Intense – B.B. Hamel

intense

751p. (Intense ends around 35% point)

4****

Aria is sold to Ethan for a month (for a lot of money) through a type of escort service called, “The Syndicate”. Their attraction is intense, which made for some very enjoyable love scenes. I loved that Aria had a history of addiction that she managed to overcome on her own. It flowed with her character as a strong, resilient woman. Ethan was one of the most compromising alphas I’ve ever read, which I loved. There was no conflict in the story due to lack of adequate communication, which tends to be used a lot in stories lately and I can’t stand it. Ethan and Aria speak to one another and figure things out without jumping to conlusions.

Some parts felt like they were thrown in just for convenience. *Mild Spoiler* I.E. Lisa being in administration after not being bought at auction. It seemed like her entire existence was just to get Aria the info she needed.
Overall, it’s a solid story with some really, really hot and sexy moments. I’ll read BB Hamel again.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Save Me – by Aria Grayson

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181p.

4.5*****

Save Me was really moving and emotional. Aidan is a war veteran that suffers from PTSD and the desire to always rescue someone. Liam is an up-and-coming lawyer that has a hard time making himself vulnerable to others. Their love doesn’t explode instantly. It’s more of a slow simmer, but eventually the sauce starts to boil and splash everywhere. That’s an awful euphemism, but my point is, it’s subtle and gentle, yet intense.

Every time Aidan interacted with Eric, it broke me. His pain and regret was so raw and honest and the descriptions of his PTSD were so well-done and unique, I actually felt like I was inside of his head. His inability to, at times, segregate reality from his traumatic past is beautifully weaved together.
Aidan is one of my most favorite characters, ever, and his flaws made him even more endearing. I love how much he loves, how loyal and persistent he can be when it’s called for. Liam is wonderful, too, but Aidan is really a character that will stick with me for a long time.

I received an ARC for an honest review.

 

Mastered by the Mechanic

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103p.

2**

If you’re really into literotica, this one is for you.
If you require more substance and plot to enjoy a story, beware of this one.

There are no obvious proofreading or editing errors, so props for that. Since the sex scenes account for a majority of the story, this is really more of an erotica than a romance. I, personally, have no problems with vulgar or intense love scenes, but the dialogue was really juvenile. Tiffany was the horniest 19 year-old I’ve ever heard of, I’m surprised she didn’t starve to death. Getting laid was presented as her life’s goal. If the book had been novel rather than novella length, I don’t think I could’ve finished it unless more attention to plot and characterization was involved. It’s more the sort of story I would’ve hidden under my mattress in high school.

I received an ARC for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Hostage – Anna Adler

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4****

187p.

I made the mistake of starting His Hostage late at night. I couldn’t put it down, so I went to bed much later than I had intended.
Evie is the trophy wife to rich-o, Jack. Based on her inner monologue, it’s obvious its an unhappy marriage. I would’ve liked a little more background on her relationship with Jack and his father in order to better understand her resistance to leave him.
Evie comes home late one evening and is abducted by a man in a mask that has stolen something of Jack’s. Hal, the abductor, takes her on the road with him as collateral.

I loved Hal and Evie’s interactions. Their banter was cute but still realistic to that of a kidnapper and his hostage. The love angle is slow and subtle. There’s no inst-lust/love, Evie doesn’t bend over for Hal the moment she meets him, it was refreshingly real. Evie fought back, but obeyed when she had to. As her strength grows, so does her determination and confidence. Spending time with Hal enables her to realize her own potential and the idea of getting away from Jack seems to become a more viable possibility.

There’s a good amount of action, plenty of sexy times, and lots of suspense, but it was really the characters that drove the book for me. I loved Hal and Evie. Every moment between them was exciting.

The Memory Watcher – Minka Kent

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4****

428p.

I read this straight through without actually intending to, it’s that addictive.

It follows Autumn, a 20-something that has an addiction with “Instaface” (the book’s equivalent of Instagram), in particular one woman’s account. Daphne is mid-thirties, unhappily married with three kids, the eldest of which was adopted as an infant. Early on it’s revealed that the eldest child, Grace, is in fact Autumn’s biological daughter, thus the easy obsession with the adopted mom’s social media.
Daphne is suspicious of her husband, Graham, and his repetitive “I have to work late” spiel. I must admit, I. Hated. Graham. All characters have convincing flaws, so it’s hard to sympathize with most of them most of the time, but Graham was a supremely manipulative bottom-dweller.
The dysfunction of Daphne and Graham’s marriage was so well written and cohesive, I actually found myself giving my husband the “stink eye” from my periphery. Poor guy was asleep, totally innocent in everything, but it was so easy to get immersed in Graham’s disloyalty and lies.
Autumn’s part of the story wasn’t as emotionally disruptive, but it was no less interesting.

****Mild SPOILERS*****
I have to get somewhat specific in order to list why I gave the book 4, rather than 5 stars if i liked it so much.
There were some discrepancies that kept confusing me, making me go back and reread, which pulls me out of the story and has me enjoy it less. E.g. Daphne’s hair. Is it blonde or red? It wasn’t even described as strawberry blonde, either. It was “golden” or “bright auburn”, etc. Same with descriptions about Autumn’s appearance. I would’ve liked more examples to support Graham’s claim that Daphne was controlling. I wanted clarification that the character was either being deceptive, or was being honest and that Daphne’s perspective was in fact that deception.
The conclusion wasn’t a surprise for me, but it was more depressing than I anticipated. ****SPOILER**** I also wanted to know what happened to the real Autumn. That part was left hanging at the end, and the conclusion wasn’t as tightly wrapped as I would’ve hoped, but such is life.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Peacock – Nora Flite, Allison Starwood

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4****

140p.

Tazzy makes a bet with her coworker that she can meet a man on a dating site and have him fall in love with her in a week. The target, Simon, is chosen based on being such a good match according to the site’s algorithm. $900 is on the line, people. It’s a strange thing to bet so much money on (especially since I could never take that bet), so I was a little hesitant at first. But then it gradually and tastefully enlightens us to Tazzy’s past.

*******Minor SPOILERS******* No blushing virgin!! It was a nice breath of fresh air to have a heroine with her own history that doesn’t include dramatic heartbreaks or less than stellar ex-boyfriends. Sometimes I get tired of reading over and over about inexperienced girls/women being seduced by the VERY experienced man. Or about women with tragic pasts which have left them broken until the right man comes along to save them. Tazzy is actually pretty normal, but not boring. I was just, so happy the more I got to know her. I almost wish she were real (wow, good job on that, Ms. Flite).
Simon is an enigma. He won’t divulge anything personal to Tazzy and maintains a well-played Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing for a while. Goes hot, then cold, then hot, then jerk-face. Just like Tazzy, I wanted to both jump him and throttle him. It isn’t until about halfway through the book that his character begins sharing himself, bit by bit, and he really starts to grow on you.

And the reveal. I was going to stop reading and go to bed, but once Tazzy discovered the reason for Simon’s “personality disorder” I became incensed. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but it’s a big deal to me.
The only complaint I initially had was that I would’ve liked for Tazzy to go a little harder on Simon, maybe make him grovel a little longer. But once I put the book down and thought for a bit I came to the conclusion that she handled it exactly as she should and that not everyone has my blood lust for revenge.

This was my first book by Nora Flite, but it won’t be my last.
PS Sex scenes are pretty frickin hot, too.

Dash – Lucy Lambert

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4****

374p.

I have to admit, a big reason I chose this book was for the title. My son’s name is Dash, and for the same reason given in the book. But that has no bearing on my review…

The characters were the most enjoyable part of the book.
I loved Ellie. I love strong-willed, smart-mouthed heroines that know how to stand up for themselves, and she was that to a “t”. And I loved Dash. He was sort of alpha, but still realistic and down-to-earth. His back story is a good justification for his reason of running. I felt so much sympathy for his dilemma. It just made sense to me.
The plot was pretty solid. Ellie’s ex-boyfriend and his father were well written as yellow-bellied d**chebags.

I only really have two complaints about the book.
I noticed a few times that the narrative went from first-person in one paragraph, to third-person, then back again. I think I caught three moments of that. I understand typos, I even understand the possibility of how that can happen, but it really pulls me out and honestly, it confuses me. I had to reread a few times to understand what was being said since the narration switched the view points. The editor really dropped the ball on that one.
My second issue was with the ending. Super sudden with little closure. *SPOILERS* The last scene before the epilogue was of them running from the sheriff and Bobby. Then it jumps to the epilogue and vaguely mentions how Ellie has moved with Dash to NYC, but they’re about to travel somewhere (for what, no clue) and she clearly still has anxiety and issues with being out of Pleasant. I didn’t need the whole marriage and babies ending, but I did wish for a little more convincing that they would get their HEA.

I received an ARC for an honest review.

The Panty Whisperer – Sloane Howell

 

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2 **

250p.

I had such a hard time liking Joel. He was treading the line between confident and arrogant too much for my liking. And nothing failed to get this guy hard. Every woman he seems to meet is a potential notch in his bedpost. He manages to point out a few desirable personality traits of the women he pursues, but nothing compared to the comments on their bitties and glutties. I’ve never found guys like that to be desirable, and Joel was no exception.

The book starts out with several chapters focusing on a different woman each time that Joel has seduced. He hasn’t met the h yet, so no big deal, I guess. *Possible SPOILERS* However, not a single time was birth control or STDs mentioned. Some of his conquests are work colleagues, but I don’t care how long I’ve known someone, his peen isn’t going anywhere near my hoo-hah without some confirmation that he’s clean. And shouldn’t he be concerned if they’re on birth control? He doesn’t seem to care if he knocks any of them up. Hell, he even succeeds in greasing the pipe with one of them, a woman he’s known at most a WEEK. WHAT?! I know some people find discussions of such things a nuisance because it can take them out of the moment, but it didn’t have to be a sit-down meeting with contract or negotiations. Just give me something to find this realistic and mature.
Then he goes on to sleep with a woman in a bar he met ten minutes ago. Again, no protection. How… How is this guy not dead? It boggles my mind.

*Definite SPOILERS* When Joel finally meets the heroine, he becomes instantly obsessed to the point it affects his daily life. But that doesn’t keep him from sleeping with another co-worker in a maintenance closet. And it’s a long, unnecessary scene, IMO. Sure, he feels bad after, but it moved him from “kinda pervy” to “absolute jackass pervert”. Nothing seems to stop him from using and hurting women. It’s disheartening.
He and the h are apart pretty much the entire book. I counted four scenes with them both in it, only two in which they actually seem to discuss anything of substance, before he’s in love with her. And she’s pretty sure she’s in love with him. They never even see each other’s homes before they’re declaring themselves for one another. The heroine actually speaks more and has a better relationship with his best friend, Tommy (who is very funny at times, super immature at others). It just doesn’t work for me.

If you’re not into philanderers that may or may not be cheaters, skip this one. It’ll just enrage you.