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Friday, April 27, 2012

Review - 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy

I have recently started the third, and last, book in the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. Make no mistake, the 50 Shades books are, at their heart, romances, pure and simple, albeit somewhat twisted. I am not normally a reader of romances.  They are mostly so predictable (this is at the insistence of publishers who issue specific guidelines about how and when plot twists must occur). Hero and heroine in romance novels typically hate each other until they love each other. It takes them most of the book to first, fight against, and then accept their mutual feelings.

It is the twistedness that makes the 50 Shades series interesting. Christian Grey is a unique and compelling hero. He is devastatingly handsome and fabulously successful but a severely abusive childhood finds him unable to reach sexual satisfaction as an adult except when acting as a Dominant, visiting bondage and discipline upon his Submissive partner. Guaranteed, author E. L. James tells you all you ever wanted to know about how B & D works in great and titillating detail, if in fact, you did want to know. Even if you think you didn't, you might find it more fascinating than you anticipated.

One minor problem I had with 50 Shades was the same one I had with the Twilight series. Is it really believable that worldly and sophisticated men like Vampire Edward and Dominant Christian fall in love with oh-so-innocent and rather ditzy heroines, like Bela and Anastasia Steele? Well, yes, I guess the story demands it because our ladies must be virginal and trusting in order for true love to conquer all which, we know from the start, despite some setbacks and misunderstandings, is what is going to happen.

I have only barely started Book Three of 50 Shades and already Christian and Ana are married with Christian having moved beyond his most controlling and negatives desires. This is my other small problem with the series. I don't believe much in people changing dramatically and quickly, even for love. Can Ana really cause such a metamorphosis in Grey's behavior when years of therapy couldn't?

Of course, we've been set us up for this. Christian, other than his sexual hang-ups, is good and kind and wonderful. He's a terrific employer, a philanthropist whose business goal is to develop technologies to help poor people....his mega-wealth being an almost incidental side effect. He is loving toward his adoptive family. He's even "kind" to his Submissives if you can get past butt plugs and floggers and nipple clamps and all the other accouterments of B & D he keeps in his playroom which Ana calls "The Red Room of Pain".

By Book Three, we're down to just the most erotic and playful and voluntary elements of B & D like hand cuffs and spanking. Ana is in full command at this point. Yes, he can still get angry and domineering but all she has to do is a) protest or b) vamp him and it's all over but the shouting.

I like my heroes to be as much anti-hero as hero. In my own books, the Rafe Vincennes series, ( or (, the first novel is Sociopath? Rafe's second grade teacher wonders whether a 7-year-old can merit that diagnosis. It is a question readers have to decide for themselves. Rafe too has the love of a beautiful woman but despite that, he remains flagrantly unfaithful. He believes society's rules don't apply to him. Bypassing cops and courts, he perpetrates his own brand of retribution upon those who harm him or his. Rafe too, has his good side, but he is definitely a 50/50 proposition, equal parts dark and light,  and it will be ever so. He will not be converted; he will not be redeemed.

And this is what I hope: that at the end of Book Three of the 50 Shades series, Christian still has a bit of his dark side because it is that which sets him apart and makes him more appealing than the general run of romance heroes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Further Adventures of Rafe Vincennes - To Love Or To Be Loved

The second volume in the adventures of Rafe Vincennes is now available through smashwords at on any e-reading device or via Kindle at at

NASCAR never has known what to make of Rafe Vincennes. Their driver ideal was Dale Earnhardt, a hardscrabble son of the south who fought his way to the top, stayed there with bull and brass and balls, then went out in a blaze of glory. 

Rafe wouldn't know hardscrabble if it smacked him in the face. His story is familiar to everyone by now. Drop-dead handsome, born to vast wealth, graduating a the top of his class at Princeton, becoming a movie star with a cult following that shoots every film he makes to number one, having a relationship and twins with the most beautiful (and beloved) actress in Hollywood. 

Wasn't it just the most breathtaking kind of presumption to now expect NASCAR to be handed to him on a silver platter. But that's exactly what happened - voted Rookie of the Year in his first season, a Sprint Cup champion by his third. In his hands, the Number 13 Chevrolet is more like a scalpel slicing surgically through the field than an intimidating instrument of blunt force. 

NASCAR, the sport of conservative social values, expects its heroes to be properly reverential of God, the Family and the Flag. Rafe doesn't even pretend to honor these beliefs. It's a bonus for fans when Rhiannon comes to the track with Rafe and those lucky enough to be in front of the autograph line get two for the price of one. But when she's not there, well, Rafe is flagrantly and unrepentantly unfaithful. 

And then, there are all those rumors about his penchant for visiting his own brand of unique retribution on those who wrong him. It's all part of Rafe's Rules of Vengeance, with number one being - "whatever anyone does to me, I do back to them times ten". 

So, should fans love Rafe or hate him? Should they cheer him or boo him? Rafe doesn't care one way or the other, he thinks how he lives his life is nobody's business but his.

Rafe's Reviews - Love him or hate him, Rafe is what he is!

Some reviews for Sociopath? I included the good, the bad and the ugly! Sociopath is extremely explicit and deals with taboo subject matter so I'm not surprised that some readers would be offended although you'd think posting a warning would give people a clue about what they might find inside! Anyway, here are the reviews. Make of them what you will!


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply Disturbing Look Into Sociopathic BehaviorFebruary 9, 2012
jt kalnay (cleveland, ohio) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sociopath? (Adventures of Rafe Vincennes) (Kindle Edition)
No-one will be ambivalent about this book. Many will start the first chapter, find the first disturbing scene, and stop reading. Then they may fuss and rant about "how could any author write that?" Don't stop reading. Keep reading. Keep reading to get inside the head of one of the cruelest, most sociopathic characters you will ever encounter. Keep reading to feel what he feels, when he feels it, and why he feels it. This book is written by someone who has "been there and done that." Her background in law enforcement has given her the insights into these types of sociopathic individuals. Her background in non-fiction brings a crisp, efficient style to the book. There are some scenes in the book (e.g., the bar fight scene, Rafe's first fast drive in his new car) where you are transported into the scene and into the psyche of Rafe Vincennes. I couldn't put this book down, even though morals or society or someone in the back of my head was telling me that the subject matter was verboten. Warning there is graphic sexual content in this book and this book is certainly not for anyone under the age of 21, or for anyone who is easily offended. However, if you can see the abundant and graphic sex for what it is, the author's vehicle for demonstrating Rafe's inability to connect on a spiritual or psychological level, then you may just be able to hitch on for a fast paced bumpy ride. I am anxiously awaiting the second book in this series.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Please Don't Waste Your Money. The Hero is a Sicko!!,March 2, 2012
This review is from: Sociopath? (Adventures of Rafe Vincennes) (Kindle Edition)
"He laid claim to her from the day she came home from the hospital."(1)
Rafe Vincennes was only three when he supposedly laid claim to our heroine Lane. He started having sex with her when she was 7 years old while he was 10 years old and treats her like yesterday's trash...seriously this is my 1st review and...I HATED this book so much words cannot express how I feel.

I love erotic romance like Kristen Ashley or Karen Marie Moning but this book was terrible and SICK! Even in EL James Grey Series, the hero is sexy and a little sadistic but Rafe shows no redemption, no remorse,he sleeps around all the time, and *whispers* he is not even that good looking.

The Heroine is even worse. She's wanders around like some mindless doll...she's just whimpering all the time and Rafe uses her and even announces to her that she should be with the other guy in this novel but they could still get it on.

Dont waste the money you've worked for on this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars OutstandingFebruary 19, 2012
This review is from: Sociopath? (Adventures of Rafe Vincennes) (Kindle Edition)
Rafe is a live-on-the-edge type of person who cannot get enough of pretty much anything. However, he always gets exactly what he wants. The title of this book is fitting and describes the read to a "T". There is obscene material written upon the pages, however, after getting through the deplorable activities of the main character it is easy to see that a full picture of Rafe's "adventures" only make you understand him more. It is almost a love-hate relationship because Rafe seems likeable in one scene and extremely vile in the next. He draws you in and leaves you only wanting more because you know that he will become loveable once again only to turn you away! This is a must read for those who are constantly trying to figure out the human mind and why we act the way we do. Rafe's life comes full circle in this book as he grows from a small child into his chosen career. I can only hope there are additional books to the series to complete Rafe's life.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RafeFebruary 12, 2012
This review is from: Sociopath? (Adventures of Rafe Vincennes) (Kindle Edition)
This is an Ice Prince with a panther's stealth for conquest. Born to great wealth, Rafe was a feral child, raised amongst the advantages of life virtually by his own hand. With a younger sister, Lane, left only to his care and guidance. The relationship that emerges is out of limits to anyone's understanding but their own. A race car prodigy, playing lead guitar and confounding the Ivy League with his classroom genius and sports brilliance, Rafe's outside interests at this time in his life involve only the sexual take down skills of a tested jungle cat. Is he a sociopath or just the result of a brilliant mind raised on the open range of a forgotten nursery lair in a sprawling estate? A great read about a truly driven character, right or wrong, who does what he desires, always.
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