Review: The Billionaires

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The BillionairesThe Billionaires by Calista Fox
Series: Lover's Triangle #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 4th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 336
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I liked this book, but I didn’t want to read more.  It was enough to read it once.  The story set up was good, but I didn’t think that the book truly developed and dealt the complexity of the relationship. I ended the book wondering if this relationship can last.

THE STORY:  Jewel Catalano, Rogen Angelini and Vin D’Angelo were childhood friends.  Rogen was Jewel’s first love until the two ended up in a Romeo and Juliet situation with feuding Wine country families.  Jewel turned to Vin but that also went wrong.  Now Jewel has returned and she still can’t seem to resist either man — and maybe she doesn’t want to.

OPINION:  I wanted to like this book more. I liked the interaction between the characters and the complexity of menage relationship, but I thought that the story did not truly work through the issues with these characters.  Instead, there was a lot of sexual scenes that did not advance the problems these characters have with their relationship.

I liked that there was real tension between these characters including jealously and worries about being the third wheel.  At times those issues were addressed in this book…my complaint is that it wasn’t addressed to the extent that the problem demanded.

I really had a problem with the history of the relationship between Jewel and Vin because the two managed to lie by omission to Rogen.  I just couldn’t respect Vin for taking up with his best friend’s girl when they were teenagers.  The supposedly close friendship and relationship between the characters seems false in light of the lies in the past.

I did think that the actual plot of the book where Jewel is working toward getting a piece of property in order to build an inn was more successful.  I liked how the three traveled around putting together the deal and also having sexy adventures.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a true menage story with emotional connections between the parties.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE BILLIONAIRES is the first book in the Lover’s Triangle series.

STAR RATING:   I give this book 3 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

three-stars

Review: American Queen

Review: American QueenAmerican Queen (American Queen Trilogy, #1) by Sierra Simone
Series: American Queen Trilogy #1
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on October 25th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 392
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Blistering hot, crazy as can be, I absolutely was obsessed with this book.  Don’t look for reality here, but intense fantasy, oh, oh, yes.

THE STORY:  Greer Galloway, born into a political family, met and fell for a war hero at the age of sixteen.  Their relationship was highly charged and completely inappropriate.  The ten years since haven’t diminished her feelings for Ash, but they have been complicated by betrayal and life and her deepening and darkening desires.  Five years ago, Greer met Embry, Ash’s best friend. Now as Ash, now President of the United States, has sent Embry to bring Greer to Ash’s side, Greer has complicated feelings for both men.

OPINION:  This book is sexy bonkers at times.  The President, Vice-President and the First Lady all together. Crazy stuff and yet completely appealing because the emotions between these characters are so well expressed and so raw.  The book acknowledges everything: lust, love, pain, jealous, anger, desire, caring.  I loved how these three interact with one another and the struggle between them to find a way forward.  This is one of those books that I read and kept thinking about. The story of these three has just begun as each book appears to focus on one particular character in the trio.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book contains are complex menage.  The menage is definitely emotional as well as sexual as each of them has to deal with a range of emotions for and about one another.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  AMERICAN QUEEN is the first book in the American Queen Trilogy.  This series is meant to be read together and this book ends on a cliffhanger.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Jacked Up

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Jacked UpJacked Up (Birmingham Rebels, #3) by Samantha Kane
Series: Birmingham Rebels #3
Published by Loveswept on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 240
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite book of the series.  This one has a developing relationship between three people who have never had a menage relationship before but find themselves falling in love with one another.

THE STORY: Sam Taylor and King Ulupoka are teammates on the Birmingham Rebels football team.  Sam is a war veteran with PTSD and guilt from the death of his comrades and hasn’t had sex with a woman since his return because he worries about his nightmares. King convinces Sam to break his celibacy and King agrees to stay in the room to make sure that Sam doesn’t have an episode.  The problem is finding a woman who would agree to such an arrangement.  The two end up meeting Jane Foster, an ER nurse who has been the “good girl” all her life.  When she meets Sam and King, she is attracted to both of them and decides to agree to their scheme to break her “good girl” mold. The night opens them all up to new possibilities.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. I really felt these three characters as they worked towards building a three way relationship. None of the characters had previously been in an menage relationship before and weren’t looking for that when the book begins.

Each character has their own journey in the book as the trio winds their way towards a satisfying relationship.  King is the most open to the idea of the menage. He is a big hearted friendly man.  He is the most open sexually to the idea based on his past experiences. But even King has to work out the idea of what are the proper boundaries of a relationship with three participants.

Sam is quiet and closed in. He is trying to work through his issues and he finds that King and Jane balance him in different ways.  While Sam has never had a relationship with a man, he begins to realize that his relationship with King is more than friendship. While Sam struggles with three problems (1) his PTSD and the fear that gives him for any relationship; (2) his attraction to King and (3) the menage.

Jane has her own struggles. She has classified herself as “good girl” and fears the idea of taking action that challenge that view of herself. Thus, even when she wants the menage relationship, she can’t contemplate being involve with such a public relationship with these two famous men. She ends up being the catalyst in the relationship and brings all three players together.

I thought the baby steps that these characters have to take in defining what they want in their relationship was interesting and more realistic. There are many issues they have to navigate between them and I liked seeing them have to think about and address how the relationship is going to work. I thought this book addressed the complications well.  The book could also be considered “beginners menage” and I liked seeing people work through the difficulties and complications.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a true menage with MM, MMF and MF involved.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  JACKED UP is the third book in the Birmingham Rebels series.  This book can be read as a standalone but there are recurring characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Intense Pleasure

Review: Intense PleasureIntense Pleasure by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #14
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

“Their weakness.”

FINAL DECISION: A menage story, but more than that.  This is a great suspense story with some hot sexy moments with two brothers and their fellow agent thrown in.

THE STORY: After years of working as an agent, Summer has had enough.  But when her identity is revealed and an enemy intends to eliminate her, two men who worked closely with her for years come to help her.  Falcon and Raeg are half-brothers who share their work and their women.  Now they want to protect Summer and there is a strong attraction between them all.  But Falcon and Raeg have secrets of their own and it might mean that having summer will break the brothers apart.

OPINION:  This book is grounded in the suspense story of the man hunting Summer and also the secrets that Falcon and Raeg have. There are two dangerous stories at play here and plenty of action to satisfy readers.

Summer is a complex woman.  A longtime agent, she can take care of herself.  Yet Falcon and Raeg are surprised by the woman they see when she is with her family. She is sexually attracted to both men and willing to engage in a relationship that many would see as extreme and yet Summer is also entirely emotionally attached to these two men from the beginning.  She is hurt by the standoff nature of Raeg. She is also haunted by the necessity of her killing the woman she thought of as her best friend — even though the woman betrayed Summer and resulted in the enemy who is hunting Summer now.

Falcon is the most approachable of the brothers. Charming and easy going is what people see in him and yet he also possesses a dominant side which comes out with Summer.  I loved that Falcon likes brushing Summer’s hair.  That attribute is so sweet and yet so sexy. He is the more open of the brothers to Summer’s allure. Although he wants his brother as part of their relationship, he insists that Raeg be an equal partner and not absent himself emotionally from the relationship.

Raeg is especially haunted by the brothers past.  While Falcon can accept that they might not be able to hold Summer forever and yet wants what he can have today, Raeg is afraid of emotionally opening himself up.  He is the dark, brooding, jerky brother. His dominance is dark and especially strong. It is his emotional journey which makes up most of the romantic conflict in this story.

The relationship in this book is complex. The two brothers are different and each fulfills something different for Summer. Having a triangle romance emotionally is a difficult enterprise especially where there are secrets and difficulties that the brothers are not revealing. Half of this book is about the developing relationship between the three main characters and the remainder is the suspense story which keeps the plot moving quickly.

The one weakness of this story is that what happened with these characters before the beginning of this book appears central to the connection between these characters (working together and being “friends” for eight years) and yet that building of the relationship is completely absent.  Everything happens offstage and thus truly feeling the connection between these characters is more difficult to feel for the first half of the book.

Despite this, I enjoyed this book and it fits right in the Bound Hearts series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a MMF romance with an emotional as well as a sexual relationship between each of the men and the woman.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  INTENSE PLEASURE is the fourteenth book in the Bound Hearts series, but this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Dangerous Pleasure

Review: Dangerous PleasureDangerous Pleasure (Bound Hearts, #12) by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #12
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on July 5th 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 293
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable read with a lot of suspense, this menage book isn’t as strong as others in the series in the emotional aspects.

THE STORY:  Abram Mustafa has wanted Paige Galbraith for years. After the murder of his wife, Abram has held himself apart in order to protect those he might care about — including Paige. Now Paige has been kidnapped by Abram’s father and Abram must protect her while he also gives in to the intense passion between them.

OPINION: This book has yet another twist on the menages in Bound Hearts. In this one Abram has his cousin for a third.  He tries to get Paige and his cousin to form an emotional connection, but it is clear that Paige will only want and love him. Paige, therefore, wants more emotional connection than Abram wants to give.

This book has less sex than the previous books in the series (not that there isn’t a lot of hot sex).  There is a more traditional romantic suspense story.  The emphasis in the story is on the immediate events, thus we learn less about these characters apart from their relationship and the adventures they are engaged in.

My biggest problem with the story is that I didn’t really buy into the reasons that Abram stayed away from Paige. His past is explained too much and there wasn’t really an emotional component with his pain in the past.  As a result, I could understand his reluctance to get involved with Paige because of his concern with his brother’s reaction.  What I didn’t get was his turning Paige away after they were already sexually involved.

While I enjoyed the story overall, I wish there was more about the emotional life of these characters to intrigue me.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a MMF menage that is rooted in a MF relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DANGEROUS PLEASURE is the twelfth book in the Bound Hearts series. It can be read as a standalone although it is closely connected with book 11, GUILTY PLEASURE. It continues the story started in that book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Wicked Pleasure

Review: Wicked PleasureWicked Pleasure by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #9
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on April 24th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 400
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Filled with angst and drama, this is my favorite of the series. Cam is a tormented man desperately trying to keep the woman he loves without revealing his pain and torment. Sexy and emotional, this is a well rounded book.

THE STORY: Jaci Wright has loved Cam Falladay since she was a child but for seven years she has been running from Cam and his twin brother Chase.  When she was twenty one she thought that she was finally going to get the night she wanted with Cam until she found out that Chase is part of the deal. Her current job for the Club (unknown to Jaci the Club is a menage club) brings her back into the Falladays sphere.

OPINION:  This book depicts a difficult relationship.  Cam and Jaci love one another from the start of this book but both have secrets. In Cam’s case, his secrets prevent him from having a normal relationship with Jaci. He cannot sleep with a woman, cannot hold and comfort her, and he needs to keep himself emotionally removed during sex. Despite this, Cam is a strong man. He has survived and managed to cope as well as he could.  Now Jaci is demanding more that survival from Cam and his coping mechanisms are crumbling.

The two have a very difficult relationship journey in this book. Abuse, pain, shame, despair, love, desperation, desire are all explored in this book.  Jaci is incredibly strong in this book.  It is her love, her devotion, her ability to love Cam even when he is acting like a jerk that centers this book. Her willingness to accept Cam’s limitations even for a short time and yet continue to push his boundaries makes this book.

The menage relationship is also more complicated here. Jaci and Chase are friends, and they both love Cam. The menage relationship is exciting for them but it is also a way for both of them to connect with Cam who keeps himself closed up most of the time. The menage is neither one where there is a romantic love between the woman and the two men nor one where the man is just a third functionary. Chase, Cam and Jaci have an emotional connection that goes beyond sex but doesn’t involve romantic love between Jaci and Chase. Leigh is pushing and exploring different versions of the menage relationship as the Bound Hearts series continues.

I enjoyed this book.  Sexy and hot, it also has a deep emotional core between the characters.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a MMF menage within a MF relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WICKED PLEASURE is book 9 in the Bound Hearts series.  This book can be read on its own.  The series is connected only by the appearances of characters. The story is self contained.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Forbidden Pleasure

Review: Forbidden PleasureForbidden Pleasure (Bound Hearts, #8) by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #8
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on December 28th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  The Bound Hearts turns in a different direction with married characters bringing another man into their marriage for the first time.  This book also has a suspense element that works to move the story along.

THE STORY: John “Mac” McCoy was a member of The Club, a place for men to find like minded souls to engage in menage relationships.  He gave that up when he married Keiley Hardin three years ago.  Mac knew that Keiley was too innocent to be involved in Mac’s sexual excesses.  Three years have changed their relationship, however.  Mac sees that Keiley is more sexually secure and more reluctantly intrigued by Mac’s sexual past.  He decides to invites his best friend and usual menage partner Jethro Riggs to be the third person in his relationship with Keiley.

OPINION:  This book has a different premise than the previous ones in this series.  Keiley is not looking for a menage.  She married her husband and expected a traditional relationship.  Even more, Mac and Keiley have been married for three years. Now things are changing.

In this book, Keiley has to be persuaded into the lifestyle that Mac enjoys. Then both Keiley and Jethro have to be convinced that it is okay to have a relationship of emotional connection and not just sex.

This story has a more complicated menage relationship because there is more than sex involved. In truth, this book is partly about the romance between Keiley and Jethro. There are feelings of love and betrayal and fear that are explored here rather than mere sexual experiences.  I found the book more emotionally challenging than others in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is about a menage relationship that is emotional as well as sexual.  These three end up as a family unit.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FORBIDDEN PLEASURE is book eight of the Bound Hearts series.  This book can be read as a standalone because the characters are only tangentially connected to the ones at The Club which dominates the rest of the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Shameless

Review: ShamelessShameless (Bound Hearts, #7) by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #7
Published by Ellora's Cave on March 23rd 2005
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 151
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book has plenty of hot sex (expected in a Bound Hearts novel) but I didn’t feel the intense connection between the characters that I expected and I really didn’t get Ian’s reluctance.  The book was good, but I have read better in this series.

THE STORY:  Courtney Mattlaw has wanted Ian Sinclair since she was mere child.  Now she has decided to get the man she wants.  Ian has tried to protect Courtney from his wild extreme sexual lifestyle. What he doesn’t know is that Courtney is not the innocent that he thinks she is and she wants nothing less than to be a part of Ian’s life in all ways.

OPINION:  The Bound Hearts series has more extreme sexual relationships including an emphasis on menage.  This book is no different.  The central conflict in this book is that Ian thinks Courtney is too innocent and because of a woman in his past who committed suicide and blamed his lifestyle, Ian doesn’t want to be responsible for Courtney.

This book is smoking hot because Courtney is determined that Ian see her as a woman who is compatible with his sexual needs and thus the two are engaged in some seriously intense sexual acts.  That part of this book would definitely get 5 stars. I liked how Ian and Courtney challenge one another and they have a very sexy confrontational relationship.

There were two things about this book that bothered me.  First, I never really got that Ian fought so much against Courtney.  In the beginning that made sense, but once the two were engaged in a sexual relationship, I couldn’t buy that Ian kept thinking that Courtney was some delicate flower.  At that point, his objections just didn’t seem rational.  Second, and perhaps because of that, I didn’t get the emotional connection between these characters. Their conflicts seemed more forced and thus I felt there was less emotional intimacy.

This was a good book, but only average for this series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book contains the heroine having sex with another man, some minor FF, and MMF menage.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SHAMELESS is the seventh book in the Bound Hearts series.  This book can be read as a standalone although there are appearances by characters in the series.  I’ve been reading these out of order and I haven’t had a problem.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: For Maggie’s Sake

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: For Maggie’s SakeFor Maggie's Sake by Lora Leigh
Series: Tempting SEALS #3
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on December 13th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This is a very hot story about a second chance at love.  The story has a lot of heat and some angst and drama as the main characters have to confront their past.

THE STORY:  Maggie Samuels is a recent widow who is suspected of participating in the rape and drug crimes of her late husband.  Joe Merino was Maggie’s husband’s best friend — or at least he thought he was.  It turned out he did not know his best friend at all.  Maggie’s husband held jealous feelings toward Joe and part of that was convincing Maggie to marry him after her breakup with Joe.  Now Joe is determined to find out the truth about Maggie’s involvement.

OPINION:  This novella focuses intensely on Joe and Maggie which is good thing considering the length.  Most of the story takes place with the two of them alone. I thought the sexual attraction between them worked and also I did feel their remaining problems were well resolved here.

The story was short and uncomplicated and was resolved as might be expected, but in a short novella that is a good thing. The focus is on the relationship between Joe and Maggie.  My only slight disappointment is that things are really quickly resolved between them as to the past.  Most of the story is about the lingering mistrust that Maggie feels.

I really enjoy these two characters and their journey together. This novella was good enough that I’d really like to read more of the series because I liked the characters.

WORTH MENTIONING:  FOR MAGGIE’S SAKE was previously published in the REAL MEN DO IT BETTER anthology.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FOR MAGGIE’S SAKE is the third book in the Tempting SEALS series.  This book can be read as a standalone even though it clearly refers to events in other books.  I haven’t read any of the rest of the series but I understood and enjoyed this novella.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

three-half-stars

Review: Embraced

Review: EmbracedEmbraced (Bound Hearts, #6) by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #6
Published by Ellora's Cave on November 1st 2004
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 115
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Too short but really hot, this novella has the elements of the Bound Hearts series but the connection between Sax and Marey is not as intense as others in the series.

THE STORY:  Marey has wanted Sax for years but her fear of her ex-husband has kept her from taking that last step towards Sax.  Now Sax is determined to protect Marey from her ex-husband and claim Marey for his own.

OPINION:  The Bound Hearts series have similar setups.  A man who participates in menages, a woman who wants him (many time she is wary of his lifestyle but attracted to it) and some suspense or danger which threatens them.

This novella follows that pattern, but the connection between Marey and Sax isn’t as strong as with the other book in the series.  Their connection is too quick and their problems are entirely dependent upon accepting that Marey’s desire to keep them apart because of her crazy ex-husband is reasonable. While she is right to be concerned about her ex, it doesn’t seem enough to keep the two of them apart for years.  I also couldn’t stop thinking that Marey should just get a restraining order against her ex instead of capitulating to him.

Aside from that point, the story between Marey and Sax was hot and the story progressed in an orderly fashion that was good enough for a pleasant one time read.  There are other books in this series that are better, but I didn’t dislike this one.

WORTH MENTIONING:  There is a menage scene in this book mmf which is standard for this series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  EMBRACED is book 6 in the Bound Hearts series, but can be read as a standalone even though couples from the series make an appearance here.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars