All posts by vblawnola

Author, Reader, Reviewer

More than Survival: A Post-apocalyptic Love Story – Camryn Lynn

Post-apocalypse is just a backdrop for this set of sex scenes

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I didn’t enjoy this. It has many positive reviews, so I wasn’t expecting to be so disappointed. I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic romance, especially those with some smut in them. But this just didn’t do it for me.

There isn’t much world building here. The story doesn’t leave the cabin. Uncle Seamus disappears and Sawyer appears. Nothing else happens besides sex. There really isn’t a plot here. A post-apocalypse is just a backdrop for this set of sex scenes

There was too much sex, and I found the sex scenes unrealistic and somewhat boring. There was barely any dialogue during the sex scenes. The dialogue is usually my favorite part and what makes a sex scene hot for me. I didn’t find any of these hot.

I didn’t like how ignorant Lucy was about sex. At 18, she hadn’t learned the basics and had never tried touching herself. This is difficult to believe. I hated that she tried to get pregnant on purpose to keep Sawyer with her and that after she had decided she wanted to wait, he decided to chance it. There was never a discussion about having children.

I never connected with Lucy. She was a survivor and able to take care of herself, hunting, cooking, chopping wood, etc. But she didn’t feel emotionally strong. She was lonely, and her focus was on keeping Sawyer happy so he would stay. I got the impression that if she hadn’t been lucky and some abuser had come along instead of a nice guy, she would have accepted the abuse to not be alone.

Fortunately, Sawyer was a nice guy. I didn’t feel that Sawyer was a developed character either. We never get his point of view or learn much about him. Both characters were unrealistically beautiful and perfect.

I hated that it ended on a cliffhanger. We never find out what happened to Seamus or if Sawyer returns. Near the end, I was so bored that I started skimming, looking for something to happen, and then it ended abruptly. I thought there was much more to the story because I was only at about 70%, but the rest is another novella. So turned out I had started skimming during what should have been the climax of the novel. Not good.

Error count: 12 before I started skimming in Chapter 8. 4 in the Prologue, but they became less frequent after.

M/F, no cheating, no OW/OM drama. 3rd close to h only, past tense. Lucy is a virgin, but Sawyer is not. His sexual history is not revealed.

Werewolf Cinderella – Amanda Milo

Cinderella done right! With the werewolves and laughter it always needed!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fairytale retellings aren’t my thing, but when I saw this was about werewolves, was written by Amanda Milo, and turned the stepmother around, I one-clicked it and read it right away. No regrets! This was awesome! I’ve loved everything Amanda Milo has written. She has a great sense of humor and fast paced writing style that hits all the right notes for me.

This started off in a unique way, grabbing me and holding me with the second start. The young people’s sexual exploration was hilariously written. It’s so funny but probably accurate! Poor sheltered humans for centuries trying to figure sex out on their own without any information at all. Ugh! Amanda Milo really depicted this well!

I loved how the old fairytale was turned around like the mean stepmother and stepsisters. The references to other fairytales were also great. I promise, even if fairytales aren’t your thing either, you’ll love this!

SAFE, M/F, no cheating, no OM/OW drama, bit of violence, occasional foul language, HEA. First person present tense. Graphic sex scenes.

This was 98 pages – a quick read I read in a few hours.

Error count: 2 – Amazing!

Favorite Quotes:

“My heart is so easy for him. It flops beneath him like a besotted puppy, wanting all the belly rubs.”

“When questioned about my strange behaviors, I claimed I was suffering from an onset of menses madness. Evidently, everyone everywhere is willing to accept this as explanation enough for an eighteen-year-old lass like myself to change moods at the speed water rushes past in a brook.”

““Let me drive this pony,” Gareth orders hoarsely. “After all, I’ve handled this sword all my life. You’re liable to stab yourself.””

Skin (Flesh Series Book 2) – Kylie Scott

Post-apocalyptic dark romance with zombies

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is the second book in the Flesh Series. I gave the first, Flesh, four stars as well. I enjoyed this one just as much. Flesh was a ménage, but Skin is a dark romance. Nick buys Roslyn and chains her to the bed in the beginning. There is some nonconsensual kissing and touching but no rape. He didn’t want to keep her chained up forever and was hoping he wouldn’t have to resort to that, but she cracked his head open with a wine bottle as soon as he got her home. Watching these two sort out their differences was entertaining and often made me laugh.

Nick was not a bad guy. He was just in a bad situation and made some mistakes. He is an alpha male but not over the top. I liked that Roslyn was strong, didn’t give in to Nick right away, and had the guts to stand up to baddies. The sex scenes were hot. The action scenes were well written and paced without too much gore in the book overall.

Just like Flesh, the story grabbed me from the start. There isn’t too much backstory at the front. It is set in Australia, but if it wasn’t explicitly stated, I wouldn’t have known. There is no dialect speech, not a lot of “mate”s and such. Just a little flavor thrown in.

M/F, no cheating, no OW/OM drama, contains several graphic sex scenes, contains a bit of foul language and a good dose of violence, standalone, HFN.

Error count: 11. There are many comma splices (sentences with two independent clauses joined with a comma but not a conjunction). It happened so often that I have accepted this as style. I’m not a fan of the style, but that’s probably because my brain keeps yelling, “Error!” while I’m trying to enjoy the story. I do think it may add to the fast pacing.

Favorite Quotes:

“He was a beast, an animal reeking of sweat and ready to pounce, rock hard and hurting. His hard-on gave Godzilla a run for its money. If he swung it about, Tokyo would be leveled.”

“Men were such complicated creatures. Women were so much more straightforward.”

Pursuit – Lynda Chance

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hot! Jealous, protective, possessive alpha male but no pain (spanking, BDSM, etc)

Lynda Chance is one of my all-time favorite authors. There hasn’t been a Lynda Chance story that I haven’t loved, but this might be my favorite.

Lynda writes dominant alpha males, possessive, jealous, caveman instincts, but no pain (spanking, BDSM, etc.), no cheating ever, no OM/OW drama, no abuse (verbal, emotional, or physical). These men are only controlling in the bedroom, about safety issues, and about getting their woman. They don’t try to isolate or keep their women dependent on them financially.

Logan gets hit by the thunderbolt when he sees Lauren in a coffee shop, and he refuses to accept her rejection. He works at her with single-minded purpose to make her his!

Logan is an OTT alpha male that says and does everything right for me. Lauren is a strong woman who can handle him. I laughed out loud several times and like to re-read this every few years.

This one is SAFE. As in all her books, there is no cheating, OW/OM drama, or love triangle. This one doesn’t even have dubious consent or a virgin h. So I recommend it for everyone without reservation! I think this might be Lynda’s favorite too because she revisits this couple with three short stories. This novel is a standalone with a HEA. The shorts are slice of life, further adventures of, type stories.

Favorite Quotes:

“He’d have her, and sooner, rather than later, if he had his way about it. She was like the proverbial Little Red Riding Hood, taking one step too close to the Big, Bad Wolf.  And when she did, he’d have her. And that would be that.”

“He showed no signs of even being interested in other women. Like, she didn’t think he even registered that there were other women alive. Like there were no other women but her living on the planet.”

The only problem with grammar I found was missing commas between two independent clauses joined by a conjunction. It happened regularly but not consistently, making them mistakes rather than a style choice. Most readers may not even notice the issue.

The short stories are, in order:

  • Temptation in Texas Logan and Lauren
  • Temptation in Texas: A Christmas Special
  • Logan and Lauren: A Valentine’s Special

Flesh – Kylie Scott

Hot post-apocalyptic ménage romance with zombies

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I love The Walking Dead and Z Nation TV series, but I generally prefer post-apocalyptic novels without zombies. That said, I did enjoy this. It is a post-apocalyptic ménage romance with zombies.

Ali has been holing up in an attic since the zombie apocalypse started. When she runs out of food, she goes foraging in empty houses. There she finds Dan and points her shotgun at him.

This novel started out with a whoosh instead of a lot of backstory, which I enjoyed very much. The action kept on going, with the zombies and other humans and in the bedroom. It contains several graphic sex scenes, M/F and M/F/M, because along the way, they meet Finn. I loved the characters in this, especially Dan, who is very funny. This novel made me laugh out loud a few times. I liked that they are in their 30s and 40s. I also loved that Ali is a strong woman. She helps herself, fighting back instead of waiting to be saved. She’s no annoying damsel in distress!

It is set in Australia, but if it wasn’t explicitly stated, I wouldn’t have known. There is no dialect speech, not a lot of “mate”s and such. Just a little flavor thrown in.

Everything is totally consensual. There is no cheating or OW/OM drama. It contains foul language. There is lots of sex and quite a bit of violence. For a zombie story, I wouldn’t say it was gory.

I thought it was well written with good pacing. I caught only 6 outright errors, which is fantastic. There are many comma splices (sentences with two independent clauses joined with a comma but not a conjunction). It happened so often that I have accepted this as style. I’m not a fan of the style, but that’s probably because my brain keeps yelling, “Error!” while I’m trying to enjoy the story. I do think it may add to the fast pacing.

If you like ménage and zombies, I recommend it. I plan on reading the next in the series, Skin. This is a standalone novel but part of a series, with different characters in each book.

Population and Saltlands – Elizabeth Stephens

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m combing the two reviews for these together here because they comprise one total book. Saltlands picked up exactly where Population left off. It’s like someone just tore the book in two along it’s spine, ala Bed Knobs and Broomsticks!

I liked Saltlands better, but that makes sense. Population is slow at the start because of necessary world building. Taken as one book, the action builds throughout, hitting a steady stream near where the book was broken in two, and goes on to the climax.

Over a decade ago, “the Others” arrived on Earth. They have since carved up much of the planet into private kingdoms. Humans remain in the leftovers, fighting over scraps. This is a post-apocalyptic romance.

I loved the strong female lead, Abel, her African and Spanish genetics, her ability with the sword and hand to hand fighting, her determination, and her emotional strength. I loved Kane, who is complex but honorable. The world-building was good and something I haven’t seen before. I enjoyed the “Others”. The pacing was good, most of the time, and there were some great action scenes. There was a good dose of violence, but it wasn’t described in gory detail. You can cut someone’s head off with a sword without describing blood sprays and such.

There is a cliffhanger ending, but the sequel is out. It’s basically one book split into two parts. I definitely want to read the next one, but I hate this modern tendency of splitting books. “The Stand” is hugely long but is one book!

Child molestation and rape is hinted at in some parts but not seen directly.

This is M/F. No cheating. No love triangle. It is written in 1st person pretense tense. I find this much less jarring than 3rd close present tense.

There are basically two sex scenes. They aren’t graphic but rather camera obscura. They lack detail, so the words could be taken to mean more or less depending on the reader. For example:

I tear his belt free and kick his pants off with my feet, then I tease him with my fingers and then again with my lips.

What is meant by this? Exactly where her fingers and lips go is up for interpretation.

Grammar and spelling: I found 13 errors in Population, including missing words, wrong words, and repeated words or phrases. Not bad at all. This is aside from the routinely missing commas between two independent clauses, missing commas after introductory clauses, and extreme run-on sentences that I have accepted as the author’s style of writing. This is fiction, not academia, so the rules are less rigid. I found this style distracting because my brain shouted “error” frequently, and the run-on sentences were confusing at times.

Unrealistic Timing: Abel is seriously hurt after the forest cult part in the beginning but seems mostly recovered 1-2 days later. She has never worn heels, wears and dances is stilettos for 48 hours, and no mention is made about swollen ankles or legs. There is definitely some almost instalove. It happens pretty fast. But I’m okay with it.

Confusion: Earlier in the book, Abel talks about having been raped or was it attempted rape that was thwarted? I thought two of a gang had actually succeeded until the second sex scene when blood is obliquely mentioned twice along with some pain. If she wasn’t a virgin, where do the pain and blood come from? At the least, it’s unclear. At most, there is a contradiction.

There were times when the story got too close to familiar fairytales. There was some “Beauty and the Beast” when Abel first gets to Kane’s estate and some “Cinderella” with the ball preparation.

I would have given this 4 stars, but the aforementioned problems drop it to a 3 for me. I will be reading the second half of this ONE book.

In the second half, action is almost nonstop with lots of gory fight scenes and drama. Each chapter has a black and white inkblot image above the chapter title, blood splatter, and they are appropriate! The violence is certainly amped up. Abel goes through hell, one desperate situation to another, and keeps her determination and resilience. It was a wild ride, very fast paced, and kept me reading very quickly. It made me laugh out loud a few times. The humor was appreciated amidst the intensity. It tickled my funny bone that the villain always sets up in dental office buildings. I liked the secondary characters, especially Mikey.

There are a couple of short sex scenes, not graphic. Romance is not the focus of the second half of the ONE book. There is some OM drama. I was very happy that our main couple dealt with this in a mature fashion, by talking it out. It didn’t cause anything stupid to happen except a ridiculous fight for fair maiden’s hand.

I found more errors in this half – 17. Mostly missing words, a few repeated words or phrases. As with the first half of the ONE book, commas are missing everywhere, but I accepted that as writing style long ago. At the opening of this half of the ONE book, I thought to myself, “Someone has a thesaurus.” Many words were used that just aren’t common enough to be in Abel’s thoughts since she hasn’t spent the last decade reading literature.

This is a 1st person present tense novel. One scene could be considered cheating, but wasn’t exactly consensual, so I don’t want to call it cheating. OM drama. Occasional foul language, but it gets as bad as it can. HEA.

A third book is hinted at called “Generation 1”. I couldn’t find anything when Googling this. If it is published, it will at least be a totally different book than this ONE.

How To Create a MOBI File

If you’ve got your novel in a Word document, you can transform it into a MOBI file at no cost following these steps:

  • Download and install Calibre
  • Click the down arrow next to Add Books
  • Choose Add Books From A Single Directory
  • Navigate to your Word document and select it
  • Click Open
  • Your book will now be shown in the list and will already be selected
  • Click Convert Books
  • Choose Input format: DOCX
  • Choose Output format: MOBI
  • It is not necessary to change any other settings here
  • Click Okay at the bottom
  • Click Save to disk
  • Navigate to your target Destination Folder
  • Click Select Folder
  • This will create a folder with the author’s last name, first name
  • With the book title as a subfolder
  • When emailing your book, it is only necessary to send the actual .MOBI file

Will You Like What I Like?

What I Like

  • Strong Female Characters! They don’t have to tote guns, being strong emotionally is more important. I do love a woman who can fight though. The woman with the hilarious comebacks who throws punches is my favorite.
  • Honorable Male Characters – even thieves have their own code of honor. If the strong woman is going to fall in love with them, they need to be worth it! They can become worth it over the course of the story, but I have to believe it.
  • Humor – even serious stories about heartbreak need a little comic relief from time to time.
  • New and interesting ideas, surprises, and twists. I’m not big on clichés. If a story has to have them, I at least want twists on them.
  • Characters with depth – multiple facets to their personalities, realistic imperfections, good characters who aren’t all good and bad characters who aren’t all bad, and good back stories.
  • Great writing – stories that flow, feel right, and keep me turning the page.
  • Plot beyond two people falling in love. I want interesting things to happen. It doesn’t have to be an epic battle. It could be a bunch of funny incidents, characters going through emotional growth, or some great secondary characters. I need spice to keep me interested.
  • Good grammar and spelling – It doesn’t matter to me who edited or proofread the book, just that it was done. If I run into multiple grammar, spelling, and word usage errors within a few pages, I will stop reading.

What Is Okay With Me

  • OTT or Instalove
  • Alpha males (dominating to some extent, jealous, possessive, etc. but NOT abusive)
  • Graphic sex scenes (as long there is a plot beyond this)
  • Dark elements (kidnapping, non-consent, etc.)
  • 1st and 3rd close past tense

What I Hate

  • Man whores and players! OMFG! They are everywhere! A novel has to be brilliant in other respects for me to get past the lead male being a man whore. I like bad boys – bullies, loners, discipline cases, bank robbers, bikers, mobsters, mercenaries, pirates, ruthless corporate types, whatever, but men/boys who have sex with anyone and treat them like expendable trash, and especially those that lie to get it, piss me off. When girls fall for these guys, I think they are stupid, and I don’t like stupid lead characters. The girl also always seems to be a virgin in these novels. Now there is a big difference to me between someone who is promiscuous and a man-whore. My definition of a “Man-whore” – a man who lies to get sex, making women think he cares about them when he doesn’t. He might not be charging money, but he makes the women pay!
  • Cheating – once a couple is together, anything more than a little kissing is unacceptable. I definitely don’t want to read a graphic sex scene with Other Man/Other Woman. The only possible exception is a novel that is about the redemption of a cheater, which brings me to:
  • Easy forgiveness – I absolutely hate it when a girl forgives a guy for cheating after they are together. Making her jealous or getting revenge should never work to get the girl! If a girl is going to forgive this, it should require a ton of groveling and time.
  • OM/OW Drama (other man / other woman) – if a major plot element is an OW/OM trying to steal one of the main characters in a romance, I probably won’t like it. If this is a small part, it will annoy me, but I can move on.
  • Glaring inconsistencies, bad timing, and unrealistic problem resolution – Novels where everything happens over the course of a few days when it logically should have taken months. The girl who was raped practically jumps in bed with the guy. The abused girl who supposedly went mute but talks up a storm an hour into the story and becomes super bubbly on day two.
  • Novels that aren’t finished in one book – sequels are great, but they should be about secondary characters or the further adventures of… I want the main plot tied up in one book. I want my most important questions answered. If a really long book needs to be broken up, then I want a warning – call it “Part 1 of 3” or something. I can’t stand it when these sneak up on me! When reading published books, I never start a trilogy until all three books are available. Occasionally I will still love a book like this that snuck up on me, but I’m still pissed about it.
  • Horrible grammar, spelling, and word usage – I can’t even read things that have an error per page or more. They give me headaches. I will put a note in my review if I find more than four errors per chapter. If I find less than around thirty errors total, I will mark them along the way and send them to the author.

Other Things I Just Don’t Like

  • Love triangles
  • Slut shaming
  • Women that are stupid or gullible
  • Women with low self-esteem
  • Perfect, one-sided characters
  • Overnight changes in characters
  • Mean and/or abusive parents
  • Fated Mate Rejection
  • Wimpy damsels in distress that do nothing to save themselves
  • Cliches
  • Overall depressing reads
  • Ugly cries
  • Present tense

What I Read

My Favorite Genres

  • Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Romance without zombies
  • Paranormal Shifter Romance
  • Science Fiction Romance
  • Contemporary and Western Romance with alpha males

Genres I Also Like

  • Paranormal Non-Shifter Romance (vampires, witches, ghosts, etc)
  • Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Non-Romance without zombies (the survival after a catastrophe type)
  • New Adult Romance
  • Young Adult Romance

Genres I Will Occasionally Read

  • Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Romance with zombies, but I’m pretty tired of zombies
  • Contemporary Romance (including MC, Mob, MMA, Military, Police, Firefighter)
  • Western Romance
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Dark Romance
  • Ménage Romance

(Any of these genres can be erotic as long as there is an overall plot beyond the sex.)

What I Do NOT Read

I’m adding this in January 2020 as I’ve been getting requests for things not listed above. So don’t waste my time or yours with:

  • Anything with no romance in it. The only rare exception is post-apocalyptic without zombies as noted above.
  • Nonfiction (with the possible rare exception of hysterically funny travel stories)
  • Self-help
  • Short stories
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Mystery/Suspense
  • The first, second, etc. in an ongoing series with cliffhanger endings when the last one isn’t out yet. Seriously! I don’t read even best-selling series until they are all published and a true ending is available.

All-Time Favorite Authors

  • Kresley Cole
  • Lynda Chance
  • Penelope Douglas
  • Amanda Milo
  • Karen Marie Moning

Other Favorites

  • Steffanie Holmes
  • Rochelle Paige
  • Andrew Fukuda
  • Cheryle McIntyre
  • Tijan
  • Lara Adrian
  • Scarlett Grove
  • Amanda Heath
  • Alexa Riley
  • Rachel Van Dyken
  • Tammy Falkner
  • Michelle Pillow
  • Mandy Roth
  • Suzanne Collins
  • Jay Crownover

Surviving Seduction (The Shattered World #2) – Maia Underwood

Entertaining But OM/OW Drama Is The Story

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This is the second book in the series and continues right where the first left off. There wasn’t a cliffhanger, so you don’t have to read this one.

I enjoyed parts of this. The fight scenes were especially good.

Other Man and Other Woman drama is the core story here, so if you hate that, stay away. There is a fake out dream scene – we are subjected to a sex scene with OM. Even if it isn’t real, we still had to read it.

If you enjoy OM/OW drama, go for it!

I would love to read the third book the author planned, but she seems to have disappeared from the book world around 2012.