twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick   Jul. 25th, 2017 05:42 pm
Senate vote to proceed toward removing the Affordable Care Act: 51-50. That's 51 votes against health care in America.

This is not the final word on the matter-- keep yelling, talking, chanting and singing at them. Keep on standing up for the health of everyone in America.
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 25th, 2017 06:00 pm

Posted by Guest Reviewer

F

Three Sweet Nothings

by Nikki Sloane
December 12, 2016 · Shady Creek Publishing
RomanceErotica/Erotic Romance

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Nerdalisque. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Erotic Romance category.

The summary:

Five years ago, we’d been together and on fire, but the flames burned us both. Now she’s back in my life and is all my wildest fantasies in the flesh.

I want her. The desire is too powerful to argue against, but I’m not interested in what we had. This is an arrangement about pleasure and finding out who we are behind closed doors. There won’t be talk of love or any sweet nothings whispered by either of us.

This time, I’ll control the heat between us and make sure neither of our hearts get too close to the flames.

Here is Nerdalisque's review:

Three Sweet Nothings opens with Kyle getting himself off to a memory of his ex, Ruby (because she’s SO much better than porn). Specifically, he’s recalling a time when he and drunk Ruby fooled around with another girl. This has been his go-to image for five years since their ugly breakup. And based on this single memory, Kyle is absolutely certain that “a filthy freak hid behind that deceptive, good girl front.” (Yes, Ruby’s curious about kink, but thinks her interest is “dirty” and “wrong.”)

Lo and behold, Kyle and Ruby, both lawyers, end up on opposite sides of a high-profile divorce case. She’s still angry with him, and crashes a New Year’s Eve party to confront him. They go off to the hotel’s rooftop pool to talk. Turns out, if they had just used their words five years ago, they wouldn’t have wasted all that energy hating each other. So, Ruby – who’s just “slammed” some wine (#drinking again) – decides to kiss Kyle. Like you do. And (surprise), they end up (fully clothed) in the pool having rough sex and the best orgasms EVER!!!

A few days later, wannabe Dom Kyle contacts Ruby and uses sex to manipulate her into signing a contract agreeing to a purely sexual relationship – no love, no emotions. Because that always works. The rest of the book is them having various kinds of porny sex in various places with various props and even another couple (*gasp*). Then there’s another misunderstanding because they fail to use their words again. But, twue wuv prevails and there’s an HEA. Sort of.

(BTW, there may have been some character growth, but honestly, I didn’t care enough to pay that close attention.)

This book didn’t work for me for a number of reasons. First, it’s written in alternating first-person POV. Not only does that make it all tell, not show, but I didn’t like the characters’ voices. For example, Ruby, at one of her meetings with Kyle, thinks: “A handshake? For real? I gave his dick a handshake with my vagina just a week ago.” Ew.

Second, Kyle, is a conceited, manipulative alpha-hole with a big red flag in his history. In the five years post-Ruby, he’s had a relationship with one woman – his boss. When he tried some do-it-yourself bondage with her, she freaked out about his “stupid fetish.” She wanted a commitment, and when he turned her down, she black-balled him. Kyle then did something to retaliate (just what isn’t spelled out) that was bad enough that she paid him “hush money,” and he left the city. Um, what? Worst of all, he won’t tell Ruby the whole story. And that is just one example of a third, and major, problem – their lack of honesty. Both of them enter into the sex-only partnership because they want to make the other fall (back) in love with them. That’s especially ironic because the only contract clause Ruby insists on adding is “Total honesty between partners.”

I could go on and on about other problems. They forego using condoms based only on each other’s word that they’re clean. Kyle uses his finger for “full-out [anal] fucking” without any lube. There’s some laughable writing: “violated with frigid winter air,” “the song of my approaching orgasm” (#lolololol). An offensive overuse of ellipses, e.g., “It was . . . erotic” (#facepalm) “She unleased [sic] all these . . . feelings.” (#lmfao) Like so many other things in this book, it was . . . annoying.

So let’s get to the sex. Kyle’s idea of being dominant is doing what he wants all the time – because, of course, he knows what Ruby needs (not “likes,” but needs). For example, when they’re in the pool – their first time together after not speaking for five years – he spanks her in a way he calls “aggressive and backed by a dark desire to punish.” Wow. That’s not healthy. Granted, Ruby apparently likes it, because she tells him to do it again, but he did NOT have her consent.

Again, shortly after Ruby has specifically said, “No thank you. I’m not interested in your partnership offer,” this happens:

I was spun around before I understood what was happening.

My hands flew out and I braced myself on the desktop as he bent me over with a shove. “What are you –“

He was faster than lightning. The sides of my skirt were jerked up over my hips . . .

I tried to right myself and push the skirt down, but . . . his open palm smacked hard against my ass.

I just . . . No. She was trying to stop him. And just because his fingers and dick are magic, and she ends up having an orgasm, that doesn’t make it okay.

If two people have spent five years hating each other, even if they still have pants feelings, they shouldn’t play at D/s. Especially if they haven’t communicated beyond filling out a checklist of things they’d like to try. (Kyle: “Dear God, please check anal.” #eyeroll) (BTW, Kyle lies when he fills his list out.) Supposedly Kyle gets a crash course from an experienced Dom, but it happens off the page. Since Ruby is conflicted about her desires, wouldn’t it have been good for her to talk to a sub? Maybe then she’d have known that the moment before someone penetrates you anally isn’t actually when you should decide on your safe word.

Obviously, this book didn’t work for me. I would have DNF’d it if I hadn’t signed up to review it. (I kind of did anyway, because I skimmed the last few chapters.) But I paid enough attention to identify its problems, some of which – issues of consent, the depiction of a “dominant” male – were really troubling.

I have to give it . . . an F.


Three Sweet Nothings by Nikki Sloane received a B- in a previous RITA Reader Challenge Review.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 25th, 2017 04:22 pm

Posted by Elyse

Elyse Watches The Bachelorette with Kraken Rum and Coke with a big rose at the bottomToday’s delayed recap is brought to you by Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia: because pain doesn’t care that you have shit to do.

I actually slept though The Bachelorette last night, but I’ve got it DVR’d and I’m home today with a giant-ass coffee and muscle relaxers.

You think me recapping while drunk was interesting–just wait till the meds kick in.

A woman drinks out of a giant cup of coffee--like bigger than her head

We’re down to three men: Eric, Bryan and Peter. Last week Rachel met everyone’s family, Dean went through the pain of meeting his estranged father on camera after two years separation, and then Rachel let him go.

Last week was pretty fucking depressing.

I’m hoping this week is full of WTFery because I’ll be honest, this season has been kind of a downer.

Now, on with the show!

It’s time for the remaining dudes to meet Rachel’s family. Her sister is eight months pregnant so they are meeting in her hometown of Dallas, rather than the usual practice of flying to an exotic locale.

First up is Peter, who has definitely been more reserved than the other dudes. I personally think Rachel likes him best, but he’s more closed off emotionally than Eric or Bryan. Peter and Rachel shop for a baby gift for her sister and a present for her nephew Allister.

The best part is when Peter picks something out and Rachel gives him the “Um, no” eyes. He’s smart enough to defer to her choice. Good man.

Baby clothes are so friggin adorable you guys. I don’t want kids but I could shop for baby stuff all day long. I’m probably one more muscle relaxer away from knitting Dewey a little baby sweater and hat.

A close up of Peter and Rachel shopping for baby clothes.

Anyway, before they meet her family, Peter pulls her aside and tells Rachel that’s he falling in love with her.

FINALLY.

While speaking with Rachel’s mom, Kathy, Peter admits that he’s not sure he’s ready to propose yet because he and Rachel have basically only spent a few weeks together. He still wants to pursue a relationship with her, but he doesn’t know if he would feel right proposing at the end of the show.

While on the one hand I think this is a totally reasonable approach to their relationship, it’s also not what the show is about, so it’s kind of weird to see him say that. The dudes know when they sign up that the show ends with a proposal (usually).

You aren’t following the process–er, journey–Peter! The Rose God will not pleased! Chris Harrison just sat up in his coffin filled with rose petals, his eyes blazing in fury.

Kathy actually likes Peter’s answer, though. She does tell him that she hopes he takes their dating very seriously, though.

Then in what is literally the best shot of the night, we cut away to Rachel and little Allister playing with her dog, Copper.

Copper is a noble floof and I love him.

Copper, a big fluffy orange dog, sits in a chair . He looks like a chow-mix to me and I'd kiss his face a million times.

At one point Peter sits on the floor and colors with Allister and my remaining ovary explodes.

Peter sits on the floor with Allister while Rachel and Copper watch.

The next day it’s Eric’s turn to meet the Lindsays. Eric admits that he’s never been in love and is last serious relationship was two years ago. Rachel’s sister, Constance, is skeptical that Eric is ready for marriage.

Eric tells Constance that he loves Rachel unconditionally, but isn’t in love yet.

Later Eric asks Kathy if he can have her blessing to propose to Rachel.

But…wait? You just said you weren’t in love yet!

Kathy gives him her blessing anyway.

Rachel, her cousin Andrea, and Eric sit on a couch. Eric and Andrea do a little chair dancing.

Lastly it’s Bryan’s turn. Rachel takes him to brunch with a couple of her girlfriends then on to meet her family.

Almost immediately Bryan tells them that his mom is the most important woman in life, which is not all concerning… Like how is that the first thing you say to new people!? “Hi, I’m Bryan and I love my mom more than  anybody else.” Cue the Starbucks barista trying to write that all on a cup.

Kathy asks who would get his priority, his wife or his mom. Bryan kind of stumbles during his answer and it’s clear Kathy isn’t impressed.

Right away there’s some tension between Bryan and Rachel’s family. He’s charming, but in a superficial way. They ask him some pretty direct questions, and when they are skeptical of his answers (like when he says he knew Rachel was the one after just a week), Bryan freaks out and leaves the dinner table.

Rachel is irritated that her family seems to be questioning Bryan more intensely than they did Eric or Peter.

Rachel looks at her mom and says "I am, like, really low-key annoyed."

Bryan tells Constance that he already loves the family and she’s like, “dude, it’s been an hour.”

Bryan apparently loves everything immediately. But not as much as his mom.

Steve Carell from Anchorman says "I love lamp."

Despite all that, Kathy does give Bryan her blessing to propose to Rachel.

So just to recap: we’ve gone from Peter who isn’t sure of his feelings and is playing this close to the vest, to Eric who has never been in love, to Bryan who loves everyone within five minutes of knowing them.

Yikes.

Anyway, the family stuff is over and we can move on to the best part of the episode–Fantasy Suites. This is when Chris Harrison gives the contestants a hand written letter inviting them to sleep with each other.

I did not make that up. It’s a thing that happens.

So they all fly to La Rioja, Spain. We get a shot of Rachel sipping wine THAT SHE DOES NOT FINISH BEFORE LEAVING HER TABLE. Rachel! We never leave a wine behind! Not ever!

The first date goes to Eric. They take a helicopter to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe where they sip champagne.  Later they have dinner, and  Eric tells Rachel he’s in love with her.

They open the handwritten Invitation to Bone from Chris Harrison and head over to the Fantasy Suite. There are a lot of candles in the Fantasy Suite. A LOT. I wonder if some unpaid intern has to go around re-lighting the damn things.

After a commercial break we get the token “morning after” scene where the camera pans to an unmade bed, thereby making sure everyone knows the smexing happened. Then Rachel kisses Eric goodbye so she can go on a date with one of the other dudes and probably sleep with him.

I can’t get over how awkward that must be.

“Great job with the sex! I’m going to go have more of it with people who aren’t you. See you Tuesday!”

The next date is with Peter. They go to a vineyard where they actually finish their wine this time. Once again Peter tells her he’s not ready to propose.

This seems  like  a pretty important conversation, but they are interrupted by a little girl bringing Rachel flowers. I assume Peter planned the whole thing.

A little girl brings Rachel flowers while Peter looks at them with a smile

“She’s asking about commitment! Operation Shirley Temple is a go! I repeat, Operation Shirley Temple is a go!”

He doesn’t get off that easily, though. Over dinner Rachel tells Peter that she didn’t sign up for the show in order to find a boyfriend, she’s looking for a husband. Peter tells her that he considers engagement as seriously as marriage–he wants to be 100% certain he’s ready to be married before he gets engaged.

Rachel is more okay with their engagement still being a “getting to know each other” stage of their relationship.

The episode ends with Rachel tearing up. She feels like they aren’t at the same place and she says, “Tonight, for the first time ever, I’m thinking Peter and I might not work out.”

Then we get the dramatic TO BE CONTINUED

Do you think Peter can come back from this? Are you still watching?

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 25th, 2017 03:30 pm

Posted by Amanda

AppSumo has a sale on Stencil, an image editing program! Lifetime access to Stencil is available for $49.

You can make headers and images for social media and promotional graphics, plus it includes a Facebook 20% text checker to make sure what you make will fly with the FB lords.

There’s also a Chrome extension to easily share links with customized images.

Let Us Dream

Let Us Dream by Alyssa Cole is 99c! This was Redheadedgirl’s favorite story in the Daughters of a Nation anthology. It’s also nominated for a RITA® this year in the Romance Novella category. Ppyajunebug wrote a guest review for our Reader Challenge and here’s what she had to say:

Cole is one of the few authors on my instabuy list – I will buy anything she writes, regardless of genre, pairing, or length. She writes interesting, fully-realized characters with an eye towards how society shapes their experiences and personalities. “Let Us Dream” is no exception to that rule and I, and everyone else who reads it, should be thankful for that.

*This novella originally appeared in Daughters of A Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology*

Harlem, 1917

After spending half her life pretending to be something she’s not, performance is second nature for cabaret owner Bertha Hines. With the election drawing near and women’s voting rights on the ballot, Bertha decides to use her persuasive skills to push the men of New York City in the right direction.

Chef Amir Chowdhury jumped ship in New York to get a taste of the American Dream, only to discover he’s an unwanted ingredient. When ornery Amir reluctantly takes a job at The Cashmere, he thinks he’s hit the bottom of the barrel; however, working at the club reignites his dream of being a force for change. His boss, Bertha, ignites something else in him.

Bertha and Amir clash from the start, but her knowledge of politics and his knowledge of dance force them into a detente that fans the flames of latent desire. But Bertha has the vice squad on her tail, and news from home may end Amir’s dream before it comes to fruition. With their pasts and futures stacked against them, can Amir and Bertha hold on to their growing love?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Waking the Bear

Waking the Bear by Kerry Adrienne is 99c! This is a Kindle Daily Deal and the second book, Pursuing the Bear, is a 99c KDD as well. Readers loved the park ranger/bear shifter hero, but others found the dialogue a bit…corny. Trigger warning as well, as the heroine is rebuilding her life following an abusive relationship. It has a 3.7-star rating on Goodreads.

Sexy shifter passion is awakened when two unlikely lovers are challenged by secrets, danger and an unstoppable need to claim one’s mate…

For human Amy Francis, the secluded cabin in Deep Creek is the haven she needs to map out a fresh new start. She never expected her heart to be reawakened by a distraction like Griff Martin, commanding yet gentle, too ferociously sensual to ignore. It’s clear that patrolling the forest is more than a job to Griff—it’s a means of survival. But what Amy doesn’t realize is she’s reawakened the beast within him.

Griff’s dormant hunger is stirred by this intoxicating woman…and threatened by the secret she must never learn. Duty-bound to defend his bear clan against an avenging pride of lion shifters, Griff’s entire world is upended when he meets Amy. His animal need to claim his mate has taken hold, but that very desire could seal her fate as an unwitting pawn in battle.

Now, as a shifter war looms, Griff must decide between letting Amy go or following his most carnal instincts. To have her would change his life…but risk everything he knows and was born to protect.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Madame X

RECOMMENDED: Madame X by Jasinda Wilder is $2.99! I read this book and while it’s not quite a romance, I really enjoyed it. It’s a unique, dark, and twisted start to a trilogy. I gave it a B+:

Madame X isn’t going to be for everyone…. It’s written in first person. It does end on a cliffhanger. It deals with abuse (trigger warning) – physically, financially, and psychologically. There’s no HEA in this book as it’s an ongoing series following the same heroine. And there are also themes of infidelity.

But, if you’re still with me, it’s also one of the most unique books I’ve read in a while. It sucked me in and broke my heart. The next book cannot come soon enough.

Madame X invites you to test the limits of control in this provocative new
novel from New York Times bestselling author Jasinda Wilder.

My name is Madame X.
I’m the best at what I do.
And you’d do well to follow my rules…

Hired to transform the uncultured, inept sons of the wealthy and powerful into decisive, confident men, Madame X is a master of the art of control. With a single glance she can cut you down to nothing, or make you feel like a king.

But there is only one man who can claim her body—and her soul.

Undone time and again by his exquisite dominance, X craves and fears his desire in equal measure. And while she longs for a different path, X has never known anything or anyone else—until now…

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

The Invisible Library

RECOMMENDED: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman is $2.99! This is a fantasy novel that Carrie really enjoyed. She graded it a B+:

While I genuinely loved the characters and concepts of the book, it’s played strictly for fun adventure. This isn’t a philosophical book. There’s some character development, but it’s not huge. It’s basically just an excuse to have smart people fight cyborg alligators in a ballroom and werewolves in a museum. Luckily during the week that I read this book I was stressed out so it was just what I needed. It’s smart, well-written fluff and I ate it up with a spoon. I am avidly waiting for the sequel.

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author.
 
One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 25th, 2017 01:33 pm

Posted by Amanda

This HaBO is from E.D., who has been searching for this book for at least a decade:

I’ve been looking for this book for over 10 years.

All I remember is:

  • The cover had a swan I think, not sure if it was part of the cover or a publishers logo.
  • I know the characters wore corsets and lace up petticoats, but I’m not sure about the time frame of the book just that it was set in the past. Pre-1900s I think.
  • The main character has freckles and at one point is using some sort of cucumber cream when she falls from the barn loft right in front of the main guy.
  • She’s kind of tomboyish, and the dress she’s wearing when she’s with the main guy to visit someone is too big for her. The person they visit points it out and says the dress is ugly, might have been yellow in color.
  • The guy is kind of mean/rude to her at first and sees her as a bother.
  • Something about horses. I think the guy rides them and she wants to, but since she’s a girl she isn’t allowed.
  • They end up in a compromising situation so they have to get married, but they were set up by his and her family.
  • After she thinks they have sex for the first time, she wonders why she isn’t walking funny, like she’s seen the mares do after they are mounted by a male.
  • She ends up pregnant, and they both are very in love.
  • Near the end, I think she’s sitting cross legged on the bed pregnant and naked with her long hair covering her breasts, and her husband thinks she’s beautiful.

That’s a lot of detail! Someone knows this book.

[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed   Jul. 25th, 2017 01:00 pm

Posted by Jen

Remember how we all loved the game "Telephone" in kindergarten? Well, add in a cake, and the fun never stops!

This order was for a "black high heel":

(It's a hill, people. Get it?)

 

Specifying punctuation is always tricky:

Although I suppose if Aunt flashed Mom that would liven up the party, and it's certainly preferable to Aunt slashing Mom.

(Ok, this one is tricky, I know: the order was for Aunt/Mom - a slash, in other words.)

 

Here we have a beautifully done blue horse. Unfortunately, it was supposed to be a blue house.

 

If your message is "Philip...Woohoo!", and you actually have to say the words "dot dot dot", be prepared for just about anything.

 

And of course these never get old:

Although interestingly enough, I think that icing IS light pink. I guess the decorator was covering all her bases.

 

Thanks to Danielle M., Stefanie D., Rachel S., Michael T., and Chandra.

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 24th, 2017 06:00 pm

Posted by Guest Reviewer

B+

The Master

by Tara Sue Me
February 2, 2016 · Berkley
RomanceErotica/Erotic Romance

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by garlicknitter. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Erotic Romance category.

The summary:

Tara Sue Me’s New York Times bestselling Submissive series continues with a delicious new story that explores the thin line between pleasure and pain. . . .
 
She’s ready to try again. . . .

Sasha Blake is scarred from a BDSM session gone wrong, but she can’t deny how much a strong Master turns her on. Determined to overcome her fears and rejoin the Partners in Play community, she asks Abby and Nathaniel West to set her up with a Dom who can help her feel safe again as a sub. They know the very experienced Cole is exactly the kind of man who can push all of Sasha’s buttons—and she soon wants to go much faster than she had planned. . . .

Cole knows that Sasha is not the kind of submissive he needs. He wants someone who will serve him 24-7, not a part-time partner. Still, the further they go into their play, the more Cole begins to wish he could make Sasha his all the time. . . .

When forbidden desires turn into scorching action, Sasha and Cole come face-to-face with their demons—and realize their scorching relationship might be too dangerous to last. . . .

Here is garlicknitter's review:

I initially had a hard time getting into this story, but once I did, I enjoyed it very much. I think the initial problem was because this is book eight in a series, none of which I have previously read. The story started off with a meeting of a lot of characters who would be well known to fans of the series, but of course for me it was like being dumped into a group of strangers. I had trouble remembering names and kept mixing people up until I had hung out with them long enough to have some idea of their individual personalities.

So, basic story: Pretty much everyone in this book is into BDSM to various degrees. All the named characters are or have been members of the same play group. Some of them have already formed long-term relationships (presumably in earlier books). Sasha, the heroine, is a submissive, but (TRIGGER WARNING for abuse) she was hurt badly by her previous Dom in a scene where he had her bound and gagged and they had not set up a safe signal. (He ends up being permanently kicked out of the group because of this incident and his behavior afterward.) Sasha still wants to be a sub because that’s what turns her on, but now she’s prone to panic attacks when asked to do some things. She asks for help from the play group, and they pick out a Dom to retrain her, someone they know has the experience to really help her reestablish trust. (At first I was like, uh, does she get any say in who retrains her? But within the first few chapters it is clearly stated that if she doesn’t want to work with their choice she can ask for someone else.)

The Dom the group chooses is Cole. Not everyone thinks he’s a good choice, because he’s apparently really intense when he plays. (I don’t feel like this really came out in the book – it’s stated repeatedly that he’s so intense, but the described scenes didn’t seem especially intense to me – I kind of assume any kind of BDSM play would be intense to the participants, and the scenes read about like I would expect, given that.) However, intense or not, Cole is really good at taking care of subs and keeping them safe, which is exactly what Sasha needs. He starts off carefully with her – one of the first things he tells her is he won’t be having sex with her. He’s just going to retrain her in being a submissive. I wasn’t initially sure what he meant by that, since (like most non-participants, I imagine) I tend to think of BDSM relationships as being about kinky sex, so taking the sex out doesn’t seem to leave much to do.

Of course that’s an oversimplification. Sasha needs to get past her trust issues, and for that she needs someone utterly trustworthy – Cole can be that guy for her. He’s very clear what behavior he expects from her and very strict about enforcing his rules, but he makes it clear that even when he punishes her for breaking his rules, he will always make her as safe as he can. For one thing, every time she uses a safe word, he praises her lavishly. Also, when he tells her what he expects from her before they play, he always asks her if she has any questions. He doesn’t assume he always knows what’s best for her, he checks with her, and when he thinks she has concerns she’s not being open about he uses his Dom powers to push her to be more candid.

Of course the no-sex thing doesn’t last. As Sasha progresses in her retraining, as she becomes stronger, she wants more domination. She genuinely enjoys submission. Serving a Dom turns her on, being bound turns her on, being flogged turns her on, etc. She knows Cole is good at all those things, and she also finds him incredibly hot, so naturally she comes to want more from him. She knows he was previously in a 24/7 Master/slave relationship, and she’s intrigued and wants to try a taste of that, but he spends the first half of the book explaining why she’s not ready. He’s explaining to himself as much as her; he also finds her incredibly hot and likes her submissive style. Eventually, at the end of her initial retraining, they do have sex, and once that happens he gives in to what they both want and agrees to a temporary Master/slave relationship, which is a resounding success. The rest of the conflict is a typical “I love him/her, but he/she deserves better/isn’t ready/wants something other than what I have to offer,” which is neatly resolved with friends of each pointing out that they seem to be stupid in love with the other and maybe they should follow up on that.

Without being a BDSM aficionado, I’d say this book does a good job demonstrating the principle that being a Dom is not just about ordering subs around and using them to get off – job number one is taking care of the sub, keeping them safe, giving pleasure as well as taking it, and making sure that even if some of the play hurts, it doesn’t actually harm.

Grade? I’m going with a B+. The writing was clear and didn’t get in the way of the story. This is a big deal for me – clunky writing can make it impossible for me to engage with a story. The characterizations were reasonably believable – or at least I was able to ignore potential issues like how does a journalist (Cole) have this much money? As stated above, I found the final emotional conflict pretty typical, but it was handled nicely and I was happy for everyone at the end.


The Master by Tara Sue Me received an A in a previous RITA Reader Challenge Review.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 24th, 2017 03:30 pm

Posted by Amanda

Attention all magazine readers! The Texture Premium app is on sale for Amazon Prime members.

Prime exclusive deal for 1 year: $4.99 per month for the first year of Texture, which means you get unlimited access to 200+ magazines in one app. It automatically renews at $9.99/month after the first 12 months. Cancel anytime.

Truth or Beard

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid is $2.99 at Amazon! This is part of today’s Kindle Daily Deals. I know Reid is an auto-buy author for many of you and this one has an enemies to lovers feel to it, judging by the description. Readers say it has Reid’s trademark humor and quirkiness, but warn there’s a scene where the hero is with another woman. I know that’s an off button for some.

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.

His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.

Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?

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A Desperate Fortune

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley is $1.99 for TODAY ONLY as a Kindle Daily Deal! It’s also being price-matched. Like Kearsley’s other books, which are very popular and rarely discounted, it has strong romantic elements and dual timelines. Many readers loved Sara, a woman who’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s and takes a job as a codebreaker, but other readers found the book took a while to get going. And, in case you missed it, check out Susanna Kearsley on our podcast!

The highly anticipated, brand-new timeslip romance from New York Times bestselling author Susanna Kearsley

For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread-its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher.

But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn’t hold the secrets Sara expects. As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take… to find the road that will lead her safely home.

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Crash Into You

Crash Into You by Roni Loren is $2.99! This is an erotic romance with BDSM and suspense elements. Oh, and a second chance romance! There is a menage scene which some readers wished there was a warning about. So…menage warning, ahoy! It’s the first book in the Loving on the Edge series, doesn’t have a cliffhanger, and has a 3.9-star rating on Goodreads.

Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat-a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her, Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.

Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate-and so does the danger. Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.

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Vengeance Born

Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin is $2.99! This is a fantasy romance and the first in a series. Readers commended Griffin’s original world-building. However, others found that the pace of the book dragged in certain spots because of said world-building. Ah, such is often the crux of fantasy romances.

There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born…

Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy…

With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons-and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.

When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council-and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…

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[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed   Jul. 24th, 2017 01:00 pm

Posted by Jen

"If you only knew the POWER [squeak] of the Dark Side. JOIN ME [squeak] and we can [squeeeeak] RULE the... [squeaksqueaksqueakSPLASH!]

 

"I find your lack of balance...disturbing.

"Towel?"

 

Thanks to Angel K. for the splishin' and the splashin'.

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 24th, 2017 08:00 am

Posted by Elyse

Wonder Woman has been my favorite film so far this year, and it’s clearly resonated with a lot of romance readers (and women in general). For this edition of Stuff You Should Be Stitching, I’m focusing on Wonder Woman-themed awesomeness.

Now, you might have noticed that this column title changed from Stuff You Should Be Knitting. That’s because I’m going to try and focus more on cross stitch, needlepoint, sewing, and crochet as well. I’ll try to feature as many free patterns as possible too.

Stitchy Bitches unite!

First up, look at this beauty:

A modified triangular shawl with a red background and the Wonder Woman logo in gold.

This is the Wonder Woman Wrap by Carissa Browning and it’s free on Ravelry!

I literally gasped when I saw this. I have a lot of knitting planned–like 6 shawls by Christmas. I just bought yarn for a Find Your Fade. I still really, really need to make this for me.

Can you imagine wrapping up in this in the office, fighting professional injustice?

Also free is the Wonder Woman sweater by Natalie Bursztyn.

A woman models a pullover sweater designed to look like Wonder Woman's bodice against a blue backdrop with stars.

This is a seamed sweater, with a raglan sleeve and requires knowledge of colorwork.

If these projects are too large, there are smaller ones available too!

The Wonder Woman Scarf by Konchan Ie Me is also free on Ravelry! Once again this pattern involves some level of colorwork. It’s also reversible!

A long scarf with tassled ends. On one side is the Wonder Woman logo against a red backdrop. The other side is blue with white stars.

Lastly for knitters,  we have Wonder Woman Fingerless Gloves by Ducky Dame. This pattern is available for $4 on Etsy and could be a great stash-buster.

A pair of red fingerless gloves with the Wonder Woman logo across the back of the hands.

There are a TON of awesome Wonder Woman cross stitch patterns out there–don’t believe me? Just Google. Here are a few of my favorites.

This pattern by Hall Stitch is available on Esty for $3.75 and I love how it features just the shadow of Wonder Woman, her logo blazing through in white. It requires five floss colors and is available as a PDF download.

A dark blue shadow of Wonder Woman stands fiercely, her logo, the stars on her outift and her headband glow white. Her logo and name are stitched next to her in blue and red.

Susan Owenby of The Bored Zombie is offering this awesome cross stitch pattern for free! I especially love the 3-D detail of the Lasso of Hestia hanging on Diana’s belt.

Wonder Woman stands with her arms raised up against a blue and white striped background. Her lasso is a small braid that's looped and stitched onto her belt.

If you’re looking for a smaller project, there’s always this Wonder Woman logo available on Etsy for $2.75.  It’s a digital file and requires five colors of floss.

The wonder woman logo in a round shield. The interior of the shield is blue and the edge is red with white stars.

If you are happiest hooking, then you’ll be delighted by some of these awesome Wonder Woman crochet patterns.

My personal favorite is this gorgeous throw. I love how bold the colors are, and the black outline really makes the image pop. It’s designed by Nicole Pellegrino and is available for $8. The difficulty level is listed as easy, so it could be a fun project for beginners.

A throw blanket draped across a sofa. The Wonder Woman logo is in the center, with red above and white stars on a blue field below. There are red and blue borders.

Fans of arugami (crocheting small stuffed dolls or animals) should check out this free pattern. This adorable Wonder Woman doll would be great to give as a gift to an adult or child, or just to keep on your desk.

 

A small crocheted Wonder Woman doll.

Another amazing free pattern is this Wonder Woman headband with Diana’s long raven locks. Look at how adorable it is! The designer lists it as a beginner pattern too! I may have just died from the cute!

A super adorable baby wears a hat that is crocheted to look like Wonder Woman's headband with her long black curls flowing out from over it.

Last but not least is a sewing pattern for this Wonder Woman inspired apron. It’s available for $8 on Etsy and comes as a PDF download. I can’t sew or cook, but I have serious apron envy.

An apron on a dress form. The skirt is blue with stars and the bodice is red. There is gold trim along the bust and waist.

I’m going to a new Little Yarn Store this week and I may just have to get some yarn for that first shawl pattern.

I know so many of you are knitters, stitchers, hookers, and crafty crafters, so I want to make sure you know about the SBTB Ravelry Group! Come join us!

Did Wonder Woman inspire your crafting? What are you stitching?

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 24th, 2017 07:00 am

Posted by Redheadedgirl

A

Hate to Want You

by Alisha Rai
July 25, 2017 · Avon
RomanceContemporary RomanceErotica/Erotic Romance

This is the book that I was most excited to get at RT. When people saw that it was out in the wild, the most inhuman noises were made, and it was worth all of those noises.

ALL OF THEM.

So much angst. So much pathos. EVERYTHING HAPPENS SO MUCH.

Nicholas and Livvy are the scions of a grocery store partnership dynasty, started by their grandfathers after World War II. Ten years before the book began, Nicholas’ mother and Livvy’s father died in car accident, and Nicholas’ father bought Livvy’s mother’s share of the company for pennies on the dollar, leading to a schism the likes of which the grocery world had never seen. Livvy and Nicholas were a very happy couple until that point. Then Nicholas dumped her, Livvy left town, and in the intervening ten years, Livvy would text Nick to come to her on her birthday, where they would bang in the ancient and honorable tradition of “only one night, no one needs to know.”

Everyone has this idea that there is no way this plan could go wrong for them, but then it always does.

But her last birthday, Livvy didn’t summon Nick, and Nick was like, “Welp, I’m gonna wash the girl right out of my hair” but then her mother has a medical crisis. Livvy comes back to town and finally, it’s time to deal with all the festering crap. Will Nick and Livvy figure their shit out? Or even make a decision that they even could figure their shit out?

What I loved about this story is that here were two families who let themselves be defined by one event…but they were different events.  For Nick’s family, and specifically his father, it was the car accident. For Livvy’s family, it was the fact that Nick’s father cheated her mother out of their share of the company. Everything all of these people have done in the intervening ten years all lead back to those two moments in time.

Rai has described this as, “Romeo and Juliet without all the sexism crap and with an HEA” and….kind of? I mean, feuding families, yes, but it’s missing a bunch of the other elements that make up R&J. Children of feuding families falling in love is not exactly a trope that Shakespeare made up, and I know I’m being a bit snobby right here.

I very much liked how Rai worked in the history of the Japanese Internment Camps during WWII. Livvy’s grandfather was a child of Japanese immigrants, and when they were sentenced to a camp, they gave most of their belongings and assets to Nick’s family. Luckily, Nick’s family held them in trust for Livvy’s family and didn’t steal them (that was a thing that happened), and the two families were inseparable…until they were separated by a series of TERRIBLE CHOICES.

There’s a lovely through line about tattoos and the art people put on their bodies and the reasons for the art they choose. We’ve had a post or two about the book-related tattoos some of our delightful Bitchery have, and I know how deeply personal tattoos are for people, and that’s no less true here.

Often in books (not romance, I mean books in general) side characters can feel under-developed. They just sort of exist to nudge the plot along while the main characters get all the character development. One of things Rai has taken the time to do is make sure she knows what the motivations are for all of the supporting characters. They all have their own inner lives. We don’t spend a lot of time dealing with the needs and wants of Livvy’s sister-in-law (as an example), but I believe that Rai knows what they are, and that made her breathe on the page. Nick’s sister, Livvy’s mother, Nick’s father… all of these people are full characters in their own right.

In certain moods, I love me some angst, and this had SO MUCH ANGST. SO MUCH. Nick and Livvy were SO DAMAGED by the actions of their parents. Because families that have a fuck ton of money have the ability to use that money to bully younger generations, they both felt like they could not simply walk away from the mess together. (Please note: Livvy’s family no longer has their fuck ton of money, and Livvy is the one who walks away.) It’s so complicated, and so messy. I highly suggest reading this with a big glass of wine or a pint of ice cream (or both, don’t let me limit your experience).

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:00 pm

Posted by Guest Reviewer

B-

No Mistress of Mine

by Laura Lee Guhrke
August 30, 2016 · Avon
RomanceContemporary Romance

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by ReneeG. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Long Historical category.

The summary:

USA Today bestselling author Laura Lee Guhrke is back with the latest in her dazzling An American Heiress in London series, in which a reformed rogue finds all his honorable resolutions tested by the only woman who ever broke his heart…

After spending his youth as one of the wildest rakes in the ton, Lord Denys Somerton has devoted the past six years to putting his past behind him. He is determined to fulfill his duties, find a suitable wife, and start a family, but that plan changes when Lola Valentine—the red-haired temptress from his past—returns to London, sparking the same irresistible desires that almost ruined his life once before.

Lola is a woman with no romantic illusions. She knew love would never be enough for a British lord and an American girl from the wrong side of the tracks. For Denys’s sake, she walked away from him and the glittering life he offered. But when an unexpected inheritance brings her back to London, Lola discovers the passion between them is as hot as ever. Can they vanquish it, or will it burn out of control again and destroy them both?

Here is ReneeG's review:

No Mistress of Mine is the fourth book in the An American Heiress in London series and is second-chance-at-love catnip with competence porn sprinkles on top. It isn’t necessary to read the other books in the series in order to follow and enjoy this one. And, unusually, this book takes place in 1892 – shout-out to late Victorian industry!

Our stars, Denys (a British lord) and Lola (an American cancan/music hall star) have quite the past. They met in Paris when Denys was a young and irresponsible lordling and Lola was dancing said cancan. Lola moved to London with Denys, where he set her up in a little house in St. John’s Wood after she gave in to his mistress request. He mortgaged his property to finance her star turn in a play that quickly closed due to her poor acting abilities, so Lola ran away, back to Paris and dancing, where Denys followed her and proposed. Lola broke Denys’ heart when she turned him down, implying she was choosing an American investor as her next conquest and returning to America with him. Whew, that’s the backstory.

Our story opens with Lola’s American investor dying suddenly and leaving her his half ownership interest in a London theatre along with a nice chunk of change; the other half of the theatre is owned by Denys’ dad, Lord Conyers. After his wild, passionate, and expensive (failed theatre runs are not cheap) fling with Lola, and subsequent return from Paris after the failed proposal, Denys settled down and took over the family’s business concerns, including the theatre, and discovered he enjoys working for a living. Of course, Denys is a fabulous businessman and has done a tremendous job becoming wealthy and boring, but now he is toying with the idea of settling down with a childhood friend to start producing the next heir. But Lola’s back in town and she has a plan to both fulfill her dream of becoming a serious actress and to ditch the music hall singer/dancer persona once and for all – and she needs Denys’ help to do it.

What I enjoyed the most about the book was the competence porn and the “using of the words.” First, Lola had studied very hard to become a dramatic actress while performing in her own one-woman show in New York (which she had devised and updated, according to the limits placed upon her by her backers). It seemed realistic, based solely on my love of Hollywood and Broadway musicals, that Lola’s backers would want her to keep doing the type of show that was making them money (the old “wink and jiggle, song and dance” act), regardless of Lola’s desire for Shakespeare. It took the death of her “American protector” to free her to pursue her dream in London.

While realizing that the only way she would have a chance at a serious dramatic role involves using her inherited half of the theatre, Lola is also very aware that she will cause Denys pain when she comes back into his life. She apologizes for what happened in the past and spends much time trying to explain about her past (and thinking naked thoughts about Denys). Denys, practicing advanced therapeutic techniques not often seen in Late Victorian London, gradually hears her and comes to understand why she acted the way she did (while also thinking naked thoughts about Lola). Witty banter and genuine communication happen. It doesn’t occur overnight, but over time harsh feelings are softened. Real naked-times happen, not as a weapon from the past but as a gift for the present. The pacing of this was well done – Lola didn’t blurt out what happened to her all at once, but placed pieces of herself before Denys to help him understand her better; they didn’t hop into bed for revenge or old-time memories but because they had hot pants for each other now.

The part which let me down was the ending. Spoilers ahoy!

Ending!
After killing it onstage in her first role (which she earned through an audition, not because she half-owned the theatre, BTW), Lola decides to toss it all aside when Lord Conyers threatens to tell Denys and the world about her first lover. I just didn’t believe Lola would tuck her tail and run away – again – not after the growth she went through to take her career back into her own hands. After all, she came back to London, where she had flopped like a dying fish, to realize her dream, a dream that sustained her through all the bad in her life. This giant Gong Show plot device was a clumsy way of dragging Lola off the stage so she would be free marry Denys.

After Lola says that society will always see her as trash, Denys sets up a Surprise! proposal to show Lola that he knows best, and uses his friends and their American wives to persuade Lola to stay.

This was a step too far for me. None of the wives had met Lola personally, but they all agree to stand with her against the ton. But let’s take a moment and think about this – wouldn’t you want to meet the woman who was the heartbreaking ex-cancan-dancer-actress-mistress of your husband’s friend and make up your own mind? Wouldn’t that seem rather necessary, especially if you were a just-married American heiress being called upon to use your new social clout to protect said heartbreaker from the slings and arrows of London Society? Do these wives have any ability to say “nope, not gonna ‘til we do tea” to their husbands?

In Romancelandia, an ex-cancan-dancer-actress-mistress (especially if she reforms into a serious actress who does Shakespeare) can grab a happy ending with a lord and get to be part of the ton by jumping through some hoops to make herself respectable. And when you have to reform a shady lady so she is fit for said society, you sometimes have to stretch the story to make it fit that HEA. It just seems a bit much to take away poor Lola’s strength and purpose to make that stretch.

Because the ending seemed so rushed and pulled out of the ether, especially after all the work establishing Lola as a strong, successful woman and the effort Lola and Denys put into their relationship, I had to lower my initial grade. Still, No Mistress of Mine was a mostly enjoyable story, despite how personally disappointing the ending was.

I’d like to thank everyone at SBTB for the opportunity to write these reviews. It is great fun to contribute to a site I love so much!


No Mistress of Mine by Laura Lee Guhrke received a B- in a previous RITA Reader Challenge Review.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 23rd, 2017 05:00 pm

Posted by Redheadedgirl

This is a movie that starts tense, stays tense, and ends… still pretty tense. It’s also a masterclass in film structure, and I would put it up there with Hell or High Water as one of the best constructed movies of the modern age.

It also had one of the most effective teaser trailers I’ve ever seen.

Dunkirk tells the story of the Miracle at Dunkirk, a week at the end of May and beginning of June, 1940 where the bulk of the British Expeditionary Forces and the remaining French army were surrounded by the German army on all sides. A superhuman effort to get as many of the 400,000 troops out of France was more successful than expected, due to the use of the Little Ships of Dunkirk: civilian fishing boats, ferries, pleasure yachts, and lifeboats that were shallow enough to come up to the beaches and gather up as many people as they could. When Churchill put Operation Dynamo, the evacuation plan, in motion, he expected to evacuate around 35,000 troops. In the end, the number was over 338,000.

It’s one of those turning points in history: if the BEF had been crushed by the German army in that week, that probably would have been it for the Allied forces. Stuff You Missed in History Class did an excellent two part episode covering the events leading up to the Dunkirk evacuation, and the evacuation itself, and I highly recommend it.

Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar) got the idea for this movie over 20 years ago, but realized that he wasn’t a good enough filmmaker yet to make the movie he had in his head, so he shelved it, and worked on movies with big scopes and big budgets and played around with narrative and made himself into the filmmaker that could make this movie the way he wanted to.

The movie is structured around three POVs: land, sea, and air. On land, he tells the story of the men on the beach – it takes about a week in their time. On sea, the story is one of the little ships, and we’re with them for one day. In the air, there’s three Spitfires providing air support to the  operation, and we’re with them for an hour. The narratives cut back and forth between POVs, until they overlap and eventually end with all the narratives ending at the same place.

It’s basically the movie version of the Golden Ratio. I can’t stress enough how much I liked how well put together each storyline was and how well they wove together. Nolan has talked about how he used a mathematical structure to put things together, and what this does is it makes the entire film extremely atmospheric and claustrophobic.

In the land section (it’s referred to as The Mole, because of the breakwater that was used as a dock, since most of the harbor at Dunkirk was destroyed), most of the action is experienced through the eyes of a young soldier, Tommy (FIonn Whitehead, aka Not Harry Styles), as he makes it through the town of Dunkirk to the beach, and onto various ships as he tries to get home. He hooks up with Alex (Harry Styles) and some other people, while the officers (Kenneth Branagh and James D’arcy) manage the evacuation.

On the sea, Mark Rylance plays a man who owns a pleasure yacht, and when the call goes out that the Navy is activating the civilian fleet go to Dunkirk and help, he chooses to pilot his own ship, instead of letting the Navy commandeer her (in general, most of the Little Ships were piloted by the Navy). With him is his son and another kid from their town, and they pick up Cillian Murphy from a wreck along the way.  Cillian Murphy is only credited as “shivering soldier” and is completely traumatized by his experiences.

In the air, Tom Hardy flies a Spitfire and shoots down German planes. We get to see his face once, and most of his scenes are just him, in his cockpit.

There are a bunch of things that make this movie so effective. One is that the Germans are mostly a completely unseen threat. You never see them, except in planes. You don’t know where they are or where they’re coming from. The movie starts almost in media res: all Nolan needs you to know is that the bulk of the British army is on this beach, and there’s no way out but across the Channel.  You don’t need to know anyone’s backstory, or motivation, except for what is immediately important: get off the beach, get as many people on the boat as possible, shoot down those planes.

Another thing is the music. Hans Zimmer did the score, and his partnerships with Nolan has been REALLY good. I like Zimmer’s music a lot, but he has a tendency toward sameness, except when a director can really get him to focus. Most of the score involves a low drone in the background, reminiscent of the sounds of a diving plane, or an air raid siren. It adds to sense of dread and urgency. (I like using Zimmer’s music as a writing sound track. I’m wondering how well this will work added to my “writing” playlist.)

My main criticism is that I wish that either Fionn Whitehead or Harry Styles had blonde hair. They looked a LOT alike so it was hard to keep them straight. That’s kind of the point- the swirling mass of humanity was supposed to be faceless, but I spent a lot of time going “Is that… which kid is that?”

Also, yes, it’s a dude heavy movie – there were women involved at Dunkirk, mostly as nurses on the ships (the heroine in The Secrets of Nanreath Hall was a Dunkirk nurse), and they are seen, but not really involved in the main thrust of the narrative. Honestly, I’m okay with this particular facet. Others might feel differently.

It’s also an exclusively white movie, and there were four companies from the Indian Army Service Corps at Dunkirk.  (I could not find quickly any concrete information on other soldiers of color in the BEF, other than a forum that said “Well, there wasn’t really a color bar for the British army” so if anyone has more solid sources, please do post them.) (Edited to add: Slate has a good article on accuracy in the movie, and they do address the Indian Army Service Corps issue – that it would have been good to see them, even though yeah, it would have been less than a thousand among hundreds of thousands. And there were French soldiers of North African ancestry who were also part of the evacuation.)

What I liked best was what I can learn about storytelling: what are different ways to tell a story that makes the point the creator wants? Take risks! Trust your audience! And if you have an idea for an art, but you think you might not be ready to make it yet so it works in the way you want it to, it’s okay to shelve it and develop your skills until you’re the creator you need to be for this piece of art to match your vision.

I am not gonna lie. I cried when those Little Ships came across the horizon. In the Imperial War Museum in London, the Tamzine, the littlest of the Little Ships, stands next to a Spitfire and other vehicles of war. And she’s just as important. She had a job to do, and she did it.

Dunkirk is in theaters now. Tickets (US) are available at Fandango and Moviefone.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 23rd, 2017 03:30 pm

Posted by Amanda

For 100 Days

For 100 Days by Lara Adrian is 99c! This is a contemporary erotic romance and the first in a trilogy, so there MAY be some cliffhanger action going on, but I didn’t see anything about that in any reviews. Readers also recommend this book for fans of alpha heroes, so if that isn’t you bag, you may want to reconsider!

Struggling artist Avery Ross is barely scraping by. Bartending at a trendy New York City restaurant for an overbearing boss and two weeks away from losing her apartment to a condo developer, she’s desperate for a break. So when she’s offered a temporary housesitting job, she takes it.

Living at one of the poshest addresses in Manhattan is like entering a new world–one that catapults her into the orbit of billionaire Dominic Baine, the darkly handsome, arrogantly alpha resident of the building’s penthouse. What begins as a powerful attraction soon explodes into a white-hot passion neither can deny.

Yet as scorching as their need for each other is, Avery doesn’t expect Nick’s interest in her to last. Nor does she dare to dream that the desire she feels for this scarred, emotionally remote man could deepen into something real. For Avery has secrets of her own–and a past that could destroy her . . . and shatter everything she and Nick share.

FOR 100 DAYS is the first novel in a passionate new contemporary romance trilogy from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Lara Adrian.

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Broken Resolutions

Broken Resolutions by Olivia Dade is $1.99! Readers thought the book was missing a lot of the romance, while others loved the pairing of a shy librarian and a reclusive author. However, readers also say it’s a series that gets better and better. Have you read this one?

LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES
 
Romance has never had a happy ending for librarian Penny Callahan, who could write the book on cheating, heartbreaking liars. So she’s made a resolution: no men for the next twelve months. If she can just get through the library’s New Year’s Eve singles night, she can return home to her pajamas and a good book. But when she finds herself checking out a hot hunk with an irresistible smile, an evening in the stacks becomes a lot more tempting…

Reclusive author Jack Williamson never should have trusted his mother. Even though he’s trying to avoid being recognized, she guilts him into attending a dating meet-and-greet—where an adorable librarian makes him question his lonely lifestyle. Is this just a fleeting, flirty scene? Or could love be the next chapter for them both?

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Dangerous in Diamonds

Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter is $1.99! This is the fourth book in the Rarest Blooms series, but it can be read as a standalone. Readers loved the “bad boy” duke hero, but some say there’s a big reveal or twist at the end that caught them off guard. It has a 3.9-star rating on Goodreads.

There is only one man who can shake Daphne’s composure.
And there is only one woman who can resist Castleford’s outrageous brand of seduction.

The Duke of Castleford has been so bad for so long that scandal can’t be bothered to rise up around him anymore. To alleviate the boredom of his privileged life, he occupies himself with drinking and whoring, not to mention the occasional duel. When something piques his interest, however, he has been known to emerge from his ennui and employ his considerable mental faculties to finding answers to the questions that fascinate him.

When Daphne Joyes rejects this notorious hedonist’s seduction, she assumes that he will forget about her and continue on his path to hell. Instead her beauty, grace and formidable composure captivate him, and she becomes one of those fascinations to him. That he intends to have her, and soon, is actually the least of the dangers that his pursuit of her presents. More troublesome is his interest in her past and her history, and the way he keeps poking his nose into the secrets behind the distant relative’s bequest that gave him ownership of the property where she lives.

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Rope ‘Em

Rope ‘Em by Delphine Dryden is 99c! This is an erotic romance with cowboys! It’s also the second in the Giddyup series and the first book is also on sale! There is a trigger warning for this book for attempted sexual assault. However, readers loved the chemistry between the hero and heroine, as well as the BDSM elements.

TIED UP
Returning home to help out with his brother’s dude ranch is cool with Ethan. After all, he’s as comfortable in the saddle as he is roping a calf. But what’s really jangling his spurs is a chance to indulge his kink in the ranch’s monthly Giddyup event. Did someone say suspension bondage? Yee-Haw!

TEASED
When Victoria realizes her family’s number one goal in sending her to college is to get her hitched to a husband, she drops out one semester shy of graduation. But paying her own way turns out to be the hardest lesson of all. Thankfully she’s found her way to the Hilltop Ranch. A place to get away and refocus. And get herself all tied up. . .

TAKEN
Sure, Ethan’s pretty handy with that length of rope. But it turns out the expensive design school wasn’t a total waste for Victoria. Bringing an “academic” approach to their play—and Ethan’s hobby—is opening up new possibilities. Like maybe the chemistry between them is something more than a game. . .

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[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed   Jul. 23rd, 2017 02:00 pm

Posted by Guest Reviewer

B+

Always a Bridesmaid

by Lizzie Shane
September 13, 2016 · Lizzie Shane
RomanceHistorical: European

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Jillian Boyd. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Long Contemporary category.

The summary:

She’s all heart. He’s all business.

Parvati Jai knows better than to pin any romantic hopes on Max Dewitt. She may have had a crush on her best friend’s older brother since she figured out what boys were good for, but she’s looking for Mister Forever – not a workaholic entrepreneur with a romantic attention span that tops out at two weeks. Yet with her business failing, her newly-engaged best friend vanishing into a love bubble, and even her teenage niece announcing she’s getting married, Max becomes the one person she can rely on – and the idea of a little fling with him becomes even more tempting.

Max knows his little sister’s best friend is off-limits…until Parvati confesses she once had a crush on him and he can’t help seeing her in a new – and very intriguing – light. He’s never been good at letting people past his charming facade, but something about Parvati makes him want to let down his defenses.

But even if he lets himself fall for her, how can he convince a woman who knows all about his love-’em-and-leave-’em ways that he finally wants forever?

Here is Jillian Boyd's review:

Even though Always a Bridesmaid is a spin-off from Lizzie Shane’s Reality Romance series, this one works perfectly fine if you haven’t read that series. This book gives you just the right amount of context. Our heroine, Parvati Jai – lifelong besties with Sidney Dewitt, the protagonist from Planning on Prince Charming – is the owner of a little indie coffee house in Eden, California. She’s single, which makes her the odd one out among her sisters and cause for a lot of gentle familial concern.

But the being single thing is the least of Parv’s worries – her business is failing, and fast, and she’s run out of ideas to keep the coffee house going. In addition to that, her 18-year-old niece announces her engagement at Parv’s parents’ wedding anniversary party, and her bff Sidney is caught up in her own wedding planning business (not to mention the reality show she hosts, where she’s responsible for planning fairytale weddings for deserving brides). For Parv, the feeling of loneliness is an ever-creeping menace.

There’s one bright spot in her life though – Sidney’s brother, Max. Loyal customer at her coffee shop, in her life since she was six years old, the object of a very long-standing crush.

Max Dewitt was tall and muscular enough that he should have looked like a wrestler in a monkey suit, but instead he looked like James Bond – a sexy, super ripped James Bond with perfectly styled dark brown hair and steely grey eyes that somehow managed to be warm when he smiled at her. Which he did now, revealing perfectly straight, perfectly white teeth. And the dimple… really, the dimple was just unfair. Sex appeal overkill.

It’s… not hard to see why, is it?

A big theme in the book, apart from friends-to-lovers (and if this is your catnip, delve right in) is the expectations familial legacies bring with them. Parvati’s folks have been together since they were both nineteen. Her father is a retired and highly respected pharmaceutical researcher – who used to work for Max and Sidney’s mother. Her mother was a developmental psychologist and educational adviser to the governor of California, and has a best-selling book and a career as a motivational speaker.

Add to that four fiercely intelligent career women as older sisters, all of them married and with kids, all of them with CV’s which are… well, impressive does not begin to cover it. Max and Sidney, meanwhile, are the children of two steely-eyed career people. As mentioned earlier, their mother owned a pharmaceutical company, and their father is a powerful business mogul who has based himself mostly in Switzerland. There are some pretty messed-up dynamics between the Dewitts and their kids, who both own their own businesses but continue to operate under the shadow of their own upbringing.

It’s a lot to live up to, and Parv spends a lot of the book feeling like she’s failed at life because she isn’t more like her sisters and parents. Which, at points, does make you feel like you want to take her aside and tell her everything will be fine, love, you walk your own path and other stuff to that tune. But Parv feels so relatable – whether you’re at a cross-roads with your working life, or you’re a bit deflated because everyone around you seems to be settling down. Sure, everything’s drawn in broad strokes, but there will be moments where you go… “ah, yes, it me, just a little bit.”

“And I never once felt like I could relax. Five years of stress, Max. The only place I felt like myself was in my stainless steel palace of a kitchen. Which was too big, really, for a coffee house, but I indulged because it was the only place I could breathe.”

Max – the owner of a security agency – can get annoyingly protective. There’s a lot of mention of Parv being “off limits,” to the point where it’ll make you roll your eyes. There are a few bits of plot that get brushed over and not given a satisfying ending. And the tension between Parvati and Sidney goes on for far too long. But this is, by and large, a good book which reads at a zippy pace. It made me want to delve into the series it’s been spun off from – which revolves around a The Bachelor-style reality show called Marrying Mr. Perfect – and makes me want to read the books in this new series as well. Especially the next book, tackling the relationship between Max’s tech guru Candy and bodyguard Pretty Boy (oh my Christ, Candy is proper heart-eyes material).

If you’ve been feeling a bit low, Always a Bridesmaid does the business as a pick-me-up read and does it very well. Fair warning though – it will make you want cake. Like, a lot.


Always a Bridesmaid by Lizzie Shane received a B- in a previous RITA Reader Challenge Review.

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