Keep Me Safe (Slow Burn 1), by Maya Banks

2 Stars DNF

keep me safe

I don’t like to review DNF’s, but I tried, y’all. I really tried.

The problem with Keep Me Safe isn’t the plot. It was pretty original, mixing romantic suspense with paranormal romance. That’s why I gave it a second go (and star) after only having made it through 25% the first time. You have to be in the mood for Banks, because she loves her damsels. These aren’t KA damsels, mouthy and impulsive. These are old school Disney damsels, too stupid to refuse an apple from a stranger or prick their finger on a glowing spinning wheel. These gals are weak and need saving from the badasses who fall in love with them instantly… which can be fun to read. In fact, this theme worked particularly well in Banks’s highlander series and the first half of her KGI series, which, admittedly, takes a hilariously hard left turn.

Keep Me Safe’s major flaw isn’t the plot or characters. It’s the writing. I don’t know if Banks has jumped the shark or if she’s writing too quickly, but this book was unbelievably repetitive. In the first few chapters, Caleb confesses that he’d do it all over again at least four times. It takes away from the effect and is exhausting to read. On top of that, I know this is romance, but oh my stars, Caleb turned into such a vagina. I just could not take another redundant heartfelt speech from this “badass.” It was beyond nauseating. I quit at 66%.

Review Word Count: 246

Slow Burn

1. Keep Me Safe
2. In His Keeping
3. Safe at Last

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Silver Bastard (Silver Valley 1), by Joanna Wylde

3 Stars

silver bastard

I’ll admit, after book 4 of the Reapers MC, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one. More often than not, once an unknown author has lost her mojo, it’s because she’s gotten a publisher and a time crunch and you’ll never read anything good by her ever again. However, I was still binge watching Sons of Anarchy and I am forever the obsessive 12-year-old who, at one time, regularly watched the week’s new episode of Roswell on repeat for seven days. I figured I’d get the MC craze out of my system and what better way to do that than with a book called Silver Bastard, from a one hit wonder?

If the 3 stars didn’t already give it away, I was wrong. Unlike Reaper’s Stand, Silver Bastard had enjoyable characters engaged in a gritty and intriguing plot. Wylde also managed not to overdo the alpha role, which has been one of her struggles in the past. Puck’s just arrogant enough to keep me from rolling my eyes over hearts and flowers, but not enough to earn genuine dislike. Becca was a little bland and inconsistent, virginal at times and an old pro at this slutty biker chick gig at others. Her decisions made enough sense, even when they were frustrating. It didn’t seem like Wylde was just trying to make the story happen and fill her word count. The climax did not disappoint, nor did the epilogue. I’ll reread the next time I’m in the mood, I’m sure.

Review Word Count: 246

Reaper’s MC, by Joanna Wylde

3 Stars

reaper's mc

Motorcycle club romances have become increasingly popular since Sons of Anarchy and few writers have pulled them off. They definitely need plot with the sex and Wylde accomplishes that… mostly. I tend to exhaust a genre before moving on, so I’m going to review this series as a whole, since I read them all in four days.

Reaper’s Property
The romance felt genuine and the plot, while a touch predictable, wasn’t lazy or tiresome. It worked and could’ve easily failed. Horse was a bit of a jerk, but he’s well redeemed in the end. Marie was too judgmental and took the mistrust too far. 3 stars.

Reaper’s Legacy
Ruger delved into alphahole territory. Sophie was too hormonally impulsive and made bad decisions. They both did, so the relationship had too many highs and lows. The plot wasn’t bad, but it was surprisingly anti-climactic. 3 stars.

Devil’s Game
It wasn’t intentional, as it says in the author’s note, but this is clearly new adult. It’s not bad new adult, but you can’t switch genres in the middle of a series, so it made for a frustrating read. Futhermore, the first 40% heavily overlaps with Reaper’s Legacy, so it drags. The plot is… fine, I guess? Nothing about this one was especially engaging. 2 stars.

Reaper’s Stand
DNF: 50%. This one just… sucked. Picnic was vastly different and London was about as interesting as a tape dispenser. The chemistry wasn’t there and the plot was painfully obvious. It read like fanfic and based on the reviews, the ending is completely unrealistic, even in this Felons Be Hawt universe. I couldn’t do it. 1 star

Review Word Count (no ratings or titles): 249

It Ain’t Me Babe (Hades Hangmen 1), by Tillie Cole

2 Stars

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This is one of those books that I laughingly describe to friends who mock my reading material ::ahem, GAIL::

She’s officially forbade me to read passages aloud.

The plot sounds absolutely ludicrous, but I actually enjoyed this book. In fact, one of the problems I have with motorcycle romances is that they’re rarely truly gritty, especially with an endearing love story. I love an old school KA book, and I enjoyed Motorcycle Man, but a true MC novel is a modern day outlaw story that might scar me a little. Well, this one certainly qualifies and it does so with an original twist… though, perhaps, too original, which is why I didn’t rate it more highly. You see, mute future MC president, Styx, meets indoctrinated Christian cult victim, Mae, through a fence one day. Fifteen years later, fate brings them together, forcing him to fight for Mae’s freedom from her fundamentalist captors. Yeah. That sounds like a Mad Lib. It sure was a fun one, though, if you can get past all that rape… and the intense vulgarity… and the murder… and the frustratingly structured dialogue (stutters and Old World English). In short, while it’s a bit random and far-fetched, you’ll have no complaints about it being MC Light or plot light.

Review Word Count: 212

Series Reading Order (sans novellas)
1. It Ain’t Me Babe
2. Heart Recaptured
3. Souls Unfractured (not yet released)
4. Deep Redemption (not yet released)

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades 1), by E.L. James

1 Star

fifty shades of grey

I first read Fifty Shades in the height of its popularity, because there must be something to this, right? Spoiler alert:

I reread this series to drunkenly mock an illegal download of the movie. Two years later, I found all of my initial complaints valid. First, it’s not difficult to believe this was fanfiction, because it reads like fanfiction. We experience every selfish thought in Ana’s hateful head as we’re walked through each mundane moment of her day. During the first read, I was wondering if I had the wrong title. This wasn’t sexy at all, because nothing was happening. Once James finally got to the sex, it was just… bad…. and not because of whips. J.R. Ward totally pulled that one off and I’m not even into BDSM. It’s bad because it’s intensely repetitive and childishly worded in a super creepy way.

“I … quickly tie my hair in pigtails. …The more girly I look, perhaps the safer I’ll be from Bluebeard.”

Second, it’s not about a consensual kinky relationship or just one with an alpha male, like most paranormal romance. It’s about a woman who’s pressured to submit and share sexual quirks under threat of losing affection. It’s not that Christian spanks Ana. It’s that she cries, because she doesn’t want it. I’m no stranger to erotica, and that’s exactly why this book failed. The characters are assholes. It’s not sexy. Even if you don’t consider the relationship abusive, MY VAGINA FELT LIKE DRAGON SKIN.

Review Word Count: 246

Five Ways You Offend Women by Insulting Fifty Shades of Grey

Series Reading Order
1. Fifty Shades of Grey
2. Fifty Shades Darker
3. Fifty Shades Freed

Alternative Erotica Suggestions
Bared to You, by Sylvia Day
Knight, by Kristen Ashley (she calls him daddy, so there’s that)
Rush, by Maya Banks

Dark Prince (Dark Saga 1), by Christine Feehan

2 Stars

dark prince

I’m not sure what sounds more suffocating: sleeping in the ground or being a Carpathian’s lifemate.

Regardless, the unhealthy relationships depicted were not my reason for giving this a two star review. In fact, I was initially excited by a new series, especially one so long. Each book is told in the vein of J.R. Ward or Kresley Cole with a new couple as the focus and there are twenty-seven of them. Sadly, the first one, at least, was extremely disappointing.

While the plot was engaging enough, with its fairly original take on vampires that are more terrifying than dreamy, this book suffers most profoundly from poor writing. Drink every time someone says “do this thing for me” or Mikhail calls Raven “little one” and you’ll be dead by the midpoint. The redundancy was my biggest issue. Repeatedly, the reader is told that the Carpathians cannot survive eternity without their lifemates, or they’ll turn to darkness. We’re told in exactly the same way, multiple times, in every chapter. When the storyline FINALLY picks up, the repetitiveness STILL causes a significant lag. Furthermore, numerous errors were made in continuity, such as a character going from standing to sitting, to standing again. Ultimately, I was bored and saddened by the fact that this story had real potential and was so poorly executed. I’ll continue reading, under the hopes that the promising plot will thicken and the writing will improve exponentially.

Series Reading Order (sans novellas)
1. Dark Prince
2. Dark Desire
3. Dark Gold
4. Dark Magic
5. Dark Challenge
6. Dark Fire
7. Dark Dream
8. Dark Legend
9. Dark Guardian
10. Dark Symphony
11. Dark Descent
12. Dark Melody
13. Dark Destiny
14. Dark Hunger (manga)
15. Dark Secret
16. Dark Demon
17. Dark Celebration
18. Dark Possession
19. Dark Curse
20. Dark Slayer
21. Dark Peril
22. Dark Predator
23. Dark Storm
24. Dark Lycan
25. Dark Wolf
26. Dark Blood
27. Dark Ghost

Review Word Count: 239

Comfort Food, by Kitty Thomas

4 Stars

comfort food

For the sake of dark erotica, it’s convenient that all sex traffickers are so hot.

I jest. In all seriousness, it’s difficult to review Comfort Food when I’m not the biggest fan of the genre. I may like my fantasy consent to be occasionally dubious, but it does have to be present. Regardless, after my best friend and I decided to read the most disturbing stuff on Amazon, I’ve finished several that break that rule… and Comfort Food was the best.

Most of the dark erotica I’ve read includes an explanation for the captor’s actions. Rarely, however, do we get much insight into why the captive is accepting of her treatment. More often than not, these books are formulaic (as, admittedly, is most romance) with the lead female being imprisoned, completely rejecting her warden, and finally realizing that swallowing semen and having orgasms feels better than being viciously beaten. Sometimes the anti-hero and his slave come to an agreement and live happily ever after… just like Disney.

Comfort Food broke that mold, though. Through much of this book, Emily examines Master’s actions and her response, attempting to use her background in psychology to fight her feelings and break free. In fact, if this book suffers from anything, it’s that Master’s motives are laughably weak. I, literally, guffawed. While Emily initially gives in waaaay too easily, ultimately, the twist was surprising and if it’s your thing, the sex scenes are awesome. Within the genre, this title has earned its four stars.

Stand Alone

Review Word Count: 250

 

Claimed (Brides of the Kindred 1), by Evangeline Anderson

1 Star

claimed

The most important part of writing a book review is to consider a title solely within its own genre, taking care not to compare East of Eden to The Hunger Games… and Claimed still gets one star. Intended as campy sci fi erotica, this isn’t the next Star Trek, so much as the next Deepthroat Nine… and I was cool with that. The problem was that, even after pinpointing the author’s target, Claimed was still one of the worst things that has ever happened to me (of course, I recommend it as a Hate Read).

The tale opens with some vague back story, about how the Kindred saved Earth from the Scourge for the low, low price of our ladies. There exist three species of Kindred. Beast Kindred are larger, angrier, and have penises that swell up so they get stuck to their gals while they Forever Bond. Tranqs are basically alien vampires. Twins are exactly as kinky and incestuous as they sound. Alrighty. Let’s have some alien sexy times… or not.

While there were a few sex scenes in this erotica, it’s mostly just angst. The heroine is completely unwilling and hateful, despite having feelings for the hero. The hero is heartbroken that he’s unwanted. The household appliances are alien creatures… and that’s about it. We get just a glimpse of the villain, because he’s not sexy, but mostly we read about how miserable the leads are, which is not even hawt on a completely ridiculous alien spaceship.

Series Reading Order
1. Claimed
2. Hunted
3. Sought
4. Found
5. Revealed
6. Pursued
7. Exiled
8. Shadowed
9. Chained
10. Divided
11. Devoured
12. Enhanced
13. Cursed
14. Enslaved
15. Targeted

Review Word Count: 250

This Man (This Man 1), by Jodi Ellen Malpas

1 Star

this man

Have you ever bitten into a burger only to get one of those hard bits of cartilage? This book is like that.

Being a fan of alpha males, this series was recommended to me numerous times, before I finally decided to give it a try. This, however, was one of those books that actually took me multiple tries to even finish. Not only was the text bursting with Britishisms to the extent of rendering it nearly unreadable, but the characters were deplorable. Jesse was batcrap crazy, Ava a moronic masochist, and I’m pretty sure Kate was the worst best friend since Wormtail betrayed the Potters.

Worse even, than muddling through stories of people I hated and their “jumpers” and “posh flats”, were the stories themselves. This Man has literally no plot to move it forward, save for the rapey and psychotic romance. The sex is plentiful, but it’s so redundant and unappealing, with descriptions of “hot minty breath” that I was left dry as the Sahara, as well as bored. As a mystery, the Big Reveal is weak. As a romance, the relationship is abusive. As erotica, my vagina felt like sandpaper. I do, however, regularly recommend this one to those fans of The Hate Read.

Series Reading Order
1. This Man
2. Beneath This Man
3. This Man Confessed

Review Word Count: 218