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review 2017-07-19 01:35
Book Review: Not Safe For Work by L.A. Witt
Not Safe For Work - L.A. Witt
I snagged this when the author offered it for free a little while back, and devoured it as soon as I got a chance.

It exceeded my expectations!!

Now, I know LA Witt can write the sexy times, and I know that she will always, always, always make sure that her BDSM novels make it very clear indeed that while the Dom is in charge, the sub holds all the power. She takes the time to weave explanations about the lifestyle seamlessly into her books, and I cannot thank her enough for continuing to educate me and others what BDSM is really all about.

What pushed this book into 5 star territory though was the romance. Never mind the holy hot boysecks, what really impressed me here was the author's ability to convey how her characters felt, through their words and actions. She showed me their emotions, their fears, their joy - she didn't tell me. Told entirely from Jon's POV, we don't hear from Rick directly, but his character was well fleshed out just the same, and I felt a connection to him just as much as I connected with Jon.

Jon and Rick both have struggles to overcome, and Jon often carried a lot of weight on his shoulders (work issues, and paying for his kids' college education), but Rick was always supportive and understanding.

I loved every single minute I spend reading this book, cursing when work interfered, because I needed to keep reading, dammit, and follow Rick and Jon through their first realization that their kinks match up, through growing closer, through realizing that what they have is, while unexpected, exactly what they both need, and through the rough parts where they falter and stumble and nearly crash and burn.

This book is everything I could hope for in a romance novel. The conflict was exterior to the relationship, and I ranted out loud when Jon's employer did that thing they did, and I was enraged when Jon... no, you read this for yourself. 

Extra kudos for not having an evil ex-wife (Jon's ex-wife lives with him for financial reasons, and they are good friends, supportive of each other), and for having a wonderful supporting cast in Jon's co-workers that often made me laugh out loud. 

If you like your romance a bit on the kinky side (it's not overwhelmingly kinky, to be honest, and Rick is not a pain slut or a slave, and Jon isn't a sadist), then I would highly recommend you give this book a try. 

I loved it.
 
 

 

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review 2016-07-18 14:59
Release Day ARC Review: Endings And Beginnings ( Collars & Cuffs #8) by K.C. Wells and Parker Williams
Endings and Beginnings - K.C. Wells,Parker Williams

It's always bittersweet, when a beloved series comes to an end. It's especially bittersweet when said series end captures all the perfection from its previous books, and leaves the reader, while sad that it's over, happy that it happened.

Such is the case with Endings and Beginnings, the 8th and final book in the Collars & Cuffs series, set in and around a BDSM club in Manchester, England.

The two authors did a fantabulous job letting me reminisce about the previous books, in which we met Leo and Alex, Thomas and Peter, Ben and Scott, Eli and Jared, Dorian and Alan (my favorite book), Andrew and Gareth, Damian and Jeff, and then introduced me to Darren and JJ.

Darren is the owner of the beauty salon where Peter had his "rebirth", and ever since that moment, he's been intrigued with the intimacy and connection he saw between Thomas and Peter. He wants that for himself, but doesn't quite know how to get it. His last relationship was unfulfilling, and while he knows what he needs, he's unsure of whether there is someone who could be his counterpart.

JJ is a new bartender at Collars & Cuffs, and he has a secret. No, I'm not going to reveal that here - you read this for yourself and find out. Let it suffice that when I saw the words on the page, my mouth was hanging wide open and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. Yes, the authors went there. And it was perfect, because it shows that evil has far-reaching consequences. JJ sees the connections between the long-time couples at the club, and this has him questioning all kinds of things.

So Darren seeks what Thomas and Peter have, and JJ seeks something else. And then their paths cross...

There's a wedding, there's Peter growing by leaps and bounds, there's a nasty wanna-be reporter trying to fuck things up, there's holy hot boysecks, Batman, and there's love, so much love. That, to me, is the underlying message in each of these books, aside from clearly and effortlessly explaining most if not all aspects and varieties of BDSM - that love and respect are at the core of these relationships. Love is what binds these men more than ropes or cuffs ever could.

I adored the two main characters for this book much like I adored the main characters in previous books, and as we get to revisit with them all, none of them ever lose their voices they've been given throughout the series. It was wonderful to see Alex and Leo on screen, and check in with Dorian and Alan, as well as Thomas and Peter and Eli and Jared. Changes are coming for some of them, and a beloved couple is given a wonderful opportunity to grow and find a new home.

I had a great time watching Darren and JJ grow close, with Darren instinctively understanding how skittish JJ was and adjusting his pursuit of the young man accordingly.

JJ has some hard lessons to learn, one of which is that not all is what it seems, and the other one is that pride comes before the fall. And that maybe he was wrong all along.

This was a fitting ending to a great series, and while I'm sad that it's over, I am able to re-read these books any time I want to. And I will. Each one is written with such emotion that I can't help but form a connection with the characters, smile and laugh and cry and fear with them. There's no pointless drama - each step forward and each step back has a purpose - and the characters communicate (well, for the most part) with each other, and when they don't, they quickly realize that they need to if they want the relationship to succeed.

Even though not all eight books are collabs between KC Wells and Parker Williams, the two authors' writing styles mesh seamlessly, and they gave us a magnificent send-off to this series.

I hope they will write more books together in the future, even if those aren't about Collars & Cuffs. Maybe as the title seems to indicate, this is only the beginning to a prolific series of books we may look forward to in the future.


** I received a free copy of this book from one of the authors. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2016-03-30 01:26
ARC Review: Ben by J.P. Barnaby
Ben (A Survivor Story Book 2) - J.P. Barnaby

When I saw this book being offered as an ARC, I hesitated. And then I messaged the author on FB to ask her whether my heart could take it. She assured me I'd be fine.

See, I'm not one for a lot of angst. Those books are few and far between, usually, and I'd heard of this book (as it's a second edition, with a revised title), and the others in this series as being very angsty. Full of heartache and pain.

But I trusted JP Barnaby when she said I could handle this one.

So I asked the publisher for a copy. I don't regret it. I don't regret having read this book, despite how it hurt my heart.

Ben Martin's pain is evident from the start. Something horrible happened to his sister, something for which he blames himself to this day, and the only thing that keeps him mostly sane is his submission, the pain he receives at the hands of his Dom, Kage.

Ben lives with his friend, Jude Archer, who's been in love with Ben for years, but who doesn't know the extent of what Ben does with his Dom. But then Ben's world comes to a crashing halt, when he loses the one thing that keeps him tethered to his sanity.

I cried a lot while reading this book, and I know that I won't be able to read its predecessor. The author pulls no punches with this story, and doesn't hold back from delving deeply into Ben's fractured heart, showing her readers with each word how much this man is suffering. The words flow, and they kept me glued to the pages, not only for the intense descriptions of the BDSM scenes, but also for the parts that put Jude front and center, Jude, who gives up pieces of himself to help the man he loves.

My niggle with this book is the ending - it felt rushed, as if we skipped over important parts. Yes, I got the happy ending I wanted, the ending I needed Ben and Jude to have, but I missed out on seeing their growth. Seeing how they moved up from that massive step Jude took, seeing how Ben reconciles with his parents, how he learns to accept forgiveness and forgive himself. I would have liked to see that.

Still, that's my hang-up, I suppose, and it shouldn't stop you from reading this book. There is growth, after all, in Ben and in Jude, and even Ben's old Dom can finally see Ben for the treasure he is, the one he gave up all to easily. Stupid Dom.

The author, though never preachy with her words, also makes it very clear that she knows what she's talking about when she writes about BDSM, about the scenes, about the roles of Dom and sub, the nuances in every relationship, and that the first rule of any BDSM relationship is that it's sane, safe, and consensual.

I liked that we didn't just get to see the inner workings of Ben, but also Jude's struggles as he finds himself in the role of a Dom to Ben, even as he hates himself for liking it. I think that's probably the biggest hurdle Jude had to overcome in his journey, and the one that held him back for most of it.

What also stood out was the difference between Kage and Jude when it came to caring for Ben. Kage apparently only saw Ben as a toy for himself, as someone to play with, have scenes with, providing the required aftercare as almost a chore, whereas Jude's primary thought was FOR Ben, applying care because he loved him, not because it was a requirement. Jude did what he did for Ben, unlike Kage, who came across as a selfish asshole.

I smiled evilly when Kage gets put in his place - he deserved it. I cheered for Jude. And even more so for Ben, who learns and finally sees the difference too.

This is not a fluffy romance, not even close. But it is a love story.



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

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review 2015-12-23 01:32
ARC Review: Dom Of Ages by K.C. Wells and Parker Williams
Dom of Ages (Collars and Cuffs Book 7) - K.C. Wells,Parker Williams
This is the 7th book in the Collars & Cuffs series.

The book opens with Jarod saying goodbye to his Master at the airport, when Master is leaving for a flight to NYC. Jarod immediately comes off as someone who needs to serve, needs the guidance of the older man. They've been together for a very, very long time - twenty-four years.

Tragedy strikes, and Jarod is lost. My heart broke for him from the start - it was so sad to watch him clean the house they shared, only to clean it again because he had nothing better to do. No direction. No one to serve.

And at fifty, Jarod doesn't feel like trying again, like putting himself out there. When he does try, he is ridiculed and laughed at by subs and Doms alike, because the club that he visits isn't really a true BDSM club, but people playing at the life style.

Except for Eli who notices Jarod kneeling, who sees that everything about Jarod simply screams submission and the need to serve. Eli takes Jarod home, and their story begins.

Initially, I didn't like Eli very much. He's not a good Dom, only thinking about his own desires, instead of what his sub wants and needs, and even when his friend Ben (from book three, who wasn't a good Dom himself at the time) tells him and warns him, Eli doesn't quite get it. Oh, he agrees with Ben, and promises to fix things, but he doesn't.

It all comes to a head early into the relationship, when Eli decides that he wants to show off his perfect submissive at the same club where he picked him up. Jarod is completely humiliated and flees in shame.

I was on the edge of my seat, with hot tears in my eyes, watching the remainder of that scene unfold.

At least, Eli is awake now, and begins to act like a Dom instead of a spoiled brat, which leads him to Collars & Cuffs. The club is a perfect fit, not only for him, but also for Jarod, who blossoms with the friendships he finds there (Alec, Scott, Peter, Darian - they all play a role here), and begins to believe that he might be worthy after all.

As always, the feeling of accurate descriptions of the lifestyle is what makes this series so outstanding, and it is ever clear that the authors did their homework yet again. The emotions are plentiful in this book as in many of the others, and I cried and rejoiced with Jarod through tragedy and triumph. His character, so shy and so grateful for whatever he's given, so needy in his desire to serve his Sir, his strength (because if you think subs are weak, you're way off), and his perseverance - his entire characterization - are what made this book.

Eli has a lot to learn as a Dom, and learn, he surely does. A very satisfying HEA notwithstanding, what made this book so wonderful is the journey these two men take.

I'm looking forward to the next (and apparently last) one in this series.


** I received a free copy of this book from one of its authors. A positive review was not promised in return. **
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review 2015-08-18 01:56
ARC Review: Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan
Nowhere Ranch - Heidi Cullinan

 

I read this book twice, because once wasn't enough. High on the kinky parts, taking me out of my comfort zone, it still is a grand romance, and that's what I loved.

Roe Davis is a ranch hand who never stays long in the same place. Running since he got out of prison, after being outed by his snooping mother and basically kicked out of the family for being gay, he's built up the walls mile high, and there ain't nobody getting in.

When he takes a job at Nowhere Ranch in Nebraska, he plans much the same as he has been doing - stay for a while, and then move on.

Nowhere Ranch is owned by Travis Loving, older than Roe, who's been married and divorced. Roe's gaydar is broken, so it comes as a huge surprise when he stumbles across Travis in a gay bar, three hours away.

 

Incidentally, their kinky streaks line up really well, so they spend a night in Travis' hotel room, after figuring out they're both after the same thing.

 

Roe likes to be used, you see, likes it rough, and Travis likes to dish out that particular kind of sex. Offering to have at it again at home, saving themselves the drive, it still takes Roe quite some time before need outweighs the rule that doing the boss is bad. He wants to run, but can't, not only because he promised Travis that he wouldn't but also - and this is the bigger part - because Travis gives Roe that what he never had before.

 

Acceptance.

 

Initially, sex is all they share. But there are cracks in Roe's wall, and love always finds a way.

 

This story is told entirely from Roe's limited 1st person POV, so we don't get a whole lot of insight into what drives Travis, but there's sufficient information in the dialogue and in Roe's somewhat unreliable narration to get a fairly clear picture.

 

They are exceptionally well suited to each other, each providing exactly what the other needs and seeks, and they don't stand a chance against love. It creeps in quietly, softly, without giving notice, until Roe finds it bursting out of him.

 

While Travis may struggle at first to figure out how to pursue Roe without making him run, he figures it out eventually, and what it comes down to again and again is simply accepting Roe for who he is, letting Roe lean on him, and making the voices in his head stop.

 

There are some rough times while they find their footing, but the overall lesson here is love.

 

Super kinky, yes, but super intense and emotional too. Hot, sweaty, and dirty, but this book is what Heidi does best - she gives you the holy hot boysex, Batman, and before you know what's happening, she's drawn you in, made you love the characters, and then she gives them exactly what they need. Just when your eyes are bugging out because, HOLY CRAP, they're doing what? - she reels you back in with a scene that is as filthy as it is emotional. It's masterful, I tell you!

 

Loved the supporting cast at the ranch, especially Haley, but didn't care so much for Roe's family, even if they do come around at the end. Hated Kayla and Pastor Tim, and cheered when they got the tongue-lashing they deserved.

 

The book raises some heavy themes too - homophobia, religious nutcases, hate and bigotry. I may have sniffled a few times, especially when the voices in Roe's head get too loud, when he's convinced he's nothing but crap, when he thinks he doesn't deserve love.

 

The narration is realistic, fitting the rough, gruff Roe, and the character took shape before my eyes. It flows well, with believable dialogue and organic growth, and while this may have been kinkier than most of the books I read, the romance between these two hardened men is what made this such a joy to read.


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

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