BLOG REVIEW: My Nights with Kate by M.T. Stone

22y.o. fashion-merchandise college senior is having a hard time paying her rent.
So she signs up for an online request for a sugar daddy with her sexy photos.
It captures the attention of nearly-retired 49y.o. owner of a successful fashion industry company.
Although a date to an expensive French restaurant in New York City appeals to heroine, she's concerned about what her online dating choice will be in person.
But instantly recognizing Hero as the attractive fashion guru with major ties to her fashion school puts her mind at ease.
That night starts their affair,
yielding her extravagant financial compensations,
sexual pleasures,
and a luxurious lifestyle she doesn't mind getting used to.
That night also begins their business arrangement, boosting her career to heights she's only dreamed of.
However, Hero keeps their affair a secret from his adult kids
and heroine, from her fashion-buyer mother.
What difference does it make when their families find out?
What becomes of their affair?

This book must've been written by a man. Let me tell you why:

1. It reads like a tamer version of Harold Robbins' books that were popular in the '80s.

It's NOT a romance. It's more of a man-lit, if there was a male version of chick-lit. Actually, it's more of an older middle-aged man's fantasy, where he retires by age 49 with billions, has a lavish lifestyle with expensive vehicles (a personal luxury airplane, helicopter, & a 5-story yacht), & has lots of sex with energetic college-aged women. There was also a lot of discussion about business, travel, and food, including the full menu of a French restaurant. In French!

2. Hero's POV(point of view) is the most compelling.

Although the book is told from multiple POVs (point of views), Hero's POV seemed the most real. His concerns about his health (including several detailed doctor's visits), memories of younger & growing years with his wife, and transitioning from work to retirement were realistic and filled quite a few pages of this 200+ page book. Heroine, however, sounded like a materialistic college girl. I couldn't find an ounce of sympathy for her. I couldn't connect with her at all. She sounded like the kind of young sex-gymnast good-girl-outside-but-a-bad-girl-in-the-bedroom stuff of men's dreams. Somebody who's good to go with sex whenever and however to please the man. And she doesn't bother him about commitment either. In fact, she's A-ok with being his booty call without demanding anything more. She's only a willing recipient of what HE wants to give her and nothing else. She's supposed to be a sort of good-girl who worked hard in school. She partied but not like her whorish best friend (BFF). However, heroine didn't seem to blink an eye at the mention of having a menage a trois with Hero and her BFF. In fact, she was the one who recommended it. All shy & concerned of how Hero might respond. The nonsense! I'm telling you, this author IS a man!

3. “love button” and “my dear”s

I believe that whoever this author is must be an older man because there were certain words used in the book that's more typically used by an older person (60+). I laughed when I read “love button” and “sweet little box” to describe heroine's hoohaa. Either the author is elderly or the author has a really old-skool view of 50-year-olds. I know quite a few folks in their late 40s & 50s and they sure don't talk like that. I could've excused these word usage too if this book was written 10 or more years ago. But this book was written only in 2013 & some of the words the 49-year-old Hero used were laughable. It sounded so strange whenever Hero would call heroine “dear” and “honey”. The way he said seemed more in context of a father-daughter contexts. He would use it to show her kindness & affection, which happened when they weren't having sex. It seemed creepy the way he switched from treating her like a nubile sex plaything to doting on her like an approving dad. I don't mind a big age difference between the Hero and heroine but it has to feel romantic and not pedophilic or incenstuous.

4. sex without emotions

Much more so than the emotional development between Hero and heroine. The love scenes were explicit but in a technical sense. It read like an instruction sex manual. 
There were plenty of descriptions of where limbs &other body parts were located. The internet as a source of knowledge about sex techniques was mentioned a few times by heroine & Hero. Interestingly, it fit the scenes because of the technical way the sex scenes were described overall. It was as if there was an “on” and “off” switch between sex and their romance. The emotional experiences of Hero and heroine during the sex scenes were severely lacking. Their emotions came up only after sex was done, which was when Hero would start calling her "dear" and "honey". They both professed their love for each other but I sure didn't feel it. This book was so bogged down with technical sex and business. Their romance was nil. And the way it ended was just right for their sort of romance too. I didn't know why there's even a sequel of this book. It should've been left as it ended. 

-----------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details---------

Hero left heroine a letter & sailed away on his luxury yacht. His letter basically wishing her good luck in her business & giving her a year to figure out whether she would still want him in her life. Thus, the sequel.

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In any case, I'm not reading the sequel. Even if it was free. 

I don't recommend this book.

1.5-star

BLOG REVIEW: Whirlwind by Charlotte Lamb

22y.o theatre actress has always been single-minded about her acting career, 
foregoing dating & not thinking much about being alone & destitute.
Waking up next morning to the man she warned her co-actress friend about just a day before is definitely not part of her plan. 
It greatly disturbs her usual equanimity, especially when she sees her friend with him. 
She wants nothing more to do with 35yo Hero.
Avoiding them isn't easy because her actress friend views her as a mentor & wants to involve her more in her life. 
And Hero keeps showing up unexpectedly,
reeling her into his high-powered life
and making her more conscious of the disparity between them.
She soon finds out the extent of developer Hero's involvement in her friend's life and their work. And his reciprocated attraction towards her.
How does she keep her distance from him?

This was the romance novel that broke my last 4 months of read-a-page-&-chuck-the-book stage. I've had absolutely no interest in reading another romance novel & I seriously was ok considering never reading romance again. I happened to pick up this book at random one day & began reading it without the desire to stop & shut it. I wouldn't call the first few pages, or even the entire book, captivating. It was neither really dramatic nor exciting nor even sensual. It's more of an even-keeled romance with mature & likable characters. Maybe it's because it lacked the insta-lust, damaged characters, & melodrama popular in romance novels that I seem to have no stomach for these days. There was something in the ease of this romance that drew me.  I was actually surprised that this was a Charlotte Lamb book because it wasn't as intriguing or dramatic like her other books. Those elements were present to a degree but not overwhelmingly so. 

There was a calmness in the story-telling that balanced out the mystery & drama. There was maturity in the plot & characterization.
 Although 22yo.o heroine was more emotionally & professionally mature than her 18yo friend, her youth (and thus, immaturity) became apparent in her thoughts about Hero. She did quite of bit of jumping to conclusions & histrionic bursts of accusations & anger towards him right away in the book.  It wasn't like her to do so and served to demonstrate how much Hero affected her.  I liked that Hero called her on wrong assumptions because it allowed her to re-assess the situation & to regain her cool-headedness & wise maturity. She did reciprocate & called Hero out on his defenses & resistances. Not out of revenge but because she was usually a no-nonsense person, when confronted. Heroine had high standards for herself & she wasn't going to just let anyone accuse her falsely nor make her alter her standards for no good reason. That's what I liked the most about her. Despite her occasional defensive outbursts, she had a strong resolve & determination to succeed due to having survived being an orphan as a child, living with emotionally-distant foster parents, & supporting herself since she was 16. She was focused & didn't let poverty, hunger, & rejection get in her way. She also knew her own motives for wanting to succeed as an actress & it wasn't for fame or fortune. She made Hero work to get into her good graces. Despite the temptations of pleasure & easy life that he promised her, she stayed strong & made him realize what he needed to do to win her heart. She wasn't a high-maintenance woman. Just a woman with standards & self-respect.

The secrets & misunderstandings were revealed early enough & ironed out sufficiently in the book.

---------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details---------------

The main big secret & misunderstanding was revealed about 20% into the book. Heroine's actress friend who she believed Hero was interested in was actually Hero's younger half-sister. Hero and his sister wished to keep their relationship a secret from others because:

1.) He was the secret financial backer of the play.
2.)This play was his professionally-inexperienced sister's 1st paid acting role. Thus, the reason for her employment would raise many questions.
3.) His sister also wanted to prove to her protective parents that she can act & do her job without them pulling any strings for her.

Another misunderstanding was heroine's belief that Hero took advantage of her when she got drunk at his place the night they met. She passed out from drinking too much champagne, after they kissed. Hero put her on his bed & later joined her, after trying to sleep on his couch 1st. He was too uncomfortable on his couch so he transferred over to his bed just to sleep. Heroine jumped to the conclusion that he had sex with her, when she woke up next to with him the next day. She left his apartment immediately before he could awaken, greatly distressed that she lost her virginity the way she imagined.

A more secondary misunderstanding was heroine's assumption that Hero lumped her with the usual ambitious actresses that would do anything for fame & money. Hero already had an inkling about her dire financial straits & her moral character before she voluntarily revealed things to him. She was actually the one who had an issue with social status.

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A good portion of the book was spent showing Hero and heroine dealing with the aftermath of those secrets & misunderstandings. I liked that the apologies were backed with actions and that the wrongdoers required time and proof via the offender's actions before they gave their trust. Both of them did some apologizing & changing. 
 It made for a good outlook on their future together. Although heroine did more of the misunderstanding, it was Hero's relationship resistance that was the biggest hurdle in their romance. Once he chose to let it go, then they had a chance at a HEA (happy ever after).

I recommend this book.
4-star