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review 2017-04-03 07:38
*sigh* I wanted to like this.
Fair Catch - Leigh Carman
1.5 HEARTS--Told in dual first person POV, Fair Catch is a new adult romance (I use that term in the loosest of terms) between 22 year old yoga instructor, parkour enthusiast, genius techie and millionaire 5' 6" Tobias "Toby" Bennett and 25 year old Superbowl winning, best NFL wide receiver in the league, 6' 6" alpha male Sullivan "Van" Archer.

That's a lot of hats these main characters wear. Usually when I read a story that give their MC holds many titles, it's used as the depth and characteristics that story lacks.

So is the case with Fair Catch. It was the equivalent of reading about paper thin types play acting a romance. I'm not a fan of those.





Also this story doesn't have trigger warnings, so let me get those out the way: domestic abuse, gay bashing, attempted rape and domestic violence.

The story starts out roughly, Toby (the smaller, beautiful owner of crystalline eyes) is herded into an office but a club owner (best friend of Van) for closeted Van Archer's pick of ass for the night. Toby was celibate and allegedly wary of others since his last relationship, one with a controlling abusive older, larger lawyer. So what does young Toby do when grabbed and told to go into the room? Why he drops to his knees and hooks up with the intimidating stranger's friend. Makes sense.

This monumental hookup is mentioned in the blurb, however, there is no description of this life changing scene, just exaltation of why the MC is so beautiful and smaller, there's a foot difference in height, don't you know?
The story jumps around to Van winning the Superbowl but getting an owwie. Then we jump to a yoga class with Toby as the teach. And it continues to jump all around to make for a bumpy transitions, declarations of not doing an action and then doing it either before or a few paragraphs down the line. The disjointed brand of story telling continues throughout. And the thing is, though weeks and months pass, the main characters basically spend a handful of days together, with no meaningful events written and shown to the reader.

Oh, there is sex. Repetitive sex that I could write the script for you: big hulking guy manhandles the little guy, calls him "beautiful" two finger probe into the "little hole", condom, lube, insert dick, thrust, "mine", cums and falls on top. Rinse and repeat.

Fair Catch was swimming around the 2.5 mark until the repeated attempted rapes plot line. Actually it's right around when the unnecessary villain/ex-boyfriend with the extremely weak blackmail twist was thrown in. After that, the story went onto an over the top tangent with a lot of bruises, tears, possessive behavior and and stereotypes.

The best things about the novel is the concept and the readability. It's very simple to read and you can quickly zip through.

The negatives outweigh the positives however.





The writing style - Too telling, contradictory and relies on stereotypical characters to make the story "interesting" and for added drama. The telling is so heavy, an example is that a character would need to look in the mirror to tell the reader they were horny and describe to you, instead of just writing it and letting the reader figure it out on their own. To say the book needed a through edit, content wise, is not wrong. There are too many examples of this writing style where it fails to showcase the character. More descriptive and time were spent on the superficial things rather than letting the character have a hint of depth. And key scenes that could have actually used a thorough description were ignored.

All of the character could instantly know what the other characters were thinking, been through, etc. Maybe clairvoyant is an unofficial hat to add to the list of jobs they all have.

The stereotypes - I really was not a fan of the way Leo, Toby's best friend was written. He was nothing more that a loud color wearing, cock hound who went into hysterics at a drop of a hat.

The abuse/domestic violence - I am always on the side of an abuse victim. However they react is their right. This book minimizes abuse (also again the characters can just tell what happened to each other):

"My last boyfriend. He was... not nice."
"What do you mean?" Then Leo gasps, gripping his shirt over his chest. "Oh My God, Toby. Did he hit you?"
"Not exactly. Well, sort of. I don't know, Leo. It was abusive, I know, but it all built up over such a long period of time, I didn't realize what was going on until it was too late."

Toby can't tell if he was abused? It was just last year when he described being raped and beaten. Or the fact Toby stated he felt worse for his friend being called homophobic slurs than suffering through actual physical abuse and being raped. Both are horrible, let me be clear, but they are not equal.

And in case the past rape wasn't used enough, the attempted rape plot device was added... TWICE!

To create dramatic effect? The last one made no sense, nor did it add to anything other than it gave the alpha hero a shot to flex his muscles and allegedly save the day. The thing is Van wasn't there the first time the attempted rape card was brought to the table and he didn't seem as cut about it afterwards.

Van - I know he's supposed to read like a good guy. But the way he was written was not as effective, He realized his true self as being a gay man by not wearing sweats and sneakers but rather tailored, designer clothes. Seriously? Or how about the fact he knows about Toby's abused past but didn't care when he got mad at his lover and started to go apeshit on him? Or manhandling Toby in the heat of sexy times so soon after Toby gets beaten again.

If an abuse victim closes himself off from others, why would Van be the one to break their celibacy on? Nothing was shown to support that. The reader is told they're horny for one another, told they're soul mates, told they love each other...but nothing is shown.

This book has the potential to appeal to certain readers, if you rather not learn main characters' life stories, just want a beginning and middle and end with some sex thrown in and a lot of drama, then Fair Catch might be the book for you.

For me:




I'm sure this is my last Leigh Carman I'll read.




A copy provided for an honest review.

 

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review 2017-02-14 05:20
Had to pull out my rarely used DNF card for this one
Casto - Xenia Melzer
Had to pull out my rarely used DNF card for this one

RATED BROKEN HEART -DNF-33%


So...

Casto...



This was a disaster for me from page 1.

*clears throat*

Not the first time I've read books that don't work for me. I try to see if I can attempt to catch the plot the author tries to deliver, look for something positive about any story I read.

First time author Xenia Melzer's fantasy/mythology Master/slave based debut efforts does show that she is very interested in the world she created in Casto. So much so, that there is centuries of history, math lessons and hundreds of characters introduced. The author was indulgent with new plot thread and tangent written. You can literally read pages and pages of mythology before getting to the premise of Casto.

Meaning a bogged down info dump in the form of a base...



Then we get through millenia of history and convolution to get to two gods who was reduced to a demigod to teach the humans of the new world a lesson, Renaldo and his older brother Canubis (which I kept reading as cannabis). I questioned how all the other mythological beings could have fantasy-ish names and then we get Renaldo as the main character.

Anyway... Renaldo is thousands of years old and he sees 16 year old virgin warrior, Casto, do some impossible feat and take down Renaldo's top warriors. He takes Casto as his slave. And there is fighting and infighting with too many warriors/slaves/people/witches? to count nor care about.

Casto hates Renaldo. Renaldo wants to bed Casto. Doesn't for awhile because he wants Casto to want it. But then we're told there is chemistry. After months/days/years, they fight and a cherry is taken.

 Then an orgy pops up as a spring ritual.



I got off the Casto ride after that. The sex was too forced. The chemistry was the same. And the story telling was all over the place. I don't know why a five year old pops up in between Casto's slavery. Maybe a metaphor? Or flashback?

What the story needed - a clear plot, editing, and reorganization of a lot of paragraphs.

When there are more than 10 characters to keep up with, I think index of all of the characters might be necessary. We go from 2 to 4 then 6 gods, then there are 8 demigods on top of the 6 to keep track of.

Too much.

The Master/slave relationship? I wish there was a different way the entire Casto/Renaldo pairing was written. It read awkward and weird. I've read better stories with this semblance of a plot - war prize/ owner pairing - too much convolution to let the characters come to life in Casto.

Maybe the story got better by the end. (Though I doubt it as more characters kept getting added as I progressed) I'm not interested in finding out or even reading more of this series.

I do not recommend this to fantasy lovers.





A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2017-02-03 05:10
Sometimes, not even KNOTTING can save a book...
The Artist And His Alpha (Alpha and Omega Series) (Volume 3) - Lisa Oliver

Stopped at 29% for my sanity.

I think I'm looking too deeply at it but the attempted rape was too much.

Or maybe it was the dramatic artist tantrum?

Or maybe the AK-47 wielding?

There's KNOTTING, so maybe I'll be back.

As is, story is in 1-2 star range. DNF

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review 2017-02-03 05:02
Like erotic thrillers? This is one to check out!
Max - Bey Deckard
A tag team review with Sara!



4.5 HEARTS--

There was no climbing back out of the rabbit hole; he was fucked and fucked good, but at least the company was interesting.

Down the rabbit hole indeed...




What a twisted, psychological thrilling roller coaster of a ride Max turned out to be.

I'd rather warn potential readers there are triggers in here: rape, dubious consent, unethical practices, cheating, some violence. (A checklist of sorts that guaranteed me reading) And I don't consider this a trigger by any means, but there are readers who don't like vaginas in their fiction *gasp*...whelp, there are few in here (put to good use might I add. I mean it is a Bey Deckard title *grin*) Is Max dark? I don't think so. On a scale from 1-5, maybe 1 or 1.5? It's more a head game...a devious fucking head game.

Lying.

There's oodles and oodles of lies. And I've read this 1.5 times, and I'm trying to figure out where all the truths were.

Set in Montréal, Dr. Dennis Crane is a newly minted psychologist, married and seems to have a normal life. Enter his patient, young Max, who he can tell has a madness in his eyes, that Max is hiding something. But Dr. Crane is drawn to the younger man. Maybe he can diagnose him, fix Max. He doesn't even realize he's been ensnared in the spider's web and Max is running the show.

"Are you afraid of me, Dennis? You shouldn't be. I'm trying my very best to make you understand that I like you. And I'm offering you the very thing you desire the most: me. You know I'm a fine specimen of amorality. I'm giving you the opportunity to look behind the curtain. No holding back."

I believe I've made it known I enjoy reading the cray crays, especially when they're well written. Psychopaths, sociopaths, amoral puppet masters that treat others they encounter as their toys...I enjoy reading them.


This is Max.

He's a level 7 on my scale, 100%.  And I was plugged in for his show. Really enjoyed that twisted fucker.

Reading Dr. Crane lose more of himself to the miasma of the depravity that reeks from Max, and you read it as Crane knows and still can't help himself. *claps hands wildly* That was everything. The story is told in a journal style, from Dr. Crane's POV. Max and Dr. Crane's interactions starts with sessions, and steadily moves from the doctor's practice, taking over Crane's life. A mild mannered man who develops kinks he didn't even know existed. The sex was scorching hot, while the lines between doctor and patient blurred, melded and made new definitions.

"I've opened you up to a whole new range of experiences. Once you get acclimatized, you'll see it the way I do."

I had minor quibbles.  I wanted to know more. What exactly happened during the missing days? There are hints, subtle hints dotted in between the lies. It's a little frustrating not knowing. Maybe there'll be a B-side to Max? Maybe not. Who knows if the world's ready to know what's going on inside that "lizard brain" of Max's. *wink*

The ending is...I'm still a little wide eyed after that ending. I don't know what else to define it other than a little sad, yet fitting.

Recommended for readers who like amoral liars, characters who don't care to define their sexuality and twisted psychological erotica.

Watch your step.



That rabbit hole, man...it's a helluva ride.



A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2016-10-19 06:11
A broken hero, dark urban fantasy and a magical world can be found in here...
In the Twist - L. A. Stockman
3.5 Hearts--Debut novella urban fantasy with a religious/mythology tinge, In the Twist, is the first in the Wild Hunt series. It's definitely a story that is not for everyone. Read the blurb. Still think you're ready? The story begins with a gory start...a disemboweled junkie child kind of start. Still with me? There are triggers up the wazoo, potential readers are heavily warned. While the subjects are dark, the story isn't as dark as it seems. (Think light-ish DMC read)

If you don't mind viscera here and there.

Anyone, still here with me?

You are?

Great. :)

Irish ex-priest, now American detective David Shaughnessy is a damaged soul with so baggage he could probably run his own department store. He's fairly young but has lived a lifetime of pain, shares a home with a sister and houses unwanted orphans. He was an unwanted once. And was used and abused by those who he should have trusted.

Present day David can care for those in need but doesn't care about himself, he's scarred and tattooed. While on a case, he meets older and worldly Interpol agent Dallan Jaeger. Dallan and David see the world...differently. Together, they uncover the mundane and magic world, open a new way of life for David and meet the 'The Wild Hunt', a group of the world's best warriors of legend.

The first 30% was a struggle for me. In fact, it took me days to get through. It wasn't the subject matter (because this barely scratches my dark meter) but the POV is muddled. At one point eye colors changed from ice blue to green-grey. And I thought it disemboweling was going to be as good as it got. But something pushed me to keep reading.

And I'm glad I did.

After 30% or so, the story got less muddled and more interesting, especially the urban fantasy world, religious and historical undertones brushed through. There was action, magic, romance, horror and mystery. It might've also been the swords added in too. I'm a sucker for swords. There's more to Dallan, David and his family. I like the mythological/fantasy world created. And I enjoy anything with a hint of heaven/hell thrown in made interesting. I enjoyed the author's take on it (the hints the reader gets).

Bare bones, this story hits an appropriate checklist of romance: man meets man, they share interests and mutual attraction, fight said attraction while uncovering a mystery and falling for one another for a solid HFN.

Not bad, right? What's the difference from all the other urban fantasy romances? The Wild Hunt, for one. Picture international badass immortal warriors from the ages. The faeries in this book are evil. And there are dukedoms in Hell.

I thought all of that was cool.

But I have quibbles.

My main quibble with this novella is it could have been longer.

For someone with David's depth of damage, the rapid way he gets over his hangups for love? I want to buy it. I really do. But it takes time. His mental abuse is so ingrained, the hurt and pain were written so well (a bit too well in aspects) that I ached for him. We get novel length feelings and major declarations in a novella. And some really lovely words, that I normally flutter like glitter fairy to I really enjoy. But the time span the men spend together is days. It's not like we're talking normal human relationships here. I can turn a blind eye for fated mates (not the case here).

I liked the attraction between Dallan and David. The romance was nice when I overlook the muddle. Because the conversations that Dallan and David had, really had when trying to overcome the hardships of their past (namely the abused), oh...those were sweet. Like laying jewels on your damaged feet kind of sweet. I basked in some the words when the muddling lessened.

I especially liked the duke. I kind of wished there was elaboration on the backstory about that. The story slowly unfolds David's background and his kids. It's more about him than Dallan, though both men are equally interesting.

Worth a gander (those who can handle the subject matter)? I think so.

Underneath the weaker start, rapid insta-love, beginning POV confusion, there's a solid plot. And it's too soon to call, but there were hints of something in the prose. It reminded me of a few urban fantasy stories I used to read in the past underneath my quibbles. And I think that if the author finds a groove, explains plot points and keep the POV separate...this could be an urban fantasy series to watch.

I'll be back for book #2, Titan's Watch, see what else the author has up her sleeve especially for these characters.



A copy provided for an honest review.
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