Tag: Katalina Leon

Nice Package by Katalina Leon

Posted February 5, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Judith‘s review of Nice Package by Katalina Leon.

Christmas chaos is over at the Emersons’ house, but the real holiday fun is just beginning when Jim presents Cora with a big, beautiful gift box she’s forbidden to open.

What’s in the crimson mystery box?

Cora finds out, slowly, over a twenty-four-hour period. The box contains tantalizing toys, temptations, tricky games, and an invitation to an erotic adventure at a mountain lodge that will refresh their marriage and bond them as lovers. If Cora can endure one hellaciously prolonged tease, she’s really going to enjoy getting a nice package.

Having read and reviewed several other works by this author I was excited to have the opportunity to read and review this holiday novella.  It is a story that is written specifically with Christmas in mind, but even so, there are aspects of the story that are also timeless.

Jim and Cora have now gotten through the holiday madness and they have their house all to themselves once more.  They have been married for some years, and while they love each other and their marriage is solid, they are experiencing just a bit of the “ho-hum” everyone feels when they settle into the routine of living with the same person for extended years. They have become a busy family with job and family and as a result, they haven’t had nearly as much time to spend just with each other.   While exchanging gifts, Jim presents Cora with a very special mystery gift, one that contains lots of surprises and which will be opened over the next 24 hours.  The process will also involve a trip to a mountain lodge that where they can really get away, and where more of these erotic surprises will be revealed.  
Jim and Cora sound like really delightful people, a couple that are genuine in their affection for one another and both with giving hearts and generous spirits.  I liked them both immediately.  Jim is a dominant male and Cora enjoys being submissive.  It seems to free her from her burdens of having to make so many decisions in the household and in regards to the kids and their lives.  Yet this is where I begin to get just a bit irritated with this situation.  I know that Jim is delaying giving Cora sexual satisfaction because he wants her to have maximum pleasure from their mutual experience.  But he just keeps stringing her along.  I mean really stringing her along . . . so much so that he keeps her in a state of constant wanting while she sees to his “needs” several times.  After about 12 hours of this, I was really wondering why this lady put up  with this.  Who wants to be this miserable and uncomfortable for this long?
At the mountain lodge Jim and Cora encounter the “keepers” of the lodge who are a bit mysterious, and I am not really sure the full extent of how they fit in this story.  Certainly there are opportunities for Jim and Cora to be alone together and to pursue this mystery journey of erotic renewal for their relationship.  The inn keepers are both master tatoo artists–sort of an avocation, really–and I realize that not only must Cora relinquish some of her control issues, but there are also a couple of situations where Jim, a very successful CEO, can learn to release some of his control issues as well.  It is here that the story starts getting a bit difficult for me to follow.  Now I admit that this may not the case if I go back and re-read it, but first time around I was not really getting the story very well.  I got the feeling that there was some sort of sub plot here that I wasn’t getting, and that probably says more about me than about the story.  But for me, this is where things started to unravel.
Ultimately I think these two people found a new levels of understanding and connection because of this experience.  And I always like to see that in romance fiction.  Like all Leon stories it is not simple and I always look for the challenge.  I just don’t think she did as well crafting this story as she has several others I have read.  That is not to say she is a bad writer.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  She seems to be especially talented at writing about situations that are out of the ordinary, a quality of her work I have always appreciated.  
So I hope you will read this novella–it may very well be one of your favorites.  I am going to re-read it and see if I can unravel the story just a little bit better.  
In the meantime, I give this work a 3.75 out of 5.

This book is available from Ellora’s Cave. You can buy it here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Owned By Rome by Katalina Leon

Posted August 15, 2010 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 7 Comments

On the edge of the Roman Empire, Queen Boudica’s rebellion has ended. A time of great tragedy has passed. Atellus, a Roman magistrate living in Gaul, discovers he’s no longer sympathetic to Rome and must now quesdtion every facet of his life.

A cunning Celtic woman with golden red hair arrives in the slave markets, defiant and angry, a danger to anyone foolish enough to purchase her. As punishment for her willfulness, she is to be offered as a sexual favor to Roman guests at a lavish feast and put to death for their entertainment.

For Atellus, it is love at first sight. He wants to own her. They embark on an erotically turbulent journey through a lonely Celtic forest. He suspects his beautiful slave is harboring a painful secret and must never again speak her true name. She is Celtic royalty–the last of her kind.

In the heart of the forest, strong-willed lovers clash, fall in love and catch a glimpse of what the future can be if both can learn to trust and forgive.

This is another Wow! book from Katalina Leon, and having read several of her other books, I am not surprised. It is a step back into a time and culture about which contemporary readers seldom have the background to understand. That is not to put down contemporary romance readers; it is just a awareness that in our democratic identity, most American readers struggle with the realities of slavery as it existed nearly 2,000 years ago. The heroine is a beautiful, well-endowed, strong, and bitter woman. She has become a part of the spoils of war and her identity as a human being is gone. She is now property. And yet, she still knows that she is a person, a woman of power and worth, too proud to acquiese to the demeaning life into which she has been forced, willing to accept death rather than become manageable and used.

Even Atellus is bound by his culture–no surprise here. Even though he is smitten with her he still sees her within the context of a slave/master relationship as an amatrix of love slave, given to him to satisfy his physical needs. There is no doubt that historically many Roman men formed very strong and powerful bonds with their love slaves, yet these women were still slaves and lived or died at the whim of their masters. Rutila (not her true name but the one given her by her Roman captors), the Celtic slave, was unwilling to be one. She was prepared to kill any Roman who placed her in such a relationship and thus it was decreed that her last earthly act was to be gang raped and then killed–all while she was drugged to prevent any negative response on her part. Nice people, those Romans!! Even after Atellus rescues her from the slave market, even though their first night spent together is during her drugged state, Rutila is determined to escape Rome’s clutches, even if it meant killing Atellus. Ultimately she has to make some decisions about whether she will more highly value her bitterness and anger, or will she see in Atellus a man who is honorable and whose values are not those of Rome, a man who sees her with the eyes of love.

Yet we still see in Atellus a man of honor, who faced the reality that his brother and sister-in-law were not nice people, were driven by greed and political ambition, and were willing even to cheat him–a member of their family and a Roman magistrate– and the Empire to gain their goals. He was a man that saw what Rome was becoming, and when it was all laid out before him, was supremely happy to be away from the centers of the Empire’s notice and power. He was a man who began to value Rutila as a person, a woman of personal determination–not just stubbornness–and who may or may not ever return his love. He was a loving father and a person who saw worth even in the serfs who worked the land, these were worthy of his regard and care.

In the midst of a society where only the upper classes were deemed persons of worth, two people come together in anger and bitterness, but also in love. How they reach some sort of resolution is the gist of this story. There is pain, hurt, anger, violence, betrayal and personal disappointment galore in this tale. There are no Elysian Fields here. Yet in spite of this backdrop of human emotions and the worst that people can do to one another emerges values, feelings, and a relationship that warm and encourage the human heart.

Katalina Leon brings a proven track record of literary and writing expertise to the telling of this story. She has crafted a plot that comes right out of the history books, but she has given birth to characters that are genuine and believable, exhibiting both the worst and the best of humanity. She has written in such a way that there will be few readers who read this story and are not deeply touched by the emotions and feelings of these ancient persons. Yet their story, while not set in contemporary contexts, still calls to all of us. Today there are still people of prejudice and greed, motivated by political and personal ambition, who pick up and discard others for their own selfish ends. There are still people of honor who refuse to go along with the status quo and who are able to see and appreciate people of all social strata as persons of worth. There are people who must endure the bitterness of disappointment and possibly abuse, and others who reach out to them in love and trust.

I liked this story very much. I own up to a particular liking for ancient history and thus stories set in those times are of particular interest to me. But I liked best that even in the ancient Roman context, the nature of human relationship was explored, and while this is labeled as erotic romance, it has great worth purely as historical fiction and as a work that can and will bring readers face to face with the deeper issues of life and love.

I give this book a 4.25 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr. J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Ellora’s Cave. You can buy it here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Beautiful Stranger by Katalina Leon

Posted June 9, 2010 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 3 Comments

Judith’s review of Beautiful Stranger by Katalina Leon

Lily Fontaine is a newscaster and former beauty queen, but those roles don’t suit her anymore. She’s healing from divorce and ready to make big changes in her life, but first she needs her sexual confidence back.

She wants an affair without the risk of heartbreak and considers hiring a male escort as a special treat for herself. Her best friend offers a provocative solution to her request. On her birthday, Lily returns to New Orleans, the place of her birth, to meet a special man. She is set to meet David, a man who is 11 years her junior but who is “hot”, intelligent, and knows how to take charge. The attraction is instantaneous. Scarcely looking back, Lily sheds her old life and follows a beautiful stranger into bayou country for the adventure of a lifetime.

It is not usual that one encounters romance novels that are built around an older woman. That is not to say that they aren’t “out there,” but it is not something that is often encountered. Lily Fontaine, however, is a woman in her mid-40’s and who has been a successful news anchor in the Los Angeles television media. However, in a world of nubile young 20-something entertainers and television personalities, Lily is recognizing that her employers are moving her to time slots that are further and further away from Prime Time. She is also aware that her personal life is in the tank, so to speak—that her divorce, while timely and necessary, has taken the total romantic wind out of her sails. She is feeling used up and discarded, and she knows she needs to do something to regain her personal stride in the world.

Lily’s producer is a woman who is also getting tired of being pushed aside, even with all her success and expertise. She is more aware than most that Lily, her best friend, has lost her verve and she believes that a young man she knows in New Orleans can re-ignite Lily’s love of life—and of love itself. While Lily was the one to propose hiring a “date” for herself, she is somewhat apprehensive about the arrangements her friend has talked her into. Yet when she and David begin to get acquainted over dinner and in spite of a very upending run-in with Lily’s ex, their attraction and mutual desire for one another moves them beyond their personal issues into an erotic affair that steams up the reading glasses of anyone who wades into this tale.

This is a beautifully written love story. It is very introspective – the reader is really taken on a tour of Lily’s inner struggles with her aging, her career, and most of all, her need to feel alive and desirable once more. She struggles with society’s negative take on younger men with older women. Yet David is kind and caring, respectful and open to her in a way a man has not been for a very long time. He is more concerned with her needs and desires than with his own. She is almost “blown away” when she recognizes that without any financial incentive, David wants to please her most of all.

This story is also about what it means to “come home” – to get back to one’s geographical roots as a metaphor for getting back to basics in one’s values and one’s confidence in oneself as a vibrant, loving, caring, worthy woman. It is about risk taking, about opening oneself up to possibilities that are scary and which may even be terrifying, especially if one has lived a “closed off” kind of life.

I liked this story a lot – lots of romance, to be sure, possibly more than usual, but under all the physical attraction is the stuff of which authentic loving is made. Lily is like so many women who feel “over the hill” and this writer has written a loving story to convince them that there are “miles to go before we sleep.”

I give this story a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

This book is available from Ellora’s Cave. You can buy it here in e-format.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place

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