Usually I like a lil sumthin' sumthin' in my romances, and this book had 2 1/2 kisses and NO SEX! But it was a great story that kept me riveted the whole time.
Please, please release the next book in this trilogy at Audible very, very, very soon. M. Pierce has been added to the small list—only 5—of authors on Audible whose books I rarely if ever deny myself. And, having purchased over 1400 books, that’s a small percentage of authors about which I feel this way. So this story was a wonderful surprise. I’m so often disappointed in books that I buy due to the great reviews, but, thankfully, not this time. NOT THIS TIME!!! It has renewed at least some of my faith in book reviews. This is smart, intense, character-driven, plot-laden, highly sexual and romantic erotica. GIVE ME MORE!!
This story almost seems like a genre of its own. This story is sexual suspense centered on the unraveling of 28-yr-old Matt who unravels through his lust-filled pursuit of Hannah, his initially anonymous internet writing partner. Matt is one messed up dude. The story was sad and funny in a pathetic kind of way. I knew the author had me when I was rooting for Matt to return to being rude, raunchy and rough. Any author who can make a man I would not want to meet or be around, potentially, still be the one I’m rooting for and feeling empathy for is one hell of a writer. And M. Pierce did that to me in this story, which is quite a feat.
Matt often acts like a prick towards Hannah, his internet writing partner, and it made me cringe and snicker at times. It was great to watch. He was totally messed up over his desire for Hannah and didn’t know how to behave. Watching him play games as his relationship with Hannah changes from anonymous internet writing partner to lust partner was fun to behold. Watching their dysfunctional and frightening lust for each other be revealed and acted upon was shocking because of its danger, but I couldn’t look away. I don’t get this renewal in some romance and erotica stories new sex partners not using condoms, but I so loved this book that I didn’t care after their first unprotected sex. And that’s very unusual for me. There were things that complicated Hannah and Matt’s coming together, and seeing them navigate those things was the crux of the story.
The story is VEERRRY sexual, and the flavor of it won’t be for everybody. Their sexual relationship was based on Hannah being humiliated and debased by Matt. During those times, Matt engaged in some very, very naughty and raunchy sex talk. And there was nothing off limits during their sex. But Hannah was not a doormat. I liked that Hannah did a good job of holding her own against him when she chose to, when she didn’t want to completely submit to him, generally when they were outside a sexual encounter. I also liked that Hannah was described as a more curvaceous young woman, not the usual body image perpetuated as the ideal. So to enjoy the story you may have to believe in the idea that two people with aberrant sexual needs could accidentally meet and be ok with the result of their aberrant taste coming together.
The narrator was perfect. And the only negative was the twerking scene. Leaving out Hannah’s twerking dance lesson from her sister, of all people, would have been a much, much better option. I eagerly, eagerly await the rest of this series.
My first review was lost, so this one won’t be as thorough. In a nutshell, this another romantic tale of two people whose entire relationship is based on great sex. So when love is tossed around too soon, it appears out of nowhere, with no basis. Love was being banded around within what seemed like less than a month. The timeframe is not made explicit. But it was very fast. And the too-fast love extended from the H to the h’s 4-yr-old daughter. Levi acted a bit creepy in his immediate connection and over-protection of Hannah, Tori’s daughter. In one scene, after an ordeal involving Hannah, when asked by Tori, Hannah’s mom, to give Hannah to her, Levi said that he didn’t want to let her go because she felt kinda good in his arms. He wasn’t being sexual or anything, but his equating his attachment to her as equal to Hannah’s mom, after having had one brief interaction with her at a diner, was just creepy. And Tori found it wonderful instead of creepy. This is more about the author not writing her characters to behave consistently or in ways that most would find rational or at least plausible, since sometimes people act in irrational ways that can be explained even if the explanation is crazy. Again, sorry for less detail, but I can’t recall everything I wrote in my first review to substantiate my rating and assessment of this story.
It took some time for me to get into this story, but it was great once I did. It’s a great romance, with some struggle and characters who are easy to relate to and behaved authentically, without everything coming so easy. I also liked that Rubi was a biracial woman, though it was not a focus in the story. Still, it was just nice for a popular author to recognize the diversity in society and utilize it in a non-stereotypical way in a book with a main character.
The romance and therefore the book focused on Wes, a stuntman for Renegades, and Rubi, a past-model-turned software engineer or developer. The main side characters were Lexi (friend & dress designer), Jax (Renegade’s boss & Lexi’s boyfriend), and Rachel (secretary and friend at Renegades). The romance was easy to believe because Wes and Rubi were already friends who spent a lot of time together as a foursome with Lexi and Jax. The romance was not an easy one due in large part to Rubi having some unresolved emotional issues resulting from neglect during her upbringing. The author deals well with her emotional struggles. There is plenty of hot, relatively explicit sex in this book, but it was not gratuitous. Altogether, I think there were 5 sex scenes, 2 of which were not intercourse. The sexual play between Wes and Rubi was fun to watch. And watching the love develop between the two was swoon-worthy. There were also funny moments.
Sadly, even with a multicultural character, like many writers, this author still has some work to do on her multicultural competency. It’s not something that should be pursued out of what some call “political correctness” but out of a desire to show care to those we engage with directly or indirectly. Words have power and impact, and sometimes in unintentional ways. As such, I hope in the future that the author will abstain from using “black” in its commonly used, offensive and stereotypically negative fashion. The author’s offensive uses occurred in the following statements: “Her emotions were hot, black, ugly.” – Rubi after being betrayed by her dad again; “…was as black an idea as being without him;”— Rubi having negative thoughts about accepting an offer from Wes; “But his voice still held some element of darkness” – Wes on talking about not being forced to be someone he isn’t in the past.
This is a very female-focused story, which is yummy. A big lesson in it is that the perfect man cannot be found in one man. We all need a minimum of 3 of them to get all of our needs met, if that’s the goal. This option for Grace—not saying it should be an option for all women—came after their spot of the world experienced an EMP (nuclear electromagnetic pulse). Then there was no running water, electricity, and their world was in chaos.
Grace was a college student and daughter of a survivalist who was raised without her mother. Her father was a truck driver and not present when the EMP occurred. So Serge, a friend of Grace’s dad, came to help Grace. Eventually, two other men entered the story and all 4 worked and lived together to survive—Grace, Van (national guardsman), Luke (psychologist turned bar-man), & Serge/Steve Connolly (short for sergeant; ex-marine, prison sergeant).
The story is certainly erotica, and sex plays a big part. There were about 6 sex scenes all involving Grace and no m/m action. The scenes were 2 with Serge, 1 each with Luke and Van individually with Grace, and then 2 with all 3 focused on her simultaneously.
There was a bit too much of Grace allowing all 3 guys not to use a condom and also not pull out of her during sex, if you know what I’m saying. I began to see her as an ashtray of sorts, and it just wasn’t my taste. But, to each her or his own. At least, it was implied that she was on birth control pills, and she began to speculate about the need for condoms. That occurred after sex with two of the guys and never happened. Even with the explicit sex, the author did a good job of providing a sufficient and plausible plot and playing it out well and with consistency. It held together well. The characters were relatively likeable but with flaws. My only exception is the author’s use of the word love and with no time for its development. So it didn’t make sense and was hard to buy. I liked watching the men navigate their attraction to and desire for the only available woman, Grace. And I liked that Grace was a mentally and physically strong young woman who was very self-sufficient. But she didn’t balance her strength and self-sufficiency well with the realistic need she had for help and safety and companionship. It was also nice to watch as each male found their role and the acceptable pecking order and together formed a family unit. Most of all, I liked that the outcome of the story didn’t come easily.
The narrator did not help the story. He had a great masculine voice, but all 3 of the men sounded the same. And he couldn’t maintain his portrayal of Grace. Sometimes it sounded too masculine and other times too high, almost child-like; it wasn’t constant. And it sounded HORRIBLE during Grace’s times of sexual ecstasy. But worst of all was the narrator making an indrawn breath at the end of most of his sentences, like he’s surprised each time. It was quite irritating. And to the author, please don’t use the phrase “Indian summer”; it is offensive.
This story focuses on the suspense with the romance being more of a back story. So it was disappointing the way the author tried to balance the suspense and romance. The romance faltered by having them fall in love too quickly and with no basis for the feeling developing. Like many stories, Melena/Mel and Theo start of disliking each other due to some suspicion Theo has about Mel. And, as that suspicion is dropped, the reader still doesn’t see how love develops; an attraction, lust, yes, but not love. So “I love you” was thought and then, later, said too soon by both Theo and Melena. Similarly, Mel saying Theo was a good man when she did’t know him, when she had had only known him for a few days, some of which she thought he was an ass, also made no sense. Similarly, them briefly talking about living together and even marriage after knowing each other about a week or less was too much and so crazy that it cheapened the story and their romance. In fact, this whole story seemed to occur within a matter of a week or two. The timeframe is unclear, but it was certainly a short period of time. The author wasn’t that much better at the suspense part of the story. Mel had 3 near-death experiences at the hands of her enemies, yet, she was never seriously harmed. And after each, Theo vowed that no one would harm her. The redundancy contributed mightily to the weakness of this story. And Mel made a nonsensical decision near the end, to attempt to draw out the story more and add more drama, but, instead, it only added to the problems with this story. Because, at the end of that, Mel added another life-threatening moment to the 3 times she was almost killed, which a thinking person would’ve managed to avoid, especially after knowing someone, about whom she based her decision, for a week. [This part may not make complete sense w/o knowing what happened, so I apologize for that. But it can’t be helped unless I reveal too much about the story. ]
Another yuck is that the author took the often used caveman, dom act to an ugly place in the way she portrayed Theo supposedly supporting Melena/Mel by threatening to man-handle her because of his sexual desire a day after she experienced being sexually assaulted and almost raped. The author also seriously exaggerated any normal super-attraction after JUST a kiss. And she referred to Theo as a “musky male,” which sounds disgusting. She misused how many romance authors refer to the musk of a partner; they never refer to a guy as a “musky male”. That brings the image of a musk rat or some other stinky animal to mind, which is definitely not appealing. In fact, the author overused the idea of pheromones, the scent of each other, too often and not well. Of course, she didn’t use the word pheromone, but she too often focused on how Melena and Theo smelled to each other, saying things like “her intoxicating scent,” and not meaning perfume. Theo and Melena came across as some very odorous folk.
The one positive is that Mel would fight back against her attackers. And some listeners, less focused on the romance, might be happy to know that there is only 1 sex scene, the only scene that is more than kissing. It occurs at approx. 40 minutes before the story ends. It was lightning fast and brief with no explicitness and little detail. It really only described Theo performing oral sex briefly, made reference to a condom and her reciprocating on Theo, and then it was “some time later.”
This time-traveling romance started out great, that is before it became a time-traveling story. I generally don’t like time-traveling romances, so maybe I should’ve stuck with that usual choice to avoid these types of books. But I was drawn in by the listening excerpt b/c the book is narrated very well. And, if you like time-traveling romances, maybe you will like this book more than I did. In it, Celine travels from 1993 to 1300 and meets Gaston.
My biggest complaint is that much of the movement of the book was based on the heroine being “needy” and requiring the hero to come to her rescue. And I don’t mean in physical need, like she needed to fight someone, but emotionally needy. And I can’t stand a whiny, overly-vulnerable and weak female. Everyone has weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but she was too much. And, once it became a time-traveling story, almost all of the movement of the story depended on her neediness. The only thing that kept me listening was there being a hint of strength in her that showed up in small bits at rare times. It primarily came in the form of her complaining about being unused to a man telling a woman what to do, rather, a husband telling a wife what to do and expecting her to obey. So it was barely enough to make up for her constant neediness.
Another complaint is that the author didn’t show how love between Celine and Gaston developed. The trajectory amounted to them accidentally meeting, having an immediate attraction, time passing where, in much of it, they avoid each other, lust growing and becoming more and more apparent, and then, magically, there was love. But you never see the love develop; its presence is a bit of a surprise. Still, w/in their relationship, the story included some very nice romanticism; for some it might be a bit too much, but I didn’t find it mushy. And some of the phrasing is very common to romantic tales, but, thankfully, there weren’t too many of them b/c the sex scenes weren’t over done in this story nor was the romantic dialogue. But the last sex scene—of the two in the story—was very, very drawn out, unnecessarily, but I maintain my statement about no mushiness. Though, some of what is said between the h and H in that scene could rightly be considered over-the-top and certainly eye-rolling worthy to some listeners. Some might even say dumb. The story was also sensual. This is, essentially, another tale about a man changed, softened, surprisingly, by the love of and for a woman. And I think some might consider this a bodice ripper, though sex is not overdone in this story with only 2 sex scenes very spread out in the story and not started at the beginning of this tale. However, it is highly romantic and sensual. So there is kissing and very intimate touching throughout, but the first sex scene doesn’t occur until the story has been going on for about 8 hours. And the second sex scene is about 2 hours before the 15-hour+ story ends.
A third complaint is that Celine too easily conformed to the 14th century from living in the 20th century. She tried to recreate some tools from the 20th century, especially ones used in the kitchen, but she never spoke of having a problem with the hugely different way of living, beyond wanting a daily bath. And she had very little struggle leaving her family back in 20th century America.
And my final complaint is about the use of a word and it’s synonym in a way that far, far, far too many authors fail to recognize and change. And it is high-time that they did. I love the rare times I listen to a story where this error is not made. But, alas, it’s all too rare. The error I’m speaking of is the use of “dark,” “black,” and synonyms of the two words, to primarily or only portray negative and bad aspects of life and persons. You don’t have to be a social activist or linguistic historian to recognize the negative history and, some would argue, present problems surrounding the idea that black, dark = bad. You only have to care. And far too many simply don’t. The English language is full of other words writers can use to talk about negative and bad things. They only have to be insightful enough and care enough to identify and use them. In this story, the author wrote that Gaston was called “Blackheart” b/c of his brutality and that he had a “black soul” as a result. And she also talked about the “black depths of hell.”
On the positive side, I like how the author acknowledged and addressed how Celine’s actions in the past might impact the history of the past that has already occurred and been recorded. And the author did a good job of creating angst and posing two important problems without answers that were too obvious but that were also not surprising and made sense. I correctly guessed an answer to one of the problems but not the other, so the story was not predictable regarding the important questions. You knew it would be a HEA, but you didn’t always know how.
This is another author’s view that, since “sex sells,” writing talent is secondary and sex talk is sufficient for being a successfully writer. And my falling for all of the positive reviews of this story and then purchasing this tale supports that idea, unfortunately. But, unlike the positive reviewers, I strongly regret my purchase of this book. My expectations were not met in this novel. Within 30 minutes of listening, I began to questions this purchase and the great reviews I read. And, by the end of the story, my concerns were thoroughly and horribly justified.
Within that brief time, there was a phone sex episode between Taryn, the h, and Errol, the H and her fiancé, that hit all of the right buttons, for what is suppose to be said and done to produce sexual heat, and none of the actual heat. It was actually bland. In it, the author seemed to be working too hard to make it “hot” without any knowledge and understanding that using the “right” words and going through the “right” actions are not sufficient to actually create sexual heat. It was a very inept attempt. By 1hr 20min into the story, there had been 3 sex scenes, not full intercourse, but still too much. Though it happened between a committed couple, it was still a bit gratuitous, and much more attention was given to the sex scenes than developing the rest of the story. And the sex scenes were not done well. The least you can do—if sex scenes are going to be the crux of a story—is make them great. And it continued with that, with 4 sex scenes w/in an hour-and-a-half of the start of the story.
The story was based on Taryn’s insecurities about Errol’s infidelity. Taryn initially handled her doubles about his infidelity by playing immature games and not facing the problem head-on, making assumptions and being too afraid to confront the issue and get answers from Errol. Then, after he Errol chased her, she faced it. Taryn handled her doubts about Errol’s fidelity like a 7th grader, including what she said when she DID finally confront Errol. Once again, it seemed like there was only one adult in that dialogue, and it wasn’t Taryn. Having a man chase a stupid, childish, insecure woman when the main hasn’t done anything wrong does not make for a good story IMO. Too much of the story was watching Taryn go through a “woe is me,” “I’m just not strong enough,” “I’m not the one for you,” yada, yada, yada, please chase me and chase me again storyline. I’m cringing just writing it down b/c I’m reminded of this crap and how horrible it was experiencing it. And, of course, Taryn was portrayed as a trauma victim who has flashbacks where she whines and Errol has to come to her rescue; yes, another needy, child-like woman.
The characters in the story were one-dimensional, over-simplistic cut-outs. And their dialogue matched. The dialogue was utterly juvenile even though it’s a very adult story, with adult scenes. But the characters were extremely immature and, again, simplistic. It didn’t help that the narrator also portrayed Taryn with a little-girl’s voice. It was very disconcerting when Taryn was dialoguing with Errol b/c it sounded like a 12-yr-old girl talking about very adult things with a 50-yr-old man.
The narrator often sounded like she was reading a fairy-tale for children, with over-the-top portrayals, 1 of a little girl, the adult Taryn in this story, and the varying Frenchmen, with clichéd accents and experiences. The narrator’s French accent for Sean Pierre, who works with Errol in France, was deplorable. It was described as a “strong” French accent, but the narrator sounded like a person trying to sound French, not a French person. It sounded like a caricature from Sesame Street or something. And, actually, the narrator did a poor job with Errol’s French accent too. That accent is not her forte’. The narrator made Errol’s voice worse by making a kind of breathing sound at the end of sentences that was an attempt to make him sound sexy. It’s hard for me to explain in words, the kind of breathy hold to an ending word, but you’ve heard people do it before. And the outcome of this breath punctuation makes the person sound creepy instead of sexy. Also there were times that it sounded like the narrator moved her voice away from the recording tool, the mike, or whatever. So it was weird and detracted from the listen. I assume she was trying to make it sound like it came from a distance or something, though I’m not sure b/c it didn’t always occur when a distancing voice would’ve fit the scene. So I don’t know. Altogether, the whole listening experience, the story and the narrator, made for a disappointing experience. This was my first book from this author, and it will most certainly be my last. All I wanted was for it to end. The only good thing I can say about it is that it’s relatively short.
The synopsis of this story is that a man and woman who were bullied, "ugly ducklings" and semi-acquaintances in high school become adult “swans”. Revenge through romance becomes the goal of one of them. The problem is the way the author chose to enact that goal. She created a story whereby a great love between the h and H, Jayne and Malcolm, is formed and conducted solely, solely through great sex. Their relationship was based on nothing else, had no, none, zero substance. Now, generally, I love great sex in a story, but I like it joined to an actual story, a plot, and a fully-developed relationship. Couples do partake of more than sex, generally, when building and sustaining a relationship. In the author's defense, the did try to include a brief phone conversation between the h and H and then martial arts training together. But it was too little. The execution of this story failed, but there were sparks in it that indicated that the story could've been better. The story idea wasn't the problem; the execution was. Then, to make the story worse, near the end, the author used the over-utilized story trope of a negative incident, a painful occurrence to manufacture the couple's closeness quicker and tried to manufacture some depth in the last 20 minutes of the story with wrenching-producing sappiness. As a part of that, in the final moment, Malcolm, at a 10-year high school reunion (to give you an idea of their age), actually said, "I want you to be my girlfriend." Are they 12? So add sappiness and immaturity to a lack of imagine, of anything new, to the problem of the story being over-simplified and boring. I began avoiding the constant barrage of the over-done, unromantic, sex scenes. A full story, one more than 30 minutes or, maybe up to 1 hour, shouldn’t be written as a 30-minute erotica story. When I want that kind of story, I pay less than $5 and get it along with the appropriate expectation about what it is. On the otherhand, when I pay almost $18/use a credit, my expectations differ, of course. But this was a 5+hour story that was more like a $2.75 erotica tale; though, I have to say, some of those stories I enjoyed more than I did this one, and my expectations are, at least, set appropriately from the start. This time I feel duped. I’m so disappointed that I, once again, fell for the great reviews. I started forwarding through the story and was happy when the story was over and grateful it wasn’t longer.
This story was a knock off of J.R. Ward’s black dagger brotherhood books and, to a lesser degree, the formula for Gena Showalter’s lords of the underworld books. Before I get to the copying, there were some other aspects of the book I didn’t like. The author wrote poorly with things like saying a person was “weary tired.” Isn’t that redundant? The description of the other planet was overdone with saying Noah, the H, while on his home planet, SR44, had a mansion, a yacht, an island, and 3-day parties. And it was problematic to me that they showed no compassion for criminals on SR44 and no belief in rehabilitation of people who commit crimes. Those people were called “colonists”. They were ejected from SR44 society forever. 12 of the colonists take on human form and escape to Earth, and therein lies the crux of this story and the problem of this tale. Noah and 5 other pals (Talon, Cowon, Rayner, Jovan, Hudson), all soldiers on SR44, called the “6 saviors”, also take on human form and follow the colonists to earth to capture them and their descendants. These colonists are the worst of the worst. The author states that criminals Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Sadam Hussein were all colonists from SR44 and that the 6 saviors had a hand in ending their reign of terror. I disliked that aspect of the story the most. It didn’t hold together well, the attempt to use these facts in this fictional story. Another problem was that Noah is supposed to be 200+ years old but is also supposed to have been on earth that long too. So the math doesn’t work considering he was an adult, appearing as a 30-yr-old human, when he came to earth. SR44 people live for about 2000 years on average. Another problem was the author’s attempt to use “urban” lingo, like saying that the missile cilo, where the 6 saviors lived, was “pimped out” and having one of the saviors say “back off my grill,” which was used so wrongly. The author also overused the terms ”dainty,” “big,” and “huge.” Big and huge was used when talking about the 6 saviors’ bodies, of course. And, of course, Abby had to be dainty. The natural form of SR44 people was varying hues of a smoke-like substance. So it was quite upsetting when the author said that the colonists, the criminals turned black. The reason for this was either b/c of the lack of sunlight on the island they were exiled to or b/c of “evil in their rotting souls.” The author’s resonance with a horrible racial stereotype was either ignorant, at best, or mean-spirited, at worst.
These are the ways in which this story is a cheap knock-off of J.R. Ward’s black dagger brotherhood and some of Gena Showalter’s lords of the underworld series: the 6 saviors living together in a fortress (a cilo), the importance of music (rock and not hip-hop in this story), cool or unusual names of the guys (Talon, Cowon, Rayner, Jovan, Hudson, Noah), they are rich, the constant presence and use of strong alcohol, muscled-bodies guys, the long lives of the soldiers, having one male group member who works the stock market, one member who likes expensive clothes, and a “resident tech head,” the soldiers’ overuse of profanity as a sign of strength and coolness, their strange eyes or other body part, the author’s attempt at the males being funny, the soldiers driving a black escalade (though Noah drove another car too), the female love interests having a cat and, as the first in the series, also being an unhappy, economically poor, parentless female journalist, using the term “female” for women, and making non-verbs verbs (i.e. “a whole lotta no winning”. Yep. Copying. A cheap knock-off.
There were very few things that I liked about this story. Of those things, I liked that Abby was portrayed as more than just a pretty face. Often Noah said that he liked her because she was generous and kind along with her looks. I liked that it was not a sex-filled story, though I absolutely have no problem with those when appropriate. There was 1 oral sex scene, with it performed on Abby, near the earlier part of the story. Then there was 1 act of intercourse between Abby and Noah near the end of the story. There were about 2 others that were just alluded to later in the story too. The sex scenes were brief, and there was no explicit sexual talk. There was a good balance of romance and mild suspense as the saviors chased the colonists.
The narrator was okay, though his depiction of Talon’s voice was too high. And the ending was a bit over-dramatized and manufactured.
The story was a good premise, and I enjoyed the theatrics. The part of the story about reincarnation was good. But there were some aspects of the way the story was told, that irritated me. First, the author used repetitive phrasing, like “My dad always told me….” And there were too many close calls, too many times we got right up to the time of death, with all of the anxiety and lead-ins, only to have it, AGAIN, pass by, for the H and others to be saved. And the story was a bit predictable, though not to the point of certainty. Still, I liked that the story was not long-winded. It was compact, and every aspect played a critical role w/o being overdone or overplayed or just adding unnecessary material. And I really liked the ending. Just when you think you’ve got it all wrapped up, then…. Things are not wrapped up neatly, which I liked. The main questions are answered, but you’re left guessing a little bit about what the future holds. Good ending, though I’m still unsure if I understood it.
I loved all of the voices and dramatization. I especially liked having more of a child's voice during the children's parts.
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