Saturday, June 29, 2013


Pages: 356
Date: 29/06/2013
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 3 Crossfire
              Received from Penguin
              Through Nudge

“Day one of my life was the day I met you.” – Gideon

And so the story of Gideon and Eva continues. There is a lot I would like to say about this story, but I’m conscious of how easy it would be to not only spoil this story, but also things revealed in “Reflected in You” so I’m going to have to be a bit vague.

Officially Eva and Gideon are separated. With a police investigation in progress it would be dangerous for them to advertise their connection for the world to see. Yet being apart proves to be as impossible as being together is inadvisable.

“Letting you go would kill me, but I wouldn’t hurt you to keep you.” - Gideon to Eva

Spending time together means keeping secrets from those closest to Eva though, something which makes her uncomfortable. To add to the pressure there are the women who seem to pursue Gideon. We have Corinne, Gideon’s former fiancée who is determined to get him back even though he makes it clear that he is no longer interested in her and she is married to somebody else. And there is Deanna Johnson, a journalist with a grudge against Gideon who is on a quest to bring him down and doesn’t care what she has to do to achieve her goal. And while Eva is getting a better grip on all her insecurities and does, deep in her heart, know and trust that Gideon only wants her, she still can’t stop herself from worrying about their relationship.

Gideon, however, isn’t the only one whose past won’t leave him alone. A blast from Eva’s past in the form of Brett, the up and coming rock star, is determined to get her back. And while she doesn’t have any deep feelings for him, she can’t quite refuse to stay in contact with him nor stop her body from reacting to his voice or presence.

And then there are the people surrounding these two. Eva’s best friend Cary is still juggling two partners and getting into an ever deeper mess because of it. Eva’s father is upset and angry when he finally learns the truth about Eva’s past and the secrets that have been kept from him while her mother seems to be upsetting Eva with almost everything she does.

Through it all and despite all the obstacles Eva and Gideon prove to be an unstoppable force. And while it is clear that their troubles are not quite over and they find themselves with more secrets to keep, they do find their way back to each other, not just in private but also in public.

No, I do not consider that last paragraph a spoiler. After all, it has been clear from the first book that these two characters will end up together and get their happily ever after, no matter how long it may take.

And so we come across my biggish issue with this book. This was supposed to be the third and final instalment in a trilogy. Except that now it isn’t. Turns out that there will be two more Crossfire books before this story ends, and I have my doubts about that particular decision. For all intents and purposes the story of Eva and Gideon has been told by the time this book ends, because by then they have committed themselves to each other as completely as they possibly can.

“You own me, Eva. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I belong to you.” – Gideon


“I can’t live without you Eva. I can’t imagine even trying. Just the thought makes me insane.” – Gideon

Yes, it is clear that they will still face issues in the future, but then, what relationship doesn’t? Which begs the question, what will Sylvia Day be writing about in the two books that are, apparently, still to come? Is she going to create more drama for her two heroes, or will we be reading about the issues that trouble the secondary characters? I’m not sure I’m interested in either if I’m honest. Secondary characters should be just that: secondary, while piling more misery on Gideon and Eva feels like over-kill.

Don’t get me wrong; I really hope Sylvia Day pulls it off. I like the way she writes, I enjoy her stories, her characters and the heat between them. And that is part of the dilemma for me. I’m not convinced that it will be possible to drag this story out without me falling out of love with it while I also can’t deny that I will probably enjoy indulging in more of Eva and Gideon’s passion.

So, where does that leave me and my opinion about this book?

First and foremost, this is, once again, a well written, gripping, very sexy and easy to read book. The story is as captivating as it has been from the start and the writing is so smooth that the pages almost turn themselves. While Eva and Gideon can be infuriating as a couple, they are equally intriguing and reading about the two of them is, for the most, a joy. So I will be reading the fourth book when it comes out and reserve my judgement until then. I really hope that Sylvia Day proves me wrong. I want the decision to extend this series beyond a trilogy to be story-driven rather than a cynical exercise in money-making. I have no idea what the future books will bring, but for now I’m willing to give this author the benefit of the doubt.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Pages: 400
Date: 25/06/2013
Grade: 5
Details: No. 1 Original Sinners, The Red Years
Own / Kindle / Paperback

The blurb from the author’s website:

“Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she's sure it'll be her breakout book…if it ever sees the light of day.
Zachary Easton holds Nora's fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it's no deal.
Nora's grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining…and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him…or returning to his bed?
Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.”

I have to admit that, as a rule, I don’t do re-reads. Why read a story you already know when there are so many new books to discover? Well, I guess this book and its two sequels provide the answer to that question; you re-read a book because it is impossible not to do so, because it is the only way you can make sure that you will do the final book in the series justice and because regardless of how many new books may be waiting for your attention, the urge to go back to the start is just too strong.

Since this is a re-read I’m not going to do a proper review again. If you’re interested in my thoughts on this book you can have a look at the original review. And, if you do, you’ll notice that my grade for the book today is slightly higher than it was the first time around. That is because back then I read the book too fast. I got so caught up in the story, so desperate to find out how it would end that I missed a lot of the detail and beauty I did catch this time. And yet, although this was a re-read I still had to force myself to take it slow. The urge to rush on, an urge created by the tension in the story and my connection to the characters, was (almost) as strong as it was the first time, even if I knew how the story was going to end.

So, no proper review this time; instead I’m going to share some of my favourite quotes from this book; sentences that touched me, described feelings I recognised or just blew me away with their beauty.  I may include some stray thoughts here and there when I feel like it, but apart from the blurb above I probably won’t say a whole lot about the story, except that it is brilliant and even more so on re-reading.

There were times that I wanted to kick myself while reading this book again. How did I not realise that “The Angel” was about Mick. The clue is in The Siren. I know it is only one sentence but when Nora says to Michael “You are, angel” that’s your hint, right there! Of course, my big fear is that I have yet again managed to miss clues and hints; my big fear and yet something I’m almost sure about.

Chapter Two, Nora makes her entrance and a grin appears on my face. A grin that grows wider whenever she opens her mouth and refuses to completely disappear, even after I put the book down. Except of course, for those moments when she managed to break my heart and I found myself with tears in my eyes. But that is Nora for you:

“You told me to stop writing what I knew and start writing what I wanted to know. I want to know…you.” (Nora to Zach)

“I sin boldly” – Nora.

“He’s the only man who never hurt me.” Nora about Søren.

“The most familiar darkness…her darkness…she was home.”

Or, as Søren would put it:

How easily you forgive, Eleanor. How freely you absolve the sins of others. Tell me, little one, when the time comes, how will you absolve yours?”


“Eleanor, there are suicide bombers on the Gaza Strip who are less dangerous than you are.”

Because this book takes you on an emotional roller-coaster ride the likes of which you rarely experience in fiction. Laugh out loud to cry out loud may only take a paragraph, smiles turn into frowns and back again and through it all complete and utter awe. Awe at the mastery of Tiffany Reisz’ words, the vividness of her characters, the realness of her world. A world I’ve all but lost myself in. But who can blame me when you’re confronted by writing like this:

“He kissed her like her mouth was his mouth, her lips were his lips, her tongue was his tongue. They were one flesh.”

“When Søren touched her she became his. When Wesley touched her, she became herself.”

“We can only sacrifice so much of ourselves in a relationship before there’s nothing left to love or be loved.” (This quote made me think and be eternally grateful for reasons I won’t go into here.)

“Broken love is the most dangerous love. It will slice you open with every touch.”

And for what is probably the best sentence in this book:

“There are only two reasons why you leave someone you’re still in love with – either it’s the right thing to do, or it’s the only thing to do.”

Since I first read “The Siren”, I’ve read “The Angel” and “The Prince” as well as all available short stories about the Original Sinners. I can’t begin to explain how much my reading experience was enhanced by the fact that I knew all the characters better than I had that first time. In fact, it’s a bit like having sex; it only improves as you get to know each other better.

I have seen this book described as “literary smut”, and I couldn’t agree more except that the word “smut” doesn’t seem to encompass enough to describe this book. But, if the Dutch can have “literary thriller” as an established genre I don’t know why we can’t have “literary smut” as well. And while we’re at it, I suggest we make Tiffany Reisz its Mistress.

And on that note I think my non-review is long enough. I could have gone on endlessly with my quotes. I’ve got at least another fifteen that I would love to share. But that defeats the purpose of this piece. If you haven’t gotten the message yet that this is a brilliant book, you never will. And that would be your loss. Books/series this good are few and far between; don’t deprive yourself. Buy them, read them and love them!

“You’re beautiful enough and wild enough that you make me think things I never thought I would think again and feel things I didn’t think I’d feel again. And you make me afraid I’ll start forgetting things I don’t ever want to forget.” Zach to Nora

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Pages: 292
Date: 25/06/2013
Grade: 4
Details: Book Club read for Dialogues
              Through Literature

The blurb:

“In 1914, Willie Dunne, barely eighteen years old, leaves behind Dublin, his family, and the girl he plans to marry in order to enlist in the Allied forces and face the Germans on the Western Front. Once there, he encounters a horror of violence and gore he could not have imagined and sustains his spirit with only the words on the pages from home and the camaraderie of the mud-covered Irish boys who fight and die by his side.  Dimly aware of the political tensions that have grown in Ireland in his absence, Willie returns on leave to find a world split and ravaged by forces closer to home. Despite the comfort he finds with his family, he knows he must rejoin his regiment and fight until the end.”

Wow, this was a difficult book to read. I’ve rarely read a book so filled with heartbreak, violence, despair and darkness.

Willie Dunne is a wonderful character; an admirable young man living in Dublin with his father, who is a superintendent with the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and his three sisters. Disappointed not to be tall enough to join the police himself, Willie finds joy in his job as a builder, his loving family, and Gretta, the girl he wants to marry one day.  When the First World War breaks out Willie doesn’t hesitate for long and decides to sign up. And that is where the nightmare starts. The optimists who liked to think this would be a short war and an easy victory for England and its allies turned out to be very wrong. While Willie might have feared that he wouldn’t be finished training soon enough to join the fighting, it isn’t long before he finds himself wishing that those fears had come true. Because Flanders in the years from 1914 until 1918 was a living nightmare and young Willie was there for almost all of that time. And we, the readers, get to join Willie Dunne as his youthful optimism is transformed through pessimism into despair.

And the war on the continent is not the only form of upheaval impacting on Willie Dunne’s life. While he is fighting with the British Army in Belgium, the Nationalists rise in Dublin. With those Nationalists seeing the Germans as their allies since the Brits are the enemy, the big question becomes where does that leave Willie and the other Irish volunteers. And since Willie is “a long long way” from home, trying to come to terms with that dilemma is near impossible. By the time the end comes around there is little to nothing left of the happy boy who joined the army. And the one thing that could have made his heavy load a little lighter arrives too late to bring him any comfort.

This is a powerful story of the horrors of war, of values slowly disappearing, of loyalty – to yourself, to each other, to your country, your faith, your ideals – and the loss thereof, of the nightmare that is a war between young men, fighting for ideas they know very little about for all the wrong reasons.

This book reads like a long listing of misery. In fact, even the writing itself at times sounds like the author is compiling a list; sentence after sentence starting with “and then”. It makes a point because four years of pure nightmarish misery is of course exactly what the First World War was, what every war is. It does make this a very difficult book to read though. By the time I reached page 200 I had to start forcing myself to keep on turning the pages.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course I don’t expect a book about war to bring me a happy story. But I have read enough books about war and destruction to recognize this one as particularly bleak. And perhaps that is the sort of story the world should be reading. Because we still have young people going to join conflicts in countries they don’t know anything about for reasons they don’t understand to obey masters who have no idea about the hell they’re sending their youngsters into. All of that still doesn’t mean that I enjoyed reading this book. I’m glad I did, but I don’t think I’ll ever look at this book again. Because some stories, no matter how well written, are just too heart-breaking to read twice:

“Between your own countrymen deriding you for being in the army, and the army deriding you for your own slaughter a man didn’t know what to be thinking. A man’s mind could be roaring out in pain of a sort. The fact that the war didn’t make a jot of sense anymore hardly came into it.”

Or, in the words of the song The Green Fields of France:

But here in this graveyard it's still no mans land
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
To a whole generation that were butchered and dammed

Well Will Mc Bride I can’t help wonder why
Do those that lie here know why did they die
And did they believe when they answered the call
Did they really believe that this war would end war

Well the sorrow the suffering the glory the pain
The killing the dying was all done in vain
For young Willy Mc Bride it all happened again
And again,and again,and again,and again

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Pages: 309
Date: 23/06/2013
Grade: 4
Details: Received from Penguin Ireland
              Through Nudge

“You wouldn’t know it but it’s my story. You won’t find me in the column inches. You won’t find me in the newsprint. You’ll find me in the gaps, the commas, the full stops – the small dark spaces where one thing led to another.”

Although the quote above relates specifically to one of the characters in this book, it is an accurate description for the whole book. This story is told with as much eloquence through everything that isn’t spelled out as it is through the words on the pages.

This story tells the tale of a small town in Ireland during a hot summer late in the 1930’s. It shows us the events that slowly, deceptively but steadily led towards heartbreak and destruction after two strangers arrive in town.

The first stranger was Don Vikram Fernandez, a dark-skinned travelling herbalist. Although he is looked at with suspicion by almost everyone in the town when he first arrives it isn’t long before, especially the town’s women, find that the potions and lotions he has on offer are something they can’t live without.

The only person to immediately take to Don Vikram is young Emily. Seventeen years young and having just lost her mother, Emily is an adventurous and romantic spirit. Although most people in town look down on her, Emily refuses to let that get her down or destroy her dreams. Young and lonely as she is it doesn’t take a lot of the herbalist’s attention or many of his enticing fantasies to make the girl believe herself deeply in love with him and him with her. When her feelings come up against her sense of justice, Emily finds herself with an huge and important decision to take.

The second stranger is Sarah. Having been raised in the country-side by her midwife aunt after her mother died in childbirth, Sarah finds herself transported into the town after the school-master, her secret boyfriend’s father, arranges a job for her there in his sister’s shop. The night before she leaves her aunt’s house, a big party is held in her honour; a party that will have far reaching consequences for Sarah and for the town she’s about to move to.

Carmel owns the shop where Sarah is about to start working. Having just lost her much longed for son in a still-birth, Carmel is deeply unhappy and more than ready to retreat into her bedroom to nurse her depression and read her kinky and forbidden novels. Ignoring her much younger husband as well as her shop and home will have far-reaching consequences and not just for her.

Young Rose is the beautiful and privileged daughter of the local doctor. Always kept close by her mother, Rose seems to have the spoiled and perfect life other girls can only dream about. But all is not well in paradise and by the time the truth is discovered it will too late for this young woman.

Observing it all is Aggie. Woman of ill repute, fortune teller and spiritualist it is Aggie who sees and knows it all. Unable to interfere she is able to share her knowledge and pearls of wisdom with the reader and in the process comfort the dead.

“There is a time in everyone’s life when you leave behind who you were born to be and become what life makes of you, or you of it.”

This is a beautiful and fascinating book. It captures the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small town in Ireland in the 1930’s with an accuracy that is almost painful. In this town, where it is impossible to be invisible, where opinions are formed to remain in place indefinitely and where the moral high-ground is held by those who least deserve to reside there, it wouldn’t take a lot to disturb the apparent peace and quiet.

What really impressed me is how the author managed to keep the upcoming drama below the surface for so long. While the reader is well aware that disaster is only around the corner – or a few turned pages away – the tone of the story is smooth and almost distant. Nothing is spelled out in detail. The reader has to read between the lines and draw the conclusions that aren’t spelled out. While there is a constant under current of pending doom, the story is told in whispers; the same sort of whispers that would give voice to gossip in a town like this. As a result, the story is told through the words that aren’t on the pages just as much as the words that are actually there. And some of those words are gorgeous:

“Sarah loved opening the shop, loved the way the light lit the silence first thing in the morning.”

Maybe there was a bit too much foreshadowing at the end of the chapters as in, for example, maybe she should’ve listened more carefully”.  I understand that this would have been done to up the tension but I don’t think the book needed it. The tone of the story, and all the things that weren’t said or explained made it perfectly clear that we were heading for some sort of climax; the extra hints weren’t necessary in my opinion.

The characters in this book are fascinating, especially since you hear the story from several different perspectives. At first glance it would appear that their problems are very much a product of the time they’re living in, but if you think again not a whole lot has changed. Women who have lost a much wanted baby are still expected to “snap out of it”. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are still viewed with suspicion and mistrusted. Unplanned pregnancies are still a thing to be frowned upon. This is a thought provoking story about women; their strengths and weaknesses in the face of everything life and the people around them may throw at them.

According to the publisher’s information this story is based on real events in 1930s Ireland. I thought about researching what those real events might have been but decided that there really was no need. As much as this story is set in the past and as much as we may read this book and be horrified by the events described, it has to be said that not so much has changed since then. This is still a country where thousands of women feel the need to flee to England every year, where abortion remains illegal under all circumstances and many would refuse a woman that right even if would mean putting her life at risk. Eighty years later so little has changed that this story is far more contemporary than it should be. And that alone makes this a book well worth reading.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Pages: 528
Date: 19/06/2013
Grade: 5+
Details: No. 2 The Angelus Trilogy
               Received from Penguin Group/
               Blue Rider Press through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The Blurb:

“Two years after the battle at Lausanne Cathedral, the War of Shadows goes on...

Jay Harper, one of the last ‘angels’ on Planet Earth, is still hunting down the half-breeds and goons who infected Paradise with evil. Intercepting a plot to turn half of Paris into a dead zone, Harper ends up on the wrong side of the law and finds himself a wanted man. That doesn’t stop his commander, Inspector Gobet of the Swiss Police, from sending him back to Paris on a recon mission... a mission that uncovers the mystery of an ancient gift to mankind, born of angels at Montségur, the last fortress of the Cathars.

Katherine Taylor and her two year old son Max are living in a small town in the American Northwest. It’s a quiet life. She runs a candle shop and spends her afternoons drinking herbal teas, imagining the crooked little man in the belfry of Lausanne Cathedral, the man who believed Lausanne was a hideout for lost angels. And there was someone else, someone she can’t quite remember... as if he was there, and not there at the same time.

A man with a disfigured face emerges from the shadows.  His name is Astruc, a defrocked priest wanted for murder; he's obsessed with the immortal souls of men.  Like a voice crying in the wilderness, he warns the time of The Prophecy is at hand...a prophecy that calls for sacrifice of a child born of light...”

“The religions and flags of men mean nothing to me, or those like me. Religions and flags come under the heading of free will. We can’t make those sorts of choices for men. It’s a certain breed of evil hiding behind the religions and flags, the ones who sow fear and greed among men, that we’re interested in.”

WOW! What a book! What an imagination and what a story!

When I read The Watchers almost a year ago I was blown away by the book. The idea behind the story was original, well thought out and brilliantly delivered. When I discovered that the book was the first part of a trilogy I was both delighted and a little bit afraid; would the author be able to live up to the expectations he had created in book one? And, before I go on, if you haven’t read The Watchers yet, please do so before starting this book. You will probably enjoy this book without having read the first book but not nearly as much as you will if you know the back-story.

I shouldn’t have worried. Angel City is at least as good as The Watchers and pushes the story forward in a manner that makes perfect sense and yet is full of surprises and unexpected twists. Two and a half years after the battle in Lausanne Cathedral, Jay Harper is still his old unpredictable and hard to control self. Although some of his memories of what happened in Lausanne have been erased – as most of the memories from his past have been – he remembers enough to realize that he escaped from a great danger and that the battle was only started at the Cathedral. And although there is something wrong with Jay Harper, something that may well end his existence once and for all, he is still on a quest to defeat the forces of evil, although he doesn’t know who or what exactly he is looking for and what exactly those forces are after.

Katherine Taylor is living in the United States, protected by forces from the Swiss Guards with her son Max, who was born after she narrowly escaped with her life in Lausanne. Since Katherine’s memories are also being controlled she is not exactly sure what happened in that city or even who Max’ father might be. And although she does realize that she is in danger, she has no idea how big the danger actually is and what form it might take should it ever find her.

Astruc is a priest on a mission. Convinced that he and his assistant Goose are the only forces for good left, he sets out on a quest to warn the world about the Prophecy that is about to be fulfilled; a war between the forces of good and evil that is about to reach its climax and the future of the world and humanity appears to depend – some would say once again – on an innocent baby boy.

Like I said, this is an amazing book. Taking the reader from Montségur in the 13th century, to Paris in the very near future, from Switzerland to the USA this is a story that begins at full blast and doesn’t let up until the very last page.

Historical facts, conspiracy theories and biblical stories are faultlessly brought together to create a plausible and fascinating plot. So plausible, in fact, that it is almost possible to believe that this could actually happen. In Jay Harper’s words:

“Trust me mate, spend enough time watching the world go by and you learn just because something isn’t possible doesn’t mean it can’t happen.”

And it is Jay Harper’s cynical view of the world and the situations he finds himself in, as well as his dead-pan way of dealing with, and commenting on, what is happening with and around him that stops this from being an incredibly dark story. In fact, one of the strengths of this book is that the author manages to combine drama, tension, action, humour, descriptions, relationships and love without ever slowing down the plot. No matter how pleasant a scene in this book may be, there is always that undercurrent of danger that keeps on pushing the story and the reader forwards.

I like that our heroes are as flawed as they come. Jay Harper may be an angel but you’d be hard pressed to call him Angelic. And while Katherine Taylor may be a former hooker she proves herself the most loving mother and loyal friend imaginable. It is impossible not to like these two characters and become engrossed in their adventures. These are two anti-heroes and yet the future of the world and humanity depends on their actions.

And then there’s the cliff-hanger. Did the first book end in such a way that the story could have stopped there, this book ends at such a heart-stopping moment that there is no room for doubt that a sequel is coming. And I have absolutely no objection to another book by this author. set in this world with these characters. What I do have a problem with is that I haven’t been able to find out when this third book might be coming. I really do NOT want to wait another year before I find out how all of this is going to play out.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Pages: 199
Date: 18/06/2013
Grade: 5

This is going to be a first. I read the book, I thought it was brilliant and yet I’m not going to post either a plot summary or very much about my thoughts on this book here. I’m sure that most people have heard about this book. I’m also sure that they know that this is a rather hardcore work of erotica. If some of the books I’ve reviewed here in the past might shock other readers, this book has all the elements to actually offend them. It all depends on the way you look at erotica in general and BDSM in particular. I find it ALL rather fascinating, as I did this book. Especially considering that this book was first published in the 1950’s. Suffice to say that if erotic fiction is not your thing or even if it is something you’re new to and not quite sure about yet, this is not the book for you.

Having said that, I found this to be an intriguing read. The story of this character only identified as O is unimaginable and impossible to identify with. And yet it is written in such a way that you almost feel as if you could understand her. In fact I found myself going through the same emotions as O was; I kept on thinking that things couldn’t possibly progress any further, that surely we had reached the most extreme point, only to be surprised by what followed. And like O I found that I could take more.

This book is written in a rather detached tone and yet shares the most intimate details. The sentences are constructed in the most beautiful way – although I’m convinced that they would work better in the original language, French – emotions are explored in excruciating detail and yet I can’t remember coming across a single word that might be considered coarse.

So, don’t read it if the subject matter is not to your taste. If however you do like erotic fiction and haven’t read this book yet, go and do so now. This book, together with the Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice paved the way for the modern wave of erotic writing. And it is wonderful to not only see where it all started, but also to discover that it started of with a very high standard of writing.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Pages: 40
Date: 16/06/2013
Grade: 5-
Details: An Inside Out Story
              Received from the author
Own / Kindle

Before I say anything else I have to point out the following. This novella is part of a series and it is very important that it is not read out of order. This book should not be read before “Being Me” since it is one big spoiler for things that are revealed in that story. If you have any doubts about the reading order please visit the Lisa Renee Jones’ website and have a look there or have a close look at the following graphic (which I found on the author's Facebook page):

I’m sure I read somewhere that Lisa Renee Jones is planning (already writing?) a full-length novel from Mark Comptom’s point of view. And, if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t overly charmed by our Master from what I read in “If I Were You”, Rebecca’s Lost Journals and “Being Me” and wasn’t sure if there was anything the author could do to make me interested in his story.

Oh me of little faith. I should of course have known better. If all the previous Inside Out books and stories have proved anything, it is that Lisa Renee Jones writes wonderful stories around fascinating characters. The 40 pages in this way too short novella have made a convert out of me. I can’t wait to read more about this man, his past, his secrets and whether or not this woman he’s just met will be able to break through the walls he has so efficiently erected around his heart.

Mark Comptom, the Master, is not having an easy time of it. He’s made a few mistakes in the past. Mistakes for which he has paid a price but somebody else paid a much higher one, and now he is travelling to be with his mother who has been diagnosed with cancer. For a long time now Mark has been living his life convinced that he was in control; of himself, of his life and of those close to him. Now he finds himself wondering whether or not he still has that control; if he ever had it to begin with. He may no longer be sure who or what exactly he is but there is one thing Mark is very sure of; never again will he allow anybody to get close enough to him to put them at risk of being hurt by him.

Good intentions are all very well in theory; reality is often very different. When Mark meets Crystal Smith who works for Riptide in New York he finds himself dealing with reactions and emotions that are quite new to him.

Crystal Smith is the complete opposite of the sort of woman Mark usually finds himself attracted to; blond, assertive, independent and without a submissive bone in her body, she shouldn’t affect him at all. And yet:

“She’s everything I don’t like in a woman, and yet I can’t take my eyes of her.”


“Yes – starving. I’m starving. For her.”

And Crystal is able to see right through him. She recognises things in Mark others never see because he doesn’t allow them to be visible. Both of them know that they shouldn’t get too close because they are just too similar.

“I’m a control freak, she readily admits. You’re a control freak. We’d be like two bulls after the same red scarf.”

But sometimes knowing the right thing to do and doing it are two very different things:

“I’m lost in her, in kissing her, in touching her, and I can feel how lost she is, too.”

For once, Mark finds himself in an encounter that is not completely in his hands. It may be due to his defences being low because of all the pain and fear that have recently entered his life, but for once it would seem that our Master has found his match:

“She’s real to me in a way no one else has felt in too long.”

I can’t wait to see how this story is going to develop. Without a doubt there will be fireworks involved.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Pages: 433
Date: 15/06/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 2 Pleasures
             Received from Penguin
             Through Nudge

Summer O’Sullivan. It is a name and face most people know from the scandalous headlines in the tabloids. With one broken engagement behind her, the daughter of a self-made and very rich airline owner is known for her outrageous exploits and scandalous adventures. But, it would appear that she is in danger and when her father has to travel from London to America for a month and Summer refuses to spend that time with her grandmother in Ireland, he decides to hire a body-guard to keep her safe. To say that Summer is less than impressed with this idea would be an understatement and she manages to get rid of several hired minders within little or no time.

Enter Flynn Grant, a former Army Ranger with little patience for spoiled little rich girls. Summer’s tricks won’t work with him. He may not like the job, but since he has been hired to keep this girl safe that is exactly what he will do. And what is more, he will do it on his terms; Summer will just have to get used to following orders.

Unsurprisingly it is a major culture clash when these two characters meet, but despite the anger and exasperation they ignite in each other there is no denying the attraction between Summer and Flynn. When Summer goes a bit too far while satisfying her curiosity it is only Flynn’s timely arrival that prevents her from ending up in a situation she was completely unprepared for. Flynn however is furious and this anger combined with the attraction he has been feeling leads to a night that more than answers Summer’s curious questions and gives them both something to think about.

A month in a remote Scottish hiding-place takes Summer completely out of her comfort-zone and gives both her and Flynn the opportunity to discover sides of each other that they never expected. Flynn may be on a mission and getting intimate with his principle may be against all his rules but when the attraction is this strong and the location this isolated it is almost impossible not to give in to the sexual tension.

When the threat against Summer finally catches up with her it will take a heroic effort from Flynn as well as everything she has learned in her month in the middle of nowhere to ensure her survival. But even that may not be enough to ensure their happily ever after.

I enjoyed this book. It is well written and Summer and Flynn are exciting characters to read about. Not to mention that the attraction between them and the way they handle it make this one steamy read. But, this is much more than a work of erotic fiction. There is a real sense of danger all through this story. The erotic scenes alternate nicely with those that explore the rest of Summer and Flynn’s relationship and the thriller-like aspects of this book.

I liked that there was so much more to Summer’s character than the flighty, spoiled young heiress we meet in the first few chapters. It was wonderful to see her grow into herself and really develop. Flynn goes through some changes as well, although his are less pronounced. I also enjoyed the brief reference to Jack Winter and Abbie Marshall from “The Pleasures ofWinter”. Although these books are definitely stand-alone stories the mention of Jack and Abbie’s upcoming wedding brings a little bit of continuity to this series of books without creating the need to read them in order.

And this is one hot read. With Flynn being a Dominant with a lot of experience when it comes to BDSM and Summer being curious about the life-style, there is a lot of room for a good dose of steamy action. As it is I would call this BDSM-light. There is some bondage and quite a bit of spanking but it never gets so heavy that it might leave the reader uncomfortable. Having said that, I have to admit that I was both surprised and intrigued by the alternative uses that were found for both Alka-Seltzer and tiger balm in this story. Who knew?

There were a few things in this book I was less than charmed with.  First of all, I had the identity of the threat to Summer identified as soon as they made their first appearance in the story. Also, I did get a bit fed up with the way in which both Summer and Flynn kept on going backwards and forwards as far as their feelings were concerned. And finally, I wasn’t convinced that this book needed the addition of Flynn’s former submissive and her upcoming marriage to his brother. Having said that, these were minor issues for me and didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book. Because this is a fun, tension filled and a very sexy romance, sure to give its reader hours of entertainment.

Size: 218KB
Date: 15/06/2013
Grade: 4+
Details:  no. 2.5 Pleasures
             Companion read to “The Pleasures of Summer”
Own / Kindle

Chronologically, this story is set in the middle of “The Pleasures of Summer” and takes place during the time Summer and Flynn spend in the Scottish highlands.

Finding themselves in the middle of nowhere with little to keep them occupied except the sexual attraction between them – an attraction Flynn is determined not to give in to – Summer and her bodyguard desperately need a diversion. An opportunity arises when it transpires that some of Flynn’s colleagues are involved in war-games with other groups of special forces on a deserted Island off the Scottish coast. While Flynn sees this weekend as a welcome diversion for the two of them, Summer treats it as a second opportunity to launch operation “Defeat the bodyguard”.

“Consequences. She liked the sound of those. The ones following her escapade in London had been spectacular, to say the least.”

But, best laid plains being what they are, their days away with the army don’t work out quite the way either Flynn or Summer has hoped. While Flynn discovers that even participating in war-games won’t kill his attraction to Summer, she finds out that maybe getting rid of Flynn isn’t her first priority after all.

This was a short but very nice addition to The Pleasures of Summer. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a discarded chapter, published as a short story, although I may well be wrong about that. Having said that, this story could easily be read on its own strength. I’m not sure I’d advise anyone to do that though. I’m convinced this story is more enjoyable if you are familiar with what has happened to get these characters to this place. On the other hand, if you need convincing before purchasing “The Pleasures of Summer”, do read this story; it will leave you yearning for more. And more is exactly what the main book will give you.