The Deep End by Kristen Ashley
Published by St. Martin's Griffin March 7th, 2017
Genres: Erotica, Erotica Romance
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author: At Peace
Enter a decadent sensual world where gorgeous alpha males are pleasure slaves committed to fulfilling a woman's every desire. At the elite Honey club, no boundary will be left untested, and one's darkest desires will become a sensual reality.
Olivier isn’t sure what he’s gotten himself into when he joins the Honey Club, only that a dark part of him craves the lifestyle offered by this secret, exclusive club.
When Amèlie invites Olivier to surrender, she pushes him to explore his deepest desires as a submissive. As they grow closer and find themselves falling harder than either of them anticipated, the truth about Olivier’s past could threaten the budding relationship they both long for.
Gripping and seductive, The Deep End is the first book in a sensational new series from bestselling author Kristen Ashley
I’m going to tell you a secret. I totally signed up for an ARC of this book without even reading the blurb. All I knew is that it was written by Kristen Ashley, and it was erotica.
And then right before I started to read it, I checked on Goodreads to see what was being said so far…and that’s when I learned that the premise behind The Deep End was a Domme female, and an alpha male who is her submissive.
I was so surprised, and maybe a wee bit hesitant. I’ve read a handful of male sub books and I can only remember ONE where I was able to connect to the characters and enjoy the story line. And really, typical romance glorifies male characters dominating in the bedroom… and this is the opposite.
Reviews were mixed on GR, and I was even more hesitant. But I jumped in… and I’m actually really glad I did.
Let me start by saying this… if you’re going to read this book because you’re a huge KA fan and you love her writing style (quirky heroines, mega-alpha males, tons of silly shenanigans), and that’s the only reason… DON’T. Her writing in this book is very, very different from her previous work. If your expectations are to get a Rock Chick story, you will be so incredibly disappointed. (Actually, if I didn’t know this book was by Kristen Ashley, I would have thought it was a new story from Ella Frank. Have you read her Masters Among Monsters series?! I swear the writing style is SO CLOSE to that. It’s a bit different and can take time to really get the hang of the flow and connect to the character’s voice. But once you do, you’re there and it’s magical.)
BUT, if your mind is open to a different writing style from her, and you’re into erotica and BDSM stories… DO IT!
Any hesitation I had about KA portraying an alpha sub male was obliterated. Trust me, a man can be a submissive and still be alpha. He can still test his dom and try to have authority inside and outside the bedroom. The book has a ton of sex… and I really, really liked it. It was good BDSM, if that makes sense. You can really tell when an author has either first hand experience or has truly researched that community when you read BDSM books, and KA’s scenes are phenomenally executed.
Overall, I think it was a very sexy story. I really enjoyed the entire club she has her characters in, and I really liked a lot of the secondary cast. I can see so much potential for following books, because the characters are interesting, mysterious, sexy and witty.
There were times I had trouble connecting to the characters as a couple, and there was some lingo used a lot that I didn’t love, but as an overall story I think it was good and I’m glad KA is dipping her toes into the erotica genre. If you like BDSM and hot sex… definitely give it a try.
Black Sheep by Zara Cox
Series: Dark Desires #2
Published by Forever Romance March 14, 2017
Genres: Dark Romance, Erotica
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author: Porn Star (I #1)
In a family of cold-hearted black sheep,
I, Axel Rutherford, am the blackest.
My father has hated me since the day I was born. The feeling was mutual. In the shady underworld that was my legacy, Cleo McCarthy became my light. She was beautiful, passionate, and my whole world. So naturally my father had to destroy us. First he sent me away. Next he claimed Cleo as his own. But now I've returned, and nothing will stop me from taking back everything that is rightfully mine.
He was the love of my life - when my life was still my own.
We were young enough to believe we would last forever, Axel and I. But neither of us realized how cruel life - and our families - could be. Now I'm trapped in a gilded cage: desired by Axel, who must never know the full truth, and controlled by his father, who would sooner see me dead than free. And I wouldn't even care, except that it's no longer only my life at stake.
Black Sheep may be the second installment in Cox’s Dark Desires series, but it is so loosely related to the first book (I, Porn Star), that you do not have to read that title before jumping right into this one.
Jumping in is exactly what I suggest you do! Black Sheep mixes second chance romance, a dirty talking hero, and scandalous deceptions with an easy expertise.
Axel is the estranged son of a mob boss. His father is desperate to bring him back to the fold, by any means. Including tempting him with the love of his life, Cleo, who left Axel’s bed in the worst sort of betrayal. Axel has plans of his own, however, and Cleo and his father sit in the center of them. You get a bit of a Romeo and Juliet – star crossed lovers – feel with the added danger of mobster lifestyles.
This story moves fairly quickly, but is full of twisty secrets. Cleo hates Axel for reasons he doesn’t know. Axel hates Cleo for reasons she doesn’t know. Neither has the full story, they’ve been fed lies and half truths for so many years. The hatred, though, only feeds the sexual tension that still sizzles between them, which leads to some steamy sex scenes. Even though the story is a bit rushed at times, you still feel the depth of the secrets and the hurt of the betrayals. I found it very easy to like both Axel and Cleo, right from the start. Seriously, Axel’s dirty talk was an A+, for me!
The ending could have been fleshed out a little more to my liking, but overall Cox vastly improved in style and emotion from I, Porn Star to Black Sheep. Which has me eager for round three, Wicked S.O.B., due out this August.
Mister Wrong by Nicole Williams
February 27, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Cora Matthews grew up with the Adams’ boys, twin brothers and best friends who wouldn’t let anything come between them—except for her. One of them became her best friend; the other, her fiancé.
She always knew she’d wind up marrying one of them, and Jacob Adams is the epitome of Mister Right. At least until he fails to show up for their wedding.
As Jacob’s best man, and identical twin, Matt makes a split-second decision that will affect the three of their lives forever—he steps in to take his brother’s place. In front of the altar, exchanging vows with the woman he’s secretly been in love with for years.
But Cora finds out about the groom swap. The morning after the wedding. As if realizing she just slept with her fiancé’s brother isn’t disturbing enough, she’s forced to confront the feelings for Matt Adams she thought she’d buried years ago.
Through the course of her real honeymoon with her fake husband, she uncovers truths both Adams brothers were hoping to keep hidden, for opposite reasons. One to protect himself, the other to protect her.
She married the wrong brother, but what if he’s been the right one all along?
I’ve read about half of what Nicole Williams has written and I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve picked up. Mister Wrong is no different.
Mister Wrong is a short (like really short. Less than 200 pages short) story that is a cute second-chance type romance involving Cora and twin brothers, Jacob and Matt. She grew up with the Adams brothers since she was six years old, and has been in love with one or the other (or both!) since she can remember.
The story starts and she finds herself at the alter with her fiance’ (and high school sweetheart) Jacob. But what she doesn’t realize is that Jacob is a no-show and she’s really exchanging vows with Matt, the brother who has been madly, deeply, and secretively in love with her, always, and is pretending to be his brother so that her heart isn’t destroyed on her big day. Purely unselfish reasons…. maybe.
They find themselves on the honeymoon, alcohol and hormones take over, and boy do they have a honeymoon. Their chemistry is on point, ya’ll.
And then of course, it comes to light the Matt isn’t Jacob, and Jacob is on his way to claim his fiance’ back.
There’s drama. There’s good angsty parts. There’s wonderfully sexy parts. Matt shows some good alpha moments, too.
Overall it was a really good, quick story. There are parts that I didn’t love… where the story got unrealistic enough I was like, “Come on you guysssss. This would never, could never happen.” And usually when things like this are in a story (yes, I know this is all fiction, but there are just some things that are eye-roll worthy) I usually DNF. But with Mister Wrong, I didn’t really care too much. Yes, I noticed it was maybe a wee bit ridiculous, but it fit the story, the characters, and Nicole Williams is a strong writer.
I think if the story was a bit longer, and Matt and Cora had time together, building their relationship for the reader to enjoy… for us to see their love, and get to enjoy the journey of them figuring them out… I would have given it another star, totally.
Don’t let my few hesitations hang you up from picking up this book. It was sweet and sexy story that I think most people will really enjoy!
Damage Control by Lisa Renee Jones
Published by St. Martin's Griffin February 21, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Format: ARC, Audio
Source: Copy for Honest Review, Purchased
Narrator: Grace Grant, Jeremy York
Also by this author: Hard Rules
Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy in Damage Control, the smoldering, scorching next novel in the explosively sexy Dirty Money series.
The only thing more dangerous than a dark secret is a damaged heart…
Shane Brandon has been pushed to the brink, torn between his corrupt family and his explosive, all-consuming desire for Emily Stevens, who he now knows is not who, and what, she seems. Has he trusted the wrong person? Will she, not his brother Derek, be the ultimate destruction of his family Empire?
Emily tries to run from Shane, but he will stop her, confront her, force her to reveal all — one hot touch and kiss at a time, under every intimate detail of who this woman is, and what she wants, is exposed. But as he tears away the dangers of the unknowns with the woman in his bed, and in his heart, The Martina Cartel has set their sights on his company, his family, and the one piece of leverage they believe he won’t gamble with: Emily.
The blurb is what got me to read book one, Hard Rules, in this series by Lisa Renee Jones:
“When Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy…”
There really isn’t a better way to describe these books. Picture the chaotic, crazy mess and ever-constant web spinning of the Sons of Anarchy cast… but instead of dirty (but sexy) bikers, picture filthy rich (and equally as sexy) bajillionaires.
I absolutely loved book 1 (you can read my review here) and was so excited to get my hands on book 2, Damage Control. But with my entire family dropping like flies with the flu, my life got a bit hectic and I was late starting my ARC and ended up buying the audiobook and switching back and forth from e-book to audio (I highly recommend the audiobook, I think the narrators are fabulous, by the way!)
Damage Control starts exactly where book one leaves off, with a giant freaking mess, more secrets than you can remember, and pretty much zero answers as well. I seriously haven’t read a book with so many intricate details, and lies, and side plots going on at once… it’s incredible the web that Lisa Renee Jones spins in these books. You never really know who is good, who is bad, what side someone is on, who is going down next, who is plotting what… seriously! I am good at figuring things out but good lord I leave each book wondering how the flaming fig newton someone can get out of these disasters unscathed.
Emily and Shane both have secrets and terrible families that are desperately trying to drag them down. There’s international hacking groups, murder, a cartel, a billion dollar family business changing control, cancer… you name it. It is all in there tearing everybody apart at every angle.
I felt like this story was a lot of figuring out Shane and Emily’s pasts and how they would conquer their future… if they even have one together. A lot of the plots are intense and action-packed, but Shane and Emily handle it separate from each other. Unlike book one where they are busy trying to handle their feelings, and the hiding of their relationship from co-workers and family members, in book 2 they’re together in the open. The plot is more focused on the suspense, the mystery, the scandal. The parts where Shane and Emily are actually together are when they’re home from work or bustin’ cartel booty… and naked.
I loved that their relationship was there in the very steamy background, and the story instead took on a very strong voice more based on plot than relationship, if that makes sense. It’s such an amazing, mind-boggling storyline that I loved immersing myself in the wtf is happening, how can they fix this, omg what now?!
Yes, they are still figuring out what “us” even means, and let me tell you… *fans face* Their “us” is sexy AF. *fans face harder.* Shane is the epitome of alpha male. And Emily is just as strong, no matter how lost she is in life, that chick is one bad ass mamba-jamba!
I can’t recommend this series enough, and if you enjoy romantic suspense that’ll get your heart pounding (for multiple reasons) this series is a must click!
Enter to win (2) $25 Amazon gift cards, (3) signed books of Hard Rules and (3) Dirty Money totes!!
Black Hearts by Karina Halle
Series: Sins Duet #1
February 19, 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense, Romance
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author: Dust to Dust
For Vicente Bernal, truth is all he’s known. The son of an infamous drug lord, Vicente was born to help run the family business, which means he’s been raised on a throne of sordid pasts and dirty laundry, violence and pride. But when Vicente stumbles across someone he’s not supposed to know about – a woman from his father’s checkered past – he sets out to California to find her behind his father’s back.
What Vicente doesn’t expect to find in San Francisco is Violet McQueen, the woman’s twenty-year old daughter. Beautiful and edgy with a vulnerability he can’t resist, Violet tempts Vicente from afar and though he promised himself he’d stay away from her, curiosity and lust are powerful forces. Besides, Vicente has always gotten everything he wants – why shouldn’t he have Violet too?
Soon his wants turn into an obsession, one that sweeps Violet into his games as they fall madly, deeply in love with each other, the type of first love that can drive a person mad.
But it’s a love with tragic consequences.
Both the truth – and the lies – not only threaten to tear them apart, but threaten their very lives.
Someone has to pay for the sins of the fathers.
And they’ll be paying the price with their souls.
Review is probably not the best word for this. It should just be described as ‘that time Tiffany and Ali reminisced about the characters they love’. Hopefully, you get something out of this. Hopefully, that something is that you want to read this book. 😉
What three words would you use to best describe Black Hearts?
Tiffany: You always do this to me and it’s hard. Lol. But let me try… Vicente, Javier, Bernal. Because that blood line is FUCKING GOLD!
Ali: Javier is back.
Tiffany: Hahah! I mean Javier is a self centered asshole it makes sense we have similar answers!
Ali: I love him and all his fucked up flaws.
Tiffany: FOREVER AND EVER!
Tiffany: Dude…omg. Every part he was in, I just about died!
Ali: I know! I’m so glad age didn’t change him. He’ll be a grumpy ass murdering grandpa and I’ll still think he’s hot.
Seriously though, how exciting was it to see Ellie, Camden and Javier back on the pages?
Ali: It’s pretty awesome to get a glimpse of some of your all time favorite characters, years later. These three hold a very special place in my heart and one of them, in particular, is still living up to everything I loved about them from the start.
Tiffany: I totally agree with you although I read them like a year and a half go, no other drug lord trumps JAVIER, none. He is the ultimate. It took a second for me to adjust and envision them older while reading but once I did it was like NOSTALGIA HEAVEN.
Javier feels remorse snake through his body but then it’s gone. It never stays for long. It knows it’s not welcome.
Ali: Fuck. That’s so good.
Tiffany: But this is my favorite:
Wherever they go, we will follow. If he wants to fall in love while getting his dick sucked, it will only make his own life harder, not mine.
First impressions of Violet?
Tiffany: She kind of bored me, not in like a bad way where I didn’t like her but her personality was a bit monotone. I did however LOVE that she is an aspiring photographer. By the end though, I really did like her. But I think I especially liked her when her and Vicente had their first spat. I loved how she pushed back and didn’t accept him giving her bullshit.
Ali: She’s much more timid and sensitive than I expected from parents with such strong personalities. I think I expected someone edgier, someone with some bite. I guess I can understand how she’d be a more quiet and sensitive girl though, too. I imagine that could happen, constantly living around alpha types. I really had to have a good ‘think’ about her.
I agree, by the end I liked her more. I hope she comes in to her own in the next book.
Tiffany: Yes! There was definitely layers to her that are slowly being peeled back. I can’t wait to see what Vicente evokes out of her.
First impressions of Vicente?
Tiffany: Actually I wavered with my impression on him at first. Seeing as he is the son of Javier I instantly was in love with him but I think I was expecting him to be just like Javier. Then when he wasn’t I was like WHAT?! But that was my own personal hinderance I had to get over. Once I did, I was like damn! And he likes licking all the frosting off the cupcake if you know what I mean!
Ali: I thought the same. I expected him to be so diabolical. Where as he’s much more calculated and methodical.
Javier is too, but he was a bit more of a hip shooter. Vicente doesn’t give me that same feel.
Tiffany: Yes that’s it’s exactly it, Vicente has more feelings than Javier and it’s like an ice water shock. Lol
Ali: Yes! That’s a good way to put it. But, I loved him no less. He’s much more in tune with his feelings but his mind is still totally twisted.
I wonder what our take would be on it, had we not read The Artist Trilogy and Dirty Angels series first. I bet it would be completely different. We should have made Leah read this with us.
Tiffany: We should have!
Man… that part where Vicente was like I heard stories of what my dad did to Esteban. Seriously at the thought of Esteban I physically shrieked!
Ali: Hahaha! Esteban is not an image you easily forget.
Tiffany: That (Dirty Promises) is still one of the most gruesome books I’ve ever read.
Ali: Me too. So violent. I mean, it’s a drug cartel, so it’s fitting. But damn.
Tiffany: Luisa and the chicken. I couldn’t eat chicken for weeks!!!
I hope no one dies in the next book that matters, I couldn’t handle it.
Ali: Hmmm. I don’t know how you get out of this situation with nobody dying.
Tiffany: That’s what I’m most scared of.
Ali: I have a feeling the four parents are not going to be all rainbows and unicorns about this love connection.
Tiffany: You know even though I’m all for Javier I’m excited to see how Camden reacts, I want to see his violence unleashed!!
Ali: OMG, ragey Camden. Yes, please. For all the days.
Honestly though, I really want to see Vicente and Violet to just take all of this to the street and teach their parents to butt the fuck out.
Tiffany: Yes! I have a feeling Luisa is going to pull some ninja shit. Idk what but I have a feeling.
One thing is for sure, March 17th couldn’t be further away! This will definitely be where we see how truly similar or different Vicente is from his papa.
Ali: I’m pretty anxious for that showdown!