Darkest Night – Megan Erickson

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Author: Megan Erickson
Series: Wired & Dangerous #2
Pages: 320

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Bodyguard Jock Bosh has one job: keep Fiona Madden safe. Safe from the men who’ve been hunting her. Safe from the bastard responsible for ruining her life. And with the attraction sizzling white-hot between them, that means keeping Fiona safe from him too.

Fiona has spent the past decade on the run. Her survival is the single greatest weapon she’s had against the men out to destroy her. Until Jock. Now, with him by her side, she finally has a chance to bring them down. But when her enemies make their next move and Jock puts himself in the line of fire, Fiona realizes that there’s more at stake than just her life – she’s also risking her heart.

When I finished Zero Hour I was disappointed with the romance part, but very happy with the suspense side of the story. With this second book, the feeling is the opposite. Nice romance, but the rest… kind of meh, actually.

In the last book, Jock volunteered to keep an eye on Fiona due to the threads of Maximus. Fiona was the friend of Wren who was kidnapped 10 years ago to be used as a sex toy by rich men. A throwback party by those same guys put Fiona again in danger, so Jock has to take a more hands on approach for her protection. Both of them are not precisely good at getting close to another person, so their romance is a bit tricky. Add that to inminent threats of kidnap and murder and the plot of the book is presented.

Before diving in the story and characters, I need to point out that these so-called hackers don’t hack shit. Sometimes they look more like hitmen or conmen than hackers. Jock would be the perfect example of the former. I know about his hacking skills thanks to the previous book, because in this one… he is a bodyguard most of the book and a hitman the rest. He is rarely seen in front of a computer… It’s not something bad per se, but I started reading these books due to the hope of reading Romantic Suspense with characters far from the military or law-enforcement lifestyle. I guess I will have to keep looking for something like that. Maybe Jock’s hacking skills are what explain his weird superpower of knowing the genre of the book Fiona was reading in the park. I mean, how could he know if he was spying on her from a fifth floor without using equipment?? (Yes, that is bugging me).

At first the suspense part looked promising. Fiona was again in danger, Jock had to protect her and Maximus’ shadow was getting bigger and bigger. The problem is that it takes too long to develop. And when it does… well… it’s a bit boring and uneventful. In general terms I liked it, but there were enough meat for something with a bigger punch. No surprises, except at the end fo the book. Too late if you ask me. Now a war between the crew and Maximus has started, so I expect more action in the future books.

Luckily, the romance is much better than expected. It’s no secret that I didn’t like at all the romance between Roarke and Wren, so I was a bit reluctant at first. But Jock was there to save the day, the girl and my faith in love. Under his reinforced armor of pure steel (a very, very good-looking, mouth-watering armor…) lays a turmoil of feelings that make the reader sympathize with him pretty easy. Yes, he sometimes behaves like an ox with his monosyllabyc language and his larger than life frame, but deep down you know he is a sensitive guy who is in sore need of a good cuddling. Fiona is the perfect match, because she doesn’t take any of his usual bullshit. Good characters for a nice slow-paced romance that leaves us with a nice aftertaste.

It doesn’t hurt that Jock is a Viking god, detail that the author reminds the reader more often that maybe necessary; but, oh boy, no complaints there. My naughty imaginatiuon was already overworking after taking a long look at the cover. I’m so glad there are not weird photo manipulations to add any kind of tattoo in “Jock’s” skin… The ones in the cover of Zero Hour were a bit… lame.

Next one is a shorter book. If I’m not mistaken, it’s going to be Erick’s book. There is a glimpse of it at the end of this one, so I guess Tarr is going to be the love interest. It could be very fun if handle right, so… fingers crossed!!

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One Man’s Trash – Marie Sexton

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Author: Marie Sexton
Series: The Heretic Doms Club #1

Pages: 343

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After four tours in Afghanistan, Warren Groves couldn’t settle into civilian life. For the last twelve years, he’s survived by working odd and often illegal jobs for some of Denver’s less fortunate. His personal life is equally unsatisfactory. He can barely remember the last time he had sex, let alone the last time he got to use somebody hard and rough, the way he likes. Fate intervenes when a favor for a friend leads him to a pretty young rentboy named Taylor Reynolds.

Taylor’s spent the last few years on his own, working as a hustler, going home with anybody who’ll give him a warm meal and a place to sleep. He enjoys having a bit of force used against him, and he makes Warren an offer he can’t refuse — all the sex he wants, as rough and dirty as he likes, in exchange for room and board.

At first, Warren thinks he’s struck gold. Taylor’s the perfect roommate — he cooks, he cleans, and he’s dynamite in the sack. But Taylor has some dark demons in his head and some even darker cravings. Falling for somebody as volatile as Taylor is dangerous enough, but when Taylor’s urges turn truly self-destructive, it’ll be up to Warren to decide just how far to let things go.

The book is eveything the blurb promises: rough sex, secrets and dark cravings… I thought I could handle it, but it seems I can’t. I’m not a prude (if I were I wouldn’t touch Romance books), but there are several situations in this book thas have rubbed me the wrong way.

But let’s start from the beginning. We meet Warren, a former soldier that spends his days helping other people in barely legal jobs: bodyguard of escorts (a.k.a. prostitutes), muscle for desperate people and many other things. He is lonely and, if you ask me, a bit tired of his life. Then we meet Taylor (or TJ or BJ…), a much younger guy that ran away from his home and became a rentboy. It’s a sex addict that that never says no… Their fates collided and Taylor ended up living with Warren. Free roof and food in exchange of sex.

At least that is how it started. We barely knew them when they were already tearing up each other clothes. The first encounter was pretty impersonal and I was scared that the whole book would be like that. The author spices it up a little bit adding a BDSM element: soft bondage. Warren likes to tie people up to his bed and Taylor doesn’t mind. As a reader, I don’t mind either. The author doesn’t use this to humillate Taylor. It makes the trust between each other grow considerably.

Eveything was starting to look peachy: Warren has a lot of different layers that make him very interesting, the sex is fun, the side stories are enjoyable, Warren’s friends are a pleasure to read… And then it happens: Taylor’s breakdown. I wasn’t epecting it. I’m a guy that enjoys a good shock when reading, but this one left me with a very sour aftertaste. I felt that his cravings were more of a childish behaviour than something dark and serious. Even worse than that: the author has to twist Warren’s behaviour to counteract the crazy tantrum of his roommate… I have to be honest: that made me dislike Taylor.

But the worst was yet to come… The explanation of Taylor’s “bad days” made me sick. It’s not only the incest with his brother when he was still a minor. If that wasn’t enough, the brother was abusive. I guess I should have been able to feel some kind of pity towards Taylor, but his way of dealing with it destroyed any chance of that. He claims he loves him. That no one understands him. He talks as if nothing was wrong. And Warren is nice enough to accept the explanation… I just wanted to scream: “Take him to an expert!! The guy need helps, not a slap on the back!!”. But Taylor’s quest of making me puke wasn’t finish… Do you know what this messed-up guy takes for love? Being urinated by someone who is still inside him during sex… That’s plain gross. And the author talks about it several times… I couldn’t handle it. I was losing my mind yelling at Taylor. My dislike became hatred.

I think I could have ignored Taylor if the side stories were better. I mean, they are good, but so depressing. Were are the happy endings? Susan, Riley… The book feels pessimistic and so unfair that the only one with the happy ending is Taylor… Writing this review I have realized I’m angry at him. He has ruined a nice book about Warren. I actually feel weird after reading the book. Why an emotional story has such a disgusting residue in my memory?

I’m not sure if I will read the second book. The main characters will be different, so I guess it’s safe to assume that I won’t find another Taylor. But I’m honestly scared of picking it up…

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2018 – Book Gallery

Outnumbered – Shay Savage

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Author: Shay Savage
Pages: 383

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I’m not exactly the social type. After spending most of my formative years in prison, I prefer an isolated existence in the wilderness of Canada’s Northwest Territories, making what little cash I need guiding tourists to the best hunting grounds. I have no desire for company; I crave solitude instead, especially during the subarctic winter months, but what am I supposed to do when I come across a woman in distress? I can’t just leave her to die in the cold, and a storm is on the way.

So now we are confined to my secluded cabin, and I quickly realize there’s something not quite right about Seri—or is her name Netti? She switches moods faster than a snowshoe hare changes direction. In fact, I’m starting to think there’s more than one person behind the mystifying woman’s intense, green eyes.

Physically, only two of us are trapped inside the rustic cabin, but I still feel outnumbered.

A very intriguing blurb if you ask me!! I have no problem about reading more conventional Romance, but when something that smells different crosses my path… It gets a bump on my list of pending books. Different doesn’t mean the book is going to be better, but at least the author is trying to push the reader out of their comfort zone. Romance with criminals is kind of new for me, so I had no idea what I could find and what I would think of it. This book hasn’t cleared my doubts about criminals in love, but it hasn’t made it worse.

The book is narrated from the point of view of Bishop, a fugitive that killed his abusive father and is living in a remote cabin in Canada. He has zero social skills and uses his isolation as a shield against human interaction. But the winter is coming and it is pretty hard up there; so when Bishop finds a woman almost unconscious near his place, he has no other option but to take her with him. That woman is Seri, a mysterious lady who is obviously running from something or someone. Due to the heavy storm, both of them have to tolerate each other in the small cabin that Bishop calls home.

The author is capable of hooking the reader pretty fast with the several personalities of Seri. Everyone of them with a different name. Seri is the happy, good girl. Iris is the bad-girl and foul-mouthed one. Netti is the calm and cold that mediates between them. The catch: Seri doens’t know about the other ones. Add that to Bishop’s ineptitude with other human beings and you will have an ejoyable situation where the reader has to unravel Seri’s mystery at the same time Bishop does. And that is the strongest part of this book. Sadly, during several chapters that situation is stuck in a loop that makes those chapters plain boring. The book would have been much better removing them and the reader wouldn’t have lost absolutely anything.

I guess this book is not for everyone. The main character is an unrepentant murderer that is haunted by violence every single day of his life. Bishop keeps imagining the death of everyone that surrounds him, so it can’t be hard to like him when he would obviously hate us. It’s a character that represents some dark corners of the human species, which could easily make the reader not root for him. Shay, keeping that in mind, works extra-hard to make him likeable when he is with Seri. At the end, you don’t feel he is an ex-con… just a weird guy with poor social skills. And the cat, Solo, helps a lot to bring out the best parts of Bishop’s soul.

I’m not going to comment about how the whole deal with Seri’s personalities has been treated. I have zero experience with that kind of mental disorders. I trust the author, who has a degree degree in psychology, has treated the situation fairly. But I must be honest and say that sometimes I thought I was reading some Paranormal Book… but that is problably just my ignorance.

And I can’t finish this without complaining about the smoking… I hate when Bishop smokes. As simple as that. It makes the book so much worse… I couldn’t stop imagining the horrible smell in such a small cabin… Disgusting!!

Overall, the book is very nice. Too slow, though. And the end… it doesn’t feel like an end. I hope everyting remains fine for them, but there are too many unknowns in their lives…

 

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