Thursday, March 29, 2012

Curio by Cara McKenna

Why I read it: Various of my Twitter pals had been raving about this one and I finally picked it up in the St. Pats day sales.

What it's about: It's a man-whore book!!  Here's the blurb from Goodreads - Caroly Evardt never expected to find herself patronizing a male prostitute. Then again, she never expected to be weeks from her thirtieth birthday and still a virgin.

When a friend mentions that a gorgeous male model in Paris sells his body as well as his image, Caroly's intrigued. Finally, a chance to sample the gifts of a beautiful man—no strings, no stakes, no fear of rejection.

But she soon discovers that Didier Pedra amounts to more than a striking face and talented body. He's a kind, charming, damaged man, and after a few evenings of pleasurable education, Caroly's interest blossoms into something far deeper than mere lust. Her simple arrangement is suddenly feeling downright dangerous

What worked for me (and what didn't):  I expected erotic - after all, it's a man-whore book!  (The author herself calls it that, so it is not an insult).  What I didn't expect was the emotional depth it contained.  At just over 100 pages, this story packs a punch.  Didier was gorgeous and oh so sexy but also deeply vulnerable.  

The story is told from Caroly's first person POV (and yes, her name is explained int he text - it is not a typo!).  She has a dry, self-deprecating wit which I appreciated

I was an extremely homely kid, growing up in northern New Hampshire.  I wasn't quite the ugly duckling who blossomed into a beautiful swan... I merely developed into an okay-looking duck.
and this
I could walk down his street and be like everyone else.  I could have a lover.  This is Paris, after all.  Having a lover is like having a pancreas.

Fortunately for me, the hero-centric reader, there is a quite a lot of dialogue in the story so I felt I did get to know Didier a little.  He was so much more on the page than just a pretty face and gorgeous body.   I would have been happy to read what happens next, but I appreciated that the story was told by the time the book ended.

I found the book compelling and so much more than merely erotic - although, make no mistake, it is that too.

What else? I was actually getting quite nervous toward the end that the magic would be spoiled by a disastrous ending - even though I had been assured before I bought the book that all would be well. The resolution was hopeful and fairly happy but a bit on the unusual side and there were some things unresolved (- for example, would Didier continue to work as a prostitute?) and there was an element of unbelievability to it but I was happy to accept the fairy tale and go along with it.

This was a very sexy and also very moving read.  When I finished it, I had a ridiculous smile on my face and all I could say was "wow".

Grade:  A-

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fair Game by Patricia Briggs, narrated by Holter Graham

Why I read it:  I'm a fan of this series.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind.

Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can't afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father's dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.

Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack's help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer's sights...

What worked for me (and what didn't): Well, first off, the blurb is wrong - not all of the victims were werewolves, some were humans and some were fae/half-fae.    The rest is okay though. :)

Starting around the time River Marked (Mercy Thompson book 6) finishes this is a clever, tightly plotted story, where the romance aspects between Charles and Anna are neatly interwoven between the investigating-the-serial-killer part.  I'd say that the romance aspect wasn't quite as much to the forefront as has been the case in other books, but it was definitely there and the rest of the story was so absorbing anyway that it was engrossing right from the start.  I kept finding excuses to listen to it - more housework, more cooking, taking the long way home! :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Forbidden Fantasies by Jodie Griffin

Why I read it:  I picked this new release from Carina Press up at NetGalley and the blurb looked interesting.  I do love books featuring established couples dealing with a conflict.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  After fifteen years of marriage, Jessica Meyers's sex life is, well, a little predictable. Her handsome husband turns her on, but missionary style once or twice a week? It just can't compare to the hot new world she discovers in the pages of erotic romances. Her fantasies fuel the fire of her desire, adding a new spark to her and Alex's lovemaking. But Jess is afraid to tell her husband what she really wants in bed—and her secrets start coming between them.

State trooper Alex Meyers is a master at uncovering the truth—except when it comes to his sweet, shy wife. She's clearly keeping something from him. An affair? She wants out? When he finally confronts Jess, he's shocked to learn she wants to turn her forbidden fantasies into nightly realities. But when he takes her to a unique B and B—Bondage and Breakfast—catering to couples and multiples, Alex is about to find out just how far he'll go.

What worked for me (and what didn't):  This is a little gem of a book.  It's short, just under 85 pages, but Ms. Griffin managed to tell a complete story in that space, in a way that I found very engaging.  I've often thought it is harder to write short than long (this from a person who can't shut up!).  Some of the things that make it easier to tell a whole story in that time is to have an established couple (check) and to keep the story relatively simple (ie, not multiple conflicts/storylines) (check again).  Sometimes, a story like that can be boring however.  This one was not.  Not at all.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander

Why I read it: I've seen this one recommended by a number of trusted reviewers to I took the plunge. I'm glad I did - it was certainly worth my time and it was a bargain at $2.99 on the Kindle.

What it's about: (from Goodreads) A male prostitute, a mangy cat, a murder and a maniacal mix-up that threatens his career, his impending marriage and his life. Nothing is going as planned for Austin Glass.
Austin  seems to have it all. At least on the surface. A loving fiancee. A future with the FBI and a healthy sized trust fund. He also has a grin and a wisecrack for every situation. But the smile he presents to everyone hides a painful past he’s buried too deeply to remember. And his quips mask bitterness and insecurity. Austin has himself and most of the whole world fooled. Until he meets someone who immediately sees him better than he sees himself.   As events unfold and Austin’s world unravels, he finds himself pushed into making quick life-changing decisions. But can he trust Peter or what’s happening between them when each meeting seems to be just a series of volatile reactions?

What worked for me (and what didn't):  This quirky m/m romance come detective novel comes with bags of humour, an engaging, if very large, cast of characters and angsty goodness to top it all off.  Told in Austin's 1st person POV (except for a brief flashback scene in Peter's POV), the writing style is light and funny, with Austin delivering cracking one-liners, mainly at his own expense.  His characterisation is very consistent and his arc is believable.  Events shortly before the commencement of the book have left him ripe for an implosion and, when he meets bunny-slipper wearing Peter at a diner when he's waiting for an informant, his heretofore buried homosexuality makes itself known - along with all the baggage he's been hiding as well.  Austin's life - his job, his relationship with fiancee Angelica, his relationship with his co-workers and his plans to join the FBI are all threatened by his burgeoning feelings for Peter.  But, can he be trusted?  It seems that almost every word coming out of Peter's mouth is a lie.   There is enough there however, for Austin to keep coming back.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant

Why I read it: I've been hearing about this book since way before it's release with big raps for it from Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches Trashy Books) and Jane Litte (Dear Author) - initially on their DBSA podcasts.  After it's release I bought it fairly quickly but it stayed on my TBR.  I think I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype.  Anyway, I recently decided to bite the bullet.   

Did it live up to the hype?  Yes.  Yes it did.

What it's about: (blurb from Goodreads) Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate and beloved servants from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes . . . for a fee.

Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow’s weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she’ll get her money’s worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh—only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can’t resist him forever. But could a lady’s sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all . . . love?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Out of Focus by LA Witt

Why I read it:  This book had been recommended to me by a number of reviewers I trust so I decided to dig it out of my TBR pile.

What it's about: Photographers Dante and Ryan (aka Angel) have been happily together for about 12 years.  They are both Dominants and Angel never bottoms ever, and so they take on a third, submissive partner, from time to time.  They meet horse rancher Jordan, brother of the bride at a wedding they are photographing and there is instant lust between all three.  There follows some sweet and sexy manoeuvring to establish that there is interest and that Jordan is interested in exploring submission.  Things get complicated when they all fall in love with each other and it looks like at least one them is destined to be hurt.

What worked for me and what didn't: The story is told in the alternating 1st person point of view of all three main characters, mainly changing from chapter to chapter, but later in the book, within a scene as well.   I was often confused about whose head I was in and it took me a while to work it out each time the chapter/scene changed.  This was complicated by the similarity of Dante and Angel.  They're both Doms and both photographers and there wasn't much else to differentiate their characters for me.   I had to keep reminding myself who was who.  It was easier to differentiate Jordan - he's a submissive for one and if there was a scene on the horse ranch it was most often (but not  always) from his POV so that helped.  I did like that I got all three main characters points of view but the alternating 1st person was confusing.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lovegames by M. Jules Aedin

Why I read it:  After reading the wonderful Paper Planes, I was keen to try and repeat the experience with the next book in this (extremely loosely linked) series.

What it's about:  Rockstar Keith Black and actor Adam Cruce are lovers who invite a third occasionally for a bit of fun.  Their respective careers keep them apart and their arrangement is that they can have sex with other people, just be safe.  Part of the arrangement comes out of Keith's bipolar disorder (disclaimer- I accepted that this was what Keith needed in the context of the book but I don't necessarily think that all people with bipolar disorder would feel the same way).  At Charlotte's Pride concert/fair/thingy, both Adam and Keith separately meet up with Sebastian Keane, a 21 year old college student who is slight and short and wears glitter eye makeup.  Both Adam and Keith are smitten and they invite Sebastian (Baz) back to their hotel for sex.  After spending all night and the next day with Baz, Adam and Keith are eager to repeat the experience, even though none of their thirds have ever been invited back.  Baz visits Keith and Adam in LA and they spend a few days together but are outed by the media which creates problems for all three.  All three want the relationship to continue permanently but all three have their own fears about coming out and saying so.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

February Reads

On Paper/eBook

Fish & Chips by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux - C+/B-  Once again, a strange read for me.  I'm quite conflicted about this series.  I wonder if it's partly because I keep expecting there to be a lot more sex than there is.  Other books by these two authors are much more full of sexytimes and maybe I went in thinking this would be more the same.  It is actually structured more like a "mainstream" RS novel, but with 2 boys instead of a girl and a guy.  That said, the suspense plot didn't make a great deal of sense for me and the ending was anticlimatic. In the end, I felt it was more about a way to get these two guys onboard a cruiseship and pretending to be lovers rather than anything organic.  The relationship between Ty and Zane progressed, with one of them admitting his true feelings and both of them in a better place emotionally.  Again, I enjoyed the second half better than the first as this is where the "emotional meat" of the story is.  If all of the book had been more like that, I would have been much happier.   I decided to have a break before I read Divide & Conquer which is the latest (and, I believe the last?) in the series.

The Commitment by Dan Savage B+ This book charts the course of Dan Savage and Terry Miller's journey to a marriage ceremony in Vancouver around their 10 year anniversary.  There is a lot of discussion about marriage equality and family and it is delivered with Savage's trademark humour.  I enjoyed it very much.  My only real quibbles were with some names and facts which seemed to have changed from the previous book (which were easily noticeable to me as I read them back to back).  For instance, Dan's nephew was "Mars" in The Kid but in The Commitment he's "Thor".  I get that even in a memoir some names will be changed to protect the innocent, but I think there should be consistency or an explanation in the text for the change.  I can't help it.  I notice details like that.    I saw an obituary for Dan Savage's mother on line and it referred to various family members including Thor, so I guess that is his real name and it may be that the earlier name was because he was only a toddler when the first book was written?  The obit also had Terry's last name as different to Miller which threw me a bit.  My curiosity is piqued but as it is most unlikely I will ever have the privilege of being actual friends with Dan and Terry (which I would love), I will probably never know.