BLOG REVIEW: Stone by Michelle Hughes

21yo heroine is a recent college grad 
who's been leery about approaching her brother's best friend's, 25yo tattoo-artist Hero,
since that drunken night she tried to seduce him 5 years ago.
 But she desperately needs his help now in finding her brother & convincing her brother to leave the biker club he recently joined, before their already emotionally-frail mother finds out. Hero agrees but only if she pretends to be his girlfriend, when they go to the biker bar of the club her brother recently joined. 
Pretending to be his enamored biker girlfriend though
makes it tougher to steel herself from her rekindled attraction to him.
Especially now that his desire for her is unconcealed.
He thinks she now has the experience that she didn't have 5 years ago. What happens to their relationship when she informs him that she's still a virgin? 

I really liked Michelle Hughes' Sin. But, this one, not so much. Heroine was a pushover because of her feelings & desire for Hero. She was too obvious. He knew she wanted him at 16 & now at 21. She did acknowledge her struggle with wanting to resist him and her desire for him. But her resistance was very short-lived & weak. When he'd manhandle her, she'd give him a little bit of lip but soon easily succumbed to his dirty talk & demands. I do like softer heroines but ones that have some inner resolve. This heroine did not. She tried to externally appear as if she was strong inside but she really wasn't. She's supposed to be this staid and conservative woman. But she was easily pressured by Hero & to follow the unsavory crowd they started hanging out with. She became TSTL (too stupid to live). She also let her 1 sexual experience with Hero color her self-worth:

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

When she was 16, she & her brother had a party at her house when their parents were both away. She got drunk with her teenage friends, which gave her the courage to do something about her big crush on 20yo Hero. She went downstairs & climbed on top of Hero, who was asleep on their couch. She touched his genitals & woke him up. He flipped her over & proceeded to oral her to her 1st ever orgasm.

They didn't talk about what happened & Hero never set a foot on their house again, when she was at home. She took his rejection & avoidance as due to something distasteful about her, including her physical taste. She became sexually insecure & shied away from dating other men. She focused her energy on her college studies instead. Thus, remaining a virgin.

In the meantime, Hero was very sexually active. No meaningful relationships. Just hook-ups. Although he didn't get to have full-on sex with heroine (he oraled her & stopped) when she was 16 & distanced himself from her after that, he'd never felt such a strong pull with other women as he did with her. When they started having sex, she was the best lover he's ever had. He seemed consistent with condom use, including with heroine. 
 
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She continued to let Hero determine her self-worth. Thankfully for her, he thought she was hot & worthy of his attention. But, as the book progressed, heroine became ruled by her desires & her smartness receded. She began acting like an impressionable college freshman, binge-drinking & getting talked into dancing with her top off while in a dangerous biker bar on a mission to find her brother.

Hero was an arrogant smirking dude. He was very self-confident and demanding but caring of heroine's family nevertheless. He was attracted to heroine, even 5 years before. But heroine's brother disapproved due to her age & wanted Hero to stay away from her. So, he did, except for that 1 night. He took advantage of his second chance with her now, when they're alone. Yet, he refrained from doing anything sexual with heroine, when they were both staying at her mom's house. Hero stayed at their house for months to help her brother recover from his bike injury. Those months together at her mom's house made their romance seemed more sustainable. But it failed to give it the emotional depth that was possible. It was more tepid, with spurts of excitement when they'd get together elsewhere & the side action of the biker club events.

Overall, the sex scenes, plot, and overall writing were ok. But 1-star less for the character degeneration of heroine. Minus another star for the boring parts in the book, after she & Hero became an item & her brother was brought home to rehab. That took a big chunk of the middle towards the very end of the book. I ended up skipping some pages for the sex scenes. But even that became kinda meh. So, another 1/2-star off for the explicit sex scenes that lacked emotional depth.

I cautiously recommend this book.  
2.5-star

BLOG REVIEW: King (King Book 1) by T.M Frazier

18yo heroine has no idea who she is or her past.
Ever since she woke up by an alley dump & been homeless for a year now.
Her dire physical hunger drove her to go to a motorcyle club (MC) party at an obscure private Florida location
in order to be some biker's whore to get basic daily provision and protection.  Heroine is sent as a welcome-home present to 30yo ex-con Hero.
Their first meeting is as unexpected 
as it is nerve-wracking.  It made tattoo-artist Hero reject her, despite his powerful attraction to her
No matter her desperation and hunger,
heroine moves on. Until she almost gets assaulted,
if not for Hero who went after her take her back with him. Because he couldn't get his mind off her.
Her frankness only excites him yet her amnesiac state & her impact on him makes him hesitate to touch her as he wants. 
When the inevitable finally happens, it brings them even closer together.

Until his lifestyle endangers her. Then, he finally decides to tell her who she really is.
 What does that do to their relationship?
 
Book Safety people, BEWARE! 

The writing is good overall with good emotional pull, intriguing mystery-suspense, a little bit of action, and sexy alpha-sweet romance. However, some romance readers may be bothered by:

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

1.) The 1st time they saw each other was when heroine opened Hero's door & their eyes met while he was banging some chick from behind as her tattoo payment. Before heroine came in, Hero was rapidly losing his erection. But, when he 1st sees heroine, his erection revitalized & he was able to finish with the OW rapidly while heroine is watching.
2.) After their 1st & only date where both had fun & Hero told her how much she meant to him & how he wanted their relationship to work, heroine caught Hero with his pants down his ankles with some woman in between his legs about to reach for his genitals.  
3.) heroine's attempted rape by a homeless man, who Hero killed before he could rape her. 4.) heroine DOES get raped towards the end by the man seeking vengeance against Hero. Probably got about a couple thrusts in before Hero barged in & shot his head off 
(I found this part REALLY unnecessary. Being stabbed on her thigh & held captive for a few minutes plus a rape attempt would've been plenty violence & angst to show that heroine is indeed a strong survivor. The 2 thrusts in by the bad guy was not only superfluous but ruined the book for me. 1 big star off for this.)
5.) heroine only had sex once before she had sex with Hero. She was 15, when she gave up her virginity to her male best friend (who became her boyfriend (BF)) because she thought he was gonna die soon from his leukemia. Condom was used but it leaked (more about this in Book 2 spoilers). Thus, her teen pregnancy.
6.) Condom use with Hero seems varied. He used it with the woman he was banging when he 1st saw heroine. But he obviously didn't use it all the time in all his man-whoring years because he got 1 of his sex buddies pregnant & found out that he had a baby girl while he was in prison.  
7.) heroine was attracted to Hero's good friend (Bear) & wished he became her biker protector before she was met Hero. But Bear sent her to Hero's room instead as his welcome-back-home-from-prison gift. Later, when Hero was on 1 of his push-away-heroine mode, Bear propositioned heroine to be his girl & she was actually considering it because:   
          1. she was attracted to him, although not as much as she is with Hero 
          2. she was sick & tired of Hero's mind games with her
 
              -----------------------------------------------END SPOILERS---------------------------------

 
I loved heroine's character. She was a straight-shooter who asked lots of questions & set clear limits. She may have been frail, thin, & really hungry from her 1-year homelessness & amnesia. But she was a strong 18-year-old. She wasn't whiny & stayed helpless. She actively sought resolution & able to move on instead of remaining stuck. She wasn't a doormat but neither was she an aggressor. I loved how she set clear limits on what she was willing to allow yet was flexible to opportunities. She was the type of woman that could handle big, hulking alpha-aggressor Hero.

 
Hero was a lawless man who's skirted the law many times, landing him in jail/prison on occasion since his teens. He came from a neglectful home, with a druggie mother with her varied boyfriends. It was part of his saving grace to meet his 2 best friends in his middle-school & teen years. Their trio created illegal businesses that allowed them to have money & party all the time. His last stint in prison for 3 years seemed to produced a changed in his previous lifestyle, especially now that he wanted to be an active part of his daughter's life. So, his meeting heroine just sped up the inner changes in him. I liked him. But I didn't like his wishy-washy commitment to heroine. Yes, it was new for him. Yes, he was scared & hesitant. But he talked big, when he was with her. Only to push her away time & time again. He was giving me whiplash. And I loved that heroine confronted him on it too.

Cliffhanger ending: 

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

Hero traded heroine over to her senator father for permanent custody of his daughter. Sounds like a jerk move but not really. His best friend was just killed & heroine raped, after the revenge crisis at Hero's house. Hero realized that he had to stop being selfish and reveal her real identity to her so she can go back to her more luxurious & far safer life with her family. He blamed himself for her rape & realized that his lifestyle could get her endangered again. Thus, his sending her back to her family was his way of protecting her. He just didn't expect that her former boyfriend with be there at the trade. Or her son. Or that, instead of getting his daughter back, he'd be cuffed & carted off to who-knows-where.  

I have 2 questions about all of this:
1.) If it was dangerous for heroine to continue living with him, wouldn't also be dangerous for his little daughter to live with him too? Wouldn't she also be used as a pawn to blackmail or take down Hero by his enemies?
2.) How exactly did Hero recognize heroine's identity? Did he see her before or photos of her? He seemed to know that her father was a senator. But how did he know that? Either I totally missed this part (& I 'm too lazy to re-read) or it wasn't explained.

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

The cliffhanger ending with heroine meeting her old & forgotten past was intriguing. Although this book had some loose ends & the romance could've been tighter, I enjoyed it enough & was curious to know how Hero and heroine would be reunited.  

I moderately recommend this book.
3-star 


**UPDATE: My review of BOOK 2 (Tyrant) is on Goodreads, click here.