Friday, August 1, 2014

Review: Shock & Awe

Shock & Awe
Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Romance Review

Spinning off of the Cut & Run series is Nick O'Flaherty's story. Nick is Ty's best friend since they started the military together. This series kicks off right after Touch & Geaux and before Ball & Chain. It's more than just Nick in this story. One of his other BFF, Kelly Abbott, is also featured.

This story is more about Nick and Kelly coming together. It's recommended to read this story before reading Ball & Chain. Kelly is recovering from a bullet wound while Nick is taking care of him. It's beautiful to see two men who genuinely care for each other interact. While Nick is doing what he always does, watching out for his best friends, Kelly is doing everything he can to make Nick uncomfortable.

The banter between the two men is amusing. Nick who usually comes off as decisive is now a shy maiden. He keeps trying to avoid any type of sexual intimacy with Kelly. This is understandable since he's been burned once before when he confessed his attraction to Ty. Still, Kelly persists with his cute taunting manner.

"I'm not asking you to buy the milk, O'Flaherty, I just want you to grope the cow," Kelly said, trying to hide a sly smile by biting his lip. (pg. 48)

The romance in this story is sweet and well played out. It shows a man questioning his sexual preference to experimenting and then all out jumping of his best friend. The progress is adorable to watch. Kelly goes from zero to sixty in his man-on-man love quest. Nick is just along for the ride.

While the erotic heat between the two men is hawt, it's the emotional intimacy which makes it so good. Ms. Roux does a great job of showing how this can be more than just a fling. This m/m romance is recommended for readers who enjoy friends-to-lovers themes.

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      Shock & Awe (Sidewinder, #1)



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Bonds of Courage

Bonds of Courage
Bonds of Courage by Lynda Aicher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When worlds collide, does an Ice Queen shatter or will she melt and become something else? Vanessa Delcour splits her life into three distinct quadrants. She keeps her business and personal life completely separate. She splits her personal life down to two sections - those who live in the lifestyle and those who do not. To keep these separate, she actually owns three phones to ensure never will the three meet. It's a taxing job to split a life to this degree. I can personally attest to this which is why I connected with Vanessa so well. I too own separate phones for work and personal and I don't mix the two. Oddly enough, I also separate my vanilla friends from my lifestyle friends, just not to the degree which Vanessa accomplishes in this story.

The ground work Ms. Aicher lays out in this story to generate conflict is well done. There is a reason why Vanessa aka Mistress V keeps others from knowing about her lifestyle. For one, it is a career killer. For most of us in the lifestyle, it is an issue for our job if word were to get out about our "perverse" proclivities. Ms. Aicher takes it another step further by showing why Vanessa keeps her family away from her friends in the lifestyle. This one, is a painful one which a reader guesses pretty early on. It's confirmed later in the story and it's a sad yet all too common a tale.

The conflict in this story is very well done. It comes in the form of a sexy hockey player, Holden Hauke. Hockey players are known to be aggressive and ruthless on the ice. They can also be quite sexually exuberant with the amount of "puck bunnies begging for a fuck" (location 4661 on Kindle). For a macho hockey wanting to bend over and sub for a female dominant, it goes against their alpha male image. Yet this is exactly what Holden needs and wants. He's the catalyst which throws Vanessa's carefully constructed world into utter chaos. For a control freak like Vanessa, this could spell a complete mental meltdown.

Ms. Aicher does a great job of developing the characters and making them human and relatable. She also shows the ups and downs in a BDSM relationship is not too different than a vanilla one. The BDSM in this story is enjoyable and I'm doubly happy to read a femdom one where the female dominant isn't a cruel sadistic bitch determine to emasculate and belittle a male. Sure, Vanessa does possess some hang-ups, but no different than other people. She acknowledges and moves on which is a nice personal growth in this story. Holden also grows in ways unexpected and quite admirable. Essentially, when two people bring out the best in each other and there is a lovely erotic power exchange, it's a pleasure to read. The fact that the relationship isn't perfect and they have to work misunderstands out makes it even better. This story isn't all doom and gloom serious. There are highlights of humour at unexpected times. One of my favourites is near the end when Holden's two close friends guess his true relationship with Vanessa. The scene is worth several re-reads because it's well written and funny. It's also something I can see three jocks saying. This romance is highly recommended to femdom lovers who also want a strong male sub.

*provided by NetGalley

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      Bonds of Courage (Wicked Play, #6)



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Shaman Rises

Shaman Rises
Shaman Rises by C.E. Murphy

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

It's been a brutal year filled with non-stop changes for Joanne Walker. This is the end for her. The Master who has destroyed her life is finally going to confront her directly. Or is he? Joanne experiences even more loss in this book. While she's fighting him directly, he is using her friends and loved ones against her.

Ms. Murphy weaves a tale of heart-break, betrayal and a happily for now. This book leaves a reader feeling unresolved in some aspects while explaining why the Master is the way he is. It's fascinating and when a reader thinks about it, it makes so much sense why he is so aggressive and why he keeps trying to gain a foothold in this world.

Ms. Murphy excels at creating her characters to be fallible. No matter how great their intentions are and how they want to be, there is always a chink in their armor which brings them to their knees. In this story, it is one gut punch after another. Honestly, I'm not sure how Joanne survives the betrayals and reveals. The entire situation seems hopeless. Even when a god comes to help her, it may not be enough to win against the Master.

This story is an exercise in frustration, perseverance and sacrifice. Joanne may perform magic and she may fight as a warrior, yet it isn't enough to save everyone. What I liked about this is the realism. If it was an easy sacrifice, it wouldn't mean as much. Still, the amount of losses Joanne experiences is probably above the threshold for most Americans who love their Disney endings. This story takes on a Grimm-esque flavour. There are definitely many lessons a reader can take away from this book. It's almost too heavy handed at times which may leave a reader feeling battered down and screaming "Uncle" for mercy. For the masochist readers who thrive and revel in emotional trauma as well as brutal physical endurance, this story will be right up their alley.

I must admit, for the majority of this book, the main emotion I felt is hopelessness. I cringed, anticipating the next bad thing to happen. Ms. Murphy never failed me as she continued with the collateral damage. At one point, it was almost easier to urge Joanne to just let it all go and have someone else take the mantle to save the world because it was all too much. Ms. Murphy's rallying of the troops balances this desolation in a way that only strong family and friends bonds can accomplish. It's a beautiful thing and one learns that losing a battle does not equal losing the war. And winning a battle or two doesn't equate to winning the war. In this fast paced fighting, keeping an eye on the end game is what counts. This urban fantasy is recommended to those who enjoy rooting for the underdog.

*provided by NetGalley

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      Shaman Rises (Walker Papers, #9)



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Triple Cross [Triple Trouble 7]

Triple Cross [Triple Trouble 7]
Triple Cross [Triple Trouble 7] by Tymber Dalton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Romance Review

An exploding moose will definitely catch a reader's attention. In this highly anticipated latest installment of the Triple Trouble series, it's all coming together.

Elain is the main featured character. She's learning just how powerful a seer she will become. Frustrating her is the lack of guidance and training manual. She and her two "sisters" still wing it.

Ms. Dalton doesn't disappoint in this book. The plot moves forward. Several open threads from previous stories are brought to closure in this one. Both main and secondary characters are continuously developed and woven into a strong community. This is what makes Ms. Dalton's books so good. There is strong support group through family and friends. In fact, the bonds are so interconnected the friends are considered family. As with any family, there are fights at times because not everyone agrees. Ms. Dalton addresses this in a way that is constructive rather than a dysfunctional reality TV show. Above all, this story is about forgiveness against the violators.

This secondary message in the book is an interesting one. For someone who perpetrated unspeakable acts of violence against Elain and her loved ones, is it possible for her to move on? Or will she become a wrathful executioner meting out her version of justice? She does possess the power for mass destruction. Will she abuse this power? As with any conflict, there are two sides to the story. When the past is revealed, can a reader discount the pain of a villain and still punish them for their evil acts? Or will the reader excuse the aggressor because of how he was raised? Perhaps there is a third option which is a little of both.

Another concept I enjoyed watching play out is if the ends justifies the means. Ms. Dalton finally reveals a secret Ain's hidden from his family for decades. This pain is a festering wound which Seer Elain can now see and understand how it influences his decisions. When there is an opportunity to ease his pain through magical means, is it right to do so? How will this impact others who may have known the secret? This is a new thread which I'm eager to see play out, especially as more of Ain's family members are showing up.

The pace in this book is at a more accommodating rate than the last one. There are good lulls for the reader and Elain to process new information and situations. Still, the book moves at a good pace, making it a page turner. This paranormal erotica is recommended for readers who enjoy all sorts of shifters and magic entwining into a complex tapestry.

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      Triple Cross [Triple Trouble 7]



Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Terran

Terran by Cara Bristol

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The second in the Breeder series is another winner. 3.5 stars page turn with some smexy maledom. Tara Diehl is an alien on the planet Parseon. One of the few humans allowed on this patriarchal world, she needs to constantly stay on guard. Females are just objects for men to sell, trade and abuse. If a female is lucky, they are bred and fed. Tara is an irregularity as one of the only females running her own booth in the human bazar. When she crosses paths with Marlix, it causes her no end of trouble.

Marlix is one of the more feared Alphas in this world. He's known to be ruthless and without heart. He does have a secret which would cause him to possibly lose his standing. In a world where might means right, it is dangerous for him to desire a lush female, let alone a human.

Ms. Bristol's sci-fi/fantasy (SF/F) stories really work for me. I like the world she creates and I like her characters. Her characters while alien are more human to me. The misunderstandings between the males and females is believable if a tad sad. The erotica seems to be toned down a bit in these books. It would be nice to have it kicked up a notch once in a while. The sexual tension in these books are good. The spankings and domestic discipline (DD) theme is also good and enjoyable. Ms. Bristol is creating a winning combo for me since I love both DD and SF/F. For it to be blended so well together, it's a pleasure.

After reading this book, I can't wait to read the next one. I'm eagerly awaiting to see what combination Ms. Bristol will do next and which character will be the main feature. Hopefully, there will be a bit more DD and hot ménage. Recommended for space opera fiends who enjoy a good spanking.

*provided by Manic Readers

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      Terran (Breeder)



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: Relapse

Relapse by Tara Crescent

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another lovely installment of Lisa and Patrick's budding relationship. The title is definitely appropriate as there is a bit of setback between Lisa and Patrick. It's a good one though. This one really shows how Lisa and Patrick are both getting over their past and trying to move on into a healthy relationship.

There is definitely growth exhibited by Lisa which is a relief. It was iffy with the second book because Lisa came across as a typical crazy female. Patrick's hang up is surprising and it's a well written point concerning his "anti-Andrea" focus.

The medical kink in this story is a bit more subdued yet still arousing. For those who enjoy enemas, this is a light one good to erotic-ize enema play. This is a sweet romance which ends in a note making me yearn for more. Next up, will it perhaps be Patrick's parents introduction? From a sexual perspective, can we dare hope for some fisting? *fingers crossed*

The only thing which throws me about this story is flipping from 1st point of view between Lisa and Patrick. I don't like it and it is a personal preference. It makes it more difficult even if they are switching between chapters because Patrick's point of view doesn't differentiate too much from Lisa's. Their voices come across the same. Because of this, I have to constantly remind myself which mind I'm in. Is this Lisa or Patrick? My recommendation is to go either 3rd person or to change how Patrick and Lisa come across. Because their first person voice is almost identical to me. They way they talk, the way they ponder about issues, and they way they relate to their friends is the same.

This kinky story is recommended to BDSM lovers who enjoy the medical scenes.

*provided by the author for an honest review.

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      Relapse (Doctor Dom, #4)



Saturday, July 26, 2014

BDSM Bedtime Stories Season Three Episode Eight ~ Helen Karol

Today we welcome Helen Karol to our Dungeon.  She provided us with a smexy excerpt of Intimate Knowledge. Enjoy the excerpt and then read on with our special interview.

La Crimson Femme: Welcome, Helen!  Thanks for stopping by for a little interview.

Helen Karol: Thanks for inviting me.  It is great to be here.

La Crimson Femme: What inspired you to start writing?  Did you always write spanking stories?

Helen Karol: I started writing really early because I love reading.  My first story was a short romantic ghost story when I was a teenager. Round about the same time I started reading any romance I could get my hands on and I use to flip through them to make sure they had a spanking scene.  Loads of mainstream romances did back when I was a teenager.  LOL I used to notice that the heroine often fell for a bit of a too dominant jerk and there was usually this really nice guy who was her best friend who she never fell for and I always wished she would.  So I decided to write one where she chooses the best friend over the guy who makes her overheat.  It was my first complete novel and a well known romance publisher liked it but wanted me to make too many changes.  Fast forward to 2013 and I released it as Chances&Choices my first eBook.  It is not a spanking story but it does have a number of threats and one actual spank!  I use to write stories as titillation for my partners, but it wasn’t until my Detectives&Desires series that I wrote actual spanking books.  I was an early subscriber to Bethany’s Woodshed who became the publisher Blushing Books.  I use to read the stories and think – I need to write one of these if I ever have the time.

La Crimson Femme: I used to be an early subscriber to Bethany’s Woodshed too!  Back in *mumbles 1996*.  I do agree with you.  Many times, the heroine falls for the asshole domineering jerk.  I’m glad you wrote one where it’s the best friend nice guy.  Friends to lovers is pretty popular!  What are you working on right now?

Helen Karol: Well I am one of those writers that writes more than one story at a time.  Currently I am focusing on a few works.  I am just finishing Part 5 & 6 of Intimate Knowledge.  Part 6 is the installment the Bedtime Stories excerpt is from.  I wrote the scene a while ago but had to write all the other events that happen first.  It is a romantic suspense as well so I needed to have the story unwind slowly.

 I am also working on the installments of Book 2 of Her Keeper – In His Custody (my most popular work) as well as an alternative standalone version of it as a complete book called Keeping Sara.

Most exciting I will be prioritizing a contemporary Western spanking story tentatively entitled Hope Junction.  I am doing this with one of the top well known spanking romance publisher’s and I am quite excited to be working with them!  I have been teaching full time in Germany for a few months so have not been able to give it my full attention, but will be going full steam ahead on it in July and hope to have the first draft with the publisher by August.

La Crimson Femme: Wow! You are teaching full time in Germany?  It must have been crazy this past week with the World Cup.  Since you mentioned working in Germany, if you could travel to any place, where would you go?

Helen Karol: The Moon!  My other persona is as an international teacher, so I have been lucky to have lived in a number of places on Earth.  I just love the idea of looking at the Earth from another surface.  All that quiet and solitude and eeriness just excites me.

La Crimson Femme: *chuckles* Paid to travel internationally is the way to go!  Where do you get your inspiration for your characters?  Do they talk to you in your head, demanding to be written?

Helen Karol: Oh boy do they!  Characters tend to take over in my stories and do things I had not always planned!  Supporting characters often have a tendency to flesh themselves out as I write.  Luke Kincaid, Lisa James and the Raffertys’ will all have their own stories after starting as supporting characters elsewhere.  I have had requests for that and reviews that mention a preference for my supporting characters.  Her Keeper was only supposed to be a short story, but Rick and Sara just fit together so well my beta’s wanted to see them as a full book.  At first my characters were loosely based on people I know or characters from books, movies or television that inspired me, but now they just seem to take up residence in their own right.  Sometimes they seem more real to me than the real people around me, especially when I am in the middle of writing!

La Crimson Femme: I wonder sometimes if writers end up diagnosed with dementia in their late life because of the characters yelling in their heads.  Hmmm.  So, back to more fun topics.  Do you enjoy spankings?  Do you give, receive or do both?

Helen Karol: I admit I am a spanko from way back.  Although I am with fellow author Natasha Knight – I think we need a better label! I have mainly received spankings and mostly in relationships. I have always hung around with a lot of alpha males and when I was younger, it was not unusual for male-female spankings to happen in my circles in front of friends I might add and not just in a relationships and it wasn’t hidden.  The spanking in college talked about in Her Keeper is based on an actual real spanking event at my school.  Spankings were usually an indication of romantic interest a bit like pulling pigtails at a younger age.  Probably because we were Catholics who didn’t have sex until marriage (sort of) LOL. 

I was also on the receiving end of plenty of real spankings (as opposed to playful ones) for endangering myself too much because I am a bit of a rebel and daredevil and scared the hell out of my male friends and partners with some of my antics. A particularly memorable spanking was when I skied off the edge of a run in the Rocky Mountains and ended up hanging upside down in a tree after ignoring my ski patrol boyfriend’s warning that I was skiing too recklessly.  That got me a good one.  I am also a bit of a flirt and that got me in trouble as well.  Eventually, I discovered spankings as sexual and BDSM.  I have even given a few spankings but prefer to be a bottom.  My favorite is still non-consensual spankings for misbehavior.

La Crimson Femme: Oh my word.  You ended up hanging upside down in a tree?  How on earth?  Wait, I don’t want to know.  I’ve skied many times in my life in the Rockies and I can’t ever think of how one gets stuck upside down in a tree.  I’ve ended up in paths I shouldn’t have taken and fell in waist deep of snow.  *shudders* Well, I can see why you were spanked.  *snicker* Do you go to any writing conventions?  If so, how did you like it?

Helen Karol: I haven’t yet, but I am hoping to get to some in the coming year.  I am planning to devote the next year to writing full time rather than teaching and intend to start networking a lot more.  I put off writing for a long time because I thought it might be too lonely and secluded and I would miss the travel, but conventions should help avoid that.  I love all the online contact eBook writing allows, but I think I would enjoy meeting a lot of authors and readers as well.

La Crimson Femme: I definitely recommend the conventions.  They are fun!  So we get more books coming from you since you are focusing it for next year.  AWESOME!  Now for some odd ball questions.  What is your favourite fruit and why?

Helen Karol: Peach.  Isn’t it obvious why? All that lovely round, juicy flesh.  LOL.

La Crimson Femme: *Rolls eyes* I guess I walked into that one.  *Sigh.* What is something you’ve always wanted to try but were afraid to try?  Why were you afraid?

Helen Karol: Writing as a full time occupation.  I just mentioned the main reason.  I thought it might be too solitary.  I am a people person and need the contact.  Now I realised that I have ways of meeting and networking and of course my characters keep me company.  I can hardly wait to have this year coming up to blow that fear right out of the water.

I would also really love to skydive and bungee jump but I suffer from vertigo.  Still – one of these days…

La Crimson Femme: Writing full time is pretty intimidating.  I can understand your hesitation.  I wish you the best in it!  As for skydiving or bungee jumping…that would be hard with vertigo.  But, it may be more fun!  As long as you are tethered in, you should be okay, right?