Eight Goodbyes by Christine Brae

eight goodbyes

Eight Goodbyes
278 pages
2 ⭐⭐

I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to this book.

It took me over two months to finish this book, and that is about 30 times as long as it takes me to finish most books. I just couldn’t stop putting the book down and avoiding it at all costs. Here’s why:

The book’s blurb gave me the impression that the two main characters, Tessa and Simon, were meant to be together but life kept getting in the way. What I got was a selfish heroine with intimacy issues that consciously made poor decisions and a hero that went gaga stupid over a woman that simply didn’t deserve him. With those two at the helm of this sinking romance, it’s a wonder I finished the book at all.

The plot was promising, but the execution let me down. With two MCs that are supposed to have feelings for each other, the reader should want them to be together. I didn’t. Simply because I felt like the author forced them together. Simon was all about Tessa from the beginning. Being in his head I was so convinced of his desire to learn more about her and wooed by his determination to get near her that I was completely caught off guard when it was learned that he was in a relationship and practically engaged.

Not so swoon-worthy now, huh?

A lot of reviewers seemed smitten with Simon – and yes, he was likable – and completely overlooked the fact that the main character HEAVILY pursued another woman out of infatuation despite having a partner waiting for him back home. It’s obviously a personal preference, but I don’t find men like that desirable enough to star in my romantic fantasies/stories. And Tessa… she was obviously attracted to Simon, but so dismissive of his attention that their chemistry was purely one-sided. Her peak selfish moment was when she stood Simon up in Las Vegas and cemented my eternal dislike of her.

I don’t need insta-love by any means, but I needed more of a connection early on to even believe they would try to meet up again in the future. And since I wasn’t convinced, I just felt like I was wasting my time with this book.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Down To You by Jayne Frost

down to you

Down To You
425 pages
3.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tori and Logan have had a contentious relationship ever since she became his band’s manager, so when she agrees to play his babysitter on tour after his arrest for fighting, neither is very happy with the situation. They develop a friendship of sorts and the more time they spend together, the more the attraction grows. But eventually both of the insecurities float to the surface and complicate what they have.

The story is confusing at times, especially if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series. I’ve read one or two, though, so I had a rough idea of what was going on.

What I liked:
-The romance is a slow burn, but intense.
-Tori’s ability to tame manwhore Logan without even trying was admirable.
-Both MCs were easy to like and relatable.
-The flashbacks were moving. (Logan with his mom and Tori with her deceased husband, Rhenn.)
-No cheating. {Although not technically a safe read since Logan hasn’t been celibate since they’ve met, but he is once they go on tour.)
-Logan’s jealousy of Rhenn’s memory was realistic, but not OTT.

What I didn’t like:
-Felt like many scenes were repeated and could’ve been left out.
-Tori’s automatic assumption that every time Logan was around other women without her that he was cheating.
-The ending was corny and seemed almost impossible to pull off. Not to give too much away, but there’s one last “hurrah” for Tori that involved her band and it just didn’t seem plausible.
-I was left with 1001 questions and it felt unfinished in some places.

Really cute epilogue, though.

Added bonus quote:

At night I sucked down everything I could get my hands on… but always alone. No bandmates around to give me dirty looks. No women, because every woman was Tori, and if I got drunk enough…

Well, I didn’t want to take the chance.

That’s what jerking off was for, anyway.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Sweet Taste of Sin by Ember Casey

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The Sweet Taste of Sin
330 pages
1 ⭐

I went into this book knowing that it contained a lot of tropes I’m not typically a fan of, but every once in a while I try to push myself to read books outside of my safety net. It’s a way of testing my limits and either reaffirming or discounting my preferences.

Plus, I guess I’m just in a masochistic mood.

Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, the book didn’t work for me and it only has a little to do with my dislike of the following tropes:
-Heroine remains celibate during separation
-Heroine witnesses hero having sex with OW
-Hero is heroine’s one and only ever sexual partner
-Hero claims to have loved and thought of heroine their whole separation, but he still dipped his wick in all kinds of wax


No, I’m not a fan of any of that, but I had bigger issues with the characters and plot presentation.

For starters, I wanted to like the hero more and I think if I had some of his POV that would’ve been possible. Instead, all I got is the heroine’s constant doubting and whining. The hero claims he suffered during their separation(s), but I never got to see it. What good is his pain if I don’t get to experience it?


He made some grand gestures and pleaded with the heroine about how scared he was something bad had happened to her and voila, problem solved.

Secondly, the heroine goes from “I hate him” to openly telling him she loves him in less than 24 hours. Wow, that must be some magical D for her to be so forgiving.

Just because he was finally willing to expose their relationship to the public doesn’t mean she should go straight to the declarations of love. I’d like to think any logical real human being would take more time than that, so it’s unfortunate for the heroine to be so… well, dumb.

Finally, they never really acknowledge the elephant in the room: seeing the H cervix-tapping OW. Ashlyn makes some passive aggressive comments about Emilia, the OW she saw Dante having sex with, then Dante says a couple times how there were no emotions involved and it was a convenient stress reliever blah blah blah. Well, I have about 100 problems with that because it makes no sense. Dante and Emilia were so stressed out at a work engagement that they just had to go bang in a closet? That’s a mighty big risk to take by sleeping with your brother’s fiancé in a public location where anyone could and did walk in on them. What if it hadn’t been Ashlyn to walk in? Now Emilia’s fake relationship with Luca is out and that’s a publicity nightmare for everyone.

I don’t know about most people, but when I’m high-strung and stressed out because of work, I like to maybe scream into a pillow, or take a walk and buy some chocolate. I certainly don’t sleep with people because it’s so “convenient”. The scene was too contrived. There are a million more realistic ways for the characters to be reacquainted under awkward circumstances AND make readers angry/uncomfortable. The cherry on top of this whole debacle is that apparently the OW and hero’s brother are the couple in the next book and apparently, Dante never bothered to tell Luca he was sleeping with Emilia. Fake engagement or not, that’s such an asshole thing to do.

After finishing this book and reading all about the hero’s never-ending love for the heroine all I could think was, would Dante have ever reached out to Ashlyn had she not walked in on him banging his brother’s fiancé?

Corrupt Desires by Jennifer Bene

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Corrupt Desires
318 pages
3 ⭐⭐⭐

The story takes place in a dystopian world where the setting is split between The Fog – the poor side where the sky is never seen – and downtown, the cleaner side that caters to those with money. The main character, Phee, is from The Fog but works at a cafe downtown. One day she waits on a downtown man, Bryant, who becomes intrigued by her and talks her into a date. When Bryant flakes out after their night together, Phee becomes convinced he’s just a jerk that decided to toss her aside, but Bryant soon reappears and Phee realizes she’s gotten herself into more than she expected.

I couldn’t get into this one. The characters came together much faster than I anticipated and even with the drama, their relationship was very insta-love and not enough character development before that happened. I don’t think it helped that there’s only the heorine’s POV so it was hard to connect with the hero at all. And with that lack of connection, I found myself underwhelmed and skimmed the love scenes.

This is the first time I’m making this complaint about a Bene story, but it had a lot more telling than showing. There was also a lot of Cinderellaesque thoughts going through the heroine’s mind that got repetetive. She wasn’t a doormat, but she wasn’t as strong or resilient as I’d come to expect from Bene. I was a little disappointed with her.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Possession by A. Blackthorne

possession

Possession
Full-length novel
2 ⭐⭐

This is the third book is the Dark Obsessions series and can’t really be read as a standalone.

Jax and Brooke from the first two books aren’t in this story which I found strange, since their ending in the previous book didn’t seem finished. Instead, this story follows Detective Holden Chase from book 2. He’s in possession of the amulet his deceased lover/partner, Amira, left him after her death. He doesn’t know anything about the amulet, but when a private investigator, Tessa, comes into the picture, dangerous threats arise.

The story is more of a paranormal mystery with some sex thrown in. Holden and Tessa are supposed to fall in love with each other very early after meeting, but the author fails to bring that to life. There’s more telling than showing and I felt no connection to the characters. It’s unfortunate, too, because they all have interesting backgrounds that should really make me sympathize with them, but they’re too contrived and artificial to feel any kind of connection.

The story ends on a cliffhanger, but it’s becoming too drawn out and isn’t holding enough of my attention for me to want to continue anymore.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

His For a Week: Tormented by Em Brown

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His For a Week: Tormented
156 pages
3 ⭐⭐⭐

Tormented continues Kimani and Ben’s story and picks up where Ravaged left off. Ben is still with Kimani in San Francisco while the other women purchased through in the Scarlet Auction are still at Jake’s cabin elsewhere.

Not a lot happened in the story, but there are several sex/BDSM scenes. Several times I wanted Kimani to either be honest with Ben about what her end goal was or simply walk away – especially when he chose to punish her without the option of safe wording. I get that they don’t trust each other, but they could’ve communicated better without giving too much away and prevented some of their discord.

There is a revelation at the end and I was hoping for some kind of confrontation, but instead it jumps an undisclosed amount of time into the future and the reader doesn’t get to really see the outcome, just the setup for the next book which I really hope is the end, because it’s beginning to drag out.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Branded Captive by Addison Cain

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Branded Captive
105 pages
2 ⭐⭐

Wren is a mute Albino Omega that gets discarded by her father to a desolate area called the Warrens and is left to survive on her own when she fails to please the Alpha he wanted to sell her to. She becomes a caretaker of some boys that are also on their own, but one day two of them fail to return home. She finds them “working” for Caspian, the ruler of the Warrens and a ruthless killer. Caspian wants Wren and offers her to trade herself in place for the boys, but she must do everything that he says, including pleasing his two employees and co-Alphas, Kieran and Toby.

The first thing that comes to mind is that there’s a lot of fluid in this book. Considering how often one of the alphas is on top of her, behind her, above her leaking or shooting or splattering or whatever, and the copious amounts of slick she pours out like a faucet, it’s a wonder she didn’t drown.

My second thought is that despite how much I’ve liked Cain’s writing in the past, I’m beginning to think I need a break from her. Many of her books are full of triggers, but it’s often balanced by the emotions she’s able to produce in her characters. It wasn’t enough this time, though.

Caspian is jealous whenever Wren gives attention to anyone but him and it starts off promising, but that lasts all of a few days. Then he’s tossing her to his cohorts because he can’t be bothered to comfort her after he’s done playing with her. Instead, he returns to his layer where he watches Kieran and Toby do their things via surveillance video while getting some under the table action by the numerous “whores” he keeps in his pen.

Wren is clearly appeasing Caspian in order to keep her boys, Mikael and Alec safe, but of course her body betrays her any time an alpha starts his seduction. Every scene was full of dub-con because Wren logically didn’t want what was happening to her. But after spending some time with Caspian she starts to become attached, but then he breaks her spirit by making her feel less than a whore when he tells her he’s still going to use his other females, and sometimes in front of her and that she’ll be grateful because it’ll calm him down enough so he won’t injure her during sex.

It ends with that declaration and Caspian informing Wren that she’ll be returning with him to his lair, which leads me to anticipate that the next book will be full of Wren’s heartbreak having to watch Caspian with others and probably some OW drama from Rosie, the oft mentioned but never seen whore that was Caspian’s preferred entertainment before he found Wren.

At least I don’t.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

**Release date 8/28/18**

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The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo
384 pages
4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Twenty years ago, Lorelai found a beaten and nearly dead man on the side of the road. He had no memory of his life before, not even his name, so Lorelai assigned him the name Ash. Her family took him in and during the course of his months long recovery, they formed a bond that surpassed friendly and was almost romantic. As romantic as a 14 year old girl and 18 year old boy could get. Then one day Ash didn’t return from a day-trip he’d taken with Lorelai’s brother, Mortimer. Twenty years later, they’re finally reunited, but the man is little like the boy she remembers.

Twenty years is a long time for the characters to be separated and I would’ve liked it to be shorter, but the reason they were torn apart is legitimate and not caused by a misunderstanding or failure to communicate. And once Ash revealed the reason he never returned it was obvious he did everything he could to get back to her sooner.

I loved the characters. Lorelai saw herself as feeble and weak, especially because she let her brother treat her horribly for so long, but her actions showed otherwise. She had her damsel in distress moments, but she always confronted her issues head-on and refused to let Ash get what he wanted unless he gave her something in return.

Ash had a tortured past and he was understandably damaged. He needed love and affection, but didn’t think he deserved it, yet he couldn’t help but show Lorelai his vulnerabilities. Despite knowing he’s done some awful things in his past, you can’t help but understand and sympathize with him. I think it helped that the reader only gets to see the good he does, though, and all of that good is for and because of Lorelai. Ash’s love for her was plainly evident and I loved how much he obsessed over her.

 

“To go through what I went through, to survive, a man needs a purpose. Something to live for. You were that for me.”


I have to give this four stars instead of five because there’s a lot more telling than showing. There are some important events that could’ve added significant flesh to the story, but they’re quickly glossed over. I wanted more information on Ash’s childhood. I wanted to see some of the twenty years the MCs spent apart rather than just be told some important details. Despite this, I still really enjoyed the story and Ash is a character I could read about for weeks.

“I’ve known pain. I’ve known pain you’ve never…” He didn’t finish the sentence, but grappled with a few harsh breaths. “But agony. True agony. Was knowing you were so far away for so long. That I might not again feel your touch. Hear your voice. Bask in your smile. There is pain and sometimes it’s excruciating. But then there is suffering…”

“There’s a darkness in me, Lorelai one I’m afraid will consume your light.”

“That isn’t how light works, is it? Darkness is easily overcome. Not light. The smallest hint of illumination can chase away the heaviest gloom, can slip through the most infinitesimal crack. It is never the other way around.”

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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THE DUKE WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
Victorian Rebels (Volume 6)
Kerrigan Byrne
St. Martin’s Paperbacks $7.99
Pub Date: 08/28/2018
ISBN: 9781250122568
384 Pages

 

Summary:
The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE

Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

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Author Website: http://www.kerriganbyrne.com/

Twitter: @Kerrigan_Byrne
Facebook: @KerriganByrneAuthor
Instagram: @KerriganByrne

Maon: Marshal of Tallav by Cailin Briste

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Maon: Marshal of Tallav
Full-length novel
3 ⭐⭐⭐

Maon is a marshal of Tallav, a planet with a matriarchal society. The gender expectations of Tallav are the opposite of what most societies today are used to. The women make the decisions and bring home the bacon while the men are the nurturers and stay home to take care of the children. Maon is convinced he wouldn’t fit well into such a role and has convinced himself the possibility of marrying or having a family isn’t in the cards for a playboy like him. That’s where Selina comes in. Selina Shirley is a Tallavan woman with a dominant streak. She’s also heir to one of the most famous fashion houses in the universe, and ever since her father’s death she has been looking for the ideal husband. A man that would take care of their children and obey her demands while maintaining his emotional distance.

The world-building was ok, but it was too human and familiar for a sci-fi universe with fictional planets. The characters even talk about Guiness and eat things like tortellini and spaghetti carbonara which was strange to me. I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering and wondering if Guiness would actually be significant enough to traverse galaxies and millennia.

The plot was unique, but hard to get into, especially because the romance was so slow moving and I had a hard time connecting to the characters. At first, when Maon sees Selina he finds her to be frumpy. She does purposely dress in shapeless garments to avoid unwanted attention from men, but if the heroine’s going to find the man attractive, I’d appreciate the same feelings from the hero. Maon didn’t find himself attracted to Selina until he saw her as Lasair – her domme persona – but he didn’t know it was her and eventually finds himself torn between his feelings for Lasair and Selina.

The heroine is strong and is the one pushing away. Refreshingly, it’s the hero stumbling all over himself whenever the heroine turns him on. He manages to balance that out with his level of jealousy and protectiveness, though.

Safety: This isn’t a safe read. Because of the endless push and pull, the MCs are separated a few times and the first sex scene between them isn’t until 84% (with the exception of one HJ scene early on), but of course there are scenes with Maon and another woman he spends three days with after seeing Selina the first time. One scene has him watching Lasair while he makes the OW give him a BJ and imagining it’s her. He even goes the extra gross mile and refuses to finish until Lasair sees him.

There are no descriptive scenes of Selina with OM, but it is implied that for the several months after initially meeting, she is sexually active but Maon isn’t (because he’s recovering from being shot). And again, after they sort of admit their feelings for one another but separate, she dates a few other men and even moves one into her home, but the author pulls the ol’ switcheroo and Maon stays celibate.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.