Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: Season of Seduction by Jeffe Kennedy, Elise Logan, Emily Ryan-Davis, Christine D'Abo, Jodie Griffin

Title: Season of Seduction
Authors: Jeffe Kennedy, Elise Logan, Emily Ryan-Davis, Christine D'Abo, and Jodie Griffin
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Release Date: 21 November 2013

What's on your wish list?

After indulging in twelve naughty nights in Mexico, a woman experiences an erotic epiphany. An adventurous elf has her eye on one very sexy Santa. A married couple hopes to find a very special marine under the mistletoe. And a holiday mitzvah leads a woman to submit to a man in uniform on Christmas Day. No matter your fantasies, this collection of four shorts will add spice and sizzle to cold winter nights.

Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:

Five Golden Rings by Jeffe Kennedy
Naughty Nicks by Christine d'Abo
Ménage on 34th Street by Elise Logan and Emily Ryan-Davis
Matzoh and Mistletoe by Jodie Griffin

Stories also available for purchase separately.

Five Golden Rings by Jeffe Kennedy - 3.5 Stars

On the first day of Christmas, my lover gave to me...

Matilda Campbell's plans to spend Christmas solo in the sun take an erotic turn when she encounters the handsome and enigmatic Miguel D'Oro on the plane to Mexico. As the CEO of a major firm, Tilda's used to being the one in charge--but now she'll have to learn how to take orders instead.

In the spirit of the season, Miguel offers Tilda naughty gifts for each of the twelve days of Christmas. There's just one rule: she must accept them--and fulfill his commands--or face the sensual consequences. Intrigued and aroused, Tilda agrees to let Miguel take control of her pleasure.

What follows is a week unlike anything she's ever experienced. From choosing her sexy new wardrobe and naughty accessories, to pushing her boundaries with BDSM play, Miguel satisfies every forbidden craving. But as their time together runs out, she must decide if there's room in her real life for her holiday lover and her newly discovered kinky side.

This is my first time reading anything by Jeffe Kennedy, and I've got to say I was pleasantly surprised! Tilda and Miguel had some smoking hot chemistry and I enjoyed seeing them both explore it together.

Miguel was creative and fun in his "twelve gifts" for Tilda. Watching Tilda let herself experience and enjoy - letting go of that control she maintains all the time in her normal life - was fantastic. I liked seeing that she was able to. Miguel I didn't feel like I got to know as well, but that was a conscious decision on his part. He kept things very much physical and his life separate from what was happening between him and Tilda.

I admit, this irritated me. I get that he was looking for some fun, no-strings, tension-releasing sex....but it doesn't really allow me to see why they end up thinking a relationship of more will work. Because Tilda is not who she normally is when she's with Miguel in Mexico. As she says, she's on vacation - of course she's uncomplicated. With Miguel not sharing anything of himself but the sexual aspect, I didn't really buy into their desire to continue seeing each other when they got back home.

Still, I thought this was a fun, sexy, Christmas novella and I'll definitely be looking for more from Jeffe Kennedy.

Ménage on 34th Street by Elise Logan and Emily Ryan-Davis - 2.5 Stars

Katrina and Liam Holland have the perfect marriage, a home in the trendiest part of Baltimore, and a scorching sex life. As another Christmas approaches, there's only one thing still on Kat's wish list: Hunter Croft. But she made peace long ago with his decision to choose the marines over their relationship. Until seeing him again arouses feelings she thought were in the past…

Hunter has spent a decade outrunning his attraction to both Kat and Liam. But now that he's stateside, his self-control crumbles when he comes face-to-face with the two people who star in all his favorite fantasies. Their reunion is both erotic and emotional—and has Hunter wondering if three's really a crowd, after all.

Liam can't imagine his life without Kat. But he can imagine a future where the three of them live and love under one roof. Liam and Kat have shared their bed with other men, but Hunter is the only one who could ever have a place in their hearts. And this holiday season, Liam intends to make their dream a reality.

I have really mixed feelings about this story. On the one hand the sexy times were seriously HOT. On the other hand, I was frustrated with the relationship aspect of the book.

Ménage stories are always a hard sell for me in the first place, because I think they take a lot of work and most of the ones I've read seem to gloss over that work. I can safely say that Emily Ryan-Davis and Elise Logan don't gloss over the difficulties of making a permanent ménage relationship work. Unfortunately, they didn't convince me.

Hunter's been running from his desires for Kat and Liam for TEN years. He joined the Marines. He loves his career, has aspirations and goals of going further in the military; he has no plans to get out anytime soon. He visits his best friend while he's on leave and suddenly ends up in the middle of Liam and Kat - right where he's been avoiding.

I don't think it's a bad thing for Liam to push Hunter a bit, especially considering he wants them both so badly. Where my problem lay is that I felt like Hunter was pushed too far, too quickly. He denied his attraction to Liam, a guy, but suddenly an hour after seeing him again he's having sex with him? Then one thing after the other - he's not sure about it, but pretty soon they're doing it.

I liked how the three of them would get together and talk about things - that's important in any relationship - what I didn't love is that each time they finished talking I was less sure of their ability to make it work between them. Then they just went straight to some more boundary and limit-pushing sex which apparently was going to solve all their concerns and problems.

The other thing I wasn't sure of was the "I love you"s - I get that they all cared about each other, but honestly, they haven't even talked in TEN years. Hunter joined the Marines and is committed to his life as one - you can't tell me they didn't all change. But twenty minutes together and the love comes out again. I didn't buy it and it made me even less sure of how things were going to work long term.

All in all, I was incredibly uncomfortable during this read. Partly because the sex was hot as hell and I kind of wished that it had just been a straight erotica, but mostly because the relationship didn't seem workable to me - at least not as they'd begun.

There is a note from the editor, Angela James, at the end of this novella that there's going to be a sequel showing how this relationship works in every day ways and I admit I'm somewhat curious about that. I think this story needed more page time to make me buy into it.

Naughty Nicks by Christine D'Abo - 3.5 Stars

Kim has been the coordinator at Naughty Nicks, home of the sexiest Santa strippers, every Christmas for three years—and for just as long, she's lusted after her boss. She enjoys their flirty banter and heated looks, but she's getting tired of Blake being nice when she's feeling naughty. This year, there's only one kind of Christmas bonus she wants.

With each passing holiday season, Blake's attraction to Kim has grown. But after a bitter divorce, he's not sure he's ready to jump into a new relationship, especially with an employee. One passionate kiss under the mistletoe and he realizes he's had enough of looking and not touching. Fortunately, he knows the perfect way to seduce Kim—a private striptease to prove she's the only elf for his Naughty Nick.

Admittedly, Christine D'Abo is the only author that I've ever previously read in this anthology. I know she writes some great sexy times and I was looking forward to seeing what fun she had with Christmas in this one.

I loved Kim so much. She's outgoing, has an awesome sense of humor, finds life amusing, and knows what she wants. Blake was great as well, kind, smart, respectful - you wouldn't think that'd be such a sexy thing, but it so is - and able to laugh at himself and with Kim. The friendship between them was so gratifying to read about, and seeing them take the sizzling chemistry to the next level.

This was nearly a perfect Christmas story, because what I'm looking for generally is fun and happiness. Though there was the minor drama over Blake's concerns about the difference in his and Kim's age and the number his ex-wife did on him when she left him, overall it was all about how Kim and Blake could take things where they both wanted them to go.

I really loved that Blake valued her friendship so much that he was concerned about losing that. Friends-to-lovers is an especially fond story-line for me, so I appreciated how they made it work from the simmering (and sometimes not so simmering) attraction.

Matzoh and Mistletoe by Jodie Griffin - 4 Stars

Every December twenty-fifth, Rebeccah Rickman volunteers through her synagogue so that others can celebrate Christmas. Her usual mitzvah, or good deed, is assisting police officer Jeremy Kohler. But this year is different: this year, Becca is free to act on the attraction that has long simmered between her and the sexy cop.

Jeremy couldn’t have asked for a better gift than discovering the woman he’s fantasized about for five long years is single. But when he learns about the violence that broke up Becca’s marriage, he’s hesitant to pursue her. He fears his desires will scare her away—but can’t deny his own need for control in the bedroom. Or his longing to instruct her in the fine art of submission…

Becca is shocked to learn that Jeremy is a sexual dominant. And despite her past, she’s also aroused. But before she can explore what that means, she’s going to have to put her trust in Jeremy—and her own fledgling desires.

I'm not sure if I just missed reading the blurb for this one, or if I forgot it, but I had no idea what to expect when I opened this book up. Another friends-to-lovers story and I was instantly hooked.

Becca was a great character. Strong and vulnerable at the same time. I understood what drew Jeremy to her. She has a great sense of humor, a backbone, and a playful personality. What I really liked about Jeremy is that he was fun - he liked to laugh and tease, not something I see in a lot of the Doms I read about, so it was a really nice change.

Speaking of, I had no idea there was going to be BDSM in this book. I'm pretty picky about how the lifestyle is portrayed in the BDSM books I read, so it was a wonderful surprise to find another author I can trust. I loved how she portrayed the relationship building between Jeremy and Becca - especially with Becca coming out an emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive relationship.

Though I did feel like things rushed a bit quickly, I was happy to let that go and be swept away by the story and the happiness these two were building.

I'll definitely be looking for more from Jodie Griffin soon.

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