‘Rows and rows of books lined the shelves and I let my eyes linger on the sturdy spines, thinking how human books were, so full of ideas and images, worlds imagined, worlds perceived; full of fingerprints and sudden laughter and the sighs of readers, too. It was humbling to consider all these authors, struggling with this word or that phrase, recording their thoughts for people they’d never meet. In that same way, the detritus of the boxes was humbling – receipts, jotted notes, photos with no inscriptions, all of it once held together by the fabric of lives now finished, gone.’ – Kim Edwards

Top ten books

Prompt: If you were creating a list of top ten books, what would you choose and why? Is there an ongoing theme?

A Restored Man by Jaime Reese
A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall
Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks
Love Comes in Darkness by Andrew Grey
Love Comes Silently by Andrew Grey
Morganna by Jackie Ivie
Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher
The World As He Sees It by A M Arthur
Whispers in the Dark by Maya Banks

Putting together a top ten of books was crazy hard. They’re not in order of preference, by the way, that would have been even harder! I started off with all the books I’ve rated five stars on Goodreads, and then removed the ones that didn’t immediately leap out at me. Then I went with the ones that I’ve either re-read the most often or the ones where the story or characters have stayed clear in my mind over time.

It’s interesting to analyse.

  • 100% are romance. Duh.
  • 30% of my top ten are by Maya Banks and 20% are by Andrew Grey. That speaks highly for both those authors.
  • 70% are contemporary and only 30% are historical.
  • 30% are paranormal.
  • 50% are m/m and the other 50% are m/f.
  • 20% involve military or similar. Yep, those are both Maya Banks books. She does the military ones well.
  • A whopping 60% involve disabilities of some sort, whether physical or mental. And I know that some of the ones that I was humming and haaing over whether to include in my top ten did as well. Apparently I like characters with disabilities. If I break it down even further, excluding disabilities arising from the paranormal, it’s 50/50 for physical or mental disabilities. Interesting. And I haven’t included temporary disabilities arising out of injuries that will heal (which you tend to get with the military style ones).
  • I think 70% of them are based in America, which is interesting because I wouldn’t have said that’s my preference. I think there’s 20% Scottish and 10% English.

Yeah, very interesting.

The Harder He Falls, The Deeper He Hurts

Prompt: Tell about a book you’re currently reading (or have recently finished). Give us a brief synopsis and your thoughts on it.

Ugh, this is not a good time for me to be answering this prompt. Talk about embarrassing!  I’m currently in the middle of a series that features m/m couples who are each involved (to different extents) in the BDSM world.

So, I just finished reading The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher. And I’ve started on the sequel, The Deeper He Hurts. These are both re-reads for me. But… (ooh, exciting!)… I’ve just seen that the third book in the series is out, and I haven’t read that one before! It’s called The Farther He Runs, and it starts Finn who plays a big part in the first book.

So, all three books are based around a company called Adrenaline Kick Adventures. Their speciality is white water rafting. The first book starts a little over a month after Grady joined the company. On his first time leading a group down a river for Kick, with two of the company’s partners in the boat with him, they hit a submerged log. One of the partners is killed, and the other (Finn) ends up in a coma. Grady, of course, is drowning (forgive the pun) in guilt.

At the hospital, visiting Finn, Grady meets Micah, who reads to coma patients. Micah reaches out to Grady and offers to talk to him, as he has experience of being in a coma. Micah has some permanent mental health issues resulting from his time in the coma – primarily, he gets ‘lost’ at random times, being suddenly unable to recognise his surroundings. This can mean he can be lost in his own house or in his workplace. Pretty scary.

Grady and Micah hit it off. Unlike most of the guys who work for Kick, Grady isn’t ex-military, nor is he a Dom. Micah isn’t either, but due to his coma-related issues, Micah has a need to be in control during sex. Grady struggles with that, as he’s had a bad experience with a Dom before. He sees submitting as weak, even though he craves it. His struggle to accept this aspect of the relationship is one of the key conflicts in the book.

Another issue is that most of the partners at Kick are Doms. Grady is sure if they found out that he likes to submit to Micah in the bedroom, they’ll see him as weak, and he’ll never be seen as an equal again.

Meanwhile, Micah doesn’t understand how an adventurer like Grady, who has travelled the globe, can be happy with someone who gets lost in his own bedroom. He also needs to learn to trust Grady to be there for him when he’s lost.

It does all eventually work itself out, of course. This is a romance novel after all.

The sequel, The Deeper He Hurts, features another river guide who is convinced by Grady to join the company. He’s what is termed a ‘pain slut’. If you don’t really understand what that means, don’t worry. Neither did I. The BDSM world is not something I’m familiar with! He agreed to leave his current job and join Kick because he’d heard rumours that one of the partners was a sadist, and he was curious if the guy would be a match for him. That sadist is Asher.

I was genuinely unsure if I could like a character who liked hurting other people. My knowledge of sadism is pretty limited, but it’s about getting off on hurting someone else, right? That’s where my thinking was at when I started the book. But it’s not like that, and in fact, there’s a lot of focus on Asher looking after Sawyer, both in and out of the bedroom. Like any other couple in a romance novel, they slowly fall in love, and it’s not one-sided. The pain exchange (or whatever the term is called) doesn’t mean the two don’t have gentle feelings for each other. It’s hard to explain.

The third novel is about Finn, who is the one in the coma in the first book. I’m looking forward to reading that. I have already gathered that Finn is a Dom, but not sure about anything else at this stage.

I haven’t read many BDSM books, and I think the reason I can deal with these ones is that the relationships remain very equal, especially outside the bedroom. Although they do ‘scenes’, there isn’t one person who wears the pants all the time. That’s important to me. I’m not sure I could read a book where one of the couple was constantly grovelling and begging for scraps of attention. No thanks.

I can’t say how accurate the books are in terms of the actual BDSM world, or any parts thereof. I have no idea. If you’re curious, read them yourself and let me know.