Reap, by Tillie Cole

reap

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 52%

Catnip: Forbidden Romance, Russian Mobsters, Killing Machines, Family Ties, Dual Narrative, Strong Female Lead, The Hamptons, Tame Me, Beauty and the Beast

Shame Scale: It’s a romance novel about a man who has been turned into a literal killing machine and the daughter of his family’s sworn enemies. They’re all Russian Mobsters, and the cover has amazing back porn. Whatever, low shame. We are owning this now.

Fantasy Cast:  Kellan Lutz, Clare Bowen

Book Description:

 

Raised as a prototype for the Georgian Bratva’s obedience drug, 221 fails to think, act, or live for himself; he’s his master’s perfectly-crafted killing puppet. Standing at six-foot-six, weighing two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, and unrivaled in to-the-death combat, 221 successfully secures business for the Georgian Mafiya Boss of NYC, who rules the dark world of the criminal underground. Until his enemies capture him.

Talia Tolstaia dreams to break from the heavy clutches of Bratva life. She dreams of another life–away from the stifling leash of her Russian Bratva Boss father and from the brutality of her work at The Dungeon, her criminal family’s underground death-match enterprise. But when she stumbles upon her family’s captive who is more monster than man, she starts to see the man underneath. A powerful, beautiful, damaged man whose heart calls to hers. But sacrifices must be made–blood for blood…life for life…souls for scarred souls…

 


The Shame Girls are Tillie Cole fan-girls. Over the past three months Mary and I have sped through the Hades Hangmen series, and now both books of her new Scarred Souls series. Cole writes for-real anti heroes. Her men are dark, brooding, and have no problem getting blood on their hands. Her writing is good enough to make the violence not only bearable, but almost enjoyable. Plus we kind of have a thing for Russians here at My Book Shame. Can we count ability to handle your vodka as a catnip?

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Amour Amour: by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Grade: A

Doing it at: 73%

Catnip: Strong Female Lead; Circus; Russians; Piercings; Alpha; Las Vegas; Gymnasts Are So Bendy; CoHo Exception

Shame Scale: No shame, I read a paper copy of this and the cover is so pretty, I took it all over town with no qualms. Plus it reads like a Real Book.

Fantasy Cast:  Cooper Neilson (I’m sorry that’s just where my brain goes!); Anna Kendrick

Book Description:

Love is a circus

“Every day,” he says lowly, “I hold a person’s life in my hands. The circus is based one-hundred percent off trust. I give it all to someone, and they give it all to me.”

The best aerial technique won’t land 21-year-old Thora James her dream role in Amour—a sexy new acrobatic show on the Vegas strip. Thora knows she’s out of her element the second she meets Amour’s leading performer. Confident, charming and devilishly captivating, 26-year-old Nikolai Kotova lives up to his nickname as the “God of Russia.”

When Thora unknowingly walks into the crosshairs of Nikolai’s after-show, her audition process begins way too soon. Unprofessional. That’s what Nik calls their “non-existent” relationship. It’s not like Thora can avoid him. For one, they may be partners in the future–acrobatic partners, that is. But getting closer to Nik means diving deeper into sin city and into his dizzying world.

Thora wants to perform with him, but when someone like Nikolai attracts the spotlight wherever he goes—Thora fears that she’s destined to be just background to his spellbinding show.


Amour Amour had all the catnip in the world for me, when I read the blurb online that it was like Center Stage at the circus I was So Sold. We’ve mentioned our Center Stage obsession more than once, right? Both Mary and I love dancing movies, and I’m still on my quest for a book about a male ballerina (besides Julian Marquet in the Dollanganger books of course), Nikolai the Russian-Aerialist-Alpha was pretty close to my dream though, guys.

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Mystery Man, by Kristen Ashley

Mystery Man

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 44%

Catnip: Alpha Hero, Funny Heroine, Motorcycles, Shitty Siblings, Smoking Hot Ex-Military Guy, Kidnapping

Shame Scale: Low shame. This one has a great heroine with a backbone and a sense of humor, and a lot of solid plot.

Fantasy Cast:  Édgar Ramírez, Reese Witherspoon

Book Description:

Night time is the right time…

Gwendolyn Kidd has met the man of her dreams. He’s hot, he’s sexy, and what started as a no-names-exchanged night of passion has blossomed into a year and a half-long pleasure fest. Sure, it’s a little strange that he only appears in her bed at night, but Gwen is so sure he’s the one, she just can’t turn him away… 

Hawk Delgado knows more about Gwen than she could ever imagine. She’s gorgeous, headstrong, and skittish about relationships. But Hawk is facing his own demons, demons that keep him from connecting with anyone. Yet when Gwen is drawn into Denver’s lethal underground scene, Hawk’s protective nature comes out full force. The problem is, when Gwen gets a dose of Hawk’s Alpha attitude in the daylight, she’s not so sure he’s the one anymore….


This was my first Kristen Ashley book, I’d heard great things about her, but never got around to reading anything because her books were all always checked out of the library. I know, it’s a terrible excuse. But I’ve had Mystery Man on my wish list for over a year, and when C got a bajillion Amazon gift cards this summer, she went on a book buying spree and I put in a request for this one.

Because a mystery lover who sneaks into my room in the middle of the night and fucks me back to sleep is right up there on my fantasy list, along with having a 23 year old Dominican boyfriend, and being in the middle of a Tom Hardy/Matt Bomer sandwich.

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Draw, by Cora Brent

draw

Grade: B

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Alpha Hero; MMA Fighter; Strong Female Lead; Bros; Tattoos; Hate to Love You; Roof Sex; Boob Stuff; Dual Narrative

Shame Scale: Mild shame, but only for the best reasons, this book was a delightful guilty pleasure

Fantasy Cast:  Jay Ryan; Emma Roberts

Book Description:

SAYLOR…
I don’t even know if love is real. After running from the bastard who brutalized me, I limped back to Arizona, choosing a vibrant college town in the hopes of starting over. I never expected to find him there.
Cord Gentry.
He and his brothers were tough, lusty forces of nature I’d known since childhood. Years ago, Cord seduced me as a sick game. I’ve hated him ever since. Now here he is again, a man who beats other men bloody for money.
Cord has always been heartless, dangerous, not to be trusted.
And I want him so much I can’t think.

CORD…
They called us ‘those white trash Gentry boys’ until we believed that’s what we were. Our people squatted at the edge of a hellhole prison town for generations. The childhood we endured was the stuff of nightmares. I’d learned early on that my brothers, Chase and Creed, were the only people on earth worth my time.
They all told us we were bad, that we’d always be bad.
The horrors of the past have scarred my soul.
But now I need to be better.
For her.


This is going to sound like a back-handed compliment, but I mean it ONLY as a real compliment: Draw was way better than I thought it was going to be when I picked it for my post- Karina Halle binge read. Draw is exactly all the things that I want in a trashy romance and I inhaled the book in under 24 hours, with much sending of screenshots to Mary and PP because of how much I liked it.

Saylor and Cord grew up in the same small Arizona town, she was a nerdy kid from a safe but unhappy home, and he was one of the triplet brothers born to the town’s trashiest family. Cord, Creed, and Chase grew up essentially feral because their mom was a drugged up mess and their dad was an abusive bastard. Luckily for them they grew up to be three HOT messes, and escaped their small town for better things in Phoenix. Saylor went off to college in California and would be happy to never see Cord again because he dispatched her of her hymen on the floor of her father’s garage and then told the whole school about it. Not cool teenage Cordero* Gentry, not cool.

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Real, by Katy Evans

Real

Grade: A

Doing it at: 55%

Catnip: Alpha Hero; MMA Fighter; Copious Licking; Strong Female Lead; DBB; Swooning; Sweatpants Boner

Shame Scale: I find the longer I read romance the less shame I feel, even when the covers are ab-mazing and the doing it is dirty and plentiful. Low shame.

Fantasy Cast:  Stephen Amell, Ashley Greene

Book Description:

A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
A competition…

He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…

Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.

He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents…

But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.

I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.

If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?


Cleone: Real is perhaps the ultimate Alpha book, we have a hero who will dig a guy’s tattoo off his face with a pencil, likes to mark his woman by licking her all over with his tongue, and has to be literally sedated when he loses his temper. Katy Evans somehow makes all of this seem extremely hot.

Mary: He’s the alpha-est book hero of all time. He’s more alpha than even all the half-animal heros who are literally the alpha leaders of their pack. And he’s the hottest. He’s so cut that his abs are described as “squares.” Fucking squares.

real 6

C: I’m on a Katy Evans kick after Mary urged me to read Manwhore and I fell madly in book boyfriend love with Saint. I was expecting the hero of REAL to be kind of Saint-esque even if he was an MMA fighter and not a billionaire playboy. Generally books by the same author have similar heroes and heroines, which is fine, and comforting in ways. If you know you want a funny boy, then you know which author to go to. This was not the case with Manwhore and Real, the stories felt completely different, character voices and all. Minus the heroines’ love of small brown man nipples – an Evans specific thing that I am picking up on. I notice it probably because it makes me laugh. Minus this guy who had the tiniest nipples that ever nipped I have never found a guy’s nipples to be anything to remark upon. But I digress, Real is a very different book from Manwhore.

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The Hurricane, by R.J. Prescott

the hurricane

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 59%

Catnip: Opposites Attract; Deep Dark Secrets; Sexual Healing; Boxers; Alpha Hero

Shame Scale: Medium shame, that cover is all about them abs, and my brain kept wandering to My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding casting

Fantasy Cast: Kate Hudson circa Almost Famous; young Gerard Butler

  Book Description:

Emily McCarthy is living in fear of a dark and dangerous past. A gifted mathematician, she is little more than a hollow, broken shell, trying desperately to make ends meet long enough to finish her degree. Through an unlikely friendship with the aging, cantankerous owner of an old boxing gym, Em is thrown into the path of the most dangerous man that she has ever met. Cormac “the Hurricane” O’Connell is cut, tattooed and dangerous. He is a lethal weapon with no safety and everyone is waiting for the mis-fire. He’s never been knocked out before, but when he meet Em he falls, HARD. Unlike any other girl he’s ever met, she doesn’t want anything from him. Just being around her makes him want to be a better person. They are polar opposites who were never meant to find each other, but some things are just worth the fight. ***Warning*** This book contains adult language and subject matter, including some flashback scenes of abuse and rape, that may be disturbing for some readers. This book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.


I have some serious mixed feelings about The Hurricane, on one hand the story had some really strong elements and some great, clean writing. On the other hand, it dragged a bit and made my brain drift off towards My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (I don’t think we can blame the author for that one, my brain is a well-known scumbag). I would recommend Em and O’Connell’s story to people looking for main characters with some serious demons and an incredibly devoted hero.

Cormack “The Hurricane” O’Connell spots Emily working at a local greasy spoon close to the gym where he does boxing training and is instantly smitten with her. He bided his time to introducing himself because even from afar he can tell she’s a skittish little* bird. And he’s a rough neck boy, well over six-foot, with tattoos, and what I imagine is not a particularly refined accent (my apologies to the author, my brain she does what she wants); who hangs out with Danny her favorite customer. Danny is the closest thing Em has to a friend because she’s hiding a dark past and is incredibly slow to trust. Especially men.

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Axel, Corps Security #1, by Harper Sloan

axel

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 61%

Catnip: First Love; Alpha Hero; White Knight; Accidental Pregnancy; I Need a Soldier

Shame Scale: The dialog, talk of “weeping”parts, and super formulaic formula make this one pretty shame-tastic. But damn if I could quit it.

Fantasy Cast: Channing Tatum; Alessandro Ambrosio

Book Description:

Fate hasn’t always been friends with Isabelle West. In fact, fate has been a downright bitch.

Isabelle has learned the hard way how hard life can be when fate isn’t by your side. It can hand you dreams on silver platters, but it can snatch them right back and hand you nightmares. One thing Isabelle knew for sure fate was consistent with was taking away everything she ever loved.

For the last two years Isabelle has been slowly clearing the clouds of her past. Happiness is finally on the horizon. She has a thriving business, great friends, and her life back. All she has to do is jump over the last hurdle…her ex-husband.

When problems start causing her to fear her new life, and memories that are better left forgotten start rushing to the surface the last thing she needs is a ghost from her past to come knocking on her door.

Axel never thought he would look into the eyes of Isabelle West again, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to now. He’s carried his anger for so long he isn’t sure he can just turn it off, but when he is faced with protecting her and an unexpected desire to have her again, life gets a little more complicated.

How will Axel and Isabelle deal when all their cards are put on the table and everything they thought was true blows up in their faces?

Locke, book six in this series, was on sale for 99 cents on Amazon and I purchased it for the Family Library* last week. Because look at that cover guys.

locke

Mary messaged me to let me know she had the whole series in one collection already in there, and since I’m trying to be a good girl I thought I would go ahead and start with #1 and maybe just speed read through the entire series. Even though THIS was the Axel cover in the anthology:

axel2

The subtle difference in cover models make one look super hot, and one look like an ad for a bathhouse in San Fran where a bunch of guys can pee on you at once while you lie in a tub (that’s a real thing that happened at a bath house, not to me, and no shame in your game if that’s your thing).

Axel opens with a disclaimer about violence against women, I don’t need a trigger warning, but was glad it had been put in for other women who might. The opening scene between Izzy and her sociopath husband is brutal. He’s a controlling bastard whose violence towards Izzy has been escalating for six years. We meet her when it has reached fever pitch and he almost kills her for daring to go out and see her best friend, Dee, while he is at work. Luckily Dee has slipped Izzy a secret cell phone that she is able to use to call for help and Brandon doesn’t win that day.

We flash two years into the future. Izzy is trying to heal; but this abusive marriage wasn’t the first awful thing to happen in her thirty years of life. Her parents were killed in a car accident when she was seventeen and her first love, Axel, went to boot camp and never came home. As far as she knows he is dead, and shortly after her parents died she miscarried their baby. So, emotionally she is kind of in rough shape. Dee has been her life coach, helping her find a new town and start a new life with the help of their friend, Greg Cage. Here is where I started having a few small issues. The gentlemen in this book had dialog that I just could not get on board with. No adverbs. So many egregious uses of the word girl; do straight ex-military men really affectionately refer to their female friends as “Girl” like a sassy gay BFF? My brain is determined that Greg is gay (I try to not be stereotyping but this wouldn’t shut off, like when my brain cast Weevil as Travis in Beautiful Disaster) so I may skip his book and move right along to number three.

It’s Izzy’s 30th birthday and Dee has convinced her to actually get a little crazy and go out with friends to drink and dance and be young. Until Izzy receives a package on her doorstep from Brandon who most definitely SHOULD NOT know where the girls live. Greg owns a security company staffed by men he knows from his time in the Marines. The man who ran the west coast branch has recently moved to Georgia and Greg thinks that this dude, Reid, should be the one to help track down Brandon and keep Izzy safe. Izzy is all “cool, whatever, someone keep me safe– lets go do that drinking we didn’t do yesterday I want to be numb now please.” The girls get very super drunk and then Greg’s hot friend/coworkers show up. They’re all giant, handsome, ex military dudes and Dee and Izzy are busy drooling. Until Reid shows up. And Izzy passes right on out. Because Reid is Axel and he is definitely not twelve years dead. Izzy has a major panic attack and has to be carried out of the club by Greg who is growling at Axel to stay the hell away from her.

Axel himself is pretty pissed. He has a whole different story in his head about what happened. He has no clue that Izzy thought he was dead, that she had been pregnant with his child, that she was almost beaten to death by her husband, and that she’s a walking nerve ending. The characters spend some time (but not much, this book is pretty short) getting their wires straightened out and falling back together. Its all fine. The story itself is formulaic but entertaining for what it is and the sex/story ratio is pretty balanced.

Now the complaint department. Axel calls Izzy ‘Princess’ and for whatever reason that annoys me. He isn’t even saying it in a sarcastic way, he’s really cloyingly calling her his princess. And so much points-deducting sex writing:

“Fuck baby, I can smell you from here. I bet your pussy is soaked, fucking sopping wet and ready for me.”

“…causes wetness to gush from my core.”

the tip of his generous cock hitting my cervix

He needs no help persuading me to guide him inside my seeping body.

Noping right out at gushing and seeping, guys.

Still, Axel gets a B- for being just as trashy as I wanted it to be, and being really fun to read. Reading is FUNdamental, yinz.

Also it has a new favorite line to add to the list:

Three boxes might be excessive for a normal man, but for me, that’s just making sure I’m prepared.

Three boxes of condoms if that wasn’t clear. He’s confident! And we like that in an Alpha.

*Have we mentioned that we share a kindle library? Its amazing, its the loveliest, most salacious collection of trashy books. And what happens in the family library STAYS in the family library. Its more secure than Fight Club

Amazon