Category: 2/5 Stars

Filthy Vows by Alessandra Torre

Book: Filthy Vows

Author: Alessandra Torre

Series: a standalone

Release date: 18 July 2019

Main characters: Elle North, young wife to Easton, unsure of where she is headed. Easton North, former sporting hopeful, now struggling to find his way.

Plot: Elle and Easton have been together since college although it certainly wasn’t love at first sight for Elle. She wasn’t interested in the campus player, but somehow he managed to show her who he really was underneath the swagger and his promiscuous reputation. Married for four years, their relationship is the only constant in Elle’s life. Her touchstone – the one thing she’s sure of.

Elle is coming to realise that despite their explosive and sexually fulfilling life together, she has thoughts and fantasies that will not disappear. She’s tried ignoring them, but they refuse to be buried. Her relationship with her husband has always been honest and so telling Easton about her fantasies seems natural. Nothing can prepare her for his reaction – will telling him bring them closer together, or be the catalyst that blows their relationship apart?

Why you should read it: I was excited to read this book, as the premise really intrigued me. I’m always drawn to stories about what happens after the ‘I do.’ Elle and Easton are a very young married couple and they both still have a lot of growing up to do. They’re dealing with professional disappointments but are trying to navigate their way through life as best they can. Their love for each other is clear and it dances off the pages. The sexual chemistry is palpable – the book is very upfront – it deals with very vivid fantasies and you’ll either love it or hate it. The scenes were extremely tantalising and well written. Have a fan handy!

What you may not like: Ok – I have a couple of issues with the book. First, the following dialogue:

“Have you ever been with a black guy?” Chelsea popped the question at normal volume, then stuffed a piece of bread in her mouth. Bread that most certainly contained gluten, despite the interrogation she just put the menu through. I eyed the bread and considered my own avoidance of carbs, one that was on a twelve-day streak. “Uh—no.” “They’re gooood,” she mused through a mouthful of bread, the word stretched out and savored, her head turning to watch as our waiter eased by and to an adjacent table, a pitcher of ice water in hand. “Very athletic.”

This paragraph came out of nowhere. There I was, trying to get into the story and this scene totally blindsided me – it’s spoken by a peripheral character and that particular comment isn’t called out by the main character in any way, which made me REALLY dislike both characters. It didn’t advance the storyline or lead to anything bigger, so I wondered why it was there at all. I don’t enjoy dialogue that treats any group of society as a monolith or somehow fetishises said group. This one paragraph made me question whether I cared about the characters at all, which is a shame. I found them shallow, self involved and vacuous. Perhaps this is how rich and privileged people talk to one another – I’m sure it is, but it doesn’t make me want to invest in them or care about them.

Rating: 3/5 for the more risqué nature of the book – that’s what I love about the author and her willingness to go all out and write a no-holds barred story. 2/5 for the rest of the story. The throwaway comment by a minor character unfortunately spoilt my enjoyment of most of this story. Words and dialogue matter (especially in this current climate) as they reveal an awful lot about who we are. This one just didn’t work for me I’m afraid.

A Thousand Reasons by Mariah Dietz

A-Thousand-Reasons-3D-bookBook: A Thousand Reasons

Author: Mariah Dietz

Series: a standalone but I’d recommend reading the Becoming His series

Release date: 21 June 2018

Main characters: Leela Walsh – a struggling medical student, Wes McCleary – also a medical student, but with decidedly more advantages in life.

Plot: Leela Walsh has a lot on her plate. Not only does she have a demanding academic schedule; she also works three jobs, and has to contribute to the household bills and help her parents keep their heads above water. Life isn’t exactly easy. Plus there’s the added stress of an errant younger brother and sister to contend with.

When she meets Wes McCleary, Leela is convinced she has him pegged. A rich kid without a care in the world who hasn’t had to sacrifice a thing to get where he is…

When Wes meets Leela, he’s both intrigued and confused by her cold shoulder treatment. He wants to get to know her, but dislikes girls who play games. Her hot and cold treatment leave him unsure of himself in a way he’s never felt before. She’s clearly hiding something, and the question is, why? Wes hasn’t had an easy life, despite a lack of financial woes. Family, he has found, comes in all shapes and sizes, and his happens to be his circle of friends. They’re unbreakable and Wes is more than happy to find a space for Leela – if she’ll ever let down her shields…

Why you should read it: This book is billed as a standalone, but I’d highly recommend reading the Becoming His series first. Why? Because I didn’t, and for the first third of the book I was seriously confused by Wes’s circle of friends. I felt as though I’d missed some pages of the book or like when you enter a room only to hear the tail-end of a conversation – it took a while to get up to speed with these characters. The book is fairly low-drama – which isn’t a criticism. It’s a story about a guy and a girl getting to know one another, and in the main it was sweet.

What you might not like: Leela had a sizeable chip on her shoulder for most of the book, and it was quite annoying at times. She had a lot of personal growth to do in the book and just when the reader is getting comfortable with the character dynamics, it ends! Wes was a good guy – not overly complex. The biggest thing to happen to him is an injury to his foot. It’s very low drama and as such, not the most captivating read, if I’m honest. It ended abruptly – practically mid-sentence. There were some nice elements – namely Leela’s peripheral friends, but overall, it was just ok. Leela’s parents were also horrid – I thought they were very unfair to Leela!

Rating: 2/5 – I just couldn’t get excited about this story – it was a bit…ordinary.

 

Blog tour: King of Wall Street by Louise Bay

Book: King of Wall Street

Author: Louise Bay

Series: a standalone novel

Release date: August 24, 2016

Main characters: Harper Jayne, (our heroine and new employee at King & Associates) Max King (our surly yet devastatingly handsome hero).

Blurb: I keep my two worlds separate.

At work, I’m King of Wall Street. The heaviest hitters in Manhattan come to me to make money. They do whatever I say because I’m always right. I’m shrewd. Exacting. Some say ruthless.

At home, I’m a single dad trying to keep his fourteen year old daughter a kid for as long as possible. If my daughter does what I say, somewhere there’s a snowball surviving in hell. And nothing I say is ever right.

When Harper Jayne starts as a junior researcher at my firm, the barriers between my worlds begin to dissolve. She’s the most infuriating woman I’ve ever worked with.

I don’t like the way she bends over the photocopier—it makes my mouth water.

I hate the way she’s so eager to do a good job—it makes my dick twitch.

And I can’t stand the way she wears her hair up exposing her long neck. It makes me want to strip her naked, bend her over my desk and trail my tongue all over her body.

If my two worlds are going to collide, Harper Jayne will have to learn that I don’t just rule the boardroom. I’m in charge of the bedroom, too.

Why you should read it: I’m a big fan of Louise Bay. She usually writes very down-to-earth characters, and even if they’re extremely wealthy there’s always depth to them and a little vulnerability. Max and Harper are no exceptions – they both have valid reasons for being the way they are and their mutual attraction quickly builds throughout the book. This book is a departure from the cozier, less drama-filled books from Louise Bay. Fans of angst will have a field day with Harper’s character and the passion that boils over between her and Max.

What you might not like: OK, it’s confession time. I didn’t care for Harper. One. Bit. From the first chapter she comes across as whiny, immature and unprofessional. She complains to anyone who’ll listen how ‘terrible’ her boss is, (because he doesn’t gush all over her work) then dwells on her relationship issues with her father. She’s supposed to be ambitious and strong but comes across as petulant, self-absorbed and completely unreasonable. Max is your traditional hero in some ways – successful, rich and like to be in control. However, there is another side to him – he’s a father trying to do his best for his daughter Amanda. I liked this side to his character, as not many heroes are family men until the end of the story. The chemistry between he and Harper lacked something in my opinion – maybe it was how they both jumped into hating each other, then being in lust with each other. It didn’t quite work for me, perhaps due to the inner dialogue of both characters that exasperated me at times and it failed to keep my interest.

Rating: I give King of Wall Street 2.5/5 stars for being mildly entertaining and well written. It was ok, but definitely not my favourite Louise Bay read either. I hate giving less than stellar reviews, but I’m sure some will adore this book.

KOW-Banner

Leveling The Field by Megan Erickson

Book: Leveling the Field

Series: Gamers #4

Author: Megan Erickson

Release date: 2 May, 2016

Review by: Onni

Basic story: When photographer Lissa Kingsman first lays eyes on the mysterious and sullen Ethan Talley, she is intrigued. His sex appeal is off the charts and she wants him to be part of her upcoming show, featuring the stories and experiences of those who’ve undergone trauma and scarring.

Ethan makes it absolutely clear that he doesn’t want his picture taken under any circumstance and both his business partner and Lissa better take heed. Incensed and generally angry with life, Ethan finds he cannot shake his attraction to Lissa. Her way of simply being attracts him, and she could be the only thing that will dull his torment.

Lissa is desperate to hear Ethan’s story. His scars are visible for all to see, whereas hers are deeply embedded. Maybe together, they can exorcise their demons and finally find peace…

Review: This book had all the ingredients to make it great. A feisty and level-headed heroine; a glowering hero who messes up consistently and is afraid to go after what he wants; an interesting premise and some good chemistry. So the problem? Firstly, I couldn’t get on board with the writer’s style – some sentences were really jarring and oddly constructed. Example: when Lissa first meets Ethan, we’re not given the chance to build up a picture of her for ourselves. Here’s the first indicator that she’s a person of colour:

His [Ethan’s] gaze darted to Grant. “What’s she doing here?”

Lissa jolted, every instinct screaming at her to tell this prick to go to hell, talking about her like she wasn’t in the room. He was either a misogynist, a dick, or a racist at the sight of her black skin.

What does that last part of the sentence even mean? This was just one example of either poor wording or poor execution of what could have been a strong story. I’m a huge advocate of writers writing characters unlike themselves, but I found myself scratching my head. I don’t often look in the mirror and ponder my ‘black skin’ – the words just felt a little unnatural and over-thought.

However – I did enjoy the dialogue between the main characters when they weren’t hurting each other. Lissa was smart and she ultimately brought out the best in Ethan – so there are some nuggets there, (the scene with the glitter was hilarious) they were just too few and far between.

Rating: 2/5 – for an average read, at times a little self-conscious, some painting-by-numbers characters who somehow failed to leap off the page.

Submissive Seductions by Christine d’Abo

Book: Submissive Seductions

Author: Christine d’Abo

Genre: BDSM

Review by: Onnica

Release date: 16 February 2016 (previously released as Dom for Sale in 2013)

 

 

 

Blurb: Sometimes getting what you want…makes you crave something more.

Purchasing a Dom from a charity auction was the wildest thing Liz had ever done. The chance to bring her secret fantasy to life, to be a submissive—even just for one night—was worth any price. And Gareth was everything she wanted in a Master. He touched, he taught, he tantalized. He opened her world to pleasures she’d never imagined. But was it enough?

After one night turned into a blurred-line relationship, Liz’s feelings for Gareth went beyond desire. Yet the kink, no matter how hot, had her wondering if she could ever have a normal relationship. Her Dom was a man with a tragic past and he’d put rules in place from the start. If Liz chose to break them would she lose the intense passion she’d just discovered—as well as the man she loved?..


Why you should read it: It’s a fun premise and if you like this genre, then there is plenty of kink to sink your teeth into. Liz is a determined heroine – she wants Gareth to be her Dom and isn’t about to be derailed! Gareth is an interesting hero too. Dominant yes, but not outside of the playroom – he has stuff to work through, but he makes Liz’s welfare his priority, as every good Dom should.

What you may not like: Despite being really excited about the blurb, it took me quite a while to engage with the story and the plot. It seemed to be subdued somehow. While the chemistry worked between Liz and Gareth while they were at play, I wasn’t convinced of their attraction at other times. Somewhere there was a failure to launch for me. The story was fun but failed to hit my pleasure centres. It was just OK.

Rating: 2/5 – I just didn’t feel or believe their love. I needed to feel it rather than just read it. This one didn’t do it for me, I’m afraid. Maybe a I was still on a high from reading 30 Days, which was perfect.

Control by Laura Marie Altom

controlBook: Control

Author: Laura Marie Altom

Series: (A Shamed novel #1)

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

 

Basic story: Ella Patton (who also goes by the name Julie Smith) has run away from everything that was wrong with her life, and she intends to keep running from her abusive husband Blaine, until she’s on the other side of the country. Working in a snack truck in a Walmart, she plans her future carefully. Stay for a few more months and she’ll have enough to leave the state. She’s best alone, has no need to put her faith and hopes in another person.Trusting people only gets you hurt.

The night she meets Liam Stone, she is amazed that she feels something. She had thought Blaine had destroyed every last part of her. But one thing remains: desire. The pair struggle with their mutual spark, neither wanting to take risks and dive in, but both unable to resist.

Liam Stone is in town for a couple of days until his vehicle is repaired. A dot-com billionaire and founder of Zoogle (imaginative, right?) he has the world at his feet. When he sets eyes on ‘Julie’, he knows he has to have her. The usual shows of wealth fail to impress her and she brings out his long-buried insecurities. He is resigned to making her leave with him. The only question is how…

Why you should read this: This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I have to admit that it was different to the usual. There was high drama, plenty of angst and lots of chemistry between the pair. Where this deviates from other billionaire and beggar-girl stories is that Ella has known wealth too but she chose to walk away from it.

What you might hate: Ok, I’ll be honest. I don’t think I would have carried on reading had I not committed to reviewing this book. I found it really depressing. I found the constant arguments and misunderstandings between Liam and Ella gave me whiplash. I didn’t really connect with either character on a deep level and I just wanted it to be over. Abuse is a serious issue obviously, but I have read better versions of this trope. The heroine is damaged and I can totally understand that, but her propensity to run at the merest hint of trouble grew really tiresome! And the crying – all.the.time…

Rating: 2/5 for me I’m afraid. Not a fan of the characters and unfortunately, I’m not curious enough to see what happens in book two Possess, which is out in December. If you do read it, let me know what you think.

Control is out now.

Unscrupulous by Avery Aster

Unscrupulous CoverBook: Unscrupulous

Series: Book #2 The Manhattanites series

Author: Avery Aster

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Taddy Brill, independent twenty-something businesswoman is mistress of all she purveys and is busy leading her fabulous life in Manhattan. No time to meet a man she buries herself in work and her friendships – her chosen family, since she legally emancipated herself at the age of sixteen. Needing a little r’n’r at Christmastime, she and her equally fabulous friends descend to St. Barth’s, a Caribbean paradise.

Warner Truman is tired of fending off the attentions of gold-diggers and career girlfriends. He wants a woman with her own career, her own money and her own life. Having lost his first wife to cancer, he’s keen to make a meaningful connection again. When he meets Taddy, he’s convinced it could be her…

Why you should read this: As a kid I used to love reading my mum’s copies of Judith Krantz and Shirley Conran. This series reminds me a lot of Jackie Collins’ style of plot lines, intrigue and drama. The bitches are super-bitches and the heroine has a good heart underneath the tough exterior.

What you might hate: I really struggled to connect with the first half of this book, I’ll be honest. The characters felt two-dimensional and the humour seemed to be more important than the overall plot. This frustrated me – I didn’t want to read about a heroine who would stroke herself in public – there’s no need for it! Also, calling your potential other half Big Daddy? Sorry, I know there were Daddy issues, but it was a turn off for me. However, once the hero and heroine met and got to know each other, the dialogue became more natural and once Taddy’s character and vulnerability was allowed to develop, it became a decent read. I even teared up a little during one of their scenes together – it really was quite a sad scene. Warner is a refreshing hero – he’s reliable, faithful and sexy as all get out. I liked him throughout the book and the way he saw through Taddy’s tough veneer was hot.

Rating: Difficult – I struggled with the first half of the book which I’d give 2.5. The second half really picked up and I was left with an affection for the main characters. So I’m going to give it 3/5 overall.

Unscrupulous is out today.

Claimed by Stacey Kennedy

ClaimedBook: Claimed

Author: Stacey Kennedy

Series: Club Sin #1

Format: Netgalley ARC

Review by: Onnica

Basic Story: Presley Flynn is curious about an alternative lifestyle. When her roommate and friend Cora invites her to Club Sin, she’s nervous yet excited by the prospect of making her fantasies into a reality. When she meets the leader of the club Dmiti Pratt, she’s keen that he be the one to train her in how to be the perfect submissive.

Dmitri is at first amused by the innocent Presley and wonders what brought her to his door. She can barely talk about sex let alone become an exhibitionist in front of others. Simple curiosity converts to genuine affection for her and he’s determined to make her the perfect sub. His sub.

Presley enters a world that is completely different to her own. She finds acceptance for the things she wants in life and starts to build up her self-esteem. Dmitri is a strict yet considerate dom and she wanders whether they could ever be more…

Why you should read this: If you like the whole bdsm vibe but like it mainstream, then you will probably enjoy this book. It’s fun, it’s very smutty and there’s a story there too. Dmitri is a good guy with very particular tastes. He’s successful, strong, fair-minded with a heart. He doesn’t appear to be damaged or messed up in the head, which is a relief! Presley is a good girl who finds she needs to be dominated in order to feel fulfilled. Together they try to see whether they can take things further.

What you might hate: I expected there to be more of a story there. I don’t know, some of the interactions between Presley and Dmitri were a little cliché and at times I did skim over passages to get to the ‘plot’. There was no hook but it was a tale about a girl being trained in the art of being the perfect sub. Don’t expect too much and it’s an enjoyable read.

Rating: 2.5/5 for a pleasantly hot and steamy read set in an alternative lifestyle. I know I complain about too much drama but there wasn’t enough in my opinion. Just plenty of kink.

Claimed is out on 5 August.

The Marriage Merger – Jennifer Probst

Marriage_MergerBook: The Marriage Merger (Book #4)

Author: Jennifer Probst

Format: Unedited arc

Review by: Onnica

Basic Story: Julietta Conte is successful, stylish and has a wicked business brain. Life is good and she has it all. Practically. Who cares if she’s single? She doesn’t, that’s for sure. So what if all of her family are happily married and she’s the last single one with no change in status on the horizon? Convinced that love is not for her, Julietta buries herself in her work, carrying on the family baking empire with determination. A brave new business venture arrives in the form of family friend Sawyer Wells. The dynamic and dashing tycoon wants Julietta on board for his new venture – her bakery to be present in all of his luxury hotels.

Julietta is reluctant to give up control of her company to this risky project, but it makes great business sense. Gradually she becomes aware of her attraction to the domineering Sawyer but she is clear that their union will be business only. Sawyer has no such qualms about mixing business with pleasure. He sees beneath the frigid façade and is eager to unleash the passionate side she keeps buried. As their mutual passion grows, Julietta realises that she isn’t frigid, she just hadn’t found the right man – but can Sawyer be that man outside of the bedroom, or will his personal demons come between them?

Why you should read this: Jennifer Probst has a lot of hardcore fans who adored books 1, 2 and 3 in the Marriage series. The power play between Julietta and Sawyer is full of energy, there’s plenty of heat between the pair and even though you know what’s going to happen, fans will be pleased with the outcome and the journey.

What you might hate: For me, the journey to get to the happy ending was a little laboured. Sawyer, tormented by his past is convinced that he can’t offer Julietta anything more than sex. This went on for quite a while. And then there was the whole plot with the mother forcing them to get married, under the pretense that it was for business, but really, it was because she knew best and did it with other members of the family. What is this the 19th century? I know it’s about an Italian family, with old-fashioned views but come on – arranged marriages are not sexy. I’ll confess, I haven’t read the earlier books in the series, so I really didn’t buy the whole mystical theme running through the book. I can only suspend my disbelief so far and it snapped by the end of this story I’m afraid. Also, Sawyer had this uncanny ability to read Julietta’s thoughts just by looking into her eyes and knowing all her secrets. Please. Guys are thick – even the more perceptive ones never know what’s going on with women!

Rating: 2.5/5 – There were some great elements here – the gradual thawing of Julietta and her owning her sexuality. Sawyer was pretty hot and his back story was interesting, if a little drawn out. A pleasant summer read, with a happy ending all round.

The Marriage Merger is out on 30th July.

Collide by Gail McHugh

CollideBook: Collide

Author: Gail McHugh

Series: Collide #1

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Emily Cooper is starting the next chapter of her life by moving from Colorado to New York City. Following the death of her mother, she relies on the strength of her boyfriend Dillon Parker and the support of her best friend and roommate Olivia. Waiting for her first teaching job to come up, she fills her days waitressing at the local diner. After finishing up her first successful day on the job, she’s asked to deliver a takeout meal downtown. No problem, it’s on her way. Nothing can prepare her for what meets her there; a chance meeting that will change the course of events forever.

Gavin Blake knows the moment he sets eyes on her that Emily is the girl for him. Finally he sees what everyone’s been talking about – love at first sight isn’t just a myth, it’s real. Desperate to get to know her better, he rides with her in the elevator to find out more about her. When that doesn’t work, he continues his pursuit at her workplace the following day. Whatever is between them, it’s clear she feels it too. Despite the fact that she has a boyfriend, he’s not about to let that get in the way of destiny. Or so he thinks. When it transpires that Emily is in fact the girlfriend of a close friend, Gavin is forced to evaluate his priorities and decide whether all is fair in love and war.

Why you should read it: Like rich playboys with empires to run? Then you may enjoy this book. Gavin Blake is tall, dark with piercing blue eyes and a body for sin. Emily is the typical good girl torn between her history with her controlling boyfriend and a possible future with Gavin. If you are fond of a love triangle then give it a shot. The sex scenes are steamy and very hot. The book also attempts to deal with a serious topic – mental abuse and a controlling partner.

What you might hate: One word: Emily. She’s one step away from becoming a battered girlfriend. She has no fire, no backbone and absolutely no idea what’s best for her. The only thing she has going for her is her beauty. Everyone’s always going on about how beautiful she is – like that’s a virtue. It’s the only virtue she’s given. She makes bad decision after bad decision and bats back and forth between Dillon and Gavin. She’s honestly one of the THE worst heroines I’ve read in a long time and believe me, that list is LONG. There were glimmers of a great story at times but then it went from bad to worse and Emily is hell-bent at times on wrecking her life. Dillon has issues with fidelity but he doesn’t want anyone to so much as look at Emily without him losing it. Gavin is the more normal of the characters but even he is prone to stalker tendencies. It’s all a big mess.

Rating: 2/5 – honestly, I feel as though heroines should learn something on their journey if they start out weak in a book. They should be the type of person that the reader wants to be or can at least identify with. I honestly am curious to see whether she’ll come through in book two, Pulse, (out on August 10) but I’m not sure I’m prepared to re-visit these characters.