Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Pages: 108
Date: 27/02/2013
Grade: 4.5
Own / Kindle
The official blurb:
“When Grace discovers her gorgeous ex-boyfriend Ian broke her heart three years ago so he could pursue a career as a Dom on a BDSM internet porn site, she never expected to be intrigued...and aroused. Ian looks damn good holding that whip. But can a girl who’s always considered herself “vanilla” fire up her kinky side for love?

To find out, she’s going to audition for a chance to play Ian’s sexual submissive—and maybe find her way back into his heart.”
It has been three years since Ian broke up with Grace and crushed her heart when she discovers what the straight-laced lawyer she used to know and hasn’t been able to forget is up to now. Ian is a lawyer no more; now he is the man who holds the whip in BDSM videos. Grace’s initial reaction is one of disbelief and revulsion, but after watching a video of Ian in action she can’t deny that she is also fascinated.
Her curiosity aroused, Grace decides to check out this operation where Ian works, and if getting inside means that she has to sign up for an audition as a submissive, so be it.
Ian can’t believe it when Grace walks into his workplace. The Grace he used to know and hasn’t been able to forget was pure vanilla. In fact, that’s the reason he broke up with her in the first place. And now she is here, claiming that she wants to submit?!
It soon becomes clear that Grace is not a natural submissive, but it is equally clear that she does like the kinky games Ian introduces her too. The big question is whether Grace likes those games enough to consider rekindling her relationship with Ian? And is Ian willing to settle for a “typical life with a kinky nightlife”?
The road to finding the answer to these questions is going to be funny and kinky; for the characters as well as for the reader.
I only discovered Shoshanna Evers earlier this month when I read “Dominatrix Fantasy” but I find that I’m quickly turning into a fan of her writing. This story is a lot sweeter and less hard-core than Dominatrix Fantasy but it is equally well written and easy to get lost in.
I loved that there were no forced conflicts between the characters in this book. Any misunderstandings between Grace and Ian are a result of Grace’s ignorance when it comes to BDSM and Ian having to figure out what it is exactly that he wants. It all makes perfect sense in the story.
This story made me smile and even laugh on several occasions. It also had me captivated. If I had to come up with a complaint it would be that the story wasn’t any longer. I wouldn’t have said no to more scenes staring these two hot and adorable characters.
One thing is sure though; I will have to get myself another book by Shoshanna Evers in the not too distant future.


Pages: 374
Date: 27/02/2013
Grade: 3.5
Details: Reading Group book for
            Dialogues Through Literature

From the back of the book:

“Fresh out of university and in disgrace, Lexie Sinclair is waiting for life to begin. When the sophisticated Innes Kent turns up on her doorstep in rural Devon, she realises she can wait no longer, and leaves for London. There, Lexie carves out a new life for herself at the heart of bohemian 1950’s Soho, with Innes by her side.

In the present, Ted and Elina no longer recognize their lives after the arrival of their first child. Elina, an artist, wonders if she will ever paint again, while Ted is disturbed by memories of his own childhood – memories that don’t tally with his parents’ version of events.

As Ted’s search for answers gathers momentum, so a portrait is revealed of two women separated by fifty years, but linked by their passionate refusal to settle for ordinary lives.”

What to say about this book? I was a bit disappointed by it. The blurb seemed to promise more than the book actually delivered. Yes it is a story set at two different times (the 1950’s and the present) and yes they are connected, but not in the way the blurb suggests. I didn’t see a lot of similarities between Elina and Lexie other than that they live their lives according to their own agenda. As for the connection between the two stories, I had that figured out long before the details were revealed in the story, which took some of the intended tension away.

I find myself getting increasingly annoyed with the blurbs that come with books. I realize that they are meant to make a book sound as enticing as possible in a limited amount of words, but is that really an excuse for suggesting story-lines that aren’t really there? In this case it is Ted’s search which is mentioned in the blurb but doesn’t really take place in the story. While Ted is aware that some things aren’t quite right with his memories, he isn’t actively looking for answers. And when he does stumble across the reason for his doubts it is by accident, and not the result of his “search”.

I did appreciate the realistic picture of motherhood this book gave. While there is no doubt that both Elina and Lexie love their sons with all their hearts, the story does show the insecurities, frustrations and complications that accompany motherhood. Having said that, Elina’s part of the story seemed to be about little else except the way in which she was adjusting to her new status, and that got a bit boring after a while. And I have a problem believing that it would have been easier for Lexie to adjust to motherhood, in her circumstances and during the 1960’s, than it was for Elina in the present.

Well written and easy to read I still found that the story in this book didn’t completely captivate me. I enjoyed reading it but wasn’t really interested in the characters or what was happening to them. It felt as if I was observing the story as it unfolded as through a mist, as if there was a barrier between me and it. This was especially true for the contemporary part of the story. I completely failed to connect with Ted and Elina. Lexie’s story was far more interesting, probably because her story covers a much longer period and had a lot more happening in it.

This is by no means a bad book and I’m sure there will be lots of readers for whom this book works perfectly well. It just wasn’t the book for me at this time. And considering that this book won the Costa Award, I’m perfectly willing to accept that this is the result of either my taste or my mood rather than the qualities of this book.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rebecca's Lost Journals: THE SEDUCTION

Pages: 40
Date: 25/02/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 1 Rebecca’s Lost Journals
            An Inside Out Novella            
Own / Kindle

Let me start with a warning. This novella, and its sequels are closely related to the Inside Out trilogy by Lisa Renee Jones and in this particular case to the first book: If I Were You. And while this diary makes for an intriguing and enticing little read in and off itself, you really should read If I Were You first to get the most out of it.

In If I Were You the main character Sara is worried when her friend Rebecca disappears and she finds and reads her friend’s journals. Reading them both worries and excites Sara and sets her off on a very exciting journey of investigation and discovery. These novellas give the reader the opportunity to read those journals for themselves and thus find out a bit more about what exactly has Sara so worried and excited. And, the reader will also have access to information that is not available to Sara.

In this first instalment we meet Rebecca, find out how she comes to work in the art gallery owned by the charismatic and domineering Mark Compton and see how she meets Ricco Alvarez, Chris Merit and other characters from If I Were You. And then Rebecca starts referring to “Him” and “Master” without ever identifying who He is. Master has a proposition for Rebecca; he wants her to submit to him. After an enticing evening together he sends her a contract. If Rebecca wants to be with him she has to sign this contract and bring it back to him, in person. But will she?

This was an interesting little read, especially after reading If I Were You. The reader gets a much better idea of why Sara is so worried about her missing friend while at the same time getting caught up in the exciting new turn Rebecca’s life is taking.

Lisa Renee Jones writes a good story. She picks her words well and constructs beautiful sentences with them.

“His eyes met mine and I froze, spellbound by his stare. I was aware of him in every cell of my being, in a way that I’ve never been aware of another man in my life.”

The journal entries are realistic. Their length varies length and they are not written every single day. This is the way a diary would be written in real life and that makes the story all the more vivid.

Although this is a short novella we get a good introduction to Rebecca and what makes her tick. The balance between background information and the exciting new developments in her life is exactly right. And although a lot of information is only hinted at and not revealed at all – who is the Master, and what are all the secrets in Rebecca’s past? – I did not feel cheated when this book ended, only intrigued. This book left me looking forward to reading the subsequent novellas and has me captivated in the same way and to the same extent as “If I Were You”.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Pages: 287
Date: 25/02/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 2 Daniels Brothers
            Received from The Writer’s Coffee Shop
            Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

Back Cover Copy:

After a case ended badly for Rebecca Carson, she’s losing her mind sitting around her apartment waiting on her superiors to allow her to return to work. Since she was a teenager, the only thing she’d ever wanted was to join the FBI. Now that dream was in danger.
Gage Daniels has made a pretty good life for himself. A nice house. A career he loves. As a professional football player, he’s used to getting almost everything he’d ever want with just the snap of his fingers. This includes women. A well-timed smile is usually all it takes to attract the opposite sex, especially in Nashville.
When a stalker threatens Gage, the team owner calls an old friend, Rebecca’s ex-partner Travis Hansen, to help protect his star quarterback and find the person responsible. Hansen offers Rebecca the job, and she jumps at the chance. It’s work, and it will get her out of her apartment. How bad can it be?
Posing as Gage’s girlfriend, however, isn’t as easy as it seems. The man is relentless. Rebecca must work to protect Gage while staving off his advances. She’s there to do a job, nothing more. The last thing she wants is to be another notch on a hotshot athlete’s belt.
As the stalker continues to up the ante, Rebecca finds it harder and harder to keep her distance from Nashville’s star quarterback. He isn’t what she expected in one of the city’s most notorious playboys. Now all she has to do is keep him safe until they can find his stalker, and hope she doesn’t lose her heart in the process.

My thoughts:

This is a charming and very well written romance. I’ve read books by Sherri Hayes before and was fully expecting to love her writing; it was rewarding to find she didn’t disappoint.

With Gage and Rebecca, Hayes has created two believable and likable characters. Gage is the ultimate sport-star, playboy bad-boy while Rebecca is a rather uptight, set in her ways investigator. At first sight the two have nothing in common and even less to attract them to each other. From the first moment they see each other though there is something there, a spark that can’t be denied. For Gage this starts as the urge to get this tightly wound woman to relax while Rebecca is finding it ever harder to stay strictly professional when her body seems to have other ideas.

In a lot of romances it is the woman who finds herself head-over-heals with a man reluctant to commit to anything more than a bit of fun. Reading a book in which those roles are reversed made for a very nice change. Gage, coming from a stable and loving family, is a lot quicker to acknowledge that he has feelings for this woman and wants to take their pretend relationship into reality. Rebecca, who isn’t quite sure what a stable family life looks and feels like, has very set ideas about what her future and the man in it should look like, and Gage isn’t it. The way in which they grow closer, despite Rebecca’s best efforts to keep a distance between them, is both realistic and heartwarming.

The dialogue between the characters sparkles and the story flows smoothly, without any dead moments. Most importantly there is no over-the-top drama in this book. At no point did I feel that the reaction of one of the characters was contrived. Whatever Gage and Rebecca thought and felt made perfect sense within the context of the story and I just love it when I find myself reading a novel in which I don’t end up wanting to smack one or more of the main characters. And the same is true for the secondary characters; they were all written in such a way that they felt real and worthy of their role in the story. And I can’t wait to see what will happen next to Megan, Rebecca’s younger sister, although I have my suspicions.

I loved the part of the story set in the Daniels’ family home during Thanksgiving. The interactions in that family were fun and loving and made me want to read more about these four brothers and their individual journeys towards finding the loves of their lives. And since I haven’t read the first book, “Behind Closed Doors” yet and the other two books are yet to be written, I’ve got some quality romances to look forward to.

Finally, the stalker part of the story really works as well. While the identity of the stalker didn’t come as a huge surprise to me when it was revealed, I liked the way in which this element was integrated into the story. The romance is definitely the main focus of this book but the addition of the stalker gave the story that extra sense of urgency while never taking the story into unrealistic spheres.

In conclusion I would like to congratulate Sherri Hayes on writing yet another story that was almost impossible to put down once I’d started it. While I think I loved the first two “Finding Anna” books ("Slave" and Need) even more, I really can’t find fault with this book at all. This book comes highly recommended for anyone who loves a good, sexy and suspenseful romance.

Author Bio:
Sherri is the author of four novels: Hidden Threat, Slave (Finding Anna Book 1), Need (Finding Anna Book 2), Behind Closed Doors (A Daniels Brothers’ Novel), Red Zone (A Daniels Brothers’ Novel), and a short story, A Christmas Proposal. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and three cats. Her mother fostered her love for books at a young age by reading to her as a child. Stories have been floating around in her head for as long as she can remember; however, she didn’t start writing them down until she turned thirty. It has become a creative outlet that allows her to explore a wide range of emotions, while having fun taking her characters through all the twists and turns she can create. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found helping her husband in his woodworking shop.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Pages: 378
Date: 23/02/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 5 Flavia de Luce
            Received from Random House
            Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The official blurb:

“Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.”

This is the fifth book featuring the precocious Flavia de Luce and she is as clever, curious, bold and infuriating as ever. Always among the first to witness anything that happens in the little town of Bishop’s Lacey it is hardly surprising that Flavia is among those present when the tomb of St. Tancred is opened despite objections from the Bishop and the local magistrate. And she is as surprised as everybody else when the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist who has been missing for six weeks, is discovered with, rather shockingly, a gas-mask on his face. Never one to curb her curiosity and always eager to outsmart Inspector Hewitt, Flavia embarks on yet another of her investigations. Accompanied by her trusted bike “Gladys”, our young investigator travels Bishop’s Lacey and its surrounding areas talking to anybody who might be able to throw some light on the mystery of why the organist would have been murdered and left in such an obscure place. Over the course of her investigation Flavia doesn’t only uncover clues about the reasons behind the murder though. She also has a close encounter with her mother’s (Harriet’s) past; an encounter that will put a stop to her sisters’ powers to hurt her once and for all.

But there is more happening in Flavia’s life. It seems that her father has at last lost his battle against the creditors and that they may lose their home “Buckshaw”. And while Flavia’s sisters are suddenly less horrible towards her than they have been in the past, the girl finds herself inclined to think kinder thoughts about them too. In fact, Flavia doesn’t quite understand her own emotions and reactions anymore. Everything that appeared to be emotionally straight-forward in the past is suddenly new and surprising to her and she has no idea what may be at the root of that change.

This is a wonderful series of mystery books. Flavia is as endearing a protagonist as she can be infuriating. While the idea of a twelve year old girl not only investigating but also solving murders is charming, the girl herself comes across as a bit too smart, too insightful, for her age at times. Having said that, her smarts appear to be limited to science and murder; when it comes to human emotions, her own and those of others, she is exactly as you would expect to see in one so young. And this makes for a wonderful and at times funny combination.

I liked the setting of this book; Rural England in the 1950’s makes for a charming place and also helps to explain why a young girl is able to freely travel her surroundings without worried parents and neighbours trying to stop her. In many ways this book reminds me a bit of Agatha Christie stories; the county setting, where everybody knows each other; the charming but rather clueless priest; and, of course, the unlikely but very successful investigator, be it that Miss Marple and Flavia are on different extremes of the age scale. The fact that Mrs. Christie’s books are mentioned in this story therefore put a big smile on my face.

Another thing I love in these books is the near perfect balance between the excitement of solving the mystery and the details of Flavia’s turbulent life. Flavia may have a child’s ability to more or less ignore the bigger problems brewing around her, she can’t help being affected by them and suffering under her inability to do anything useful to help. I like the way we see Flavia grow up over the course of these books and although I hope we won’t be confronted by too much teenage angst in books to come it will be fun to see how she and the people around her fare in future stories.

And talking about future stories; this book ends on a rather massive cliff-hanger and I can’t wait to find out what exactly that last line of the book means for Flavia and her family.

This is a wonderfully plotted and very engaging mystery featuring an original and fascinating main character; a book I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys well written cozy mysteries.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Pages: 310
Date: 20/02/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 5 Eighty Days
            Received from Orion Books
            Through Nudge

This fifth book in the “Eighty Days” series is about Lily, the girl with the teardrop tattoo, who has been present in all of the four previous books, be it in very small roles most of the time.

When Lily moves to London after finishing university in Brighton she is ready to embrace the world. She doesn’t know what she wants from life or how exactly she fits into her surroundings though. Observing her friend submitting to a man leaves Lily with mixed emotions. She is intrigued by the dynamic between them, the abandon she witnesses in her friend as well as the control the man displays, but she is not quite sure how this relates to her. Lily is on a quest to discover exactly what it is she wants and needs and her search starts with a passionate but somewhat detached affair with Leonard, a man about twice her age. Although she only meets him in impersonal hotel rooms she feels close to and safe with him. When he ends their affair, all to aware of the problems the difference in their ages will at some point cause, he leaves Lily bereft. She longs for Leonard with a desperate passion and while she continues her search for what ever it may be she is looking for, it is always with the image of Leonard in the back of her mind.

After Leonard, Lily starts an affair with Dagur, the drummer in the Holy Criminals rock band. Although she can lose herself in wonderful and imaginative sexual exploits with him, she knows from the start that this isn’t and never will be a relationship. Through Dagur she meets Grayson, a celebrity photographer and his Mistress, She, who runs a fetish club. It is through She and her part-time job in the club that Lily discovers her dominating tendencies, but even those don’t bring her quite the satisfaction she is looking for. And her confusion about what it is what she wants means that she regularly finds herself angry for no clear reason; with herself and with the people around her.

It is only when she takes herself away from London and all the people she knows that her eyes are opened to what it is she really wants and needs; to what was always available to her if only she had been able to see it.

As in the previous Eighty Days books no effort has been made to make the main character either charming or endearing; these books portray real human beings with real doubts, fears and dark sides. Lily is only 21 years old when the story starts and has only started on her journey to who she is and what her role in life will be. And she is layered; on the outside she may look like a bad girl but on the inside the good girl she has been for most of her life is still alive and kicking. It is through her various relationships and all the different experiences she has that she slowly starts to recognise that maybe there isn’t an either – or answer to her questions. Maybe she doesn’t have to make a choice between being in charge and submitting; maybe she can just be herself with the one person who never wanted her to be anything else in the first place. This makes for an interesting character study. And while there were times when I wanted to smack Lily and tell her to stop being self-obsessed, her journey felt real and the outcome at the end was very satisfying.

I loved the way in which the characters from the previous books all play minor roles in this one. It was nice to once again get glimpses of Summer and Dominik, Luba and Chey, Lauralynn and Viggo just as it was interesting to see a character like Grayson developed a little bit further. According to the “Acknowledgments” this is the last “Eighty Days” title featuring these characters, and I have to admit that I’m sorry to say goodbye to them. On the upside though we are promised a return of Eighty Days with a whole host of new characters and I’m both delighted and very curious about that.

This book, like the four prequels, is very well written. The authors manage to make both the characters and their surroundings vivid and real. In fact, there were times that the characters were maybe a bit too realistic for me; their emotions and faults a bit too recognisable for comfort. This is not the sort of book where you find yourself wishing you were the main character, at least not until the very end of the book. The journeys the characters in these books have to undertake in order to get to their personal happy endings are too much like real life for that. But then these are books about personal journeys of discovery as much as they are works of erotica.

As for that erotica it is explicit and doesn’t always make for comfortable reading. And again that is due to the realism. We do not have beautifully sculpted, idolised versions of what a dream Dom would be in these books. We get a look at everything that can be wrong about the BDSM life-style as well as everything that can be right about it. The characters in these books are searching for that which really works for them and it is a quest filled with ups and downs, happiness and sadness, fulfilment as well as disappointment. Nobody wakes up one morning knowing exactly what it is they want and how to get it, and neither do the characters in these books. And while that doesn’t always paint a pretty picture it does make for a realistic and intriguing story.

This book, like the whole series, is a fascinating look at one person’s road toward (sexual) fulfilment told in a fun, hot and satisfying way. This is a story for grown-ups who want more than a fairy-tale.

Related reviews:
Eighty Days Yellow
Eighty Days Blue
Eighty Days Red
Eighty Days Amber

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Pages: 554
Date: 19/02/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 Pure
            Received from Headline Publishing
            Through Nudge
Own / ARC

In this, the second book in the Pure trilogy, we meet our protagonists where we left them at the end of the book one. Pressia is with Bradwell for whom she is developing feelings she doesn’t recognise or trust and trying to come to terms with the fact that she’s recently found and lost her mother, discovered that her father may still be alive and the existence of her half-brother, Partridge who is a Pure, from the Dome and the son of Willux, the man who caused the destruction of the world.

Partridge is still living outside the Dome and glad to be spending time close to Lyda, the Pure girl he loves. He is also devastated following the brutal death of his mother and brother; deaths ordered by his father. But his mother left him with something; three vials containing the first step in a cure for the damage done by the detonations. If they can find the next two steps it might be possible to undo the devastation his father has caused, but their chances seem slim.

Partridge’s father wants his son back and is not beyond keeping all of the people outside the Dome hostage to achieve his goal. Willux has plans for his son and nothing or nobody is going to stop him from achieving them. Faced with a possible massacre among the Wretches he has come to recognise as different but very worthy humans, Partridge has no choice but to submit to his father’s demands. He has to go back inside and hope that he will be able to fight the battle against his father’s evil plans from there.

Meanwhile Pressia, Bradwell, El Capitan and his brother Helmud leave on a seemingly impossible quest to find the ingredients and formula needed to create the cure. Piecing together clues left behind a long time ago they have to travel far into unknown and dangerous territories with no guarantees that they will achieve their goal or survive.

With the odds stacked against them in a volatile and dangerous world this small group of people is all the hope of survival the world has. And in the middle of violence, loss and danger these youngsters also have to come to terms with new and confusing feelings; emotions that appear to be as likely to hurt them as bring them to happiness.

Allow me to start with a warning before I get to my thoughts on this book. Do yourself a favour; (re)read “Pure” and re-acquaint yourself with the story and the characters before starting this book. It took me quite a while to get everything and everybody back in perspective. But by the time I realised that I should have gone back to the first book before starting “Fuse” I was so far into the book that putting it aside was impossible.

Because that is the sort of story this is; it grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. The way in which this devastated world is described is vivid and all the more heart-breaking for it. It is almost too easy to picture the poor people who were outside the Dome when the detonations came and are now fused to whatever was closed to them at the time; a dolls head where her hand should be for Pressia; birds on Bradwell’s back; Helmud attached to his, brother El Capitan; and all the Mothers with their children permanently fused to their bodies. The destructed landscape, filled with danger and newly formed creatures is just as easy to picture, and this only gets easier when the author introduces recognisable landmarks. Julianne Baggott did a heartbreakingly thorough job of building this world and its inhabitants.

The characters in this book aren’t especially easy to like but given the circumstances that makes perfect sense. In this world the only way to survive is by looking after number one and being suspicious of everything and everyone. Sentimentality is a luxury people living outside the Dome can’t afford and people inside the Dome have given up on a long time ago. But as you get to know Pressia, Partridge, Bradwell and the others better you realise that what at first appeared to be brutal and harsh attitudes are in fact necessary characteristics if they want to have a chance at surviving and succeeding. And in the midst of all this darkness there is room for occasional light and love:

“Now I feel like we weren’t made for each other. We’re making each other – into the people we should become.” (Bradwell to Pressia)

Because ultimately these are just fragile human beings doing the best they can in an impossible situation.

I liked the way in which the author took her time while developing the characters and the story. A picture is built with great attention to detail, using beautiful and vivid words and images. This allows the reader to come to a real understanding of this world and the people that inhabit it. I also appreciate that this book doesn’t end on a massive cliff-hanger. While it is clear that the story is far from over when Fuse ends, things are left at a relatively peaceful place. And since it is going to be hard enough waiting for the third and final book to come out, I can only be grateful that the author didn’t make it any harder than it had to be.

This is a very well written dystopian novel, made all the more brilliant by the fact that the devastation, its cause and its aftermath are all to easy to believe and imagine. The reader should be prepared to be fascinated and horrified in equal measure.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Pages: 288
Date: 17/02/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: First in series
            Received from Crown Publishing
            Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

“No judgments, No Limits, No Shame.”

Thirty-five year old Cassie Robichaud is very good at anticipating and meeting everybody’s needs except her own. Four years after her alcoholic husband died she is waiting for life to start while working as a waitress. By the time the story starts it has been five year since Cassie had sex, five years of which she feels every minute. And while a part of her still hopes that maybe it is not too late for her, most of Cassie has given up on love and happiness. In fact, Cassie is so convinced that she has nothing to offer that she has rejected the advances of her very attractive and interested boss, Will.

Cassie’s favourite customers are a couple who come in regularly and seem very happy and intimate together. Cassie can’t keep her eyes of them, taking in how easy they are together and how connected. When the woman accidentally leaves behind a beautiful notebook Cassie can’t quite help herself. Although she only reads a page or two she sees enough to realise that this is some sort of diary, detailing erotic encounters.

And so Cassie is introduced to the world of S.E.C.R.E.T.; a group of women dedicated to liberating women who find themselves in an emotional and sexual vacuum.

“What we do here, Cassie, is we help women get back in touch with their sexual side. And in so doing, they get back in touch with the most powerful part of themselves. One step at a time.”

Soon Cassie starts her voyage of discovery; a quest of nine steps that will empower her, introduce her to unsuspected pleasures and ultimately liberate her.

This was a fascinating book. I absolutely adore the idea behind it. Whenever I read or hear objections to erotic fiction the reason given will be that these stories are supposed to be degrading to women. And while I don’t agree with that sentiment in general, nobody will ever be able to make such an accusation against S.E.C.R.E.T. In this book the women are in charge and those who are empowered use their insight to bring the same sort of liberation to other women. It is a very attractive idea. And if anybody is objectified or used in this book it is the various men Cassie encounters on her way to (sexual) liberation. Their only purpose is to serve the women in such a way that they can develop their best qualities. A purpose they appear to serve with pleasure, but under strict rules set by the women who run S.E.C.R.E.T.

I also liked that there were no quick, overnight, transformations in this book. Cassie (as any other woman accepting the assistance of the group) has to go through nine steps which will bring her to surrender, courage, fearlessness and trust, to name just a few qualities. And it isn’t until Cassie has gone through all the steps that she is ready let go of her fear and to fully embrace who she is, and that she is enough.

“Fear is the only thing that stands between you and your real life.”

Now this is a work of erotic fiction which means that the liberation of Cassie is achieved through nine different sexual encounters.

“Our whole reason for being is liberation through complete submission to your sexual fantasies.”

Cassie’s nine encounters are all based on fantasies she has admitted to at the start of the process and we follow her as she is introduced to a variety of experiences and in the process overcomes fear, learns to trust and gains confidence.

I loved that this book points out that there is a difference between physical attraction and love. In so many works of erotic fiction it seems that the attraction between two people is based on little more than their compatibility between the sheets. And while Cassie does appear tempted to fall into that trap, the support the programme gives her makes it possible for her to distinguish between lust and love and to make her decisions accordingly.

Having said all that, this book is about so much more than just sex. This is a book about self-discovery; a story about finding the courage to create your own life, according to your own needs, desires and dreams. In fact, while sex was an important part of the story line, it is not the story. I often feel that the story itself is an after-thought in erotic novels; a means to include as much sexy scenes as possible. Not so in this book, here the sexy scenarios are an important and integral part of a much larger, and very strong story-line. And while the scenes are quite descriptive they are not, in my opinion intended to shock or embarrass.

This is a book about empowering women. This is a story that shows us that being a strong and independent woman doesn’t mean giving up on pleasure. It is good to surrender as long as it happens from a place of strength and confidence.

“Above all else sex requires surrender, the ability to simply melt with each arriving moment.”

This is a well written, well thought out and fascinating story about one woman finding her strength with the help of other women. It is sexy and inspiring and a thought-provoking read. I’m looking forward to finding out how the story continues.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Pages: 74
Date: 13/02/2013
Grade: 3

Details: no. 1 Fetish Box
            Received from Gallery Threshold Pocket
  Books through NetGalley


Twenty-two year old Mary Deupree has inherited a sex-shop from the mother she never knew. Having been raised by her strict and religious father and grandmother she has no experience when it comes to sex or sex shops, but enough curiosity to make the journey from California to Florida. Shortly after arriving in Hollywood, Florida, Mary meets the two men who played important parts in her mother’s life. John, a scarred veteran from Afghanistan lives in the apartment over the Fetish Box and Max the Irish bartender with whom Mary now co-owns a bar. Much to her surprise Mary discovers that she reacts strongly and sexually to both men. But while Max seems to promise a night of wild abandon, John offers Mary the opportunity to experience everything she’s been fantasising about as well as learn all she needs to know to successfully run the business she has just inherited.

Before I go of on what will sound like a bit of a rant let me say that I did enjoy reading this story. It is written in a nice and easy, at times chatty, way. I enjoyed that the reader gets to see the story from Mary, Mike and John’s perspective. And I liked what I saw of the main characters so far, even if the two men seem to be stereotypes; exactly what an Irish man and a wounded veteran are supposed to be in romance novels.

I have a few issues with this book though. The biggest one being that this isn’t actually a book. It is the start of a story and it stops before it really begins. All we have here is an introduction of the main characters and hints of potentially interesting and sexy things to come. I don’t know or understand why it is suddenly okay to publish instalments and call them books, but it seems to be wide-spread these days. This is, of course, a review copy so I didn’t pay for it. But I don’t think I would want to pay for it either. I don’t mind paying for short books provided they give me a completed story. And that is not what I found here.

The rest of my issues are much smaller. First of all, Irish men don’t really sound the way Nicole Camden writes it. They do not use “yer” instead of “you” all the time. And I should know; after living in Ireland for 15 years and having been married to an Irish man for even longer, I’ve got a pretty good idea what they sound like. In fact, this particular Irishman sounded more like a Scot a lot of the time. Secondly, how likely is that that a girl who has stayed a virgin for 22 years would suddenly decide that she wants to sleep with not one, but two men she’s only met for the first time that day? And if that seems unlikely, don’t even get me started about the fact that she willingly agrees to have one of them introduce her to the ins and outs of BDSM. I mean; really? Finally there was one wardrobe malfunction that bothered me; Mary went from wearing a skirt to wearing jeans and back to wearing a skirt without ever changing her clothes.

This book didn’t contain a lot of explicit sex although there are one or two erotic scenes. I really don’t think there is a lot, if anything, in this book to offend anybody although the story seems to suggest that that may change in future instalments.

And that leads me to the big question; will I be reading the next book in this series. As I stated above, I don’t like paying money for what I feel are unfinished books. On the other hand I did like this story and the characters enough to want to know what might be happening next. There were enough hints about future events in this story to make me curious about how it will all play out. So I guess the jury is still out on this one. I will have to wait and see if my curiosity is stronger than my opposition to books published in this way. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Pages: 537
Date: 13/02/2013
Grade: 5-
Details: no. 1 Wool Trilogy
            Received from Century
            Through Nudge

It is a very bleak future. The outside world is grey and lethal. And the relatively few people still alive live a very restricted life inside a huge Silo. Separated into functional groups (IT, Mechanics, Medical…) all living on separate levels of this small world, the survivors of a huge apocalypse long ago live their lives according to strict and ruthlessly enforced rules. Breaking the rules is not an option but in a world in which curiosity and asking questions constitute a break with the regulations there will always be some who can’t stop themselves from questioning the status-quo and voicing their doubts. Stating out loud that you are curious about the outside world and what lies at the other side of the hills will get you exactly what you are asking about though; a trip into the outside world. With the air outside still poisonous this is a one way journey nobody has ever survived. A one way journey with a dual purpose; get rid of those who question the established order and keep in check anybody else who might have questions about the life they’re forced to live.

When Juliette (Jules) is, reluctantly, recruited away from the depths of Mechanics to take up the job of Silo sheriff it isn’t long before she starts wondering about the fate of her predecessor. He went outside, voluntarily, but why? Did he want to die or did he think there was something out there worth taking the risk for? Almost unaware of what she is doing Jules is starting to break the rules and it isn’t long before she finds herself arrested, awaiting her own one-way trip outside. But this will be a trip with a difference. Jules may well be the last person to be forced to go outside the Silo, because her departure is about to change everything.

This book started of as a short story (Wool 1) which was self-published and subsequently established a huge following. I guess it was that reader-enthusiasm which encouraged the author to continue the story and write the subsequent four parts of this volume. And I can see why this story took off the way it did. Hugh Howey has created a claustrophobic, scary, fascinating and above all, realistic world in this book. The idea of a whole community, a small world really, living and functioning in one enclosed Silo spanning over 100 levels is mind-boggling. Having to live in an environment you can never leave, with rules stating that you can’t be curious, ask questions or show initiative is almost impossible to imagine. And yet, as you read this book, it almost seems normal. Because the author has built this world inside a Silo so very well it becomes easy to understand why most people would simply accept the rules. After all, the world is only what you can be aware of, and if anything outside the obvious boundaries is out-of-bounds, both literally and according to the regulations, accepting that world for what it is would be the easiest way to live your life. The author doesn’t go out of his way explaining why the fast majority of people inside the Silo accept life the way it is because he doesn’t have to. It is human instinct to steer clear of that which would kill you, and only a few would go against that instinct in the hope of finding something better. This is the story of those who go against their instincts; those who find that the questions are too big and important to ignore, regardless of the costs.

This book is very well written with a nice balance between explanations, descriptions, thoughts and action. It would have been easy to make this a story with very obvious distinctions between good and bad but thankfully the author didn’t fall into that trap. Those who are the heroes in this story aren’t all virtuous and those who are bad aren’t necessarily soulless bastards. All are victims of the Order, all have to survive inside the Silo and some deal differently from others. It is that simple in real life, and it is that simple in this book.

My only reservation, and it is a small one, is that telling this story required a lot of world-building. This takes the pace out of the story at times, especially early on in the book. Having said that, it is probably a price well worth paying; by the time the action takes over, the world and the characters have been established so well that it is impossible not to be invested in what will be happening next.

This is a wonderfully crafted story set in a fascinating dystopian world. Wool will grab your imagination and leave you wondering “what if” for days, if not longer. I’m looking forward to the rest of this story.