BLOG REVIEW: Virgin Romance Novelist by Meghan Quinn

 *1.5-stars
SPOILER-y Plot:

23yo virgin journalist heroine (h) wanted to be sexually experienced now, especially since she's writing a romance novel with descriptive sex scenes. Her roommate & best friend, 20s advertising editor Hero (H), is helping coach her. H gives her erotic ebooks & her 1st vibrator & signing her up for online dating to help her along. But she finds it odd that he'd oppose a couple of her dates as well as keep offering to be her sex teacher since they'd been such good friends for years & she looked nothing like the women H hooks up with. His kissing her only added to her confusion but she believed it was just a fluke as well as possible proof that he may really be a “virgin chaser” like her female BFF suspects him to be. Until their secret flirtations at her parents' house 1 weekend turned into more, when they got back to their empty apartment. He devirginized her, after answering her myriad questions about sex & his body & letting her experiment on him. However, a phone message by 1 of her dates (OM) made H become distant from h, when she told him that OM wanted to take her out again.

Hero told heroine to call the OM back to set up her date, making h feel confused coz she thought H wanted a serious romance with her after all his sex talk. When she confronts him about his brush off, H told her he's just moving on & she accuses him of being a “cherry chaser” & just answers her sarcastically. When her friends told her that H was likely protecting himself from hurt due to her talking about OM wanting to date her again right after she & H just smexxed, she felt bad & went to H to apologize & make things right. But his ex-GF open his bedroom door with only H's shirt on with H was lying shirtless on his bed, giving her news that H asked her to live with him in his new apartment. She leaves but H goes after her to ask her why she wanted to see him & h just told him it was to return his shirt coz he's packing his stuff for his move. He asked her if she was still going out with OM & she told him it was none of his business & that she regretted sleeping with him since it now broke their friendship. H tried to talk to her but she just wished him a good move & good life with his GF. 

Heroine was depressed for days & wouldn't leave her room until her female BFF threatened her to get out & get cleaned up & ended up taking her to Hero's apartment building & leaving. She saw many picture frames on H's mantle of her & him together. H apologized for being a jerk to her & involving his ex-GF coz he thought she wanted to date OM. He told her ILY(I love you) & asked her to move in with him. She said her ILY & happy to live with H. The end. 

* 242 pgs
* skimmed last 60% coz chick-lit feel focused on h trying to gain sexual experience with her various dates & with help of her roommates H & female BFF & seemed more pathetic than it was humorous
* writing felt too cheesy & contrived to be funny & only worked in a couple dialogue for me (i.e., lots of cat humor, awkward body parts & body function humor)
* some of the humor ended up creating emotional distance instead of pulling me emotionally into the story & chars (i.e., calling her vagina “Virginia” & talking & referring to it like it's a separate person)
* other parts of author's writing was average to good but the whole premise of the romance & characters didn't do it for me
* H was a nice guy & was a bit more emotionally ready than h but not by much. He was quick to get prideful & turn to OW when he'd get discouraged by h instead of steadily showing her his devotion & fidelity
* didn't like that h's dates turned into her quest to gain some sexual experience (I.e, oral sex, kissing, etc) per what she's being taught by her friends & some contemporary erotic books she's reading coz they ended making her seem like a user of her dates
* h seemed very self-absorbed & used people willy-nilly without any remorse or embarrassment
* h acted & thought like an immature college student. Her seeming sexual naivete wasn't cute at all & didn't make sense given how she's been influenced & surrounded by her 2 very experienced & verbally-open roommates & her worldliness shows in her speech coz she cusses & made dirty jokes like her roommies
* didn't like the cheap rationale of her sheltered homeschool background as reason for her sexual naivete coz she's been out of her house & in NYU for 5 years with very citified & worldly peers & the internet & NYC at her fingertips so for her to only read her mom's antiquated romance novels & google everything else except for a penis picture or porn & have no clue about ebooks & contemporary books was not believable for a supposedly avid romance-reader & sex-enquirer like her
* her romance with H was probably only 15% of the book & seemed like another impulsive act on her part to date all these guys & have no problems licking some stranger's balls & be oraled by another strange man & then
* when things didn't work out with all her dates, she's suddenly into H & soon realized she's really in love with him
* H&h's romance was NOT believable & more lust-with-frienship than deep abiding love coz    ....
1.) she gave no thought to whatever feelings she may have for H when she was with her other dates
2.) H who supposedly had been in love with h since they met 5 years ago had no problems smexxing a whole bunch of OW & smexxing his ex-GF & asking her to move in with him THE DAY AFTER(!) he & h 1st smexxed. 
3.)  showed how little love h felt for H to not even feel jealous or hurt that he smexxed his ex-GF right after their supposed intimate sexual connection when he devirginized her

BLOG REVIEW: Tutor by K.D. Grace

***3-stars
SPOILER-y Plot:

Late-20s/early-30s fiction writer heroine (h) has moonlighted as a no-touch sex tutor the last 4 years & is reluctantly hired by touch-phobic famous sculptor, recluse 35yo Hero (H). H struggled with his phobia since after the car accident that killed his beloved mom when he was 10. If anyone tried to touch him, he would get very panicky, have vertigo, faint, and throw up. His touchable sculptures expresses his desire for touch. He specifically tries to assuage his out-of-control masturbation needs thru his creation of his private erotic sculptures. Her 1st session with H is filled with frank questions & answers about sex & masturbation by both of them, getting h uncharacteristically hot & bothered that she ends up mutually masturbating with clothes on with H & then falling asleep in the same room. She's so appalled by her unprofessional behavior that she leaves him asleep & tells her secretary to cancel all appointments with H with a brief note of apology to him of her unprofessional acts. 

Hero's best friend (BFF) & loyal household staff planned to get H&h back together, seeing how good heroine is for Hero. They find out from his BFF's cousin that h is a die-hard fan of H's art & get her & her BFF tickets to a booked charity auction in Portland. H's artist name is different than the name he gave her as her client so she was in total surprise to see him not only attend his 1st ever public appearance as the artist but make a speech while looking directly at her. She was shocked to see him make his way directly to her thru the crowds with a full flank of bodyguards around him until a pesky reporter almost touches him while peppering him with questions. He looked like he was about to faint & throw up & she along with his BFF-PA help him quickly exit out of the crowded mass. They become trapped at his estate the next few days due to the papparazzi outside his & her house partly due to the fake engagement scheme his BFF-PA & her BFF-secretary told to the press. It allowed H to show h his life & let her see both is hunger & fear of touching a woman. She helped normalize his desires & fears yet also encourage him to get closer to her bit by bit with him (i.e., H sitting/lying down closer to her, her feeding him with her spoon, mutual masturbation with partial nudity). H's frequent nightmares re: the car accident with her mom & hearing her teeth chatter from the wintry cold while part of his body is suffering from burns lead him to his erotic sculpture workshop. She follows him there & sees how his mental & emotional restlessness is assuaged by his creating his erotic sculptures & the masturbation that soon follows. 

Their growing intimacy heightens in how Hero is able to touch his erotic female sculpture and somehow make heroine feel that corresponding touch on her own body, leading both to many orgasms this way. The pesky reporter tries to make waves with info she dug up re: h's sex tutor job & her mom's background as well as H's car accident with his mom. She confronts the reporter about the full truth about her job & her mom's prostitution background while being inadvertently videotaped by h's BFF's young daughter. She needed some time to cool down so she goes to her cabin. H is worried about her so he & his BFF & her BFF drive to h's cabin & couldn't find her. H frantically looks for her in the woods & finds her cold & injured from a fall. He calls for help while leading h to a cave for shelter & warmth. He has both of them strip & actually touches & spoon with her inside a sleeping bag to warm her from potential hypothermia. Her chattering teeth produce dreams of the night of the car accident with his mom. This time he was able to fully remember all that happened that night & realized that his own father 1st found them at the accident site and was the 1 who extracted H out from below his mom's death body & left him out on the ground for someone else to find. He basically heard his father admit that he planned his mother to have a car accident since she was divorcing him but didn't know she was going to take H with her. Since H didn't remember his father being there that night & due to H's debilitating touch phobia, his father was never found guilty of involvement in his mom's death. His full knowledge of what happened & that he was in love with h was the fix needed to get over his touch phobia. As soon as the lawyers & their friends knew all about it, H finally got to touch & explore h the way they both wanted & hotly smex with a condom. They then agreed to get married & everyone's happy but not surprised. HEA.

*260
*good overall writing
*interesting/unique romance
*pacing was meh due to some fillers via H & h's friends/co-workers who were all helping H & rooting for their romance as well as the interfering nosy reporter stuff
*skipped some pages just to get to the stuff about H getting physically closer to h
*lots of self-pleasuring while watching each other or telling the other what they wanted to do to each other as well as H's touching the sculpture & h feeling it on her body
*the statue-touching that both could bodily feel had a wooh-wooh/paranormal-ish tinge 

*H a very different Hero coz not alpha but not really beta either coz H had a psychological problem that became a sexual problem
*H a virgin who was tutored in what a woman's body felt like/etc by h
*liked h's quiet but strong character that knew when to back off & when to advise
*don't know how many BFs/lovers h had but she had enough to give her the experience she needed to be a sex tutor
*ok-good Sex chemistry & emotionality
*some explicit Sex scenes but more gentler with a mix of technique and emotions
*could tell author is British due to certain non-typical American word usage like knickers & wank

BLOG REVIEW: Stiletto Secrets by Bella J.

***3.5-stars
SPOILER-y Plot:

Poor 24yo new maid heroine (h) was shocked to find out that her new boss is the stripclub client she danced for a few days ago, 26yo businessman Hero (H). He doesn't recognize her coz he was blindfolded when she danced and felt him up wearing stilettos in her Cinderella-shoes stripper-room, which H's best friend knew H would like due to H's stiletto-wearing-women fetish & thus gave h's strip dance as his bday gift. She's been secretly working as a stripper 1x a week for 2 months now to supplement her cashier income to help support her & her sister & help pay for her 19yo sister's law school. She's never been affected by a client until the night she danced anonymously for blindfolded H, who kept wanting to touch & see her because he's never been so turned on by a woman before.

Seeing him again as a maid with 2 women he 3somed with the night before in their opulent family mansion & his acrimonious relationship with his father made her see how different she & H really are. But she was touched by his kindness in bandaging her wound from dropping the tray & his flirty humor. H thought there was something familiar about h & thought her beautiful. Yet he couldn't get his mind off the “Cinderella” stripper so books her whole Saturday night & only experiences their sexual chemistry heighten as he gets her to break her stripper rules & lets him kiss & touch her while he's still blindfolded. She's torn about her secret dual identity with H but doesn't plan on telling him she's the Cinderella stripper coz didn't want to lose her needed maid job. 

But, as Hero unexpectedly reels heroine in his life by having her change out of her maid outfit into a gown so she can be his date at his dad's dinner party to dissuade this dad's plans to marry him off to a certain woman & include her to hangout with his 2 good male friends, she feels more tangled with H. Especially since he's showing great interest in her no matter that she's a maid. H is awed by the sacrifice & courage h has to support her & her sister after losing her parents & their wealthy lifestyle due to her stepmom's machinations. He also likes how carefree & simple she is compared to the materialistic & primping women he sleeps with. Their intense connection ends up with them hotly smexxing that night. H was amazed at the feelings h evokes in him that he's upset to see her gone from his bed the next morning. He grabs her from the kitchen where he found her doing her maid chores the next day & kisses her in the bathroom & demand that she never leave his bed ever again without telling him goodbye. She agreed & they hotly smex with H telling her that he wants to do her over & over again for a “ long long time”. 

Heroine's over the moon at their mutual & deepening connection but wondered if Hero will still go see Cinderella stripper. H becomes very torn about his feelings coz he now knows he's pretty much in love with h but still has unresolved feelings for Cinderella stripper who he still thinks about. He hires his good friend who's a private investigator (PI) to find out Cinderella stripper's ID. She reluctantly goes to work that Saturday night & feels wrong about dancing for other men. She resolved right then & there that this will be her last stripping gig no matter how much she needs the money. She's shocked that her 1st client is H's PI friend who told her she needs to disclose her stripper ID to H & that her stepsister hired him to get some dirty on her coz jealous that H is interested in h. She agrees to do so but H is suddenly announced as her next client who booked the next 6 months of her Saturday nights. She tells PI to hide in the back room then she lets H in who finally gets to see her but h has her mask on with her hair pulled back. He declares his desire for her & they kiss & stop with H telling her his anguish at being in love with another woman yet feeling very attracted to her at the same time. H leaves & h is feeling hurt & betrayed by H. Yet the PI told her she's betraying & lying to H too. So she needs to tell him her secret. 

Heroine was about to tell Hero her secret identity at the masked ball H invited her to. But when H sees her in her gown & mask, he thought she was Cinderella stripper & told her she shouldn't be there & to stop messing with his mind. She told him she was going to show him her face but he told her “no” & left ASAP & accosted by h's stepsister who told him that she knew he was only dating h to get his dad mad. He sarcastically repeated what she said & h heard him as she took off her mask. When he sees her face, he's stunned that Cinderella stripper was actually h but she was leaving with hurt in her eyes over what she heard him say to her stepsister about dating her. He tried to go after her but he's in full shock at who she really is.

She's heartbroken & quits her maid job & had to go back to her stripper job. H shows up as her client at her return to her stripper job & tells her his I Love You & they hotly smex. He then shows her the documents his PI found that showed his stepsister & dying stepmother as having fake names so h & her sister are the rightful heirs of their dad's company. HEA.

*175
*good writing & pacing
*great Sexual chem
*good emotionality with a bit of angst
*good romance development
*good explicit Ses with emotions/romance
*liked dual POVs coz show H&h's character esp since they hid their true feelings/thoughts from their outward actions
*likable chars with h who's strong & quiet & shy but has a wild naughty streak she lets out while working as stripper. She freely sacrificing for her sister without pity & feeling sorry for herself & is actually quite a content & peaceful person despite the downfall they've had over the years.
*liked H's character growth from aimless & brash playboy to a more focused, considerate & thoughtful man with h 
*loved how funny & cute it was for H to be shocked at that kinds of things he was thinking & saying about h because he's only every though of women as his sex toys with no soft/deep emotions involved
*liked the funny interactions between H & his 2 manwhore best friends 
*didn't like H booking Cinderalla stripper's gig the next 6 months when he was already supposedly in love with maid h. 
*didn't like H visiting Cinderella stripper that night to gain some closure so a 6-month booking is not closure & more like cheating so good thing that stripper & maid h was the same woman

It's Just Not Me After All

I've been out of the read-to-review business since my last My Thoughts post 3 years ago. 
Whew!
Such a relief because:

1.) no more review deadlines
2.) I get to read whatever I want at any time. Whenever I feel like it. Solely based on impulse.
3.) I write reviews as long or as short as I like. With complete honesty. 
4.) No more concerns about hurting or displeasing the author/publisher. Or wondering if the author/publisher will continue giving me future ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) or free books to review.

I've had no regrets since I cut the ARC cord. There are many book reviewers who likely don't have the same experiences or concerns as I did. So, kudos, to those who truly enjoy the read-to-review process & have no problems with it.

There are other book reviewers with similar experiences as me though. Today, I stumbled upon a blog post shared by a Goodreads friend (Hi, Bgurl! *waving*), which outlines 5 myths & realities of the read-to-review system from her experience from some authors she worked with. Here's the link to that blog article. It's too familiar and so true. It's great info for book reviewers and potential book reviewers. Those who want to continue on will be more discerning of the demands of certain authors & publishers. Those who want to be done with it can cut the core like I did & just read & review for pleasure. Your choice. But please be aware.

BLOG REVIEW: Blind Passion by Anne Mather

***3.5-stars
SPOILER-y Plot:
 
26yo office-assistant heroine (h) is secretly grateful but more stunned to find out that her one-night-stand (ONS) lover in London 10 years ago, 43yo banker Hero (H), doesn't recognize her now. Moreover, he's the father of her current boyfriend (BF), 22yo musician, who she's visiting Bermuda with to meet his family to assess if she wants to go further in their relationship. She doesn't inform either H or her BF about previously knowing H for fear of repercussions at finding out that her 9yo daughter is his. She can't find a good reason to shorten her trip there & go back home without arousing her BF's suspicions so she stays. H is baffled by her curt & avoidant attitude with him, when he's tried to be hospitable & get to know her as his son's girlfriend. He confronts her on it during his sister's art gallery party & she plays it off as nothing & spends some time with him at the party to make him less suspicious of her dislike of him. But it came up again during their yacht trip, when her BF got sick & asked H to entertain h. She avoided being close to H as much as she could & H finally asked her why she acted like he was so offensive. Their great tension erupts in H kissing h. He apologized & she told him to forget about it & she won't say anything to his son. 

She berated herself for still being attracted to Hero, esp since he didn't even remember her from that fateful night 10 years ago. To her shock, H tells her that kissing her jogged his memory of their ONS 10 years ago. She runs from him as soon they get back to shore in order to get her bearings. He goes after her to talk about why she didn't tell him who she was right away. She told him coz of her BF but he thinks there's more, despite her denial. He told her it makes sense why she's been so acrimonious towards him last 4 days coz she hasn't forgiven her. He also told her that he hasn't forgiven himself, realizing the next morning that she was not only gone but he didn't know her name & he was much older than her & that he devirginized her the night before. But he wanted to know why she left him without waking him up the next morning. She lied & told him it's coz he hurt her. 

What heroine didn't tell Hero was that the 1st time smexxing only hurt a pinch for a couple seconds. Although H only lasted 30 seconds before he pulled out & came on the bed, she still liked it & didn't reject him, even though he gave her a clear out a few times before he devirginized her. She enjoyed herself even more & orgasmed the 2nd time they smexxed bareback that night. She snuck out coz she had to go back to her parents home where she lived at that time. She didn't want H to know she still lived with her parents coz she lied to him about living with a roommate & lied about being older & financially independent too. What she also didn't tell him was that she was actually hoping that their ONS was the start of their romance. Ten years ago, she expected him to see her again or get in contact with her after their ONS since she told him where she worked. But H never came to see her in the next 6 weeks before her parents made her quit, after she told them she was preggo. What he didn't tell her til by the end was that he wanted to see h again but had to fly to US ASAP, after his divorce lawyer informed him that his soon-to-be-ex-wife absconded with their son to the US. H came back to see h at her workplace in London 2 months later but she'd already quit. 

Heroine tried to avoid her BF's hugs & kisses as much as possible since she now knew they were done. She didn't break up with him yet since she didn't want him to get suspicious of the timing of it. They've also never had sex & he wasn't pushing her to do so. He was fine with them merely touring around the islandsHero finds her alone at the beach the next day & they kiss again. They stopped when h realized that her BF just saw them & was going back inside the house. She told H she'd be the 1 to talk to BF. Her BF wasn't that upset re: her kissing his dad coz he just kissed another woman the night before & understood why h is breaking up with him. BF & h flew back to London that night without her talking to H about it privately & him not knowing that she & BF broke up. 1 month later, H surprised her at her apartment door. He told her that his son gave him her address & told her he did go after her 10 years ago. But, at finding her gone from her workplace, just let her go & regretted not going after her. He tells her his ILY (I love you). She was about to inform her re: their daughter but, when she saw H leaving, she calls him back & told him her ILY. H thought h was about to reject him but happy she loved him too  & hotly smexxed her. They hear her daughter & her mom back at h's apt right after they were done smexxing. At seeing & hearing h's daughter talk, H was in shock & left. He came back later that night & h told him why she didn't tell him re: their daughter. Epilogue...months later, H&h are married & living in London. Their daughter is getting used to H as her dad. Heroine tells h she's preggo & he's happy about it. HEA.

*142
*loved the non-formulaic & unique HP plot typical of Anne Mather
*pacing was slow at times (i.e., 1st 6 pages) esp with boring fillers (i.e., location descriptions, bathing & meal descriptions)  
*average Sex/emo chem in general but a couple intense ones (i.e., right before & during H&h's date & ONS)  
*general Sex descriptions but enough to be somewhat hot & get the point across
*unrealistic & insulting to h that H only recognized her when they kissed again 9 years later. Either she has "magic lips" or H is a connoisseur of women's lips.
*ok characters but wished they were fleshed out more coz seemed to be missing much about their character history/etc on their 10-year gap
*not discussed but more hinted that H had other lovers after h
*no info re: if h was H's 1st after & his wife separated
*good-enough emotionality
*didn't like that H wasn't so into h that he didn't even find out her name or where/why she left when he came back to see her 2 months after their ONS 
*h's impact on H wasn't all that great for him to not even recognize her for days until he kissed her. She may have slimmed down greatly & her hair not as red as before & her face 10 years older. If she meant much to H at all, he would've at least somewhat recognized her. His non-recognition of her until the kiss shows that he didn't think of h at all in the past 10 years.