Sexy Saturdays with Andrea and Autumn is a weekly meme created to spread the word about spicy reads.
The Autumn Review
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Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: 8/6/10
Rating: 5 stars
For the past couple years Laurel’s been coasting, hiding in the backseat while her life drifts off course. Then one summer afternoon a tall, built bruiser named Flynn strides in and steers her straight into an infatuation she never saw coming.
Flynn introduces Laurel to things she’s never imagined—to the violent but exciting realm of the underground boxing circuit, to rough sex and even rougher role-playing, and to an attraction she craves even as it intimidates her. As Flynn invites her deeper into his world and his life, Laurel has to make a choice—let fear keep her holed up where it’s safe, or take a chance and fight for the man who makes her feel more alive than she’d dreamed possible.
Reader Advisory: Although all sex acts are 100-percent consensual, Willing Victim contains role-playing scenarios that may upset some readers who are sensitive about rape, even in a simulated capacity.
First Impression... Willing Victim is the mostly highly recommended to me, of all Cara McKenna's books. (My favorite of hers is Unbound.) I'm so ready for more from this truly brilliant author.
The Story... Willing Victim is a departure from the other McKenna books I've read. This is the story of Laurel, a lonely, aimless woman who meets the most striking man, Flynn, in a park in Boston. Though she feels she shouldn't be, Laurel is insanely attracted to the rough, gruff, HUGE Flynn, pursues him, and they strike up a tentative friendship.
Laurel wants to know Flynn better, but he's not sure she'll like what she finds. Turns out Flynn, who boxes for sport, also likes to pound out his aggressions in bed as well. Laurel is intrigued, and decides to explore her darker side with Flynn.
The Characters... McKenna's characters are always, absolutely, glorious. Flynn and Laurel are average people, with average jobs, backgrounds, lives. He is not an exceeding charming, arrogant, and roguish billionaire. In fact, Flynn's not that charming at all in the beginning. He's built like a sexy beast, has a blue collar job, and problems like everyone else.
Same with Laurel. She's a engineer by degree, but she's a bit lost at the time, and works as a waitress. She has roommates, no car, and isn't portrayed as a glamazon. She could be any one of the women who pick up Willing Victim and turn the pages.
Despite how "regular" Laurel and Flynn are, they are not boring. How is that possible? I'm not sure, other than the fact that despite the regular appearance and lives, Flynn and Laurel have an thoughtful and sexy story to tell. It's like we've honed in on this particular moment in their lives, and it's freaking intriguing.
The Writing... As always, Cara McKenna's words are brilliant and gorgeous and so compelling. I was discussing with my friend Karen, a fellow fan, about why this particular author can take stories that we think we won't or can't get on board with - in this case, really rough and forced sex role play. And despite hesitation, I not only could accept where the characters were coming from, but I really got it. It was insightful, and with such deep characterization, I understood. Her books are not only sexy physically, but also cerebrally. Cos we all know the way to a lady's heart, or body, is through her mind, yeah?
The Heat... I'm not even sure it's safe or responsible to say how sexy I found Willing Victim to be. Let's just go with my eloquent response of "UNFFF."
(Just FYI: my friend Erin says you can tell how hot I think a book is by the numbers of "Fs" I put in my UNF. Three F's, that's pretty much my highest compliment.)
In the End... Willing Victim is another brilliant gem of a story from Cara McKenna. I'm seriously believing there is nothing she can write that I won't love.
"Are you part of the BDSM scene or whatever?" Laurel asked.
He made an exasperated noise. "I can't stand that shit. They make everything so fucking complicated. You might as well be one of those Civil-fucking-War..." He twirled his hand, searching for the word.
He snapped his fingers at her. "Three points."
"I was just thinking, when I first met you, you seemed really... obvious. And you're not. Not just how you are in bed," she said, rambling. "On the outside you're like uber-macho, Mr. Toolbelt-and-Boxing Gloves with your bossy accent and your attitude and your...tallness."
"And your body and everything. But you're really something else on the inside. Sorry," she said. "That sounded was more squishy than I meant it to. Should I insult you, to take the edge off all that squishiness?"
"Nah. I'll just take it out on you next time."
She smiled to herself. "I'm sure you will."
She couldn't care less what people wondered, though--she just wanted to be seen walking beside this man, knowing what his body was capable of, wishing everyone else knew too.
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Genre: Erotic Romance
Publication Date: 4/16/13
Rating: 5 stars
Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing’s prepared her for the physical and emotional demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection—and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who’s more than willing to provide it.Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she’d never get involved with. She’s seen firsthand, via her mess of a sister, what chaos guys like him can bring into a woman’s life. But she finds herself drawn to him anyway, even when he shows up at her door, not eager to take no for an answer.What Erin finds even more shocking than Kelly’s indecent proposal is how much she enjoys submitting to his every command. But he can’t play the tough guy indefinitely. If they want to have more than just an affair, both will have to open up and reveal what they truly need.
If I use the same format as my review for Willing Captive, this review for After Hours would seem copied, nearly word-for-word. It's not that the two books are exactly alike, they're not really. But they had a similar, gritty vibe, and the feelings they each gave me were very similar.
Actually, the books are alike in a couple of very important ways. Both feature ordinary people who, with McKenna's always insightful and thoughtful characterization, became super compelling characters. Kelly Roback (Jesus, Kelly Roback) is an orderly at a psychiatric hospital, not exactly your typical romantic hero's occupation, huh? But really, who needs a seductive rich guy who drives expensive cars and sweet talks, when you have a big, built, quiet, compelling hunk of a man with a penetrating look at a sexuality that just won't quit. I'm not even joking, here. I'll take the Kelly Robacks (or Michael Flynns) of the world any day. What I love about the way McKenna writes her characters is, they are authentic, through and through. Even though tough guy Kelly falls for Erin, he doesn't suddenly begin to sound an eloquent and expressive man such as Didier (from Curio) or a Dom/businessman. The feelings come out jarringly, almost unwillingly, but they come out in Kelly's way.
Same with Erin Coffey. She's just a twenty-nine year old nurse with a rough background and uncertain future. She's got walls around her; massive, massive walls. She doesn't give her love or her body freely, making Kelly earn her trust. Erin doesn't really play games, but she doesn't allow herself to fall for Kelly, at least freely. She has a hard time reconciling her feminist thoughts with the thought of needing a man. Kelly. Fearing an evitable heartbreak from a man who seems like those of her mother's past, Erin refuses to give in for so, so long. Fortunately, this man is worth falling for, as is she, but boy, is it a frustrating and sexy ride.
After Hours was quiet and thoughtful, very seductive look at two characters who realize "We got a little something between us, don't we?"
"There are four things a real man has to be able to do for a woman."
"Exactly how many man-lists do you have?"
He let my wrist go and ticked the items off on his fingers. "Fix her car. Grill her a steak. Kick the ass of any guy who makes her cry. And fuck her so hard she wakes up half-crippled."
His body was as powerful as ever, looking as strong and exciting and cut as it did in my fantasies. He owned me in smooth, explicit strokes. But it was the noises he made that had me aching. The tight grunt each time his hips met mine. There was a helplessness in that plaintive sound. Something that said, Let me in, a plea trying to pass for an order.
"I don't know what I want yet, for the future. I just know I want...I want you to need me back," I whispered.
"Sweetheart, I already do. I need you for what you let me be for you last night."
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