Series: Dark Obsession

Never Sweeter by Charlotte Stein

Never Sweeter by Charlotte SteinNever Sweeter by Charlotte Stein
Series: Dark Obsession, #2
Published by Loveswept on April 19th 2016
Pages: 262
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three-half-stars

Letty Carmichael can’t believe her eyes when she catches a glimpse of her high school tormenter, wrestling champ Tate Sullivan, on campus. College was supposed to be her escape from Tate’s constant ridicule. Now he’s in her classes again, just waiting for his chance to make her life hell. But when Letty and Tate are partnered up for an assignment—on sex in cinema, of all things—she starts to see a kinder, gentler side of him. And when she realizes Tate knows more about sex than she could ever guess at, he soon starts making her blush in a whole new way.

Tate Sullivan is haunted by regret over his cruelty toward Letty. So when she agrees to work with him, he seizes his chance to make amends. He can’t blame her for not believing he’s for real, but soon Tate starts to break down her wall. She wants to know about passion, desire, lust—topics he is well versed in. And in return she offers the one thing he always wanted: the chance to be more than just a jock.

Letty is shocked by how sensitive Tate can be. Still, desiring him feels ludicrous. Loving him is impossible. Craving him is beyond all reason. So why can’t she stop?

‘Never Sweeter’ is my first plunge into Charlotte Stein’s writing and I knew from the first page that this was a very different New Adult read than what normally comes across my feed. The issues of NA books can and sometimes do resonate with me though not necessarily always, which are probably enough (sucker that I am) make me continue with this genre that I can get very conflicted about.

The typical idea that boys bully girls they like takes a more sinister turn here, and out of the very real damage of such an act, Stein builds a second-chance romance between a tormented, defensive girl who has since learned to use her wit and her former bully. Much of Tate’s and Letty’s interactions are made up of banter, words that grow deeper and more meaningful after being paired on a steamy project. And I found it…cute in fact, after a while, as Tate somehow managed to worm himself into both mine and Letty’s good graces eventually, even though the good boy bit he shows is just so incongruous with what Letty actually remembers.

Then the story went the way of erotica (almost) and I blinked, many times. Not that these scenes weren’t scorching though, because they were. But because they felt like a huge departure from the emotional build of the first half and straight to the down and dirty, which admittedly does work after the relationship groundwork has been done.

’Never Sweeter’ wasn’t a perfect read: the supposed, sudden change that Tate underwent between high school and college left me wondering what really happened, the cheesy, porny phrases when things started getting hot and heavy between them, the odd and nearly anticlimactic ending that made little sense and felt like conflict created for the sake of it. These dimmed my enthusiasm for the story a bit, even as Stein wrote parts I couldn’t straight out believe even, like Tate’s apparently range of sexual experience without having had sex, or that he’d do something (somewhat silly) in the last bit that felt like betrayal, or even the involvement of mobsters in the pot that sort of came and then flitted away. It was also difficult to differentiate Tate’s and Letty’s voices after a while because they talked and bantered with such similar styles and yes, the lack of dialogue tags annoyed me at times.

That said, I can well imagine how polarising ‘Never Sweeter’ can be. I’m a little torn between what I found unnecessary and how much I actually liked Tate/Letty’s story, but this is probably enough to put Stein on my author-watchlist.

three-half-stars

Want Me by Cynthia Eden

Want Me by Cynthia EdenWant Me by Cynthia Eden
Series: Dark Obsession #2
Published by Hocus Pocus Publishing on January 27th 2015
Pages: 140
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two-stars

She doesn’t play it safe...
Sophie Sarantos has a weakness for dangerous men. She doesn’t like safe lovers—she likes men with a wild, rough edge. But Sophie may have attracted a lover who is too dangerous, even for her. Someone is stalking Sophie, slipping into her home, watching her day and night. The stranger seems to know all of Sophie’s darkest secrets, secrets that should never be revealed.
Out of options, Sophie turns to ex-solider Lex Jensen for protection. Lex is part owner of VJS Protection, Inc., and Sophie hires him as her bodyguard. She thinks Lex is one of the “good guys” out there, but she couldn’t be more wrong.
He doesn’t play at all...
Lex has his own secrets. Dark, deadly secrets. And as his feelings for Sophie grow, Lex knows that he is going to have to stop pretending to be a gentleman and, instead, he’ll have to show Sophie who he really is. A man trained to kill. A man too used to evil. A man who will take any risk... as long as he can claim Sophie.
Because there is one thing that Lex wants in this world…one person he desires above all others... Sophie. And no one will hurt her, not on his watch.

Call me a masochist but I seem to keep coming back to Cynthia Eden’s Dark Obsession series even when the first book failed to convince me of the chemistry between the H/h. In Want Me, I found more of the same – a desirous hero who hankers after a woman who is scared, running and obstinate. Yet their passion feels…empty, like it was built only on lust and a tenuous connection because of abusive childhood histories, which made both Lex’s insistent proclamation of love (and Sophie’s reciprocal declaration at the end) not entirely believable.

two-stars