Infini, by Krista & Becca Ritchie

infini

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 46%

Catnip: Circus, Second Chance Love, Forbidden Love, Family, Strong Female Lead, Dual Narrative, Beta Hero, We’ve Got Issues, Russians, Center Stage

Shame Scale: Shameless, there are some dirty parts (praise Allah), but the cover is more YA than bodice ripper.

Fantasy Cast:  Yara Shahidi and Douglas Booth

What do we smell like: citrusy, but mostly like peppermint

Book Description:

Some love is infinite

“Don’t have a best friend that’s a girl” — this was the advice from my older cousin. I didn’t take it. Because he followed with, “friends don’t f*ck friends. And you’ll want to f*ck her.”

It was terrible advice.

My cousin should’ve told me that being best friends with Baylee Wright — since she was twelve — would be the best and worst decision of my life.

He should have told me to protect her from what was coming.

He should have told me that when a darkness crawled towards us, there’d be no safety net.

Now I’ve signed back on to the same Vegas acrobatic show as Baylee, working together for the first time in years. And she tells me that she’s having trouble in a certain “area” of her life — because of our past.

“You can help me fix it,” she says.

And then she hands me a list.


Infini is the second book in Krista and Becca Ritchie’s circus series, and I have been eagerly waiting for it since I finished Amour, Amour. I adore the Ritchie twin’s books, which all happen in the same universe as their Calloway characters. It’s truly it’s own universe with product brands and tv shows and casinos– much like Tarantino and his Red Apple Cigarettes. The Circus books take place inside the fictional Masquerade Casino’s Cirque- De-Soleil-like Aerial Etherial circus troupes. And inside the Kotova family, a sprawling clan of Russian acrobats who have grown up in the circus and know no life outside of it, for the Kotova’s circus is family.

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Keepsake, by Sarina Bowen

keepsake

Grade: A

Doing it at: 50%

Catnip: Male Virgin, Farmer Boy, Strapping Men, Sexual Healing, Cults, Food Porn, Dual Narrative, Kidnapping, Pickup Truck Sex, PTSD, Seasonal Romance, Autumn, Beta Hero

Shame Scale: 0%, you can tell people what you’re reading and be like “it’s about developing nations, America’s farming crises, PTSD, religious cults, and apples”

What Does He Taste Like?: The cool night air, the outdoors, and a hint of sweat.

Fantasy Cast: Ryan Gosling, Rosario Dawson

Book Description:

Lark Wainright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he’s good for much more than farm labor.

Cleone: Mary and I have some very specific catnips, that do not always overlap, so when we stumble on a book that hits so many sweet spots for both of us, we know things are going to be good.

Mary: There’s a virgin beta hero fresh out of a cult, strapping farmers, it’s Vermont in  Autumn, and they talk about pie all the time. If you asked me to describe the perfect October book, this one pretty much nails it.

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Missed Connection, by K. Larson & Mara White

missed connection

Grade: A+

Doing it at: 42%

Catnip: Second Chance Romance, Dual Narrative, Opposites Attract, Grownups in Love, Tearjerker, Ugly Cry, Sadistic Authors, Tattoos, Beta Hero, Sexual Healing

Shame Scale: Super low shame; this well written, engrossing book is only guilty of the sin of making you cry till your face hurts.

Fantasy Cast:  Rosamund Pike, Victor Ross

Book Description: 

Twenty years weren’t enough for either of them to forget.

A chance encounter, a missed connection.

Two wayward stars that collided in a turbulent sky, at the right place, but at the wrong time in both of their lives.

What happens when they meet again? Do the same unforgettable sparks still fly?

Titan Jennings and Jesenia Van Buren may come from two different worlds but their hearts are open to second chances. No matter who or what may stand against them, love is what anchors their lives together.

Love may be infinite but time is not, Missed Connection is a novel about making the very best you can with what little you’ve got.


Cleone: Regular readers might know that we are Mara White super fans here at My Book Shame, our love affair starting after we read Maldeamores, and Ms. White received more than one Golden Boner in our year end round-up. What you might not know is that we super fan-d her so hard that we made her be our friend and our Facebook friend on our real life pages (the pages where we share things that are 85% non boner related). And at some point I shared this viral craigslist posting: and this might be all my fault.

Mary: Even if it wasn’t your fault, I like imagining that it was. Gives me someone tangible to blame.

Cleone: This was our first outing reading anything by K. Larsen, and we dumbly didn’t realize that she is also a sadist, and that this book was probably going to make us sleep on salt-encrusted pillows.

Mary: This book made me cry so hard my face hurt. I loved it so much you guys.

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Dark Wild Night, by Christina Lauren

dark wild night

Grade: A

Doing it at: 43%

Catnip: Friends to Lovers, Beta Hero, Aussies, #TeamAnal, Shower Sex, Strong Female Lead, Bulge Talk

Shame Scale: Super low shame, it’s a fantastic book – but it gets pretty steamy so you’re not going to want to read this one while you’re waiting in the lobby to talk to your kid’s preschool teacher.

Fantasy Cast: This version of Tom Welling, Mila Kunis

Book Description:

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS STAYS IN VEGAS. BUT WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN IN VEGAS SEEMS TO FOLLOW THEM EVERYWHERE—Book Three in the sexy, fun New York Times bestselling Wild Seasons series that began with Sweet Filthy Boy (the Romantic Times Book of the Year) and Dirty Rowdy Thing.

Lola and Oliver like to congratulate themselves on having the good sense not to consummate their drunken Las Vegas marriage. If they’d doubled-down on that mistake, their Just Friends situation might not be half as great as it is now.

…Or so goes the official line.

In reality, Lola’s wanted Oliver since day one—and over time has only fallen harder for his sexy Aussie accent and easygoing ability to take her as she comes. More at home in her studio than in baring herself to people, Lola’s instinctive comfort around Oliver nearly seems too good to be true. So why ruin a good thing?

Even as geek girls fawn over him, Oliver can’t get his mind off what he didn’t do with Lola when he had the chance. He knows what he wants with her now…and it’s far outside the friend zone. When Lola’s graphic novel starts getting national acclaim—and is then fast-tracked for a major motion picture—Oliver steps up to be there for her whenever she needs him. After all, she’s not the kind of girl who likes all that attention, but maybe she’s the kind who’ll eventually like him.

Sometimes seeing what’s right in front of us takes a great leap of faith. And sometimes a dark wild night in Vegas isn’t just the end of a day, but the beginning of a bright new life…


Mary: Alright guys. Book three in the Wild Seasons series, all of which are fantastic. Seriously, this series is a top five for me. Heart stopping romance, perfectly dreamy heroes, and love scenes that are almost poetic.

Cleone: We read the other two books BBS (Before Book Shame), so this is our first chance to talk about how much we love this series and book boyfriends Ansel and Finn.

M: Lola and Oliver are the last pair in their friend circle who haven’t hooked up yet. They were married (and annulled) in Vegas along with Ansel and Mia, and Finn and Harlow in the beginning of Sweet Filthy Boy, but unlike their friends, they did not consummate things, and have kept things strictly, rigidly, in the best friend zone ever since.

Of course, the two other couples who hooked up in Vegas – our friends Mia and Ansel, and Harlow and Finn – are happily married. But Oliver and I occasionally (especially when drunk) like to commend ourselves for being the only ones who did the shotgun Vegas wedding thing like normal people: with nothing but regret, an annulment, and a hangover.

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Snake, by Emilia Beaumont

Snake

Grade: C-

Doing it at: 59%

Catnip: Stepsiblings: Not Quite Incest, Evil Villainess, My Sister My Surrogate, Beta Hero

Shame Scale: Medium-high. Conceptually, it’s trashy as hell, but in reality, this was pretty mild.

Fantasy Cast: Evan Peters, Taissa Farminga

Book Description:

Cheating, f**king, lying Snake!

I thought he was different than all the rest. 

My stepbrother, Devan, was everything I longed for in a man: loyal, protective, and strong. 

After being burned so many times by cheating scumbags, you can understand why. Devan’s the perfect guy; the standard I hold other men up to. If only I could have a carbon copy of him… tattoos and all. 

But then he kissed me. And no matter how much I want him to be mine, I now see him for what he really is. 

Another snake that can’t keep it in his pants. 

He’s married, for f*cks sake! 

Their marriage is in trouble, but that’s no excuse, and it just happens to be one of the reasons why I’m living with the couple… I’ve made a deal to be their surrogate. 

How did my life become so complicated all of a sudden? 

Because now, after just one amazing kiss, I can’t stop thinking about my stepbrother and the baby I promised to give him. 


Stepbrother books are romantic palate cleansers. When I finish an exceptionally good book, or maybe one that’s exceptionally bad, I like to dive into something that I know is going to be fun and dirty. A stepbrother romance, or maybe a BBW shifter menage? Something silly and formulaic. They go on sale for 99 cents pretty much daily, and we hoard them for times when we just need to wipe the slate clean with a really dirty, smutty rag. So it’s extra disappointing when I go into something thinking it’s going to be a great trash book, and it’s not actually all that trashy.

With a title like “Snake,” and a cover that’s all tattoos and abs and chains, I had high expectations for some seriously kinky shit. This book had so much potential: Girl moves in with her stepbrother and his wife because she’s broke, and they need a surrogate to carry their baby. Girl and stepbrother have affair. Shit blows up. That’s basically what happened, but the execution was meh, and our hero was more of a beta jellyfish than an alpha dog. Spoilers abound in this one, #sorrynotsorry. There’s a predictable twist at the end, that I won’t reveal though, so you can still buy this book and be surprised.

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Truth or Beard, by Penny Reid

truth or beard

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 76%

Catnip: Southern Boys; Beards; Ginger Men; Hate to Love You; Small Town Romance; Funny Girl; Beta Hero; Hot Cars

Shame Scale: That cover is too cute to feel shame. Plus it’s genuinely funny.

Fantasy Cast: This NSFW guy, Anna Sophia Robb

Book Description:

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!
Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.
Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?


Cleone: Look at the cover, y’all, whoever did that design is a marketing genius. Ginger beards are such catnip for the Shame Girls.

Mary: I expected something that was basically YA from this one based on the cover, but it was amazingly not the case. I didn’t know anything about it, or Penny Reid in general when we picked it up, but I realized a few pages in that this book was going to hit so many catnip triggers for us.

beard 1

beard 3

(We’ve cut out the middle of this pic because it’s definitely NSFW and we should probably draw the line somewhere, but it’s delightful, and we emphatically recommend clicking here to see the original picture of this glorious ginger.

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Summer Reread: Faking It, Jennifer Crusie

faking it

Grade: A

Doing it at: 26%

Catnip: Beta Hero; Grifters; Deep Dark Secrets; Fast Talkers; Strong Female Lead; Frenching

Shame Scale: No shame, Faking It has so much real plot

Fantasy Cast: David Walton; Martine McCutcheon circa Love Actually

What do we taste like: Vodka and disaster

Book Description:

Meet the Goodnights, a respectable family who run a respectable art gallery-and have for generations. There’s Gwen, the matriarch who likes to escape reality, Eve the oldest daughter who has a slight identity problem (she has two), Nadine, the granddaughter who’s ready to follow in the family footsteps as soon as she can find a set that isn’t leading off a cliff. And lastly, Matilda, the youngest daughter, has inherited the secret locked down in the basement of the Goodnight Gallery, the secret she’s willing to do almost anything to keep, even break into a house in the dead of night to steal back her past.

THE RISKS ARE INTOXICATING.
Meet the Dempseys, or at least meet Davy, a reformed con man who’s just been ripped off for a cool three million by his financial manager, who then gallantly turned it over to Clea Lewis, the most beautiful sociopath Davy ever slept with. Davy wants the money back, but more than that he’ll do anything to keep Clea from winning, including break into her house in the dead of night to steal back his future.

AND IF YOU’RE REALLY GOOD AT THEM, THEY BOTH PAY OFF.
One collision in a closet later, Tilda and Davy reluctantly join forces to combat Clea, suspicious art collectors, a disgruntled heir, and an exasperated hitman, all the while coping with a mutant dachshund, a juke box stuck in the sixties, questionable sex, and the growing realization that they can’t turn their backs on the people they were meant to be…or the people they were born to love.


I love Jennifer Crusie’s books, she has really intricate plots with tons of side characters and excellent dialog. Her book boys are always really dreamy and her girls are smart, sassy ladies I’d like to be friends with. Faking It was the first book of hers I ever read, and a dozen years later it is still my favorite. I picked up my paperback copy at the Walgreens by my apartment in Las Vegas; I worked one am to nine am and would stop on my way home every day to buy juice, muffins in cellophane, and cheap magazines and paperbacks with my tip money. This was the ideal life, and I think I devoured Faking It in under 48 hours. When I opened it to reread I found a two dollar bill being used as a book mark — I really need to search all the books from my waitressing days, they might be full of money.

If you haven’t read any Crusie, Faking It is a good one to start with, even though Welcome to Temptation comes first and introduces Davy via his sister Sophie’s story; I like Temptation (and Phin!) but you know I think reading books in order is for L7 squares. Crusie does tons of movie and song mentions in her books, Faking It has a jukebox playing in the background, so I made a playlist. Start it while reading this review and then listen to the whole thing when you go find and read this book.

Matilda Veronica Goodnight (Tilda) is making a living painting recreations of famous paintings on people’s walls. Its lucrative, she’s great at it, she hates it. Her dad spent years teaching her to paint in the style of famous painters, Tilda can fake anything. Her family relies on her to hold everything together and to be the sensible drab one within their cast of colorful characters, so she does. She paints the murals, lives above the family gallery, and tries to help pay off their mortgages. Tilda can’t even have good sex because she’s afraid if she lets herself go she’ll blurt out all her deep dark secrets during orgasm. The only problem is that her niece — precocious, adorable Nadine — just sold one of her secrets for $1000 bucks, and now Tilda has to get it back before her neat, boring little world explodes. Which is how she ends up in a dark closet wearing a ridiculous satin kimono jacket and making out with Davy Dempsey.

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