Romance

REVIEW: Paying Daddy’s Debt by Alexa Riley

img_2044Paying Daddy’s Debt by Alexa Riley
Series: standalone
Genre: contemporary romance
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When Ash Carpenter imagines a schoolgirl, the image doesn’t match her. She wears long skirts that are sort of frumpy. Her bulky sweaters hide her shape, and her hair is always in a messy bun. Her tennis shoes are clunky and worn, and there are runs in her thick tights. Her dark-framed glasses hide some of her face…but not all of it. Because he’s caught sight of those ice-blue eyes, and they’ve pierced him to his core.

She walks by his office every day, but one afternoon she’s missing. It’s then Ash finally decides he’s tired of waiting and it’s time to collect what he’s owed. She’ll come with him, because there’s no other choice. She’ll pay her daddy’s debt any way Ash sees fit.

Warning: Oh, honey, this is about to get filthy. If your delicate sensibilities can’t handle the dirty, then step aside for those of us who can. It’s quick, but it’s just the right length, if you know what I mean. *slow wink, elbow nudge, goofy snort*

Purchase it

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Review by Evelyn

Heat: 2/5
Rating: 1/5

I don’t have anything against quick reads, or insta-love, if they’re done right. With this, I really just struggled to see the point. The synopsis and title suggested a daddy theme, but this was just misleading. There was very little sex in general, and I was left feeling massively disappointed. Alex Riley are not bad writers, and are the masters of their insta-love/lust novella genre; but they definitely need to do better than this.
Drama, Release Blitz, Reviews, Romance

War Poppy by Nicole Lynne

war-poppy-ebook-coverWar Poppy by Nicole Lynne
Series: War Series #1
Genre: romantic drama
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Poppy

Love and war. Two words that should have little association, but to me the two go hand in hand. Both are a tragedy. They rip you open and spit you out. The war killed my husband, Connor, shattered my will to live, and took my best friend. Brandon may not have physically died in that war, but his soul did. And now we’re left to pick up the wreckage. Expected to move on when all that is left is the ruins of a life we once had.

Brandon

War. It took everything from me, even myself. When you’re only able to exist, death seems like a blessing. Pain…a welcome distraction. I ran from everything associated with my past, and then she found me, fighting, drowning myself in whisky, trying to forget. She reminds me of Connor, of what I’ve lost—what we’ve lost. In the midst of destruction, she’s a salvation I don’t deserve.

I shouldn’t love him.

I shouldn’t love her.

Love is a war we never should have fought.

Purchase it

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Giveaway

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Review by Evelyn

Heat: 3/5
Rating: 5/5

If you’re a fan of light-hearted, wishy-washy romance as a form of escapism, turn away. This is a dark, gritty read, delving deep into PTSD, alcoholism and toxic relationships. This is the sort of book that grips your heart, makes you laugh, makes you love, and makes you weep. It carries with it ‘that feeling’ – the one that hits just before the Red Wedding in GoT. Where things are leading a certain direction, but suddenly they no longer seem quite right. ‘That feeling’ is the most harrowing sensation, where things are cascading and there is no way to stop them, but you also cannot stop yourself from reading on.

Poppy and Brandon were beautifully crafted and beautifully broken, finding toxic comfort in one another’s pain, with a deeply felt, painful romance that absolutely broke me. It was one the romantic in me wanted so desperately to work out, while my brain was shouting at my Kindle and their treatment of one another. My emotions were at war, but my heart, as ever, won.

One of the best books of the year so far (and only my second five-star rating of 2017), I’d absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes a deeper, more thoughtful read. LP Lovell and Stevie J Cole completely depart from their typical writing, and do so in an extraordinary way. I hope they write more like this, as their styles compliment one another absolutely perfectly, and by pulling this off they have shown how capable and talented they both are, departing from their comfort zones in such a way.

Comedy, Excerpts, Romance

Release & Review: Clam Jam – R.C. Boldt

clam-jam-ebook-coverClam Jam by R.C. Boldt
Series: standalone
Genre: romantic comedy
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“Clam Jam”

Definition: the female equivalent of a cock block.

Example: You’re chatting with a guy you’re interested in and your friend comes along and lays claim to him.

Maggie

That’s my life—except it’s worse. My friend who keeps “jamming” me is my gay roommate and if that isn’t a W.T.F. moment, I’m not sure what is.

Fact: He went home with three—yes, three—of the guys I had been so sure were into me.

Fact: He’s really pissing me off. I mean, hello? I’m trying to get back in the saddle, but I’ll never manage to get a boyfriend before the age of fifty if he keeps this up.

Fact: Secretly, I wonder what it would be like if he weren’t gay. Why do all the hot, sweet, tender-hearted guys have to be gay. 

Fact: My gay-dar needs a serious tune-up.

Ry

The day I interviewed for the room to rent, everything changed. I knew I had met “the girl”, except there was one small problem: she didn’t want anything to do with men. I recognized a top-notch force field when I saw one. She’d been burned badly and didn’t want to deal with a heterosexual guy as a roommate. I could’ve turned around and found another place to live, but I wanted to live there—with her. 

So I had to go “undercover”.

Fact: I’m in love with my roommate.

Fact: I’m a likely candidate for carpal tunnel surgery since all the action I’ve had for the past year has been my hand.

Fact: She’s going to hate me if I come clean now. 

Fact: I’m not giving up. Which means, I’ll just have to continue to run defense until I figure out a way to get Maggie to see the “real” me.

The me that loves her.

The me that would never do her wrong. 

Until then, I’ll keep running off every guy who shows any interest.  

Until then, I’ll continue to Clam Jam.

Purchase it

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Sneak Peek

“Ryland James!” I bang on his bathroom door, hollering loudly. “Did you eat the last—”

The door swings open, drawing my speech to a sudden halt because … ooooh, sweet, dripping wet abs.

My eyes are riveted.

He’s got a towel wrapped around his waist, and I don’t even realize I’m moving until Ry releases a sharp hiss at my touch. Because my finger is tracing over the slight indentations in his abdominal muscles.

“Um …” He clears his throat, his voice husky and deep. “Mags?”

“Uh-huh,” I murmur absently, my fingertip stopping one of the trickling droplets of water on his skin, tracing it down over his belly button, and—

His fingers grasp my wrist, drawing my hand to a halt, and my eyes dart up to his in alarm because crap. That was like an out-of-body experience.

“Oh, crap. I’m sorry. I just really, um … crap.” That’s all I can utter. Nonsense. No one would believe I have my graduate degree if they heard me right now.

If my tongue had a voice of its own, it would probably say something like, “Just the tip. That’s all I want.” The tip of my tongue tracing over Ry’s abs, that is. You know, just to prove someone Photoshopped him. Or not.

Because I’ll take one for the team. I’m a giver like that. People might even think of canonizing me as a saint after all this. Really.

Oh, and then … Abracadabra! Poof! He’d no longer be gay, profess his undying love for me, and wouldn’t ever leave me for another guy.

Or woman.

Wow. That scenario even sounds crazy in my head.

Shaking off my thoughts, I take one more glance down at his abs—just one more glance—and that’s when I see it.

“Oh, boy,” I breathe out. Ry is hard, tenting the towel, and I really want it to drop. Accidentally, of course. Like an “oops” moment. Totally harmless and innocent.

Oh. My. God. I’m a horrible person. I’m thinking of my roommate’s penis! My roommate who has quickly become one of my best friends.

Oh, the shame!

Where did this inner slut come from? It’s like she’s been lying in wait—for him, apparently.

But, really. I can take a little peek, right?

Review

Heat: 3/5
Rating: 5/5

Who would’ve thought I’d have a best book of 2017 already picked out just six days in? And I’m terribly picky with my five star ratings.

Boldt is quickly becoming one of my one-click authors, and this is only the second of her books I’ve read. Clam Jam is the first book in a long time that I’ve actually felt entirely engrossed in, desperate to plough through to the end.

Although the plot is somewhat cliché, Boldt’s deliverance is exquisite. This book had me chuckling from start to finish, and actually squeezed my heart in various places. The friendship between Ry and Maggie was just entirely believable; it’s rare to find a book couple who honestly are just perfect for each other, without the increasingly frequent insta-love. This was a unique take, a couple (and hell, even just a friendship) to root for.

One of Boldt’s strengths in her writing is the creation of a strong and fully developed supporting cast, and the way she expresses and crafts friendships are second to none. Clam Jam was able to capitalise on that to the max, with the friendship taking centre stage as the (eventual) basis for more. And Jack and Sarah’s characters pulled me in enough for me to ask for a sequel – yes, I’m a little desperate here. I want more.

Although with the cliché plotline it’s obvious where the drama will come, Boldt one-ups this and deals with it brilliantly. The angst feels organic rather than forced, and the way it is overcome is sickeningly sweet, in the way that actually made my heart clench and gave my stomach butterflies. That’s how desperate I was for these two to push through the angst.

I went into this expecting a typical romantic comedy. Instead, beneath its hilarity, Clam Jam manages to contain all the passion and swooning of the great romance films. Combined with fully-fleshed out characters and sizzling sex scenes, this is a must-read.

Reviews, Romance

Review: Wild Abandon Christmas – Jeannine Colette

wildabandonchristmas_amazonWild Abandon Christmas by Jeannine Colette
Series: Abandon Collection #3.5
Genre: contemporary romance
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She wanted a Christmas romance.
He wound up getting seduced.

THE TELLERS ARE COMING TO TOWN!

Crystal and Nate are mixing business with pleasure this holiday season in New York City! In town to meet with a luxury restaurant group, Nate finds a buyer for his Napa Valley wine but things don’t go as planned when a real life Vixen takes a liking to him.

While Nate is being seduced in the big city, Crystal finds herself alone visiting the most iconic places that should be enjoyed with the one you love. Will Nate be caught under the mistletoe or will this couple of wine and roses find their way back together for Christmas?

Join us as old friends are revisited, villains make a surprise appearance and romance is shared on this special holiday addition to the Abandon Collection.

Purchase it

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Review

Heat: 2/5
Rating: 3/5

I always find it a little difficult to review novellas and little extras to novels. I don’t go above a four-star rating because there’s just not enough time to get fully involved with the characters and plot. For me, Wild Abandon was my top read of 2016, so I was super-excited to get a chance to follow the Tellers again in this little Christmassy follow-up. It didn’t disappoint, and I got as much enjoyment at revisiting these characters as I could have hoped for; however, it also didn’t add anything particularly worthwhile to their love story.

In some respects, the fact that I felt the urge to slap Nate around the head a few times made me doubt his status as my top ever book boyfriend, despite the understandable (and noble) causes behind his behaviour.

A sweet Christmassy addition for fans of the series.

Drama, Reviews, Romance

Review: See Through Heart – Amie Knight

see-through-heart-ebook-coverSee Through Heart by Amie Knight
Series: standalone
Genre: new adult
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Ainsley came into my life in a flurry of vibrant colors, lighting my world up when all seemed lost.

It wasn’t our quiet nights by the creek or stolen kisses surrounded by a sea of cotton that saved me.  

It was her.  

She was my comfort when life threw one ugly tragedy after another at me. 

Until she dealt me the greatest blow.  

Now, abandonment, betrayal, and death darken every corner of my life.  Anger and hurt burn bright where love and trust once lived.  

But, now, she’s back.  Sure, she’s changed, but I see through it—straight to her heart.

Purchase it

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Review

Themes: friends to lovers, second chance
Heat: ★★★
Rating: ★★★

This is the debut release from author Amie Knight.

I had never been kissed in my life, but I knew that this was special. I knew that kisses like this were rare and beautiful. A kiss like this was born from years of friendship and love.

There was a lot of emotion in these pages. I’m not going to lie, I did cry once or twice, and it was absolutely not what I was expecting to happen when I started reading this book. It was interesting to see how tragedy affected the main characters, and how drama also managed to bring them back together.

Knight did an absolutely brilliant job of establishing this relationship, with the first half of the novel following the Ainsley and Adrian as they met as children and grew up, and the second half bringing them back together following these gut-wrenching events. I really cared for these characters, and I found their relationship beautiful.

“Let’s pretend we are just a boy and a girl in love. That our lives aren’t encompassed in overwhelming sorrow and heartbreak. That we aren’t swimming in a never-ending sea of grief. Please, let me have this. This moment of beautiful in all of this ugly.”

Where I struggled a little bit was with Adrian’s character. For some reason, he just didn’t feel consistent enough to me, and I didn’t quite believe that he wouldn’t have gone after Ainsley when she left. Similarly, I felt like although the first half did a perfect job of setting everything up (before callously destroying it!), the second half seemed a little rushed for me. I wanted a little more pain, a little more tension, but instead it all worked out fairly easily and became more of a sweet read.

There were several subplots which just didn’t go anywhere, such as Adrian and his father, and the subplot with Anthony and Kelley (though maybe the latter is being left for a sequel? Let’s hope so).

She could run from me, but what she couldn’t do was hide her heart. Whether she liked it or not, I owned it. It was mine.

A stellar effort for a first novel, the first half left me devastated while the second was just a little too fast for such an emotionally intense read. This is definitely an author to keep watching.

Reviews, Romance, Suspense

Review: Protector – Michelle Horst

protectorProtector by Michelle Horst
Series: standalone
Genre: romantic suspense
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I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of person. I wanted to save the world, or at least leave my stamp behind. In my own naïve way I thought I could bribe karma but life has a way of teaching us lessons.

I never knew how selfish I was until my life was ripped away from me.

Taken.

I’m forced to watch as they torture and kill my family … and I know I’m next.

I hear their screams.

I watch them die.

It’s the worst kind of torture

Then he comes. He made a promise to my brother. It’s the only thing keeping him bound to me. 

A promise to protect me.

I should set him free of the promise … but I don’t. He’s my shield against karma. He’s my protector.

Purchase it

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Review

Themes: protector
Heat: ★★★
Rating:
 ★★★

Karma, now there’s a peculiar thing. I never knew how selfish I was until my life was ripped away from me.

Michelle Horst has been on my radar for a while but this is the first of her books I’ve had the chance to read. Plot-wise, I very much enjoyed it and found myself intrigued from the very beginning, particularly because it was so very bloodthirsty in a way I wasn’t entirely expecting. I also very much liked the sexual tension between Riley and Griffin, which was highly believable (and highly satisfying when they finally – and yes, I mean finally – indulged).

Death. It’s not a path to a better place like I always thought it would be. Death confines you. It suffocates all the warmth and happiness from you. Death is the end. There’s just nothing after it.

I struggled with the feeling that some of this was pretty overwritten, with an attempt to include so many moments of deep, profound prose, which for me became a little irritating and slightly infantilising – really, I just wanted to read the story, have the occasional “this is how grief feels, this is what I need to do to get over it” moment, but it felt like it was on repeat a little.

I also felt that some of the angst, particularly the final plot twist, was extraordinarily forced, and totally out of character. It was a completely unnecessary addition, and was too easily forgiven to have emotionally impacted me like other parts of this story.

Madness is a place where your soul goes to die. Insanity becomes a safe haven for your devastated mind.

Overall, a largely fantastic plot marred by a little forced angst and overwriting. Still a highly enjoyable read, with emotional and heartwarming moments and a passionate, believable love.

Dystopian, Political, Reviews, Romance, Suspense

Review: Dissident – Cecilia London

dissidentDissident by Cecilia London
Series: Bellator Saga #1
Genre: romantic suspense
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“I will always be with you…”

Rising Democratic star Caroline Gerard hasn’t had an easy year. After losing her husband, she is raising two small children alone while trying to navigate the tricky and sometimes shallow halls on Capitol Hill. A string of nasty speeches has her scrambling to apologize to any number of candidates, including newly elected Republican Jack McIntyre. Falling in love again is the last thing on her mind.

Jack McIntyre might have a reputation as a playboy, but he has his sights set solely on his new colleague. Can he break through Caroline’s grief and capture her heart?

Told mostly in flashback and set against a chilling fascist backdrop, Dissident is a rollercoaster ride of political intrigue, passionate contemporary romance, and undying love.

For readers 18+. Ends in a cliffhanger. The first part in a six book saga.

Purchase it

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Review

Subgenres: political, dystopia
Themes: friends to lovers, widowed
Heat: ★★
Rating: ★★★★

This is a book series I was totally unaware of until this month’s Quirky Blind Date with a Book. And I’m unbelievably glad I was part of it, because this is a highly original premise, and a pleasure to read.

“We take our relationships, our spouses, our partners for granted until one day, poof, it’s all over. Maybe we’d all be a little better off if we lived each day as if it might be the last.”

I felt somewhat overwhelmed when I first delved in, because my knowledge of the American political system is not great; but once I got used to the jargon and past the infodump found in the first few pages, I really managed to get into this.

Told mainly in the romantic past but bracketed with moments of intrigue and suspense set in the present, this book was structurally very interesting – removing the importance of the outcome of the relationship simply from the prologue, instead we are encouraged to become deeply invested in the development of the relationship; despite its angst, it becomes in some respects much less superficial. We can sit back and enjoy the ride and the conversation.

“You make me want to be a better human being. And I hope you’re willing to give me the chance to be the man I know you need me to be.”

Pace-wise, this is a slow-burner. Highly character-driven, we learn an unbelievable amount about the complexities of the many characters (and there were a lot of them – London’s biggest strength is her complex character-building skill), with the vast majority of the plot unfolding through conversation, yet never venturing into boredom.

My main complaint? The sex scenes were of the ‘fade to black’ variety, despite the hints at kink and general dirtiness. This was a huge shame to me because I like living out the climax and culmination of the slower relationship development. There was a lot of scope for this delving into eroticism, and I was left disappointed.

“Don’t judge my reading preferences. My Kindle is full of highly enjoyable, unequivocally filthy smut.”

Deep, slow and original, this first instalment succeeds in building an intriguingly teasing plotline while allowing us to fully know and invest ourselves in the characters and relationships (despite a disappointing lack of eroticism).