Review: No Strings by Cara Lockwood

no stringsTitle: No Strings

Author: Cara Lockwood

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Freelance writer Emma Allaire

The hero: App developer Xavier Pena

The blurb: A one-night stand is out of the question. Until good girl Emma Allaire meets tall, dark and drop-dead gorgeous Mr. X through an anonymous hook-up app and her sexiest fantasies come to life. Who is this enigmatic man in her posh hotel room bed? Mystery lover, man of her dreams or liar—will he save her heart or break it forever?

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: Emma Allaire is approaching her thirtieth birthday and her love life hasn’t exactly been anything to write home about up to now, so when her best friend Sarah signs Emma up to a new app called Nost, Emma is reserved but intrigued. Nost is short for No Strings, and it’s similar to Tinder – you can see other users who are near you and can hook up with them for a one night stand (or two, if you like). However, after 48 hours, their profile is gone from view forever.

Emma pushes out of her comfort zone and agrees to meet a man at a bar. When he turns up, however, the man has obviously used a fake profile because he’s nothing like the photo. Emma tries to be nice but he gets nasty, so she’s grateful when a tall, dark, handsome stranger intervenes. Turns out he’s Mr. X, another user whose profile she’d viewed. They have a drink and talk, and Emma finds herself unable to refuse his invitation to go to a room at the hotel they’re in.

The next morning, Emma finds herself bereft to see Mr. X has gone, but he’s left her a note instructing her to meet him in the hotel lobby that night. What follows is a series of hookups in which Mr. X walks away after every encounter.

Mr. X is Xavier Pena, the man who developed Nost. After watching his bipolar mother cheat on his devoted father for years, and then having his own fiancee cheat on him with other men, Xavier has given up on the idea of true love. So he developed Nost with people like himself in mind – those who want sex with no strings attached. He’s made good use of the app, burning through women without a second thought, but that all changes when he meets Emma.

Emma wants to know more about Xavier, but he’s a closed book. She does eventually learn about the cheating ex, and he tells her about his mother. Emma understands why Xavier is so reticent to be in a long-term, committed relationship, but she realises she’s in love with him. However, when she realises he’s still messaging other women on Nost, she ends the relationship.

Xavier comes to realise that he doesn’t want anyone else but Emma, so he faces his demons and goes after her. When Emma has another run in with the creep from the first Nost date, Xavier gets to her just in time.

I enjoyed this book and the chemistry between the leads, but I found Xavier a little annoying at times. I understood his reasons for not wanting a serious relationship, but Emma was a great heroine, and his constant pushing her away became grating. But they got there in the end, and the epilogue provided a nice little insight into their relationship down the track.

Review: Pleasure Games by Daire St. Denis

pleasure gamesTitle: Pleasure Games

Author: Daire St. Denis

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Jasmine Sweet

The hero: Professional motorcycle rider/Billionaire CEO Luca Legrand

The blurb: After catching her fiancé cheating, Jasmine Sweet is on her Parisian honeymoon alone and she’s determined to have an adventure! But an altercation resulting in temporary amnesia is more the stuff of nightmares. Then she meets a gorgeous stranger, and her time in France becomes a tour de fantasy! Luca shows her desires she never thought to experience – until their sexy dalliances become more than just a game…

Standalone or series: Standalone.

The review: This book made it clear that I need to stop reading Dare books in which the hero is named Luca, because this is the second one and I didn’t enjoy it any better than I did the first (which was The Marriage Clause).

I’ll once again start with the positives: it’s set in Paris, one of my favourite cities in the world. Luca is French (which I did find a bit odd, because Luca is an Italian name, but I guess a Frenchman can be called Luca).

And now, a list of the things that really bugged me:

1. Jasmine is an American who is fleeing to Paris after finding out the night before her wedding that her fiancé is having an affair with his best friend… who is a man. We find this out because Jasmine announces to everyone in first class on her plane that she has been a beard for three years. Parker wanted to go ahead with the wedding so he could continue his affair without his homophobic father finding out, but Jasmine takes off and decides to go on the honeymoon anyway. I’m all for the adventure, but strangers on a plane do not want to hear about it, lady.

2. I didn’t really like either protagonist. I get that Jasmine was hurting and betrayed, and that sucked out loud, but I found her behaviour to be completely irrational. Luca, who runs his family’s champagne business after having an accident which meant he couldn’t ride in the Grand Prix anymore, doesn’t really have any likable qualities, other than he’s French.

3. Jasmine decides to sell her four carat engagement ring so she can fund the ‘sexventure’ her best friend has told her to have, and while she’s looking in a shop it’s robbed. She’s knocked over and before she knows it, she’s in a strange apartment with amnesia. She can’t remember what happened to her and doesn’t have her bag, which was left behind at the robbery. Instead, she’s in an apartment with Luca, who drove past the shop as the robbery was occurring (he was fleeing the paparazzi, who have been chasing him because his ex released a sex tape of them online) and went in to help. In the melee, Jasmine’s engagement ring falls into his boot, so she follows him out of the shop but collapses. Because he doesn’t want to get involved with the police (he’s out on bail for assaulting a reporter) and he doesn’t want to leave Jasmine, he puts her on his bike and takes off with her. Even though the police would have helped her.

4. In the beginning, Jasmine’s name changes from Jasmine to Jazz over and over, which became really distracting. I can understand friends and family calling her Jazz, but it seemed out of place to go back and forth when it was referring to her in the third person.

5. There was at least three places in which Jasmine said, “Who’s” when it should have been “Whose”. I’m surprised an editor did not pick up on that.

6. Jasmine does eventually remember the robbery and what happened to her. She’s in a strange city where she knows absolutely nobody, she has no identification (her wallet and passport were in her bag), and she’s concussed and bruised. Would you not have gone to the police? A hospital? Back to the hotel where you were staying where your belongings were? The American Embassy? Yet, she did none of this. Instead, she stayed with a man who gave her a false name (not that she knew that until the end, of course) because he’s French, hot, and she wants to have sex with him. He could be a serial killer, but eh.

7. The paparazzi find out Luca is staying in the flat, so he decides to flee Paris and go to an estate his family owns a couple of hours outside the city. He wonders how the paps found him and he considers Jasmine a suspect. Given that she thinks he has a different surname and has no idea who he is, why would she tip off the paparazzi?

8. Once they finally decide to get it on at the estate, they spend five whole days doing nothing but eating, sleeping and having sex. By the end of the five days, they’ve had sex a total of twenty times because Luca bought a twenty four pack of condoms and there’s only four left. It’s a wonder that poor Jasmine could walk by the end of it.

9. In one scene, Jasmine is so turned on that, and I quote, “her sweet pussy was weeping tears down the insides of her thighs.” Weeping tears? Someone get this woman a tissue! Ugh. No.

I’m really surprised I didn’t enjoy this book because I’ve read another by Daire St. Denis before – Sweet Seduction – and I really liked it, so I expected to enjoy this one. Alas. Earwax.

Review: Ruined by Jackie Ashenden

ruinedTitle: Ruined

Author: Jackie Ashenden

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Cat Livingston

The hero: Biker Dane Kingsolver

The blurb: Dane “Smoke” Kingsolver and Cat Livingston need to fake a relationship to get her abusive ex off her back. Convincing people their friendship has heated up to scorching levels is unexpectedly easy! But when their red-hot chemistry threatens to ruin everything they’ve ever known can they go back to what they had before? And do they even want to?

Standalone or series: Book one in The Knights of Ruin series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: Wow, this book was hot on every level it could have been. Cat and Dane have been best friends for decades, ever since they met when they were children. Of course, this book had me at ‘best friends’ since best friends to lovers is my favourite plot, hands down. Dane has loved her for years, but doesn’t think she feels that way about him so he’s bottled it for the sake of their friendship.

Cat has a six year old daughter, Annie, who loves Dane. Annie’s father is Cat’s douchebag ex, Justin, and she left him when he smacked her around one too many times. She works two jobs to support her daughter and lives in a crappy apartment. Justin is a lawyer and the chief of police’s son, so when he threatens to go for custody of Annie, Cat turns to Dane, or Smoke, as he’s referred to for most of this book (side note – motorcycle clubs are not my favourite trope, least of all because they all have club names which make me roll my eyes) for help. Cat knows Justin doesn’t actually want Annie, but is only doing it to hurt her. So she asks her best friend for help.

Dane thinks the only way he can protect Cat and Annie is to have them under the protection of The Knights of Ruin, the MC club he’s a member of. His uncle, Keep, is the president. The only way they’ll protect the girls, however, is if they are part of the club, too – and the only way they can be is if Dane declares Cat to be his old lady to the club.

Cat doesn’t take much persuading, because she’s been hot for Dane for years but didn’t think he thought of her like that, so she, too, has been hiding her feelings. When Dane suggests the plan, she says sex is off the table, but as soon as he tells the club they’re together, he drags her into a corner and tells her to get down on her knees. Cat is helpless to resist and gives in to the lust and fire burning between them, and once it happens Dane refuses to pretend anymore. He wants Cat to be his old lady for real, and she’s going to be because he won’t take no for an answer.

They indulge in some seriously hot sex and Cat realises she’s been in love with him all along, but is scared. Scared of losing him as a friend, scared of letting him in because he could ruin her. He shares her fears, but he wants a family. He wants to be Annie’s father. So when Justin turns up at the unit and starts manhandling Cat, Dane beats the crap out of him.

Thinking he’ll be facing jail time, he leaves Cat, even though he promised he never would. She’s heartbroken at the idea of living without him, and it’s only when Keep tells him what a complete idiot he’s being that he acknowledges it and goes back to the best thing that ever happened to him. I devoured this book. Read it. You won’t be sorry.

Review: Inked by Anne Marsh

inkedTitle: Inked

Author: Anne Marsh

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Banker Harper George

The hero: Tattoo artist/Biker Ash ‘Vik’ Ilin

The blurb: Harper, a buttoned-up banker, is a tattoo virgin before Vik draws her first ink. And once the bad-boy biker lays his hands on the beautiful canvas of her body, he’s addicted! Harper says the two of them could never mix outside of the bedroom—but she’s finding that she wants the feeling of Vik’s touch to last forever.

Standalone or series: Book two of the Hard Riders MC series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: We met Vik very briefly in book one of the series (and it was nice to see Rev pop up in this one), and so I’m guessing that book three will feature Romeo, who popped up a few times in this one.

Vik, so named because he has long blonde hair and is tall and built because of his Norwegian heritage (Viking, geddit?), is a tattoo artist. When drunk banker Harper shows up at his tattoo parlour in Las Vegas at two in the morning, she wants a tattoo to celebrate a new her. She’s just been kicked out of her home by her douchebag ex after she found out he was cheating on her and she wants to let loose a little. So she lets Vik pick the tattoo, a firebird he puts on the small of her back (can anyone say tramp stamp?). She quickly realises he doesn’t remember her – they had sex in the back of his car in high school.

Vik is floored that he’s had sex with Harper before and can’t remember her, because she’s gorgeous and he wants her. When he hears her sad tale of woe, he offers to be her booty call. She finds that she can’t resist and they’re soon hooking up every chance they get. Over the course of the book, Harper realises she’s in love with him and it’s not just sex for her. She tells him this, and what does he do? Pushes her away. Bikers are not one of my favourite themes because I find the whole ‘I don’t need just one woman in my life, even though I want to settle down, because I’m a tough biker and can have any woman I want’ trope to be getting rather tiresome. And so it is with Vik, who refuses to admit he is ready to settle down with Harper and does love her, even after his fellow bikers tell him what a tool he’s being. He eventually gets the memo and the way he attempts to win her back is rather amusing. I really liked that Harper didn’t cave straight away, either. She was hurt and it showed.

Can we talk about the cover? Vik is a blonde Norse God. The cover model, while attractive, is not. I also noticed that Harper gets this massive tattoo on her back in the wee hours of the morning, but then spends part of the next day swimming. Vik also takes her up against the glass in her hotel room, which her back is up against. Surely her back would be tender? Being banged up against some glass and going swimming would be off the menu, I would have imagined. Not that I have a tattoo, mind you, but that would seem like common sense to me.

Vik and Harper get their happy ending. I really liked Harper, but I oscillated on Vik a little. I think I liked Rev and Evie from the first book better. Still, this one is worth the read, but be warned – there’s a lot of graphic language.

 

 

 

Review: The Marriage Clause by Alexx Andria

the marriage clauseTitle: The Marriage Clause

Author: Alexx Andria (I see what you did there!)

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Marketing executive Katherine Oliver

The hero: Billionaire CEO Luca Donato

The blurb: Katherine Oliver is not interested in getting married. The only problem is she can’t keep her hands off gorgeous billionaire Luca Donato, who wants to put a ring on it! So she puts Luca to the test in an X-rated battle of wits—to persuade her that their nights of passion can turn into something more!

Standalone or series: Book one of the Dirty Sexy Rich series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: Well. Let’s start with the positives, shall we? I liked that the action was set in San Francisco, a city I love. I also like the cover.

Okay, let’s make a list of the negatives.

1. The protagonists were not particularly likeable, and by the end I couldn’t have given a rats as to whether they ended up together or not. Katherine might have pretended to try and live a life without privilege, but she folded like a cheap tent after a couple of hours of charity work.

2. Katherine was referred to Luca’s runaway or wayward fiancée four times in the first six pages. Yep, we got the hint.

3. When she was 16, Katherine signed a contract that she would marry Luca to merge the two family fortunes. Is that even legal? How can a 16 year old sign a contract for an arranged marriage?

4. In one scene, Katherine said she’d felt “dumber than a box of hair.” I thought this was an interesting analogy; who puts hair in a box? I’ve heard of being dumber than a box of rocks, but not hair.

5. I get that when you’re writing a sex scene, there’s only so many euphemisms you can use to describe genitalia. But I promise you that I could have lived my life without reading about the heroine’s vagina being referred to as her ‘southern mouth’. I’m going to let you mull that over, because I can’t even.

6. Katherine apparently withdrew all of her money from her accounts before she took off, so there was really nothing stopping her staying away if she failed to go through with the marriage, even if her father cut her off. She talked and talked about wanting her freedom and not wanting to be his wife and part of his family, but she had the opportunity to go… and didn’t.

I wanted to like this book, I did. I always want to enjoy the books I read, but this one? A big miss, sadly 😦

 

 

 

Review: Sweet Thing by Nicola Marsh

sweet thingTitle: Sweet Thing

Author: Nicola Marsh

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Pastry chef Abigail Prendigast

The hero: Entrepreneur Tanner King

The blurb: Abby loves her new life working at Sydney’s finest patisserie. Working alongside brooding new man-in-charge Tanner is an unexpected but delicious challenge, especially as each night their attraction only grows hotter! But Tanner’s past is as dark as the ink on his skin… He’ll let her get closer than close in the bedroom, but dare Abby go deeper?

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: I have mixed feelings about this book for a number of reasons. Abby has spent the past year rebuilding her life. Her parents are wealthy and she grew up in a life of privilege, and did what she was told. She married a man she didn’t love at twenty-one, only to find him verbally and emotionally abusive, so she walked out. Her parents threatened to cut her off financially if she didn’t come crawling back, but she stood firm and found herself a job working for Remy King. Once he found out her situation, he offered her the flat above the patisserie and a job she’s grown to love.

When Remy falls off a ladder and breaks his leg, he calls upon his younger brother, Tanner, to help out at the shop until he’s better. Tanner has owned restaurants in the past and is currently invested in several nightclubs. He shares something with Abby – an emotionally abusive parent, in his father. Their beloved mother died in a car accident when Tanner was ten and Remy was fifteen, and the old man gave Tanner hell for the next five years until he died.

So Tanner doesn’t want to get involved with anyone because he can’t deal with relationships. Abby wants to let loose after mundane sex with the ex. It doesn’t take long for the sparks to fly and they’re hot and heavy with each other.

While I liked them both and wanted to see them get their happily ever after, a few things grated. The use of the word “frigging” for one. It’s a very Aussie slang word and ugh, I find it so juvenile. The Dare range is supposed to be full on in terms of language and descriptions, so why use that word? The cover also states that Nicola Marsh is an Aussie, but I had to wonder if she lived in Sydney, where the book is set, because nothing seemed to stand out as coming from an insider. My suspicions were confirmed when she misspelled the name of an inner city suburb – there is an identically named suburb in Melbourne, but the spellings are different. She used the Melbourne suburb spelling (how did the editors miss this??). When I looked at her website, I found out I was right – she’s from Melbourne. So why not set the book there? It would have felt much more authentic, but that’s probably only because I am a Sydneysider and I live in Sydney, and I know the city really well. I could picture the patisserie in my head in the Strand Arcade, right in the heart of the city.

I also found it strange that Tanner was still so mired in the past. Yes, I understand he was treated horribly by his father and it wasn’t his fault, but half his life later and he’s still so angry. As much as my romantic heart would like to believe it, meeting the right person doesn’t magically make all of that go away. Tanner would need to seek professional help to deal with his issues.

Lastly, tattoos does not a bad boy make. What is with this trope? It seems that any time I read about the hero with tattoos, he’s instantly pegged a bad boy. That’s not always the case.

Did I enjoy this book? I did. Did I love it? No.

Review: Make Me Want by Katee Robert

make me wantTitle: Make Me Want

Author: Katee Robert

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Lawyer Lucy Baudin

The hero: Headhunter Gideon Novak

The blurb: Lucy Baudin’s ex dented her self–esteem and it’s time to regain control. In her job as a lawyer she’s bold and confident. But in the bedroom…she needs inspiration to reawaken her inner seductress. Asking her friend Gideon Novak for help seems wrong, yet so deliciously right!

Standalone or series: Book one in the Make Me series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I think this might just be my favourite in the Dare imprint yet! Lucy Baudin is working her way up to partner at her law firm, but the powers that be are stuck in the last century and seem to believe a woman should be married. When she sees a fellow female colleague passed over for a promotion because she’s single, Lucy decides it’s time to find a husband. Given that’s she also spent the last two years alone and grieving after her ex-fiancé cheated on her, it’s time to get her love life back on track.

She calls Gideon Novak, the ex-douchebag’s former best friend who was also the person to tell her about said ex’s cheating, because he’s a professional headhunter. She has two things she wants from him: she wants him to find her a suitable husband, and she wants him to help her remember what good sex is like. Given that he’s been in love with her since he laid eyes on her six years ago, Gideon finds himself unable to resist both requests, especially the latter one.

At first, Gideon feels like he’s not good enough for her to be considered for the role of husband himself, but when their chemistry in bed proves to be explosive, he realises he can’t sit back and watch her marry another man. So he asks her to pick him, but when he talks to his friend and colleague Roman (who was also friends with the ex and knew about the cheating, but said nothing, for which he still feels guilty) about it, Roman somehow manages to make him think Lucy should pick someone else, so Gideon sets up a blind dinner date with one of the candidates he’d previously presented.

However, Lucy’s having none of that. She’s so annoyed at Gideon that she goes barging over to his apartment, calls him a coward, and walks out on him. He lets her… for a few days. He then makes it up to her with a really big diamond ring. Awwww. This was a great book! Read it. You won’t be sorry.

Legal Seduction by Lisa Childs

legal seductionTitle: Legal Seduction

Author: Lisa Childs

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Executive Assistant/Lingerie designer Bette Monroe

The hero: Lawyer Simon Kramer

The blurb: Quitting her job puts executive assistant Bette Monroe in a very compromising position. With ten days left, powerhouse lawyer Simon Kramer is working her late into the night…and seducing her into oblivion! While he’s convinced she’s selling business secrets, the bombshell she’s keeping secret would shock him more. Does she bare all…or keep him guessing?

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: I left this one until last to read because Lisa Childs is one of my three favourite M&B authors (the other two being Janie Crouch and Julie Miller), and I’m glad I did because this one is my favourite 🙂

Bette Monroe has been working for Simon Kramer for two years, and over those years she’s watched him go through endless women. He’s not interested in commitment, and she’s sent enough flowers on his behalf to prove it. When the lingerie line she’s been designing is picked up by a major store chain, she quits her job.

Simon is gobsmacked by her resignation. While he’s eyed her from afar for two years, he’s never really contemplated making a pass at her for fear of being sued for sexual harassment. The law firm he started with three friends who came from the same bleak childhood he did – living on the streets, conning people for a living – is too important to him to risk jeopardising it with a sexual harassment suit. So he keeps his distance… until he suspects Bette might be the office mole he’s been trying to ferret out. Someone is selling confidential papers from the law firm to a rival firm, and Simon is desperate to stop it.

Since she will no longer be his employee, and since he finds his attraction to her bubbling to the surface, he decides to finally seduce her and see if he can find evidence she is the mole… only to have the tables turned on him by Bette, who seduces him instead. She wants to get out of the two week notice Simon’s forcing her to serve on her contract, and she knows the only way to make that happen is to let Simon think she’s in love with him – because she knows the commitment shy lawyer will let her go.

Except that doesn’t happen. Simon finds himself intrigued by the layers that are Bette… both underneath her clothing and as a person. Bette’s signature on her lingerie are bows that hold the fabric together, and Simon delights in undoing each and every bow he finds. They find themselves unable to resist each other and have lots of hot sex, until they both realise that the game they’re playing with each other is no longer a game.

Bette finds out at her going away party from one of the partners that Simon only seduced her to see if she was the mole, and she gets angry, quite rightly so. She confronts Simon, slaps him, and walks away. Only she’s miserable without him, and when Simon’s three friends rock up to her new apartment and tell her he’s miserable without her, she decides to go see for herself. They kiss and make up on his couch and, since they’re no longer working together, admit they really have fallen in love with each other.

Loved this book, love this new imprint! Can’t wait to read next month’s books.

Off Limits by Clare Connelly

off limitsTitle: Off Limits

Author: Clare Connelly

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Lawyer and personal assistant Gemma Picton

The hero: Billionaire Jack Grant

The blurb: Billionaire Jack Grant is totally off-limits to Gemma Picton. He’s wild, deliciously dangerous…and her boss. When working late turns x-rated, it’s better than her wildest imaginings — and Gemma’s imagined a lot! But Jack has major emotional baggage, so when she starts wanting to heal his heart as well as enjoy his body, she knows she’s in big trouble…

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: This is one of the books in the new Dare imprint, and it is smoking hot! I loved it. Gemma has been working closely with Jack Grant for two years, and has watched from a distance as he’s bedded woman after woman. His wife, Lucy, died several years previously from cancer, and Jack is still grieving her loss. So he tries to forget through the rotating door to his bedroom, but it doesn’t help.

Gemma, who happens to be Lady by title (her grandmother is a Duchess), loves her job. She loves working for Jack. She’s seen him naked on a weekly basis, because part of her job is making sure he gets out of bed in the morning and he’s not shy. But she knows there’s a line she can’t cross with Jack, and she knows why. However, after two long years of resisting the sexual tension between them, they cross that line.

Gemma wants Jack to open up to her, to find out more about him as a person. She wants to help him move past the grief he’s mired in. They have lots of hot sex together, and after about a month, Gemma realises she feels more for him than just being his lover. She’s in love with him. When he tells her he can’t commit to being anything more than someone she sleeps with, she tells him she’s in love with him… and then walks away, even though it breaks her heart. She resigns and locks herself away from the world.

I loved that Gemma said, enough. She gave him the space he needed, not pushing him, but in the end she didn’t want to be with him when he kept blowing so hot and cold with her. I loved that she walked away from him, even though it hurt to do so. It makes Jack realise that he misses her and why, and eventually she lets him talk to her and he admits he loves her.

The book is set in London, but they come to Sydney for business. Jack owns a penthouse in Woolloomooloo Wharf that he bought off a Hollywood celebrity, and I was so amused by this because I happen to live in walking distance from the wharf and the penthouse floor was indeed owned by a Hollywood celebrity (Russell Crowe).

The only criticism I have, and it’s a small one, is that some of the language seemed to go from British to American English throughout the book: arse/ass, knickers/panties, that sort of thing. This book is definitely worth reading.

A Week To Be Wild by JC Harroway

a week to be wild.jpgTitle: A Week To Be Wild

Author: J.C. Harroway

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Marketing/PR business owner Olivia Noble

The hero: IT billionaire/Charity owner Alex Lancaster

The blurb: Alex Lancaster is an adrenaline junkie. He’s also a sexy British billionaire who should come with his own warning signs. When Libby insists she is done with men who live on the edge, Alex coaxes her out of her comfort zone — professionally and very, very personally. Libby’s taking a high-stakes gamble, but the pay-off could win her everything…

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: This is the second of the new Dare imprint books that I’ve read, and I have to be honest – I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first one. The first half of the book annoyed me so much that I considered giving up, but I’m glad I didn’t – because the second half was much, much better, and I’m glad I stuck with it in the end.

Olivia Noble, who is strangely known as Libby (to me, Libby has always been short for Elizabeth – I’ve never heard it being short for Olivia before), is an American who co-owns her own marketing/PR firm. She’s asked to go to London to give a talk at some prestige function which could gain her a foot up in the business.

While there, she meets one of the other speakers – one sexy British billionaire called Alex Lancaster. Before I go on, I’m going to go off on a tangent for a moment: millionaires/billionaires/tycoons/magnates etc are probably one of my least favourite tropes in romance books. And why is it always the hero who has the money? Why can’t the heroine ever be the billionaire?

Anyway, Libby lays eyes on Alex and wants to do him in a heartbeat. However, she’s nursing a very deep scar; three years previously, she lost her fiancé in a motorcycle accident a week before their wedding. She came out relatively unscathed, he was killed instantly. So when she finds out her attraction to Alex is mutual, she decides to play a game with him: she’ll stay for a week and help him with his charity as he’s asked her to, they’ll have lots of sex, but she has all the control.

And here’s where it didn’t work for me. Libby continues to refer to Alex as arrogant, but I didn’t find him arrogant at all. I thought he was quite charming and patient, all things considered. She drags him to a room and plays with herself in front of him, not allowing him to touch her, but then he can’t resist and gets her permission to finish her off with his mouth. However, he then just gets up with an erection the size of Texas and walks away, because – wait for it – he failed her. Huh?

We hear from Alex’s point of view how much he likes her independence, her feistiness (I’m paraphrasing here), and I get that, because people with his kind of money would have a lot of yes men around. So Libby says what she thinks and doesn’t sugar coat it, which turns Alex on, but I found her behaviour and the way she treated him at first to be rather bitchy. The first time they have sex, she literally jumps out of bed, dresses, and legs it. She doesn’t seem to appreciate how hurtful her behaviour is and justifies it by continually referring to the game they’re apparently playing.

Alex likes to do adrenaline filled activities, and so did Libby’s ex. So she’s fearful of everything Alex suggests but won’t tell him why. To her credit, she goes ahead with them all in spite of her fears. When he invites her to his cousin’s wedding in Nice at the end of the week, she goes, and then realises when she sees him playing on a jet ski that she’s in love with him. So what does she do? Runs back to New York. Her business partner and best friend has just given birth, so she uses that as an excuse to run. Thankfully Alex, who has also realised that he’s in love with Libby, isn’t having any of it, so he trots off to New York after her.

It’s while talking with Sonya that Libby realises she can’t keep running, and that maybe what she has with Alex is something special, so she decides to head back to London to tell him… only to find him standing in her office. They declare their love for each other, he’s already bought a unit in NY, and all’s well that ends well.

There was one line at the beginning that made me chuckle: “A shiver originated in her ovaries and snaked south to join the wobble in her legs.” I’ve read similar lines before, and I’m starting to wonder if my ovaries are normal, because I’ve never had a shiver originate in them, ha ha!

I like that Mills and Boon have finally brought out a range that has this level of sex and swearing, because these books are for adults about adults, and adults engage in sex and swear a lot. It’s good to see such a big publisher like M&B step out of their comfort zone and bring out books adults will want to read.

Ruled by Anne Marsh

RuledTitle: Ruled

Author: Anne Marsh

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Party planner Evie Kent

The hero: Biker/Former SEAL Jaxon ‘Rev’ Brady

The blurb: Jaxon Brady of the Hard Riders MC has sworn to protect Evie Kent from a rival gang. His hard muscles and black leather motorcycle boots are a sharp contrast to the girly dresses Evie wears for her successful party-planning business. Their instant attraction is magnetic, and their lust keeps them glued to each other’s side…but is it a dangerous distraction?

Standalone or series: Part of the Hard Riders MC series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: Dare is the newest imprint from Mills & Boon, launched for the February release. It’s touted as their sexiest yet… and they’re not joking!

Evie Kent’s younger brother, Rocker, is part of a motorcycle club and it turns out he’s been doing some pretty shady stuff that Evie knows nothing about – he’s been running drugs through Las Vegas for a Colombian cartel, but has also made the mistake of double crossing them. She runs a party planning business involving princesses and tries her best to protect her baby brother.

Jaxon Brady, known as Rev, is part of a rival MC that wants to shut Rocker down, because not only is he breaking the law, he’s running the drugs through their territory. Jaxon decides to check out Rocker’s sister, in part to use her as bait to get to Rocker and in part to keep her safe from the Colombians, who might kill her to get back at her brother.

Jaxon is attracted to Evie straight away, and Evie feels the same, especially since Jaxon is hot and she’s had a bit of a man drought. Before they know what’s going on, they’re all over each other, and Evie finds out that Jaxon’s body is not the only thing that’s big and hard – this guy has a twelve inch dick. I kid you not. So they can’t stop having sex with each other, but neither is sure they want a long term commitment – she has doubts because he’s in a rival MC and he’s not friends with her brother, and he has doubts because, well, he doesn’t do commitment.

Speaking of dicks, let’s talk about sex, baby. This book was R18+. The language and sex scenes were so incredibly graphic that I had to look at the cover a couple of times to check I was reading a M&B book! There’s oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex in this book, all of which are described in detail, and a lot of dirty language. If that sort of thing doesn’t float your boat, this imprint may not be for you, but since it floats mine and it has one of my favourite tropes in romance books – bad boy/good girl – I really enjoyed it. I look forward to reading more books as they come out; it appears there will be four new releases every month.