Tripping on a Halo
by Alessandra Torre
Publication Date: December 7, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
By Alessandra Torre
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs
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Okay, so let me start off by saying that there is a LOT of reading material here, and the stories are really varied so there is likely to be a little something for everyone. So, whether you’re kink is virgins, best friends turned to lovers, bodyguards, f/f and menages, or sexy car talk, you’ll find it here!
Sadly . . . the anthology (as a whole) turned out to be a bit of a disappointment for me. Overall, I ended up rating it at 3.5 Kinky Heels. And here’s why:
While there were some notably great shorts in here, there were also a lot that just didn’t do it for me. Some left me feeling as though the author had tried to cram an entire novel into a short. There were some with over-the-top cheesy lines, like as cheesy as those bad 80s porn movies we all grew up watching. Then there was the misuse of words, terms, phrases, and even whole body parts. And then there were some stories that just…..lacked something.
There was, however, one common theme that REALLY irritated me. It seemed to be in almost every virgin story, and it drove the feminist in me CRAZY!!! (Not that the misconception is unique….) So much so that it really impacted my rating of each and every story, and the anthology as a whole. What am I talking about? Two short little words…….
So . . . here’s the thing, folks: The hymen is NOT a barrier. In fact, it is only in RARE cases that the vaginal opening is “sealed off” or in any way obstructed by this flimsy bit of tissue (in which case, you would be unable to use a tampon, or you would suffer from major abdominal cramps and distention during menstruation).
In other words, sex for the first time is not like trying to push a pencil through a condom. And sex for the first time does NOT have to hurt. Don’t believe me? Check out this interesting Adam Ruins Everything video:
Now, I don’t expect everyone to know this; after all, there are entire societies that demand a woman “prove” her virginity. It is a deep-rooted, long-told myth. But if you’re going to write a book based on sex, then please, please, please, PLEASE – for the love of all that is kinky, know your basic anatomy. If you’re not absolutely certain, then research it. As a society, as WOMEN, we need to stop perpetuating this harmful and degrading myth.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: This is an awful review. Why in the WORLD would I give it a 3.5 rating overall? Well, as I said, I’m basing my general review on the entire experience. The anthology in its entirety, if you will. And some of the stories were actually pretty freaking amazing!
I’m DYING to get to Skye Warren’s follow-up from her short. (I know that you know that I know you totally did that on purpose! And I absolutely love you for it *muah!*)
Sarah Castille has officially landed herself on my radar for future reads. (Super hot! Great job, lady!)
And, of course, there are the “greats” of erotic fiction that never seem to disappoint.
So, overall, For the First Time anthology is well worth the lovely 99c price tag. So go on and grab yourself a copy and get your sexy read on!
All that said, it’s time to move on to the individual reviews. You’re more than welcome to read them one by one, but you can also use the link navigation just below to find specific reviews.
Sole ~ Alessandra Torre
Out of all the low ratings, this one is probably the hardest to give out. I absolutely FLOVED Hollywood Dirt, cried happy tears through like the entire last chapter, and even have it as one of my re-read books. Sadly, Sole just didn’t do it for me and I had to give it only 2.5 heels. =(
I just felt like it lacked any sort of conflict, like there really was no justification for the story. Even though I was reading about characters I absolutely love, the whole thing felt flat and nearly bored me to tears. And that has me a little worried that readers may not ever get to know Cole and Summer.
So, if you read this and haven’t read Hollywood Dirt, PLEASE know that Sole is far from Alessandra’s typical story. Cole and Summer are hot and angsty and sexy and…and…and….just PERFECT! Their story is just amazeballs, and Hollywood Dirt is one of my absolute favorites. Even if you’re not sure you’ll like it after reading Sole, please just give it a try. (And if you do, stop back by and tell me how it went!)
Begging for More ~ Kim Karr
Okay, so I honestly don’t even know how to review this one. But I’m going to take a crack at it anyway…..
A – Belly buttons are not sexy to me – especially when someone puts their finger in them. The only thing that would have made that line more disgusting would have been if he’d smelled or licked his finger afterwards.
B – I simply didn’t buy into the whole self-loving bachelor that has NO desire to get married because his parents are apparently THAT fucked up meets a girl who then fingers her, screws her, gets drunk, marries her, and then decides….”Eh, fuck it! I’m willing to give it a try if you are.” #sorry
C – Okay, so I flove me a good Dom story. Sadists and masochists are right up my alley. And controlling alpha males? Yes, please!…..But I felt like these words were simply used for the sake of using them. To me, James came off as a rich, spoiled, egotistical asshole who is used to getting his way. Nothing more, nothing less.
D – I really, really wish I had at least SOMETHING positive to say. Sadly, I just….don’t. I HATE giving completely negative reviews because it makes me feel like a really mean bitch and just cruel and over-critical….but there it is. #sorryagain
Heartbreak ~ Skye Warren
Reviewing this story is making me suffer from a bit of heartbreak of my own….I really, REALLY wanted to give it five heels. Skye Warren is one of my absolute favorite authors, and she gave us a really great short story with Blue and Hannah. I loved it SO much, in fact, that I ran and grabbed the full-length novel that comes after. (Tricky, tricky authors, lol).
Unfortunately, I did have to hold back that one heel. It sucks because I really, really did love the story itself and would have LOVED to have had more. But, as it just so happens, I was a foster kid, and to give an honest rating, I had to be true to myself and my past. So, before I rave on about Blue and Hannah, I have a few really important things to say about some of the details of Heartbreak (apologies in advance for the rant)…..
While it is absolutely, positively true that there are awful, horrible foster parents out there, the MAJORITY of foster parents are amazing, loving people. The one I lived with the longest holds a special and permanent place in my heart, and I have nothing but fond memories of her. I also happen to know quite a few current foster parents. These folks take in kids with massive emotional and behavioral problems, often receive little to no emotional reciprocity, and break their damned hearts every time they have to say goodbye to this child they gave their time and love to. I just really wish authors would stop demonizing them because it really does break my heart.
Moreover, it is important to be aware that there are actually minimal living conditions for foster homes. Prospective foster parents must pass what is called a home survey, and they are subject to surprise inspections. If, at any given time, the home is found to fall below minimal standards, children are removed from the home and placed with an emergency foster parent. (Yes, they do exist. They are typically 24 to 72 hour arrangements, but they provide you with a safe, clean place to stay for at least a little while….which made having no place to go at the end seem a little far-fetched to me.)
All that said, yes. There are bad ones. There are absolutely horrible foster parents who molest, abuse, neglect, and outright traumatize these children they are supposed to be caring for. But to create a believable story for a former foster kid, it’s important to remember that these types of abusive homes appear picture perfect on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside–what happens late at night or behind closed doors–that makes them ugly, frightening, and/or traumatizing.
Of course, I get that it’s fiction…but there are SO many of us foster kids out there. We have spent lifetimes working to erase our scars. We have had to learn how to say goodbye to people over and over and over again. We have had to learn how to love ourselves, even though we grew up with so little of it. Please be respectful of that because your words absolutely, positively matter. How you tell our story–the way you depict our world and our emotions–is important.
All of that said….there really, really was SO much good about this story. The push and pull between Hannah and Blue. The heartbreak of what landed this pair where they are. The struggle they undergo as individuals, and as a quasi-couple. The only thing NOT satisfying about their story was how short it was, and how badly I wanted more…like, immediately!
Of course, I’ve always loved Skye’s stories because they have a darker, grittier, emotional element to them. And she’s really just a phenomenal writer that knows just how to suck you in, right from the start. So let me just say this much: If you have not encountered this author yet, RUN and grab something–ANYTHING–by her! Trust me, you won’t regret it!
(**Might I suggest Wanderlust? It’s one of my absolute faves!)
Naughty Wishes ~ Sarah Castille
Argh!!! This one came SOOOOO close to getting the very first five heel rating from me! It had everything that I absolutely love in a short story – just enough story to hook you and make you fall in love, a sexy and dominant male, a super hot two-man menage (Hellooooooo dentist!)….I could seriously go on and on and on. But then I might ruin the story for you, so I won’t. What I WILL say is that Sarah Castille is now on my very short list of click-first-read-synopsis-later authors.
But…sigh…it did start a tad bit slow. Just slow enough that I initially wondered if it would turn out any good, but not for so long that it ruined the story for me. Still, an overall enjoyable experience more than worthy of at LEAST 4.5 heels. And I hope to read more of her stories soon.
Brava, Sarah Castille! You’ve hooked me as your newest stalker. 😉
His First and Only ~ Alexa Riley
Well, crap! Another zero. And I really have to keep this one short because….honestly? Everything about this story was just wrong. An unbelievable premise, over-the-top cheesy lines, and that damned hymen were really just the beginning. I hate to say it (and I feel like a complete bitch for doing so), but this is truly one of those stories I wish I could unread. #GawdIHateThis
Decadent Knights ~ Julia Sykes
Decadent Knights was really, really hard to review because I wanted to absolutely LOVE this story. It had all the markings of a perfect BDSM novel. Like, really, really perfect. And it was so well written! But, for some strange reason, I felt a little disconnected, like maybe I couldn’t quite dig into the characters enough(?). Honestly, I’m not sure what it was, but I am definitely going to pick up the rest of the series. Despite my struggle with this short, I have this funny feeling that I’m going to end up falling in love with Julia Sykes’ stories.
A Lake George Christmas ~ Debra Presley
Even though this story simply wasn’t for me, it wasn’t a horrible story. I just felt….bored and disinterested. Like maybe it was a little too predictable, and there just wasn’t enough going on for me to be really interested. Another big reason this one suffered such a low rating was that the author kept trying to fill us in on what I am guessing is the full-length novel; most of the time, this came across as over-explanation and over-compensation. I think, for me, it would have been a more engaging story if she would have simply left the past in the past and then told the story in the present.
Advent ~ Nina Lane
Advent by Nina Lane was just downright adorable–a very sweet and touching story with a super hot gingerbread baking scene. I was a little confused about a few things, namely the elephant in the room that didn’t make itself known until you were almost completely done with the story. The anxiety about whether or not the relationship would last also left me scratching my head just a bit, but it did make for a cute ending. All in all, I didn’t love it, but I definitely liked it.
Looking for a Complication ~ Tamsen Parker
Okay, everyone….I have a little secret to tell….This was my very first f/f read. I know. I know. I should just hang my head in shame and walk away….but not until I tell you what I actually loved about Looking for a Complication.
First, let’s start with the characters – quirky, different, interesting, and not what you’d expect (which is, for probably the first time in this anthology, a really good thing!).
The story – Although it was maybe just a little out there, it actually worked in a way that actually complemented the characters and their personalities. I found it engaging enough.
The part that made me sad – Okay, so even though I really enjoyed this one overall, and probably would have given it a full 4 heels, I ended up rating it at 3.5 for a few reasons….The first is that I felt like there were some unnecessary pauses in the story, like describing the bedroom. Though this might have been fine in a full-length, I didn’t particularly care with a short. The second is that, at times, the wording felt a little awkward. Not anything major, and certainly not enough to say the writing was poor. It just took a little away from the overall experience.
All in all, a good story, a great way to lose my f/f cherry, and I’ll be looking forward to some more Tamara Parker.
Test Driving the Billionaire ~ Cynthia Sax
Oh, my, my, my…..this one started with SO much potential. I mean, who doesn’t love some hot and heavy car sex talk??? Okay, so I might be the minority, but it was still super hot! Until it became overkill. I’m all for talk about shifting gears and lube jobs…but at some point, I wanted them to talk like actual humans at least some of the time.
Aaaaaaannnnnd…..yep. We met that hymen myth again. Which, by the way, was only made worse by the supposed sex-for-the-first-time-is-as-bad-as-childbirth myth. By that time, I was just kind of done and wanted it to end. But then we have a marriage proposal and a baby. That whole ending just felt like an attempt to tie everything up with a pretty little bow when, honestly, I would have been much happier with a cliffy that hinted at a continuance of their story.
If I’m being honest, I floved the characters. I floved the writing until things just got out of control. And then it ended in a huge train wreck of wtf for me, and that just made me super sad because I really, really wanted to flove this story. =(
Delay the Game ~ Jen Frederick
Delay the Game was admittedly cute and sweet. A best friends turned lover story that had a pretty adorable happy ending. The characters were believable enough, and the sex was (for the most part) pretty hot. But there were some too-cheesy moments. And I think I was just a little confused as to why neither one just came right out and said something instead of dancing around the undeniable attraction. Overall, I think it might have been better executed in a full-length where the characters and their motives could have been explored more in-depth.
All in all, a rating that fell just below a 3 but I actually rounded up simply because I’m intrigued enough to find another Jen Frederick story to see if maybe, just maybe, I might enjoy a longer one more.
Her First Choice ~ Lynda Chance
All of the other zero heel stories in this anthology received their ratings because of the story. This one sadly received it for the writing. It felt like the thought process ran in circles (once even completely repeating a line three different times in a paragraph). The dialogue and narrative both felt really immature, and the whole thing just really needed a high-quality editor. Underneath all of that there seemed to be a great story, but I found myself so distracted, annoyed, and confused by its poor execution that I never got a chance to really enjoy it.
In the end, I hated not being able to give it at least some sort of a positive rating, but the internal editor in my head had gone completely insane before I ever even made it past the first chapter. That said, every writer has to start somewhere. But I highly encourage this one to enlist the help of some quality professionals that can help her grow because, again, there seemed to be a really great story in there.
Sympathy for the Devil ~ Cynthia Rayne
Holy-mother-of-all-that-is-awesome! I literally felt like crying once I finished….because the experience was over. =(
Everything – from the unique brand of writing to the way everything in the story just felt so damned real – made this a short that ended all too damned fast. Beauregard is perfectly sexy in a dark and dangerous way, but you have that hint of something vulnerable beneath it all. And our little heroine is a spit-fire and just…..argh! Honestly? I struggle to find words here. Just read this. Like now. What are you still doing here?! GO!!!
#MoveOverLilMaso #YouHaveTooManyAlready #BeauregardisMINE!
Trailer Park Eden ~ CJ Roberts
Ah, CJ Roberts. You can never go wrong with one of her stories. Trailer Park Eden is no exception, of course. I think, actually, I might have even liked it even better than her Captive series. (Blasphemous, I know…but Trailer Park Eden is just that awesome!) I am hoping, hoping, HOPING there is more. Because – OMG – that ending!!! Leave it to CJ to add that super dark psychological element that has you on the edge of your seat, panting for more.
The ONLY massively minor disappointment was the possible hinting at the hymen myth (which is actually found in the Captive series), but she brushes over it so quickly and it could honestly be read in a different context that it doesn’t even begin to take away from this story.
Of course I’m going to tell you that this story (plus my lovely new hubby Beauregard, my love for Blue and Hannah, and my stalk-worthy author obsession, Sarah Castille) alone make this anthology worth picking up. So if you haven’t grabbed it yet, DO!
It Takes Two ~ Nikki Sloane
Sorry?….What’s that?….Oh, that burning smell? Yeah, that’s just my kindle. ON FIRE!!!
You know what I love MOST about this story (well, besides the utterly fuckable and super sexy male leads, a strong and confident female lead, and off-the-charts-steamy sex)? That it is, literally, porn on page. Like, seriously. That’s the premise of the story.
No ridiculously contrived scenario. No apologies (not that there should be). No beating around the bush (haha). Just in your face, straight up porn. With a promise of sooooooo much more in the Blindfold Club series. Yeah, you better believe I’m one-clicking those bitches. Actually….I’m going right NOW! *runs to Amazon, fire extinguisher in hand.*
Oh, and to Nikki Sloane…I give no apologies for my stalker-ish ways. #SoNotSorry
Heart of Eve ~ Pam Goodwin
Okay, so I know Lil’ Maso wasn’t a fan of this one….but I actually kind of liked it! The writing was good, overall. The author didn’t blow right on past the vow of celibacy and really seemed to have given it some thought. And I really enjoyed both of the characters.
Sure, it was weird with its references to the book of Revelations and a ladybug that somehow became a sign from God, but I think it added a unique element to the story. It was like marrying my two favoritest things – dystopian and erotica – all into one tiny little package. So,for me, it just worked. Plus, come on! Who doesn’t love a priest with dreadlocks?…Wait…seriously? I’m the one one? *shrugs* Oh well! More Roark for me! <3
In the end, the ONLY reason I didn’t give it five heels was because I felt like that one scene where they get trapped could have been better written. I was a little confused as to why he didn’t just jump in the first place, and I couldn’t seem to figure out the placement of the characters and the attacking aphids. But, besides that, it was a good read and I’m definitely going to follow up with the rest of the series.
Steal My Breath ~ Nina Levine
Oh, Nina….you have no idea what you’ve just done, do you? Luke is my newest hubby and I am sooooooo going to be stalking the hell out of you! Just….please don’t mace me when I show up at your house and start staring over your shoulder as you write. Mmmmkayyy?
Seriously though…this book is HAWT! Luke is…he’s….FUCK! He’s perfection! And the tension between him and Callie just bleeds right off the page and into my living room. Add in a super complicated ending that lets you know you are so not getting away with reading only the short and oh-dear-gawd, there’s just no way anyone wouldn’t absolutely love this story! Unless they’re cray-cray. And in that case…I’ll forgive.
The ONLY thing that kept this from being a kinky heel overload was that, IMO, it should have somewhere been addressed that, truth be told, Callie wasn’t getting laid because she wanted Luke. End of. Sure, the other guys were dickholes and losers, but the real issue was that she already knew who she wanted and thought he didn’t want her. That made all her comments a little bit annoying and I think it would have made a better story for her to at least admit that she was trying like hell to get past this guy she desperately wanted.
Anyway, enough negative! Because it was really such a crazy minor issue. In no way did it actually take away from the super hot perfection of Steal My Breath.
Rapunzel’s First Knight ~ Shoshanna Evers
Hmmmm….sooooo…there really wasn’t anything wrong with this one. Some over-explaining, a slightly immature tone…but nothing that really glared at me. Mostly, I just wasn’t interested…which is weird because I usually FLOVE fairy tale remakes. Shame I don’t really know why this one just didn’t do it for me. It just….didn’t.
Swept Away ~ Anna Zaires
Swept away was another one of those highly unique stories. And I actually kind of liked it. I wasn’t over the top enthralled, but it was well-written with great, believable characters and just….different.
There was something holding me back from a 4 or 5 heel rating, but I’m not really sure what. Maybe, at the end of the day, I’m just not as into laboratory created beings as I am vow-breaking priests? So, absolutely nothing personal. I think, maybe, it just wasn’t my cup o’ tea. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be someone else’s! In fact, I’d almost bet my right tit that it really just might be a story that some will absolutely swoon over.
Unique ~ Avery Aster
I really, really didn’t want to write this review. Avery Aster is one of Lil’ Maso’s absolute loves, and I have been made privy to just how awesome of a person they are over the years. So….imagine my absolute disappointment when I learned the writing just isn’t for me. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s funny. Humorous. Sexy. Sweet. It’s just not my….thing. And that just makes me so damned sad. #SorryAvery #SorryLilMaso #StillLoveYouAnyway
Owned ~ Jenika Snow
The sex was…..hot. But the premise, the way that the entire story was built around a myth…it all just ended up being entirely too much for me. It certainly wasn’t the worst out of all the stories. Just something I didn’t find myself enjoying.
That’s it, ya’ll! All 21 stories, read and reviewed. As I said, some really, REALLY great ones. And others that just didn’t quite do it for me. But, all in all, enough to make it worth the read. So don’t forget to grab your copy of For the First Time. And be sure to stop by and tell us what YOU thought about these lovely little shorts!
Til next time, stay saucy. 😉