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text 2016-08-25 18:44
Waiting for Romeo by Diane Mannino
Waiting for Romeo - Diane Mannino

Tropes: 24

The second book, Waiting for Romeo suffers from the same issues as the first book. A "perfect" heroine. A hero who is barely a character, since his purpose is to tell the heroine how perfect she is, and how she changed his life. It continues with the slut-shaming.It adds some tropes as for the new adult genre, making the story even less original and even more bland. Apart from what mentioned in my review for the first book, this (and the first, too) suffers from uneven pacing (think glacier speed), awkward and lazy writing.

In the second book there is a bit mystery going on, but it's not much of a mystery (I guessed it even in the first book what was to come). Emilia has to face something from her past, but that isn't incorporated into the story until the last 20%, and several things that happened before with other characters are never resolved. The story becomes blander, the characters duller (if possible), and the story never seems to go anywhere, or have any sense of direction.

What I kept thinking while reading the second book was that it should've been one book. The first book barely has a plot, and it moves too slow, and the second is haphazard at best. The author should've written one book: it would've made for a tighter and smoother story and it would've had an actual, solid plot.

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text 2016-08-23 18:30
Running from Romeo by Diane Mannino
Running from Romeo - Diane Mannino

Tropes: 19

Welcome to the newest episode of The Next Been Done Before! Today's episode contains a heroine so beautiful that she can't see it herself even when roughly every guy she meets tells her so. We also have a hero who's most valued characteristic is his piercing eye color and how out of this world handsome he is. For good measure we throw in some deaths in their backgrounds, some martial problems among his or her parents, and something sexual in the past that could cause trauma for one of the main characters (you get two guesses on who!).

Introducing our heroine, Emilia King, a college student who's majoring in Shakespeare. She's perfect. Every guy she meets wants her. They ask her out constantly, and while she claims to not see how beautiful she is and how she doesn't want to go out with them, she never tells them outright no, and then blame them for continuing to ask her out, instead she tells them "some other time" or "not now". You'd think they get the message, but still. She's clumsy.

I am so embarrassed and caught up in the beauty of this man that I blush, trip, and miss the chair.


She's... in denial (given that everyone keeps telling her how beautiful she is).

Who am I kidding? He would never be interested in someone like me. I’m so boring, plain and he’s so…well, out-of-this-world gorgeous.


She's never felt sexual attraction before our hero crosses her path.

This is the first time in my twenty-one years where I’ve ever been interested in a man.


She's different from other girls, because... other girls don't listen to music?

“Most girls are all about Adele. You like the Neon Trees, Mumford and Sons, and the Black Keys. Any other favorites?”


And, of course, she's not like other girls.

“I think it’s safe to say that most girls feel that way, you would be the exception.”

“I suppose I’m not like most girls.”

“Emilia, first of all, no one is perfect. But if anyone is as close to perfection…that would be you.”



Now, for our male lead: Logan Prescott. He's perfect (except for once, and it's only so we'll have a cliffhanger at the end). He, also a college student and a business major, is a rich bachelor who, until meeting Emilia lived only for pleasure.

“You bewitched me. I don’t know how else to explain it. I met you and I realized that only caring about pleasure and instant gratification just made me feel empty, lonely. Does that make sense?”


Add to it, he's out of this world gorgeous (in case you missed the quotes above). Either way, he has a reputation of having multiple sexual partners. A fact that makes him avoid Emilia at first, for her own good, of course. He has the ability to cure Emilia of her nightly terrors by his mere presence after knowing her for roughly two hours. (Noteworthy that years of therapy, support from family and close friends could not manage this.) His most important characteristic, apparently, has nothing to do with his actual personality, though.

"He’s not only drop dead gorgeous but obscenely rich. He’s a keeper, Emilia."


Apart from that, his biggest (and only role) is to tell Emilia that meeting her - not knowing her - changed his life.

“I told you. I was quite careless and out of control for a long time. Meeting you made me want to change. Is that so hard for you to understand?”


By the by, this is also the general plot: Emilia's ability to change Logan's life. Because of this we have her doubting him whenever a woman comes within ten feet of him (which also makes it easy to include some casual slut-shaming). Add in some past trauma - hope you'd already made your guess - she must face it head on by simply being in a relationship with Logan. Which causes her best friend to give contradictory advice more or less all the time. Go out! Don't go out! Live a little! Life will hurt you! And more.

There you have it folks! This was another episode of The Next Been Done Before! 'til next time!

Also, before I forget: Authors, DO NOT use rape for shock value. Do not use it for the sole purpose off getting a (poor excuse for a) cliffhanger. Do not use it as a plot device. Do not "reveal" it on the last page.

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review 2016-08-20 17:49
How I became Lotus Raine...the porn star by Erika Ashby
How I became Lotus Raine...the porn star - Erika Ashby

After having read Moving Forward by this author, I wasn't sure I was going to give her another chance. The above mentioned book didn't sit well with me. Mostly due to its endless shaming of women, especially sexually active women. Then I saw the title of this one.

I was intrigued. My hopes were that this book would be nothing like the one I'd read before by this author. A book about a porn star (/sex actress) and that industry. Perhaps this would be a more complex representation of women, sex, and the porn industry. Adress the virgin/whore dichotomy.

Let me start by saying this: I was wrong.

She was dressed way more revealing than I’d ever attempted. I’m confident, but damn, I didn’t want to get molested.


I wanted him to feel somewhat special. Even though that’s only something females tend to feel


"Every girl wants to fall in love. And most books are about just that.”


Never mind there's a grammatical error on the first page (and they continue throughout the book), this book does not offer a complex story with nuanced characters or a good message.

The book is a interview done by the heroine after she becomes a porn star. Our heroine, Lucy, used to work for a company doing research for authors. Lucy's latest assignment: follow the daily life of a sex actor: Brent. As a part of this deal, Lucy goes to live with him for a week. Here's the twist: she already met him, and they almost had sex at a club. So when they meet at his home, sparks are flying all over the place. What follows is tension between them, Lucy at times uncomfortable with his profession, and at the same time morbidly curious. Regardless of her feelings, Lucy is determined to go make the best of her assignment.

Here's the thing: Lucy is horrible. She's the typical ultimate judgmental heroine. She constantly judges other women (unless they're her best friend, of course) even if she's never spoken to them. There's a (possible) backstory to why she detest women who have multiple sex partners. However, that particular part of her past is more about her own fears about being sexually active, and it's not explored in the story as a believable reason to why she'd loath women on sight. Instead, her endless shaming of other women seems unnecessary and only adds to the easy of disliking her.

Her hypocrisy is clear by the following example, from the book. Lucy is interested in Brent, the sex actor, and while at time she might wonder and ignorant of what his profession entails, she never quite judges him for it. She tries to see beyond his profession, which, props to her, but when she meets the first female sex actress, it's hate on first sight. Simply because this particular woman dresses a certain way, acts a certain way, and is a sex actress. Conclusion: According to the heroine, it's okay for men to be sex actors, but not for women.

The story, if we look at it instead of the characters for a second, is not much to write home about. The interview part was strange and not quite necessary except to throw a couple jabs at readers who likes to read books that feel real (and in extension, logical).

I didn’t get how readers could be so blunt when in disagreement. Usually the point of reading was to escape everyday reality. But once some cross that line, they get so hell bent over something they don’t find logical. Well, let me tell you something—life isn’t always logical.


The funny part about it is people push aside these real life possibilities while reading a fictional story. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Just freaking go with it folks.


A few things: Yes, people can read to "escape everyday reality", but some of us likes to do so with realistic stories. Realistic doesn't mean you have to get married, get 2.5 children, have house with a white fence... you get the deal. It simply means the story should feel real to the reader. (And I agree, life isn't always logical, but there's a different between illogical and unrealistic.) Second, "just go with it" is an argument I'm not buying. Like, let's all write racists, sexist, abusive, and whatnot, it's cool, just go with it. Basically, what these two quotes say is this: Don't dare say anything's wrong with a book, and if you think something is, you're reading it wrong. Given that the heroine had a job to make sure authors wrote realistically about certain themes, this doesn't go with her personality, either. (I'm not saying the author intended for this message, but it is what it is.)

About ten pages in, it was clear what the outcome would be. Given the heroine's shaming of women who have multiple sexual partners, it was easy to guess when she became interested in Brent what the outcome would be, or rather how Lucy approached her own new profession as a sex actress. I promise, it's not a hard guess.

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review 2016-07-30 18:07
Kissing Madeline by Lex Martin
Kissing Madeline (Dearest, #3) - Lex Martin

Third book in the Dearest series, Kissing Madeline reads like a mash-up of the two first books. There's the bland heroine, the duchy hero, a plot revoling around sex, a mystery that is no mystery at all, some casual sexism and slutshaming, but let's take it from the start.

Madeline, the heroine, walks in on her boyfriend sleeping with another woman. Madeline breaks it off and decides to focus (even more) on her job. When she moves in with Sheri, she is now the neighbour of Daren, a Heisman trophy winner. They've met before thanks to mutual friends. Sheri suggest Madeleine should go out with Daren.

“At least let me introduce you two before some slussy gets her hooks into him.”


Instead, Madeline (literally) runs into Daren during one of her work outs. With Madeline not wanting a relationship, she and Daren soon decides on a friends with benefits relationship, but maybe one of them, or both even, wants more.

This story is basically about Maddie and Daren hooking up while wanting more. There is no plot. Well, there is some stuff on Maddie's work, but it's so insignificant in the long run, and around 80% there is (again, like in the first book) a poor attempt at mystery. It doesn't help that both Maddie and Daren are such boring characters. He's somewhere in the middle between the previous two heroes in this series: a bit douchey an casually sexist, Gavin, and all out sexist misogynist, Jax. Daren falls right in the middle. His character had so much potential: he has a connection to Clem form the first book, in the fact that he cheated on her in high school, and for the past years have been dating a woman that has, by all means, treated him badly. Instead he's another in a long line of poorly developed new adult heroes. He says/thinks things like:

"I’m fine with needing to convince you that you like when I touch you."

He’s been bitchy all week, and I’ve been tempted to ask if he needs tampons.

And Maddie is definitely not a fuck-and-forget kind of girl.


You know, usual new adult hero bullshit.

This book had potential. It could've explored the sexism Maddie has to put up with at her job (it could've explored the way female journalists/tv-presenters are treated), Daren coming to terms with his past and the moral struggles, it could've explored the friends with benefits better. It could've done so much more, much better. Instead it remains in the land of typical new adult, filled with weak plots, sexism, unhealthy relationships and heroes, the virginal heroine and the negative look upon sexuality.

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review 2016-07-27 20:05
Finding Dandelion by Lex Martin
Finding Dandelion (Dearest, #2) - Lex Martin

Tropes: 24

“See, there are happily ever afters. Even for assholes like me.”


This quote sums up the entire book. Because, even after everything, the hero is still an asshole.

Finding Dandelion is the second book in the Dearest series, and this time the story focuses on Jax, the heroine from the first book's brother, and Dani, one of the roommates (of the previous heroine's). The second book, much like the first, falls due to its lack of character development and a lack of plot.

Jax meets Dani at a party, unaware that Dani is his sister's new roommate, and Dani is unaware that Jax is her new roommate's brother. Dani, feeling betrayed after her recent breakup decides she's willing to hook up with someone. They see each other at the party and are drawn to each other. When Dani uses Jax to avoid confrotnatoin with her ex, they make out and it soon turns into more. They are interrupted before they go "all the way", and the next time Dani meets Jax, he seems to have no memory of them ever meeting. After hearing Clem, Jax's sister, comment on the girls Jax usually hooks up with, Dani is horrified and doesn't want to be "one of those girls", and says nothing to Jax or Clem. But Jax is attracted to Dani, is intrugied by her, and simply can't get her out of his head. And so their story begin.

Just like the first book, there is basically no plot. It's all focused on how Jax is in constant heat and wants Dani. The other part of the time (Dani's POV) is all about not wanting to be "one of those girls", of still wanting Jax, and not being sure why Jax doesn't appear to remember their night together. It doesn't help that for the first 30% of the book, the author, for some reason, felt the need to rehash part of the first book, with no alteration (apart from being in Jax's and Dani's heads). It adds absolutely nothing to the plot, if anything, it's confusing to the overall story. What did it matter? Why did it matter? It didn't. The story should've started somewhere around the 30% mark, and not sooner. (Of course, the initial meeting could've been there, but it could've replaced the utterly useless prologue this book does have.)

Back to the characters: here's how remembarable they are. I had to look up Dani's name (even though it's hinted at in the title). I had to go through all my updates (and notes) to remember her personality (which she has none). I couldn't even remember what the "big misunderstanding" was. I couldn't remember the part with her mother (which, honestly, is more due to the writing being unable to provoke a single emotion). What my updates (and notes) reminded me was that Dani is a hypocrite. She's sexist. She looks down on women who engages in causal sex.

The girl who grew up watching old Madonna videos wants to embrace my sexual freedom and treat last night cavalierly, but the small part of me who someday wants the house, kids and white picket fence knows what I did last night is not how I’ll achieve those ends.


She's catty. She's jealous. She shames the women who so much as looks at Jax. Of course, she herself is virginal, but the of course changes when she get's a taste of the hero's junk.

That would be the alien who took over my body and turned me into a sex-craved maniac.


Though, even if Dani had been a memorable character, had some personality, the love interest alone is able to drag this book down to one star.

I think if I fuck her, I’ll somehow tarnish her. Because that’s all this’ll be, sex in a dark club, and she’s not the kind of girl I want to use and abuse for one night.


He's lovely, isn't he? Jax is a sexist, misogynist asshole. He admits himself that he's an asshole. He has zero character development. He sexist in the beginning, he's sexist in the end. He shames women in the beginning, he shames them at the end. In his world, there are two types of women: women for sex, and women to marry (kinda).

She’s pretty in a been-there-done-that sort of way.


Women are to use for a man's pleasure. Because girls should learn to please a man in school, whether they want to or not.

Not every girl is good at giving head, but it’s something that should be taught in school along with making pancakes.


The worst part is that there is no reason for Jax to see women this way. Sure, his mother was absent, but he had a sister who was nothing like her mother. He had onegirlfriend in the past who treated him badly. Still, it does not excuse why he'd grow up to view women this way. So, basically, he's just an asshole for no reason. The fact that he uses abuse (see quote above) when thinking about sex says a lot about his view on women (and sex). And, as said, Jax is never called out on it, and he has the same personality throughout the book. Of course, Dani is the exception, the special snowflake that can tame this beast.

Just like in the first book, the friends are not friends. For one thing, we have Jenna (from the first book) spilling secrets all over the place without telling her supposedly best friend. She spills the secret to (practically) a stranger. We have Travis, the stereotypical gay best friend, whose purpose is to push Dani to meet guys.

Basically, this book suffers the same issues the first on did: poor character development, weak plot, sexism, and shaming. The first book I said that the writing was good, decent. In this, there's no emotion provoked by the writing, it's repetitive, and at times awkward.

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