New format!! We are going to change things up at Smexy a little bit, starting on Monday. To make things a little easier for the reviewers we are going to try this: Each reviewer gets one day during the week to post reviews and talk about what they have read. If they have a lot to say about a book, they may still do a “normal” long review, which you are used to seeing here on a daily basis. But, they also have the option to do more of a Mini Review, which are popular posts here as well. I’m leaving it up to the individual reviewer to set their own format.
No matter what, each day you will get to read reviews from our reviewers, and we are still accepting review requests as normal. Instead of posting two reviews a day, each reviewer will review what they have read the past seven days.
I’m starting on Monday, Tori will post on Tuesday, Sheena Wednesday, Helyce Thursday and Kini Friday. And repeat.
The first in a sizzling new series about finding love on and off the dance floor from #OwnVoices author Alexis Daria.
Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.
Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.
When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.
The second book in Alexis Daria’s Dance Off series finds one playboy charmer falling for his new roommate.
Natasha Díaz is having a day. She’s trying to prove she can make it as a professional dancer, but she’s overworked, out of cash, and her roommate has just moved out. When she comes home to find a hole in her ceiling and her bedroom flooded, she’s desperate enough to crash with the one guy she can’t quit. She accepts his offer with one condition: no sleeping together while she’s living with him.
Dimitri Kovalenko has never lived with a woman before. But when Tasha’s in need of a place to stay, he suggests she move in without a second thought. He accepts her condition, hoping she won’t stick to it. They’re good together, both in the ballroom and the bedroom. Since their first dance, she’s never been far from his thoughts. Sure, she’s a pro and he’s one of her show’s judges, but they’re not currently filming, so no one needs to know.
Living in close quarters shows Dimitri a side of Natasha he’s never seen before, and he likes it. A lot. Too bad she’s doing everything in her power to keep him at arm’s length. When an injury forces Natasha to take it easy or risk her ability to dance, it’s his chance to show her that the rules have changed, and she can trust him with her heart.
There’s no code Knox Torren can’t break. He knows no limits when it comes to uncovering intel, especially on anyone who crosses his family. But a skip tracer with a sketchy history presents a puzzle he can’t solve. When he finally meets the statuesque blonde with the intoxicating Russian accent, he’ll try anything to unearth her secrets.
Darya Volkova has been living under an assumed identity for years. Searching for a job that will take her out of the dangerous life she’s built, she has her sights set on Knox: the best hacker in the business. From their first meeting, though, something far more intimate than a professional connection develops.
Darya must overcome still-healing wounds to trust that Knox will take care of her in all the ways she needs. And Knox will do whatever it takes to make sure whatever—or whomever—she’s running from never touches his woman again.
Blurb: Tom Gray is one of the world’s top models–an effortless object of desire. Self-contained, elusive and always in control, he’s accustomed to living life entirely on his own terms. But when Tom comes under suspicion in the gory death of his employer, his world spirals into chaos.
Someone’s framing him. Someone’s stalking him. And as old secrets come to light, Tom finds his adversary always one step ahead.
Will Foster is the only man Tom trusts to help. But Tom brutally burned all bridges between them two years before, and Will paid a bitter price. If he wants to survive, Tom must prove his innocence to Will–and to the world.
Excerpt: Tom tapped his agitated foot against the painted metal railings that separated the premises of Greens Club from the pavement of Soho’s Dean Street, and looked restlessly to his left, down the long length of the street.
Greens operated from an intentionally unobtrusive Georgian townhouse, in an extended Georgian terrace that stretched along Tom’s side of the road. There was no obvious sign, and the only clue to the club’s identity was the dark green color of the render that fronted the ground floor, below red and brown brick.
It was easy to walk past it, as Tom had done himself repeatedly on his first visit there as Nick’s guest, when they’d started seeing each other. That day felt like years ago now, he thought with a flash of surprised insight, not months, as if Nick had been part of his life for a long time.
He leaned back, one knee bent, the sole of his boot flat against the railing, trying to ignore the nauseating smell of burned oil and fried food emanating from the brasserie along the road. He’d insisted he should be the one to wait outside for Will, though he didn’t really know why. He supposed…to avoid an audience while he got the worst over with.
It was fucking ridiculous to feel this grinding nervousness though, close to fear.
It had been more than two years, and it wasn’t as if they’d been married. It was ancient history, thank God. And yet the tight knot in Tom’s stomach seemed to be growing. Squirming.
The one-way street was relatively narrow and tall buildings flanked it on both sides, so even though Tom could see blue, blue sky up above, everything on the ground all along the road sat in shade.
Dean Street was a media hub, buzzing, usually, with activity—a combination of restaurants, clubs and media offices, for advertising, film and video. But even though it was a Monday morning, unusually, there weren’t many people about, so Tom immediately spotted two men—one blond, one dark—emerging from a car parked about a hundred yards away.
They stood closely together for a minute or two, talking, then the blond—handsome, public-school-polished, slightly shorter—leaned up to kiss the other man on the mouth. It was a lover’s kiss, clear even from that distance. The blond pulled back, grinning, and walked off, leaving the other man to turn and set off along the pavement toward Greens.
Tom looked sharply away. He found he had to force himself to stay still, in his languid pose, by focusing on his boot. Brown suede, Saint Laurent, new season, straps and buckles.
Hair hiding his down-turned face; heart hammering in a chest as tight as if it were gripped in a vice. Waiting, until he finally felt a solid presence beside him.
It took him a second to look up. He inhaled sharply.
He’d so easily made Will Foster a weak memory of a terrible mistake, escaped. A guilt he’d much rather dodge away from, than wallow in. So he’d managed to forget the full power of Will’s attractiveness, and his own old resentment of it. But Will hadn’t really changed.
He wore a narrow-cut, no-nonsense, light gray suit, a white shirt and a black tie—to Tom’s fashion-immersed eye, all obviously off-the-peg and inexpensive. Just like his no-nonsense haircut.
But the snowy fabric of the shirt set off Will’s pale olive skin and big, light-hazel eyes, made still more beautiful by extravagant black lashes and thick, dark, winged brows. The cut of the cheap suit emphasized his broad shoulders and narrow waist. And that basic side-street haircut—short around the sides and back, lengthier than it had been on top—showed off his long, strong neck and impeccable bone structure; his wide lush mouth, his strong angular jaw.
He even smelled the same—the Tom Ford aftershave which Tom could no longer tolerate.
Will’s expressionless gaze assessed Tom in turn, and Tom couldn’t help a sharp jab of insecurity about the subtle changes Will might see, though Will used to find him beautiful too.
Tom had buffed up his slim frame quite a bit in the past couple of years, though Will was still naturally broader than him. And he was aware he probably looked even…glossier. Waxed and highlighted and tanned and plucked. But he’d chosen his outfit carefully, for non-provocative effect. Worn blue Levis, a loose band T-shirt. Not too scruffy—not quite, I don’t give a fuck what you think anymore. Not too sexy—no look what you lost.
But maybe there had been no need to worry. Will had another lover now. Maybe he was as relieved as Tom to be free of their old mutual obsession.
Maybe, this could work.
“Hi,” Tom said at last. “Will.” He straightened up. They were exactly the same height.
There was an awkward pause as their gazes locked and held, as if the contact had startled them both. Tom had forgotten that Will’s eyes in daylight became some pale shade between green and gold and amber. He’d never seen it on anyone else.
Will raised a cool eyebrow. Well? His expression said. What are you waiting for?
Bio: Dal Maclean comes from Scotland. Her background is in journalism, and she has an undying passion for history, the more gossipy and scandalous the better. Dal has lived in Asia and worked all over the world, but home is now the UK. She dislikes the Tragic Gay trope, but loves imperfect characters and genuine emotional conflict in romantic fiction. As an author, and a reader, she believes it’s worth a bit of work to reach a happy ending. Agatha Christie, English gardens and ill-advised cocktails are three fatal weaknesses, though not usually at the same time
Her first book, “Bitter Legacy”, was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for best Gay Mystery and was chosen by the American Libraries Association for their 2018 Over The Rainbow Recommended Books List.
I’ve just bought the woman of my nightmares.
Technically, I bought the organic grocery store she works for. Point is, she cost me my two best friends ten years ago. It’s payback time, and I’m going to make her life hell.
When I’m not banging her silly and myself stupid.
I need to get my head back in business, because getting off is great, but He was a man who got jiggy, all hours of the day, in the worst locations, with the woman of his nightmares isn’t the inscription I want on my tombstone.
Even if it’s true.
There are three things I hate:
Bratwurst in any form, my neighbors boinking like farm animals at 3 AM, and Chase Jett.
Mostly I hate Chase Jett. It’s been ten years since he took my virginity—I’d make a bratwurst joke, but the unfortunate truth is that it would have to be a bratbest joke, and
yes, it kills me to admit that—and now he’s not only a billionaire, he’s also my new boss.
Turns out our hate is mutual. And this kind of hate is horrifically twisted, filthy, and banging hot.
I just might have to hate him forever.
Mister McHottie is 45,000 gloriously hilarious, hot, sexy words that your mother warned you about, complete with an organic happy-ever-after (or seven), a Bratwurst Wagon, ill-advised office pranks, and no cheating or cliffhangers.
***The 1st standalone novel in The Pucked Series***
With a famous NHL player for a stepbrother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation of many a hockey star. So of course she isn’t interested in legendary team captain Alex Waters or his pretty, beat-up face and rock-hard six-pack abs. When Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes much more than just a hot body with the face to match.
Suffering from a complete lapse in judgment, Violet discovers just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. Violet believes her night of orgasmic magic with Alex is just that: one night. But Alex starts to call. And text. And email and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts. Suddenly, he’s too difficult to ignore, and nearly impossible not to like.
The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game.
Thanks to her vindictive ex-boyfriend, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting attention from all the guys—and not the kind of attention she wants. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a fight in the school parking lot. He’s a nice enough boy, even if he is a bit odd—he barely even fought back against his attackers.
But Becca soon discovers that Chris is no weakling. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. And they have been marked for death. And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.
But secrets are hard to keep when your life is at stake. So when Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, proves to be a possible ally, Becca thinks she can trust him. But when Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, Becca must uncover which one is hiding the most dangerous truth of all.
Because a storm is coming . . .
In this first book in the Elemental series, Brigid Kemmerer launches a thrilling new young adult series full of “magic, suspense, and enough twists to keep you reading until sunrise” (Erica O’Rourke).
The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick
Burning Cove, #2
May 8, 2018
Reviewed by Tori
Amanda Quick’s second Burning Cove installment takes us back to the opulent world of Hollywood stars and roaring 30s when Adelaide Blake escapes a sanitarium only to discover a vast conspiracy of drugs, blackmail, and murder surrounding her false confinement. Unable to trust anyone for help in finding out the reasons behind her confinement, she finds herself relying more and more on a new arrival in Burning Cove, Jake Trulett, whose sudden appearance in her life isn’t as coincidental as he’d like it to seem. From psychics to reclusive movie stars, Adelaide and Jake follow the trail of clues to a killer who will do anything to achieve his final goal.
I’ve been a fan of Quick’s/Krentz/Castle for years. I adore everything she writes from her historicals to her sci-fi fantasies. Her latest venture has a strong crime noir feel to it with it’s glamorous Hollywood resort setting, secretive cast, and a convoluted mystery. Heavily character driven, Quick sets the stage and character base right off the bat, letting us know who are the villains and what has happened. Now we just wait for Adelaide and Jake to discover the hows and whys as Quick tosses in some devious twists and turns to keep the suspense and danger at defcon 12. The pacing is steady and Quick is adapt at changing narratives on the “quick” that allow for no confusion. Though the mystery holds court, the resulting romance is a nice side item that bolsters the story and catches the reader’s’ attention.
Adelaide Blake escaped from Rushbrook sanitorium where she had been committed against her will by her husband, Conner Massey, for her inheritance. Drugged and abused, bided her time and managed to escape during a violent storm. Now a waitress at an exclusive tea room, Refresh, she makes exclusive tisanes and teas while hiding in plain sight. Scared of her husband and/or sanitarium’s director will find her, Adelaide invests in some self protection and keeps to herself.
Jake Truett is in Burning Cove on the advice of his doctor after his wife’s suicide. A former importer/exporter whom rumor says has walked on the dark side, he finds himself drawn to Adelaide, especially after she puts him in his place during a conversation at the tea shop. A reluctant hero with a side agenda, Jakes protective instincts go into hyperdrive when he realises Adelaide may be in danger.
Their romance builds slowly as Adelaide naturally is very low on trust concerning men and Jake’s wife’s recent death. Their investigation in to Adelaide’s past allows them plenty of leeway to get to know one another and build on the chemistry that is simmering between them without hopping straight into bed. Their quick wit and prickly bickering was fun to watch and made for some laugh out loud moments. The sexual tension eventually gives way to a deeper intimacy once this couple exercises their individual demons; freeing themselves from their ghosts of the past.
A cast of eclectic characters keeps the momentum flowing as you try yourself to figure out what is exactly going on. Familiar faces from book one, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, infiltrate the storyline with updates on their lives and to offer their friend help as needed. Some characters come out loud and strong while others hide their true motives; only to reveal at the last moment. They definitely keeps the reader guessing. A small secondary mystery and romance pops in and out though it reads as a set up to introduce readers to the next power couple. The mystery behind Adelaide’s commitment and the murders resolves in an energetic and shocking manner with some interesting subplots.
Though at times I felt at times the novel was a little too verbose and formulaic, reminiscent of her Arcane Society storylines, The Other Lady Vanishes does engages your attention. I am looking forward to the third novel in the series, which I hope involves a certain PI and nightclub owner.
A Dirty Wedding Night by Jaine Diamond Series: Dirty, #2.5
Released: May 9th 2018
Reviewed by Sheena
Favorite Quote: “Quit being a fu*king hero and take your woman to bed…Don’t come back ’til she’s popped your cherry!”
Fans. I need fans. Paper fans, fancy Dyson blade-less fans, church fans, ceiling fans, oscillating standing fans, industrial floor fans, the little hand fans that mist water at your face fans. I need all the fans please.
This little novella was hot and held back none of the punched it packed. Whoa baby! A Dirty Wedding Night is a four story collection of mini tales from the wedding night of series favorite rocker Jesse Mayes and his hard won new wife, Katie. I’ve enjoyed this series since book one, Dirty Like Me, where we first meet Jesse and Katie and experience their whirlwind affair. Jesse is the full on sex god rocker, jerky, but only enough to make it interesting. He was forthright and didn’t play games. Very levelheaded for a rocker with his kind of reputation. Katie was hired to be his video vixen and things heated up from the start, their chemistry so off the charts Katie was hired to be his girlfriend for the public and through their ups and downs of faux affection turned true love, they came out on top and now finally hitched! After their beautiful wedding, while the bride and groom are away, the guests will play and A Dirty Wedding Night is full of romping and drama!
This novella collection is such a treat for series regulars, and while familiar characters are referenced, new readers won’t feel left out so this novella could certainly be your entrance into the Dirty world- stands alone just fine.
A Dirty Vow
“It wasn’t romantic. It was frantic. It was hungry and it was messy and it was fast. I bit her lip. She pinched my balls with her fingernails as we grappled and groped. “
Things kick off with Jesse and Katie and their wild, wild wedding night. Kaite convinced Jesse to be celibate the days leading up to their wedding and he obliged, begrudgingly- but unable to deny her anything, her being his heart’s blood and what not.
As she raised her champagne glass to her lips, gazing into the fire, I glimpsed the platinum wedding band I’d slipped onto her finger earlier this evening; it glinted in the dark, reflecting the flames, and it gave me a total rush. That shiny band now marked Katie Bloom as married. As mine.
And that shit was making me hard.
This short story is one long smash session told from Jesse and Katie’s POV. And they were both very, very satisfied!
A Dirty Secret *spoilery*
Code phrase: Horny pussy.
If you haven’t read Dirty Like Us, this short story will spoil things for you as it directly deals with and references the source of the tension and adversarial relationship between Dirty lead singer Zane and the band’s assistant manager, Maggie. Maggie and Zane are oil and water. Up and down. Left and Right. How they managed to ensnare one another was nothing short of a miracle and the why’s of it all make for so good and fun, dirty reading!
Zane is a recovering alcoholic and live a sober life despite his rock star lifestyle. He is an unrepentant ladies man and the absolute bane of Maggie’s existence because, insufferable attraction! Stupid cupid with his stupid arrows got his wires crossed and these two are in one another’s cross hairs, though neither wants to string the first bow, because- pride!
We were alone, he was naked, I was near-naked; it really didn’t take much. And he was definitely gonna kiss me. Couldn’t fault a guy for trying, right? Wrong. I dodged and dashed, extracting myself from his grip, and put space between us. “You can go now,” I said, hugging myself and hopping up and down. I held his gaze, carefully avoiding his cock. Because yes, he was completely naked. And I really didn’t need to see that…Even if I kinda really wanted too…”
Maggie and Zane POV’s provide hilarious insight into their perception of their hook up. And that’s all I’m going to say about that because, spoilery! Series regulars who, like me, are clamoring for Diamond to write Zane’s full length novel next will be feral and likely rabid after this short story. If Zane/Maggie aren’t next- we riot!
A Dirty Lie
“You’ve got… condoms?” Shit. My teeth were chattering. “Uh…” Ash glanced at Dylan, then down at his naked self. “Not on me.” They were both naked, so where they’d carry a condom, I had no idea. But that really wasn’t my problem. All three of us were completely naked, and fucking freezing. The guys were cupping their balls against the cold and dancing from foot-to-foot like some badly-choreographed strip routine.
“Kinda fucking cold here, Roni,” Dylan offered jovially. “Maybe we come in and warm up, then we figure out the condom situation?”
“No dice,” I said. “No cover, no lover.”
Who wouldn’t want to attend their BFF’s rock star brother’s wedding and have a shot to spend the night in a sexy band-man-sandwich? ….Anyone? Show of hands?….*crickets*
Roni is Jesse’s sister, Jessa’s gal pal lucky enough to experience such a conundrum. Only little did she know, her night was going to end completely opposite of how she saw it beginning- starting with the Dirty drummers Ash and Dylan and ending in the arms of the last man she ever thought she’d be wrapped in. Blast from the past romance and cold revenge that she can’t quite serve, Roni had one hell of a night!
A Dirty Deal
The final short story features friends with benefits, love the one you’re with romance and though over the top sexy, it was rather sweet to see these two make eyes and take one another up on the offer of some mutual dirty fun!
Elle is having a shit night. She had to save face and show face at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding. And sure she’s over him but, sucks anyway. Majorly. Being band-mates with your ex sure ain’t easy and Elle’s had about enough of this wedding night. Everyone around her is in one throe of ecstasy or another and she’s hot, bothered and thinking of creating her own chapter of the man haters of America club. Membership- 1. Because she’s all she’s got.
Other than occasionally checking me out when she thought I wasn’t looking, Elle had never expressed an interest in hooking up with me. But she was in a rough mood. She needed a punching bag, she could go ahead and take her frustrations out on me. I didn’t mind.
“True fact…” I lounged back against the rocks, sinking deeper into the water. “I like churchgoers I can corrupt. The more virtuous, the better.” “Bullshit.”
“I’m partial to nuns, actually.”
She shook her head. “So full of it.”
“Monks…” She threw me one of her steely-eyed gazes. The kind that might send a lesser man running for the hills, tail between his legs.
“Don’t try to play me…you like bad girls and bad boys. The badder the better.”
Lucky for Elle, her bad girl/bad boy loving wedding night hook up, was just what the grumpy, disillusioned doctor ordered.
On the whole, this was a pitch perfect project, I loved the characters weaving in and out of their scenes and crossing over and impacting other story lines and character motivations. No two short stories were the same and they were plenty sexy and surprising. A Dirty Wedding Night is a super fresh and fun read and the perfect novella to read as a crash course into a great series or revisit old friends. I learned so much about all of them and I can not wait to enjoy the next dirty novel!
It’s been twelve years since tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School. Only a few students survived that fateful night—a group the media dubbed The Ones Who Got Away.
Liv Arias thought she’d never return to Long Acre—until a documentary brings her and the other survivors back home. Suddenly her old flame, Finn Dorsey, is closer than ever, and their attraction is still white-hot. When a searing kiss reignites their passion, Liv realizes this rough-around-the-edges cop might be exactly what she needs…
Liv’s words cut off as Finn got closer. The man approaching was nothing like the boy she’d known. The bulky football muscles had streamlined into a harder, leaner package and the look in his deep green eyes held no trace of boyish innocence.
Abby Maitland just landed a dazzling exhibit of priceless Spanish treasure for the museum she works for—and someone would kill for it. So whether she likes it or not, Zan Duncan has to protect her.
Abby’s mesmerized by Zan’s untamed strength and very sexual vibe. From the long dark hair, the thick, hard muscles, and the black leather jacket right on down to the honed fighting skills and the tattoos, Zan is a master of subtle seduction, giving her night after hot night of secret, endless pleasure. Then a lethal game of deception, greed, and murder gets underway—a game more sinister than Abby and Zan ever imagined. When no one can be trusted and no place is safe, their passion may be the only thing that can save them . . .
I don’t think I’ve read this one, but she can write fun, over the top suspense and sexy times. $.99 Kindle
Their forbidden attraction couldn’t be denied.
Can one ride turn lust into love?
Delilah “Doll” Reklinger has never been in danger before. As the only child of Roundman, Haywood’s Hellions motorcycle club president, she has always been protected.
When a threat to Roundman’s club gets too close to his precious doll, he does the only thing he can think of—sends her away until his enemy is in the ground.
Talon “Tripp” Crews lives his life from one ride to the next. As the Catawba Hellions motorcycle club chapter president, he doesn’t hesitate to answer Roundman’s call for help.
One ride across the country sounds simple enough.
One ride tempted by a forbidden desire is far from easy.
A Rancher’s Song by Vivian Arend (Heart Falls #2)
Released: May 15, 2018
Review by Helyce
I was really excited to read Walker’s story after the teasers shared in book #1. I’d kind of imagined his story in my head because I knew that it had something to do with his music. I thought it would have been interesting to see how a guy from a ranching family, who also participated in rodeo events, would handle it if he found himself discovered and was offered an opportunity to be a musician/singer. But I have to admit to being a little confused about his whole situation initially. I thought that the issue he was having with the panic attacks was heading toward being something along the lines of a serious medical condition (it isn’t) but for me clarity on the subject was introduced a bit late.
I also didn’t remember Ivy, but she may have just been mentioned in passing as two of her sisters own a bakery/coffee shop in town. Ivy is back home after being away for 11 years. She’s taken a job as a teacher at the local elementary school. She apparently has or had some sort of problems with her immune system but again, it’s really unclear and in my opinion, not explained well.
Ivy and Walker were together in high school and they were each other’s first everything. But when Ivy decided to go away to school, Walker was supportive and encouraged her to do it even though he wanted her to stay. It took Ivy a long time to get her degree and teaching certificate. Though it wasn’t clearly explained, Ivy must suffer from some immune disorder. If she caught just a little cold, chances were that she would get so sick, she’d be incapacitated and unable to attend classes. This happened a few times over the course of her time away, so what would take someone 4 or 5 years took Ivy a lot longer.
Walker Stone is home in Heart Falls after he experiences a panic attack while riding a bull at a rodeo competition. He’d felt it coming on, and when it takes over, he gets thrown off the bull. He was disoriented and slow to move. Lucky for him, those rodeo clowns did their job and he was able to finally scramble away without injury. This was a wakeup call for him; scaring him enough to take a break from the circuit and try to figure some things out. I struggled a little with this part of Walker’s background. The way it’s written or the way I’d interpreted it, was that it might be something neurological. I kept thinking ‘when is he going to the doctor?’ We finally learn the supposed reasons for the attacks, when Walker opens up to Ivy about what he’s going through and she helps him work through it. I can’t adequately explain why this just felt odd to me and made my mind question so many things. Ivy is a grade school teacher, but she apparently has the tools to question, diagnose and then give Walker the tools he needs to overcome this in his life.
On top of that, Walker is dealing with the guilt he feels about not pulling his weight where the ranch is concerned. The fact that money is a problem was raised several times. He’d like to contribute financially and he’s trying to figure out the best way to do that. This is where the connection to his music is explained. His possible music career would bring in money that would definitely help, but he’s afraid of what would happen while on stage if he should experience another panic attack. I thought this part of the story was underwhelming and while I see how it fit in with Walker’s fear of freezing up on stage, it was a huge opportunity to Walker to contribute financially–something he wanted to do. This particular storyline just fell flat for me. It goes nowhere.
I enjoyed the back and forth of will they or won’t they between Walker and Ivy. Ivy is all in from the get go, but Walker’s issues and the decisions he needs to make are weighing heavy on him, causing him to balk at a rekindled relationship. But those very things are exactly what push them together in the end. When they have their heart to heart and reveal some very personal secrets with each other, while touching and reminiscent of true love, I felt it was just too unrealistic. They’d been apart for 11 years…..so yea, I wasn’t buying it.
The secondary characters carry this story and fill in the spaces with love, humor and that sense of family and community that I’ve come to expect in Arend’s books. It’s the reason that I keep reading her. While Ivy and Walker’s story may not have given me all warm fuzzies, the second chance love comes through strongly. The how and why of how they got there might have been a bit confusing, but in the end their love is real and true.
Bad Boy Brody by Tijan Contemporary Romance
May 1, 2018
Reviewed by Tori
Hollywood’s biggest leading man finds his golden star tarnished by his actions after his brother’s untimely death. As he drifts further down the abyss, the powers that be offer him a chance at redemption. Do an indie film of their choice to guarantee his future. A murder mystery that drags Brody in when he meets the family, learns about the murder and discovers their biggest secret.
Tijan is my crack in terms of reading ridiculously melodrama fueled campy romances that require little commitment but offer loads of entertainment. A tried and true fan of her Fallen Crest series and various other YA/NA novels that read like an erotic version of 90210, this latest novel didn’t sweep me away as I had hoped. A mosaic of mystery, mayhem, and romance, Tijan offers an intriguing premise, promising her trademark characterization, melodramatic narrative, and delightfully unrealistic situations. This something not only wanted by expected. I did find it emotionally manipulative at times with its dysfunctional family trauma, bad boy redemption, and use of death as a plot point. Several plotlines seemed to conflict with one another while others came and left with abandonment.
Taking place in LA and Montana, Tijan draws us in as she begins by sharing the hero’s fall from grace seven months prior then proceeds to send us to present day Montana; baiting the trap with the introduction of the heroine, her siblings, and hinting at an elephant in the room.
Brody Asher was Hollywood’s golden boy until he heard his brother die while on the phone with him. A spiral of grief and anger causes him to act out and become Hollywood’s bad boy. A heartthrob with a healthy sexual appetite, in person he is a professional through and through; well versed in his craft and not as willing to bed whoever issues an invite, despite what the tabloids claim. A child of abuse and neglect, Brody is determined to clean himself up and get back to banking on his future.
I liked Brody right off the bat. He tells his story with little fanfare or drama. A nasty childhood left him and his brother unusually close and his brother’s death chopped him off at the knees. With no privacy to grieve and the vultures taking advantage from all directions, he messed up but owns it. He has a strong protective streak and rears its head when he meets the heroine, Morgan Kellerman.
Morgan is a young woman whom most of the world views as a ghost. She disappeared when her mother was murdered 10 years ago, hiding from the killer and eventually finding solace with a herd of wild mustangs. Her stepfather left the estate with his children, abandoning Morgan to in her grief to caretakers. Older now, Morgan stays isolated on the estate and only seems happiest when she is with her beloved horses.
Morgan was harder to make a connection with. She is portrayed as a socially and emotionally damaged individual who was abandoned by everyone she loved. She takes on the characteristics of a human who was raised by animals; think Tarzan. Yet, for all her “manufactured” awkwardness, Morgan interacts quite easily with her step-siblings and Brody.
The suspense builds with each scene as Tijan takes us through the mystery in stages through memories and narrative. A plethora of characters dots the landscape, every one of them playing a part in revealing the whole story, including the horses. They were probably the most honest beings in this story. Morgan’s siblings take on main roles as Brody and Morgan’s relationship heats up. This is where it began to fall apart for me. While I genuinely enjoyed the mystery, Tijan really skimps on the intrigue and spends too much time trying to trick readers rather than drawing out the anticipation. Brody and Morgan get hot and heavy quickly but vague chemistry and random conversations do not a relationship make. He and Morgan spend most of their time having sex so unsure how or why they fall in love. Tijan spends too much time telling us what is happening rather than showing us.
The ending comes at us fast and falls flat as we learn the truth which contradicts some scenes earlier in the book. Readers get their HEA but at a price. I liken this book to a puzzle that wasn’t made correctly. While each piece is important, none of them fit well enough to form a clear picture.
Not the worst I’ve read from Tijan but definitely not her best effort.
Born in a tavern to an actress, all Scher Martin has ever wanted is respectability and a family of her own. Then Kit Frazier, the fourth son of a titled family, offers for her, and Scher seizes her chance.
But instead of family, Scher encounters ridicule, mockery and Kit’s cousin, Viscount Blackstone.
Scher sets Blackstone’s heart afire with a single glance. He knows what she wants… what she deserves. But his life is a sham from which he cannot escape, his wealth and newly acquired title built on a public lie undergirded by murders no one will admit happened.
Blackstone also knows Scher’s heart beats only for him, and he belongs to another.
There is a place in modern day America with no electricity, no plumbing, and no modern conveniences. In this place, there is no room for dreams, no space for self-expression, and no tolerance for ambition.
In this place, there is a boy with the body of a god and the heart of a warrior. He is strong and faithful and serves his family honorably. But he dares to dream of more.
In this place, there is a girl with the face of an angel and a heart full of courage. To her family, she is the vision of obedient perfection. But she dares to want that which she has been told can never be hers.
Becoming Calder is the story of good versus evil, fear versus bravery, and the truth that the light of love has always found its way into even the darkest of places . . . From the beginning of time, to the end of the world.
THIS IS THE FIRST PART IN A TWO-PART SIGN OF LOVE SERIES INSPIRED BY AQUARIUS. THE SECOND PART, FINDING EDEN, RELEASES SIMULTANEOUSLY.
Jasper Jameson has spent his life caring for others, knowing that one day he might be blessed with his mate. He’s fought alongside his family and Pack for over a century but it isn’t until he meets a human who makes his wolf growl, that he knows that there’s something more than fate worth fighting for.
When Jasper walks into Willow Delton’s bakery she knows there’s something different about him. But every time he walks back out again, she doesn’t know what to think. When he finally finds the strength to ask her out, a new enemy in Jasper’s life has other plans.
A dangerous Pack is on the prowl and they’ve not only threatened the Redwood Pack but brought a demon into the fold as well. Forced into a new way of life, Jasper and Willow must fight not only for their lives but their weakening mating bond. Trust takes time but the two of them might not have as much as they need.