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review 2017-10-16 00:47
Release Day ARC review: The Fireman's Pole by Sue Brown
The Fireman's Pole - Sue Brown

This book is pure fluff. Which, let's be honest, fits perfectly within the Dreamspun Desires titles. And the cheeky title - hahahaha!

Here we have Dale, a firefighter who recently moved into the little village of Calminster, still smarting from a bad break-up with his closeted, cheating ex, hoping to lick his wounds and put his hopes and dreams for that relationship behind him. Unwilling to be in the closet himself, he's open about his sexuality, but has no aspirations to find himself another boyfriend.

Called out for a fire on his first shift, he manages to rescue the homeowner, a sweet elderly woman, and draw the ire of his Lordship at the same time. Shortly thereafter, he backs the big fire engine into the maypole, which was originally erected by his Lordship's great-great-grandfather. So, having blown his opportunity for making a good first impression, Dale offers to fix the pole in hopes to calm down Ben, Lord Calminster, who is behaving like an ass both during the fire and after Dale's unfortunate mishap with the big fire truck and the maypole. 

Don't expect any kind of realistic or believable relationship development - there's none. 

Ben, the lord of the manor, has kept his own sexuality hidden to the point where he's got a girlfriend/beard. Of course, he takes one look at our hunky firefighter, feels the stirring in his loins and finds the backbone to break things off with the woman he's been dating. 

Dale was a nice guy, and I liked him. Ben, once he removed the stick from his ass, was a nice guy too. I liked him fine as well. 

It's just that nothing here between Ben and Dale felt anything close to realistic. Dale states that he's still hurting from the break-up and doesn't want to fall in bed with yet another closeted man, but then shortly thereafter dismisses that notion and jumps right in with Ben. 

Ben apparently, after meeting and tongue-lashing Dale twice, is willing to risk a whole lot for the possibility of being with Dale. Perhaps exchanging angry words with the firefighter turns him on. 

There's a bit of mystery here with someone unknown setting fires all over the village, a subplot that culminates in an edge of your seat sequence of events that not only casts Dale as a hero again but also firmly pulls Ben right out of that closet for good. 

Since I usually suspend disbelief whenever I read one of the Dreamspun Desires titles and don't expect anything realistic, I didn't mind the rapid development of the romantic relationship. What I did mind however is that we're merely told these two men have the hots for each other - we're not actually shown that they do - so this book ended up in three star territory. Sure, there are sexy times within, but I didn't really feel their passion - I was only told about it.

Still an enjoyable read that fits perfectly within this harlequin-esque series. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-10-03 01:59
Release Day ARC Review: The Bunny And The Billionaire by Louisa Masters
The Bunny and the Billionaire (Dreamspun Desires Book 43) - Louisa Masters

This is such a Harlequin-esque book. I mean, seriously, this one lays it on super thick, and as such fits the Dreamspun Desires series to a T.

Here we have Ben Adams, a nurse from Australia, who recently inherited a large sum of money (and when I say large, I mean LARGE) from the old lady whom he looked after for some time, and whom he still misses. Never having known wealth, Ben decides on a tour of Europe but still counting his pennies and saving money where possible. 

While in Monaco, he meets Leo Artois, the billionaire from the book's title, who's never known a day without wealth, seeing how his mother is a princess and his father is not only fabulously wealthy but also almost French royalty or something of the sort. 

Why Leo insists on calling Ben Bunny all the time escaped me. Leo, as well as his circle of friends, come across as the sort of people who never had to work a day in their lives and who think nothing of spending money whenever they please. 

Ben only planned to stay in Monaco for a few days before heading to Italy, but after meeting Leo, and the instant attraction he feels for the man, he decides to stay a while longer. 

What I liked about this book is that Ben isn't shy about pointing out to Leo how wasteful spending isn't impressive to him, and that Leo make concessions for Ben's point of view on money issues, but also teaches him that some things are worth the money they cost and introduces him to some of the finer things in life that most mortals will never be able to afford. 

Ben, despite his substantial inheritance, is still a normal guy and tries to impress that normalcy on Leo. 

I believed their holiday fling. Their attraction burned brightly from the start, and I bought that Leo was fascinated with Ben, and vice versa, but their HEA romance - nah. Didn't believe it. They had so little in common, and despite Ben's new wealth, their social circles and life experiences didn't really mesh for me at all. Ben was too normal whereas Leo was way more sophisticated and often came across as someone whose illusions of entitlement were showing. Ben came across as uncomfortable with the OTT displays of wealth Leo and his circle found normal, and that doesn't make for a life-long romance. I mean, obviously with this series, disbelief must be suspended most of the time anyway, but the romance should still be something that resonates. And here, it sadly didn't, for me. YMMV.

The writing was pretty good; the dialogue was believable (with some snark, yay) for how the two men were characterized, and I'm interested in reading more by this author.



** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-09-21 09:23
I loved the Irish history and legends that coursed through this book
The Shadows - Megan Chance

I went into this book with a little trepidation. Despite normally not doing so, I had managed to stumble across a few of the other Goodreads reviews before I started, and they weren't all glowing. Pacing seemed to be a major concern from a number of reviewers and lack of plot driven excitement. 

Well, I'm happy to say that while the story as a whole was slow, I didn't find it dull. When working with trilogies or series it can be difficult to get the world building and plot driver levels correct to keep your readers engaged and provide the information they need. 

Megan managed to introduce a large cast of characters, each with complex backgrounds in a way that didn't overwhelm the reader, provided teaser information and whetted the appetite for books 2 and 3. 

Complexity of characters was lacking in some of the later introduced characters, but I'm sure they'll be explored in more detail in the next book/s. The main cast had quite a lot of time to unfold their natures to the reader and do so in a manner that I don't really trust yet, but I feel that was the intention. 

It feels to me that Megan will portray a character in a certain way to start, only to have that original idea smashed by some later revelation. This is quite ingenious as it allows for character growth that the reader experiences too.

I loved the Irish history and legends that coursed through this book and long to delve further into the Sidhe and Fianna. 

The biggest blow to this book was the love triangle. I am hoping it is redeemed later in the trilogy, but I'm not holding my breath.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review**

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review 2017-09-20 06:47
Rotkäppchen und der große, böse Wolf auf Rettungsmission
Scarlet - Marissa Meyer

Der zweite Band der „Lunar Chronicles“, „Scarlet“, spielt in Südfrankreich. Warum ausgerechnet Südfrankreich? Der Autorin Marissa Meyer wurde diese Frage oft gestellt. Südfrankreich verfügt über eine Besonderheit, die sie für sich nutzen wollte: einen historisch tief verwurzelten Glauben an Werwölfe. Es ist die Heimat der „Bestie des Gévaudan“, die zwischen 1764 und 1767 etwa 100 Menschen getötet haben soll. Bis heute ist nicht geklärt, was damals tatsächlich vorgefallen ist, doch die Bewohner_innen des Gévaudan waren fest überzeugt, dass sie von einem Loup Garou heimgesucht wurden – von einem Werwolf. Ein passenderes Setting für „Scarlet“ ist daher schwer vorstellbar. Schließlich handelt es sich um eine Variation des Märchens von „Rotkäppchen“ und dem großen, bösen Wolf.

 

Scarlet Benoit ist kurz davor, durchzudrehen. Ihre Großmutter ist seit über zwei Wochen spurlos verschwunden. Michelle Benoit mag exzentrisch sein, aber niemals würde sie ihre Enkelin und ihren kleinen Bauernhof im französischen Rieux ohne Nachricht verlassen. Scarlet ist überzeugt, dass ihr etwas zugestoßen ist. Verzweifelt klammert sie sich an jeden Strohhalm und lässt sich auf den zwielichtigen Straßenkämpfer Wolf ein, der behauptet, zu ahnen, wo ihre Großmutter festgehalten wird. Ohne zu wissen, ob sie Wolf trauen kann, begibt sie sich an seiner Seite auf eine halsbrecherische Rettungsmission, während sie pausenlos darüber nachgrübelt, warum ihre Großmutter entführt worden sein könnte. Hatte sie Geheimnisse vor Scarlet? Erst als die beiden der flüchtigen Cyborg Cinder begegnen, ergibt plötzlich alles einen Sinn…

 

Ich vergebe meine Sterne-Bewertungen nach Bauchgefühl. Manchmal kann ich an der Beurteilung, die mein Bauch im Alleingang vornimmt, intellektuell noch etwas drehen und ihn davon überzeugen, dass die Fakten eine andere Sprache sprechen, aber meistens ist er unbelehrbar und mir obliegt es, herauszufinden, warum er ein Buch so und nicht anders bewertet. Nach der Lektüre von „Scarlet“ bestand der Bauch auf eine 3-Sterne-Bewertung und schickte mir ein diffuses Gefühl von Enttäuschung. Es ist eindeutig, dass ich „Cinder“ besser fand – jetzt musste ich nur noch definieren, wieso. Leichter gesagt als getan. Ich grübelte lange. Erst dachte ich, die Enttäuschung stamme daher, dass ich keine solide Verbindung zur Protagonistin Scarlet aufbauen konnte. Ich finde sie seltsam flach charakterisiert, da ihr aufbrausendes Temperament die einzige Eigenschaft ist, die sie auszeichnet. Ich sah in ihr wenig Individualität und empfand sie als ernüchternd austauschbar. Ihr männlicher Gegenpart Wolf ist deutlich interessanter, weil ihm seine Unsicherheit auf die Stirn geschrieben steht und ich furchtbar neugierig war, welche Geheimnisse er hinter seiner distanzierten, verschlossenen Fassade verbirgt. Für mich war offensichtlich, dass Wolf kein normaler Mensch ist. Ich war entsetzt, wie blind Scarlet gegenüber seinen Eigenheiten ist. Sie vertraut ihm und entwickelt – typisch YA – innerhalb kürzester Zeit Gefühle für ihn, obwohl alles an Wolf nach einer gesunden Portion Skepsis schreit. Sie reist mit ihm durch die wunderschön atmosphärisch beschriebene Landschaft Südfrankreichs, ohne sein Verhalten anzuzweifeln. Ich glaube, Marissa Meyer wollte so die vertrauensvolle Naivität nachbilden, die Rotkäppchen dem großen, bösen Wolf entgegenbringt. Leider funktioniert diese Form von Beziehung nur im Märchen. In einem modernen Roman wirkt sie unrealistisch. Strukturell folgt „Scarlet“ grob dem Märchen, doch die idiosynkratischen Wiedererkennungsmerkmale fand ich, abgesehen von Scarlets feuerroten Haaren und ihrem roten Hoodie, weniger auffallend als im ersten Band. Der Großteil wurde mir erst nach der Lektüre bewusst. Vielleicht hatte Marissa Meyer nicht genügend Raum, um sie hervorstechend zu inszenieren, da sie zum ersten Mal intensiv mit Perspektivwechseln arbeitete. Ich war positiv überrascht, dass Cinder einen eigenen Handlungsstrang erhält, weil ich mit ihr besser zurechtkomme als mit Scarlet. Cinder gelingt es, aus dem Gefängnis zu flüchten, indem sie sich mit dem selbstbewussten, charmanten Kleinkriminellen Carswell Thorne verbündet, den ich trotz müheloser Sympathie kaum ernstnehmen konnte. Seine Rolle fungiert meiner Meinung nach ausschließlich als Gegenpol zu Cinders Schwermut; er ist der witzige Sidekick, dessen Aufgabe darin besteht, Situationen aufzulockern. Seine Figur ist nicht in sich selbst motiviert, sondern nur in seinem Verhältnis zu anderen Figuren. Ich fand ihn unecht und übertrieben.
All diese Kritikpunkte sind gute Gründe, „Scarlet“ lediglich mit 3 Sternen zu bewerten. Doch der Bauch war mit diesen Erklärungen noch nicht zufrieden. Er ließ mir keine Ruhe und zwang mich, tiefer zu graben. Ich grub und grub, bis ich endlich den Ursprung meiner sachten Enttäuschung freilegte: „Scarlet“ ist weniger originell als „Cinder“. Für mich enthält es zu wenig frische Ideen. Es unterscheidet sich kaum von einer popeligen YA-Dystopie aus der Durchschnittsecke und deshalb verdient es dem Bauch zufolge auch nur eine durchschnittliche Bewertung.

 

„Scarlet“ ist meiner Meinung nach schwächer als der Vorgänger „Cinder“. Trotz der respektvollen, angemessenen Verarbeitung des Märchens „Rotkäppchen“ büßt es durch die enge Anlehnung an genretypische Strukturen deutlich an Reiz ein. Das taffe Mädchen, der geheimnisvolle fremde Junge, Insta-Love und eine gefährliche Rettungsmission – sagt mir nicht, dass euch das nicht bekannt vorkommt. Leider lenken diese Elemente von der kreativen Gestaltung des futuristischen Universums ab, das Marissa Meyer im zweiten Band erfreulicherweise öffnet und erweitert. Ich bin gespannt, welche neuen Facetten ich im dritten Band „Cress“ erleben werde und wie Meyer die Jonglage mit drei Protagonistinnen meistert. Aschenputtel, Rotkäppchen und Rapunzel vereint – das verspricht, interessant zu werden.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/marissa-meyer-scarlet
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review 2017-09-13 12:08
This will certainly not be the last of J.D. Carabella's works I'll read!
Nocturnal Voyeur - The Complete Series: A Tale of Passion, Pulp and the Paranormal - JD Carabella

I am not sure why this would ever be broken into five shorter stories and sold seperately. This works so well as one larger work, I really can't imagine only being drip fed the story. If nothing else, it would have stopped the nice flow the story has, and made it more difficult for the reader to rejoin the characters on their journey.

Speaking of the characters, they were quite enjoyable, even though Mack does fall into a few of the trope pitfalls. I really enjoyed Fiona's character with all her stubborness and foibles. I would have liked a little more development for Fiona, and Mack needed more room to grow as well (no pun intended). Fiona really makes the story, but she's given so little time to develop in between all the action (both in the bedroom and out of it) that it did feel like we were racing after her in the story so didn't have time to learn what we needed about her.

The mix of Native American Indian mythology, magic and the paranormal regulars (were-animals/shifters), provided a delightful paranormal flavour to this romp through the 1930's timeline and gave the story a uniqueness that has been missing from some of the paranormal romance/erotica stories I've been reading. I'd have loved some more time to explore the history, mythology and explanations of the magic system, but we're only really given but a tiny glimpse of it.

The story left me with some unanswered questions; ones I hope can be answered with another story following Fiona and Mack. Or, perhaps some of the answers are explored in J.D's other series in the same world - Arrested by Passion. I'll have to check them out to see :)

While the writing wasn't perfect, the overall feel of this piece was quite polished and the story provided a quick, entertaining read for those who like a bit of bite with their erotic reading. Unfortunately, the insta-love aspect niggled a bit. It wasn't a total mess, but it wasn't flawless either. I think a little more character building and development would help with the feeling of it all being a bit rushed and make the insta-love seem less clunky and more 'destined lovers'.

The sexy scenes were provided in large quantities and quite varied in sexual preference, tastes and kinks. This was nicely done, though at times I did wonder if they were all really needed, or if it was a particular penchant of J.D. to enjoy writing smut, so she came up with a plot that allowed for a lot of the short snippets to be present and still fit nicely in with the story. That's not a complaint, merely an observation. 

In terms of hotness, not all of them floated my boat, but given the quantity and varied content, I'm sure almost all erotic readers will find a scene or fantasy to please their tastes within the covers of this book. 

One word of warning: this book does contain what some would call dub-con or non-con elements, along with some pretty brutal tentacle rape scenes, is littered with foul language and some intriguing, yet extremely depraved scenes. 

This will certainly not be the last of J.D. Carabella's works I'll read! 

A few things I noticed:

7% - a few erotica faux pas (everyone being sex Gods and Goddesses and rolling continuous orgasms) - admitedly pretty common in paranormal romance/erotic stories, but weirdly I still expected more from J.D.
9% - ...I know Theo was fond of you, (delete space)"
10% - ...and lie(lay/laid) awake for a few hours...
12% - Mack still stood still (awkward wording consider revising) 
32% - ...shortness of her shirt(skirt), which ended above the knees...
49% - they had been Cheekbones and Silence previously, not Smiler 
94% - Mack was large in ever(y) sense of the...

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review**

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