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Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

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 Secret Beast (from Goodreads):

In a single moment, she becomes my obsession…

Elaine Constantine will be mine.
And her destruction is only my beginning.

I’ve known all my life that the Constantines deserved to be wiped from the face of the earth, only a smoking crater left where their mansion once stood. That’s my plan until I see her, the woman in gold with the sinful curves and the blonde curls. My will to dominate her runs as deep as the hate I have for her last name.

No matter how beautifully she bends beneath my hands, I’ll leave her shattered, a broken toy for her cruel family.

I’m a sadist, and she’s the object of my obsession.

breakdown

Series: Starcrossed Lovers | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Jade West
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2020 – March 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I mentioned in my review of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing review, I deviated from the readers’ recommended reading order of the Midnight Dynasty Universe and read Leo’s book before Lucian’s.

Lucian was such a blip in the Cinderella Trilogy compared to Leo–who had a bigger role as a villain–that I wasn’t interested Lucian’s story as much. But in Book #3 of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing, Fallen Rose, Lucian’s heroine is revealed and I became obsessed with reading their story!

Needless to say, I immediately picked up this Romeo and Juliet inspired tale when I finished the other series!

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The Plot:

This trilogy is inspired by Romeo and Juliet but I’d say it is loosely so. Lucian and Elaine are from feuding families; have lots of cousins and there is quite a bit of death that follows in their wake. It isn’t a straight up modern retelling by any means but if you know the classic play, I’m sure you will see some similarities.

This story is super dark though and I think a lot of people will be uncomfortable with the subject matter. There’s a lot of sex (and high BDSM sex at that as Lucian is a sadist lover), lots of violence and some content that might be triggering to readers (abuse, self-harm). I think you really have to be a fan of darker romances to enjoy this and I wouldn’t recommend this book as the series to start with if you want to get into the dark romance genre.

I am a fan of dark contemporary romances and it took even me a while to get used to the obsessive nature of our two leads. However, I quickly became consumed with their story. I enjoyed the pursuit of the first book and watching them slowly realize how they were perfect for each other in the subsequent novel.

I really enjoyed Soulless (#2) which is why Relentless (#3) was such a letdown. It was really great until (I felt) it abruptly ended. It didn’t really resolve any of the major dramatic plotlines with the exception of their final relationship status. I kinda thought there would be a fourth book with the way it ended but there isn’t which makes its ending super open-ended. Having read the next recommended series (Beast of Bishop’s Landing) in the Midnight Dynasty Universe series, I know that there really isn’t much of a resolution there either. So I ended the series on a bitter note after enjoying it so much.

The Characters:

One of the unique elements to this Midnight Dynasty Universe is that different authors write the different series, yet all share the same characters as each other.

Lucian makes a brief appearance in the Cinderella Trilogy but he takes a backseat to his brother Leo (Beast of Bishop’s Landing). He’s a super intense person and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Normally, I don’t enjoy super alpha male heroes and Lucian is definitely an alpha–and a sadist at that. However, I feel like he is the first one to break when it comes to his feelings for Elaine and I love when the hero is the first to crack. As you start to know him and his past, you start to understand his character and appreciate why he is the way he is.

Elaine is also a complicated character and one that you don’t really see the true side of until you keep reading and start to peel back those layers. She’s feisty and strong in her own way which I always like in my heroines.

The Romance:

The tension between these two is down-right palpable the minute they set eyes on each other! They’ve got the forbidden romance of Romeo and Juliet fueling that flame which is always great. But they also have this great connection of understanding between them. They’re the perfect match for each other–even if they don’t realize that right away. They balance each other out and I could see why they are “starcrossed lovers”.

That being said, the romance is definitely dark and twisted. If you don’t enjoy high level BDSM–heavy emphasis on the SM part of that–then don’t pick this up!

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 4/5

Heartless 4/5 | Soulless 5/5 | Relentless 3/5

overall

Those who enjoy dark and twisted romances will devour this. But those who don’t enjoy BDSM in their novels or violence should stay away. Out of all the series in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, I’d say this is the darkest.

Read if You Like: erotica, dark romances, forbidden romance, violence
Avoid if You: dislike kink/BDSM, dislike dark romances

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Spin-off Saturdays: Deception Duet by K Webster

Spin-off Saturdays: Deception Duet by K Webster

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Deception Duet is a spin-off of the Cinderella Trilogy

breakdown

Series: Deception Duet | A Midnight Dynasty Series

This is a spinoff of the Cinderella Series.

Author: K Webster
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance, Erotica, Reverse Harem
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 2022 – March 2022
Source & Format: KoboPlus—eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

The first book in this series, Triple Threat, is actually the entire reason I found out about the Midnight Dynasty Universe. The cover caught my eye when I was browsing Kobo Plus titles and I thought the premise was super unique. I was about 7% into the book when I realized it was linked to another series (Cinderella Trilogy) and that’s when I learned about the Midnight Dynasty Universe. In order to get a better appreciation, I back tracked and read a few of the other series in the universe before I came back to this duet.

The Terror Triplets don’t get a name like that by being warm and fuzzy all the time. They were absolutely brutal to Ash in the Cinderella Trilogy–almost to the point that their scenes made me uncomfortable. But, I’m always up for a redemption story so I was curious to see where this would go.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Romantic Suspense–

This duet reads more as a suspense novel since the boys are playing Landry at the request of their uncle. She doesn’t know that there are three of them so it’s an interesting dynamic to watch unfold.

–Reverse Harem–

I’ve only read a few reverse harem novels over the years. Any harem novel truthfully isn’t a trope I am a fan off. However, the fact that these 3 are triplets makes for an interesting dynamic when feelings start to evolve.

–A Deeper Side to the Terror Triplets–

Due to the shorter page count and the fact that we are getting POVs for 4 different characters, I think the boys could have had some more character development. But I felt like I understood them a little more by the end of this series. So they did get redeemed in my eyes–something I thought I would never say.

You definitely don’t have to read the Cinderella Trilogy to understand what is happening but I think having that experience with these 3 helps enrich your reading experience here.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Borders on Taboo–

Maybe this is a spoiler, but I think it’s important for the reader to know that there are group sex scenes between Landry and the boys. Now the boys don’t partake in any incest but there is something incredibly odd about brothers being in the same room as each other while having sex. I enjoy dark romances but there are certain lines I don’t like to cross. If they were 3 friends or stepbrothers (not blood related) instead, I’d probably feel differently about it but the fact is, they aren’t. So it borders on icky sometimes.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 4/5

Triple Threat 4/5 | Death Wish 4/5

overall

You need to know what you are going into with this duet. If you enjoy the idea of triplet brother’s claiming one woman as theirs, then this is for you! I think fans of the Midnight Dynasty Universe will love the continued heat and suspense they have come to know from this world of books.

Read if You Like: dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike taboo
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Triple Threat (from Goodreads):

I’m a prisoner in a prestigious world.

A perfect princess locked in a tower.

My father will never let me go.

Not that I could leave. I would never abandon my little sister. Hope comes in the form of a devilishly handsome man with dark eyes and darker secrets.

With each encounter, I’m lured deeper into the labyrinth. The danger lurking beneath his surface calls to me, even as it warns me away.

Except there’s a new side of him every time we meet. A different danger each time we touch. It’s as if three different men want to devour me.

He’s not just one villain. He’s three.

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Single Sundays: Lessons in Sins by Pam Godwin

Single Sundays: Lessons in Sins by Pam Godwin

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Lessons in Sin (from Goodreads):
There’s no absolution for the things I’ve done.
But I found a way to control my impulses.
I became a priest.

As Father Magnus Falke, I suppress my cravings. As the headteacher of a Catholic boarding school, I’m never tempted by a student.

Until Tinsley Constantine.

The bratty princess challenges my rules and awakens my dark nature. With each punishment I lash upon her, I want more. In my classroom, private rectory, and bent over my altar, I want all of her.

One touch risks everything I stand for. My faith. My redemption. And even my life.

As if that could stop me. I need her pain, and her heart, and she needs my lessons in sin.

breakdown

Part of the: Midnight Dynasty Universe
Author: Pam Godwin
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: high | Kink: major)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was SUPER excited to read Tinsley Constantine’s book. She has been a favourite character of mine with her brief appearances in other Constantine novels in the Midnight Dynasty Universe and I love a good forbidden romance, so I was eager to dive in!

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

While there are allusions made to other Constantine siblings who have already had published novels, this book can be read as a standalone. It really doesn’t contribute to the Morelli vs Constantine family feud.

The Plot:

This book doesn’t have much going on besides Tinsley being a brat but saving animals; these two fighting their “attraction” to each other for a very long time; and then these two not doing a great job of staying away from each other.

I actually contemplated DNFing this book very early on because it just wasn’t working for me. There wasn’t a lot of plot and the romance didn’t win me over like I had hoped. I started to skim the rest of the book to be honest just so I could finish it and see if it alluded to any other books in the Midnight Dynasty Universe

The Characters:

Prior to this novel, I had only experience brief glimpses of her in other books but I liked her quirky rebellious personality. But in this book, it started to irritate me a bit. Or maybe we just spent too long repeating the same ideas for the first half of the book. She has moments of brilliance but it’s also shadowed by moments of oddity.

Magnus is an interesting character with an intriguing backstory. I didn’t love him like I wanted to. Honestly, he creeped me out a little with his sadist alphaness.

The Romance:

Perhaps the biggest reason I didn’t enjoy this novel was that I wasn’t sold on the romance at all. Magnus’ past is filled with sadistic romps with women older than him — so after 9 years of being a priest, what is it about the young Tinsley that getting him satisfied with somewhat vanilla sex? I guess she is this magical unicorn that redeems him? (There are some kinky sex scenes between the two of them though — it isn’t all vanilla sex).

It’s too bad because if you removed the aspects of their forbidden love and sexual appetites, I could see why their personalities would click. Maybe if Tinsley was sent to the school as a teacher instead of a student I’d get the romance a little more.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Perhaps my expectations were too high but this forbidden romance was more ick than swoon for me.

Read if You Like: forbidden romances, priests falling in love
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Series Review: Beast of Bishop’s Landing by Amelia Wilde

Series Review: Beast of Bishop’s Landing by Amelia Wilde

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 Secret Beast (from Goodreads):

The beast hides a dark secret in his past…

Leo Morelli is known as the Beast of Bishop’s Landing for his cruelty. He’ll get revenge on the Constantine family and make millions of dollars in the process. Even it means using an old man who dreams up wild inventions.

The beauty will sacrifice everything for her family…

Haley Constantine will do anything to protect her father. Even trade her body for his life. The college student must spend thirty days with the ruthless billionaire. He’ll make her earn her freedom in degrading ways, but in the end he needs her to set him free.

breakdown

Series: Beast of Bishop’s Landing | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Amelia Wilde
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot to Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2021 – July 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I deviated from the recommended reading order of the Midnight Dynasty Universe I have listed below because I thought our hero, Leo, was the more intriguing of the two Morelli Brothers we met in the Cinderella Trilogy. I was really wanted to learn more about his character and see who could tame him in this retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time, but there are chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The Plot:

This trilogy was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I felt like it was a pretty loose one. There are bits and pieces in the first book; not so much in the second; and then inklings come back for the finale. Or perhaps I’m not overly familiar with the original fairy tale and missed some elements along the way. Regardless, this is a dark romance filled with lots of family drama and an innocent heroine who charms a scorned man — exactly what you expect for a Beauty and the Beast Retelling.

I really struggled to get into the story with Secret Beast (#1). I found it to be terribly dry and I wasn’t immediately won over by the romance. The drama picks up by the end of the book and that’s when things get a little more interesting and grabbed my attention. But I went through a bit of the same disinterest in Book #2, Hidden Beauty.

I thought the finale (#3 – Fallen Rose) struck a better balance between character growth, romance and drama and for me it was the best of the series.

The Characters:

One of the unique elements to this Midnight Dynasty Universe is that different authors write the different series yet all share the same characters as each other.

Most readers will have met Leo in the Cinderella Trilogy where he lives up to the name “beast” in my opinion. He was pretty ruthless in that series so I was curious to see who would tame his heart in this series. Yet I really struggled rectifying who he was in that series with the man we meet here. I had literally just finished that other series so everything was fresh in my mind; but I just felt like there was a disconnect here, so it took me a while to let the past go and focus on him in this series.

Haley lives up to the sweet, virginal expectation of Belle. She was a new character to me so I didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas about her other than what I knew from the original fairy tale.

The Romance:

Beauty and the Beast as a fairy tale is really just the original (or perhaps most well known) close proximity trope. I don’t mind that trope and since Leo isn’t actually an animal, I can get on board with the idea.
However, I truly struggled with the romance here and there are two reasons why:

The first is that I think these two spend more time apart then together. Which is weird because Haley is literally trapped in his house for the entire series. They have a single interaction by the 20% mark of Secret Beast (#1) so I wasn’t feeling that chemistry right away. (I mean, I get why Haley might not be attracted to him given the circumstances, but I missed that underlying sexual tension). Then, I felt like they spent most of Hidden Beauty (#2) apart as well. I just struggled to see that great love between them.

The second reason is that I’m not a huge fan of their kink: dubious consent. I enjoy reading a lot of darker romances so kinky sex seems to come with the territory. However, books featuring heavy BDSM content and scenes of dubious consent aren’t my favourite to read. There’s a fine line for me and this series really straddled that line for me. Haley is a virgin so that tainted the scenes because does she really know she enjoys that type of sex if she’s never really had it any other way? And was she really enjoying it or is it because Leo is constantly telling her she is that is driving her eroticism? For me, I sometimes struggled to find that answer and I will be honest that I skimmed through a lot of their intimate scenes as a result.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but I jumped a few books based on the lead for the Beast of Bishop’s Landing. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 2.5/5

Secret Beast 2/5 | Hidden Beauty 2.5/5 | Fallen Rose 3/5

overall

I really struggled with the romance of this one thanks to its sexual content. However, I got to know more about the Morelli family in the Midnight Dynasty Universe and it got me really excited to read their series next!

Read if You Like: erotica, dark romances, Beauty and the Beast
Avoid if You: dislike kink/BDSM, dislike dark romances

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Serial Saturdays: Elite of Eden Falls Prep by Betti Rosewood

Serial Saturdays: Elite of Eden Falls Prep by Betti Rosewood

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Hurt So Sweet (from Goodreads):

If you can’t beat the rich boys…
F*ck them.

Lily Anna Oakes and I share everything.

We have the same billion-dollar name, the same designer clothes, and the same messed up problems.

But Lily Anna and I will never meet. She died years ago.

This town broke her. I’ll burn it to the ground before I let that happen to me.

In Eden Falls, I’m forced to attend a school for the elite. The Firstborns own this place and they think they own me, too. It’s not long before Dexter, Caspian, Lai, and Julian become the bane of my existence.

There are only two people I’m afraid of – my strict father, and my malevolent fiancé. Unfortunately for me, my husband-to-be is one of the Firstborns ruining my life.

Dexter Booth and I will marry on my birthday to secure our families’ bond.

Every woman in this damn town wants to be Dexter’s toy. Except me.

Dex and his Eden Falls Prep cronies have forced me to give up my body. I know my betrothed wants my mind next.

I play along… But soon, I’ll leave the beautiful jerk behind without the thing he wants most from me.

His heir.

breakdown

Series: Elite of Eden Falls Prep

Set in the Same Universe as the Lords of Wildwood Series

Author: Betti Rosewood
# of Parts: 4
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2019 – January 2020
Source & Format: Hidden Gems Books–eARC (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2-4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I read the synopsis, I immediately thought about Secret Heir by M J Prince which I loved for its angst, hate to love you romance, and secrets. And while I go through withdrawal for that sequel, this seemed like a great pick.

The Concept:

I think this series struggles a bit with its need to shock and that in turn makes it hard to pinpoint the audience. Overall, this reads like an adult erotica novel but takes place with recently graduated high schoolers. So it makes for some uncomfortable sexual scenes because of their ages. It sometimes feels like it’s kids playing grown-up.

The world itself is interesting but I don’t think it was as fleshed out as it could have been. It’s was a lot of “this is how it is” but not a why. I almost felt like I was entering a series halfway through because some things felt like they should be “assumed” by the reader. And that leads into my biggest complaint that things are intentionally left out to build the intrigue but, in turn, it just makes things feel underdeveloped.

The Plot:

I wanted a little lot more to the plot. Pandora tries to rebel but her efforts weren’t all that strong and I had hoped to get more from her. The plot here is more about her entering this world and all the crappy things that happen to her because she is an outsider. The synopsis gave me the idea that she was going in with a plan for revenge but she kinda just takes everything thrown at her without pushback.

I guess I just wanted a little more cohesiveness or at least an idea of what the bigger , overall picture would be. It’s a lot of shock factor heaped into the series so it takes some time to sort through it all to understand what is really happening in this story.

The Characters:

There’s a lot of angst from the characters though I’m not entirely sure it is all warranted. I felt like certain things where kept vague to add intrigue and it did work because I kept reading hoping I could figure it out. But it was frustrating because you are intentionally left out of stuff. That works for twists later in the book, but only if the reader doesn’t notice they are missing key point. Again, it just made things seem underdeveloped and not thought out.

The characters themselves where also all over the place. Like I said, Pandora couldn’t seem to stay consistent in her character and her subsequent actions. I can understand that the torment she receives from the other characters would lead her to have some insecurities but I honestly felt like I was reading about a different character in every part.

The Romance:

It’s very twisted and I think I wanted something that was more…romantic? I wasn’t overly drawn to the connection. Dex’s past love with Lily was endearing and sweet, so I didn’t totally understand this draw to Pandora he seemed to have. Nor did I get the draw to Dex from Pandora. Add to that some scenes of dubious consent with Pandora’s other bullies and it all was just uber toxic.

Series Rating: 2/5

Volume 1 3/5 | Volume 2 2/5 | Volume 3 2.5/5 | Volume 4 3/5

overall

I think there are better high-school-bully romances out there. But if you enjoy books that simply shock and can get some plot hole logic and inconsistencies, I think you might find this series addicting in its own way.

But truthfully, if you want a dark book with twisted characters but has a strong plot, check out anything by Ella Miles instead.

Read if You Like: high school bully trope; polyamourous relationships
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike toxic relationships

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Series Review: Dirty by Laurelin Paige

Series Review: Dirty by Laurelin Paige

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 Dirty Filthy Rich Men (from Goodreads):

When I met Donovan Kincaid, I knew he was rich. I didn’t know he was filthy. Truth be told, I was only trying to get his best friend to notice me.

I knew poor scholarship girls like me didn’t stand a chance against guys like Weston King and Donovan Kincaid, but I was in love with his world, their world, of parties and sex and power. I knew what I wanted—I knew who I wanted—until one night, their world tried to bite me back and Donovan saved me. He saved me, and then Weston finally noticed me, and I finally learned what it was to be in their world.

And then what it was like to lose it.

Ten years later, I’ve found my way back. Back to their world. Back to him.

This time, I’m ready. I’ve been down this road before, and I know all the dirty, filthy ways Donovan will try and wreck me.

But it’s hard to resist. Especially when I know how much I’ll like it.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Dirty Duet, Dirty Universe

There are a spin-off Series: Dirty Games Duet, Dirty Sweet Duet, Dirty Wild Trilogy

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here) (Dirty Universe Reading Order)

There is a free prequel novella: #0.5 Dirty Filthy Rich Boys

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Retelling, Dark
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2017 – September 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read anything by Laurelin Paige without much thought because I just love everything that she writes. But this series in particular was one of my more highly anticipated reads by her. I’ve been craving a new darker contemporary romance and this seemed like it would fit the bill.

The Concept:

I’m not at all familiar with the movie Sabrina (1954 version or the 1995) so the basis for this story was a little lost on me. (I read the synopsis of the movie on Wikipedia so I was able to draw the allusions after the fact). But if you are, I’m sure you’ll love this take on the story. And if you aren’t, there is this anticipation from not knowing that will hook you in!

The Plot:

This is a story that is driven by the relationship of the major characters and there was just something so freaking addicting about their lives that had me completely invested.

I found sometimes things seemed to be a little repetitive in the narrative. I really noticed it in Book #2 Dirty Filthy Rich Love where we seemed to watch Sabrina rehash the same sentiments again and again. But perhaps I was just being picky about it.

The Characters:

Sabrina was a great lead to follow; she has everything I like in a strong heroine for a romance novel like this. Her independence was great.

Donovan is such an enigma–and the mystery around his character was so addicting to read! In the same breath, I wanted more from him in Dirty Filthy Rich Men. I found we seemed to rehash the same stuff with him again and again when I wanted a new layer to add to his evolution. His character evolves in the sequel though.

The Romance:

I was worried that there would be a love triangle given the synopsis but you’ll find out early on that isn’t really the case (and if you read the novella you’ll already know that).

I really loved the chemistry and the tension between these two. It’s thick and twisted (and that will definitely turn people off and away from this story; especially if you are triggered by/references to sexual assault) but I couldn’t get enough of it! And they actually took time to communicate with each other which I always appreciate!

When to Read #0.5 Dirty Filthy Boys:

Definitely read it before you start Dirty Filthy Men! While it gives away the slight mystery about why Sabrina hasn’t seen these guys in 10 years, it provides a lot more context about the relationship (and Sabrina’s character) than I thought the first few chapters of the novel did.

The Dirty Universe:

This duet is the start of what Laurelin Paige refers to as her Dirty Universe. Basically, each duet follows one of the guys that work/own the company. You see little inklings of each of the spin-offs here and parts of the Dirty Games Duet take place during these novels. There is a full reading order on Paige’s website to guide you but you can definitely read each series on its own and in any order if one is not to your tastes.

Series Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Filthy Rich Boys 4/5]| Dirty Filthy Rich Men 4/5| Dirty Filthy Rich Love 3/5

overall

I think some people will struggle with the darker nature of the romance but for those who like darker romances, this is great!

Read if You Like: dark romances, loosely based on other stories
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, are triggered by rape/sexual assaults

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Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

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 American Queen (from Goodreads):

Warned as a girl to keep her kisses to herself, Greer Galloway disobeys twice–once on her sixteenth birthday as she’s kneeling in a pool of broken glass, and another time after a charming stranger named Embry Moore whisks her into the dazzling Chicago night. Both times she falls in love, and both times her heart is broken beyond repair. And so as an adult, she vows never to kiss–or to love again.

That’s until the Vice President of the United States shows up at the university where she teaches, and asks for one thing: for her to meet with the hero-turned-President Maxen Colchester. Maxen, the soldier who was her first kiss in that pool of broken glass.

And the other complication? The Vice President is none other than charming Embry Moore himself.

Soon, Greer finds herself caught between past and present, pleasure and pain–and two men who long for each other as much as they long for her. And as war and betrayal press ever closer, they tumble headlong into a passionate love affair that will change the world…

From the USA Today bestselling author of Priest comes a contemporary reimagining of the legend of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot–elegant, carnal, and unforgettable.

breakdown

Series: New Camelot Trilogy
Author: Sierra Simone
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There are 2 novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high | Kink: major)
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Multiple (#2-3)
Publication Dates: October 2016 – October 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Public Library–Audiobook (#1-3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for anything with an Arthurian Legend twist (I even took the literature class in university) and when I saw that Sierra Simone–who co-wrote one of my favourite contemporary romances, Porn Star— was the author, I was very curious to see what modern spin she would put on arguably the most famous love triangle in history.

The Concept:

If you don’t enjoy non-vanilla romances, I’d avoid this one. It’s full of BDSM moments and kinky sex scenes. And while there is substance to the romance (as in it’s not just sex scene after sex scene though I’d say 70% of the books are dedicated to the deed), the sex scenes are quite detailed when they do appear and I just think it would make you uncomfortable.

But I mean, how great of an idea is it to make the classic love triangle a menage? It’s one of those true love triangle situations I rarely encounter in a novel/series and I was definitely on board for seeing how it would all work out.

As for the Arthurian Legend aspect, it’s one of those little hidden eggs you find along the way. And I don’t think most of it becomes apparent until you complete the trilogy and see the bigger picture. But I appreciated the modern spin (President instead of King, etc) though I wasn’t a fan of the creative license employed by the end.

The Plot:

I kept waiting for something to happen in American Queen; it just took a little too long to build for me. While I liked the flashbacks, I almost wonder if it would have been better to have all the past events thrown out at once and then jump to the present. (Perhaps have each book dedicated to a different time instead of a different character).

American Prince definitely amps up the suspense when it comes to the dramatic plot. And at times, I wished that would remain the focus. While I loved having a new perspective (Embry’s) I did get a little tired of all the passionate sex. I just found the scenes to be distracting and I’d often forget what important drama/twist/secret had just happened. It became especially hard since I was listening to the audiobook and we do jump a lot between the past and present. The situation was the same in the finale (American King) as well and I found myself getting pulled away from the plot.

The Characters:

I usually don’t enjoy the “Guinevere” character (only exception has ever been from the TV Series Merlin) and Greer was just ok for me. She’s a little wish-washy and part of that translates to her romances with the boys She’s just so non-confident in her everyday life but as soon as you dim the lights, she’s a confident submissive and they just didn’t seem to go hand and hand for me. Yes, all the power to her for owning her sexuality but I struggled to reconcile the two versions we see of her.

Embry and Ash served their roles well. It was nice for them to each get their own books to heighten their development. Otherwise, I would have wondered what the big deal was.

The Romance:

I was disappointed in this because everything seemed to instalove to me (with the exception of Ash and Embry’s relationship). But Greer’s love for the boys just seemed like some fixated school girl fantasy that she has lived in for so long that it comes across as superficial when she actually begins a relationship with the boys. I didn’t see this all-consuming, soul-deep connection they seemed to go on about.

I really adored Ash and Embry together though. I could see the passionate draw they had between them and that only strengthens as the series progresses. I could have just read a book about those two honestly and have been satisfied.

My Audiobook Experience:

Emotions are always more apparent to me when I listen to audiobooks and I think that helped bring these characters to life for me in a way that could understand their dilemmas and struggles.

That being said, I wish we had a second male narrator for Ash in book 3. It was weird to have the same voice for both Embry and Ash and when you stop suddenly in a chapter, it was hard to recognize who the POV was.

When to Read the Novellas:

I have yet to read them but both seem to be recommended for reading after you have finished the entire trilogy.

Series Rating: 3/5

American Queen 3/5 | American Prince 3/5 | American King 3/5

overall

If you are searching for a romance novel that works around a “true” love triangle and don’t mind the steamy scenes, pick this series up. But I think those who don’t enjoy erotica should stay far away, even if the Arthurian draw is there.

Read if You Like: erotica, menage romance, contemporary retellings
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike BDSM

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Series Review: Dirty by Ella Miles

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

Dirty Series

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dirty Obsession (from Goodreads):

Arlo Carini saved my life, only to destroy it.

When I first met him, he was the wealthy, powerful, sexy stranger giving me and a dozen other art history students a tour of his mansion. But he soon became my everything.

My savior. My lover. My obsession.

He tried to warn me. Every chance he could, he tried to get me to run far, far away. But it only made my obsession grow stronger. Until I made the worst mistake I could. And ended up trapped forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Dirty
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Dirty Obsession, Dirty Addiction, Dirty Revenge)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Dirty Beginning included in Dirty Obsession

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple (Obsession); Alternating (Revenge)
Publication Date: January 18, 2018 – July 5, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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:

Ella Miles never fails to disappoint me when it comes to her books. I always think I’m going to get one story but I end up with another–one that never fails to entertain and surprise me.

I love a good dark romance and after reading the novella, Dirty Beginning, I was curious to see what was in story next for these characters.

What I Liked:

–Dark and Twisted–

This is probably one of the darkest romances I’ve ever read. It’s deliciously dark and twisted which means it isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t enjoy dark erotic romances, don’t pick this up! But if you do, you are in for a treat!

This story did keep me on my toes. You always get the sense that there is more lurking underneath with all the characters involved and I loved the tension that brought to the story. I became a little obsessed (pun intended) trying to figure out what was happening and why. And the twists when everything is revealed (and how it ties back to the novella, Dirty Beginning): awesome.

–The Characters–

I really enjoyed the main characters we get to meet. You’ve got your very evil villain; the mysterious hero and a strong heroine. Nina is very likeable, more so in this book than in the novella I think. She has some solid character growth from start to end which I always appreciate!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wanted More Allusion to the “Game”–

I do wish the “game” was allude to more than it was throughout the novel. Just some little hints along the way would have been great. Even though the game is always afoot, I felt like we got a little too wrapped up in the sex scenes at times and I wanted a little more insight into the “why” of it all.

When to read the Prequel Novella: Dirty Beginning?

Definitely before you read Dirty Obsession! It gives you context for the first novel and introduces you to all the key players. You could get by without reading it but seeing as it is included in the Dirty Obsession, just read it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very excited for the next set of leads. I have a particular soft spot for our hero so I can’t wait for him to meet his match!

updates

–May 30, 2018– Book #2: Dirty Addiction

I couldn’t wait to see how these two would fall in love and what the consequences of it would be. But it took me a lot longer than I thought it would to see them as a couple chemistry wise.

I found for the first third or so of the novel, they didn’t interact all that much and if they did, it wasn’t always a positive experience, so I didn’t totally see the draw between them. I suppose the somewhat “forced” circumstances they find themselves in is part of the draw to the “dark” romance but I like those little moments of vulnerability in my forbidden romances.

Things started to improve though once we pass the halfway mark. I found the drama of the plot line helped to bring the romance and the characters to life in a way that started to win me over. That’s when Matteo and Eden started to interact more and the chemistry between them became more apparent.

–July 16, 2018– Book #3: Dirty Revenge

This is by FAR the darkest book in the series…but perhaps the most addicting?

I’ll admit that parts of this were hard for me to read. Gia has a lot of awful things (like cringe-worthy) happen to her but I appreciated the character growth she received as a result. For me, this story was more about Gia finding herself and her independence more so than a straight romance and I liked that. Gia gets broken-down but she rebuilds herself into a much stronger woman as a result.

The plot line itself is engaging. You don’t know the good guys from the bad guys which always brings an air of anticipation and tension to the story. Like any Ella Miles book, you really don’t know what direction the plot will go and I enjoyed the journey to find out.

As for the romance, I thought these two were a good match. Conti was a little too much for me at the start with his alpha ways; however, I expected that given the nature of the book. But I appreciated the partnership that forms between these two thanks to mutual understanding and experiences so I could see why they would be drawn to each other.

My Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Beginning 3/5] | Dirty Obsession 4/5| Dirty Addiction 3/5 | Dirty Revenge 4/5

overall

Perfect for fans of truly dark romances and sexy times! But if you don’t enjoy erotica or more graphic scenes, don’t pick this up!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, dislike erotica, love triangles

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

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

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 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: Unknown
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: First and Last by Laurelin Paige

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

First and Last Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for First Touch (from Goodreads):
When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven’t spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what’s more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.

Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she’s drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she’s forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: First and Last
Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (First Touch, Last Kiss)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Suspense, Mystery
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: major; BDSM: Mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 29, 2015 – June 14, 2016
Source & Format: NetGalley–eARC

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:

When I was asked by St. Martin’s Press to read the new Laurelin Paige novel, I thought it was a joke, pinched myself and responded immediately to say YES! Paige’s Fixed Trilogy is one of my all time favourite Adult Contemporary Romance trilogies (and it is also one of my blog’s top viewed review posts) and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an addicting contemporary read. So when I read that her newest series took on a darker contemporary edge, I was so there!

What I Liked:

–The Mystery–

I don’t read a lot of romance suspense novels because I find they don’t have a great balance between the plot and the romance (one is favoured more than the other) and they are terribly predictable. NOT THIS ONE!

I loved its unpredictability! It kept me on the edge of my seat and trying in vain to figure out what was going to happen next. There were so many little twists and things at play that it pushed me to keep reading.

–The Romance–

I’m not the biggest BDSM/Kinky romance fan and I liked that it wasn’t really present in the Fixed Trilogy. Here, it is definitely present and initially this worried me. However, I think it really works well for this story. It doesn’t feel out of place or simply added for shock factor. Nor does it take away from the main plot either or focus on some innocent virgin stepping in to the “dark side” of things. It adds a depth to the characters and the plot; so even if it isn’t my favourite plot device ever, I can appreciate what it does for this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I didn’t Immediately Love Emily–

That’s a bit of a lie. I actually really liked Emily in the first two chapters but I admit that she lost me a bit in the middle when more of her character’s past was revealed. I felt like I had interpreted her to be one way and all of that was shattered when I got further into her story. Maybe I was just a little judgmental when certain things about her past were revealed but I think a majority of it was simply that I didn’t know the full story.

When the suspense-aspect of the plot goes on a mini hiatus in the middle of the novel (the only time I really felt it lag), I liked that it helped you understand more about Emily’s character. Her relationship with Amber in the past is revealed a tiny bit at a time and you learn other things about her past. And I’m happy to say that by the end of First Touch, I really like Emily as a character and could appreciate the choices she makes.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Gah! The way that one ended!!! I didn’t see that coming and I can’t wait to see how everything unfolds in Last Kiss!

updates

–June 8, 2016– Book #2: Last Kiss

I was really excited to pick this one up! Given the ending of First Touch, I was dying to know what happens next!

I found this novel moved fast, in an addicting, I-need-to-know-what’s-next kind of way. Seeing everything unfold was a well worth it and kept me motivated to read. I would have finished this book in one sitting if life wasn’t in the way!

I felt like everything was on point with this novel. The character development was stronger, the relationships with characters as well as the plot in general were at their peak. Combined, they all kept me on my toes trying to figure out what really happened to Amber and company.

What held me back from a 5/5 was the romance in this one. While I loved the sexual tension, the BDSM style of Reeve and Emily’s relationship really had me concerned. Definitely seemed more unhealthy to me than previously but eventually it was expanded upon in a way that satisfied me. However, I do think some people will not enjoy their relationship despite the great dramatic plot.

Overall, it was a fantastic way to wrap up this duology and I can’t wait for the next Laurelin Paige novel!

but

My Rating: 4/5

First Touch 4/5 | Last Kiss 4/5

overall

While I wasn’t blown away with First Touch, I definitely feel like this story is building to a conclusion that will blow my mind! It’s a dark, dangerous and sexy ride that fans of J Kenner and Maya Banks will love without the heavy duty BDSM scenes or elements.

Read if You Like: romantic suspense, undercover lovers, dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike kinky romance situations, drug use

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