14: Friends to Lovers

This week’s podcast is our tribute to Joey and Dawson. It’s Friends to Lovers week, featuring books by Nicola Rendell, Chrstina Lauren, Damon Suede, Samantha Young, and Chanel Cleeton.

 

Books in this episode:

So Good – Nicola Rendell

Dark Wild Night – Christina Lauren

Hot Head – Damon Suede

Before Jamaica Lane – Samantha Young

On Broken Wings – Chanel Cleeton

 

Also mentioned:

Wild Card – Karina Halle

Wild – K Webster

The Pact – Karina Halle

An Exaltation of Larks – Suanne Laqueur

The Billionaire’s Favorite Mistake – Jessica Clare

Unknown Wendy Higgins

Screwed, by Kendall Ryan

screwed

Grade: C+

Doing it at: 74%

Catnip: Hot Neighbor, Friends to Lovers, Manwhore, Emotional Unavailability

Shame Scale: Lowwww.

Fantasy Cast:  Joshua Bowman, Vanessa Hudgens

Book Description:

I have one rule: Don’t shit where you eat. 

Several of the women in the condo complex I own would love some one-on-one playtime, and why wouldn’t they? I’m young, fit, attractive, and loaded. Not to mention I’m packing a sizable bulge below the belt. It’s a combination that drops panties on a regular basis. 

Yay, me, right? 

But my cock, troublemaker that he is, has been confined to my trousers by my business partner. A concession I agreed to, and one that’s never been hard to enforce until Emery moves in across the hall. She’s smart, young, determined, and sexy as hell. I want a taste. I won’t stop until I’m buried deep inside the succulent new-in-town brunette. 

After being warned about my past, she does her best to steer clear, but I’m about to show her that underneath it all, I’m a guy with a heart of gold and a cock of steel. 

My name is Hayden Oliver, and this is my story.


This was my second Kendall Ryan book, the first being Filthy Beautiful Lies – a sweet little “auctioning off her virginity” romance, and god, that trope will never ever get old for me. Screwed is billed as a romantic comedy, and it has a fantastic cover. Marketing women take note – that’s really all you need to sell us a book.

Things start off strong; Hayden and his buddy Hudson own several properties, and Hudson is laying down the law, telling Hayden he needs to stop banging their tenants. Girls are getting pissed and they’re losing rent money in the fallout.

The condo building that Hudson and I own – and I live in – is like a real-life Melrose Place. With sexy young twenty-somethings all living in close proximity, there’s bound to be a little drama now and again.

Right there, I was hooked. I fucking loved Melrose Place, and everything else Aaron Spelling ever touched. Do any of you guys remember Titans, where Yasmine Bleeth sleeps with Casper Van Dien and then finds out that he’s her fiancé’s son? I’m still salty that that one was cancelled because there was major drama and I have been dying to know how it was all going to shake out for the past 15 years. And now Aaron is dead, so I’ll never fucking know. Although I’m pretty sure that’s the plot of a Brooke Cumberland book I’ve got at the top of my TBR list.

But anyways, Melrose Place was referenced, I got on board with this story. So as Hudson is lecturing Hayden about diddling the tenants, Hayden is looking over his shoulder, checking out New Tenant Emery:

That firm, round ass needs a good spanking for making my dick so hard.

That’s Hayden in a nutshell. A funny, bro-y inner monologue all about his boners and the dirty things he wants to do to Emery. But he decides to prove to Hudson that he can be counted on, by being just friends with Emery.

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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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Him, by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Him

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 55%

Catnip: Hockey Players, Friends to Lovers, Childhood Crush, Summer Camp Romance, All the Feels, Tattoos, All of the P, None of the V, Dual Narrative, #TeamAnal

Shame Scale: Low shame. This was a sweet book.

Fantasy Cast: Kris Letang, David Rundblad

What do we taste like?: the rain, beer, something addictively masculine

Book Description:

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died. 

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever. 

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions— 
can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself. 


I recently read The Deal, by Elle Kennedy – which was also about a hockey player – and liked it a bunch. So when I saw that she was collaborating with Sarina Bowen on a M/M hockey romance, that was pretty much all I needed to hear to pre-order it. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll keep on saying it: M/M romance is super hot you guys. All of the P, none of the V. It’s all rock hard abs and tight buns, with nary a boob in sight.

This one starts out with Ryan Wesley (Wes) and Jamie Canning, two college hockey players on opposite sides of the country, realizing that they’re both about to play in a big important championship series (sorrynotsorry, I don’t know if it was a real series or not because I could give a fuck about sports), and might see each other after four years of silence. Jamie and Wes were best friends growing up, spending summers together at hockey camp in Lake Placid, but Wes cut off all contact with Jamie when they went to college. Jamie has always been pretty butt sore about it (hehehe), and they’re both wondering if their teams are going to play each other in the series, and what it’s going to be like to see each other.

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Chaos, by Jamie Shaw

Chaos

Grade: B

Doing it at: 5%

Catnip: Rock Stars, Friends to Lovers, Virgin, Alpha Heroine

Shame Scale: Low shame. It’s well written with characters that feel like real people, and more plot than parts that will make you blush.

Fantasy Cast: Kit Harrington, Lily Collins

What does he taste like?: A young whiskey

Book Description:

From the moment she saw Shawn Scarlett perform at a school talent show, Kit Larson has loved two things: the guitar, and the gorgeous, green-eyed boy who inspired her to play. But one careless night in high school shatters her hope of ever being more than a notch in his bedpost.

Six years, two bands, and one mostly mended heart later, Kit’s about to make her rock star dreams a reality as the new guitarist for Shawn’s band, The Last Ones to Know. He may not remember their reckless night together, but Kit has never forgotten…and she’s determined to make him eat his heart out.

The release of their new album means a month cooped up on a tour bus, sleeping inches away from the ridiculously sexy musician she’s never quite gotten over. And as Kit gets to know the real Shawn—not Shawn Scarlett, the rock god, the player—their attraction becomes too hot to resist. But the past is paved with secrets, and when they finally surface, Kit could lose everything: the band, the music, her dreams…and Shawn.


This is book three in the Mayhem series, and if you are into rock star romances, I definitely recommend checking these ones out. Each book is a stand alone, focusing on one of the band members, but you’re probably better off reading them in order. In Chaos, the story focuses on Shawn Scarlett – the guitarist, and Kit Larson – the backup guitarist hired in Riot.

Kit went to school with all of the guys in The Last Ones to Know, but she was a few years younger than them. She saw Shawn play at a school talent show in middle school, and he inspired her to learn to play the guitar. And he inspired her first big crush, the kind of crush you have when you’re in your teens that just consumes you. Obviously, he doesn’t know she exists.

Continue reading

Price of a Kiss, by Linda Kage

Price of a Kiss

Grade: C+

Doing it at: 85%

Catnip: Just a Gigolo; Hot Neighbor; Dangerous Ex; Friends to Lovers

Shame Scale: Not the high shame book that I wanted.

Fantasy Cast: Theo James, Teresa Palmer

What does he taste like?: Relief and devotion

Book Description:

I don’t care what my cousin says; I am not the queen of impossible relationships. I mean, just because my last boyfriend tried to kill me and left a bit of a scar on my neck, then forced me to move across the country and legally change my name to Reese Randall to escape him, does not mean-

Oh, who am I kidding? For a freshman in college, I have to have the worst dating track record ever.

It’s no wonder love is the last thing on my mind when Mason Lowe enters my life. But the chemistry between us is like bam! Our connection defies logic. And he’s just so freaking hot. Being around him makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt before. I even like bickering with him. He could be my soul mate…except for one teeny tiny glitch.

He’s a gigolo.

Boy, do I know how to pick them.


This was the second book I read in Linda Kage’s Forbidden Men series. I broke my “read all series in order” rule, and started out with To Professor, with Love back when I was on a teacher/student kick (I just like that stuff, ok?), and enjoyed it much more than I was expecting. When I saw that Cleone had dropped this one in the family library, I was super excited to read it while on my vacation – the whole stripper/hooker trope is right up there with stepbrothers for me.

This was the first book I read on our trip, when all my traveling companions learned that, “What are you reading?” will usually get you something like, “Well it’s about a girl who had to change her name and go into hiding because her ex-boyfriend tried to kill her, and she meets this guy who’s stupid hot, who turns out to be a gigolo, and they both really want each other, but he can’t quit his job because he needs to support his mother and disabled sister. It’s really emotional.”

At least that’s how I described it to my cousin who is literally a rocket scientist. He was reading non-fiction, did not seem interested in reading my book, and consequently I’m positive he did not enjoy his vacation nearly as much as I did. Nine days of pina coladas and ten trash books, vs nine days of pina coladas and one boring non-fiction book about the history of the conflict in Iran? Clearly I was YOLO’ing way harder than him.

Reese has just transferred to a community college, and the book opens with her and her cousin talking about the Hot Thing across the quad. Her cousin is all, “Yeah, he’s the hottest of all time, but you can’t afford him. Literally. He’s a gigolo.” Then Reese and Hot Thing share some sizzling eye contact – until he notices her cousin with her, and then he glares at them like they’re a bunch of girls gossiping about him being a sex worker (which they are), and storms off.

Continue reading

Doubled, by Charlotte Stein

doubled

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 81%

Catnip: Hot  Twins; All in the Family; Threesome; Friends to Lovers; All Action No Plot

Shame Scale: It’s a book that’s essentially one long threesome sex scene. Surfing the high seas of shame.

Fantasy Cast: Nic and Campbell Pletts; Kat McPhee

What do we taste like: Peppermint

Book Description:

Bobbi has been friends with the Hoffman twins for one long, glorious year. They’re sweet, funny and kind, but there’s a problem…they’re also hotness personified. Times two. And when they lure her into a kinky little game involving a blindfold and some rather unexpected fondling, she finds them much harder to resist than she’d imagined.It seems they want to be something other than just good friends. They want a hot, steamy ménage, and all Bobbi has to do is decide if she’s up to the challenge. One big, gorgeous guy is enough for her.Two might be more than she can handle…

We ended up with Doubled in the library when Mary mentioned she might maybe want to read a book about hot twins having a threesome. Turns out, like most fantasy scenarios, there were A LOT of books to be had. Doubled is more of a novella in length and is mainly sex, extremely light on plot. I should clarify that that’s not a complaint.

Bobbi and twins Tobias and Sebastian have been platonic friends for awhile, a triumvirate of best friends who haven’t so much as kissed. Until a game to show Bobbi that she can’t ALWAYS tell them apart goes awry. Bobbi is blindfolded and feeling their faces all innocent like. Then feeling a bare chest, still pretty innocent. Then being eaten out, by which twin she is not entirely positive. See, Bobbi, don’t get smug – you can’t tell whose tongue is whose!

There is the barest wisp of a plot woven through in between the sex scenes. Bobbi has low self esteem and her roommate is a nasty piece of baggage, she asks Bobbi all the time why she hasn’t given the twins her number, because Bobbi doesn’t even know what to do with the double dose of sexy swimmers that she’s always hanging out with. Sebastian and Tobias are emo about no one being able to tell them apart and feeling like they have no identity as individuals. They’re just hot pieces of interchangeable ass to the other girls on campus. After the blindfolded, oral sex shenanigans they reveal to Bobbi that they had talked about doing something like that with her before, that they’ve been lusting after her for a long time.

“Remember that time we sat in on Broadman’s lecture and there were no seats left?”

“Yeah.”

“And you sat in my lap?”

“I don’t think I like where this is going.”

“I was hard then. I was hard during movie night, when you fell asleep against my arm. I got hard in the photo booth —”

“When we took those cute pictures? But I have nothing but wholesome memories of doing that!”

Sleeping with the same girl at once is not something they’ve ever done before but they both LOVE her and want to share her. Seb and Tobe want Bobbi to be their GIRLFRIEND. Their collective, shared girlfriend. Aw, guys.

Even though this book is 90% sex scene and only about 90 pages long, we don’t get our p’s in the v until 81%. Lots of oral for all parties before then, but no doing it until there is actual penetration is the Mybookshame rule. We take our review standards VERY seriously. This is a professional blog, y’all. Both twins are so big that Bobbi can hardly take them, natch, but their penises are very different. See! Even identical twins can have unique, giant penis shapes, they’re individuals. The twins are super in to the fact that they’re having sex with Bobbi at the same time, while absolutely not touching each other during sex. Because that would be weird. Seb and Tobe keep up a running dialog with each other while taking turns giving Bobbi a million perfect book orgasms:

“Oh God, I think she’s coming. Oh she’s almost definitely coming on my cock. Fuck fuck fuck.”

“She’s still doing it too. She’s still coming.”

“You serious?”

“Yeah, she’s….”

“God you’re right. She’s like a fucking fist around me.

Just brothers hanging out with brothers doing normal brother stuff.

This book is a real trash book. It has no pretensions of being anything else, and that’s probably why it was so fun. If you’re going to be a book about twin brothers sharing the same girl BE a book about twin brothers sharing the same girl. No one is reading that for the plot. Unless Franzen decides to cover this territory on his next release, then it’ll be art. If you’re looking for something light, mindless, and really fun that you can definitely not read in the same room as anyone you’re related to pick up Doubled.

Disclaimer/Spoiler under hot twins. Proceed with caution.

**Mary asked me to add a disclaimer that there is no DP in this book, if you are looking specifically for twin brother DP (which is cool, you like what you like!) keep searching. If we find it, we’ll be sure to let the world know. 

***Mary here – I wanted to add that this book gave us our second Mybookshame Rule. The rules are now as follows:

1. Doing it does not count until the P is in the V (Or the B, if there is no V)

2. Menage books should have DP. 

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