FREED by E. L. James

July 6, 2021

Fifty Shades of Grey Series, Book 6

Fifty Shades as Told by Christian, Book 3

From the publisher:

An instant #1 New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street Journal, and international bestseller!

Relive the sensuality, the romance, and the drama of Fifty Shades Freed through the thoughts, reflections, and dreams of Christian Grey.

E L James revisits the world of Fifty Shades with a deeper and darker take on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the globe.

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the decade, when Christian Grey will make Anastasia Steele his wife. But is he really husband material? His dad is unsure, his brother wants to organize one helluva bachelor party, and his fiancée won’t vow to obey…

And marriage brings its own challenges. Their passion for each other burns hotter and deeper than ever, but Ana’s defiant spirit continues to stir Christian’s darkest fears and tests his need for control. As old rivalries and resentments endanger them both, one misjudgment threatens to tear them apart.

Can Christian overcome the nightmares of his childhood and the torments of his youth, and save himself? And once he’s discovered the truth of his origins, can he find forgiveness and accept Ana’s unconditional love?

Can Christian finally be freed?


Is this the end of one of the most successful franchises in publishing history? I think James is finally finished with this series (unless she & her “new publisher”* figure out a way to milk it for more.) She did write another book before this one, The Mister, which is not part of the 50 Shades world, which I started but couldn’t get through. I think it did well, sales wise, as her fans are diehard and legion. Even the reviews were kinder than for the Fifty Shades books so I’m not sure why I couldn’t get into it. But this book, Freed, drew me in from the start.

It’s the retelling of the final book in the Fifty Shades series, but you may have noticed that this book seems to belong to two series; the Fifty Shades series and Fifty Shades as Told by Christian series. The last three books were just a rehash of the first three. This was brilliant marketing and the sales proved it. The same story but told from Christian’s perspective, so interesting. Plus it’s been years since I read the earlier books and didn’t remember all the details so who knows how different it really is. I will say if you read Fifty Shades Freed then you know the plot and how it ends, so I’m not even going to go there. This book is a couple hundred pages longer than Fifty Shades Freed, but I’m not sure what the extra is. Oh, and there are rumors that all three of the Christian books were “written” by a computer program but what the hell do I know.

I almost fell off my chair laughing when I saw this:

It reminded me of an experience a co-worker had when the first of the “as Told by Christian” books came out. A library patron came to the desk and wanted to reserve the “Christian Fifty Shades” book. The librarian thought that perhaps someone came out with a cleaned up version or something, partly due to the fact that there was NO NOTICE that this book was even coming out until like a day before it did. It was crazy! Most books are turned in a year or so in advance to get on the publishing calendar, but James had a turnaround in a matter of days. Or so the story goes. It’s not “Christian fiction”, also called Inspirational fiction and is usually a sweet romance with absolutely no sex whatsoever beyond a chaste kiss at the altar; it’s Christian Grey fiction, a huge difference!

What I did like about this book in particular was that we see how strong Ana really is. She may enjoy being controlled in the bedroom, but she is definitely her own woman in real life. Even in the Red Room, she safe-words and stops Christian when she’s had enough. Christian wants to include “obey” in the marriage vows; Ana is not having it. She drives his sportscar with as much finesse as he does, and gets her own for her birthday. She gets pregnant and he doesn’t want the baby; guess whose baby is sleeping in their bed?

I will say this: if you liked the other books in this series, and I did, then you will probably like this one. If you read the first book and thought there is no way you can put up with another smirk or Ana biting her lip, then pass on it. The same repetitiveness that plagues all the books continues here. The writing is still not brilliant; I’m guessing James does what she wants because IT WORKS. Screw the editors and have a good time reading this last chapter.

*Originally, James self published the Fifty Shades books as they were Twilight fan fiction. They were purchased by a small Australian publisher, then Vintage (an imprint of Penguin Random House, the largest publisher in the world) bought the rights and reissued the books with slightly better covers and the tiniest bits of editing they could get away with – not nearly enough. These last 3 “as told by Christian” books are published by Bloom Books, which appears to be James’ own publishing company. So self published again. She probably makes more money that way.

7/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FREED by E. L. James. Bloom Books (June 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-1728251035. 768 pages.

Kindle on sale for $3.99; not sure for how long but your library should have it as well. That’s where I got it.

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HOW NOT TO MESS WITH A MILLIONAIRE by Regina Kyle

June 8, 2021

Mediterranean Millionaires, Book 1

From the publisher:

Interior decorator Zoe Ryan’s life resembles a bad country song. Her boyfriend dumped her, her car died, and she was recently handed a pink slip. What’s a girl to do? Leave everything behind for a bit….in Positano, Italy. And when she gets there, she finds a surprising extra—millionaire restaurateur Dante Sabbatini in the kitchen. In his underwear. Making coffee. It’s suddenly not only hot outside, but exactly what is he doing inside, in her temporary kitchen?

Dante’s plan was to escape to his family’s beach house for some quiet and privacy. What he didn’t know was that his meddling, matchmaking nonna rented the entire house to a sexy stranger at the exact same time as his stay. It took him months to clear his schedule—there’s no way he’s leaving now.

With both refusing to leave, Zoe and Dante agree to be temporary roomies, but secretly aim to try to drive the other out. He plays his music as loud as he wants and will wear as little clothing as possible, and she’ll just go ahead and adopt that pig she fell in love with in town. But suddenly their game of one-upmanship takes a very sexy detour, and they can’t believe what happens next.


Blame it on Fifty Shades of Grey, but so many romances revolve around millionaire/billionaire men. Personally, I find it a bit tiresome, but it worked okay here. Zoe and Dante had chemistry, and that chemistry makes for a very steamy read. Being forced to share living quarters happens often enough in romances, but this is set in Positano, Italy so that immediately made me want to read it. I would have liked more description of the area but this is a very short, very fast read and that would have slowed it down for sure. Just knowing they were on the beach in Italy was enough to get me involved though.

Zoe is an interior designer, and she rents this villa on the beach because she is enamored of the designer who did the home. She lost her job because her boss was basically a turd, stealing her ideas and presenting them as his own, and she decides a month in Italy is just what she needs before looking for a new job.

Dante owns a few very successful restaurants, but he had a traumatic event in his life that he is barely recovering from a year later. He clears his very busy schedule to stay at the beach house, but his nonna (grandma) doesn’t take that into account when she rents it to Zoe. I knew I was going to like this book when Zoe walks in to find a naked Dante coming out of the pool.

Neither one wants to leave, so they start playing a game of who can be a crappier roommate. But eventually they form an alliance, mostly based around a miniature pig, which added a bit of comic relief. This is an erotic romance, and there is explicit sex along with the hearts and flowers. The author is new to me, but she did a really good job with this story. Really my only complaint was the cheesy cover. I look forward to the next book in this series.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HOW NOT TO MESS WITH A MILLIONAIRE by Regina Kyle. Independently published (June 2, 2021). ISBN: 979-8513918646. 230 pages.

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LONG SHOT by Kennedy Ryan

March 20, 2020

LONG SHOT by Kennedy Ryan. Scribechick Media, LLC (March 22, 2018). ISBN 978-1732144309. 460p.

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UNDONE BY YOU by Kate Meador

March 30, 2018

Click to purchase for Kindle

The Chicago Rebels Series, Book 3

I am really enjoying this series – ice hockey, hot sex and terrific romance all work for me. This book, the third in the series, is actually a novella, not as long as the other books. And it sort of runs side by side with book 2, it doesn’t move the time line any further along.

The other big change is this book is a gay romance. The team manager, the very hot Dante Morelli, is the first NHL manager to come out as gay. The team is fine with it, except for one player – there always has to be a jerk on any team. I once had a manager at Borders who kept on this really awful employee for way longer than he should have, he called him our”Germany'” – that bad employee let everyone else on staff band together and form a more cohesive team in the face of a common enemy, so to speak. There is a character here that performs that purpose as well. He is always mouthing off about the gay manager, the Russian player, the women owners of the team, etc. Needless to say, he is not the most popular player on the team.

Dante is new in town, and ends up at a very private, invitation only gay club. To his shock, he sees one of his players there, Cade, the player that he has been crushing on since he moved to Chicago. Nonplussed by seeing Cade, Dante drags him out of the club and Cade is quite happy to go along. He has had a crush on Dante since he was a teenager and Dante was a professional hockey player – he even had his poster hung up in his room. In fact the only reason he was at that club was because he had heard Dante might show up.

Dante realizes that anyone could out Cade, and he wants to have a plan ready for that to minimize any kind of public relations nightmare that could evolve. Meanwhile, there is so much heat between these two that it is apparent where they will end up. But Dante is concerned about the power relationship, he is Cade’s boss after all, not to mention the twelve year age difference.

Dante also had been in a long term relationship with a man who hadn’t come out, and he didn’t want to be in that position again. I have to say I really empathized with Dante. I have a very good friend who, years ago, was in a similar relationship, with a partner that wasn’t out, and it was painful at times. I am very happy to report that he has found love and happiness since.

With all these hurdles, this relationship seems doomed but we all know that true love will always win out and it certainly does here. There is a lot of graphic sex, as there is in all the Meador books I’ve read, and I learned a few things.

Dare I say this is another Meador romance that is so hot the ice can’t cool it off? It really is!

Just a note about the NHL – I know as sure as I’m typing here that there are gay men playing for and managing hockey teams. As far as I know, none of them have been open about it. It just seems silly to me, like Adam Rippon being the first openly gay Olympic skater. Why on earth did it take so long? But what do I know.

3/18  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

UNDONE BY YOU by Kate Meador. Pocket Star (March 5, 2018). ASIN: B074ZRHPGC. 147p.

 

 


DARKER by E. L. James

January 11, 2018

Click to purchase

Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian

The second entry in the Fifty Shades trilogy was my favorite. It is the most like a traditional romance, albeit a contemporary, highly erotic version, so when James released the “Christian” version, I was all in.

This is from the publisher:

E L James revisits the world of Fifty Shades with a deeper and darker take on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the globe.

Their scorching, sensual affair ended in heartbreak and recrimination, but Christian Grey cannot get Anastasia Steele out of his mind, or his blood. Determined to win her back, he tries to suppress his darkest desires and his need for complete control, and to love Ana on her own terms.

But the horrors of his childhood still haunt him, and Ana’s scheming boss, Jack Hyde, clearly wants her for himself.  Can Christian’s confidant and therapist, Dr. Flynn, help him face down his demons? Or will the possessiveness of Elena, his seducer, and the deranged devotion of Leila, his former submissive, drag Christian down into the past?

And if Christian does win Ana back, can a man so dark and damaged ever hope to keep her?

If you’re a fan of the books, you’ll enjoy this one. If you’re not, this won’t change your mind. I enjoyed it.

1/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DARKER by E. L. James.  Vintage (November 28, 2017). ISBN: 978-0385543910. 560p.

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SO OVER YOU by Kate Meador

December 20, 2017

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The Chicago Rebels Series, Book 2

Ice ice baby! The Chicago Rebels are a fictional NHL hockey team whose owner has died. He’s left the team to his three estranged daughters, all from different baby mamas, with the caveat that if the team doesn’t make it to the playoffs, it will be sold off.

Hockey is one of the mysognistic sports for sure, so women owners are a rarity. In this case, Isobel Chase  is the middle sister and the one her father favored. He raised her to play professional women’s hockey, but in her first game she got seriously injured and had to leave the game. She is trying to work her way up to coaching the Rebels, and her first assignment is to work with their new left wing. Vadim Petrov, nicknamed the Czar of Pleasure, not that Isobel would call him that. He was her first lover when they were both teenagers, and she didn’t tell him she was a virgin so it was not a wonderful deflowering.

No one knows about their history until one of the players overhears her conversation about it with her younger sister. He blabs, and the gossip is thick. Meanwhile, the Czar of Pleasure has been in love with Isobel since they were together the first time, not that she knows it and he barely admits it to himself. Nonetheless, they find their way back to each other with a lot of hot sex and some real bumps in the relationship along the way.

Another Meador romance so hot the ice can’t cool it off!

12/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

SO OVER YOU by Kate Meador. Pocket Books (December 19, 2017). ISBN 978-1501180897. 400p.

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SCORED by Sloane Howell

October 20, 2017

Click to purchase this Kindle book

This is another sports romance, this time baseball, with an erotica bent. It’s pretty hot and a lot of fun.

Kelsey works in a record store – vinyl records, and she’s really into music. Her best friends introduce her to Matt, a professional athlete, and while physically she is drawn to him, she can’t imagine them having anything in common.

Matt thinks she’s really cute and unbeknownst to Kelsey, he really loves music. So when he finally asks her out, it’s to a concert at one of his favorite venues. Turns out it’s one of her favorites, too.

Try as she does to fight it, Kelsey and Matt have a lot in common and things really heat up between them. It wouldn’t be a romance without some aggravation along the way, but of course they get their happy ending. This is a fast, fun read, available as an ebook only.

SCORED by Sloane Howell. Loveswept (October 17, 2017). ASIN B01M3TJQA6. 221p.


RUSH by Maya Banks

September 23, 2017

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Breathless Trilogy, Book 1

Because of the bad review I gave Dirty Little Secret, I decided to read another book in that genre just to see if it was me, my mindset, or the book. I’m happy (sort of) to report it was the book. Rush is a fun read.

Another 50 Shades of Grey readalike, this book has main characters that are fairly well defined and feel like actual people more than just stereotypes. No sirs, no pets, but still BDSM in all of its sexy glory. If you like that sort of thing, and I do when it is done well.

Gabe Hamilton has had a major crush on Mia for years, but she’s his best friend’s baby sister, fourteen years his junior. When she was 16, that was a problem but now that she’s 24, it doesn’t seem so insurmountable anymore. When Mia arrives at a work party looking for her brother, he is nowhere to be found but Gabe dances with her and gets her home safely – after ordering her to be in his office the following Monday morning.

He offers her a job as his personal assistant, but there is a catch – he has her sign a contract basically making her his sex slave. She has a major crush on him, so she goes for it but they both decide her brother can’t know anything about that part of their relationship. Of course, all good ideas go asunder, or what would be the point.

This is an erotic romance with the requisite happily ever after and it was a good read. My faith in erotica is now restored.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RUSH by Maya Banks. Berkley; 1 edition (February 5, 2013). ISBN 978-0425267042.  416p.

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DIRTY LITTLE SECRET by Kendall Ryan

September 22, 2017

Click to purchase

Forbidden Desires, Book 1

I don’t read a lot of self-published books, primarily because they generally aren’t edited properly, and this book just reinforces that.

I was stuck at home for several days because of Hurricane Irma, and I had gotten an advance copy and it was on my Kindle so I read it. The best thing I can say about it was it was a quick read.

I didn’t like the characters, I didn’t understand them and they felt entirely two-dimensional to me. The main character is Gavin, who owns an escort service with his brothers, and Emma, a librarian. Of course.  I didn’t even like the sex scenes much, they just felt trite and so done already. Like when the dominant calls the librarian, “Pet.” Yech.

It ends in the middle of the story, the better to get you to buy the next book in the series I suppose, but I didn’t care enough about any of it to look for more.

Ryan has hopped on the 50 Shades of Grey/E.L. James bandwagon, and apparently there just aren’t enough of these books to satisfy demand. To be fair, this book has 4.5 stars on Amazon and other review sites.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DIRTY LITTLE SECRET by Kendall Ryan. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 14, 2017). ISBN 978-1548139148.  354p.

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THE SCANDAL OF IT ALL by Sophie Jordan

August 9, 2017

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 The Rogue Files, Book 2

I know I’ve read at least some of the books in this series, but I don’t remember any of them being this hot. Smoldering hot!

Graciela, the Duchess of Autenberry, is originally from Spain and has been widowed for a long while. The marriage was abusive but for the children’s sake, she has kept alive the fairytale version. The ton never really accepted her as one of their own due to her Spanish background, and her dark, sultry looks don’t help.

When Graciela’s closest friend tells her about a club where she can find a lover, she is tempted. It has been a very long time since her husband died. So she goes, but to her horror, her stepson and his best friend, Lord Strickland, are there.

Mortified, she tries to hide but Strickland finds her. He has always been drawn to her but their relationship and their age difference doesn’t work. Strickland helps her hide from her stepson, but takes advantage of her – until he has her begging for more. They become lovers, despite her reservations about their age difference, but circumstances conspire to leading them down a different path.

I like Sophie Jordan’s books, and if you enjoy historical romances that pretty much cross over to erotica, this is the book for you.

8/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SCANDAL OF IT ALL by Sophie Jordan. Avon (July 25, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062463623. 384p.

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