Kim’s Review of Eyes Wide Open (The Blackstone Affair #3) by Raine Miller

ewormAfter reading the first two books in The Blackstone Affair trilogy, Naked and All In, I was anxious to begin reading book three, Eyes Wide Open, to see where Ethan and Brynne’s story would go.  Raine Miller had me hooked and intrigued, wondering how their epic, tumultuous, and whirlwind romance would conclude! (It’s been announced that a fourth book is in the works – YAY!)

I’ll let Goodreads do the talking with regards to the plot:

Big surprises are on the horizon for Ethan and Brynne as they struggle to adjust to what life has thrown at them. Demons from the past are threatening to destroy the passionate bond they’ve forged despite their vow that nothing will ever keep them apart. A truly devastating loss coupled with the promise of a new hope opens their eyes to what is most important, but is it possible for the lovers to move on from the painful histories that continue to haunt them? A stalker is still lurking in the shadows, plotting evil amidst the distraction of the 2012 Olympic games in London. Brynne and Ethan are on the cusp of losing everything as the stakes rise. Will they yield to circumstances beyond their control or will they give every ounce of fight they have left to save each other and win the ultimate prize of a life together?

Eyes Wide Open is a passion-wrought story that shows us what pure love can achieve when tested and what the heart can accomplish despite danger and adversity.

My biggest complaint about the first two books in this series was that I didn’t think the characters loved each other.  I felt like they lusted after each other and mistook that for love.  I’m happy to say that Eyes Wide Open delved deeper into Brynne and Ethan’s relationship and helped me understand them a lot better.  In order to understand them as a couple we needed to understand them as individuals.  Eyes Wide Open did open my eyes to who they were, but most specifically, who Ethan is.  The amount of darkness he has had to deal with on a personal level makes his (at times) overbearing personality understandable.  His need to be in control makes total sense in the grand scheme of his life.  The fact that Brynne understands the reason behind his control issues and accepts them proves what a perfect partner she is for Ethan.  Her ability to look over all his “quirks” and push back at the appropriate times shows that. she isn’t a woman to mess with.  Sure, she bows to Ethan’s wishes at times, but not without making her feelings on the subject known and working on a compromise with him.

One other added plus to this series?  Miller’s approach to nude art.  The human body truly is a beautiful thing that can definitely become a work of art, as the cover of Naked clearly demonstrates.  To have Brynne be a model for these types of portraits and then explain the importance of being said model makes a bold statement about nude art that any art lover can appreciate.

I’m truly excited that Miller has planned more books for not only these characters, but some of the supporting characters in the series as well.  Ethan is a hot sexy specimen of a man and one I’m just not ready to let go of yet.  I’m hooked on the lives of these characters, and that’s the greatest compliment I can give Miller.  They’ve moved beyond the realm of stories and characters and feel now like old, well-known friends.

4 out of 5 Stars

Eyes Wide Open by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2013)
eBook: 272 pages
ISBN: 9781476735610

Special thanks to Atria Books for my review copy via Netgalley!

The April Roundup!

I can’t believe it!  At the end of April I had 70 books under my belt; this is the fastest reading pace I’ve done yet!  That’s 30 books ahead of schedule!  You can see a list of all the books I’ve read so far here.  With all of the reading I’ve done recently, you’d think I didn’t have enough time for anything else.  Well, that was not the case.  We had a month packed with all sorts of family/friend events that kept me running around!

Beautiful RuinsTo start the month off right, Todd, Jess, and I attended a book signing by Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins.  What an amazing author!  Jess was full of energy and a great all around guy.  I was fortunate enough to get my book signed by him and chat with him afterwards.  Overall, it was yet another wonderful event put on by R.J. Julia.  If you haven’t been there yet, get to it!  The following weekend, we attended a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in our town put on by the local Knights of Columbus.  It is a huge beer and food festival, with tons of local and regional breweries on hand with plenty of samples and a ton of food too.  Delicious!

Next, it was on to watch the Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey team as they played in the national championship games!  We originally went to New Haven to get together with fellow alums to watch Quinnipiac take on St. Cloud in the Frozen Four semifinal game.  After winning that game, the Bobcats stayed in Pittsburgh to play Yale in the national championship.  We attended a game watch at a local bar and cheered on the Bobcats, but sadly they lost.  There’s always next year though!

IMG_20130509_085129Finally, I have to end this roundup on a slightly sad note.  Recently we had been noting that Sebastian (one of our two cats) had been coughing a lot.  Todd was able to take a day off of work and took him to the vet, where he had an x-ray (he had to be sedated as he can be slightly grumpy at times).  It turns out that he may have slight asthma, and the pills we got are doing the trick, so he is feeling much better!  Look at this cute face!

So on the reading front, the 27 books I read in April were primarily all new adult books.  This is seriously my new favorite genre.  I’ve already posted reviews on two of my favorites: Easy by Tammara Webber and Losing It by Cora Carmack.  AHH this genre is the bomb. I have many more recommendations for this genre, so keep an eye on my upcoming reviews.

Speaking of reviews, here is what’s on the schedule for the rest of May.  Sam’s going to be reviewing a new YA novel entitled The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison.  Todd’s working on Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano and A Year in Beer and Food by Emily Baime and Darin Michaels.  Christine will be reviewing Over the Rainbow by Paul Pickering and I’m working on Eyes Wide Open by Raine Miller, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Stranded with a Billionaire by Jessica Clare, and The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen among others.  It promises to be a full month as always.

I hope your April was as fun-filled and bookish as ours was!

Until next time, happy reading!

Kim’s Review of Naked (The Blackstone Affair #1) and All In (The Blackstone Affair #2) by Raine Miller

I’m a sucker for books set in London. I’m also a sucker for romance novels. Oh and hot men. Throw all three together and you’ll understand why I jumped at the chance to read Naked and All In, the first two books in Raine Miller’s The Blackstone Affair series.  Also, did I mention that part of it takes place at the Olympics!?  Was this book made for me or what?

nakedBook one in the series is called Naked.  The summary from Goodreads:

Brynne Bennett is living the good life. An American art student at the University of London and part-time photographic model, she’s putting her life back on track with school and lots of hard work. When ultra successful London businessman, Ethan Blackstone, buys her nude portrait, he isn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. He wants Brynne in his bed and makes plans to keep her there no matter what. His dominant nature captivates and ensnares despite the demons she carries inside her. But there are secrets in this relationship. Huge ones. Can Ethan free Brynne from the past that has marked her? Will Brynne let him or will the specters tormenting her resurface to destroy them both…

all inBook two in the series is called All In.  The summary from Goodreads:

Ethan Blackstone has a problem on his hands. He’s broken Brynne’s trust and she’s left him. He’s unwilling to live without her and isn’t giving up—he’s dead-set on getting his beautiful American girl back. The passion between them was explosive, but the secrets they hid from each other are dark and chilling and are powerful enough to destroy their shot at a life together. With political threats now directed at Brynne, Ethan is running out of time and he’ll need to gather all his strength and agility to protect her from the dangers that could take her away from him forever. Will Ethan be able to save Brynne from a past that keeps her locked in fear? Will he ever feel the warmth of her touch, the solidity of her trust again? This is a love-struck man who is willing to do whatever it takes to possess the heart of the woman he loves. He’ll go to any lengths to protect her. He’ll go all in. Here is the fiery story of what happens when two people surrender to a love so great it can heal the scars of the past and give way to a life of pure, rapturous ecstasy.

So when I started reading Naked my feelings were all over the damn place.  I was first drawn to the premise of the novel, a man falling in love with a nude model simply because of the beauty of one of her portraits.  Simple, yet intriguing.  As I read more into Naked I began getting interested in the darkness that both Ethan and Brynne so obviously tried to hide from their pasts (I have a thing for characters with messed up pasts).  There was definite pain and suffering for both, and the fact that Miller gets you invested in them prior to revealing the darkness of their past deserves kudos.  You are introduced to these characters and asked to care about them without much more than surface knowledge.  You wind up getting pulled deeper and deeper into the web of their secrets and become genuinely invested in the hope of a positive future for them.  As I finished Naked and delved into All In, I became more and more interested in Ethan’s character and his feelings towards his relationship with Brynne.  It’s rare (in my opinion) to find romance novels where a man of Ethan’s looks and wealth has to work as hard as he does to convince Brynne of his worthiness/love.

There were times, however, where I got lost in the depths of Ethan’s feelings.  I don’t think the writing makes a clear distinction between love and lust, so at times Ethan “loving” Brynne felt more like an unquenchable lust.  That I think was my biggest problem with the series.  As much as I enjoyed the characters and their back stories, I didn’t feel their love, just their lust.  I will admit that towards the end of All In I did finally begin to feel the change, and that’s the reason I’ll continue the series.  Another interesting note about this series: the writing is HOT.  Like  constantly-fan-yourself hot.  I’m interested in seeing where else Miller will take Brynne and Ethan and what new secrets will be revealed.  I’ll definitely be checking out book three Eyes Wide Open when it’s released in May.

3 out 5 Stars

Naked by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2012)
eBook: 192 pages
ISBN: 9781476735252

All In by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2012)
eBook: 256 pages
ISBN: 9781476735283

Special thanks to Atria Books for my review copies via Netgalley!