Guest Post: Author Christina Mandara reviews Manic by J.A. Huss (Review & Excerpt)

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Manic by J.A. Huss

Series: Rook and Ronin #2
Source: Personal Library
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

TRAGIC is over and Rook is ready for the future—Spencer Shrike and the STURGIS contract!

It’s three months of body art modeling! That means three months of Spencer Shrike’s paintbrush all over her body, three months in front of Antoine’s camera, and three months of twenty-four-hour filming for Spencer’s Biker Channel reality show.

Wait a minute… what reality show? Maybe she should’ve read that STURGIS contract a little closer? 😉

Sure, Rook’s bank account is overflowing, but Ronin is angry, Clare is trying to escape rehab, Antoine is a worried mess, and Elise is just trying to hold everyone together. Rook’s new family is about to fall apart before she even gets the chance to enjoy it.

Add in a mysterious man from her past, a road trip to the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and a final show in front of the entire world where all her goods are on display, and you’ve got Manic—a New Adult contemporary romance that will definitely make your summer sizzle!

Buy The Book:
Recommended – Buy the Omnibus with all three Rook & Ronin books:



Rook and Ronin are in lurve. Well, they’re in bed and enjoying themselves, in any case.

He kisses me like he hasn’t seen me in weeks. Months. Like he didn’t just make love to me an hour ago.

But rest assured you’re not going to get bogged down with the lovey-dovey stuff, for no sooner do you get past the end of chapter one, and DRAMA strikes.

Rook had signed up for Spencer Shrike’s STURGIS contract at the end of book one, which meant she is about to get oodles of money for posing naked and getting spray painted from head to toe (naughty bits included!). Alas, the poor girl forgot to read the small print. She’s also about to star in a reality TV show and millions of cameras are about to follow her every move, even in the bedroom! (That’ll scupper a few naughty liaisons with Ronin, right? Wrong. She’s a smart girl, she figures her way around it.)

Anyway, the best bit about book two is meeting the wondrous Ford Aston.  Rook and Ford do not hit it off particularly well, especially as he appears to be the one in charge of the camera’s whereabouts.

“Where’s Spencer? I ask after looking around. “And everyone else?” It’s just me, Ronin, and this asshole named after a truck.

And then things get a bit more personal with:

So, tell me, Ford – is that a family name? Or did your parents just like trucks?”

Meow. Ford’s in charge of the hated cameras and Rook is determined to make her displeasure known. She’s just about got herself in breach of contract before Ronin manages to smooth the waters over, although he’s not happy by a long shot. His best friend is shortly going to be painting his girl naked

Rook needs to learn to behave. You must never argue with a truck. Especially one that’s into pervy BDSM (I’m in love with Ford by the way…) This man is about to railroad her into submission (not the pervy kind, unfortunately) and she’s not going to like it, much. After the camera incident, he decides to blackmail her into exercising with him every day, running up and down stairs in a local stadium. If she falls in line, he’ll let her take a shower in privacy. (I really like this man…) So, he has Rook running up and down hundreds of stairs on a daily basis at and at stupid o’clock in the morning to gain this privilege. Rook, masochism does indeed become you and Ford’s got a big grin on his face now.


In Manic, Ronin has just as many problems as Rook, if not more. His best buddy is touching his girl up on a daily basis, Claire (one of the models) is in for a spell in rehab which takes him out of town frequently, and there is something not quite right going on behind the scenes with Spencer, Ford and himself that I can’t quite put my finger on. Rest assured it isn’t good. There is some weirdness going down.

Constantly worrying about Rook, he’s leaves his so-called friend, Ford, the amateur psychologist and manipulator, to try and figure out Rook’s problems whilst getting updates where he can. He’s almost tip-toing around his girl at the moment, knowing that she’s somewhat scared of men and sex, but also knowing that she has the hots for him, and he uses the attraction to his full advantage. He’s also just a teensy weensy bit domineering, and although he’s got nothing on Ford, he does have his moments.

“Rook, I swear, if you say something stupid like ‘I need my own car so you can’t control me’, I’ll handcuff you to the bed and show you what domination really looks like.”

Ronin comes out with quite a few delicious nods to BDSM and let’s just say the sex scenes crackle and fizz.  He’s got to back off though, this is not a girl he can mess with in that way. Anyway, back to the problems. By the end of the book, he’s in for a major shock. He get’s to find out what’s really happened to Rook and the why’s and where’s are not at all pretty. Now he’s just got to figure out how to deal with it without killing anybody.

Highlights – The Paint:

The airbrushing scenes are mesmerising. Be prepared to dribble.

And then Spencer starts on my backside.

It’s not that hard really, and Spence was totally right. Now that my body is covered in black paint I don’t feel so exposed. He kneels down and asks me to spread my legs a little, then his paint goes up and down my inner thighs.

It’s sorta erotic.

No, it’s mind-blowingly erotic, actually. I had steam coming out of my ears by the end of the paint scenes.

When I turn around the first thing I see is Ford. He’s sitting He’s sitting in a chair not five feet from me. It’s a bit of a shock, but the nosy camera guys take my mind off Ford. They are zooming in on my tits. I roll my eyes. “You boys are so predictable.” The camera pans up to my face and I decide to tell the audience a thing or two. “I mean, am I right girls? All these assholes think about are tits.”

I thought it was food, Rook, but you may have something there…

OK, well, what’s the plan today, Spence?

“Bikinis, four of them.”

I shake my head trying to imagine four painting and photo shoots. “That sounds like a long day.”

“Well,” – Ford is back in action again – “it’s not really, Rook. Because the term bikini is used loosely here.” I mouth the words ‘shut up’ at him, but he looks right at me and continues talking. “Because those little postage stamps Spencer is going to paint over your nipples barely count as clothing, or paint for that matter.”

The Showers:

I wash the paint thinner off in the Beast (shower), and I tell you what, I’d have breakfast, lunch and dinner with Ford to keep using this thing.

Atta girl, Rook. But you know you secretly like Ford, right?

I look up at him and he leans down and kisses me gently. He drops the soap and pulls me right up against his full erection still gently caressing my lips. My hands slip around his waist and then up his muscular back. I drag them back down his arms and then up his chest. He pulls me with him as he steps back a few paces, then sits down on the far side of the shower, away from the punishing jets and right into the thick mist of steam coming from the ceiling.

There are so many buttons on Ronin’s shower, believe me when I tell you that you will want to push them all, and a few besides…

The Ending:

J A Huss really nails this one and it’s an adrenaline-filled climax that will have your heart racing.


Straight from the Sturgis contract, Rook is thinking about taking out another contract for a reality TV show with Spencer and Ford in tow. She’s aware both find her very attractive, and that it will place her firmly in the limelight yet again.  As she appears to be getting over her fears, this is more plausible in book two, so I’m going with the flow, but I wonder how many sensible girls would pick this option. (Makes the books all the more interesting because of it, which is, I guess, why it happens!)


J A Huss has a magnificent formula for her books that always keeps you guessing. I already know that book three is going to be amaze-balls and I can’t wait to see what it unearths about the unlikely trio – Ronin, Spencer and Ford.

Oh and I have a new book boyfriend. Ford, you are DELICIOUS. I need your name and telephone number. Enough said.

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“You scare me, Rook.”

“Why?” I ask, puzzled.

“Because your future is making itself right now, this very moment. And you have no idea it’s happening. I want you so completely it hurts. But you and I are in two totally different places.”

My whole body shivers with a chill as I absorb his words. I swallow. “That sounds like the beginning of a break-up speech. Are you breaking up with me?”

He scoots my bottom closer, thrusting himself inside me a little more. “I love you, Rook. I’m not breaking up with you. But it’s all bad timing, you know?”

I shake my head. “No, not really.”

“My career started when I was seventeen. I’ve done everything you’re just getting a taste of now. I’ve traveled all over the world, I’ve made a shitload of money, I have pretty much everything I want.”


“Except the only thing I really want.”

I wait for it, but he lets out a long sigh and holds it in. “Is it a secret?”

He lets out a soft laugh and rocks himself into me again. “No, it’s not. I already told you that night we went to the zoo.”

“A family,” I say, a little breathless now because what he’s doing, this serious conversation combined with the sensual lovemaking, is making my heart pound.

“Yes. I’m done, Rook. I can live off the money I’ve made for decades. I’m ready to do something else. Start something new.”

“Well, how is that a problem for us?” I ask, lifting up and slipping down on him. It’s his turn to become breathless. “I’m not against the idea, you know.”

He smiles as his hand reaches up to cup my breast.

I shiver again, but this time it’s a good one.

“Not against the idea is not the same as on board.” His fingers stop and his hands wrap around my waist as he slides me back and forth across his lap. My whole body flushes with heat and I tip my head back and close my eyes.

“I’m looking for a partner.”

I swallow. “I’d like to be that partner, but—”

He waits.

I open my eyes. He’s watching me very closely, his hands still gliding over my body, slowly—so, so slowly. My clit throbs against his friction.

He waits.

“I’m scared too, Ronin. But of very different things.”

He wraps his arms around me completely and buries his face in my neck, tasting the water on my skin left over from the misting shower spray. “I’ll take care of you, Rook.”

I take a deep breath and let it out. “I want you to take care of me, Ronin.”

His palms slide up underneath my wet hair and then he fists it, just a little, like a claim. It makes me hesitate, but then he pulls me forward until my cheek touches his. “Then let me, just let me put it all together for us. I can make you happy.”

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About JA Huss:

Website Goodreads Facebook Twitter

J. A. Huss likes to write new adult books that make you think and keep you guessing. Her favorite genre to read is space opera, but since practically no one reads those books, she writes new adult science fiction, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and books about Junco (who refuses to be saddled with a label).

She has an undergraduate degree in horses, (yes, really–Thank you, Colorado State University) and a master’s degree in forensic toxicology from the University of Florida. She used to have a job driving around Colorado doing pretty much nothing but shooting the breeze with farmers, but now she just writes, runs the New Adult Addiction and Clean Teen Reads Book Blogs, and runs an online science classroom for homeschoolers.

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About our Guest Reviewer:
Author C.P. Mandara

Blog | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook 

Christina Mandara was born in the UK, but has spent most of her life travelling the world. She speaks three languages and has been chiefly employed in the fields of finance and travel. Her favourite city is Sydney and her favourite holiday destination is the south of France.
She loves keeping fit and enjoys running, cycling and water sports. No, not those kinds of water sports; think surfing or sailing. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t enjoy BDSM in all of its glorious forms, be that pony girls, bondage, edge play, orgasm denial or a damn good spanking. Her favourite item in the toy closet (a box simply isn’t big enough) is her riding crop.
In her spare time she’s usually cuddled up with a good book, exploring the countryside or baking in the kitchen. In fact, she loves her kitchen so much she’s one of few woman who wouldn’t mind being tied to it! Her first and foremost love is writing, however, and more often than not you’ll find her on a laptop spinning tales of romance, erotica or dark, paranormal fantasies.
Those in the BDSM world might wonder whether Ms Mandara is a top or a bottom. Is she currently training a herd of pony boys or is she stabled up, in full leather tack, with the pony girls? It’s a good question. Answers on a postcard please…
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