Sarah’s Seduction, by Lora Leigh

Sarah's seduction

Grade: C-

Doing it at: 13%

Catnip: All in the Family, Threesomes, Fivesomes, Light Orgies, Mysterious Stalker, This Shit Is Bananas, WTF, Butt Stuff; Aftercare, #TeamAnal

Shame Scale: Red Hot Burning Shame

Fantasy Cast: Josh Hartnett x 2, Anne Hathaway, Matt Dillon, Christina Ricci

What do we taste like?: Like nectar. Like the sweetest honeyed drug.

Book Description:

Book 2 in the Men of August series

On a hot summer night six years before, Brock August showed Sarah Tate a passion that would nearly destroy her. But fear and innocence drove her from his arms and into a marriage she neither wanted nor found happiness in. Now Sarah is free and she wants that night she lost. One night, a few stolen hours to know the heat and passion of the man she never forgot. But Brock has other plans in mind. A secret, a passion, a desire his brothers share. A desire Sarah will be unable to deny. That is, if she can escape the dark designs of the stalker intent on destroying the August men.


This is the sequel to Marly’s Choice, the bananas romance between three brothers, and Marly, their “ward,” of sorts. I won’t say I was dying to read this book, but I was looking forward to seeing how much crazier this story would get when the men added another woman to their harem. Some back story: The August brothers – Cade (the oldest), and twins Sam and Brock, suffered some sort of traumatic abuse when they were older teens. As a result, they’ve found that the only way they can express their love for each other, and reinforce their bond as brothers, is to share their girlfriends with each other. In Marly’s choice, Cade finally took Marly as his woman, but she takes care of all his brothers as well. Sometimes all of them at the same time. The Family that plays together, stays together, and all that.

Also, I want to mention that I read most of this book on an airplane, sitting in between my husband and a stranger, with large print. I’m kind of proud of myself for that, because it definitely took some balls.

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Tangled Up in Blue, by J.D. Brick

tangled up in blue

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 54%

Catnip: Stalkers; Deep Dark Secret; Men in Uniform; Climb You Like a Tree; Guitar Hero

Shame Scale: The guy on the cover is eating the girl’s face, inside it’s less shameful.

Fantasy Cast: Josh Lucas circa Sweet Home Alabama; Emma Watson

Book Description:

Keegan Crenshaw needs a hero. She’s a straight-A student with a high-profile job on campus. She’s got a lot to prove. But someone’s out to get her. Someone’s got her running scared. And she runs right into the arms of a red-hot boy named Blue.

Deep down, Blue is still the brave soldier who risked his life for others. He’s still a hero, even if he no longer believes it. All he wants now, though, is to make music and bury the secret that could destroy his future. Blue tries hard to be a good guy. But he’s wrestling with demons he can barely control. And when Keegan moves into his house and very quickly into his heart, his hard-fought control begins to slip away.

Keegan and Blue can’t stay away from each other, can’t stop thinking about each other. They have a connection–body, mind and soul–they cannot resist. But it will cost them dearly. Secrets have a way of exploding into the light, and sometimes it’s hard to know who’s a hero and who’ll turn out to be a heartbreaker. Is Blue the love of Keegan’s life, her knight in shining armor? Or will he become an agonizing mistake?

Searing and sexy, Tangled Up in Blue takes readers on a wild ride. Along the way, it explores the heart-wrenching costs of courage, deception and sacrificial love.

Mary and I have decide that our fancy latin blog motto is: Venimus Facienda Ea (Don’t critique our Latin, that’s the best that Google Translate can do). We Came for the Doing it. Even if the sex is bad we still want to hear about it, damnit. No fade away for the Shame Girls. Tangled up in Blue had a lot of fade away happening, BUT, it also had good writing and a dramatic, engrossing story line. And it had Blue Danube.

Keegan is a good girl who has found herself in a terrifying situation. She’s the editor of her college newspaper, youngest ever since she’s a sophomore, and has just fled the dorms because she has a stalker who is growing increasingly bold and threatening. She took the first open room she could find, which happens to be at a rundown house that the other students have dubbed The Canadian Embassy. Its a party house, renowned for its wild parties, and as soon as Keegan pulls into the driveway she spies Blue and his very fine ass, laid out across the porch floor.

Our hero’s name really is Blue, Blue Danube, and he tells Keegan that his dad named him that on the predication of the Boy Named Sue theory of naming. Thanks Shel Silverstein. The name hasn’t hurt Blue at all, he’s dreamy cute, ex army, and came to Ikana College to study music with his hero, a 60’s folk singer who I think is modeled after Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. He’s the most responsible of the three people Keegan will be rooming with and takes an instant protective liking to her. We have big time insta-lust with our man whore and our mostly virginal heroine.

Blue is a gentleman and a sucker for a damsel in distress. He wants to save Keegan from the sick asshole who is taunting her and sweep her off her feet in the way she deserves. He wants their first time to be memorable. He wants to teach her about music and keep any other man from touching her. It is all familiar territory, but the characters are likable and the banter is pretty top notch. My swoon factor really started to notch up when Keegan climbed out on the roof to write in her diary, she keeps a journal and writes in it every day, and Blue climbed up a tree with his guitar strapped to his back to serenade her. SOLD.

Blue and Keegan fall for each other pretty quickly, and there’s flirting, kissing and oral sex. Except it’s implied oral sex, because Keegan is inching down and then… bam aftermath. Skipping over the good stuff is a big no-no here at Mybookshame, and it happened TWICE before we got some actual doing it. And that doing it still wasn’t terribly explicit. This wasn’t a D- for no D but it was close. Look at that book cover, go ahead look at it, he is EATING HER FACE. So I was expecting explicit eating of…other things… too. Luckily the actual plot had me tapping pages at a high rate and keenly interested in who the hell was stalking Keegan and what exactly had happened to Blue in the war that left him with nightmares and massive guilt. One plot line was easier to guess than the other, but both were enjoyable.

The lacivious content that we did get was perfectly steamy, with more dirty talk than I was expecting, considering the fade outs.

“Did you say you want to do Blue Danube? He’s right here, baby, ready and waiting.” Blue sits up and gestures toward the front of his jeans, where the proof of his interest is obvious.

Bonus points were awarded for making out on the roof in a thunderstorm, and Blue teaching Keegan to waltz in his underpants. Blue and Keegan are mushily, adorably in love by about 35% and all the sex is love making — this is not a thing I have just decided, its stated in the text. You’d be surprised how few times the phrase making love gets thrown around in these books we read.

We’re making love in the literal sense, creating something that hasn’t been here before. I guess you’d call it my sexual awakening. I walk around all day awakened, attuned to some buzz in the air I’ve never noticed before.

Tangled up in Blue ends in a cliffhanger, upon closer inspection Amazon warned me it was going to happen, but I didn’t realize until a new story line was amping up and I looked down to see that we were at 98%. I’m not a big fan of multi-book arches for one couple. I’m a ‘lets meet and fall in love and tie this up’ kind of girl, but I liked Keegan so much and found Blue so charming that I’ll very likely read part two to find out what happens and spend more time with them. If you’re looking for a sweet romance with liberal dashes of melodrama, and are OK with a non-sex-heavy story (I’m so doin’ it jaded!), I strongly encourage you to buy this book.

Check it out on Amazon:

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

Fall With Me, by Jennifer L. Armentrout/J. Lynn

Fall With Me

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 42%

Catnip: Hot Cop; Misunderstandings; Mysterious Stalker; Childhood Crush; Strong Female Lead

Shame Scale: Low shame

Fantasy Cast: Henry Cavill, Jennifer Lawrence

Book Description: 

Eleven months ago, bartender and weird-shirt-wearing extraordinaire
Roxy and Officer Reece Anders had a one night stand. Well, kind of.
She’s been in love with him since she was fifteen, and he wishes that
night they shared never happened. She’s sworn him off forever, but the
past and future collide, forcing her to rely on the one man who broke
her heart not once, but twice.

Her best friend since birth has been in a long-term care facility
since he became a victim of a hate crime years ago, and the person who
put him in there is out of prison and wanting to make amends with him
and Roxy. She’s not sure she has room for forgiveness in her and when
she begins to receive frightening messages and is on the receiving end
of escalating violence, she thinks she knows who is to blame. The man
who already destroyed one life already.

But Reece isn’t convinced. The threats are too personal, and even if
Roxy doesn’t believe him, he’s not willing to let anyone hurt her.
Including himself. He’s already messed up more than once when it comes
to Roxy and he’s not going to let history repeat itself.

Mary: Jennifer Armentrout is amazing and I will read literally anything she writes. This is book four in the Wait For You series.

Cleone: Jennifer Armentrout made me deeply invested in books about teen aliens as a 33 year old woman, she’s a genius.

M: Yes. That series was everything. Jennifer Armentrout excels at giving characters distinct voices. I always feel like I’m reading about different people in each book. I wasn’t crazy about the heroines in the first two in this series (too nervous, too childish), I didn’t read the third. But this one: Roxy feels like someone I want to be friends with. She swears, she says “butt sore,” and “holy balls:”

Oh, holy balls, what he just said was light-me-on-fire-hot.

….

“But you could’ve cleared it up right then,” Katie pointed out. “No shit,” I replied. “But I didn’t. I was so embarrassed and… yeah, my feelings were hurt, so I left his place and just so much time passed, and I was still all butt sore about it that I never cleared it up.”

She even has small boobs and thick glasses. I believe I texted Cleone: “The new J. Lynn is in the cloud. You should read it. She has small boobs too!”

C: I love small boob heroines! It’s a very personal catnip. Plus Roxy is funny and random, and owns a ‘Hufflepuffs do it better’ t-shirt. Of the J Lynn heroines, she’s ranking as my number one.

C: We met Roxy and Reece in Calla’s book, and they spent the entire book not talking – more specifically Roxy not talking to Reece. Every time he’d come into the bar where she worked she’d hightail it to the back room or get someone else to wait on him. In this book we find out its because they had a drunken night together that didn’t go as either would have liked. And Roxy has liked him FOREVER. Like forever ever, he was literally the boy next door and she’s been pining for a decade. She’s an artist and she paints him all the time and then hides the paintings in her closet and mentally berates herself for liking him so much.

Reece has decided that he is done waiting for Roxy to get over her snit and forgive him, he’s wanted her for a really long time as well — since he saw teenage Roxy on the slip’n’slide in a wee bitty bikini. And after some work trauma, some serious emotional heaviness after a stint in the armed forces, and a year of not talking to her he can not wait any longer.

Roxy’s good friend was the victim of a hate crime several years ago, and has been living in a vegetative state. She blames herself for what happened, and goes to visit him every week, despite him having no response to her visits. And lately he really hasn’t been doing well. The guy who attacked her friend has just been let out of prison and wants to make amends. To which Roxy is pretty much “F Off Dude.” On top of all of this, some really weird stuff has started happening around her apartment.

M: So the stalker. I’m sure it was intentional (I hope), but the big mystery stalker was absurdly obvious. As in, at the very first mention of weirdness, I was all, It’s X, and he’s doing X. I texted Cleone my prediction, and she was all, NO SPOILERS. But is it a spoiler if I’m just making an accurate prediction? There were anvils, not clues.

C: Yes, as soon as X was involved, I totally knew he was the stalker. The stalker story line still managed to creep me out though! I was reading this late at night in my dark bedroom and without being spoiler-y an especially scary thing happened and I had to turn on Bob’s Burgers to calm my nerves (The Belchers make me brave).

Reece is very very hot. J Lynn knows how to write a dreamy guy who isn’t just fawning over the girl or a complete alpha jerk. She hits a nice balance and this one had me google image searching “hot cops”

M: Like this?

man-impersonates-policeman-pulls-over-real-policeman

1x10-Pier-Pressure-Animated-gif-Hot-Cops-arrested-development-7915510-300-170

M: Or more like this?channing-tatum-magic-mike-stripping-cop

M: Sigh. I want a Hot Cop. Remember that super hot meter maid we saw who kind of looked like a Hot Cop because of his navy blue uniform? We made him so uncomfortable.

C: If by uncomfortable you mean super flattered? Then yes, I remember him.

I liked that Roxy decided to cool her commitment bullshit and BE with Reece before she went back and forth too many times and made me hate her. J Lynn also got me ready for the next book, by making Nick seem like a hot/decent guy as a side character in this.

M: Yes. And even though the plot was a little predictable, it was still very suspenseful and creepy. It was like when you watch a horror movie, and you’re like, “You idiot! Why are you going upstairs!” That was pretty much the way I felt throughout the whole book. Plus sex. There was just enough talk of him taking off his big cop-y gun belt and dropping it on the floor so they could do the thrust and repeat.

Check it out on Amazon:

Lawless in Leather, by Melanie Scott

Lawless in Leather

Grade: B

Doing it at: 49%

Catnip: Burlesque; Motorcycles; Smoking Hot Ex-Military Guy; Sports Stuff; Dead Ex-Girlfriend Issues; Mysterious Stalker; Dual Narrative; Not Xena

Shame Scale: Medium.

Fantasy Cast: Jay Ryan, Isla Fisher

Book Description:

SHE’S GOOD AT HER GAME.
Raina Easton never dreamed she’d end up playing ring master to a bunch of baseball cheerleaders. But when the New York Saints offers her a job to coach its new squad–the Fallen Angels–Raina can’t refuse. As the owner of a burlesque club, she can certainly show the girls more than a few good moves. But as for her new boss? That is, as they say, a whole ‘nother story. . . 

AND HE’S GOT IT BAD.
Army veteran, biker, and all-around tough guy, Malachi Coulter isn’t your typical sports-team owner. For one thing, he doesn’t think cheerleaders belong on the baseball field. Another: he can’t seem to separate business and pleasure when he meets his somewhat scandalous new employee. Seems the major-league bad boy has met his match in the gorgeous, feisty Raina. All’s fair in love and baseball…could it be that, after all this time, Malachi is playing to win?

We recently got our hands on a bunch of ARC’s (Advanced Reader Copy), making us Shame Girls feel verrrry professional and pleased with ourselves. Luckily the first few have been pretty good so we don’t have to say mean things, or lie and feel like we’re compromising our “Journalistic Integrity.”

Lawless in Leather is the third book in the New York Saints series. I’ve been wanting to check one of these out (because I like the covers. Faceless buns, bulge, and abs. #sorrynotsorry) and I was thrilled to have a chance to read this one for zero dollars. Also, when I was googling this book to get an image of the cover to use in this review, this was what came up:

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 6.16.04 PM

So excellent. 🙂

Raina is a dancer who has been hired to choreograph a cheerleading squad for the NY Saints, a baseball team recently purchased by Malachi (love that name – it’s NOT too Children of the Corn, you guys) and his friends – the heroes in the previous two books. Raina and Malachi are both looking to settle down and do adult things, but both of them look at the other and see capital “T” Trouble: A curvy burlesque dancer with fiery red hair, versus a broody guy on a motorcycle, wrapped up in a leather jacket.

“Would you believe me if I said it’s not you, it’s me?” Dark brows lifted. “I might. If you explain it more.” “It… it sounds silly. But I just don’t trust my instincts with men anymore. Too many mistakes. So when my instincts say This one, I’m forced to consider if it’s more sensible to do the exact opposite.” He frowned. “Did someone hurt you?” “I’m thirty. It would be a little strange if I hadn’t had my heart broken by now.”

They spend a good bit of time letting the chemistry simmer and bubble, before they realize that it might not be the worst idea ever to explore the obvious attraction between them. Add in a mysterious someone who is messing with Raina, and Mal’s protective instincts, and it’s a pretty enjoyable read. Also, Raina’s cat is named after Wash in Firefly, so I’m sure Melanie Scott and I would be friends IRL.

I loved the characters in this. Raina is confident and mature, knows what she wants and is extremely direct about it. There’s no cliched misunderstandings that insult the reader’s intelligence. The drama between Raina and Mal feels real and satisfying. And this book manages to strike a good balance between giving us that protective alpha male we want, and the feminist hero we want to be. Take these excerpts for example.

“I don’t need to lock you up.” Her face went pensive. “Not literally. That would be weird. And really creepy and I’d have to call the cops on your ass. But there are things I want to do in my life. And some of them aren’t the safest things on earth. I want to learn to ski and maybe bungee-jump and some other stuff that I never got to do when I was dancing because I couldn’t afford to injure myself. I don’t life my life within the lines. Not all the time.” He sucked in a breath. “I know that.” “Yeah, but can you live with it? Because my choices are mine. No one else gets to choose for me. Or control what I do. So if you already know that the answer is no, we should cut our losses. Before anyone gets hurt.”

************

“Her definition of handling it was apparently different from his. But he remember what she’d said. About not wanting to be controlled. So he couldn’t just take over and do things his way. Not if he wanted to keep waking up next to her. He took a breath. Pushed back the worry and anger. She was safe. And she had told him. She’d given him that much. He could respect her boundaries in return. “Okay.” He nodded once. “Okay. Let’s see what happens.”

See that! He’s protective, she’s not meek, he agrees to compromise. Cleone and I first started throwing around the idea of blogging about romance novels when we realized that we were two educated feminist women, DEVOURING books about men that are borderline abusive. Controlling in the name of overprotectiveness. Truth: we LOVE those books. But we also love it even more when we find a book with characters we can relate to. Who do things we can see ourselves doing in real life. I’m giving this one a B, because I loved it, but I think it could have used a little more drama. I feel like if you’re going to add a stalker, there should be a little more danger or excitement than there was in this one.

Amazon

Better When He’s Bold, by Jay Crownover

Better when he's bold

Grade: Solid B+

Doing it at: 36%

Catnip: He’s basically a criminal; Overprotective men; Mysterious stalker; Strong female lead; Girl with a hard knock life; Hot car; Dual narrative

Shame scale: Medium, because it’s a sex book – but well written!, the title is kind of cringeworthy, and the cover is so goddamn awful

Fantasy casting: Logan Echols and Veronica Mars

Book description: 

There’s a difference between a bad boy and a boy who is bad. . . . Welcome to the Point.

In a dark and broken kingdom, a ruler has be fearless to control the streets and the ruthless people who run them. Race Hartman is just bold enough, just smart enough, and just lost enough to wear the crown. Places like The Point will always have bad things and bad people, but the man in control of all that badness can minimize the devastation. Race has a plan, but can he prevent total annihilation without destroying himself?

Brysen Carter has always seen the real Race—a guy too pretty, too smooth, and way too dangerous. Basking in his golden glow is very tempting, but Brysen knows she’ll eventually get burned. She has enough problems without the risky danger and mayhem that comes with a guy like Race. Too bad Brysen faces a threat close to home that might be more dangerous than anything The Point has ever produced.. And the only person interested in keeping her safe is the one man she can’t allow herself to have.

Sometimes being bold is the only way to stay alive. But can she let Race save her life . . . if it means losing herself to him?”


First thing: That cover model. Nope. I put off reading this book for a really long time because the cover model looks like such a douche, and I LOVE Jay Crownover books. Maybe not as much as Cleone does, but still. His awful backlit hair, that Travolta chin, and his ridiculous hotel bartender outfit don’t do anything for me. How about some more Nash please? If there’s an area that Crownover usually exceeds in, it’s cover models – the real reason I started reading her books.  “I came for the cover models, I stayed for the story.”

So after I got past that, I fell into this one pretty easily. It’s a fairly standard “good girl with a  hard knock life” meets “bad guy who’s really just a good guy doing bad things to survive.” But it’s Jay Crownover, so it’s intensely readable and the sex is early and super hot. Brysen (dumb name, #sorrynotsorry) is a college student from the good side of town with secret family troubles, who’s trying to hold it all together for her younger sister. She’s had a thing for Race for a while, but she does her best to outwardly hate him, because he’s BAD. Circumstances arise that allow Race to step in and save her and prove he’s really a GOOD guy, who’s helpful and trust worthy. There was really no manufactured relationship drama or breakup-we-all-know-won’t-last in this one. They acted like emotionally normal adults who want each other and treat each other with respect. All of the conflict was from outside sources – a stalker, criminal danger, bad parents etc. If anything, it almost seemed a touch boring because I’m so accustomed to the standard 85% breakup.

A solid B+. I could put it down, but I enjoyed it. The writing was good, and there were no fewer than nine sex scenes. Points deducted for use of the word weeping to describe the V.

Check it out on Amazon: