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Smexy Books by Mandi - 10h ago

When Hailey crashes a Half-Life after party, she expects to find the bastard who knocked up her little sister. Instead she meets the sexy front-man who agrees to give her access to his crew if she gives him access to her body. 

All Lock demands in return is three days of complete control over the Sunday School teacher. With a contract, because he’s been burned before. One misstep could send the band—and his tenuous sobriety—up in flames. 

Hailey and Lock push each other’s limits… Against the penthouse window. Backstage. In the limo and on the elevator. But as the contract counts down, neither are ready for the party to end.

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Despite having narrowly escaped death’s clutches, Christopher Barlow is grateful for nothing. His capacity to love has been crushed. He hates everyone and everything, completely unable to see past the gray stain of misery that coats his perception of the world. It’s only after he involuntarily joins a band of depressed misfits who are struggling to overcome their own problems, does Christopher start to re-evaluate his lot in life.

What could they possibly learn from one another? How could they possibly help each other to heal? And the question that Christopher asks himself over and over again… can he learn to love again? 

He’s about to find out as he embarks upon a cross country trip with a beautiful woman who is going blind, a boy with terminal cancer, and an abuse victim who can’t decide whether she wants to live or die. 

Four people with nothing in common but their destination. They will encounter adventure, thrills, loss and love. And within their travels they will learn the greatest lesson of all. 

The hard truth about sunshine…

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She was one man’s obsession…

Nine years ago, Claire Kramer’s lover brutally killed her family, and he tried to kill her. She escaped, but she’s been haunted ever since that attack. Too afraid to trust another man and too worried that her past will catch up with her, Claire never gets too close to anyone. But then she meets Noah York.

He must have her.

Noah York is a man with secrets. The world sees him as a billionaire hotel tycoon, but Noah has a dark and dangerous side. For years, he worked covert military operations before he built his fortune. When it comes to death, Noah is a master. He knows that he should steer clear of Claire, but the white-hot attraction Noah feels for the delicate beauty is instant—and consuming. 

He will never let her go.

Someone else is just as consumed by Claire—someone who will kill to possess her. And if Noah can’t stop the hunter in the darkness, he may just lose the one woman that he can’t live without. 

$.99 Kindle l Nook

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Mandi:

In Deep by Stacy Gold. More of a novella length, this book is all about ski patrol. Max and Sophie have a history – a hot and sexy history. Once lovers, Sophie was coming off of a divorce, and Max witnessed his ski patrol co-worker get severely injured on a mountain – their few months of passion fizzled due to real life events. They each go their separate ways until a few years later Sophie takes a job with a new ski patrol, and Max ends up being her boss. He wants to keep her safe, still traumatized over his former co-workers injuries. Sophie wants to prove herself. So they butt heads. There is a lot of good action and detail surrounding ski patrol in this one. It felt well researched. The romance takes a while to get going and then moves really quick. Yes, they are rekindling a former flame, but it goes from rekindle to let’s get married in one day. I needed more in the romance department. Grade: C+

Tori:

This Love Story Will Self Destruct by Leslie Cohan
Contemporary Romance/NA
Grade: DNF

A classic new adult romance that shows two individuals’ evolution through life and love as they keep reconnecting and eventually build a relationship one meeting at a time. I tried reading but found myself unable to connect with the heroine; I just can’t stomach a whiny self-absorbed 20-year-old making bad decision one right after another. A majority of the story is from the heroine’s pov and she’s annoying. I’m going to try again at a later date because the reviews for it are very favorable.

Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong
Mystery/Suspense Thriller
Grade: DNF

The #3 in Armstrong’s Casey Duncan series, I was excited to pick up and read, thinking it was along the lines as her other stories. Set in a small off the grid town that people can pay to live in for up to three years. Mostly used for those who need to disappear for a while.  When a supposed criminal is brought to the town for safekeeping, we learn that everyone has a motive and no one is truly ever off the grid.  This is a solid police procedural thriller, and while I enjoy the occasion mystery/suspense, I found this incredibly dry and verbose. I think you really need to read the first two in order to understand the underlying dynamics, backgrounds, and the various character relationships and have a healthy addiction for police procedurals.

When Death Meets The Devil by L.J. Hayward
Romantic Thriller/MM
Grade: B

This is a fast complicated spy thriller that is told symontaniously in the present and the past. Set in Australia, Jack Reardon, former SAS now Meta State agent, finds himself up against one of the most dangerous men alive, Ethan Blade-killer for hire, during a mission. When his cover blown purposely by Ethan, Jack has to depend on him if he wants to make it out alive. One year and lots of therapy later, his nemesis is back and needs his help, promising to uncover a mole in the agency in return.  Hayward’s latest is an action-packed adventure with a new twist and betrayal at every turn, leaving the reader gleefully unsure whom to trust. Hayward cleverly builds the intrigue and suspense along with the tension-filled romance, leading us to a climactic ending and the possibility of more stories.

Kini:

Should’ve Been You by Nicole McLaughlin

A quick read novella that features a second chance at love for the hero and heroine. Jase and Becca were neighbors growing up and spent a lot of time together. They both thought the other didn’t really like each other and 18 years later, they reconnect. When they first meet again, Becca is in a relationship with someone else and there is a kiss between Becca and Jase. I know that is a hard limit for some readers, so I do want to mention it. That relationship ends before there is anything else between Jase and Becca. We do get a HEA for Jase and Becca and I was invested in it. But the most interesting thing in this book is what appeared to be teasers for another book, Jase’s friend Aiden seems to have a torch for Becca’s sister but never acted on it. I will be stalking the author for information about that book.  Grace C+

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A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen (The Devils of Dover #1)
Released: February 20, 2018
Historical Romance
Forever

Reviewed by Mandi

Favorite Quote: “I am not going to accept less of you, Clara Hayward. I will have you, and you will have me.”

August Faulkner  is not only a man with a keen sense of business. Not only a man whose father was in debtor’s prison for years. He is also a duke. An inherited title, but a self-made man of wealth. August finds businesses that are crumbling, buys them, breaks them down and rebuilds. He leaves the former business owners angry but he buys them fairly and has no remorse for what he leaves behind. When he hears that the Hayward shipping business is in trouble, he starts to sniff out a new venture. But he needs to get close to the Hayward brother who is now in charge of the shipping since his parents have died. And in order to get close to the brother, he decides to get close to the sister.

Clara Hayward first met August ten years ago when he dared to ask her to waltz. Clara never fit in with society – wealthy, and a lady – but extremely intellectual and considered a wallflower. More so, the men were too scared of her intelligence to deem her worthy of their attention. But that waltz with August that night found two souls who dared each other for more. But when the waltz ended, so did that few minutes of intense chemistry and they went their separate ways. Clara is now the headmistress for Haverhall School for Young Ladies, a school where the best of the best fight to get in. Unfortunately for Clara, she must sell the school to help her brother finance the family’s failing shipping business. And guess who buys it?

When August’s sister leaves a note saying she is leaving for the summer to attend Haverhall, August rushes to Dover to find out what in the world his sister is doing, and to get close to Clara, so he can woo her brother’s shipping business. When he sees Clara again, that passion comes back but he is also entering into her world – where woman can learn to make their own choices and August is up for quite the life lesson.

August is a flawed hero – at least if you compare him to a modern man. He thinks women need to be cared and protected against anything in the outside world. He doesn’t understand why his sister, who has great ambitions for running hotels, doesn’t appreciate it when he buys her the finest dress or the best necklace. He doesn’t understand why she wants to care about business or anything outside the home. Clara is all too familiar with the frustrations of being a woman and staying in the good graces of society, which is why she opened her school. She teaches the girls painting, and dancing, and all of the things a woman needs to learn to stay in society. But in the summer, she picks select girls to really live out their fantasies. They shadow physicians, and landscape gardeners – and as in August’s sister’s case – hoteliers. August continually bumps heads with his sister and Clara over the fact that a woman would want anything more than being protected by a man. His journey to come out of this mindset is very well done and not rushed.

The romance in this one made me smile. From that one dance all those years ago – where Clara knew he was dancing with her on a dare from his friends, and she stared directly in his eyes and gave him the dance of his life – he has been searching for that passion from a woman ever since. Their banter  and sexual tension is delightful in this one.

“You have that many abominably asinine requests?” Clara knew she should simply nod and smile politely, but somehow he was drawing her into this…banter that she has no business participating in. And it was exhilarating.

“You might be surprised.” He grinned, and her pulse immediately skipped.

“You know,” she said, returning his grin, “I don’t think I would.”

Something shifted in his eyes. Something hot and possessive. Something that made her knees weaken and an ache settle low in her belly and her breasts. “There she is,” he murmured almost inaudibly.

Clara doesn’t let August get away with anything in this book, and I really enjoyed her. She is also not afraid to show him that she is attracted to him and to admit they have something good together.

“Do not put words in my mouth, Miss Hayward. Because that’s not who I see when I look at you.” The force of his words made her eyes widen. “I see an intelligent woman, the same one who once put an ignorant buck in his place and taught him that things are rarely as they seem. I wish I had understood that then.”

“And what would you have done differently if you had?” she asked quietly.

“I would have asked you to dance again.” August reached for her hand and caught it, bringing it up between them, his thumb sliding over her bare knuckles. “I wish I had asked you to dance again.”

She was silent for a long minute, a gut-wrenching, electrifying mix of desire and longing flitting across her usually unreadable features.

Her fingers tightened on his. “I wish you had too,” she said, and August felt the breath leave his lungs.

A great balance between the romance and Clara’s life at the school along with some family drama. It’s sexy and fun. A delightful romance! Very much looking forward to the  next book.

Grade: B+

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Smexy Books by Mandi - 1d ago

Grace Hamilton was the girl with a plan. She knew exactly where her life was going and prided herself on always achieving her goals. It was who she was, and how she lived her life. She never stepped outside the lines, and never considered what she might desire and whom she was actually trying so hard to please. Until him…

Carson Stinger was a man who didn’t play by any rules except his own. Working in the adult entertainment industry, he didn’t care what others thought, and took each day as it came, no direction, no plan. He knew what women wanted from him and believed it was all he had to offer. Until her…

When circumstances forced them to spend several hours together, they walked away changed. But for two people who never should have meshed, overcoming the reality of their vastly different lives wasn’t possible. At least not yet…

I haven’t read this but I like this author…. $.99 Kindle

Letty Carmichael can’t believe her eyes when she catches a glimpse of her high school tormenter, wrestling champ Tate Sullivan, on campus. College was supposed to be her escape from Tate’s constant ridicule. Now he’s in her classes again, just waiting for his chance to make her life hell. But when Letty and Tate are partnered up for an assignment—on sex in cinema, of all things—she starts to see a kinder, gentler side of him. And when she realizes Tate knows more about sex than she could ever guess at, he soon starts making her blush in a whole new way.
 
Tate Sullivan is haunted by regret over his cruelty toward Letty. So when she agrees to work with him, he seizes his chance to make amends. He can’t blame her for not believing he’s for real, but soon Tate starts to break down her wall. She wants to know about passion, desire, lust—topics he is well versed in. And in return she offers the one thing he always wanted: the chance to be more than just a jock.
 
Letty is shocked by how sensitive Tate can be. Still, desiring him feels ludicrous. Loving him is impossible. Craving him is beyond all reason. So why can’t she stop?

Tori gave this a B.  $.99 Kindle l Nook

Twenty-something Kat Reid is loving life as an in-demand Hollywood makeup artist. She has absolutely no interest in rock ‘n’ roll, but in order to pay the mortgage, she agrees to work on the set of a rock video for the world-famous rockers known as Bad Habit…which brings her face-to-face with Nico Nyx, lead singer of Bad Habit and Adonis in the flesh.

However, the fiercely independent Kat isn’t impressed by the hard-living, womanizing rock star. But when Nico’s model girlfriend shows up to the set drunk and Kat is tapped to replace her as the video’s sexy bride, her combustible chemistry with Nico suddenly threatens to consume the set. Nico feels it, too–and becomes determined to win Kat over, body and soul. Yet behind his rock god swagger, Nico hides a dark secret. Can he rock Kat’s world forever, or will he just break her heart?

$1.99 Kindle

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One More Promise by Samantha Chase
Series:Band on the Run, #2
Contemporary
Released: February 6, 2018
Sourcebooks Casablanca

Reviewed by Sheena

Favorite Quote: “I have a proposition for you.” All kinds of dirty thoughts ran through her mind—the first being if she locked the office door, could they be quiet enough not to alert Daisy to what they were doing? “A proposition?” she asked in a sultry voice… “Baby, if I thought we could be quiet about it, I’d be propositioning you all over that desk.” 

A spin-off from my beloved Shaughnessy Brothers series, featuring brother Riley’s band-mates, oh yes please! I am such a fan of Samantha Chase’s style that I snapped this up with only a cursory glance at the blurb.  It’s Samantha Chase, I knew it would be all things yummy sensual tension, enjoyable and without the contrived melodrama that sometimes plagues contemporary romance.  And I was mostly right.   The tension was delicious and the plot was intensely character focused.  What I didn’t count on was just how slow-moving  and…dragging it would be at times.

Ambitious Paige Walters is ecstatic when she’s hired to recruit musicians for a literacy campaign—it’s her chance to prove she’s got the chops to make it in the family business. She certainly isn’t going to let some fallen idol screw it up. But as the work brings Paige and Dylan closer together, their attraction grows…and so do their challenges…

Paige was an interesting heroine.  Likable, though I found her to be stubborn and judgmental in a way that was not flattering, though goodness knows she earned the right to be a little obstinate given her upbringing and deeply seated sibling rivalry and daddy issues.  Paige is an executive in her families PR firm and is finally ready to step out from the heavy and long reaching shadows of her manipulative sister, Arial and controlling father and she has just the project to propel her to the respect and recognition she craves.  Paige is championing a literacy awareness program that she cultivated from its inception, hand picking the distinguished authors to serve as spokespeople to champion the importance of childhood and adult literacy.  She is in her element as things go according to plan until her nemesis sister throws a monkey wrench into the mix, tossing Paige’s carefully curated spokesperson list and replacing it with a who’s who of celebrity stars, simultaneously rising the literacy campaign’s star power and Paige’s ire.

Dylan is everything Paige wasn’t looking for in a campaign spokesperson.  Recently discharged from a stint in rehab, on the surface, the bass playing fallen rock star is anything but a poster child for a positive role model.  Paige is immediately put off from the idea of using him for the campaign and can’t help show her own bias regarding the many assumptions she makes about him upon learning he is  favorite to join the campaign.

“…I’m a musician. Your daughter Ariel reached out to me about the campaign and I came by today to talk to Paige about my participation.”

“Nothing’s confirmed yet,” Paige interrupted, shooting him a warning glare. “I’m still not convinced that Ariel’s suggestion is how I want to go.”

Robert studied Dylan for a moment and then turned to his daughter. “…Getting members of various arts could extend our reach with the campaign, Paige. It’s not an uncommon approach, and it’s proven to be successful in the past. I know you wanted this to be your baby, but that shouldn’t mean you automatically disqualify suggestions just because they’re not your own.”

For a minute, Dylan felt bad for her—she was getting reprimanded by her father right in front of him. That had to be embarrassing…

“Paige,” her father began sternly, “it’s not like you to be so judgmental. Personal feelings should not play into what’s going to help your cause. I think you’d be doing the campaign a disservice if you eliminate willing volunteers based on your own bias.” He paused. “You should reconsider.”

Her cheeks turned a light shade of crimson as she studied the pavement. “It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”

One of the main running themes of the story was learning to look beyond the exterior and having an open mind when confronted with personalities or circumstances that challenge preconceived notions.  Paige often allowed her bias to cloud her better judgement in matters of both the heart and her work on the literacy campaign.  It was evident that her sister was keen on  upstaging and sabotaging Paige at every turn, however, Paige allowed herself to be walked over time and time again by her father and sister, so much so that in her desire to be taken seriously, she overshoots her wilfulness and as a result, she winds up looking the part of the one in the wrong for passing on ideas and strategies that are legitimately superior and a better fit for the campaign.

Aside from the issues plaguing the campaign, the meat of One More Promise is the romance between Dylan and Paige. Both with their own emotional baggage, supported one another in very authentic and genuine ways.  Dylan is living live, one day at a time and adjusting to his sobriety.  Each day sans alcohol is a struggle and he is determined to make good on his second chance, eager to throw himself into the literacy campaign. Working with Paige on the project brought out the best in Dylan, allowing him to be redeemed in ways he hadn’t expected.  His relationship with Paige growing from a friendship to lovers was essentially the extent of the plot.  The danger of having such finely character focused material is that there isn’t anything to break up the monotony.  I felt this keenly in One More Promise.  Yes, Dylan and Paige had to learn to trust one another, and from that trust grew a lovely friendship and camaraderie that later blossomed into an attraction they could not ignore.  Unfortunately, with so much attention on the two of them, with little outside influence, my eyes hazed over more than a few times under the strain of waiting for something, anything to actually happen. And by the time something did happen, they story was practically over and I was nearly weary waiting for it to end already.

One More Promise is perfectly sweet and perfectly romantic.   What it wasn’t was terribly interesting, and paired with the lack of heat I am used to from Chase, this novel played it way too safe.  I love Chase novels for their dynamic characters, engaging plots and sensual tension so well done that I don’t even care that the stories aren’t dripping in sexy times.  This one felt heavy and weighed down, a needed relief, more levity was sorely missed.  I appreciated the journey, but wish there were a little more spark along the way.

I don’t know if it was the subject matter (recovering alcoholism, familial strife) or the extremely mild conflict, but something left me stifling yawns and with a case of the meh’s.  I suspect this severely character driven style sets the new tone for what we can expect from this spin off. In which case, I hope that future installments pick up the pace.  Mainly because, there was one band member, Julian, whose back story seemed quite compelling, so if book 3 due out this fall, One More Moment, is his story, I’m certain I’ll check it out.

If you like a low (low) drama, character centered plot and don’t mind a more mundane romance- grab your coffee (5 hour energy shots- whatever works) and check out One More Promise.

Grade: C

Previous Samantha Chase Reviews: A Sky Full of Stars, Holiday Spice
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A Tycoon’s Rush by Avery Laval
Series: Sin City Tycoons
Contemporary Romance
Released: February 5, 2018
Blue Crow Books

Reviewed by: Sheena

Favorite Quote: “Excuse me?” she said, flustered, imagining him thinking the same thing as her, sizing up the potential in this little rental Fiat and coming to the same conclusion. Tricky, but worth it.

A Tycoon’s Rush is a very short, very unfinished novella. Perhaps less than a novella…it is more so a snippet, a morsel, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it romance-ish sort of thing.  The blurb felt more consequential and complete than the actual story and while reading, it was necessary to make one too many rationalizations and common sense suspensions, to get through it without reading it with a permanently raised eyebrow.  -Which is important because being in a perpetual state of “gimmie a break, that makes no sense” is super distracting and I really much rather just enjoy the story!

Natalie is the under-appreciated and overworked assistant to a successful sports agent. Forced to do all of the grunt work, she is biding her time until she can finally launch her dream career as a sports journalist.  She’s sent on a mission to get Olympian gold medalist and recluse, Charlie, to sign a lucrative contract and rejoin the public eye.  Natalie has also just made a mess of things kissing her roommate Davis, whom she has no real romantic interest in and uses the trip to recruit Charlie as a perfect getaway because she can’t possibly deal with  kissing her roommate, she may even have to move because “awkward.”

Full disclosure? I’m barely keeping it together by this point. Natalie is all over the place and her motivations are weak and silly. You are a grown woman, you kissed your platonic roommate.  Clear the air and move on, neither of you was that into it anyway and the way she describes him, he probably already had two (or three) women under him before Natalie hit the TSA line at the airport to run away from it all *eyeroll*

But, fine, cool. No sweat.  Thin character motivations?  I can hack that in my sleep, so I push onward,  and one transatlantic flight later, Natalie tracks down a depressing, heap of wasted Olympic athlete, Charlie, in a bar in a remote town in Europe. Charlie is in the dumps and nursing expensive scotch and eye-fawking the local women in a very uninspiring and half-hearted lecherous manner.  Poor Charlie has decided to hang up his skis and has had his fill of indiscriminate sex. Unsurprisingly, Natalie catches his eye and they circle round one another, she, trying to convince, goad and charm him into signing the endorsement contract; he, trying to reconcile his desire to bed her and his reflex to drive her away.

Natalie is tenacious and not falling at his feet, which (shocker) intrigues him and they agree to go out on the slopes on the condition that Natalie does not pry into what is keeping him from ski jumping again. Maybe he is doping and is ashamed and being eaten alive by his guilty conscience!?  Unfortunately, Charlie’s motivations are just as thin (if not ridiculously thinner) as Natalie’s.

Insta-lust is about as far as this goes.  They ski, they have a burning awareness and attraction; their chemistry does play rather nicely, despite the other pitfalls. They have sex and bond over Charlie’s big secret.  You know, the huge, traumatic issue that has driven him from the sport he loves, a secret so devastatingly underwhelming, that hell, I wish he had been doping, just for the intrigue!

There is little to no conflict, they connect over common sense advice Natalie gives him and continue to hook up.  He signs the contract deal almost as fast as he vowed to never sign it, so that little drama was over before it started.  There isn’t one iota of believable love.  I believe they just find one another hot and interesting and that is good enough for them.  The ending does not count as an HEA or a HFN, for either of those to apply I need to see some sort of relationship. Sorry, a confirmation that they are still sleeping with one another from time to time when Charlie comes to town does not a relationship make. There are no love declarations but the author did throw us a bone and the new and improved Charlie asked Natalie to quit her job and move in with him so he could chain her to his bed and have her whenever he wanted, so there is that…

Ultimately, even as a novella, it needed more substance.  The story and its characters and overall weakness fell flat despite its early promise of yummy romantic tension.  I am further disappointed because there was a lot of potential between these pages that went unrealized. Even with the obstacles, I was oddly committed to seeing it though, which magnified my disappointment at the blunt ending.  I’m interested to see what author Avery Lavel would do with a full-length novel, complete with legitimate conflict, issue resolution, and a suitable ending. I’d usually close the book and never look back at a story plagued with these obstacles, but as I mentioned before, there was a sort of delicious tension between Charlie and Natalie that was starting to make an impression despite the challenges and holes. For instance, whatever happened to Davis? She clearly never moved out so I’m supposing they were adults about their unimportant kiss after-all? Who knows.

Also, fair warning, the story abruptly ended on my Kindle at around 60% and the remaining 30% are blurbs and snippets of other novels.  I didn’t read them, I couldn’t muster the interest.

Grade:  C-

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Heroine: Natalie Nixon. Coffee shop owner. A planner whose life has been mapped out since high school. When her fiance tells her they need a break, Natalie decides to let go for once and let life take her where ever it leads. Especially if it leads her to her best friend.

Hero: Miles Haas. A sex blogger and Natalie’s best friend. He’s always loved Natalie but she has always been unavailable. When he learns she is free, he decides to finally show her exactly how he feels about her.

I put this scene under a NSFW tag because it’s dirty and explicit. Our favorite kind of scene.

[[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]

Some Sort of Crazy by Melanie Harlow is currently available for purchase and on sale for ONLY $.99 on AMZ. Not sure long this sale will last so don’t wait to buy.
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Smexy Books by Tori - 4d ago

This week at Smexy…

B review – The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz (mystery suspense/tori)
B review – A Grave Search by Wendy Roberts (mystery suspense/tori)
B- review – Devil in Tartan by Julia London (historical/mandi)
C+ review – Surrender to the Highlander by Lyndsay Sands (historical/sheena)
C review – The Wedding Date by Jasmine Gulliary (contemporary/tori)
C+ review – Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen (contemporary/tori)

New Cover Reveal: Elle Kennedy’s Hotter Than Ever

Excerpt From Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan and Giveaway of her Upcoming Release

Swoon-Worthy Book Recs from Maisey Yates

News from Tori: I picked up Melanie Harlow’s Some Sort of Crazy and fell in love with this adorable besties to loves romance. Psychics, sex blogs, spankings, dirty talk, and lots of baked goods made this a super fun read. A standalone though part of the Happy Crazy Love trilogy.

Rough Ride by Kristen Ashley is a Chaos MC novella and part of the 1001 Dark Nights series. Not bad though I was more invested in revisiting with some old friends and discovering all the clues Ashley was dropping about what’s to come then in the romance.  Ashley leaves off on a major cliffy which may irritate some readers.

I’m currently reading Honky Tonk Hellion by Z.A. Maxfield. Though this is labeled as the start to a new series, I’m seeing it would really help if you read the series this is spinning off of.  I’m hoping to also finally get to read Mister McHottie by Pippa Grant this weekend.

News from Kini: I started the new one by L.H. Cosway, A Crack in Everything. When it starts they are teenagers and I just don’t enjoy reading about teens. I didn’t even get very far in the book and decided it wasn’t for me.

Stiff Competition by Micah Persell– The hero is a gigolo and the heroine is a creator of computer games. I like it, but it has taken me all week to get through. I hope to finish it tonight.

I finished the audio version of The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish. I highly recommend this. It’s funny and sad. She is brutally honest about her life. It was uncomfortable at times. But it is her story and it’s wonderful.

And now on audio, I am listening to The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. The heroine draws comics and there is a bit of a story within the story about her comic characters. Of course, there is family drama and secrets and I pretty much love listening to her narrations.

This weekend I hope to finally start A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole, pubs 2/27.

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Smexy Books by Tori - 4d ago

Adrian Lexley is going to be just fine. True, her fiancé jilted her on their wedding day. But she’s determined to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and move on. She throws herself into her work, taking on an assignment at her magazine to collaborate with the handsome novelist Jackson Taylor on an article about finding love. As Jackson begins to fill the vacant spot in her heart left by her fiancé, Adrian comes to realize that nothing is simple when it comes to the complex realm of love…

Contemporary Romance
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Everyone knows how those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect–pretty, smart, and, worst of all, nice–stepsister is dating the charming, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her online. The school mean girl has made it her mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister is the most popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

Romantic Comedy/YA
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Gwen Miller may be a human, but she has no problem taking a stand against her own kind. She’s going to testify against the teenage boy she saw viciously assault a lone shifter female—and no amount of pressure from the boy’s wealthy family will make her back down. But when the harassment turns violent, help comes in the form of a lean, toned wolf with winter-gray eyes.

As a guest at Gwen’s inn, shifter enforcer Zander Devlin can’t help but notice that the fierce and leggy brunette is in serious trouble. Since she’s putting herself at risk for one of his kind, keeping her safe is the least he can do. That’s not the only reason Zander wants her close. He desires her, even as the wolf inside him backs away from her. But his feral instincts are hard to keep down, and as they take shape, they’re harder for Gwen to resist. Then again, embracing them could be the only thing that could save her life.

Paranormal Romance
Kindle-$1.99

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The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz
Mystery Suspense/Gothic Horror
February 13, 2018
Mira

Reviewed by Tori

Favorite Quote: “The girl in the tower is a romantic image to anybody but the girl in the tower.”

They were called “The Lucky Ones; ” the foster children who were chosen to live with the wealthy Dr. Vincent Capello at his beach house, nicknamed the Dragon,  in Clark Beach, OR.

Allison Lamarque looks back on those idyllic days fondly, except for the part where she almost died and was whisked away to live with her aunt, never to see her foster siblings or the good doctor again. That is until she receives a letter thirteen years later from Roland Capello, the oldest lucky one. Dr. Capello is dying and Roland asks Allison to come home and make a dying man’s wish come true.  

Allison heads to Oregon with a thousand and one questions. What really happened that night? Was it an accident or did someone try to kill her? And why didn’t Dr. Capello fight to keep her?

Allison reconnects with her foster siblings and tries to figure out what happened that night, using her own fragmented memories and those of everyone who was there. The deeper she digs, the more she realizes that no one is who they really seem and the truth is far more horrific than she could have ever imagined.

Reisz starts her latest adventure with a breakup.  Allison Lamarque has been the secret mistress of a very rich man since she was nineteen. Her lover, Conner McQueen from The Bourbon Thief, reveals he has gotten another woman pregnant and he chooses them over her, effectively ending their six-year relationship. She is angry, hurt, and unsure what to do after she has literally been at McQueen’s beck and call for so long. When she receives a letter from her past, she decides a change of scenery is just what she needs and packs her things to head home.  She is determined to understand exactly what happened all those years ago and finally lay it all to rest.

“Too many secrets in this house. So many that they were beginning to sound like…lies.”

Love, betrayal, secrets, and most importantly, family, are the ingredients in the potent cocktail Reisz mixes as she sits down to tell us the story of The Lucky Ones. This psychological thriller enthralls with suspense and intrigue as Reisz takes readers deep into the human psyche and shows us all the wonders and horrors it contains. The steady pace and smooth storyline are heavily influenced by the narrative as the reader becomes instantly captivated by the strong elements of love and mystery that surround this cast of exceptionally flawed characters.

“You know what they say…ours is not to wonder why. Ours is but to drink bourbon and rye.”

Allison is an intelligent and independent woman who was orphaned at a very young age. She briefly found happiness afterward until that too was snatched from her. Stubborn with pride and in possession of a very dry wit, there is a faint sense of melancholy that surrounds her. Hints in her narrative show that her life hasn’t progressed as she has hoped. She has been let down by almost everyone in her life through either fate and choice. Yet, she takes it on the chin like a champ and gets right back up swinging.

“You weren’t my mistress. It’s so…”

“True?”

“Melodramatic. This was always a friendly business arrangement.”

“I see. So you’re not dumping me, then. You’re firing me.”

[…]

“You don’t make it easy on a man…you could say thank you. Most girlfriends don’t get severance pay after a break up.”

“I’m not your girlfriend, remember?”

Heading back to the Capello household is the first thing she has done for herself in years and she is determined to pay her respects, get some answers, and continue on her way along the coast. Seeing Roland Capello opens a floodgate of memories, reminding her of things she forgot in her “accident.” How much she loved him as a brother and how those feeling gradually changed into something more potent and forbidden.

Roland kissed her like he’d spent the last thirteen years waiting to have a chance again…In an instant, she was that twelve-year-old girl again, feeling those strange terrifying desires for the first time. Her heart raced, her blood pumped; she ached between her legs.

Roland is quite an enigma and upon meeting him, you instantly get the feeling something’s not quite right. Gorgeous and charming, he is now a monk though on sabbatical to care for their father. His need to atone is felt and you are instantly left to wonder why. The focus is strong on Allison and Roland as Reisz builds their story in layers, flashing between the past and present to give us the background and clues we need to get to know the two people whom fate seems destined to bring together. Their whimsical banter and intense sexual chemistry delightfully contrast with the growing feelings of horror and disbelief along the edges the further along you get into the story.

“We have a rule in this house, if you don’t remember, and it’s a good rule. We don’t talk about the past.”

Overly verbose at times as Reisz repeatedly hammers certain details into our psyche, the basis of her story, the human mind and the many horrific treatments used to try and fix mental illnesses, punch you straight into the gut. Especially when you realize these treatments and instruments of torture were used on real people well into the 20th century. Reisz addresses the different medical attitudes revolving about sociopathy and its derivatives, providing an interesting history lesson. 

An interestingly eclectic cast of characters offer help or try to hinder Allison’s investigation. Chameleon like, we aren’t really sure what their role in the previous events are though each person’s background and connection to Allison is dissected and expanded on, providing answers to the questions plaguing the story.

The mystery behind Dr. Capello, the various foster children who lived with him, and Allison’s accident is altogether a dramatically horrific tale that left me shocked and saddened but hopefully for the future. A person’s ability to rise above their circumstances is astounding as is what the human mind can do to protect itself from certain events. What you expect and what you eventually get are two very different things and they create a moral dilemma of sorts that stays with you long after you close the book.

Grade: B

Prior Tiffany Reisz Reviews

Recent Reviews:
Publisher’s Weekly
Harlequin Junkie

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