Sunday 1 June 2014

A Taboo-Reads Kindle Giveaway

To coincide with the June Reading Challenge at the Never Too Old For Y.A. & N.A. Books group on Goodreads, I have decide to give away some of my favourite Taboo- Reads, which is the theme for June, for Kindle. I chose one book each from the most popular Taboo topics. Although I don't have a favourite Student/Teacher book, I picked one that I knew was popular.

Kidnapped - Twist Me by Anna Zaires (Graciously provided by the author)

Older Woman/Younger Man - The Education of Sebastian & The Education of Caroline by Jane Harvey-Berrick

Student/Teacher - Good by S. Walden

Although the group primarily focuses on its love for YA and NA books, it isn't, nor am I, limited to those genres. Twist Me and The Education of Sebastian & The Education of Caroline are most certainly adult erotic reads.

One winner will be chosen for each book, so there will be three winners in all. The winners will receive their Kindle prizes on June 1st. Scroll down to enter.

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: February 10th 2014
POV: Female - First-person, Present tense
Smut-O-Meter: 10 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


I never thought this could happen to me. I never imagined one chance meeting on the eve of my eighteenth birthday could change my life so completely.

Now I belong to him. To Julian. To a man who is as ruthless as he is beautiful – a man whose touch makes me burn. A man whose tenderness I find more devastating than his cruelty.

My captor is an enigma. I don’t know who he is or why he took me. There is a darkness inside him – a darkness that scares me even as it draws me in.

My name is Nora Leston, and this is my story.


This was the darkest book of this genre that I have read yet. It brought me places that I did not know that I wanted to go. It turned me into a willing victim, just like Nora.

I personally love 'captive woman' stories. I love the psychology behind it; seeing how the different women handle their situations, the motives of the different captors, and how things ultimately turn out. Is love able to conquer all the terrible things that happened between them? Or is love even involved at all? This one was different. The biggest difference is the fact that I found nothing redeemable about Nora's captor, Julian. I hated him all along. This is not the kind of leading male I can swoon over.

But he was the cause of all the games being played between himself and Nora. He was the catalyst for everything that had happened, so I accept his role in the story. But I knew unequivocally that Nora did not belong with him. He was not a good person, and he did not love her. And unlike the other books like this one that I have read, where everyone's emotions are shades of grey, I have no doubt that there is a lot of Stockholm Syndrome going on in this book.

Despite the fact that I never warmed to him, as I neared the end, I found myself hoping that they would remain together. I couldn't believe it had happened. I have no idea how or why I had found myself in that position, and I am slightly ashamed. But that is one of my favourite things about this sort of book. You have so many emotions going in different directions that you don't know which ones to follow. It can be overwhelming and it's a bit of a high for me. And Julian did put me at war with myself more often than I had anticipated.

As much as I enjoyed the psychology behind how Julian treated Nora, I did not enjoy the BDSM aspects of the story. That's just my personal preference, but it also definitely has something to do with why I hated Julian. I just can't separate my feelings and be objective about it. I think I remember Anna Zaires saying that the BDSM in this book would be mild, but if this is mild, I shudder at the thought of what true BDSM is like. *shudder*

Another problem I had with this book is Beth. I hated her more than Julian because she seemed to serve no purpose but to piss me off. I don't understand any way that she could approve of what Julian was doing. No matter what she had been through, or what Julian had done for her, it doesn't make rape ok. And if Beth thinks it does, then she has some other, deeper issues besides her tragic past. Or Julian has brainwashed her as well. 

However wrong it may be, I cannot deny how expertly Julian handled and manipulated Nora. I enjoyed seeing her transformation, as Julian molded her into exactly what he wanted, or needed. It was by far my favourite thing about this book, and out of all the 'captive woman' and 'Stockholm Syndrome' books I have read, I think this is the most convincing and realistic. Although, I'm no expert.

I am looking forward to the sequel, Keep Me. I don't know where I would want their relationship to go from here, and I am not even sure that I would want it to change at all. Would I want to risk all of Nora's conditioning being undone? Regardless of what happens, I am excited by the fact that the excerpt was in Julian's POV. Twist Me was solely in Nora's POV. I cannot imagine what is going on in Julian's head. He treats Nora like a possession and has no regard for her free will, but he risked his life for her. I would love to see how he can reconcile those two things in his mind. He is certainly a complex, fascinating, and incredibly intelligent man, whatever else I may think of him.

Even though I was already in love with Anna Zaires writing and storytelling from The Krinar Chronicles, I was nevertheless impress with Twist Me. This may not have done it for me in the erotica department (and there is a lot of it. This book is like 80% sex!), but it did not take away from my experience. It was about the purpose and motives of Julian's brutality, not the brutality itself. With this new series, Anna Zaires has surpassed my already high expectations.

"He turns me inside out, takes me apart, and puts me back together—all in the span of one night." 

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: April 26th 2014
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 9 out of 10
My Rating: 5 out of 5


The Education of Sebastian

Trapped in a loveless marriage, thirty year old Caroline Wilson moves to San Diego after her military husband earns a promotion. Feeling lost and alone Caroline strikes up a friendship with young local surfer Sebastian Hunter.

Sebastian has more than friendship on his mind when he runs into Caroline on the beach. But when sparks fly friendship turns into an illicit love that threatens them both.

The Education of Caroline

Now a successful journalist, Caroline heads out to report from the front lines of the war in Afghanistan. Love is the last thing on her mind when she crosses paths with Chief Sebastian Hunter.

Will this chance encounter reignite the erotic passion of their past?


I have never read anything quite like this before. I think this is about the same age difference as in On the Island. I have read A Rush of Wings, in which the hero is 21 and the heroine is 28. And Inhale, in which the hero is 24 and the heroine is 32. But this has a 17 year-old hero, and a 30 year-old heroine. Like a lot of people probably were, I was a bit skeptical to start because of the age gap. But it was really well done.

Sebastian really made this book. He was so unbelievably sweet. Like ridiculously sweet. Like Peeta or Ky. The kind of boys you usually only find in YA books. Although this is an adult erotica, Sebastian is nothing like the kind of men you usually find in this genre. He is not a controlling alpha male. He is not an arrogant ass. He is a YA boy stuck in an erotica. And he has an absolute, all-consuming, unconditional love for Caroline. The kind of love you usually only find in a PNR, where hero and heroine have faced death and gone through heaven and hell together. Sometimes literally. Somehow, Sebastian and Caroline found that kind of love through surfing and coffee shop visits. It is really incredible what they had together. And you can see the evidence of how they have changed each other. They don't just say, "You've made me a better person," and expect us to take it at face value because its a book. No, we see them change. We see them give each other hope, and purpose, and confidence. It was a truly epic, life-changing love.

"I had chosen--willingly, knowingly, deliberately. I chose love over law. And I didn't care."

But Sebastian was still a realistic teenager, just one in love. He still joked around, used foul language, hung out with his friends, could be uncomfortable in new situations, and had a teenager's optimistic outlook on life. He was forced to take care of himself for years due to his useless parents, which made him more responsible than his age should require, but not necessarily more mature. He didn't behave like a man in a teenage body in order to convince us Caroline could fall in love with him. Caroline fell in love with him for the person he was, regardless of his age. He was the most kind and beautiful soul you could ever hope to meet. The kind of person who sees the beauty in the world and believes love conquers all. But that does not make him weak. He is willing to fight for it. He fights for Caroline and the future he wants for them. And he is so brave. He put up with his parents physical, verbal, and emotional abuse his whole life without letting it change him. Without becoming bitter or wanting pity. And I loved the way he took charge. He was not afraid to show Caroline how much he loved her, and there was certainly a lot of sex in this book. It may have been all new to him in the beginning, but by the end he was a pro, a natural, with unbelievable stamina.

I read the Bonus Seb POV: First Time before I read the book, and I am glad I did. It was great insight into Sebastian's mind. The book is entirely in Caroline's POV. If I hadn't read it first I am not sure if I would have been able to accept or understand Sebastian's feelings as easily as I did. And I have never read the first time for a male virgin from his POV before. I was so fascinated by it that I had to read the book immediately and see what Caroline had been thinking in that moment. To see how similar it was to what Sebastian had been thinking.

"You are my world, Caro." 
"And you're mine."

But I find it unrealistic that Sebastian's age was never an issue for Caroline. The law was a constant issue. What people would think was an issue. But never Sebastian himself. She never thought he seemed too young for her. He never did anything silly or childish that made her question her feelings. It could be considered a good thing I guess, that her love was so complete, but I think there should have been more to it. Some second guessing. Some inner turmoil. This book was all mush and sex, but not much else. There wasn't any conflict between Sebastian and Caroline. There was Sebastian and Caroline's day-to-day life, dealing with the logistics of having an affair, and an illegal affair at that. There was always tension from the possibility of getting caught, but there was no story beyond Sebastian and Caroline being together. Not even the 'falling in love' process, since they were both pretty much head-over-heels by chapter 4. Just enough time for Caroline to accept that her love for a child could change into love for a man. That was one of the only two significant turn of events—when Caroline realized she loved him too, and when they finally got caught.

I personally prefer romances without conflict between the characters. I hate seeing people fight, so I am glad there was no big fight in this beyond a few realistic disagreements. But I know others think a romance is boring without lots of conflict going on. If you are one of them, this isn't for you. This seemed a bit drawn out and its ridiculously long. It just went on and on without end. Not that I didn't enjoy seeing Sebastian and Caroline together, but a few strolls, a few coffee shop visits, and a sex scene or two could have been left out to keep this at a more reasonable length.

And the ending!!! Needless to say it was heartbreaking. But what really bothered me was the way Caroline reacted. She gave up. She promised him she would fight for him, but she didn't. How could she not see what they had? How could she not see that it was the kind of love that most people don't even find in their lifetime, and she expected Sebastian to find it again?! She failed him. I liked Caroline up until then. She was loving and kind. The sort of woman who is always willing to lend a hand. But now I feel as if she can't deserve his devotion if she doesn't return it. I hate to think of what could have been. All the time they lost. I hope she makes up for it in the sequel. I hope she is sorry and she sees how badly she screwed up. I really don't see how either of them could have gone on alone.

"I love you, Sebastian. So much, tesoro." 
And then I walked away, leaving behind all the goodness and beauty that I'd ever known in my life.


I didn't enjoy The Education of Caroline quite as much as the first book, but it was still great. I prefer contemporary romance with low drama. I really love the part in Italy. That was the best part of the book. It was more reminiscent of book 1, as Sebastian and Caroline simply spent time together doing every day things and intensely loving each other. The part in Afghanistan was interesting, but was focused mostly on the action and danger and didn't leave a lot of time for romance. The part at Long Beach was the worst. I got kinda depressed while reading it. It was the only part that had conflict between Sebastian and Caroline. It was painful to see Sebastian struggling and taking it out on Caroline instead of letting her comfort him.

"Don't give up on me, Caro. Please don't give up on me. I need you, baby. I love you so much. I'm so sorry.” 
I could forgive anything now that he'd let me touch him."

But I did really enjoy how Sebastian and Caroline's relationship developed, excluding the hiccup at the end. The fact that they were able to pick up where they left off ten years earlier, the way it was completely indisputable that he still loved her, and they didn't even have to work through what happened. They just let it go and moved forward. It was amazing. They love each other so much. But I preferred Sebastian in the first book. I'm not a fan of all the swearing and drinking and the temper. Simply as a reader, I prefer who he was before. But it was a very realistic transition and I understand why he turned out that way. I don't hold it against him as a person, and I could still see the old Sebastian deep inside. It was excellent character development. I am also remarkably happy that they finally got their HEA. I was so pleased to see that there are those that can celebrate with them and not judge their relationship. I only wish it had been 10 years earlier.

Oh, and this book wasn't as hot as the first one was. The sexual content wasn't as high, but it was still pretty high. But also I have a thing for innocence, first times, and discovery. Maybe that's why I enjoy YA so much. Sebastian was the kind of guy you would usually find in YA, during the first book. But in the second he was the usual moody, adult love interest. Book 1 gave me the best of both worlds.

“My beautiful boy, my lover, my friend. The man I thought I'd never see again. Sebastian.”



Twist Me - Gurl Reyes Almendral
The Education of Sebastian & The Education of Caroline - Melissa McLean
Good - Jennifer Perez

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