Meme

Friday Book Blogger Hop

 The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer @ Crazy-For-Books. It is now hosted by Billy @Coffee Addicted Writings. Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end the following Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog. 

This week Billy @Coffee Addicted Writer asks
What is your favorite candy to snack on while reading?

I never manage to answer these questions succinctly – why use one word when I can use a dozen? 😉

So first of all in the UK we have chocolate and sweets, and I generally only eat the latter on longer car journeys. Mind you anything over 40 minutes is a long car journey in the UK so it leaves plenty of opportunity.

I do have a sweet tooth, so I do indulge in the occasional chocolate bar whilst reading. However I’m more likely to indulge in a savoury snack of crisps (chips) or cheese and biscuits.

We only really use the term “candy” when we talk about candyfloss – the pink spun sugar strands that are wrapped around a stick and sold at fairs.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

So what do you snack on whilst reading? Have a great week.

Meme

Can’t Wait Wednesday

Can’t Wait Wednesday
Mister Baby Daddy
by Cassie-Ann L. Miller

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine

Genre- Contemporary Romance
Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53571712-mister-baby-daddy

All my life, I’ve been in love with my best friend. All my life I’ve waited for him to notice. I’m done waiting. I’m moving on with my life…I’m having a baby.
I really need to get over Walker Kingston.
My lifelong infatuation with my best friend is sort of embarrassing. The tall, broody hunk of farmer has always been my fierce protector, my constant hero, my knight in flanneled armor. But to him, I’ve never been more than a friend, the girl he saves from trouble in the middle of the night.
This whole damsel-in-distress thing is getting kind of old. I’m tired of being a burden on Walker. I’m ready to stand on my own feet. I may never win his love but I’m ready to focus on the other things I want in my life.
And what I want most? A baby.
I’ve practically got one foot inside the sperm bank when the overprotective alpha intercepts my plan. Now he says he will father my child.
Nope. Nuh-uh. Absolutely not.
I’m trying to get over the guy. So letting him be my baby daddy is low-key dysfunctional. But Walker insists it won’t affect our friendship. Plus, he has all these amazing qualities that make his offer super hard to resist. He’s strong and charming and fine as hell. And he’s the only person I really trust.
Okay. Fine. Grab the specimen cup. Off to the fertility clinic we go.
Except nothing ever goes to plan.
Now I need rescuing–again. And Walker has made it his mission to take care of my every need–again. And when the ever-grumpy cowboy introduces me to his soft, nurturing side, I’m a goner.
Well, damn. How the hell am I supposed to get over the man now?

Mister Baby Daddy is a steamy, laugh-out-loud, arranged pregnancy, small town romance featuring a growly alpha with a huge savior complex and a strong distaste for turtlenecks. It is set in small town Illinois and is book 3 in the Bad Boys in Love series.
A full-length standalone. No cliffhanger. HEA guaranteed.

BDSM · Book Review

Review //\\ The Punishment Pit Series Books 1 – 5

Wanting It All (The Punishment Pit #1) by Livia Grant

There are spoilers contained within this review, marked by ***

There were parts of this book I enjoyed and other parts I struggled with. Those were mainly near the beginning of the book, and I did briefly consider DNF’ing, mainly because I wasn’t fully invested in the story at that point. With encouragement from both the author, and another reader, I forged on and ultimately am very glad I did so.


My stumbling block involved aspects of the hotel scene, however it was definitely worth pushing through as I found the second half of the book much more to my liking. The writing and overall story are good, really good, in what is a fairly quick read and where the story of all four protagonists will continue in future books.


Very often the more I think about a book I’ve struggled with, the more negative my feelings for it become. The converse is true here. As I’ve sat and worked through what I want to say in my review, reflecting on the story and characters, I can see how the author is throwing questions and challenges at the reader. How often have I whinged to friends about “too perfect” characters in books? How often have I begged for real characters who make real mistakes? So even though I’m going to outline some “negatives” below, I have a feeling that (a) they may have been deliberately placed in the book to cause a reaction and (b) they will be dealt with later in the series.


The Positives
• Excellent writing
 – the author’s “voice”, the story flow, the dialogue, knowing who is speaking, descriptions etc are all executed to a high standard. There was no “effort” required to read the book. Not once did my attention drift, nor did I skip or skim any parts. I did wince at the use of the word “tool” but it also made me smile!


• Tiffany – This book features TWO couples, the series will feature two separate relationships and we get all 4 points of view in the book. Even though it could have ended up being too many points of view in such a short opening, it didn’t feel that way. In fact – and this is a testament to the great writing of Livia Grant – despite only having 2(?) chapters from Tiffany’s perspective I felt as though I got to know her personality quite well. I liked her. She showed integrity, respect, kindness and loyalty. Tiffany’s a strong factor in me wanting to continue the with the story.


• Lukas – Despite Lukas agreeing to something he shouldn’t have, I believe it was a decision taken in the heat of the moment, and it certainly became clear it was something he regretted doing. His self-reflection was the highlight of the book for me. It took me from almost disliking the guy, certainly not respecting him, to absolutely adoring him and totally accepting him. I’m hugely #TeamLukas.


• Final Chapters – The scenes and conversations between Brianna and Lukas in the latter half of the book did change most of my feelings about it, perhaps NOT quite in the way the author hoped, but enough to have me invested in reading future books in the series.


• Subject matter covered*** – As odd as it might sound, I liked the idea of exploring infidelity and rebuilding that shattered trust. There are reasons behind Brianna’s foolishness, it isn’t a simple cut and dried matter, though I’m not sure we still have all the information as to the why.


Neutral/Undecided
• Markus
 – we didn’t really see much of Markus, so for me he is still very much an unknown quantity. Whilst I can appreciate that his actions were born out of pain and anger, they still weren’t acceptable actions. Be an adult, sit down and talk to your wife. And a lawyer of his calibre would have been aware of the possible ramifications of his actions. The premeditation of his undertakings I can put down to a variety of negative emotions caused by what he witnessed. However to maintain that level of cold calculation, of epic fury, during the time he spent waiting for Briana along with all the actions he took to deceive her as he did – well that makes him almost as bad as her in my eyes. Both of them are going to have to earn my respect back – but I’m fairly confident that at some point they will.


Negatives
• Brianna
 – When I struggle with a protagonist it is usually an overbearing, arrogant male. However it was Brianna who I found myself disliking, though I suspect she may have been deliberately written that way. I did warm towards her a little by the end, but she was just so stupid, almost too stupid to believe at times. Since she, and others, acknowledge that very thing later in the book it did go a fair way to ameliorating her behaviour. She does still have some way to go yet.

***
• Cheating with  JAKE specifically – This was my BIGGEST hiccup with the book. I could get to grips or even be ok with Brianna making stupid decisions because her needs weren’t being met. Ish. However I just COULDN’T believe that she would choose a man who had abused her in the past. Treated her so badly it had taken months/years to recover. *** Jake had raped her and abused her repeatedly and violently.  There is no explanation in the world as to why she would choose HIM in the first place. ***  The interaction we do witness is not consensual, so I can’t and won’t call that cheating.  I might have to eat crow because a good reason will come up, but I didn’t get one here and I do need one.


I was confused by Brianna’s response *** to what was a very serious assault. Her words acknowledged what had happened but her demeanour didn’t. I did get the impression she slut shamed herself by accepting blame for the rape by admitting she was stupid to trust Jake/go anywhere with him. I think that she either denied the seriousness because then it wasn’t real or she wouldn’t name if for what it was because her body had reacted and she got turned on by what Jake did. I’d really love the author to explore this more in later books – and perhaps she does!


TL:DR – So to some up, this isn’t an easy read in terms of character actions and subject matter, it is in terms of technical writing. It is a story I will continue with, and if you’re open minded to a challenging read, one where you might not warm to all the characters immediately but where the journey is worth the challenge, then I do recommend this series.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre- Erotic BDSM Romance
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54815328-wanting-it-all

Everyone has a dark secret from their past… hers just forced his way back into her life.
Brianna’s moment of weakness cost her everything but she’s not giving up.
She’ll do anything… anything… to convince her husband to give her a second chance. Even if it means facing her demons and finally accepting the darkness which lies within. The only problem is… she’s not the only one with a past.
It turns out… her husband has secrets of his own.

Securing It All

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I definitely enjoyed this more than the first book, mainly because Brianna wasn’t quite as much of an idiot (that might be in part to her POV not being used that much.) However I am still carrying two issues from book #1. Both are spoilers, I’ll warn when we get close to them, but I’ll try my best to convey my feelings on both of them. Before I get to them I need to praise the author’s prose, her writing flows smoothly and I found myself “sinking” into the story and being totally absorbed by it. Her characters are believable and have real depth to them, I’m looking forward to getting to really know Markus in future books.


Lukas and Tiffany are still great characters, Brianna did behave better in this book, though Markus still has room for improvement. For a man who’d only just been found not guilty of stepping over the consent line Lukas (along with Markus) seemed to forget this and made choices that, to my mind, were neither wise nor SSC. Both men realised how stupid their decision was and apologised for it. However given it was another mistake on top of one made only 24 hours earlier, clearly these Dom’s don’t learn their lessons too well, perhaps they need the spanking?


#1 – I do get why Brianna made her original, off-page mistake

***spoiler***
 [have “kinky” sex with an ex who was also a Dom ].


That’s not to say I agree with what she did, but I understand the why of it. However it’s the fact that Jake had abused and raped her repeatedly in the past that still doesn’t make that aspect of the storyline work for me. Why would she ever have wanted to speak to or see the guy again? I do know that there may be more to be revealed about Jake, but I’m not sure it will clear up this specific issue.


#2 – In the last book there was definitely an act of sexual assault. 

***spoiler***
[When Briana meets Jake at the hotel, he has sex with her regardless of her telling him “No”. There has been NO real move to acknowledge or treat the incident as what it is – rape.] 


However because their body responded with pleasure to the act, it doesn’t seem to have been acknowledged, or treated, as such. Markus and Lukas have been so focused on their punishment and retribution, that they seem to have pushed that fact aside as an inconvenient/forgotten truth. There is a lot of murk surrounding the assault, and the murk becomes the focus rather than the act.


Because I’ve had a break between book #1 and book #2 I could go with the flow and enjoy this story, but I know if I’d read this immediately after #1 I would perhaps struggle to believe that Brianna would not have been more affected by ALL the events that happen to her over a 48 hour time period. It’s a strange dichotomy because great writing made me believe in Brianna and her feelings as I was reading, however if I cogitate on what has actually happened then her calm acceptance isn’t realistic. The story, the book, the emotions I feel whilst reading it tell me one thing, my cold logical head tells me another. 


I do now feel much more invested in the series and definitely intend to continue reading it. I need Markus to show me how/why he is worth the suffering Brianna went through and I hope Lukas proves to be the great dominant and guy that he so far appears to be.

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Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre – Erotic BDSM Romance
Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54818697-securing-it-all

Punishing his wife for her mistakes was the right choice. Having his best friend handle it definitely wasn’t.
Choosing dominance should be easy.
He did it for years, and there’s too much on the line to fail now.
But Markus has been torn apart by betrayal, twisted up and confused by all the lies. His and hers. A matching set. But leaving Brianna at The Punishment Pit didn’t help.
Lukus has always been the Master’s Master. Permanent bachelor and hardcore dom, yet seeing Brianna’s submission has him wanting more.
But she’s forbidden fruit, his best friend’s wife, and a good man would help them fix this mess.
Everything is a gamble. A game of pain and pleasure. One that might be too dangerous with all of their futures are at risk.

Having it All

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After reading the first two books, and being on the fence with the series, and having indulged in purchasing a KU membership, I decided to see where the story went in these books.

I got more into the flow of this one, particularly the Lukas and Tiffany scenes, which were very steamy, consensual and totally had me captivated. I really enjoyed seeing their developing relationship and the compromises Lukas was prepared to make. It was also good to see Tiffany retaining her independence and strength of character.

Markus learns the truth about an event in book #1, I can’t say I was a fan of his response. It still seemed a lot of “about him” rather than how was his wife coping. And I still didn’t find her reaction very realistic. The emotional turmoil and stress Brianna had gone through in a very short period of time would surely have resulted in some sort of break down, at some point. I just failed all round to connect or really believe in this couple.

However Tiffany and Lukas carried the story for me, so I didn’t mind too much. And that cliffhanger ending really had me on edge!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Genre- Erotic BDSM Romance
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54818713-having-it-all

Submission is an addiction she thought she’d left behind, but who can say no to him?
Best friends are always supposed to be there for each other, but walking into a place like The Punishment Pit was above and beyond.
Now Master Lukus is holding her captive, intent on punishing Tiffany for her mistakes, and instead of saving Brianna, she’s trapped with a man from her darkest fantasies.
She’s in way over her head. Falling too hard, too fast. And the dangerously dominant owner of the club is pushing all her buttons, waking up every naughty desire she’s ever had — and more.
But his life isn’t simple, and neither is hers, and nothing is easy when hearts are involved. Everyone has decisions to make, but when every choice is hard, can any of them really have it all?

Balancing It All

I loved how Derek talked Lukas down, following Tiffany’s foolish venture at the end of the last book, he really did lay down some home truths. I loved the heat of Markus and Brianna’s scenes, I quite warmed to the couple in this one. A real strength of them was in their roles as friends to Brianna and Lukas. Having learnt their lesson, the communication between them was very good too.

Lukas needed to follow their lead, he fell far too often into telling Tiffany not to do something, rather than explaining why. I suppose he’s used to submissives who obey his every word, but he knows that isn’t Tiffany. It also felt like a lack of respect for her, keep the little woman in the dark because it’s easier for him.

I was definitely on Tiff’s side regarding the contract. I know Lukas was worried about over stepping boundaries but for me they were embarking on a relationship as a couple who would explore D/s and BDSM, not one as a Dominant and his submissive. I was surprised, after how much her strong spirit and independence was drummed into us, that she folded and went for the 24/7 relationship Lukas was after, rather than a compromise that allowed her to retain some autonomy. It felt like an easier path for the author than an honest path for the couple.

I more and more felt as though Lukas was wanting everything his way, waiting for the right time to push on, rather than truly compromising. By the end (and yet another tough cliffy) he felt like a total selfish ass who really didn’t deserve Tiffany. Lukas was the only thing that kept me reading after book #1. He and Tiffany have held me into this series. Sadly in this book he took a huge nosedive in my estimation.

I loved the introduction of Violet and Gray, it helped me believe in Tiffany’s progress and acceptance of events. Seeing a strong female submissive, one who had her own “mind” was a nice touch, and definitely a reassurance Tiffany needed. The scenes prior to the collaring ceremony were incredibly hot, though I felt as though Lukas and Markus were more interested in their own sexual gratification than they were the well-being of Brianna and Tiffany. They crossed from dominant to overbearing at times. In fact the upset at the end of the ceremony was a prime example of Lukas not being as open with Tiffany as he expected her to be with him.

However, overall I enjoyed the book and the ending left me on tenterhooks for the next book! Someone has a lot of grovelling to do.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre- Erotic BDSM Romance
Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54818764-balancing-it-all

Balancing it All is book four in the deliciously dark and dirty Punishment Pit series that readers are devouring. 
It’s a battle between dominance and submission. 

Defending It All

For me this books was very up and down with some parts I loved and others I really didn’t. I think the biggest problem for me was that Lukas, disappointingly, fell into that tired old BDSM cliche of deciding things for Tiffany, or not telling her things, “for her own good”. In other words because it was easier for him.

Had she kept things secret for as equally justifiable a reason he would still have subjected her to a punishment and I just cannot abide that type of double standard. I’m not sure if I’m an oddity amongst readers in not loving these mind-reading, “know you better than you know yourself” Doms, but they get right on my goat.

For heaven’s sake Tiffany is a grown up women who runs her own business and has managed to live her life really well until she met Lukas. She is capable of making her own decisions and choices, given ALL the relevant information. So when Lukas treats her like she is incapable of this he really goes down in my estimation. It’s misogynistic and smacks of Christian Grey, not a truly consensual BDSM relationship and very much not a partnership!

I also felt that Lukas definitely got off lightly (from his terrible decision at the end of book 4), considering it demonstrated how little respect he had for Tiffany. I appreciated how strongly she made her point to him – and I was glad he realised how unjust and out-of-order punishing her would have been. Would he have found it so easy to forgive and forget had the boot been on the other foot? Yeah, I doubt it. Double standards again

Over the last book and this Lukas became quite whiney and woe is me, just because Tiff wasn’t a pushover submissive. Oh let’s all feel sorry for the poor little Dom who doesn’t have everything going his own way. He fell in love with Tiffany’s independence and sass but then seems to want to change her and dampen her spirit.

The book took on a more suspense element and moved away from focussing so much on just the two couples, and that was a very welcome addition to the story. There were also several new characters introduced, two of whom I suspect will feature strongly in the next book. I look forward to getting to know them both.

I’m coming back to rant about the men keeping information from their women, again. Their excuses for not telling their romantic partners where they were disappearing off to or why they couldn’t go to the bachelorette party were, quite frankly, weak. Whilst I appreciate their will be times Lukas wouldn’t be able to give Tiffany details,that wasn’t the case here. He could AND should have warned her about Jake. Yet again it felt as though the men were refusing to be totally honest when they wouldn’t accept the same treatment from their submissive.

I did really enjoy how Lukas handled Tiffany’s family and the lengths he went to in order to ensure her happiness. He did manage to melt my heart with the depth of his love. And the author can definitely write, the stories are really easy to read, the pace is good and the plot flows smoothly.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Genre- Erotic BDSM Romance
Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54818794-defending-it-all

Defending love at all costs. The devil is coming for them all. 

Meme

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a wonderful place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be, reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! Everyone is welcome. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn over at The Book Date.

Despite my being off work last week, I ended up feeling busier than ever with lots of driving offspring around in between painting the kitchen. My son had a minor op mid-week, and because of Covid restrictions no one could accompany him (he’s 20 so it wasn’t a huge issue). However it did mean sitting around in the car for an hour or two until he was discharged. The other son’s girlfriend flew out to Italy on Saturday to start a job as an au pair to a little girl in Tuscany.

Yesterday saw my husband, my daughter and I meet up with my sister and parents for a socially distanced walk. It turned out to be a very pleasant day full of beautiful golden sunlight.

Books Read Last Week

So it was another week of NOT reading what I’d planned, but at least I did read! I started with a couple of the novella’s from an anthology and then read my last arc commitment at the moment. I then abandoned my remaining plans. Instead I resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited and caught up on a couple of series’ I’d started but never finished.

There were a couple of KU books that I started but just didn’t get caught up by, before a very bland read drove me to change genres completely.

Currently Reading

I read the first book a while ago and promised myself I would read this one soon. It’s an Urban Fantasy and I’m hoping it’s just the change of pace I need.

Books to read this week

I do have one arc to read this week, but I’m making no more commitments than that because (a) I have to do some planning for work and (b) as long as our area doesn’t get moved into Covid Tier 3 we are going away for a few days to Bristol.

So that’s my week, What are your reading plans?

Book Review · Fantasy

// REVIEW \\ Radical by Colleen Cowley

Radical
(Clandestine Magic, #2)
by Colleen Cowley

description

This started a little slowly, but I think it needed to because once it picked up steam it went supersonic. The plot twists – oh yeah, they totally took me by surprise and yet I can see how there was some foreshadowing of them. There was just SO MUCH going on with Plan A’s and Plan B’s and even Plan C’s and D’s. However all those plans were useless when… well you’ll have to read it and find out but OMG talk about bluffs, double bluffs and triple bluffs.


Before I go any further I need to tell you that this is NOT a stand alone book. You need to read Subversive first, as well as being aware that this ends on a cliffhanger. I have absolutely no idea where the author plans to take us next. Though based on this and Subversive it’s going to be one heck of a ride!


The discoveries made, the secrets revealed, the implication of the vows and of using magic, there is just so much packed into these pages. However Colleen Cowley does it all in a way that allows you to keep pace of every startling revelation. I continued to adore both Peter and Beatrix, I also felt that we got to know some of the supporting characters in more depth too. The conversation towards the end between Rosemary and Beatrix was so full of emotion – I may have required a tissue or two for that, and I most certainly needed them for some of those ends scenes between Peter and Bea.


This book crosses the genres and I hugely recommend giving the series a try, hopefully you will love it as much as I am.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Genre- Fantasy/ Alternative Reality

Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55359252-radical

Women have no ability to cast spells. That’s what wizards have said for generations—and it’s a lie.
In this second book of the Clandestine Magic trilogy, Beatrix Harper wants to expose that lie to protect her sister’s life. Her desperate plan: Train tens of thousands of women in secret, then shock the nation with a display of their magic. She thinks it will work—if only she can keep the details from her town’s wizard, Peter Blackwell.
But that’s nearly impossible thanks to their unwanted magical connection. Peter, meanwhile, fears that his own desperate goal—to counter the terrible weapon he should never have invented—is doomed to fail.
Their plans are about to collide. Disastrously.

Photo by Rafael Guajardo on Pexels.com