Review, TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Lies

November’s theme prompt for Super Wendy’s #TBRChallenge 2022 was “Lies.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.

Holly Read: Deception by Selena Montgomery (2009)

Faraday, Book #2

Why was this book on your TBR?

As with Reckless, which I read last month, I bought this in November of 2020 in a burst of good feelings about Stacy Abrams. 

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

Well, it’s called Deception. And I read the first book in the series last month and it ended on a total cliffhanger, so I figured I’d might as well. I was hoping it would be a celebratory read for Georgia, but alas.

What are your thoughts on the book?

I am working on aggressively DNFing books if they aren’t speaking to me, so this was a DNF. Hey, the goal was to get books off my TBR one way or another. 

So, when the first book ends, we know that there’s some mysterious conspiracy going on in rural Georgia run by an ominous group called Stark, and that’s why that guy was killed. But by the first third of Deception, most of the information about this group—what they do, what their goals are, why they killed the guy—have been revealed. There are still pieces to figure out, like who exactly pulled the trigger and why they want to control this big plot of land, but I felt like the wind was taken out of the sails of the mystery a bit. (I might have also flipped to the end and the bit I read was very anticlimactic and not a big reversal from what we’d already learned.)

I hated the hero. Specifically, I hated that he did that thing where he touched the heroine, could tell that his touch made her uncomfortable, and then doubled down by doing something like grabbing her wrist. Or her chin. This is the second time this very specific dynamic has shown up in a TBR challenge book this year, and yikes, do I hate it.

I did like the heroine. Fin is a professional gambler, which means she’s lived a…colorful…life. But even though she lies and bluffs her way through the world, I would hope that, as a reader, I would have a sense of her as a character after spending a hundred pages with her, and she still felt vague to me. So though I thought the pieces I saw were interesting, there wasn’t enough there to make her truly compelling and hold my attention.

Buy Now: Amazon

Ingrid Read: His Reluctant Lady by Aydra Richards (2020)

Why was this book on your TBR?

It honestly just looked cute? It had that classic, historical feel to it and I figured it might be fun.

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

Well, there are just LAYERS of lies here–Poppy is secretly a gothic novelist, her sisters secretly try to get her caught in flagrante delicto, and David and Poppy are BOTH recovering from years of deceiving themselves (in a way) because they’ve never really tried to get to know themselves as they really are.

What are your thoughts on the book?

It’s definitely cute! It’s traditional/old school though–she’s dowdy and transforms, he’s the one who “shows” her she’s beautiful, etc. If you’re looking for an enlightened read, it’s kind of a middle ground–he’s incredibly respectful of his intelligent wife and values her deeply for her mind and her abilities. But it’s strongly a “she don’t know she’s beautiful” type book.

Essentially, Poppy’s gambling addict father almost beggars them after his death, when she fortuitously sells a gothic manuscript–then another. The money from the sales is enough to get her two sisters launched into the Season, and pay for a chaperone. Poppy’s an innocent though, and needs material for the progression of her plot. So she follows David and a lover at a party and eavesdrops on their tryst, and uses all the material for her next installment.

David is livid, but also a little thrilled when he catches Poppy watching him. They have a big make out session, he releases her, and then learns that his tryst was published in a book and is titillating the Ton. Why at this point he didn’t connect the dots, but whatever–he does eventually figure it out and blackmails Poppy into spending more time with him, essentially.

Then stuff happens, they end up married against their will, and they have to figure out how to make it work.

I will say it’s a bit of a slow burn–they spend a lot of time kissing before anything of magnitude happens. But it’s an uncomplicated, sweet read with a lot of sizzle. 

Buy Now: Amazon

Erin Read: If You Deceive by Kresley Cole (2007)

MacCarrick Brothers, Book #3

Why was this book on your TBR? I’d read a couple IAD books and The Game Maker trilogy and this one came up for sale, and really, why would I even try to resist histrom with a Scottie MacHottie?

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge? The title says it all, right?

What are your thoughts on the book?

Okay, so I hit a slump and didn’t finish because this book has a very Kresley Cole vibe, and I needed some soft and gentle romance, but in the right mood I know I’d have fun reading it, so I’ll finish it eventually. 

Here’s the deal: there’s a double deception. As a young man, Ethan would sleep with married women, and the last time he followed one home, he decided to pull the plug on the encounter, she got mad at the rejection, the husband showed up, accusations were made, and Ethan was ruthlessly scarred, only for the husband to realize who he was. There’s a ten-year interval between the prologue and the first chapter, and we learn that Ethan is a cold, hard man, a ruthless spy, and a willingness to take justice into his own hands. Case in point: he ruined the family that ruined him. Now, the daughter of the family is an adult, and growing up in poverty in France for the past ten years has not only made her immune to the more shocking aspects of life, it’s also made her into a pickpocket and opportunistic criminal. Her hope for getting out of that life is marriage. 

The whole tone of this book is, as I said, very Kresley Cole, so I know it’s going to be drama and angst central that will keep stressing me out more and more (even when there’s a little plateau for us readers to catch our breaths, we just KNOW there’s the other shoe about to drop) until it’s resolved at the very end. So if you like that kind of tension in your reads, and you’ve been avoiding Kresley Cole because you’re not into paranormal romance, this might be a fun book for you. If you’re looking for soft stuff, probably steer clear of this one. 

Buy Now: Amazon

Want to join us in tackling your TBR? Next month’s theme is Festive.


Review: The Master by Kresley Cole (2015)

The Game Maker, Book #2

Review of The Game Maker, Book #1

Heat Factor: They have amazing kinky hate sex energy

Character Chemistry: The “I hate you but I really want to jump you” dynamic is EXCEPTIONAL

Plot: She needs money to stay on the run from her serial killer husband, so she steps in for her friend as a very expensive escort for a night. He is bowled over by her breath of fresh air in his luxurious but monotonous life, but he also thinks everything she says is a lie. So obviously they fall in love.

Overall: Combo of “What did I even just read?” and “That was amazing.”

Continue reading “Review: The Master by Kresley Cole (2015)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: The Professional by Kresley Cole (2014)

The Game Maker, Book #1

Heat Factor: These two are just so creative

Character Chemistry: It. Is. So. Angsty. 

Plot: Natalie is kidnapped from her bath by her heretofore unknown, sexy AF bodyguard and flown to meet her also heretofore unknown Billionaire Russian mobster father. And that’s just the first three chapters. 


Continue reading “Review: The Professional by Kresley Cole (2014)”
Dueling Review, Rant, Recommended Read

Review: A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole (2006)

All three of the Smut Reporters read A Hunger Like No Other. Erin and Ingrid loved it, but Holly was a little meh on the whole thing. Which means it’s time for a Dueling Review!

Immortals After Dark, Book 1

Let’s start by each giving our metric for rating the book:


Heat Factor: There was a point I told my husband to stop talking to me because I was in the middle of some hot, bitey werewolf/vampire sex

Character Chemistry: For the first few chapters I was extremely concerned by his anger and her cluelessness, but they turned it around.

Plot: Innocent, sheltered vampire tames powerful, fierce werewolf

Overall: Hahaha, Yaaaaaaas!


Heat Factor: Never accept a blow job from a vampire. 

Character Chemistry: “I hate you! But you’re my mate! I am so confused!”

Plot: Uh, all the magical creatures are being forced into confrontation so that they can kill each other off. And that means that this werewolf finally finds his mate and she’s a vampire and he hates vampires. And that’s just chapter 1! 

Overall: This book was well-executed, but epic paranormal romances are so not my jam. 


Heat Factor: I really can’t deny the steam factor in this one.

Character Chemistry: It went from “Omg these guys need therapy. Separately.” to “They’re going to have 10 babies and I love it so much” in pages. PAGES.

Plot: Ok, well…she’s really green about the fangs and he’s got some centuries of torture issues going on and then they turn it all around and heads come off and furniture gets broken but like, in a hot way.

Overall: I had a few spots where I was like, oh no I don’t know if this is going to work, but then it was extremely diverting and I ended up really liking it.

Continue reading “Review: A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole (2006)”

Saturday Smutty Six: Halloweekend

It’s Halloweekend! We had a fun few minutes talking vampires and witches and demons (oh my!) on our text chat, so we thought we’d share some fun, possibly suspenseful, probably delightful, definitely a little bit ridiculous, but not especially spooky books today. If you’re in the mood to read for the holiday, we present The Smut Report’s 2020 Halloween recommendations without further ado.

As usual, clicking the title will take you to the Amazon page…

The Demon Always Wins by Jeanne Oates Estridge

Belial knows that he’d be a natural as the Chief Executive Demon of Hell…all he has to do to prove his worth to Satan is sway God’s chosen one to the path of darkness. Easy, right? Wrong. Dara immediately knows that Belial is not really a sexy doctor. The back and forth between Belial and Dara as they navigate the path between good and evil makes for a really satisfying romance. Bonus points for a hilarious depiction of hell as the worst corporation ever.

Necromancer Rising by Ashton Abbott

This is a classic, sexy fated mates but with lots of corpses and limbs being torn off and blood squirting and stuff. There’s a sort of mystical world being built here with plenty of interwoven backstory and darkness, but there’s also a lot of rebirth and love. If you like everything paranormal and adore your happily ever after with a side of despair and a sprinkling of neck snapping, you’ll love this spooky, sexy story.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti’s lack of a soul has always been a real trial to her, in no small part because it keeps her under the eye of Lord Maccon, gruff and messy alpha of the local werewolf pack and head of BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry). When a vampire tries to bite her without consent, violating all the rules of appropriate vampire etiquette, Alexia finds herself in the middle of a BUR mystery. Read for the most nonsensical and entertaining voice in a steampunk Victorian world. 

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

If you’re curious about the Immortals After Dark series but aren’t ready to commit to a full-length book, start with this one! It’s book .5 in the series and features a vampire who really wants to find his bride (who will start his heart beating again) and a valkyrie who kills vampires as a hobby, so she’s got no problem getting all the sexytimes she needs from him and then ending him (maybe literally?) when the time comes. Things get spicy when immortal takes on immortal.

Riley Thorn and the Dead Guy Next Door by Lucy Score

So this one isn’t your usual ghosts and goblins type fare, but we do have a book packed full of absurdity and steamy scenes. Riley is divorced (and completely screwed over), living in a house with a bunch of elderly roommates. Plus, one of her elderly roommates gets murdered, and here’s where it gets absurd–she’s psychic, and because she tried to warn the guy AND the police, she’s now on the murderer’s radar. Enter Nick Santiago, private investigator. (I so want to make a joke here, but I’m a very strong woman.) Nick’s job is to solve the case, but he can’t really do it without Riley’s help–and he ONLY works solo. This book is absolutely hilarious, and so well done…it’s a completely fresh and sexy romance packed full of wild capers, perfect for a stress-free Halloween.

Tall, Dark, and Kilted by Allie Mackay

This book is utterly ridiculous. The hero is a ghost named…HARDWICK DE STUDLY. And he makes a deal with the devil that means he can finally rest from his hundreds of years of haunting the earth, if and only if he can manage to not get a single boner for a year and a day. Too bad Cilla shows up at the castle he has decided to haunt. Is this book very silly? Yes. Are there glaring plot holes and bits of complete nonsense? Yes again. Has Holly been using it as an in-joke with her husband for the past five years because it is just that delightful? Yes, yes, YES!