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Christine Bell

REVIEW:  Down on Her Knees by Christine Bell

REVIEW: Down on Her Knees by Christine Bell

Down on Her Knees Christine Bell

Dear Ms. Bell:

I requested this book via NetGalley. I know I’ve read you before and I think I’ve even read books in this series before but I didn’t have a strong recollection of the previous two couples referenced in the book so for newbies, I don’t think you have to read the previous Bell books to enjoy this one.

The best part of the story was the steamy sex scenes. The attraction, the description of the love scenes, the commanding role played by Rafe all worked for me.

He pushed back his chair and stood. “Now, if you’re through grilling me about my sexual practices, which you have no understanding or knowledge of, then I’m going to get myself a drink. Unless what you’re really asking for is a lesson? In which case”—he glanced at his watch and then locked gazes with her—“you can pick up that hood and those cuffs”—he jerked his head toward the bachelorette party props—“and I’d be glad to take you outside in the alley and give you the best ten minutes of your life.”

She stuttered and her whole body went white-hot, but she managed a tight smile and a damned good response. “As tempting as that is, if ten minutes is all you’ve got in you, I think I’ll pass.

I thought the Courtney’s conflict was interesting. She was intrigued by Rafe’s sexuality and his promise of satisfaction in the bedroom but she was fresh off a bad relationship where she discovered, too late, that her boyfriend was controlling every aspect of her life. It happened slowly until she woke up one day and realized she had to ask permission to get groceries and she’d lost contact with all her friends due to subtle interference from her ex. She broke it off and moved to Rhode Island where she made new friends and Rafe was part of the circle of new friends. They meet, sparks fly but Courtney is reluctant until finally she gives in.

They have constant interaction with each other due to the large circle of friends. One thing that bothered me is that neither addressed how weird it would be to have a fling with each other and remain friends.  They discussed how weird it was that there was this simmering sexual tension between them but not what would happen with the friendship dynamic after the fling burned itself out. Given that Courtney’s new circle of friends was really important to her, I didn’t understand why this wasn’t of greater concern.

The other thing that bothered me was Rafe’s emotional state of mind. Rafe lost his lover to a liquor store robbery gone wrong. He quit college and pursued a law enforcement position, dedicating himself to chasing bad guys. As one of Courtney’s friend’s said “His whole career is a tribute to Monica.”  At the beginning of the book, even the sound of Monica’s name is too painful for Rafe to endure. He has a strict four scene rule and won’t go beyond that with any woman.  Of course, he breaks all his rules for Courtney.  At the end of the short book, he’s fully recovered from his grief. I didn’t find that particularly believable either.

I find this to be the case with many Brazen books. The format is for a short category – around fifty thousand words – yet too often deep and traumatic issues are central to the character storyline which would be fine but the sex scenes take up about thirty thousand words and thinking about sex take up another ten. There’s just not enough time devoted to the serious issues raised at the beginning of the story and thus the ending isn’t as satisfying.

I also found Rafe the dom to be rather vanilla. The “scenes” he carries out with Courtney are tame and he just came across as bossy in the bedroom rather than a true dom.  It worked for both of them and I could have believed in the HEA so much more if it weren’t for the fact that Rafe went from grief to love faster than it takes a Ferrari to get from parked to sixty. C+

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Dirty Trick by Christine Bell

REVIEW: Dirty Trick by Christine Bell

Dear Ms. Bell,

I’ve enjoyed some of your previous books, especially Down For The Count (reviewed here by Jane). I think you can be relied upon to provide an entertaining sexy story with humour and fun. The problem for me with this book was that it was based on the hero deceiving the heroine. It was always going to be a problem and the longer it went on, the more problematic it became.  I suppose how much this kind of deception bothers the individual reader will be an indicator of how well the story works for them.

DirtyTrick
Grace Love, together with her BFF, Serena Elliott, runs Love Will Find a Way, a matchmaking agency located in Salem, Massachusetts.  Grace has a supernatural talent for pairing couples.  She calls it the “tingles” and it has never failed.  Unfortunately, she does not believe the tingles work for her.  Her other best friend is Patrick “Trick” Mathews, a SWAT officer who lives next door.  He is a player and although he makes her tingle all over and has ever since they first met, Grace will not go there.  Grace is severely lacking in confidence after being emotionally abused by her cheating  ex-fiance, Victor.  They were together for two years and in that time, he made her feel like a complete failure in just about every area but most especially in the bedroom.  She has no sexual confidence and in any event, has come to value Trick’s friendship so much she would not want to risk it for a fling.

Trick was instantly attracted to Grace and it didn’t take him long to realise that it was much more than just lust.  He hasn’t been doing the manwhore thing for more than six months but Gracie hasn’t noticed.  He’s desperate for a chance to show Grace how good they could be together – not just as friends.  What saves him from being a total douchebag is that he loves her.  He doesn’t want to just mess with her head and get his rocks off.  He does the wrong thing, but perhaps if not for the right reason, then maybe a right reason.

In Salem, Halloween is a big deal and there is a rich guy who has an amazing Halloween party every year. This guy is someone both Grace and Serena want to cultivate as a client – his imprimatur could take their business to the next level.  Grace’s date has cancelled on her and Trick offers to take his place to help Grace out.  However, Grace doesn’t like the idea because: reasons,  so she decides to go stag.  At the same time, Trick just happens (go with me here) to help out a friend who does special effects makeup and ends up with a Panther half mask (a proper one like they might use in a movie) out of the deal.  He decides to go to the party in disguise and see if he can show Gracie how could they could be together doing the horizontal rhumba.  And this is where the deception comes in. And  the suspension of disbelief.  Because Serena sees through his disguise straight away (she goes along with it because she thinks they’d be great together and she can see Trick loves Grace), but Grace does not.  Sure Trick uses some different soap and cologne and uses a Christian Bale-like Batman voice but how hard could it really be to work it out?

After a very hot encounter which also had some of the most hilarious (bad) dirty talk in the history of ever, Trick misses one opportunity after another to spill the beans and makes excuses to himself for doing so, as well as making excuses to have a further encounter (in a darkened movie theatre) to “seal the deal”.

The boost to her sexual confidence does make Grace realise that it is Trick she really wants and she decides she is up for the challenge and makes her move on him.

I don’t think it would be a spoiler to say that of course Grace finds out that Trick was deceiving her and that she doesn’t react well to it and Trick has to do an epic grovel to get back into her good graces (pardon the pun).  Whether the grovel is sufficient, whether his excuses/reasons are enough, will be a matter for each individual reader.

I was entertained by the writing and the chemistry between Trick and Grace.  I loved the friendship between Serena and Grace as well and I’m looking forward to reading about Serena’s HEA in what will surely be book two in the series.  Serena is quite the character.  Grace describes her friend thus:

Bloodline of a princess, mouth like a trucker. Another thing to love about Serena. Not to mention, if Grace had suggested they break into Seth’s house and replace his shampoo with hair removal cream, her friend would have been pulling the car around in three seconds flat. Forget hide the bodies. Serena was the type of friend who would plant the horse head and do the wet work.

The characters were fun and engaging and there was a moment of true snort-laughter for me with the bad dirty talk:

Maybe he even wanted a little dirty talk.
She swallowed hard and hoped the sound of the steam whistling covered the resulting gulp. Might as well let it rip. “Yeah. I want your c—” It stuck in her throat, and she tried again. “I want your big c—” Again, she couldn’t work it past her lips. He stared at her with a puzzled but patient smile. “I want your cock…a doodly doo…in-inside my p—lady area…business,”she expelled in a rush.
Oh God, no. What was that?

Ultimately though, deception in a hero isn’t a noble trait and that’s where the book fell down for me.  It’s kind of the whole premise though so it’s not like it can be overlooked.  Still, it was a lot of fun.  I give it a B-.

regards,
Kaetrin

 

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