PROVOKED by Riley Murphy
Copyright: May 2015
Publisher: Renegade Publishing
Series: Make Me, #1
Source: Bought from Amazon
When a museum executive secretary, who barely tolerates men, has a run in with an infamous BDSM Master, Neil Cannon, a man who lives to discipline women, there’s little she can do about it. Why?
The Master thinks Charlotte, a.k.a Charlie is her kink-loving, totally outrageous, and continually stirring-up-trouble twin sister. And after what Charlie just did, he has to keep thinking that. At least until she can find a way to climb out of the huge mess her well-meaning intentions have landed her in. She’ll take the punishments the Master intends for her twin. She’ll even put up with him and his misogynistic antics if it means she’ll be able to unlock the secrets that will save her family. All she has to do is behave like her sister. How hard could it be to emulate a fearless, over-confident, rebellious woman, with highly questionable sexual standards?
Neil’s been waiting months for the chance to deal with this audacious sub who’s been jacking up the testosterone levels of his vanilla crew whenever her sports car needed maintenance. That’s why he made the service call himself. He’s confident she won’t be yanking his chain, because if she tries he’s prepared to yank it right back.
Or so he thought until she turns out to be different than what he expected her to be. She starts pushing buttons he didn’t know he had. She’s flipping internal switches, lighting things up, creating a whole new level of dominant need he’s determined to explore, enjoy, and satisfy.
Unfortunately, before either of them can get a handle on the D/s chemistry exploding between them, she takes off. It’s then he discovers that she’s invited a part of his past, that he’s promised to steer clear of, right to his front door.
Now, in order to keep her safe, he must find her, and when he does he has to keep her close. Too close for either one of them to escape the inevitable truth.
“Sometimes the best pleasures in life are found at the end of a person’s comfort zone,” whispered the Master to the one woman he’s dead set on collaring…
This was my first time reading Riley Murphy. I actually bought PUSHED first then realized there was a book before it so I decided to start that one.
Cat & Charlie are twins. Identical twins. Only thing different is that Charlie got a tattoo of a dove on her *ss in college because Cat was experiencing the college life with guys but telling them that her name was Charlie. To make it stop, Charlie got a tattoo because Cat has a fear of needles and would never get one.
The story starts off with Charlie taking/stealing money and some artifact from a guy she drugged who is now looking for her. At the same time, Cat has issues with the owner of the BDSM club she goes to so perfect solution, in their minds, is that they switch places. Charlie will go to the BDSM club and take Cat’s punishment, which is to stay in the “hole” for a few days so she doesn’t get kicked out of the BDSM club. In return, Cat would stay at Charlie’s house until things calmed down and then they’d get things back to normal.
I will say the book did start out interesting. The whole mistaken identity trope is actually one of my favorites in books. So Charlie meets Master Cannon as “Cat” and knowing how Cat is, is rude and snarky to him. Neil doesn’t take too kindly to being talked to like that so decides “Cat” needs to be taken into hand and given lessons on how subs really act. Things are just getting good, because it turns out, Charlie, who has never been in a D/s relationship took to her first couple lessons like a duck to water but when they’re interrupted, she ended up leaving with Cat. Before Neil realized there were actually two of them.
The money stolen by Charlie was because her mother was ill and was in desperate need of surgery. Charlie and Cat head home, find there’s a whole family secret neither knew about and Neil tracks them down there and realizes there are two Cats. Truth comes out, Charlie wants to continue with the lessons and he tells her no and gives her reasons why.
This is where the book took a turn for me. Charlie became TSTL in some scenes. She gave off a desperate vibe because she kept going after Neil and he would tell her she needed to apologize and she’d give excuse after excuse with no real apology. At that point, I didn’t really care if they had their HEA or not.
In the meantime, Neil and Jude were trying to bring down the baddie and find the big family secret that involved Charlie and her family. Charlie and Cat end up finding a paper with the exact location of where they were headed and decided to go there with Charlie’s assistant. Of course they run into obstacles and again come off as TSTL. At one point, Neil tells Charlie he’s disappointed in her. Next scene is of Charlie jumping into the water to save a girl and when Neil takes that girl with the thought that Charlie would have climbed out herself but instead Charlie waits until they’re out of sight and then lets go and “floats away” because she just knows she’s “disappointed” Neil and they’d never be able to get past that. Are you kidding me? She had to be saved by Neil and then spent the next two weeks moping that he left her in the hospital as soon as she woke up. Cue the little violin music.
Of course this is a romance and they did have their HEA but it was just very meh to me.
In addition to that, the family secret? Once it was recovered? I expected a very emotional scene, like the scene when the secret came out but there was nothing. Just a few scenes where “The Skype” was involved and conversations were had but did I miss it? Did a physical face to face scene happen and I just skimmed it? At the end, I did do some skimming just to make the story pass faster but I would have paused at the reunion scene and yet, it never happened in this book. Do I assume that there’s a book 3 in the future and it’ll involve that character?
Also, for the baddie? While he was the baddie he was not the original baddie the hero thought he was so there’s still the mystery of whodunit (even though the reader has a pretty good idea at this point) and of that person getting caught. Does that happen in book 2? I don’t even know if I want to read book 2 right now. I may take a break and read something else because as Charlie had some TSTL moments, her sister had them too and I really don’t want to read two back to back books with TSTL heroines.
HER UNEXPECTED HERO by Melody Anne
Copyright: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Unexpected Heroes #1
Would you recognize true love if it sat down next to you? In this unforgettable new spinoff of the Billionaire books from New York Times bestselling indie author Melody Anne, two strangers must look past their painful memories to make way for everlasting love.
Alyssa’s modeling career came to an abrupt end when her manager boyfriend emptied her bank account and ruined her professional reputation. Now she’s heading to a new town in Montana to rebuild her life—if she can even get there (stupid delayed planes!). But things are looking up when she’s upgraded to first class and a mysterious stranger sits down next to her…
Jackson Whitman doesn’t believe in love, or commitment, or forever—not since he lost his wife and daughter. But the beautiful woman sitting next to him at the gate has him rethinking that position. Can he convince her to be his for the night? Or will she convince him to be hers for a lifetime?
Fair warning, review contains SPOILERS. Read at your own peril. ;)
I’m a picky reader. At times, I’m a very picky reader. Unfortunately, I think this book made my nit-pickiness come to life with a bang and I was not expecting that at all. At. All. This is going to be a huge rambling review. I’m sorry for that. I just couldn’t cut it down without taking important parts out…at least, important as I thought they were.
Jackson and Alyssa meet on a flight from Paris to New York on New Year’s Eve. Alyssa is headed home after her former boyfriend/manager ripped her off and left her with nothing to her name. Jackson is on his way home after doing some business in Paris. After several delays, where they end up having a conversation while waiting to board their plane, Jackson has the flight attendant upgrade Alyssa’s ticket to be able to sit next to him in First Class because hey, long flight, why not spend it trying to get her into bed? So there they are, chatting and having dinner on the plane and then their seats convert to beds and they’re alone in this little cocoon where they get all touchy-feely. No full on sexytimes but lots of petting and kissing, etc. Following morning, she gets up out of her seat to go to the bathroom, comes back and “trips” on the hero who was still sleeping in his seat/bed. Hero wakes up, pulls her closer, and starts kissing her. First: morning breath. No. Just No. Second: This plane must have been amazing because not only did they not ever get interrupted by flight attendants, they were never bothered with other passengers, also in First Class.
Anyhoodle, he ends up asking her to spend the night with him once they get to New York. Her flight leaves the following morning so she agrees. They have a one-night stand. She sneaks out the following morning while he’s still sleeping and the next time they see each other is in May. In her hometown. Five months later. His father bought the bar the heroine works at as a gift to Jackson to bring him home. His father and his meddling friends have decided that Alyssa is perfect for Jackson and all they need is to meet and the sparks will just appear between them. Imagine their surprise when Jackson pops up while she’s serving his family in the bar and they see each other. (This happens about 30% into the story.) Alyssa wants no part of him. (We find out at 32% that she’s pregnant but no one knows.) He, on the other hand, does not agree. He wants her and doesn’t see why they shouldn’t be together, although he doesn’t want anything permanent, just sex because he’s been hurt before and he doesn’t believe in love anymore but he still has needs.
Two weeks go by where he keeps trying to get close, he’s at the bar every single day and Alyssa keeps rejecting him. Then comes the day that she’s attacked by a drunk customer and as the paramedics are checking her over, she whispers to them “Please make sure my baby is okay.” (This is at 43% in the story) Jackson overhears since he’s there beside her. He tells her they have some “serious talking to do.”
At 48% into the story, he confronts her while she’s on bed rest to ask why she never told him she was pregnant. Where is the father? Is he still in the picture? Yada yada yada, blah blah blah. He doesn’t even think it’s him since they used protection and she’s “too afraid” to tell him that he’s the father. But. Get this. Jackson still wants her. He doesn’t care that she’s pregnant with another man’s child. He wants her. Wants to take care of her. Treat her like a queen. She’ll never have to worry about expenses, etc. Alyssa declines his offers. She still hasn’t told him he’s the father but he still comes by every single day while she’s on bed rest with gifts and to check up on her.
At 60% he asks her when is she going to stop fighting him. She replies with “Never.” This is after the gifts, the conversations, the days he’s spent visiting her to make sure she and the baby are okay. It’s now been a little over a week since she’s been placed on bed rest and she’s finally able to go back to work. That same evening, her parents’ house catches on fire and while there was some damage, they couldn’t live it in while they did the repairs so the parents lived with their next door neighbor while Jackson took Alyssa to his house since he had “a few extra bedrooms.” Alyssa’s leery about being so close to him but agrees to stay one night. One night ends up being several days. During this time nothing happens between them, although Jackson lets her know he’s up for anything, whenever she’s ready.
At 72%, they’re at a family event and she sees him playing with the younger children. He tells her he loves kids. You would think this is the perfect time for her to tell him “Hey, guess what? You’re my baby daddy!” and yet, nothing. She keeps quiet. Again. At 73% she thinks to herself that she needs to “marshal her courage” to finally tell him once they get back to his house. Once there, they end up having sexytimes so she decides to “tell him tomorrow.”
Two days go by and they’re so busy with the sexytimes that she still hasn’t told him he’s the father. There was a scene where he took her to his favorite spot and told her that he’s never taken anyone there besides family members. You would think that’s the perfect time to bring up the baby. Nope. Again she kept quiet. Then a week passed and still she didn’t tell him.
We are now 81% into the story and her excuses just keep piling up. She finally decides to tell him after her shift at work but then his brother tells her that Jackson had to go to Alaska for an emergency business meeting. She heads home and ends up getting into a car accident when she swerves away from a deer that appeared in the road. Jackson’s brother had followed her to make sure she made it home and saw the accident happen. She’s taken to the hospital, where they end up delivering her baby. While she’s in surgery, Jackson makes it back to town because his brother had called him to tell him about the accident. Private jet, yo. Anyway, baby girl is born three months early. She’s two pounds three ounces. Heart isn’t fully developed and she needs emergency surgery but she’s a fighter like her mom.
At 85% Jackson tells Alyssa that she has a baby girl. Alyssa is worried that strangers are with the baby instead of family so Jackson offers to go stay with the baby. No mention that he’s the father.
Two weeks pass and Alyssa is finally released from the hospital. She immediately goes to see her baby girl and finally names her. She names her Angel and Jackson is there too. We are now 87% into the book when she finally looks at him and realizes he’s been there every single day for their daughter and he’s been the first person, besides the medical help, to hold the baby. So she tells him. She finally tells him that Angel is his daughter. She tells him the reason she didn’t tell him before was because she was sure they wouldn’t see each other again. That he didn’t want kids. That she was afraid he’d take her child from her. That she didn’t know how to tell him after waiting so long. That she would lose him. Excuse after excuse was given.
Of course this is a romance book so all is HEA but the excuses got old real fast for me. Not only that but…I felt she should have told him much sooner than she did, no matter how she thought he’d react to the news because he was the father. On the flip side, he was pretty clueless too. I just don’t know. There was just so many “are you kidding me?” moments in this. If she had spent less time rejecting him. If he had just opened his eyes. If they had just talked to each other, really talked to each other. This whole secret baby thing may have worked for me, but this story left me feeling more aggravated than entertained. The only selling point for me to continue with this series were Jackson’s father and his meddling group of matchmaking friends. I’d read another one just to see the shenanigans they come up with next.
THE GUARDED HEART by Robyn Donald
Publisher: Harlequin Presents #623
Source: Pulled from print TBR
His was a terrible vengeance
Alannah’s thoughtlessness when she was sixteen had caused an accident with tragic consequences. Then, three years later, when she’d finally come to terms with the past, she was painfully reminded of her guilt.
Nicholas Challoner, haunted, brooding for his dead wife and unborn child, was not a man to forget–or to forgive.
He demanded a retribution that only Alannah could pay. And the elaborate web he had woven as part of his revenge left her no way out!
This is puzzling. I thought this was a book I hadn’t read and I pulled it from the TBR after I saw some readers discussing it at the Amazon Forums. I knew I had it, went looking for it and finally found it in one of the many bins holding my prints books. Then went to Goodreads to mark it as “Want To Read” only to see I had read this one sometime in 2010…yet, I don’t remember anything about it. Usually when I read something I’ve already read, a scene or two will jump out at me and I’ll know I’ve read it before but this one…there was nothing about it that reminded me of a previous read.
Heroine was involved in an accident that killed the hero’s wife and unborn child when heroine was sixteen years old. At the time, hero was twenty-seven. After the accident, the heroine and her father go to pay their respects to the hero. Because the heroine was nervous, he overheard her laughing as she and her father were leaving. That event snowballs into the hero befriending her family while she’s away at school and when she comes back three years later, the hero tells her that she will marry him (to replace his deceased wife) and she will give him a child (to replace the one she stole from him when she killed his wife). He makes it so she can’t refuse him without her mother and sister suffering from her decision. There begins the constant fighting/bickering “I hate you! I’ll never forgive you for this!” that is a staple for older Harlequin Presents stories. She hates him, he tells her he doesn’t care, he wants only her body and for her to give him a child. She fights him the whole time, at one point she says something to him (I can’t even remember right now what it was) and he responds by slapping her across the face. This is a few pages before they find out she’s pregnant.
There’s the typical other woman who is snarky to the heroine when they’re alone but oh so sweet when the hero is around them. There’s the business trips he takes that the other woman is always around for while the heroine is at home hating the hero and at times hating her pregnancy, etc etc etc.
Then comes the last couple of pages where it’s all changed. He’s loved her since he first saw her…remember their first meeting? She was paying her respects to him on the loss of his wife, who he lost a month before. She was sixteen. He was twenty-seven at that meeting. He’d loved his wife oh so much but then the heroine walked into his house a month after his wife died and he was just drawn to her. Hmm. OK. We’ll go with that. Then, the heroine — who spent the whole story fighting him and refusing to respond to him sexually any time he touched her — blurts out that she loves him oh so much and is so happy that he loves her too. Hmm. Maybe this whole WTFery about how they met and the revenge plot on his part is why I forgot everything about this book the first time I read it? So much eye-rolling on my part. So. Much.
THE COMFORTS OF HOME by Jodi Thomas
Copyright: November 2011
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Series: Harmony, Book #3
In Harmony, Texas, twenty-year-old Reagan Truman has found her place, and found her family. But with her uncle taken ill and her friend Noah lost and disheartened with his life, Reagan is afraid of ending up alone again, and she’s not the only one. When a terrible storms threatens the town, the residents of Harmony are forced to think about what they really want. Because making the connections they so desperately desire means putting their hearts at risk…
From my notes at GoodReads:
March 2012 —
Had to DNF it. One of the secondary characters was just ruining the book for me which is sad as I read and enjoyed the first 2 books in this series. I just couldn’t get past her actions and her treatment of another character.
ETA — 4/11/12
Have been in a weird reading mood. Went back and read/skimmed the rest of this one last night. Still hated Claire and her attitude towards Denver and how she was just using him for sex while he, the sucker, seemed to really love her.
There were 4 or 5 different stories going on. Ronny & Marty. Reagan & Noah. Claire & Denver. (If you can even call their story a “relationship”. Tyler & Kate.
We can go ahead and mark off Reagan & Noah because both were 20? 21? Too young to really decide anything more than the back and forth that was going on between them.
Claire & Denver, skimmed through most of their scenes after Claire annoyed me so much.
Tyler & Kate, didn’t think they’d ever decide to finally take the next time and make the choice to go to the next step, the emails, will she reply, when will she reply, were getting old, seriously old. Almost to the point of wanting Tyler to just move the heck on and just forget about her.
Then we have Ronny & Marty. Ronny is 26? Lives at home and her mother is the rudest person alive, IMO. The way she treats her daughter is horrible. Ronny grew up basically not wanting to be noticed. Didn’t talk much, hated to be touched, etc. Marty was 30? Had been in a accident that put him in a wheelchair and he was grumpy at first. But they met one day when Ronny delivered the mail to his apartment. They struck up a friendship where they would have lunch once a week where Marty would give Ronny “lessons” (kissing lessons to begin with) and it seemed the book was focusing on their relationship, even though each chapter was about one of the couples.
The last 10% of the book had a storm come through, blah blah blah. Tyler & Kate decide to marry (Thank you, God, they finally decide to take that step after 4 years of being friends). Noah decides to tell Reagan to wait for him until he was done from being part of the rodeo. Said he saw them married with 3 kids blah blah blah. Claire & Denver? Honestly, I have no idea what happened with them. Was hoping the storm would snatch Claire away like the wicked witch she was and just make her go *poof*, that’s how much I cared about her.
Then we have Ronny & Marty. Ronny was injured one night and ended up at Marty’s place where he helped take care of her injured leg. She ended up falling asleep on his bed and by the time she got home, her mom had basically called her trash and kicked her out (or Ronny may have just walked out before she kicked her out). After the storm, Ronny goes to Marty’s to see him and he’s not there. Somehow he’s moved out, something having to do with his father, but he’s not there when she goes and she ends up renting his place for herself. The book ends with her finding a paper that Marty left for her saying “Grow”. No goodbye. No nothing, just “Grow” and the book ends. Just like that.
I’m slightly puzzled. I know the previous two books also featured several storylines but we went in knowing who the h/h of each book was. This one, I thought it was about Ronny & Marty but the ending confused the hell out of me and my skimming most of it didn’t help any but damn, I couldn’t take much of Claire. Does this mean Ronny & the absent Marty will be in book 4? I have no clue and right now I’m very leery about giving that one a try. Might have to wait a bit before I dive into that one.
I hate to say that because this one came off reading as WF (Women’s Fiction) to me when the first two did not have that vibe at all. I don’t know yet which category book 4, JUST DOWN THE ROAD, will fall under. I would have said both WELCOME TO HARMONY (Book 1) and SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY (Book 2) fell under romance, loved the small town feel to them but this one, for me, it fell under Women’s Fiction. No real romance, and no, I do not count Claire and Denver’s “relationship” as romance. I’d say they were just f*ck buddies for the most part. The rest of it was just…way too sugary sweet for me.