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.

12 Tropes of 2020 Challenge – Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert

May/December from
12 Tropes of 2020

Refers to a romantic relationship where there is a drastic difference in age between the two participants.

Taken from TV Tropes

“Some say I’m robbing the cradle, but I say she’s robbing the grave!”

Hubert FarnsworthFuturama

Better Not Pout
by Annabeth Albert

One hard-nosed military police officer.

One overly enthusiastic elf.

One poorly timed snowstorm.

Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?

Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand.

The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind. 

Blurb taken from Goodreads

My thoughts

Better Not Pout has been on my reading list for a while now, I remember making grand plans to read it all the way back in December 2017… it only took me two years to read it. I am very glad that I did eventually read this book as I found it to be quite a sweet and tender hearted novel.

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Tough Guy by Rachel Reid

Tough Guy

by Rachel Reid.

They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?

Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.

Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.

Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

Taken from book blurb.

Release Date: January 13, 2020.

Length: 262 pages.

Series: Game Changers #3.

Genre: QUILTBAG. Romance. M/M Romance.

Read as: an eBook.

Sourced: NetGalley.


My Thoughts

Rachel Reid continues to blow me away. Not only does she make me want to know more about Hockey but she compels me to read her books in one session with her engaging characters and dynamic relationships. Although it is the start of the year, I feel like I have found a 2020 favourite in Tough Guy.

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Long Lost Review: Snakes Among Sweet Flowers by Jason Huffman-Black

Long Lost Reviews Icon

Snakes Among Sweet Flowers

Jason Huffman-Black.

Two-time ex-con Camden Sanders has decided that Hog Mountain—an isolated community on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia—is the perfect place to continue running small scams without the threat of more prison time. But there are a few problems with this plan. One is the neighbourly citizens of Hog Mountain thwarting his dirty dealings at every turn with their kindness. Another is Jackson Rhodes, a closeted Hog Mountain police officer who can see right through Cam’s good ol’ boy act and plans to catch him red-handed despite the attraction they both can feel. But the biggest problem of all is that Cam’s past is threatening to catch up with him, and it could mean trouble for more than just himself.

Taken from book blurb

Okay so I had always intended to review this book because I loved it. When I first read Snakes Among Sweet Flowers, it was a highlight of the year and I gave it a re-read last year and it stood the test of time because I still loved it.

I am a big sucker for stories that feature down trodden, poor, or struggling characters. I do not know why I love them so much but I really enjoy seeing characters suffer (omg I am terrible) but still manage to fall in love. I especially love the stories where the problems of a character aren’t magically fixed by falling in love, they just have someone else to share the struggles.

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