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REVIEW:  All He Wants | All He Needs by C. C. Gibbs

REVIEW: All He Wants | All He Needs by C....

All He Wants Gibbs

Dear Ms. Gibbs:

The All or Nothing trilogy (or in the UK Knight trilogy) is a series of erotic romance stories that feature the same couple–Katherine Hart and Dominic Knight.  Both stories end with some cliffhanger although the first is “worse” than the second. I’m reviewing the stories together but the third doesn’t come out until Sept. 2014 even though it is available in the UK already.  (Not to mention the UK prices are a lot better than the US prices)

CC Gibbs is the pen name for Susan Johnson and I’m not revealing any secret. It’s posted on the website.  And because I love Susan Johnson books (like Pure Sin, Outlaw, the Braddock-Black series), I wanted to read these. Not only did I want to read this series but I wanted to love it.

Katherine Hart is hired by billionaire businessman Dominic Knight to trace twenty million dollars. At first she almost walks away from the job when she overhears Dominic cursing to someone on the phone. She doesn’t think she wants to work with someone like that but Dominic convinces her to stay on.

For the most part, books 1 and 2 present a classic Susan Johnson dynamic. Uber wealthy playboy hero sets eyes on a successful woman and has to have her.  He pursues her assiduously and she resists, knowing that he is bad for her and that she doesn’t want to become another notch on his bedpost. They fall into bed and know from the strength of their lust and orgasms that the other is different.

In this series, Dominic plays at being dominant in the bedroom and sadly this is where the book falters.  Readers have been fully exposed to the BDSM lifestyle in various books, not the least of which is 50 Shades.  Dominic basically just likes to order Katherine around and worse, the lines of consent are super clear here. I know we are supposed to understand that this turns her on but we don’t always see it.

“And if you do as you’re told, I’ll screw the hell out of you because that’s what you want, isn’t it?” He could see the fury in her eyes, but he forced her to answer. “That’s what you came here for, right?”

Silence, incandescent with rage. He waited because she was flushed and trembling and he had what she wanted—a hard dick.

“Yes,” she finally whispered.

Gibbs, C.C. (2013-07-09T05:00:00+00:00). All He Wants (All or Nothing) (Kindle Locations 2736-2739). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I mean, yes, she wants it but still. I wasn’t always comfortable. Additionally I found the sex to be rather tame. While the text tells us that he has an extensive repertoire, we actually only see the two of them engaged in a little oral and mostly the missionary position.  But beyond the eroticisim (or lack thereof) is the insane head hopping.

“So I’ve been told. Do you have family?” He preferred employees with a casual attachment to family. They were more likely to work the long hours demanded of them.

“You can’t ask that,” she flatly said.

His smile was mocking. “Are you going to sue me?”

“I won’t have to if I’m not working for you.”

His jaw clenched. “You can be a real bitch. Sue me for that too if you want. Now, could we stop playing games? I won’t ask you any personal questions, other than will you accept my job offer?” Leaning back in his chair, he unbuttoned his suit coat, shot his cuffs, waited for her reply.

She couldn’t help but notice his hard flat stomach under his white custom shirt. And the fact that he didn’t wear cuff links. She liked that. She’d always viewed cuff links as pretentious. Only an observation, the little voice inside her head pointed out innocently. No one’s trying to persuade you of anything.

Gibbs, C.C. (2013-07-09T05:00:00+00:00). All He Wants (All or Nothing) (Kindle Locations 136-144). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Finally, for me, a long time reader, the entire plotline and conflict is really predictable. Dominic is very jealous of the way that Katherine gets so easily turned on and that she may have had sex before him, even though one part of him acknowledges that his behavior is unreasonable. Katherine, in turn, is peeved about Dominic’s licentiousness.  There is shopping, a run in with his mother, and monetary excesses that actual show Dominic’s wealth.

The first book, All He Wants, ends in a major cliffhanger and the second one, All He Needs, does as well but with the couple together.

If you like 50 Shades and don’t mind a domineering arsehole, this may be entertaining.  I’ll read Book 3 someday but it’s probably good I’ll have to wait months by then anything I didn’t like about these two books, I’ll have forgotten.  It’s hard to grade these two because I’m sure part of my problem is the long history I have with Susan Johnson books, some that I’ve read and re-read multiple times.  A new reader might not be perturbed by the repetitiveness but the head hopping? That’s kind of inexcusable. C

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Addicted to You by Becca Ritchie and Krista Ritchie

REVIEW: Addicted to You by Becca Ritchie and Krista Ritchie

addicted to youDear Mss. Ritchie:

I picked this book up because the heroine had an extremely unusual issue: sex addiction. You don’t see that every day, and I was curious as to how it would be handled, especially in a New Adult novel. I’m not actually sure I believe in sex addiction as a real thing (medical professionals still seem to be divided on the issue, with some seeing it as a subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder). I certainly believe that there are people who use sex as a crutch and in an unhealthy way. To encounter the problem in a heroine rather than a hero (where it’s often unacknowledged as a problem and instead treated as tacit evidence of his masculinity) was intriguing.

The book opens with Lily Calloway waking up in a frat house after a one-night stand. She tries to sneak out but is humiliatingly caught by some frat brothers; she’s eventually rescued by Loren Hale and a chauffeured ride back to their apartment. Lily and Loren are best friends of a sort; perhaps co-conspirators would be a better term. They grew up together and have been in a fake relationship for the past several years, a relationship meant to cover up their respective addictions: hers to sex and his to alcohol.

The first half of the story is pretty simple and even a bit repetitive. Lily trolls for sex, Loren gets drunk, Loren gets flirtatious with Lily and she wonders if he wants their fake relationship to become real (they slept together once long ago). We do learn a little about Lily’s family, but other than that, not a lot happens until almost the halfway mark. I didn’t mind the lack of action that much, but that may be because I was focused on other issues I had with the book.

Lily and Loren are both rich kids (like, really, really rich) who attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Neither of them have friends or attachments other than to each other (and Lily to her family, though she avoids them as much as possible). Whether this isolation is a by-product of their addictions or both are symptoms of a larger problem wasn’t clear to me.

I spent a lot of the book confused as to why Lily was the way she was; I wasn’t sure if there would ever be an explanation. Was it based on trauma or sexual abuse or family issues? Her family seemed nice enough. Was it just an inherent illness? The explanation itself wasn’t so important to me – when it comes it’s sufficient – but her behavior is so beyond the bounds of normal that I felt there was some suspense as to the reason for it that the authors really didn’t intend for there to be. In other words, I wish it had been spelled out earlier so I could get over wondering what the hell was wrong with her.

Loren was a little easier to understand – he has an abusive father and absent mother, and alcohol addiction is more familiar and….normal, in my view, I guess? (Though Loren takes it to new and not always believable heights.) There are indications late in the book that his father is a heavy drinker as well, so I pretty much got Loren’s addiction.

I found Addicted to You rather depressing, because I found Lily and Loren and the nature of their addictions depressing. Alcoholism is something I have some familiarity with, and though it’s not a subject I avoid necessarily, seeing someone so young so deep in addiction was unpleasant. As for the sex addiction…I’ve always found sexual compulsion to be, not to put too fine a point on it, yucky. I have limited tolerance for obsessive behavior in general, and there is something about obsessive sexual behavior that honestly grosses me out. I’m not sure if that response arises from prudishness or something else. It wasn’t like I was morally judging Lily, but if I’m honest there were times when she disgusted me.

(You may be wondering why I picked up the book in the first place, given my aversion, and that’s a good question. I’m not sure – I guess maybe I was expecting a slightly less harsh and seedy depiction. Which is totally on me; I don’t fault the authors for making grim addictions seem grim.)

However, I wasn’t confident that the depiction of either addiction was very accurate. Again, I know a bit more about alcoholism, and what struck me was that Loren was described at least once (maybe a couple of times) as a “functional alcoholic.” He somehow manages to hide his drinking from the people around them – mostly his father and Lily’s family. But he doesn’t really maintain relationships (other than with Lily), doesn’t work or have a social life, and it turns out he’s not doing as well in school as he leads Lily to believe. Actually, neither of them are doing that well, which made me wonder how they’ve made to their junior years, since there’s no indication that their patterns of behavior – missing class, blowing off  studying to feed their addictions –  is any different than it always was.

I think of “functional alcoholic” as one who compartmentalizes their drinking to some degree – for instance, goes to work five days a week and then spends the entire weekend blotto. The thing about Loren is that he is ALWAYS drinking. From the time he wakes up in the morning to the time he passes out at night, he is drunk. If he has coffee, there is liqueur in it. If he’s drinking juice, there is vodka in it. I have no experience with the type of alcoholic who is drunk 24/7 and find it hard to believe that if such alcoholics exist (I guess they might) that they are remotely “functional.” People are going to KNOW – you’re not going to be able to cover up the smell of alcohol emanating from you with showers, cologne and mints, as Loren supposedly does. That’s just not credible to me.

Further, the potency of Loren’s addiction seems to fit better with someone a lot older and honestly someone who is probably not going to last much longer. Anyone with an addiction that must be fed AT ALL TIMES is pretty much at the end of their rope, basically a mess, in danger of dying at any moment (in Loren’s case, I would think, from alcohol poisoning or asphyxiation from vomiting while comatose), and incapable of keeping their addiction a secret. I would have found the story more believable if Loren’s drinking was toned down quite a bit.

Similarly, Lily is addicted to sex to the point where she does very rash things, including obsessive viewing of porn, sex in public restrooms, and sex with strangers. In fact, Lily’s sex is pretty much *all* with strangers, since she’s a one-time-only kind of gal. Which didn’t quite make sense to me – if sex was her goal, why write off a guy after one time? It seems like she’s ashamed and embarrassed and can’t face the men afterward. Honestly, her attitudes towards sex and her addiction were confusing to me, and I wasn’t sure how much of it to attribute to her being a first person narrator and therefore somewhat unreliable. At one point she says that she “loves sex”, but that’s not how it seems. It seems more like an obsessive need that once sated leaves shame and self-disgust in its wake (I seriously got sick of her wailing, “what is wrong with me?!” after an episode of ill-advised screwing). Her behavior did seem to fit in with the OCD model of sex addiction, though.

It’s strange to say about a book that focuses so much on an ostensibly romantic relationship, but Addicted to You is not remotely romantic. Loren and Lily’s relationship is the epitome, the absolute dictionary definition, of “co-dependent.” Each selfishly enables the other’s unhealthy urges in order to protect their own from discovery and censure. They are using each other so hardcore that it’s hard to see the love that supposedly exists between them. They are aware that they enable each other but until a character introduced later in the book steps in to try to stop Loren’s drinking, it doesn’t even seem to occur to them to change. Lily’s perspective (which I felt did ring true) was that it wasn’t possible, for either of them, which I’m guessing is something addicts tell themselves in order to not have to even try.

Ultimately, this was another hard-to-grade book for me. On the one hand, it wasn’t a very pleasant read; the characters weren’t likable and the prose was just adequate. (There were a number of copy-editing errors,including the use of “taught” for “taut” at least three or four times, and some odd/simply wrong word choices. I could attribute this to it being a review copy, but since I downloaded it months after the actual publication date, I’m wondering if the mistakes were in the finished product as well.)

On the other hand, the book got progressively more involving towards the end, in part because of the introduction of a few characters who shook up the dynamic. I finished this book in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep (something I almost never do), and immediately downloaded book 1.5, Ricochet. I actually had a bit of buyer’s remorse in the morning, when I did some checking around on the web and realized that Ricochet was not actually the resolution of Lily and Lo’s story, as I had assumed; there are actually at least two more books in the series. I’m really not sure I want to read that much more about these people; I’ll see how I feel after Ricochet.

So, grade? I guess a C+, which is a reflection of the good (interesting premise, compelling ending) averaging out with the bad (depressing storyline, not-great writing, possibly shaky depiction of addiction).

Best regards,

Jennie

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