Mystery Man, by Kristen Ashley

Mystery Man

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 44%

Catnip: Alpha Hero, Funny Heroine, Motorcycles, Shitty Siblings, Smoking Hot Ex-Military Guy, Kidnapping

Shame Scale: Low shame. This one has a great heroine with a backbone and a sense of humor, and a lot of solid plot.

Fantasy Cast:  Édgar Ramírez, Reese Witherspoon

Book Description:

Night time is the right time…

Gwendolyn Kidd has met the man of her dreams. He’s hot, he’s sexy, and what started as a no-names-exchanged night of passion has blossomed into a year and a half-long pleasure fest. Sure, it’s a little strange that he only appears in her bed at night, but Gwen is so sure he’s the one, she just can’t turn him away… 

Hawk Delgado knows more about Gwen than she could ever imagine. She’s gorgeous, headstrong, and skittish about relationships. But Hawk is facing his own demons, demons that keep him from connecting with anyone. Yet when Gwen is drawn into Denver’s lethal underground scene, Hawk’s protective nature comes out full force. The problem is, when Gwen gets a dose of Hawk’s Alpha attitude in the daylight, she’s not so sure he’s the one anymore….


This was my first Kristen Ashley book, I’d heard great things about her, but never got around to reading anything because her books were all always checked out of the library. I know, it’s a terrible excuse. But I’ve had Mystery Man on my wish list for over a year, and when C got a bajillion Amazon gift cards this summer, she went on a book buying spree and I put in a request for this one.

Because a mystery lover who sneaks into my room in the middle of the night and fucks me back to sleep is right up there on my fantasy list, along with having a 23 year old Dominican boyfriend, and being in the middle of a Tom Hardy/Matt Bomer sandwich.

Continue reading

Stay, by Emily Goodwin

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Grade: C+

Doing it at: 74%

Catnip: Kidnapping, Accidental Pregnancy, Secret Love

Shame Scale:  I felt really awful reading this.

Fantasy Cast: I can’t fantasy cast this book. I wouldn’t want to think of anyone in the same position as the characters.

Book Description:

**Trigger Warning: This book is dark and is not suitable for readers easily offended by realistic tellings of human trafficking, those that do not wish to read about hard topics, or readers under the age of 18. If you want a feel-good, sexy read, this is NOT the book for you. Stay does not fit neatly into one genre. It’s part erotica, part dark romance, and part suspense thriller. It is a dark, gritty, and harrowing tale about finding love in the darkest of places. Read at your own risk. **

I felt like I was walking to the end of a plank precariously hanging over shark-infested water. When I jumped, sharp teeth would rip into me and the cold water would steal my breath away. The monsters would take everything from me, leaving me shivering and naked in the water. The only difference was that tonight I would be pulled from the icy darkness and forced to do it again. There would be no release from death, only pain.”

Home after her first year of college, Adeline Miller is looking forward to a stress free summer filled with reading, working on her blog, and spending time with friends. But all that changes in an instant when she is witness to something terrible, something she wasn’t supposed to see.

Beaten, drugged, kidnapped.

Adeline Miller is ripped from her innocent and carefree life and thrust into darkness, into a world full of pain and horror. As a sex slave, she is forced to do horrible things, and have horrible things done to her. One of her captors has a past as dark as the world she is now living in. Will getting close to him mean freedom? Or will he pull her deeper into the shadows?

*Stay is a bit of a departure from the fluffy stuff we normally read on Mybookshame, and while it wasn’t our kink, we know it might be your kink. The ladies who read and blog here firmly believe in “I Like what I Like!” as a rallying cry. 

This book was a tough read. And I don’t mean it was tough to read like Grey has been for many. The plot deals with human trafficking, a very real and very terrifying thing. Our lead character, Adeline, has an ideal life. She’s only 19. She’s an avid reader and blogger (much like some other girls we know). She lives at home with her parents and little sister. Then one day she decides to attend a Pride Parade with a couple of friends, sees something in an alley that she shouldn’t have, and just like that, is kidnapped. Poof.

The two men that kidnap her are Zane and Jackson. She is thrown in a car trunk, driven to an unknown location, then locked in a closet located in a basement with no food or water. She is brutally hit over and over again along the way. After she’s been in the closet for a while, she hears voices. They belong to two other girls. Although they are also in the basement, locked up, they ignore her pleas for help.

Eventually she is dragged upstairs to meet Nate, the brains of the operation. He laments on the fact that Zane smacked her around too hard and that she’ll need time to heal. This is when the panic Adeline is feeling kicks into high gear. Heal for what exactly? She makes an escape attempt, and is easily subdued by Zane, who is already showing his sadistic side. He drags her back down in to the basement, tries to rape her and is stopped by a quick knee to the stomach. At this point in the book I was questioning my reading choice here. The writing itself is good, but the subject matter is difficult to say the least.

Before meeting her basement roommates, she snoops around and discovers only sleazy clothes in the dressers and essentially nothing else. This is just further evidence to back up what she already fears. Then she meets Lily, Phoebe and Rochelle and there is no more guesswork involved. They divulge all the details of their lives, and now hers, while she listens in horror. The only escape is death, and that almost seems better.

Adeline is put to work, and her first “job” is described in horrific detail. Thankfully, it is only the first one that’s detailed. From this point on, Adeline is raped repeatedly by various men and tossed back in the basement after. Jackson is the one in charge of feeding the girls and doing their laundry, as well as several tasks upstairs in the pristine farmhouse. Adeline begins to notice small things about Jackson that clue her in that he may be suffering the same fate. He frequently is bruised and beaten, and is very timid around Zane and Nate. My brain started screaming “Stockholm Syndrome” but it is revealed that he is also owned by Nate.

It’s easy to see the plot being driven by Adeline’s unfaltering faith in humanity and her need to escape. Her and Jackson end up sharing more than just slavery in the end. But honestly, this book was brutal. The subject matter is heavy and dark. PEOPLE are sold and traded. It’s stomach-turning. I would not recommend this unless you are prepared. There is a mostly happy ending, and Adeline is a vigilant hero who is desperate to escape and see her family again. There is a companion novel told through Jackson’s POV, but I’m not sure I want to venture any further into this genre.

Size Matters, by Stephanie Haefner

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Grade: C-

Doing it at: 70%

Catnip: Hot Cops; Single Dad; Kidnapping; Strong Female Lead; Friends to Lovers; Wall Sex

Shame Scale:  Low. I wouldn’t want to read this on a city bus in paperback form because of the title, but the content itself isn’t too shamey.

Fantasy Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal and Elizabeth Banks

Book Description:

In this saucy, sexy, laugh-out-loud romp, a lingerie shop owner and single mom falls for the hunky cop who just happens to holster his own perfectly sized weapon.

Bryn, co-owner of Classy ‘n’ Sassy Lingerie shop with her best friend Mia, is ready to get back out in the dating world after losing her husband to the war overseas. Diving into bad first dates, online set-ups, and guys who just can’t get the message, Bryn can’t stop thinking about Eli, the sexy neighborhood cop who’s also a great dad. But between Bryn’s dead husband and Eli’s messy divorce, will these two have what it takes to overcome their baggage and fan the flames between them?

Size Matters was given to us as an Advanced Reader’s Copy.  It’s due to be released on June 1st…so if you have it on pre-order, you may want to skip this review, because thar be spoilers. From the get-go it reads like a romantic comedy, and makes you feel like, as a reader, you’re really just snooping in a friend’s diary. Immediately, we are introduced to Eli and Bryn. Naked. Well, almost naked. Fooling around and trying to get to the good stuff. But they both have kids. And jobs and mothers and dead husbands and ex-wives and all the stuff that interrupts sexy times. So, they settle for cuddles and move on.

Bryn owns a lingerie shop that also specializes in sex toys. So she’s surrounded by and is asked to discuss sex all day. Eli is a cop with an awful, confidence destroying ex-wife. He spends his days thinking about Bryn. With both of them being single parents working to figure out the whole dating thing, every encounter seems to end in disaster. Once, Bryn’s mom calls. Another, one of the kids wakes up. Every married-with-kids couple has experienced these interruptions, I’m sure. But Eli also has some major mood killing hang-ups about his size, completely because of his horrible ex Kristen. And Bryn finds the lack of confidence to be kind of a big deal breaker. Eli, despite being sexy and funny and a good person all around, has this giant (or small) thing that he focuses on and Bryn finds it annoying. She wants a guy that knows who he is and knows how to work it, small or not. Eli’s insecurities make it extra awkward.

So, they break up. Or at least stop seeing each romantically. Bryn tries online dating. She hits on her dead husband’s friend.  Bryn’s dear friend/coworker tries to set her up with her boyfriend’s friend, Troy.  And in the meantime, she starts throwing together a huge event for her shop, complete with models and an 80’s theme. The online dating starts off with just IMs and casual flirting. The first date with Troy goes reasonably well. Despite everything looking up, Bryn can’t get Eli out of her head. I suppose it doesn’t help that all his kids and all her kids go to school together and that her son has a crush on his daughter (because they’re pre-teens, it leads to a couple uncomfortable adolescent discussions about appropriate times to masturbate.)  Eli has also started dating, but his attempts are not going as smoothly. His new woman is aggravating and demanding and I wanted to punch her. Thank whatever they break up quick.

On Bryn’s second date with Troy, things are heating up. And just as they are speeding away from the restaurant in order to get vertical, Troy is pulled over. By Eli. And because he’s a cop, he does everything in his power to make the date fizzle out. One more strike out for Bryn. This poor girl is never getting laid. And the seemingly cute guy that she’s been chatting up online has turned stalker on her. Time to delete her profile. And it’s at this point in the story that Troy becomes a giant douchebag about her kids. You know, because a single widow has plenty of ways to get rid of her three small children at the drop of a hat. Of course. He even laughs at her son. During his birthday party. And then tries to feel her up. During her child’s birthday party. He’s a meathead that no one really likes, but Bryn seems to see something in him (I think she just wants to get laid).

Following the disaster that was a 10-year-old’s bday party, Eli finally hashes it out with his ex to find out why she thinks he’s such an awful person. She doesn’t, apparently. She’s just a bitch. And Bryn is deflecting stalker internet boy as well as explaining to meathead Troy that her children dictate when and if she’s able to go out. Again. Jesus, this guy can’t seem to get it. I want to smack him.

Finally Eli works up his nerve to just go after Bryn. This took forever. Both of them are pining for each other through the entire book. (JUST FRICKING DO IT ALREADY) He shows up at her shop, in uniform (hot), and just goes for it. He doesn’t say anything (hot), just stalks across her office, grabs her up and bangs her against the door. And we get a chance to find out what all the fuss downstairs is about. Small? I think that’s what he was worried about. Bryn describes it as beer can sized. Those are the words used. Beer can. Us Shame Girls actually spent a little time (a lot. stop judging) Googling what that might look like. Google is disappointing. Luckily, we have active imaginations and too much free time.

After Eli’s wall bang and declaration of love, Bryn has to break it off with Troy. He doesn’t make this easy. (I would have dumped him after date one, but I’m not as desperate as Bryn.) Troy stops over in the middle of the night hammered and thinking he’s getting some action. Then Eli shows up after his shift. With some quick thinking, and a lot of regret, she convinces Eli to come another night and lets drunk Troy sleep it off in the living room.

The weekend of the lingerie’s shop event comes, and Bryn and her coworkers are ready to model the store’s new lingerie line. What follows is action, some near naked strutting around, kidnapping, action, drunk guys, a little more action and a savior. And a giant Brady Bunch Happily Ever After. This book was okay. Not great. I read it, but I found it to be a little vanilla and bland compared to the other books that Mary and Cleone have forced on me (and I haven’t even gotten to the really dirty ones yet). And I was sad I didn’t figure out the mystery of the penis until almost the end. But Haefner is an established author with several other books and I know her fans will appreciate this one.

Drunk at the Movies: Cleveland Abduction, on Lifetime

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We’ve had the Cleveland Abduction on our calendars for months. As our awesome friend Rachel said, it’s the “Kentucky Derby of Lifetime Movies.” Featuring Raymond Cruz Tuco from Breaking Bad, as Ariel Castro, and Taryn Manning Pennsyltucky from Orange is the New Black, as Michelle Knight, (and a few other people we didn’t recognize) this was the Michelle Knight version of the kidnappings. Please forgive any unsympathetic tones in our review, this does not in any way reflect our thoughts on kidnapping. We are not in any way unsympathetic to the women who were victims of this monstrous crime, rather – we’re just reviewing this horribly exploitative trashy movie, from the network that doesn’t know the meaning of the words “too soon.” This movie was super fun to review, because it was on TV and we could be as loud as we wanted.

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The movie starts with Pennsyltucky (Knight), a doting mother with a hard life, losing her son to the foster system. She meets Tuco (Castro) at a store, where she’s in a hurry to get to an important child custody hearing, and he lures Pennsyltucky by offering to give her a ride. He suggests they swing by his house first so they can pick up a puppy for her son, and after he promises that he can still get there on time, she agrees. I hope that this part was a dramatization and not what happened in real life, because that’s like the first thing they teach you about not getting kidnapped. Don’t get into anyone’s car, even if they offer you candy or puppies.

Paperback Purist: Is he luring her with PUPPIES? Does that really work? I guess so.

Cleone: Why are you going in there? That girl is real dumb. You are so dumb.

Mary: Why are there children yelling? Oh, that’s our children.

M: Why did they have to make him ethnic?

C: Because he was. He was Hispanic in real life. God made him that way.

Things go downhill pretty quickly when Pennsyltucky realizes there is no dog. Castro grabs her and wraps her up in an orange extension cord. He gets exceptionally creepy and then hooks the cord to a rope and raises her up to the ceiling in a perfectly executed, very complex harness. THIS was the most impressive part of the movie IMO. He seemingly threw some random loops of cord around her, puts it on a hook, and abracadabra, she’s in this crazy Kinbaku bondage harness. Was Castro actually a Japanese knot-tying fetishist, or was this just part of TV magic?

C: Is he jerking it on her? Now he’s going to put it on her. Like a glaze. Like a glazed donut.

PP: Oh wow, that’s a good hog tie. He really knows his knots.

M: I thought that was just a random tangle of rope. Wow, that’s impressive.

Tuco leaves Pennsyltucky suspended from the ceiling in her extension cord harness to go do stuff. Run errands and whatnot. She pees herself. He comes back after the commercial break (aka a long time) and tries to make her eat an egg McMuffin.

M: Tuco is not looking good. He’s put some weight on. That poor girl! She’s wearing wet jeans.

PP: Wet jeans are the worst.

C: They’re only sexy when Mal climbs into the bathtub with you.

He drags Pennsyltucky to the basement and R’s her, then ties her to a post, sticks a dirty washcloth in her mouth and puts a motorcycle helmet on her? It’s pretty awful. Tuco’s mom shows up with food and Pennsyltucky tries to draw attention to herself. She gets her hands free. I don’t know what the point of her getting her hands free was, because when he comes back downstairs she puts her hands back around the pole and never does any of the things you’d do with free hands. Tuco tries to make her eat again. It’s some kind of lo mein that his mom made? Then he has a FLAMENCO BAND PRACTICE? Pennsyltucky bangs around in the basement.

C: “What’s that percussion coming from your basement?”

PP: Wait what is he saying? Did we just miss something important? Stockholm syndrome what?

M: How has she not pooped yet?

At some point, after Tuco once again R’s her, he gets cuddly and cries about being bad. Pennsyltucky tries to talk him into letting her go, and he suddenly takes on a weird Oklahoma accent and carries her upstairs to a bed with no sheets, and chains her up. He lets her know that he’s not stupid and did she think he would just let her go? Ha ha, never! IMO, the bed is a slight improvement over the basement at least? Maybe?

M: Did he just say TUCO???

PP: To. Go.

C: All of these lifetime commercials look fantastic. Stockholm Pennsylvania????

Back from commercial, it’s Christmas. Pennsyltucky is not looking good. She’s wearing chains as underpants. Santa Tuco gives her a TV set, but forbids her from watching any TV shows with African Americans. I guess kidnapping rapist wasn’t unsympathetic enough, so they decided to make him racist as well.

C: So no Family Ties? No Urkel???

Time passes, they show Pennsyltucky and Tuco developing some sort of captor/captive relationship. A familiarity of sorts.

PP: Oh. They’re writing songs together. For his flamenco band. While she wears a bra and a chain.

M: I’m getting bored with this. It’s not very engaging for a kidnapping. We need the other women soon.

He has his family over while Pennsyltucky sits upstairs chained to a bed. She bangs the bed frame on the wall and Tuco turns up the music. This won’t end well.

C: She must be so bored. I feel so bad for her. He’s not even bringing her books! He could at least bring her a kindle. She gets toothpaste though.

(Tuco comes in with a cardboard box)

PP: Is he bringing her a puppy? Oh my god it is a puppy!

C: Wouldn’t you be excited about it if you had nothing to love? She’d better make it crap in the box.

M: Oh my god he’s a school bus driver! Oh he just raped her. Off to work now to pick up your children!

Tuco leaves her chains unlocked accidentally, and Pennsyltuckly tries to escape. She takes the dog with her. WHY IS SHE TAKING THE DOG? Obviously  it’s a trap to see if he can trust her, and he catches her. He’s holds the puppy and makes a speech, and the whole time you know he’s about to kill the dog. He does.

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PP: She’s really thin.

M: She’s not that thin though, not like you’d expect someone starving to look.

C: Well he feeds her and she doesn’t get any exercise. She’s like veal.

Tuco arrives with Amanda Berry. He tells the girls they can’t talk to each other, then he R’s Amanda with the door open. It’s all really horrible. Afterwards, Pennsyltucky tries to convince Amanda that there’s hope now that there are two of them. They need to plot! But Amanda is all, I was just kidnapped and raped, I’m still too upset to think about escaping, please don’t talk to me, I’d rather not wrap up this horrible day with a beating.

PP: Oh look, now she has a friend! (Amanda Berry)

C: I think I’d be selfish. I’d be like, “Oh stay! It’s nice here. I’m so bored!”

Pennsyltucky is obviously pregnant. Tuco comes in and asks her a very rhetorical, “Why are you getting fat in only one spot?” Even though he’s pretty fat in one spot, ahem. He beats her with a hand weight and forces her to miscarry, and it’s horrible. This movie is really tough to watch.

Commercial break. We are reminded that Fifty Shades is now out on video, and we should re-watch it and give it the review it deserves.

Oh no! Gina shows up. Tuco brings in Pennsyltuckly to cut her hair. Gina is all, “WTF there are THREE of us? Oh shit, I’m fucked.” Pennsyltuckly, ever the optimist is like, “Hey, now there’s three of us! We have to be able to get out of here now!” Tuco is getting progressively crazier, and he’s like, “Aww, my whole family is together at last.” Tuco shows up to the candlelight vigil for Gina, and comforts her mom. Then he makes sure Gina watches it on the news so she understands how hopeless it is. It’s the saddest thing ever.

PP: “Look at the look on your mom’s face?” Oh god he’s the worst!

M: I will say this though. The rape scenes are very tasteful for lifetime.

Lots of time passes, Gina and Pennsyltucky bond. Pennsyltucky has dance parties with her to keep Gina’s spirits up.  Amanda berry’s mom dies.

The chains come off, they’re all at the table having family dinner. Tuco has an important announcement to make: Amanda Berry is pregnant, they’re going to have a baby! Pennsyltucky looks like she swallowed nails, because obviously Tuco has been making her miscarry every time she gets pregnant.  Fast forward, Amanda is in labor. Tuco brings in a plastic kiddie pool for Amanda to give birth in, and puts on flamenco music so the neighbors can’t hear her screaming.

C: There’s no water in that pool. It’s a dry birth.

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Pennsyltucky sees the new baby and she’s sad. She misses her son, and they show her putting up numbers on the wall for each of her son’s birthdays. She has missed a lot of them. This movie is super sad. There’s a scene where Tuco feeds real food to Amanda berry and her daughter, and literally garbage to Pennsyltucky. Things are getting bad for Tuco. He has no money and can’t support this family of five.

Finally: Tuco leaves the door unlocked. The little girl tells her mom. She signals to the neighbors and tells them she is Amanda Berry. They’re like, “You can’t be Amanda, Amanda is dead!”  I hope that was really what that neighbor woman said, and that we’re getting a direct quote. Amanda and her daughter are rescued. Meanwhile, Pennsyltucky and Gina hide from the police. Pennsyltucky is remembering the “Incident with the Puppy,” and won’t fall for that one again! Finally, they find Pennsyltucky.

Gina: “I’m Gina.”

Shocked police woman: “OH MY LORD!”

Cleone: You’re the only one we’re actually looking for!

The home styling they’ve been doing is not doing Pennsyltucky any favors, she finally leaves the house and her hair is really bad.

C: Whatever. She could still try. She could plop it. She could ask for a tee shirt and good conditioner to maintain it.

M: Pennsyltucky is a terrible actress.

C: She’s hill trash. Like in Heaven!

M: It’s daddy Pope! Command!

Jake Serrano, FBI aka Joe Morton Rowan Pope (Command of B613) from Scandal, takes charge of the case. He brings Pennsyltucky some more stuffed animals that people have sent her.

Pennsyltucky: “I swear we need to give some of this away!”

M: She’s really making herself out to be a saint.

Pennsyltucky: “Joey would love this.”

PP: No he wouldn’t. he’s a teenager.

C: “Sorry hon, your son is a grownup now. He’s lost in the system.” He’s probably in juvie. Not that we’re stereotyping or anything.

Daddy Pope has brought her some food from Steak and Shake and a milkshake from DQ – why he made two stops and didn’t just bring her a milkshake from Steak and Shake is a mystery, because their milkshakes are really good. Pennsyltucky sees the napkin that Daddy Pope has, and has a PTSD freakout, remembering the napkins that Tuco used to stick in her mouth at the beginning of it all. We kind of lost interest at this point. Something something. Daddy Pope brings her to a bedroom.

C: Oh are they going to do it now?

M: REALLY?

C: Romance books have ruined me!

We’re getting close to the end. Gina cuts ties with Michelle, which is sad for Michelle, but kind of understandable. I don’t know if I’d want to hang out with my kidnapping bff and be reminded of everything either. Joey’s foster parents won’t let him see Pennsyltucky. They don’t think it would be in his best interest for there to be any contact with his mom. It’s pretty shitty of them to not even allow her a visit…

M: Michelle’s looking good. She got her hair did.

C: She has mom hair, like Kate Gosselin.

Finally, there’s a trial. Tuco went bald really quickly. Why’s he wearing a bald cap??? His beard looks like it has milk spilled down it. Then there’s a voice over, Pennsyltucky is using her experience to help people around the WORLD, by passing out balloons and other helpful things. There’s no updates on the other girls. We’ll obviously just have to read their book.

PP: I can’t even listen to her voice any more. She’s got a mouth full of marbles.

C: Now she’s got all those new teeth. The prison system worked for her. (wrong show)

Alpha, by Jasinda Wilder

Alpha

Grade: D+

Doing it at: 65%

Catnip: Well-intentioned Stalkers; Romantic Ownership; Kidnapping; Deep Dark Secrets; Heroines Who React To Creepy Shit Like Literally No One Ever Would; Light Bondage; Butt Stuff; Squirting

Shame Scale: High shame. Cringeworthy dialog, creepy hero. Reading this book definitely hurt my feminist street cred.

Fantasy Casting: Alexander Skarsgard and some blonde

Book Description: 

“The first time it happened, it seemed like an impossible miracle. Bills were piling up, adding up to more money than I could ever make. Mom’s hospital bills. My baby brother’s tuition. My tuition. Rent. Electricity. All of it on my shoulders. And I had just lost my job. There was no hope, no money in my account, no work to be found. And then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I found an envelope in the mail. No return address. My name on the front, my address. Inside was a check, made out to me, in the amount of ten thousand dollars. Enough to pay the bills and leave me some left over to live on until I found a job. Enough to let me focus on classes. There was no name on the check, just “VRI Inc.,” and a post office box address for somewhere in the city. No hint of identity or reason for the check or anything. No mention of repayment, interest, nothing…except a single word, on the notes line: “You.” Just those three letters. 

If you receive a mysterious check, for enough money to erase all your worries, would you cash it? 

I did. 

The next month, I received another check, again from VRI Incorporated. It too contained a single word: “belong.” 

A third check, the next month. This time, two words. Four letters. “To me.” 

The checks kept coming. The notes stopped. Ten thousand dollars, every month. A girl gets used to that, real quick. It let me pay the bills without going into debt. Let me keep my baby brother in school and Mom’s hospice care paid for. How do you turn down what seems like free money, when you’re desperate? You don’t. I didn’t. 

And then, after a year, there was a knock on my door. A sleek black limousine sat on the curb in front of my house. A driver stood in front of me, and he spoke six words: “It’s time to pay your debt.” 

Would you have gotten in?

I did. 

It turns out $120,000 doesn’t come free.”

First page:

“Have a seat, Kyrie”

He said it wrong, as always, pronouncing it Kye-ree.

“My name is Keer-ee,” I couldn’t help correcting him for what must have been the eighteen-thousandth time.

When your book immediately makes me google a Mister Mister song, we’re not off to the best start.

Now then. Jasinda Wilder is a solid B- author in my book. She’s always one to be counted on for a ridiculous plot and solid Alpha men. Her books never knock my socks off, but I find them enjoyable enough. This book tho. The concept was fun, but she didn’t sell the hero well enough to overcome the creepiness. And in terms of consent, I felt like a lot of the book was in a pretty big grey area I wasn’t able to get past.

Kyrie is a young college girl, financially responsible for her mentally ill mother and college-student brother; I never fully understood why her adult brother could not contribute at all, but so it goes in these things. When the book opens, she’s struggling to make ends meet and has just lost a crappy job with a creepy boss. She’s months behind on all of her bills and about to be evicted. She finds a $10,000 check in her mailbox, and cashes it.

I’d probably do the same.

She keeps getting the checks each month, and keeps cashing them. She does not at any point use any of the $120,000 she receives to try to figure out who is sending her this money, by hiring a detective, or even just looking up the company issuing the check with  something like, I don’t know… GOOGLE? Bing maybe? (Is Bing It still a thing?) There is a brief nod to “Oh I can’t read this messy signature,” but she’s not curious enough to use Level I Internet Stalking Skills to look into it. If you can suspend your disbelief for this, then you might enjoy this book.

A year later, a valet shows up and informs her that the debt is being collected, the payment is herself.

Kyrie protests mildly, is told that the choice is to pay back the money or come along, and as that is not really a choice (the money is pretty much gone), she packs a bag and gets in the limo. The valet takes her to NYC, blindfolds her, and delivers her to his employer, Roth. The excuse is that he’s super private, but really, it just felt like a plot device. Anyone with Google could probably have figured out where a years worth of checks were coming from. Anyways, he assures her that he’s not going to force her to have “penetrative” sex with him, that is, until she begs him. He knows almost everything about her because he has had someone following her (and killing would-be attackers lolololol) for several years, and this is insanely creepy but she accepts it pretty easily. Roth then keeps Kyrie blindfolded for about half of the book, and since it’s a romance, her attraction to Roth becomes all-consuming till she is of course, begging him for the D.

And right from the start, there is So. Much. Anal finger-banging. And they don’t bother with any euphemisms. It’s just a straight-up asshole, with a finger in it. No digits, no puckered knot. So, points for bluntness I guess? Here is our hero discussing Kyrie’s reluctance to become emotionally involved.

“I put my finger in your asshole, Kyrie. You don’t get more vulnerable than that. You’re telling me you’d let me do that to you, but you wouldn’t let me make love to you? You’re telling me you don’t want that?”

“I can finger your butt but we can’t MAKE LOVE?”

(Also, make love: I know it’s just a phrase, and every single book uses it, but it’s… kinda cringe-y. Do real people actually say that, and not while goofing around and using silly romance voice? But I digress.)

With most standard romances, they start out with some foreplay, round out the bases, then bring in the butt stuff, but in this one there is so much F in the B before they ever get close to the P in the V, hell, before the blindfold even comes off. It actually felt kind of strange, because they were sticking things up their butts constantly, but never got around to anal sex. Seriously, a book with hilarious lines like this, doesn’t actually have any anal:

“Jesus, Valentine, I haven’t even had coffee yet.” “You don’t need coffee, babe. You just need to take this vibrator up your ass for me.”

And there was this gem, possibly the least appealing line in erotica history:

“His cock was tall and painfully hard, wet with my grool, bobbing as he moved.”

GROOL. (“Please sir, I want some more”) Grool wins the gold medal in the Gross Words For Bodily Fluids Olympics. Sorry Santorum, better luck next time.

All joking about anal fingering aside, my big issue with the book was that it felt a bit rape-y. Roth basically tells her that her choice is to live with him and do whatever he says, or go home and pay him back the money and basically go broke and fail at everything and become a stripper and live a miserable life. That’s not really a choice… And when he pushes her sexually, she frequently says “No,” and then he pushes her to give in with a bunch of “Come on, you know you want it.”

“At every step, with every new thing he asked of me, I fought him. Said no at first, acted like I didn’t want what he intended. Yet I always gave in, always realized I did want it. I did want him.”

“Why have you waited? You said it yourself: You own me. so why not take what is yours?” I watched his eyes, his expression, as he thought about his answer. “Because you deserve better than that. I’ve had a lifetime of meaningless sex. So have you. I want more for you, and from you. I can take a thousand orgasms from you. I can kiss you and touch you and tear your clothes off you, and I don’t need and won’t ask for your permission. But for that? To bring this between us to the next level? I want you to give that to me of your own will. I want to own you completely.”

Cleone and I like our pushy men, but this was too much for me. A man who thinks of you as his property, doesn’t want other men sniffing around, and who would kill anything that harmed you is hot. A man who LITERALLY thinks he owns you and breaks down your psyche until you beg him to stop fingering your asshole without permission and just fuck you already is not.  Coupled with the spidey-sense and arousal smelling, I just wasn’t terribly impressed by this book. The idea was intriguing, but I don’t think she managed to pull it off well enough to overcome the inherent creepiness of the concept. And the dialog was embarrassing and cringeworthy. I’ll leave you with this:

“I traced my fingers over his pectoral muscles, across the ridged wonderland of his abs, and found his manhood. “You have the most amazing cock. For real.”

Text from Cleone: OMG are you reading John Mayer fan fiction???

Amazon

The Professional, by Kresley Cole

The Professional

Grade: A

Doing it at: 54% – but this book gets seriously hot starting around 15%

Catnip: Russian Mobsters; Mafia; Virgin; Overprotective men; He’s basically a criminal; BDSM; Sex Club; Kidnapping; Rags to Riches; “Your first and your last”; Russian Pillow Talk; International Romance; Dick-Glamoured; #TeamAnal; Guffaw

Shame Scale: This is a WONDERFUL shame read. The cover is mildly shameful, the book is all the shame. The plot is absurd, and filled with sex. The swoon-worthy hero is literally a killer who wants to own the heroine. And yet it’s genuinely funny, and pretty hot.

Fantasy Casting: Jason Momoa and Emma Stone

Book Description:

“He makes the rules…

Mafiya enforcer Aleksei “The Siberian” Sevastyan’s loyalty to his boss knows no bounds, until he meets the boss’s long-lost daughter, a curvy, feisty redhead who haunts his mind and heats his blood like no other. Ordered to protect her, Aleksei will do anything to possess her as well—on his own wicked terms.

Rules are made to be broken…

Grad student Natalie Porter had barely recovered from her first sight of the dark and breathtaking Sevastyan before the professional enforcer whisks her away to Russia, thrusting her into a world of extreme wealth and wanton pleasures. Every day under his protection leads her deeper under his masterful spell.

Are you ready to play?

Yet all is not as it seems. To remove Natalie from an enemy’s reach, Sevastyan spirits her into hiding. From an opulent palace in Russia to the decadent playgrounds of the mega-wealthy in Paris, the two lovers will discover that even their darkest—and most forbidden—fantasies can come true…”


The Professional had the kind of plot one often finds in a good Shame Book: A ridiculous one involving kidnapping (to save her life!), the mafia, hit men, billionaires, international travel without a passport, high class BDSM sex clubs, a virgin, and tons of sex. I loved it. Kresley Cole managed to throw together all kinds of catnip and romance tropes and keep it fairly cohesive, and not too cliched. Also, our hero is constantly throwing out sexy phrases in Russian, and I learned that I find Russian pillow talk insanely hot.

Natalie is a poor, adopted college student who has been working two jobs to make enough money to search for her biological parents via DNA testing. Then one day a smoking hot Russian mafiya enforcer (because in Russia I guess it’s the mafiYa and not just the mafia) shows up and tells her she is the billionaire daughter of a big mafiya leader, and that she’s moving to Russia effective immediately because there’s a threat on her life. Natalie balks, as any smart modern woman would do when a strange man breaks into her house, watches her masturbate (aka “diddling the da, spelunking, dialing the pink telephone” lololol), and then tries to force her to move to Russia. So of course as they do in these kinds of books, Sevastyan kidnaps her, and puts her on a special plane to Russia where she apparently won’t need a passport. (Nope, sorry, I don’t believe that.) Natalie and Sevastyan find they have that instant inexplicable electric chemistry, which they explore on the plane with some 69’ing like one does. Sevastyan is shocked that she is a virgin, and vows that it won’t happen again, because she is not for him, he’s a bad guy and bla bla bla cliche.

They get to Russia, Natalie becomes Natalya – I love that name – and she meets her biological father who never knew she existed. He is a Mafiya don, but a kind one, who’s only doing it to protect his people, you guys. All he really wants to do is repair clocks. Her father and Sevastyan tell her that she’s going to have to stay at the compound till the threat on her life is eliminated, but that they hope she will consider moving there permanently and making Russia her new home. Natalya adjusts rather quickly and seems to love her new papa from the start. I don’t want to get any more into the plot because I’d just be getting spoiler-y, but it’s ridiculous, and fun, and blush inducing, and such a good shame-read.

I loved the romance between Natalie/Natalya and Sevastyan. He’s the brutish Russian killer alpha stereotype, but she is no blushing daisy – despite her virginal status. Sevastyan orders her around, and is overprotective and possessive like Cleone and I love (even though we know we shouldn’t), but Natalie actually manages to strike a good balance between giving it right back to him, and wilting when it would make for good sexy-time. And the sexy-time in this one is excellent. Well paced, descriptive but not cringe-inducing (no dripping, no loins, no fountains of love). And she loses her virginity in the shower, standing up. That pretty much never happens in these books, where virginity must be carefully and romantically claimed in a bed after copious “readying” oral.

My favorite character, however, was Jess, Natalie’s best friend, and I was terribly disappointed to learn that she is not the focus of the next book in the series, ‘The Master.’ She reminded me of my favorite friends, and had the best lines in the book by far — she refers to Natalie’s trip as a “gangster rumspringa,” and accuses Natalie of being “dick-glamoured.*” She had me guffawing at several points, for example:

“How the hell do you call Russia from Greece? It’s like trying to figure out real-fucking-tivity. And still, I gave it several shots. Of Ouzo. Seriously, you have no idea how much your situation is affecting me. I’ve been stress-eating my way across Greece.” I frowned. “You don’t stress-eat–” “Cock, Natalie. I was stress-eating cock. There, you made me say it, happy now?”

If anything, my big complaint was that there didn’t seem to be enough edge-of-my-seat conflict. The “danger” part of the plot wound down around the middle of the book, and the second half was pretty much all sex and relationship drama. Their big romantic challenge/conflict was that he didn’t share enough, and he was being too gentle with her. He refused to give her the anal she NEEDED, and she told him she might just have to go get it somewhere else. This was really hard for Sevastyan to overcome. Despite the absurdity of this entire book, it was really well written, and hilarious. I would have gone with an A-, but decided to bump it up to an A because I couldn’t stop laughing.

*Note: dick-glamouring is a real thing in Shame Books, and I’m definitely going to be using this phrase liberally from now on.

Check it out on Amazon: