STEMS OF AFFLICTION

Reviews for STEMS OF AFFLICTION – Book 1 in the Stem Series Trilogy

I was very impressed with how simply and effortlessly M.J.Brookes was able tell this addicting, multi-layered story with well-developed world building and great, sexy characters and still manage to make romance feel so fresh! Problem with so many of these types of books (romantic/erotica) is that I find is that they are so often just a retelling of the same tired plots.But almost from the beginning when we meet Samantha (and learn of her back story) then later when she meets the hot Jake, we hooked on every scene, as I thought their romance was not only hot, but beautiful and believable…. And definitely not without its unexpected complications! I like Brookes’s writing style very much– very descriptive and passionate and with great chemistry. An engaging and intoxicating read all through to the end that feels familiar enough to fit well in the genre, but fresh enough to keep us interested. Near flawless editing too, which is always appreciated!! But that ending… what? ! Didn’t see that coming and now I need the next one ASAP!! Recommend for mature readers as there is an erotic element and adult scenes. (5 stars) Megan King– Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

I really like how even though this novel “Stems of Affliction” by M.J. Brookes is about an erotic romance between two lovers where the past ‘comes back to haunt them’ …. a literary trope that I have encountered many times before in romance, but the story never becomes predictable or feels cliché, and there are some serious plot twists I didn’t see coming… (Most of)the characters were so well-developed and fleshed out I feel like I knew them personally, and for some reason this book felt more like a ‘real’ romance than most I’ve read, if this makes sense. Liked that it wasn’t corny or contrived,but the leads were smart, successful, and strong, not just some simpering female waiting to be saved.  The pacing was good, but I did think the beginning was a bit too slow before we saw any real inciting incident. But I liked the buildup and watching the relationship with Samantha and Jake unfold. Overall an emotionally seductive and satisfying escape that I highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a great romance novel with a unique feel. Complex and unpredictable, M.J. Brookes did a terrific job making this story feel like something we haven’t read a million times, which is pretty impressive for this genre! Ready for book 2 as soon as it’s published… gotta see how Jake reacts to that bombshell!! Recommend for adults only. (4-5 stars) Eliza Brown–Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

“Stems of Affliction” by M.J. Brookes takes us on a thrilling, sexy, romantic experience. The beginning starts off a little slow,but I liked meeting the characters and seeing how everything is connected in ways that we don’t realize at first. The strong, passionate writing pulls you in and takes you along for the ride as we experience life through both Samantha’s eyes and also Jake’s, so we get a well-rounded experience and see better insight into what is happening with each one. I have to say I really enjoyed reading this and like the author’s tone and writing style a lot and it was just so fluid and easy to get lost in. I was never distracted by poor editing or grammar/syntax as happens so often when I read erotica ebooks. And even though there were a few times where the characters (or their actions) were making me crazy, and I did find a few things to feel a tad cliché on occasion, there is a level of freshness and believability there that made reading this a rich,rewarding experience. As I read tons of romance novels and I think I even liked this one a bit more than normal— so much fun and wasn’t predictable. And I never really knew what was going to happen (especially with Jake) so that kept me on my toes. While it’s not perfect (could use some trimming of some unnecessary dialogue and scenes) I thought the story as a whole was pretty great and I’m happy to have read it and will recommend it to fans of romance and drama. Ready for the next one as this one ends on a cliffhanger. (4 stars) Essie Harmon– Goodreads; Barnes & Noble;Indie Book Reviewers

“Stems of Affliction” by M.J. Brookes seems to have something of everything that I love in my novels… great, believable chemistry with the characters, suspense and intrigue and complex and complicated past relationships, romance, fleshed out relationships–sexual and platonic, and an actual plot that is also intelligent and has ‘realistic’ situations and aren’t just the same sex scenes told over and over in different ways…. From the beginning this was an easy read that held on to my attention and kept me coming back night after night. Although I did enjoy the creative plot lines that seemed to get better and more complex as it went along, I feel like some parts could definitely have been trimmed down some to reduce the ‘filler’ that occurred that didn’t really add anything to the plot or move the story forward like it should. Some conversations felt more like ‘chit-chat’ and didn’t really add anything. Took a while for it to really pick up steam and I think that for such a long book it could have been cut down about 20% and not lost any impact (and been better actually). But the writing really is superb (as is the editing) and this was a fun, engaging read that is steamy and sexxxy and realistic enough,and definitely entertains. Recommend for ages 18+. (4 stars) Stacy Decker– Goodreads; Barnes & Noble;Indie Book Reviewers

This was the first book I’ve read by M.J. Brookes, but I certainly hope it’s not the last! (in fact where is “Stems of Inception”??!) She has a wonderful gift of writing atmospheric and life-like, sexy, erotic,heart-grabbing scenes that make us feel like we are really there inside the story and the characters’ heads (and beds!), as opposed to it all just being”told” to us, as so many authors make the mistake of doing. I like that this book didn’t feel stale or derivative, but instead like a romantic, new niche of literary erotic romance/drama/mystery/suspense that serves well to help diversify a somewhat cookie-cutter genre (in my opinion). I appreciated the depth of the intricate emotional subplots. To me this was just as much of a’life’ story than a ‘love’ story, that is both profound and surprising with twists, but also has romantic and erotic elements. But alas it’s not with out its complications, and it’s hard to see if Samantha and Jake get it right,especially with how the story leaves off. Lots of twists in this powerful read.Overall the entire novel was one that I thought was nicely written and delivered an emotional win in the end, even if unfinished. Adults only,recommend for fans of literary erotica (4-5 stars)  Marcella Gonzales– Goodreads;Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

“Stems of Affliction” by M.J. Brookes has to be one of the most original and compelling novels I’ve read in a while. I was completely drawn in from the get-go, and absolutely loved Brookes’ narrative voice of being inside both Samantha’s and Jake’s POV, and the way she does such great dialogue with the characters. And the sex scenes with them are so HOT(swoon!!!)It’s not overdone where we know every last bit but you more FEEL like you really know them.  The prose and narrative were some of the best I’ve encountered lately in erotica (usually they are very poorly or cheesily written,I think)—beautiful and descriptive and with a great, authentic flow.You cannot fake that, and Brookes has it in spades. It was an emotional, sexxxxxy,and compelling journey from the intriguing beginning to the end, and you will want the next book in your hands just as soon as you finish this one! Can’t wait to read more from this author in the future! Recommend for mature readers only. (5 stars) Karen Matthews–Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

“Stems of Affliction” by M.J. Brookes is a great read and the author does a good job of keeping the reader invested in the story and the characters. We are on the edge wondering about how things will develop and takes by surprise at some twists and turns. I enjoyed reading it and it kept me entertained all the way through. Samantha and Jake have great chemistry, and even though I wish it ended differently, if there are sequels in the future I will read them. I appreciated that this book was not only written well, but edited well (I notice these things) sadly many e-books these days aren’t, but this one felt polished and professional. A big plus in my book. Everything felt believable and real and this was a sexy escape that I really enjoyed. (5 stars) Anabella Johnson– Goodreads; Barnes &Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

Wow, a delicious, yummy romp that you just wish was happening to you! These characters are SO STEAMY and sexy hot! When they are together their chemistry just leaps off the page and into your lap (tee-hee).  So many of these erotic books are really poorly written it is nice to see one that isn’t. M.J. Brookes is a very talented writer and I’m interested to see what other books she comes up with. Her story has great passion, but is also deep and with many subplots that you don’t expect. Lots of surprises and people from the past that are connected in unexpected ways. A solid storyline that is both believable but also entertaining. Recommended for older readers and readers of erotica/romance/drama.  Try it – you won’t be disappointed. (4 stars) Claire Middleton– Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

Just a heads up – when starting this book make sure you don’t have anywhere you need to be or anything you need to do because you won’t want to stop reading until you’ve finished it all!! Trust me on this! (and it’s a really long book! Haha) It’s so easy to just sink into this story,because how the author writes it’s like listening to your friend talk (either your girlfriend, or the guy friend who you love but is a bit of a bad boy in a funny, adorable, sexy way)… that guy 😉 It is entertaining, as a book should be, and I like that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but there is still some riveting drama that unfolds with the promise of more to come. An interesting and intoxicating combination of erotica, romance, friendships, drama, humor, and danger. M.J. Brookes breathes life into not only the leads of Samantha and Jake, but the friends and family as well. This is great because I can’t stand when the supporting cast is paper thin, but this one really helps to add to the authenticity of the storyline and situations. For the most part the editing was very clean,although there were a few places where I couldn’t tell who the speaker was, and thought occasionally it was a little overwritten. But other than that a great read that I look forward to continuing on with in the series very soon.Recommend for mature readers only. (5 stars) Brenda Maxwell– Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

Oh yum, this book was terrific! Once I started reading I didn’t want to stop until I’d read the whole thing. It pulls you in from the beginning, and I totally enjoyed M.J. Brookes writing style and tone–lighthearted, but also articulate and well-written and can deliver drama at the right times…. And the sex… oh my! (*fans self*)…And it’s not just a run-of-the-mill erotica with a thin plot based around hot sex… there is enough unpredictability and character development to keep you intrigued as to what is going on and want to keep reading.It can be a bit wordy at times, but that is just part of the overall tone -feels more like a ‘real life scene’ or ‘free-spirited’ (at times) for lack of a better word. The interweaving plot lines were well-crafted and not predictable,and I love how we never know exactly what is in store next… was caught off guard a few times, something that doesn’t happen often. I like that this book actually had substance other than just sex, but that part was really good too.Looking forward to reading “Stems of Inception” next. Hope I don’t have to wait too long! (5 stars) Jhonni Parker–Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

“Stems of Affliction” by M.J. Brookes is a stunning work of creativity, passion, sensuality, and imagination. It stretches the boundaries for this type of fiction in new ways that really impressed me. I read erotic romance all the time, but this one stood out to me as being exceptionally well written and feeling fresh and original. Lots of depth and complexity with a good storyline that was about far more than just the sex. I finished it in three days which is practically a record for me because I’m a slow reader with not much time and this is a long book. But I couldn’t put it down! The scenes with Jake and Samantha were hot, hot, hot! And I can’t wait to read the next book, “Stems of Inception.” It is on my TBR list now! (5 stars). Layla Messing– Goodreads; Barnes &Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

STEMS OF INCEPTION

Reviews for STEMS OF INCEPTION – Book 2 in the Stem Series Trilogy

This is the second book I’ve read from M. J. Brookes, the first being “Stems of Affliction”, Book 1 in the Stems trilogy. I absolutely loved the first one and was dying for the next, especially after that cliffhanger ending! But since it was awhile since I’d read it, I’d forgotten many things and was pleased how Brookes did a great job of quickly bringing us up to speed on the events of the past with Samantha and Jake and what brought them to that dramatic moment. It starts practically on the same scene book one end on, and it’s very intense. So even though I loved the first book, in my opinion this one was even better! “Stems of Inception” is so well-written, perfectly-edited, highly sensual look at life, love, loss, and the ravages of good and bad, right and wrong, and secrets that can potentially destroy lives, and the different ways people react to unthinkable situations, infused with seriously HOT chemistry and romance with Samantha and Jake. This powerhouse of a story is equally packed with intense crazy drama, action and emotion for even the pickiest of thriller/suspense/romance readers. I like that this one reveals a lot of secrets of the past and brings new characters in that add to the mystery and it is never predictable. I literally lost track of how many times something surprised me in this book. One thing that I really like is how yes, the sex scenes with Samantha and Jake are hot and definitely in the ‘erotica’ category. But so many times that feels just like ‘gratuitous sex for the sake of sex’ by the author, but not here. In this one we really feel their actual love for each other. Jake is so protective of Samantha and it is clear that he’ll do anything for her. Perfect pacing throughout (and hard to put down!) and great balance of narrative and authentic dialogue. We see both Jakes and Samantha’s perspectives, but they don’t overlap or ever feel redundant. Excellent writing, memorable characters, and dark suspenseful element mixed with some toe-curling erotica made “Stems of Inception” a hit for me. Best recommended for older readers due to graphic scenes and language, and it does end on a cliffhanger that had me instantly searching for the next one!!! I don’t see it anywhere so I really hope it isn’t too far off! (5 stars) Eliza Brown – Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

MJ Brookes put a lot of heart and time and effort into this story and it shows. Sometimes sequels are tough because the author can suffer from the ‘sophomore slump’ or the story loses some steam. That was definitely not the case here! If anything, “Stems of Inception” was stronger in many ways than book 1, “Stems of Affliction” and I’d thought that one was very good! Here, Brookes did a great job of not only strongly continuing the storyline, but also raised the bar even more. She has a really good way with words; her descriptions are vivid; you see what the characters are seeing, you feel what they are feeling; you feel like you are there in the story with Samantha and Jake and the others. Several of the same characters from the first book are here, but we also meet a host of new ones who throw things into a tailspin. Like the first, I found this book very hard to put down, as I had to know what the outcome for each of these characters would be, as it seemed almost every chapter brought on a fresh crisis or scandalous revelation. It feels almost like one long continuous storyline as it starts immediately after the first book, and must be read in order, and has everything I like in books: It is an entertaining roller coaster of family drama, secrets, and betrayal, steamy romance and love… makes you feel, it makes you think, and it makes you lose track of time while reading it, is never predictable and will keep you guessing right up til the end – which is ANOTHER crazy cliffhanger! Seriously, M.J., you’re killing me! Please release book #3 soon! 🙂 Highly recommend for readers of erotic thriller and suspense, but like I said you should read the first book before reading this one. (5 stars) Megan King—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

“Stems of Inception” is chock full of the same wild, crazy intense drama that I enjoyed in M. J. Brookes’s first book, “Stems of Affliction”, and if anything, she has ramped up the action even more! Not hardly a chapter passes by without encountering another devastating secret from the past (and present!), shocking discoveries, some family secrets, murder, danger, intense love scenes, etc… From the beginning, Brookes sweeps the reader away into a multitude of unforgettable experiences through the main characters of Samantha and Jake, picking up in the middle of a very dramatic scene where the first book left off. So unlike that one, this one wastes no time with any ‘setup’ (but there is a quick plot recap thankfully) as we dive right into their passionate, and incredibly complicated and twisted lives. Brookes writes with great energy and passion that is palpable –  has the ability to keep us totally engaged throughout the entire story, and that is no small feat –You want to keep reading it but at the same time it seems really intense at times. There are more ‘life and death’ situations in this one that really escalates the stakes for Samantha and Jake and I liked the new characters who come in to her life, like Chase. The ending is good in that it wraps up some things but and I’m not sure how I feel about the cliffhanger, TBH. I think I want to read series that are complete from now on because it feels like a tease– but nothing that ruined the book for me. (I just wish I had the next one now). Great characters… great writing… great storylines… great sex scenes. Fantastic!  Recommend for fans of erotic thrillers/suspense (4 stars) Sam Ryan—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

I’m really becoming a fan of M.J. Brookes’s books… this is the second one I’ve read from her – the first being “Stems of Affliction”. This one, “Stems of Inception” is a direct continuation of the first book, and written in the same sort of way, yet has its very own distinctive feel. In addition to being a riveting character-driven and action-packed drama, it expands on several emotional and personal events from book one to make it even more dramatic and more depth to the storyline, like murder and family secrets. This isn’t just a silly erotica for bored housewives – it is a well-crafted dramatic suspense that will thrill you, but also wrapped on a very sexy and erotic love story that magnifies the emotional experience even more. Like with her the first book, I thought M.J.’s writing was solid, there is lots of great character action and plenty of twists (which while a tad detectable at times are still entertaining), lots of hot scenes between the leads and a good supporting cast as well. Here Jake and Samantha have more personal and romantic obstacles to overcome, but if anything the things that could tear them apart pull them closer together. Their chemistry is hotter than ever, and once again we are left panting for the next installment ASAP. I flew through this book a quickly as I did the other and was sad to finish – although the ending is good but also leaves you wanting more. (4-5 stars) Essie Harmon—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

This is my second novel now by MJ Brookes, and they have both been very, very good. I like the fact that even though it is a continuation of the predecessor “Stems of Affliction (book1)” (and you need to read them in order), this one takes Samantha and Jake’s story to a whole new level. It a fully-realized erotic thriller/suspense novel, but without all the bloat that we sometimes see in the genre (contrived plotlines, excessive and redundant descriptions, caricatures instead of characters, meandering dialogue that goes nowhere…). Brookes fills you in as we go without getting bogged down in describing every last thing or relying on the sex scenes to make the story ‘interesting (although they certainly don’t hurt!). The story moves forward at a very quick pace and you can’t help get sucked in with Samantha and Jake as they encounter a whole new minefield of problems to navigate – — they have some serious conflict to overcome and that is what makes their storyline so compelling. I enjoyed watching some new (and old) relationships with the other character – love Chase and Charlie and Tess… Some similar themes and motifs found in typical erotica, but Brookes does a fantastic job of putting her own unique spin on them and making their relationship more than just about sex. I appreciate how her characters’ stories don’t just get wrapped up with a neat little bow and the cliché ‘happy ever after’ at the end, but there is more trouble in store! Can’t wait! Adults only. (4-5 stars) Stacy Decker—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

Leave it to M.J. Brookes to create another engrossing, shocking, sexxxxy, and totally addicting story that kept me attached to my kindle for hours on end! I really liked the first book (“Stems of Affliction”) but I think I may have enjoyed this one even more! “Stems of Inception” was creative (but still believable), well-written, and fast-paced. I liked coming back to these characters and seeing how Jake handles Samantha’s confession and also what they do now that their lives have been thrown into more chaos with each new revelation. I liked learning more about Samantha’s past but also enjoyed the heightened danger element in this one – definitely had more drama and action and I always like it when the ‘past’ pops up in the presenting unexpected ways like this. Good addition of some new characters and of course the sex it hot and so is Jake, etc, but there is a really compelling storyline here with Samantha and her family/past that makes it have more substance than some cheesy erotica. Great writing and interesting plot that makes you practically scream at the last page (OK where’s “Stems of Completion??!!” and a romance hotter than the Texas sun, this whole series has been an unexpected delight for me and I can’t wait to see where it goes next. Adults only. Marcella Gonzales – Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers (5 stars).

Regardless of the genre, whether it is action, fantasy, romance, whatever,… there is much to be said about a novel that reads well. I’ve mentioned this before in other reviews I’ve written, but a book that keeps you reading long after you plan on putting it down ranks high for me. Not only is it entertaining, but you look forward to getting back into the book each and every time you pick it up, if you have the self-control to ever put it down. I have found that this helps me to expand my horizons and enjoy authors and genres that I normally might not otherwise. That is what reading these books by M. J. Brookes, and particularly this novel, “Stems of Inception” has done for me. Typical of many suspense/mystery/thriller books I’ve read, “Inception” has much in the way of raw, ugly grittiness, shocking secrets, yet it remains inventive and profoundly ‘true to life’ in that it isn’t entirely impossible to believe. The characters and world-building remain solid which is key. With twists and turns from the opening pages you won’t know what to expect next. I found that this one got off to a much better start and continued with tighter action than the first one did. Generally, I find that books with a heavy erotica element tend to rely of the ‘sex’ factor to make the story good, but here I thought it just made it even better. I will confess that some scenes I did find a little ‘eye-rolly’ (almost campy) but it’s forgiven because it balances out the heavier moments of the life-threatening danger and it wasn’t overkill. Very descriptive and we feel like we are inside Samantha’s and Jake’s wild lives. A very strong continuation of the series and I wait eagerly for “Stems of Completion”. (4 stars) Laura Clarke—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

There are few things I enjoy more than curling up with a good book and getting lost for hours on end, and “Stems of Inception” by M.J. Brookes did a great job of keeping me hostage night after night! It had been some time since I read the first one so I’d sort of forgotten exactly what happened, so I actually re-read it because while we do get a quick catch-up on events, I still felt like I’d forgotten a lot about Samantha’s story and with Jake. This book directly continues that one so it was a much smoother transition for me that way, and was a great way to spend a few weeks back in this ‘story world’. Hot!!! Yes it is erotica, but it is also a fascinating character/relationship drama that is very fitting of the genre, but also puts in some dangerous plotlines and suspense element that makes it even more exciting. Plus it gives us chance to see what they do in moments of real crisis and when they are tested. Love how Jake steps up, and the circumstances and situations Brookes puts her characters in (especially Samantha) are anything but ‘ordinary’ yet still maintain a sense of believability. I’m just happy that these feel like ‘real’ people (for the most part) not some obscenely gorgeous billionaire or rock star (soooo played out already!!)  And okay while it’s unusual to have so much happen to one couple, it’s also what makes it highly entertaining and hard to put down. But it’s not all high-octane drama, there is also the softer, emotional side that was appealing, and some deep romantic (and highly sexual) themes throughout.  This one ends on a cliffhanger like the first one did and in a way I think this one is even more frustrating – in a good way. I need book #3! Recommend to mature fans of mystery/suspense/thriller and erotica. (4-5 stars). Claire Middleton—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

I loved the first book by M.J. Brookes, “Stems of Affliction” so I already had some pretty high expectations when starting this one, “Stems of Inception”, book #2 in the “Stems” series. That said, I still marveled at the way that Brookes is able to make the story and characters come alive in a way that is sexy, emotional, and with great passion and energy. The relationship drama and complex ties between Jake and Samantha and their connections to dangerous people and secrets, provides great conflict to their storyline and pulls the plot forward organically… and still provides great action and danger and some steamy sex that makes it all the more fun! This book is basically nonstop addicting awesome from beginning to end, and I should know better by now when I read a book by Ms. Brookes that I’m down for the count, as she has a knack for writing such interesting characters and you don’t want to leave them for a moment. This is a little different from most books I’ve read, but still maintains the style I liked that it isn’t predictable and will keep you guessing (with secrets and surprises around every corner), has strong, smart, and bad characters, and well developed plots that come together for an intense climax in the end – and we are left again in the throes, wondering what will happen next (I have a few guesses who…). I like how Brookes can write these totally ‘out-there’ stories with characters who defy normal conventions on many levels, but they are completely believable because their actions, as shocking (or even bad) as they may seem at times, always make sense for the characters, and this is so important for the integrity of the storyline – even if it does feel a little like a ‘nighttime soap opera’ on occasion. A little disappointed that it seems like we have to wait for another book to see what happens next but – that seems to be more there in the scene at the ending (no spoilers). But still a great book, and a recommended read for anyone who enjoys romance and erotica, suspense and thrillers. (5 stars) Karen Matthews—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

While I heartily enjoyed the other book I read by M.J. Brookes, “Stems of Affliction”, in my opinion this one “Stems of Inception” was much stronger and harder to put down. I remember thinking that the first one always felt just a little to ‘safe’ for me, but this one definitely raises the stakes in more ways than one. It’s like the author found another gear, and I loved it. These characters (especially Samantha and Jake but also some others) are so imperfect and human, they feel like real people, even if ‘good’ or ‘bad’. While the story is mostly centered around Samantha, her father her past and the danger surrounding some secretes and connections, there are many other characters who add to the depth and breadth of the storyline as well (Like Charlie and Chase). I found myself reading this one slower than I did the first because there are more pieces of the puzzle, yet maintains a good pace that keeps you wanting to read more and more until the exciting climax at the end – which is another cliffhanger. I am curious to see what will happen and also appreciate the strides the author has taken in ramping up the stakes here. The sexual chemistry and love scenes with Jake and Samantha steam up the pages, and the editing (and pacing) was great. If you like thrilling, sexy mysteries with good characters who will shock and entertain, sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy the experience. (4 stars).  Kaylee Stevens – Goodreads; Barnes and Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

“Stems of Inception” is the follow up to the first book in the “Stems” series, and is a great piece of erotica/ suspense fiction no one should miss reading if they are looking for a riveting, entertaining read that is more than a little on the dark and sexy side. If you’re looking for a work completely lacking in cliché then I must say that you might have a bone to pick with this, as there were some ‘familiar’ elements that made me almost feel at times that I had read it before (I haven’t). But I believe the author’s job is not to be completely original (for is there such a thing as true originality, especially in suspense or mystery or erotica literature?) but rather to take old tropes and use them to tell a powerful story that stays with you. For I believe that the true future for the genre lies not in becoming ‘newer’ but rather by taking the standard tropes (secretes, lies, revenge, redemption, family, friends, love, sex) and telling them better. This is where Brookes’ strength lies, in my opinion. Erotica has a tendency to be thin on plot sometimes (with the exception of some well-known paranormal and fantasy series) but contemporary is usually lacking, in my opinion. Solid writing, but I’m still not a real fan of the author’s habit of doing such cliffhanger endings – I do prefer more closure and then with the door open for more. Still a great experience and I will be looking for “Stems of Completion”. Recommend for 18+. (4 stars) Gillian Hancock—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

“Stems of Inception” by M.J. Brookes was a dark, edgy and complex book that I read in just a few evenings. It delivers on so many levels, but the most important one to me personally was that it was fun. Not ‘haha this is great’ fun, or ‘silly light adventures’ fun, (though I do appreciate those types of stories as well), but fun as in, ‘I’m totally invested in this wild, surprising and unpredictable book and I don’t want to stop reading because I have to know what will happen with Jake and Samantha” fun. From the opening pages there was not a single moment that I was not hooked in this story; through all the bizarre, shocking, and surreal developments. It starts right where the first one ends so these are books that need to be read in order. I like how M.J. writes – her descriptions are so detailed and we really imagine the scenes so clearly, her characters well-developed, the dialogues witty and the banters between the various characters authentic and progressed their story and the ever-present tension and conflict was always there – sometimes action-packed and intense in nature, other times would be light and teasing and playful sexy. Great mix. And speaking of sexy…. She really brings it in this one and holds nothing back!  So happy to be a part of this crazy sexy and delightfully twisted world M.J. Brookes created and even though I NEED “Stems of Completion” NOW, I’ll be sad when it’s all over. Adults only (4-5 stars) Anabella Johnson—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

Stems of Inception” was a great book to read – really sexy and lots of fun. The multifaceted and wide cast of characters, from passionate lovers (Jake and Samantha), to mysterious ‘relatives’ and their haunting – and deadly- secrets, to new characters and those from the past, some good, some very bad, gives a solid framework for this unique story to unfold. And while there is the necessary element of sex and danger, it is through Samantha and Jake’s interactions with other characters that serves as a real crux for creating genuine conflict that has us hooked through to the end. Has this idea been done before? Sure. But when told well will never go out of style and will take us along for the ride every time. Great editing, pacing and flow but I do not like cliffhanger endings, especially if I have to wait for the next book. But it does make me want more! Recommend. (4-5 stars) Brenda Maxwell—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

This novel “Stems of Inception”, in fact both the books I’ve read so far by this author MJ Brookes, demonstrates what a good writer can do with the constraints and conventions of the mystery-suspense-erotica genre. This world feels so real, perhaps because she focuses on the lives of seemingly ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events and lifestyle that is so very different from the norm – but they aren’t contrived our ludicrous for the sake of making a ‘good story’- quite the opposite. The changing storyline forced Samantha, and Jake to some extent, out of their comfort zones and into situations that challenge them and ultimately transform, on some level…and to me this is so crucial especially in erotica where usually they seem so one-dimensional with shallow goals (if any). Here there is breathtaking danger and lots of surprising turns – and also a nice emotional tie as well. And while there is really just too much ground covered in this book to properly sum up in a brief review, just know that both of these books have exceeded expectations and keep getting better. Hats off to Ms. Brookes for rocking out this awesome series that was so sexy and entertaining and well-presented I have zero hesitation about recommending to fans of the genre. It’s not perfect (is any book?) but you will love it. Ready for #3!  (5 stars) Jhonnie Parker—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers