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review 2017-09-14 03:12
You'll Be the Death of Me! by Stacia Wolf
You'll Be the Death of Me! - Stacia Wolf

You’ll Be the Death of Me! stars Allison Leavitt, a successful mystery author, and Jay Cantrall, a Los Angeles police detective who’s been temporarily transferred to Spokane after a scandal. They happen to be neighbors in the same apartment building, and although they’re both instantly attracted to each other, they also don’t entirely trust or like each other.

Allison is leery of men who only want to date her for her money, doesn’t really think that sex (aside from masturbation) is all that great, has body issues (due to some scars and, possibly, her curviness), and is still working through her feelings of guilt and terror over a past traumatic event. The only man who interests her anymore is fictional: Detective Ben Stark, one of the main characters in her mystery series. Shockingly, Jay looks like both Allison’s mental image of Ben and the image of Ben on the proposed cover art for Allison’s next book. She can’t decide whether she’s interested in Jay because he looks like Ben, or because she’s just interested in Jay.

Meanwhile, Jay is leery of women who are more interested in his celebrity twin brother than they are in him. To be honest, he has trust issues with women in general at the moment, since it was his ex-girlfriend’s lies that resulted in the scandal that got him sent to Spokane. But there’s something about Allison that keeps drawing him in. Allison, her best friend Paige, and a landlady with an annoying Chinese crested dog that she believes can do no wrong make it hard for Jay to keep to himself.

I spotted this in a used bookstore clearance section a while back and snatched it up primarily because it was a Samhain Publishing title. Some of those can be difficult to find or incredibly expensive now that the publisher has shut down operations. What if it turned out to be really good and I missed out on it? And if it wasn’t good, well, it only cost me $2.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that I’d picked up a stinker. Allison in particular seemed to have way more issues to deal with than could properly be handled in such a short book, and the whole thing about Jay’s twin seemed incredibly contrived. In general, these two characters needed to spend at least a few months getting to know and trust each other before I could believe in them as a couple. Instead, they were together for maybe a week or two, enough time to drool over each other and have sex, but not enough time to truly trust each other once the issues readers could see from a mile away started cropping up.

I hated them as a couple so much. Anytime Jay made any kind of small talk that touched on money or Allison’s job, Allison immediately assumed that he was just another guy hoping she’d pay his bills in exchange for sex. I was more forgiving of Jay’s blowup when he inevitably spotted Allison’s newest cover art, but their arguments after that made me dislike them both.

They both refused to listen to or believe each other. In fact, Allison somehow still

believed that Jay was after her money even after he blew up on her about the cover art. How did she think that was going to work? Did she think he was simultaneously going to snarl at her for being more interested in his brother or her fictional character than in him and convince her to pay his bills? Besides that, a true gold digger wouldn't have cared if she only liked him because he looked like her character or his twin brother. It should have only taken a second or two of thought to realize that her conclusions didn’t make any sense.

(spoiler show)


But logic wasn’t exactly the author’s strong suit and, unfortunately, the result was extremely inconsistent main characters. For example, after spending most of the book up to that point thinking that Allison knew full well the effect she had on men (or at least on him in particular), on page 79 Jay suddenly divined that Allison was uncomfortable with her body and reacted accordingly. Then there was Allison, who spent most of the book saying that she’d never orgasmed while having sex with a man and could only get off while thinking about her fictional detective. Despite that, on page 104 this thought suddenly popped into her head: “it had been way too long since she’d made love.” Huh?

I hated how the author wrote about Allison’s issues with sex. Jay couldn’t even fathom that someone might not enjoy sex and became fixated on the idea that Allison’s previous lovers just hadn’t done a good job. He, of course, would do better.

“What did Allison need? Love, passion, romance? Him. She needed him. She needed him to teach her the better side of sex.” (106)

I could imagine him saying that out loud and me laughing in his face.

Sometimes things happened just because the author wanted/needed them to happen, and not because they particularly made much sense. For example, at one point Jay and his partner, Pearce, were doing a stakeout and Pearce, for some unknown reason, decided that he absolutely had to make up with ex-girlfriend right then and there. So he asked her to come see him during the stakeout. Yeah, you read that right. And then when the suspect recognized him and the stakeout went bad, Ping (the Chinese crested) accidentally got loose and Jay injured himself trying to avoid him. Allison blamed herself for Jay’s injury because she hadn’t kept a tight enough hold on Ping’s leash, and so she felt obligated to help him out a bit while he recovered. Pearce told her she shouldn’t be so hard on herself...and failed to say anything about his part in the whole incident. In fact, not a single person blamed Pearce for Jay’s injury, and there were no consequences for his actions. The author literally orchestrated the entire thing just to force Allison and Jay to spend more time with each other.

The book had other issues, but I think I'll wrap things up here. You'll Be the Death of Me! was a quick read, and yet it still wasn't worth the small amount of time it took to get through it. Even the dog wasn't very appealing.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2015-10-26 00:00
Vespertine
Vespertine - Indra Vaughn,Leta Blake

4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 because I'm so sorry for being so overly sceptical in the beginning


Oh my god, I can't believe I actually thought about putting this on my "never-going-to-read-shelf" and be done with it. But this was such a tough sell for me. Leta Blake is - I'm sorry to say it - not my most favorite author. Mainly because I had some issues with parts of Training Season, and started one other book that didn't make it on my kindle after I finished the sample and wasn't thrilled. Also, a gay priest and a rock star? I was so sceptical when I started, I almost expected to dnf this.

But holy f-ing Christ on a stick - pun intended. Was I ever WRONG. Jasper, an out but celibate priest, and Nicky, singer and songwriter hitting rock bottom too damn early in his life, drew me in so fast, I didn't even realize it until it was three in the morning and I still coulnd't stop reading.

I admit it freely, I'm a sucker for the hurt-feelings-in-the-past-theme. I love a well written story where two people who hurt and abandoned each other somehow find their way back through all the molasses that is hurt pride, broken hearts and destroyed trust, to something so new and so deep, that they can't help but explore all of it. I fell especially hard for Nicky. In some ways he could have been the absolute rock star cliché, but he really wasn't. His childhood was not desolate and lonely, even though he had a very bad start in life (to put it mildly). Jaz was not exactly my most favorite person in the world, and he too, had the potential to be the walking cartoon image of a closeted clergy man.

In the end, they both weren't what I thought they would be, which was not only refreshing, but grabbed me and didn't let me go until the last page was turned. The writing was beautiful, the journey of the two not too fast and not too slow.

The only wish I had, that wasn't fullsilled, was the sex problem. I was really hoping for a different outcome after their make-out session on their island. In a way, it was nice to not have Jaz being destroyed by his anxieties and guilt after the deed was done. But on the other hand it would have been nice to have him figure his life out, especially him leaving the priesthood, before he gave his heart and body to Nicky completely. I felt a little bit akward reading their sensual, hot sex scene, when I had the same issues Nicky had. Namely, my absolute conviction that everything would go to shit once Jaz was done thinking with his dick. In the end, it didn't, bless the authors. But it was still not what I was hoping for.

Additionally, Jaz' lack of gut-wrenching confusion, his guilt, the severe conflict between his heart and his faith, fell somewhat flat here. Not even after he broke his vows, threw a life-long commitment to his church and his faith out of the window, did some of the crushing feelings and/or guilt come. In a way, I was ecstatic, because I am a big opponent of the abstinence of catholic priests and nuns - because I'm sorry, but this is not only against everything evolution and biology tells your body to do, it's also unhealthy, outdated and in my opinion, unnecessary and cruel. But that's a story for another day. What I wanted to say was, it was nice not to have Jaz going completely bonkers after sleeping with Nicky for the first time. On the other hand I would have liked to see at least a little bit more struggle with his beliefs. Since they were the most important thing in his life for years.

Oh well, you can't have your caker and eat it, too. And in the end, there were really enough problems and struggles to last a lifetime or three. Didn't change the fact that I enjoyed the hell out of this story and would recommend it to every fan of the hurt-comfort theme. It's beautifully done here.

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review 2014-03-15 06:30
REVIEW: “Required Surrender” by Riley Murphy
Required Surrender - Riley Murphy

NB:  Review originally posted on Amazon and GR @ 25-Jul-2013.  Minor edits/clean-up after import to BL.

 

 

Genre:  CR-BDSM

Length:  novel (308 Kindle pgs/estimated)

Heat Level/Content:  Erotica (BDSM; anal; e/v)

Publication Date: 

Publisher:  Ellora's Cave

Series Info:  Surrender #3

 

BLURB:

Josephine needs a Dom to Top her if she’s going to conquer her issues with men. But when Ted, the frenemy she’s chosen, refuses, Jo needs to take drastic measures. She goes to his resort to find another candidate. Unfortunately, that plan’s a bust.

 

Headstrong Jo is a Dom’s worst nightmare. So when Ted discovers that a newbie has signed the “Full Monty” release form—an occurrence that has the resident sadists circling—he knows it’s Jo.

 

What’s a Dom to do? After he thanks her for giving him carte blanche, he hauls her ass up to the rodeo room for a ride. A ride that rapidly becomes a trip of epic proportions with kinky detours galore until they hit a fork in the road. One avenue leads to Jo’s prized independence and the other leads home to Ted. Now, Jo must decide between the two.

(spoiler show)

 

Divider_Twist

 

* Review copy provided by the author via the BDSM group’s

BDSM TPE BAR logo photo BDSM_TPE_BAR_logo_zpsd354ccb6.jpg

 

Sweet BDSM romance (but some quibbles...)

★★½ (rounded up to account for my personal quirks)

 

THE SHORT: Sweet, well-written BDSM romance about two people coming to terms with their deepest pains and fears. Recommended for those who enjoy a TLC Dom and/or are just getting into this genre.

 

THE LONG: By all measures, Required Surrender by NTM author Riley Murphy should’ve been a DNF. And at one point, I nearly did stop reading. However, I continued on because Ms. Murphy is a solid writer who managed to weave a coherent romance story with some smokin’ and varied BDSM scenes. So here’s an explanation of my final rating/review:

3-4 ★s for the BDSM scenes (considered separately from the story)
2-3 ★s for the story/writing
1-2 ★s for the BDSM concepts

My starting points and a few reasons why I came close to DNF’ing this book:

  1. Erroneously thought that I had read an earlier work by Ms. Murphy so didn’t expect such a TLC story. I generally prefer my BDSM reads to be more on the harder side but this, in and of itself, is not a deal breaker.
  2. I tend to shy away from storylines which involve use of BDSM for emotional/psychological therapy.
  3. I draw a distinction between D/s and M/s relationships so the unexpected switch mid-story with little foundation didn’t work for me.
  4. I have a hard line when it comes to the safeword and hard limits, and misuse and/or violations of either usually are deal breakers for me.

Added to the above is the fact that I didn’t find Ted too likeable. My perception of him ranged from “TLC Dom” (not really my preference) to “poseur Master” to simply “coward”. I also had a hard time suspending disbelief re: parts of his backstory, given the stated age frame.

While not out of the realm of possibility, I personally can't see a 16-18yo being sexually aware and/or experienced enough to take his first sub.

(spoiler show)

 

As for Jo, I couldn’t relate to her unsupported transition from wanting BDSM exposure therapy (so to deal with past trauma) to being a sub (especially when early in the book, “Jo wasn’t even sure she was a sub”) to being a slave. Furthermore, she was sexually inexperienced but ready to engage in fairly advanced BDSM play. I could swallow this somewhat as “mind over matter” but had a harder time with her going from a bratty sub (which, to me, generally = “immature”—again, not my preference in BDSM reads) to almost needy/desperate because she was in love. IMO, her desire to be Ted's sub—and then later, his slave—seemed to stem more from a willingness to do whatever it took to have him, as opposed to an “awakening” re: her submissive nature and the realisation that he fulfilled her sexual and emotional needs.

Yet despite everything, Ms. Murphy’s storytelling was good enough to keep me interested and reading… until I got to this:

“I expect you to take what I’m going to do to you without complaint.  If it proves to be too much for you say your safe word and I’ll let you leave…for good.  Understood?”

Um, no. Just “no”, full stop. That right there misrepresents and undermines the general understanding re: the purpose and concept of the safeword. There should be no consequences attached to a person’s use of a safeword other than the immediate cessation of BDSM play. Anything else should be a separate matter for discussion.

 

So why did I continue and read to the end? Because again, the writing was good and frankly, I was close to the end anyway. Unfortunately, a certain “moment of realisation” was more telling (vs. showing)/info dump and for me, the book sort of ended on a whimper as it relates to Ted and Jo. And the Epilogue is clearly to set up the next book, instead of the more standard “where are the MCs now and how has their relationship changed/gotten better”.

 

Despite hitting a few of my own personal “hard limits” and the small letdown at the end, I don’t regret choosing to read Required Surrender one bit. It introduced me to Ms. Murphy’s writing and I would definitely consider reading another one of her books. In fact, the Epilogue to this one certainly worked in piquing my interest in David/Lacy. :)

 

Side note: Given that well-established Ellora’s Cave published Required Surrender, I didn’t take off for repeated technical writing errors (such as run-on sentences and necessary but missing commas) which I found very distracting. I lay those squarely on those involved in the proofing/editing.

 

NOTE: My deepest apologies to Ms. Murphy for the delay in posting this review. The mod was kind enough to give me a generous extension, which I ended up using to re-evaluate this book and write up a new review. But then recent GR site upgrades/maintenance tweaks posed all kinds of headaches until now.

Source: karmabites.booklikes.com/post/825230/review-required-surrender-by-riley-murphy
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