Let's talk about sex, baby. It's time to get Ruthless
Synopsis The Lawless kids are all grown up and seeking revenge on the people who murdered their parents and tried to kill them in a fire. Riley Lang changed his name from Lawless in order to move about the world inconspicuously. His brother Drew Lawless, reclusive tech billionaire, is kind of famous. Both Drew's fame and Riley's low profile are part of a plot to take down the people who framed their father with a murder-suicide that was supposed to kill the entire family. A plot that is finally ready to be put into motion--enter Ellie Stratton. Daughter of the late CEO of StratCast, the company founded by the people who killed Riley's parents including Ellie's father. Riley is sent to StratCast to go after the only other founder, Mr. Castalano, of the company still there due to his involvement in the deaths of Riley's parents. Meanwhile, Ellie is trying to buy out Mr. Castalano and become CEO, Riley comes in as her attorney. While Riley is on his secret mission; Ellie has some secrets about her father's death she is keeping to herself. Little do these two know that while they are playing out their parts, a larger chess game is being played out. By the end, everyone will know the definition of Ruthless.
Characters Ellie is pretty good, but has the typical fat girl insecurities. Just because someone is fat doesn't mean they should think they are ugly and unlovable. Without that she's almost too perfect. Riley is model handsome, and so boring in the beginning that it makes my teeth hurt. He doesn't get real until right around the climax of the plot. He's too perfect and his brothers hold my interest more. Drew has a darkness and drive that I'd go gaga over, and Bran is cute but has anger issues. Mia is kinky and uses talk of her sex life to terrorize her brothers which is hilarious. Hatch is flawed in the extreme, and because of that less charismatic. Hatch is all about beating himself up for being a drunk, drinking, and strippers. The villains were given away early.
World Modern New York but could be anywhere. There was only one conversation that gave it any depth of place. There wasn't even an indication of season. The company and company products were well thought out. But I couldn't help wondering was it winter with skaters at Rockefeller Center and the giant tree, was it spring when Central park is in bloom, was it summer with everyone trying to beat the heat or was it fall with the parades and football season. Every city has it's own flavor and if a story is set there I'd like some of that to spill over in the story.
Pacing The setting up for the subsequent books can be forgiven it is the first in the series after all, but the tie ins and hints at other series were a little heavy handed. Pacing could have been a bit more slick and was the minor failing of the novel. The inciting incident was a little slow in coming.
Writing The word "cock" was used a lot. And it was a bit racy for a traditional romance novel, but for a modern adult romance novel I prefer this style. Sex is thought about and talked about by most adults in explicit terms, so why not be accurate. Some of the talk during sex was clichéd, but hey it's a sex scene there is accurate then there's writeable. Some facts and scenes were repeated like the scene with Hatch and Riley, but I get that she didn't want to give Hatch away till Drew's book.
Plot Basic revenge plot line. The twist is the villain is smarter than they give him credit for--loved that part. I liked that they stepped into a long game that started when Ellie's father was alive. I didn't particularly like the villain's flunkies, because it was obvious to me that if the heroes had been paying attention they would have unraveled the villainous plot before it blew up in their faces. Instead they play catch up, and the villain is done in by his greed rather than any plan on the part of the good guys
The Good I've read Lexi Blake, and I love her erotica. Just to be clear this book isn't erotica, it's a romance novel. There has been some debate over whether a book is erotica or a romance, and some companies have even given these books a category of their own. But the way to tell the difference is to remove the sex scenes, if it's erotica then there isn't much of a book left. You may have character sketches and a semblance of a plot but it will be like a porn if you remove the sex stuff. If it's a romance novel then the sex is just a bonus you still have the establishment of the relationship, the obstacle, the overcoming of the obstacle and the happily ever after. This book is a modern romance with some dirty words and explicit scenes--my favorite.The Bad I'm not going to be too critical because I know Lexi will get better the more she goes along this path. My feelings on the perfection of characters is something I expound on regularly. I just don't believe in perfect characters, there's something innately non-human about them, a disconnectedness from reality that I find disconcerting. I'd like for the slight pacing problem to be fixed, a focus on what the inciting incident actually was would probably have helped. Hint, it wasn't the beginning of the physical relationship.
As I mentioned earlier there are two ways to handle sex in modern romance books. You can lean more to the erotica side of things which means lots of sex and a little bit of action or sex breaks in between the action. Or you can lean more to the romance side with relationship building and in depth character studies as well as good sex scenes.Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
The Riley Jensen Guardian series is erotica with sex breaks between the action. Riley Jensen is a vampire/werewolf hybrid with a twin brother, they both work for the government and when her brother goes missing Riley must do everything she can to find him. It sounds a little off putting but it's well written and Riley is a kick ass character.Yes, Please by Willow Summers
Yes, Please falls more towards a modern romance novel. Olivia finds herself desperately seeking work after college. Her friend turns her on to a job with some special requirements it seems a CEO needs an assistant to satisfy him in the boardroom and in the bedroom. She's unlike anything Hunter has ever seen she's real, funny, and amazing. And he offers her the job, just one catch she doesn't want to sign the contract. Olivia just wants him, not all the rules and boundaries that go with being his personal sex slave. He gives her one month to entice her into taking the job, all of it. Too bad at the end of the month she's got him hooked, what's next? Will she get him to say yes and please to an emotional commitment. Don't know that part is in book number two or maybe three.
Sex is a part of life. People arrive on this planet via sex; sex is used to sell everything from a hamburger to a fragrance. Yet, people don't like to discuss it, but I would hope that's changing. There are so many issues related to sex that are hold overs from another era, myths, and idiocy that we need to talk about them. Riley deals with the double standard of sex that women have been dealing with since ancient times. A male is never vilified or ostracized for taking multiple partners, yet when a woman does it she's a slut or a whore. From a historical context, I can defend this by saying men can't get pregnant and society wanted to make sure who the father was. But it's the twenty first century, there's birth control and DNA testing, so the slut shaming either has to work both ways or stop all together.
Yes, Please and Ruthless deal with emotional commitment and sex. They both support the myth that males can have sex without emotional attachment while females can not. The truth is much more complex and beautiful. Anyone can have emotional sex and anyone can have emotionless sex. Emotions have nothing to do with sex, sure we confuse the two when we are starting out. I love having sex with him/her so, I must love him/her. But the truth is the myth isn't that guys and girls are different when it comes to sex it's that sex is the physical expression of love. This myth has ruined more lives than any natural disaster. Sex is a biological function, it is a physical activity that traditionally created offspring. Sex is about reproduction, love is love. Now, loving someone may mean showing them and enjoying all aspects of your nature from the animal to the divine, but it may not and that's perfectly okay. Being in a relationship and loving someone has more to do with open and honest communication than the mating rituals of homo sapiens.
So, let's talk about sex versus intimacy. Sex can be intimate or clinical or anywhere in between. But intimacy is a state of mind where you allow your vulnerabilities to be shared with another person. Intimacy is all about emotions and establishing an emotional connection whereas sex is just sex. Sex can be fabulous or disappointing, but it can't replace true intimacy and that's what romance is all about.