Friday, May 31, 2013

Rebecca's Lost Journals: MY MASTER

Size : 338 KB
Date: 31/05/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: No. 4 Rebecca’s Lost Journals
            An Inside Out Novella
Own / Kindle

The Blurb:

“In part four of Rebecca’s Lost Journals, My Master, it’s Rebecca's turn to claim control and set the limits in her relationship.”

It has been a long time since Rebecca has written more than just loose thoughts in her journal. After the last contract renewal she has moved in with her Master and the time for the next renewal negotiations is fast approaching. Rebecca is having serious second thoughts though. As much as she has fallen in love with her Master, she is convinced that his feelings for her are nowhere near as deep.

“I know he cares about me in the way he believes is the ultimate showing of affection and commitment.”

And what is more, with each subsequent negotiation He draws her deeper into the BDSM world, pushing her limits well beyond that with which she is comfortable.

“He’s pulling me inside that dark hole that is his escape. Only there is no escape for me.”

More worryingly, He doesn’t seem to be aware that he is pushing her too hard and too fast.

“Not when every scene pushes me beyond the limits that mean pleasure for me. He doesn’t see that, either. And as my Master, he should.”

Rebecca’s nightmares have returned and she can’t help feeling that something horrible is waiting for her, just out of sight, ready to pounce. With her Master away Rebecca decides to spend the weekend in her own flat, a decision He isn’t happy about. It is the right decision for her though because on her own, in her familiar surroundings she starts writing in her journal again and in doing so manages to process her feelings.

“I’m on an emotional rollercoaster ride and he’s not. That bothers me. It’s telling. But what is it telling me?”

Rebecca is willing to accept that she is very special to her Master:

“You’re the only sub I’ve ever asked to do this.”

But she doesn’t want to be just his best sub. Rebecca wants and needs a proper relationship.

“These are the moments that I revel in, when he doesn’t hold back, when he doesn’t restrain me or himself. We are just... us.”

But a proper relationship is not what her Master is looking for and probably not something he is capable of either. And though it would break her heart, Rebecca is getting ready to walk away. Because staying would break her completely.

What I really love about this book is that it shows us another side to a BDSM relationship. In most books in this genre we encounter an experienced Master who connects with a girl who has never even thought about the power-exchange dynamic, only to discover that she has a submissive nature and revels in such a relationship. Rebecca’s journals show us what happens when the girl in question, while enjoying some aspects of the dynamic, isn’t looking for anything beyond a “standard” relationship even if it does include a few kinky aspects. Looking at a relationship in which things don’t just come together perfectly makes this a fascinating and realistic story. Combined with the beautiful writing and the ongoing mystery as to who exactly the Master is, these short novellas are an absolute delight to read. And, now that I’ve finished the fourth in this series I’m more than ready for Being Me. Which is just as well since it will be released in just a few days time.

This novella is part of the Inside Out Series and should be read after the following titles:

If I Were You
The Seduction
The Contract

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Pages: 376
Date: 30/05/2013
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 2 Stark Trilogy
              Received from Random House
              Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“For Damien, our obsession is a game. For me, it is fiercely, blindingly, real.

Damien Stark’s need is palpable—his need for pleasure, his need for control, his need for me. Beautiful and brilliant yet tortured at his core, he is in every way my match.

I have agreed to be his alone, and now I want him to be fully mine. I want us to possess each other beyond the sweetest edge of our ecstasy, into the deepest desires of our souls. To let the fire that burns between us consume us both.

But there are dark places within Damien that not even our wildest passion can touch. I yearn to know his secrets, yearn for him to surrender to me as I have surrendered to him. But our troubled pasts will either bind us close . . . or shatter us completely.”

I have to say I’m conflicted about this book. It is very well written, the story is captivating and the characters are intriguing; so far so good. And yet I can’t help feeling there is a lot wrong with this book as well. 

First of all there is the amount of sex; there is a lot of it. The characters in this book resort to sex for every occasion; when they’re celebrating something, when they’re upset, when they’re angry or just when they haven’t touched each other for what appears to be a few hours the clothes come off and the fun and games begin. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more words dedicated to sexy scenes in this book than to overall story-line. On the other hand, and much to the author’s credit, this didn’t read like the sort of book in which the story-line is only there to facilitate the sex-scenes. Those scenes seemed to fit both the story and the characters in it very well.

My second issue with this book (and its prequel, “Release Me”) is that it reminds me too much of the books by E.L. James and Sylvia Day. I couldn’t escape the feeling that I had read this book before (which I hadn’t) and that I knew exactly what would be happening next. On the other hand though, every time I feared the story was getting predictable the author surprised me and took a turn I hadn’t quite seen coming. That was a very pleasant surprise, especially since this meant that there wasn’t any of the forced drama that I encounter in a lot of romance and erotic book these days and which never fails to exasperate me.

But, I had the most problems with the two main characters in this story and their relationship. I realise this is, of course, a work of fiction but I can’t help looking at the story and the characters through realistic eyes. And if these two were a real-life couple and I knew them I would tell them to stay well away from each other. I’m all for two people falling for each other completely and without reservations, but that is not exactly what is happening in this story. This seems to be a sort of co-dependency and it scares me as much as it fascinates me.

“But I have come to need Damien as potently as the air I breathe, and I sometimes fear that while our desire is mutual, my need is one-sided.”

There were as many scenes in this book that made me melt as there were scenes that made me uncomfortable and at times even a bit angry. I mean did they really expect their secrets to remain known only to them?

Having said all of that though, I also have to admit that I couldn’t stop reading this story. Despite the fact that this story seemed all too familiar, despite my issues with the characters and even though the book might have benefitted from more story and less sex it did manage to captivate me. The only reason I ended up worrying about Nikki and Damien is because the author managed to make them realistic enough for me to care.

Another thing I really appreciate is that the author didn’t opt for a huge cliff-hanger to end this book with. Yes, there is definitely a huge issue that needs to be resolved, as well as several smaller ones but the book ended in what felt like a natural place rather than one designed to keep the reader on edge.

Which leads to one final question; will I be reading the third and final book in this trilogy? And the answer will have to be yes. Despite the fact that there can’t be any doubt about how this story is going to end, I want to experience that resolution with these characters. It is not so much about needing to know how they will get to their happy ever after but more about whether or not they will be able to resolve all their issues before they get there. So I guess it won’t be long before I read “Complete Me”.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Pages: 223
Date: 28/05/2013
Grade: 3
Details: Book Club read for Dialogues
            Through Literature

The blurb:

“The lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is the story of a respectable and religious piano teacher who has moved into a boarding-house in Belfast. Miss Hearne, like the house, has known better days. The landlady, her monstrous son and the other tenants make her nervous, but the landlady’s brother, Mr. Madden, seems attractive, possibly a suitable husband. Judith thinks he owns a hotel in New York, but in reality he is close to penniless and he has a drink problem. So does Judith. As her emotional and social life begins to fall apart, she also loses her grip on the faith that has sustained her. At last she does something shameful in a church.
Judith is an intensely sad heroine, but the way she is portrayed by Brian Moore is vibrant with life and dark comedy.”

A story without a single sympathetic, relatable or pleasant character in it is hard to like, and I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy this book very much. This is the second time I read this book and I really hoped that my dislike of it, the first time around, was due to me still being fairly unfamiliar with life in Ireland. Alas, it turned out that after another 10+ years in Ireland I don’t like this book any better than I did back then.

On the plus side I have to admit that this is a well written story. Brian Moore knows how to put a story together and build it up to its inevitable climax in a convincing and compelling way. For me to end up disliking the book and the characters in it as much as I did in this case both the story and people in it have to be written in a convincing manner.

My problem is that this story was compelling in the same way an accident or natural disaster can be hard to look away from; you can’t stop staring but feel kind of disgusted with yourself for not turning away. I mean, it is not unusual for me to come across a character I would love to slap around for a while. What is unusual is to read a book in which none of the characters appear to have any redeeming qualities. This book appears to be a study in human pettiness, determined to show-up the middle classes in Belfast about 50 years ago as small-minded, selfish and lacking in most forms of human decency. It really doesn’t matter which of the characters you look at; from Judith herself to her landlady, the landlady’s horrid son, the landlady’s brother returned from America and even the parish priest, everybody seemed to be thinking only of themselves, their own interest and the image they would like to uphold. It painted a very sad picture.  Although there were characters who, through their actions, appeared to show some human kindness near the end of the book you’d have to wonder if that was the result of their goodness or just to silence their guilty conscience.

Regardless of whether or not this book paints a faithful picture of Belfast in the 1950’s I can’t find many redeeming qualities in it, least of all the dark humour described in the blurb. And it is safe to say that I won’t be reading this book a third time, not for any reason or occasion.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


TITLE: MR GIG, One Man's Search for 
         the Soul of Live Music
Pages: 270
Date: 26/05/2013
Grade: 5
Details: Non-Fiction
            Received from Short Books
            Through Nudge

Ever since he started university in 1988 Nige Tassell had lived and breathed live music. He had been involved in the world of gigs in several different guises: student entertainments officer, roadie, dj support act, reviewer, and punter. Nige knows this world from almost every conceivable angle and his title of “Mr. Gig” was well deserved.

“And my relationship with live music was like a love affair – a steady, reliable one that occasionally bordered on the obsessive.”

But then fatherhood arrived and live music slipped away having fallen victim to the demands of parenthood.

Any music lover with a long history of going to live concerts will sympathise with the reasons Tassell gives for having lost the urge to continue going: “the astronomical ticket prices”, “the sea of mobile phones obscuring the view”, “the incessant chatter of those in the crowd who believe a gig is a social gathering and the live band is a mere accompaniment to that” and “having to stand in a muddy field several hundred yards away from the stage, only able to see your distant heroes on a big screen” are only a few of the, all too recognisable, examples listed in this book.

“Why is the success of a band measured by how small they look from the cheap seats?”

And so, with mid-life looming large, Tassell decides to have another look at live-gigs. He has a few questions he would like to answer for himself, the most crucial being:

“Is the mosh-pit an appropriate place for a tubby, bald man on the dark side of 40?”

Tassell’s quest begins with The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, to give the event its proper name, where he is immediately confronted by the dreaded sea of mobile phones trying to capture performances and ends up pondering:

“…how if you’re capturing the experience of watching a band by taking a few dozen photos or shooting some video’s you’re going to be seeing a large part of the gig through your phone screen.”

But, overall, his first outing back on the gig circuit can be called a success; Mr. Tassell enjoyed himself and even found a few examples of how the modern day version is an improvement on the Glastonbury of his (very wet and muddy) memories.

But this book is more than a commentary on gigs and the differences between live performances in the past and the present. This book is about the whole music industry and the huge transformation it has undergone. For (a rather stark) example:

“Previously bands toured (…) to promote and flog their new record. Now, increasingly, the role of a new release – whether physical or digital – seems to be to indicate that a bunch of live dates are imminent.”

Furthermore, this book shatters a few illusions many people may have about those who make it in the music industry. A hit single is not a get-rich-quick-scheme. It can take bands years, if not decades, to pay off the production and promotion costs associated with bringing out an album. A lot of albums never sold enough copies to bring the artists who created them any royalties at all. Maybe this is a bit of advice that should be shared with all those hopefuls applying for shows like The X-Factor, hoping for fame and fortune. While the fame may come, the fortune may prove more elusive. Heck, maybe this book should be compulsory reading for everybody auditioning.

With Nige Tassell the reader takes a look at, among others, an eighties revival festival, bands that have reformed despite splitting up most acrimoniously in the past, a tribute band (shock-horror?), arena concerts, big festivals, small festivals, exclusive festivals, posh festivals… Who knew there were so many different sorts of festivals and concerts, just in Britain? And it is not just the performances themselves that are put under the microscope. Through talks with organisers, performers and background staff the reader gets a really good insight into what goes into organising an event and what it is that motivates people to stay on the circuit despite the mad schedules and, at times, obscure locations.

And Tassell discovers that his cynicism may have been misplaced, his reluctance unnecessary. The music industry may have changed, and he may not like some of the modern day aspects of it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are worse now; they’re just different. But then again, so is he. But that doesn’t mean that Mr. Gig can’t follow the example of so many artists and make a come-back.

As I hope the description above makes clear, this is a charming and engaging look at live music in our time. It is an at times laugh-out-loud funny analysis of the differences between the music scene in the eighties and the early 21st century. If anything shines through this book is Nige Tassell’s love and devotion for music and those who perform it. This is a book for anybody who loves their music, enjoys live performances and cherishes their memories of times gone by because they will recognise the sentiments so eloquently described by our Mr. Gig.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Pages: 294
Date: 23/05/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 2 Bannon and Clare Case
            Received from Orbit
            Through Nudge

Archibald Clare is a Mentath, a genius detective with exceptional powers of observation and deduction. Emma Bannon is his opposite in every way. She is a Prime sorceress who has only gotten more powerful after the events in The Iron Wyrm Affair. According to established wisdom these two polar opposites shouldn’t be able to work together, after all magic and logic are opposing forces. In practice though Bannon and Clare form a talented and successful team when it comes to investigating crimes against the Empire.

When Queen Victrix instructs Emma to find and return a missing doctor in possession of a deadly new weapon, she turns to Clare for assistance. And it isn’t long before they discover that this new weapon is powerful enough to bring death and destruction not just to Londinium but to the whole world. And with no known cure, not even our heroes are immune to the poison that is about to be released. Because once the red plague has been unleashed upon the capital, nobody, regardless of their rank or position will be able to escape its deadly power.

And so we find ourselves back in what is the steampunk version of Victorian England. Imaginative and well developed this world is both very recognisable and completely alien. Lilith Saintcrow makes clever use of historical facts and figures, both fictional and real, although she changes them enough to ensure that the reader never forgets that they are inhabiting an alternate universe.

Archibald Clare is strongly based on Sherlock Holmes, something which is emphasized with sentences such as:

“It is elementary, sir.”

And when a character named Kim Finchwilliam Rudyard is introduced it shouldn’t surprise anyone when he states:

“The female of her species is deadly.”

In many ways the author has taken events and people to fantastical new heights. Archibald Clare is not just an exceptionally clever man he is a member of an exclusive and specially trained group of talented people, born with extreme mental powers. The Queen, Victrix, is the chosen vessel of Britannia, the ever continuing spirit ruling the Empire and as such two different creatures; one human and vulnerable the other ruthless and indestructible. And the same is true for the various districts of Londinium. With names close enough to those we are familiar with, they resemble their real world counterparts while at the same time being something more; darker, more sinister or brighter. In fact, the author has given the reader the opportunity to engage in two mysteries. There is the disaster our two heroes have to try to divert and then there is the quest to trace characters and places back to their Victorian original.

Bannon and Clare are fully-fleshed and fascinating characters to read about. Observing how they work together, despite their differences, watching them develop ever increasing respect for the others’ exceptional powers and witnessing them dealing with the feelings they may or may not have about each other is a pure delight.

While it isn’t absolutely necessary to read “The Iron Wyrm Affair” before starting this book I would advice readers to do so. This alternate Victorian world is well established and explained in the first book and some events from the first story are referred to in a manner that relies on the reader being aware of what happened in the first book.

This is not a light or a fast read. Fascinating and thrilling as it is, it pays to take your time while reading this book. The characters, the world they move in and the mysteries they’re up against all are multi-facetted. It is easy to miss hints and clues if you allow yourself to get caught up in the heat of the chase and start turning the pages too fast. This is a good thing though since it gives the book an added depth. The language used in this book is also slightly different from what we are used to. While this certainly helps to keep the reader rooted in the alternate world, it also means that real attention needs to be paid to what is actually being said.

This is more than just another intriguing mystery set in an alternate Victorian England; this is a well thought out tale in a fully realised world with characters that are as intriguing as they are relatable. In short, this is a fascinating story and imaginative book.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rebecca's Lost Journals: HIS SUBMISSIVE

Pages: 52
Date: 19/05/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: Rebecca’s Lost Journals no. 3
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“In part three of Rebecca’s Lost Journals, His Submissive , Rebecca must decide just how far she will go for the darkly intense man who she is falling in love with. And does she dare believe that he too, will ever love her?”

Most of my reviews contain almost exclusively my thoughts on a certain book. Occasionally, when a certain sentence is very descriptive of the story or my thoughts, I may quote from the story. For this book I’m going to make an exception. I will be using quotes from this novella as the basis for my review. My thoughts will be draped around the quotes so to speak.

When this third installment of the Lost Journals starts, Rebecca appears to have made up her mind. Yes, she does want what her Master has to offer, she feels ready to sign the contract and wear his ring. When she sends him proof of her decision, her Master’s reaction is not what she expects at all though. Rather than delight at her willingness to submit, she is confronted with anger; Master is not impressed with her making this decision based on so little knowledge of what she is actually agreeing to.

“I’ll teach you what each point in the contract means. Then we will negotiate the final terms. But know this. When you put that ring back on, there will be no holding back for either of us.”

And that is exactly what happens, starting with punishment for her rash and unsanctioned decision. As a result, Rebecca once again finds herself questioning her attraction to this man, which is undeniable:

“There’s this subtle energy that seems to crackle in the air, and I know I’m not the only person who feels it.”

But, while her lack of control when it comes to Him worries Rebecca, she can’t deny the satisfaction she finds at his hands:

“I will push you to your limit, Rebecca, but I will always leave you thoroughly pleasured.”

On the other hand, as Rebecca writes in her journal:

“I want to know all parts of me. I have to know myself to control my life and destiny. But does that mean “he” is the right man to help me make that journey?”

This certainly is a good question and from what I’ve seen of Him in the Journals so far, I can’t say I’m convinced this man is what Rebecca needs. However, because we only see him through Rebecca’s eyes and journal entries it is quite likely that we are not given an objective description of Him. And, to his credit, He does appear to go out of his way to explain his demands and actions to his apprentice sub

“A choice to hand over control under agreed upon terms is not only control itself, but the freedom to let go and escape reality when you otherwise wouldn’t.”

And while He makes a point of taking her out of her comfort zone - because pushing Rebecca’s limits will be a huge part of their relationship - the fact that he always seems to have her pleasure as his ultimate goal does make matters easier for her.

It takes a lot of soul searching but in the end Rebecca comes to the conclusion that no matter what her reservations, and regardless of her doubts and fears there is only one logical outcome to her dilemma:

“Yes in that bed, I knew him as master more than I ever had, and I understood the escape that came from giving him that control, and the pleasure he promised would come with it.”

I like what Lisa Renee Jones has been doing in these journals so far. She gives the reader a wonderful and believable insight into one woman’s journey into what is for her unchartered and frightening territory. Most, if not all, of us will have experienced situations in which the demands of our hearts seem to be in conflict with those of our mind. Watching Rebecca trying to find a balance between the two is proving to be a very enjoyable journey.

This book is part of the Inside Out Series and is best read after reading the prequels in the following order:

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Pages: 386
Date: 17/05/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: Reincarnationist Series # 5
          Received from Atria
          Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

Blurb from the author’s site:
"A gothic tale about Victor Hugo's long-buried secrets
and the lengths we go to for love...
In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo's beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, still grieving, Hugo initiated hundreds of séances from his home on the Isle of Jersey in order to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo's transcriptions of these conversations have all been published.

Or so it has been believed...

Recovering from a great loss, mythologist Jac L'Etoile thinks that throwing herself into work will distract her from her grief. In the hopes of uncovering a secret about the island's mysterious Celtic roots, she arrives on the Isle of Jersey and is greeted by ghostly Neolithic monuments, medieval castles, and hidden caves.

But the man who's invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, hopes she'll help him discover something quite different—transcripts of Hugo's lost conversations with someone he called the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Central to his heritage, these are the papers his grandfather died trying to find.

But what neither Jac or Theo anticipate is that the mystery surrounding Victor Hugo will threaten their sanity and put their very lives at stake."

Before I start on my thoughts about this book I should probably point out that I only read one previous title in this series: The Reincarnationist.  Although it is quite possible that I missed connections because I didn’t read all the previous books, I can safely say that I didn’t feel as if I was missing out on vital information. While I can’t be sure that reading all the books in sequence wouldn’t have increased my enjoyment of this book, I can safely say that this book can be read and is very enjoyable as a stand-alone title.

“Every story begins with a tremble of anticipation. At the starting point we may have an idea of our point of arrival. But what lies before us and makes us shudder is the journey.”

This book gives the reader a perfect combination of straightforward thrills and supernatural elements. It doesn’t become clear where the story is taking the reader until the very end of the book. But, while the resolution comes as a surprise, it does come as a logical, yet unexpected, conclusion of the narrative.  

When Jac discovers a letter addressed to her from Theo, a man she hasn’t seen or heard from since she was fourteen she jumps on the opportunity to travel to Jersey and help him unravel a mystery linking back to the time of the Celts and Druids. But when she and Theo first met, both teenagers had big issues and Jac can’t quite remember the events leading up to the moment when they were suddenly and seemingly permanently separated.

Reunited, despite strong opposition from the man who treated them when they were teenagers, both Theo and Jac are once again struggling with traumatic personal issues. Searching for the mystery manuscript, allegedly hidden on the Island by Victor Hugo, provides them with an opportunity to concentrate on something other than the losses they have suffered. But all is not well; Theo appears as troubled as he ever was and Jac, once again, finds herself haunted by visions she can’t control.

“Now he was thirty-three and seemed almost ruined.”

Solving this mystery will not only answer questions about Victor Hugo’s time on Jersey, it will also provide both Jac and Theo with answers they need in order to move forward in their life.

The story in this book is told in two, alternating, storylines. We get an insight to Victor Hugo’s time and struggles on Jersey through his (hidden) notebooks. The story about Jac, Theo and the quest they’re on links into Hugo’s story but goes much further because their mystery has roots in more ancient times. The combination of history, mystery, supernatural occurrences and human relationships make this an intriguing, fast moving and multi-layered story. And I haven’t even mentioned the links to perfume and scents yet.

“Her father always used to talk about how scent connects us to a past we can’t always see, that seems lost but can so easily be conjured up and found.”

M.J. Rose writes beautiful books. Her writing is thoughtful, descriptive and clear. It is easy to see the landscapes she describes and it is almost possible to smell the scents from their descriptions. She manages to give her readers a fascinating and thrilling story without ever compromising on background in favour of shocks. Too often these days it seems readers have to choose between beautiful and descriptive writing and thrilling adventures. Mrs. Rose manages to give her readers both without compromising on either, which means we are treated to reading enjoyment on every level. On a personal note it means that this reader will now have to go back and read all the books she has managed to miss in this series; something I look forward to with delight.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Pages: 56
Date: 11/05/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: After Graduation #1
Own / Kindle

When “Brie Learns the Art of Submission” – a book you have to read before starting this one – ends, we are left with Brie and her chosen Master leaving the graduation event. The elevator doors close and.. “The end”.

I don’t know about anybody else, but there are times when I find myself frustrated when a book ends and we don’t know what happens next. And this was one of those occasions. It is all well and good that Brie ends up with the man she has chosen as her Master, but his initial reluctance, the short time they have known each other and the fact that she has only had a few weeks training as a submissive under her belt left me wondering how this relationship would develop in the real world, away from the training centre.

Don’t get me wrong; I quite enjoy fantasizing about what happens to favourite characters after a book ends, but in this case the possibilities seemed too limitless. And thankfully, I won’t have to rely on my imagination since Red Phoenix is continuing Brie’s story.

And so we see Brie and her new Master, Thane, travelling from the training centre to his impressive apartment where our favourite sub soon learns that although her official training may be over, and she may have finished top of her class, she still has a lot to learn. She may know the general rules when it comes to being a sub, now she has to learn how to apply what she has learned in her everyday relationship with her Master and, more importantly, his personal desires and requirements.

Things get off to a promising start with both Master and sub delighted to be together and enjoy what they bring to their relationship. The depth of Master’s feelings for Brie becomes very clear when he decides to call her Téa, which is Italian for angel. And when her Master tells Brie some painful details about his past it becomes very clear that he loves and trusts her. Things get more complicated though when Faelan approaches Brie and she decides to keep the encounter to herself. Brie still has a lot to learn and her first lesson is that no punishment is more painful than the act of disappointing her Master is.

I have to say I really love Brie’s journey. Apart from the fact that these stories are well written with credible characters and an imaginative story-line I adore the way in which the reader is allowed to be part of Brie’s development.
I’m impressed with the way Red Phoenix manages to show real character development and growth in a story that is mainly sex-driven. It was impossible for me not to get involved in and touched by Brie’s emotions, discoveries and soul searching. Brie’s actions are credible and understandable and it is wonderful to watch her work out exactly what her Master wants and expects from her.

I’m still not, and probably never will be, a huge fan of books delivered in instalments. Some stories however are too enticing to wait until the full book is available. And Brie’s life with her new Master is one of those stories that will have me buying the separate parts, against my better judgement.


Saturday, May 11, 2013


Pages: 372
Date: 11/05/2013
Grade: 3.5
Details: Received from Corvus Books
           Through Nudge

Susan Street is ambitious. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, she won’t do to get her dream job. She is determined to become the editor of the Sunday Best newspaper. When the book starts it seems that she may have achieved her goal. The current editor is lying in hotel bed where he has spent his last living minutes having sex with her, and if she had a hand in his demise, she’s is quick to destroy the evidence before calling in the authorities.

Picture Susan’s disappointment when she arrives back in the office only to find that the paper has a new owner and Tobias X Pope has no intention of just giving the editor’s job to her, at least not without her fulfilling a few of his demands. Pope will set Susan six tasks, all devised to break her. If she completes all of them, the job will be hers. If she breaks before she has come to the end of the last task, she will have lost everything.

Susan Street is ambitious. She’s come from nowhere and has done whatever happened to be necessary to make it as far as she has, and she has no intention of giving up on her dream now, regardless of what the price might be. And so she allows Pope to take her on a depraved journey, designed to humiliate and destroy her. From a tattoo parlour in London, to Rio and from Sun City, via New York to Thailand, Susan submits to all sorts of deprived sexual acts, keeping her eye on the prize all the time.

The rest of Susan’s life refuses to sit on the backburner while she working on her career though. The relationship with the man she’s living with goes from indifferent to worse, she falls in love and lust with Pope’s son and rivals and enemies old and new are determined to destroy her any whichever way they can.

Susan’s life has just become a lot more interesting and scandalous than the stories she edits. A happy ending seems unlikely.

The front cover blurb from the author herself announces that this book

“Makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like Anne of Green Gables”

And I guess that is one way of putting is. Except that there really is nothing in this book that resembles the Fifty Shades book. E.L. James’ book was a romance, be it a steamy one. This book is nothing like a romance. In fact it is quite the opposite of a romantic tale. While there is a lot of quite shocking sex in this book there is a distinct lack of intimacy and romance. The characters in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ evoked emotions in the reader and showed character development as the story went on. The characters in this book read more like caricatures of a time – the 1980’s and cling unashamedly to their lack of morals. There is absolutely no doubt what sort of a man Tobias X Pope is. He fires Susan seconds after throwing a glass of water over her chest only to call her that evening and offer her the job back. What do you mean, playing her? And when they meet in a restaurant the following statement by him removes all doubt about his character:

“Punctuality! One of the great virtues! (…) And so much more important than all those milk-and-water so-called virtues like honesty, decency and loyalty. I call those vices: soul-sapping things only to be indulged in by those who’ve cancelled their subscription to the human race.”

And he makes no secret of his intentions either:

“You do what I want, and you get what you want. Or you break”

And the same is true for Susan. If she ever had a heart she’s learned how to hide it well. Susan is not just ambitions; she is ambition personified. She has no shame and no scruples when it comes to achieving her goals. There are one or two occasions when it seems like things like morals and friendship might halt her progress but her drive to succeed manages to squash such feeble sentiments before she finds herself in real danger of having to give up on her dream. Having said that, she did make me smile on quite a few occasions:

“Taking the dirt out of sex seems to me as self-defeating as taking the taste out of food.”

This may be a sex filled book; it is not a sexy read. I found nothing tantalising or exciting in the descriptions of the scenes Susan finds herself in. In fact, I can’t help feeling that they were written to shock the reader. But then again, that can be said for the rest of the book too. A reader picking up this book hoping to find a story in which loves brings redemption, or a read that will titillate and excite them will end up disappointed. Read this book as a hard-hitting, well written, at times funny but also shocking portrayal of the (lack of) morals during the Yuppie era, and you have a fascinating experience on your hands.