May was a month of romance, romance, and more romance. I’m pretty sure I didn’t read anything outside the genre, and next month’s looking much the same. Can’t be helped – next Tuesday alone marks the release of three books I’ve been waiting months for, and the following Tuesday sees the release of a few more. I’m rubbing my hands together with glee.
But at least my romance reading was wide and varied. I decided to read my way through Lorelei James’ Rough Riders series. I read the first book, Long Hard Ride, and then immediately skipped to the fifth book, Rough, Raw, and Ready. Why? Because of the characters. If you’ve read Long Hard Ride, you know that Ready is the conclusion of Trevor and Edgard’s story, and I couldn’t wait through three more books before I got to it. Trevor’s put his rodeo past mostly behind him, settling down with his wife, Chassie, and he couldn’t be happier. Well, almost. Then his ex-roping partner (and lover) Edgard wanders up their driveway one frigid February afternoon and throws everything into question. And I mean everything. Trevor, Chassie, and Edgard all end up questioning what they thought were truths and are forced to take good, thorough looks at themselves. What stood out the most about Ready is this was the first book I could remember that addressed the idea that love is love, and gender and sexual orientation have nothing to do with it. I had to wonder after Ride how James was going to handle Edgard, who self-identified as gay, no ifs, ands, or buts about it, and she does a fantastic job turning what could have been a laughable story into a believable one. Read Long Hard Ride first, though, because it’ll give Rough, Raw, and Ready that much more oomph. And yes, I’m going to go back and read book two now.
Serials have been popular lately, and I’m beginning to see why. I was browsing through Goodreads lists the other day and found that Cheryl McIntyre (author of Sometimes Never and Before Now) had written one, and I mistakenly thought all five parts were already available. The Dirty series starts with Getting Dirty and tells the story of Linken and Rocky, two people damaged by similar events, and how they come together. It’s got a lot of the angst I’ve come to expect of New Adult stories, and it’s pretty dirty (har). Both characters don’t believe there’s a happily ever after out there for them, either separately or together, and Link makes some bad choices, but damn, some of the decisions Rocky makes are even worse. Over the course of the story, Rocky comes to realize that she does have worth, and that she deserves to live, and be happy. She doesn’t set out to convince Link of the same. Despite their jagged and broken pieces, they’re both strong, interesting characters, and I read parts one through four in a matter of hours. Then I realized I didn’t have part five, Staying Dirty…and when I went to Amazon to buy it, it wasn’t available. I cannot tell you the number of times I checked their website that day. It was finally available the next day, and I didn’t move from the couch until I’d read it.
I didn’t have to do that with Jen Frederick’s latest, Losing Control. Victoria “Tiny” Corielli works as a bike messenger in New York City. When her mother’s cancer returns, she’ll do anything to come up with the money to pay for her treatment, including run suspicious packages for her former stepbrother. Her job puts her in the path of Ian Kerr, who makes her an offer too tempting to refuse: help him take down a rival, a man who ruined lives, and he’ll pay for treatment, a new apartment, everything that will make her mother’s life more comfortable. After having seen Premium Rush, I wanted to be a bike messenger, so I got to live out the fantasy again through Tiny. The connection between Tiny and Ian is vibrant and alive, and I loved that she didn’t just fall into his arms (and onto his dick) right away. But good lord, when they do finally get around to it, it’s hot. Very, very hot. If you haven’t read anything by Jen Frederick yet, this is a great place to start, and here’s her own too tempting to refuse offer: Losing Control is being released as a serial for free through her newsletter prior to its release in mid-June. You can read the entire thing, bit by bit, before anyone else. She’s also giving away a Kindle Fire with her entire backlist loaded on it. Sign up for her newsletter here, and click here to enter to win the Kindle Fire.
Hotelles by Emma Mars was a bit of a departure from the lovefest this month, but not by much. Elle, a recent journalism graduate working as an escort to help pay for her mother’s cancer treatment, meets the man of her dreams. David Barlet is older, sophisticated, and the head of a media empire, and for some reason he wants Elle to be his wife. Their whirlwind courtship is sullied by the intrusion of David’s older brother, Louie, who is determined to reveal Elle to herself. Hotelles is more a journey through one woman’s discovery of herself and her growing sensual and sexual desires than a romance, and in that respect, this makes it a book that I think every woman should read. Elle learns to love her body, instead of viewing it as a vessel for her brain, or as an object that men slaver after, and she learns to take control, not only of her own pleasure, but her life. The story has its flaws, though. While Elle and Louie are multidimensional characters, intriguing people who drive the plot and its twists, David is disappointingly flat. He has two modes: doting and closed off. He’s not nearly as interesting or complex as Louie. The other problem is the book’s length. The hardback version clocks in at almost six hundred pages, the Kindle version at over seven hours. As much as I liked this story and wanted to read on every time I had to stop, it took me almost three weeks to finish. It’s not a slog through book by any means. It just happened to be one of those stories that took longer than expected to finish. I also want to note it’s unclear from the description if Hotelles, translated from the original French, is the first in a trilogy, or if it’s the entire trilogy in one volume.