Close to the Skin by Zara West

A hardened criminal? Or a loving protector? Bella debates whether she should turn to the intimidating Vernon for help considering his past, but she can’t deny how he looks at her with love in his eyes.

What’s it About?

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Never back down, never turn your back, and never fall in love. Head of a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise, Vernon Newell doesn’t let family ties or misplaced sympathy get in his way. But there is one chink in his armor—Sirena Patras, the beautiful young Greek girl he seduced and deserted eight years ago. When Vernon discovers that Bella Bell, a prospering tattoo artist in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is actually Sirena, he sets out to woo and to win her. Despite her attraction to the fabulously sexy man, Bella wants nothing to do with a hard-headed, ruthless criminal. But when threatening messages start arriving, and Vernon disappears, Bella must choose to abandon the man she loves, as he did her, or risk her life to save him.

First Impressions

This novel presents us with a fascinating debate of whether or not to love a “former” hardened criminal. I think a quote from this book which perfectly encapsulates our heroine’s struggle is “Could a man who touched her with such love, kill over and over again in cold blood, and still have a heart left in him?” It’s basically a question of whether a killer can transform into a passionate lover. However, as the novel progresses we also question if the two personas can coexist at the same time. Such an intriguing dichotomy that doesn’t necessarily have a nice answer.

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Falling for the Criminal

First of all, Vernon is charming as hell. He and Bella have a ton of chemistry, not to mention a passionate past, and he draws on it every chance he gets. He’s intent to marry her, constantly trying to convince her of his worth, and how amazing their lives will be together. On the one hand, you really do want them to be together, as they seem like kindred spirits. At the same time though, you completely understand her hesitancy to get involved with him. It almost reminded me of a mob movie, like Goodfellas, where you almost scream to the woman on the screen, “Why are you risking your life to get involved with this man?”

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The last thing Bella wants is to get mixed up in Vernon’s criminal world. You just never know when his former enemies might come looking for him, or possibly torture her to get to him. Vernon insists he’s given up that world. That he’s gone straight. The fact that he constantly has a bodyguard with him reflects that danger still lurks behind every corner. I will say, he’s so charming and convincing that even I believed him. Unfortunately, we quickly find out that he wasn’t necessarily telling the whole truth.

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Stretching the Truth

Sooooo, Vernon basically straight out lies to Bella regarding his criminal activities. While he’s not necessarily his father’s heinous henchman anymore, he still hasn’t removed himself entirely from that world. Definitely an interesting set up for a main character. When Bella initially pushes Vernon away we want her to overcome her hesitations, and realize he’s the only one for her. However, when we see how he lies to her we also question if she deserves someone better. Probably the most intense up and down of an emotional roller-coaster regarding my opinion towards a main character ever! I didn’t really know as the novel progressed what my final opinion of him would be, or if he could redeem himself in Bella’s eyes. Or mine for that matter! Fascinating progression to be sure.

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Burning Fire

Bella has a fiery personality, which also equates into a burning temper. She’s often quick to pounce on Vernon, and jump to conclusions with those closest to her. We also see how this “quick to assume the worst” attitude carries over into her business life. When she has the opportunity to design tattoos for a new TV show, she’s convinced she doesn’t have the time to draw them all and still maintain her tattoo parlor. But, she does. When she loses those designs she laments over the fact she could never possibly recreate all that hard work in such a short amount of time. All is seemingly lost. But, she does.

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It shows that when she sets her mind to something she can accomplish the most seemingly impossible of tasks. At the same time though, when it occurs repeatedly throughout the novel it also makes us wanna tell her to “calm down girl, have some tea and take a deeeeeep breath”. When Bella also insists that she could never possibly love Vernon because of his violent past, and determinedly swears they’re over it’s easy to question how steadfast she’ll really be.

Some Additional Minor Points

Vernon has a pretty strange relationship with his younger brother. He’s tried to keep him out of the criminal world, but to no avail. Their relationship is almost in limbo as Vernon struggles to acknowledge that his little brother isn’t necessarily sweet and innocent. I don’t want to give away too much of this story line, but I will say it didn’t seem 100% resolved to me by the end of the novel. It does however allow for Vernon to make a choice of what is more important to him: Bella, or his family and extravagant lifestyle.

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Lastly, I’m sorry to admit that I did have some trouble remembering all of the details surrounding Bella and Vernon’s relationship from the previous novel. I read a lot of books, okay?! 87 books to be precise since I read the first one. I think a brief summary at the start of the novel would have been extremely beneficial, especially concerning the dynamic with Vernon’s deceased brother who kidnapped Bella. While the story does eventually come full circle, answering a lot of the question marks from book one, it came together a bit too piece meal for my liking. At one point I even found myself rereading some of the end of the last book to try and remember some of the details.

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

Series: The Skin Quartet, book 2. I am absolutely in love with the supporting characters in this series, specifically our band of graffiti artists. If a future novel features one of them as the lead character I am sooooo reading it.

Should you read it? I did prefer this over book one, even though we do see some of the same themes carry over into this novel as well. Most significantly, our main characters aren’t always 100% likable. They have flaws, just like we all do. However, whereas this feature in book 1 made it difficult for me to relate to said characters, I felt it was developed so much more prominently in book 2. It demonstrates our feelings towards the characters are fluid. One minute you want Bella and Vernon to have a happily ever after. The next you wonder if Bella is right to keep her distance. So interesting that as Bella contemplates her feelings for Vernon, we too can sympathize with her debate.

Smut Level: Nothing like a little hanky panky on the kitchen floor!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 264 Pages.

A Train Through Time by Bess McBride

One of my favorite features of time travel romances is the moment when our hero or heroine discovers they’re not in Kansas anymore. Most simply go with the flow and adapt. Others have that brief moment of denial before eventual acceptance. In this novel, Ellie has a minor freak out, and continually insists she’s dreaming rather than acknowledging the harsh truth. Probably the most realistic scenario of the three!

What’s it About? 

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College teacher Ellie Standish thinks she’s on a sleek modern train heading to a conference on women’s studies in Seattle, but she awakens from a night’s doze to find herself on a bizarre historical train full of late Victorian era reenactors who refuse to come out of character. When the leader of the group—handsome, green-eyed Robert Chamberlain—finally convinces her the date is indeed 1901, a skeptical Ellie rejects any eccentric theories of time travel and presumes she is smack dab in the middle of a very interesting historical dream. She turns the directorial reins of her dream over to the smitten and willing Robert, only to realize that dreams cannot last forever. Someday, she must wake up to reality, though Ellie no longer has any idea what reality is. She only knows that Robert must play an important part in her future. But how can he…if he’s only a figment of her imagination or worse yet…a man who belongs to an era long past?

First Impressions

I really loved the start of this novel. Ellie is adamant she hasn’t traveled through time, instead thinking she’s woken up surrounded by a strange troupe of Victorian era reenacters. When she eventually realizes that theory holds no weight she moves on to the idea that she must be dreaming, and sticks with it for pretty much the rest of the novel. Rather than our heroine admitting the truth that she’s traveled through time, Robert is actually the one who puts it together first, and tries to convince her of it. It felt like such a unique departure from most time travel romances, where our traveler is usually the one who must come up with the most compelling argument to convince others that they are from a different time. Normally those in the past are the skeptical ones, and I just really loved how this novel chooses to take that trope and flip it on its head.

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A Dreamy Man

Robert could have easily had this strange woman committed for acting so bizarrely, but instead he chooses to play along with Ellie’s delusion that she’s simply dreaming. It was actually a humorous way to show how smitten Robert was with her from the very beginning. He becomes convinced that Ellie was meant to travel through time to find him, and for them to be together. Now he just has to convince her that it’s true. At first Ellie is determined to “wake up” from this crazy dream. However, as she spends more time with the dashing Robert her fondness for him also grows, and she starts to hope that this wonderful dream will continue.

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Shockingly, at one point in the novel when Ellie falls asleep she does actually wake up from this dream in her own time for the briefest of moments before waking up again back in the Victorian era. She then becomes determined to stay away from Robert before they fall too hard for each other, or else risk crushing his heart once she does leave this time for good. This is definitely a unique time travel twist in that although the train sort of acted as the device of her travel, it was more the act of falling asleep that was the impetus for it. This makes her presence in the past all the more suspenseful, as you never know when she might wake up again in her own time. Is she truly destined to remain with Robert forever in the past? Or is she just visiting for a brief moment in time?

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The Standout

The characters in this novel are everything. From Robert’s snarky grandmother, who I couldn’t help but compare to Trix from Gilmore Girls, to his delightfully chipper sister. Even the supplemental characters who don’t have that much impact on the overall story are so much fun, and you can’t help but become enthralled in this world. The development of some characters was also fascinating. We are introduced to one woman at the beginning of the novel who is set up to be someone who will become a thorn in Ellie’s side, potentially ruining her happily ever after with Robert. Instead, we surprisingly see how this woman comes to becomes one of Ellie’s best friends, who is so unbelievably kind and sincere. So delightful, and it definitely keeps you on your toes!

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Corsets and Hairdos

I can’t think of a better juxtaposition than having a Women’s Studies professor being thrust back in time to the turn of the century. The land of corsets, elaborate hairdos, and always having to lean on a man’s arm. At the start of this novel I was thoroughly entertained with how Ellie expressed her horror at having to squeeze herself into a corset, and jumped for joy at how she wasn’t afraid to talk with Robert about how different her life is in the future as a modern woman.

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Some of my favorite scenes though were when Ellie would have a heart-to-heart with a woman from the past, and discover how they see such fashions of the time as freeing compared to what they were years before. We can see how one can criticize the past when compared with their current life, but at the time also see how illuminating it can be to compare those circumstance with those that came before. It really helps to put everything in perspective, and give the professor a lesson as well.

From Outspoken Woman to a Lady of the Times

My one main criticism of this novel is how Ellie’s character evolves, or devolves, throughout the book. She eventually comes to fit in almost too much with the times. What I loved so much at the outset was how Ellie stood out compared to those around her, and that she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and stand up for herself as a woman. As she spends more time in the past however, we see how she starts to internalize more of her opinions, and almost becomes complacent in her interactions with Robert. I still love Robert as a lead character, but when she avoids making eye contact with him, becomes tongue-tied in his presence, or runs away from her feelings for him she almost seems like a turn of the century woman who needs a fainting couch. Or maybe some smelling salts to help her with the vapors! I wanted her to remain a headstrong female from start to finish, but instead at one point she’s almost like a blushing wall flower.

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Series: Train Through Time, book 1. I got this one for free on Bookbub, and I immediately went and bought the 2nd book in the series.

Should you read it? A fun, quick, simple read that is entertaining throughout. I will say it does drag at one minor point when Ellie tries to distance herself from Robert, but it all comes together for one exciting finish! I do wish Ellie’s character had remained outspoken and spunky throughout, but overall I really enjoyed this one. It does take some unique approaches to the traditional time travel romance genre that made it fun and interesting.

Smut Level: Ellie and Robert have one rather passionate kissing scene, and he is really quite the flirtatious debonair leading lad. Nothing scandalous takes place, even though Ellie does admit she’s no virgin.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 200 Pages.

 

Saturday Sexcapades: Garage

Last Saturday we explored the rather confusing sex locale of the front porch. A good location for all the voyeurs out there, but if you ever worry about splinters, spiders, or nosy neighbors you might want to find an alternative interior location. So let’s move things a little to the left and explore another locale just on the cusp of entering one’s homestead…the garage.

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I must say, compared to the front porch, this location is already vastly superior. As long as you remember to hit the garage door button upon entry, you probably don’t need to concern yourself with anybody else looking in on your amorous activities. In addition, garages always seem to have the tendency to echo, so you’ve basically got your own surround sound of pleasure going on. Remember to turn on some tunes on the car radio, and the mood can officially be set.

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As for where in the garage our romance novel lovers choose to get it on like Donkey Kong, there are usually two or three common varieties.

1. They don’t make it out of the car. I’ve commented on this before ladies and gentlemen, pure laziness. It’s been done, nothing special, moving on.

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2. The hood of the car. Not gonna lie, intriguing. You’ve probably got a decent height ratio going on, and as long as it’s cooled off a bit before any thrusting begins it’s a passionate location. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and cause any dents or scratches.

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3. Some kind of work bench and/or tool thingamawhatever. I don’t know what the hell they’re called. All I know is, I’d be worried about a stray nail, or screwdriver the entire time.

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While I definitely approve of the garage locale overall, there is one major downside that I can think of. The smell. I have an extremely unfortunate sensitive sense of smell, and whenever I enter a garage I am always overwhelmed by the scent of gasoline and oil. If you happen to be in the garage of my childhood home, then there’s also the presence of garbage storage. That’s just…not pleasant. However, if it’s a man worth getting frisky with in a garage, hopefully that means he also had the foresight to purchase some kind of air freshener. The sign of a true gentleman to be sure.

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So there you go! While not my absolute favorite just-outside-of-home sex locale, I must say it works! It’s somewhat confined to provide a sense of intimacy, and understandable as a location considering our main couple has probably been engaging in a bit of hanky panky in the car ride home. If you simply can’t make it the next few feet into the house, I’d say the garage is definitely preferable over the front porch. No real chance of being caught, and hopefully there’s some kind of scented candle to distract you from the smell. Although, if the man really knows what he’s doing, maybe you won’t even notice your surroundings!

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A Call for Historical Romances!

Hear ye, hear ye! This is a desperate plea to all my historical romance readers and writers out there. I am in serious need of your assistance!

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I have approximately 788 unread books on my TBR list. Excessive. Disgusting. I know. And yet, believe it or not I am asking all of you out there to send me more. Why, you ask? Because of those 788 tomes silently waiting in my Kindle for selection, only a meager 18 of them are categorized as historical romance. The fact that I have over twice as many sports romances as historical romances fills me with a particular kind of dread and sadness.

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I have always been a fan of historical reads, whether it be romance, fiction, non-fiction, or essays on archaeological digs in Egypt. History is my jam. As a matter of fact, the first novel to ever get me fascinated with the romance genre was a historical read set in Russia during the start of WWII. Sadly, as the years wore on, Goodreads lists multiplied, and review requests came in, the contemporary world took hold. Now I see a definite hole in my blog posts of historical reads, and I mean to change it!

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So send me your suggestions! What are some of your favorite historical romances? Some of my ultimate favs include The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simmons, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and the entire Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. I’d be happy with Highlanders, swashbucklers, Regency era lords and ladies, soldiers preparing or returning from war, time travelers and explorers. I will say of the minimal number of historical reads I do have on my Kindle, and those which I’ve posted recently, there’s a decent number of westerns featuring cowboys or frontiersmen. I’m pretty much set with those!

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And to any romance writers out there with a historical work on your hands, I’d be happy to read a copy for review. Be sure to check out my “Review Policy” tab above for some notes to keep in mind, and how to submit your work for consideration. Looking forward to seeing what some of your favorites are, and what you recommend I check out for myself!

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Saturday Sexcapades: Front Porch

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always dreamed of living in a house with a big wrap-around porch. Mind you, it never once crossed my mind that such a feature could potentially be a prime out-of-the-bedroom sex locale for romance novel lovers. I just always envisioned it being a lovely place to sit in a white wicker rocking chair with a good book and a glass of lemonade.

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Now that I’m older? Yeah, um, honestly still not a place I’d think of to get down and dirty with a significant other. All that’s changed in my vision since I was little is that I now have a Kindle instead of a paper back book, and well…maybe there’s a little vodka in that lemonade.

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As always with these Saturday Sexcapades, I like to point out a few details for romance lovers to keep in mind before deciding to drop trow on the front porch. First and foremost, you either better have some extremely tall hedges, or you need to live far enough out in the country where there’s no risk of your neighbor catching a free show.

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Having grown up in the suburbs where you are literally surrounded by neighbors on all sides, I can’t lie this is always the first thing that pops up in my head when I come across this sexcapade in a romance novel. Anybody could just walk by! At least if you live out in the country you’d only be providing a few nocturnal animals with some interesting entertainment for the evening.

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Aside from the possibility of the neighborhood gossips catching a glimpse, there are two other reasons the porch doesn’t scream sexy to me. For one, I don’t think I’ve ever visited a front porch that didn’t have an excessive amount of spiders/spider webs in the vicinity. Sorry, not gonna happen. Then you’ve got a plethora of moths practically humping the porch light in ecstasy. Just…no! Can’t we take this inside already?

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And this leads me to my main complaint about this particular locale. The front door is LITERALLY right there! Can’t you just take these amorous activities into the safe and clean confines of your foyer? It’s only about 2 feet away. Come on, I know you can do it!

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For our romance novel leads it seems that the public nature of the porch is one of the enticing factors. It also usually involves the female lead getting down on her knees to…pleasure her man. Goodness gracious girl I hope you used the door mat for cushioning.

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I’ll admit, for the few romance novels out there which feature a lustful scene on a back patio/porch, that’s something I’m more in favor of. There’s usually a bit more privacy, and it seems our couple usually just gets thing started out there before eventually finishing things up inside.

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For the front porch though? It seems like inviting the male lead inside afterwards for a cup of “coffee” never happens. I’d say most of the times I’ve come across this feature in a novel, our main couple doesn’t spend the evening together after their front porch fun times. What…too intimate for ya?!

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All in all, the front porch as a romantic sexcapade is not my favorite. I’m constantly thinking they’ll be discovered by a late night jogger, or perhaps a neighbor walking their dog. Move things inside folks! You don’t necessarily have to go the bedroom, but you can’t stay here!!

 

Don’t Toy with Me by Barbara Barrett

Am I the only one who wishes it was socially acceptable to still be able to play with your childhood toys as an adult? Seriously, give me a few Barbies and a Polly Pocket or two and I’ll entertain myself for hours. Actually…probably more like days.

What’s it About?

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Repossession of your car in Los Angeles is like breathing without lungs. It can make an unemployed management consultant like Jordan Wright do crazy things, such as accept a job beneath her skills on a reality competition show and pretend to be a spy for a competing outfit.

Even though he sees through the undercover story, the show’s executive producer, Bart Underwood, is intrigued by it as well as the woman spinning her tale. Creativity is not one of his strong suits, and he has found himself in over his head with this new production. Unable to ask directly for Jordan’s help, he takes advantage of her need to prove herself in hopes she’ll rescue his baby. But despite their growing attraction to each other, even she can’t save a reverse beauty pageant titled Ugly as Sin.

When several stunts go awry, she suggests a new approach, challenges based on toys designed by Bart’s toymaker uncle. Though interested, Bart must first deal with his useless partner, who has been blackmailing him to stick around. The man’s resentment of Jordan threatens to not only disrupt her growing involvement with Bart but also risk the viability of the new show, Don’t Toy with Me.

First Impressions

When it came to this book my first impression surrounded the synopsis. Goodness gracious there’s a lot going on here! The novel has a rather complicated start, which I think is perfectly reflected in the synopsis. In my opinion, it did seem a bit overly elaborate at times. For example, we have a rather complicated meet cute of Jordan trying out for a show which she thinks is a beauty pageant, and instead of admitting outright that she didn’t know what the show was about she creates an elaborate scheme about spying for a competing production company. Bart knows she’s lying, yet decides to play along even after she admits the truth. Phew, I’m exhausted already! It felt like maybe it could have been that Jordan was in need of a job to pay for her car, so she takes a job she wouldn’t normally take as an assistant on a reality show. Bing, bang, boom, still fun and interesting, yet not as many moving pieces.

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We All Know!

The feature of this novel which confused me the most was Jordan’s creation of this rival production company. It seemed like such an unnecessary story when she could have admitted, “sorry, didn’t know what this show was about, my bad.” Sure, not as interesting, but perhaps a tad more realistic? What I had more trouble understanding though was why Bart would choose to continue playing along with this story even after she admits she lied. Then, as the story progresses, Jordan starts to assume that Bart knows she was lying, yet she also doesn’t confront him about her assumptions. I couldn’t help but compare it to a Friends episode where they don’t know we know they know we know, sooooo….

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Big Reveals and Motivations

Another unfortunate aspect of the synopsis was that it sort of revealed too much of the plot. We know from the outset that the premise behind this reality show is crazy. The concept of demonstrating how terrible society can be to ugly people, and that the ugliest contestant on this show wins is troubling to wrap your head around. Throughout the whole novel we wonder how Jordan or Bart could possibly turn this around into a winning idea. Problem is, we already know how. The synopsis demonstrates it’s just a matter of time before the show transitions into a reality contest centered around Bart’s uncle’s toy creations. If this little tidbit hadn’t been revealed in the synopsis I think we as the audience would have really been stumped on how this show could possibly make a turn for the better.

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Another reveal in the synopsis which confused me a bit was the reference to Bart being blackmailed to continue on with the show. This really doesn’t become a feature until the very end of the novel. Kind of a spoiler for me! The fact that his partner doesn’t try to blackmail him until pretty late in the game makes you question for the majority of the novel why Bart would bother putting up with such a terrible show, and terrible person, for so long. He knows the show is crap, yet he sticks with it, and has a seemingly strange sense of devotion to his partner. If this blackmail feature had been introduced earlier on, I think it would have helped us understand Bart’s motivation as to why he was refusing to throw in the towel with this crazy show.

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Unfortunately, although I tried my best I ultimately found it rather hard to like Bart as a character. We all know that he’s testing Jordan. He recognizes her creativity almost immediately, and believes she could be the answer to making this terrible reality show a success. However, rather than admit, “we could really use your help in making this show better”, or “let’s collaborate to improve the premise” he instead kind of treats her bad. Bart sends her on a multitude of crazy errands as a way of testing her resolve, and basically berates her any time she has a suggestion which strays from the ugly beauty pageant concept. Talk about frustrating! Especially because he secretly agrees with all her suggestions. While this strategy definitely allowed Jordan to shine and prove her worth, it sort of made me see him as, well, a coward for not vocalizing his concerns to her or his partner. In a sneaky way, it makes his partner look on Jordan as the intruding villain, when in reality Bart is the puppet master orchestrating the downfall of his “friend’s” concept. Again, such an elaborate scheme.

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A Love Blooms

Bart and Jordan have a growing attraction to each other as they invest more of their time in this show. I think some more development in their chemistry would have been beneficial. As it stands it seemed like one minute they were kind of flirting with each other, a few longing looks, a brush of the hand, and the next they were going at it on his office couch. While I’m all for office loving (assuming the door is locked!), it seemed kind of rushed to me. I guess I just had a hard time believing their connection.

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That being said, there was another relationship blooming in this novel that I found to be particularly compelling, and that was between Jordan’s aunt Sheila, and Bart’s uncle Andrew. I’ll tell ya, I’d definitely read a book where their love was the main focus! They were so freakin’ adorable I immediately perked up any time they entered a scene. Both lost their significant others years before, and for Andrew the circumstances were extremely tragic. They’ve been hesitant to interact too much with others for years, yet when Sheila and Andrew meet they are able to come out of the shells they’ve trapped themselves in. They learn to live and love again with each other. Ahhhh, sigh.

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

Series: I could see the potential for a series. A brief novella for Sheila and Andrew would be my everything!!

Should you read it? I wish we could have had more scenes involving stunts with the toys. It was such a unique concept, yet we really only got one up-close toy scene in the competition. As for our lead characters I truly admired Jordan’s ability to stand up for her opinions in front of Bart. Not my favorite male lead when all was said and done though. I think if we had been privy earlier on to his motivations behind this show, specifically in relation to his feelings of guilt surrounding his mother, I probably would have liked him more as a character. Sheila and Andrew definitely stole the show for me, and I just wanted more of their adorableness!

Smut Level: Some office couch time, but nothing too over the top.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 244 Pages.

Tempting the Bodyguard by J. Lynn

The last novel in the Gamble Brothers series. Overall, probably my favorite book of the three, but unfortunately that’s not saying too much.

What’s it About? 

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Alana Gore is in danger. A take-no-prisoners publicist, her way with people has made her more than a few enemies over the years, but a creepy stalker is an entirely different matter. She needs a bodyguard, and the only man she can ask is not only ridiculously hot, but reputed to have taste for women that goes beyond adventurous. Chandler Gamble has one rule: don’t protect anyone you want to screw. But with Alana, he’s caught between his job and his increasingly hard libido. On one hand, Alana needs his help. On the other, Chandler wants nothing more than to take the hot volcano of a woman in hand. To make her writhe in pleasure, until she’s at his complete mercy. She needs protection. He needs satisfaction. And the moment the line is crossed, all hell will break loose.

First Impressions

Normally I’m a huge fan of anything in the Entangled Brazen collection, but there was something about this series that just didn’t do it for me. Each book in the series was just kind of “meh”. Sexy and generally entertaining, but the characters and story lines never truly wowed me. While I did find this to be the most enjoyable novel in the series, I think when all was said and done none of them are really a must read. However, you gotta give it to Alana, this woman is all about timing. When she first met Chandler in a previous novel it was to him opening the door wearing nothing but boxers. Since that time the two have thought of each other every now and again, mainly concerning what the other would look like naked. In this novel, Alana needs to employ Chandler’s security services, so she seeks him out in a sex club where he’s in the process of…well…let’s just say approaching a scantily clad woman from behind on a chaise. See what I mean? A woman of timing.

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Doormen and Security Cameras

Alana is getting settled in Washington, DC after moving across the country from the West Coast. Surprisingly, in spite of such a long distance move she continues to receive stalker-like letters from a mystery someone. As the letters increase in their creepiness, and the writer promises they’ll meet in person soon, Alana realizes she has no choice but to seek out the services of a personal bodyguard. Luckily, she has just the man in mind.

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Although Chandler often deals with higher level security issues, he simply can’t say no to the tough-as-nails publicist who helped his brother find his one true love. As he takes on the case, Chandler quickly notices the lack of security at Alana’s apartment in the form of a doorman, or even adequate security cameras. This raises his concern for the easy access a possible stalker would have in getting to her. This also raised my, “really?” hackles.

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As a DC resident myself, I’m sorry but I have to question the likelihood of this. Alana has a great job that pays a lot. She owns a Lexus for goodness sake in a city where cars really aren’t necessary, and she also has no financial concerns about hiring Chandler’s private bodyguard services. I highly doubt the woman would live in a building with no doorman, or at least a front desk person. For the love of God my apartment building has a front desk check-in, and I’m confident in saying I don’t earn more money than Alana. No Lexus for me!! Now, in the grand scheme of things, does this truly matter? Not really. However, when a stalker does proceed to break in to Alana’s apartment, trashing it to hell before escaping into the night, I couldn’t help but think “really?”

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A Dominant Man, A Stressed-Out Woman

After Alana’s apartment is ripped to shreds by her unknown stalker, there seems to be little choice for her but to temporarily move in with Chandler. Count down to sexy naked times in 3, 2, 1…commence. Somewhat known to Alana, Chandler’s sexual proclivities swing more to the d/s side of things. Minus a playroom of course. While Alana might not be up for everything he’s willing to offer her, she decides to take a chance on exploring her lustful feelings for Chandler.

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The two make an agreement that they won’t have intercourse right away, but everything else is fair game. Here is where I had some slight issue with Chandler’s approach to their sexual relationship. While I was happy he didn’t push her for full on intercourse right away, the first thing they do is some oral while he ties her hands behind her back. Don’t get me wrong, totally hot scene, but I couldn’t help but feel it was rather ill-timed. Alana has basically moved in with him after all of her possessions were destroyed at the hands of a stalker who is sending her creepy notes, and has already smashed her car with a brick. Maybe don’t tie her up? She’s had a rough enough week as it is! Restricting her movement during sexy times probably isn’t a great step in the right direction mentally or emotionally.

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The Cream of the Crop

Hands down Alana was the most captivating character and feature of this entire novel. Actually, strike that, of the entire series. In the previous novel she was presented as kind of a bitch. A heartless character who would do anything to get the job done, even if it meant basically blackmailing our female lead from book 2. In this final book however, we get to see another side to Alana’s character. Vulnerability.

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We learn about her troubled past with absentee parents, and how she was raised by a loving grandmother who always pushed her to be strong. Alana reaches a breaking point when her home is vandalized by the stalker. This was her safe space, and she literally has no friend or family to go to for help. Chandler is her one last resort. In that moment, when she’s standing on his doorstep with her few possessions, we see that the harsh persona she’s previously showed us is all a ruse.

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Series: Gamble Brothers, book 3.

Should you read it? If you’ve made it this far in the series I would say this is definitely a good one to end with. If you’re considering this series from the outset I personally think it’s one you can skip. There are a lot of other more exciting novels in the Entangled Brazen collection to choose from.

Smut Level: For a man who has a sex club membership I was pleasantly surprised he never frequented said establishment with Alana. They keep their sexplorations to his home.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Brazen. 262 Pages