Tag Archives: E. L. James

Sweet Filthy Boy (Wild Seasons #1) – Christina Lauren MUST READ REVIEW

The Hangover: Wedding Edition?


Sweet Filthy Boy

Christina Lauren


FROM GOODREADSOne-night stands are supposed to be with someone convenient, or wickedly persuasive, or regrettable. They aren’t supposed to be with someone like him.

But after a crazy Vegas weekend celebrating her college graduation—and terrified of the future path she knows is a cop-out—Mia Holland makes the wildest decision of her life: follow Ansel Guillaume—her sweet, filthy fling—to France for the summer and just…play.

When feelings begin to develop behind the provocative roles they take on, and their temporary masquerade adventures begin to feel real, Mia will have to decide if she belongs in the life she left because it was all wrong, or in the strange new one that seems worlds away.


Christina Lauren is why, no matter what Diana Gabaldon or Robin Hobb say or even the writing crimes of E.L. James, fan fiction is a good thing. How could anything that provides that lightning strike of inspiration to create not be? Particularly when the result is so very satisfying.

BBWhen I read Beautiful Bastard, the writing duo comprised of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, who are professionally known as Christina Lauren’s first novel, I thought to myself “Now this is what Fifty Shades should have been”. Whether it was in fact Twilight or FSOG fan fiction notwithstanding, Beautiful Bastard was a wonderfully dirty romp with an unexpectedly sweet love story at its core. Free of some of the more disturbing themes present in FSOG and portraying a romance between two people with a much more straight forward power dynamic I look forward to its inevitable film adaptation for which the rights have already been purchased and is stated to be in development. From that unlikely foundation these two gifted writers have forged an entire wildly successful series that I can tell I will be revisiting in the near future.

AllyssaMilanoDespite my appreciation of the Beautiful Bastard series I wasn’t particularly moved to read the Wild Seasons offerings. It could have simply been a “so many books, so little time” moment or my inner prude may have objected to the title… nah, let’s be real that’s not it. But for whatever reason I didn’t embrace this newest series until I came across it when looking for something to treat the book hangover inspired by the recent binge re-reading I did of every single available book in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series. These two series might seem like unlikely bedfellows but let me tell you the love scenes in Ms Hoyt’s Regencies are HAWT.

Upon college graduation Mia, Harlow and Lola plan to spend a girl’s weekend in Sin City as a reward for a job well done. Mia is naturally very quiet and reserved, mentally preparing to sacrifice herself and attend business school in Boston come the fall semester. Realizing her domineering father’s dream since her own was demolished when she was involved in a hit and run accident ending her burgeoning dance career before it had even begun. They have barely arrived at their Hangover style suite when across the crowded bar she spies the most attractive man she has ever seen. A silent conversation ensues. Personally, they had me the moment they mentioned his dimples. Really is there anyone alive who can resist them?

The Hangover (2009) R | 100 min | Comedy | 5 June 2009 (USA)

Instead of marching across the bar and taking Mr. Man-Candy back to her room for some happy fun time she allows herself to be dragged to the next stop on the Vegas strip pub crawl with her besties. Unsurprisingly after their heated silent exchange Mia can’t sleep, their raucous neighbours across the hall only add to her insomnia. When she decides to rain on their parade she discovers none other than Dimples himself, flirting ensues.

Jared Padalecki

The next morning Ansel aka Dimples finally and rather adorably locates his quarry with his two closest friends in toe. In a different and only mildly unbelievable twist of fate Mia awakens the next with the mother of all hangovers and a wedding band on her left hand. Apparently, in a fit of previously latent spontaneity Mia proposed to Ansel. The folie à deux or in this case à six was the only place I had to tamp down suspension of my disbelief that not one of them would think this was a sketchy idea BUT if we let reality intrude that would be flushing the potential for a very entertaining series right down the drain. So I shushed the inner voice that sounds suspiciously like my mother and read on.

Sweet Filthy Boy was remarkably entertaining, most of all I found Mia’s character to be particularly surprisingly likeable. To write a shy character who is somewhat retiring without crossing the line into insipidity is more difficult than one would assume. Case in point – Isabella Swan, did even the Twi-hards not want to punch her in the face? I could give example upon example as this fawn-like caricature seems to be extremely popular in commercial fiction and rather than coming across as appealing in their vulnerability it ends up inevitably translating to “annoying victim”. However Mia’s reserve and quiet nature seemed completely genuine and appropriate for the story. Her personal difficulties were easy to empathize with, even for an extrovert like myself. Finally a heroine who doesn’t orgasm with just a steamy glance from the love interest. Don’t get me wrong Mia and Ansel tore up the sheets but it wasn’t always effortless, which was a refreshing change from the typical love scenes in romances.

Ultimately, Sweet Filthy Boy was perfect, a fast fun read that made waiting on the sidelines for soccer practice to be over a pleasure rather than a chore. And just in case you are wondering I did pick up Dirty Rowdy Thing immediately to find out how the “playah” Harlow and the Canadian Finn reach their happy ending.

About the Author

christina-laurenChristina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced ten New York Times bestselling novels. Their books have been translated into 23+ languages. (Some of these books have kissing. Some of these books have A LOT of kissing.)




Grey (Fifty Shades #4) by E.L. James – Or Why Some Questions Should Remain Unanswered


From Goodreads – Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.

Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?

Idiom: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Or perhaps curiosity killed the cat would be more appropriate? I admit it, I read Fifty Shades of Grey – worse than that I read all three books. I wouldn’t say that I disliked the story precisely, as I did in fact want to know what happened next and thus read all three entries with varying degrees of dissatisfaction. However if I ever were to have the misfortune of meeting “the fictitious Ms. Steele” I would gladly slap her. giphy

The most pervasive emotion I felt when reading FSOG was annoyance, every time that idiot girl bit her lip, blushed or worst of all, when I read the myriad of cultural references that would only be appropriate if the setting was across the pond, from where the esteemed author hails, I was irked. Feeling this way one might wonder why I would a) watch the movie and b) subject myself to reading a rewrite, which make no mistake Grey IS though I didn’t realize it at the time. The answer is simple, I was curious.

With Grey, E.L. James was afforded a rather unique opportunity, a do-over if you will. Don’t we all wonder what we could do if we had more time, resources, what have you… what the outcome would be? I made the mistake of thinking that Grey was an example of this type of thinking rather than the thinly veiled money grab that it in fact was. One would think with the world wide attention, if not acclaim, that Grey would be something… well, better.

giphyThough Ana got on my last nerve, I was somewhat reluctantly intrigued by Christian Grey. Even if when his deep dark secret was finally revealed my internal monologue was along the lines of “boo freakin’ hoo“, at least Dexter took his early childhood trauma and became a serial killer. Now, that was interesting! In general, I like stories told in dual POV even if I often wonder if an author of the opposite gender could ever truly capture the essence of the character’s thoughts and motivations. But if I wanted truth I could start reading non-fiction and that is not going to happen which brings me back to Grey.

On Valentine’s Day of this year, the motion picture of Fifty Shades of Grey was released. Before I saw the film I considered for a brief moment re-reading the book and then realized that way leads the path to madness for the reasons stated above. After seeing the movie I was glad that I had allowed the horror that was the first book to fade from my memory somewhat. Make no mistake it is no Best Film Academy Award nominee in the making but considering the rather lugubrious source material, the film far exceeded my expectations, Dakota Johnson brought to the part an unexpected and somehow completely appropriate humor. My hope that this would carry on to the next two films planned in the series but alas that is not to be as the esteemed director Sam Taylor Johnson and screenwriter have fled the ship amidst rumours of strife with the author. Sadly I feel that this will negatively impact the upcoming Fifty Shades Darker.

Granted Jamie Dornan was a bit stiff (muwhahaha) in the part and what, WHAT, what were they thinking with that opening scene of the movie with “Christian” (Jamie Dornan) running with his hood up in an almost identical fashion to the actor’s character in The Fall? That in an if itself isn’t an issue until you consider that Paul Spector is a serial killer!

After a somewhat positive movie watching experience I naively gave into my curiosity and figured I would give Grey a whirl forgetting two critical things. Firstly, “do overs” are about as common as unicorns and second if “The King” and I mean Stephen not Elvis arguably one of the greatest storytellers of all time could not improve on The Stand by adding back in 400 pages that was edited out of the original why oh why would I think that a far less competent writer, inexplicable commercial success aside, would be able to improve upon a mediocre sexed up hack of Twilight?

Quite simply Grey is boring, the editing is much better than FSOG, free of all of those horrific inaccurate cultural references. Unless you are raised in a British expatriate household and sometimes not even then, which I was, you do not say you are going to “ring” someone instead of call etc. I could go on but I feel a rant coming on. What we learned upon reading Grey is that Christian’s cock appears to have gained sentience and weighs in on his every thought and decision. The sex scenes never particularly titillating despite what you may have heard are repetitive and mechanical. Truly all I gleaned from the experience is that I am not better for having been privy to Christian Grey’s inner monologue and that if you truly want to be entertained read the various reviews/parodies available about this latest offering instead. Hopefully by the time the “alternate versions” are released of Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed I will be wise enough to take my own advice.



Just One Night Trilogy – Kyra Davis

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Whoever coined that term never met Robert Dade.

The sex is explicit but that is hardly uncommon these days, the immediate comparison is to Fifty Shades of Grey but I found the Just One Night trilogy by Kyra Davis to be  a work that was far superior to the wildly successful but deeply flawed E.L. James series.

The StrangerThe Stranger Kasie Fitzgerald knows who she’s supposed to be. She’s a rising-star-workaholic at a global consulting firm. She’s the fiancée of a well-connected man who’s won the approval of her parents. People know that she’s reliable, serious, proper, cautious, pragmatic, and yes, a little predictable. She’s who Dave and her family want her to be.

Kasie Fitzgerald is repressed, she dresses conservatively, she is engaged to a proper lawyer, she is the good daughter. She lives her life the way that everyone expects her to live it, never stepping off the path that has been laid out for her. Until Vegas, at the urging of her friend she takes a night off of being that Kasie and meets Mr. Dade. She promises herself that it will be just one night, a respite from the confining existence she has embraced.

Exposed – You should sleep with a stranger —those words whispered in her ear by her best friend became a challenge Kasie took to heart. Suddenly, the man who gave her the most shocking pleasure in that upscale Vegas hotel —a man whose name she never bothered to find out —is her company’s biggest client.

exposed-book-coverOf course Kasie’s promise that it would be just one night with Mr. Dade is one that is destined to be broken. The mysterious man at the blackjack table turns out to be the powerful owner of Maned Wolf Security and coincidentally (not at all) Kasie’s company’s newest client. Immediately, the carefully organized life that Kasie lives is being systematically destroyed by the one man that she cannot say no to. Until her fiance finds out, determined preserve her parents and coworkers good opinion she agrees to continue being Dave’s perfect white rose.

Binding Agreement – As her affair threatens her job and the sexy billionaire Robert Dade becomes more controlling, Kasie has to figure out if her passion is leading her down a path she really wants. She’s seduced by his gifts of power, success, and adventure, she’s overwhelmed by what he can make her feel with a single touch, the way he can make her ache for him with just a look. But is the cost of absolute power and pleasure a price Kasie can afford? And does she truly know this man who says he can give her everything…or is he still a stranger after all?

Binding AgreementPersonally, I find infidelity distasteful not that I haven’t read and enjoyed many stories that feature it, as this is fiction rather than fact, but the relationship between Kasie and Robert was somewhat disturbing. After six seemingly pleasant years with her boyfriend she abruptly decides that she is going to embark in a one night stand. When she is repeatedly faced with making a choice between the two men she continues to sleep with Robert and yet clings to the life she has with Dave. It was hard to empathize with a character who seemed to have so little moral fiber that she would justify her actions with Robert by reassuring herself that Dave wanted her to be someone who she wasn’t. Situations arise throughout the trilogy that would have been circumvented by a modicum of honesty on Kasie’s part.

Of course after finding out about Kasie’s affair Dave is a proper bastard undoubtedly designed to align the readers sympathies with Kasie and Robert. Yet I found as the trilogy progressed I disliked each character more and more. Robert transformed into a controlling borderline megalomaniac, Dave was a sadist and Kasie was a spineless, remarkably stupid Harvard graduate. It was a disappointment because Kyra Davis’ writing is vastly superior to some of the other offerings available in the genre currently. By the end of Binding Agreement the HEA was remarkably implausible to me that Kasie could have developed into a character capable of enforcing her own will and that Robert would allow it. In short, the Just One Night trilogy is an enjoyable enough read provided you don’t examine the story too closely.

AUTHOR: Kyra Davis

RATING: 2 Stars

GENRE: Erotica