Ellie Reads Fiction

22 Jun 2016

Release Day Blitz for Practice Makes Perfect by Jay Northcote




Author: Jay Northcote

Release Date: June 22

Buy Link: Amazon

Length: 54,000 words

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh 

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance 



Blurb


Getting experience with the guy next door seems like a great idea until the lines blur.


Dev, a geeky first year physics student, has zero sexual experience and he is determined to change that ASAP. After a bad time in halls of residence, he is starting the summer term with different housemates and a new plan of action.

Ewan lives in the house next door to Dev. He's young, free and single, and isn't looking to change that anytime soon. When awkward circumstances throw them together, Ewan offers to help Dev out in the bedroom in return for maths tutoring, and Dev jumps at the chance.


They work their way through Dev's sex-to- do list, but what starts as a perfect no- strings arrangement gets more complicated as their feelings for each other begin to grow. If they're going to turn their lessons in lovemaking into something more permanent, they need to work out how they feel 
about each other before they get to the end of Dev's list.

NB: Although this book is part of a series, it is a complete story with different main characters and can be read as a standalone. 


Excerpt


Sitting on his bed, Dev yawned, his full stomach making him sleepy. He stared at his phone as he contemplated calling home but decided he couldn't face it tonight. He loved his mum, but she did tend to bang on. Once she got him on the line, she'd end up talking for ages and asking him a million questions he was too tired to answer. Instead, he sent his mum a quick text.
All moved in, everything's good. I'm shattered now so I'm going to have an early night. I'll call you tomorrow.
She replied within seconds as though she'd been waiting for him to call.
Okay sweetie, glad you're settled. Sleep well xxx
He picked up his notepad and crossed off phone home. Texting counted. He also crossed off everything else on his list for today. 
That was Saturday done. Dev set his notepad aside, opened his laptop, and pulled up his lists app. He liked his notepad for day-to- day organisation; it gave him a certain satisfaction to cross out the things he'd done and to get to the end of the day with all the tasks completed. But for longer-term planning, he kept his lists on his Mac, synced to his phone.

For the first time in six months, Dev could breathe again. Finally he had a safe place where he could get back on track and look to the future. He began to type.
Things To Do This Term
Make some friends
Learn to cook
Research sex stuff
Join Grindr
Get some experience
Find a boyfriend
He stared at the words on the screen and sighed. That seemed like a lot of things to aim for. But it was good to have goals, right? Jez and Mac seemed really nice, so hopefully Dev was already on his way to achieving the first objective. And that bloke Ewan Dev's mind conjured up the image of the flame-haired hunk who lived next door. Ewan had been friendly.
Maybe there was potential there too.



Author Bio and Links

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story just to see if she could and found it rather addictive. She hasn't stopped writing since.



21 Jun 2016

Review: Downtown Devil by Cara McKenna

Title: Downtown Devil (Sins in the City #2)
Author: Cara McKenna
Genre: Erotic romance
Release Date: 21 June 2016

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Tumblr / Goodreads

My rating: 5 Stars
Add on Goodreads




Blurb

At the edge of thirty, Clare is feeling restless. Even though she’s gainfully employed and pursuing her passion for photography, she can’t shake the feeling that something’s missing. Then she meets Mica. A perfect subject for her portrait exhibit, Mica is sexy, exciting, and everything Clare desires. 

One night with the charismatic stranger is all it takes to leave her craving more. But the intensity Mica brings isn’t confined to the bedroom, and Clare wonders if this summer fling might turn more adventurous than she anticipated—especially as a curious energy starts to simmer between the two of them and Mica’s handsome roommate, Vaughn.

As the three-way tension mounts, Mica makes a sinful proposal. It’s an invitation Clare can’t pass up, and an erotic encounter she’ll never be able to forget. Caught up between two irresistible men, Clare is about to get all the excitement she’s been looking for—and then some...


Review


This is the second book in Ms McKenna's series of contemporary erotic menage romance Sins in the City and it's probably the best of her erotic writings I have read. And I'm not saying this lightly since I'm a huge fan of her books in general.

This one is special, I think. At least it felt that way to me. I'm not a big fan of menage romance but like many of the other tropes and elements in romance I don't particularly like, when they are exceptionally well done and read convincing and engaging to me, I do enjoy them a great deal.

The focus of the story falls on the heroine, Clare, and her exploration of her sexuality and her relationships but things gradually shift and the more we see of Mica and Vaughn (friends and roommates and in a way, the male love interest in the story), the more romance becomes about all of them, their sexuality and identity, the way they see themselves, their love lives, fears, hopes and dreams.

There is also a strong emphasis on the mixed race of the characters from the very beginning and I very much like the way Ms McKenna explored their identity and how it affected them and the relationships they build with the people they meet in their lives. They all follow their own paths and when the three of them cross, it's the time to be honest with oneself, to be open and to push boundaries and taboos.

One of the things I liked the most in this story is how refreshingly unpredictable the romance felt to me. I knew there will some kind of HEA/HFN at the end but there were so many moments in the story where I really couldn't imagine how it will all play out in the end. I considered a number of possible outcomes and they all seemed viable and fitting. It's not very common in romance and I absolutely loved it - the not-knowing, the guessing, the author making the reader reconsider their own assumptions and expectations.

I will not go into details about the plot in order to avoid spoilers. I want only to say how much I appreciate the way Ms McKenna presented the sexuality of her characters in this story - no shaming, no judgement, just young people following their desires. There were false expectations and self-doubt, guilt and shame but also shared dreams and ecstasy, openness and acceptance and so much hope for future happiness. 

In short I loved everything about this story. I'd say it's the perfect erotic romance for me - hot and sensual with a strong and intriguing plot and amazing characters who grow and change before your eyes. The reader sees how sex and feelings and taboos and personal boundaries are explored and how they mix together in this complex net that makes our lives and shapes so much of our identity.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo


17 Jun 2016

Friday Favourites # 20: Rose Lerner

This is my 20th Friday Favourites post and after a short break I'm happy to be back with the lovely Rose Lerner as my guest today. Check her favourites and read an excerpt from her latest release, a novella in the Gambled Away anthology of historical romance. She is also an ebook copy of the anthology to one lucky winner, all you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. Enjoy!





1. Favourite place

My couch, definitely. It's purple and fuzzy and the warmest spot in the house.

2. Favourite food and drink

No, I have so many! Potatoes, maybe? Especially latkes. And I would say 99% of the time I drink water, but I am also a big fan of strawberry lemonade or a Dark and Stormy.

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song

This changes every week, but right now, The Mountain Goats, "Cry for Judas." What a good song.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
Star Trek: the Original Series.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby

I don't consider writing books a hobby--it's definitely a job--and so is cooking, my next favorite thing to do after writing and what I do at my day job. So I'd have to say my favorite hobby is fiction of all kinds: movies, novels, TV. I just love stories. I love digging into a world and pulling it back over me like a blanket, especially if I have a friend or two to dig in with me. I love the emotional roller coaster ride and the jokes. Fiction is my jam. Nothing else will ever come close, whether I'm creating it or consuming it.

*** *** ***

Rose Lerner's latest release is All or Nothing, a novella in the historical anthology Gambled Away which came out earlier this month. Enjoy a sexy excerpt from the story next. 



Blurb



Get revenge. Pay a debt. Save a soul. Lose your heart.

Spanning centuries and continents, five brand-new novellas from beloved historical romance authors tell the stories of men and women who find themselves wagered in a game of chance and are forced to play for the highest stakes of all: love.

“Gideon and the Den of Thieves” by Joanna Bourne

London, 1793 – Soldier of fortune Gideon Gage has come home from halfway around the world, fully prepared to face down a ruthless gang to save his sister. But there’s one member of the gang he could never have been prepared for: fascinating Aimée, driven from her own home by the French Revolution and desperately in need of his help.

“Raising The Stakes” by Isabel Cooper

California, 1938 — When the flute she won in last night’s poker game unexpectedly summons an elven warrior bound to her service, two-bit con artist Sam takes quick advantage. With Talathan’s fairy powers at her command, her shakedown of a crooked preacher is a sure thing…but would she rather take a gamble on love?

“All or Nothing” by Rose Lerner

England, 1819 – Architect Simon Radcliffe-Gould needs someone to pose as his mistress so he can actually get some work done at a scandalous house party. Irrepressible gambling den hostess Maggie da Silva would rather be his mistress, but she’ll take what she can get…

“The Liar’s Dice” by Jeannie Lin

Tang Dynasty China, 849 A.D. — Lady Bai’s first taste of freedom brings her face to face with murder. A dangerous and enigmatic stranger becomes her closest ally as she investigates the crime, but can she trust her heart or her instincts when everyone is playing a game of liar’s dice?

“Redeemed” by Molly O’Keefe

Denver, 1868 — After agonizing years in the Civil War’s surgical tents, Union doctor James Madison has nothing left to lose. But when beautiful, tortured Helen Winters is the prize in a high-stakes game of poker, he goes all in to save her—and maybe his own soul.

Here's the anthology website: https://gambledaway.com/  
Purchase link: Amazon


EXCERPT


"Let's make this simple," Henney said. "You double your stake, you win. You lose your stake, you owe me twenty guineas. Seem fair?"

Simon nodded, fighting the impulse to stake all his fish on one card and have it over with. But he was as likely to lose that way as win, and he couldn't give up twenty pounds so quickly.

Of course, in faro you generally were as likely to lose as to win. That was why it was so damn popular—better odds than most games of chance. He'd watched Clement play for countless hours, when they were in school. It had felt peaceful when it wasn't his money at stake, cards and coins moving and changing hands, talk washing over him.

Now the cards were in his hands, and it was his money, and it didn't feel peaceful at all. He steeled himself and put six sad, gasping little fish on the figure card with a blue cross, which he remembered dimly indicated a bet on the ace, deuce, and three. One of Miss da Silva's trailing ringlets brushed his arm as she leaned over to inspect his bet.

She did not, it turned out, smell either like orange-flower water or violets. Tuberoses burst in his nostrils—heady, carnal, and narcotic. Cloying, even, in the way smells were in bed, arousing because they were too strong. He remembered, with great force, that the delicate white blossoms' scent was said to be most powerful at night. He shut his eyes and breathed in.

"I'll lay you a guinea Radcliffe-Gould's cock stands within five pulls," someone said quite audibly.

'Pull' meant a draw of two cards, one laid to Henney's right and the other to his left. If Simon's bet matched the first card, he lost his stake, and if it matched the second, he won.

But Simon immediately imagined Miss da Silva's hand round his cock.


Author Bio and Links: 

I discovered Georgette Heyer when I was thirteen, and wrote my first historical romance a few years later. My writing has improved since then, but my fascination with all things Regency hasn't changed. When not reading, writing, or researching, I enjoy cooking and marathoning old TV shows. I live in Seattle.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

15 Jun 2016

Review: Evening Storm by Anne Calhoun

Title: Evening Storm (Irresistible #4)
Author: Anne Calhoun
Date of publication: 18 Aug 2015
Genre: Contemporary erotic Romance

Author's links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 4 stars




Blurb

When it comes to the wolves of Wall Street, Ryan Hamilton is the leader of the pack. But his bravado is all bluff. The bank he works for is up to it’s assets in fraud and shady deals. And thanks to pressure from the NYPD and FBI, Ryan is working as both a trader and a whistleblower. His only respite from the tension is when he parades his latest arm candy at a fancy lingerie shop.

Simone Demarchelier owns Irresistible, crafting custom high-end lingerie. So she’s more than happy that Ryan is spending a fortune on his women. But she senses that behind the hotshot facade there is something more. Something tortured and sad. And when he flies her out to the Hamptons in the shadow of a summer thunderstorm in order to fix one of her designs, she instead finds herself stuck in the opulent home with a distraught Ryan.

Is Simone the one person who can mend Ryan’s heart and soul?

Review


I love Ms Calhoun's writing and the latest books in this series, The Muse (my review), is one of my favourite erotic romances of last year. I somehow ended up reading this series out of order but the separate novels are very loosely connected and they work well as standalone.

Evening Storm is book 4 and very briefly introduces the characters I already met in book 5 and it brings back characters from the previous book which I haven't read yet but this did not prevent me in any way from enjoying Ryan and Simone's romance.

The story is set in the world of luxury - the high-end lingerie designer Simone and the Wall Street shark Ryan come together in an unexpectedly intimate and tender way. It's an angsty story but at the same time a very sexy and intimate one.

The secrets they keep from each other really made things between them difficult. The attraction was there and it was most powerful, yet there was lack of trust and abundance of doubt and misgivings at the beginning. they really did meet at the worst possible time (for him, at least). But it was also the right time, in a way, because he desperately needed Simone's honesty and her down-to-earth, confident and independent attitude. His feelings for her kept him grounded and helped him when his own honesty and desire for justice wavered in the face of the difficulties he was faced with.

Their romance was nothing conventional - he kept bringing other women to her store to buy lingerie for them. he also kept telling her stories about his time with them but they were all meant for her, rather than being a realistic account of his sexual exploits. I found it a bit weird at the beginning but it turned out to be their way of forging connection and intimacy between them. And it was unique and beautiful.

The writing was, as usual, impeccable, very sensual and engaging. Ms Calhoun is a master at exploring the inner world of her characters, their desires and fears and their sexual attractions. A recommended read and series as a whole!

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks

9 Jun 2016

Review: Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

Title: Grin and Beard It (Winston Brothers #2)
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: 31 May 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Romance

Author's links: Website • TwitterFacebookGoodreads
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 4.5 Stars




Blurb

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna. 

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston. 

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often. 

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?


Review



I loved the first Winston Bothers book and had high hopes for this one too and I'm so glad my expectation were more than met in this story.

This romance where a Latina Hollywood star meets the Tennessee hillbilly and reformed criminal Jethro offers the delightful mix of fun and serious with some crazy sense of humour which readers have come to expect from Ms Reid's books.

This time Ms Reid ventures into new territories with the character of Sienna. She is one of Ms Reid's long list of strong, smart, sexy heroines, but she is also overweight (and loves her body) and Latina. It was an interesting mix and I really liked her complexity - independence and feminist sensibility interwoven with being close to her family and really caring about their opinion and well-being.

Jethro was a really interesting character. He is an odd ball like all the rest of the Winston brothers. His past paints him as the typical small-time criminal, biker, following his father's footsteps. But what the reader sees in the present is a man trying to make amends for his mistakes, trying to be a better man and not hurt anyone intentionally. The tortured aspect of his personality was convincingly done but it was also balanced with some humours situations (which are inescapable with the Winston family) and the angst and brooding never got overwhelming.

Sienna appeared much more light-hearted and easy going, a bit fickle and a lot of playful. I found her passion for the things she loved and cared about totally endearing and it made me really like her.

Their romance was not an easy one, there were some misunderstandings between them initially which I really found annoying and unnecessary. Both of them learned of the other's past/history from third sources and jumped to the wrong conclusions. This is definitely not my favourite device for building conflict and I wished it was not used in this otherwise cleverly developed story.

Still, this is a minor quibble and didn't prevent me from enjoying the story. This is a recommended read for fans of Ms Reid's writing and for anyone looking for a sexy and smart romantic comedy.


Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks |Smashwords


My review of Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers #1) - 4.5 Stars

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