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?

18509673

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.

giphy.gif

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.

worldexplode

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.

mujeres

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.

couples-passionately-kissing-ben-lamberty-2-5875dfd46b0f9__880

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.

son-of-a-bitch-gif-3

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.

crazy-kiss.jpg

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!

6f0d04011c40ee58150cdb6ece79cfed

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.

361b81eb66a1f18c592b443942e8e226

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.

Advertisements

Being You by S.T. Heller

This novel has convinced me that if I should ever leave city-living behind for the wonders of nature, I 100% need to buy a house by a lake that has a dock. It just seems like all of life’s major discussions and problems can be resolved by the serenity of sitting on a dock next to a peaceful lake.

full-bg-s

What’s it About?

39981096

After years of trials and tribulations, Keegan and Jack are finally living their happily ever after. With their daughter and sons, their parents, and their friends, they are surrounded by love. Like all couples, Keegan and Jack face everyday issues, dealing with raising their children and concentrating on their careers, while remembering to focus on one another. But what happens when outside forces disrupt their happily ever after? Over the course of years, the strength of their bond is challenged by the ever-changing lives of their loved ones and by ghosts from the past that continue to haunt them. And, each time, Keegan and Jack must determine if their love for each other and their relationship can adapt and stand the test of time.

First Impressions

Mkay, so full disclosure: I have not read the first two books in this series. And my God! It sounds like I definitely missed out on a lot!! Personally I found that reading the synopses of the first two novels was a big help to understanding the main dramatic elements from the start of the series. In addition to that, I really appreciated the fact that the author gave us a brief recap of most of the key moments from the previous novels pretty early on in this book. Every time we are introduced to a character we are provided with the back story to how they relate to the main characters, and how their relationships may have evolved over time. That being said, I must admit it was rather difficult to keep all of the complicated relationships straight at times! Also, some of the major plot lines from the previous books were mentioned so nonchalantly there were a few times where I had to pause and ask, “Wait, what happened?!” From a casual mention of brain surgery, to an ex-girlfriend lying about Jack having died in a fire, it definitely seems like I missed out on some craziness in books 1 and 2!

house-fire-seavillefirerescue-400x267

An Observation on Life

While it’s difficult for me to discuss exactly how this novel compares to the previous two, I can only assume this one was pretty mellow after reading the synopses of those first books. We have no undercover investigators, nor tales of murder to contend with. Instead what we are presented with is more of an observation on life. The book is littered with minor dramatic moments that any of us could encounter in our own lives. From a child needing stitches, to the stresses of work, and even having to put down a beloved pet. At the same time we are privy to the delightful moments of life which can offset those which seem so terrible and scary. Marriages, family vacations, and hanky panky fun times when the kids are asleep 😉

Spectacular-North-Carolina-Beach-House-Vacation-Rentals-L49-In-Modern-Inspirational-Decorating-with-North-Carolina-Beach-House-Vacation-Rentals

While this definitely helps us relate to our characters with the everyday joys and problems of life that we too experience, it was also a bit light in terms of an underlying plot. Keegan and Jack do encounter two significant issues which threaten to impact the happy bubble they’ve created for their family. The first controversy doesn’t really come about until the half-way point of the novel, and all in all it is resolved fairly quickly. The second problem is more of a slow build-up to an eventual climactic point of contention. Through it all we question if Keegan and Jack will be able to overcome these dramas, or if outside forces will break the strong link which binds them together. One thing’s for sure, meddling exes definitely seem like a common theme throughout this series! Ultimately we see how Jack and Keegan’s strong commitment to being open and honest with each other provides the underlying stability to their relationship. No doubt this was built upon throughout the previous two novels!

image

The Extended Family

The characters in this novel were unbelievably captivating and entertaining. Jack and Keegan especially are the driving force of the story, and I think one of the main reasons I liked them so much was the fact that they were in their late 40s when the novel began. This allows them to bring a crucial amount of maturity to their discussions which can oftentimes be lacking in romance novels featuring couples in their early 20s. They aren’t quick to make assumptions, or if they are they have the ability to talk to each other! Thank goodness we finally have a couple who can communicate!!! So refreshing. The book is told from their alternating points of view, with a few chapters told by their daughter Molly, which was always a unique surprise.

raising-large-family-featured

As for the other characters of the novel, they too are a delight, but holy crap are there a lot of them! Seriously, you need some kind of 3-D diagram in order to keep all these people and relationships in order. We have ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, step siblings, half-siblings, and then just the general friend group. Phew, I’m exhausted! Again, with the first mention of each character we get a snippet of their background and how they relate to our main characters from the first two novels. It was a lot of information to keep track of. I seriously think some kind of extended family tree would have been very helpful, mainly just to maintain who is actually related to whom. I remember at one point Molly mentioned how when she grew up she was gonna marry a boy named Jace, and for a moment I panicked and exclaimed aloud, “But he’s your half-brother!!!” But then…I retraced the various webs of relationships and realized, ok phew, not a blood relative. Proceed!

giphy.gif

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

Series: The Dock Series, book 3. While I definitely appreciated the recaps of the events from the previous books, I almost wonder if I had read them beforehand I would find this read almost too repetitive at times. It’s always nice to have a refresher when continuing on in a series, but I could see that in some instances a reader of the whole series might think they know all this already. Personally, I would really enjoy if we get a 4th book that follows their daughter, Molly. Fingers crossed!

Should you read it? I loved the calm of the lakeside scenery, and I honestly think it helped contribute to the levelheadedness of our lead couple. Sure, they have a few hiccups along the way, but for the most part their communication skills are a thing to be admired. The novel is mainly an observation of how Keegan and Jack get on with their everyday lives, whether that includes the good, the bad, or the ugly. I do wish we had been introduced to more of a concrete story line earlier on in the book, but in the same vein it also made the book more of a refreshing lesson in how moments of happiness are bound to come after those that might seem hopeless or overwhelming.

Smut Level: Overall a fairly clean read, but it still has some spicy scenes! Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. Key to success? Back rub massages in a bubble bath.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 304 Pages.

dock-bg

The Milanese Stars by Pamela Q. Fernandes

It would appear that Vita and her co-conspirators may have just gotten away with the jewel heist of the century. But when a sexy investigator comes to town, Vita realizes she might not escape from Milan so easily with the jewels intact…or her heart for that matter.

What’s it About?

40490078

The heist of the decade and yet, no one would have guessed… it was her. The Milanese stars are missing from the famous Buccatino boutique. When American insurance investigator, Samuel Keane is called in to liaise with the polizia, he finds the whole heist odd. Not only are the Milanese stars, a set of five pink diamonds, not listed in the inventory of stolen items, worse, none of the surrounding owners or passersby witnessed a thing.

Samuel is anxious to solve the case and partners with local café owner, Vita, who has a very good vantage point to watch Buccatino. Vita herself has quite the interest in Samuel. He’s a decent man, not to mention delicious, and he’s smart. But the last thing she wants is to be caught. After all, Vita has planned the heist for years. Five to be exact. The only thing she didn’t plan is falling in love with the young American.

As Samuel digs further into the history of the stars, he discovers Vita’s friends and her physically challenged sister are all connected to them. He learns of Vita’s past and the loneliness she’s resigned herself to in an effort to protect herself from loss. Samuel also learns Don Giovanni, proprietor of Buccatino, is no ordinary man. He’s a local Mafioso and will stop at nothing till he gets the stars. The more Samuel investigates, the more dangers he and Vita face. Can he solve the case and what will happen with Vita? What will he do when we learns the heist of the decade isn’t about stealing pink diamonds… it’s about settling the score.

First Impressions

Vita can’t deny the desire simmering between her and Samuel. There’s just one problem. He’s only in town for a short time to investigate a jewel heist worth millions. And Vita just happens to be the thief responsible. Okay…so that might be more than just one problem now that I think about it. One of the best parts of this novel is Vita’s inner turmoil of whether or not to pursue anything with Samuel. Why would she possibly risk inviting a wolf in sheep’s clothing into her life and home? He is investigating the heist after all, and she’s directly responsible for it. But considering the heat passing between them, to push him off would be even more suspicious than inviting him in. She doesn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to herself, and ironically enough the best way to do that is to go on a few dates with the man. At the same time she’s helping to coordinate the sale of the stolen jewels and plotting her own escape from the city. Who would have thought she’d have time to fall in love with all that drama going on?

Cullinan_major_diamonds.jpg

The Heist

So, first things first. Honestly I feel the synopsis gives away a bit too much of the plot. I think I almost would have preferred if we didn’t know going in that Vita was involved in the heist. It could have been such an interesting twist to uncover maybe a few chapters in. After all, Vita has such a sweet and inviting personality, I don’t think I would have suspected her right away. Samuel obviously doesn’t! In my opinion, it was a missed opportunity to have some fun with the audience, and keep us all on our toes!

giphy

As for the heist itself, I must say it was a good one. I don’t want to give away all the details, although again the synopsis does hint at some things. Even though we know immediately that Vita was responsible for the heist, you do sort of question throughout the novel the backstory involved to carrying out such a crime. You also can’t help but wonder if Vita and her co-conspirators will get away with it all. About halfway through the book you can start piecing all of the links and ties together, but it isn’t until the very end that we get one final explanation of the why, how, who, and what now? When all of these pieces ultimately come together you can’t help but smirk and think, “Well I’ll be damned!”.

Capture

Sisterly Love

While everything does eventually come together full circle in the end, I do feel that we missed out along the way with some key details which really could have made this story a home-run. Firstly, Vita’s relationship with her sister, Tecla. This is one aspect of the novel that I just wish would have had more focus. Their dynamic is a major influencing factor to so many of Vita’s decisions, but I wanted more development regarding Tecla’s side of the story.

loyal-sister

Throughout the book we understand Vita’s driving force behind this heist was directly linked with wanting to take care of her sister, and yet at times you can sense some bitterness emanating from Tecla regarding how Vita treats her. Is it because Tecla doesn’t want to feel like a cripple who must be fawned over? Is it because she wants Vita to not miss out on all that life has to offer? Honestly, I’m not really sure, and I wish we could have had a few more scenes which just centered on sister and sister.

26bb2f0103423aac3ab5ed6f34ec4a13--wheelchair-girl-wheelchair-photography.jpg

The Don

Another important feature of the novel that was somewhat glossed over was the character of the Don. He’s the proprietor of the boutique from which the jewels were stolen, and a well-known mafioso. Understandably so, he’s a presence which sort of lurks in the shadows; a villain not to be trifled with or confronted. And yet, I guess I was surprised to find that Vita and her co-thieves don’t seem as wary of him as they probably should? While they all plan to leave town shortly after selling off the jewels, they don’t seem to discuss much of a plan regarding ensuring that this criminal Don never finds them again.

godfather

Let’s face it, the fact that they all plan to leave town at basically the same time guarantees he’ll know they’re responsible, but they never really discuss going into hiding, changing their names, appearance, etc. Heck, even Vita’s plan is to flee to the town of Fusine. Sure, it’s gorgeous, not to mention a 5 hour drive from Milan, but it’s still in Italy for crying out loud! There may not be any direct evidence linking Vita to the heist, but the Don also seems like the type of guy who doesn’t bother with silly things like the law, or proof. He seems like the type of guy who would put a bullet in you if he suspected you of making him look the fool, and then ask questions later.

2880171

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? The base of the story is all here, and it’s one with great bones. That being said, I think it also could have used with a bit more description, and some embellishment here and there to give us a fully robust story. It’s a quick read, but almost too quick if you know what I mean. The details of the heist were awesome, and it’s great when you have a book that can have you rooting for a bunch of jewel thieves to succeed. The relationships of the story also could have been expanded upon more, including the sisterly dynamic between Vita and Tecla, as well as the romance between Samuel and Vita. I will say though, be prepared to want to book a flight to Italy pretty much as soon as you finish this one!

Smut Level: No hanky panky here. But at least we are warned straight off from the get-go that we won’t have any sex scenes. Honestly, I prefer that situation to being relentlessly teased throughout the whole thing wondering if we’ll have more. We do get some passionate kissing scenes, but nothing to make you blush too hard.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $6.99 Kindle Price. TouchPoint Press. 152 Pages.

Winds of Time by Lilly Gayle

A vicious tornado whisks our heroine through the winds of time to unexpectedly drop her back in 1872. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore Toto! Or at least…not in modern day Texas anymore.

What’s it About?

40207097

The past is her future, the future, her past, but can she save an innocent man’s life before history repeats itself? As long as Selena Tillman dreams of her ancestor, Mary, who disappeared without a trace in 1872, she’ll never find peace. As long as she dreams of the half-Native American army scout accused of killing Mary, she’ll never find love. Hoping to end the dreams and learn the truth, Selena goes to Texas where Mary and the scout died and sees more than ghosts. She sees a tornado kill Mary in real time before it jumps to the twenty-first century to pull Selena into its vortex and send her back to the nineteenth century. Selena believes she’s fated to prove Dylan’s innocence and save his life, but Dylan isn’t just the man of her dreams; he’s her destiny.

Fed up with the army, bigotry, and women—especially white women, Captain Dylan Casey dedicates himself to solving the mystery of Mary’s disappearance, proving his innocence, and trying to stop a war between the whites and the Indians. Then Mary’s cousin shows up, claiming a tornado killed Mary. Dylan doesn’t trust Selena, but she’s his only ally in Canyon Creek. Yet despite their common goal, growing mutual attraction, and a Comanche shaman’s prophecy of a white woman who will change his destiny and foretell the fate of the Indian Nation, Dylan refuses to take a chance on another spoiled, white woman—until fate changes his mind.

First Impressions

Yes, we are dealing with a time travel historical romance here. But more than that we are exploring some inherently deep-rooted and devastatingly tragic instances of racism in late nineteenth-century Texas. The supposed superiority of the white man over the “savage” Indian, and the downfall of the great Indian Nation at the greed of the white man. What I love about any Lilly Gayle historical romance is that we always learn about a unique chapter of history, and in most cases they are lessons which I never really had the opportunity to study fully in school. In each instance my interest is spurned to learn more! You can tell a lot of time and effort was spent researching this topic in an attempt to give an accurate portrayal of what it would have been like for a “half-breed” to live at this moment in history, not to mention the obstacles involved by falling in love with a white woman. After finishing this read I must say I’m inspired to visit the National Museum of the American Indian, especially considering it’s just a 15 minute drive from my apartment!

downloads_filename_119

Traveling the Winds of Time

One of my favorite aspects of any time travel story is discovering the rules of time travel which the author has chosen for their world. Will it be like Outlander, in which the events of the past are firmly set in stone? In these works we usually find the attempts of our characters to change certain events will instead directly cement the circumstances of history. Or will we maybe see something along the lines of Back to the Future where practically everything you do has a direct impact and influence on changing the outcomes of the future? In this novel we see an interesting blend of both.

outlander.jpg;w=630back-future-2

After being dropped in 1872 by a wayward tornado, Selena seems stuck in the past with no possibility of traveling back to her own time. She knows the history surrounding the fate of Dylan Casey, who stands accused of murdering her ancestor Mary. However, she’s just seen that the same tornado which carried her through time is responsible for Mary’s death, not Dylan. Can Selena possibly alter the events of history to prevent Dylan’s own murder which she has seen play out in visions since she was 10? Is Dylan fated to die, or is it Selena’s destiny to save his life? You simply never know what the rules of time travel might be in any given romance.

tornado

An Argumentative Romance

Race is an extremely important discussion in this novel, especially in how it relates to Selena and Dylan exploring a romantic relationship. Living in a small Texas town, Dylan experiences hateful glances and racial slurs practically every day. He’s had friends and lovers desert him upon discovery of his mixed heritage. He once thought Mary (Selena’s ancestor) was the woman for him, but in the end the fact he was a “half-breed” proved to be reason enough for her to give up on them. When Selena drops into town she’s unlike any other woman Dylan has ever met. She has no hesitancy about exploring a physical relationship with Dylan, which is something he simply can’t wrap his head around. Why would a white woman risk her reputation pursuing a half-breed like him?

sean000

All in all I’d have to say that my one complaint with this book is how much of Selena and Dylan’s time together is spent arguing. I feel like Selena had a closer connection to Dylan because of the visions she’d experienced of him throughout her life rather than from their interactions with each other. The fact that Dylan is a scout for the army also means that he and Selena spend pretty long periods of time apart from each other. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I couldn’t help but feel there was some disconnect between the feelings garnered from Selena’s visions to her actual interactions with the man.

Dr-Quinn-Aerztin-Aus-Leidenschaft

Selena has literally been dreaming of this man forever, and when she finally has the opportunity to meet him in person he’s…well…a bit surly. She continuously reiterates the fact that his race is of no consequence to her. Selena’s actions also speak towards her dedication, especially when she gives up the luxurious comforts of his parent’s house to instead make a home for them in Dylan’s small ranch house. And yet, it still doesn’t seem to be enough to convince Dylan that she’s serious when she says his Indian heritage doesn’t bother her. He insists she could never love a “dirty savage” such as him.

Vctorian woman's toilette

Continue reading

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?

30979185

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.

giphy 2

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.

giphy

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?

MV5BMjA4ODA1ODkxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTA5Nzg5Ng@@._V1_

#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?

lolcosplay-625x352

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.

dontrape

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?

JETT:39786382
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.

arrow-the-fallen-trailer-breakdown-lazarus-pit-resurrection-nanda-parbat-sara-tease-361244

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.

Kim-Coates-as-Tig-in-Sons-of-Anarchy-Papa-s-Goods-7x13-kim-coates-38277933-612-380

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?

panel-bkgrd

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.

64483e7d5337ffb9d4a49141bb001dd6--jax-teller-charlie-hunnam

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!

SERIES 1

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.

Christmas on the Beach by Tori L. Wilson

Well I’ll be a son of a gun! We have a male lead with the name Erik, ending in a ‘k’. Just like my brother! It’s such a rarity to find an Erik that doesn’t end in a ‘c’. Oh boy, and now I’m thinking of my brother in reference to the male lead of a romance novel. Great, can’t wait to see how long it takes me to separate that concept!

What’s it About?36535856

Aria spends her days living in a small one bedroom apartment on Jekyll Island with her adorable cat, Salem. Every day, she lives out her dream creating new paintings and selling them to customers online. Despite all of this, however, she still feels as though she is missing something. One crisp December morning, she meets a man on the beach by chance. Erik, a handsome Korean man, is visiting the island for Christmas. Will their love blossom regardless of the freezing weather or will tragedy grip Erik’s heart in its icy clutches?

First Impressions

Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s May, why the hell am I featuring a romance novel set during Christmas?! I can’t even use the whole excuse of it being Christmas in July, or something silly like that. Well, what can I say? This is what happens when you host a romance novel blog, and you get severely behind on reading through your author review requests! Only 26 more to get through and I’ll be officially caught up. Which means…yeah I’ll probably never get caught up, and next thing you know I”ll be reviewing a book set around Halloween in June. Anywho, let’s get down to the nitty gritty details of this little novella, shall we?

st-joseph-penninsual-state-park

First things first, “little novella” is about as accurate as a description as we can have here, seeing as this tale is just 49 pages in length. That miiiiiight just be a record of the shortest story I’ve ever featured. Although we are dealing with a short novella, this story incorporates quite a lot of heavy subject matter involving the feeling of loneliness which can surround the holidays. Aria is experiencing Christmas alone in her beach house, and we are reminded that during winter the beach can be a cold and foreboding place. For Erik, it’s an extremely sad and solitary family Christmas vacation by the beach seeing as the rest of his family isn’t actually present. His parents both met an untimely death the week before during a home invasion gone wrong, and the rest of his family is all back in Korea for the funeral. Man, I feel like I need a shot of tequila to make it through this one! Despite the sad premise, these two lonely souls are able to come together to find a moment of happiness, and maybe even love during the holidays.

the-walking-dead-saison-6-video-trailer-bande

Finding Love on the Beach

This novel starts off very strong! I always get worried when we have a romance set in such a limited number of pages, as it usually feels like our lead couple comes together way too quickly for my liking. However, when it came to this tale of woe, you really are rooting for Erik and Aria to come together so that they can provide comfort for each other during such a difficult time. The setting of the beach also provided some very interesting symbolism towards the beginning, as we open on the cold gray of the ocean which surrounds our characters during their lonely holiday, but as their time together progresses they are able to rediscover the beauty of the island. They also spend a delectable amount of time together drinking hot chocolate, and cuddling under blankets on the couch whilst watching Christmas movies. Honestly, I see nothing wrong with this.

I3Mp1zg

Tapering Off at the End

Unfortunately, there is one crucial scene in this novella which wasn’t my favorite, and it surrounds the discussion we all knew was coming: Erik’s inevitable return to Korea. Erik admits the day after he and Aria first have sex that he’ll be headed home within 24 hours. In my humble opinion, Aria gets a bit overly emotional when he reveals this little detail. She accuses him of just using her for sex, and proceeds to kick him out of her apartment. And he just leaves. Mkay, a few issues here. First of all. The dude’s parents were just murdered! He’s heading home to be with his family. Give the guy a break!

IMG_2284-1170x480

Now, to be fair, Aria quickly realizes her mistaken overreaction later that evening, but my goodness in the moment it just made me cringe. And then there’s Erik. When Aria told him to leave, he just put his head down in sadness and left. Again, to be fair, I can’t really blame the guy. He’s got other more worrisome things on his mind right now than to argue with a woman he just met two days ago who is upset he has to go home to grieve with his family. I just wish that he would have fought just a bit more for their relationship. Yes, they came together very quickly, but if he had stayed back to try and make any kind of argument for why she shouldn’t throw him out in the cold, I think I would have warmed to this relationship even more.

ccimage-shutterstock_238059490

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

Series: Part of the Snowman Anthology.

Should you read it? I just love that we have a male lead who can make bibimbap. I’ll take him for myself if you don’t mind! Would have preferred a Korean male for the cover art, but what can ya do? This novella has a strong start, but as the story goes on there is quite a lot left unexplored. For example, we never really learn why Aria was alone for Christmas, seeing as she mentions her parents and sister at multiple points throughout the story. Also, even though I was rooting for these two to get together, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of their emotional connection was based on true love, and how much was because Aria happened to be there to comfort Erik at a difficult time in his life. Will this be a forever romance? I’m not 100% sure as of right now, but I would absolutely love to get a follow-up to this tale. I’d definitely read it, no question.

Smut Level: We don’t really have any explicit detail when it comes to the sex scenes in this one. There’s several kisses, waking up the morning after tangled together in the sheets, and even the discussion of whether or not to take a shower together. Nice!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.99 Kindle Price. Books to Go Now. 49 Pages.