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Thursday, October 8, 2015

ARC Review: Claimed by Elle Kennedy

This is my first book by Elle Kennedy and is apparently also the start to her new Outlaws series. By way of background, the book presents a dystopian world in which some major event wiped out most forms of modern life to which we are accustomed. There are essentially two groups of people in the book, the city folks and the outlaws. The people in the city are “protected” but oppressed by the controlling military government which has become increasingly depraved. The people outside of the city, the outlaws, exist by evading the city military known as the enforcers. That is basically their task in life, avoid the enforcers, stay alive. There are no overarching principles to life as an outlaw, you’re just trying to make it tomorrow. As you can imagine, living everyday like it’s your last can lead to some pretty wild ish. That’s the background you need. Don’t be intimidated by the sci-fi themes, the book is not too farfetched and even though this isn’t my usual scene, I had no problem getting into things.

The main characters in this book are Hudson and Connor. Hudson is a refugee from the city. She escaped from the city because even though her brother was a top enforcer and her father was a founder of the city system, the depravity of the enforcers was threatening even her safety. Hudson ventures into the land of the outlaws and runs smack dab into Connor. She basically begs him to take her into his group of outlaws because she knows she can’t survive on her own. In addition to seeking safety, Hudson also wants the freedom that comes with the outlaw life. She has known nothing but the control of the city and she basically wants to get buck wild and naked. I mean, seriously.

Connor is the typical brooding alpha male commander type. He’s smart enough to know that taking on Hudson is probably going to bring trouble for him and his posse of outlaws but she’s hot and he does it anyway. Of course things escalate pretty quickly. Hudson is looking to get loose and Connor and his crew lead an extremely loose lifestyle. It’s only a matter of time before Hudson is observing orgies to participating in threesomes. All along Connor makes it clear that he isn’t looking for or interested in an attachment to Hudson.

I’m all for kink, smut etc. But I struggle with books where the Hero doesn’t mind sharing. I’m just not the right person for threesome books. The focus of this book is not at all on threesomes, it’s more about Hudson’s sexual exploration and Connor’s emotional exploration. But still, I just don’t like the sharing, it’s a turn off for me personally. Also, the sex was more about sex for the sake of sex and not because of any emotional attachment. That definitely serves a purpose but I enjoy romance with my sex and I just didn’t get enough of it for my taste. I’m still giving this book 4 stars because it was so well written, I loved the action and I loved what happened after Hudson’s true identity was revealed. The bottom line is that I was thoroughly entertained by this book and captivated by the story. So even despite my threesome aversion, this book is on my recommended reading list. I’ll probably check out future releases in the series.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | iTunes |

Guest Post with Author Laura Drewry and Giveaway

USA Today Bestselling author, Laura Drewry had been scribbling things for years before she decided to seriously sit down and write. After spending eight years in the Canadian north, Laura now lives back home in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, three sons, a turtle named Sheldon, and an extremely energetic German shepherd. She loves old tattered books, good movies, country music, and the New York Yankees.

Guest Post with Author Claire Kent and Giveaway

Claire Kent has been writing romance novels since she was twelve years old. She has a PhD in British literature and, when she’s not writing, teaches English at the university level. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Noelle Adams.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ARC Review: '90s Playlist by Brighton Walsh, Lorelie Brown, Amy Jo Cousins, Audra North, Rebecca Grace Allen and Jennifer Blackwood

I'm not too big on anthologies because of the length of the stories. I really wanted to give this one a shot though after reading which authors were a part of this one though. I have to say that these felt even shorter than most stories in anthologies though since there were six here. I really loved the '90s concept though, as I am a huge fan of all things '90s. It was great to see some things here that I hadn't thought about in forever, and I really enjoyed seeing all the different music referenced here. I will admit that I definitely had to listen to some of them as I read these. 

My Strongest Weakness-Brighton Walsh

Mason is the typical All-American Jock and Tia is his exact opposite, the goth girl. Yet despite their differences, they find themselves drawn together in a way they aren't with anyone else. They live by a set of rules to keep others from finding out what is going on between them, but before long real feelings are starting to develop and Tia wants more. But is Mason willing to risk everything by letting others see how he really feels about her? 

I really liked this short story from Brighton Walsh. I always enjoy her books, and she proved to me what a talented writer she was here with this one being so quick of a read. I was really surprised with the amount of depth and feeling she was able to show here between Mason and Tia, and I really felt like these two were it for each other. They were really sexy together, and I liked seeing them get to know one another better too. My only complaint here is that even though this was really great for being so short, I would have loved more. This opposites attract story was romantic and emotional, and I enjoyed it a lot. 

Creep-Lorelie Brown

Roni and Tom meet when Tom shows up at the shop where Roni works looking for his brother Corey. Roni knows Corey as her drug dealer Skittles, and is reluctant to give information to Tom. She is attracted to Tom though, and gives him some information on where he might run into Corey/Skittles. The attraction between Roni and Tom is instant, and she finds herself drawn to him.   

This one was flat out confusing, and it didn't really go anywhere or explain anything. It made no sense to me and ended right where the story seemed to start. I have no idea if this story is continued anywhere by Lorelie Brown, or if this is all there is. The whole thing with Roni and Tom didn't work for me, and I didn't feel like they had any connection at all. It was too instant, and honestly just seemed out of nowhere. The situation with Tom and Corey/Skittles was never briefly and partially explained, but it was never resolved. If this one hadn't been so short, I would have ended up not finishing. I also hated how casual the use of drugs was here, and the fact that pretty much everyone seemed to be okay with it. This one was a miss for me. 

The Belle vs. The BDOC-Amy Jo Cousins

Shelby wants Florence, but Florence is convinced that Shelby is straight. So Shelby sets out to make Florence notice her and finally realize that she is also a lesbian. But what starts out as Shelby putting together a team to beat Florence on trivia night quickly escalates, and soon Shelby and Florence are not only competing at trivia. But can Shelby show Florence that she wants more than to just beat her?

This was one that I just couldn't connect with at all. I don't read a lot of F/F stories, but I don't have anything against them. For me though, I wasn't really feeling the connection between Florence and Shelby here. Florence was super judgmental, and flat out awful to Shelby at times. I didn't understand why Shelby would continue to want her after everything. I just didn't really care for the characters or the story here, and this was another case of it being just short enough that I was able to finish. 

Worthwhile-Audra North 

Just as Jill begins a semester abroad, the boyfriend she traveled there for dumps her. Two weeks into her semester and she is ready to return home, but she stumbles into the arms of sexy Stuart. As Jill and Stuart get to know one another, sparks begin to fly and soon Jill is glad that she decided to stay. But is Jill ready to move on with Stuart, or is she still hung up on her recent ex? 

I really liked Jill and Stuart. They were great together, and Stuart was such a good guy. This story was short, but really sweet and I enjoyed it a lot. Stuart and Jill's connection was quick, but it felt very real and believable to me. I loved how cute they were together, and this was definitely one of my favorites of the entire anthology. I would have loved for these two to have been given a full story though, as I was really curious to see where things would go from here for them. I also found myself wishing that we had been given Stuart's POV, as I would have loved to have seen what was going on in his head. 

Smells Like Teen Spirit-Rebecca Grace Allen 

Rory is working a dead end job in the town where she graduated college. One night she meets James, a sexy singer about to graduate from the same college she went to. They instantly hit it off, but Rory is scared to allow herself to feel anything for him after all that she has been through with her parents. She has always felt lonely and abandoned, but James makes her want more. Can Rory and James have something together or will it be over before it ever really begins? 

I liked James and Rory. These two were super hot together, and the chemistry between them was explosive. I thought that they also had a great connection though, and I enjoyed seeing them get to know one another. Rory loved poetry and James loved music, and they seemed to always be able to relate to one another and discuss their passions. James and Rory's connection felt real to me, but it was a bit rushed. I did feel as though these two were meant for each other though, and I would have liked to have seen a bit more down the road for them after where things left off here. 

Little Red Thong-Jennifer Blackwood

As Emily, her brother Drew, her best friend and her brother's best friend Chase set out on a spring break cruise, they each set out to win a game of spring break bingo. There are several things that they must each accomplish in order to win, but with each of them being competitive they will do whatever it takes to win. Chase has always liked Emily, but he knows that he needs to stay away from her as the sister of his best friend. Emily finds herself drawn to Chase though, and is interested to see where things could go between them. But will Chase risk his friendship with Drew in order to see what he could finally have with Emily?

I love stories about heroines falling for their brother's best friend, so I couldn't wait to read this one. It was really good, and I liked the characters a lot. I loved that Chase had grown up with Emily and Drew, so they had a lot of history together. That made this super short story about them seem real and believable to me in a way that it might not have been had they just met. Because they already had a connection, it didn't feel rushed. Chase and Emily were cute together and they had a lot of chemistry. My only complaint here is the same as most of the stories in this anthology, in that I wanted more. I would have loved to have seen what happened after the cruise was over and they returned to their lives at home. I didn't doubt that they could handle the distance, yet it would have been nice to see. 


Overall, this was a good anthology and I really enjoyed four of the six stories here. I wish that those had been longer though, and that was my biggest complaint for them. There were two of the stories here that just didn't do it for me though, and I probably wouldn't have finished those if it wasn't for how short they were. I would still recommend this anthology for the other stories though, and I will definitely be checking out other works by those authors.

**ARC Provided by Xpresso Book Tours**

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ARC Review: Raging Sea by Terri Brisbin

Raging Sea is the second book to Terri Brisbin's Stone Circles series. These books incorporate the mysterious Stone Circles found throughout Europe (a common one people recognize is Stonehenge). Brisbin created this premise of ancient Gods who worked together to protect humanity from one of their own who sought to destroy them. They had to trap her, because they could not kill her. Well now many years later, Chaela is trying to break free of her cage.

This particular book follows Ran and Soren who used to be lovers several years ago. Soren broke Ran's heart so she decided to leave her home and work on one of her father's ships. Two years after she left she comes back home for the first time. A week prior to her return, Soren lost his grandfather. He is very sad, but his grandfather left behind a lot of cryptic messages that he begins to pore over. Both Soren and Ran have some extraordinary experiences which leave them with knew unfamiliar powers.

Together the two must work to seal off the Stone Circle that Chaela is trying to escape through, and work through their past romantically because the two tasks are deeply connected. I really felt the chemistry between Soren and Ran. Brisbin was amazing with keeping Soren's secrets. She just lets you have a taste, then a little later a few more crumbs, and so on until you finally understand what Soren went through. The heat level is pretty high in my opinion, but it was done very well. Some experiences were a little odd in that the couple's powers took over and were described vaguely. The only thing I wished was for some more memories between the two of how they fell in love the first time.

I truly enjoyed this book much more than the first installment. I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next. This historical is also a fantasy, so definitely be prepared for that. It is possible to read this book without reading the first one, but I wouldn't recommend it. I highly anticipate reading the next book Blazing Earth, but the end of Raging Sea got me dying to read about what happens in the fourth book. At least I think it will be covered in the fourth book. We will see!

**ARC provided by Author**

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