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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:  Caught Up in You by Roni Loren

REVIEW: Caught Up in You by Roni Loren

Dear Ms. Loren:

I’ve really enjoyed your Loving on the Edge erotic romance series. For the most part, it’s quite light BDSM, and it features strong heroes and heroine who are easily liked.

CUIYKelsey LeBrock is a pastry chef. Or, she wants to be. To achieve this goal, she works at a local diner where the owner lets her bake and serve her creations, and she waits tables. The highlight of every day is when Wyatt Austin comes in. She gets to flirt with the good looking businessman, and he gets to covertly ogle her ass. On the weekends, she works as a Domme at The Ranch, an exclusive BDSM club. She’s working towards being a full time trainer at the Ranch, but must complete Submissive training in order to do it. After a close call a year before with a man who almost raped her, Kelsey is very reluctant to give up any aspect of control to do the Submissive training. She’d rather stick to being a Domme. Her life is definitely turning around after a youth spent making lots of bad choices, including dating a drug runner who she helps to put in jail. One day while at the diner, the brother of the guy she put in jail accosts her, and Wyatt helps her escape. Kelsey immediately realizes she’ll have to move. She can’t risk being on the radar of the gang selling drugs.

Wyatt has his own problems. Ever since his brother, Jace, went off to start up his own business, Wyatt is the heir apparent to his father’s company. Wyatt is an introvert, and really dislikes schmoozing clients, but his father is insistent that he go away for the weekend with a perspective big account and land it. Wyatt will need a date for the primarily social weekend, and decides that Kelsey would be the perfect person to go with him. He offers her an obscene amount of money to escort him, and tells her no strings attached, just companionship. Kelsey, being a straight shooter, lets him know that she’s as interested in him as he is in her and that she thinks they should have a sexual relationship. She makes him a deal, she’ll go with him on the business trip, and he’ll help her complete her Submissive training. Wyatt is taken aback. He hasn’t really practiced BDSM since college, and isn’t sure that the life is for him. But he knows he wants Kelsey and he knows that he wants to dominate her. So he agrees.

There’s a lot to like about this book. Kelsey is an interesting character. Young and vulnerable, having had a rough life of her own making, and determined to make life better for herself. Wyatt is a more stock character. He’s dominant and bossy and of course, fantastic in bed, and slips right back into his role as a Dom without really ever skipping a beat. He’s got all of the protective instincts that most alpha romance heroes have, and he definitely displays them. But they have a nice chemistry, and have several extremely steamy love scenes. The tension in the book comes from whether Kelsey, unlike all the other women Wyatt has been involved with, will be able to accept that his work is his life and the question of whether Kelsey’s past will come out and embarrass Wyatt. Given that Kelsey is completely honest with Wyatt about her past, this “issue” isn’t really that big, nor does Kelsey seem particularly worried about Wyatt working so much. The end result is that the conflict within the book felt manufactured and weak.

While I enjoyed reading the book, I felt that the story could have been punched up quite a bit. There was very little that was unexpected or unique about the story. But it certainly entertained me for the few hours I was reading it. I still really like the series, I just didn’t think this was the strongest entry. For that reason, I’m giving Caught Up in You a C+.

Kind regards,

Kati

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