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About Jane Litte

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REVIEW:  Full Throttle by Erin McCarthy

REVIEW: Full Throttle by Erin McCarthy

Dear Ms. McCarthy:

In the Fast Track series, boosk 1 through 3 were my favorite. There was just the right balance of sexy fun for me. The middle of the series veered away from what drew me in but I felt Full Throttle returned in tempo and tone to those original books.

Shawn Hamby has been friends with Eve Monroe-Ford, a stock car driver, since they were kids. As adults they participate in a book club which is really a front for four friends to get together and do crazy stuff. This time they visit a fetish club in Charlotte where she gets invited to dance by a confident and sexy man named “Rhett.” Shawn thinks his name is made up and tells him that she’s Scarlett. The two have a connection but Shawn is drawn away by one of her book club friends. Outside the club an embarrassed Eve confesses that Shawn was dancing with Eve’s younger brother in law.

“Nolan’s little brother, Rhett.”

“That guy’s name is really Rhett?” she asked in amazement. Now she felt like a jerk for doubting it. “I thought he was making that up!”

“No, it’s really his name. He’s twenty-five years old and he’s in a sex club. Oh, my God, how am I going to look him in the face?”

“Twenty-five?” Shawn squawked, horrified. “Good Lord, he’s a fetus!” Who she had been contemplating pursuing so she could get a serious look at him naked. Her cheeks burned. “He looked older than twenty-five. He looked too hot to be that young. And I thought Nolan’s little brother was well, little. It never, ever occurred to me that the fake Rhett could be the real Rhett. You always talk about him like he’s seventeen.”

“To me, he might as well be. He’s Nolan’s little brother! What the hell was he doing there?” Eve asked, pulling out of the parking lot.

Oh, Shawn had a funny feeling she knew exactly what he was looking for. She might not be particularly knowledgeable about the lifestyle, but she could pick up on a clue or two. “I think he was a Dom looking for a submissive,” she said, not at all sure how she felt about any of this.

“What?” Eve said, moaning. “Oh, shit, I’m going to die. I do not want to picture that. God!”

Erin McCarthy Full ThrottleThe setup is clear. Rhett (his real name) is interested in Shawn, an older woman. Giving him a BDSM interest makes perfect sense in the book because it explains one of the reasons that he’s attracted to Shawn. Younger woman are often scared off by his seriousness. Rhett works on Eve’s pit crew and is interested in dirt track racing. Conveniently Shawn owns a classic racing track.  The problem is that she’ll lose ownership of the race track if she doesn’t marry. Yes, this is a *will* book and usually I hate these. Fortunately I felt like it was handled in the best way possible. The marriage of convenience places the couple together in close proximity but they agree to have sex because, well, they are attracted to each other.

I thought making Rhett the serious soul who enjoyed a less mainstream sexual lifestyle was smart when pairing him up with Shawn. The difference in their ages (she is thirty-two to his twenty-five) shrank because of his seriousness and his command in the bedroom. Rhett had no problem dropping that role outside the bedroom and was, in fact, written to be more comfortable at some of the domestic arrangements than Shawn which was a nice role reversal.  Shawn was more impulsive, deciding on a whim to propose to Rhett or suggesting that her book club go to a fetish club. And she was also more attracted to the absurd. The pairing worked for me.

And there was something very normal about their interaction. The first morning after, Shawn felt very uncomfortable and wasn’t at all unhappy Rhett had to leave to go to work even though the night before had been incredible. When his mom shows up, she immediately goes toward Shawn’s petite blonde friend and says “Oh, you’re just too cute. Exactly Rhett’s type” and when the mother is pointed toward Shawn quips “Of course, he didn’t marry any of those girls, did he?”

There is almost too little conflict in the story and what was there was easily resolved.  Shawn is the one that tries keeps Rhett at arm’s length and the story focuses a great deal on their relationship inside the bedroom as much as outside. Still, it was a sexy, normal adult romance with really smoking hot love scenes. I appreciated the humor and I liked both Shawn and Rhett.  B-

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Navy Orders by Geri Krotow

REVIEW: Navy Orders by Geri Krotow

Dear Ms. Krotow:

I really loved this cover and I really loved the idea of reading about a female high ranking Naval officer. Lt. Commander Roanna Brandywine is in Naval Intelligence and stationed at Whidbey Island. She’s a year off a broken engagement and still tender from from finding out her fiance married her half sister and no one in her family told her about it. Instead, she went to dinner with her fiance whereupon her broke up with her, in public, and confessed to marrying her sister.

 Navy Orders (Harlequin Super Romance Series #1865)      by     Geri KrotowIt wasn’t just her ex-fiance’s betrayal that hung over Ro, but her family’s breach of trust that rocked Ro. She climbs onto the bridge at Deception’s Pass and throws off the wedding ring. Chief Warrant Officer Miles Mikowski sees her and is afraid she is about to commit suicide. “He couldn’t bear the loss of another warrior-in-arms to the war. No matter if the cause was a bomb, rocket-propelled grenade, bullet or PTSD.”

The two are paired together when their commander assigns them to look into the supposed suicide of Petty Officer Perez. There are a lot of explanations as to why they are doing this and not NCIS or leaving it to the local police, but I’m just accepting it for the sake of the story even though it seems weird and not at all believable to me.

The problems with the story have less to do with the plot and more to do with the long pages of introspection and inner monologue. I didn’t get any frisson of excitement when Miles and Ro meet up again and despite the fact that Miles has always kind of had a thing for Ro, there was no real angst.

Worse, I felt that even though Ro was a high ranking commander, she was always being shown up by Miles. I didn’t know if this was an attempt to make him seem more her equal (I assumed that she was slightly above him although I could be totally wrong about that). In the first investigative scene, Ro can’t concentrate because the site of the dead body is stomach churning. Miles, having served in combat, is unmoved. Ro is affronted when the local detective suggest that they information share. Miles mildly suggests that it’s good for both of them and that they can do that without violating Navy protocol.

Ro came off, often, as a newbie instead of a seasoned veteran who had accepted so many tours that her fiance left her for it. She also plays the stereotypical uptight, by the book female. Krissy, the sister, is almost a caricature who is so selfish that she seeks succor from Ro during a fight with the ex-fiance turned husband.  Dick, the ex-fiance turned husband and surgeon, is also a weird mix calling everyone dude and girl and apparently can’t afford to take Krissy and stay in a hotel room instead deciding that they must crash at Ro’s house.

I also wasn’t sure what to make about Ro’s repeated suggestions that Mike couldn’t do things due to his prosthetic such as ride a motorcycle or evince surprise that he’d been able to climb a tree “with one leg.”

The more interesting couple were Karen and the Commodore.  Karen spent her whole life being the perfect Navy wife and everyone resents her from the Commodore to the other base wives to Ro herself.  Ro even said that Karen’s attempt to tie herself to her husband’s career path made Ro “sick.” I actually sympathized a lot with Karen, although I wasn’t sure I was supposed to.  My own bias is probably showing here, but I’ve often thought that following a spouse from base to base all over the world is extraordinarily difficult.  But perhaps Karen was a certain type on a military base that all the other military folks would immediately identify and hate.  From an outsider’s point of view, I just felt bad for her and as her secrets are uncovered throughout the story, I felt even worse.

There were a number of decent suspects and from a mystery standpoint that was fairly well done. The story is steeped in military jargon as it involves almost solely military personnel whether it is actual service members or people married or related to sailors.  But the romance felt forced and the sexual tension that was written on the page never came alive for me. C

Best regards,

Jane

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