Retreat, by Jay Crownover

retreat

Grade: A

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Roughing It, Hate to Love You, Cowboys, Lumbersexual, Sexual Healing, Romantic Suspense, Strong Female Lead, Fish Out of Water, Horses, Hot Springs, City Mouse vs. Country Mouse, Ride It My Pony

Shame Scale: I think we are entirely shameless at this point (Garth Brooks link appropriate because this book involves a Stetson hat!)

Fantasy Cast: Alan Powell, Amy Adams

What Does He Taste Like?: Mountains and man

Book Description:


Every once in a while, you need to get away from it all.

I was a woman on the edge, shaken and shattered after a breakup that felt like it tore my entire world apart.
My best friend, sick of watching me drown in misery and melancholy, harassed me until I agreed to go with her on a week-long wilderness retreat.

She promised days spent bonding and getting in touch with our inner bad-asses. It was supposed to be all about the two of us roughing it and making do with the bare minimum. She assured me we were going to be pushed to our limits in ways that were unimaginable. Neither one of us could have ever guessed just how right she was.

Nowhere in the glossy brochure did it say anything about the fact I was going to have to battle the insufferable but deliciously rugged and sexy trail guide instead of the elements. The brochure also forgot to mention the part that warned when you left civilization behind, there was no place to pack your inhibitions and fears.

I was told that I would be facing a week where the only thing I should expect was the unexpected. However, no one mentioned that I was going to have to fight for my life…and my heart as soon as I ventured into the unknown.

I was a pro at hiding from my feelings but when it came time to face a real threat, one that could change everything, I learned I was more of a no surrender, no retreat kind of girl.

Retreat is a standalone novel, the first in the Getaway series which centers on the hardheaded and brokenhearted Warner brothers and the women that dare to love them.
These boys are very good at putting the wild in wilderness.


Mary: Jay Crownover has decided to dip her toes into the Cowboy Romance world and we cannot be more excited about it.

Cleone: Jay seems determined to give us every single male fantasy- hot cop, hot criminal, hot carpenter, hot military men, hot lawyer, hot versions of Trump’s worst nightmare— and now the hot cowboy. Thanks, Jay! You’ve got a golden boner in your future for your gifts to womankind.

M: I love cowboy books, from the super erotic, Stetson hat, vaguely bi-sexual Lorelei James/Maya Banks/Lora Leigh kind of cowboys, to the ultra masculine Kristen Ashley cowboys who are pretty much exactly like her bikers/pimps/bounty hunters/lawmen/fantasyland marauders. I’m pretty much pro-cowboy in all forms. But Crownover’s cowboys lean more towards the gentleman’s undercut, plaid shirt, motorcycle boots, lumbersexual type – and as a Pittsburgh wannabe-hipster mom, that is SO my catnip. So quick, close your eyes and don’t look at the cover, because this book is totally about a hot hipster cowboy and not an aging Joey Fatone.

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Gage, by Tess Oliver

gage

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 65%

Catnip: Lumberjack; Opposites Attract; Cowboys; Reformed Bad Boy; Trouser Snake

Shame Scale: Medium shame, Tess Oliver’s books are addictive New Adult that you probably aren’t advertising to strangers and elderly relatives that you’re reading

Fantasy Cast: Henry Cavill; Taylor Swift

Book Description:

After nearly losing his friend in a logging accident, Gage Barringer is convinced now more than ever that he needs to find a different job. But his side business of breaking colts at the small Montana ranch he inherited from his grandfather doesn’t earn him enough money. He has his mind set on running The Raven’s Nest, a popular bar and restaurant near his ranch. The original owner has died and Gage is waiting for it to be put up for sale. But there is a five-foot-four, brown eyed, obstacle in his way, an obstacle with lips made for sin and a voice made for breaking hearts. And Summer Donovan is one road block Gage Barringer won’t be able to find a way around.

The hero in this one is LITERALLY a lumberjack and a cowboy. So, no way was I not reading Gage. Have you google image searched Hot + Lumberjack lately? If the answer is no, change that. I have read a bunch of Tess Oliver’s other books, she was one of the first new adult authors I discovered when I started to devour trash, and since her first novel I think her writing has really improved. If I had to compare her books I would say they’re comparable to Jamie McGuire’s or Abbi Glines, we aren’t sure WHAT makes them so addictive but the stories are eminently readable.

Summer lives in L.A. with her boyfriend who is also her band mate, and is on the verge of a really big recording contract. It’s something she’s been working towards since she was a teen. Everything is looking like sunshine and rainbows, until the sleazy record label guy propositions her and she finds out that her boyfriend has been giving it to her best friend for who knows how long. So, Summer does what any reasonable young lady whose life is in flux would do, she moves to Montana to take over her dead grandpa’s restaurant in a tiny logging town.

Gage, our lumberjack, cowboy, manwhore hero wanted to buy the restaurant so he could stop working on the logging crew since it’s dangerous, exhausting work. Now, Summer has thwarted his plans and he doesn’t intend to be impressed by her. But of course he is, because what the fuck kind of depressing book would this be if he wasn’t?

Our protagonists don’t spend too long pretending to hate each other, Gage is a gentleman and helps Summer out with her car when it runs out of gas, keeps local rough neck douches from molesting her, and generally makes her feel safer and more welcome in the little town. Plus he’s a mountain of a mountain man and his charm isn’t lost on Summer. I’d describe Gage as an Alpha, but like a gentle non-asshole Alpha. An Alpha who likes baby kittens. Oliver’s character building is getting better book by book and I found myself rooting hard for these two.

The bedroom rodeo picks up right at our not at all arbitrary 65% mark cut off, and much is made of how much heat Gage is packing:

He was massive everywhere. His erection glistened with the dew of sex.

She released a throaty groan as she impaled herself lower and lower over my erection. “god, when does it end,”

They *almost* have sex in the hay loft of his barn, but sadly he teases her about rats and carries her naked across the property to ravish her in the house instead. I mean, it was still hot, but hayloft sex would have been a marker on my imaginary smut book bingo card. Just because it’s not real doesn’t mean I don’t like yelling bingo.

The drama in Gage is light, and resolved pretty tidily. This book was a quick read that didn’t require much thinking (a Compliment, I swear) and put a smile on my face. If you haven’t read any of Oliver’s books, this might be a good one to start with, and we get his dare-devil, smart-mouth brother next book. Nothing not to like about that. Plus, I reiterate, hot lumberjacks.

lumber sexual

Marly’s Choice, by Lora Leigh

Marly's choice

Grade: C+

Doing it at: 59%

Catnip: Mysterious Stalker; Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon; Horses; Cowboys; Sexual Healing; All in the Family; Threesomes; Foursomes; Sweatpants Boners; Butt Stuff; #TeamAnal; Red Hot Burning Shame

Shame Scale: Red Hot Burning Shame

Fantasy Cast: Matt Dillon; Christina Ricci; Josh Hartnett x 2

What do we taste like: A well of cream that flowed like honey from her body

Book Description:

Book 1 in the series Men of August

Marly’s love for Cade has spanned her teenage years, and survived strong and intact into womanhood. Her fantasies and daydreams have sustained her, but she’s no longer content with merely imagining the touch of his hands, the taste of his kiss. It’s time to seduce the tough, sexy cowboy.
She’s heard the rumors for years, the tales of his sexual preferences. She’s prepared herself to accept his desires. Prepared her body for his touch. But she wasn’t prepared for the choice to come…

Cade’s dark desires, his sexual excesses are based in the past. In a time when pain, shame, and blood stains his very soul. He carries a secret shared only with his brothers. A secret that has scarred the bond, the ability to be a brother or to accept the love of the men he was raised with. He knows the only way to prove his loyalty, his love for those brothers and Marly will be the key.

She has a choice. She can surrender to Cade’s needs, his soul deep desires, or she can walk away. A choice only Marly can make. A choice that will change her life forever.

Reader Advisory: These stories have graphic sexual language and scenes – no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!

Sometimes, you read a book that’s so amazing – so well written – that you need to pause for a while and digest the words. It’s almost hard to pick up another book afterwards, so I like to follow up really great books with really great trash books. Silly plot, lot of sex, nothing deep – unless we’re discussing penetration. This book was not the good one, it was the follow up. And it was perfect.

After a really disappointing book that I thought was going to involve a threesome with twin brothers that ended up being more of a thriller with one guy impersonating his dead brother (and had absolutely no double penetration whatsoever), I was lamenting to Cleone about the absolute dearth of threesome books involving twin brothers. I feel like it’s important to note that this isn’t a real life fantasy, it just seemed like something we’d see more of in the Shame Book world. My girl came through for me with Doubled, by Charlotte Stein, which with a few more clicks led me to Marly’s Choice, the first book in the Men of August series: three books about three brothers (two of whom are twins) and the ladies they share, and a fourth which appears to be a Christmas special. (Of course it is.) And at $10.49 a pop, I was thrilled to learn that my beloved local library has all of them. Giggity giggity.

Also, check out the cheesy cover of the paperback version. It looks like three copies of some old Scott Speedman doppleganger photoshopped together. Love

Marly's choice 2

Marly has returned home to the ranch for the funeral of the patriarch of the family who took her in as a teenager. When Marly was a young teenager, her mother realized that her stepfather was intent on molesting her, so she dropped her off with some family friends and disappeared to “draw him off.” The three boys in the family, Cade, and twins Sam and Brock, raised her as protective uncles. Now that Marly is all grown up (as a woman of twenty lol), she has set her sights on Cade, and is determined to seduce him.

Cade has been secretly lusting after Marly since she turned 18, but not a day before that – we wouldn’t want to go anywhere taboo with this plot! But as much as he wants her, he is determined to deny his feelings because he has some deep dark secrets, and is convinced that Marly would be disgusted with him and disappear forever if she ever found out what a horny beast he was. Marly starts coming on to him pretty strong, prancing around in thong bikinis and such, and poor Cade hasn’t “tested the wet heat of a woman’s desire” since Marly came of age. They have a few hot moments with kisses and touches, but Cade shuts everything down, telling Marly that it’s wrong, and a relationship between them will never happen:

“I fucking raised you Marly. I didn’t raise you to fuck you.”

And the dialog in this one is spectacular. The book basically starts out with Marly having a sex dream about Cade, including dream analingus, and it just goes up from there. There’s a plot with a dangerous stalker, but somehow almost every page manages to come back to something sex related. The adjectives and metaphors in this book were really some of the best trash reading I’ve read in a long time. It’s just endless dew of her need, arousal weeping from her body, well of cream that flowed like honey from her body, etc. And Cade pretty much walks around with a constant boner:

His erection was like a snarling beast beneath his jeans, demanding release, demanding Marly.

A groan was wrenched from his chest at the thought of taking her. Perspiration dotted his brow, and his erection was a torturous demon pulsing between his thighs.

So guys, I just want to be really spoilery and talk about this book in detail. I don’t think it ruins this particular book at all, but your call. If you think you might read this and want to avoid spoilers, scroll directly down from one hot guy to the next.

Matt Dillon

Ok. So this book is heavy on the butt stuff. Cade is definitely #TeamAnal, which Marly heard about from her friends’ older sisters growing up. She’s still a virgin, because she has been saving herself for Cade, but she’s been “preparing” herself to take the P in the B in anticipation of this eventuality. While Cade and Marly are making out, he tries to shock her by fingering her butt, and he’s surprised to see that she’s nuts for it. Cade gets mad and demands to know who taught her to take his fingers so easily up her butt. (I’m not making this up. It’s pretty much my favorite part of the book) When she confesses that she has been using dildos and plugs to ready herself for him, because she’d heard rumors about his preference, his resolve breaks and they fool around, but he stops shy of taking her virginity. They’re interrupted by drama involving the stalker – Cad find out that her evil step father has been stalking her, taking pictures of her for years and stocking up with a scary personal armory. Cade decides not to tell Marly that someone is after her, and that the best way to protect her is by sleeping with her and making her his. It’s shaky reasoning at best, but we let these things go in this sort of book.

Cade is still worried about sleeping with Marly though, because he knows his desire will make him lose control, and he doesn’t want her to run away when she finds out about his “dark, pulsating monster of need that made his flesh harden and ache.” Cade is worried that being with him will be too much for her, riding her for hours at a time. And then there’s also the tiny detail of the whole sharing her with his brothers thing.

They don’t completely explain *why* exactly the brothers have to share women, and frankly, it doesn’t really matter. There was some kind of horrible sexual abuse that he and his brothers suffered when they were younger, and while they don’t go into details, Cade figured out the only way to save his brothers was to have foursomes with them, I guess.

He couldn’t do anything but try to protect them, and show them in the only way he knew how, just how much they meant to him. By sharing Marly. And it was what he wanted, what he needed. An extension of his love for her, and his love for his brothers.

Every time they share a woman, it’s their way of reaffirming their love for each other. Whatever dude. I’m here to read about butt stuff and threesomes, I don’t really care about the backstory.

Cade and Marly finally get around to having sex, and it’s everything you’d hope for in a good erotica book. Literally so much pleasure, she passes out cold:

His cock plunged inside her, tearing past her hymen, sinking furiously to the hilt as the words left her mouth. Marly couldn’t breath for the pleasure. Her inner muscles gripped his pulsing flesh, stretching impossibly to accept him, protesting the intrusion with a bite of pain that nearly had her climaxing on the spot.

Unfortunately, Marly later overhears Cade talking with a guy they hired to help catch her stepfather, the stalker. He says something that makes her think that the only reason he slept with her was to get her to sleep in his room and keep her under his thumb so he can watch her easily. This leads to our manufactured break-up. Marly is mad that he lied to her – about her stepfather being after her, but mostly about the reason he slept with her. She thought he had finally realized he loved her the way she loved him, and she’s devastated to realize that it was to protect her.

Fast forward a few dozen pages and she’s over it, and Cade lets her in on his secret: the rumors she heard growing up were true, and she’s going to have to sleep with his hot twin brothers if she ever wants a relationship with them. So she does, in a scene that starts out with dual sweatpants boners, and ends with her in a threesome with Cade and his brother Sam. Both of whom have been recently shot, I might add.

Afterwards, Cade is all, “Baby, I love you, you did great. But there’s one more thing I need from you before we can make it official: you need to sleep with this other woman we have hanging around here to prove your dedication to us.” I guess it’s to prepare Marly for when Sam and Brock eventually bring girlfriends home, and she’ll be expected to participate? Marly decides to have a backbone though, because when they set up an orgy in the living room for her and give her the ultimatimum of fucking a woman she doesn’t really know, or leaving forever, she marches in and is like, “fuck you, fuck you, you can stay,” and then she has a foursome with all three brothers.

They catch the killer, then set us up for the next book by having Brock threaten some man into divorcing his wife, the woman we can only assume is the feature of the next book.

Josh Hartnett

As a book, the writing was over the top, and the stalker plot fairly predictable, but I’m bumping it up to C+ territory because I had so much fun reading it. This book gave me my personal best hashtags and I highlighted more than I’ve ever highlighted before. We’ve read a lot of books, good and bad, and I always love when something can surprise me with new words and phrases. This one had the notable distinction of being the first book I’ve read that used the phrase “female channel,” to distinguish the lady bits from the back bits:

His hand smoothed over her rear, hard and warm, his fingers running slowly down the crack, pausing at the tight pucker lower, then dipping quickly into the heated, slick crease of her female channel.

Also – Marly insists on sleeping in Cade’s shirts, and at one point there’s a bit about her wearing his silk dress shirt. This is a prime example of one of our favorite shame book phenomenons: An author describing something that should be sexy, but in reality looks like some awful 90’s gay club wear. Silk shirts are not even a little bit attractive, and I loved the visual of a big dark haired cowboy in a silk shirt that this book gave me:

Silk dress shirt

Seriously people, get this book, read it out loud a parties. You’re welcome.

Amazon

When I’m Gone, by Abbi Glines

When I'm gone

Grade: C-

Doing it at: 95%

Catnip: Holding Out For A Hero; Insecure Heroine; Sexual Healing; Cowboys

Shame Scale: Medium. It’s a cloying, saccharine romance, but we love it anyways. We like what we like, ladies.

Fantasy Cast: Luke Eastwood; Megan Fox

Book Description:

I had an urge to fix all her problems. Which was stupid. She was doing fine without me. But something about those big eyes…

Mase Colt-Manning has always preferred his humble life as a Texas rancher to his birthright as the son of a legendary rock star. In fact, he rarely visits his father’s rarefied world in Rosemary Beach, especially if it means bunking at his vile half-sister Nan’s house—until one visit leads to a chance encounter with a young, gorgeous house maid who awakens him with her off-key but spirited imitation of a country music star…

Reese Ellis finally has her freedom. After escaping a lifetime of abuse from her parents and classmates for an undiagnosed learning disorder, she seizes the opportunity to be a house maid to some of the richest families in Rosemary Beach. But her job is in jeopardy when she causes an accident at the home of her most important client, Nan Dillon. When a hot, half-naked stranger with a cowboy’s swagger comes to her rescue, she’s intrigued—then afraid once he shows his own interest. Reese has never met a trustworthy man in her life. Will Mase be any different?

Abbi Glines has a formula and it’s so catnippy, I don’t see any reason for her to change it. Her heroines are dazzlingly beautiful, saccharine sweet, selfless, and always have some sort of trauma in their past they’re courageously overcoming (also – the majority of them are poor). Her heroes are always gorgeous man-whores who meet the heroine, instantly renounce their whoring ways, and turn into overprotective white knights (The majority of them are rich). Add in one slutty World’s Most Unsympathetic Evil Villain Woman, and a huge misunderstanding, and you pretty much have a book. This is book 11 in the Rosemary Beach series, and obviously since Cleone and I have read the other 10, we’re not complaining.

This book starts out a few years in the past, with Reese narrowly escaping being sexually assaulted by her stepfather, when her mother comes home and throws her out for her obviously whorish ways. Seriously. There are never any ambiguous characters in these books. The heroes are Heroes, and the villains are Villains, and no one writes an evil woman like Abbi does.

The story picks up a few years later, and Reese is working as a cleaning lady in Rosemary Beach. She’s cleaning at Nan’s house (one of Glines’ go-to villains), when she accidentally wakes up Mase, Nan’s cowboy half-brother, who is sleeping in the guest room while in town to visit his other sister, Harlow. He’s instantly smitten with the birthmark on Reese’s buthigh. She thinks he’s hot, but she’s pretty much scared of everything. Reese accidentally breaks a mirror, and Mase insists on taking her to the ER. While he spends the day with her, he starts to feel “feelings” and the over-the-top protectiveness we love so much from these books starts to kick in – like, making sure she always has a ride home from work, because it’s so DANGEROUS for Reese to be walking in this rich seaside country club community.

They cross paths a few more times before Mase has to head back to Texas, and he realizes that there’s something wrong – Reese can’t read or write. He calls in all sorts of favors, and pays people lots of money to get Reese seen by Dr. Astor, the best learning disorder specialist in the area. Reese is severely dyslexic – something that I was able to diagnose immediately, yet no school official ever caught – which is a huge relief to her because she was raised to believe she is just stupid with a broken brain. She starts seeing him weekly for reading lessons, and her self confidence improves.

Besides, it wasn’t something to be ashamed of. Astor had told me that several times. He’d even had me repeat after him, “I am not less than. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I am a smart, capable person.”

So yeah, Reese’s insecurity was a little annoying.

I ducked my head to hide my smile. He liked my butt. It was too fat, but he liked it. I couldn’t keep from grinning.

And the romance is a little cloying – we’re aware, but we like it anyways. It’s Abbi Glines and sometimes we just feel like cotton candy for our brains. We want a guaranteed happy ending and the kind of devotion that doesn’t exist in real life romance. Glines’ characters are exaggerated versions of the ones you might meet in your college dorm, they might be annoying in real life, but we like them safely contained in our ereaders.

Take Mase’s 100% turnaround after meeting Reese. He’s so done with other women, that he needs to get a new mattress. I mean, it’s ridiculous, but it’s a romance novel. We’re not reading it for realism, we’re reading for the fantasy.

I would need to get new sheets and a new mattress before I brought Reese here. Get rid of what I’d fucked Cordelia and a few other women on. Reese was too good to be where they’d been. She was special.

This wasn’t the best in the series, and there was not much action in this one, and they didn’t hit the grand slam till almost the end. For that reason we’re putting this one in C- territory, but since there was a cliffhanger ending, we’re eagerly awaiting the next in the series which is sure to get with the getting it that we love in these books.

Amazon

Drinking at the Movies: The Longest Ride

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Drinking at the Movies! We Shame Girls were ruining movies for people long before the idea of the blog germinated into our sex and whiskey soaked brains, but we are pumped that now we can do it “for business.” Three girls, two flasks, and one Nicholas Sparks movie on opening night, we give you: The Longest Ride

the longest yard

Cleone

Grade: C

Doing it at: 41%

C: To begin with I’m surprised we didn’t get kicked out of the theater and/or jumped by angry 20-year-old girls, who after the credits started rolling, sighed earnestly and whispered “life goals.”  Once our movie vat size sodas are properly spiked we kind of lose our inside voices and our decorum. But! We made it through the whole of this movie and lived to tell the tale.

M: Right. You really don’t want to sit by us. I almost felt bad for everyone else in the theater, but then again, they chose to go to a Nicholas Sparks movie on opening night, so really, they must have low expectations in life in general.  Those poor lovebirds in front of us though.

C: I kinda liked it, I might be in the minority here with that opinion.

M: It was not good.

C: Sophia and Luke meet cute at the bull riding…event? festival? contest?… that he is competing in and she’s attending with her sorority sisters. He flies off his bull and comes up hat-less and staring into her eyes, it’s an insta-connection, he gifts her his hat, and she tries to look cute when she puts it on. Luke is played by Scott Eastwood and he does not need to TRY to look cute. Mary and I both think Clint himself was kind of a fox when he was younger, but Eastwood the younger takes it to a new level. For comparison:

Scott Eastwood young clint eastwood

M: Meow. Scott Eastwood was the best thing about this movie. His lower teeth are kind of tiny and look like itty bitty baby teeth, but it was worth the 10 bucks to see his bottom. Also – I did some googling and supposedly he declined the nude tape for his nuts because it was more hassle than it’s worth, so now I can think back on those shower scenes and think about how Britt Robertson might have the best job in the entire universe.

C: He plays charming country boy well, and of the two leads he’s the stronger actor, Britt Robertson was not chosen for her acting prowess. I kept turning to PP and Mary and dramatically intoning “ACTING” (I’m a jerk when I’m a wee bit tipsy); the chemistry between them also isn’t that great. This is no The Notebook, I kept wanting an “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird moment,” but it was surely not coming. Since this is a Nicholas Sparks book and there’s always some twist or dual narrative we had Alan Alda aka Hawkeye playing an old man who intones the story of his great love to Sophia as she visits him in first the hospital and then the nursing facility he is living in– I’m going to let Mary take the pleasure of talking about how they meet Hawkeye, but it’s proper Sparks drama.

M: Luke and Sophie rescued him from his BURNING CAR THAT THEN EXPLODED. In the middle of a monsoon.

C: The chemistry between Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin (who didn’t get stabbed in this!) as the younger Ira and Ruth is way better than the leads. And Oona’s wardrobe of 1940’s haute couture is a dream. Seriously we all want all her dresses in our respective sizes– this movie did get a few things right.

M: Seriously. All her crop tops and bralettes? Adorable.

C: There’s drama because Sophia is all about art and wants to move to NYC (natch) and Luke is just a bull riding fourth generation rancher who wants to drive his pick up and be number one at bull riding IN THE WORLD after a gnarly injury the year before. Ira tells Sophia that love is about sacrifices. Except at the end of this movie no one sacrifices anything due to a tidy and not very realistic plot twist that I saw coming about twenty minutes before it happened. All the romance clichés are shoved into this one. And Sophia is an immigrant apparently? But from where I couldn’t figure out, Poland maybe? Maybe it gives more detail in the book but there’s never any flagrant sex in Sparks’ books and we just ain’t down for that nonsense anymore. So, clichéd, bad acting, improbable plot. Not great. HOWEVER: Scott Eastwood.

M: The sexing was minimal, and mostly implied with cutaways. They only gave us about 30 seconds of hot. The acting was terrible, and I wasn’t really feeling the chemistry between Luke and Sophie. Noah and Allie they are not. And the ending was just wrapped up in a contrived little paisley-print bow. I didn’t even feel like crying. Come on, Sparksy! C-, and that’s being generous because I had fun getting drunk.

C: I gave this is a solid C, the grade might drop if I watched it sober. The story doesn’t make much sense, but as I dramatically shouted from a bathroom stall after the movie “Love doesn’t make sense!” Wanna drink and watch movies with us yet?