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review 2016-02-01 15:32
Wicked Games
Wicked Games (Denver Rebels Book 1) - Maureen Smith

In the inimitable words of the always fabulous Nina Garcia this was a "taste issue."

Honestly this book was not bad per se. It simply was not to my taste. It is filled with tropes and themes that I usually steer clear of.  If I actually liked these, then could have potentially been a 4-or-5 star book.

The basic storyline is the heroine Nadia accompanies her brother, a sports reporter, to a hockey practice and there she locks eyes with the hero Reid. Reid is a superstar hockey player on a major league NHL team. There is lust at first sight. He, being a superstar hockey player, gets a lot of women and has a lot of sex with said women. But the minute he meets Nadia she is so much it that he goes into Prince Charming mode and pursues her relentlessly with his charm, looks, fame and money. Lots and lots of money.

So this is where it comes down to personal taste

1) I am not a fan of books where the minute the hero/heroine look at each other they lose control of their bodily functions. You know, breathing ceases. Hairs get prickly. Areas get plump, moist, hard or wet. They can't think. What they were doing just minutes before loses all meaning. Sure, I can understand instant attraction and even some heightened sexual awareness, but this goes beyond that. I mean based on the description, I believe she had what I am sure had to be a heart arrhythmia. And since her "mouth went strangely dry" and she could no longer feel her phone in her hand once she met his eyes, I think she must have spontaneously contracted Lupus or diabetes or something, just from looking at him. Ha! but seriously, though, I know what the author was going for, but this type of extreme reaction doesn't work for me.  This was not necessarily a reaction fail, it was a writing fail.

2)I am not a fan of billionaire books. I avoid those like the plague. Mainly because most of them that I read become an exercise in how much wealth can be displayed as well as creating some hyper fantasy lifestyle without too much effort. Again, this is not a bad thing. It just isn't to my taste. While the word 'billionaire' is not in the title, the book acts like it is. We are told over and over again that Reid is rich. He signed a 13-year $98 million contract. He has endorsements with Gatorade and Nike amongst other things. He has several high end cars, he charters private planes, he lavishes Nadia with gifts, even slipping her a credit card after only about a week of knowing her. The barrage of his wealth is almost relentless in the book.

3) I hate grand public gestures as a proving point for love and affection. There are multiples of these.

So yeah, this book just wasn't in my wheelhouse of things I enjoy in a book.

That said, there was an actual good romance at the core of it. Even though they get together and fall in love at the speed of light, the author does give Nadia and Reid the page space to develop as a couple (even though from a timeline standpoint they meet in October and the book ends at Christmas) and we do get a lot of quality face time with them. There are some good scenes with just them.

But unfortunately that gets lost in the other stuff.

And beyond just the 'my personal taste' issues there are some things that I think are objectively problematic. There were passages that devolved into speechifying about race. The author relied on cliche phrasing a bit too much.  There was one scene that could have easily been an episode of a Real Housewives of Atlanta, I was seriously planning to DNF at that point. And there were points when I had to check the heroine's age. She acted like a tween sometimes.

In the end I think this will be a great book for people who really like their romances to be closer to the -romanticized fantasy element where a rich guy sweeps a regular girl off her feet,  lavishes on the heroine with gifts and grand gestures that make her feel like she's super special. But that stuff doesn't really work for me.

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review 2015-04-07 20:03
This I Promise You (Wolf Pack Book 8) - Maureen Smith

Love love love Maureen Smith's writing and I've devoured anything and everything she's published. That said This I Promise You wasn't a fave of mine. Read more.

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review 2015-03-05 20:22
DNF at 28%
Whatever You Like - Maureen Smith

I picked this up because I was intrigued by the recent review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, because I have a weakness for the escort/courtesan/prostitute as protagonist trope, and because it was on sale. After starting it, I was briefly even more intrigued to learn the protagonists are African American (which you'd never know from the pasty pale headless couple on the book cover).


Alas, even with all that intrigue, this was not for me. On their first date, Lena lays the ground rules: she is paid for companionship, not sex. Roderick ignores this, corners her in an alcove, fondles her, and then has dubiously-consensual sex with her in the limo while bringing her home.


She says that was a mistake and she doesn't want to see him again. Two weeks later, he shows up at her day job (not the escort job that the day job supervisors obviously don't know about, and by this point the reader knows she works two jobs because she's supporting an elderly grandparent and her layabout little sister, as well as herself) having already ingratiated himself with her boss. He takes her to lunch, and basically tells her he'll give her employer (not even her personally!) a half million dollars if she agrees to be his sex slave for for three weeks. If she says no, no deal, and what is she supposed to tell her boss?


I don't know what Lena did when faced with this dilemma (though I can guess), because that was where I call foul.


Whatever You Like buys into the fallacy famously presented by Fifty Shades and its ilk that stalking and sexual coercion is okay, sexy even, if the man doing it is a handsome billionaire. There's a meme making the social media rounds:

I work with domestic and sexual violence victims, and this kind of behavior is not sexy no matter who does it, and life is too short to read this crap for "entertainment."



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review 2015-02-03 03:09
Like No One Else - Maureen Smith

LNOE sticks to a similarly formula as its predecessor when it comes to the suspense plot in this story; the stranger lurking right under everyone's noses and attacking his prey while the police are none the wiser as to who and why of the case. There was just the right amount of suspense while not being stingy with the sexy romance between these two characters. I enjoyed the witty banter between Tommie and Paulo. Tommie’s and Paulo’s backstories were also well-drawn and their chemistry jumps off the page. Read more.

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review 2015-02-03 02:53
Whisper My Name - Maureen Smith

Overall, WMN hit all my hot buttons — there’s a good suspense plot, with an unexpected plot twist, sexy romance, and well-drawn protagonists and supporting characters. Read more.

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