Brewer by Skye McNeil

They come from two seemingly different worlds: she a chef and he the member of a small town MC. But one person from each of their pasts will bring them together in a way they never saw coming. 

What’s it About? 

Out for blood and justice, Brewer Stapleton is on the hunt for Macha MC’s traitor, Shovelhead, the man who also murdered his parents. Nothing will keep him from his mission, not even the woman who unexpectedly brings him to his knees.

Raised to fear motorcycle clubs, Delphi Windsor is content running her bistro. When she meets the man who runs Macha’s bar, on a fun night out, their chemistry is instant. But Delphi uncovers a secret. One that brings her closer to Macha MC than she ever thought possible.

With Brewer focused on revenge and Delphi intent on uncovering the truth, it’s unlikely everyone will survive the fallout.

First Impressions

From opening bell it was clear that the connection simmering between bartender biker Brewer Stapleton and hot shot chef Delphi Windsor was going to be electric. It’s a case of lust at first sight, and Brewer knows he wants the gorgeous beauty standing in his bar. Never to back down from what he wants, he doesn’t hesitate to lay the flirtatious banter on thick, and headstrong Delphi has no problem standing up to him to tease and dish it right back before turning him down. From that point on you knew you were in for a delightful game of cat and mouse, and I for one couldn’t wait for the game to begin. Their desire and attraction for each other is intense, but so is Delphi’s hesitancy to get involved with someone in a motorcycle club. She has a complicated history with an ex who was part of a rival club, as well as the fact that her parents tried everything in their power to warn her away from the troublesome MCs before they both unexpectedly passed away. Brewer can recognize that Delphi is an outsider to this world, and tries his best to keep his distance even though everything in his being is calling for him to not only watch over her, but to claim her as his. 

A standout feature of this series so far is that we’re constantly presented with a badass female lead character. In this fourth installment we see that even though Brewer never backs down from being vocal about everything he craves to do with Delphi, ultimately it is her call for when they’ll finally cross that line to stripping off their clothes and going at each other like bunny rabbits. Which they do plenty of, believe you me. Aside from the outspoken ladies, another hallmark feature of this series is the fact we have a plethora of sexy, surly, alpha men who are uber-protective over their women. This is something that can be fairly standard in MC romances, but something I believe the author does a fantastic job of in each book is demonstrating how these men aren’t just going into protector mode because someone else is threatening to take away their possession, and it’s not because they view their women as weak or fragile crystals that can be easily broken. Instead Ms. McNeil paints us a picture of this strong group of men who have fallen so completely head over heels in love that these women have become the most precious and important thing in their entire lives, even stronger than the brotherhood they’ve formed amongst themselves. It’s true Brewer doesn’t want to see any harm come to Delphi herself, but I think the author has created this unbreakable link between the two characters that for him to see her hurt would also cause him an unbearable pain unlike any other he’s experienced before. Her pain would be his pain, and so he’ll do anything to preserve the bond between them. Even if it means possibly giving up on the revenge he’s sought for years to bring his parent’s killer to justice. 

The Betrayer

The identity of Shovelhead as Delphi’s possible father, while simultaneously being the man who gunned down Brewer’s parents definitely threw a curveball into their quickly evolving relationship. Brewer and his sister have both vowed to bring this man to justice, yet Delphi also wants a chance to confront and possibly even get to know the man she never knew was her biological father. Though an interesting form of conflict, it never felt as though it was incorporated as fully into Brewer and Delphi’s story as it should have been to really pose a threat to their connection. After all, Delphi lived her entire life thinking another man was her father, and it wasn’t until this other man lay dying on his deathbed that he admitted the fact someone else could be her real father. Then upon meeting Brewer she quickly learns more about the endless instances of deceit caused to the Macha MC at the hands of Shovelhead, including the murder of Brewer’s parents.

It just seemed surprising that she would still have a desire to build a relationship with this man she’s never met, a man who either abandoned or possibly raped her mother, who she now knows is a criminal and murderer, and that this desire to meet him could cause the downfall of her relationship with Brewer. Especially considering we know that Macha is an MC of integrity, and while every member of the club wants the chance to draw blood from Shovelhead, there’s no question that they would hand him over to the authorities before they’d ever risk killing him. I guess I never fully understood why there was this growing tension between Delphi and Brewer where Shovelhead was concerned. Perhaps if she had already established some kind of relationship with Shovelhead before discovering the true breadth of his crimes, or if Brewer was insisting that justice would result in Shovelhead’s death, the conflict between our two lovebirds would have made a bit more sense.

Beach Read Suspense

This is sort of the ideal beach read in that you get the perfect mix of romance and steam, with a little sprinkling of suspense mixed in as well. Now, I will say that while the dramatic side of the plot was intriguing, it probably could have been amped up another couple notches to really get the juices flowing. After all, this MC has been tracking the duplicitous traitor from their brotherhood for quite some time. He has betrayed and killed their own, including shooting down Brewer’s parents in cold blood, and the time has come for them to put the pedal to the metal and finally end his reign of terror. And yet…I couldn’t help but feel that everything came together almost too easily and uneventfully considering the amount of build-up we’ve been seeing across the series. This is true not only in how the matter of the traitor is concluded, but also during the most climactic scene of the novel wherein Delphi has been kidnapped by a rival MC. We’re basically told that she is rescued, and then the subsequent chapter goes back in time a bit to show how everything came together to rescue her, almost as a way of saying, “Don’t get too nervous, everything works out, remember?” That’s not to say that these scenes aren’t interesting, as they are successful in holding our interest,  but it didn’t really keep me on the edge of my seat like it could have. 

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Macha MC, book 4. I’ve only read books three and four in this series, and I must say now that I’m done I really want to go back and start from the beginning. While it’s possible to follow along with the characters and events having missed the first two books, I do think I could have had an even deeper appreciation and understanding of this world if I’d read the whole series from start to finish. Definitely something I’d recommend to all of you! 

Final Impressions: I’ll admit I’m not always a fan of MC romances. They can be dark, gritty, and I can’t help but feel that 9 times out of 10 the main characters are just covered in a grimy sheen of sweat…mixed with leather. This series is so different in the most fantabulous of ways. Yes, there are still bikes, leather cuts and standoffs with rival gangs, but the sense of brotherhood which this series evokes is quite beautiful. There’s camaraderie and love shared between these men, and while the club still has a group of sexy “nymphs” at their beck and call for sexy fun times, there’s still an underlying respect of women which doesn’t always seem to permeate the MC world of other romances. The fact this novel ends with the discussion of women finally being let into leadership roles in the club demonstrates the changing tide as new blood steps up to the forefront. Do I think the scenes of conflict could have been heightened a bit to truly amplify the suspense? Sure, but I can also appreciate not wanting to sweat things out too much in anticipation during a beach read, and the scenes depicting Delphi and Brewer’s evolving love affair stole the show anyways. Overall, a fun and entertaining read, a good series, and plenty of descriptive sex scenes to keep you satisfied. 

Smut Level: If flirtatious banter isn’t enough to get you to want to pick up this steamy read, then how about the fact that Delphi and Brewer’s first time together is in a tattoo shop chair? 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Hot Tree Publishing. 274 Pages. 

Lost on the Atlantic by Angela Christina Archer

Declan and Siobhan knew that their journey on the Titanic would change their lives forever. They never could have expected that by boarding the Ship of Dreams they were taking a step onto what would soon become their Ship of Nightmares. 

What’s it About? 

The gossip had spread across Ireland. People talked of her speed, size, and how even God couldn’t sink her.

Titanic—the ship that could forever change their lives.

With Ireland on the brink of war, passengers Siobhan and her husband Declan board the luxury steamer headed to America. While her husband dreams of a better life in a new country, she dreams of a life on stage, singing for audiences young and old. Having read the stories from her husband during the three years he helped build the ship, Siobhan is excited to see all the lavishness carved into every inch from the bow to the stern. Unfortunately, their third-class tickets hinder their ability to explore the deepest secrets of the first-class areas.

Determined to experience all the ship has to offer, they steal clothes from the cargo hold and pose as members of the elite, vowing to talk to no one. Their devious plan goes awry, however, as they soon find themselves not only invited to dinners and parties, but they are making friends with the rich and famous interested in helping Siobhan’s dream come true. Can they run the con long enough to make it to New York? Or will their lies catch up with them? And will it matter when the ship is headed toward a fate no one thought possible?

Quick Review

Angela Christina Archer has once again transported us to another time and place, this time from a small rural village in Ireland, to the wooden decks of the illustrious Titanic, and ultimately to the bright lights of New York City. While it’s hard to read this book without immediately comparing it to the 1997 film, or the true events of history itself, I would say that something Ms. Archer has done exceedingly well is provide us with a glimpse beyond the first class cabins and passengers the film and history books often prefer to focus on, and instead lets us walk the hallways of third class. That’s not to say we aren’t also introduced to a few familiar faces from history, including the stalwart and lovable Molly Brown, to the loving Astors, the top-hat wearing Mr. Guggenheim, and even the white-bearded Captain Smith. Beyond these known names though, we get to know the passengers and stories for those who were relegated to remain in the bowels of the ship.

For our lead characters, and so many others who shared the lower decks with them, the Titanic was not merely a pleasure cruise transporting them from one place to another. She was their salvation from poverty and war, bringing them to a land of promise. We see the years of toil and struggle that went into being able to afford just one ticket, rather than simply winning it with a lucky hand of cards during a poker game a la Leonardo DiCaprio. We also witness the immense heartbreak that went into leaving one’s country and family behind. For so many, they knew that they would most likely never be able to afford a return ticket home for a nice “visit”. The process of taking those steps onto the infamous ship was, in essence, a death of their former life which had to be mourned before they could fully celebrate the new adventure upon which they were embarking. To see that so many inevitably left one death behind just to move closer to another more permanent death is a whole other kind of heartbreak unleashed upon us. This book is certainly an emotional journey from start to finish, but for fans of Titanic history I would say it’s worth picking up. 

Series: The Wildflower Women Collection, book 4. I can’t recommend this series enough. Each book is a stand-alone, set in four very distinct periods of history. They are all connected in a way by the presence of a strong female-lead, trying to find a place in the world with the love of her life supporting her through all the obstacles they might face together as a couple. While it’s not necessary to read this series in order, I would say just keep in mind that the third and fourth novels are probably the most emotionally taxing of the bunch. You might want to build up to those!

Final Impressions: My biggest piece of advice when embarking upon this read is to plan it out when you can finish it all in one sitting. We all know the inevitable tragic fate that will befall this ship. However, we’re constantly held in a heightened level of suspense wondering what will happen to not only our beloved lead characters of Siobhan and Declan, but also the family and friends traveling along with them, as well as each and every character they happen to meet along the way. The iceberg is a constant shadow we know is lurking just beyond the horizon, and I have a feeling that if you put it down at any point you might find it hard to pick back up for fear of discovering which characters will survive or perish. In that sense, it’s actually a fairly quick read as I found myself picking up the pace with every page our married couple spends upon this ill-fated ship, desperate to find out if they’ll realize their American dream. I also spent about the last half of the book in tears, so again, aim for one sitting! My only complaint with this book came in the very very end, which felt too rushed. We almost have the opportunity to learn how some specific characters met their fate, but instead we just get a quick listed mention of who lived or died, even though we’re presented with a survivor who could have provided more of a first-hand account of what happened. Other than this rushed ending, it’s an interesting historical read of love and ambition.  

Smut Level: We might see reference to an automobile kept in the cargo hold of the Titanic, but don’t expect any post-coital sweaty hand-print moments in this read. A few kisses here and there, with everything else a fade-to-black. This tale rightfully focuses more attention on the emotional connection between Siobhan and Declan, especially as the sad fate of the Titanic crumbles around them. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Long Valley Press. 264 Pages. 

Fierce Obsessions by Suzanne Wright

He can’t stand her wisecracks and pomposity. She’s infuriated by his ego and skepticism. Sounds like a match made in mate shifter Heaven! 

What’s it About? 

When raven shifter Riley Porter was given sanctuary by the Phoenix Pack, she let them believe she had left her flock. Reluctant to divulge the secrets of her past, she was still embraced as family. Only Tao Lukas, the protective and passionate Head Enforcer of the pack, was resistant to the enigmatic shifter. Until Riley started to arouse in him something other than suspicion…

Tao doesn’t trust lone shifters, especially ones so guarded – and tempting. But the sexual tension between them is making them both come undone, and vulnerable to more than desire. All Tao wants is for Riley to stay with him and to trust him with the truth of her past…

As Riley’s mysteries come to light, so does a danger that threatens not only her life but the safety of the entire pack. For Tao, keeping Riley safe means keeping her close – forever – as his mate!

First Impressions

It’s been a few years since I last engaged with this series, and soon after starting this sixth book I quickly remembered how freakin’ fantabulous it is! If you’re a fan of shape-shifters, alpha wolf males and sassily resilient female leads, you definitely don’t want to miss out on everything this author and series has to offer. I may not have entered this world for some time now, but it simply took one step before I was thrust back into this close pack of characters with unique personalities and dynamics all their own. Riley and Tao certainly have a chemistry and connection which sets them apart from every couple which has come before, and their witty banter back-and-forth is the most delicious kind of foreplay. It’s expected for alpha male characters in romances like this to be the kings of one-liners, and while Tao can hold his own with the best of them, Riley has a piercing repartee that sets her far and above the rest. 

I relished the fact that this novel presented us with not only a dominant male, but also a dominant female who could dish back everything Tao was serving up. There’s a humor to their exchanges which manages to keep everything light-hearted in the face of some rather pointed remarks, and it’s clear that the more “insults” they hurl at each other, the more likely it becomes that Tao will soon be pushing Riley up against a wall, gripping her raven locks in a passionate embrace. It’s also clear that certain characteristics of their animal forms shine forth in their personalities. Tao is all kinds of growly and surly, but just like his wolf he has a stealthy and protective soft-side that you don’t expect to see upon first meeting. Riley might seem small and unassuming, similar to her inner-Raven, but that doesn’t mean she’s weak. Far from it, she’s a quick-witted trickster who can clearly take care of herself, and will stand up in the face of danger to protect not only herself, but those closest to her. Bringing these two passionate, over-protective and dominant characters together guaranteed that sparks would fly, and my Kindle was near set alight by the chemistry emitting from Riley and Tao. 

Fleeing the Flock

While the connection between main characters, as well as sexy fun times, have always been a strong hallmark of each book in the series so far, one detail which has had a tendency to fall short in previous novels was the dramatic plot point. This conflict would often involve human extremists who would turn to violence in their hatred of shifters, but it was typically pushed aside to simmer in the background for the full-breadth of the novel until one final climactic battle scene. Not terrible, but just not always brought to the forefront in a compelling way. This installment of the series brought not just one, but two gripping dramatic plot points front and center, and wove them together in a way that constantly had you questioning where the next attack would come from. On the one hand, we have a human criminal mob boss who is seeking out the healer of the Phoenix Pack to rehabilitate his dying brother, something which the healer wouldn’t be able to do without resulting in her own death. Let’s just say that the word “no” isn’t one that a somewhat psychotic mafioso likes to hear very often. The other element of drama for our lovebirds involves a tragedy which befell Riley’s raven flock years before, and one she’s been running from ever since. When Riley and Tao go back to her flock for a visit, an unknown enemy from the past tries to finish the job which was started but never completed.

While previous installments presented us with somewhat repetitious problems involving human extremists and lone shifters, this sixth book takes us in a different direction completely. Throughout the read you’re practically guaranteed to suspect almost every member of Riley’s flock of trying to kill her, while also wondering if it’s all just a distraction from the real threat of our treacherous mob boss. When Riley and Tao finally return to Phoenix Pack territory we question if they’re finally leaving the danger of Riley’s past behind, if it might follow them back home, or if they’re just leaving one threat behind to run straight back to another in the form of the mob boss. Perhaps a combo pack! While these two dramatic plot points fed off of each other quite seamlessly in a way that majestically amplified the suspense level, the only hindrance came in their conclusion. One story line is essentially the full focus of the climax, drawn out with constant twists and turns that will leave you on the edge of your seat. The other felt too rushed with how everything came together, clearly with the intention of focusing more attention on that other story line. Not terrible, but not as seamless a conclusion as I was hoping for. 

Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 6. If you’re looking for a steamy paranormal romance series with alpha heroes and powerful female leads, be sure to check out this series. 

Final Impressions: This was a fabulous addition to the series. Riley and Tao played off of each other so well. Their banter is simultaneously cutting, yet tongue-in-cheek. A scintillating flirtation that pulls you in from the very beginning, and won’t let you go until you’ve finished the last page. You’ll be fanning yourself from the steam coming off of this read, but it will also keep you in suspense as danger lurks behind every corner. Our lovebirds aren’t the only ones that will keep you entranced, as familiar faces from previous books return to create a sense of family within this pack of shapeshifters. My only complaint is that one of the story lines was too rushed in its final explanation, but other than that this is an exciting and fiery read that you’ll want to be sure and bring on your next beach vacation! 

Smut Level: Mkay….hot daaaaaang. The novel opens on the morning after a drunken sexcapade between our two lead characters, but don’t be disappointed on missing out on a description of their first time together. There will be a plethora of descriptive sexy fun times throughout the novel to keep you fully satisfied, especially considering we have two dominant and forthright characters that can go head to head. Pun absolutely intended 🙂 There is also one scene involving anal sex, just as an FYI for those of you who are or aren’t into that. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 305 Pages. 

Until Cobi by Aurora Rose Reynolds

He almost lost her before he even knew her. Now that Cobi has experienced his BOOM, he has no intention of wasting one more second to bring Hadley into his life. 

What’s it About? 

Cobi Mayson knows exactly who Hadley is to him the moment he sees her for the very first time. That doesn’t mean it will be easy for him to convince her to take a chance on him.

Hadley Emerson knows she could fall hard and fast for a guy like Cobi. A man who seems to show up every time she needs him, but she knows better than to just hand over her heart.

Knowing his future with Hadley is on the line, Cobi begins to tie their lives together. As the invisible rope that connects them tightens and things between them heat up, an unknown threat emerges threatening to take away their happily ever after and send them both into darkness.

First Impressions

Another fabulous addition to the Until family series that will make you wish for an insta-love BOOM moment of your very own. Consider yourself warned, if you’re not typically a fan of love at first sight, that is literally the hallmark feature which binds this entire series together. A Mayson family trait that can’t be escaped, ignored, or lessened. And Cobi Mayson is a most glorious example of an alpha male who doesn’t try to avoid that BOOM, he dives in with everything he has, and everything he wants is Hadley Emerson. This is an interesting addition to the Until Him/Her series in that it picks up immediately where the previous novel, Until Harmony, left off in a climactic shoot-out that left Hadley wounded in the hospital following her brave rescue of Cobi’s cousin. I’ve always suggested reading this series in order for the mere pleasure of not wanting to miss out on anything it has to offer, but for this seventh book especially I’d say it’s quite important to read the previous novel beforehand so as to fully understand the events which brought our two love birds together. As you can expect from this author by now, what follows is a delightfully steamy, yet also emotional tale of insta-romance between a male and female lead you love to love. 

The Impact of Trauma

While Cobi and Hadley’s romance was another fabulous addition to what has quickly become one of my favorite go-to series, there were a few areas that could have been tweaked to make this a truly stellar read. Firstly, Hadley’s troubled relationship with her lawbreaking parents is brought up a few times throughout the book, but their presence isn’t incorporated as fully as it should have been to make them feel like a critical component to the plot. Instead they came across as an annoyance that would come back at inopportune times, and even then we wouldn’t see a clear resolution to the blips their appearance would cause. Honestly, I don’t think they would have been missed if they’d been removed completely from the story. 

More importantly though, Until Cobi presents us with an intriguing, yet ultimately incomplete exploration of the aftermath of trauma. At the start of the novel we see how Hadley is struggling to cope following the horrific events of the previous book, wherein she was almost killed alongside Harmony at the hands of a mad-man. She feels the need to keep every light on in her house, has trouble falling asleep, and is often pulled out of sleep due to terrifying nightmares. We see Cobi, as well as Hadley’s closest friends, gather together to provide her support, and they convince her to seek help from a professional. We also get to see another one of my favorite tropes, which is that only when surrounded by the arms of her man can she find peace in sleep. Hadley’s journey back to something resembling normalcy was fully fleshed out in a tasteful and thoughtful way. However! As with any book in this series we eventually see a final climactic scene which puts our female lead in danger, and it was this second instance of a traumatic event which didn’t receive nearly the attention it deserved. 

It is in this aftermath of Cobi once again seeing the love of his life put in danger that we see the tables turned, and he is now the one who jerks awake from nightmares, and fears letting Hadley out of his sight in case danger should find her once again. And then…he gets over it in the span of a few paragraphs. It felt like such a missed opportunity for what could have been an enlightening comparison of Cobi’s path to healing compared to that of Hadley at the start of the book. Instead we get another somewhat unfortunate hallmark of this series, which is an ending that seems far too rushed for its own good. This book clocks in at just 239 pages, which makes it a satisfyingly quick beach read, but I gladly would have faced another 50 pages if it meant we could have observed what happens when an alpha male is brought to his knees by the forced realization that the love of his life could be ripped away at any moment. To see the strong, knight in shining armor crumble at the simple fragility of life. But to then see the strength of his love for this woman bring him back out of the darkness? That’s the full circle story I would have liked to see. 

Series: Until Him/Her, book 7. As always, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this series. 

Final Impressions: By this point in the series I’m starting to see that some other readers are getting “bored” with the repetitive nature of the plot progression. Insta-love, alpha male, lots of sexy fun times, fairly low drama, final climactic scene where female lead is put in danger. Fin. Surprisingly, I still find myself falling in love with every new couple we get the opportunity to meet, as well as the beloved secondary characters that make each novel feel as though you’re coming home to friends you’ve known for years. What some may see as a tired progression, I actually find comforting in the reliability of the series as a whole. I know I’ll be entertained, probably laugh a few times, reach the brink of tears a time or two, and get some deliciously descriptive bedroom/bathroom/kitchen scenes thrown into the mix. What’s not to love? 

Smut Level: Hadley has never been one to luxuriate in a hot bath, but Cobi is more than willing to show her just how fun and steamy a romp in the tub can be. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 239 Pages. 

Dominik by Sawyer Bennett

They both assumed that one night together would be enough. But you know what they say happens when you assume! 

What’s it About? 

I built myself up from nothing. A product of the foster care system, I learned early on how to fight hard to get what I want. Whether it was starting my first company in college, earning my first billion, or buying my first professional sports team, I know how to get what I want, when I want it. Until now.

Willow Monahan is fierce, independent, and hot as hell. She also takes great pleasure in shutting down my advances. The younger sister of one of my star players, Willow intrigues me to my very core. And while she may have willingly given me her body, she is hesitant to offer up more. Now I’m on a mission to find out why.

I’ve decided to approach my desire for Willow like I’ve approached much of my life; with persistence, determination, and a whole lot of that Dominik Carlson alpha charm. Buying a hockey expansion team, building the Arizona Vengeance from the ground up, and bringing home a championship may prove to be an easier feat than winning Willow’s heart. But I’ve never been a quitter. Willow Monahan… I’m coming for you.

First Impressions

The romance between Arizona Vengeance billionaire team owner, Dominik Carlson, and the sister of one of his star players, Willow Monahan, has been hinted at several times over the last few books. It’s a passion that has teased and intrigued, as we’re presented with a game of cat and mouse that’s been turned on its head. While we all expect this billionaire alpha to be in hot pursuit of the female lead, it’s unexpectedly titillating to see her try and push him away at every turn to his initial advances. Eventually we see her admit that there’s definitely something simmering between them which can no longer be ignored, but rather than give into any kind of emotional connection she might be feeling towards Dominik, she insists that they only treat themselves to exploring the physical. It might not be what Dominik had in mind, but his libido certainly can’t give up on such a tempting offer. These two are hot and heavy from moment one, and while most of their scenes in the bedroom will leave you fanning yourself, others will make you realize they’re avoiding difficult conversations (and even arguments) with each other by falling into bed. Or on the couch. It’s also the critical scenes which take place outside of the bedroom (with clothes on) that might leave you slightly frustrated. 

The Present and Missing Flaws

Dominik and Willow are unlike any characters which have been presented in the series so far, and their tale of romance is also unique to them in a variety of ways, mainly in that most everything we see is flawed in some form. They both react to various scenarios in ways that will make you want to slap them upside the head a time or two. For example, all the times that Willow continuously ignored Dominik’s attempts to initiate a date beyond the bedroom. Come on girl, give him a chance already! Then there’s the time when Dominik’s alpha-ness extends beyond the bedroom as he insists Willow stop putting herself in dangerous situations to pursue her journalism career. Umm, no no no, not cool dude. Or how about when Dominik chooses to end their relationship completely because Willow turned down his marriage proposal in the heat of the moment following a big win by his hockey team? Even though she begged him to be understanding in her need for just a bit more time to put words to these unbelievable feelings she’s never felt for anyone else? Nope, he throws a mini temper tantrum, puts his house up for sale and refuses to respond to her calls and texts, perhaps as a direct payback to how she treated him at the start of the novel. We haven’t really seen such childish reactions from any other couple in the series, so it kind of threw me for a loop to suddenly be presented with a male lead I wouldn’t characterize as my “ideal book boyfriend”. 

The fact that Willow is so determined to keep her relationship with Dominik reserved to sex rather than forming any kind of emotional attachment means that the bulk of the interactions we’re presented with are physical in nature. I certainly love a good sex scene, and this installment is filled to bursting with some delectable ones, but when you look back on the series as a whole so far you can’t help but feel that something crucial was missing in the progression of Dominik and Willow’s story. They needed to open up to each other more about how past hurt and tragedy influenced who they are today. After all, Dominik lost his parents at a young age, and grew up in foster care. It’s no surprise therefore that he’d seek control in every aspect of his life, or that the bulk of his relationships up to this point have involved him being the one to leave first so as not be left behind once again. As for Willow, she was betrayed years ago by the man she thought was the love of her life, so we can understand her need to construct barriers in the hopes that no man will ever weasel his way back in to break her heart. We as the audience are privy to these difficult pasts through exposition, but it’s never fully discussed by our couple together in an emotional moment of vulnerability. These moments are hallmarks of the previous novels, and the absence of them in this sixth book was felt hard.  

Series: Arizona Vengeance, book 6. I don’t really know what to expect from the next lead of this series, as it’s a player of the Arizona Vengeance we haven’t seen much so far in the series. I’ll still jump in with both feet! 

Final Impressions: Our lead characters are far from perfect, and while they grow in some areas throughout the read, we still see imperfections and room for improvement in others. Was this…frustrating? Sure! Is it probably more realistic than most of the other relationships we’ve been presented with so far in the series? Absolutely. That being said, most of us dive deep in these romances to lose ourselves in another world, and this book kind of reminds you in a not so fun way that not everyone is perfect and some imperfections are left without resolution. Not everything is tied up in a big red bow by the end of this read, including how Willow’s career will fit into their relationship going forward, or if they’ll continue to throw hissy fits whenever the going gets tough. We do get a somewhat far-fetched climatic scene towards the end that is supposed to convince us they both realize the most important thing in the world is their love for each other, and that they can overcome any other obstacle as long as they are together. Let’s just say unfortunately I’m not 100% convinced. 

Smut Level: Oh boy. As with most other features of this novel, the sultry scenes are also not necessarily without fault. Granted, most had me needing to douse myself with a glass of very cold water. Others might leave you feeling a tad uncomfortable, like when Dominik shoves his tie in Willow’s mouth to essentially shut her up before they once again go at it like bunnies. Definitely an “eek” kind of moment. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $6.99 Kindle Price. Big Dog Books, LLC. 322 Pages. 

Until Harmony by Aurora Rose Reynolds

This series is all about that BOOM, and this installment just goes to show that if you try to push the BOOM aside, it will come back full force for the ultimate impact. 

What’s it About? 

Harmony Mayson isn’t the kind of girl to take unnecessary risk, but after meeting Harlen MacCabe, she starts to wonder if maybe she should be. The more time she spends with the wild and free biker, the more she starts to crave the freedom he gives her…. And even more, she starts to crave him. 

Harlen lives his life on his own terms. After losing both his parents at an early age to a robbery gone bad, he knows how precious life is, and he’s determined to get as much out of it as he can. When he runs into the beautiful Harmony and finds out she’s moving to town, he knows it’s time to take his shot. 

She thinks he only wants to be friends, but she couldn’t be more wrong. What Harmony and Harlen don’t know is that their time might be cut short. Revenge is in the air, and someone won’t stop until a debt is settled.

First Impressions

For avid readers of the entire Until series, if you’ve made it this far to the sixth book of Until Her/Until Him, believe me when I say you’re going to love it just as much as all the others which have come before. And if you haven’t read any of these books before…then what the heck is wrong with you?! Get on it already. This book presents us with everything we know and love about the series: a sexy and growl-y alpha male, a strong and tenacious female, lovable side characters (both new and beloved old friends), and of course, the BOOM that brings our two love birds together. What I loved so much about this installment was that Harmony and Harlen sort of try to suppress the immediate connection which has brought them together in the first place. 

Our novel opens with a chance meeting in a hospital parking lot after Harmony secures a job as a nurse there, and while Harlen would like nothing more than to throw her on the back of his bike to go celebrate, they both recognize the hesitation that Harmony feels about throwing all caution to the wind. After all, she’s no risk taker, so the idea of giving into her feelings for this seemingly bad-boy biker causes her to pause, an action that Harlen can see clear as day. While she declines his invitation for a joy ride, no matter how much she might want to say yes, this isn’t the end for our main characters. Harlen respects the boundaries of this initial rejection, but he refuses to let this be the end of their story. Throughout the next few chapters we see Harlen slowly try to reignite a connection with Harmony, but he’s almost too slow for his own good as it results in Harmony thinking he just wants to be friends. The more time they spend together as “buddies”, the more our risk-averse heroine contemplates the ultimate risk of laying all of her feelings out on the table. And once she does? Well, there’s no going back after that BOOM. 

The Happily Ever After

I was personally delighted by the subsequent romance which played out between our two lead characters, especially when we consider that Harmony was sort of the one to initiate it by finally acting on her desires for Harlen with a passionate kiss. Sure, she immediately tries to avoid him afterwards from embarrassment at the thought that maybe he didn’t want to be anything more than friends, but he’s more than willing to come after her to prove otherwise. I guess in a way it was a mutual overtaking of desire. The rest of their story is relatively drama free and even-paced as they easily fall into a relationship with each other. Harmony is willing to stand up to her overprotective father, Nico, to convince him that Harlen is the man of her dreams, just as Harlen won’t back down to convince Nico he’ll do anything to protect his beloved daughter. Harlen does indeed epitomize the characteristics of an alpha male, but I also appreciated that Harmony wasn’t afraid to poke the bear every once in a while. 

He demands a kiss before she leaves for work, or else he’ll have fun punishing her later? Well, she cheekily saunters out the door sans kiss to see just what he has in mind, and my goodness does she enjoy her “punishment”. Nothing like being held up against the wall for some sexy fun times, and yet in their post-passion haze we see Harlen put down his alpha wall to openly acknowledge how he does need that kiss from her every morning to make it through his day until he can see her again. And that’s one of the aspects I love about this series. Our alpha males clearly have a sensitive side to them, and we never doubt that the love they feel for their ladies goes deeper than merely a sexual component. There’s heart beneath it all. 

Series: Until Her/Until Him, book 6. It was so much fun diving back into this world. We get a brief introduction towards the end of this read of who the main characters will be for book 7, and I am more than ready to get started!

Final Impressions: This is the perfect kind of beach read. Funny, sexy, heartfelt, with just a smidge of drama to keep things interesting. The primary focus of the read truly is on the evolving relationship between Harlen and Harmony from their BOOM to friends to lovers, but delicately interwoven throughout the novel is an underlying sense of conflict involving a handsy doctor at Harmony’s work. The author does a fantastic job of simultaneously keeping this drama primarily reserved for the background, yet also slowly elevating it throughout the progression of the novel before it ultimately breaks through for a final, suspenseful climax. Be sure to add this one to your TBR pile. 

Smut Level: Harmony might express a bit of timidity when Harlen first expresses an interest in her, but once they finally end up in each other’s arms all sense of hesitancy is thrown right out of the bedroom. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 239 Pages.

One Shingle to Hang by Deann Smallwood

When Lil looked to the future, all she ever saw was the law. She’s defied family expectations, not to mention societal norms, to open her own law practice. Marriage never seemed to be on the table. But all of that changes when one rugged cowboy with a threat against his life walks in seeking her help. 

What’s it About? 

A woman with too much knowledge was at risk for insanity. Her fragile mind couldn’t handle it. That’s what Lil had been told when she went against convention and became an attorney. The 1800’s had fewer women lawyers than women doctors. Her pride knew no bounds when she hung her shingle—L.M. Wentfield, Attorney At Law.

Drew was a struggling cattle rancher, building a fledgling Hereford empire. He was working toward that goal when he was accused of rustling and faced possible hanging. He needed a lawyer—a good one—a man. Chesterfield had one lawyer—a new one—L.M. Wentfield. He wasn’t prepared for a beautiful blonde with a sharp tongue and fiercely won independence.

Lil had no homemaking abilities. Her love was the law. And if the thoughts of the gray-eyed cowboy, who had the audacity to refuse her legal help, stayed in her mind, she’d push them aside. She had nothing to offer a rancher . Even her wealth wouldn’t be considered an asset to a prideful man. And Drew Jackson was proud. So proud, he knew he couldn’t ask a woman of Lil’s stature to share his life—but he wanted to—from the moment he’d stolen that first kiss.

First Impressions

This is a cute, light-hearted read whose synopsis was unfortunately more enticing than the story itself. I’m always excited to pick up a historical romance that will regal us with a strong female character who is “ahead of her time”. While Lil was certainly a headstrong and quick-witted female lead, I was rather disappointed we didn’t get to see her engage more with the law. After moving to this small mountain town with the goal of opening her own law practice, the most lawyer-ly activity we see her pursue is writing up an ironclad will for her first ever client who deigned to giver her a chance. When it comes to helping Drew, the dashing cattle rancher in need of legal help, Lil almost transforms more into an intelligent private detective than a lawyer.

She even goes so far as to set up a sting operation with the local sheriff to catch Drew’s accuser in a lie. An entertaining scene to be sure, but I was holding out hope for a dramatic courtroom argument where Lil could truly showcase her law prowess. The fact we are never privy to one scene in court throughout the entirety of the novel was the peak of disappointment, not to mention that Drew’s drama is resolved quite early on in the novel. Even though an act of revenge from Drew’s nemesis is hinted at in the beginning, it’s a threat which never comes to fruition. Instead the focus of the novel switches to the budding romance between Drew and Lil, which was certainly an adorable relationship you proceed to root for, but the flow of the story probably could have benefited from bringing the conflict involving Drew’s land and cattle business back full circle. As things stood, that particular story line was left feeling unfinished. 

The High Point

While the story didn’t quite live up to the hype of the synopsis, one area where this novel truly excelled was in the characters. This is a world you want to live in, or at least have the opportunity to visit, merely in the hopes of sitting down to a cookout with our outspoken female lawyer, her devilishly handsome and selfless rancher, the candid yet caring housekeeper and her precocious granddaughter, just to name a few. Even our villains were characters you loved to hate, from the nefarious cowboy who has his sights set on Drew’s ranch, to Lil’s conservative parents who threaten to stand in the way of everything she’s built for herself. I can’t remember the last time I was so inclined to don a pair of gloves, merely so I could rip them off to haughtily slap a fictional character’s face.

Even though the author should be commended for the creation of such distinct and hypnotizing personalities, it was also a little disappointing to see the introduction of some fascinating characters at the start of the novel, only to have them fade away from the story completely by the midway point. I think this can once again be attributed to the flow of the plot, which was too distinctly segmented into Lil setting up shop, Drew seeking her help with his legal troubles, and then the slow evolution of their romantic relationship after his legal conflict is resolved. This meant that when one segment was settled, there wasn’t an attempt to bring back some of the characters and drama from that section into a later one.

Series: Chesterfield Colorado series, book 1. Though a sweet read, I’m not sure I’ll continue on with this series. 

Final Impressions: Greater cohesion for how this story unfolded, as well as further incorporation of Lil’s law knowledge, really could have made this historical romance a standout read. It seemed like an odd choice to suggest that the source of Drew’s legal drama at the beginning would come back to seek revenge against him and Lil, but then abandon that story line completely. The book as a whole is relatively conflict free, so to bring in Lil’s parents as the final source of drama for the book felt random compared to the possibility of fully resolving the outstanding risk of Drew’s nemesis. Lastly, every great legal story, from Philadelphia to My Cousin Vinny has an exciting courtroom scene of opposing counselors, so never giving Lil the chance to prove herself in court seemed like a wasted opportunity for some delightful entertainment. 

Smut Level: The most sensual moment of this read is when Drew and Lil share a jug of lemonade together in a shaded, hidden meadow. Their clothes stay on the whole time, and the biggest step they take is a brush of lips, but there’s something about that lemonade scene, as they contemplate where each other’s lips have just been that will make you giddy with excitement. Who knew? 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE Kindle book. Soul Mate Publishing, LLC. 213 Pages.  

Tacker by Sawyer Bennett

He never thought there was a way to move beyond the tragedy which changed his life forever, but one woman helps him see what it means to live…and love…again. 

What’s it About?

I am not okay. Fifteen months ago, my life was turned upside down when the plane I was piloting went down. Injured and trapped in the wreckage, I had to watch my fiancée die a painfully slow death, which is something that can really mess with your head. Since that day, I’ve had little desire to do much of anything. Except play hockey, that is. Because that is the one place where the bad memories are banished and I can escape my pain. But off the ice, I’m spiraling out of control. Losing the grip on my life and putting myself and my career in danger. Now, thanks to a string of bad decisions, I’ve been ordered to complete therapy in order to stay on the team.

The problem? Nora Wayne, my beautiful and somewhat unconventional therapist. I can’t buy into the brand of happy clappy crap this woman is feeding me. What could she possibly understand about the type of loss that I’ve suffered? How does she know anything about finding happiness after losing the most important person in your life? Turns out, I’ve got a lot to learn, and she’s just the person I need to break through those walls I’ve erected. I am not okay. But for the first time in a long time, I know that I will be.

First Impressions

Everything in the Arizona Vengeance series has been building to this moment. Tacker. Our troubled captain of the Arizona Vengeance hockey team was first introduced all the way back in book one, and with every new addition to the series he has spiraled further down a rabbit hole of depression. What began as surly solitude slowly escalated to a brawl on the ice, and ultimately a drunken car crash that left Tacker physically broken. We readers were left emotionally broken, and the rest of his team were left questioning if he meant to end it all that day by purposely ramming his car into the concrete wall. In this fifth installment, we finally find out why. We’ve always known he lost his fiancée a mere 15 months before in a horrific small craft plane crash, but this is the first time we are offered a scene by scene breakdown of not only the crash itself, but also the agonizing hours afterwards as Tacker watched the love of his life slowly and painfully fade away from him. And cue the need for tissues. It’s no wonder he’s at the end of his rope, and I have been wracking my brain with each read contemplating what the turning point could possibly be that would lead him back to a road of recovery. His teammates have certainly helped, as we’ve seen an expanding sense of fraternal brotherhood spread throughout our group of heroes thus far in the series. Nevertheless, it hasn’t been enough. As it turns out, it will only take one woman to pull him into the light, and it’s a woman who has seen her own fair share of darkness in the past.  

Sharing Trauma

The emotional connection which develops between our two lead characters after sharing the details of their respective traumatic pasts is the hallmark of this book. It’s a connection that is not initially borne of romance or lust, but simply the acknowledgement that they have both encountered hurt and heartache, and Nora acts as a guiding beacon for Tacker to demonstrate how life can in fact get better. At first, it would seem that Nora and Tacker couldn’t have that much in common. He’s a successful hockey player, she immigrated to the US years before, and is now a therapist who incorporates horses into the treatment of her patients. And yet, they surprisingly both know what it’s like to have everything they hold most dear in the world ripped from their arms. Nora herself is a survivor of war, and had to witness her entire family killed right in front of her, including her beloved sister who was raped before the final death blow was dealt. These moments where Tacker and Nora opened up to each other were the most emotionally heartbreaking scenes of the entire read, and I’ll admit I was tempted to skim through all of the details to avoid the anguish of it all. 

However, it’s the very nature of that torment which allows you to appreciate their stories even more. To compare just a few pages of discomfort against their lifetime of turmoil is, well…practically impossible to compare. This brings us to the other moment of brilliance with this read, which is that Nora and Tacker are seemingly always kept on an equal footing. There’s never a competition over who has more scars, or who shed more tears. Tacker can relate to Nora in the fact that she has also experienced painful loss, and he sees hope in the fact that she has seemingly come out stronger on the other side of that darkness. It’s no wonder a bond developed unlike any other a teammate or other therapist could possibly offer. This connection was the missing piece of the puzzle that was needed for Tacker to get his life back on track. Unfortunately, it is this same bond that also caused a few moments of pause for me in fully loving this fifth book. 

Blurring the Line

Simply put, there was something missing from this book. It’s a bit hard to pinpoint exactly what that element was, but I have a few theories. First and foremost, as previously mentioned, we have been waiting for the breakthrough of Tacker’s story since book one. It couldn’t be helped that expectations would be high, and maybe it was impossible for any final product to live up to those expectations. Don’t get me wrong, this was still a good read, but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. The first half of the novel, which primarily focused on the therapeutic breakthroughs for Tacker, was definitely stronger than the second half. And this brings me to what I think may have been my biggest hang-up with the book: the romance. I personally don’t feel enough attention was lent to clearly distinguish the emotional connection from the romantic one that Tacker was developing towards Nora. As soon as Nora opened up about her traumatic past, Tacker knew she was the only possibly therapist for him. The more time they spent together both within and outside of their therapy sessions, the more Nora could help him heal and move on from the past, which is when Tacker starts to consider a romantic relationship with her. In Romancelandia, we know his growing feelings towards Nora are rooted in love and friendship, but I think it would have been helpful to build in more of that real world conversation which would inevitably occur if a patient wanted to ask their therapist out on a date. Is he truly falling for Nora, the woman? Or is he simply falling for the therapist with whom he’s developed an emotional bond? 

We also never really fully explore Nora’s willingness to date Tacker, especially considering she has no doubt probably developed some kind of bond with multiple patients throughout the years as she’s opened up about her tragic past. Her initial discomfort over the idea of dating a patient is sort of quickly brushed aside when Tacker admits he’s going to start seeing a different therapist so that Nora will no longer have a professional conflict of interest. There isn’t really a full resolution to the idea of potentially seeing a regression in Tacker’s progress by halting his professional sessions with Nora, and he also defaults to seeing a therapist with whom he failed to connect at the start of the novel. In addition, after this transition from therapist/patient to boyfriend/girlfriend, we sort of see a blurring of lines as Tacker and Nora continue to discuss the emotional impact of his blossoming relationship with Nora as it relates to him moving on from his dead fiancée. On the one hand, it can 100% be interpreted as a healthy exchange of feelings and open communication between a new couple, but on the other you can’t help but wonder if Nora is still defaulting to her role as his therapist even if she is no longer technically employed in that role anymore. While it’s easy to brush it off by saying that both of those factors can co-exist, it could have provided some powerful moments of discussion and even friction for Nora and Tacker to explore this new transition of their relationship. 

Series: Arizona Vengeance, book 5. I am going to attack the next installment of this series with an unbridled level of enthusiasm! 

Final Impressions: There were many elements which resulted in this story being a good read, but there were also several which prevented it from being a great one. The first half of the novel is unquestionably the standout feature of the book. It’s a simultaneously grim, yet beautiful exploration of trauma, and how it’s possible to move on from unimaginable loss. While I wasn’t thrilled with every aspect of Tacker and Nora’s romantic relationship, I was pretty ecstatic that nothing threatened to tear them apart after they decided to take their relationship to the next level. Goodness knows these two have experienced enough heartache, so to see them join together to overcome any potential obstacle or bump in the road was rather inspiring. 

Smut Level: Tacker has been on quite the journey to ultimately end up with Nora in his arms, and when he finally does he experiences a moment of hesitation to finally give into the physical desires he’s managed to keep in check for so long. Once Nora tells him it’s ok to let go though? Who knew she would be releasing a sex god?! I mean, you just know that when a couple manages to pop an air mattress in the midst of their lovemaking, yet still successfully manage to step off to the side to finish together without breaking their connection, that you’re in for a good ride. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Big Dog Books, LLC. 348 Pages.

Deceitfully Yours by Bethany Bazile

Jude was just supposed to be another mark, but it doesn’t long before Kylie finds herself breaking the number one rule of con artists: falling in love with her target.

What’s it About?

Jude Baxter knows instantly that he wants Kylie in his bed. What he didn’t realize is that she’s everything he’s been looking for. When lust turns into love, Jude puts everything on the line to make Kylie his.

Kylie Weber manipulates situations to get what she needs from men, but Jude knocks her off her game. Jude is unexpected and exciting. Kylie soon finds herself erotically entangled in Jude chains and rope, but worst of all she’s gotten her heart entangled in this very dynamic man.

Will the secret she keeps from him cost her everything she never knew she needed?

Quick Review

I’ll be the first to admit that BDSM romances typically aren’t my favorite, but nevertheless I like to try them out every once in a while to mix things up. Therefore, I was a bit surprised that this one managed to hold my interest essentially from start to finish, primarily due to the fact that this wasn’t simply another introduction into the world of whips and spanking, though that was still certainly a prominent feature in the sexual relationship between Kylie and Jude. Beneath the sexual layers of our lead couple we’re also presented with an intriguing con of deception. We know pretty much from the start of the novel that Kylie has her sights set on Jude for some kind of ploy, but as the novel evolves we are privy to the dark details behind Kylie’s motivations in that she is merely working at the behest of a criminal who proves to be the penultimate puppet master, constantly pulling the strings of this vulnerable woman to meet his every whim.

While this side plot successfully added a layer of suspense to the overall story, the short length of this novel at just 241 pages resulted in a lack of depth to what could have been a truly engaging story arch. Instead, we can’t help but feel left wanting when it comes to the relationship which develops between our lead characters, as well as the drama involving Kylie’s con and dubious employer. We’re never provided with enough dialogue or attention to become fully invested in what Kylie’s employer was after, the reintroduction of someone from Kylie’s past, or why our couple became so enamored with each other so quickly considering Jude was always suspect of Kylie’s ulterior motives. The entire novel builds to a climactic twist of a reveal, but unfortunately it was one that seemed fairly obvious from the get-go, not to mention the utter disappointment in discovering that Kylie was aware of this twist all along. I won’t spoil it for the rest of you, but let’s just say things would have been significantly more intriguing if Kylie was just as surprised by the big reveal as the rest of us were also supposed to be. In spite of Kylie’s cryptic warnings to Jude that something from her past would threaten their relationship, but to always remember how much she loved him, Jude is quick to throw her to the side when the going gets tough.

Series: This premier book was supposed to be followed by a sequel featuring friends of Kylie and Jude, but I’m not sure if it was ever released.

Final Impressions: Throughout the entire read we know it’s simply a matter of time before Jude discovers that Kylie’s initial pursuit of him was due to nefarious plotting, and that this inevitable reveal would threaten the very foundation of their relationship. We keep hoping that Kylie will open up to Jude about how she’s been trapped into conning him by the machinations of her scheming employer, but alas, she chooses to keep this crucial detail to herself until it’s far too late. At one point I was willing to push aside this somewhat aggravating trope when I thought it meant that Kylie was refusing to reveal her secrets to Jude so that she could stand up to the villain all her own without needing to rely on Jude to solve her problems for her. Unfortunately, not only do we see that Jude is needed to ultimately bring our heinous wretch to justice, but he then brings Kylie’s initial deceit into their BDSM practices as a way to “punish” her. Even though Kylie always enjoys the dominant ministrations which Jude subjects her to, I couldn’t help but feel this straddled the line of mental manipulation to a point that went beyond their typical forays of pain and pleasure.

Smut Level: Goodness gracious, golly gee, this one is certainly a doozy when it comes to delightfully excessive dirty talk and deliciously explicit sex scenes. At first I thought we were only introduced to a few BDSM moments at the start of their relationship, before things transitioned back to rather vanilla scenes of lovemaking, but the author manages to bring things back full throttle by the end back to d/s play.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 241 Pages.

The Billionaire’s Beauty by Ava Ryan

This Beauty and the Beast adaptation presents us with perhaps the best reaction of our female lead being presented with the most exquisite library in existence. Pushing that surly hunk of a hero up against the library wall for some sexy fun times.

What’s it About?

They call him The Beast for good reason. Now this billionaire boss wants his beautiful–and off-limits–assistant…

Griffin: They call me The Beast. Some people think I’m a bully. I’m not here to make friends. I ruthlessly clawed my way to the top of the real estate market in NYC. No friends needed.

She’s my feisty executive assistant. My right hand… woman. We have an unspoken arrangement: she pretends I’m smarter than she is while I pretend not to notice how sexy she is.

That was before she gave me her notice while wearing that dress.

I can do a lot. Run my family empire. Ignore the loneliness the top brings. Punch anyone who looks twice at her. But letting her go without a fight? Over my dead body…

Quick Review

This second novel in the Fairy Tale Billionaires series is very loosely inspired by that most classic of fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast. While there were certain elements we could all clearly recognize from the original, from a surly male lead with a soft side to the intelligent woman who isn’t afraid to stand up to him. There’s the traditional presentation of an expansive library, a west wing with a troubled past, the beloved father of our heroine, and last but not least a mention of a rose garden. That being said, this reiteration still manages to stand on it’s own two feet without relying too heavily on the progression of events from the original source material, which was quite refreshing. Some of these secondary elements get just the briefest of mentions, whereas others take upon a life of their own with a twist or two on what we might expect. There might not be an enchantress who put a spell on our hero to make him a Beast in appearance, but instead we focus on a difficult man who has been significantly influenced by the trauma of his past, the beauty who frustrates him in one moment while calming him in another, and finally the ever present reminder that their time together has an end date.

There was an interesting contradiction at play to constantly see Griffin argue with himself that he’s not prepared to be the partner Bellamy would need in a relationship, yet also seeing his alpha side break to loose by insisting he’ll be the one to protect and care for her in every way possible. As for Bellamy, she has all the spunk and toughness you could possibly want in a female lead. When Griffin was at his beastiest, or insistent on treating her like his possession, she would turn from sultry romantic interest to a vocal and determined adversary who wasn’t afraid to point out how he was being a total ass. That being said, as they proceed to take their relationship from one level to the next, she was also insightful enough to notice when his shitty behavior was being influenced by the fear and vulnerability borne of his troubled past. Bellamy knew how to navigate the fine line of pushing Griffin to explore the emotional turmoil of his childhood, while also giving him the space needed to come to certain realizations on his own rather than at her constant prodding. We ultimately see that the deep-rooted fear of Griffin being abandoned leads him to try and push away the only woman he’s ever truly cared for so that he can be the one to end things rather than being left behind once again. I wasn’t quite expecting for something that initially started as a light-hearted, sexy office romp to slowly evolve into a heartbreaking examination of loss and the healing power of love.

Series: Fairy Tale Billionaires, book 2. I didn’t read book one in this series before giving this one a go, but I must say I’m now intrigued to finish the rest of the series in its entirety. The love stories for these brothers are clearly taking place at the same time, so the small glimpse I’ve had of Griffin’s brothers and their respective love interests has tickled me pink.

Final Impressions: This was a fun and sexy read that successfully managed to avoid using the classic Beauty and the Beast tale as a crutch to lean upon. Griffin’s traumatic past played a key role in shaping him into the bastard he’s become today, and I appreciated the focus on this troubled history while simultaneously exploring how the progression of his relationship with Bellamy might be the force needed to break through the walls he’s built around him all these years. Bellamy was certainly a force to be reckoned with in her own right, and never allowed Griffin to have the upper-hand in intimidating her into submission. If anything, he was like putty in her hands, even when their bickering was somewhat over-the-top. I will say I wish we had seen Bellamy’s father incorporated a more fully into the story, and not just because the father figure was such a key character of the original fairy tale. He clearly plays a crucial role in Bellamy’s life, but his presence is solely limited to phone calls, which was rather disappointing. A perfectly pleasant read overall though.

Smut Level: This book adds significantly more steam and raunchiness to the classic fairy tale romance we’re all familiar with, which was just positively wonderful. I will say though, the several references to Bellamy’s…nether region as smelling/tasting of fresh oysters was…unexpected.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. I got this book for free on Amazon not too long ago, and it looks as though the other books in the series alternate between being available for free. 208 Pages.