#StrongRomanceHeroines, Erotica, Reading, Respond to Reading, Responding to Reading, Uncategorized

Respond to Reading: Seven Sins

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For some reason, I don’t often read novella anthologies – I wouldn’t be able to tell you why- but when I saw the concept for Seven Sins, where each novella was based on a different sin, I was sold.

And when I read them, I fell in love.

It should, however, be pointed out that these novellas are incredibly sexy.  I read them on my work commute and might have had a couple of moments where I prayed that no-one noticed how flushed I was.

Envy

Blaze for Me – Natalie Anderson

When Austin Tate busts Nicoletta Valeri in a blistering moment of voyeuristic orgasm-envy, it’s the perfect chance for some payback, but instead she’s lit a fire than can be extinguished by only one thing…

There’s something quite delicious about a narrative that opens with a sex scene that isn’t between the hero and the heroine.  Anderson sets up Nicoletta as a sweet but frustrated sportswoman with plenty of talent and more than a little bit of a thing for Austin Tate.  Incredibly hot, but with a realistic conflict that made me fall a little in love with the characters.

Gluttony

Glutton For Punishment – Amy Andrews

With a sudden hankering to be spanked, Darcy Henderson figures Mitch Callaghan is the man for the job. But is she woman enough to take it?

Rarely is a sexy novella set against the backdrop of a senior citizens’ apartment complex, but it works.  This reminded me a little of Andrews’ Holding Out for a Hero, in that the secondary characters stood out as three-dimensional and developed as the main two, much to my delight.  This is Andrews’ first foray into BDSM, and it works beautifully, with a clear understanding of the different levels of kink.  Plus it’s laugh out loud funny at times and I fell pretty hard for both Darcy and Mitch.

Lust

Burned by Lust – Michele de Winton

Biker, Hade Corban is set to take over the Raising Hellfire Gang and love isn’t on his agenda, but lusty goodtime girl Lee Delevinge is hell bent on burning up his heart.

De Winton’s heroine, Lee, is anything but ashamed of her love for sex – especially when that sex involves none other than gorgeous bike Hade Corban.  I love the way that de Winton presents Lee as she is, without any judgement or criticism; it’s a refreshing attitude towards women’s appetite of sex.  And Hade’s internal conflict makes him realistic and well-balanced between biker and hero.

Wrath

Sleeping with the Enemy – Robin Covington

All’s fair in love and baseball…but when Kat Carter, the newly-minted GM for the Virginia Venom, is determined to recruit rival superstar shortstop (and former lover) Derek Foxx the last thing she expects is a sexy ultimatum…

I’m a massive fan of #StrongRomanceHeroines, and Covington’s Kat Carter is definitely one of those.  She’s worked hard to earn her place as a general manager in a world dominated by men, and her fear that a romance with a player could ruin her reputation, is one that I can understand.  Luckily, Covington works out a way of giving Kat both her career and her lover.

Sloth

Princess Sin – Avery Flynn

There’s trouble on the horizon when Cynthia Aston, who the tabloids have nicknamed Princess Cyn for her slacker party girl ways, stows away on a yacht that belongs to workaholic billionaire Hunter McKenney, her older brother’s sexy best friend.

Out of all of these novellas, the one that dealt with sloth seemed to me the hardest one to marry with a love narrative, however, Flynn’s story of entitled Cynthia Aston, more than happy to laze away and not bother working and her passion for Hunter McKenney – her opposite in every way – met the brief perfectly.  Cue a sizzling sex scene on a yacht and my heart melting.

Pride

Accidentally Sinful – Carmen Falcone

Stranded due to a snowstorm, Santiago Cruz must let go of his pride and acknowledge forbidden feelings for the woman he loves but can’t forgive—his stepsister.

I love a good snowstorm – especially when it forces two characters to reexamine their feelings for each other.  Tiffany Burrows and Santiago Cruz are both hiding secrets from each other, and Falcone’s skillfulness in unwrapping each piece of the puzzle slowly and carefully is what makes this a delightful read.

Greed

How to Seduce A CEO – Talia Hunter

Hot shot CEO Marcus Bolton’s decided who to hire for the top job, and it’s not Angel Moore, no matter how temping she might be. But Angel will do whatever it takes to land the job of her dreams—even seduce the boss.

Angel’s a strong business woman, who’s been backed into a corner by a boss who’s incompetent and misogynistic, so she’s determined to get this promotion by any means necessary.  But little does she expect Marcus Bolton to get under her skin the way he does.  Hunter’s story of two people, determined to keep their careers going, whilst heading for a collision is charming and sizzling.

Exploits of a Chick Lit Aficionado, Reading, Respond to Reading, Responding to Reading, Tule Publishing

Respond to Reading: Claimed by the Warrior

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I first discovered Joss Wood with the launch of Modern Tempted (or KISS, as it was called in the US), back in August 2013. My review of that novel, If You Can’t Stand the Heat, was accompanied by a Mills & Boon boy (one of my male friends caroused into posing with the book) and so a love affair began.

I love Joss’ writing, which is one of the reasons why she’s an autobuy author for me. Her characters have heart and sass and there are plot twists which I love.

Claimed by the Warrior is no exception.

It’s got a typically Wood-ian hero in Jed Hamilton (yes, I`m making that a thing): a man who is strong and fiercely independent, who doesn’t usually rely on anybody else. I’m a sucker for these heroes, partly because my own fiance’s incredibly similar. There’s something swoonworthy about someone who won’t open up to anyone but the heroine; it helps create a special bond between the characters that is impossible for either of them to deny forever, however much they may want to.

And to go along with this (rather delicious) hero is McKenna Dixon. I love the way that she interacts with Jed, calling him out when he unintentionally upsets his little sister`s wedding dress shopping and standing up to him when she doesn’t think he’s being upfront with her.

The chemistry between the two of them is sizzling from the outset, with a particularly steamy scene at a restaurant standing out, but the thing that’s most apparent to both the reader and the characters, is that there’s genuine tenderness and affection amidst the heat.

In addition to all this, there’s a thriller-esque element to the story, with Jed stepping up when he realises that McKenna has a stalker, and the eventual revelation at the end came as a bit of a surprise (in a good way – I like that writers can still surprise me sometimes). Romantic suspense is a sub-genre of romance that I’m beginning to enjoy more and more, so I was delighted t see this kind of writing from Joss.

All in all, a delightful read, with Wood’s strong characterisation once more at the forefront of a darn good read.

Reading, Respond to Reading, Responding to Reading

Respond to Reading: The Shepherd’s Crown

 

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Sir Terry Pratchett died in March this year.

Even writing that, six months later, seems surreal.  As far back as I can remember, I’ve seen Pratchett books.  It was his books, along with various David Eddings works and the Complete Works of Sherlock Homes, that my dad would leave lying around in the house and that I, pretentious in the way that only toddlers can be, would sit and pretend to read.

I grew up reading Pratchett, falling in love with the Discworld and finding strong female characters that I looked up to and admired.

So when I say that I dreaded reading the last Discworld book, perhaps you can understand why.

It was a mix of fear – fear that it wouldn’t be as good as I hoped it would, that it wouldn’t be the ending to the series that we all could hope for – and sadness.  I am immeasurably sad that I will never read a Pratchett book for the first time ever again.

But, unsurprisingly, Sir Terry did not disappoint.

The Shepherd’s Crown is moving and funny and dark and magical and all-encompassing.  I read it with tears rolling down my cheeks, without even realising it until someone on the train asked if I was okay.  (And yes, that is incredibly embarrassing)

For those who have read the series already, you’ll know that there are series within the main series – the Witches, the Guard, Death etc – and this has at its heartmy two favourites:  the Witches, and the Tiffany Aching series.

As a character, Tiffany is the kind of girl that you imagine Granny Weatherwax would have been; no nonsense and all work.  She’s got a grit to her that’s offset by the Nac Mac Feegles, (the all-fighting, all-drinking clan of Pictsies that are the scourge of the fae), and there’s a fierce loyalty to her that makes her the perfect heroine.

I’m very aware of the fact that this is his last book, and therefore have no intention of spoiling the book for anyone, but I found myself falling steadily more and more in love with Discworld, and more and more sad to leave it.  I don’t know whether Pratchett knew that this would be his last book, but it certainly feels like a finale.  It seems to me that this is the perfect end to the series and I feel privileged to have been part of that journey.

Reading

Cue the Inevitable Birthday Post

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I get stupidly excited about my birthday every year without fail.  Essentially, I view it as an excuse to get drunk with the people I love (or in the case of my family, eat an obscene amount of food together).  It’s beyond awesome.  And this year was no different.

Over the whole birthday weekend (yes, it was a weekend), I was spoiled terribly.  There was cake, there was homemade fajitas, there was cocktail after cocktail after cocktail.  And a lot more beside.

The fiance took me into Forbidden Planet and let me loose with a budget.  SO AWESOME.  I came away with the following trade paperbacks:

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Ms Marvel, the first comic to star a Muslim woman as a superheroine.  She’s funny, sassy, and fits in perfectly with Marvel’s younger generation heroes.  (Sidenote:  The only complaint I have about my bday being in March, is that it means that I couldn’t get the tp for Gotham Academy)

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Speaking of younger generation comics, I was so taken by Gillen and McKelvie’s Young Avengers series, that I jumped on the opportunity to read their new outing, The Wicked & The Divine.  Plus I’m love anything that has godheads at the centre of it (see my obsession with Neil Gaiman’s American Gods).

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And then there’s Constantine.  I missed Hellblazer the first time round so I thought why the hell not?!  I’m pretty keen on the new tv series and it’s different from many of the comics I’ve read before.  Plus the artwork looked pretty (though apparently the internet disagrees…), so I picked up the first three tps.  Watch this space.

Then came drinking.  Turns out that there’s a cocktail called Strawberry Lemonade which has a little more booze than lemonade, but which was delicious nonetheless.

And then yesterday there was Poldark.

 

It was everything I had hoped for…and then some.  Yes there were the requisite brooding stares, but there’s heart to this drama, and a scenary that has to be seen to be believed.

I’m totally dragging Chris down to Cornwall this summer.

All in all, a fab birthday.

And now I have a request of you; I find myself in possession of a Kindle gift card (I know, my man’s the best!) and at a loss as to which books to buy.  So please, leave recommendations!  I’ll read pretty much anything aside from thrillers/horror.  So have it, dear internet!

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#PoemoftheWeek, Poetry, Quadrapheme, Reading

Forgotten Poets

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Poetry and I have a complicated relationship.

I appreciate it, occasionally struggle with writing it, and often am frustrated by it.

But what I do love about it, is the fact that I regularly discover someone or something new – completely by chance!

Today’s #PoemoftheWeek column for Quadrapheme showcases one such writer.

I’m a big fan of the shorter poetic form, and so was surprised to discover that the cinquain was developed last century by Adelaide Crapsey.

So you’ll find a whole piece over on Quadrapheme where I feel out about the cinquain’s origins, and analyse one specific poem that references an old balllad.

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#StrongRomanceHeroines, Reading

Introducing #StrongRomanceHeroines

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Nothing frustrates me more than the pigeonholing of romance novels:

“They’re all the same.”

“They’re badly written.”

“The female characters are weak.”

It drives me more than a little mad and so I’m starting a new weekly column:  #StrongRomanceHeroines

This is where, week after week, I’ll pick a strong romance heroine to talk about.  As a genre, romance is delightfully diverse with all ethnicities, sexualities and outlooks falling within its scope.  And I want to celebrate this.

Sal – Amy AndrewsAsk Me Nicely

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“Sally Kennedy needed more tequila. And an orgasm. Not necessarily in that order, of course.”

Firstly, Sal is sassy.  She was the catalyst for her best friend writing a “to-do” sex list in No More Mr Nice Guy and at the opening of this book, she’s frustrated by her lack of orgasms in recent months and so sets out to get drunk and “find a solution” to the problem.

So far, so entertaining.

But here’s the thing.  Sal is tough.  She’s had to be since the accident that ruined her life and took away what she most prized.  And she’s hard, or at least she seems that way.  She’s had a stream of one night stands because – rightly or wrongly – that’s how she’s coping with her grief, and I love the fact that the novel doesn’t shy away from this.

In fact, in some ways the novel can be seen as a lesson in how grief can manifest itself; it’s dark and gritty and heartbreaking.

And there’s the fact that Sal’s an alpha woman.  We talk so much in the romance community about alpha heroes v beta heroes, but there’s been limited discussion on that distinction in female characters.  Andrews herself has discussed it, arguing that:

I’m nervous because Sal’s an alpha woman.

She’s hard. She’s unapologetic. She wears the pants.

And I’m not sure how that’s going to go over with readers.

She’s ruthless in her private life, and damn good at her job (she’s runs a veterinary practice) and she deserves the happy ever after that she everntually gets.

Is she always likeable?  Well, she certainly frustrates us and our expectations, and that can only be a good thing.

 

Startup Stock PhotosWork In Progress Word Count:  2577 words