Sunday, December 27, 2015

Uncut by Claudia Burgoa

 Uncut is the fourth and final (for now) book inClaudia’s Complicated Series. It can be read as a stand-alone but I strongly urge readers to at least read Unlike Any Other, if not all three previous books in the series, before reading Uncut. Trust me. These aren’t your average romance novels. These are epic love stories and readers cheat themselves and the Decker family by skipping the other books. Yes, I am a bit delusional in my belief that the Deckers really exist and wish to adopt me.

     Much like Unlike Any Other, Uncut delves into a subject I am not experienced with as a person or a reader and when I read the blurb, I was unsure how I felt about tackling this book. That said, Claudia blew my mind with the first book and I knew if any writer could help me understand and enjoy such a book, it would be her. My faith was more than justified.

     Matthew is a “jack of all trades” in business and pleasure and he is master of all. He knows what and who he wants and he is completely comfortable with himself. Tristan grew up in a family and religion that taught him to be ashamed of his desires and to fight them with all he is, even to the point of being alone and unhappy. Thea is the enigma. She guards her secrets and her heart, never letting anyone get close. Three people battling their own demons. Three lonely souls with secrets.  Can they find their way together or is life not meant to be lived in threes?

     What I love about this book is that it drew me in from the start and held my attention all the way through to the end. Evenly paced and gripping throughout, I hated putting this one down to do silly things like clean my house, feed my family or pick up the kids from school.  My heart ached for each character, even when they fucked up. Tristan and Matthew are two men that any woman with an open mind would love to have. Thea, even with her vulnerability, is a pillar of strength.

     I also love how the story was handled. While I have never read a book exactly like this, I have read several books dealing with threesomes and those books treated the relationships as something easy and focused more on the sex than the emotions within the relationship. Claudia didn’t brush over the complexities of this story. Yes, there was off the charts steam but it pushed the story forward instead of being the story. There is nothing easy about Uncut but everything about it is beautiful, including the struggles and heartache each character endures. 

     Each member of the Decker family makes an appearance in Uncut but the focus remains on Matthew, Tristan and Thea. This isn’t one of those books that will use side characters as filler but we do find out how the Decker family is doing and growing. Rather than distracting from the main story to build anticipation, the secondary characters play roles in moving the main story along, which is the way a series about a family or group of friends should be written.

Overall – 5 stars
Steam factor – off the charts
Feels – I laughed. I groaned. I may have thrown a pillow. I cried. I sighed.
HEA – Yeah, I am not telling.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hidden Scars by A.M. Meyers

     Hidden Scars is the story of Emma’s efforts to heal from an abusive relationship. The book alternates between the past and present, allowing readers to witness her abuse and gain insight into her emotional state and her struggles to not only leave her abuser but to also survive, learn to thrive and find real love. Her love interest, Nix, is everything she needs but will she allow herself to have him? Can she find a way to let her self be loved and to love in return? Is her past really a thing of the past or is she haunted by more than mere memories? I’m not telling. 

     The author has a very good grasp on how people come to be in abusive relationships and why it is hard for them to leave. She knows how hard it for survivors to not only trust others but to trust their own judgement when it comes to forming new relationships. She also understands exactly how abusers manipulate not only their victims and the people around them. She portrays abuse in a very realistic way. Her understanding of these matters turns a good story into a great story. Her writing allows readers to connect with Emma in a way that allows their heart to break for her, groan when she stumbles, cheer her on when she digs deep to find her strength to fight and fear for her when she is threatened. I look forward to reading more from Meyers as I am sure she is only going to get better. What is that? Is there steam, you ask? YES, yes there is! HEA? Read it and find out for yourself. 

The Shortstop by A.M. Madden


 This book blew me away in the best possible way. The friends to lovers story pulled me in from the first page and I had to read it in one sitting. Hot baseball player Quint and sweet, almost saintly Annie met as very young children and with each passing year, their relationship blossomed. They navigate their relationship better than most couples far older but even the best couples have problems. 

     Madden’s writing is outstanding. The tension builds in a way that allows readers to feel it but there are so many twists and turns that when things blow up, there is still shock value. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was proven wrong and I loved it! Even better, I could feel what the characters were feeling. I felt so connected and invested in Quint and Annie’s journey that when the bottom dropped out, I had to put the book down and cry on my husband’s shoulder for a few minutes.  Seriously. I really cried on his shoulder and he looked at me like I was insane. Madden didn’t just stab me in the heart, she twisted the knife several times and left me begging her to repair my broken heart. I won’t spoil it by telling you if she did but I will say that this book is a must have for any lover of epic love stories with a side of steaminess.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Kenna's Reverie by Claire Granger

Claire Granger delivers in Kenna’s Reverie

     The opening statement of the blurb for Kenna's I am going to disagree with the blurb and say that Kenna is not your typical single mom. At 27, she is the adoptive mom of five (yes, five) boys. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff and she handles the chaos around her beautifully and with a killer sense of humor. She understands her children’s issues and builds on their strengths while allowing them and even celebrating them just as they are. She is the kind of mom any kid would LOVE to have. In that sense, Kenna is far from your "pretty typical mom". Kenna’s also more than just a mom. As a woman, Kenna is like a lot of romance readers. As a full time romance book blogger, she has read more than her share of stories about sexy alpha males and true love. Kenna is content with the single life but she still wants what most women want. She wants her own sexy alpha male with a dirty mouth, healthy sex drive with a side of kink and a kind heart. For her, that man is a fantasy – until she meets him.

     Jax likes to keep things simple. He is not interested in relationships or kids, until he meets her.
     This novella is a quick read but it packs a comedic and sexy punch. The witty inner dialogue and banter are enough to make you laugh out loud. This book is at the top of my list when I need a quick read with lots of laughs. The steam factor is present but not graphic or vulgar. There is no forced drama but there are some touching moments between the adults and children. Speaking of the children, they are quite interesting and are worthy of their own books. Gage and Conner left quite the impression that there is more to them than meets the eye and I am hoping we will learn more about them in this series. There is a heck of a cliff hanger, so I am looking forward to the second book.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Landslide by NJ Cole #CoffeeWithClaire

This is a collaborated review with Claire from Claire in RVA.

     Landslide is the story of Maxwell Joseph and Makenzie. Maxwell is a 35 year old state Senator of California. He likes variety; power and age play with women much younger than him. Mackenzie is a 19 year old college student, only daughter of Maxwell’s advisor and has lusted after the Senator since she was a young girl. Can Makenzie seduce Max? Is hot sex enough? Is a relationship even possible or are they doomed from the start. As always, I am not telling.

   This book is heavy on age play, which has always been a hard limit for me. I chose it because I wanted to see if I could push my own boundaries and walk away from reading it with a smile on my face, glad to have read it. You know what? I could and I totally did. It takes a great deal of skill as an author to write something that is taboo to a lot of people in a way that helps the reader understand it better and accept it. It takes even more skill to write such a book in a way that makes a reluctant reader want to strike the act from their hard limit list. N.J. Cole did just that for me.

     Landslide was off the charts hot! Cole’s sex scenes were so scorching that I may or may not have had to put the book down long enough to “take care of business” before continuing. However, as hot as it was, it also had some feels. As strong and confident as Mackenzie was, she had her moments of insecurity and doubt – as most women do. Maxwell had his own struggle with what he wanted and what he thought he could have. Those moments were just as well written as the sex and it was those moments that gave me what I call “the magic” I love so much in erotic romance.

     There were a couple of things I didn't like. It happened right around the 75% mark in the book. You know, that "big bad" (There is my Buffy reference) couples face that makes them question the relationship? Yeah, that part frustrated me. I wasn't fond of the nature of the conflict but it is common enough in romance and on some level, in real life. When faced with a challenge to his relationship with Mackenzie, Maxwell didn't handle it the way I felt an alpha-male should or would. This seemed to be intentional, as though it was a way for Max to show that he would put Mackenzie's good reputation above his own desire to have her in his life. Still, it felt a little forced to me.

     I recommend Landslide to those who like their sex a bit on the filthy side and aren’t opposed to age play. If you are on the fence about wider age gaps and age play, but are willing to give it a try – this may be a great introduction. If these are permanent hard-limits for you, skip Landslide.

Coffee with Claire