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REVIEW:  Did You Miss Me? by Karen Rose

REVIEW: Did You Miss Me? by Karen Rose

Dear Ms. Rose:

In “Did You Miss Me?” part of the reason the romance works is because the characters have had unrequited feelings for each other prior to the start of the book.  The romance in the story basically consists of coming to an understanding of those feelings so that the romance can swim underneath the layer of suspense.  It works, but the suspense portion is the primary driver of the story.  The problem with the romance that had developed previously was that I could not recall the previous appearances of Joe and Daphne and felt like I had missed some of the romance already in progress.  Maybe I needed a “story so far” recap at the beginning.

Did You Miss Me coverJoseph Carter lost his wife on his honeymoon and for ten years he’s been dead until the moment than he spied Daphne Montgomery, assistant State’s Attorney. He watched her, quietly befriending her, and agreeing to a position that would allow him to be more in and around Baltimore. He did not, however, declare his feelings, ask her out or in any way convey to her that he was interested in her.  Now he believes that she is dating Baltimore private investigator, Clay Maynard.

When Daphne’s son is kidnapped and a cop aka bodyguard is killed, Joseph gets to play hero to Daphne. During the investigation, his feelings for Daphne are revealed.

I struggled in the beginning to keep track of everyone. There was a huge cast of characters. Daphne had a 20 year old son. The son had a girlfriend. The girlfriend had a sister. Daphne had a mother and a nanny. She also had two male father figures, one a former bodyguard of hers and another horse trainer. There is Clay Maynard, the PI, and his motley crew along with his own romantic interest. We also have Daphne’s boss, Grayson and his fiance, and so forth.

Because of the large cast of characters, it was difficult to keep track of everyone. Further, there are multiple points of view: Ford, the son; Daphne; Joseph; Clay; and the villain.  Further, Daphne was one of those characters whom couldn’t be tortured enough. Not only is she the subject of some villain’s evil focus, but her past is littered with tragedy including seeing a cousin raped, enduring a kidnapping, having her son kidnapped, and so forth.

While we know from the beginning there is a deep game being played by the villain, there was an overwhelming number of events taking place. The villain was so smart and savvy, but at one point he just kind of allows a core bit of his plan to be eroded. I thought the whodonit portion was well disguised and I vacillated back and forth as to who was the unnamed villain.   It kind of became crazed at the end and I felt like Daphne’s worst fear was never addressed.

I noticed some of the reviews complained about the overly sexual nature of the book but nothing of the sort registered for me.  I thought the romance was understated and given that Daphne’s son was kidnapped, any overt romance would have registered as discomfiting.  I thought the sex scenes that were included were tasteful and represented a level of comfort rather than crazy passion.

C+

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW: Room at the Top by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow

REVIEW: Room at the Top by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow

Dear Ms. Davitt and Ms. Snow:

I thoroughly enjoy your books. So I was thrilled when I saw this one and I wasn’t disappointed when I read it. You have such consistently good writing, wonderful characters, and fabulous representations of BDSM.

Room at the Top by Jane Davitt and Alexa SnowAustin and Jay are a committed couple, completely, madly, deeply in love with each other…and both submissives. Their sex life is strong and they enjoy each other, but they both crave giving up control to someone else. They can’t dom each other — they’ve tried — so they need a top who’s not going to try to insert himself sexually into their relationship. They had a top who needed the release of BDSM but was still hung up on his partner who had been killed in a car accident. But he moved away. The story opens with them scening with another top who just doesn’t get it and not only forces Jay to safeword, but then tries to ignore the safeword. Things get a little tense with Jay and Austin after this disaster, because they’re both desperate for a good session with a competent top but don’t know where to start. A few days later, in a conversation with their former top, he suggests a straight dom he knows. They meet Liam, get along well, and they start to scene with him once a week. Until they all start to fall in lust and in love (dun dun DUN!).

I ranted recently on Twitter about the Gay For You trope and how annoying and insulting I find it. And technically, I guess, this book was also Gay For You, but it totally didn’t feel that way as I was reading it. I guess for me, Gay For You has the straight guy refusing to admit any sort of sexual preference for men, except for his partner. Liam admits right from the beginning that he prefers to top men, but has only ever had sex with women. So his sexual desire for Jay and Austin freaks him out a bit, it does so more because he promised them both that he would never try to insert himself into their sexual relationship, less because he’s worried about desiring men (although there’s a bit of that too).

Things happen in this book that are not sex (Jay and Austin’s house gets flooded by a broken water heater, so they live with Liam for a few weeks; Austin’s sister has fits of being a ragingly entitled teenager), but most of the book is made up of their scenes with Liam. Not every one, by any means, but important turning points. These scenes are brilliantly crafted, reveal the characters to the extent that they can talk without a speech tag (not that they do) and this reader knew exactly who said what, and delve into the psychology of BDSM. As in some of your other books, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism overlap in their play. They’re very formal D/s situations, but it’s also fabulous to see two such different types of submission and how Liam deals with both of them.

I had two issues: the stuff about Austin’s sister’s teenage melodrama was just utterly pointless. I mean, it wasn’t, I could see how it fit into the character and narrative arcs, but it took up too much space, went on way too long, and could have been replaced with something way less annoying. I’m utterly OCD about reading every word in a book, so I didn’t skip the scenes about Austin’s sister, but I totally wished I could have. I certainly wouldn’t have missed anything at all.

The second issue was a timing thing at the very very end, so I’ll spoiler cover it.

[spoiler]Liam gets back together with Austin and Jay, has a night with them, then admits in the morning that he’d had another job offer that would take him far away but had turned it down because of them…before he’d got back together with them. This would be fine, except we were IN his point of view for all of the reconciliation and there was no hint of this offer at all. It just seemed thrown in during the last scene as something to affect Austin, rather than as something that really happened to Liam.[/spoiler]

Overall, though, I really loved this book. The sex was hot and entirely UNgratuitous. The relationships were strong and grew over the book. There was no barrier, per se, that the men had to overcome; rather, they had to accept the evolving nature of their relationship without freaking out.

Grade: B+

Best regards,
-Sarah

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