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Amanda Ryan

Hot and Haunted: Megan Hart, Lauren Hawkeye and Saranna DeWylde

Redonk Nutshell: Three thrilling erotic shorts by three talented authors

Nothing Else Matters by Megan Hart

Five Chapters – an outbreak of a strange virus consumes the world in a zombie apocalypse. Lira, for some miraculous reason, is immune to the spore that causes the disease, so it’s up to her to go out into the plagued world to find supplies for their small, rag tag group of survivors.  Lira is a machine, a woman who does what she has to in order to survive, and physical contact with other humans has more meaning to her than much else.

It’s really damn near impossible to read anything by Megan Hart and not be moved. I wasn’t quite sure where this story was going, in terms of a happy ending, and I know that Hart has a tendency to rip the carpet out from underneath you yet miraculously leaving you wanting more. So…I kept myself guarded for the ending, and when it came…it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. And I was totally okay with that. It was a resolution, yet not. And really, Hart is one of the few authors that can pull this off effectively.

Rating: B-

Romance: 3/5       Raunch: 5/5


Pick Me Up by Lauren Hawkeye

Four Chapters – a woman who discovers her fiance has been bringing other women (and men) into her own bed, takes it onto herself to take back her helplessness. On a dark and stormy night, Holly dresses provocatively and nearly crashes into a man driving along the deserted road. The car goes into a ditch, and Holly accepts refuge in the man’s, Brody’s, car until AAA can come. Holly makes up a story about her past, assuming the role of a stripper and sets out to seduce Brody, a geeky yet kind optometrist who has no idea what he’s stumbled on to. Things take a turn, though, when Brody twists the rules, and Holly and Brody end up having a crazy hot interlude on the side of the road.

This, by far, was my favorite of the three in this anthology. Holly is an emotional hot mess, and while I didn’t necessarily agree with what she was doing, I understood it. And Brody…poor, unassuming Brody…A seduction goes awry in the most blissful way possible, and it’s fantastic.  Loved this story.

Rating: A

Romance: 2/5         Raunch: 5/5


Little Red’s Big Bad by Saranna DeWylde

Seven Chapters – Federal marshall takes it upon herself to track down an escaped psychotic serial killer who believes himself to be a werewolf.  When an FBI agent Aden Brewster insists on teaming up with Marshall Miranda Garrick, she’s initially put off. But Adan gradually wins her over. It kinda sorta also helps that he’s drop dead gorgeous. Things get tricky, though, when Miranda beings to notice odd occurrences around Aden that begin to make her uneasy, and she’s forced to start considering that the whole “werewolf” thing might be more than fantasy.

This as probably my least favorite of the three, though I still enjoyed the story. I think what turned me off was Miranda’s behavior toward Aden after she started to suspect the worse of him. It’s kind of one of those things where I understood why she did it, but I didn’t necessarily “get it” at the same time, you know? Eh. Well. Werewolves really aren’t my thing anyhow, but I give this story props for it’s imagination.

Rating: C

Romance: 2/5    Raunch: 4/5


Hot and Haunted: Megan Hart, Lauren Hawkeye and Saranna DeWylde

Overall rating: B

About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

He didn’t have the guts to be a black sheep. She didn’t have the willpower not to.  They brought out the worst in each other. No wonder it felt so good.

About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Redonk Nutshell: Man & woman find themselves an unlikely pair after a one-night stand

Cath Talarico has vowed to lead a safe and uninteresting path. When she wakes in an unknown apartment after a rare night out on the town, she assumes the worst. Her unlikely rescuer is the man she’s termed “City,” a fellow commuter she’s seen daily but never spoken with.  After self perusal, she realizes they didn’t sleep together – instead he put her to bed. No really. He did.  When she greets him, they end up hitting it off, and Cath realizes he’s not at all what she expected him to be.

Nev Chamberlain is a younger son from a prestigious rich family. He works in finance, but his passion is art. By day he arms himself in suits but in his own time he’s in tees and jeans and covered in paint.  He’s always been intrigued by the intense, petite woman he commutes with, but he hadn’t the nerve to speak with her.

The attraction between these two is consuming. They’re polar opposites, and they each are doubtful of this “relationship” going anywhere.  In fact, Cath keeps an impenetrable wall around her heart, but she doesn’t count on Nev’s patience and  persistence.  They strike a deal to dupe Nev’s manipulative mother, and they fake marriage during a weekend visit. It goes south, though, when they realize their “faked” feelings aren’t fake at all, and this whole marriage thing might have merit.

This.  This book. GAH! Loved loved loved it.  It’s such a romantic story and WOOOO-EEEEE is it steamy!  Ruthie Knox has quickly become a favorite author of mine.  I simply can’t wait for her to put out more work.  MUST WRITE QUICKER, RUTHIE!  Bwahahaha.  But seriously, this book is a fantastic romantic read.  The attraction between the main characters sizzles between the pages. It’s both painful and cathartic to watch them work through their emotional baggage.  They both grow as characters, and their love for one another gradually overcomes their individual hang ups. But it takes some nudging to get them to that point.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone looking for a steamy, sensual and epically romantic read.

Rating: A+

Romance: 5/5            Raunch: 4/5

Willing Victim by Cara McKenna

Willing Victim by Cara McKenna

Redonk Nutshell: Woman is inducted into her darkest fantasies

When Laurel comes across Flynn she’s intrigued. He’s a big, blue collar kind of guy who takes a very no-nonsense attitude to life. He invites her to a bar and she accepts. When she arrives, she’s surprised to find he’s not at the bar but at the underground boxing ring. When she’s invited back to his place to watch both him and another woman engage in role-playing, she’s shocked to find herself really curious.  The kind of role playing they partake in is rape fantasy, and Laurel’s reaction to it both stuns and horrifies her.  She’s interested, and she wants to try it for herself.  Flynn later accepts her invitation, and they being a sensually awakening journey that blossoms into something serious.

You really can’t go wrong with Cara McKenna. She rocks.  Her writing is so hot it steams off the page, and her characters are both infuriating and fascinating.  Willing Victim isn’t for anyone that may be offended by rape role-playing or physical domination.  Mind you, it’s all consensual but it may rub some the wrong way.  For the rest of us…well, I think you’ll enjoy this one. *wink wink*

Rating: B

Romance: 2/5             Raunch: 5/5

Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox

“Don’t move, sweetheart,” he murmured in her ear. “This is my favorite part. The way you feel all wrapped around me when I’m finally inside you, quivering and sucking air into your lungs like you can’t possibly take in enough oxygen to feed the burn.”

Redonk Nutshell: Two unlikely strangers end up hitting it off while crossing the county on their bicycles

Lexie Marshall partners up with Tom Geiger to bike the TransAmerica Trail. It’s an arrangement made against his better judgement (his sister conned him into it) – he’d prefer to make the trek by himself, and he has no desire to put up with a woman who he assumes is either a) looking for a hook up b) incapable of making the trek and/or c) too high strung to tolerate his laid back methods.  They team up regardless, and though they spend a good amount of time butting heads the first several hundred miles, they gradually come to figure each other out.  And of course, when the sparks start to fly, they each struggle to figure out what this means long term for the two of them who swore not to take their relationship seriously.

This was my first read of Ruthie Knox, and I ADORED it.  I’d describe this book as being a Super Sensual Romance story.  It’s sexy as hell and it’s PACKED with swoon worthy moments.  I love love loved it.  I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox

Rating: A

Romance: 5/5            Raunch: 5/5

Make Me by Charlotte Stein

The second he’s said it I have the overwhelming urge to cover my nipples. And my pink cheeks. And maybe my groin while i’m at it, because by this point it must be glowing like a neon sign: ENTER HERE.

Redonk Nutshell: Woman revisits friends and finally confronts unfinished sexual tension

Make Me is a novella featuring Maisie and her two guy friends, Brandon & Tyler.  Their friendship stems back since their college days, and the last time Maisie saw them she sneaked  out after an amazing albeit awkward threesome.  Ten years later she’s visiting them, and against her rational judgement she finds herself willing but conflicted in addressing what happened.

This is a naughty mcnaughty short by Charlotte Stein.  Tyler and Brandon have an interesting bisexual relationship, and both of them are tied up with Maisie. Maisie, god love her, is completely confused and shocked to learn of this. She struggles to understand the relationship between her two best friends. Tyler dominates Brandon like a boss, and Maisie has a hard time understanding how on earth this works, and why Brandon tolerates it. When things begin to click for her, she finds herself slipping in with them.

Steamy and raunchy, yes ma’am. I wouldn’t say this is one to stick with me, something like the equivalent of a one night stand erotic read. I enjoyed it, but it left me a bit empty.  I wasn’t too terribly attached to the characters, and there were times I wanted to shake Maisie. If you’re looking for something to light your fire give it a go, but don’t expect a lingering burn.

Make Me by Charlotte Stein

Rating: C

Romance: 1/5                     Raunch: 5/5

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Redonk Nutshell: Rich girl looking to make it on her own finds herself drawn to enigmatic CEO

Bared to You by Sylvia Day comes across as something of a direct challenge to the success of E L James’s Fifty trilogy. It’s hot, it’s filthy, and it’s actually been edited before publication (WHO KNEW!?!?!?).  It won’t rocket your intelligence to the next level, but it may just rocket you elsewhere, say, in the bedroom.

Eva is a woman looking to make her own way in New York City. She has a brand new job as an assistant to a junior marketing exec at a swanky ad agency, and shares an apartment with her close friend, Cary. She comes from money, and she’s devoted herself to finding her own path without help from her rich stepfather. When she has a run in with a mysterious and sexy dark stranger at her high rise office building, she immediately senses an attraction. When that stranger turns out to be Gideon Cross, the owner of the building and super successful business tycoon, she shies away. He has a reputation, and she’s determined to keep herself from becoming entangled.  Too bad her for, he’s just too much to resist, and before long their tumbling into unknown waters where heartache and distrust loom in the deep depths.

It’s easy to compare this to Fifty. There are innumerable similarities in the plot and characters.  Bared to You, however, felt a little bit more raw, and perhaps, even, more mature.  Where Ana was inexperienced and faltering, Eva is direct and resolute.  She still has her moments, however, where she could use a swift smack or two.  Still, you can sense the difference in Eva and Gideon’s relationship from Christian & Ana from their interchanges.  When Gideon more or less propositions her, she cuts him with a quick retort:

“Sex that’s planned like a business transaction is a turnoff for me.”

“Establishing parameters in a merger makes it less likely that there’ll be exaggerated expectations and disappointment.”

“Are you kidding? I scowled. “Listen to yourself. Why even call it a fuck? Why not be clear and call it a seminal emission in a pre-approved orifice?”

He pissed me off by throwing his head back and laughing.

Their exchanges alone are almost as jam-packed with sexual tension as their actual sex.  This is a deliciously filthy book that I very much enjoyed, mostly because these two had such a fascinating dynamic.

Bared to You is the first in a series that Ms. Day is calling her Crossfire trilogy.  If you’re looking for something steamy to follow down the path of Fifty, I’d highly recommend giving this a go.

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Rating: A

Romance: 3/5     Raunch: 5/5

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is from Sylvia Day’s Bared to You.  It’s straight up pornographic. And it’s awesome.  HA-CHA-CHA! You are officially forewarned.

His smile was both wicked and delighted,and it made my chest tight. “I want to feel my cum in you when I fuck you with my fingers. I want you to feel my cum in you, so you think about how I looked and the sounds I made when I pumped it into you.  And while you’re thinking about that, you’re going to look forward to me doing it again and again. “

Heat by R. L. Smith

Redonk nutshell: During a record heat wave, a fugitive alien hides out on earth while an alien cop pursues him

Knowing what I know about this book, the above “redonk nutshell” has to be the lamest one I’ve possibly ever written.  This is probably going to be a bizarre review so bear with me.  This was a strange and epically intense book.

I picked up R. L. Smith’s Heat after reading a post over at Wonk-o-Mance, a blog hosted by several stellar authors. Amber Lin talked about romances that push the envelope and dare to skirt edges many people fear to tread. Thus, I picked up Heat, thinking it sounded like something that would pique my interest.  It sat in my queue for a while, mostly because I have SO MUCH to read and it wasn’t on loan to me, so I could pick it up anytime. When I finally made my way to it, I couldn’t put it down.

I often times find myself wondering where we as human beings get our fascination with the grotesque. Example: car crashes-people just can’t look away.  I find myself objectively torn over Heat and why I found it so fascinating knowing it’s chocked full of horrific themes that I, in any ordinary circumstances, would never admit to being fascinated by. But damn it all if this book isn’t simply that – fascinating. It’s appallingly violent, what with people’s brains being harvested and all, and the violence against women (there’s seriously heinous rape and sexual domination), one has to wonder how effed up one is to be seriously contemplating this book as one of the best they’ve read in a long time.  And folks, that’d be me.

Kanetus E’Var, Kane,  has narrowly escaped imprisonment, and has managed to stow away on Earth. His goal is to pull off one more great heist of Vhast, a drug synthesized from the human hypothalamus gland. There are two things he doesn’t count on – 1) a Fleet officer coming after him and 2) the record breaking heat wave that is enveloping the area he landed.

Important to know: His kind, the Jotan, go into Heat, a violent and painful breeding time that is triggered by excessive heat.

While Kane murders and violates his way across the Northwest, Fleet officer Tagen Pahnee takes refuge with a tormented female human in order to help track down his fugitive.

Heat is two stories of two very different men, interwoven delicately around their dangerous dance with each other.  “Dangerous” doesn’t even begin to describe Kane. When reading violence in novels, I typically find myself somewhat protected by a feeling of displacement from the action itself.  Smith somehow managed to rip that away, leaving us vulnerable and bare to the Kane’s detached violence. He rips the skulls off his victims in order to procure his drug, violently rapes women as Heat comes upon him, and inflicts bizarre yet possessive treatment upon the one woman, Raven,  he singles out to keep with him during his murder spree.  He forces her to be tattooed and pierced.  He passes her around to service his victims before he harvests them. This was so far outside my comfort zone I found myself forcibly shutting off  the judgmental part of my brain in order to keep up my pace.

And I was horrifically entranced.

Then there’s Tagen’s side of the story. Where everything about Kane scrambles you, Tagen’s story helps put it back together. Tagen finds himself in the hands of Daria, a woman who has suffered serious post traumatic stress after being assaulted and permanently scarred six years prior. Tagen actually has morals and he goes out of his way to learn the human language and culture while attempting to not step on Daria’s toes. When Heat comes upon him, he does everything within his power to keep himself away from her, and when Daria realizes that he’s becoming increasingly ill, she offers to help in the only way she can.

Kane is the dark and Tagen is the light. There is definitely more emotional investment in the dark side of the story.  It’s one of those rare instances where you find yourself rooting for the bad guy, though you know deep down it goes against everything you believe in.  In such a tormented, violent, and erotic story we still somehow manage to get happily-ever-after endings.  And that’s saying something for Kane.  Mind you, there’ s no redemption for this man.  He is who he is, and he’s never going to change.  What does change him, however, is his relation to Raven, and more so, her’s to him.

If Tarantino ever had a love child with an erotic science fiction book, it would resemble Heat. This book is NOT for the faint of heart.  If you have any predilection towards stories with redemption and heartwarming romance, then you’d best keep away from this one. However, if you’re looking for something a little different, something that will rip you outside of your comfort zone and force you to watch, this might be a good one to consider.

Heat is a self-published (and LONG) novel.  There are a few typos here and there, but otherwise I found myself really engrossed in this story.  I’ve already added another of Smith’s books to my queue, and I’m excited to get to it sometime soon.

Heat by R. L. Smith

Rating: A

Romance: 2/5           Raunch: 5/5

*note – this book contains graphic violence, including but not limited to gratuitous sex, both consensual and non-consensual. This may be a hard limit for some readers

Sheltered by Charlotte Stein

Redonk Nutshell: Secluded young woman welcomes an unlikely attraction to a tattooed, motorcycle riding punk

Evie is a young college student who has spent the better part of her life trying to keep her abusive father appeased. When she spots Van, a young man with tattoos, piercings, and a punk hairstyle, cavorting with the neighborhood pothead, she battles between conflicting emotions of intrigue and disapproval.  When Van begins to chat her up they find themselves hooked to each other.  Thus begins a strange and terrifying awakening for Evie. When it comes time for her to make some serious decisions about her life, she finds herself, for the first time, able to take a stand.

This was a very enjoyable read.  Evie’s naivete is an interesting combination with Van’s own unique vulnerability.  In other words, it’s damn near impossible to predict what, exactly, these two are going to do or how they’re going to react.  You’d expect the punk to be, well, a punk, and the virginal, sheltered uber-Christian to be an uptight judgmental freak. In fact, these two are anything but, and it’s really quite lovely.

I very much enjoyed this story.  It’s a dark tale, but it has a hopeful foundation.

Sheltered by Charlotte Stein

Rating: B

Romance: 3/5          Raunch: 5/5

Life After Fifty: Ten Erotic Novels You Need to Read

On the cusp of the “Fifty Frenzy,” I’ve pulled together a list of erotic romance stories that leave Fifty Shades of Grey in the dust There is some really amazing stuff out there, writing that should be in the spotlight for it’s beautifully crafted writing and imagination, writing that is original as well as gripping and poignant.  And sexy as hell.

If you found yourself enjoying E L James’ Fifty series, consider adding these to your To-Be-Read stack.

  1. Dirty, Megan Hart: emotionally vacant woman struggles through her intense attraction to a man she meets in a candy store
  2. CurioCara McKenna : A woman pays a french model and prostitute to take her virginity
  3. A Courtesan’s Guide to Getting Your Man, Celeste Bradley & Susan Donovan: this dual tale tells the story of two women in two different centuries embarking on discovering their sexuality
  4. Sin, Sharon Page : Erotic illustrator enlists the help of a renowned rake to help her track down the courtesan blackmailing her
  5. The Lady’s Tutor, Robin Schone : Women enlists help to educate herself in amorous acts in order to tempt back her husband
  6. The Reluctant Nude, Meg Maguire: Woman poses for a nude sculpture and finds herself reluctantly captivated by the artist
  7. Reckless, Anne Stuart: dark & tortured hero finds himself going from the seducer to the seduced
  8. Master of the Mountain Cherise Sinclair: woman is taken under the wing of a Dom and finds herself exploring the BDSM world
  9. Everything Forbidden, Jess Michaels : Regency woman bargains her virginity to a dom for three contractual months
  10. Broken, Megan Hart : married woman fills the void of loneliness by listening to a stranger’s stories of sexual encounters

Stranger by Megan Hart

Redonk Nutshell: Independent woman who typically pays for no strings attached dates falls for an inadvertent hook up with a man she wasn’t expecting

Grace Hawley is a young funeral director.  She inherited the business from her retired (and high strung) father, who only retired at the insistence of his wife.  Grace is young, successful, and smart.  And she has no desire whatsoever for any sort of emotional connection with a man.  She does, however, have physical needs.  When one of her clients leaves a business card catering to women in need of “services,” she takes it.  Thus begins Grace’s experiences with paid companions.

When Stranger begins, Grace is on her way to a bar to meet a new escort.  Tonight she wanted it to be a stranger, to have the experience of having sex with someone he didn’t know and would never see again.  When a man arrives and catches her eye, there’s instant chemistry.  Too bad she doesn’t realize until many hours later that this man, Sam, wasn’t her paid date at all.  He literally was a complete stranger.

Grace is convinced she won’t see him again, but of course she does, when Sam’s family uses her funeral business upon the death of their father.  She struggles to juggle her burgeoning feelings toward Sam as well as her need for no strings attached.  She continues to entertain a particular male, Jack, while avoiding any sort of connection with Sam.  And it isn’t until things with Jack progress to an uncomfortable level of emotional intimacy that Grace admits herself she has feelings for Sam.

Sounds complicated, and it is. But it’s lovely.  What really makes Megan Hart’s books tick for me are the complex and emotionally volatile characters she creates amid the steamy and sensual story line.  Yes, it’s deliciously raunchy.  But it’s also dense with substance.  Never fails with Ms. Hart.  If your’e looking for an erotic novel that will  light the fire and linger long after the flame, Megan Hart is your lady.

I have much love for this book.  Can’t wait to read more.

Stranger by Megan Hart 425 pgs, 2/1/9

Rating: A

Romance: 3/5            Raunch: 5/5


Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl

Redonk Nutshell: Mechanic decides to have a fling with someone in order to spice up her life and ultimately decides on her best friend’s brother

HA-CHA-CHA! This book is uber hawt. This is probably my favorite of Ms. Dahl’s so far, not only because it’s DELICIOUSLY Raunchy, but also because the leading characters are super adorable.

Lori Love comes back to her home town in order to take care of her dad.  Fast forward many years later, her dad has long since passed away and she’s taken on his garage business.  Lori has been a master mechanic since she was a kid, and she’s starting to feel…antsy.  She’s always wanted to travel, and she left college in order to come back and take care of her dad.

When the local sheriff tells her he’s reopening her father’s case because he suspects murder, Lori is startled.  It’s the first push in a series of nagging feelings she’s had about getting her life back in order.  Her first order of business is to get some action in the bedroom.  Her love of erotic novels is leaving her wanting something more. When her eyes fall on Quinn, her best friend’s brother, she’s reluctant at first.  But when Quinn returns her interest, things start to get interesting.

It gets especially feisty when Quinn takes it upon himself to learn Lori’s fantasies, and swipes her favorite erotic novel to read “for research.”

There’s an excellent amount of humor and sass in Start Me Up.  Our heroine is something of a tomboy, but is fairly comfortable in her skin.  Quinn is simply adorable.  He’s a nerd extraordinaire, an uber -successful architect that has a tendency to get swept away in art of his work.  Since these two have known each other all their lives, their adventure in romanceland is super interesting.  The rules of their relationship change, and they both find themselves ultimately questioning what, exactly, it is they’re looking for in each other.

An excellent contemporary read!

Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl, 6/30/09, 367pgs

Rating: A

Romance: 4/5            Raunch: 5/5