For What It's Worth

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mini reviews: Seduction for hire

I read three books in a row, purely by coincidence, that all involved a women making a deal with a man to help her with her sex/romantic life.

This isn’t a premise I usually enjoy. It seems very cliché and we usually know exactly where the story is headed so no big surprises. Yet all three authors told their stories in a way that made me forget those expectations so I could just kick back and enjoy.

Curio (Curio #1) by Cara McKenna
Caroly Evardt never expected to find herself patronizing a male prostitute. Then again, she never expected to be weeks from her thirtieth birthday and still a virgin.

When a friend mentions that a gorgeous male model in Paris sells his body as well as his image, Caroly's intrigued. Finally, a chance to sample the gifts of a beautiful man—no strings, no stakes, no fear of rejection.

But she soon discovers that Didier Pedra amounts to more than a striking face and talented body. He's a kind, charming, damaged man, and after a few evenings of pleasurable education, Caroly's interest blossoms into something far deeper than mere lust. Her simple arrangement is suddenly feeling downright dangerous. ~  Goodreads

My thoughts:  I read this book last week and there hasn't been one day since that I haven't thought of Caroly and Didier.

Erotica is always hit or miss for me. I'm not a prude when it comes to sex scenes but I need a relationship and plot not just hot sex.

On author Cara McKenna's Goodreads profile, her erotica is described as "A little dark, a little funny, always emotional." 

I could not agree more. The story of Caroly and Dedier is so straightforward. A virgin visits the most well known male prostitute in Paris so she can learn from the best but the writing elevates this story to so much more.

Time and time again what you think you are reading is upended. Is Didier just fulfilling Caroly's fantasies or is he beginning to lose himself in his own fantasy? Is she the shy student now becoming the teacher? The dynamics change constantly. A small, humorous, unrelated story told between two lovers reveals yet another layer and comes around full circle later in the story.

If you've been curious to try erotica I would highly recommend Curio. The sex is deeply sensual and exploratory rather than raunchy. Both characters are stripped emotionally bare and I found that far sexier than any explicit language. I guess I would describe it as the thinking girl's erotica or maybe even psychological erotica. There is as much talking and revelations as there are hot sex scenes.

Curio is novella length and will be followed by five related stories called "Curio vignettes" that continue Caroly and Didier's journey.

Author: Website | TwitterBuy the book! Curio

All Summer Long (Fool's Gold #9) by Susan Mallery

Former underwear model turned entrepreneur Clay Stryker has loved, tragically lost and vowed that he'll never risk his heart again. After making his fortune, the youngest of the rugged Stryker brothers returns to Fool's Gold, California, to put down roots on a ranch of his own. But he's frustrated to discover that even in his hometown, people see him only for his world-famous… assets.

Firefighter Chantal (Charlie) Dixon grew up an ugly duckling beside her delicately beautiful mother, a feeling reinforced long ago by a man who left soul-deep scars. Now she has good friends, a solid job and the itch to start a family—yet she can't move toward the future while she's haunted by painful memories.

Clay finds an unexpected ally, and unexpected temptation, in tomboyish Charlie, the only person who sees beyond his dazzling good looks to the real man beneath. But when Charlie comes to him with an indecent proposal, will they be able to overcome their pasts and find a love that lasts beyond one incredible summer? ~ Goodreads

My thoughts: This was a really sweet story but didn't quite resonate with me. I loved how nice Clay was despite being a hunky former "underwear/ass model". He wasn't arrogant and in fact has his own problems being taken seriously as a business man and volunteer firefighter when he returns home to Fool's Gold.

Charlie is so damaged from her rape 10 years ago and especially how her cold, callus mother reacted to it that she hasn't been able to let a man even kiss her. She just wants to feel normal and have a future that includes a husband and children.

Clay and Charlie enter an agreement where he helps her get over her fear of men while she helps him be taken seriously at the fire department she works at.

I just really had a problem with Clay agreeing to help Charlie with something so serious without professional help. He is a fantastic guy and to his credit researches victims of rape and how to approach her but it seems so serious to me with potential to harm rather than heal. I guess I needed to let that go and just trust that this is a contemporary romance - it will all be fine.

The real problem comes when Clay realizes he's falling for Charlie. He's a widower and the thought of losing another woman after letting himself care again terrifies him. It was resolved a little too quickly for me.

I didn't love All Summer Long but I did love Clay and Charlie. It was still a very good and touching story.

Author: Website
Buy the book! All Summer Long (Fool's Gold)

Seducing Cinderella (Fighting for Love #1) by Gina L. Maxwell

Mixed martial arts fighter Reid Andrews’s chance to reclaim his title as light heavyweight champ is shattered when he’s injured only months before the rematch.
 To make sure he’s healed in time, his trainer sends him to recuperate under a professional’s care—Reid’s best friend’s little sister, all grown up.

Disorganized and bookish Lucie Miller needs some professional help of her own. She’d do anything to catch the eye of a doctor she’s crushed on for years, so when Reid offers seduction lessons in exchange for 24/7 conditioning for the biggest fight of his career, Lucie jumps at the chance.

Soon Reid finds him himself in the fight of his life...winning Lucie's heart before she gives it to someone else. Goodreads

My thoughts: Sexy, sexy and did I mention sexy? This is supposed to be a twist on the Cinderella tale but it could have just as easily been The Ugly Duckling as well.

Plain Jane, physical therapist Lucie Miller makes a deal with Reid to show her the fine art of seduction in return for personal one on one rehabilitation to get back him to fighting condition in record time.

Reid and Lucie have incredible chemistry and I loved how even though Reid was helping give Lucie a make over to help her snag the Dr. of her dreams (grrr - hated him) she kept noticing all the little, wonderful things about Reid. C'mon! He picks up trash instead of walking it around it like a certain Dr. (grrr - I repeat - hated him) No one likes a litter bug. Reid is tough and alpha but nice.

Seducing Cinderella kind of plays buy the genre  rules and you know exactly where it's going but you enjoy the ride anyway.

Since Reid and Lucie already know each other from childhood you can believe their easy connection to each other. I was less accepting of the idea of sleeping with Reid to get it "out of the way" so she's ready for the asshole - um I mean Dr. Seriously… if you are in love with a man you don't *practice* with someone else. But alas….things don't always makes sense on the path to true love in booklandia.  Just go with it. It's a fun story.

This is the first book in the Fighting for Love series - the men are all MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters and I wish we could have gotten more of a glimpse into that world. Maybe we will in the future installments.

Seducing Cinderella is on the lighter side – fun and sexy but with strong emotion and I can’t wait to see who’s story is next.

Author: Website | Twitter
Buy the book! Seducing Cinderella


  1. This is a hugely helpful review! I have Curio but stopped about halfway through because it was making me uncomfortable and I wondered if it would be worth it in the end. A lot of reviewers ended up liking it a lot but I wasn't sure if I should go there - maybe I ought to give it a try again.

    I don't normally read Susan Mallory but this keeps popping up in my recommendations list at Amazon and was wondering if I should just go for it for another one of my non-serious adult contemporary reads. Maybe not - I don't know if I could get past the rape counseling issue, that's a hot one for me.

    Seducing Cinderella is the hugeone! Everyone I know has been telling me I have to get it but of all things, that cover bugs me and I haven't picked it up yet. I haven't seen any reviews of it "in the wild" outside of Goodreads and wondered if it was actually being read by bloggers. I read a couple of MMA books a little bit ago by Kele Moon and thought they were fun - I'm definitely going to give this one a try.

    Awesome reviews!

    1. Curio made me uncomfortable too and it's not really something I would typically read. If you've only made it halfway though I would give it another go because things really change.
      It still might not be for you but it made all the difference to me.

      Susan's was from a series but I've never read anything by her before and I didn't feel lost at all. The two main characters are so nice and good for each other but I just kept wondering about all the ways that could go horribly wrong in real life.

      I wish there was more MMA in Seducing Cinderella because I don't know much about it but I enjoyed this one. I'll have to check out Kele Moon.

  2. SEDUCING CINDERELLA! I had read about that and questioned whether or not to read it. It's sexy and emotionally driven? Okay, now I have to read it.

    1. I think you would like this one for one of your *adult* reads!

  3. Yet all three authors told their stories in a way that made me forget those expectations so I could just kick back and enjoy.coaching seduction