Dirty Past, by Emma Hart

emma hart

Grade: B

Doing it at: 43%

Catnip: I’m With the Band; Tattoos; Holding Out for a Hero; Dirty B; Dangerous Stalker; Reformed Bad Boy; Sexual Healing; Bassists

Shame Scale: Low shame, like most of what we read now that we’re openly blogging about our romance addiction.

Fantasy Cast:  Jared Leto (ala 30 Seconds to Mars); Katie Cassidy

Book Description:

Walking out on my wedding wasn’t my best idea.

Neither was throwing my cell in the lake and taking a job as PA for Dirty B, America’s favorite rock band, complete with every teen girl’s dream man, the eldest of the Burke brothers.

Tate Burke is pure sex. Women actually throw their panties at him during shows. And Ella Dawson is the lucky little thing that gets to escort their fangirling butts out when he’s done with them.

Yay.

He’s a cocky son of a bitch, but there’s more to him than meets the eye. Every now and then Ella gets a rare glimpse of the Tate behind the “bad boy” act, and it attracts her in the most annoying way. The most annoying, heart-thumping, panty-wetting way.

When her abusive ex turns up at the hotel room Ella and Tate are sharing, raging mad, she knows she’ll need more than just a little protection. Tate sees red, and Ella can’t help but lean on him, despite his bad-boy ways.

And now? Now, he’s in a whole lot of trouble.


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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.

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Be With Me, by J. Lynn

Be with me

Grade: B+

Doing it At: 67%

Catnip: Brother’s Best Friend; Holding Out For A Hero; Dark Secrets; Horses; Ballerina; Road Head; Dangerous Criminal Villain; One Waffle Too Many

Shame Scale: The cover looks like it could be YA, which is less shameful than romance in our current social climate, so low shame there. The writing is good, there’s an actual plot, and the sex doesn’t use too many awful euphemisms. HOWEVER, I read this on the bus with the print very large and I was actually blushing. So Medium Shame.

Fantasy Casting: Theo James and Amanda Schull (because when I think ballerinas, I think Center Stage)

Book Description: 

“Do Teresa and Jase have a real shot at getting together or will life get in the way?

Teresa Hamilton is having a rough year—she’s in love with her big brother’s best friend, but he hasn’t spoken to her since they shared a truly amazing, mind-blowing, life-changing kiss. Then she got out of a terrible relationship. Now an injury is threatening to end her dance career for good. It’s time for plan B: college. And maybe she’ll have a chance to convince Jase that what they have together is real.

Jase Winstead has a huge secret that he’s not telling anyone—especially not his best friend’s incredibly beautiful sister. Even though he and Teresa shared the hottest kiss of his life, he knows that his responsibilities must take priority. He certainly doesn’t have time for a relationship. But it doesn’t help that all he can think about is kissing the one girl who could ruin everything for him.

As they’re thrown together more and more, Jase and Teresa can’t keep denying their feelings for each other. But a familiar danger looms and tragedy strikes. As the campus recovers, the star-crossed couple must decide what they’re willing to risk to be together and what they’re willing to lose if they’re not. . . .”


A few weeks ago Mary gave me a must-read list of New Adult titles, because while I have read A LOT of historicals, I am woefully behind in this genre. The book before this one in the Wait For You Saga was on the list, I’d already read the book after this one, and for some reason I couldn’t find Wait For You in the Kindle library (it was there, I’m just special sometimes) so I went with Be With Me. And guys, I am super glad I did.

The book opens with Tess and her brother, Cam, driving to the Jase’s parent’s farm to deliver him a sweet tea. I thought it was weird that he’d drive way out into the cut just to deliver his buddy a tea, but whatever it introduces us to shirtless sweaty Jase playing with his adorable five-year old brother so its A-OK. A year before Jase kissed Tess in a serious way and he has been ignoring her ever since; this was easy before because Tess is a ballerina and was supposed to be at the Joffrey School of Ballet on a full scholarship before a bad jump injured her knee and put her life plans on hold. Now she is in the same college as her brother and Jase, studying to be a teacher, and waiting to get the OK to dance again. She and Jase ignoring each other is no longer an option.

Tess and Jase end up in Music Appreciation Class together. He sits next to her, makes the I’m sorry let’s be friends speech, and starts driving her across campus after class to preserve her poor sad knee. He also starts bringing her very fancy cupcakes, which is courting behavior if I’ve ever seen it- there’s definitely a verse in Froggy Went-A-Courting about baked goods. Tess tries very hard to convince herself that they can be just friends, like Jase keeps saying he wants. After all this is just a pit stop for her until she can start dancing again and flee the dorms where she lives with a room-mate who has a not-very-nice boyfriend. It’s easy for Tess to realize what’s going on with her room-mate Debbie and her douche canoe boyfriend, Erik, because as a teenager Tess was also in an abusive relationship. She wants to speak up to Debbie but can never seem to find the right time, or the courage to do so. Tess still feels ashamed of what happened years ago and chastises herself for staying with her abusive ex as long as she did. Despite her history of abuse, Tess is not some shrinking violet. She isn’t scared of physical contact, she isn’t shy around all men or bad in social situations. She is smart and tough and deals well with the many many things that get thrown at her in this story. Like seriously, all the conflict- the loss of her dancing career, a vicious physical attack, Jase being unable to make up her damn mind about their relationship.

When Jase finally starts giving in to his feeling of lust for Tess it is with so much waffling, I know the waffling is common in romance novels but it was maybe one waffle too many in this book for my taste. Major points added for what might be the first instance of road-head that I have encountered in my shame reading. It is initiated by a tipsy Tess, and then quickly reciprocated when Jase pulls the car over on a deserted country road and drops to his knees in the dirt. Actual sex doesn’t happen until 67%, first Jase has to reveal his deep dark secret (which you will probably easily guess by 5% in the book), they have to tell her brother, and something really bad has to happen to her roommate. The plot and the writing of Be With Me made me OK with waiting. There’s an extended prologue, which was sweet, but also felt kind of extra long to me since I was staying up well past my bedtime to finish.

J Lynn is a good writer, she writes books that are hard to put down and suck me right in– please check out her teen alien romance series written under her real name, Jennifer Armentrout, starting with Obsidian.  I will definitely be reading the rest of the books in this story, (but not right away because next on tap I have a book where the cover model looks like a sociopath and the chapter titles made me LOL on the bus). The series ties in the characters and the plot elements and does not spend a lot of time trying to explain what happened in previous books. If you don’t like not knowing everything you might want to read these in order. But you should definitely read Be With Me.

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