No In Between (Lisa Renee Jones)

No In Between (Lisa Renee Jones)No In Between by Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Inside Out #4
Published by Simon and Schuster on 19-08-2014
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

"Chris and I have faced our demons and bared our souls to one another in Paris. Now that we are back home in San Francisco, I want to believe that nothing can tear us apart. Not Ava’s accusations against me to the police, or Chris's fear that he will destroy me as he feels he did Amber. And not Mark, who was once too intimately a part of our lives, and who I can see crumbling inside out. He believes he is invincible, just as I want to believe Chris and I are invincible. We have to be invincible. We need each other too much for any other ending."

SPOILER ALERT: As No In Between is book 4 in a series, there may be some spoilers for earlier books.

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★

The story

The story picks up pretty much where Revealing Us left off – Chris and Sara are just arriving home from Paris, preparing for Ava’s trial.  Chris and Sara are trying to prepare themselves for what promises to be a nasty trial, while also balancing their relationship, issues from ther past and their worry over Ella.

No In Between is the fourth book in Lisa Renee Jones’ Inside Out series, a series I’ve been loving so far! You can read my reviews for books 1, 2 and 3, but the short version is I gave all of them four stars! Unfortunately, No In Between just didn’t live up to the earlier books for me.

No In Between is the first book of the series where I’ve found it difficult to get back into the story.  I definitely think it’d be worth re-reading at least Revealing Us before getting stuck into No In Between because at this point the mystery is getting complicated, and it took me a while to remember who everyone was etc.  I also admit that I hadn’t read My Hunger or His Secrets between going in, which may have had something to do with my slow reconnection.  However, this shouldn’t be a large influence as a note from Lisa at the beginning says “you don’t have to read [His Secrets] to enjoy this story”.

I found No In Between felt dragged out, and I honestly felt this book was largely unecessary.  At 256 pages, No In Between is quite a lot shorter than the first three books (at 384, 351 and 256 pages). Whilst the first three felt sharp, snappy and successfully built the tension, No In Between in comparison felt like it was just going over the previous ground.  Don’t get me wrong, it was full of twists and turns, but it didn’t seem to actually go anwhere.  For me, the lact of progress with the story meant that for me all of the tension that had built up and built up through the first three books, instead of being resolved, was left hanging.  I would have preferred this to be bunched together with book 5 to make a longer but satisfying read.

 

 

 

The characters

The main cast of characters are the same we’ve seen throughout the series: Mark, Sara and Chris.  Chris is great, and Mark remains the mysterious, elusive man you can’t help but want to know more about!  Sara’s vulnerability made her more relatable, and it was great to see the way Chris dealt with that vulnerability. I definitely found Chris and Sara’s relationship the hightlight of No In Between.

As well as our main three, there’s also a large number of supporting characters, including both characters from the earlier books and some new characters.  We see more of the Walker brothers from the Tall, Dark and Deadly series which I liked, and I loved seeing a tiny bit more of Crystal.  However, I personally thought there were a few too many characters for a book where little truly happens; at times it felt like some of the characters were only there to give you more possibilities for what happened to Rebecca.

 

final thoughtsI had very high expectations of No In Between based on the fact I thought the first three books were brilliant, but unfortunately No In Between just didn’t live up to those expectations.  It’s full of twists and turns, some steamy sex scenes and some touching moments between Chris and Sara, but the lack of resolution means that for me this would be much better if you could read it immediately before the next book, rather than alone.

 

Buy it? This is one I’d maybe buy on a deal, but perhaps after the next book is out too!
In a nutshell: Would almost certainly benefit from a re-read of Revealing Us first but unfortunately this one disappointed me.
[therating]

Other Reviews of No In Between: Sensual Reads | Page Princess | Drue’s Random Chatter

One StarOne Star

[After Dark] Review: Enamored (Shoshanna Evers)


Review: Enslaved Amazon | Goodreads


Summary (From Goodreads.com)
The second original eBook in the red-hot Enslaved trilogy begins with a dangerous bet that turns good friends into exquisite lovers.

Billionaire BAD Boy Marc Wilde has never met a woman who could fulfill his every need…until he takes his good friend and fellow dominant Mistress Lauren up on a dangerous bet—a bet where she ends up as his sex slave for a week. Can a Dominatrix fall in love with a Dom? Only if she can find a way to submit to Marc’s every desire and be happy about it. Lauren has her doubts…but the flirtation, the friendship, and the sex might be too much for either to resist…


Author
: Shoshanna Evers
Length: 175 pages
Series: Second in the Enslaved Trilogy (read my review for Enslaved here)
Source: Edelweiss

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★
Overall: ★★★

My opinion:

Despite a relentless attraction and friendship, Lauren and Marc know their relationship would never work, because they’re both dominants.  After a mutual friend suggests Lauren may in fact be a switch, Marc suggests a bet, whereby the loser has to be the winner’s sex slave for a week.  Frustrated, and convinced she won’t lose, Lauren agrees, tempted by the possibility of Marc as her slave and determined to explore if there is anyway a relationship between them could work.  When Lauren loses the bet she is horrified but whilst Marc has always been a dominant, Lauren’s progression into dominance occurred later – could she learn to loosen her grip on her role for Marc?

Enamored is the second book in the Enslaved trilogy, but I think you could happily read Enamored without having read book 1, Enslaved.  I personally preferred Enamored to Enslaved, probably because I liked Mistress Lauren more than Elisabeth.  I also felt that the romance was stronger throughout Enamored, and I really cared abouth both Marc and Lauren, and their relationship.  The story came off as lighter than expected though – much more fun and light-hearted than the difficult struggle for control I expected.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly since I think this is too short to do a stronger struggle justice.  If you’re looking for a romance with BDSM elements and a happily ever after, you’ll get it – just don’t pick this up if you’re looking for angst!

The Happily Ever After is a little unconventional, but I think it really works for the story. I can’t say any more than that without giving anything away!

I enjoyed Enamored, but in all honesty the first two books have left me feeling like this is actually The Roman Trilogy, rather than a book for each of the BAD boys.  I do feel bad for him, but at the same time, I picked up the book expecting to explore Marc’s relationship with Mistress Lauren, and then felt Roman dominated a bit too much.  I’m looking forward to Enraptured, the final book in the trilogy, because I do want to know how things will work out for Roman, and I expect him to dominate that book!

Buy it? This is £3.99 on kindle at the moment – I’d probably buy it for a chilled out evening home alone.
In a nutshell: Intriguing premise, nice characters and a quick, easy read.

Other Reviews of Enslaved: My Reading Obsession | Dear Author | New books on my shelves

[After Dark] Review: Bonds of Need (Lynda Aicher)


Review: Bonds of Need Amazon| Goodreads


When Kendra Morgan attends a party at an exclusive sex club, she’s not driven by mere curiosity. Hoping to prove she’s put the past behind her, Kendra must instead face up to needs she’s denied for too long. Despite her lingering fears, she can’t resist the temptation to play…

Deklan Winters has had his eye on his attractive neighbor for months, but only senses Kendra is no stranger to the BDSM scene when she walks into his club. And he can tell that’s not her only secret. What surprises him is his own overwhelming desire to give her what she craves—and to show her a side to the Dom/sub relationship she’s never known.

With Deklan’s guidance, Kendra begins to accept her forbidden needs and to recognize the fine line between pleasure and pain. But when her former Master returns to reclaim her, it will take all her courage—and all of Deklan’s love—to defy her past.

Author: Lynda Aicher
Length: 85000 words (212 pages according to Amazon)
Series: Second in the Wicked Play series
Source: NetGalley

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★

My opinion:

Kendra Morgan is a former submissive driven from BDSM by a mysterious ex- Master.  Deklan Winters, one of the co-owners of The Den, is drawn to Kendra’s obviously submissive nature, and is determined to help her move past the emotional scars left from her past relationship.

Kendra is a very different heroine to the likes of Anastasia Steele (Fifty Shades).  Not only is she already familiar with the world of BDSM, she’s also a feisty, determined individual, fighting to overcome her own demons.  Kendra is also a masochist, which means there is some pain involved in scenes – however, it was never overly graphic, (less explicit than Enslaved for those of you who have read that).   Deklan is also a great character – a patient, caring Dom with a slight hero complex.  He’s not perfect – he has his own scars, he asks his friends for advice and he occasionally has a hard time stepping back. He can also cook, he’s not terribly sociable and he gets frustrated at times.  It’s nice to see a hero who manages to also come across as a normal guy!

Although Bonds of Need is an erotic novel, it’s also very much a romance, and despite a lot of play, Kendra and Deklan don’t just jump straight into bed.  It makes a refreshing change to see their relationship build, rather than the ‘out of character’ one night stands that seem to begin so many stories.  Their romance is really the key to the story, with the sex an addition, rather than the other way around.   One thing I loved about Bonds of Need is the added plot that comes from having a crazy, stalker ex-Master.  It may be a plot that’s played out many times before, but it works!  The anticipation of a threat (or worse) from Eric added just enough suspense, and I finished this in an evening – I literally couldn’t put it down!

The book tackles a few real issues, which is something I loved about it.  One example is that  Kendra’s former Master had her convinced that her masochism was wrong, that there must be something wrong with her to enjoy pain.  Kendra’s self-esteem plummeted as a result, and she constantly doubted her own desires.  As well as this, through Kendra’s experiences, Aicher manages to convey the differences between a healthy, safe and consensual BDSM relationship, and an abusive relationship under the guise of BDSM.  These are realistic, important issues that Aicher addressed wonderfully, with gradual, believable resolutions.

Although this is the second in a series, I firmly believe you can read this without having read the first book.  It was nice to see the familiar faces from Bonds of Trust, but I don’t think it would in any way detract from the story to read this alone.

Buy it? I’d be happy to buy this one (and I hope it comes out in print because it’s a keeper)
In a nutshell: A romance first and foremost, with complex characters, a novel plot, and some heart-breakingly emotional scenes.

You can read an excerpt from Bonds of Need on Lynda Aicher’s Website

Other Reviews of Bonds of Need: Ramblings and Reviews | Busy Moms Book Reviews  | Dirty Girls’ Good books

[After Dark] Early Review: Enslaved (Shoshanna Evers)


Review: Enslaved Amazon| Goodreads

Summary (From Goodreads.com)
Elisabeth Anderson has seen Trevor and his friends at the infamous Manhattan BDSM club WhipperSnapper, where everyone calls them the BAD Boys, for “Billionaire Arrogant Doms.” The BAD Boys—Trevor Brooks, Marc Wilde, and Roman Chase—are aptly named; they’ve made money hand over fist due to their aggressive investing at the Brooks Wilde Chase Fund. These guys are so rich they can get away with anything, or so the rumors go.

Trevor gives Elisabeth full reign of his estate in Westchester, letting her do as she pleases. He has only two rules. Rule One: she must obey and submit to him while she is living in his house. Rule Two: always answer the blue cell phone. She’s happy to oblige, because being with Trevor makes her want to obey, to love him the way he seems to be falling for her. But Elisabeth’s never been good at being the quiet sub; she’s feisty and gets off on the punishments more than she does by pleasing Trevor.

Elizabeth can’t submit to Trevor the way he needs her to, so his friend and business partner (and fellow BAD Boy) Roman takes her in hand. But love triangles can have sharp edges…and somebody’s bound to get hurt.

Author: Shoshanna Evers
Length: 175 pages
Series: First in the Enslaved Trilogy
Source: NetGalley

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★
Overall: ★★

My opinion:
The first thing you should know about this book is that Elisabeth is a self-confessed “Pain slut” – she’s not just into pain but also anti-pleasure, which seems sort of counter-intuitive for an erotic novel.  This is something that isn’t mentioned in the synopsis, perhaps because it would be a little awkward to slip in more clearly than the veiled sentence that’s already there “Elisabeth’s never been good at being the quiet sub; she’s feisty and gets off on the punishments more than she does by pleasing Trevor.”  Her enjoyment of pain, and aversion to pleasure might be something that puts you off, especially if you’re drawn in by the romance element of the story. The punishments aren’t overly graphic, but for me Elisabeth’s repeated comments regarding her love of pain started to grate on me very quickly.

Elisabeth is a newly un-collared slave, released by her Dom Gregory, as he’s going after a sub he truly loves.  Elisabeth is lost without a dom, so Gregory sends her to Trevor – one of the BAD boys who’d expressed an interested in her.  Trevor is looking for a sub he can love, and be loved by in return. Although previously married, Trevor’s wife was vehemently opposed to his BDSM interests, leading to their divorce.  This time, Trevor is looking for a sub first, and hoping the love will follow.   However, despite his attraction to Elisabeth, and their combined hopes for a fulfilling relationship, Elisabeth is, to put it nicely, a pretty poor submissive. She consistently tops from the bottom, acting out in order to be punished, leaving her with all the power in their relationship.  Trevor discusses their issue with his fellow BAD boys, Marc and Roman, and Roman eventually offers a solution – he will train Elisabeth to be a disciplined submissive.  This seems like a perfectly sensible idea since Roman “never” gets attached etc etc etc. You can obviously see where this is going though!

In my opinion, Trevor gives Elisabeth to Roman for training late enough in the book, that it almost seems like a spoiler to announce it in the summary.  However, some reviewers objected to the idea of Elisabeth being effectively shared by the two men, so perhaps it was spelled out to try and minimise complaints like that.

As well as following Elisabeth, the story occasionally flicks back to follow Gregory, and his developing relationship with his new submissive. This didn’t seem to add a lot to the story from my point of view, apart from a M/M relationship – which may not appeal to all the readers of the book.  Although this was cute at times, I personally feel that Gregory and Andrew’s story would be better as a separate novella.  The portions of the novel previously used for that side-plot could then be used to further develop the main story, which at times felt rushed.

Some of the characters in this were wonderful, but overall opinion of the book seems to hinge on how you feel about Elisabeth.  At times I liked her – she could be feisty, and she knew what she wanted sexually and how to get it. Unfortunately, her decisiveness apparently doesn’t extend into the rest of her life, and she came off as almost needy due to her flickering back and forth emotionally.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a very indecisive person, but Elisabeth was almost too indecisive.  Instead of coming across as  conflicted by intense emotions, it started to seem almost like she couldn’t be that into either man!  She had the potential to be a great character, and she’s much more Nora Sutherlin (from The Siren) than Anastasia Steele (from Fifty Shades of Grey), which can only be a good thing. However, she didn’t have quite enough backbone to pull it off.

Trevor on the other hand, was immensely likeable – he was like an alpha male mixed with a contemporary love interest. Yes he was a dom, but he was also funny, tender and generally kind.  His feelings for Elisabeth felt a little forced, and were something I’d have liked to see explored more.  Since Trevor is so likable, occasionally when Elisabeth was grating on my nerves, I almost wanted her to leave, so that he could find someone better suited!

Enslaved was an enjoyable enough read, and I’m glad I read it, if only to set the scene for the rest of the series. I’m definitely curious about books two and three, since for me, it was only really Elisabeth that let this story down.

Buy it? This is something I’d either buy on a deal (Something like Tesco’s 3 for £5) or borrow from the library.
In a nutshell: Great potential, but slightly disappointing overall – just okay.

Other Reviews of Enslaved: Mission to Read | Tome Tender | My Reading Obsession

[After Dark] Giveaway: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty

From bestselling author Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquleaure.

The first in a recently re-released trilogy, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty puts a (very!) adult twist on a well-known fairytale.  Both e-book and print copies are available, with beautifully understated covers.  There are plenty of bloggers currently reviewing the book, and revealing exerpts on the website – keep up with them here!

Length
: 272Pages
Source: Review copy

Summary (from Goodreads.com)
In the traditional folktale of ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ the spell cast upon the lovely young princess and everyone in her castle can only be broken by the kiss of a Prince. It is an ancient story, one that originally emerged from and still deeply disturbs the mind’s unconscious. Now Anne Rice’s retelling of the Beauty story probes the unspoken implications of this lush, suggestive tale by exploring its undeniable connection to sexual desire.

Here the Prince reawakens Beauty, not with a kiss, but with sexual initiation. His reward for ending the hundred years of enchantment is Beauty’s complete and total enslavement to him as Anne Rice explores the world of erotic yearning and fantasy in a classic that becomes, with her skillful pen, a compelling experience.

Amazon | Goodreads | The Book Depository

a Rafflecopter giveaway