Review | The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

Title: The Siren

Author: Tiffany Reisz

Publish Date: July 24, 2012

Publisher: Harlequin

Website: http://tiffanyreisz.com/

Imprint: HarlequinMIRA

My Source: NetGalley

My rating: 3 Stars Overall

In the world of kink authors, she’s the top.

Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she’s sure it’ll be her breakout book…if it ever sees the light of day.

Zachary Easton holds Nora’s fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it’s no deal.

Nora’s grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining…and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him…or returning to his bed?

Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple. (Official Summary)

My Review:

I really need to give this book two ratings. I do not generally like to read books that glorify infidelity, student/teacher relationships where the student is a minor or any relationships where one person is in a position of power and abuses that power to seduce a minor. I typically will put these types of books on the DNF shelf. However, I did finish this book even though some things came to light about 82% into the book. So, my first rating is strictly based on the storytelling. My second is based on certain content. My final rating is the average of the two.

My first rating is 4 stars.

Looking at this book’s story, and writing, I have to say I liked it. It was different than most romance novels I’ve read. The heroine, Nora isn’t your typical doe-eyed virgin who can’t make a decision if her life depended on it. Instead, Nora is strong, funny in a sarcastic way, and she is somewhat damaged. There is a reason she is the way she is and it is solely because of the one man she only truely ever loved. She has two other men in her life and they are the antithesis of what she is and knows. I think she really wanted to be “normal”, have “normal” love but didn’t quite know how to get to it so, she grasped onto the two men she thought she could have that with. Unfortunately, both those men were unattainable for various reasons. This story isn’t a romance, there is no happily ever after in the sense we are used to and this made the story very interesting for me. It is also an erotic/bdsm novel and I liked how it wasn’t in your face all the time. The premise of the story was that Nora wanted to write a breakthrough novel different from her mainstream erotic fiction and I really felt the author doing the same with her own writing. I appreciated that while some things were graphic, it wasn’t so graphic that I lost what the story was about. In fact, my favorite quote in the book was when Zach, Nora’s editor, would tell her “show, don’t tell” when he would read her manuscript. The author really made a conscious effort to practice what her fictitious editor was preaching.

My second rating is 2 stars.

About 80% in we learn the entire story between Nora and her one true love Soren – how they came to know each other. That is where the story didn’t work for me. Without giving anything away, I just felt things could have been different, it didn’t need to be the way it was.

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Review | Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Title: Into the Darkest Corner

Author: Elizabeth Haynes

Publish Date: June 5th 2012

Publisher: Harper

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Purchased at BN

My rating: 4 Stars

Catherine has been enjoying the single life for long enough to know a good catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic, spontaneous – Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell. But there is a darker side to Lee. His erratic, controlling and sometimes frightening behaviour means that Catherine is increasingly isolated. Driven into the darkest corner of her world, and trusting no one, she plans a meticulous escape. Four years later, struggling to overcome her demons, Catherine dares to believe she might be safe from harm. Until one phone call changes everything. This is an edgy and powerful first novel, utterly convincing in its portrayal of obsession, and a tour de force of suspense. (Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

Whoa! I don’t know where to begin. First off, this book is very dark – a woman is brutally attacked by someone she loves. The story gives you, the reader, some insight into what the attacker did to her mentally and how she is dealing with it in the aftermath. If you are not into reading about this kind of abuse – mental and physical, don’t read this.

This was recommended to me and while it is not typically the type of book I would read, I have to admit that I liked it. I kept wanting to read on. I don’t know if it was because of the flashback style of writing or the way the author really engaged me into the aftermath of the trauma Cathy went thru (she was seriously OCD). The writing style was so descriptive, especially regarding Cathy’s OCD but I never felt it was too much. I really started to feel for her – how trapped she felt and became. While this story could have verged on the predictable side, it didn’t. It really kept me on my toes all the way to the end.

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Review | Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard

Title: Gabriel’s Rapture

Author: Sylvain Reynard

Publish Date: May 22nd 2012

Publisher: Omnific Publishing

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Borrowed from a friend

My rating: 3.5 Stars

Professor Gabriel Emerson has embarked on a passionate, yet clandestine affair with his former student, Julia Mitchell.

Sequestered on a romantic holiday in Italy, he tutors her in the sensual delights of the body and the rapture of sex. But when they return, their happiness is threatened by conspiring students, academic politics, and a jealous ex-lover.

When Gabriel is confronted by the university administration, will he be forced to share Dante’s fate? Or will he fight to keep Julia, his Beatrice, forever? (Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

I can honestly say, this continuation of Gabriel and Julia’s story was just as sensual and seductive as the first. It was just as – if not a little more romantic BUT it was frustrating more moments than I wanted. (Pun fully intended!) The author’s style and language is very romantic and made for a very pleasurable reading experience. My only complaint, one of the things I really enjoyed in the first book was Gabriel’s personality. When he was being a jerk I found him irresistible, intriguing but in the second book he seemed to be too much of a gentlemen. (I’m trying to not give too much away) I wished the author described some of Gabriel’s sexual frustration more – it would have made him more relatble

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Review | Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

Title: Gabriel’s Inferno

Author: Sylvain Reynard

Publish Date: April 18, 2011

Publisher: Omnific Publishing

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Borrowed from a friend

My rating: 3.5 Stars

Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption.

When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide.

An intriguing and sinful exploration of seduction, forbidden love and redemption, “Gabriel’s Inferno” is a captivating and wildly passionate tale of one man’s escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible…forgiveness and love.

NB: This book was a semi-finalist for Best Romance in the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards. (Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

This book definitely had the cookie cutter romance elements: rich, brooding/broken guy, young, virginal 20-something girl, a steamy connection between the two, drama and tension etc. But… the writing was something quite different. The author did an amazing job telling this story and transporting the reader – I WANTED to be wherever Gabriel and Julia were. I WANTED to be Julia. This story was not erotic with the “in your face” sex, it was romantic and sensual – it left something to the imagination and I couldn’t put it down.

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Review | The Three-Day Affair by Michael Kardos

Title: The Three-Day Affair

Author: Michael Kardos

Publish Date: September 04, 2012

Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Website: Official Site Here

Imprint: The Mysterious Press

My Source: Netgalley

My rating: 3 Stars

The first debut novel from the newly relaunched Mysterious Press intro­duces a phenomenal new voice in the realm of crime fiction. Will, Jeffrey, and Nolan have been friends since college. Each has gone their own way while forging new lives. Will is a part-time drummer who spends his time in recording studios, Nolan is happily unmarried, while Jeffrey is wealthy and has a baby on the way. They have no reason to believe anything extraordinary will befall them. Until one shocking moment changes everything.

One night on a drive they stop at a convenience store for Jeffrey to pick up cigarettes. Within moments, Jeffrey comes out of the store dragging a young woman with him. He shoves her into Will’s car and shouts a single word: “Drive!” Shaken and confused, Will obeys.

Suddenly three ordinary men find themselves completely out of their ele­ment, holding a young girl hostage without the slightest idea of what to do next. They are already guilty of kidnapping and robbery; it is only a matter of time before they find out what else they’re capable of. For these four people, three days will decide their fate—between freedom and prison, innocence and guilt . . . and life and death. The Three-Day Affair marks the emergence of a truly talented new crime writer. (Official Book Summary)

My Review:

Four friends plan to spend an entire weekend reminiscing about college, playing several games of golf, drinking, and playing poker. But, that so isn’t what happens – there’s a kidnapping and a robbery that ensues. I was hooked! You know, it’s the way you can’t help but look to see what has happened when you drive by a car accident. That’s how hooked I was. The suspense in this story, kept me riveted. The trainwreck that was their decision making kept me reading. Could it be that these bright men, who graduated from Princeton, were so book smart yet were so completely stupid in their common sense? I had to finish to see if that was the case. As I read the story, I kept telling myself that this had to be some silly prank but as I kept reading, it certainly was not. I did get a better understanding of the evolution of their friendship and why some of the choices they made came about. Which I liked. The ending wasn’t what I expected and that was good, it kept me thinking about the story even after I had finished.

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Review | Slave to Love by Nikita Black

Title: Slave to Love

Author: Nikita Black

Publish Date: February 14, 2007

Publisher: Cajun Hot Press

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Amazon

My rating: 4 Stars

Vice Sergeant Caroline Palmer is not into whips and chains… That is, not until Homicide detective Lieutenant Michael ‘Mick’ McGraw–better known as The Iceman–leads her undercover into a secret world she never dreamed existed. He says they are tracking a sexual predator, a sadistic killer who preys on adventurous suburban couples. But Caroline knows Mick is looking for something else. Something much more dangerous. This erotic thriller will leave you breathless in more ways than one. (Official Book Summary)

My Review:

Whoa! That was a murder-mystery plus some major doses of steam! I was really excited to get into this story since I am a huge murder mystery fan. I was not dissappointed! The plot kept me riveted and even though a lot of reviewers said they didn’t like the ending, I did like it. It made me think about the book even after finishing it, I really wanted to go back and re-read it to see if there was anything I missed. Just what a good mystery should be. The sex was graphic in its description and there was a lot throughout the book. That really wasn’t what kept me glued to the story, it was really a good plot. In fact, I feel that this story would have held up with quite a bit less of the graphic stuff. The only thing that you might say is a negative was the main character, Mick. He was your typical leading man – hot, mysterious, broken and a little bit creepy with his Dominance stuff. But, it really fell into place with the plot and Mick couldn’t be anything but the above.

In the afterword, the author felt compelled to interpret her ending – which I did not agree with. I so did not read what she intended, I read the exact opposite. I read what everyone, I feel, was complaining about. The ending is a little left to the imagination, I’ll stick with what I originally thought about who did what.

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Review | Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Title: Bared to You

Author: Sylvia Day

Publish Date: May 24, 2012

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

Website: Official Site Here

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Barnes and Noble

My rating: 3 Stars

Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness…

He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily…

Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other’s most private wounds… and desires.

The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart… (Official Book Summary)

My Review:

I was looking for something similar to Fifty Shades of Grey and the reviews for this one sounded good. It is similar to FSoG in that you have a broken, hot, rich guy going for a young beautiful woman. She, however is broken and not as innocent as Ana in FSoG. I liked that, made their intimacy/interactions more believable. I liked this, the story was good.

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Review | Kill Me Again by Leslie Rule

Title: Kill Me Again

Author: Leslie Rule

Publish Date: April 03, 2012

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Netgalley

My rating: 3 Stars

In her dreams, her life was not her own. Awake, the threat of danger was real. Everyone said that she was crazy. But when Alexis dreamed of dying, she knew she had been killed before. And if it had happened once, it could happen again. (Official Book Summary)

My Review:

When I first started to really enjoy reading books as a young adult, Mary Higgins Clark was my all time favorite author. As I got older, my tastes changed but I still hold a special place for her style of mystery writing. This book brought me back to that time. This is a mystery. There is a strong heroine. The plot is a bit predictable but there’s a really good story that keeps you wanting to finish. All the things that made me fall in love with Clark’s style of writing I found in this book. The author, Leslie Rule does a good job. Her writing was clever, and while I did figure out who “did it” early on, her storytelling made me want to continue to the end to read how it all played out.

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Review | Elza’s Kitchen by Marc Fitten

Title: Elza’s Kitchen

Author: Marc Fitten

Publish Date: July 03, 2012

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Netgalley

My rating: 2 Stars

From the author of Valeria’s Last Stand, a charming fable of mid-life, of passion and purpose lost and found in a restaurant kitchen.

For years, Elza has gotten by. A divorcee out of culinary school, she started her own little restaurant in the mid-size Hungarian city of Delibab, and she’s grown a decent business, cooking quality versions of Hungarian classics and serving them with a smile. But lately her smile has gotten tired. Her loveless affair with her sous-chef has become an irritation. She’s getting sick of the same old dishes and the same old customers. And in these nascent years of capitalism, it will take some competition-both personal and professional-to make her see that her restaurant, and her happiness, are worth fighting for.

Marc Fitten fell in love with Hungary after years spent living there, and his second novel is a celebration of its culture and cuisine, as well as a portrait of a woman and her country in transition.

Marc Fitten was born in Brooklyn and lived in Hungary from 1993-1998. He is the former editor of the Chattahoochee Review and of the Red Hen Press Literary Translation series. Marc Fitten’s first novel, Valeria’s Last Stand, was published in six countries. He lives in Atlanta. (Official Book Summary)

My Review:

This story was just OK. It really had promise to be a better than OK story but ultimately it just fell short. For me, it just stemmed from the fact that I didn’t care about Elza, the main character. I found her uninspired and just plain boring. The story starts off with Elza lamenting over the fact that she doesn’t love her boyfriend, she just wants a warm body next to her. Sees that her ex-husband, whom she left because he wanted to start a family, has moved on. He got remarried and started a family. Elza again starts lamenting about how she has nothing to show for her life. Nevermind the fact that she has a successful restaurant, a beautiful apartment, male customers who adore her, and a boyfriend who has asked her to marry him too many times. I can’t stand people like this! She has so much yet, she can’t be happy for what she has. This is why I just couldn’t get into her or the story.

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Review | One Moment by Kristina McBride

Title: One Moment

Author: Kristina McBride

Publish Date: June 26, 2012

Publisher: Egmont USA

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Netgalley

My rating: 3 Stars

Memorial Day weekend was supposed to be perfect for Maggie Reynolds – Dutton’s blow-out party, cliff-diving with her life-long friends – a prelude to the carefree days of summer before the group would take over as seniors. But then something went terribly wrong. Maggie remembers standing on the cliff, hand-in-hand with her perfect boyfriend Joey, ready to jump into the water below. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. But why can’t she remember what happened in that last moment, so she still stood on the cliff, and Joey ended up dead? As memories start returning in brief snatches, they just lead to more questions: Why were Joey and his best friend, Adam, fighting at the party? Where did Joey go after dropping her off? And what other secrets was he keeping from her? With everyone pressuring her to share what happened, her friendships on the verge of collapse, and Adam (who seems to know much more than he’s willing to tell) drifting away from the group, Maggie has never felt so alone.

McBride’s sophomore novel is a searing look at how one moment can alter someone’s entire world. (Official Book Summary)

My Review:

I liked this story, it moved me. I could relate to the main character, Maggie: the feelings she had with first love, peer pressure, just being young and dumb brought me back to the summer before my own senior year in high school. I remember all of the above feelings from when I was her age and the author did a great job at making this story relatable to readers of all ages. In the story, Maggie experiences a loss that is truly unfortunate and she has to deal with remembering what happened. How traumatic it must be to not have any memory of the last moments you spend with the person you love – even more traumatic when the pieces slowly coming back to you don’t fit in with the idealized views you had. The author did a good job describing how Maggie felt. At times, I felt it was a bit much but when looking back on the plot and the age of the characters, the detailed descriptions fit. It’s how teenagers feel, how things just don’t make sense and as an adult sometimes we forget we used to feel the same way about life/friends/family/love at that age.

One of my favorite quotes from the book, “I wished with everything in me that I could slide full speed down the neck of the J I’d drawn in the bottom corner of the page, fling myself off the hooked end, and flip into another existence.”

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