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Romance / Erotica

  • Clinch (Low Blow Book 1)

    by Charity Parkerson

    Rating: 7.75

    Parkerson’s sweetly seductive erotic take on love between two broken men follows Gunnar, a world-weary boxer, and Liam.  While the relationship development between the pair is heartwarming and delightful, the sex scenes are used with the force of a bludgeon rather than the subtlety exercised elsewhere. The charming interactions between the main and secondary characters almost balance out the raw sexuality in this well-written romance.

  • The Suitable Inheritor

    by Pushpendra Mehta

    Rating: 7.50

    This transfixing tale of relationship coach Michael Elliott trying to find his true destiny is saved from reading like a self-help book by engaging storytelling and well-rounded characters. The storyline is advanced by Michael’s internal battles and meditative philosophical discussions in an unhurried manner, as a romantic conundrum maintains suspenseful tension. The varied settings, meaningful emotional explorations, and the author’s knowledge of the subject matter makes this atypical romance a fresh addition to the genre.

  • Totally Frobisher

    by D. L. Wells

    Rating: 7.25

    A light romance/mystery of self-discovery, art world intrigue, and surprising personal connections entertains beyond its role as a tie-in to a parenting app. The whirlwind artist/art major romance in Paris is stylized, but offers real warmth and charisma. Interactions with family and colleagues are less emotionally believable, but move the mystery satisfyingly along to a tidy conclusion. The child who serves as a plot device for both the main story and the out-of-place healthy eating side plot is underexplored as an actual character.

  • Avalon

    by GINA DETWILER

    Rating: 6.75

    This character driven contemporary romance about 40-something widow Mariah revisiting one blissful summer from her youth has one major flaw: it stretches credulity. There is a solid sense of place as she returns to Avalon with one foot in the present and one foot in the past via deftly handled flashbacks. Other than the fact that it’s implausible that teenage Mariah would intentionally befriend her competition in an attempt to win the heart of a lifeguard named Jack, the story is well told, grounded both in plot and place.

  • Song of the Blackbird

    by DB Michaels

    Rating: 6.50

    A young white doctor experiences violence first hand at the prison job she takes to secretly be near her incarcerated black half-brother, but discovers private kindness behind the warden's brutish exterior. This dark, often cinematic novel has emotional bite as well as an almost playful, gently jealous romance. Unfortunately, the push for a happy ending in the midst of the protagonist's grief feels both unrealistic and dismissive of the book's earlier events. Character backgrounds are complex, but demonstrations of the dichotomy between compassion and realism can feel overwrought.

  • Fighting for Control (Against the Cage)

    by Melynda Price

    Rating: 6.50

    The story of the ethically dubious, passionate relationship between ex-military MMA fighter Nikko Del Toro, who is prone to PTSD-induced rage blackouts, and his therapist, Violet Summers, who happens to have had a brief romantic encounter with Nikko, is psychologically rich and explores the theme of redemption through honesty. The author is adept at depicting Nikko's emotions and jealous intensity without implying Violet is ever in danger, though the story lags in spots, and the female characters could use more depth.

  • The Vision: Green Stone of HealingĀ® Book One

    by C.L. Talmadge

    Rating: 6.25

    In this court-intrigue-meets-military-SF mythical mash-up, medical officer Helen Andros has her world turned upside-down when the identity of her father, a Toltec (the ruling race in her nation), is revealed. Readers expecting their romance novels to have a HEA will be sorely disappointed in this series starter; those drawn to detailed explorations of court politics may be dismayed by the violence present against women. This tale is likely of more interest to Game of Thrones fans than for traditional romance readers.

  • Lover in the Nobody

    by Jonathan Harnisch

    Rating: 6.25

    In this surreal story of sadomasochistic erotica, mentally ill Georgie Gust seeks "the never-ending orgasm," becoming obsessed with Claudia, "his personal trainer in pain." Some readers will need to summon patience to cope with the book's confusing beginning, its challenging narrators, and abrupt scene changes. But the author's difficult the approach ultimately pays off, enacting the confusion and turmoil of Georgie’s mind. Believably flawed characters advance the plot compellingly, though the author would do well to work on the book's prose.

  • Searching for True North

    by Denise McDonald

    Rating: 6.25

    In this love letter to California, journalist Alex searches for direction in her career and love life over a three-month out-of-office assignment. There are romantic elements here in two potential relationships that never fully materialize, but the story centers around Alex's continual waffling over her future and efforts to find peace. Sections of repeated ideas and almost verbatim conversations undermine the soul-searching of an independent woman.

  • A Matter of Time (Magic of Love Book 2)

    by Margaret Locke

    Rating: 6.00

    Literary magic takes widowed Jane Austen fan Eliza James to Regency England for a chance to win the heart of the likewise-bereaved Deveric Mattersley, Duke of Claremont, in this charming time-travel romance.  Despite the unlikely premise, the unforced unfolding of this magically-created romance is refreshing.  Though Eliza is more prone to anachronisms than one would expect from an Austen fan and there are some errors in historical detail, the author has effectively captured the emotional essence of a historical romance and created an engaging love story that will leave readers eager for more of the series.

  • Click

    by Tima Smith

    Rating: 5.75

    In this novel and surprisingly romantic second-chance-at-love story between 43-year-old Lily and Christopher, the 59-year-old love of her life, both characters become better, more confident people as a result of their relationship. Unfortunately, the author does a better job at characterization than she does at storytelling. Some unclear and/or clunky transitions in time  disrupt the narrative flow. A bigger problem—strongly foreshadowed by the hero becoming narrator—and a likely turn-off to readers, is the untraditional, uneasy and overly long separation between the couple that occurs in the final third.

  • Highlander's Portrait

    by C.A. Szarek

    Rating: 4.75

    Szarek's dialect-filled ode to writer's inspiration brings Texan author Ashlyn George on a magic fueled, time traveling trip to experience 18th century Scotland with Laird Eoin MacLeod[4], a hero just like those she writes about in her romance novels. Though the magical underpinnings of the plot have been well worked out, Ashlyn doesn't experience enough disorientation to make her time warp believable. Also, the path to relationship success is too obvious to provide emotional tension, while supporting characters are sketched too thinly to build a rich world of the past for the reader.

  • Gwynneth Ever After

    by Linda Poitevin

    Rating: 4.50

    This fairy tale romance evokes both laughter and tears, focusing on the trials and tribulations of a single mother – with some serious trust issues – and what happens when she encounters the persistent man of her dreams.  The interplay of secrets that underscores the romantic relationship gives the story a bit of a kick, but the narrative is ultimately lacking in the solid hook necessary to take it from ordinary to fantastic. In the end, this is a very solid book with the potential to provide a dose of heartfelt humor and delight.

  • Unforgettable You

    by Heatherly Bell

    Rating: 4.00

    In this cliché small-town contemporary romance, two protagonists who see themselves as unworthy almost let true love pass them by. He feels guilty over a war buddy’s suicide; she cannot see herself as desirable because he stood her up 12 years earlier (when she was 16).  Their repetitively negative self-talk gets old fast, and the townsfolk are both quirky and meddlesome, an overly-cute combination. The main characters need further development for this book to be a truly satisfying read.

  • Living Colorful Beauty

    by Jonathan Harnisch

    Rating: 3.00

    In Harnisch’s depiction of mentally-ill sexual abuse victim, Ben Schreiber undergoes psychiatric sessions while rambling through memories of real and imagined sexual exploits. The absence of a discernible plot and the difficulty in sorting fantasy from reality make the novel a frustrating read. Additionally, the character's are not well developed, and even Ben’s fetishistic interests fail to positively engage the erotic imagination.

  • Echo from Mount Royal

    by Dave Riese

    Rating: 3.00

    Riese’s historical romance set in the 1950s falls curiously flat, despite an intriguing premise and historical accuracy. While the author's focus on Becca gives the reader extremely intimate knowledge of her thoughts and feelings, the other characters, such as Sol, her love interest, are underdeveloped and incomplete. And although the novel address issues of religion and class as they relate to love, these themes are underutilized and not fully explored.

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