Their Virgin PA – S.C. Daiko

their virgin pa.jpg

Their Virgin PA
226 pages
2 ⭐⭐

 

Heads-up: Story includes M/M, M/F, M/M/F & M/F/M scenes.

Billionares Declan and Blake own a high-end real estate corporation and have two PAs, Sarah and Alice. While Alice has been around longer, it’s Sarah that manages to catch their eyes. What begins as a work only relationship soon evolves into more between two of them, and eventually the third, a situation none of them have been in.

The characters were likable and cute together, but the plot was kind of boring. There’s not much conflict aside from them figuring out how to be a threesome. There was a lot of “we did this, then we talked about that”, etc. I was told about their relationship and histories rather than shown so I couldn’t connect with them. And any dialogue there was was stilted and contrived.

This is erotica, so of course there’s a lot of sex, but it’s just ‘meh’ and lacking in tension and build-up. I found myself rushing through those scenes. WITH EXCEPTION to one particular scene.

There’s a sex scene.

An *SPOILER* anal sex scene.

With Nutella.

It starts out sort of sexy. She puts it on him and sucks it off. Not my preference for foods to lick off of people, but I get it.

Until they start using it as lube. For anal. Thick, sticky, BROWN, Nutella is being used as lube for an anal sex scene.

giphy (44).gif

Legit question: has anyone ever tried this? Is it even pleasurable? Can you substitute with crunchy peanut butter? Asking for a friend.

Anyway, the climax of the story was underwhelming and resolved much too quickly. I don’t hate the book, but I do feel like I wasted my time by reading it.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Advertisements

Good Girls Say Yes – Penny Wylder

good girls say yes.jpg

Good Girls Say Yes
165 pages
2 ⭐⭐

Emma hasn’t seen her good friend, Lily, in two years. So when she shows to her wedding and finds half of the audience actively expressing their BDSM relationships, she’s surprised. Then Emma starts to feel lonely after realizing she’s one of few solo guests there, so she does the reasonable thing: gets wasted. So when a stranger named Mark approaches her and insists she is submissive, she’s more than resistant. But then he makes her an offer: three days to convince her she’s submissive. He wins, she promises to be his slave for 30 days. She wins, $100,000. Game on.

I didn’t feel this one. Some of the plot was contrived and unrealistic leaving me with endless questions. And I especially wanted to know: were Lily’s parents at her wedding? Was any of her family? They were cool with half the people in attendance being in their skivvies and walking around on leashes?

giphy (42)

Seriously, I need to know.

Emma wasn’t the best heroine, and she definitely wasn’t consistent. She was haughty and stubborn, but the moment Mark said “be submissive”, she rolled over and played dead. And Mark. I think I liked him? I don’t know, because he was sweet at times, but at others he crossed the dom line into jerk territory. IE He made Emma give him a BJ in the morning; told her to go do her thing but she definitely couldn’t cum; then dinner rolls around and he doesn’t show, she goes to his study to see why he’s been ignoring her for 1/3 of her agreed time there and he just ignores her like she doesn’t exist. Plus, he didn’t really talk much out with Emma. He gave her a tour of the house and everything, but whenever she would ask a question about doing something sexual that she wasn’t comfortable with (like screwing other people) he shut her up with “that’s not your decision, it’s mine and if I think it’s in your best interest to have sex with other people (what is he, her pimp?), you will do it. Don’t you trust me?”

giphy (43)

Shouldn’t she have a say in who she sleeps with? It was like kinky reverse psychology and I didn’t like it.

Aside from the characters being meh and undeveloped, the plot jumps from those three days to the end without any further development of their relationship. It ended and I felt like I just read a story about two people that made sex into a business transaction, and it didn’t leave me feeling good.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Peep Show – Isabella Starling

peep show.jpg

Peep Show
355 pages
2 ⭐⭐
Peep Show is about two damaged and broken souls, Miles and Bebe, who happen to meet under unique circumstances. I knew going into this story that it was going to be unconventional and possibly uncomfortable, but boy, I never expected what I got.

giphy (40)

Let’s start with the characters. They are two of the most fucked-up MCs I’ve ever read. They start out by watching each other screw other people from their respective apartments across the street. OK then, they hardly know each other so whatever floats their boat, fine. Then they amp it up to phone sex and they both start to have feelings for the other. (Not sure why, especially since Miles is kind of a dick that constantly shuts down all of her advances in pretty rude ways.) So what does Miles do? He tells Bebe to expect a surprise and to be at her window for it.

giphy (30)

At this point I’m super suspicious of his intentions because he’s got issues, and I was rightfully worried. The surprise? He has a threesome with some chick and her boyfriend, making Bebe watch them, knowing and enjoying her jealousy.

giphy (31)

But what’s worse is that Bebe hangs the fuck around and watches despite her anger and jealousy and doubts about why he won’t touch her but feels the need to treat her that way.

giphy (32)

Bitch! Get the fuck outta there. Show him the goddamn door or something. I don’t care if he’s got a huge dick and is oh so sexy or whatever, he’s an asshole that’s trying to push you away. Let him, because he doesn’t deserve you.

After that whole debacle, Miles turns from voyeur to stalker by going into her apartment while she’s incapacitated from drugs and alcohol, all on the pretense that her door is unlocked and he’s worried for her safety.

giphy (33)
How fucking sweet.

Miles finds his anxiety and panic attacks increasing because he fears his feelings for Bebe. So what does Prince Charming go and do this time? Well, he tells Bebe to expect another surprise at 9pm that night.

giphy (34)

She’s excited and dolls herself up thinking he’s going to show up. But nooooope. 9pm rolls around and two men she’s never met before show up on her doorstep, push their way into her apartment, gag her and force themselves on the unsuspecting Bebe. All the while, Bebe sees Miles watching the two men RAPING her from his window. [And it is rape, but the word is conveniently avoided to, in my opinion, make it more acceptable to the reader for Bebe to forgive Miles. Just because she gets wet doesn’t mean she wants it. She sobs and cries and fights back, but the author presents it as a kinky sex game and it pissed me off.] But Miles gets jealous that, you know, Bebe is getting raped by fucking two other men. The men he sent.

giphy (35)

Miles proceeds to beat the men to bloody pulps and tries to comfort Bebe. And. She. Lets. Him. And then? He finally screws her. Not even an hour after she was raped by two men he hired.

giphy (41)

BTW, it’s never mentioned how Miles found these guys, but he certainly didn’t know them and it seems like he simply hired two strangers off the internet. Who fucking puts the woman they’re in love with at risk with two strangers just to convince themselves that they don’t care.

giphy (36)
Being agoraphobic and having depression and anxiety is no excuse. He’s a monster.

The story was sorely lacking in logic, particularly when it came to the bleach bath sex scene. Yes, they fuck in a bathtub full of water and bleach.

giphy (37)

I’m no chemist, but I do know that bleach is a caustic substance that erodes tissue and continues to long after contact. Now, can you imagine the damage fucking in a bleach bath would do to a mucosal body part such as a vagina??

giphy (38)
The book should come with a DISCLAIMER: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

Both Miles and Bebe have issues, but I wasn’t convinced that their histories realistically shaped their behaviors. Especially Miles’. His justifications for his actions are weak and I don’t think he was redeemable. At least the writing and editing were on point. And that cover… damn.

giphy (39)

I need to go wash the filth off now.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Watch Me Follow – Harloe Rae

watch me follow.jpg

Watch Me Follow
217 pages
4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ryker has always been the odd-kid-out. Constantly made fun of for his appearance and “crazy” demeanor by his classmates and then ridiculed at home by his parents has left him lonely and desolate. Until one day Lennon walks into his class and she offers him a smile, finally giving him a reason for living. He becomes obsessed with her, but is too afraid of her rejection that he’d rather keep his distance and protect her from afar. He scares off other guys, sends her her favorite food and gifts, and leaves sweet love notes. Four years pass until he finally gets the nerve to let her find out who he- her stalker- really is.

I loved Ryker’s vulnerabilities. It’s refreshing to have a hero that has low confidence but still manages to be desirable.  He’s smart, successful (career), and gorgeous, yet he still thinks so little of himself and it just made me want to hug him. It’s understandable why he’s obsessed with Lennon, because she’s one of the nicest and least judgmental people, ever. So nice, that it’s almost to a fault. I understand her acceptance of Ryker being the man that’s following her, but she probably should’ve been more scared by his stalking. I can only imagine how creepy it would’ve been had Lennon not already known Ryker.

giphy-downsized-large.gif

The plot is a little slow and so sweet you’ll get a cavity. Other than some cheesy and repetitive dialogue, I actually appreciated the sweetness. There’s so much love, it’s soul cleansing.

Safety: Hero and heroine are both virgins. Pretty sure no other women even exist to Ryker because he has Lennon tunnel vision.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Raw Touch – Serene Akeroyd

the raw touch.jpg

The Raw Touch
Full-length novel

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

After spending over 3 years infiltrating a local gang, undercover cop, Lucia, is finally ready to get back to her real life, even if it is sad and depressing. But after getting el jefe’s brother and some associates put in jail for a long time, the boss decides he has the leverage he needs to get what he wants: her. So Matteo gives Lucia an ultimatum: play his sex slave or you know, die.

giphy (29).gif

Lucia is one of my favorite heroines, ever. Not because she’s a nice person (she’s absolutely not), but because she’s the alpha of this story. She’s always in control and when she’s not, she takes it. Her backstory is unique and surprising and could be a separate book on its own. After suffering a traumatic event years before, she has little patience for anyone that gets in her way; unless it’s Matteo. He’s the only one that tries to break her walls down and figure her out. He’s quite dreamy for a gangster.

The story kept going in directions I didn’t expect, making it that much more exciting. I only wish the ending was longer.

Trigger warnings: references to rape, violence, and emotional abuse by parents.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Imperfect Monster – Jennifer Bene

imperfect monster.jpg

Imperfect Monster
320 pages

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

After her brother is beaten and put in the hospital, Nicky is desperate to clear his debts with cartel boss Paulo Garcia. Not realizing that she’s walking into a lion’s den, she shows up with the money and demands her brother be left alone. But she’s unknowingly $5000 short, and Paulo doesn’t plan to let her go. One of his henchmen, Andre, finds himself drawn to Nicky and can’t stand the idea of sharing her with the others. So in exchange for covering her remaining debt, Nicky now belongs to Andre with the caveat that if Paulo ever wants her, he gets her.

The plot follows the usual sex slave falls in love with her hated torturer theme, but it was still so much more. Living in the house with other men, men that wanted to rape her, Nicky was always on alert and that translated well to the page. Any time she wasn’t alone with Andre in his room, my stomach cramped with dread knowing that eventually Paulo was going to come for her.

I loved Nicky. She was strong and defiant, but knew when to play scared. Andre was harder to get a read on. Sometimes, he was almost like a knight in shining armor… if your knight was keeping you against your will and raping you.

giphy (28).gif

Other times, I hated how weak he was. How he just did Paulo’s bidding, no questions asked, and would then take his aggression out on Nicky made me want him to suffer, just a little.

The ending was what’s keeping this from being 5 stars. Keeping it vague to prevent spoilers, Nicky goes through something pretty terrifying and life-changing. But literally the next day she seems all hunky-dory and comforts Andre, not the other way around. It just seemed too fast and dismissive of her experience.

Trigger warning: dubious consent, rape, violence, and some violent rape that may or may not include a gun.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Rebound – Winter Renshaw

the rebound

The Rebound
Full-length novel

1 ⭐

 

*Spoilers throughout*

Nevada and Yardley meet in high school. They date for a couple of years and are madly in love with each other. Nothing in the world is more important than their love. But Nevada is a year ahead of Yardley, and when he gets offered a basketball scholarship to a school hundreds of miles away they promise to make things work. Until one day Nevada gets a text from a friend back home informing him that Yardley broke her promise and is cheating on him. Broken hearted, he refuses her calls and denies her the chance to explain. Ten years later, he returns to his hometown, now a widower and single father to two little girls. And he absolutely, 100%, wants nothing to do with Yardley, the one that broke his heart.

I hated this book. There, I said it. And I hate saying it because I am a fan of Renshaw’s, but this plot was such a clusterfuck, I couldn’t stand it.

giphy (26)

First issue: The main conflict of this book is instigated by a MC’s unwillingness to communicate resulting in a massive misunderstanding, and I loathe plots that use that device. I see it as a cop-out; an easy way to create drama without having to really provide a reason or purpose. And in this case, I just don’t get it. He gets a text from some acquaintance, takes that guy’s word as truth, and never speaks to the love of his life about it? His justification is that if he did listen to her, he would forgive her and look like a fool for taking her back. BUT HE HAD ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF THAT IT EVEN HAPPENED! JUST ONE GUY’S WORD! It’s ludicrous.

And then all Yardley does is send a letter? And he sends it back? If I was desperately in love with a man that hated me due to a misunderstanding, I don’t care how far away he lives, I’d be on his doorstep ASAP demanding he have the decency to at least listen to me.

Second: Use of the “man moves on and woman pines for him and remains celibate” trope. Not long after breaking up with Yardley he meets another woman, falls in love, marries her and has two beautiful children. Yes, he loses his wife, but at least  he experienced her love. All the while Yardley marries a friend for altruistic reasons, never consummates the marriage, and never sleeps with another man in the ten years she’s apart from Nevada.

Third: The timeline is confusing. She’s 16 in 2008, but present day she’s now 28. That doesn’t add up.

giphy (27).gif

Fourth: There was no reason for Yardley to have to marry Griffin. He was 18, legally an adult. If he didn’t want his parents making life-or-death decisions for him, all he had to do was get a living will outlining his requests and give Yardley POA. No marriage needed. He could’ve googled it and found that out.

The story’s foundation is too unstable, the characters are irrational, and the ending sprints from the final confrontation to HEA. And it’s exhausting.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Road to You – Melissa Toppen

the road to you

The Road to You
240 pages

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

While spending the summer at her aunt’s house, 15 y/o Elara meets and befriends a neighbor boy named Kam. They quickly become best friends, but both secretly deny their deeper feelings for the other. Seven years later, their friendship was stronger than ever until they’re tragically torn apart. Consumed with grief and guilt, Elara manages to find comfort and friendship with Kam’s older brother, Kane. And just like with Kam, she manages to find love as well.

Elara and Kam’s friendship is unique and beautiful. The timeline jumps back and forth between past and present, giving little snippets of their best memories and they’re so innocently cute together, it’s unbearable. It’s so easy to fall in love with Kam that when you learn about Kane, the older “asshole” brother, I had my hesitations that anything he could have with Elara would be as special. But then I realized it was like comparing apples to oranges, and I loved them both.

I have to keep this review vague, because personally, I think spoilers will affect the emotional impact of the story. And emotional it was. Maybe my hormones are out of whack, but I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that I haven’t ugly cried this much since the first time I saw Sophie’s Choice. The characters are so real and familiar that I’m still tearing up thinking about the pain they experience.

This story will gut you, but still you’ll smile and your heart will feel warm. It’s a risk worth taking.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

road to you.jpg

She Asked For It – Willow Winters

she asked for it.jpg

She Asked For It
300 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

Allison and Dean are both students in university. Dean has a temper issue and goes to anger management for it. Allison is… well, complicated. She’s flirty, but closed off; comfortable in her sexuality, but also gets easily intimidated by men. There’s clearly something in her past that has turned her into a lonely conundrum. So when Dean does his best to break down her walls, to truly get to know her and be what she needs, she does her best to run away.

I’ve actually been stewing for days how I would rate this, and I’m still not sure. This story is engaging, and the emotions carry the plot, but I wasn’t as attached as I expected. There’s a lot of internal dialogue, especially with Allison, that was so shrouded in mystery for so long that I just kept thinking “what the hell is going on?”.

Both Allison and Dean have had difficult pasts, but there’s something particular about Allison’s that leaves questions. It’s clear from the prologue that something happened between her and her best friend back in high school, and that it was in some way related to sex, which keeps you guessing. …and guessing. And then scratching your head because damnit, you just want to know what the hell her deal is. And when you find out, you’ll probably be a little surprised. I was. And as intriguing as that endless curiosity was, it created a problem for me. Taking so much time for the story to explain what all of Allison’s secret thoughts were about and realizing that often times, they were misleading, kept me from connecting to her. I didn’t have that problem with Dean. His past was out there and I was able to empathize with him. Allison’s mystery and sadness was appealing, but so much time was spent on it that by the time I understood her, the book was over. I never had the chance to accept her secrets and motivation. And I could believe Allison’s and Dean’s intense attraction, but since I could only connect to one of them, I couldn’t really feel their love.

Everything else aside, She Asked For It has a pretty significant message that is just now being openly spoken about. So even if the story left me confused, I do respect the intent and the attention Winters has given it.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Keeping It All – JJ Bella

keeping it all

Keeping It All
297 pages

2 ⭐⭐

Mary’s studying in London for a semester when she meets playboy Sam. They start dating and Sam isn’t quite the knight in shining armor he first appeared to be. He has no ambitions, is messy, drinks too much, flirts too much and adores the attention of women despite Mary’s discomfort with it. So, when Mary catches Sam in the very same spot he first hooked up with her about to kiss another woman, she runs and they never speak again. Fast forward five years and Mary has just been hired at a prestigious firm that does I have no idea what as an executive assistant to one of the partners, and life is looking good. Until- wait for ittttttt- Mary finds out her new boss is- keep waitinggggggg- SURPRISE! SAM!

giphy (23).gif

The same irresponsible douche that would’ve cheated on her had she not caught and broken up with him first. But things are super different, like, bizzaro-world different. Sam’s divorced and a single dad to a four year old girl and he’s all, like, super changed and responsible. He’s so responsible that he refuses to let anything happen between him and Mary despite their attraction and despite the fact that he has her move into his condo with him. You know, because most bosses think ‘Damn, this project sure will keep us busy, and my EA really shouldn’t be inconvenienced by having to go back and forth between the office and her apartment and the airport. No, now she can just go between the office and MY apartment and the airport. It’s genius!’.

giphy (24).gif

Yep, genius.

Mary and Sam have no chemistry. They’re basically Sam the boss and Mary the EA that has a crush on her boss. There’s a big lack in sexual tension and the love scenes are almost clinical. There’s a whole lot of internal thinking on both characters’ accounts, but while Mary swoons over Sam in her head, Sam seems pretty immune. I mean, he even entertains the idea of getting with his ex-wife for longer than the idea of getting with Mary. So with that kind of mindset, what happens? Well, Mary catches Sam making out with his ex in the home they’re sharing. Just days after they slept together so of course Mary leaves the next morning and will only deal with Sam for professional reasons. Go Mary! But then something stupid happens and Sam ‘rescues’ her and BOOM! All is forgiven. Well, apparently Sam explains to Mary how he was like all down with sexing his ex – because alcohol- but then he kept thinking of Mary which was a major boner killer but he swears it wasn’t going to go any further than what she walked in on.

giphy (25).gif

But we’re told that they reconcile, not shown. So I’ll step aside from the whole “Sam is an idiot that thinks with his dick” train for a moment and point out my biggest problem with the story: it’s a whole lot of telling and very little showing. And drizzle that with some surface-deep characterizations sauce, and you got yourself a lackluster sundae.

It’s an underwhelming romance with almost no romance. The hero’s a jerk that’s supposedly been redeemed because he finished school and settled down and the heroine is a naïve fool that fails to see that that’s just not enough. He couldn’t keep it in his pants five years ago, and he still can’t. The only reason they’re together is because they’re around each other constantly. If they didn’t work with each other, neither would care enough to look the other up and try to fix things. Heck, Sam even mentions several times that he’s disappointed things didn’t work out with his ex. That’s why he entertained the idea of sleeping with her after sleeping with Mary: it was easier for him to go back to her than it would’ve been to traverse the oh so painful difficulties of sleeping someone that works with him. That’s not romance, that’s settling. And sad.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.