Watermark by Marti Ziegler

A journey down the Mississippi River is fraught with perils: alligators, pirates, and a debonair flatboat captain with his sight set on revenge. Sign me up!

What’s it About?

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Whom could you trust if you were stranded fifteen hundred miles from home? Misfortune has plagued Juno Brock for months. Recently widowed, a chance encounter with a dangerous criminal in St. Louis exposes her to information that can see her branded. Or worse, hanged. When a pirate attack on the Mississippi River maroons her in the wilds of Michigan Territory, she has but one choice: use her wits to secure passage on a boat traveling downriver and reunite with her family fifteen hundred miles away.

An arrogant mistake in his youth has set flatboat pilot Malcolm Moreau on a forked path of redemption and revenge. His successful livelihood transporting goods to New Orleans revolves around cargo, not passengers, but Juno’s recent encounter with his longtime enemy makes her the exception. A bargain is struck: safe passage to Natchez, Mississippi, in exchange for the information she unwittingly discovered.

What follows is a month-long journey where mistrust and resentment unfolds into an unexpected friendship filled with secret confidences and before long, attraction. Sometimes dangerous, often humorous, their voyage down America’s most infamous river and the outlandish characters they meet along the way will ultimately inspire a destination neither expected: love.

First Impressions

This is only the second Marti Ziegler book I’ve ever read, but I think it’s fair to say that one of my favorite things about her work is seeing the characters evolve. I’m now convinced she is an absolute master at creating a rough male lead who you can’t help but love. At first introduction, Malcolm is kind of a jerk. He is hell bent on revenge, and is more than willing to just leave Juno on the side of the Mississippi River to fend for herself. But then we slowly start to unravel his story, and see what can almost be described as a charmingly boyish side to this rough man. I found myself smitten within a matter of pages even though you also kind of get the urge to slap him a few times throughout the book.

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There’s a similar unraveling to Juno’s character as well. When the novel beings she sort of seems like a momma’s girl, always clinging to her family’s side. Someone who is afraid to be out on their own. Very quickly though we discover that this strong woman knows how to survive. She’s clever, stubborn in only the best of ways, and just a downright fun heroine to read. All in all, I’m always mesmerized by the lead characters Ziegler introduces me to in her work.

A Motley Crew

It’s not just the main characters who are an absolute delight in this river tale. We literally have a whole crew of Malcolm’s boat mates to provide us with thorough entertainment. From his hard-lined cook, to a few flirtatious scallywags, you never want this trip down the Mississippi to end. That brings us to the setting, which is basically another character in and of itself. ‘Tis a journey filled with a plethora of perils, some of which were mentioned above. Alligators, exploding riverboats, pirates and religious zealots.

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This motley crew is constantly facing challenges as they make their way to return Juno to her family, and for Malcolm to finally achieve revenge against his sworn enemy who was the most devious of villains. I do sort of wish we had seen more of this enemy rather than just a few scenes at the very beginning and end of the book. He is described at length throughout from Malcolm’s point of view, so we do learn about their complicated history. That being said, I think it would have been more interesting and suspenseful to have more scenes between the two in person.

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From Nuisance to Lover

What I particularly enjoyed about this novel, aside from learning the historical aspect of 19th century riverboat life, was seeing the evolution of Juno and Malcolm’s relationship. At the start they are both severely annoyed by each other, and see the other as a deterrent and nuisance to reaching their final goal. However, they quickly realize they must rely on each other in their journey.

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Slowly, Juno and Malcolm start to open up and trust each other. This is perfectly reflected in their nightly pastime where Malcolm reads to Juno, who doesn’t know how to read for herself. She’s still fascinated by the written word, and though she initially kind of harasses Malcolm into reading for her, it soon becomes their nightly thing. Malcolm begrudgingly puts up with it every night, but then when he eventually buys her a small pocket reader to teach her to read? Girl, I damn near had tears in my eyes it was so beautiful.

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Let’s Rock the Boat

For a historical romance these two have some sizzling hot sex scenes! And in some pretty unique locations on top of everything. They tussle about in a small bed on a flatboat, against a tree trunk, and even on the floor of a cave. For those last two, they definitely aren’t the most comfortable of locales, but that’s what I positively loved about it all. Juno acknowledges right away that a bed probably would have been more convenient.

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She has twigs in her hair, a few scrapes and bruises, but when you’re overcome by passion? You do it wherever you can apparently. When the two realize their time together is soon coming to an end their lovemaking becomes even more desperate and passionate. However, they still manage to keep things grounded. For example, at one point they also have a drunkenly frank conversation about how they can’t have sex because she’s on her courses. It provides a comforting sense of realism and domesticity to their relationship that I just loved.

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

Series: Stand-alone. Can’t wait to see what comes next from this author!

Should you read it? Well, I’m a fan! I love that with each Ziegler novel I get to learn about a different period of history, and in a new unique setting. All the characters also have such great chemistry together. I could see how some might not particularly warm to the somewhat schoolyard antics of Malcolm and Juno’s relationship at the start, but just stick with it to see it develop! I do wish we had seen more of the villain, who was so creepily written you just want to see a bit more from him. Overall though, a fun historical read.

Smut Level: These two get busy in some unique locations, and I loved how they both commented soon after that it might not have been the most comfortable experience. There was one sex scene that seemed somewhat ill-timed following a near death experience, but I guess that simply increases the passion level!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 351 Pages.

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Tattered Love by Lola Stark

“Then I went and followed him out to the car like some kind of…Some kind of girl! I was starting to dislike myself. Something needed to change. Soon.” Well…that’s kind of disheartening.

What’s it About?

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When ex-Special Ops bad-ass Mace walks into Needle’s Kiss tattoo parlour, he never expected to find the girl who would turn his life upside down. Hard as nails Scarlett has been unlucky in love: she’s been burnt, chewed up and spat out. Reluctant to have another relationship, can she keep her wits about her when hot-as-sin Mace walks into her tattoo parlor? Or will he break her down and leave his mark within her ink? What starts out as a little fun, turns into something so much more. Can Scarlett look beyond Mace’s devastating past or will his demons come back to haunt them both?

First Impressions

Scarlett is our main female lead in this novel, and she is supposed to be this tough-as-nails, badass tattoo artist. She doesn’t take any sh*t from anybody. I’m also 100% convinced she has no idea what she wants in life. Case in point: her relationship with Mace. Ok, sidenote real quick, Mace? Mace?! I can honestly say I’ve never met a “Mace” in my entire life. Ok, sidenote over. So Scarlett is initially drawn to Mace because he is the ultimate manly-man alpha male. He doesn’t ask her on a first date, but instead basically orders her on one. And she openly admits she likes his take-charge alpha attitude. To each her own, no judgement.

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But then when they actually do go out he has the nerve, nay the audacity!, to go get her a drink without asking her what she wants. Never mind the fact it actually is the type of beer she would have ordered because, you know, he’s been watching her (creep factor of 10), but she was damn near ready to get up and leave at that move alone. Scarlett my dear, I hate to tell you this, but when it comes to alphas you can’t simply date “some” of an alpha. They are alpha in all things, whether it’s telling you he’ll pick you up on Friday, whispering dirty talk in your ear, or getting you a drink. You want an alpha? You’re gonna get one.

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Getting all Good Will Hunting Up in Here

When it comes to this novel, “It’s not your fault” is the clear, prevalent theme. I’ll admit, I did like Mace’s character significantly more than Scarlett’s. He has heart, passion, and unfortunately the tendency to blame himself for every possible bump in the road he’s every encountered in life. From getting his former girlfriend knocked up, to the dissolution of their relationship, and the most significant of which is the fact he blames himself for the tragic death of his daughter (none of which were actually his wrongdoing). One of the saddest story accounts I’ve ever listened to! I was practically crying on my walk to work. I seriously need to rethink my tendency to listen to audio books in public.

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Communication is Key

That being said, Mace isn’t exactly Mr. Goody Two Shoes perfect either. As a matter of fact, there were times where I found both characters to be a tad…childish? This novel features one of the most ridiculous jump to conclusions I’ve ever heard. Towards the mid-way point of the novel, Mace has already told Scarlett about his crappy and exploitative ex-girlfriend, as well as how his daughter died years before. Then he mentions how he’s going out of town for a few days.

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Lo and behold Scarlett comes across him having dinner with said sadistic ex-girlfriend, and she immediately jumps the gun thinking he’s cheating on her. In her mind, there is no other explanation, and she won’t even bother to hear what Mace has to say. When he finally does get the chance to explain the situation away, Mace gets pissed at Scarlett when she asks why he couldn’t have been honest with her. He proceeds to turn things around on Scarlett saying she hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about her own past, so why should he have to share everything with her. Uggggh, seriously? Not ok you guys. When did this turn into an episode of Jerry Springer?!?

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Love is Girly

To harken back to the quote at the top of this post, one of the things I didn’t particularly like about Scarlett was that she didn’t really seem to like herself when she was with Mace. Sure, she enjoyed the sexy fun times they had together, and cheese and monkeys were there a lot of them. However, she’s always been tough, and when she’s with Mace she finds herself sort of bending to his will with his alpha tendencies. In spite of this, Scarlett loves him.

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At one point she even says it’s sickening how much she loves him. The reason it’s so sickening? Because it makes her act like such a girl. Sooo…being in love with someone is girly? Wanting to spend time with someone is girly? Now, I get the sentiment that is trying to be conveyed here: she’s a badass and she’s suddenly experiencing moments of intimacy with someone else. I just didn’t really enjoy how it almost paints the concept of being in love as a negative thing. Almost like, love?, pff, who needs it? That’s just for squares. Aaaaaand, cue eye roll.

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Bette Midler in the Making

As I mentioned earlier, I listened to this as an audio book. I always enjoy when romance novels present us with the dual points of view of both the male and female leads. I will say the male narrator did a fabulous job, especially when relating his sad tale of how his daughter passed. As for the female narrator, she could come off a bit too obnoxious at times. Seeing as how Scarlett is already a rather hot headed character, this additional feature of a somewhat obnoxious voice bordered a fine line of annoyance. This line was even crossed at times, especially whenever Scarlett lamented over acting too “girly”, and the word was said with what can only be described as pure disgust. Also, no joke, this narrator sounded surprisingly similar to Bette Midler. Although I love her to pieces (Hocus Pocus anyone?), it was almost too mature of a voice for a character who is supposed to be a 26 year old tattoo artist.

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Series: Needle’s Kiss, book 1. There’s an interesting side story with Scarlett’s best friend who is the feature of book 2. I might consider it.

Should you read it? Personally, I prefer romance novels where our two leads truly bring out the best in each other as they fall in love. I…can’t really say that happens in this novel. Eventually they are able to open up and communicate, but they are also wont to point fingers and place blame when they’re in a snippy mood. At times I really did enjoy how Scarlett refused to take any sh*t from anyone, but there were also quite a number of times where she wasn’t my favorite character to follow. Considering she’s the female lead? Somewhat problematic.

Smut Level: Scarlett and Mace do it in practically every classic sex locale: alleyway, hood of a car, shower, kitchen table…tattoo chair? Meh, why not?!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 293 Pages.

Happy Birthday to Me Indeed!

Hello everyone! Sorry I’ve been MIA for the last week or so, but birthday celebrations, work time madness, and apartment redesign means I’ve had less time than usual to sit down with my Kindle.

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And speaking of Kindle!!!! A couple of months ago I asked you all for some input regarding what kind of new e-reader I should consider to replace my 2nd generation Kindle. I’m happy to announce that after weighing all my options and reviewing your suggestions, I finally came to a decision. Exactly eight years to the day after receiving my first ever Kindle for my birthday, I was thrilled to open my second one for my b-day last week: Kindle Paperwhite baby!!

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Look how pretty!! I’d like to introduce you all to the new extension of me. You guys, this thing is tiny and freakin’ amazing. It should be called Kindle Paper-lightweight if you know what I mean. Look at it compared to my last one!

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Seriously, this thing is life changing, merely in the fact my purse will no longer feel like it weighs 20 pounds. I can’t tell you how many times in the last week I’ve picked up my purse on the way out the door to work and had a mini panic attack thinking I’ve forgotten something important from my bag.

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In the brief amount of time I’ve had to play with my new baby I’ve quickly discovered some key differences from my previous brick of a Kindle, aside from the weightlessness of it. First, the fact a light is built into the actual Kindle, rather than having to rely on an external case or light source is an A++ bonus feature. It’s also so incredibly nice you can adjust the light based on your preferences. My former light came in two settings, off and bright as f*ck. This one has a delightful spectrum.

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Second, I think the biggest adjustment I’ll have to make is in regards to turning the page. Not gonna lie, I kind of miss the fact that I could turn the page using buttons on either side of my last Kindle, and with this new one you have to be sure to hit the right side of the screen. It kind of makes reading whilst brushing my teeth a tad more difficult, but I have a feeling with time it will become second nature. And yes, I realize that is about as first world of a problem as you can possibly have.

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Lastly, this Kindle is FAST! And I LOOOVE it!! No longer do I have to go make a cup of tea and wait forever just to load some new books into a collection. Instantaneous satisfaction. I also love that with the case you simply have to close it to put it to sleep, and then open it to wake it back up. Simplicity. Well, now that I have a beautiful new device to indulge my reading addiction, I should be back to finishing books and writing reviews in no time. Stay tuned!

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Unteachable by Leah Raeder, Eliott Wake

A clear lesson to all the ladies and gents out there: when it comes to sex, don’t lie about your age. Just…don’t.

What’s it About? 

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Maise O’Malley just turned eighteen, but she’s felt like a grown-up her entire life. The summer before senior year, she has plans: get into a great film school, convince her mom to go into rehab, and absolutely do not, under any circumstances, screw up her own future. But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall.

When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can’t get Evan out of her head. He’s taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside. That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke.

Maise and Evan resolve to keep their hands off each other, but the attraction is too much to bear. Together, they’re real and genuine; apart, they’re just actors playing their parts for everyone else. And their masks are slipping. People start to notice. Rumors fly. When the truth comes to light in a shocking way, they may learn they were just playing parts for each other, too.

First Impressions

You guys, I had a lot of problems with this book. It all starts with the first introductions we have of our lead characters. Honestly, not the best. They meet at a summer carnival, which is just so Grease I can’t even help myself (not that that’s a bad thing). As the evening progresses, they both ask the other how old they are. Each has a coy response of “old enough…”. Mkay, here we go. Let’s start with Evan. I’m sorry but if you’re flirting it up with a girl who seems young enough where you find yourself questioning her age, and she comes back with that response?! You turn the other way and run as fast as you can.

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For Maise, she knows that Evan is older than her, and that’s what draws her to him in the first place. She’s not interested in having casual sex with someone her own age who will be finished with the act in 24.3 seconds and lament over having to wear a condom. Damn, gives a pretty unfortunate generalization of teenage guys here. Not only does Maise lie about her age (says she’s 21, actually 18) and occupation (says she’s a stripper, actually a high school student), but Evan’s inability to admit what he actually does for a living (high school teacher!!!) could have avoided this whole mess from the start. It doesn’t paint them in a very good light for a first impression.

Daddy Issues

You guessed it! It all comes back to the father figure. Even Maise admits this is why she’s attracted to having casual sex with older men. Maise was abandoned by her father when she was little, and left to live with her drug addicted mother. When it comes to relationships, Maise leaves these older men by the time the night is over so they aren’t the ones to leave her. Phew, that’s a lot of family drama right there! I think this is presented as the primary reason we are supposed to sympathize with Maise’s character. My problem with this is that she has the tendency to treat everyone around her like utter crap, including her best friend. Maise seems desperate to convince herself and others that she’s an adult. She gives off this arrogant persona as though she’s better and smarter than everyone else around her, specifically when it comes to her classmates. However, in my humble opinion this attitude of hers, in addition to her actions with Evan, truly bring her immaturity to the forefront.

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After having what she thought would be a one-night stand with Evan, she comes to discover that he is actually her high school film teacher. When they both realize this unfortunate coincidence it doesn’t prevent her from continuing to pursue him. If anything, it spurs her on. When Evan tries to explain that continuing anything with him wouldn’t be good for her, Maise states that he couldn’t possibly do any more damage to her than has already been done. Powerful words, yet nowhere in her speech does she acknowledge the damage this relationship could cause him. Maise believes that the worst case scenario with carrying on this relationship is that he gets fired and she gets kicked out of school. The best case scenario? She literally has no answer. She simply asks herself that question and moves on, even admitting, “This is all to high school for me.” Even when commenting that Evan could get fired was done with a seemingly “oh well!” attitude. It highlights that she’s just thinking of herself in this scenario.

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That Being Said!

Now, don’t assume that I forgot about our boy Evan here. This is all a two-way street remember. You wanna talk immaturity, let’s look at Mr. High School Teacher having sex with his student. Come on man!! DANGER ZONE! Not only did you refuse to follow your gut when you thought this girl was too young for you, but then when you found out the truth you really didn’t put up much of a fight when she proceeded to seduce you. From the very start of this novel I kept thinking to myself, “If something happens and you two are discovered I really have no pity.” They even go to a motel together to have sex. God, could this be any more cliche?

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There was one statement from Maise that I could actually appreciate, and that was when she questioned how screwed up this guy must be to get mixed up with an 18 year old. Exactly!! But then she goes and ruins it by insisting the two can be discreet about their relationship, and continue having sex. Not only do they go to a motel together in broad daylight, but they also make-out in his classroom during lunch, send each other naughty pics, and she even has him pick her up when she’s drunk at a party with a bunch of her classmates. Discreet? Looks like a vocab lesson might be necessary?

The Immaturity Continues

Maise admits very openly that she was initially drawn to Evan because of his age, then to the fact that he’s her teacher. She constantly refers to him as Mr. Wilke, both when having sex and when thinking of him if they’re apart. The sense of the forbidden was what solidified their relationship. You have to question if she even likes him as a person! After they are almost caught having sex in his classroom by another student, Maise delights at the idea of people knowing about their relationship, yet having no way of proving it. Umm, what?

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Evan does make a sad attempt at one point to hold off on continuing their relationship until after she leaves for college, even suggesting she drop out of his class. This causes Maise to become off-the-rails offended. She’s adamant she must stay in his class if she’s going to get into film school, seeing as she needs to create a short film for her final project. Sorry to say this, but I kind of doubt just one film class your senior year is really going to make a difference. Also, if you were really serious about film school you’d probably already have some kind of portfolio built up, and you’d continue making this film even if you had to drop out of the class. As for Evan, have some self control to keep your hands off a student for the rest of the year!

In Conclusion

How the hell are we supposed to view this relationship????? Are we supposed to root for them to have a happily ever after together? My main complaint wasn’t so much about the age difference. We get it, you’re 18, technically it’s legal. My issue was with the ethical dilemma. He’s her teacher; she’s his student. And yet she felt the rules didn’t apply to them, or her in particular. Maise saw herself as better than everyone else, more mature and hardened, so why shouldn’t she be able to pursue a relationship with her teacher? Ugggggghhhhhh! Maise never owns up to her actions. There are seemingly no consequences to having an affair with her teacher, not to mention some of the other stuff she does in this book. At one point, she is even seemingly rewarded for some of her questionable activities.

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They also always seem to be putting on a role/facade when they’re with each other. Pretending to be other people, or acting out something like a scene from a movie. We’re supposed to think this relates to their shared interest in film, but I couldn’t help but question if it demonstrates their entire relationship is just an act. Are they really attracted to who the other person truly is? It seems that whenever they start to uncover something too “real” about the other person they quickly switch to their fake character personas. No joke you guys, the characters annoyed me so much I literally rolled my eyes every…single…time I listened to this audio book. I think I may have actually offended someone on the subway who thought my eye roll was intended for her.

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Series: No.

Should you read it? Blarg. To give one positive point to this novel, I will say the author was quite poetic with the writing. However, while the sentences might be strung together eloquently, that wasn’t enough to save what are essentially unlikable characters with no moral compass. Not to mention a pretty boring plot line. I didn’t even get into Maise’s treatment of her best friend, or how we discover Evan has a past that makes my opinion of him even worse. Didn’t know that was possible. All in all, I just could not like either of the main characters, which made for an almost painful read. If anyone out there enjoyed this one, I’d really love to get a discussion going! What am I missing here?

Smut Level: I don’t really wanna go there.

Get it on Amazon:  Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Atria Books. 321 Pages.

Kaleb by Nicole Edwards

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

What’s it About? 

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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Secrets and Sensuality

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

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

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Threesomes and Land Purchases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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