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Demolished by Cathryn Fox

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Erotica/ Netgalley/ New Adult/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 21st August 2017
Demolished by Cathryn FoxDemolished by Cathryn Fox
Series: Blue Bay Crew #1
Published by Swerve on August 29th 2017
Pages: 250
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one-star

Summer Wheeler is on the run. Hiding from the men who killed her father, Summer is on her way to her childhood cottage in Blue Bay when she runs into Sean Owens, the forbidden bad boy from her past. After giving him a fake name, she gives in to one steamy night with him, never expecting to see him again.

Sean isn’t sure why Summer is pretending to be someone she’s not, but he’ll play her game if that means he can indulge in one of his oldest fantasies – a night with Summer. He’s shocked to see her when he returns to Blue Bay, and even more surprised when Summer offers him a job renovating her old family cottage. Hot workdays turn into hotter nights, but when Summer’s secret catches up with her, she’ll have to decide if she can trust Sean with her heart—and her life.

This is a rather tough one to write. I requested for the book because I do like romantic suspense and it did appear as though Cathryn Fox was starting a series with just that….so I was sold.

But it was disappointing to find ‘Demolished’ more sex than plot, and that’s something that I think you’ve got to have your eyes open to before you get into any of Fox’s stories. Her characters live and breathe sex, with every seemingly innocent action capable of stirring arousal and making each other sex-crazed at any given time of the day, no matter how inappropriate it can get. There’s always heat and passion and many times the characters can’t help themselves (especially the men who are never the one-woman sort until the heroine comes along), and that typically takes priority over any suspense or mystery that Fox does try to write into the story.

Sean and Summer go straight into a one night stand after a quick meeting at a bar, and banking on the idea that she has been away a long time, tries to slip into someone else’s identity just as she tries to investigate what exactly went wrong with her father. This was the bit I couldn’t get over; it seemed astoundingly stupid though and unbelievable hat she was able to continue pretending she was someone else when it was clear this delusion was pretty much in her own head, especially after Sean recognised her early on yet went on with that ridiculous charade. This pretence continued for a long time, as did the sleeping together, and Summer pretty much ended up with egg on her face when the game was up.

In short, I did come into the story knowing this, yet I found myself getting tired of reading about Sean/Summer getting it on on every available surface. I did want to know what sort of mystery Summer would uncover, which was only revealed towards the very abrupt end. Unfortunately, I lost interest past the halfway mark and I skimmed the rest just to find out what happened to Summer’s father and the clues he left her. ‘Demolished’ was more of a miss for me and if the rest of the books are going to be written in a similar vein, I’ll probably not continue this series at all.

one-star

Bonding Games by Cathryn Fox

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Erotica/ Netgalley/ Reviews 8th July 2017
Bonding Games by Cathryn FoxBonding Games by Cathryn Fox
Series: Tropical Temptation #1
Published by Entangled Publishing: Brazen on July 24th 2017
Pages: 210
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three-stars

Former Navy SEAL Josh Steele gets tasked with a babysitting mission—watch over his boss’s daughter—a job he can only describe as hell. But when his assignment takes him to a tropical island, and he begins to see another side of Holly Fairfax, attraction sizzles between them—but he knows better than to risk his job for it.

Holly can’t believe that underneath those baggy clothes tech-guru Josh Steele is all ripped abs and sexy hotness. Ignoring said hotness is tough, especially since she has to work with him on the team-building exercises her boss has assigned if she wants a coveted promotion. It’s even harder when she discovers being around Josh brings out her naughty side – one she didn’t know she had.

But if she cracks the code on his cover, everything they’ve built could come crashing down.

‘Bonding Games’ started out great as a former SEAL goes undercover as a geek in a company in order to suss out an apparent threat to a woman who is trying her hardest to live a life away from her controlling father. But to Holly Fairfax, Josh Steele is merely a co-worker, or rather, a laid-back gamer-type until an elaborate company bonding session puts them in close proximity as partners.

The journey from there onwards however, is fairly predictable, which somehow didn’t quite live up to the potential of the promising blurb. Holly and Josh go from zero to a hundred in a matter of pages, and the overwhelming lust comes with every innocent touch and every fanciful imagining of what lies beneath each other’s clothes, despite the individual reminders to themselves that they want nothing more than a fling. They hit the bed early on as they go on every team-bonding activity and as expected, Holly hits the roof when Josh’s actual purpose for being in the company is inadvertently revealed.

Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out why it fell flat for me after the fun setup of their relationship. I’ve always loved the undercover business part, particularly when it involves some kind of double-crossing, though that always risks some TSTL behaviour when the deception is taken too far or when someone tends to overreact and forget their actual age. Maybe it’s because Holly/Josh’s story treads the same ground as so many others have gone before—not that I don’t enjoy authors’ different takes on them—, or maybe it’s all wrapped up too neatly after the hysterical blow up and the customary grovel, or that Holly/Josh didn’t feel too multifaceted in their portrayals despite their own prejudices. But overall this wasn’t too memorable and that ironically, defined this read for me.

three-stars

Learning Curves by Cathryn Fox

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Erotica/ Reviews 31st May 2016
Learning Curves by Cathryn FoxLearning Curves by Cathryn Fox
Published by Macmillan on May 30th 2016
Pages: 94
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two-stars

When he wins a sexy bet, billionaire Linc Blair can’t wait to get Lauren Neill naked. He’s never gone for her type in the past, and he’s pretty certain it has more to do with her buttoned-up hotness than the nagging sense that something is missing from his life. But when he gets a glimpse of the vulnerable woman beneath the conservative, yet oh-so-sexy clothes, it’s a game changer.
Lauren can’t believe she’s spending a few days with one of sexiest, and most annoying men she’s ever met. But she can’t deny the chemistry between them, and for once in her life she’s letting down her guard so she can explore a different side of herself. The side only Linc brings out in her.
Taking it slow, he unleashes her sexuality and it quickly occurs to him that what started out as a bet for him has become something more. With their weekend nearly over, and her ex showing interest in this new confident version of Lauren, Linc will have to risk it all if he wants to win the game of love.

I’ve always maintained that novellas are tricky business. Short, to the point, with very little manoeuvring space in the narrative other than to get to the heart of the matter with characters that should be more than half-formed caricatures or puppets dangling from the author’s fingertips. Which is why in 68 pages, ‘Learning Curves’ is surprising enough for me to (sort of) buy into this short, short tale that is pretty much a drawn-out transition from UST to RST while charting out a somewhat smooth path to a happily ever after.

The latter I believe much less than the former, but it doesn’t detract from the hedonistic pleasures the short story actually provides. But I wonder if this is about wish-fulfilment as much as it is about satisfying a quick, easy read (and straight onto the next book) as well. There is a reason why I try to avoid millionaire/billionaire stories like they carry the plague because of their lack of realism, made all the more difficult given their sudden proliferation on the shelves. Simply putting aside the ‘super-rich’ background somehow makes a pairing more real to me when the main characters are simply reduced to man and woman and the common denominator that’s mutual want, respect and well, lust, minus the trappings of social standing and whatever the heaping pile money can offer.

Thankfully, there’s some of that and not too much of it in ‘Learning Curves’, where the focus is more on the down and dirty. Plot, backstory and characters are pulled together in the boiling, screaming cauldron of a stadium during a game where undeniable attraction and chemistry simmer along with the sweaty play on the field. A bet is made and won, or lost, depending on whose side we’re on for a weekend of sex and off we go, straight into the long, drawn-out scenes where the mambo is done horizontally, vertically and in every other position in between.

Both Linc and Lauren slot easily into roles that the chick-lit genre has defined for both genders of this century: the rich womaniser (a character that has become commonplace and disposable, ironically) and the buttoned-up and not-too-experienced woman who somehow manages to screw up his entire worldview about women and relationships. I found myself liking Lauren more than Linc; her insecurities were more relatable than the disconnect and repulsion I always feel when it comes to a rich commitment-phobe playboy with some Neanderthal tendencies, but then, maybe that is really the point here.

That Linc and Lauren went from fling to affianced however, was when it all faltered for me personally. Entertaining as it was in the beginning, I thought a better fleshed-out male protagonist – that at least defied some of these awful clichéd stereotypical traits – and obstacles in the way to this all too easy ending would have made it a more believable read.

two-stars

Betting On The Wrong Brother by Cathryn Fox

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 14th January 2016
Betting On The Wrong Brother by Cathryn FoxBetting on the Wrong Brother by Cathryn Fox
Series: What Happens in Vegas, #12
Published by Entangled: Lovestruck on February 8th 2016
Pages: 149
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two-stars

This good girl is ready to be bad…
He may be at a romance readers’ convention, but a naked woman in the elevator is not what horror writer Ryan Wheeler expects. Now he can’t take his eyes off of her—and not just because he saw her naked, though her luscious curves certainly aren’t helping the matter. She’s beautiful, funny, snarky…and a complication he doesn’t need.
Running into her teen heartthrob while naked wasn’t exactly part of romance novelist Andi Palmer’s weekend plans. Worse, he doesn’t recognize her and gives her a fake name. Years ago, he shot her down in the worst possible way, and now this? It’s time for a little down-and-dirty revenge.
Ryan’s more than a little turned on by this good girl who wants to be bad. But things aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re keeping from one another might just end this sexy little rendezvous before it ever begins…

The only way to get a teenage bad boy crush out of your dreams and head is to return that humiliation – even if that’s many years later, after you’ve long grown up. Never mind that these have been intervening years where maturity is supposed to kick in, but apparently a rejection from a crush can and will roll it all back.

Yet it’s exactly what romance author Andi Palmer does when she sees Ryan Grayson at a romance author’s convention, whom she believes is Nolan Wheeler. Except that Ryan Grayson is actually Nolan’s brother, with the same screwed up, no-commitment way of thinking and behaving.

Confusing yet? It all sounds like a very roundabout way of meeting a a teenage crush, getting revenge by getting hot between the sheets. For that reason I just couldn’t quite get into the ridiculousness of the whole affair, especially since a hot night in bed is suddenly sufficient to convince a man whose ‘sex-only rules’ that marital bliss is actually in the cards for him.

This isn’t quite the book for me, unfortunately, seeing as I spent more time trying to believe the farcical storyline than rooting for Andi/Ryan’s HEA.

two-stars

Crashing Down by Cathryn Fox

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Erotica/ New Adult/ Reviews/ Young Adult 4th April 2015
Crashing Down by Cathryn FoxCrashing Down by Cathryn Fox
Series: Stone Cliff #1
Published by Cathryn Fox on June 18th 2014
Pages: 184
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two-stars

When reckless meets responsible... Straight A student Kathryn Lane is all work and no play. She's determined to keep her scholarship, and that means no distractions...until she takes a summer internship at Stone Cliff Resort and meets bad boy Noah Ryan. She knows she should keep her distance-after all he's not the kind of guy she can bring home to daddy-but his disarming smile and dangerous ways are entirely too tempting. College dropout, Noah Ryan takes one look at Kathryn and instantly knows her type-ambitious, driven and determined, just like he used to be, before the accident that derailed his life and left him an emotional wreck. He vows to avoid her, but when a co-worker backs him into a bet he can't refuse, everything he's been running from is challenged and he's forced to confront his demons. Soon, Kathryn and Noah are lost to everything except each other. As their lives become entwined, their passion is reckless, their heat all-consuming but when hurtful truths spill out, can Noah prove himself worthy of the one girl who can heal his wounded heart, or will the fire they ignited turn to ash when it all comes crashing down?

The book opens with meaningless sex simply to show that Noah and his friend Jared behaving like drunken frat boys at a resort they’re working at – as if I really needed to see the ‘hero’ of the story mindlessly ‘fucking’ another ‘useless’ girl to get rid of his demons? Conservative and prim student Kathryn Lane then comes into the picture, completing the second half of the clichéd Good girl-snag-Bad boy trope. Shy, bookish and a scholarship holder, she runs into Noah on her first day – and typically, the attraction sizzles.

Noah fishes her out of the water during an initiation dunking, and all of a sudden, she’s thinking of sex with him. In fact, I can’t seem to find any redeeming qualities about Noah; he’s crude, careless, gets off on whoring himself, acting without integrity, self-absorbed, essentially conforming to every stereotype of an antagonist. And those didn’t change very much in the course of the book. Kathryn on the other hand, simply needed coaxing out of her shell and Noah is suddenly and very conveniently, the one to do it.

And there goes the biggest problem I have with this book: that the relationships are only skin deep. I could not connect with them, as I can’t with many of the forgettable NA novels I’ve plodded through.

two-stars
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