Cage by Harper Sloan

It seems like 9 out of 10 romance novels begin with a meet-cute that involves our male lead being first enamored with our leading lady’s eyes, or perhaps her lips. It draws him in like a tractor beam. But then there are still those select few that default to the tits, or the ass. In this book? It’s the tits.

What’s it About? 

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Greg Cage was born to protect. While growing up, he was his mother and sister’s shield against the world… until he failed. For the last decade, he has carried that guilt and need for vengeance around…until it was stripped from him. Now, with his best friend getting married and no longer needing his protection, he is even more lost, completely adrift, and desperate for some control. All he has ever known was how to protect: his family, his friends, and his country. Can he go against everything he has ever known, and give up that control?

Melissa Larson will never let anyone hold the reins in her life. She has been the rock in her family for more years than she can remember, and the fight to keep them together is her main priority right now. She has always been fiercely independent and proud. The last thing she will ever do is ask for someone else’s help. But when that choice is out of her control, forcing her to rely on others to save her and her family, and pick up the pieces that are left, will she be able to let someone else be her strength? The second Greg locks eyes with Meli, he knows that she is someone he needs. Someone he craves. Meli knew the second she met Greg that he would be nothing but trouble and heartache. Her life takes an unexpected turn, and that bitch Fate is back to wreak more havoc on another member of the Corps family.

All hell breaks loose, leaving Greg no choice but to call in a favor. He hooks back up with his old friend Braxxon Breaker from the Breakneck MC. Together, they make sure that nothing threatens anyone Greg loves again.

First Impressions

There are actually two things that initially draw Cage to Melissa. The first we’ve already covered: her tits. Romantic, I know. The fact that Cage first met her by taking the child of our couple from book 1 to the doctors office, and she was the attending seemed like a missed opportunity for a more…sweet first impression. How about she was really good with kids? The second enamoring feature is the fact that Melissa continuously turns down Cage’s repeated advances/requests to come back to his place for some naked R&R. Dinner and a movie are so last season. I can’t say I’m a huge fan when the impetus for a couple coming together is the fact that one is seen as a challenge. I don’t know, maybe because it makes it seem like a game of cat and mouse, and you have to wonder what will happen when he finally catches her? Will the allure wear off?

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Linked in Tragedy

As it turns out, our couple here has another connection that Cage discovers once he finally has Melissa in his bed. They’ve both tragically lost a sister before their time. And they both lost them to the same man. This last detail is something which Cage keeps to himself, as he thinks it is something which will distance this new burgeoning relationship with Melissa. We all know what that means! She’ll eventually discover it on her own, and it’ll cause alllllll the problems. Which it does.

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Personally I felt this linked sister tragedy was something that was never fully explored. We know that both sisters were abused at the hands of the same man, Simon, and both ended up dead. However, we never really get the full picture, especially when it comes to Melissa’s sister. It’s quite an important part of the story, as her sister’s death results in her and her mother being left to care for her nephew.

The Crazy Ex

As with any romance novel, it simply wouldn’t be complete without a crazy ex girlfriend who made more of her relationship with the male lead than was real. In this case, the trope of the psycho ex is taken to the ultimate extreme. I will say at one point I did feel kind of bad for this ex-girlfriend as it’s revealed she might actually have some kind of mental condition, and she’s been neglecting her medication. However, feelings of sympathy don’t last too long, as we are once again presented with a feature that I constantly bring up on this here blog of mine. Attention to all romance novel leading ladies: do NOT go to the bathroom alone in a restaurant and/or bar. You’re just asking to undoubtedly run into said crazy ex.

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Cage’s ex doesn’t just taunt Melissa though, she actually reveals the sister link which Cage kept hidden. And just like we knew it would, it causes Melissa to flee in despair. Shockingly though, this time apart actually provides Melissa and Cage with the opportunity to, well, act like adults. She feels betrayed at his keeping it a secret, but rather than face him with all her anger and pent up emotions, she takes some time to calm down before confronting him. Cage on the other hand is desperate to explain the truth and his reasoning for keeping it a secret, but at the good advice of Axel from book one, he gives her some time to mull things over. And then they come back together and all is well!

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Series: Corps Security, book 2. It was pretty nice to see the couple from book one reappear in this sequel.

Should you read it? I will say this series isn’t my absolute favorite. It’s full of pretty standard romance novel tropes, and at times it’s easy to see where the story is going. I will say though, the ending takes an odd turn with the introduction of a new character, and we don’t really get a clear resolution to some of the drama. Lastly, this book was literally never-ending! We have an epilogue, bonus chapter, deleted scene, and finally a bonus scene. Seriously, after the third extension I exclaimed, “Just end it already!!”

Smut Level: Melissa can only push Cage away for so long before she’s naked in his bed.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 240 Pages.

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Deviant & Fracture by Callie Hart

Ohhhhhhhhhhh boy.

What’s it About? 

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Deviant. Sloane: I’m not proud of the things I’ve done. The things I’ve had to do. The things I’ve given away. But I’d give it all over again to find her. Even if I die trying, I have to find Alexis. Zeth: She wants me to help her, but I won’t. She wants me to save her sister, but I can’t. She wants me to be her hero, but I’m not a good man. I am her damnation.

Fracture. Zeth Mayfair is pretty much the very last thing I need in my life. Yet with every breath I take, he becomes more ingrained in every aspect of it. He has a key to my house. He knows where I work. He dumped his strange, mentally traumatized housemate on my doorstep and has driven off into the sunset in search of my missing sister. I want to forget him. Want to change the locks and blot out his face, scour his very name from my memory. The problem is that I also need him. I need him more than I need air to breathe, and I can’t be without him now. He owns me. He torments me. He’s fractured me.

First Impressions

I’m actually combining both books 1 and 2 from this series into one review, as the audio book I listened to combined the first two installments as well. These books may have been short, but my goodness they certainly pack a punch. I’m not gonna lie folks, this wasn’t really my taste at all. I always say I can usually handle a lot when it comes to erotic novel sexual detail, but this was even too much for me to handle. That’s definitely saying something.

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At Least She Liked It? I Guess? 

The first novel in this series opens with our female lead, Sloane, giving away her virginity to a stranger, Zeth, in the hopes of finding out information concerning her missing sister. The scene starts with our stranger turning off all the lights so she doesn’t ever see what he looks like. There’s touching, licking, rubbing, handcuffs. Mkay, so far not too bad. But then he proceeds to wrap his belt around her neck and rub a knife over her chest. Ummmmmm, at least she enjoyed it?

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The two leads have a pretty bizarre relationship once they reunite years later after their initial sexual dalliance. She’s inexplicably drawn to him, in spite of his criminal profession and the fact that he basically admitted to murdering someone. He doesn’t seem to have a soft side at all when it comes to her, and often uses intimidation to claim her sexually. He even gets her to participate in an orgy and…penetrates her with the handle of a knife. Ugggggh, again she seems to like it, but that one just seems…unnecessary.

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From One to Two

The first novel is basically just laying the groundwork of Sloane and Zeth’s unusual relationship, as well as developing the tale of her sister’s disappearance. Not much happens story-wise, and the novel almost seems to end mid-scene. I honestly don’t really understand why there was the need to end it so abruptly, rather than just combining these two short novels into one full length book. At the end of the first book I was honestly afraid to see what would come next, but it was so short I figured I might as well give it a try.

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The second novel focuses a lot more attention on Zeth’s story, and his pseudo father-son like relationship with a criminal overlord. And here is one of my main problems with this tale: Zeth really isn’t a good guy. He definitely blackmails Sloane sexually with the promise of saving her sister if she’ll do his bidding. At one point Sloane basically admits to herself that Zeth might be a murderer, a criminal, and a thug, but at least he’s honest. Dude! Not exactly a great reason to ignore all that other shit going on!! In the second book Zeth also realizes that his boss is involved in selling women, he had Zeth’s phone bugged, and sold him out years before for a murder Zeth didn’t actually commit. Aww, what’s wrong there buddy? Is it tough to discover the murderous crime boss you work for might not be 100% honest? Boo…hoo.

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Series: Blood & Roses, books 1 and 2. I doubt I’ll continue with this one. Although I am intrigued to find out what happened to Sloane’s sister.

Should you read it? These novels just weren’t my cup of tea. Zeth is kind of an emotionally manipulative ass, and you kind of want Sloane to escape his clutches. It really seems like the only reason she’s with him is because he says he’ll save her sister. The sex scenes are too over the top for my tastes, and I think there’s more focus on that than the dramatic aspect, which might actually be kind of interesting if we could just pay attention to it for a while!

Smut Level: Ummmmmmmmm…I’m uncomfortable. I’m also not sure I’ll ever be able to look at a blue ice pop the same way again. We all know what those things do to your tongue, and in this novel let’s just say his tongue and her lady bits turn blue. Thanks for tarnishing one of my favorite childhood snacky snacks!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. Books 1&2 $12.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 304 Pages.