Crossfire – Sylvia Day

The Crossfire series by Sylvia Day is a fast-paced, well written, dramatic romance series set in modern day New York City. It will greatly appeal to fans of Fifty Shades, but is considerably more entertaining and better written in my opinion.

The heroine is named Eva and she was raised by her mother and a series of extremely wealthy stepfathers. Her best friend / roommate is Cary, a charming and rising male top-model who is currently dating both a girlfriend and a boyfriend. Eva has serious trust issues, and a tendency to run away from relationship problems and commitments because she was sexually abused for years as a child by an older step-brother.

The hero is billionaire businessman Gideon Cross. He can understand and relate to Eva’s problems because he has a few of his own, after witnessing his father’s suicide as a child, and then being abused by his therapist as a teen. Gideon is ruthless, dominant

Bared to you is the first story in the Crossfire series, followed by reflected in you, and entwined with you, captivated by you, and finally, one with you. This series has been completed and the other does not intend to write anymore about Gideon an hour according to her social media posts so this is a great series to check out if you are tired of constantly waiting for the next book.

Top-5-Moments-Crossfire-Series-470

This series has a lot of sex in it,  and a lot of drama between two people used to fucking up their relationships. But despite this, G & E have a soulmate type connection and their love for each other is never in doubt. Day’s writing reminded me of the tale of Odysseus in some ways because Ewa and Gideon have so many trials they must overcome in order to just have each other’s company. Friends, family, and numerous witchy exes all try to keep them apart.

One of the most important aspects of a series for me is the world that is created, and secondary characters are huge factor in this. I love that I quickly grew to care about many of the friends of Gideon and Eva. I cared for Steven and Mark and Trey and Cary and Megumi and Arash and all the rest. I actually hope that a couple of Gideon’s friends have their own books or series one day, particularly Arnoldo or Arash.

I think anyone who has read Crossfire or 50 Shades will inevitably make comparisons between the two series. Both feature a character or two who has been abused as a youth in a sexual manner. Both male heroes are a rich businessmen who are aloof, and difficult to emotionally connect to, though they are highly sexual in nature as well. The heroines are athletics built, smart and educated, new graduates starting out their careers in the field of their choice. But this is where the comparison ends.

Eva is not the wishy-washy, virgin lead that you find in Anastasia. Eva loves sex just as much as Gideon and initiated it as often. The romantic scenes in the Crossfire series are not as kinky. There are no whips, no red room of pain, no sexual contacts. But there is a lot more sex to go with your story. Something I also loved about Eva and Gideon is that there issues don’t magically work themselves out. They go to counselling individually and as a couple because they know they have issues to work through and care enough to do the work so that they will have a stable relationship that will last.

The last book in the series is one with you. I thought that the author was working on another novel until I finished reading it so the series end came as a bit of a surprise to me, even though I mostly feel like it’s a timely end. I feel like today has finished on a strong note and there wasn’t much more to say. That being said, in the last third of this book there is a surprise twist that is very sad and it left me bawling my eyes out into my pillow. I didn’t feel like there was enough time for the reader or the main characters to recover from this plot twist and get over it. At the end of the day this is a romance novel and I like my romances to and happily. I thought this plot twist would have been more appropriate at the beginning of the book or in the previous one. I don’t resent that it happened, but I don’t think it was handled well.

Otherwise, I highly recommend this novel and the whole series to anyone who likes romance. It’s less kinky than my usual fare but still a fantastic read with lots of sex. 

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Xx

How kinky are you?

A couple of years ago I discovered this bdsm test online that seems on the up and up. It is found at bdsmtest.org and I think it started out as a research paper of some kind, seeking data. It certainly isn’t your garden variety buzzfeed test!

Check it out here.

So I just re-took the quiz. I don’t know what my results from last time were, but I have certainly grown as an individual, so I was curious what they would be now.

I like that the test responds to your choices and interests. If you indicate that you would like to learn more or reach out to someone in the lifestyle, it provides options for you to do that. I also provided my email address in case they create more tests of this nature, since I would like to participate in them.

To date, more than 100, 000 participants have been involved! It gives you great results based on this data to show how you answered in comparison to other respondents based on gender and age.

So here are my results! **bites nails, hopes not to be judged**  What are yours?

== Results from bdsmtest.org ==
98% Rope bunny
97% Submissive
75% Experimentalist
75% Brat
74% Masochist
48% Girl/Boy
45% Voyeur
45% Primal (Prey)
42% Slave
27% Ageplayer
27% Exhibitionist
22% Vanilla
11% Pet
11% Degradee
6% Daddy/Mommy
5% Sadist
5% Non-monogamist
4% Switch
3% Rigger
1% Dominant
1% Primal (Hunter)
1% Master/Mistress
1% Brat tamer
0% Degrader
0% Owner

If that gets you hot and steamy, some of the kinkiest books I have reviewed are located here:

His Witness by Vanessa Waltz – A review

Alexandr’s Cherished Submissive by Ann Mayburn – a review

Twist Me by Anna Zaires – book review

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Deliverance by AJ Adams – a review

Deliverance is the “third” book in a series, but it is written as a standalone. There is very little plot from the previous two books and the characters from them turn up for about a half a chapter, only. So I’m calling it a side-quel, and if you haven’t already read The Bonus or Songbird, don’t feel you need to to read Deliverance.

3

Blurb:

“I’m sending you a girl.”
“What?”
“She needs sorting out. I’m talking Exit Strategy.”
Exit Strategy. That’s what we call deprogramming these days. You might call it brainwashing. It’s one of my skills. Give me a man whose idea of heaven is a suicide vest, and I can turn him into a peace loving hippy wannabe.
“She’s a white widow?”
“No. Human trafficking victim turned sex slave and mule. She’s a fucking mess.”
Christ, poor little bint. Now I knew why Suarez was calling me.

Mac is all set for an undercover job when an old friend lands him with Pepper, a human trafficking victim of a Moroccan-Turkish crime syndicate. Unable to turn her away, Mac now has two missions: to infiltrate a terrorist training camp in the Sahara and to be a Master for Pepper.

Warning: contains graphic violence and sex.
Standalone novel, no cliffhangers

—                     —                      —

Ok, I’m going to be honest from the get-go, this book was a bit of a flop for me. I really liked the first two in the series, but Deliverance was a major departure. To begin with, all those characters we met in the first two novels were not in this one, which takes place in England and Algeria. Chloe and Kyle make very brief appearances, but I was expecting the main characters, Mac and Pepper, to go to Mexico at some point and reconnect with them; especially since Mac and Kyle are close and Chloe and Pepper are close. But they didn’t, and although I can understand what the author was trying to do, I feel like she spent two books developing a community only to completely depart from it.

I hope she writes another novel, and returns to Mexico, but I don’t know who would be the main characters. Generally in romance series, there is an obvious next choice or two, and this time there isn’t.

Another reason that I had trouble with Deliverance is because it repeats a lot of the psychological stuff from The Bonus. Chloe and Pepper were both “Raj’s girls”; they came from the same hellhole, although experiencing different “paths” after they were too old for his pedophile tastes. While Chloe got to escape to a limited degree, as a mule for the organization, Pepper was sold into sexual slavery. She was taken so young by her first owner (seriously wish I could use another word that would work but I can’t) that she cannot remember anything before that. I did like some of the new psychology ideas that the author includes. For example, the development of personality and how some aspects of it are just who we are from birth, but mostly, it is shaped by our experiences, circumstances, and models of behaviour around us. Her discussions of multiple personalities, and how we all have them was very intriguing. If you think about it, it’s true. We all act differently between time spent with co-workers, an employer, casual friends, best friends, different family members … it isn’t an act – at least I hope you don’t feel you have to act – but we are a different self with each different group.

What I didn’t enjoy was the repetitious aspects of trying to break the poor girls out of these learned habits. For example, the personas they adopted to please their “Master” and escape brutality for a bit, like Chloe’s kitten and Pepper’s rodeo-girl. In the bonus it was a good addition to the plot and character development. In Deliverance, it just became too much. I didn’t want to read it, and for that long.

I greatly admire Mac for allowing the poor girl to develop herself within the parameters that he set for her, to protect her. I can see how some might argue that he was abusive himself, but I disagree. It is unusual to find a romance novel that is written almost entirely from the man’s point of view. I don’t really think that that is why I had trouble connecting with this book, I think it was just the lack of major plot points and too much space devoted to character development.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, there wasn’t enough action for me. I wanted some big dramatic moments and more appearances by past characters. I have to admit, I got bored and skimmed the last third of the book because I just lost interested and didn’t want to DNF this book, especially after loving the first two books so much.

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BDSM Books … where do I start?!

I can’t quite remember how I stumbled into my first erotic romance / bdsm story.  I had been reading romance novels for years and remember I was watching videos about women’s self-defense and the UFC, and somehow, my googling landed me on a page about a romantic BDSM novel.  I think the male protagonist was a pro fighter, or something???

Regardless, that random stroke of chance introduced me to the world of erotica and let me just say, it was an eye-opening experience! I think this all happened a couple of years before the first book in the Fifty Shades trilogy was released, so I was a bit ahead of the fad.  Now that I have read more authors and sub-genres, I can say that I (thankfully) had a very gentle introduction to bdsm and erotica in literature, reading authors who wrote for newbies and vanilla readers.

If you were looking to try out this sub-genre, my go-to recommendation is Cherise Sinclair. In particular, start reading her Club Shadowlands series, in order.  The author is diligent in writing safe bdsm practices into her writing, repeating the mantra ‘safe, sane, consensual’ in nearly every book and writes as though her readers have no knowledge of the lifestyle. Indeed, in many of her earlier books, the female protagonist discovers bdsm right along with the reader, learning about safety and protocols in a safe environment and with the best of masters. No asshole leads allowed.  Ms. Sinclair also uses what I think of as the building blocks to the lifestyle in her books; each one introduces a new kink or activity, with the latter ones dealing with abuse in the lifestyle (not perpetrated by the hero/heroine), sadism and masochism, and TPE (total power exchange), hence, why I recommend you start with the books at the beginning of her series.

Once you are ready to dive into something with less focus on the beginner themes, or something darker, I recommend Ann Mayburn.  She is currently my favourite author; some of her series are misses for me, but I absolutely LOVE the ones that I do like, in particular Submissives’ Wish and Iron Horse MC (motorcycle club).

Both of these authors are clearly knowledgeable about the lifestyle, with practical experience. Their characters are clear-headed, and consenting adults, any themes of abuse are along the lines of “bad guy makes a play and gets defeated at the end of the book”.  So while abusive scenes may be hard for some readers to digest, I promise it is not in our hero and heroine’s relationship. Also, both of these authors have branched out from the maledom and femsub norm in the romance genre, which means you will be exposed to more varied styles, like a Domme and male sub or two male doms and a female sub in a menage relationship.

The final author I would recommend here I have already written about in a previous post, and that is Joanna Wylde.  While I don’t consider her MC series to be bdsm, her outlaw biker protagonists are Alpha to the extreme, and tend to be rather domineering.  She also writes about explicit sex, so I consider her to be more of an erotica writer than a romance one.  I am a fan of her Reapers MC world and am eagerly awaiting the first book in her Silver Valley series.  Actually, Silver Bastard comes out in 4 days, so look for a review of it next week.

That’s it m’dears, and if you are new to erotica or just wondering what all this Fifty Shades hoopla and debate is about, these are some great, educational, fictional stories to start off with, and learn a bit more about what some of your neighbours are doing behind closed doors.  You can leave questions for me in the comments section if you want to, and if you need help figuring out series orders, I’m your gal.

xx