A Paradox of Fates by Rebecca Hefner

Lainey is determined to succeed in her quest to solve time travel. It’s her destiny. But when hunky military captain, Hunter, comes along she starts to question if fate has something else in store for her.

What’s it About? 

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One woman bred to save the world…

Dr. Elaine “Lainey” Randolph was born with one sole purpose: to prevent the past. With her brilliant mind and unwavering spirit, she works tirelessly to solve the equations that will finally unlock the mystery of time travel. Then, she will leave the post-apocalyptic future her grandfather created and travel back in time to prevent his calamitous actions.

When handsome military captain Hunter Rhodes appears at Lainey’s remote scientific hub, he offers her protection. But there are strings attached to the mysterious soldier’s proffer, and Lainey finds herself wary of the man who stokes unwelcome longing and desire in her unemotional heart. For Lainey is a scientist, obdurate and dispassionate toward the notion of romantic love.

As Lainey’s band of ragtag scientists and loyal soldiers endeavor to escape the dystopian future, the evil New Establishment threatens to destroy them all. In their unpredictable timeline, the nefarious regime has become all-powerful and will stop at nothing to ensure complete world domination…

First Impressions

This is the second series I’ve seen from Ms. Hefner, and she once again does a fantastic job at presenting us with a world so unique and distinct from our own that you can’t help but be drawn in from page one. However, we also see hints of the familiar strewn throughout this environment that connects us to the characters living within. And what characters they are! There’s Lainey, our devoted scientist who is hell bent to save mankind from the dastardly deeds of her family in the past. She’s a pillar of strength, intelligence, yet there’s also a sprinkling of vulnerability that chips away at this hardened shell she’s built around herself.

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There’s Hunter, the military captain who is a complete stranger to Lainey and her crew, who presents an image of strength and protection, yet also has a soft side to his personality which allows him to get close to Lainey in spite of her protests. And last but not least, there are Lainey’s friends and fellow compatriots. As a unit, they are set and determined in their goal to make a better future for the world by changing the events of the past. Beyond this joint mission though, we see the individual personalities of each character come through to the forefront, and you become entranced by their stories, pains, and tales of love. The plot of the novel is strong, but it’s really these characters the author has created which provide the essential foundation to our own commitment of discovering what fate has in store for them.

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Her Life’s Mission

Since the moment she was born, it has been instilled in Lainey that she has one sole purpose in life. She’s spent her whole life training, studying, and striving to be the savior the world desperately needs. To decipher the possibility of time travel, go back, and prevent the launch of the dystopian future which is their current reality. But in the quest for that noble cause we sadly discover that she has never really had the chance to live a life of her own choosing. Only once did Lainey allow herself to entertain the idea of falling in love, and it ended in such catastrophe that she’s convinced herself she’s not worthy of romance. Rather, the mission of preventing the past, “…was her sole reason for existing. There was no room to focus on anything else.”

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That all changes when Hunter Rhodes comes strutting into her life with a toothpick between his lips. Who knew such a habit could be so damn sexy, or that Hunter’s oral fixation would quickly become her fixation as well? Hint hint, wink wink. Hunter helps Lainey realize that while they can still fight the good fight to bring down a common enemy, there’s more to life than this one mission. There’s passion, companionship, friendship and love. He shows her how to finally start living life by giving into her desires. Deciphering time travel might be time consuming, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t also time for a little canoodling on the side. It was fascinating to see how deep-rooted Lainey’s beliefs about her reason for existing truly were, and how they threatened her relationship with Hunter as she continually tried to close herself off from him to focus once again on the mission.

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Traveling Through Space and Time

The most exciting aspect of any time travel story is discovering the idiosyncrasies of how the space-time continuum works in this particular world. Will interacting with people from the past drastically change the events of the future? Or is it actually the destined fate for all of these interactions to happen in order for the future to be the way it is? Can anyone actually change the past? For Lainey and her ragtag crew, they’re so devoted to their mission that they’ll travel back as many times as necessary to prevent the horrors of the past from happening so they can ensure a better future for the world. Even if they find themselves stuck on an endless loop where the enemy continually succeeds, they’ll keep going back in the hopes of finding the path that leads to victory. Our novel ends with these characters still in the midst of their mission, so while we don’t see a conclusion by the end of this first novel, one thing we know for sure is they’ll never give up in their quest for good to prevail against evil.

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

Series: Prevent the Past, book 1. I am so continuing on with this series. No question.

Final Impressions: Ms. Hefner presents us with a fascinating and chaotic world, not to mention a slew of lovable characters that intrigue us readers from page one. We’re so invested in finding out what will become of them, and how they might succeed when so many elements seem to stand in their way. It’s definitely an underdog story, and the fact it’s being led by a strong, smart female makes it all the more gripping. As is often the case with time travel tales, there were a few times where I found it difficult to wrap my head around the scientific repercussions being discussed, but as long as you keep an open mind when it comes to the logistics you’ll be fine! Aside from Lainey and Hunter, I also fell in love with so many of the other characters that I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in future books!

Smut Level: It might take a while before Lainey finally lets her guard down to allow Hunter into her life in the physical sense, but once she does? Hot daaaaaamn. These two don’t hold anything back, and they seem to have a propensity for dirty talk that’s simply delightful.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 232 Pages.

Always on My Mind by Andrea Downing

Unfortunate circumstances and misunderstandings separate Cooper and Cassie just when they’re on the cusp of admitting their love. Will they ever manage to find their way back to each other?

What’s it About? 

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1972 – Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies. Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.

Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop’s inability to express his feelings.

Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, “You were ‘always on my mind’?”

First Impressions

Typically, one of the most difficult parts of writing any review is the starting point. Where do you want to begin the analysis? How do you want to present the characters? Surprisingly, when it came to this read I encountered a much more difficult dilemma, and that was how to categorize this romance. Primarily, whether or not to tag it as a historical read. The setting of our book is 1972, and I realize a good portion of readers out there probably just gasped at the prospect that I would even contemplate filtering this as a historical read. What can I say? I was born in the last year of the 80’s, anything prior to that seems like history 😉 However, I must say that the question of historical or contemporary also made this one of my favorite aspects of the novel, in that it’s not your typical setting for a romance. If we’re ever presented with a tale of love obviously not set in the present day, we might see a far distant historical, regency, nineteenth century, or prohibition era if we really want to mix things up. But to set something in the early 70’s, and in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on top of it, makes this unique amalgamation of factors completely unexpected and exciting.

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To Be or Not to Be? 

The Vietnam War is raging. The era of the sexual revolution, feminism, and civil rights is well-established. In the midst of all this change, we find a conservative cowboy start to fall for a free-spirited hippie. It’s hard to think of two more unlikely characters in a romance.  While Cooper and Cassie differ in so many ways, from their lifestyles to their political views, it was fascinating to see these two polar opposites manage to push aside their differences to come together into each other’s arms. They’re able to provide a sense of solace and comfort as the rest of the world trespasses around the bubble they’ve built around them. And yet, we see that things aren’t always smooth sailing between them, and eventually their doubts and fears regarding their relationship risk tearing apart these two lovebirds forever.

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I’ll admit, upon first meeting, and for a rather large portion of the time they spent together, I questioned if Cassie and Cooper even liked each other. They obviously come from different backgrounds, and rarely agree on things. More than once Cassie admits to herself that Cooper’s behavior scares her, and yet his ability to turn sweet following an argument keeps her coming back for more. Borderline…mentally abusive in a way. It’s only when she completely misinterprets his commitment to their relationship does she run for the hills. The fact we’re in the period of the early 70’s, when the time of cell phones and emails are nonexistent, do we see it’s practically impossible for Cooper to go after her. We seriously question if they’ll manage to find their happily ever after, and desperately hope they’ll succeed in doing so. There were many times that I wished we could have seen a few more moments of affection and sweetness between Cooper and Cassie, so that I could be convinced these two were meant to be together. However, I could simultaneously appreciate the fact that if we had been presented with more of these moments, Cassie probably never would have doubted Cooper’s affections to flee in the first place.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: The outline of a heart-wrenching romance was definitely there, but I felt some areas could have been fleshed out more fully. Some of the first moments involving Cassie and Cooper’s interactions were somewhat uncomfortable, especially considering how often Cooper resulted to yelling and berating Cassie for the fact she didn’t fit seamlessly into his life. However, I’d have to say that one of the most compelling features of this romance was the fact that we were presented with a love story that was far from perfect. Our characters had flaws, and acted in ways that were often hard to differentiate right from wrong. But that’s what made it real and relatable. The fact our tale was set in the early 70’s, when war raged from afar, birth control was something to be debated/judged, and those who were more conservative clashed with those who were more liberal, we find ourselves confronted with a time that feels simultaneously foreign…yet achingly familiar.

Smut Level: Cassie and Cooper’s first time together in the bedroom actually seemed far from perfect, but practice certainly makes perfect. There’s not too much detail involved in their lovemaking, but we eventually find their awkwardness transform into tenderness.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 252 Pages

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Meant to be Family by Amelia Foster

Kelsey left Connor behind months ago with no explanation. When their paths cross once again, we have to wonder if they’ll be able to overcome their tumultuous past to discover that they were always meant to be family.

What’s it About? 

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My dreams constantly haunt me, whether I’m asleep or awake. Six months ago, my life veered off course when my fiancée disappeared with no explanation. The partying lifestyle I’d adopted to cope, ended in an accident that left my body as broken as my heart. To make matters worse, I’ve managed to run off countless physical therapists in charge of the in-home rehabilitation I need to get me back on my feet. My last chance at staying in my own house is gift-wrapped in wavy, auburn hair and startling gray eyes. The woman that shattered my heart. Kelsey is the only one left to help heal my body. And her unexpected arrival brings with it the opportunity to ask the countless questions I thought I’d carry forever. But her answers only create a new mountain to overcome, one I never imagined. Now, more than ever, I need to prove to Kelsey that despite everything, we are meant to be a family…

First Impressions

What can I say about this series?! The author is simply a master at weaving together the love story of our characters into an amazing tapestry which seamlessly incorporates past with present; pure joy with pain. There are moments that will make you laugh out loud, and then those emotional scenes that tug at your heartstrings with each new sentence. The way the story is pieced together by alternating the points of view of our characters, as well as shifting each chapter from past to present and then back again ensures that you’re immediately pulled into the timeline to a point where it becomes near impossible to put down. I actually finished this book in two full sittings! There’s nothing like promising yourself each chapter will be the last, and then finding out you’re 1.5 hours past your weeknight bedtime and eight chapters beyond when you told yourself you’d stop. I feel like an addiction disclaimer is needed before starting each book!

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The Broken Hero

When our story opens on Connor we discover he’s in a dark place. Broken both physically and mentally, we find him still pining over the love of his life who walked out on him six months ago with no explanation. Following Kelsey’s departure he tried desperately to win her back, but in his failure to do so he subsequently lost a part of who he was. After a tragic accident which left him a hero, albeit one temporarily without the use of his legs, he’s now in a constant state of surliness. Physical therapists run away from his house in short order, and before long there’s only one person left who can possibly help him. Kelsey.

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A Questionable Quandary

Kelsey is heartbroken to have to interact with Connor again, especially seeing as she was determined that the last time she saw him would in fact be the last time. However, when she sees the pain he’s in, and how much he needs her to get his life back on track, she’s willing to put the past aside to help him walk again. As we see scenes of these two struggling to be civil to each other, interspersed with scenes from their past showing how they first fell in love, we’re mean to question how things went wrong for these two people who were once so right for each other. What could possibly have caused Kelsey to turn her back on the man who was always destined to be her family? Well, as it turns out, I guessed the root cause of her desertion about 5 pages into the book.

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I don’t thiiiiink it was necessarily an obvious conclusion, but the only reason I immediately realized the source of her melancholia was because while reading this book I was simultaneously listening to an audiobook with the exact same theme! I don’t want to give things away, but essentially what we’re dealing with here is a situation where Kelsey was convinced that the only way for Connor to live the life they’d always dreamed of was for her to leave. She thought that if she’d initially been upfront with him about why she left, he would have stuck with her out of loyalty, but eventually would have come to resent their relationship. However, I couldn’t help but think that the pain of them being apart would have to be a million times worse than the pain of admitting the truth. Kelsey may have been in an emotionally bad place when she made that decision to leave Connor behind with no notice, but once we see the flashbacks of the evolution of their relationship, we can’t help but feel that he at least deserved some kind of explanation. She left him to question what it was that he did to make her run, when in reality it was nothing on his part. That lingering doubt, mixed with the pain of losing the love of his life, was something he didn’t deserve.

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

Series: Meant to Be, book 3. You can’t help but love each new couple!

Final Impressions: Every addition to this series is just as good as the one that came before. I’m constantly floored at how Ms. Foster is able to weave together so many different components of flashbacks and alternating points of view to create one cohesive, beautiful story that will enthrall you from start to finish. While this read did feel slightly predictable for me, I have to blame it on the coincidence of reading another book at the same time with the exact same issue impacting our heroine. I may not be able to condone Kelsey’s choice to leave Connor behind, but seeing the journey of them finding their way back to each other juxtaposed against how they first came together all those years ago? It’s a moving journey, and I’m all aboard!

Smut Level: Phew, this is one steamy read! Connor might be learning to walk again following his accident, but there are some things that come back to him quickly just like riding a bike.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Limitless Publishing, LLC. 219 Pages.

Landing the Lawman by Kadie Scott

Hold onto your Stetsons ladies and gentlemen! We finally get to see the Hill family daughter get a romance story of her very own.

What’s it About? 

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Carter Hill walked away from a perfectly fine life and relationship…all for a career she’s chased since she was fourteen. Years and a PhD later, she loves her job as a water rights consultant. At the same time, now that all her brothers are happily married, she’s lonely and wanting more. But the only man in her life is Logan – super serious, no sense of humor, and friend-zoned. Or is he? Perhaps a sexy, no-strings affair with a man more driven than she is could help her move on.

Logan Cartez doesn’t date, do relationships, or worry about commitment. He’s married to his job – making sure what destroyed his family ranch and their legacy doesn’t happen to others. When Carter propositions him, what began as a passionate and unforgettable night soon develops into more. Logan finds himself doing things he swore he never would, and the feisty, brilliant, blue-eyed rancher’s daughter has him thinking about so much more than work.

First Impressions

This series is an absolute delight! Up until this point we’ve only seen the romances of the Hill family boys, most of whom are sexy as sin alpha cowboys. Well, after four full-length novels featuring the Hill men, we’re finally privy to the one Hill daughter falling in love with a dashing lawyer. It feels like I’ve been waiting for Carter’s story since book one, and I’m thrilled to say it doesn’t disappoint. I might even go so far as to say that Carter and Logan’s romance is my favorite of the series! It’s definitely a tough call to make, but these two draw you in from opening bell and simply don’t let go. The fact we also get to see glimpses of Carter’s protective brothers, not to mention their entertaining wives, who we’ve come to know and love throughout the series is a glorious bonus.

Rebound, or Real Love? 

At the start of the novel we see that Carter and Logan have a professional, yet friendly relationship. She offers water expertise to many of his law cases, and the two have grown to become friends over time. However, even though they’ve always been a bit more than co-workers, they’ve never acted on what they assume to be a one-sided attraction to the other. That all changes though after Carter learns her ex-fiancé, Brian, is engaged, and she thinks going for a roll in someone else’s bed might take her mind off things. When Logan learns that Carter is considering a potential one-night stand with a complete stranger, he sees red, and steps in to act as a source of sexual release.

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What follows is a steamy and amusing romance, with both Logan and Carter constantly debating whether they should upgrade this fling between them to a full-blown relationship. A feature to the evolution of their attraction that I found particularly fascinating was that we never really entertained the idea that Logan was simply a rebound from Carter’s previous relationship with her fiancé. While we can’t deny that her ex becoming engaged was sort of the impetus for them ultimately coming together in the physical sense, we also realize that they’ve always been close, and more importantly that there’s always been something simmering just under the surface between them. They’ve both been daydreaming for more, and in a way her ex’s engagement is the slap in the face they both need to finally act on it.

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The Role of the Ex

Throughout the novel we see a primary focus not only on Logan and Carter’s burgeoning relationship, but also a side story involving a water right’s case the two are working on. It helps highlight the dedication they both have to their respective careers, as well as how their jobs help bring them together. However, another feature of the plot which I found especially intriguing was the role of both Logan and Carter’s exes to their current relationship. When the two first met, Carter was still engaged to her ex, meaning that the foundation for Carter and Logan’s relationship was built as a friendship surrounding their work, rather than one which was romantic in nature.

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As for Logan, his ex-fiancée, Angela, left him because he seemed to pay more attention to his work than he ever did to her. It’s only now that Angela has broken up with somebody else that she starts to sniff around Logan again. We’ve already discussed how the engagement of Carter’s ex was sort of the impetus to them taking their relationship to the next stage from friendship to horizontal mambo partners. We also see how Logan’s previous breakup with his ex makes him hesitant to move things even further along with Carter from having a casual sexual relationship to an actual boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. After all, his work will always be important to him, and he fears that eventually he’ll fail to give Carter the attention that his previous fiancée always demanded of him. And this brings me to what I loved most about Carter and Logan’s connection.

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While they compromise in certain aspects of their relationship, we see that they never really have to give up a part of their lives that means a lot to them, and that would be their careers. Whereas Angela felt pushed aside, we see that Carter and Logan can come together in their work. Whereas Angela pouted and sulked on the sidelines, Carter isn’t afraid to ask for Logan’s attention when it matters most, or force him to take a break and have some fun when he needs it. Simply put, they fit together. They are each other’s person in a way that their exes could never be. Brian was pushing Carter to give up her career in Austin, and Angela complained that Logan’s work resulted in them spending too much time apart. And yet, when it comes to Logan and Carter, they can still have fun and play together, not to mention have sexy fun times together, yet still devote themselves to the careers that really mean a lot to them.

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

Series: Hills of Texas, book 5. Quite possibly my favorite couple of the whole series.

Final Impressions: A delightfully romantic, funny, and also emotional read from start to finish. Carter’s parents sort of serve as the guiding light of wisdom in their relationship, and her father especially may have given the most enlightening advice of any romance character ever when Carter and Logan found themselves on the verge of breaking up after an argument. “Don’t assign blame…Rarely is it one person’s fault. Usually, it’s a little bit of both.” It might seem like simple advice, but my goodness when it comes to Romancelandia I feel like this needs to be cross-stitched into a pillow! I realize we’re all out of Hill children to feature, but I sincerely hope this series continues, maybe with a time jump into the future so we can focus on all of their children finding love!

Smut Level: This read is a perfect blend of clean with a bit of steam. While some scenes can get a bit descriptive and passionate, we also see several scenes end with a quick fade to black, or others where we come in after the good stuff has already taken place. I must say the only time this disappointed me was when we missed the details of Carter and Logan having phone sex! Would have loved to hear Mr. Proper Lawyer utilizing his dirty talking skills.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Tule Publishing.

The Reluctant Savior by Rebecca Hefner

Just when you thought this paranormal romance series couldn’t get any better, author Rebecca Hefner delivers in the best way possible!

What’s it About? 

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Evie, daughter of virtuous Princess Rina and malicious Deamon King Crimeous, is a woman torn in half. The first centuries of her life taught her fervent lessons about pain and suffering. For ages, she suppressed her mother’s noble blood, crafting a reality where she was drifting along, needing no one. Until an ancient prophecy calls to her, possibly creating a purpose for her squalid existence.

Kenden has commanded the Slayer army for a thousand years. Strong, cunning and loyal, he longs for the day when Crimeous has been defeated and he can settle down to build a family. Focused on conquering the Dark Lord, he is stunned when Evie makes a brazen demand that must be fulfilled before she chooses to fight with them.

Although incensed by Evie’s ultimatum, Kenden has never desired a woman more than the flame-haired vixen. Though she stirs his ire, he also has a deep well of compassion for the beauty who suffered so much trauma centuries ago. Together they train, and by night their connection grows, building toward the moment when they will battle her father. But, in the end, Evie has a choice and struggles to espouse righteousness over malevolence. For, when one’s worst fears are exposed, the evil is so much easier to embrace…

First Impressions

I have been waiting for Evie and Kenden’s story since the first book in this series. With each passing novel their chemistry and teasing nature has slowly developed, and my craving for what would inevitably be a complicated relationship between them has continued to grow as well. I’m so pleased to say that this fourth installment of the Etherya’s Earth series does not disappoint, both in terms of the romance between Evie and Kenden, and the final climactic battle between good and evil which we’ve seen building throughout the series.

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Vampires and Slayers alike believe that Evie is the fated being to fulfill the ancient prophecy of defeating her evil Deamon father, King Crimeous. She’s hesitant to join their forces, but eventually she identifies the one thing that will finally get her to agree. That would be Kenden. She wants him. He wants her. And yet, he constantly denies them the release they’re both craving, so Evie declares a fantastically delicious ultimatum. She’ll agree to bring down her father, but only if she can get Kenden in her bed. For his part, Kenden believes in monogamy, and giving himself fully to one woman at a time. He refuses to go for a quick tussle between the sheets with Evie, so when she offers her proposition he agrees on one condition. For every time they do the horizontal mambo, Kenden and Evie also have to go out on a date to get to know each other better. You gotta love these two! They both give as good as they get.

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Love and Turmoil

I mean, what’s not to love about the premise of these two finally coming together?! With every date, Kenden manages to dig deeper to understanding the complicated character that is Evie. She is the definition of a troubled heroine. One with a painful past and a darkness within her that is constantly trying to take over. As these two strong-willed characters spend more time together, Evie discovers that her attraction to Kenden isn’t merely grounded in the physical, but rather he represents a calming figure whom she can identify and enjoy spending time with. Both within and outside of the bedroom. However, amidst this pull she feels towards Kenden, we also witness a deep inner turmoil which is constantly threatening to force the two apart.

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As we mentioned, Evie is a troubled character, possibly even more so than her brother who was the focus of the third novel. Whereas he experienced some brief moments of affection from their mother during his childhood, by the time Evie came along her mother was completely broken from the constant abuse of Crimeous. She has never known love, but rather only heartache, pain, torture, and rape. Her blood runs with that of her evil father, which makes Evie think she’s not worthy of anyone’s love. But Kenden can recognize the soft side to her nature, and refuses to give up on her. The more he inserts himself in her life, the more she falls for him, but also the more she tries to convince herself that he’s merely trying to win her over so she’ll fight on their side in the upcoming battle against evil. The constant turmoil these characters face in terms of loving, yet also questioning each other, was a fascinating give and take you can’t possibly turn away from.

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

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 4. Imagine my utter shock and surprise to discover that this won’t be the last we’ll see of this series! The epilogue provides us with a set-up for a fifth book, and I am so excited to continue on with this series. Definitely some of the best novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading in 2019.

Final Impressions: A stellar read from start to finish. You’re constantly wondering if Evie will ultimately give into the dark side of her personality, and if she does whether or not Kenden will succeed in bringing her back to the light. I absolutely loved the fact that interspersed throughout Kenden and Evie’s tale we caught glimpses of the origin story to Crimeous’ evil past. Something else we saw littered throughout the novel were two side romances involving some of our favorite supporting characters. While I adored these tales, I did question at times how they were interwoven into the overall book, as they sort of distracted us from the main story. Especially considering we’ll have another book in store for us, I wonder if it would have been better to save at least one of these side romances for book 5. Overall though, an incredibly suspenseful tale with amazing characters!

Smut Level: Evie’s ability to remove clothing with her mind proves to be particularly useful in her interactions with Kenden.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 248 Pages.

We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

A small college town still reeling from unexpected tragedy. It might seem like the unlikeliest of places for romance to blossom, but you can’t always control where love will find you.

What’s it About?

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Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

First Impressions

This is an emotionally heavy read! It’s not just that we’re dealing with a community that is still trying to heal after a school shooting, or a teacher going through the motions of PTSD following his confrontation with the shooter. Nor is it just because of a forbidden love between two male teachers whose jobs are at risk should their amorous activities be discovered. And it’s not only the fact that one of those teachers isn’t openly out as gay, and is attempting to avoid a rather stalkerish ex following the fallout of his 10 year marriage to a woman. It’s the fact that we’re dealing will all of these dramatic story lines at the same time that truly packs an emotional punch.

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I’ll admit, every time I picked up my Kindle to have a go at this read I had to have a light-hearted Christmas movie on in the background so that I didn’t dissolve into a mess of tears with every page. I realize it might seem at the surface like that’s too much drama to be dealing with in one book, but I was surprised to find that it never felt as though any one story line was unnecessary. Everything fit together so perfectly, and while it was indeed a difficult read to approach at times, every element fit succinctly into how these two men found love together amidst every obstacle which was thrown in their path.

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Just Try and Fight It

The romance which developed between Isaac and John was beautiful. It’s the only word I can think of to describe it, yet it also fails to highlight just how special their relationship came to be throughout the story. Upon first meeting, neither of them had romance on the brain. They were both just trying to live from one day to the next following the shit storms which had enveloped their lives over the past year. Isaac even internally admits to himself that John is far from his type. However, their acquaintance quickly turns to friendship, and from friendship it eventually escalates into something more. The strict no-fraternization policy at their university was initially a deterrent to them pursuing anything intimate, but one day they both have to admit to themselves that they can’t fight their connection any more.

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After the trauma of the past year, it’s as though they both acknowledge that it’s better to risk their jobs than to deny themselves a moment of happiness. A moment to truly live. True, their physical chemistry is incredibly strong, and it’s by far one of the steamiest and more realistically passionate reads I’ve come across from this author to date. However, I appreciated that what brings and keeps these two men together isn’t just sex. Rather, they manage to bring out the best in each other, and help to hold each other up when the events surrounding them seem determined to pull them down. When the world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket, they both recognize that the other man is reason enough to still live.

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

Series: Stand-alone. I would give anything to see even a short novella of what these two men are up to a few years down the line.

Final Impressions: Consider yourself warned that you’ll want a happy Disney movie on hand for whenever you read this one. It succeeded in bringing me to tears a time or two, as you become emotionally invested in the lives of our characters. It’s a compelling and oftentimes difficult discussion of what it means to be a hero, how you can continue on when giving up seems so much easier, and how at the end of the day love can be so much stronger than pain. I will say I was surprised with the ending of this read, as it almost felt like we reached a conclusion mid-chapter. While it’s a happy ending, it’s not necessarily a perfect one that is tied up with a big red bow. At first I was almost disappointed, but then I realized that it was a truer reflection of the reality of life. We have good days and bad, and while the love between these two men helps them heal, it’s not as though it’s a magic wand that can make all the trauma of the past disappear entirely. They might not be able to completely forget the pain, but by holding on to each other it makes it easier to keep on living.

Smut Level: Kitchen island, boxer briefs, and a decent amount of honey. Enough said 😉

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. NineStar Press. 233 Pages.

The Enforcer by Abigail Owen

Sparks are certainly flying in this dragon shifter paranormal romance!

What’s it About? 

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Death comes for everyone. Even Drake Chandali. The aging process that twists all unmated dragon shifters’ bodies into something useless has taken hold of his body centuries early. A mate could have reversed the process, but now it’s too late. To protect his team of enforcers, he leaves, and comes face to face with the woman he’d thought was human when he saved her from a fire months before.

Except she’s not human. She’s a mate.

Camilla Carrillo almost lost her family to wildfire. To discover she’s fated to mate a creature made of flame and rage, and become one herself, should be terrifying. But somehow a rightness settles inside her, especially when she’s around the glowering red dragon shifter who wants nothing to do with her.

When Drake learns Cami bears his mark—the same mark as the High King—he refuses to believe she’s meant to be his. It’s too late. How could he turn Cami only to take her with him to the grave? At the same time, he can’t walk away. Hiding her from the corrupt, rotting High King might be the last honorable thing Drake ever does with the little time he has left.

First Impressions

Whenever I begin one of these dragon shifter romances, I always find myself surprised how determined these men often are to ignore the signs that their mate is right in front of them. Of all the books in this series so far though, I would have to say that Drake had the most compelling and understandable reason. All of the signs point to say that Camilla is his destined mate, staring him right in the face. Her proximity, her touch, make him feel alive in a way he’s never felt before. He feels drawn to her from the very first moment he lays eyes on her. And yet, he does everything within his power to try and push her away. The reason? He’s dying.

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All unmated dragons eventually age die if they ultimately go too long without mating. This degenerative process usually impacts dragons centuries down the road, but for Drake it’s hitting him earlier than anyone would have expected. He’s too proud to admit to his shifter teammates the sad fate that he knows will overtake him soon, as he quickly starts losing the ability to move, so he decides to abandon them to die out in peace without the need for them to witness his decline. When he runs to an old friend to live out his last days, he’s confronted with Camilla, and the very real possibility that she’s his mate. Rather than feeling a sense of relief at finding the one person meant for him, he instead refuses to hope that she could be his salvation.

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Better to Have Loved and Lost…

Drake is convinced he’s too far gone to be pulled back from the brink, and worries that if they should proceed with the mating process when they are in fact too late, his eventual death would result in Camilla’s death too following their solidified link as mates. He vows he’ll never risk her life in an attempt to save his own. However, just as much as I admired Drake’s selfless determination to protect, you’ve gotta love Camilla’s stubbornness above all else!

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She might be new to this world of dragons, mates, councils and enforcers, but when she acknowledges wholeheartedly that Drake is her destined mate, her reaction to his attempts to push her away are fabulous. Essentially, tough shit buddy! Yes, mating might eventually link them together in a way that would simultaneously cause her death with his own, but Camilla realizes that she would rather spend those few precious moments with Drake linked in the most firm emotional and physical connection possible, than to live out the rest of her life never having experienced it. She refuses to turn her back on him, and it was quite entertaining to see this slight woman stand up to an imposing and surly dragon shifter. You get it girl!

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

Series: Fire’s Edge, book 3. This series by Abigail Owen is an absolute delight, as is the corresponding Inferno Rising series which focuses on the clan kings rather than this enforcer team of shifters. There’s action, romance, political intrigue, deception, and of course some fantastical elements mixed in as well. What’s not to like?

Final Impressions: This was a great addition to the series. The moments where we witness vulnerability from this seemingly brusque, tough dragon were by far the most compelling. He gives off this air as though nothing can infiltrate the protective barriers he’s set up around himself, but Camilla has taken hold of his heart and refuses to let go. A missing element to this book which was featured prominently in the previous novels was the brotherly connection of these dragon enforcers. It makes sense in a way in that Drake didn’t want his team to witness his decay, and he’s leaving them behind so as not to have to struggle through an emotional goodbye. This results in the story being much more focused on his relationship with Camilla. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that, and while we get a few scenes which highlight the brotherly affection of the Huracan Enforcer team, I think I would have enjoyed another scene or two involving these dragons coming together as brothers.

Smut Level: Some dragon shifters have the unique ability to shift only certain parts of their bodies without fully shifting into their dragon form. For Drake, he has the unique ability to shift his human tongue into a forked dragon tongue. Camilla discovers that’s quite a handy trick to have in the bedroom.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 325 Pages.