Book Review: Hers, Untamed

review-cover-hers untamedTitle: Hers, Untamed

Author: Anna Adler

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Alyssa Cressfield always wanted a pet—a big, sexy man who would look impressive on a leash. Now, she is finally ready to realize her dream. She visits a pet training center, intending to buy a trained pet. Instead she finds Jax, a fierce human-alien hybrid freshly caught from space, still untamed and unbroken. Alyssa has never encountered an untamed pet before. She can’t resist temptation; she must have him.

On Silenia, it is customary for humans to keep other intelligent species as pets and sex toys. Alyssa is kind at heart, but she is a product of her society and therefore sees nothing wrong with keeping a man in a cage against his will. Jax, on the other hand, is a space pirate who now finds himself wearing a collar and being treated like property. He has no intention of turning tame and obedient, and a battle of wills ensues. Jax and Alyssa quickly discover their undeniable chemistry, but is it enough to reconcile them? What happens when the pet breaks out of his cage?

Note to reader: This is a standalone novel featuring a romance between a human and a human-alien hybrid. While not dark, the story is set in a dystopian society and contains some raunchy sex scenes between the main characters. Recommended for mature readers.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m giving this story a rather tentative 3 stars. Here’s the thing: a lot of readers aren’t going to like this book. It’s firmly in the Erotic Fiction category—not romance as purported. There’s quite a bit of king, some taboo leanings, and there’s a lot of explicit sex. It’s going to be too much for some readers to handle, particularly if they go into the book expecting a romance. If those things don’t interest you, you’re going to want to move on.

That being said, I did have some gripes of my own. Although the level of kink and explicit sex in this book aren’t what I’m personally interested in, they don’t bother me. I read a lot of books, most of those falling squarely in the romance and erotica genres. What does bother me is the very clear association in this book with slavery and abuse. If this story took place in the real world, it wouldn’t be sexy—it’d be horrifying. There are many individuals in the book that are kidnapped, held against their will, mentally broken, and then forced to perform as pets for the wealthy. No matter how it’s justified in the book, it’s wrong. It’s hard for me to appreciate a book that relies on sex and romance to blind the reader to the fact that the main male lead has had his basic rights violated in this manner.

That being said, the book was well written. The romance was steamy, I adored the male lead as a character, and it had a happy ending. All of these are good things—but that doesn’t completely overshadow how intrinsically wrong the main premise of the story is. Even though I liked the book as a whole, I am very uncomfortable with the slavery aspect of its plotline. Because it’s fiction and everything worked out in the end, I’m willing to try to look past the less-than-savory aspects of the plot, but that doesn’t mean they don’t bother me. A lot of readers are not going to enjoy this book because of it.

Another thing I didn’t enjoy was the portrayal of the main female lead. Despite her purported intelligence and expertise, she came across as naïve, wanton, and rather airheaded. She was clever only when it served to thwart the main male lead, but refused to use her intellect to question her own society and their treatment of outside life forms. She questioned nothing that went against her own brainwashed utopian beliefs—and I find it hard to believe that someone so intelligent wouldn’t ask questions.

Overall, it was a fun read. There were definitely parts of the story I enjoyed and some I didn’t, but throughout, I was thoroughly entertained. This book isn’t for everyone. If you’re a sensitive reader, I’d recommend looking for something a bit more traditional, but if you enjoy a taste of the taboo, this is a safe way to be entertained for a few hours.

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Book Review: Caged

review-cover-cagedTitle: Caged [Caged 1]

Author: D.H. Sidebottom

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Erotica, Ménage, Dark

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Judd Asher was taken from his front garden when he was just four years old. After an extensive search he was never found.

Twenty-one years after a random call out, Judd is found chained and beaten in the basement of an old rundown farmhouse where he has lived the life of an animal for the last twenty-one years.

Kloe Grant is assigned as Judd’s personal therapist. It’s her job to rehabilitate him, to guide him back to normal life. But as Judd’s only emotion is rage, Kloe finds it both heart-breaking and challenging mending a soul that’s not only broken but caged inside him by the demons of his past.
However, when Kloe’s relationship with her patient raises some eyebrows, Kloe can’t fight against the powers that want to see her fail, and with an arm behind her back, she walks away, leaving behind a man who has come to live life again for her.

Four years later Judd, now known as Anderson Cain, the darkest and most formidable cage fighter in a world where violence and crime are the only way to keep breathing, Judd finds there’s not a lot in life that can abate the rage that still twists and prowls beneath his skin.

Not until a chance encounter brings him to her door. To the woman with the bluest eyes and the most stunning smile, the woman who took his hand in the darkness and led him through the door into the sun.

But Kloe Grant left him when he needed her the most. She took the only shred of hope and trust he had left and annihilated it. She starved his belief, and she fed his fury.

She owes him. And he’s going to make sure that this time, she pays. In blood. In lust. In pain. And with her soul.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I should have done way more research on my reading choice before I picked up Caged by D.H. Sidebottom. It looked like a bit of a dark romance when I picked it up and based on the description, I had hopes of an interesting if somewhat dark read. This went far beyond that.

Technically speaking, the book was well edited. There weren’t a lot of noticeable typos, grammar issues, or sentence structure problems. The writing was easy to read and follow, and I sunk into the story easily. Does that mean the book was written well? No—but we’ll get into that.

The book was dark—some would say depraved. So if you need a trigger warning, this is it: There is a lot of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in the book. There is torture, murder, stalking, kidnapping, dog mutilation, and rape. There are M/M/F, M/M, and M/F explicit sex scenes which for the most part includes anal, both consensual and nonconsensual to the point of actual bloody harm. This is not going to be a book a lot of people will enjoy.

Still with me? Good. So here’s the issue with this book: if you like horror and dark thrillers, you may get some sort of perverse pleasure out of reading this book. It’s a bit like watching a train wreck because you’re curious to see the dead bodies. It is an interesting book if you in any way enjoy the dark thriller tone. It is not, however, a well-written book. The characters are unrealistic and shoddily slapped together. Kloe was supposed to be a personal therapist for heavily damaged people, and at first she was set up to be just that, but not too long into the book she clearly steps over the line with her patient, Anderson, and it seemed totally at odds with how her character was set up until that point in time. Anderson functioned too well, too quickly for a man that spent 20 years abused, raped, and chained in a basement. Halfway through the book, the story changes into an entirely different one as four years have passed, and Kloe suddenly becomes the kidnap victim of Anderson, and Anderson is now a fairly well-adjusted cage fighter. It’s like the author wrote two books with the same characters, mildly tied together and decided to just make it one. It was weird and clunky, and I didn’t like it. The book was a mess.

Overall, it wasn’t a book I can easily recommend. If you enjoy very dark thrillers or horror, you may enjoy this book, but it certainly isn’t going to be for everyone, or even most people. Read the trigger warning beforehand.

Book Review: His Hostage

review-cover-his hostageTitle: His Hostage

Author: Anna Adler

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Contemporary

Rating: 4 Stars (3.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Evelyn thought she was the luckiest girl in the world when she married Jack Moorland, the handsome heir to a software fortune, after knowing him only for a few months. The fairytale soured when Jack turned out to be selfish, controlling, and unable to perform in bed. Kind and weak-willed Evelyn finds herself trapped in a loveless and sexless marriage. She wants out of her gilded cage, but lacks the confidence to stand up to Jack, who has no intention of letting her go. Being kidnapped by the mysterious burglar Hal becomes a liberating experience. Is it Stockholm syndrome, or is this professional thief exactly the man Evelyn needs in her life?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m going to give this book the benefit of the doubt and give it 4 stars – even though realistically, it was more of a 3.5 for me.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. There were no obvious typos, grammatical errors, or punctuation problems, and the narrative and dialogue flowed smoothly throughout. Zero Problems.

But, here’s the thing: There were moments in this book that stuck out to me as red flags. As steamy and even sweet as the romance between Evie and Hal was at times, there were definite moments when Hall threatened Evie with bodily harm and even rape…. and he was serious. I had genuine concerns at times that Evie wasn’t safe, and in real life, she would have been in serious danger – despite the couple’s attraction to each other.

On the other side of the coin, however, I know this is fiction. It is erotic romance, and for the most part, I think this book caters to readers who may share the fantasy of being kidnapped and seduced by a handsome, dangerous stranger. I get it. I do. Everyone has a dark fantasy or two in the deep recesses of their brain. That’s okay… but it didn’t keep me from wanting to cringe.

As far as the sex went, this book was steamy. There were a few tip of the hats to voyeurism, anal, oral, rough sex, and kidnap/restraint fantasies, and if that’s your thing… you’re going to enjoy this book. If, however, you are put off by anything mentioned above, you may find this book a little too hot to handle. Overall, I liked it. There were some questionable moments that made me cringe, but for the most part, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the story as a whole, even if it wasn’t entirely to my liking.

Free Fiction Friday #69

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #69! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays, every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting, and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than #5. I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so that you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Steamy Reads ! (cause #69 guys. It had to be done. Enjoy!

P.S. It is incredibly difficult to pick erotica books out at Amazon, as there is no specific category for it. I tried my best to pick some hot reads out of what popped up in the romance category – but I’m afraid this list is going to be hit-or-miss for heat, but they should still be some pretty decent reads. Good luck!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: A Lady’s Submission

review-cover-a lady's submissionTitle: A Lady’s Submission [The Warriors of Ar’mora 1]

Author: Frank Carlyle

Genre: Erotica, Historical, Fantasy

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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From what I can tell, this is no longer available on Amazon, I am unsure if it is available elsewhere.

Description/Synopsis:

Last of a clan that once ruled over a vast trade network and determined the fate of empires, Mahlon Arn, has the task of reclaiming a place once lost and now hidden within the jungled corridors of a tributary river that feeds into the mighty Amazon River. It’s a past that almost no one remembers except for the few who dare to return and once more reclaim all that once was and begin to build what is to become.

Journey deep into the jungle and follow the story of a warrior who reclaims a kingdom, only to ache for the completion of a prophecy spoken over him by a dying father. A prophecy that comes in the form of a red haired fantasy lady, who is born up the river by chance and circumstance or perhaps by Divine will, and that must be claimed and utterly brought into submission by the man, who has been tasked to not only reclaim a past but to build a future based on righteousness.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

You know that phrase “I can’t even.”, that’s how I feel about this book. I didn’t get past the first sentence before I realized this was going to be a very difficult read.

The wind whipped viciously back and forth across the land ever strengthened by the rising tempest of the ocean and beat against the rocks of the foundation of the last of the Sea People’s fortresses.

This pretty much summed up the entirety of what I read from that point forward (and I didn’t make it far). The writing was excruciatingly verbose and complicated in structure to the point of being clunky and muddled. Run on sentences, a formal tone with a lack of punctuation, and strange word choices made me cringe. The story didn’t flow, and the dialogue was easily just as formal and unnatural sounding as the narrative.

I thought him beyond speech as he lay staring up into my eyes with all the love of a father that I had yearned to watch grow old and enjoy playing with the offspring of my loins.

I pushed, really pushed to get past the first chapter of this story several times, and finally, I decided the book wasn’t for me. The writing –maybe- would have held up in a high fantasy, but as a historical erotica, it was just… poorly written, and needlessly complicated… and I don’t think it should be a chore to read a book. I couldn’t get past the language to enjoy the characters or the plot, and it was frustrating and tedious. Eventually, I gave up and declared this a DNF.

There may be someone out there that enjoys this kind of writing… but for an erotica novel, where the sex is basically the entire reason for reading the book… the language of the narrative and characters just wasn’t appropriate, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Book Review: My Best Friend’s Bear

review-cover-my best friend's bearTitle: My Best Friend’s Bear [Wild Ties 1]

Author: Eva Thorne

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy, Bear Shifter, Erotica

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Sandra Brown is a recent college graduate stuck in a drifting life. Her days are spent reading about hot guys while her best friend Gem is out dating them. That all changes when her best friend brings home a mysterious and sexy stranger, Daniel Harrison.

At first, Sandra believes that no man as sexy as Daniel would ever give her the time of day. But as time goes by she learns that there’s more to Daniel than there appears to be. Daniel is a bear shifter with a dangerous past, and Sandra might be just the woman to heal his wounds.

This is steamy and sassy romance that contains no cheating, has no cliffhangers, and finishes with a happily ever after that will put a smile on your face and send tingles through your body. It’s the start of a new series but stands alone as an exciting read for anyone who could use a little more romance in their life.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

My Best Friend’s Bear by Eva Thorne was a bit of a mixed bag for me. There were some definite positive qualities to the story… but by the same token, there were a lot of negatives as well.

The book was… well, poorly written if I’m honest. There were numerous typos,  one or two tense problems, and a few formatting errors. They were a little distracting, but not to the point of absurdity—it just made me wonder if the editor that looked over this book really took enough time to properly look over the book. The typos were pretty blatant, and not easily skimmed over, so I feel like even though I received a copy of this book pre-publish date (by about a week), they really should have been cleaned up before hand.

Technical issues aside, the writing seemed a bit rushed, even clunky at times. The sex scenes especially were awkward, sort of skimmed over, and littered with an array of replacement words, as if the author had tried hard not to say the same thing the same way more than once. Look, there’s only so many ways you can describe the same body part… and the more attempts an author makes to rename that body part on one page, the more obvious it becomes that they’re trying too hard to do so. Coupled with the fact that the “romance” was little more than thinly veiled erotica… well, it made the sex scenes sound awkward and not genuine.

Don’t get me wrong though, for all the nitpicky roll-my-eyes moments that the book gave me, it was actually an entertaining read. I really liked the main character and her strange, talkative and humorous voice. She made the narrative fun and surprising, and it was nice seeing a book of this particular genre trying to throw in some humor. I also liked that the main character was a bit of an underdog, and though she wasn’t a skinny, beautiful, sex-bomb like her roommate, she was able to hold her own and eventually learn to appreciate herself—even if she wasn’t perfect.

While not the end all, be all of a romance novel, this was a short, easy read that kept me entertained—and there’s not much more I can ask for. It certainly had it’s fair share of problems, but I’m willing to give it a little leeway because this is a new author. It’ll be interesting to see how the author’s work will evolve as time goes on. Though the book isn’t going to be for everyone, it makes a great light read for someone looking for something fun to devour in a few hours… just try not to take the typos seriously.

Book Review: Shadow

review-cover-shadowTitle: Shadow

Author: Heather West

Genre: Contemporary, Urban, Romance, Erotica

Rating: 3 Stars (3.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Sky
He seems to hate me but I have no idea why.

Or am I mistaking hate for something else?

If only I could remember him. Or anything, really.

Within that perfectly chiseled body, his insides are black—he’s rotten underneath. He’s dangerous, dark, and yet somewhere deep inside myself I know what it feels like to scream his name.

I catch him staring and he pulls away like I’m the poisonous one. He’s a killer. I know it. He lives to harm others. I’m sure those rugged, strong hands have squeezed the life out of many. And yet I still want them on my body.
And he wants it too.

But this is madness. My life is in shambles and adding him to the mix with his murder and mayhem will only make it worse.
So why am I living for the moment I’ll scream his name again?

Shadow
I don’t have room in my life for her bulls***.

But there she goes again, playing the little wounded bird, always needing me to swoop in and save her.

She says she can’t remember what made her shut me out—she can’t remember anything at all. But I see that familiar look in her eyes like she knows how good we made each other feel.

I’m the fool who falls for it again and again. For a wounded bird, she’s got her claws in me deep.

And that’s exactly how I want it. She might not be able to recall her sleek legs wrapped all around me, her perfect ass perched on the bars of my motorcycle in the moonlight, but I’ll never forget it.

This time I’ll keep my guard up. I’ve got bigger things to worry about than Sky taking flight once more. She can’t break my heart again if I don’t give it up.

As if I ever got it back from her the last time.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Honestly, I’m a little up in the air on this particular book. I thought it was going to be a bad boy romance, but it ended up almost being more of an erotica—which is fine if that’s what you’re expecting and what you’re looking for—but it wasn’t what I thought I had when I opened it.

Technically speaking, the book was pretty well written. There were a few problems with word choice and a typo or two, but nothing too distracting or that broke my immersion in the story. I’ve certainly seen a lot worse in the genre—so I tip my hat to the editor. The pacing was steady, the narrative flowed fairly well, and the characters had distinct voices with which they narrated their story.

The sometimes steamy and even raunchy sex scenes fit the characters, and though they sometimes felt like they came out of left field, they mostly fit into the story. It took some getting used to at first to get comfortable with the differences between the language and tone of the sex scenes vs the normal narrative—but I did get used to it eventually.

The premise for the book was interesting though riddled with a handful of plot holes. It was a little hard to sink into, though because I found it difficult to believe that a guy (Shadow) could get together an entire club full of people, his father, and his girlfriend and have them on board with the idea that he was going to murder pedophiles. Yes, pedophiles are awful… but it’s dangerous and stupid to tangle with them while also trying to avoid the law. There was no sort of concern for being caught really, and it struck me as difficult to believe.

Overall, the story was interesting. I liked the characters (for the most part—I’ll admit that Sky came off a little air-headed at times, and Shadow was a bit domineering for my tastes), the interesting plot, and the writing was excellent. I did find it a little hard to engage with—but I think most of that comes from the fact that I wasn’t expecting it to lean so heavily towards Erotica vs. Romance, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the crime aspect of the book. Still a decent read overall. If you like steamy bad-boy romances with an erotic bent, you’ll probably enjoy this book. There is a large portion of the plot dealing with pedophiles and some domineering, but if you’re comfortable with it, read on!