Review: Priest

Review: PriestPriest (Priest, #1) by Sierra Simone
on June 18, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 354

FINAL DECISION: Shock content but very shallow. The “priest” in this book knows nothing about being a priest and never acts the part at any part in this book. I didn’t find any connection between these characters.

THE STORY: Tyler Bell is a priest who has his world changed when Poppy Danforth comes into his confessional one day.

OPINION: This book disappointed me on all levels. It was not edgy, it did not depict any real conflict on Tyler’s part, and it didn’t even deliver a particularly good romance. I’ve read other books by Simone that were really good.  If I had started with this book, I wouldn’t have read any further.

Tyler doesn’t seem like a well formed character. If an author is going to set up a conflict, there should be something real about it if the book pretends to take place in contemporary society. Unfortunately, this book strikes me as someone who thinks they know about Catholicism and thus has done no research into the actual conflicts that arise when a priest falls in love. Priests do leave the priesthood, but this hero strikes me as someone who doesn’t really have a deep spiritual life that would be expected from someone who went through the formation for the priesthood. The unreality about and denigration of the Catholic religion made this book unreadable for me and it took me weeks to get through it. And the denigration is not the attempt to be edgy and have characters do incredibly blasphemous acts. It is the fact that Tyler’s conflict doesn’t feel real.

For example, at one point he goes to his congregation and states that “God is bigger than our sins. God wants you as you are — stumbling, sinning, confused…This won’t come easy to us Catholics. In a way, it’s easier to dwell on sin and guilt than it is to dwell on love and forgiveness.”  Ironic, considering that this is the exact purpose of Sacrament of Reconciliation aka Confession. Catholics should be aware that God loves them and wants them to come to him and will receive love and forgiveness. Any priest who has gone through a modern formation would certainly be aware of the focus on this by the Catholic Church. It is a stereotype of the Church that it is gloomy and sin focused.

Not only at this point, but throughout the book, Tyler doesn’t seem to know much about an adult, full educated and informed Catholicism as would be required of a man who had gone through the rigorous formation necessary to become a priest. The Church has suffered from a number of bad, horrible, non-faithful priests throughout the years breaking their vows and committing horrible crimes, but this is supposed to be the hero of the story.

This could have been a great book if it had taken Tyler’s conflict seriously. Instead, the book seems like it is arguing against a straw-man version of the Church. I know of several men who left the priesthood for various reasons related to their changing view of their purpose in life. Perhaps they wanted to be married, perhaps they decided they had differing views from the Church. This book doesn’t take the conflict seriously because it comes from a lack of correct information.

I had another visceral problem with Tyler’s journey. In Catholic parlance, a priest is married to the Church. Thus, from the beginning Tyler is committing a type of adultery with Poppy. Perhaps because I took his vows to the Church seriously, I didn’t find his pursuit of Poppy (from the moment he met her) as romantic, but rather as a type of betrayal. In essence, this is a cheating book for me and in order for me to accept the romance, I have to have real reasons for the break from the existing relationship. The inability to provide any real foundation for Tyler’s dissatisfaction with his priestly state — other than wanting sex — undermined this book at every turn.

This fed into my real problem with this book — the romance just didn’t work. There was no connection between Tyler and Poppy other than sex. While sex can work to create a relationship in romances. Here, I never got a sense that these characters had any connection other than lust. Poppy never really gets to know Tyler and Tyler certainly doesn’t connect with Poppy’s interior life. Indeed, my conclusion at the end of this book is that neither of these characters have any deep interior at all.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book gets so many basic facts about the Catholic priesthood wrong, it was difficult for me to take it seriously from the beginning. Other readers who don’t know basic things like it takes at least 6 to 9 years for a man to become a priest might not be so bothered.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PRIEST is the first in the Priest series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 1.5 stars.


Review: Misadventures with a Professor

Review: Misadventures with a ProfessorMisadventures with a Professor (Misadventures, #17) by Sierra Simone
Series: Misadventures #17
Published by Waterhouse Press on November 6, 2018
Genres: Contemporary

FINAL DECISION: Hot, sexy story combined with a rather sweet romance. The relationship between these characters made this book a winner for me even though the story line was fairly predictable.

THE STORY: On her way to start a research assistant job with an old stuffy professor, Zandy Lynch has a goal — to lose her virginity — and she has one night in London to accomplish it. Oliver Graeme isn’t looking for a woman but when he runs into a young woman looking for a one night stand with a stranger, he wants to protect her from her own actions. Of course, he ends up succumbing to her charms. By morning, Zandy and Oliver go their separate ways. But when Zandy meets her new boss, she’s shocked to find that the stuffy professor isn’t so old or so stuffy — and he just happens to be her one night stand.

OPINION: This was a hot and sweet story. Oliver is a really cute hero with lot of hangups based on his past. I really enjoyed their interactions with one another. Amanda is inexperienced, but not naive. She, in fact, pushes Oliver to confront his fears.

The story, like others in this series, is really focused on the sexual relationship. These two really enjoy roleplaying. Hot and sexy with the sweet but determined heroine and the grumpy brooding hero. The relationship between these two was a 5 for me.

The story was entirely predictable and while I still really enjoyed the book, I sighed a little at the predictable twists in the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: The story is told in alternating first person points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES WITH A PROFESSOR is the seventeenth book in the Misadventures series. These books, however, are completely independent stories and thus are standalones.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: American King

Review: American KingAmerican King (New Camelot Trilogy, #3) by Sierra Simone
Series: New Camelot Trilogy #3
Published by Amazon Digital Services on October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 456

FINAL DECISION: I love the characters in this book and the crazy stuff that gets worked out, but honestly, I felt the series went down since the first book in the series. The ending was too contrived and completely without any possibility of reality that I felt a letdown for the entire series.

THE STORY: This book continues the story of Ash, Embry and Greer. As the book begins, Embry has broken from the trio as he has unwillingly impregnated Greer’s evil cousin and has decided that Ash is not doing enough to protect Greer. Embry intends to run against Ash for president. This book, as might be expected, focuses on Ash’s view of the events.

OPINION:  There was so much I loved about this book, but the ending was not among them. There is something really crazy and beautiful about this series just going for the most salacious romance — the President, Vice-President and the First Lady. There are so many mixes and measures that I couldn’t wait to see what incredible plot twist was next. The whole thing just felt so unreal and big. Using the mythology of King Arthur as the basis for the story allows this story to have its own mythic quality. Yes, the story is unreal on almost every page, but I loved that the spirit of the story embraced all the crazy plot twists that felt like a modern erotic soap opera. This book begins to unwind all the plots that were introduced in the first two books. Mostly, I enjoyed the possibilities. I also have always liked how this book uses love and passion and lust and jealousy and guilt in bigger than life ways.

But the ending just disappointed me. Too small, too neat, too implausible.  I expected everything to be blown wide open, but instead, the book ends in secrets and hiding. I just felt disappointed and once that happened, all the veneers of big drama just fell apart. Instead, I just kept asking questions about how things would actually work in reality and the entirety of the relationships just fell apart for me. Perhaps one day I will re-read this crazy adventure and see it differently, but I was sad that today I couldn’t walk away excited about the entire journey.

WORTH MENTIONING: I recommend this series because I think that people’s reaction to the ending will be personal and doesn’t diminish the wonderful crazy series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AMERICAN KING is the third and final book in the New Camelot Trilogy. These books are meant to be read together in order.

STAR RATING I give this book 4 stars.


Review: American Prince

Review: American PrinceAmerican Prince (New Camelot Trilogy, #2) by Sierra Simone
Series: New Camelot Trilogy #2
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on March 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 330

FINAL DECISION: Still super crazy and compelling, I thought this one suffered from the “middle book” syndrome where too much is being set up for the ending and thus while really good, it’s wasn’t quite as compelling as the first book.

THE STORY: This book begins where AMERICAN QUEEN ended. After the marriage of the President Ash to his wife Greer and the formalization of their menage relationship with Vice President Embry, Greer has been kidnapped. The remainder of the book is about the continuing threats the three face both from external factors, but also from the jealousies, fears, and history which threatens to tear them apart.

OPINION: This book is filled with drama and angst and so many unfinished issues that it was painful to read at parts. The book is clearly setting up the final book in the series and as such, it doesn’t read as well as a separate story. There is a real sense that this is one of the low points in the relationship as this book ends. That is expected and I suspect that once the final book is out this book will blend in perfectly. But it certainly leaves things in a bad spot that is hard to enjoy.

This story is so big and crazy and I am just compelled to read it. The relationship between these three characters is not restrained by any means. There are deep jealousies and anger and lust and love. Despite the love between these three characters, their relationship is not easy. There are past pains and deceit and fears between these characters. They are struggling not only against those issues but those who want to destroy them.

This book, as one might guess from the title, focuses primarily on Embry’s point of view (although not exclusively) and his past with Ash. We learn more about the love and pain that is part of the history of their relationship.

One of the best parts of this book is how seriously it takes the relationship between Ash, Greer and Embry. One might expect that if two people in a relationship is complicated, those issues are multiplied with the addition of one person. This book doesn’t shy away from those issues which makes this book compelling as to their interactions.

Now I just need to read what is going to happen with Ash’s book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book ends on a cliffhanger.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AMERICAN PRINCE is the second book in the New Camelot Trilogy. This book continues from the cliffhanger in the first book and the books should be read together in order. The series follows the menage relationship between The President, Vice-President and the President’s wife.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Glamour

Review: GlamourGlamour: Contemporary Fairytale Retellings by A.L. Jackson, Aleatha Romig, Lili St. Germain, Nicola Rendell, Nora Flite, Sierra Simone, Skye Warren, Sophie Jordan
Series: Masterpiece Duet #1.5, Consequences #5.5,
on July 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Fantasy
Pages: 331

This is an anthology of eight romance stories each based upon a fairy tale.  This is an excellent anthology.  Each of the stories is good and many of them were fascinating enough for me to read more of the author.  Highly recommend this if you are looking for hot and well written novellas.

MUSIC BOX GIRL by Sierra Simone (Twelve Dancing Princesses): An erotic story which involves a 39 year old private investigator who gets involved with the 19 year old subject of his surveillance. This is a super hot, super erotic fantasy story which means that one has to suspend disbelief. The story is hot and there is one orgy depicted and others suggested. I enjoyed the story but the story was more about the hot sexual situations than the characters. I wish there was more of this story because I think the characters could have been really been interesting with pages to flesh them out. Rating: 4 stars.

BEDTIME STORY by Skye Warren (Sleeping Beauty): This novella is apparently connected to THE KING (which I haven’t read).  Jessica who has a small child is on the run from a dangerous man.  She runs into Finn, who is sheriff in a small town. The novella depicts their encounter which is filled with tension both dangerous and sexual. The story ends up being a sweet one and this is a novella that I really liked but wished that there was much more to the story.  It did make me want to read more by this author.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

RIPPLES by Aleatha Romig (Prince and the Pauper): Natalie struggles against the expectations of her parents.  When she travels to visit them for Christmas an encounter with a stranger on the plane changes her life.  I don’t want to give too much away, but this is a spin-off of the Consequences series so readers of that series will know to expect a dark and twisted romance.  I was fascinated with the story but didn’t quite get it in the end.  I think it would have been better if I knew about the heroine’s parents’ story.  Rating: 4 stars.

ROYAL MATTRESS by Nicola Rendell (Princess and the Pea): Dave is a mattress millionaire who also happens to be a prince in a defunct country.  He also has terrible luck in love although he is looking for that magical connection with a woman.  On the night of an amazing storm, Lisa arrives at Dave’s home seeking shelter.  From the moment they meet, the connection between Lisa and Dave just sizzles. Although the length of this novella means that everything between these two happens almost instantly, I really liked Dave and Lisa and their connection.  Rating: 4.5 stars

IN A STRANGER’S BED by Sophie Jordan (Goldilocks): Thea is left behind in the Highlands of Scotland by her tour group.  Caught in a rainstorm, Thea finds a house which is lived in but the occupant is absent.  (It’s a Goldilocks story, you can guess what happens from there).  Thea ends up being found by a grumpy Scotsman Niall.  This story I really enjoyed.  Yes, there is insta-love, but the two are so sweet together along with some arguing and oh-so-sexy times.  I really appreciated the epilogue of this story because it gave the story a finished quality.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

BROKEN HARP by Nora Flite (Jack and the Beanstalk): As a young man, Jack is swindled by a club owner and almost killed.  Years later he is now back to get his revenge.  He meets again the woman who saved his life who is working as a stripper and raising her sister. This story is dark and exists in a seedy existence, but I really liked the characters and this was a very enjoyable story.  Rating 4 stars.

RED HOT PURSUIT by AL Jackson (Little Red Riding Hood):  Lili Redd is engaged in protecting her adopted grandmother from the Big Bad Wolf aka Brody Wolfe.  Brody, a real estate developer, wants to purchase the shop and Lili, as an attorney, is determined to do whatever she has to do in order to stop him.  Things heat up as the two correspond and when they meet, the temperature rises even higher.  I absolutely loved this story.  The characters were strong and independent and their conflict was hot, hot, hot.  I loved their conflict and banter as the two struggle with their business conflict and their personal attraction.  This is a prequel novella and introduction to the upcoming Fight for Me series.  I will definitely be checking that out.  My favorite of the anthology.  Rating: 5 stars.

KNOT by Lili St. Germain (Rapunzel):  A woman is kept captive in a tower by a Mexican crime lord before a mafia doctor comes to save her life and rescue her.  This is one dark story on so many levels.  I was creeped out by Seraphina’s Stockholm Syndrome attachment to her jailer and rapist, even as I understood her dependence upon him.  I liked that the story didn’t flinch from that complexity.  I also liked that the characters had an incredible amount of complexity in such a short novella.  I saw at the end of the story that there might be more of Seraphina and Xavier in the future and I would definitely read more.  Rating: 4.5 stars.


Review: American Queen

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

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 New Camelot Trilogy.  This series is meant to be read together and this book ends on a cliffhanger.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.