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review 2014-04-03 03:23
REVIEW: “Cowboy in My Pocket” by Kate Douglas
Cowboy in My Pocket - Kate Douglas

Genre:  CR

Length:  226 (Kindle pgs)

Heat Level/Content:  steamy/sensual

Publication Date:  Apr 9, 2012 (orig = Apr 1, 2001)

Publisher:  Beyond the Page Publishing

Series Info:  N/A

 

BLURB:

If you like your cowboys sexy, your heroines forgetful and your marriages convenient, this gentle parody of cowboy romances will leave you with a smile on your face and a sigh on your lips. Discover romantic comedy at its best in this captivating tale of a woman who finds her one true love and the cowboy hero afraid to give his heart.

 

Michelle Garrison is a prolific romance writer whose career is suddenly on a downslide. Her plots are boring, her writing is stale and her readers are fleeing for greener pastures. Desperate to revive her career, Michelle sets out to write a bestseller, and who could make a more worthy hero than a cowboy.

 

Force-marched to a dude ranch by her editor, Michelle soon finds herself trudging along a mountain road with no memory of who she is or where she's going, but thanks to the quintessential sexy cowboy hero, Michelle is saved. Swept up in her cowboy's arms even Michelle can see the parody in her own story: "Everything she'd read about cowboys must be true, she thought, almost hysterically. No wonder they made such popular heroes in romances."

(spoiler show)

 

Divider_Twist

 

 

* Review copy provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley.

This story is dedicated, with much affection, to all romance authors, especially those whose editors have admonished them to “write the book of your heart.”

 

(With the caveat “so long as it has a cowboy hero, an amnesiac bride, and a marriage of convenience. Oh, and a secret baby wouldn’t hurt.”)

 

The dedication says it all. The plot seems to use everything but the proverbial kitchen sink (or would that be secret baby? *grins*) and yet somehow, Cowboy in My Pocket rises above the deliberate, tongue-in-cheek clichés to become a fun, sweet, city-meets-country romance. I don't know if Ms. Douglas ever visited a dude ranch for research, but for this city gal, she brought a slice of Colorado ranch to life. :)

 

Very enjoyable CR from an author mostly known for her rather 'racy' PNR (so TBT, I was a tad *cough* disappointed that this story was more 'sensual'). Enough so that I hunted down a copy of the 2011 anthology, The Promise of Love, so to read the quasi-sequel, “Dime Store Cowboy”.

 

Full review to be posted shortly.

Source: karmabites.booklikes.com/post/840686/review-cowboy-in-my-pocket-by-kate-douglas
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review 2014-03-15 06:30
REVIEW: “Required Surrender” by Riley Murphy
Required Surrender - Riley Murphy

NB:  Review originally posted on Amazon and GR @ 25-Jul-2013.  Minor edits/clean-up after import to BL.

 

 

Genre:  CR-BDSM

Length:  novel (308 Kindle pgs/estimated)

Heat Level/Content:  Erotica (BDSM; anal; e/v)

Publication Date: 

Publisher:  Ellora's Cave

Series Info:  Surrender #3

 

BLURB:

Josephine needs a Dom to Top her if she’s going to conquer her issues with men. But when Ted, the frenemy she’s chosen, refuses, Jo needs to take drastic measures. She goes to his resort to find another candidate. Unfortunately, that plan’s a bust.

 

Headstrong Jo is a Dom’s worst nightmare. So when Ted discovers that a newbie has signed the “Full Monty” release form—an occurrence that has the resident sadists circling—he knows it’s Jo.

 

What’s a Dom to do? After he thanks her for giving him carte blanche, he hauls her ass up to the rodeo room for a ride. A ride that rapidly becomes a trip of epic proportions with kinky detours galore until they hit a fork in the road. One avenue leads to Jo’s prized independence and the other leads home to Ted. Now, Jo must decide between the two.

(spoiler show)

 

Divider_Twist

 

* Review copy provided by the author via the BDSM group’s

BDSM TPE BAR logo photo BDSM_TPE_BAR_logo_zpsd354ccb6.jpg

 

Sweet BDSM romance (but some quibbles...)

★★½ (rounded up to account for my personal quirks)

 

THE SHORT: Sweet, well-written BDSM romance about two people coming to terms with their deepest pains and fears. Recommended for those who enjoy a TLC Dom and/or are just getting into this genre.

 

THE LONG: By all measures, Required Surrender by NTM author Riley Murphy should’ve been a DNF. And at one point, I nearly did stop reading. However, I continued on because Ms. Murphy is a solid writer who managed to weave a coherent romance story with some smokin’ and varied BDSM scenes. So here’s an explanation of my final rating/review:

3-4 ★s for the BDSM scenes (considered separately from the story)
2-3 ★s for the story/writing
1-2 ★s for the BDSM concepts

My starting points and a few reasons why I came close to DNF’ing this book:

  1. Erroneously thought that I had read an earlier work by Ms. Murphy so didn’t expect such a TLC story. I generally prefer my BDSM reads to be more on the harder side but this, in and of itself, is not a deal breaker.
  2. I tend to shy away from storylines which involve use of BDSM for emotional/psychological therapy.
  3. I draw a distinction between D/s and M/s relationships so the unexpected switch mid-story with little foundation didn’t work for me.
  4. I have a hard line when it comes to the safeword and hard limits, and misuse and/or violations of either usually are deal breakers for me.

Added to the above is the fact that I didn’t find Ted too likeable. My perception of him ranged from “TLC Dom” (not really my preference) to “poseur Master” to simply “coward”. I also had a hard time suspending disbelief re: parts of his backstory, given the stated age frame.

While not out of the realm of possibility, I personally can't see a 16-18yo being sexually aware and/or experienced enough to take his first sub.

(spoiler show)

 

As for Jo, I couldn’t relate to her unsupported transition from wanting BDSM exposure therapy (so to deal with past trauma) to being a sub (especially when early in the book, “Jo wasn’t even sure she was a sub”) to being a slave. Furthermore, she was sexually inexperienced but ready to engage in fairly advanced BDSM play. I could swallow this somewhat as “mind over matter” but had a harder time with her going from a bratty sub (which, to me, generally = “immature”—again, not my preference in BDSM reads) to almost needy/desperate because she was in love. IMO, her desire to be Ted's sub—and then later, his slave—seemed to stem more from a willingness to do whatever it took to have him, as opposed to an “awakening” re: her submissive nature and the realisation that he fulfilled her sexual and emotional needs.

Yet despite everything, Ms. Murphy’s storytelling was good enough to keep me interested and reading… until I got to this:

“I expect you to take what I’m going to do to you without complaint.  If it proves to be too much for you say your safe word and I’ll let you leave…for good.  Understood?”

Um, no. Just “no”, full stop. That right there misrepresents and undermines the general understanding re: the purpose and concept of the safeword. There should be no consequences attached to a person’s use of a safeword other than the immediate cessation of BDSM play. Anything else should be a separate matter for discussion.

 

So why did I continue and read to the end? Because again, the writing was good and frankly, I was close to the end anyway. Unfortunately, a certain “moment of realisation” was more telling (vs. showing)/info dump and for me, the book sort of ended on a whimper as it relates to Ted and Jo. And the Epilogue is clearly to set up the next book, instead of the more standard “where are the MCs now and how has their relationship changed/gotten better”.

 

Despite hitting a few of my own personal “hard limits” and the small letdown at the end, I don’t regret choosing to read Required Surrender one bit. It introduced me to Ms. Murphy’s writing and I would definitely consider reading another one of her books. In fact, the Epilogue to this one certainly worked in piquing my interest in David/Lacy. :)

 

Side note: Given that well-established Ellora’s Cave published Required Surrender, I didn’t take off for repeated technical writing errors (such as run-on sentences and necessary but missing commas) which I found very distracting. I lay those squarely on those involved in the proofing/editing.

 

NOTE: My deepest apologies to Ms. Murphy for the delay in posting this review. The mod was kind enough to give me a generous extension, which I ended up using to re-evaluate this book and write up a new review. But then recent GR site upgrades/maintenance tweaks posed all kinds of headaches until now.

Source: karmabites.booklikes.com/post/825230/review-required-surrender-by-riley-murphy
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review 2014-03-13 14:30
REVIEW: “Bloodraven” by P.L. Nunn
Bloodraven - P.L. Nunn

NB:  Review originally posted on GR @ Fall 2012.  Minor edits/clean-up after import to BL.

 

NB: This is a dark epic fantasy + paranormal.  220,735 words @ 300/pg = nearly 736 pages.

 

Simply put, BLOODRAVEN is one of the most riveting books I've read in a long, long time (1st read @ Jan 2009), and it came to me out of the blue. Having second thoughts after buying it, my friend asked me to "test" it first. At the time, P.L. Nunn was completely unknown to me but my friend described the book as a LOTR-type epic fantasy involving ogres and fey. (Yeah, he forgot to mention the graphic aspects of the book, as well as the M/M relationship.) After multiple re-reads, my only major complaint remains the same: the ending begs for a sequel. Hell, I'm begging for a sequel, even after all these years.

 

Reviews already discussed the plot, characters, and the graphic nature of this book so I'll just lay out my reading experience. I didn't look up the book so I blindly stepped into the unfamiliar realm of M/M, graphic violence and torture (including rape), and other firsts... and immediately fell into the abyss of Nunn's incredible world. Within a few pages, I'm mumbling holy sh*t and reaching for my drink and then a non-existent cigarette, as I proceeded to literally devour the pages until I fell asleep. Woke up the next morning, made coffee, and promptly hid until I finished the book.

 

BLOODRAVEN is a throwback to the old days of books; at 600+ ebook pages, it's hefty and meaty. But Nunn's vivid narrative, a potpourri of multi-layered characters, and near effortless storytelling combined to achieve that rare occurrence—transporting a reader into the story. I was too busy journeying with Yhalen and Bloodraven (and squirming a bit uneasily at times) to notice the rapidly passing pages and hours until I finally reached the end and sat back exhausted.

 

Did I have a few "whaaa?" and "nooooo" moments? Yeah. So my advice to future readers: If you're squeamish and/or have an inviolable comfort zone, this book may not be for you (yet). If you've never read M/M before, this book may not be the one to pop your cherry. (But then again, if you're familiar with present-day erotica... although I have a hard time considering this book as erotica per se, even though the sex scenes are erotic, helping to make BLOODRAVEN one of my personal best enemies-to-lovers stories). Also, BLOODRAVEN could seriously spoil you vis à vis other dark/erotic fantasy books, even Nunn's other works.

 

If you do decide to try this book, plan accordingly. Don't start it on a weeknight; you may not get much sleep. Don't think you can do your laundry while you read, and above all, don't try to cook up a meal somewhere in-between. Be safe and order take-out. Oh, and don't read it when children may be about; choice words may well fly out of your mouth at certain points. :)

Source: karmabites.booklikes.com/post/823606/review-bloodraven-by-p-l-nunn
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review 2014-03-13 13:41
REVIEW: “Bloodraven” by P.L. Nunn
Bloodraven - P.L. Nunn

NB:  Review originally posted on GR @ Fall 2012.  Minor edits/clean-up after import to BL.

 

NB: This is a dark epic fantasy + paranormal.  220,735 words @ 300/pg = nearly 736 pages.

 

Simply put, BLOODRAVEN is one of the most riveting books I've read in a long, long time (1st read @ Jan 2009), and it came to me out of the blue. Having second thoughts after buying it, my friend asked me to "test" it first. At the time, P.L. Nunn was completely unknown to me but my friend described the book as a LOTR-type epic fantasy involving ogres and fey. (Yeah, he forgot to mention the graphic aspects of the book, as well as the M/M relationship.) After multiple re-reads, my only major complaint remains the same: the ending begs for a sequel. Hell, I'm begging for a sequel, even after all these years.

 

Reviews already discussed the plot, characters, and the graphic nature of this book so I'll just lay out my reading experience. I didn't look up the book so I blindly stepped into the unfamiliar realm of M/M, graphic violence and torture (including rape), and other firsts... and immediately fell into the abyss of Nunn's incredible world. Within a few pages, I'm mumbling holy sh*t and reaching for my drink and then a non-existent cigarette, as I proceeded to literally devour the pages until I fell asleep. Woke up the next morning, made coffee, and promptly hid until I finished the book.

 

BLOODRAVEN is a throwback to the old days of books; at 600+ ebook pages, it's hefty and meaty. But Nunn's vivid narrative, a potpourri of multi-layered characters, and near effortless storytelling combined to achieve that rare occurrence—transporting a reader into the story. I was too busy journeying with Yhalen and Bloodraven (and squirming a bit uneasily at times) to notice the rapidly passing pages and hours until I finally reached the end and sat back exhausted.

 

Did I have a few "whaaa?" and "nooooo" moments? Yeah. So my advice to future readers: If you're squeamish and/or have an inviolable comfort zone, this book may not be for you (yet). If you've never read M/M before, this book may not be the one to pop your cherry. (But then again, if you're familiar with present-day erotica... although I have a hard time considering this book as erotica per se, even though the sex scenes are erotic, helping to make BLOODRAVEN one of my personal best enemies-to-lovers stories). Also, BLOODRAVEN could seriously spoil you vis à vis other dark/erotic fantasy books, even Nunn's other works.

 

If you do decide to try this book, plan accordingly. Don't start it on a weeknight; you may not get much sleep. Don't think you can do your laundry while you read, and above all, don't try to cook up a meal somewhere in-between. Be safe and order take-out. Oh, and don't read it when children may be about; choice words may well fly out of your mouth at certain points. :)

Source: karmabites.booklikes.com/post/823630/review-bloodraven-by-p-l-nunn
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review 2014-03-13 05:00
“Magic at Work” by Sotia Lazu
Magic at Work - Sotia Lazu

NB:  Review originally posted on Amazon and GR @ 30-Mar-2013.  Minor edits/clean-up after import to BL.

 

 

Genre: CR + a dash of paranormal

Length: novel (237 Kindle pgs)

Heat Level/Content: Hot! (m/f vanilla; *tease* of D/s)

Publication Date: March 2013

Publisher: self

Series Info: N/A

 

BLURB:

She thought he hated her. He thought she was too good for him. Fate proved them both wrong.

 

On a slow day at work, Lexi Adams discovers an on-line erotic romance novel. Intrigued by the similarities she shares with the heroine, she starts reading and becomes enamored with the leading man. The problem is, she’s only able to access the novel on her work computer.

 

Ric Ackart, head of the IT department, suspects she's slacking off and decides to find out what she does in front of her computer screen all day. His surprise at what takes up her time is overshadowed by the fact that the novel's leading man shares his face and the name he used years ago...

 

Now Ric is forced to come to terms with his feelings for her―but Lexi isn't willing to share more than her body...

 

Author's Note: This book contains graphic language and explicit sexual situations that some may find objectionable.

(spoiler show)

 

Divider_Twist

 

*** Review copy provided by the author ***

 

THE SHORT: Definitely recommend this funny, light-hearted ROMcontemp with an unusual PNR twist. A welcomed change from the overly angst-ridden stories flooding the market of late, I think that “Magic at Work” will appeal to a wide range of romance lovers—so long as they can handle the smokin’ erotic moments. *wink*

 

THE LONG: I could’ve read “Magic at Work” by relatively new author Sotia Lazu in one sitting if not for RL and some other interruptions. Well-written with a style which resonated with me, I was immediately drawn into the story. Much of that had to do with the naturalness of the dialogue; while reading, I could “hear” the conversations in my head and could easily imagine my friends and me having similar ones.

 

Although the likable MCs are in their mid-20s, I could relate to them because either I went through the same phase or their realistic behaviour and uncertainties applied across a wide age range. Moreover, while they seem “young” sometimes, both characters possess maturity appropriate for their ages (read: no real TSTL moments). And I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book without the tropes of an abusive past, hateful or negligent parents, back-stabbing friends, and/or vengeful exes. (Oh, and sorry, no suave billionaire either.)

 

So what’s the problem and whence the conflict? Well, seems that both Lexi and Ric suffer from the “once burned, twice no effin’ way” syndrome. Unfortunately for them, they also suffer from an instantaneous, nearly irresistible attraction to each other. Lexi fights it much more than Ric but then, she may have more reason for her stubborn denial. Plus, it serves as the vehicle for the emotional back-and-forth between these two.

 

May seem fairly simple but Ms. Lazu took that basic premise, added a splash of paranormal, and produced a book which had me chuckling, snorting and laughing at multiple points.

Ha, you peeked!  Just keep in mind the joke re: bestiality, the towel, hanky in meeting room, and retelling of the photocopy room incident.

(spoiler show)

Oh and the creative sex scenes… *fans self in memory*

 

Just so there’s no confusion… There’s no last minute hurdle to overcome. The MCs work through their differences, and there’s a definite HEA. (That’s not a true spoiler because we pretty much expect that in a romance, yes?) So “Magic at Work” is more about how Lexi and Ric get past their misunderstandings and bickering to reach their HEA. Of course, there’s also their erotic encounters along the way and the clever, steamy “story within a story” role a certain on-line erotic novel plays in their relationship.

___________

 

Note: This last bit is just me… I did notice some edit/proof stuff (but well within the “we’re all human” range) and had funky italics in Chapter 15 (but could’ve been my device). Also, kinda wished Ric had been more masculine (for lack of a better term); I don’t like my males to get teary too often. ^ᴗ^

Source: karmabites.booklikes.com/post/823382/-magic-at-work-by-sotia-lazu
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