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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Stripped with the Vampire, by Jax Garren

Stripped with the Vampire

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 56%

Catnip: Ginger Men; Ass Biting; Vampires; Stripper with a Heart of Gold; All of the P None of the V; Second Chance Romance; #TeamAnal

Shame Scale: The cover is way more shameful than the actual story in this one. Could have used at least 30% more shame-y bits.

Fantasy Cast: Nick Bateman, Michael Fassbender

Book Description:

In a world of dark spells and blood ties where no one is safe, love is the most powerful magic of all. 

Shy vampire Charlie never intended to see Vince again after the bad boy human broke his heart. But when Vince turns up beaten and marked for sacrifice to an Aztec God, Charlie will do anything keep him safe. 

Vince has never forgiven himself for the lie that ended things with Charlie. The spark between them is as hot as ever, and Vince would risk body and soul to make it a fire again. But as they hide deeper in Austin’s supernatural society—a world of lies, dark magic, and warring immortals—he finds the path to reconciliation more twisted than he’s ever imagined.

We requested this ARC because we were looking for a good cheese book, and a closeted gay vampire book sounded perfect. It was actually much better than I expected. Which is good and bad. The cover makes this look like it will a Red Hot Burning Shame read, all P with no plot. And sometimes that’s what I have a hankering for. I like what I like, ok? The romance is a big part of the story in this one, but it ends up feeling comparable to a Sookie Stackhouse book, with lots of plot, less camp and 100% more anal sex. To skip the spoilers, scroll down from one extra hot guy to the other. You’re welcome.

Nick Bateman

Vince is a really hot stripper (human) who shows up for a job at a night club in a creepy old house. Also: he drives a Miata. I highlighted that part because I thought it might be relevant. (It wasn’t, but I still love it) Inside, he realizes that his best friend’s brother who booked him for the party, is actually a vampire now – and that everyone else is too. He knows all about vampires, because his ex boyfriend, the reserved ginger carpenter, Charlie, was one. Charlie was the love of his life, but when he found out that Vince was stripping, he broke up with him via paper note. He’s very old-fashioned that way: not a text, not a fax. Neither of them has really gotten over the other.

Vince realizes belatedly that these vampires are not like his rather normal/boring carpenter ex, rather, they’re more like the bloodthirsty Blade type vamps. There is a human woman directing everyone, and she tells Vince they are going to rip his heart out in a ritual sacrifice, but he needs to voluntarily give it up, or else her god won’t recognize it as a proper sacrifice. Vince is like, ok well that shouldn’t be a problem because I can’t imagine any situation in which I’d be cool with that! Unfortunately they drug him up with some type of Aztec drink and lots and lots of shots, and make him dance for hours while the vampires torture and feed on him. He ends up delirious, but still sane enough to Nope them when they ask for his heart.

He eventually escapes with the help of some friendly vampires. On the way out he is chased by some were-rats (no, not joking), but he manages to escape and run to his ex’s house. Charlie is shocked to see Vince and fights off the deadly were-rats. (I can’t stop laughing at that) Afterwards, Charlie takes Vince back to his place to bathe and rest, and they start bickering about their break up. Charlie never forgave Vince for lying about being a stripper – he is super jealous and possessive, and couldn’t stand the thought of other people seeing and touching him like that. Vince is still pretty pissed that Charlie dumped him with a Dear John letter, and never gave him a chance to explain himself. Vince feels like Charlie was the love of his life, but that he meant nothing to Charlie, who has lived hundreds of years, and will continue to live hundreds of years after he dies:

Soon he would be a memory to Charlie. But to Vince, Charlie would never be less than the universe compressed into human form.

Also, Charlie is very much in the closet, and Vince won’t put up with any of that. It made me lol a bit that vampire society in this universe is socially conservative. Aren’t vampires supposed to be inherently morally ambiguous?

That’s sort of how this book goes: There’s the overall storyline with vampire politics and mythology – in a nutshell, the two factions of vampire society are getting into a war, with the bad side being led by an evil mastermind Aztec witch with an apocalyptic plot. They team up with some other friendly vampires, who I hope show up in some other Vampires of Austin books. And then Jax weaves in the romance between Charlie and Vince. Going over their old hurts, the two of them trying to figure out if there’s a way they could ever work out.

Fassy

Garren does a good job building the mythology of this universe for us – witches came into play, shifters, even a god. The plot was engaging, and I really bought into the relationship between Vince and Charlie. Could have used a bit more sex though. That cover is selling something much more smutty than this is. Plus side though: there was some really great ass biting.

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Peachy Keen, by Kate Roth

peachy keen

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 8%

Catnip: Vacation Hook Up; Dual Narrative; Beards; Ginger Men; No Shame in Her Game; Secret Lovers; Best Friend’s Boyfriend’s Best Friend; Desk Sex

Shame Scale: The cover makes it pretty obvious what we are reading, BUT it’s ab free! The book has an actual story line, some really good dialog, and a heroine who doesn’t let people shame her. In honor of Georgia I say only the teensiest shame level for this doin’ it book

Fantasy Cast: Sam Heughan and Kate Upton

Book Description: 

Georgia Trenton has always been lucky in lust but hasn’t ever been interested in love. She prefers quickies to courtships, never seeing the need for more than just sex.

Years of listening to her best friend Danielle’s relationship woes had assured her she was right to avoid romance altogether. But ever since Dani returned from vacation in love and looking like the poster girl for happily ever after with her new boyfriend Evan Weston, Georgia has been questioning her wild ways and thinking about the future.

In an attempt to forget about the uncertainties that plague her and escape the constant symphony of sex noises coming through the walls of her apartment thanks to Evan and Danielle, Georgia jets off to Desire Resort & Spa hoping to enjoy the rowdy vacation hotspot the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

No strings attached. No commitments. And with one sexy stranger…no names.

But when strings appear, complicating what was supposed to be a carefree getaway, and commitment suddenly doesn’t sound as bad as it used to, Georgia finds herself wondering if lust is really enough.


We got this book as an ARC (advanced reader copy), it is scheduled for release on 05/18/2015, and the author sent it to little old us for pre-release review. This is super exciting for a fledgling blog, and I was worried that I wouldn’t like it and have to piss off the author. Luckily, I really like Peachy Keen. Specifically I really really like Georgia and Harrison.

Peachy Keen opens with Georgia taking a solo vacation to Desire Resort, which is the setting of 2.5 other books in Kate Roth’s Desire Resort series, and is basically a sex resort. Yes, shame readers, Georgia is taking the vacation of which we all dream. Her best friend, Danielle, went to the resort, met a celebrity, and improbably fell in love. Georgia isn’t looking for love, but she is looking for some fun anonymous sex, a break from listening to her friend have hot sex and swoon over her boyfriend, and a vacation from a job she hates.

Her first night at Desire, Georgia heads down to the bar to troll for action and finds a bearded, gingery, giant reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ and drinking beer on his own. This is basically cat nip city for me, I believe I audibly sighed “oh, yes please.” Georgia does too. She sits down to flirt, to size him up, and to eventually slide her room key across the table to him to let him know she’s down for a little of what the resort is famous for. Her nameless man is down for it as well, countering with his own room key and “I’ll bet mine’s bigger.” Georgia is worried he might need some direction and need her to be the aggressor during this encounter, until they reach his room:

He jammed the key in the box and opened the door in the same lightening quick motion that he picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. A laugh burst out of me at the caveman move and I kicked my heels off. I heard the clicking of the door as it shut as he sent me freefalling onto the plush mattress. The man didn’t need any direction.

Georgia and her mystery man have hot sex, that’s verging a little bit towards too intimate for commitment-phobe Georgia, but she’s feeling very into him and down to stay the night in his room so they can go for round two when they realize they kind of know each other. Hot, ginger, bearded giant stranger is her best friend’s boyfriend’s best friend (did you follow that?). The boy that she’s supposed to meet for the first time at his own birthday party in two weeks, back in the real world. And Georgia didn’t even tell Danielle that she was going to Desire for a little sexcation, so explaining that she has not only met Harrison (that’s sexy ginger giant’s name y’all) but that she’s also boned him is out of the question for her. Harrison and Georgia decide very reluctantly that this one night has to be it. Sure they’re super attracted to each other and just had the best sex of their lives, but they musn’t upset their friends! Book people are always way quicker to sacrifice for the good of others than real people with real sex drives.

As these things always go Harrison and Georgia aren’t good at the whole not banging each other on vacation thing. Especially if Georgia is going to show him the tricks she learned at her strip aerobics class– what other kind of aerobics is a sex resort going to offer? Harrison adores her, he makes no qualms about it, and he defends her against some fellow resort guests who try to shame her. Possibly my favorite thing about Peachy Keen is how it handles Georgia’s past: Yes she has slept around, yes she likes sex just as much as any guy. At no point is this an issue for Harrison. He doesn’t care how many other guys she’s been with, he doesn’t care that he met her at Club Doin’ It. Harrison likes Georgia, period. In a genre that often has man whores falling for virgins or girls who have only ever had one partner, a girl who owns her sexuality was really refreshing. Liking sex doesn’t make you a slut, lets all embrace and live that truth (PSA Over).

Harrison and Georgia agree to have sex just one-last-time before he goes back to the states. Steamy hot sex, where she puts a condom on him with her mouth – a feat I’m pretty impressed by to be honest. This does nothing to get the attraction out of their systems, it is obviously only going to be a matter of time before their romance bleeds into real life. Georgia might not be all aboard with a full fledged relationship, but Harrison is. He reads her to sleep over the phone, and braids her hair, and encourages her to quit the job she hates to follow her dreams. He also enthusiastically gives her orgasms and loves her “so high school” belly button ring.

I don’t want to give away anymore plot, because I really liked the HEA in Peachy Keen. The dialog is great, true to life and it has cute text convos which are a weirdly specific catnip of mine. Georgia’s commitment phobia irked me a little and I had to subtract I Love This Points for use of the word “humped” during an otherwise really enjoyable sex scene. It gains a point for having Georgia’s grandma accuse her cousin of having resting bitch face at a family holiday. I gave Peachy Keen a solid A-. My bad habit of not reading books in order (Mary HATES me for this) means now I need to go read the other books! This was a smart, sweet read with a book boyfriend that I’d be happy to have materialize into my real life (#teamharrison), and fun sex scenes starting early on and staying strong through the end. This is one you’ll want to check out when it’s released.

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I Want it That Way, by Ann Aguirre

I want it that way

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 51%

Catnip: Single Dads; Ginger Men; Neighbors; Emotional Unavailabilty; Not Backstreet Boys Fanfiction

Shame Scale: Light shame.

Fantasy Casting: Domhnall Gleeson, Adelaide Kane

Book Description:

“Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, dating’s the last thing on her mind. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, the last thing he wants is noisy students living in the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other. 

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.”

Ann Aguirre has this whole series of books with titles that are Backstreet Boys songs: I Want It That Way, As Long As You Love Me, The Shape of My Heart. They are NOT in actuality, Backstreet Boys fanfic. They do NOT have anything to do with the Backstreet Boys at all. The author just thought it was cute to get all my hopes up I guess? I almost didn’t read this book because that news was so disappointing, but Cleone gave it an emphatic thumbs up and the library had it in.

The book opens with Nadia moving into an apartment above Ty. She splits the seam of her pants while trying to lift a sofa straight away, so I can already relate to her character. Anyways, he’s a hot ginger, she’s thinking Yum, but he’s fairly standoffish. He complains about the noise on their first night in the apartment, but then Nadia realizes there’s a kid down there, so she decides to be respectful and quiet. They clearly have an attraction, but neither is acting on it. One night, Nadia ends up in Ty’s apartment, and they end up cuddling on the couch. There’s a really sweet bit of Nadia stroking Ty’s red hair (confession, we Shame Girls have a ginger fetish):

Encouraged, I stroked in gentle little swoops, until he was practically purring. “You’re a ginger tabby,” I teased as he turned, so I could reach the other side. “Please,” he mumbled. “I’m totally a battle-scarred tom.”

Ty confesses that he’s attracted to her, but NOTHING can or will happen between them; she’s his neighbor, she works at his son’s daycare, and if it went bad, it could negatively affect his son.

“That’s why I can’t sleep with you. We’re friends. We have to be. Because you live in my building, because you’re smart, funny, and I like you, and you work at Rainbow Academy. If we hook up and it doesn’t work out, it’ll change how we are together, and that would hurt Sam.”

Predictably, because admitting you’re attracted to someone and then vowing to never hook up is not the best strategy, they hook-up. It’s steamy hot. As a responsible dad, Ty insists that in the future, they keep their hook-ups to the one weekend a month when his son stays with his parents, and they do. Hormones are kept in check, they text, and they continue their responsible lives. Nadia works hard at all her school work and her job, Ty keeps on single dadding…. From a real life mom’s perspective, I’m emphatically in agreement with this strategy. It’s all just wonderfully responsible.

But then, it also feels pretty extreme – they live directly above/below one another, and it seems to me that you could probably find some time for a little sneaky hallway snogging and such since his son probably goes to bed at 8pm. Just saying. Hormones n’at.

Ty is adamant that he does not want to become involved with a woman until his son is grown and raised. Because: Ty has Emotional Attachment Issues. His baby mama took off like a thief in the night, and now he’s convinced that any woman will eventually leave. He needed a character flaw, and this one was acceptable to me. Nadia also accepts it, even though it stings, because she’s a pretty nice girl with above average maturity.

Spoiler: They fall in love, drama ensues.

One of the great things about this book was that the secondary characters were fleshed out with their own story lines. I felt like I was reading about an actual set of roommates, not just one girl with roommates who flit around when needed and do things to move the central character’s plot along. The next book features Lauren, Nadia’s best friend, and Rob, Nadia’s Brother, so some of this was obviously setting us up for the next book, but it worked really well, without feeling like an advertisement.

And there’s definitely some of bananas and cream in this one, lest you think it sounds a bit too Book-like. It’s not erotica, but the romantic tension is fabulous, and they don’t rush it. Not romance novel fantasy sex with epic organs and endless O’s, but more like the kind of great-chemistry-perfect-fit-real-life sex that actual people have (which is hotter, right?). There was a great mention of shower sex, and how it challenges your dexterity.

Then we took a final bedtime shower and managed tricky shower sex. He’d been right not to start with it, because it took some doing, and once he almost fell over.

I’ve always marveled about romance novels because they’re always doing it in the shower. Shower sex rarely works out as well as you think it will in my vast experience, just saying. People are slipping around, the water makes for weird lubrication…. (Also, hot tubs.)

It was really hard to give this one a cheeky review because it was all very realistic, relatable, reasonable, and responsible. I adored it, but it’s not a funny book. It’s a well written story about two characters that seem entirely human, with an actual, conceivable plot. I give it an A-.

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