Hoped For A Bit More

24356316Stealing Rose: A Novel by Monica Murphy
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

STEALING ROSE didn’t exactly steal my heart. In fact, I may have gotten pricked by a thorn or two or three, but the words did flow freely, or maybe that was my imagination running through the fields and dipping into the valleys. Rose and Caden seemed like a perfect pair, except for the fact that the world is imperfect, and it’s easy to end up distracted when your dad is banging a younger woman with ice in her veins. Dirty talk and dirty deeds don’t come cheap, but sexual acrobatics are always a great party favor.

I’d hoped for a bit more, but I could have gotten burned out in my erotica endeavor, and instead of ending up with a smile on my face, I looked at the world in utter disbelief. What could have been a great adventure felt a little too contrived for my taste, and the plot seemed to go to waste just a bit. Had spontaneity entered the equation, I might have ended up with a slightly different persuasion. I’ll look to the left and slide my hand to the right, and hope that I don’t end up with stage fright.

Fowler might just be an apt way to describe a Rose that has fallen off the bloom. And if I am to believe what other reviewers have said this storyline follows OWNING VIOLET just a little too closely. It may seem just a little bit crazy, but I prefer it when authors are willing to take a risk or two. But then there’s always the possibility that I have no idea what I’m talking about.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

A Texting Fiend

23013977Vanilla by Megan Hart
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Elise kind of rocked my world. She’s damaged and half-crazy and filled with domination tendencies and a texting fiend who doesn’t let a single message go unanswered (the callback can occasionally be an issue for some) and sexy and an outfit whore and there’s probably just a bit more that I’m missing. But she’s good at falling for the wrong men. Which begs the question: Why settle for a bastard? Tis one of life’s great mysteries. Curiosity has gotten the better of me before, and it probably will again sometime soon. Questions tend to lead to more questions, and before I know it, it’s completely out of control.

Niall wasn’t one of my favorite characters. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Maybe it’s because I became protective of Elise, and her domineering antics. Were I to have her all to myself, though, I’d probably be in over my head in less than ten seconds. But good plans fail and even great ones don’t always succeed.

VANILLA proved a little formulaic, but I was willing to forgive it this shortcoming, because yes, I was rather invested with Elise. Probably too much in this particular instance, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Isn’t that why we read erotica? At least that’s the case with me anyway. I want to see the panties drop and the breasts bounce and the shower scene and the ladies scream and debonair with more than a hint of flair and slightly contrived plots that sometimes coat check my imagination and the occasional ménage a trois. And all I can say is I’m a man with an active imagination. And I don’t give a shit if it’s supposedly just for chicks.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Pre-Mature Evacuation

17796163Wicked Beat by Olivia Cunning
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

If you want to learn how to deal with important concepts like pre-mature evacuation and how to lure the best hottie when you’re buried behind a drum set and the fourth famous member of a band, then WICKED BEAT is for you. The cover alone knocked me on my ass and had me conjuring up images of black panties and blow jobs in the back of cabs, and I might have even passed out once or twice on my living room sofa. But it’s all part of an Olivia Cunning experience where the sexual acrobatics practically levitate off the printed page, and I found myself being transported to the next room to listen in on the dirty deed.

The whispers came in a heavy, breathy voice, and the pages were filled with enough sexual exploits to keep a married couple occupied for nearly half a year. The book porn industry is alive and well, my friend, and totally thriving at the truly capable hands of Ms. Cunning. She must read the Kama Sutra for “research purposes,” and if I could write a sex scene the way she could, that might be how I’d spend my downtime as well.

Eric Sticks reminded me of your average man in the biggest rock band, and his goofy personality and relatableness added another dimension to this sexually deviant tale, and Rebekah Blake was a blonde so hot she needed to be 50 feet away from flammable objects. So, yes, y’all this ended up being a rather nice fantasy for your average male of average intelligence who may not have started out as a Casanova in the bedroom, but was willing to take direction from a pink-pantied temptress who was stacked with a rather nice rack and adventurous to boot.

While it would be easy to make the argument this was a teenage fantasy written by a more than capable author, it ended up being more than that. But I need to space out my Olivia Cunning reads to ensure proper and even blood flow.

Life Of A Con

18760674Ignited by  J. Kenner
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

If this hadn’t been my sixth J. Kenner book, I’d probably be loving life a little more than I am right now. What started out as a fun fantasy has turned more than a little crazy. Sure, I’ll freely admit I have a problem and thy name is book smut (aka book porn). When I discovered this little bastard about the time people were talking up Fifty Shades Of Grey like it was the second coming of Playboy, I became more than a little curious. So I dipped my hand in Release Me, and the next thing I knew I had a pair of handcuffs slapped around my wrist. And shit was I hooked. I moved on to Fifty Shades and discovered the writing may not be so hot, but the sex scenes certainly were, and Anastasia Steele may be a twenty-one year old virgin, but she sure as shit didn’t act like any virgin I’d ever met. And then I started actively seeking this shit out, and I discovered (rather happily) that there was plenty of book smut to be had.

And then I got a little carried away…What J. Kenner does rather well is add a layer of depth to her book smut, and she proves she can turn a phrase about as well as her heroines drop their pink underwear. I mean, damn, this might literally heat you up faster than an oil tanker in Alaska. If you want to cozy up next to a fire and be filled with desire and have characters who might be more than just a teenage fantasy, honey have I got an author for you. Men, do yourselves a favor and grab an armful of erotica and run to the nearest available cash register. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

So what went wrong? The life of a con just filled me with all sorts of wrong, and my fantasy bubble was burst. It exploded, and then shattered around me, even as I found myself continuing to turn the pages. Cole and Cat didn’t hit me like that, and I found myself more than a tad disappointed. So one might say, you could blame it on my own expectations. Because I was looking for a peak (a wonderful send-off if you will), and I was left with a valley instead. But what I will say before I go is that I rather enjoyed the way this trilogy focused on a trio of heroes and heroines, instead of ruining a perfectly adequate tale by spreading it over three novels (Fifty Shades I’m talking to you). But then J. Kenner has plenty of talent, along with a wicked imagination. And she’d probably make one hell of a librarian.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

A Few Pairs Of Boy Shorts

22663193The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I guess I’m a sucker for happy endings. I like it when life works out in a neat little package wrapped in red ribbon and blue paper, and I find the warm, gooey center filled with sugar and jam. But sometimes life kicks you in the ass, staples your forehead to the living room carpet, and then swipes your lunch money.

While it would have been easy to call this novel cheesy, and then add a bit of sap and honey for good measure, I don’t feel as though that truly sums up THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. Of course, if that’s how you would like to view it, and then move on with your life, I can understand where you are coming from, and respect your decision. But I do think you have to dig a little deeper on this one, and pull out your backhoe (that you just happen to have lying around) instead of your shovel.

When I did this, I discovered a world where Ezra Faulkner had a big head on his shoulders, and brushed off all the folks who could have helped him make a difference. But then his leg was shattered in a tragic accident, and he was forced to reinvent himself. Rather than crying over his iPhone, and watching House reruns, he got his shit together, and took the racket off his shoulder. And I respected and admired his decision.

Cassidy Thorpe might have more than a few pairs of boy shorts and button down shirts in her possession, but she’s beautiful on the inside and out, even if she has a slightly different perception of herself in the bathroom mirror. And, yes, I may have looked at her with a bit more than just fond affection.

I sucked this novel up through a straw in three days’ time, and the teenager inside of me (and all of us) was more than happy with my decision. The romance was beautiful and thrilling, even if it kicked me in the pants at the end, the dialogue was intriguing and spot-on, the pace proved to be both intriguing and interesting and just about right, and the characters were just odd and awkward enough to help me reminisce my high school years.

If you’d like to rediscover your teenage self, then you might want to take a peek behind the curtain, and see what this particular book has in store for you. You might just be glad you did.

Feel Nothing And Everything

19747310Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Nothing beats young love. Nothing. That first kiss, the newness of it, the way your tongue combines with hers, and you’re ready to scream and run through the halls, pounding on lockers as you make your way to the principal’s office, and you’re convinced there’s no such thing in the world, no words to describe this wonderful, penetrating sensation. No one else has experienced what you’re feeling right now, at this particular moment, instant really, when two worlds collide, and your heart stops for a second, and then another, and you feel so much, so much that it hurts, and maybe you’re ready to burst, from this goodness and wonderfulness. You’re fucking ecstatic, filled with hope and pride, and you’re like a freight train ready to collide. ELEANOR & PARK made me feel all of that in 336 pages, and probably a hell of a lot more. It took me about a day to process all of my emotions, and this sticky goodness that attached itself to my beating heart, and it’ll probably take me a few more days to come back to reality.

When the novel first started, it wasn’t a match made in heaven. In fact, I didn’t like Eleanor, and Park wasn’t much better. Even the first time they sat together on the bus, it was more out of pity than any real emotional connection. As for the back and forth perspective, I’ll admit I wasn’t all that into it at first either. It seemed too quick and fleeting at times, and then it all seemed to fall perfectly into place, like the stars and moon and heaven aligned. Like this novel, and my life, and maybe the constellations aligned to bring us together, and the dialogue proved quicker and sharper than I could have possibly hoped, and the story sped up like a locomotive, and my mind went into overdrive, as the pages flew by. And I read the whole damn thing in one day. That ought to tell you something right there, because normally I spread my novels out over at least a couple of days. Sometimes longer.

And then we reached the climax and finale. That ending: I feel like my life just ended.

I feel nothing and everything at the same time. Like the best relationship of my life just ended, and I had no say in the matter, and now I need a box of antidepressants and maybe an entire bar of chocolate and an ice cream cone. Like I can’t stop feeling, like the whole world is filled with this energy that I’ve harnessed for myself, and that I can’t contain it even if I wanted to. But I don’t want to contain it. I don’t want any of it to stop or end, because I might never feel this way again. It spans excited and happy, pain and sorrow, sadness and anger, empty and raw. When will this emotional roller-coaster end?

Storytelling Ability

8131443All The Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Like a songwriter who writes his chorus before he discovers his verse, I rarely ever start a mystery/thriller series at the beginning. ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS is no exception to this rule; however, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed J.T. Ellison‘s debut novel. Sure, it’s easy to make the argument that this book was a bit formulaic at times, but unless you write literary fiction, what book isn’t? With only 20 plots (or 3 or 7 or 36, depending on whom you ask) to work with, it’s not like authors have an abundance of choices out there. What it really boils down to is character and storytelling ability. And I’d say Ms. Ellison has both in spades.

Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and Dr. John Baldwin made the story interesting for me, even if they weren’t quite fully-formed, and I gathered pages the way a squirrel might gather nuts. I was suspended and dangling, although I still had a firm grip on reality.

Even as I reached the end, I found myself wanting more, of these characters and of this city. But I didn’t find myself craving more dead bodies. All in all I’ll be interested to see where this series goes next.

Challenge Accepted

15839315Being Me by Lisa Renee Jones
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I could say Sara McMillan is as sexy as sin, but then I’d have resorted to a cliché, and I try to avoid them as much as possible in my line of work. But she could make a man drop his drawers, even without the inclusion of alcohol on said occasion. She does have a strong will to go with her soft body and succulent curves, but I’m probably getting a tad ahead of myself.

I’d like to tell you that this particular series hasn’t grabbed ahold of my wrist and yanked me into the midst of it, as I wade my way through the highs and lows of love gone awry, and a particular passion that seems more than just reserved for special occasions. But I’d have to call myself a liar, and I prefer to stick to the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Sure, BEING ME might have been filled with a cliché or two, and I can’t help but admit I was frustrated more than once as I waded my way through the saltwater with my head held high as the waves slapped at my thighs. But it was also filled with some decent writing, and more than one sex scene that hung me out to dry and left me hot and bothered and squirming in my seat. And the characters seemed to have a bit more flesh on their bones than the occasional skeleton in the closet that may or may not have appeared on the scene of the crime.

And it’s also entirely possible this story could have gone more than just a bit astray in the wrong set of hands with the wrong amount of passion at the forefront—and that particular series shall remain nameless here, as I know you can fill in the blank. But that wasn’t the case here. Michael appeared, and then Michael was quickly discarded, along with a father who was more absent than he was present for the party, but instead of turning this particular tale into Swiss cheese, it managed to add an additional layer or two.

So, yeah, this story (and series) more than captured my attention, and Chris Merit showed he could offer up more than just a flavor of the month, while Mark Compton might have had more than just a few screws loose in his closet. *BEGIN SPOILER* And Ava (not to be confused with Gardner) did find herself just a step removed from the insane asylum with her mode of transportation on red alert and the local authorities on standby. *END SPOILER* But it was all a part of the song and dance, and I was more than happy to listen to the band.

While some erotica series start to run out of gas around the end of the second novel, this doesn’t appear to be the case here. So, yeah, I’ll stick around for the third book, and possibly even the ones beyond it, and hope I’m proved right. But there’s also the chance I could be proved wrong. Still, there’s only one way to find out, and I do believe I’m up for the challenge. So as Barney Stinson would say, “Challenge accepted.”

A Peeping Tom

17130754Hot Ticket (Sinners on Tour, #3) by Olivia Cunning
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Whenever I read an Olivia Cunning novel, I feel like a Peeping Tom. I see, taste, touch, smell, and hear on a whole nother level. Sensory overload feels like a flippin’ understatement. I could speculate on where she comes up with her material, but I’d be similar to an accountant pulling numbers out of his ass. What I do know is that I often feel as though I’m about to do something illegal, and before the day is out, I’m liable to get caught. So when I’m staring down the barrel of a gun at the two individuals who just walked through my front door, I’ll hope and pray that they are wearing five inch stilettos, corsets, black lace thongs, and that they’re packing bullwhips on their luscious hips, instead of Tasers. As long as that’s the case, the blue uniforms and dark sunglasses will work out just fine.

I’ll admit I have the second book in my hip pocket, but what intrigued me more was a stripper/dominatrix named Mistress V who wears red leather boots in her pleasure room, and has enough curves to stop a semi at sixty miles an hour on a rain slick highway. I mean…damn. No, it’s more like double damn. And what had me really cheering from the nosebleeds was her convincing turn on the merry go round and humanizing V to the point that I nearly stood up and cheered, even if I was the only one around.

Yes, you can laugh at me all you want, and I might even deserve it, but all I saw were glorious curves and bending and twisting and bodies intertwining…and you can probably fill in a few of the blanks. I could practically feel the sexual excitement through my Kindle. I know it sounds crazy, and possibly even ridiculous, but if erotica has you racing to the bedroom faster than a thoroughbred, you’ll want to hop on this horse and ride it all the way to the ground. Guys, you need to grab this for your lady friend. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. In fact, you’ll be sending me Christmas cards for the next fifty years.

Sure, the dialogue may sometimes resemble partially hydrogenated cheeseballs; the rock stars and female sidebars may take a few of the more blatant stereotypes to heart; the plot might be as predictable as a one-way flight to Houston; and the subplots may not always be fleshed out in the same manner as Mistress V aka Aggie. But this is one train where you can thoroughly enjoy the ride. Just make sure you close the door to your sleep car.

Run For The Hills

19830753Surrender by Tawny Taylor
My Rating: 1/5 Stars

This book may have been about passion and SURRENDER, but I wanted to run. Run for the hills and never look back. I might have done it, too, but I felt a compelling need to finish this tale. Maybe so I could write this review, expunge this novel from my brain, and pretend that my life is filled with rainbows and pixie sticks. Or maybe I have a slightly sadistic nature when it comes to my reading material.

I like candy, and therefore I like candy books. I had hoped to add this book to my pastel collection. This novel, however, left a taste so sour in my mouth that I swallowed a bottle of Listerine, and yet the last hint of sourness still lingers between my teeth or under my tongue or maybe it’s at the back of my throat. Any way you slice it, though, it’s a battle that I lost, and come to think of it, I probably was never really in this fight to begin with.

Let’s start with the good. The sex. There was plenty of it to saturate my male fantasies, and still leave me with a few bated breaths for the next rip-roaring horizontal tango. And now I’m done with the good. So, in that regard, this book probably fits right in with Karen’s monster porn series. Only there were no monsters, unless you count acting like teenagers well beyond your teenage years in the monster category. Yeah, it scared the shit out of me, too.

I didn’t just dislike Abby and Kameron, although I’d rather not delve into another four-letter word just yet, so we’ll skip on by that particular calamity. The dialogue made me cringe in fear and cower in the corner. Both of these mishaps affected the sex, but we’re still in a plus on the BDSM factor. Call me a generous soul.

But then we get to the plot. Which was a bit all over the place. Had this book intensified its focus, we might have been able to add another plus here or there. But, yeah, we’ve got another minus in this particular realm. The rest of the characters proved to be mostly idiots and miscreants, and the supposed pretzel twist was a bit too easy to unravel. The story loop skipped ahead a few frames as I turned the pages, similar to a movie reel that someone had hacked away at with a pair of scissors. Possibly one of the “teenagers” from this novel.

The loves me-hates me-loves me dance grew mold way too quickly, and I had to clamp down on whatever ridiculous notions were about to pop into my brain. So, yeah, I made it to the end, but I’m not particularly happy about it.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.