by Joyce Lamb)
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The Ex Games by J.S. Cooper and Helen Cooper
Kate is the executive manager at Marathon Corp. She is mortified when the company is bought by Brandon Hastings, a multimillionaire with whom she had a five-month passionate love affair when she was 18.
Katie, now 25, anxiously heads to a meeting with the new boss and remembers how their steamy relationship began years ago, based on a lie. When she sees him, Katie finds herself swallowed up by her previous lust and love for Brandon. To make matters worse, Brandon is still enamored of her, or at very least, desires her physically with the same intensity he did years ago. Now, however, Brandon's attentions take on a very different quality — one that has a hard, edgy drive to it. A drive that Katie still can't deny, and one that will cause her regret and shame — yet again.
The Ex Games is the first novella of a three-part series by co-authors J.S. Cooper and Helen Cooper. Katie is a seemingly confused and love-lost protagonist trying to get on with her life after a traumatic breakup with Brandon years ago, but who doesn't have the will power to say "no" to his emotionally manipulative talk or the incredible sex they share? Meanwhile, Brandon is fully actualized as a likable character who is transformed from a caring, loving and passionate man into a mean and manipulative emotional control freak by Katie's lie. The narrative moves along quickly thanks to clean, smooth transitions between present time and flashbacks and the frequent — extremely frequent — sex scenes, which are graphic and well directed. Though the cliffhanger ending leaves the reader ready for more, the plot and protagonists of this book can't be fully appreciated without the sequel, which adds dimension to the story and the characters.
The Ex Games is a provocative and sexy erotic romance that, when read with the sequel, provides a potent reading experience. (Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader)
Raw by Belle Aurora
Alexa Ballentine had a troubled childhood but has turned it into a blessing, working to help kids like herself find jobs, educations, and hope for a better future. But Alexa is being stalked by a mysterious figure in a hoodie, and when she is almost raped one night, he comes to her rescue. Revealing himself as a tattooed business owner (not always on the right side of the law) named Twitch, he begins an obsession that threatens to take over Alexa's life. For reasons of his own, he's been plotting to seduce Alexa, make her fall in love with him, and then abandon her, but he's drawn to her with a force even he can't resist, and finds himself as much in love as she is. But he's not a nice, safe guy, and he doesn't have a nice, safe life — and when tragedy hits, their relationship and their lives may unravel completely.
This is a disturbing book, to say the least. Any reader looking for a comfortable, easy, tender little love story should put it down and back away slowly, because it isn't that, not at all. It is passionate, erotic, and forceful, and it will mess with readers' minds and leave them in pain, perhaps even in tears. The author is very, very good at emotional evocation, and the book's heat is tangible — in places the book burns the fingers with its erotic energy and fierce passions. It is hard not to love the characters, and dangerous to love them.
Anyone who's not comfortable with dominance/submission and/or rape fantasies should not read this book. For that matter, anyone who wants a sympathetic male lead should not read this book, either. Twitch is not a hero, and while he has a good heart (sometimes), it's at serious war with his sociopathic side. There is little resolution here, no safe conclusion. The ending is heartrending and jarringly unexpected — either it's a cliffhanger or the author simply loves to torture her readers (but in a good way).
This is essentially a romance, but not a sweet and loving one — it is better described by words like "heartbreaking," "wrenching" and, well, "raw." (Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader)
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