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Michael Dunellen on Books

Book Reviews and Other Things

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Vampire Mistress
Joey W. Hill
Vampire Trinity
Joey W. Hill
The Submissive (The Submissive #1)
Tara Sue Me
Coming to Terms
Cara Bristol, Jade Cary, Alta Hensley, Celeste Jones, Sue Lyndon, Renee Rose, Anastasia Vitsky
Holding Back
Mila Kerr
Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)
Jamie McGuire
Epilogue: The Dark Duet (The Dark Duet, #2.5)
C.J. Roberts
In Flight (Up In The Air, #1)
R.K. Lilley
Undeniable (Undeniable, #1)
Madeline Sheehan
Entwined with You (Crossfire, #3)
Sylvia Day

Her Master's Kiss

Her Master's Kiss - Vivien Sparx "Not every master is the same; there are no hard and fast rules to the dominant and submissive relationship."That quote I totally agree with. The odd thing is that Stefan contradicted it throughout the entire rest of the book. He talked endlessly (and I do mean endlessly) about all the "Rules" like they were written down on stone tablets somewhere.Renee is upset when her boyfriend tells her she is a bad lover. She decides that becoming a slave is the way to win him back. Why? I never could figure that out.Stefan runs classified ads. We didn't actually see it but apparently it was something like "I can make you the perfect slave in 9 days or your money back. No posers." Which is quite a claim because he had never had a Master/Slave relationship of his own. He seemed to be something of an accomplished trainer... or at least that is what he tells us.My favorite moment was actually when Renee took control of her own destiny.I didn't realize when I started this but this actually seems to be the first of four books (so far) featuring the same characters.

Sweet Surrender (Sweet Series #1)

Sweet Surrender - Maya Banks I actually read these in the wrong order since I read Sweet Persuasion first - so I had a hint about the plot, but it didn't really hurt anything.Gray is a cop undercover searching for a killer. Faith is the Office Manager for a Security Firm and one of the targets of Gray's investigation.Only they share a secret. He wants someone to take care of (and not in a pretend sort of way) and she wants someone to take care of her.Here was my only problem... I never figured out just quite what she meant. She liked being spanked - or at least by Gray. She liked eating - once he came in the picture, Gray did all the cooking. And she liked sleeping - because she did it a lot (I noted that in the other book in the series as well).How much did she like sleeping? They went to bed together the first night - but only to cuddle. Then the next morning, he fixes her breakfast, they have sex, and then she goes back to bed. I really didn't add up all the hours but she had to be pretty well-rested.It was a Sweet story - but maybe a little too sweet.

The Domination of Diana (Inferno Connection, #2)

The Domination of Diana (Inferno Connection, #2) - M.J. Aleese This book and the previous work were supplied by the author in exchange for a review.First off, let me take a step back to the first book for a moment...Derek and Juliana didn’t spend a lot of time there but the Club played a huge part in the story. This wasn’t your typical Club - it was strictly Male-Dom. And not just any sort. It was a kind of degrading, humiliating form of BDSM that I found a bit too extreme for my taste. But Juliana was there voluntarily and she had the option to safeword out at any time. It wasn’t the kind of place I would ever be comfortable with but I was just going along for the ride.So now we got to the story of Troy and Diana.So here we find out that the Club is a really just a front. The real purpose was Human Trafficking. And in the end, no one did anything about it.I mean, it is great that Troy rescued Diana and Nicole. But he shouldn’t have had to. He should have called the Cops. If only we knew someone...Oh, that’s right. Derek’s a cop. Or at least he was. Since last we saw him, he has gone to work full-time as Head of Security for Creation Inferno. And Derek is even the witness to make sure that everyone who signs theirs rights away does so in a consensual manner.Only apparently it is a good thing that Derek isn’t a cop anymore because he doesn’t make a very good detective. Diana is kidnapped, locked in a box with a limited amount of tainted water, and starved. When they dragged her out of there, that plus the earlier conditioning Liam put her through meant she was going to do whatever they told her. And Derek was totally oblivious. Not to mention that as I have pointed out more than once, Slave Contracts are fine and dandy if they are your thing but they are not legally binding in any court anywhere. The talk of Government Officials protecting the club is an interesting idea - but doesn't really work for me in the era of new media.I have to say that I didn’t find Troy very much of a hero, either. In less than two weeks he goes from a normal guy to the same sort of Dom that Derek, Liam, etc. were. I didn’t find that comforting. Every time he referred to a woman as a “slut” I wanted to punch his lights out.My least favorite scene: The Planning between Troy and Juliana. The Verbal Protocol is fine at the right time and place. In that moment, they needed to be a little more focused on the mission and a whole lot less about who was committing what faux pas - they were in his office, for God’s sake.I am curious to see where the series goes. I assume we haven’t seen the last of the Carmichael Family. I certainly hope so because I want to see a few more beatings handed out.

Thank You, Master (Inferno Connection, #1)

Thank You, Master (Inferno Connection, #1) - M.J. Aleese Note: The author sent me this one for read in exchange for a review. I have the next book in the series as well.Most BDSM Novels are about Trust. This one is a little different. This one is about Control.Juliana is a very successful psychiatrist. She has made a lot of specific choices to live her life in a certain way. Derek offers her the chance to stop making choices. He wants to her to accept him as her Master and stop making decisions. The question is, can she do that? And if she can, should she?I have to admit that I found Derek’s attitude more than a bit annoying at times. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and decide it was something of an act. He really wanted to create a relationship with Juliana and decided this was the way to go about it. He was just lucky that she didn’t pick up the phone and ask to speak to his Lieutenant.Inferno was an interesting place as it was totally Male Dominated. Most of the time there is more of a balance between Male and Female - I am pretty sure most Domme would probably go find somewhere else to play based on the attitudes most of the guys were displaying. I have gone on record before saying I really don’t like Verbal Humiliation and there was a bit more than I was always comfortable with (actually way more than a bit more).We really only see the very beginning of their relationship - the first 5 days or so - so they have a lot to work out in the end. But if you are looking for a different spin on starting a relationship, this is one to consider.Oh, and one last thing: The advice she gave the patient at the beginning. If her partner had no regard for her feelings, it doesn’t matter if they are into BDSM or Competitive Parcheesi, that is not a functional relationship.

Take Me, Break Me (Pierced Hearts, #1)

Take Me, Break Me (Pierced Hearts, #1) - Cari Silverwood Jane and I teamed up on another review - you can read it over at Behind the Chintz Curtain. We don't rant nearly as much this time (but it does include some of Jane's famous artwork).But if you aren't ready to read our review yet, here is some background music to listen to while you read.

A Little Training

A Little Training - Abbie Adams Still kind of trying to decide about this one.Trace and his buddies run a human trafficking operation with a twist: he actually pays the women to participate. Now I know what you are going to say? It isn't really human trafficking. The girls signed a contract and it only last 4 years. And they can leave at any time. Yeah, but can they? No one ever mentions that - not one single solitary time. If there is no exit clause, that, to me, makes it a criminal enterprise.And I realize times are tough, but a lousy $50,000 for 4 years of your life. I don't think that is going to cover very much of med school let alone the therapy sessions these girls are going to be going through. Assuming they want to leave after spending that long in that sort of mental state. You really get the impression that this was not only new for the girls but also the first time around for the guys as well. I didn't find that especially comforting.I also didn't like "Some women use sex to manipulate men" or whatever the exact quote was. Gee, is someone going into this with a bit too much emotional baggage and feels he has to protect himself by being with a woman who is incapable of fighting back? Cowards make neither great Doms not great Daddies in my opinion.The Drug Injections and the Laser Treatments - interesting that those weren't important enough to mention in the contracts. I think the contracts will make for interesting evidence when this case comes to trial.I had to kind of laugh at the coffee addiction angle. Never experienced that myself, thankfully, but it was actually part of the plot of [b:Arrival|11045664|Arrival (Mind Warriors, #1)|Sharon Green|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1302316260s/11045664.jpg|6787708] - being forced into servitude was unpleasant but being forced into servitude without coffee was a deal-breaker. Here, Livvy isn't really given a choice.Oh, and one more thing: I don't hold self-published books to a high standard in terms of grammar and punctuation but this wasn't self-published. Blushing Books has been around long enough that this book should be a complete embarrassment for them. If this was copy edited, you sure could not tell.I am giving this a three for an interesting concept but if the story continues further (which it should because a lot was left unresolved at the end) I expect improvement next time.

A Table for Three (New York, #1)

A Table for Three  (New York, #1) - Lainey Reese In one sentence: So Riley is newly arrived in New York, she meets Cade, who after spending the night with her introduces her to Trevor, and they convince her to become their lover and submissive.But is it going to work out? That is the question, isn't it?"Rich and Dommish." That definitely applies to Cade and Trevor. If we hadn't learned that they were 34, I would have thought they were 16 because they never asked very mature the whole time. I am not saying that desperately wanting a menage relationship is immature because I have read plenty of other stories where it worked. But they kind of never got past me feeling like they they were two teenage boys who were ecstatic over their new toy.I don't compare every TPE novel to [b:Club Mephisto|9944698|Club Mephisto (Club Mephisto #1)|Annabel Joseph|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1292640626s/9944698.jpg|14838126]. Really. I know it seems like it sometimes but I don't. Honest. But I kind of have to this time. The way they wanted Riley to sit around naked in the Penthouse only focused on their physical needs, the way they didn't want her anywhere near the kitchen, and the way they were terrified if she set foot outside the penthouse without a keeper (and the way none of this was up for negotiation) was something that I hadn't quite seen before. Spoiler Note: I wish we had seen more of the time her parents were staying there. I have to think that cramped their style more than a wee bit.Oh, and Lots of Sex and Lots of Violence. Well, maybe not so much Violence although there was some, and Lots and Lots and Lots of Sex. I don't think anyone will have any complaints on that point.I didn't really find this to seem at all real but it was a fun fantasy.

Editorial Board

Editorial Board - Anastasia Vitsky This one was a little unusual. No, not that. It wasn't that our two main characters were both female.It was that it wasn't a romance at all. Strictly a business relationship.Very engaging writing style, though. I was sucked right in. I love first person but it can be very hit or miss. This one definitely hit.The only negative - the spankings could have used a little more detail. They ended up being a little more perfunctory than I expected.And like I often say at this point, I hope there is a sequel.

In Thrall: The Viking's Virgin Slave

In Thrall: The Viking's Virgin Slave - Madelene Martin As a little girl, Zahira was auctioned off and purchased for the Harem. Now don't freak out because it isn't that bad. She wasn't mistreated or anything. They just pick out girls that potentially may make good Concubines - or if they are extremely fortunate, wives. It wasn't that bad a childhood at all. But finally the big night has arrived and she is all wrapped up as a pretty package for her first presentation.Just as a band of bloodthirsty Vikings show up causing mayhem and chaos and happen upon someone they believe to be a wife that they can ransom back for an exorbitant fee. But when their Jarl finds out she isn't what he thought she was...Not a bad story. A bit short as it leaves a lot of unexplored territory - I am not sure if the author intends a sequel or not but there is certainly room for either that or an expanded tale.Just a tiny touch of BDSM - she is punished for being on the bed without permission (in a manner a lot more civilized than in [b:Safewords Davenport and Chiffon|15722578|Safewords Davenport and Chiffon (Safeword #5)|Candace Blevins|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1340671236s/15722578.jpg|21396748]).It actually kind of reminded me of [b:Eaters of the Dead|7673|Eaters of the Dead|Michael Crichton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347577471s/7673.jpg|997260] (perhaps better known as the 13th Warrior).

Disciplining the Duchess

Disciplining the Duchess - Annabel Joseph Some reviews I want to tempt people into reading the book without giving away crucial plot details and others I really want to discuss the book so I kind of have to. This is one of the latter.Regency spanking fiction from Annabel Joseph? I thoroughly enjoyed [b:Pleasing the Colonel|16102716|Pleasing the Colonel|Renee Rose|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1350934085s/16102716.jpg|21913571] a while back (and I have since become a Downton Abbey fan) so I was so there.What I didn’t expect to find was a book that made me think so much of [b:Club Mephisto|9944698|Club Mephisto (Club Mephisto #1)|Annabel Joseph|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1292640626s/9944698.jpg|14838126] only in how very opposite it was. Molly spent all her day reading books; for Harmony, that would have been a kind of dream existence. Only, unlike Clayton, Court couldn’t allow his wife to run and hide from the world (or lock her away in a gilded cage) - you can decide which one of those applies. She had to learn to be a Duchess and take her place in society whether she wanted to or not.In the end, I felt like this wasn’t really a regency novel. It was a story that required a regency setting to tell because it just wouldn’t have worked very well in the present but it worked perfectly by setting it in that time and place.I also really like both Harmony and Court all the way through. Every time she made a mistake she didn’t do it willfully. And every time he made one, and there were a couple of huge ones, he never meant to hurt their relationship the way he did. I also have to give her credit for pulling off one of the moments of Perfect Submission (see [b:The Warrior Challenged|517107|The Warrior Challenged|Sharon Green|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1207162248s/517107.jpg|505041]) to show him that was not what he really wanted.So a really interesting novel in a fun setting that thoroughly explores some solid BDSM themes in a thoughtful way.

Rush (The Breathless Trilogy #1)

Rush - Maya Banks So what did Jane and I think of Rush? You can read what I think below but to get the full effect I really recommend going over to Behind the Chintz Curtain to find out. Be forewarned, though, that neither of us was totally enamored.First off, let me say this. Maya Banks has been doing this for a while now. I don’t really think this is her version of Fifty Shades of Grey despite the fact that it did sort of feel that way. (Oh, and if you don’t want spoilers, don’t read this because this is a fully-fledged rant.) Having said that, she has accomplished something I wouldn’t have thought possible: created a male lead in Gabe Hamilton that makes Christian Grey and Gideon Cross (Bared to You) look like normal, well-adjusted, thoughtful young men.Gabe is in the hotel business. He and his partners, Jace and Ash, have been friends since college and seem to collectively be this generation’s Conrad Hilton. They are all thirty-eight and none of them have settled down – making all three eminently eligible bachelors. Well, actually, Gabe was married to Lisa for a while. And while we don’t find out much about it, it was some sort of power exchange relationship where he made all of the decisions. Until the day she decided to leave him and ran to a divorce attorney and the press painted their relationship as abusive. She got a hefty settlement when he didn’t fight her.Since then, Gabe has avoided romantic entanglements. Oh, he has relationships but they all have a contractual component. Every woman he sleeps with has to sign his combination Slave Contract Non-disclosure Agreement. After that, he and his chosen paramour get physical for a while but never more than six months before he moves on.So then he runs into Mia. Jace’s little sister. A twenty-four-year-old who seems to have gotten an MBA or at least a business degree but is waitressing at a pastry shop. Sweet little Mia who was raised from childhood by her big brother after their parents were killed. And it turns out he was wanted her for years. Long enough that he has now decided that a fourteen-year age difference doesn’t matter as much as it did when she was twenty or sixteen or whatever.So he goes to Jace and explains to him that he wants to use and abuse his baby sister for the next six months or so. Oh, wait, no, he doesn’t. That probably wouldn’t work out very well.So he goes to Mia and explains to her that he wants to use and abuse her for an unspecified period of time. Oh, and she really should have career goals so she can be his assistant so he can do the using and abusing right in his office. As long, of course, as she signs up to be his NDA’d sexual submissive. So at this point she files a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Oh, wait, no, she doesn’t. But she probably should have.So a bunch of stuff happens and then Gabe and Mia end up in a hotel room in Paris with three prospective business partners. In order to prove to himself that he doesn’t have feelings for his best friend’s little sister he binds and essentially tosses her to the wolves – after setting a few ground rules.There are roughly five kinds of men:1. The kind whose personal code would, for moral and religious reasons, make them want to leave.2. Those who prefer other guys to women.3. Guys who aren’t really Doms but aren’t going to pass up an interesting opportunity.4. Actual Doms who delight in the joy of a submissive woman.5. Abusers who won’t hesitate to hurt women to make themselves feel superior.The thing is, it is mighty hard to tell which is which just by looking at someone. The fact that Gabe assumed that these three potential investors were 3s and 4s was idiotic. I don’t even think scenarios 1 and 2 entered his head. But you don’t take a chance on having a 5 in the room. That was one of the most boneheaded moves I have ever seen.And I have to say that Mia was part of the problem. Being submissive is one thing. Letting someone walk on the fine line of being abusive (assuming you don’t think that Gabe crossed the line) is something else. Later on, Jace worries that her next boyfriend might actually be abusive as a result of her time with Gabe; if only the latter had given as much thought to what was going on.Honestly, my favorite moment was when Jace punched Gabe out. Because someone needed to. Of course, it didn’t actually knock any sense into him. That would have to come later.I did kind of like the ending but I am still thinking Gabe may need a couple of decades or so of therapy.I actually pre-ordered the next book, Rush, which will be featuring Jace. I am curious to see how he and Ash fare from an outsider perspective. Because even if they were kind of the guardian angels in this one, they probably won’t be in their own stories.

Withdrawing Consent

Withdrawing Consent - Holla Dean I am afraid this one is going to be kind of spoilerish because I am jumping up on my soapbox.First off, I thought it was actually pretty daring. Not to write a book about Domestic Discipline - not to be cynical, but those are pretty plentiful these days (not that there is anything wrong with that). No, the daring part is to write one where things go wrong. Too many of them are all "oh, my husband starting spanking me and it is the most wonderful thing in the world." I realize these are all Romances but I am finding a little too much repetition.So as you read in the description, Christine's book club decides to read a book on DD and all 10 members want to try it. And a month later, some of them find out it worked okay and some of them found it didn't work at all. How Refreshing. But it did work for Christine and Alex so they kept it going - with a clear set of rules and the opportunity to discuss things on a regular basis.And then Alex loses his way. To me, you can see it immediately when he gets so angry when Christine tells him she is considering withdrawing consent. Power corrupts, etc. I was proud of her for putting her foot down. And I am happy that they found a way to make it work in the future.So why did this only get a 3? Two reasons: The first week when she didn't do any housework - I know that was kind of necessary for the plot but it did seem a little silly. I thought she would be more enthusiastic at the beginning. And honestly, there is way too much exposition - we are told most of the story and actually experience very little.But still I very much liked the originality.

The Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of Tranquility - Katja Millay This is a review of this book as well as [b:In His Arms|9242139|In His Arms|Tina Donahue|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1283724979s/9242139.jpg|14122481]. If you read it, you should understand why.15-year-old girls should be safe. They should be able to step outside on a bright sunny day and have nothing to fear. They should be able to worry about nothing more than their upcoming music recital or maybe the attractive boy shooting baskets in his driveway. But that isn’t the world we live in.Instead they both die. Or at least essentially do.Two years have passed for Nastya. At first she didn’t remember what happened. Then she couldn’t speak of it. So she doesn’t speak of anything.Eleven year have passed for Summer. She does exactly what Anthony tells her to do. After all, she is his property. Nastya dresses like a whore for her sanity. Summer entertains men who meet Anthony’s price.Nastya wants revenge on her secret. Summer is protecting hers at all costs.Nastya runs. Summer does not dare.Each of them has a way out. But it won’t be easy to get there.

In His Arms

In His Arms - Tina Donahue This is a review of this book as well as [b:The Sea of Tranquility|16151178|The Sea of Tranquility|Katja Millay|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1352987353s/16151178.jpg|21547521]. If you read it, you should understand why.15-year-old girls should be safe. They should be able to step outside on a bright sunny day and have nothing to fear. They should be able to worry about nothing more than their upcoming music recital or maybe the attractive boy shooting baskets in his driveway. But that isn’t the world we live in.Instead they both die. Or at least essentially do.Two years have passed for Nastya. At first she didn’t remember what happened. Then she couldn’t speak of it. So she doesn’t speak of anything.Eleven year have passed for Summer. She does exactly what Anthony tells her to do. After all, she is his property. Nastya dresses like a whore for her sanity. Summer entertains men who meet Anthony’s price.Nastya wants revenge on her secret. Summer is protecting hers at all costs.Nastya runs. Summer does not dare.Each of them has a way out. But it won’t be easy to get there.

Closed In Chains (The Chains Trilogy, #1)

Closed In Chains - Sharon Green First off, The book synopsis is a bit melodramatic. Yes, Tain and Ennie had been enslaved. But they weren't really fretting about the “terrible danger of becoming one forever.” They also weren't really there on an “anthropological research trip.” They were supposed to be finding a way to bring Slavery to an end.Oliven - remarkably similar to the Counter-Earth, Gor. Apparently it is something of a Lost Earth Colony where things got a bit confused. Compounding the problem is the “Slave Drug,” the one that forces women to obey as soon as they drink it. It does give men certain advantages since they are immune.Anyway, getting back on point - so our Hero arrives. And Jake valiantly sacrifices his life to set Tain free. Oh, wait, no, that didn't happen. Actually he just buys her. And then whisks her away to his campsite.And at this point pretty much goes insane. You see, Jake has been interested in Tain since he joined the Department. But she has carefully avoided him and they have never been partnered up. So now they finally get a chance to work together on their assignment to end Slavery on Oliven. Oh, wait, no, that didn't happen. Actually he decides to take advantage of the drug to teach her a lesson about Slavery. Why he thought she needed to know I am not really sure. Why he thought there would be no repercussions from this I am not really sure, either. Later on, he uses the excuse of saving face in front on his native partner (which was essentially the same lame excuse that Vennias used in [b:Arrival|11045664|Arrival (Mind Warriors, #1)|Sharon Green|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1302316260s/11045664.jpg|6787708]) but Tandro isn't even there yet.Things finally reach the breaking point when he gets tired of her resisting him and uses the drug to brainwash her into being an amnesiac but totally obedient slave girl. Oh, and then to emphasize the point he was trying to make, makes sure she remembers everything that happened.The only good thing I have to say about Mr. Killen is he actually figures out that maybe forcing a woman you are attracted to into a non-consensual relationship where you are drugging her to respond and then raping her isn't the best idea. It might have been better if he figured it out sooner but at least he did figure it out.Eventually we get to the end of the book where things don’t go quite as planned.

In Chains Again (The Chains Trilogy, #3)

In Chains Again  (The Chains Trilogy, #3) - Sharon Green So we are now back on the Union homeworld - Earth or Central or whatever we are calling it this time around.Jake has a new partner - actually he has a partner now since he didn’t actually have one in the first two books. And they uncover a Dastardly scheme:These evil people have uncovered a Drug that when given to a defenseless woman forces her to obey her captor in all things. But only the most evil of men would want to do something like that, right, Jake? And Tain has a new partner and is working in a new Department - pretty much exactly like her old one - except that she has a new boss and is working with different people. And apparently never goes back to her apartment since Jake hasn’t been able to find her.BTW, No one ends up in Chains again. I guess they couldn’t think of a good title.All in all, not a bad little trilogy although I think it could have fit neatly into one longer novel. And very different from your typical Blushing Book spankfest.