Stacking the Shelves – 28/3/2020

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, where we can share which new books have been added to our bookshelves this week, and then go drool over the books that others have received. It is my first week taking part and I can’t wait to see what books everyone else got this week!

Even though my blog is only two weeks old now, this week I received my first book for review from an author! Except, I didn’t just receive one book to review – I received three! So I think it’s safe to say that I am a very happy bunny.

Here is what I got:

No Way Out by Tower Lowe – If anything happens to me… That phrase from Gloria’s email haunts Molly as she bounces around half-conscious in a dark space. Later, she opens her eyes in a small house with all the windows bricked shut and the door boarded from the outside. Her kidnapper has taken her keys, her cell phone, and her purse. Molly scrambles through the house, looking for any sign of life, any hope of escape, but the house is abandoned and she sees no way out. The kidnapping of former fraud investigator Molly Donovan follows Gloria’s murder, an event witnessed by Molly and PI Miguel Alvarez. Gloria’s mysterious email throws the two investigators together in a frantic search for the perp. A stranger traps Molly inside the abandoned house while an old friend sucks Miguel into his troubled past. Molly trusts Miguel until a series of notes incriminates him and leaves Molly on her own to investigate a sex cult, missing money, and jaded love.

Mistress Managed (Book One) by B.J. Frazier – Divorcing her husband after catching him during an S/M liaison with another woman, a successful lawyer finds herself not only revisiting her former fascination with dominant/submissive relationships but actively searching for a man she can dominate.

What her search delivers will prove the most addictive experience of Jeneca Avery’s life.

It will also bring her into contact with the commanding yet strangely submissive man who will change that life in ways she would not have believed possible.

This is book-one of three in B.J. Frazier’s exploration of one-woman’s odyssey in the darker world of sexual power. An odyssey that will take her from female dominance, to submission, and then back again…

Exotic and thoughtful female-led fiction for the connoisseur of the dominant woman.

The Harlot Affair (Book One) by Kayla Black – Some days are tough, especially when your method for building a savings is directly related to how many men you can lure into the alley for a good time. Even if that means only one of us is having a good time.

It’s fine, though. I get through each one of them knowing every coin will bring me one step closer to owning my own brothel where I’ll spend my nights by the fire, letting the girls do the heavy petting.

I never thought I’d say this, but being an orphan did have its upside – it taught me to be resilient and never give up. After breaking free from Madam Hilary’s, I was able to rent a flat with my best friend, Rose.

All in all, things have been coming along quite well – at least they were until he walked into my life. Just another cull, I thought, but something was different about this one. The way he looks at me. The magnetic energy between us – neither one of us can resist it, and that scares me.

Do I really believe a Lord could truly love a Lady of the Night?

Review – The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

Series – The Bridgertons #2

Rating – 3 out of 5

Genre – Historical Romance

Blurb 1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, This Author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London’s most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in all truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better…

–Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1814

But this time the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry–he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield–the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate’s the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams…

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes to not make the best husbands–and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate’s determined to protect her sister–but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself…

Review – I absolutely loved the first book of this series and so I was really excited to get started on this book. But I have to admit that I just didn’t enjoy it as much as The Duke and I. There was nothing actually bad about it – I didn’t hate it – but at the same time I didn’t love it either. It didn’t seem to inspire strong feelings in me one way or the other. In fact, I only finished reading the book yesterday and I am struggling to remember it enough to be able to write my review of it. It seems to have slipped all too easily from my mind already.

I liked Anthony well enough as a character, but I didn’t fall in love with him the way that I did with Simon in the first book of the series. He is a charming rake and until now he has been determined not to settle down. But he decides that it is the right time to find a wife so that he can produce an heir and pass down his title. He wants it to be a practical affair and he has no desire whatsoever to find a wife who he might actually fall in love with. After he lost his father when he was just 18 years old, Anthony has always been convinced that he will never live past the age his father was when he died, meaning that at the start of this book he believes that he only has nine years left to live and he has no intention of making his impending death harder than it needs to be by meeting someone who he doesn’t wish to leave behind. This preoccupation with his own death clouds his every decision and thought in life, especially when it comes to choosing his wife, but it just was not something that I connected with and I will admit that I found myself losing patience with him a little bit because of it. After all, everybody will die at some point and none of us know how long we have left on this earth, so I struggled to understand why he would let it stop him from making the most of the years he does have. But the author does even put a note in the end of the book about this issue, stating that it is a very common issue amongst men who have lost their father; wanting to explain it because she knew that her readership is made up almost entirely of women who might not completely understand this “guy problem.” But it still didn’t help me to connect to Anthony any better. Maybe it’s because I’m not a guy, maybe it’s because I’m lucky enough to be able to say that both of my parents are still alive, or maybe it’s because my sons lost their father at a young age and so I might not be ready to look too closely at this phenomenon that exists in men who no longer have their father with them. Either way, I struggled a bit with this very strong motive for all of his actions in the book, which did spoil my enjoyment a bit.

Kate, and her younger sister, Edwina, are visiting London for their very first season to look for husbands. Edwina is the beauty of the season and almost every man is calling on her and hoping to catch her attention, and she is the one who Anthony sets his sights on at the beginning of the story. Kate has never been considered a beauty, especially compared to her sister, and rather than looking for a husband for herself, she decides to watch over Edwina and her suitors to make sure that her sister marries someone who will treat her well and make her happy. Of course, Kate does not approve of a rake like Anthony courting Edwina and she is not afraid to tell him so. I loved Kate’s confidence and her ability to tell Anthony exactly what she thinks of him, even though he is a Viscount. She is certainly not the kind of person to shrink herself into the societal expectations that were placed onto women at that time, and that just made me like her even more. For me, it was definitely Kate that made it easier to stick with the novel and get it finished, especially whenever she was butting heads with Anthony, which didn’t stop even once they were together. She added a sparkle to this book which none of the other characters seemed to be able to provide.

The romance between Anthony and Kate was fun to read. And something which I did like about Anthony was that, despite his efforts to try not to, he does love Kate exactly how she is, even though she is not a conventional beauty who meets all of society’s standards for a lady of the time. In fact, he doesn’t love her in spite of the fact that she is different from all the others, but because of that fact. He sees a beauty in her, both inside and out, that everyone else fails to see because everybody else is always so busy comparing her to her sister, and I found that so heart-warming. My only complaint about the two of them together is that there seemed to be almost no real communication between them about their fears and concerns. I realise that this is to be expected in a romance novel, for a while at least, so that when the couple do finally overcome their fears together then it will all seem so much sweeter to the reader. But, this time, I found myself getting a little frustrated by this. So much heartache could have been avoided by a little bit of communication, but it felt like nothing was talked about until they had been through a crisis of some sort. But, other than that, I found them to be a sweet and lovable couple.

Overall, this book was pretty average, but I am not ready to give up on this series yet. I loved the first book a lot and I hope that means there is the potential for more brilliance in other books in the series. Besides, I already have book three sitting on my bookshelf waiting for my attention, and it would be rude of me to just ignore it.

Review – The Seduction of Valentine Day by Eden Bradley

Rating – 4 out of 5

Genre – Erotica

Blurb – She lives in a world of silk sheets, champagne, and expensive hotels…

She fulfils the deepest fantasies of the most powerful men in the world: Valentine Day is a high-class call girl, pampered and adored by her exclusive clientele.

But Valentine Day has a secret. Always in control, she’s never experienced true pleasure. But now, the woman who spends her life pleasuring others is about to embark on an erotic journey of her own…

Review – I won’t lie to you. A few pages into this book I believed that I wasn’t going to like it a whole lot. For a start, it is written in first person and I am not usually a fan of books written in such a way, but I was willing to stay open minded and give this book a chance. And for the first few chapters, I didn’t really like Valentine very much either so, for me, it wasn’t off to the best of starts. I’m not sure what it was about Valentine that I didn’t like, besides the fact that she just felt… empty. She came across as very self-absorbed and literally the only thing about her was how much she liked sex, and especially how much she loved being paid for sex. The fact that she enjoyed these things didn’t bother me so much as the fact that this seemed to be the ONLY thing she thought about and engaged in. There seemed to be very little depth and substance to her as a character and I didn’t connect very well with her at first.

But then Valentine meets Joshua, and suddenly everything changed for me. And not just because I fell in love with him (I did, but I will tell you more about him in a moment) but because of the impact he had on Valentine. Once she met Joshua and started to fall in love with him, her whole life begins to unravel and in front of our eyes she goes through a huge amount of growth. She knows that her line of work is not really compatible with a real relationship and so she tries to run from Joshua, but the bond between them is too strong and she keeps being pulled back to him. So, when her strategy of running away doesn’t work, she is forced to take a long, hard look at her life and work out what is really important to her. She stops using sex as a form of escapism and begins to confront her demons from the past and to face her own deep pain. And when all of this started happening, she became so much more than the empty character she had been at the start of the story – she was suddenly a real character with so much depth and I found myself really wanting her to find a way to overcome the pain she was dealing with to find her Happy Ever After.

And Joshua – oh sweet Joshua. What can I say about him? Valentine meets him quite early on in the story when they happen to both be alone at the opera and their seats are next to one another. The attraction between them is obvious from the start even though Valentine does her best to fight her growing feelings for him. He comes across as being confident and dominant while not being an immature jerk as so many romantic heroes can be these days. And for that alone I probably would have fallen in love with him. But Joshua has dealt with his own fair share of pain in the past that he has managed to face and to overcome, which seems to give him a lot of patience and wisdom in helping Valentine through her own tough time. He becomes her rock – the one thing that she can depend on when everything else in her life is collapsing and changing – and he doesn’t shy away from that commitment for even for a moment. I am fairly certain that everyone needs a Joshua in their lives.

And the chemistry between them was just off the charts! Obviously, this is an erotica novel so there are going to be plenty of steamy moments, and the author does not disappoint in this area. Not only are Joshua and Valentine all over each other for a lot of the story, but there are also times where Valentine is with a client. In fact, the opening chapter starts with Valentine having sex with one of her clients, so it is obvious right from the very first word that this is going to be one of those novels that has you squirming in your seat more often than not. And while the sex with the clients was fun to read, it was in her intimate moments with Joshua that I could really feel the heat. The author managed to perfectly convey just the right balance of need and raw emotion to get any reader hot under the collar. But it is obvious that it is not JUST about the sex for them (even if they do seem to have an awful lot of it) and that there is a real heartfelt connection between them too, which I loved to see developing as the story progressed.

There was a big theme that seemed to run through this story which struck a very personal chord with me. As Valentine’s life crumbles around her, she has to learn the lesson that she is responsible for her own life and that she is the only one able to make the changes that are needed to create the kind of life that she dreams of. It is a lesson that Joshua has already learned the hard way through his own experiences, and he tries to help Valentine to understand this lesson too. I loved that this kind of message was found wrapped up in the pages of an erotica novel and the depth that it helped to provide. It is something that I have been thinking of a lot lately, and starting this blog was actually the first step I took in creating some necessary changes in my own life, and so it was a very pleasant surprise to have it come up in this book as a reminder to keep taking the steps that I need to take in order to create a better life for myself – so thank you for that reminder Ms Bradley.

I think that maybe the only thing that would have made this book better for me would have been to have some sections written from Joshua’s point of view. I would have loved to spend some time in his head and to get a better feel for his thoughts and feelings throughout the story, but even without this I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Seduction of Valentine Day and I would recommend it to any fans of romance and erotica.

It's Monday! What are you Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly meme hosted over at Book Date. It is a place to share what we have read, what we are currently reading, and what is up next on our TBR pile.

What I Read Last Week:

I really didn’t get as much reading done last week as I would have liked. Life just seemed to keep getting in the way. And this is my first week settling into being a homeschooling mama so I have no idea if I will get much time to read. Anyway, the one book that I did finish was a good one, at least.

The Jane Austen Dating Agency by Fiona Woodifield

What I am Reading Now:

Caged Warrior by Lindsey Piper (The Dragon Kings #1)

Up Next:

Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell

At the moment, this is what I am planning to read next. But it may change as I got an Amazon gift card for Mother’s Day yesterday which I plan on spending on lots of books!

Last Weeks Posts:

Review – The Angel by Tiffany Reisz (Original Sinners #2)

Review – Eternal Hunger by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #1)

Review – The Taking of Snow White by Christian M. Darcy (Forever Taken #1)

Review – The Taking of Snow White by Christian M. Darcy

Series – Forever Taken #1

Rating – 1 out of 5

Genre – Erotica

Blurb – She was lost in the woods – alone, afraid. For the first time in her life, she had to depend on herself. On her wits. On her wiles. On her body, her mind, and her heart.

Where was her Prince? Where was the handsome man who would save her from this terror? Where was her brave hero, to rescue her from the lustful huntsman, from the wicked Queen, from the rebels and the dangers and the forest which reached out to consume her? And where was she going to go to get her shoes repaired after all this running?

The traditional story of Snow White gets a re-telling and re-imagining in the style of A N Roquelaire, E L James and Sylvia Day. A beautiful young princess – spoiled, vain, and petty – falls afoul of her stepmother, a woman obsessed with being the greatest beauty in the land. With little to trade on except her body and her innocence, Snow White has to find an escape to safety. Little does she know that her dark journey – from the castle she grew up in to the forest that will hide her will awaken her to life’s most sensual pleasures. Even as they do she fights to hold onto the safety and security of the only life she knows. Brimming with humor and filled with romance and physicality, The Taking of Snow White is the first in a series that takes a new approach to romance and the world of fantasy and fairy tale.

Review – I downloaded this short novella a while ago when it was available as a free download on Amazon, and I have to admit that, after reading it, I’m glad I hadn’t paid anything for it. I wasn’t really a fan of the author’s writing style. There were some moments where he described a person or an image beautifully, which I enjoyed reading, but most of it was written in a very simplistic style which reminded me of stories written for children. Despite this simple style of writing, and the fact that it is a retelling of one of the most famous fairy tales throughout the world, this story is definitely NOT for children.

There are plenty of steamy scenes which were about the only thing that made it possible to finish this book, although even they weren’t that enjoyable as I felt literally nothing for any of the characters so it was difficult to connect to them at all.

The author also had a habit of moving back and forth in time a bit, describing things from the past or things that haven’t even happened yet in such detail that it was as if it was happening right at that moment. I found this to be quite confusing. There were also quite a few editing issues too, with words missing, or the wrong spelling of a word, for example, at one point the author used ‘grown’ instead of ‘groan’ during a steamy moment.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy this story too much and I can’t imagine that I will read more from this author. While some may enjoy this fairy tale retelling, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Review – Eternal Hunger by Laura Wright

Series – Mark of the Vampire #1

Rating – 4 out of 5

Genre – Paranormal Romance

Blurb – Alexander Roman wants nothing to do with the controlling rulers of his vampire breed, but as a new threat to the pureblood vampires emerges, Alexander’s ties to the past are forced upon him and, without warning, he finds himself disorientated, terrified and near death at the door of a stranger.

Dr Sara Donohue is dedicated to removing the traumatic memories of her patients – like those of the stranger at her front door. But what he tells her of his past is too astonishing to be anything more than the delusions of a madman. Then, as their worlds collide, Sara and Alexander are bound, as one becomes hunter and the other prey. And Sara’s only chance of survival is to surrender to the final – and most unimaginable – desire of her life.

Review – About ten years ago, I was obsessed with Paranormal Romance (and Urban Fantasy) and I read any book I could get my hands on that involved vampires or werewolves or witches or the fae or whatever else I could find. But I think I burned myself out on it all and I haven’t read anything involving any paranormal creatures for probably about 5 or 6 years now – until I picked up this little gem, and now I fear I may become hooked again. I admit that it did take a few chapters for me to get into this book, and to become accustomed to the vampire vocabulary used throughout, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down.

There are a whole host of interesting characters introduced in Eternal Hunger who I hope will be recurring throughout the series. First up is obviously Alexander, a two-hundred year-old vampire who, at the beginning of the novel, is unexpectedly going through morpho – what I imagine to be a vampire version of puberty where they suddenly become overwhelmed with the desire to find their true mate but also become vulnerable to the sun – which is something that usually happens at the age of three-hundred years. Seeing as this change occurs just as the sun begins to rise, Alexander starts burning to a crisp until Sara returns home from a night shift at the psychiatric hospital where she works and pulls him into her home out of the sunlight. I really liked Alexander. He managed to be strong and masculine without being afraid of his feelings or acting like a possessive jerk – which is the perfect combination in my mind. And I loved the relationship between him and his brothers. Despite the fact that they often irritate each other to the point of coming close to violence, they share an unbreakable bond and are fiercely protective of each other (something which reminds me of my own two sons – without the fangs of course!). I can’t wait to read more about the brothers in the upcoming books in the series.

Sara is another character who I really enjoyed getting to know. She has her own demons from the past that haunt her on a daily basis but she continues to remain strong despite that. In fact, she is so incredibly strong and independent, almost to a fault, and she hates to show any kind of emotion or get too close to others because she hates the idea of appearing weak. And this means that even when she comes face-to-face with Alexander, she is not afraid to speak her mind or to tell him exactly what she thinks of him, despite the fact that he is a very powerful vampire. I loved the developing relationship between the two of them, and the suspense over whether or not their relationship might actually prove to be impossible, as they both believe it to be for most of the novel.

I think that the only character I didn’t like very much was Tom, who is an ex-patient of Sara’s who has become rather obsessed with her and who wants to get her back for rejecting him. I just felt that he was a bit too stereo-typical, which made him seem a bit one-dimensional and boring to me. But this didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the book at all as there were so many other characters that the reader could focus on and fall in love with – or, in the case of the bad guys, characters that the reader can love to hate.

As well as the romance between Alexander and Sara, there is also the plot involving a vampire who is taking women (both vampire and human women) as part of a breeding program he is running in order to create an uprising against the rulers of the vampires. Although Alexander has nothing to do with the Order (the vampires who control all others of their kind), he is forced to do their bidding and kill the vampire who started this breeding program otherwise his younger brother, Nicholas, will be the next to be sent through morpho a century earlier than he should. Alexander will do anything to protect his brothers and stop them from going through the suffering of morpho earlier than they should, and so he doesn’t hesitate to take on this mission from the rulers he despises. This plot helped to provide plenty of action and excitement which made it impossible to put the book down.

Overall, I loved this book. It is full of romance, passion, action and excitement and, after a bit of a slow start, I did find it the kind of book that I just could not stop reading. I had to find out what the future had in store for Alexander and Sara, and I needed to know if Alexander would be successful in his mission from the Order. I really can’t wait to continue reading this series.

Review – The Angel by Tiffany Reisz

Series – The Original Sinners (The Red Years) #2

Rating – 5 out of 5

Genre – Erotica

Blurb – Nora Sutherlin is in hiding. On paper, she’s following her master’s orders – and her flesh is willing.

But her mind is wandering to a man from her past, whose hold on her heart is less bruising, but whose absence is no less painful. Instead of letting him make love to her, she’d let him go.

This is the story of a summer that proves that love hurts.

Review – Wow. I absolutely loved the first book in this series (The Siren) and, if anything, I think I may love this book even more. There is still the deep exploration of how messy and complicated love can be, and lots of kinky moments too, which were all elements that I loved in The Siren. We also got to meet the infamous Soren, who I had been looking forward to getting to know. I loved that we got a much deeper look at Nora and Soren, both separately and as a couple, and learned a lot more about their histories. To me, it fleshed them out a lot more as characters and made them feel much more real and believable. There was a lot of pain in their past and my heart broke for them a few times while reading their story which just made me fall in love with them even more.

The romance between Nora and Soren is refreshing compared to most of the novels I have read recently, despite the fact that during much of the book they are apart as Nora has to go into hiding for a few weeks while a reporter is investigating Soren after his name makes the shortlist for becoming a Bishop. While most romantic heroes seem to be way too possessive and overbearing when it comes to the woman they love, Soren manages to find a perfect balance between being possessive in a way that is fitting considering the fact that he is a dominant and Nora is his submissive, while also trusting her completely and not acting like a complete jerk every time some guy even looks in her direction. In fact, he trusts her so much that he allows her to have sex with whoever she pleases without ever once doubting the fact that she loves him and that she will always be his.

There was also a secondary romance between Griffin and Michael in The Angel, both of whom we met in the first book although only briefly. I loved seeing the way that their love blossomed and the way that Griffin (the dominant) took such loving care of Michael (the submissive). I found their interactions with one another to be beautiful and it really added something special to this book.

The plot moved along at a good pace, with a fair bit of suspense thrown in for good measure. Although I noticed that the author did use little cliffhangers quite regularly throughout the story, taking the reader up to a certain point in the plot before cutting away to another scene and not revealing what happened until later in the story. While this did make it even more difficult to put the book down as there were a few times where I just HAD to find out what I’d missed, it was a little frustrating in some parts.

There were just a couple of points that meant the book wasn’t quite a good as it could have been. For me, some (although not all) of the sex scenes were lacking – too much talking and not enough passion. And, as I said in my review of The Siren, it does make me a little bit uncomfortable that some of the guys are so young – more specifically Wesley from the first book and Michael from this book. They are both of legal age, but only just, and the big age gap between them and Nora does creep me out a bit. But that may just be a personal thing, especially as I have sons of my own who aren’t that much younger than they are.

But despite these points, I loved this book and I am loving this series. I can’t wait to read more of Nora’s story in the next book.