Posts Tagged ‘fantastic sex scenes’

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Okay, so Susan’s sitting in a tent on a mountain in West Virginia and I’m sending her all these texts about how amazing Cecilia Tan’s newest release, Wild Licks, is. And she’s thinking I’m totally nuts because, hey, this is pretty much her vacation although I can’t figure out who can vacation in a tent or why they’d want to when there’s NEW CECILIA TAN TO READ.

Wild Licks is the next in the Secrets of a Rock Star series. Maybe you remember when I read the first book, Taking the Lead, and went bonkers over it.

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Guys. This one is BETTER.

I kid you not.

Gwen and Mal are one hot couple. Where Ricki and Axel had inhibitions to overcome and heads to get out of, Gwen and Mal know they like it hot and they need it kinky. And man oh man, do they go for it. These two are maybe the perfect couple.

There’s more a sense in this book that Mal’s a rocker. He’s got something that Axel lacked, and that’s sad not because Mal has it but because Axel didn’t. And Gwen, too, is more real. Maybe it’s that she’s not as repressed as her sister. This isn’t a woman who’s afraid of things.

In fact, Gwen doesn’t have a lot of issues. This isn’t usual in today’s fiction, but I was digging it.

It’s Mal who’s all angst-laden, poor guy. And he’s the reason things are a bit of a let-down at the end. His moment where he comes around is just too easy and too fast.

But come ON. We’re not here for Mal to fix himself. We’re here for the dynamic with him and Gwen, and we get that. And we’re here for the sex, and we get THAT, too. We get some of the most inventive, no-holds-barred, lack of inhibition sex I’ve seen… ever.

Don’t miss this one.

I hear the next in the series, Hard Rhythm, will be out next January. Is it too early to sign up for a review copy? I am SO there.

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This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

I simply adored Olivia Cunning’s first Sinners on Tour book, Backstage Pass. And then I passed it off to a friend at the Hoity Toity Health Club, knowing she’d love it, too.

She did. So much that she kept it. Usually, she passes the books among other members and we all stand around and talk about them. Because, you know, that’s what you do at a health club. You talk books.

Even if she hadn’t desperately needed me to read Rock Hard, I did. How was Olivia going to follow up such a tour de force?

Well, in a sense, with more of the same. Oh, not in a negative sense. She uses the same structure: a lot of hot sex at the start, and then a taper off as the storyline takes precedence. It’s a smart move for an erotic book, as it ultimately deemphasizes the sex. And just like in Backstage Pass, there’s a lot of great sex. There’s also the Sinners. And Brian’s wife Myrna, the voice of reason and helpmeet to Jessica, Sed’s all-consuming passion.

The weaknesses – for me – come in the form of Jessica and Sed. In Backstage Passes, Sed wasn’t entirely likeable. That feeling lingered, especially when the brunt of his problems with Jessica became apparent: they don’t talk. They’re so busy protecting their pride and trying too hard, they miss out on the vital connections that make relationships work. This becomes frustrating to read, as I just wanted to reach out and grab them and shake sense into each of them. It gets worse when Sed, in particular, goes off half-cocked to fix situations he knows nothing about. It may be how some men in real life behave, but it doesn’t endear a reader to a fictional character.

As before, the details of the rock and roll lifestyle aren’t 100% accurate, but this time, it bothered me less – most likely because I was expecting it. I’d love to see Olivia find herself an expert and correct these inaccuracies in future books. It’ll make them that much stronger.

Of course, we have to talk about the sex. It’s hot, but Jessica likes it in public, and I wasn’t entirely buying the whole public sex thing. And when the video appears – like this is a spoiler? The only surprising thing is that Sed himself wasn’t behind it – the ways in which it’s handled, not by Jessica and the band, but as part of the external conflict in the book is simply not believable. The people involved really ought to know better. Their behavior is beneath them, and that’s putting it lightly.

In the end, this is a good entry in the series, but not quite as strong as its predecessor. Jessica and Sed need to talk and listen more. I hope Jessica will use that duct tape more liberally when she’s got serious situations to handle on her own, without his hot-headed interference.

Okay, anyone know why the new WordPress’ so-called “improved posting experience” ATE my original of this review?

There may not be a better example of the bodyguard trope in romance than the classic Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner movie.

Count on Lorelei James to create a book that goes toe-to-toe with a movie – and might even top it. Hillbilly Rockstar is the name of it, and it’s the newest entry into her Blacktop Cowboys series.

I suspect that we’ve met both Liberty Masterson and Devin McClain in previous Blacktop novels. I’m a shameful James fan and haven’t read more of the series. But it doesn’t matter, as this is the novel in which they both get to shine.

The premise is classic. Devin’s got security issues, and his people hire Liberty’s people. I mean, hello? How else can this storyline get started? We know this about the bodyguard trope. There’s not a lot of way around it. The magic here is what happens once the two start working together, Liberty pretending to be his personal assistant and not minding – much – the sneers of a band who think they know better.

Blue streak in her hair or no, Liberty’s no groupie.

So the story is really about how their romance comes about. In fact, Devin’s security threats are almost a second thought as the story unfolds, and that’s perfectly okay. This isn’t meant to be a romantic suspense, which it would become if the threat to Devin was more serious.

Really, what can you say? It’s delicious watching Liberty and Devin fall in love. If anything, I’d argue this is more Liberty’s story than Devin’s; she’s the rounder, more real character. There’s further for her to go before she can overcome her past scars. From clothing to career to learning to care, this is her journey. Devin, he just has to quit with the groupies – which he has – and take care of his band. Which he, largely, does. He has that over-the-top charisma that makes a really good rock star, and it’s tempered with more than a streak of introvert to him. But this means there’s also less of a path for him to follow in order to grow; at the end, he’s not much different from the man he was at the beginning.

But oh, who cares? I mean, we could make that same claim about Kevin Costner, right?

Where Hillbilly Rockstar gains the edge, though, is the racy stuff. Woo whee, this is author James’ strength. I know there are hordes of readers who pick up her books just for her knowledge of the fun stuff that can transpire between a man and a woman in a bedroom, and it’s hard to fault them for that. James is an author who can create amazing characters you’d like to have populate your real life. Her settings are fully researched – I can’t find a single fault with the rock and roll details in Devin’s life (although I did have a few questions for my cadre of experts, especially about the venues as the tour progressed) – and the plotlines plausible.

Really, why this woman isn’t on the best-seller lists – all of them, and for months and years on end – I don’t know. Then again, when I look at some of the drek that does make it, well, there’s no accounting for taste.

Skip those. Spend time with Lorelei James.

Disclaimer, which can’t possibly be cool the second time around but here goes anyway: Lorelei herself sent me a copy of this, in a cool pink-bound ARC edition that’s going on my shelf of keepers and not just because she autographed it. I’ve known Lorelei for years and think she’s the cat’s meow. But lest you think that stopped me from doing anything but loving this book, perish that thought. Lorelei is a seasoned pro, and she knows the value of a well-written but negative book review. In fact, I don’t blame her if she’s a bit upset, hoping I would have written her one. But … well, she’s too damn good a writer for that to happen. Really, if it had needed to, I’d have had no qualms about doing it. But I didn’t need to. So there.

This review was first posted at West of Mars. It’s being reposted here, at its new permanent home.

I was very jazzed when I came across Olivia Brynn’s Falling Star. I was even more jazzed when Olivia contacted me and offered to send me one of the few existing print copies of the book.

I read it with no small amount of relish. It’s a fun book. I’d recommend it, absolutely. But, of course, as with the majority of what I read, there are some issues. Nothing fatal, I’m pleased to say.

Well, okay. There was one almost-fatal problem, but we can’t blame it on the author. It’s the editing, specifically the copy editing. I’m terribly sorry, but “Come here babe” just isn’t grammatically correct. There needs to be a comma between the words here and babe. This was enough of a consistent problem, there was no way it can be excused as a fluke. Someone doesn’t know how to do their job. Period.

Let’s focus on the things that are what we’re really here to talk about, which is the story. It’s not a fresh one: rock star needs to clean up his act, walks incognito into a florist, and falls in love with an ordinary girl who has no idea who he is, even though she loves his music.

Does some of this sound familiar? A bit? It’s a similar premise of the recent book from Karina Bliss, What the Librarian Did.

I feel like lately, every review winds up as a comparison — with the more recently reviewed book falling short. In some ways, Falling Star does just that. But because it lacks the more serious subplot found in Librarian, this is a stronger beach read.

That’s a compliment. I love a good beach read.

Unfortunately, our rocker, Adam, is a bit bland. He’s fine. He’s likeable. But he lacks that zing we saw in Bliss’ Devin, that raw sexuality and charisma. Likewise, Adam is also lacking the real bad boy persona — and details — that is causing his star to fall. We’re told he’s heading for problems, but all we get to see is a nice guy. His excesses are glossed over, and that gloss hurts my rock and roll rating.

Flower shop owner Jade is a character with a lot of potential. Sure, she’s got the gay best friend thing going, but she’s also confident without being too strong. There’s nothing wussy about this girl. Even when she chooses to sleep on the couch, it fits her character. Again, though, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to know her deeply enough.

This is a problem, especially as we have many of the properly cliched scenes. The woman who doesn’t recognize the star. Getting up in the middle of the night to find Adam working on a song. The boats, the homes.

Since this is an erotic romance, I am compelled to mention the sex. Hot. Steamy. Possibly the best part of the book, and I’ve already said this is a good read. But there was a problem, here, too. In one scene, Adam changes and becomes very dominant. This was a jarring change and it bothered me. We see him so consistently as a good guy, a gentle man. And then he’s growling and he’s almost forcing Jade up against a wall and … yeah. It was too rough. Too out of character. For me, it crossed the line into assault, simply because it was so out of character.

In other words: dominant males are fine. A Jekyll and Hide switch from gentle to dominant isn’t.

I suppose that leads us to the final assessment: as a rock and roll novel, how is it? Only fair, I’m afraid. There are almost too many clichés. If that doesn’t bother you — or you’re one of those folk who lap it up, especially in an erotic romance or a good beach read — you’ll be quite happy.

I do look forward to more from Olivia Brynn. Even if she’s not kind enough to send me a freebie each time.

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

The biggest problem with great books is that you never get around to reading them fast enough. That’s the case with Olivia Cunning’s Backstage Passes, the first in her Sinners on Tour series.

It’s the story of a woman we know as Myrna, a psychologist who happens to specialize in human sexuality. She’s also had a very private thing for sexy guitarist Brian Sinclair, a thing she never expects to come anywhere near fulfilling – until she runs into the band. She’s staying in the hotel for a conference. The band, sans security, is on tour. Myrna likes Brian. Brian, even in his drunken state, likes Myrna. He’s not too drunk, so off they go, embarking on a torrid affair that is really this book’s strength.

Now, I’ve read plenty of erotica. I have plenty of friends who write it. None handle the merge of sex scenes and storyline as adeptly as Ms. Cunning. The action doesn’t grind to a halt while Myrna and Brian to get it on, for pages at a time. It makes sense within the story, and even though it does last for pages – hey, he’s a rocker. What do we expect, if not longevity? – it’s inventive, hot, and just tawdry enough to let us see that Myrna’s not merely living out her fantasies featuring Brian Sinclair, she’s living out every fantasy every woman has ever had about a rock star.

Best of all, Cunning lets Myrna experiment with sex in a safe setting – and is brave enough to let her not like certain elements, at least on the first go-round. Brian is also evolved enough to accept her comfort level. Is it too idealistic? You read and decide.

For all the good, there are some issues. Brian’s parents are a bit too good to be true, and the good psychologist finds a solution to the estrangement from his father that doesn’t take any particular skill to work out. Myrna herself seems awfully unaware of sex, its ramifications, and other mental issues that you’d expect of an expert in human sexuality. Not that she should walk around spouting off sexual facts or commenting on what it means when Eric gets involved in an encounter with Brian without it turning into a threesome, but she should have more awareness of what’s at play here. And finally, the situation with her ex comes into play too late, almost as if it’s an afterthought, a spot where conflict via a subplot was called for, so something materialized out of thin air. While many romances would have Myrna more aware of the threat Jeremy posed to the point where it gets to be too much, some middle ground in the form of an inkling earlier on would have been better.

And then there’s the rock and roll details. The band drives its own tour bus? Roadies are enlisted to drive Myrna’s car? The bus seems more like a Winnebago, which is fine if you’re on the Warped Tour, but The Sinners aren’t doing Warped. They’re represented as being on a bus. Also, when you’re on a guest list, you need to show ID, which means you can’t have a cutsie last name given to you by an impertinent band member. There are other details that suggest this isn’t Ms. Cunning’s area of strength, but she redeems herself by creating a band full of characters who live and breathe. They aren’t cliché in the least.

Still, this is an erotic romance, and it’s there that Ms. Cunning shines. She’s smart enough to let her rockers have warts, and she lets Myrna not only see them, but accept them. The exception would be the conflict with his father, where it’s Myrna to the rescue so she can prove her love for her man.

I don’t know many people who read erotic romance for the storyline or the authenticity of the rock and roll lifestyle details. Not as their first desire, anyway. It’s about the sex, and I’ve read enough of the erotic stuff that I’ve got no issue saying that she’s one of the best out there—although I will apologize to my many friends who write erotic romance. This is by no means a cut to you guys. Rather, it’s high praise for Ms. Cunning, whose sex is inventive and creative. It fits the story – and best of all, as the relationship progresses, the sex scenes become mentions, nothing more. It’s a mirror for how a real-life relationship plays out: all hot at first, then tapering off into something comfortable and right. And while the loss of these wildly fun scenes is noted, the storyline is strong enough, despite its flaws, to keep our interest. And those characters? You just want to spend days more with them.

I can’t wait to pick up the second book in the series. It’s sitting on my shelf, waiting for me.

Like I said, you can never get to the great ones soon enough.

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

t was a pleasant surprise to see Lex Valentine drop into my inbox. Lex and I had fallen out of touch, but she’s a special lady in my world. Her presence in my inbox is always welcome.

Best of all, this time, she came with presents! Well, okay, only one. But one is better than none, especially when that one is Lex’s first Ellora’s Cave Release, Rock My World.

Yep, Lex was kind enough to send me a copy. So I thought I’d return the favor by posting some reviews of the book. After all, the only thing an author likes better than having someone love their work is when that reader loves their work publically, so others can see and agree. (Or not. Such is the nature of opinion.)

First off, let me say that Lex is known for explicit, hot sex. If that’s not your thing, walk away now. Even if you, like me, love books about rockers, if you’re not into watching Gia and Sin have all sorts of sex in all sorts of positions, places, and involving toys and various body parts, this isn’t the book for you. Lex almost rivals my friend Colette Gale, who promises at least one orgasm every chapter.

So, yeah. Let me say up front that Lex can write a sex scene. I’ve known that about her from before her days as a published writer, so it’s nice to see others getting to experience her skills.

I hate to say it, but in her quest to bring us such great sex, she sacrifices some character development. And that’s my biggest (and only) quibble with Rock My World.

The story is about rocker Gia Santora. She’s at the top of her game, surrounded by body guards, and badly scarred by an event with a stalker. She’s also tired of the rock star one-night stand life. And did I mention she’s in lust with the frontman of her opening act, Sinclair Carstens? Sin’s young enough to have grown up with posters of Gia on his walls and more fantasies than a guy can remember. But the ones he does remember…

He gets to act them out, and then some, when Gia and he crash into each other in the wings. Their first meeting, as they’d been studiously avoiding each other, is properly rushed, but not so fast that the sparks can’t begin flying. These two have chemistry, all right. They’re also in a position where they’re willing and able to commit to each other.

I love this part of the story. These two are at opposite ends of the spectrum — Gia’s on top and has been there awhile. She gets this world she lives in. It’s jaded her a bit, but not so bad that she has to give it up. Nope. She’s a rocker, all right. It’s in her blood.

Sin, on the other hand, is a youngster — not just in age, but experience. Opening for Gia is his band’s big break. When Gia allows him into her rarefied air, he learns much.

Or, he should. This is where the shallow character development comes in. I’d have liked to see more of the impact on Sin. Through his relationship with Gia, he’s experiencing the difference between being an opening act and a headliner. He takes it in stride — but then, he seems to take everything but Gia in stride. She runs off, trying to protect him from her stalker? Okay, fine. He’ll roll with that, too.

It’s kind of frustrating. I want to see his passion for more than her. For his music. For the commitment he’s making to her. I want to see him struggle with how different their worlds are, how difficult the age barrier can be. He mentions Gia’s got a more mature body than she did when she was younger, but we don’t get to see him really process that too much. This was a missed opportunity for some real older-woman appreciation here. Let him lick a hipbone that’s not bony like a twenty-some chick’s hipbone would be. Let him realize how much better that is.

Gia, too, could have used more depth, especially where her stalker’s scars are so evident. This guy terrorized her; I’d have loved to see her be truly vulnerable. To struggle with her memories and her fears. We see a bit of her with her fear of flying, but I want more. I want to connect with her, understand her, empathize with her. I want to feel as though I can change places with her and be her for the length of this book.

Ahh, and there’s the problem. It’s not that Lex can’t develop a good, deep character who transcends the page and comes alive. I’ve read some of her unpublished stuff. I know darn well she can do this.

Rather, the issue is that an Ellora’s Cave book can only be so long. And when you’re busy packing all that delicious sex into it, something’s got to be sacrificed. It can’t be plot; if it is, we wind up in the areas where people talk in terms of soft-core and hard-core. So… it’s a bit of characterization that suffers.

Too bad, because this book could have been one of my top reads of the year. I wish it was, and not just because Lex is a friend. I like the concept.

Good news for me — and for you guys, too. Lex is working on a follow-up, featuring one of the characters from Rock My World, James the guitarist. I’ll be on the lookout for it. Once you read this one, I suspect you will be, too.