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REVIEW:  Raw by Belle Aurora

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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REVIEW:  King of Threadneedle Street by Moriah Densley

REVIEW: King of Threadneedle Street by Moriah Densley

Dear Ms. Densley:

Historical romance reviews are hard to come by not just at Dear Author but around the internet. In an email exchange with Jayne, we joked about putting a bounty on historical reviews meaning we’d pay extra for every historical review that appeared in our inbox. But change starts at home so I pledged I would read and review one new historical every month in 2014.

The King Of Threadneedle Street (Rougemont #2) by Moriah DensleyI started early with The King of Threadneedle Street. It was the number one Victorian romance over at Amazon and it was a bargain price at 99c. The concept is tantalizing but the execution left a lot to be desired.

Alysia Villier is the daughter of a famous courtesan who married well enough to die a Countess but because of Alysia’s notorious parentage, the likelihood of her marrying well is low. Or so we are told. Alysia’s position in the Courtenay household is bizarre. She serves as almost Lord Courtenay’s secretary cum steward, sorting correspondence, sending out replies, handling tenant complaints. She also plans the wedding of Lord Courtenay’s daughter to Duke of Belmont.

Andrew asks his father “Where is the steward? Who is the mistress of the house? Is my mother so addle-brained that Alysia must manage your estate?”

Unfortunately for Andrew, Alysia and the reader, there is no response.

In a convoluted set up, Alysia grows up in the home of Marquees of Courtenay where she and the heir, Andrew Tilmore, Lord Preston, share a childhood romance. Lord Courtenay does not want his bloodlines tainted with the likes of Alysia and he warns her off constantly. Initially a bargain is struck to send Alysia to another home to ostensibly be a companion to Viscountess Harringer but really she’ll be the son’s mistress.

When Andrew suggests a different position for her – any position she desires whether it be lover, mistress, or wife – Alysia refuses. She’d rather, I guess, be the mistress to some stranger than be with her childhood beloved because she fears his social ostracization. Andrew continues to pursue Alysia throughout the story as she runs from him and his desire to give her a legitimate place in society, one beside the man she purports to love.

To tarnish her even more, Alysia goes to Paris where she becomes an actress and–unbeknowst to her–a demimonde in training. Fortunately Andrew has been searching for her and finds her before she can be sold to someone else. All this happens and Alysia remains untouched.

Alysia’s continued rejection of Andrew makes very little sense to me. He’s a man of great fortune. He’s brilliant. He’s the son of a Marquess. The idea that in the late 1800s him marrying a Countess’s daughter even if the Countess had a poor reputation would somehow ruin his ability to make money trading stocks wasn’t well conveyed in the book.

None of the surrounding characters made much sense either. Andrew doesn’t squawk when his sister’s new husband wants to invite Alysia on the honeymoon. While he might warn Alysia away from the Duke of Belmont, he makes no moves to warn his sister. His mother continually pushes awful women at Andrew including ones that have about as poor of a reputation as Alysia, yet shuns Alysia.  His father raises his mistress’s daughter in his household but won’t countenance a relationship between her and his son. Instead, he does everything he can to push Alysia into high class prostitution.

And it’s not that Alysia will be poor either. Thanks to the management of her money by Andrew, Alysia will be very wealthy when she comes into her inheritance.  So none of the choices made by any major players in the book seemed authentic. The plot became even more convoluted as the story went on. The twists in the story seemed melodramatic rather than interesting as we discover Alysia’s parentage and Alysia and Andrew’s social standing almost flips. Perhaps with tighter editing or a more focused plot this could have been interesting.

Andrew was a sweet beta hero who was head over heels in love with Alysia. They were two nice characters who probably belonged together but the effort to keep them apart was too artificial.

It’s a fairly long book,  made longer by the unnecessary addition of nonsensical plot point after nonsensical plot point.  It took me six days to finish this book. It’s an inauspicious start to my renewed commitment to historicals. D

Best regards,

Jane

 

 

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