Smut Talk: The Seen Trilogy by Cynthia Sax

Made up of five parts, The Seen Trilogy is an erotica romance series that explores a number of kinks and romantic entanglements. The first three novellas of the original trilogy follow Anna Sampson and her romantic adventures with Gabriel Blaine unfold across three main arcs, watch, touch, and claim.

The other two books in the series follow two side characters from the first three books as they too find not only love but some steamy action in Blaine Technologies.


He Watches Me

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The first novella in the series starts off strong with the main focus being on the start of the relationship between Anna and Gabriel. Established quite quickly is the fact that Anna is quite impoverished, currently house sitting a large mansion, she struggles with money and has self worth issues stemming from her mother’s abandonment and father’s death in jail.

Sneaking into her neighbours yard, Anna begins to skinny dip in the pool. Thus begins the voyeuristic relationship between Anna and Gabriel. The romance around the pair focuses on Gabriel watching Anna and doesn’t branch out until the second novella.

He Touches Me

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Starting where the first novella left of He Touches Me sees the relationship between Anna and Gabriel develop. No longer just a sexual relationship based on voyeurism, the pair begin a more hands on approach to their encounters. While not taking the final step in the relationship, Anna and Gabriel explore a number of kinky situations with a focus still being on the exhibitionist tendencies of the pair.

The second book also sees Anna look for a second job as she continues to struggle with money and mounting issues relating to her house sitting. The power dynamic of the pair makes a big change as Anna begins to work for Gabriel. Coupled with Anna’s issues with money and her struggles to adequately feed herself (every lunch time we see her not eating very much or only eating crackers) the shift in power dynamics does start to raise some red flags.

Another problematic part of the series really starts to hit in the second book, Anna’s coworker Michael. Wealthy son of a Hollywood actress, Michael works alongside Anna at a charitable organisation. At first he is harmless but as He Touches Me he really pushes the line.

He Claims Me

Rating: 3 out of 5.

He Claims Me sees the main story of Anna and Gabriel end, with the pair overcoming boundaries, criminal accusations, and personal issues to be together. He Claims Me also sees the introduction of the character Henley who is not only included in the pairs voyeuristic encounters but features in the next novel.

The story does wrap up rather well, with Anna’s job at Gabriel’s business, Blaine Technologies, going well. It was quite comforting to see Anna start to form more positive and healthy relationships with those around her and any issues I had with the power balance of the first two books even out as Anna settles more into herself.

What I did enjoy about the series is the insistence throughout the three books from Gabriel that what they have is a serious relationship. While Anna was a bit skittish at the beginning, Gabriel was clear from the beginning what the relationship was and meant to him.


Flashes of Me

(The Seen Trilogy 3.1)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Henley, the head of cyber security at Blaine Technologies, is a man no one crosses. He watches employees constantly, using his network of cameras, and enforces his rules by any means possible. Rumors of his violent past, along with his scarred hands and huge size, have resulted in his being feared by everyone … almost everyone.

Katalina, the new intern, worries about the revelation of her most painful secret much more than she fears her sexy boss’s wrath. She sees the loneliness in his dark eyes, feels the gentleness in his marred fingers, tastes the need in his kisses … and she knows he watches her. His silly rules about not stripping for the cameras and no sex at the office are destined to be broken.

Kat likes to be watched. Henley can’t look away. Will this beauty be able to tame her beastly boss?

Taken from book blurb

After finishing He Claims Me, I was looking forward to seeing more of Henley. While I did enjoy the book and did like Henley as a character, I really wasn’t sold on Katalina. I often found myself rolling my eyes or feeling put out about her behaviour, especially seeing as the main kink that is explored in the novel is exhibitionism. Which often saw Katalina acting out by ‘flashing’ security cameras, which for me, came off as more childish than sexual.

What really threw me with Katalina was the almost bimbo persona she was happy to wear almost all the time. The book was littered with her referring back to ‘what her Father would say’ and acting oblivious.

While I can understand and see quite clearly that these were defence mechanisms that Katalina used to deflect from personal and emotional subjects, it none the less had me quite put out at her behaviour. Especially since by grace of her appearance and act, she was somehow above reproach about braking uniform regulations and other code of conduct behaviours.

While Flashes of Me was an entertaining read that explored more of a character I enjoyed from the first three books in the series, it was a real let down.


Breaking All The Rules

(The Seen Trilogy 3.2)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Nathan Lawford, Blaine Technologies’ chief financial officer, is known as the Iceman. He conducts his personal and business affairs without emotion, never allowing himself to become involved with anyone. When Nate sees something or someone he wants, he negotiates, paying a simple, set monetary price.

Now he wants Camille, the company’s green-haired intern.

Camille Joplin Trent never expected to be paid to pleasure the man of her dreams. She can’t quite figure out why this is a bad thing. Nate is intelligent, handsome, sophisticated, everything she’s ever wanted in a lover and never thought she could have. Their contract is for a month, thirty lust-filled days of making every sexual fantasy they’ve ever had come true. At the end of this month, the rules state their relationship will end.

Of course, Camille has never been good at following rules.

Taken from book blurb

Once again I was looking to seeing more of a character from the first three books in the series and once again I was disappointed. Camille, otherwise known as Goth Girl, from Anna’s previous charity job was a large character, not large in that she had a big part in the story or physically, just that she was quite uncompromising in her appearance.

In Breaking All The Rules we see Camille as a toned down version of herself. Where she once had tattoos and piercings we find out that the tattoos were all temporary, and her piercings have been taken out. The one remaining feature from her time in the first three books is her green hair. Sadly no longer a mo-hawk now long and flowing. The toning down of Camille was not only disappointing but insulting, almost as if we are readers couldn’t handle or envision such a characters as a romantic lead. No, in order to fit into not only Blaine Technologies but romance viewership, she had to conform 🙄🙄🙄

The kinks exhibited in Breaking All The Rules are a bit different than those of its predecessors. While certainly there are voyeuristic and exhibitionist elements, the main ‘kink’ comes from Nathan’s inability to be with anyone without it having to be a transaction. That is, Nathan doesn’t sleep with people unless he is paying them. Camille is happy to go along with this however, as she just wants to spend time with the notorious Iceman.

The last book in The Seen Trilogy feels like such a cop out. I was looking forward to seeing the ‘Goth Girl’ get her happy ending but instead was treated to a watered down version of the character with all of her ‘nonconformist behaviour’ being attributed to her hippee parents. Also, leather suits? Really?!


The Seen Trilogy

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Seen Trilogy is very kink friendly and while it is written in first person, it still manages to make an emotional connection with readers. While parts of the books can be seen as problematic, they are not all bad with a lot of the issues playing out naturally (Anna and the harressment at her job) or being explained through character actions (Katalina’s ‘bimbo’ persona).

All of the books were okay, almost all of the books rated three stars but as is with a lot of contemporary erotic romance novels, the books did push the idea of the ‘alpha’ male. Each book exhibited problematic language around men being in charge and the woman being subservient to them. While the female characters did hold an equal footing in the physical, emotional, and sexual relationships of the book, there none the less was this element within the books.

Either way, I read them all in a day and was otherwise entertained from my illness that allowed me to read all day. I suppose as long as you take all of these books with a grain of salt, they aren’t too bad.

Quick Queer Reviews – LGBTQ+ Sci-Fi Romance

I don’t usually read too much science fiction but when I do, I tend to go on a binge. So recently I have been bingeing some science fiction romance books that feature QUILTBAG characters – and loving it! The below are some of the books I have been reading and a quick little review of them.

Enjoy!


LGBTQ+ Science Fiction Romance


Tit for Tat by R. Cooper

Tat never expected a future. A lower-caste Luudi who left her planet and made a new home with a group of idealistic humans, she spends her time looking out for new family and working in secret to rescue refugees from a neighboring country. She is content with what she has, if sometimes lonely.

Then a Pros arrives their tense little border town. Although mostly human, the Pros were genetically engineered to look perfect and to offer pleasure, both physically and psychically. Beautiful, sophisticated Cin is no exception, which is why when she approaches Tat, Tat knows it can’t be personal. Luudi are big, strong, purple, and impervious to psychic influence—making Tat the safest outlet for someone like Cin. Tat says yes with no expectation that Cin would ever want more, while convinced the danger will eventually drive Cin away.

But the Pros can take care of themselves, as well as any quietly heroic Luudi who catches their eye—if only that Luudi would let them. Tat has spent so long helping others find a future, it doesn’t occur to her to seek out her own even when her silence might cost her the one she wants.

Taken from book blurb

I loved Tit for Tat so much! Think alien and not so human lesbians in space, fighting against a fascist regime. I loved it so much, I have a Romance Recommendation post about it. So be sure to keep an eye out for it!

Also I read this book for my Hopeful Reads of 2020 challenge and am so glad I did because not only was it a 5 star read but it was what got me started on my sci-fi binge 🚀

Continue reading “Quick Queer Reviews – LGBTQ+ Sci-Fi Romance”

12 Tropes of 2020 – The Alpha’s Warlock by Eliot Grayson

Enemies-to-Lovers from
12 Tropes of 2020

The two characters often have a long history of conflict with each other. They may be on opposite sides of a struggle, or may have just met under unfortunate circumstances and their personalities clashed.

Taken from Fanlore.

The Alpa’s Warlock
by Eliot Grayson

Cursed, mated, and in for the fight of their lives…

Warlock Nate Hawthorne just wants a cup of coffee. Is that too much to ask? Apparently. Because instead of precious caffeine, all he gets is cursed by a pack of werewolves who want to use him for his magic. Now the only way to fix the damage is a mate bond to a grumpy and oh-so-sexy alpha in the rival pack, who happens to hate him. This is so not how he wanted to start his day.

Ian Armitage never intended to take Nate as his mate. The Hawthorne family can’t be trusted. Ian knows that better than anyone. The fact that he’s lusted after the way-too-gorgeous man for years? Totally irrelevant. Ian’s just doing what is necessary to protect his pack. This whole mating arrangement has nothing to do with love and never will. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.

Nate and Ian will have to work together if they have any hope of staving off the pack’s enemies and averting disaster. That’s assuming they can stop arguing (and keep their hands off each other) long enough to save the day…

The Alpha’s Warlock is an explicit M/M paranormal romance featuring a snarky warlock, a brooding alpha werewolf, knotting, enchanted socks (long story), and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Taken from book blurb

My thoughts

I tend to steer away from books with ‘Alpha’ in the title but the blurb on this book was too good to pass up. From the first chapter to the end I was enamoured with the two characters Nate and Ian.

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – The Alpha’s Warlock by Eliot Grayson”

Small Snippet of August 2020

Star Trek: Lower Decks

Star Trek: Lower Decks is everything I had hoped it would be! The show is funny, beautifully canon, and full of adventures within the lower ranks of Star Fleet. I refuse to give any negative words about this show any time of day because for once, Star Trek i leaning into it’s fun side.

The humour has always been present in the show but it is great to see a series finally grip it with both hands and produce something that is entertaining and fun. I would recommend that even the most die hard and anti-cartoon Star Trek fans watch at least one episode of this show. Give it a go!

Continue reading “Small Snippet of August 2020”

Quick Non-Fic Reviews – Style and Beauty

You may noticed that I work in a library and you also may have noticed that I have a tendency to borrow waaay too many books. My previous Quick Non-Fic Reviews were so fun to write that I’ve decided to keep doing them, as I for some inexplicable reason, I have not stopped borrowing books😋 This post will look at all of the Style and Beauty books that I have borrowed recently and read.


Style and Beauty

The Skincare Bible: Your No-Nonsense Guide to Great Skin by Anjali Mahto

I have a persistent acne problem that, despite being in my 30’s, has not disappeared with age. The Skincare Bible is not only great because it is written by an actual dermatologist but because the author is very open about their own skin care concerns. I found out a lot of information about adult-onset acne as well as the importance of maintaining a skin cleanse routine. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about their skin!


The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits from 30 Pieces by Wendy Mak

It wasn’t until I flipped through this books a bit before I decided to borrow it – the idea of having a wardrobe made up of only 30 items of clothing was not only intriguing but was hard for me to understand. After reading the book I still think it is a great concept but it’s not something that I would be able to pull off 😓 Still the book did inspire me to look a little closer at the clothes I do wear the most and did lead me to cleaning out the clothes I never wear.


50 Ways to Wear: Accessories by Lauren Friedman

I may be a bit of a fashion tragic, so it’s always good to have a go to guide for fashion tips. 50 Ways to Wear: Accessories had a number of good hints and tricks that I had never thought to try. Certainly I have a number of the items featured in the book, but there are suggestions for different ways to utilise them. For example, I have a very plain black (boring) sunhat that I now know can be spruced up with one of the many scarves I have laying around.


Work Your Wardrobe: Gok’s Gorgeous Guide to Style’s That Lasts by Gok Wan

I adored Gok Wan’s TV show How to Look Good Naked when it first aided over 10 years ago. It came during a really pivotal time in my life where I was really struggling with my self esteem and figuring out what made me look good. The show was always guaranteed to make a cry so it’s quite nice to know that this book is more advice than emotional and uplifting moments for people.

The book offers a number of simple styles that you can either work towards your body shape or ways that you can alter the style to offer a number of alternative ways to wear the style. The first section looks at simple white button up shirts, then Gok lets you know different ways you can wear it, what to pair it with, accessorises to look into, and then lets you know of cheap and glamorous ways to purchase the style. This book is really uplifting and even though it is quite old, the styles in the book didn’t feel dated.


Anticipated Arrival Rundown: MIB: International and Tropico 6

Anticipated Arrived Rundown

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post an Anticipated Arrival Rundowns, but I’ve finally gotten around to watching and playing the below items. So check out the below things that I have previously anticipated arriving!


MIB: International

PostAnticipated Arrival: MIB: International

I have finally gotten around to watching this movie.

I say finally because not only did I miss it at the cinemas, but I have had this DVD checked out at the library for over four months. Terrible, I know! Over the end of the year break, I finally forced myself to sit down watch this movie.

It was okay. Not going to lie, I was expecting more chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson, if only because they were great together in Thor: Ragnarok. But other than that it was a decent film and scored extra points simply because Emma Thompson was in it.

And yes, in reference to my original post, Tessa Thompson in a suit was everything I dreamed 🥰

Continue reading “Anticipated Arrival Rundown: MIB: International and Tropico 6”

12 Tropes of 2020 – Hearts of Darkness by Andrea Speed

Superheroes from
12 Tropes of 2020

Adventures, personalities and ethics of costumed crime fighters known as superheroes, who often possess superhuman powers and battle similarly powered criminals known as supervillains.

Taken from Wikipedia

Hearts of Darkness
by Andrea Speed

Kaede Hiyashi is sick and tired of living in the shadow of his father, supervillain Doctor Terror. Brilliant but crazy, Doctor Terror sends his son to Corwyn, California, for reasons Kaede can’t imagine. Sent to accompany and protect him is Ash, a genetically modified supersoldier raised and trained by an infamous death cult.

Corwyn is lousy with superheroes, led by the obnoxious Dark Justice. Kaede finds himself dancing around Dark Justice as he digs into his father’s mysterious business and teaches his socially awkward—but physically lethal—bodyguard to acclimate to “normal” life. Can these two wacky supervillains figure out what Doctor Terror wants them to do, solve the riddle of the villain known as Black Hand, and keep Dark Justice from raining on their bloody parade? The course of love—and world domination—never did run smooth.

Blurb taken from book blurb

My thoughts

I really enjoy reading queer superhero romance novels – there is just something so satisfying about being able to see these larger than life characters not only occupy the ‘hero’ archetype but to see them love freely is what that I love reading. Sadly there are not that many published queer superhero romance novels – don’t get me wrong they are out there but they can be hard to find 😅

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – Hearts of Darkness by Andrea Speed”

Small Snippet of July 2020

As always I am still at work, sometimes working with the public can be quite trying and reopening with strict safety guidelines has been especially trying. Please everyone, if there are entry requirements, don’t argue with the person enforcing them at the door; if they are the ones on the front line they did not have anything to do with making the rules.

So I hope everyone is staying safe and staying sane 😋

Plastic Free July

While I am not going the full slog of removing all of my plastic use, I have made a few changes and am trying to cut down on how much plastic I use. These changes have seen me start to use a shampoo bar which means I have not purchased any new shampoo bottles. I now have a bamboo toothbrush that after I have used it can recycle. I have also started to use a solid moisturiser.

All of these things have been surprising as I am enjoying them so much. The shampoo bar has done amazing things to my hair and I no longer have greasy hair two days after washing!

Continue reading “Small Snippet of July 2020”

The Reading Rush 2020

The lovely Jess from The Never Ending Bookshelf brought The Reading Rush to my attention towards the end of June. My goodness the time must have slipped by because next thing I knew the readathon had started!

Beginning on the 20th of July and ending on the 26th, the readathon is for book lovers all around the world. For one week readers gather together to read as much as they possibly can, all the while participating in a range of challenges. I have never actually taken part in a readathon but thought The Reading Rush was a good place to begin.

The Challenges

Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birth stone

October had the birthstones of Opal and Tourmaline, so I was looking for a pink, white, or rainbow book cover. The below are books that I read that fit the challenge.

Part four in The Seen Trilogy,’ Flashes of Me was a quick and erotic read that explored the story of one of the characters from the first three books. It was a quick and easy read and while I thought some parts and descriptions from the series were problematic, I none the less still enjoyed them.

Read a book that starts with the word “The”

I have had The Alpha’s Warlock on my TBR list for a while now and finally decided to give it a read. In order to read this lovely book I did try Amazon Unlimited, which turned out to be quite good but not as good as the book, which I adored. Keep your eye out for a post about this gem of a book as it will feature in my 12 Tropes of 2020 challenge.

Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen

Whoopsie, I didn’t actually read anything that was adapted for film or tv 😅

Read the first book you touch

To complete this challenge, I grabbed a bunch of my physical books that I have in my literal to be read pile, plunked them down, gave them a shuffle, and then picked the first one I touched. Eh voilà we landed on Barry Lewis.

If you don’t know, Barry Lewis is a youtube cooking sensation who more than ten years ago started his channel to document and share his cooking adventures. The first videos are very much an educational journey as we learn to literally cook with Barry. I was lucky enough to find Barry just at the start of the pandemic so I have been keeping myself entertained with his brilliant new videos and backlog. If you have a few minutes, I really recommend giving him a watch, follow the link and check out one of my favourite videos!

I have had this little beauty of a cookbook sitting around waiting to be read for about a month now, and I am glad I finally gave it a read. A bunch of great recipes and I absolutely adored the section about kitchen hacks and the tips and tricks.

Read a book completely outside of your house

So this challenge this was obviously made ‘Before Covid’ or BC for short 😋 So with this in mind I have changed it to:

READ A BOOK COMPLETELY INSISE THE ONE ROOM OF YOUR HOUSE on one day

Since I was feeling a little under the weather this week, I have spent A LOT of time in bed, staying warm and trying to just stay healthy. So I have read a lot of books completely inside my bedroom, so check them all out below!

Surprise, I read a whole book series, the below is The Seen Trilogy which was published in five parts 😋 The books are all erotica romances and were quick and easy reads. The first three follow the same couple and spans across their relationship while the last two are about side characters. The series as a whole was okay, it explored some different kinks, and also had some problematic moments but they were decent reads.

Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of

I had wanted to add a biography in here but sadly I did not get around to actually reading the biography I had picked out but I can always stand to read more queer science fiction. There is just something so huge and awe-inspiring about the science fiction genre that gets me, just like the fantasy genre it does lend it self to being able to have more happy queer stories – happy in the sense that they can exist outside of homophobia in different or more utopic environments.

Plus I have always wanted to read a Lisa Henry book, and it was amazing. Lisa Henry is an Australian author and it shows, I adored the descriptions of the outback and the comparisons between the colours of space to that of local flora.

Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live

Stage Dreams takes place on the North America continent and its historical depiction of a trans woman won my heart. I would really recommend giving this short graphic novel a read!

Check out everything that I read during the 2020 Reading Rush!

2020 Goals Check in

Happy half way through 2020!

So 2020 has been a huge shit show but hey, I’m healthy and safe. I am so happy that Australia is going as well as it has, especially considering I am still working my full hours. I hope everyone is staying safe and remember, you’re not superhuman – stay inside, wash your hands, and if you’re sick stay at home.


The below are some of the things I had hoped to achieve in 2020. Looking at them, I know that some are now not so attainable than the others. But I shall update you on my progress.

Blogging

Until recently I had been staying pretty up to date with my ARC reviews but since COVID-19 hit, it has really been on the back burner. I haven’t really been reading all that much and adding to it the expectations of having to review have been a real de-motivator. So sadly, I have been neglecting my ARCs of late.

I had looked to be going strong on posting throughout the year but once again, I didn’t have the motivation to keep posting, so I took a month long hiatus in May. I’m back though, I am posting only once a week though but am happy with this. Also my 12 Tropes of 2020 Challenge is going strong, so that is quite nice to keep marking tiles off my bingo card.

Reading

I have been reading more non-fiction this year. If we count cook books then I have really been hitting that genre hard! Recently I’ve read a bunch of mindfulness, self care, sustainability, and personal finance non fiction books, which have been nice easy reads to flip through.

Sadly I have not started The Folk of the Air series yet, though I am in queue for the first book in audiobook format from my library. Additionally I have read Tithe and Valiant and have just started on the third book, Ironside. So you could say that I have started the larger series on my way to this series 😋

Also I have read about 6.5 of the 16 books in my Hopeful Reads of 2020 so I am preforming quite well in this regard. Especially since the level set was at least half 😋

Gaming

Okay, so it says ‘start’ Surviving Mars. I started it and the tutorials were just so boooooring – so I stopped. I really need to start this again as it was a gift from my partner and I really want to give it a good try at least for them.

Not progress on Mass Effect 3 yet. Recovering my save file will have to be something I lean heavily on my partner for us I do not know how to 100% go about this – there is a program that I will probably have to use that lets you make all the choices from the first two Mass Effect games and make it into a save file. Also yay! I finished Pokemon: Sword!

Personal

Still slugging along on that house deposit even though it is becoming more and more likely that I will not be able to afford purchasing a house anytime soon – well I could but on my wage I wouldn’t be able to feed us. Sadly there has been no movement on the blanket front as I am not in the mood to work on it or focus in it after work.

I have completely crossed out and marked off PAX 2020 as I highly doubt it will be going ahead. And if it does, I will not be attending such a large event so soon after the pandemic. No offence but I will be paranoid for quite a while after it.

Hopefully the second half of 2020 is a lot kinder to all of us!


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