Thursday, December 31, 2020

Bittersweet Bondage by Sonya T. Pelton


DNF @ p.27

The only thing more purple than the prose in this book is the heroine's dress on the cover-- and even that's up for debate. (Also, look at that cut-- holy cleavage, Batman!) Points for having this set in an actual Middle Eastern region unlike 95% of sheik romances that think that they can get around cultural stereotypes by just making up their own country and then pretending that it's not offensive if it isn't tied to a specific geographic location. The title and the cover made me think I was going to get a really smutty bodice-ripper but #NOPE.

Maybe I'll come back to this one some day-- I'm keeping it because of the cover-- but for now it's a DNF.

1 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

No More Lies by Susan Squires


DNF @ 9%

I've been in a huge book slump and the best way for me to get out of those is usually be dipping into my old fave: ROMANCE! So I've been trying to clean out my Kindle by picking up some of the romances I was really excited about but didn't have time to get into because there was always another book I felt like I *needed* to read, and romance deserves better than to be my 3am booty call, if you know what I mean.

Sadly, I won't be calling this book back. Like, ever.

It's a shame, because Susan Squires is one of my favorite cheesetacular romance authors. She has a really good vampire series (The Companions) and I like one of her sci-fi romances, BODY ELECTRIC, a lot. This one is awful, though. You should check out Elena's review on Goodreads because she hates this book for a lot of the same reasons I did (we even got annoyed by the same quotes). The writing is just so bad, and the Kindle ebook is formulated like a PDF file (why???), and the constant hating on psychology and psychiatrists got really annoying to me, a psychology major.

I'll rate DNFs 2* if I feel like I could have made it through the entire book and found something to redeem it, but this was so awful that I just don't see myself finding anything about it to like at all.

1 out of 5 stars

Monday, December 14, 2020

Forbidden Love by Karen Robards


DNF @ 48%

Five years ago I probably would have grimly read this to the end but that Nenia was younger and more naive; she still had high hopes and big dreams that books with bad beginnings could have good endings. Let's all take a moment of silence to reminisce fondly on Young Nenia, sweet summer child that she was. Bitter Nenia, who is writing this review over a glass of rose wine, is not so easily fooled.

FORBIDDEN LOVE is my first book by Karen Robards and this is the ebook, so I'm wondering if Robards is one of those authors who rewrites her backlist books to make them more PC because the hero was SUCH a sleaze bag but it kind of felt like the author was also trying to make him a Nice Guy, never mind the fact that he is MARRIED and chasing after his ward who is 17. I actually own an original paperback copy of this bodice ripper so I may check it out and compare it against the ebook, because the ebook is really gross and made me feel all the uncomfortables.

I'm not really sure what else to say about this book except that if you like Bertrice Small at her worst, you'll probably enjoy this. It has the same vibe of breathless purple prose, and it's about fifty flavors of ridiculous. The sex scenes are ~le cringe~. At first I thought it was really funny but then I got bored and decided it wasn't worth the trouble. Life is too short to read boring bad books.

1.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 11, 2020

Mafia Captive by Kitty Thomas


Kitty Thomas is an erotica author whose works I sometimes really enjoy, but she can also be really hit or miss with me. I loved TENDER MERCIES and THE GAME MAKER, which I thought were both the perfect blend of messed up and hot, but sometimes, I really, really don't like her books. GUILTY PLEASURES disgusted me and this one, MAFIA CAPTIVE, was really frustrating and weird.

Faith is in trouble when she witnesses a mob hit, but rather than killing her, Angelo delivers her to his twin brother, Leo, a tortured doctor and would-be priest who has a taste for servitude and sadism. Faith isn't into this at all, so he just keeps her for reasons??? while being totally frustrated that she isn't into his awesome lifestyle, but also it's Christmas and his family comes, so he also has her pretend to be his fiance??? so it ends up being like a bad Christmas comedy, only with mob bosses, BDSM, and OW drama that is actually consummated on-page multiple times because Leo, the hero, is a creep.

Props to the author for daring to push the envelope but this book in particular just felt really tone-deaf and Leo kind of felt like a sleaze. I didn't think he was hot at all-- he was such a whiner leather pants-wearing emo trash baby, and I got really tired of his nonstop pity party. It doesn't help that Faith doesn't have a spine at all. The heroines in this author's books are usually really submissive (and often TSTL), but in TENDER MERCIES and GAME MAKER, they at least had personalities and grit. Faith... is like a whipped dog. Only, you know, not in the way that Leo would like her to be because he's gross.

Also, BRB crying forever at that scene with the SPECULUM. Speculums have no place in erotica novels. No shade if you're into that, but it is definitely NOT MY THING AT ALL. #NopeForever #Bye

1 out of 5 stars

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Moonrise by Anne Stuart


DNF @ 20%

Anne Stuart is one of my FAVES (seriously, check out my other reviews for her books), so nobody is more disappointed than me to give this book a bad review. I was interested in the prologue and then it got really boring, with the heroine being all, "I WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO MY DAD," and the hero being all, "BABY YOU DON'T WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR DAD. YOU AREN'T READY."

In many ways, this almost feels like a prototype of the Ice series, what with the ex-hired assassin hero and the simpering nitwit heroine who falls for him anyway. He's also a friend of her dad, and is in his 40s, I believe, whereas the heroine is fairly young, so it has a huge age gap. Which I'm not always into and didn't especially work here.

I have two ways of rating DNFs. 1 star if I think it's stupid and wouldn't have finished it anyway, and 2 stars if I think I probably could have finished it and just didn't want to waste my time. Lest you be of the "if you didn't finish it, you don't get to rate it" school of reviewing, let me be the first to tell you to go back to school and pursue a secondary degree in "I don't give a horse's oats."

I may come back to this someday but I really don't feel like it right now. If I do end up reading it, I'll post an update to my review along with the new rating.

1.5 to 2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Game Maker by Kitty Thomas


I basically have two moods: Trash and Not Trash. Today was Trash, so I went and bought every single Kitty Thomas book I saw that was on sale that I didn't already own because even though her books aren't super well-written and complex, she's a good story-teller and clearly is self-aware enough to understand what so many people don't get: there's a difference between writing dark stories as escapist fantasies and actually muddling them into something that's idealized and romantic. I actually really liked the disclaimers in her works acknowledging that these are intended as fantasy and should NOT be emulated. Like, duh.

And yet...

THE GAME MAKER is a really dark story. The heroine, Kate, ends up fired from her job for sleeping with his boss and he retaliates after their breakup to make her life an extra bitter flavor of misery. She's so desperate that she's considering selling herself for money and ends up turning back to her ex, which is where things get... weird and darker still. Because someone knocks her out and she wakes up in a cell with another guy who's also captive, and a third guy on an intercom who wants them to play a sick little game with him involving blackmail and... some not very fun things.

This is a lot like the Saw movies, only instead of torture, it's blackmail and non-con/dub-con, and there's also a twist, so if you think you know what's really going on-- you don't. Sometimes it was a little too dark even for me but I pressed ahead wanting to see what happened, and it ended up being a really satisfying story with an interesting and uncertain ending. I wouldn't exactly read this as a romance but it is erotica and it's pretty thoughtfully written as far as these stories usually go. Kitty Thomas can sometimes be hit or miss with me but I usually end up really liking her work and I'm happy to say that THE GAME MAKER ended up being one of her successes for me.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 4, 2020

Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney


I really have to stop writing my reviews over wine or they're going to make you all think I'm even more ridiculous than I actually am. First, major thanks to my book bestie, Heather, for reading this book with me. She recently read and loved LIONS AND LACE by this author on my recommendation and I thought it would be totes mcgoats fun if we decided to read another McKinney Original because she's just SO GOOD at writing really intense heroes who are kind of domineering (in a hot way) and innocent heroines who still have a lot of personality. Case in point: WHEN ANGELS FALL, which is probably one of my favorite romances of all time because of its hero, Ivan Tramore, who is my king.

Initially, I really loved TILL DAWN TAMES THE NIGHT. It has this fun Indiana Jones on the high seas vibe to it and the hero locks eyes with the heroine in chapter two and it is... INTENSE. Like, with eye contact like that, you don't need explicit content in books if you get me. So I was like YAAAAAAASS. Especially since the hero is actually a hot pirate who is obsessed with finding this rare jewel that ONLY the heroine knows about and also he has long hair, an earring, and a dragon tattoo on his back that is the coolest tattoo I've ever seen described in a book.

So obviously, I was like YES.

The problem is that... um??? When the hero and heroine get together, he makes her feel bad about herself? It's like you have all this delicious tension that seems to be building towards a meaningful connection and then it just ends up becoming super cyclical with the heroine and the hero getting into the same petty arguments over and over without any sort of development. LIONS AND LACE was a complex story of revenge becoming attraction and WHEN ANGELS FALL is a tale of dark, passionate obsession that has the potential to blossom into destruction. TILL DAWN TAMES THE NIGHT had elements of both, but it felt hopelessly unfinished, almost like a rough draft composite of both stories.

I was mildly interested until about 65% or so where I just lost all interest. The villain had the potential to be grim and horrible but I don't think his character was done all that well, either. I'm wickedly disappointed at how quickly this went from simmering to stultifying and if I didn't know McKinney had written this, I would have called you a liar and slapped you in the face for telling me that my ultimate fave penned this sad, disappointing mess. I still love this woman and she can come to my birthday party whenever, but she's going to have to check this book at the door before she comes into my house.

Thank u, next.

2 out of 5 stars