Book Review: Partner Games by Jessica Clare

It took me way too long to get to this book, especially because this is one of the series I auto-buy. I was hooked on the Games series from the beginning. There’s something awesome about steamy romance happening during a reality game show.


One-Sentence Synopsis
Sisters compete in reality TV game show and ally themselves with biker guys who they find different types of chemistry with. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Sisterly Love
I’ve been reading  a lot of books with less than likeable family members lately, so it was nice to read one about sisters who actually get along and love each other. They’ve decided to go on the World Race together, but from the beginning, nerdy Clementine knows something isn’t quite right with her normally confident model sister Georgie. Clem’s stress is only compounded by the strange chemistry she has with one of the guys from another team.

Teaming Up
Swift and Plate (biker names…no joke) are drawn to the sisters from the start. Swift has a thing for nerdy girls and finds Clementine adorable. Plate recognizes Georgie from her modeling work and has a huge crush on her, even though he’s not her type (he’s a big teddy bear of a guy and she’s used to dating male models).

Nerdy Girl Gets the Guy
The dynamics between the two couples were different but still sweet. The romance and heat comes from Swift and Clementine. Clementine still has her v-card and it takes her awhile to believe that Swift genuinely likes her. It doesn’t help that they’re trying to win a million dollars, so  besides her lack of confidence, Clemmy is also dealing with being unsure of how much she can trust her allies.

Georgie and Plate are the friends of the story, but they’re super close and their relationship is adorable. Georgie is struggling with a traumatic thing that happened to her when she was modeling, and Plate has the knack for keeping her calm when she has a meltdown. They’re flirty, but Plate is the perfect gentleman, never taking advantage of Georgie and doing what he can to be supportive and kind to her.

Just Friends?
Major props to the author for being able to the tell the story of two different couples using a first person point of view from one character (Clementine) the whole time. She does add little blurbs at the beginning of each chapter which are segments of interviews the contestants gave for the show. Considering these are just short blurbs among a longer story, it was impressive that I still felt a whole range of emotion from all the characters.


The Romance Factor
I’m a sucker for a nerdy heroine, and Clementine is perfect. She and Swift have good chemistry, and there is a ton of foreplay between them. On the other side of the story, Plate is the kind of guy who’s rough around the edges but he’s the perfect match for Georgie. And while a later romance between Plate and Georgie is only hinted at, the development of their relationship and their strong friendship is genuine. Luckily, the author released a holiday short story about those two on her blog, so I was able to get a little more bliss after I finished this book. 5/5

The Steam Factor
There’s a lot of stolen kisses between Clem and Swift throughout the book, and though there seemed to be a much lower level of sex in this one than in the previous Games books, when the hotel room started rocking, it was worth the wait. Probably for the characters too. 5/5

Final Thoughts
I really can’t get enough of this series, and I’m always a little bummed when I have to wait for another one to come out. The premise is simple, so you’d think eventually they’d start to get boring, but not yet and maybe not for me. I find the whole romance/reality TV combo thing to be quite pleasing.

Book Review: Heart of the Gladiator by Lydia Pax

Recently I added a blurb to my blog about solicitations, but I received a request from the author to read this book long before that went up, and I’d accepted because the premise interested me. Sadly, I didn’t get through my reading list as quickly as I thought I would, so it’s taken me awhile, but I’m happy to say I finally finished it.  Once I sat down to read it, I really enjoyed had a hard time to putting it down.


I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A slave who treats the wounds of gladiators falls in love with one, despite the fact that both of them have been targeted by someone with the power to destroy them both. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot
Aeliana was sold into slavery by her father who thought he was doing her a favor by selling her in a way that would allow her to learn a trade. Her skills as a medicae come in handy when she’s patching up the gladiators who fight for the house she’s a slave to, but she makes no secret that she thinks gladiators are, for lack of a better word, idiots. When she meets Caius, a gladiator who had retired but is now returning in order to make money to raise his daughter, she doesn’t know who he is and so tells him exactly what she thinks about his occupation. Oops.


Back in the Arena
Caius is angry at first, but he gets over it relatively quickly. His return is somewhat of a challenge, as he’s out of shape and has a reputation. He’s dealing with the guilt of killing his last opponent, as well as the memory of that being the day his wife died in childbirth.

Mo’ Muscles, Mo’ Problems
Now, Caius has a whole new set of problems. Besides the fact that he’s attracted to Aeliana, he’s also dealing with Porcia, the woman in power of the house who wants him dead for reasons he can’t understand, a gladiator who’s a violent wild card, and the brother of the man he killed who has vowed to take his life in return.

Factoids and Tigers and Bears
It sounds like there was a lot going on in this book, and there was. But it was written so well that the plot flowed seamlessly. I was able to follow the story, even though there were a lot of historical and technical facts about gladiators, as well as quite a bit of language for the time and setting. There were also some great action scenes, including one involving a bear and a tiger that stands out as vivid, well-paced, nail-biting fun.


Evil Women
Though I felt the novel was more plot based than character based, I still enjoyed the characters. I loved that Aeliana was a competent heroine, sadly hindered by society and how women of her station were treated at the time.  In general, though, the gladiators treated her well. In fact, her biggest source of conflict was some woman-on-woman hate from Porcia, who did her best to bully and blackmail her into doing what she wanted.

True Gladiator
Caius was determined and strong and driven to die in the arena if it meant keeping his daughter safe. Even when Aeliana throws a wrench into his intentions, neither one of them pretend that his survival is a sure thing. As the reader, we know he’s probably going to live, but I liked the realism that they didn’t and they expected that he’d be killed fighting.

Really a Romance?
Having said that about the happy ending, I did sometimes wonder if it was going to happen. Parts of the plot seem so bleak for these two. Also, while this is a romance novel, much of the time I felt like I was reading general fiction that just had romance thrown in. I’m not saying it wasn’t good, but the atmosphere and theme of the book was definitely powerful on the historical and gladiating side.

The Romance Factor
Saying the romance took second place to the setting isn’t giving it the credit its due. The romance was there and it was sweet. Caius and Aeliana seem to fall for each other quickly, but the time is one where death was common. I imagine that when two people had strong feelings for each other, they rolled with it. And that’s what the story seemed to convey. It felt real and it felt strong. 4/5

The Steam Factor
There wasn’t a lot of sex on this one, only 2 scenes that I can recall. While tame language was used, there’s a scene where Aeliana and Caius sneak away to make out by the river, and the element of getting caught made that one titillating. 3/5

Final Thoughts
Even though it took me so long to get to this one, I really liked it. It’s a quick read but well worth sitting down and letting yourself get caught up in the setting. This is the start of a series, and I’d definitely like to read more.

Book Review: Atone by Beth Yarnall

Just a quick housekeeping note. I few weeks back, I put a new page on the blog regarding solicitations and requests to review books. I’d been receiving a lot of authors asking me to read their books, and I wanted to address where I stand on this. This doesn’t need to be read by everyone (obviously if you’re a reader and not a writer, you don’t even need to worry about it), but anyone wanting to ask me to review their book should know that even though there are exceptions, it will not be my practice moving forward to accept all requests.

Trigger warnings for this book: There are very dark and heavy themes and descriptions of sex trafficking, abuse, and rape.

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A man recently released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit is now working to help a young woman find her sister who was drawn into a dark world that the woman knows much about. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
I read the first book in this series, and while it was okay, I remember feeling like it had a very young adult vibe. The second book revolves around Beau, the brother who Cora fought to release from prison by proving his innocence, and Vera, a troubled and secretive woman who needs the investigation agency to help her find her sister. Unlike the first book, there was no YA vibe. This one is dark and disturbing, and yet somehow manages to still be romantic.

Damaged Halves of a Whole
Beau and Vera are both damaged. Beau isn’t quite over his murdered girlfriend, not just because she was taken from him, but because their relationship before she was killed was rocky. When he meets Vera, he sees another damaged soul and wants to be her champion, much like his sister championed him and worked tirelessly to get him out of jail.

Vera is also drawn to Beau, but she can’t get over the things in her past that she feels make her “less than” and not worthy of his love. She keeps most of her history from him as long as possible, thinking that when he finds out about her past, he won’t want to be with her. Not only that, but the things she was involved with, which tie in directly with her sister’s disappearance, are things that can get her killed if she’s discovered by the man at the center of it all.


Dark Side
This is definitely not a lighthearted fun read. It’s dark and sad and highlights the nasty world of sex trafficking. Vera is a strong woman. I liked her, I felt bad for her, and I wanted to see her “win” and get revenge on the man who abused her. Beau seems to understands her pain and does his best to handle her carefully, though he doesn’t always succeed due to his own background which affects the way he sees things. I found the characters to be realistic and poignant, and it was their characterization that made the book enjoyable for me.

The Romance Factor
It’s hard to resolve the theme of this book with the fact that the book is a contemporary romance, but the author makes it work. Beau and Vera share a bond that no one else can really understand, and it shows by Vera’s willingness to fully trust him and no one else, and Beau’s determination to stay with her and protect her no matter what. 4/5


The Steam Factor
I struggled a little bit with the sex in this book, not because the sex scenes weren’t well written, because they were, and they were definitely steamy. But it was hard for me to reconcile the fact that Vera had been brutally used and abused and yet was still somehow completely sexually functional when it came to Beau. I understand that psychologically, this is possible, that some people can compartmentalize and still have a healthy sex life with someone they trust. I just expected Vera to have a bit more difficulty with it than she did. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Even though I thought the first book was just “okay,” I really enjoyed this one. It’s a heavy read, but it’s worth it and sends a message of redemption and hope that resonated with me.

Book Review: Power Play by Sophia Henry

I’d had some issues with the first book, but it had enough redeeming qualities that I wanted to continue the series. This book was actually a more enjoyable read for me in general, and though there were a few things that gave me “meh” moments, I connected more with the characters and liked the way everything played out.

Trigger warning: Rape is a prevalent theme in this one, so proceed with caution.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A young woman trying to help her family run a business finds that her long time crush is not as unrequited as she thought it was, but past trauma threatens her chance at happiness. For a full synopsis see this book’s Goodreads page.

Hockey 4Eva
I’m always drawn to books that center around hockey, and like the first one in the series, this one takes us back to Detroit and the minor league hockey team, the Pilots (though there are enough Red Wings references to keep me happy).

ice hockey falling

Italian “Princess”
Gabriella helps run her family’s store, so when her father has a heart attack, she’s determined to do what she can to market the store and bring in more business, despite the fact her father hasn’t trusted her to run the store and has given the job to Gabriella’s loser brother who can’t even run a credit card the right way.

Not Your Typical Player
Landon is a hockey player who’s had a crush on Gabriella for years. She’s had one on him too, but in her mind, he’s a hockey player  and way too good for her. So when he helps her the day her father goes the hospital, he uses this as his gateway to finally telling her how he feels about her. He’s kind of cute in a nerdy way that one doesn’t normally associate with hockey players.

Playing Out the Relationship
I prefer that romance build in the stories I read, so the fact that Landon tells Gabriella he’s had a crush on her before the book is even halfway done took away from the foreplay factor. Once the feelings are in the open, most stories just play out the dynamics of the relationship. In this case, though, Gabriella can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that the man she’s been infatuated with for years would actually return her feelings.

Past Trauma
There’s a lot of back and forth with Gabriella saying she’s not beautiful and Landon telling her she is. At first, I found this annoying, but then the story unfolds and it becomes understandable where this comes from. Even though we find out right at the beginning that Gabriella was raped, it’s not until later when she’s trying to make a relationship work with Landon that we see how it’s affected her life. Even though, as a reader, we have a general idea, it definitely makes an impact when the details are revealed.

Family Probs
This is another book with family that can be classified as pains in the asses. While Gabriella’s mother and one of her brother’s is okay and supportive of Gabriella, the loser brother and her father are so highly unlikable. I wasn’t a fan of Gabriella being treated less than because she was a young woman when she obviously kicked ass at working. There were a couple redeeming moments for her family, but overall, I really didn’t like them.

Tough Subjects
The subject of rape was handled well.  Because Gabriella was raped by someone she knew, and because the family had ties with the family of the boy who raped her, she was basically ignored in favor of keeping business relations with the family of the rapist (her grandfather was an ass). I liked that the author also included things that come along with rape, such as depression and anxiety, and the stigma that Gabriella felt about having to take medications to handle what she thought was her “crazy.”

The Romance Factor
Landon is sweet and treats Gabriella with respect, support, and kindness. Though not super angsty, there’s a bit of conflict towards the end that I enjoyed. 4/5


The Steam Factor 
Sex isn’t prevalent, but the few scenes that do happen are steamy and detailed, with respect towards Gabriella’s rape. There’s an especially good one of bathroom floor sex that leads to a cameo of the couple from the first book. 4/5

Final Thoughts
This is a hockey novel with very little hockey, so readers looking for a lot of ice action may be disappointed. The story is sweet, and even though the family and some other side characters are annoying, Landon and Gabriella are likeable enough to make up for it.

Book Review: Call Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill

Book titles that are song titles (even if unintentional) give me earworms the whole time I’m reading it. Luckily, I like the song Call Me, Maybe, and also, I finished this book in one sitting. Though the plot doesn’t seem overly exciting at first glance,  I found I couldn’t put it down.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
When the black sheep of a wealthy family accidentally picks up the wrong phone at the airport, she finds herself falling for the guy she accidentally switched with, but her past leaves her with doubts, secrets, and trust issues. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Oops…My Bad
I love stories that have the hero and heroine meeting in an unconventional way. In this case, they meet when Clementine’s brother grabs the wrong phone from the airport and she ends up with the phone of a good looking guy she tripped over in the airport. At the time they realize what happened, Clementine and Justin are going to different parts of the country for different reasons, but as luck would have it, they both live in Chicago, so the cell phone switch isn’t entirely a tragedy.


Going Viral
In the few days they have each other’s phones, Justin and Clem get to know each other…sort of. Clem isn’t entirely truthful, but she has a good reason in the beginning. Besides the fact that her family is wealthy and she gets weird reactions whenever she tells people who she is, Clem is also “on watch” by said family for an incident that involved her, an ex-boyfriend, and some nude photos that ended up on the internet years before.

Pronounced Clemen-Teen
I really wanted the phone relationship to last longer, but even when Justin and Clem got together and started a relationship in person, I enjoyed the read. Clem is the poor little rich girl who doesn’t come across as annoying. In fact, I completely empathized with her lack of direction in life. I couldn’t relate to having so much money that I could nothing if I wanted, but I could understand her conflicts.

Yay & Nay
One of my favorite aspects of Clementine is that she’s not only a reader, but she’s a book blogger/review as well, under a fake name so her family doesn’t know she’s on the internet. One of my least favorite aspects was her overbearing family and her flaky parents who dumped her and her siblings off at their grandparents when they were kids so they could go be humanity warriors in other countries. Don’t get me wrong, causes are good and all, but I can’t stand selfish parents in books or real life.


Getting to Know You
Justin is an all-around good guy with some issues of his own. Still, there were times I wondered if Clem’s paranoia was justified. It really could have gone either way, especially because the story is told completely from Clementine’s point of view. I usually prefer seeing both sides, but seeing only Clem’s thoughts worked so well in this case because seeing things through her eyes gave us a dash of mystery mixed in with the romance.

The Romance Factor
Though Justin is sometimes a little too good to be true, he’s the kind of hero that makes women swoon. He’s kind and sweet to Clementine. He’s also very touchy feely, which works well for the story since Clementine seems to like to be touched. Or at least she doesn’t mind it. I enjoyed their dialogue and interactions, and though there weren’t as many feels in this one, there were definitely some cute moments. 4/5

The Steam Factor
This was more of a fun romantic comedy than anything spicy, and there were no steamy sex scenes (except for one warmish phone sex scene). There was some making out and kissing to lead in to what was going to happen, but it was all closed door. Which actually worked really well for this book. I think a lot of detailed sex would have taken away from the fun vibe of the story. 2/5

Final Thoughts
This was a fun book to read and I really enjoyed it. Also, even though the characters get their happily ever after, the ending doesn’t completely follow the normal formula. I don’t want to give it away, but I will say that the ending does a great job of leaving things open ended, either for another book or for readers just to let their imaginations run a little wild.

Book Review: The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

I recently got to spend a day reading. I didn’t read the whole time, of course, but I did manage to finish three books, and it’s been a long time since I’ve done that. This was one of the three. I love Hoyt’s books, and since I’m currently waiting for the next Maiden Lane book to come out, I feel this may be my chance to catch up on her other series.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A widow takes a position as secretary to a scarred earl, only to find that her feelings for him leave her willing to do scandalous things when she finds out he frequents a brothel in London. For a fully synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Things of Ill Repute
I sometimes think my little one sentence explanations make the books sound deviant and not as good as they really are. Don’t worry. In this case, we don’t actually see the earl, Edward, do any brothel-like things, at least not without Anna. The story is actually very sweet and sensual. Anna is plain and comes with trust issues since her late husband cheated on her and blamed her when they couldn’t have children. In fact, she’s just accepted it as fact that she’s barren.

Edward wants a family, especially children, to carry on his lineage. He’s a widower whose late wife died in childbirth. But he also has trust issues since he found out that his wife had been forced to marry him and actually found him repulsive due to poxmark scars on his body and face. When he meets Anna, he’s already been courting a woman who can deal with those scars and seems fine with marrying him, if not over the moon since it’s a marriage of convenience.

You know who isn’t turned off or repulsed by those scars? Anna. In fact, Anna is so ready to jump Edward that when she finds out he’s going to a house of ill repute in London, she takes the opportunity to go as well. Wearing a mask so he doesn’t know it’s her, she gets what she thinks she wants (in the form of some pretty steamy sexy times) only to discover that she actually wants more…like actual feelings from him. And unfortunately, she knows she can’t have it, since Edward needs children and she can’t have any.


I Do What I Want
So much conflict, but it’s so good. Anna’s secret, as well as the side plot of blackmail from one of her peers. draws the conflict out in the best way possible. Edward is not an ass, as many scarred (re: Beauty and the Beast trope) heroes are, and Anna serves as the “Why can’t women enjoy hot sex, too?” heroine, which I’m always a fan of. She does have a bit of a meek streak. She’s scared to let Edward know she was the one behind the mask, and she seems to cower a bit when bullied by the aforementioned blackmailing peer. But she also turns her nose up at what society deems proper in order to help a prostitute she finds sick on the side of the road.

Good Moms-In-Law Do Exist
Even though Anna’s late husband was a cheater and not very likable, I kind of loved Anna’s mother-in-law. Anna lives with the older woman, but instead of being that overbearing mother who thinks her son did no wrong, the older Wren knows what her son was like and now wants Anna to be happy. In fact, when she realizes there’s some chemistry between Anna and Edward, she encourages the relationship.


No Tears
It seemed like there hadn’t been a huge amount of interaction and development between the two before Anna was literally crying over the fact that he didn’t seem to want her. While I completely loved the emotion and romance behind it, I also thought it seemed a little too soon for tears.

The Romance Factor
Despite the quick shed of tears, I loved Anna’s acceptance of Edward, even though he had so many moments where he thought she was repulsed by him. I also loved Edward’s inner conflict as he tried to deal with his feelings for Anna, the fact that the masked woman in the brothel made him think of Anna which made him feel like he was cheating on Anna, and the fact that he couldn’t marry Anna because of the kid thing. Talk about a hot mess. 4/5

The Steam Factor
If anyone thinks that historicals don’t match contemporaries in eroticism, they need to read a Hoyt novel. Detailed, sensual, and paced well, the sexy times in her novels never get cold. 5/5

Final Thoughts
There’s one more book in this series I need to read. While these ones don’t rank as high as the Maiden Lane books on my faves list, I’m still enjoying them. I believe this year will be the year I make it through the whole catalog of books by this author.

Book Review: Naked by Gina Gordon

One of the things I strongly relate to is a heroine with self-esteem issues, maybe not so much now since I tend to have a high opinion of myself most days, but I remember when I wasn’t that confident. Probably because I’m projecting, I tend to get a little irritated with characters for not getting it together. Having said that, even with that minor annoyance, I really enjoyed this book.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A young woman, scarred from an accident, engages in a fling with her neighbor, determined to explore her sexuality while still hiding the “deformities” the accident left her with. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

In a Man’s World
Violet, the aforementioned heroine, is mostly awesome. She’s been raised to take over her father’s construction company and has a love for commercial construction even though it’s seen as a man’s industry. She also has a natural curiosity about sex and wants to explore her wild side, something her fiance wouldn’t do with her before he was killed in a car crash. Because it was this conversation they were having when the accident happened, Violet carries around some guilt.

Dedicated to Hiding
Sadly, Violet is also too afraid to show anyone her scars, including her family. I’m not entirely sure how realistic it is that she hid all of her scars from her family and friends for so long. I mean, I think it’s possible, sure, but that takes a lot of commitment. Then again, Violet had some major self-confidence issues, many of them from her mother who’s always hailed her beauty as her best feature and seems to disapprove of her taking over the company. I had moments where Violet’s constant belief that she was ugly…and then her need to get mad at those people who told her she was still beautiful…annoyed me.



The Guy Next Door
The hero, Noah, is endearing from the moment he fakes a fall to get Violet’s attention. Okay, so it sounds a little extreme, but it turns out okay. Noah is carrying around his own issues. He feels like he’s letting his dad’s memory down by not going into business for himself, and he doesn’t want to get into a relationship because his last one ended with the woman deciding he wasn’t good enough for her. He has one douchecanoe moment, but otherwise, he’s a good guy.

Grrrl Power
One of the best characters in the book is one that I think will have her own story in this series later, and that’s Harper, a woman who’s not only super comfortable with herself but spends her time helping other women feel hot. She’s kind of my hero. As a side note, I read the author’s acknowledgement at the end and was surprised that she admitted to having her own self-esteem issues and had written Harper as her complete opposite. That bit of honesty rocked my world.

The Romance Factor
Class differences are things I’ve seen often in historical romances, but I liked the take on it in this contemporary novel. Violet is rich, though she keeps it a secret from Noah, and of course Noah has issues with being seen as less than by a woman he’s dating. While this doesn’t sound romantic on paper, it leads to angst and conflict. Beyond that, there are moments of sweetness that made me melt. Noah’s constant respect for Violet’s need to not expose herself was great, and even though I was annoyed with her (get naked already, woman!), he maintained pretty well. 4/5

The Steam Factor
Considering part of the plot of this book was Violet wanting to be a little more naughty, this book definitely brought the heat where the sexy times were concerned, including quite a bit of public sex. Seems Violet has a thing for it. 5/5


Final Thoughts
For as unsure of herself as Violet is, at the end she gets pretty kick-ass. I enjoyed this book, and I liked the development of Violet coming out of her self-issues. I enjoyed the side characters and am looking forward to reading more in this series.

Book Review: All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue by Sophie Jordan

January has been a crazy month. It kicked off with a big overtime project at work that kind of sidetracked my reading and hasn’t let up since. I’m trying to fit reading in with some other projects, including the revision of my own novel that’s about to come out of the beta reading phase. If January is setting the precedent for the whole year, it’s going to be insane.

In fact, I’m writing this a few weeks after I actually read this book, so some of my memories have faded. I considered not blogging about it, just throwing it on Goodreads and calling it good, but I really did enjoy it and wanted to give it some blog love.


One-Sentence Synopsis
Once friends, now enemies, a lady and a viscount fight the the sexual tension building between them to maintain their animosity. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Don’t Want No Short Man
Aurelia and Max follow a friends to enemies to lovers trope, giving us a lot of conflict foreplay and banter, though at times the banter gets intense and turns into some hateful dialogue. As a young girl, Aurelia was in love with Max…until she caught him getting down with another woman. Her anger and hurt took the form of a caricature that ended up haunting Max into adulthood, hence the mutual hate (and by haunting, I mean calling into the question the size of a certain male-only appendage).

Put a Ring On It
Aurelia values her independence, but when her mother decides to go to Scotland due to financial and family issues, Aurelia has no choice but to either go with her or find a husband locally. This doesn’t sit well with her, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Max, of course, doesn’t want her…until he realizes that omg, someone else might have her. Then it’s game on. Sort of. Because while he doesn’t want to marry her (or so he says), he feels he needs to screw up her chances of marrying anyone else.

Such Anticipation
Aurelia and Max spend a lot of time warring with themselves over what they want. There is a lot of great foreplay, the kind that kept me on edge and made me happily frustrated with the waiting, going into each scene with a “Will they or won’t they this time?” mindset. I enjoyed Aurelia as a character, and I related to her ability to hold a grudge. There were times I liked Max, and then times I wanted to tell him to suck it up. There were also times he was downright mean to her, so douche alert, though he ends up being an okay guy at the end.

Emo Hero
Though I enjoyed the book, towards the end I thought the characters drew things out and parts of it felt depressing, what with Max not wanting to love and all that jazz due to past hurts, blah blah blah.


The Romance Factor
I really did love the foreplay that happened through most of the book and the fact that Aurelia and Max tried so hard to hold on to their dislike for one another. But there were also sweet moments that helped develop the relationship. 4/5

The Steam Factor
I’m embarrassed to say that due to the time lag between when I read this and when I wrote this review, I forgot how steamy this book was. I’m pretty sure it was open door and detailed, so I’m giving it a 4/5, but there is a chance it wasn’t quite that saucy.  Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Final Thoughts
This was my first Sophie Jordan novel and I really enjoyed it. Though I thought some of the pacing was a little slow at the end and the random meanness of Max annoyed me, overall it was fun and I liked the heroine. I’ll definitely be adding more of her books to my TBR list.

Book Review: Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

I’d heard good things, but I waited until I was coming off a heavier read to enjoy this one, since people said it was funny. The premise seemed strange, at least for purposes of a meet-cute, but it ended up being really awesome and, as promised, hilarious.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman on an orgasm hiatus is annoyed by her neighbor’s loud, wall-shaking sexual antics, not expecting that giving him a piece of her mind one night would lead to a strange friendship…and then something more. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

80% Satisfaction Rate
Having just moved into a new apartment, Caroline is happy with her life. She has a cat who doesn’t like men but seems to adore her, she loves her living space and her friends and her job. The only thing she doesn’t enjoy is the fact that a bad experience with an ex has left her unable to have an orgasm, even a self-induced one, and it’s put a damper on her sex life.



Being Neighborly
If her lack of fulfillment weren’t already frustrating, her apartment walls are super thin, so she can hear the nightly activities of her neighbor Simon, who rotates through a “harem” of three different women, each with their own sexual quirks that Caroline identifies them by. At first, it’s amusing, but when Caroline can’t sleep because of all the noise, she snaps one night and goes over to Simon’s apartment to yell at him. What she didn’t expect was that from that moment, he was going to figure into her dreams and that coincidentally, their lives were going to intertwine through their friends.

I Am Woman
Caroline is cute and quirky, and when I first started reading, I thought she might be a little too cute and quirky. I know people hate the Mary Sue term, but part of me was cautious that she might be that type of character. She quickly became an easily likable character. I liked that she was comfortable with herself and referred to herself as hot. The girl had self esteem, even though she wasn’t in denial about her sexual issues.

How One Handles Their O
And that was another thing I thought was well done and not usually talked about in this genre: sexual dysfunction. While Caroline wasn’t assaulted, her bad sex experience did cause a psychological bump her in her sexuality, and I think this is something that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should. Being that sex is so intimate and important, there are a lot of things that can go wrong and trigger weird reactions. No, she didn’t treat the experience like a rape, and she knew it was consensual. But afterwards, she was rightly angry about it and obviously didn’t want to be confronted with her ex-again.

Simon Says
As for Simon, it took me a little while to get my head around the fact that the main love interest was going to be introduced via sex with women other than the heroine. I’m not prudish about this, and I’ve read many books where something like this is the case, but I don’t know…it just seemed strange in this setting. Once again though, first impressions dissolved once the story got going, and Simon’s development and the way he fell for Caroline was sweet.


Minor Players
I loved the subplots as well, minor as they were. The relationships of their friends were funny, especially the role Caroline and Simon played in those mini-dramas. I also loved the cat, who, as strange as it sounds, is enticed by the meowing of one of Simon’s lovers. I know, it sounds weird, but it’s actually really funny in the context of this story.

Quirky Novel, Quirky Writing
The dialogue and banter is funny, and I enjoyed that even though most of the book is told from Caroline’s point of view, a few chapters take a bit of a different twist. There are chapters made up of nothing but texts between the various characters, a chapter where we read the various thoughts of four different people in a car, and even a chapter from the cat’s point of view.

The Romance Factor
There is so much foreplay in this book. Simon and Caroline go from enemies to friends, then friends to lovers, and every time they got cozy, I had that inner conflict of wanting them to do something and wanting them to hold out longer. I loved the evolution of their relationship and the way that Caroline’s orgasm issues affected how she saw things. Also, Simon turns out to be incredibly sweet, and though Caroline falls in love with him, she still seems happy to hold on to her independence. 4/5

The Steam Factor
The original scenes with Simon and the other women were more funny than they were steamy, but the sexual tension between him and Caroline definitely adds a high dose of buildup. When they do finally break through the tension (if you know what I’m saying), it’s hot, it’s a relief, and it goes on for a really long time. Even during the sexy times, there is still that humor that the book as whole has, and it makes those scenes just as fun. 4/5

Final Thoughts
This one kept me up late. I even tried to go to sleep and couldn’t because I wanted to see what happened next. I love the author’s voice and I enjoyed the characters and can’t wait to read more of this series, as well as more by Alice Clayton.

Book Review: The Wicked Wallflower by Maya Rodale

A little personal news: A novel I wrote several years ago is currently being beta read, and I have been doing research on publishing, both self-publishing and through a publisher. I’m pretty sure I know which way I want to go, but the whole thing is a little daunting. I’ve been sitting on several novels for several years without doing anything with them, so this time around I’m really trying to take things one step at a time and actually get something out there that I wrote. Fingers crossed I follow through.

Now, onto the book review.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A drunken plot becomes a reality, and a plain young woman finds herself suddenly “engaged” to the most eligible bachelor in town. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Haters Gonna Hate
Emma and her friends are wallflowers who have each  been given insulting nicknames by members of society who are less than kind. One thing these books have taught me? The ton are a bunch of douchebags.


Drunken Regrets
Emma is in love with a man who has courted her for three seasons, but when she and her besties get drunk on sherry, they write a fake announcement that includes a lofty fantasy of Emma being engaged to the Duke of Ashbrooke, a most eligible bachelor and known rake. Emma has no intentions of doing anything with the letter, but someone else does, and the fake engagement ends up in the papers, setting Emma up for complete humiliation when everyone finds out it’s a lie.

Regency Survivor
Enter Blake, the Duke of Ashbrooke, who needs funding for his invention but can’t get it because those who could give him money can’t take him seriously because his rakish ways. When the surprise announcement shows up in the paper, Blake realizes this might be exactly what he needs, especially since his aunt is getting ready to hold her annual version of a present day reality TV show. So he goes a long with it, making a deal with Emma that if they win his aunt’s contest, she can keep half the fortune to do with as she wants, including getting the man she loves to marry her.


No Makeover Needed
Heroines who believe they’re not worthy of a handsome man are my favorites, especially when their counterpart is a handsome man who realizes just how beautiful the heroine is. Though he tries to resist, Blake falls in love with Emma, and he seems to realize they should be together before she does. Warm fuzzies were afoot when he realized just how beautiful she was. I love that whole Truth About Cats and Dogs philosophy about someone becoming more beautiful the more you know them. It gets me every time.

Pleasure (?) Games
The concept of the games entertained me, though for some reason I was thinking they were going to be much more debauched. I was expecting a giant orgy, but it was really just an old lady messing with people’s heads. It still cracked me up, it just wasn’t as scandalous as I expected.

The Romance Factor
The way Blake and Emma skirt around each other is wonderful, and Blake flirting while Emma pretends she’s completely unaffected was my type of foreplay. Their banter was fun, and I was definitely invested in their story and relationship. When conflict threatened, my heart broke a little for them, even though I knew they’d get a happy ending. 5/5

The Steam Factor
Though not highly detailed, I love the sensuality and eroticism that the author put into the steamy scenes…even when very little touching happened. Blake and Emma spend a night together writing fake love letters to strengthen the ruse of their engagement. Being able to read the story from both points of view and seeing what each of them are thinking is one of my favorite things, and it just ups the excitement and titillation of the scene. 4/5

Final Thoughts
There seemed to be several negative reviews for this one, but I loved it. It was a fun, romantic read with enough angst and conflict to keep me hanging on.