Monday, November 20, 2017

REVIEW/RELEASE BLITZ: Dirty It Up anthology

Genre: Romance Anthology

What happens when authors start discussing the "steam" level of their sex scenes and realize they ran the gauntlet from Naughty to Filthy?

Dirty It Up is born.

A sexy collection of holiday novellas with each story getting dirtier as you go.

Go deep and get dirty this holiday season.

We've been naughty. Now it's your turn...

Find out more and take a quiz about how "dirty" you are at
~Book Reviews~
Overall Assessment:
 I’ve rated/reviewed each of these individually as there’s a broad spectrum here. I went into all of the stories basically blind, and I was only previously familiar with one of the author’s works. In general, I would have liked to see some of them play up the holiday spirit more and the clichéd romance tropes less. The first felt more like a short story; the second a novella. But three and four felt like fully developed/fleshed out (no pun intended) books. Five I didn't stick with. Three of these stories featured strong, likable heroines. The other two were too weak for me.

I highly recommend the fun quiz, which the authors have set up on the title’s website. I decided to give it a whirl and was intrigued to find out that my score matched my favorite tale, its style fitting my reading preferences the most, and was borderline with my second fav!

Naughty Temptation by Amelia Bond
 3.5 Stars

Kelsey Wegman, 21, is home for the holidays. While she’s not greeted with good news, she is greeted by a familiar face. Scott Turner, 25, is temporarily working for his dad. Anymore, he’s not sure where he wants to be. But he is sure of one thing; the neighbor girl has grown up and she’s more than just temptation.

Told via Kelsey and Scott’s dual first person POV, both were likable characters and they were developed enough for this short story/novella to get a decent impression of them. I especially appreciated how their characters subverted some common subconscious sexism. It was actually the hero who was rendered incoherent speech when he was caught off guard by the heroine. Kelsey was a strong female character, and I was applauding her in the scene where she tells a sexually harassing truck driver off. Oh and when she gives Scott a little “payback.” That was sexy and funny!
“‘No, no, not the balls.’ Never would I think those words would come from my mouth…”
On the downside, there was some OW drama, although thankfully it never materialized the way it often does in these things. None the less, I wish it would have been cut short sooner as it didn’t reflect well on Scott in more ways than one. I also felt it needed more resolution. (As in ‘hasta la vista, biotch’)

But all in all, despite some heavier issues going on in the character’s lives, it turned out to be a mainly low angst romance set during the holidays.

  Indecent Holiday by Elizabeth Brown
  2.5 Stars

Lily Hayes is spending the holidays with her mom at their family cabin, only this year her mother’s new boyfriend and his son are joining then. Her potential future stepbrother is the bad boy she crushed on in high school, and their sexual tension hasn’t changed.
“Rhys Conner was as unpredictable as a winter storm. If I left any part of me exposed, he’d find it and sear into me like frostbite.”
Told via Lily and Rhy’s dual first person POV (but w/more chapters by Lily), in the beginning Rhys intrigued me as the moody, dirty-talker. But Lily is the inexperienced and a little naïve good girl prototype that’s overused in the current romance market. Still, their chemistry was decent, and it seemed like this was going to be one of those sexy stranded together romances, which it was for the first half.

 But then it turns angsty. There’s a 2 year separation where time skips ahead. That leads into an annoying back and forth, push and pull between them. The story started to lose me at that point and when they finally reconcile I was totally done when he suggests they abandon protection: “I’m clean. I was tested last month and haven’t been with anyone since, I promise.” I spent the next several paragraphs trying to figure out if he hadn’t been with anyone else since her or since last month! Sadly I got my answer during her next chapter: “Rhys had always been good in bed, but it was clear he’d learned a few things over the years.” Well I’m glad she’s impressed with that, but it grossed me out. Sex without a condom with a guy who was still sexually active with other people a month ago— that’s just skeevy. This was no longer holiday romance; this was two people too immature and too stupid to be together years early. On that note, I certainly didn’t buy that they loved each other at 23 anymore than they did at 21 or 17. 
 Sordid Games by Elizabeth Kelly
5 Stars

Daisy Morrison is a really good friend. She’s agreed (albeit reluctantly) to pretend to be her roommate’s lesbian lover for the holidays to help her friend hide the Romeo & Juliet love affair she really has going on from her family. But good deeds do not go overlooked when Daisy’s attractive ONS turns out to be her roommate’s brother.
“Hell, I had half a stiffy just from staring at the back of her damn head.”
This was the fun, lighthearted and sexy holiday story I was looking for! The premise and the characters were cute, the story flowed well, and there wasn’t a shortage of laughs.
“‘Are we not playing a game of ‘say the least sexy thing in bed you can think of and see if the other one is still turned on’?”
Wes McKinley, 32, made not only a confident (but not cocky) holiday lover, but a ‘for keeps’ boyfriend as well. He's a nice, down-to-Earth guy with charm and integrity. Oh and he’s quite talented in the bedroom too.
“‘You’ll have to hold in your ‘Wes is a sex god’ screams.’”
Daisy is a sweet and likable heroine. She rolled with all the punches well, and I was rooting for her and Wes to make it last.

Told via their dual first person POV, there was just the right balance of steamy encounters alongside the humorous plot and entertaining secondary characters. A winner all the way round! 🎉


Dirty Intentions by Aubrey Bondurant
4.5 Stars
Daniella Trivioli, 27, is on a mission—confirm her fiancé as the cheater and thief he is.  Shane Nelson, 32, is a sex club owner. But one night, their paths cross.
“‘Tell me if you want me to stop now. Otherwise, I’m going to put my fingers inside you and make you come.’”
Obviously, the setting mainly in a sex club gave this one a strong erotic feel. (Readers of the Something series will remember Club Travesty from Catherine story). The chemistry between them is palpable, and their banter not only drew me into the story from the start, but also presented a smart, strong female character. It was refreshing to see a jilted heroine stand up to her ex and get the upper hand since it’s a popular starting point for many romances. I also really liked how Daniella held her own in various situations and how she defied Shane’s expectations.
“Seriously, he was lecturing me with him on the precipice of penetration? I shifted my hips to remind him of exactly where we were.”
Shane was an intriguing hero. He certainly wasn’t without his flaws and he sucked at romance. That fit his character, but it let Dani down at times and made him less of a “book boyfriend.”  But like Dani, Shane was a well developed character. The writing here is solid.
 “We weren’t calling it insta-love or ignoring the fact we each still had a lot to learn about the other.”
I give major kudos for the fact that this story didn’t try to sell something it wasn’t. Too often I find “insta-love” or “insta-lust” tossed around to excuse poor relationship development. That is so not the case here, and I’m glad one of the characters brought it up as a reminder. In that respect, this is a tale of two people who are merging different worlds and different personalities and in the process, they grow as people and expand their horizons. They both learn and mature from their fling and in the process it allows the reader to begin to see how these two will make it in the long haul. 

Told via their dual first person POV, I was left wondering one thing….is Max gonna get a story next Christmas? 🎅

Filthy Appeal by Ramona Gray

Libby Brecken is an attorney starting a new life in a new city before the holidays. In an attempt to combat her esteem issues from her recent break up, Libby hits up a bar to pick up a man. When the “safe” man rebukes her, she garners the attention of two hotter guys.

Straight up, I can’t stand reading about heroines who have been dumped on and have body image issues. The first several pages were a huge turn-off as it’s nothing but Libby and her weight issues. Then Libby interacts with Seth and Theo, and the dialogue quickly turns cheesy and stilted. The attempted blend of realism and fantasy didn’t work for me. This one is told entirely by Libby's first person POV.

To be clear, those are the reasons I tossed this one aside. It had nothing to do with the ménage angle as I don’t have a problem reading those types of tales.

99c for a limited time only!

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