Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Where are You, Jen???

Have you missed me? Wondering why I'm not in your blog feed?

If you've noticed a void in your life where Red Hot Books used to be, that means you aren't following my WordPress feed! I moved off Blogger a couple of months ago and it's been brought to my attention that Bloglovin still has the Blogger site as an active feed (as well as the WP site.) So if you're seeing this message --and you still want to follow the blog-- come visit me and subscribe over on WordPress.

The address is I'd love to have you.


PS Please ignore my fat-face in the photo. I need to work on my selfie-photography.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: His Right Hand

Should the cover have given me a clue as to what this story is really about or should I have depended on the blurb for that? I can’t really decide so --- you tell me, here’s the blurb:

“Mike Jasper might be one hell of a catch on paper, but he’s still lacking in a few crucial areas. Just ask his impressive list of disgruntled, dissatisfied exes. Who knew good looks, a hard body and plenty of money weren’t enough, especially between the sheets? When it comes to sex, he reluctantly admits he needs help. And who better to ask than his longtime assistant? Ellen is his right hand, completely devoted. She already sees to his business needs. Surely she can offer a few pointers in pleasure?

After a humiliating demonstration of his limited skills, Jasper’s relieved when Ellen agrees, apparently recognizing a cry for help when she sees one. And the first thing he learns? His intelligent, austere assistant has been hiding an insanely hot and horny vixen under those business suits! Before long, Jasper’s office is a flesh-filled pleasure den, Ellen’s sexual satisfaction crucial to finding his own. He’s learning more than he’d ever dreamed possible under Ellen’s titillating tutelage…included some unexpected lessons in love.”

Once I started reading this story, I kept thinking that surely this is a not a story just about sex – there has to be a plot some where along the line. I’m still waiting for the plot. What I did get was a story about Mike Jasper whose last girlfriend broke up with him because he does not make her happy, in or out of bed. To help himself when he moves on to the next woman, Mike decides to ask his assistant of ten years to help him with pleasing a woman. Ellen says yes and for the balance of the story Mike and Ellen have sex at the office, at the opera, any place that Ellen could think of. There was so much sex that I skipped pages, perish the thought, but even I have my limit.

I probably could have let that slide if I understood Ellen’s why but this story is told from Mike’s point of view and only about one paragraph on one page do we hear Ellen’s motivation for anything. I wasn’t satisfied with what I got, I just didn’t buy it -- not one bit. Even more, it turns out that in the ten years that Ellen’s worked for Mike, he has no idea who she is outside of work. Why would I like a character who has no regards for those around him? Yes, he’s rich (the dreaded billionaire) but does that mean he has to be a complete and total asshat?

Happy Reading folks!

Rating: C-/D+

*Book provided by author for review
His Right Hand
by Silence O'Shea
Original Release Date: March 24, 2013


Review: A Simple Twist of Fate

This is the second novel in a series about the three Hanover brothers. Their father, Charlie, was a con man who died and left behind a trail of angry, cheated people. The grown brothers inherit a house from their grandmother, but the house is located in a small town where Charlie did a lot of damage. The first book, which I haven’t read, sets all this up and shows the brothers moving into the house and deciding to fix it up and stay.

A Simple Twist of Fate opens with Sophie, the housekeeper/carrier of secrets, walking in on a naked Beck, the lawyer/hater of secrets, after his shower. And that’s when I noticed that my brain wasn’t meshing with this author’s style. The conversation was interspersed with so many little body movements that I lost track of who was speaking, and it didn’t flow for me. Then another brother walked up and joined the conversation, and they were talking about how many penises Sophie had seen in her life, and it was strange. After that, I figured out that Sophie has been pretending to clean the house for a month while she searches for something important. Her aunt requested the search so she can’t tell anyone. It’s a secret! During that month, she has been lusting after Beck because he wears t-shirts that barely cover his stomach. Beck has been lusting after Sophie, too, because she wears tight jeans and looks cute when she carries a mop.

The first quarter of the book consists of people telling Beck that he should hook up with Sophie because of his lust, but Beck says he won’t because of their employer/employee relationship. People also tell Sophie to hook up with Beck, but she won’t because she’s on a mission and doesn’t want to get sucked in, or something. That was a problem for me, because Sophie and Beck didn’t interact with each other at all. I was told repeatedly that they were hot for each other, but I didn’t get a sense that they had ever hung out, joked around, or said more than two words to each other, so it was purely physical. Maybe all that chit chat happened in the first book. Basically, I got no relationship building between them.

This book spent a lot of time with other characters. Too much time, in my opinion, because it was taking away from the primary relationship. The whole history of the first book was spelled out, plus Sophie got to go to lunch with some girls, plus the oldest brother drank water and glared a lot. There was also an FBI agent popping up now and then who kept getting yelled at. And there was a mystery woman who would show up and say, “I have to talk to you!” and they would shut her down and go away. Sidenote — Don’t you hate it when characters keep saying “I have to tell you something” but they never just blurt it out? They allow themselves to be sent away without ever saying the very important thing that they need to say.

Eventually, awkwardly, Sophie and Beck decide to set aside their hesitation and have sex. Remember Sophie and Beck? Then suddenly she’s his girlfriend, and things are hunky dory, and she even tells Beck her secret! But the other brothers have issues, and then their mom shows up, and things are tragic and they separate based upon the worst misunderstanding ever until Beck’s brother talks some sense into him (another ding for having third parties solve the problem) and so Beck says nice things to Sophie and then it ends. Several plot points are left hanging because there’s another book to be written about another brother.

For fun, let me share a few things I highlighted: “Somewhere along the line he’d turned into a pre-teen girl.” “He treated her to a dramatic women-are-so-difficult exhale.” “He didn’t plunk down a stack of cash on this place to listen to them bicker like little girls.” “Running to Mom to talk about his love life? They were acting like little girls.” That’s just me being picky, but enough of the manly men stereotyping negative actions as girl-like.

I see this book as part of a saga about brothers finding their identity and dealing with the past. The romance is part of it, but not a big enough part. Basically, I was annoyed and frustrated with this book.

Rating: C


Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Just What She Wants

Reviewed by Shelly

This is a short story (about 42 pages including cover in ePub format). I’ve read Elsong before but it’s been a long while, long enough to not remember her writing style. This is the story of Indiana Jones, Marc Cantrell, and Kyle Landon. Indiana has flown from London, England to FL, for what she thought would be a chillaxing vacation. Yeah, surely a place called Heden wouldn’t be suggestive but let me not get ahead of myself here. Indiana’s already a little nervous because her best friend, Lisa, bailed on her at the last minute – something about a broken leg. Argh, the bad luck of it. Things start looking up when Indiana meets the two hotties who run the resort - Marc and Kyle. It just so happens that Marc and Kyle are a couple of guys in a somewhat committed relationship and have been looking for a third for their relationship – both of the guys are in agreement with this so there was no angst about that. I did have a passing thought that Marc is a bit of slut as he can’t stop sleeping with the guest but whatever floats his boat.

Now I had to put certain things, like my need for things to make sense, aside because this is part of the 1Night Stand line of stories so falling in love within a few hours of meeting could happen. With that premise and knowing that Indiana is only going to be in the resort for a set time, things happened really quickly, I mean really quickly. To Elsong’s credit, Indiana’s character is well developed. She’s funny, smart and believable when she’s dealing with Marc and Kyle. She doesn’t immediately fall for the crap that’s coming out of Marc’s mouth. The only complaint I have, other than the story is too short is that Indiana’s got a thing about Christmas that I thought was ridiculous but as it’s a short story, it can’t be too complex (I guess).

Marc and Kyle had their own drama. Kyle’s physical and emotional pain comes from a place where most of us might have trouble dealing also. I found myself being sympathetic to him and his reasons for the way that he treated Marc. It’s hard to love those around you when you don’t love yourself. There wasn’t a lot to Marc’s character other than he’s the funny guy.

Overall, this was a fun read with a couple of pretty hot sexy scenes.

Happy Reading folks!

Rating: B-

Click to purchase: Amazon
Just What She Wants
by Barbara Elsborg
Original Release Date: December 7, 2012
Publisher: Decadent Publishing


Review: Making It Last

Reviewed by Carrie
I’m a big fan of Ruthie Knox’s Camelot series. This novella takes us back to the very first couple, Tony and Amber, from How to Misbehave. Fast forward 14 years and 3 kids later, Amber is struggling. She has lost herself in her duties to her husband and children and is running on empty. While on holiday to Jamaica for her brother’s wedding, Amber’s mother sees that all is not right with her daughter and encourages Tony to extend her vacation so she can catch a break from familial duties. Tony has been working himself to the bone trying to support his family during rough financial times, so this is the first time he’s really looked at his wife to see that something was amiss.

Those of us who are married with children will find this story eminently relatable. It gets into the nitty gritty of the very hard job of raising children while keeping a marriage going. Tony and Amber take on the traditional gender roles and come off a bit stereotypical. Amber is silent in her suffering and doesn’t communicate that she feels her family has sucked her dry. Tony is oblivious to his wife’s pain because he is all focused on working to give her everything she wants. Some late night confessions to each other probably would have gone a long way in avoiding the place where the couple sits at the beginning of the book.

I empathized with both of them. Amber feels this responsibility of having to do everything and bear the burden with pride - that’s the message society has taught us as mothers. Tony is very much a man’s man. He wants to give Amber things, like the house he built, to show her he loves her. He wants to fix what’s broken in her. Both of them acknowledge that it would be easy to just walk away, but also realize how much they couldn’t continue without the other. The couple’s journey back to each other is in fits and starts and I appreciated the authenticity.

The other message that the author relates are the choices that we make on a consistent basis when we are with a partner. When you feel that disconnect, how do you get back there? Anyone in a long time relationship can attest that hearts and flowers only last a short time. It’s the getting back and remembering those times and evolving in love with the person you chose, and continue to choose, that makes it all worthwhile.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend all of the books in this series. Ruthie Knox writes funny, smart, real contemporary romance.

Grade: B+

*ARC provided by Loveswept via NetGalley 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Making It Last
by Ruthie Knox
Original Release Date: July 15, 2013
Publisher: Loveswept

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: Big Girl Panties

Reviewed by Carrie
Holly Brennan is a grieving widow who has used food to cope with the untimely death of her husband. Trudging back from Toronto, she is seated next to Logan Montgomery, a hot shot personal trainer to pro athletes. As a karmic payment for judging a book by its cover, Logan offers to train Holly to help her “get her life back on track,” not even knowing why or how she got herself into her current state. Holly decides three years of mourning and junk food is enough and grasps at the opportunity to try to move past her depression and grief. As the sessions progress, they become friends. As Holly’s new form begins to emerge, Logan starts to notice more than her snarky retorts. Meanwhile, Holly nurses her crush on Logan, but he still can’t get over his image issues.

Much of the book is centered around weight issues, both from Logan and Holly’s point of view. I totally sympathized with Holly. She has never been the thin girl. She had crappy parents. She was a loner until in college, a man paid attention to her and she married him. He was her way out of a sad life. So as she watched him, and her life, slowly destroyed by cancer, she turned to the one thing in her life that she could count on – food.

On the other hand, there is Logan, who believes that everyone can achieve anything they want if they just put their mind to it. Logan reminded me of a guy I knew in high school that everyone liked. He was gorgeous, popular and nice to everyone, but lacked any real kind of depth or emotion. I felt taken back to that time when Holly secretly crushes on Logan as he makes it plain that he couldn’t even fathom having someone looking like her on his arm. In short, Logan is an ass. By the time he pulls his head out, I’m not sure that many readers will say he is redeemed.

The book is well written and the words flow well except the author tried to cram in a novella’s worth about Logan’s friends Chase and Amanda. that was completely unnecessary. I found myself skipping over their scenes as they had nothing to do with Logan or Holly.

Honestly, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this book. Anyone who has ever struggled with their weight will immediately identify with Holly and her pain. On the other hand, Logan’s behavior really cut me to the quick and I’m not sure if I really forgave him. Readers will feel strongly about this book one way or another.

Rating: C+

*ARC Provided by William Morrow

Click to purchase: Amazon
Big Girl Panties
by Stephanie Evanovich
Original Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Review: Special Occasion

Reviewed by Shelly

I don’t even know why I bought this book. I think I was…I don’t know, but I wasn’t thinking.

Regina Marshall is a devoted wife to her husband. They live in an affluent neighborhood, I don’t know the source of their wealth but they’re well off by the description of the lavish gifts, cars and home. It’s Regina’s birthday and her husband Clayton wants to make her secret sexual fantasy come true. So he hunts down a friend who happens to be a pimp, he runs an escort service but that’s just a dressed up name for what he calls his ‘whores’. Believe it when I tell you that’s not even the part that set off my warning bells.

Stay with me here, Regina and Clayton are both African American and the fantasy that Clayton is fulfilling for his wife is for her to have sex with a white man. Not an attractive man who happens to be white but a blond, blue eyed, pale white man. You’ve got to be shitting me, right. The plethora of references to Regina’s dark hand against his pale white skin is absolutely staggering and I literally couldn’t believe how many times Clayton referred to this grown man as ‘white boy’. There’re very few times when I can stay that I felt furious after reading a story but yep, this one definitely made me shake my head in anger. Special occasion my petunia.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: F

Click to purchase: Amazon
Special Occasion
by Thirteen
Original Release Date: May 28, 2011
Publisher: Beautiful Trouble Publishing

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