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REVIEW: Raw by Belle Aurora

Dear Ms. Aurora:

On the plus side, this is the first complete Aurora book I’ve finished. I tried Willing Captive but it was a confusing melange of words. This was much better written but suffered from a number of technical problems such as verb tense issues within the same sentence, some strange word choices, and inconsistency. Beyond the writing technical issues, however, was the lack of tenderness  in this story. I felt a little sick to my stomach the entire time I read it and when I got to the ending, which comes upon the reader abruptly, I was sufficiently emotionally un-engaged that I didn’t really care about the “shocking” ending.

RAW by Belle AuroraI felt like there was some lazy storytelling occurring throughout the book. The story opens with the heroine as an eight year old helping a battered neighbor boy. She tells the reader that she never sees this boy again. This is obviously incorrect. Twitch, the hero, says that his pursuit of Lexi was meant to be fun. Again, a mistruth. This isn’t a matter of an unreliable narrator but dramatic da da duh moment to make the reader generate all those feels. It’s used a few times throughout the story, and it is always a lie which, of course, reduces emotional impact.

Other examples of structure that I found jarring included interjecting a POV from a random character toward the end so we can see the “whole side” of the story or the intentional use of tense switches  (although there are unintentional switches). Most of the story is told in the first person present tense from Twitch and Lexi’s point of view. But occasionally, Lexi will narrate something in the past tense and then say “that brings us to now.” I could almost hear Paul Harvey intoning “Now you know the rest of the story.”
Lexi has become a social worker in Australia (and whether this is at all accurate, I have no idea).  We know two things about Lexi. She likes to champion young kids and she is being stalked but it doesn’t make her feel uncomfortable. No, she actually likes the idea that some strange hooded guy is following her everywhere. She is cornered outside a building and we are treated to a several paragraph explicit scene of her about to be raped when her stalker comes forward and saves her.  

Spoiler (spoiler): Show

We find out at the end of the book that Twitch hired the guy to assault her so that he could come and “save” her. Nice, right?

When Twitch escorts Lexi to her apartment, she clings to him and begs for him to stay the night with her. Thus begins a series of evenings in which the stalker slips into her bedroom and then finally she begs for him to have sex with her. Initially he says no because he doesn’t believe that she’d be into the type of sex he enjoys which is basically to abase his partner (at his partner’s request). But, of course, she wants it.  The sex scenes are dirty BDSM with no safe words, him using a belt around her throat, requiring her to beg repeatedly, choking her with his cock and having sex without condoms. Yes, Lexi the social worker is dumber than a swarm of amoebas because she has sex with her stalker with no concern for her own health. She does manage to ask him when he is leaving her whether he is clean. “Of course” he responds. (oh and no aftercare so this is definitely la la la BDSM).

Twitch is not a nice man.  He’s made a fortune dealing drugs and takes one of Lexi’s 17 year old cases under her wing. (In another example of inconsistency, Lexi starts out the book gaining emancipation for one of her 17 year old charges but she doesn’t for this male charge of hers because it’s convenient to have him loitering around her office, sitting in her chair, and generally acting like a burgeoning Twitch).   At one point, Lexi is warned that the office will be doing surprise drug tests which, of course, leads us to Lexi doing weed and blow. It’s not like I have a problem with a character doing drugs but is it believable that a bleeding heart social worker who has seen dozens of children’s lives adversely affected by things like drugs and alcohol would engage in this behavior? Or be unconcerned that this is Twitch’s source of income or be unconcerned that one of her cases now works for Twitch? No, it does not.

In another part of the book, Lexi says something to the effect that because of all her experience as a social worker she knows that Twitch is a sociopath. First, would you really want to be with someone who is a true sociopath because that person will never care for you. Second, Lexi obviously does not know what a sociopath is because that would mean he undertook actions without remorse and it is evident that he has strong feelings for the heroine.  In fact, he has bought a house for her and has a closet full of clothes for her. It’s amazing to me that when Lexi sees the closet full of things for her she finally thinks that, hmmm, something is off about Twitch. I dunno, maybe the fact he’s been stalking you might be your first clue?

Also Twitch has a woman in his life, Ling, who really gets off on being beaten and tortured. She lives in his house. They used to have ugly sex all the time and even despite wanting Lexie so much and stalking her, he still has Ling. Of course after he has sex with Lexie, he doesn’t touch Ling again but she still sticks around, living in his house, having sex in his house. At one point Ling forces a 17 year old boy to have sex with her and Twitch’s response is to tell the seventeen year old not to have sex with Ling and while exasperated with Ling just sees her as mentally ill and therefore not able to be changed. Plus, he’s been the benefit of her sex obsessed behavior so really, does he want to change her?

Ling is a self-confessed sex addict. I tried to get her help once. Once.

Then I found her eating out Dr. Laura McCullough.

The doctor was kind enough to suck my cock as I watched her get licked six ways from Sunday. Although it was hot, I never took Ling back there.

Maybe the book would have been acceptable had Twitch shown any real tenderness toward Lexi but I never got the sense that she was a person to him, just an object of obsession.

Because this is a romance blog, it’s important for me to let you know the ending.  

Spoiler (spoilers): Show

Twitch fakes his death in order to protect Lexi and he disappears from her life because he’s, well, dead.

The writing, the storyline, and just the overall unlikeability of all the characters makes this a D for me. I will say, however, that the writing is such an improvement over Willing Captive that I’m still interested in reading more of Belle Aurora in the future so long as it isn’t this type of storyline.

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

16 Comments

  1. Mara
    Jan 10, 2014 @ 09:55:55

    I love when you read bad books so I don’t have to. Thank you!

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  2. Sahara Hoshi
    Jan 10, 2014 @ 11:01:59

    Try her Friend Zoned series — MUCH better

    ReplyReply

  3. Has
    Jan 10, 2014 @ 11:08:07

    Wow thanks for saving me from buying this. I was eyeing this but glad that its now off my list.

    ReplyReply

  4. Andrea T
    Jan 10, 2014 @ 11:47:33

    “Yes, Lexi the social worker is dumber than a swarm of amoebas …” That pretty much made my day.

    I read the spoiler for the ending. NOPE.

    Some girls in my book group read this and they were very disturbed by aspects of the story. I’m really glad they went under the bus for me.

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  5. mari
    Jan 10, 2014 @ 13:00:03

    UGH…..just ugh…a character taking drugs,
    especially a character who’s supposed to be in charge of kids (!!) would bother me horrendously. And the sex sounds disgusting, not to mention exploitative. Give you credit for reading this, but can’t help wondering why you finished it? What kept you reading to the end? Don’t think I’d read past the choking stuff myself…

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  6. Jo
    Jan 10, 2014 @ 13:32:57

    Thanks for saving me 3.99. Seems “everyone” is reading this and “loving” it but after reading your review I am more than happy to skip this one.
    Agree with Sahara, try her Friend Zoned books…much better.

    ReplyReply

  7. Michelle M.
    Jan 10, 2014 @ 19:07:02

    I appreciate honest reviews that discuss the mechanics of books. I especially like reviews that save me time and money. Thank you!!!

    ReplyReply

  8. Melissa
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 00:37:57

    I read this, thanks to all the Facebook idiots that LOVED it. Jane, you missed one little thing that drove me bananas. Every time she described his look or his expressions, she used the word “hooded.” It was in every chapter several times. Not only did the heroine say his eyes were hooded, the hero, in his own narrative, says his eyes were hooded. Yeah, and the ending? SO WHAT. I didn’t care by that point.

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  9. Beth
    Jan 22, 2014 @ 13:07:48

    You all must have a stick in your A@$ .. this was a great book. I loved every page. If you don’t get this style then you have no imagination and are too uptight to fantasize. I am so waitng to see if there is a book to follow. Lexi is not a stupid social worker, she is exactly what a social worker should be, non judgemental and hopeful of change in people given a bad hand in life. It’s funny .. I think the people that have read this and didn’t like it must be in that group of people that ” label” others. The man in this book is everything women want, aside from hot as sh*t, he is powerful , wealthy, charming , sexy , clever, lustful and domineering. As for the ending ,,, it was awesome !!! leading to me wanting to read a second book !!

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  10. kim
    Jan 23, 2014 @ 21:15:55

    This book was incredible. I have never showed so much emotions when reading but I have never loved a book until I read Raw. This book was amazing through all of the goosebumps, laughs and tears!!!!! I read alot-about a book or more a day and this is the first review any any book I felt that I had to share!

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  11. Sarah g
    Jan 25, 2014 @ 19:32:53

    Jane

    Hmm don’t agree w/ trash talking the ladies that didn’t like the book. I give RAW an A for holding my attention. I loved this book. It gave me a dark gritty hero who didn’t abuse the h. I choose to ignore the part where he hired a guy to beat her up so he could be her hero. This is before they started dating. Twitch did murder the guy later for hurting Lexi.

    Twitch loved Lexi. There was no physical abuse or cheating. This was a fabulous read.

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  12. jessica b
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 17:41:12

    i absolutly loved this book, it was powerful and intense. i was pretty much holding my breath the whole time reading it.. i loved it! for other readers, please give it a shot before taking Jane opinion, sorry jane.. you are being a little too hard here.. people do crazy stuff when they are in love, Lexi obviously did too and for anyone whos been in love before, you know that you cant help who you fall for. LOVED THIS BOOK!! raw is the perfect title for it, crazy intense emotional and a even had me laughing out loud at times..

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  13. love2read
    Feb 12, 2014 @ 15:02:34

    Jane sorry to disappoint you but, I FRICKING LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!! It’s not like any other book I have read. Its hot, sexy and real, its a book a street kids can relate to. I grew up in a bad neighbourhood so I can relate to this book. Also, your comment about Lexi being dumb is way off base, nobody is perfect, just because Lexi wanted good for her cubs, (her kids) doesn’t mean she has to be a saint. She loved Twitch, when people are in love they do crazy things. A next thing, if Twitch was any different, I would have stopped reading this book, became I am tired of all the romance book where the heroes are all kind and good. What the villains, do we just forget about them, are they not people too. Bad people fall in love too, they deserve to get a book written about them. I am pretty sure that any gangster, drug lord or mob boss who read this book would love it, why would they love it you ask? Ummm… Let me pounder on that question a bit…. I got it, became they will be able to relate!!!!! This book was a breath of fresh air too me, I love it!!! Give me RAW hard core wounded heroes any day, I am tired of rich do gooders who think they are broken, when in reality they are spoited and their only problem is they wish mummy and daddy gave them a hug when they were younger. Don’t judge the book, because I know people who are in this same kinda drama, and that does not mean they are dumb. You love who you love, you can’t pick who you fall in love with, love picks who u fall in love with. Anyway, I am done now, just want to say congratulation to Belle Aurora, this book was perfect, keep up the good work and don’t let haters get you down, Because the people who hate, are your biggest fan. They don’t have a life, so they stalk your books and become obsess with giving bad reviews. OMG!!! Done that remind you of any one (Twitch)

    One more thing, give this book a chance you might just love it!

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  14. Lorie
    Feb 24, 2014 @ 20:41:32

    Seriously??? How is it ,that you failed to hear the gasp around world ? I do not get too wrapped up in this genre of books ,but I loved Raw. Not to mention, 9 women in my office read the book and all in agreement that it has by far been the most entertaining book this year yet. Maybe you were hoping for a 50 shades of lame to happen. Well,Belle Aurora is not that type of author. I wholeheartedly approve of her writing style. Not every story is a happy ever after that has no obstacles and turbulence within the relationship.

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  15. Carrie
    Mar 08, 2014 @ 22:20:56

    I loved this book so much!!!! I went through so many emotions… I read all kinds of books and some broke my heart but I never cried. This book had me laughing at some things and crying at others. By the time I finished this book I felt heartbroken it was over. Can’t wait for a second book!! Loved it!!! I loved Twitch, you need a bad guy every once in a while.

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  16. Kristi
    Mar 30, 2014 @ 14:56:09

    I really enjoyed this read so I was curious to see why you didn’t and you completely lost me when you said that she was an 8 year old which makes me think that maybe we didn’t read the same book or maybe you had already decided not to like it before you even gave it a chance. Alexa was 6 when she first met Twitch. Anyhow, I happened to love how this book could touch on such sensitive subjects yet the author had me laughing out loud many times as well!! I really hope that if there are people out there that choose not to read this based on another persons opinion that they reconsider and form their own opinions.

    ReplyReply

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