Books read in June

Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Darkness Rises by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Night Unbound by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

In Still Darkness by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Phantom Embrace by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Blind Faith by Teresa Gabelman *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Sound of Her Warrior Heart by M L Buchman *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

An Unconventional Meeting by E V Darcy *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Working It by Riley Hart and Devon McCormack *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Touch of Fire by Jasmine B Waters *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Adam’s Song by Spencer Spears *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tartan Two-Step by Grace Burrowes *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Before You Break by K C Wells and Parker Williams *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Phantom Embrace by Dianne Duvall
I had a pretty good idea of where this story was going, because in the previous novel, Yuri was killed in action.  Now, we step back in time a little and he’s the main character in a romance?  Oh, wait, the girl he falls in love with is a ghost.  Hmm, predictable much?  So yeah, Yuri dies and the two ghosts get to be together forever…as ghosts.  Ugh.  This was definitely not up to Dianne Duvall’s normal standards.

Before You Break by K C Wells and Parker Williams
Although it was well written, this book wasn’t for me.  I would have rated it two stars for my personal enjoyment of the book, but it seemed a little unfair to the author.  I mean, it’s a novel featuring a gay couple who are in a dominant/submissive relationship – it seems unfair to reduce my rating because I didn’t enjoy the dom/sub aspect of it.  But I didn’t.  And I was unable to give it more than three stars.

For me, a relationship has to be equal.  These two were equals at work, equals in strength, etc.  They were not equals in their relationship.  To me, it seemed that Wayne didn’t see Ellis as an equal.  Instead, Wayne felt superior, smarter, more of an ‘adult’, and he patronised Ellis.  I felt like it was more like a parent/child relationship than one of equals.  This was emphasised by the way Wayne addressed Ellis as ‘boy’ and made Ellis call him ‘Sir’.

I also felt like the last third of the book was an extended epilogue.  The book just kept going and going and going…  I was so over it by the time I finally finished.

Books read in February

Tall, Tatted and Tempted by Tammy Falkner *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Don’t Make Me Beautiful by Elle Casey *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Crazy From The Heat by Mercy Celeste *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

The World As He Sees It by A M Arthur *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Be True by Stella Starling *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher
Grady is a white water rafting guide, and his cousin invites him to join up with his company. On his first trip in the new job, Grady’s raft hits a submerged log, killing a man and putting his cousin in a coma. Grady is overwhelmed with guilt, and currently waiting to hear if his name is cleared or if he is going to jail. In the meantime, he is visiting his cousin in hospital and trying desperately just to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Micah has experience with comas, and enjoys reading to coma patients. When he meets Grady, he offers to help him by answering some questions, talking things through and generally being a friend. But Micah works at a leather bar frequented by most of the guys that work at Grady’s job. The last thing Grady needs is for any of those dominant men to find out he has a submissive streak. No way can he work with them once they know that, they’ll never respect him.

This book was emotionally intense, and I got sucked in by both the main characters. They both have secrets and issues, which makes for a really well balanced book. Both characters grew and evolved over the course of the book, and both had to learn to accept themselves as they were and fight through their obstacles. Neither one was magically ‘healed’ of their issues, rather they had to learn to embrace themselves and figure out how to make their relationship work with those issues.

I’m not into the BDSM scene, but these characters are not heavily into it either. They’re more on the fringe of it. There are some scenes, but the actual relationship between the two men is very equal (which I liked). I think the next book will be heavier on that side of things, as the main character in the next book has already admitted to being a sadist. Whether the book is accurate about such things, I can’t say, you’ll have to form your own opinion.

Be True by Stella Starling
I found this book hard to put down. There were no life and death scenarios, but it was still very much a page turner. I loved seeing Logan evolve, and Trevor was a really fun character. Supporting characters were done well enough that the whole world felt real and I was able to dive in and believe. I loved the resolution at the end and both Logan’s chosen way of proving his love (very in character) and the scene in the epilogue. Fantastic story. Definitely worth the read.

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.