Never Let You Go, by Katy Regnery

**** We had the great pleasure of meeting Katy Regnery at the Black and Gold Author Event, and she was generous enough to gift us an autographed copy of The Vixen and the Vet, book one in her modern fairytales series (Beauty and the Beast) for giveaway to one lucky reader!
1. Check out our review of Never Let You Go below, then:
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never let you go

Grade: A

Doing it at: 45%

Catnip: Long Lost Love, Deep Dark Secret, Modern Fairy Tale, Dual Narrative, Strong Female Lead, MMA Fighter, Rescue Me, Survivor’s Guilt

Shame Scale: Mild shame when answering your new coworker’s question of what you’re reading

Fantasy Cast:  Matt Woodhouse, Indiana Evans

What do we taste like?: Her essence, salty and sweet, a reminder of his tenderness: that her pleasure came first.

Book Description:

Regret, betrayal, kidnapping, loss, madness, abuse, passion, love.

In this modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, thirteen-year-old foster children Griselda and Holden escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity, and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety, but the other is left behind.

Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match, and her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.

Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage, and a tangle of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the white water of the Shenandoah.

Never Let You Go is a story of fear and hope, defeat and survival, and two people–once profoundly broken–who discover that love is the only thing that can make them whole again.

Have we talked about how I’m a sucker for fairy tales? I almost majored in Mythology because I could fall into folk tales and Grimm forever and ever. So romance novels that are modern retellings of fairy tales are big catnip for me. Never Let You Go is a reworking of Hansel and Gretel. I’ve actually read one of those before but it was MUCH more serious subject matter. Never Let You Go covers some dark topics, but it also contains a very sweet romance at its core.

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Punching and Kissing, by Helena Newbury

Punching and Kissing

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 43%

Catnip: I’m No Good For You, MMA Fighter, Johnny Castle Complex, Deep Dark Secret, Guilt, Million Dollar Baby, Irish Brogue, Public Sex, Girl With A Hard Knock Life, Gym Shorts Bulge, Dangerous Criminal Villain

Shame Scale: Medium Low. It’s standard romance fare.

Fantasy Cast:  Jai Courtney, Elizabeth Gillies

Book Description:

Unless he can teach me how to fight, I’m dead. But our feelings for each other could destroy us both.

When an illegal underground fight leaves my brother in the hospital, I make a desperate deal to save his life: I volunteer to fight in his place. In thirty days, I’ve got to walk into the ring, a woman in a man’s world…and I’ve never even thrown a punch. I have one chance to survive. I need a badass who can teach me to be as tough as him. I need Aedan O’Harra, the blue-eyed, Irish beast of a man who everyone fears.

But training together means getting close. Every touch of his hands makes it harder to control my feelings. I begin to see the man inside him, the one no one else can. Can I help him break free of the dark secrets that haunt him and can we save each other, or will we both be defeated? Because neither of us is ready for how dark and desperate this fight will become.

Confession. The whole time I was reading this, I thought it was actually by Helena Hunting, who wrote Cleone’s beloved Pucked. I kept texting C things like, “This book is so good! I can see why you love her!” I didn’t actually figure out that it’s by Helena Newbury, who is a completely different person, until about five minutes ago. Sometimes, I’m kind of a moron. BUT. This book was really good! So now there are two Helena’s on our You Can Sit With Us authors list.

Things open up with Sylvie down at The Pit, waiting to watch her brother Alec fight. He’s currently undefeated, but the fights are anything goes till someone can’t get up anymore, i.e. super scary and dangerous. They are down on their luck though, and really need the money to pay the bills.

Aedan is at The Pit to watch the fights – he’s ‘retired,’ but he still gets a rush from watching, and he rescues Sylvie when she gets into trouble with some awful dudes. He’s giant and ripped and super gorgeous, with an Irish brogue to boot, but he’s got a bit of the ol’Johnny Castle complex; firm in his belief that he’s a life-ruiner, he vows to never see her again and disappears.

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Draw, by Cora Brent


Grade: B

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Alpha Hero; MMA Fighter; Strong Female Lead; Bros; Tattoos; Hate to Love You; Roof Sex; Boob Stuff; Dual Narrative

Shame Scale: Mild shame, but only for the best reasons, this book was a delightful guilty pleasure

Fantasy Cast:  Jay Ryan; Emma Roberts

Book Description:

I don’t even know if love is real. After running from the bastard who brutalized me, I limped back to Arizona, choosing a vibrant college town in the hopes of starting over. I never expected to find him there.
Cord Gentry.
He and his brothers were tough, lusty forces of nature I’d known since childhood. Years ago, Cord seduced me as a sick game. I’ve hated him ever since. Now here he is again, a man who beats other men bloody for money.
Cord has always been heartless, dangerous, not to be trusted.
And I want him so much I can’t think.

They called us ‘those white trash Gentry boys’ until we believed that’s what we were. Our people squatted at the edge of a hellhole prison town for generations. The childhood we endured was the stuff of nightmares. I’d learned early on that my brothers, Chase and Creed, were the only people on earth worth my time.
They all told us we were bad, that we’d always be bad.
The horrors of the past have scarred my soul.
But now I need to be better.
For her.

This is going to sound like a back-handed compliment, but I mean it ONLY as a real compliment: Draw was way better than I thought it was going to be when I picked it for my post- Karina Halle binge read. Draw is exactly all the things that I want in a trashy romance and I inhaled the book in under 24 hours, with much sending of screenshots to Mary and PP because of how much I liked it.

Saylor and Cord grew up in the same small Arizona town, she was a nerdy kid from a safe but unhappy home, and he was one of the triplet brothers born to the town’s trashiest family. Cord, Creed, and Chase grew up essentially feral because their mom was a drugged up mess and their dad was an abusive bastard. Luckily for them they grew up to be three HOT messes, and escaped their small town for better things in Phoenix. Saylor went off to college in California and would be happy to never see Cord again because he dispatched her of her hymen on the floor of her father’s garage and then told the whole school about it. Not cool teenage Cordero* Gentry, not cool.

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Real, by Katy Evans


Grade: A

Doing it at: 55%

Catnip: Alpha Hero; MMA Fighter; Copious Licking; Strong Female Lead; DBB; Swooning; Sweatpants Boner

Shame Scale: I find the longer I read romance the less shame I feel, even when the covers are ab-mazing and the doing it is dirty and plentiful. Low shame.

Fantasy Cast:  Stephen Amell, Ashley Greene

Book Description:

A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
A competition…

He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…

Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.

He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents…

But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.

I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.

If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?

Cleone: Real is perhaps the ultimate Alpha book, we have a hero who will dig a guy’s tattoo off his face with a pencil, likes to mark his woman by licking her all over with his tongue, and has to be literally sedated when he loses his temper. Katy Evans somehow makes all of this seem extremely hot.

Mary: He’s the alpha-est book hero of all time. He’s more alpha than even all the half-animal heros who are literally the alpha leaders of their pack. And he’s the hottest. He’s so cut that his abs are described as “squares.” Fucking squares.

real 6

C: I’m on a Katy Evans kick after Mary urged me to read Manwhore and I fell madly in book boyfriend love with Saint. I was expecting the hero of REAL to be kind of Saint-esque even if he was an MMA fighter and not a billionaire playboy. Generally books by the same author have similar heroes and heroines, which is fine, and comforting in ways. If you know you want a funny boy, then you know which author to go to. This was not the case with Manwhore and Real, the stories felt completely different, character voices and all. Minus the heroines’ love of small brown man nipples – an Evans specific thing that I am picking up on. I notice it probably because it makes me laugh. Minus this guy who had the tiniest nipples that ever nipped I have never found a guy’s nipples to be anything to remark upon. But I digress, Real is a very different book from Manwhore.

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Wrecked, by Prisilla West


Grade:  D

Doing it at: 60%

Catnip: Tattoos; Dark Secrets; Friends to Lovers; Dramatic Rescues; Kittens; MMA Fighter

Shame scale: Medium. The cover is really just abs, but everyone knows what you’re reading.

Fantasy casting:  Channing Tatum and Britt Robertson (or some other giant, ripped guy and tiny girl. I don’t really care.)

Book description: 

“There would be no happy ending for us. He was too damaged. I was too broken.”
Two years ago, Lorrie’s mother was murdered. But that wasn’t the end of it. Reeling from the tragedy, Lorrie’s father spiraled into alcohol, depression, and finally suicide.
The two most important people in Lorrie’s life are both gone but she’s still alive.
Trying to recover from the tragedy, Lorrie returns to campus, ready to pick up the pieces of her life. All Lorrie wants is to get back to “normal.”

Then she meets Hunter. The man, the legend, “The Hammer.”

Hunter is a cage fighter who takes on every fight like he’s got nothing to lose. His life is a tangled mess of girls, booze, and fist fights. And while it may seem like he’s got a devil-may-care attitude, he’s fighting a private cage-match with a monster he can’t defeat. Lorrie knows that Hunter is exactly the type of guy she should stay away from, especially in her fragile state, but Hunter has other ideas. As Hunter and Lorrie grow closer together, will they be able to overcome their pain and heal each other? Or will they both end up wrecked?”

I’m stuck in this shame world and I don’t know how to get out.

Wrecked. Ugh. I hated this book. Really, honestly hated. It gave me all the clichés you could ever want. Lorrie is the poor, loner college girl who had to drop out because of a huge family tragedy. Hunter is the strong, womanizing MMA fighter with a deep dark secret. Toss in a couple gossipy bimbos who like to give blow jobs in tandem, the ever-concerned roommate/bestie who loves to set up blind dates and a box of kittens and you’re done. Book written.

Lorrie’s return to school after her mother’s murder and her father’s suicide is filled with tension. She wants only to keep her head down, attend classes and move on with her life. (She also, for whatever reason, is very concerned about being old for a sophomore. This is annoying, since she is only 20. NOT. OLD.)  Her first act back on campus is to stop at a small bridge and reread her father’s suicide note. Then she falls into the small, frozen lake. And, just as you would expect, the hottest guy she’s ever seen ever is the one who pulls her out. Hunter takes her back to his place, warms her up in the most boring way possible (with actual dry clothes and tea and a warm shower), then she flees. Actually runs away.

Her best friend convinces her that a blind date is what she needs. Armed with fake IDs, they meet the guys in a bar. And although they are very minor, barely mentioned characters, they are douche bags. Lorrie hears excited voices and shouting from another part of the bar and excuses herself to catch the action. Lo and behold is hot guy Hunter, standing in a cage ready to fight another guy. They make eye contact, and immediately after the fight, he’s found her and is making his move. They walk together, he asks her directly to date him and she skirts around it and asks to remain friends. Together, they study and watch movies and adopt six abandoned kittens that they bottle feed. You know, friend stuff.

The friend-thing only last so long. Lorrie overhears gossipy bimbos #1 and #2 in the bathroom talking about how great it was to give Hunter a blow job, and she’s immediately jealous. There’s a confrontation, it eventually evolves into forgiveness, and then on Valentine’s day, an interrupted kiss. When they sit down to talk about that kiss, they just end up having all the sex everywhere all over his apartment and burn through his stock of condoms and lube. Seriously, they go from awkward friends to raging sex fiends doing it in every position in like half a page. They include sausages and grape jelly and role-playing into all this sex. They hit “we did it 10 times” at twelve hours. I think they cover more in two days than most couples would be comfortable covering in two years. It’s absurd. I yelled at the book. NO ONE HAS THAT MUCH SEX IN 12 HOURS! And it’s really the only substantial sex part in the book. (There’s a mutual masturbation scene later, but it’s meh at best)

It’s obvious that Hunter has a Secret, but Lorrie is pretty wrapped up in her own drama to notice, and jumps to some conclusions as they do in these books. You have to read to find out more. And, since this is first in a series, Lorrie and Hunter’s story doesn’t end here. I don’t think I’m going to bother reading the sequel. I found nothing redeeming about this book. But, everyone has their own tastes and you may love Hunter and Lorrie. Someone has to.

(Edited: I kind of liked this one. Maybe your standards just haven’t dropped enough yet….   – Mary)