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On a Book Bender

A Fleshy Top Off Tuesday

in Top Off Tuesday

It’s that time again — Tuesday! — which means I attempt to brighten your day with half-naked men. Read on at your own risk.  Top Off Tuesdays was started by FeliciaChristi and me.  It is where we (and you!) share the book covers that make us swoon.  Head over to Felicia’s blog to share your Top Off Tuesday link or to see what everyone has posted.

“Psychosexual thriller,” you guys. A horrific synopsis for a peek of bum.

In this first installment of the exciting new psychosexual thriller, The Flesh Cartel, orphaned brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael are stolen in the night from their own home. Taken to a horrifying processing facility, they are assessed, microchipped, and subjected to unspeakable brutality—all in preparation for sale to the highest bidder.

In a world where every person has a price, the beautiful and subduable PhD student Dougie is highly prized. His brother, a rough-edged MMA fighter, is less desirable—and potentially too dangerous—but he still has his own appeal.

Abused and locked up under round the clock surveillance, with no idea where they are or even why they’ve been taken, escape seems impossible, which leaves staying together their only hope. And after being separated once by the foster system, they’ll do anything to keep it from happening again. Anything at all.

(Publisher’s note: This title contains material some may find objectionable or trigger-inducing, including explicit violence, non-consent, and forced incest.)
-from Goodreads

8 comments
When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer {Amanda’s Review}When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer
Series: Impossible Bachelors #1
Also in this series: Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right
Genres: Historical, Regency, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
three-half-stars
Add to Goodreads
He's always been a player.

Dashing Lord Harry Traemore is perfectly content to live out his days in the pursuit of pleasure. But when he's named by the Prince Regent as one of society's "Impossible Bachelors," Harry is drafted into a ribald romantic wager. The rules of engagement are scandalously simple: The bachelor whose mistress wins the title of "Most Delectable Companion" gets to remain unmarried. Harry is utterly unconcerned about his status...until his latest lightskirt abandons him.

Who will win this game of love?

Enter Lady Molly Fairbanks. Harry's childhood friend—actually, "foe" is more like it—is the most unlikely companion of all. She's attractive but hot-headed, and in no mood for games. Besides, what could the self-indulgent Harry possibly know about what makes a woman delectable? It's time for Molly to teach him a lesson once and for all...but will it lead to "happily ever after"?

Delightfully unbelievable, in a lovely way.

Thoughts on When Harry Met Molly

So here’s the deal: I was prowling the shelves at the library when I picked up one of the books in this series, read the back, and instantly knew I had to read this series.

Because the synopsis made a play on the lyrics from Single Ladies by Beyonce. And I smiled, looked at the titles, laughed, and grabbed every book in the series. When Harry Met Molly was the first one.

The setup of this book is ridiculous, but in a rather lovely way. It’s meant to be amusing, and it is. Outrageous and not believable but fun. And when it comes to historical romances, I like them fun.

Also heady and sexy, but there’s a place for that here too.

I liked Molly. She got a rather crappy deal, having to be a false mistress to her childhood foe (good thing his kisses helped change her mind, amirite?), but she truly applied herself to winning over both the bachelors and their mistresses.

Harry I was more dubious about. Of course, that made his character development more fascinating to watch, especially as we get to know him better. There was a moment I wanted to smack him, but then all was better.

(There were a lot of “then”s in this book too, but rather than finding it too annoying, it seemed to lend itself to the playful style. Looking forward to the rest of the series.)

8 comments
Written in Red by Anne Bishop {Tara’s Review}Written In Red by Anne Bishop
Series: The Others #1
Published by Penguin
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, General
Pages: 512
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
four-half-stars
Add to Goodreads
No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans. As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others. Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

engrossing juxtaposition of violence and innocence

Why did I read this? Am I glad I did?

(Amanda told me I could format this how I would like. Woot! So I’m going to include some sections I used on 25 Hour Books.)

As I mentioned in my last review, I’m a different kind of reader now that I’m a working mom. I’m also picking my books differently. I’m almost avoiding books that I feel will suck me in. I don’t want to be too emotionally invested into a character I have to keep tucking away. I picked wrong with Written in Red. I was sucked in from the first chapter. As has been my norm lately, I read this as a mix of eBook and audio. I LOVE that Amazon links the two and I can pick up in one version where I left off in the other. I try to start with the audio (if I don’t there is a higher chance the voice won’t match in my head). Right from the start, the narrator did a fantastic job of conveying the urgency of Meg and the realism of the Others. There is some special language built around this alternate world, but as a fantasy reader it didn’t not bother me.

Meg and the Others could not be more different. Anne Bishop does not hold back with violent nature of the beasts. It’s not over the top at all, but it’s not “I’ll tame the wolf and he’ll be human and love me” either. Then there is Meg who is childlike in her ignorance of the outside world. I loved the depth and growth of not just the main characters, but the more minor characters were brilliant as well.

If I were to break down the plot, it would sound slow paced. But I couldn’t put it down. I wanted more time with each character. I wanted to know more and more and more. And now that I’ve finished this review, I’m starting book 2 on my way home.

Favorite Quotes

Most of the terra indigene didn’t want to love humans; they wanted to eat them. Why did humans have such a hard time understanding that?

 

2 comments
Spirited Away by Angela Campbell {Kelly’s Review}Spirited Away by Angela Campbell
Series: The Psychic Detective Series #3
Published by HarperCollins
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 263
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
four-stars
Add to Goodreads

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kindle
Book 3 in the brilliantly witty ‘Psychic Detective’ series from Angela Campbell – perfect for fans of the Sookie Stackhouse & Stephanie Plum books!

Who knew pet-sitting could be so dangerous...or so sexy?!

Socially awkward Emma “Spider” Fisher prefers her laptop to people, so she’s more than happy to oblige her boss when he asks her to pet- and house-sit while he honeymoons in London.

But it doesn’t take long for accident-prone Spider to lose a dog, get locked out of the house, and set off the house alarm!

Thankfully, her hot new neighbor is more than happy to come to her rescue. But Noah West is a mystery to Spider—and one she intends to solve.

Ghosts, mayhem and danger. Oh, yeah.

Thoughts on Spirited Away

As I’ve been known to do, I started this series on a book other than book 1. I’m a rebel. I know. Hardcore. Anyway. Starting mid-series didn’t cause me any moments of confusion (awesome) and the bits of backstory we were given had enough explanation to whet my appetite for more (even more awesome). As an aside, hunky demon slayer/ghost talker dude… I might have to go back and read the book he made an earlier appearance in. Because I do like hunky dudes who can nonchalantly deal with demons and/or ghosts. As one does.

As for this book, ghosts. Lots of ghosts. And some coincidences that made me wonder if the supernatural has a hand in guiding individuals toward answers they wouldn’t have known to ask about if they hadn’t been thrown into certain situations. <–that’s me being vague. *evil laugh*

Right. So. Emma/Spider. I liked how she made a conscious decision to change herself from the person she was before into the person she longed to be. She was intelligent and flighty all at once–something that took a little getting used to–and very determined to show her bosses and co-workers that she has what it takes to get the job done.

And then there’s Noah. Secrets and half-truths abound with him. Not all of them FROM him, either. The poor guy gets a heavy dose of truth dropped on him and deals with it admirably.

A solid mystery with nice elements of the supernatural (and one hunky secondary character who I wouldn’t mind reading more about) and … well, let’s face it, I like ghosts and hot guys. So this book worked for me.

Kelly Loves Books... and you!

2 comments

It’s that time again — Tuesday! — which means I attempt to brighten your day with half-naked men. Read on at your own risk.  Top Off Tuesdays was started by FeliciaChristi and me.  It is where we (and you!) share the book covers that make us swoon.  Head over to Felicia’s blog to share your Top Off Tuesday link or to see what everyone has posted.

Let’s be honest, friends. You miss the craziness of EC covers. That’s why I was so pleased to find this one—EC-style, but not EC. Also, I wish these covers on Goodreads were larger. I feel like that’s the only way to do these covers justice.

Turn off the lights . . . and turn on your darkest fantasies.

Demon pacts. Ghostly possessions. Monsters lurking in the depths. The things that go bump in the night frighten us, but they also intrigue us. Fascinate us. Even turn us on.

Join us as fan favorites Ally Blue and Kari Gregg bring over-amorous aquatic beasts to life with their mythic twists on the Siren and the monster in the lake. Erotic horror pros Heidi Belleau, Sam Schooler, and Brien Michaels show us just how sexy scary can be with a pair of demon deals destined to curl your toes and set your heart thrashing. And literary masters Laylah Hunter and Peter Hansen weave haunting worlds where ghosts and dead lovers can touch our hearts (and other, naughtier places too . . .) and teach us lessons from beyond the grave.

By turns exciting, evocative, and exquisitely explicit, the stories in Bump in the Night are sure to scratch your sexy paranormal itch. Explore your wildest fantasies with us in this collection of dark erotic tales.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: drug use, dubious consent, explicit violence, non-consent.
-from Goodreads

6 comments
Surprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie {Amanda’s Review}Surprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie
Series: Duchess of Love #2
Also in this series: Bedding Lord Ned
Genres: Historical, Regency, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
three-stars
Add to Goodreads
One naughty little masquerade can't hurt…

Unladylike Behavior

Frances Hadley has managed her family’s estate for years. So why can’t she request her own dowry? She’ll have to go to London herself and knock some sense into the men interfering in her life. With the nonsense she’s dealt with lately, though, there’s no way she’s going as a woman. A pair of breeches and a quick chop of her red curls, and she’ll have much less to worry about…

Jack Valentine, third son of the famous Duchess of Love, is through being pursued by pushy young ladies. One particularly determined miss has run him out of his own house party. Luckily the inn has one bed left—Jack just has to share with a rather entertaining red-headed youth. Perhaps the two of them should ride to London together. It will make a pleasant escape from his mother’s matchmaking melodrama!

More surprising for old people fornicating.

Thoughts on Surprising Lord Jack

Y’all, this is the old people fornicating series. Not surprising, considering that, despite being about the Duchess of Love’s boys, the series title is the Duchess of Love herself. While there’s less fornicating in book 2, it’s hinted at enough to make me think mom and dad are getting it on more than their children.

Which is… well, we all have parents. I won’t say more than that.

Surprising Lord Jack begins almost exactly where Bedding Lord Ned (again, where there’s less bedding of Lord Ned than bedding of his parents) leaves off, though of course from Jack’s (and Frances’s) POV.

Jack, while not cookie cutter historical romance hero material, isn’t outside the realm of what you’d expect a hero to be. He hides his activities (saving women and children from poverty, death, and other unsavory happenings) under a carefully cultivated rakish reputation. Jack worked. He was kind and sweet, and his devotion to Frances was completely in line with his character.

Frances, on the other hand, deals with a lot of upheaval and change — to the point that I had to wonder if she was romance heroine material. Everything she learns about how she grew up throws her into turmoil, making her question who she is and her values.

Can you fall in lasting love when you’re still figuring out who you are? It’s not impossible, of course, but I had my doubts at the end of the book. I don’t like being left to entertain doubts at the end of a book.

Not mentioned in the synopsis is the murders of women of ill-repute that Jack is determined to solve. It’s a rather important plot thread that was surprisingly easy to figure out. But as a long-time mystery reader who also studies how to construct stories, well, it was easy to piece things together.

6 comments

Blind Date with a Book

in Blind Date with a Book

bdwab

Here’s a frequent scene at my house:

Me, sitting (or standing) in front of the shelf of books that I have to read. Or, perhaps it’s me staring at the computer screen of my Goodreads to-read page, scrolling aimlessly up and down the 200+ titles. I pick up one book (or click on one title). Interesting, but not what I’m in the mood for right now. I select another . . . eh, too heavy. I want something lighter.

Ten to twelve selections later, I heave a heavy sigh, close my eyes, shoot out my hand (or cursor) and grab the first one my fingers (or mouse) touch and hope for the best. After all, I have the book (or have the book marked as “to-read”) so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, right?

If this is in any way familiar, you, like me, probably want someone to point you in the right direction . . . set you up, as it were. Well, I’m here to help! If you’re looking for a hot new read, a book in a particular category, or just something you haven’t tried before, let me tempt you to your next read!

This month’s bachelor/ette books are:

Book #1:

  • Science fiction
  • Apocalyptic
  • Narrative

Book #2:

  • Cozy mystery
  • Series opener
  • Outdoors

Book #3:

  • Romance
  • Mystery
  • Suspense

Want to go on a reading date with one of these books? Or, think you’ve met one of these eligible catches already and want to guess as the titles? Here’s what you can do:

  • Leave a comment to request a date. Let me know which bachelor/ette you’d like to spend a little time with and I’ll email you back privately with the title of the book and the author. (NOTE: I’ll only respond via email, so don’t came back to this post looking for my response, okay? Okay!)
  • If you want to hazard a guess at the title of one (or more!) of the books, you can leave a comment to do that, as well. Once again, be sure to let me know which bachelor/ette you think you’ve unmasked. Just to be sure we don’t spoil the fun for other readers/dates, I’ll contact you privately to let you know if your right – or wrong!
  • Finally, do you have a book that you know On a Book Bender readers will love? Leave a comment – something along the lines of Date My Book, Jenna! – and I’ll get in touch to see when we can feature your Blind Date With a Book contender!

 

Girl with Book Lungs

1 comment
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen {Jenna’s Review}Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
Published by Coleman publishers Ltd.
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism
Pages: 122
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
three-stars
Add to Goodreads
From beloved bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen comes her long-awaited new novel, Lost Lake, about heartbroken people finding hope at a magical place in Georgia.

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life?

Sometimes lost loves aren't really lost. They're right where you left them, waiting for you to find them again.

A little something sweet and magical

 

My Thoughts

Since Garden Spells, I have been a big fan of Sarah Addison Allen’s particular brand of magical realism. Her stories always feel so personal to me; I slip into the worlds she pictures with an easy grace, led entirely by her. So I was surprised to find myself stutter-stepping into the pages of Lost Lake.

Set in Suley, Georgia, Lost Lake is a multi-generational family story, at the heart of which is love and money (or, rather love of money). Eby Pim was one of the lucky ones – marrying a man for love who just so happened to have money, as well. But her family, more specifically the women in her family, have always hungered for fortune – and now want Eby and her husband George to return home from their European honeymoon and toe the line, so to speak.

In present day, the young widow, Kate Pheris (Eby’s great-neice) has discovered a rebellious side of herself after “sleeping” through the first year following her husband’s sudden death. While looking through an old trunk during the preparation for a move, Kate’s daughter, Devin, finds an old postcard to Kate from Eby, sent several years earlier and hidden from Kate for all of that time. Together, they set off to find Lost Lake – the cottage resort that Eby and George own. Forgotten memories of a childhood visit creep back to Kate, who finds that her daughter and she are both blooming in the humid lake air.

Lost Lake has the beautiful lyric voice that I have come to love so much, as well as heart, family, romance, and magic. And yet, I feel as though I didn’t enjoy the story as much as I have enjoyed previous books by Sarah Addison Allen. Still one of my very favorite authors, still a must-read writer, simply a story that didn’t resonate as strongly for this reader.

 

Girl with Book Lungs

4 comments

It’s that time again — Tuesday! — which means I attempt to brighten your day with half-naked men. Read on at your own risk.  Top Off Tuesdays was started by FeliciaChristi and me.  It is where we (and you!) share the book covers that make us swoon.  Head over to Felicia’s blog to share your Top Off Tuesday link or to see what everyone has posted.

I’m sad this picture is so small, but I couldn’t resist the flower that seems to be affixed in his crack.

He must find redemption in the most unlikely bedchamber…

In Victorian England vice of every kind can be purchased, and Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, makes certain he avails himself of every possible pleasure. Bored and jaded, he is as well-known for his coldness as for his licentious affairs with beautiful women.

While these numerous dalliances fulfill Matthew’s every physical need, they secretly leave him numb and emotionally void. Until one night when he finds himself beaten, eyes bandaged and in the care of a nurse with the voice of an angel – and a gentle touch that soothes the darkness in him and makes him yearn for more.

Yet Jane Rankin is a lowly nurse, considered shy and plain by most. There is no place for her amongst the lords and ladies of the aristocracy – despite Matthew’s growing craving for the fire that burns behind her earnest facade. And then there is Matthew’s secret. A secret so humiliating and scandalous is could destroy everyone he loves. A sin, he fears, not even the love of a good woman can take away.
-from Goodreads

12 comments
Seducing Mr. Knightly by Maya Rodale {Amanda’s Review}Seducing Mr. Knightly by Maya Rodale
Series: The Writing Girls #4
Also in this series: A Tale of Two Lovers
Published by HarperCollins
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
four-half-stars
Add to Goodreads
He’s the only man she’s ever loved…

For ages it seems advice columnist Annabelle Swift has loved Derek Knightly, editor-owner of The London Weekly from a distance. Determined to finally attract her employer’s attention, she seeks advice from her loyal readers—who offer Annabelle myriad suggestions…from lower-cut bodices (success!) and sultry gazes (disaster!) to a surprise midnight rendezvous (wicked!).

She’s the only woman he never noticed…

Derek never really took note of his shy, wallflower lady writer. But suddenly she’s exquisite…and he can’t get Annabelle out of his mind! She must be pursuing someone, but who? For some inexplicable reason, the thought of her with another man makes Knightly insanely jealous.

Will Dear Annabelle find her happy ending?

But Knightly’s scandalous periodical has been targeted for destruction by a vengeful Lord Marsden, and the beleaguered editor now faces a devastating choice: either marry Marsden’s sister to save his beloved newspaper…or follow his heart and wed his Writing Girl.

Rodale had me snorting with laughter.

Thoughts on Seducing Mr. Knightly

Ever since I stopped caring about romance series order, I manage to pick up the last in the series. How does that work? Even so, I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything important, which is, actually, quite an achievement.

So. I heard about Maya Rodale a while ago, saw this book at the library, read the synopsis and promptly put it back. It’s not my kind of thing.

I went back recently, determined not to read the synopsis (even though I’d not forgotten the general idea of the book — apparently I thought willfully ignoring the synopsis this time would make it better, I don’t know), and picked it up. Again.

And I’m glad I did. Because Maya Rodale’s writing had me snorting with laughter. And I do so enjoy reading romances that don’t take themselves completely seriously.

Because I’m not always a fan of the unrequited love trope (um… Miranda Cheever and Michael Stirling, I’m looking at you two, since those are the two recent ones), I wasn’t sure how this would play out. And let’s just say: I liked the way Rodale handled it.

Let’s just say it that while it was often one-sided, it was not always one-sided one-sided. I’ll let you make of that what you will.

Definitely looking forward to picking up more Maya Rodale.

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