To celebrate the fact that this humble blog has been considered porn by one person’s work computers, it’s time to post a couple of quickie reviews of recent smutty reads. Let us never say that I don’t live down to people’s expectations.
His Roommate’s Pleasure by Lana McGregor:
It started with an accidental click…but where will it end?
Desperate to turn in a paper, Adam borrows his roommate’s computer and mistakenly opens a folder that contains Josh’s collection of porn. Adam had no idea that his jock roommate was gay—and into leashes, paddles and domination. And Adam, an inexperienced virgin who’s only ever kissed one guy, is surprised to find himself curious about submitting…
Josh can’t believe that his roommate discovered his spank bank—and he can’t believe that Adam is so turned on by the thought of giving up control to someone. Taking a chance, he offers to look through the photos with Adam…and maybe try acting some of them out.
Night after night, the boys delve into their darkest fantasies of domination and submission. And as lust and experimentation grow into the promise of something deeper, Adam must decide if he’s brave enough to tell Josh how he feels.
This was a pleasant story about two college age boys, one a jock, one a nerd, who find themselves experimenting with BDSM. It’s the kind of story that requires a bit of suspension of disbelief–you’d think that if Josh was so firmly entrenched in the closet he wouldn’t just leave his porn where anyone could access it quickly, but whatever–but I was able to go with it. Mostly this was because McGregor tells the story in Adam’s third person point of view, and I thought Adam was an engaging character with a fun and often funny voice. I liked the way the two boys communicated as they worked their way through negotiating their fledgling BDSM relationship. Josh wasn’t a super dom who could read Adam’s mind and knew exactly what he wanted. For that alone I give McGregor props.
The sex play is relatively mild. I thought the scenes were pleasant enough, although I wasn’t as engaged as I might have liked, because I noticed a few writing tics. (I feel like Adam “started to come” in almost every scene.) There was also a note of didacticism in the descriptions that at times made me feel I was being preached at.
Of course, it says something about how much terrible BDSM is out there that I’d rather have didactic BDSM where the characters communicate clearly than psychic doms who just know that their subs are really craving a bit of figging because they’re that smart. (Yes, I did read that scene. Yes, it was a couple of years ago. Yes, I am still bitter.)
My Grade: I can’t quite decide between a B- and a C+, but I’m feeling generous tonight so we’ll go with the B-.
Grace Under Fire by Jackie Barbosa:
Lady Grace Hannington is the most inaptly named debutante in all of London. Cursed with two left feet, hands that are nothing but thumbs, and a stutter, she’s certain to spend the next five years on the wall and the rest of her life on the shelf. Or so she believes, until her clumsiness pitches her literally into the arms of Lord Colin Fitzgerald and his best friend, Atticus Stilwell.
Colin and Atticus have been inseparable since a shared boyhood tragedy brought them together more than twenty years ago. Though it raises eyebrows, they share everything…including women. This particular quirk has made it all but impossible for Colin, whose title and lands will revert to the crown if he doesn’t have a legitimate heir, to find a respectable lady who’s willing to be his wife.
When a stroke of good fortune—and a little intervention from a well-placed foot—gives the two men a golden opportunity to show the lovely and lonely Lady Grace she’s not quite so gauche as she believes, they play it (and her) for all they’re worth. But once she’s discovered her true talents lie not on the dance floor but in the bedroom, Grace must decide whether a scandalous marriage that’s sure to ruin her reputation is what she really wants.
A couple of weeks ago, Jackie Barbosa’s son was killed in a car accident on his way to school. I can’t even begin to fathom that loss, although I can understand it somewhat, since someone close to my family was killed a couple of years ago in a car accident. The event left us shaken and devastated because it was so sudden. And that person wasn’t even remotely related to me.
In response, Courtney Milan invited people to talk about Jackie Barbosa’s books. It was a good reason to finally read one, even though I have followed Ms. Barbosa on Twitter for a while.
That was quite a lead-in to say that this is exactly the kind of fun and frothy escapist smut I wanted. I am a sucker for a plain Jane heroine, and a woman being courted by two men. There’s a white knight rescue fantasy thing going on, with the men saving Grace from a life of loneliness and being overlooked. Yet, I never felt that Grace was powerless. In fact, the major conflict hinges on her coming to embrace her sexuality, which, given that this is an erotic romance story, she does. The sex scenes were inventive and entertaining. There was even an HEA, which given the last Harlequin Spice Brief story I read was welcome indeed.
That all said, despite the fact that this is totally my catnip, the characters probably won’t stick with me. I wanted more of all of them, especially the motives of the two men for being together. Plus, M/M reader that I am, I was left wondering just how involved the boys were with each other, if you know what I mean. Also, every time a character commented on Grace’s tits and ass, I was thrown out of the story.
I’d definitely read Barbosa again. I’d love to see what she can do with a longer word count and more of a chance to flesh out her characters. As it is, this one also falls in the B range for me.