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S.H. Kolee

REVIEW:  Fated by S. H. Kolee

REVIEW: Fated by S. H. Kolee

Dear Ms. Kolee:

Your first book featured a possessive, jealous hero who in real life should be locked up far away from real women. (For the record, I enjoyed this book but the hero is creepy). This story does not follow the same path and some readers looking for the jealous, possessive hero fix might be disappointed. I appreciated the change and believes that the broader range of storytelling bodes well for future Kolee books.

Fated S. H. KoleeCaden Riley is a famous photographer known for his erotic photographs. He is rumored to have slept with some, if not all, of his subjects. How else does he capture their rapturous expressions during climax and release? Lauren Sloan is recruited by her roommate to be her temporary replacement for Caden as his personal assistant. The roommate is going on an extended trip with her photographer boyfriend.

Lauren isn’t sure she wants to work for Caden who comes off as arrogant and cold hearted but the money is too good to turn down and the stint is only for three months. Lauren does not initially like Caden. She acknowledges that he is attractive and sexy looking but he’s not very nice to her or the people that he does business with. In short, there isn’t a lot likeable about Caden and I appreciated that Lauren isn’t immediately thinking with her private parts when it comes to asshole heroes. Lauren’s resistance to Caden and the occasional opinion that he has to drag out of her intrigue him.

It is apparent early on that Caden has no appreciation for Lauren’s boundaries. He wants to get Lauren into bed. It’s hard to say whether his motivations initially are simply because he is intrigued and he wants to photograph her or if he actually has feelings for her. The story is told in the first person from Lauren’s point of view and while some things Lauren observes fairly well, others aren’t well articulated.

There are limitations in Lauren’s storytelling such as rather than show us Caden’s problems through dialogue and action, third party confidences are used to reveal important backstory. Her roommate shares some and so do Caden’s father figure and attorney which sometimes seemed out of place, particularly when Caden demanded privacy and discretion above all else.

The primary conflict is emotional. Caden wants to photograph Lauren and she resists. When the capitulation arrives, both protagonists’ feelings deepen but Caden has a hard time with relationships because he saw his loving father kill his mother who admitted to be cheating on him. He fears he has the same obsessive, destructive genes in him and tries to remain unattached.

Lauren’s past sexual encounters haven’t been good and she’s suffered abuse. She wonders whether she can ever enjoy sex and when surrounded by the pictures of ecstasy depicted in Caden’s photographs she begins to long for what he has captured in, and maybe even provided to, other women. But this explanation isn’t well foreshadowed making the transition from resistance to surrender rather abrupt.

I really really enjoyed Lauren who tries hard to set up boundaries with Caden and is fairly emotionally honest throughout the book. There is one scene where she tells Caden that she is not damaged, that’s she deserves more than he can give her and basically tells him off. I think I’ve been waiting for a heroine to make that speech since forever.

The ending fades a bit in emotional intensity but there’s a lot of positive storytelling in this book and I’ll be anxious to read the next Kolee contemporary. B-

Best regards,

Jane

P.S. So I know that the Calla Lily plays an important role in the story but many readers have commented on how unfortunate it is on the cover. I didn’t mind it so much.

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REVIEW:  Love Left Behind by S.H. Kolee

REVIEW: Love Left Behind by S.H. Kolee

Dear Ms. Kolee:

I’d recommend this book to a specific reader. First, the reader must not mind a super creepy, possessive hero. Second, the reader must not mind a little heroine uncertainty. Third, the reader must like a lot of agnst. If any of those elements doesn’t appeal to a reader, then I wouldn’t recommend this book but as a high emotion, erotic romance, I think this story succeeds where a lot have failed for me in the past.

Love Left Behind by S.H. KoleeEmma Mills is nearing the day of her wedding to her high school sweetheart when she realizes that marrying him would be one of the biggest mistakes of her life.  Their life together is one of boring comfort and the more Emma analyzed it, the more she realized how little that they had in common.  She calls off the wedding, much to the dismay of every one in her life and moves to New York to start anew. She moves in with a family friend, Claire who is an aspiring actress.  Claire’s small circle of friends includes Jackson Reynard, a personal trainer and  actor.

Jackson pursues Emma and she succumbs fairly quickly.  The story is told in essentially two parts. The initial romance between Emma and Jake separated by the breakup and their reconciliation five years later.  When Jackson re-enters Emma’s life, he is a major movie star.  As Emma muses, it is hard to avoid an ex lover when his face is plastered on tabloid magazines you are forced to star at in the checkout aisle.  Jackson as the movie star was fairly believable (more so that Tina Reber’s Love Unscripted)

What’s creepy about the hero? From the beginning Jackson invades Emma’s personal space. For instance, he invites her to his gym and during their training sessions continually touches her to move her into various exercise positions which would be totally inappropriate. But Jackson gets creepier and more possessive in the second half of the book.  There is at least one scene in which I kind of drew back from the story because I was a bit afraid of Jake. Yet there is something magnetic about his jealous possessiveness.  Even in this first person narrated story you know that he wants Emma more than he wants to breathe.

What about the heroine? I actually liked Emma quite a bit. She was slow to come to decisions in her life – like she took 10 years to figure out that her relationship with Sean was a non starter. When Sean re-enters her life, the decisions she makes regarding him that affect her and Jackson’s life are frustrating but I will say that guilt is a very powerful motivator and I understood the Emma’s motivations even if I didn’t agree with the choices she made.  More importantly, though, she was making decisions.

From an objective standpoint, the relationship depicts an unhealthy obsession at least by Jackson for Emma.  Within the story, I felt it worked. Emma wanted Jackson as much as he wanted her. His sickness for her was returned and the intensity of the emotions won me over.

The driving force of the book is Emma and  Jackson’s relationship that is marred by Jackson’s lack of understanding, Emma’s guilt, and then a major misunderstanding.  They don’t change over the course of the book unless you read Jake as becoming more possessive and more obsessed with Emma because he has lost her once.  Their relationship is over the top, but I appreciate a sense of exaggeration in stories.  It’s not a book I’d recommend to everyone but if the elements I mentioned in the first paragraph aren’t a deterrent, it might be satisfying.  One thing that kind of ruined my reading experience was the choose your own adventure epilogue.  C+

Best regards,

Jane

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