Steamy Goodness Books to Read Instead of/In Addition To “Grey”

J:  Did you know there’s a new 50 Shades book called Grey? I just discovered that this morning.Grey Cover

M:  I’ve been seeing the ads on Amazon and Goodreads for weeks

Every day. Many times a day.

Now this makes me realize I’m spending waaaay too much time online and looking at books on Amazon

J:  I probably had an inkling it was coming but pushed it aside. Then I opened Goodreads to find my feed clogged with reviews. I guess it came out last week.

So, if anyone was wondering if I’d pre-ordered it, the answer’s no.

I did take a few minutes to go through some of my friends’ reviews, though

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M:  and…?

J:  well, the ones that didn’t like seemed to dislike for the same reasons I’d avoid it

There’s no inner goddess doing the meringue in this one, but apparently his dick gets its own POV

M:  omg

Just what we need. More dick POV

J:  Well, you know how I feel about the whole thing anyway. But let’s get real: about all books past, present and future. Is it necessary to tell the exact same story from another character’s POV? Ever?

M:  no

J:  If it covers new ground, maybe. If it starts before or after the first story… I don’t know. Mostly, no.

And I say this as someone who’d defo read Midnight Sun if it was released

and then probably hate myself afterward

M:  And I say as someone who, for fun, wrote a dual POV story once upon a time.

I like additional scenes, maybe

A lot of the time, what makes the hero so swoony is not knowing what he thinks but building from the author’s creation with clues they give you and adding your own take

I’d rather have hints given to me from the heroine’s POV than a straight POV change because it can be disappointing. Not living up to what I’d imagined in my head.

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J:  Like, part of me would love to read Ivan’s POV from Del Dryden’s The Theory of Attraction

just because I want to know how much he liked the heroine before they entered the agreement. Did he have a crush on her already or just take advantage of a willing participant?

I wanna know.

If he’d hinted at it at all in the book, I’d be happy enough, but he didn’t.

He never let slip how he’d felt before.

We can kind of hope… maybe see stirrings of it, but no confirmation

Heh. I’d just be happy enough with a tweet from Del saying “yes. he was crazy about her”

wouldn’t need a whole book about it.

M:  The wanting to know really pulls you in, though, and keeps you thinking about the story and characters. I mean, here we are, what, a year or more after you read the book and you’re still thinking about it? Cool.

I’d rather have hints given to me from the heroine’s POV or what the hero says and does rather than a straight blow-by-blow retelling.

J:  From how I felt after the original 50 Shades, there’s a high potential for ridiculous with Grey.

M:  well, yeah. I personally couldn’t get into the other books. The heroine annoyed me too much (among the usual technical headbangers that have been discussed ad nauseam)

and if his dick has an inner voice… Just noffyw grey

That’s one mystique that should always and forever remain so

end of conversation

I can’t even write about it without breaking into gagging giggles

A talking dick. eeeeeeeeee

J:  It’s obviously not the subject matter that sucks some folks object to

M:  no, like 50 Shades series or not, the plot and characters strike a chord

a deep one

and there are so many good alternatives or additions, depending on how you feel

J:  In all honestly, I probably wouldn’t have discovered some of these books without the 50 Shades hype

but now that I have, I don’t have much use for Grey. Just being honest. That’s probably mean.

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I think that’s maybe when I read Lila Dubois’s Undone Lovers series the first time. Did I send you that one, or did you rec them to me?

M:  I think I got the first one, Undone Rebel, on sale, maybe.

Ohh yeah, read her geekish dom and thought you’d appreciate. I liked the series. She’s republishing them with new covers this summer/fall, her website says.

J:  Definitely a fun read. All three from the Undone Lovers series were fun.

And now she’s doing the BDSM Checklist series, A is For.., B is For…, etc.

which I’ll buy fairly immediately

Oh, I did read the Science of Temptation books first. I remember that.

The Delphine Dryden geek dom series

M:  I liked those as well. Kind of Dom-lite, definitely good and engaging

J:  you know me and my geek heroes, too

M:  doing a good believable geek dom is pretty difficult, but both those authors/series pulled it off well

J:  ugh. the first dom in the Dubois series was my favorite.

I guess I like a bit of humanity in there somewhere

M:  you like a bit of geekiness in there somewhere. heh

J:  that, too

M:  like you said, one thing I do think is inarguably good about the 50 Shades popularity is that it brought erotica more into the light

J:  exactly

M:  Well-written, engaging erotica of all heat levels and types

classics like Emma Holly, Joey W. Hill, Robin Schone, Ann Rice’s nom de plume A. N. Roquelaure

Also opened the door for some great new more-on-the-sexy-side stories, authors, and series

Kit Rocha, Tiffany Reisz, CD Reiss, some of Kristen Ashley‘s, like her Unfinished Heroes series

41S8guclCULCREED-cover-198x300Raid-Cover-199x300Deacon-Cover-202x300

I like Kit Rocha’s Beyond series (the fist one, Beyond Shame, is free!). Some more than others, but all are solid. Sexy. Well written158308431604967716049679

And I liked CD Reiss’s Songs of Submission series (first one, Beg, also free, but heads up, it’s not a standalone) right up until the last one which made me all kinds of argh, but I’d still definitely rec

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of course, Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, but I only read the first two before I lost interest

J:  I read Kit Rocha’s first couple

They didn’t stick with me quite as much, but I’m pretty sure it was my craving for a little more geek

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I did love Charlotte Stein’s Control and Power Play

the heroes in those were so vulnerable

M:  I don’t think I’ve read those particular titles, but I do like everything else I’ve read by her

they shall go to the top of my TBR list

J:  we’ve talked about Charlotte Stein’s deep POV before

how it takes a bit to get into it, but then you’re INTO it

like, right in the heroine’s head

M:  yeah, her style kind of threw me at first, but then I was all in

J:  I’d read any of these again before reading Grey. Maybe even tonight.

brb

 

We’d love more suggestions, recs, and/or comments about books and authors you’ve enjoyed – share, share!

 

photo credit: Crotch.BlueJeans.Dupont.WDC.20may06 via photopin (license) (We added the speech bubble, so blame us)

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J to tha M: What We’re Reading

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J:  I stayed up too late reading

in hindsight, the book was not worth it

and now I have a headache

M:  that seriously sucks

what book was it?

J:  um

At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey

it was okay

not worth the hours of sleep I didn’t get

eh, it came up in my search for a geek hero

just checked the reviews for it

I don’t know why, but I always like to see if others had the same objections I had

M:  I do that, too

I just looked it up – heh

virginity auction

billionaire winner

almost as bad as DARK SEKRITS

J:  yeah, but I was convinced by some of the comments in forums that this would be different

and honestly, those took a backseat to the things that really irritated me

M:  oh no

J:  oh, and there were dark sekrits

M:  double oh no

J:  I think my first real objection (outside of plot, which, really, we read the same books over and over anyway. If she could do something different and better, I could be a fan) was a technique issue

or maybe just laziness

in that something would be mentioned and then, to explain it away, the narrator would say something like “We had previously discussed his dislike for onions, so this new revelation didn’t surprise me.”

instead of going back to an earlier part of the MS and just writing in a conversation about hating onions

not that they discussed onions in the book

that really would have sent me over the edge

M:  hahaha

yeah, gotta be better ways to drop in backstory, even little details like that

J:  so flipping annoying

next, I think, was the controlling bastard wearing a sweet geek mask

when he was sweet geek, I adored him

I wanted one of my own

but then he’d go all alpha

and it was distracting

M:  a sweet alpha geek bastard

that’s kind of messed up

or sweet geek alpha bastard

J:  and it’s one of those wtf is wrong with you moments

regarding the author

because it’s obvious the controlling bastardy move was meant to be sweet, too

M:  funny how different people can see or think such opposite things in a behavior

I’m sure sometimes it’s meant to seem sweet – I’ve read a lot of that in books with a hero trying to be a “sweet” alpha

some work. some really don’t

J:  like, um

not trying to spoil it – but **beware, spoilers ahead**

though you’re probably not going to read it

so, he already knew her before bidding, but she didn’t know him

that whole anonymous gamer thing

so he found out about the auction and wanted to know what would make her do something like that

and discovered her mom had cancer and was in danger of losing the house

STALKER MUCH

then secretly contacts the mom through his corporation and starts the process for saving the ranch

all before he even bid on her

M:  of course

J:  now

a real man

would have faced down the girl with his questions and offered to help face to face

instead of stalking and invading privacy and sneaking around

and yes, I can handle forcing help upon someone who needs it

so much more than sneaky creepy help

M:  and giving her the opportunity to avoid putting herself on the auction block

yeah, creepy

So, instead of letting her know she doesn’t need to auction her virginity, he lets her go ahead and do it?

J:  well, the explanation in the book is that, as the anonymous gamer guy, he tried to talk her out of it

and she still was determined

so he won with the intention of never forcing her to go through with it 

M:  but still. he could have saved her that humiliation

this is my problem with the alpha male thing – a personal prejudice, probably – but a true alpha male who cared about his woman (whether she knew she was his woman or not) would just take care of her, not let her get into a position where other men would have even a glimmer of a shot at her or she would be hurt or humiliated, take care and protect her, even if she argued with him about it. There’s a whole other side of issues to discuss there, but in my mind, that what a true romance novel alpha male would/should do

but that’s my suspension of reality moment. Make me believe. Of course, what I believe is totally different than other people, so to each their own

J:  but that’s the thing

a true alpha is usually guileless

secrets maybe

sneakiness, no

M:  yeah. an alpha does what he thinks is best for the person he feels he needs to take care of, even if he doesn’t really ask first

J:  annoying how disappointed I’ve been lately with my reads, actually

M:  I’ve actually read quite a few really good ones

Read a couple by Laura Florand. You must try

Well written – she has such a flowing style. Not lyrical, really, but just smooth and engaging

urges you along with the character and story, brings on the feels, sucked me right in

She writes about chefs – top-of-their-game chefs

and really brings the profession in without being instructional or dry fact, you know? You learn as you become part of the characters’ lives

J:  I’m very interested in chefs

M:  The stories are so believable and she still mixes in all the emotion and reaction. I really enjoyed. The two I read were Turning Up the Heat and The Chocolate Rose (which is still free on Amazon for Kindle right now). Definitely plan on reading more

I think you’d like

J:  I’m on board

oh!

I ran across one of hers on the lists I looked at last night

I should have gotten that one instead

M:  From what you’ve mentioned, I’m pretty positive you’d like much better

J:  I’ll buy after I finish work

or I won’t actually finish work

heh

M:  I burned through a bunch of Kristen Ashley’s that went on sale (The ‘Burg series is still on sale for 99 cents each) so I bought, but that’s a whole discussion in and of itself

my love/hate (but mostly crackalicious love) of her stuff

and, of course, Kate SeRine’s ARC of Ever After, but we’ll talk about that closer to release date

Also went on a tear of Heidi Cullinan’s m/m backlist

always well-written with lots of feels

and she can do that learn a lot about the character’s profession without being boring or dry

In her Special Delivery series, the one guy was a long-haul trucker, one worked in a casino (Double Blind)

very different but both really interesting and totally brought me into their world

oh, and one of hers, Dirty Laundry, where one guy was a bouncer and the other an entomology grad student

interesting, and she totally makes it work

J:  you mentioned that one before, I thought…

hmmm

maybe I found it in one of my geek hero searches

it sounds familiar

yeah, I have seen this one before

I’m even more curious now

M:  I just finished her A Private Gentleman – historical with a highborn lord second son who has a bad stutter and a “professional sodomite” or male prostitute

don’t know why, but I love those kind of setups, as improbable as they are

J:  ohhhhhh a stutter

why this makes my heart thump, I have no idea

Speaking of heart thumps, I’m still avoiding The Fault in Our Stars

because crying my eyes out until I have a gross headache is never my favorite

M:  oh, man, Fault in Our Stars

I want to read that, too, but scared for the same reasons

ugly cry

J:  we keep saying it, but we should get drunk together and just do it

gulp copious amounts of wine

and then cry it all out through our tears

M:  It’ll be interesting to see if that can make me cry. Those are few and far between, as you know

but I can gulp wine and pet you if it doesn’t

we just need to find a few hours when we’re both in the mood for that at the same time

J:  Speaking of gulping wine…

M:  Always the right time for that. brb
photo credit: miss miah via photopin cc

J to tha M: What We’re Reading

In Which We Go From Bitching to Snot-Sobbing

2010-10-04-DeadPoetsSociety1989CD2.avi_003839798J:  What’s up today? You’ve had marketing on the brain

M:  Ugh. No fun. Let’s talk fun. What have you been reading – that’s fun. Plus, I’d like to readdress my feelings on the Kristen Ashely Rock Chick books at some point

J:  I don’t know if I’ve read much I could crow about lately

everything’s been just…nice

I read another Entangled Bliss

part of a series or collection by Sara Daniel

Cute

M:  I haven’t heard of her

J:  I’d read another that was also cute but the end was laugh out loud while also a little swoony

so I gave this one a shot

and it was just cute

then I read one of the novellas in my quest for the hottest geeks

um, shit

what was the name?

Gaming for Keeps

good. lots of good tension

but another of those where the characters had to out-geek each other with all their nerd references

M:  again, too much of a good things sometimes isn’t good

That’s exactly what I ran into with the Rock Chick series

J:  nope

really he was an alpha who knew a lot about geeky things

M:  ohh, yeah, that’s not a true geek hero

although an alpha who knows geeky things sounds pretty good to me

J:  oh well

siiiigh

you know what I want

that guy who’s adoring and tongue tied and maybe a terrible dresser

M:  haha

we have such different tastes

J:  but underneath he’s strong and funny and a perfect partner

and he says those things that make you swoon inside because you know it’s not a line

you know it’s exactly what he means

and that he had to really work hard to get the words out, to put himself out there

and he loves fiercely, though shyly

yeah

anyway

Rock Chick and too much of a good thing

M:  haha

yeah, but actually too much of the exact same thing

exact

same

thing

and I mean, the same scene, setting, dialog – almost letter for letter

just different book title and different character names

I guess I should have figured when I noticed all the books have almost exactly the same cover, just different colors

and that exactly reflects the contents

bottom line is, I read I think through the sixth or seventh one in the series

and I did enjoy enough to buy at full price and keep reading

but I facekindled when I got to that exact same dialog and setting and topic scene

word for frickin word

J:  *grumble*

it’s the same thing Evanovich did

M:  well, it’s worse than Evanovich

at least with Stephanie Plum, it actually IS the same character, so acting and talking and using the exact same style is acceptable

J:  oh!

these are all different Rock Chicks?

I assumed it was all the same character

M:  these books are all about different characters, but they all act exactly the same. the writing style is exactly the same. their speech patterns and thoughts, actions and words, behaviors

all exactly the same

oh yes, each book is about a different couple

well, different names. slightly different situations – but only slightly

J:  I felt Evanovich’s other series were Plum in different places with different names

the Motor Mouth and the whatever the one with Diesel is

I didn’t even finish the one book I picked up

and I frickin’ LOVED Plum for a long long time

M:  yes, she does have a style. and style is okay. The Rock Chicks were Exactly The Same

J:  wild

I hate that for you. You were so into it

M:  yeah, the first one in the series was awesome. the second one was great. Even the third I really liked

but I was starting to think…weird. all these couple argue about the same thing, in the same way, with the same behavior and habits and ticks and thoughts and ideas and…

wait a minute

it is all the same

AND THEN

I read about the newest and supposedly last book of the series that just came out this week

and I heard she did a self insert into the book

J:  oh nooooooo

M:  oh yes nooooooo

J:  Clive Cussler!

M:  yes

she hinted that one of the minor secondary characters had leaked stories about the Rock Chicks and the Hot Bunch (a whole ‘nother >.< there about that name)

but this character figured they wouldn’t mind or notice (a whole ‘nother plot point that is >.< after she’s built their personalities throughout the series, but okay)

and so this secondary character decided to write books about them, and her pen name is Kristen Ashley

J:  I’m really confused

M:  Yeah. Exactly. So I really think it’s a good idea for me to not read the last one

J:  it’s probably okay if I stay that way

M:  well, I’d recommend reading the first two or four

and I really recommend reading her not-self-published book I read – Own the Wind

a lot of what I found “huh” in her earlier stories was absent in that one

I’m really glad I read that first, and I will buy the second, Fire Inside

and like I mentioned in my mini review thing on Saturday, I loooooved Knight

J:  well, I hope her whole “same story, different cover” doesn’t carry over to other series

M:  yeah. anyway

I’m in the mood for a snot-sobby story

J:  O.O

I’m never in the mood for those

M:  haha – I know

J:  but I’ve heard The Fault in Our Stars is a good contender

or did you already read that one?

M:  I even just looked through Harper Fox‘s backlist. She does great sobby m/m

I haven’t read the Fault book

I want more relationship snot sobby, not I’m-sick-and-dying sobby

J:  I kind of have a hard time picturing you snot-sobbing

not gonna lie

M:  you do have a point there

I can’t think of the last time a book made me snot-sobby

J:  I get teary-eyed over geeky love confessions

so, let’s be honest, a tearjerker isn’t a great idea for me

M:  Not like Dead Poets Society

J:  oh God

I tear up just thinking the title

M:  that makes me ugly cry every damn time

J:  ugh. I cried when the dog died in Grey’s Anatomy. stop.

M:  but I do like reading a snot-sobby that gets a tear in my eye. maybe rolling down a cheek if it’s really good

I think Harper Fox was the last one to do that

No, wait

Definitely Ben Monopoli

J:  ugh

sobs

but I love him

I did sob

you know this

trying not to wake the husband at 2 am ’cause he’d think I was crazy

M:  Ben needs to publish another book

J:  he said he’s working on something, didn’t he?

oh the sequel to Porcupine City

which will take years

yearssssss

M:  let’s go bug him

brb

J to tha M Review: What M’s Been Reading

Our scheduled review and reviewer couldn’t make it today, so you get me again.

M Talks Kristen Ashley. And I Like

own-the-wind-2-3_4So, yeah, I’m may be late to the Kristen Ashley club, but boy, I have arrived. I’d heard her name and good things about her stories but never picked one up. Most of what I’d heard rumblings about was her Motorcycle Man books, and to be honest, that only slightly intrigued me. For no particular reason, really, other than I’ve simply never read any motorcycle club books or even watched Sons of Anarchy (although I have listened and grinned at J spouting all things Charlie Hunnan). But then, Ashley’s new Chaos series novel, Own the Wind, went on sale, and I do love a sale on a reputed good book, so I went and checked it out.

You all know how I love a well-written bad boy alpha hero with a heart of gold. Yep, sold. And swoon.

And, oh, Shy was. Swoony and alpha bad boy in all the good ways and a big old heart who loved his woman, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Yep, I got the starry eyes over him. And Tab was a great strong heroine who stayed true to herself while working to accept growing up and everything Shy was without wanting to change him. I love that, too.

Ashley has a unique writing style that took a little getting used to, but I fell right into the characters and story. The change in POV, and going from first to third in those changes, did throw me a little, but she didn’t use that often and while the technique did pull me out a bit, nothing that really bothered me. Also the time skipping ahead, the chapter and section breaks starting with “Three months later…” “Six Weeks later…” Wish that could have been smoother, but overall, very minor pulls out of the story and the story and characters were well worth the read.

I enjoyed the way Ashley handled the character growth while keeping true to their personalities and who they were at the core. A refreshing change from many romance plots, where often the alpha hero tuns into a whipped pile of whatev to prove he loves the heroine, or she becomes a doormat because he’s so hot. Both Shy and Tab did things they came to realize were mistakes, accepted their own failings as well as the others’, dealt with them, and moved on. Ashley is able to show you both sides of a situation, put you right in a character’s head and make you feel  their thoughts and actions are the right ones, then make you see the errors of their ways right along with that character, see both sides, balance and deal with them, and then move forward right along with the hero and heroine.

I also really liked the way she handled the “outing” of Tab and Shy’s relationship. They tried to keep their burgeoning feelings quiet to settle in and be comfortable themselves first, but when they are inevitably found out, instead of groveling for everyone’s forgiveness, Ashley had them handle it head on, stand up for themselves, point out how it’s no one’s business who they sleep with, they have no obligation to tell everyone who they’re sleeping with, and it’s no one’s place to make judgements about what they choose to make common knowledge about who they’re sleeping with. Bravo! So refreshing and yay! And even better, Ashley addresses both sides, showing how their friends and family could still be upset- and make that sound reasonable, too – that they felt they should hide their relationship for any other reason that those Tab gets into their shit about. I was cheering the whole way through that scene. I love getting pulled in and taking a side of one character, only to have the author skillfully show the other side, and have you cheer for them, too, and then take in the entirety of the whole situation. I wish we all had that ability in real life, and I don’t just mean writing about it.

So, yeah. I loved Own the Wind and will definitely by the next in the series, Fire Inside, and then go buy the precursor, the Dream Man series.

6538757What I did buy after finishing was another Kristen Ashley book that was on sale, Rock Chick. I liked this one, too. Reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, but better, and Linda Howard’s To Die For. Light, silly, sexy, and fun. Ashley gives great bad boy alpha heroes. I’ll definitely continue on with this series. Each features different characters but includes old favorites, and they sound just as sexy-heroed and fun as the first.

And then. Looking through more of Ashley’s back list, what do I see? A series of anti-heroes? Be still my heart. I mean, I love a well-written bad boy alpha hero, but a bad boy alpha anti-hero? My excitement and joy knew no bounds. So, I bought Knight, and oh yeah. Very nicely done. Sexy and uncomfortable and wow and amazing and holy shit all in one. Not for the faint of heart, but if that’s your kink like it is mine, you’re in for a ride. I’m still a hot mess and conflicted and loving it all at once.

41S8guclCULAshley shows great versatility in her ability to go from a tough guy motorcycle club, a light hearted comedic romp, and a darkish erotica, although her heroes have a strong common thread of that bad boy dangerous alpha. Her unique writing style quirks and dialog style remain a little too similar throughout the 3 1/2 books I’ve read so far despite the vastly different sub-genres. That hasn’t really bothered me too much yet as it is different, fun, and sexy, but we’ll see as I read more into her backlist.

With more than twenty books in her backlist, I think you’ll find one that intrigues and I definitely recommend giving her books a shot if you haven’t already. If you have, give J and I your thoughts on what you’ve read and what you’d recommend a latecomer to the Kristen Ashely fanclub.

About the Author:

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen’s Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning.

Nothing’s changed.

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she’s blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better.