Tag Archives: erotica

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Book Review: Hell Gate, by Veronica Eden

I received a copy of Hell Gate, by Veronica Eden in last month’s Supernatural Book Crate.

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Open the gate…if you dare.

The first thing I’m warned about when I arrive at the girls’ home is to stay away from the abandoned graveyard. Local urban legend claims it’s host to a gate to Hell.

Then I was dared…

The legend is as real as the monsters I’ve summoned by activating the gate. Demons guard it, waiting for skeptical idiots like me to do the ritual. Three sinfully hot, dangerously powerful demons.

Valerian.
Matthias.
Alder.

Ruthless.
Deadly.
Terrifying.

The gate’s three wicked protectors won’t let me get away without paying their price.
I’m at their mercy, fighting to survive them and the supernatural world they drag me into.
But none of us are prepared for what is awakening within me.

A long buried secret and hidden ancient magic will change everything.
The match is lit and together we’re all going up in flames.

my review

I gotta be honest. This was a big ol’ meh for me. It was competently written and I imagine it’ll find it’s audience. But I was bored with it. I just felt like Lily spent too much of the book whinging about her rough childhood and then the rest of the book was just the men telling her how amazing she was, over and over again. So, yes, I get it, she’s a special special snow flake and not like the other girls. Can we move on now?

Further, I was a bit weirded out by her barely legal-ness. She’s 17 (there’s an 18th birthday in there somewhere, but it’s unclear where). The sex starts as just sex but very quickly progresses to things like double penetration to accommodate three mates. Maybe it’s a symptom of getting old and having teen daughters, but I was just a tad squinked out by a new-to-sex woman so quickly hell gate photoprogressing to kink-queen. Plus, the men where forever telling EACH-OTHER what to do with her—move her this way, make her beg, etc—but never speaking to her at such moments. I felt like she was just a doll for them to act upon with one another.

Lastly, the plot is weak. Sure, I get that porn-with-plot exists. But I didn’t sense that this 400+ book was aiming for plot-less erotica status. It had a plot. It was just a paper thin one.

All in all, it’s probably a taste thing. I liked the characters well enough and the world was interesting, but I was meh about this book. It’s probably fine, just not for me.


Other Reviews:

Review – Hell Gate by Veronica Eden

Hell Gate by Veronica Eden

 

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Book Review: The Librarian and the Orc, by Finley Fenn

I picked up a freebie copy of Finley Fenn‘s The Librarian and the Orc after seeing the series recommended on Tiktok. It’s third in the Orc Sworn series, but I was assured it could be read as a stand alone.

the librarian and the orc cover

He’s a fierce, ferocious, death-dealing beast. And he’s reading a book in her library…

In a world of recently warring orcs and men, Rosa Rolfe leads a quiet, scholarly life as an impoverished librarian — until the day she finds an orc. In her library. Reading a book.

He’s rude, aggressive, and deeply terrifying, with his huge muscled form, sharp black claws, and cold, dismissive commands. But he doesn’t seem truly dangerous… at least, until night falls. And he makes Rosa a shocking, scandalous offer…

Her books, for her surrender.
Her ecstasy.
Her enlightenment…

Rosa’s no fool, and she knows she can’t possibly risk her precious library for this brazen, belligerent orc. Even if he is surprisingly well-read. Even if he smells like sweet, heated honey. Even if he makes Rosa’s heart race with fear, and ignites all her deepest, darkest cravings at once…

But surrender demands a dangerous, devastating price. A bond that can’t easily be broken. And a breakneck journey to the fearsome, forbidding Orc Mountain, where a curious, clever librarian might be just what’s needed to stop another war…

my review

I am in a really odd place in reviewing this book. I liked the writing and the premise. I think the series seems interesting (in a totally over the top ridiculous sort of way) and I’m interested in reading more of it. But I didn’t like this book. But Sadie, why would you want more then? I don’t, not more of the same anyway. But one would presume every book in the series can’t be exactly the same.

What I disliked about this book was the characters. I thought he was an alpha a-hole for far too long. So, by the time he stopped and showed his softer side, it was too late. (Even if I appreciated that he valued her intellect as much as her deep throat.) I never could come around to like him. And I thought she was a limp dishrag and a doormat. Yes, I saw that Fenn was allowing them to both have been crafted by their past traumas. Yes, I saw that Fenn was allowing for flawed characterization (saying cruel things you don’t really mean, when angry, for example). Yes, I saw that Fenn was allowing their broken pieces to fit together in to a stronger whole. I saw it. But I didn’t enjoy it.

I feel like Rosa’s scrabbling, scrambling, desperate need to please her master just felt like an abused woman keeping her abuser happy as a means of self-protection (which she’d done her whole life, yes). But I felt like there was no growth past this. Instead it was just eroticized and John took advantage of it for his own gain. Yes, yes, I know that’s not how Fenn meant it. But the librarian and the orc photothat’s how it felt to me and I didn’t enjoy reading it. I almost DNFed more times than I can count.

So, I’ll probably give another book in the series a try. But this particular one was a failure for me. (I much preferred The Sorceress’s Orc.) It did stand alone though. I read it without having read any of the previous books and the only confusion I had was the fact that orcs only bare sons and I didn’t know why. I just had to accept it as the way of things.


Other Reviews:

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Book Reviews: The Thorns of Charbon Institute Series, by Kate Messick

Kate Messick contacted me about reading/reviewing her The Thorns of Charbon Institute Series (Self Studies, Group Studies, and Class Studies). I agreed to read book one and, if I liked it, continue to the other books. I ended up reading all three. I did take notes for individual reviews, but I think I’d rather write one for the series as a whole instead.

Thorns of Charbon Institute Series covers

I knew nothing but the touch of my master until the Magical Authorities killed him and set my world on fire.

Now, I’m a prisoner at an institute stressing students beyond their limits.

I’m a sorceress who can’t access her magic and wanted by wickedly handsome mages who all have their own agenda.

I spent my life following directions. Now I can make my own decisions, I don’t know the right ones. Why is saying ‘no’ so hard?

With the administration judging every action I take and weighing them on their uneven scales of morality, I must come to terms with my darkness to survive and, if I’m lucky, even gain my freedom.

my review

On the whole I enjoyed this series. I binged all 3 books in about 4 days. I liked the heroine and all her men. Each managed to have a distinct personality, which isn’t always the case when authors write such a large grouping. (Beryl was my favorite. How could he not be?) And the writing is smooth and easy to read. (Though there are a few editing mishaps and they increase as the series progresses—more in book 2 than 1, and 3 than 2. But nothing too disruptive. I noticed them, but kept right on reading.)

self studies photoAll in all I have more good things to say than bad. But I do have a few complaints, most of which are subtle and therefore not brief to explain. None of them were deal-breakers for me though (or I wouldn’t have read the whole series).

My biggest is how very focused on Aphrodite’s sex the book is. Now, I don’t mean the number of sex scenes or anything like that. I just mean the way she is largely reduced to her sexuality over and over and over again. The thing for me is that this is what has happened to women for so much of history. History has painted us as mindless slaves to our urges (and this has been used to both villainize and victimize us).

Messick definitely falls into this tradition. Both in making Aphrodite almost mindless with lust for a large part of the series and (for me more notable) making every man (both those she wants and far too many others) pant for her. There is a long standing history of sexual abuse, starting in childhood, attempted rapes (plural), threats of sexual violence, groping, leering, more than one attempted kidnapping with rape as one of the intended outcomes, etc. Then there were the other people calling her a slut and such. Just too much of the story revolved around Aphrodite as something to have sex with, rather than Aphrodite a person for my comfort. Not only for any sort of high brow reason, but also just because I got bored of it. I was especially sick of Ram and Alrick by the end. (Though I’ll also acknowledge that overcoming some of this was one of Aphrodite’s points of growth.)

group studies photoNone of this was helped by the way sex scenes were almost exclusively focused on what the men were doing TO Aphrodite. Sometimes what they were telling each-other to do TO Aphrodite. She often didn’t feel like an ACTIVE participant. By the end, when we had all five men involved at once, she might as well have been a blow-up doll for all she seemed involved as anything other than something for the men to move, manipulate, affect, dump into, etc. Unfortunately, I don’t encounter this infrequently. It’s fairly common, actually. And while I noticed it, Messick wasn’t any worse than some of those other author’s who write sex scenes this way.

Similarly, Aphrodite is told over and over again like calls to like, power calls to power. For a lot of the early part of the series there is a definite sense that most of her men love her for what she is not who she is. They have explosive sex and the men ‘fall in love’ but there is no sense of knowing or liking one another. They have sex once and ate hooked. Which, again, reduces Aphrodite to a sexual object, not a person.

And almost all of those rather long paragraphs can be reduced to the book is full of the patriarchal view of sexuality and male gaze of the female sex. That’s my biggest complaint.

My biggest compliment is just how *chef’s kiss* wonderfully Messick shows Aphrodite’s personal growth. The way she learns to recognize and come to terms with all of the ways Damon victimized and controlled her, the ability to hold contradictory and confusing feelings about a victimizer, growing a backbone, and started to stand on her own. Honestly, this is well done over the course of the series.

I also liked the way not all of Aphrodite’s men fell in love with her and were instantly on board for the whole peaceful harem situation. There were personality clashes, cliques, likes and dislikes among them. Some were open to pairings others weren’t, some were open to activities others weren’t, some were open to trying new things others weren’t, some liked each-other more than others. It made for a more interesting group.

class studies photoI did think that by the end of the 3rd book a lot of the plotting felt same-same. I mean the broader plot of book 2 and 3 were almost exactly the same, even utilizing some of the same bad guys. Then there was a 3 year gap and a happily-ever-after epilogue that felt random. Other than the harem (that’s the term they use in the book) having formed, there was nothing to distinguish the end of book 3 as the end of the series any more than the end of book 2. Messick could have written 6 more books before coming to the same epilogue point. It felt arbitrary.

All in all, however, any other complaints I have are minor (occasional clunky dialogue or clichéd speech pattern for a side character, for example, or the lack of non-cliché, fleshed out female characters outside of Aphrodite) and basically not worth mentioning. I’d certainly read another Messick book…or series


Other Reviews:

Self Studies by KATE MESSICK (Book Review #1245)