Review: Beautiful Beginning

It’s here. The last installment of Christina Lauren’s oh so sexy Beautiful series.

I didn’t think I’d be ready for this. While I was quite fond of Sara and Max and Hanna and Will, neither of those couples got to me like Bennett and Ryan. I mean, we got to spend time with them in Beautiful Bastard, Beautiful Bitch and Beautiful Bombshell, and now for the fourth and final time (sixth book in the series), the Bastard and the Bitch are getting married.

What a blushing bride!

What a blushing bride!

We’ve been down the road Chloe and Bennett have to reach this point, and finally, the erotic fairytale is coming to its beautiful ending. Although it wouldn’t be a Chloe and Bennett story if there wasn’t some sort of twist to it. Bennett wants to make sure that their wedding is perfect, so much that he has sworn celibacy from Chloe for the week leading up to the wedding to guarantee that they have room shaking wedding night se. Of course, Chloe isn’t happy about that. Add that to the stress of planning a wedding, and we have ourselves a Christina Lauren story.

I quite enjoyed this novella, solely because the intense physical attraction Bennett and Chloe have for each other – like it’s actually ridiculous how much they want to go down on each other at the most inpportune times – is still as high as ever, but on top of that, they have a love you can actually feel. While they may shag like rabbits, Bennett and Chloe also love each other, and if any point is to be taken away from this final novella, that would be it.

I felt as if Beautiful Beginning didn’t have a clear purpose other than to marry the two main characters from the series. To me, the storyline seemed to be a bit all over the place and at times I was wondering what on earth was happening, but really that point is moot because the ending we all wanted happened. Chloe became Chloe Ryan and Bennett became Bennett Mills.

Chloe is as feisty as ever, as she is the literary manifestation of a 21st century woman. Bennett is, well, Bennett Ryan. Sa-wooooooon. I can’t say anything more about these two characters than I have before. They are both great in their own right and while they may bonk each other more than I care to see, they are both strong characters and protagonists that readers can really get behind.

I love how the other two stories were also wrapped up in this novella. SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THIS SERIES AND PLAN TO. Sara and Max are expecting a baby – and are also still apparently bonking like rabbits – and Will proposed to Hanna at the most unexpected time. Kudos to both of those couples.

Style of writing: 7.4/10
Overall: 7.4/10

Christina Lauren wrapped up this series in a nice little bow, giving readers the happy ending they wanted. Now, it’s time for Bennett, Chloe, Max, Sara, Will and Hanna to step aside as Christina Lauren venture into other characters’ territories.

– by The Black Widow

Edit: Turns out I am wrong. This isn’t the final installment in the series. There is more sexy fun coming your way!

Review: Cartel

A book I picked up willy nilly in a cheap bookstore turned out to be one of the most confronting pieces of literature I have ever read.

I present to you: Cartel by Lili St. Germain, the first in a series of novels that isn’t for the faint-hearted. It is important that I note that this is first novel of St. Germain’s that I have read, and I have not delved into the Gypsy Brother series yet.

Cartel is a dark romance novel that follows a young 19-year-old Colombian girl Mariana Rodriguez who, despite having big plans for herself, is the daughter of a selfish drug lord. After her father loses an expensive shipment of cocaine, Mariana offers herself to his boss as payment for the lost drugs, and Mariana’s life changes dramatically. She expects the worst – forced prostitution, drug trafficking, even death – but what she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the wrong guy, Dornan Ross.

This dark cover reflects the contents of the book. Be warned

This dark cover reflects the contents of the book. Be warned

I like to consider myself as pretty open-minded; you can tell me any extraordinary or odd thing you have done, and I won’t bat an eyelid or judge you. This book, however, was really confronting and I found myself quite scared of the darkness contained in this book. I had even ,contemplated putting it down and not finishing it because of its contents, but alas, I finished it. St. Germain did her research into the world of drug dealing, drug lords and everything drug related, because this novel unfolded as if it was happening right in front of me.

The amount of sexual violence and just general physical violence in this novel made me cringe, not because of the detail in which it was described, but because I know that somewhere out there, this kind of thing is real, while I sit in my double bed in a modest suburban house in east Australia.

The character of Mariana was brave, strong-willed and fearless when it mattered most, but deep down she was afraid and true to her young age. It was because she was fabulously flawed that I really liked her. I liked how her internal, insecure thoughts juxtaposed her strong demeanour, and that in the face of death (literally), she wasn’t scared. While I acknowledge how the character of Dornan Ross could be book boyfriend worthy, the darkness and malice in him turned me off, as it should have. He has some inner demons that he needs to deal with and until he does so, the dark relationship between him and Mariana cannot have a happy ending, which is where this series is heading, I imagine.

St. Germain writes with such a gritty attention to detail that yes, I repeat, I was considering putting this book down. I read this book cover-to-cover in one day because I was so enthralled with the storyline and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next, how Mariana and Dornan’s relationship evolved, and whether or not she would survive until the end.

Style of writing: 7.4/10
Overall: 7.8/10

A compelling start to a promising book series, Cartel is a book that you should read, only if you have a strong stomach. I look forward to reading the rest of the series, along with other St. Germain novels.

– by The Black Widow

Review: Beautiful Player

I haven’t done a book review in a while. Let’s hope I haven’t forgotten how to do it…

Back to Widow’s Lure, the Beautiful series by dynamic duo known as Christina Lauren returns with the fifth installation, Beautiful Player. Much like Beautiful Stranger did for Chloe’s friend Sara, Player explores the life of Bennett’s friend Will Sumner and his best friend’s little sister, Hanna Bergstrom.

Will was the object of Hanna’s childhood fantasies while Will barely noticed Hanna or “Ziggy” when she was a barely legal teenager. Years later, Hanna is stuck too much into her work. After being urged to have more of a social life from her brother, Hanna enlists the help of her long lost friend Will to kickstart a social life and, in true Christina Lauren fashion, the two embark on a very unique and sexually-driven relationship.

As if these book covers aren't enough to get you.

As if these book covers aren’t enough to get you.

This book was very true to its authors. It was filled with sex, sex, sex, and more no-nonsense sex. The friendship agreement between Will and Hanna was very different, and that was what kept me entertained while reading this novel. I mean, like, I don’t generally take my strictly friends into a room at a party and give them pleasure with my hand, and then act as if nothing happened. To each their own, though, of course.

As is well documented in my book reviews, I tend to find romance novel heroines irritating, but I found Hanna to be quite real. I have no filter when it comes to the words that come out of my mouth, and Hanna evidently suffers from the same mental disability problem I have, so I related to her on a personal level, moreso than Chloe or Sara.

On the contrary, I wasn’t remotely attracted to the character of Will at all. I don’t know whether it was his personality, the way or he was written, or maybe I’m suffering from some book-boyfriend-no-no-syndrome, but I found him to be quite bland. I did like how he kept referring to Hanna as “Plum”, but that was about it. Sorry Will. Not everyone can be Bennett Ryan. Sa-wooooooon.

Christina Lauren stay true to their style of writing, keeping the pages of this novel full of detail when it comes to the sexcapades of the two protagonists, while making sure to inform the reader that this isn’t just another throwaway erotica piece with no detail to real life outside of raunchy bedroom romps. Their use of imagery is always on point and I could picture every intimate detail of what I was reading.

Style of writing: 7.8/10
Overall: 7.4/10

Another exceptional novel from Christina Lauren that doesn’t follow any kind of romance novel mould that is often found in literature these days. Their erotic scenes are almost unmatched and their novels and novellas will stand the test of time, in my sweet and humble opinion.

Stay tuned for my review on the final novel in the Beautiful series: Beautiful Beginning.

– by The Black Widow

Review: Dorothy Must Die

I must give a warning: if you have a lovely, positive picture of Dorothy from the land of Oz in your head, I suggest you look away now. And don’t read this book.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige takes a whole new approach on the land of Oz – one that isn’t seen in the likes of The Wizard of Oz or the broadway musical Wicked – and tells the tale of ordinary Kansas girl Amy Gumm who, after sitting idly in her trailer, is blown away to the land of Oz.

Sounds familiar, don’t it?

Romeo, Dorothy... same thing.

Romeo, Dorothy… same thing.

The land of Oz that we know it isn’t exactly the same; for starters, the good guys are the bad guys and the bad guys are kinda good but not entirely heroic. Confused? Well, for example, Dorothy isn’t a cute braided little girl with a modest gingham dress and a dough-eyed look anymore; she’s, well, an evil witch to be blunt. And a bit of a ganga, if her description suggests so.

The fact that Paige explores this part of the story – “the other side of Oz” I guess you could say – is the first thing that drew me to this story, and boy did it live up to my expectations. This was one of those “I can hardly put you down” books and I kept reading on and on into the night. I believe I finished this novel in about two or three days and when I finally put it down, declaring it finished, it was well into the morning. The twists and turns – and the “oh no you didn’t” moments – surely made for a delightful story.

This novel was easy to follow and the descriptions that Paige used painted a pretty clear picture in my head. I could easily imagine Glenda waving her wand around, a sickly up-turned smile on her face courtesy of “perm-a-smile”, and I could see the evil-turned-good flying monkeys as if I had seen one casually in the past few days.

Paige’s own take on the characters from Amy’s perspective were interesting to say the least, and it was rather exciting to see how Dorothy’s three companions – the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion – turned out. There were a few characters introduced into the story that I wasn’t previously aware of so I’d be lying if I said I were interested in them; I was more curious to see how the characters I knew as a child turned out.

A part of the storyline I thought was a bit how ya goin’ was that Amy, an ordinary girl from Kansas, was all of a sudden trained into being this warrior trained with magic and other swordfighting. I know she was “the chosen one” and all of that, I just find it a bit difficult to grasp that fact. A transformation that quick and that random? Hmmm.

Storyline: 8.2/10
Style of writing: 8/10
Overall: 8.1/10

This book wasn’t a let down from my expectations and I’m glad I “accidentally stumbled” into the book store and then “accidentally wandered around to look at a few books on the shelves”. I can’t wait to “accidentally buy the next installment of the series” to see what happens next in the land of Oz.

Amy vs. Dorothy. Round two. It’s on.

– by The Black Widow