Fighting Attraction (Redemption #4)

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My sweet, sexy Penny has a dark side. Just like me.
I will have her. And then I will lose her, and suffer a lifetime of regret.

Rampage. Everyone loves him. He is Redemption’s top heavyweight fighter and the biggest gossip in the gym. But he isn’t the teddy bear everyone thinks he is. He’s hiding a dark secret-and he hates himself for it.

Twice a week, Rampage transforms into Master Jack, a notorious dom only the most hard-core submissives will play with. How can he-a Southern gentleman, bred to respect and protect women-want to dominate them?

But Penny Worthington wants him. Beneath her pearls, kitten heels, and prim British exterior beats a tortured heart…Master Jack is the only one who can set her free.

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Fighting Attraction is the fourth book in the series Redemption, which features alpha heroes who train mixed martial arts at a fight club called (you guessed it) Redemption. This instalment is about club favourite Rampage, who has a secret life as a prominent Dom/sadist at the local private kink club. When friend Penny accidentally stumbles upon his secret, something in her is piqued at a healthier way to mix pain and sex than the abusive relationships and self-harm she hides in her past.

In many ways I felt that Fighting Attraction was the best written book in this series so far. Many of the interactions and conversations were more realistic to how people actually talk and I could appreciate the way that Penny and Rampage tried to overcome some pretty big differences to work things out.

However, I felt like the author got some ideas in her head about how to write Rampage as the hero for this book, ideas that were inconsistent with her past descriptions of him. Here, Rampage is both an up and coming professional athlete, a past underground champion and still maintains a secret life as a top Dom in the city of Oakland where the whole story takes place. I found it difficult to believe that he could be so well known in one life and so low-profile about his secret at the same time.

Also, Rampage is the club gossip who knows everything about everyone but somehow disappears a few nights a week to attend the kink club. You would think he would value other people’s privacy more when he has such a potentially devastating secret to hide.

He also is seemingly able to turn down his need for a sexual submission in an instant when Penny indicates that she is a masochist but not a submissive. It made it seem like that was a fun kink he played at rather than a strong part of his personality and I felt like it did the real work D/s lifestyle a disservice.

Rampage is also charmingly southern in this book. Its not overdone, but he was most definitely raised a southern gentleman, something that didn’t come across in previous books. He also apparently has access to his family’s “old money” despite being estranged from them. These inconsistencies kept popping up throughout the story, distracting me from the romance at hand.

Overall, Fighting Attraction was entertaining but I hope the author keeps improving in her writing. I noticed she has the fifth book coming out in early 2018 and will be happy to jump back into this world then.

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Leopard’s Blood by Christine Feehan

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan cuts straight to the heart of a man who stalks the shadows in an intoxicating Leopard novel.

Though born into a leopard’s lair in the bayou, Joshua Tregre’s fighting skills were honed in the rainforests of Borneo. Sleek and deadly, he’s the perfect man to take over a crime syndicate back home in Louisiana’s lush swamplands. His razor sharp instincts give him an edge in the violent underworld he knows so well, but even the watchful leopard inside him isn’t prepared for the danger that comes from the girl next door…

She is a woman who can create beauty out of thin air—and out of the ruins of her own life. The games that dangerous men play have taken their toll on her, but she is bent, not broken. And it’s her fierce spirit that’s like a lure to Joshua, a temptation he can’t resist—even if it means bringing his true nature into the light…

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Leopard’s Blood starts with a bang!

The couple meet straight off when Sonia’s leopard goes into heat for the first time, and she calls to her mate, Shadow. This is a change from many of the other books in the Leopard series where the heroine doesn’t shift forms until the latter part of the book. One of the aspects of this series that I really like is seeing the interaction between the two leopards, and the leopards and their respective human partners so it provided more opportunity for this to happen.

Joshua is much more patient and understanding than most of the other Leopard men we have met, which makes sense because he has a reputation as one of the more level-headed guys. He might actually be my favourite hero! Although paranoid about his mate’s security, he is happy to work with her and support her career, rather than trying to get her to stay at home. He also doesn’t mind her having male friends, secure in her commitment to him emotionally, even when she is still on the fence. This is a welcome change from previous couples – not that I dislike the he-man routine, but it helps keep the series from becoming repetitive and one-dimensional.

Throughout my reading of Leopard’s Blood, I was going to give the book a five star review for most of the story, but I decided to drop it down to four. Without giving away too many plot details, a serious altercation occurs which results in Sonia and Joshua’s leopards being furious with each other and although the humans resolve it, the leopards never really appear again, except in fight sequences. It felt like the story was unresolved and a moment I was really looking forward to didn’t happen.

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Club Shadowlands (Masters of the Shadowlands Book 1)

Cherise Sinclair has been my favourite author for the last year or two, especially lately. I stumbled upon Club Shadowlands when she only had four published novels, and burned through those in a week. Ever since, it seems I have been anxiously waiting for the next book. Cherise Sinclair, the Queen of Tease 😉

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Her car disabled during a tropical storm, Jessica Randall discovers the isolated house where she’s sheltering is a private bondage club. At first shocked, she soon becomes aroused watching the interactions between the Doms and their subs. But she’s a professional woman–an accountant–and surely isn’t a submissive…is she?

Master Z hasn’t been so attracted to a woman in years. But the little sub who has wandered into his club intrigues him. She’s intelligent. Reserved. Conservative. After he discovers her interest in BDSM, he can’t resist tying her up and unleashing the passion she hides within.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, strong BDSM theme and content (including/not limited to bondage, caning, restraints, spanking, etc), exhibitionism, voyeurism.

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Club Shadowlands is a fantastic introductory story for someone who is new to erotica, and especially for those who are new to BDSM. I adore Sinclair’s writing style, steamy sex scenes and well thought out plot lines. Things rarely feel contrived or forced in a Cherise Sinclair novel.

Another reason why she is my go-to recommendation for those dipping their toe in to the kink pond is that Sinclair’s books contain informative explanations about bdsm, with healthy relationships that are based on consensual scenes. I asked her once about this on social media and she explained that she tries to introduce a new kink in every book, so I really feel like these books serve as stepping stones into the bdsm community. If you are a newbie, like I was when I discovered Club Shadowlands, you will get a great introduction to different kinks and relationship types, without feeling like you are reading something educational.

Early on in Club Shadowlands, the heroine makes a comparison to her adventure into the club, likening it to a kinky Alice in Wonderland experience which is both hilarious and apt. There are sprinkles of humour throughout although I wouldn’t describe this as a funny book, but I love Jessica’s matter of fact way of looking at the world and her clear, unmuddled emotions.

Club Shadowlands is novella length, but you get updates on the couple throughout the series so it doesn’t feel like they have been short changed at all. Indeed, several of the books in the beginning of this series are shorter, and as the author became more comfortable (and as readers demanded longer tales), they gradually grew in length.

“Z”, the hero of the story and the owner of the bdsm club Jessica stumbles into is a mind-reader, military vet and current psychologist. I adore him and his mind-reading ability is more of a quirky plus in the series, rather than a lead-in two a whole new range of paranormal.

Club Shadowlands is Free on amazon so try it out! There are lots of books out in this series if you decide you love it as much as I do, which I can pretty much guarantee if you like the majority of other books that I blog about.

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Beyond the Horizon – a Sons of Templar novel

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From Goodreads: 

Life is counted in tiny breaths, ones that measure the length of your existence. Life stole the ability to make those breaths easy when Lily was nine years old. Turned her quiet. Made her curl into herself, and shut out a world that threatened to bury her under its weight.

The end of her world is what brings him back—her biker. His chocolate eyes pierce her soul while his club tempts her with a life that she didn’t know she could ever have. Especially not when she was clutching the tattered remains of her existence, and with a weight bearing down on her which makes her unfit for the role of Old Lady. Asher changes that. He wants to set about repairing it, repairing her and her broken world. The problem is, even his strong shoulders can’t carry the burden of her sorrow.

Asher doesn’t take no for an answer. She may have given him her heart three years ago, but never in her wildest dreams would she imagine she had possessed his for the same amount of time.

Just when it seems like she may be able to ride off into the horizon, the world isn’t quite finished trying to rob her of breath. Of life.

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This review was really hard to write. I’ve been sitting on it for months and months. Because Beyond the Horizon was really hard for me to read. Straight up trigger warning here.

The book opens with the heroine on the day of her mother’s funeral. She died from cancer. I don’t think there are many people out there who haven’t had cancer touch their lives in some way. I have lost several family members to cancer and didn’t last five pages before I was bawling my eyes out.

The book in large part comprises Lily’s grief and attempts to get on with life. There are also numerous flashbacks to the years where she is her mother’s primary caregiver. Beyond the Horizon has more heart and is much more of a tear-jerker than any other Sons of Templar MC novel. The story is great but it was so difficult to read that it will probably only ever be a book I can skim in future, rather than properly re-reading.

So if you don’t want to read about cancer or a daughter overcoming her mother’s death, skip ahead to Dauntless. If it is a topic you can handle, read on because you are in for a great story.

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Evocation by William Vitelli

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Eileen falls further down the rabbit hole, as her husband continues her training. A deep passion is ignited within her, and Eileen finds herself adapting to her new role more fully than she would have dreamed possible.

As her training continues, she is awakened to a world of new possibilities, more daring and exciting than she would have dreamed of.

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Evocation is the follow-up book to Elicitation. It includes all the sexual practices exhibited in the previous book and also focuses heavily on enforced availability and orgasm denial. Anthony’s goal is to train Eileen’s body and mind to constantly crave sex, especially his type of rough sex.

This book follows the same pattern as the first, in that it is focused on sexual content rather than plot or character development. It is purely erotica with little romance included, but it is so well written that I still enjoyed the story.

If you had to ask me to name the dirtiest book I’d ever read, these two would be vying for top spot!

Not for the faint of heart! If you have concerns about a certain practice triggering a negative memory, please read the story tags for this post before reading the books.

I hope that one day the author will write book three in the Training of Eileen.

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The Dom’s Dungeon

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Foster child. Teenage whore. Now a veterinarian, MacKensie’s turned her life around, but the scars remain. She saves her affection for the animals who never judge or scorn her, but it’s time to get out, move on from her past in Iowa. So, she arranges a vacation exchange to job hunt in Seattle.

Although the house is lovely, one room is locked. Her years in foster care have given her two ‘gifts’: a neurosis about locked doors and the ability to open them. After she gets into the room, she’s appalled…and intrigued. Chains and manacles, whips and paddles, odd benches with straps…

When Alex returns home days early and finds MacKensie draped over the spanking bench in his locked dungeon, he’s furious. But her wariness arouses his protective nature and curiosity, so he strikes a deal to keep her close—she’ll act as his submissive in exchange for a place to stay and help finding a job.

He’d planned to use the veterinarian to deter an ex-girlfriend, not replace her, but with MacKensie’s compelling mixture of strength and vulnerability, the little sub slides right into his well-defended heart.

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Cherise Sinclair is one of favourite authors (possibly my ACTUAL favourite) and I have been reading her for years now. I started in early when she had only published five books or so and never got off the crazy train to sexy-ville.

One of those stories that has always stuck with me was a standalone, set in the Seattle bdsm club “Chains”. The Dom’s Dungeon tells the story of Mackensie, a young veterinarian with serious trust issues who house swaps for two weeks with a wealthy, sexym dominant beast who is travelling to her hometown for a conference. Alas, he misses his flight and walks back into his house to find Mac in an *ahem* compromising position.

This is a shorter story than I usually prefer, coming in around 250 pages, which is characteristic of this author’s earlier writing. However the steamy sex (spanking anyone?!), and strong character development make up for the shorter length. One of the things that I really liked about the Dom’s Dungeon is that the story focuses on the heroine, Mackensie, and her story. Normally I like balance between the couple, but it works in this case and the author doesn’t resort to “hero does something goofy and learns from his mistake” trope to add to his arc just because.

The Dom’s Dungeon is an excellent book to read if you are looking for steamy scenes in a well thought-out plot that actually makes sense and doesn’t have any flowery prose such as “thrusting members” and “womanly petals”.

I have long hoped that Ms. Sinclair would turn The Dom’s Dungeon into a series like she has with the Shadowlands. Steel and Drake have stories that need to be told!!! And although everything is SSC, the vibe I got from Chains is that its a little scarier than the Shadowlands. Maybe because of the extremely negative experience that Mac runs into in the story, or because her nemesis Cynthia got a much more extreme (though just) punishment than I think she would have gotten in the other series. I have commented on the author’s social media a couple of times this year, hoping for a book for Drake or Steel, so who knows, maybe I have put the bug in her ear and she is as ready for a change of pace as I am!

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Exquisite Innocence (Iron Horse MC #5)

Lyric

I’ve spent my entire life on my parent’s isolated religious compound, sheltered and cut off from the rest of the world. It left me ill prepared to face the evil that invaded my home, and after a horrific encounter with demons masquerading as men, I fled. Some might say that my refuge is even worse than the prison I grew up in, but the men and women of the Iron Horse MC have been better to me than my own family. Unfortunately, the trouble I thought I left behind is still hunting me for reasons I don’t understand. Hustler has been assigned to be my guardian, but to my foolish heart he may be the biggest threat of all. Everything inside of me tells me we belong together, that I’ve been put on this earth to be his, but he insists we’ll never be anything more than friends.

Hustler

For as long as I can remember the Iron Horse MC has been my family. I’ve fought, bled, and sacrificed a piece of my soul for my brothers, but I’ve been set up, labeled a traitor by those I trusted most. My only hope comes in the form of a naive young girl I’ve been tasked with protecting, a woman who’s haunted both my heart and dreams. She’s everything good and beautiful in this world, and while I’ll never allow her to tarnish herself by loving me, I’ll do everything I can to make sure she survives.

(This unconventional MC series is one that SHOULD be read in order, starting with Exquisite Trouble).

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Exquisite Innocence is the fifth book in the Iron Horse MC series by Ann Mayburn. Iron Horse is my second favourite MC series and each of the couples in it has a two book arc. Which means that this book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger and the conclusion to Lyric and Hustler’s story will be released at the end of 2017, according to the author’s social media accounts.

This series is multi-faceted. It covers the outlaw MC world, the mafia world, and brings in the world of religious cults in this novel as well. It occurs in the same universe as the Submissive’s Wish series by Mayburn and there is cross-over between the two, something I happen to love.

Lyric and Hustler are super easy to fall in love with, both as individuals and as a couple. They fit well together and come alive on the page. There was a preview to this in the final scenes of the previous books so the character pairing isn’t a surprise, but I like how to the author expanded upon Lyric’s backstory, and showed Hustler’s more serious and dangerous side, which was previously hidden.

You knew it had to exist because he was an Enforcer for an outlaw motorcycle club, but he seems so goofy, chatty and sex-oriented that you forgot to be afraid, or at least that little bit on guard.

There are two main complaints that I had about Exquisite Innocence: that it wasn’t long enough (this is a short novel at about 55,000 words) which is significantly shorter than the other books in this series. And, it has been painfully obvious to me since book one who the “baddie” is, undermining and betraying his club brothers and trying to kidnap the heroines left right and centre. The author confirms in this book but I was greatly hoping that this “suspense” arc would have resolved by now!

Mayburn’s other main series (that I read at least) is the Submissive’s Wish series about Russian Bratva Doms and their beloved subs, and I feel like that series is much more complicated, well-thought out and fulfilling as a reader. I feel like not as much time went into establishing the series arcing plot points in Iron Horse, because let’s be honest. I’m not THAT perceptive and the majority of readers shouldn’t have been able to figure it out so easily.

EI would have been much more enjoyable if I didn’t feel that the author was stringing the reader along, trying to perpetuate the “Chief betrayal storyline” for several books longer than enjoyable. It also annoyed me when I downloaded my pre-order to find that the book was so short. As I mentioned above, it is significantly shorter than previous books in the same series and publication was delayed by a month. It makes me suspicious that the author had to split the book into two last minute (posting the update this summer on her social media accounts) rather than publishing one complete story. Most romance novels I read are more than 100 000 words, most actually push 130 000, so the length of the first half definitely does not necessitate splitting this book into two for me.

Unfortunately these issues took an otherwise great story and dropped it down to three stars, IMHO. Hopefully the next book makes up for it because Lyric and Hustler are a great couple and I want to see them have their time in the sun. I am also intrigued by several other characters and hope to read romance stories for Hulk, Sledge/Marley, and Tom Sokolov before the series concludes!

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