Reap, by Tillie Cole

reap

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 52%

Catnip: Forbidden Romance, Russian Mobsters, Killing Machines, Family Ties, Dual Narrative, Strong Female Lead, The Hamptons, Tame Me, Beauty and the Beast

Shame Scale: It’s a romance novel about a man who has been turned into a literal killing machine and the daughter of his family’s sworn enemies. They’re all Russian Mobsters, and the cover has amazing back porn. Whatever, low shame. We are owning this now.

Fantasy Cast:  Kellan Lutz, Clare Bowen

Book Description:

 

Raised as a prototype for the Georgian Bratva’s obedience drug, 221 fails to think, act, or live for himself; he’s his master’s perfectly-crafted killing puppet. Standing at six-foot-six, weighing two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, and unrivaled in to-the-death combat, 221 successfully secures business for the Georgian Mafiya Boss of NYC, who rules the dark world of the criminal underground. Until his enemies capture him.

Talia Tolstaia dreams to break from the heavy clutches of Bratva life. She dreams of another life–away from the stifling leash of her Russian Bratva Boss father and from the brutality of her work at The Dungeon, her criminal family’s underground death-match enterprise. But when she stumbles upon her family’s captive who is more monster than man, she starts to see the man underneath. A powerful, beautiful, damaged man whose heart calls to hers. But sacrifices must be made–blood for blood…life for life…souls for scarred souls…

 


The Shame Girls are Tillie Cole fan-girls. Over the past three months Mary and I have sped through the Hades Hangmen series, and now both books of her new Scarred Souls series. Cole writes for-real anti heroes. Her men are dark, brooding, and have no problem getting blood on their hands. Her writing is good enough to make the violence not only bearable, but almost enjoyable. Plus we kind of have a thing for Russians here at My Book Shame. Can we count ability to handle your vodka as a catnip?

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Raze, by Tillie Cole

Raze 2

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Mortal Kombat, Russian Mobsters, Amnesia, Revenge, Dangerous Criminal Villain, Star-crossed Lovers, Virgin

Shame Scale: Low.

Fantasy Cast:  Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy

Book Description:

TO TAKE BACK LIFE, ONE MUST FIRST FACE DEATH…

Conditioned in captivity to maim, to kill and to slaughter, prisoner 818 becomes an unrivaled and unstoppable fighter in the ring. Violence is all he knows. After years of incarceration in an underground hell, only one thought occupies his mind: revenge… bloody, slow and violent revenge. Revenge on the man who wronged him. 
Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill ‘The Silencer’ Volkov, head of the infamous ‘Red’ bosses of New York’s Russian Bratva. Her life is protected. In reality, it’s a virtual prison. Her father’s savage treatment of his rivals and his lucrative and coveted underground gambling ring-The Dungeon-ensures too many enemies lurk at their door. She dreams to be set free. Kisa has known only cruelty and loss in her short life. While working for her church-the only reprieve in her constant surveillance-Kisa stumbles across a tattooed, scarred, but stunningly beautiful homeless man on the streets. Something about him stirs feelings deep within her; familiar yet impossibly forbidden desires. He doesn’t talk. Doesn’t communicate with anyone.

He’s a man beyond saving. But Kisa becomes obsessed with him. Yearns for him. Craves his touch. Needs to possess this mysterious man… … this man they call Raze.


Tillie Cole really impressed us with her Hades Hangmen series, so I was super excited to tuck into Raze, the first book of four in the Scarred Souls series: Russian mafia, underground Mortal Kombat fighting, star-crossed lovers, and amnesia. It basically has everything. 

Prisoner 818 (Raze) has been imprisoned in an underground cell in a deplorable Russian Gulag prison/fighting club for as long as he can remember. Like, he literally can’t remember anything before being brought there as a boy years ago; he has been shocked, tortured, and drugged till he had no recollection of his identity. He has been forced into death match fighting, and he is a monstrous killing machine filled with nothing but hate, with over 600 kills under his belt. His only goal is revenge on the man who did this to him; he has a name and an address in Brooklyn carved on the wall of his cell. Raze has no idea about the specifics of why he needs revenge, but the wall says he needs to kill him, so, YOLO. Then one day the prisoners overpower the guards and he escapes. With nothing on his mind but revenge, he heads to NY.

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The Master, by Kresley Cole

the master

Grade: A

Doing it at: 9%

Catnip: Alpha Hero; Strong Female Lead; Russians Mobsters; BDSM; Pretty Woman; Funny Girls; He’s basically a criminal; Deep Dark Secret; Secret Identity; Chastity Belt; #Teamanal; Wall Sex; Dick Glamoured

Shame Scale: You do NOT want to read this one anywhere where ANYONE minus one of your very special book-shame-sharing-friends might see the text. There is so much doin’ it, this is a magnificently high shame book, book snobs would not endorse this. We endorse it though, strongly

Fantasy Cast: Clive Standen and Gina Rodriguez

Book Description:

“A need colder than Siberian winter meets an attitude hotter than the Florida sun in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s sultry new Game Maker novel.

Everyone fears the Master…
Rich, irresistible politician/Mafiya boss Maksimilian Sevastyan prefers tall, obedient blondes to fulfill his…complicated desires. That is, until the icy Russian encounters a disobedient brunette whose exquisite little body threatens his legendary restraint.

Except her.

Catarina Marín was a well-off young wife until her world fell apart. Now she’s hiding out, forced to start working as an escort in Miami. Her very first client is beyond gorgeous, but when he tells her what he plans to do to her, Cat almost walks out of the door.

If pleasure is a game, play to win.
After their mind-blowing encounter burns out of control, the lovers crave more. If they escape the deadly threats surrounding them, can Maksim overcome his past–to offer Cat his future? Only then will she tempt him with what he really wants: her, all tied up with a bow.”


I’m going to tell this recap like Stefan describing the hottest new nightclub in NYC, because this book?

stefon 4

Secret identities, prostitution, murder, chastity belts, sex in quaint covered bridges, nipple clamps, Russians with troubled childhoods, private jets, a makeover montage. EVERYTHING. If you, like me and all my 10-year-old friends, saw Pretty Woman as a kid and thought it was terrifically romantic you are going to love this book. It has everything you loved about Pretty Woman with 100% more deep throating and anal shower sex. Richard Gere would definitely approve.

The Master opens with Cat Marin, nee Ana Lucia, on her way to Maksim Sevastyan’s swanky penthouse to serve as his “date” for the night. Cat has never done this before, she’s been on the run from her nefarious-attempted murderer-gold digging-grifter-husband for three years, moving from city to city, working jobs that don’t require a real ID, and plotting to finish school and finally run far enough that he’ll never find her. To get out of Miami she needs some serious cash. One of the people whose house she cleans (her actual job) is an escort, and has been trying to convince the young, gorgeous, bootylicious Cat to do the same. Cat had been waffling until she spotted someone who she’s fairly certain is her scary ex, Edward in town; so when Ivana calls and asks Cat to cover a “date” that she has to cancel on with a high-rolling Russian, Cat agrees. The Russian is a “hobbyist” in escort speak and a high roller to boot, Ivana tells Cat that this one job could earn her like 10 grand and our Cat is no dummy so of course she goes. Plus she figures, maybe he’ll be hot and give her the schtupping she’s been needing because she hasn’t had sex in YEARS.

stefon shock

Cat almost backs out at the last-minute, but she balls up and knocks on his door; and is majorly rewarded, because Maksim Sevastyan is HOT. Like Cat is thanking Jesus Cristo in her native Spanish. Maksim however is less pleased, he was expecting his usual type: tall, blonde, thin. Instead he got Cat: short, curvy, dark-haired, and with a grande culo that does not quit. At first he wants to immediately send her on her way for not being as requested. But then he sees that ass (this is really what happens, I’m not just being a jerk) and changes his mind; maybe she can stay after all. Maksim offers her 3K to “be amenable to his interests” which equals him tying his partner up, gagging her, beating her with a crop, and taking her from behind. Cat is all “That sounds…interesting…lets do it my way instead” – I’m paraphrasing that- So they do do it her way and he loves it, but afterward he goes stone cold. Cat’s not up for his asshole bullshit (Go Cat!), so she struts her sweet ass out of there and pretty much wins book reader hearts forever:

Mocking sneer in place, he said, “You’re supposed to tell me how I moved heaven and earth for you. You’re supposed to fawn over me, increasing your chances that I’ll book you again.”

…..

“Oh, baby boy, don’t you know statistics? Chances can’t be improved from one hundred percent.”

Cat, of course is correct, Maksim goes to great lengths to book her again and when he gets her back to his penthouse playground he has booked her for a full night. He has the intention to fuck her right out of his system. She has told him before that he’s her first client, but he doesn’t believe her, you know because he’s a world-weary Russian billionaire who had a really bad childhood. So he doesn’t believe anything she tells him. But he’s dying to know more about her because she’s giving him things sexually that he never knew he needed. In his attempt to fuck her right out of his hair they have wall sex, and pool sex, and he performs oral on her multiple times (even though he’s NEVER done that before, but don’t worry guys he’s super good at it because they always are, right), and she lets him have sex with her without a condom because she’s drunk on champagne and his cock. In the morning Maksim is all happy-go-lucky and tells Cat he wants to keep her the rest of his time in Miami and she agrees; after some negotiating and offering of large sums of money that will enable her to get far far away from her murderous ex after Maksim leaves town. But, since nothing in a romance novel can run smooth, Maxim decides that Cat was trying to trick him into getting her pregnant. Which she wasn’t, our girl is way better than that and she agrees to let the Dr. whom Maksim summons give her both the morning-after-pill AND an IUD. Cat is a much better woman than I, if a guy who was paying me for sex called a strange doctor to a hotel room to insert an IUD into my uterus I would holler HARD LIMIT and flee.

After the forced birth control Maksim essentially kidnaps Cat and makes her his sex slave for the next week.

spicy

The next 60% of the book is just sex scenes, with some shopping–Cat orders the most room service ever (just lobster on top of lobster por favor), a treadmill, tons of new clothes, a manicurist, etc–, and travel, and murder confessions thrown in for good measure. So. Much. Sex. With so much vivid writing about the sex, some highlights because sharing is caring:

“Uhhn!” His mighty thighs quaked around my ears.”You’re taking my cum before I’m ready!”

“Semen shot so forcefully into my sheath, I whimpered; liquid heat bathed it like a balm”

“As he moved to the top of the bed, his huge shaft wagged, catching my gaze and making me want”

Even for a trashy romance there’s a surprising amount of oral in this book, it led to this actual messenger conversation between the mybookshame gals:

C: I’m reading a book where so much cum has been swallowed and I’m only at 42%

M: She’s basically surviving on cum and lobster

C: Yes. She’s doing OK!

PP: That diet’s gonna give her gout

The Master also has a real live chastity belt that the heroine wears (and likes), anal sex that makes Maksim so proud of Cat, and Cat being a general sassy bad ass who Mary and I like a million times more than any wishy-washy heroine we’ve encountered lately. This book features characters from The Professional, book one in Cole’s Game Maker series, including Jess! Jess is the sassy out of hand best friend of every girl’s dreams— well if you’re the kind of girl who can forgive your best friend for giving your mom an accidental Molly on your wedding day. Who cares if mom’s rolling! This girl is fun! Mary and I have high hopes that Jess is going to be the girl to conquer the third Sevastyan brother’s heart in an upcoming book.

If you’re looking for a light, sex-heavy, fun read, and aren’t squeamish about a teensy bit of kidnapping and spanking and forced gyno exam giving, then I gleefully recommend The Master.

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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.

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Burying Water, by K.A. Tucker

burying water

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 38%, but not again till 64%

Catnip: Amnesia; Multiple Timelines; Russian Mobsters; Dangerous Criminal Villain; Hot Cars; Cheating; Dual Narrative; Hot Car

Shame scale: Beige. There’s a plot, decent writing, not much doing it. The cover looks YA, so that’s got to be a tiny bit shame-y

Fantasy casting: Ten years ago Milo Ventimiglia, Hayden Panettiere

Book description: 

“Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him? Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried. The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.”

Burying Water starts out with Jesse finding a girl beaten almost to death in the snow in the middle of nowhere. The rest of the book is told from Jesse’s perspective in the past and Alex’s in the present. We pick up with Alex in the hospital, where she wakes up with horrible injuries and total amnesia – no idea who she is, no memories of her life at all. She makes friends with her doctor (Jesse’s mom) while she is recuperating, and when it is time for her to leave, her doctor sets her up in an apartment on their next door neighbor’s property. Alex begins building a new life, but struggles to know who she was Before. We know that Jesse clearly has a history with her, (from the past storyline chapters), but we don’t know why he’s keeping her life a secret from her.

Meanwhile, in the past – Jesse meets Alex – a sad, beautiful woman who is married to an awful Russian mobster. Jesse is a mechanic, and Alex’s husband hires him to fix up some kind of impressive classic car (that meant pretty much nothing to me because car speak is gobbledygook). While he works on the car, he gets to know Alex, sees how unhappy she is with her scary husband (who is indiscreetly indiscretion-ing), and the two begin an affair.

Neither of these characters really stood out to me in a big way. Jesse seemed like a nice twenty-something guy who falls for a girl, but he’s almost passive about the whole thing. He sees that Alex’s husband is abusing her, but he does nothing to fix the situation. When she cuts off contact with him, he doesn’t chase her. Jesse in the present was much more appealing to me, but his rationale for keeping Alex in the dark (about her whole identity!) felt shaky to me at best. And Alex…was kind of weak. She felt like a generic nice girl, who married a mobster but honestly didn’t see what an asshole he was until well into the marriage?

This one started out really strong for me. I was texting Cleone that I found a great book she absolutely HAD to read. All the catnip was there: Multiple timelines, Russian mobsters, cute boy with a hot car, danger, freaking AMNESIA… But things started to drag towards the middle of the book. While the plot seemed to have a lot of potential mystery, all of the questions were pretty easy to guess the answers to. I felt like they gave too much away. And when the big reveal happened and Alex found out who she was and that everyone had been lying to her, she accepted it pretty quickly and they wrapped up everything with a big bow. By the end of the book, I started skimming, because everything felt like a recap of the first half of the book. The main conflict towards the end of the book was Jesse recapping the events that led up to Alex’s beating, and that was all information you could pretty much infer from the first half of the book.

It was a good story, interesting format, and overall, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. Like I said, the characters felt weak, and things dragged a bit, then wrapped up too neatly. As a shame read, it was pretty beige (like this review, HA!). Nothing made me blush. K.A. Tucker is a great writer, none of the dialog made me eye-roll. Very little sex, and vanilla at that. I’d recommend this one if you could get it out of the library or borrow it from a friend.

Amazon