Retreat, by Jay Crownover


Grade: A

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Roughing It, Hate to Love You, Cowboys, Lumbersexual, Sexual Healing, Romantic Suspense, Strong Female Lead, Fish Out of Water, Horses, Hot Springs, City Mouse vs. Country Mouse, Ride It My Pony

Shame Scale: I think we are entirely shameless at this point (Garth Brooks link appropriate because this book involves a Stetson hat!)

Fantasy Cast: Alan Powell, Amy Adams

What Does He Taste Like?: Mountains and man

Book Description:

Every once in a while, you need to get away from it all.

I was a woman on the edge, shaken and shattered after a breakup that felt like it tore my entire world apart.
My best friend, sick of watching me drown in misery and melancholy, harassed me until I agreed to go with her on a week-long wilderness retreat.

She promised days spent bonding and getting in touch with our inner bad-asses. It was supposed to be all about the two of us roughing it and making do with the bare minimum. She assured me we were going to be pushed to our limits in ways that were unimaginable. Neither one of us could have ever guessed just how right she was.

Nowhere in the glossy brochure did it say anything about the fact I was going to have to battle the insufferable but deliciously rugged and sexy trail guide instead of the elements. The brochure also forgot to mention the part that warned when you left civilization behind, there was no place to pack your inhibitions and fears.

I was told that I would be facing a week where the only thing I should expect was the unexpected. However, no one mentioned that I was going to have to fight for my life…and my heart as soon as I ventured into the unknown.

I was a pro at hiding from my feelings but when it came time to face a real threat, one that could change everything, I learned I was more of a no surrender, no retreat kind of girl.

Retreat is a standalone novel, the first in the Getaway series which centers on the hardheaded and brokenhearted Warner brothers and the women that dare to love them.
These boys are very good at putting the wild in wilderness.

Mary: Jay Crownover has decided to dip her toes into the Cowboy Romance world and we cannot be more excited about it.

Cleone: Jay seems determined to give us every single male fantasy- hot cop, hot criminal, hot carpenter, hot military men, hot lawyer, hot versions of Trump’s worst nightmare— and now the hot cowboy. Thanks, Jay! You’ve got a golden boner in your future for your gifts to womankind.

M: I love cowboy books, from the super erotic, Stetson hat, vaguely bi-sexual Lorelei James/Maya Banks/Lora Leigh kind of cowboys, to the ultra masculine Kristen Ashley cowboys who are pretty much exactly like her bikers/pimps/bounty hunters/lawmen/fantasyland marauders. I’m pretty much pro-cowboy in all forms. But Crownover’s cowboys lean more towards the gentleman’s undercut, plaid shirt, motorcycle boots, lumbersexual type – and as a Pittsburgh wannabe-hipster mom, that is SO my catnip. So quick, close your eyes and don’t look at the cover, because this book is totally about a hot hipster cowboy and not an aging Joey Fatone.

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Drinking at the Movies: Magic Mike XXL

Grade: A

Doing it at: It is with great sadness that we report that there is no doing it in XXL

Catnip: Male Strippers, Road Trip, Bros Bro’ing Out; Pony

Shame Scale: Mild mild shame, this was a really entertaining movie and we certainly aren’t alone in our glee about seeing these boys in thongs. Objectification is a two way street.

Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Mangiello, Matt Bomer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover

Cleone: Lets kick this off by saying Magic Mike XXL was way more fun that the first Magic Mike, which took itself very seriously and tried to be a capital F Film.

Mary: Yes, it was quite a relief that the whole movie was about getting to a stripper convention and what are we going to dance???, and not about Magic Mike’s personal hopes and dreams of becoming a furniture maker. There was a tiny bit of existential angst, but mostly it was just stripper stuff. BTW, this is a review in a sense that we’re going to tell you everything that happens in the movie, so if you don’t like spoilers and think they would ruin this movie for you (they won’t, we promise!), you probably should go ahead and X out of this.

C: Our boy Magic Mike has got his furniture company up and running when XXL opens, he’s hard at work building and delivering, and trying to figure out how to make enough money to offer health insurance to his sole employee. Everything in his world is very staid and grown up when he gets a call from his stripper boys saying they’re going to be in town.

M: For a wake. Dallas died. (Matthew McConaughey’s character from MM regular size)

Just kidding! When Mike shows up at a motel (???) for the wake, it turns out the wake is actually a pool party. Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello – Pittsburgh’s finest WHAT!) drops his towel to show us all his glorious ass, and throws Mike in the pool. Can we get a gif for this? Internet help please?

C: Matt Bomer’s abs are incredibly distracting. Ditto with Tatum’s arms, but my eyes are literally drawn to Bomer’s abs every time they’re on screen. The man must be doing 1000 crunches a day like 90’s era Britney. He’s also just extremely pretty. Mary and I kind of whisper talked about this for a few minutes.

bomer boner

M: “Whisper talked” LOL. Those abs tho. I feel like we missed at least 5 minutes of plot. I even made a note about them in our movie notebook. Please excuse my penmanship, it was really dark in there.

magic mike

C: The boys are traveling to the annual stripper convention in Myrtle Beach over July 4th weekend, one last ride since Dallas has left the country to start some sort of Chinese male strip show — this seems character accurate — and he took Alex Pettyfer’s character with him. We aren’t sad about this.

M: Right. Dallas isn’t dead, but he’s dead to them. There’s a bit of plot in here about what they all want to do with their lives now, and how they want this last convention to end their stripper male entertainer careers in a “tsunami of dollar bills.” But Matt Bomer was just lounging there on the bed the whole time with no shirt on, so the details are a little hazy.

C: Tarzan might have fed Mike false information to get him there, but they really want Mike to join up with him and come dance his pants off for the adoring ladies one last time. The adoring ladies in the audience want this to happen too. We weren’t even the loudest people in the theater. That’s never happened before and it was fantastic. Mary and I want to invite the ladies from two rows behind us to ALWAYS sit two rows behind us.

C: Mike tells the guys he can’t because he’s got this serious life now, but then later when he’s making furniture Spotify tempts him with the greatest song known to man:

pony cant't fight it

C: XXL is really a road trip movie, and possibly my new favorite road trip movie of all time, replacing the highly underrated teen masterpiece Shag. The boys are adorably bro-y and happy to have Mike back on their fro-yo bus. That’s right the fro-yo bus that Tito is going to use to start his artisnal fro-yo business. I’m not going to lie, his flavors sound really good and he’s cute so I’d be at his truck every day.

M: Everyone is happy that is, except Ken (Matt Bomer). He’s looking awfully salty (Spoiler – he’s mad that Mike abandoned them to follow his Dreams, and later Mike takes a dick punch to make amends). I only mention it because this was one of the tiny threads of plot they threw in to make this movie deeper.

C: Along the way the boys stop at a drag show and end up on stage, shaking their asses and winning $400 in coke dusted bills. Afterwards they end up at a beach party, where Mike meets this movie’s love interest, Zoe, the surly, hipster photographer played by Amber Heard. Mary and I aren’t fans. NAF (when I worked in social work I had a coworker who hated a particular consumer, so every time I typed up a letter for him I put NAF in there somewhere to give her a little passive aggressive joy).

M: Zoe was a wet blanket. I’m not really sure what the point of her character was, since there was no doing it in this movie (D- for doing it, because there was no D). She shows up every 20 minutes or so to act like that obnoxious art student girl you knew in college who is super arty and above everything. Not really the heroine we wanted in a stripper movie. Possibly the heroine we deserved for going to see this though.

C: The guys decide to all take Molly on their second day of driving, I’ve never done it but they seem to be enjoying it, and this leads to a hilariously adorable conversation about their feelings and dreams and how they should all do new dances that truly represent their inner male entertainer. Big Dick Ritchie isn’t a fireman, he’s scared of fire! Which is how we get the best scene in the whole movie, and the best movie scene in a convenience store of all time (Sorry Clerks):

bdr gas station

M: Even if this movie had been terrible, and it wasn’t – we really had fun watching it, I’d still say that it was worth it for Joe Manganiello’s convenience store dance.

C: The molly also makes them wreck the fro-yo truck. The dark side of drugs!!

M: I also feel like I need to confess, this is about the point where C asked me who the actor was playing Tarzan, and I was all, “DUH, it’s Mickey Rourke.” It isn’t. It’s Kevin Nash. I know, I KNOW. In my defense, he looks like this for most of the movie, and I don’t think he had taken off his sunglasses yet:

Kevin nash

C: Now they need help, because they have no car and no emcee, so Mike takes the crew to this amazing male stripper pleasure house run by Jada Pinkett Smith, who is tiny and Does Not Age. Seriously she looks fantastic.


C: Her stripper hive is AMAZING, this movie was written 100% for the female view. Its all about ladies being Queens and men being objects who are there to ask a woman what she wants and give it to them. If this was a real place in our town, Mary and I would be there once a month, making it rain our meager dollar bills. We wondered how they get all the dollar bills picked up there, they have to just like sweep that cash up with a broom.

M: Actually, C – in Joe Manganiello’s documentary, La Bare, there’s a guy who’s entire job is to work the fog machine and pick up the dollar bills and put them into a walmart bag. And if you haven’t seen La Bare yet (CLEONE), you really should check it out. It’s definitely my favorite documentary, all about these sad, douchey male strippers with visions of grandeur. In Real Life, male strippers aren’t like these beautiful movie strippers, sadly.

C: Jada’s Rome is the lucky employer of the absolutely adorable Donald Glover wearing the cutest outfit ever:

donald glover mmxxl

M: You can’t see it, but that suit has the most fabulous sheen, almost like black lamé. With his little abs? And his little hat?

C: When they arrived at the cat house, Mary said she hoped Donald Glover was going to be there and I thought she meant Danny Glover and I was so confused because he probably feels like he’s too old for that shit.

M: At least you didn’t mistakenly think you were staring at Mickey Rourke for 45 minutes.

C: Rome also talks Mike into dancing to prove he’s sorry for past transgressions? I wasn’t entirely clear on the motivations here, there was whiskey in my cherry vanilla coke and nothing but pretty boys on screen, I can’t be blamed!

M: I actually caught that part. Rome and Mike “had a thing,” which ended when Mike took his first job stripping, and she locked him out of the house. They’ve got unfinished business between them, which pretty much just means sexual tension. Mike proves whatever he needs to prove to her by doing some amazing stripper acrobatics and making all the women shower him in dollar bills like a broken ATM machine. Literally. They’re just holding stacks of money and flicking them off the top, over Mike’s beautiful body. Also note: Mike only strips off his shirt, to our great disappointment. There is no pants removal in this scene.

C: The next stop on our magical mystery tour is to spend the night with some girl that Tito met at the beach party (by met assume we mean banged). The girl is there, and so is her cougar mom played by Andie MacDowell, drinking fancy wine with her cougar friends and lamenting that she has only ever known one penis her entire life. That’s a super valid thing to be sad about, but is this really how moms talk in front of their daughters?

Matt Bomer sings, its incredibly cute. Big Dick Ritchie wonders if maybe Andie MacDowelll is his glass slipper of vaginas who can take his big dick whole, and Mike discovers that grumpy girl is also there. Still being emo and not particularly charming. Maybe mean girls are his thing?

M: Mike follows Zoe into the kitchen, where she’s sitting on the counter eating directly off of a practically whole red velvet cake, and this really bothered me. Who does that? It’s incredibly rude. There was only like one slice missing, presumably someone else planned on eating some of that cake. Why not just put a slice on a plate? She confesses that she’s upset because someone told her she’s a shitty photographer and she’s not going to NYC now, and for fucksake can we stop trying to make plot happen in this thing?

C: The movie has just been kind of meandering along, in a very fun way, but the boys finally arrive in Myrtle Beach after the cougars nest to find Rome, Donald Glover, and Mike’s new stripper best friend Twitch waiting for them. They get down to training. I love a good putting on  a show montage.

M: The montage is so fun, you guys. They’re all sewing costumes and working on their dance routines. Big Dick Richie is even doing some set construction, which probably should have been Mike’s job because, you know, he build’s furniture for a living? But anyways, they’re all getting down to business, having a good time, being bro-y, and working on their stripper stuff.

C: The big stripping extravaganza closes out the movie. Its fantastic. The loud girls behind us were going nuts and the screenwriter deserves some sort of giving the fans exactly what they want award. Minus the part where there was no doin’ it, but at least all the boys took their pants off. PANTS OFF DANCE OFF.


my pony

high five

M: Mike and Twitch do a fantastic “mirror” routine, and finally, we get some tear-away pants! Zoe is in the audience, so Mike uses her as his chair girl, and she finally smiles! That’s the resolution of this romance, yawn.

Also, I think that if there really is a giant male stripper convention each year, it’s definitely something C and I should probably road trip to. Some research is in order.

C: XXL was a lot of fun. We are endorsing it strongly, and think ladies nights are in order for all our bitches. Take a flask, be loud, ogle some abs.