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REVIEW: Rough, Raw, and Ready by Lorelei James

Dear Ms. James:

Rough, Raw, and Ready cover Angela James (no relation, I assume), Editor Extraordinaire at Samhain, has been Twittering about your book for weeks as she edited it, saying how good it is.   She then had a Twitter competition to give away five review copies of the book and while I missed out on that, she sent me a copy anyway (because she’s such a sweetie!).   My Twittered response the next morning.

Trevor and Chassie Glanzer are happily married Wyoming ranchers, trying to make ends meet as they work hard on their small family ranch.   Edgard Mancuso, hot Brazilian cowboy and Trevor’s old roping partner on the rodeo circuit, shows up one day and Chassie invites him to stay for a while.   Problem is, Edgard is gay, Trevor’s former lover, and still in love with Trevor.   His own life has fallen apart (although you don’t find out about that until the end of the book) and he’s come to visit Trevor to see if there’s anything salvageable of their old relationship.   Three and a half years ago, he left Trevor because Trevor refused to give him anything other than secret fucking — Trevor wouldn’t give him the everyday touches and acknowledgments of a long-term relationship (they were, after all, part of the rodeo circuit, not the most gay-friendly of venues), and Edgard didn’t want to be anyone’s dirty secret anymore.

Chassie is, of course, horrified when she catches Edgard and Trevor kissing in frustration and desperation.   She leaves, but listens to the wise words of her cousin who calls her on it when she says that she’d do anything to save her relationship with Trevor:

"I mean would you really do whatever it takes to keep Trevor happy and with you? Even if the option he chooses isn’t the easiest one for you? Or Edgard? Even if the solution is the best one for Trevor? Even if it’s an unconventional solution? [ . . . ] Stranger things have happened in the name of love, Chass. And you already told me you’d do anything. If you are serious then you’d better not discount the possibility because that is a reasonable, fair and possible solution." (86)

Chass goes for it and the three of them basically fuck their way to a solution, taking advantage (har har) of all possible sexual permutations of a triad relationship. In great, glorious, and extremely HOTT detail.

This facile description shouldn’t detract from how good this novel is.   It’s a wonderful romance that lives up to its title.   All three characters are indeed Rough, Raw, and Ready and the novel is too.   As they work through their issues, as we get to watch the pure joy between Trevor and Chassie, as we get to see Trevor and Edgard renew their emotional connection, as we get to watch Edgard and Chassie slowly but definitely fall in love with each other through their mutual love for Trevor, as we watch them fuck each other six ways to Sunday, the emotional journey for characters and readers is front and center.   If you like your ROMANCE hot but sweet, this is the perfect book for you.

For example, the whole conflict between Edgard and Trevor is that Trevor refused to give Edgard any physical expression of affection in their relationship, and of course, the tension between Trevor and Chassie is the relationship between the men.   But after the sexual encounter between the men, initiated by Chassie so she could watch them together, Edgard sacrifices himself:

Trevor pushed to his feet. Edgard expected him to back away, so it shocked the hell out of him when Trevor circled his arms around him and buried his damp face in Edgard’s neck. His admission, "Jesus, I missed you," was nearly inaudible.

But it was loud enough to lodge in Edgard’s heart and his soul.

As much as he craved the affectionate side of this man, Edgard lifted Trevor’s face and pecked him on the mouth. "Same goes. But Chassie needs you. Go to her now." (134)

I definitely felt the melting feeling deep in my gut that is the hallmark of any good romance for me.   That scene alone would be enough to sell me on this book (and the blowjob that preceded it certainly doesn’t hurt, that’s for sure!).

Additionally, the dialogue is truly fabulous–very Brokeback Mountain cowboy twang, complete with grammar and lost terminal “g”s.   But it didn’t remind me of Sarah Palin (thank God) and felt incredibly authentic to the characters and to the setting.   Then again, I’m a Yankee living in North Carolina, so what do I know?   The closest I’ve been to Wyoming is Colorado Springs for three days.   But it felt right to me.   I’d be interested in the response from a Wyom….ah, someone from Wyoming.   (Wyomian? Wyomingian? Wyoman?–hehehe! Wyomanite? Like dynamite?)

It is not all unalloyed joy, of course.   The picky things:   There’s some unfortunate “As you know, Bob” internal info-dumping reflection as the characters flashes through the backstory of their relationships with each other.   It’s necessary and as engagingly written as it can be, but a little long and unrealistic.   Additionally, the names of most of the secondary characters all seem to start with “C”–they’re all related to Chassie and to each other, so I’m sure that the family has something about “C”s, but it’s very difficult to keep them all apart when you read quickly.   Finally, some conversations between secondary characters obviously catch the reader up on characters from the previous four books in the series, or sets up the next book or two.   Again, it’s well done, and you can absolutely read the book without having read the previous four (I did, after all), but there’s just a bit too much of it.

Oh, and Trevor chews tobacco.   Realistic, maybe, for a Wyomininja, but seriously? Ew.   Been around too many artillery men who do it to find it anything other than truly, disgustingly gross.

Picky things aside, there were two major problems I had, although neither were enough to come close to dampening my joy for and enjoyment in this book.

First was the construction of the conflict(s) at the end of the novel.   I don’t think I’m giving anything away (it’s a romance, after all) to say that Chassie, Trevor, and Edgard work out their relationship.   But they do it successfully about two-thirds of the way through the novel.   Which leaves a third of the novel to continue apparently tensionless.   In order to provide further plot, each character deals with their dysfunctional family separately and the tension over a parcel of land for sale that Chassie and Trevor need but can’t afford to buy gets resolved in an innovative way.   But all true relationship tension was over by two-thirds of the way through the novel.   The sex is still good, but it was slightly anti-climactic.   I couldn’t figure out what was left and why I was still reading.

The second issue is one larger than this particular novel.   The phrase “We’re not gay, we just love each other” refers to the homophobic tendency of some slash fandom to pair two men but insist in the narrative that their relationship doesn’t actually make them gay.   I found Trevor’s insistence that his relationship with Edgard didn’t make him gay or even bisexual, because he’s only been with or wanted to be with Edgard slightly grating:

A million questions tumbled in Chassie’s head but one pushed front and center. "Are you gay?"

"No."

"Did I not just see you in a lip lock with your former male ropin’ partner?"

"Yes. Before you ask, I ain’t bi either. It’s just-" He gestured helplessly. "It’s just Edgard." (62)

But then, to be fair, Edgard says the same thing about Chassie, because he’s constructed as completely gay.   So at least it’s a fair representation of WNGWJLEO.   Having had a friend tell me that they went through this themselves, I know now that it’s not just a construct of slash culture, but I personally don’t understand the need for it.   Why couldn’t Trevor have been sexually adventurous with more men than Edgard, or at least aware of a slight sexual attraction to men, even if no one really tempted him to act on it before Edgard?

Would it have changed their emotional connection so much if Edgard hadn’t been Trevor’s first and only male attraction, let alone lover?   I’m not sure, but I would find it more realistic that way, and in a book so grounded in reality (cf: tobacco chewing!), Trevor’s insistence he wasn’t gay pulled me out of the narrative.

But as I said, although these problems made themselves known, they weren’t enough for me not to thoroughly enjoy this strong, heart-warming, stomach-churning romance.   I’m very much looking forward to more m/m or m/m/f books from you.   Grade: B

Joan/SarahF

And can I just say, “Yay! Boxer briefs!”   I’ve NEVER understood boxers–they’re very American and, to me, completely unsexy.   And briefs are just…well, not sexy either.   But boxer briefs…oh yum.   I really think Trevor is the first hero I’ve encountered that wears them.   More boxer briefs, authors! More!

This book can be purchased in ebook format from Samhain Publishing on November 4.

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

77 Comments

  1. willaful
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 15:34:16

    Boxer briefs?! EWWWWW EWWWW and more EWWWWW!

    Book sounds good, though!

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  2. Victoria Dahl
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 15:48:50

    I’ve put heroes in boxer briefs before (and had the heroine squee over how sexy they are), but much as I’d like to, I can’t put EVERY hero in boxer briefs. That would be weird, right? Like they’re all in a secret club?

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  3. Randi
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 15:49:10

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…boxer briefs. yummy.

    Actually, this bookd sounds delightful. I recently read a m/m/f “romance” that did not end happily, and I was all, WTF!!?? So, I’m glad to see that the m/m/f got their HEA.

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  4. MaryKate
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 15:54:53

    Sweet! I’m SO in!

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  5. GrowlyCub
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 16:01:10

    I’ve read one of the earlier books and wondered about Edgard. Interesting review. I’ll put it on the wish list!

    Randi, which one was that? I want to stay far, far away from it! The last m/m I read was like that and I hated that with a passion (because the writing was great, the author made me care about the characters and then one decided he’d rather be with wimmens after all). If they put the romance label on it it better not end with the h/h(/h) riding off into separate sunsets!

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  6. Randi
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 16:11:01

    GrowlyCub:It was Tempted by Megan Hart. I nearly threw the book at the wall. While I didn’t get a good grasp of the male of the orignial m/f couple, I became invested in the second male, and then it ends with the second male riding off into the sunset, and really, no one got a happy ending. I have NO idea why it was in ‘Romance’ and it was terribly depressing. boo.

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  7. Sami
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 16:38:53

    I always imagine heroes in boxer briefs, even if the author says they’re wearing something different. But I thought they were called jockey shorts. That might be an Australian thing.

    Don’t like briefs either but most guys wear them don’t they? Better than a leopard print G-string.

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  8. orannia
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 16:47:11

    Like GrowlyCub I’ve read one of the early books in which Edgard and Trevor were secondary characters. I think I might have to read this :)

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  9. Sayuri
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 17:01:15

    Can I just say in a total fangirly squee that I love ths series. LOVE IT. And I have been waiting for Edgard and Trevor’s story from the first book. I cannot wait for Nov 4.

    Lorelei James is a total auto-buy for me. YAY! I’m so happy to see that you liked it. Book 4, Tied Up Tied Down is my fav.

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  10. jmc
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 17:10:04

    Angela pointed me to Lorelei James after I mentioned that I liked this author’s other books (published by another press, paperbound). The only one I’ve tried so far is M/F, but I have a second book that is M/F with a little M/F/M mixed in TBR. Must add this to the TBB list.

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  11. GrowlyCub
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 17:18:08

    Thanks, Randi! I’ve only read Broken and it left me mostly repelled. It was one of those reads where you really ought to stop but just can’t and then you feel badly when you are done. I’ve talked to other readers who felt like I do and from that I gathered that that perception may have to do with the 1st person narration and the fact that her heroines aren’t very likable (to me anyway).

    I have a copy of Dirty in my TBR, but I’m not sure I want to read it.

    Definitely no such issues with Lorelei’s books! :)

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  12. carolyn jean
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 18:10:49

    Yum, Cowboys! This sounds great.

    Hmm. This is the first negative I have heard about Megan Hart. I have Dirty in my tbr too. But I’ll definitely read it. But I’m grateful for the non happy ending tip in Tempted. Let the lovers stay together!

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  13. Witchy Woman
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 18:38:08

    Even though this was a positive review. I still had a problem with all the details of the book being given away. What part of the book do I have to look forward to that was not in this review? Are there any secrets left for me to uncover on my own. WTF. The most important one the HEA certainly isn’t a secret anymore. Totally ruined the book for me.

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  14. Ann Somerville
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 19:26:48

    The most important one the HEA certainly isn't a secret anymore.

    “(it's a romance, after all)”

    You honestly pick up books in this genre without expecting a HEA? And if reading spoilers totally ruins a book for you, why do you read reviews (especially the in depth ones DA does)? The risks are too great you’ll come across something that might spoil it for you, but which other people don’t regard as a spoiler

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  15. LauraD
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 19:27:28

    HEAs are a secret?

    Sidetrack: I think Megan Hart is brilliant, but I don’t know that I would classify her last 3 books as romance. Randi, you might be interested to know that the “3rd” in “Tempted” will be getting his own book. :)

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  16. Charlene Teglia
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 19:48:35

    I love Lorelei’s books. Her cowboys are fantastic. And I’ve been hoping for a happy ending for Edgard through this series, since Long Hard Ride.

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  17. Joan/SarahF
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 19:57:55

    Um, I really didn’t think that revealing that they all got together in the end was a spoiler. Sorry if that’s not the case. I have to say, I was intrigued by the blog-noise about Megan Hart and picked up Tempted and put it right back down again. And if that had been the case in this book, my review would have been a LOT different.

    I loved the cowboys–seriously loved them. And I’m not really a fan of Westerns, but James totally pulled it off.

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  18. Chuck McKay
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 20:01:14

    There is two sides of the fence when writing reviews.

    On one hand, especially for and ARC, I think it is never acceptable to give spoilers. I think it is never acceptable to quote text from the book either. You have the responsibility of reviewing the book and promoting it to interested buyers. You have just given away most of the plot and left no apparent surprises for me. I am very familiar with the series so I know that Ms. James will still have some surprises left! Her cunning and creativity with the situations she creates never seem to end.

    On the other hand, for a book that has been released, this review is better suited. It would interest me enough to buy it. I’m not sure how much of the plot is revealed but it seems a lot is there. You described the characters some with the situations they will be in.

    I love the series and will buy it anyway. The family saga is intense and very well connected.

    Bottom line, I think you took it a little too far!

    BTW: I wish I could get on Angela James twitter group! I would have loved getting an ARC of LJ’s Work!

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  19. DS
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 21:04:37

    Never quote text? Good heavens, how do you show how you arrived at conclusions about the writing?

    I don’t think that would ever fly here.

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  20. Jane
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 21:18:18

    Actually quoting is a very effective way to sell a book and a way to show why a book didn’t work. The NBCC, who has strict requirements, have recommended quoting text. In any event, we quote text alot so it’s best not to read many of the reviews.

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  21. ME
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 21:20:33

    Alex was delicious in Tempted and I can’t wait to read his book….I agree with lauraD…Megan Rocks!

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  22. Witchy Woman
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 21:35:19

    In this book there were several choices the author could have used as a HEA (ie Edguard finds someone else to love, Chassie finds someone else) in a romance all parties involved do not have to wind up together as we see in Ms James other book “Long Hard Ride”. I also feel that if you review one book in a series you should have at least read the previous books if not reviewed them as well. If the reviewer would have done that in this case it could have saved the reviewer from making comments like “Additionally, the names of most of the secondary characters all seem to start with “C”-they're all related to Chassie and to each other, so I'm sure that the family has something about “C”s, but it's very difficult to keep them all apart when you read quickly.” If the other books in the series had been read the reviewer would have known this already. As will any fan that enjoys Ms James Rough Riders series. I also don’t understand what the reviewer thought it had to do with reviewing Rough Raw and Ready to begin said review with “Angela James (no relation, I assume), Editor Extraordinaire at Samhain, ” lead me to believe that there may be a relation and Ms James might only be published because of said relation. Having had the pleasure of reading all of Ms James books I know that her writing abilities would get her published no matter who the publisher was. For someone not familiar with Ms James this could lead them to believe that her talent is lacking, I thought that the reviewer stepped over the line with remarks like that. I also found it a little “grating” that the reviewer felt the need to make comments about the characters as Ms James wrote them, “The second issue is one larger than this particular novel. The phrase “We're not gay, we just love each other” refers to the homophobic tendency of some slash fandom to pair two men but insist in the narrative that their relationship doesn't actually make them gay. I found Trevor's insistence that his relationship with Edgard didn't make him gay or even bisexual, because he's only been with or wanted to be with Edgard slightly grating:” Yes in a perfect world a man might be able to admit that he is Gay or Bisexual. In the real world however I find that that is rarely the case. Yes more and more a man or a woman can freely admit that they are Gay, but some still find it impossible to say. I thought that Ms James rendering of the character Trevor was very realistic and compelling. Why even label these men as Gay or Bisexual? I feel there is way to much labeling today as it is. Why can’t they be two individuals (or three as the case may be) who found love together. Maybe that’s what Ms. James meant all along.

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  23. Jane
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 21:44:53

    @Witchy Woman – I think you are reading too much into a few toss away sentences. First, Angela James is well known to us here at Dear Author. I’m sure the “no relation, I assume” is a joke and meant to be one.

    Second, the comments about the characters are what we are looking for in reviews. It’s a mark of how thoughtful the reviewer is when discussing the book.

    Third, please use some paragraph breaks.

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  24. Seressia
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 21:45:29

    I enjoy DA’s reviews, and I’ve gotten some books I wouldn’t have otherwise, thanks to them. If a book works for them, they tell me why. If it doesn’t, they tell me why. The details are nothing new, at least not in the year I’ve been visiting this site.

    I also appreciate the quoted text–it’s quite like me flipping through a book in the bookstore to see if the writing style suits me, since the blurb can only sell it so much. I have to say, that part Joan quoted in which Edgard sent Trev to Chassie really got me. I’ll definitely add this one to my to-buy list.

    ETA: By “blurb” I mean cover copy, not an excerpt.

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  25. GrowlyCub
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 21:56:16

    I’ve read 2 of the 5 books and I’m having a heck of a time keeping all the Cs and Ks apart, so that is definitely a problem and worthy of mention for those readers who might pick up book 5 first.

    Also, I have to say I find it rather peculiar that anybody would feel they have the right to tell a reviewer that they cannot mention issues they have with the story. Any guy who has sex with men and women is by definition bi. That’s what bi-sexual means. And if one says he isn’t, then he’s in denial and I’d question the survival of any long-term relationship. The fact that he has no desire to sleep with any other males besides the one does not make him any less bi.

    I’m almost finished with the second Rider book and I have to say the editing leaves a lot to be desired. I’d forgotten that the reason I ended up not buying the other two titles FW had available after reading Gemma’s story was because the editing turned me off big time. I hate it when the book is great but the lack of editing pulls me out of the story every other paragraph.

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  26. Chuck McKay
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 22:41:40

    “DS on October 30th, 2008 at 9:04 pm:

    Never quote text? Good heavens, how do you show how you arrived at conclusions about the writing?”

    It’s a review! There is no need to prove how you arrived at a conclusion. Simply stating an opinion throughout is plenty!

    “Actually quoting is a very effective way to sell a book and a way to show why a book didn't work. The NBCC, who has strict requirements, have recommended quoting text. In any event, we quote text alot so it's best not to read many of the reviews.”

    It’s still an opinion. Who ever recommended quoting does not matter to me. I still think that you should not quote in a review. That’s my opinion.

    In all fairness, I have never read a review here before. I arrived here from an external link. I have written a few reviews and just disagree with the manner this one was carried out.

    I’m just disappointed that all this information was revealed about the book before the public release of the book.

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  27. cc
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 22:52:18

    I find the comment about not reviewing a book that is mid-series odd- If that is the current release it is the one I am most likely to look at as a possible purchase, as such I need to know how it plays as a stand alone in addition to the basics of the story itself. I am not going to go to the trouble of finding back lists to get caught up on a series and then read the current offering. I am going to read the current book and be glad I only spent my money on one or am going to glom onto the author and spend the mortgage money buying the back list.

    I agree about quotes being not only nice to have in a review, but important. I have read some reviews of books that sounded like a good thing only to pick them up and realize that something about the cadence and sentence structure of the author feels off and makes for an uncomfortable read. No matter how good the story is if the rhythm is odd or the editing and grammar clumsy it’s not going to be a pleasant experience for me.

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  28. kirsten saell
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 22:57:44

    That's what bi-sexual means. And if one says he isn't, then he's in denial and I'd question the survival of any long-term relationship. The fact that he has no desire to sleep with any other males besides the one does not make him any less bi.

    Well, it could make him “less bi” as opposed to “very bi”. And speaking as a woman who is at least as open to connecting sexually with women as with men, I actually find this compulsive need to label sexual behavior/orientation annoying. I mean, there are widely varying degrees of bisexuality, and the vast majority of people are really only as straight or as gay as their options, or the things they can be talked into once you fill them full of liquor. I don’t think of myself as straight, bi or lesbian, just as a person.

    As far as the review goes, well, spoilers or not, this one would make me more likely to pick up the book. I have a soft spot for three-person romances, complete with three-person HEAs. It’s really hard to pull off a “menage that turns into a couple” type of HEA, without seeming to treat one point of the triangle callously. And I’m a sucker for a menage where everyone is into everyone else. :D

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  29. Witchy Woman
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 23:02:41

    Dear Jane; The question still remains does a “inside joke” that is only known to a very few belong in a professional review? You as reviewers hold a huge amount of power in your hands. I think that you would agree that you have to be careful of every printed word. So still the question remains should a “inside joke” that is known as an “inside joke” to a very few be put into a printed article read my thousands or even only hundreds?

    I think an apology may be due, if not for that “little remark”, then at least for the misspelling of Ms. Lorelei James name.

    Lastly, I will apologize for my own grammar, spelling, and punctuation or lack there of. I am not a writer professional or otherwise and never hope to be and alas everything I have learned in school seems to have been forgotten by my diseased brain. Once again my heartfelt apologies.

    Witchy Woman

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  30. Robin/Janet
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 23:08:17

    In my reviews I try to give as much detail as possible about what did and didn’t work for me about a book without revealing spoilers. However, what isn’t a spoiler for me is for someone else, and vice versa. Quoting text actually assists in the ‘no spoilers’ review, IMO, because quoted text allows the reviewer to give detailed reasoning for the grade and overall reaction/interpretation of the book without resorting to a general expanse of plot summary, which, inevitably, would include spoilers.

    Like books, not all reviews will work for every reader. One of the things I like best about writing and reading the DA reviews is that they’re not publisher promotions but reader opinions pure and simple. We each have our own style, as well as our own pet peeves and pet loves. Jane gives us no rules, which is what makes it fun and challenging. Personally, I don’t think there should be many (if any) rules for reviews, because IMO readers should never feel unqualified in any way to give their opinion of a book (just as no one should feel required to read any particular review). I appreciate disclosure in a review (i.e. ‘this is the first M/M Romance I’ve read’ or ‘I haven’t read any other books in this series’) but IMO it’s not mandatory.

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  31. GrowlyCub
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 23:18:42

    I guess it all depends on how you look at things. I identify as bi. How many, or if any, women I’ve actually slept with has nothing to do with that.

    Obviously, I have no issues with labeling myself that way and by extension if I see people involved in behavior that fits the common definition I’ll identify them that way.

    The point I was addressing, however, was that denial in any form about our sexuality usually has negative consequences for the people we are involved with and that pointing out that one of the characters seems to be in denial is a valid concern for a reviewer.

    I’m getting some superfunky vibes from WW and I really, really, *really* hope my suspicions aren’t correct, because that would mean one less author seeing any more money from me.

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  32. Maura
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 00:09:25

    As far as WNGWJLEO goes, yeah, it does happen. It happened to me. But… it didn’t last, because, labels aside, we just plain were not sexually compatible. It didn’t work out in a very big way. I’d be very curious to see whether an author is able to make such an arrangement plausibly work out as a long term thing.

    I had no issue with the review- that the hero/ines end up together is no spoiler in my book! But I do get disheartened when I see a book is in the middle of a series somewhere– I don’t really like my romances to come in series, and knowing I may be at a disadvantage when I start out tends to put me off.

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  33. Ann Somerville
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 02:11:03

    WW, I know you see yourself as defending your favourite author here (I don’t believe you’re Ms James, for the record) but honestly, and I mean no insult – she wouldn’t thank you for what you’re saying. Her editor is a friend to the DA squad and a constant presence here, and the DA reviewers are held in wide and high regard. This book got an excellent review and score, and your complaints are based on a misunderstanding. No apology should be asked for or is due. Speaking as an author myself, I bet you anything Ms James is very happy with the review she got here, and no harm has been done or intended to her reputation.

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  34. Joan/SarahF
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 07:25:36

    WW, thanks for pointing out the misspelling of Ms. James’ name. I have fixed it, as you see. You have no idea how many times I proofread this review, and it was still littered with spelling errors. ::sigh:: Makes me that much more appreciative of what editors and copy editors do all day. :)

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  35. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 07:54:52

    First a confession – I’m an end reader. I want my happy ending and I like to make sure of it first. I find it fun to find out how the characters get there. And very often, you can get a feel for the characters, ie are the characters at the beginning identifiable with the characters at the end, or has the author cheated?

    I share editors with Lorelei James, and believe me, there is no way Angie would give anybody, even if it were her mother or her aunt, a free ride. (I’m just about to start the edits on the Richard and Rose series, so there might be a wince or two there!)

    Now the review – I write my books so they can be read separately, if the reader wants to. With certain exceptions, I would count the first three chapters and the happy ending to be non spoiler country, but when I read the review, there were blacked-out lines with that bit in. I tend to read a bit haphazardly in series, luck on them and then grab the others if I like it.

    Is it okay if one of them rides into the sunset if they’re all happy with the decision? I’ve read menages like that which I’ve enjoyed, and the “spare” goes on to have his own story.

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  36. Joy
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 07:58:24

    I’ve looked at this series but never purchased. Based on this review, I will add to my TBB list – and reconsider getting an ereader.

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  37. Emmy
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 08:06:24

    You as reviewers hold a huge amount of power in your hands

    All hail the Ja(y)nes, omnipotent rulers of the ga(y)lactica.
    *gigglesnort*

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  38. Diana Peterfreund
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 08:29:20

    FWIW, I thought this was a great review. I’ve noticed a marked improvement in the reviews on this site in the past several months which have made me a blog regular. In fact, I bought Broken Wing the other day because of a review on this site.

    Also, I think it’s fine for a reviewer to start reviewing mid-series. The alternative relegates later books in a series to obscurity if the early ones were not widely reviewed. Since series tend to become more poplar as time goes on, it makes sense that this would be the pattern. My first book was not reviewed by Publisher’s weekly but the following two were.

    And I appreciate the quotes too. The best reviews are not merely “opinions,” but reasoned opinion and analysis, which of course, must show justification. Still don’t have to agree, but the point is they are making persuasive arguments and backing them up.

    And all this on a positively reviewed book!

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  39. Elle
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 08:35:02

    I actually liked this review a lot, although I am not sure that I have ever read a book (thus far) with a menage that ends up with a group HEA. So I guess that detail might have been a bit of a spoiler for me.

    A (completely serious) question for those “in the know” about these things, but is a long term HEA really possible in a sexual/romantic relationship between three people? It seems like relationships are difficult enough with only two people involved…but I suppose it could work if all parties are really self-confident and well-adjusted. Does such a thing exist in the Real World, or is it just a romance novel construct?

    The story as described reminded me a little of “Brokeback Mountain”, but with Ennis’s wife being much more sexually adventurous, and (of course) a Happy Ending.

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  40. Chuck McKay
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 08:38:38

    Diana, I’m am amazed at your comment. Beautiful! Very well spoken!
    Thanks, My day has just been made better!

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  41. Randi
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 09:29:56

    Carolyn Jean says: “But I'm grateful for the non happy ending tip in Tempted. Let the lovers stay together!”

    I’m confused. You LIKE not having an HEA in a romance? Then, for me, it’s not a romance and shouldn’t be shelved in the romance section. It should be shelved in Fiction. Regardless, the lovers DON’T stay together, which is why it doesn’t have an HEA and just one of the reasons I was disappointed.

    GrowlyCub: It wasn’t just the heroine that bugged me; she was OK, though I wasn’t thrilled with her. It was also that I didn’t like the husband and had zero attachement to him. In fact, he seemed like a ghost for the whole book. The third male was the most fleshed out character and I really liked him. But he just couldn’t make the book work all by himself, and add in the lack of HEA, and ugh. This was not a cheap purchase and I felt like a sucker, honestly.

    LauraD: While I appreciate that Alex is getting his own story, Megan Hart is not a buy for me anymore. It’s interesting that you say her last few books are not “romance”. I concur, after reading Tempted. But as I said before, those books shouldn’t be shelved in Romance. It’s deceiving to the buyer, and since this was my first ever purchase from Ms. Hart, a nasty surprise.

    For those that like Ms. Hart, good. I don’t have anything against her personally, nor do any of my posts suggest that. I just like my romances to have an HEA at the end, and Tempted does not have that.

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  42. Randi
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 09:32:00

    Ps. Ja(y)nes: I like the way you do your reviews; it’s one of the reasons I come here. So…

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  43. Victoria Dahl
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 09:44:48

    I’m with Diana. This was a great review (despite that I only commented on the underwear). I don’t understand the assertion that reviewers should have to read the whole series to review one book. Because then the same applies to readers, doesn’t it? “Oh, no, you’d better not read my book if you haven’t read the other two!” Good Lord, it’s an author’s nightmare! *shudder*

    And, as someone who’s had her work quoted in a DA review… rock on. I was honored, and several commenters said they would buy it based on the quote. What could be better?

    If I had time to read right now, I’d buy this book. But alas, I don’t. (And Joey Hill, if you happen to be here… It was a false alarm. I had no time to read last weekend. Who was I kidding? Natural Law now lined up for December *g*)

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  44. Randi
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 10:00:33

    OOOO, Victoria, I finished Natural Law last night. It was superb! I can see why people like Joey Hill and I’d agree that it’s a wonderful introduction to BDSM.

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  45. Jane
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 10:02:10

    @Witchy Woman – We are readers, not professional reviewers. This site is maintained by people who do it for the love of the genre and not for any compensation. And, we try to be entertaining so that people actually want to read the reviews. I don’t know that the Angela James reference is an “inside joke” and I’m sorry if it comes off that way. When I read it, in fact, I thought that Sarah F was trying to diffuse any connection between both the author and the editor and to tell the story of how she came to read the book.

    I always try to say why I choose to read a particular book, many times for my own record keeping and to explore my own reading/buying habits. Plus, I think it’s interesting to read WHY a person picks up a particular book.

    As for our so called power, this review is one that is by and large very positive. The reviewer essentially is saying that despite the problems, I enjoyed this book and hope that those who are inspired to read the book enjoy it too.

    I’ve made many a typo in my day and it’s because we aren’t edited here. We self edit and lots of times we can make mistakes. I am very grateful for commenters who point out errors that we can fix.

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  46. Victoria Dahl
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 10:03:50

    Damn you, Randi, I don’t have time!!! Stop torturing me! Stupid NaNoWriMo writing marathon starts this month. Grr. I’m sure I’ll have lots of free time around the holidays though, right? *g*

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  47. Randi
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 10:11:33

    @Victoria: ;) I’m on to The Vampire Queen’s Servent now. Jealous?

    As for NaNoWriMo-I tried that two years ago. I think I did it the first two days and then gave up. hahahahaha. Good luck, though!

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  48. Victoria Dahl
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 10:13:28

    @Victoria: ;) I'm on to The Vampire Queen's Servent now. Jealous?

    As for NaNoWriMo-I tried that two years ago. I think I did it the first two days and then gave up. hahahahaha. Good luck, though!

    Boy, you are a real ball of inspiration. Thanks for that. *snort*

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  49. Randi
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 10:18:16

    @Victoria: hahahahahahahaha. How about this: I have a crap-load of friends who do every year and write EVERY DAY! I’m just the slacker of the group. I have full faith and confidence you will not follow in my footsteps. ;)

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  50. Witchy Woman
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 11:20:15

    It seems that I owe several apologies. Firstly to Ann and Laura D. I must apologize for being ignorant to the fact that a “romance” always ends in on particular HEA. I can only defend myself my saying, that I love books. The only pleasure in my life comes from books. I will forgo food in order to have money for books. I confess, I don’t as a rule read reviews but I have been not so patiently waiting for this book so when I heard there was a review I had to come read it. I had no idea that a review would go through the book like that and reveal (it seems all the juiciest parts the most heartfelt moments or what type of HEA it ended with. Needless to say it broke my heart to have all the mystery of a book revealed. So I stand by my opinion that review did in fact ruin the book for me. Note I said for ME. I thought if the review were positive I would be encouraged to buy the book with “teasers” (my word I don’t know if you use it). I must say I had never even heard of “spoilers”. Once again I apologize for my ignorance in this matter.

    Secondly, I apologize to “Growly Cub” Seems you misunderstood me. I never said a reviewer could not tell the issues they had with a book. I meant to say I thought it was superfluous anyone who read the other books would know this and not be confused. I also admit to being a bit over zealous. The reviewer made no mention that this was number___ in a series. I thought the information may have been useful but you might disagree. I would never want to read a book out of order. I loose too much that way. Next I apologize that I gave you “superfunky vibes” I had no idea, honestly, I thought we were discussing a review and my perceived flaws of said review. I can’t believe you thought I was the author, PLEASE!! really ? I am honored and floored. My writing is atrocious, as evidenced here. I have always wanted to write but was always afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it. Now the time has passed. I have been diagnosed with a brain cancer, thus the diseased brain comment. I agree with you on the editing part but once again I am ignorant do they have proofreaders anymore? Who fixes these I have no idea but something like that would be great in a review. I get confused easily enough as it is.

    Lastly, once again to Ann I am glad you did not think I was the author. However, I find it hard to believe that an Editor would actually hold a writer responsible for someone else actions. If I am ignorant in this area as well, then I will say that, that is just WRONG. If I am questioning a omnipotent editor so be it I have been known to question God, so the editor who would hold someone responsible for another actions is in very good company.

    I will refrain from reading any and all reviews in the future. I don’t want my books spoiled for me ever again. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding attitude towards me during this discussion I have become so very much more informed that I was before, I remain always, WW

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  51. JenB
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 12:15:11

    Fantastic review! I especially love the little details. I read the first Rough Riders book and it didn’t do much for me, so I’ve stayed away from the series since then. However, your review makes me a little bit tempted to skip ahead to this book. I may not ever actually get around to it, but still…I’m at least curious. That’s gotta count for something, right? LOL

    And please don’t sweat the minor complaints. You’re a fabulous reviewer. I’d love to see you write more reviews here, especially m/m and menage.

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  52. roslynholcomb
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 12:56:22

    Okay, I’ve really got to stop reading reviews over here. I’ve already gotten strung out on Patricia Briggs because of this board. Made me buy an anthology, something I never do, and TWO SERIES. Another definite no-no. This is a definite buy for me, but damnit, I’m not going to buy the whole series this time. No. No. No.

    Thank Goddess it comes out on November 4. Give me something else to do besides watch election results and feed my ulcer.

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  53. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 13:04:10

    Wonderful review, as is always the case at DA. I do, however, have a problem with the books’s plot. It’s entirely a matter of personal taste. This could very well be a superbly written, engaging story, but it just happens to hit one of my oh-shit-not-this-again buttons.

    I am so, so tired of a menage involving a woman being the magic fix for two men who want to get it on — men who won’t or can’t admit to the depth of their desire for each other and the ramifications of that desire. This particular plot device has not only been done to death in erotic romance, it’s always struck me as a cop-out . . . and an unrealistic one, at that.

    Now, a menage for the pure, sensual thrill of a menage . . . fine. I happen to like ‘em. Even the denial (i.e., “we’re only queer for each other”) is understandable and acceptable — if, that is, it’s temporary, and working through that denial requires a psycho-emotional struggle. But throwing a woman into the mix to make a happily-ever-after threesome, because God forbid the hero(es) should be gay and/or have to make difficult choices — that specious “cure-all” just grinds my gears.

    Again, this is certainly nobody’s gospel but mine. I’m sorry, but I doubt I’ll ever read a book that uses a woman as the bonding element for two homoerotically charged men. Unless, of course, she’s their mother. ;-)

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  54. Seressia
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 13:10:20

    As someone who’s been burned by “romance” books not having the HEA ending even between the hero and heroine (WTH?), I appreciate knowing whether or not a book does, even in menage stories. For me there’s a difference between someone having a threesome and three people falling in love. If the triangle is a large part of the book, especially emotionally, I’d like to know if all three folks stay together.

    And did I miss the definition for WNGWJLEO? Gah, I feel stupid.

    Happy Pumpkin Day

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  55. Jill Sorenson
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 13:19:28

    I don’t assume that every character in a menage romance will get their HEA. It seems like I’ve read plenty of reviews in which two of the three stay together. So the hidden text is appropriate, I feel.

    However, one woman’s spoiler is another’s juicy tidbit. Seems like lots of readers are interested in this book because of what’s been revealed. I was very entertained by the review. :D

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  56. Anion
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 13:47:39

    This is one of the weirdest–and most inconsistent–comment threads I think I’ve ever read.

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  57. Randi
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 13:53:07

    Jill: I’m just curious, when you buy a book in the romance section, what are your expectations? Versus, say, buying a book in the Fiction section? For me, if it’s shelved in Romance, it should have an HEA. Otherwise, it’s a story, with romantic elements; which is Fiction. Now, this is JUST me, but I’m curious what you’re thinking when you’re in the bookstore.

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  58. Jill Sorenson
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 14:42:47

    Randi,

    Are you saying that an HEA for two of three characters doesn’t count?

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  59. Joy
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 14:53:32

    I think if it’s a romance about the relationship of 3 people, then the 3 people need to be together for a HEA (even if I’m not sure that can really happen in real life).

    If it’s a romance about the relationship of 2 people and they include a third occasionally, then the HEA is when the 2 remain together.

    That difference is why I don’t have a problem with Lora Leigh’s ECs that occasionally include the third but I hated the end of one of Shayla Black’s books. However, I would have liked it as a non-romance.

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  60. Ann Somerville
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 15:38:43

    , I find it hard to believe that an Editor would actually hold a writer responsible for someone else actions.

    So would I, and that’s not what I meant. All I meant was if Ms James the author had her feathers ruffled by any review here, Ms James the Editor would be better able than most to soothe and explain things. But I’m absolutely certain no soothing was needed.

    You don’t need to apologise to me for not knowing the expectations of a particular genre. I just hope that when you read reviews here in future, you’ll have a better idea what to expect. And I hope you give this book a go, if you like the author and series. After all the pleasure is in the journey, not just the destination, when we read, or we’d never reread old favourites, right?

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  61. MD
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 16:57:28

    Again, this is certainly nobody's gospel but mine. I'm sorry, but I doubt I'll ever read a book that uses a woman as the bonding element for two homoerotically charged men. Unless, of course, she's their mother. ;-)

    I feel similarly, but to the extent that I don’t buy or read any threesome stories. I don’t consider them romance. Just erotica. Maybe it’s possible that three people could fall in love together, but I don’t really think so and it doesn’t satisfy my need for the true love, only-you-and-me quality of a twosome. YMMV.

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  62. roslynholcomb
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 17:04:26

    @Seressia: WNGWJLEO=We’re Not Gay We Just Love Each Other

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  63. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 18:24:03

    Menage stories don’t bother me in the least — hell, I’ve written some — but it’s the “toss a woman into the blender” that bothers me, and I mean when the female ingredient is used to achieve a HEA. The trope is grossly overused, as I said earlier, and more than a little cowardly.

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  64. Joan/SarahF
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 20:00:48

    MD: I know a couple of triads. Yes, it’s hard work, but I’ve seen it work.

    K.Z. I’ve been thinking about your comments. I agree with you in general, but this book totally didn’t feel like that. It really felt like all axes of the triad were well and truly fleshed out and fully felt. Edgard and Trevor didn’t need Chassie to help them get together–that happened without her years prior to the story. And they didn’t even really need her to help them reveal their emotions. In fact, she was the barrier between them as well as the catalyst that forced their relationship. It was very well done, very interesting, and it DIDN’T feel like, “Oh, no, not again.” Chassie didn’t act as the ingredient to achieve the HEA. The relationship tension at the end, what there was of it, was whether Chassie and Edgard would fall in love.

    YMMV, of course. But I thought it was very well done.

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  65. Emma Petersen
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 21:05:33

    Can I just say in a total fangirly squee that I love ths series. LOVE IT. And I have been waiting for Edgard and Trevor's story from the first book. I cannot wait for Nov 4.

    Lorelei James is a total auto-buy for me. YAY! I'm so happy to see that you liked it. Book 4, Tied Up Tied Down is my fav.

    Sayuri! Seriously! I am so addicted to this series! I bought Tied Up Tied Down read it from cover to cover and went back and bought all the other books in the series! I love Tied Up Tied Down but my absolutely fav is Cowgirl Up And Ride. From this review that may change after I read Rough, Raw and Ready. I totally can’t wait for November 4th. Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait!

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  66. Lori
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 21:46:29

    Several people have commented that they don’t think that a menage could be long term in real life. That’s honestly not the case. It’s not the norm in our society, but it happens more than you think.

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  67. Kaetrin
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 02:16:43

    Loved the review, will probably get the book.

    Please keep putting in quotes from the text.

    Also, I want to be warned if there is NO HEA -I read romance books just to get a HEA and if I don’t get it I GET MAD!!!!

    Love DA. Keep it up.

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  68. Randi
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 09:06:21

    Jill: When a threesome book is in the romance section, yes. I expect a 3-way HEA. If it’s in Fiction, anything goes, including a depressing resolution. Additionally, if the blurb on the back of the book implies a 3-way HEA, I most absolutely expect it. I guess the difference could be Tempted versus Lora Leigh’s Nauti series (which I liked). The way Lora’s blurbs explain the story does not imply a 3-way HEA. Tempted did. But I have to say, up until the end of Tempted, I expected a 3-way HEA. My opinion, of course. And there have been plenty of discussion about blurbs and shelving expectations, so I don’t thinnk I’m alone.

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  69. Jill Sorenson
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 10:17:35

    Okay. I didn’t realize a 3-way HEA was the norm. One of the reviews I read for a menage romance at Mrs. G’s suggested that the two guys ended up together, for example. I kind of assumed that the two of three HEA was more expected.

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  70. Estara
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 10:55:26

    Re the in-depth reviews with quotes, my two cents: it’s why I return to DA again and again – apart from the interesting posts about the industry as such – I have so many books to read that it doesn’t matter what I know beforehand and I’d much rather be fairly sure that I’d have a positive to my taste experience (which I get via the reviews) and not spend money on things I then have to give away or not finish or offer on bookmooch, etc.

    When there was no internet I ordered blind or by the back description a lot and squandered a lot of money that way. With a site like this I take chances on unknown authors which I otherwise probably wouldn’t (and it’s not as if I could read up on them in book stores, since I don’t live in an Englishspeaking country).

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  71. RfP
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 13:31:13

    I love quotes. Without an excerpt, I have no way to judge for myself whether I like the writing. However, I also like a little element of surprise, or at least curiosity, in my reading. If there’s tension in the book, preserve it! A lot of lengthy reviews tell more of the plot than I like–I don’t want to know too much detail or how things are resolved, whether it’s the villain’s identity or a two- versus three-way happy ending.

    It’s a fine line, though: if it’s all in the service of analysis, I love the detail. And I realize there are a lot of people who want to know exactly those things. That, to me, is why hiding spoilers is useful: so people with a variety of styles can all participate.

    At the same time, the spoiler issue becomes ridiculous with some works; would you hide the details of the resolution of Pride & Prejudice? I read a lot of older works, and I do omit or “spoiler” some things, but my feeling is that the comments are fair game; the review and the open discussion are quite different.

    I don't assume that every character in a menage romance will get their HEA. It seems like I've read plenty of reviews in which two of the three stay together. So the hidden text is appropriate, I feel.

    That constitutes a spoiler for me too; hiding it seems appropriate. However, the DA style of spoiler text (the mouse-over) doesn’t work in my RSS reader: it’s plain text, spoiled up front. If you’re really concerned about spoiling, you might want to use the more common method of changing the text color in HTML/CSS rather than in a script.

    Jill: When a threesome book is in the romance section, yes. I expect a 3-way HEA. If it's in Fiction, anything goes, including a depressing resolution.

    I don’t agree that all 3 must have a HEA. That doesn’t make sense for several erotic romances I can think of that depicted a 3-way as experimentation. You have to label the book “menage” so as to warn some reader, but that doesn’t imply “menage, serious 3-way relationship”.

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  72. Randi
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 13:44:26

    RfP and Jill: As I said, it’s just my personal opinion. That’s what I expect in the Romance aisle. I will re-submit my beef though, that if a book is advertised as an HEA and a menage, then my expectation is that all three get their HEA…together. Otherise, it should be advertised a couple HEA. Anyway…will just make me more cautious about buying authors I have never heard of.

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  73. Moth
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 16:49:34

    I LOVE quotes in reviews. There are so many books that I was on the fence about and quotes tipped me over the edge and thank goodness they did or I might never have read Mr. Impossible or Faking It. Quote away. It reallys does help sell books.

    Oh, and the cover for this book is HAWT. Damn.

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  74. GrowlyCub
    Nov 02, 2008 @ 19:33:52

    Since the question of whether menages can work came up, I thought it was funny that Netflix delivered ‘Three of Hearts’ to me this weekend. I had forgotten it was that high in the queue! :)

    It’s a very interesting documentary about a M/M/F relationship and I thought you all might find it interesting as well.

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  75. Chantal
    Nov 04, 2008 @ 19:12:18

    I read a book from that author, and I think some of those same charactors were in it.
    I know I like the previous story, I’m sure this one will be right up my ally, too.

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  76. Kate
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 17:07:28

    I know this is an old post, but thanks for such a thoughtful review! Am reading this book now, relatively new to the romance/erotica genres, and I’m enjoying it MUCH more than the few I’ve read to this point. (Think I’m done with Lora Leigh.Will be checking back. Thanks!

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  77. Joan/SarahF
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 21:46:15

    Yay, Kate! So glad. Thanks for letting me know.

    ReplyReply

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