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.Crosstown Crush
by Cara McKenna Also by this author: Downtown Devil
, Brutal Game
, Midtown Masters Published by Penguin
on September 1st 2015 Genres: Contemporary
, Erotic Romance
, Urban Pages:
The first in a new series from the “wicked-hot”* author of Hard Time and Give It All explores the fantasies of a daring married couple—and those of a stranger invited to play along in their scandalous little games… When he’s working, Mike Heyer is all business—every inch the alpha male, with the hard, capable body to back up his persona. But at home he can be a different man entirely, harboring appetites only his wife gets to glimpse…When Samira first learned of her husband’s fantasies, she was reluctant, even alarmed. But after witnessing the way they set him on fire, she yielded, and happily indulged. As their games have intensified, so has the rush. And now so has the risk—they’re poised to take Mike’s indecent desires to the next level, by opening their bed to a sexy, brazen stranger. A man seeming custom-made to grant every last one of Mike and Samira’s sinful wishes.Welcoming someone new into their lives was always a dangerous proposition, but the couple imagined if anything was at stake, it was their privacy…not their hearts. *New York Times Bestselling Author Jaci Burton
One of the things I love best about Cara McKenna’s books is that she is never afraid to tackle subjects that others might tend to shy away from, and always manages to provide insight along with a riveting read. CROSSTOWN CRUSH is no exception, as it tells the story of a married couple trying to embrace the husband’s cuckold fetish without endangering what they already have together.
Samira and Mike agreed when they were married that they would remain child-free so that the focus of their marriage would stay only on each other. When Samira discovered Mike’s deep desire to believe she was sexually betraying him, it nearly split them up. Now that she’s accepted his need, the next logical step is making the fantasy a reality. But when they find the perfect man to be their third, reality is more than any of the three of them are ready to handle.
The idea that a truly loving husband would find sexual satisfaction in his wife’s infidelity is not a mainstream kink (if such a thing exists) and reading about it is obviously not for everyone. Yet I thought CROSSTOWN CRUSH handled this touchy subject with respect and acceptance for its characters. The love between Samira and Mike is absolute, and what they do for each other made that obvious for me even when it seemed their relationship might not survive. And while the man they choose to bring into their lives might seem too perfect at first, he’s just as much a fully realized person as they are, with real feelings and conflicted emotions. As the three of them dare to embrace their shared need, we aren’t pushed to judge them for what they’ve done and how they handle it – only to observe their actions and understand their motivations as best we can.
If there’s any criticism I have with CROSSTOWN CRUSH, it’s that we didn’t get more of what happened between them from just after the moment of crisis to the Happy For Now epilogue. I would have loved reading several more chapters to see how they got from there to here. Without that, it made sense to me that there wouldn’t be a full-fledged HEA, simply because there wasn’t enough there to support one that soon. I’m still hoping that we’ll get more of Mike and Samira and Bern in a future story, even if it’s just a sentence in passing to let us know they’re still together and happy. But even if we don’t, I still recommend CROSSTOWN CRUSH for anyone ready to dramatically expand their notions about sex, love, and fidelity.
Taking it All by Maya Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.
This book contains spoilers for LETTING GO and GIVING IN, the first two books in the Surrender trilogy. You might be able to read TAKING IT ALL as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Finally, after all the buildup in the first two Surrender trilogy books, we get Chessy and Tate’s story here in TAKING IT ALL. After Carson Breckenridge died too soon in a tragic car accident, it was more than a year before both his widow Josslyn and his sister Kylie were able to find love and happiness with the two men who were already present in their lives. Now that all their good friends are settled and happy, it’s the already-married Tate and Chessy who are forced to confront their own growing isolation from each other, one that threatens to end their marriage if something isn’t done soon.
Tate and Chessy had always been one of the golden couples in their immediate group of friends and family, even as everyone was still in mourning for the loss of Carson. But Tate has been spending too many nights and weekends trying to build up his business and it’s Chessy who has paid the price. She’s put on a brave face for him and everyone else, not wanting to seem ungrateful for all his hard work even as she dies a little more inside each day. It’s only when they make arrangements for a rare night out alone together to celebrate their wedding anniversary that everything comes to a head. When Chessy spells out to Tate exactly why she is so angry with him, he seems to get the message and immediately starts trying to mend the breach before it becomes irreparable. Yet it will still take one more mind-boggling mistake on Tate’s part before he realizes exactly how much he’s failed Chessy, and what he must to do prove himself worthy as both her husband and Dominant once more.
TAKING IT ALL was the perfect mix of nearly everything I love: marriage in trouble, a D/s couple in love, and the steady hand of Maya Banks to make sure it all played out exactly as it should. Add to that another appearance of Damon Roche, my all-time favorite Maya Banks character, and it’s no surprise that I loved this book so much. Chessy suffered silently for much too long, hoping every day that the man to whom she had given her love and submission would come to his senses and return to her. Tate was genuinely clueless about how much he’d been hurting his wife as he believed he was helping them both by devoting every waking hour to running his company. Even when their initial showdown appeared to have set things right, it was clear that their reconciliation was a tenuous one, and I was just as worried as Chessy that Tate could slip up again. When he did so at the absolutely worst possible moment, I knew that a hero screw-up of this magnitude demanded an equally epic hero grovel, and Maya Banks did not disappoint. This realistic portrayal of a loving D/s couple’s painful falling out and hard-won reconciliation was the heart and soul of TAKING IT ALL, and it’s what made this final book in the uniformly excellent Surrender trilogy the very best one of them all.
Sensuality level: 4
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Arrest by June Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.
This review may contain spoilers for DISARM, the first book in this series. You should not try to read ARREST as a standalone, as it assumes you are already familiar with events of the previous book that are not always fully explained in this one.
I enjoyed reading June Gray’s DISARM romance novelettes after they were released as a full length book back in 2013, so when that book was acquired by a major publisher, I was happy that there would be two more books in the series. ARREST picks up where DISARM left off, with Henry and Elsie newly married and embarking on the rest of their Happily Ever After together. But just because they got past all their previous obstacles doesn’t mean that there aren’t new ones now that they are finally married. The primary source of their problems now is Henry’s new career as a law enforcement officer. It was bad enough when he was still in the US military and being sent into a war zone for months on end. Now Elsie has to worry about him every day and night, forever dreading a future where he doesn’t come home safely at the end of his scheduled shift. Their shared adjustment to this new reality, combined with his reaction to Elsie’s independent career as a web designer and the usual dips and bumps that happen in a marriage, constantly threaten their happiness even as they both know that they could never survive away from each other. The story of ARREST is how each crisis in Henry and Elsie’s marriage ultimately makes them stronger together, and better able to deal with whatever life throws at them next. But the journey isn’t easy and when Henry begins to rely on his old destructive coping mechanisms, it will take both of them working as hard as they can to get to the true happy ending they’d thought they already had on their wedding day.
As much as I enjoyed the previous book, the way Henry was always retreating from Elsie when he was upset did get to be tiring after a while, so I was worried that I might not be as sympathetic to him when all the new bad things started happening to them both in ARREST. However, I was quite happy to be proven wrong in my concern, as it appeared that Henry has indeed grown emotionally since then. The love he and Elsie have for each other is never questioned, and it never wavers. But as they and we already learned before, love isn’t enough to keep them together if they can’t communicate and compromise, and in ARREST, Henry and Elsie must both relearn those painful lessons if they’re going to stay married and happy together.
ARREST also has the advantage of hanging together better as an complete story from the start, as opposed to the previous title. We are shown once again how their past continues to affect their present, but also how they are aware of how easily they could fall back into a vicious cycle of hurting each other, however inadvertently. Being able to see Henry and Elsie take real steps toward a fully reciprocal relationship made reading through all their pain and sadness worth it for the true happy ending awaiting them both. ARREST is an excellent example of how the “marriage in trouble” trope can be realistic without being too depressing. But I’m relieved that the next story in the series will be about someone else, so I can be content in the knowledge that Elsie and Henry have finally earned their HEA and won’t have to suffer any longer.
Sensuality level: 3.5
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