Tour’s Books Blog

March 12, 2010

Two Short Reviews: Samhain eBooks

As most of you know, I read a lot of Samhain ebooks.  Many of their authors are among my favorites and overall they put out some of the best quality material.  Usually.  Mostly.  OK – this week was a HUGE miss for me.  Granted, not every week do I find something that grabs my interest, but when I do buy, I am rarely so disappointed.  On top of that, Samhain is starting to have the same kind of egregious editing errors for which New Concepts Publishing is so famous – or infamous.  “Peaked” where it should be “piqued”?  Last week it was “check” where the word was “cheek”!  You might think that an aberration, but it’s happened too often of late and mistakes are escalating in number and distracting from the flow of the story.  With the cost of ebooks escalating, my tolerance for such bush league nonsense is rapidly dwindling.

The editing issue was compounded this week by two entries that should have died on an editor’s desk.  One was just a saccharine costume drama in modern dress and the other a sex fest one might expect from Siren Ménage or NCP.  OK, I grant you one novella was by a writer I didn’t know, but the other novella was written by a well establish author that I’ve read and enjoyed in the past, so I was shocked at the awfulness of it!  Here are two titles that can be skipped – completely.

  • Title: Pride and Passion
  • Author:  Jenna Bayley-Burke
  • Type:  Homage to Pride and Predjudice
  • Genre:  Regency virgin miss in modern dress
  • Sub-genre:  Dumb assumptions fed by stupid lack of communication
  • My Grade: F (0*)
  • Rating:  PG
  • Length and price: Short Novel, category – about 50,000 words for $4.50 (10% for short time)
  • Where Available: ebook available on the Samhain site
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s site

Where does one start with this annoying book?  Take one oblivious ‘heroine’ with a ton of preconceived notions about the hero and one ‘hero’ who thinks explaining anything never works so he goes around doing his best to create doubt and you have the perfect ‘Big Mis’ that’s annoying beyond belief.

Lily Harris’s father has died from pancreatic cancer, but not before engulfing himself and her in a major scandal of financial wrong-doing and sexual escapades.  But wait!  We have more!  Lily, a beautiful, blond virgin in her 20’s, is left embarrassed and penniless, but determined to set her beloved father’s financial mistakes to rights even though she’s broke and never acquired job skills marketable in the real world.  She’s getting her master’s degree in English Lit specializing in – you guessed it – Jane Austin.  She is now qualified to work at Burger King.

Enter her father’s partner in the architectural firm of Tolliver and Harris, Jake Tolliver, architect, businessman, and millionaire.  He gets her away from the graveside service, back to the gated estate where she lived with her father and acted as his hostess, and tells her he made a deal with daddy.  Jake would settle his debts and marry his daughter so she would have a secure future wrapped in the security of Jake’s wealth and position.  She just needed to look the other way on his mistresses.  Wait, he never mentioned any mistresses!  Here’s the whole point of conflict in the book – Lily is convinced Jake has mistresses that plans to keep after marriage.   Jake, naturally, feels no need to explain anything and correct her misunderstanding right at the beginning.  Nope, he feeds it by making these bizarre, convoluted statements carefully parsed to avoid directly responding to her accusations.   A few pages of this nonsense and my tolerance was sorely tested.

Anyhoo, Jake has Lily join the firm to learn the business from the ground up.  She has about 3 months to learn the whole thing or marry him.  HUH?  Yup, three months to learn all about an architectural firm for a person who has majored in English Lit.  Any architects out there?  Are you laughing?  I’m an engineer and the whole thing sounded so stupid to me I was bored to tears.  I confess I spot read the next 40 pages and cut pretty much to the last 25 pages or so.

In three crappy months, Lily does learn most of the business.  I believe that, don’t you?  Jake takes her to Hawaii to spend the holiday with his grandmother who is ill with a heart condition.  He has lied to her and told her he’s engaged to Lily.  She agrees to pretend.  Once again, Lily is faced with what she believes is yet another lover of Jake’s, Mykala, his grandmother’s nurse/companion.

Selling such saccharin tripe is always an uphill climb for me.  The sweet, helpless heroine who reaches adulthood unprepared to deal with life is possibly my least favorite trope.   Throw in a taciturn hero who insists on acting like an idiot who demands the heroine believe in his goodness without offering any rebuttal to the general consensus on his womanizing ways, well, you have the perfect storm of stupidity.  But wait!  There’s more!  And here’s where I went merely annoyed at wasting my time and money to wanting to strangle the author – Lily’s father became a lowlife womanizer and degenerate gambler because ……. he loved her mother so much he didn’t know how to live without her, couldn’t bond with another woman so he used hookers, AND because Lily was the image of her mother, she constantly reminded him of his loss.  Yes folks, his weak, sorry ass was all the fault of a dead woman and his daughter who looked like her!  It wasn’t because he had no guts, no self-control, or was unwilling to seek professional for his addictions.  Nope, not his fault at all!  Can you believe that line of drivel????????  GAH!  Then there was this creepy undertone of abnormal ‘closeness’ of father and daughter that got even more creepy when Jake casts responsibility, or motivation, at Lily’s feet.  Come on.  That’s beyond lame.  But wait!  There’s more!  The book ends before Jake’s grandmother is even told he’s alive!  Yes, really!!!!!!  Come the morning after Jake and Lily FINALLY hot the sack together, and FINALLY talk about his mistresses that aren’t mistresses at all, and FINALLY agree to hasty marriage, they don’t hurry to let granny know he beloved only grandson is alive!  What a dumb end to a dumb book.

I can usually find some redeeming feature about any books, even when I hate the characters.  Alas, there was just nothing here for me to hold onto.  The characters are shallow, the plot so contrived it was ludicrous, the conflict was eye-roll worthy, and the ending so abrupt it was like it fell off a cliff.  Add to that the infuriating rational Jake used to explain/excuser Lily’s father’s behavior, well, this was just a pathetic dead loss.

Was Pride and Passion worth $4.50?  No way.  Save your money – spare your poor mind this brainless excursion into witless melodrama.  Go buy something good.


  • Title: Cougar
  • Author:  Beverly Rae
  • Type:  Paranormal erotic romance
  • Genre:  Emotional damaged older woman slut with two younger male shifters
  • Sub-genre:  Brainless sex fest
  • My Grade: D (2.0*)
  • Rating:  XXX
  • Length and price: Novella – about 35,000 words total
  • Where Available: ebook available on the Samhain site
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online book store

I love shifter books and I usually like Beverly Rae.  I enjoyed her Walk on the Wilde Side a lot.  Unfortunately, in Cougar, Ms Rae was channeling the worst of Natalie Acres.  This was one of those erotic romances was that combined characters as shallow as a saucer with motivations that never really emerge, with a story that is lacking heart, and an ending that left me unsatisfied and bored.

The slight story centers around Chase Reya, a cougar shifter who doesn’t like humans, is sent to work a ranch owned by Bob Talley, a human who knows about shifters, so he can learn to deal with them better.  He arrives to find a wolf shifter, Dirk Claxton, already working there.  It gets more complicated when both Chase and Dirk set their sites on Bob Talley’s visiting cousin, Shannon, a woman in her late 30’s who wants nothing more than a good romp with some young studs.

Shannon Talley goes to her cousin’s ranch to get some cowboy loving.  She was abandoned at the alter where she learned her about to be husband was cheating with her best friend.  Ever since, she’s just used men for sex and disposed of them.  Not exactly a deep thinker or much of one for maturity.  The traumatic events of that almost wedding day are her justification for a dissolute sex life with no emotional attachments and a hyperactive libido.  Weak, shallow, self-indulgent, immature, and a user.  How many years to you punish the world and undermine yourself because of one man man’s bad judgment? More to the point, who imposes on a relative so they can use their employees as sex objects?  (Loud gagging noises.)

Chase is a cougar with a chip on his shoulder about humans, but he’s profoundly drawn to Shannon and lusts for her.  But Shannon wants a three way with Dirk, who is more than happy to oblige.  He’s used to females who have strong sexual urges, so Shannon’s lusty approach does nothing to put him off.  Her attraction Dirk does, and he’s a bit bewildered that thinking of seeing her with other male cougars turns him on, but sharing her with a wolf just annoys her.

Shannon wants to overcome Chase’s aversion to a threesome with Dirk.  Basically, the story just moves from sex scene to sex scene.  The best relationship is between Dirk and Chase, not the males and Shannon.  In the end, which was a rush job and very abrupt, the big HEA scene is dull.  There are whips, spanking, spurs, ménage, vibrators – you name it, and through it all, I was never once involved at any level.  Shannon was just so over the top, I couldn’t care less.

Even for a mindless sex fest this was below average.  I just couldn’t care about Dirk or Shannon and Chase deserved better for all his surly attitude, but the Chase character kept this from being another F.  Too much of the sex centered on what seemed to me to be pain to satisfy self-hatred.  That was a turn off.  I guess that was one of my big problems, Shannon didn’t like herself.  None of the emotional and psychological issues were resolved.  The whole animal attack thing was dumb.  How could a wolf and a cougar not smell it? Just too many things never fit.

Was Cougar worth $4.50?  No!  There are better sex fests out there that have some semblance of a story, read them.

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