Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: Bearing It

Bearing It
Bearing It by Zenina Masters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Addicted to this series, I've now gone back to find some of the earlier ones to see how they are. They are just as good as the later books. Ms. Masters is consistent in delivering sweet romances between shifters. In this one, another unlikely pairing occurs. This time it is between a bear and an eagle.

With some of these earlier books, a reader learns about Crossroads and how this world came to be. The Crossroad rules aren't fully written yet. The people working at Crossroads aren't all there yet. In Bearing it, Fred is a very strong shifting bear. Predictably, she is a bee keeper who owns a large berry farm. Fred's occupation is what makes her sweet for me. I like how she provides a safe haven to shifters going through their first change.

Usually, in these sweet romances, the male and female meet, fall in love and mate. This one is a bit different as Fred accidentally hurts Hektor who isn't as brutally strong. He's an eagle more likely to soar in the air rather than lumbering through the forest. At first glance, these two aren't a match because even their connections with their families are different. Ms. Master still brings them together in a way that makes sense. It's a honey sweet story with a lovely pairing. Recommended for paranormal romance lovers who enjoy shifter soulmates.

*provided by Manic Readers
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      Bearing It (Shifting Crossroads, #6)



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad by Karin Tabke

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Living up to a parent's ideal is not easy. When a person's entire life goals are laid out for them by their father, it could go one way or the other. They either purposely fail or die trying to meet expectations. In Breaking Bad, Stevie Cavanaugh is the dutiful daughter. The book sums her up in the very beginning.

A genius, hot as hell, and she had balls. The chick trifecta. -- (loc. 50-51)

Stevie's goal in life is to be either a sheriff or the chief of police. She is given no other choice by her father. It is in their bloodline and she isn't going to break it now, even if she is only a female. As her father painfully taught her, she needs to be the best.

It had been drilled into her that as a woman she would have to work twice as hard for half the respect a man earned just by having a dick. (loc. 76-77)

This book is a hard read for me. I'm a huge fan of Ms. Tabke. Her books are so well written. This one is no less. Her insights into law enforcement agencies is always an educational fun time. What bugged me about this story is Jake. Jake Thornton taught Stevie when she was in the academy. After she graduated top of her class, he finally takes the plunge and dates her. Instead of dating her, he fucks her for a one time stand, blows her mind through sexual domination and then dumps and runs. I hate Jake. Really, I do. I don't like him and his excuses are pathetic. I don't understand why Stevie still pines after him. I realize it's hard to get over the first lover, but seriously, she needs a different guy.

Throughout this story, Jake is an asshat. Seriously. He behaves in totally inappropriate ways and on top of it, he breaks Stevie's heart again. It's all about Jake - Jake's poor past. Boo hoo hoo. Jake's inability to commit. Wah wah. Even at the end, I'm not impressed with this jerk. Stevie can do so much better. She deserves better than Jake. This is the first time I've read a Ms. Tabke book where I loathed the guy. I can understand his sexual appeal, but he's not a good dominant. He's an abuser. He's the kind of guy we warn newbies away from because of his own "mental" issues which lay unresolved. He can't take care of a submissive well, he totally crosses the line at work and thinks it's okay. He's the asshole who give sexual dominants a bad name. One could say his intents are good. I'd say, bullshit. He actions speak louder than words. His intent behind his actions are selfish. I could go on about how despicable I find Jake.

The character development in this book is good. Both are well written and the conflict in this story is good too. It's moving and I feel very vested in both the relationship conflict and the outcome of the serial murder case. The villain while heinous is written in a way which is shocking understandable. I did feel a bit of sympathy for him with what he suffered yet his choices and actions I wouldn't ever condone. I do understand why he did it.

This book is a 3.5 star and not a 4 because I couldn't get over Jake. This is a lovely story and recommended for kinky readers who enjoy a tough as nails heroine.

*provided by NetGalley

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      Breaking Bad (Bad Boys of the Bay #1)



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Cast in Flame

Cast in Flame
Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dragons, magic, warriors and psychopaths in a complicated world of intrigue and politics - welcome to the world of Ms. Sagara. This series is phenomenal. Ms. Sagara is hands down one of the best writers of our time. The world she creates is intricate. Every single book builds upon the previous. Her books must be read in order and usually best one right after another. If too much time goes by between reading of the books, it may be a bit hard for a reader to catch back up to speed. In Cast of Flame, Kaylin once again finds herself in the middle of trouble. Between Teela's childhood friends, a dragon queen roommate and an angry dragon king, which one will end Kaylin first?

The children who returned with Kaylin from the West March, what have they become? What is it about them which disturbs the Ancients as well as the Devourer? How are they awakening the avatar of buildings? More buildings are answering their calls and it may not be a good thing. This is because one of them is Castle Nightshade and it no longer wants to listen to Nightshade. While Kaylin is trying to help Teela's friends adjust to life in the outside world, she's also trying to find a new home. Feeling uncomfortable in the Dragon Palace, she tries to find a new place of her own. Unfortunately, Kaylin will have a roommate who requires a level of security and higher creature comforts she cannot afford. Luckily for Kaylin, there is an old house which may adjust to her needs.

Whilst this series moves very slowly with new information stingily revealed in each book, the details provided is robust and colourful. The reader learns more about the dragon queen and how she's survived in her host world. Returning back to her home world with refugees is harder than she thought. They are displaced and try to integrating into a different society than she left; many disagreements occurs. The title of this book references flame when it should really focus on negotiation. Kaylin is constantly pulled between all her different relationship connections to smooth over a misunderstanding. She spends so much time helping others, she is worn out. What is also distressing is how Kaylin handles all the troubles. She continues to run in head first without thought. She is all instinct and no planning. She also runs on fumes as she isn't rested and makes poor choices. She barely survives each new conflict.

What is frustrating about this series is the new players who are a variation of the same theme. It feels as if we have no resolution. What is the end game? Are we trying to find the God in this world and how all the creatures afterwards were created? Are we going to finally understand what the Chosen is supposed to do? Will these threads finally come together into a breathtaking tapestry, presenting a clear portrait of this complex world? More importantly, who will Kaylin finally succumb to for a lover? Will she be owned by Nightshade - body, mind and soul?

I do wonder how much longer this series will continue. I also wish for Nightshade to become once again more forceful, possessive and showing off his "ownership" of Kaylin. Nightshade is more of a tiger with all his fangs pulled out and his claws removed. The pussycat Nightshade of this book is no match for the earlier intimidating one. The bit of fear Nightshade used to elicits from Kaylin added a lovely undercurrent of sexual tension which is now sadly missing. Still, I am thoroughly addicted to this series and Ms. Sagara's writing style. I can't wait for the next book. Recommended for high fantasy readers who enjoy high drama.

*provided by NetGalley

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      Cast in Flame (Chronicles of Elantra, #10)



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Bliss

Bliss by Lisa Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clockwork Orange meets Stepford Wives with a m/m twist. Ms. Henry is a favourite author of mine. She writes out of the box. When she teams up with Ms. Belleau, magic happens. In Beulah, the population is blissfully ignorant of how their humanitarian rehabilitation works. The guiding principle of Beulah is to take ownership of one's mistakes and make a correction. Those who go through this program demonstrate their remorse for committing a crime and after they do their time to make it up to the person they transgressed against, all is forgiven. This lovely city-state contains no crime and everyone lives in similar homes so there are no haves and have nots. There isn't even any poverty with hunger. Is this utopia or what? Jaded readers like me won't believe in this mythical place. It all falls apart when crime from an outsider is committed.

Tate Patterson commits a simple assault crime. His punishment is seven year serving the person he hurt, Rory James. Rory is from the same outside city as Tate - Tophet. Rory doesn't understand how this restitution works and he's not too interested in these "Rezzies". Why would anyone want a rezzie who hurt them to be under foot all the time? Mr. Lowell, Rory's boss, and a person of influence in Beulah, will show Rory the ropes. Ropes are literally involved.

Rezzies are treated as sex slaves by many "owners". They have no free will and they must do whatever their owner orders. In addition, they must always present a happy façade - hence Bliss. The way rezzies are controlled is a bit of far-fetched sci-fi with a perverted flavour. When a group of people are able to control another through mind-control, what kind of inhuman acts could occur? How much abuse could occur? Ms. Henry and Ms. Belleau pen a love piece of corruption through dehumanization. Surprisingly, they only add a couple of darker sexual torture scenes. For the most part, they gloss over the depravities and tease a deviant reader with possible sexual violations behind closed doors. For those who enjoy the darker sexual slavery themes, this is one to whet the appetite. It's a bit of foreplay which a reader may yearn for edited taboo scenes. Perhaps the duo authors will grace devoted fans with the torments of Aaron and Tate in an outtakes novella.

What I really enjoyed about this story is the debate between right and wrong. The theory behind the rehabilitation is excellent. There are no jails and people aren't wasting money to support criminals who will not be able to re-enter into society as productive members. Instead, this program helps people to learn their lesson and pay their time. What is problematic is the execution of it. The risk of abuse is so high that it's a concept which will never work. Because there will always be a group of individuals who will use it for their own selfish desires and satisfactions. Where is the argument then? What is the cost of this kind of abuse? When one weighs it against the community as a whole, perhaps it is allowable. Because if jails are used instead, what will happen to these criminals? What other impacts will there be to the society? Will there be more crime? Will there be more poverty? The society as a whole seems to take a step back when the rehabilitation system is examined.

This story may be predictable, but it still reads smooth and sexy. The non-con sex is delicious. The characters, Tate and Rory are well designed. The world building is just right to set the mood. The evil villain in this story is devilish good and makes it an erotic read. My only wish is for more sexual violations. A bit more medical kink scenes would kick up the sexual heat. Still, the authors did an excellent job in their balance of sex and plot. If they added as much debauchery as I'd prefer, this story may end up as a porn without a plot. Instead, this is a provocative tale of how the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Recommended for kinky m/m readers who enjoy speculative fiction with sexual slavery.

*provided by NetGalley

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Brick by Brick

Brick by Brick
Brick by Brick by Maryn Blackburn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Romance Review

Ménage with a triad where it's m/m/f is truly delicious. Sometimes, one person gets left out and when it's the woman, there is hell to pay.

Natalie and James are a happily married couple who are doing their best to get by. James is a customized bricklayer who is putting in long hours to keep his company afloat. Natalie is a good housewife who takes care of her husband.

The two of them meet movie star Gage and their life turns upside down. Both of them are attracted to him and he wants them just as much. Sometimes, too much isn't a good thing. The threesome starts out a bit awkward and quickly goes into a honeymoon phase. Before this new relationship can bloom, it withers as Gage never calls Natalie and James back. To bring it back into a second bloom is difficult.

Ms. Blackburn does a good job of showing the pitfalls of a threesome. She also show how things fall apart as well as how a happy marriage can tear apart. Basically, jealousy will eat a person through.

I'm honestly mixed about this story. I liked the ménage. The sex between the men is very hot. The sex with Natalie is not so hot. I think the problem for me in this book is that Natalie is too down on her body. She feels as if she is a 5 and both her husband and their lover are 10. She competes with Gage for her husband's sexual attention and it makes her look needy and petty. She also behaves in some ways which I categorizes as crazy woman logic. At the end of the story, I didn't like her and really felt the threesome should have ended and have Gage drive off into the sunset with James. The two of them have amazing chemistry. Natalie thrown in should have kicked the heat up. Instead, she brings it down and is kind of a dud.

The emotional baggage of this story is also a bit of a drag. Characters are flawed and that's okay. The way these three are designed, it makes them all seem shallow and insecure. When I'm not as fond of the characters, it makes for a difficult read. The sex between Gage and James carried the book. Recommended for ménage lovers who enjoy watching men getting rough with each other.

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      Brick by Brick



Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Show Me, Baby: 1001 Dark Nights

Show Me, Baby: 1001 Dark Nights
Show Me, Baby: 1001 Dark Nights by Cherise Sinclair

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Naughty girls need love just like strong dominants need support. In Show Me Baby, Rainie is one of the last submissive in training left standing. With each of the other submissives finding a permanent dominant, Rainie is feeling a bit lonely. Sexy Jake is one of the few single dominants. Most of the previously single Shadowlands Masters now have their chosen submissive. When Z mentions something about Rainie's issue as a submissive, Jake is the man to take her in hand.

For those who want a sweet romance, this is the story to read. Jake is Rainie's knight in shining armor. He defends her and protects her. His greatest strength is also his downfall. Ms. Sinclair does an excellent job of creating a character flaw in Jake, making him more real. She does the same with Rainie. Both characters are charming and loveable. This makes for a pleasurable read because the reader doesn't want to keep slapping one of the characters upside the head.

Rainie's history is not ideal. What is frustrating about her situation is how real to life it can be. The way people are judgmental and hold Rainie's past against her is disgusting and pathetic. For someone like Rainie who is a people pleaser, it's even more hurtful and damaging. The shallow vanity several minor characters in this story exhibit is disgusting and explains Rainie's desire to get away and start fresh.

The surprising twist is Jake's issue. It just goes to show, every story has two sides. Jake's last submissive chose her career of him. When she returns for a visit and explains to him about her decision, he's shocked and begins to understand how his actions come across. Ms. Sinclair uses this to highlight how important open communication is in a relationship. Communication is key in a relationship regardless of the vanilla or kinky lifestyle.

The BDSM in the story is delightful as always. Ms. Sinclair does show the better and more romantic side of BDSM. She also makes good points about BDSM which may give those just starting into the lifestyle more insight.

He wouldn’t allow disobedience and really would enforce his rules. The knowledge was…devastatingly erotic. (pg. 71)

This one line captures a concept many who are just joining into the lifestyle don't grasp immediately. Enforcing the rules with discipline be it physical or not, it's comforting and erotic. Why? Because for submissives, it indicates the dominant cares. There is something about a dominant holding me accountable which makes me weak in the knees and a wave of submissive desire radiates through my body from the center out. Ms. Sinclair shows this through Rainie in this book. This I can relate to and thoroughly enjoy.

The relationships between the friends in this story also makes it a lovely read. How they support each other. How they love each other. And most importantly, how they stick up and defend each other which is a blast to read. This is an altogether sweet romance and recommended for kinky readers who love a happily ever after.

*provided by BDSM Book Reviews

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      Show Me, Baby: 1001 Dark Nights (Masters of the Shadowlands, #9)



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: Give and Take

Give and Take
Give and Take by Kira Stone

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Romance Review

Sleeping with the enemy is hotter when it's a threesome.

Hannah Baird is an uptight prosecutor who will do everything she can to make those who break the law pay. She sees everything as either black or white. The person who bugs her beyond her ability to stomach is Dennis Rafferty. He defends the slimy jerks who believe a simple slap on the wrist is fine for harassing and sexually violating others. When they are on opposing sides, Hannah is determined to win the case.

This story is a bit odd. Hannah is not a particularly likeable character. She's the stereotypical ball-busting woman who carries a huge chip on her shoulder. In addition, she's sexually deprived. The only thing close to her having sex is the stick up her ass making her snippy and rude. The answer to changing her to something human comes from Dennis, the criminal defender. He makes her take a step back and see more than just right versus wrong.

The underlying message to this story doesn't work for me. Yes, this is fantasy. Yes, this is fiction. It's not supposed to be taken so seriously. Here's why I found the story to be just okay. The interplay between the characters felt forced. While Hannah became a more relaxed person, the method was strange. Not only this, but a ménage with an established loving m/m couple didn't make sense. The set-up for the ménage is there, yet the connection and desire Dennis possesses for Hannah is not believable. This is really what broke the story for me.

From a sexual tension, it worked fine. The masseuse's extended foreplay plus the nifty futuristic massage table were a nice touch. Where do I make an appointment at this spa? Does my medical benefits cover this therapeutic stress relief? I think it qualifies.

Overall, this story's erotic content is stronger than the plot. For ménage lovers who have a kink for erotic massages.

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      Give and Take