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REVIEW:  Drawn Together by Lauren Dane

REVIEW: Drawn Together by Lauren Dane

Dear Ms. Dane:

I am an unabashed fan of your Brown Family series. In fact, Brody Brown (hero of Come Undone) is in my top 10 romance heroes of all time. So, obviously, I was thrilled when I found out that you were going to write a book for Raven Smith, who is a bit of a villain in past Brown family books, particularly Brody’s book.

Drawn Together by Lauren DaneRaven Smith is an incredibly talented tattoo artist. She’s also a free spirit, one who is tied to no one and nothing. Except, not really. While she fled a horrible childhood and an abusive family, she’s built a family among the Brown’s. She’s very close to her best friend, Erin Brown, Brody’s younger sister, and is particularly attached to Erin’s son, Alexander. Through Erin, she’s built close relationships with Elise, Brody’s wife, as well as Gillian, Adrien, the youngest Brown’s wife. She adores their children and wants desperately to be part of their lives. So she finds herself in Seattle and working at Brody’s tattoo parlor often. While she will leave town for short periods of time, she can no longer bear to be away from her family for too long.

One night at an event, she meets Jonah Warner. Jonah is sex on a stick. He’s hot, successful, smart and she’s drawn to him like a moth to a flame. She gathers immediately that Jacob is not a man who likes to be told no. And “no” is practically Raven’s favorite word — she’s contrary by nature. But when he approaches her about the possibility of her designing a tattoo for his back, she agrees to meet him at his house for drinks, and to talk about the design. She realizes even then that the attraction is incendiary and they’ll most likely end up in bed.

Jonah knows from the moment he meets her that he wants Raven. He’s captivated by her beauty, but also by the idea that she’s survived something. He wants to protect her and make her life better. When Raven arrives at his house to discuss the design, sure enough, they end up in bed. And engage in a D/s encounter that is mindblowing for both of them. For Jonah, he’s never had a woman gift him with her submission like Raven did. For Raven, the shock of submitting to Jonah and how thoroughly she enjoyed it is incredibly moving. She’s played around the edges of D/s before, but never given herself over to a man the way she did to Jonah.

But she worries. Jonah is an attorney, upstanding and proper. He has a college aged daughter, and a law practice and a family that is very concerned with image. Raven is what Erin calls, “Slightly Feral”. She says whatever comes to mind. She’s not afraid to lose her temper, she’s been with both men and women and she’s certainly not afraid to say everything that is on her mind. And she damn sure never commits to anyone. It’s why she and Brody never worked out — he wanted more than she could give him. And she has no intention of entering into that kind of a commitment with Jonah. But her attraction to him and the connection she feels with him is compelling her to consider the idea. Jonah, being pushy, asks Raven to be with only him for the time that they are together. While Raven is reluctant and tells him over and over she’s not able to do that, she actually IS doing it. And they build a beautiful relationship of love and respect and eventually, love.

I love this series because it focuses exclusively on the couple building their relationship. While each book has obstacles, they mostly focus on the couple and their relationship and their future together. The book itself has very little conflict in it. There is an occasional disagreement between Jonah and Raven, and Raven does have a difficult past that she hasn’t really dealt with. But the relationship is the absolute focus of the book. I realize for some readers that this might not be enough. But for me, the slow build of the relationship and the mutual respect that the characters have for each other was really beautiful to read. In fact, I’ve re-read the book several times since I read it the first time. As always, the sex scenes are plentiful and creative and build the connection between the characters at a steady pace. This is, other than Come Undone, my favorite installment of the series. It does stand alone, but I’d encourage readers to read the entire series, if you haven’t. It’s a really beautifully written series full of likeable heroines and incredibly strong heroes. My grade for Drawn Together is an A-.

Kind regards,

Kati

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REVIEW:  The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly

REVIEW: The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann...

The year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf all in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents on the trail of a local bootlegger, they unexpectedly find an abandoned baby boy at a crime scene.

An orphan raised by nuns, Ingersoll is determined to find the infant a home, a search that leads him to Dixie Clay Holliver. A lonely woman married too young to a charming and sometimes violent philanderer, Dixie Clay has lost her only child to illness and is powerless to resist this second chance at motherhood. From the moment they meet, Ingersoll and Dixie Clay are drawn to each other. He has no idea that she’s the best bootlegger in the county and may be connected to the missing agents. And while he seems kind and gentle, Dixie Clay knows he is the enemy and must not be trusted.

Then a deadly new peril arises, endangering them all. A saboteur, hired by rich New Orleans bankers eager to protect their city, is planning to dynamite the levee and flood Hobnob, where the river bends precariously. Now, with time running out, Ingersoll, Ham, and Dixie Clay must make desperate choices, choices that will radically transform their lives-if they survive.

Hot Coffee, MS and Toad Suck, AR – those town names make Hobnob practically normal, don’t they? Promise me something different in a blurb and I’m Pavlov’s dog in a heartbeat. So when I read the set up and the time frame of this novel I knew I had to try it.

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann FennellyThe writing is fairly smoothly knit together for two people having a hand in it. Kind of reminds me of the old Sergeann Golon Angelique novels in that way. I couldn’t really tell where one person’s input ended and another began. The writing style might drive some people nuts with short and/or incomplete sentences but since I write that way myself, it didn’t bother me.

1927 Mississippi comes alive in all its insular, redneck, rural bootlegging glory. I say this as a daughter of the South so please don’t think I’m being snooty. There are good things about it and some awful aspects that rear up and smack you. The mind frame of the people there is what I’d expect so be prepared for words and expressions not used in polite company anymore. But for these people to have spoken and thought otherwise would also be wrong and papering over the ugliness of it.

I love the fact that Dixie Clay is the bootlegger and also that she makes the best illegal whiskey that Ham and Ingersoll, along with most folks around Hobnob, have ever tasted. Dixie Clay is an artiste of whiskey. Meanwhile Ingersoll is among the best agents, second only to Ham Johnson as Ham will no doubt expansively tell you, in the business of busting illegal hootch production. He and Ham are unbribable and determined to find out what happened to the missing agents and to stop anyone from trying to breech the levee holding back the angry, flooding Mississippi River.

The romance is a slow and gentle falling in love. Ingersoll thinks that someone as pretty and smart as Dixie Clay would never have fallen for him without first having her romantic dreams soured by Jesse. He’s the type, thinks Dixie Clay, who gets more handsome as the years go by and who she just knew would come after her once the river burst over the levee and the world was flooded. They show their love by what they do and how they act rather than with fancy phrases.

I enjoyed stepping back in time to when booze was illegal, women wore hats and gloves, men had just recently fought in the Great War and automobiles were still a bit of a novelty in the rural South. Dixie Clay and Tom started the book resigned to lives of quiet, unfulfilled dreams but end up with a family and a future and I loved watching them get there. B+

~Jayne

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