Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A Review of Reapers Property by Joanna Wylde

Reaper's Property (Reapers MC, #1)
Reaper's Property by Joanna Wylde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If this doesn't get your pulse racing then you don't have one.

Marie leaves her abusive husband and moves in with her brother who is involved with a motorcycle gang. She is immediately attracted to delicious gang member Horse (and who wouldn't be?), and wouldn't you know it—he gets his nickname for a very good reason...

Reapers Property is very well written. Although this is not BDSM it is definitely written for that kind of audience as the dominance of the hero may make some readers a little uncomfortable. I enjoyed reading Reapers Property very much. The sex is some of the best I've read and it's definitely edgy.

It's worth noting that as in the style of BDSM the hero continues to push the heroine past her boundaries, blackmailing her into sex and getting her to engage in one particular act I'm not entirely convinced she was comfortable with—although she ended up enjoying it. If slightly rapey hero's are not your thing keep this in mind.

Horse is redeemed by virtue of the fact he is trying to protect Marie for the most part. He also helps Marie pursue her own ambitions which reduces some of the controlling possessiveness of the situation. The fact that this centers around a criminal bike gang excuses the 'ownership' nature of the relationship as it would be similar to a werewolf pack type scenario.

Is it for you?
IF YOU LOVE: Alpha dominant Hero's, scorching sex, a fantastically well endowed hero, and 'ownership' type scenarios then you will love this.
IF YOU HATE: Helpless heroines, pushy hero's, blackmail situations then you may not enjoy.

Rating = 4 out of 5
Characters 3
Plot 4
Voice 4
LOVE factor 5

View all my reviews

Monday, 12 August 2013

A Review of A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton

For the most part I enjoyed A Kiss of Shadows. Merry is a part fey in hiding in the human world. The beginning was great. There was mystery, cases to solve, people out to get her but she wasn't sure who. As the book progressed things got a little murkier...she was getting it on with some hot fey, but there were some super, super creepy moments. Think tentacle sex...

Much of the plot seemed contrived so Merry had to continue her sexcapades (but I'm not opposed to sex for convenience) so that might bother some people. To be honest I felt there were a few plot contradictions when it came to why and when, Fae can and can't use magic.

It's gritty and sexy and Laurell K. Hamilton has clearly set this up to continue (especially the sex) in the remainder of the series.

Is it for you?
IF YOU LOVE: In the end people who like dark UF Romance will like this.
IF YOU HATE: Creepy sex, then avoid this.

Rating = 4 out of 5
Characters 4
Plot 3
Voice 4
LOVE factor 4

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Review of Captive in the dark by CJ Roberts

Caleb is a sex-slave trainer whose plan for revenge involves kidnapping a beautiful young American virgin to train for auction. Olivia wakes to find herself kidnapped by Caleb whom she is unwillingly attracted to despite her fear.

The hardest thing about reviewing any book is remembering how subjective the reading experience is. This is why I always have the 'is it for you' section. There is a big difference for me between saying a book is poorly written/executed and saying I didn't enjoy it. On one hand, I couldn't stop reading this (a clear sign of a great book), but at the same time I did not want to. In fairness maybe I should have expected what was coming when the book clearly indicates it is about the sex trafficking trade, and constrains disturbing situations but I was still shocked by the brutality. 

I read a few reviews where people said things like "really sexy sex scenes", or described it as BDSM. I find this misleading. I have read quite a bit of BDSM and the motto of the BDSM community is "Safe, Sane, and CONSENSUAL". Even if characters don't always enjoy what is happening in BDSM, it is a far cry from non-consensual rape. I just feel it is important to make that distinction to anyone who may read this. It is very dark erotica.

The heroine Olivia is tortured and sodomised against her will by Caleb. While at times she is forced to feel pleasure, for the most part she is distressed, afraid and unwilling. While this is a 'deal breaker' for me in terms of investing in the romance, it was a roller-coaster ride of emotion that had me desperate to find out what would happen to Olivia. 

What this book does have going for it is Olivia's reactions were actually very believable. It is not one of those books where when the heroine actually really enjoys her capture and just resists for the sake of pride. You get the whole spectrum of emotion here. 

I won't say don't read this, I won't say you won't enjoy it. Just be prepared.

Is it for you?
IF YOU LOVE: Erotica that blurs the lines. If you like your erotic extra dark and your hero's more screwed up than Christian Grey then you may enjoy this.

IF YOU HATE: Non-Consensual sex. Abusive relationships, torture, and horror themes avoid this.

Rating = 3.5 out of 5
Characters 4/5
Plot 3/5
Voice 4/5
LOVE factor 3/5


Sunday, 13 January 2013

A Review of Siren by Tiffany Reisz

   This is not a book that you fall in love with - it is a story that enthralls you. There is something so real and tangible about this book that pulls you in and does not release you until you put it down completed. Tiffany Reisz warns us repeatedly that this is not a romance - it is the anti-romance. She does not lie. But, at the heart of it lies a beautiful and haunting love story. It is dark and sometimes disturbing. It is erotic but by no means is this erotica. Sex may be the undercurrent of this story but it is not thrown in for thrills, it is simply an essential part of the journey.

   Nora is a Sub/Dom switch and dominatrix as well as an erotic author trying to move on to something deeper and more meaningful in her work. Zachery is her editor with little respect for her style of writing. While it starts off feeling like a romance between these two characters it soon becomes clear that they are both still deeply entangled in past relationships. This is what Reisz has really done differently; it is about two sexually attracted people not destined for each other, who help each-other discover/rediscover themselves.

   Reisz employs some compelling and creative story-telling techniques. All throughout there are snippets of Nora's book. We never know for sure how much of these snippets are fiction but they feel like memories of Nora's relationship with Soren, although she tells him she destroys what she writes about him.

   Nora herself is witty, strong, sexual and ambitious. She is warm and caring but also damaged. She is the perfect counterpart to Zachery who is stuffy and cynical. I liked and felt for both characters.

   It is very unusual to read a love story about two people where a love interest hardly appears other than in memory - but that is how Soren is portrayed. He is at the centre but it is not about him. He is a character that I found it very hard to decide my feelings for. While he is everything that makes a Dom sexy, and he is utterly sexy, there is so much about him, and his relationship with Nora that is extremely disturbing, and many would say very wrong.

   Essentially Reisz makes us question who decides what is, or can be considered right or wrong in a relationship.  While I felt Nora genuinely believes there was nothing shameful about her relationship with Soren, and that she can only thrive in such a relationship, I was not convinced. It was not that it was a BDSM, it was not that she was hurt, dominated, humiliated and even violated that made me uncomfortable, it was the way the relationship began. 

   The fact that Nora was 'groomed' from fifteen years old by a man who was in a position of authority, who should never have touched her disturbed me. The justification is that Nora was a troubled youth who needed that to save her.

   Just because I am uncomfortable with the relationship did not make the love, or the bonds less real. In the end equal parts of me want and did not want the final outcome. I would have struggled with the ending if I did not know there was a sequel. It is not always a comfortable read but it is a clever and captivating read that I am glad to have experienced.

Is it for you?
IF YOU LOVE: BDSM this gives a deeper and more genuine insight into what is behind it. If you want to read a romance that is free from almost all cliche's and troupes this delivers.
IF YOU HATE: Dark romance, relationships with violence, and promiscuous characters this will make you uncomfortable. Contains religious themes that may offend some readers.

Rating = 4.5 out of 5
Characters 4/5
Plot 5/5
Voice 5/5
LOVE factor (possible 1 point Bonus) +.5

Sunday, 6 January 2013

A Review of Taken, by Kellie Maine

This is a very difficult review for me to write. Firstly because I fear sending mixed messages, and secondly because I don't want to sound like a preachy writer. I had this book on my wishlist before it was released. The blurb drew me in immediately. I love a good captive scenario, and the cover... the cover sent shivers down my spine. There is something beautifully erotic about it without being vulgar.

For me this book failed to live up to the sensual promise made by the blurb and the cover. The hero while a billionaire was not very alpha despite kidnapping Rachael. It did not possess the erotic power-play I expected.

The biggest let down was that the plot made no sense. The motives of the characters did not seem believable in any way. Rachel would not take a job for the sake of her mother. So Merrick learns about her and decides to kidnap her for her own sake... Maybe, maybe on some deluded planet that might be feasible IF (and this is the bit that shatters the plot) he did not manage to send her mother on a holiday before kidnapping her. The fact he was able to do that proved he could have reasoned with Racheal, talked to her mother (maybe sent her away anyway) and convinced her. There was in fact no reason or motive for kidnap. Rachel's reservations seemed extreme and made completely irrational considering how easily her mother took to her going away.

However, I STILL recommend reading this, especially if you are a writer. This is one of those books that will give you a chance to learn, and experience something new. It is written in the second person, something most people have not experienced in fiction. Many people will not be able to enjoy it for that reason alone, it is very disconcerting.  I would recommend reading it for the experience.

Second person perspective has the Narrator (Racheal the "I" Character) address the reader directly as "You". This means Racheal says things like "You smile. Dimples pierce your cheeks. Your eyes flash. I can't resist". It is a powerful way of writing because the Narrator is talking to you, engaging you in conversation. It is important when a writer chooses a POV to know why they are doing it and who they are doing it for. I don't think Kellie Maine did, which is why this perspective works less well than it should.

The problem with the POV is the reader was forgotten! This is an erotic romance, it is targeted to an almost all female readership. Yet "You" is Merrick! That means that the reader is the male character. It is disconcerting enough to adjust to this POV, without having references made to my non-existent penis. If this was written from Merrick's perspective it would be much, much better. "You" would be Racheal, and the hot hunky Merrick would be able to talk to us directly, seduce us personally, and tell us how we make him feel. It would be like your sexiest hero's coming to life in your romance book to seduce you directly. But no, instead of that you get to read some chick telling you about how much of a man you are... Fail.

Despite my humble opinion sales do talk, and this book preformed well. Its release had perfect timing coming straight of the back of Fifty Shade. Maybe this influenced that result but hey, you can't argue figures. I would really, really love to hear other people's perspective on this one!

Is it for you?

IF YOU LOVE: Reading styles different to what you a used to, this will give you that. If you like the Billionaire/normal girl style romance this is that.

IF YOU HATE: Contrived story lines and characters then don't read this. If you just want something you can fall into without trying then this is not for you.

Overall, I did not get into Taken. I am not sure if it is the fault of the POV or the plot itself. I am glad I read it though and had a chance to experience this style in a romance. Also there were some really pretty phrases.

Characters 3/5
Plot 2/5
Voice 4/5
Love Factor (Possible 1 point bonus) 0

Rating 3/5

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Switch by Megan Hart

I started this book all up on my high-horse ready to hang and quarter the publisher for being so tacky as to put "Fifty Shades, hotter than grey" on the cover. For those of you who read my previous blog/rant, you will know I went into it a little prejudiced. I was convinced I would hate it and was shocked when I was blown away by page one. This writer has a lovely way with words and a beautiful voice.

On page nine my little writers heart had a little climax of its own when I read this; "Most of all, I love the way a blank sheet of paper looks when it's waiting to be written on. Anything can happen in those moments before you put pen to paper." Excuse me I believe I am experiencing another little moment. That won me over a little too hard, and probably also raised my expectations a little too high.

I haven't been so pleasantly surprised by a read in a long time. It had moments that really floored me and connected with me on  personal level. There was a realness and a grittiness that got under my skin. But even though it got to me I do have a few complaints.

First of all as I was reading I was making a list of all the things I was going to criticise the Editor for. In the first chapter I was a disappointed by what seemed to be a lack of editing that let the writing down. Paige is looking for the perfect gift for her step-mother. We are told this, then shown this, then have memories of why, then are told again through dialogue, and then it is re-stated again! What editor wouldn't smooth that out, even if just to cut out that last line of re-stating? A good editor prunes the dead weight off a book, and I already had a terrible feeling that this read was going to have a lot of extra branches. It did. Mainly with too many memories, and too much back-story.

About a third of the way through the pace slowed, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what direction things were taking. I felt like the heroine was wandering around aimlessly. I felt this was large due to all the excess that needed to be stripped away in editing. There were sections such as her interactions with her boss and at work that seemed to not contribute enough to the plot to warrant the time invested in them. I thought they could be cut altogether and things would have moved much more comfortably.

Still I loved it. It made me cry in places. I really felt the loaded history with Austin. I really understood and believed all the family dynamics and situations. My biggest complaint is that it did not really feel like a romance for me until the very end because Paige is so indecisive and unsure about what she wants. The things that frustrated me and confused me during the book did all come together in the end. Although I felt it ended rather abruptly considering how the pace dragged.

One thing I have to point out. For something that is intended to be very erotic I really didn't feel the sex in this book. I liked it more for the plot. Maybe because it did feel too vulgar and something was just not right... Not to mention words like C*#T in a sex scene tend to kill off the romance a for me.

Is it for you?

IF YOU LOVE: Something gritty and real, that gets under your skin then this will get to you. If you like something a little kinkier then you will enjoy. If you like an assertive heroine you will like Paige.

IF YOU HATE: Vulgarity, excessive and unnecessary use of the F & C words and sex that feels well... dirty then you probably wont like this. If you like your romance pure and uplifting this is not going to do it for you. This is no warm and fuzzy kind of romance people. This heroine has issues and allot of the story will make you feel sad.

All in all, I am happy to have read this. I went to the bookstore and purchased the physical book instead of the cheaper Kindle option and I do not regret it. It is one I will probably re-read at some stage. I am very eager to read more by this author.

Characters 4/5
Plot 3/5
Voice 5/5
Love Factor (Possible 1 point Bonus)

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Fifty Shades Comparison Epidemic

There is nothing I love more than to wander down the aisles of my local bookstore. Although my kindle provides constant reading material, I still love to read a real book. For those of you who are the same, you may have noticed something startling has happened in those bookstore isles in the last six months or so.

Since the unprecedented success of the Fifty Shades franchise there is about ten times (I wouldn't quote my stats people) the amount of space dedicated to Contemporary Romances (Yay for us!), and there is real erotica on the shelves of even the smallest bookstores!

I could not be happier about this! Fifty Shades success has offered up enormous opportunity to erotica and romance writers, and has given readers a whole new range to choose from. But there is something else... Something I am not so happy about.

It is the Fifty Shades Comparison Epidemic! There does not seem to be a Contemporary Romance available on the shelves at the moment that doesn't seem to have a sticker, or tag, or even embossed right onto the cover a phrase such as "Like Fifty Shades", "Hotter than Fifty Shades", "If you liked Fifty Shades then..." you get my drift?

Maybe that wouldn't be so bad if these titles actually were like Fifty Shades. That does not seem to be the case however.  Apparently any New Adult romance, or any romance with erotic or BDSM themes, or hell anything written in the first person is compared to Fifty.

I recently purchased Beautiful Disaster by Jamie MCGuire. It had a big shiny sticker on it "Read after Fifty Shades". Now anyone who has read Beautiful Disaster (whether you loved it or hated it) would have to admit anyone expecting a read comparative with Fifty Shades would have been sorely disappointed. The only comparison is that there was an agnsty heroine of the same age. If people were expecting hot sex scenes coming off their Fifty thrall, the sex in this book was very much that of a YA writer who is obviously uncomfortable writing about sex. I know so many people loved this book so I hope I haven't alienated half my audience right there, but I think we can all agree this was not a sexy read.

Now let's be clear; I do not go looking for Fifty Shades comparisons. I am not hoping to find something the same. I enjoyed Fifty Shades. I didn't love it and I have my issues with it. But, I got the same thing out of it that most people did. It gave me erotica and an intro to BDSM in a lighter, more romantic, less hardcore package.  It just really bugs me that everything has to now be compared to it, and piggyback off its success. I have picked up a few erotic romances recently all with "Fifty Shades" stickers attached. For the most part they could not be compared to Fifty because they are full blown erotica without the softer mainstream voice that made Fifty accessible to non-erotica readers.

I vowed not to buy anything again with a Fifty Shades sticker attached. It seemed I would be fresh out of reading material if I held myself to that. So I purchased Switch by Megan Hart at the bookshop, it has "Fifty Shades - hotter than grey" embossed right on the cover. The blurb sounds interesting so I will give it a go. Stay tuned for my review, I won't be holding back.