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Feb
1

Review: The Master by Tara Sue Me

Review: The Master by Tara Sue Me The Master Author: Tara Sue Me Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I’m a big fan of Tara Sue Me’s Submissive series. While I may not have raved about every single title, they all have a special place in my heart because each book has some poignant lesson I can apply to my own life. The Master is no exception. While many people read for specific purposes (predominantly, to escape reality), a single title can fill several roles. It’s always fun to immerse myself in some well-crafted characters and a substantial plot. But the books that make me think and reflect on my own life are those I’ll keep on the back-burner for a good ol’ fashioned comfort read when life just gets too overwhelming. The Master is going on that list. Readers of the Submissive series have already met Sasha and Cole, our main characters for this title. As Sasha’s plot line wove through previous books, I was really curious as to how she would get her HEA. Stop. Rewind. If you *haven’t* read the previous books, The Master could be read as a stand-alone. However, I think there’s deeper meaning and understanding as a reader with the more in-depth background information supplied in previous titles of the series. The author does a great job of ‘reminders’ throughout the book, but it’s surely no substitute for actually reading the prior six novels. For readers of the series, and actually, the blurb, Sasha is re-entering the BDSM world after a play session with her Dom went horrifically of-the-rails. She is re-joining the Partners-in-Play BDSM group, and she requires retraining in order to overcome the abuse she sustained. She needs to learn to trust herself again, while playing, after such a traumatic experience. Here, the parallels with life overwhelmed me, to be honest. So many people are involved in either physically or emotionally abusive relationships—it made my heart hurt just thinking about it. How do those people manage to find the yin to their yang? Someone that simply *gets* them, even if they’re really broken? That’s today’s society, unfortunately. Everyone has baggage, and seeing Sasha’s baggage laid before us, the readers, drove home exactly how fortunate I am to have Mr. VampBard. As we watch Sasha go through her ‘process’, it gave me hope. Hope that someday, I’ll be able to put behind me the rest of the baggage I brought into my marriage. Hope that other people—still...
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Jan
5

Review + Excerpt: Headed for Trouble by Shiloh Walker

Review + Excerpt: Headed for Trouble by Shiloh Walker Headed for Trouble Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Shiloh Walker. I should know better than to read one of her books and expect a casual read. Call me Holiday Impaired, or whatever, but I picked up Headed for Trouble expecting to sit down and read for a while, you know, before I started doing what I needed to accomplish for the day. Nope. DEVOURED IT. Good thing I didn’t have anything super important on the schedule, because I’m pretty sure I would’ve been that girl who canceled plans because she needed to sit on her couch, wrapped in a blanket, finishing a phenomenal book. I’m not sure how Ms. Walker does it; she manages to find a way to really connect with me at least once a year. I’m pretty sure Headed for Trouble is that book for 2016. In 2013, it was Beautiful Scars and Wrecked. 2014 brought Razed, and 2015’s book was Busted. And, I’m not sure exactly how to write this review without spoiling the intense plot. But I’m going to try. I really liked all the characters in Headed for Trouble, the first title in Walker’s new McKays series. Brannan and Moira McKay, Gideon, Hannah—I’m pretty sure readers have been set-up for the entire series with these intense and relatable characters. I’m also pretty sure we know who hooks up with whom, as well ☺ I like going into a series with predictions, and I trust Ms. Walker to take me on a rollercoaster until they reach their happily ever after. Brannan and Moira are Neve’s siblings, and play a major role in this title. I think we learned a lot about their personalities—especially Brannan—and have a great foundation for the development of future titles in the series. Gideon and Hannah are great characters, and support a host of purposes in Headed for Trouble, besides setting up future titles. Ian, one of our main characters, is a Scot in a kilt with a brogue. Panty. Melting. I think I fell so hard for him as a hero because he reminds me a lot of Mr. VampBard. He’s supportive, and he listens to Neve. He reads her body language. Most of all, I think I really connected with him because he didn’t let her wallow in a pool of self-pity. He made her want to be a better person, and I think everyone involved—especially her family—saw that as a good...
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Dec
22

Review: Calling the Play by Samantha Kane

Review: Calling the Play by Samantha Kane Calling the Play Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Tyler Oakes knows he’s on his last chance to make it as a pro quarterback, so he’s toned down his partying and is trying to focus on playing the game. But sometimes he needs to scratch an itch, and it doesn’t matter to him if companionship comes from males, females, or both at the same time. But when he meets undercover cop Randi McInish, he knows he wants more than just one night with this foul-mouthed sex pot. And then there is the Rebels’ new quarterback coach, Brian Mason, who shares a history with Tyler. When it’s clear that the two men have unspoken issues to resolve, can Randi step aside and let them discover love? Despite struggling with some issues while reading the first book in the series, I decided to give Calling the Play a shot. Unfortunately, after only hitting the 10% mark, I had to stop reading for two reasons. First – it was pretty obvious that this story was once again going to include a romance between a player and a coach. I had issues with how this was handled in the first book, and I was already cringing at the replay of this dynamic. Second – I couldn’t stand the heroine. She was simply obnoxious. I admire women who are all about “this is who I am and this is what you get,” but it was over the top. Her vocabulary pretty much only consisted of multiple 4-letter words strung together. I don’t mind a potty-mouth, but there is a time and place, and this felt forced. However, after taking a break from the book for a few weeks, I decided to pick it up again, and I’m happy to report, ended up enjoy it – more so than the first book. While I still had some issues with the book and the characters, overall, I liked the story and romance of Tyler, Randi, and Brian. While Randi still bugged me from time to time, I liked that she was protective of Ty, and eventually Brian. Additionally, as the story progressed, her level of unpleasantness toned down considerably. Meanwhile, the coach-player issue didn’t play out as it did in the first book, and I found I wasn’t irritated by the Brian-Tyler dynamic because 1) they have a history and 2) it’s still preseason and they aren’t in a player-coach...
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Dec
21

Review: Stuck Landing by Lauren Gallagher

Review: Stuck Landing by Lauren Gallagher Stuck Landing Author: Lauren Gallagher Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: After the long, painful dissolution of her previous relationship, Anna Maxwell isn’t in a hurry to jump into any new attachments, much less with anyone involved with Wolf’s Landing. But, when the tough, gorgeous stunt coordinator Anna has had a crush on for months suddenly breaks up with her boyfriend and makes it clear that she’s more than willing to help work off their mutual frustrations in bed, Anna sees no reason not to take her up on the offer. Even though Anna’s determined not to fall for a bisexual woman again, Natalya Izmaylova seems to be everything Anna has ever wanted in a partner. And while walking away should be easy, Anna is quickly learning that it most certainly is not. Told exclusively from Anna’s perspective, Stuck Landing follows the developing relationship between two wonderfully tenacious, extremely capable women who are perfect together—if they don’t self-destruct along the way. One thing I was especially pleased about is that both women are so open about what they want sexually. Anna and Natalya like and want sex, and it was nice to see that out there so matter-of-factly. Regardless, the chemistry between them is so obvious and undeniable that every scene they have together practically vibrates with it, whether they’re having sex or not. I was glad, but not at all surprised, to see biphobia addressed so unapologetically in the Bluewater Bay series, and by this author, in particular. As has been the case with just about every other story I’ve read in this collection, the stumbling blocks Natalya and Anna face seemed real, and were far from easily overcome. Biphobia is a serious problem that doesn’t get enough attention in literature, in my opinion, but Ms. Gallagher dissects the issue both thoughtfully as well as candidly, and I appreciated both very much. Once again, the Bluewater Bay series has proven that beautifully written, thought-provoking fiction is alive and well. Stuck Landing is frank and occasionally harsh, yet manages to be evocative and incredibly sweet in places, too. Ms. Gallagher has repeatedly demonstrated that she is an impressive storyteller, and makes quite a few good points here in a relatively short narrative. Although it can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading all of the Bluewater Bay stories, since each is unique, yet often interconnected. The entire series has a lot to offer, and is one...
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Oct
20

Review: The Single Undead Moms Club by Molly Harper

Review: The Single Undead Moms Club by Molly Harper The Single Undead Moms Club Author: Molly Harper Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Libby Stratton is a widowed, single mom fighting an incurable cancer. Faced with the prospect of leaving her six-year-old son Danny to be raised by her in-laws, Libby places an ad looking for someone to turn her into a vampire. After waking into her new life as one of the undead, Libby starts to realize the ramifications of her actions. Luckily Jane Jameson and her undead circle of friends help Libby make the necessary adjustments, and then there is Wade, hunky human father of her son’s best friend, who is willing to help Libby in ways the Vampire Council can’t. I always enjoy my time with the denizens of Half-Moon Hollow. Ms. Harper’s southern small town is filled with crazy mischief, lots of humor, good friends, and the occasional mishap or five. The regular cast of characters is extremely likable, and I want to befriend each as I cheer for a happy ending. On the flip side, her antagonists are generally despicable yet complex, and I enjoy that sometimes they aren’t as they seem. And while the Half-Moon Hollow series, as well as the original Jane Jameson series, feature the struggles of women who have been recently turned into vampires, The Single Undead Moms Club stands out because Libby must integrate herself back into the human world and raise her human son. I really enjoyed Libby and Wade as a potential couple. They shared an awkwardness and a “I don’t give a damn” attitude that bonded them right from the get go. Their initial spark smolders a bit until their passion ignites into flames. They just fit so well together, and they made me smile. I adored how much Wade cared for Libby and wanted to help her without smothering her. I also loved and appreciated Jane’s constant help, especially with the frame of reference that Jane didn’t have it when she had been turned. What I didn’t really care for was Libby’s unexplained attraction to her Sire, Finn. Having never met him, I didn’t understand Libby’s strong desire to make nice and almost please him. He came across quite creepy to me, and therefore her actions around him felt misplaced and odd. I felt similarly about his mysterious companion as well. Overall, I simply enjoyed The Single Undead Moms Club and found it to be an engrossing, quick read. Ms. Harper’s...
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Jun
9

Review: Light a Candle by VJ Summers

Review: Light a Candle by VJ Summers Light a Candle Author: VJ Summers Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Will Mitchell is a Dom who is looking for the perfect sub: someone who is challenging and self-aware; one whose needs align perfectly with the kind of dominance he has to give. While he’s become a competent Dom in Chicago, now that he’s back in Detroit, he wants to prove himself at the most selective, and desirable, BDSM club around: Club Deviant. What he never expected was to find himself face-to-face with the biggest mistake he ever made. Dustin is a sub down to his marrow. Submission centers him, thrills him, and makes him fly. As a house submissive and member at Club Deviant, he can usually find what he needs–for his body and spirit, at least, if not his heart. That was lost ten years ago to his friend and resident high school god, Will. Who promptly crushed it and abandoned the friendship they’d shared since they were kids. But, when Will turns up at the one place where Dusty can truly be himself, he’ll be tested as never before. And putting his heart on the line again might be too high a price to pay. Of the two main characters in Light a Candle, Dustin won me over immediately. Even during the flashbacks to his and Will’s high school days, he exhibits strength and perseverance that put me squarely in his corner for the entire story. Dustin describes his need for submission as being “as necessary to him as breathing,” and it’s evident in every scene he participates in. He doesn’t give in easily, but when he does, his submission is absolute and lovely. Just as importantly, Club Deviant is his “home,” in many regards, and I couldn’t help worrying for him when it seemed like he might lose it because of Will’s intrusion. Will, who often appears to be as arrogant and selfish as he was in high school, I didn’t like as much. While it may not be fair to punish Will eternally for his actions as an eighteen-year-old, his acknowledgement of his earlier cruelty to Dustin didn’t seem particularly sincere, just a means to an end. Similarly, his assumption that gaining forgiveness for the past entitles him to get his way now doesn’t exactly make him worthy of a sub like Dustin. It’s clearly not that simple. Every fear that Dustin has is absolutely valid, and I would have been...
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Jun
8

Reviews: Drawn That Way + The Professor’s Student by Bronwyn Green

Reviews: Drawn That Way + The Professor’s Student by Bronwyn Green Bound Series Author: Bronwyn Green Reviewer: Jen Twimom Publisher: self-published Genre: Erotic Romance, BDSM elements, Contemporary Format(s): paperback, e-book Book Source: Author Drawn That Way (Bound #2): Tristan Weaver, originally from U.K. is in the U.S. to make her own way in the world and enjoys her job as the accountant for Brecken Games. But when her boss, Rory Brecken, overhears Tristan and a coworker gossiping about Rory’s kinky sex life, she thinks her job may be over. Rory admits he enjoys sex and isn’t looking for a relationship, so when he is tempted both intellectually and physically by Tristan, he decides to break his own rule of never sleeping with his employees. Yet after one night, neither Rory nor Tristan are ready to end things. I absolutely adore Drawn That Way! Rory and Tristan make a wonderful pair, and their chemistry is palpable. I was emotionally connected to each character right from the get go; able to relate in some way or another to both. Watching each let go of their hangups and worries as they give into their mutual lust is satisfying. I also appreciate that the author addresses the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, which is a serious issue in today’s society. Overall, I totally loved Drawn That Way. While the story isn’t overly complex, it is emotionally satisfying. The characters are completely likable and grow enough to make the book fulfilling. Really, no shortcuts are taken in the story; it has a great flow and is enjoyable to read. The eroticism is equally emotional as it is sexual. My Rating:  A, Loved It   The Professor’s Student (Bound #3): Josie Green, an American archeology professor, is on a six week summer dig in Ireland, at Professor Declan O’Shaughnessy’s site. While Josie finds Declan utterly attractive, she thinks he is a perfectionist jerk. However, after a night of drinking too much, Josie lets Declan know just how much she wants him, and the pair begins a D/s relationship, intending to end once Josie leaves Ireland. The Professor’s Student is an erotic and highly sexual romance. While the pair doesn’t spend all of their time in the bedroom, the sex is the primary focus of the book, more so than either of the previous Bound stories. The initial scenes are passionate and lust-filled, and it’s all about the sex. Once Declan realizes that he enjoys having a partner who is equally as interested in his digs and finds as he...
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Apr
3

Review: Just Destiny by Theresa Rizzo

Review: Just Destiny by Theresa Rizzo Just Destiny Author: Theresa Rizzo   Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Just Destiny was presented to me as a contemporary romance, and while it had love at its very core, it doesn’t read like a typical romance.  There is sweetness, sincerity, and fleeting kisses, but no swooning or heaving.  In fact, there isn’t really even any dating since its main character is married.  Instead, as a legal drama it’s made dramatic by the complexity of the relationships it involves.  Just Destiny is an ode to the fact that life is messy and it takes maturity and growth to navigate it, but love makes the effort worth it. The book opens with main character, Mrs. Jenny Harrison, about to leave for the weekend on her second wedding anniversary.  She has just discovered that she is mere weeks along in an unplanned pregnancy.  The only person who knows is her next door neighbor and best friend, Steve, a retired major league baseball player and attorney.  The weekend away will be her perfect opportunity to tell her husband Gabe the good news.  Unfortunately a tragic accident takes Gabe and her unborn baby, leaving us with a despair that reminded me of the movie Return to Me.  No matter how many times I watch that movie, David Duchovny slumped against the door after his wife’s death still makes me cry. Rizzo takes us there and it is a tough way to start a book, but sets us up for the complications that follow. Jenny then raises an ethical battle when she chooses to both donate Gabe’s organs and save his sperm for future insemination.  This is the crux of the book and is made out to be a very big deal, inciting national media attention.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but then there were a couple references that seemed dated to me too.  (No one consults the newspaper for movie times anymore.)  I think the fact that science is racing ahead of the law makes for very interesting discussions as real-life application creates unforeseen scenarios, but this didn’t feel like one of them to me.  That, however, is likely Rizzo’s point, to incite discussion among her readers.  Is this a big deal or not? Rizzo treats her readers as intelligent, tossing in vocabulary like “quixotic” and “vituperative.”  For this reason, I had to question the motivation of some of her characters.  In a few places, it...
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Sep
6

Review: Bound by Lies by Lynn Kelling

Review: Bound by Lies by Lynn Kelling Bound By Lies Author: Lynn Kelling  Reviewer: B. Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Having escaped the stigma of a destroyed family and the cruel whispers of his classmates four years ago, Brayden Clare never considered returning to his hometown again. But, after experiencing the desolation of abandonment personally, he’s not about to do the same to his remaining relatives when they call on him for help. Life at the beach and a lack of conviction about his own sexuality hasn’t exactly prepared him to be a successful caretaker, however, yet he’s determined to do what’s right, regardless of the cost, even if it means losing his freedom to the voices of the past. Golden boy Jenner Parrish, owner of the local bar, has always had it easy, or so everyone else in his small town thinks. Determined to stay out of the crosshairs of the bullies in his high school, he spent his time then as part of their group, often horrified by their exploits, yet never taking a stand against them. While he’s come to terms with his needs as a Dominant privately, his dread of rejection and worry over the opinions of others keep him from living the life he so desperately wants, leaving him isolated and withdrawn. But, when his fantasy-come-to-life walks through his door in need of a job, Jenner begins to question everything about the life he’s built for himself, and realizes that, sometimes, taking risks is the only option. I’ve been very happy to see an increase in the number of novels about “alternative lifestyles” I’ve had the opportunity to read recently, especially when those stories determinedly address some of the misconceptions and myths surrounding their subjects. Bound by Lies, I was delighted to find, does exactly that. Brayden is plagued by insecurities about his desire to submit, believing his need to be dominated to be a validation for all the horrible things that happened during his high school years. Jenner is likewise hiding who he really is, fearing the rejection of both family and friends should they discover who he really is: a closeted gay man who is most at peace when spending time as a Dom. While the majority of Bound by Lies revolves around the sexual relationship of the two main characters, it is through these scenes that we see what drives both men in its most distilled form. By finally addressing their mutual needs, they are...
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Jul
31

Review: In Too Deep by Michelle Kemper Brownlow

Review: In Too Deep by Michelle Kemper Brownlow In Too Deep Author: Michelle Kemper Brownlow Reviewer: Ang Rating: DNF Gracie has just finished her freshman year of college in Memphis when she takes a job at a local pizza joint in her home town of McKenzie, Tennessee. She is the epitome of innocence when she meets Noah. Noah is unabashedly handsome, intriguingly reckless and just cocky enough to be sexy. Gracie’s instincts tell her to stay far away from him and based on the stories she hears from her co-workers he leaves broken hearts in his wake. But still, she can’t explain her fascination with him. Noah puts aside his bad boy ways when what he thought was a summer crush has him unexpectedly falling in love. But soon after Gracie transfers to UT Knoxville to be with Noah, their unexpected love becomes riddled with anger, deceit and humiliation. Jake, Noah’s former roommate and Gracie’s best friend, can no longer be a bystander. Gracie’s world falls out from beneath her and when she breaks she turns to Jake for strength. As Jake talks her through a decision she’s not yet strong enough to make, together they uncover a truth so ugly neither of them is prepared for its fallout. Will Jake pull her to the surface or is Gracie Jordan finally In Too Deep? What I’m Talking About: Let me start by saying I did not finish this book, not because the writing was weak (which at times it was) or the topic poorly handled (which I also felt like applied in spots), but mostly because of my own baggage. I am a survivor of both domestic and dating violence. I have lived through what Ms. Brownlow attempts to address in this book. I have survived and moved forward, but reading the constant manipulation, coercion and rape, yes rape because anytime a person feels like they have no voice in the sexual side of a relationship it is in fact rape, of Gracie was more than I could handle. My memories of being a coerced and feeling like I had no choice in my relationship, feeling like I had to question my every thought and move, are still close enough in my memory that I immediately related to and was rooting for Gracie. I saw her inner strength and the support of her friends right from the start, but the inconsistencies in her character made it hard for me to continue cheering her on or even believe parts of the story. For example, she...
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