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REVIEW:  Wild Ones by Kristine Wyllys

REVIEW: Wild Ones by Kristine Wyllys

Wild Ones Kristine Wyllys

Dear Ms. Wyllys:

When MinnChica from The Bookpushers recommended this book to me, I admit a lot of reluctance. She said it was dark and gritty. Most of the dark and gritty books I’ve read lately have featured heroes who are criminals and into humiliating the heroine and I just was not up for that. Fortunately this book was none of those things but it was dark, gritty, and different.

Bri Martin runs away from home during her senior year when her alcoholic father mistakes Bri for her prostitute mother and makes a pass. Maybe if Bri’s older brother had stuck around, but Bri had been left alone to defend herself–something she simultaneously resents and understands. Five years later, Bri is serving drinks in a basement bar called Duke’s, a fake speakeasy that is described as a “lighthouse in the middle of the darkness.”

“The bar was a lighthouse in the middle of the darkness, shining like a beacon of hope and sweet promises. The lights stayed on above the bartenders for practical purposes—no one would appreciate a watered-down Long Island—but the effect was still a little romantic, in a drunken, broken kind of way. It was fitting, symbolic even. Because that was the kind of people that tended to frequent Duke’s. Broken drunks”

Into Duke comes Luke Turner whom Bri mentally names “Dark and Brooding”. There’s a connection between the two of them that she’s unsure about but later when Bri is mugged and Turner saves her, she recognizes the connection as lust. Initially Bri tries to keep it to lust only particularly when Luke’s profession is revealed. He’s a boxer training for the legit circuit but paying off debts by fighting illegally and providing muscle for a local criminal person, Bri’s boss and owner of Duke’s. Bri’s abusive father was the same–a boxer and when she goes to Luke’s first fight, she’s assailed with the memory of what it felt like when she sat in chairs like this squished between her mother and Christian, her feet never quite touching the ground. She’s full of conflicting emotions–caught up in the adrenaline of the fight but hating it as well.

There’s a certain twenties gangster feel to the story, particularly with the owner of Duke’s and Bri’s all smart mouth, high heels, and low simmering anger. She’s got a lot to be angry about given her upbringing and she’s challenging Luke at every juncture. He doesn’t hesitate in giving back in terms of verbal assaults either. Neither of them are probably g0ing to win partner of the year, but it’s easy to see how crazy they are for each other.

Brie is afraid of becoming her mother which is what she’s sure will happen if she allows Luke to be a permanent part of her life. Many of the intimate encounters between Brie and Luke stem from an angry passion. They fight (almost part of their foreplay) and then crash into each other. (This was actually a description used three times and that was probably two times too many) The energy of the story was crackling and I was engaged on every page. Even the love scenes had a certain grittiness to them, the language used different than others in some way even though the words were similar.

“He slammed me down hard and I was soaring, bowing back into an almost unnatural shape, free-falling and unable to breathe. He was still pounding into me, or maybe pounding me onto him, but it was blurry through the flames licking me, burrowing into my skin and igniting my bones. When I started to come down, he angled his hips, hitting a spot deep inside me that had me hissing and spitting like a savage cat.”

The story is told through Brie’s point of view but you get plenty of Luke. He’s incredibly possessive but Brie’s such a strong character that it is well balanced. The descriptions were so rich that I felt like I could visualize the story, as if it were a movie.

Now for the triggers. In the book, Brie is the subject of physical (not sexual) violence more than once. That might be problematic for readers. She hits Luke (which is about as successful as hitting a brick wall) and the action probably turns Luke on more than anything.

Originally I was going to give this book a B because I felt that it was short and could have used another chapter but in the end I didn’t know if that was fair. What I read was B+ worthy.

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  The Do Over by M.K. Schiller

REVIEW: The Do Over by M.K. Schiller

The Do-Over  by MK Schiller

Dear Ms. Schiller:

Initially I resisted buying this book because it was fairly pricey and while The Other C Word was entertaining, it wasn’t that entertaining plus TOCW had a lot of problematic issues such as the non stop sexual harassment by the hero. However, Mistress M from SM Book Obsessions said it was sweet and funny and I needed some of that over the holiday and it was worth the money.

The positives for this book is that there was a sweet romance despite the alphahole tendencies of the hero and the heroine was pretty awesome. Attorney Lanie Carmichael is set up with womanizer Kyle Manchester and immediately sees through him but she doesn’t care.  She wants Kyle to teach her how to get his best friend Brad (her co worker who is currently dating Lanie’s sister) to fall in love with her.

Kyle thinks that this is an impossible task because Lanie doesn’t have a figure, is kind of abrasive, and has the sex appeal of a stick. Lanie thinks that Kyle is perfect for the job because he’s a shallow womanizer who is a great journalist but may be a terrible human being.  Lanie tempts Kyle with an exclusive story that could win him a Pulitzer. Four clients of hers were forced into a sex ring by a prominent politician. The clients are suing for emotional damages and are willing to share their story. Lanie’s handling that interview and thinks Kyle would be the right journalist based on his past work.

Because Kyle wants the story and is intrigued by Lanie’s plan, he agrees but tells her he can’t make Brad fall in love with her. Lanie knows this but believes that with the right information, she can accomplish anything. She’s an excellent trial lawyer (although never does the in court work) and excels at preparation and also negotiation.

“Yes. We’re both juniors at our firm. I’ll make partner this year. Brad probably will in two years.”

Jesus, is that an insult to Brad? How could he describe this girl as shy? She was very full of herself.

“That’s great. So do you like it?”

He didn’t know why, but her odd demeanor was interesting. She adjusted the mop of curly auburn hair that threatened to spring free of the tight bun on top of her head.

“I’m good at it. It’s what I’m meant to do.”

“Why? Do you like fighting for the little guy and getting justice?” Kyle asked somewhat mockingly.

Lanie took a long sip of her drink, followed by a deep breath. “No, it’s not my job to get justice for people. That’s what the courts do.”

“Then what’s your job?”

“Winning.”

I just loved this unapologetic confidence in Lanie.  This could have easily slid into wallbanger status if not for Lanie. She’s smart and knows her strengths and weaknesses.  She’s insightful, able to read Kyle easily and recognizes her sister is a horrible person but still feels some familial responsibility toward her.

There is no insta-lust. Lanie doesn’t respect Kyle or want him. She wants Brad who she views as a great lawyer, great co worker, and decent human being. She thinks that they would be perfect together and is going to use Kyle to gather all the research she needs to execute a plan of attack. Kyle doesn’t think Lanie is hot at all. After each meeting, however, Kyle begins to notice things about Lanie. First it is her hair. Then her smile. Then her eyes until he doesn’t even focus on her looks anymore, but rather Lanie herself. He notices she’s fun to spend time with and is an engaging conversationalist.

Kyle’s plan isn’t to attract and/or please Brad, but to make Lanie more desirable. They do this, not by giving Lanie a makeover, but by Kyle pretending that Lanie and he are a real couple. As pretend relationship goes forward, Lanie and Kyle spend a lot of time together but as their feelings deepen for each other they don’t even realize it at first.

What I loved was that Kyle fell for Lanie before her wardrobe makeover and before other people found her attractive so he wasn’t a victim of the plan that he had for Brad — that a guy only wants a woman who is unavailable to him. Although Lanie was emotionally unavailable to him. Lanie told him time and again that Brad was the man for her until she woke up and realized that every attribute she thought she liked in Brad actually were attributes of Kyle.

Their transformations were well paced as was the romance. It is a pleasure watching a couple actually fall in love. While the price for this book is rather high, it was worth it for me.  Most of the story is told from Kyle’s point of view. I’ve seen some comparison’s to Emma Chase’s Tangled and those are fair but while Drew in Tangled was a misogynistic asshole from beginning to end, Kyle had a real redemptive arc and his womanizing didn’t come from a hate of women but a self hate. Thanks for the recommendation, Mistress M! B

Best regards,

Jane

 

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