Pirate Passion – Lolita London

pirate's passion

Pirate Passion

294 pages

2.5 ⭐⭐⭐

June has always lived a boring, timid life as a pastor’s daughter. One day, her father introduces her to a man a least twice her age that her father has agreed to marry her off to. Desperate to escape, her mother tells her a secret: *SPOILER* Years ago her mother had an affair with a pirate named Black John, and he is her real father.

Thomas has been dishonorably discharged from the Navy for seducing the Admiral’s daughter, leaving his Viscount of a father unwilling to speak to him. With nowhere to go, he travels from port to port, working on ships and gambling to survive. Missing the departure of a ship he was working on, he is now stuck in Bridgetown. Bored and penniless, he meets June while searching for her pirate father. He agrees to help her find Black John for 40 schillings. Then their adventure begins.

The story is pretty cute, but historically inaccurate in regards to speech and terminology, so keep that in mind if it’s the type of thing to bother you.

There weren’t many opportunities to learn June and Thomas’s  personalities, making it hard to connect with them. It was also hard to understand why they were attracted to each other. Their romance seemed based on convenience and circumstance rather than love. Their intimacy was mild and lacked passion.

The climax’s resolution had potential, but was too fast and anticlimactic. And the ending just – ends. I wanted to know what their next step was, but was left unfulfilled.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Sold – Kara Owen

sold

Sold

76 pages

2 ⭐⭐

Jessica is a salesperson for some company in the marketing or advertising department. Before a meeting concerning her first potential sale, her boss unbuttons the top of her shirt and gives her a pep-talk about using sex as a tool. She partly strips for the two “gorgeous” men that are her clients, as well as her boss, then leaves before they make a decision. A few days later she enjoys the three men in the conference room, blah blah blah.

OK, so I thought I would give Kara Owen another chance after being less than impressed by her first story, Legal . And now I am kicking myself for being so naïve, because Sold was even worse.

Dear God, so many continuity errors, the worst of which was Drake’s continuous name change. Or is it Bryce? Maybe Jake? Oh no it’s Drake? Cool, gotcha. The timeline was constantly changing, too. The meeting was on a Friday, but Sunday night she keeps thinking about the meeting “yesterday”. Once is fine, but it happens nonstop throughout the book.

Ugh, I’m going to get downvoted for this, but the men were borderline misogynistic. IE:

“Sometimes it felt like we were communicating telepathically, and all for the purpose of making some lucky bitch feel like she was the center of the universe for however long we wanted her.”

No no no. Bitch is not ok in a sexual/intimate context. Several words are, but not that one. I don’t need sweet romance and flowers, and I’m all for alphas and men that take power, but Jessica was nothing but an object to them.

I don’t know how the writing managed to get worse, but maybe the author should look into a (better) proofreader. If you’re looking for something sexy, this is doable, but I wouldn’t waste the money.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

***Release Date August 1, 2017***

See what I have done

See What I Have Done

336 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

See What I Have Done is a historical fiction based on Lizzie Borden, a woman accused of murdering her father and step-mother with an axe. I am quite familiar with the actual story and events, so I was interested in the potential of a fictional spin on the story.

The POV alternates between Lizzie, her sister Emma, their maid Bridget, and a transient acquaintance of their Uncle John. On top of that, the timeline jumps back and forth continuously, from just days before the murders to over a decade after, making it difficult at times to keep track of what’s going on.

The writing is creative and believably descriptive. Sometimes too descriptive.

“…my hands dived into my own vomit. Cold, gravel-think.”

“I sat next to Grandpappy’s infected body and tasted gangrene on the tongue, foul, rotted fat.”

The book left me with relief that I didn’t live during the 19th century and have to suffer through all of the awful smells.

The pace is slow and not much actually happens in the story. Rather than focus on the murders and the investigation, much of the story actually centers on the family and their borderline hatred for one another, setting up potential motives. If I had to choose a word to describe the Borden family, it would be ‘dysfunctional’, and Lizzie is the main contributor. She has an unhealthy attachment to Emma, and Emma reciprocates with love and affection on the surface but deep down, wants nothing more than to be done with Lizzie. Uncle John is awfully creepy and even gets handsy with Lizzie at one point. Step-mother Abby’s a mess, desperate to keep Bridget as her surrogate daughter since she had none of her own. Andrew was so contradictory between his demeaning of his daughters, yet demanding they stay home and not marry. Their dynamic was confusing and frustrating, making me wonder how long could I survive a family like that before trying to kill one of them?.

The murders are off-page in order to keep the murderer’s identity a secret until the very end, and once it’s clearly revealed, it just ends. Granted, the ending was beautifully written, but I would’ve preferred more content on characters’ reactions knowing all along who the killer was.

See What I Have Done isn’t one I’ll read again, but I will be looking forward to more of Sarah Schmidt’s unique writing in the future.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Touch Me Doctor – Aria Ford

touch me doctor

Touch Me Doctor

147 pages

a waste of my time ⭐⭐

Widowed and now a single father to a six year old, Anna, Matt is in dire need of a nanny to help with watching her for the summer. Jessica recently graduated college with a double major in French and Art History, so needless to say, her job search isn’t going well and she applies for the nanny position out of desperation. Thankfully, she is the only interviewee that clicks with Anna and she gets the job.

The plot’s premise was cute, but a bit cliché and overdone. The timeline jumped around randomly and it felt like everything was skimmed rather than explained, making it hard to connect with the characters. The romantic scenes felt forced and were kind of boring. The whole fake marriage aspect lasted about three pages and didn’t even make sense. The whole idea that a philanthropist would only donate money to married people and not even consider the fact that Matt was a loyal and dedicated widower father was pretty absurd. I’m actually convinced that it wasn’t a part of the original story but was added after the fact in order to jump on the “fake marriage” bandwagon.

Jessica was easy to like and Matt was too, at times. But the bullcrap he says to Jessica towards the end was brutal and rather than take more time to consider if she was making a good decision by giving up her lifelong dream, rather than question him if he would be so spontaneously hurtful in the future, she jumps into his arms. Ut uh.

There were several typos and in one chapter, the first-person POV sloppily switches back and forth between Matt and Jessica several times. According to some other reviews, there’s apparently a shower scene? I received an ARC copy, so maybe that explains this away but there was definitely no shower scene in my copy, making me wonder how such an inconsistency manages to get past the editor.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Security Binds Her – Jennifer Bene

security binds her

Security Binds Her
*Book 1 of 4 in the Thalia Series*

205 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

Thalia is a data entry temp stuck at work late one night. Leaving down the stairs, she’s attacked by the night security guard who has had contact with her before. Only before, he was a gentleman and walked her to her car when she worked late. Now he was beating her up and raping her.

well, that escalated...

The guard takes her home and ungently informs her that she is being trained to be sold as a sex slave. Torture and rape ensue.

I have no clue how I feel about this book. Until the last chapter or two, I hated it. It was nothing but the guard loving her, then beating her because she made the smallest mistake, but oh she’s so beautiful he needs her again. Thalia was weaker than I expected. I realize giving in and trying to please him was for her self-preservation, but she kept blaming herself. She was afraid of the guard and his mercurial punishments, but overall she just kept berating herself for having a physical reaction when touched/raped. The few scenes she did fight back were stupid, but I liked her more. I liked her feisty, not meek.

I kept crossing my fingers for the guard to redeem himself, that he would actually develop a conscience and realize that, “hey, I’m a pretty awful person. I should change that.” Nah, didn’t happen. I was convinced he would be the main love interest and I wasn’t ok with that. He beat her so severely whenever he was mad at his brother, verbally berated her, raped her without preparation… there’s just too much to be forgiven.

*Spoilers* 
At the end, an auction is held and James comes into the picture. Phew, thank the lord for James. He’s only into consensual things and agrees to never touch Thalia if she doesn’t want him to.  (I’m not sure why he’s scoping out submissives from guys that abduct and rape them rather than a willing one, but hopefully the following books will fill me in.) He makes an offer and the guard, now known as Marcus, loses his mind. I didn’t intend on reading the other books, but now that it’s clearer that Thalia’s time with Marcus wasn’t the set-up for an abusive relationship but rather an insight to the traumatizing experience she had, I now have to read the rest of the series to see if she heals. Good job, Ms. Bene, you hooked me.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Lady for the Brazen Earl – Bridget Barton

a lady for the brazen earl

A Lady for the Brazen Earl

451 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

From Goodreads:
When Lady Imogen falls upon the idea of using the London Season as a means of raising funds for a charitable scheme, she thinks it will be the simplest of things. With her friend, Lady Redmond at her side, the two embark upon a mission to attend as many social events as possible with the intention of opening every wealthy purse in sight. But it is all for a good cause; and a heartbreaking one as Imogen discovers when she and Lady Redmond find themselves wandering the dismal corridors of a workhouse for the poor of Lambeth.

Heath Montgomery, the young and arrogant Earl of Reddington had always enjoyed a life of privilege, free from cares and conscience. Looking forward to the London Season as always, he allows his determined mother a little latitude in searching for a wife for him; one with wealth of her own to swell the coffers of the Reddington Estate. Miss Jemima Ravenswood, daughter of a rich and ambitious Baron, seems to fit the bill. She is beautiful and as keen to secure herself a title as her father is.

But when the Earl finds himself crossing conversational swords with the caring and tenacious Lady Imogen, he wonders if beauty and fortune are enough for him anymore. When he finally falls for the curious Lady Imogen, will the Earl find he has gone too far and been too arrogant to ever win her heart?

Review:
Imogen was an admirable character with the best of intentions. But despite the length of the book, that’s really all we see of her. I know she is passionate about those in poverty and starting a shelter to contend with the degrading conditions of the workhouses, I know that she’s bad at bridge, but that’s about it.

Heath is irritating and shallow at first but manages to redeem himself. He finds himself slowly taken with Imogen and in the process becomes a better man.

There’s not much romance in the book. It actually takes a backseat to Imogen’s cause, which hurt the book. By not focusing on anything but that, the already long title became even more tedious.

The book was slow but well-written. Not much excitement, but it is rather honorable in its focus on those less fortunate.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Born To Be Bound – Addison Cain

born to be bound

Born To Be Bound

244 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

In a dystopian universe, the world’s survivors of a disastrous plague live under a dome that is now ruled by the Followers, prisoners that escaped an underground prison and destroyed the government. The people are both human and animal, being either a powerful Alpha, content Beta, or suffering Omega. Alpha’s are dominant, obviously, Betas are still semi-normal, but Omegas go into heat each season like many animals do. If around an Alpha with low self-control, an in-heat Omega could be seriously injured or killed.

Omega, Claire, chances a meeting with the Alpha leader of the followers, Sheperd, in hopes of getting food for her community of starving Omegas. Unfortunately, she goes into heat while trying to speak with him… she also happens to be surrounded by hundreds of Alphas eager to “mount” her. Sheperd manages to kill a dozen men and sweep Claire away to be his new prize… and sexual slave.

I like Addison Cain’s writing. It’s strong and consistent and her stories are always unique. Her historical romance, Dark Side of the Sun was particularly good. But hoo boy, I am still conflicted over my love-hate feelings for this book. To begin, the description is very clear and accurate in its claim that it’s not a romance. Because it is not a romance. But for a good portion of the book you’re sort of misled into thinking, ‘well, maybe it’s not a romance but the H/h have a romantic dynamic’. The dynamic is dark and often times one-sided, but it’s there.

I felt Claire’s conflict and pain. I understood her resistance to Sheperd’s dominance and control and imprisonment of her, but I still found parts of him to be redeeming. It had me hoping that they would both see the stubbornness of their ways and truly care for each other. And then you get to about the 83% mark and it’s confirmed that NOPE! Not a romance and screw Sheperd. Screw him to hell. Get out of there Claire and run for your life. Get some help. Go find Corday and really stick it to Sheperd, then.

The other two books are already out, but I think I’ll spare myself the stomach-churning hate I felt at the end of book one. Apparently, Sheperd makes the same damn mistake in the second book that made me loathe him in this one and the ending of the series is confusing and unfinished. Hopefully Addison Cain will come out with another book or series soon that I can look forward to.

Trigger warnings: dubious consent, rape, cheating, moderate violence.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Next Door Boss – Luke Steel

next door boss

Next Door Boss

94 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

Gabriel is CEO of a large building materials company. One morning, he opens the paper to find a profile of him written by a reporter that interviewed him shortly before. Portraying him as a boring, miserable monster, the article isn’t at all good for his image. His misery is interrupted by a new neighbor, Demi, hunting down her lost cat, Ray. (The scene with Ray is pretty funny, btw.) They appear to hit it off and she small talks about her new job… and then puts her foot in her mouth by referring to the aforementioned article and gossiping about her soon to be boss. Unfortunately for her, said boss is standing right before her, so when she walks into work the next morning, she’s horrified to learn of her mistake and full of shame. That’s not enough for Gabriel, though, and he intends on making her hate her job to the point that she’ll quit. And their feud begins…

Man, it almost pains me to write this review. If you refer to my previous posts, Alpha Bodyguard, Single Dad Boss, Last Hookup, it’s obvious that I like Luke Steel. So far, he’s the only male romance author I’ve found that doesn’t painfully stereotype his heroines. But I was disappointed with Next Door Boss.

Gabriel isn’t just a jerk to Demi, he’s brutal. The crap he puts her through is just humiliating and demeaning, yet she deals with it professionally. Gabriel isn’t really given much time in the story to redeem himself, so I wasn’t thrilled that Demi even entertained the idea of being with him.

Demi’s POV is a nice change of pace for Steel, as his books are usually told by the hero’s POV only, but sometimes I just wanted to throttle her. She can’t help but notice how handsome and sexy he is as he’s degradingly tearing into her? I don’t care if he’s the sexiest man alive, I would be repulsed by anyone that dreamed speak to me that way. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I was ok with the quick, HFN ending. Their relationship is brand new and I was left with little anticipation that it’d last. I just wish there was more good to Gabriel.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Single Dad Billionaire – B.B. Hamel

single dad billionaire

Single Dad Billionaire

Full-length novel 658 pages (but with bonus content)

3 ⭐⭐⭐

Everly is tasked with aiding her boss, Logan, open new a new homeless shelter and community center in town. Logan works out of his apartment and keeps Everly late most nights trying to get everything finished ASAP. Leaving one night, she opens the door to find an infant strapped into a carseat at his front door with a note from the mother telling Logan she can’t take care of Alexa, the baby, anymore. Other than the obvious, Logan has a problem on his hands. The man he’s trying to buy the land from for his project is religious and old fashioned. Afraid he’ll back out of the deal now that Logan had a child out of wedlock, he convinces Everly to marry him and go along with the story that the baby is actually hers, making Logan look like a knight in shining armor for saddling himself with a single mother.

The relationship between Logan and Everly is gradual and convincing. They’re both easy to like and relatable and their chemistry is pretty hot. As much as I liked the characters and thought the plot was reasonable, there were too many inconsistencies for me to rate this above 3 stars.

*Spoilers*

Everly has to go along with the story that Alexa is hers with everyone, including her coworkers that she’s worked with for 2 years. When Logan leaks the story of him marrying single mom Everly to the press, her colleagues start to gossip and yadda yadda behind her back. However, not a single person brings up to her that, ‘hey, we’ve seen you almost every day for the past two years and we don’t recall you being pregnant or taking time off to have said baby. WTH?’ It’s a pretty big plot hole that bugged me throughout the entire book.

My other issue is Jessica, Alexa’s mom. After the initial drop off and one conversation with Logan’s lawyer, she’s never brought up again. I realize baby’s are abandoned all the time, but apparently, she’s a lawyer, so did she just run off and throw her entire career down the drain? What happened with her? Where’s Alexa’s birth certificate? How’s Logan going to raise her without knowing even her birthdate? Abandoning your baby is a big deal and the fact that it just drops off was unrealistic.

Other than my plot hangups, the book was sweet and romantic, so if that stuff doesn’t bother you, it’s worth the read.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Violent Hearts – Linnea May

violent hearts

Violent Hearts

256 pages

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jared King is in quite the pickle. He plans on running for Congress soon, but due to a nasty rumor from years ago that smeared his character, he needs a woman willing to play the perfect girlfriend on his arm in public. There’s a caveat, however. He doesn’t actually want to date anyone, but he still has needs and is looking for a ‘freak in the sheets’ to warm his bed at night. That’s where the high-class escort service, Violent Delights, comes in.

Jared’s seen all VD has to offer and isn’t impressed. Leaving Miss Burry’s (the madam) office in a huff, he comes across Ann, a freelance reporter there to interview Miss Burry. The introduction is tense and angsty, but that only makes Jared desire Ann more. Miss B finds out about this and convinces Ann to fill out an application. It will definitely help her achieve her goal of not having to work for money once she reaches 30. Just days later, Jared purchases Ann for one-year. Let the games begin!

Gonna be honest. I didn’t like Jared in the prologue. I found him skeezy and degrading, so I wasn’t quite looking forward to the story. But my concerns were quickly dispelled. Meeting Ann brought out most of the good in Jared, primarily his vulnerabilities. His dominant side was definitely not lacking, so it helped make him appear more human and sympathetic. Then when you find out what the rumor was from his past, you just want to hug him. …then maybe do other things.

Ann was harder to connect with. She was strong and feisty, but she almost never let her walls down. It didn’t help that I got bits of info about her past but they were vague and never explained. Mainly, what’s the deal with her dad and brother?

The plot moves steadily and easily kept my interest. Just like May’s first book in the series, Violent Delights, the intimate scenes are always risqué and sometimes, uncomfortable. Worth the read.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.