Release Day Review by Rafa: The Ruin of a Rake, by Cat Sebastian

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The Ruin of a Rake, by Cat Sebastian
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: July 4, 2017

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Advanced Book Review: A Seditious Affair, by K.J. Charles

charles-seditious-affairA Seditious Affair, by K.J. Charles
Series: Society of Gentlemen, Book 2
Release Date: December 15, 2015

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Pre-Order Links: Amazon / ARe

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Look, I’m not saying that I called in sick so I could finish A Seditious Affair, but I did take a day off after receiving this ARC, so make of that what you will…*

Silas Mason has no illusions about himself. He’s not lovable, or even likable. He’s an overbearing idealist, a Radical bookseller and pamphleteer who lives for revolution . . . and for Wednesday nights. Every week he meets anonymously with the same man, in whom Silas has discovered the ideal meld of intellectual companionship and absolute obedience to his sexual commands. But unbeknownst to Silas, his closest friend is also his greatest enemy, with the power to see him hanged—or spare his life.

A loyal, well-born gentleman official, Dominic Frey is torn apart by his affair with Silas. By the light of day, he cannot fathom the intoxicating lust that drives him to meet with the Radical week after week. In the bedroom, everything else falls away. Their needs match, and they are united by sympathy for each other’s deepest vulnerabilities. But when Silas’s politics earn him a death sentence, desire clashes with duty, and Dominic finds himself doing everything he can to save the man who stole his heart.

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“A well-deserved treat!” — Book Review: Stand and Deliver, by Scarlet Blackwell (Rating: 4/5)

blackwell-stand-deliverStand and Deliver, by Scarlet Blackwell
Publisher: Pride Publishing (October 20, 2015)
Word Count: approx. 35,000 words
Genre: Historical; Gay (M/M) Erotica, Romance, Threesome (M/M/M)

Rating: 4 out of 5

* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. This novel was previously published and has been revised and re-released. *

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I’m not sure that I should have enjoyed this book as much as I did, but it was so fun and delightful that it was the literary equivalent of eating an entire bag of candy in one sitting. Healthy? Nope! A well-deserved treat? Oh heck yes!

Lucien, Earl of Ravensberry, has the looks, the title, the house and all the money in the world. What he’s lacking in his humdrum life of loneliness is someone to warm his sheets at night. When he’s kidnapped by five highwaymen one night, things start looking up. This is the most exciting thing to happen to him in forever.

But Lucien’s life is in danger. Dante, the tough, self-appointed leader of the band, doesn’t have a lot of time for captives and vows to kill him—after he’s used Lucien’s body as he desires. Then there’s Ambrosius, Dante’s best friend, a damaged, reclusive individual who appeals to Lucien from the outset. The feeling is mutual, and Lucien is soon braving a whirlwind of emotions. He had never thought to fall for an outlaw, and he is torn between escaping and satisfying the needs of his heart. All he knows is, life will never be the same again…

First things first, the summary has a pretty serious typo, which is glaringly obvious: there are only four highwaymen, not five. Um, whoops?

Okay, my review.

Look, this novel is cheesy to the max. It’s Regency England, and Lucien is stuck-up and full of himself, with a bit too much money and too little common sense. It’s full of characters getting aroused during inappropriate situations, and kidnappings, and tragic backstories that make the characters Dark, Brooding, and Mysterious. Basically, replace Lucien with a random woman and you’d have your standard bodice-ripper erotica.

But sometimes the brain needs a bit of junk food, and I really enjoyed this book. Lucien knows that the road home from a late-night party is dangerous, but he doesn’t really expect to be robbed halfway to his home. So he fights back… and captures the attention of one of the robbers, who can’t decide if he’s brave or stupid but is intrigued all the same. An impulse decision to take Lucien with them results in Lucien being thrust into the world of the four highwaymen, all of whom are interesting and complex characters.

I will say that there were a few moments that I was less than pleased with. The whole “I’ve been kidnapped and they’re going to rape me but I’m attracted to them so it’s okay” trope is not appealing, and frankly a bit disturbing.

Did the highwayman mean what he thought he meant? Oh Jesus, Ambrosius had brought him to a fate worse than death. And yet… try as he might to deny his own loins, the highwayman was attractive, damn him. He was so attractive that Lucien felt a stirring in his breeches. (ePub pg. 15-16)

It’s not Stockholm Syndrome, it’s a ridiculous excuse for the captive to fall in lust with the man (or men) who captured him, without putting any effort into writing the actual emotions. Lucien being so easily turned on by the men who kidnapped him, right off the bat? Yeah, could do without. Thankfully, this does improve!

There are a lot of plot holes here, but ignore them. Seriously, just turn the logical part of your brain off and enjoy these ridiculous, delightful characters and their ridiculous, delightful emotions. This isn’t high literature, but it sure as hell is a fun read!

blackwell-stand-deliver-highwaymen

As the story progresses, the relationships really start to blossom into something beautiful. Ambrosius, one of the highwaymen who kidnapped Lucien, has a fantastic backstory that ties into the plot very well. His attraction to Lucien is only physical at first, but they soon learn more about one another, and realize that there’s something deeper between them.

“Now you know what you’ve done to me. I still want you. Knowing what I know about you, Ambrosius, I still want you.” (ePub pg. 94)

There’s also a fantastic side-plot with Dante, the highwayman who threatens Lucien with rape over and over. He’s not just a flat, evil character; there’s a legitimate reason for acting why he does!

For a smutty erotica novel, there’s a surprising amount of depth and character-building here, which made it easy to digest the less-than-literary parts. A really enjoyable read!
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Review: A Fashionable Indulgence, by K.J. Charles (Rating: 5/5)

charles-a-fashionable-indulgenceA Fashionable Indulgence, by K.J. Charles (A Society of Gentlemen Novel)
Publisher: Random House/Loveswept (August 11, 2015)
Page Count: 264 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Historical Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5

* I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

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Summary: When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: Julius Norreys, the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.

My Thoughts: K.J. Charles’ beautiful writing, compelling characters, and expert historical knowledge will sweep you off your feet and back to Regency England. Here the poor clash with the rich, and a young man must decide if living the life he’s always dreamed of is worth turning his back on what he believes is right.

First off, I don’t think the summary does the story justice, so… Harry was raised by his radical parents, but the constant fear or riots and arrests has led him to realize that he doesn’t value the politics as strongly as his parents did. He initially jumps at the chance to be accepted by his wealthy grandfather, to live among the highest class of society… even to the point of agreeing to marry his cousin in order to inherit. But it quickly becomes obvious to him that he cannot ignore the suffering of the friends he’s left behind in the mud, and he has to make some very difficult decisions.

In the midst of the political and economical drama, Charles weaves in a lovely romance between Harry and his mentor, Julius. Though they begin as just friends, attraction quickly flares between the two men. They’re lucky to be surrounded by a close-knit group of men who share their orientation, and who help support and protect their growing relationship. This is a time period when homosexuality was punishable by death, so there’s a constant need for secrecy as both men transition from attraction to love.

And while this is definitely a romance, it’s also a lot more than that. Charles has the rare and precious talent of being able to bring history to life without bogging the reader down with the mundane and uninteresting tidbits. This is a richly illustrated society, and Charles uses Harry as a bridge between the starving commoners and the ludicrously wealthy elite. She does an amazing job of showing the politics of the period in such a way that it enhances the plot.

I think my favorite part of this book was the character of Julius. He’s a dandy, preferring to focus on his appearance over anything else. But he’s also an incredibly complex character, a man with a tragic past who has buried himself in the superficial in the hopes of masking his pain. Harry might be the protagonist, but it’s Julius who shows an emotional transformation as he learns to open his heart and trust in his love for Harry.

I could honestly go on and on about this novel, but I’ll restrain myself. Instead, I’ll end this review by saying that this is the perfect historical romance, where the characters are intriguing and the romance unfolds naturally and elegantly. Highly recommended, and I can’t wait for the other two books in the trilogy!

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Review: Bound With Passion, by Megan Mulry (Rating: 4/5)

Bound With Passion, by Megan Mulry
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (July 6, 2015)
Page Count: approx. 253 pages
Genre: Threesome (M/F/M) Erotica/Historical Romance

Rating: 4 out of 5 (what this rating means)

* I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

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Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Summary: When Lady Georgiana Cambury’s best friend informs her that he can’t inherit his family’s country house unless he marries, Georgie thinks she’s found the solution to all of her problems. She can help Trevor with his legal issue, and continue traveling Egypt in search of new horse stock to purchase without the burden of being an unwed woman. A marriage in name only. But Trevor is already madly in love with his long-time partner James, and Georgie doesn’t expect to find herself attracted to both of them as they begin to prepare for the wedding.

My Thoughts: Before you start reading this book, make sure you’re alone in the room and have a glass of ice water next to you, because damn this novel is hot! There’s a lot of sex here, in every combination you can imagine. But there’s also a really fantastic relationship winding its way through the passion, and that’s what made this novel so great for me.

Sometimes Georgie prefers to be the regal Lady Georgiana, while other times she prefers to be George, a slightly effeminate lad. But with whatever gender she prefers that day, the one thing she never wants is a relationship… she’s vowed to never fall in love.

James and Trevor want Georgiana and George both, but they’re going to have to work hard to chip away at her shell and unlock the love and emotions that she keeps hidden away. And Georgie is going to have to decide if she’s willing to give up her independence for a relationship, even if that relationship is one filled with love.

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