A Lila Review: Balls Up (Blowing It #2) by Kate Aaron

Rating: 5 stars out of 5        ★★★★★
Handsome man holding a briefcase in a vintage interior

Handsome man holding a briefcase in a vintage interior

Owen Barnes’s life is finally going the way he wants. He’s making a living as an author, and his relationship with building surveyor Magnus Cassidy is going from strength to strength.

When Owen finds a lump, he buries his head in the sand. He’s too busy for doctor appointments and besides, it’s probably nothing. He pushes concern away and is soon swept up in a whirlwind of distractions. His best friend’s husband is falling apart and Owen needs to be strong for them, not burdening them with his fears.

He says he’ll deal with it when the new book is released, when Ryan and Sameer are more stable, when he’s done writing. Owen has a hundred excuses to hide one simple fact: he’s scared.

Eventually, Magnus drags him to the doctor, and the news isn’t good. Can Owen cope with the unexpected turn events have taken, or is his perfect life about to go balls up?

Eventually, Magnus drags him to the doctor, and the news isn’t good. Can Owen cope with the unexpected turn events have taken, or is his perfect life about to go balls up?

Balls Up is more than a romance, it’s the diary of a cancer patient and his caretaker. Yes, they are a couple, but as the disease progresses, we get to understand the challenges their love faced and how they managed to make it flourish during their darkest time together.

I read this story as a stand-alone but in reality, it is book #2 in the Bring It series. This is not the type of story I usually read, but I’m glad I did. Unless you want to know how Owen and Magnus got together and read more about the secondary characters, there’s no need to read the previous book to enjoy this installment.

Owen’s cancer is the central plot of the story, everything else is secondary. It is a hard book to read. It feels real, and it takes the reader, step by step, through the complete process– from diagnosis to resolution. We live the ups and downs with Owen and take part of his fears, hopes, and treatment.

There are happy moments mixed within the story. Great secondary characters, and perfect scenarios for the events to take place. The pacing flows well, getting us through the hard moments with a little hope to look forward. Owen’s and Magnus’s relationship is the perfect example of a caring love.

The author not only wrote a beautiful story about a real couple with believable problems, but she also gave us a story that everyone can relate to. Like the characters in the story, we all know someone with cancer or had experienced it. Writing about a topic many men are not comfortable to talk about, open the door for their partners to reach to them. It gives us an opening to get more information about a serious issue. And we get to see how the complete medical process works.

Another thing I enjoyed was the characterization. We get outstanding characters, settings, and events from a British perspective. What I liked the most it’s that the author didn’t feel the need to Americanized the story as other do even when they take place outside the United States. The terms, the experiences, and everything surrounding the characters and their stories was believable and perfectly crafted.

The title and the cover go hand in hand with the topics and several scenes in the story. Plus, it matches the cover of the previous book in the series.

Sale Links: Croft House | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 310 pages
Published: June 6, 2016, by Croft House
ISBN: 9781310202261
Edition Language: English

Series:  Blowing It
Book #1: Blowing It
Book #2: Balls Up
Book #3: Dom on the Side

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Dom on the Side (Blowing It #3) by Kate Aaron


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Handsome man holding a briefcase in a vintage interior

Handsome man holding a briefcase in a vintage interior

“I’d love to Dom you one day. You’d be a natural.”

When a one-night stand makes Ryan Jessop a casual offer to introduce him to BDSM, he’s torn between denial of his submissive fantasies and their irresistible pull. Taking a chance, he discovers in Jim a skilled Dominant, and under his guidance, Ryan’s submission blossoms. Unfortunately, guidance is all Jim can offer. The one thing Ryan wants most—a loving Dom to whom he exclusively belongs—is off the table.

Sameer Farouk is the right guy at the wrong time, and as far as Ryan can tell, not kinky. No matter how clearly Ryan can foresee a future with Sameer, he refuses to settle for less than total compatibility, both in and out of the bedroom. Despite their obvious connection, breaking up is the right thing to do, even if it breaks Ryan’s heart.

Torn between them, Ryan must decide if he’s prepared to gamble everything on one man, or if he’d be better off with a vanilla boyfriend and a Dom on the side.

*Dom on the Side is the third book in the Blowing It universe, but can be read as a standalone.

I have mixed feelings about this story that I’ll mention below, but two important facts readers should know about this story up front—this is a prequel to the other two books in the series and takes place about five years before the start of Blowing It. And the second fact—Sameer, the second MC, isn’t introduced until the latter part of the story (at 75%) so it’s difficult to label this a romance.

The words that started Ryan on the road to BDSM were fairly simple and casually spoken after a one-night stand with a guy named Jim: I’d love to Dom you one day. You’d be a natural.” He’d always known he was a little kinky, preferring stronger, more dominant men in bed, and he’d visited a club once with his best friend, Owen, but he’d never seriously considered it until those words ate at his subconscious, and he finally gave in and called Jim to talk about it.

Jim introduces him to the world of BDSM and all its various facets, but he makes it very clear from the start that he’s only looking to play with Ryan—he’ll never get serious since he’s already got a life partner. That shocks Ryan and later causes him to add penetrative sex to his list of things he won’t do with Jim, but he gains more understanding of the open relationship Jim and his partner, Gaz, pursue once he meets Gaz at a local BDSM club. That was an experience, not only for Ryan but for readers as well. No spoilers! However, Gaz’s preferences in the scene were totally different from most this reviewer had previously read, but it was the first time it was positively presented, and I felt drawn to learn more about that kink. As a side note—it would be great to see a sequel featuring Gaz and his partner-in-play, Liam.

The author takes us on Ryan’s journey into the world of BDSM play—from his first visit to a club through his weekly sessions with Jim as they explore various forms of play, including use of restraints, paddles, floggers, sounding wands, and more. In fact, most of the story centers around Ryan’s relationship with Jim. Though he wishes desperately to find a man with whom he can experience both worlds, he despairs of ever having that happiness. When he meets Sameer, at first it’s just a one-night stand, and then weeks later he sees him again, and the two begin to seriously date.

But Ryan always shields his heart because he’s desperately afraid he’ll fall in love, and he just knows Sameer will turn away from him if he reveals his kinky side. This leads to an emotional tug-of-war throughout the last fourth of the book.

This story can be read as a standalone since it comes way before the first book in the series. If anything, readers may be prompted to continue Owen’s story with the first two books after they read this. I enjoyed it and the author did an outstanding job in explaining the world of BDSM and many of the aspects of the lifestyle and of the equipment used, however, it fell flat as a romance. Between the fact that Sameer wasn’t introduced until the end of the book, and Ryan’s efforts to remain emotionally uninvolved with him, it really didn’t feel like a romance at all. His relationship with Jim, however, was interesting, emotional, and clearly illustrated many of the aspects of a good Dom-sub relationship. If you are well-versed in BDSM, you may find this story too much of a primer. If you are new to the theme, this book provides a very good foundation, and I would recommend it with the caveat that you won’t be getting a lot of romance. Hot sex? Yes! Romance? No.


Cover design by Elizabeth Mackey Graphics features a man’s two arms tightly gripping white fabric and linked by a pair of bright blue leather handcuffs, clearly illustrating the MC in this story.

Sales links:  ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 285 pages
Published January 25th 2016 by Croft House (first published January 24th 2016)
Original Title Dom on the Side
Edition Language English