Monthly Archives: March 2013

Beautiful Bastard

Beautiful Bastard
by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books
320 pages
Genre: erotica
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
3 / 5

What must it be like for Chloe Mills, forced to work for the titular beautiful bastard Bennett Ryan? He’s gorgeous, no doubt, and immensely sexually alluring. But he’s a bastard. Not in the literal sense, mind you, but more of the “he’s an a-hole to work for” variety. With her MBA smarts, Chloe is determined to outlast Bennett, if not outsmart him as well.

But … there is the matter of him being so hot and all. He might just turn out to be irresistible if, say, he presses her up against the wall, inserts his fingers into her vagina, kisses her breasts, and makes her orgasm on his hands.

Just sayin’.

Bennett and Chloe cannot stand each other. Let’s make this perfectly clear: they loathe each other. They may have a modicum of professional respect for one another, but their feelings are not of like or even tolerate. They HATE EACH OTHER. And so we are treated to all manner of hated-fueled sex.

They fight, they have sex. They argue, they have sex. They belittle each other, they have sex. They look at each other with hateful fuming, they have sex. In Bennett’s office and elsewhere. They are insatiable for each other, even if they hate themselves afterwards.

There is some corporate intrigue type stuff going on, but that is inconsequential. What we are supposed to care about is Bennett’s self-growth. He realizes that he has less than hateful feelings for Chloe, and we’re supposed to be impressed by that. We’re supposed to think it’s lovely that he grows up. For her sake, Chloe is fairly oblivious, convinced that the two merrily continue their hate sex.

I’ll be honest: I read the whole thing, and if I was never quite bored, I also was never fully invested. I really could not have cared less if Bennett and Chloe wound up together. In fact, I wanted the two to be torn asunder. I also could not have cared less if they were happy.

Having said that, I must give props for some hot sexy times. There is a lot of sex in this book, and all of it is really, really hot. Hateful, but hot.

So here is what I would do: read it, skimming the “plot” and “character development” (I can’t even type that without laughing) and go straight for the sex.

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The Fetish Box Part III: What Remains

The Fetish Box Part III: What Remains
by Nicole Camden
Published by Pocket Star
81 pages
Genre: erotica, mystery
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
3 / 5 

The three Fetish Box books are only about 75 pages each, which makes you wonder why they were split up into a trilogy of novellas. That question becomes even more confounding because of the third and (mercifully) last book in the series.

Mary and John continue their relationship, each having fallen in love with the other. Max still circles around, and Mary is still attracted to him. The sex shop remains under siege, and Mary continues to learn about the woman who was her mother.

Our merry trio needs to discover who is behind the attacks on the shop, as John and Mary’s feelings for each other continues to grow.

The problem with these three books is that independently, they are so slight as to be dull. You can’t find a rhythm reading just one, and the plot is so insignificant as to render it worthless. Together, though, they do make for a more interesting reading experience. That isn’t to say that they are all that good; they aren’t, really. The sex scenes are nicely written, but the characters don’t hold up. There are too many questions, beginning with why Mary is so quick to have sex when she comes to town. Nor do we really get a full picture of Mary’s mother.

There are better books out there. Read one of those.

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The Fetish Box Part II: What Escapes

The Fetish Box Part II: What Escapes
by Nicole Camden
Published by Pocket Star
75 pages
Genre: erotica
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
3 / 5

So in Part I, Mary headed to Florida after the death of her mother, whose presence in Mary’s life was nonexistent, to take over Mom’s sex shop business. Within a matter of hours, virginal Mary rocks the headboard with scarred veteran John (and those scars aren’t just on the surface, you know …) and finds herself wildly attracted to man whore Max.

Part II of the saga picks up moments after Part I ends, and our Mary has unleashed her inner sex tigress. She craves John – and he her. They have some rockin’ sex together, but as much as she cares for him, she can’t quell her attraction to Max. Given the opportunity to bed him, Mary finds herself powerless to say no. How does this go over with John? You might be surprised.

As Mary discovers her sexuality, she continues to learn tidbits about her mother, and the sex shop continues to be the object of vandalism and violence. Mary falls deeper into an emotional (certainly sexual) relationship with John, yet she fights fear over her business.

Again, we have a mildly entertaining premise peppered with some hot sex. You can finish each of these books in about an hour, so if you have a hankering for juicy sex scenes, these are a decent choice. Just don’t look for much more than that.

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The Fetish Box Part I: Open All Night

The Fetish Box Part I: Open All Night
by Nicole Camden
Published by Pocket Star
74 pages
Genre: erotica
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
3 / 5

This is a case of a good premise done dully.

Mary, a virginal twenty-two-year-old, discovers that her long-estranged mother has died and left Mary her business, which happens to be a sex toy shop in Florida. Mary heads down, moving into her mother’s – now Mary’s – home.

Before you can say, “Id like a flogger, please,” Mary has bedded one man, kissed another, and soon beds two in one day.

Let’s backtrack for a moment. She SHOWED UP A VIRGIN, y’all. That Florida sun can work a number on you, no doubt.

There is a plot in here, somewhere. Some sort of intrigue about the sex toy store as the object of vandalism. But the “plot” is really just a ploy to get Mary in bed with, first, John, a war vet with sexy scars, and, two, Max, a tattooed bad boy who is in it for the sex. John enjoys sexual domination, so there is a bit of BDSM here, but not much. Certainly not anything graphic.

This is the first of a three-part series of books, although given their brief size, they operate more as novellas. Give it a whirl if you want to read some decent sex scenes. Otherwise, this one is pretty unmemorable.

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The Best Man

The Best Man
by Kristan Higgins
Published by Harlequin
432 pages
Genre: romance, chick lit
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview.
4 / 5

I have a well documented girl crush on Kristan Higgins. Her books always seem to cure what ails me, showing me happy, quirky families, flawed heroines, hot heroes, and true love conquering all. Fairy tales, yes, but believable fairy tales, the sort that might come true. I regularly loan her books to my high school students, and when the girls do not return the books, I replace them. Between Kristan Higgins and Megan McCafferty, I have spent a fortune raising their sales numbers.

And now we have the latest Higgins book, The Best Man. Her books follow a general formula: girl from a boisterous, nosy, noisy family falls for a boy who loves her, but there are complications, usually on his side. They come together, get broken apart, come together, rinse, repeat. What makes the books so enjoyable, though, is Higgins’ writing style. She respects her characters, but with a wink and a smile. They are not perfect, their tales occasionally break your heart, but you will always enjoy a laugh (or several) as they go through their ups and downs.

For this one, the first in a series of sorts set in the same whimsical New England town, our heroine is Faith Holland, a landscape architect who bolted to San Francisco when her wedding was called off at the altar. By the groom. Who announced he was gay. And for which Faith holds local sheriff Levi Cooper somewhat responsible. Not for making Jeremy gay, but for failing to tell Faith his suspicions. Yet as we get to know Faith, we also can see that Jeremy left clues, even if he himself apparently had no idea.

Her career thriving in California, Faith returns home to help her family, who own a winery. The very first person she runs into is Levi, and Faith immediately feels herself propelled backwards to that fateful wedding day. She never got the sense that Levi cared much for her, and that sentiment seems to continue to hold true. Faith has trust issues – not surprising, given how the most important romance of her life worked out – and Levi has problems of his own.

As the two come together, their relationship is beset with various conundrums and problems. Typical of a Higgins book, most of the problems are Levi’s, and we feel Faith’s frustration in dealing with him. Somewhat atypical of a Higgins book, this is told in the third person. We spend most of our time in Faith’s head, but we do get into Levi’s every now and then. It helps us understand where each is coming from and what motivates them. Too often in Higgins’ novels, the book ends without giving us much clarity or insight into the hero (and I’m looking at you, Malone, in Catch of the Day). Here, we do have a greater understanding of Levi, which makes us care about him even stronger, which makes us cheer for him and Faith even harder.

This is not my favorite Higgins book – that slot is reserved for My One and Only – but I enjoyed the heck out of reading it. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love a little with the characters. And my girl crush on Kristan Higgins remains unabated.

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Filed under chick lit, cute romance, kristan higgins

Just One Night: Exposed

Exposed: Just One Night, Part II
by Kyra Davis
Published by Pocket Star
136 pages
Genre: erotica
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
4 / 5

Poor Kasie Fitzgerald. She goes to Vegas, has a night of rocking hot sex with a stranger, only to return home and realize that said stranger is about to be her client. Teensy problem, because she’s living with Dave, to whom she expects to be engaged. Not-so-teensy problem: Dave will not be happy to find out about Kasie’s affair. This was the story in Part I of the Just One Night series, The Stranger.

As Part II begins, Dave is on the warpath, and Kasie is terrified. It isn’t so much a fear of losing Robert as a fear of losing herself. In The Stranger, Kasie discovered her sexuality. She realized that she enjoys sex, she enjoys the intimacy of connecting with someone sexually, and her needs are important. Dave never made her feel that way. So when he shows up, guns blazing, Kasie feels herself slowly start to die.

And that is the focus of this book. Is there sex? Sure, there is. But the point of Part II isn’t whether Kasie can sneak off and rock the headboard with Robert; it’s whether she is strong enough to fight for herself. Robert has a habit of showing up to rescue her, but it becomes clear that Kasie needs to rescue herself.

Whereas Part I was a fun, hot read, this one gets more serious and more intense. We pick sides, and occasionally we change our allegiance. Dave? Robert? Is either all that he appears to be? Perhaps Kasie is better off picking up her toys and moving to a new sandbox entirely.

As with its predecessor, Exposed ends with questions. Part III is due out in May (and not a moment too soon, Kyra Davis … I am not amused that I have to wait), and I hope we will get some answers. By this point, you will be fully invested in Kasie’s story. Will she be true to herself and her needs? Will she sacrifice them for a man? Will it be Dave, Robert, or someone else? And will there be more hot sex?

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Just One Night: The Stranger

The Stranger: Just One Night, Part I
by Kyra Davis
136 pages
Published by Pocket Star
Genre: erotica
Thanks to NetGalley and edelweiss for the previews
3.5 / 5

You know what they say, right? What happens in Vegas and all that? Kasie might wish that was the case, but it turns out that what happens in Vegas might just follow you back home.

She’s there for a weekend of fun with one of her girlfriends, a friend who urges her to have sex with a stranger. This is largely because Kasie’s boyfriend Dave is – let’s just say – boring. Predictable, unexciting, unfulfilling. But dependable, solid, and loving, so he has that going for him. Even with her friend’s encouragement, Kasie isn’t so sure …

But then she meets Robert. They share a drink at the bar, and before you can say, “Check, please!” they are in his swanky hotel suite, rocking that headboard with all the fierceness of a chorus line of Vegas show girls. When Kasie leaves, she believes she has said goodbye to Robert.

Ah, but not quite. It turns out that a tasty of Kasie was enough to intrigue Robert, and he wants more. It also turns out that they live in the same city.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Kyra Davis knows how to weave an entertaining – albeit brief – tale. This is a quick read, and although we don’t spend much time with these characters, they are keep us interested and invested. The sex scenes? Hot. Very hot. Robert is … let’s just say yummy. If Kasie’s attraction to him isn’t as fully believable as it needs to be, we certainly can understand his for her. Dave? That’s a whole other problem, one that will be addressed in Part II …

And thank goodness their story continues.

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