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Susan Johnson

REVIEW:  All He Wants | All He Needs by C. C. Gibbs

REVIEW: All He Wants | All He Needs by C....

All He Wants Gibbs

Dear Ms. Gibbs:

The All or Nothing trilogy (or in the UK Knight trilogy) is a series of erotic romance stories that feature the same couple–Katherine Hart and Dominic Knight.  Both stories end with some cliffhanger although the first is “worse” than the second. I’m reviewing the stories together but the third doesn’t come out until Sept. 2014 even though it is available in the UK already.  (Not to mention the UK prices are a lot better than the US prices)

CC Gibbs is the pen name for Susan Johnson and I’m not revealing any secret. It’s posted on the website.  And because I love Susan Johnson books (like Pure Sin, Outlaw, the Braddock-Black series), I wanted to read these. Not only did I want to read this series but I wanted to love it.

Katherine Hart is hired by billionaire businessman Dominic Knight to trace twenty million dollars. At first she almost walks away from the job when she overhears Dominic cursing to someone on the phone. She doesn’t think she wants to work with someone like that but Dominic convinces her to stay on.

For the most part, books 1 and 2 present a classic Susan Johnson dynamic. Uber wealthy playboy hero sets eyes on a successful woman and has to have her.  He pursues her assiduously and she resists, knowing that he is bad for her and that she doesn’t want to become another notch on his bedpost. They fall into bed and know from the strength of their lust and orgasms that the other is different.

In this series, Dominic plays at being dominant in the bedroom and sadly this is where the book falters.  Readers have been fully exposed to the BDSM lifestyle in various books, not the least of which is 50 Shades.  Dominic basically just likes to order Katherine around and worse, the lines of consent are super clear here. I know we are supposed to understand that this turns her on but we don’t always see it.

“And if you do as you’re told, I’ll screw the hell out of you because that’s what you want, isn’t it?” He could see the fury in her eyes, but he forced her to answer. “That’s what you came here for, right?”

Silence, incandescent with rage. He waited because she was flushed and trembling and he had what she wanted—a hard dick.

“Yes,” she finally whispered.

Gibbs, C.C. (2013-07-09T05:00:00+00:00). All He Wants (All or Nothing) (Kindle Locations 2736-2739). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I mean, yes, she wants it but still. I wasn’t always comfortable. Additionally I found the sex to be rather tame. While the text tells us that he has an extensive repertoire, we actually only see the two of them engaged in a little oral and mostly the missionary position.  But beyond the eroticisim (or lack thereof) is the insane head hopping.

“So I’ve been told. Do you have family?” He preferred employees with a casual attachment to family. They were more likely to work the long hours demanded of them.

“You can’t ask that,” she flatly said.

His smile was mocking. “Are you going to sue me?”

“I won’t have to if I’m not working for you.”

His jaw clenched. “You can be a real bitch. Sue me for that too if you want. Now, could we stop playing games? I won’t ask you any personal questions, other than will you accept my job offer?” Leaning back in his chair, he unbuttoned his suit coat, shot his cuffs, waited for her reply.

She couldn’t help but notice his hard flat stomach under his white custom shirt. And the fact that he didn’t wear cuff links. She liked that. She’d always viewed cuff links as pretentious. Only an observation, the little voice inside her head pointed out innocently. No one’s trying to persuade you of anything.

Gibbs, C.C. (2013-07-09T05:00:00+00:00). All He Wants (All or Nothing) (Kindle Locations 136-144). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Finally, for me, a long time reader, the entire plotline and conflict is really predictable. Dominic is very jealous of the way that Katherine gets so easily turned on and that she may have had sex before him, even though one part of him acknowledges that his behavior is unreasonable. Katherine, in turn, is peeved about Dominic’s licentiousness.  There is shopping, a run in with his mother, and monetary excesses that actual show Dominic’s wealth.

The first book, All He Wants, ends in a major cliffhanger and the second one, All He Needs, does as well but with the couple together.

If you like 50 Shades and don’t mind a domineering arsehole, this may be entertaining.  I’ll read Book 3 someday but it’s probably good I’ll have to wait months by then anything I didn’t like about these two books, I’ll have forgotten.  It’s hard to grade these two because I’m sure part of my problem is the long history I have with Susan Johnson books, some that I’ve read and re-read multiple times.  A new reader might not be perturbed by the repetitiveness but the head hopping? That’s kind of inexcusable. C

Best regards,

Jane

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If You Like…Romances Set in South Asia or featuring South Asian characters

If You Like…Romances Set in South Asia or featuring South Asian...

Dear Author guest post by Kim T.

A few years ago, I watched a Hindi language, historical epic film called Jodhaa Akbar, starring Bollywood superstars Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.  As a librarian with a graduate degree in European history, I was intrigued by the 16th century historical detail in the film.  And I completely swooned over the beauty and charisma of the lead actors.  Being a film geek, I began to explore the Bollywood film genre.  I was, admittedly, drawn first to the beautiful costumes and song picturizations, but I soon found myself just as interested in the cultures of India.  I began to read non-fiction on modern India and watch Indian films (in Hindi and other regional languages) that went beyond the typical Bollywood masala formula.  Still, my favorite Indian films (and the ones I watch over and over) will always be Bollywood romances.  As a lifelong romance reader, I think this makes perfect sense.  There’s nothing as wonderful or satisfying as a delightful, fluffy romantic comedy or an angst-ridden, passionate romantic drama whether in print or on the screen.

My reading interests have paralleled my interests in Indian films and I’ve read several non-fiction titles on India and literary fiction by South Asian authors.  However, I’ve had to be very creative in locating mainstream romances with South Asian settings and/or South Asian characters, especially contemporary titles.  I’ve also received many recommendations from members of the romance reading community.  The following are titles that I’ve enjoyed with a strong romantic element and they represent a variety of genres including chick-lit, historical fiction, literary fiction, and traditional romances (category, paranormal, historical, etc.).

The Zoya Factor by Anjua ChauhanThe Zoya Factor
by Anjua Chauhan

Published by Harper Collins in India, this is the sweet and hilarious story of an advertising executive who becomes the “lucky charm” for India’s cricket team during the ICC World Cup.  She finds romance with the captain of the team.  There are several untranslated Hindi phrases in this book and some very specific cultural references that will be lost to most Western readers, but I still highly recommend it, especially if you’re interested in how an Indian author takes on the chick-lit format.  I also enjoyed Advaita Kala’s Almost Single, another chick-lit title by an Indian author, reviewed here at DA.

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Saris and the City by Rekha WaheedSaris and the City by Rekha Waheed

This Little Black Dress UK title written by a British author of Bangladeshi descent is a traditional chick lit story of a career-minded woman dealing with her conservative Bengali family’s demands and her attraction to the typical rich and gorgeous hero.

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The Twentieth Wife by Indu SundaresanThe Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan

In this first in a historical trilogy about Mughal India, the love story of protagonist Mehrunnisa and Prince Salim is a blend of historical fact and romantic fiction.  This book piqued my interest in historical romance written by Indian authors and I recently stumbled upon a series of historical romances called Kama Kahani published by Random House India and written by Indian authors. The series, including titles like Kiran Kohl’s Passion in the Punjab, can be found through Amazon.co.uk.  They have beautiful covers and I particularly love the series’ taglines printed above the back cover blurb: “Are you a spirited beauty, your fire contained – buy only just – by the clinging brocade of your lehnga’s choli? A delicious Kama Kahani is sure to strike your fancy.”

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The Stolen Bride by Abby GreenThe Stolen Bride by Abby Green

Several years ago, Mills & Boon began to increase their presence in India and to search for promising Indian authors for their lines.  To date, two Mills & Boon titles by Indian authors have been published but they’re hard to find outside of India.  So, in the meantime, we’ve had some other interesting developments in the M&B/Harlequin Presents line, such as the late Penny Jordan’s 2008 title featuring an Indian hero and several more titles by other authors featuring characters of South Asian descent.  As a sometimes reader of the Presents line, I have enjoyed Abby Green’s The Stolen Bride and its Bollywood actress heroine and cringed at other lazier titles that simply shift the overplayed “sheikh romance” formula to the Indian setting.  I’ve also been inspired to collect vintage Harlequins and other category titles that are set in India (I’ve only found a couple that actually feature heroes or heroines of South Asian descent).  A pleasant older Harlequin Presents title set in India is Jayne Bauling’s Sophisticated Seduction (#25), published in 1996.

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The Mango Season by Amulya MalladiThe Mango Season by Amulya Malladi

In this literary fiction title, Indian born-Denmark based author Malladi writes a moving depiction of a young Indian woman’s struggles with her parents’ demand for an arranged marriage and her love of an American man.

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Finally, the following titles, which have been recommended here and elsewhere numerous times, should also be mentioned:

The Duke of Shadows by Meredith DuranThe Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Historical romance partially set in India, with Anglo-Indian hero.

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Not Quite a HusbandNot Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

The 1890s northern Indian setting of this much-praised historical is superbly drawn.

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demon moon by meljean brookDemon Moon by Meljean Brook

A paranormal with a heroine of Indian descent, this is one of many examples of the culturally diverse heroes and heroines that have become happily commonplace in paranormals over the last several years.

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Sexy as Hell by Susan Johnson  Sexy as Hell by Susan Johnson

The Bruxton Street Bookstore series has been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.  This title features Osmond, Baron Lennox, a hero of Anglo-Indian descent who grew up in Hyderabad and now owns India’s largest bank.  Johnson excels at interesting and unusual historical detail, but it’s often overshadowed by her steamy content.

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These are just a few titles that have stood out for one reason or another in my search for romance with a South Asian flair.  I hope that these recommendations will lead to even more recommendations from other Dear Author readers.  Happy reading!

If you would like to submit an “If You Like” of any book, author or topic, please don’t hesitate to email jane at dearauthor.com. You only need about 6-8 titles for the post.