Saturday, November 26, 2016

ARC Review: Taken by Cynthia Eden

I love this series, I love the dark and gritty, thrilling serial killer story with a touch of romance. I love Cynthia Eden’s suspense. This series in particular the emotions run high, the tension is thick, and murders are gruesome. Nothing is easy and the plot is twisty and plenty of red herrings. I can always count on Cynthia Eden for a great thriller and a hot romance.

L.O.S.T. is approached by a young woman who amazingly survived a serial killer. Bailey Jones was taken and tortured by a stroke of luck she survived. Bailey has been adamant that there was another woman there with her at the cabin and she tried to save her during her initial escape but ultimately this other woman left her behind and Bailey wants LOST to help her find this missing woman. Asher Young one of the newest members of LOST is assigned to Bailey, like most of the members of LOST Asher has a dark past, but unlike some of the others he never hid his past. Asher has always been the hero, even if he doesn’t see himself as one. He doesn’t think he deserves a good and normal life but everything about Bailey has him wishing he could have a HEA. The attraction is instantaneous on Asher’s side; everything about Bailey calls to Asher to protect her and love her. He tries to keep things professional but when Bailey herself gives into temptation the job no longer matters the only thing that matters is keeping Bailey alive even if it means risking his life to keep her alive.

This was a really good one, it keeps up with the style of the series and has a nice twist. Bailey escapes one serial killer when suddenly more people start dying and Bailey is the main target of what looks like a copycat trying to finish what the first one started. Asher is trying to keep Bailey alive and to help track down the killer in this new string of murders LOST sends in Ana as back-up, Sarah to help profile the new killer, and Victoria to talk to the dead. Together with the local sheriff they manage to figure things out in this twisty turning story with lies that cover deceit and murder with a complete surprise (to me at least) outcome.

Overall, I was absolutely satisfied with this book. I probably would have stayed up all night reading if I wasn’t so tired that night. I loved Asher and Bailey and (although I rarely read the sneak peek) I read the first chapter of the next book damn I can’t wait for it.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: What If It's Right by JB Heller

What If It's Right is the first book that I have ever read from JB Heller, but I really loved it! I am such a sucker for forbidden romance stories, and this one was everything I had been hoping for! I couldn't put this book down, and I had to know if these two would wind up together and get the HEA they deserved. 

When Victoria's sister dies, she is left to care for her nephew. As the two move forward with their lives, Tory becomes his mom and they move away to start fresh. Finn quickly becomes best friends with their neighbor Weston, while Victoria becomes best friends with Weston's mom Vera. But as Weston and Finn grown up, Weston finds himself falling in love with Tory. Though Tory know it is wrong and has done everything she can to deny the way Weston feels for her, she can't deny the special connection that she feels to Weston. But even though they both know it is wrong, what if it's actually right? 

I really loved these characters. From the very start I felt invested in their story and I had to know what was going to happen for all of them. The relationships in this story were so solid and interesting, and I just loved every single one of them! I loved Tory and Finn. They had always been close, but her stepping in to raise him just made their connection that much stronger. I was so glad that they had each other to lean on. Finn and Weston just instantly worked as best friends. Their friendship was just one of those that you hope everyone finds. Weston and Tory though had a natural ease to their relationship right from the start. Though it started when Weston was young, there was nothing inappropriate about it and their feelings for one another grew and changed as they got older. I know some might be worried about how their relationship came about, but trust me when I tell you that nothing happened between these two until they were both legal adults and it was so genuine and real. These two were so great together, and you really just have to experience their story to see it for yourself. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and would highly recommend it. If you are a fan of forbidden romance stories, this is definitely one you are going to want to check out. It was emotional and deep, and was about more than just a physical attraction. These two really cared about one another, and connected on every level, making this a love story and not just smut. My one criticism that kept this one from being a 5 star read for me though was that I did feel like Tory pushed Weston away a bit too much once things finally started to progress. She put off talking to Finn and continued to push Weston away when she didn't need to, but luckily Weston never gave up. Other than that though I really did love this book. I think that this is one that a lot of readers will enjoy, and I am definitely going to be reading more from JB Heller in the future.

**ARC Provided by Give Me Books Promotions**

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Feature and Giveaway: First Step Forward by Liora Blake

Pro-football player Cooper Lowry is off the field and into some trouble—in the form of a very alluring, very free-spirited apple orchard owner named Whitney Reed—in the first installment in Liora Blake’s all new Grand Valley series.

After eight seasons playing pro-football, Cooper Lowry knows all the right answers.

Is he stubborn, short-tempered, and impatient? Yes. Are jersey chasers more trouble than they’re worth? Absolutely. Has he ever imagined a life beyond the game? Nope.

Cooper has built an enviable career—the result of staying focused, working hard, and keeping his head on straight—even as his body takes the brunt. So when a hard hit during a Sunday home game leaves him in a dazed heap on the field, it’s nothing more than another day at the office. The only thing that’s different about this Sunday is a chance encounter with a certain fascinating, beautiful free-spirited woman. And some sternly-worded instructions from his coach to take a little time off and give his body the TLC it craves—before he does lasting damage.

Whitney Reed is a few months away from losing the organic fruit orchard she bought three years ago in the tiny town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. At the time, she was just looking for a place to get lost. Instead, she found a home, somewhere she could finally put down roots. Now foreclosure is knocking on her door—along with a grumpy, gorgeous football player who might be just what she never knew she needed.

A charming love story for romance and sports fans alike, First Step Forward is a sexy, heartwarming romp perfect for readers of Jennifer Probst, Kristan Higgins, and Julie James.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

ARC Review: Hard Compromise by Samanthe Beck

This is my first book by this author and I was pleased to make her acquaintance. Hard Compromise has an interesting twist from the beginning. Ethan meets Laurie when she is an impulsive teenager with too little parental guidance and too much time on her hands. Ethan steps in to save her from herself and becomes her guardian angel for the next 10 years. The thing that made me happy is that Ethan doesn't come off as creepy at all. There is no relationship between this couple until everybody is fully grown and ready to get down to business. I loved how Ethan waited the exact 10 years that he promised Laurie he would wait before showing up to claim her.

As for Laurie, she is the story of how having a hot mess for a parent can really mess up your whole life. Laurie is committed to not having a relationship because she has TRUST ISSUES. Her trust issues are the result of being abandoned by everybody who was supposed to take care of her. And don't get me started on Laurie's Mother. Laurie's mom missed the memo where she was supposed to take care of her daughter and not the other way around. Laurie can't resist the physical chemistry she has with Ethan but what she can definitely resist is Ethan's desire for a relationship. Even though Ethan and Laurie are pretty much inseparable from the point of their initial hook up, Laurie does everything she can to sabotage the union.

Speaking of Ethan, he is quintessential book boyfriend material. Ethan is strong and passionate. He is also super rich (never hurts) and a all around good guy. Oh did I mention he's fine as hell? Well yes that too. In reality....LOL, never mind, there are no guys like Ethan in reality. Anyway, moving on from whatever that thought was, just rest assured that you will fall in love for a few hours during this book. You will probably spend most of this book praying that Laurie can pull her issues together and learn to trust. I think you'll love Ethan's mom and the rest of the supporting characters and really enjoy this book.

P.S.-That scene at the wedding at the end of the book is something I would pull out a pistol and shoot someone for if they did at my wedding.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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Audiobook Review: Gemini by Penelope Ward, Narrated by Eric Michael Summerer and Therese Plummer

I can't believe I am just now getting to the first books in Penelope Ward's Gemini series, and I probably went about this whole thing the wrong way. While each book is a standalone story and can be read out of order, I have learned so much about characters after going back and reading the books in which they were first introduced. I started with Jake's story and then read Skylar's, just now getting to Gemini. The one thing I can tell you is that regardless of the order I have experienced them in, I absolutely adore this world that Penelope Ward has created and I love each of these characters so much! 

Eric Michael Summerer and Therese Plummer did such a great job of bringing both Cedric and Allison alive in their interpretation of Gemini, and I could not stop listening as they told this beautiful story. Allison is a waitress working at the Stardust diner while hoping to one day get back to school to fulfill her passion of working with special needs children. One day a beautiful man with the bluest eyes walks in and her world changes. As Cedric and Allison get to know one another, the pull between them is like nothing either of them has ever experienced before and soon they are unable to stay away from one another. But Cedric is keeping a secret that changes everything once it is finally revealed. 

Allison and Cedric's connection was instant, and their chemistry explosive. These two had so much between them right away, but it was so natural and genuine. You could see that it was so much more than anything they had felt before, and I didn't feel as though things happened too quickly. These two were meant to be together, and they had so much that threatened to stand in their way. Allison was so sweet and kind, the kind of heroine that is good through and through. It was clear why Cedric fell in love with her and couldn't help feeling as drawn to her as he was. Cedric was sexy and sweet, and although he made some questionable decisions, I felt like I understood him. His love for Allison was clear in everything he did, even if I didn't always agree with his choices. The kind of connection that these two had is so rare and special, and I couldn't get enough. 

Overall, I honestly wasn't sure that I would have much interest in these characters as they didn't really stand out to me in Jake's story. While I liked them, they were such a minor part that I really only started this one because I wanted to see how things happened for them and all that led up to Jake's book. But once I started listening I was instantly hooked and I ended up loving their story every bit as much as Jake's. While I recommend all of Penelope's books, Gemini now holds such a special place in my heart and will always be one of my favorites. These narrators were fantastic and I can't imagine experiencing this story for the first time in any other way. Each spoke clearly and brought so much personality to each of the characters with their performances. I was amazed at their ability to differentiate so clearly between them that I was always able to tell exactly who was in each scene. I honestly cannot recommend this book or these narrators enough, and I cannot wait to listen to more from each of them. Penelope Ward is a great writer that I recommend checking out immediately if you haven't already, and Eric and Therese are now two of my favorite narrators I have ever listened to.

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Feature and Giveaway: Hard Compromise by Samanthe Beck

A Compromise Me novel by USA Today bestselling author Samanthe Beck

Laurie Peterson assumes her impulsive one-night stand with sinfully sexy Sheriff Ethan Booker is the biggest surprise of the year…until her bakery burns down while she’s basking in the afterglow. It looks like her dreams are up in smoke, but then Ethan proposes a deal too tempting to resist.

Ethan has no intention of settling for a one-night stand with Laurie. Nor does he want anything to do with the women his wealthy family wants him to meet. Not when he’s waited ten years for his chance to make his move. His deal might have strings—and Laurie may not know the stakes—but nothing will stop this sexy cop from staking a real claim on her body and her heart.

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Feature and Giveaway: The Duke of Deception by Darcy Burke

After five years on the Marriage Mart, Miss Aquilla Knox is ready for spinsterhood until a benefactress steps in to help her secure a husband. Only Aquilla doesn’t actually want to marry—her failure is entirely on purpose. When the earl she’s nicknamed the Duke of Deception sets his sights on her, she refuses to be drawn in by her attraction to him. If there’s one thing she knows it’s that a gentleman is never what he seems.

Edward Bishop, Earl of Sutton, has a reputation for courting young misses and dropping them without a second thought. This has earned him a reputation for deceit, a description he can’t refute because he does in fact, harbor secrets and will do anything—deceive anyone—to ensure they don’t come to light. As he comes to know the charming Miss Knox, his resolve is tested. However, trust comes at a price and Ned won’t pay with his heart.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

ARC Review: Rule Breaker by Sienna Snow

From what I read this is Sienna Snow's first publication. If this is her first book, it's an excellent start to her publishing career. In my mind the book is about a 3.5 rating but I'm rounding up because I'm grading on a slight curve and it's Thanksgiving.

This book is about Arya and and Max. This is a second chance romance. Let me just say, I don't really like second chance romance. I like to be in the relationship with the characters from the beginning of the book. The fact that I like this book is therefore even more evidence of the talent of the author.  Arya met Max 5 years ago when she was a nerdy virgin. Max is a sexy billionaire Dom who introduced Arya into all the wicked passion and pleasure of a D/s relationship. But then Max abruptly broke the relationship off. You may feel some type of way about Max ditching Arya but nothing is quite what it seems.  From the beginning of their reunion Max says things which make you aware that more happened on his end to keep him away from Arya for 5 years than Arya knows. There are also some truly crazy ish that happened to Arya in the 5 years.

Ok, we just have to take a pause for the cause. What happened to Arya might have been too crazy. One minute you're reading a normal romance book about a girl with a heart broken by a reckless a-hole. The next minute, you're like whoa whoa whoa, what did you just say? What happened to her? You find out pretty early on but I won't spoil it. The reason I write about it is because things like that incident are indicative of a problem with this book. Not all of the events were woven together in a seamless fashion. Some parts of the plot felt very jerky and kind of knock you out of the overall vibe of the book. This author shows a lot of potential and I think issues like that will take care of themselves in the near future.

If you are a reader like me, you don't like sexual euphemisms. And by that I mean I hate phrases like "her aching bud." When I first started reading this book I thought we were in for that kind of journey. If you pick this book up and you panic because you think it's going to be that kind of party, just hang in there. Things get more explicit and concrete as the book goes on.

When Arya and Max first reunite I was a little frustrated at Arya. I mean as far as she knew, Max left her high and dry at the worst time.  But from the beginning of the book Arya has no ability to control her physical reaction to Max. Despite her mental objections, she pretty quickly falls back into the relationship with Max. I got over my woman's empowerment issues though. As the book goes on things make more and more sense in terms of why the couple was separated. And yeah, maybe Arya came across as a bit weak but I wanted these two together and I'm glad it happened pretty quickly. All in all this is another great read for the holiday season.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: Secret Things by Nazarea Andrews

I have been a fan of Nazarea Andrews since I first read This Love. While I have liked some of her books more than others, I have enjoyed everything I have read from her. I was really looking forward to Secret Things though, and it definitely did not disappoint! Secret Things was everything that I have come to expect and love from Nazarea Andrews and is one of the best I have read from her in quite awhile!  

Camden appears to have it all. Not only is he the star of a hit show, but he is dating his co-star and best friend Cari. Yet despite appearances, Camden is miserable inside. Dimitri appears to have a charmed life as well, he is with his high school boyfriend and everyone loves them. Dimitri's part on a hit TV show just got renewed and his charity is beginning to take off. But like Camden, he is also miserable inside. As the two of them grow closer, they find that the only time they are really happy is when they are together. But both of them find it hard to ignore the growing attraction between them. While Camden has always been straight, he knows that he wants Dimitri. But with their friendship, careers, and their relationships with their significant others on the line, will they be able to fight what is between them or should they risk everything for the chance at happiness together?

I really liked all the characters here! They were sweet and caring and beyond sexy. They were all such a good fit together and I loved that the connections here were based on friendship and love. It was so obvious that Dimitri and Camden were made for each other. Their connection was deep and genuine, and natural right from the start. I really believe that these two belonged together. They had so much to consider just to even think about being together, yet it was all worth it in the end. There were so many things and people that factored in, but yet when you removed all that, it was clear that their love was what really mattered.

Overall, this story was emotional and sexy and I didn't want to put it down. Things weren't an easy ride for these characters, but I honestly enjoyed every moment of the journey. I definitely can't wait for more in this series, and I think that if you enjoy emotional love stories this is definitely one worth reading. It is about love and friendship, and I really think that there is something that everyone can relate to here. This book is a M/M story, but it is so much more than that and I think it is one that is worth taking a chance on.

**ARC Provided by Inkslinger PR**

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Guest Post with Author Christy Carlyle and Giveaway

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there's nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ARC Review: Over The Edge by Meredith Wild

I have a rule about menage romance that allows me to enjoy SOME of these books. If the three parts to the menage get together at the same time and make the decision to proceed with the threesome, I'm ok with it. I do not like two characters being together and bringing in a third. This book is in the sort of gray area. You get the feeling that Will and Olivia are going to start a relationship. Things between them are intense and hot and heavy but then Will ask Ian to be the 3rd man from the beginning. Will's reason's for asking Ian to run interference caused me to give him a giant side eye. He wants Ian to get involved with Olivia so things don't get too serious between him and Olivia. That changes pretty quickly.

As it turns out, Will's roommate and friend Ian has had a long standing thing for Olivia. The problem for Ian is that Olivia is his best friend's little sister. His friend makes it clear that he wants his bro-ski no where near his little sister. When Will decides to dive in to a relationship with Olivia, Ian is like 'eff it' I'm not going to be the odd man out. There are other books in this series that I haven't read.  

I take it from the way Ian's friend reacts to him being with his sister, the two got up to all sorts of shenanigans involving women. Even given Ian's history with women, both of Olivia's brothers react to her trio relationship in a way that was so over-the-top it was distracting. Saying they were pissed is an understatement. 

I really liked this book. Sometimes, I found it difficult to keep track of the relationships though. In other trio books the trio is usually more unified. My issue with this book is that it often seemed like Olivia was having two totally separate relationships with Ian and Will. I didn't really love that dynamic. I like trio books where everyone seems to be more in one relationship. The only other issue I had with this book is that Olivia's reaction to her brothers was a little weak at moments. All in all these are minor things. This is a uber sexy book with lots of emotional connections and great supporting cast. This is a great way to kick of your holiday season book reading tour.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman

I love this series so much! Every time I read a story in  “The Playful Brides” series I just love it more and more. Bowman is such an excellent author! She creates characters that are impossible to forget and that are so wonderful who would want to! The friendships and adventures that Bowman comes up with are always a memorable experience.

“The Legandary Lord” is the sixth book in the series and here we finally get Christian Forester, Viscount Berkeley. Christian was such a great and endearing character in the previous series, helping both Lucy and her friends out at every turn. Christian is the constant “hero to the rescue” in the previous stories and in this story he is once again ready to help a damsel in, this time it’s Lady Sarah Highgate.  Sarah, unlike Christian, has had a string of suitors after a very successful season.  To her parents delight she is engaged to be married. Sarah is always told what she is told until one day she can’t take it anymore and she runs to Scotland to “escape.” Through a case of mistaken home, she ends up in Christian’s hunting lounge. After a rough first introduction, they quickly become allies and form a pact. Christian, with the help of Lucy and company will help ease the “scandal” of Sarah’s escape. Sarah in turn will help Christian become “a legendary Lord” and finally capture the heart of one of societies ladies. What neither of them expect is to fall in love and not be able to forget one another.

Bowman has quickly become one of my favorite writers. I just can’t get enough of this series. Christian and Sarah developed such a sweet friendship and ultimately one that lead to them falling in love. I loved the setting in Scotland and the reappearance of Lucy and Cassandra. My one complaint after reading this story is that now I cannot wait to see what Bowman does with Sarah’s brother, Hart and her best friend Meg. The chemistry between them was so fun to read about! Loved this book and love this series! Bravo Bowman!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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