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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: "Captive in the Dark" by C.J. Roberts



The Blurb:
Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For twelve years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.

Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.

WARNING: This book contains very disturbing situations, dubious consent, strong language, and graphic violence.

Ughhh. I bowed out after the enema scene. Nope nope nope. DNF

Okay, follow up: I circled back around to it and finished it. Doesn't change my opinion. Admittedly, I have a heavy bias against this sort of storyline. I used to work with survivors of DV, sex assault, and trafficking. This topic is simply not sexy to me in any way, shape, or form. It's not "dark romance". It is rape. Rape, rape, rape. Oh, let's not forget the emotional and physical abuse that accompanies it. And the isolation. And the humiliation.

I'll be very honest, as a survivor of violence, this was very difficult for me to read. I would caution other survivors to be emotionally prepared going into this. Some may love it (apparently many do). Some may reallllly struggle, as I did. I guess it's just a matter of perspective.

Do you read it as a gritty realistic narrative of survival and adaptation in the face of something truly awful? Or do you read it under the assumption that you're somehow supposed to be rooting for Caleb to "be a better man" and realize how special his captive is, that she's "different from all the others". You know, the others he casually mentions he has ALSO tortured, raped, and sold. Ugh.


New idea: Caleb is locked in a room with Xena.

Sooo yeah, in summary, I hope Caleb dies a horrible death at some point. Preferably after he's been castrated. But judging by how the book ends, I won't hold my breath (and I'll never know, because I have no plans to read the sequels). So all I can say is, this book left me angry. I stayed up half the night reading another book just to get this one out of my mind before sleep.

Review: Michael's Passion by Joel Crofoot

The Blurb:

The Archangel Michael's passion for life has recently begun to wane. He has isolated himself from the other angels and become complacent on the job. When a slip up in a fight causes him to be cast out of heaven the furthest thing on Michael's mind is helping a demon, until he meets Jahi. Now Michael must face a dilemma he never could have imagined. With Michael already cast out of heaven, what will happen to him if he falls in love with a demon?

Jahi has finally returned to earth with her demanding boss, only to find herself captured by the Archangel Michael. Now she must decide if she can give up the freedom she has sought for so long or return to a life of prostitution, and Michael’s passion for her makes this a decision Jahi can’t take lightly.

Caution: This book contains scenes that are intended for adults only. You probably won't want to bring it to church with you.



I’ve been reading a lot of stories about angels lately. This one did not disappoint. What a sexy twist on the forbidden love storyline!

First of all, Michael and Jahi have some excellent chemistry. I loved the tension and the suspenseful aspect of not always knowing if Jahi was for real or not (because demon). And I especially love the naughtiness of taking a well-known archangel that everyone has heard of and having him fall in love with a demon temptress!

I’m always a sucker for stories that humanize the inhuman.


...Well, almost always.

I admittedly devoured this book in just one sitting, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next one! 

Pssssst! A little bird tells me the sequel, Ramatel's Vow, is free on Amazon right now!
 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Review: Blackwood by Celia Aaron




 The Blurb:

I dig. It’s what I do. I’ll literally use a shovel to answer a question. Some answers, though, have been buried too deep for too long. But I’ll find those, too. And I know where to dig—the Blackwood Estate on the edge of the Mississippi Delta. Garrett Blackwood is the only thing standing between me and the truth. A broken man—one with desires that dance in the darkest part of my soul—he’s either my savior or my enemy. I’ll dig until I find all his secrets. Then I’ll run so he never finds mine. The only problem? He likes it when I run.

Author’s Note: This is a standalone mystery/suspense romance with violence and explicit/intense sex. If you need a trigger warning, then this isn't the book for you.


I dig men with tats and beards. You may have noticed from…a few…of my prior reviews.



Pure coincidence.

The story begins with Elise, an archaeology Ph.D. student, wanting to dig around Garrett Blackwood’s land to look for remnants of Native American settlements…and ya know, see if she can dig up her missing/presumed dead father. As you do.

Blackwood is a private guy, not interested in Elise’s plans in the least. Elise isn’t deterred and takes the liberty of signing off on his permission to proceed. What could go wrong?

What’s that? The woods are haunted with the screams of women near his house? Blackwood has some truly dark desires when it comes to his sexual predilections? Elise gets maimed by wild animals and stuck with said sadist?



The motivations for Elise were complex and gave this hot n’ sexy plot a little extra mmphh. But who am I kidding, I’d have read it anyways. Blackwood's dialogue is witty, sexy as hell, and manages to land in the alpha male zone without being douchy. That's a thin line to tread. Bravo! That being said, I’d caution anyone who has a history of trauma to take a look at the content warnings before diving into this one. It may not be for everyone.

For my part, though, this was hot hot hot! Andddd it came with a full-length copy of Counsellor, another very dark series which I’m now stuck on as well. Win win.



Review: Counsellor by Celia Aaron



The Blurb: 
 
In the heart of Louisiana, the most powerful people in the South live behind elegant gates, mossy trees, and pleasant masks. Once every ten years, the pretense falls away and a tournament is held to determine who will rule them. The Acquisition is a crucible for the Southern nobility, a love letter written to a time when barbarism was enshrined as law.

Now, Sinclair Vinemont is in the running to claim the prize. There is only one way to win, and he has the key to do it — Stella Rousseau, his Acquisition. To save her father, Stella has agreed to become Sinclair's slave for one year. Though she is at the mercy of the cold, treacherous Vinemont, Stella will not go willingly into darkness.

As Sinclair and Stella battle against each other and the clock, only one thing is certain: The Acquisition always ends in blood.

Full disclosure: This book is a dark romance with elements of slavery, violence, BDSM, and super-hot sex. It is the first of a series and ends on a cliffhanger. If you're good with these caveats, enjoy.



Oh man, I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I thought I understood the premise: sexy alpha in a powerful position compels woman to sign a contract agreeing to be his “slave” for a year. Simple. To the point. I can dig.


Looks…I mean, sounds…horrible.

But oh no. There’s so much more. It’s so fucking dark and messed up. I shall try to explain, but be warned, here be spoilers:

Stella’s dad is about to be sentenced to life in prison for some kind of stock-trading fraud. The district attorney, Sinclair Vinemont, sees an opportunity. He blackmails Stella into becoming his live-in slave in exchange for keeping her father out of prison.

The Vinemonts are a very powerful family, one of many in the Louisiana bayou. Old money. And old money has some very particular and very fucked up traditions involving orgies, sex slaves, and weird competitions designed solely to humiliate and degrade said sex slaves. Enter Stella’s contract.

Yeah. Not so much with the sexy. More with the suspense, fear, and pending degradation that Vinemont seems to have no qualms with. The rest of the plot follows Stella as she attempts to manage her situation and survive the emotional (and physical) tortures inflicted upon her. She never knows what awaits her next, and Vinemont won’t tell her.

Still, they develop a weird sort of bond, which admittedly results in some wicked hot sex scenes.



But then I’m still not sure I should be rooting for him? I really, really want to…


...That I should talk to a shrink.

It ends on a cliffy, and I have to say I was totally enthralled and went ahead with the second (which I’ve also already finished). I only give it 4 stars because there are bits that admittedly have me falling out of my comfort zone (huh, didn’t even know I had one of those). Holy sh*t I’ve finally been triggered!

But damn, this is a captivating story and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what this whole “Acquisition” power game is even about! Looking forward to finishing the series!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Review: Bossman by Vi Keeland

The Blurb:

The first time I met Chase Parker, I didn't exactly make a good impression.

I was hiding in the bathroom hallway of a restaurant, leaving a message for my best friend to save me from my awful date.

He overheard and told me I was a bitch, then proceeded to offer me some dating advice.

So I told him to mind his own damn business―his own tall, gorgeous, full-of-himself damn business―and went back to my miserable date.

When he walked by my table, he smirked, and I watched his arrogant, sexy ass walk back to his date.

I couldn't help but sneak hidden glances at the condescending jerk on the other side of the room. Of course, he caught me on more than one occasion, and winked.

When the gorgeous stranger and his equally hot date suddenly appeared at our table, I thought he was going to rat me out.

But instead, he pretended we knew each other and joined us―telling elaborate, embarrassing stories about our fake childhood.

My date suddenly went from boring to bizarrely exciting.

When it was over and we parted ways, I thought about him more than I would ever admit, even though I knew I'd never see him again.

I mean, what were the chances I'd run into him again in a city with eight million people?Then again...

What were the chances a month later he'd wind up being my new sexy boss?

 
I got the audible for this book, and I think I might have liked it better had I not. This is my first Vi Keeland book, though I’ve heard so much about her work from friends and bloggers on GR. Part of my issue with the audible was the cheesiness of the voices. Chase sounds like Batman whenever the male is reading from his POV, and he sounds like a Cali surfer douchebag impression (as done by a woman) when Keeland is reading in his voice.



The story itself is solid, written well. There were parts that were unbelievably sexy, no doubt. But I guess the hurdle I couldn’t get over here was the dynamic between the two, which duh…is right in the title. Every time Chase would do something inappropriate I found myself going “OMFG YOU DESERVE TO GET SUED!”



The backstory is compelling, and I like that they both shared a history of trauma that they could bond over. I think I would have been happier with the story if Reese had simply resigned when she decided she wanted to nail Chase. I think it was a bit demeaning to have her literally repeat the same mistake twice in a row. And then towards the end it really felt an awful lot like she was just following after him like a puppy, begging for a chance, while Chase was like “N’aw. Reasons.”

Maybe I’m just a soulless asshole who doesn’t get “true love”. I’d have taken him at his word and moved right the eff on.

Review: Silver Blood by Emma Hamm


The Blurb:

A PROPHECY TO FULFILL

Two hundred years ago, our world changed forever. Two realms combined in an explosion of magic. One morning everything was normal and the next? Every human body was host to another magical creature who had thoughts and a mind of its own. However, with power comes darkness. Someone wants to wipe this earth clean and will stop at nothing to consume it.

SHE IS NOT A HERO

Or so she thought. Wren had grown up with another voice in her head but had never considered herself magical. She doesn't have the talents other people have. She certainly doesn't have the abilities anyone else has. But she is charming and manages her business quite well. She deals in emotions and makes people happy. It's a simple life, but it's hers.

HE THINKS SHE COULD BE

Burke was a bodyguard first and always. He had been sent to collect her and deliver her in person to the most powerful creatures in their world. But the moment he steps through the broken door of her shop, his world changes forever. She's strange. She's uncomfortable. And she's so damned beautiful. He is convinced she is part of a prophecy that can save their world.

But how to convince her?



Okay, review time! I’ve read quite a few books over the past few weeks, but this one was definitely one of my favorites!

To start, Hamm’s fantastical world consists of human beings that play host to magical entities, a coexistence that is necessary for their survival. There is a LOT of exposition to get through in the early parts of the book, but it was well worth it. Sometimes I read books and have no use for all of the information provided up front, but Hamm creates a world that justifies such an exposition.

The main character, Wren, is a juice seller (“juice” is actually emotions). It reminds me of one of those fantasy RPGs I used to play on Xbox.


“Oh Guildmasterrrrr….”

Anyways, Wren also has an unknown magical entity inside of her, referred to as “E”. Apparently this is unusual in Wren’s world, as we get labels/abilities for other types of magical entities, but Wren knows very little about her own.

Which brings me to Burke. His magical entity is a Dream Walker, which means they can go inside peoples’ dreams and even make changes to the dream (and vice versa, the dreamer can start to control them as well).


A concept I can get on board with.

There is a slow burn buildup with Wren and Burke, which I (of course) loved. My only complaint was that I would have liked to see a longer (and more descriptive) love scene, because I’m a romance junkie/perv and I just spent 250 pages waiting for these 2 to seal the deal!!!


I am what I am. Sorry.

Hamm is very attentive to detail and I can tell this story was created with a lot of imagination and love. Awesome cover art as well! A great read, especially for those who really enjoy the fantasy genre. 5 stars!

Review: Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh


The Blurb: 
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option—even if the task is impossible.

Because this time, it's not a wayward vamp she has to track. It's an archangel gone bad.

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor's edge of passion. Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just might. For when archangels play, mortals break.


 Ahhh I’ve been waiting to write this review until I had the time to properly GUSH.

As I write this, I’ve already finished the next book in the series, eager to press on. Singh has created a world where angels roam the earth freely, along with the vampires they create. Elena’s job is to hunt rogue vampires, contracted by an overseeing organization called “The Guild”. Elena is the best in her field, a natural born hunter (what that means and the advantages/disadvantages are a continuing story in which we get little snippets here and there).

Elena is my kind of heroine. She’s badass, she takes no shit, and her pride alone has given her balls of steel and a penchant for talking her way into trouble. So when the archangel Raphael hires Elena to do a hunt for him, he gets a little more than he bargained for. The chemistry between these two was amazing. The way their personalities are explored, Elena with her traumatic past, Raphael suffering from the ennui and apathy associated with being so damn old, they just work.

Then there are all of the side characters, characters that I dearly hope will get their own books in time. Dmitri, Raphael's most powerful vampire, is sex incarnate. Illium, the beautiful and cocky angel with blue feathers. I would read their stories in a heartbeat.

I got this book on audible, and I have to say this is by far the best audible I’ve ever purchased. Singh reads this dialogue in a way that gives each character their own personality without sounding cheesy. No deep, ridiculous attempts at a Batman voice. Her characters are diverse citizens of the world, and she reads them as such, accents and all. Without this audible component, I would not have imagined the characters in the way they were intended, which would have been my loss.

With that in mind, I think my favorite bits of dialogue are the simplest. Singh puts SO much emotion behind even the smallest sentences. “Yes,” is a phrase that gets repeated often, yet each time it gets me, because there is always so much wrapped up in that single word, no matter who is saying it.

When I was younger, I was OBSESSED with the early Anita Blake novels, and have yet to find their equal until now. Singh is officially my current “favorite” author. All the stars!!!!