I must confess, this book has been in my TBR pile FOREVER. I like Matthews, but I had no idea how in the living hell she was going to pull this one off. The H/h are divorced, but they get back together WHILE she’s pregnant by somebody else. Despite my misgivings, she manages to pull it off, with some caveats. Dean is a fabulous hero. I love Matthew’s blue-collar heroes and Dean typifies them. In a Romancelandia awash in billionaires Dean is just a regular guy who works in a factory, and I love him for that. Creigh is more problematic. The motives for some of her behavior is questionable. And that’s my main problem with the book, why on earth did she divorce this guy in the first place? Dean didn’t want the divorce. He’s still in love with Creigh and wants his wife and kids back. Creigh wanted to leave Dean, but we really never understand why. There are some vague reflections on neglect, but nothing really concrete. And I understand that, the biggies, adultery or battery are definite no-nos in a romance, but I wish I’d had a firmer foundation. Either way, it’s still a very good story. I enjoyed it tremendously. It would be an A book despite the ambiguity about the divorce, but Creigh does something else that is so incredibly baffling that the book loses an entire grade for me. So now it’s a solid B.
I know it seems like forever since I’ve posted, but this past holiday season was insane. Oddly enough I read quite a bit, but never seemed to have time to do reviews. I promise I’ll do better. I’ve been on a bit of a glom of late. There seems to be an insane number of Mafia books in the multicultural genre, and I’ve been checking them out. Billy London is one of the most popular and I can see why. Her books are at times laugh-out-loud funny. And the title “knight” is appropriate as these guys will literally kill for their lady-love. Let me start with a caveat, these books do contain a good bit of violence, they’re not exactly Goodfellas, or actually they are. They’re Goodfellas, if Goodfellas had been directed by Ben Stiller.
These books take place in London, and that’s somewhat nostalgic for me as I grew up reading categories from Harlequin and they were all based in London too. I haven’t read a contemporary in a London setting in probably a couple of decades and it was very heartwarming for me. Okay, on to the books.
Pay absolutely no attention to the title of this book. A friend lent it to me and it expired on my Kindle account because I assumed it had something to do with exhibitionism or voyeurism. Why it has this title I have no idea. It is one of my fave tropes, friends into lovers. And Ms. London handles that aspect of the story very well. Nick and Gina have been friends for ten years since meeting in college. They have been secretly in love with one another, but since Nick had a girlfriend when they first met Gina pretty much put him in the “friends” category. Though they’ve shared everything over the years, except of course, their mutual hots for one another and the fact that Nick is a mob boss. All this comes to a head when Gina finds herself indebted to a loan shark who decides to rough her up in order to shake his money loose. Nick takes the situation in hand and we’re off onto a crazy roller coaster of mob intrigue, family intrigue and some really steamy sex. I liked both characters and their relationship was believable and at times charming. The secondary characters were vivid and interesting and I loved the pacing of the story. There is a good bit of violence, but then this is a Mafia story. The only flaw I found is in the resolution of the situation with the villain. There’s a good deal of info-dumping I could’ve lived without. The villain’s scheme was so unbearably convoluted that I had to read it a couple of times to get it fixed in my head. But really that was the only serious flaw. I liked this book a lot, and enjoyed the re-read I did before I wrote this review. I’d say a good solid B.
This title makes a good bit more sense. Tony is Nick’s close friend and all-around enforcer/right hand man. He and Lydia meet at the hospital where she is a nurse. He is there frequently bringing friends who’ve been injured. He’s there so frequently she asks if he’s a plainclothes EMT. This is probably the funniest of the four books so far as Tony is definitely the class clown of the group. I laughed out loud when he asked Lydia, “What is in my balls,” because the only time she talks sensibly (at least from his viewpoint) is after they’ve had sex. Lydia has an ex-boyfriend who has turned stalker and is making threats against her brother. She goes to Nick for help and he assigns Tony to her for protection. I would give this book a low A, primarily because it was very funny and I enjoyed the interaction between these two characters very much.
For me, this one is the weak link of the four Italian Knights books thus far. Rocco is the attorney and fixer for the daCanaveze family. Anna is his long-lost love. This is another favorite trope of mine, but London doesn’t handle it as well as she did the friends into the lovers. Gina and Rocco were dating. She broke up with him when she discovered he was sleeping with one of her friends. He wasn’t sleeping with her friend, but for a very convoluted reason involving law enforcement and his dad screwing up and winding up in prison he’s not able to tell Anna the truth. So here’s the thing, she breaks up with him, but resumes the friendship with the friend! This made no sense to me, and I found the whole scenario unbearably annoying. The only thing that saved this story for me is Rocco’s grandmother, Nonna. Oh my God she’s a hoot. Rocco uses a lawsuit she wants to file as an excuse to get Anna back into his life and just when his charm offensive is working their relationship is nearly derailed by a vengeful cop. Without the girlfriend issue, this would be an A story, but because of it I have to give it a low B, probably in all fairness it should be a C.
Another in the series whereas the title makes no sense, but whatever. This one is my favorite, probably because the hero Gianluca, who is Tony’s cousin, is such a sweetie-pie. He’s a murdering enforcer for the daCavaneze family. Francesca is a cop. You’d think this would present insurmountable obstacles to the relationship, but fortunately, by the time they meet Gianluca has already sworn off the life. Gianluca believes he dreamed her while he was in jail and he swore if he could have her he’d never raise his knife in violence again. In fact they’d met previously in a convenience store, but he doesn’t remember because of a head injury. When he meets her again he’s a chef and working diligently to keep his nose clean after a really nasty encounter with his psycho-bitch of an ex-girlfriends which landed him in jail dreaming about Francesca. I love the way Francesca handles herself when psycho ex-girlfriend puts in an appearance. This is an A story for me, primarily based on the strength of the characters.
I borrowed the first book from a friend, the rest I bought.
Multicultural/Interracial Contemporary: Black woman, white man
Sensuality Level: Steamy
There seems to be a trend of late whereas authors are taking the “bad boys” to a new level. These bad boys are really bad, as in they’re criminals. And I’m not talking about soft-core criminals like jewel thieves and gentleman robbers. The genre has always had those. Nope, these bad boys are murderers, drug dealers, even pimps and thieves. I’m not sure why this trend is emerging now, but it’s interesting. I do wonder if the Great Recession has something to do with it. Anyway, I assume that authors are inspired by the film, Eastern Promises, as many of these criminals are also members of the Russian mob. Russian billionaires seem very popular as well, and from what I understand it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two! I guess we can add them to the Greek and Arab tycoons as “exotic” heroes.
This is the first time I’ve enjoyed a secret baby book. What? Why are you looking at me like that? Yes, I know that most secret baby books are booty crack because the rationale for keeping the baby a secret makes no sense. Trust me, given the circumstances of this story I would’ve run like hell too.
Eva and Alexei get together when they’re college students. Alexei has left Russia to go to school, but also to escape his mafia family. Of course, he doesn’t tell Eva about his mob connections, and she eventually finds out the hard way. They meet cute, and I love the fact that Eva is the aggressor. Eva’s family cuts her off when they discover that she’s practically living with a white guy, especially one who has no money. So she moves in with Alexei. They’re reasonably happy in their un-air conditioned Texas apartment, (Yikes!) until Eva finds out about Alexei’s past.
She runs away leaving him a note that she’s tired of living without money and is going back to her family. Alexei vows revenge and spends the next eight years acquiring wealth so that one day he can throw it in Eva’s face. They run into each other at a wedding which leads to one of the hottest near-sex scenes I’ve read in a while. Alexei initiates his revenge plan by buying up the largest employer in Eva’s small town. Then he blackmails her into spending two weeks with him by threatening to shut it down.
I really had a great time reading this book. Eva is a refreshingly off-beat character with a quirkiness that I haven’t seen in many multicultural books. In a word, she’s absolutely adorable. Alexei manages to be alpha without being an alpha-hole. Communication between the two is very open and direct, even when Eva is pissed off at Alexei, she is still very direct with him. The initial relationship evolves slowly and we get to know both characters very well through the evolution of the book. Very good read. Her Russian Billionaire can be purchased here.
Multicultural Contemporary: White man, Black woman
Let me start off by saying that my knowledge of BDSM is limited to Bridget Midway books. Generally I don’t enjoy this genre, as most of the books seem almost clinical to me. All the role-playing is just off-putting for some reason. It’s hard to explain, but the sex seems very pre-meditated, and lacking in real sensuality. That is so not the issue with Midway’s books. I was introduced to the genre through her book, Love My Way. And if you haven’t read that book you’ve seriously missed out. I know that authenticity is very important to those who read this genre, and while it reads very true to me, I’m no expert. I can tell you, it is one blistering hot read, so much so that I think Karen should add a “Holy shit!” category. Just saying.
While not a strong follower of BDSM stories I do enjoy books with black women in the submissive role. They are very hard to find, and as far as I know Midway is the only author doing BDSM with black women in the lead. I could be wrong though, if you know of others, hit me up in the comments. Most of the stories I’ve come across are femdom, and while that’s okay, it doesn’t really appeal to me.
Cherish, the heroine is a big time executive in corporate America. She maintains a very rigid public persona, never putting a foot out of place and is subsequently on the fast track to become CEO of her company. Nobody would ever know that she longs to be dominated and have someone else take over her life. Perry is her very able personal assistant. One day he discovers her need, and as he’s a dom he introduces her to The Life.
Perry wants more from Cherish, but given that he works for her and doesn’t earn as much money, he’s concerned that she will only see him as a fuck-buddy. He also wants to be free to explore more of the BDSM lifestyle. They have limited their relationship to weekends at a local hotel. Cherish is concerned that Perry might try to use her and exploit their relationship as others have tried to do in the past. This conflict seems very reasonable and logical to me, and the way it plays out is a very good conclusion for the story.
This is a fun, sexy romp. I particularly like the way Midway gets into the character’s heads so that the reader can understand why these two people might crave such an unorthodox relationship. I definitely had a great time reading it.
As long as I can remember, black guys around me have always dated non-black women. Always. When I was at school, it was the norm, and in fact it was a surprise when a black boy dated another black girl. This is not an unusual story, as far as I can tell, this has been the norm the world over for the last twenty years or so.
When I was a teen, the only boys who were interested in me romantically were white guys and bi-racial guys. The black guys were just not interested, they preferred my white friends. That’s just a fact. I on the other hand wanted to go out with black guys, I guess that’s how I was programmed, especially in those days, when it was virtually unheard of in my circle for a black girl to date a white guy.
I remember going on a date with a white boy when I was maybe thirteen or fourteen. To be honest, the reason I went out with him was because he asked me, but still to this day, I remember how uncomfortable I felt when he tried to hold my hand in public. And now that I know better how the world works, I’m really sorry that I made such a big deal about the whole thing. I guess I never thought about it from his perspective. Here was this white boy who had managed to get up the courage to ask out a black girl to the cinema (I’m pretty sure it was Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade) even though it wasn’t really the done thing, and I wouldn’t even let him hold my hand or express any other public displays of affection.
Whenever I think about how horrible I was on that date, I want to go back and slap that stupid girl upside the head. It wasn’t till a few years later that I thought about how I would have felt if somebody I was interested in had acted as if they were ashamed to be seen with me whilst we were on a date.
Anyway, the rest of my dating adventures didn’t differ much as I got older – I got asked out by white guys and mixed race guys, but still mostly ignored by black boys. A couple of black guys did ask me out, and I happily went, but they were both a bust. One of the black boys was the kind of guy who expected payment in kind for him spending a few pounds on a Big Mac meal. Needless to say, we didn’t last very long.
My long time readers will know that TTG is mixed race, and prior to meeting him, I’d mostly been dating bi-racial guys. Actually, I did date a white guy just prior to TTG, but he turned out to be an obsessive psycho, who threw battery acid all over my car when I dumped him for TTG. He was one messed up dude. *Shudder*
Anyway I’ve written all of the above to say that what angers me more than anything is when black guys take umbrage when they see black women with white guys. Black women have had to accept their lack of interest in them (me included) for years, yet they have the sheer audacity to have an issue when they see us with white guys. It’s happened to me quite a few times. I have quite a few clients who are white and male, and when I take them out to lunch and we’re in the vicinity of a black guy, I see the look of disappointment on their faces, like I sold out or something. It enrages me no end. It doesn’t even matter that they’ve made an erroneous assumption, what makes me mad is the fact that they dare judge me for apparently being with a white guy. I mean seriously wtf?
It’s something that drives TTG crazy too, he just doesn’t get the whole territorial race thing.
Anyway, it’s become very obvious that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Youtube vids featuring interracial couples where the woman is black, are filled with comments from black guys expressing their disgust at the union. Of course they’re filled with comments from KKK type people, but that’s not something that ever surprises me. A lot of people are racist, and that status quo will remain for many a year. No, what angers me are the number of black guys talking about how wrong it is for ‘sisters’ to date non-blacks, when black women have had to watch black men date outside their race for years.
The following Youtube vid features an older black woman who happens to be in a relationship with a white man. She’s responding to an email that she received from a black guy condemning her for marrying a white guy. It’s bloody long, but you more or less get the gist within the first ten minutes.
Wouldn’t it be great if people could be left alone to love who they want to love?
Anyway, question to black woman, or in fact any other women out there who have dated outside their race, what kind of reception did you get from guys of the same ethnicity as you? And to black women specifically, what was your dating history like? Was it at all similar to mine?
Side note: I know these are sensitive questions, and not all of you guys will be interested in the subject matter, but unlike the late Monica Jackson, (God rest her soul) if I get radio silence, I’ll just assume that nobody’s interested in these types of blog posts, and I’ll go back to random stuff. It takes way more effort than I usually like to expend to write them, and so the more responses from you guys the better:)
Multicultural Contemporary Black Female, White Male
I always enjoy reading about artists so when Dee Carney offered this book to me for review I agreed. In compliance with whatever the hell that blogger law is, please note, this book was given to me for free by this author.
The set-up for this story is interesting. The heroine, Tanya is a painter. Joe is her model. Her really smoking hot nude model. When the story opens she’s already been painting him for several months, or at least trying to. However, she is hopelessly blocked and unable to complete a painting. He suggests that she learn his body through touch. His rather unique solution to her problem leads to some of the most well-written sensual scenes I’ve come across in a while. Joe is an absolute sweetheart, and I like Tanya as well. The descriptions of the creative process are well-done and I could all but feel Tanya’s frustration and anxiety as she has a patron waiting for her paintings. Her passion for her work comes through in nearly every scene. You can understand why Joe would fall in love with her and be inspired by her as both a woman and an artist. On that level I really liked this story.
I think your ability to enjoy this book depends on your ability to suspend disbelief in a story. As a sweet, but hot novella it is very well-done. However, there were some issues that I found it difficult to get past. First, Tanya paints in a home studio. I found it hard to believe that a single woman would hire a male model from an ad to pose nude in her home. And when you factor in his remedy for her painter’s block, it sounds dangerous to the point of craziness. I also find it hard to believe that a professional painter would agree to engage in this kind of behavior with one of her models. We aren’t told whether this is her first time painting a male nude or not, but I would think a female artist would be leery of getting that type of reputation.
Then there’s the issue of racial dynamics. Tanya’s wealthy patron is a black man. I’m no expert on the New York art scene but the notion of a black man paying a black woman to paint naked pictures of a white man just seemed, well less than likely. I could be wrong, but it seemed odd to me. I was also amused by Joe’s pondering as to whether Tanya would date a white man. Dude, she’s been painting your freaking pubic hair for months! Somehow I don’t think THAT’S gonna be a problem!
I think if this story had been longer with more scenes of the beginning of their relationship I might have found it more believable. I especially needed to see the scene where he actually suggests his remedy and hear from him what inspired it. As it is, we meet this couple two months into their working relationship and it’s kind of jarring for him them to already be in the midst of a very intimate sensual encounter before we really know anything about them.
If you’re in the mood for a hot little story, this is great and I did like it on that level. But those other issues kept taking me out of the story and definitely brought it down a couple of notches.