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Smart Girls Love Smut

I'm a lover of all words. I'm just partial to the dirty ones.

Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley

As I write this review, I’m wearing grey yoga pants.  Well, they’re a darker grey on the outside and a much softer, lighter grey on the inside.  They have a white drawstring, and while it’s not really necessary to tie it, I have it tied in a bow anyway.  They’re really soft and comfortable, and they’re the kind of pants you could wear just around the house.  But if you wanted, you could also wear them out to the grocery store or the mall or the gym or basically anywhere that wasn’t too dressy.

I’m also wearing a pink and white cotton henley.  It has small stripes, not the big fat ones.  And they’re horizontal and not vertical.  The shirt also has ruffles at the neck along with four white buttons.  It has long sleeves that go just to my wrists.  I hate sleeves that hang over my hands unless it’s like a fleece hoodie and I’m outside and my hands are cold.  Then I like it when the sleeves hang over my hands.

My bra is a beige and cotton, but it’s not really a basic bra.  It’s a balconette bra with just a little light padding in the bottom of the cups.  I generally need a padded bra because my boobs are definitely on the larger side and I need the extra support.  And I also need the padding because it’s cold out right now and when it gets this cold, my nipples get hard and show through my shirt.  And my panties are also beige, but they’re not cotton.  They’re that microfiber kind that looks seamless under your pants.  And since my yoga pants are kind of thin, I don’t want a VPL.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a visible panty line.

Anyway, I think I look pretty cute for a Saturday where I’m just hanging out at home and catching up on a few things.



If you liked the detailed description of what I’m wearing, Motorcycle Man is definitely the book for you.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that more than a quarter of the book could have been edited out because it’s fill of endless paragraphs detailing stupid shit like what the heroine is wearing or what they cooked and ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Also, if you don’t have any attachments to correct grammar and punctuation, this could also be the book for you.  Honestly, I think that Kristen Ashley just throws commas in sentences randomly because she’s unsure where they truly go.  And she obviously doesn’t have an editor.  And if she does have an editor, that person should be fired immediately for incompetence.

I know it seems like I’m nit-picking a lot of things here, but come on… I expected more than this form a book that rated in the high fours on Amazon and goodreads.

I will talk about the story, though.

Kane “Tack” Allen is our hero.  If you want to call him that.  I’m personally going to call him a sexist, misogynistic, abusive asshole.  He is one of many “heroes” in this new trend where authors try to pass abuse off as sexy. 

You know what’s sexy?  A man who views a woman as his equal and treats her as such.  A man who thinks that, in spite of her vagina, she has valid ideas, thoughts, and opinions.

You know what’s not sexy? A man who tells a woman that there are some things she's just going to have accept, and some things she just doesn't get to know or have an opinion about because she's a woman.  That infidelity happens and you just need to let it go because it’s none of your business, and this is just the way it is in his world.

Well, fuck that.

And fuck him.

Because we all live in the same world, asshole.

Ugh.

Here’s another thing: Tack has a tendency to grab the heroine, Tyra, around the neck and push her up against walls.  Now, grabbing someone’s neck when they’ve give you permission to do so because they find it sexy is one thing, but doing it while the woman is basically crying and cowering and asking him to stop is altogether something different.  You know what they call that?  Assault.  And the author tries to explain this behavior away by having Tack tell Tyra he’s doing it because he wants to "feel her pulse."  Because he’s so overwhelmed with the need to know she’s okay and breathing with a beating heart.

Umm…

You know how you can tell if a woman is breathing and her heart is beating?  You fucking ask her.  If she's standing up and talking, she's probably breathing just fine.

This behavior is not sexy, ladies.   This behavior, and our acceptance of it, is what has led to the rape-culture we are currently dealing with as a society.

I love a dominating alpha hero. They are my favorite.  But everything needs to be consensual.  No means no.  There are some authors who understand this and write alpha males I totally dig, and totally want to bang.  Unfortunately, Kristen Ashley misses the mark on this. 

Motorcycle Man was not for me.

Darkness Awakened by Katie Reus

 

So, based on the summary (and the hot cover), I thought I would love this book.  The premise was right up my alley.

Wolves, check.

Vamps, check.

Paranormal romance, check.

However the reality for me was a bit disappointing.

Don't get me wrong.  This was an okay read.  But that was all.  Just okay.  The story never reached out and grabbed me.  And I never really bought into the intense love that the hero and heroine were supposed to have.  The author told us how passionately they loved each other.  But I never really felt it.

There was a lot going on, and even though it was well written, I never felt like the world the author was trying to establish took hold.  It seemed like there was missing lore, missing pieces to the story.  Like nothing was ever really fleshed out.

I had no real connection to the secondary characters, and unfortunately, no real desire to read anything further in this series.

It wasn't terrible, it just didn't pull me in the way I wanted it to.

2.5 stars

Shooter by Dahlia West

 

If you know me, you know I reticent to read a book about bikers.  Mostly because most of the books out there that are driving this new trend in erotica are full of misogynistic assholes that authors are painting as heroes.  So, when I decided to read this particular book, I did so with some trepidation.

 

Well, let me just say that I enjoyed this book quite a bit.  And except for a couple of – in my opinion – unnecessary plot devices, I think the author did a good job of painting a hero and heroine that I really enjoyed and rooted for.

 

Hayley, our heroine, is running from something terrible in her past.  And you find out that she doesn’t stay anywhere for very long.  Six months is her maximum.  And she comes to Rapid City, her new home, on a bus.  You find out that she’s researched and chosen this mid-sized town for a reason. 

 

She wanted to be around people, just not be overwhelmed by them.

 

She takes a job at a local biker bar and begins to look for a place.

 

Enter Shooter (or Chris) our hero.  Chris, in the beginning, is mostly an asshole.  I get it.  He doesn’t trust Hayley.  In fact, he calls her Slick because he thinks she’s a con-artist.  Which, to be honest, she kind of is.  But he’s drawn to her…wants to help her.

 

At first, I thought I would hate him and that I would flounce this story.  However, I learned very quickly that Chris isn’t the asshole he initially comes across as.  And even better – he’s not really like the douchebag assholes I’ve read in other “biker books.”  Although, he does have his douchebag moments.

 

This story has a very Sleeping with the Enemy feel to it.  And I quite enjoyed that aspect.  It pulls you in, makes you nervous, and ultimately keeps you turning pages so you can see what happens next.  If you have any sexual assault or violence triggers, this might not be the book for you.  The author doesn’t sugar-coat or gloss over anything.

 

The ending felt a bit rushed, but it was a happy ending nonetheless.  I just wish it hadn’t felt so disjointed.  If it hadn’t been for a couple of things, I probably would have given this 4 stars, however, I’m giving it 3.5. 

 

It was definitely a solid read.

Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh

 

When I sat down to read Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh, I expected to enjoy it.  Mostly because I love the author and her words, but also because we’re approaching the holidays, and from the description, it sounded like the perfect book to curl up with.

 

Well, it was.

 

And I loved it.

 

We meet Claire on Christmas Eve.  She’s stranded in the airport in Chicago, trying to make it to her sister’s house for Christmas.  But the snow is pouring, and all flights have been cancelled.  This sucks for her.  Under normal circumstances, this would suck for anyone.  However, we learn that Claire needs to get the hell out of Chicago for other reasons – reasons far more pressing and personal than wanting to trim a tree with her family.

 

And that reason is Logan.

 

Logan…hnnnnggg. (More on him later.)

 

We find out that Claire actually used to live in Chicago, that she had a whole life there.  A life filled with a man whom she loved, his daughter, and the promise of a future with a family she adored.  Unfortunately for Claire, she always felt like she came in second place to Logan’s job.  And for that reason, two years ago, she made the decision to walk away.

 

But she’s never forgotten him.

 

And beyond that – she still loves him.

 

Damn, I adore a good love story about reconnection.  And when Logan happens upon the put-out Claire and offers her a place to stay to ride out the storm, it becomes clear that that’s where this story is headed.

 

Logan – by the way – is my actual dream man.  I know I love to read about various different men with different traits and personalities.  But what I fantasize about and what I actually want are, in reality, very different.  He’s someone who has his shit together, he has a career, a home, and a daughter who he loves and cares for.  Oh, and he’s hot…and swoony…and hot. (Please to be seeing what I will now refer to as the “sweater scene” because from now on, I will always be turned on by a man who fills out a sweater stretched across his chest and stomach muscles.  Thank you very much for that visual, Brighton.)

 

These two definitely have a lot to work through – their past, their lingering feelings, and their palpable chemistry that jumps from the page.  And if you know this author, you know she brings the swoons and the heat.  And did I mention the Daddy swoons?  Because that’s another thing that just killed me dead in this story.  Because Logan’s daughter, Sophie, made me want a stepchild of my very own.  (And I don’t even really like kids.)

 

This story is like a Peppermint Mocha on a cold night - rich and decadent and sweet.  And steaming hot.  It’s the perfect treat to curl up with.  And fans of contemporary romance will adore it…just like I did.  So, now I’ll be trolling airports looking for hot single dads.  Thank you for that, Brighton.

 

Wonderful.

 

5 stars.

Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh

 

I pretty much blew through the previous books in this series, and basically since book three, I’ve been powering through to get to this particular book.

 

Hawke and Sienna.

 

I mean…how could you not just be desperate for their story?  Lonely alpha wolf and young girl just growing into womanhood.  That alone would make for a fascinating story in itself.  But Hawke and Sienna are, of course, so much more than that.

 

Hawke is the alpha of his pack.  A loner.  Well, a hot loner who just happens to be powerful and amazing.  But yeah…he’s an island state.  And we know that the reason for his self-imposed solitary is because he found his ‘mate’ at a very early age…and she died while they were still children.  We know from all the previous books what mating means to the changelings.  Mates are the heart of each other.  And they only do it once.

 

But from the moment the Lauren family defected from the Psy-Net, Hawke has been connected to Sienna Lauren.  The only problem is – Sienna is underage.  And well, she’s off-limits.  And to Hawke’s credit, he never once acts on his feelings, never once does anything inappropriate.  In fact, he allows her to go and stay with the Dark River cats to give her some space so she can be her own person without having to fight the connection he knows she feels as well. 

 

Nalini Singh did a really great job developing this story because, let’s be honest, it could have come off a little creepy.  And Hawke could have totally come across as some dirty perv.  And it never once felt that way.

 

Sienna is nineteen when we start Kiss of Snow.  She’s come back to the den, working as a soldier for Snow Dancer.  And she’s dealing with the increasing threat of the power she has inside her as an X-Psy.  No one really understands the depth of this power except Sienna and Judd.  And even they don’t fully understand it because most X-Psy die before they reach adulthood.

 

And – as Hawke learns – Sienna has definitely reached adulthood.

 

Their chemistry is off the charts.  And even though Hawke tries, he just can’t stay away from her.  And I was obsessed with each and every interaction between them. 

 

He’d wanted to taste her, stroke her, pet her.  Simply holding her, simply dancing with her, had driven his wolf half to madness…

 

But Sienna wasn’t going to take less than everything that Hawke could give her.

 

“You’re giving me just enough to make sure I can’t forget you and not enough to go against your all-important principles.  Well, fuck you.”  Quiet words, because she would not scream and yell, would not allow him to see her break.  “I don’t want the crumbs from your table.”

 

Yeah…

 

They were volatile. 

 

And hot as fuck.

 

My only complaint (yes, I have a complaint) about their story is the number of times we were cockblocked.  Now, I don’t mind a well-placed cockblock.  Especially when you’re trying to build the sexual tension.  But JFC, we’ve had seven books of unresolved sexual tension between these two already.  And it felt like every kiss, every touch, was interrupted by something, some crisis, or someone.

 

Ugh.

 

I got frustrated.

 

We did get the added bonus of a side love story between Walker and Lara in this book.  And I loved it…so fucking much.  They were the perfect way to balance the angst and fire between Hawke and Sienna.  Their story was surprisingly sweet and emotional, gripping and downright sexy.

 

The shit hits the fan in regards to the war in this one.  And things are only going to get darker and more inflammatory as the series continues.  I have a million feelings about the key, secretive players.  Especially Kaleb and The Ghost.  Or Kaleb, the ghost, as I like to call him.  I could be DEAD WRONG, but I think it’s him.  And if it’s not…no one will still be able to convince me that Kaleb is a bad guy.  I think he’s good…or at least torn.  But I’m guessing he’ll ultimately come down on the right side of things.

 

The conclusion of this story was (almost) worth the angst of getting us there.  Actually, I was very happy with the resolution.  And what makes me even happier is that I don’t think we’re done with Hawke and Sienna, much like we’ve never been done with Sascha and Lucas after ten books.

 

Looking forward to the next one, and seeing where Nalini Singh is going to take us next in this wonderful world I’ve been obsessed with.

 

I wish I could give this five stars, but the still-frustrated whore in me is knocking off a half star for repeated cockblocking.

 

However…I STILL LOVED IT!!!!!

Play of Passion by Nalini Singh

 

I really enjoyed Drew and Indigo’s story.  And I’m finding that I really do enjoy the changeling on changeling pairings. 

 

Why, you ask?

 

Because they never cease to have some action right off the start.  Now, we didn’t get full-on aggressive fucking like we did with Riley and Mercy.  However, we did get some post-shift naked kissing between our hero and heroine.  And NEGL, Drew can naked kiss me anytime he wants.

 

“I can scent your hunger,” he murmured, his voice dropping until it scraped over her skin, raw and arousing.  “I want to taste it.”

 

At first I thought their dynamic was going to be too similar to Riley and Mercy, but it wasn’t.  While Indigo is a dominant female and Drew a dominant male, Indigo is actually older.  And on top of that, she outranks Drew.  And we find out in this book just how important hierarchy is to pack.

 

But that doesn’t stop Drew.  And damn, if it doesn’t make me love him all the more.

And you know I had issues with the slut shaming I felt was in Mine to Possess.  But Drew… *sigh* Drew won me over with this.

 

“Who was the lucky guy?” Jealousy dug sharp little claws into his gut, but he shut that door tight almost before it opened.  Changelings were sensual creatures – touch was the cornerstone of how they related to each other.  He would never have wished for Indigo to have spent her adult like without intimacy; it would’ve hurt her on the deepest level.

 

GET IN ME DREW!!!

 

Their relationship wasn’t easy; there were definitely issues and hurdles to get over.  But it was effortless to read.  It felt genuine, warm, real…and sexy.  So, basically…my favorite kind of book.

 

Some of my favorite quotes:

 

“If you’re a very good boy,” Indigo murmured in a sexy, husky, tone as she reached down to cup his straining cock for one electric second, “I might kiss you other places, too.”

  • Because whatever he took, he gave back with staggering generosity.
  • “You’re so beautiful, you make my heart stop.”

 

We also got more from Hawke and Sienna – otherwise known as the story I’ve been more obsessed to read than anything in recent history.  That story is gonna be off the charts angsty and hot and…hnnnnggg.

 

I can’t wait!

 

More on the political front as well.  There’s definitely a war coming…and I don’t know how prepared any of them are for it.  The council, the Psy, or even the changelings.  But what I do know – the changelings protect what’s theirs.  And all of them seem to be in love now, so it makes it so much more to protect.

 

In love with this series.

 

I don’t know how most of you had to wait years in between new books.  I would die.

 

4.5 stars!

Blaze of Memory by Nalini Singh

I almost skipped this book entirely because I was so ambivalent about the premise, but I was afraid that I might miss something from Hawke’s story.  So, I decided to give it a go.

 

Spoiler Alert: THERE IS NO HAWKE IN THIS BOOK

 

I can’t say that this was my favorite book.  It could be that it was because I’d just finished with Branded by Fire, which was my favorite to date. Or it could be because I wasn’t as familiar with the two main characters, Dev and Katya.  Hell, I didn’t even know who Katya was when I read the description.  And we only got glimpses of Dev in Hostage to Pleasure.

 

We begin as Katya is literally dropped on Dev’s doorstep.  He doesn’t know anything about her except that she’s a Psy who’s obviously been tortured.  She has no memory of whom or what she is, but for some reason, both she and Dev feel like she might be a threat to him and the Shine Foundation.

 

We find out that Katya is actually Ekaterina, Ashaya’s lab partner.  And while Ashaya and Dorian offer to bring her to Dark River for safety and protection, Dev refuses to let her go because he thinks she’s a threat.  But he’s also captivated by her for reasons he can’t really explain.

 

The first thirty percent is really slow for me.  I like Dev enough – he’s definitely the dominant, protective, tender alpha male.  And Katya impresses me by telling Dev that if she’s really a threat to him, he needs to kill her.  But other than these two and their budding relationship, nothing really pulls me in.  I was definitely missing the changeling clans and all those characters that we’ve grown to love.

 

Once the story picked up for me, I was engaged.  I was definitely in it and enjoying it.  There wasn’t a lot of action – a lot of the drama seemed to stem from the possibility of what Ming LeBon might do to Katya or might force Katya to do to Dev.

 

These two had heat, though.  And I can’t lie and say I wouldn’t like to know what it’s like to share a bed – or a wall – with Dev.  Because he’s quite yummy in the I’m gonna lick your pussy and fuck you until you have a hard time standing department.

 

We meet some other new characters, and learn quite a bit more about the Forgotten.  Most importantly that they have powers a lot like the Psy.  This could be really interesting as the seeds of discourse are continuing to be planted and taking root, and the inevitability of war looms in the distance.

 

The end of this was heart-wrenching.  Like, choking back actual tears at the love and sacrifice of these characters.  And I don’t know how Nalini Singh does it, but she managed to make me cry even though I was certain I’d feel nothing more than indifference.

 

There’s something to be said about being able to convey that kind of emotion with words.

PS: Noor and Keenan (the adorable bbs that they are) make me swoon all the swoons.  And HOMG I cannot wait to see what’s going to happen with them (and the rest of this army of powerful misfits) as this series continues.

 

A solid read.

 

3.5 Stars

Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh

I need collect my thoughts before I flail all over this review in the most embarrassing way ever.

.

.

.

So, that’s not happening.

 

Why?

 

Because I fucking loved this book!

 

Like, it was my favorite in the series yet.

 

Like, I’m having a hard time wanting to read the next because HOMG, I was not expecting to love Mercy and Riley so much!  And I did.  I loved them!

 

Mercy is a Sentinel for Dark River.  And we learn that she’s ready to mate.  She wants it, she’s eager to have the kind of connection and love that she’s surrounded by in her pack.  But unfortunately, Mercy is also a strong, dominant female.  She wants someone equal to her in every way, and now that the rest of her comrades are paired off with other women, it doesn’t look like she has any viable options for a man in her future.

 

Enter Riley.

 

Riley, whom we kind of got to know in book three, is Brenna’s brother.  A wolf in the Snow Dancer pack.  And not just any wolf.  He’s the liaison between the two packs along with Mercy.  We know he’s protective, based on how he dealt with Brenna after her attack.  But what we don’t know is why.  What drives it?

 

Chapter one finds us with Mercy after the mating ceremony for Dorian and Ashaya.  She’s alone deep in the woods – mistly feeling sorry for herself and frustrated at her lack of options.  And what do you know…Riley walks out of the trees.

 

They trade insults and awesome banter.  And like his name, he knows how to rile her up.

 

“Got an itch, kitty?”

 

“You want to claw at me, kitty-cat?  Come on.”

 

AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW THEY FUCK?  IN CHAPTER ONE?

 

SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS!

 

CHAPTER ONE.

 

It was like the best Christmas present ever!

 

Being the predatory animals they both are…they fight for dominance.

 

“You’re still trapped under me.” He nuzzled at her throat.  “And you smell all hot and wet and ready.”

 

“Talking’s not what I’m interested in right now.” Releasing her hands, he let her twist onto her back…only to push apart her thighs and settle his erection snugly against her.

 

Riley won.

 

Mercy didn’t care.

 

What she didn’t know was that Riley would suck on her nipple like it was his favorite treat before he sank those strong teeth into her delicate flesh… All she knew was that she had gorgeous male flesh under her hands and oh it felt so good.

 

“Now” – he thrust against her, letting her feel the heavy, dark heat that she could have – “what’s my fucking name?”

 

“I yield.”  Everything stilled.  He couldn’t believe he’d heard right.  He’d expected a grudging acknowledgement of his dominance at most.  But this… His wolf wanted to nip at her, pet her, make sure she knew he’d take care of the gift she’d given him.

 

Dead.

 

Writing this from the grave.

 

DID I MENTION THIS WAS CHAPTER ONE???

 

Their love story was filled with several different obstacles.  The most important being that they were both from different packs.  But here’s the thing – Riley never stopped pursuing her.  He never stopped telling her what she meant to him.  And even though they both knew that mating would cause the least dominant of them to have to leave their pack, he knew that what they had together was worth it.

 

“I’ll try, Mercy.  I’ll give it everything I have.”  It was a raw promise, from the heart of a wolf, from the soul of the man.

 

He thrust a hand through his hair, and when he looked at her again, any hint of vulnerability was gone, replaced by steely determination.  “I’m keeping you.”

 

“You ready for a full-time man?” Hard words.  “Because I don’t do part-time.”

 

I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!

 

But Mercy knew she couldn’t walk away.  She knew that ‘having a mate was a gift, a brilliance of being.’  And she knew that her mate had to come before her pack.  Especially after she remembered the words Riley’s brother, Drew, spoke to her.

 

“He’s got a heart as big as Texas – he’ll die for you without blinking.  But he doesn’t expect anyone to do the same for him.”

 

Excuse me while I cry.

 

There were a lot of other side stories in this one.  Big news (in a couple ways) on the Sascha and Lucas front.  And of course, my new obsession, Hawke.  I will die when I finally get to his book.  I think it might actually kill me.  So much so, I don’t know if I can wait to read it after the three books I still have left before it.

 

I’m very impatient, Nalini!  Don’t you understand?

 

And the conclusion to this story was – as you might expect – wonderful.  Riley had always been the protector, the one who people needed…until he met Mercy.

 

“I need you.” He hadn’t said those words since the day his parents died.

And then, there was this.

 

“You make my heart beat, Mercy.”

 

Simple words.

 

Beautiful emotion.

 

I fucking loved this story.

 

Read it.

 

Read it immediately.

 

5 stars!

Hostage to Pleasure

I was more than pleased to get to stay in Dark River for Hostage to Pleasure.  And I was exceptionally excited for this book to focus on Dorian, AKA the latent changeling who couldn’t actually shift into his leopard form, AKA the fuckhot sniper who was equally badass to all his Sentinel brothers.

 

Once again, Nalini Singh wasted no time in getting right into the story.  We picked up during the extraction attempt of the M-Psy, Ashaya’s son.  This rescue, and the following scenes, were some of my favorites in the book.  And I was immediately no longer just intrigued by Dorian… I full-on loved him.

 

I liked the themes in this book – love, family, acceptance and responsibility.  And one of the reasons that I enjoy shifter stories is the idea of mating.  I love, love, love the connection, the passion, the absolute need to be with someone.  Even when everything tells you it should be wrong.

 

Dorian hates the Psy.  We learned in book one that Enrique tortured and killed his little sister.  And his hatred for their race eats away at his soul – it’s a darkness that he can’t escape.  And he doesn’t want to.  But we find out that he had a very strong reaction to Ashaya the first time he saw her…and almost assassinated her.

 

“No, the sole reason he had almost put a bullet through her was because the instant he’s caught her scent, his cock had gone hard as a fucking rock.”

 

Seriously.

 

How hot is that?

 

And I really loved Ashaya.  Yes, she was Psy, but she fucking loved and sacrificed for her child.  She was willing to – and basically did – die for him.  And watching Dorian fall in love with this selfless woman, when he considered her and her race to be selfish, power-hungry and psychopathic… Well, that was kind of amazing.

 

I was invested.

 

This love story was intense and emotional.  They fought each other and themselves along the way.  And the sexual tension was amazing.

 

“He tended to like his sex slow and intense, but right now, with this woman, his body wanted hard, furious, a little rough.”

 

“Her eyes traced his lips and his entire body grew taut with the caress – she might not call it that, but that’s exactly what it was.”

 

So, yeah.  That connection…they just couldn’t fight it forever.

 

There was a lot going on outside the love story in this book.  We saw more from the Council, learned more about Sascha, and were introduced to some new and potentially problematic characters.  The intensity surrounding the Psy revolution is heating up.  And even though I willingly admit that I’m mostly in this for the love stories, I find that I’m drawn into these side stories, as well. 

 

The end of this book made me cry.  I can’t even lie.  And in the best possible way.  And beyond that – it made me fall even more in love with Dorain and Ashaya.  And of course their little cub, Keenan.  It’s an amazing thing when opening yourself up to love (with the right person) can give you everything you ever hoped for…and even those things you’re scared you’ll never get.

 

Loved.

Mine To Possess by Nalini Singh

 

I was happy to get back to the Dark River pack – and to Clay in particular.  But what I was really excited about was a story with a changeling and a human.  Not that I haven’t enjoyed the Psy, but I was interested to see the kind of story that could be told where neither the heroine nor hero were emotionally starved.

 

There was no time wasted in getting into this story, and I liked that.  A lot.  We meet Tallin, our heroine, and we find that she’s looking for Clay to help her find an at-risk boy she’s been helping at work who’s gone missing.  And we also find out that she and Clay have a past that dates back to her childhood. 

 

A traumatic, bloody, heart-wrenching past.

 

Tallin, or Tally, as Clay (and only Clay) calls her, was abused by her foster father as a child.  I’m not going to go into specifics, but needless to say, it was horrible.  And Clay…well, Clay killed the motherfucker.  Only Clay didn’t just kill him.  Because he’s also a viscous cat, he brutally tore him to pieces in front of Tally, which, in turn, terrorized her.  Clay was sentenced to four years in juvenile detention.  During which time, Tally faked her death so Clay wouldn’t come looking for her.

 

I mean, that’s a fucked up history.

 

But at the same time, I really loved that they had this past…this connection that spanned almost their entire life.

 

We all know from previous books that Clay has a darkness, an anger that we don’t understand.  Which is awesome for me because I love a dark, brooding hero.  But Tally – her darkness is worse.  She is a survivor of sexual abuse.  Not only that, she’s still surviving the effects of what young women do to themselves as a result of their sexual exploitation. 

 

Sidebar: I just have to put this in here because I am not a fan of slut-shaming.  Ever.  And Clay – for reasons I won’t spoil in this review – has several moments where he does just that.  It pissed me off, to be honest.  And while I think that the story would have been fine without it, I can appreciate a flawed character.  This was just a big fucking flaw.

 

And speaking of flaws, I was seriously disappointed with Faith in this book.  Her behavior toward Tally was unacceptable.  And I was so torn because Faith has been my favorite heroine so far.  (I will admit that by the time the book was finished, she was still my favorite.)  So, good for the author on developing well-rounded, realistic characters.  No one does the right thing all the time. 

 

The love story was passionate, heated, angry and ultimately redeeming.  I truly loved both of these characters.  It wasn’t always easy to read, but I couldn’t stop turning pages.  Clay was everything – slut-shaming aside – that I love in a hero.  Strong, possessive, and affectionate…and deeply in love and connected to Tally in a way that no one expected.  He made sure there were always lights in every room in his house because he knew she was afraid of the dark!  BRB. Crying. 

 

And the sex - well, their heat was off the charts.  (Even though I wish there was more.)

 

Clay: "I'm a cat. I like licking - all sorts of places." 

 

Yep.  That happened.

 

And Tally’s emotional journey was rewarding for me as a reader because there was never a moment where her very real issues were ignored.  And I loved the friendship that developed between Tally and Tammy.  It felt organic and genuine.

 

The side stories in this book were equally engaging.  And I’m becoming more and more fascinated with Kaleb.  He’s either secretly skating the line between good and evil…or he’s the most evil ever.  And I just don’t know! 

 

AND I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS!!!!!

 

Four Stars.

Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh

 

I wasn’t sure what I would think about this book, especially given that I didn’t really know a lot about the two main characters.  However, I was intrigued by Judd and his steely personality, and the fact that Brenna had been so damaged by Enrique in book one.

Judd had all the makings of a hero that I could potentially love.  He was brooding and intense, and obviously dangerous and powerful.  What I ultimately ended up loving about him was how even though he came across as coldly indifferent, he felt something for Brenna.

 

Brenna is a wolf from the Snow Dancer pack.  And we learn early on that she’s been struggling with her recovery from the brutal kidnapping and torture she experienced with Enrique, a Tk Psy.  Prior to that, she was a full of life and love, but now, she’s having vivid, disturbing dreams, and even worse…we find out that she can no longer shift into her wolf form.  And she only seems to find comfort, safety and normalcy with Judd.

 

We also learn that Judd has been keeping something from the wolfs, and Brenna in particular.  He is also a Tk Psy (and his power is far greater than that of the man who abducted her), and he knows that once Brenna finds out, she’ll be terrified of him.  And beyond that, we learn that Judd – even more than most Psy – was trained to be a cold blooded killer, an elite soldier.

 

I’ll be honest, this book was a little harder for me to get into.  Not because I didn’t like the story or the characters, but because there wasn’t as much tenderness between our hero and heroine.  One of the things I loved about Lucas and Vaughn was how physical and affectionate they were with Sascha and Faith.  And I’ll be the first to admit that I love a dominant, possessive alpha male.

 

Don’t get me wrong – Judd was all those things.  But he didn’t know how to express them outwardly because, as a Psy, emotion and touch was challenging for him.  And those were exactly the things Brenna needed.  So, there was a lot of push and pull and roadblocks along the way.  It was often times frustrating for me.

 

However, there were a couple of beautiful, emotional momenst for these characters.  One in particular came when Brenna had to face her fear and prejudice of the Tk power when she was confronted by Judd’s niece, who also shares that power.  I actually teared up during that scene.

 

There was a lot of UST in this book.  And while I love that, I also love a good payoff.  And in my opinion, there wasn’t enough sex in this book.  (I realize this makes me sound like a whore, and tbh, I don’t care.) Maybe I wouldn’t have missed it so much if there had been more physical affection between Judd and Brenna, but unfortunately, there wasn’t.

 

I did love the end, though, and the way everything worked out for Judd and Brenna.  And beyond that, I became even more intrigued by Hawke, the alpha of the Snow Dancer pack.  And if what I think is going to happen with his character actually happens…it will definitely make for an intriguing book.

 

Overall 3.5 stars.

Visions of Heat

 

I basically started this book as soon as I finished Slave to Sensation.  I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Lucas and Sascha’s story, but I was wrong.  I enjoyed it so much more.  And the reason was Vaughn. 

 

VAUGHN!!!!

 

We’d gotten glimpses of Vaughn in book one, and while he seemed like a loner – moody and angry – I wasn’t that connected to him.  Which, if I’m being honest, is strange because that’s everything I love in a hero.

 

Here’s the thing: I love a hero who’s tortured, but I also love when he is vulnerable.  And Vaughn had both of those qualities in spades.  We meet him in the very beginning.  He’s a jaguar-changeling, and we find out that he’s pulled to a particular Psy compound, but he doesn’t know why.  It doesn’t make sense given the animosity between the Dark River pack and the Psys.  Still, he runs the perimeter, watching for something he can’t understand. 

 

Faith, our heroine, is a Cardinal F-Psy.  We find out that she’s kept in the compound that Vaughn is drawn to.  Her Cardinal ability is seeing the future.  And she’s basically kept in seclusion and guarded because her power is invaluable to the Psy Clan.  But Faith is tortured in her own very real way.  She’s having visions – horrible, terrifying visions that surround her in darkness.  She’s scared; she doesn’t know what to do.  But she makes the decision to sneak out and seek the advice and help of Sascha in Dark River.

 

And that’s when this story really starts because upon her entry into Dark River, she meets Vaughn.  Oh, and when he finally shifts into human form, he’s naked.  Also, he can’t seem to stop touching her.

 

ALL OF THIS IS WIN, OKAY?

 

Which leads me to the other thing that I loved about Vaughn.  He is so fucking masculine and powerful and gives zero fucks about why he’s drawn to her.  He just is, and he embraces it.  He knows that she’s not used to touch, but he just can’t stop.  He’s basically all, “I want to touch you and I’m going to do it even though I probably shouldn’t.  And fuck anyone who tries to stop me.”  And even though Faith is overwhelmed by him – by everything about him – she finds that she’s equally drawn to him, too.

 

And the thing I love most about their story is the fact that even though there are obstacles in their way of being together, the obstacles never stem from them.  The angst never seems contrived or forced.  And there’s never a moment where I’m pissed about what’s keeping them apart.  And the UST in this book… Gah!!!  I die.

 

Their story unfolds quickly.  It was an easy read and I felt like I couldn’t stop turning pages until it was done.  I actually enjoyed their story more than Lucas and Sascha’s.  And for that reason, I’m giving it five stars.

 

Go!

 

Read!

Review: Slave to Sensation

 

So, basically, I’m super late to the party on these books.  Especially since Slave to Sensation was published in 2007.  And honestly, I’d seen them on amazon and goodreads, but the premise never really appealed to me because even though I’m a huge fan of PNR, I’ve never really been one for shifter romance.  Vampires have sort of always been my thing.

 

Well, that was my bad.

 

Because I truly loved this book.

 

I was immediately fascinated by Sascha and her story.  I couldn’t imagine what it was like to live in a world free of touch and emotion.  Especially given that humans thrive of love and touch.  And even though her particular race, the Psy, had essentially banished them and programmed their children to not need or want them, we find out immediately that Sascha does, in fact feel.  And she’s so gifted, she’s been able to disguise it her entire life.

 

We meet Lucas, who is the alpha of Dark River, a Changleling breed of cats – sexy cats, like panthers and jaguars.  There are also other Changeling breeds, including wolves.  We also learn that there is a blatant contempt between the Psy and the Changelings.  However, because the Psy are nothing if not practical and business-minded, they enter into a business deal with Dark River to build and sell homes on land owned by the Snow Dancers, the wolves.

 

Sascha is immediately drawn to Lucas – you can almost feel her resolve and shields breaking down immediately upon meeting him.  And even though Lucas hates the Psy on a very base level, you see his fascination with her in spite of his contempt for her race.  And damn if I don’t love the kind of sexual tension this results in.

 

I love everything about Lucas as the hero.  He’s alpha and dominant and sexy as fuck.  But here’s the thing: he’s also this sensual motherfucker who doesn’t let all the reasons they shouldn’t be together stop him from pursuing Sascha.  And my favorite thing is he’s not some dominant asshole who tries to bring her to heel.  He’s as gentle and tender as he is aggressive and demanding. 

 

And even though Sascha is fighting to control these feelings and urges she shouldn’t have, she finds that she can’t stay away.  She as fascinated by his world where people love and touch and live as she is by the man.

 

Everything about the Psy Network read a little Matrix-y to me.  And even though it sometimes felt sci-fi and not fantasy, I never enjoyed it any less.  I did find that I needed to reread a couple parts just to see if I understood everything that was going on.  And even then, I didn’t mind.

 

There’s a thriller element to this book as well. I never feel like Sascha is completely safe and I was biting my nails through certain parts.  There were moments I was afraid to read the next scene because I was scared of what would happen next, yet I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know how it played out.

 

We meet other characters that I’m sure will play a part in the following books in the series, but much like JR Ward does with BDB, Nalini Singh writes these characters in a way that makes you want to know more.

 

If you’re a PNR fan and you haven’t read this, I encourage you to pick it up.  I legit couldn’t put it down.