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Alisha Rai

REVIEW:  Play With Me by Alisha Rai

REVIEW: Play With Me by Alisha Rai

Dear Ms. Rai:

This was a 33,000 word novella featuring two high school + college lovers who separated and then reignited their romance. Tatiana Belikov always tried to meet the expectations of her adopted parents except when it came to one thing, her boyfriend. Wyatt Caine was a bad boy with poor prospects who worked multiple jobs to get ahead. However, differences led to a break up and the two haven’t seen each other for several years. (The timeline was really fuzzy for me in this book).

Play With Me (Bedroom Games #1) by Alisha Rai
Tatiana has broken away from her intended path, dropped out of college, and developed a strong following for her custom made jewelry. She is so successful, in fact, that she wants to bail out her biological brother with whom she has reconnected. She finds out that her brother embezzled quite a bit of money from his casino owning boss, one Wyatt Caine.

If she’s honest with herself, Tatiana seeks out Wyatt not just to save her brother but to see Wyatt again. Her feelings for him simmer hotly under a thinly covered surface. Wyatt is no different. In the years since they have been apart, Wyatt has become a wealthy owner of an exclusive casino. He offers to dispose of her brother’s debt in exchange for a sexual favor. Tatiana refuses (thank god, because that would have been so cliched).  Instead, they agree that they will explore their mutual sexual attraction in a 24 hour period.

The story is an erotic romance but the eroticism was baked into the storyline.  It’s their version of courtship. That said, the 33,000 words was a real limitation in developing the romance and exploring what went wrong in the past. I think I’m simply supposed to believe that because these two were older and wiser their relationship worked.  But given that they had dated for so long previously (like some 7 years), I needed to know why they broke up, what happened and why it is different now.  There is little emotional exploration other than what turns each other on.  Their sexual attraction, however, had never been an issue before. It was the stuff outside the bedroom that was the problem.  This novella appears to be the first in a series so perhaps other entries will explore the emotional component better.

That said, it is a steamy and fast read. B-

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW: Hot as Hades by Alisha Rai

REVIEW: Hot as Hades by Alisha Rai

Dear Ms. Rai,

You are a new author to me. I am familiar with your name, as I have seen many good reviews of your work. So when I saw that your next book was the Persephone myth retold as an erotic romance storyline, and because the price was right, I purchased. I’m happy to say I was pleased with my purchase.

Hot as Hades Alisha RaiHot As Hades opens up with Persephone dropping onto Hades’s lap in the Underworld. She’s naked and has no clue why she is there, and he’s quite happy that she’s naked and in his lap until he finds out that she is Demeter’s daughter. Then he’s angry at her presence and that he was lusting after her. Persephone  is attracted to Hades, but she’s just as confused at how she showed up in the Underworld. It turns out that both of them are being manipulated – Zeus has transported Persephone into the Underworld to hide her for her own good. Now she and Hades must fight their growing attraction to each other.

Seeing as this is an erotic romance, they don’t fight very hard. They soon become lovers and it builds into a more romantic relationship. Persephone is very much not a victim in this story. While she is outclassed power-wise, she has strengths of her own and is quick to give her opinion to Hades. Even though he’s quite blustery, he doesn’t scare her or intimidate her.  She has interest in everything the Underworld has to offer, and doesn’t shy away from the uglier aspects of the kingdom. Hades appreciates Persephone’s strong personality, as most people are frightened of him. And when they decide to have sex, it’s Persephone that instigates the physical relationship.

There were parts of this story that were very amusing. Hades had several funny lines, while Persephone was more of a straight (wo)man.

She beamed as she pushed back her chair and stood. “You’re welcome. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

He was fairly certain that “fellatio” was not the answer she was looking for.

I liked that this was a very lighthearted and modern flavored romance between the two gods. The way their powers and immortality worked was not explained much, nor the time frame. Both characters spoke with very modern slang and the clothing and settings were modern at times. It was difficult for me to parse the setting, and after a bit I gave up and just enjoyed the ride.

There was one sour note for me that was brought up in the story – Persephone as Demeter’s  (adopted) daughter. Demeter is also Hades’s sister. This makes Hades the love interest and uncle both. While the characters bring this up repeatedly in the beginning and the reader is reminded there is no blood relation between the two or a prior familial relationship,  it made me uncomfortable each time it was brought up. I couldn’t help but think that if this was a contemporary romance, we’d be venturing into Jerry Springer territory.

Overall,  a nice, fun, sexy brief read with only one false step. B for me.

All best,

January

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