Because of Miss Bridgerton – Julia Quinn

25657772  Because of Miss Bridgerton – Julia Quinn – B

Hark! What goes here? Is this a review? It could be. Probably, not a very good one, I’m very out of practice.

I should state for the record: the past four months have been hell. I was chosen as an Avon Addict and almost immediately, life took a heaping, steaming shit on my chest. There has been nothing about my life the past few months that allowed for reading. For pleasure or for business. I worked well over 20 days in a row at a very stressful, intense job. So, to get back into reading for pleasure, this book was actually pretty perfect?

This book, is at its heart, as my friend said, “a cup of hot cocoa and a puppy in your lap.”

Lady Sybilla Bridgerton is the eldest child of Lord and Lady Bridgerton. She is also the elder sister of Lord Edmund Bridgerton, the future father of our favorite Bridgerton clan. So this is, in some ways, a prequel to the Bridgerton books. I have some quibbles about that, as well, but first, Sybilla, or Billie to everyone that knows her is, well, a bit reckless. This is how she finds herself with a sprained ankle on a rooftop after having fallen out of a tree in pursuit of a cat.

Lord George Rokesby is, well, a bit of a stick in the mud. As the eldest son and heir to an Earl, he has been stuck in his role since birth. While his brothers scampered about the country side with Billie and her brothers, he was off to Eton. Then to Cambridge. And then into the House of Commons etc.etc. It’s not a lot, but it is his lot in life. (It is a lot.) He’s a little uptight and a little lowkey jealous of his brothers and their freedom. But mostly, he finds Billie Bridgerton to be reckless and ridiculous. So, how he finds himself stuck on a rooftop in an ill-fated attempt to save the wretched girl is anyone’s guess.

This book never reaches beyond what it naturally is. A book of bantering and old family friends and newly awakening feelings. That being said, it’s one of the few books I’ve read where I thought to myself, “Could’ve been a novella.” It could’ve easily been a novella. The book drags on for too long, even as delightful as it is. That being said, if you know what you’re getting with Julia Quinn and that’s something that you enjoy, this is certainly worth a read.

My quibbles are only that it feels exactly like a Regency and is actually NOT a Regency. But it felt like JQ just kind of wrote the Bridgertons and ignored, for the most part, what was actually happening in the 1770s/1780s and the difference in tone and fashion aside from mentioning powdered hair. Again, a minor quibble unless you’re one for staunch historical accuracy.

At any rate, I enjoyed my read, though it was unchallenging and ultimately felt a little long-winded.

 

 

The Subs Club – JA ROCK

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I decided back a few weeks ago I wouldn’t be giving ratings or grades anymore. Also, J.A. Rock is basically one of my top five favorite people in the world, so I could probably get flack for not being the least bit unbiased.

Except, this book is fucking amazing. And this book is fucking amazing regardless of whether or not I like J.A. Rock as a human being (she is the best human being). But, let’s talk about this great book instead of my love affair with its author’s brain.

David and his 3 bestest buds are reeling from the loss of their friend — an ‘accident’ at a BDSM club during a scene involving breathplay has left them all shaken and a little scarred. And it’s left David highly pissed off. He’s sick and tired of submissives having to feel scared and out of control of the situation, so he and his besties create The Subs Club, a site that allows subs to review the doms they’ve played with and warn other subs about the assholes.

As part of this experiment, David decides to teach the dommiest dom in all of domland a lesson. What this lesson is, David’s a little unsure of. But mostly, he wanted to prove to the Dommiest Dom in Domland that he can win. Win what, he’s not sure. Win the idea that he broke the Dom instead of the Dom breaking him, mostly. David’s angry and he’s hurting and he’s mad at the Doms of the world that think they run the world, and he decides to take it out on … D (also named David, no it’s not confusing, weirdly).

This is a  book that sort of wallops you with emotions out of nowhere. You’re cruising along feeling pretty good about your totally placid emotional status and then suddenly you’re crying on the BNSF express train at 7 in the morning over a scene where David is given an enema. But not because of enema, because of feelings.

This is an unflinching portrayal of BDSM scenes. This is not a poop-free, squeaky clean, no aftercare, no prep, no injury, no recovery look at kink scenes and sessions. This is not a book that ignores that BDSM can be a complicated lifestyle with a lot of grey areas and a lot of “one person’s abuse, is another person’s caring.” For some people, being caned would be actual punishment that hurt them emotionally and physically. For others, being caned can be a way a top/Dom takes care of them, giving them something they need, and letting them accept that pain. This is not a, necessarily, romance novel view of BDSM. It’s a very real look into the lifestyle and the kink and a very specific subset of sessions and dynamics.

So yes. You will laugh, probably at Kamen. You will cry, probably over Gould and the enema scene (FEELINGS). You will clutch your heart. And you will wonder where this book has been your whole life and then sit and feel like if you don’t get the second book in the series right now your brain might explode.
GO BUY IT OKAY.

At Riptide

How to Tell a Lie – Delphine Dryden

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How to Tell a Lie – Delphine Dryden  – A

Insert a standard disclaimer here that yes I know Delphine Dryden personally, yes she is one of my best friends, yes we will both try to get you into a properly fitted bra, and no this review is not written under the influence of my affection for her. That being said, I guess you have to assume that maybe I like Del so much because I like her brain a lot and if I like her brain a lot I’ll probably like her books a lot. IT IS A VICIOUS CHICKEN/EGG SITUATION. (The egg, btw. Unless you’re a New Earther, and then…why are you HERE?)

Allison Moore is a Psychology professor who does her research on lying and tells in an MMORPG. Seth Brantley is an Economics professor who just likes MMORPGs. They’ve been playing in the same guild with one another for months when a casual mention of a restaurant clues them both in to the fact that they’ve been sitting across a courtyard from one another the entire time. AND THEN SEX. Okay, not quite. (It is romantic erotica though, so there is a lot of really good sex.)

Allison had a very bad relationship. It lasted for years, was never a good idea, and ended really poorly. Allison is not into the idea of another relationship. But here’s what I love about Del Dryden’s work, and what I will always love about Del Dryden’s work: ultimately, her people are pretty happy and well adjusted. And when they aren’t? It’s not some awful unconquerable issue that’s going to eat up every bit of your enjoyment and THEIR enjoyment of the sexy funtimes. Delphine writes what I like to call happy kink. This book isn’t even particularly kinky, but that assessment remains.

I’ll also admit that I don’t know jackshit about MMORPGs, except that some of my family is pretty obsessed. But that also didn’t affect my enjoyment of this book at all. This book is about two really brainy, nerdy, gaming professors having hot sex and falling in love and if that’s not something you want to read, this is super not the book for you at all. Luckily, I’m super into competency porn, brainy nerdy main characters, and hot sex.

This book also does something I didn’t even realize was possible: has one of the hottest sex scenes ever … and it’s cyber sex. I was on the train reading it, huddle into a corner and flushed to my ears and so angry that I was stuck on a train reading this instead of in the privacy of my own home as God intended. Luckily, the in person sex is just as hot.

So, if you like mostly happy nerds having mostly happy hot sex then definitely pick up this book. If you just like hot sex, pick up this book. JUST READ THE BOOK OKAY? OKAY. Bye.

Amazon | iBooks

HOW TO TELL A LIE & ART OF THE LIE BY DELPHINE DRYDEN COVER REAL + excerpt and blurb

Today I am very, very honored to launch the cover reveal for the first two books in Delphine Dryden’s re-released first series, Truth & Lies. They’ve been out of print/off the shelf for over a year now, and were her original “nerdmances”. Click below to view the covers and a blurb & excerpt from the first installment, How to Tell a Lie. 

Read More »

Anything But Broken – Joelle Knox

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Anything but Broken – Joelle Knox

Hannah Casey is a 20 year old college student with a horrible decision on her plate: her mother is back in her small hometown, currently in a comatose state, and Hannah is tasked with when to pull to the plug and how to handle all of the assets her parents have left behind after their terrible car accident.

Sean Whitlow never left their small town of Hurricane Creek, GA, is a car mechanic with a penchant for fast cars in general and also, oh right, races cars. And let’s not forget, he’s Hannah’s older sister’s ex. Oh, and Hannah’s older sister Cait is dead.

Basically, at the root of it, this story hits very close to home in very many, varied ways for me. When half of Joelle sent this to me as an ARC, she warned me about the content of it. That there were lots of scenes dealing with alcoholism and the fallout from alcoholism and the fallout that never fucking stops from alcoholism, because she knows that’s a very, very big sore spot for me. Also, because I’m moving in… six days, and I’m pretty emotionally raw.

As I told her and as I will repeat here: normally, I can’t read narratives so heavily steeped in my triggers. But, when it comes to the duo behind Joelle Knox, I know that no matter what I read in it, it’s going to ring true and it’s going to be nuanced and it’s going to be respectful of how hard it is and how multilayered the anger and pain and denial can be. This is my way of saying, yes, Hannah’s back story is heavily steeped in the addictions and the mental illness of her family, but it’s done in a way where I want to fistbump Hannah, not write a long letter to an author that ultimately winds up being: no. Not that. Don’t do that.

But more than a story about a young woman who has had to deal with this, it’s about a young woman who has never been able to have her own identity. She knows exactly who she’s supposed to be in this world, and she’s never actually had the opportunity to look herself in the mirror and delve inside of her own mind and heart and find out what Hannah wants out of this world.

It’s the story of a dutiful daughter who is suddenly no one’s daughter or sister, and the story of a boy that’s only sort of on the wrong side of the tracks, and the twain should likely not meet because of their history, but together they find some sort of solace and understanding.

Which is to not even delve into Sean and the painful realism of what it is to grow up in a small town in the deep South. Sorry, I think I identified a little too strongly with Hannah on this one so all of my feelings are OH MY GOD HANNAHHHHHHHH SOBBING NOISES.  But beyond just Hannah, it’s exactly the sort of well-constructed romance and connection you would expect to find from the duo that also writes as Kit Rocha, and nicely sets up me REALLY WANTING THE OTHER BOOKS, PLEASE NOW *grabby hands*.

You can pick up Anything but Broken at any of the following retailers starting August 25. 2015 and I highly, highly recommend it:

AMAZON | B&N | KOBO | iBOOKS

Tremaine’s True Love – Grace Burrowes

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Tremaine’s True Love by Grace Burrowes – A-

My greatest convention fail thus far is that, somehow, I let myself get away from the conference without having met Grace Burrowes.  I adore Grace Burrowes and I adore very nearly everything she’s written that I’ve read. This is no different, and is very different somehow in the same breath.

Tremaine St. Michael is in trade. He trades in sheep. There is some backstory where his blood is, technically, blue, but he’s very much outside the aristocracy. They respect him. He’s rolling around in money, but he is not one of them. He is currently in the process of trying to secure a number of very good sheep from the Earl of Haddonfield; the Earl of Haddonfield is currently trying to secure a husband for one of his many sisters.

Lady Nita is Haddonfield’s eldest sister. She’s headstrong and has all but taken on the role of healer in their community. She’s not an easy lady to get close to, nor is she easy to suss out. Nita was betrayed by a man in the past, but that never centers her story. She isn’t a scorned woman in this novel, she’s just a woman that feels like no one will ever respect her for the things she is passionate about.

It’s hard to describe what I love so much about this book because there is no One Central Issue the hero and heroine must conquer. This is a startlingly melancholy read. Or it startled me. This isn’t an easy, light-hearted, fluff Regency about a headstrong Earl’s sister and the inappropriate man she falls for. They don’t simply bicker and spar verbally and then makeout and have sex and get married. That’s not the journey that Tremaine and Nita take.

Instead, this is about two people who have been — I hesitate to say mistreated since children, but they have never felt appreciated or seen or truly cared for. Nita was, in ways, used by both her mother and her father to tend the wounds of both. She was put to use and both her father and the village takes advantage of the fact that she cares, and cares deeply. Tremaine was abandoned by his mother and carries that wound with him today. But the thing that makes me want to kiss Grace Burrowes is that finally a hero that had an emotionally painful relationship to his mother that doesn’t turn around and use it as an excuse to abuse the heroine.

The road to happiness is not easy for Nita or Tremaine. These two are very much adults in this story. Their problems are not the problems of protected and coddled 20 year olds. Tremaine finds Nita’s passions fundamentally unsafe and in his attempt to protect her from herself, drives her away. Nita is not going to be bowled over by Tremaine. But what I keep coming back to in this story is that the black moment is also a bleak moment. Nita and Tremaine don’t have a knockdown drag out that you can later one laugh about because it was a miscommunication. No, they very clearly communicate what they need from each other and — sadly, what they need from each other isn’t workable. Primarily because Tremaine can’t stand the idea of losing Nita, and Nita can’t stand the idea of losing the identity and work she’s had for so long.

This is one of the few novels I’ve read where 3/4s through the book I sincerely was not positive they would find a way to make it work in a way that I accepted. But, because Burrowes is one of those magical writers, it does work out in the end, and in an exceptionally satisfying manner. I highly recommend this book. Highly. A wonderful, if slightly bleaker, romance from Burrowes.

Buy at:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/AmazonBurrowesTremaine

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNBurrowesTremaine

iBooks: http://bit.ly/AppleBurrowesTremaine

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/IndieBurrowesTremaine

 

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Thinky Blogging about Triggers and Life

Hello my wonderful reader friends.

I do have some reviews forthcoming, but I’ve had a couple of hiccups in my reading schedule. I will say this, for as rewarding as it is, being an unpaid nanny to a newborn does take it out of you. It also tends to distract from being able to really focus on a book you’re reading at all critically. In addition to that, the unpaid nannying required driving back and forth about 300 miles every couple of weeks, chewing up my weekends and spitting them out like so much refuse. Along with that, as I’ve mentioned multiple times, I am preparing to move about 800 miles in LESS THAN TWO MONTHS NOW !!!!

I also have an editing job on my desk at the moment, which is a new and awesome experience. I’m leaving in four days to spend a few days apartment hunting. And then just a few weeks from now, I’m going to be at RWA for the full RWA experience (I WILL BE BLOGGING ABOUT IT, trust me). I have a few really exciting things that will be happening while I’m at RWA that I’m just squirmy over.

However, I think the bigger hiccup in my reading and reviewing lately has been a somewhat tumultuous emotional time for me. I have a few depression and anxiety disorders that tend to result in a hodge podge of negative emotions anyway, when other people aren’t in my brain messing me up.

One of the things that’s horrific to deal with when it comes to bad anxiety times is your triggers. Or they are for me. Things that I would normally almost enjoy in a book, hard emotional struggles that are ultimately conquered are my bread and butter. But when I’m anxious it’s a series of, “someone please please tell me if this book has anything from the following list of things that become a hair trigger.” This includes but is not limited to: anything even resembling emotional abuse as part of the story (weirdly, more able to cope with/move past physical abuse BACKSTORIES, not currently), anything remotely related to sexual assault, anything that even brushes against substance abuse (ESPECIALLY ALCOHOL), anything too entrenched in anxiety disorders —

There’s a list. As you can tell. And when I’m in a bad place, literally just a backstory that plays a somewhat significant role is too much for me. Which means that New Adult becomes an actual field of emotional landmines. Any romance written before about 2004/2005 becomes scary. Anyyyyything approaching Romantic Suspense is off the list. Most paranormal is off the list. A good amount of darker erotica isn’t good to go. Plenty of contemporaries tackle abusive relationships and substance abuse.

And frankly, being able to deftly handle these dark themes is usually what makes a book burrow into my soul. I have Cara McKenna’s After Hours sitting at the top of my To Be Read pile and I’m just like LOLOLOLOLOLOL NOPE. Can’t. Maybe can’t until I move. I also probably won’t get to my lovely Alisha Rai’s Serving Pleasure until after my move because a good friend warned me that something in the hero’s backstory would be triggering for me, especially right now. And of course, there’s the outside chance that I’ll feel a lot better very soon and totally be fine to read the darker books again, but it seems pretty unlikely at this point.

Of course, this super super affects my reading of the ARCs I have piled up because, honestly, I’m a little scared of stumbling upon something that’s going to have me curling in bed and taking enough benadryl to help me go to sleep because otherwise it’s Sob City for hours on end. Which throws off the thing I enjoy the most: reading and promoting books and authors and interacting with the community I love at large.

It sucks. When you’re a new blogger, consistency is a huge thing that gets your name on someone’s map somewhere. Not that fame or infamy is the name of my game, but it’s nice to have a community and be a part of the community and to think that someone out there enjoys your words and would want to interact with you in regard to them some day. It sucks that my emotional health reeks havoc with this so often, especially this year. But I’m trying to stick with it, and to sooth myself have done nothing but read Elle Kennedy erotica for the past week. I finally started an older Grace Burrowes yesterday, and Rebecca Grace Allen’s The Duality Principle which touches on some themes, but thus far hasn’t made me actually NEED to put it down. Maybe I’m on the mend.

Thank you all for sticking with me through thick and thing, through reading and rough patches,
El.