Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Simply Pleasure (House of Pleasure #0.5) by Kate Pearce



Reviewed by Tabatha


Val and Peter were captured and enslaved in a Turkish brothel together from the time that they were just young boys being forced into sexual slavery. I was thankful that we didn't have to revisit their past, but instead begin at the point of their rescue when they are eighteen. Through their shared experiences, these two have formed a special bond that is unbreakable. Although neither of them is getting what they desire from their relationship (or lack there of), the dynamics change when one of them embarks on a path of sheer self destruction.

I think that these two had an unquestionable connection. Yes, aspects of the story were disturbing for me to think about, but I also understood that if had they not shared this similar past they would have never ended up together in a romantic sense either.  I did have the distinct feeling that something was missing as I read, and I still can't quite put my finger on what exactly what that was.  I didn't end up with powerful feelings one way or another on about their relationship, so that could have been the issue. Val was very push and pull about it all right up until the very end, and I just felt like that could have been explained more from his point of view.  Overall, I liked the story but I didn't love it.  I do know that Val has his own story in the next book in this series, and that this was just a prequel to a bigger picture where these characters reappear. I know that I enjoyed that one immensely, so I will definitely continue reading this series.

*I received a review copy from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review*

If you'd like to check out more about this or other books by Kate, please head over to her website.



Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble 

My Two Cents on Reviewing

I know that I normally just post reviews on here, but I definitely have something I'd like to discuss with you guys given that this is my platform for connecting with all of you out there.

In the past few years, the literary world has been chalked full of author/reviewer feuds, and I just cannot wrap my head around it at all.  As a reviewer myself, even if I'm fairly new to the blogging community, I've found myself the target of a few such emails from authors in response to a handful of my reviews.  Now I'm not saying that this drama is all author initiated, so don't get me wrong first of all.  I'm not saying that all of the emails I've received have been negative response emails.  A few have been great thanking me for being helpful, but I've also had a few of them that made me question whether or not I wanted to continue being a reviewer. So this brings me to what I'd like to discuss with you guys.

Snarky vs. Constructive Reviewing

Let me first start by telling you that I am not a fan of the flame war.  It's childish...plain and simple and it is never acceptable.

GoodReads has gotten a really bad rep with authors because of all the snarky reviews that a few bad apple reviewers have been posting.  I really find this to be sad, because I always try to be helpful when reviewing a book.  I've seen so many authors that I admire trying to turn readers away from GoodReads.  Yes, I think that like with all systems it does have its flaws, but for the most part it is  genuinely a great tool for readers and authors alike to utilize and come together as a reading community. I hate that a few bad apples are ruining the whole bunch, but isn't that how the old phrase goes?

Now I'm going to throw it out there and say that I just don't get snarky reviewing of books. In fact, I refuse to post a review for a book on my blog that I deem less than a 3 star read.  Now that doesn't mean that I won't post a 1 or 2 star review on my GoodReads account though, because I feel like it is my duty as a reader to provide my constructive review in order to help out authors with feedback.  On the flip side of the coin though, I also don't understand authors who try to engage reviewers to "explain" themselves either.  I don't mind receiving an email from an author saying thank you, but I also don't like to receive one outlining their reasoning behind their decisions with their book meanwhile missing the point of what I had said in what I had hoped to be helpful review.
I am never, nor will I ever be snarky in reviews.  I would just never do that to an author who I know put so much hard work into their book.  I would also never belittle it with gifs that are clearly meant to be antagonistic even when some are just trying to come across as funny in their reviews. This just isn't my style. Period.  My goal when reviewing is for an author to see one of my reviews and consider it the constructive criticism that it is intended. Hey, I've given lower star reviews to authors that I absolutely adore (both on a personal and professional level), because first and foremost I am always honest about how I feel about a book.  It solely about the book they produced in my review.  I always weigh out my words carefully, and try to be as clear as possible about what I did and did not enjoy when reading a book.  I even go so far as to offer up helpful suggestions where I see a story could be improved, or mention that it had good bones and could use some fleshing out.  To me, this is constructive reviewing.  This is also the type of reviewing that I think all authors should take into consideration when reading reviews and forget about the others.

Will reviewers all be like me? *shaking head*

Hell no, but you just have to weed through to find those of us out there who are trying to help you. And reviewers, I hope you consider what I'm saying about being constructive because that is the best way you can help authors out.  Writing is a craft that gets honed over the years, so they need helpful feedback in order to grow and develop their talent.

I think the important thing to remember both as an author and a reviewer, is that reading is subjective and everyone has their own opinions. I say this all the time, but you have to just roll with it.  This is what you have to do to survive in this business as both an author and a reviewer too.  We do it because THIS is what we love to do. Be grateful for feedback authors, and be constructive reviewers.  But I think above all for both it is important most of all to not go at each others throats no matter what is said.  

I have a different level of appreciation for the work that goes into a book, because I have several friends that are authors and I see how much effort it takes to put yourself and, more importantly, your work out there.  But I also have a deep appreciation for good quality reviewers, because I also have several valued friends that provide invaluable, constructive reviews as well. We aren't going to always praise your work as being the wonderful works of art you hope, but definitely take into consideration when  a reviewer is trying to help you out as well. 

So that's all I have to say and I'll likely get a few displeased people, but *shrug* I'm okay with that.

Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (Tastes of Seduction #3) by Jess Dee



Reviewed by Tabatha


I've sang her praises many times before, but I think I need to do it again. What can I say, I am just really able to connect with her books, and I think that Jess Dee has hit it out of the ballpark again with this one. I feel like I am forever giving her glowing reviews, but trust me when I say that she more than deserves them. She is an amazingly talented writer that can craft a story with so much intense emotion into it, that it will leave you breathless. Who else can take a man who jilted his bride in the previous book with the help of his buddy Noah, and not only make you understand him but actually make you fall in love him too!

Kisses Sweeter Than Wine is so much more than just your typical ménage romance. It's about the strength and courage of three people to go after what their hearts desired. To reach out and grab what they want with their whole heart and damn the consequences, because in the end nothing matters more than their own happiness.

"Violet and Noah had given him that. The strength to face himself and, maybe, finally embrace who he was."

So first of all, I want to address anyone who may think that this story was too short and incomplete. To each their own and all that, but I'm sure some will think that things were left unresolved between Dec and his parents. I just want you to keep in mind that he decided their opinions no longer mattered to him anymore, and that's what the story is ultimately about. Casting away that need for approval and finally being happy, because Dec decided that his parent's approval no longer mattered above his own happiness.

"Those expectations never made me happy. Noah tried to tell me as much, but I'm only just accepting it. It's time to turn my back on those expectations."

I think Noah is the one who had the most amount of courage and strength though. He is the one who stood by Declan through the years as he tried to reconcile what he wanted most, and then Noah is the one who had the strength push them all by taking a chance on a romantic weekend for the three of them when it could have so easily blown up in his face. Violet also demonstrated not only strength and courage, but also an incredible amount of loyalty as well in her concern for her friend Tori. She is truly the type of heroine that I love to read.

"The urges swirling through her blood were basic: lust, hunger desire-all three drive to extremes by the two men with her.

But the emotions swirling through her heart? A different matter altogether. While need and longing featured right up there, so did a deep-rooted sense of contentment, the likes of which she'd never experienced before. Here, with Noah and Declan, everything felt right in her world, as if the stars had aligned perfectly in her favor. It wasn't just contentment though. It was happiness. Satisfaction. And mixed in with those emotions were images of forever."

What it all boils down to is that these three were entirely too easy to fall in love with, and I can definitely see why it took so long for all of their pieces to finally fall together. Jess Dee did a masterful job with this book, and it definitely gets my glowing seal of approval. This whole series was definitely sweeter than wine, and I can't highly suggest it enough to you all.  

If you'd like to check out more about this or other books by Jess, please head over to her website. 

Special Note 

You can also get book one in this series, Summer Wine, for free right now!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hillbilly Rockstar (Blacktop Cowboys #6) by Lorelei James



Reviewed by Slick Reads


As a huge fan of this author, it is hard to write a review for a book that I didn't love with all my heart and that is where I'm at with Hillbilly Rockstar.  I still loved this book, but it isn't a favorite and I'm still not sure I really love these two characters together, although I do love them separately. That being said, Hillbilly Rockstar is still heads and shoulders above so many other books out there.

We met Devin McClain in early Blacktop Cowboy books, and we know that from a young age he was a charmer and he is an extremely talented songwriter and singer.  He is also quite cocky and while he is a great friend to those he's known all his life, he embraces the perks of being a star especially the buffet of women always available.  When it appears a fan has gone a bit off the deep end, his record company and his management decide he needs some protection.  This doesn't set well with a man who feels he can defend himself, and he especially doesn't need the woman body guard they want to hire for him.  A woman with ties to his hometown and one he obviously can't charm.  While I learned to love Devin as this book went on, there were many things he said and some truly crappy actions towards the beginning of this book that made me want to hurt him bad.  There was one incident in particular that made me hate him a little, and I can guarantee if I'd been Liberty I wouldn't have been so professional (guess that's why I'm not a romance book heroine).

There is no doubt Liberty Masterson can hold her own against anyone and she isn't about to let an arrogant country western star get the better of her.  The bad thing is she's attracted to him and he's a client so it's not going to happen no matter how much she wants it to.  I love that she's strong, sure of herself but a little bit vulnerable.  At times her stubbornness drove me up the wall and I'm pretty sure Devin felt the same way.

I'll admit I had someone else in mind for Devin from the start and I wasn't so sure how I'd like him with Liberty but as their relationship grew, it became apparent to me these two belonged together because they complimented each other's strengths and didn't exploit their weaknesses.  Their sexy times were off the charts and it is always refreshing when a couple isn't afraid to explore their sexuality and enjoy each other fully and this author always makes sure everyone is satisfied including the reader.

I loved seeing all the different sides of Liberty and especially loved how she opens up and shared so much of her life with Devin.  She was a surprise to me mainly because we'd seen so very little of her previously and she is so different from her sister, Harper.  I loved learning more about Devin, what motivated him and the fact that he was way more down to earth than his public persona let on.  It became very obvious when he realized he wanted things in his life he never imagined and with good reason.

A little bit of suspense, intrigue, and a few secondary characters that I could see spinning off into a whole other series (hint, hint) added a lot of interest to an already satisfying love story between Devin and Liberty. I missed the atmosphere and craziness of Muddy Gap but on the other hand I appreciated the entertaining new characters that were introduced.  Ms. James has a way of planting little seeds of interest that make her fans start dreaming of possible new series for her to write!    While I understand the necessity of this book taking place on the road, I will also admit that some of my favorite scenes were when they returned home to Muddy Gap and spend time with Bran and Harper, my favorite Blacktop couple.

Hillbilly Rockstar is another fine addition to The Blacktop Cowboy series and it proves once again that author Lorelei James is a powerful storyteller who has the ability to draw readers in with her vibrant characters, entertaining plot, exquisite dialog, and emotional yet sexy love stories.  

If you'd like to check out more about this and Lorelei's other books, please head over to her website. 

Dirty Deeds by Lorelei James



Reviewed by Tabatha


What I saw reading Dirty Deeds was just how much Lorelei James has grown into the author that we all love today. Her characters, Nathan and Tate, were very well developed in her signature style, and I also found them very easy to relate to as well. Now although I would classify this as more of a sweet romance than the erotic ones we are all used to from James, I really did find myself enjoying that it all the more because it fit in well with the characters and the storyline. On the flip side, the plot was rather predictable and I did think that the push and pull going on between Nate and Tate got a little bit old after awhile. In the end though, this really does show the beginnings what a fantastic writer James turned out to be with her unique heroes and the heroines that push their limits of control. If you are looking for a sweet read that is heavy on the romance, then this one would be a great one for you.

*I received a review copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.*

If you'd like to check out more about this series or other books by Lorelei, please head over to her website.