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ChristinasLair

Christina

I love to read and chat about books.  I'm always honest in my reviews and I enjoy  hearing varied opinions and different point of views.

Exodus - The House of Silence - J.A. Jaken

I didn't think I’d like this as much as I did, but I got sucked into world of The House of Silence. The story is set in an alternate universe where we follow the rent boys of an elite bordello. It is well-written and intriguing. I was instantly drawn in to the world and lives of the House of Silence. The vivid descriptions set the tone of the book beautifully. 

Here we meet Danny, Vincent, Tam, and Reiji. They all have unique personalities and a past that won’t let them go. I’m not sure when it happened, but each of these guys slowly got me to care for them.

The book starts off almost like a “day in the life” of a rent boy. The POV’s constantly change; we hear from each of the rent boys and sometimes from a couple of the prominent clients, namely Ander and Aburon. I’m not a big fan of POV shifts, but I think it completely works in this book. At first, I was put off by the format, but then as I read on, I realized how much I was learning about each of the characters. Danny is shy, sweet, and gentle. Tam is friendly and always there to help someone, while Reiji has a bit of a temper and is quick to fly off the handle (I heart him).

  I felt so bad for him at the end when he kissed Charon. It was so sad to see Reiji clinging to him. I know his feelings for Charon are going to lead to his downfall.

(show spoiler)

 Then there’s Vincent. He’s a submissive masochist that has an air of sadness constantly surrounding him. Oh, how I love Vincent. 

Now onto Charon Marque, the master of The House of Silent. I have very mixed feelings about him. He’s a bit of a contradiction. He is a business man through and through. He always has his head in the books and his eye on the bottom line. He is also portrayed as putting the safety of his boys above everything else. He protects them and has a knack of setting up the clients with the perfect companion. He takes his responsibility extremely seriously. He supposedly values his boys. This point is drilled home throughout the book. All his boys trust him and there's a feeling with them, that above all else they want to make Charon happy and proud. Now here’s my problem:  

In the past, Charon made the mistake of pairing Reiji with Montgomery, who's described as a sadist of incomparable cruelty. Even though we don't know the details of what happened, Montgomery obviously hurt Reiji. Charon claims this is his biggest regret. Now, knowing this, why would he put Danny in such a terrible situation with 3 clients who clearly forced Danny into things he did not want to do? This doesn't show me that Charon cares about Danny or how much he values and protects him. Yes, it is somewhat explained later in the book, that this made Danny stronger and more confident, but I don't believe it. It's a weak excuse for what Charon did. Danny even admits recognizing Charon's emotional manipulation, but I guess it's ok because he had worse in his life? And don't tell me Charon doesn't see what he's doing. 

(show spoiler)

This disappointed me and now I'll always question where Charon will draw the line.

The plot really doesn't get going until about 65%. The political intrigue and the suspense gets kicked into high gear, and we follow the MC’s while they try to protect one of their own.

My only other complaint was sex fest at the end of the book. Most of the sex in the book had a purpose. It told us who the characters were, and built-up their stories, but the last 10% of the book was a throwaway. The only moment that held any consequence was what occurred with Reiji. Other than that it was a waste.

For the most part I really enjoyed this book and I can't wait to see what happens to everyone, especially my Vincent!

Warning: There is a lot of sex and some of it is dub/non con. This is NOT a romance. 

Dominant Predator (The Borders War) - S.A. McAuley

 

I still haven't changed how I feel about this series. The same problems I had with the first book still exist in this one. The writing is melodramatic and doesn't fit the characters. Even though I like the world, I don't believe their turbulent past, and as a result, I can't get behind their present relationship.

Stories Beneath Our Skin - Veronica Sloane

I loved every single character in this book. I wanted to hang out with them on the roof of Great Sin Ink, wanted to eat pizza with them in the waiting room, and wanted to have a drink with them at Frankie's bar. I still do! This was a great ensemble of characters. Ace, Deb, Goose, Frankie, and Gene - each one, brought something to Liam's life that he so desperately needed. 

It's a beautiful story, about family and friendship and the lasting effects they bring to one's life. The author effortlessly writes about love, loss and healing without needless angst. It was a quiet and emotional story about everyday life.

My only complaint is that the end was rushed. I think we needed a little more time with Liam and Ace. 

This is definitely going in my re-read pile :)

Winter Wolf - S.P. Wayne

I'm just going to make a few points because I basically said everything in my updates.

I enjoyed Axton's character. He's socially awkward, shy, and a bit on the submissive side. He was cute, and I grew to like him. By midway through, I started to get into the story more and the scenery and the world drew me in.

However, I simply couldn't get past the editing issues. There were problems with spelling, it was repetitive, head-hopping, etc. It needed major editing. I heard there may be an edited version out there, but I did not have it. 

I also didn't like the dialogue. It seemed like both MC's were still in high school and this is not a YA book. It didn't fit the characters or Axton's inner voice. 

This book just didn't work for me. I wasn't into the characters enough to overlook these issues.

After Ben - Con Riley

This was a story of love, hope, and loss. Theo lost the love of his life, Ben, in a tragic accident. Now his life is consumed with grief and misery. Even though mentally Theo is not ready to move on, two men sneak in and awaken him. Theo finds himself attracted to fellow gym mate Peter, and is completely taken by surprise by how much his body responds to him. Even though his physical attraction to Peter is strong, it's Morgan who captivates his mind. I loved how they gradually developed a friendship. Through this bond, both Theo and Morgan found the support and love they both needed. 

I typically don't like flashbacks and I have mixed feelings on how they were used in this story. For the most part, I enjoyed learning about Theo and Ben's life together. Ben's memory came alive and I was able to feel the depth and love of their relationship. However, sometimes the flashbacks interrupted the flow at inopportune times and I was thrown out of the story. It didn't always work. 

This was entirely Theo's story. Even though he had a few dense moments, I still liked him. For me the romance was secondary to Theo's journey. We followed Theo through parts of his life with Ben and saw the hope and love that Morgan brought into his life. 

Dead In L.A. (L.A. Paranormal) (Volume 1) - Lou Harper

I love how cynical and grouchy Jon is and Leander was just the right person to find a way into his heart.

Unhinge the Universe - Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt



I have mixed feelings about this one. I enjoyed the historical backdrop and the romance, but unfortunately a few things fell short. First and foremost, I wish we saw more of John and Hagen in enemy mode. They are sworn enemies and it constantly felt like they were right on the edge of real animosity, but they never took that leap. Their hatred seemed watered down and nothing unexpected really happened. The interrogations were a bit trite, and everything fell into place way too easily. 

As far as the characters go, it was one sided for me. All the love goes to Hagen. Beyond the fact that John's an interrogator, there wasn't much else to him. There were many references of John breaking Hagen but in reality it didn't take much. I really wanted more of their mind games and something to back up the fact that John was suppose to be this cruel and callous interrogator, because it never fully came through. The mind games and the sexual play never pushed the boundaries. 

Hagen, on the other hand, has this vulnerable, innocent quality to him. He continuously struggles with his loyalty to the SS versus his integrity as a person. There were some really great moments with Hagen. I loved when he remembered  

his brother telling him how their world is changing and not to throw his life away for something he cannot change or reverse. Powerful words that saved Hagen more than once. Another powerful moment was when Hagen removed the Iron Cross. That gave me chills.

(show spoiler)


Even though I enjoyed the romance aspect the story, I still felt some uneasiness in the beginning. Their instant attraction and lust took over and everything else seemed to fall by the wayside. I really wanted the bitterness and anger to last longer than it had, but there was no doubt about the passion they felt for each other and sparks flew when they were together.

Basically, I enjoyed the book but certain aspects only seemed to brush the surface when I was hoping for more. 

Undertow - Andrea Speed

These stars are mostly for Holden. I'm not seeing enough progression in Roan's story line. It's being dragged out and we barely get any answers or resolution to anything going on and when that happens all the flaws in Speed's writing are front and center and I can't ignore them :(

Undertow - Andrea Speed

 

These stars are mostly for Holden. I'm not seeing enough progression in Roan's story line. It's being dragged out and we barely get any answers or resolution to anything going on and when that happens all the flaws in Speed's writing are front and center and I can't ignore them :(

One Breath One Bullet - S.A. McAuley

Meh, it was ok. As I mentioned in my update, I liked the world-building but the characters didn't do much for me. I thought they were one dimensional and had little depth. I did feel a slight spark in Armise and he does have me curious, but other than that I didn't feel any emotional tie to them. 

What bothered me the most was that this book was repetitive and Merq's inner dialogue didn't fit the character's actions. The author kept telling us that these two men were mortal enemies and that Armise was a killer, but the scenes that were meant support this were brushed over and didn't have any substance to them. They were enemies for 13 years and we were inundated with language that tried to convey this but their actions fell flat. It felt like the author was trying too hard to evoke emotion in the characters. 

For example:

Armise was the lightning strike in my storm. He appeared without warning—a violent burst, and brilliant flash, lighting up the night sky—then retreated in a cacophonous crash, leaving me dazed, unsteady and blinking back stars from my vision. He was unpredictable. Unstable. Deadly and hypnotic. And yet it was like I stood defiantly in the storm, rifle lifted towards the churning sky, and challenged him to strike me. As if I came alive in that moment of impact.

You would think these words would depict passion, violence, Armise as a deadly force, and an intense history, but instead the words felt hollow to me. I never got a sense that these men had a turbulent history. Yes, it was said over and over, but unfortunately I never felt it.

I heard the series got better and since I already have the second work, I'll probably read it but I hold very little hope that the author can turn this around for me.

Life in Fusion  - Ethan Day

 

Not quite as good as the first but I still had fun with Boone. He was as snarky and sarcastic as ever. Nothing really turned me off, but I think this book could have been cut to about half it's length. There wasn't really anything new or exciting going on. I loved Boone and the journey he took with Wade. Boone finally was able to move beyond his fears and feel secure with his relationship with Wade (well, as secure as Boone can be). Boone had me smiling with every witty comeback line, his never ending motor mouth, and his total acceptance of his slutty ways.

Sno Ho - Ethan Day

 

I had lots of laughs with this one and I can't wait to continue. The romance moved a little fast but Boone cracked me up. Wade turned out to be a sweetheart of a guy and I absolutely loved his sister!

 

This was a light and happy read!

Freefall - Andrea Speed

There are many aspects that I love about Speed's writing. She has a way of developing strong and well developed characters and her descriptions pull you right into the story, but unfortunately, it’s not all good. She has a tendency to tell rather than show and merely summarizes large portions of the plot. This has always been an issue for me. I also think she has too many mysteries going on at once and tends to lose focus on any one given issue.

As far as character advancement and development, I enjoyed book 1 (Freefall) better than book 2 (Bloodletting). The mysteries not so much. There were a lot of holes and were rushed at the end. The mysteries in book 2 were fairly solid.

In book 1, we see Roan’s destructive behavior in the forefront. He uses his anger as a shield. It’s basically his go to emotion. It created a tense and volatile atmosphere. Roan is depressed and hates what is happening with the lion, along with almost everything else in his life. It’s heart-breaking to see him struggle with everything. I didn't get the same feel in book 2. I’m not a fan of splitting the books into two novellas or books. For me, even though not a lot of time passes, it breaks the flow and the feel of the story telling. 

Book 2 brings an entire new set of issues for Roan and because I was in the same frame of mind from book 1, this was a letdown. I was expecting to see more of Roan’s self destructive behavior but the story shifts to Roan’s problem with headaches. I can see where the author is taking this but because of the change in story-lines, her writing seems clunky and doesn't always work for me.

I really enjoyed hearing more from Dylan and Holden. I love how Holden is becoming a prominent character. That’s really what saved book 2. Although I like Dylan and I think he is good for Roan, I hope he’s strong enough to handle the relationship. 

One of my favorite parts was when  

Dylan sketched the tattoo of Paris on Roan’s arm. At first I thought it was selfish of Roan to include Dylan in this but once Dylan was sketching I saw how much it brought them closer together. Dylan is so understanding and loving and it allowed Dylan to share a part of Paris with Roan. 

(show spoiler)

 It was a perfect moment.


This is always a fun world to be in.

Relief Valve - J.L. Merrow

 

This was not a hit like the first book. I love Tom, but his winning combo of British cheeky wit, charm and sarcasm that sold me in the first book felt forced and overblown in this book. Sometimes his thoughts became unfocused and annoying. The pacing was slow and there was nothing new brought to the story. The mystery was ok but the typical church involvement and multiple suspects didn't grab me. It didn't have the excitement I felt in the first installment. 

I also wish there was more developing of Phil’s character. There was definitely progress in their relationship but I wanted a bit more from Phil. I enjoyed when we saw the serious side of Tom, like when he thinks about why Phil still where's his wedding ring or when he contemplates their relationship. I was also happy to see Gary and Darren and of course Arthur and Merlin!

Regardless of the issues I had, I still managed to smile and have a few laughs. Hopefully the next one will be toned down a bit. 

Rough Canvas - Joey W. Hill

I had a hard time with this book. I wanted to love it, but instead it tired me out :( I can see why so many people are attracted to this book. There were occasions when I thought the writing was beautiful, but for me it was too flowery. Where the lyrical style was meant to draw me in, it effectively did the opposite and took me completely out of the story. 

As I mentioned in one of my updates, I felt like something was keeping me at arm’s length from Marcus and Thomas during the first half of the book.  I didn't feel their connection. Even though I felt more of a connection in the second half of the book, I didn't enjoy it as much as the first half. Things got way too sweet and mushy. I didn't like that the book delved into Marcus’ back-story. Even though it was meant to show his vulnerability and trust in Thomas, it only served to weaken him in my eyes. It seemed like unnecessary drama. 

Then the entire 180 that Thomas’ mother did at the end, was a major eye-rolling moment. The “we’re one big happy family now” ending was over-the-top .  

(show spoiler)


These were my major issues. There were definitely some enjoyable parts. I loved the interactions with Marcus’ friends. Julie, Josh, and his wife were all good side characters. There were some tender and moving moments between Marcus and Thomas that kept me engaged and wanting more. I just think that as soon as I got pulled in to the story, the writing went one step (sometimes several steps) overboard and became melodramatic.

Ball & Chain  - Abigail Roux



Ok, here we go. Time to review Ball & Chain, book 8 of the Cut & Run series. Oh wait, silly me, this wasn't part of Cut & Run, this was Nick's book and clearly should of been part of the Sidewinder series. I'm not even sure what to say because I like Nick and I liked Shock & Awe and even though Nick completely stole the show in Ball & Chain, I didn't think his role should have been as substantial as it was. Kelly is still a mystery to me and was kind of boring. Trying to have two couples in the forefront only served to bring both couples down.

How did Ty and Zane become side character's in their own series? This is a clear indication that this series should have ended. Zane completely disappeared in this book. Granted, I saw this coming within the last few books but sadly he was reduced to being placed in Ty's back pocket and only came out to play when Ty needed some companionship. GAH! Zane was such an amazing character. That leads me to Ty. I am so sick of hearing about Ty and his family's little quirks. Yes, we already know he has a fear of horses and heights. Do we have to be reminded in every book? It was cute and funny the first time but it got old fast. I guess that's all there is to Ty now. Then we have the fact that there was nothing going on between them as a couple. Ty was gone for 6 months and supposedly he and Zane both changed, but we got no development on this front. We were told this but you'd think since this was supposed to be their book we would have gotten one conversation, anything to support what these big changes were and how they got through them. Nope, nothing. All we got was them laughing, smiling, and grinning. Grrrrr.....I felt very little connection between them. Even 

the big marriage proposal was shot to hell by Nick's proposal to Kelly.

(show spoiler)

 I felt more between Nick and Kelly than anything between Ty and Zane.

Now, let's get to the ridiculous plot. I never read this series for the mystery plots because they were always secondary to the strong characters of the earlier books. The mysteries always had plot holes but I could typically ignore them because of the characterization and the strong connection between Ty and Zane. Now since the characters are brought down to a fraction of what they were, what do we have left? Nothing! The mystery was so convoluted that I really didn't care how it turned out. I can't tell you how many times I had this dumbfounded look on my face because of some of the absurd logic in this book, like 

Kelly needing written instructions to figure out time of death and Livi's reason behind choosing her maid of honor. Why would Nick and Kelly assume that the ferryman was a dope smoking kindred soul? Also, if Nick was like a third son to the Grandy's, why wasn't he invited to the wedding? And don't get me started on how anyone would believe that Zane would be behind the "big theft". Please, that would have been merely a distraction, especially after all the bodies dropping everywhere. Even though De la Vega's plan wasn't convincing, I really wish we saw more of Zane and Ty dealing with this issue. It got quickly brushed aside. Another wasted chance for Ty and Zane. I could go on and on. 

(show spoiler)



Now on to the things I did enjoy. There were a few :) 

I enjoyed seeing Nick's problems with his father and Ty come to light. I felt his struggle and strength. At first, I thought that the added drama between Ty and Nick was pointless but by the end of the book I thought we got to see another side of Nick and I thought it was believable. I also loved seeing the comeback of Liam. It wasn't much, but hopefully he'll play a big part in the future.

(show spoiler)



I'm more than ready for this series to end.