MASTERED by Maya Banks

December 29, 2015
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The Enforcers #1

Evangeline is struggling to make ends meet. When her first serious boyfriend dumps her, her friends arrange for her to get all dressed up and go to a fancy club on a VIP pass. The bouncer doesn’t want to let her in but has no choice, and of course she runs smack into the ex, who treats her abominably. Some of the staff come to her rescue.

Drake Donovan keeps an eye on his establishment via security cameras, sees the fracas and is immediately entranced with Evangeline. He asks his bouncers to bring her upstairs to him and one thing leads to another, and Drake falls hard for his “Angel.”

Drake is a dominant and introduces Evangeline to the lifestyle very slowly. He buys her extravagant gifts and helps her family out, and she falls in love with him. Until the night he brings some business associates home…and Evangeline disobeys him, leading to a shocking ending.

The next book in the trilogy, Dominated, doesn’t comes out until May and hopefully will resolve the cliffhanger. Maya Banks’ fans (and Fifty Shades fans) will love this.

12/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MASTERED by Maya Banks. Berkley (December 29, 2015). ISBN 978-0425280652. 368p.

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FAN THE FLAMES by Michele Dunaway

October 17, 2015
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Scarlett Harrison is widowed when her husband, Todd, a member of Seal Team 6, gets killed saving his men. His best friend, Brad Silverman, didn’t re-up with Todd and is feeling survivor’s guilt. To make things worse, Todd left instructions with Brad to take care of his wife. The guilt keeps coming though – Brad has been in love with Scarlett since high school.

Scarlett and her daughter move back to St. Louis when Brad offers her his house rent-free. She needs the help to get back on her feet. Slowly they form a friendship and then much more.

The characters were engaging and the story compelling. This is a contemporary romance/erotica and is a quick read. eBook only.

 

10/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FAN THE FLAMES by Michele Dunaway. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (August 18, 2015) ASIN: B00WRESJ6O. Print Length: 180 pages

 


GREY by E.L. James

July 24, 2015
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Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian

The announcement of this new book, a mere 18 days prior to publication, took the publishing world by storm, and that includes bookstores and libraries. I had gotten an email early in the morning so I was aware, but when I got to work a co-worker told me she had been asked for the “Christian Fifty Shades” and thought there was, somehow, a religious version of the book out there! A quick internet search revealed the new book, but that sure was a fun way to learn about it.

I read the Fifty Shades trilogy back in 2012 (and reviewed here) and these were my final thoughts…and they still hold true for Grey. The appeal of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (and now just a series, I guess) lies with the characters and their great love affair. We can’t help but root for the insecure girl who lands the gorgeous rich guy, and the damaged man she brings out of the dark.

Ana and Christian save each other, inspire each other so that their sum together is greater than their parts. Their torrid love affair, the “mommy porn” aspect is candy to some, inflaming imaginations and libidos, while others will fly past those pages. Nonetheless, Ana and her 50 Shades bring to mind other great loves in literature like Romeo and Juliet, and Scarlett and Rhett, with apologies to Shakespeare and Mitchell. Most romance readers are looking for that, and those that don’t usually read romance are perhaps surprised at how they are swept away with Ana and Christian, enough to overlook the abysmal writing, the lip biting, the smirking. I know I was.

All that said, I got the feeling that James wrote Grey by pulling up the manuscript of the original, and changing the “she thought” to “he thought” and adding in a bit more of Christian’s background. But the writing seemed much better to me, not nearly so repetitive and deplete of those awful series of superlatives and multiple mentions of Ana’s “inner goddess.” So I’m thinking Random House got to put a strong editor on this since it hadn’t been previously self-published.

I liked seeing Christian’s point of view. The character development was better, the story was better if somehow still the same, and I am glad I read it. It probably helped that there were three years between books. Whatever her faults, E.L. James created a hot romance with lots of sizzling kinky sex, and that was all still there. It isn’t nearly as shocking, unless you haven’t read the other books, I guess. If you’re a fan of the series, enjoy. If you haven’t read them, this is a good place to start. And don’t get me started on the movie! (Love to hear your comments about any of this.)

7/15 Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch

GREY: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian by E.L. James. Vintage (June 18, 2015).  ISBN 978-1101946343. 576p.

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FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L. James

August 15, 2012

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L. James

I’m a librarian. I’ve been reviewing books, popular fiction mostly, for fifteen years. This is the book that everyone is talking about and I simply had to read it. It’s been front page news, literally, of the Sun Sentinel and countless other papers. Worthy of a fabulous, filthy skit on Saturday Night Live. Numerous TV interviews. Over 500 people (mostly women) showed up at one of her first book signings in the U.S. at Books & Books in Miami. E.L. James is the ‘it’ girl of the year. Why?

After reading this, the first book in the trilogy, I’m still not sure. Yes, I can agree with all the reports (including the author’s own admission on the Today Show) that it is poorly written. It is annoyingly repetitive, cliché-ridden, and smarmy more often than not, yet somehow it’s also completely captivating. The story is as old as time; fresh faced innocent college girl meets gorgeous powerful “older” (he’s 27, my son’s age!) billionaire with some added kink thrown in. Call it “Intro to BDSM” or Bondage Light. I wouldn’t classify this as romance in the strictest sense of the word as there are no wedding bells at the end of the book, but it is definitely erotica. And not very good erotica. Yet somehow it works and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It ends with a cliffhanger, forcing me to pick up Fifty Shades Darker. Stay tuned for that review…

FIFTY SHADES DARKER by E.L. James: Book Two in the trilogy of the year starts off where the first book ends. Christian and Ana are going through hell being apart. No worries, Christian works his way back to Ana, and she to him. Ana grows up a bit in this book, learns to be a bit more assertive and less intimidated by her domineering billionaire Christian. There are some subplots but the point of this book is, like the first book, all about sex. It is as poorly written as the first book, with frowns, lip biting, and smirks on every page, but there is no denying the heat between these two. It is an easy read, an easy book to skim if that is your wont, and still an engrossing story. See my review of the final book, Fifty Shades Freed, for more thoughts on this series.

FIFTY SHADES FREED by E.L. James: It’s hard to summarize these books without giving away the major plot points, and there is little point in reading them if you know what is going to happen. That said, as a trilogy, these books form a complete story arc. The length is due to all the sex, which is occasionally quite erotic, but more often than not, just repetitive. The glimmer of dominance and submission, bondage and discipline is fun and apparently quite fascinating to most readers. If you want more information, legitimate information, on the subject, I highly recommend Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon. If you just want titillation, stick with 50 Shades or for the real down and dirty, the Sleeping Beauty series by A. N. Roquelaure (also known as Anne Rice,) or the Story of O by Pauline Reage. The difference is that it is probably easier to identify with Ana than O for most women because the love story there goes both ways, while that is not clear in O’s case.

Final thoughts…the appeal of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy lies with the characters and their great love affair. We can’t help but root for the insecure girl who lands the gorgeous rich guy, and the damaged man brought out of the dark by her. Ana and Christian save each other, inspire each other so that their sum together is greater than their parts. Their torrid love affair, the “mommy porn” aspect is candy to some, inflaming imaginations and libidos, while others will fly past those pages. Nonetheless, Ana and her 50 Shades bring to mind other great loves in literature like Romeo and Juliet, and Scarlett and Rhett, with apologies to Shakespeare and Mitchell. Most romance readers are looking for that, and those that don’t usually read romance are perhaps surprised at how they are swept away with Ana and Christian, enough to overlook the abysmal writing, the lip biting, the smirking. I know I was. KINDLE

6/12 Stacy Alesi

Erotica
Romance
Women’s fiction
Book Discussion