Thursday, 31 October 2013


Pages: 316
Date: 31/10/2013
Grade: 4
Details: Cut & Run detour

The Blurb:

“Cameron Jacobs is an open book. He considers himself a common waiter with normal friends, boring hobbies, harmless dogs, and nothing even resembling a secret... except a crush on a tall, dark, devastatingly handsome man who dines alone at his restaurant on Tuesday nights. All it takes is one passionate night with Julian Cross to turn Cameron’s world on its head.

Julian's love and devotion are all Cameron could have hoped for and more. But when his ordinary life meets and clashes with Julian's extraordinary lifestyle, Cameron discovers that trust and fear can go hand in hand, and love is just a step away from danger.”


After I finished reading “Divide & Conquer”, the fourth title in the “Cut & Run” series I was told that I needed to read this book before moving on to “Armed & Dangerous”. Because the advice came from people who had already read all the available books in this series, because the authors gave the same advice and because I’m slightly obsessive about reading series’ in the right order, I obediently read “Warrior’s Cross” next.

Of course I have no way of knowing how beneficial this little detour will turn out to be when I read the next “Cut & Run” title, although I think it is a safe bet that the two characters from this book will make an appearance in “Armed & Dangerous”. And I really hope they do because while I didn’t dislike this book, I really didn’t like it enough to interrupt my reading of the Ty and Zane stories unless for very good reasons.

This book; what to say about it? I liked the premise of the story and I liked the interactions between Cameron and Julian. I enjoyed Cameron’s infatuation with the mysterious man who visits the restaurant where he works almost every Tuesday.

“Him. He of the tall, dark and handsome variety, who stuck in Cameron’s head like some sort of brooding fantasy.”

I loved the way Julian and Cameron were, with each other; the way Julian refused to let Cameron put himself down:

“That’s what you do, (…). That’s not who you are” – Julian to Cameron

Loved the way Cameron made it possible for Julian to show sides of himself nobody else got to see.

But, there were other things in this book that didn’t quite work for me. While I enjoyed the interactions between Cameron and Julian I don’t think I got to know or understand them. Cameron was too naive and innocent to be believable and Julian seemed to switch personas with such regularity that I never got any idea who he really was. Even when the book ended I still wasn’t convinced he was the man Cameron was in love with.

Courtesy of The Mind of Gray's Tumbler
On the other hand, I regularly come across books in which the reasons two characters, who obviously love each other and feel they have to stay apart, seem somewhat contrived. Whatever you might say about this story, Cam’s reasons for thinking he might be better off without Julian, no matter how much he loves him, make perfect sense. But, when did love ever have anything to do with sense?

“He could very easily love this man. That was far scarier than any gun or ambiguous job.”

I’m not entirely sure what I’m trying to say here. I enjoyed the book. It was a fast, easy and intriguing read. I enjoyed the interactions between Cameron and Julian – the love story. I was probably disappointed because Cameron and Julian are no Ty and Zane. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m ready to be reunited with Ty and Zane.

“I want to know you.”- Cameron to Julian

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Pages: 320
Date: 4
Grade: 30/10/2013
Details: Received from Black Lace

The Blurb:

“Are you ready for the dark side of love…?

The moments when Ava Gregory feels her most beautiful and complete are when she is tied up and bound.

Then she meets Desmond Hale, a master in the ancient Japanese bondage art of Shibari. He takes her to the very edge of ecstasy. But having learned the beauty of surrender, dare Ava risk her heart?”


Before I start my review of the story in this book there are a few thoughts I want to get out of the way first; thoughts that are more about the way in which this book was published than the actual story.

For starters, according to the description on Amazon this book counts 320 pages. And, to be fair, it does. However the story itself is over on page 240. What follows is an interview with the author and previews of two other, yet to be published, titles by Eden Bradley.

And then there is what I referred to as “the story”. This is not so much one novel as a bundle containing two stories. The stories are connected, both through subject matter and characters that make appearances in both, but they are two different stories with two separate titles. And the blurb as shown above only refers to part one. In keeping with the way the book was published, I will review the two stories separately below, and conclude with a few comments on the whole book.

“Make it as much an inner journey as it is a physical experience, and you’ll reach the deepest levels Shibari can take you to.”

  1. Serving the Master: Desmond and Ava (128 pages)

Ava Gregory finds peace and fulfilment when she submits and is bound tightly. While her sessions with Marina have been exhilarating, they haven’t been able to bring her the peace and release she’s been longing for. Something is holding Ava back from completely surrendering to the experience, and Marina knows that she isn’t the person who will break those walls down.

“You might finally get what you’ve wanted, and that can be terrifying sometimes.”

When Marina introduces Ava to Desmond Hale, a Shibari Master, the connection between the two of them is instant. But while Ava has life-long issues with allowing herself to give in to what it is she needs, it is Desmond who can’t bring himself to commit to anyone.

“Maybe what was really bothering him was the dark suspicion that this girl was the one who could actually make him lose control for once in his life.”

And if there’s one thing Desmond fears it is losing control. If he isn’t in control he can’t keep those he loves safe. And if he can’t provide that safety, he can’t allow people to get too close to him.

While Ava finds everything she’s ever dreamt of in submitting to Desmond and his ropes, he grows more scared as his connection to Ava becomes ever stronger. In the end it will have to be the submissive who challenges her Dom to conquer his fears and face an uncertain but very promising future.

“You are stronger than I am, Ava, do you know that?”

  1. Soothing the Beast: Marina and James (105 pages)

James Cortez, a six feet plus, tattooed and dangerously handsome journalist is looking for:

“A way out of my own head, maybe.”

He needs to find a way to get a handle on the memories that haunt him; memories of the horrible scenes he has witnessed all over the world. He thinks, hopes that submitting to Marina and her ropes might take him there.

Marina Marchant is a Shibari specialist with very powerful reasons for not wanting to work with male subjects. Having lost the man she loved once she is not prepared to risk the pain again. She’ll stay in control of her life and her emotions even if that means ignoring the obvious chemistry between herself and the beautiful man asking for her help.

But, as Marina soon discovers, it is one thing to rationally know that staying away from James might save her from heartbreak in the future, it is quite another to actually ignore her feelings. Especially when it causes heartbreak in the here and now.

Marina, there are no guarantees in life. I can’t say I won’t get hit by a truck tomorrow. But God damn it, how can you do this, manifest the loss you’re so afraid of? You’re making it happen. It’s not fair!” – James

And while James is battling darkness and numerous fears, he is smart enough to realise that the connection – love – he feels when he’s with Marina is not something he can or should walk away from.

“I never thought it could be this good, and this torturous. I never understood until I met you. Until I loved you. But I’m not stupid enough to turn away from it. To turn away from you. I can’t do it.” - James

Like I said, there are clear connections between these two novellas. It is Marina who introduces Ava to Desmond and it is Marina to whom Ava turns when she needs advice in the first story. Just as Marina turns to Desmond when she finds herself in need of someone who will listen.

“Don’t we tell submissives that they learn the most about themselves when they push their boundaries? And shouldn’t that apply to us as well?” – Desmond to Marina

And, here is another example of that continuity; two cases in which the Dom(me)s have to admit to their own weakness:

“You’re so much braver than I am.” Marina to James

And, before I forget, I should add that both these stories are beautifully sexy. They take you into the minds and bodies of the characters to such an extent that it is almost possible to experience what they are feeling for yourself. I dare anyone to read these books and not find themselves getting all excited. But it is not just the physical part of the character’s feelings the reader gets to share in. The way these stories are written also brings us into the minds of the characters, allowing us to not just understand their fears but also to feel what those fears are doing to them. These two stories and the characters in them will touch you in a multitude of ways, leaving you completely satisfied by the time you’ve finished the book.

I really liked that these two stories showed that even in a D/s relationship it isn’t always the Dominant partner who has all the strength, all the power and all the wisdom. I loved the way it showed that having the need to control can be a handicap just as much as it can be a delight. Those who submit in these stories aren’t weak, just as those who dominate aren’t the stronger party in the relationship. There is a difference between the dynamic that plays out when one partner submits to the other and the feelings that such a dynamic might arouse. It was wonderful to see that so beautifully portrayed in these two stories.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


Pages: 313
Date: 24/10/2013
Grade: 5+
Details: no. 4 Cut & Run
Own / Kindle

The Blurb:

“Baltimore, Maryland, is a city in alarming distress. Rising violence is fanning the flames of public outrage, and all law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are catching blame. Thus the FBI’s latest ideas to improve public relations: a municipal softball league and workshops for community leaders. But the new commitments just mean more time Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have to spend apart when they’re happily exploring how to be more than by-the-book partners.

Then the latest spate of crime explodes in their faces—literally—throwing the city, the Bureau, and Ty and Zane’s volatile partnership both in and out of the office into chaos. They’re hip-deep in trouble, trying to track down bombers and bank robbers in the dark with very few clues, and the only way to reach the light at the end of the tunnel together requires Ty and Zane to close their eyes and trust each other to the fiery end.”


I don’t think I’ve ever started a review quoting the dedication at the start of the book, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do this time, just because the dedication is absolutely wonderful:

“For all of those who keep going, even when they can’t see the light.”

And while this is a wonderful sentiment in and off itself, it is even better, more meaningful, after you’ve read the book. In fact, looking at the dedication again now, makes me shudder, just because of its beauty.

It must be clear to anyone following my reviews that I have utterly fallen in love with Ty and Zane and the books they occupy. It has happened before, and I’m sure it will happen again but still, I’m always a bit surprised when characters in a book become so real to me that I start thinking about them even when I’m not reading. It does make for a more than wonderful reading experience though.

Ty and Zane once again find themselves in the middle of violence and turmoil in this book. With bombs going off all over Baltimore and no clues as to who is responsible or why they are doing it and the public getting ever more scared and distrustful of the authorities that are supposed to be keeping them safe, the city is on a knives-edge as are Ty and Zane and their colleagues.

Things don’t improve when Ty manages to turn himself and Zane into specific targets when he directly addresses the unknown perpetrator during a television interview. It isn’t long before Zane feels the consequences of Ty’s public outburst in a terrifying way, resulting in a situation which forces the two men closer yet again.

And Ty and Zane are growing ever closer, even if Zane still isn’t ready to admit to his feelings for the man who is so much more than his partner. Zane might not be ready to admit to love yet, he does know he’s grown to depend on Ty and the love he has for Zane:

“Zane craved this. He needed it, like he needed air.”

And the connection between them is so much more than just physical:

“Zane shuddered as it occurred to him that it really didn’t seem like just sex anymore. It was more, more passionate, more emotional, more energizing, more draining… at that moment, he wasn’t sure it had ever been just sex between them.”

The reader and Ty may have been sure that Zane has deep feelings for Ty for a long time by now, when Zane at last catches up my heartfelt emotion was: about bloody time too! (I told you I was getting emotionally invested in these characters):

“He loved Ty Grady with all there was to give of his heart, and in the end, all it had taken was one wink for Zane to finally come to terms with it.”

Of course things are never simple for our two agents. Zane may have realized exactly what he feels for Ty, actually using the words “I love you”, opening up to Ty and admitting to his feelings takes a whole lot longer. And just when you think the relationship between the two men might be entering an easier phase, there is Nick, a close friend and former Marine colleague of Ty to throw a spanner in the works and create a host of doubts in both of them but especially Ty.

In these books the romance is more tension filled than the actual thriller part of the story. I find myself worrying about Zane and Ty’s relationship far more than I do about their safety, no matter how dangerous the situation they find themselves in. But once they get past the angst and arrive at that place the reader has been longing to see them in for over 1000 pages, oh boy is it beautiful. All the feelings; in the book and in me…

“The first time I saw you, after I got over hating you, I knew… I knew we’d die together.” – Ty

“First time I saw you, after I got over hating you, I knew (…), I knew I’d fall in love with you.” – Zane

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in any of my reviews so far but Ty and Zane are hot together; and I mean HOT!

“Zane didn’t necessarily enjoy sex with Ty more when Ty was drunk, but it definitely changed the game. Ty was looser, more apt to be rough and manhandle him, more likely to do things to Zane that Zane would have to Google to know what to call them.”

What makes these stories extra special though is that the hotness is only one aspect of their relationship. And while I love their steamy encounters and look forward to them while reading, it is the tenderness between them when they’re just together, the way they wrap themselves around each other when they go to sleep, their need to touch each other even when it has to be secretive because there are others around that really gets to me.

The way this book ends, is just not fair. In fact, I’m raging.  Especially since I’ve been informed (by those who know about these things as well as the authors) that I have to read a book called “Warrior’s Cross”  before I start on “Armed and Dangerous”; the book that will probably put an end to my misery. The authors clearly have a bit of a sadistic streak, ending the book the way they did in the full knowledge that they were going to steer their readers away from the “Cut & Run” series before allowing them to see what will happen after those final two lines in “Divide & Conquer”. I can’t quite decide whether I admire or hate them for what they did to me here.

Taken from The Mind of Gray's Tumbler

I’ll end this review with my favourite quote from this series so far:

“Ty took his hand and pulled at him. “Come dance with me Zane”, he requested quietly”… “It was possibly one of the most erotic, most loving things Ty had ever done for him”.

Be quiet my heart, be quiet…

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


Pages: 314
Date: 22/10/2013
Grade: 5+
Details: no. 3 Cut & Run
Own / Kindle

The Blurb:

“Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are back on the job, settled into a personal and professional relationship built on fierce protectiveness and blistering passion. Now they’re assigned to impersonate two members of an international smuggling ring—an out-and-proud married couple—on a Christmas cruise in the Caribbean. As their boss says, surely they’d rather kiss each other than be shot at, and he has no idea how right he is.

Portraying the wealthy criminals requires a particular change in attitude from Ty and Zane while dealing with the frustrating waiting game that is their assignment. As it begins to affect how they treat each other in private, they realize there’s more to being partners than watching each other’s backs, and when the case takes an unexpected turn and threatens Ty’s life, he and Zane will have to navigate seas of white lies and stormy secrets, including some of their own


When reviewing “Cut & Run” in August I wrote that one of my reasons for rating that book “only” 4.5” was that I wanted to make sure there was room for the grades of the subsequent books in the series to go up. The friends who insisted that I needed to read this series had also informed me that the books would just get better and better, so the slightly less than optimum rating seemed like a good idea at the time. And I guess it was. I did enjoy “Sticks & Stones” more than I did the first book so the grade went up to 5. And now I have finished “Fish and Chips” and wouldn’t you know it, this is my favourite book so far. That isn’t a problem of course, except that I’ve run out of higher grades. On my blog I can – and have – just added a plus to the 5 this book so clearly deserves. Unfortunately, that opportunity doesn’t exist on any of the other sites where I’ll be leaving this review. Therefore, if you’re reading this review anywhere other than on my blog, know that I actually graded this book 5+ stars.

Yes, “Fish & Chips” is most definitely my favourite title in this series so far because the undercover case Zane and Ty are sent on gives them, and the reader, the opportunity to look at and experience their relationship on a whole new level. While the two men decided at the end of “Sticks & Stones” that they wanted to stay together as lovers as well as partners their relationship has, for obvious and work-related reasons, stayed under the radar. In fact their new colleagues in Baltimore don’t expect their working relationship to last for any length of time given Ty’s reputation and the way he and Zane are constantly arguing with each other. And yet, Ty and Zane have been growing closer to each other. They may both run shy of admitting to any deeper feelings but they are at least willing to concede that they want to be together.

“He’d reached a point where Ty’s attitude and cockiness were more turn-ons than annoyances.” - Zane

And one thing has never been in doubt about these two men; they are hot together and hot for each other.

Taken from The Mind of Gray Tumbler Page

“That egotistical bastard was naked and wet. No way was he letting that pass without taking advantage of it.” – Zane

So the opportunity to spend two weeks as a gay married couple – be it of the criminal variety – allows our two men to act on their attraction in public, without having to worry about who might see them and what the consequences of coming out might be. The fact that Zane has to play the part of the dominant partner while undercover – a role that usually falls to Ty in their private life – brings a whole new dynamic to their relationship; a dynamic both of them seem to enjoy more than they would have expected.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Ty and Zane story if it was all plain sailing. Ty struggles with the fact that he thinks he is in love with Zane, especially since he is sure that Zane doesn’t feel the same for him. And his doubts run deeper:

“Could he really be in love with someone he was afraid to ask about his past?” – Ty

Zane on the other hand is afraid to investigate what he might be feeling for his lover. All he knows for sure is that he is deeply afraid of losing Ty. And while his thoughts and reactions might suggest to the reader that his feelings run rather deep, Zane has no intention of investigating those feelings, never mind admit to them.

“That was the problem: Ty wasn’t his keeper – Ty was his conscience.”

It is wonderful to see how Zane, who for a very long time thought that whether he lived or died really didn’t matter to anyone, slowly comes to the realization that:

“He’d already known he’d answer to Ty, anytime, anywhere. But now Zane believed, for the first time in so long, that he had someone who truly cared about him.”

Of course this book is much more than a love story about two men slowly and carefully finding their way to each other. Being undercover on a ship, pretending to be a gay married couple may sound like fun and games – and very often is – it soon turns out that it is anything but a pleasure cruise (pun intended). Especially after several attempts are made on Ty’s life.

“No matter how many times a person almost died, it never got to the point that it was easy to shrug off.” – Ty

This book was clearly more about the relationship between Ty and Zane than the mystery they were trying to unravel. And although there were quite a few nail-biting and action filled moments in this story even those seemed to be more about the men and their feelings than anything else. I, for one, didn’t mind at all. I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to get a much better insight into Ty and Zane, while they were getting to know each other as well as themselves better.

“Sometimes Ty wished he knew what to say to help Zane, but then he reminded himself he wasn’t exactly what one could call stable, either. There was a lot of pot and kettle going on here.”

In my review of “Sticks & Stones” I worried that maybe I had been misreading the story; the way Ty and Zane were feeling about each other was the complete opposite of what I would have expected. So imagine how happily surprised I was to discover that not only had I not been wrong, Ty himself actually agrees with me:

“If he’d been a betting man he would never have picked himself from the two of them to be the sap who fell in love.”

And talking about falling in love; I guess it is time to admit that I have fallen head-over-heels in love with Ty and Zane and these books. I guess that means I should be grateful to those friends who “bullied” me into reading this book. And I am, whole-heartedly.

Monday, 21 October 2013


Yesterday I announced the cover reveal for Brie Embraces the Heart of Submission

Today I'm delighted to share the cover with you: 

And it gets better!

You won't have to wait long until you can read this wonderful story in one complete book since this title will be released on October 27th.

I read the full story when it was still "only" available in 8 separate installments but reviewed all of them in one post titled: After Graduation.

All I will say here is that Brie's story is one well worth reading. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on this book as soon as you can.


Pages: 322
Date: 21/10/2013
Grade: 5
Details: no. 2 Cut & Run
Own / Kindle

The Blurb

“Six months after nearly losing their lives to a serial killer in New York City, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are suffering through something almost as frightening: the monotony of desk duty. When they're ordered to take a vacation for the good of everyone's sanity, Ty bites the bullet and takes Zane home with him to West Virginia, hoping the peace and quiet of the mountains will give them the chance to explore the explosive attraction they’ve so far been unable to reconcile with their professional partnership.

Ty and Zane, along with Ty’s father and brother, head up into the Appalachian mountains for a nice, relaxing hike deep into the woods... where no one will hear them scream. They find themselves facing danger from all directions: unpredictable weather, the unrelenting mountains, wild animals, fellow hikers with nothing to lose, and the most terrifying challenge of all. Each other.”


Online friends have been harassing me for weeks now, insisting that I need to read these books and hurry up already. I hate it when my friends are right. Not because I have a problem with discovering new to me fabulous books with addictive characters and a wonderful and angsty storyline. No, all of those are things I love. I hate my friends being right about me needing to read these books because I really do not have the time to fall in love with a series that consists of seven and a half books. Don’t my friends know I have books I need to review, ideally close to the release date?

It’s hard to stay angry with said friends if they recommend books this good though. Because of course they are right. I’m loving these books and do need to read them in quick succession because I need to know how this story, these characters and especially their relationship is going to develop. It really doesn’t matter that I still wish those friends had been wrong about these books about me needing to read them. Books up for review or not, it seems that I’ll be spending a considerable amount of my (reading) time with Ty and Zane over the next week or so.

Ty and Zane – sigh – what can I say. I’m only on the second book of this series and I’ve already completely fallen in love with these two men. It is impossible to not smile every time they start on one of their frequent and completely obnoxious arguments. And while the characters themselves may be completely unaware of it – or trying to deny it to themselves, as the case may be – it is so clear that the feelings these two men have for each other go deeper than those of colleagues or even friends. Still, Ty and Zane hadn’t been working together all that long and had been intimate for even less time when they both nearly lost their lives in Cut & Run. And although they are now back working together, even if it is doing boring and mind-numbing desk work, it is clear that neither has come to terms with everything that happened to them in that first book, never mind the attraction between them.

When Zane fails his psychological evaluation they are both forced into taking a holiday from their jobs as FBI special agents, with their future to be determined after they return. When Ty invites Zane to join him on a journey home to visit his family in West Virginia it comes as a bit of a surprise to both of them because they had both noticed how they had started to drift apart. The trip should have been a relaxing opportunity to find out where they stand with each other; do they want to continue with their fragile and undefined relationship, do they even want to continue being partners in the FBI?

This wouldn’t have been a Ty and Zane story though if this trip had indeed turned into a relaxing holiday. While hiking in the Appalachian Mountains with his father, Earl, and brother, Deuce, Ty and his partner Zane run into far more problems that they could ever have imagined. Worsening weather conditions and wild animals are the least of their problems. When they run into a deliberately set booby-trap on the mountains they know they are about to run into a situation they aren’t equipped to deal with. Turning around to gather reinforcements would be the sensible thing to do. One insensitive and hurtful remark from Earl sets them on a course towards conflict and violence – a course they may not survive.

This is one of those books that puts the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from laughing out loud to reading with tears in their eyes and every emotion imaginable in between. There were so many times I wanted to take Ty and Zane by the shoulders and shake them while telling them to just go with it, give in to the feelings, be honest with themselves and each other. And yet it makes so much sense in the story that they don’t. I loved following these two as they slowly come to realisations about themselves, each other and the way they are together.

Taken from The Mind of Gray's Tumbler Page
 “As partners, it seemed like they could read each other’s minds. But as lovers – or even friends – they barely knew each other at all.”


“Zane slept much better with Ty alongside him than he did when he was alone, and they both knew it.”

I could have happily killed Earl when he asks Ty the question that nearly breaks him and had tears in my eyes while reading about the devastating effect this had on the man who seems so strong and self-reliant in every possible way. Deuce on the other hand was a ray of sunshine in this story. I loved the way he managed to get both Ty and Zane to at least start thinking about their feelings and what they wanted and needed.

It may be that my reading of the story up to here was wrong, but to me Ty had always come across as the strong and independent one and Zane as the partner who needed their closeness most. So it was interesting to read that it is Ty who reluctantly admits to himself that he may be in love with Zane - even if he doesn’t know what being in love actually feels like – and Zane who is convinced that his feelings for Ty have nothing to do with love.

There is more, so much more, I could write about this book and these characters, but I won’t. This is supposed to be a review and not a book in its own right. All I want to say before I stop raving about this book is that the last few pages of this story were beautiful and heart-warming – resulting in a huge grin on my face. I’m so glad I already own Fish & Chips, the next book in this series. I give myself a few hours at most before I start reading that story.

Saturday, 19 October 2013


Ten days ago I reviewed the eight novella's that formed Brie's story after graduation in one post.

Today I am very excited to announce that it won't be long before everybody will be able to enjoy this wonderful story in one exciting book.

If you have been curious to find out what actually happened after the Brie and her new Master left the graduation party in the training center, you won't have to wait a lot longer. 

The excitement starts on on Monday October 21st with the cover reveal for "Brie Embraces the Heart of Submission" and will be followed by the announcement of the release date and other thrilling events.

If you haven't met Brie yet make sure to read "Brie Learns the Art of Submission" first and than get ready for the rest of this wonderful and very sexy story.

The fun starts here:


Pages: 89
Date: 18/10/2013
Grade: 3-
Details: A Cosmo Red Hot Read
  Received from Harlequin
            Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“One day I'm getting canned from my job as a computer programmer for having wild copy-room sex with a guy I thought was the new game designer. The next, I'm crashing my ex-boss's business lunch in a creative attempt to get my job back and men are eating sushi off my naked body!

That's when I realize:

a) My ex-boss is a hiding corporate secrets

b) Hot copy-room guy is an undercover FBI agent

c) I would make a kick-ass spy!

Then Special Agent Hottie brings out his cuffs, and things get really interesting…”


It is a shame but it has to be said, this novella disappointed me. The idea behind the story is interesting enough; geeky computer programmer works late and runs into a man she doesn’t know but assumes is a new colleague, in the copy-room. Next thing you know they’re all but naked and having sex only to be interrupted by the office manager. Pepper, the geeky girl, loses her job and goes to desperate lengths in order to get her job back. This includes lying all but naked in a restaurant where her former boss as well as the man she encountered in the copy-room, are eating sushi off her body. When it becomes clear that the mystery man is in fact a FBI agent named Steve trying to prove her ex-boss is up to his neck in illegal transactions, it takes very little for Pepper to become involved and get the opportunity of making her dream of being a spy come true.

This story-line might have worked very well in a full length novel. In a novella counting less than 90 pages it was just too much. Especially since this book is trying to be more than just a light-hearted and funny spy story. We are also in the middle of an erotic adventure and dealing with the traumatic backgrounds both Pepper and Steve are burdened with. The word count just wasn’t high enough to carry all these plot lines. The result is a story that can’t quite make up its mind as to what it is and doesn’t really satisfy on any level. Just when you’re getting all caught up in the tension of the spying the mood switches to an erotic encounter which in turn might suddenly become a rather dark look at either Pepper or Steve’s past.

For me this was a rather frustrating reading experience because I never got the opportunity to settle into the story. Whenever I started to get comfortable with and involved in what was happening on the page the story would change and I would have to adjust to what could almost be a different book. As a result none of the elements I normally enjoy in a book – the mystery, the love story, the erotica – had the opportunity to come to fruition, leaving me slightly confused and frustrated.

Like I said, in a longer book this set up might have worked very well. In fact, I would probably have enjoyed spending more time with Steve and Pepper because both of them, but especially our geeky girl, showed great promise as characters. This could have been a quirky and enjoyable read if it either had been longer or contained fewer elements. As it was it left me rather bewildered and dissatisfied. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared

Pages: 304
Date: 16/10/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 S.E.C.R.E.T
            Received from Crown Publishing
            Through NetGalley

The Blurb:

“Still wounded from a recent heartbreak over her boss and lover, Will, Cassie Robichaud throws herself into service with S.E.C.R.E.T., the mysterious organization that changed her forever by bringing her deepest sexual fantasies to life, one step at a time. Now, it’s Cassie’s turn to guide the group’s newest candidate, Dauphine Mason, recruiting men to execute a new set of fantasies.

     At thirty-one, Dauphine is the proprietor of a New Orleans vintage clothing store. She’s been harboring a crush on Mark Drury, a local rock star, but is too shy to put herself out there with him. She turns to S.E.C.R.E.T. to reignite her sexual flame and find the confidence to risk her heart again with another man.  

     As Cassie worries that the right time will never come for her and Will, she finds inspiration helping Dauphine in S.E.C.R.E.T. Both women navigate the rocky path between their hearts and their passions, hoping to discover what they truly want in life and in love. S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared is a romantic, adventurous, and sexually charged sequel to one of the hottest new series in erotica.”


“Nullum judicium. Non limitat. Nulla verecundia”.
(No judgment. No limits. No Shame)

This is the second S.E.C.R.E.T. book and although it could be read on its own merits I would advice anyone to read the first book before starting this one.

I am so glad that L. Marie Adeline decided to write a sequel to “S.E.C.R.E.T.” Not only because Cassie’s story clearly wasn’t finished when the first book ended. What I really appreciate in this book is that it illustrates that just because we go through a certain process and come out at the end of it successfully doesn’t mean that all our old issues have suddenly disappeared. While Cassie, in the first book, certainly discovered sides to herself she never knew existed and starts looking at herself and her needs and wants in a new way, that doesn’t mean that she has suddenly gotten rid of all the insecurities that hav been bothering her for years, if not her whole life. Growth is a life-long journey and insecurities only release their hold with reluctance, as Cassie comes to realize as the story progresses.

While it seemed, for a few pages at least, that Cassie would end up with everything she ever wanted near the end of the first book, a shocking revelation destroyed all her hopes and dreams and tore her apart from Will, her boss and the man she loves. What is more, there appeared to be little or no hope that she and Will would ever have the opportunity to be together, regardless of their feelings for each other.

When this book starts Cassie has decided that she will stay with S.E.C.R.E.T., the secret organization run by and for women that undertakes to liberate women through a process that has them push their boundaries by participating in nine sexual fantasies.

When Cassie meets Dauphine she knows that she has found the ideal candidate for the S.E.C.R.E.T. process and once Dauphine accepts the challenge, Cassie is only too happy to act as her guide.

Dauphine is in desperate need of a shake up of her (love) life. Dauphine is as stuck in her life as it is possible to be. Betrayed by her boyfriend as well as her best friend eight years ago and very insecure about her curvaceous body she has taken a tight hold of every aspect of her life. Dauphine needs to be in control of everything that happens to and around her and her refusal to take risks has all but paralised her. But, as is pointed out to her once she is introduced to the idea and the women of S.E.C.R.E.T

“That’s a tough one, control. (…) Too much and you never allow yourself to know others. Too little and you never truly know yourself.”

Dauphine has to battle all her self-preserving instincts but in the end realizes that, if she wants more out of her life than she has been getting so far – if she wants to stop being afraid – she has to grab this opportunity.

“Some things are fatefully divine and some are just divinely fated.”

And so begins Dauphine’s wonderful journey. A journey that will not only force her to face fears she didn’t think she’d ever overcome but will also teach her that she is beautiful and good enough. She has some wonderful encounters with equally wonderful men, although my favourite scene was the tango dancing one, taking place in Buenos Aires. And although part of me was disappointed that her journey got cut short – although the way in which was intriguing – it did make perfect sense in the story. By the time Dauphine returns from Argentina, she has indeed conquered the ten steps: surrender, courage, trust, generosity, fearlessness, confidence, curiosity, bravery, exuberance and liberation, even if she didn’t need all the steps or encounters normally required. And her reward more than lives up to everything she’d hoped for.

And I’m glad Dauphine got a happy ending since Cassie’s journey is proving a lot tougher. Although she knows that her hopes of a relationship with Will have forever been dashed she continues to work for him and can’t stop thinking and dreaming about everything that might have been. And just when it seems that maybe Cassie will be able to find happiness for herself, everything comes crashing down around her once again, leaving her dreams shattered but also bringing her to the realization that although she finished her nine-step program, she still has a lot to learn about being truly independent.

It is clear from the way this book ends that there is at least one more S.E.C.R.E.T. title to come and I will be looking forward to reading it. In fact, I can’t wait to get my hands on it because for once I’m not at all sure what ending I am hoping for when it comes to Cassie. I can see at least three possibilities and all of them have their charms as well as their down sides for me so I’m very curious to see where the author will take us.

This book was, like its prequel, a wonderful and very well written story. While “S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared” is definitely a very erotic story, it is so much more. This is a story about women helping and empowering women; a book with a very positive message for all the women out there who think that they are not (good, beautiful or smart) enough. It is great to read books in which women grow into themselves and everything they can be without the answer to their problems necessarily being a man in their lives. Yes, men play a huge part in the journeys these women undertake but they are only the means through which progress is made and not the reason why. For me it is impossible not to love a book that includes a quote like this:

“The word slut, unless employed by iron-clad feminists or ironically by irony experts, has no business coming out of a woman’s mouth, do you hear me. Not when she’s describing her own sexual behaviour and especially if she’s describing another woman’s. It’s the kind of word that can scar, Cassie”.  – Mathilda

Monday, 14 October 2013


Pages: 157
Date: 14/10/2013
Grade: 3.5
Details: No. 2 Friends & Benefits
            Received from Carina Press
            Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“Alice White isn't used to being ignored. So when the object of her lust does just that, she's bound and determined to get his attention. Her pursuit leads her to Wonderland, the kind of club she's only read about, and suddenly Alice is craving something she never knew she needed.

Gael Hernandez wants to be the youngest partner at his prestigious law firm, and not even a certain tempting legal assistant can distract him from his goal of financially helping his family. Until she shows up at his favorite club and surprises him with an interest in being restrained. But the BDSM lifestyle is no game to him, and he won't take things further until Alice is schooled into submission.

After a taste, Alice wants more. She offers to be Gael's sub for one weekend, with nothing forbidden and no boundaries. In a few short days, he gives her the strength to be the person she's always wanted to be. Now Alice just needs to convince Gael that he can dominate in the bedroom, and submit to love.”


What do we have here?

Well, we have a charming and easy to read story about two individuals, Alice and Gael, who are clearly attracted to each other but don’t act on their attraction for various reasons. Gael wouldn’t dream of approaching his beautiful co-worker. She may look like his idea of the perfect woman and come across as sweet-natured, that is not enough for him to abandon his plan of becoming a partner in his uncles company in order to safe his parent’s business. As for Alice, her reasons are far more straightforward; while she may be very attracted to Gael she has too much pride to throw herself at someone who obviously isn’t interested in her.

Things change when Alice follows Gael down a dark alley and into a club she didn’t know existed. Alice is shocked when she finds herself in what appears to be a sex club; shocked, but also excited. Her first encounter with the owner of the club, Mistress Red, put a smile on my face. Innocent Alice had no idea what to make of this woman, dressed in leather who suddenly kisses her.

Once she finds Gael it isn’t long before she discovers that Wonderland isn’t so much a sex club as a BDSM club and that Gael is a Dom. While Alice has no real idea what BDSM is or what a Dom does or whether or not she might be submissive, she can’t help feeling her body react to Gael when he gets into Dom mode.

“Please Gael, I don’t know what I’m doing here. But I need…I think I need this. With you.”

Gael knows that getting involved with Alice might jeopardize all his carefully laid plans and does his best to scare her off.

“I’m not a kind man. I’m not gently in the bedroom. I like to fuck, not make love.”

But Alice’s attraction to Gael is too strong and her curiosity about all the new feelings and emotions she’s experiencing too tempting to just walk away. She wants and needs to learn more about her reactions to everything Gael introduces her to.

“Pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin. Your body reacts to both in similar ways. Pleasure can get to the point where it can grow uncomfortable. Likewise, pain can make your body sing with delight.”

After their one evening together neither Gael nor Alice is able to just walk away from the connection they both experienced. A weekend away, just the two of them, to explore whether or not Alice is indeed the woman Gael needs her to be seems the perfect solution. Until a family emergency throws a spanner in the works and threatens to tear them apart again.

To answer my own question, what we have here is a story that I seem to have read several times in the resent past. A stand-offish Dominant male encounters a rather innocent woman who turns out to be submissive although she has never had any desires to submit in the past. They really click and appear to be on the verge of their happy ending when due to an outside influence one of them suddenly feels the need to let the other one go. And so on. It is a nice story, the writing is fine and the book was easy to read, but the story was just too similar to other (dare I say better) ones I’ve read in the past.

I enjoyed the sexual interactions between Gael and Alice; they were hot and described in just the right amount of detail. Having said that, I’m not convinced that a woman would go from a complete novice as far as BDSM is concerned to actually enjoying everything that is inflicted upon her as quickly as Alice did. There didn’t appear to be any build-up in Gael’s play with Alice. He went all in immediately – which made sense in the story because he was still trying to scare her off – only to find that she enjoys all he can throw at her. Maybe that does actually happen, but for me it just moved too fast.

Another thing that moved to fast was the ending of the book. While the pacing up until that point had been good and balanced I can’t help feeling that the author discovered she was getting close to the word count she had in mind and found herself having to rush to the finish line.

Having said all of that, there isn’t a whole lot wrong with this story either. Anyone who likes this genre but hasn’t read many similar stories yet will probably enjoy this novella a lot. As it is, this is an easy read, a charming story and a sexy way to spend an afternoon reading.