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Hold by Claire Kent

Hold Claire KentWhy I read it:  I bought it after positive reviews from trusted bloggers. 

Note: This book was previously published by Ellora’s Cave under the same title with the author’s pen name being Zannie Adams. This is the self-published version which has been “substantially revised and re-edited”.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Find the strongest man there. Give yourself to him in return for protection. It’s the only way you’ll ever survive.

Convicted of a minor crime, Riana is sentenced to a prison planet—a dark primitive hold filled with convicts vying for power. Her only chance of survival is with Cain, a mysterious loner who has won his territory in the prison through intelligence and brute strength. Sex is all she has to offer, so she uses it. She’s under no delusions here. No one is ever released, and no one ever escapes. Survival is all she can hope for—until Cain.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Set in a future dystopian world where the galaxy is ruled by a corrupt and somewhat amorphous “Coalition”, this novella certainly packs a punch.  Thrust into a prison where there are no rules and it’s very much survival of the fittest, Riana gets a piece of advice by a sorta-friendly guard:  “Find the strongest man there. Give yourself to him in return for protection.”  The guards don’t really guard.  They don’t spend time in the hold really.  There is no patrol to keep order. They drop the prisoners in and that’s about it.  Every day food gets dropped down a kind of chute and there is a fight to see who gets to eat and how much.  Even though Riana is no pushover, she is no match for tens of males who forgot the rules ages ago. She might have been able to hold her own against one, maybe two, but not against all of them and not for long.

One Cut Deeper by Joely Sue Burkhart

One Cut DeeperWhy I read it:  I received a review copy via the publisher.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Her needs are dark. His are dangerous.

Charlie MacNiall has been bringing his beautiful king shepherd to the vet clinic where Ranay Killian works for the better part of a year. She doesn’t realize he’s been slowly wooing her. She certainly has no idea that he picked her deliberately—that she is to become his. A broken heart and a desperate desire to be dominated make her the perfect victim.

His perfect victim.

Charlie fixes Ranay, testing her emotional limits while pushing her sexual boundaries past anything she’d imagined possible. Pain is their shared pleasure…until Charlie disappears and Ranay is all but destroyed.

The FBI says the man she loves is a serial killer. Ranay can’t deny there’s a darkness in Charlie, a monstrous hunger that drives him to the brink. She even believes he could kill. But Charlie’s hunger is what bonds them—it’s the foundation of their love. Would he actually kill her?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’m hoping that by the time I get to the end of the review I will know what grade to assign the book. I admit I’m at a bit of a loss.  On the one hand, the story was engaging and compelling. It was easy to read in the sense that it seemed like no time at all had passed when I realised I’d read 150 pages and I needed to go to bed.   On the other hand, it was pretty far outside my comfort zone and in that respect, it was not at all easy to read.

Taken by Charlotte Stein

TakenWhy I read it:  I enjoy this author’s books so I bought it on release day.   Charlotte Stein and I follow each other on Twitter and chat occasionally. I think she’s lovely.  If I didn’t think I could be objective about her books, I wouldn’t review them.  But readers may wish to take the foregoing into account.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  It was just a prank I didn’t want to be a part of. I never meant to hurt anyone, least of all Johann Weir. You wouldn’t know that he sells literature for a living. He has these wild eyes—eyes that light something up in me—and he must be twice as big as I am, with strong, warm hands. Hands I try not to imagine everywhere.

He scares me. And thrills me.

But now the deed is done, and I have to face the consequences. He says he just wants to hold me here until the police come, but it’s been hours and I’m still here.

Chained to a pipe in his back room like a prisoner.

The only person I have to talk to is Johann, and I tell him dark, shameful secrets—secrets that involve the metal around my wrist and him standing over me. But I can’t stop. I need him to know everything. I need him.

Johann has his own secrets—ones he wants to tell me too. And more than anything, I want to listen. And maybe, before he sends me away, he’ll punish me.

Just a little.

Just enough.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  As is most often the case with auto-buy authors, I didn’t bother reading the blurb.  When I saw someone excitedly tweeting about it, I took a skim and saw “chained to a pipe like a prisoner” and thought – oh, this must be some sort of sexy game.  Um, not so much.   The book begins in a dark place. It doesn’t stay there long and Han’s actions after his initial blunder (blunder is not the right word – what he did was way worse than a blunder), are honourable.  It is also true to say that all of the sexual contact in this book is entirely consensual.  In fact, Rosie is the aggressor in the sense that she has to actively persuade Han to do anything at all.   Once the doing gets going, the tables turn, but Han does not make a sexual move without Rosie’s enthusiastic consent.   Which is all to the good because his first actions did not make me warm to him.  Picking up a woman and chaining her in your basement is not cool. It is so far beyond not cool, I can’t fully describe it. Yes, he initially isn’t thinking clearly and yes, his plan (such as it was) was merely to “restrain” her until the police arrived (her friend was about to set fire to precious first editions in his antiquarian bookshop and Rosie was ‘helping’ her by not actively stopping her) but, let me make this clear: it is not cool to pick up a woman and chain her in your basement*.

April Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Dirty SecretsDirty Secrets by Jane O’Reilly – B+ The second in her recent erotic novella duology, Dirty Secrets is about Jules, Amy’s  (from Dirty Talk) kind-of-former-best friend.  Jules has split up with Dave the Dick for the last time.  She has escaped to London for a month to try and recover herself.  Somehow over the course of their relationship, Jules lost all sense of her self worth, her value and her self esteem.   Dave the Dick slowly eroded her confidence in everything.  She is finally out and she realises that he’s done a number on her but it is only as she begins to recover that she realises exactly how big of a number he did.

Theo is a friend from school.  They haven’t seen each other in 10 years, but when she calls him he offers her a haven and she takes him up on it.  Good decision Jules!  Theo is a co-owner of an exclusive sex club in London, the complete details of which are (I think, deliberately) vague.  They cater to fantasies, with a particular emphasis on women’s pleasure.  Theo offers Jules a  30 day membership to explore her fantasies and get in touch with her sexual self.  Theo’s gentle friendship and calm support, together with the encouragement and charm of Theo’s business partner, John, are balms to Jules’ soul and there are sexual adventures with a “stranger”. 

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