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Books to Binge On: May 2018

Posted May 1, 2018 by Casee in Features | 5 Comments

Books to Binge On

Rowena: There are so many books that we’re looking forward to coming out in May and we’re super stoked to share our list of books we think you should binge on this month. Check it out!


Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts.

Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide.

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tending to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies’ room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone–until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

Casee: NR is ballsy for writing about this topic. I like it. I’m not sure if I will like the book, but I usually like what she writes. You can read the first chapter for free here.


Shadow Keeper (Shadow #3) by Christine Feehan.

One family brings its own brand of justice to the streets of Chicago’s shadowy underworld as #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan returns to a series hot enough to burn…

The paparazzi can’t get enough of infamous bad boy Giovanni Ferraro. But unknown to them–and the women he beds–he’s just playing a role. Keeping the spotlight on himself keeps it off the family business. And if this lethal shadow rider can’t hunt in the dark, he’ll find his pleasure elsewhere…

Sasha Provis grew up on a Wyoming ranch and thought she knew how to protect herself from predators. But in the nightclub where she works, she’s fair game–until one of the owners steps in to protect her. Giovanni is gorgeous. He’s dangerous. And his every touch takes her breath away.

The devil at her heels may have finally met its match…

Casee: I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this one. It was loads better than the second book in the series, but not as good as the first one.

Holly: I didn’t love the last book, so I’m not sure if I’ll read this one or not.


Death is Not Enough (Baltimore #6) by Karen Rose.

Gwyn Weaver is as resilient as anyone could be. Having survived an attempted murder, she has rebuilt her life and reclaimed her dignity and strength. She’s always known about her feelings for defence attorney Thomas Thorne, but as her friend and a colleague there could be no chance of anything more… or could there?

Thorne has known violence and pain all his life. He’s overcome the hardships that have been thrown at him thanks to his own steel, and the love of his loyal friends. Now he’s thinking it might finally be time to let his guard down, and allow himself to let in the woman he’s always admired from afar.

Then Thorne’s whole world is torn apart — he is found unconscious in his own bed, the lifeless body of a stranger lying next to him, her blood on his hands. Knowing Thorne could never have committed such a terrible crime, Gwyn and his friends rally round to clear his name.

But this is just the beginning — the beginning of a brutal campaign to destroy Thorne, and everything he holds dear…

Casee: Karen Rose is one of those authors. Those authors whose blurbs you don’t even have to read because you know you’ll love it no matter what. I read her debut when it came out and I’ve read every book she’s released since. I’ve even gotten my mom hooked on her. I heart her.


Hot Asset (21 Wall Street #1) by Lauren Layne.

A sexy agent hounds Wall Street’s hottest new wolf in an exhilarating novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he’s met his match in Lara McKenzie—a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.

An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case—the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading—could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.

She’ll do anything to prove he’s guilty. He’ll do anything to prove he’s not. But it’s only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It’s become a pleasure—and there’s more at risk than she ever dreamed.

Rowena: Lauren Layne is one of my top authors and I will always be stoked for more new books from her. Hot Asset kicks off Layne’s new 21 Wall Street series and I cannot wait for hot guys in suits falling for strong women that don’t put up with their shit. This fits that bill and I’m sooooo excited for it.


Speakeasy (True North #5) by Sarina Bowen.

Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…

May

Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.

Alec

I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.

It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us.

Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

Rowena: Sarina Bowen is another one of my top authors and she wrote another book so of course I want to read it…and it’s May’s book! May is going to fall in love with a man? I need to know how that came about so I’m in!

Holly: I love this series and I’m excited to see another entry. I’m going into it cautiously, however, since I expected May to end up with a woman.


Making Up (London Celebrities #3) by Lucy Parker.

Author of Act Like It and Pretty Face Lucy Parker returns readers to the West End, where it’s fireworks onstage and off in a sexy enemies-to-lovers showdown.

Once upon a time, circus artist Trix Lane was the best around. Her spark vanished with her confidence, though, and reclaiming either has proved…difficult. So when the star of The Festival of Masks is nixed and Trix is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight, it’s exactly the push she needs. But the joy over her sudden elevation in status is cut short by a new hire on the makeup team.

Leo Magasiva: disgraced wizard of special effects. He of the beautiful voice and impressive beard. Complete dickhead and—in an unexpected twist—an enragingly good kisser.

To Leo, something about Trix is…different. Lovely. Beautiful, even though the pint-size, pink-haired former bane of his existence still spends most of her waking hours working to annoy him. They’ve barely been able to spend two minutes together for years, and now he can’t get enough of her. On stage. At home. In his bed.

When it comes to commitment, Trix has been there, done that, never wants to do it again. Leo’s this close to the job of a lifetime, which would take him away from London—and from Trix. Their past is a constant barrier between them.

It seems hopeless.

Utterly impossible.

And yet…

Rowena: I really enjoyed the first two books in this series and I’m really looking forward to seeing what Parker does with this one. A circus? Yessss, I’m in!


Hooked on You (Chicago Rebels #4) by Kate Meader.

The steamy Chicago Rebels series returns with this racy and sassy tale of embittered hearts, second chances, and going for the goal—on and off the ice.

Violet Vasquez never met her biological father, so learning he left his beloved hockey franchise—the Chicago Rebels—to her is, well, unexpected. Flat broke and close to homeless, Violet is determined to make the most of this sudden opportunity. Except dear old dad set conditions that require she takes part in actually running the team with the half-sisters she barely knows. Working with these two strangers and overseeing a band of hockey-playing lugs is not on her agenda…until she lays eyes on the Rebels captain and knows she has to have him.

Bren St. James has been labeled a lot of things: the Puck Prince, Lord of the Ice, Hell’s Highlander…but it’s the latest tag that’s making headlines: washed-up alcoholic has-been. This season, getting his life back on track and winning the Cup are his only goals. With no time for relationships—except the fractured ones he needs to rebuild with his beautiful daughters—he’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore sexy, all-up-in-his-beard Violet Vasquez. And when he finds himself in need of a nanny just as the playoffs are starting, he’s faced with a temptation he could so easily get hooked on.

For two lost souls, there’s more on the line than just making the best of a bad situation… there might also be a shot at the biggest prize of all: love.

Rowena: BREN AND VIOLET’S BOOK!!! I’m so excited to jump into this one. I loved the chemistry that we got to see simmering beneath the surface in the previous books in this series and I’m so ready for the sizzle that will be front and center in their own book. Yay for May 2018 new releases!


I Flipping Love You (Shacking Up #3) by Helena Hunting.

A new kind of love story about flipping houses, taking risks, and landing that special someone who’s move-in ready…

SHE’S GOT CURB APPEAL

Rian Sutter grew up with the finer things in life. Spending summers in The Hamptons was a normal occurrence for her until her parents lost everything years ago. Now Rian and her sister are getting their life, and finances, back on track through real estate. Not only do they buy and sell houses to the rich and famous, but they finally have the capital to flip their very own beachfront property. But when she inadvertently catches the attention of a sexy stranger who snaps up every house from under her, all bets are off…

HE’S A FIXER UPPER

Pierce Whitfield doesn’t normally demo kitchens, install dry wall, or tear apart a beautiful woman’s dreams. He’s just a down-on-his-luck lawyer who needed a break from the city and agreed to help his brother work on a few homes in the Hamptons. When he first meets Rian, the attraction is undeniable. But when they start competing for the same pieces of prime real estate, the early sparks turn into full-blown fireworks. Can these passionate rivals turn up the heat on their budding romance — without burning down the house?

I FLIPPING LOVE YOU, set in the Shacking Up world, follows two people, both working in real estate, who find themselves vying for the same properties in the Hamptons, leading to a sometimes-not-so-friendly competition.

Rowena: Helena Hunting is a new to me author and I enjoyed the last book that I read by her and am pretty hopeful that I’ll enjoy this one as well. I love flipping shows so I’m looking forward to see what she brings to this book. It’s definitely on my to be bought list.


Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West.

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

Rowena: I adore Kasie West’s books so whenever she comes out with a new one, I’m so excited. That is no different with this book. It sounds super cute and I’m so here for it.


The Greatest Risk (The Honey Series, #3) by Kristen Ashley.

A woman unable to connect, struggling to hide another part of her. A man burning to learn her truth, and make her whole. Through explosive passion and deep exploration, they are about to take the greatest risk of all. But will they be able to take that leap, and come out on the other side together?

In this next passionate novel in the Honey series, New York Times bestselling author Kristen Ashley delivers a stunningly romantic and intensely sexy novel that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Holly: I’m on the fence about this series. I have mad love for KA, but I’m not really into BDSM. Now that all three books are out I may read them. Either way, I already bought it. Because I’m a sucker.


Planet Dragos (Elder Races #9.8) by Thea Harrison.

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Thea Harrison comes the final novella featuring Pia and Dragos…

Pia’s latest pregnancy has become a daily challenge, her relationship with Dragos strained with argument. That hasn’t stopped them from achieving a compromise and traveling to Las Vegas to celebrate their friend Rune’s wedding to his mate Carling.

From the moment they arrive, the trip goes awry. Death walks in Vegas, and Pia is kidnapped as an ancient enemy makes a move to destroy the Great Beast once and for all.

But the Great Beast has other plans.

On Planet Dragos everything goes the way he arranges it—unless someone decides to cross him, and God help them then, because he doesn’t know how to back down, and he doesn’t ever, ever let up….

Holly: I’m reading this right now and it’s SO FREAKING GOOD. I love Dragos and Pia.


Tiger Striped (Shifters Unbound #11.5) by Jennifer Ashley.

A novella of the Shifters Unbound series

Tiger wakes in the night knowing someone distant is in trouble, and he feels a terrible pull to help. His mate, Carly, is not about to let him run off alone, and so Tiger takes her on a wild adventure for what proves to be the most important rescue mission of his life.

Holly: Tiger is my favorite character from this series. I’m crazy excited to see another novella featuring him.


Dirty Bastard (Roughneck Billionaires #3) by Jessica Clare.

Knox Price has always fallen short in comparison to his brothers. Boone is the ambitious one. Clay is the nice one. Gage is the handsome one. And Knox? Well, he’s the cynical one. The odd man out in the ultra-wealthy but rather unique Price family. It’s not that Knox hates people–it’s that humanity always disappoints him. When you become an oil-rich, Texan billionaire overnight, people treat you a certain way. Just once he’d like to meet someone that isn’t dazzled by his wallet.

Then, he meets struggling yoga teacher Lexi Brandon. She’s weird. She’s unpredictable and tends to say strange things. She lurks in the bushes and dresses in all black. She loves when people cross the street to get away from her. Lexi’s definitely not his type, but she’s also the first one to ever truly see him and not just another rich, dirty Price.

And that’s…fascinating. But how do you catch the interest of a woman who goes out of her way to be odd? When an unexpected surprise throws them both for a loop, Knox decides it’s time to get down and dirty, abandon the rules, and be who he truly is–a bastard.

Holly: I haven’t read the other books in the series, but this one sounds really good.


Rogues Rush In by Tessa Dare and Christi Caldwell.

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors Tessa Dare and Christi Caldwell come together in this smart, sexy, not-to-be-missed Regency Duet!

Two scandalous brides…
Two rogues who won’t be denied…

His Bride for the Taking by New York Times Bestselling author Tessa Dare
It’s the first rule of friendship among gentlemen: Don’t even think about touching your best friend’s sister. But Sebastian, Lord Byrne, has never been one for rules. He’s thought about touching Mary Clayton—a lot—and struggled to resist temptation. But when Mary’s bridegroom leaves her waiting the altar, only Sebastian can save her from ruin. By marrying her himself.

In eleven years, he’s never laid a finger on his best friend’s sister. Now he’s going to take her with both hands. To have, to hold…and to love.

His Duchess for a Day by USA Today Bestseller Christi Caldwell
It was never meant to be…
That’s what Elizabeth Terry has told herself while trying to forget the man she married–her once best friend. Passing herself off as a widow, Elizabeth has since built a life for herself as an instructor at a finishing school, far away from that greatest of mistakes. But the past has a way of finding you, and now that her husband has found her, Elizabeth must face the man she’s tried to forget.

It was time to right a wrong…
Crispin Ferguson, the Duke of Huntington, has spent the past years living with regret. The young woman he married left without a by-your-leave, and his hasty elopement had devastating repercussions. Despite everything, Crispin never stopped thinking about Elizabeth. Now that he’s found her, he has one request—be his duchess, publicly, just for a day.

Can spending time together as husband and wife rekindle the bond they once shared? Or will a shocking discovery tear them apart…this time, forever?

Holly: I just discovered Christi Caldwell. I enjoyed the novel I read and I’m looking forward to this novella. I love it when married couples come back together. Naturally Tessa Dare is Tessa Dare. Enough said.


Whiskey Sharp: Torn (Whiskey Sharp #3) by Lauren Dane.

Sometimes what you find isn’t what you were searching for

Beau Petty has been searching his whole life. Searching for a place that fills all the empty spaces in him. Searching for a way to tame the restlessness. Searching for answers to the secret he’s never stopped trying to solve. What he wasn’t searching for was a woman to claim all of him, but when Cora Silvera walks back into his life, he’s ready to search out all the ways he can make her his.

Cora has spent her life as the family nurturer, taking care of others. But now she’s ready to pass that job on to someone else. It’s time to make some changes and live for herself. It’s in that moment that her former teenage crush reappears and the draw and the heat of their instant connection is like nothing either of them has experienced. He craves being around her. She accepts him, dark corners and all.

Beau thinks Cora’s had enough drama in her life. He wants to protect her from the secrets of his past, even if it means holding back the last pieces of himself. But Cora is no pushover and she means to claim all those pieces.

Holly: I’m loving this series. I can’t wait to read Beau and Cora’s story.


Unlit (Kingdoms of Earth & Air #1) by Keri Arthur.

Winterborne has long been a city divided between those who have magic, and those who do not. Between those who are free, and those who are not…

Though classified as having no magic, Neve March can hear the whispers of the wind and sometimes even control her. But it’s a secret she must hold close if she wishes to continue as Nightwatch—the soldiers who guard Winterborne against those who roam the wastelands and feast on human flesh.

But when Neve investigates a faint SOS signal, she not only unearths a woman close to death, but a plot involving an ancient enemy long thought dead.

In an effort to expose those behind the plot, Neve goes undercover amongst Winterborne’s elite—a dangerous step that could expose her secret and rip away all that she holds dear.

But the trail of treachery leads her from Winterborne’s golden halls to the heart of the enemy’s hive, and it will shake her belief of not only who she is, but what she is

Holly: A new series from Keri Arthur! Hooray.


Royally Hung by Anne Marsh.

Fairy tales always have a Prince Charming and a bad guy. In real life, Prince Charming is the bad guy and his favorite happy ending is the big O.

I’m Prince Dare but you can call me Prince Charming. Cinderella never wanted the prince–she wanted a night out, a banging dress, and some midnight fun. I deliver that. I make being bad look way more fun than being good, and no one leaves my royal bed without a happy ending.

When my uncle, the reigning king of Vale, orders me to marry and offers to make me the heir to the throne, I’m thrown for a loop. I’m the spare, the extra, the free gift with purchase. I can’t be the hero and I won’t be the villain who knocks his brother off the throne, so I’ve come up with an evil plan of my own…

I’ll marry someone completely unsuitable to take myself out of the running. The only problem? My suitably unroyal bride is far too tempting to resist–Edee is funny, sweet, and sexy. And best of all, she’s American. It’s a great plan. Everything’s working out just fine until reality starts to intrude on my fantasy and for the first time ever, I wish fairy tales did come true.

Holly: I don’t think I’ve read this author before, but I love the sound of this one.


Song of Blood and Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1) by L. Penelope.

A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

Holly: This book is up next on my TBR. I love the premise.


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

In this entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Holly: Doesn’t this sound amazing? I love the glamour of old Hollywood.

Can y’all hear my bank account crying?

There you have it. The books that we’re looking forward to in May. Are there any books that we missed? What books are you excited for?


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WTF Cover Saturday (253)

Posted March 17, 2018 by Holly in Features | 4 Comments

WTFcoversaturday

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, y’all! To celebrate I’ve got a great St. Patrick’s Day themed cover for you. You’re welcome.

I found this bad boy while browsing Goodreads. Why are his boobs bigger than hers? Even better than the cover is the title:

St. Patrick’s Day Romance: Cheating Wife Black Interracial Hotwife Cuckold Pregnancy

I feel like the author was labeling this for P0rnhub instead of GR. Yikes.


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Retro Review: The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Posted June 28, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review: The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth HoytReviewer: Holly
The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Princes #3
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: September 1st 2007
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
five-stars

WHEN THE DEVIL MEETS AN ANGELCountry bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man - a naked unconscious man - and loses her innocence forever.
HE CAN TAKE HER TO HEAVENViscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he's hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities - even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.
OR TO HELLCharmed by Simon's sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has - her love.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on October 9, 2007.

Sybil forced me into reading this book. She swore it was the best thing since If His Kiss is Wicked, and talked me into buying it. There was some drama with Amazon over this book which may prompt me to write them a letter.

I ended up buying it in eBook format. I think it started out kind of slow, but once I got past the first couple of chapters, I fell right into it.

Lucy Craddock-Hayes is out for her morning walk and stumbles upon what she believes is a dead body..a dead naked body. As it turns out, he isn’t dead at all. He’s one Viscount Simon Iddesleigh and he’s been beaten to a pulp and left for dead.

Lucy takes him home and begins nursing him back to health. She’s very surprised to learn his identity and even more surprised to find that she likes him. He’s witty and sarcastic, but she sees depth in him and it intrigues her.

Eventually Simon is well enough to leave, but hesitates until he and Lucy are shot at. To keep Lucy safe, he heads back to London to do what he was doing before he ended up nearly dead in the country…avenge the death of his brother.

But he finds he can’t stay away from Lucy, and after a short period of time he returns to the country to ask for her hand in marriage. She immediately accepts. But once married and settled in London, the danger surrounding Simon begins to escalate and Lucy fears she’ll never be able to save him from his biggest threat…himself.

I’m honestly not sure how to review this book. There are so many things I want to touch on I’m not sure where to start or how to properly express my thoughts.

I think I’ll just make a list and go from there.

Simon

What an amazingly deep character. On the surface he has a devil-may-care attitude, but he showed so much more depth than I expected. He truly was tormented by the death of his brother and committed to his quest for revenge on those responsible. Each death was a stain on his soul.

The thing is, Simon wasn’t your typical Alpha hero. He was actually described as more Beta than anything, though I didn’t think of him as such. For example, he wore red heeled shoes and wigs and ruffles. Honestly, I think EH did a fabulous job representing the times. Too often we see men in nothing but breeches and boots, when that wasn’t in keeping with the style of that era. But despite his heeled shoes and wigs, I felt he was…manly. Although he put up the front of being reckless and one of the lazy ton, his character was deeper than that.

Watching his inner struggles and seeing his obvious care for Lucy was fabulous. I was well and truly emotionally invested in his journey. Although he knows he should let her go, he can’t. After one duel, before they’re married, he comes home wounded and bleeding. Lucy tries to get him into bed and he begs her to stay with him.

“Severe angel.” He finally opened his eyes, frost gray and intense. “Promise me. Promise me on your mother’s memory that you won’t leave me if I give you back your wings.”
She blinked and thought about it, but in the end there was really no other answer. “I promise you.”
He leaned closer until she could see the shards of ice in his eyes. “Say it.”
“I promise on my mother’s memory,” she whispered, “that I won’t leave you.”
“Oh, God.”
She didn’t know whether it was a curse or a prayer, but his mouth came down on hers hard.

….Lucy looked down at herself. Thee was a bloody hand print on the bodice of her dress.

Though Lucy becomes more important to him than anything else, he can’t give up his quest for vengeance. He struggles to do what’s right, although he isn’t sure what that is….Lucy’s idea of right is to stop killing, but he knows he needs to avenge his brother.

Lucy

I loved this heroine. She was rather unconventional for a historical heroine. Her childhood was a good one, so she didn’t suffer many of the issues so many others do. She wasn’t afraid of love or commitment, didn’t fear men and had a rather bright outlook on life that wasn’t at all annoying.

I don’t think there was much growth on Lucy’s part throughout the book, but I wasn’t disappointed by that. To be honest, her character was perfect as it was. Her personal conflict came from caring about Simon too much to watch him destroy himself, and that was her main focus. Could she truly love a man who was so violent? Who killed others in cold blood?

She sees the different sides of him, mainly with the help of Simon’s niece, whom he calls Pocket. She struggles to reconcile the cold-blooded killer with the simple, caring man.

Lucy stilled, imagining Simon comforting this little girl at his brother’s graveside, putting aside his own grief to explain in childish terms that her father wouldn’t suffocate in the ground. What a tender act. And what was she to do with this new side to Simon? It would be so much easier if he was simply a man who killed, someone who was callous and uncaring. But he wasn’t. He was a loving uncle, a man who tended roses all by himself in a glass cathedral. A man who acted like he needed her and made her promise never to leave him.
Never to leave him…

I truly enjoyed this book. It turned out to be much darker than I expected, which was a welcome surprise. As it turns out, there was a conspiracy involved in the murder plot, and Simon won’t rest until he’s tracked down every responsible party and killed them.

What Simon hasn’t realized – or doesn’t care to realize – is the toll this has taken on his soul. When he meets Lucy he’s fascinated by her innocence and light. But he knows he’s beyond redemption and that she’s not for him, so he does his best to resist her. And even after he decides he can’t live without her he hates himself for tainting her with his darkness, and yet he can’t seem to set her free.

Although the main focus of the book is on Simon and Lucy’s relationship, the secondary story of Simon’s quest for revenge is..amazing. Seeing Lucy fight for him, and seeing Simon fight for what he feels is right, is what truly made this story. I didn’t doubt for a moment that Lucy and Simon cared for each other, but I wasn’t at all sure love would be enough.

The ending of the book was just…amazing. I think I even cried a bit. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but if you’re interested, Sybil and Meljean Brook had a discussion about it here in the comments section.

You can also read Lawson’s review here. She did a better job than me of outlining the story and finer points of the characters, IMO.

Despite a few flaws I found with the story (if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m referring to..and if you haven’t, read it to find out) I have to give this:

5 out of 5

five-stars


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Retro Post: Fifty Shades of Grey is Not Romance

Posted June 21, 2017 by Holly in Discussions | 20 Comments

Retro Post: Fifty Shades of Grey is Not Romance

I (Casee) love this post. I have these books in my TBR pile. This is the second time this post has been reposted, but I feel that it is deserving. This post was originally posted in 2012 (when the books were published) and again in 2015 (when the movies were released).

It seems everyone is talking about Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. Whether you read it or didn’t, loved it or hated it, I bet you’ve either talked about it with someone or read about it somewhere. Maybe you only heard the title mentioned and know nothing else about it. Or maybe you’ve read it 18 times and can recite it line-by-line. Whatever the case, it’s out there.

First, let’s just get this out of the way: I read all three of these books in a day and a half. As soon as I finished the first one, I bought the second. Likewise with the third. I paid $9.99 PER BOOK for digital copies. It’s possible I was drunk at the time (or should have been). Especially while reading the third. That was just a big ball of WTF rolled up in 500-something pages.

There’s been a lot of criticism on many fronts for this trilogy. I’m not going to touch on the fanfic aspects, because frankly I know nothing about fanfic and I’d only come off sounding like a moron (if you’re interested, author Kate Davies posted an interesting piece about fanfic and Dear Author did an entire series about it) . I’m also not going to address the “mommy porn” label that’s been ascribed to these books. The term makes my head want to explode and I have too much to live for. I will say that “mommy porn” is insulting and it makes me want to punch someone in the junk (because I’m sure a man came up with that).

I would like to address two misconceptions that bother me greatly about this series.

This is a romance novel.

I disagree. While there are many similarities, what keeps this from being a romance in my book is the nature of the relationship between Christian and Ana, the main protagonists. Yes, it has many of the same tropes we find in romance: Billionaire, Tortured Alpha Hero becomes intrigued with Virginal, Malleable Heroine. She thinks she can save him and he only wants her for sex – but then becomes intrigued by her and decides he wants to keep her. On his terms, of course. Which she, naturally, doesn’t agree to. Much angst ensues. Until finally, Happily Ever After (complete with rainbows and unicorns a meadow full of wildflowers and mention of tasting breastmilk).

I know what you’re saying to yourself. You’re saying OMFG what do you MEAN tasting breastmilk??? “Gee, Holly, this sounds an awful lot like a romance novel to me.” And yes, I know on the surface it seems that way. But the truth is, at its core, this is a book about a sad, troubled man who tends toward being abusive and the woman who enables him in being this way.

After reading this trilogy I wanted to write a post titled Why Stalking Is Not OK. Actually, I still kind of want to write that post. But for now I’ll just say it here. Stalking Is Not OK.

I know some novels in recent years have glorified stalking. Most notably for me – probably because it’s marketed to young adults – is the Twilight franchise. But Edward sneaking into Bella’s room to watch her sleep without her knowing was nothing compared to this.

Let me outline a few examples for you.

A. Ana drunk dials Christian one night and he freaks out over the fact that she’s drunk and demands to know where she is. She hangs up on him. 15 minutes later he shows up at the bar. When questioned, he reveals he tracked her cell phone to find out where she was.

“How did you find me?”

“I tracked your cell phone, Anastasia.”

Oh, of course he did. How is that possible? Is it legal? Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me through the cloud of tequila that’s floating in my brain, but somehow, because it’s him, I don’t mind. (Grey p.57)

B.  Christian sends Ana gifts to and drives her home.  Only, she never mentioned where she lives, so how did he know?

“He pulls up outside my duplex. I belatedly realize he’s not asked me where I live – yet he knows. But then he sent the books, of course he knows where I live. What able, cell-phone-tracking, helicopter-owning stalker wouldn’t.” (Grey p.74)

C. He returns unexpectedly from a trip because she meets a friend for a drink instead of going straight home. Yes, he actually cancels a business trip because she met a friend. He specifically told her to go home and when she didn’t, he rushed home to spank scold her.

D. Despite having only known him for a few weeks, he knows her social security and bank account numbers. And he accesses them without her permission.

Now, Ana does call Christian out for his behavior. But she does it in a way that says she doesn’t think it’s a very big deal. Personally I would have stabbed him in the throat called the cops the very first time he said he used my cell phone to track my whereabouts 5 days after I met him. But that’s just me. Ana sort of laughs off most of the things he does. If she does become angry and points it out to him, he apologizes and she forgives him. And then he does it again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

As I was reading, I kept wondering in what world it’s ok to do the things he did. Were we, the readers, supposed to accept his behavior because Ana did? Or perhaps I was supposed to accept his behavior because he was just a sad little boy on the inside? One who was “Fifty shades of fucked-up” from the emotional and physical abuse he suffered as a child? Because that doesn’t work for me. Honestly, that just freaks me out even more. An unbalanced, self-proclaimed “fucked-up” guy is stalking me at my place of work, knows every detail about my life and follows me around town without my knowledge or permission? I don’t laugh it off and say “now, now, be a good boy”. I run screaming in the opposite direction.

This is a healthy, loving relationship.

No. This is a sad, destructive, abusive relationship. Over the course of the three novels it becomes slightly less destructive and abusive, but only slightly. When I finished the third book I did so with a heavy heart and a bad taste in my mouth. Yes, they are eminently readable. But they’re also depressing as hell.

The mind games and emotional bullying Christian indulges in to get his way; The fact that Ana seems more like a victim suffering from Stockholm Syndrome than a woman in a healthy, loving relationship. These are textbook signs of an abusive relationship. Cutting her off from her friends unless he’s with her or can control the environment she meets with them in, following her on a trip to see her mother even though she expressly asked for time alone to digest things, having her followed and spied on, buying her a computer and a Blackberry and a car, so he can get in touch with her whenever he wants, ordering for her and steamrolling her when she complains:

“Two glasses of the Pinot Grigio,” Christian says with a voice of authority. I purse my lips, exasperated.

“What?” he snaps.

“I wanted a Diet Coke,” I whisper.

His gray eyes narrow and he shakes his head.

“The Pinot Grigio here’s a decent wine. It will go well with the meal, whatever we get,” he says patiently.

“Whatever we get?”

“Yes.” He smiles his dazzling head-cocked-to-one-side smile, and my stomach pole vaults over my spleen. I can’t help but reflect his glorious smile back at him.

These are not signs of a healthy relationship. That Ana tolerated this behavior – and even excused it, or worse, came to enjoy it – does not make it okay.

I think the worst part, however, is the way he casually dismisses her feelings. Especially in the beginning when it comes to being a submissive. The first time he spanks her, she’s very upset afterward. She tells him she felt demeaned and abused. His response?

So you felt demeaned, debased, abused & assaulted – how very Tess Durbeyfield of you. I believe it was you who decided on the debasement, if I remember correctly. Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this: Two very different things. If that is how you feel, do you think you could just try and embrace these feelings, deal with them, for me? That’s what a submissive would do.

And naturally, she’s thrilled he thinks of himself as hers, and brushes aside the fact that he’s told her to get over her feelings and let him humiliate and debase her.

As the series continues, Ana learns to stand up for herself a bit more and Christian learns to give in to her occasionally – oh wait, no. That didn’t actually happen. The author told us that’s what happened, but the actions of the characters didn’t change a whit.  Christian still ordered Ana about, cutting her off from her friends and managing her life whether she liked it or not. And she let him.

This does not a romance novel make.

Are these books very readable? Yes. Are they enjoyable? I would say no, but I think that depends on the individual person reading them. Are they romance novels? Not even a little bit.

Fifty Shades of Grey is not a romance.

*I made some minor editorial changes to the revised post


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Retro Review: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Posted May 31, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 8 Comments

Retro Review: Twilight by Stephenie MeyerReviewer: Tracy
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Series: Twilight #1
Also in this series: Eclipse, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, Breaking Dawn, Twilight, Twilight

Publication Date: July 18th 2007
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 544
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
five-stars

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: Ah, the Twilight craze. This book is responsible for a lot of young adults becoming steady readers – and a lot of adult women losing their mind over fake characters. Good times. 

This review was originally published April 20, 2008

So yesterday I took my oldest daughter to a birthday party and dropped her off. It was either sit and watch her go down huge inflatable slides (um, no thanks) or mosey around the nearest store since I had forgotten to bring a book (I know, what was I thinking?). So I drove to Target and immediately went to the book section. The very first book I see is Twilight. My friend Christine raves about this book but I had never read YA before so I hadn’t really given much thought to reading this one. I grabbed it off of the shelf but still looked around. Nothing else seemed to grab me so I bought Twilight, sat down in the food court and started reading.

ok – how stupid am I? Don’t answer that! When I put off reading books that people tell me that are great and then I finally read them that’s the first question I have to ask myself. I should know by now that my “book” friends just don’t steer me in the wrong direction! Example: books I’ve put off reading then kicked my self afterward: Dark Lover by JR Ward and the rest of the BDB series, the Dark-Hunter Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy – you see the pattern.

That being said – I LOVED Twilight. I thought that it was a charming, sweet love story that had adventure & humor. Can you ask for more? Bella’s thoughts (and of course her dry humor and sarcasm) as she moves to a new town and starts a new school were so familiar to me since my family moved a lot up until I was about 20. Because of that I was immediatly drawn into the story and then just couldn’t put the book down.

I don’t think I’ll be putting off reading these highly recommended books any longer. And I certainly won’t not read a book just because it’s labeled YA.

Rating: A+/ 5

five-stars


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