Tag Archives: bookreview

Review of Deathless & Divided (The Chicago War, #1), by Bethany-Kris

I received an Audible code for a copy of Deathless & Divided, by Bethany-Kris.

Description from Goodreads:

Lies and love. This is how a war starts.

A life for a life. That’s the mafia way. Damian Rossi owes his life to a man who is ready to collect. That payment comes in the form of an arranged marriage to the daughter of another leading family in the Chicago Outfit. He’s ready to follow through, even if that means making sure Lily knows she’s his.

Lily DeLuca isn’t being given a choice. Forced home to marry a man she doesn’t know and back into a life she’d rather forget, her world is full of half-truths, buried pain, and uncertainty. But Damian is nothing like she expects. His motives aren’t clear. Her beliefs are being tested.

When it comes to this world, no man can be trusted. Someone is ready to flip the Chicago Outfit on its side all for the promise of something better. But no one runs a clean game and these men play for keeps. When blood begins to paint Chicago red, four families will be divided by loyalty, hatred, and revenge. There is no hiding. There is no safety.

No one is deathless.

No one.

Review:

This wasn’t bad, not what I expected going in, but not bad. I liked that Lily wasn’t a push-over and Damian was too charming for words. I really liked all the behind the scenes manipulation happening between the bosses, though I guessed who was behind it all from the beginning. The writing flows and Scarlato, the narrator, did a good job. 

I did think Lily got over her resistance too quickly and then the two of them were instantly in love and willing to go to any lengths for one another. It was a little too much too quickly. But again, not bad. 

I just had one big complaint (that has multiple facets). While it may be goshe to talk about sex, I’m going to…in some detail. My first big complaint came with the first sex scene. The whole premise of the book is that Lily has been called home to Chicago and her mafia family to be married off. She’s angry about this, feels like chattel, struggles against the whole idea. Damian—her intended—tries hard to convince her this isn’t the case. So, when in the very first sex scene he starts all the “tell me who this belongs to” (when talking about her pussy), “you’re mine,” “say you’re mine,” “you belong to me,” etc it smacked as seriously out of place. It should have undone all his work to convince her she wasn’t a piece of property. It did not fit any of the previous set up of the plot. 

Second, I kind of wonder if Bethany-Kris doesn’t usually write MM romance, instead of M/F, because Lilly is the soppiest woman I’ve ever heard of during sex. There were so many references to things like HER cum leaking down her legs. I mean, that she’s wet is great, and maybe she’s a squirter (but none of that is mentioned) just lots and lots of HER cum. Merriam Weber reminds me that cum can be used as a noun to mean orgasm, but that’s not really how I sensed it being used here. It read like the fluids coming during orgasm, which Merriam Weber also dictates as specifically semen. So, all this cum felt off when referring to a CIS female character. I don’t think we had a single reference to Damian’s semen though. 

Lastly—and again this leads me to wonder if Bethany-Kris isn’t more comfortable with MM—the anal sex. I have no problem with this being included. Heck, change it up on occasion. Great. But the way it was build up as being something special and momentous irritated me. The way her giving him her ass is somehow more meaningful than any of the previous sex, like it’s a culminating act, felt contrived and pointlessly titillating. Plus, I knew with 100% certainty that was going to happen as soon as he mentioned it in the first sex scene. So, it was disappointedly predictable, not taboo and exciting in any fashion. 

All in all, as much as I like a good erotic book, the sex in this one often rubbed me the wrong way (pun intended). But I generally enjoyed the book.

Review of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower

I received a free audio copy of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower.

Description from Goodreads:

Lady Catherine Langdon is special, and not because she’s the daughter of a duke. She comes from a long line of individuals born with extraordinary gifts, and she is one of the few that has a variation of all three. On the brink of war she makes a decision that will irrevocably alter the course of her life—love or duty.

Asher Rossington, the Marquess of Seabrook, decided at a very early age that he would not live an idle life. His father forbade him from being a spy for the crown, but he chose to ignore it. Ash never regretted his choice, but wished he could have repaired his relationship with his father before he died. Now with the fate of the world in turmoil he has to make another hard decision—remain a spy for king and country, or go home and honor his father’s title.

The Great War brings Catherine and Asher into each other’s lives. Only time will tell if their destiny is to be together, or if they will ultimately serve a higher purpose.

Review:

Both the title and the book description are inaccurate.Wildly so. I kind of even question it’s classification as a romance. At least in the sense that the romance genre is one in which a a love story is central, where the “main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work.” That’s present yes, but it’s barely central.

I’m not actually claiming this isn’t a romance, just that it doesn’t feel as if the romance is central to the plot. The characters fall in love within a chapter of meeting and the whole rest of the book is the war. They pass each other on occasion and tell each other how much they love each other. But the love is established early and there is NO TENSION OR CHALLENGE TO IT. Only the inconveniences of war. And honestly Asher seems to have free movement around France. So, it hardly even feels like that much of an impediment. 

Even the hard decision referred to doesn’t exist. The two are firm in their non-decision to stay in France (as in they never even discuss anything else) until a singular event makes them both decide to return to England. (And that isn’t honoring Asher’s father’s title. That is never a consideration in the narrative.) Since they both have the freedom and funds to make leaving happen in a day there is no difficulty in it.

Also, it’s war and they can leave in a day. That tells you how much tension the war is really creating in the narrative. Not much.

Then there are Catherine’s abilities. They are mentioned. But if you took them out of the book the plot wouldn’t change at all. The single vision she tries to act on doesn’t come to pass and the one that you’d expect her to act on (based on past behavior) she doesn’t. The ‘gifts’ are a pointless plot device. 

And as to the title? Asher is in no way a rogue. There is nothing even remotely roguish about him. In the last chapter he thinks to himself that he had been a rogue before meeting Catherine. But that’s it. He’s kind and gentle and loyal and respectful throughout the book, and there is no reference to him chasing other women in the past. HE’S NOT A ROGUE at all. 

The writing here is perfectly competent, as is the narration. But I felt like the book was just a random series of events with very little tying it all together. Even characters appear and disappear with no point. Why did we meet James, have him disappear and be replaced with Julian? Plus, (as I said above) the description totally is inaccurate. This wasn’t a total flop for me, but I didn’t finish it particularly thrilled.

Review of King’s Killer, by Ki Brightly & M.D. Gregory

I received an Audible Code for King’s Killer, by Ki Brightly and M.d. Gregory.


Description from Goodreads:

Walking the Line Between Good and Evil
Physician’s assistant by day, doctor to the Kings of Men MC by night. Grant Arthur’s life is tough to balance, but he does what he can to help his brother, Aaron “King” Arthur, the president of the motorcycle club. Trapped as an outsider to the club by his brother for safety, Grant prefers the quiet life, until the Kings visit him in the middle of the night with an injured member. With them is Kai Woodrow, rugged and dangerous, who Grant can’t tear his gaze from. 

A Killer Who Gave Away His Heart
Reaper kills for a living. He’s the man King calls when he needs to send a gruesome message. Unfortunately, Reaper’s also human, and has all the needs of a man. He’s been in love with Grant since they shared a foster home as teens, but he knows how protective King is. Reaper could never betray his president and friend, even if Grant’s the only one who sees him as Kai. He settles with quietly stalking Grant, until one night they bring him an injured club member. 

One Wild Night
When Grant is nearly hurt, Kai can’t resist living in the moment, even if it’s bound to get him killed by King—or someone worse. The world doesn’t stop turning because he finally kissed Grant, but with any illegal motorcycle club, trouble comes along for the ride. When Grant is kidnapped, Kai would move heaven and hell to find him, and destroy the people who took him. 


Review:

Soooooo…..no.

The writing in this book is fine. However, despite a strong start it was a total flop for me. The reason being the sex. At one point while listening to this book I strolled by a mirror and noticed that I actually had my lip physically curled into a sneer. I was that displeased with it. 

Here’s the thing. I have no problem with the Master/pet, Sir/boy, D/s (whatever you want to call it) relationship as a kink. HOWEVER, in a book it really has to be tied in somehow. In King’s Killer, not only did nothing in the narrative suggest either man was into this sort of sex (and at no point had either felt the other out to see if the feeling was mutual), prior to the first sex scene the reader is given the distinct impression at least one of them is against it and the other has only ever really had one night stands. There is a scene in which Grant is speaking to another King, who is into whips, chains and such, and Kai thinks to himself that Grant is too good to get involved with such things. So, when Kai later literally pulls out a chain during sex it felt HORRIBLY incongruous.

Further, part of what Kai is supposed to love about Grant is that he can be his more gentle self. Kai is supposed to be the only man he doesn’t want to see him as a monster. So, the first thing he does once he gets him in bed is slap him and start calling him Boy in a distancing manner? No, it doesn’t fit the narrative AT ALL! I sneered every time he said it. 

I cannot stress enough how out of place this dynamic felt to the story. In fact, I strongly suspect it was only included because the whole Sir/Boy thing was a fad for a little while. I just started skipping through the sex scenes. 

Similarly, Kai and Grant were supposed to have known each other since they were children. Exact time frames aren’t given. But it’s more than 10 years, at least. Since Kai is older, he’s fantasized about Grant since he was 16, and Kai is 27 in the book. But the two seem like practical strangers. In the beginning Kai insists on keeping his distance from Kai because he’s loyal to Aaron and Grant is afraid of Kai. Then out of nowhere, with no instigating event, the two suddenly threw themselves at one another. What changed? NO idea. 

Lastly, I need to address the narrator. He did a fine job. Mechanically I have no complaints. But I think he was the wrong choice for this book. He sounds about 12. I looked him up. He seems to be mid-twenties (or there about), but he sounds young. This made the already unappealing sex scenes super awkward and uncomfortable for me. 

All in all, I felt like this book tried to accomplish something it wasn’t able to. It didn’t have the foundation to carry the dynamic the authors set out to develop (or fell into developing). 

I also have a few odd little notes. I’m a little befuddled by one author naming a character after themselves. It may be spelled differently, but I listened to the audio. So, that made no never mind to me. And I think there was a point late in the book where Grant was referred to as Arthur more than once. I was confused, maybe I was misunderstanding something.