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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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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

21 Comments

  1. Lauren
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 08:57:26

    I can’t even be bothered to read any of these stories. I can’t wait until the angsty, tie ‘em up and own them heroes go by the wayside and something else populates the shelves. I think my problem is that I read all of my older sister’s Christina Van Bell novels when I was fairly young and I’m over reading a book for hardcore sex and smut.

    Bring back the pirates and the cowboys!!! :)

  2. pamelia
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 09:07:32

    “I smiled at her. The kind of smile I can feel on my face…”
    Still laughing at that one, (but don’t worry, it’s the kind of laughing I can feel in my face!)
    I’m imagining a moment where he reflects “I smiled at her. The kind of smile I can’t feel on my face…”

  3. AlexaB
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 09:29:35

    I deleted the first book from my Kindle at about the 10% mark, when the hero pulls into a mini mall to buy the heroine Advil and a PowerBar – which is quite a feat in Central London considering there are no mini malls, no Advil, and sports nutrition bars are nowhere near as ubiquitous as they are in the US. London is not Anaheim, Ms. Miller.

    Then the heroine – who accepted a car ride home from the hero even though the only thing she knows about the hero is that he bought a nude portrait of her – takes the pills he proffers and falls asleep. When she comes to, she freaks out – only it’s not because, gee, a strange man gave her pills and she pretty much passed out – no, it’s because of some DEEP and MYSTERIOUS incident in her past.

    And I hit the delete key. Life’s too short to read festivals of stupidity. But what do I know? Simon & Schuster’s Atria imprint just picked up this series for I’m assuming hefty money.

  4. pooks
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:17:14

    Stalker… toilet paper… ass.

    DIES.

  5. Elyssa Patrick
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:35:44

    I’m still laughing over, “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.”

    I couldn’t get into the first book at all or the author’s voice, so I know this one won’t be for me.

  6. cleo
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:37:26

    @pooks: LOVE the toilet paper comment. I’m still grinning about it (and why yes, I can feel the grin on my face).

  7. Fiona
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:42:54

    I’m still trying to figure out what the heck “deepest level of complexity” means. Derp de derp derp.

  8. LG
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:54:24

    “It was a thing of beauty, true, but I just didn’t want anyone else to see what was mine.”

    Does the “it” in this sentence refer to Brynne? If so…ew. Don’t you just love a guy who thinks of the woman he supposedly cares about as an object?

  9. Jane
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 11:40:09

    @LG – I think he is referring to her body.

  10. reader
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 12:05:06

    120,000 copies.

    Since the world has ceased to make any sense whatsoever, I”m going back to bed.
    Thanks for the review.

  11. Kati
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 12:05:24

    I read to 6% on this book (which I bought today because I thought I wanted to read more of the trilogy), and have already moved on to another book. The hero really is a whiny little bitch. I’m out.

  12. Shelly
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 15:28:51

    I’m an evil, evil person. Why do I always skip to the bad reviews because I know they will make me laugh hysterically? “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.” Oh, that was priceless.

  13. Anonymousse
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 16:54:29

    After all, this book apparently sold 120,000 copies.

    /Pounding head against desk/

  14. Marissa H.
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 11:55:49

    I wonder if any of you bitches has ever written a book. I’d love to read and review. That would definitely give me a smile I could feel on my face. SEVEN figures for Blackstone Affair. Guess a lot of people liked it.

    Your reviews suck by the way. In fact, I’ll go so far to say that I’ve never read a single review on here that I liked. All the hating is a huge turn off for me, but hey, to each their own. If you didn’t like Ms. Miller’s first book, why did you buy and read the second one? I am betting you’ll buy and read the third one too. That’s kinda weird if you ask me. If you want to sit around shredding people’s books while you get more hateful than you already are in order to make yourself feel good about the ugliness in your life, then have at it. Maybe some charity work would be a more fulfilling hobby for you than reviewing books. It doesn’t seem to be doing much for you.

  15. Jane
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 12:01:55

    I’m just going to quickly comment so as to forestall any negativity toward Marissa H

    @Marissa H.: I understand that there are many people who enjoyed this book. Based on the figures, the individuals who enjoyed it far outweigh those that did not. I mentioned that in the last line of my review.

    Let me address your question about why I read it. If you’ve been reading DA for the last couple of months, then you will have seen that I indeed reviewed the first book in the series, Naked, and said that it was readable (albeit derivative). I bought and paid for both books and was actually excited to read All In. Unfortunately it did not work for me.

    I do not know whether I will read the last in the trilogy. If it is from Brynne’s perspective and doesn’t end with a cliffhanger and is cheap, then yes, I would probably buy it. My real problem with this book was that the narration by Ethan came off negatively for me and really highlighted the problems of the story (lack of movement, repetitive, derivative).

    As for reviewing books and building up hate, I’m not certain how you can judge whether the reviewing thing is not “doing much” for me. I’ve been reviewing here at Dear Author for six years and counting. I hope to do it much longer.

    There are times that my reviews will be out of sync with many other opinions. That’s okay. I figure having an opposing opinion from the mainstream now and again gives other readers encouragement.

    I wish you the very best reading this holiday season. Thanks for commenting.

  16. Fionn Jameson
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 13:16:42

    @Marissa H.:

    So getting sick of people telling me I should try writing a damn book before I give my damn opinions…

    Wow, girlfriend. You need to take a chill pill. As a matter of fact, lots of people who’ve commented here have written books. Elyssa Patrick, for one. I have. Shelly, for another. So don’t tell us we should try writing a book. Honey, we’ve tried. And we’ve succeeded. Someone needs to attack you with a bar of soap. Using the word “bitch” does so cement a image of what kind of person you must be. A blind, fanatical, er, fan who just can’t help that others disagree. LIKE OMG THEY WON’T AGREE WITH ME, THERE MUST BE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THEM.

    Ironically, I like how you posted “to each his own”. Yes. To each their own. This was a terrible, terribly written book (actually went out and bought the darn thing to assuage my curiosity and boy, was it assuaged) and that’s my thought. My opinion. Where do you get off berating my choice of thought? Also, want to ask: If you don’t like any of the reviews posted here, then why are you still here?

    You mentioned something about how people really liked this book because it sold for seven figures. Sweetie, people really like durian, but that still doesn’t change the fact it stinks. Literally.

    With that aside, you go ahead and review my books and stories. Do your worst.

    Now, please go away. A well-written rebuttal would have been welcome to Jane’s review, but attacking her blindly and calling her a hateful bitch when all she did was review an awful book to the best of her abilities…well, it really makes me wonder who the real bitch is.

  17. MrsJoseph
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 12:04:06

    @Marissa H.: Looks like you protest a little too much. It seems that you are projecting your own personal misery and life on Jane. Maybe it’s time to take that Anger Management class…

  18. Ceilidh
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 12:52:35

    Oh man, it’s been a while since I’ve seen that old anti-review defence. I’ve missed it.

    I have yet to enjoy a self-published big selling erotica/romance. This may be because I have stupidly high standards, or because all the best-selling hype machines are terrible. I can’t decide.

  19. Raine Miller
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 14:11:50

    Oh boy!! This is not what I like to see attached to my name. I never respond to reviews, and have reservations about this but feel it warrants a comment. I regret the tone and name-calling made by Marissa H. and have messaged her privately to ask her to remove the comment, if that’s even possible. I don’t care for the word choice and the personal attack on Ms. Litte and the others in the thread. I apologize on her behalf.

    As for the review process, I get it. I understand that not everyone will find my books enjoyable and that is fine. I appreciate straightforward reviews that leave the personal attacks out of the commentary. Thank you to Ms. Litte for her method even if the review is not complimentary.

    One small thing I would like to mention, however, is the part about my book taking a swipe at E. L. James 50 Shades. It is not my intention. That was Ethan having some inner dialogue when the girls are discussing the books in front of him. My attempt at self-deprecating humor. It’s fun for me as a writer to stick that in when I can. I was merely poking fun at myself and other authors of erotica for writing what we do. And I am not British, but a native Californian. I take it as a compliment that you thought otherwise.

    So, to finish this ramble out, I’d like to express my apologies once again for the attack on Ms. Litte’s review of my book and the others who commented here. I wish for you a peaceful holiday with many good reads that hopefully bring you much enjoyment.

    All the best,

    Raine Miller

  20. Dabney
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 14:31:43

    @Raine Miller: Thanks. It’s always lovely when someone elevates the tone.

  21. Lauren Aasen
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 10:33:09

    “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.”

    You know, I don’t understand the attraction that people have to these stalker-killer heroes. I’m afraid when I meet a man like that – and I’ve been “involved” with several. We weren’t even in relationships – these were men I had only met a few times, or maybe we shared a class together. And all I could think when they started acting like this was “how can I get away without getting hurt?”

    It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

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