Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY ~ YOU MAKE ME BY ERIN MCCARTHY

Growing up on the coast of Maine with a revolving door of foster siblings, Caitlyn Michaud spent one intense and passionate year falling in love with her foster brother, Heath. Then he left without a word. The betrayal devastated Caitlyn and made her vow to forget the compelling bad boy. But forgetting his sensual touch and their deep all-consuming friendship is easier said than done.

Isn’t the guy she needs…

Determined to move on, in college Caitlyn has risen above her small town impoverished roots and has joined a sorority, reinvented her appearance, and landed the right boyfriend. Pre-law major and frat president, Ethan, is thoughtful and always laughing, and he makes her feel happy, calm. He also gives her the social acceptance she craves. 

But the perfect world she tried so hard to attain is ripped apart when Heath appears one night out of nowhere. Caitlyn remembers all the reasons why she loves him, even if they don’t make sense to anyone but her. Out of the military, Heath is as brooding and intense as ever, and he is determined not only to win her back, but to exact revenge on everyone who kept him from her…

And when one love allows her to breathe, but the other feels as essential to her life as air, how does she choose between them?

I blinked, sure I was wrong.  But I wasn’t.  It was him, with shorter hair and broader shoulders. 
“Heath!” I yelled out, overcome with shock and joy that he was there.  Alive.  Not dead in a ditch or in prison.  “Oh, my God!” 
Stepping away from Ethan, I squeezed his forearms to indicate it was okay.  Then without thought for the fact that everyone was still staring at me or that I had just gotten engaged sixty seconds earlier, I ran in my high heels the ten feet to Heath hovering in the shadows and threw myself at him. 
“Hey, Cat,” he murmured, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me tight against his chest.  His lips buried into my hair.
I sank against him, breathing in deeply.  He smelled the same, earthy and masculine.  He felt different, bigger, more muscular, but his hands were just as I remembered, strong and tender, and his voice was low, casual.  A thousand memories assaulted me all at once, running along the coast, going out on the water in a stolen boat, laughing, talking.  Kissing. 
“Oh, God,” I whispered, pulling back to study his face, to cup his cheeks and outline his bottom lip with my thumb.  I couldn’t believe it was real.  He was real.  “You’re alive.  You’re here.”
The corner of his mouth turned up.  “I am.”
“Caitlyn, who is this?” Ethan had come up behind me and his hand landed on the small of my back.
I suddenly realized how close I was to Heath and I jerked back, cheeks flushing with heat.  My hands shook and my voice sounded high­pitched and breathless.  “Ethan!  This is Heath, my…
There was no way I could explain who Heath really was to me. How much he had meant.  How I thought I wouldn’t survive when he left.  What it meant to have him punch a hole in my perfect world now and walk back into it.
“My brother,” I finished.
As Ethan’s eye’s bulged, Heath gave a soft snort of derision beside me.
“You have a brother?” Ethan asked, sounding completely astonished, as he should.  “I didn’t know you have a brother.” I did.  A biological one that I no longer spoke to and who I didn’t acknowledge, but Ethan didn’t know that, and I never wanted him to. 
“Is that what I am?” Heath asked, sounding both amused and annoyed.  “A brother from another mother, Cat?”
“He’s my foster brother,” I added.  “My family always took in foster kids and some stayed longer than others.  Heath stayed long enough that we got close.”  In a manner of speaking. 
“I didn’t know that.  You never mentioned foster siblings.” Shit.  Ethan was looking at me like he didn’t know me.  But he did. 
He knew the me I wanted to be, the me I could be.  I didn’t want to drag him through my past.  But here was Heath.  My past.  And who I had once considered my present and my future. 
Speaking of…
“Where the hell have you been?” I asked Heath, my initial excitement turning to frustration as I realized that he had just appeared out of nowhere and hadn’t even bothered to speak to me first.  Let alone any sort of text or other contact. 
He shrugged.  “Around.”
Seriously?  I went straight into pissed off.  Four fucking years.  Four years and not a word.  “That’s not an answer.  I thought you were dead!” 
“Not dead.  Though I wasn’t aware you would care either way.” Was he crazy?  Confusion made my breath shallow, my palms sweat.  I had suffered when he left.  I had cried until I threw up.  I had taken off after him, only to walk two miles and realize I had no idea when he’d left or where he was going.  I had stalked him online, never finding anything.  I had stopped eating.  Stopped showering. 
And he was going to stand there and act like I hadn’t cared? 
“How could you say that?”  My voice shook. 
But his eyes just studied me, dark and angry.  “Maybe this isn’t the time or the place to discuss it.”  He took my hand into his.
My frustration faded at his touch.  A deep, intense longing rose up in me.  God, I had missed him.  But he merely turned my hand so that my new engagement ring was visible. 
“Congratulations, Cat.”  A mocking smile crossed his face.  His jaw was tense.  He took my hand and gave it to Ethan, who laced his fingers through mine.
“I’m Heath, Cat’s foster brother, like she said,” he told Ethan, and I could hear the edgy irony in his voice.  “It’s nice to meet you.” 
“Ethan Walsh.  Nice to meet you, too.  It sounds like you and Caitlyn have a lot of catching up to do.  Maybe tomorrow we can all grab some coffee.”
“Sure.  Sounds delightful.” 
That was attitude.  Plain and simple.  My eyes narrowed at Heath and I shook my head slightly in warning.  What the hell was he doing?  Why was he even there?
“I didn’t mean to interrupt a big moment,” he added.  “I’m heading downstairs.”
A million questions were racing through my head, but there was no way to ask them.  Not where we were.  Not with who I was with listening. 
Ethan stuck his hand out, because Ethan had good manners.  For a second Heath just stared at it, but then he took it and shook briefly. 
I’d never seen him in a suit before.  He looked… dangerous.  Very James Bond.  He was even better looking than I remembered and I had spent a lot of time coaxing his image out of my memory banks.  Especially alone in my bed late at night when I was lonely and my body ached. 
“See ya,” he told me casually, before turning and leaving.

There are certain words in blurbs that set off alarms for me, and by alarms I mean the kind that make me stalk the author/publisher/PA etc…to get more info on. In the blurb for You Make Me, the words “foster brother” did it for me. I was extremely interested in seeing how this would play out and I’m really happy to say that I think this is Erin McCarthy’s best work to date: she’s written a stormy, passionate but believable second chance romance with a healthy dose of angst and relatable, level-headed characters.

The book starts off with a short but fantastic prologue! Then fast forward four years where Cat is now a well-known, all-around golden girl in college with an equally amazing and popular guy Ethan as her boyfriend. On the night of her junior year Homecoming dance where everything planned goes along accordingly, out of the blue, Heath appears and stuns Cat. Having left her when she was sixteen and never contacting her in the past four years, Cat is shocked, relieved, and angry to see him so naturally I could understand her conflicted feelings: on one hand she’s desperate to reach out to him and on the other, she’s with Ethan, a guy she knows is good for her.
“How could I explain that Heath was the past and Ethan was the future? That one I had chosen and one had chosen me? That Ethan represented everything I had always craved, but Heath was everything I needed?”
And as cliché as it sounds, there will always be a certain allure for “the one that got away,” which is why I totally sympathize, understand, and connect with Cat’s character.

Though this portion of the book was angsty and somewhat frustrating, it was realistic and completely character-driven. I loved how the author made smooth transitions from where Cat was at the beginning to how she thought and perceived everything to the end. Usually when there’s a love triangle (or any hint of one), there’s supposed to be a “decision” where one is chosen and the other is dropped, and I hate that. To me, it always feels like the chosen is second best. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel any of that in this book; all encounters are done quite tastefully and I was totally invested in the story.
I think the strongest and most compelling aspect of the book was the author’s writing. I’ve read her other work (True Believers series) and I’ll be honest, this book is different: both the writing and the approach I mean but it’s a good-different and the writing here simply appeals to me. It’s mostly in present time, but there are a few flashback scenes sprinkled throughout the story. Again, not something I usually like, but in this book it was executed quite nicely and the scenes were informative as well. And most of all, I liked how the author took a common NA premise and turned it into a somewhat unique and different read than others: a love triangle that’s seemingly not a love triangle, characters that are impossible to hate because there is no “bad guy,” and a fluent, transitional writing style.
As much as I loved the book, there were a few things that got on my nerves. One being I wanted more of Heath and Cat’s history. A couple of flashback scenes are not enough for me, and though I wholeheartedly approved of their relationship, it would’ve been better if there were more background info on them so I could be better convinced of their early bond and love. The last 25% was a bit weak on both the emotional and plot aspects. I get that with every new relationship, especially one built on a foundation of deception and heartbreak, comes with many insecurities so I was glad to see the characters address them. However, there is this one argument near the end of the book I just did not get the point of. Like, it could’ve been completely omitted and there wouldn’t have been a difference (for me at least). A little toomuch drama there and the ending was rushed, but overall, what was on my mind long after reading was that this book is one of the better NA stories I’ve read this year and though I probably won’t re-read it anytime soon, I won’t be forgetting about it anytime either.

ARC kindly provided by author in exchange for an honest review. Please note that all quotes are from an advanced copy and may be subject to change in the final edition.
**This next section contains minor spoilers and is for those that want to know if there isany cheating, a love triangle, or if there is an HEA. Please only read this section if you’re interested in those; otherwise my review ends above.**
To answer some questions that were asked: Is there a love triangle? Is there cheating? Is there an HEA? Even before I cracked open the book, I wondered if there was a triangle but my curiosity with the “foster brother” part and Heath being ex-military won me over.
Love triangle: I think most will say yes, there is a love triangle. For me, however, it wasn’t. It’s true that both Heath and Ethan love Cat, but it was always clear to me who Cat was going to end up with. This was probably the most angsty part of the book, and it’s not extremely frustrating. The characters do not bounce back and forth amongst one another. 
Cheating: I didn’t think there was any kind of cheating (physical or emotional). There are no gray areas when it comes to defining Cat’s relationship with the two guys. She’s either with one of them, or she’s not.
HEA: Yes. There’s a happy ending for Cat and Heath.

USA Today and New York Times Bestselling author Erin McCarthy sold her first book in 2002 and has since written almost fifty novels and novellas in teen fiction, new adult, and adult romance. Erin has a special weakness for New Orleans, tattoos, high-heeled boots, beaches and martinis. She lives in Ohio with her family, two grumpy cats and a socially awkward dog.

Posted in Book Reviews

BLOG TOUR ~ THE LAST GOOD KNIGHT SERIES BY TIFFANY REISZ

Tiffany Reisz is my #1 favorite author of all time – I am literally in awe of this author and her writing abilities. The Last Good Knight is an Original Sinners series novella and will be released in 5 parts over 5 days. The events in this serial occur three years before The Siren, book 1 in The Original Sinners series.
If you are new to Tiffany Reisz’s books, I would recommend The Last Good Knight serial after reading The Original Sinners series as there will be certain plot spoilers. Here’s my recommended reading order:

The Last Good Knight Series Review
The events in this serial take place three years before The Siren (book 1 in TOS series) but to better understand the characters and certain events that unfold, I HIGHLY recommend reading this serial after The Original Sinners – Red Years (see reading order above).
There are 5 parts that will be released over the course of 5 days starting May 6. In the beginning I was scratching my head wondering why it couldn’t be released as one whole novella but after reading I think I understand. Each part is just so different, and while telling one continuous story, every part represents a different stage of the plot and character development. As a whole, this serial rates 5 stars – Tiffany Reisz has once again dazzled me with her writing abilities, her depth and knowledge of BDSM and erotica, and the amazingly smart, sexy, and witty characters and story. It’s simple – whatever she writes, I will read.
Individual Book Reviews

Part I:Scars and StripesIt’s lust at first sight when Mistress Nora encounters a sexy newcomer to The 8th Circle. She’s happy for the distraction, since she left her lover, Søren, but her session with Lance is cut short when her boss, Kingsley Edge, reveals they’re all in danger….

Tiffany Reisz is my all-time favorite author and I just can’t go wrong with her. Her stories are always so high-quality, witty, thought-provoking, and absolutely out-of-the-box! I’ve been yearning for a Sinners fix ever since I finished “The Original Sinners – Red Years” series last winter and this novella was perfect.


Scars and Stripes takes place three years before The Siren. Nora has left Soren and while working in the 8th Circle, comes across a sexy Navy SEAL Lance. As always, Tiffany Reisz never disappoints with her smart, edgy, & erotic scenes and though short, I loved the witty banter and time Nora and Lance spent together here.


The novella ends with Kingsley revealing they’re all in danger. Under normal circumstances I’d definitely view this kind of ending as a cliffhanger; however Tiffany Reisz really knows how to soften the blow of such a suspenseful & abrupt ending and now all I’m ready to do is dive into the next installment…
ARC provided by Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Part II:Sore SpotsWith a potential stalker on the loose, Kingsley hires Lance as Nora’s bodyguard, but stipulates no sex while he’s on duty. Frustrated by the ex-SEAL’s noble chivalry, Nora is driven to seek release with the one man she’s trying to forget….

A wonderful second installment following the first Scars and Stripes! This novella continues where the first left off – one of their own has been attacked and Kingsley orders a halt to everything. Worried about Nora’s safety, he assigns a bodyguard to her, who ends up being Lance, the quintessential Prince Charming from the first novella. Kingsley has his stipulations though, and it means no sex.
This novella was a little different from the first but just as enjoyable. For one, some secrets are revealed and so I got to delve into the character’s deeper emotions and psyche – as a reader who craves emotional connection with characters I absolutely loved this part! The novella ends on a very high note:
“If she couldn’t have Lance, she’d have the one and only man who she wanted more than him tonight.”
And, of course, Sinners we all know who that is 

Part III:The Games Destiny PlaysShocked to see Nora’s bruises, Lance is furious that she put herself in danger and demands to know where she got them. As Nora confesses her true nature, she’s equally shocked to learn that Lance has some secrets of his own, drawing them together despite Kingsley’s orders….

This third part was even better than the first two! Tiffany Reisz has kicked up the kink and we get a scene with Soren & Nora together – these two just never cease to amaze me. I said this before and I’ll say it again – this author has ruined me for everything else erotica related: out of all the authors I’ve read there’s no other that quite captures the essence of BDSM like Tiffany does.
Once again, the novella ends abruptly with Kingsley revealing some bad news regarding the attacker – thank goodness I have part 4!
ARC provided by Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Part IV:Fit to Be TiedWith her feelings for Lance warring with her recent encounter with Søren, Nora returns to Lance’s bed and finds herself toying with the idea of…toying with him on a permanent basis. But after she gets a glimpse into his personal angst, Nora realizes she has the power to rescue this white knight….

The assailant has now been detained so there is no need for Lance to be Nora’s bodyguard anymore. They resume their D/s relationship and waste no time getting the kink on 

I liked that we got to see more of Nora’s feelings & emotions as opposed to her usual blunt, confident self. This was probably my least favorite out of the series yet still so, so good! Maybe it’s because this fourth part made me realize I only have one more until this series is finished.
ARC provided by Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Part V:The Last Good Night
Now that the perpetrator has been apprehended, Nora sadly acknowledges she doesn’t need a bodyguard anymore. She adores Lance and wants to keep him but is faced with a dilemma—if she uses her connections to help Lance, she’ll have to give him up forever…

This was by far the best out of all the installments and a perfect ending that linked back to the beginning of part 1. This quote from Lance says it all:
“I have dreamed for two years about getting my daughter back. I have dreamed for sixteen years about finding the perfect woman for me. I find the perfect woman for me and find out how to get my daughter back, but…to get my daughter back, I have to give up the perfect woman.”
Nora’s always been my favorite heroine, but in this part her character truly shines – I got misty-eyed here. Though short, this series was just what I needed while patiently waiting for The Saint to be released.
ARC provided by Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tiffany Reisz lives with her boyfriend (a reformed book reviewer) and two cats (one good, one evil). She graduated with a B.A. in English from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and is making both her parents and her professors proud by writing BDSM erotica under her real name. She has five piercings, one tattoo, and has been arrested twice. When not under arrest, Tiffany enjoys Latin Dance, Latin Men, and Latin Verbs. She dropped out of a conservative southern seminary in order to pursue her dream of becoming a smut peddler. Johnny Depp’s aunt was her fourth grade teacher. Her first full-length novel THE SIREN was inspired by a desire to tie up actor Jason Isaacs (on paper). She hopes someday life will imitate art (in bed). If she couldn’t write, she would die.


Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY ~ THE TEMPTATION OF LILA AND ETHAN BY JESSICA SORENSEN

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Ella and Micha series comes a gripping story of passion, pain, and the courage to love . . .
THE TEMPTATION OF LILA AND ETHAN

On the surface, Lila Summers is flawless: good looks, expensive clothes, and a big, beautiful smile. But a dark past and even darker secrets are threatening to bubble over her perfect façade. She’ll do anything to keep the emptiness inside hidden-which leads her into situations that always end badly. Whenever she hits bottom, there’s only one person who’s there to pull her out: Ethan Gregory.

Ethan set the rules a long time ago: he and Lila are just friends. He doesn’t do relationships. Although his tattooed, bad boy exterior is a far cry from Lila’s pretty princess image, Ethan can’t deny they have a deeper connection than he’s used to. If he’s not careful, he could be in serious danger of becoming attached-and he’s learned the hard way that attachment only leads to heartbreak.

When Lila falls farther than she ever has before, can Ethan continue to help as a friend? Or is he also getting close to falling . . . for her?

 “Why do you think it’s so hard to be alone?” Lila asks, struggling to keep her eyes open as she gazes out at the night sky through the cab window.   I’m turned sideways in the seat, with my knee up, so I’m facing her, even though she won’t look at me. I lost count of how many shots we had hours ago and I can barely comprehend how we got to a cab—stumbling, laughing, as she rubbed her hand up the front of my jeans. No, that can’t be right, can it?   “I think being alone is fan-fucking-tastic. . . well, maybe . . .sometimes . . .” I mumble, draping my arm on the back of the seat. I stare at her for a moment, taking in her bare skin in the moonlight. I want to touch it. Lick it. Even bite it.   I’m bursting with sexual energy and I channel it to my foot on the floor, bouncing my knee.    There’s something different about tonight, something out of the ordinary, this strange need to keep getting closer to Lila. It could be the alcohol. Or it could be something else, but there’s no way my tequila-soaked mind is going to reach any sort of answer.   Lila turns her head toward me, her pupils wide and shiny. “Why are you staring at me like that?”   I keep tapping my foot on the floor, trying to think of a better answer than the first one that pops into my head, but I can’t find one. “Because I’m thinking about you.”   She glances at the cab driver, a thirtyish guy wearing a baseball cap, and then her gaze lands back on me.     She sucks her lip into her teeth and I have to bounce my knee faster or I swear I’m going to fucking lose it.    “Thinking what about me?” she asks, looking wary, interested, and exhausted.   Don’t say it . . . “I was thinking about what it would be like to lick you . . . or bite you . . . either one really.” It seems like I should regret it as soon as I say it, but regret is nowhere in my reach at the moment.Her breathing quickens and her voice comes out shockingly unsteady for someone who has sex so much.         “Then do it.”   I blink, wondering if I heard her right through the massive amount of alcohol consuming my thoughts.             “What?”   She holds my gaze steadily, even though she seems really nervous, her voice trembling. “Then bite me. Or lick me…whatever you want.”

This is one of the most heartwrenching, passionate, and poignant stories I’ve read in long time. Literally every page on my iPad is highlighted with rainbow colors because, well, there were so many epic quotes to take note of!! This book has also restored some of my faith in New Adult. Prior to reading it, I was about to give up on NA for a while, as some of my recent reads were very disappointing. Not this one!! I’m kicking myself for not reading this sooner when I got it from NetGalley!!! I’m just going to venture out and say here that The Temptation of Lila and Ethan is by far Ms. Sorensen’s best work, even ahead of Callie and Kayden’s books, which have been my favorites.

– I don’t think I’ve ever been this pumped for a couple to get together. Lila and Ethan are so, so different from each other, and I was afraid that even sexual attraction wouldn’t be enough to keep them together.– I was constantly questioning the different paths this book could’ve taken: the story kept me on my toes. At one point, I actually worried if they got an HEA or not.– The book blurb doesn’t do the book justice; it’s SO much more! I went in thinking that they both had minor problems to deal with and – smack – I did not see what was coming. The prologue floored me, and the content only got darker from there (which I LOVE).So what’s this book about, hmm? I’ll let Lila and Ethan tell you their lives in ONE word.

Though she’s rich, Lila has lived under the oppressive rules of her father and suffered greatly from her experiences with her uncaring, zombie-like mother. Her parents demand perfection from her at all times, and she’s constantly put down by her father. She longs for freedom, for passion, for love from her family, knowing that she’ll never get it.“I don’t want to have to sit at a dinner table that is big enough to seat twenty when there are only three of us. I don’t want to be forced to eat food that looks like it still needs to be cooked. I don’t want to endure one more dinner where I’m told every single thing I’ve done wrong. I want them to just let me be myself and maybe, perhaps tell me that they love me.”

“I don’t want to feel like I’m always screwing up. I want to feel loved. I really do.”Unfortunately for her, a single mistake made when she was 14 changes her outlook on life, and she now numbs herself with meaningless sex and overdoses on drugs and prescription pills. She’s on a downward spiral towards self-destruction and no one is there to help her.Until Ethan.Ethan’s word: IndependenceEthan has had a rough childhood. He watched his father physically and verbally abuse his mother, and vowed to never become the monster his father was. On top of that, a decision he made regarding a certain girl led to a tragedy that plagues his thoughts ‘till this day, and he covers his pain with his bad boy exterior and string of one-night stands. He likes being alone and covets his independence, never once giving into commitment.“I’m not looking for a relationship. They’re ugly, raw, brutal, painful, life destroying. They exist only in the hearts of the needy and I don’t need anything from anyone. I’m perfectly content being alone, hiding in the desolate place inside myself.”

“What I really want is to not be thinking about anyone. I want silence. Solitude. I want my God damn thoughts to turn off.”

Until Lila.They are treading down a very thin line between friends and lovers.

“There was this strange connection between us, like we understood each other, even though we were from totally separate worlds: rich and poor.” – Lila

“This isn’t just about sex. There is so much more to it than that. We have a connection. We have since the day we met.” – EthanCan two people, so very different in personality and social status, be together?

“You wouldn’t be completely alone.” I sweep her hair to the side and rest my chin on her shoulder. “You’d be with me.”

“What would we do at this mountain place together?”“Anything we wanted.”A stunning and riveting story of love found in the most remote places.An inspirational tale about never giving up hope.A heartfelt book about one man’s fight for his girl, and one girl’s struggle against the impossible for her man.ARC provided by Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Please note that all quotes are from an advance copy and are subject to change in the final edition.

Jessica Sorensen is a #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives with her husband and three kids in Idaho. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

Posted in Book Reviews

REVIEW ~ A LIFE LESS BROKEN BY MARGARET MCHEYZER

On a day like any other, Allyn Sommers went off to work, not knowing that her life was about to be irrevocably and horrifically altered.

Three years later, Allyn is still a prisoner in her own home held captive by harrowing fear. Broken and damaged, Allyn seeks help from someone that fate brought her.

Dr. Dominic Shriver is a psychiatrist who’s drawn to difficult cases. He must push past his own personal battles to help Allyn fight her monsters and nightmares.

Is Dr. Shriver the answer to her healing?

Can Allyn overcome the broken?

3 stars!I liked it but didn’t love it – reading this book literally felt like a rollercoaster ride as there were many high and low points.

First I need to mention the way the book is structured as it’s quite different, unique, and tasteful – there is a pre-prologue, a prologue, and ends with 4 epilogues (all from different POVs). This author is known for her “different” works so aside from the already intriguing premise, the book structure is also something new to behold.The story is about a young, bright, and full-of-life girl Allyn who, on a dark, gloomy day, experiences an ordeal no one should have to go through. With all the detailed descriptions and multiple flashbacks to this horrific event in Allyn’s life, I was really expecting myself to feel the raw, emotional turmoil and all of her pain and anguish; however, I didn’t. I was more depressed and ready to move on than anything – that probably says more about me than anyone else.

Another part of the book that made it seemingly compelling was the taboo aspect – Allyn, a disfigured, skittish, scarred girl in a relationship with her much older psychiatrist who’s got a few secrets of his own? Well sign me up! I definitely appreciated the parts where Dominic was there to help Allyn accept and move forward with her life – those parts were really well done. However, I couldn’t process the idea of them together, and this is coming from someone who adores anything taboo and forbidden. There is this very messed up twist added into the story and while it definitely caught my attention and made me think, wow this author is good, it killed my belief that Allyn and Dominic would be able to sustain a long-term relationship. Thus, any kind of healing done after that point I was pretty dubious about – to me, it seemed a little contrived. It was also weird that after 3 years of introverted behavior, Allyn would just suddenly take to Dominic in an instant. It really made me wonder – why now, why Dominic rather it being one nice continuous and believable transition into the story.As for the epilogues I have very mixed feelings. In terms of satisfying my personal curiosity, the epilogues are a big hit. I’ve always wanted to be in the head of Allyn’s perpetrators so I loved getting their POVs – A+ for that. However, in terms of plot and story development, the epilogues were a disaster for me. The author gave these bad guys hearts – these people who were supposedly villains to the core, monsters who committed heinous crimes. Whether or not it was the author’s intention to inspire pity and sadness for them, it nevertheless ruined the antagonist image for me.I would recommend this book if you are looking for a story with some heavy content that ultimately sends out an inspirational and uplifting message and at the same time, don’t mind a couple of topsy-turvy twists thrown your way.ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t do ‘normal’.I’ve found that the more I write, the more I like being different to other authors. I write in first person, and I love to challenge a reader.I take the normal and switch it around.For me, I really enjoy getting a reaction from a reader. So if I can evoke an emotion (regardless of if it’s the emotion the reader wants) then I figure that I’ve done my job as an author I want to be.I really quite revel in taking people out of their comfort zones and pushing them to read something different.My genre of writing is, well quite frankly, where ever my mind goes. I won’t label myself because I don’t like sticking to one genre.My goal with writing is just to take people away from whatever is going on in their lives, even if it’s only for a split second.I’m a go with the flow sort of person and don’t really take a course of action to get where I am going. I live in the moment and don’t usually worry about tomorrow because whatever life is due to bring me, I’ll be happy to accept.I love my family and friends and will help anyway I can if someone needs it. I really don’t like people that are nasty just because they can be, I don’t believe that’s necessary, I mean life’s hard enough as it is!I hope you enjoy my books, I’ve had a hoot writing them. There’s more to come…..

Posted in Book Reviews

REVIEW ~ WHISPER TO ME BY CHRISTINA LEE

A hot and consuming New Adult romance about a wayward musician and the one girl who keeps him grounded…

At college, Rachel has a reputation for being a sarcastic flirt with a thing for star athletes. No one at school knows that she’d had her heart ripped to shreds by her high school sweetheart, who’d driven them both off the side of the road on a borrowed motorcycle, and then abandoned her. No one knows the real Rachel Mattson—except one person…

Ever since he helped nurse his sister’s feisty best friend back to health, pierced bass player Kai Nakos has been head over heels in love. But the supposed bad boy can’t risk letting Rachel know the truth—especially now that the two of them are back in their hometown for the summer, together for the first time since the months following that fateful night. Never mind that Rachel’s ex is back, groveling for her forgiveness.

Shaken by her ex’s return, Rachel finds herself turning to the one guy she knows she can trust. Kai is willing to hide his feelings for her, just to have Rachel touch him again. After all, this is only a temporary fling. Until it becomes something more. But maybe it had been more all along.

NEW ADULT FTW!!!I was actually considering vlogging (video-blogging) this review but nah. You guys don’t want to see my squeeeeeing x 10 faces right?While I was reading, I had to pause several times and just sigh in contentment to how perfect this book is. At times it’s sweet, but not sickeningly so; it’s emotional, but not to the point where it’s tear-inducing, and above all, this book is the epitome of what quality New Adult literature is, fully encompassing the transition between adolescence and true adulthood. These days, so many books ride the coattails of an overused book theme: bad boy falls for virgin heroine; however, Whisper to Me doesn’t. Rather than be about a particular theme or popular idea that would certainly appeal to the masses, instead, this story is character-driven and has a very well-paced and thought-out plot. A few other aspects I had to note were:– Low angst level– Highly likable characters who are also easy to relate to (or maybe it’s just me since I’m about their age)– Conflicts in the story are very realistic – never did I feel like drama and conflict was unnecessary or contrived– Incredible writing! Syntax variety isn’t something a lot of authors can do and do it well but Christina Lee hits the nail on the head!Even though this is the third book in the Between Breaths series, it can definitely be read as a standalone – this is coming from someone who doesn’t remember much from book 1, didn’t read book 2 (which I need to rectify immediately), and was still captivated and totally invested in this story and characters. The author provides just the right amount of background info so even if you’re new to her work, you won’t feel lost at all.You don’t need to know much about the plot itself – the blurb is actually a really good summary and indication of what the book is about. Here are some brief character descriptions of the main characters:

Kai: half-Dutch, half-Native American and a pierced dirty talker – I had dreams about this fellow guys. I would give 10 stars to his character if I could. All his life he’s been perceived a certain way and was never able to shake it off. All everyone sees is a hot bad boy who messes up in life, and Rachel is the only one who’s been able to see that he’s so much more. The author really did a good job of portraying their deep connection, both on a physical level and emotional level – these two are equals.Rachel: She’s outwardly sarcastic, tough, and big flirt, yet she hides a very painful secret only a few know – including Kai. This ordeal pretty much scarred her for life, and she bears the physical scars to prove it. Rachel’s the kind of girl I want to be best friends with.This is a book I would recommend to everyone but especially to those who need a romance story that’s nostalgic, steamy, and will leave you with a big smile on your face. It’s also thought-provoking book that sheds light on the beauty of relationships & friendships. I could use multiple adjectives to describe the story: authentic, sexy, sensational, etc…but I’m going with perfect as it really is one perfect love story.ARC provided by Penguin/Intermix via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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$25 GIFT CARD + BEAUTIFUL BASTARD SERIES GIVEAWAY FROM CHRISTINA LAUREN

WOW guys!!! I have a huuuuuuge giveaway for you all —-> it’s from Christina Lauren to celebrate the upcoming release of Sweet Filthy Boy!!! I’m thrilled to be hosting this giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card and the entire paperback set of the Beautiful Bastard series!!! Check out more info below…BEAUTIFUL BASTARD SERIESThere are three full length novels and three novellas. Each of the full length stories can be read as standalones. 

$25 GIFT CARD + PAPERBACK SERIES GIVEAWAYThis giveaway is open to everyone. Must be over 18 to enter.2 winners – one winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and another winner receives the paperback set of the Beautiful Bastard series.
Many thanks to Gallery Books for making this giveaway possible!

Posted in Book Reviews

BOOKS, TRAVELING, REVIEWS (SOME RANTS), A GIVEAWAY, AND OTHER FUN SHENANIGANS…

Woah sooooo…..I didn’t plan on not being able to blog or update my Facebook page for the past 3 months (definitely facepalming right now for not thinking ahead). For those that don’t know, I traveled extensively in China this summer, starting from late May all the way up to two days ago when I got back to the US. As a travel lover I can’t begin to express my joy and completely ecstatic feelings about being on the move and all the wonderful places I saw and the exotic-looking food I got to eat but as an avid reader and blogger, I’m truly bummed that I wasn’t there for you to post about book sales, freebies, reviews, etc…NOT the greatest moment there so!!! This blog post will basically give you a recap of what I’ve been doing the past 3 months along with some interesting reviews/rants, and a smashing giveaway (if I do say so myself hehe) to end this all with a bang!

Of course one of the first things I did was hop on a plane (two planes to be exact) – one from Texas to Istanbul and the next from Istanbul to Hong Kong. Prior to this trip I hadn’t been on a plane for a few years so I was pretty giddy to the see the view:

Once I arrived in Hong Kong I didn’t go anywhere in the vicinity just yet! My family and I rushed to get to Shengzhen (1 hour drive from HK) to meet up with friends and then we had to take a train ride to get to JiangXi, a big province down south so my younger siblings could start their summer school studying. It haven’t been on a train for almost 8 years so I went picture crazy once I boarded (though I’m only showing you guys the nicer-looking pic hehe):

We arrived in a smaller city within the Jiangxi province – Wanan – where my aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa on my dad’s side lived. Not many people have cars here; they either walk, take the bus, have a motorcycle or grab one of these electric-powered vehicles that I have here:

My brother stayed with two of our cousins and went to summer school for a month while my sister went to a bigger city an hour away from him – Jian – and lived there with another aunt and uncle. My siblings are both younger than me and aside from visiting all the hotspot areas in these two places, I traveled between the cities to visit my siblings. Oh and I forgot to mention I had a HUGE candy craving so I hit the largest supermarket there was in these two places – check out their candy section:

Not quite what I was looking for (no Skittles, Starbursts, or Sour Belts) but it was interesting and fun to try out new candy. OH fun fact: did you know that most Chinese candy is made from either vegetables or fruit? Hardly any artificial products.And then sometime in mid-June the entire family (I’m talking not just my parents and siblings, but two of my aunts and uncles and my cousins) went down to the countryside and we picked these rare mountain berries only found in China (they are SO GOOD!!!!) Kinda taste like strawberries and blueberries 

 I picked a whole bunch *yay* and got myself some mosquito bites in the process *boo*

Once June flew by and my siblings passed summer school (learned a lot of Chinese) our traveling reallystarted! We said goodbye to our wonderful family in Jiangxi and headed out to my aunts and uncles on my mom’s side to Beijing – TONS of great tourist locations there! First place we visited was the Great Wall. Okay let me be honest with you and say that it was not as great as rumored to be. I mean the wall itself was a beautiful relic to check out but it’s so hot and there are SO.MANY.PEOPLE. it killed most of the fun for me. Though one of the highlights of the Great Wall fiasco were the adorable mountain bears! 

Oh and this one’s my favorite! I got to feed it and the little cutie just sat there with its mouth open waiting for food:

We also hit an amusement part and that was so fun!! I barely took any pics – either I was waiting in line, eating like a glut or going on crazy rides. My dad took a pic of this water ride I went on. It’s the moment where a ton of water cascades on the boat:

There’s this art store I checked out and I lugged this lovely painting all the way from the east back to Texas:

(It’s more exotic-looking in real life hehe)And OMG the food!!! Cannot believe I haven’t touched on that one yet! Here are just a few of their scrumptious dishes:

(This is Koren style noodles. Reminded me a little of Hot Pot where you dump a bunch of veggies and select meat in a pot that’s steamy hot with peppers and eat! It’s delicious.)

(I was salivating when I saw this!!!! It’s steamed shrimp – love seafood!!)

(My sister’s birthday was in early July so we celebrated in Beijing! It’s a three layer marble cake with ice cream as the middle layer. YUM!)Oh and I visited the local bookstore! Not a whole lot to choose from (most are textbooks and Chinese stories) but I did see the entire Hunger Games series translated to Chinese:

In early August, I had time to do a few things I’ve been meaning to get to ever since I got to China. First was go rafting in the rain (very exhilarating) and then go on a zip line:

(It went down at a super fast speed – I was screaming all the way down and taking pics the entire time haha)And then take a gondola ride. Those things look cool on TV but they’re pretty scary to ride. Thank goodness there was no heavy rocking back and forth. I still screamed the whole ride down though 

OH! And this fast-speed train ride in a tunnel I went on was pretty cool. Here’s a pic of my dad and younger brother in front of me:

As late August arrived I went back to Hong Kong to get ready to fly back to Texas *YAY* but before that I went shopping for more souvenirs and visited the night lights show only available to see in Hong Kong:

And after two days, a few hours, and a nasty bed-head I arrived back in Texas. Tired, cranky but also super relieved to get back to American food, world of air conditioning, and BOOKS!

That’s me there! 

Part Two: The ReadingI was pretty busy traveling around but I was even busier with reading!!! I can’t go anywhere without my iPad and I read some pretty amazing books as well as some crummy ones this summer! I was able to post reviews on Goodreads so I’m including those links along with purchase links. I don’t think I have to say this, but all reviews contain my personal opinions and are not meant to attack the author. Some of these books hit a nerve or two so some of these may be a little ranty. Just FYI.

The giveaway will be similar to the Follower Appreciation Giveaways I had where the winner chooses a paperback of their choice from the list provided. Since this is 3 months worth of books, this giveaway will consist of 3 winners each receiving any paperback of their choice from any of the books above in Part Two. It’s a huge list so take your time choosing 

 As usual this giveaway is open internationally as long as Amazon ships to your country!**Note: If there is no paperback option available for the book you choose I will gift you an ebook copy. Some of these books haven’t been released yet so if you choose one of those, you will receive the paperback as soon as it’s released.**

Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ VIRTUE FALLS BY CHRISTINA DODD

Twenty-three years ago, Misty Banner was brutally slashed to death in her home in Virtue Falls, Washington. Her husband was convicted of the murder. Their four year old daughter Elizabeth witnessed the crime, but has no memory of the killing. Now, two decades later, Elizabeth is back in Virtue Falls. She soon discovers her father is innocent. The real killer is still out there. And her investigation has stirred dark and deadly resentments that could provoke in another bloody murder—her own—in this riveting novel from bestselling author Christina Dodd.

4.5 stars!!

I’m a big fan of this author’s historical romances so I thought to try out one of her contemporary works, especially since this one was a romantic suspense/mystery and I’m a huge sucker for those. Aside from her writing style, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this book in particular, but let me just say that you won’t be worrying about your expectations once you start reading – the story will grab your attention from the start and though there may be a few times where there are too many details, the engaging plot quickly grabs your attention again. Overall, I liked the suspenseful storyline, the heartwarming second chance romance, and how fast-paced the book was – it kept things interesting.*********************Twenty three years ago, a 4 year old Elizabeth Banner witnessed her mother’s brutal murder and her father was convicted of the crime. Fast forward two decades and Elizabeth has become one of the most accomplished geologists of her time and an expert in studying rocks and natural disasters. Returning home to Virtue Falls to study earthquakes and tsunamis, Elizabeth encounters a series of events that eventually lead to buried secrets, secrets that expose a hole in her mother’s murder case and leave her in danger. With no one but an ex-husband and mother-in-law who actually cares about her, Elizabeth experiences de-ja-vu all over again as she struggles to reconcile her horrid past with her uncertain future.

Dedicated FBI agent and ex-husband to Elizabeth, Garik Jacobsen finds out that she’s in danger and hurries to Virtue Falls to protect her. Though consenting to their divorce, Garik still harbors strong feelings for Elizabeth and would sacrifice anything just to make sure she’s safe. He’s deeply tortured and troubled by his past and the fact that he doesn’t let Elizabeth in to that part of his life creates a wedge between them, leading to their divorce. All grudges and complaints, however, are pushed aside as this couple work to uncover the mystery and truth behind the murder case and find the real killer.*********************I honestly expected to loathe Elizabeth’s character. She was unfeeling, only passionate about her profession and it was hard in the beginning to see her brush aside Garik so easily and effortlessly. As I read, however, I think I started to understand and connect to her character on a much deeper level. You see, I LOVE smart heroines. Heroines that don’t think with their libido and aren’t simpering ninnies around the hero. I actually think it was the author’s purpose to introduce this aloof, unfeeling woman and through her experiences in the book and her deep love for her husband (though she tries to hide it), show how an emotionally scarred Elizabeth could trust and have a second chance at her marriage. Her family was shattered since her mother’s murder and her father’s conviction and she had no one left. No one except Garik, who knew and loved her for the way she was and accepted her, flaws and all. Speaking of Garik, I adore this man! He scores a 10 out of 10 for my hero rating – sexy, attentive, protective, witty. I could use so many adjectives to describe him. My heart broke when I read about the guilt he harbored because of his past actions. Together, he and Elizabeth make such a great couple. They complement each other perfectly: fire and ice, passionate and logical. They had many issues to work through, but when they tackled their fears and fully opened up to one another, I was mentally cheering them on, ecstatic that they’d be able to work out all their problems and hopeful about a more permanent future for them.

I do have to stress that the romance part is secondary to the mystery and suspense. I would estimate a good 30% of the book is solely dedicated to their relationship development: that’s pretty decent considering this plot was elaborate and detailed. There’s not a whole lot of steam but then again, emotional intensity will always trump steam for me 

 The only thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was Kateri’s character. I simply just didn’t see the point of having her take up a couple of chapters. Elizabeth knew her but other than that she didn’t have a substantial part in the plot so I skimmed the parts with her in it.Aside from that one complaint and a few times where there were too many details that tempted me to skim, this book was pretty perfect for me. I finished it in one sitting (about 4 hours) and closed the book feeling pretty satisfied – definitely a great book to pick up if you love the romantic suspense genre!ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Book Reviews

RELEASE DAY REVIEW & GIVEAWAY ~ VANQUISH BY PAM GODWIN

Her life is like a prison cell.
A self-made, to-hell-with-the-free-world existence that locks from the inside.
Stop judging. Her agoraphobia doesn’t define her. It simply keeps her safe.

He belongs in a prison cell.
The 6×8, make-me-your-bitch variety that locks from the outside.
But he’s free. To hunt. To take. To break.
And he just found a sexy new toy.

Capturing her is the easy part. Her fucked-up mind, however, makes him question everything he does next.
But he’s a determined bastard. If all goes his way, this will hurt like hell.

Pam Godwin has a knack for writing unconventional, unique romance stories and Vanquish is a terrific example. Just FYI, if you plan on reading book 1 Deliver do not read this one yet – it contains plot spoilers. Anyways, I’m a huge fan of the broody, dark, and tortured anti heroes. In book 1, the only character I can say that I fully loved was Van. Liv was pretty kickass but too aloof. Josh was endearing but too sweet. But Van…now that’s a guy who’s right up my alley! I couldn’t wait to get my greedy hands on his book and now that I’ve finished it, I can say that fans of the first book and Van-fans will be pretty pleased with his story.********************This book begins right after the events of Deliver, where Van Quiso is recovering from his wounds and the one thing that dominates his mind is getting Liv and their daughter back. Obsessed and possessed by this fervor, Van constantly stalks Liv in hopes of winning her back from Josh, along with getting visitation rights to their daughter Livana. On one of his secret trips to visit Liv, he unwittingly stumbles upon the heroine Amber and his old, buried sexual tendencies flare. For the first time in a long time, he’s tempted by Amber.

Introverted and secluded, Amber Rosenfeld suffers from extreme agoraphobia (anxiety disorder) and OCD. Her previous marriage has demolished her self-confidence and body image and any kind of intimacy repels her. It is truly a chance encounter that puts her in Van’s path and with just one look, Van is intrigued by her and her oddities.********************My biggest concern with reading this book was whether or not the author would butcher Van’s dark, multifaceted, mysterious character and I’m relieved to say I don’t think she did. When a character as complex as Van gets a romance story, there’s a certain degree of ‘dark’ that has to be given up and in turn is replaced with a much softer, vulnerable side of him. I think the author did an exemplary job of pitting his usual crude high-handedness against the vulnerability most readers didn’t think existed. Van is basically what made this book, despite it also being Amber’s story. Though I liked her character, I never fully warmed up to her. Then again, it’s not often I fall head over heels for the heroines 

 I really loved seeing Van transform from a seemingly heartless machine to a more caring and loving man. His past as a slave driver never will go away but I admire him for not letting it define his life and instead, motivate him to be with Amber and help her conquer her agoraphobia.

As much as I liked Amber and Van as a couple, I had a hard time accepting them together in the beginning. I mentioned before that it was pure luck that they bumped into each other and the fact that Van was completely obsessed with getting Liv and their daughter back didn’t help convince me of the strength of his bond with Amber. I felt like his reasons for being with Amber weren’t compelling enough in the beginning. I should feel like only the heroine is good for the hero, but sadly I didn’t feel that here. Amber could be a Leslie, a Catherine, a Grace and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Once the deep feelings were there, however, I could finally accept them together but that didn’t happen until the 60% mark so I spent most of the book feeling aloof, not loving them, but not hating them.That one main problem aside, I really enjoyed this book – it had hot, steamy scenes along with dry, crude humor and charming wit. The idea that even the most flawed and damaged people can have a happily-ever-after too is a beautiful message and one that this book sends out.ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Pam Godwin, lives in the Midwest with her husband, their two children, and a foulmouthed parrot. When she ran away, she traveled fourteen countries across five continents, attended three universities, and married the vocalist of her favorite rock band. Java, tobacco, and dark romance novels are her favorite indulgences, and might be considered more unhealthy than her aversion to sleeping, eating meat, and dolls with blinking eyes.

Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ BLACK LIES BY ALESSANDRA TORRE

Brant:
Became a tech billionaire by his twentieth birthday. Has been in a relationship with me for 3 years.
Has proposed 4 times. Been rejected 4 times.

Lee: 
Cuts grass when he’s not banging housewives. Good with his hands, his mouth, and his cock. Has been pursued relentlessly by me for almost 2 years, whether he knows it or not.

Go ahead. Judge me. You have no idea what my love entails.

If you think you’ve heard this story before, trust me – you haven’t.

I’ve only read one other Alessandra Torre book but I can already tell she does not deliver stories that follow a straight line. I like this unpredictability factor, and her writing is amazing – once I started the book I didn’t stop until I was finished. I can totally see why this book would be a 5 star/6 star favorite for many; heck, I was pretty sure it’d be a 5 star winner for me as well. The lies, the intricately-woven mystery and the addictive writing all hinted at a flawless read for me. Unfortunately, there were several issues I had with it and as much I liked the concept of the book, the execution of the original premise fell flat. I have to stress here that I did  like it. I just didn’t love it.*************************Multi-millionaire heiress Layana Fairmont was born with everything: she had wealth & connections and was expected to become a trophy wife. Instead, she decides to take fate with her own hands and uses her inheritance to start a new life, one that didn’t constantly revolve around the privileged and wealthy. She also works at the Homeless Youth of America (HYA) and has a deep, abiding love for these children.At one of the charity fundraises for HYA, Lana meets genius inventor Brant Sharp. Cool, calm, and collected, Brant became a tech billionaire at 20 years old and CEO of his own company. Lana and Brant have this immediate and insanely intense connection and though they’ve only spent one night together, both want more.As their relationship blossoms and both secretly aware that their attraction is giving way to love, Lana comes across the ‘secret’ and all hopes for a happy future with Brant are shattered. Instead of breaking it off with him, Lana dives head-first into the mess and holds onto Brant, but still puts up a wall between them. And then she meets Lee.Down-to-earth, flirtatious, and rough around the edges, Lee is a landscaper and the complete opposite of Brant. While Brant’s stoic, Lee is candid. Lee is fire, Brant is ice. And Lana loves both of them. She won’t give up Lee no matter what, setting off a plan of deceit, revenge, and betrayal to show just how far she’s willing to go to keep both men.*************************First I have to say, this is NOT a love triangle!! Very hard to believe based on what I summarized before, but it’s true. Just go in with an open mind because this book is all about appearances. The stark truth lies beneath the façade.Like I mentioned earlier, I thought the book premise was original. I didn’t figure out the big secret until 50 pages before it was revealed (I’m dumb, OK?) and when it was finally all out in the open, I was pretty much stunned speechless. But then, that secret also gave way to a ton of problems I had with the book.1. Timelines. I hate them. I hate them even more in books. I usually struggle with stories that are not set in the present and a good chunk of this book was from the past.2. I had no connection to the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them but I never got used to the inner-monologues and the upper-class lifestyle – these are not very relatable characters. And because I didn’t find out the secret until the story was almost over, I spent most the book hating Lana’s guts and trying very hard not to smash my iPad against the wall.3. The secret itself. Okay, look. I have a terrible track record with books that revolve solely around this huge ass secret and then the secret turns out to be one lame excuse. Thankfully, that didn’t happen here. I actually admire the author for thinking of something so different. However, there is no way this secret would’ve worked in real life. I am a very logical and factual reader. 95% of the time logic wins over passion for me (unless the author is really good and wins over my emotions). And in this case, no emotions were evoked. Without spoiling anything, I thought the secret was too far-fetched and unrealistic. It’s hard for the author to pull off such an elaborate idea without toeing the line between realism and fiction.4. The ending. It was wrapped up too quickly, perfectly and became anti-climatic.Not going to lie, this book gave me a massive headache. A big jumble of psychosis is what it is but I have to admit, it is unputdownable psychosis. Once I started, I didn’t stop reading until I was finished. This is a book that I would recommend solely for the shock factor. That’s it.

Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ THE TOUCH OF FIRE BY LINDA HOWARD

Annie Parker came to Silver Mesa, Arizona, because it was the only place she’d found where folks thought a woman doctor was better than no doctor at all. Her lonely life became harder still on the winter night Rafe McCay broke into her office with a bullet in his side and a bounty hunter at his back. With a gun aimed at her heart, he led her deep into the Arizona mountains, and into a world of danger and passion, for Annie discovered in Rafe not only a wounded man, but a soul betrayed…and Rafe, healed by her skill and the magic in her hands, awakened in Annie a woman’s tender longing and hungry desire. Pursued by dangerous secrets of the past, they are swept into a thrilling odyssey of the heart — a bold, exhilarating journey that rekindles Rafe’s lost hope and transforms Annie’s healing gift into a deep, enduring love.

I think there’s truly something magical about a book if you can re-read it multiple times and still be enamored with the story, characters, and writing. Most, if not all, of Linda Howard’s books are like that for me but the one I’ve re-read the most is this book. Set in the wild & dangerous time period after the Civil War, The Touch of Fire is a captivating western romance about two individuals striving to belong and how they discover a love that is found in the most unexpected of places.**************************Well on her way in becoming a spinster, Annie Parker is a dedicated and meticulous doctor, a profession that most people believe to be unladylike so she is constantly looked down upon. Nevertheless, that doesn’t diminish her passion for her job or her innate love for healing. On a typical work night, she is shocked to see a hooded but wounded man stumbling into her clinic.An outlaw only by name, Rafe McCay has been on the run for 4 years, evading bounty hunters and lawmakers after being at the wrong place at the wrong time. After being shot by one infamous bounty hunter, Rafe stops by Annie’s clinic and seeks medication, only to be told that his wound could fester and without proper care, can contaminate and lead to death. Thus, Rafe kidnaps and takes Annie with him to treat his wounds.Due to extreme weather conditions, Annie and Rafe are temporarily stranded in an abandoned abode for days. Both are naturally wary of each other and don’t expect to develop feelings but it happens. With little outside interference, they both have the time to learn more about each other.

When it’s finally revealed what turned Rafe into a wanted man, both Annie and Rafe set out to try to clear his name, encountering Native Americans, unwanted bounty hunters, and one tough lawmaker along the way.**************************Just to clear out the air, this book is far from perfect and to top that, there is a very slight paranormal aspect (which I’m usually not too fond of). However, this book is perfect for me. I loved the setup of the story: kidnapping mixed with a strong, silent hero and an intelligent heroine. I think what made this really work for me – again and again – is that I knew there was nothing to fear from Rafe. He may be a kidnapper, an alleged murderer, but not purposely so. Life dished out a terrible plate for him and he did what he had to do to survive but he never hurt an innocent. Pairing him with a character that’s his complete opposite was just brilliant. It was very interesting to see this rough and rugged man fall for the sweet-tempered, warmhearted woman.

My favorite part about this book, however, wasn’t the romance (shocking right??). It was the rich & beautifully described historical setting. I’m a huge American history geek, and I thought it was a genius move to incorporate historical icons like Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan, and Jefferson Davis into the story. There’s a mix of everything in here – romance, history, and political intrigue that made for an entertaining and thrilling read.I would recommend this book to fans of historical romance that aren’t bothered by extra details about the Civil War and enjoy a little dark & suspense in their stories.

Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ THIN LOVE BY EDEN BUTLER

Love isn’t supposed to be an addiction. It isn’t supposed to leave you bleeding. 

Kona pushed, Keira pulled, and in their wake, they left behind destruction. 

She sacrificed everything for him. 

It wasn’t enough. 

But the wounds of the past can never be completely forgotten and still the flame remains, slumbers between the pleasure of yesterday and the thought of what might have been. 

Now, sixteen years later, Keira returns home to bury the mother who betrayed her, just as Kona tries to hold onto what remains of his NFL career with the New Orleans Steamers. Across the crowded bustle of a busy French Market, their paths collide, conjuring forgotten memories of a consuming touch, skin on skin, and the still smoldering fire that begs to be rekindled. 

When Kona realizes the trifecta of betrayal—his, Keira’s and those lies told to keep them apart—his life is irrevocably changed and he once again takes Keira down with him into the fire that threatens to ignite them both.

You know how sometimes you open a book and read just a few lines but you already know that it’ll be good for you? Thin Love was that kind of book for me. As a reader who tries to avoid angst and all kinds of drama, I expected this book to be a complete turnoff but instead, the story & the characters hit me hard. It’s difficult to read this book and not be reminded of myself…and just how impetuous and uninhibited young hearts are. Unflinchingly honest and emotionally raw, Thin Love is a heart-pounding story documenting Kona and Keira’s tumultuous relationship – first in college and then 16 years later when a fated encounter brings them together once more.

The book is split into two parts: one focusing on Kona and Keira’s time together in college and another when they see each other again 16 years later. In part 1, Keira Riley is introduced as a smart, ambitious but antisocial freshman who knows what she wants out of life. Granted a temporary reprieve from her meddlesome and controlling mother, Keira channels all her energy and focus on getting good grades, getting out of college, and getting away from her family. Being constantly surrounded by wealthy, uptight, and superficial people all her life, Keira knows the importance and value of real relationships and love and vows to have nothing less.

Unknown to her, Keira’s world gets shaken up as she’s assigned to work with none other than the campus manwhore Kona Hale. A native Hawaiian whose entire focus is on football, Kona is outwardly charming and relaxed but always aware of the pressure to excel in the field from his abrasive mother, demanding coach, and friends and teammates.It’s hate at first sight for Kona and Keira. She despises his laissez-faire attitude in class and he pities her for being a nerdy and stuck up girl. But at the same time, there’s no denying this powerful and intense connection they have that’s not just physical attraction. There’s a push-and-pull dynamic for a good part of the book which is to be expected for a bad boy falls for good girl storyline. And then comes the part where mistakes are made and lies are told and ultimately, Kona and Keira split apart. It isn’t until 16 years later where their gazes collide in the market that they contemplate the idea of being together again.***********************I have to say, this book was both hard and easy to read. Hard to read because it was devastating to see the extreme lows in their relationship. Easy to read because their chemistry is THE most intense and when they were together, they were together. It’s not every book I read where the couple’s love drowns out all logic and reasoning…a love that’s so desperate and so unhinged it becomes toxic yet you just can’t help but want them to be together. They were drugged on love…heck, I was too and I was swept away in the torrent of emotions this couple evoked. Seriously, they had it all: jealousy, lust, love, regret, and the list just goes on…

I think this book could’ve been a complete 5 star read for me if it hadn’t been the odd Hawaiian lingo occasionally used and the 3rd person narration. The tense was just plain weird sometimes and if I hadn’t been so emotionally invested in these characters, the 3rd person narration would’ve caused a huge problem for me. I also would’ve liked more about Kona’s mother and an explanation to why she always had a stick up her ass.If you’re going to read this book, go in knowing these characters make terrible mistakes. They hurt and blame and take but they also give, accept, and heal. For me, it is the hard-earned happy endings that are usually the most rewarding and satisfying to read, and that was the case with this book. Kona and Keira’s journey is rife with passion, heartache, and all-consuming love, a combination that makes for an unputdownable and unforgettable read.