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review 2016-12-25 03:30
Bad Boy Good Man
Bad Boy Good Man - Abigail Barnette,Jenny Trout

An enjoyable novella that shows how you shouldn't judge people just on how they look and that peoples lives are often not what you think they are.

The characters were likeable and relatable and whilst this is not the genre I usually read I was fairly engrossed in the story. The writing was engaging but the ending just felt a little too abrupt, however it was a novella so I still thought the author did a great job with such a short read.

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review 2016-08-30 00:00
The Boss
The Boss - Abigail Barnette,Jenny Trout So I previously read First Time: Penny #2 and realize that if maybe I had read "The Boss" first I would have liked it more. Instead, I saw the same themes and had the same issues with this book that I had with that one.

I know that Abigail Barnette (Jenny Trout) wrote this book as the anti-Fifty Shades of Grey. And believe me I am happy that she actually did a very good job of showing a BDSM relationship that didn't have the same crap going on with Christian and Anastasia in that book. I could be here all day criticizing that book people, I won't though because I have things to do.

That said, I think that Barnette went too far to the other side. You have a young woman who is 24 who is sexually open (very good) but seemed sexually open to the point that she felt like a caricature. I would have been fine if Sophie balked at doing anything with Neil, that would have shown her being a woman in charge of her sexuality. Instead though it just seemed everything that was suggested to her was honky dory. And it was great that she didn't want a relationship or kids or even marriage (though the relationship thing was kind of bs though). Neil is a non-entity in this book. I have no idea what he did all day besides write notes to Sophie, miss her, and give her awesome orgasms. I may have hated Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey, but at least he was present in the book.

We have Sophie Scaife (that name is killing me) who is 24 and still fantasizes about a man named Leif that she ended up having a one night stand with 8 years ago. Sophie is thrown for a loop when she comes into work at her job at a magazine (I think it was called Proteras) and finds out her demanding boss is gone and in her place is Leif, otherwise known as Neil Elwood. Sophie and Neil are looking to re-kindle their hot affair with the knowledge they have to be careful since Neil is Sophie's boss.

There is a lot of hand-waving going on for all parties involved for Sophie to somehow not be able to recognize that the guy she was with 6 years ago was billionaire Neil Elwood. There are some asides that Sophie thought he looked similar but I had to stop laughing at that point.

I had the same issue with Sophie that I did with Penny in "First Time: Penny #2" for the age that these women are I find it hard to reconcile how they act in a relationship. Or in Sophie's case, she doesn't want a relationship with Neil (yeah right, this is contradicted the whole way through until she does an oh my God I am in love with Neil aside to herself) since she wants to have a job and have her own time to herself. She also doesn't want to have kids and isn't it great that Neil doesn't want that either (though he does have a daughter Sophie's age).

I think my main issue really is though that I did not get a sense of Sophie as a real live 24 year old. Sorry. I don't think I would be a-okay with having anal sex with a dude I just met. Or that I would be down for BDSM after reading three books about it. Or that when your lover tells you about how he has been with other men just say cool to myself. I wanted there to actually be thinking and discussing involved. Instead most of the discussing was just Sophie telling Neil to just go ahead and (expletive) her and then her a few times letting him know when she had too much. I just needed there to be something between them besides sex because the whole relationship rang so hollow to me.

I just found Sophie inconsistent as anything throughout the book. Shocker yes, a 24 year old is inconsistent. For someone that was all about being professional, she still was running around and acting submissive to her boss and oh yeah was having sex with him and then got mad that people at the company (rightfully) thought they were having sex with each other and that's why she got a promotion. She wanted to be a grown up woman, but once she knew about something that would impact the company she didn't tell Neil and oh he fired her. But then they giggled about it after, talked about sex, and he gave her jewelry (I am not kidding). I just couldn't get into this book as much as I wanted to.

Neil is a 48 year old man who apparently has the biggest (expletive) ever and has the libido of a 20 year old and is in love with Sophie because...reasons. Cause so far this book has not shown me one reason why he is in into her besides her age. The same issue I had with "First TIme" rears it's head here. I don't want to just assume it's her age he is into, but come on dude. What else is there? They don't have conversations about their life. Sophie Googles Neil at one point to find out about him. And when she actually does meet his daughter, Sophie gets upset that it doesn't go well and Neil is surprise by this as well (have these two ever met another human being before?)

The other characters don't fare well in this book either. We have a friend of Sophie's named Jake that sounded like an okay guy but turned into a Death Eater out of nowhere. Sophie's roommate Holli is a hot supermodel who can eat what she wants and has no boundaries sexually. There is an entire conversation that Holli, Sophie, and someone that Hollis is seeing that involves rape, abortion, and the whole thing was played weirdly for laughs I think.

The writing got a bit repetitive after a while. There were so many quirks to Sophie that I wanted to yell. She smirks a lot. In fact I don't think I went more than 2 or 3 pages without her smirking on it. There are more than the average number of sex scenes I think in this book. Not usually a bad thing, but I found myself getting bored. Most of the book was these two having sex and not discussing work and talking dirty to each other. I was just bored and needed some actual plot. Why the plot ended up being about a potentially hostile takeover to the magazine and then shifted to people leaving the magazine to start their own was weird.

The flow wasn't that great. I think it was because we would have sex, sex, sex, Sophie talking to Holli, Sophie acknowledging she should tell Neil something, sex, dirty texts, smirk, smirk, oh yeah here's Rudy, and sex again.

The setting of New York I wish had felt more real in this book. We only have Sophie at work, in a hotel room, at Neil's place, and at her place. Oh I forgot, I think they went to a restaurant twice. We know that Sophie has a mom and a missing in action dad, but she never speaks to them.

The ending was kind of a mess. I think this is to set the stage for book number two, "The Girlfriend (The Boss #2). I am going to pass on that. I really did like "Bad Boy, Good Man" and hoped for more of that which is why I bought the latest two books from the author I did.
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review 2016-08-22 00:00
First Time: Penny
First Time: Penny - Abigail Barnette First Time: Penny - Abigail Barnette I think this is a cute idea. Abigail Barnette wrote two books regarding the relationship of one couple. Book #1, First Time: Ian (First Time #1) focused on Ian Pratchett's side of the story and now "First Time: Penny (First Time #2) focuses on Penny Parker.

I have to say that I was pretty bored by both characters for most of the book. Penny is in her early twenties (I want to say 22 but I don't have the energy to go look it up right now--ETA looked it up, yup she's 22) and she gets set up on a bind date by her boss with 53 year old Ian. The boss in the story is named Sophie and is the main character in her "The Boss" series. Since I have never read them before, I got spoiled on some events from those books which were talked about here. So if you are planning on starting this or Ian's book, know that things get discussed which will spoil you on that series.

Let's get the main thing out of the way. There is a huge age difference (22 to 53) which I can honestly say I have seen handled better in other books. Off the top of my head I really liked Dee Ernst's "A Different Kind of Forever" even though that book had the older woman and younger man, and in "Jane Erye" by Charlotte Bronte where we had Jane Erye and Mr. Rochester.

This book only touches upon this a few times, and the two main characters discuss children, but don't really discuss the fact that any kid they have together in the next year or two, would have an older father and a fairly young mother. Penny's friend and roommate Rosa at least keeps bringing it up, but it seems like it goes out one ear into the other. The fact that Penny only was legally able to drink a year prior to this book start gave me hard pause.

Besides Penny finding Ian hot (as soon as she sees him) that is all I got from her. I didn't get why she was so into him right away because I didn't see it myself (he swears a lot so she likes that). Besides the fact that there is a huge secret that is revealed regarding Ian, his past sexual exploits that turned me off the character right away. I just couldn't get past that at all since it sounded like that was something that he was really into, and for him to all of a sudden be okay with not doing that anymore for a person he just started seeing read a little false to me.

Penny is also a virgin (though she owns a vibrator) and I really didn't get her reasoning at all behind that. First, she goes into her family superstition, then she turns it around to say that she is scared of being hurt by someone that really doesn't love her, and then it is back to not wanting to fall in love, etc. It didn't make a lot of sense to me.

We find out some about Penny's upbringing and her terrible parents, but I wish that we had gotten more backstory on her in college and her first relationship. Things got aluded to here and there, but I felt like I was digging through a lot of subtext that was going on. It seems implied that Penny was spoiled and kind of an asshole before going to college, but then that changed.

Penny is immature though. We get to see signs of her immaturity throughout the book and I was pretty over it by the end of the book. Her focusing on fortune cookies, astrology, numerology, etc. and her using those as the reasons why she knows she is going to fall in love and be with Ian is tiresome.

Ian fell flat to me through this whole book. I didn't get why he was even interested in Penny past her age and her looks. There was no "there" at all with this guy. I don't know what he did all day that left him exhausted all of the time. And it's not quirky to not have food in your house. Frankly I thought that was the whole thing with both him and Penny. There were a lot of quirky things about both of them that did not equal them being fully developed. I didn't feel like they were real at all.

Other characters in this book don't fare as well. We have some interactions with Penny's boss, Sophie which turned me off (I have the first book in "The Boss" series that I am rethinking right now).

Penny's roommate Rosa is a transgender woman, but other than that, I didn't get a feel for her either. We know that she has a back and forth relationship with her ex and that was about it. I wanted to know more about her, what she did for a living (I can't even recall if it was said). What does Rosa get out of her friendship with Penny besides having to mother hen her all of the time?

We get to meet Penny's parents (garbage people) that Ian calls fairy-tale monsters, and I have to say that they were a little over the top. Once again, they didn't feel real to me.

I thought the writing was okay, I found a couple of typos here and there. Also there were certain phrases I was so confused about, such as "Obama jeans"? I was wondering if that means he wears terrible jeans or what? I don't remember ever seeing President Obama in badly looking jeans. But maybe I just haven't looked hard enough. Anyway it was jarring to me.

The flow was a little up and down throughout the book. I think that's because there was just a lot of Penny thinking about Ian, what to wear for Ian, what to do with her hair, (you get the picture). Also after the two characters finally do the deed, the book turned into an entirely other book.

The setting of New York was done very well I have to say. It was nice to see New York change through the seasons (summer into fall and then winter). I just didn't get enough of that. We do have these two going out and about. But mostly they are holed up at Ian's place or Penny's apartment.

The ending was a bit of a mess to me. There is always a reason why the heroine and hero break up or kept apart, and then things are hand waved away in the end.
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review 2016-01-23 00:00
The Bride
The Bride - Abigail Barnette There is a fundamental problem with erotica. When the characters are compelling, the couple is enchanting and the plot is well delivered, there comes a point where you really don't care about how the characters have sex: you just wanna see where they end up.

And this doesn't get better with long series like this. That's why I found myself skipping most sex scenes. I couldn't care less how Sophie and Neil had sex. The gay that BDSM is so over right now doesn't help.
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review 2015-11-12 00:00
The Ex (The Boss, #5)
The Ex (The Boss, #5) - Abigail Barnette The Ex (The Boss, #5) - Abigail Barnette Two and a half-ish stars

I really like this series and this last book of the series really bummed me out. As in all the books, the struggles that the main characters deal with are relevant, realistic, and sometimes taboo. I’ve been impressed with the care and attention in which the author handles difficult situations, often calling out the thing that no one wants to talk about. So when I finished this book it took me a while to figure out what bothered me so much about the story. What it boiled down to is that I am not completely convinced of their happy ending.

Here’s where the discussion gets spoiler-y. Continue at your own risk.

While the book delivered in emotional intensity, Sophie’s stagnated personal growth and diminishing coping skills concerned me. In the book she loses her professional ambition, isolates herself from her support network, soothes herself with junk food and drugs, and seems to need to receive more pain in her and Neil’s scenes than in the previous books.

In The Ex, Sophie is working with her friend running a fashion magazine. Previously, when she wasn’t pulling her weight at work her friend called her on it. In this book, she has convinced herself that she is just in the way when she goes to work (so she doesn’t bother). Not healthy and no one confronts her.

Then, while Neil spends a good half of the book working on his issues with professional help, Sophie secludes herself in their huge mansion. A couple times a friend would trek out to see her, but it was rare and usually not at her request. Sophie has become a one-way friend. She is not reciprocating support to her friends in any manner. Additionally, we don’t see Sophie having any kind of life (social or otherwise) that doesn’t revolve around Neil. Codependent much? At one point Neil suggests to Sophie that they go back to couples counseling. We never see this. What we do see is a vivid portrait of her laying on the floor eating cookies and getting baked.

The last thing that bothered me with Sophie is that the BDSM scenes seemed to include a higher level of pain being given and Sophie often refusing to safe word, instead relying on Neil’s instincts about when to stop dishing it out. I found this very disturbing. Not the actual scenes, but the fact that Sophie is not in a healthy, clear-boundary headspace when she is playing. She is not taking responsibility for her own needs and physical health. I didn’t enjoy their playtime like I did in the other books.

What I really wanted to see was Sophie grow and do work on her own mental issues. It would have been much more poignant to see her tackle her abandonment issues and her new “motherhood” status with a professional and with her support system so that she rejoins Neil a mentally stronger more focused partner.

Other issues, plot holes, and inconsistencies

What happened to Sophie’s fashion magazine? I guess when you are the wife of a billionaire you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a hobby. She surely isn’t treating it like a serious business.

What happened to Neil’s foundation? Certainly he didn’t lose passion for his charity. I would have liked to see his involvement long-term.

We couldn’t get one super sweet scene with Sophie and Olivia bonding. Really?!?

Where did Emir go? Wasn’t the whole part of the first chapter to put him back in their lives?

Where did Gena go and why didn’t they have a conversation about that relationship?

Where did Michael’s parents go? Do they not care about their granddaughter?

Where did Sophie’s antidotal, wise, caring mother go? The Ex was full of their mutually supportive relationship. I guess now that Rebecca has a boyfriend she doesn’t have time for Sophie’s drama.

All my ranting is just because I was really invested into the series and wanted a tidy ending. Here’s the deal, if you put your characters through unbelievable torment, you have to prove that their current and future happiness is more abundant because of or in spite of their past sorrows. In this case, it fell short.
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