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

Mini review: Geek Girl (Holly Smale)

Mini review: Geek Girl (Holly Smale)Geek Girl by Holly Smale
Published by HarperCollins on 28-02-2013
Genres: Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

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

Harriet Manners, the geek girl of the title, never wanted to be a model.  In fact, she doesn’t exactly get fashion, and she’s only at the fashion show because her best friend Nat dragged her.  Since she’s not exactly popular at school, she goes along with it when she’s spotted by a model scout, hoping to re-invent herself…but of course, there are costs, not least that she’s stolen her best friend’s dream.

I really liked Holly’s quirkiness, and her awkwardness (we can all relate sometimes!), but I wouldn’t call her a geek.  She’s clumsy, and full of random facts, but definitely not a fangirl.  Having said that, I really loved her voice as a narrator, and she’s genuinely funny.

It was cute, and funny, and the lack of angst was definitely a welcome change.  My biggest issue with Geek Girl though, was that it felt like it was aimed at a younger audience.  It definitely felt more like a young teen read than a young adult one, partially because I thought it was quite predictable.

All in all, I found Geek Girl a quick, light read, but I wasn’t wowed by it, and it didn’t leave me particularly fussed either way about continuing on with the series.  Having said that, it was a definitely a fun and speedy read, and it’d make a great readathon choice.

Buy it? This is a borrow for me.
In a nutshell: An enjoyable enough read, but it didn’t wow me.

Other Reviews of Geek Girl: Adventures with words  | Mab is Mab | There’s more to life than reading, but it’s a good place to start

One StarOne Star

[After Dark] The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (A.N. Roquelaure)

[After Dark] The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (A.N. Roquelaure)The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A. N. Roquelaure, Anne Rice
Series: Sleeping Beauty #1
Published by Sphere on 01-08-2012
Genres: Erotica, Love & Romance
Pages: 273
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

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

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★
Readability: ★

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty begins with Beauty being ‘initiated’ into the world of sex by the Prince.  Naively, when I read the blurb, I assumed Beauty would be…well…awake, for this.  She’s not.  Beauty then goes with the Prince to his kingdom to become his sex slave.

I requested The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty on NetGalley, pretty much on a whim.  I knew it was an erotic retelling of Sleeping Beauty, I knew it was written by Anne Rice, and I knew a lot of bloggers I normally share reading tastes with had enjoyed it.  I was convinced enough by those facts to request it, but unfortunately The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty and I just did not get along at all.

For a long time, I debated whether or not to write a review of The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, because while I do write negative reviews, I try to write negative reviews rather than flaming ones (see this great post by Dudette Reads on negative reviews without negativity) and that means highlighting the positives of a story – even if they’re few and far between.  Unfortunately, I really struggled to find a positive about The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. 

I didn’t find either The Prince or Beauty compelling as characters, and I couldn’t really bring myself to care about either of them.   The sex (between them and others) is prolific, so there’s absolutely no sense of build up, and I found it quickly got repetitive.  This is not the BDSM of Fifty Shades or the like – the consent is so dubious, I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling it BDSM at all.  It’s also definitely not BDSM-lite: characters are ‘given’ to others to use, they’re humiliated and they’re treated as slaves.  Beauty seems to spend as much time crying as she does anything else.

The most intriguing character is Prince Alexi, the Queen’s favourite ‘pet’, who Beauty is drawn to.  I really enjoyed the possibility of romance there, but unfortunately this wasn’t enough to balance out the rest of the story.  My overwhelming impression of the novel, to be honest, is one of abuse and endless spanking.

Despite being less than 300 pages, it took me pretty much a week to read and I nearly gave up more than once.  I’ve read other reviews from people who loved it though, so it seems to be a bit of a marmite read.  Unfortunately, while I’ve read and enjoyed a fair amount of erotic (and BDSM) fiction, for some reason The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty and I just rubbed each other the wrong way.

Buy it? I’d borrow or read a sample to see if it’s your style, but it isn’t one I’d buy.
In a nutshell: Just not for me at all.

Other Reviews of The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty: The Bookish Brunette | Reading in Bed | All About {n}

One Star

Saving June (Hannah Harrington)

Saving June (Hannah Harrington)Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Published by Mira Books Limited on 01-06-2012
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 322
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one — so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going — California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down — again.

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

I really wanted – and expected – to love Saving June, but unfortunately, I just didn’t.  I started my review for Saving June back when I read the book in January 2013, but I couldn’t really pinpoint why I didn’t love it, so I left the review in my drafts to refine it later.  Over a year later I literally remember only the barest details of the book (good job I had that draft!) which sorta sums up Saving June for me.

I did really enjoy Saving June when I read it, and one of my favourite things about it was the writing style.  Harrington’s writing style is so easy to get lost in, and Harper’s voice comes through so clearly, which makes it easy to empathise with her from the very first page. Harper’s grief at the start is so emotive, but her conflicted feelings, as well as her anger and her frustration, also come across really well, which makes her feel so much more real – how often do you just feel happy or sad, without also feeling excited, frustrated, angry, nervous, worried or anything else? Never!

I also absolutely loved the friendship between Laney and Harper.  The two have plenty of sarcastic banter, but they also stand by each other.  Jake was a likeable enough character, but I’ll admit that his music obsession felt a little frustrating at times.  I did enjoy his and Harper’s relationship too, though my feelings towards him were a little less clear after the ending!

All in all, I enjoyed Saving June, but for me, only the writing style really stood out, and it wasn’t as powerful as I expected it to be – although there were emotional parts, the book didn’t stay with me the way I would have expected.  Having said that, a lot of bloggers (and I mean a lot!) absolutely loved it, and I did enjoy it, so maybe this was just a case of the wrong book at the wrong time for me.

Buy it? This is a library borrow for me.
In a nutshell: Beautiful writing, and I enjoyed this, but ultimately it wasn’t as powerful as I’d expected.

Other Reviews of Saving June: A Good Addiction | Young Adult Book Haven | Lauren Reads YA

One StarOne StarOne Star

Mini review: The Silver Chain (Primula Bond)

Mini review: The Silver Chain (Primula Bond)The Silver Chain by Primula Bond
Series: Unbreakable Trilogy #1
Published by HarperCollins UK on 04-07-2013
Genres: Erotica, Fiction, General, Love & Romance
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Bound by passion, she was powerless to resist.

One dark evening in London, photographer Serena Folkes is indulging her impulsive side with a night-time shoot. But someone is watching her – mysterious entrepreneur Gustav Levi. Serena doesn’t know it yet, but this handsome stranger will change her life forever…

Serena is fascinated by Gustav, the enigmatic owner of the Levi Gallery, and she soon feels an irresistible pull of attraction. The interest is mutual, and Gustav promises to launch Serena’s photographic career at his gallery, but only if Serena agrees to become his exclusive companion.  To mark their agreement, Gustav gives Serena a bracelet to wear at all times. Attached to it is a silver chain of which he is the keeper. With the chain Gustav controls Serena physically and symbolically – a sign that she is under his power.

As their passionate relationship intensifies, Gustav’s hold on the silver chain grows stronger. But will Gustav’s dark past tear them apart?

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★
Readability: ★

The Silver Chain was unfortunately not a book I could get along with.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that erotic fiction is a bit of a guilty pleasure, and the genre is usually great for a quick, light read.  It can be a little formulaic sometimes, but that in itself isn’t an issue – the characters, their individual romance, the issues they go through etc, are all different, even if the overall themes are similar.

Unfortunately, in The Silver Chain, none of those individual elements redeemed the book for me.  I couldn’t connect with Serena who acted occasionally strange.  Gustav is also quite hard to like, from his insensitivity to his relationship with his ex-wife.  The relationship was not particularly compelling and there were times in this book when I thought Gustav was just too damaged, and Serena would be far better without him! The sex scenes were not exactly sizzling either.

Buy it? This is a library borrow for me – but only if I couldn’t find anything else.
In a nutshell: I’ve read some great reviews for this one, but unfortunately I couldn’t get along with it.

Other Reviews of The Silver Chain: Basically Books | 1 Girl 2 many books | Madness and Folly

One Star