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review 2018-07-18 17:35
Corpora Delicti - Manna Francis
Corpora Delicti - Manna Francis

 

Corpora Delicti is the 9th and so far most recent part in Manna Francis' The Administration series (aka TA). I guess most of my followers here are unfamiliar with it, therefore I'll use the first part's blurb as a short introduction:

 

There are no bad guys or good guys. There are only better guys and worse guys. One of the worse guys is Val Toreth. In a world in which torture is a legitimate part of the investigative process, he works for the Investigation and Interrogation Division, where his colleagues can be more dangerous than the criminals he investigates. One of the better guys is Keir Warrick. His small corporation, SimTech, is developing a "sim" system that places users in a fully immersive virtual reality. A minnow in a murky and dangerous pond, he is only beginning to discover how many compromises may be required for success. Their home is the dark future dystopia of New London. A totalitarian bureaucracy controls the European Administration, sharing political power with the corporations. The government uses violence and the many divisions of the feared Department of Internal Security to maintain control and crush resistance. The corporations fight among themselves, using lethal force under the euphemism of "corporate sabotage," uniting only to resist attempts by the Administration to extend its influence over them. Toreth and Warrick are more natural enemies than allies. But mutual attraction and the fight for survival can create unlikely bonds.

 

My love for this series knows no bounds, and it makes me a bit sad that, outside a group of hardcore fans, it's relatively unknown. It's often called m/m romance or slash, but those labels give a rather false impression. I'd describe The Administration as political thrillers set in a dark dystopia, an all-too-plausible world with all-too-plausible characters; an intricate mix of police procedural, soap opera-like family gatherings, foodporn, and porn-porn, with a heavy dose of the best and most realistic pansexual BDSM I've read up to this date. Unfortunately, this mix is somewhat of a niche product; the BDSM could scare off fans of police procedural, and people looking for juicy m/m action could be disappointed by the sometimes really dry procedural parts. And who wants to read corporate dystopias in this day and age anyway, when the real thing is waiting just outside the door?

 

So, yeah, somewhat of a niche product. But a very, very good one.

Corpora Delicti wasn't the most exciting adventure for our boys Toreth and Warrick. After a time of political unrest and personal challenges, they find themselves sharing a flat and dealing with the aftermath of a revolt that almost destroyed the Administration and their relationship. While Toreth has do deal with a case of, at first glance, quite boring white collar crime, Warrick wants to find answers to a personal question tormenting him. Although Toreth's case turns out to be a lot more murderous and complex than it seemed, and Warrick's stupid moves could endanger his life, the professional threats in this volume are rather low-level – especially compared to the emotional intensity of #6, First Against the Wall, and #7, Family Values.

 

Meanwhile, their relationship not only stagnates, but seems to make steps backwards. This has never been a conventional romance, it has never been a healthy relationship, but here even I felt like screaming: „Warrick, please get the fuck out!“ It's mostly Toreth – unfaithful, but deadly jealous - being a careless jerk, and Warrick putting up with it because his pet-torturer is the only one who can give him what he needs, the sense of losing control. Warrick gets off on fear (Francis is uncommonly explicit about this fact here), and Toreth provides the edge of real danger. And of course he is good at their game; he knows what to do because he tortures people for a living, a fact Warrick conveniently ignores most of the time. He's tiptoeing around Toreth, trying not to provoke him, constantly finding excuses for his bad behaviour – and if that doesn't ring all warning bells, then I don't know what's fucking wrong with you, but at some moments in this book the relationship skipped into the actual abusive. The repeat performance with Sara, Toreth's admin, is just the bitter icing on the cake. But just when I've begun to hate him - and such is the brilliance of Manna Francis - I'm back alone with Toreth and realize once again that he lacks the emotional maturity for any kind of meaningful relationship, is too disconnected from his own feelings to understand what others could possibly be experiencing. He's violent, he's dangerous, and Francis is careful not to glorify or romantisize his behaviour – and yet he's all too easy to like (if you're me, that is).

Analysing the relationship and analysing Toreth is half the fun when reading these books. Is he a sociopath or is he not? I don't think he is, although he displays signs of antisocial behaviour patterns. I've recently learned about alexithymia, and it seems to fit Toreth quite well. Maybe with the exception of „scarcity of fantasies“, because he's not lacking imagination when it comes to developing kinky scenarios for Warrick.

 

Stories and relationships in TA often make me feel uncomfortable. As far as I am concerned, that's one of the greatest qualities of the series, together with Manna Francis' crisp and clear prose, the realistic dialogue, and her outstanding character development. While Corpora Delicti was less intense than some of its predecessors, on this account it didn't disappoint. Most of all, it feels like an inbetween-book, setting up higher stakes for the next sequel; first through the meddling of one powerful and oh-so-very annoying Administration division, and secondly through not only rising tension between our boys, but with introducing possible competition for Toreth in form of a new co-worker for Warrick, who happens to be just his type and a lot saner and safer and less frustrating than torture-boy. I hope one day we will see how that plays out.

 

Given the subject matter, this series comes with all kind of content warnings, most importantly for torture and sexual violence/rape. It's rarely very explicit, but I find the implications to be even worse. Well, this is no pleasant world, these aren't pleasant characters, and while the books are very, very good, they are not exactly light-hearted.

 

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review 2018-07-13 20:20
One Man's Trash
One Man's Trash - Marie Sexton

Wow. Easily one of my favorite books this year. What a complex relationship. Love Warren and eagerly await Gray’s story.

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review 2018-07-04 00:00
Rough Road (Lake Lovelace Book 2) by Vanessa North 4 Star Review!
Rough Road - Vanessa North

Eddie Russell is many things: A wealthy pillar of the community. An outrageous flirt. A doting best friend. A masochist with a kink for brawling with his bedmates. But he is definitely not a man who invites intimacy. His friends are close but few, his lovers rarer still.

When Eddie runs his Mercedes off the road on a hot July afternoon, Wish Carver comes to his aid—and leaves his number in Eddie’s phone. Wish, a road crew worker half Eddie’s age and sexy as sin, seems fascinated by Eddie’s different sides. Mutual attraction and compatible kinks ignite the sheets, but it’s their connection outside the bedroom that Eddie begins to crave.

When the two come down on opposite sides of a local issue, Eddie finds his growing feelings for Wish at odds with his business interests and his devotion to his best friend, local wakeboarding legend Ben Warren. Torn between old loyalties and his new love, Eddie is reluctant to make a choice. But he knows he can’t make Wish wait too long to make up his mind.

 

Review

 

Vanessa North writes with wonderful depth and phrasing. 

Both Eddie and Wish are really vibrant characters. We met Eddie in the first book in the series and as his relationship with his best friend Ben is pivotal to the conflict in this book, I think it is best read after the first book but not completely necessary. 

Eddie is a force and it turns out Wish is his own steady strength. Wish is much younger than Eddie but issues of class as Eddie comes from old money bother him a bit more and the age bothers Eddie.

Eddie has never had a relationship and it shows. He needs to learn to shift his understanding but he does so and you will really trust in the HEA, 

The book explores a kink that is the SM in BDSM. It could be too much for some readers but the sexual dynamic arises from the characters of our heroes and is such and embraced part of who they are that it really works.

I liked Eddie and wish so so much.

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review 2018-06-04 15:28
Her Husband's Army Buddy (McLeod Security #1) by Doris O'Connor
Her Husband's Army Buddy (McLeod Security #1) - Doris O'Connor

Her Husband's Army Buddy is the first book in the McLeod Security series, and we meet the owner of the security business, Zane, and his wife, Sandy. Sandy and Zane have been married for 10 years, and are happy. That is until Sean shows up asking if there are any jobs going at Zane's security business. Sean and Zane have a history, and Sandy is worried that she will get kicked to the curb when they reignite their past together. Instead, it is Sandy who is able to bring the three of them together.

 

This is a fast-paced book, with plenty of steam. It gives a small introduction into the world of BDSM without going into too much detail. It is fairly low angst, although there is the usual stubbornness involved. It starts off the series well, and with no editing or grammatical errors to disrupt my reading flow, I have no hesitation in recommending it.

 

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *

 

Merissa

Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

 

Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/single-post/2018/06/04/Her-Husbands-Army-Buddy-McLeod-Security-1-by-Doris-OConnor
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review 2018-05-29 14:29
Review: The Chateau by Tiffany Reisz
The Chateau - Tiffany Reisz

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Working for a secret branch of the French military by day and seducing a number of women by night may be enough to occupy some men, but not Kingsley Boissonneault. No assignment, no assignation can fill his mind enough to rid him of the dreams of Søren, the love he can never get over. Until, that is, he’s tasked with going undercover and rescuing his commanding officer’s nephew from a sex cult run by the mysterious Madame. Madame’s world is like nothing Kingsley has ever seen. In the château, the women rule and the men serve. And as Madame’s brand of sadism feeds Kingsley’s soul, he’s faced with a choice: he can have everything he’s ever wanted, but the price is giving up forever the beautiful monster who haunt his dreams.

The Chateau is an interesting, evocative read that’s a fantastic mix of dark and light. Kingsley’s journey through the looking glass and into Madame’s world is filled with surprises, erotic adventures, and masochism. The château is a sort of reverse Story of O where the women rule and the men serve them in every way. In many ways it’s a lovely world, with warmth, humor, and sensuality. Madame is a sadist and a master at mind games, and she’s an interesting, well-developed character. It’s easy to see why Kingsley is fascinated by her and why he’s taken with the other women in the house. Whether or not the world Madame has created is what it seems or if there are darker elements at play, I’ll leave readers to discover. I will say that nothing is ever simple and straightforward when you’re playing with characters this clever and I loved the twists and turns Kingsley encounters over the course of the story.

At the center of The Chateau is the story of Kingsley finding himself again. Kingsley is a delightful protagonist. He’s young, arrogant, charming, protective, and funny as hell. He’s strong and deadly, to be sure, but he’s also incredibly vulnerable and I found the contrast appealing. Life in the château holds great appeal for him: beautiful women, the chance of a family, and a masterful sadist who can give him almost everything he needs. The almost part comes in because of Kingsley’s dreams about Søren, the former lover whose hold on him is still strong. I loved watching Kingsley learn more about himself and about his relationship with Søren over the course of the book.

The Chateau is a standalone book set in the world of Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners series. I haven’t yet read the rest of the books, but if I wasn’t already planning to I definitely would now because I was so intrigued by Kingsley and Søren’s relationship. Ms. Reisz is a master of pushing boundaries and mixing eroticism with emotion and charm. Her writing is always engaging, so much so that I started The Chateau late and night and read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, only to finish the book when I woke up the next morning. So whether you’re a fan of the Original Sinners series or are new to the world, this is an exceptional ride.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/05/review-chateau-by-tiffany-reisz.html
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