Wicked Fall by Sawyer Bennett

It’s safe to say that Sawyer Bennett does not shy away from all things sex. In fact, this book is all about sex. A secret sex club, in fact, with a country western bar as front. Talk about a fun read…but definitely a steamy one, so proceed with caution should you want to read this in public.

Wicked Fall

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
The owner of a secret sex club likes to play it loose and dirty until his high school friend’s sister, who he had a thing for, comes back to town after breaking up with her fiance. The full synopsis can be found at this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
There is a good balance between sex and romance in this book, even though I think the book was about 80% sexy times, and ones meant to push the envelope on steaminess. This book is definitely contemporary erotica, and it’s very sex positive. Woolf allows Callie to explore her curiosities without pushing her or making her uncomfortable, and taking the time to talk to her about things after a particularly exploratory scene involving Woolf’s best friend.

Blanche aroused

Also, the general theme of the story is safe, consensual, fun sex, even if it’s kinky, and I really liked that in this world, there were couples who engaged in these activities and were comfortable doing so, the experimentation helping to strengthen their own relationship. Yay for sex positivity!

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
The only issue I took with Woolf’s attitude towards Callie was that he “knew” this lifestyle wasn’t for her. He’s definitely an alpha male, so I guess it was to be expected. It didn’t detract from his character, as it was part of who he was, and overall, I really liked him as the hero. But part of me wanted Callie to be like, “Let’s do that again!”

fistpump

The Romance Factor
While only slightly angsty, I really loved the way Woolf handled Callie when showing her his world, and though most of their interactions were hot and dirty, there were some very sweet moments, too. 4/5 RF

The Steam Factor
I don’t know if I’ve done this before, but this book is getting a major 6/5 on the SF scale. The world this is set in explores all sorts of kinks and the author doesn’t hold back the detail, using all of the senses to let the reader know what’s going on. If you’re not used to a high level of sex in books, you might want to work up to this one.

Final Thoughts
I think Bennett is going to deliver another hot and fun series, and I can’t wait to read the next book, which is introduced in the epilogue of this one in a scene that I found to be strangely hilarious and enticing.

Frisk Me by Lauren Layne

Those who’ve followed my blog for awhile know I have massive reader love for Lauren Layne. Her books hit all my favorite tropes, and the angst she infuses into her novels give me all the feels. So even though I’ve never been a hardcore man-in- uniform reader, I pretty much have faith that if Layne writes it, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it.

Frisk Me

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A cop famous for his heroic deeds caught on YouTube is shadowed by a reporter for a show that could make her career, but guilt over his past gets in the way of the feelings he has for her. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
As expected, I devoured this novel and loved every minute of it, my favorite part being the banter and dialog between the characters. Luc and Ava have amazing chemistry, which always just makes the angst that much better because you feel the conflict (all the heart feels). However, it’s not just their interaction that works in this book, but also their interactions with others. I loved Luc’s family dynamic, and his conversations with his grandmother cracked me up. Feisty old ladies in novels are so full of win, I can’t even.

This book also took on some serious themes, like survivor’s guilt. Though some of her previous books have had serious elements to them, this one definitely stepped it up a notch. I suppose with cop heroes, things have to get serious, but I shed some reader tears at a few heartbreaking points in the story.

Flynn Feels

The Romance Factor
The chemistry and angst that I previously talked about made for some top romance. Also, I loved the similarities between Luc and Ava. This isn’t an opposites attract situation, even though they work in opposing jobs, and the fact that they were so alike led to this great understanding between the two of them…though they still brought the conflict. Definitely a 5/5 RF.

The Steam Factor
The sensuality of the sex scenes added a great deal to the romance, but they were also super steamy. Though not as taboo or graphic as others, it was definitely enough to make a girl have to fan herself while reading in public. 4/5.

Charlie Sheen - Hot Collar

Final Thoughts
This is the first in the New York’s Finest series, and I can’t wait to read the second one. She also has some other things coming out this year, so basically, I’ll be stocked in romance crack until the end of the year. Please Lauren Layne…just take my money!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This review is going to take a different tone than my normal ones because this book isn’t a romance. I first heard about A Little Life on the podcast Books on the Nightstand. It caught my attention because of how it affected one of the co-hosts, and I was intrigued. Now, after having read it, I know she wasn’t exaggerating. This book completely wrecked my emotions.

Trigger warnings: While I want to recommend this, I need to note several triggering items contained in this book for readers who don’t wish to read about certain things. The book contains themes and graphic descriptions of the following: physical and sexual child abuse, violent domestic abuse, drug use, cutting, and suicide.

22822858

Synopsis
The book tells the story of four friends after they graduate from college, each with their own issues, insecurities, and plans for the future. It spans several decades and touches on each of their lives, but at the center of the story is Jude, a quiet man who has problems with his legs due to an incident in his past that he won’t talk to anyone about. In fact, Jude doesn’t tell anyone about his past, a fact which his friends try to respect even though it brings about a good amount of resentment from them.

The Story
The story jumps times, moving forward when ready to show the characters after a span of time and going back to show the details of Jude’s childhood. Though sometimes the timeline isn’t clear, the story is well written and well paced. The reader glimpses the lives of the four friends as well as several people that come into their lives later to play important roles. There is also an evolution to the friends’ core relationship. At times they drift apart or have falling outs. Other times, their relationship changes to more than friendship, and while there is a hint of romance in this book, it’s read with caution and the worry that things are not going to turn out well.

The People
The characters are multi-dimensional, but rather than show the reader the characters in one shot of exposition, the author unfolds their stories over the multi-decade narrative. This is especially true of Jude’s story. The way this is done kept me on edge and always feeling the tension and emotion in the story. I’d no sooner come to terms with one aspect of Jude’s life before being shown another aspect.

The Emotion
I’m holding back from saying too much because I think this book needs to be experienced for its full emotional value. However, I will admit that I cried quit a bit while reading this book, and even more after finishing it. The story was so powerful to me that I was still thinking about it the next day, and still getting emotional about it. And it wasn’t a quiet cry either. It was an all out sobfest, complete with puffy eyes the next day.

Final Thoughts
I want people to read this, but I want them to know that they’re getting into a very sad story about mostly good people. This is not a feel good book, but it does make you feel things, some good, some bad. It’s also not a quick read. It’s a long book (700+ pages) and it’s one that should be absorbed, not skimmed.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

I can’t use it as an excuse for not being caught up on my book reviews, but the Kansas summer is currently uncomfortably hot. I’m in between summer road trips, so I’m mostly staying in with the air conditioning and reading. However, there has also been exercise, gaming, and a little bit of Portlandia, so I’m finally doing other things besides binge reading. This book, however, kept me up way past my bedtime.

One Plus ONe

One-Sentence Synopsis
A tech geek awaiting trial for insider trading decides to help a struggling mother and her two kids get to a math competition, and in doing so, gains a different perspective on life and himself. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
I loved this book so much. While there’s definitely a romance to it and a little bit of comedy, it has a poignancy that takes it to another level of fiction. The characters are engaging, quirky, and multi-dimensional, and the way each chapter is told from a different point of view gives the reader insight and empathy for each one. Even the two kids are great, each well written with a personality of their own.

The story has all the feels, not just the gushy romance ones, but sadness and anger as well. Jess doesn’t have it easy. She’s a single mom who can barely make ends meet, can’t get her ex-husband to pay child support, and can’t get the police to do anything about the boys bullying her stepson. She works all the time to just barely feed her family, and yet she still tries to do everything in her power for her children, even if it means doing something she might not normally do…even if she knows it’s wrong.

Ed is a fabulous hero who doesn’t start out to be a hero. Though book smart, he’s slightly socially inept and a little selfish. When he reaches out to help Jess, it’s outside of his comfort zone, which means conflict and delicious angst.

uncomfortable

The Romance Factor
The romance in this was well developed and well paced, and…not going to lie…I melted. Ed and Jess’ interactions are so honest and difficult at times, that when their relationship develops, there are moments that just got me in the feels. There was one scene in particular where Jess propositions Ed and is, for reasons, rejected. Such feels.  5/5

The Steam Factor
There was not a great deal of description when it came to the more steamy scenes, but then again, the relationship didn’t lend itself to hot sexy times. The intimate moments between Ed and Jess were just that…a way to develop their intimacy and to get close to each other and to show that they were truly happy when they were together. Because of that sweet sensuality, I’m giving the SF a 3/5.

Flynn Feels

Final Thoughts
This book made me happy. Not all of the moments. I cried, I laughed, I felt sick at some of the things Jess’ family had to go through, but when I got to the end of this book, I felt so much joy and satisfaction from having read it that I wanted to go back and read it again. I didn’t, because it was time to move on…but I wanted to.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I’ve been jumping on all sorts of bandwagons lately. I recently finished watching all 5 seasons of Game of Thrones (amazing) and I decided to read The Rosie Project. I don’t know why I don’t generally go with what the popular audience is reading. I’m contrary. However, I couldn’t resist the premise of this one. It sounded sweet and fun and right up my alley.

The Rosie Project

One-Sentence Synopsis
A quirky geneticist sets up a project to find a wife but finds himself working with and becoming friends with a woman who doesn’t meet his criteria. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodread’s page.

The Good Stuff
Don is an interesting character as a professor who has Asperger’s but doesn’t seem to realize that he has it. Because the story is told from his point of view, we only see things through his eyes, but the author ensures that the reader still has an idea of what’s going on with the other characters, like Don’s philandering friend and his wife.

There are some great and funny moments in the book. There’s a scene in which Don is taking and serving drinks to a room full of people that I found to be high energy and fun. His character wasn’t always nice, but he was interesting and I thought his development and how he came to understand the world and his own feelings was well done.

Spock

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I wanted to like Rosie, but I just didn’t connect with her. I feel like she’s your standard quirky cool girl who saves the hero, but there wasn’t anything remarkable about her. I also spent most of the book waiting for them to get in trouble with the Father Project, figuring it seemed weird and a little unethical to be stealing samples of people’s DNA, even if it was to help Rosie out.

The Romance Factor
Though I didn’t feel much for Rosie, I did like the way their relationship subtly developed and how Don was too wrapped up in his own head to realize what was going on. There was a suitable amount of angst and I had a few feels, so I’ll give this 4/5.

wut

The Steam Factor
The book relies more on the romantic comedy aspect of love rather than any sexy times, so I wouldn’t consider this book steamy or erotic at all. I think there was kissing and sex talk, but nothing to make me blush. 1/5.

Final Thoughts
Though the beginning was slow for me, I ended up liking the book overall. I’m debating whether I need to read the sequel or if I just want to call it good on this one’s happy ending.

Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt

There are so many good historical authors that I’d never read before, but now that I’m discovering them, I’m also rekindling my affair with historical romances after indulging in contemporaries for awhile. Going forward, I’ll be balancing the two out, but on my continue-to-read list is Elizabeth Hoyt. This was the first book of hers I’ve read, and I loved it.

Dearest Rogue

One-Sentence Synopsis
A blind lady targeted by kidnappers for nefarious plots must rely on her bodyguard to keep her safe, despite her need for independence and her unexpected and quickly escalating feelings for him. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
I loved that the heroine, Phoebe, was blind but still fierce and wanting of her independence. She knows her limitations, but she also knows what she wants to do. Unfortunately, she can’t seem to get out from under the thumb of her brother and is constantly shadowed by her bodyguard.

Trevillion feels like he should be an alpha hero, but really, he’s not. He’s gruff, but he’s sweet, and the fact that he keeps the fact that he’s in love with Phoebe a secret makes me love him that much more. Also, I can’t resist a flawed hero, and Trevillion has a bad leg, so how I could I not love him?

Too Precious

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I’m guessing Phoebe’s brother is the main character in another book in this series. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I really didn’t like her brother at all, but maybe if I’d read his story first, I’d have seen him in a different light? Not sure yet, but I do plan on going back and reading the other books in this series, so it should be an adventure.

The Romance Factor
Definitely 5/5. I thought Trevillion and Phoebe had that amazing sweet chemistry that I love in my romance novel couples, and I adored how even though he wanted to protect her, he put her happiness and wish for independence first.

The Steam Factor
Full disclosure, I finished this book several days ago and have delayed writing a post for it due to busy times in other areas of life. I don’t remember the sexy times being overly scandalous, but it’s possible they were just overshadowed by the romance. So I’m giving this a 3/5 since I know there were some detailed scenes, but I was apparently too wrapped up in the love story to get hot and bothered over them.

Smooching

Final Thoughts
Flawed characters for the win! I’m definitely going to read more of this series in the hopes that I get more similar in style to this one.

Ride Steady (A Chaos Novel) by Kristen Ashley

I was on the fence about biker romances, but I grabbed this one on NetGalley because one of my favorite podcasts, Dear Bitches, Smart Authors, have talked frequently about the crack that is a Kristen Ashley novel. I decided to find out for myself why this author was so addicting.

Ride Steady

I received an ARC of this novel free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A biker from a broken home and a woman struggling to take care of her son on her own connect years after knowing each other in high school and try to forge a relationship through the emotional baggage they’re carrying. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
They weren’t lying when they said Ashley’s books are addictive. Here’s the thing…there were things about this book I didn’t particularly like, but I had a really hard time putting it down. It’s not a one-sitting read either. The book is long because the author doesn’t just take the story over one conflict, she takes it over the whole situation. In the story of Joker and Carissa, we not only have the angst of their romance, but we also get to see what happens when their relationship settles down and becomes good. We get to see the characters’ dynamic with other people in their life, like Joker’s friends who supported him when he was growing up in an abusive house, and Carissa’s douche canoe ex-husband. It’s easy for a story to become bogged down in different conflicts and plot lines, but Ashley seems to have a knack for doing this and doing it well.

bikers

I also liked the fact that the motorcycle club that Joker belonged to wasn’t a criminal gang, but they weren’t above taking it there (on the down low) to defend or take care of a member of their family. I also liked the character development. Joker and Carissa both evolve during the book, and the author shows this, rather than tells it, especially in the dialogue, where Joker went from ignoring pronouns, which drove me nuts, to talking in full sentences.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
Though I really enjoyed this book, I found several aspects of it fairly jarring. For instances, even though I’ve seen it on TV shows and in movies and have read it in other books, having the bikers refer to their women as “bitches” took some getting used to. As I mentioned before, I hated Joker’s cut off sentences, and he’s not the only character in the book to use them. It was hard for me to hear him talk in a way that didn’t sound weird. Though Carissa turns out okay, there are parts of the book where she’s super whiny and annoying. Strangely enough, she was also endearing, so I wanted to hit her, but then I wanted to hug her.

The Romance Factor
I think the only reason I’m not giving this one a 5/5 romance factor rating is because of the whole “bitches” thing, because that was hard for me to get around.

Retta

But the relationship between two broken people was sweet. There was a sense of possession at first, but Joker was mostly supportive of Carissa and wanted to see her happy. Their whole damsel-in-distress meet cute (she was stranded with a flat tire, he stopped to help her) was kind of adorable. This one gets a 4/5.

The Steam Factor
There was alot of sex in this book, but it wasn’t used as filler. It was part of the story and it was entertaining and it was definitely steamy and a little graphic. I’m giving it a 5/5 Steam Factor and noting that it also fits into the romance because of the way Joker made Carissa feel about her body (typical self conscious heroine, but rather than being over the top, this interplay was done very well and realistically and didn’t go on too long).

Scrubs - So Hot

Final Thoughts
It’s a pretty easy call…I’m definitely going to read more of Kristen Ashley’s books. In fact, while in Michigan, I found another Chaos novel at a used bookstore and grabbed it up. Her writing is addictive. Even the things I didn’t like drew me into the world she created. This one is a sweet romance with some action and a few non-romantic violent scenes to add to the more dangerous plots Joker had to deal with. I’m pretty sure this author will find a place on my must-read list.