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Valkyrie

Climbing Stories

I love politics & I am a bit of a history buff. I have a weakness for romance & that includes erotic smut! I'm a serious reviewer, but I can read almost anything. A new genre or a deft writer can make a story sing.

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Marie Hall
Bound by Vengeance (SKALS, #2)
Adriana Noir
Sinister Kisses (SKALS, #1) - Adriana Noir 3.5 stars for first half
4 stars for second half & potential of the series

Welcome to 50 shades of eff'd up, Sebastian Baas style. WARNING: Haters of dubious consent, rough sex, and crazy, deranged, stalkerific, very violent heroes need NOT enter

Typical:Heroine, Taylor, is laughably in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she stumbles across some serious shit. The hero, Sebastian Baas, comes to her rescue, kind of...well really he presents himself as the lesser of two evils and Sebastian gets her to go on date with him.

Because the reader is in his head as well as Taylor's, you know that it is only a matter of time before Sebastian takes over completely. He hates the company she keeps, he thinks her family is shit, and he hates where she lives. Of course, Sebastian's cause is helped by the fact that Taylor is a virgin and she has that sweetly annoying trait where she is so trusting and selfless--so obviously, she must attract a possessive, dark and tortured hero.

Sebastian revels in this because it makes it easy to totally dominate her, and this condition makes it easy to mold Taylor into the kind of woman he needs in his life.
He’d known she was special from the first moment he saw her, but for Taylor it had been a matter of her finding her place. Knowing her place. Now, not only did she understand, but also she accepted. Even with the gentle reminder, she’d gone out of her way to please him and was still eager for his touch. She truly was the perfect woman in so many ways.
The writing pulled it off because I wanted to hate Sebastian, but I couldn't. His world and conflict within it was probably not as realistic, but it was believable. Sebastian's only redeeming quality is that he is a uber-faithful one-woman-man. Yet, he is deceptively consistent in character in that he leaves very obvious breadcrumbs for Taylor to figure out what kind of KRAZY she's gotten herself into with him, not to mention all the warning signs and major red flags she witnesses from his family, friends and co-workers.

So though it was easy to get engrossed in the story, I wasn't sympathetic to the heroine at all, especially when at 84% into the story, she wonders
What had she done? In some sick way, she couldn’t help but feel she was partially to blame. Leaving him had never been her intention. At least not then. Now—now, she wasn’t so sure. Her mind argued she should.
Sebastian's friend Josh definitely stanches that thought with...
“It doesn’t matter how you got yourself into this, kiddo. There’s no getting out.”

And he's right because it's goes from this
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To This
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TO THIS!
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And I am like...
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Am I really about to read the next one?
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Simple Perfection (Perfection, #2) - Abbi Glines 2.5 stars
This rating may get upped to 3, but for now I say this...
Negatives:
a. too much formula without finesse--parents are effed up and manipulative, angst from trauma of past abuse, boy-meets-girl, but boy's ex or relative is a she-bitch who hates his girl, girl runs away- and so this formula is getting played, especially when...
b. the plot is not flushed out enough, where pertinent conflicts are left unresolved, H/h development as a couple is weak after the final "this is it;let's BE together" and mini-surprises/cliffhangers replace falling resolution so that readers are seduced into reading the NEXT story.[Just finish the damn story already]
c. One more thing...dirty talk. I'm all for the "You're mine. Mine. Mine." during sex, but sometimes, just let the hero say it another way. And “Ah, that’s good, baby. So damn good. Take it deep. Oh, hell yeah, gag on it” is NOT sexy to me. Just sayin' LOL
Positives:
a. Despite my exasperation with gimmicks, I really like the author's creation of setting and characters. Sometimes I even like the dialogue.
b.I think Glines has a good hand at writing NA genre. She can do plot formulas well with addition to adding her own spin of moods and hot young alphas. Maybe she'd do better by strengthening her falling resolution and ending of plot, eventually.
c. For me, Glines has some alright stories, tales of young love which can be pleasing and fleetingly smutty, but in a NA way. LOL

Woods and Della get an HEA of sorts, but some telling conflicts they face aren't dealt with fully before the plot hurls the reader into a major conflict that is a set up for other characters' stories.

I would like a solid story instead of a book where the story rushes "what happens after" and relies on "to be cont'd" by-lines. I get that this is all the rage these days, but it makes me, the reader, feel unsatisfied.
Safe With Me (With Me in Seattle, #5) - Kristen Proby 3.5 stars
My Caleb
CALEB- means "whole-hearted"; one who served with his whole heart
There's always that one character in a series that just has a little je ne sais quoi about him or her that makes the reader anticipate his or her story. I have read a few from the With Me series and I must admit that ever since the 2nd book, I have been hot for Caleb.

Caleb is gruff, fiercely protective of his family, has a dark/slightly tortured side, screams alpha and hides a heart of gold behind a gruff exterior.

I was psyched that he would be the Montgomery brother that falls for Brynna, the widower with kids, psyched that he insinuates himself in the role as protector and father right away.

In reading Caleb and Brynna's story, I enjoyed the interactions with kids, I reveled in Caleb's jack-knifed-caveman act when he would whisk Brynna away to a corner or leave abruptly to take her home to ravish her (swoon to a puddle!). Yet, Caleb's character is taken a little deeper because time is given to describe his PTSD, which entails his survivor's guilt, a fact that makes him feel undeserving of a family of his own, his nightmares, episodes that sometimes play out violently, and his extreme discomfort in crowds, a condition that can show itself if the company expands outside his close friends and family.

Yes, Caleb is complex and Brynna offers him nothing but love, her girls do too, but the sequence of events in the plot are too formulaic to lend a grand uniqueness to Caleb, and IMO this character deserved that; he deserved to be given more.

The story is told in 1st person and it switches from Brynna's to Caleb's PoV. I liked this form but felt Caleb could have been written darker, especially in scenes where he is forced to protect or forced to face his demons. Mostly Caleb puts off a self-pitying/self denial vibe that pin-pricked an annoyance in me one or two times. He was kind of wavering and waited too late to ultimately decide to take and enjoy what he wanted, and that unfortunately was the gist of the plot, never mind the threat against Brynna's life or potential killers, who surely were dealt with, but we never get full detail of Caleb handling this business, just a summary of it.

For me, Caleb was badass enough to have his combat skills come center stage when he was defending his woman. His PoV was absent when he fights an intruder, investigates Brynna's past and takes steps to ensure the safety of his loved ones. This is who Caleb is characterized to be and I found it a missed opportunity when this side of him was not given some colour. The most we get of Combat Caleb is when Brynna and friends ogle his strenuous, ab-showing work-out routine outside the window.
Look all you want
In all, I liked the story and found that it was replete with the usual fun-loving gang, sexy-talk and steamy romps, and fluff. This series features alphas but even with mentions of murders, killers, soldiering, and would-be betrayals, the mood never descends to a darker feel. The writing is kind of...well...fluffy. So Caleb's character is kind of misplaced at times even though I still loved him.

This has become my favorite story of this series, regardless.
Until November - Aurora Rose Reynolds Quick, fluffy NA read with formulaic plot that drew out a couple of smiles and eye rolls. Writing typically without polish of editing, but not without potential.

Some readers will luv the romance between the H/h. It's sugary sweet with a token dose of caveman.
Unattainable - Madeline Sheehan 3 stars for Sheehan's maniacal written style and the character of Dirty
First off, let me start by saying this review is about what was attainable and what was unattainable for me in this story.
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The unattainable:
1. The development of the relationship between Cage and Tegen was only tethered by an extreme one-sided childhood adoration-turned love and an envy of wanting a relationship because of being surrounded by three large, but highly suspect models of one. Tegen holds on to an obsessive love for Cage that doesn't show signs of maturation until maybe the hopeful glimpses at the end. Cage, what little we get from him point of view is full of rage at his father as well as envy of what he sees as undeserved gifts of old lady and family that his father receives despite what a douchebag Cage knows him to be. This envy starts Cage to the idea of wanting something for himself. He goes for it with Tegen, but this is only represented but a couple of "don't cha feel it baby's" and "she's mine's". Nothing really made me believe in this couple, and it is not helped by sharing the spotlight with the other main couple, Dirty and Ellie.

2. Conflict: Though I read this rather quickly, I couldn't shake the feeling of "okay, so why am I reading this? What's going to be the big thing to overcome?" Having read Undeniable and Unbeautifully, I get that Sheehan loves to pile on the drama, yet there were substantive antagonists in those two stories: Frankie (most definitely) & forbidden love (or at least love that resulted in real broken hearts (ZZ) and conflicts of interest. However, in Unattainable, all I got was Tegen's tedious back & forth with Cage and Tegen's contradictory bash/adoration with the MC life, two nuances of which I really could have spent less time reading about. There are also a couple of half-baked conflicts that I felt could have been more developed. For instance, reading more detail about ZZ (because he provides a "real" conflict) and getting more of a turnaround for Cage's view of his own future as heir to the Horsemen Legacy would have been more satisfying.

The attainable:
1. One thing I have to give kudos for is the darkness and bit of backstory lent to the character of Dirty. I admit, just like with Frankie, I became unwantedly engrossed in Dirty as a greatly twisted representation of psychotic disturbance that exists in violence and love. Dirty's character was layered with masochistic as well as sadistic tendency and deed. Contrary to that whopper, this character is screaming with an innocence that makes him inherently good.

This duality leads to a very poignant, but complex relationship with a mixed race woman named Ellie, a HS friend of Deuce's daughter, Danny, who comes back to town only to be visited by hopelessness and violence. And even if Ellie isn't as awesome a character as Dirty, what she represents to him is enough. There is one line where she say's something like, "Let me save you" and it really moved me to the point that I would have preferred to read more about their story rather than going back and forth from Cage & Tegen to them.

2. I can't stress enough how much characterization is a key component in writing. I'm invested in Madeline Sheehan's characters. Yes, some are woefully neglected, but initially the premise of almost all characters packs a bit of a punch. Tegen got on my nerves, but I was interested in her liberalism and desire to write[sadly not developed]. Cage was a wuss who didn't know the meaning of responsibility, but he was introduced the first time (in Undeniable) with heart & potential[and that's all he still has at the end of this story, unfortunately].

The characters color this MC world with a uniqueness which is catching in a dark, sometimes humorous and sometimes callously degrading way, a way that is at least given a plot design. Readers who can appreciate the frankness and unapologetic feel of it stand to get a more decent take on a type romantic world which is now exploited in so many recent and outcoming books: think SOA:D
Unbeloved (Undeniable, #4) - Madeline Sheehan This is going to be a hot mess!
The Beast in Him - Shelly Laurenston Read by Charlotte Kane who brought some of the southern voices of the Smiths to life!

Review of audiobook to come.
Tattered Love (Needle's Kiss #1) - Lola Stark 3.25 stars for easy read and a bit of humor, i.e. the
"Worst shower sex ever!" LOL


Formulaic in a style that seemed touched by KA(e.g.time sequences & alpha speak), this story was a cute & sweet insta-lov-ish type. If the conflict had more depth or more substance to it, then it would have improved the plot. Overall, all the pieces were there to make a good story, yet the characters weren't as unique as they could have been though.
May fully review later.
Grabbed by Vicious - Lolita Lopez 2.75 stars
Smart, Sexy and Secretive - Tammy Falkner another 3.5 stars
"...my eighteen year old son asked me if he could read. But when we got to the “hot” parts, he asked me if I would cut them out. He asked me for a version “just for him.”
Tammy Falkner
Well, I'm not sure I know which version I read, but semi-dirty, smexi-talk was exhibited, a little, by the hero, Logan. (Again) still, I couldn't reconcile Neo-alpha-like Logan, the I-get-down-with-the-low-down Logan, with the Logan who is deaf and didn't talk for eight years. When his words come out...the most we get is that they're "soft" & "quiet-like", so please anyone, feel my frustration when he is speaking his mind in longer than two sentences and I am absent descriptions of "raspy" "rough" "uneven pitches and tones" like he's trying his voice out or needs to repeat himself. That would have been more plausible.

The more Jordan entrenches himself in Emily's life(meeting her family),the bolder he is portrayed. Only one time do we get someone reacting ignorantly towards Jordan, which is by shouting words at him like he is dumb, but this is not provoked by any embarrassing speech performance, just by the knowledge that his is deaf. I guess I would have liked a more realistic characterization of this aspect. Just one of my pet peeves when it comes to connecting with characters.

Anyway, in this sequel, Emily has faced her greatest fear and starts to try new things like enrolling in Julliard and learning sign.
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It's relieves some of the implausibility when she and Jordan have moments of communication in sign. And even though I liked Emily a little more in this one, her character never outshines Jordan's. It almost gets outdone by the side stories of Jordan's brothers, Matt and Paul, threatening to steal a little of the main couple's thunder. The heart-tickling "family" love is ever present coupled with a bit of tease to get you interested in reading future stories.

In all, Jordan and Emily stay together by the sweetness that is Emily and the sheer strength of determination that is Jordan. The biggest conflict between them is Emily's rich autocratic father who makes some underhanded moves to undercut Jordan. Jordan's reaction to this is at times impressive, but at the same time not as poignant as it was probably written to be. Emily and her father come to a turning point in their relationship, something of which happens belatedly and awkwardly.

Sooo, this sequel may not have been as lame as most I've read in the NA world, but it wasn't a sparkling surprise either. I'll just say that I didn't mind reading it one bit, at all.
Tall, Tatted and Tempting (The Reed Brothers, #1) - Tammy Falkner 3.5 stars
I'm often excited to read a story where the hero or heroine is challenged. I'm more intrigued if the challenge happens to be a disability such blindness, disfigurement or psychosis. IDK, I'm just wired that way, but it radiates hope and elation when someone (the underdog) can overcome the odds, and look cool, act cool, be cool doing it! This describes a little of what the hero and partly the heroine did for me.

Meet Jordan: He's covered in tattoos, works as a tattoo artist in the family business, is a scholarship recipient at NYU, and loves his family of brothers unconditionally. His challenge: He's deaf and reluctant to use his voice.

Meet Kit a.k.a. Emily: She's homeless by choice, running from stiflingly privileged circumstances and recklessly living life on her own terms. Her challenges: She has a learning disability & in danger from the streets.

These two make a nice pair. Don't they?
Isn't anyone trying to find me?
Won't somebody come take me home?
It's a damn cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Won't you take me by the hand?
Take me somewhere new
I don't know who you are
But I... I'm with you
I'm with you
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I admit, I got my chocolate fix, put on some Avril Lavigne and cynically prepared myself for a downward spiral in NA clichés and the formulaic almost-but-not-quite. However, this one doesn't get a snub from me.

What stood out in this first installment was the constructed theme of family that is sketched with Jordan and his four brothers: Paul (the quintessential big brother), Matt (the tragic hopeful), and the twins Sam & Pete (the brothers that play together & stay together). Jordan brings Emily "Kit" home with him and the reader gets to see how well these brothers get on. They've learned sign language in order to competently "speak" to their deaf brother. Each of them pulls his weight and the support that each gives the other without judgment (but a whole lot of welfare) is outstanding. You fall in love with all of the men as easily as Emily does. Yet, from Emily's point of view, you see that she cherishes this situation because she so desperately wishes for this type of family.

Emily can't immerse herself in her love of all things Jordan and her love of his family because she has to keep her identity secret and she is wary of the newfound feelings of trust, pride and love that she gets from Jordan and his brothers. Fortunately, Jordan pushes Emily to face her fears and encourages her to embrace her creative side. But this all comes to a halt when Emily feels compelled to make a sacrifice that means she will be separated from Jordan and strongly coerced not to pursue a future with him.

And so...I would have been highly upset if I'd had to wait even a night for the completion of this story. The first book ends in what I call a bandwagon cliffhanger, a trend that is catching like the flu in the New Adult & YA genres. Normally I would have said "screw it", rolled my eyes and put it down, BUT as luck would have it I got the 1st book and its sequel together, so I rolled right into the second one without stopping.

Part I of the story gets a head nod for a dual point of view (I much preferred being in Jordan's head, but Emily's wasn't that bad). Though the author attempted to tackle tough issues like impairment, disability, disease coupled with hope, angst and sex, I thought the plot flowed steadily. The noticeable pacing that made it a bit predictable, but that wasn't much of a turn off.

The one major hang-up I had was Jordan's deafness not seeming real at times. These times especially happened when he "smexy-talked" or when he contributed an almost harangue (by deaf standards) in conversation. I know deaf people, especially those who weren't deaf from birth, can sometimes have the ability to speak with a modicum of clarity, but this guy chose to stay silent for 8 years, and then all of a sudden he is speaking extremely coherently despite his impairment. I mean I expected some description of his vowel sounds being slightly skewed and some tell-tale mishaps with his control over tone and pitch. Just saying---
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Yet Jordan is written almost too normally, especially at times when he is conversing with Emily or kind of dirty-talking her in the bedroom. So, yes, Jordan's underdog "challenged" persona lost a little of its charm: bummer.


The rest of my review to be shortly continued under book #2. (How ya like my cliffhanger?:D)

Avril Lavigne "I'm With You"
Giving it to the Bad Boy (Tattooed and Pierced, #1) - Jenika Snow 3.5 for high school hero's dirty talk and the shy girl-meets-tortured soul hero storyline.

A quick review to come.
In Harmony (Fenbrook Academy #2) - Helena Newbury I just couldn't get into it. The voice was off, the setting was suspect and well...the writing was well...needs tutoring. Just my opinion.

Enough said.
Saving Dallas - Kim Jones In my quest for more biker/MC romances...

This features a hero who is a MC President, builds houses, is an entrepreneur, a bad boy and a high society bachelor (who gets invited to things like governor balls). The story also features a heroine who is an owner of a multi-million dollar real estate business, an orphan, a control freak, a bitchy boss, a badass chick(she knows guns and how to fight), and a closet submissive. Now, tell me, do these main characters sound like superheroes?

LOL, the storyline reads like any biker/MC romance-girl meets Jax look-alike & crazy, steamy, smutty semi D/s action ensues. Yet, a bit of intrigue and insight into the inner-workings of club life tries to come out and steal the show, but never.quite.does.

This is because the author doesn't know if she wants to describe grit or glamor, so she rocks the reader unnaturally between both. Awkward. It is also because the conflict is built up like a trail of breadcrumbs until by 60% of the book you actually become aware that there IS a bigger conflict other than the heroine's indecision over whether or not she wants to be involved with an MC President.

Then, there is a series of actions, the last of which results in the hero saving the heroine, but not before some serious clues start to come together, FINALLY opening the suspense. And yup you know it...a cliffhanger! By cliffhanger standards, it's a medium one, but not minor because you know there's a big secret between the main couple, the overall conflict isn't resolved and sooooo...this author is selling her sequel by gimmick.

Some good editing, cutting out of unnecessary ornaments adorning the characters and adding in...oh, I don't know...a whole story instead of 1/2 of one would have shown me, the reader, more 'effin respect! LOL

****and now I have to wonder if [b:Seize Me|17976745|Seize Me (Breakneck, #1)|Crystal Spears|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1370315414s/17976745.jpg|25203742] would have redeemed itself to be equal to this or still worse IF I would have finished it, LMAO! But I won't torture myself by finding out**** Biker/MC romances must be difficult to get right, I suppose:D
Falling For My Husband (British Billionaires) - Pamela Ann 1.5 stars; I thought this one was going to be short, sweet & smutty...Not!
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I disliked the hero. The love between the h/h was a bit one-sided and underdeveloped.

Tis a shame because the heroine had potential and the story could've been better, given its premise. I don't know what the author was aiming towards--middle to end of the story.

And of course the need for editing didn't help it.

Highland Destiny - Hannah Howell, Angela Dawe This was a fairly predictable and mild-paced Highlander Romance. The main couple, Maldie and Balfour, had enough chemistry and the conflict, though more hype than delivery, was a highlight for the book as well as for the whole series.

The Murrays, family of the Balfour, fights to save one of their own, who has been kidnapped. The heroine, Maldie, becomes a key player in this because she is the daughter of the kidnapper/villain, and she has a diabolical plan of her own.

The characters, from the Murray clan to those connected to the story through Maldie, are typical of this historical genre, with the wise old woman, the Highland warriors, the people of the Highland clans and the healer-heroine with a heart of gold. Howell gives this story a bit of angst, but using the characters of Maldie and the kidnapped, youngest Murray brother, brings about strong themes of family and loyalty.

Unfortunately, while the themes and characters have potential, two weak points for me would be the dialogue and major actions of the key characters. Firstly, the dialogue was overrun with "ayes" "nays" and contractions such as "havenae" & "didnae". IDK why, but "weel" and "ye" being used in place of "well" and "you" bothered me. I read and listened to this. The narrator definitely did not say "ye" very distinctly and most of the time it sounded like "you". It may be great for other readers, but the use of the antiquated English [incl. o'er & e'en, etc.] made me feel like I was reading Shakespeare or Milton, lol. I just felt like it was forced and lost the voice it could have had if less was used, and the narrator didn't help. But maybe I should read the next one, forego the audio, and let this style seep in:D
As Maldie says:
“I didnae think this through verra weel at all. It has the taste of a lilt some minstrel would use when he cannae think of the words.”
Secondly, Balfour's actions and his brothers' actions annoyed me. Granted, they had reason to doubt Maldie's motive for being around them, but Balfour was very obtuse at times and he effed up when it was time for him to face the music. Furthermore, he was very wishy-washy in making up his mind, and this condition didn't make his brother's "very acute" interest in Maldie any better. A good thing is there is no love triangle, but the brother's interest for Maldie disturbingly lingers. This added conflict doesn't flow well into the plot.