Thursday, September 6, 2012

Facebook is GREAT... and Warlocks are sexy!!

So I was on Facebook the other morning, and most of the time I just ignore those ads off to the side because half the time they're nothing I'm really interested in.  I realize they are marketed towards my interests but really, when am I EVER going to wear five inch bright green hooker shoes?  Well, this morning was no different, I'm scrolling down my news feed and one of the ads catches my eye.  It's a B&N ad for a five book collection of two different series by author HP Mallory.  So the ad says I can get three books from one series and two books from another series for $2.99.  The two series are Jolie Wilkins and Dulcie O'Neill. Well can't beat five books for three dollars!  Here's hoping they're good, I thought.

The first book I read was from the Jolie Wilkins series.  So the premise is the main character, Jolie Wilkins, is a witch (but of course she doesn't know that yet).  She can see auras and glimpses of the future.  She's introduced to the Underworld (which consists of every supernatural being imaginable; warlocks, vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, faeries) by Rand a very powerful (and naturally extremely hot) warlock.  Jolie has a special gift that all the Underworld beings want...she is the only witch who can bring back the dead.

The book is written in first person and I think I'm starting to like this style of writing.  I used to hate it because I never knew what the other characters were thinking, but it's growing on me.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  The books are well written.  Characters are well developed.  And as most of you know by now, my favorite thing is dialogue, and this has some of the best spoken and inner dialogue I have read in a long time.  Jolie speaks like a 21st century American.  Not always proper English and lots of sarcasm (which is my favorite).

Oh, and Rand?  The HOTTEST warlock ever!  He's English so plus for the accent.  Tall, dark and ripped, and has a way with his mouth.  *sigh*, but he's not the only eye candy in this book.  Jolie (in the vane of Sookie Stackhouse) seems to have every major hunk from the Underworld after her, as well as a few not so pleasant characters.  There's Sinjin the vampire, he's my second favorite.  Also English, but sarcastic, and suggestive...certainly puts Eric Northman to the test.  Then there's Trent, the werewolf.  Although nothing will make me love another werewolf above Alcide, Trent is a werewolf you love to hate.  He's cocky and over confident which creates great banter between him and Jolie.

All in all it is so far a great book series.  There's of course an impending war that they all have to worry about in between trying to get Jolie in bed.  I can't wait to see how it all plays out.  Who she'll end up with ultimately and the outcome of the war.  I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a good series.  I don't know if that special is still available but check out HP Mallory any way for other books.  I know I will!  From one addict to another...happy reading!

Monday, August 6, 2012

On the Island...

I recently read On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves.  The title caught my eye when I was searching for books under the $5 price range (which is was when I first found it but later was regular price when I purchased it).  So I took a look at the synopsis and thought, wow I'm not sure how I feel about this story.

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man
. - Barnes & Noble

So you can see how it might be a little risque with this kind of set up.  So I began reading.  OH MY GOD!  It was the best book I've read since J.R. Ward's Lover Reborn came out!  I describe it as Blue Lagoon meets Castaway but in a really good way.  I finished this book in less than twenty-four hours.  I just could not put it down.

The book is really interesting in that although written in first person, each chapter alternates between Anna's viewpoint and T.J.'s.  Graves takes you on this great adventure and really captures the feeling of what it must be like to have to truly fend for each other and rely on another person to survive.  She does not make life on the island happy go lucky but rather intersperses happy times with the day to day survival of finding food, shelter, and water.  She shows that when two people are thrown into unbelievable circumstances they can work together to build a life together.

Anna is a confident, intelligent woman who at the beginning knows her role and knows the boundaries.  Over time this naturally changes as T.J. grows and gets stronger and more mature.  This development is really one of the driving themes of the book.  T.J. is a really great character, being only sixteen when the book starts he never really whines or complains.  He really steps up and tries to being a man when he is still just a boy.  Anna helps him go through this transition in a nurturing, "teacher" sort of way.  It is only after he truly becomes a man and begins to be the dominant one that her role and her life are changed.

As the roles reverse, Graves takes this and makes it into a beautiful love story that follows them throughout the book.  Although the sex in the book is not as graphic as some romance novels, they have been some of the most erotic I have ever read.  Mainly this is due to Graves' wonderful ability to make you really care about these characters.  They each have depth, and personality that makes the touching and kissing so much more belly tingling.  T.J. is very sexy.  His dialogue alone would make any woman's mouth water.  His growth into a man who becomes extremely protective of Anna makes him every woman's wet dream.  

I can not recommend this book enough.  If you are looking for a quick read at the pool in these last few days of summer you must make On the Island a must read.  From one addict to another... happy reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's my Birthday... I'll oogle if I want to

It's my birthday this Saturday and I'll be thirty-mumblemumblemumble years old and there have been a lot of changes in my life in the past few months so I thought this next blog post would fun and totally frivolous.  No real serious ideas or opinions (well I guess most of it is my opinion).  The idea for this blog came from the continued need for Hollywood to take really great reads and for the most part rip them to shreds.  There have only be a handful of books that I have seen successfully turned into movies or television and even then something happens along the way (especially in television) that ruins the story line.

But I digress, this was supposed to be a fun blog.  Well rumors are flying about the highly anticipated...I say sarcastically... movie deal for the 50 Shades of Grey movie.  Mainly "who will play Christian Grey?"  It seems that everyone and their brother is all "I'd play 50 Shades if asked"... Really, guys, really?  Have you read the books?  If they do make a movie I NEED the guy to have read the books, like the books, and truly identify with Christian.  I love this character, I don't want to see it destroyed or changed to fit a preconceived mold.  Of course that is how I feel about all the characters in my favorite books which is why I'm never really all that excited when I hear they're making a movie.  But what if they did make movies out of my favorite characters?  Who would I want to play these covetous roles?  And thus the LIST!  It was tough work searching through all of the sexy, steamy pictures of the actors I've chosen, but hey it's my birthday... I can oogle if I want to.

Black Dagger Brotherhood Series
Wrath - Jason Momoa

Rhage - Chris Hemsworth

Zsadist - Wentworth Miller

 Butch O'Neal - David Boreanaz

Vishous Son of the Bloodletter - Jonathan Rhys Meyers (although he'd have to bulk up a bit he has V's eyes so he wins!)

Haven't come across anyone who fits best for Phury, Manny, Tohrment, Rehvenge, John Matthew, Qhuinn or Blay but maybe that'll be another post.

Dark Hunter Series
Vane Kattalakis - Joe Manganiello (sorry Joe I know it's another werewolf but you play them so well!)

Acheron - Francois Arnaud

Some of my other favorite books...
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: James Fraser - James McAvoy

Widow Woman by Patricia McLinn: Nick Dusaq -Joe Manganiello (yes I know I've used him before but I'm biased and it is my birthday and I really wanted to give him a role that wasn't a werewolf or a stripper)

Finally I will weigh in with everyone else on who I feel would look the most like Christian Grey and who I also think would be able to actually do him justice.  Some may not agree but again, it's my birthday not theirs.  And the coveted title of  dom Christian Grey goes to... *drum roll*

HENRY CAVILL!!! Yes superman would be perfect.  He's just the right age has all the right coloring from his eyes to his hair and he has this way of looking wicked and wounded but sexy and dominating at the same time.  Here are just some highlights of his attributes.  You be the judge if he fits the mold for Fifty Shades...

So these are some of the few actors I actually picture when I'm reading.  I've recently started Game of Thrones but I've already watched the television series so naturally the characters look like the actors in the show but honestly the books are so good I'd have to agree with those they cast.  So here's some nice eye candy for those of you who might like to have a visual of the characters you've read about.  From one addict to another... happy reading!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wolves and Vamps... No need to choose sides

The supernatural genre of romance has exploded recently.  I guess we can all blame the debate between Team Edward and Team Jacob but honestly I think this subject matter goes back much farther than that.  Perhaps it's more apt to decide if you are team Lycaon or Team Lillith.  If you really want to be accurate though you don't have to be either team.  Ancient folklore indicates that vampires and werewolves are not natural enemies but rather have an equal co-existence, sometimes actually being one in the same.  But my question is not whether vampires are better or sexier than werewolves, although I don't think I can pick a side since they both carry their own individual erotic punch.  My question is why do we find them so fascinating and darkly sexual?  Where did this begin?

First let me point out a few basic origins for each myth starting with werewolves.  According to Wikipedia, the concept of a werewolf (or "man-wolf") may have it's origins as far back as ancient Greece in the myth of Lycaon who was cursed by the God Zeus to become a wolf.  This was after he attempted to serve pieces of his son to the god in order to determine if he really was a deity or not.  A far cry from the sexy werewolves of today's fiction, movies, and television but it does pose an interesting catalyst for why we have made them sexy romantic heroes.  Cursed by a god,  and being misunderstood make for great romance fodder (what with women wanting to "save" the heroes from themselves and their lonely existence). 

Werewolf then...
Through the years though werewolves became monsters not heroes.  In the early Christian church, often times people were cursed to be werewolves by both good and bad angels for evil deeds they had done.
 "All angels, good and bad have the power of transmutating our bodies" was the dictum of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Again there is this idea that a man does not choose to become a werewolf but that he is cursed and may need to atone for whatever wrong he has committed.  Naturally he needs a woman  to provide a source of redemption that may cure him or offer him a way to end his solitary existence.  Great!  Sign me up?  Not so fast, obviously there has to be more to it than just saving him, what about his other attributes and the sexual excitement?  What does folklore say about this or even past literature?  Interestingly there is not a lot about that except that most of the folklore surrounding werewolves and shape-shifters in general indicates that they gain super human and super animal strength.
 In some fiction, the power of the werewolf extends to human form, such as invulnerability to conventional injury due to their healing factor, super-human speed and strength and falling on their feet from high falls. Also aggressiveness and animalistic urges may be intensified and harder to control (hunger, sexual arousal). 
 Wait! What did that just say...intensified and harder to control (hunger, sexual arousal)? Well there it is.  The second requirement for a romance novel hero.  Excessive strength, speed, healing and intensified sexual arousal.  This is why I think women find these characters irresistible.  The idea that these men can both protect their woman but also service her appropriately has great appeal.  Although most of the literature and folklore surrounding werewolves depicts them as monsters and revolve around curses rather than erotic imaging there are a few folk tales out there that indicate that sex is part of their curse (most often it is these same folk tales that depict werewolves and vampires as the same creature)

According to the first dictionary of modern Serbian language (published by Vuk Stefanović-Karadžić in 1818) vukodlak / вукодлак (werewolf) and vampir / вампир (vampire) are synonyms, meaning a man who returns from his grave for purposes of fornicating with his widow.

Werewolf now...
Well that gives a whole new meaning to the Merry Widow.  I really think in regards to the erotic depictions of werewolves and shape shifters in general, it has been the modern supernatural genre that has been responsible for the explosion of shape-shifter and were-animal romance.  Many authors pay homage to the myths and folklore of the past.  This can be seen not only in the written genre but also in television and movies.  In Nicky Charles's werewolf series she eludes to the old myth that werewolves are born that way and that it can not be contracted.  She doesn't delve into how they came into existence.  She does give them the improved strength, speed, healing and sexual arousal making for some very steamy animalistic scenes.  This has been true with many of the shape-shifter books, television and movies I've read and watched.  Some these have been Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter Series (curse), Trueblood/Sookie Stackhouse Series (born that way).  The only one that suggests that to become a werewolf you have to be attacked by one is Being Human but even that implies that there are were-animals out there that are born that way.  In all though, each of these stories maintain inhuman strength, speed, and over the top sex.

Therein lies that real reason I think werewolves have evolved to rival vampires in the erotic realm.  Animalistic, uncontrolled, unfettered sexual desire and strength.  As I've said before women want to be claimed in bed by a strong alpha type male.  I think it's instinctual.  The caveman who killed the most beasts and protected his mate went on to procreate and make more cavemen.  It has been proven that women sought out men that they felt would pass on these more alpha traits.  Be that as it may, as the world evolved from cavemen to business men so did women.  We became more alpha ourselves and didn't need the big, bad caveman to help us survive.  But that drive is still there, so we look for it in our entertainment and find it in the fairly taboo idea of being dominated by that alpha male (which lets face it is not something we 21st Century women want to admit).

So that explains that draw for team wolf, but what about team vampire?  There must be reasons why vampires have dominated our psyche for centuries.  The origins of the vampire myth are so old and so varied it's hard to pinpoint an exact culture which originated this myth.  Every culture around the world has some version of the undead rising to live off the blood of the living.  Unlike werewolves, however, vampires have caused mass hysteria around the world on several occasions.  The first recorded vampire activity was in what is now modern day Croatia.
1672.[79] Local reports cited the local vampire Giure Grando of the village Khring near Tinjan as the cause of panic among the villagers.[80] A former peasant, Guire died in 1656; however, local villagers claimed he returned from the dead and began drinking blood from the people and sexually harassing his widow.

Vampire then...
See even back then vampires were sexual creatures.  The mythology on this goes back even farther to ancient Greece and even Aztec mythology which also suggests a sexual facet to their vampire legend.
Aztec mythology described tales of the Cihuateteo, skeletal-faced spirits of those who died in childbirth who stole children and entered into sexual liaisons with the living, driving them mad
 So the idea that vampires would make for great romance subject matter has been well documented for centuries.  Still, why does the idea of the undead, drinking blood or turning into a vampire create such a sense of eroticism in  the audience?  Simple, immortality and ever-lasting love.  Most romance novels give the impression of the lonely vampire who is forced to live for millennia alone, as a truly sad and tragic fate.  But wait!  Along comes that one woman who will sustain him and keep him and save him from his lonely existence.  We all want to be that one woman.  I mean don't we marry with the belief that it will be forever, till death do we part?  But what if that love could last many lifetimes?  Although in truth probably not the great fantasy it portrays, but on some level because of our fear of death and the unknown it seems romantic to be able to keep the life we have now.  Psycho-analyst Ernest Jones in 1931 said this about the vampire mystique:
"vampires are symbolic of several unconscious drives and defence mechanisms. Emotions such as love, guilt, and hate fuel the idea of the return of the dead to the grave. Desiring a reunion with loved ones, mourners may project the idea that the recently dead must in return yearn the same. From this arises the belief that folkloric vampires and revenants visit relatives, particularly their spouses, first."
"People identify with immortal vampires because, by so doing, they overcome, or at least temporarily escape from, their fear of dying."
Finally Jones notes that when more normal aspects of sexuality are repressed, regressed forms may be expressed, in particular sadism; he felt that oral sadism is integral in vampiric behaviour.
Vampire now...
So are we repressed?  The explosion of the supernatural romance genre not to mention the report from NBC news citing the rise of erotica and romance since the introduction of the e-reader, seems to suggest that even in this day of equal rights and supposed sexual liberty, women are not feeling as un-repressed as we maintain.  The idea that a book like 50 Shades Of Grey can spark such controversy because of the BDSM nature of the story, seems to suggest some repression.  Believe me, some of the stuff in 50 Shades is tame compared to what is out there.  For example; Taking Instruction by Cheyenne McCray makes 50 Shades look like your boring Harlequinn romance.  It's not as well written I will admit but if we're just going by the sex and taboo BDSM topic alone it's definitely more descriptive.

Vampires also fulfill that need to look at our more dark desires of immortality and ever-lasting love.  And I personally think there's no greater erogenous zone than a neck, so I guess I'm a little biased in the vampire direction.  But on the grand scheme of things, although werewolves have some catching up to do in the romance department, they also make for very sexy, drool worthy heroes.  It's not necessary to say you prefer wolves to vampires, honestly you can like them both!  Both provide the reader with the opportunity to relish two very primal urges.  One allows them to get lost in the idea of a strong alpha male claiming them as their own and the other offers the get out of death free card along with some pretty core tingling necking.  Take a page from Trueblood's Sookie Stackhouse, vampires at night weres during the day. She's had them all and doesn't appear to be choosing sides.  I think that's how I'm going to enjoy my supernatural genre.  Now when zombies start to become erotic, romantic heroes, I may have to rethink my opinion on why we like those supernatural men. From one addict to another...happy reading!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Wall action - The Height of a romance novel

So if the average man is between 5'7 and 5'10 it only stands to reason that the men in romance novels are NOT in this average.  I mean really, who wants to read about an average size guy with average size attributes?  We get that everyday.  So what I've learned is that the average height of a romance hero is between 6' and 6'8 (this was how tall Acheron was in the Dark Hunter series and the tallest of the men of any series I've read).

Naturally, the height is also indicative of the size of other more impressive male areas.  Again who wants to read about average.  But really even if they're over 6 feet does it really come up to their belly buttons (even soft)?  In Magic Mike it was assumed that Big Dick Richie's could but he did use the aid of certain enhancing equipment.  In the books there's no enhancing equipment there's just all natural well endowment.  Naturally of course the women are intimidated by all that height and length and width.  The length and width thing I get, who wouldn't be intimidated by a penis that is basically half as long as a woman's torso?  But why be intimidated by height, I am sooo not!  There is something so sexy and exciting about having a man tower over you, who could protect you from whatever may threaten you.  Not to mention that in addition to being extremely tall and well endowed they're totally ripped.  No surprise there either.  This facilitates one of my favorite romance novel love making positions - held up against a wall/being carried/standing up.  The men in these books need to be extraordinarily tall so that any woman (be they short or tall) will be able to fantasize about a towering male who takes her in an uncontrolled passionate embrace and slams her up against the wall holding here there while his other talents go to work, also the women are never quite as intimidated from that point on.  Here are some excerpts from some of my favorite scenes:

"Pulling her further into his arms, he pushed her back against the shower wall and plunged inside her in one swift motion" - The Lottery  by Alexandra O'Hurley
"Oh, fuck the paperwork," he growls.  He lunges at me, pushing me against the wall of the elevator.  Before I know it, he's got both of my hands in one of his in a viselike grip above my head, and he's pinning me to the wall using his hips." 50 Shades of Grey by E.L.James
"There was only the briefest of pauses...and then John started pumping again - 
No, He was carrying her to the bed in the darkened room, the motion of his striding thighs pushing him inside of her and pulling him free and pushing him back" - Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
"Abruptly, he pictured her naked and up against the wall, her legs spread, her hair unbraided, her hands cupping her breasts.  Like a good boy, he was on his knees..." - Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward

These are just a few.  Many of the my favorite scenes revolve around this type of claiming.  There's something so raw and commanding about having a guy be able to not only lift you and take you but sustain it throughout.  I used to be a much bigger girl than I am now and I think this got me excited because I really wanted someone to be able to sweep me up like that.  But it really is much easier for a tall man to do this I would think what balance and all (but I could be wrong... maybe it's just something I fantasize about).  Climbing a guy as tall as you is sort of like climbing a bush instead of a tall tree, the tree is much more exciting, and I do like heights!
Alexander Skarsgard

Joe Manganiello
So lest you think there aren't any men out there that can "measure up" here is a list of some hot "real" men who meet the criteria of a romance hero (at least in height... I haven't had the pleasure of researching the other attributes in person so I can only speculate).
Francois Arnaud
Channing Tatum
  • Joe Manganiello - 6'5
  • Channing Tatum - 6'1
  • Alexander Skarsgard - 6'4
  • Christopher Meloni - 6'0
  • Chris Hemsworth - 6'3 (could be Rhage)
  • Jason Momoa - 6'4 (definitely Wrath)
  • Taylor Kitsch - 6'0
  • Matthew McConaughey - 6'0
  • Francois Arnaud - 6'2
  • Wentworth Miller (who should really play Zsadist) - 6'1
  • Hugh Jackman - 6'2
  • Nathan Fillion - 6'1
  • Zak Bagans - 6'1
  • Gerard Butler - 6'2
  • Jensen Ackles - 6'1
  • Henry Cavill - 6'1
Several of them have been on my list of five but mostly they're just a sample of the hot "real" men that meet romance novel criteria for that "up against the wall" excitement.  Although I don't always imagine actors in the roles of my favorite men, rarely do they actually look like what I picture. Perhaps some of you might like a little inspiration when you're in the throws of some great "wall" action. From one addict to another... Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Brothers - Rhage

 Lover Eternal is the second book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  Although it can be read separate from the other books it's still best if read in order.  So we've learned all about the vampire culture and species.  We've met the king and ultimate queen of the race.  We have also met the other brothers as well as the enemies they face.  As stated before J.R. Ward does an amazing job of getting you interested in the other characters while she's writing the main love story.

In book two we get to know Rhage and Mary.  Rhage is the playboy of the group (not that the other guys are slouchers in bedding the opposite sex).  He's affectionately nicknamed Hollywood by the brothers because of his movie star good looks and smooth moves with the ladies (both human and vampire) and due to some nasty curse by the Scribe Virgin he has to release excess energy through sex of fighting (Butch a human who has been allowed into the group quips when he witnesses the curse first had that he needs to remember never to get between Rhage and a woman again).  Needless to say he goes through women like a black dagger goes through a lesser.  What you learn is that although it seems that Rhage has it made in the sex department, he's lonely and actually jealous of the other brothers who have shellans (that being Tohrment and Wrath at this point).  Naturally his curse doesn't allow him to get to close to someone because he's always afraid he'll inadvertently turn into a dragon and eat the woman (and not in a good way).

As with all of the boys he's HOT!  Well built with blond hair and blue eyes, they describe him as more handsome than Brad Pitt (which isn't that hard to do lately... Brad is not aging that well).  I have to tell you that after seeing Thor, Chris Hemsworth is the spitting image of Rhage!  And he's got the attitude to play him.  So picture that scene in Thor when Chris comes out in just a pair of tight jeans and no shirt and that's pretty much how you can picture Rhage.  But I digress... Rhage is a great asset to the Brotherhood, his ability to wipe out a major group of lessers is often extremely helpful.  So how do we help him through his loneliness and yearning for a shellan?  Simple we bring in the human!

Mary is human.  No vampire DNA anywhere.  She's also dying of cancer.  But her caring heart and extremely insane calmness at being informed not only do vampires and undead human enemies exist, but one of these vampires has decided that he wants her (scars and unimpressive looks and all).  Lucky girl!  She meets Rhage after she befriends a pre-trans vampires (unknown to her and the pre-trans at the time) and thinks she's taking him to meet some martial arts experts.  This is the introduction of John Matthew.  He will get much more involved as the series goes on along with the introduction of his best friends Qhuinn and Blaylock (boy are they a post for another time!)

Of course the romance between Rhage and Mary is fraught with peril and the ever present threat of her dying of the leukemia.  The best thing about this book is it's the funniest of all the books.  Rhage had a great sense of humor and Mary is sarcastic and quick witted.  The inner dialogue is about as quippy as the the banter between Rhage and the other brothers as well as his sexy bedroom talk with Mary.  For a change it's actually Rhage who gets chained up (so for those of you who like be a little more Christian Grey than Ana Steele this should appeal to you), but of course it's for Mary's own safety.  Yeeeeaaaaahhhhh right!  This book also sets up the next book in that it introduces the heroine of that book in the character of Bella.  The way the book ends just pushes you into reading the third book.  The third book is the most intense as far as emotion and back story of the vampire Zsadist.  If you've picked up the series with Wrath and Beth, then keep reading because there are more characters introduced in the next few books as well as development of story lines for future books.  Lover Eternal is a great read by itself but really continues the saga of this group of brothers who are trying to save their race and themselves in the process.
Book Two of Black Dagger Brotherhood Series

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why romance/erotica novels?

Be more controversial.  That's what my husband suggested to me when coming up with blog posts.  I thought, I don't want to offend anyone!  But really if it's my opinion and I'm not forcing you to agree or disagree I can't really offend you.  He suggested I read other blogs and respond to them (whether I agree or disagree) so I've read a few but what I feel like responding to is not just people's impressions of romance/erotica novels but my own friends and family who are truly baffled by my insane enjoyment of them.

First a few impressions:
1. Romance novels give an unrealistic expectation of relationships.
This is true, but really isn't that the point!?  And isn't saying romance novels gives women unrealistic expectations of relationships the same as saying those violent video games make kids violent (and we all know the debate on that one)?

Recently I read a blog that indicated that woman are demanding that their boyfriends/husbands be and act more like Christian Grey and then are disappointed when they don't give them everything they want and spankings are not as tingly as they had imagined.  Really?  This is really what women are thinking when they read this book?  I for one feel that I am intelligent enough to know the difference between real life and fiction.  I may not show it when I go rushing off into the woods looking for Alcide while I'm on vacation but eventually I come back to reality.  Honestly!  I am fully aware that Christian and Ana are fictional characters.  I do not expect my husband (who is not a 28 year old CEO with a great body) to cater to my every whim every time I cry (although I can't say I haven't tried, but I did that BEFORE 50 Shades, what woman hasn't used tears every now and then).  My relationship with him is WORK!  Yes there is love and fun but mostly it's hard work and who wants to read about that?  And what is wrong with trying to recreate some of the more erotic scenes from the book or any of the books I've read?  I am ALL for that!  If it's not your cup of tea then you move on to something else.  But every relationship needs some spice and newness too it.  I really would like to try the two sets of handcuffs (one to each wrist and ankle) but it doesn't have to be on a boat in Monte Carlo.  Will I like it?  Who knows?  But at least I've tried and had fun doing it.

Isn't it the newness of a relationship and attraction that makes your stomach flutter and your -insert every creative word for vagina here- start to tingle? Of course these relationships are unrealistic but you could say that about every love song ever written, every popular country song that has ever been sung, and every Disney movie ever made creates an unrealistic view of relationships.  I don't see these industries suffering for creating this illusion so someone somewhere must enjoy them. 

2. Romance novels are all the same.
Aren't all fiction books the SAME?  Give me one fiction book written in the last twenty years that has a truly original plot.  Every genre has their own formula and most authors stick with those formulas.  Really if you're a big mystery fan haven't you figured out the way plots work in every mystery novel?  Same is true of action suspense, horror, fantasy, sci-fi.

Typically boy meets girl, girls thinks boy is HOT, boy thinks girls is sexy as hell.  Then there's major misunderstandings, boy loses girl and must win girl back.  Ultimately there is an HEA (Happily Ever After) and in the middle if you're lucky some great steamy sex!

All the men are tall, well built and very well endowed and even if they're virgins they know exactly how to get a woman where they need to be.  All of the women are fairly non-descript I believe, so that women reading the books can picture themselves in the book.

So, true, there are no big surprises and you know they'll end up together in the end but it's in between that's exciting just like any other fiction book.

3. It's porn for women
I'll concede this impression but it's the kind of porn women would want to watch.  The blog I indicated above claimed that 50 Shades degraded women more than any guy porn movie.  But let's exam why this is not necessarily true.

First there's a plot in romance books.  I know, I know guys don't want a plot.  I get that but if you're going to say you're not objectifying women why don't the women have more depth then how deep their throats are?  Ana maybe ditzy and clumsy but at least you know who she is and not just how many times she can be pounded in a five minute clip. I know I'm not alone in saying that women are more cerebral in their sexual arousal and need cognitive and verbal stimulation in addition to visual and physical stimulation.

Second there is just as much focus on the man as there is on the woman in a romance/erotica novel.  The one thing I can't stand about watching porn is that rarely is the guy featured (and when he is it's not always pretty).  I get that too.  Porn's major audience is men and men don't (always) like to watch other men.  Well guess what boys... WE DO! And we don't want to have to go the gay porn route.  A romance/erotic novel gives us that focus on the man as well.  We don't really care if a man wouldn't actually be thinking the things they think or say in the books or that they really would not be able to formulate anything more coherent than a grunt let alone sexy banter as they climax.  If men only need to see the actually in and out women need to  hear the sexy words along with the in and out (something you'll never find in a real porn film... believe me I've looked).

My enjoyment of this genre is for pure entertainment value.  I don't want to have to process really deep material when I'm relaxing by the pool.  I like being transported to these worlds for the brief time it takes to read them.  Does it create unrealistic expectations? Maybe, but no more than romantic comedies, love songs and Disney movies.  Are they all the same? Yes, but again no more than any other genre.  It is porn for women? Yes, but I don't think they demean women any more than porn movies do.  I know it's fiction and don't expect my husband to be more like the characters in the books (some would impossible what with many of them being wolves and vampires) but I will confess that sex has been must more exciting and creative since I began reading so voraciously over the last two years.  I'm more uninhibited and my husband will tell you that he "read a study that said men who's wives read romance novels get twice as much sex as those whose wives don't... and that is why I bought her a Nook and can definitely say the study is true".  So say what you want in regards to the ridiculousness of romance novels, I will continue to enjoy them and my man will reap the benefits. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Free books can be awesome

Being broke most of the time but still needing to feed my nook addiction I often put in the search for "free romance" and have found MANY free books that I would never have found in a store!  Some times you get what you pay for but other times you find some really great gems.  Many times the free books are short and full of typos but hey they're free so you just delete those and move on to others.  I was really lucky with my first free books.  Here's a run down of the Werewolf Series by Nicky Charles.

I found Nicky Charles when looking for free nook books.  The first book in the series I found was The Mating.  Naturally it sounded rather erotic so I thought let's give it a try.  You know it's gonna be a hot and steamy book when there is hot and steamy werewolf sex within the first chapter!  The premise is that two packs make an alliance and the daughter of one pack leader is betrothed to the alpha of another pack.  Naturally the daughter doesn't want this responsibility and is afraid of what this alpha will be like.  That is of course until she meets him.  Yep, you guessed it he's tall, hot, ripped and knows how to use his animal instincts in some very creative ways.  Although at first glance you think "oh my God this is nothing but sex"  (which I wasn't complaining about) but if you keep reading you get a much  more in depth story that is full of pack threats, politics and great shifting action.

You also meet the other members of the pack and like I've said before I love this in a series.  It's what makes you want to continue on with the other books.  Getting caught up in the stories of the other characters is really what drives a series.  I like the 50 Shades Series and I absolutely loved most of the Outlander Series but these all focused on two main characters and after awhile I kinda get bored and need some fresh meat to sink my teeth into.  Anyway, the other wolves in the pack are also gorgeous (have yet to actually ever meet a werewolf that isn't, but maybe I'm just blinded by Trueblood's Alcide and Twilight's Sam and Jacob).

The cool think about Nicky Charles is that all she asks for in return for downloading her books is that you make a donation to your local Humane Society.  She wants to keep her books free.  Unlike some other writers who get you hooked on a series with the first book free and then charge for the others, she likes that her books are free and plans to keep them this way.  It also helps that she's an excellent writer.  I highly recommend downloading her books.  If you like a good steamy werewolf story (and Trueblood is on hiatus) this is definitely the way to go if you're budgetly impaired.

But don't stop there.  There are a lot of other books that I have found that are good for a quickie (pun intended) or for a full blown romance.  Most recently I've read a really hot and sexy book about a firefighter (In Too Deep by Kathryn Shay).    

I will warn you that there have been many duds that I've found as well but they are worth the gems that I have read.  So the next time you're looking for some cheap and great reads check out the ones mentioned in in this blog.  If you have some suggestions of good free reads feel free to leave them in the comments section.  From one addict to another... happy reading.

Friday, June 29, 2012

50 Shades of what? 18 + *Spoilers*

I like every other woman on the planet has read the 50 Shades of Grey series.  Everyone keeps asking, "when are you going to post about this one?" Well here it is.  I wanted to write something in response to the negative reviews that I have seen regarding this book series.  First let me say that the author E.L. James is a fantastic writer.  Her ability to write in first person (a style I'm not all that fond of) is nothing short of astounding.  In the same style as Stepanie Meyer and the Twilight series, Ms. James captures the thoughts and feelings of one individual and takes it to a whole different (and certainly more R rated) level.  I also have never wanted to know what another character was thinking more than I did with Christian.  Her little teases at the beginning of each consecutive book as well as the bonus chapters at the end of the third were titillating (pun intended) to say the very least.

All in all I really enjoyed the books.  The email correspondence alone was hilarious and incredibly sexy at the same time.  *twitchy palm* and my husband and I now say goodbye with "Laters, baby".  But what about the "risque bondage and sex" that everyone is spouting about this book?  Honestly, although the sex is very hot (and I mean very very hot) it's really nothing that's not already out there, it's just written much better than most.  I think due to it's great marketing it has found it's way to women who haven't ever read this kind genre of romance novel and believe me this BDSM stuff is out there and in some very good book series that I have already read.  The Hell's Eight series that I have blogged about before makes use of toys and bondage and these are very well written books.  My favorite author J.R. Ward and book series, Black Dagger Brotherhood has a character who's sole focus until he meets his HEA is bondage and dominance (ahhh Vishous still so damn hot).  Again another very well written series.  Unfortunately with the vampire angle this type of book is geared toward a very specific group of people so it doesn't get to be mainstream.  I hope that will change.

Christian Grey is of course sexy as hell but it's not the sex that got me.  It was his dialogue and his banter with Ana that made my breath pant.  To have someone who is capable of taking care of every need (both in bed and out) is really very sexy.  The idea that some people view this book as a glorification of an abusive relationship is ridiculous.  First of all Ana LITERALLY asks for the spankings and other things.  There is something to be said for a good spanking.  Also, if it were a truly abusive relationship Christian would have done more to isolate Ana from her friends and family, but he never does (even though he's not fond of Kate or Jose).  Yes he is possessive, but again I say, read most romance novels and the guy is always possessive.  I can tell you that in every book I've read somewhere the guy growls "Mine".  Believe me when I say that although I would never want a guy who isolates me, a guy who wants to possess me (both body and soul) and wants me that badly is a total arousal waiting to happen.  And guys I'll let you in on a little secret, most women want this (at least in bed).

Christian is the epitome of the Lost Boy.  The one all women want to hold, protect and save (not to mention have wild, crazy, kinky fuckery with).  He's scarred and flawed yet perfectly beautiful and commanding both in the board room and the bedroom.  Not to mention he's loaded!  But it's really his vulnerability that slides into you and makes you pant.  I for one was nearly laid flat when Ana was finally able to "touch" Christian.  There was no sex in these books more erotic then the first time Christian actually allows her to touch him.  I know the stereotype that most men see is a woman wanting a knight in shining armor and for the most part this is true. Only it is more that we want the guy to be able to fight for us with passion but more than that, I think (well I know I) we want to be able to do some saving too.

There is much talk about turning this book series into a movie (and with all the hype this is a very real possibility).  I don't know how I feel about this.  First of all in all the books I read, I of course picture myself as the main woman (so in my head I am sooooo totally Ana).  I am too often disappointed in the adaptation because they rarely consult with the author and then they go and change so much of the dialogue (which is what I love most about a book).  And then there is the casting.  No one ever agrees that they picked the right person because everyone has a different picture of what Christian looks like in their head.  Many actors have said they would love to play Christian (but have they really read the books).  As most of you know I have a majorly bad case of lust for Joe Manganiello (who has said he would play Christian Grey)and as much as I like to picture me as Ana and him as Christian (on the boat outside Monte Carlo with two sets of hand cuffs..mmmm ... where was I?  oh yeah..) and as much as I believe he could play the part and play it well, he just doesn't LOOK like Christian to me, no unruly copper colored hair and no intense gray eyes although he does definitely have the body.  I know all this can be fixed with contacts and hair color but I don't know.  Again this is the downfall of adapting books into movies... there is honestly no one who I know of who looks like what I picture (which is a sort of mash up of different people's attributes).  Maybe this is my hang up but I love this character and I would hate to see it chopped to bits by writers and producers.  And I'm pretty sure most women would hate whatever actress they got to play Ana, because like I said we all picture ourselves in this role with Christian.

I liked this book series a lot and would be interested to see follow-up stories from Christian's point of view as well as the stories behind Christian's sister and Kate's brother and Kate and Christian's brother.  I'd really like to know Christian's brother's story.  All in all I think it's a great story and even my mother-in-law has read them and it's actually given us something to talk about which is cool (not so cool for my husband though).  BDSM aside the story is poignant and sexy and a truly great read and if they make it into a movie and do cast Joe, I'll be the first one in line to see it.  Hell, I'll be in line to see it no matter who they cast in the role.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Brothers - Wrath

After reading most of the Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series I was looking for another vampire series that would hopefully be just as good as the one I had just finished. The nice thing about the Nook is that when you’re in shopping mode it gives you suggestions of what others who have bought the book you’re looking at have also bought. This was how I discovered J.R. Ward (she has also written books under the name Jessica Bird).

The series that came up first was her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I thought Black Dagger Brotherhood? It’ll probably be really campy and she can’t possibly write as good as Sherilynn Kenyon does but it seemed to be quite a popular series among those who had read the Dark Hunter series so I took a chance and read the synopsis of the first book…

Dark Lover : The first novel in J.R. Ward’s New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series features a unique take on vampire lore and heavy doses of sensuality. The vampire Darius fears for the life of his half-breed daughter, who is unaware of her unusual destiny. To oversee her transformation, Darius seeks help from Wrath, a dangerous loner and the world’s only purebred vampire.

Okaaaaay, I’m game! I purchase the first book and the love affair with these men was instantaneous. The twist on vampires in this book was one that I had never considered. The WARDen (as her fans have affectionately named her) creates this world (Caldwell, New York) where vampires are really a separate species created by a benevolent (albeit a mysterious) creator. They cannot “change” humans into vampires and they are not immortal they just age very, very slowly once they go through their transitions, and they heal rapidly which makes them hard to kill. Much of the same vampire lore is true such as amazing strength, increased senses (particularly the sense of smell), and the inability to process sunlight. The interesting thing here is they don't have this sensitivity until after they go through the "transition" from child to adult at around the age of twenty-five. Until this time they are scrawny, weak, can go out during the day and have no sexual drive whatsoever. But within a twenty-four hour period they go through a transformation that most humans take over five years through their teens to accomplish. As you can see the amount of detail in creating this world is astounding!

The WARDen has a supernatural ability to not only create this entire race (creation story, language, biology, government, social hierarchy, and theology) but weaves them in along side the human race and the reader actually has to remind themselves that this is fiction.

She instantly drags you into this other world and introduces you to some of the most interesting characters you have ever met. Immediately upon opening the first book you get to know Darius and even in the few pages that she uses to introduce him, you find him to be strong, courageous, but most of all a family man who wants nothing more than to unite his brothers and keep his last remaining child (a half-human/half-vampire daughter) alive. She endears you so quickly to these characters that when Darius dies within the first two chapters you're devastated by the loss. I've never grown to care for a character so quickly.

Wrath initially refuses to help Darius with his daughter but with the tragic death of his fellow warrior, Wrath is compelled to see out his friend's last wish (little does he know how she will effect him when they first meet). Wrath is your typical brooding hero type but the WARDen describes him in such a way that you don't feel sorry for him and you don't roll your eyes thinking "God what a whiner"! He does anything and everything to protect Beth but he doesn't keep her from being who she is and allows her strength and skills to flourish. When you meet Beth you find that she is strong and full of spirit and you like her instantly. She doesn't take any of the boys' shit, which is something all of the women who end up with a brother will need to be able to do. The dialogue is very easy to follow and the characters have well developed senses of humor. Each one has their own unique brand of sarcasm that only builds on their personality.

I fell in love with this series because of this first book but there are others in the series that just really solidified this series as being the best I have ever read. The thing about this book is it sets up and depicts most of the other characters who will appear later in the series. Unlike most series where the focus is mainly on the two main love interests, the WARDen expertly weaves tales for several other secondary characters as well as provides you with an insight into the thoughts and plans of the villains. It's these side stories that keep you reading. You know the main characters are going to have their HEA (Happily Ever After) but it's the other stories that keep you hooked. Will there be a book for this or that character and if so what will their story be? After ten books in the series I'm still not tired of them and hope there are many many more to come. For sure there is an eleventh as mentioned in another post... Lover At Last will be out in March of 2013!!! This couple's tale has been anticipated for almost six books now!

For those who might be keeping track... Wrath and Beth do have a song - Without You by Mötley Crüe

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How to know if you're good to your fans...

I've written a lot about several different book series that I have read and I've mentioned the Black Dagger Brotherhood many times but haven't actually blogged about it yet.  I'm waiting until I finish my third re-read (which if you know me is somewhat of a ringing endorsement since I don't re-read books often let alone a whole series).  I was thinking about why I love this series so much and then speculating on what makes fans of any celebrity (author, singer, actor) scream with excitement.  One word...RESPONSE!  When an author, actor, singer, politician (you name it) responds to your interest in their work and cares what you think that means something.  Not only is it exciting to think that the person you admire (or drool over) has noticed your tweet, post, email, letter, etc., but it makes that individual seem more real.

With the advent of social media that ability to have that six degrees with celebrities is both a good thing and a bad thing.  Good for those who like and respect their talents and want them to know that their work is appreciated but I can see it being bad what with stalking and crazy people (despite what my husband says I don't stalk I merely admire exuberantly).  That being said, it's the good of social media that can get an unknown author or actor a lot of free publicity if they connect with their fans. Yes meeting celebrities in person is fun but it's usually in an organized, well-ordered event (I once met Rob Thomas at a meet and greet which was fun but I was just one the group... he's was SUPER nice by the way) but it doesn't have the same thrill as knowing that something you just threw out there as a compliment or question was actually read, processed by and responded to by that person. 

Although my experiences with responses from the admired elite are not of the unknown variety the fact that these two people saw something I wrote regarding their body of work and were amazing enough to respond to it has raised them to a great level in my estimation of their character and talent.

The first experience with a response from social media was from my favorite author J.R. Ward.  She is the writer of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Fallen Angels.  I had been posting on her fan Facebook site for a while (and I also might add that this is the best community of fans I've ever seen).  One of my posts was a question regarding timeline in her books.  I merely posted as a question to other readers who might have an answer when to my great surprise one of my responses was from the WARDen herself!!  I was so excited I had to stop my car!  She read my post and took the time to write a response (and an answer to the question).  But it didn't stop there I responded to her response and we kept up a dialogue regarding this question for sometime.

It was the most amazing feeling.  Here was this author whom I really admire and she is interested in my opinion and my thoughts on her work.  I think that was when I decided I would love to write book reviews about the books I've read.  Maybe another author might be interested in what a fan has to say.  I will be posting  more on the BDB book series (probably have whole separate blog for that).  That being said I think this made me appreciate her work more and earned the rank as my favorite author (You feel me?).

My most recent experience with this was last night when I tweeted a link to a YouTube video promotion for the movie Magic Mike (Channing Tatum stripper movie... who could pass up posting a video of that... Premieres June 29, 2012 by the way).  But not only is Channing Tatum in the movie (along with Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Pettyfer,  and Matt Bomer... mmmm) but it also boasts the talents of my unseemly crush and only man who has stayed on my list of five free passes for over two years, Joe Manganiello.  So in my tweet I included Joe in the tweet as a nod to him that I was looking forward to seeing the movie.  I've sent tweets about him and to him before (again admiring exuberantly!) but not really expecting a response as I KNOW he gets thousands if not millions of tweets daily.  Imagine my heart stopping surprise when I checked my email and saw "Joe Manganiello has retweeted one of your tweets" in the subject line.  I nearly had a heart attack.  You'd have thought he had showed up on my doorstep half naked telling me I had my one night shot!  An over-reactive response to a retweet I know but the idea that he had seen MY tweet and took the time to acknowledge that I was the one who tweeted was better than any "meet and greet" where I'm one in a million! Now I'm not saying if he did show up on my door step and said he had my free pass that I'd turn him away but it was still nice to know that for a brief minute he heard me out of all the other thousands.  Oh and it's increased my Twitter following (which will be good for this blog), after his retweet I got like 5 more people to follow me!  So thanks Joe, you are one awesome, bad ass wolf!

I think perhaps the WARDen should keep this one in mind when building a new character for the Brotherhood or the Angels!  I'd definitely like to see what he could do as a vampire or maybe even a Fallen Angel.  I already know he's killer as a wolf!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Save a Horse...

Everyone knows I have an obsession with the supernatural.  Due to an overwhelming neck fetish that I have had since I first saw the love scene in Top Gun when I was 13, those supernatural characters that put emphasis on the neck have an unbelievable appeal for me.  Mainly I'm looking at vampires and werewolves (they tend to have neck fetishes too).  Every once in a while though I find my needs gravitate to a good old fashioned western....romance that is. 

There's just something about a cowboy working a ranch, riding the range, having sex on the back of a horse (apparently it happens...quite a bit although I don't see how that works but hey it's fiction).  I find that taking a break from vampires and werewolves is refreshing as long as the men I switch to are just as strong and commanding.

I still don't go for those simpering stories where the woman is helpless and is in need of her man to protect her.  I just can't stand it when I watch a movie or read a book and all the heroine does is scream for the guy!  Hasn't anyone ever heard of pepper spray?

That being said I found a great book series when looking for a good cowboy, old west romance.  The Hell's Eight series by Sarah McCarty is an excellent read.  Understand that it can be pretty graphic during the love scenes.  Surprisingly though it's done very tastefully.  The dialogue is well written and the sex in the book although may seem over the top in language really fits in with the feel of the book.  It wouldn't be believable if they made the scenes fluffy or God forbid Twilight-ish ("she walked out  into the water ... " next day... gah can you say frustrating?). 

The thing I like most about this series is it's very similar to J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series (without the vampires) in that it introduces you to many different characters all at once and you find you need to keep reading the series to see what happens to those secondary characters.  I have to say I LOVE this in a series.  J.R. Ward does this incredibly well!

The first book in the series is Caine's Reckoning and it not only introduces you to Caine and his love interest Desi but it also introduces you to the other men of Hell's Eight: Sam, Tucker (my most personal favorite... HOT!!!), Tracker, and Shadow.  These are the ones that have books but there is mention of others.  I'll assume that eventually there will be eight.

The books are set in 1858 in the Texas Territory.  There's not just sex (although this is some pretty heart pounding ... pun intended... stuff), but there are scheming evil men out to steal an inheritance, Comancheros, nasty Mexican war lords and lots of action.  Sarah McCarty provides really great description of the area and what it must have been like to live on Hell's Eight land.  I'm not usually one who likes a lot of description rather I prefer more witty dialogue, but her ability to create a picture of what the characters are seeing and experiencing is top notch. 

If you like really hot, rugged, protective men who can ride, shoot and have the most talented hands... and mouths this side of the Mississippi I can't recommend this book series more.  And if that doesn't convince you take a look at Tucker's Claim cover photo and tell me that you CAN'T judge a book by it's cover...

Thursday, June 7, 2012


So I haven't really posted a lot about my favorite book series The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward but I will in the near future... especially since she just released on Facebook of the prototype and title for the next book in the series.  Lover At Last!!!  I know that all of the WARDen's cellies have been waiting with baited breath for the love story of the two main characters who have been defining their relationship for about five books now!  Below is the prototype for this much awaited book.  Check out the Link above to the WARDen's website to get the scoop on all of the books in her many different series and stay tuned to the blog posts on this series...