Filthy Gods (American Gods, #0.5) by R. Scarlett

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ARC provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“The only thing I was afraid of was my own mortality in front of him. Gods fell in love with mortals and demolished them piece-by-piece.”

Filthy Gods has the atmosphere and feeling of The Secret History, but the romance and the sexiness of nothing else I’ve read before. Best new adult romance I’ve read all year. And my heart breaks that it’s only a novella, because I need so much more.

This is a story about a girl named Juliette, who has had to work so very hard at everything she has achieved in life. But despite not having anyone in her life besides herself, she has managed to attend Yale. And not only just attend Yale, but is one of the best pre-law students in all of her classes. Yet, there is one boy named Nathaniel, who she is rivals with, and who was born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Juliette and Nathaniel are constantly trying to one up each other, but when Juliette starts working at a country club that Nathaniel’s mother owns, the power dynamic feels very imbalanced. Especially when neither of them can stop thinking about each other, and especially because they are both going to be at the country club all summer.

“For three years, I’ve competed against Nathaniel Radcliffe. Always trying to be better, smarter, faster—anything more than him. And in a matter of seconds, all that had crumpled to soot around my sore knees.”

Together they decide that the only way that either of them is going to be able to function this summer is for them to finally get whatever it is out of their systems. And the romance in this is off the scale. Like, I truly believe these two fictional characters are soulmates! Between their banter, to them challenging each other, to their in-depth discussions about everything, to their phenomenal sex scenes, these two were a joy to read about. And you all know that enemies/rivals to lovers, will always be my favorite trope of all time.

“I wanted to pretend that my heart beating inside of me was from my hatred of him and him alone, but I knew as he kissed me, my heart had already begun to betray my mind.”

And let me clearly state that I completely understand that there is a huge power imbalance between these two main characters, but R. Scarlett does a wonderful job making sure and reassuring that everything is consensual and wanted. But there are a few trigger and content warnings for attempted rape, sexual assault, talk of death of a parent, death of a friend, physical abuse, abandonment, and talk of past child abuse. But all of these things are always challenged, and none are glorified or anything like that.

But this is a starting pre-novella to what will eventually be a three book series starring each of the four elite, rich, sexy, god-like men of Yale:
Nathaniel – Star of this novella. Super intelligent, super rich, and super powerful.
Arsen – Russian, with family that has all the connections.
James – Addicted to adrenaline and seems like he is going to be the ultimate “bad boy” type character.
Gabe – The most powerful and beloved of the four. Will probably be president of the United States one day.

“There was something untouchable, something holy and unholy about the boys. Sacred and sinful all at once. Bastards of Grace. Fame, wealth and power poured out of them. They were the things of legends and myths.”

Overall, I loved this completely and wholeheartedly. This was sexy, and romantic. This was so beautifully written and expertly crafted. This was nothing short of a treat to read. I cannot wait to see what R. Scarlett does next with this world. But if you guys are looking for the perfect little romance story, I can’t recommend this enough! Do yourselves a favor and don’t miss out on this. And Rich Boys Don’t Have Hearts is now one of my most anticipated releases, and I can’t wait to read Gabe’s story.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

The Professional (The Game Maker #1) by Kresley Cole

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“A trusted right-hand man and a treasured daughter?”

I’m not going write up a big, long review for this, but I still want to put some of my thoughts down for you all. But mostly I just want to say: this book was exactly what I needed! It was so hot, so steamy, so sexy, and it was 100% what I was in the mood for.

“Hanging out in a sensual sauna, naked, with an off-limits enforcer who happened to make my mouth water: what could possibly go wrong?”

Like, exactly what I needed. The Professional stars a girl who at the very start is questioning her parentage, because she was adopted. And she soon finds out that she is the daughter of a very powerful man in Russia who is involved with the mafia/mafiya. And she also finds out that he has sent his right-hand man to be a bodyguard to look after her for a while now, without her knowing.

The girl and her bodyguard rush off to Russia after her life has been compromised, and she gets to finally meet her biological father, while also getting to know the man that has been keeping an eye on her. And, like… lots of sexy times ensues. A whole lot of sexy times.

But let me emphasize, the male protagonist is very much the epitome of what adult romance considers an “alpha male”. And this girl is forced to leave the life she has always known and is put into a foreign country and a foreign home and has to adapt. I could write an entire review on the power imbalance between these two love interests. So, please never think I’m ignoring this. I just rate erotic books differently than other books! I know many of the relationships are toxic and problematic and I completely understand that they wouldn’t be the healthiest and/or most ideal of starts for people in real life, but I love steamy reads and I rate them purely off my enjoyment. But I’m never making excuses for any of the content in this book.

Content Warnings: loss of a loved one, death, murder, torture, abandonment, talk of past child abuse, possessiveness, stalking, kidnapping, talk of war, and the most alpha man in all of literature.

Overall, I really needed a book like this after all the romance novels I was reading that weren’t scratching a particular itch I was fiending to read. This book also heavily talks about BDSM lifestyles, needs, wants, clubs, aftercare, everything really, and I loved it. Do I think this book is for everyone? Hell no. Was this book exactly what I needed? Oh my gosh, Yes! And I won’t stop thinking about it anytime soon, I promise. This was an amazing erotic read, and I’m forever thankful for Paloma, her friendship, and her perfect recommendation.

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Professed by Nicola Rendell

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“Dulce pomum quum abest custos. Forbidden fruit is sweetest.”

So, I read this book broken up into three parts for three days. Day one: five stars, I loved it. Day two; three stars, I still enjoyed it. Day three: one star, it was super annoying and read so very fake. Like, this book made me feel a whirlwind of emotions, but I just wish the feelings from day one stayed throughout.

Professed starts out with a secret sex club at Yale University (I promise, no Rory Gilmore jokes.) This book switches points of view between Naomi, a junior at Yale, and Ben, the newest Master at Yale. But hidden behind masks, and entering an underground sex party, ben and Naomi meet and soon realize they want nothing more than to leave this party together.

And leave the party they do. And guys, the first couple sex scenes in this book? They are super hot. Like, I loved them a lot. And when we find out that Ben is the newest professor to teach at Yale, it only amplifies the forbiddenness to make it feel more enticing. I only wish the rest of the book would have kept up. But very quickly this turns into an angst filled, unbelievable, love story about why these two people can’t be together.

“That happens twice a week, three beautiful hours of my life every week, I sit there and listen to the man I am hopelessly, helplessly, stupidly in love with.”

The worst part of the story? The completely unbelievable dean at Yale that had nothing more important to worry about than these two hooking up. Like, I could not. Between him barging into Ben’s home, to him waiting outside just waiting for one of them to step a toe out of line, I just couldn’t handle it. It felt like something out of a cartoon!

And once Ben and Naomi start to be forced to go off campus, and have these romantic rendezvous, I just lost interest. I much preferred the hot, meet up, animalistic urges over the unbelievable angst and love. And once I found out why there was a sharpie on the cover of this book? Lord, help me. Some Sharpies contain xylene, which can be super harmful to your body, especially if it gets into your blood stream. Let’s… not romanticize this, thanks.

But basically, this just got too convoluted for me to enjoy. And I know half of you are probably like, “Melanie, it’s a new adult sexy time book, what were you expecting?” But I promise, the first few chapters were so addicting, it just set the bar way too high. Overall, this ended up just being a big letdown, because the start was so damn strong! But if you’re looking for a quick, sexy, angsty read, this will probably do the trick. Just, don’t let the start skyrocket your expectations like I did.

Content Warnings: student and teacher relationship, medication abuse, underage drinking, detailing of a very bad boating accident (and medical treatment) in the past, abuse, and grey area consent.

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This is the April pick for the Book Hangover Book Club that Julie and Chelsea host! ❤

❤ And you can get this ebook for FREE on Amazon US currently!

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

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“Whatever the birthday girl wants”

Friends, I really wanted to love this, and I still enjoyed it! Penelope Douglas is the queen of writing enemies to lovers. I am obsessed with Corrupt, Bully, and Punk 57! So, when I heard she was releasing a new taboo standalone, I knew I couldn’t resist one-click buying! But… dare I say? This book wasn’t taboo enough for me. It read just like a normal romance, where the characters have a big age difference.

Jordan is a nineteen-year-old girl who comes from a very abusive home. Her mother left her, her father remarried a not so great person, and they live in a very bad neighborhood. She is also dealing with the loss of one of her best friends, but her and her other best friend decided to move out together and start a relationship. Jordan is going to college, working at a local bar, and she is pretty much the only responsible one in her relationship, because her boyfriend, Cole, just got them kicked out of their home.

But the night before that happens, Cole doesn’t pick Jordan up from work late night like he’s supposed to. So, she decided to catch a late movie screening of an old 80’s horror movie, and she bumps into a guy who finally makes one of her days feel good. Oh, and it’s her birthday. After a great time connecting with this guy, they soon part ways because she has a boyfriend she is committed to. But they soon realize he is committed to her boyfriend as well, because it is his son. *dun dun dun*

And since Cole just got them kicked out of their residence, the only solution is to obviously move in with his dad, who she just accidently shared an amazing movie night with! You all, the Lord is testing me! But for real, this actually has a really good romance that I was completely invested in.

I mean, yeah, this is a story about a girl falling for the dad of her boyfriend, but it never really feels angsty. Her boyfriend is a disgusting jerk for 99% of this book. He not only lies to her, disrespects her, and hangs out with her abusive ex that puts her in uncomfortable situations, but he’s also never there for her. And in turn, this book never feels like an angsty love triangle where a dad and son are fighting for the same girl; you root for the dad 100% of the time. And even though the angst is for sure there, this is such a damn slow burn romance.

“Turns out my dream girl belongs to the one person it would kill me to hurt.”

And let me put a big emphasis on the fact that Jordan is only nineteen-years-old and Cole’s father, Pike, is thirty-eight. On top of the fact they are both now living in his house rent free. Plus, Jordan has a really shitty home life and feels like she has nowhere to go. I could write an entire review on the power imbalance between these two love interests. So, please never think I’m ignoring this. I just rate erotic books differently than other books! I know many of the relationships are toxic and problematic and I completely understand that they wouldn’t be the healthiest and/or most ideal of starts for people in real life, but I love steamy reads and I rate them purely off my enjoyment. But I’m never making excuses for any of the content in this book.

Content Warnings: abandonment, talk of physical abuse, underage drinking, death of a friend, and cheating.

I will say that Jordan is a very strong character and does have a lot of agency. She never read like a young adult and she never felt childish. The best part of this romance is that she always stuck up for herself to Pike. And she honestly always put her self and self-worth first.

“I should thank you, actually. I’ve been trying for years, it seems, to be the kind of woman I admire, and all of a sudden I feel like I am that woman now. I know I’m worth it. You’re just not.”

I also really loved Jordan’s sister in this. I am a big sucker for sibling relationships and Cam and Jordan’s unconditional love was a treat to read. Cam never felt shame for her work, and always let people know that she wasn’t doing anything she didn’t want to do. I don’t know, I just really liked her character. I also loved that Cam was a single mom, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Penelope Douglas gives us a book about her in the future.

But as I said above, this is an erotic romance, so I suppose I should talk about the sex in this book. I, personally, always love Penelope Douglas’s writing and her sex scenes always feels like a gift from above. Consent was something that was always stressed in this book too, so I really enjoyed that considering the not “normal” relationship. There is also a scene in this with mud that hit kind of close to home for me, so I really liked that. I just really loved the chemistry between these two characters, and I may complain that this wasn’t taboo enough for me, but the sex was really damn well done.

Okay, on to the biggest thing I didn’t like, which is something that’s just personal to me: this book really stresses having kids before you’re “too old” and I really hated every time it was emphasized. Since Pike is 38, he is very sensitive about having more kids, because he’s always wanted more, but like, it’s 2018, more and more people are starting to have kids in their 30s. I know that I will not be having kids in my 20s, so maybe that’s why it rubbed me the wrong way. But I still had hope that this wouldn’t turn into a “everyone should get married young and have kids in their twenties” type story. And I honestly probably would have given this book four stars if the epilogue was not included in this book. Again, maybe this is just me, but I almost felt shamed for choose to live my life for me in my twenties, and like, I’m not about to have an erotic romance novel make me feel bad about myself or my body that will be completely capable to bear children in my 30s.

Also, I will say that I really disliked how this book kind of makes it seem like joining the military fixes your problems. Like, I obviously support our troops, and my dad is a retired marine, but I hate when books portray “bad boys” who are sex obsessed, womanizing, partiers and then instantly fixes all their issues by joining a branch of the military. I know a lot of bad dudes that have joined the military and came back to my home town, and guess what? They are still bad dudes, just with worse haircuts.

And, in turn, I kind of didn’t like how this book displayed people who work at strip clubs. I mean, it wasn’t anything blatantly offensive, but it for sure hinted at, “you can do better than showing dudes your body” and it was annoying. Again, let me scream from the rooftops: It is 2018, please stop shaming sex workers. Okay, thanks, bye.

But overall, I still really enjoyed this one. I read it in two sittings and couldn’t put it down. Penelope Douglas is a super talented author, and even though I think I like her hate to love romances a little more than her standard romances, I still completely devour her books. Her writing is phenomenal, her characters are also so captivating, and she always comes up with unique elements that make me want to read everything she writes!

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Buddy read with Paloma, Kayla, Julie, & Amy! ❤