him, which is why he hasn’t bothered. That is until her. The woman on the internet who gets his every quirk. He’s hooked on a person he’s never met. The way she gets his jokes, the uninhibited sexuality and…just talking to her. She’s everything he’s ever wanted, only she’s a stranger. Unless he can convince her they should unplug and take their virtual relationship off-line.

Tamara Roh has heard all the insults from slut to whore and they bore her. She refuses to let other people define her. Life’s tough in the gaming industry, and if she can’t handle a few insults the haters will chew her up and spit her out. Her only haven is with her friends and in one very explicit chat room. On-line she can be anyone she wants to, even the normal girl-next-door who just happens to get off on dirty talk, erotic gifs and video chats from the neck down. She might not be able to trust guys in real life to see past the Hot Asian Girlfriend stereotype, but with her internet beau anonymity is her safety net. The only problem is…she’s falling for a man who thinks she’s someone else.

First Impressions

The opening scene of this novel present us with some holy sh*t sexy robotics. At this point Steven and Tamara have a solely sexual, and internet-based relationship. While the two have yet to meet in person, this doesn’t prevent them from getting intimate. Steven is an extremely intelligent robotical engineer (if that’s even what it was called), and in this opening scene we see that he has sent Tamara a…how to put this delicately? Personal pleasuring device? A BOB if you will. But he’s done his fancy robotics work to create a glove which he can wear when she uses it to control the BOB whilst they have a voice chat at the same time. What a way to start off a book! Off the charts sexy, but I must say it leaves the reader with a pretty false first impression. This slightly over-the-top opening scene made me think that we’d be dealing with a purely erotic and sex-charged novel. While there are definitely a number of graphic scenes with a plethora of dirty talk, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the story also deals with some pretty timely and meaningful themes related to appearance, stereotypes, and harassment.

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From One Extreme to the Other

Based on the title I sort of assumed we’d be dealing with a modern adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. True, there is the basic underlying tale of a beautiful woman falling for a man whose appearance is less than perfect, but we soon discover that both of these characters face difficulties in life based on their appearance. Steven has a port-wine birthmark which takes up a rather large portion of his face, and has negatively impacted all of his previous relationships with women who were too embarrassed to spend time with him in public. However, it’s not just our male lead who faces the pressure when it comes to societal standards of beauty.

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Tamara is a gorgeous Asian-American with a rather prominent chest, and she feels the men in her industry view her as the ideal gaming stereotype. They treat her as an object, and care more about what she looks like than what she has to say. Tamara has to work her damnedest to be taken seriously as a woman in a male-dominated field. I think the author did a great job of exploring both sides of the coin when it comes to beauty, and how most everyone has their doubts and misgivings when it comes to how others view them. Our couple manages to have some deeply meaningful conversations about appearance, and I found Tamara’s quote below to be especially poignant and inspirational as she attempts to tell Steven why he shouldn’t care what other people think:

Say there’s a hundred people in here, right now…Of those one hundred people, chances are there’s really only ten who aren’t so wrapped up in what’s going on with them to even notice you. And of those ten? Five want to be you. They like what you’re wearing, they find you attractive, something. And then the other five? You’ll never make them happy. They’ll hate you, think terrible things about you, whatever. Why live your life for those five miserable people? Are they more important than your happiness? No, they aren’t. So tonight–those five people who want to stare at you or me–why do they matter more than the person sitting across the table? And if they do, why are you here with the wrong person?

I’m sure at some point in our lives, each of us has experienced a moment where we were self-conscious about how others viewed us. Whether it be our perceived beauty, our weight, the clothes we wear, hell maybe even the way we walk. And, I don’t know, I guess this one scene really spoke to me, and helped put things in perspective in a way I hadn’t considered before. Not bad for a book that opens with a dildo operated by a robotic glove, am I right?

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#MeToo/#TimesUp

Another way that this novel delves deep into some pretty serious subject matter relates to Tamara working in a primarily male-dominated field with alpha male gamers who always want to be in control. Her beautiful appearance attracts a lot of attention, and unfortunately it is often unwanted attention. Tamara is a strong bad ass trying to make her way in the gaming industry, but she has sort of developed a reputation as a bitch and a complainer. Why you might ask?

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Well, a few years before she reported to the police and a lawyer how she was drugged and raped at a con event by some rather popular gamers. Tamara isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and others…when it counts. Another aspect of this which I found to be so fascinating is when she explains to Steven why she feels she must also  tread extremely lightly when the men she interacts with cross the line of professionalism.

We live in a society that protects men from their wrongdoings by shifting the blame. Which is why, when I’m going to call someone on their shit, I want it to be something more than a slap on the wrist. When I cry wolf, I want people to listen to me, not say, well, she cries wolf about everything.

I found this sad truth to be unbelievably relevant in regards to #MeToo and #TimesUp. How this strong woman felt she had to remain silent during the less egregious moments of harassment in order to maintain credibility should something worse eventually happen. She had to save her wolf cries. Her interactions and discussions with Steven surrounding this topic were also surprisingly complex, as we see how he tries to protect Tamara by urging her to stand up for herself in every instance, no matter how big or small. While he simply wants the best for her, she views his statement as hurtful in that he must see her as weak, and he doesn’t recognize the potential risk to her career. It was such an interesting argument as both sides are presented so eloquently and passionately.

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Series: Gone Geek, book 1. I’m excited to continue on with this series, and read future novels featuring Tamara’s bad ass female friends.

Should you read it? Don’t let the opening scene fool you! While this is definitely an erotic read at times, and our lead couple explores a whole other level of dirty talk, it does deal with some pretty serious and important subjects. From self confidence to sexual harassment, these more sensitive topics were dealt with extremely well. That being said, part of the story near the end could have used some more focus, specifically surrounding the contents of Steven’s private notebook which contained lists that somehow tested Tamara’s commitment to him? I don’t know it was kind of confusing. Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it.

Smut Level: If the robotic glove wasn’t shocking enough, these two also explore using some pretty intense dirty talk. However, it also resulted in an interesting conversation involving whether or not Steven was comfortable calling Tamara his “slut”. They have a very clear discussion about how she’s comfortable with it, but he doesn’t have to say it if he’s not comfortable. They’re just trying out something new together as a couple, and it’s kind of cute how Steven can’t even mention the word to her when they are removed from the moment of passion.

Get it on Amazon:Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Inked Press. 233 Pages.

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.