Friday, 31 May 2013

Rebecca's Lost Journals: MY MASTER

Size : 338 KB
Date: 31/05/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: No. 4 Rebecca’s Lost Journals
            An Inside Out Novella
Own / Kindle

The Blurb:

“In part four of Rebecca’s Lost Journals, My Master, it’s Rebecca's turn to claim control and set the limits in her relationship.”

It has been a long time since Rebecca has written more than just loose thoughts in her journal. After the last contract renewal she has moved in with her Master and the time for the next renewal negotiations is fast approaching. Rebecca is having serious second thoughts though. As much as she has fallen in love with her Master, she is convinced that his feelings for her are nowhere near as deep.

“I know he cares about me in the way he believes is the ultimate showing of affection and commitment.”

And what is more, with each subsequent negotiation He draws her deeper into the BDSM world, pushing her limits well beyond that with which she is comfortable.

“He’s pulling me inside that dark hole that is his escape. Only there is no escape for me.”

More worryingly, He doesn’t seem to be aware that he is pushing her too hard and too fast.

“Not when every scene pushes me beyond the limits that mean pleasure for me. He doesn’t see that, either. And as my Master, he should.”

Rebecca’s nightmares have returned and she can’t help feeling that something horrible is waiting for her, just out of sight, ready to pounce. With her Master away Rebecca decides to spend the weekend in her own flat, a decision He isn’t happy about. It is the right decision for her though because on her own, in her familiar surroundings she starts writing in her journal again and in doing so manages to process her feelings.

“I’m on an emotional rollercoaster ride and he’s not. That bothers me. It’s telling. But what is it telling me?”

Rebecca is willing to accept that she is very special to her Master:

“You’re the only sub I’ve ever asked to do this.”

But she doesn’t want to be just his best sub. Rebecca wants and needs a proper relationship.

“These are the moments that I revel in, when he doesn’t hold back, when he doesn’t restrain me or himself. We are just... us.”

But a proper relationship is not what her Master is looking for and probably not something he is capable of either. And though it would break her heart, Rebecca is getting ready to walk away. Because staying would break her completely.

What I really love about this book is that it shows us another side to a BDSM relationship. In most books in this genre we encounter an experienced Master who connects with a girl who has never even thought about the power-exchange dynamic, only to discover that she has a submissive nature and revels in such a relationship. Rebecca’s journals show us what happens when the girl in question, while enjoying some aspects of the dynamic, isn’t looking for anything beyond a “standard” relationship even if it does include a few kinky aspects. Looking at a relationship in which things don’t just come together perfectly makes this a fascinating and realistic story. Combined with the beautiful writing and the ongoing mystery as to who exactly the Master is, these short novellas are an absolute delight to read. And, now that I’ve finished the fourth in this series I’m more than ready for Being Me. Which is just as well since it will be released in just a few days time.

This novella is part of the Inside Out Series and should, ideally, be read after the following books:
If I Were You
The Seduction
The Contract

Thursday, 30 May 2013


Pages: 376
Date: 30/05/2013
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 2 Stark Trilogy
              Received from Random House
              Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“For Damien, our obsession is a game. For me, it is fiercely, blindingly, real.

Damien Stark’s need is palpable—his need for pleasure, his need for control, his need for me. Beautiful and brilliant yet tortured at his core, he is in every way my match.

I have agreed to be his alone, and now I want him to be fully mine. I want us to possess each other beyond the sweetest edge of our ecstasy, into the deepest desires of our souls. To let the fire that burns between us consume us both.

But there are dark places within Damien that not even our wildest passion can touch. I yearn to know his secrets, yearn for him to surrender to me as I have surrendered to him. But our troubled pasts will either bind us close . . . or shatter us completely.”

I have to say I’m conflicted about this book. It is very well written, the story is captivating and the characters are intriguing; so far so good. And yet I can’t help feeling there is a lot wrong with this book as well. 

First of all there is the amount of sex; there is a lot of it. The characters in this book resort to sex for every occasion; when they’re celebrating something, when they’re upset, when they’re angry or just when they haven’t touched each other for what appears to be a few hours the clothes come off and the fun and games begin.

“I am going to claim you Nikki. With my hand, with my lips, with my cock.”

In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more words dedicated to sexy scenes in this book than to overall story-line. On the other hand, and much to the author’s credit, this didn’t read like the sort of book in which the story-line is only there to facilitate the sex-scenes. Those scenes seemed to fit both the story and the characters in it very well.

My second issue with this book (and its prequel, “Release Me”) is that it reminds me too much of the books by E.L. James and Sylvia Day. I couldn’t escape the feeling that I had read this book before (which I hadn’t) and that I knew exactly what would be happening next. On the other hand though, every time I feared the story was getting predictable the author surprised me and took a turn I hadn’t quite seen coming. That was a very pleasant surprise, especially since this meant that there wasn’t any of the forced drama that I encounter in a lot of romance and erotic book these days and which never fails to exasperate me.

But, I had the most problems with the two main characters in this story and their relationship. I realise this is, of course, a work of fiction but I can’t help looking at the story and the characters through realistic eyes. And if these two were a real-life couple and I knew them I would tell them to stay well away from each other. I’m all for two people falling for each other completely and without reservations, but that is not exactly what is happening in this story. This seems to be a sort of co-dependency and it scares me as much as it fascinates me.

“But I have come to need Damien as potently as the air I breathe, and I sometimes fear that while our desire is mutual, my need is one-sided.”

There were as many scenes in this book that made me melt as there were scenes that made me uncomfortable and at times even a bit angry. I mean did they really expect their secrets to remain known only to them?

Having said all of that though, I also have to admit that I couldn’t stop reading this story. Despite the fact that this story seemed all too familiar, despite my issues with the characters and even though the book might have benefitted from more story and less sex it did manage to captivate me. The only reason I ended up worrying about Nikki and Damien is because the author managed to make them realistic enough for me to care.

Another thing I really appreciate is that the author didn’t opt for a huge cliff-hanger to end this book with. Yes, there is definitely a huge issue that needs to be resolved, as well as several smaller ones but the book ended in what felt like a natural place rather than one designed to keep the reader on edge.

Which leads to one final question; will I be reading the third and final book in this trilogy? And the answer will have to be yes. Despite the fact that there can’t be any doubt about how this story is going to end, I want to experience that resolution with these characters. It is not so much about needing to know how they will get to their happy ever after but more about whether or not they will be able to resolve all their issues before they get there. So I guess it won’t be long before I read “Complete Me”.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Rebecca's Lost Journals: HIS SUBMISSIVE

Pages: 52
Date: 19/05/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: Rebecca’s Lost Journals no. 3
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“In part three of Rebecca’s Lost Journals, His Submissive , Rebecca must decide just how far she will go for the darkly intense man who she is falling in love with. And does she dare believe that he too, will ever love her?”

Most of my reviews contain almost exclusively my thoughts on a certain book. Occasionally, when a certain sentence is very descriptive of the story or my thoughts, I may quote from the story. For this book I’m going to make an exception. I will be using quotes from this novella as the basis for my review. My thoughts will be draped around the quotes so to speak.

When this third installment of the Lost Journals starts, Rebecca appears to have made up her mind. Yes, she does want what her Master has to offer, she feels ready to sign the contract and wear his ring. When she sends him proof of her decision, her Master’s reaction is not what she expects at all though. Rather than delight at her willingness to submit, she is confronted with anger; Master is not impressed with her making this decision based on so little knowledge of what she is actually agreeing to.

“I’ll teach you what each point in the contract means. Then we will negotiate the final terms. But know this. When you put that ring back on, there will be no holding back for either of us.”

And that is exactly what happens, starting with punishment for her rash and unsanctioned decision. As a result, Rebecca once again finds herself questioning her attraction to this man, which is undeniable:

“There’s this subtle energy that seems to crackle in the air, and I know I’m not the only person who feels it.”

But, while her lack of control when it comes to Him worries Rebecca, she can’t deny the satisfaction she finds at his hands:

“I will push you to your limit, Rebecca, but I will always leave you thoroughly pleasured.”

On the other hand, as Rebecca writes in her journal:

“I want to know all parts of me. I have to know myself to control my life and destiny. But does that mean “he” is the right man to help me make that journey?”

This certainly is a good question and from what I’ve seen of Him in the Journals so far, I can’t say I’m convinced this man is what Rebecca needs. However, because we only see him through Rebecca’s eyes and journal entries it is quite likely that we are not given an objective description of Him. And, to his credit, He does appear to go out of his way to explain his demands and actions to his apprentice sub

“A choice to hand over control under agreed upon terms is not only control itself, but the freedom to let go and escape reality when you otherwise wouldn’t.”

And He makes a point of taking her out of her comfort zone, because pushing Rebecca’s limits will be a huge part of their relationship:

“It bothered me to be shared, and yet it aroused me. I knew then that I had completely lost control of myself.”

Rebecca’s doubts about this aspect of the deal she is about to make lessens as her Master gives her an explanation that makes it clear to her that ultimately all his demands and decisions have a purpose:

“When he’s fucking you, and touching you, and licking you Rebecca, I can watch every little nuance of how it affects you. It’s like a window into your pleasure (...)”

It takes a lot of soul searching but in the end Rebecca comes to the conclusion that no matter what her reservations, and regardless of her doubts and fears there is only one logical outcome to her dilemma:

“Yes in that bed, I knew him as master more than I ever had, and I understood the escape that came from giving him that control, and the pleasure he promised would come with it.”

I like what Lisa Renee Jones has been doing in these journals so far. She gives the reader a wonderful and believable insight into one woman’s journey into what is for her unchartered and frightening territory. Most, if not all, of us will have experienced situations in which the demands of our hearts seem to be in conflict with those of our mind. Watching Rebecca trying to find a balance between the two is proving to be a very enjoyable journey.

This book is part of the Inside Out Series and should be read after its prequels in the following order:
If I Were You
The Seduction
The Contract.

Sunday, 12 May 2013


Pages: 56
Date: 11/05/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: After Graduation #1
Own / Kindle

When “Brie Learns the Art of Submission” – a book you have to read before starting this one – ends we are left with Brie and her chosen Master leaving the graduation event. The elevator doors close and.. “The end”.

I don’t know about anybody else, but there are times when I find myself frustrated when a book ends and we don’t know what happens next. And this was one of those occasions. It is all well and good that Brie ends up with the man she has chosen as her Master, but his initial reluctance, the short time they have known each other and the fact that she has only had a few weeks training as a submissive under her belt left me wondering how this relationship would develop in the real world, away from the training centre.

Don’t get me wrong; I quite enjoy fantasizing about what happens to favourite characters after a book ends, but in this case the possibilities seemed too limitless. And thankfully, I won’t have to rely on my imagination since Red Phoenix is continuing Brie’s story.

And so we see Brie and her new Master, Thane, travelling from the training centre to his impressive apartment where our favourite sub soon learns that although her official training may be over, and she may have finished top of her class, she still has a lot to learn. She may know the general rules when it comes to being a sub, now she has to learn how to apply what she has learned in her everyday relationship with her Master and, more importantly, his personal desires and requirements.

Things get off to a promising start with both Master and sub delighted to be together and enjoy what they bring to their relationship. The depth of Master’s feelings for Brie becomes very clear when he decides to call her Téa, which is Italian for angel. And when her Master tells Brie some painful details about his past it becomes very clear that he loves and trusts her. Things get more complicated though when Faelan approaches Brie and she decides to keep the encounter to herself. Brie still has a lot to learn and her first lesson is that no punishment is more painful than the act of disappointing her Master is.

I have to say I really love Brie’s journey. Apart from the fact that these stories are well written with credible characters and an imaginative story-line I adore the way in which the reader is allowed to be part of Brie’s development. 

I’m impressed with the way Red Phoenix manages to show real character development and growth in a story that is mainly sex-driven. It was impossible for me not to get involved in and touched by Brie’s emotions, discoveries and soul searching. Brie’s actions are credible and understandable and it is wonderful to watch her work out exactly what her Master wants and expects from her.

When I say this story is sex-driven I do really mean sex-driven. In fact this story is HOT. Master and Brie have lots of opportunities to enjoy each other in this book in lots of different ways.

“My cock loves your ass, Téa.”

And Brie’s body is responsive. Thane’s mere presence, the slightest touch, a word, a smile they all result in her opening up.

“Her body was no longer hers, transformed into his instrument of pleasure.”

I would like to add that I will be adding a Tantra chair to my life and house as soon as I win the lottery. Boy, are those things pricy. But I guess they’re worth every single cent once you have one.

I’m still not, and probably never will be, a huge fan of books delivered in instalments. Some stories however are too enticing to wait until the full book is available. And Brie’s life with her new Master is one of those stories that will have me buying the separate parts, against my better judgement.

Saturday, 11 May 2013


Pages: 372
Date: 11/05/2013
Grade: 3.5
Details: Received from Corvus Books
           Through Nudge

Susan Street is ambitious. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, she won’t do to get her dream job. She is determined to become the editor of the Sunday Best newspaper. When the book starts it seems that she may have achieved her goal. The current editor is lying in hotel bed where he has spent his last living minutes having sex with her, and if she had a hand in his demise, she’s is quick to destroy the evidence before calling in the authorities.

Picture Susan’s disappointment when she arrives back in the office only to find that the paper has a new owner and Tobias X Pope has no intention of just giving the editor’s job to her, at least not without her fulfilling a few of his demands. Pope will set Susan six tasks, all devised to break her. If she completes all of them, the job will be hers. If she breaks before she has come to the end of the last task, she will have lost everything.

Susan Street is ambitious. She’s come from nowhere and has done whatever happened to be necessary to make it as far as she has, and she has no intention of giving up on her dream now, regardless of what the price might be. And so she allows Pope to take her on a depraved journey, designed to humiliate and destroy her. From a tattoo parlour in London, to Rio and from Sun City, via New York to Thailand, Susan submits to all sorts of deprived sexual acts, keeping her eye on the price all the time.

The rest of Susan’s life refuses to sit on the back- burner while she working on her career though. The relationship with the man she’s living with goes from indifferent to worse, she falls in love and lust with Pope’s son and rivals and enemies old and new are determined to destroy her any whichever way they can.
Susan’s life has just become a lot more interesting and scandalous than the stories she edits. A happy ending seems unlikely.

The front cover blurb from the author herself announces that this book

“Makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like Anne of Green Gables”

And I guess that is one way of putting is. Except that there really is nothing in this book that resembles the Fifty Shades book. E.L. James’ book was a romance, be it a steamy one. This book is nothing like a romance. In fact it is quite the opposite of a romantic tale. While there is a lot of quite shocking sex in this book there is a distinct lack of intimacy and romance. The characters in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ evoked emotions in the reader and showed character development as the story went on. The characters in this book read more like caricatures of a time – the 1980’s and cling unashamedly to their lack of morals. There is absolutely no doubt what sort of a man Tobias X Pope is. He fires Susan seconds after throwing a glass of water over her chest only to call her that evening and offer her the job back. What do you mean, playing her? And when they meet in a restaurant the following statement by him removes all doubt about his character:

“Punctuality! One of the great virtues! (…) And so much more important than all those milk-and-water so-called virtues like honesty, decency and loyalty. I call those vices: soul-sapping things only to be indulged in by those who’ve cancelled their subscription to the human race.”

And he makes no secret of his intentions either:

“You do what I want, and you get what you want. Or you break”

And the same is true for Susan. If she ever had a heart she’s learnt how to hide it well. Susan is not just ambitious; she is ambition personified. She has no shame and no scruples when it comes to achieving her goals. There are one or two occasions when it seems like things like morals and friendship might halt her progress but her drive to succeed manages to squash such feeble sentiments before she finds herself in real danger of having to give up on her dream. Having said that, she did make me smile on quite a few occasions, and once or twice found herself almost putting her conscience before her ambition; almost, but not quite.

This may be a sex filled book; it is not a sexy read. I found nothing tantalising or exciting in the descriptions of the scenes Susan finds herself in. And we find her in all sorts of sexual situation: with two men, with numerous women, on public display and in several one-on-ones with Pope's son. However these are written in a rather matter of fact way or even only alluded to. The reader is giving a rather clinical description of what is happening and I didn't find it tantalising at all. On the other hand, I did appreciate Susan's statement about kinky sex:

“Taking the dirt out of sex seems to me as self-defeating as taking the taste out of food.”

In fact, I can’t help feeling that these scenes were written to shock the reader. But then again, that can be said for the rest of the book too. A reader picking up this book hoping to find a story in which loves brings redemption, or a read that will titillate and excite them will probably end up disappointed. Read this book as a hard-hitting, well written, at times funny but also shocking portrayal of the (lack of) morals during the Yuppie era, and you have a fascinating experience on your hands.

Sunday, 5 May 2013


Pages: 278
Date: 05/05/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 2 The Edge Trilogy
            Received from Black Lace / Ebury Publishing
            Through Nudge

Kara Crawford has lots of experience when it comes to not being good enough. She could never be exactly what her parents expected her to be, although she gave up her dream of being an artist for them. And her last boyfriend left her as soon as she shared her kinky fantasies with him. By this stage in her life she has accepted that she will never live up to whatever expectations others may have of her. And if that means giving up on the dream of love and security, so be it. Not chancing her heart has to be better than having it broken. So when she meets Dante De Matteo, years after she last saw him in high school, she is happy to admit to the heat between them, delighted to give into the pull of that attraction and ecstatic when it turns out that his sexual desires mirror hers exactly. With him she can live out her dark fantasies without risking her heart. Or so she tells herself.

Dante De Matteo has his own reasons for never allowing his heart into the relationships he has. He needs to be in total control of everything and everybody in his life. This makes him the perfect Dom when it comes to casual relationships and playing out scenes with willing subs in his local BDSM club, The Pleasure Dome. But he doesn’t do love, doesn’t believe in commitment and all the risks that carries with it. And casual pleasure is enough; he doesn’t need anything more. Or so he tells himself.

When Kara and Dante meet by coincidence during a housewarming party it doesn’t take long for the heat between them to ignite. Neither does it take them long to discover that they are erotically made for each other. Dante loves to give what Kara aches to receive. As soon as Kara admits to Dante that she dreams of being spanked, fireworks erupt to the delight of both of them. And so they find themselves drawn to each other; incapable of denying the pleasures they bring each other, even if it does mean conducting a more or less secret affair.

But while their bodies and their heads are more than willing, their hearts are unable to play ball. While neither of them is looking for love and both of them are convinced that they are unable of truly committing to another, neither of them can stop their feelings from growing stronger. These feelings however could tear them apart just as easily as they might bring them together. What happens when the fear of love and commitment is as strong as the need to be together?

This was a charming and very erotic romance. Kara and Dante are interesting and strong characters. Both of them have plausible reasons for being afraid of love and commitment, and for the most part the way their relationship develops - or fails to develop depending on how you want to look at it - makes perfect sense. I liked the fact that for most of the story these two characters managed to find a way to communicate with each other, despite their fears. Maybe they weren’t completely honest with themselves or each other but that fitted perfectly into the story and didn’t upset me.

“Don’t think about it. Just enjoy it. Enjoy him.”

A very large part of the story in this book is told through the sexual encounters between Kara and Dante. Their relationship builds through their kinky encounters, their characters develop as a result of the discoveries they make while they’re engaged in steamy scenes and the story is pushed forward by Kara’s introduction into the world of power-play and Dante’s discovery that maybe there is more to intimacy than just that. I’m in awe that Eve Berlin managed to write a predominantly sex-based story that delivered so much more than just tantalising scenes. Because it’s not always about the sexy descriptions; sometimes the beauty of a story is in simple sentences like:

“He was so comfortable with her.”

However, this book does take the reader from one steamy scene to the next. The scenes not involving any erotic behaviour are little more than a lead-up to the next heated encounter. That doesn't make this book feel pornographic though. All the intimate scenes are written in a beautiful and heartwarming way. They never feel over the top or gratuitous though. In fact every single encounter between Dante and Kara was enchanting and very enticing. And there was nothing shocking or disturbing about the sexual journey these two characters undertake together. Yes, there was a lot of spanking, but it is Kara's desire to be spanked and Dante's joy to administer. But even during the spanking scenes it is clear that everything centres around bringing pleasure; nothing more and nothing less. And the story shows us more than just the power-play between these two characters; as they get closer to each other they find themselves indulging in tender intimacy as much as kinky adventures. And the shower scenes... I'll just say that if I ever renovate my house I want Dante's bathroom. And with that in mind I have to say that this older cover I found probably describes this story better than the newer one.

It was the small things I loved; the way Dante, in all his Dominance, just wants to please Kara, make her experience all the sensations she had only been dreaming about until then. I adored the way they both opened up to each other almost despite their better judgements. Neither of them thinks they are ready for or want a relationship beyond wonderful sex. Both of them think they have perfect reasons for avoiding a relationship. And yet, they find themselves establishing one without acknowledging it, to each other or to themselves.

“And he was so full of shit. Because for the first time in his life, something was happening that he didn’t entirely have control over. And that something was Kara Crawford.”

Because this story is told from both Kara’s and Dante’s perspective the reader has a wonderful opportunity to see how both of them change and grow into the relationship neither of them thought they wanted. I find that when a story is told in this way it is easier to get caught up in the story, easier to connect with the characters in question and understand what is happening.

Overall I enjoyed this steamy and romantic book tremendously. My one, minor, objection to this book? There is one point in the development of the relationship that is just too similar to what happened in Pleasure’sEdge. It seemed to me that the reaction of both characters and the way they felt and behaved afterwards was almost a carbon copy of what I had read before. Mind you, this won’t stop me from reading the third book, Temptation’s Edge, in the very near future. I do hope though that I won’t come across that particular development again.