A Pound of Flesh, by Sophie Jackson

A Pound of Flesh

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 58%

Catnip: Prisoner (Of Your Love); Ex-Con; Teacher-Student; Tattoos; Motorcycles; He’s Basically A Criminal; FanFic; Forbidden Romance; Red Hot Burning Shame; #FelonCrushFriday

Shame Scale: This would be low to medium shame, as it’s a pretty standard romance with lots of sex but a cover that could pass for nonfiction – except it’s TWILIGHT FANFICTION so I think we can safely go with Red Hot Burning Shame.

Fantasy Cast: Jay Ryan, Bryce Dallas Howard

What do we taste like: There were no words. “Perfection” seemed insanely inadequate

Book Description:

Orange Is the New Black meets Jennifer Probst’s New York Times bestselling Marriage to a Billionaire trilogy, featuring a strong-minded prison tutor who discovers that her sexy bad-boy student is far more than he appears to be.

Haunted by nightmares of her father’s street murder fifteen years ago, Kat Lane decides to face her fears and uphold his legacy of helping others by teaching inmates at a New York prison. There she meets arrogant Wesley Carter, who’s as handsome as he is dangerous, as mysterious as he is quick-witted, and with a reputation that ensures people will keep their distance.

As teacher and student, Kat and Carter are forced to leave their animosities at the door and learn that one should never judge a book by its cover. As Carter’s barriers begin to crumble, Kat realizes there’s much more to her angry student than she thought, leaving them to face a new, perilous obstacle: their undeniable attraction to one another.

When Carter is released and Kat continues to tutor him on the outside, the obstacles mount. Can they fight the odds to make their relationship work? Will Kat’s family and friends ever accept her being with someone of his background? And will Kat’s discovery of Carter’s role on the night her father died force them apart forever…or unite them?

So, I preordered this book on a whim. I had some money on a gift card that wasn’t tied to my regular budget so it basically felt like Monopoly money, and this book said fanfic. Fanfic books are total catnip for me – I read Anna Todd’s entire After series, and was at least 800 pages into it before Cleone informed me that it was motherfucking One Direction fanfiction. (You’re goddamn right I finished the series. It’s my greatest Shame of all.) This book? Is Twilight fan fiction. And that big orange 4.5 Million Online Reads! circle on the cover drew me in like the blue ribbon on a PBR can. Everyone else likes it right??? I am a marketing woman’s dream. Give something an obscure award, I’ll probably trust that I should buy it.

My initial problem with this book was that it’s about Carter, a surly prisoner and Kat, his tutor, and all the descriptions of Carter kept reinforcing my traitor brain’s assertion that Carter is the Hot Convict Jeremy Meeks, of the #FelonCrushFriday fame:

He was fine to look at with his buzz cut; wide, strong shoulders; two days’ worth of stubble; and long legs that stuck out from underneath the desk, but his attitude made him sharp around the edges. There was a dangerous aura around him that screamed No entry. She noted a lick of black ink poking out from the collar of his coveralls, curving up his neck.

His attitude made her want to rip the smug smile off his pretty face. And what a pretty face it was. The lashes that framed his baby blues were sickeningly long, lying on cheekbones that were sharp yet masculine. His mouth was plump in all the right places and puckered when he conjured up his smirk.

In other words, exactly like this:

meeks meme

I don’t know why by brain was so determined to ruin this book for me, but I worked really hard to get past it by looking at lots and lots of pictures of Jay Ryan, because the man can work a good scowl, and looks like he could play a pretty good prisoner.

jay ryan prisoner 2

The book itself is a semi-standard, highly emotional romance. Kat works at a prison teaching English Literature classes to inmates. She’s from a wealthy political family, and took the job as a way to do some good in the world (Her mom is less than trilled with her career choice). Carter is in jail for cocaine possession, and needs to take classes as part of his bid for parole. English Literature is the only class left that he has yet to be kicked out of, but he quickly remedies that on the second day of class by acting like an agro asshole and throwing a desk against the wall. Even though Carter has been nothing but obnoxious and stand-offish to Kat, she still feels that strange electric je ne sais quoi around him, and volunteers to tutor him one on one on her own time (for free, crazy girl), so he will have a shot at his parole.

Carter realizes that he has a traumatic childhood connection to Kat (I’m not going to spoil the secret, you’re going to have to read this one if you want to know, but it’s bananas). As their tutoring sessions progress, Kat finds herself becoming inappropriately attracted to Carter, and Carter is becoming obsessed as well. When he is eventually granted parole, they continue their tutoring sessions unchaperoned, and the romance between them grows even though Kat could lose her job and face legal charges for getting involved with Carter.

The sexual tension between the two is great – the forbidden romance aspect was really working for me. I love a book with an explosive home run, and this book did not disappoint. And Jackson strikes a good balance between plot and sex. There’s plenty of doing it in this one, without neglecting the story.

The story is pretty engaging, there are a lot of outside forces working against the couple – legal ramifications, family pressure, malicious villains, Carter’s old friends who are still involved in criminal activities. Because it was an impulse buy, I honestly thought that this book was going to be the first in a series and not a stand alone. So even up through the epilogue, I was all, “Wait for it, wait for it…” I was convinced that something was going to come back and muck things up for our couple like a horror movie villain who won’t die. So in a way, the ending was a total surprise for me since it was not actually a cliffhanger, and I fucking love it when a romance novel surprises me.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, if a tad heavy and overwrought at times. I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series, which features Carter’s friend Max.

Amazon

Moonlight on Nightingale Way, by Samantha Young

Moonlight on Nightingale Way

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 41%

Catnip: Hot Scot; Hot Neighbor; Enemies to Lovers; Surprise Children; Kitchen Sex; Bad Childhood; Ex-con

Shame Scale: C: Zero shame here, Mary? Shame? M: My only shame is that I know I’ll be going back and reading my bookmarks again because some of this one is going in The Bank.

Fantasy Cast: Tom Hardy, Adelaide Kane

Book Description:

Logan spent two years paying for the mistakes he made. Now, he’s ready to start over. He has a great apartment, a good job, and plenty of women to distract him from his past. And one woman who is driving him to distraction…

Grace escaped her manipulative family by moving to a new city. Her new life, made to suit her own needs, is almost perfect. All she needs to do is find her Mr. Right—or at least figure out a way to ignore her irresistible yet annoying womanizer of a neighbor.

Grace is determined to have nothing to do with Logan until a life-changing surprise slowly begins turning the wild heartbreaker into exactly the kind of strong, stable man she’s been searching for. Only just when she begins to give into his charms, her own messy past threatens to derail everything they’ve worked to build…

C: We love Samantha Young’s Dublin Street series. My possible favorite book couple (at least in my Desert Island Top Ten) are Nate and Olivia from Before Jamaica Lane. When this loaded up Mary and I decided to read it in tandem so we could text frantically and review together. This is quickly becoming my new favorite way to read books, everyone should have a buddy. There are some mild spoilers in here, so if you want to avoid them, scroll down from this hot picture of Tom Hardy in a hot tub, to the hot picture of Tom Hardy in a suit.

tom hardy hot tats 2

Logan and Grace are new neighbors in an apartment building in Scotland, Grace is not much enjoying her new neighbor and we meet her on the morning where she discovers that his playmate of the evening has left her thong to dry on the stair landing in the common space. Which is incredibly foul. Grace confronts Logan and he’s apologetic about it at first, but also annoyed that Grace is being kind of a bitch about the situation.

M: On the one hand, Grace was kind of a chit with her whole “I’m Miss Grace Farquhar” intro, and then politely requesting that he not let girls dry their undies in their shared hallway. I personally would have gone with humor, but she’s a shy girl. But I thought Logan was way too much of an asshole for the first few chapters. He was dismissive of Grace in an “I don’t want to fuck you,” kind of way, and that’s my least favorite kind of book hero. He had to work for it to get into my good graces in this book.

C: My brain, for once not being a scumbag, immediately started picturing Logan as Tom Hardy. Big and gruff and scruffy and super hot. I was swoony for him even when he was being kind of a dick and loudly banging a cavalcade of sluts.

M: So much better than when you were reading Beautiful Disaster and your brain gave you Weevil from Veronica Mars. Tom Hardy is perfect for this one. He just looks like he’s mostly a prick and super dirty in bed.

C: The two establish a begrudging, quiet truce until the morning Grace comes out of her flat to find a puddle of vomit on her welcome mat. She’d been woken up before dawn by the never ending chorus OH LOGAN OH LOGAN OH GOD GOD and is all the way done with this nonsense. He tells her she has a stick up her ass, they hate each other, its all very tension filled and cat nippy.

M: He was pretty embarrassed about the vomit though. And he didn’t realize she could hear through the walls. He initially seemed properly apologetic to me. I was siding with Logan on this one. If she couldn’t sleep, she could have bought some ear plugs, taken some Tylenol PM…

C: I’m super glad I never had a neighbor who had extremely loud sex that kept me up nights. Pounding bass, crack fights, barking dogs? Sure. But no obnoxious bangity bang bang bang.

bangity

M: I used to hear my upstairs neighbors, but I loved it because the guy was such a milk toast. The sex sounded so disappointing. My roommates and I used to all crowd into my room to listen and speculate. Like, 3 minutes of rhythmic creaking which would abruptly stop, then he’d immediately run into the bathroom and flush the toilet. I digress. Anyways. I can see why it was bothering Grace. This was loud, protracted, frequent banging.

C: Grace works from home, editing books (mostly romance novels- nice touch!) and has had to change her schedule because of the frequent sleep interruptions, she wants nothing to do with Logan. Even if she finds him disturbingly hot and has an amazing sex dream about him. That is until she’s in the stairwell and a teenage girl shows up, a girl with lovely violet eyes just like Logan’s. Our gruff, dreamy, man-whore has a teenage daughter he never knew about.

M: Logan was terrified of being alone with a life-changing bomb like poor Maia, so he dragged Grace into his apartment for support. Maia confessed that her home environment was awful, and begged Logan to let her stay with him.

C: I was a little annoyed when Maia first turned up, secret children (unlike accidental pregnancy) don’t tend to be catnip for me. but I then ended up immediately sympathizing with her and finding her extremely likeable. It helped that she was never a bitch to Grace and was rooting for her dad to get together with her.

Maia’s had an awful life with a junkie mom in a shady Counsel Estate – this is a lovely English way of saying Projects – and when Logan goes to see if the girl really is his and to tell her mom he wants to take care of her, Maia’s mom is basically “Fine, whatever, just give me your phone so I can get some smack.” Grace had an awful mother herself, in different ways, and is immediately taken with and sympathetic to Maia. And Logan is floundering, but wants very much to be a good dad and make up for all the years he didn’t know she existed.

M: Since Maia’s paternity was up in the air at first, Grace volunteered to let Maia live with her while the legalities were sorted out, and so Logan could transition his apartment from bachelor pad to family home.

C: Soon Grace, Logan, and Maia have formed a tentative family unit, they’re having dinner together, Grace is helping Maia with her homework, and giving Logan advice on how to handle this strange new teenager living in his house. They’re like a married couple who have never had sex. And let’s be honest we were getting impatient for the sex. Grace is too, which is why she gets very upset at the news that Logan had sex with some American tramp – he TELLS her, the fucker – and she decides to go on a blind date to get Logan out of her head. Which goes just awfully. Luckily, when she goes home Logan is jealous and takes Grace right up against her kitchen counters.

Kitchen sex is so hot, plus its very convenient for snacking right after. #practical

M: This is when we started with the midnight texting. I was SO MAD that he slept with The American, and then had the balls to be like, “Well you know how it is, I was just so used to getting it regularly, it’s hard to go without…” UGH. I wanted Grace to fuck someone else so badly to get back at him. I confess I was mildly disappointed that her blind date sucked so much. But then there was the kitchen sex. It was glorious. If you’re reading this book at night and trying to get to a good stopping point before you go to sleep, stop immediately after they come and close the book!

C: Hating Logan was really hard for me, I was falling hard into book boyfriend love, I don’t know how Grace stayed strong as long as she did. Mary was way more fired up about his post screwing Grace against a wall transgressions than I was. I’m a soft touch.

M: He was a dick to her. I like to see the heroes suffer sometimes. I still think she should have pointed out what an asshole he was being by screwing Maia’s history teacher.

C: It takes us a bit longer to get to our HEA, Logan let us down and it takes a few chapters and some character growth for him to realize that he can’t live without Grace. That he and Maia both need her, but especially him.

tom hardy cig

This is the last Dublin Street series book, and Young gave her readers a little epilogue for each couple. I’m not going to lie it made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

M: Definitely. I might have gotten a little teary at the end. And while I did want Logan to suffer a little bit, he did manage to work his way back into my good graces. This was a great end to one of our favorite series.

Check it out on Amazon: