Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Contemporary

REVIEW:  A Reason to Breathe by C. P. Smith

REVIEW: A Reason to Breathe by C. P. Smith

Dear Ms. Smith:

I understand that this is some sort of homage and I’ll tell you I picked it up on the strength of Goodreads recommendations and Amazon message board posts because it was billed as a sexy romance featuring an older couple in the vein of Kristen Ashley.

reason to breatheThe problem is that the heroine is one of the dumbest women I’ve had the misfortune to read for a long time. KA’s women aren’t dumb.

The book starts out introducing us to Jennifer Stewart, a lifestyle reporter for a tiny Colorado town. She’s never been a reporter before but she starts insinuating herself into a serial killer crime in her new town. And apparently Jennifer is the most intellectually incurious person ever because she learns when she is researching serial killers by reading newspaper articles that serial killers like to collect trophies. Seriously, you would have to avoid all books, movies, and television shows to not know that this is a trait. Later on she learns that killers have profiles and promises to pass that two old guys (Ben and Gerry) have created. Opening then closing my mouth, it occurred to me that, that wasn’t a half bad idea. If this guy had a type, then we could figure out who in the county matched it, and feed the info to Jack.

That Jennifer thinks that Jack is so incompetent that he needs a lifestyle reporter along with two guys who have no investigative experience to create a suspect list isn’t cute or endearing; it’s insulting. Worse, it makes her look so incredibly foolish.

I don’t get why she even wants to engage in this behavior? Why does she want to make the local Sheriff mad at her? Why does she want to make her boss mad at her? Why does she think she’s a mother effing hard crime beat reporter? And does she worry at all about jeopardizing an active investigation? Of course not because her antics are supposed to be cute and charming when in fact they are stupid and irritating.

After a couple of run ins with the Sheriff (one which includes one of Sheriff Jack’s castaway women), Jennifer fears a disturbance, calls 911 and repeatedly asks for Jack to come. Why again? It’s not like she has had any positive connection with him, yet she thinks she should call up 911 in the middle of the night and beg and plead for the Sheriff of the county to come and get her?

At 9%, after two so brief encounters that you’d be barely able to call Jack and Jenn acquaitances, Sheriff busts into her house, saves her from some intruder (which I question was even there) and we get this ridiculous internal dialogue:

I took a step back as her head buried in my neck, and I’ll be damned if that didn’t wash right over me and settle warm in my gut, as the word “Mine” rang in my head. I didn’t hesitate; I wrapped my arms around her and buried my face to her ear and whispered.

I’m at 9% people.

While there weren’t any obvious misspellings, dialogue was rendered difficult to read because the action after the dialogue was often by the person NOT speaking. Frex:

“Just Jack , remember?” I smiled at that; he’d remembered this afternoon.

“So how’d it go with Naomi? You guys back on again?” He grinned slowly, and then shook his head.

Yeah, the first sentence is by the Sheriff and the second sentence is Jenn but it’s hard to tell when you are reading. I had to read it twice to make sure. This type of action after dialogue occurs a lot.

“I can be a bitch; I can eat up balls, spit them out and then trample them with my boots.” Jack’s eyebrows shot to his forehead.

Then there are the mangled sentences such as “Learning long ago that women liked to flirt and not to take offense, even though he was eating with me, it didn’t stop these women from trying to get his attention.”

Conflict was stupidly inserted because Jennifer gets  mad that the Jack the Sheriff wants her to back off her stupid investigation. She tells him that no one tells her what to do, making her look like she’s twelve instead of thirty nine.

“Jenn, research on serial killers doesn’t mean making a suspect list; that shit will get out. You and the boys back off and let me do the investigating, you hear me?”

I narrowed my eyes at Jack, and my best “excuse me” look, but of course he didn’t even flinch. I appreciated his concern , but he couldn’t dictate what I could and couldn’t do. Jack watched my reaction, and his face got hard, as well. In a staring match, Gerry chuckled and broke my concentration, saving Jack from the daggers I was spearing him with. I looked at Gerry and bugged my eyes at him; he patted me on the shoulder then turned to Jack.

But Jack seems to spend more time kissing Jenn on public sidewalks than investigating the fact that three women in his county have been killed, probably by the same man. Where’s the urgency, Jack? I mean, other than in your pants?

The whole idea that Jennifer, a newbie to the town, is fueling a serial killer’s madness and that every male over the age of eighteen is trying to engage Jack in a flesh colored sword fight renders the story farcical.

The actual relationship parts of the book aren’t bad, minus the insta-setup. It was the ridiculous romantic suspense element that undermined all the advances that were made by the emotional connection between the characters. I felt like Jenn got stupider and stupider as the book went on, placing herself in frequent situations where she needed to be saved.

The insertion of past relationships coming to haunt Jack seemed out of place as well. Dialogue like this did little to elevate the story:

“Baby, go to my office, I’ll be there in a minute.” Jenn looked at me with huge brown eyes, then nodded and headed down the hall.

“BABY! Did you call her Baby? You’ve never called me anything but Babe,” she shouted trying to pull her arm from mine, as I walked her to the front of the station.

While there were some parts of the book that were readable, a lot of the story had me cringing in a bad way. D.

Best regards,

Jane

 

 

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle

REVIEW:  You Really Got Me by Kelly Jamieson

REVIEW: You Really Got Me by Kelly Jamieson

YouReallyGotMe

“There will be pain but only if she asks nicely. ”

Kendall Vioget fell hard for Police Chief Jason Holloway, until the best sex of her life became something more, something she wasn t ready for. Afraid of what he asked of her, afraid of her own desires, she walked away.

Now her brother’s fiancee has gone missing a week before the wedding, bringing Jason back into her life. She needs his help, but her body is losing the battle to resist the hunger to satisfy the dark cravings he can set free.

Jason understands what she needs, and when her increasing submission banishes the self-doubts he’s been carrying around, he knows a perfect match like this comes along only once in a lifetime. Until the missing persons case becomes a murder investigation, and suspicion falls on her brother.

Kendall will do anything to protect the only family she has left, and Jason will do anything to make sure a killer is put behind bars. If he doesn t handle this case right, the most precious gift she could have given him, her trust, will be destroyed. Permanently.

Dear Ms. Jamieson,

I really liked Rule of Three and enjoyed the sequel, Rhythm of Three.  But this book was, unfortunately, not a success for me.

I was struggling from the very start and I only finished it because I had committed to a review. It has a “psychic Dom” and a TSTL heroine.  I felt the authorial hand manipulating the plot often and it wasn’t good.  The characters frustrated me and there was basically no courtship so I found it difficult to buy into the romance.

The first scene is a sex scene between Kendall and Jason.  At first I thought I had missed some pages or that I had inadvertently picked up a sequel and had missed the first book.  I actually went to check on Goodreads. But no, it’s a stand alone book.  Jason is a Dom and he “knows what Kendall needs”.

“Tonight… I’m going to give you what you’ve been wanting.”

Her eyes widened again and she sucked in a breath. Rough sex.

“You need this,” he said, keeping his tone gentle, holding her gaze steadily. “You know it, Kendall.”

“Need what?” she whispered with another nervous glance toward the bed.

“Need me to take control.” She bit her lip, studying him.

“Been watching you, babe.” He reached out and touched gentle fingertips to her jaw. “Every time… I know you want more.”

“I’m afraid,” she confessed, still in a whisper.

“Afraid of me?” His thumb brushed over her bottom lip. She shook her head, and pressed into his hand.

“N-no.”

“Afraid of yourself.”

“Maybe.” She closed her eyes briefly. “I don’t like to let someone else be in control.”

“I know that, sweetheart. You look after everyone else… but who’s looking after you?” He knew the answer to that. There was nobody who looked after her. “That’s why you need this. Total emotional release. I promise you, baby, you’ll learn about parts of yourself you never have.”

They proceed to have sex: there is no mention of a safeword or any previous discussions of hard or soft limits.  He uses a crop on her (it appears to be fairly gentle) but there was (apparently) no prior agreement for this.  I don’t know how they met, why they were attracted to one another; anything about them really and they’re having sex with what appeared to me to be a lack of complete consent.  It made me uncomfortable.

Kendall leaves after this sexual experience and says they can’t see one another anymore.  Not because Jason did things she didn’t consent to though. No, it’s because he brings out things in her that she feels ashamed of and unwilling to face.

Fast forward a month and it is a week before Kendall’s brother’s wedding.  Kevin and his fiancee Natalia are getting married at the family vineyard in a week.  Kendall has organised a fancy wedding because it was Natalia’s dream but the bride is too busy to do much and so is the groom.  So Kendall has done most of it.   Kevin doesn’t come home all weekend and when he does, he looks like he’s been on a bender. He says he hasn’t seen Natalia since Saturday afternoon.  On Monday, Natalia is reported missing by her roommate and Jason, who is the police chief, becomes involved.  Kevin lies to the police and tells them he was home all weekend and asks Kendall to cover for him.

It wasn’t a big deal telling the police that Kevin had been home all weekend. Because if Kevin knew anything about where Natalia was or what had happened to her, he would tell the police. She was absolutely sure of that. So it wasn’t as if they were hindering the police investigation or anything.

Oh, mama.  To add to this, Kendall does not press Kevin for the truth of where he was and what he was doing.  This was just unbelievable to me.  Because this is a romance and Jason and Kendall are supposed to end up happily ever after, I knew Kevin couldn’t be the murderer. The obvious and heavy-handed efforts to make his behaviour suspicious just made me roll my eyes.

In the midst of this, when Kevin is under some suspicion (nobody yet knows that Natalia is dead – the reader knows from the blurb), Kendall and Jason start having sex again.   Jason says he’s going to take things really slow this time but then he totally doesn’t. It’s not very long at all before he’s spanking her.  It is here that a safeword is mentioned for the first time.  Apparently she has one.  (It would have been good to know that in the opening scene, all things considered.)

Jason is a “psychic Dom”.  He just “knows” what she needs, he “knew” she was a “natural submissive”.  Ugh.

From the first time he’d met her, something inside him had responded to her, to her natural submission, her need to be dominated. Something about her brought out every dominant, protective instinct in him, everything he’d been trying to repress.

and

He’d heard about it, but had never before experienced that feeling of “clicking” with a submissive, of being so perfectly in tune with the signals she gave off. He seemed to know exactly what she wanted before she even knew it, and knew how to give her pleasure. It reassured him that he was right, right about her, that they were headed for something incredibly intense together, an erotic and intimate bond like nothing he’d ever had with a woman.

I hardly got to see Kendall and Jason together apart from when he was in his police chief role or when they were having sex.  I didn’t get a feel for why they liked each other or any other courtship-like things.  Because I missed that, it was difficult for me to see why they were together at all.  Well, apart from the “clicking”.

After a few days, Natalia’s body is found and Kevin has failed a polygraph so things aren’t looking good for him.  Kendall is upset and goes over to yell at Jason (how could he do this to her, etc etc, Kevin is innocent because he’s her brother!). Jason, seeing that Kendall is getting “hysterical” spanks her.  Yes, that’s right, he takes consensual (let’s pretend they did talk about limits and stuff) BDSM play and puts it into another sphere altogether and Kendall’s reaction is just to get turned on.  Really?

There follow more obvious efforts to make Kevin look guilty and to obfuscate the killer’s identity, Kendall still doesn’t press Kevin for the truth.

Kendall’s actions in the last portion of the book veer so far into TSTL territory as to risk the health of my ereader.  I can’t reveal what she does because that would be too spoilerish.  Suffice it to say she puts herself in a very dangerous situation, entirely for the sake of the plot, making the police look incompetent in the process.  But Jason has a haunted past (he was formerly an FBI hostage negotiator) and his demons have to be dealt with too.

There were times in the book where I deliberately took a deep breath, tried to change my mindset and look for something good in the story.  But I struggled.  I suppose the stuff about winemaking was interesting, but I would much rather have seen relationship development.  Some of the sex scenes (the ones where I wasn’t worried about consent) were hot.  I liked Kendall’s friend, Erin.  But those things weren’t enough to save the book for me.  It pains me to say this, but You Really Got Me gets a D from me.

regards,
Kaetrin

 

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle