Dark Moon: Spirit Wild, Book 3

Dark MoonAuthor: Kate Douglas
Book Name: Dark Moon
Series: Spirit Wild
Order: #3
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Erotic
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  Shapeshifting creatures of amazing strength and sensuality, the Chanku now live openly all over the world. Yet the primal power of the pack beckons, calling each one home to surrender to pure pleasure. . .

Return To Surrender

Igmutaka is her Spirit Guide and protector. But Star desires so much more. She wants to take him as her mate. Years away have not diminished her craving for him and so she is returning home, to face the past and experience the exquisite rapture that only one of her kind can give.

Despite the passion she and Igmutaka share, Sunny knows she has yet to find her one true mate. And when she comes upon carnage in the forest and sees the massive wolf standing proud before her, she wonders if this is the one who will finally satisfy all her carnal needs. . .

Review:  There is this really simple, but apt phrase “Less is more” that seems to be what should have been the theme when this book was written.  In every single area.  There are so many things that I didn’t like and was so out there and over the top about this that it is going to be hard following my own advice.

A huge issue for me was the concept of the sexual culture in this world.  I really do love a great steamy book, in all kinds of various combinations.  The one thing that I feel I must have to really feel those are truly good, steamy stories, though, is that the intimacy has emotional depth and reason other than just being horny (at least with the truly connected characters) and doesn’t come across as so completely casual, random and meaningless that I feel as though I’ve been tossed into the middle of a swingers party.  This was sadly the latter situation.  I’m not sure I want to even share my thoughts on the ick factor of the person to animal, absolutely non-steamy sexy parts that got dropped into this.  There are some lines that just should never be crossed.  This book vaulted over that line and ran for the hills.

There was not a lot of thought or creative effort put forth to really rationalize multipartner relationships and make them believable.  Sorry, but it is kind of cutting creative corners to explain away how you can get 4 near strangers to suddenly be in a committed relationship just by saying it is fate and they are all mates.  The mate thing sort of works when you are talking shifter stories, but even then, most of the time I connect way better when the authors build beyond fate and because you are mates and actually have their characters form real connections beyond or outside of those cliched rules.  Toss in more than just two people and it is beyond over the top.  Creativity is part of what makes a story great but this is missing it.

I’ve read an awful lot of really awesome, kick ass shifter stories.  Some are even near the top of my favorites list.  This didn’t even come into the ballpark.  There are so many parts to this supposed shifter world that it feels so totally haphazard and jumbled that I couldn’t even come close to believing any of it.  It brought to mind a painter who loves color and tossed every single color and dab of paint from his pallet, his stash and all the paint that could be bought at the local art store on a 4″ x 4″ canvas and instead of something lovely and moving, he is left with a giant blob of dirt brown.

I felt absolutely no connection to any of the characters in this book.  What little interest they may have had got stomped on as soon as they started interacting with anyone else and they suddenly became dull, hormonal porn star extras.  Even the story line felt crammed in there in an effort to say that there was one outside of the erotic parts of the story, which again were just not all that interesting in the first place.

Even with the “Less is more” idea, I don’t know that this would have been fixable in my opinion.  I just really did not like a thing about this book.  Knowing that this is book 3 in the series, I’m extremely glad I haven’t read any of the others and have no intention of picking any of them up after reading this one.

 

Owning Violet: The Fowler Sisters, Book 1

Owning VioletAuthor: Monica Murphy
Book Name: Owning Violet
Series: The Fowler Sisters
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Erotic
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  I’ve moved through life doing what’s expected of me. I’m the middle daughter, the dutiful daughter. The one who braved a vicious attack and survived. The one who devoted herself to her family’s business empire. The one who met an ambitious man and fell in love. We were going to run Fleur Cosmetics together, Zachary and I.

Until he got a promotion and left me in the dust. Maybe it’s for the best, between his disloyalty and his wandering eye. But another man was waiting for me. Wanting me. He too has an overwhelming thirst for success, just like Zachary–perhaps even more so. He’s also ruthless. And mysterious. I know nothing about Ryder McKay beyond that he makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.

One stolen moment, a kiss, a touch . . . and I’m hooked. Ryder’s like a powerful drug, and I’m an addict who doesn’t want to be cured. He tells me his intentions aren’t pure, and I believe him. For once, I don’t care. I’m willing to risk everything just to be with him. Including my heart. My soul.

My everything.

Review:  It is incredibly difficult to rate a book that has good and bad things going on.  This is absolutely one of those books.

Violet’s character started out as this terribly needy, insecure and desperate person and Ryder was basically a sociopath.  Both pretty horrible characters.  So much so that I came extremely close to just putting it down, they were that bad.  It was also incredibly difficult to see how any chemistry at all would build between the two.  I stuck with it and they got much better, though they still had horribly contradictory character traits, both fluctuating back to what we saw at the beginning.

When the chemistry did finally hit, it was pretty good.  The middle to late part of the book got a little bit more emotionally intense and the steamy parts were pretty steamy, hence some of the good parts.

Then we kind of get tossed right back out and into the bad when the book ended.  The only thing that got resolved was that Violet and Ryder end up together.  Well, we kind of figured that would happen, but all of the things that were in their way?  Didn’t actually get resolved.  The drama and threat of Pilar, both with regard to her hold over Ryder and what she had going on behind the scenes, got totally dropped.  Absolutely nothing happened with it.  We get zero reaction from Zachary when Violet walks out of the party, with Ryder, after Zachary announces, in front of her father and other coworkers, that he will be marrying her.  Again, that thread of the story just gets dropped.  The build up about Violet’s past and her attacker is also another issue that gets dropped.  We get no reaction from her supposedly uncaring and unsupportive father (who is another character that is extremely contradictory) about her relationship with Ryder.  There are so many pieces to this story that just do not get addressed or dealt with at all.  This all just kind of ends.

I get that there are pieces that are more than likely going to be addressed in the next book as the series follows the other sisters, but since so much of this was tied directly to Violet, it was beyond frustrating to not have any of that even remotely addressed, which turned what had gotten to be a much better story into one that I just was really annoyed and frustrated by.  The whole thing felt like it wasn’t fully fleshed out and then it was left unfinished.

Falling Into You: The Falling, Book 1

Falling Into YouAuthor: Jasinda Wilder
Book Name: Falling Into You
Series: The Falling
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Erotic/New Adult
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  I wasn’t always in love with Colton Calloway; I was in love with his younger brother, Kyle, first. Kyle was my first one true love, my first in every way. Then, one stormy August night, he died, and the person I was died with him.

Colton didn’t teach me how to live. He didn’t heal the pain. He didn’t make it okay. He taught me how to hurt, how to not be okay, and, eventually, how to let go.

Nell Hawthorne is in love with her life-long best friend, Kyle Calloway. Things are great, and they’re in love, young, full of promise. Then Kyle dies in a tragic accident and Nell is forever changed. She meets Kyle’s older brother Colton at the funeral, and there’s a spark, but it’s wrong and they both know it. The moment passes, and they both move on with life. A couple years later, they meet again in New York City, and Colton realizes that Nell has never really gotten over Kyle’s death, and seems to be harboring a deeply rooted pain, something like guilt, perhaps. He knows he shouldn’t get involved, but he can’t help himself. Trust doesn’t come easily for either of them, and they both have demons, Colton especially. Together, they learn the purpose of pain and the meaning of healing, and the importance of forgiveness.

Review:  The first 1/3 of this book focuses on Kyle and Nell’s  relationship, which really kind of falls more into the young adult genre in the beginning.  I came close to putting it down as I’m really not much of a fan of books that fall into that age range with their characters.  I’m really glad I stuck with it though, because this really isn’t a YA book at all.

This book has all the things that I really love in a great romance, solid characters that are not perfect but work through and with their imperfections, a relationship where both side are equal and balance each other out and support each other.  I absolutely fell in love with Colton.  He is this guy who has been through hell, but is has this great big compassionate heart.  Nell is just as messed up and caring.  I love that they don’t expect to fix each other or that the other person should fix them.  They care about each other as they come, scars and ghosts and all.  It is beautiful.

The only reason this didn’t the full 5 star rating for me was because, even though it was necessary to understand the rest of the story and Nell’s background, I wasn’t a fan of the early part of the book.  As a 40 something adult, I outgrew the thought that bumbling, awkward, first time teen sex was cute and interesting a long time ago and I really don’t want to read about it.  I loved the rest of the story, but I could have done with a whole lot less of giggly teeny bopper parts.

 

Crash Into You: Loving on the Edge, Book 1

Crash Into YouAuthor: Roni Loren
Book Name: Crash Into You
Series: Loving on the Edge
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Erotic
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat-a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her, Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.

Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate-and so does the danger. Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.

Review:  There were so many things that I considered problems with this book that it forced me to to give this a pretty low rating.  The biggest problem I had overall was with the approach to the BDSM lifestyle.  Not the subject itself, but how it was presented and handled.

I’ll admit that I’m not in the lifestyle and do not claim that I have any level of accurate or expert knowledge on the subject of BDSM other that what I’ve read here and there.  That said, it seems as if there are two types of books that get written in this genre.  The ones that are serious about their approach and how they present that lifestyle and that do so in a very clear way or the ones that play at it.  I’ve read both kinds and both kinds work if done right.  This book wants to be the first kind but comes across as the second.  Either be serious about it or do it on the lighter, just for fun side that doesn’t require the rules, but don’t try to straddle that line.  It does not work.  Don’t just throw it in there to use it strictly as a plot device because those kinds of books seem to be the in thing.

Just because you get off on having the guy be pushy in the bedroom, does not mean you are into BDSM and are serious about the lifestyle.  When I say serious about it, I’m talking about what are considered standard rules about being safe and making good decisions because you are in a healthy mindset.  The so called club in this book had so many things that struck me as wrong in it, that I had a hard time getting beyond that to pay attention to the rest of the story.  The fact that members could touch any other member in any way without permission was just wrong.  If a sub is collared, you don’t touch without the dom’s permission even if that dom is not around.  That opens the door to a totally unsafe environment, which a BDSM club should never be.  The fact that the guy running place finds out that Brynn has some pretty obvious fears because of a past rape, then lets her go to blindly pick out someone to be her dom for 3 days without any kind of protection for her (3 days for someone who is brand new to the club and that they will be with total strangers the entire time) or ensuring that she is with someone who he knows she will be safe with, absolutely blows my mind.  With all of that and more, this club seemed like a bunch of spoiled, rich, hedonists that wanted to play at the BDSM lifestyle without really adhering to any of the rules.

The fact that it isn’t taken seriously is proven even more with the characters during the menage’ scene with Reid, Brynn and Jace.  Reid, who is supposed to be Brynn’s dom, doesn’t pay attention to her pleasure or the fact that she slips out of that mindset because he is too focused on his own.  It took Jace bringing it to his attention to figure it out.  That is so not playing it safe when you are talking about being in situations that could become harmful in a second.  Again, that is just so wrong as far as I’m concerned.

I also had a huge problem with the whole recreating the rape scene as a way for Brynn to “reclaim” her body and have Reid “own” her, down to him biting her on the bite scar from the rape.  I have a problem with how a lot of author’s handle characters dealing with and recovering from rape in the first place, no matter how realistic it is for people to learn to live with the after effects of violence in their own ways.  This just made it incredibly hard to believe that Brynn wouldn’t have at least one uncomfortable moment, especially after a freak out earlier in the book.  I’m sorry, there just isn’t this single moment or situational change and everything that was an emotional minefield before is suddenly okay and not a trigger.  It does not work that way.

Beyond all of that, and those were huge for me, Reid was an awful character.  The stereotypical rich kid who doesn’t want to rock the boat for fear he won’t have that privileged life anymore.  At the point in the “then” part of the story with Vanessa (the back and forth between the “then” and “now” parts drove me nuts) and the day Brynn got raped, he just proved that beyond all doubt.  Sorry Reid, there is this thing called saying “No” and walking away that works wonders.  Oh, and the fact that he continually lies and expects Brynn to just accept it later is also utter BS and makes her this spineless door mat and that makes me not like her character either.  He proves, yet again, that he is a crap dom when he agrees to go without a condom at the end of the book without at least a discussion about testing.  For crying out loud!  Protection during sex is NOT just about preventing pregnancy.  The pill isn’t going to keep you from getting something nasty so just because someone says their on the pill, it doesn’t make the sex suddenly safe.  Your job as a dom is supposed to be taking care of your sub, protecting them from harm and ensuring their pleasure.  Reid is only concerned about what gets him off.

Sadly, those are only the big issues I had.  There were lots of smaller, less important issues (Scooby Doo reveal) in comparison that just weren’t worth the time to list.

 

 

Tex: Burnout, Book 2

TexAuthor: Dahlia West
Book Name: Tex
Series: Burnout
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/Erotic
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Abby Raines is leaving Las Vegas. She’s trading the glitter and excess of her hometown for the rolling hills and lush forests of Rapid City, South Dakota. She’s taken her first real job and she’s determined to succeed on her own.

Mark Marsten traded the Texas range for the Army Rangers years ago and never looked back. Now, he’s settled permanently in Rapid City with the remaining members of his Special Forces unit. He thought he had it all, well almost anyway. Until a sassy redhead with a sharp tongue and body to die for rolled into town.

Mark knows he’s too much for her long-term, but he can’t resist a fling with Rapid City’s newest resident. He thought he knew the game. After all, it’s his game. And always his rules. But more and more it feels like Abby is the one holding all the cards.

Burnout is a series but each novel can stand alone on its own. You do not have to read Tex to enjoy the others. It is the only novel in the series with BDSM. If you don’t like BDSM skip this one. Fair warning: the kink factor is extremely high.

Review:  This was a reread for me, so not a new one.  For hotness/sexy factor, this rates pretty high, but there are parts that push my comfort level beyond something I find sexy and that puts the overall rating down for me.

Both Mark and Abby are pretty decent characters, but don’t have a depth that I’ve found in other books in the same genre.  This is definitely one of those stories that has a whole lot more steam than story, though what story there is is good.

As a second read, I ran across more things that kind of bugged me than I noticed on the first round so I don’t think I liked this as much as the first time I read it.  If you are in the mood for hot and steamy that pushes some serious boundaries on the kinky scale, this would be a good choice.  If your looking for a deep emotional story, might skip this one.

Bengal’s Quest: Breeds, Book 30

Bengal's QuestAuthor: Lora Leigh
Book Name: Bengal’s Quest
Series: Breeds
Order: #30
Genre: Romance/Erotic/SciFi
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  He was a shadow, ever shifting and insinuating, able to blend in everywhere and anywhere. The elusive ideal conceived and created by the Genetics Council, he went by just as many names as he had identities—the last one being Gideon.

Now calling himself Graeme, he hides in plain sight, terrifyingly close to his goal. A rogue Bengal Breed, he has loyalties to no one but himself. And he has a need for vengeance that surges hot and swift through his veins.

Graeme plans to exact an extreme and ruthless vendetta against those who wronged him—Breed and human alike. All will suffer his wrath: those who created him, those who pretended to love him, and those who betrayed him.

That includes the one at the center of it all: a seductive, enigmatic woman helpless against the man whose desire is just as desperate as his need to destroy.

And he’s on her scent…

Review:  It is kind of hard to review this book without some heavy commentary on the series as a whole.  Originally, I had liked the concept and the world that this series exists in, but there have always been bits that I haven’t been all that thrilled with.  As I’ve continued to read the series, those things continue to be issues and other, new things keep popping up.

It is hard to follow along from story to story, even reading in order, because sometimes there are huge time gaps on the story arch between stories, sometimes you end up in an entirely different group of characters with new connections and histories that the reader has never been introduced to, so it feels like you’ve missed a lot, especially when the last book left you hanging on something and it never gets addressed.  Sometimes there are just some random things that get tossed in there and it all ends up being confusing because the purpose isn’t defined or explained.  I guess you just have to assume that it is something of the world the story is set in, but it is hard to understand because of the lack of definition.

One of my biggest problems with this series, and this book is no exception, is that almost 100% of the time, the relationships start out on a rather antagonistical foot.  In some cases, they start out from a point of out and out hate.  Because of that, almost every single one of them end up with the initial sexual encounters coming across as forced, not consensual, with a whole lot more continuing throughout the majority of the book, not just the first time.

A series aspect in this world is this mating hormone thing, which is supposed to go a long way to explaining some of the issues with the forced concept, but honestly?  It is just a date rape drug as far as I’m concerned.  That is not sexy.  Taking a person’s will away from them by any means is not sexy.  I don’t really care if it is a “biological imperative” and something that is created naturally, it still takes away a persons will and ability to decide for them self what they do or do not want.  This bothers me on so many levels, but I sort of skimmed past some of that because I still liked the story beyond that part.

This story in particular just kind of pissed me off (and isn’t the only one that has done so).  I don’t think it is remotely attractive to have a romance story where one character out and out hates the other in the beginning, yet later in the story it is all “Oh, but deep down I really love them” later on.  Especially when you start throwing a sexual relationship in there.  It just does not work for me in any way.

The last thing that really drove me nuts with this book is that there were some pretty glaring editing problems that kept tripping me up, forcing me to reread parts to try and figure out what certain sentences or paragraphs were actually meant to say.  Along with the editing (have no clue who’s job it is to push an author for variety), and this is also a series peeve for me, is the constant and repetitive use of certain words and phrases in specific scenarios.  If I had to read the words flesh or pleasure-pain in one more sex scene, I’d have burned the damn thing.

I came very close several times to just putting this down and not reading.  I had already passed it up on my list several times before I decided I just wanted to get it over with (should have known I really wasn’t all that jazzed to read it in the first place at that point).  Between issues I’ve had with the series in the past and issues with this book in particular (which was actually pretty boring in comparison to some of the others), I think I’m done with this series.  I know I missed several books throughout the series up until this one, but I just do not have the desire to suffer through one more.  Besides, by the time you get to book 30 in a series (really?), you are at or beyond the cookie cutter stage and there just isn’t much new you can offer unless you are seriously damn good at what you do and are a creative genius and that is not the case here.

Backstage Pass: Sinners on Tour, Book 1

Backstage PassAuthor: Olivia Cunning
Book Name: Backstage Pass
Series: Sinners on Tour
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Erotic
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb: It’s been months since Brian Sinclair, lead guitarist for the famous rock band, Sinners, composed anything. Unable to write the music that once flowed so naturally, Brian is lost without his musical mojo. But when sexy psychology professor Myrna Evans comes on tour to study groupie mentality, Brian may have found the spark he needs to reignite his musical genius. When lust turns to love, will Brian be able to convince Myrna that what they have is more than just a fling, and that now that he’s found his heart’s muse, he doesn’t want to live without her?

Review: This is a reread for me, so it was nothing new.  It was refreshing to see that all the things I liked about it the first time around still held up after more than a year of other reading in between.

I still really loved both Brian and Myrna as well as the rest of the band.  Brian does tend to fall a bit on the needy side for what I typically like in my male characters, but it is done in a way that comes across as really cute and I can’t help but love him.  Myrna is a little broken but still sassy and fun.

Also, this book falls into volcano territory on the steam factor.  It is far from lacking in that area, but it is expertly balanced with the actual story line, which is a huge thing for me when it comes to the erotic romance genre.

Even as a second read, I still feel that it is a very well rounded book with great characters, fun story and seriously hot lovin’.

The Power of Persuasion: The Triad Series, Book 2

ThePowerofPersuasionAuthor: Kate Pearce
Book Name: The Power of Persuasion
Series: The Triad Series
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/Erotic/SciFi
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Ex super-soldier and telepath Captain Ian McNeill isn’t expecting his job as base commander to a bunch of scientists to be exciting, let alone terrifying. But after meeting Neeve, a Pavlovan female and saving her from a bunch of Etruscan extremists, he’s fairly certain his life will never be the same again. 

Neeve can’t believe she’s found a mate from Earth who has no understanding of the concept of a bonded telepathic triad. Can she convince him to return to Pavlovan, meet her exalted but complicated family and finally convince him that adding a third to their bond will be the best decision he’s ever made? 

Book two in the Triad series of erotic science fiction romance.  Warning: contains erotic sexual content involving one woman and two men.

Review:  While this has all the steam a good erotic romance needs, it is a little lacking on the story end of things, which is a bit on the unusual side for a Kate Pearce book.  What story line is there, ends up dropping all kinds of loose ends and leaves it feeling incomplete.

For me, I had a hard time actually linking any of the characters because there just wasn’t enough substance to them to get to know them, which makes the rest just seem a little week. If all you are looking for is the hot, steamy and creamy, then this will suit just fine.  If you want a little more actual story, then, maybe not.

Hotter Than Ever: Out of Uniform, Book 9

Hotter Than EverAuthor: Elle Kennedy
Book Name: Hotter Than Ever
Series: Out of Uniform
Order: #9
Genre: Erotic Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Claire McKinley has just experienced every bride’s nightmare. The groom is a no-show, and now she must face five hundred guests alone. Furious and humiliated, Claire seeks help from the most unlikely candidate—her almost-brother-in-law, who promptly whisks her away to his apartment in San Diego, where she can recover her pride in peace and quiet.

Dylan Wade is no fan of Claire’s, but no way can he leave the jilted bride in her time of need. Bringing her home seems like a good idea—until he remembers his new roommate. Dylan’s relationship with Aidan is…complicated. And with Claire thrown into the mix, life becomes even more…complicated.

Claire is blindsided by her attraction not only to Dylan, but also to Aidan, a man she’s just met. Soon they’re caught up in an all-consuming sexual storm they can’t fight even if they wanted to. Yet Claire wonders if it can last, or if she’s just setting herself up for more heartache.

Review:  For a steamy erotic romance, this has a decent story that is somewhat believable, but it stretches that ability almost to the breaking point.

A truly good erotic romance will have the reader completely entrenched in the story and catching their breath with the intensity level of the passion expressed in the scenes.  An okay one is pretty much just decent porn in written form.  This book falls into that second group.  It doesn’t make it bad, especially if that is what you are looking for.  If you were expecting something more engaging, then this probably isn’t the book for you.  It absolutely has the steam, but is more on the raunchy end of the spectrum.

I do think the presentation and handling of the menage’ relationship was done pretty well.  It falls a bit into the too perfect to believe category, but it just skirts it on the side of it still mostly working.

Really didn’t like the handling of the situation with the ex-fiance’/brother.  Sorry, but when there is that much wrong in any relationship, it just isn’t all that believable to have it all pretty much be washed over and okay in the end.  It just didn’t work at all for me.

Overall, a decent book when you are wanting something steamy, but not all that real or intense.