Book Review: Courted by Curses (Cursed in Secrets #2)

Title: Courted by Curses (Cursed in Secrets #2)
Author: Ashley Amy
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Reverse Harem
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Things would never be the same after the beginning of our secrets unraveled. Like they say about lies spinning a web, we were all caught in the center of the same snare.
Leading to certain people that would destroy us, it was time to put our differences aside in order to save ourselves. But what about the side of me that I didn’t know?
My family had their own abundance of secrets they never shared with me. It left me feeling like the prey in a game I never knew I had been playing.
With the cursed gods at my side, I just hoped they would help me figure out my history. I had to hope they believed me when it came to me lacking the knowledge of my parent’s past.

Check out my review of the previous book in the series, Housed by Haunts, here.

After finishing Housed by Haunts, I was interested to start the second book, Courted by Curses. This book starts right where the previous one left off. Our gang has locked themselves in an office hiding away from two Olympian gods: Zeus and Hades. But the office gives access to deeper tunnels, and leads Brielle to uncover secrets about her past that could help explain why she seems to collect mates left and right, and why two Olympian gods are after her.

I liked how in this book, the male love interests finally start to acknowledge they actually have feelings for Brielle. In the first book, they spend the better half of the book pushing those feelings away, but here they start embracing how they truly feel.

Plus, I don’t want to give any plot spoilers, but the whole thing with Steer? Uhm, no, thanks, no.

I’m not all that fond of the idea of “mates” either. I know it’s a popular trope, but I much prefer slow-burns or medium-burns where the guys fall for the girl because of her personality, their connection, her humor, you name it. But just because she’s your “mate”, that feels a little cheap. I do see Brielle having connections to some of the characters, notably Talus, Prome and Syph, but that’s where it ends.

Xion was already established as her “mate” as from book one, but he’s the least interesting of the guys and he just seems like a doormat. The others have personalities, Xion is just bland. And Steer is… well, there are no words. I probably would’ve enjoyed the book more if he didn’t make an appearance in it.

Also, the ending still leaves us with a lot of cliffhangers and unfortunately, although at the end of book one, I was intrigued to find out more, now I’m feeling less enthusiastic. I’m still looking forward to reading how all these plotlines connect and why Brielle can do what she does, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first, unfortunately.

Book Review: Housed by Haunts (Cursed in Secrets #1)

Title: Housed by Haunts (Cursed in Secrets #1)
Author: Ashley Amy
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Reverse Harem
Rating: 2 stars
Purchase: Amazon

The gods abandoned us.
Life was not like we once knew.
They grew envious of our reliance on technology rather than prayer. In their haste to depart and forsake this world, they left us a parting present, one that would surely end the human race.
Now at the bottom of the barrel, women were scraping to get by. A disease had come. It wiped out majority of fertility in females, placing those who could bear children back to being the low man on the totem pole.
Only seen as broodmares, we were reserved solely for the right to breed. Sold to more than one man, we were to become endowed to a house. Inside, we were subject to the demands of our men’s desires to keep the population rising.
Once I hit puberty, I tested to be a prime specimen for their ruthless requirements.
All of this because those with power wanted to prove how much control they still had.
I spent several years in the academy, learning to be a docile female for their use. For no more worth than the uterus in my body, I had come of age to be marketed off to a house.
The daft idea might not fare on my behalf, but it also offered a freedom from being treated like a porcelain doll in the school I was forced to attend.
Filled with dread, I was about to find out what it was that made porcelain so fragile.

Housed by Haunts is the first book in the Cursed in Secrets series. There are five books total in this series. It’s my first series by this author, and I’m not entirely sure what to think at this point.

The mythology and world-building starts out a little flimsy, but it does progress and grow more interesting. Brielle has a hard life thus far, but despite all the hardships, she stands her ground and she actually has quite a strong personality – surprising given the world she’s inhabiting in which women don’t have much say.

The book isn’t very forgiving toward the other women in the book, though, except maybe Lois, and I thought that was a real shame. Why should the heroine be the only redeeming female character, and the others be one-dimensional and cruel toward other women? This bugged me the most. You don’t have to tear down other female characters to make the heroine shine–a heroine can shine in her own light.

I did breeze through the book, and it definitely had its moments. There’s a slow to medium burn build-up with the male love interests, and that’s quite well done. I do look forward to starting book two, and I hope the author expands upon the world-building and mythology, because those are the most interesting parts to me.

Book Review: Dirty Tricks Box Set (Bullies of Brentmoor Academy #1 – #4)

Title: Dirty Tricks Box Set (Bullies of Brentmoore Academy #1 – #4)
Author: Ryan Ramsay
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Reverse Harem
Rating: 2 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Read the entire series that Amazon reviewers have described as being “well written,” “very entertaining,” with “great characters,” “lots of surprises,” and steam so hot that it’s like “a bunch of chili peppers!” -From reviews by Amazon Users ILikeBooksBest, Amber Johnson and Kindle Customer.

Brentmoor Academy is where ultra-rich kids go. And now, to my surprise, it’s where I go too, thanks to surprise tuition the celebrity father I just found out I have sent me after my mother died. I thought dealing with grief was enough to nearly kill me. But now I also have to deal with the most popular and elite students who make up Brentmoor’s infamous “Council” relentlessly bullying me because they don’t think a poor girl like me belongs here, no matter who my father is.

But three of the Council guys are hot, and I swear they have a crush on me. Scruffy but studly Sebastian is a rebel from old money, nerdy-cool Braxton didn’t even need his billionaire dad to get him in because his grades were so stellar on their own, and handsome Harrison is the musical bad boy son of a rock and roll star.

These three guys might look down their noses at me, but I can’t help noticing that they’re staring at my curves while they do it. And even though they kind of take part in the cruel jokes, it seems to be in a teasing way. Or is it that they’re even trying to help me?

It’s hard to know what’s really going on since Brentmoor and its elite lifestyle are like a whole new world to me and I’m not part of these guys’ inner circle. But it starts to become abundantly clear that they want to be in my, um… inner circle… all three of them, at once, in fact.

I decide to use one of them to get back at the rest of the members of the Council, especially the mercilessly catty female students. But it’s hard to decide which one of the three guys to choose, and from the way they’re all fawning over me together, I’m starting to wonder if I even have to.

Am I doomed to live alone in the hell that is Brentmoor forever?
Or can I get revenge, pleasure and maybe even love, with 3 bad boy bullies at once?

This box set contains the complete Bullies of Brentmoor series: Dirty Deeds, Dirty Secrets, Dirty Lies and Dirty Love. Note: These books are about three damaged alpha males and the feisty, curvy female student who stands up to them until they’re all on their knees begging to please her! The set contains mature language and scenes, including high heat steam, and potential triggers related to bullying. Although there are some cliffhangers in the individual books, everything is resolved by the end of this complete series collection, for your binge-reading pleasure.

Dirty Tricks is a box set featuring the complete Bullies of Brentmoor series: Dirty Deeds, Dirty Secrets, Dirty Lies and Dirty Love.

Technically, this book seemed to have all the elements I usually enjoy in contemporary romance reverse harem books: heroine doesn’t have to choose (therefore, reverse harem), bullies, enemies-to-lovers, extremely wealthy people who can fly to the other end of the country on a whim (which always reminds me of Gossip Girl, one of my favorite series).

Unfortunately, although the book should have been right up my alley, I didn’t enjoy it that much. It’s actually a DNF for me, since I gave up right after Dirty Secrets.

The heroine is such a push-over that it isn’t even funny anymore. People can torment her all they want, but if they also happen to be hot, she’ll decide to forgive them in a millisecond and go to bed with them because she simply can’t resist their charm. Uhm, no. I’m all for enemies-to-lovers and the attraction that can occur between people who hate each other, but it’s not even that here. It’s like all of her animosity just vanishes in the blink of an eye because a hot guy wants her. No matter what they did wrong.

Most of the girls are mean girls. Stereotypical, standard mean girls, without any reason whatsoever for being so. The romance wasn’t very believable either. For example, one of the guys tells the heroine that he loves her but it’s totally out of the blue. They haven’t even interacted up to this point besides some glares. Sure, Edward Cullen, sure. The dialogue was also quite childish at times, and none of the characters seeemd to act their age.

There wasn’t much in terms of plot besides the romance and bullying, and that got tiring fast. I wanted to like this book, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me.

Book Review: Poison Flower (Stonehurst Prep Elite Book 2) by Steffanie Holmes

Title: Poison Flower (Stonehurst Prep Elite Book 2)
Author: Steffanie Holmes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Reverse Harem
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Victor. Torsten. Cassius – the jock, the artist, the stepbrother.
They made me theirs – body, heart, and soul.
They got inside my head.
They broke down my defenses and made me trust them
… maybe even love them.They betrayed me.

They think they’re untouchable,
but they forget that I’m one of them.
I’m the poison flower in their garden,
beautiful and deadly,
hiding in plain sight.

I know all their secrets,
Their weaknesses,
Their darkest desires,
And I’m going to make them pay.

Poison Kiss is a new adult, dark contemporary romance with three hot, dangerous guys and the blind girl who rules them. It is intended for 18+ readers.

Poison Flower is the second book in a reverse harem series featuring three notorious bad boys: Victor, Cassius (usually referred to as Cas) and Torsten. I previously reviewed the first book in the series, Poison Ivy.

I thoroughly enjoyed Poison Ivy, so I was dying to read the sequel, Poison Flower. Unfortunately, the things that bugged me about Poison Ivy only magnified in Poison Flower, and I was left feeling ‘meh’ about the book.

First of all, in Poison Ivy it is already hinted that the male love interests (Victor, Cassius and Torsten) are part of three notorious crime families. Their mothers form the Triumvirate, in typical Roman-era style, and together they rule the criminal underworld. I found some of the sub-plots related to this already far-fetched in the first book, but it only gets worse here. Murder, torture, blackmail, you name it, and it happens. But it’s not realistic, nor is the way the heroine deals with it.

I still liked Fergie, the main character, but she’s obviously diving off the deep end and I don’t want to see her at the bottom of the abyss. It looks like she’s headed there, though. She had every chance to get out, to redeem herself, but she’s only allowing everyone else to pull her back further and futher into this crime world. Fergie has a strong personality, sometimes, but she allows others to influence her more than she thinks or realizes.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, but I’m not sure if I’ll pick up book three. I’m a bit disillusioned with Fergie and her antics. I do have to say I really enjoy Steffanie Holmes’ writing though, and reading the synopsises of her other series, I’ll definitely pick them up, but I’ll probably skip Poison Kiss.

Book Review: Poison Ivy (Stonehurst Prep Elite Book 1) by Steffanie Holmes

Title: Poison Ivy (Stonehurst Prep Elite Book 1)
Author: Steffanie Holmes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Reverse Harem
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

I’ll do anything to get in. I’ll even become theirs.

Victor. Torsten. Cassius – the jock, the artist, the stepbrother.
The Poison Ivy Club.

They rule Stonehurst Prep with an iron fist.
If you want Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, they’ll get you in.
But they’ll take their pound of flesh first.
A deal’s a deal – you give them whatever they want, and they’ll make your dreams come true.

And they want me.
In their beds.
On their arms.
Part of their gang.

I’ll do anything to get into an Ivy League school.
I’ll lie. I’ll cheat.
I’ll get on my knees.
I’ll kill.

But those three dark princes will never have my heart.

This is a new adult, dark contemporary romance with three poisonous guys and one fearless girl. It is intended for 18+ readers.

Poison Ivy is the first book in a reverse harem series featuring three notorious bad boys: Victor, Cassius (usually referred to as Cas) and Torsten. For those of you who don’t know what reverse harem means, it’s basically a story where the heroine doesn’t have to choose. She doesn’t need to choose one of these three as her love interest – she can have all three of them, and the boys don’t mind sharing.

Despite that these types of relationships often are a lot more problematic in real life than they are in books, what with jealousy and all (not saying it is not possible in real life, just that I imagine it’s a great deal more complicated than in fiction), the books of this genre often feature at least somewhat realistic scenarios. Here, not so much. It’s not realistic that the three guys in question would run the school, or that their families would have that much power. And even if I’m willing to somehow accept that, the whole Coach Franklin plot (I won’t go into detail because of spoilers) is just too outrageous and over-the-top.

Still… despite the plot certainly being a far cry from believable… I did enjoy this book.

First of all, the writing is great. Steffanie Holmes can conjure up descriptions that are vivid and original, and some even made me laugh out loud. She makes her main character, Fergie, sound like such a great person: on the one hand, a total badass, but with a vulnerable side. That’s the second point here: the heroine is pretty awesome. She does have her flaws, though, like how she treats her best friend – not cool at all – but generally, her heart is in the right place and she’s just dealing with some messed-up stuff. A lot of messed-up stuff, really.

Plus, I do have to applaud the author for writing about a main character who is blind. Fergie reads Braille, her descriptions of what is happening are mostly based on auditory sensations, and honestly, it’s quite believable. When reading the Fergie chapters, I feel as if I’m blind–it feels slighty suffocating, and although you can rely on Fergie’s other senses, it sometimes feels claustrophobic to read these chapters because you know her sense of sight is missing. It’s a strange sensation, and I’m sure it was difficult for the author to write this character and no doubt it also took some research, but in my opinion, the author really pulled it off.

The three love interests were interesting, too. Especially Torsten, since it’s obvious he doesn’t quite experience the world the way others do. It’s never mentioned what exactly is “wrong” with him, but there are hints that he has trouble functioning in certain circumstances. I liked how Fergie never judged him for that and instead tried to find ways that did work for him, and allowed him to set the pace for things between them. Then there was Victor, the savior, the knight in shining armor, probably every girl’s dream guy. I could certainly understand why Fergie was drawn to these two.

But then, there’s the last love interest. Cassius. Cas. Who happens to be Fergie’s stepbrother. I don’t mind that trope in general, but what I didn’t like that much, was how instant their relationship was. And although it was basically fueled by desire and anger at the start, it never really develops from there. Maybe it will in the second book, but Cas seemed like the least likely person to do any kind of developing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Characters – like people in real life – should grow and change, but not everyone does that at the same pace. In fact, given his personality, it’s to be expected that Cas would fight any type of change or growth. But I hope that in the second book, he can at least learn from his mistakes, and keep some of his worser traits in check.

As far as contemporary reverse harems go, I rather liked this one. The main downside, for me, was the sometimes rather unbelievable plot. Also, I had expected more bullying from the guys. But they don’t really bully Fergie, except at the start, and Torsten never really joins in. If anything, it’s basically just Cas doing the bullying, and Cas bullies just about anyone except his two besties.

I already purchased the second book, and can’t wait to start reading.