Faking It (Losing It #2) by Cora Carmack

Book: Faking It (Losing It #2) faking_it

Author: Cara Carmack

ebook: 304 pages

Published: June 4, 2013

B.O.S.SF Review: largelargelargelarge

From Goodreads: Mackenzie “Max” Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they’re expecting to meet a nice, wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.

Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he’s kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee shop with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they’re forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.

*****

I received Faking It in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss.  THANK YOU! 🙂

While I liked Losing It, I REALLY liked Faking It!  It’s been a few weeks since I finished Faking It, and it still gives me that happy feeling when I think back on it.  We get to hear from both Cade and Max’s point of view.  Both Cade and Max were both delightful in Faking It – I really liked Cade in Losing It, even if he was a sorry excuse for the love triangle… because we all knew that just wasn’t going.to.happen.  Carmack’s character development was awesome  – both main characters were complex and dealing with issues from their past, and I really enjoyed seeing the two of them learn to overcome their obstacles and open themselves up for love 🙂  (hehe, corny, but true!)

ANYWAY, back to Cade in Faking It – he was just perfect.  Swoonworthy, sweet, loyal, and he’s just a darn good person.  We got to hear more about his upbringing (he had a harder than average life…), but despite that all, Cade was such a positive person.  He was down in the dumps when we first meet him in Philadelphia.  He’s heart broken and lost, but after being forced into Max’s life, we get to see the charismatic Cade return.

Max was a multilayered main character – just how I like them.  She was a passionate, functional adult with a strong, unique personality.  While she did a few things that made me want to shake her shoulders and tell her to stop being so cold, I still liked her.  Max felt very real to me.  You’d think she’s untouchable and wouldn’t put up with anyone’s crap, but she’s a broken young woman on the inside.

The chemistry between Max and Cade was hot – although there was an initial attraction, there was no insta-love (THANKFULLY), but their budding romance went from appreciating each other’s good looks to knowing how to be there for one another.  I fell in love with the two of them during their first scene together in the coffee shop, and the two shared some hilariously awkward/hot/sweet/hilarious moments through Faking It.  I will go as far to say I liked Cade + Max > Bliss + Garrick.  I’d love to see what everyone else feels about that!

While Faking It does have some of the heavy New Adult trends, it still had enough of the breezy humor, sexual tension, and adorable moments (without being nauseating..).  Faking It is one of my favorite New Adult books that I’ve read, and consider me being a big CC fan!

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Trail of Dead (Scarlett Bernard #2) by Scarlett Bernard

Book: Trail of Dead (Scarlett Bernard #2)17235997

Author: Melissa F. Olson

Published: June 4, 2013

Paperback, 295 pages

B.O.S.SF Review: largelargelargelarge

*****

Summary from Goodreads: As a null, Scarlett Bernard possesses a rare ability to counteract the supernatural by instantly neutralizing spells and magical forces. For years she has used her gift to scrub crime scenes of any magical traces, helping the powerful paranormal communities of Los Angeles stay hidden. But after LAPD detective Jesse Cruz discovered Scarlett’s secret, he made a bargain with her: solve a particularly grisly murder case, and he would stay silent about the city’s unearthly underworld.

Now two dead witches are found a few days before Christmas, and Scarlett is once again strong-armed into assisting the investigation. She soon finds a connection between the murders and her own former mentor, Olivia, a null who mysteriously turned into a vampire and who harbors her own sinister agenda. Now Scarlett must revisit her painful past to find Olivia—unless the blood-drenched present claims her life first.

*****

I received a copy of Trail of Dead from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  And if I’m being honest, this was probably the most excited that I’ve been to receive an ARC to read and review!!!

I enjoyed Trail of Dead even better than I did Dead Spots.  All of our favorite characters (vampires… witches…werewolves… etc.) come back for the second installment in the Scarlett Bernard series.

My favorite part, hands down, of Trail of Dead is that we get to learn more about our main character, Miss Scarlett Bernard.  Yes, Scarlett can kick butt and get a job done, but she’s a sad, lost girl who needs a true friend to be there for her.  My character review of Scarlett in Dead Spots didn’t pick up on the things that seem obvious to me now (I will have to reread Dead Spots before book 3!)  Dashiell (my fav), Kirsten, and Will, the supernatural leaders of the Los Angeles area, all respect their favorite null/cleaner, and all of them show concern for her well being.  What stood out to me more was not Scarlett’s sense of humor or casual/cool style, but how confused and damaged she is.  Without giving any spoilers…. Scarlett thinks that her existence and null abilities are the culprit for lots of bloodshed.  She blames herself for several deaths, including her parents, and doesn’t know that her roommate Molly or “boyfriend” Eli care about her or if they care about what being around her does for their supernatural selves.   She’s lonely, and she doesn’t know if she belongs in the supernatural world or the human world.  A hardened exterior and some snarky jokes try to mask the hurt that she is harboring underneath her cool disposition.  Her new found skill confuses the heck out of her, and I’m excited to continue to see what else she’ll learn about it.

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The love triangle is still there, but I think it seems obvious who Scarlett would like to be with.  Mr. Cop (Jesse) has strong feelings for Scarlett, but he can’t get over what she does for her profession.  Cleaning up supernatural crime scenes goes against what he believes in as a detective and as a person, so it puts him in an awkward position.  His refusal to accept Scarlett for what she does adds to her self punishment.  Eli wants to be with Scarlett… he wants to hold her and be with her always.  But Scarlett still isn’t sure if he truly wants to be with her.   This doubt that Scarlett carries puts stress on their relationship.

Trail of Dead isn’t one of those sexy-times paranormal romance novels – in fact, there isn’t much romantic “action” at all.  It’s an Urban Fantasy series that puts more emphasis on world building, intricate plots, and complex characters. With Scarlett being so vulnerable and the way that the plot unfolded, there simply wasn’t enough time to fit in extra hookups!

Trail of Dead is told mostly from Scarlett’s point of view, but every few chapters, we hear from Jesse Cruz’s point of view as well.  It was a good way to find out clues as to what the villains were planning, since Scarlett and Jesse aren’t together the whole time (and to see what Jesse thinks about the supernatural world and Scarlett…)  We also got to see how Jesse’s love life had been after we left off in Dead Spots.  It was interesting, but I wasn’t thrilled to hear about him with a yoga bunny after things didn’t work out with Scar-bear!  I wish that we could see what Eli thinks from time to time, too!  In The Mortal Instruments series, we get to hear from all three parts of the love triangle 🙂  I preferred hearing the story told from Scarlett’s point of view, mostly because I feel like she has more relevance to the whole background story.  I liked the plot in Trail of Dead as much as I liked Dead Spots.  They both have the same creeptastic, bloody crime scene that begs the question… what the heck happened!?  And then they dive right into what could have caused such a thing to happen… and why?  Trail of Dead builds on the major cliffhanger that we were left with in Dead Spots, but there are many more mysteries to uncover as the story moves along.  Sometimes, I found myself a little confused on all of the names of the special witch artifacts, but I think I kept up!

It was obvious that Olson put a lot of research into her writing, and that really helped with the world building come together.  Her tidbits on the areas of LA (the traffic down to the weather and how people dress), supernatural artifacts and history (OK, I did not google to see if there is any history behind this, but it was believable enough to me!), and Jesse’s job as a detective (we got to hear more about the day to day paper pushing aspect of the job, and not just yellow tape and crime scenes).  It’s impressive.  I can tell that Olson loves what she is doing, and I thought she had Scarlett, Jesse, and Olivia’s and most of the rest of the gang’s characters down very well.  After finishing Trail of Dead, I think Scarlett is a bit like an onion (Shrek shout out!), because she is complex, one of a kind, and a bit of a lost soul.  There’s so much to her that she internalizes, and we keep finding more and more about her.  I can’t wait to see what Olson has in store for Scarlett, (and Jesse and Eli and everyone else, too!)  Can’t wait for book 3!!!

I will be featuring an exclusive interview with Melissa in the near future, so stay tuned!

Thank you again to Melissa and to 47th North for allowing me to read and review!

Spirit (Elemental #3) by Brigid Kemmerer

Book: Spirit (Elemental #3) Spirit

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Published: May 28, 2013

Paperback: 308 pages

B.O.S.SF Review:largelargelargelarge

****

Summary from Goodreads: With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…

****

I received Spirit in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

I enjoyed Spirit, but it let me down in some ways, too.  I suppose that is because I was riding such an Elemental high after Spark… and then Breathless!  Spirit left me wanting more, but don’t get me wrong, I still would highly recommend the book and series, and I’m firm with my 4 star book review).  Hunter’s story reminded me a bit of Gabriel’s in Spark, in that EVERYTHING seemed to be going wrong for poor Hunter.  The difference (and ballsy choice by BK) is that things just didn’t pan out in the end for Hunter.  And it isn’t the kind of ‘not working out’ that will resolve itself in the next Elemental book.. it’s like damn, Hunter, this all just sucks.  BK made the story darker, and that was a good move for the Elemental series.  Since Spirit is the half way point in the 5 part Elemental series, it was the right time to add a darker element.  (I think of Star Wars:  The Empire Strikes back and Opal (Lux #3) as examples of making a game changing shakeup at the halfway point).

Spirit jumped right into action from the get go, and we also are right where Spark left off.  The story flowed pretty well, and it still had the addictive nature to it that made it hard to put down.  There’s a group of Elementals that is trying to draw the Guides there, and even though the Merricks are not involved, they will likely be blamed.  What’s a Guide in training (aka Hunter) to do???  Like every other Elemental book, the story switches from the guy to the girl’s point of view.  I enjoyed hearing Hunter’s voice more than Kate’s, but that’s been the case with each book in the series.  We have more invested in the guys, since they are the stars of the series!

Like I said, our main man, Hunter, could not catch a break!  tumblr_mequqhKDC51rpmj30o1_500

Hunter didn’t trust anyone, and he made it hard for anyone to trust him. The guy is struggling.  After losing his father and uncle, Hunter had a hard time adjusting.  They weren’t just his family, but they were his role models and he spent almost all of his time with them.  (Sidenote: I recommend that you read Fearless (Elemental 1.5) before you read Spirit… this is a prequel but includes a lot of spoilers for Storm).  In Spirit, Hunter internally struggles with the unanswered questions he had for his father.  Did he ever love his mom?  Did he ever love him?  His mother and Hunter can’t seem to get on the same page since the accident, and Hunter’s grandparents are the worst.  The Merricks certainly don’t trust him (tell me the bromance isn’t gone for good, BK!?)

tumblr_m04v5jBkAs1qdap7wo1_500The Guides are unsure where Hunter’s alliances fall, so he hasn’t earned their trust either.  Basically, the kid is on his own.  tumblr_mf74k4U6kJ1r50qq4o1_500

It was like an emotional roller coaster listening to Hunter’s voice.  While he was too proud to ask for help, there were hundreds of cracks in his steely exterior.  He shed tears, threw punches, and stormed out of rooms… several times!  At least he’s got a loyal pooch to shadow his every step.  It was harder for me to get a feel for Hunter, because he clearly doesn’t know who he is either (so if that’s what BK wanted to convey…. she got it!).  Gabriel had his share of demons to overcome in Spark, but the things going on with Hunter all JUST happened.  The wounds are too fresh, and he hasn’t allowed himself to heal.  He struggles with what he was born into and what his gut was telling him to do.  The Merricks are pure Elementals, and they could level a town/cause a catastrophic disaster, so what’s stopping him from turning them in?  And why does he care what they think about him?  We did learn a little bit more about what Hunter’s Spirit contributes to the Elemental five pointed pentagram…. wondering what will happen in the next book!

Kate was a pretty bad ass love interest.  In Storm, Becca annoyed me at times, but compared to the other love interests, Becca made the biggest impression on me in terms of contributing to the story.  Probably because she will be an important part of the upcoming series.  But Kate had a good story – she shared the same conflict that Hunter had.  She, too, had a big problem with trust and turning off her compassion.  She thought she knew right from wrong, but she had questions of her own.  I thought Kate had some contradictions, but I don’t want to go into too much detail because I would hate to cause spoilers.   Her initial resolve and her back story didn’t add up to me – perhaps she was overcompensating and lying to herself, but wouldn’t she admit that in her inner monologue?  Kate knew how to handle strong ment, and her training to be a Guide let her be quick on her feet and quick-witted (sorta).

How can I write a review on the Elemental series without touching on my fav brothers??  Michael continues to grow on me with each book.  He came across as being intimidating and unreasonable in Storm (mainly from Becca’s perspective), but he is wise beyond his years.  Isn’t he supposed to be like 22?  He acts like he’s older than that.  In addition to being perceptive and protective, Michael is also sensitive to the needs of the 16-year-old Elemental guys.  He remembers the struggles he endured during high school, and he will do anything to make life easier for the younger Merricks (plus Hunter).  I’m glad that Michael is giving more of himself to his family.  For awhile, it seemed like he was guarded to them,and he was misunderstood.  It is clear to them that he will do anything to protect those that he loves.  And I love him for that.  Gabriel – yes, yes… he is my favorite!  Is he everyone’s favorite?  He does have the snarky bad boy thing goin’ on,  but he’s so sensitive like a puppy dog.  I think I’ll go as far to say that I want Gabriel Merrick to be my book boyfriend.  I, unsurprisingly, loved Gabriel’s parts in Spirit.  The bromance that thrived in Spark fizzled out, and Gabriel wants answers.  3u2y2pEven though Gabriel has his shit together (thanks to Layne and the support of the Merrick clan), his feelings were still hurt from Hunter’s betrayal.  Gabriel isn’t the ‘let’s talk it out’ kind of guy.  He’ll lead with his fists before he leads with a ‘what’s up’ and his combative nature was the perfect catalyst to let Hunter unleash his rage.  The two of them are meant to be best buds, and I now they will be an unstoppable badass team in the next books.  Nicky – I’m just waiting to hear more of his story!  I love his devotion to his brothers and calm exterior.  Chris didn’t have a big role in Spirit, but what I liked about his presence is that he still carried the same disdain for Hunter that he had in Storm.  I hate when books just brush things under the carpet.  The Becca love triangle is still an issue for him… understandably so!

The ending left me with a smile (thank you Gabriel), and we have a nice setup for the future books.  b2a0a_ORIG-bromance0924_colbert-stewart-emmys-2_ob

I hope Hunter finally lets himself be loved… I’ll worry about him until he finds a happily ever after!

PS I NEED the Elemental books to come out in audiobook!  That is my favorite way to get reacquainted with a series before the next book in an installment comes out.  BK – let’s make it happen!  Pretty please??

Breathless (Elemental #2.5) by Brigid Kemmerer

Book: Breathless (Elemental #2.5)breathless

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Published: April 30, 2013

ebook, 65 pages

B.O.S.SF Review: largelargelargelargelarge

 

*****

From Goodreads: Too many secrets. Not enough time.

Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hotheaded brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace

*****

I received a copy of Breathless in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.  Thank you!

By now you already know that I am currently loving the Elemental series!  The way that Brigid Kemmerer reveals more about a Merrick brother (plus Hunter) in each story is brilliant.  After falling in love with Gabriel Merrick in Spark, I couldn’t wait to dive into Breathless that featured Gabriel’s (hot) identical twin, Nick’s story.  Although Breathless is a novella, so the story isn’t as long as the other brother’s, it gave us a very intimate look into Nick’s life that I did not see coming.    While Gabriel and Chris are both argumentative, Nick has always been the most reserved and seemingly level-headed brother.  Nick does not have it all put together though.  In fact, he’s as lost as they come.  It turns out Nick has lived his life, repressing the things that he truly wants.  His dreams of going to college are one example of how Nick doesn’t put his wants in front of what he thinks his brothers need.  He’d hate to leave Michael behind running the family business, and he’s afraid of leaving Gabriel behind.  And then there’s this other big secret that Nick has.  Nick doesn’t feel like he can follow his heart in other aspects, too, and no matter how close he feels to his family, he can’t bring himself to let them in on his deepest secrets.

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The flip side of the story follows Nick’s newest love interest….Becca’s best friend, Quinn.  Quinn always seemed a bit annoying… too loud… and too crass, but it was nice to get to see what’s going on to make her that way.  Her family life could come straight from an episode of Maury.  Quinn is truly just on her own, and I can see why she has so much pent up anger due to her dysfunctional family.
Breathless left me NEEDING more from Nick and Quinn’s side of the story.  I can’t wait to hear about the sweet motorcycle man and Quinn’s dance partner, Adam <3.
Love the Elemental book series!

Unhinged (Underworld #1) by Tempest C. Avery

Book: Unhinged (Underworld #1) 13 - 1

Author: Tempest C. Avery

Published: April 6, 2013

Purchase on Smashwords

B.O.S.SF Review: largelargelargelargelarge

*****

From Goodreads: Spencer Perry lost everything the day her boyfriend died. Even when he came back as a ghost, she was never able to return to her old self. Determined to find a way to bring both of them back–him from the dead and her from her depression–Spencer hops a ride with a Reaper across the river to the Underworld where she meets the god of the dead. Hadrian isn’t what she expected Hades to be like, but when he agrees to a deal that can get her Micah back, she puts all caution aside and accepts. Too bad she didn’t realize that she’d also just accepted a lot more than one gorgeous yet frustrating god. Bad things are happening all around her, and now she not only has to worry about keeping Micah’s ghost status a secret from their friends, but also figure out who’s behind all of the accidents. All signs point towards Hadrian, but something about that just doesn’t feel right to her. Something that she hopes has nothing to do with her growing attraction towards him.

*****

I was provided this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Obviously, I loved Unhinged!  I thought Unhinged was the total package when it came to Young Adult Paranormal books. It had an angsty love triangle, a hot bad boy, paranormal aspects, and coming of age issues. The story was creepy, unique, humorous, and surprising.  Unhinged ties in Greek Mythology for the whole story, and I thought that was very cool. I haven’t studied that since high school, but it was a fun twist. Plus Hadrian made such a hot Hades!

Spencer was our main character, and although I didn’t like her as much as Hadrian, I still enjoyed her voice.  I thought she was pretty realistic for our heart broken high school girl.  On top of dealing with the God of the Underworld to bring her ghost of a boyfriend back from the dead, she’s dealing with some big issues that we face when we grow up.  Spencer is pretty insecure.  She has defined herself by the relationships that she had in the past, primarily, her boyfriend (and best friend), Micah.  After Micah died, Spencer lost her identity.  She thought that she should have died along Micah’s side, because she was so lost without him. Relationships change.  It’s something that has been uncomfortable for me, too.  Spencer still has comforting love and memories with Micah, but once things start changing, can they love who they are turning into?   That is the root of the pr

tumblr_ls3b169U2i1qggbj7

oblem with Spencer as we go along on her night time journeys to the Underworld, where she’s falling for Hades. We see this Spencer 2.0 appearing…. even though she used to be an “It” girl cheerleader with her football star boyfriend, Spencer now learns what it is to love, lose, and appreciate the life that she has.  The only thing that bugged me about Spencer was that she was a bit… aloof…—>

She didn’t pick up on the fact that Hadrian had the hots for her, no matter how many times he hinted at his feelings for her. I do think that could come from Spencer spending her whole young adult life with her (dead) boyfriend/best friend, Micah. She never dreamed of having eyes for anyone other than Micah, so she didn’t know how to recognize when someone unfamiliar wanted her.

Onto Hadrian… obviously, he was my favorite!  He had the whole sexy, bad boy thing going on (Hello… he is the God of the Underworld), but he actually never did anything bad.  In fact… he did a whole lot of good!  Hadrian has been around for thousands of years, and he is so confident and wise.

tumblr_mhu9yn3mb01qif5r6o2_500 I did find myself thinking…. so why does this God have the hots for Spencer?  Luckily, we get some answers at the end of the story.  PS I think Jordan from The Lying Game would make a PERFECT Hadrian 😉

Hadrian and Spencer’s story reminds me of Klaus and Caroline in The Vampire Diaries. Even though Hadrian is a bit of a bad guy and not who Spencer SHOULD want to be with, she can’t deny the attraction and electricity that she feels when she’s around Hadrian. She feels guilty that the feelings that she has towards her “soul mate,” Micah don’t have that same spark. Hadrian is all dark and mysterious, but he isn’t as bad as they seem. He has a soft spot for Spencer, and he has genuine feelings towards her (but he could care less about the other mortals…). It reminds me of Klaus, because Caroline brings out the best in him, and I think that’s the same with Hadrian. I can’t wait to see how their relationship unfolds in the next two installments in the Underworld trilogy.

The side characters in Unhinged were another reason why this book was a standout for me. Spencer’s two best girlfriends, Syd and Quinn, were a lot of fun and added a good change of pace from the serious topics that Spencer had to deal with.  I’m glad that they were big parts of the story, and I look forward to seeing what they bring to the story in the next book.
I was very engaged in the story! That is what made this book a 4.5 star book, for me. There is an abundance of Young Adult Paranormal books out there, so it was the modern take on Hades and The Underworld that made this a very enjoyable read for me. The plot and story read very smoothly… I found myself staying up way too late, just trying to read on!  Things really came together at the end of the story for me.  I kept asking…. why?  Why Spencer?  What did Hadrian see in her?  (Spencer was wondering the same thing throughout the story…), so I was glad to find some answers to that mystery.

I cannot wait for book 2! Unhinged didn’t leave us with a major cliffhanger… but let’s just say there are a lot of things that need to work themselves out in book 2. Team Hadrian =)

I would like to see more descriptions of Spencer (what does she look like???) and more hookups!  ❤ ❤

All In (The Blackstone Affair, #2) by Raine Miller

Book: All In (The Blackstone Affair, #2)16001443

Author: Raine Miller

Published: November 12, 2012

B.O.S.SF Review: largelargelarge 1/2

*****

From GoodreadsThe second part in The Blackstone Affair series! Looming danger. A love worth fighting for. A man who’ll go all in.

Ethan Blackstone has a problem on his hands. He’s broken Brynne’s trust and she’s left him. He’s unwilling to live without her and isn’t giving up—he’s dead-set on getting his beautiful American girl back. The passion between them was explosive, but the secrets they hid from each other are dark and chilling and are powerful enough to destroy their shot at a life together. With political threats now directed at Brynne, Ethan is running out of time and he’ll need to gather all his strength and agility to protect her from the dangers that could take her away from him forever. Will Ethan be able to save Brynne from a past that keeps her locked in fear? Will he ever feel the warmth of her touch, the solidity of her trust again? This is a love-struck man who is willing to do whatever it takes to possess the heart of the woman he loves. He’ll go to any lengths to protect her. He’ll go all in.

Here is the fiery story of what happens when two people surrender to a love so great it can heal the scars of the past and give way to a life of pure, rapturous ecstasy.

*****

I received All In (The Blackstone Affair #2) via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

I very much enjoyed All In, even more so than Naked!  Why, you might ask?  Because the story picked up right where Naked left off, but only this time, we got to see inside Mr. Ethan Blackstone’s head!

I loved how All In is entirely from Ethan’s POV – it isn’t the retelling of the same story… or switching from Brynne to Ethan every other chapter – it was all Ethan, all the time.  Amazing.  While I did like Brynne’s voice in Naked,  switching to Ethan’s was a nice shake-up and it sets The Blackstone Affair apart from all of the 50 Shades of Grey fanfiction trilogies that are popping up.  Ethan is just such an enigma….. All In is almost like Raine Miller was giving us this private gift to get to the bottom of Ethan’s overprotective, over the top love for Brynne.  Getting to hear Part 2 in 100% Ethan’s voice gave us a better understanding of him.  Oftentimes, when authors jump around from characters telling the story, you don’t get the same connection with them than when we follow their thoughts throughout the story.  I am pleased to say that we all must feel very in tune with Mr. Blackstone right now.  *Sighs*  Miller wrote an excellent voice for Ethan – very masculine, protective, always up for gettin’ some, but he still was rational and honest… it made him more believable.  One of my favorite parts of Ethan’s complex character is his honesty.  He admitted that he messed up in Naked (… cause, yeah.. he did), and he vowed to never do that to Brynne again.  He treasures the relationship that the two of them have, and he does not want to lose the thing he cares most about.  He knows he can be an overbearing prick… and he owns up to it and tries to improve himself.  A pet peeve of mine is when characters make the same mistake time and time again……

Although All In is slightly longer than Naked, it still reads very quickly.  Miller doesn’t beat around the bush with extra scenes or unnecessary descriptions, which I like and appreciate.  Being the second installment in the book, a lot of the revelations are from the character building.  It’s to the point, and we get to learn more about the demons that both Brynne and Ethan face (with a few sexytimes scenes in between).  We learn exactly what happened to Brynne that drove her out of the US, her family dynamic, and what the threat to her safety is.  We were also able to piece together more clues as to what Ethan is hiding beneath his scars.  We’ll learn more in Eyes Wide Open, I’m sure.  One of my favorite parts of the Brynne and Ethan’s relationship is their mutual respect for each other and their want to make the relationship work.  They don’t pry into each other’s dark past, and they don’t force one another to share parts of themselves that they aren’t ready for.  They both love and respect each other’s privacy, and they want to be strong for each other.  They don’t push one another to open up, and they offer unconditional love and support… I love that!  It’s also not just the support of let’s have kinky-fucked up sex, but they listen to each other (in addition to lots of sex…)

The Blackstone Affair has a few laughs spread out throughout the books, but especially in All In!  Ethan had me cracking up!  When he started making fun of 50 Shades of Grey, I lost it.  Hats off to you, Raine Miller!  The scenes when Ethan is dealing with Brynne’s PMS were laugh inducing as well.

I’m glad that All In didn’t end in a cliffhanger, but there are some unanswered questions that we have to wait to find out in Eyes Wide Open.  I just received my ARC, so I’ll be diving into it ASAP!!!!!!!  Prediction: Brynne is preggo.  Right??  They’ll get married and she can get her Visa!  I could also see some spin off stories, which I hope Miller pursues.

In the possessive, alpha male, erotica type stories, All In has been one of my favorites.  I recommend reading this series if you are into these kinds of novels… or if you’re in the mood for a quickread/hot romance!

Thank you for the opportunity to read and review, and thank you for checking out Book Obsessed Shan in San Fran!  xoxo

Naked (The Blackstone Affair #1) by Raine Miller

Book: Naked (The Blackstone Affair #1)Miller Naked

Author: Raine Miller

Published: August 25, 2012

ebook, 208 pages

B.O.S.SF Review: largelargelarge

*****

From Goodreads: Brynne Bennett is living the good life. An American art student at the University of London and part-time photographic model, she’s putting her life back on track with school and lots of hard work. When ultra successful London businessman, Ethan Blackstone, buys her nude portrait, he isn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. He wants Brynne in his bed and makes plans to keep her there no matter what. His dominant nature captivates and ensnares despite the demons she carries inside her. But there are secrets in this relationship. Huge ones. Can Ethan free Brynne from the past that has marked her? Will Brynne let him or will the specters tormenting her resurface to destroy them both…

*****

I received this book in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

Let me start this off with a confession.  I’m going to be honest… I didn’t really like 50 Shades of Grey, but this review is for Naked (The Blackstone Affair #1) and NOT 50 Shades, so I won’t dwell on all of the things I disliked about the massively popular trilogy.  The reason I bring that up is because I liked Naked a lot better than 50 Shades of Grey, and Naked is a fanfiction trilogy with the same basic story as 50 Shades. If you liked 50 Shades, I would definitely recommend Naked!  I can see what the hype is about with The Blackstone Affair novels. I’m so glad that I got to read them!  Let’s get to the likes and dislikes…

  • Brynne > Anastasia:  I thought Anastasia Steele was boring, and I like Brynne.  She’s passionate about her career, and even though she has a bit of the damsel in distress thing going on, I didn’t find her to be annoying.
  • Ethan > Christian: Hot, sexy, stalkerish, dominant man.  Yes, to all of those for both of these men!  Still, I liked Ethan better than Christian!  His job seems more legitimate, he seemed like less of a creep, and his past seems more plausible.  Ethan hasn’t ever been interested enough in a woman to pursue a relationship, until Brynne, and the two of them make a good couple.
  • Straight to the sexytimes point: I LOVED how Naked felt more like a slightly long novella than a 400 page novel.  I mean, we already know that the two main characters are incredibly attracted to each other and are going to get it on, so why beat around the bush? I don’t remember unnecessary descriptions, and none of the added characters that don’t add anything to the core story. A big BRAVO to the editor for this story.
  • The Plot:  Predictable?  Of course!  Did I care?  Nope.  I knew what I was getting myself into.  Naked goes between the New Adult and Erotica genre, and I really liked that.  Both Brynne and Ethan have demons from their past, and they are far from perfect, and their pasts do make the story a bit more interesting.  Especially since her past is the storyline that carries through the trilogy… I guess it seems more believable than 50 Shades?  As far as the erotica part, I think that Miller wrote that well, too!
  •  Eyebrow_raise_sexy_gif_tb

What I didn’t like:

  • I had a few issues the whole nude model thing.  Why couldn’t Brynne be a beautiful fashion model… heck, even a lingerie model?!  The nude model thing bothers me MOSTLY because it’s a contradiction of what Brynne experienced in her past.  Won’t go into spoilers, but let’s face it, New Adult books flock to the several of the same culprits of the damaged girl formula.  Another thing…. Brynne’s father sends Ethan a photograph of his daughter.  Ummm….  correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that her father sends Ethan her tasteful nude photograph.
  • The whole reminding Brynne to eat thing…. 100710_girl_eating_anorexia_iStock_000013902474Smalllet me roll my eyes once again at this ridiculous sign of dominance.  Yes, Edward, Christian, and, now, Ethan all seem to have to force feed the loves of lives.  Sure, I’ve experienced stressful times or heart ache that make forget to eat, but c’mon.  MAJOR eye rolling when I saw that Ethan was going to have to remind Brynne to eat.  tumblr_me652mT1py1ry1cmf

OVERALL, YES, I say go ahead and read Naked!   If this genre is your thing, then you’ll like it.  Be warned that it does have the same elements of the dominant/stalker man…. and for those reasons, it won’t be getting higher than a 3 star review.