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REVIEW:  His Roommate’s Pleasure by Lana McGregor

REVIEW: His Roommate’s Pleasure by Lana McGregor

Dear Ms. McGregor,

His Roommate’s Pleasure caught me with the blurb. The college setting is something that I’ve been wanting to read more of in romance because of the New Adult label; it’s something that I get particularly excited about with non-heterosexual romance because of the lack of popular LGBTQ New Adult books. While your book is more straight-up erotic romance than New Adult, the setting and the conflict matches a lot of heterosexual New Adult romances, and I think it does a good job of doing what those books also attempt to do: showing the exploration of a more complex sexual relationship. The trouble is that the novella feels more like an attempt at writing a Beginner’s Guide to BDSM.

His Roommate's Pleasure by Lana McGregorThe gist of it is that Adam and Josh have been roommates at university for some time. Adam was considered a nerd in high school for being the out-and-proud gay kid. Josh, who went to a different high school, was the obvious jock. Their lives in college aren’t that much different. Adam studies a lot and hangs out with two very good friends; Josh hangs out with guys on his sports teams, playing video games together and going to keggers like it’s their last day to live. They’ve never been close roommates, but they are comfortable enough with each other to respect boundaries. That is until Adam stumbles across something on Josh’s computer during an emergency essay submission.

Josh is in the closet. One wrong click and Adam opens that closet door wide open, and there are leather collars dangling from the clothes hangers. Picture after picture on Josh’s computer shows different levels of BDSM sex. Guys are tied up, humiliated, collared and forced to beg for sex. It’s not something that Adam, a virgin who’s only ever kissed one guy before, has ever researched or considered before. It turns him on just as Josh comes in the room, paving the way for a really awkward talk about Josh’s sexual preferences.

Awkwardness seems to melt into eroticism as Josh admits that he’s gay and that BDSM turns him on. Adam’s own excitement over the idea of submitting ignites something in Josh that has him asking if Adam would like to explore some of the things in the photographs. Slowly; not as if they are dating, but just to explore a mutual sexual interest. At the first command, Adam finds himself kneeling next to Josh and wanting to be the guy wearing the blindfold and the collar. His college roommate survey never asked the question if he was dominant or submissive – now, Adam finds himself well-matched. When Josh begins to seem less of a fuck buddy and more of a boyfriend, Adam can’t help but worry that things will take a turn for the worse even as their sex lives get hotter and hotter.

My biggest issue with the beginning was the way that Adam accidentally “clicked” into Josh’s porn folder. It was described in a vague manner, and most teenage boys who are afraid of coming out hide their porn folders reasonably well, especially since they are of the generation to actually know how to hide things. Assuming that Josh wasn’t paranoid enough to password his file, he would have at least hidden it in such a way that accidental clicking probably wouldn’t do much for it. While it wouldn’t have given the best impression of Adam, I would have preferred that Adam snooped through Josh’s files after. He could have even discovered porn in Josh’s browsing history or bookmarks. It just rung false to me when it felt like there were too many reasons why something so accidental would have been improbable.

Out of the two roommates, Adam is more along the lines of a focus character. His impressions of jocks from high school have him detesting those kinds of people, yet he realizes that Josh is a complex individual and find his dominance sexually stimulating. I found that Adam’s character gave up his trust to Josh very easily; it felt like there wasn’t a lot of resistance or concern over that aspect of the D/s relationship between them. Even if it’s sexual and both people consent, there’s a lot of psychological reasoning as to why someone would want to give up that control, and I didn’t really get a sense as to why Adam felt the need to do that. Was it because of his being bullied? Was it because he enjoyed his stereotypical “nerd” role to some degree? That part of Adam’s character never felt explained to me, and I had trouble picturing Adam being so gung-ho about his desire to be the submissive as a result of it.

Josh is kind of in the same boat. We learn less about him save for the fact that he likes sports and has a soft, slightly nerd-y side with his choice of favorite films. Aside from that, we learn about him being in the closet and being into a dominant in sex. Both he and Adam have very little sexual experience, so the engine running their relationship for a majority of the book is their discovery of this D/s sexual relationship. It’s very slow going – no anal penetration until the end of the novella – but does signify some degree of increasing trust and affection between the two boys. Yet, we are still met with a character that doesn’t get delved into a lot psychologically. I never felt like I knew a lot about what made Josh tick in terms of his kink, and, while kinky sex doesn’t need to be an everyday occurrence, it’s obvious that these two characters find a lot of solace in the D/s sexual relationship. The sex felt very cut-and-dry in its progression because of the lack of emotional depth of the characters’ sexual psyches.

There were some aspects of this story that really did work for me. McGregor’s side characters were very realistic. I could believe the varied responses from Josh’s friends RE: his sexuality, yet I was simultaneously troubled by how Josh ignored Adam’s discomfort with jocks due to his past bullying experiences. Yes, not every jock is a bully, but several of Josh’s friends displayed problematic behavior, hence why Josh was afraid to come out to them. I did appreciate one character, Nate, who is actually likable because he respects women and gay people despite his ingrained societal preconceptions. That part of the story was well-addressed. I also enjoyed Adam’s two close friends – both PoC characters that I would have liked to read more about.

This story got a lot of criticism from me, but I didn’t find it bad in theory. It would serve as a very solid introduction to BDSM sex for a reader who may not be familiar with it. It deals with paddling, spanking, and a few other kinks that aren’t too intense. Amateur BDSM. Josh also repeatedly asks Adam to make sure he has permission to do things, which I appreciated, although I would have liked more concentration on the characters’ levels of comfort and how that negotiation was a big part of starting out a BDSM relationship. It’s really all the book is, however, and I don’t think there’s enough depth in the characters or their sexual encounters to really make me believe that this stands out in a sea of books attempting to cover BDSM, though it may be just the thing for readers who like the BDSM-lite books but want to see some different sexualities within them. My grade on this is a C.

All my best,

John

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REVIEWS: The Loving Edge Series by Roni Loren

REVIEWS: The Loving Edge Series by Roni Loren

CIY  Crash Into You by Roni Loren

I was casting around for something to read, and Jane sent me the other two books in the series, Melt Into You and Fall Into You. I’m actually glad that I read them first, as I think this entry in your The Loving Edge series is the weakest. Brynn LeBreck’s sister has gone missing, and the only way that she can find her is to work with Reid Jamison, the one man who broke her heart to infiltrate The Ranch, an exclusive club where singles or couples can practice BDSM. But will Brynn be able to allow Reid, who hurt her so badly have that D/s relationship with her again? Or can she be strictly business with him? I found Brynn to be extremely wishy-washy and Reid to exert his dominance via alternating Asshat and Sweet guy tendencies. However, the sex scenes were really interesting, and I enjoyed the setting of The Ranch set-up and really enjoyed going back and meeting characters I met in other books. Final grade: C-

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MIYMelt Into You by Roni Loren

This was the first of The Loving Edge series that I read. Evan Kennedy and Jace Austin lived together when they were teenagers while Evan was fostering at Jace’s home. The four year age difference didn’t seem to mitigate their mutual attraction. Evan had always been troubled, but Jace was the only thing that kept her from falling into the depressing and destructive tendencies she had. But after giving in to their mutual attraction one night, and being caught by Jace’s father, Evan flees, and Jace never sees her again. That is, until he meets her at a couple’s workshop where he’s demonstrating sex toys from his shop, Wicked. Their attraction is immediate and incendiary. There’s only one problem: Evan is engaged to someone else and that someone else is who Jace needs to convince to endorse his shop. What Jace doesn’t know is that Evan is acting as a beard for her fiance, a well known radio talk show host who counsels heterosexual couples. When her fiance decides she’s a little more tightly strung than she should be, he buys her a three-month membership to The Ranch hoping that some no-strings attached sex will help her calm down. Little does he know, Jace is a Master at The Ranch, as is his best friend, Andre. Soon Evan is embarking on an extremely hot menage a trois with the men, letting them Dominate her and doing things she’s only fantasized about. As their relationship deepens, the men want Evan to leave her loveless relationship and be with them forever. But will she let go the only stability she’s ever had for what she thinks is a really hot fling?

I really liked this one. Jace and Andre are quintessential Caregiving Alphas. They are supportive, dominant and amazing in the bed. While Jace, in particular, has his bonehead moments, the reader never doubts how much he loves Evan. You also do a nice job of building the connection between Andre. So much so that I totally bought their connection, even though there was not as much groundwork laid for them. Evan was a great combination of strong and vulnerable, and I really liked how strong she was sexually. Final grade: B

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FIYFall into You by Roni Loren

Charli Beaumonde has a problem. She keeps getting passed over for jobs at the television station where she works. The boss says it’s because she’s not “girly” enough. The boss is also an ex-boyfriend who she dated before she worked there. But she has a solution, she’s chasing down a HUGE story that will help her get the credibility she needs as a reporter to get that coveted job. But when an attempt is made on her life on a rural road, she ends up in the home of Grant Waters, owner of the BDSM resort, The Ranch. Grant served in the military with Charli’s brother and feels responsible for keeping Charli safe. Not to mention his attraction to her. But he knows his lifestyle, which would require absolute submission from her is not a road he should go down. When Charli stumbles into a training session for submissives, though, Grant finds that he can’t resist taking her on. As they begin Charli’s training, Grant realizes not only is the a perfect sub, but she’s the perfect woman for him. This is easily my favorite of the series, thus far. Charli is submissive, but she’s also mouthy and full of attitude. She’s naturally inquisitive, and thus questions everything, which gets her into hot water with Grant on a regular basis. The sex scenes between the two are incendiary and their connection and the struggles that they have were completely believable. Final grade: B+

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