BLOG REVIEW: Brett's Little Headaches by Jordan Silver

19yo heroine is a diner waitress
who does her best to take care of her twin boys, since their biological father has never been involved.
Meeting 28yo Hero at the park with his dog
was not the friendliest of meetings, since she berates him regarding his dog around her 3yo kids.
Although he rants back at her, he was struck by how unexplicably captivated he was with her. 
So much so that he invites himself over to dinner at her place
& begins his attempts to win her over. 
 He makes it clear that he wants her & her boys with him & he'll give her 2 weeks to get used to the idea. Leaving heroine stunned at his preposterous demands.
Yet she's also equally captivated by his unwavering love for her.
Hero is used to being single-minded in business. 
But he's shocked himself at how obsessed & over-the-top he's acting and feeling towards heroine. 

But he can't stop. Nor does he want to. And he will do what he can to convince her that they belong together. How much will his caveman antics push her independent streak? What will he do when she sets her limits?

Disclaimer: YOU'RE NOT GONNA LIKE THIS BOOK AT ALL...if you can't stand OTT(over the top) cave-manish, demanding & possessive Heroes who:
          1.  delight in getting the heroine pregnant ASAP & having a brood of kids with her  
          2.  want to spend almost every waking moment (when not working or tending to the 
               kids) with heroine, which involve smexxing as much as possible
          3.  demand that heroine stays at home with him & their kids
          4.  don't care what other people think about their unconventional lifestyle
I love Jordan Silver's books because of her OTT cave-manish Heroes, who are clear about their love & obsession with heroine & their demand for a certain lifestyle together. It's so unapologetically over-the-top that I end up laughing a whole lot. It's so outrageous! Yet it also felt really romantic (and not to mention hot) to me. I don't know how Silver does it. But she's able to write characters & story-lines that seem the anti-thesis of politically correct feminism, sexual equality & gender roles and make them still seem romantic. To me anyway. The in-your-face dialogue & tropes (i.e, breeding, sexual voraciousness, emotional possession) highlight the intensity of the characters (especially Hero's) feelings & desires for the other. It's written mostly from Hero's POV(point of view) so we got his direct thoughts & feelings about things.  He is basically at heroine's service: to please her, provide for her, & protect her. Unlike BDSM books, Hero doesn't inflict pain to seduce. He instead forces heroine to see his way by pleasuring her. Since I'm a pain wimp, this pleasure method is much more appealing to me. The outrageous-ness of it all ends up feeling really sexy & loving to me. At the end of the book, I'm left without 1 shred of doubt that Hero is in love with heroine & will be forever. Underneath his alpha caveman exterior is really a heart that beats only for heroine. It's this underlying vulnerability that makes Silver's cave-manish Hero so romantic to me.

I wasn't sure about liking this particular Silver novella (90+ pages) since I don't like to read books with kids that are not both Hero and heroine's. I was only gonna read a page or 2 just to get a feel for it. Then, I liked it so much & read the whole thing. It's mostly from Hero's POV(point of view) so we really get the gist of his crazy demandingness. He was the most surprised at how he was feeling & acting towards heroine. It was so funny when he'd have a thought about heroine, followed by his own perplexed views about having such thoughts. Calling himself insane for even thinking those things, which were so unlike him:

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

1.) he planned on marrying her & adopting the boys just hours after meeting her & he told her so later on Day 1 of their meeting
2.) he wanted to get her pregnant ASAP & didn't have problems sabotaging her birth-control pills to get it done
(I thought this was a jerk move beyond his OTT alpha-ness so part of why it's not a 5-star) 
3.) he wanted her to have at least 2 sets of twins by him to double the twins that some other man got her pregnant with
4.) he started looking for a house for them to move to the night of Day 1
5.) he slyly got her to choose the house she liked on Day 2 & bought it that very night
6.) he told his mom that he met his soon-to-be wife on Day 2, which shocked but delighted her to pieces
7.) he was able to persuade them to stay at his condo on Day 3  
8.) he was able to persuade her to have sex with him on the night of Day 3 instead of 2 weeks later
9.) he became obsessed with wanting to erase the memories of her 1st lover (who was basically just a friend & who she only had sex with as a virgin once & has had no contact with ever since he run away when he found out she got pregnant from their 1x together) so he'd grill her about it in the middle of smexxing  
(my other reason for why it's not a 5-star)
10.)  he started delegating work to his employees at the office instead of his standard workaholic ways & hours so he can be with heroine as much as possible
         ---------------------------------------------------------END SPOILERS----------------------------

Hero was jaded, when it came to women & romance. He had actually sworn off them hours before he met heroine. That's part of the reason why his consuming thoughts of being with heroine & even wanting to be around her boys that first day astounded him so much. His rough & raw language only highlighted the dichotomy between his normal character & lifestyle and his new plan to become a family man. He catered to her boys with gentleness and fun but mixed some rawness with romance for heroine.

Heroine was quiet and independent and sassy, when provoked. She'd go toe to toe with Hero, fighting for her independence. She'd even ignore him and roll her eyes at him, when she thought he was being ridiculous. Except that it didn't bother Hero much at all, if it was about things that would put a distance between them. She was often at a loss for words with him due to how outrageous he'd act and sound. However, she knew that it was because he loved her so much and wanted the best for her & her boys' welfare and safety. So, as ridiculous as Hero's possessive demands & actions may be, she saw and understood his motives. She'd silently agree with them but would be miffed at his delivery.

Lots of funny & cute moments for me. I loved when she got pregnant & Hero's reactions to it, all the way to the labor & delivery. Hero was so attuned to heroine that he experienced “sympathetic pregnancy”. He threw up more than she did & literally felt some of her pain. So cute. Love these long epilogues.

I recommend this book.

BLOG REVIEW: Dark Beast by Alexa Sinclaire

22yo heroine is a loner by choice. She goes running by herself around her father's estate
and mostly secludes herself in her room, reading and doing online classes, because of her stutter.  She follows her father's demands and unhappily agrees to an arranged marriage
to save her irresponsible brother from going to prison due to a crime associated with Hero's family. 32yo security-specialist Hero used to be a handsome & charming ladies' man,
lauded for his military success.
But he became a casualty of war. His face is now badly scarred.
And he's become bitter, angry at being spurned by women who used to vie for his attention.
Forcing heroine in marriage will fulfill his desires for vengeance and to have a wife and children. Given her 1st reaction to his scars and her aversion to speaking to him, he's surprised at how responsive she was to being with him on their wedding night.  And she, his tender passion with her. 
However, the morning after was a different story.
His distance and coldness towards her makes her feel like she's back at home at her father's house, rejected and alone.
Except for when it's time for bed, he becomes a very different person.
How does she get him to open up outside of sex?

I like the Harlequin-esque writing of this Sinclaire book. Despite my 2-star rating, I'm still considering sampling other Sinclaire books in the future to see if she writes with the same Harlequin-Presents style but with more explicit sex. This book is full of drama, emotion, & extreme characterization. But this book suffered with OTT(over the top) negative characterizations of Hero and heroine and not enough character growth. I couldn't get past what a jerk Hero was throughout the book. And what a huge doormat heroine was, taking his crap day after day.  I don't know how she could get all sexified with him every single night, after he blatantly ignores her most of the day during their 1st month of marriage. Except for 2 activities:

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

Hero told her to her face that he didn't care what she did, as long as she was with him promptly at dinnertime and give him what he wants at bedtime.  He rejected all her attempts to converse during the day or share lunch or workout together.  The times he'd leave during the evening he wouldn't tell her where he'd go and neither did he invite her. She accidentally found out later that some of these events were parties & social events they were both invited to as a couple. But he never informed her about any of them because he thought she didn't want to be paraded around as her father did. What's worse is that she'd merely slink away quietly, feeling sad and rejected. And do as she's told. Grateful...that at least he wanted her at bedtime. Grrr.

Heroine was a virgin on their wedding night. Hero was celibate by force since his injury (about a couple years) because his facial scars repulsed other women: his former lovers & the women he dated after his injury.

          ---------------------------------------------END SPOILERS----------------------------------------------

Heroine was a doormat. And she acted stupidly. She was intellectually smart but not wise. She agreed to marrying Hero to save her brother from some unknown criminal charges that would send him to prison. Did she even ask what crime her brother was accused of before agreeing to the forced marriage plan? No. Did she ask her father what hold Hero had on him to make him agree to such a plan? Nope. Did she ask her father or brother or Hero (or anybody really) what other alternatives there was to helping her brother aside from her being forced to marry Hero? Of course not. Heroine was the sacrificial lamb who, I guess, turned her brain off at such crucial times. Just because she made a promise to her mother to take care of her brother. The brother who she had no contact with during her years of boarding school. By choice. But, now that she's being forced, she's willing to lay down her freedom (and her brain) for him. Ohhhkay. What's ironic is that she was defending her brother's innocence to Hero, when she still had no clue what her brother was accused of.  It was only after Hero confronted her of her brother's crime that she finally started checking out the truth of it. Only then.

Heroine did wise-up a bit later. After Hero's clear statement of indifference to her life, she took advantage of it by getting involved in a few outside activities (i.e, joining a yoga class, pursuing her graduate studies). But it wasn't enough.  Her venturing out to do more activities outside the home was more on the sly. As if she was sneaking and going against Hero's approval. Heroine was still very much like a child, who desperately needed her parents' approval and wanted to stay within its boundaries to not risk any more rejection. If she had really become more assertive, she wouldn't have forgiven Hero so easily after he publicly humiliated her during her school conference. With a little sad face, some “I'm sorry”s, and promises to treat her better, all was forgiven. Uh huh.

I minimally recommend this book.


BLOG REVIEW: His by Jenika Snow

22yo heroine belongs to a wealthy family and social circle that views status & reputation as of utmost import. 
Getting engaged to the man of her controlling father's choosing was a given. But, as much as she should be used to it, heroine can't easily accept her fiance and her planned future. 
However, being abducted & taken away from her life by her father's solemn bodyguard Hero was never part of her solution.
30-something Hero has wanted heroine since he 1st saw her a year ago.
And he just set his plans in motion to finally have her with him. Giving no hesitation to shackling her temporarily inside his hidden cabin to get her to stay with him and listen to why he thinks they are meant to be together.  
His clear possessiveness of her ignites her buried attraction to him, spurring her to give in to their mutual desire. 
There she realizes what she's been missing. There she realizes he might be right.  But it also makes her long for what's she never had..complete freedom to do and be on her own terms. Even if it meant hurting him,
heroine aggressively springs for freedom from Hero, when opportunity comes.
 Where does she run to? What happens to Hero?

Now this is what I call a good dark romance. And it's a novella too (about 100 pages). Jenika Snow's books are a hit or miss for me. But this book is definitely a hit. I'm not a fan of dark romance books since they are usually focused on the pain/BDSM aspect and not the romance.  Worse, they often have sadistic Heroes who either don't redeem themselves. Or the book is lacking romance. Or is too twisted to be romantic to me. The last dark romance I read traumatized me for awhile (click here for my review of that book). I've been very leery about “dark romance” since, avidly reading reviews before even considering reading 1 word of a sample. Since this is a novella & had some familiarity with Snow's writing, I braved it & read a page. Then, I couldn't put it down, glad to be finally reading a dark romance that made me sigh instead of wince in imagined pain.

Loved this obsessed alpha Hero. He was watchful but not too stalkerish since he was paid to lurk & watch as a bodyguard to heroine's father. His obsession to heroine was done in secret. No one had a clue that Hero even looked at heroine in a non-professional way. Yet, he was totally captivated by her at first sight. Admitting to love at first sight . He was so obsessively in love with her, staying celibate since he was saw her a year ago didn't seem to be a problem for him. He systematically planned his abduction of her since then, knowing of no other way to make her his. His obsession didn't feel creepy to me. It was very cave-manish & fit Hero's rough & gritty upbringing. He worked as a trained killer (trained by thugs) in the guise of a bodyguard. So, soft emotions & ordinary romantic gestures were not part of his package. He showed his love for her in the gritty way he knew how. Yet he wasn't rough with her. Demanding and controlling, yes. But not sadistic or assaultive. He gave her the physical space and time to think about the changes in her life. He didn't touch her sexually without consent. He effectively seduced her with his dirty but honest words and with accompanying actions. Although she didn't like being abducted and shackled in his cabin, heroine actually felt cared for and attended to for the first time in her life. She felt loved for herself and not for what she could do for him or others. She was touched that he knew her so well, even buying her fave bathroom products & food.  He also somehow knew that she would like to be sexually dominated by him. And she let him. He cared enough to make sure it was consensual all the way. It's this combination of aloof and controlling with thoughtful and caring that I loved about this Hero. He was just the right amount of Dom, without me wanting to kick his sadistic balls.

Character growth occurred with heroine. Heroine had done well being a proper and passive young woman, fit for their upper-class social circle.  Before she was abducted by Hero, she'd already began feeling dread and disquiet about her polished and well-controlled life.  She didn't want to marry her fiance and had been rejecting his sexual advances. She's not a virgin but she's not one to sleep around either. She was realizing that her parents loved their high social status more than her, although she was sure they would prove they loved her in the right circumstance. But, as much as she may have wanted out, she was scared and unfamiliar about a different life. So, being taken away from that life by Hero opened her eyes to the possibilities. She wanted more, all of it, as a result. Her running away from Hero was not because she was scared of Hero and detested being with him. She actually was falling in love with him and felt safe with him. However, she couldn't trust that she wasn't falling for him because of their forced relationship. She had a taste of freedom & she wanted to explore it fully before she could decide on anything for herself. Thus, she ran away. Not from him per se. But towards freedom. And this is what happened after she clunked Hero on his head & ran away:

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

Heroine walked for miles, all the way to her parent's house. She was dirty & dingy and had sores on her feet. She wondered how Hero fared and was surprised that he didn't come after her. Yet. When she reached her parent's mansion, she found out they were having a big gala, which brought her to:

Realization #1: her parents didn't care enough to look for her during the week she was gone (even though Hero made it look like she willingly left with a written note & he disappeared himself without giving notice). 

The party showed that her parents' weren't worried or grieved at her uncharacteristic departure. It was further confirmed when her father and ex-fiance scolded her for humiliating them with her actions & her dingy appearance. Her mother was mum and remained passive, supporting her father as always. None of them asked her if she was OK, given her obvious scraggly appearance. It was all about their feelings and appearance, confirming:

Realization #2: her parents didn't love her for herself.

She realized that her parents didn't know her or care to know her. They treated her as an extension of themselves. Since she was acting unbecoming, they cut her off. Heroine packed her bags & told them she didn't want the life they planned for her. Her father threatened to cut her off financially (and he did). Her mother did nothing. Heroine walks off to the next town to live a new life. She had enough money with her to get a small apartment but she needed to work, making her realize that ...

Realization #3: she cherished being a free and responsible adult.

Starting a new life on her own was going to be difficult but she wanted it . She had a college degree but no work experience. So, she worked at a local bakery and bought a used car. She was starting low for her but it meant a lot since it was the first time she was making her own life decisions and making her own money.  For 2 months, she had the freedom she never had. She was glad but not happy. In fact, she felt empty because...

Realization #4: she wanted to be with Hero.

Heroine was disappointed that Hero didn't go after her. She liked that she was no longer his captive. But she missed him and being with him. So, 2 months later, she looks at the map to find his cabin and drives over to hopefully see him. When she gets to his cabin, it was spotless with all the chains and shackles gone. And Hero wasn't there. Revisiting the place of her captivity didn't bring any bad memories. She went into his bedroom and just sat there, remembering and wishing. Then, Hero shows up and she asked him why she stayed away from her for the 2 months since she left. His answer left her in no doubt that...

Realization #5: Hero's love for her was enduring and constant.

He had always been near her. She felt like someone was watching her now and then, including on her trek to her parent's house after she ran away from him. He was there, watching her and waiting for her to come back to him willingly. He didn't interfere with her desire to live freely and to figure things out for herself. He knew that she needed it, if she was ever going to love him back and come back to him on her own accord.  I loved how he patiently waited for her in a stalkerish way.  He was obsessed, possessive, and protective. Yet giving and patient. <sigh>

Epilogue shows them living together in another cabin in a different town, with both reveling in their unconventional romance and life together.

       -------------------------------------------END SPOILERS-----------------------------------------

Sex scenes were steamy and explicit. Some light BDSM(bondage domination sadism masochism) and back-door action. All consensual, with no one (heroine really) seeming to be in pain.

I highly recommend this book.