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REVIEW: Cage by Harper Sloan

Dear Ms. Sloan:

This book was recommended on the basis that it was in the vein of Kristen Ashley. I avoided the first book because many reviews indicated that the heroine was weak and somewhat twee, spending her time being held by all the big handsome men in her life while she weeped.  Not my thing.

The male protagonist is Greg Cage, a big security professional, who lost his sister to a domestic abuser. The story opens with Greg having sex with a “bitch” named Amanda. Greg treats this person cruelly. While he bills himself as super protective and caring about women, it’s only a certain type of woman that is deserving of that type of treatment.

This is how Greg views himself:

Some of us are put on this earth to heal, to make others’ lives brighter, and when those people don’t want our help, our love? We feel it deep.

Yet this is how he treats the woman he has sex with in the first chapter.

Why do I put up with this bitch? Oh, that’s right, because if I wait any longer to get some, my dick will shrivel off. “Amanda,” I roar her full name. “Hear me right now. You do not get to sit here and sling that shit. My sister calls and I’m done. Get that now, if you ever plan on revisiting my bed.”

“You’re done? Your dick is still hard,” she shrieks at me.

I don’t have to look down to know that my dick is screaming at me to finish. I reach down and caress my balls, trying unsuccessfully to ease the ache that is coiling in my gut. Fuck… I need this so bad.

“Babe. I don’t have time to take my time. You want to finish? Fine, but it will be hard and fast.”

This feeling of not helping is new to me. For the last almost five years, I have been the rock, the go to, the strength to help, and it almost makes me feel like I am doing something that would make Grace proud of me. Something better than all those years that I spent wasting away, living off booze, and whores on the road.

Cage’s attitude toward Amanda is stomach churning. He is so mean to her and why? Because she opens her legs to him. She pursues him avidly and doesn’t take no for an answer. Why should she? He goes from sticking his fingers in the female protagonist’s sex on a dance floor to punishing Amanda by boning Amanda in the back room.  Mandy is clearly mentally unbalanced but instead of treating this as a serious concern worthy of someone’s “help” she’s referenced as thus:

 I don’t care what happens to the bitch, but according to him, she is back on her meds and seeking help. ‘Back on the meds’ should have been clue enough that she really is a psycho bitch. Maybe next time, she will keep up with those damn pills. All that matters is he says that she won’t be a problem, and I believe him.

I took from this that a person who may take medication (such as a person who is bipolar, depressed, manic, etc) is a psycho.  I found this just one of many distressing characterizations. Probably the worst, though is Sway.

Sway is the only gay character in the book and his depiction is over the top and stereotypical of a certain type of gay (none that I’ve ever encountered). He’s constantly making lewd comments about all the assets of the Corps Security. He dresses in skin tight pants and shirts. He calls people “darlin’.” In one scene he is painting the sidewalk in front of the security offices in gold glitter and throws the glitter onto these men. Sway has no role within the book other than to be the comic relief.  He is in two scenes, one going crazy over a baby and this one where he is painting the sidewalk in glitter and throwing it on the hot men of the Corps Security.

A clear sign of my distraction is my missing Sway’s presence when I pull up at Corps Security. I am busy picturing Melissa bent over my kitchen counter, but when I look up and see Swag waving like an idiot, the hard on I have been sporting all morning dies a quick death.

What the fuck?

Over the last few years that I have known this man, I have learned he is as unpredictable as they come. But the sight that meets me this morning is like nothing he has ever done before. There he is, standing on the sidewalk wearing those camouflage skintight pants things that chicks wear. The ones that make a man fall all over himself to follow her ass around the world, but on this man, they might scar me for life. If that isn’t enough, the sparkling burgundy shirt hugging his round  stomach might get a good laugh. Then, I notice what he is doing.

“Sway? Why are you painting the sidewalk?” I question, looking down into the bucket of golden shining paint, “Is that fucking glitter?”

“Don’t you start with all your alpha hotness, Gregory. Of course, this is glitter! You can’t paint the sidewalk gold without glitter!” He’s serious, bobbing his head left and right, and waving his hands all over the place.

“This is for real? You’re painting the sidewalk fucking gold? Does Axel know about this shit?”

“Of course he does, my king of hotness. Don’t be such a tight ass. Actually, never mind that darlin’, be a tight ass… just let me see it.” He starts laughing like a loon and all I can do is look around and notice the explosion of fucking glitter.

“Sway, my man, you wouldn’t know what to do with me.” He sobers instantly and I kick myself for encouraging him. “Forget I said that. Tell me why you feel the need to throw glitter all over the damn place?”

“Because my hunk of fine, glitter makes everyone happy!” When he starts dancing around his paint bucket, I have to leave. There is only so much Sway that I can handle when he is acting like this. I might joke, but that man is the funniest little shit I have ever met.

The second Coop steps out of the out of the jeep, Sway attacks, throwing glitter in the air and screaming ‘good morning’. When he leaps into Coop’s arms, I fear I might hurt something, laughing as hard as I am.

The plot is essentially Melissa and Cage dealing with “psycho”, learning to overcome the loss of their sisters to the same domestic abuser, and learning to trust each other. As for the romance between Cage and Melissa, there mutual lust was apparent but even with their similarities (and crazy coincidences) I didn’t really understand why they loved each other. Their animal attraction was the primary driver of their connection for so much of the story and the love rested almost solely on the fact that they’d both lost someone due to domestic violence. But the love? I have no idea what the one loved about the other outside of the bedroom activities.

There are a lot of references to sad women and the other men in the Corps Security group and how their love for each other is kept unconsummated through some secret angst.  These scenes were awkwardly inserted throughout the story in a very repetitive manner.  Cage would see one of the ladies looking distressed and the corresponding Corps Security would be either destroying their office or stomping around tragically unhappy.  Cage’s heart would hurt for all involved. I guess because unrequited love is not psycho and therefore worthy of his big heart.

I know I’m supposed to see Melissa as this awesome chick who stands up for herself and takes care of herself, her mom, and her nephew; yet Melissa spends every night at Cage’s house and Cohen, the nephew, makes only a few appearances. Given that Melissa was essentially her nephew’s mother since Melissa’s sister died, her inattention to Cohen seemed weird and only served to enforce that Melissa was more interested in physical pleasure than anything else. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Melissa was supposed to be this awesome self sacrificing heroine who was taking up the yoke of motherhood.  The showing never matched the telling.

Finally, Melissa’s treatment toward Mandy was disturbing. Yes, Mandy slashed Melissa’s tires but Melisssa’s constant references to Mandy as “demented” and “fucking nuts” and “psycho bitch” just served to reinforce this idea that those who suffer from a mental illness are somehow lesser. I’m sure that this isn’t what I was supposed to take away from the book. I know I was supposed to see Mandy as the villain because she kept trying to interfere with Cage and Melissa and became increasingly unstable and dangerous, but Mandy was written with such a heavy hand (with her fake tits and her complete lack of self esteem and her wild eyes) that I couldn’t help but feeling sorry for her.  The insults thrown Mandy’s way actually distressed me rather than made me want to cheer Melissa.

This book has received glowing reviews and maybe there’s a story here I didn’t see but the characters’ actions as written revealed a completely different set of individuals than the reader was told existed. D

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. Naomi
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 11:08:38

    Wow…so…if you take medication, you’re just a psycho? That’s it? As someone who’s taken medication for mental health issues and is engaged to someone who had a psychotic break, I really hope this is *just* the character’s opinion, not the author’s. Although either way, that would have me putting the book down so hard and fast there’d be a gaping hole in my living room floor.

    ReplyReply

  2. Melissa K
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 11:11:24

    I know I couldn’t hate the “villain” Mandy either… I just felt bad for her and hated Cage instead.

    ReplyReply

  3. Kini
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 12:08:53

    I read the first book, it wasn’t my favorite but I enjoyed it. I was prepared to read the second. I got half way through the first Melissa chapter and it was over. After the opening of the story they way Greg referred to the woman he was having sex with and Melissa’s description of her breasts, I knew this book was not for me. I had to return it.

    ReplyReply

  4. Nicole
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 13:17:25

    That dialog though. “Hear me right now” and “Get that now, if you ever plan on revisiting my bed.” All those words are English, but I don’t think they’ve been combined like this since the 1800s or so (which also seems to be where Cage picked up his ideas about women. Pass.

    ReplyReply

  5. Allison
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 13:34:05

    Woah, this one is a PASS for me, too.

    ReplyReply

  6. Diana
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 15:51:16

    UGH. Just talking as a mental health professional, but saying that seeking medication and therapy make people “crazy” or “psycho”… It is *so* incredibly damaging. I don’t care if it’s the character’s thoughts or the author’s, because this malignant thinking permeates our society and often discourages people from getting help when they need it.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jo
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 16:45:23

    I really did not like the first book so I didn’t bother reading this one, now I’m glad I didn’t.

    ReplyReply

  8. JoJo
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 08:08:38

    Great review Jane! Glad to know I’m not alone with my less than stellar review of Cage. There are so many 5 star reviews I was beginning to wonder if I read the same book. Just to add one other issue – Cohen’s dialogue was so cliched and predictable it made me cringe.

    ReplyReply

  9. Melanie
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 17:47:18

    Jane,
    I think your review is spot-on. Unfortunately I was afraid to leave my review. Axel wasn’t so bad and I knew it was Harper Sloan’s debut novel, so with all of the hype going round months in advance of Cage’s release, I thought it might be better. I actually liked Greg in Book #1. This was a DNF for me after 53%. I thought maybe it was just me as the hype is still going strong, indicating Harper Sloan very well could be a break-through author replacing KA in popularity. Then I saw some reviews and comments left on Amazon where apparently Ms. Sloan’s foot soldiers were badgering those reviewers on both AXEL and CAGE that were leaving 1 and 2 star reviews!! They were told they should direct negative comments or reviews via a PM to the author and not on Amazon. Several GR reviewers had their negative reviews Flagged and are afraid they’ll be ousted. God, I had no clue book blogs could be that political!!

    ReplyReply

  10. Jane
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 21:16:05

    @Melanie: I have heard of this before and I saw her fans attack on an Amazon forum. I believe she was a reviewer/blogger herself so it is disappointing to hear that she is using her street team in this fashion.

    ReplyReply

  11. Melanie
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 17:12:06

    CASE IN POINT: WHY DOES AMAZON ALLOW REVIEWERS TO BE BULLIED AND HARASSED?

    4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    AUTHOR’S GOFERS WANT TO REMOVE MY 1 STAR REVIEW STATING I SHOULD CONTACT AUTHOR PRIVATLY! I THINK NOT!, September 10, 2013
    By
    Lady Lizzz
    This review is from: Axel (Corps Security) (Volume 1) (Paperback)
    Comments on my review from author’s gofers stating that: “if I have something negative to say about the book I should take it up with the author PRIVATLY” is both offensive and bullying. According the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution I have the right to FREE speech. Why should I remove my 1-star review and only state my opinion to author PRIVATETLY when there are plenty of higher star reviewers who are posting their reviews freely?
    My review is meant to help potential BUYERS! I have no interest in seeking out said author.

    I have reported and will CONTINUE TO REPORT ANY BULLYING OF ANY SORT. Contrary to common belief Amazon does care about targeting of reviewers and they have several features in place to address; friend/foe votes etc. They also have the ability to revoke voting privileges for a user permanently. So keep that in mind when you rally to ATTACK a 1-star reviewer of your favorite author.

    ###########################################

    MY REVIEW:

    I bought this eBook last July before my vacation, typed up a review and went to post upon my return, but couldn’t find the book on Amazon. Apparently as I discovered last night the BOOK COVER was switched after just a few weeks – very odd. It went from a STRIKING male abdominal in bold print to a bland generic Harlequin cover!

    I never posted my review. Then last night unfortunately I bought a book NOT realizing it was book 2 in same series. More on that one in my review of Cage.

    Axel: Book blurb had lots of potential. It’s been several weeks since I read it. I can’t recall much of him. All I remember is a whiny, rude and inconsiderate heroine. 5 men who are rallying around her and she is beyond ungrateful.

    The book was filled with angst as if the author jotted down all the awful things that could happen. To top it off how unlikely is it to lose touch with anyone for years these days?

    But maybe the worst part was the language and editing! Atrocious! F-bombs on every page. As if for effect! I am not impressed.

    This book has this whiny damsel in distress heroine one would think it was written for a teenager. Except I would not allow my 16 year old to read such poor language filled with F-bombs.

    I had more written in my original review, but I didn’t save it. I was offended by some of the stereotyping for example the African-American male gay hair dresser in high heels who came across as dumb and desperate.
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    Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
    Initial post: Sep 12, 2013 12:01:24 PM PDT
    Sey-Park says:
    You do not make any sense. Your Headline alleging some nefarious activities by the Author’s “Goffers(?)” appears on both your review of Axel (Corps Security 1) and your review of Cage (Corps Security). There are no comments made to either of your reviews, and these are the only 2 reviews by your user name, Lady Lizzz. No one posted any negative comments to your two reviews. Additionally, no one made any similar criticism to another’s 1 star review. Your lack of honesty justifies a report of abuse for making such a false allegation in the topic line of a comment.

    Your statement about 1st Amendment rights is completely irrelevant in a commercial setting like these customer forums where Amazon has the right to yank anyone’s comment. Your evident paranoia makes one question if you are off your meds. Plus your need to disclose personal facts unrelated to a book review raises further questions about your mental health.

    BTW I have no relationship with the author and no opinion to add to the existing discussion about whether anyone should buy the book.
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    ________________________________________
    In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2013 12:33:51 PM PDT
    Last edited by the author on Sep 12, 2013 12:36:36 PM PDT
    Lady Lizzz says:
    Before you jump in like an attacking bulldog. Has it ever occurred to you that the comments were offensive, rude or viewed as bullying so they were removed? By Amazon.
    I have the email for each comment and the actual comment shows in email. The quote at very top is a quote from one of the comments.
    I have the right to free speech. This is after all the review section for a product. Attempts to have me remove my review to contact the author privately are offensive. I’M NOT WRITING MY REVIEW FOR OR TO THE AUTHOR. I am writing it to potential buyers.
    YOU’RE DOING BOTH BOOKS AND THE AUTHOR A DIS-SERVICE BY ATTACKING 1 STAR REVIEWERS.
    Why are you so THREATENED by ONE reader’s 1 star review? Focus on the readers who agree with you and move on!
    It is normal for a product to have both happy and not happy customers and this review section is protected by the 1st amendment.

    AND IT CONTINUED WITH CAGE!

    19 of 32 people found the following review helpful
    Save your money! 220-page NOVELLA with F-bombs, poor editing, dog tag wearing 30 year old ex-marine!, September 10, 2013
    By
    Lady Lizzz
    This review is from: Cage (Corps Security) (Kindle Edition)
    Comments on my review from author’s gofers stating that: “if I have something negative to say about the book I should take it up with the author PRIVATLY” is both offensive and bullying. According the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution I have the right to FREE speech. Why should I remove my 1-star review and only state my opinion to author PRIVATETLY when there are plenty of higher star reviewers who are posting their reviews freely?
    My review is meant to help potential BUYERS! I have no interest in seeking out said author.

    I have reported and will CONTINUE TO REPORT ANY BULLYING OF ANY SORT. Contrary to common belief Amazon does care about targeting of reviewers and they have several features in place to address; friend/foe votes etc. They also have the ability to revoke voting privileges for a user permanently. So keep that in mind when you rally to ATTACK a 1-star reviewer of your favorite author.

    ###########################################

    MY REVIEW:

    I bought Axel, eBook 1 last July before my vacation, typed up a review and went to post upon my return, but couldn’t find the book on Amazon. Apparently as I discovered the book cover was switched after just a few weeks – very odd. It went from a striking male abdominal in bold print to a bland generic Harlequin cover!

    I never posted my review. Then last night unfortunately I bought this book, Cage NOT realizing it was book 2 in same series.

    The five male ex-marines are back. Years after leaving the Marines they are still wearing DOG TAGS. My youngest son was in the Marines and he most certainly is not walking around wearing a dog tag.

    This story does not have a damsel in distress like Axel did. No, she has been replaced with butchy (masculine), bitchy and slutty/rough around the edges heroine. The dog tag wearing 30 year old hero, Greg walks around saying “Baby girl”. Just feels dis-ingenuous and creepy.

    Poor language, poor dialogue, riddled with F-bombs. And subpar editing.

    This book is being returned. Save your money!

    ############

    #1 Sadly the author went from one extreme to another with her heroines. In book 1 we had a damsel and in book 2 over the top bitchy, confrontational and in many instances masculine heroine.
    #2 After a night of high passion and steam they instantly fell in love.
    #3 It would have been better that the author didn’t release a 220-page novella and INSTEAD WROTE ANOTHER 80 PAGES, DEVELOPING THEIR LOVE STORY.
    #4 Everything felt rushed, story, love and EDITING. This book could have benefited from more time spent on all of above.
    #5 It’s not necessary to use F-bombs to the extent the author did. If for the shock value, it is lost by chapter two and feels more like a lack of knowledge in English.
    #6 $2.99 is high for only 220 pages. The price of a novella should be lower.
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    Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
    Initial post: Sep 12, 2013 8:20:59 PM PDT
    bridgid says:
    Thank you for the honest review, there aren’t many of those around for most indy books. I read the first book and while I wasn’t that crazy about it, I did like the character of Greg Cage. However in reading the excerpt for this book, he didn’t even seem like the same person, so I was really on the fence about buying it. Thanks for helping me save a little money!
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    ________________________________________
    In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2013 10:26:15 AM PDT
    Lady Lizzz says:
    Thank you Bridgid for your comment, please see my response below.
    First I would like to explain that as soon as I posted my reviews of Cage and Axel I was bombarded by comments on my reviews. After complaining to Amazon, these comments have since been removed. But I have the emails showing the actual comments.
    These comments came in right after posting and in close succession. The quote at top of my review is a quote from one of the comments.
    I didn’t write my review for or to the author. I am wrote it to help potential buyers. TO HARASS 1-STAR REVIEWERS IN SUCH A FASHION DOES A DIS-SERVICE TO BOTH BOOKS AND THE AUTHOR. This is the review section of a product. It is to be expected that not everyone will be happy. Move on!

    #######
    Bidgid, thanks again for a very civil and valid comment. I’m happy my review was helpful.
    #1 Sadly the author went from one extreme to another with her heroines. In book 1 we had a damsel and in book 2 over the top bitchy, confrontational and in many instances masculine heroine.
    #2 After a night of high passion and steam they instantly fell in love.
    #3 It would have been better that the author didn’t release a 220-page novella and INSTEAD WROTE ANOTHER 80 PAGES, DEVELOPING THEIR LOVE STORY.
    #4 Everything felt rushed, story, love and EDITING. This book could have benefited from more time spent on all of above.
    #5 It’s not necessary to use F-bombs to the extent the author did. If the shock value, it is lost by chapter two and feels more like a lack of knowledge in English.
    #6 $2.99 is high for only 220 pages. The price of a novella should be lower.
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    ________________________________________
    2 new posts since your last visit
    Posted on Sep 17, 2013 2:00:45 AM PDT
    Last edited by the author on Sep 17, 2013 2:01:05 AM PDT
    Avvia says:
    Yes, I am thinking about purchasing Cage and do not normally read reviews. Oddly enough I decided to read the one-star reviews in this case. Lady Lizzz, you sound angry. A review is an opinion. If someone criticizes your opinion either let it go or report to Amazon. Do not turn your review into a three ring circus. As for the language, different strokes for different folks. If there is no disclaimer then maybe the writer ought to add a warning.
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    ________________________________________
    In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2013 6:20:13 PM PDT
    Last edited by the author on Sep 21, 2013 6:20:39 PM PDT
    Lady Lizzz says:
    Exactly my point Avvia! I posted my review, which is my opinion and within minutes I was bombarded with unhelpful votes and ANGRY comments (which have since been removed) stating for example that if I had anything negative to say I should take it up with the author privately. In other words they wanted me to REMOVE my 1-star review – MY OPINION – as in silencing my point of view.
    Since it is my belief that a review is the opinion of the consumer and more so posted to help potential buyers. I found it offensive that my 1-star review was targeted instructing me to convey my thoughts to author privately. The author is welcome to read my review and take my opinion onto consideration. But my review was posted for potential buyers,
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