Tag «Heat: Smokin’»

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:



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.


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



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!


–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


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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Series Review: Stark Trilogy by J. Kenner

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


Synopsis for Release Me (from Goodreads):
He was the one man I couldn’t avoid. And the one man I couldn’t resist.

Damien Stark could have his way with any woman. He was sexy, confident, and commanding: Anything he wanted, he got. And what he wanted was me.

Our attraction was unmistakable, almost beyond control, but as much as I ached to be his, I feared the pressures of his demands. Submitting to Damien meant I had to bare the darkest truth about my past—and risk breaking us apart.

But Damien was haunted, too. And as our passion came to obsess us both, his secrets threatened to destroy him—and us—forever.

Release Me is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.


Series: Stark Trilogy, Stark
Author: J. Kenner
# of Books: 4 (Release Me, Claim Me, Complete Me, Anchor Me)

There are also novellas that takes place after the final book. Full list here.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Steamy (BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2013 – April 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I will admit I enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey–not for the kinky sex but for the plot. Yes, there was a plot to the series but that is beside the point. So I can say I was excited to read this series because it is recommended for fans of Fifty Shades and it promised to have more of a plot.

The Plot:

I really liked this series (at this point I had only read the first two books). If you compare Fifty Shades of Grey and the first book, Release Me, they both have similar plot progression and delivery; however there are some differences that make this series its own.

Where this differs really differs from Fifty Shades is in book 2, Claim Me. There are major plot developments that separate this book completely from Fifty Shades and does so in a way that has me counting down the days to the final book.

The Characters:

For one the characters are their own. Nikki is a more driven and academically intelligent than Anastasia. Nikki also has her own issues to work out emotionally and mentally. She is a very heavy character but is very likable at the same time. Damien is also complex emotionally and mentally, much like Christian, but not so BSDM driven (though he does have control issues and likes his toys & ties and this becomes stronger as the books progress). While he is always sexually charged, you can see that he does care for Nikki–whereas it wasn’t always obvious with Christian.

The Romance:

These two are cute together and it was obvious to me why they would fall for each other. They do become a little too consumed with each other but that is also the nature of what people expect in this Erotica genre.


–January 21, 2014– Book #3: Complete Me

I FINALLY got around to reading the final book, Complete Me, and I have to say that it was a major disappointment 🙁

I think my main problem is that it is has been so long since I read Claim Me and I let myself build up this last book, Complete Me, so much. But I also feel let down by the characters. Damien seemed much more into BDSM that I previously remembered and Nikki (who used to be one of my favourite heroines in contemporary romance) really got on my nerves in this book. I was also expecting one aspect of the plot to be longer but it wasn’t. BUT I did like where the rest of the book went and I am happy with the way things ended (though I am glad there is a follow-up novella)!

I see that there is a spin-off series in the works with Jamie (Stark International Series) and the novella, Take Me, introduces us to Ms. Jenner’s next trilogy series, Most Wanted, with the first book called Wanted.

–January 20, 2014– Book #3.5: Take Me

The first few chapters of this novella are basically an extended sex epilogue of the trilogy but eventually we get a plot. While I enjoyed this extended epilogue and it made me excited to read the other series, I still feel like I’m lacking some closure with these two. Hopefully we see more of them in the spinoff series but I think fans will enjoy this novella. Also, don’t expect a huge introduction to Evan. He’s there for like two seconds and gone. If I didn’t know that the next series was a about him, I wouldn’t have given him a second thought.

–February 8, 2014– Book #3.6: Have Me

As with the previous novella, Have Me is just an excuse to read about Nikki and Damien have sex with each other. Plus, they are in that honeymoon phase where every line is about how much they love each other–which gets nauseating. I won’t lie, I really skimmed most of this novella because the first 50 pages are just smut and when the plot comes I just couldn’t bring myself to care. I won’t be picking up the 3rd novella anytime soon. I would have preferred a separate novel to combine all of this together instead of 3 separate novellas though I appreciate the fact that in theory these novellas provide the closure I was missing from the conclusion of the series.

Why I Won’t be Reading Anchor Me:

I’m kind of over these characters. I hate dragged out stories–they just seem like ploys for money and fanservice. I just don’t see the point of another full length novel.

Series Rating: 4/5


In the end, I did enjoy this series. It has a solid blend of sexy and plot that fans of E.L. James and Sylvia Day will gobble up right away. It’s not as BDSM focused as Fifty Shades but has characters and situations similar to Bared to You.

Read if You Like: Contemporary Erotica, flawed leads
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike long series

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Fifty Shades Trilogy #1)
Bared to You by Sylvia Day (Crossfire Series #1)


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