Tag Archives: Made Me Mad

Review: Mastered by Maya Banks

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

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Mastered by Maya BanksMastered by Maya Banks
Series: Enforcers #1
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on December 29th, 2015
Genres: BDSM, Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Surrender Trilogy and the Breathless Trilogy knows what makes readers hot. Now she turns it up in Mastered, the explosive first book in a new series of a desire too dangerous to resist.   What he wants, he takes with no remorse or guilt.   She stood out in his club like a gem, unspoiled and untouched. A lamb among wolves, she clearly didn't belong. Drawn to her innocence he watched as she was surrounded by men who saw what he did--but no one but him could touch her. He summoned her to his private quarters. He sensed her fear. He also recognized the desire in her eyes. And he knew she wouldn't leave before he possessed her. She had no need to know his secrets. Not until he had her under his complete and utter control.   What he wants, she isn't sure she can give him.   The moment he told her want he wanted, she couldn't resist. Instinct told her to run, but her heart said stay and walk the fine line between pleasure and pain. Though she wasn't sure she could ever completely surrender, the primal part of her wanted to try, even knowing this man could break her in ways she never imagined. Because once he possessed her, he owned her and it would be too late to turn back. She can only pray that he doesn't destroy her in the end.

Warning: This review contains spoilers for Mastered. The major one is in a spoiler space section, but if you don’t want to know any actual details about this book, stop reading now.

Some people on the Internet seem to think that we amateur book reviewers love to write nasty negative reviews about books just for the evil fun of it. The reality, however, is entirely the opposite. And when the book in question is by a beloved author, the feeling isn’t so much glee as it is intense sadness and disappointment.

It is with that feeling of great dismay that I am writing this review. Mastered is the first book in the new Enforcers series by Maya Banks, one of my all time favorite authors. I’ve read and enjoyed so many of her erotic romance series that I jumped at this review opportunity even though this blog is still technically on hiatus until next year. And yet Mastered is such a huge departure from what I have come to rely on in a Maya Banks erotic romance that I’m still reeling at how very wrong it went for me.

The premise of Mastered is simple and familiar:  innocent heroine crosses paths with dangerous dominant hero who must have her at all costs. Evangeline was seduced and abandoned by a no-good jerk and now she’s at Impulse, the hottest club in town, to prove she’s over him. But when the no-good jerk shows up to physically confront our heroine, the all-powerful club owner Drake Donovan comes to her rescue, only to capture her for himself until it all goes horribly wrong at the end of the book.

Wait, what? you say. Horribly wrong? Well, yes. Because Mastered ends on a wrenching cliffhanger and you’re going to have to wait until the next book is released to get the rest of Evangeline and Drake’s story. This information was posted on the author’s Facebook page earlier this year, but it isn’t anywhere in the book listing or promo materials. To her credit, she has included a lengthy explanation/apology at the end of the book, and I recommend you read it before deciding whether or not to continue with the story itself.

But honestly, for me the incomplete story wasn’t the main reason Mastered was such a disappointing read. There are two more compelling reasons, one of which appears in a spoiler tag further down. But the other one permeates the entire book so thoroughly that even if the story was complete, I’d still have problems recommending it.

For in Mastered, our heroine Evangeline is presented not as a normal human adult woman with both positive and negative attributes. Instead she is the perfect combination of Pollyanna, Marilyn Monroe, and Mother Teresa that no man (other than the no-good jerk who took her virginity for kicks) can resist. She projects a relentlessly positive attitude no matter how dire her situation, yet is constantly in denial about how every man (except that one guy) is drawn to her innate goodness and powerful (yet entirely innocent) sexual allure. She immediately agrees to give up her impoverished yet independent life to a man she’s known for about fifteen minutes, one whose first interaction with her is to engage in heated oral sex in his office after rescuing her from the no-good jerk. And as every man (other than the first guy) continues to fall at her feet throughout the story, every woman is compared to our heroine and found wanting.

This, in a nutshell, is the main problem I had with Mastered —  that Evangeline is constantly presented as the epitome of acceptable womanhood and every other woman in the book (other than her mother in a brief cameo) is presented as not worthy to kiss the heroine’s feet. Indeed, the first time we see our hero, he is forcibly removing a woman from his club who had bribed one of his workers to sneak her in so she could throw herself at the hero, calling her a skank for good measure. Then when the no-good jerk who deflowered and dumped our heroine appears at the club with his new squeeze in tow, she’s just as awful and unsavory as the woman tossed out by our hero only moments earlier.

This insidious attitude toward other women would annoy me in any romance novel, but in a Maya Banks book it was especially disappointing. In so many of her other erotic romance books, notably the Sweet series and Breathless series, the heroines all had great women friends who were just as worthy of being liked and admired, and who often ended up as heroines themselves. But here in Mastered, other women who are not blood relatives of the heroine are denigrated and tossed aside when they’re no longer needed. The worst example of this occurs just after one of Evangeline’s former “best friend” roommates warns her in no uncertain terms not to get mixed up with the hero. Instead of the hero sharing his own doubts about whether he’s capable of being a good person for the heroine (which we already know about from his internal monologues), he declares the former BFF to be a “jealous bitch.” Yet the heroine wouldn’t have even met the hero if that same “jealous bitch” hadn’t magically acquired a VIP pass to Impulse and given it to the heroine. This distinct lack of respect for any women who aren’t the heroine is simply not what I’ve come to expect and enjoy in a Maya Banks book, and I’m still distressed about how prevalent it was in this one.

There are a lot of other reasons why Mastered didn’t work for me, such as how every deadly henchmen on the hero’s staff instantly declares himself ready to save the heroine when (not if) the hero screws things up with her, or how both the hero and heroine spend more time in long internal monologues on how they feel about their situation than they do actually sharing those feelings with each other.

But all those pale to the other reason why I cannot recommend Mastered, and as the catalyst for the cliffhanger, it’s the biggest spoiler of the book.
























The hero has unsavory gangster types coming over to his apartment for a private meeting so he convinces the heroine to go out with her ex-roommates for the evening to keep her safe. But when her ex-roommates understandably don’t want anything to do with someone who had ditched them completely since she’d met the hero, the heroine decides to surprise the hero by cooking a full gourmet dinner for him and his associates. After all, he never told her they were too dangerous for her to meet, so why shouldn’t she? When they arrive to find her waiting, the hero decides the best way to keep her safe is to not only verbally assault her in the worst possible way, but also to force her to fellate him in front of the other men.

That’s right – the hero sexually assaults the heroine to protect her from additional sexual assault by others.

Then after they all depart to eat dinner elsewhere, the heroine leaves the hero to take a job at a hotel run by the sister of the doorman at the hero’s building, the doorman being yet another random man who has immediately fallen for the heroine.

















This was the last straw for me and Mastered. Your mileage may vary, but everybody has their hard limits on what is acceptable in a romance novel, and that crossed the line for me in no uncertain terms. If the rest of Evangeline and Drake’s story had been in this book instead of continued in a future one, I still wouldn’t have read past where this book ends. Thanks to the nature of this cliffhanger, I have absolutely no interest in how the hero and heroine recover from what has happened between them. I can only hope that future Maya Banks books will get back to what has always made them great for me before – a hero and heroine with a genuine loving relationship in a world where both men and women are valued equally.



Review: Secret Pleasure by Lora Leigh

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

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Secret Pleasure by Lora LeighSecret Pleasure by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #13
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on August 18th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Erotica, Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
In Secret Pleasure by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh, Sebastian and Shane De Loren were born to love Alyssa Hampstead. No other woman on Earth can burn for them, ignite with passion between them, the way Alyssa does. But after three sensual months of pleasure come to a crashing halt, Sebastian and Shane are left fighting their powerful family, risking it all to have Alyssa one more time... Alyssa has closed off her heart. A senator's daughter in the political spotlight, she'd rather be quiet and safe than feel the emotional intensity Sebastian and Shane roused within her years ago. But when the sexy cousins blaze their way back into her life, Alyssa cannot help but succumb to the heady pleasures the two men can give her. And as an unknown enemy draws near, Alyssa will need Sebastian and Shane to protect her...and satisfy every forbidden craving...

It’s almost impossible to accurately summarize everything that is wrong with this book without revealing any major spoilers. I’m heartbroken because this has always been one of my favorite erotic romance series.

Full review available at Night Owl Reviews.


Review: Delicious Temptation by Sabrina Sol

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

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Delicious Temptation by Sabrina SolDelicious Temptation (Entangled Brazen) by Sabrina Sol
Series: Delicious Desires #1
Published by Macmillan on May 19th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 200
Format: eARC
A sexy category romance from Entangled's Brazen imprint...The only thing naughtier than a bad boy is a good girl...Amara Maria Robles is a good girl. So good that she gave up her dreams of becoming a renowned pastry chef to help her parents with their struggling Mexican bakery. Yet her parents reject any changes she suggests, and refuse to sell her mouth-watering confections. Clearly being a good girl isn't paying off. So when her brother's sexy ex-best friend walks into the bakery, Amara's tempted to be very bad indeed...After a scandal twelve years ago, resident bad boy Eric Valencia has returned to make things right with his family and friends. One glance at Amara and her wicked curves, however, and Eric finds himself thinking about how she'd feel beneath him-something he promised Amara's brother he would never think about, let alone do. But this bad boy is in deep trouble...because Amara's determined to have her cake, and Eric, too.

DELICIOUS TEMPTATION is the story of how a good girl and a bad boy each move past the judgmental expectations of family and community to embrace love and a new life together. This story should have been right in my wheelhouse, but the combination of a doormat heroine, a vacillating hero, and outrageously overbearing parents made this a less than optimal read for me

Amara Robles abandoned her successful pastry chef job in Chicago to take over her family’s tiny East LA bakery after her father’s illness. Now with all of the responsibility but none of the authority, Amara feels stifled by being back under her parents’ thumb and by their refusal to approve any changes to save the bakery. When her brother’s notorious high school friend Eric Valencia reappears after years away, Amara decides to risk her parents’ disapproval to go after him, if only temporarily. But will Eric be worth the gamble for both her heart and her family’s livelihood?

The trope of a heroine yearning to break free from oppressive parents is a classic in romance, and it’s gratifying when the heroine successfully rescues herself from their clutches. But when the parents are completely intractable in the face of all good reason, and the heroine can’t escape without the help of other external forces, then I start feeling trapped myself.

DELICIOUS TEMPTATION still could have worked for me if Amara had ever stood up to her parents even once. But in Amara’s world, life isn’t what you make of it, it’s what your parents decide is best for you. This might be understandable for a heroine just starting out on her own, but when the heroine is in her late 20s and has already had a life outside her parents’ sphere of influence, it makes for a frustrating read. And yet this is how Amara behaves for nearly the entire story. Even when the last best opportunity to save her parents’ bakery is rejected by them (just like always), it only still ends up happening because someone else takes over after Amara gives up (just like always).

Amara only makes a few real independent decisions in the entire story, one of which is to make the fancy cupcakes her parents previously rejected, and the other to go after Eric. And yet she even gives up on Eric when it looks like he’s not going to stick around after all. Amara’s almost complete acquiescence to whatever anyone else decided for her was infuriating, and having other characters call her out on it didn’t make it any better. By the time I got to the end of the book, it was clear that if Eric hadn’t finally seen the light, Amara would have stayed under her parents’ thumb indefinitely. That’s not a heroine I can cheer for.

Amara and Eric were a cute couple, and I was glad they got their HEA in spite of all the obstacles in their path. But ultimately for me, Amara’s inability to stand up for herself until everything else was already fixed for her made DELICIOUS TEMPTATION more aggravating than enjoyable for me.


Review: Seduced By Sunday by Catherine Bybee

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

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Seduced By Sunday by Catherine BybeeSeduced by Sunday by Catherine Bybee
Published by Amazon Publishing on April 14th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Family Life, Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 310
Format: eARC
She swore off love forever...but he just might change her mind. The sixth sweet, thrilling book in the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Weekday Brides series from Catherine Bybee. Meg Rosenthal: Matchmaker by day, realist by night, Meg is not about to get swept away by a charming, darkly handsome businessman in a designer suit. She's come to a beautiful secluded resort to evaluate the private island's potential for her agency, not to ogle its owner. But there's something about the magnetic man that's hard to resist, even for a woman who refuses to fall in love. Valentino Masini: A successful and drop-dead sexy businessman, Valentino is used to having the finer things in life. Yet he's never wanted someone the way he wants Meg, who's stirring up a hurricane of trouble in his heart. But just as he decides to convince her to stay, someone else decides it might be time to get Meg off the island...permanently.

One of the very first romances I read as an ebook several years ago was WIFE BY WEDNESDAY by Catherine Bybee, and it’s still one of my favorite contemporary romances. Since then, that book has been followed by several others in what’s now known as the Weekday Brides series, where each day of the week features another heroine and hero finding their way to each other and a well deserved HEA. What I’ve noticed as the series progresses is that each book in turn has been more romantic suspense than straight up romance. And now with this latest book, SEDUCED BY SUNDAY, what I’d feared would happen has occurred – the actual romance has been downgraded to just another facet of a complicated suspense plot that ends up taking over all but the beginning and ending of the entire book.

SEDUCED BY SUNDAY starts out well enough as we get to know Meg Rosenthal, one of the highly skilled matchmakers working for Alliance, the company started by the heroine of WIFE BY WEDNESDAY. Alliance has successfully matched up several couples who need to be married for reasons other than love, but as we’ve seen in the previous books, sometimes those alliances turn into love, and sometimes they lead its participants to love matches within the circle of those who initially brought them together. In this story, Meg is taking Michael, the closeted gay actor we met two books earlier, to a resort island run by Valentine Masini in the hopes that this resort will work well as a private honeymoon destination for future Alliance clients. But as Meg and Valentine try not to succumb to their shared sexual attraction, their promised privacy is violated by someone with much bigger plans than mere blackmail. By the end of this story, there will be terrible betrayals and more than a few dead bodies, but the promised HEA for Meg and Val will not be denied.

What made SEDUCED BY SUNDAY a less enjoyable read for me wasn’t just how the suspense plot became the focus of the story instead of Meg and Val’s budding romance. It was how that plot went from mysterious photographs hinting at blackmail to a sudden and lengthy trip to Italy while another secondary character was kidnapped and abused, culminating with the heroine saving herself in a way that I could not believe one bit. Then when the romance was finally taken up again near the end, I was supposed to believe that the heroine really didn’t know the hero loved her because she didn’t know the Italian translation of “I love you.” I might have been able to swallow one unbelievable ending, but both were just too much for me. And even though I will always love WIFE BY WEDNESDAY, it’s clear that the series has transformed into a subgenre where I don’t care to follow, so SEDUCED BY SUNDAY will be my last Weekday Brides book.


This is what “chilling” means. This is what “chilling” does.

Late last night, I received a long and heartfelt email from a reader who had left a comment months ago on a review of a book that I’d posted earlier this year. I hadn’t liked the book much for very specific reasons, and this reader had agreed in a comment.

But now the reader was asking me to remove that comment entirely because of a fear of being sued, thanks to the recent lawsuit by Ellora’s Cave against the Dear Author blog.

Never mind that the EC suit is ostensibly about DA reporting on possible financial issues at EC. Never mind that this wasn’t even an EC book. Thanks to the chilling environment EC is attempting to foster with their actions, some innocent reader of my tiny blog is worried enough to ask me to remove a comment just in case. And I did.

And now I’m going to go donate more money to the Dear Author defense fund. Because this nonsense has got to stop.

Review: The Virgin’s Guide to Misbehaving by Jessica Clare

The Virgin's Guide to Misbehaving (A Bluebonnet Novel)The Virgin’s Guide to Misbehaving by Jessica Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.

Although this isn’t my first Jessica Clare book, it is the first one I’ve read in her Bluebonnet series, where different couples find love in a tiny but interesting fictional Texas town. I didn’t have any problem diving into the story of a hero and heroine from vastly different worlds who found themselves more compatible than anyone could have predicted. Elise and Rome’s romance is both sweet and hot, and it kept me interested even as another character in the book did her best to try to make me stop reading altogether.

Elise is quiet and shy because she spent her formative years suffering from a self-image severely damaged by a large facial birthmark and scoliosis. The birthmark was mostly removed by lasers, the scoliosis mostly fixed by years in a body brace and major surgery, but some external and internal scars remain. So when Elise finds herself irresistibly drawn to a handsome stranger covered in piercings and tattoos, she’s as surprised as anyone at her decision to pursue what would be the first real romantic relationship of her life. But will he give her a chance?

Rome has learned to trust no one after the multiple betrayals of his family resulted years spent in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. His checkered past and intimidating appearance have kept everyone at arm’s length, until pretty little Elise sneaks past his defenses and convinces him to embark on a passionate affair. But when Elise’s over-protective brother discovers the truth, what will it take to keep the lovers together when it seems like everyone else is working to keep them apart?

For me, reading THE VIRGIN’S GUIDE TO MISBEHAVING was a constant battle between the parts of the story I loved and the parts that made me want to throw my ereader against the wall in frustration. Rome and Elise really are a beautifully matched couple. Each has been taught not to trust other people, albeit for entirely different reasons, and even as they realize they want to be together, they each still take turns bracing for what they believe will be an inevitable betrayal by the other. It was wonderful to see how Rome proved he wouldn’t take advantage of Elise’s naivete, and how Elise in turn showed him how he was worthy of her love and the respect of others. Their intimate scenes exquisitely raised the sexual tension and deepened their emotional attachment each time they came together, and by the end of the book, we could see that they’ll continue to grow in their affection and trust as a united team against anyone who would dare threaten their happiness. But Rome and Elise weren’t the problem for me.

The reason I found this book to be as annoying as it was entertaining can be summed up in one word: Brenna. Brenna is the fiancee of Elise’s brother, Grant, and she is as wild and crazy as he is buttoned down and straitlaced. She may be a good person, but she is not a good friend to Elise. Brenna is the reason why Rome thought Elise didn’t like him. Brenna is the reason why Grant finds out about Rome and Elise before they are ready to go public, even after Elise specifically asked her not to tell anyone. And then to top it all off, when Rome leaves town in a misguided attempt to protect Elise from her brother’s wrath, Brenna is the reason why Elise uses a truly reprehensible trick to force Rome into coming back.

I’ll admit it’s possible that if I’d read Brenna’s book before this one, I might have a more rounded picture of who she is and why she behaves as she does here. But as a new reader to the series, I found Brenna to be such an incredible distraction that every time she appeared to mess things up, I wished I could tell her off and make her go away for good. If Brenna is in all the other Bluebonnet books, then frankly, I’m not interested in reading them. Thanks to her, I was only just able to finish THE VIRGIN’S GUIDE TO MISBEHAVING so I could enjoy Rome and Elise’s lovely HEA, including a satisfying epilogue that emphasized just how good they would always be for one another. But if you can stomach a relentlessly wacky secondary character like Brenna, you might like this book even better.


Overall: 3
Sensuality level: 3

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Review: Once Upon a Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Once upon a Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club, #4)Once upon a Billionaire by Jessica Clare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.

Jessica Clare’s Billionaire Boys Club is a relatively new romance series that I’ve enjoyed from the very beginning, with a 5 star read for me in its second book, BEAUTY AND THE BILLIONAIRE. So it’s with great sadness that I have to say ONCE UPON A BILLIONAIRE was so not of the same quality that if it had been the very first book, I probably wouldn’t have continued with the series. Although the romance ended up in the right place when all was said and done, its ill-conceived hero and heroine affected my enjoyment of their HEA to the point that I almost feel guilty for having liked any of it at all.

Griffin Verdi, aka Viscount Montagne Verdi, younger brother of the Duke of Calcaire in the ruling family of Bellissime, is a member of the Billionaire Boys Club, but that’s all due to his own financial skills, not his royal bloodline. His snooty family all but disowned him after he moved to America, but they’re still happy to spend the money he sends them. All he asks in return is to be left alone with his work and his passion for archaeology, but even that is more than they can manage. Now that he’s required to attend his beloved cousin’s wedding as she becomes the first Bellissime Crown Princess to marry a commoner, it’s just Griffin’s bad luck for his sole personal assistant to be too sick to accompany him there. Desperation forces the proud billionaire to turn to his good friend and fellow club member, Hunter, for help. And payback is what prompts Hunter’s girlfriend, Gretchen, to surprise Griffin with the one woman who could unsettle him to the point of madness.

Maylee Meriweather may hail from a no-account Arkansas trailer park, but that doesn’t mean she can’t handle her boss’s last-minute call to help Griffin on his trip. She doesn’t have the fancy clothes, fancy laptop, or fancy anything to keep up appearances in Griffin’s circle. All she has is a can-do attitude, plenty of gumption, and an otherworldly ability to take away a person’s pain after a burn or other related injury. But when nervous flier Maylee mixes mojitos with her “happy pills” on Griffin’s private plane, her bedraggled appearance and drug-induced behavior threaten to end any chance of them getting along before they even land at their destination. Still, there’s something about Maylee that Griffin can’t seem to resist. If he could just manage not to insult her with every word out of his mouth, they might find something together that goes well beyond their temporary working relationship.

The plot of ONCE UPON A BILLIONAIRE is a fairly standard romance trope: egotistical billionaire is thrown together with a sweet tempered woman totally below his standards, they clash on superficial differences but eventually succumb to their mutual physical attraction, ending up with an HEA only after the prerequisite Big Misunderstanding. It’s light and fluffy and utterly predictable, unlike the last two books in the series, and yet that’s not what bothered me so much. What made me nearly stop reading more than once was how both the hero and heroine were so broadly defined that it bordered on offensive in some spots.

Let’s begin with our billionaire hero, Griffin Verdi. From the first page of ONCE UPON A BILLIONAIRE, he comes across as the worst sort of condescending rich guy, barely civil to the other men he considers friends, and outright rude to Hunter’s girlfriend, Gretchen. It’s true that Gretchen gives as good as she gets, but it’s not like Griffin isn’t capable of basic courtesy to anyone not in his inner circle. Or is he? We’re led to believe that this innate boorishness stems from his royal upbringing, and yet he has a constant inner monologue about how much he hates his own relatives taking advantage of him and others without even so much as a simple thank you. So why wouldn’t he try to behave better than the people he resents? I suspect it was all in support of the conflict between him and his intended heroine. And yet for me, Griffin was nothing more than a faded copy of a Harlequin Presents hero. The arrogance and incivility were there, but any compelling reasons why a woman would find him irresistible in the face of such nonsense were missing in action. Even so, Griffin’s portrayal wasn’t half as problematic as what was in store for Maylee, the woman he supposedly learns to love.

Maylee Meriweather isn’t just from another world, she’s from an entirely different universe. Any woman not born and bred as royalty would be a challenge for Griffin, but a hick from the sticks is beyond the pale. Yet what I objected to wasn’t the extreme contrast per se, but the way Maylee was written as a cartoon character straight out of Dogpatch USA. She’s already a personal assistant to another billionaire, but she dresses like a bag lady and keeps track of her boss’s schedule on Post-It Notes. Every other word out of her mouth is “Lordamercy!” and she loves to tell everyone she meets that she was named for her Nana and PeePaw. Later we learn that her younger sisters are named Alabama and Dixie after their Daddy’s two favorite songs. (What, no brother named Skeeter?) Best of all, Maylee is a self-proclaimed “burn talker” who helps injured people by asking them to give the pain to her as she rubs the location of their burn. (Of course she is.)

This ongoing litany of outrageous personal details prompted a constant side-eye from me as the book went on, especially once it became obvious that Griffin would have been a complete jerk to Maylee without them. It really wasn’t necessary to portray her as an egregious example of nearly every possible stereotype of young women born and raised in the American South. And yet all that was missing by the time we met Maylee’s beloved drooling hound dog in Mama’s trailer back home was a moonshine still in the backyard and a visit to the local Waffle House. But because Maylee is the personification of the sweet but naive girl fresh off the turnip truck, she’s also able to win over every other person she meets with her kind and considerate demeanor, and even manages to help the Crown Princess of Bellissime herself with a curling iron burn on the night before the big wedding. Maylee also secretly hands out cash tips to everyone providing services to Griffin on his behalf, even though we’ve already been told that she’s barely getting by financially due to her need to send most of her salary to her family back in Arkansas. It’s this deep-seated kindness that ostensibly makes Maylee such a great personal assistant in spite of all her shortcomings in appearance and social behavior. It’s also apparently why she continues to take care of Griffin in spite of the cruel way he treats her right up until he decides she’s worthy of his affection after all.

Just because Maylee also gets the good end of the sweet Southern girl stereotype doesn’t make the rest of it even remotely acceptable. And just because Griffin finally pulls his head out of his ass after seeing himself in his mother and brother’s poor treatment of Maylee doesn’t mean his earlier abominable behavior is in any way excusable. There’s a way to depict a romance between a hero and heroine from vastly different worlds without potentially insulting readers, and then there’s what this book did. But I’m not quite ready to give up on the Billionaire Boys Club series, and I’m hoping very hard that the next book, ROMANCING THE BILLIONAIRE, will be a triumphant return to form. I don’t think I could handle this level of disappointment again.


Overall: 3
Sensuality level: 3

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Review: Twisted by Emma Chase

Twisted (Tangled, #2)Twisted by Emma Chase
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes For The Love Of Romance.

When I was approved to review TWISTED, I was so happy that I think I actually squealed. TANGLED was one of my favorite books of 2013 and this first sequel was near the top of my most anticipated reads for this year. But now that I’ve read TWISTED, and had some time to ponder my reactions to it, all I can do for that previous version of me is pat her on the hand and make vaguely sympathetic noises. To say I felt blindsided by TWISTED is an understatement. How about sucker-punched? Betrayed? Enough about me – let’s talk about the book.

The original conceit of TANGLED was its funny and touching 1st person POV of Drew Evans, an admitted manwhore who met his match in the only woman he’d wanted who had actually turned him down. Drew was a winning character in spite of all his shortcomings, and in their story told entirely from his side, we got to see the initial surface dislike he and Kate had shared slowly give way to a genuine romance, complete with a sweet and touching Happy For Now.

Fast forward two years, and here we are at the beginning of TWISTED, which is told entirely from the side of Kate Brooks, the woman who showed Drew that one true love is light years better than a million fleeting sexual conquests. (Or so we had been led to believe.) Just like TANGLED, TWISTED begins at what is actually close to the ending, with the bulk of the story being an extended flashback. So we know right away that something terrible is about to happen, and can only squirm helplessly as it lurches toward us like an especially gruesome slow moving train wreck. And for me, when that train went off the rails, so did the rest of TWISTED, and even more horribly than I could have ever predicted.

Because TWISTED’s entire plot relies on what I consider the worst execution of the infamous Big Misunderstanding I’ve read in any recently published romance novel, requiring the reader to suspend all critical judgment and believe in an increasingly implausible series of events. It expects you to believe that Drew would instantly jump to the most awful conclusion about something that could have easily been explained in a five minute conversation (“Who’s Bob?” “That’s my doctor. Her full name is Roberta.”) It expects you to believe that Drew would decide to react in the most offensive way imaginable after having jumped to this completely wrong conclusion mere hours before (again, without bothering to have the simple conversation that adults not in this book would have at least considered). And then it expects you to believe that although Kate first responded to Drew’s insane behavior in the same way pretty much anyone in her position would do, she would then assume she knew exactly why he had done this terrible thing and decide to leave him, her job, and her life as she knew it, without any explanation to anyone else.

Yet this was just the start of the madness. When Kate arrived in her hometown to recover and regroup, none of the people around her – not a one! – ever suggested that perhaps she might want to reach out to Drew to try and fix things. Later we discovered from Kate’s good friend Delores that everyone in Drew’s life also automatically believed his version of why they split up. Really? So even when Delores knew what Kate believed, and Matthew knew what Drew believed, Delores and Matthew never once compared notes or traded explicit accusations? I was especially surprised that not a single one of the lengthy cast of secondary characters in this story ever took it upon themselves to confront the supposed offender directly. For a brief moment, I hoped Kate’s mother would be the one to put an end to this tortured farce when she threatened to go to New York to yell at Drew herself. But that never happened. It was only pages and pages later that Kate finally relented and asked for Drew, but only after she nearly lost what she wasn’t quite sure she wanted. And it was only then that they finally had the conversation they should have had at the start. Sigh.

Although I understood the ending of TANGLED wasn’t a final Happily Ever After, I did believe I had come to know these two characters, and that perceived knowledge is what made the ill-conceived Big Misunderstanding driving the plot of TWISTED all the more hurtful for me. Because the Drew Evans *I* knew and loved would not have immediately believed the worst of the woman *he* knew and loved, and the Kate Brooks *I* knew and loved would have never given up the love of her life without a fight to the death. All I can do now is treat TWISTED as an aberrant deviation into the darkest timeline, and wait for the final resolution to Drew and Kate’s romance in TIED later this year. I can only hope that it’s more like TANGLED and less like this one. *fingers crossed*

Favorite Quote:

Anyway, now’s about the time I start spouting off some pearls of wisdom.
But given the events of the last year, it’s become increasingly obvious that I don’t know what the f*ck I’m talking about.

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