A Drop of Paradise by Alex L. Michaels

Ahoy ladies and gents! In this steamy romance we have white sand beaches, crystal clear blue water, a city girl outside her comfort zone, a ruggedly handsome boat captain willing to show her a good time, and a few bullets flying past their heads. I mean, pretty much everything you need for a beach read!

What’s it About? 

She needs peace and quiet. He’s a distraction.

She wants to be left alone. He’s inevitable.

She has a writer’s block. He might be the cure.

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The only thing Jessica Slade wanted was some peace and quiet, and to finally finish her book. So, a place called A Drop of Paradise was supposed to do the trick. With its stunning sandy beaches, crystal clear, aquamarine waters and tropical sunsets, it was supposed to cure more than a writer’s block. But, when an unfortunate series of events leaves her stranded on a remote island with an overbearing, arrogant, roguish, but ruggedly handsome stranger, her life starts to seem much more like the romance novels that she writes about. Broad-shouldered Mike Stone is irresistible, sexy and cooler than a mojito in your hand, and maybe even a perfect, muscled ideal for the cover of her next novel, but not all the imagination in the world could prepare her for what can happen between two strangers on a spit of sand, when sparks start to fly and anger turns to lust.

First Impressions

Within the first few chapters of this novel I couldn’t help but compare it to a combination of Romancing the Stone and Six Days, Seven Nights. Our heroine is a successful romance novelist who’s seeking some peace and quiet on a beach far removed from the stresses of her life, both professionally and personally. She quickly encounters a ruggedly dashing boat captain named Mike who is determined to show her a good time, both socially and sexually.

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The two proceed to get lost and stranded on a few different islands in the Caribbean. Nothing too overly dire, but definitely some adventures that put a wrench in Jessica’s plans to relax. Throughout this time our leads run into a variety of oftentimes kooky characters with their own personalities, not to mention some elements of danger as storms approach and bullets fly. Quite the engaging read!

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Let’s Talk About Sex…ual Tension

For the love of all that is holy these two have a sexual attraction that is hotter than the Caribbean sun. Practically from the moment they meet Mike turns on his flirtatious charms, and while Jessica tries her best to keep him away from her enticing lips, well, let’s just say she fails miserably. It’s not long before these two engage in some powerful make out sessions. I seriously lost count of the number of times Mike either stomped up to Jessica to grab her face in his hands and crush their lips together, or she would try to turn away from him only to have him grasp her arm and spin her around into his chest for a heady lip-lock.

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However, something that initially adds to the overall comedic aspect of the novel is the fact that these two are always interrupted from taking things further. Oh don’t get me wrong, they definitely have their moments of grinding on each other, nipple brushes, and legs being lifted up higher for the optimal rubbing angle. Unfortunately, whether it be flying bullets, an old island man seeking help with his rusty boat, or friends walking in on them, the two never seem to have the chance to get each other completely naked. After a while I actually questioned if it would ever happen, and if it did I assumed we’d be privy to one quick scene and that’d be it. Boy was I wrong! Towards the very end of the novel we sort of switch gears from adventurous comedic romance to full on erotica. Somewhat disjointed, but I for one won’t complain.

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Let’s Take a Look at Them Bullets!

As I’ve mentioned a few times now, there are moments when Jessica and Mike will be locked in an intimate embrace, or perhaps even arguing with each other, when a bullet will fly overhead. There are a few other minor suspicious things that take place, but all in all I’d have to say this dramatic side to the story never really came full circle for me. I think it was introduced well enough, as we wonder why anyone would possibly have something against this well-known romance novelist.

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But then this element disappears from the story for a pretty large portion of the novel, and is then quickly resolved with very little explanation at the last moment. I feel like we never truly get to understand the motive behind this hidden gunman before it’s simply brushed aside. If it had been more fully incorporated into the overall story I think this really would have had a huge, positive impact to the arch of the plot.

A Hesitant Heroine

Outside factors are often the primary inhibitors to our lead characters reaching sexual fulfillment. That being said, there were also a few moments when Jessica herself would put a stop to things. To say that this would cause Mike an exorbitant amount of frustration is quite the understatement. She had the tendency to go from burning up fever hot to frigid cold in .05 seconds with no explanation whatsoever. She’d usually just run away from him if she could. At the end of the novel Jessica sort of explains that she was just scared to feel anything too much for him after being alone for so long. I gotta say though I wasn’t really buying her explanation. It lacked any real momentum behind it to the point where, similar to our hidden gunman, I feel like we never really learned her motivation/reasoning behind constantly pushing Mike away.

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

Series: I don’t think so, but there are a few secondary characters that I would just love to see featured in their own novel.

Should you read it? This is a quick, fun read. Certain details could have been expanded on a bit more, specifically why Jessica was so hesitant to pursue an intimate relationship with Mike, as well as the motivations of our villain. There were also a few grammar mistakes, but I’ve heard they’ve since been updated! Overall, a fun read to take to the beach. Just be sure you have a few Mai Tai’s on hand to cool off!

Smut Level: At first I questioned if we would ever get around to the good stuff. Then before you know it, BAM! We’ve got sensual scenes on beaches, dining room tables, and in showers with plenty of dirty talking description. Definitely worth the wait.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 285 Pages.

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Way Too Deep by Andrea K. Stein, Sawyer Stone

The flirtations between our lead couple are sometimes too hot to handle! I had a ridiculous laughing smirk on my face throughout most of this read.

What’s it About? 

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Captain Lindsay Fisher has committed the unthinkable in the tight little world of super yachting. She takes chances, she’s a little too abrasive, and oh yeah, she’s taken swearing like a sailor to a whole new level. Celebrity Chef Alton Maura earned the acclaimed “Kitchen God” title and basked in the international limelight for years until his affairs with his kitchen staff landed him in a poisonous stew. When Lindsay and Alton are thrown together on an uneasy cruise through the Grenadines, sparks fly. She doesn’t like his shoes, or his attitude. He can’t believe a woman who looks that good in a captain’s uniform can be such a hard ass. This is their last chance to prove themselves, but the worst thing you can do when trying to save your career is to fall in love…WAY TOO DEEP.

First Impressions

Good God this novel blasts off with a suspenseful start! We have a storm at sea, a sinking yacht, and a couple of sailors flung overboard. This is why we mere humans don’t belong out on the open ocean people! Phew, ok mini rant over. Lindsay and Alton are both at the ultimate low points in their careers. She has now lost two ships at sea, and he gave an entire room full of uppity socialites food poisoning. They see this next cruise as their one last chance to prove themselves. Problem is, they pretty much hate each other at the start. Lindsay is a strict captain who expects everyone to follow her every word, and Alton is the artistic chef who’s not used to living on a boat and working in a galley kitchen. He’s used to giving orders, not taking them. While initially at odds, they quickly come to realize they’ll need to rely on each other to make this trip a success. As well as an outlet to let off some…sexual tension.

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From One to the Next

If I had to summarize this book in one word it would be: fun! I was expecting the relationship between captain and chef to be the main focus of this book, but something I didn’t see coming was the plethora of supporting characters who really made this story such a comedic and fun read. With the introduction of every new character we get another crazy personality, and I just loved it. In particular I adored Lindsay’s uncle, Tommy, who starts off so rough and gruff, but also has such a sweet side to him. He provides the words of wisdom to both Lindsay and Alton regarding how they should approach a relationship with each other. He has read pretty much every issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in the Caribbean after all.

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In addition to our captain, chef and first mate, we have a smarmy Russian, a music mogul and his vegan-organic-gluten free girlfriend who is enthralled with herbal medical remedies. There’s the spoiled wife of the yacht owner who always has a wine glass in her hand, not to mention Alton in her sights. Lastly, the trip simply wouldn’t be complete without also having the mistress of the yacht owner on board, as well as his business partner who is a James Bond uber spy wannabe. And that’s just everyone staying on the yacht! It doesn’t include some of the other delightful people we meet on various islands and other vessels. While this motley crew of characters is slightly over-the-top, it never got to the point of being just plain ridiculous. It was just the right blend for me of silliness, sexiness, and even some suspense thrown in as well. There’s eventually an inkling of intrigue and espionage, seeing as our yacht owner is the one noticeable key player missing on this crazy cruise. The ending does sort of cross over into outlandish territory, yet considering this blend of characters and build-up of suspense it also does feel like an inevitable climactic end.

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Crullers and Eclairs

As I alluded to earlier, Lindsay and Alton don’t have the best first impression of each other. He thinks she’s a hard-ass bitch, and she sees him as a goody-two shoes chef who’s clearly in love with himself. That being said, they are both clearly attracted to the other, but they’re adamant that they shouldn’t make a move. For one, there’s too much at stake with this entire trip. In order for their careers to rebound, there can’t be any distractions. In addition, it’s funny how long it takes before they realize the other isn’t gay. To quote one of Alton’s thoughts, “…he had the feeling she might be more interested in thick-lipped crullers than cream-filled éclairs.” Not gonna lie, I chuckled like an idiot with every culinary sexual innuendo that Alton could think of, and believe me there were many to enjoy. As their trip through the Caribbean progresses, their sexual chemistry becomes more and more difficult to ignore. With so many small and cramped places on this yacht to get down and dirty, it’s not long before they can’t say no anymore.

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

Series: Love Overboard, book 1. I definitely want to continue with this series!

Should you read it? This pretty much checks off every point of a good beach read. It’s fun, kind of silly, but full of unique characters. The flirtatiousness of Lindsay and Alton had me giggling, yet their scenes in the bedroom had me fanning myself from all the heat. The intrigue surrounding the yacht owner was a bit much, and I wish he had been featured more throughout the novel. Also, be sure to have some appetizers on hand while you read this one, as the descriptions of Alton’s culinary creations will keep you hungry!

Smut Level: Romantic comedies aren’t always the sexiest of reads, but this one definitely stands out! We don’t just have a handful of passionate kisses which fade to black. Oh no, we get every delectable sexy detail!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Muirgen Publishing, LLC. 219 Pages.

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Tattered Love by Lola Stark

“Then I went and followed him out to the car like some kind of…Some kind of girl! I was starting to dislike myself. Something needed to change. Soon.” Well…that’s kind of disheartening.

What’s it About?

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When ex-Special Ops bad-ass Mace walks into Needle’s Kiss tattoo parlour, he never expected to find the girl who would turn his life upside down. Hard as nails Scarlett has been unlucky in love: she’s been burnt, chewed up and spat out. Reluctant to have another relationship, can she keep her wits about her when hot-as-sin Mace walks into her tattoo parlor? Or will he break her down and leave his mark within her ink? What starts out as a little fun, turns into something so much more. Can Scarlett look beyond Mace’s devastating past or will his demons come back to haunt them both?

First Impressions

Scarlett is our main female lead in this novel, and she is supposed to be this tough-as-nails, badass tattoo artist. She doesn’t take any sh*t from anybody. I’m also 100% convinced she has no idea what she wants in life. Case in point: her relationship with Mace. Ok, sidenote real quick, Mace? Mace?! I can honestly say I’ve never met a “Mace” in my entire life. Ok, sidenote over. So Scarlett is initially drawn to Mace because he is the ultimate manly-man alpha male. He doesn’t ask her on a first date, but instead basically orders her on one. And she openly admits she likes his take-charge alpha attitude. To each her own, no judgement.

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But then when they actually do go out he has the nerve, nay the audacity!, to go get her a drink without asking her what she wants. Never mind the fact it actually is the type of beer she would have ordered because, you know, he’s been watching her (creep factor of 10), but she was damn near ready to get up and leave at that move alone. Scarlett my dear, I hate to tell you this, but when it comes to alphas you can’t simply date “some” of an alpha. They are alpha in all things, whether it’s telling you he’ll pick you up on Friday, whispering dirty talk in your ear, or getting you a drink. You want an alpha? You’re gonna get one.

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Getting all Good Will Hunting Up in Here

When it comes to this novel, “It’s not your fault” is the clear, prevalent theme. I’ll admit, I did like Mace’s character significantly more than Scarlett’s. He has heart, passion, and unfortunately the tendency to blame himself for every possible bump in the road he’s every encountered in life. From getting his former girlfriend knocked up, to the dissolution of their relationship, and the most significant of which is the fact he blames himself for the tragic death of his daughter (none of which were actually his wrongdoing). One of the saddest story accounts I’ve ever listened to! I was practically crying on my walk to work. I seriously need to rethink my tendency to listen to audio books in public.

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Communication is Key

That being said, Mace isn’t exactly Mr. Goody Two Shoes perfect either. As a matter of fact, there were times where I found both characters to be a tad…childish? This novel features one of the most ridiculous jump to conclusions I’ve ever heard. Towards the mid-way point of the novel, Mace has already told Scarlett about his crappy and exploitative ex-girlfriend, as well as how his daughter died years before. Then he mentions how he’s going out of town for a few days.

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Lo and behold Scarlett comes across him having dinner with said sadistic ex-girlfriend, and she immediately jumps the gun thinking he’s cheating on her. In her mind, there is no other explanation, and she won’t even bother to hear what Mace has to say. When he finally does get the chance to explain the situation away, Mace gets pissed at Scarlett when she asks why he couldn’t have been honest with her. He proceeds to turn things around on Scarlett saying she hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about her own past, so why should he have to share everything with her. Uggggh, seriously? Not ok you guys. When did this turn into an episode of Jerry Springer?!?

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Love is Girly

To harken back to the quote at the top of this post, one of the things I didn’t particularly like about Scarlett was that she didn’t really seem to like herself when she was with Mace. Sure, she enjoyed the sexy fun times they had together, and cheese and monkeys were there a lot of them. However, she’s always been tough, and when she’s with Mace she finds herself sort of bending to his will with his alpha tendencies. In spite of this, Scarlett loves him.

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At one point she even says it’s sickening how much she loves him. The reason it’s so sickening? Because it makes her act like such a girl. Sooo…being in love with someone is girly? Wanting to spend time with someone is girly? Now, I get the sentiment that is trying to be conveyed here: she’s a badass and she’s suddenly experiencing moments of intimacy with someone else. I just didn’t really enjoy how it almost paints the concept of being in love as a negative thing. Almost like, love?, pff, who needs it? That’s just for squares. Aaaaaand, cue eye roll.

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Bette Midler in the Making

As I mentioned earlier, I listened to this as an audio book. I always enjoy when romance novels present us with the dual points of view of both the male and female leads. I will say the male narrator did a fabulous job, especially when relating his sad tale of how his daughter passed. As for the female narrator, she could come off a bit too obnoxious at times. Seeing as how Scarlett is already a rather hot headed character, this additional feature of a somewhat obnoxious voice bordered a fine line of annoyance. This line was even crossed at times, especially whenever Scarlett lamented over acting too “girly”, and the word was said with what can only be described as pure disgust. Also, no joke, this narrator sounded surprisingly similar to Bette Midler. Although I love her to pieces (Hocus Pocus anyone?), it was almost too mature of a voice for a character who is supposed to be a 26 year old tattoo artist.

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Series: Needle’s Kiss, book 1. There’s an interesting side story with Scarlett’s best friend who is the feature of book 2. I might consider it.

Should you read it? Personally, I prefer romance novels where our two leads truly bring out the best in each other as they fall in love. I…can’t really say that happens in this novel. Eventually they are able to open up and communicate, but they are also wont to point fingers and place blame when they’re in a snippy mood. At times I really did enjoy how Scarlett refused to take any sh*t from anyone, but there were also quite a number of times where she wasn’t my favorite character to follow. Considering she’s the female lead? Somewhat problematic.

Smut Level: Scarlett and Mace do it in practically every classic sex locale: alleyway, hood of a car, shower, kitchen table…tattoo chair? Meh, why not?!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 293 Pages.