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REVIEW:  A Date with Fate by Tracy Ellen

REVIEW: A Date with Fate by Tracy Ellen

A Date with Fate: The Adventures of Anabel Axelrod by Tracy Ellen

Dear Ms. Ellen:

What happens when you take a woman out of her bookstore, throw in loved-ones with issues (ok, let me amend – some of these loved ones go past “issues” into the land of “subscriptions.”  And one of them, in fact, has a room dedicated to them in the basement of the Library of Congress.  They don’t have issues – they have a Dewey Decimal category all for themselves) and then add a healthy dose of murder mystery?  Why, this book, of course!  The icing on the cake, in my not so humble opinion, is the sexual chemistry between the main characters.

Anabel Axelrod is an orphan – but an orphan with a passel of sisters and one baby brother – who was raised by the beloved grandmother for whom she was named.  Not only that, they were all raised in my idea of nirvana – a small-town bookstore.  Anabel has taken the bookstore over from her grandmother and is now working her dream job, living her dream life, complete with tall, dark and mysterious Luke, her brother’s neighbor.  Anabel isn’t a typical heroine.  She’s a petite girly-girl who knows how to shoot, knows how to ask for help and has a very non-traditional view of relationships.  This, of course, means that she and Luke have some very interesting things to work through as a couple.  Unfortunately, they have to do that around one missing person, one larcenous cousin, Luke’s very secretive job, Anabel’s family and friends, and one ex-boyfriend who comes back to make things even more interesting.

I want to live in your world.  Seriously, I REALLY want to live in your world.  First of all, it’s a world of alpha males who haven’t been fed the testosterone-laced kool-aid, eaten the man-muscle cookies, and become poisoned by the penis-power.  Not every man is chest-beatingly infallible.  Next, I have to repeat again – a BOOKSTORE.  Not only a great used bookstore, but one that has a sandwich / coffee shop / bakery run by Anabel’s best friend.  I absolutely adore what you do with all of the characters.  Each one of them is nicely developed and well-rounded.  It’s very easy to just let some secondary characters remain partially fleshed out, but your characters seemed to come to life.

The one major complaint I have, and it’s definitely a major one, is the rambling.  There are several portions of the book where we’re listening to Anabel speak and she jumps back and forth to three or four different involved stories that DO relate back to the topic at hand, but in a very, very long-winded, convoluted manner.  I had to flip back and forth between a few pages to make sure I was getting everything and ensure that, no, I hadn’t skipped a whole chapter somewhere.  Once I got through the regressions, I didn’t mind them so much – but they took quite a bit of getting used to.

The minor complaint I have is that the book ends on a slight cliffhanger.  All of the major plots in the book (a murder, a missing person, etc.) are neatly resolved, but there’s one relationship point that gets moved on to the next book.  And damnit, I want to know what’s in that bag!  Well, that and a few other things.  There were just a few too many details left hanging without explanation.  Given how solid the writing was in this book, I’m sure those details will be taken care of in future books, but it’s mildly annoying.

Another minor, nitpicky thing?  Proofreading.  There were several places where misspelled words or improper grammar pulled me out of the story.  Proofreading is essential.  Luckily, as mentioned before, the story was just so good that I couldn’t put it down.

***** This section may contain spoilers, but I feel it’s important *****

Spoiler (spoiler text-dubcon): Show

One very important note that I’m going to put out there – this book not only contains some very explicit scenes of immodest, unabashed, no holds barred sensuality, but it begins with a scene that some readers may find offensive or disturbing.  The novel opens with what appears to be a potentially violent sexual assault.  To be quite honest, I very nearly quit reading the book.  I’m not squeamish, but this was extremely vivid and terrifyingly well-written.  It was my version of horror, probably every person’s version of a nightmare situation – being overpowered by an unknown assailant whose sole aim is sexual pleasure.  My heart was racing and I know my breathing was a little irregular.  I kept reading, however.  I forced myself to continue on, and I’m glad I did.  The opening scene was a fantasy of Anabel’s that Luke played out for her.

***** End of Spoiler Section! *****

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  I loved the characters and the way they came to life on the page.  Anabel is a kick-ass heroine who feels –real-.  Yes, she’s very capable, but she’s also human and can succumb to the same terrors that affect every one of us.  I also think I’d like my own Luke.  Definitely my own Luke.  I enjoyed that theirs is a somewhat non-traditional relationship – readers will definitely see what I mean.  Saying anything more would spoil it a bit.  There are a few things I would have liked to see tweaked, but they are, by and large, minor.  Fans of Kristen Ashley’s “Rock Chick” series or Julie Walker’s Black Knights, Inc. books will likely enjoy this one. B-

Yes, I’m going to buy the next installment right now,

Mary Kate

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REVIEW:  All He Wants | All He Needs by C. C. Gibbs

REVIEW: All He Wants | All He Needs by C....

All He Wants Gibbs

Dear Ms. Gibbs:

The All or Nothing trilogy (or in the UK Knight trilogy) is a series of erotic romance stories that feature the same couple–Katherine Hart and Dominic Knight.  Both stories end with some cliffhanger although the first is “worse” than the second. I’m reviewing the stories together but the third doesn’t come out until Sept. 2014 even though it is available in the UK already.  (Not to mention the UK prices are a lot better than the US prices)

CC Gibbs is the pen name for Susan Johnson and I’m not revealing any secret. It’s posted on the website.  And because I love Susan Johnson books (like Pure Sin, Outlaw, the Braddock-Black series), I wanted to read these. Not only did I want to read this series but I wanted to love it.

Katherine Hart is hired by billionaire businessman Dominic Knight to trace twenty million dollars. At first she almost walks away from the job when she overhears Dominic cursing to someone on the phone. She doesn’t think she wants to work with someone like that but Dominic convinces her to stay on.

For the most part, books 1 and 2 present a classic Susan Johnson dynamic. Uber wealthy playboy hero sets eyes on a successful woman and has to have her.  He pursues her assiduously and she resists, knowing that he is bad for her and that she doesn’t want to become another notch on his bedpost. They fall into bed and know from the strength of their lust and orgasms that the other is different.

In this series, Dominic plays at being dominant in the bedroom and sadly this is where the book falters.  Readers have been fully exposed to the BDSM lifestyle in various books, not the least of which is 50 Shades.  Dominic basically just likes to order Katherine around and worse, the lines of consent are super clear here. I know we are supposed to understand that this turns her on but we don’t always see it.

“And if you do as you’re told, I’ll screw the hell out of you because that’s what you want, isn’t it?” He could see the fury in her eyes, but he forced her to answer. “That’s what you came here for, right?”

Silence, incandescent with rage. He waited because she was flushed and trembling and he had what she wanted—a hard dick.

“Yes,” she finally whispered.

Gibbs, C.C. (2013-07-09T05:00:00+00:00). All He Wants (All or Nothing) (Kindle Locations 2736-2739). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I mean, yes, she wants it but still. I wasn’t always comfortable. Additionally I found the sex to be rather tame. While the text tells us that he has an extensive repertoire, we actually only see the two of them engaged in a little oral and mostly the missionary position.  But beyond the eroticisim (or lack thereof) is the insane head hopping.

“So I’ve been told. Do you have family?” He preferred employees with a casual attachment to family. They were more likely to work the long hours demanded of them.

“You can’t ask that,” she flatly said.

His smile was mocking. “Are you going to sue me?”

“I won’t have to if I’m not working for you.”

His jaw clenched. “You can be a real bitch. Sue me for that too if you want. Now, could we stop playing games? I won’t ask you any personal questions, other than will you accept my job offer?” Leaning back in his chair, he unbuttoned his suit coat, shot his cuffs, waited for her reply.

She couldn’t help but notice his hard flat stomach under his white custom shirt. And the fact that he didn’t wear cuff links. She liked that. She’d always viewed cuff links as pretentious. Only an observation, the little voice inside her head pointed out innocently. No one’s trying to persuade you of anything.

Gibbs, C.C. (2013-07-09T05:00:00+00:00). All He Wants (All or Nothing) (Kindle Locations 136-144). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Finally, for me, a long time reader, the entire plotline and conflict is really predictable. Dominic is very jealous of the way that Katherine gets so easily turned on and that she may have had sex before him, even though one part of him acknowledges that his behavior is unreasonable. Katherine, in turn, is peeved about Dominic’s licentiousness.  There is shopping, a run in with his mother, and monetary excesses that actual show Dominic’s wealth.

The first book, All He Wants, ends in a major cliffhanger and the second one, All He Needs, does as well but with the couple together.

If you like 50 Shades and don’t mind a domineering arsehole, this may be entertaining.  I’ll read Book 3 someday but it’s probably good I’ll have to wait months by then anything I didn’t like about these two books, I’ll have forgotten.  It’s hard to grade these two because I’m sure part of my problem is the long history I have with Susan Johnson books, some that I’ve read and re-read multiple times.  A new reader might not be perturbed by the repetitiveness but the head hopping? That’s kind of inexcusable. C

Best regards,


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