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Sunday Spotlight: The Score by Elle Kennedy

Posted January 10, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 11 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a new feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release that we’re excited about. We’ll be posting exclusive excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. :)

Sunday Spotlight

Rowena: I am completely obsessed with this series. It’s one of my favorite series that I started last year and I seriously cannot get enough. You guys, this book comes out tomorrow!!

We’re getting Dean’s book and I’ve got to be honest, when I found out that Kennedy was writing Dean’s book next, I was a little bummed since I wanted Tucker’s book but I’ve been reading a lot of excerpts and teasers around and I’m super stoked to read this book now.

Dean is another roommate of both Garrett and Logan. He plays hockey with them and he’s a huge playboy. He’s a fan of sex with multiple partners in the living room of the off campus apartment that he shares with Garrett, Logan and Tuck…and he’s rich. I’m wondering how all of that is going to play out, what kind of person Dean really is behind that quick smile and even quicker wit.

When I found out that his heroine is Allie, Hannah’s (from The Deal) bestie and roommate, I was super excited. I really liked her in The Deal. I thought she was a great friend to Hannah and I’m mighty curious to see what happened to her relationship with frat boy Sean. What brings these two together?

I can’t wait to find out!

The Score
The Score (Off Campus #3) by Elle Kennedy
Releases on January 11, 2016 by Elle Kennedy

Pre-Order the Book:


He knows how to score, on and off the ice

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di-Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.

Awww, Dean shows up at Allie’s apartment to cheer her up?

I’m sure that’s not the only thing he was hoping to do once he got there. Let’s dig into this excerpt, shall we?


“Hey there, baby doll.” He flashes a grin and barrels his way inside. “Wellsy said you were sulking, so I stopped by to turn your frown upside down.”

“I’m not sulking,” I grumble.

“Even better. Saves me from having to do any work.” He unzips his jacket and tosses it on the arm of the couch. Then he strips off his sweater, leaving him in nothing but faded blue jeans.

I stare at him in disbelief. “Did you really just take off your shirt?”

“Yeah. I don’t like shirts.”

He doesn’t like shirts.

This guy…goddamn it, I don’t even know what I think of him.

He turns toward the sofa, and the way his tight butt moves beneath the snug denim reminds me of how firm it felt when I squeezed it. Then he lowers his long body on the sofa cushions, which causes the denim to stretch over his package, and now I’m reminded of the way my mouth had watered when Dean’s cock was filling it.

“Oh yeah, suck it, baby. Suck it like you own it.”

The raspy command echoes in my mind. My lips start to tingle, because damn it, I had sucked it. I’d sucked it like it was a lollipop and an ice cream cone and every other delicious treat imaginable, all rolled up in one hard cock.

Crap, I think I might be blushing, which is confirmed when Dean winks at me. Does he know I’m thinking about blowing him?

What am I even saying? Of course he does. A guy like Dean probably assumes that everyone, at all times, is thinking about blowing him.

He stretches one arm along the back of the couch and beckons me with the other. “You sitting or what?”

“I’ll stand, thanks.”

“Aw, come on. I don’t bite.”

“Yes, you do.”

Those green eyes twinkle. “You’re right. I do.”

He looks way too comfortable sitting there on my couch. A blond Adonis with his golden chest and sculpted muscles and perfectly chiseled face. If the hockey thing doesn’t work out for him, he ought to consider going into modeling. Dean Di Laurentis oozes sexuality. He could slap his face on a laxative label and every woman in the world would be praying for constipation just to have an excuse to buy it.

“Seriously, Allie-Cat, sit down. You’re starting to make me feel unwelcome.”

“You aren’t welcome,” I sputter. “I was having a perfectly nice evening until you showed up.”

He looks hurt, but I don’t know if it’s genuine or if he’s putting it on. I suspect it’s the latter. “You really don’t like me, huh?”

This is me right now…

I didn’t think I could be any more excited for tomorrow. I know what I’ll be doing once I download this book to my iPad. grin

Off-Campus Series

Giveaway: We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of January’s features.

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Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re excited for this year!

Elle Kennedy

A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle writes romantic suspense and erotic contemporary romance for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Five Books Everyone Should Read: Reader Tori of Smexy Books

Posted November 29, 2015 by Holly in Features | 2 Comments

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

Today we have Tori from Smexy Books here to share her list of five books. Her list includes a couple I wish I’d included in my own list.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now….

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

I first read this when I was bored and stuck at a symposium with my mom. She handed it to me and told me to stop annoying her. This dystopian speculative fiction tells the story of a young woman’s life (from her POV) in a Christian totalitarian society after they overthrew the U.S. government. Everyone should read this book; especially those who don’t see the attempted subjugation of women by certain government parties as an issue we are facing right now. Atwood writes a poignant yet curiously disconnected story that shows the use of religion to justify the systematic repression of rights and individualism (using language and patriotic fervor) to force people into tidy little boxes labeled duties and to cull the herd to make persecution of undesirables easier. It shows the subtle rebellions that will almost always occur when a group of people are left with little to nothing. It’s as if Atwood looked into the future and wrote us a prophetic warning.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
2. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

A teen plunges into a downward spiral of addiction in this classic cautionary tale.

January 24th

After you’ve had it, there isn’t even life without drugs….

It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth — and ultimately her life.

Read her diary.

Enter her world.

You will never forget her.

For thirty-five years, the acclaimed, bestselling first-person account of a teenage girl’s harrowing decent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left an indelible mark on generations of teen readers. As powerful — and as timely — today as ever, Go Ask Alice remains the definitive book on the horrors of addiction

I read this as a teenager and it impacted my life. This presumed diary chronicles a young girl’s descent into drugs, addiction, and eventual death. Raw, poignant, and heartbreaking, her voice cuts deep into you as she opens the doorway to the realities of drug addiction and the serious consequences that occur because of it. She touches on the difficulties of adolescence and the extreme pressures one must deal both socially and personally. You feel her confusion, sorrow, and happiness, and eventual acceptance. Even with it’s dated references, it maintains a classic presence.

Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
3. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon

Don’t miss the thrilling novel from #1 New York Times bestselling award-winning author Robert McCammon, in a book that Publishers Weekly calls “both a mystery that will satisfy the most finicky aficionado and a boisterous travelogue.”

Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson—a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake—and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible vision of death that will haunt him forever.

As Cory struggles to understand his father’s pain, his eyes are slowly opened to the forces of good and evil that are manifested in Zephyr. From an ancient, mystical woman who can hear the dead and bewitch the living, to a violent clan of moonshiners, Cory must confront the secrets that hide in the shadows of his hometown—for his father’s sanity and his own life hang in the balance.

Southern fiction that appeals to the imaginative child in all of us. An entertaining coming of age story wrapped in an engaging veneer of mysticism, mystery, and love. The narrative is that of a young boy named Cory. We watch him as he struggles to understand the undercurrents of racism, jealousy, and murder that has infiltrated his life and his beloved small town. I love the blending of realism and fantasy that McCammon uses to help Cory. From a voodoo queen with a secret recipe for courage to a monster who lives in the local canal and demands tribute, McCammon shows us the joy and sorrow of life through the eyes of a child.

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
4. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

This is Book 1 of the Time Quintet Series

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

This coming of age story revolves around a young girl trying to cope with being the oddball in a family of extremely talented geniuses. I do believe this may have been my first time reading science fiction. The story is unique not just for the fantastical subject matter, outstanding world building, and realistic characters but because it had a female protagonist (Meg Murry) in a science fiction novel which was almost unheard of at that time. I loved the many sides of Meg Murray. Her fearlessness. Her need to question the world around her. Her unwillingness to change in order to fit in. Her unfailing love for her family. Meg never gave up, no matter how many times someone tried to convince her she was a failure. To this day it remains one of my most treasured childhood reads.

Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
5. Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

Enough time has passed for the young girl Jaenelle, heir to the magical Darkness, for her physical wounds to heal, while amnesia keeps her frightening memories at bay. But with Saetan–a Black-Jewelled Warlord Prince and Jaenelle’s foster-father–to protect her, she will continue to grow. Her magic will mature. Her memories will return. And Jaenelle will face her destiny when she remembers Daemon, Saetan’s son, who made the ultimate sacrifice for her love….

Dark fantasy at its finest; I reread (the series) at least once a year. The second book in Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy is the most exciting and outstanding of the three in my opinion. Though I do recommend reading the entire trilogy for a story that will elicit the strongest of emotions from you-love, laughter, fear, hope, hatred, and soul-crushing heartbreak. It’s strong modern base blends well with the fantasy, giving us a world that mirrors ours in some ways yet differs in others. For me it embodies everything a book should have. Adventure, romance, laughter, sorrow, action, suspense, ordinary events, unforgettable characters, and an arc that leaves you enthralled. I honestly don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to express just how much I love this series.

About Tori:

I am a biblio-bimbo, booze hound, and blasphemer who reviews for SmexyBooks, Heroes & Heartbreakers, and RT Book Reviews. I support mediocrity because we can’t all be 5 stars.

Visit her on the web: SmexyBooks | Twitter | Goodreads

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Movie Review: The DUFF

Posted March 3, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Rowena’s review of The DUFF, the Movie.

Bianca is a content high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body knows her as ‘The DUFF’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends. Now, despite the words of caution from her favorite teacher, she puts aside the potential distraction of her crush, Toby, and enlists Wesley, a slick but charming jock, to help reinvent herself. To save her senior year from turning into a total disaster, Bianca must find the confidence to overthrow the school’s ruthless label maker Madison and remind everyone that no matter what people look or act like, we are all someone’s DUFF.

After discussing movie reviews with Holly, we decided that we’re going to start reviewing the books that were turned into movies here on Book Binge and this is the very first movie review that I’m going to write.

Over the weekend I took my niece Makaela out for her birthday and she wanted to see this so I rallied up the troops and we made the 4:40 showing at our local theater. I thought the theater would be a lot more crowded than it was and that surprised me because the other teeny bopper books turned movies had bigger crowds than this movie did.

I read the book before watching the movie so I already knew that the movie was going to be different (you can tell from the movie trailer just how different the book was from the movie) so I wasn’t expecting to like the movie as much as I did the book but I did.

Bianca has two gorgeous and popular best friends in Jess and Casey. They’re into fashion and they’re hot stuff but they love Bianca so she never really paid much attention to how much more gorgeous they are than she is until her next door neighbor, Wesley Rush calls her their D.U.F.F.

DUFF stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend and Bianca isn’t at all happy that Wes has enlightened her on her DUFF status. This status bothers her so much that she obsesses over it and she goes through the five stages of grief throughout the movie. You know, denial and sadness and anger and well, you get the idea. The only way that she thinks she could get over her obsession is to reinvent herself and who does she go to for help?

Wesley Rush, of course.

Wesley needs help passing science so they agree on a swap (after Bianca asks in Monster voice, ha!) of services and the movie really takes off.

I really enjoyed the movie. I thought it was cute and fun and every single kid that I took to see this movie agreed with me. They loved it. They thought it was hilarious and immediately after the movie, they were trying to figure out who the DUFFs were in their circle of friends. They all wanted to be the DUFFs too, which I thought was funny.

The casting of the characters was pretty great, IMO. I adored Robbie Amell as Wesley Rush (and so did every single girl that went to see the movie with me) and I thought that Mae Whitman was a great Bianca. Madison was a new character (not from the book) and she was a great villain because I wanted to punch her every time she released a video that embarrassed Bianca and I wanted Bianca to punch her every ten minutes (at least). Ken Jeong and Romany Malco had me cracking up every time they came on screen and overall, it was just a fun movie.

My favorite scene in the movie was probably the scene where Bianca shows Wes her Think Rock. That whole scene had me cracking up because, well it’s a good scene. You’ll just have to take my word for it..until you watch the movie yourself. :)

I will definitely be getting this movie on DVD and I’ll probably watch this one every time it comes on cable.

Grade 4 out of 5

Movie Trailer

This movie was released by CBS Films. I bought my own ticket to see this movie in the theater with my kids.

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Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Posted March 3, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Rowena’s review of The DUFF by Kody Keplinger.

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

I read this book right before the movie came out in theaters because, well, that’s just something that I like to do. I finished the book and thought it was pretty good. The difference between the movie and the book was that the movie focused more on the label DUFF than I thought the book did. The book, to me, was more of a contemporary YA romance between Wes Rush and Bianca Piper and that’s fine. I enjoyed their romance.

So this book follows Bianca Piper as she tries to deal with problems at home. Mainly, her Mom being away for a long time and her Dad struggling with trying to stay sober when the love of his life (her Mom) wants a divorce. Bianca isn’t equipped to deal with her Dad’s alcohol issues and what she feels at first as her Mom’s abandonment so to escape her problems, she jumps into a f*ck buddy relationship with the school man-slut, Wesley Rush. The guy that called her, The DUFF.

I call it a f*ck buddy relationship and not a friends with benefits relationship because Bianca HATES Wes. She hates that he’s a man-whore and she hates pretty much everything about him but when she kisses him and then continues to kiss him and then sex him, it allows her to escape everything that waits for her at home. So she does him every chance that she can and in between all of the sex (there’s a lot of sex in this contemporary YA book), they get to know each other and as much as Bianca wants to fight it, she develops feelings for Wesley and that screws her all up because her real crush, the guy that she absolutely loves? Toby Tucker? Yeah, he starts showing interest in her.

For a DUFF, she sure did get a lot of action in this book. Ha.

This book was well written and it was mature (what with all of the casual sex being had throughout the book) but still a lot of fun. Bianca was a great main character with a very likable voice (even when she was getting on my nerves) and I thought that Wes was a total dick but he completely grew on me as the story wore on. It was a quick read and it was a lot of fun too. I liked it but if you watched the movie and want to read the book, don’t expect the same story because you aren’t going to get it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Poppy. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

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Redeux: Fifty Shades of Grey is Not Romance

Posted February 15, 2015 by Holly in Features | 18 Comments

This post* was originally published in 2012. With the movie releasing this weekend, it seemed appropriate to dust it off and repost it. I have not yet seen the movie. Truthfully, I’m not sure I will. I did read all three books, however. These are my thoughts once I finished them.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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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Review: Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

Posted January 19, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

perfect couple
Rowena’s review of Perfect Couple (Superlatives #2) by Jennifer Echols.

Perfect Couple is #2 in the Superlatives series about seniors at a Florida high school who are selected for their class’s superlative categories in the yearbook, and how the labels change the way they view themselves and alter the course of their lives.

Can your heart be put to a popular vote?

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for capturing those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents’ bitter divorce has left her wondering what a loving relationship would look like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody the “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been on her case to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack in female admirers, but Harper can’t see herself with him. He seems confused about why they were matched together, too. They’re total opposites—the last people in the world who would ever be compatible, let alone the “perfect couple.” Yet ever since the class paired the two of them, they’ve found themselves drawn together–first by curiosity, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they’re very attracted to each other and both of them admit this, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating clearly. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But after they walk away, both of them feel so changed from making the effort that they can’t forget each other. What if that means this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?

This is the second book in the Superlatives series. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read the book or not but requested it, just in case I did. It took me a while but I finally got this one read and all I can say is that I’m glad I did because it was such a super cute read and the perfect read to pick up after being knee deep in paranormal romances.

Harper is Tia’s (from Book 1) friend and Brody Larson is the starting Quarterback for their school football team. The senior class voted Harper and Brody, the Perfect Couple that Never Was. Harper is shocked since she has absolutely nothing in common with him. He’s sociable and an athlete and she’s a photographer who would rather spend her time alone but none of that matters when she’s by herself with her huge crush on him. He doesn’t see her like that because he’s with the beautiful and blonde Grace but when the more they talk, the more interested they are in each other.

This was a quick read about two high school seniors that weren’t meant to be together until they were together. I thought it was such a cute story and if I had a complaint about the book it would have been I wish we had gotten inside Brody’s head. We only get Harper’s POV and I think the story would have benefited more from dual perspectives. Oh, well.

The book was still cute. Harper was a great heroine who acted the way a normal teenager would act. She was strong and when she decides that she’s had enough with letting others dictate her life, she becomes even more awesome. I loved the person that she was with Brody. She starts off really shy around him and Echols did a great job of showcasing the growth of their relationship. They didn’t jump into a relationship right after it was announced that they were the perfect couple that never was. Their relationship grew over time and it was genuine and real. I ate it all up.

Brody was a great love interest. I loved that when things got hard, he didn’t let Harper off the hook. He didn’t let her walk all over him. He made her make a decision and I liked that. I liked that Harper didn’t let up on herself as well. She knew when she made mistakes and she apologized when she was being an idiot. You certainly see the growth that both characters go through with this book and really, I just had fun with this whole book.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series. I hope Kaye gets that giant stick out of her butt where Sawyer is concerned and I hope that he finally mans up and goes after what he really wants. I liked them as characters and am pretty anxious for their story. It was good to see the gang back together again and to see Tia and Will doing well together. I liked their book and really enjoyed this book as well. I have every faith that I’m going to enjoy the heck out of Most Likely to Succeed. I think fans of Jennifer Echols will find this new addition to her back list a delight. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Simon Pulse. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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