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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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

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.

Check it out on Amazon: