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Fresh Fridays: Killing June (Saved by Sin #1) by May B Bridges

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Saved by Series

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Killing June (from Goodreads):

SEDUCED BY PAIN
At night I’m June, dominating with the whip, even as I crave the hot, searing blow of the cane, myself. I loathe this side of who I am, but I can’t deny it or escape it. And as my clients cry out for me, begging for mercy, I can’t help but want June dead.

By day, I’m Alex Ryan, the good, successful Southern woman everyone thinks I am. I’ve compartmentalized my life to make it bearable, and to get what I want most: revenge. I can have a future with June dead, as soon as I confront the man that terrorized my past.

SAVED BY SIN
Cade Brannon is the local gun for hire, part of the seedy underworld of Dallas, but he may also be my savior. I want his help and he wants me. But Cade refuses to play by my rules and is forcing his way into every one of those compartments that I want to lock away. Now the parts of my life I’ve fought so hard to keep separate are bleeding together and it’s tearing me apart.

I just want to go back to being Alex Ryan. But at what cost am I willing to kill June?

breakdown

Series: Saved by Sin Trilogy
Author: May B Bridges
# of Books: 3 (Killing June, Binding Hope, Revealing Rose)
Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, Binding Hope, is to be published
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: High \ Kink: Major)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 4, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you St. Martin’s Press!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Killing June at 63%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always a sucker for the line “perfect for fans of ___” and this time it was for fans Laurelin Paige. Specifically, her dark erotic suspense series First and Last. Paige is one author I absolutely adore and read everything for so finding works like hers is a bonus. She has a great blend of suspense, romance and danger and I couldn’t wait to see if Killing June had that too.

What I Liked:

–Air of Danger Throughout–

This story was great at establishing the suspense early on by giving you little tastes of danger. Alex has a mysterious past that slowly gets revealed; Robert is a character who has no limits and Cade is an enigma. It also doesn’t shy away from violent situations–which always gives the reader the feeling of uncertainty in terms of what will happen next. Nothing is predictable.

–Alex–

I really liked her as a character. She has so many layers to her and watching her develop as a character was a treat.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Felt Like Nothing Was Happening–

Frankly, I just wanted a little more from the plot. Once you get past the exposition, I felt like the story just moseyed along, keep its focus on the sexy times. There was just so much untapped potential here!

You have Alex’s mysterious past and her need for vengeance. And I’m all for a delayed reveal but I needed a little taste here and there to keep me interested. What happened to her?! Why is she targeting this guy and why does everyone tell her it isn’t a good idea?

Robert’s character definitely had my attention but I felt like he was a little under utilized. I think I needed a little more conflict from the “villain” instead of just “waiting it out” and avoiding his antagonism by our “heroes”.

Will I Finish It?

I’m not sure. I don’t think it helped that I was working a particularly busy shift schedule at work so I really needed something to keep me interested. But I really did like the characters and I really did enjoy the idea of the plot so I’d like to see how it all ends.

My Rating: DNF

overall

If you want an erotica romance that focuses more on the sexy times and character development, this is it. But if you want more suspense than sex, perhaps look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: erotica, character based stories, dark romance
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM

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Series Review: Surrender by Lauren Smith

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Gilded Cuff (from Goodreads):

Every passion has its price . . .

Journalist Sophie Ryder has been following Emery Lockwood’s story since she was a little girl. There has always been something in his haunted eyes that she couldn’t resist and now, when she’s certain he holds the key to solving a string of kidnappings, she’ll do anything to speak to him. Even if it means venturing deep into the seductive world of the Gilded Cuff, a luxurious BDSM club on Long Island’s Gold Coast and Emery’s personal playground.

From the moment Sophie enters his shadowy, sensual domain, Emery Lockwood knows this tantalizing new little sub was meant to belong to him. However, Sophie wants more from Emery than just pleasure . . . she wants his past. And that is something he isn’t willing to give—no matter who is asking. But every moment he spends with Sophie, Emery feels his control slipping and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he surrenders to her heart, body, and soul.

breakdown

Series: Surrender
Author: Lauren Smith
# of Books: 3 (The Gilded Cuff, The Gilded Cage, The Gilded Chain)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: A 4th book may be released
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Suspense
Heat Rating: hot (BDSM: high, Kink: mild)
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: Februrary 2015 – November 2015
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read and LOVED Lauren Smith’s Her British Stepbrother Series last year. She writes addicting romances and I couldn’t wait to see what she could do with a full length trilogy.

I’m slowly getting into the world of romantic suspense but haven’t been overly successful. Either you get a thriller that is more thriller than romance or the complete opposite, with an erotica that only has a dash of a plot. So trying to find that perfect series was seeming like a fruitless effort but this one seemed more than promising.

The Concept:

I don’t overly enjoy BDSM novels. Alpha males are something that–obviously–come with the territory and they more often than not irk me. However, BDSM novels are the ones that have the exciting and dangerous plotlines that I adore so I pick them up and hope for the best.

This one had the right balance between sexy times and suspenseful ones. I’d say the first 20% is dedicated to the sexual tension, the next 50% is a mix of plot and romantic developments and the last 30% is the suspense. It has that little bit of everything to satisfy the various audiences that will be drawn to this title.

The Plot:

The first two novels have an overarching plotlines so it was exciting to watch it develop. Whereas the third has its own suspenseful plotline though I didn’t find it as dangerous as the previous two.

Regardless, as I said before, this one had the right balance between romantic developments and dramatic ones. I found these books to be really addicting and I enjoyed them immensely.

The Characters:

I really liked all of these characters–even the alpha males. They all have their flaws and their strengths and that just made them all seem genuine to me. I also liked that they were all unique. I didn’t feel like I was reading carbon copies of the previous leads–they all have their own personalities and thought processes so I never got bored with them.

The Romance:

While these romances are based on insta-connections, I really didn’t mind them as much as I usually do when I come across insta-love stories. All these pairs just work together and I think knowing the characters’ histories as you do really helps to establish these romances. Sure, I would have liked the characters to have known each other more than a few days before they are professing their love for each other, but their fast feelings made sense to me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really hoping a certain character will be getting his own story sometime soon!

Series Rating: 4/5

The Gilded Cuff 4/5 | The Gilded Cage 4/5 | The Gilded Chain 3.5/5

overall

I finally found a contemporary romantic suspense novel that strikes the right balance between romance and plot line!

Read if You Like: romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM based novels
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Series Review: Dark Desires by Zara Cox

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Dark Desires Series

 booksynopsis

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beautiful Liar (Formerly Porn Star) (from Goodreads):

People call me many things: CEO, billionaire, bastard. Q.

I love women. I love sex. I love money. I love hot, wild nights with no promise of a future, because a future is one thing I don’t have. I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.

Nobody plans for a life like this. Some of us just end up here.

They call me Lucky, though luck has never been on my side. Before I met Q, my life was a big, twisted mess. Never enough money, never anyone to trust. No way out. With Q, the shame and fear disappear. Instead I feel pure pleasure, and that’s something I’ve never had before. But if what I’ve just learned is true, we’d better enjoy every second together while we can…before our time runs out.

breakdown

Series: I Series or Dark Desires
Author: Zara Cox
# of Books: 3 (Beautiful Liar, Black Sheep, Arrogant Bastard)

Please Note: Beautiful Liar was previously published as I, Porn Star; and Porn Star

There is a novella #2.5 Wicked SOB

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Arrogant Bastard is to be published is to be published in August 2017
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Dark, BDSM, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high  |  Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ok, I’m not going to lie: the title drew me in. I was browsing through my blog reader when Karine @ Bookshelf Dreaming‘s Release Day Blitz for I, Porn Star (what the book was first published as) popped up. Curious, I clicked on it wanting to know more about the story for a book titled “Porn Star”.

Now, depending on what title’s summary you read (“I, Porn Star” vs “Porn Star” and lately “Beautiful Liar”), the synopses differ but the stories are all the same. My first impression of I, Porn Star was that this is a book about two people falling in love while making a series of porn videos. My first impression of Porn Star was about the same, only there was this added element of suspense with the line:

“I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.”

Hook, line and sinker.

What I Liked:

–It’s A Dark Read–

It’s been a while since I’ve read a great “dark” romance. It’s hard to totally describe what I mean here but I’ll try.

Some dark romances take things that little bit too far in the hopes they’ll achieve shock factor. I often find these attempts make things seem over the top or almost cheesy. Part of the problem is the use of one-dimensional characters that the reader only knows surface stuff about.

However, where Porn Star succeeds is in its character development. These are complex characters–Quinn in particular is extremely layered–and it shows throughout the novel. So it makes their actions seem polished and expected. I didn’t feel like anything was out of character nor did I feel like they were changing their minds on a dime for unnecessary dramatic effect.

–The Twists–

I really liked how things came out of left field here sometimes; meaning there were a lot of great twists that surprised me. There were aspects of each character’s life that are kept secret until the last minute and they really amp up the story and shock you. It’s been a long time since a book surprised me in that respect.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Many Pages–

This is by no means a fast read. There are a lot of pages to get through and it makes the story lag a bit. This book could have easily been 50 pages shorter in my opinion. It just took longer than expected to get to the good stuff (ie the romance and the “mystery”) and I was losing interest just after the halfway point.

I feel like too much time was spent in the exposition. While I appreciate the time taken to get to know the characters and understand their motives, I just wanted to dive into the grittiness of it all. I wanted to start to uncover Quinn’s big plan sooner rather than later. And I also wanted what is described in the synopsis (ie their filming of videos) to happen much sooner than 50% of the way through. Not that I wanted the sex scenes (which were tamer than I expected btw); rather, in the synopsis it seemed like the sex tapes were going to be a major plot point and usually those points are introduced around the 20% mark. I mean, that’s why I am likely reading the book in the first place–that is what’s advertised.

–Insta-Connection Romance–

I’m starting to dislike this insta-connection more so than insta-love. Yes, there is a difference for me even if they do seem pretty synonymous.

Despite the longer exposition, I still didn’t see the connection between Lucky and Q all that much besides their physical attraction. Their romantic feelings seem more implied–like there is some unspoken thing drawing them together. I like things spelled out for me and I didn’t totally get that with the romance.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There is a teaser at the end of the Forever Publishing edition for the sequel Black Sheep so I expect it will come out sometime next year. The choice of character is someone we didn’t see all that much in Porn Star but from what I glanced at in the teaser, it looks like it’ll be just as juicy drama-wise as Porn Star

updates

–March 9, 2017– Book #2: Black Sheep

I went into Black Sheep expecting a dark and twisted story…and that is exactly what I got!

This book excelled in everything I wanted it to. A heartbreaking romance, lots of drama and twisted secrets. It’s probably one of the darkest stories I’ve ever read and I loved that.

For me, this book was a vast improvement over its predecessor. The romance is stronger thanks to a great backstory and it tugs on your heartstrings from start to finish. It is also a source of great drama and intrigue as well. Unlike the previous novel, I found the story never truly lagged. There were great plot and dramatic twists along the way that this book was always suspenseful.

This was a highly addictive read for me and one that met every expectation!

–July 11, 2017– Book #2.5: Wicked S.O.B.

While I loved the drama of Beautiful Liar, I wasn’t totally sold on the romance. So I was eager for this novella to rectify that.

And it definitely did!

For me, I actually got to see why these two are a good match as lovers and as partners in life. Instead of focusing on the antics and drama of the previous novel, you get to watch these characters try to establish a sense of everyday normalcy. It’s all about their relationship and navigating it in a way that works for them. It really grounded these characters for me and improved my overall impression of them as a couple.

But it definitely has that spice you expect from this series. If these two weren’t talking out their relationship, they were physically exploring it.

It also has some great nostalgia to the original novel that brings everything full circle.

It’s a solid novella that has enough heat and romance to satisfy fans!

My Rating: 3/5

Porn Star 3/5 | Black Sheep 4/5 | [Wicked S.O.B.] 3.5/5 

overall

If you want a dark erotica romance that takes its time, this is the PERFECT novel for you. But if you want something quick and dirty, try another novel.

Read if You Like: dark romance, erotica
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM

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Movie Mondays: Fifty Shades of Grey

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James | Movie: Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK(s)

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: Fifty Shades Trilogy
Author: E.L. James
Genre: Erotica, BDSM, Romance, Adult, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

As I said in my series review, I did enjoy the series of Fifty Shades of Grey because I can recognize that it is fiction and it is supposed to be a fantasy.

Does that mean I agree with the message? No.

Do I think they are the greatest books ever written? Of course not.

But I can say I was thoroughly entertained when I read them and I found them to be highly addicting (I read them all in a weekend–not that they are very complex books in the first place).

Part of that reason is the pursuit of Ana by Christian. To me, it does border on the obsessive (which is something I really struggle with when reading BDSM novels; they sometimes straddle that line between abusive and consensual and I have a hard time digesting that), but it was entertaining and I loved the sexual tension. I’m sure I’m not the only girl in the world who wouldn’t mind if a handsome (minus the BDSM fetish) billionaire pursuing regular old me–and the book sales alone prove that this is the case because that is what this series provides: a fantasy.

Christian isn’t really my type of guy but I really loved him with Ana in the later books (once we move away from the sex-only chapters). And I really liked Ana. Sure, some of her narration is a little silly and she is naive early on, but I didn’t find her annoying. I liked that she challenged him and I thought she complimented Christian well and to me that is the most important thing in a romance novel.

Once we move away from the sex scenes (ie mainly book 1) and actually get some plot, that’s when I started to enjoy the novels. I loved the family drama and trying to figure out Christian’s dark past–which I think that helped to initiate my love for New Adult novels where those plot-lines are present in spades.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, what matters to me is that I read a book that entertained me and kept my attention; and Fifty Shades did that for me. The writing isn’t that great–it is often repetitive–and I could have done without the piles and piles of sex but I enjoyed reading these books. They are definitely not for everyone: but if you want to try a BDSM novel and enjoy over the top drama, this is a good series for you to pick up!

Rating: 4/5
Series Review: Full series review here!

Similar Reads:


The Movie:

I will admit: I am one of those people who followed any movie news about this movie (not that it was a particularly hard thing to do because it was everywhere) so it isn’t a huge surprise I went to see Fifty Shades opening weekend.

I’ll start with the casting, because I think that is the most important thing about this movie. When Charlie Hunnam was originally cast as Christian, I wasn’t all that excited. I don’t watch Sons of Anarchy but I could see why they would cast him in the role. But when he dropped out, I was eagerly awaiting to see who would be cast. So when Jamie Dornan was cast, that’s when I got excited for the movie. I loved Jamie when he was on Once Upon a Time so I was happy with the pick. (Though for the record, Ian Somerhalder was my pick for Christian as soon as I read the books.) As for Ana, I wasn’t sure who I wanted in that role–but there were some names tossed out that I knew I didn’t want. Dakota Johnson was an unknown to me but once I saw the promo pics she had the look of Ana so I was fine with that.

When it came to the first trailer, I was actually really disappointed with Jamie and impressed with Dakota. Jamie seemed awkward and not as confident as what I pictured Christian to be; but Dakota acted exactly like I thought Ana would. So when it came to the actual movie, I had no idea what to expect. And I kept it that way by avoiding reviews (which is hard with trending social media) before I went to go see it.

And in the end, I thought both of the actors did very well considering the source material’s awful dialogue. Dakota acted exactly like Ana did in the novels and she did a great job. Jamie took me a while to get used to, but I really warmed up to him as Christian as the movie progressed. I really think his role was hindered because of the dialogue because his mannerisms were perfect. He didn’t have as much intensity as I was expecting (which was the impression I got from the trailer) but I think that was a good thing because it might have come across as creepy. When it comes to their chemistry, I could see why some people might not think it’s there; but to be honest, I never really saw that much chemistry between the two of them at the start of the book either (especially their initial meeting). I thought it got better as the movie progressed–but again, I think the dialogue is what really hurts the chemistry that could be there.

As for the adaptation itself: I think it was pretty true to the books. I’m not sure, it’s been 3 years since I read them but from what I can remember plot-wise it follows pretty close (I often get the first two books mixed up so feel free to correct me). The sex scenes definitely had more nudity than your regular old movie but they weren’t tacky and didn’t show much other than the occasional butt and chest shots.

But I still wouldn’t go see this with your mother 😉

Also, the soundtrack is amazing! The songs were probably the best part of this movie!

(Just a last little tidbit: This movie is only the FIRST book of the series. I thought it was going to be all three so I’m waiting to see if there will be sequels. I know that the director and actors are contracted to do a sequel but I’m not sure if it will happen–it looks possible considering domestic and international box office numbers–and rumours have been swirling that the sequel could be out by next year!)

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the MOVIE. I like how the movie focused more on Christian and Ana trying to establish a relationship than it did on all their sex scenes (ie. it felt more plot focused than sex). It also lacked Ana’s awkward inner monologue. I think book fans will be happy to see the book come to life in this adaptation–and I really didn’t think it was as bad as people were saying. Cheesy at times, yes, but I think that just reflects the cheesiness as the book. But I don’t think it hurt that I went into this movie with low expectations…

Do you agree? Did you go out and see it; or are you going to avoid it at all costs? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Fifty Shades of Grey (from Goodreads): When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Trailer:

Series Review: Sinners on Tour by Olivia Cunning

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

book book book

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Backstage Pass (from Goodreads):
Five stunning guys, one hot woman, and a feverish romance…

For him, life is all music and no play…

When Brian Sinclair, lead songwriter and guitarist of the hottest metal band on the scene, loses his creative spark, it will take nights of downright sinful passion to release his pent-up genius…

She’s the one to call the tune…

When sexy psychologist Myrna Evans goes on tour with the Sinners, every boy in the band tries to seduce her. But Brian is the only one she wants to get her hands on…

Then the two lovers’ wildly shocking behavior sparks the whole band to new heights of glory… and sin…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Guilty Pleasure Read
Series: Sinners on Tour
Author: Olivia Cunning
# of Books: 5 (Backstage Pass, Rock Hard, Hot Ticket, Wicked Beat, Double Time, [Sinners at the Altar, Sinners in Paradise, Sinners Rock the Cradle])

Sinners at the Altar/in Paradise/Rock the Cradle are anthology books that are extended epilogues of the previous novels.

Book Order: Connected

The order of the events in the books doesn’t follow the publishing order for the first 5 books. The books’ order according to timeline: Backstage Pass, Rock Hard, Hot Ticket, Wicked Beat, Double Time. I read them in order of events, not publication.

Complete?: No, Sinners in Paradise and Sinners Rock the Cradle have yet to be published.
Genre: Erotica, Contemporary, Rock stars, Kinky, Music, Drama, BDSM
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: High)
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2010 – March 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

PLEASE NOTE: That as of publishing this review, I have only read the first 3 novels in this series (Backstage Pass, Rock Hard and Hot Ticket). I have opted not to read the rest of this series.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I honestly have no idea why I decided to read these books. I guess I wanted to try a new “erotica” series and I’ve been enjoying reading New Adult books about rock stars and musicians so it seemed like this series was an obvious choice.

My Review:

As you can expect, these books are basically about having sex with rock stars. And unsurprisingly there is a lot of sex. I think in Backstage Pass, you could probably go about 5 pages (max) before the couple was having sex or fondling each other. And it isn’t necessarily your everyday vanilla sex either: it’s got a bit of a kink to it and that kinkiness gets more elaborate as the series wares on. This series is pretty much every female fantasy about rock stars coming to life: so if your fantasy rock star does it in your dreams, he probably does it in this book.

I like a bit of spice to my books as much as the next person but I don’t need copious amounts of it in my novels. I also don’t enjoy BDSM or “heavier” sex novels and these books bordered on that line at times. However, I did enjoy the story underneath all the sex (though there really wasn’t much there). It was a definitely guilty pleasure read and I think readers who need a mindless romance novel to read after reading a darker, more serious story (like I do) will enjoy it.

The books are quite long as well: which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you feel about erotica novels. I personally wished they were condensed a bit more so that I got more plot but they are easy reads to get through for sure.

updates

–November 2, 2014– Book #3: Hot Ticket

I just finished Hot Ticket (book 3) and I think this book is my favourite out of the series so far. I really liked the two leads and I found I didn’t get annoyed by them like I did in Rock Hard. I also liked that they built more of an emotional connection other than just their physical chemistry. I had planned to just read this book here and there while I read another book but I actually got pretty hooked into this one and finished it in a weekend.

Series Rating: DNF

Backstage Pass 3/5 | Rock Hard 3.5/5 | Hot Ticket 4/5

overall

If you are looking for a hot, mindless read with lots of sex (and not of the vanilla kind)–this is a series for you!

similarreads

  • All Access by Karolyn James (Brothers of Rock Series #1)
  • Sweet Surrender by Maya Banks (Sweet Series #1)

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Series Review: Breathless by Maya Banks

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Must Read Author
Series: Breathless
Author: Maya Banks
# of Books: 3 (Rush, Fever, Burn)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: High)

Thoughts:

Maya Banks is a must read author for me for a few reasons. One is that her highlander books are my favourite to read of that genre; another is that no matter the setting or genre, her writing is consistent and I always get what I expect; and three, I just enjoy the stories she creates. So when I saw that she was coming out with a new contemporary series, I jumped on it.

I personally am not a fan of BDSM-focused books. That stuff doesn’t turn my crank but I don’t mind some of the milder stuff that we see in other popular contemporary reads like the Stark Trilogy or the Crossfire Saga. The books of the Breathless Trilogy are a bit lighter than some other BDSM novels out there (like Banks’ Sweet Series) but they a touch more heavier than the Stark or Crossfire series. So my recommendation is if you don’t enjoy or can’t get past EXTREMELY dominate, alpha males, don’t pick up this series–it will NOT be your cup of tea!

I really enjoyed Burn but not as much as I had hoped. To be honest I’m not sure why I didn’t like it as much as I had hoped. I liked all the characters and their stories. There was more to the plot than just sex (though it does take a while for the secondary plot to kick in but I enjoyed watching how the romance progressed so I didn’t mind too much) and it ends on a solid note. I think the reason I would give it a 3.5 rather than a 4 is the BDSM element to it. I think it was a little too much at times and I just can’t fathom the whole concept personally so I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I could have.

When it comes to Fever, the BDSM element again is the factor holding back my higher rating. In Fever the BDSM element is definitely more present than before so that turned me off a bit. I also would have liked more of a personal relationship between Jace and Bethany. It just happened so quickly and I just didn’t understand their “connection”. All I really needed to see was one date where they talked without ripping their clothes off and I would have been satisfied. But overall, the plot was a lot more suspenseful so that was a bonus.

Burn was a major disappointment for me. Ash’s need for submission really made reading the book uncomfortable for me. It was way too much for me and I didn’t like that element. Again, I wanted more of a personal connection between the characters and we didn’t get that. The last 50 or so pages were really great and I couldn’t put it down so I wish that there was more of that suspense. I also would have loved a real epilogue but I was happy with the way it ended.

Conclusion:

Not the best series of all time and I was disappointed but I did enjoy the stories. However, this series is not for everyone! If you don’t like BDSM novels or extreme alpha male characters–AVOID these books! These books are a lot more “hardcore” than others out there and won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Fans of Bank’s other contemporary series will like these.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: Sweet Surrender by Maya Banks (Sweet Series, #1) and Release Me by J. Kenner (Stark Trilogy, #1)

Synopsis for Rush (from Goodreads):
Gabe, Jace, and Ash: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Gabe, it’s making one particular fantasy come true with a woman who was forbidden fruit. Now she’s ripe for the picking…

When Gabe Hamilton saw Mia Crestwell walk into the ballroom for his hotel’s grand opening, he knew he was going to hell for what he had planned. After all, Mia is his best friend’s little sister. Except she’s not so little anymore. And Gabe has waited a long time to act on his desires.

Gabe has starred in Mia’s fantasies more than once, ever since she was a teenager with a huge crush on her brother’s best friend. So what if Gabe’s fourteen years older? Mia knows he’s way out of her league, but her attraction has only grown stronger with time. She’s an adult now, and there’s no reason not to act on her most secret desires.

As Gabe pulls her into his provocative world, she realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know about him or how exacting his demands can be. Their relationship is intense and obsessive, but as they cross the line from secret sexual odyssey to something deeper, their affair runs the risk of being exposed—and vulnerable to a betrayal far more intimate than either expected.

Series Review: Fifty Shades by E.L. James

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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Synopsis for Fifty Shades of Grey (from Goodreads):
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

breakdown

Series: Fifty Shades Trilogy
Author: E.L. James
# of Books: 3 + 1 (Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed, Grey)

Grey is an alternate POV retelling of Fifty Shades of Grey

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Erotica, BDSM, Romance, Adult, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Movie Review: Catch my thoughts on the movie here!
Publication Dates: May 2011 – June 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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Preface:

This will probably taint all future book blogs I do, BUT I actually did enjoy the Fifty Shades Series. Were they the best books I ever read? NO. Did I like all the sex? Not particularly. Is it the next writing masterpiece? Definitely not.

My Review:

So why, you might ask, did I (and so many others) like this series if my answers were negative? The answer is that I liked the plot and concept. Roll your eyes, do whatever you must but I am telling the truth–I enjoyed the plot.

Now, I’m not going to lie: so I will admit the truth that there is absolutely no plot in book 1, Fifty Shades of Grey. It is mostly just sex at every turn with little tid-bits of plot thrown in here and there. You know how most romance novels have three solid sex scenes at most and then the rest are just alluded to? Not the case here. I think in the entire series, there are only 2 sex scenes alluded to, the rest we all get to read.

What I did like about book 1 was the pursuit. It is a fiction novel and Christian Grey takes the pursuit to a whole other level. It’s over the top but I can appreciate that it is fiction and it can be over the top. I think that is the best way to read this novel–knowing that it is FICTION and not as a realistic storyline. It provides an escape from other romance novels out there which is why I think it has been so successful.

Fifty Shades Darker follows the evitable pattern of 2nd books where the couple has broken up only to be quickly reunited. But here, I find we get to see another side to Christian and Anastasia. Although Christian can come across stalkerish and a little too alpha male, there is a sweeter albeit darker side (hence the title) and we get to see that in this book. More of his past is revealed and that past comes back to make this book (and the last one) that touch more suspenseful (which is what I enjoyed about this series). I also really liked Ana. She was strong (although extremely naïve in book 1) but I think she grows as a character as the series progresses. I think in this book you really get to see why they are drawn to each other besides the sex.

Finally, the last book Fifty Shades Freed was also enjoyable for me. Again, it’s a little more plot driven and I like that. Not much else to say here without giving everything away.

As for the movie adaption, it can be done I think. There is enough plot in the later books to work with but the first one will be hard to pull off I think. And for my casting picks, I have a few in mind but we will wait and see 😛 You can read my thoughts on the movie here!

updates

–August 22, 2015– Book 4: Grey

When they announced Grey was coming out, I was a little excited. James had included little excerpts of Christian’s POV at the end of the original books and I thought they were interesting reads. While I would have liked one Christian book that encompassed the entire series (not just the first novel), I looked forward to the breakdown of what exactly Christian was thinking in that first book.

Prior to reading Grey, I read the critic reviews that it was just a regurgitation of Fifty Shades of Grey. “It has all the same scenes and dialogue” the complaints would say and I remember scratching my head and thinking: of course it does! It’s an alternate POV sequel for goodness’ sake! I think retellings have a fine line to walk. People want the memorable scenes but they don’t want the exact same novel again and I think that is a hard think to deliver for any author.

It has been 3 years since I read Fifty Shades of Grey so I don’t really remember every single detail of the book (and the movie doesn’t have everything in it). Therefore, I didn’t really mind the “regurgitation”–I feel like it saved me from rereading Fifty Shades of Grey (which I wanted to do in the near future to see how I feel about it years later and after being subjected to its harsh criticism for years). I thought it was in interesting insight into Christian’s mind and I thought James did a great job considering there really isn’t too much plot-wise.

Reading Grey reaffirmed my appreciation for Ana’s character and their relationship overall. While I don’t think her affect on Christian is realistic in real life, I do like novels that have relationships that challenge people to be better individuals. I like to think that love can save, especially in my books and I saw it again in this book. Do I think their relationship is something to aspire to? No I don’t and I like that it brings that much needed conversation to light.

And I really liked that this book emphasized consent and discussion between partners. Ana doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to. She questions, she tries when she feels comfortable doing so but she is always clear that she needs something else in their relationship and that if she doesn’t think she is going to get it, she will walk away. I think people think that because she is a virgin she is manipulated into something she doesn’t want but I never get that impression in either Grey or Fifty Shades of Grey.

I’m going to digress before I write a really long post, so I’ll just end by saying that I liked Grey and recommend that you read it AFTER you read the trilogy (if you did enjoy the trilogy) because it does give some spoilers about events/revelations revealed in Fifty Shades Darker.

Series Rating: 4/5

Fifty Shades of Grey 4/5 | Fifty Shades Darker 4/5 | Fifty Shades Freed 4/5 | Grey 4/5

overall

If you want to try a different type of romance, give it a shot but keep in mind it is over the top. It definitely isn’t for everyone though. I know that the BDSM label turns people off but I would say in terms of the actual scenes it’s a “lighter” BDSM than some novels out there (ex. Maya Banks’ Sweet Series) but if you are uncomfortable with the concept, I wouldn’t read this.

Read if You Like: alpha males, contemporary erotica, mysterious heroes
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike BDSM, dislike alpha males

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