Tag Archives: New Adult romance

Throttle Me by Chelle Bliss

It was free.

It was sexist.

The title is an actual request from the heroine.

If a man I was involved with told me not to “worry my pretty little head”, odds are very strong that I would worry his eye with my pretty little finger.

From Amazon: Suzy’s a control freak and has her life mapped out – work hard, find a man with a stable job, and live happily ever after. She’s content with the status quo, but her plan comes to a screeching halt when he enters her life and turns it upside down. City gave up on love when his heart was crushed in college, preferring to be the typical bachelor. He spends his nights hopping from one bed to another and his days working at his family tattoo shop, Inked. A chance encounter on a dark road makes him question what he had sworn off forever – a relationship.

Honestly, I think Chelle Bliss lost me at a hero who goes by the nickname “City” though his real name is Joey (not even Joe). He’s designed for the tattooed-pierced-biker-aggressive-tough guy-rough guy-secret pussycat-who-would-kill-for-me loving crowd and I am not among them. The story is very much a Good Girl falls in with a Bad Boy she thinks is dangerous and unstable, but turns out to be everything she needed. It’s not a trope I mind, though the hero was so over-the-top I found him ridiculous, but what really put me off was the love scenes. I don’t know where this moves from simply personal predilections versus squick, but this is the first time I’ve read a romance in which the hero says things like, “I can’t decide which part of your body to assault first” and thinks similar sentiments. There was a line being crossed into rough that distressed me because, while I appreciate that some books cater to a desire for such moments, it makes me uncomfortable that the hero liked the idea of assaulting or abusing the heroine. Moreover, the title, Throttle Me, is an actual request made by Suzy of City. They do not portray the act, but keep it to a phone interaction, but I was SUPER CREEPED OUT by City getting off on the idea of Suzy being unable to breathe and scrabbling her hands against his chest while he “assaults”, “pounds”, and chokes her. ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!

It turns out he’s rich, of course, because apparently middle class biker guy fantasies can only take you so far.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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The Game On Series: The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan

The Game Plan is the third novel in the Game On series about football players and the women that climb them. I loved this new adult romance. I LOVED IT even after getting annoyed with the author, Kristen Callihan, about her The Pig Becomes a Person plot in The Friend Zone.  I loved it so much that it started as a loan from a good friend and I went ahead and bought myself a copy that I have since re-read.

Fiona Mackenzie’s father and sister are sports agents. She has grown up around professional athletes, most particularly football players, and she wants nothing to do with them. Avoidance is a challenge as her sister is married to one and run-ins are inevitable.  Visiting said sister, Ivy, brother-in-law, Gray, and her new nephew, Fi finds another house-guest keeping company with her family. A close friend of Gray’s, Ethan Dexter is large, stoic, sweet, bearded, tall, artistic, gentle, lumbersexual… I need a moment…

 

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Good golly! Smokin’ hot hero alert!

…so Ethan is a close friend of the family and fellow football player with Fi’s brother-in-law. He adores Fi. He’s besotted and has been for a couple of years. (I never get tired of the “I have loved you from afar” trope.) He’s large, she’s tiny. He’s quiet, she’s “noise, noise, noise”. Taking a chance to get her attention, Ethan gains her interest, but their lives in different cities create obstacles, but that’s not the true challenge they face.Things go truly awry when a bounty is placed on Ethan’s virginity and Fi is caught in the resulting circus. This crisis allows The Game Plan to take on issues of sexual experience and consent in a way that will have you cheering in between bouts of fanning yourself over Ethan’s manifest hotness.

A truly enjoyable romance, The Game Plan is the best book by Callihan I have read so far and I expect I will read more; moreover, she should get a special award for how well she writes couple’s arguments. She’s very good with the smolder, too, but her fights are wonderfully realistic and intense.

More New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Ivy Years Series: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

The final book in Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Series is a bit of a head scratcher and one in which the author’s intent seemed clear, but I don’t think she managed the very delicate balancing act she had decided to undertake, but first let me praise the other five books in the Ivy Years series and emphatically recommend buying all of them immediately:

  1. The Year We Fell Down – BAM! This book got me right in the feels.
  2. The Year We Hid Away – That’s a lot for two such young people to have going on.
  3. Blonde Date novella – Perfect novella: Short, sweet, adorable, and added to my classics list.
  4. The Understatement of the Year – Surrender. Lying to yourself is exhausting.
  5. The Shameless Hour – “You don’t get to tell me who I am.”

As to The Fifteenth Minute, let me sum up my response with a picture of a word and its synonyms:

ambivalent

Lianne Challice is a child star whose fame comes from an ongoing series of movies about a character called Princess Vindi. Striking out on her own and trying to grow up by attending an Ivy League school, she first appeared in The Shameless Hour and I was happy to learn she was getting her own book. Happier still was I when I started reading and it was mentioned that Lianne, who is no bigger than a minute, would have logically proportioned beloved in DJ Trevi, who I took to be of average male height. Great start. Lianne wants her independence and to grow as an adult in her career, DJ just wants that false date rape accusation to go away.

Were you able to spot where the ambivalence came in? Are you, like me, AMAZED at the ovaries on Sarina Bowen for taking up a false rape accusation plot after dealing so beautifully with slut-shaming in the previous novels? I mean DJ’s not guilty, right? Sometimes, the guys aren’t guilty, right? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? I don’t care if he’s not guilty, or that he’s a nice guy. I don’t care because I spent the ENTIRE book wondering what on earth Bowen’s intention was. Was it to spotlight the relentlessly inept way that accusations of sexual assault are handled on university and college campuses? Was it? Because, to me, it was all about how much some people claim that women make false sexual assault accusations, although the statistics on reported rapes tell a very different story, and this was an entire subplot about that very thing.

I didn’t even mind DJ. He had wrestled with the accusation and was keeping himself sane by clinging to what he knew to be true.  It was the center of his existence and he was persevering until he got his day in college court. Lianne continued to delight. They had great chemistry and made sense as a couple. Too bad I couldn’t pay attention to that part because having a story line in which a young, vulnerable woman makes false accusations to preserve her reputation is EXACTLY THE THING WOMEN ARE OFTEN ACCUSED OF and we don’t really need a book reinforcing that notion, least of all in a genre written almost exclusively by and for women. All those poor helpless guys who just thought they were getting their rocks off and then some witch turned around and accused him of a horrible crime because she was embarrassed. Why, Sarina Bowen, why?

Sarina Bowen’s catalogue can be found here. Bowen has also co-written two very enjoyable and steamy M/M romances with Elle Kennedy called Him and Us. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Dog Tags by Darryl Banner & Two Week Seduction by Kathy Lyons

Dog Tags and Two Week Seduction each have the word Brazen in their publishing series name, so the reader should know what is about to happen. These romances feature young couples who knew each other as schoolchildren finding out there is more to their relationship when one of them returns home on leave from the military. The forced brevity of their time together, four and two weeks respectively, means they get busy quickly and commitment soon follows.

Dog Tags by Darryl Banner

Jesse is a music major plodding through his summer vacation when his neighbour Brandon arrives home for a month’s leave. Always leery of the taciturn and intense boy-next-door, Jesse is nonetheless immediately drawn to Brandon’s beautiful physique. When trading help with yard work for piano lessons, the men hook up and then spend their four weeks together getting it on and getting to know each other. The novella portrays mostly the former and essentially skips the latter.

Dog Tags is the first romance with two men I have read that was actually written by a man which was something I was looking for specifically. I have an impression that a lot of the M/M romances are written by and for women just as the M/F ones are. The writing here was nothing especially bad or good, it got the job done and had some nice moments, though there was very little by way of conversation between the leads. Brandon’s main purpose seemed to be to grunt and be intense while Jesse enjoyed it. Their four weeks end with Brandon returning to his work while the two of them await his next leave.

Two Week Seduction by Kathy Lyons

John O’Donnell has come home to his family for two weeks of reminders of why he left. He needs to help out his mother with her finances and living situation, and maybe have a little fun. When his well-to-do best friend’s little sister shows up looking even more tantalizing than ever, they hook up and things proceed from there. As with Dog Tags, they get busy early and often, building their desire for something more.

Two Week Seduction did its job adequately. John and Alea fall madly in love and rearrange their lives to be together. Alea comes from wealth and is wrestling with her family’s goals for her. John has no plans to leave the military, but reconsiders for her. The sexy elements felt a little forced and I never really cared about the characters as the plot and its elements felt clichéd in their execution.

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Alphabet Game by Andie M. Long

If it hadn’t been free, I would be so annoyed right now.

For the long plot summary of The Alphabet Game go to Amazon. Take your time, it’s a lot.

I will do my best to provide a short summary:

a. The love story is of the erotic romance ilk meaning that first comes sex then comes emotion. The protagonists decide to play a game (more on why below) in which they participate in some kind of congress based on proceeding through the alphabet, i.e. A is for Arousal, N is for Nookie, etc. When you read part b. of this section the answer to “Why did I finish this book?” is that I had to know what each of the letters stood for. I *may* have skipped ahead through the letters in my quest for all 26.

b. Stella and Gabe are also together because they are trying to take down her evil stepfather and his father who have business ties to sex clubs and pornography. Ostensibly, the alphabet game is to prepare Stella to infiltrate the clubs. When it looks like her father might not be quite the villain she supposed, Stella brings in a P.I. as well. From there, it descends into blackmail and psychopathology.

Seriously, that was the short version.

Here is a genuinely short version of my opinion: This book was really bad and the juxtaposition between the melodrama, the sexual adventures, and the nature of the villain was ridiculous.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy who have each published good new adult romances, collaborated on a new one called Him that manages to be enjoyable, well-written, and

blanche

To be honest the

may have overshadowed the story a bit, but I can’t decide how much I mind.

Jamie Canning and Ryan (Wes) Wesley were best friends from the age of thirteen to eighteen after meeting at an elite hockey camp in Lake Placid. One night that last year, things got a little out of hand after a night of drinking and their friendship imploded. Canning never understood what had gone wrong to make Wes cut him out of his life. Four years later, after they meet again at a college hockey tournament, Wes tries to rekindle the lost friendship and ignore the fact that he has always loved Jamie, but good luck with that, Wes. For his part, Jamie has some unexpected feelings for Wes that he decides he needs to explore. They take summer jobs coaching at the hockey camp where they first met.

Jamie and Wes are both amiable, engaging characters, but they could have been more fleshed out.  Wes in particular is presented as a fun, insouciant guy, but this characterization is not followed up on. Jamie is simply a nice, grounded person from a good family. He’s really likeable, but it doesn’t make for much excitement,  but there was some compensating excitement for the reader. Having read a few romances featuring two men, I was really happy that neither of heroes was struggling with his sexuality. Often, like, almost always, there’s a moment of, “I’M GAY and I WANT to WHAT my FRIEND?!” and Him nicely sidesteps it and throws in a couple more clever little twists on standard tropes as well. Ultimately, the challenges Jamie and Wes face are of location and striking the right balance between with their new professional and personal post-college lives.

There is a second book with Wes and Jamie called Us.

Sarina Bowen’s The Ivy Years Series – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, buy the box set

Elle Kennedy:
The Deal – great
The Mistake – pretty good
The Score – no

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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Tall, Tatted, and Tempting and Smart, Sexy, and Secretive by Tammy Falkner

Um. Almost? The first book in the Reed Brothers new adult romance series got me to buy the second, but I did not continue to the third. For those who like the type, the men in this family own a tattoo parlor and aren’t afraid of working out. They decorate people by day and work as bar bouncers by night.

This review will show a blatant disregard for spoiler etiquette.

Tall, Tatted, and Tempting

Kit (real name: Emily) is a subway busker in New York. Living in a homeless shelter, she meets Logan (again with the Logan) and he takes an instant shine to her. Missing her chance for a bed that night, she ends up crashing at his house with his 4 brothers first for just the one night and then staying for several more. As a thank you, she ingratiates herself by snow-whiting her way through their apartment. Logan and Kit fall for each other, she has a secret, and love wins, but at a distance thus requiring a follow-up novella.

One of five orphaned brothers living and running a business together, Logan has been deaf since the age of 13, but can speak, although he has refused to for years. Meeting Kit, he decides to start speaking when he realises that she is illiterate and can’t read the notes he would otherwise write. Kit is the runaway daughter of billionaires who think she is stupid because of a learning disability. Her father is insisting she marry a loathsome douchecanoe to help the family business hence Kit’s life on the lam.

Living under an assumed name lest her parents find her and drag her to the altar, Kit is unable to spend her family’s money, which, if I may? Fu*k off. First of all, an arranged marriage for business interests in 2014? No. Secondly, a wealthy young woman who is not a victim of abuse choosing to live on the streets is offensive to those fleeing abuse and impoverished people everywhere, especially given the epic turnaround her parents make in the story. Third, all that money and NO ONE could either help Kit with her learning disability or has given her any kind of support or counseling to deal with it? I don’t buy that for a second. Isn’t that what money is for? To throw at problems?  Despite Kit’s “challenges”, readers need not to worry as she’s a musical prodigy who plays guitar and sings. Her dreams are to win her father over and to attend Julliard – which is where she lands in book two and gives a performance to impress her father (OF COURSE) and leads me to one last question: I get that there are books on tape for her course work, but would someone with severe dyslexia be able to read music?

Kit and Logan’s family issues get in the way of their togetherness for a while. Kit sacrifices herself for Logan, a favour he returns in the next book, and they are on opposite coasts, but a couple, when the story closes with a reunion in sight.

Smart, Sexy, and Secretive

Facile, obvious, and trite.

The novella was shoehorned in for reasons I don’t understand, other than the cliffhanger at the end of book one trying to generate revenue.  The reader does get to meet the Kit’s parents, the aforementioned loathsome douchecanoe fiance who lives up to the hype, and several implausible things happen.

Follow up Reed Brothers stories are teased for The Brother with a Child, The Brother Who Wound Up in Jail, The Other Brother About Whom I Don’t Remember Much, and The Brother with Cancer, but I wasn’t really interested beyond Logan and Kit, and even that interest waned by the end of book two, so imagine how I feel about the rest of the series.

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.