Monthly Archives: August 2012

Deserving of His Diamonds

Deserving of His Diamonds
Melanie Milburne
Published by Harlequin
192 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes

Gisele Carter thought her life couldn’t get worse when she was dumped days before her wedding by Emilio Andreoni, who saw a sex tape presumably starring his fiancee. (Turns out it was her twin sister, but Emilio – and Gisele too, for that matter – had no idea a twin sister existed.) But that was only the beginning for Gisele. She discovered she was pregnant, had the baby without Emilio’s knowledge despite being told that the baby likely would not survive, and spent a mere six hours with her little girl before she passed away. Yes, Gisele finds herself in the midst of a bad run that suddenly gets worse.

Emilio shows up, apologizing for the break up, and hoping for a reconciliation.

Understandably, Gisele is angry. She’s hurt and she wants to hurt him in return. Emilio understand this, even if he is ignorant of the existence of his daughter, but he’s confident that he can convince Gisele to rekindle their relationship, even agreeing again to be his wife.

Emilio either is blindly optimistic or sadly delusional. Turns out he’s neither. He knows Gisele, and he knows how he felt with her. He wants her back, and if it takes a little work, he’s willing to do it.

Watching these two come together, back up apart, come back together, step back again is fun and even sweet. It also provides us with some pretty hot headboard rocking, because these two know how to engage in some sexy times. Regardless of how fractured their relationship is, their bodies want and crave each other. Which is good for those of us who like reading sex scenes.

This is a quick read, with a fairly predictable ending. Gisele and Emilio are not always likable, which is not necessarily a bad thing. They have their faults and yet they find a way to accept each other. Plus, the sex scenes are hot, and that’s always a good reason to read a book, non?

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Nine Months by Paula Bomer

Nine Months
Paula Bomer
Published by Soho Press
265 pages
Available on Amazon.com
3 / 5 cupcakes

The most compelling reason why I read this book was curiosity: was it possible for me to despise a main character for the duration of the entire novel, or would I come to like Sonia?

Turns out I pretty much hated her from the start and did not stop.

Paula Bomer’s Nine Months purports to be a resounding “Bitch, please” to all of those glowy, so happy to be pregnant, my life is now fulfilled novels about pregnancy.

But it isn’t.

Instead, it features some of the most detestable characters you will encounter in a novel, which means that Paula Bomer’s message that pregnancy is uncomfortable at best, utterly awful at worst, is lost.

The book opens with Sonia preparing to deliver her third child and first daughter. She is in a Philadelphia hospital; she lives, however, in New York. We soon discover that Sonia has been on something of an unsanctioned road trip. She needs to reconnect with her former self, visiting people she knew prior to marriage and motherhood. She needs to make sense of this unwanted pregnancy and her own ambivalence towards it. With each chapter, I became more and more distanced from her and her “journey.” I stopped caring. But I admit that Bomer kept me turning pages to find out the result of Sonia’s trek.

Lest we sympathize with her husband, the appropriately named Dick, Bomer takes care of that, too. He’s as unlikeable as his wife. Is his demand for a blow job supposed to make us feel sorry for Sonia? It doesn’t. Are we supposed to feel for him while his wife is traipsing across the country? We don’t. These two deserve each other.

I think Paula Bomer intends for us to see that pregnancy – not so much motherhood, but the actual pregnancy – can rip a life apart. But anyone who’s been pregnant surely realizes that. During those nine months, most women take inventory of their lives and suss out what will change. A lot of fathers and siblings probably do the same thing. Good old self-involved Sonia, however, focuses only on how her dreams appear kaput:

Before she moved to New York, before she met Dick, fell in love, got married and then, right away, pregnant (because face it, waiting until you’re forty to have a baby is stupid), before she became who she is now, a tired housewife with a bad haircut, before that, she painted. And nothing else really mattered to her. She lived in Boston, slept with lots of men, drank a lot and painted constantly. Day and night. She painted until her soul ached, and then she painted some more. She painted until the painting was good, and then she kept painting until the painting sucked, and then she painted some more. She had what they called dedication. Or a calling. She made little time for socializing, but she did fuck a lot. She fucked not one, not two, but three of her professors at the Museum School in Boston. And all this, without being beautiful or having large breasts. Her professors fucked her because she knew how to paint and it turned them on, or so she believed and still believes. OK, being young helped. But would Philbert Rush, famous abstract painter extraordinaire, really have fucked her just because she was twenty-two? He fucked her because he thought she was talented, too. Sonia loves her boys, loves them more than anything, but she’s been patiently waiting for this time to come. The time of no babies. Children are one thing, babies another.

Yes, children are one thing and babies another. Babies suck the life right out of you, but you know that they will grow up, eventually. You will not cut their food when they’re in high school. You will not change their diapers in college. I know it seems interminable, that time when they are helpless, but we logically know it will end. The problem for Sonia is that while she knows it is temporary, she hates it nonetheless. I don’t fault her for that. I fault her for other decisions she makes, ones that so selfishly affect and hurt her family, with whom she appears to not concern herself. When she calls her husband from the road and plaintively asks to speak to her sons, I half hoped he would hang up on her. She has not earned that right.

Nine Months undoubtedly will kick up a storm, and that perhaps is Paula Bomer’s intention. But for there to be honest discourse about the truth about pregnancy, we need to at least like the characters.

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We have a winner

Congratulations to Kelsey S. for winning the
BDSM Giveaway!

Kelsey won a digital copy of Bared to You by Sylvia Day.
Kelsey, you have 48 hours to reply to the 
email alerting you of your victory.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway.
I appreciate your support of this blog, BDSM books, book bloggers
everywhere and, most of all, READING!!

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What do you look for in a review?

review

The fine folks at Reading Romances asked bloggers what we look for in a review.

It seems like an easy question to answer, especially for those of us who write reviews. My blog basically shows you what I like: a decent, spoiler-free synopsis, followed by the reviewer’s thoughts about the book. I also need to know why the reviewer feels as he or she does.

If it’s a crap book, tell me it’s crap. As I’ve said before, I respect the hell out of writers, and I support them tremendously. But that does not mean that all books are fabulous. Some of them are awful. If it’s a great book that you can’t live without, then I want to know about it. Books such as The Replacement Wife, On the Island, The Next Best Thing, Gone Girl and Girl Unmoored are amazing, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have read them. One Pink Line, the Jessica Darling series, My One and Only – those are books I rave about to friends. But there are some books that I hope I never think about again, and that’s where I want honesty from the reviewer. There have been times that I cross post a review on Amazon or Goodreads and see that other readers gave the books four or five stars, and I’m struggling to give it two. Can our tastes really be that divergent?  OH, Divergent! That’s another good one.

Just be honest. You can be truthful without being hurtful. Tell me if the book is worth my while and my money. Don’t be mean or vindictive with a negative review, but don’t sugarcoat bad books, either.

I love to read. Anything that promotes reading is all right by me. So if reading drivel turns your crank, at least you’re reading, right?

Now, go support some of the blogs below. Check them out to see what they look for in a review.

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Etiquette for the End of the World

Etiquette for the End of the World
by Jeanne Martinet
Published by Liza Dawson Associates
278 pages
Available on Amazon.com
3.5 / 5 cupcakes

For some women, finding themselves on the cusp of forty, unmarried, childless, and recently dumped by both boyfriend and employer is akin to the apocalypse. And for Tess Eliot, it sure does seem that way. When she is hired by WOOSH, World Organization for Omniscient Solstice Harbingers, to write a book, Tess thinks her luck is starting to turn. Except for one teensy little problem. The WOOSH’ers believe the supposed Mayan prediction that the world will end on December 21, 2012, and the book Tess is to write is about how we should behave toward one another when the world ends.

This silly sounding premise might make you leery to read this book, but you should not worry. Etiquette for the End of the World is charming, entertaining, and humorous. WOOSH may want a book about the end of the world, but they want a funny book about the end of the world, and Tess is just the person to write it. Naturally snarky, she uses her talents to offer up a humorous take on etiquette as the world ends.

She also meets Peter, a George Clooney lookalike who charms her in spite of a nagging sense that he is too good to be true. Peter is a fundraiser for WOOSH, and clearly attracted to Tess. When she meets him at the bar she frequents, Richie, the bartender, approaches Peter with no small amount of suspicion. Maybe he really is too good to be true. Richie, on the other hand, is solid. He counsels Tess on her romantic and professional failings, and when she starts to suspect that there is something afoot at WOOSH, he supports her concerns. Too bad he’s gay, because Richie could be the perfect guy.

This is a romantic comedy of sorts. Parts of it are quite funny, and Tess engages in a couple of romances. She also has to make peace with her brother, Stuart, to whom the family beach house and money were left when their father died. Tess doesn’t understand why he won’t split the inheritance with her, but Stuart has his reasons.

The mystery angle of the book will spark your interest. What exactly is going on with WOOSH? Is there something nefarious happening, or is it merely a group of quirky fatalists? As Tess begins to dig into WOOSH, she uncovers information that leads her to believe the former, and we become curious right along with her.

While this is a pleasant little book, it is not something that will stick with you after you’ve read it. There are problems: some of the things that bother Tess about Peter are never explained, and the ending is far too neat and tidy. Still, though, it’s a sweet story that you will enjoy reading. Who knew the end of the world would be so funny?

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Mating Season

Mating Season: A Cabin Fever Novella
by Alice Gaines
Published by Avon Red
Available on Amazon.com Kindle
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes

The great thing about Alice Gaines’s books is that they understand their purpose: they provide us with a few hours of escapist fun. Hot escapist fun, in fact. These novellas do not reach beyond their ability. They simply entertain.

As with others in the Cabin Fever series, we have characters trapped alone in a small cabin in the woods; sexual shenanigans ensue.

In this case, our romantic duo is Gayle Richards and Nolan Hersch, sparring professors who each has a different theory about the mating habits of animals, elk in particular. Gayle invited Nolan and two of his research assistants to the cabin in hope of studying elk, although Gayle also hopes to change Nolan’s mind about his opinions on the subject. The fact that the two are attracted to each other only heightens the fun.

When Nolan’s assistants are blocked by a fortuitously timed flooded road from getting to the cabin, Nolan and Gayle attempt to make the best of the situation.

Boy, do they ever.

They make the best up against a wall, on the floor, in a shower, on the bed and up against a tree, amongst other lively locales. They make the best any place they can. All in the name of research, of course.

The circumstances leading to their coupling are flimsy at best, but we don’t care. We just want to read the hot stuff, and Alice Gaines provides it in abundance.

If you want to waste a couple of hours on some decently hot erotica, this is the novella for you. Don’t be surprised if you get cabin fever, though. The good news is that Alice Gaines has more books in the series.

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The Siren

The Siren
by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Harlequin MIRA
432 pages
Published on Amazon.com.
Thanks to Net Galley for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes

Those of you whose kink was tested by Fifty Shades of Grey can go ahead and skip this review, because if you thought Christian and Ana were edgy and disturbing, you have no idea – NO IDEA – what BDSM is all about.

If you’re still here, it’s because you want to find out about this hot, dark and passionate book. And it is … hot, dark and passionate.

We first met Nora Sutherlin in Seven Day Loan, in which her lover loaned her for one week to his friend. Nora was a submissive to her Dominant lover, and if he wanted to share her, he shared her.

In the previous book, Nora’s name was Eleanor, but here, she changed it for several reasons. First, she has left her Dom, a man she deeply loved (and who loved her in return) but with whom she felt a future could not exist. There is a reason for this, which was first revealed in Seven Day Loan. Nora also has become an author, having written several best selling books about – you guessed it – characters who engage in BDSM.

When we see her again, Nora has been assigned an editor, Zach Easton, an Englishman not too fondly known as the London Fog. Zach demands that Nora make wholesale changes to her book, but he assures her that if she tweaks it as he asks, she will write something extraordinary. Yet Zach strongly disapproves of Nora’s BDSM dalliances, causing her to keep a secret from him: she has become the number one Dominatix in New York City.

The Siren is all about double lives. Each character has one, and each must come to terms with which life is real.

First, there is Nora, author by day, dominatrix by night. But Nora, overachiever that she is, has another double life, if not a third. She develops feelings for Zach, just as she tries to understand her feelings for Wesley, a nineteen year old college boy she hired as a sort of manservant. Wesley is a virgin, and he and Nora care about each other quite a bit. She sees herself in him, even though he clearly is more of a vanilla guy than one interested in BDSM. Then there is her former Dom, whom she can’t let go. She submits to him, yet earns a tremendous fortune as a dominatrix.

In the case of Zach, we have the stereotypical stuffy Englishman who is shocked and disturbed by bondage and dominance. Yet he lost his virginity at age thirteen, seven years younger than Nora was. He is married, but his marriage is troubled; he left his wife in England to come to New York (next stop, Los Angeles). He is married, but he isn’t. He is appalled by BDSM, but drawn to it.

Then there is Wesley. Young, sweet, HOT Wesley. He is a solid Christian boy who studies hard in college and is devoted to Nora. Wesley must watch his insulin, because he is a severe diabetic. He says he wants to wait and have sex with someone who loves him, yet he is so determined to not be a romantic part of Nora’s life that he fails to see that she does love him. He is a virgin living with a slut.

But what you really want to know about are those sexy times, right? Tiffany Reisz can write some sex scenes, people. They are not wildly graphic (they are far, FAR less graphic here than in Seven Day Loan), and for the most part, there is a tender romance behind them. For all of her worldly experiences, Nora still wants what most of us want: to love and be loved, and to be allowed the freedom to experience those things.

Her relationship with her former Dom clearly is intended to shock us. Yet he, too, leads a double life (boy, does he ever). What is striking (no pun intended) about him, though, is the depth of his love for Nora. He really does love her, and when he tells her that he wishes she was still his, you feel it. Despite the dissolution of their romance, he nonetheless advises her on Zach and Wesley, and his observations are astute.

This is a good book. If you are curious about BDSM, please do not use Fifty Shades of Grey as your idiot’s guide. Instead, read this one. There are some wonderful explanations of the lifestyle, what draws people to it, what keeps them entrenched, and how it affects them. There also are some interesting discourses on erotica, which is the genre Nora writes. While there are not a lot of sex scenes, and those present are relatively tame, it’s because the focus here is the characters. In Seven Day Loan, the focus is a sort of sexual awakening.

And now I must go get ready for Angel, which is the next book in this series.

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