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REVIEW:  Take Me On by Cherrie Lynn

REVIEW: Take Me On by Cherrie Lynn

take-me-on

Dear Ms. Lynn,

I read and enjoyed the previous book in this series, Leave Me Breathless,  last year so I was happy when this one landed in my inbox.  While the series has a lot of recurring characters and there is regular reference to events from previous books, I think the books work well as stand alone novels too.  I confess I DNF’d the first book – Unleashed.  One day I may go back to it because I have enjoyed other books from you and maybe I was just in a bad mood (although naming genitals is not something I’m fond of and that was one of the reasons I stopped) and I haven’t read Rock Me, the second book. I had no trouble following what was happening so I’d say to potential readers not to worry about it being book four of a series.

Gabriella is the oldest Ross sibling, at thirty-six.  She has been a nurse and is now in medical school  The book begins when she is just about to finish her first year and just about to marry cardiologist Mark Easton.  When he’s a no-show at the wedding, she’s humiliated and heartbroken.  She heads away from Dallas to her hometown to lick her wounds for the summer before she has to return to start her second year.  The Ross family is obviously wealthy and Gabriella is very luck in that her parents pay for most of her school fees and rent on her apartment.   This seemed a bit odd to me for someone who is thirty-six.  She never really has any qualms about accepting it either.

Gabriella decides to get a tattoo of a phoenix rising from the ashes on her back, as a symbol that she won’t be kept down and heads to her brother Brian’s tattoo shop.  Gabby has a reputation within her family for being a hardass so Brian and Ghost both decline the tattooing duties, leaving the job to Ian Rhodes, a newish employee who’s transferred up from Dallas.  Ian is instantly taken with Gabby.  She’s beautiful and they talk a bit when he’s doing the outlining work later that day.  He knows she is way out of his league. She’s going to be a doctor, comes from wealthy family and he feels he’s really got nothing to offer a “woman like her”.   He had a shitty childhood where his stepdad abused his mother and himself and his mother never ever stood up for herself or, worse, for him.  He is a talented tatto artist but doesn’t really have a passion for the job – it’s more something he fell into. He doesn’t have much money and doesn’t see much in the way of future prospects for himself. Gabby is not a snob and never thinks of Ian that way, but Ian is very much weighed down by his own baggage.

When Gabby sees Ian later that day in a bar near the shop, she makes a beeline for him and vamps it up.  He’s definitely interested but a bit worried about doing the boss’s sister.  He doesn’t think Brian would take it well and he needs the job.  Because: reasons, Gabby and Ian do end up spending the night together.  Their chemistry is off the charts and both of them are pretty blown away by how good they are together.  The sex scenes were very well done – both of them do a bit of dirty talking and neither are shy about asking for what they want.  Ian likes to tease and taunt and drive Gabby wild just because he can but he always delivers.

Even though there is a lot of attraction between them, Ian doesn’t pursue it because he’s not good enough and Gabby knows she is going back to Dallas the end of the summer so there’s no point in getting attached.

This next bit might be a bit spoilerish, but I can’t work out how to say more about the story without giving it away.  If readers don’t want to know, look away now.

Despite practising safe sex, Gabby falls pregnant.  This brings Ian and Gabby together again as they try and sort out what they want to do.  I liked that Gabby told Ian first.  She didn’t expect anything from him but she gave him the opportunity to be involved if he wanted to. And pretty quickly, he realises he absolutely wants to.   Ian is very supportive of Gabby’s career and does not wish to stand in the way of her going back to Dallas to medical school and but he wants to be involved in any way she’ll let him.

Gabby and Ian don’t know each other very well and unfortunately, what was on the page didn’t add much to that.  I would have liked to have seen more of Gabby and Ian getting to know one another.  I certainly believed their chemistry but I wanted to see more of them talking to each other about stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, I was pretty happy to read the steamy sex but I wanted more of the non- dirty kind of talking too.   All the ingredients were there for a believable and hot relationship but, to continue the metaphor, they weren’t quite mixed enough for my liking.

Gabby’s parents don’t react well to Ian’s presence in her life and they threaten to withdraw their support of her if he moves in with her.  This is all kinds of not okay, not least of which because they jump to this erroneous conclusion that Ian will be a mooch. They make no attempt to get to know him or to trust in Brian’s judgement that Ian has a worthy character.  I was annoyed by the conflict here because it didn’t fit with what I knew of the Ross parents and partly I was annoyed because Gabby didn’t even try to come up with a different option than being supported by her parents – something which most of us cannot do at her age.

There are a lot of babies in this book.  All the Ross siblings are getting in on the baby action in one way or another and epilogue is a bit on the saccharine side.

The writing style is engaging and easy to read and I found myself devouring the book like a packet of biscuits (I’m trying to cut down on sugar at present so it’s a particular temptation). I most enjoyed the parts where Ian and Gabby were together. Their chemistry sizzled off the page.  But after finishing the story, I did realise that the book was lacking somewhat in “nutritional value”.  There wasn’t enough relationship development – we jumped from sex to baby to let’s give this relationship a go to I love you – HEA pretty fast.

It’s definitely a steamy and entertaining read and, if readers don’t mind a lot of babies (like really, a LOT of babies) in their stories, I think it will hit the spot for many.  I give Take Me On a B-.

regards,
Kaetrin

 

 

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REVIEW:  Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim

REVIEW: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim

confessions-of-a-prairie-bitch

I’ll start the confessions by admitting that I was never a major fan of “Little House on the Prairie.” Even at age 10 I knew sappy when I saw it and not ever having read any of the “Little House” books, I wasn’t invested in the series. That being said, I did watch my fair share of episodes since in that day and age, there weren’t the 500+ channel options of today. Without the snappy book title and loads of recommendations when Jane featured this in a Daily Deals, I would probably never have heard of or chosen to read this book but having finished it, I’m glad I did.

Arngrim starts at the beginning, laying out her parents’ lives and how they got into show business then proceeds to tell about her actor brother and then herself. She’s honest, painfully so at times, funny and a great raconteur. There are hilarious details of how she wowed ‘em with her snooty script reading during her audition for the part of Nellie, the inside scoop on the custom made curls she wore for the length of her time in “Walnut Grove,” her memories of the folks behind the scenes who really ran the production – learn what liquid lubed the actors and how seriously the stock was managed – and discover her take on her fellow actors. For the size cast they had, it is amazing how well they all got along and how they still consider themselves family almost 40 years later.

But don’t think that stories of Half Pint, Pa and the others are all that’s here. Alison bares her soul and her painful family past all without sounding strident or bitter though God knows she has a right to be. Readers who have drug, alcohol, rape or incest triggers are warned that parts of Alison’s story will hit home hard. Life might have been sweetness and light before the camera but the years leading up to her time on the series were awful for her.

The lessons learned on the set to speak up, look people in the eye and get outside her shy shell served her well during her school years of dodging LA gang members on the bus and sticking up for herself at home. The hijinks she got up to with cast member and good friend Melissa Gilbert are a riot to read about as they managed to make it through their teen years together.

By the age of 20 the series was behind her and I wondered what she’d done since then. Not much acting but what contributions she’s made to the lives of others. “Little House” ended just as the AIDS scourge was beginning to be seen in the US and Alison’s on-air “husband” Steve Tracey’s battle with the disease cued her next stage in life. For the next few years, she tirelessly dedicated herself to volunteering for the cause and using her Nellie notoriety to focus attention on the needs of the dying.

What happened then? Alison used Nellie one more time to turn the spotlight onto the dark of her past and work to overturn a law that, as explained in the book, is enough to make you weep. Alison had already had years of therapy by this time but by going public – on the “f*cking Larry King show!” as her father gleefully put it – she and others took on the California legislature and won a victory for the abused.

I finished the book in awe of Alison’s courage in speaking up for causes she believes in and for her willingness to open herself and her experiences to public scrutiny in order to help others as well as herself. I also appreciated her wit and humor and her ability to tell amusing anecdotes that put you there on the set of her show – all without talking herself up or others down. But she’s still honest and funny at the same time. Good memoires are an illuminating read – not just about past events but also about the teller as well and Alison’s book is well worth seeking out and spending time with.

~Jayne

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