Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ ASYLUM BY LILY WHITE

Words are funny things.
Their meaning, the pictures they paint in the minds of those that hear them: they’re not always the same and to me at least, that makes them meaningless.
Take for instance the phrase ‘black widow’. Those words conjure the image of a spider, an eight-legged creature with the red imprint of an hourglass on its abdomen.
However, instead of speaking of an arachnid, of the resident of a spindly and dew-laden web, the people who whisper those words are talking about something much different.
They’re talking about me.
From what I’m told, I’m called the Black Widow because no man I’ve ever loved has survived.
Yet, I have no memory of any of it.
My new home leads me to the definition of another vague and meaningless word.
It’s a place where I’m supposed to seek refuge.
A place of retreat and security.
It’s a place where I’m supposed to be kept safe because I’m sick.
But the definition for this place is wrong and the word becomes meaningless when you’re tucked away and made silent by drugs and pretty white jackets.
My name is Alexandra Sutton and this is the story of what happened when I was imprisoned inside an Asylum.

It’s no secret that I adore this author and her wickedly erotic, mindblowingly dark, and downright fascinating stories that keep me on my toes and leave me reeling with twist after turn. It never ceases to amaze me the things Lily White can come up with and the originality behind her stories is the main driving force of why her books are such a smashing success. Asylum in particular stood out to me as most, if not all, of the story would be taking place within a mental institution and with an alleged murderer as a heroine and an enigmatic doctor as the ‘hero,’ things were bound to get interesting. And while I was truly entertained by the psychotic events as well as the diverse cast of characters, I was also left somewhat underwhelmed.

Dubbed the ‘Black Widow,’ Alexandra Sutton is quarantined in a well-known mental institution for further evaluation after being considered as the prime suspect of a murder. A murder she doesn’t remember. In fact, certain key and traumatic events in her life she has absolutely no memory of. Sometimes she’s grounded in reality; sometimes she floats off in an illusion. The only thing she’s certain of is that she did not commit the murder she was accused of, but with no one who believes her, Alex is well and truly stuck in the asylum, surrounded by white jackets, white walls and quieted by the drugs running in her veins.Dr. Jeremy Hutchins is Alex’s newly assigned psychiatrist. Not much is known about him or his background but he seems to be dedicated in solving her case. Though it’s not instant, there is an underlying attraction between the two that’s only enhanced as the story goes on because of the taboo nature of their doctor/patient relationship. For once, Alex feels safe and like she can breathe whenever she’s close to Jeremy. And the opposite is true for Jeremy: he’s not repulsed by her mental instability or the crimes she may or may not have committed.

The premise of this story is an intriguing, original, and compelling one and overall I did like it. However, (and this is a personal preference of mine) when stories take liberties with any psychological issues, I usually cannot fully enjoy the book. I appreciate the author warning that liberties were taken with illness treatments and completely understand that a story is fictional and is for entertainment purposes only, but it’s just not something I can get accustomed to while reading and will always hinder my enjoyment of the book. Plus, there were so many mind games, crazy characters, and even crazier events going on I think I was just overwhelmed by it all instead of being blown away over any one revelation.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I have just been spoiled by all the usually amazing books Lily White puts out which is why I have such high expectations for each one. Regardless of my underwhelmed response to this book, it’s still a very well-written, well-researched, but batshit crazy story that you MUST be in the mood for.Asylum is a dark erotic standalone with mystery and thriller elements. It is not related to any other books from the author.

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BOOK REVIEW ~ BREAKING NOVA BY JESSICA SORENSEN

Nova Reed used to have dreams-of becoming a famous drummer, of marrying her true love. But all of that was taken away in an instant. Now she’s getting by as best she can, though sometimes that means doing things the old Nova would never do. Things that are slowly eating away at her spirit. Every day blends into the next . . . until she meets Quinton Carter. His intense, honey brown eyes instantly draw her in, and he looks just about as broken as she feels inside.

Quinton once got a second chance at life-but he doesn’t want it. The tattoos on his chest are a constant reminder of what he’s done, what he’s lost. He’s sworn to never allow happiness into his life . . . but then beautiful, sweet Nova makes him smile. He knows he’s too damaged to get close to her, yet she’s the only one who can make him feel alive again. Quinton will have to decide: does he deserve to start over? Or should he pay for his past forever?

4 stars!!“People say that time heals all wounds, and maybe they’re right. But what if the wounds don’t heal correctly, like when cuts leave behind nasty scars or when broken bones mend together but aren’t as smooth anymore?”

I’ve read several books from Jessica Sorensen and I have to say, Breaking Nova is the most depressing one out of all of them. Drugs, suicide, accidents, and more are all packed in this book and it took a toll on me. Nevertheless, I couldn’t look away from the book once I started, and I do admire the author for not being afraid to portray the ugly side of things – she really dug in and went for it. And as usual, her writing style is fantastic so I had no problem getting into the story.

Innately sad and a loner with OCD, Nova Reed has never emotionally recovered after her father’s death and when her boyfriend Landon commits suicide, she completely shuts down and spirals into a bottomless pit. Constantly asking herself ‘why?’ when thinking of Landon’s suicide, Nova barely lives. She’s perpetually melancholy. On one of the rare days she hangs out with her friend Delilah, she meets Quinton and she sees something in him that reflects her own sorrow.

At the same time Nova loses her boyfriend, Quinton Carter loses his girlfriend in a tragic car accident. Having carried around her death for over a year, Quinton is the complete opposite of who he once was; now, he relies on drugs and meaningless sex to get him through the days, thinking he doesn’t deserve any better. Meeting Nova knocks him off his feet, because for once, he feels like he has a reason to live.*******************************This book was not a light read. It pretty much crushed me to see the baggage both Nova and Quinton carried and their reluctance to get to know each other. But at the same time, I understood. Both have been burned badly by their past experiences and guilt and immense pain have ruled over their lives for so long they don’t know how to experience anything else. Timing wise, I found their budding romance to be very realistic and liberating for the both of them.

My only reason for not rating this book 5 stars is because I didn’t love it, which I expected when I started it. Usually books like these where many sensitive topics like drugs, death, suicide and more are touched upon, it becomes hard for me as the reader to fall for the characters and romance when all my mind is focused on are the depressing moments. For books to get all five of my stars, I HAVE to be emotionally invested in these characters on top of a well-delivered story. So in short, I liked this one very much. It held my attention from start to finish and I liked both of the characters: Quinton with his damaged bad boy vibe and Nova with her tough-as-nails attitude. If you’re thinking about reading this book and worrying that you’ll drown in the depressing parts, don’t be. I promise there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

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RELEASE DAY REVIEW ~ UNCIVILIZED BY SAWYER BENNETT

Putting a woman on her knees before me is what really makes my cock hard. I fuck with dominant force and absolute control. I demand complete surrender from my conquests.

Savage man, loner, warrior… I am dangerous at my core. I have lived amidst the untamed wild of the rainforest, in a society that reveres me and where every woman falls before me in subjugation.

Now I’ve been discovered. Forced to return to a world that I have forgotten about and to a culture that is only vaguely familiar to my senses.

Dr. Moira Reed is an anthropologist who has been hired to help me transition back into modern society. It’s her job to smooth away my rough edges… to teach me how to navigate properly through this new life of mine. She wants to tame me.

She’ll never win.

I am wild, free and raw, and the only thing I want from the beautiful Moira Reed is to fuck her into submission.

Yes, very soon, I will become the teacher and she will become my student. And when I am finished showing her body pleasure like no other, she’ll know what it feels like to be claimed by an uncivilized man.

3 stars!

You know the feeling when you’re reading a book and you’re seeing the words and they register in your mind but they’re not making an impact? Stir zero emotions? Make you feel like there’s an invisible wall between you and the book? Uncivilized was that kind of book for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s scorching hot and probably is erotica at its finest but from a storyline standpoint, it was pretty unrealistic. Knowing me, I have to have more than just hot sex in a story to love it and that didn’t happen here. Thus, my feelings for this book are best summed up with this cliché statement: liked it, but in no way did I love it.*********************18 years ago, the hero Zacharias (at that time age 7) went on a mission trip with his parents and disappeared in the Amazon rainforest.Flipping back to present day, anthropologist Moira Reed accepts the task of finding Zach, bringing him back to his godfather, and helping him adjust to modernity. Zach is naturally unwilling and furious that he has to leave his tribe and the only family he remembers.Now here’s where the story started to go downhill for me. For someone who’s lived in the Amazon for 18 years, barely remembering anything about his past, and hardly using English as his language, I found it strange that his English was flawless as portrayed in his POV. He also learns about technology in a snap and what do you know…the first thing he looks up is sex. With the way the author introduces the social dichotomy between Zach’s tribe and the modern world, I expected a certain degree of cultural shock on his part but got none and that in itself, is shocking. However, he does recognize that he’s an oddball in society and is torn between the people he cares about – Moira or Paraila (his adoptive father in the Amazon)? Civilization or Caraican tribe?

I think I would’ve enjoyed this book a lot more if I warmed up to Zach’s character but sadly I never did. I found him to be too simplistic and the one main thing that dominates his mind is sex. It just got to the point where I was tapping my foot wondering if there was anything else to the story aside from sex and sex education. I also wasn’t a fan of the rushed and sort-of ridiculous ending.I would recommend this book to smut fanatics and erotica lovers but for those who are like me and aren’t fans of purely erotic stories, you might bump into some of the problems I had with the book. This definitely wasn’t a bad book by any means, just not a story I could fully enjoy based on its content.ARC provided by Season Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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BOOK REVIEW ~ BLACK WIDOW BY LAURIE BRETON

A steamy Southern summer. A beautiful ex-con. A burned-out cop.

And a killer on the loose.

Wrongly convicted of her husband’s brutal murder, Kathryn McAllister has spent the last four years in a North Carolina prison for a crime she didn’t commit. When new evidence leads to the overturn of her conviction, Kathryn returns to the sleepy little town of Elba, North Carolina, determined to clear her name and find Michael McAllister’s killer.

Police chief Nick DiSalvo has come to Elba to bury himself someplace where he can forget his past and pretend he was born the day he drove into town. His plan is working until Kathryn McAllister walks through the door of his office, hell-bent on justice.

Drawn to each other by an irresistible heat, Nick and Kat are at cross-purposes. He wants her out of his hair; she wants to bag a killer. When the sizzling attraction between them explodes into full-blown passion, they discover that in this picturesque Southern town of many secrets, nothing is as it appears. As they draw nearer to discovering the identity of Michael McAllister’s killer, they unearth a secret so terrible that one individual would stop at nothing—including killing again—to keep them from uncovering it.

3.5 stars!

As a huge fan of this author’s Jackson Falls series, I was really curious to see how much I’d like her latest romantic suspense book. While I ended up enjoying it overall, I can’t help but be a little bit disappointed. I’ve come to know this author who takes the time and book space to give her stories depth, evoke emotion, and develop character relationships. Sadly, all three were missing in this book. Nevertheless, I did like the suspense aspect of the story; it’s just the romance part that completely fell flat for me.****************************The book starts off with a harrowing prologue that leads up to Michael McAllister’s murder and how his wife (the heroine) is accused of killing him. Fast forward 4 years and a hardened Kathryn McAllister walks free from prison after new evidence is presented that overturns her conviction. She heads back to town with one goal: nab Michael’s real killer and clear her name once and for all despite her lawyer encouraging her not to.

New police chief Nick DiSalvo is at a crossroads in both his personal and work life. Only a few days on the job and he runs into Kathryn who is intent on dragging out the old murder case for reinvestigation. It’s pretty much hate at first sight when they meet as Kathryn is cold and bitter from her years in prison while Nick recognizes her as the talked-about murderess. But after multiple break-ins and an attempt on her life, Kathryn starts to warm up to Nick as he seems to be one of the few people who genuinely wants to help her.****************************Let’s start with the positive – I adored the setting for this book. It’s contemporary but this small southern town still has the mores of people in the time of the Civil War where racial discrimination was blatant. I loved that this book explored this little blast from the past and it added a nice quality to the story. I also thought the suspense part was great. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming at all and I liked how the author tied in history with the final reveal.And now for the bad part – to be blunt, the romance sucked. A few rolls in the hay does not constitute as ‘romance’ in my book. Kathryn was such a tough, unbreakable, yet deeply hurt woman so it’s hard for me to accept that she’s spill all her secrets and details about her personal life to Nick, a guy she barely knows in such a short time frame. On the other side, Nick is divorced and has a teenage daughter and is practically married to his job. There was no relationship development whatsoever. I get that in romantic suspense books a lot of the romance is dropped to focus on the suspense but the ‘I-love-yous’ were too unbelievable in this book. An epilogue would’ve helped but sadly there wasn’t one. This book has one of the most rushed endings I’ve ever read.Despite my gripes with the romance part, this book was unputdownable. It was gripping and I finished it in 2 hours. If you’re okay with more suspense than romance and want a super fast-paced read, this book is a good choice.

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BOOK REVIEW ~ EVERY TIME I THINK OF YOU BY TRACEY GARVIS GRAVES

Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child. 

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe. 

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before. 

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost. 

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.

To say that I was highly anticipating this book would be an understatement. This author’s On the Island is one of my all-time favorites (re-read it multiple times) so I wanted to read this book as soon as I got my greedy hands on it. Did she disappoint? No. In the most realistic and relatable fashion, the author has delivered a heartwarming yet equally heartbreaking story about the magic of second chances, the strength of friendships, and the unity of family bonds. While I had some issues about a few things, I can definitely say that this is a book that will resonate with every reader on some level and helps put life into perspective. In one word, this book is real.****************************Single mother and nurse Daisy DiStefano juggles a full-time job and taking care of her three-year old son Elliott when she receives the news that her beloved grandmother Pauline was killed. Not knowing the reason why she was targeted and murdered, her death really becomes an eye-opener for Daisy as she navigates through the painful aftermath – from arranging the funeral to taking steps to protect Elliott to moving forward with their lives, never really getting closure.Around the same time, bright investigative reporter Brooks McClain returns to Daisy’s town to spend time with his terminally ill mother. His first case as a reporter in the town is to investigate Pauline’s death and starts to dig around, pitting him face to face with Daisy. At first, there is a firm witness-reporter boundary between them but as the investigation continues and the two of them really take the time to know each other, their relationship dynamic changes. For him, Daisy’s not a job anymore and for her, Brooks isn’t just a persistent reporter.

I think one aspect to consider before picking up this book is that it’s not just a romantic suspense story. While that book genre was the original premise, the story itself evolved into something different – instead of being suspenseful, the book was more romantic. More family and relationship-based. More women’s fiction. I didn’t like how bland the suspense was – it was pretty obvious who and why Pauline was killed. However, I did like how the author focused a lot of attention on family and friendships. That is perhaps the strongest part of this book and what really made the story resonate with me. The writing is also fantastic – this author has a way of making even the smallest things have an impact and so I felt like my heart was being squeezed while reading.As much as I liked this book, it just didn’t hit all my 5 star buttons. It’s really hard for me to read this book and not make comparisons to On the Island. I don’t think any other book of hers could ever surpass that one and while I cared about the two main characters in this book, I just wasn’t emotionally invested in them or their relationship like I was when I read about TJ & Anna. I think longtime fans will be pleased with this book and anyone in the mood for a slow-building romance that also has a side focus about family and friendships would enjoy this story.

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BOOK REVIEW ~ SUMMER OF SEVENTEEN BY JANE HARVEY-BERRICK

It was supposed to be the endless summer of sand, sea, and surf.

Supposed to be.

But Nick Andrews’ life is crashing out of control. His girlfriend and his best friend have declared war, his sister’s constant interference in his life is driving him insane, and there are money problems that won’t go away.

Being seventeen isn’t supposed to be this hard.

When cool surfer Marcus arrives in town, Nick sees that there are easier ways to live. But with his life falling to pieces around him, it’s hard to know who to trust.

As the scorching heat of summer grows, events begin to unravel, reaching a shattering conclusion—and a summer he’ll never forget.

This book…really impressed me. I don’t read much YA because often times, I find the characters shallow and story uninteresting, but this book was the complete opposite. Narrated by a strong male POV voice, Summer of Seventeen is refreshingly candid and every reader’s literary trip down memory lane. It’s a thought-provoking story with endearing main characters, an alluring setting, and the beautiful message that no matter what happens or how far one goes, hearts will always find their way home.****************************Seventeen is such a grand age: a year younger than full adult standards yet older and more mature than most adolescents. For Nick Andrews, being seventeen was supposed to be laidback and carefree. He was supposed to have the summer of a lifetime – hanging out with his girlfriend Anayansi Alfaro and his best friend Sean and enjoying his home life. Instead, he’s restricted from seeing Yansi and Sean, gets yelled at all the time by his older sister Julia, forced to find work and on top of that, his mother passes away from cancer. Life couldn’t get much worse for the seventeen year old kid. Through it all, his one constant and what grounds him is surfing. The beach and the ocean is his escape from reality and his passion.

Marcus is the new guy in town and ends up renting the extra room at Nick’s house. He’s a top-notch surfer and the person all guys want to be buddies with and all girls want to sleep with. His arrival ignites a restlessness in Nick and pitted against his sister’s role model guidance, Nick isn’t so sure who he is or what he wants in life.****************************To start with, I wasn’t really sure what the objective of this book was just from reading the blurb. I mean, was it romance, M/M, plain YA? I have to say, this book has a romance element but more than that, this is a life story. A story of how Nick, an unsettled young man who shoulders responsibilities most teenagers are lucky to not have, finds himself, finds closure, and finds a young but enduring love. Though a secondary element, the romance wasn’t overshadowed. I loved both Nick and Yansi’s characters and while both made some unwise choices that caused drama (they’re 17, they’re allowed to mess up), it never felt like contrived drama. Nick is outwardly prickly but has a heart of gold and despite her strict upbringing, Yansi was a staunch supporter of Nick’s through both the good and bad times. Together, they were a good match and complemented each other perfectly.

The only reason this book isn’t a 5 star winner for me is because of a certain event at the 36% mark. Instead of smoothing out this particular conflict quickly, I wished the author placed more focus on what happened to Nick. Instead, I felt like she glossed over what is a sensitive topic. This part really bothered me so no matter how much I enjoyed the book overall, I have to dock stars for this portion.Aside from that, this book was a YA gem. The writing was outstanding and I especially loved the setting of the story. I loved reading about Nick’s passion for surfing and those scenes were breathtaking. The emotional intensity slowly builds up and by the end of the book tears were falling down my face. This is one story that evoked a plethora of emotions. If you’re like me and don’t read much YA, don’t pass up this book because of that fact alone – this one’s really different.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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RELEASE DAY REVIEW ~ THE RULES REGARDING GRAY BY ELIZABETH FINN

Gracelynn is drowning in an existence that fails to fulfill her. A ballerina by trade, she’s devoted her life to the stage, sacrificing adventure for discipline. When her boyfriend gives her permission to want what she’s not supposed to want, can she walk away? Or will she leap?

Jasper isn’t a man with many boundaries, and “sharing” a woman with his best friend is hardly a new endeavor. But the moment he meets Gracelynn he realizes she’s different. She leaves him feeling alive in a way he’s not used to, and for the first time in his life, he understands what it means to be wanted… Cherished… And he needs more…

But there are rules—rules that forbid Jasper from truly having her. As forbidden desire spirals out of control, Jasper has to decide if he’s willing to fight for something that doesn’t truly belong to him. His best friend doesn’t deserve her, but is Jasper strong enough to believe he does?

For me, reading this book took some balls. Angst, love triangle, cheating…did I scare you yet? 

 As a reader who loathes all three, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I did enjoy the book. It has a very interesting book premise and for the most part the story was sensual, erotic, and at times, deeply emotional. But at the same time, this book also didn’t work for me. I think the combination of high angst, extremely damaged and flawed characters, and a meddlesome, needs-to-die-already ‘best friend’ all together messed with my emotions in a bad way. For every positive I can come up with, there’s a negative to counter so that leaves me with the middle-number rating.***************************Gracelynn Ellis ‘Gray’ is a ballerina and has been dating the seemingly perfect guy – Ian – for the past 4 months. Her past experiences have left her with an extremely insecure and timid side, and so Gray accepts much of Ian’s verbal abuse without defense. On one of her rehearsal days, Ian brings his best friend and bar owner Jasper Drees over to meet Gray in hopes of spicing up their sex life by sharing her, something these two rakes have done many times in the past. What started out as an outright refusal turns into a tentative agreement as Gray is interested in exploring her sexuality and breaking out of her shell.

Though Ian has set up rules that serve as boundaries to how intimate Gray and Jasper can be, the heart knows no boundaries and Gray and Jasper connect on a deep and emotional level neither of them have ever had before with anyone else. The story then portrays them fighting and giving into their attraction along with their inner turmoil, guilt, lust and about a dozen other emotions.***************************It’s pretty obvious that the book is a romance between Jasper and Gray so the whole ‘love triangle’ aspect isn’t too bad. I think the author did a good job with showing how crucial it was that these two characters had to be together, whether it be through the explosive sex scenes or emotional moments. Without that kind of desperation and deep feelings, it would’ve been hard to convince me of the strength of their bond. I still thought the author threw their attraction in the reader’s faces too soon, almost bordering on insta-love but at the same time I understood. With a shitty boyfriend like Ian, Jasper’s sensitivity and attentiveness is definitely more appealing. I have to admit, I wasn’t too keen about their relationship in the beginning but once I saw how much they were willing to go through for each other, they won me over. I rooted for them, even when I wanted to slap them senseless. As unstable, dysfunctional, and lost these characters were, they belonged together. They were better people by being together, and helped each other fill the void in their hearts. That much is undeniable.

This book could’ve gotten at least 4 stars from me if it weren’t for the fact I had to suspend disbelief in order to somewhat enjoy the story. The crux of the issue is why didn’t Gray just break up with Ian already so she and Jasper could be together?? Honest to God, there is not a single reason provided why she couldn’t just break up with him. Ian’s no saint – calling him rude, abrasive, and a douchenugget is being nice. But hey, if she did break up him early on in the book, then there wouldn’t be this ‘forbidden’ aspect, which means no push-pull dynamic and high angst. Moral of this little paragraph is to not question the logistics of their relationship because it would be futile. Oh and while I’m on the topic of their relationship, I thought it was a bad move on the author’s part to add in a little revenge scene near the end of the book. While I did like the sentiment behind the idea, the actual execution was very childish and completely trivialized Gray and Jasper’s entire emotional journey, making it like a game of ‘who got the girl in the end.’ Not cool.In the end, maybe I’m just not cut out for these kinds of stories. It’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this book at all because I did. I lived and craved for some of the one-on-one emotional scenes Jasper and Gray had where they actually worked out their problems and not let indecisiveness and insecurity take over. If you’re a fan of high and somewhat unnecessary angst, sizzling hot sex scenes with ménage, and a hard-earned, hard-fought, rewarding ending, this is the book for you.

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BOOK REVIEW ~ BECOMING CALDER BY MIA SHERIDAN

There is a place in modern day America with no electricity, no plumbing, and no modern conveniences. In this place, there is no room for dreams, no space for self-expression, and no tolerance for ambition.

In this place, there is a boy with the body of a God and the heart of a warrior. He is strong and faithful and serves his family honorably. But he dares to dream of more.

In this place, there is a girl with the face of an angel and a heart full of courage. To her family, she is the vision of obedient perfection. But she dares to want that which she has been told can never be hers. 

Becoming Calder is the story of good versus evil, fear versus bravery, and the truth that the light of love has always found its way into even the darkest of places… From the beginning of time, to the end of the world.


4.5 stars!

One quality I’m always on the lookout for in books is originality. And in a genre like NA contemporary where plots are rehashed and recycled, originality is harder and harder to find these days. But this one…this book oozed creativity and is truly a diamond of the first water. Add exquisite writing, charming main characters, and a captivating forbidden romance on top and it’s no wonder this book was a winner for me.*****************************The book begins with a heartbreaking prologue of a girl wandering through an unknown city with little possessions and nowhere to go. There are glimpses of her past in this chapter, leading the reader to wonder how she got to where she is today…and who and where the boy in her thoughts is at. With this little to go off of, the author dives into a flashback story.Like the blurb suggests, there is a place in present-day where people faithfully follow their chosen leader, worship their gods, and live with no modern conveniences. It is this kind of community where Calder lives, and where he meets Eden when they were both children. As the years pass, their connection grows more strong and intense. Every single moment they were together was precious and cherished but both knew that a relationship was forbidden because Eden was betrothed to another.

But no matter how much they tried to fortify their hearts and condition their minds into not falling in love with each other, it still happened. To want someone that can never be yours and only to be temporarily satisfied with stolen kisses and hidden moments seemed to magnify their love and intensify the insatiable craving for one another. But with both of them trapped in a suffocating community where the leader’s teachings were law, they could only dare to dream of a different life, one where they were free to express their feelings and build a life together.

*****************************This story was both tragic and hopeful. When I read romance books, I usually have a very keen sense of how things will end and what kind of ending is in store for the characters. But with this book, nothing is guaranteed or predictable. It’s the kind of story that has the emotional intensity to force you to realize every event, every action is unexpected and will make an impact. It will actually make you question whether or not love is enough to overcome obstacles and if these characters are strong enough to bear the consequences if it’s not.So why not a full 5 stars then? Well to be honest, I don’t have any real complaints. Really, I don’t. You know the feeling where everything in a book is going your way and you’re enjoying the story but it just doesn’t hit all your 5 star buttons? This book was like that. For some inexplicable reason, it lacked the final ‘oomph’ factor and since my 5 stars are reserved for books that completely blow my mind and wow me, I’m rating this one 4.5 stars.Becoming Calder is the first in a two book series. With this book ending in a very gripping and dramatic way, I can totally appreciate the fact that the author is releasing book 2 on the same day. Initially I had wished that this story could’ve been condensed into one, but it makes complete sense that there are two parts. In many ways, Becoming Calder is a reflection of Calder and Eden’s past and I presume that the follow up Finding Eden will be their story of fighting for their future.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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BOOK BLITZ ~ DANGER & DESIRE BOXED SET BY VARIOUS AUTHORS

Danger and Desire: Ten Steamy Romantic Suspense Novels
Hold on tight for ten tales of intrigue and passion from New York Times Bestselling and award-winning authors. Men in uniform, sexy spies and pulse-pounding action fill over 650,000 words of this limited edition boxed set.

1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?Ugh, yes, and it drives me crazy! I know some writers claim to never suffer from this evil affliction, but I certainly do and I hate every second of it. Usually I just need to back away for a while or maybe rethink the scene I’m working on. Oftentimes it’s because I don’t have a clear enough vision about what I’m writing or what I want to happen in the scene/chapter. I have to be able to visualize it first on my mental movie screen, then I can write it down. That’s just my process.2. How do you develop your plot and characters?I think of a really bare bones plot, and then wonder what sort of characters would be most interesting in that situation. I usually have some vague idea of how the story will at least start or finish, then I come up with the characters and first figure out their goals, motivations and conflicts. I like to have the bones all laid out before I go any further, and I also add physical characteristics, personality quirks, etc. 3. What is the hardest part about writing for you?Ugh, the drafting process! Some books are easier for me than others, but there have been a few that I literally fought through, each chapter, one by one. That’s always hard, when a book fights me like that. Lucky for me, I’m stubborn in a quiet way, so eventually I get through it. But sometimes when things are really not going well, I fantasize about stabbing my laptop screen. ha4. What do you like to do when you are not writing?I love to quilt, paint, garden, bake and make my house cozy and tidy. Kind of like a Martha Stewart wannabe, but less fancy. lol5. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?I’m working on my 25th. Of all time has to be Absolution, the final book of the Suspense Series. It features Luke Hutchinson, my absolute favorite of all my heroes. I have such a crush on him!6. How do you do research for your books?It depends, but I read lots of articles online, or watch documentaries or interviews. Youtube can be surprisingly informative, I’ve found. I also am fortunate to have a couple of really solid military and former Spec Ops contacts who I can bounce random questions off of. I’ve been really lucky with them! My Bagram Series is the most heavily researched. I hate flying but I’ve gone up in helicopters to get the feel of flying in one, I’ve interviewed flight instructors, pilots (including a Navy pilot who survived a crash and an Army medevac pilot), flight crews. I learned so much from those guys and I really appreciated their time and input. I just made sure I didn’t tell them I was doing research for a ROMANCE book until much later, and only if they asked. Every single time, they were amazed that I would want that level of detail for a love story. (That’s why I didn’t tell them up front!)7. What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you? Right now (I know, I can’t believe it! either) and my favorite I’ve had a few people comment, when they meet me in person, that I’m nothing like what they expected. My books are pretty hard-hitting and my characters are very strong, fiery people. I’m a total homebody and kind of shy, and I’m a girly girl, love lace and roses and all that good stuff. I rarely curse and I’m very introverted. Kind of the opposite of my kickass heroines and military heroes!8. Tell us about a favorite character from a book.Well, twist my arm! That would be Luke Hutchinson, of course, a character in my first series (Suspense Series), and the hero of the fifth and final book, Absolution. I love this guy more than any of my other heroes. For real. There’s just something about the way he’s suffered over the years, living a life of self-imposed isolation, and I LOVED giving him his second shot at a happily-ever-after. That book poured out of me and it’s still my favorite one to date. I don’t think any other book I’ll ever write will ever come close in my heart.9. Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?I do! I’m a bit of an old soul, so I love listening to old jazz like Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and the like. I find it very cozy and soothing to curl up with my laptop with them crooning in the background, especially in the fall and winter while I have the fireplace on. I do also listen to playlists or certain tracks that pertain to the book I’m currently working on. Sometimes I’ll hear a song on the radio that makes me think of a certain character/scene, and I download it into a folder for that particular book.10. What was the scariest moment of your life?When I was six months pregnant with my second son and started hemorrhaging on Christmas Day. That was not fun. But, the nearly three months of bedrest that followed were responsible for launching my writing career, so that was a good thing, and thankfully my son was born healthy at full term. Still, very scary when I saw all that blood. I remember trying to stay very still and calm, so I wouldn’t bleed faster. 11. What are your favorite TV shows?I love Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, but mostly I watch documentaries and things like that. Because I’m a nerd and love to learn, especially if it has to do with history, the military, or the ocean.

He leaned even closer, placed his hands on the counter on either side of her to cage her in, all the while holding her gaze. “No,” he said again, softer this time.A spurt of panic flickered in her eyes. She tried to duck out from under his arm but he blocked her easily, pinning her hips with his own. Her head snapped up, those wide gray eyes filled with shock as she felt his erection pressing into her belly. She jerked her eyes away, swallowed again. “Let me go. Right now, Gage, I mean it.”She was strung so tight she was on the verge of shattering. A volcano about to erupt. And God, he’d love nothing more than to incinerate in the ensuing explosion with her. He wasn’t worried about her hurting him. Whatever she could dish out, he could take it and more. “No.”His calm tone acted like a trigger. With an inarticulate sound of rage, she twisted and shoved at his shoulders. Gage caught her wrists and quickly shifted her away from the counter, backed her up against the kitchen wall and pinned her there with his weight. He had only a moment for his brain to register the feel of her soft curves molded to him before she began struggling, trying to shove him away. Not happening.He held her there, refusing to back down. Her teeth were bared, eyes narrowed, breath coming in short gasps. Low, animal sounds came from her throat as she fought and got nowhere. He could tell it infuriated her more that he’d subdued her so easily, overpowered her with his greater strength. Recognizing she couldn’t win, after a minute or two she stilled, quivering with fury, every line of her luscious body rigid with anger and outrage. With him so close she was forced to tilt her head back to look into his face. The warm puffs of her uneven breaths bathed his skin.“Fuck you, let me go,” she snapped, her voice ragged, tight with emotion. Hands holding her wrists on either side of her head, he waited for her to calm down and meet his gaze. At last she did and he could see the turmoil written there. All the anger and pain, the physical need she was trying to hide from him. Her sweet citrus scent, intensified by her increased body heat, swirled around him. He could get drunk on her so easily. Just lean down and put his mouth to the rapidly thrumming pulse in her neck, taste that soft, fragrant skin.Holding her gaze, he let one heartbeat of charged silence spread between them. Another. Letting her know without words that he was fully capable of keeping her like this for as long as he wanted.His body was primed, begging him to grab her, tear that tight black skirt and top off her and force her to vent everything that was eating at her from the inside, replace it with white­hot sexual release.The throb between his legs bordered on painful. He shifted his hips against her and bit back a moan at the feel of her against his erection, noting the way her pupils expanded and her nostrils flared. The evidence of her arousal kicked his lust into high gear. Gage forced himself to take a single, calming breath, waited until the roar in his ears subsided. If this was the last time he got tohave her, he was going to make it one hell of a goodbye.Staring straight into her eyes, he released her wrists and murmured, “Turn it loose.”

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BOOK REVIEW ~ WITH THE FATHER BY JENNI MOEN

I had a choice, and I chose wrong.

I thought I lost everything. But when the smoke finally cleared, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. 

Father Sullivan was a force – a living and breathing force, a forbidden desire I couldn’t resist. I didn’t want to resist. But I wasn’t the only one who wanted him, and by all accounts neither of us should have him.

I had decisions to make, secrets to uncover. Both would tear my heart, my life, and what was left of my family apart.

I wasn’t going to take any chances this time around. If I’d learned one thing during my life, it’s that death is the only certainty. It’s a matter of when, not if. 

For every action, there is a reaction. For every choice, a consequence. If I hadn’t chosen to live again, I would have never known what life could be like… With the Father

5 stars!!

If there was ever a time I’m glad I didn’t DNF a book, it would be right now. I was 3 star cruising through a great part of the book and then the most crazy and wicked twist happened and now I see the entire story in a different light. One look at the cover, teasers, and blurb and my mind settled on a forbidden romance that had something to do with a priest and two sisters. In a way I was right, but in many other ways I was wrong. This book initially started out as a forbidden story, but evolved into something much grander than its original premise. I wasn’t looking for it, didn’t see it coming, and I’m not going to pinpoint exactly where in the plot that revelation came for me, but I will say that all the clues are there in the book, namely the dedication –For anyone who’s ever second guessed a decision and wondered what if…This book is all about the what if. About characters knowing their reality but still daring to wonder what would happen if their what if became true. Reading this book was literally like being in a dream, and like all dreams, we have to wake up at some point. That waking point was when my epiphany kicked in to what this book was really about. I think every reader needs to experience that euphoria, mindfuck, WTF moment, whatever you want to call it. So as much of a spoiler whore I am, I’m not about to ruin that experience for you.I purposely didn’t mention the characters because it’s really not for me to say whose story this is really about, and I am SO very thankful the author didn’t name specifics in the blurb either. As readers, we are all going to have a different take on our reads and it will never be truer with this book, a story where multiple theories are plausible. Multiple what ifs.Initially I intended to rate this book 4-4.5 stars because I spent most of the time wondering why I felt a puzzle piece was missing up until the big twist. However, I finished this super late last night and did nothing productive the next day. It was like I was disconnected from real life, constantly mulling over this story in my head. Very rarely do books (good or bad) make that kind of impact on me so to have my thoughts be consumed by this story long after the last page is flipped means a great deal to me. Even though I had minor issues here and there, the overall significance of this story made me bump up my rating.Because of how ambitious and intricate this storyline is, I can only review the book in this vague way, sorry! It’s pure torture because my fingers are itching to spoil everything but my brain is saying to let everyone experience it on their own. Literally every word has a double meaning, and I think it’s the most wonderful feeling to be armed with the knowledge of what the book premise is truly about and then go back and find out where the author dropped hints in the story. I already know this is a book that will evoke different opinions from readers but I can guarantee that whether or not you end up enjoying the book, you’ll be thinking about it for days to come.

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RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ UNSTOPPABLE BY MELODY GRACE

“My daddy always told me, you could never run out of second chances…”Tegan Callahan has sworn off bad boys for good. Growing up on tour with her rock star brother, she knows first-hand the damage they can do. She’s looking for a nice, safe, stable guy – until a chance encounter with a devastatingly sexy stranger makes her question everything she thought she wanted.A troubled soul…Ryland James arrives in Beachwood Bay on the run from his mistakes. He knows he’s the last thing Tegan needs, but somehow, he can’t stay away. There’s something about her fierce beauty that draws him in – and makes him vow to protect her, whatever the cost.A passionate destiny…Their bond is undeniable; the stakes, higher than ever. But the past won’t stay gone forever, and soon, Ryland must make the ultimate choice: will he risk everything he treasures in the world, or keep Tegan safe – and sacrifice her love forever?


Melody Grace is the New York Times bestselling author of the Beachwood Bay series. A small-town girl turned SoCal beach lover, after spending her life with her nose in a book, she decided it was time she wrote one herself. She loves steamy romance novels, happily-ever-afters, and lusting after fictional menfolk. She is author of USA Today & international bestselling Beachwood Bay series.


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RELEASE DAY REVIEW ~ IN HER WAKE BY K.A. TUCKER

Before you knew him as Trent in Ten Tiny Breaths, he was Cole Reynolds—and he had it all. Until one night when he makes a fatal, wrong decision…and loses everything.

When a drunken night out at a Michigan State college party results in the death of six people, Cole must come to terms with his part in the tragedy. Normally, he’d be able to lean on his best friends—the ones who have been in his life since he could barely walk. Only, they’re gone. Worse, there’s the shattered body of a sixteen-year-old girl lying somewhere in a hospital bed, her entire life ripped from her because of a case of beer and a set of keys.

Everyone assures him that they know it wasn’t intentional, and yet he can’t ignore the weight of their gazes, the whispers behind his back. Nor can he shake the all-consuming guilt he feels every time he thinks of that girl who won’t so much as allow him near her hospital room to apologize. As the months go by and the shame and loneliness festers, Cole begins to lose his grip on what once was important—college, his girlfriend, his future. His life. It’s not until Cole hits rock-bottom that he can begin to see another way out of his personal hell: forgiveness.

In Her Wake is a book that has left me feeling deeply conflicted and though I’ve finally decided on a 4 star rating, I’m not so sure it’s an entirely accurate representation of my feelings for the book. But before I jump into the review, I do want to clarify a few things:
– This is a novella that focuses on the Trent before the events of Ten Tiny Breaths so even though this book chronologically comes first, I highly recommend reading TTB before this one.– If you are looking for a Trent and Kacey fix, I’m sorry to say you won’t be finding it here. You do not read about their relationship development, though you do see several scenes with Kacey in them. The novella is told entirely from his POV.

Out of all the books I’ve read from K.A. Tucker, Ten Tiny Breaths is my favorite. The devastating emotional impact, the imperfectly perfect characters, the heartfelt second chance romance are only some of the many reasons why I adore that book. I was secretly hoping there’d be a novella about Trent before he’s with Kacey but you know what they say right? Be careful what you wish for. Now that I’ve read about his past, frustration and sympathy have been warring in my head. I love that the author portrays his character with such harsh honesty, never flinching or trivializing his experiences and thoughts. But at the same time, this positive is also the downfall of the book for me.


I really struggled to read about the old Trent. Grief and unresolved guilt can lead a person to extremes, causing them to act irrationally and that was precisely the case with Cole. No matter what the ordeal is, I will NEVER condone self-destructive behavior. I feel like Cole took the blame for his friends’ deaths and Kacey’s accident and didn’t even bother to try to pick up the pieces. It’s harsh but from the way I saw it, that’s what happened. He brushes aside his loyal and attentive girlfriend, his supporting parents, his old friends, basically everyone and the one person he focuses ALL his attention on is Kacey. When she doesn’t even know who he is.

He follows her, just to make sure she’s safe.
He tracks her online, just to learn more about her.
He breaks into her email, just to find out her whereabouts. 

If this was in Ten Tiny Breaths, I’d have no problem with the amount of attention he lavishes on her. But it’s not. I expected reading about his healing process, not his stalkerish behavior.

So why the 4 stars? As much as I disliked his actions in the book, I feel like I’m not in the position to judge if his behavior is right or not. I’ve never been in his shoes and didn’t experience the kind of grief he has so in a way, I’ll never fully relate and understand why he does what he does. The only thing I can judge is how well the author takes all that jagged pain and portrays his character in the story. As depressed, frustrated and melancholy I got, I have to say the author did a damn fine job.