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review 2014-03-24 06:59
Underwear is Unavailable in the Underworld
The Surrender of Persephone - Selena Kitt

Adult review for erotic content. Trigger Warning : Dubious Consent.

"Aidon, are you trying to recapture your youth with nubile young virgins? What's next, a new red chariot?"


The first thing you should know : Surrender of Persephone is PwP (Porn Without Plot) erotica. Here's where I pull out my apples-to-apples genre rating comparison because I'm only rating this compared to other PwP, not other "stories" in general. Now, PwP doesn't necessarily mean that there is no plot at all; what it generally means is that there is a higher ratio of sex to plot than a normal romance or mainstream erotica. In the case of Surrender, I consider the book to be one long rolling sex scene with some cool mythology references thrown in. Even though the story itself is sparse, the author still brought her own unique spin on the Hades/Persephone tale. If you've read into the darker tones of the myth involving the kidnap and conquering of Persephone, then you might understand why the author chose to take her story down the BDSM path.

His eyes glowed in the dimness, and he had a small, satisfied smile on his face. "You like the struggle, don't you?"


Now, as far as PwP goes, it's no secret that if I'm in the mood for it, I'll generally pick up Selena Kitt. Why? Because I like the way she writes sex. This woman writes sex how it feels, smells, sounds, etc. taking the reader to a place where it's not hard to imagine being there in the story.

In true Kitt fashion, there's always going to be a scene or two that runs over-the-top. In this case, the story's very first sex scene starts with spoiled little Persephone frolicking and engaging in a very giggly threesome with Artemis and Athena, sure to please any man's barely legal lesbian fantasies. 

They roll, tumble, twist their bodies in every position imaginable as three young, nubile young ladies get each other off over...and over...and over...

Yeah. I smile with amusement because it's kind of hot, in spite of how the girl-on-girl scenes in Kitt's books tend to run toward "oops, did I spill something on my see-through shirt?" kind of a blatant hook.

So I read through the "come on in!" intro and waited for the main event to happen - the appearance of Hades (translated to Aidon here) and his kidnapping of Persephone. Because that's when everything is going to change from giggly play to dark and dirty deeds.

"I will be the instrument of your greatest pain and pleasure."


Yep. That's where we're going. And clothing isn't optional - it's completely forbidden. 

BECAUSE IT'S EASIER TO HAVE NON-STOP SEX IF YOU ARE NAKED ALL OF THE TIME.

The sound of his palm biting her flesh made a resounding slap and she bit her lip, trying not to cry out. 

"I will be your sun...your moon...

Your day...your night..."

Persephone felt the impact vibrating through her. 

"Your heaven...your hell..."


Sure, there were cheesy sex terms aplenty. But I forgive some of it with Kitt's writing because I like the overall result. 

And for the glaring lack of plot, the mythology was surprisingly well-done. Each character's position and how they related to the Underworld was tied back to the actual mythology. The names weren't just thrown out there; each character was a fleshed-out representation of the god or being they were named after (well except for Athena and Artemis because they were just the barely-legal candy to get the party started). 

And I LOVED that Hephastus was put to good use making epic sex toys. This was never covered during my read of Percy Jackson (it was a joke, people - don't freak out). 

Do I have any Complaints? It's probably the usual one for books like these. I prefer my PwP to be shorter in length, if I'm going to read simply for titillation's (I can't even write this word without laughing) sake. It's always sort of strange to start a steamy read before bed, then find that you need to break and pick up the second half the next night. It's much more enjoyable if you can tackle the entire thing in one shot before drifting off to sleep and possibly some interesting dreams.

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review 2014-02-28 03:03
Who Wants an Erotic Snuggie?
Sheikh's Scandal (The Chatsfield) - Lucy Monroe
*cue Barry White music*


Sayed's body was so close his outer robes brushed her. Her breath came out in a shocked gasp.


I'm waiting for the infomercial advertising an erotic Snuggie. I'll be the first one to order.

Since I can not account for any sort of cultural accuracy, I will skip right on past how correct the story representation was and get right to the heart of the matter - WHERE was the harem? There was a harem mentioned in the book's synopsis. I think that was about the same amount of mention in the book as well. I was wanting to see a man who had a bunch of women at his beck and call. Because I'm weird like that. It sounded kind of cool though, the idea of a story where a man has a ton of women, but notices one who isn't rolling with his crew. Right? 

This man wasn't a player. He didn't even really have pimp skills. Aaliyah called him an alpha, but I didn't see it outside of a few "you will not question me" moments. He was just a normal, nice, and hot guy who happened to be good in the bedroom. Hey, I'm not complaining. I look for these types of men in stories because they are rare breeds...but I think I was expecting something else completely. 

The guy hadn't had sex in 3 years. What??? 

Where was that harem again?

Anyway, back to the story. Sheikh's Scandal was surprisingly a lot of fun. This couple bonded over shots (alcohol, not gunfire) and conversation. I liked how down-to-earth their coupling was. Even though there was a very strange "need you now, even though I just met you" vibe to start, these two took some time to laugh it up and get to know each other, even as they were looking at moving forward to doing the horizontal bed dance. 

I'm sure at least a few of us can relate to that exact scene. Those are some fun times, indeed. Drinks make people looser? Who knew? Oh wait, we all did. 

I'm writing a review for the publisher, so it's probably not in my best interest to mention that I associate Harlequin presents books with standard cheese-of-the-month. But in Sheikh'sdefense, this actually worked in the book's favor, since I knew going into the read to expect a fair amount of cheese. 

The cheese didn't bother me. Fun times can cancel out some of the predictability. Plus, a little cheese can add to the entertainment factor. I like the idea of having a drinking game every time the words "big hands" or "big body" are used.

She'd never heard of brown fire before. (used to describe Sayed's eyes)
Neither had I. Because fire isn't ever brown.

Electric shocks had gone straight to his instant erection. 
Is this supposed to be a good thing? It actually sounds quite painful to me.

"I've never had sex in an elevator," she admitted like it was a deep, dark - even shameful - secret. 
Neither have I. I also haven't had sex on a roller-coaster, OR on the back of a horse. I FEEL SO ASHAMED! Do I get points back for having had sex on top of a hay bale stack or on top of a police car? 

"You were smoother than jazz."
"Smoother than jazz? Really?"
She shrugged. "No music is smoother."
"Perhaps I should be happy you didn't compare me to custard."
 

Yep. They did go there.

Desire riding him harder than a runaway camel in the desert. 
No matter how many times I read that sentence, it comes out sounding perverted in my head and I picture the camel riding the guy. 

See? It was all kind of amusing.

All kidding aside, the story was sweet and held my interest. For what it was, I liked the read. The basic theme of falling for a man himself and not his power and position is a love story that will resonate with many readers. I would want to try out this theme again sometime - but ONLY if there's a harem present. 

Thanks Ash for jumping in and reading with me!

This book provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All quotes taken from the pre-published version and may be altered or omitted from the final copy.

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review 2014-02-20 03:43
Come at me "brah"
Playing by the Book - S. Chris Shirley
!@#$@#$!#$%!*#$!1!


I really hate to do this to a book, when it seems like the author had good intentions with what he was doing. 

Coming of age tale : check
Poignant moments of self-reflection : check
Personal discovery of one's self : check


So what exactly is the problem, you ask? Here's the deal - every so often, I come across a YA book where I feel like the entire thing is written like it's supposed to appeal to YA readers, but is so out of touch with YA lit culture that it misses the mark. This is one of those times.

I suddenly felt cool as hell. "Yes! Momma's older sister. She's a hoot!"


Uh...no. If you just said the words, "she's a hoot!" you are, in fact, NOT cool as hell.

I can't even classify the book as Adult lit which just happens to have a young protag. The character voices are not going to match up well enough for adult lit either, since the male lead comes across as very young and clueless. 

Where do I start? Can I start with Sam, the kid from Cali who said "Brah" 31 times? What decade are we living in, again? 

Or do I start with Jake, the male lead, who calls his father "The Preacher," and is completely ignorant to life in general?

Or do I start with the "hit you over the head" life lessons which seemed like a bad version of an anti-bullying campaign? 

I get it. The kid is confused. He was raised by a strict, conservative family. I'm sure that in some parts of the country (this would be the U.S.), people are so isolated from normal society that they are bullied into small town thinking and small town ideology. I saw that hideous remake of Footloose, after all (no, I was not serious in actually using Footloose as a real life reference). 

However, the message of the story was so drowned in Jake's sheltered existence that it made me as a reader start to loathe him as a character. He was like a parody of a small-town kid, all fresh from the country and ready to tackle the big city! Never mind that he thought the Sikh kid was Muslim, or spent half of his conversations with other people trying to talk them into why it was or wasn't wrong to be gay, based on his Biblical upbringing. This kid was just painfully awkward - how he made friends was beyond me. He was at Columbia university, hanging out and having new experiences, yet he was SUCH A BUZZKILL.

"I don't know," I said, looking around. "How about 'Holy Cow!' or 'Gosh!' or just go with some deity no one cares about - like Zeus!"


He couldn't have just said that it bothered him when she swore by using the name of JC? What's with the "substitute" swearing cues?

Dude (yes, I can say dude. It's cancelled out by the amount of "Brah-age" going on here), seriously. I grew up in a conservative family. Even I knew how to not be an asshole when I was around non conservatives. For a story that was trying to teach a message of tolerance, I thought Jake was the slowest learner of the whole damn bunch. Even the strict parents were less frustrating.

Because guess what? No one wants an entire story of a person battling what's right and wrong in their head. It's called moderation, folks. A few well-placed chapters would have done the trick. Whining about your struggle to deny, then justify, yourself gets old fast.

It always goes back to my complaint about preachiness. Giving a strong point of view does not necessarily equate to having a plot. Apparently, it was a huge deal for this book to try and reconcile that it's okay to be gay and Christian at the same time because there might be some discrepancies in the Bible. Okay, so that might be interesting if the book was a research or non-fiction book, but not so much when it's plopped down in the middle of a coming-of-age story.

Too bad the entire 'new doctrine' part wasn't mentioned in the synopsis, or I wouldn't have picked up the book. 

For me, I love to read books about religion and spirituality when they're marked as such, and I know what the content is going to be about. This book wasn't marked as such, and so I thought this book was fiction about a kid deciding that it was okay to come out of the closet...maybe because...oh...a person came along who got into this kid's head. Ya know? 

So you decided to embrace your homosexuality? What's next, Jake? 

We still didn't do everything - we didn't go "all the way" - but I will say that neither of us held back.

Wait, what? How do you not go all the way, yet still manage to keep from holding back? After an entire book of waiting for someone to decide that he was okay to hook up with guys, that's the big ta-dah? Really?

(spoiler show)



I WADED THROUGH AN ENTIRE BOOK OF SELF-REFLECTION AND THIS IS WHAT I GET IN THE END? 

Pfft. 

This book provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All quotes taken from the pre-published copy and may be altered or omitted from the final copy.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-01-24 03:03
No seals were harmed in the making of this review
Torn from You - Nashoda Rose
Tonight I had watched in horror the degradation of human beings.


Emily might have watched the degradation of humans.Tonight, I watched in horror the degradation of the written word. Mild spoilers ahead. Read at your own peril.

Strike 1 : The male lead is in a rock band and is also an underground fighter - NAMED SCULPT. 

What? He's not also in a Motorcycle Club? If we're going to milk a bunch of trends in multiples, let's not leave anything out.

Strike 2 : The male lead calls his woman Pigeon errr Kitten errr Mouse.

I sense a pattern with the trending/imitation. At least he didn't call her baby over and over...oh wait. He did.

Strike 3 : The lack of a mom as a role model does not excuse this type of thinking :

"I never took you against your will. Ever."
He was right, he never did. Even when he fucked me in the dining hall he'd asked me.


Emily was put into the situation of forced slavery because Sculpt/Logan kidnapped her and forced her to be there. Even if she'd agreed to have public sex to keep herself alive, she was still FORCED to do so by being put into the situation against her will.

I went to slap him again, but this time he caught my wrist.
"Once, I'll take. Not twice."


The...fuck? Two years later, Emily is still terrified from what Logan did to her and allowed to have done to her. He deserved to have his ass beat over and over, and he should've taken it like a man if he wanted her forgiveness. A real alpha male would humble himself and accept a second slap in exchange for the emotional, sexual, and physical abuse which had been done because of him.

"You owe him-"


No, Emily doesn't owe Logan shit. Even if he had risked his life ten times over to save her - if she doesn't want to talk to him ever again, she SHOULDN'T HAVE TO. Why do none of the characters in this book seem to get that? Even her own friends never validated her experience. 

I had no right to hate him, and I had.


Sigh. She just...doesn't...get...it.

All sweet was out; hot and scary with a teaspoon of sweet was in.


This type of thinking bugs the hell out of me. Why, you ask? Because in this book, scary actually means scary. Even though I like my "dangerous" heroes (any man who can and will defend his woman is a huge turn-on for me), can we get out of the damn mindset that sweet is somehow "lesser?" I didn't expect a nice guy in this book because of the content, but can we quit romanticizing crap behavior and praise the beta males, the nice males, and the non-asshole alphas? Oh wait, to praise them would mean we'd have to find them. The "non-jerk guys are unicorns" rant will have to wait for another time. 

Twenty Missed Calls.


Most people would consider anything more than a couple of calls excessive and creepy.


*** Three strikes and you're out, right?

Not quite...in this game, there were a couple of foul balls in-between those strikes.

Lack of editing : or why good indie authors cry when everyone else ruins it for them. I make typos constantly, use commas excessively, and fail at grammar (my own reviews make me cringe sometimes). So IF I'M NOTICING problems, we're talking about serious editing issues here.

His steal tone whispered in my ear. *What is he stealing?

My popsicle and I was melting into him further and further. *If your head is hurting, know that you are not alone. 

I started to pull away and he groaned then his arm tightened around me. *Awkward sentence structure, this is. Yes, I Yoda'd that bitch.

...and if he gave it to me physically than I'd take it. *You'd take it instead of what? 

I knelt on the floor my heat thumping erratically at his unexpected early appearance. *I spot two things that are off with this sentence. Do you?

"If you ever want to... Shit, Emily." *If you ever want to shit, Emily? Uh, ew. 

He knew Emily. *Who knew Emily? I think when you're speaking to Emily about something that another person knew, you might mean : He knew, Emily.

(for the record, that is not my spelling of punctuation)

 

It's really too bad that a sliver of potential was wasted this badly...

The first 20% of this book was good. I'm not even kidding. Yeah, I'd read the reviews comparing Torn From You to Captive in the Dark, and I do agree that there was something about the writing style which read like a poor man's Captive. But I liked what I was reading - until the train went off the rails. WhileCaptive certainly had some flaws, where it worked was in the interpretation of the male lead. Caleb in Captive was even more disturbed than Logan was, but the readers were not shoveled a bunch of bull about how he changed into a romantic lead further into the story. Logan didn't want to hurt Emily - okay, I get that he was forced - but the point is that he DID. So when the rest of the book took a turn into him being possessive instead of apologetic, it left a sour taste in my mouth. Leave that shit for the bedroom. Tie her up, tie her down, spank her ass, whatever. The second I saw that he wasn't on his knees begging over and over for forgiveness (or walking the hell away like a decent human being would do), he lost all credibility with me. Instead, I got to listen to Emily wax poetic about how her feelings for Logan were "soul gripping." We went from an interesting and twisted story to an obsessive and creepy love story.

I just realized that I need to wrap things up. Sorry for the abrupt "I'm done." This review is long enough. I am going to quit looking at my notes, or we'll be here another hour. I'll leave you with one last WTF? tidbit.

Sadly, the inner goddess has been replaced by children's toys. Emily has legos in her head. I still don't get that. Apparently, legos can be built and knocked down inside of her brain. Yes, it does appear as strange as it seems.

Fin. 

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review 2014-01-12 02:44
A is for All Over the Place
A is for Alpha Male - Laurel Ulen Curtis

Talk about a complete flip from the last book that I read. With the last book, I delved into the first couple of chapters assuming that I'd love the book and ended up not really liking it. With this book, I was a couple of chapters in and ready to DNF the thing. I figured if I kept reading, I'd end up giving out a big fat 1 star rating. The first few chapters were embarrassingly awful. It took me a while to warm up to the story because of it.

There were two immediate "uh oh" flags :

1. Kristen Ashley fangirling. Uh...is this really worth basing a book on? I don't think so. 

2. A mother effing "perfect guy" list. This is one of the biggest flaws with romance novel expectations in general - the idea that these "larger than life" heroes are going to somehow transfer well to the real world. Newsflash : in real life, most of the leading book men would be HORRIBLE partners.

Anyway, back to the book...to my surprise, after I got past my frustration with the list, I realized that I had started laughing. The humor is very spazzy and all over the place, similar to The Unidentified Redhead. But I liked how the characters eventually started to discount the list that they'd made for themselves. Idiocy gave way to common sense. And hijinx ensued.

"You jedi-alpha-mind-tricked me!"


Sure, there were several eye rolling moments...why anyone would add "uses nicknames" to their list as a GOOD thing, I don't know. A cute term of endearment is fine, but I actually hate the use of terms like baby and daddy (yeah, KA actually used daddy in a book *shudder*). I guess to each his own. But it's not for me. I'd rather a couple have a term of endearment which comes from their own personal story (and not overuse the darn nickname) than throw out a generic 'babe' all over the place. While I think "Hales" and "Danno" were kind of dumb nicknames, at least it was personal, so I'm only halfway weirded out by those. 

I couldn't get over the main character referring to her mom as Allison instead of mom. When she was speaking to her mom, it was mommalicious or mammajamma (again, ridiculously unnecessary), but when she was narrating in her head, she switched to the name Allison. At first, it was almost confusing, as if her mom were two different characters. When I think of my mom, she's mom, not her name. If I were to narrate a book with her in it, I would assume my audience would be okay with me calling her mom.

Moms before Doms.


But for what it was...the story was cute, if sort of one-note (the road trip was almost pointless because the only good part of the story involved Hayley and Dan). Danny was a great guy and the pairing was a fun one. 

"Listen, nobody out smartass-es me, so you're going to have to turn it down a few fucking notches."


It's nothing to write home about, but..if you're looking for a simple love story with several cute (if spazzy) and laughable moments, you might find yourself having fun with this book. 

I wasn't exactly an employee of Small Plastic Penis Paraphernalia Enterprises.


Although, I don't think I'm going to read Allison's (the mom) book. While I found Hayley to be a comical firecracker, her mom was kind of spacey and odd. 

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