Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bound by Bliss by Lavinia Kent Blog Tour

In Lavinia Kent’s luscious, erotic historical romance, a free spirit learns her true desires from a master of the heart, of the body—and of the sweetest discipline.

Lady Bliss Danser, daughter of the Duke of Mirth, is a scandal waiting to erupt. Which is why her highly conventional brother wants to saddle her with Stephan Perth, Earl of Duldon, the only man he thinks will marry her. Worse, Stephan keeps threatening to punish her, to teach her just how a woman should behave. His words may cause Bliss to tingle in the strangest places, but that doesn’t mean she likes the man himself.

Stephan has secretly desired Bliss for years, but he knows how close he is to losing his beloved. Careful not to rile her impetuous heart, he promises only to aid Bliss in her search for another fiancé. And if she’s determined to understand the male body first, he’s happy to comply in that regard as well. However, she must follow his rules or face the consequences. Slowly he takes Bliss to the darker, steamier side of his world… where she realizes that Stephan is everything she’s ever wanted.

Bound by Bliss is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences

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Book 2
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Lady Bliss Danser, second daughter of the Duke of Mirth, stared across the ballroom, her eyes fixed on the smiling blonde. The girl bounced up on her tiptoes, curls bobbing and the sunset ruffles of her skirt dancing. Her whole being radiated joy and happiness.

Bliss bit down on her lower lip. Hard. Her sharp incisors cut into the delicate skin, the pain holding her in the moment as it always did, keeping her firmly in the present. It was wrong to be miserable at another’s jubilation, but it was impossible to feel pleasure as the stones filling her belly multiplied. If Miss Amy Samson had received an invitation that meant there was one less to go around, one less chance at salvation.

Not that the invitation offered salvation exactly. More likely it led to a lesser ring of hell.

“Do you have yours yet? Do you have yours yet?” The soft, breathy voice floated over Bliss’s shoulder, disrupting her thoughts.

Pulling in a deep puff of air, Bliss forced the corners of her mouth up and relaxed the tension in her brow. “My what?” She turned to face her dearest friend, Angela. It was important that not even Angela realized the extent of her inner turmoil.

“Oh, don’t you pretend with me, Miss Danser. You know exactly what I mean.” Angela tried to sound cross, but her smile could not be kept down. Her dark pink cheeks glistened under her crown of ebony locks, her black eyes flashing.

Bliss pushed her own cheeks higher, hoping the strain did not show. “Lady Perse’s tea invitation? But why would I be wanting one of those? You know I’ve no interest in marriage.” Oh, if only that were true. If only the events of the past month had not forced her hand.

“You don’t fool me, Bliss. I saw you watching Miss Samson. There was no mistaking the look of desire upon your face. The more you smile, the more I see your disappointment.”

Blast. Angela knew her far too well. “I was just amazed at how happy she looked. She’s never still, but I’ve never before seen her quivering with emotion. I am surprised all the crystal within ten feet of her didn’t shatter.”

“You’re the only one I know who can accomplish that feat.” Angela wrinkled her nose.

“It was only once and you know very well it was because I’d tried to sew coins onto my dress so I’d look like a gypsy dancer. I never imagined that they’d all go flying off when I twirled. Can I help it if I like to twirl—and that I am a lousy seamstress?”

“Don’t try to distract me. I saw you watching Miss Samson and it wasn’t merely interest that I saw cross your face. It was envy.”

Bliss tried again. She was not yet ready to admit to her own desires. “Maybe I simply wanted her dress.”

“Bliss, I understand you too well, and besides, her dress is the color of tangerine and has more ruffles than a bird has feathers. Even you”—Angela’s eyes swept over Bliss’s pink creation—“would not wear that shade.”

“Fine. Yes, I was watching her and yes, it upset me to see that she’d received an invitation. And I don’t see what is wrong with her dress.” The color really was quite cheerful.

“I don’t see why it should bother you to admit that you want an invitation. Every unmarried woman here dreams of receiving an invitation to one of Lady Perse’s teas. We all want a love match and nobody manages those as well as Lady Perse. And I will not comment again on Miss Samson’s dress.”

Bliss pulled in a long, deep breath and released it slowly. “But I’ve never wanted to marry. You know that.” She might want many things, things she did not understand, but marriage was not one of them. Marriage led to heartache and loss. And a love match only more so. She already knew the pain that love could bring.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 Stars
I have a love-hate relationship with this series. I will begin the book, loving it. It’s fresh. The characters are fun yet deep. The storyline is engrossing. I enjoy the author’s voice and the storytelling.

This same phenomenon occurred when I read the first book in this series, to the point that I was nervous to begin this book, in fear it would happen again.

While reading the beginning of the book, I think to myself that I’ll be handing out a rare 5 star review. The book is so original, and I’m riveted to the point of snapping at people when they interrupt my reading time. But something always happens around the 30% mark of the book, where it begins to drag because of repetition and inner monologue. By the time I reach the 50% mark, my emotions sour and I feel bewildered.

It’s very rarely I wish a book was shorter. I know that sounds insane. Who would wish a book to be a novella when you want to get your money’s worth? But with this type of storyline, where it takes ages to get to the foregone conclusion…

A story I was thrilled to read becomes tedious. I love Historical Romance because you are given a pair of characters, and the reader is taken on a journey to their Happily Ever After. But for the same reason I find a comfort in it, if not done with a level of angst or twists and turns, it becomes predictable. Especially when the angst is misunderstandings or just bull-headedness. The Hero knew they were going to end up together. The reader knew they were going to end up together. But the heroine doth protest to the point of irritation, where I lost interest.

I also had a love/hate relationship with our heroine, while I felt the hero was too perfect- too understanding –too amazingly patient for a dominant. What I loved about our hero, his actions and words were consistent. If he said he was going to do something, he did it. His emotions mirrored this, yet the heroine never believed him. Bliss would go from insecure to arrogant in a heartbeat. She would do and say things to the Hero with no consideration to his feelings, which takes away from the reader believing there is love present.

I don’t want to marry you, even though we both know I will, and that we’re both in love with each other. But I’m going to smear it in your face, and tell you I want to marry someone else- kiss someone else. I’m a grown woman acting like a thoughtless child.

I’m not the hero, but that got old- fast –and I’m just the reader. I felt as if the entire time as the heroine waffled back and forth between ‘showing’ the hero she wanted him, while ‘telling’ him she didn’t, that it was disrespectful. As a dominant, to be disrespected and to put up with it, is to relinquish your power. The longer the hero put up with the heroine’s BS, the less respect I had for him.

In book 1, I didn’t think I could stand being inside Bliss’s head for a nanosecond. I felt her a spoiled, selfish, thoughtless brat with no redeeming qualities, and I feared I wouldn’t be able to read with her as the narrator.

I give mad props to the author for redeeming Bliss. From page one, I’d forgotten that *expletive*. Bliss was strong. A grown woman who wanted to break free from societal chains. Her first trip to Ruby’s was one of my favorite scenes of the entire book, and I wish the pacing and flow would have continued on as the book went. That scene showed a plethora of emotions through a peephole, because our heroine was ‘feeling’ and describing, and our hero was supporting. If the author could have captured that and had it bleed over into the rest of the book, I would have been blown away. Proving page count doesn’t matter. A shorter book that is unforgettable, is more entertaining than a long book with unforgettable scenes and too much of everything else.

I only enjoyed Bliss when she wasn’t thinking or speaking- in those times, that vapid character from the first book returned, not someone who was our heroine. I preferred our woman of action. When Bliss owned what she wanted, when she allowed herself to feel empowered, I fell back in love with her character…

But there was a problem with that, as Bliss was forever thinking, rambling, or speaking.

On multiple occasions during the same scene, the Hero continually commented on the heroine’s lack of focus, how her mind wandered, and how she rambled. He went as far as to chastise her for thinking in the middle of ‘playing’. In the beginning this was endearing, amusing even. But not during sex scenes.

This was a point of contention for me, as I felt a bit like the Hero myself. It was in moments like these that I became bored, and felt guilty because the need to skim was upon me. While inner monologue gives a reader great insight to character development, too much can be detrimental to the story itself. If the reader is driven to skim the book, they aren’t reading it, so how are they connecting with the character’s private thoughts? When too much, it becomes background noise, never digested and comprehended.

The reader is deep into a great scene, only to be thrust out with endless rumination. The Hero would ask the heroine a question, only for it to be several pages later before she would answer- her mind wandering for pages on end, usually to the same location it had flowed on the page before- the chapter before.

By the time the heroine finally answered our Hero, there was a good chance the reader forgot the initial question. I should point out, these questions were of a sexual nature. So in the middle of being hot and bothered, the reader is subjected to the heroine’s insecure thought process, memories of childhood, where she shored up her nerve with a rehash of how the heroine felt in a previous scene- a scene we already read in great detail. This fizzled the heat level for me because it tore me from the story.

I apologize for my harshness. There is only one thing that brings enough passion out of me to write a review such as this, and that is that I care. I actually feel a bond with the author, with the story, with the characters.

In truth, I loved the author’s voice and writing style. I loved how the characters could be witty and charming, how humor was brought in without being over the top. I enjoyed the tender yet never too sweet moments. As a writer of BDSM in contemporary times, I felt the power exchange and the needs and wants of what the lifestyle entails were perfectly portrayed, especially emotionally. I thought the sex was hot and naughty, and yanked the reader right in as if they were the one being pleasured.

So why my critical review? Because I want to read the 3rd book in this series, and I want to enjoy it without it going down a similar path as its predecessors. No, my opinion isn’t the only one that matters, but a review is just that- opinion.

Genre: Historical Romance | BDSM
Historical Authenticity: Accurate
Heat Level: Smoking HOT
Would I recommend this series/book/author: Yes, if what I listed above in the review isn’t on your pet peeve list.
Will I read more from this author: One more try. I think the author is fabulous, but perhaps I’m not meant to be one of her readers, as it just isn’t to my reading tastes.

This is the third in this series, and just as enjoyable as the previous two – if not even better. Possibly that is the case as I knew what and who to expect, and why. If I ever get to travel back in fictional time, Ruby is high on my list of people I'd like to meet. She doesn't play a huge role here, but continues to be such a great character. If you have not read the others yet then may I recommend that you do.

I still have visions of Louisa on her first visit to Madame Rouge – and laugh at the memory – so the fact that Bliss was also so innocent was not a surprise. The way that she gained her knowledge, and had revelations about romance in general was both funny and also hot. He was no dull don in the bedroom for sure!

At points I felt that the story could have moved along somewhat more quickly, and that I didn't need the issue reinforced again. However it is well written and certainly no hardship to read. I would maybe have liked more about Bliss's current family situation, given that her brother is now married etc. but her feelings were well explained.

I'm hoping that there is more to come, as I am very fond of the gang, and that letter from Manchester gave me some hope for Ruby too!

Also Available in the Bound and Determined Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our Mastering the Marquess blog post.

Book 1.5
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our Revealing Ruby blog post.

Lavinia Kent is a former two-term president of the Washington Romance Writers and a four-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart nominee. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family and an ever-changing menagerie of pets.

Connect with Lavinia

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Bound by Bliss (Bound and Determined #2) by Lavinia Kent to read and review for this tour.

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