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Tampa by Alissa NuttingTampa by Alissa Nutting. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She’s undeniably attractive. She drives a red Corvette with tinted windows. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed, and devoted to her.

But Celeste’s devotion lies elsewhere. She has a singular sexual obsession—fourteen-year-old boys. Celeste pursues her craving with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought; her sole purpose in becoming a teacher is to fulfill her passion and provide her access to her compulsion. As the novel opens, fall semester at Jefferson Jr. High is beginning.

In mere weeks, Celeste has chosen and lured the lusciously naive Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his teacher, and, most important, willing to accept Celeste’s terms for a secret relationship—car rides after school; rendezvous at Jack’s house while his single father works late; body-slamming encounters in Celeste’s empty classroom between periods.

Ever mindful of the danger—the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack’s father’s own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind—the hyperbolically insatiable Celeste bypasses each hurdle with swift thinking and shameless determination, even when the solutions involve greater misdeeds than the affair itself. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress driven by pure motivation. She deceives everyone, and cares nothing for anyone or anything but her own pleasure.

With crackling, rampantly unadulterated prose, Tampa is a grand, uncompromising, seriocomic examination of want and a scorching literary debut.

I remember this book because the cover once had a button on it but it looked like a vagina. (see!)

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Law Man by Kristen AshleyLaw Man by Kristen Ashley. $ .99

From the Jacket Copy:

Love is just around the corner . . .

Sweet, shy Mara Hanover is in love with her neighbor. For four years, she has secretly watched her dream man from afar. Handsome police detective Mitch Lawson is way out of her league. She’s a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and there’s no way a guy like Mitch would want anything to do with her. But when Mara has a leaky faucet that she can’t fix, it’s Mitch who comes to her rescue.

Mitch has been eyeing his beautiful neighbor for a long time. He jumps at the chance to help her, and soon their formerly platonic relationship gets very hot and heavy. But when Mara gets a disturbing phone call from her cousin’s kids, she gets pulled back into the life she’s tried so hard to leave behind. Can the hot law man convince Mara to let go of her past-and build a future with him?

140,000 words

This was not my favorite book in the mystery man series but you should buy it if you are a KA fan so your library is complete. Or are you all not anal about that like I am?

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Loving A Lost Lord By Mary Jo PutneyLoving a Lost Lord by Mary Jo Putney. $ 1.99 Kobo | Amazon

From the Jacket Copy:

In the first of a dazzling series, Mary Jo Putney introduces the Lost Lords–maverick childhood friends with a flair for defying convention. Each is about to discover the woman who is his perfect match–but perfection doesn’t come easily, even for the noble Duke of Ashton. . .
Battered by the sea, Adam remembers nothing of his past, his ducal rank, nor of the shipwreck that almost claimed his life. However, he’s delighted to hear that the golden-haired vision tending his wounds is his wife. Mariah’s name and face may not be familiar, but her touch, her warmth, feel deliciously right. . .
When Mariah Clarke prayed for a way to deter a bullying suitor, she didn’t imagine she’d find the answer washed ashore on a desolate beach. Convincing Adam that he is her husband is surprisingly easy. Resisting the temptation to act his wife, in every way, will prove anything but. And now a passion begun in fantasy has become dangerously real–and completely irresistible. . .

PW gave this a starred review. Amnesia and lies? What could possibly go wrong?

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Darkness Dawns By Dianne DuvallDarkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall. $ 1.99 Kobo | Kindle.

From the Jacket Copy:

In this dazzling, sensual novel, Dianne Duvall beckons readers into a world of vampires, immortals, and humans with extraordinary gifts. . .where passion can last forever, if you’re willing to pay the price. . .
Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control. . .
In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible–when it means forfeiting the world she’s always known, and the life he would do anything to protect. . .

Some people found this naturalistic, holistic, organic, non drinking, non bloody meat eating group of vampires a bit hard to take along with the really perfect heroine and the overuse of parantheticals.

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Carolyne
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 14:45:12

    Tampa original cover: Holy smokes. Just…No. My eyes… As for the seriocomic aspect, I don’t know that I could read a story like this that has any measure of the comic to it (for reasons). I get that there may be an American Psycho comparison in the writing style, but I’ve never encountered a serial killer to my knowledge. The Entertainment Weekly review called it “humorously dark” and “fun.” I think this is not for me.

    Loving a Lost Lord: On the other hand, I admit it, all my buttons (buttonholes?) are pushed by this set up. I hope it’s deliciously over the top. It can be as crazy as it wants to be. I have no idea what this says about me.

  2. cleo
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 14:56:10

    Wow. I really wish I could unsee the blurb for Tampa.

    Aleksandr Voinov’s Dark Soul I is free at Riptide’s site – he’s their featured author this month and several of his other books are on sale, including Incursion, a space opera novella that I really enjoyed (even if the ending was a bit abrupt).

  3. theo
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 15:05:17

    Loving a Lost Lord was everything I wanted. LOVED it!

    As for Tampa? No amount of ‘dark humor’ or satire or any starred review could get me to read what essentially is pedophilia. It’s just…no. Ugh. No.

  4. Monique
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 15:41:09

    OMG. The original Tampa cover ! What were they thinking !!!

  5. Darlynne
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 15:41:45

    @theo: Yeah, my thoughts exactly. Unless 14-year-old Jack turns out to be an undercover police officer posing as a student for the express purpose of apprehending pedophiles, there’s no way to redeem this story, for me. I keep thinking that if Jack was 14-year-old Joanne and Celeste was really predator Chuck, “seriocomic” is not one of the words we’d be using. Sorry.

  6. mari
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 16:18:28

    I’ve had all the same thoughts about Lolita by Nabakov, have never understood why its considered a classic.

  7. HM
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 16:30:06

    The lost lords bundle by mary jo putney is on sale at kobo for 17.39. And it includes “Loving a Lost Lord”. Works out to 3.50ish per book (5 books in all).

  8. theo
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 16:33:15

    @Darlynne I don’t think he’s undercover. Except of course, during their…ugh. I can’t even finish that.

    As to Lolita, I’ve never read it. I have no desire to read it. For pretty much the same reason I have no desire to read this.

  9. hapax
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 16:35:42

    @mari: Two reasons, really. One is Nabakov’s incandescently gorgeous prose; and more important, Humbert Humbert is the Platonic Ideal of the “unreliable narrator.” The reader is never meant to think of him as anything other than a self-deceiving monster, and much of the craft lies in the tension between his elaborate justifications and the reader’s horror.

    To judge by the reviews — I haven’t read it, and don’t intend to — TAMPA’s style is more, er, pedestrian (to put it charitably), and the protagonist is quite straightforward about what she is and does. While readers are not meant to *endorse* her predations, necessarily, they are expected to share her contempt at the hypocrisy and decadence of the society that allows them. (This latter, I gather, is where the so-called “comedy” and “satire” comes in.)

    Of course, while I consider LOLITA brilliant at what it does and I can admireNabakov’s artistry, I wouldn’t call it an “enjoyable” read by any means. The excerpts I have read from Nutting’s work don’t fill me with expectations that it will give me even that much of value. YMMV.

  10. Anna Richland
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 17:56:04

    I agree with Darlynne and frankly find it disturbing that any book about a teacher predator having sex with any 14 year old, regardless of genders of the parties, is featured here in any way other than a clear ICK, this is a CRIME. This isn’t a site that reviews things like Ann Rule and American Psycho. It’s a romance site.

    Sounds like Tampa is about a crime against children. I’ve had the misfortune in a previous legal career to have to verify photographic evidence involving minors, adults, and sex, and that is not something you can ever ever ever forget or get past once you’ve seen those types of photos of children. That was 12 years ago and I’m still feeling sick writing this. One of the children was in a room with an ugly couch, a lamp, the bottom edge of a framed picture, magazines – probably her own home – and what was happening to her — I’m sick, again, over that … any writer who thinks that is a subject for comedy, hasn’t seen that. Thankfully, in one sense, but in another – don’t glorify what you don’t know about. It’s like glorifying rape. (And I don’t have to have actually been raped to “get it” about not glorifying rape, so WHY is it okay to glorify sex with an underage boy? Writers should be able to “get it” that it’s wrong too.)

    It’s not cool for any adult to prey on any 14 year old. It leads to crap like the Montana ruling recently where the judge wouldn’t put the male teacher in jail b/c the girl must have asked for it. It wouldn’t be cool if that had happened to Mr. Richland when he was a kid or to my son. It would be a crime. It’s gross. Gross.

    Sorry to rant – I’m not a prude, but things like those pictures are a trigger even a dozen years later. I’ll go to the grave with those images in my mind still, but the children in them will go to theirs with their history. Anyone who thinks to make money off that is … unaware, perhaps is the best term I can use.

  11. Gloria
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 19:52:33

    Holy Hell Tampa… I cannot believe a thing like that got published. At least in Lolita we are supposed to have contempt for Humbert and see the lies he tells us and himself.. Sounds like not so with Tampa, too often pedophilia is treated as a joke, especially when the perpetrator is female and the victim is male, and it really, really isn’t. How the heck is that a romance novel? What’s it doing on a romance novel site? And calling it a satire? I’m stunned. I’m not looking up what the original cover was, I don’t want to see it.

    Thanks for the other books, I have a hard time saying no to vampires. Wish one of them would eat the main… character (can’t call her a heroine) of Tampa.

  12. Amy
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 22:26:20

    @Anna Richland: You said what I want to say, particularly the first paragraph.

  13. Robin/Janet
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 22:51:29

    It’s interesting that Tiffany Reisz’s book, The Siren, doesn’t seem to have gotten any backlash, even though the heroine sleeps with a teenage boy, as well as a Catholic priest:

  14. Kira
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 22:52:05

    I just want to say thanks for the heads up about Tampa. This is a book I’d been interested in reading which I wouldn’t pay full price for.

    Further more I come to this site for information on romance, yes, as well as literary fiction, and publishing at large. Just because a book’s narrator is objectionable, and even horrifying or disgusting, doesn’t mean that the book should be swept aside.

    From what I’ve heard about Tampa, the book clearly portrays the narrator as a sociopath. A podcast I follow (Bookrageous) spoke about it as a recent book club pick.

  15. Kaetrin
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 23:07:27

    I read Loving a Lost Lord when it was first released, very excited that MJP had gone away from the magical Regency books which weren’t to my taste. I’m a big fan of her earlier work – Shattered Rainbows is one of my favourite books. But LaLL was a disappointment all the way for me. It felt, to me, like the author was phoning it in – I had high hopes but alas…

  16. Sunita
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 23:36:22

    @Robin/Janet: Not to mention On the Island, which got lots of highly positive feedback and recommendations here and elsewhere and was picked up by a NY publisher. I guess a sugar-coated HEA romance between a 16-year-old boy and his 30-year-old female tutor is OK because they waited until he was 18 to have sex, but a satirical, seriocomic (not slapstick) work that depicts the older woman as a sociopathic predator isn’t allowed even to have its blurb and buy link on the deals page of this site.

  17. Robin/Janet
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 23:46:13

    @Sunita: All I know is that controversy wins again, because I just bought Tampa.

  18. Brigid
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 01:38:26

    I cannot un-see that cover! Holy Crap! Who decided that was a good cover?
    Is Putney known for her amnesia plots? I’ve noticed this a little bit.

  19. Joanne Renaud
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 03:40:32

    I’m not really into comic dark American Psycho type stories, so I think I’ll give TAMPA a pass.

    But LOVING A LOST LORD… amnesia! Seriously I love that trope so much. I have a huge TBR pile to plow through, but I’ll add that to it.

  20. SonomaLass
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 03:58:03

    “Or are you all not anal about that like I am?”

    Oh dear. I misread that as “all about anal like I am” and spit Mai Tai on my computer screen.

    I did buy the Putney; nothing will tempt me to buy Tampa. I can’t handle teacher-student relationships very often, and this would push all my NO WAY buttons, I think.

  21. Moriah Jovan
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 08:22:47

    @SonomaLass wins the internet.

  22. Deljah
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 16:44:50

    Perhaps a difference in the reaction to Tampa vs On the Island is due the age difference: with 14 being underage in most places and 16 at least being age of consent in most places? And of course the clearly predatory Tampa heroine who becomes a teacher expressly for access to children so that she can develop sexual relationships with underage boys. Pre-meditated child rape seems very different than the scenario in On the Island. I too was surprised to see Tampa featured here.

  23. Carolyne
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 18:35:50

    @Deljah: I’m glad to see it here if only because it opened discussion and some thought on the differences between it and Lolita, On the Island, and so on.

    I don’t have a philosophical objection to the book existing. But I’m distressed that it would in any way be described by reviewers as “fun” and know that I don’t want to get near a “fun” book on the subject.

  24. Anna Richland
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 10:55:58

    The difference b/w my reaction to Tampa and the other books is merely that I had not encountered the other books or their promotion. I stand by it: older adult, under age child = crime. And an especially gross, disturbing and evil one.

    There are people who have unfortunately had to confront the evidence of those types of crimes, through legal or investigative careers or through finding someone’s horrifying stash, and then there are people who haven’t seen the evidence (they are lucky people) and who often make the mistake of thinking it’s kinda-sorta-like regular porn, but you know, “wronger”.

    It’s not. It’s not like porn at all. It’s not like the kinkier, out-there books reviewed here.

    It’s like actually seeing a murdered body. Because for every single picture you look at, you know you are looking at a child who is being killed inside by someone who is close to them – a dad, a step-father, an uncle – it’s horrifying.

    So I stand by my belief that any writer who is doing anything that even comes close to making even a slightly sympathetic narrator out of a child molester, or anything at all funny, or anything “literary=high brow = worthy” about a child-molester hasn’t actually seen those kinds of photos, and just thinks it’s like “wrongish porn.” It’s so much worse than that.

    Part of me wants to make the author look at the hundreds of photos I had to look at and see what she thinks after that. So anyone out there who’s thinking of writing something “shocking” like this – go to a prosecutor’s office and talk with someone who has handled child porn prosecutions first, okay? Get the actual feelings of the real thing before you think “oooh, that’ s a nifty idea I’ve got.”

    So I guess that puts me in Carolyne’s camp – any book can exist. But the author gets this one wrong through lack of research, in my opinion. There’s no fun in child molestation. And no romance whatsoever.

  25. Sunita
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 12:37:18

    If anyone still reading this comment thread is interested in Nutting’s own observations on why and how she chose to write about such a problematic topic and characters, Roxane Gay has a very interesting interview with her in the Daily Beast.

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