Book Review

Review: As Hot as It Gets by Elle Kennedy

B-

Title: As Hot as It Gets
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publication Info: Samhain Publishing 2014
ISBN: 9781619221338
Genre: Erotica/Erotic Romance

As Hot as It Gets - shirt open, muscled chest, jeans low on hips, very very waxed and mascapedThe things that Elle Kennedy does well – internal conflict, understandable emotion, logical attraction, interesting characters – are terrific in this book. Unfortunately for me, and I place the blame for this on myself and not anyone else, I still struggle to suspend disbelief when reading erotic romance, for a few reasons I'll explain in a moment. I'm going to go into some detail about the aspects of this book and some aspects about erotic romance that I struggle with, but first and most importantly, I really, really enjoyed this story, and I think Kennedy is a talented writer who can invent characters I care about. 

Mia is a landscaper/gardener who is raising her younger brother after their mom dropped him off for two weeks and never came back. Mia is ten years older than her brother, and to keep up with the food and the shelter needs, she works as a landscaper, taking on as much work as she physically can. Her brother is a varsity starting quarterback for the high school football team, plus he's a dude, and he's 16, so he eats a lot. They have a pretty good relationship, and are getting along well when the hero, Jackson, enters their lives. I really liked their relationship, and that it had normal conflict and moments of affection.

Jackson is one of a team of Navy SEALs (of course he is!) (no, really, the whole series is set among a SEAL team) (of course it is!) who in previous books have all been paired off with women (or in one case, a woman and a dude). Jackson is the last one left.

Instead of crowing about his single status and giving the other guys shit about how they're all tied down and tempting fate by saying he'll never fall prey to love like they did, he acknowledges to himself that he feels left out and wishes he had someone to be with as well.

CUE THE LIGHTS. IT'S TIME, DUDE!

Jackson bumps into Mia while she's finishing a landscaping job next door to one of Jackson's teammates. Jackson arranges for her to work on their yard as a belated wedding gift so that he can ask Mia out. I really, really liked that Mia called him on the stalker-y ness of that arrangement, and how she wasn't entirely sure she wanted to go near someone who'd manipulate her professionally like that, but she gives him a chance. And she meets him at the restaurant instead of having him pick her up at her home. There's a long line of little tiny moments like that which indicated the strength of Mia's determination to do the right thing, and take care of herself and her brother.

Their date is a great success from Mia's perspective, and Jackson's as well. Mia likes Jackson, Jackson likes Mia, and they go from acquaintances to talking frankly about sex before their entrees even arrive. What, like you don't confess all your sexual hangups on the first date over appetizers? It's not erotic romance if you don't discuss peen piercings and orgasms on the first date, within the first half hour, eh?

Later, Jackson decides to give Mia a kiss in the parking lot, which escalates quickly to his getting her off so rapidly she had no idea what had happened, and couldn't believe her body responded the way it did.

And this is where I confess that I think something is wrong with me where erotic romance is concerned. There are a few things I Do Not Get. This is one of them.

How is it that in so many erotic romances, including this one, the heroine's body is some sort of magical instrument that the hero instinctively knows how to play, and play well? Moreover, how is it that the heroine's sexual response is sometimes something that is out of her control, and completely apart from her own motivations? I see this in a lot of erotic stories, and I Do Not Get It: She doesn't like him… but her panties are trying to hold back class five white water rapids of arousal whenever he's near! She hates him but her body responds to his touch! Really?

In this case, Mia does not hate Jackson at all. And he's not disrespectful to her or callous or even condescending about her sexual concerns about her own libido, which they discussed frankly on their first date because… well, because they did.

But while Mia wants to be cautious and careful emotionally with Jackson, her body responds so quickly, it's like there are two votes for each woman, and if her head says Well…. and her body says HELL YEAH, it's game on, romance hero. Either the hero can instinctively read her sexual response with greater accuracy than she can, or his ample silo of experience allows him to understand her arousal and her specific sexual desires than she does, but the result is the same.

For example, from this book:

This woman liked to be dominated. She might not know it, not consciously anyway, but her body's responses to his commanding nature told him everything he needed to know. 

Wait, really?

Is this a recasting of sexual initiation, where the heroine couldn't find her own clitoris with a flashlight and a map but the hero will show her the way to perfect passion on the first try? Only now, instead of initiation into sex, it's initiation into being dominated? He can instinctively sense that she wants to be dominated, and it's an unconscious thing that she's not aware of, but he's definitely right?

I am not buying it.

I probably think too much about this, and it's not even as if it's a huge part of this particular book, though there are two moments that stick in my mind as I try to explain my mixed feelings (I'll post the other in a bit). Mia's body and brain line up pretty quickly to admitting they both desire Jackson, but the separation of body/sexual response from mental/emotional response confuses me. And the moments of separation of sexual attraction into mind vs. body detracts from the part I loved loved loved, which was that initially, Mia's reason for not wanting to get involved was that she simply did not have time, energy, or space in her life for a relationship with anyone. And I liked that Jackson's response was, basically, I'll take any time you're willing to share because I really like you. (Now that, beg your pardon, is seriously freaking hot.)

So Mia and Jackson are sort of seeing each other, but mostly for sex, because Jackson gives Mia all the best orgasms, and Jackson likes being his kinky, dominant self with her. In addition to the conflict of Mia having time in her life, what also pushed me past my 0_o? confusion about the erotic romance elements was the honest and realistic conflicts each character faced, both in their own lives, and in what they were trying to create together. The internal conflict for Mia and Jackson was what connected me to them, and Kennedy is pretty skilled at taking otherwise ordinary circumstances and making them seem like real and sizable problems. They aren't small problems inflated into monster size for the sake of the plot, and they're not contrived problems that drop in when there's too many pages between “right now” and “The End.”

Mia is raising her brother by herself, and started parenthood when her brother was 14. Now he's 16, and she's 26, and they're both working really hard to make their lives as comfortable as possible. Jackson has family problems as well, which are distant given that his family is in Texas and they're in San Diego, but those problems still press on him uncomfortably at regular intervals, especially when he sees the relationship Mia works so hard to have with her brother.

Mia is the one who wants nothing permanent. Mia doesn't trust people easily, and she doesn't trust herself to become emotionally connected to anyone, mostly because her mother is a deplorable person not deserving of the title. She's had exactly zero good examples of stable and secure relationships except for the one she's created for her brother, and is fearful of being hurt by someone she trusted. At one point, Jackson starts ruminating on how he wants Mia to be a real and defined part of his life, not just a fling, and starts strategizing how he can make that happen – though he only lets her into his life to a point. Later in the story, Mia's brother notices that Jackson has started growing a beard. He's growing the beard because of the possibility of deployment to the Middle East, but doesn't really explain what that means, how long it might be, what would happen for Mia if he does leave suddenly – he just assures her she doesn't have to worry because deployment probably won't happen. Dude. iIf you want a serious grown-up relationship, part of that is explaining to the people you care about — both of them — what your job means and how it might affect them. I don't expect Jackson to give up military secrets, but an explanation other than, “I don't think you have to worry,” wasn't enough.

SEAL secrets aside, the conflicts large and small that influence and interfere with Jackson and Mia's relationship were the best part of this story. It can be difficult to take ordinary life problems and make them real enough in a story that they sustain narrative tension while allowing the characters to change and grow. There are mad skills up in here.

But this brings me to the other thing that I struggled with in this book and Do Not Get  (and again, I'm laying the blame here solely and entirely on myself):

Erotic romance language and I are clearly not meant to be. The ways in which the hero and heroine's attraction to one another were explained and developed were familiar, and still baffling.

For example, while Jackson says perfectly charming and normal human things while he's talking to Mia, the narration of what I presume are his thoughts – or close to them – is very different:

Her chest heaved as she released another exasperated sigh, drawing his gaze to her breasts. They were smaller than he usually liked, just a gentle swell of cleavage peeking out of the bodice of her dress, but something about those perky little mounds made his mouth water.

Lord, he wanted to fuck her. Getting to know her better had been the number one item on his agenda, but now that was joined by a hefty dose of desire. He wanted her naked.

Perky little mounds? Mouth water? That is a way people think? Or is that the way erotic romance heroes think?

Later on:

He traced the swell of each mound with his finger, then undid the front clasp and exposed her to his gaze. Her breasts were indeed small, but they were damn perky, with pearly-pink nipples that made his mouth water.

Ok, time out. Are they breasts or are they a platter of hot wings?

Do people really think like this? Is this a thing that people do?

Then there's the moment when Jackson explains that he likes to be in control when having sex, that he likes to dominate, direct and control the action, and he's plenty kinky.

Except, instead of having a serious conversation about this, it's while the sexytimes are going down – which I really struggle with because, as I learned, the person who is doing the dominating really should not be the only source of information about what should and should not happen. It's not like Jackson breaks out the ropes without a safe word in place, but the degree of command and expectation that arose (hur) in the sex scenes was irritating because there was no discussion beforehand:

“Are you sure about that, sugar? Because once we get on this ride, I won't let you get off.” He flashed a roguish grin. “Well, you will get off. but what I'm sayin' is, we will see this through 'til the end.”

Mia swallowed. “What exactly do you plan on doing to me?”

“Everything,” he said simply. “And you're gonna let me. You're gonna give me full control. When we're naked and alone, I call the shots.”

Another gulp. “And if I don't like something?”

“Then I stop.” The sensual smile returned to his lips. “But I guarantee you'll like it all. You'll beg for more every time.”


In this scene, Jackson recognizes Mia's hesitation, and proposes that they take it slow, that he'll “do a little warm up” which consists of his telling her “You're gonna blow me,” which Mia agrees to and finds that she likes, especially the commanding part:

She couldn't believe she was letting him order her around like this.

She couldn't believe it was turning her on.


It's not that I didn't think Mia consented. I absolutely think she did, that she was willing to do what Jackson was saying, and that she could have said no or stopped. But what I didn't like was that he was going to tell her what to do without discussing things in more detail first. His sexual knowledge is superior to hers, and of course his knowledge of what she wants and needs sexually is superior to hers as well – and the “I know your body and I know what you want better than you do….” Yeah, doesn't work for me.

ALSO: Can we stop with “blacking out the orgasm was so good” as a sexual device? If she's blacked out and he's banging her, that is NOT OK.

Mia must have blacked out. She didn't remember climaxing, wasn't sure how she got on her back, didn't know how Jackson's cock had wound up inside her, but her limp muscles and the unbearable pleasure pricking her flesh told her she'd come, and come hard.

Nope nope nope. Nope.

Also, also, do Navy SEALs sit around and talk about how much sex they're having with their wives? Their sex lives were almost public information within the group, and dude, I get that these people will save your life a billion times before you're dead but the degree to which they talk about the sex they're getting was bizarre to me:

“Hey, just cuz my wife is pregnant doesn't mean we don't have wild and crazy sex every night. With that said…” He flashed a smug grin, his blue eyes gleaming…. “It's time for me to go home and do some of that. “

Cash, Seth and Ryan followed suit, polishing off their beers in a rush.

“Yeah, I'm outtie, too,” Seth announced. “My wife is a million times more interesting than you dumbasses. Besides, she lost a bet this morning so she owes me a BJ.”

The foursome bumped fists with everyone and said their goodbyes….

I'm not saying people should never talk about sex – that's not something I would say, ever. My problem is the way in which their sex lives were publicly shared and discussed. I get that there is a very deep (hur) and instinctive level of trust between the men in this series – there has to be, given what they do. But the way in which the female characters are introduced and then discussed made it seem that, after they had their happy ending as heroines, their job as former heroines fell solely within the context of sexxytimes and blow jobs. That was their role, and the frequency thereof was going to be not just locker room talk, but front porch with a beer with all the guys talk. And in the night club talk. It's like the distant and terrible cousin of the Bechdel Test: Does the erotic romance feature two or more former or present heroes discussing their relationships in terms of how much sex they're getting, and/or how good it is?

I realize I sound like a very pinch-faced whiner right now, and I want to be clear that it's not the sex that's the problem. It's the way the sexuality is discussed (“my wife owes me a BJ“) and the language with which increasing sexual attraction is explained (“pert mouthwatering mounds“). To me, it seems like a huge and sudden departure from the way people normally talk. Maybe I'm missing out and there's some secret society of sexually frank and excellently endowed Navy SEALs, or maybe this is the way erotic romance characters talk, but I loved the realism of the characters in this story SO MUCH. Yherefore, I kept being yanked out of the story by the And Now We Talk About the Sexy Perky Mouth Watering Peen Piercing Blow Job dialogue.

I get that part of the goal in erotic romance is to highlight and intensify the sexuality of the story, because to be successful erotic romance, the story can't really hold together without the sexuality. That's certainly true of this book: without the sexuality, especially Jackson's sexuality, most of the major plot points and pieces of backstory wouldn't hold together at all (I can't give away too much without spoiling things, sorry). I think in my case, I need to adjust my expectations that in erotic romance, the characters will occasionally think and speak in Erotic Romance Language.

As for this particular book, which I enjoyed and which also enabled me to identify and articulate what pieces of erotic romance are bothersome for me as a reader, I liked the story, and I loved the characters and the conflict. The ending arrives somewhat too easily, and the resolution of all the fallout of the dark moment came very quickly when compared to the slow development of the relationships in the beginning of the story, but despite that (and the Erotic Romance Dialogue bits), I would definitely recommend this book to erotic romance and contemporary spicy romance fans. My problems with it are my problems, not problems with the book itself.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Sarah Winter says:

    I have the same problem with erotic romances. I’ll be tooling along, reading a good book and all of a sudden the language and dialogue trips me up. It happens a lot. I don’t think sex should be thought about that much. I think sex is something to be DONE, not discussed and pored over while it should just be happening. I can’t say that I’ve had many coherent thoughts mid-coitus.

    If a man ever dreamt of telling me what I was going to let him do to me, all he’d get would be blueballs.

    Guys are guys, and they talk about sex a lot. So do women, TBH. But if I ever found out that my sex life with hubs was being discussed like “She lost a bet and owes me a BJ,” or “I’m leaving you guys to go nail my wife,” I would be sorely disappointed. There’d be some splainin’ to do.

  2. 2
    Jill-Marie says:

    It’s difficult enough reading a not-well-plotted erotic … just imagine listening to it. With a male voice actor. Seriously. I cringe and cannot help wondering what he’s doing with his hands. I’m just saying!

  3. 3

    Because when you write an erotic romance, the initial attraction is the physical. (More often than not. Of course there are exceptions, there are always exceptions).
    But the physical attraction then turns to love during the course of the book. Sometimes the raunchiest scenes are at the beginning, as the couple get together, find out that they work, and then have fun for a bit. Or just hot sex.
    Yes, sometimes authors overdo it, and do the “instalust” thing, where bodies fit and things just work. But hey, it happened to me in real life. More than once (clears throat and moves on quickly). Not all those times turned to something more meaningful.
    And then there are the “fated mates” series which I don’t usually enjoy, because it seems a bit like cheating. I’m working with a series at the moment in which couples do get the fated mates thing, but don’t always get on. They just need each other to survive, because what would happen then? You’re married to someone else but you have to make room for your mate in your life, otherwise you’ll die?
    But what you said? Yeah. If I thought hubs was talking about our sex life like that, he’d be waiting an awful long time for his BJ or even sharing the same bed for a while.
    I love Suz Brockmann’s heroines, who take active parts in the stories and continue to do so (yay, Alyssa!) When you think about it, they’re the kind of women who would be more likely to win and keep a SEAL.

  4. 4
    Dora says:

    The “hero knows the heroine’s body better than she does” trope is one I always found a little concerning because it always feels borderline rape-y to me. Like even if she were genuinely reluctant, he could override that because he “knows what she wants better than she does”. And, hell, it happens a lot. The woman is reluctant, maybe even dislikes the guy, but he pushes and dominates her, and EVENTUALLY she gives in and likes it, but holy hell is it unsettling in the beginning. It’s like no doesn’t mean no unless he decides it does, because even if she doesn’t want to, he can “read the signs of her body” and know what she REALLY wants. I think I primarily have an issue with this because so many erotic novel heroes are presented as extremely dominant alpha males who don’t take no for an answer anyway.

    I think as far as the language goes in terms of descriptions, however, is that a lot of people don’t actually think in terms of worded descriptions when it comes to sex. You don’t look at a woman’s breasts and go “Those look like soft, swelling peaches covered in silky cream that make my mouth water”, you just go, “Awesome” and mentally register them as being such. Authors don’t get to do that, and I think sexual desire being such a base instinct, it’s harder to come up with accurate worded descriptions that encompass that feeling you get when you’re looking at something attractive or whatever. You might look at a hot guy at get a jolt of greedy desire, but when you stop to think about it, actually articulating that in a way that fits an erotic romance novel narrative is probably really hard, because if you were just talking to your friend you might say “I wanna climb him like a tree”, but narratives expect more than that, so authors probably struggle trying to convey simple feelings and base desire in more elaborate imagery. (Also why you get “She felt as if she was being pushed over a peak and drowning in bottomless pools of pleasure” and so forth so often. It’s just hard to articulate in a way without cliche because so many other things fail to get the point across or are just too simplistic for a flowery narrative.)

  5. 5
    Charlotte says:

    Reading your review reminded me of my teens and stealing my mom’s books that she kept locked up in her bedroom. The Hero had sex with the virgin heroine and she screamed climaxed and passed out going wild for hero. Then heroine gets kidnapped and raped by bad guys. She has wild orgasmic rape sex. They describe the bad guys as old and bad breath, but heroine can’t control herself. If it has a penis she gets off. And fast. Men are all powerful and women are just a vessel for the male to pleasure with his golden penis. Even if the rest of him is old and fat.

    I have noticed that the latest erotica is reminding me of these old 1960’s and 1970’s romance epics that used to be so popular. I don’t like it when the hero controls the heroine with sex. I much prefer the story line of the female controlling the male. But, that is my little fantasy…. 

    I guess everything comes back around and I find that the NEW erotica is just a re-run of the old 1970’s stuff with body piercings.

    Don’t get me wrong. I read erotica all the time. My library has a huge selection that I can download at any time. But, I really would like it a little better if the man had to work at getting the heroine off just a little harder. One fluttering finger and a deep kiss don’t do it for me. But, I guess that is why people call me picky.

  6. 6
    Linda says:

    The author is Canadian. Not a slam on Canada but other similar Canadian authors are just too flowery, weird, or over the top with with the erotic verbiage. I know it.s difficult but their projection of The American male psyche is sometimes just too over the top. In this series they all swap or “tag team”. It’s a little too much. The grammar kills me… Lots of S’up and knuckle bumps..

  7. 7
    Sarina Bowen says:

    So many interesting points here. And there’s one more thing you didn’t mention, which always sets my wheels turning. From your review I gather that this book follows the typical close-third-person-alternating-POV structure of contemp romance. Which means that the female author is writing a man’s POV for a female audience.

    Of course, this is true of 95% of the romances I read (and write.) And I’m fine with it. But it leaves me asking whether the author’s goal was to reproduce (hur) an accurate replication of the male psyche,

    or

    rather a male psyche genetically engineered to flatter the female reader? (Breasts which are small but utterly irresistible! And this bit really should speak to me, since I buy my bras in the children’s department of Target.)

  8. 8
    Emily says:

    This is such a great, thought-provoking post.  And Sabrina, I’ve wondered the same thing…questions are always in the back of my mind when there’s talk of mouths watering or guys imagining nipple color/size appearance, etc. whether these thoughts actually go through someone’s mind.

  9. 9

    So, I can give you the bit about no blackout sex.  The instinctive control part hwoever?  Yes, I do instinctively know when my partner wants to be controlled, usually after we’ve discussed it, or I’ve spent plenty of time around them.  So I can again understand your complaint about it in erotic romances, at least in the time frame.  But in honesty, this is something readers tend to forget, the time frame is only about 400 pages long, usually.  Room enough on the page does NOT exist to draw things out.

    As to talk?  Why yes, I do think of things in the way they’re described, but again that may be the writer in me.  Also, sadly *sigh* men (and women) do talk about sex very frankly.  It’s real.  So, it works here, at least from my viewpoint.

    Kudos for an excellent review and post!  Things that make this romance author think!

  10. 10
    Rei Scar says:

    @Sascha Illyvich – The thing is that even if I get the sense that someone might want me to take charge, I would never act on that sense without talking about it first. You might be wrong. You might be right, but the person you’re with might have the urge and never want to act on it. Presuming on a hunch like that could be really damaging, and I find the number of stories that kind of gloss over that kind of disturbing.

    Regarding “your body is the instrument I was born knowing how to play”: Yeah, I can understand why erotic romance authors often want to skip any hint of initial awkward fumbling around of the “oops, didn’t realise you were that ticklish” variety – although I don’t necessarily agree with it – but I do get kind of impatient with stories like that where one partner (usually the hero) knows everything about the other person’s body the second they touch. I mean, sometimes you do connect with people in a way that makes that kind of thing easier, but I have never, ever had chemistry with someone that was so good that they immediately knew exactly what to do to me for the best possible results, and…can’t finding those things out be part of the fun? It’s not really sexual exploration if it reads like someone’s just handed the hero a map, is all I’m sayin’.

    I do realise that book length can kind of limit this stuff, but…I dunno. I suppose I just wish there could be more stories where the focus is different.

  11. 11

    So I could write a really long piece about this review, but it basically boils down to I agree w/Sarah’s general points. I haven’t read this book in particular – but the whole military or paramilitary guys sit around and talk about sex a lot WITH SPECIFIC PARTNERS thing has never rung true for me, whether it’s SEALS or some black ops group doing outside the law stuff.

    Maybe this is because I’m a woman – maybe they were all totally and completely saying “my wife owes me a BJ” as soon as I left the room – but none of the people I used to know in the special operators community would have talked about their wives or serious love interests like that. Teased each other about a hookup, sure, I heard some of that. But these are by and large intensely private and generally very, very quiet people. Sure, they joke among themselves about EVERYTHING but these are people who know boundaries. Oh, do they know boundaries – a guy who cannot even tell his wife or child where or when he is leaving, or with whom, or when he’ll be back is perfectly capable of keeping his sexual activities to himself and away from his teammates. And they do. They understand respect, and they super-understand what their spouses go through when they’re deployed, and that sharing private information about their spouses violates that trust.

    I understand that erotic romance may require a certain amount of that type of talk among male characters – especially if the story is that the women are all into sharing/menage, etc. This type of plot – and I don’t want to say Elle Kennedy in particular, b/c men talking about what other men are doing is rampant in the whole subgenre – may not be the author’s first choice, but they’ve been conditioned to it by editors and what is supposedly successful in the genre.

    However there are also plenty of writers who manage to write super-military guys with hot sex and don’t have them sharing info like a seventeen-year-old. And the non-military or paramilitary erotic romances don’t have so much over-sharing among the male characters.

    I really don’t know WHY this has become a trope, unless it’s shorthand for “male bonding” when in fact true bonding among teammates is so much more complex.

    I think most special ops guys wouldn’t trust someone who talked so freely and graphically about private matters w/his wife – it would build a suspicion that in tough circumstances, that guy wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut about anything.

    Just my two cents.

  12. 12
    Cordy says:

    I always have a hard time with the thing where dudes in books casually chat with each other about how much they enjoy boning their wives. An interesting point from Anna about how maybe authors get conditioned to do that for various reasons, because I have often wondered where it comes from, and if anyone reading actually enjoys it. I think it’s supposed to give the reader a frisson of “Wouldn’t it be awesome if this high-status male bragged about me to other high-status males”, but it certainly doesn’t work on my brain.

    As someone who married a soldier, I have an especially hard time seeing this written about men in very tight military communities. I don’t think it’s a very accurate portrayal of how things work, which has seemed to me more like the men have a two-tiered system for talking about women: people do say things I consider pretty oversharey (and often, to be frank, disrespectful) about women they are casually pursuing or casually dating, but I think the wall of privacy really comes down when they’re talking about their serious girlfriend or wife. That’s basically how you know a certain kind of man is really into a lady, that he gets kind of stern and quiet about her. Which is probably something worthy of an elaborate feminist unpacking, yes, but I don’t think that’s what authors are trying to do with this, is it? It’s just so confusing to me, that the men in some of these scenes talk about the woman they love more like the ways men in real life talk about women they are not super respectful of. And then all the other men are like “Awesome.” instead of “Whoa, dude, that is… not okay. I don’t want to know that about your wife.”

    Confusing! I don’t understand the belief that readers are clamoring for these scenes, because I would certainly not feel flattered if my spouse did this sort of thing.

  13. 13

    Cordy!

    Exactly.

    (And you might like my military guys, just saying – totally not even talking aboutcaptain’s wife’s postpartum depression and team has to be on the QT about that, and then there’s the moment where hero stops joking and goes all stern on his commander, EXACTLY like you said. You put it even better than I could have.)

  14. 14
    jane says:

    I have a fair amount of problems with erotic romances and these are just a few. You’re spot on about Kennedy creating emotional, realistic situations and characters. I’m really enjoying her Midnight series and can’t wait for the fourth one. The second was just ok but Trevor and Isabella’s story was excellent. Those stories also have plenty of sex scenes.

    I feel that the erotic series, though . . . first of all, this Navy Seal group is so incestuous. It’s really not normal that they’ve all slept with each other’s spouses and continue to bring it up and talk about it. Why would you tell an entire group of coworkers, basically, that you slept with so and so’s wife? They just discussed it like it was normal. There were so many threesomes it was really annoying and just gross. I started to think she just added them in because. Her best stories were the ones without the threesomes and characters with real angst – like the single mother of two and the seal who’s brother had been killed (blanking on names or book title). That’s where her true storytelling is.

    I also really dislike the I-didn’t-know-wanted-it-until-he-told/showed-me. Um, no.

    I understand that she wants to include the male perspective and I would probably be looking for it if she didn’t, but I’m with everyone else—men don’t think/talk this way, at least not with their coworkers. And despite them being friends, that’s really what they are- coworkers. I just didn’t like how it became one incestuous group.

  15. 15
    Kelly S. says:

    It’s not just you.

  16. 16
    Cordy says:

    Thanks, Anna! I just bought it and am eagerly awaiting kid bedtime to start on it.

  17. 17
    Cordy says:

    I started your book this evening, Anna. I’m only about 20% in, but oh my goodness. It’s like you’ve written the military romance I always wish military romances would be! And I love love love the bits where other men on Wulf’s team are alternately teasing and warning him, and then the bits where he gets very tense and kind of offended about them teasing him. This, this, that’s exactly right, that kind of awkward/tender protectiveness. So great! In fact, I am loving it in a kind of surprised way – I’ve tried so many military romances and I always find that they get the “feel” of the military setting fundamentally wrong. So this is a treat. I love that Theresa is a soldier and a professional and not romance-stupid about her career (I mean, actually has serious conversations about fraternizing and so forth) while also being a “regular woman”, not an elite assassin, do you know what I mean? Anyway. I’m enjoying it, and wanted to mention it as worth checking out for anyone who shares the “Why are all these special forces guys always talking about giving it to their wives? This is really un-hot.” issue.

  18. 18
    Pet says:

    You are so right.I have the same problems with ER.
    I would like to add to the list -

    1.wild monkey sex after traumatic event and
    2.con sex with the hero who kidnapped the heroine(Burning up Flint- Lauran Dohner).
    LDohner books are good but there are things Id like to avoid if possible.

  19. 19

    Thanks Cordy! Warning though – it gets much more paranormal-y in the second half … a little bit of split personality.

  20. 20

    It irks that you keep saying it’s not the book, it’s you.  I can buy into the unexpected orgasm, but there’s some kind of thing about love, and lust, and grace, and romance, and maybe even seduction. I have never been okay with the fact that “Romance” has to have the HEA. But, having a guy basically say he is gonna put his dick in my mouth and that’s that doesn’t seem at all tempting or romantic or fun or sexy or, for that matter, even polite to me.

  21. 21
    LauraL says:

    Sarah’s review and comments read here and elsewhere, and, uh the cover, piqued my interest, so I ended up purchasing As Hot As It Gets last night and am about half-way through the book. I am a long-time reader of historical romances, especially Regencies, and also snuck peeks at the bodice rippers left around the house by my mother back in the 70s. In the past year or so I started reading more contemporary romances than historicals and am new to erotic romances. Just wasn’t aware of how much erotica was out there until I had a Kindle and started shopping. Whoa! I share some of the same feelings I’ve seen in the review and comments. In general, I think sex scenes should move along the story, whether they are out there or behind closed doors. And I don’t think my husband would use the description “mouth watering” in his mind.

    Which brings me to the SEALS, and I guess all these other hot military guys, showing up in novels these days and sweeping away inexperienced women. Being a Regency reader, I’m seeing them as today’s equivalent of the rogues and rakes, who eventually find a good woman who tame them.

    I appreciate the comments from Anna Richland and Cordy, and the service to our country. One of my co-workers is retired military and is the glue in our team, and sets the tone for decorum. He is the best one to bring in when we don’t want to risk us weaker types telling our clients too much. So, this supported my feeling that “screw and tell” was shorthand for male bonding.

    All my ramblings aside, I really enjoyed the roadtrip to Irvine scene and was laughing out loud this evening. And I appreciate the development of the relationships between Mia and Jackson, and Danny and Jackson. Elle Kennedy does well with the characterizations and I was drawn into the story immediately.  I think I have to find out more about Dylan after reading Jackson’s story.

    By the way, the 24-year-old me would have found Jackson irresistible….

  22. 22

    My husband spent six months with Seal Team Eight, three of those on a barge in the Persian Gulf.  I can pass any of your questions along to him if you’d like, but based on his homecoming, I’d say they spend a lot of time talking about sex.  (He was Navy but not a SEAL.)

  23. 23
    Cordy says:

    “I guess all these other hot military guys, showing up in novels these days and sweeping away inexperienced women. Being a Regency reader, I’m seeing them as today’s equivalent of the rogues and rakes, who eventually find a good woman who tame them.”

    I think that’s a great insight! I, too, am primarily a reader of (Regency and Victorian) historical romances, and that sounds exactly right, that it pushes the “He just needs one good woman” button, which, as embarrassing of a button as it is, I totally have. But it also explains why I find some of the aspects of this stuff so weird (the bragging to each other about the private sexytimes – the constant up in each other’s business about how other peoples’ relationships are going): a historical romance rake is attractive, to me at least, in part because he generally adheres to a fairly rigid code of behavior, it’s just that the code is situational. So wenching and boozing, sure, but also frowny and disapproving about people being rude: very strict divisions between hot private sex and talking to his friends about his wife. Certainly I find it hard to imagine some of my favorite historical heroes bragging about getting oral pleasures from their lady wife!

    As a historical romance fan, I’ve had a hard time getting into contemporary romances. Part of what I enjoy about romances is the stretch of unresolved sexual tension before people get together, and I don’t find a lot of that in contemporary romances, especially the very sexy/erotic ones. It’s not that I’m opposed to very sexy sex scenes (no, sir), but I’ve found that something about books where people have sex in the first couple of chapters and then try to work out if they like each other or not doesn’t easily work for my brain. Maybe because it undercuts the “will they or won’t they” tension, because, obviously, they already have and will keep doing so.

    To be fair to contemporaries, re: the “screw and tell”/male bonding shorthand phenomenon, I have also noticed that in a lot of historical series romances about all the siblings in a large family or a group of brothers at arms and so on, you definitely get, in later books, a euphemistic variant of “screw and tell” where the husbands out-smug each other about how lovely and passionate their wives are and how great marriage is, wink-wink. Which I also don’t really like. I don’t know, for some reason whenever I read these things I can only think about how awkward things like that are in real life, when someone you know can’t stop bragging about how amaaaaaaaazing their new boyfriend is, with the love to end all love forever.

  24. 24
    chacha1 says:

    +1 on it’s not just you.

  25. 25
    Kelly C. says:

    I am sorry to hear that is the turn the book took.  Although I had the general impression that it did/would.

    I recently read the prequel to this book, in which Mia and Jackson first meet.  It was short but kind of sweet.  And it was very fuuny, IMO. 

    It sounds like it will make me wish that the author had stuck with that formula instead.

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