Review: Calling the Shots by Christine d’Abo

Calling the Shots by Christine d"AboFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: audiobook
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Long Shots, #4
Length: 180 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: October 8, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

He’s had a wild ride, and now sex club owner Josh Scott is looking for a change of scene. But first, he’s determined to bring two friends together, and he’s willing to be a third wheel to move things along…

Beth Norris is eager to be set up with hot bartender Oliver Stephenson, but she’s equally attracted to matchmaker Josh. Soon she’s fantasizing about both men at once—and about being the one to call the shots in the encounter…

Ready to move on with his life post-divorce, Oliver is conflicted by the realization that he’s attracted to women and men. Or more specifically, to Beth and Josh. He tries to keep his distance, but it’s not long before the chemistry between the trio combusts in a night of mind-blowing sex.

In the light of day, it’s clear something deeper than desire is growing between Josh, Beth and Oliver. But though Josh has helped others find love in unconventional relationships, is he willing to take a chance on one himself?

My Review:

This is the fourth book in the Long Shots series, and the action in this book firmly (ahem) shifts from the Pulled Long coffee shop to Mavericks sex club across the street. It’s been two years since all of the Long siblings found their HEAs in first three books (Double Shot, A Shot in the Dark, and Pulled Long, all reviewed here)

Pulled Long by Christine d'AboBut one of the matchmakers in a number of those stories was Josh, the owner of Mavericks. His business may be thriving but he’s not a happy man. Like Ian Long in Pulled Long, he spends way too much time working, and way too much mental energy being messed up about things he can’t control to get within a mile of happy.

Josh created Mavericks as a place where people like himself could have someplace to safely be exactly who they are, whatever their particular kink might be. The watchwords at Mavericks are “safe, sane and consensual”. The problem with being the owner is that Josh has to remain in control at all times. Not in the sense of a Dom controlling a sub, but in the sense of he can’t let go of his emotions and just be. He can’t get indulge himself or get emotionally involved with the members of his club…or his staff.

And that’s what makes this story so interesting. Because no matter how fascinating, or how hot, the BDSM lifestyle available at the club and the encounters described as the protagonists start to get their romantic act together; at heart this is a love story. It’s an office romance/crush on the boss story.

The difference is that Beth has a crush on her boss, Josh. Oliver has a crush on both of his bosses, Beth and Josh. And Josh believes that what he wants, a stable ménage with Beth and Oliver, is an impossible dream, both because all of his previous attempts at such a thing have failed, and because he’s certain that what they feel for him is just a crush, but that what they feel for each other is real. He decides to matchmake them into a real relationship, then leave them to their HEA.

It takes a lot to convince Josh that this time, he really can have it all.

Escape Rating B: The love story works surprisingly well. The author has to manage three points of view in a romance, where the reader is used to only hearing from two participants. But she convinces us that each of these people is getting what they need from what is otherwise unusual arrangement. This is their HEA.

They all come into this damaged by events in their previous lives. They all have secrets in their past that they need to air before there can be any trust. And Beth and Oliver have to convince Josh that their threesome has a chance at becoming a stable relationship, because Josh is older and simply has more experience at trying to make relationships like this work and failing miserably.

It’s a lot to back into a novella. The emotional side holds up well. The suspense subplot about vandalism in sex clubs, that didn’t work nearly as well as the romance.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Choose Your Shot by Christine d’Abo

Choose Your Shot by Christine d'AboFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Series: Long Shots #5
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Release Date: Aug. 12, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Goodreads| Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Come explore the newer, naughtier Maverick’s, where you are in control of the story.

It’s been a year since the decadent BDSM club was gutted in a fire. Tegan has scored an invitation to the grand reopening, where she can finally indulge the needs she’s ignored for too long. On her wicked wish list: a thorough spanking, adventurous playmates and complete erotic satisfaction.

As a switch, Tegan can find pleasure as either a sub or a Domme. The question is, what—and who—is she in the mood for tonight?

Master Grant: dominant and drop-dead gorgeous, he hasn’t forgotten their last encounter. He’ll make sure Tegan gets what she craves—if she submits to him alone.

Eli: the sexy switch has always wanted more from Tegan. But taking their relationship to the next level could mean risking their friendship.

Adam: the last man Tegan expects to encounter at the club, but one she’d love to see more of—if he behaves…

Choose which ending you want for Tegan, or explore all of the sensual possibilities.

My Thoughts:
Flight from the dark by Joe Dever
Choose your own adventure?

Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? Choose Your Shot takes that concept, that the reader starts with a basic story and then decides where the heroine takes it from the beginning premise, and applies it to the sex club Mavericks introduced in the erotic romance series Long Shots.

How well does it work?

There are the reading mechanics and then there’s the story. Or stories, as the case may be.

Tegan was a regular at Mavericks before the fire that closes the club at the end of Calling the Shots . But we haven’t met her before. Our link to the previous stories is Paul and Sadie, the hero and heroine of the very first story, Double Shot.

Because the club has been under reconstruction for a year, Tegan hasn’t had a place to explore the various kinkier sides of her sexuality. She has missed having a safe place to “play” and she’s also missed the friends she has at Mavericks. But the time away has given her the chance to think about her life, and she’s starting to think that she’s ready for a long-term relationship. But that relationship would need to be with someone who understands all her needs.

With that set-up, the stories begin. The choose your own fantasy can lead Tegan to explore all the sexual possibilities on offer at Mavericks. Tegan is extremely flexible, but while steam rises from some scenes, others may go too far past the reader’s boundaries. And the scenes can get repetitive.

Because one of Tegan’s original thoughts was the possibility of pursuing a relationship outside the club, those choices are embodied in three different men; there are different romantic outcomes if she goes through the club as a Domme, a sub or a switch. Even if she leaves the club alone, someone will stop by her apartment at the end of the night. The story ends with the possibility of Happy For Now, or a small chance of Friends with Benefits.

Is that enough?

Long Shots books 1-3 by Christine d'AboVerdict: The concept is way cool. You pick what Tegan should do, she does it, and then you pick the next thing, and read that. The links are much easier than flipping pages. But, it worked much better as a way to explore the club than as a way to explore Tegan’s erotic choices. It was also much too easy for the rooms to repeat.

Other people’s sex, scene after scene, starts to be repetitive, even with kink. There wasn’t enough plot to get to care about Tegan and her choices.

That was the difference between the rest of the Long Shots series and Choose Your Shot. The first four books, Double Shot, A Shot in the Dark, Pulled Long (still my favorite–see review of Long Shots 1-3 at Reading Reality) and Calling the Shots (which I’ll be reviewing later this week at Reading Reality) while they may have all had at least one kinky scene in Mavericks to spice things up, were still romances. The couple, (threesome in the case of Calling the Shots) get their HEA.

Choose Your Shot read like an excuse to show off all the different ways a kink scene could be written.


I give  Choose Your Shot by Christine d’Abo 2 and ½ very kinky stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Long Shots 1-3 by Christine d’Abo

Long Shots Books 1-3 by Christine d'AboFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: Contemporary erotic romance
Series: Long Shots, #1-3
Length: 244 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: September 3, 2012 (collection)
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Welcome to Pulled Long café, where the coffee is hot, and the sex is hotter! Meet your hosts:

Sadie Long has been lusting after her friend Paul for years, and when she visits him at Mavericks, the sex club where he works, she’s suddenly fantasizing about being with Paul and his sexy boss Josh—at the same time.

Paige Long can’t help but be attracted to gorgeous firefighter Carter, especially once she learns he’s a Dom. But can she trust in her own desires and submit to happiness?

Ian Long doesn’t want to be the rebound guy for a brokenhearted man—even after a little exhibitionist play with Jeff satisfies desires he didn’t even know he had…

Anthology includes Double Shot, A Shot in the Dark and Pulled Long.

My Review:

The Long Shots series of erotic romances by Christine d’Abo center around the cafe, bakery and catering business with the wonderfully punny name “Pulled Long” and the sex club across the street with the equally evocative name, “Mavericks”.

The Long siblings own Pulled Long. Sadie runs the baking and catering, Ian does the coffee, and Paige manages the business end of things. In spite of the long hours and the extremely early mornings, it’s way better than their old day jobs used to be. But the one thing that running their own business doesn’t do is leave any of them much time for a love life. Or even much of an occasional sex life. And that’s where Mavericks comes in to each of their lives.


Double Shot by Christine d'AboSadie’s story, Double Shot, is basically a hotter than average friends-into-lovers story with a threesome as the opening sex act. Or possibly as the handoff. That works better than it sounds. Double Shot is really a classic story, with a kinky twist. Sadie and Paul have been best friends for years, because they met when he dated her BFF. By the time it would have been okay for her to go after him, the friendship was too good to risk. Ten years later, the seemingly unrequited lust is driving her insane! Of course she has no idea he’s in the same bad way, until he hands her a major catering job at Mavericks, and the costume to go with it.

While in one sense, the climax of the story is the threesome between Sadie, Paul and Josh, the owner of Mavericks, it really is Sadie and Paul’s romance. Josh is there to make sure the two lovebirds don’t chicken out on the way to their happily ever after, not that he doesn’t enjoy himself. But it’s bittersweet for him because he’s definitely giving his best friend away to someone who will monopolize his attention. Josh is doing the right thing for the right reasons but he’s closing a chapter in his own life. (d’Abo gets back to Josh in Calling the Shots.)

Escape Rating for Double Shot: B

Shot in the Dark by Christine d'AboOldest sister Paige Long is the one most involved with Mavericks. Or at least she used to be. A Shot in the Dark is the story of Paige taking back control of her life by finding someone with whom she can give up control in the bedroom. Paige, who is the business manager for Pulled Long, is a submissive in the BDSM scene who has been unable to let herself acknowledge that her first and last Dom was an abusive asshat who slapped her around and ignored her needs and boundaries.

So this is a story about love and trust. It’s also very steamy. But what this story does is let the reader take a walk into Paige’s lifestyle in a way that makes the BDSM aspects about the romance and not the titillation for titillation’s sake. Even if it’s not the reader’s cuppa tea, you leave the story seeing why it’s Paige’s. And cheering when the asshat gets his head handed to him by the man who turns out to be the right man (and Dom) for her.

Escape Rating for A Shot in the Dark: B

Pulled Long by Christine d'AboFinally, Ian’s story. He’s last because he never lets himself take any time off from the store. He works extra long hours so he really doesn’t have time for a love life. His story even has the same title as the name of their shop, Pulled Long. And his lover had to walk into the store, because Ian lives above the shop. There wasn’t anywhere else they could have met.

Ian’s fallen for a man he only knows as “Blue Eyes” for eight months. He’s a customer that Ian flirts with, talks with, but can’t manage to cajole a name out of. It’s a game they play. Jeff knows perfectly well that Ian is asking for his name, but he’s enjoying the game too. And he’s waiting for his divorce to be final before he starts dating anyone else. And that’s the problem. When Ian discovers that Jeff is finalizing his divorce, Ian breaks off their game. He’s been a straight guy’s rebound experiment before, and he does not want to go through that heartache again. Jeff knows perfectly well that he’s not straight, he’s bi, and right now, he wants to pursue a relationship with Ian because he really enjoys the friendship they’ve developed and wants to find out how far it can go. But between Ian’s long-term guilt issues, insecurity issues, and Jeff’s mistrust issues, there’s a question whether they can manage to take their relationship beyond some very hot one-night stands in risky places, or whether they’re both too screwed up to work out the best thing that’s ever happened.

Escape Rating for Pulled Long: B+

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, September 2012

Welcome to the First Anniversary Edition of Ebook Review Central!

The first issue of Ebook Review Central was published a little more than one year ago. But what it covered, well, that’s the anniversary part. Roughly this time last year, ERC started with the Carina Press titles from September 2011.

And here we are, back again, with the Carina Press titles from September 2012.

Carina Press publishes slightly fewer titles per month than they did a year ago; 15-ish now instead of 20. However, everything they publish gets reviewed. Every single title. Usually in more than one blog, and often by RT Book Reviews, or Library Journal Xpress Reviews, or both. It must help a lot to have Harlequin’s deep pockets, but that wouldn’t matter if their books weren’t consistently good. And they are.

Talking about good books, which titles did reviewers say were good this month?

Number one has to be the re-release of  Christine d’Abo’s Long Shots Books 1-3. Not just because it garnered another bunch of extremely positive reviews for the very nicely priced set, but because it got people to go back and re-review the three titles that make up the series: Double Shot, A Shot in the Dark, and Pulled Long. This series of erotic novellas is the story of the Long siblings, the coffee shop they own, and a local sex club named Mavericks. There’s one friends-into-lovers story, one BDSM story, and one male/male story to round out this set that is guaranteed to warm up a winter night.


Sometimes, the number of reviews makes a book a clear choice, just because so many people are talking about the book. The Reluctant Amazon by Sandy James is that kind of story. Readers loved the idea of a normal woman discovering that she is a superhero with the power to save the world, and then they (well, we) all debated the merits of the details. The story has an absolutely fantastic opening scene, and the worldbuilding shows promise. Read Tracy’s review at Tracy’s Place for the positive spin and Mandi at Smexy Books for the so-so reaction.

The third featured book this week didn’t get quite as many reviews as a couple of other titles. But, every single reviewer who reviewed this book liked it. In many cases, they liked it a LOT. No mehs. no 2/5 or DNFs. Just a lot of good feelings about a fun book.

This week’s final featured title is How to Date a Henchman by Mari Fee. It’s a fantasy romance about a  girl who works for a mysterious agency. One where she doesn’t know what’s going on in the basement. She starts finding out when she goes on a date, not with the guy who comes to visit the company, but, you guessed it, his henchman. Mayhem ensues. The biggest complaint about this story was that it was just too damn short. Everyone wanted more of the fun!

So in September 2012 for Carina we have erotic romance and superheroes. Back in September 2011 we had urban fantasy, shapeshifters and romantic suspense. Still sounds like lots of things going bump in the night to me!

We’ll be back next time with the Dreamspinner Press titles from September 2012!