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Raine Miller

REVIEW:  All In by Raine Miller

REVIEW: All In by Raine Miller

Dear Ms. Miller:

The first book in this series (that ended in a cliffhanger) was a readable, if derivative, erotic romance. All In is told from Ethan Blackstone’s POV and he comes off as a whiney, angsty preteen boy. It was about as unsexy and embarrassing story as I’ve read in a long time.  Maybe Ethan is supposed to come off as a renaissance man, one who uses the term “bubbly” to refer to a bubble bath he enjoyed taking by himself or one who caresses his smartphone screen and moons over the heart emoticons Brynne sends him.  “I caressed the words on the screen, not wanting to close the message out.  She called me baby. She said she missed me.  She left me kisses and hearts. I tried not to read too much into it, but still it was hard not to.” 

All In by Raine MillerThe joke is on me, though, because the plot or story here isn’t much different than in Naked. Ethan is trying to win back Brynne who left him at the end ofNaked because he had lied to her. Vowing to be honest with her, Ethan quickly regains control over Brynne, living with her, taking her old phone (and reading her text messages and listening to her voicemails) all under the pretext of keeping her safe.

If you have ever wondered what a creepy stalker boyfriend sounds like, Ethan is probably Exhibit A.  Brynne can barely go to the restroom without Ethan wondering if he will have to beat the shit out the toilet paper for touching her ass. At a gala for work, Brynne is networking and Ethan is thinking “She is mine, people! Mine! And don’t fucking forget it either.”

His constant mental possession of her was exhausting.  She can barely even mention another man’s name without Ethan going into fits of jealousy.

“I wonder where Ivan is.  Do you think he’ll be here soon?” Brynne asked me.

My feelings of joy turned to pure jealousy in about two point five seconds and I am sure I frowned before I caught myself and accepted she was just being nice

When she goes off for a photo shoot, Ethan can barely function. “ It was a thing of beauty, true, but I just didn’t want anyone else to see what was mine.”

The similarities with Sylvia Day’s series continues with Ethan suffering from night terrors and afraid to sleep with Brynne.  Both of them attending couple’s counseling.  Brynne is threatened by the release of a sex recording during which she was violated.  (All elements in the Day books).

The writing is often awkward.

 

“And your blessings in the Adonis department made it very easy for you with the ladies.”

or

I smiled at her.  The kind of smile I can feel on my face…

or

She arched back when I bit over a nipple.  Not hard, but enough to give her a little twinge and then a glorious moan when I soothed it with my tongue.

or

Sex with her shattered me down to my deepest levels of complexity…

or

“Ethan, please—and yes, I can equivicobly say that I am in a relationship with Brynne.”

The book also takes a swipe at E.L. James 50 Shades which is either an inside joke between two British writers or an out and out dismissal. “I mean, who reads this crap? Who has time?  Why even read aboutsex in a book when you can have it instead? I don’t get that.  And billionaires in their twenties?”

Again, my opinion is likely to be the lone voice in the midst of the cacophony clamouring for more. After all, this book apparently sold 120,000 copies.  The story ends with danger escalating on all fronts against Ethan, Brynne, and Ethan’s aristocratic cousin (and clearly the hero of some future angsty series).  There are moments of entertainment and the sex scenes are decent, but most of the book was a fail for me.  Maybe an editor will smooth out the rough edges. Atria has picked this series up for publication.  F

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Naked by Raine Miller

REVIEW: Naked by Raine Miller

Dear Ms. Miller:

If a reader wondered what Bared to You would be like with a British heroine, hero, and setting, then Naked answers all those questions.  Bared to You might be patterned obliquely after 50 Shades although Day has said it was not, then Naked is light pencil sketch of Bared to You with several similar scenes including one where the hero hunts the heroine down in a nightclub by tracking her gay BFF’s credit card. It also ends in a cliffhanger so readers can feel compelled to buy the second.

Raine Miller NakedThe main difference between BtY and Naked is the amount of internal angst. Naked is much more of a dialogue driven story and is about half the length of BtY.  I thought the pace of the story didn’t match the emotional angst but perhaps I was supposed to believe, despite the relative insecurity of the characters portrayed through their actions, that they were fully capable of making rational decisions. (Spoiler: They are not)

The heroine, Brynne Bennett, is an art student at the University of London and she serves as a nude model for photographers. Her likeness is captured in a beautiful erotic photography image which was purchased by security magnate Ethan Blackstone. Blackstone becomes obsessed with Brynne and begins his patient but persistent conquest of Brynne.

Brynne resists at first, but how can one escape a creepy stalker who steals your cell phone to gain your phone number and then calls you and pressures you into dinner? Not Brynne. Ethan gives new meaning to the “can’t take no for an answer.”

“Say no to me,” he interrupted, “and that’s why I’ll pick you up from the shoot tomorrow for dinner. You admitted that you owe me a favor, and I am calling it in. It’s what I want, Brynne.”

Brynne suffers from night terrors due to an abusive past. She sees a therapist. She feels that it will prevent her from having a full relationship with Ethan.  There’s the obligatory “I promise I’m clean” scene. A little public elevator hanky panky. A bunch of mild dom scenes. In sum, fairly crackalicious although completely derivative.  I think Brynne articles the reason why these books work:

I looked up at him again. “You are so controlling but you do it in a way that makes me feel strangely…safe.”

Naked breaks no new ground and while it is a derivative work, it is a fairly readable derivative work and I can’t imagine that fans of the 50 Shades and Bared to You wouldn’t enjoy this even with the cliffhanger ending.  C-

Best regards,

Jane

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