Category Archives: Rated C

Review: Liberty by Ginger Jamison

libertyTitle: Liberty by Ginger Jamison
A Redemption Novel (Book One)
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Kimani Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

A man she thought she knew. A passion beyond her wildest fantasies…

When Ryan Beecher returns home after a long deployment overseas, Lexy barely recognizes her husband. The man who left Texas for Afghanistan was cruel and abusive. The man who comes back to her is a badly injured stranger with amnesia—and no memory of their life together.

Lexy can’t believe how much Ryan has changed. The wounded marine is now gentle, caring and tender. And his touch awakens yearnings she’s never felt before. As he takes them both to the point of no return, can Lexy trust this lover who seems to live only for her pleasure…as he seeks his salvation in her healing embrace?

A poignant and erotic story of longing, secrets and second chances, Liberty explores the limits of desire and the boundaries of love.

The Review:

In Liberty, the first novel in Ginger Jamison’s Redemption series, Lexy Beecher barely recognizes her abusive husband, Ryan, when he returns home after he is injured in Afghanistan. While he (mostly) looks like the same man who left, he certainly does not act like the same man she feared for most of her marriage. Which makes her wonder, is he the same man?

One of only two men who survived an attack in Afghanistan, Ryan Beecher returns to the small town of Liberty with very few memories. He has absolutely no memory of his wife, Lexy, and in fact, everything he learns about his ten year marriage seems like it happened to a different person. Ryan may not recognize anyone or anything, but one thing is for certain. Lexy is his lifeline in the midst of turmoil and he will do everything in his power to convince her he is not the abusive man he once was.

Lexy has endured a lot over the course of her marriage but she has been carefully planning her escape from her abusive husband. She just has not been able to save up enough to leave when Ryan is injured. Although her love for Ryan ended long ago, she still rushes to his bedside and aids him during his recovery. There are a few alterations to his physical appearance, but she chalks them up to Ryan getting in shape for the Marine and his subsequent injuries. Of course, he is also much kinder and gentler but again, she easily excuses his differences to his time in the military and his injuries. What Lexy finds most troubling is her unexpected (and unwanted) sexual attraction for Ryan. How can she possibly be attracted to the man who physically and emotionally abused her for so many years?

The new Ryan is an absolute delight and I could easily see why Lexy is so drawn to him. He is patient, kind, considerate and loving-in other words, the complete opposite of the man he used to be. He is stunned and horrified by not only the things he is told he did to Lexy, but by his friends and their appalling treatment of her. Ryan has no connection to his past career or loves and the longer he is in Liberty, the more sure he is that a horrible mistake has been made.

I really wanted to love Liberty-the ingredients are there for an incredible story, but I just had a difficult time connecting to Lexy. I felt sorry for the horror she experienced at the hands of her husband, but I just could not believe that she did not leave during the two years he was gone. The reason behind her staying is compelling, but her life is literally on the line and I could not comprehend her not moving away at some point during his absence. But what I had the hardest thing believing is she would willingly go to Ryan during his hospital stay and then bring him back into her home. The abuse storyline is just too realistic to convince me that Lexy would want anything to do with Ryan after everything he did to her over the years.

There were things I liked about Liberty. I adored the new Ryan and how he patiently waited for Lexy to overcome her fears. Their sex scenes are a beautiful mix of sweet and sexy and I loved watching Lexy experience the romantic side of lovemaking. Seeing Lexy finally put the horrors of her past behind her is also incredibly gratifying.

All in all, a lovely beginning to Ginger Jamison’s Redemption series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Ginger Jamison, Harlequin, Kimani Press, Liberty, Rated C, Redemption Series, Review, Romance

Review: Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins

lydia'sTitle: Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins
Publisher: Viking Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

For fans of Anne Tyler and Anna Quindlen, a mesmerizing portrait of friendship that explores seven women’s lives with a generous embrace and wondrous wisdom

Lydia is having a party—it’s a party she hosts every year for six women friends who treasure the midwinter bash. Over a table laden with a feast of food and wine, the women revel in sharing newsy updates, simmering secrets, and laughter. As this particular evening unfolds, Lydia prepares to make a shattering announcement.

As we follow these friends through their party preparations, we meet flawed but lovable characters who are navigating the hassles of daily chores while also meditating in stolen moments on their lives, their regrets, their complicated relationships, and their deepest desires. When Lydia’s announcement shocks them all, they rediscover the enduring bonds of friendship and find their lives changing in unexpected ways.

Tender, wryly funny, and exquisitely written, Lydia’s Party poignantly considers both the challenges of everyday life and of facing our fears while creating characters whose fears, foibles, and feistiness will capture readers’ hearts.

The Review:

Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins is a bittersweet and melancholy novel about the intricate bonds of longtime friendship. A yearly gathering of former co-workers turned friends, this year’s Bleak Winter Bash will forever change their lives and ultimately, their friendship.

As Lydia prepares to host this year’s gathering, she is very contemplative about the friendships that have endured for close to twenty years. She is also very reflective as she thinks back on her various relationships and her career decisions. While Lydia is content with some decisions, she is regretful for others and clearly sees where she might have done things differently.

Interspersed with Lydia’s musings are chapters written from some of her guests’ perspectives as they prepare for the upcoming party. All but Lydia have moved on from the community college where they originally met. They are an eclectic blend of happily married, divorced and single women who have found various degrees of personal and professional success. But overall, they, too, suffer from different levels of dissatisfaction about how their lives have turned out.

The characters are well-developed and their honesty about their lives and their friendships is refreshing. While I was not able to relate to the women’s situations or their regrets, their life lessons are interesting and thought-provoking. The story begins strongly but it eventually becomes bogged down in superfluous details that seem to add little to the developing plot. However the end of the novel is fast paced and the growth of the characters is quite impressive.

Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins is a moving novel of friendship and loss, and it is a timely reminder to live life to its fullest. It is a little sad, but it is also uplifting as each of the women emerges from tragedy a little bit stronger. All in all, a worthwhile read that explores the bonds of friendship.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Lydia's Party, Margaret Hawkins, Rated C, Review, Viking Adult

Review: Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Title: Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Historical
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

ONE MOMENT IN TIME CAN HAUNT YOU FOREVER.

Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget . . .

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

The Review:

Diane Setterfield’s Bellman & Black is an eerie ghost story set in England during the Victorian era. William Bellman’s business successes are haunted by personal tragedy and in an effort to save his daughter from an untimely death, he enters into a bargain with a rather mysterious figure known only as Black.

Bellman & Black begins with the fateful day that ten year old William Bellman takes aim with his slingshot and kills a rook. We then follow William into adulthood where he becomes a successful businessman running the family mill, marries and fathers several children. He suffers many tragic losses and instead of mourning those deaths, William instead buries his grief in work. When faced with the prospect of losing his entire family during an epidemic, William makes a deal with a figure that has haunted him at various times in his life.

The first half of Bellman & Black is fast paced and quite interesting. William is a fascinating and intelligent character with extraordinary business acumen. He finds happiness in his personal life but he always remains very work oriented. The atmosphere of the story during this part of the story is light and rather hopeful despite William’s ominous and unexplained sightings of a rather ghostly figure that appears after he experiences a loss.

It is at the mid-point of the novel that it takes a dark turn and the pacing becomes slow. The story becomes mired down in superfluous details and seems to lose focus after William strikes a vague deal with the ethereal Mr. Black and embarks on another business venture. The rest of the novel centers around the new business and Mr. Black seems to disappear.

Although it is not a typical ghost story, there is a supernatural quality to Bellman & Black. Diane Setterfield’s research is meticulous and her attention to detail provides added depth and interest to the storyline. The plot is quite unique and there are some very interesting twists and turn. The ending is well done and answers a few of the questions that haunt William (and the reader) for much of the novel.

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Filed under Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Bellman & Black, Diane Setterfield, Historical, Rated C, Review

Blog Tour Stop, Review & Contest: Being Me by Lisa Renee Jones

Title: Being Me by Lisa Renee Jones
Inside Out Trilogy Book Two
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Imprint: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance, Mystery, BDSM
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publicist

Summary:

I arch into him, drinking in his passion, instantly, willingly consumed by all that he is and could be to me. . . .

Sara McMillan is still searching for Rebecca, the mysterious woman whose dark, erotic journal entries both enthralled and frightened her. Tormented by a strong desire to indulge the demands of her new boss while also drawn deeper into her passionate bond with the troubled artist, Chris Merit, Sara must face a past as deeply haunting as Rebecca’s written words. In one man’s arms, Sara will find the safe haven to reveal her most intimate secrets and explore her darkest fantasies. But is safety just an illusion, when the truth about Rebecca has yet to be discovered?

The Review:

Being Me is the angst-laden second novel in Lisa Renee Jones’ Inside Out trilogy. Picking up right where If I Were You leaves off, readers are thrust back into Sara McMillan’s dysfunctional relationship with Chris Merit and her investigation into Rebecca Mason’s disappearance.

While If I Were You focused mainly on Sara trying to uncover what happened to Rebecca, Being Me centers on Sara and Chris’s on again/off tumultuous relationship. The confident and independent Sara we encountered in the first book of the trilogy has been replaced by an insecure, dithering, jealous mess whose indecisiveness is beyond frustrating. Chris and Sara are tortured by their respective pasts and neither one of them can trust the other person enough to confide their secrets. Their relationship is full of steaming hot sex but their underlying issues continually tear them apart. The entire book is a rollercoaster of drama that never gets resolved and the ride is exhausting.

I liked Sara in the first book, but I absolutely could not stand her in Being Me. She is overly dramatic, prone to jumping to conclusions and just flat out wishy washy. She cannot stick to a decision to save her life and she constantly gives in to Chris’s demands. Her emotions are all over the place and her tendency to dissolve into hysterical sobs is exasperating. Unless she grows a backbone in Revealing Us, the final book in the trilogy, it appears that Sara is doomed to repeat the mistakes of her past.

Whereas Sara is an open book, Chris remains shrouded in mystery. He is dark, edgy and commanding but in Being Me, he is also vulnerable. While we see more of his compassionate and caring side, his secrets remain carefully hidden. The lack of information about what drives him becomes annoying as he continues to manipulate Sara and their relationship.

The mystery about what happened to Rebecca is what I found most intriguing. The investigation is haphazard and seems to be an afterthought to overall storyline. Fortunately the questions surrounding her disappearance are revealed in a surprising plot twist.

Being Me ends on another cliffhanger as Chris makes a decision that threatens the future of his and Sara’s relationship. There is also the unresolved mystery surrounding Sara’s friend Ella’s whereabouts. Are these two storylines about to converge? It certainly appears they might and it will be interesting to see how Lisa Renee Jones wraps up the Inside Out trilogy.


Title: If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones
Inside Out Trilogy Book One
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Imprint: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance, Mystery
Length: 352 pages

Summary:

The steamy first installment in the Inside Out erotic romance trilogy by Lisa Renee Jones, in the bestselling tradition of Fifty Shades of Grey.

When Sara McMillan finds a stack of journals in a storage unit, she’s shocked and enthralled by the erotic life the writer led. Unable to stop reading, she vicariously lives out dark fantasies through Rebecca, the writer—until the terrifying final entry.

Certain something sinister has happened, Sara sets out to discover the facts, immersing herself in Rebecca’s life. Soon she’s working at the art gallery Rebecca worked at and meeting Rebecca’s friends. Finding herself drawn to two dangerously sexy men, the manager of the gallery and a famed artist, Sara realizes she’s going down the same path Rebecca took. But with the promise of her dark needs being met by a man with confident good looks and a desire for control, she’s not sure anything else matters. Just the burn for more.


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Filed under BDSM, Being Me, Contemporary, Contest, Erotic, Gallery Books, Inside Out Trilogy, Lisa Renee Jones, Mystery, Rated C, Review, Romance, Simon & Schuster Inc

Review: Texas Pride by Kindle Alexander

Title: Texas Pride by Kindle Alexander
Publisher: The Kindle Alexander Collection LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance
Length: 318 pages/ 113,000 words
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author

Summary:

When mega movie star and two time Academy Award winner, Austin Grainger voluntarily gave up his dazzling film career, his adoring fan base thought he’d lost his mind. For Austin, the seclusion of fifteen hundred acres in the middle of Texas sounds like paradise. No more cameras, paparazzi, or overzealous media to hound him every day and night. Little did the sexiest man alive know when one door closes, another usually opens. And Austin’s opened by way of a sexy, hot ranch owner right next door.

Kitt Kelly wasn’t your average rancher. He’s young, well educated and has hidden his sexuality for most of his life. When his long time wet dream materializes as his a new neighbor it threatens everything he holds dear. No way the ranching community would ever accept him if he came out. With every part of his life riding on the edge, can Kitt risk it all for a chance at love or will responsibility to his family heritage cost him his one chance at happiness?

The Review:

Kindle Alexander’s Texas Pride is a highly erotic romance between two deeply closeted men. Austin Grainger is a highly successful actor whose return to his small hometown in Texas puts him in close proximity to his super sexy (and hopefully gay) next door neighbor cowboy Kitt Kelly.

Austin Grainger and Kitt Kelly are fabulous main protagonists. The sexual chemistry between them is sizzling and their sex scenes are steamy and plentiful. Their relationship is based solely on sexual attraction at first but it does not take long for the men to fall in love. Both characters’ reasons for keeping their homosexuality hidden are valid and I could understand their fears of coming out.

For being a Hollywood superstar, Austin is pretty down to earth. He knows what he wants and is willing to go after it. Austin is loyal to his friends and I really like how he went out of his way to help his fake girlfriend when she spiraled out of control. However, I really disliked how he handled a pivotal situation near the end of the story.

While I did enjoy Texas Pride, the novel is slow moving. There are a lot of sub-plots, and while some advanced the overall story, a couple of the story arcs late in the book came out of the blue and seemed unnecessary. Some of the plot is predictable and repetitive. There are numerous editing errors, misspellings and misused words.

My final impression of Texas Pride? An entertaining romance with likable protagonists. Maybe not as grounded in reality as other books in the genre, but definitely a worthwhile read.

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Filed under Contemporary, Erotic, Kindle Alexander, M/M, Rated C, Review, Romance, Texas Pride, The Kindle Alexander Collection LLC