Saturday, August 27, 2016

ARC Review: Ruthless by Lexi Blake

Ruthless is a really fun ride for all you readers who love contemporary romance that crosses over into suspense. There are layers upon layers of secrets, lots of action, some drama and some smoking hot sex. After reading this book, I am positive I will return to this series for more! Don't freak out that this is part of a series, it is a standalone read.

The series and this book is about the Lawless siblings. All of the brothers are sexy, dominating alpha males....with issues, of course. There is one sister who is married to yet another bossy alpha male. The whole family has been through some really rough times. The siblings' parents were murdered when they were younger and they were in the house when it happened. Their father got blamed for murdering their mother and trying to kill them but the siblings know that's not what really happened. They have made their life's mission to find out who really murdered their parents and destroy that person.

Enter Ellie. Ellie, by virtue of her birth, finds herself (unknowingly) in the Lawless revenge cross hairs. The Lawless' and Riley Lawless in particular believe that Ellie's father was involved in the murder of their parents. Unfortunately, Ellie's father is dead so Riley decides to exact his revenge plan on Ellie. Now, clearly this posed problems for me right away. I thought it was stupid to take out the sins of the Father on the daughter. I also thought it was short sighted considering the complexities surrounding the murder and the fact that Ellie was a kid who couldn't have been involved.

Don't worry though. When Riley meets Ellie it is instant attraction. Riley is drawn to Ellie in a way he has not been drawn to any other woman. Ellie is strong and smart but still has a soft tender side that appeals to Riley. As Riley gets to know Ellie, he finds out that she was as much her father's victim as he and his siblings were. Of course that shifts Riley's perspective and makes him want to protect Ellie instead of destroying her life. Sadly, sometimes once you set certain things in motion, it's impossible to just press the pause button.So Riley kind of does wind up causing Ellie some major problems. I won't spoil it for you but the journey back from the mess the Lawless siblings make of Riley's life is thrilling and entertaining.

I love the connection that develops between Riley and Ellie. I also appreciated that not everything could be wrapped up in a neat bow. There is a HEA but it cost both characters somewhere to get there. Riley is hot. The sex is steamy and the romance is great. I love Lexi Blake and I suggest you get into this series by her.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: King of Wall Street by Louise Bay

I am a huge fan of Louise Bay's! Every time I see that she has a new book, I automatically add to my TBR list. But I have to admit that I was really excited about King of Wall Street. I could not put this one down, and I think readers are going to enjoy this one just as much as I did! 

Max King is the King of Wall Street. He is always right and rules the boardroom as well as the bedroom. But at home, Max is a single dad just trying to keep his teenage daughter out of trouble and a kid as long as possible. When Harper Jayne starts working at his firm, he knows that he is in trouble. While she infuriates him like no woman before, he finds himself more drawn to her than he would like. But the more he tries to fight it, the harder it is to keep things professional. 

Max was hot! Sexy and alpha, he definitely knows how to rule those around him. But Max was also sweet and caring and I absolutely loved him. It was so refreshing to see an alpha that could be commanding but didn't turn into a controlling jerk that I couldn't stand. Harper had her moments for me though, and while I liked her for the most part I did get a bit frustrated with her at times. The chemistry between them was off the charts, but Harper had some issues that had her making some annoying decisions along the way. 

Overall, this was a great book like everything I have read from Louise Bay and I highly recommend it. Louise Bay is fantastic at writing sexy stories filled with emotion and substance to keep you turning the pages, and King of Wall Street had everything that I look for in a great romance novel. If you haven't read anything by her before, you are seriously missing out. If you are already a fan, this is one you must read! I already can't wait to see what she writes next.

**ARC Provided by Social Butterfly PR**

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Feature and Giveaway: Roadside Assistance by Marie Harte

Underneath the axle grease and tats
He’s a gentleman

Foley Sanders figured he’ll always be content with a life of cars and casual hookups. Until a run-in with Cyn, a statuesque firecracker with a hate-on for men, leaves him bewitched and intrigued—much to her annoyance.

Maybe Cynthia Nichols was a little hard on Foley, that muscular, tattooed, super-hot mechanic next door. But she’s tired of feeling defensive about her size and has sworn off men. She’s got a new job, new life, perfect plan. Foley has trouble written all over him—no way is she going to fall for his charms.

Foley might look like a bad idea, but underneath, he’s all gentleman. Too bad Cyn’s not buying it. What’s a bad boy to do when the goddess of his dreams won’t give him the time of day?

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Friday, August 26, 2016

ARC Review: It Started with a Scandal by Julie Anne Long

I started “It Started with a Scandal” by Julie Anne Long almost a year ago. I’ve read Long before and have to confess was not a big fan. I read one contemporary and one historical and neither one really worked for me. When I started “It Started with A Scandal” I left it off because I couldn’t really grasp the heroine and Long’s writing style felt very wordy for me. When “It Started with A Scandal” won the RITA for short historical romance my interest was piqued but I was reading something else and didn’t look for it in my files. One-day last week I stumbled across it and it blew me away. It’s been a while since I’ve woken up earlier than necessary to read and later than I should because I could not put a book down. Yes, I’ve read books I’ve enjoyed but this book was AMAZING. I guess timing is everything sometimes.

The heroine, Elise Fountain. She is a single mother. She was working as a teacher at a school for girls when she was fired because of her past. No work and with a child, Jack, she is forced to look for other means of employment. In comes Lord Philippe Lavay. Philippe is a member of the Bourbon family (aristocratic family in France.) He was a soldier and fought hard but through different circumstances his homes were taken away from his family and now he is living in England. Philippe is a very, very, very complicated man. He has physical and emotional injuries. Because of his very difficult temperament he is not able to keep a housekeeper to run his household; no one is desperate enough for the job. Except Elise.

Elise has the odds stalked against her. Her family abandoned her when they found out she was pregnant. She has no job because of an issue with one of her past pupils. She has a young child that needs her care and finally she just got a job that has been almost impossible to fill because of the very difficult circumstances of Lord Lavay. Fortunate or unfortunate for her, she has to make this job work even if it means turning the entire staff upside down.

I loved Elise. She was strong and very proud. She was determined to learn from her past mistakes but at the same time she didn’t let her past break her. She was a very strong woman. Even when her feelings for Lavay begin to overwhelm her, she is determined not to make the same mistake twice. Lavay was crazy. He was so difficult and infuriating but ultimately he was not match for Elise. He had very difficult choices to make because his sister depended on him. Because of the revolution, many of his family members have died and she is all he has left. This is a responsibility he takes very, very seriously. Long really took her time in developing Elise and Lavay’s relationship. Every conversation, every description was very precise and influential. There were so many beautiful scenes that I found myself highlighting paragraphs throughout the story. The banter between them is hilarious and lyrical. I have to say this is one of my favorite romance stories. I’m so glad that I came back to it and looked at it with fresh eyes. I’m currently in the process of re-reading it because I want to experience the story all over again! Fantastic and very memorable read.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: Wait by A.L. Jackson

Wait is the fourth book in the Bleeding Stars series by A.L. Jackson. This is the first book that I have read in the series, and it can be read as a standalone. I do think that this book might have been better experienced when read in order, but it isn't necessary to enjoy it. 

Edie and Austin had a connection that was unbreakable, until everything changed. Austin broke Edie's heart and her trust, and when she ran he thought that he would never see her again. Years later, neither of them expects to spot each other from across the room while Austin is on stage and Edie is standing in the crowd. Even though Edie knows she should run, she finds herself drawn to Austin once again. Austin knows that he destroyed everything, but he is determined to get her back even if that means waiting for her to learn how to trust him again. 

Austin and Edie both had pasts that had huge impacts on who they were and I really felt for both of them. Their connection was so strong, and no matter what had happened or how much time had passed it remained unbroken. Each of them had so much depth, and I thought that A.L. Jackson did a great job of creating these complex characters that had so many layers to them, revealed over the course of this book. Getting each of their POVs here really added to the story, and I felt as though I was experiencing everything right along with them. I will say that this one was an emotional journey, and I felt it all right from the start. 

The one thing I will say is that at times things were a bit slow here and I struggled a bit at the beginning to get into this book. A.L. Jackson has a tendency to be a bit vague and tease the reader a bit before revealing much of anything, and there were times that I was a bit confused and frustrated. Luckily I felt invested in the story and characters and had to find out all the details of both the past and where things were going in the present, and I stuck with it. Things picked up and then I didn't want to put it down! A.L. Jackson has a way with words, and her stories are beautiful. This one definitely brought out all the emotions, and I think that readers will really enjoy this book. I look forward to reading more from A.L. Jackson, and I can't wait to read more in this series!

**ARC Provided by Inkslinger PR**

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Feature and Giveaway: Wait by A.L. Jackson

She is his strength and he is her weakness. And this time he won’t let her go.

Edie Evans is gorgeous.
She’s also the definition of off-limits.
But that didn’t stop me from sneaking into her room to comfort her at night.
But guys like me? We destroy everything, so it should have been no surprise when I destroyed us, too.
The night I sent her running, I thought I’d never see her again.
Until I saw her standing like a vision in the crowd.

Austin Stone is dangerous.
He broke my heart and I refused to give him the chance to do it again.
It’s been years since I’ve seen him, and now I can’t do anything but stare at the gorgeous, tattooed man playing onstage. I should run. I know I should. But like a fool, I run straight back to him.
Our desire is overpowering.
Our need unrelenting.

She is my hope.
He is my weakness.
We should have known a passion this intense would burn us right into the ground.

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Feature and Giveaway: Fatal Courage by Misty Evans

He ruined her career…

In twenty-one missions, CIA golden girl Ruby McKellen has failed only once. Thanks to Navy SEAL Jaxon Sloan, the man who stole her heart and forced her to choose between him and her partner Elliot, she’s on probation and Elliot is in prison for national security crimes. To prove Elliot’s innocence and save her damaged career, Ruby is running an unsanctioned mission—but the only way to get the proof she needs is to go to Jax with her tail between her legs.

She wrecked his heart…

Jaxon left the Navy after the mission with Ruby in Morocco went south, but that one hot, unbelievable night with her will haunt him forever. Working for Shadow Force International now, his new assignment has brought him full circle—the CIA operative Jax’s testimony sent to prison has escaped and Jax has been ordered to hunt him down. Just like in Morocco, the one thing standing in his way is Ruby.

A second chance at love could prove fatal…

When Ruby’s life is threatened and Jax stumbles on information that might prove Elliot is innocent, guilt over putting the man in prison compels him to join her unsanctioned mission. What really happened that night six months ago? Is Elliot an honorable spy or a mastermind at manipulation? Ruby is the only one who can help Jax navigate the world of undercover lies and betrayal to find the truth.

In a battle of wills—and of hearts—Jax and Ruby must have the courage to face the truth about themselves, their past, and what it really means to betray someone you love.

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ARC Review: Under the Lights by Abbi Glines

It is so hard for me to write this review. I honestly could not wait to read Under the Lights by Abbi Glines. Not only is Until Friday Night one of my favorite reads of last year, but it is one of my favorite books ever! I love this world that Abbi created, but honestly Under the Lights was so disappointing that I almost didn't finish it. This book felt nothing like the first one, and I am so sad that a book I was greatly anticipating let me down like I felt this one did. 

This story centers around Willa, Gunner, and Brady. They were all friends as children, but things have changed for all of them as they have grown older and choices they made altered the paths they were on. But as secrets start to be revealed, all of them will have to face the truth, even if it means losing each other forever. 

Part of my problem here was the fact that we got all three POVs for these characters, and it just felt like too much. It wasn't necessary and just seemed to muddle the story for me. I also felt like this book was so slow and drawn out, yet when it came down to it the relationship here felt rushed. I don't know how exactly that was possible, but it happened here. The characters were immature and their actions were often times over the top. While the first book felt genuine and so real that I loved everything about it, this story felt as though it was constant drama and immaturity. Things got to the point of being ridiculous and it just felt forced. I also really dislike how Abbi's books have a tendency to make every girl in them out to be so awful, even the heroines to some extent. That is definitely thAmae case with this series and it was more apparent than ever here. I don't know why she seems to need to make them all out to be different versions of the stereotypical mean girl or horrible human beings in general, but there were very few exceptions to that here. 

Overall, I am just really upset with how things went here. I had been so excited for this book, and I really had to force myself to finish. If it wasn't for my absolute love for the first book in this series, I really think this would have been a DNF for me. There were so many times I wanted to stop reading, but I just kept hoping this one would get better. I will continue this series as I do love the world she has created, but this one just wasn't what I had been expecting or hoping for at all. I also had several issues with Abbi's recent Rosemary Beach book Up In Flames. I am hoping that she gets back to what her writing used to be as it seems like her newer books just aren't working for me like her past books have. It makes it hard to take a chance on her books when the price is so steep for them as well. I do think that Abbi is a talented writer, but unfortunately her books seem to be really hit or miss for me with me either loving or hating them.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

ARC Review: A Man of Character by Margaret Locke

Catherine Schreiber is a middle aged woman who was scorned by love and hasn't been back on the playing field for about six years. Her life changes incredibly when she receives a package from her deceased father that her mother found looking through old possessions. It's a very old manuscript written in Latin that her father had planned to gift her on her 25th birthday, ten years ago. It takes her some time to translate it, but some weird things begin to happen.

Cat is asked out on three dates by three different men in a matter of a couple of weeks. Oddly though, the first two vaguely remind her of stories she wrote when she was younger. It's very weird and she begins to question her sanity. She enjoys the attention, but she's not sure if its real. All the while there is a handsome (but apparently taken) guy, Ben, frequenting her favorite coffee shop. She is definitely attracted to him, but refuses to even consider him because she doesn't want to be "the other woman".

Margaret Locke's idea to create this power and story is very clever. I was constantly wanting more, because I wasn't sure if the power was real or not for quite some time. I loved all of the characters and I found much of this book to be funny. I was disappointed in the amount of focus there was on the other guys in Cat's life. I just wanted more interaction with Ben! Locke really immersed me into her world which is hard for me to do with a contemporary setting. I really wanted to be in that book store and coffee shop with the characters.

I'm very glad I was introduced to this unique book! I am excited to delve into the sequel which follows the adventure of Cat's best friend. Beware though readers! Margaret Locke will have you infected with curiosity for her other characters and what happened to them! (I guess that's smart on her part.)

**ARC provided by Author**

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Feature: Cupcake Overload by Bethany Lopez

One night I was out with my girls enjoying a much needed ladies night while wondering if one more dirty martini would push me over the edge. The next thing I knew, I was in the club’s bathroom listening to a woman screaming, “No,” and a man’s voice growling, “I know you want it.”

That asshole picked the wrong restroom, in the wrong club, at the wrong time.

Little did I know the asshole was Cade’s VP, and although we saved that woman from his clutches that night, she’d be found floating in a motel pool a month later.

Running a PI firm is a lot harder than taking pictures for one, especially when your professional life spills over into your personal one. I’m going through cupcakes like our new puppy goes through piddle pads, and if I’m not careful there’s bound to be a Cupcake Overload.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ARC Review: Wild Licks by Cecilia Tan

I’m really not sure how I feel about this book. My feelings actually changed as the book went on. When the book started Gwen has a super hot affair with Mal but but….I don’t know, I loved the sexiness of it but her practicing her acting skills on him (read to find out about that), struck me as kind of stupid.  Gwen as a character just generally started irritating me. Gwen is strong and assertive AND submissive. She knows what she wants AND she puts up with Mal’s extreme wishy washiness.  I was having a hard time understanding her character. And then, the whole acting thing just goes seriously overboard.  I get how it started but then how the heck was it supposed to be believable after Mal heard her voice.  She wasn’t using a voice disguiser, she just had on a costume. How did she think Mal would not recognize her voice?

Speaking of Mal, the level of irritation I have for him is almost unparalleled. We rarely see a male character who is so reluctant to face his own feelings. Mal wants Gwen. He wants her before he knows who she is and he wants her after he knows it’s her. She is perfect for him. She is a lady in the streets and a super freak in the sheets. A match made in heaven for the very kinky Mal who likes to tie his woman up while playing with fire and knives. All of which Gwen loves. But Mal had a bad experience with a previous relationship (WHO HASN’T?) and has convinced himself that what he wants isn’t normal and that any woman who would let him do those things has some deep issues. Be that as it may, isn’t love all about finding someone whose crazy matches yours? The fact that Mal couldn’t accept that he had found the perfect woman for him despite his total inability to stay away from her really started bothering me. I was specifically ready to punch/slap him when he accused Gwen of stalking him when they were at the same party. Dude, nobody is thinking about you. He was on my nerves.

A crazy thing happens in this book. Gwen and her sister open a sex dungeon/club thing. I love sex club books but honestly I think I must have accidentally skipped a few pages. One minute Gwen and her sister are just normal sisters, the next minute they are running a full scale dungeon. And then to make a weird situation weirder, Mal and his band join. Mal is trying his absolute hardest to stay away from Gwen but decides it would be a good idea to join her sex club. HOW? Of course the minute Mal gets to the club, he’s flogging Gwen and then banging her brains out.

I just, I don’t know. There are some parts of this book that are really good. But when you put all the pieces of this story together and try to make it one story and combine it with Mal’s character flaws, I just didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I wanted to.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens

I was so excited when I found out that S.C. Stephens had a new book coming out. I am a huge fan of hers, and Furious Rush looked and sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately I have been struggling with this book from the very start and ended up having to throw in the towel. Right now this book just isn't working for me at all, and I couldn't finish it. Hopefully at some point I can give it another chance, since I have loved books from S.C. Stephens so much in the past. 

As the daughter of a racing legend, Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. The last thing she needs is to deal with the sexy new driver that has been hired by her team's biggest rival. Hayden Hayes gets under her skin immediately, insinuating that she is a princess that has only been successful due to her daddy. But the more these two are around each other, the harder it becomes to stay away from one another. When the most important rule to their teams is to never have any contact with the enemy, Mackenzie and Hayden struggle with their growing attraction to one another and where the connection between them could possibly go. 

I will admit that my biggest issue in this story was the characters. I didn't like Mackenzie. She seemed to have no backbone, letting those around her walk all over her and get away with whatever they felt like. All the while she had a total attitude towards Hayden and made a ton of assumptions about him. She came off as completely immature and I just couldn't warm up to her. Hayden was a jerk. Rude and judgmental, making assumptions of his own. He was sexist and awful, and I felt zero connection between these two. I also couldn't stand the secondary characters here. Mackenzie's friends were horrible. They were worse than she was and I got so tired of how idiotic they all were. Their actions were beyond frustrating, and the fact that Kenzie let them just do whatever really irritated me. Unfortunately this started immediately with the beginning of this book, and it just continued to get worse. If her friends weren't bad enough, her father was even worse. She wanted nothing more than to continue the family legacy and make him proud and he was absolutely awful to her. Why she felt like she needed to impress him after the way he treated her, I will never understand. 

With all the issues I had with the characters, I had to put this book down and move on. There was just nothing to keep me wanting to finish this book, and it just wasn't working for me. I was so disappointed because I think S.C. Stephens is a great writer. For some reason this book just wasn't clicking for me, and that could just be for me personally. I tried walking away and coming back, but after several times or trying to get into Furious Rush I ended up setting it aside at a little after 30%. If this book sounds like something you might like, I encourage you to give it a go. Not every book is for every person, and this one might work better for you than it did for me. I did see that while this one does have an ending, it was pretty abrupt and is more HFN than HEA and it looks as though this might continue since things were left open for more. With the way I struggled here, I am not sure that I will be able to get into this one eventually or continue on if this does become a series.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

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