Honor, by Jay Crownover

honor-jc

Grade: A

Doing it at: 49%

Catnip: He’s Basically a Criminal, Stripper with a Heart of Gold, Mafia, Tattoos, Strong Female Lead, Dual Narrative, Car Sex, Slow Burn, Sexual Healing, Regular Ol’Sex Club

Shame Scale: Low Shame, I’m pretty into the cover, and it really just takes way more to make us blush than it used to, we’re so jaded.

Fantasy Cast:  Zayn Malik-plus-ten-years (Don’t judge us) & Amber Heard

Book Description:

Don’t be fooled.

Don’t make excuses for me.

I am not a good man.

I’ve seen things no one should, done things no one should talk about. Honor and conscience have no place in my life. But I’ve fought and I’ve survived. I’ve had to.

The first time I saw her dancing on that seedy stage in that second rate club, I felt my heart pulse for the first time. Keelyn Foster was too young, too vibrant for this place, and I knew in an instant that I would make her mine. But first I had to climb my way to the top. I had to have something more to offer her.

I’m here now, money is no object and I have no equal. Except for her. She’s disappeared. But don’t worry, I will find her and claim her. She will be mine.

Like I said, don’t be fooled. I am not the devil in disguise… I’m the one standing front and center. 


Cleone: We are always pretty excited for a new Jay Crownover book, we have read essentially every book she’s written, and I blame the Marked Men books for really ruining me completely for non-romance (thanks Jay!).

Mary: I recommend these books to everyone who’s interested in romance. They’re delightful and easy with just the right amount of drama, and the absolute hottest heroes around.

C: Her men are all alphas, with tattoos, and hearts of gold, and a lot of them have pierced dicks.

M: No joke, these books have me wondering if there’s any way I could tempt my mild mannered insurance broker husband to consider a dick piercing.  They’ve expanded my vocabulary of what a hot guy looks like, and my porn searches have been revolutionized.

C: If you have never read a Crownover book, we strongly urge you to take the plunge. Her series are standalone novels, within an interconnected universe. And here is where I say something that is going to make Mary really happy: You should probably read the other Point books before you start Honor.

M: Yes pretty please read these books in order? It’s so much better that way! You technically don’t have to, but I really can’t with that attitude. Don’t half ass it.

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Sordid, by Nikki Sloane

sordid

Grade: B-

Doing it at: This is making me feel squicky, but we’ll go with 13%

Catnip: Light College Romance JK LOL, Banned books, Dark Romance, Serbian Mafia Car Salesmen, Serbian Pillowtalk, Just The Tip, Nonconsensual Sex, Choking, Bondage, #TeamAnal, We Like What We Like

Shame Scale: Every bit of shame you could possibly muster

Fantasy Cast:  Amy Jo Johnson circa Felicity, plus Ian Somerhalder

Book Description:

It took me years to find the courage to speak to Luka. He seemed exactly like me. Intelligent. Focused. Serious.

But he’s not the man I imagined.

His reality is cruel and dark. He traps me in his web, his power twisting tighter the more I struggle, until it’s hopeless. I can’t break free.

As he drags me unwillingly into his filthy world, I can’t ignore the terrifying idea circling my mind. What if I belong here with him?


Mary: There’s been some buzz about Nikki Sloane’s Sordid for awhile now, after Amazon banned it from their site for “offensive content.” So duh, we had to have it. Tell me I can’t have something and I’ll want it double.

Cleone: Plus we were like, how bad can it be really? We’ve read lots of twisted sex books in our romance rabbit hole.

Mary: We picked it up on Smashwords, but you can still buy it on iBooks and Kobo. And then we decided that it sounded like the perfect book to read during our Autumn camping trip to Shenandoah National Park with all our children and my mom.

Cleone: Nothing says wholesome family fun like buddy reading some BDSM amongst stunning fall foliage, as your children frolic nearby.

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Knocked Up by the Bad Boy, by Vanessa Waltz

Knocked Up by the Bad Boy

Grade: C+

Doing it at: 23%

Catnip: Mafia; Motorcycles; He’s Basically A Criminal; Italian Pillow Talk; Accidental Pregnancy; Papa Don’t Preach; Sex at the OB’s; #LikeABoss; Dick-Dazzling

Shame Scale: Pretty high shame. Can you picture yourself reading this one at your in-laws, and having to answer someone who asks what you’re reading?

Fantasy Cast: Vincent Piazza; Nina Dobrev

Book Description:

The last thing I need is a wife and kid.

The only settling down I do is at night, when I take a girl home to f*ck. I get laid to unwind from the chaos in my life. I live to hear them scream my name, but one night is all they get.

One night was all I needed.

Until I knocked up Maya.

It was supposed to be one night. But one wild night made me want another, and another. I’m addicted to every inch of her body. Now that I have her, I can’t let her go. I thought I never wanted a family, but now I can’t imagine life without one.

Only, there’s a problem.

Her father wants me dead.

I didn’t know she was his daughter.
I don’t give a damn.
She’s mine. Our child is mine. I protect what’s mine.
Even if it means war.


Knocked Up by the Bad Boy is just the kind of book I needed to accompany my last day of work/frantic vacation packing. The kind of book where there might be a few surprises, but the title gives you all the major plot points. There’s a bad boy, and he’s going to get someone pregnant. Odds are excellent that there won’t be any emotional hangover, and you probably won’t have to pay attention too hard to follow the story. Bonus: books with the best titles usually have some of the best trash lines. In that respect, this book did not disappoint.

When I read this book, I had just finished watching The Wedding Planner (Find me a woman who didn’t like this movie and I’ll show you a liar), so I couldn’t get the image of Justin Chambers’s ridiculous Italian accent out of my head when I was trying to picture our hero, Johnny. Johnny is a mafia boss. The mafia of Montreal. Totes not joking. I love the idea of there being a big powerful Italian mafia in a French-Canadian city.

I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse, eh? 

Or maybe, Leave the gun, take the Tim Hortons. 

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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:

Vincent, by Sarah Brianne

vincent

Grade: D

Doing it at: 64%

Catnip: Mafia; Best Friend’s Brother; Dual Narrative; Girl with a hard knock life; Alpha Hero; Sociopath; Everything’s up-to-date in Kansas City; Red Hot Burning Shame

Shame Scale: This is the definitive shame book. The protagonists are 18. The mafia in question is the Kansas City mafia. The writing is…not good. The cover model looks like a sociopath-spoiler alert he is. Being unable to put this one down gave me a lot of red-hot shame.

Fantasy Casting: Colton Haynes and AnnaSophia Robb

Book Description: Vincent knows the glamorous side of the Mafia, being born a soldier.

Lake lives on the opposite side of the tracks, born the daughter of a soldier.
The light and dark side of him are at constant war, but he is letting his darkness reign.
She is trying to find peace, and she will soon be far enough away to find it.
Discovering that his boss owns her, showed him how little he knew her.

Knowing all about him only makes her want to hate him.I’m a fu**ing made man. 

I’m just fu**ing trailer trash.

Vincent is banana pants guys. Both the character and the book itself. It’s part of the Made Men series, and mafia MEN made me think the main characters in this would be grown ups, instead our story opens with Vincent and Lake in high school, and we only get a few months past their 18th birthdays. But don’t worry! Just because our hero is only 18 doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a lot of sex. Oh no, he’s had sex with every girl in his school AND their moms. At Vincent and Lake’s high school graduation the girls and their moms cheer loudly and unashamedly for their teen sex god. Lake at least has the good sense to be embarrassed by this and flees. She doesn’t have much in the way of good sense besides that move though. Lets get into the plot.

Lake’s father is a low-level soldier in the mafia. In Kansas City, A soldier in the Kansas City Mafia. I couldn’t stop marveling at this fact, I made Mary listen to Everything’s Up-to-Date in Kansas City from the Oklahoma soundtrack, I Googled the median population of Kansas City, I literally laughed out loud. I digress, her dad is a not quite made man, her mom has married a rich man with a mean daughter and Lake hates spending weekends there because they mentally torture her and give her the modern-day Cinderella treatment. She has to sleep in the attic, clean the house from top to bottom, and can only eat the food that is leftover on her stepfather and stepsister’s plates. It’s the taunting of her stepsister that leads Lake and her best friend Adalynn to go dancing at a teen nightclub that appears to be a hook up spot. The girls are there, grinding and avoiding the attention of grabby handed teen boys, when Vincent spots them across the floor. At first he’s all “who is that hot piece of ass”, and then he’s all “that’s my stepsister and her best friend who I’ve never found sexually attractive before but now my dick will only be satisfied by her!”. Vincent and his fellow teen mobsters, Amo and Nero, drag the girls out of the club and beat the crap out of the guys that the girls came to the club with as well as the guys who were trying to grope them. These boys really like viciously attacking people, they’re all about blood splattering and bones crunching. Once Vincent gets Lake and Adalynn home, he finds birth control pills in Lake’s purse and freaks out again. See, girls in the mafia family aren’t allowed to date or have sex until they’re 18, and Vincent is now magically obsessed with Lake, none of this will stand for him so he kisses her. This plays out as these things usually do, he pushes her away, she can’t believe how amazing he is at kissing, no one does anything else for a few weeks, etc…

We pick back up just past the high school graduation, Lake’s dad has a gambling problem and he has gotten in over his head. Far enough over his head that he calls Lake and tells her to get her college fund out of the bank and flee town. Ms. Very Little Good Sense doesn’t flee town though, she takes her 20 grand and goes straight to the mob boss (OF KANSAS CITY) and tries to square up daddy’s debt. Unfortunately he owes more than 20 grand, fortunately (?) the bosses Consigliere is on hand to propose a solution Lake can pay off the debt by working as a cocktail waitress in the mafia’s high roller, super private casino. This is where I chime in and tell you that once upon a time I was a cocktail waitress and that hanging out serving drinks in skimpy outfits is not the same as being a stripper and is super lucrative, no shame in that game. But Lake doesn’t feel that way, she’s mortified and shy and not too happy when the pit boss forces her to see the on site waxer who takes every bit of hair off her body. Admittedly that part doesn’t sound that fun.

The other person who isn’t too happy about Lake’s new assignment? Vincent (duh), he’s been assigned to watch the floor of the casino and make sure no one touches the girls who are on the “no touch” list. At first he’s all “looking at 1/2 naked girls all day and getting paid? This one will give me a blow job in the woman’s room? Best Job Ever!” but then he’s all “Hey! Lake is one of these 1/2 naked girls and she just caught me with a trashy whore in the bathroom and other people are looking at her ass VINCENT SMASH”. Vincent takes it upon himself to pay off Lake’s daddy’s debt and demand she be let free from her obligations to walk around 1/2 naked in front of men that aren’t him. The catch is that Lake’s virginal innocence has caught the eye of a high roller who is in town for a month and the boss insists that Lake keep working at the casino until Mr. Rich and Smarmy leaves town. For the month that this is happening Vincent stays at Lake’s house, he pampers her, he cooks for her (all 18-year-old junior mobster sociopath sex god’s love to cook), and he doesn’t tell her that he has paid off her debt. You can imagine how that plays when it all comes out, and so much drama happens that I can’t really recap without this turning into 4000 words.

The writing in Vincent is not good, the author does that thing where she doesn’t use contractions in what Mary and I figure is a desperate bid to seem like a Serious Writer. The male characters and some of the females seem like actual sociopaths

“Maria giggled over her screams. “I really like it when they scream.”

The next loud scream that erupted from Ashley’s throat had Vincent almost in bliss. Me, too”

Descriptive writing isn’t her forte either, this is Lake describing Vincent’s apartment:

“It was warm yet cool, inviting yet structured, and contemporary yet Victorian, all while being dark with no light”

What does ANY of that mean???

I started laughing before this book even started, Vincent is the proud owner of the best chapter titles I have ever encountered http://bit.ly/1G29RL2 And yet, I couldn’t put this down, it was so bad and funny and I just read it top speed. This book is like that pint of ice cream you eat until your stomach hurts even though you’re barely even hungry; your stomach hurts but you’re #sorrynotsorry. Vincent gets a D for not being a good book, it just isn’t. I’m still probably going to read the sequel, because it looks like there might be a mob war coming, in Kansas City. That’s can’t miss shame reading.