Review and Sweepstakes: The Blackstone Affair Trilogy by Raine Miller

Title: Naked Series: Book #1: The Blackstone Affair Trilogy Author: Raine Miller Format; Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 208 pages Published: August 25, 2012 by Raine Miller Romance   ASIN: B0092FJKFU
Title: Naked
Series: Book #1: The Blackstone Affair Trilogy
Author: Raine Miller
Format; Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 208 pages
Published: August 25, 2012 by Raine Miller Romance
ASIN: B0092FJKFU

goodreads-badge-add-38px[1][1]Synopsis:

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…

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

Whew . . . .what a way to start a trilogy!!  Raine Miller’s Naked is the first book in The Blackstone Affair trilogy and is also one smoldering read that had me turning pages almost faster than I could read. 

Brynne Bennett: American, grad student, part-time model, a woman with a sordid past and, the object of Ethan Blackstone’s attention.  Brynne moved to London to separate herself from her painful past and build a life of her own outside of scandal and heartache.  In the time since she left home, Brynne has become fiercely independent as well as confident and successful.  Other than reminders of her past, very little shakes Brynne or her confidence.

Ethan Blackstone: British (yummy!), intimidating, committed, successful, protective and, a man who will not under any circumstances accept “No” as an answer.  Especially if that answer is coming from Brynne Bennett.  After seeing Brynne (and most of her nude body) at an gallery opening, Ethan decides she belongs to him and confidently explains the situation to the young woman as he drives her home from the opening.  Though Brynne is somewhat taken aback by Ethan’s incredibly forward manner, she cannot deny her intense and instantaneous attraction to him and agrees to “date” Ethan Blackstone.  Oh, my!!

In this first installment of the trilogy, I found Ethan to be overwhelming in the most delightful way and his confidence, protective nature, and sex appeal are off the charts.  One can clearly see – even in the small amount of time they have known one another – that Brynne is beyond important to Ethan.  He is fiercely protective of Brynne and understands her past is something that can come back to haunt and hurt her at any given moment.  Just as Brynne begins to truly trust Ethan and open up to him about her background, a phone call comes through that shatters what the two lovers have begun to build. 

The Bottom Line: WOW!!  Ethan Blackstone is one smokin’ hot Brit and his story is fascinating to say the least.  His intensity and connection to Brynne is so strong and so swift as to be almost unbelievable.  BUT, Raine Miller has made me a believer by creating a rock-solid character who absolutely practices what he is preaching.  Add to this the fantastically hot naughty bits and Ethan’s colossal screw-up at the end and I was left absolutely beside myself and completely impressed with the exit Brynne made!!  On to book two . . . which I bought and began reading immediately after finishing book one 🙂

Title: All In Series: Book #2: The Blackstone Affair Trilogy Author: Raine Miller Format: Kindle Edition, 240 pages Published:  November 9, 2012 by Raine Miller Romance  (first published November 8, 2012)   ASIN: B00A45PY8E
Title: All In
Series: Book #2: The Blackstone Affair Trilogy
Author: Raine Miller
Format: Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published: November 9, 2012 by Raine Miller Romance (first published November 8, 2012)
ASIN: B00A45PY8E

goodreads-badge-add-38px[1][1]Synopsis:

The second part in The Blackstone Affair series! Looming danger. A love worth fighting for. A man who’ll go all in.

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.

Source: Purchase

Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:  

Bloody crappin’ Hell!!  By the end of book one in The Blackstone Affair trilogy, I was left completely astounded.  How can such a beautiful, intelligent and confident man also be such a complete and total dumbass??  Oh, Ethan Blackstone how you shatter me.

All In opens with Brynne having left Ethan after discovering just how much about her past he really knows and how, precisely he came to be in her life.  What she once thought had the potential to be THE relationship has come crashing down around her thanks to one fateful phone call.  To say that Brynne is crushed doesn’t even begin to come close and she retreats into her own world so that she can move on and accept that her life will no longer contain Ethan Blackstone.  But, the dumbass just can’t take a hint and Ethan refuses to accept that Brynne has left him.

Ethan understands instantly that he has epically failed Brynne and violated her trust.  He further understands that trust is earned and will do absolutely whatever it takes to win back the woman he now realizes he loves.  Of course he realizes this after he has broken her heart!  Like I said, dumbass.  And so, like a man possessed, Ethan pursues Brynne in the hopes she will, at the very least hear his side of the story.  Ethan will take every risk necessary to win Brynne back, even opening up to her about his own very painful past and the scars he carries as a result of that past. 

Since this is only book two in a three-part series, you well know that Brynne agrees to take Ethan back and once again, the two begin to build a relationship.  Adding to the stress of the relationship is the fact that Brynne’s past has come to London and her very life may be in danger.  If you thought Ethan was protective in round one when there was only the hint of a threat, wait till you see him in action in round two.  Desperate to protect Brynne, Ethan discusses everything with her including the need to keep her safe and monitored on an around the clock basis.  She is stubborn and independent and very used to taking care of herself so, from time to time, Brynne defies Ethan and what she feels is his very over-protective nature.  Unfortunately, the past has come a callin’ and when Brynne’s life is threatened, Ethan takes action!!

The Bottom Line: Though I am still very much committed to this trilogy and will absolutely see it through to the end, I was not as excited about All In as I was about Naked.  Here are the complaints: Brynne needs to pull her head out of her ass!!  Ethan has told her on more than one occasion that her life is in danger yet she insists on doing things her way no matter the consequences.  She needs to wake the hell up and take some responsibility for her own safety!  And then there is Ethan: I still adore him and love how protective he is of Brynne but his jealous side is ugly and completely unbecoming.  I sincerely hope both characters get it together for round three 🙂

Title: Eyes Wide Open Series: Book #3: The Blackstone Affair Trilogy Author: Raine Miller Format: Kindle Edition, 352 pages Published: May 14, 2013 by Atria Books  ASIN: B00BEHGSEK
Title: Eyes Wide Open
Series: Book #3: The Blackstone Affair Trilogy
Author: Raine Miller
Format: Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published: May 14, 2013 by Atria Books
ASIN: B00BEHGSEK

goodreads-badge-add-38px[1][1]

Synopsis:

The third part in The Blackstone Affair series: A love on the brink of being destroyed. The fight of a lifetime to keep it alive.
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.

Source: Purchase

Rating: 3/5 stars

 My Review:

**THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!**

 Oh, my!  So, round three of The Blackstone Affair Trilogy is all about the death, despair and, destruction.   And fruit!  Eyes picks up pretty much precisely where All In ended, with Brynne and Ethan finally safe at his sister’s country home and still reeling from the madness of the night.  In a very real way, Brynne’s life has been threatened and Ethan and his crew are on high alert.  Frustratingly, Ethan is no closer to understanding the nature of the threat against Brynne and/or who is behind it.  So, with no information to go on at the moment, let’s just have sex.

While the time in the country is meant to be a sort of mini-vacation/keep Brynne safe trip, it quickly devolves into complete madness and despair.  In an effort to continue to protect Brynne in the best way he knows how, Ethan “proposes” to Brynne and tells her they will be announcing the wedding quickly so that it will all be very public thus making an attempt on her life much less likely.  He also decrees that Brynne will be moving in with him as soon as they return to London.  Though Ethan assures Brynne that he very much wants to marry her for real, he understands if the proposal and announcement aren’t real and won’t become so until she is ready.  WOW!!!  Just the type of romance every girl is looking for.  Adding to the mess is the fact that Brynne is, quite unexpectedly, pregnant.  While Ethan is quick to wrap his head around this news, Brynne behaves like a child, runs away and, texts Ethan their bail out/safe word!  As you might have already figured out, I am completely frustrated with these two and their respective behaviors at this point!

Once the show moves back to London, everything seems to come to a head quickly.  Brynne’s life is again threatened in a tangible way, Ethan once again devolves into a jealous, overprotective cave man (the photo shoot, UGH!!!) and, Brynne ignores the safety features that have been put into place to protect her.  Seriously??  Again??  Thrown into the mix are the ugly nightmares related to Ethan’s military past which he can apparently only be comforted about through lots of intense sex and smoking clove cigarettes.  By the time you head toward the end of the read, there is a ton of tension building and the proverbial sh*t hits the fan.  The big bad finally plays his hand and in a dramatic and somewhat odd ending, Brynne is saved and the threat to her life is eliminated once and for all. 

The Bottom Line: Let me be absolutely clear: I desperately WANTED to love this trilogy especially after seeing so many bloggers and reviewers whose opinions I trust and respect having really loved this series.  It just didn’t happen for me and as I continued to read each book, I became more and more frustrated with both Ethan and Brynne and their respective behaviors.  Furthermore, I found the reveal and wrap-up of the big bad to be awkward and a bit rushed.  Though, to be fair, I wasn’t sure about the identity of the big bad until near the end. 

So, the ultimate question becomes, did I like this series?  Honestly, I am in the middle where the series as a whole is concerned.  I really did enjoy the first book and never once considered DNFing any of the reads.  There are certainly no complaints where the author’s writing style, the plot in general, editing, etc. are concerned.  For me, it all just boiled down to me being very disappointed in two characters I started off liking.  BOO!!  And yes, I now feel like a complete boob for being in the minority on this one but, at least the review is honest 😦

Link to my anniversary post that has tons of sweepstake links

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