Book Review

Shameless by Tori Carrington: A Guest Review by Test Driver Tina

D-

Title: Shameless
Author: Tori Carrington
Publication Info: Harlequin 2008
ISBN: 0373793812
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book CoverOnce, long ago, I had a guy friend ask me out to dinner.  Now, we were pretty much “just friends”, but I thought he was sweet and cute and I enjoyed his company, so I happily agreed to what sounded rather date-like (especially since he told me to dress “nice”).  Off we went, with him telling me that where we were going was a “surprise”.  Then we pulled up in front of a church.  I asked him why we were stopping and he said he needed to run in really quick and asked if I would mind coming along.  Once inside, as he was guiding me down an aisle to a pew, I realized that he’d tricked me into attending his Wednesday night church service.  Surprise!  And it wasn’t just any kind of church service—it was the type of church service where the entire front row knelt on the floor, swaying back and forth, yelling “Amen!” at random intervals the whole time!  Towards the end of this two-hour long service, the pastor asked if there was anyone new to the church attending that evening.  My former friend all but pushed me up out of the pew and a bunch of people I DID NOT KNOW started HUGGING me!  (Why yes.  I do have some personal space issues.  Why do you ask?)  Afterwards, as if he hadn’t just conned me into attending his church, he asked, “So, where do you want to eat dinner?”.  The reason why I mention this story is because Shameless, by Tori Carrington (Lori and Tony Karayianni), is rather like that evening—I went into it thinking I was going to have sexy good time and, instead, I got conned into a morality lesson in the Old School vein that sometimes made me uncomfortable and a little creeped out.

(Be forewarned:  SPOILERS AHEAD!)

Shameless is a Harlequin Blaze and is the second in the Best of Blaze 2008 compilation that I picked up at the Sony Bookstore.  It opens with Nina Leonard, Kevin Weber, and Patrick Gauge, best friends and co-owners of a bookstore/music center/cafe in Fantasy, Michigan, sipping an after-closing-time coffee and talking about Nina’s love life, or lack thereof.  It’s been six months since she broke up with her last boyfriend. She’s getting a little horny and it’s getting a little dangerous for any semi-attractive man to wander too close to her cafe.  Her friends point out that this is her usual pattern—get horny, find a likely customer/candidate, make the ill-considered, hasty choice to sleep with him, and then, because she’s slept with him, be in a relationship with the guy until she can figure out how to extract herself from it.  She ends up breaking the heart of some poor schlub and they, Kevin and Gauge (as he’s called since he’s a musician and apparently far too cool to be called Pat or Patrick), end up having to shoo her heartbroken stalkers from the stacks, all because she needed to get laid. At some point in this conversation, she also mentions that she’s thought of “dating” both of them at one time or the other.  I put “dating” in quotation marks because so far, that seems to be the agreed upon euphemism for “screw like bunnies”.  The conversation is also used as an opportunity—via an eavesdropping senior citizen—to introduce Nina’s grandmother, Gladys, who is apparently played by Sophia from the Golden Girls.  But then, all grandmas in these books are played by Sophia lately.  (I’ll give you a minute to imagine thinking of your own feisty grandma during a conversation about your sex life with two acknowledged hotties, even if they are your bestest of best friends.)

At this point, we get Kevin’s point of view.  He wants her.  He longs for her.  He pines for her from afar.  He knows everything about her, from her favorite color to her preference for white cotton underpants (and that’s notcreepy, huh?).  However, does he admit that he’s fantasized about her when asked directly?  Of course not.  Instead, when she asks him if he’s ever thought about sleeping with her:

“I’d better go take care of the last customer,”  Kevin said in lieu of answering the question.

Meanwhile, during all this talk of fantasies and such, Gauge is strumming his guitar and thinking about how this is the longest he’s ever lived anywhere because Papa was a rollin’ stone and wherever he laid his hat was his home.  Thus Gauge was born a ramblin’ man.  Because, really—who doesn’t think about their backstory while talking sex and fantasies with a hot blonde?  Apparently Gauge can multi-task, however, because when Kevin returns, Gauge presents a solution to Nina’s problem:

“Hey, Nina, why don’t you let Kev and I arrange that night of hot, anonymous sex you said you were looking for?”

Kevin all but falls into a prudish faint but Nina is intrigued.  She takes pains in her inner dialogue to stress that she is only intrigued because “the last thing on earth [she] wanted was to be predictable”.  (Really? That’s the excuse they’re going with?)  She asks what exactly Gauge means by his statement.  He reiterates that she needs to get laid and that Kevin and he can help her.  Now she asks the question that we all want to know:

“How did you convince Harlequin to let you write a threesome story?  I know that there is no way that you could have bent the laws of the Universe quite that much and that this is all a tease, but, hey, did you actually convince them?”  (Well, it’s close to that, anyway…)

Both Kevin and Nina dither for a moment or two.  Then Kevin tells Gauge that it’s the most asinine idea he’s ever heard and then reads from the initial rejection letter that this story must have received, “While pop culture may have become more pornified in the past decade, that’s way crossing the line for most people.”

Gauge concedes the point, but insists that he can come up with a better plan.

Kevin is having a meltdown, but Nina is all, “Hold on, Kev.  Let’s see where he’s going with this.”

So, Gauge comes up with The Plan.  Sex with someone completely anonymous, no names allowed.  Kevin has more vapors.  Nina has more interest.  Blindfolds are mentioned.  Kevin hyperventilates.  Nina, who apparently has a limited vocabulary and doesn’t understand the word, “anonymous”, asks if the man will be one of them.  Gauge tells her that if it is, she’ll never know.

Nina contemplates the idea for a few chapters and stares at the guys a lot and thinks about her sexy dreams of all of them together (but never actually describes them) and that time in Kevin’s parents’ pool when they rubbed up against her and she flashed them and nothing happened.  She spends time with Gladys, who got around back in Detroit in the Motown era and still gets around on a regular basis and who sexually speculates about both Kevin and Gauge to Nina.  (And isn’t that the lunchtime conversation you want to have about your male friends with your Grandma—especially in public?)  However, since Grandma is played by Sophia, it’s played as funny instead of gross or a sign of incipient Alzheimer’s.

Of course, we all know that Nina decides to go through with this.  Incredibly, she actually does agree to leave her door unlocked and wait, kneeling on her bed, naked and blindfolded, for some guy to come and sex her up.  (And doesn’t that sound like the beginning to a really melodramatic movie where the poor, unpopular girl thinks the star quarterback is going to come to her room and she is, instead, humiliated by the popular kids, who point and laugh and then send the video of it to all their friends on their cell phones?)  We also know that the mysterious man has to be either Kevin or Gauge because it couldn’t be anyone else, right?  Of course, the sex is so mind-blowingly awesome that Nina can’t stop thinking about it, so she badgers the guys about which one it was.  Of course, neither of them will tell.  Of course, she then decides that she knows which one it had to be and she seduces the Wrong One, just to have the Right One walk in on them.  Of course, Gladys had a heart attack that same night and no one could get in touch with Nina, which was why the Right One came looking for her and walked in at such an inopportune moment.  (And, you know the reason that the heart attack happened was because Nina seduced the Wrong One and, thus, had sex with two different men in the same book!  And enjoyed it!  Nina’s lucky Gladys’s heart didn’t just explode!)

This leads to chapters of angst and heartache and, eventually, Nina grovels enough and wins the Right One and they have unprotected sex because she “wants…needs to feel [him]…” and if she gets pregnant, she “can’t think of anyone’s baby [she’d] love to have more”.  (Okay, I’m queasy now.)  Nina becomes the subservient little girlfriend who happily defers to him at the business because the Wrong One has left town, leaving a power of attorney behind and she doesn’t want to provoke the Right One by mentioning the other’s name.  They decide to get married, lickety-split, and Nina secretly invites the Wrong One to the wedding and the two guys hug and make up and rainbows form and unicorns carry the bride’s train and an angelic chorus sings her down the aisle.

BAH!

This story really pisses me off!  When I first finished it, I was just annoyed at the ending, but the more I contemplate it, the more it bugs the ever-loving crap out of me!

Oh, Shameless!  How I dislike you!  Let me count the ways:

1.

 

The info dump in the opening is annoying and detracts from the mood that the author(s) are trying to build.

 

  I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m sitting around, flirting and tossing around sexual innuendo, I never once think about my grandmother and her wild life as a Motown groupie.  Nor do I contemplate how my relationship with my father might have influenced my life choices. 

2.

 

Please don’t use a celebrity to explain how your hero looks.

 

  Kevin looks like Hugh Jackman (thanks for completely ruining Wolverine for me, by the way—really appreciate it!) and Gauge looks like John Mayer.  Frankly, I cannot stand John Mayer!  As soon as I read that piece of information, it became one of those “Don’t think about a pink elephant” moments and, try as I might, I couldn’t stop myself from picturing Mayer whenever I read anything about Gauge.  It was off-putting.

3.

 

The heroes.

 

  Both of the guys were treated as The Hero until mid-way through the book.  Both of them have sections written from their point-of-view, for instance.  Be forewarned…Until now, I’ve made a point of not revealing which one ended up being The Hero with the HEA so that I didn’t completely spoil the entire book.  However, I cannot explain exactly why I don’t like these guys without revealing that information.  Read further at your own discretion.

Kevin:  I REALLY DON’T LIKE THIS GUY.  REALLY REALLY REALLY!  First, Kevin doesn’t even hint to Nina about how he feels.  He’s so good at hiding his interest, in fact, that Nina has tried to set him up with her friends and has seriously asked if he were gay.  From the beginning, he complains about Gauge suggesting The Plan and gets angry and storms about and makes it clear to all and sundry, including Nina, that this is a Very Bad Idea.  He later claims that he was always worried that The Plan would destroy “the very framework of the friendship between the three of [them]”. Yet he still steps up and is the one to have the Awesome Blindfold Sexxx with her.  He later thinks to himself that he did it because “a part of him had believed their one night together would assuage the desire he’d always harbored for her”.

So let me get this straight…

He’s her best friend.  He’s always wanted her but tells himself that he is sublimating it to preserve that friendship.  But given the opportunity to “assuage his desire” in a way that will allow him to risk absolutely nothing emotionally—to essentially take what he wants without even giving back his name, he’ll take the chance of “destroying the very framework of their friendship”.  (Now that’s heroic!) And after the night of Awesome Blindfold Sexxx, when Nina’s all aglow and wanting to know who it was so they can be together again, first he hides from her and avoids her.  Then, he not only refuses to tell her—because he’s afraid that Nina might want to dump him at some future date and he just couldn’t bear it—he smacks back at her, verbally, with that “destroying the framework of their friendship” line with the inference being that the destruction will be because of her persistence.  (Emotional abuse is sooo sexy!)  And when, due to his own behavior, Nina guesses wrong and thinks it was Gauge and seduces him, Kevin is furious at her for not realizing how he felt about her.  He responds to her “betrayal” by first lashing out verbally and then by refusing to speak to either of them—even when it’s about the business they own together—and acting like he can’t even see them standing there.  He does this in front of their employees. (Passive-aggressive assholery is sooooooo hot!)

After all, how could Nina not know that it was him that night???  Just because he spent the first four chapters or so making it clear he was far too superior to ever entertain the idea of Awesome Blindfold Sexxx and just because he never told her that he was interested in her and just because he wouldn’t even answer a direct question from her about whether or not he was even attracted to her, either before or after the Awesome Blindfold Sexxx, HOW COULD SHE NOT KNOW???  Obviously, she needs to be punished!  And he does punish her, first with the silent treatment and then with “punishing” kisses and gripping her arms so hard it leaves marks and taking her with no foreplay, hard, against the wall.  His internal dialogue makes it clear that he needs to hurt her because he needs to give her some of his pain and “heal them both”.  (And I thought I was queasy before.)  So, he goes from a wuss to a passive-aggressive, emotionally-stunted jerk to an aggressive-aggressive asshat.  MY HERO!

(Note:  I concede that I don’t understand how she couldn’t have known that she had guessed wrong about which of them gave her the Awesome Blindfold Sexxx the first time she kissed Gauge, let alone when anything else happened, since I’ve never met two people who kiss alike or smell alike or taste alike.  And these guys aren’t body doubles, so their hair would be different and their arms would feel different, etc etc.  However, I believe her lack of mental acuity was established when she agreed to this asinine plan. I also stand by my assertion that if the girl pleads with the boy to tell her whether or not it was him because she wants another night and his response is to tell her that she will “destroy the framework of their friendship” if she doesn’t quit asking, he has no leg to stand on later if she is with someone else.)

Gauge:  While my dislike isn’t nearly as virulent with Gauge as it is with Kevin, I’m not very fond of this guy either.  First, there’s this whole Iago-like speech that he gives Kevin that is completely illogical.

”…we’ve talked about this.  We knew she’d try to alter the deal.  It’s just the way she’s made.  And it’s the entire reason we came up with this to begin with.  I mean, if she were capable of rational decisions once she slept with a guy, then we would never have proposed what we did.”

Supposedly, the whole reason for The Plan was because Nina makes ill-informed decisions about guys that she doesn’t know while sexually-frustrated.  Now the reason for The Plan is because her brain turns to mush when she is sexually-satisfied?  Not that the first part isn’t insulting enough, but wuh?  Consistency much?  Second, while Nina didn’t know that Kevin had it bad for her, Gauge surely did.  He knew that and slept with Nina anyway, knowing that she thought that he was the one that had come to her room.  Therefore, if anyone is guilty of betrayal, it’s obviously Gauge who betrayed them both.  Finally, afterwards, when the shit hits the fan, Gauge runs off in the middle of the night with his guitar in hand and leaves Nina to face Pissy!Kevin all alone after she’s already spent several days in the hospital by her grandmother’s side.  What a guy!  Good thing these guys were her very best friends, eh?

Frankly, I came away with the feeling that both of them kind of set her up.

4.

 

Speaking of which, for a book called Shameless, the heroine spends a hell of a lot of time feeling ashamed.

 

  The author(s) have Nina ask in the very first line:

“In this day and age, is it bad for a woman to yearn for some good, hot, anonymous sex?”

Given how the story turns out, I’d have to say, “Yes, apparently so.”

She’s stalked by ex-boyfriends and that’s taken as a matter of course, as opposed to something creepy and potentially dangerous.  Her so-called best friends both have sex with her—one thinking that he’s never going to have to admit that he did it and the other more than willing to reap the benefits of mistaken identity but she’s the one that is punished emotionally and physically and she accepts it as her due.  For instance, after Kevin fucks her very roughly to punish her for what are, essentially, his own failings, she finds that:

Kevin’s cold, hard lovemaking had left her a willing victim to his selfish desires, yet an equal participant as a shadowy side of herself responded to his rough attentions, as if perhaps believing she was deserving of his punishment.

Obviously, the same old stereotype is in play—it’s okay for the hero to be sexually experienced but if the heroine is, she must be brought back to the “proper” path.  She has to be “healed” (to take a word from Kevin) because Nina’s grandmother, Gladys, is Nina’s future if she doesn’t do so—in her 70s, still single and chasing after men, not respected by her own daughter, and did I mention still single? Gladys has her heart attack while sitting in a restaurant, but Nina actually tells her that if she’d spent less time chasing after men and having sex, she might not have collapsed!  Nina then thinks to herself that if she hadn’t lived like her grandmother, she wouldn’t be going through what she’s going through and neither would her grandmother.  That is the lesson you’re supposed to take away from this—it is very much a bad thing for a woman to “yearn for some good, hot, anonymous sex”.  If you do, you, too, will be struck down by God/the universe/fate/whatever when you least expect it—like, with a heart attack while sitting in a restaurant—after living a long, lonely life of meaningless sex.

5.

 

I don’t believe the HEA.

 

  He’s a guy who expects her to know his deepest feelings, even if he does all he can to hide them from her, and then blames her for not knowing.  He’s a guy who’s willing to say shitty things to make her back off of things he doesn’t want to talk about.  He’s a guy who’s willing to hurt her, physically and emotionally, to make her share his pain to “heal them both”.  She is then the one who begs for forgiveness and there is not one word that indicates that he should apologize, also.  Ain’t no way a happy ending is coming out of that.  I especially don’t believe that over-the-top tripe where Nina has unprotected sex with Kevin because she would love to have his baby, presumably as soon as possible, defers to all his wishes at their business, and marries him within weeks in front of the hot bad boy that she threw over for him.  Frankly, it sounds like some fantasy that Kevin spun up while pouting alone in his room.

For me, a book has to be all but unreadable—either so incredibly awful that I can’t finish it or full of proofing errors and typos—to get an F.  Even though I didn’t like this book due to the issues I listed, the first two sex scenes were pretty hot and the writing isn’t that bad, stylistically speaking, even with the initial info dump.  Therefore, my grade is a D-.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Lori says:

    I hated this one too, for pretty much the same reasons. It was a DNF for me and pretty much put me off reading any more by this author.

  2. 2
    Kalen Hughes says:

    Frankly, it sounds like some fantasy that Kevin spun up while pouting alone in his room.

    OMG, I so want to sit next to you at the next RWA luncheon I attend!!!!

  3. 3
    Mary G says:

    LOL I read this one too – and it didn’t tick me off quite as much as it did you (though I love your review) – mainly because the believability factor tipped it over into the ridiculous category for me.

    I spent the first half of the book metaphorically peering through my fingers going “they’re not really gonna have a threesome are they… nooo surely not… are they really”?  For me there’s a fine line between ummm erotica and romance… and it involves the addition of a third person. 

    My personal “hell no” point came when Nina waits naked with her door unlocked for some guy she may not ever have even met.  Though I guess it is evidence of her bad judgment when horny.

    When she fails to recognize that the hot anonymous sex guy is a man she’s supposedly been very close friends with for years… at that point I was thinking “give me a freaking break – no way in hell is that feasible”.

    It wasn’t a DNF for me because I wanted to see what happened, but yeah, Kevin is far from my idea of a hero. (And I’m TOTALLY with you on the John Mayer thing – though Gauge does resemble him in that they’re both sleazy, creepy musos).

  4. 4
    Kate says:

    First… that’s one heck of an opening to a review, but did you go to dinner with him?
    Second…  this book sounds horrid.  I don’t want friends like that, let alone best friends.
    Third… goes to show that without communication you have plot.  Unfortunate plot but plot none the less.
    Fourth… this all works if Nina is submissive and masochistic.  But I think that should be stated up front.

  5. 5
    willa says:

    That was a wonderfully articulated review! Thanks so much for sharing it with everyone.

    This book sounds like the blueprint for the majority of horrifying and infuriating novels I’ve read throughout my life—not just romances, either, but across genres.

    Just reading your review is making my blood boil.

    Thanks for explaining so clearly and concisely just what is so yucky about this scenario: when two (or in this case three) people get up to high jinks, and yet somehow the resulting fallout is all one person’s fault, while the other person acts all injured and vengeful and holier-than-thou.

    Nasty. Not good. Makes me furious when I read it.

  6. 6
    willa says:

    First… that’s one heck of an opening to a review, but did you go to dinner with him?

    I’m desperate to know what you did, too!

  7. 7
    PK says:

    OMG you had me at that ‘invite me to dinner and slip a revival meeting in on me’ bait and switch non-date you had to endure.  No way was I going to leave and stop reading before I got the goods from someone who could describe such a dastardly thing in such a hilarious manner and YESSSS!  You delivered. 

    This review was detailed and balanced, and I appreciate getting the straight story. 

    Can’t wait for your next review.

  8. 8
    Katie says:

    Often, a bad review will make me want to read a book for pure snarktastic fun. But I’m going to have to stay FAR away from this monstrosity, as I feel dirty just from reading your review. I’ve got no problem with a little rough sex in books, but the whole hurt-her-to-heal-her thing just squicks me out. Blech!

    My hearty thanks for taking one for the team here.

  9. 9
    hope101 says:

    I haven’t read the book, nor do I intend to after this review, but goodness, missus!  What a well-thought, artfully-articulated review.

  10. 10
    Tina C. says:

    @Willa and Kate:

    First… that’s one heck of an opening to a review, but did you go to dinner with him?

    At that point, I believe it was nearly 9pm.  I told him that I was “really tired” and that I had a bit of a headache and just to take me home.  (Man, I was so pissed!  I don’t think I ever spoke to him again after that—a feat when you live in the same dorm!)

  11. 11
    roccermom says:

    i hope the answer to ‘where do you want to go for dinner?’ was ‘My house; alone!’ and you should get a merit badge for reading that book.

  12. 12
    Missy Ann says:

    Tori Carrington =  Sophie Metropolis. I’m still trying to figure out how this hack hasn’t been sued out of existence by Evanovich. After suffering though 50 or pages of the first Metropolis book I vowed never to spend another red cent on anything Carrington plagiarized… er wrote. So nice to know that I haven’t made a mistake.

  13. 13
    JoanneL says:

    Wonderful review!

    There must have been a lot of no-no emails from Harlequin because obviously this was intended to be a love story between Kevin & Patrick with the secondary character Nina putting her grandmother in a nursing home and marrying the stores UPS delivery man.

    What did you think of the Sony?

  14. 14
    tracyleann says:

    I really liked some of the Tori Carrington books of yore (a couple of the Magnificent McCoy Men were great, at least to my best recollection), but this one just about scarred me for life. And there is actually a follow-up! Restless is Gauge’s story, but it is pretty much an epilogue to Shameless, as the heroine of that one definitely takes a backseat to the baggage leftover from book 1. I still don’t know why I picked it up. I managed a quick skim, mostly to try to figure out how it ended up a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee.

  15. 15
    Lori says:

    There must have been a lot of no-no emails from Harlequin because obviously this was intended to be a love story between Kevin & Patrick with the secondary character Nina putting her grandmother in a nursing home and marrying the stores UPS delivery man.

    It it hadn’t been a Harlequin this is where I would have expected it to go. There is definitely a dynamic between Kevin & Gauge that felt like Gauge just wanted Kevin to snap out of it and stop pretending to be interested in Nina.  And Kevin’s exaggerated “I want her but I can never let her know” routine totally read as in the closet & in denial.

  16. 16
    Jules says:

    I never throw books.  I don’t believe in doing books violence.  If memory serves, I believe I chucked Shameless on the floor in disgust.  I still can’t believe I finished it.

  17. 17
    Beki says:

    Thank you for reading this so we don’t have to.  Since when are passive-aggressive men sexy?  When they turn into plain aggressive men?  Ick.  There was more wrong with Nina than her lack of judgment while in heat.

  18. 18
    Chicklet says:

    Holy crapdamn, y’all: Kevin is the archetypal Nice Guy ™ that Shakesville warned us about. Fantastic delineation of what bothered you about the book, Tina—judging from what you included in the review, it may have been the subject of Dorothy Parker’s famous book review that went This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

    Although I may not have been able to confide myself to just throwing it against the wall. I probably would have found myself burning it in my hibachi.

  19. 19
    Steph says:

    Fantastic review.

    The few I’ve read that made my blood boil like that were doozies – my friends had to stay far away until I cooled down (actually I think they just laughed at me getting that worked up over a book) I love how articulate and well organized your writing was. Well done for making me vicariously angry and making me laugh at the same time.

  20. 20
    Ann Bruce says:

    Tina, you owe me an apology.  After reading that review, how could I NOT go to Carrington’s web site?  …where I was assaulted by the horrid music on their home page.

    God, I need a little Tool to calm me down.

  21. 21

    God, I need a little Tool to calm me down.

    Me too.  Only the last time I called it a “little tool,” the SO got reeeaallly offended.

  22. 22
    Lorelie says:

    this all works if Nina is submissive and masochistic.  But I think that should be stated up front.

    Uh, no. Submissive & massochistic does not equal emotionally stunted.

    I read this one, as well as both others in the series. (Including Reckless, in which the heroine’s last name is Joblowski. Which I mentally rearranged into Blowjobski. Every. Damn. Time.)  Yeah, there was a lot of stuff that irritated the heck out of me, but the fascination of watching Carrington bend the typical Harlequin boundaries made up for it.  Reckless involves a Cheating Heroine! And hot, kinda dirty sex in a public bathroom. (Though bad prophylactic choices annoyed me once again.)

  23. 23
    carterkid says:

    Tori Carrington =  Sophie Metropolis. I’m still trying to figure out how this hack hasn’t been sued out of existence by Evanovich. After suffering though 50 or pages of the first Metropolis book I vowed never to spend another red cent on anything Carrington plagiarized… er wrote. So nice to know that I haven’t made a mistake.

    Good to know I’m not the only one. I got Sophie Metropolis at some conference, I think, and wondered how agents and pulbishers said, “We want different” when this was nothing more than a Greek ‘translation’ of a Stephanie Plum book.  It is fitting that the spam word is ‘total86?’

    Great review, btw!

  24. 24
    moom says:

    Now if the book had been about grandma’s groupie days with the spin that yes, she slept around a bit and she had a heart attack while on a date to have some fun time with someone else who was also after a quick, fun fling with her telling this story to a gradually getting more and more discomfited goody two shoes volunteer who is totally weirded out by the concept that an old person had sex once. That I would read.

    Or if it had been ‘Hey, we can solve your sex drought Nina!’ and the problem was solved with a series of well-written threesomes in which Nina, Kevin and Gauge’s affection and close bond changes as they realise that not only so they like each other, but they can have awesome sex with each other which gradually becomes realised as genuine love culminating in a menage a trois ever after…. I would be all over that and that was the vibe I was getting from the beginning of the review, all the way up to the point only one dude turned up in Nina’s bed.

    There’s not enough well-written, romantic and erotic threesome stuff out there in my view. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be done well and it can be as romantic as any two-person romance story.

    (spambot word? club77, I think trying to get a 77 person orgy into a romance might be a bit unfeasible. The world’s not ready for that yet)

  25. 25
    Kat says:

    Dearest Tina,

    I was doing fine, loving your review, but I hadn’t spit coffee on my monitor until this:

    I concede that I don’t understand how she couldn’t have known that she had guessed wrong about which of them gave her the Awesome Blindfold Sexxx…  However, I believe her lack of mental acuity was established when she agreed to this asinine plan.

    Thank you so very much for the fantastic laugh. You have made my day!

  26. 26
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    This doesn’t have much to do with the review—great, BTW—but when I read the bit about the guy asking you to come into the church for a minute (and wear something nice) I was totally thinking, “OMG!  He’s trying to trick her into marrying him!  This guy is sooo creepy!” so the Holy Roller church service was actually somewhat of a letdown.  Did anyone else think this?

  27. 27
    Kat says:

    Elizabeth,

    I had the same thought.

    And as for the review, I told someone at lunch about it! GJ!!!

  28. 28
    Rechelle says:

    EXCELLENT review!!!!!!!

  29. 29
    Tina C. says:

    I’m glad everyone liked the review!  I swear, I must have driven Sarah crazy with all the times I re-did this or that and sent it to her again. 

    @Chicklet

    Holy crapdamn, y’all: Kevin is the archetypal Nice Guy ™ that Shakesville warned us about.

    Exactly!  I actually had that Kevin was the epitome of every self-proclaimed “Nice Guy” that I’d ever met, but I cut it out because I couldn’t work it in exactly how I wanted (and lord, this thing was long enough as it was!)

    @Ann Bruce

    Tina, you owe me an apology.  After reading that review, how could I NOT go to Carrington’s web site?  …where I was assaulted by the horrid music on their home page.

    Wow!  Really?  I never went there, so I didn’t know.  Sorry! :)

    @moom

    Or if it had been ‘Hey, we can solve your sex drought Nina!’ and the problem was solved with a series of well-written threesomes in which Nina, Kevin and Gauge’s affection and close bond changes as they realise that not only so they like each other, but they can have awesome sex with each other which gradually becomes realised as genuine love culminating in a menage a trois ever after…. I would be all over that

    That would have been a better story, but you’re not going to get that story in a Harlequin, even in a Harlequin Blaze and I knew that.  I have to say, Carrington was good at sustaining the tease that just maaaaybe… 
    @Elizabeth Wadsworth

    I was totally thinking, “OMG!  He’s trying to trick her into marrying him!

    Nope, not that creepy, thankfully—just one of the times in my life that someone has taken a very heavy-handed approach to “saving” me.  Granted, this was the most egregious of those approaches.  (Because kidnapping-by-deception is one of the very best ways to get someone to convert, right?)

    Thanks again, everyone!

  30. 30
    Suze says:

    “OMG!  He’s trying to trick her into marrying him!  This guy is sooo creepy!” Did anyone else think this?

    Yep, I thought that.  I was actually creeped out that a person would have an errand inside a church during a date anyway.  Overtly religious people freak me out.

    That was a freakin’ awesome review!  Good on you for doing so much work on it.

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