Close to the Skin by Zara West

A hardened criminal? Or a loving protector? Bella debates whether she should turn to the intimidating Vernon for help considering his past, but she can’t deny how he looks at her with love in his eyes.

What’s it About?

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Never back down, never turn your back, and never fall in love. Head of a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise, Vernon Newell doesn’t let family ties or misplaced sympathy get in his way. But there is one chink in his armor—Sirena Patras, the beautiful young Greek girl he seduced and deserted eight years ago. When Vernon discovers that Bella Bell, a prospering tattoo artist in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is actually Sirena, he sets out to woo and to win her. Despite her attraction to the fabulously sexy man, Bella wants nothing to do with a hard-headed, ruthless criminal. But when threatening messages start arriving, and Vernon disappears, Bella must choose to abandon the man she loves, as he did her, or risk her life to save him.

First Impressions

This novel presents us with a fascinating debate of whether or not to love a “former” hardened criminal. I think a quote from this book which perfectly encapsulates our heroine’s struggle is “Could a man who touched her with such love, kill over and over again in cold blood, and still have a heart left in him?” It’s basically a question of whether a killer can transform into a passionate lover. However, as the novel progresses we also question if the two personas can coexist at the same time. Such an intriguing dichotomy that doesn’t necessarily have a nice answer.

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Falling for the Criminal

First of all, Vernon is charming as hell. He and Bella have a ton of chemistry, not to mention a passionate past, and he draws on it every chance he gets. He’s intent to marry her, constantly trying to convince her of his worth, and how amazing their lives will be together. On the one hand, you really do want them to be together, as they seem like kindred spirits. At the same time though, you completely understand her hesitancy to get involved with him. It almost reminded me of a mob movie, like Goodfellas, where you almost scream to the woman on the screen, “Why are you risking your life to get involved with this man?”

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The last thing Bella wants is to get mixed up in Vernon’s criminal world. You just never know when his former enemies might come looking for him, or possibly torture her to get to him. Vernon insists he’s given up that world. That he’s gone straight. The fact that he constantly has a bodyguard with him reflects that danger still lurks behind every corner. I will say, he’s so charming and convincing that even I believed him. Unfortunately, we quickly find out that he wasn’t necessarily telling the whole truth.

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Stretching the Truth

Sooooo, Vernon basically straight out lies to Bella regarding his criminal activities. While he’s not necessarily his father’s heinous henchman anymore, he still hasn’t removed himself entirely from that world. Definitely an interesting set up for a main character. When Bella initially pushes Vernon away we want her to overcome her hesitations, and realize he’s the only one for her. However, when we see how he lies to her we also question if she deserves someone better. Probably the most intense up and down of an emotional roller-coaster regarding my opinion towards a main character ever! I didn’t really know as the novel progressed what my final opinion of him would be, or if he could redeem himself in Bella’s eyes. Or mine for that matter! Fascinating progression to be sure.

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Burning Fire

Bella has a fiery personality, which also equates into a burning temper. She’s often quick to pounce on Vernon, and jump to conclusions with those closest to her. We also see how this “quick to assume the worst” attitude carries over into her business life. When she has the opportunity to design tattoos for a new TV show, she’s convinced she doesn’t have the time to draw them all and still maintain her tattoo parlor. But, she does. When she loses those designs she laments over the fact she could never possibly recreate all that hard work in such a short amount of time. All is seemingly lost. But, she does.

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It shows that when she sets her mind to something she can accomplish the most seemingly impossible of tasks. At the same time though, when it occurs repeatedly throughout the novel it also makes us wanna tell her to “calm down girl, have some tea and take a deeeeeep breath”. When Bella also insists that she could never possibly love Vernon because of his violent past, and determinedly swears they’re over it’s easy to question how steadfast she’ll really be.

Some Additional Minor Points

Vernon has a pretty strange relationship with his younger brother. He’s tried to keep him out of the criminal world, but to no avail. Their relationship is almost in limbo as Vernon struggles to acknowledge that his little brother isn’t necessarily sweet and innocent. I don’t want to give away too much of this story line, but I will say it didn’t seem 100% resolved to me by the end of the novel. It does however allow for Vernon to make a choice of what is more important to him: Bella, or his family and extravagant lifestyle.

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Lastly, I’m sorry to admit that I did have some trouble remembering all of the details surrounding Bella and Vernon’s relationship from the previous novel. I read a lot of books, okay?! 87 books to be precise since I read the first one. I think a brief summary at the start of the novel would have been extremely beneficial, especially concerning the dynamic with Vernon’s deceased brother who kidnapped Bella. While the story does eventually come full circle, answering a lot of the question marks from book one, it came together a bit too piece meal for my liking. At one point I even found myself rereading some of the end of the last book to try and remember some of the details.

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

Series: The Skin Quartet, book 2. I am absolutely in love with the supporting characters in this series, specifically our band of graffiti artists. If a future novel features one of them as the lead character I am sooooo reading it.

Should you read it? I did prefer this over book one, even though we do see some of the same themes carry over into this novel as well. Most significantly, our main characters aren’t always 100% likable. They have flaws, just like we all do. However, whereas this feature in book 1 made it difficult for me to relate to said characters, I felt it was developed so much more prominently in book 2. It demonstrates our feelings towards the characters are fluid. One minute you want Bella and Vernon to have a happily ever after. The next you wonder if Bella is right to keep her distance. So interesting that as Bella contemplates her feelings for Vernon, we too can sympathize with her debate.

Smut Level: Nothing like a little hanky panky on the kitchen floor!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 264 Pages.

Kaleb by Nicole Edwards

Rumors abound about the seven Walker brothers. They may be gentlemen, but they are far from saints. Good God and there’s seven of them?! Heaven help their mother.

What’s it About? 

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Zoey Stranford might’ve had a crush on the sexy boy next door since middle school, but she’s a woman now, and that crush has turned into a full blown case of lust. So why is it that at twenty nine, her libido decides to ramp into high gear and the only thing she can focus on is the intensely sexy, scorching hot boy next door who is definitely not a boy anymore? The only problem is that Zoey and Kaleb have been best friends for as long as she can remember. Not to mention, Kaleb and his brothers are working on buying Stranford land to build a new resort, and she’s more than a little hesitant about his intentions.

Kaleb Walker has had his eye on Zoey for close to twenty years, but never before has he considered taking their friendship to the next level, no matter how many fantasies he’s had about her over the years. That doesn’t explain why Kaleb is hell bent on having her – in as many ways as possible.

Kaleb finds himself in a precarious situation. His brothers have nominated him to pursue Zoey’s father about purchasing the land needed to get their new resort off the ground. Finding out that Carl Stranford is on the brink of foreclosure and Zoey might just lose her house and the land, Kaleb now has to convince her to put aside her pride and let him help her. It doesn’t take long before the flames start burning bright and hot, and the two of them burn up the nights and the days as they explore each other’s forbidden fantasies. But can their friendship survive a business transaction or the new friends with benefits clause? Or will they realize that they’ve been overlooking something much deeper that’s been right in front of them all along?

First Impressions

Kaleb and Zoey have been neighbors for years, and he’s been lusting after her since they were just a couple of horny teenagers. The synopsis tries to imply that it’s only because he’s trying to convince Zoey to sell her family’s land that they suddenly get closer in the physical sense. However, that’s not really true. If anything it seems like after being friends for so long they’ve had enough with putting things off, and kind of fall right into being romantically involved. There’s really no awkwardness at trying to navigate a physical relationship. They simply get down and dirty with it, including their flirtatiousness. And hell, why not add another guy into the mix as well?!

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Secrets and Sensuality

Zoey admits to Kaleb pretty early on in their newfound relationship that it’s been a fantasy of hers to be the filling of a Walker brother sandwich. Seeing as the Walker brothers are known about town for sharing their women at the same time, Zoey’s biggest conundrum is what other Walker brother she’d want to have a threesome with. Not gonna lie, I did find it rather strange that considering how long Zoey has been lusting after Kaleb she’d be willing to toy with the idea of allowing another one in there. Meh, what do I know about the emotional or physical logistics of a threesome. I’ve always said it seems like too many limbs jumbled together!

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As for Kaleb, he’s been waiting for so long to take Zoey to bed, and has even been dreaming about sharing Zoey with one of his brothers for a long time. Talk about being close with family to an uncomfortable degree! Kaleb mistakenly assumes that Zoey will have an innocent vanilla approach to sex, but when he discovers her secret desires he’s almost afraid of pushing her too far with his own desires. However, it doesn’t take long before he overcomes those insecurities, and brings their dreams of a threesome to a reality. Rather than sharing her with a blood relative though, Kaleb decides to bring his best friend to the party. Kaleb is excited to bring Zoey to the ultimate pleasure, yet experiences an unexpected mixture of possessiveness and lust when his best friend strokes Zoey’s thigh. Now that he finally has Zoey, will he be able to share her with someone else? Um, yeah. Multiple times.

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Threesomes and Land Purchases

I’ve read a few erotic novels featuring threesomes before, and this one definitely took a unique approach to the horizontal conga line. I feel like normally when it comes to threesomes we either see a couple experimenting with it once as a way to mix things up in the bedroom, or you have three people who all fall in love with each other and decide to become romantically involved forever and ever. In this novel however, there were a surprising number of threesome scenes involving Zoey, Kaleb, and his best friend Gage. Zoey clearly understands that Gage is only there for the pleasure aspect, and her true feelings of lovey doveyness are for Kaleb alone. She’s just intrigued with the idea of exploring her sexuality after the disastrous end to her marriage, and apparently that involves more than one foray into the world of threesomes.

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The other aspect of the novel which surprised me was that there’s really no attention focused on this club that Kaleb and his brothers are opening. The majority of the story involving the club deals with the land purchase from Zoey’s father. I guess I just assumed this club would be constructed and fully opened by the end of the novel, but that’s not the case. Looks like this might drag out to encompass the other novels in the series as well. I do feel the club’s concept deserved more attention and discussion, especially when Zoey discovers they are planning to open a sex club. Seems like it’d be a main topic of conversations, but nooooope. Moving along.

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Series: Alluring Indulgence, book 1. I won’t rush to read the next book in this series, but I won’t delete it from my TBR list just yet.

Should you read it? This novel was definitely more about sex than story. It’s mainly just about Zoey exploring her sexuality. Don’t get me wrong, that’s good and all, but it simply doesn’t make for a very engaging read. There isn’t much drama at all involving our multitude of characters, including all the Walker brothers, and when there was drama it seemed pretty unnecessary. Overall, a lack of really any kind of depth to the story.

Smut Level: With a threesome here, and a threesome there. Here a threesome, there a threesome, everywhere a threesome.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Pocket Star Publishing. 342 Pages.

Don’t Toy with Me by Barbara Barrett

Am I the only one who wishes it was socially acceptable to still be able to play with your childhood toys as an adult? Seriously, give me a few Barbies and a Polly Pocket or two and I’ll entertain myself for hours. Actually…probably more like days.

What’s it About?

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Repossession of your car in Los Angeles is like breathing without lungs. It can make an unemployed management consultant like Jordan Wright do crazy things, such as accept a job beneath her skills on a reality competition show and pretend to be a spy for a competing outfit.

Even though he sees through the undercover story, the show’s executive producer, Bart Underwood, is intrigued by it as well as the woman spinning her tale. Creativity is not one of his strong suits, and he has found himself in over his head with this new production. Unable to ask directly for Jordan’s help, he takes advantage of her need to prove herself in hopes she’ll rescue his baby. But despite their growing attraction to each other, even she can’t save a reverse beauty pageant titled Ugly as Sin.

When several stunts go awry, she suggests a new approach, challenges based on toys designed by Bart’s toymaker uncle. Though interested, Bart must first deal with his useless partner, who has been blackmailing him to stick around. The man’s resentment of Jordan threatens to not only disrupt her growing involvement with Bart but also risk the viability of the new show, Don’t Toy with Me.

First Impressions

When it came to this book my first impression surrounded the synopsis. Goodness gracious there’s a lot going on here! The novel has a rather complicated start, which I think is perfectly reflected in the synopsis. In my opinion, it did seem a bit overly elaborate at times. For example, we have a rather complicated meet cute of Jordan trying out for a show which she thinks is a beauty pageant, and instead of admitting outright that she didn’t know what the show was about she creates an elaborate scheme about spying for a competing production company. Bart knows she’s lying, yet decides to play along even after she admits the truth. Phew, I’m exhausted already! It felt like maybe it could have been that Jordan was in need of a job to pay for her car, so she takes a job she wouldn’t normally take as an assistant on a reality show. Bing, bang, boom, still fun and interesting, yet not as many moving pieces.

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We All Know!

The feature of this novel which confused me the most was Jordan’s creation of this rival production company. It seemed like such an unnecessary story when she could have admitted, “sorry, didn’t know what this show was about, my bad.” Sure, not as interesting, but perhaps a tad more realistic? What I had more trouble understanding though was why Bart would choose to continue playing along with this story even after she admits she lied. Then, as the story progresses, Jordan starts to assume that Bart knows she was lying, yet she also doesn’t confront him about her assumptions. I couldn’t help but compare it to a Friends episode where they don’t know we know they know we know, sooooo….

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Big Reveals and Motivations

Another unfortunate aspect of the synopsis was that it sort of revealed too much of the plot. We know from the outset that the premise behind this reality show is crazy. The concept of demonstrating how terrible society can be to ugly people, and that the ugliest contestant on this show wins is troubling to wrap your head around. Throughout the whole novel we wonder how Jordan or Bart could possibly turn this around into a winning idea. Problem is, we already know how. The synopsis demonstrates it’s just a matter of time before the show transitions into a reality contest centered around Bart’s uncle’s toy creations. If this little tidbit hadn’t been revealed in the synopsis I think we as the audience would have really been stumped on how this show could possibly make a turn for the better.

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Another reveal in the synopsis which confused me a bit was the reference to Bart being blackmailed to continue on with the show. This really doesn’t become a feature until the very end of the novel. Kind of a spoiler for me! The fact that his partner doesn’t try to blackmail him until pretty late in the game makes you question for the majority of the novel why Bart would bother putting up with such a terrible show, and terrible person, for so long. He knows the show is crap, yet he sticks with it, and has a seemingly strange sense of devotion to his partner. If this blackmail feature had been introduced earlier on, I think it would have helped us understand Bart’s motivation as to why he was refusing to throw in the towel with this crazy show.

The Puppet Master

Unfortunately, although I tried my best I ultimately found it rather hard to like Bart as a character. We all know that he’s testing Jordan. He recognizes her creativity almost immediately, and believes she could be the answer to making this terrible reality show a success. However, rather than admit, “we could really use your help in making this show better”, or “let’s collaborate to improve the premise” he instead kind of treats her bad. Bart sends her on a multitude of crazy errands as a way of testing her resolve, and basically berates her any time she has a suggestion which strays from the ugly beauty pageant concept. Talk about frustrating! Especially because he secretly agrees with all her suggestions. While this strategy definitely allowed Jordan to shine and prove her worth, it sort of made me see him as, well, a coward for not vocalizing his concerns to her or his partner. In a sneaky way, it makes his partner look on Jordan as the intruding villain, when in reality Bart is the puppet master orchestrating the downfall of his “friend’s” concept. Again, such an elaborate scheme.

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A Love Blooms

Bart and Jordan have a growing attraction to each other as they invest more of their time in this show. I think some more development in their chemistry would have been beneficial. As it stands it seemed like one minute they were kind of flirting with each other, a few longing looks, a brush of the hand, and the next they were going at it on his office couch. While I’m all for office loving (assuming the door is locked!), it seemed kind of rushed to me. I guess I just had a hard time believing their connection.

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That being said, there was another relationship blooming in this novel that I found to be particularly compelling, and that was between Jordan’s aunt Sheila, and Bart’s uncle Andrew. I’ll tell ya, I’d definitely read a book where their love was the main focus! They were so freakin’ adorable I immediately perked up any time they entered a scene. Both lost their significant others years before, and for Andrew the circumstances were extremely tragic. They’ve been hesitant to interact too much with others for years, yet when Sheila and Andrew meet they are able to come out of the shells they’ve trapped themselves in. They learn to live and love again with each other. Ahhhh, sigh.

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

Series: I could see the potential for a series. A brief novella for Sheila and Andrew would be my everything!!

Should you read it? I wish we could have had more scenes involving stunts with the toys. It was such a unique concept, yet we really only got one up-close toy scene in the competition. As for our lead characters I truly admired Jordan’s ability to stand up for her opinions in front of Bart. Not my favorite male lead when all was said and done though. I think if we had been privy earlier on to his motivations behind this show, specifically in relation to his feelings of guilt surrounding his mother, I probably would have liked him more as a character. Sheila and Andrew definitely stole the show for me, and I just wanted more of their adorableness!

Smut Level: Some office couch time, but nothing too over the top.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 244 Pages.

Tempting the Bodyguard by J. Lynn

The last novel in the Gamble Brothers series. Overall, probably my favorite book of the three, but unfortunately that’s not saying too much.

What’s it About? 

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Alana Gore is in danger. A take-no-prisoners publicist, her way with people has made her more than a few enemies over the years, but a creepy stalker is an entirely different matter. She needs a bodyguard, and the only man she can ask is not only ridiculously hot, but reputed to have taste for women that goes beyond adventurous. Chandler Gamble has one rule: don’t protect anyone you want to screw. But with Alana, he’s caught between his job and his increasingly hard libido. On one hand, Alana needs his help. On the other, Chandler wants nothing more than to take the hot volcano of a woman in hand. To make her writhe in pleasure, until she’s at his complete mercy. She needs protection. He needs satisfaction. And the moment the line is crossed, all hell will break loose.

First Impressions

Normally I’m a huge fan of anything in the Entangled Brazen collection, but there was something about this series that just didn’t do it for me. Each book in the series was just kind of “meh”. Sexy and generally entertaining, but the characters and story lines never truly wowed me. While I did find this to be the most enjoyable novel in the series, I think when all was said and done none of them are really a must read. However, you gotta give it to Alana, this woman is all about timing. When she first met Chandler in a previous novel it was to him opening the door wearing nothing but boxers. Since that time the two have thought of each other every now and again, mainly concerning what the other would look like naked. In this novel, Alana needs to employ Chandler’s security services, so she seeks him out in a sex club where he’s in the process of…well…let’s just say approaching a scantily clad woman from behind on a chaise. See what I mean? A woman of timing.

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Doormen and Security Cameras

Alana is getting settled in Washington, DC after moving across the country from the West Coast. Surprisingly, in spite of such a long distance move she continues to receive stalker-like letters from a mystery someone. As the letters increase in their creepiness, and the writer promises they’ll meet in person soon, Alana realizes she has no choice but to seek out the services of a personal bodyguard. Luckily, she has just the man in mind.

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Although Chandler often deals with higher level security issues, he simply can’t say no to the tough-as-nails publicist who helped his brother find his one true love. As he takes on the case, Chandler quickly notices the lack of security at Alana’s apartment in the form of a doorman, or even adequate security cameras. This raises his concern for the easy access a possible stalker would have in getting to her. This also raised my, “really?” hackles.

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As a DC resident myself, I’m sorry but I have to question the likelihood of this. Alana has a great job that pays a lot. She owns a Lexus for goodness sake in a city where cars really aren’t necessary, and she also has no financial concerns about hiring Chandler’s private bodyguard services. I highly doubt the woman would live in a building with no doorman, or at least a front desk person. For the love of God my apartment building has a front desk check-in, and I’m confident in saying I don’t earn more money than Alana. No Lexus for me!! Now, in the grand scheme of things, does this truly matter? Not really. However, when a stalker does proceed to break in to Alana’s apartment, trashing it to hell before escaping into the night, I couldn’t help but think “really?”

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A Dominant Man, A Stressed-Out Woman

After Alana’s apartment is ripped to shreds by her unknown stalker, there seems to be little choice for her but to temporarily move in with Chandler. Count down to sexy naked times in 3, 2, 1…commence. Somewhat known to Alana, Chandler’s sexual proclivities swing more to the d/s side of things. Minus a playroom of course. While Alana might not be up for everything he’s willing to offer her, she decides to take a chance on exploring her lustful feelings for Chandler.

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The two make an agreement that they won’t have intercourse right away, but everything else is fair game. Here is where I had some slight issue with Chandler’s approach to their sexual relationship. While I was happy he didn’t push her for full on intercourse right away, the first thing they do is some oral while he ties her hands behind her back. Don’t get me wrong, totally hot scene, but I couldn’t help but feel it was rather ill-timed. Alana has basically moved in with him after all of her possessions were destroyed at the hands of a stalker who is sending her creepy notes, and has already smashed her car with a brick. Maybe don’t tie her up? She’s had a rough enough week as it is! Restricting her movement during sexy times probably isn’t a great step in the right direction mentally or emotionally.

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The Cream of the Crop

Hands down Alana was the most captivating character and feature of this entire novel. Actually, strike that, of the entire series. In the previous novel she was presented as kind of a bitch. A heartless character who would do anything to get the job done, even if it meant basically blackmailing our female lead from book 2. In this final book however, we get to see another side to Alana’s character. Vulnerability.

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We learn about her troubled past with absentee parents, and how she was raised by a loving grandmother who always pushed her to be strong. Alana reaches a breaking point when her home is vandalized by the stalker. This was her safe space, and she literally has no friend or family to go to for help. Chandler is her one last resort. In that moment, when she’s standing on his doorstep with her few possessions, we see that the harsh persona she’s previously showed us is all a ruse.

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Series: Gamble Brothers, book 3.

Should you read it? If you’ve made it this far in the series I would say this is definitely a good one to end with. If you’re considering this series from the outset I personally think it’s one you can skip. There are a lot of other more exciting novels in the Entangled Brazen collection to choose from.

Smut Level: For a man who has a sex club membership I was pleasantly surprised he never frequented said establishment with Alana. They keep their sexplorations to his home.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Brazen. 262 Pages

Bad Boy, Big Heart by Andrea Downing

The trickiest thing when it comes to summer romances? There’s always a time limit. Sooner or later, the summer must come to an end.

What’s it About? 

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When New Yorker K.C. Daniels heads to Wyoming for a summer job, she wants nothing more than to fit in with the staff of the Lazy S Ranch. Yearning to be independent of her mom and dad, and have a taste of the west before she starts her Master’s degree, getting involved with a cowboy is the last thing on her mind—especially when she’s greeted with warnings about ‘Bad Boy’ Chay Ridgway.

High school dropout Chay Ridgway sees summer as his time to be a rodeo star and win a girl in his life, while facing the responsibilities he has for his father. Although working to bring in cash to help his dad, he’s never had a problem finding a woman who’s happy to be that summer love—until K.C. Daniels appears on the scene. As two different worlds collide in a season that will end all too soon, is this going to be another summer romance or a love that will last for years?

First Impressions

Upon first meeting Chay, we as the audience have the same assumptions about his character that K.C. does. He’s a player. A bad boy. A high school drop out. He might be a good fling for a summer romance, but for an actual relationship? Probably more work than it’s worth in just the span of the summer. However, as the summer progresses, we learn that underneath Chay’s carefree attitude is a loving man who has his hands full. He had to take on the responsibilities of an adult early on in life. Taking care of both his ailing father and his crumbling homestead proved too difficult to tackle in addition to high school, hence his decision to drop out. Since then he’s had a one track mind of building up his family home to it’s former glory. Having a relationship with a woman beyond just a summer is something he has no interest or time for. Until of course K.C. comes along. We see that his number one priorities start to shift as he gets to know this city girl.

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The Difficulties of a Summer Romance

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As with any summer romance novel, emotions develop rather quickly between Chay and K.C. They recognize early on that something about their attraction to each other is different than anything they’ve experienced before, and they want to take a chance on a relationship. The switch from summer fling to full on relationship is something I wish had been explored just a bit more. As a novella, it’s already a pretty short read, and it seemed like one minute K.C. was debating whether or not to give Chay a chance, and the next she’s willing to change her future plans to accommodate him into her life for the long haul.

Leaving the Nest

What I particularly liked about this novella is that it wasn’t just a summer romance. It was also a summer for growing up, and this applied to both our lead characters. K.C. has come to Wyoming to get a break from her overbearing parents. She feels she has to do what they say as they paid for her undergraduate education, and will soon be paying for her MA degree and living expenses for graduate school in New York City. Definitely a pretty penny right there! Her time with Chay though shows her that some things are worth fighting for, and she’s willing to break out on her own from her parents if it means a possible future with the cowboy.

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Chay too grows as a person during his summer with K.C. He’s finally willing to give his heart to a woman, and take a chance on love. As the novella progresses it seems damn near impossible that they’ll end up together considering everything standing in their way. Will she give up school to be with him? Will the rugged cowboy take on the skyscrapers of the Big Apple? Can they try a long distance relationship for two whole years? And then you have K.C.’s high class parents who decide to come out West for a little visit with their daughter. What else could possibly happen?

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

Series: Heart of the Boy, book 1. I can’t wait to see what happens next in this series.

Should you read it? I think I would have preferred if this were a full length novel instead of a novella. While I really did love the story and the delightful characters, I also couldn’t help but feel that certain elements were a bit too rushed. From the romance itself to some interesting dramatic moments, I guess I just wanted more! I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series though, which will be full-length and continue on in the romance between our city girl and her cowboy.

Smut Level: Nothing too scandalous.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 94 Pages.

 

Vengeance by Shana Figueroa

What makes this female private investigator different than any other? Well…her magical vagina for one.

What’s it About? 

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Corruption. Greed. Illicit sex. Murder. Private investigator Valentine Shepherd thinks she’s seen it all, and her strange ability to glimpse the future gives her an edge no one else in the world has. But when her fiancé is killed trying to exonerate his client, billionaire Max Carressa, Val makes it her personal mission to bring the people responsible to justice, no matter the cost. Convinced the two men are linked by more than attorney-client privilege, she enlists Max’s help in her investigation and gets more than she bargained for. On the run, Val and Max must uncover who wants them dead and why. The answer leads them to a conspiracy that has Val herself at its center. She doesn’t understand how or why, but time is running out to expose the truth and escape the danger she knows is coming . . .

First Impressions

Mkay, you just know that when a book starts off with a magical vagina it’s gonna be unique. And when we find out that Val isn’t the only with supernatural genitals? Well, stand back ladies and gentlemen. How exactly are Val’s lady bits special? She has visions of the future whilst getting it on. Definitely a party trick you don’t see very often. The one downside to this “gift” is that Val never really gets to experience the pleasure of an orgasm. She gets the build up, and the aftermath, but the boom moment causes her to pass out in a vision. Not sure how I’d feel about that to be honest. Especially considering her visions usually involve seeing someone’s death.

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On the Run

While Val’s visions can sometimes prove useful, she discovers they aren’t always accurate. Case in point, when she envisions her lawyer fiancé question a possible witness who could help with one of his cases, she never saw him get run down and killed by an unknown assailant. In an effort to uncover the truth about his death, she eventually crosses paths with Max Carressa, a mysterious billionaire accused of murdering his own father.

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Needless to say, it’s been a rather stressful week for Val Shepherd! Not only is she witness to her fiancé’s murder, but she’s trying to avoid being killed herself as she attempts to solve his murder. All of this is further complicated by the fact that, in a way, Max is someone she’s been searching for for a large portion of her life. Or someone like him anyway. He’s the first person she’s ever met who has the same abilities that she does. Val does put up a valiant effort to fight her growing attraction to Max, but when they discover they both share the same sexual gift, we know it’s just a matter of time before they get busy seeing visions together. With an ability grounded in sex, it seems meeting someone else with the same gift heightens their feelings of arousal. Poor girl didn’t stand a chance!

Magical Genitals Collide

As the novel progresses I was curious to find out if Max and Val’s eventual first time together would be out of necessity to find out key information in a vision, or from a development of real feelings for each other. Interestingly enough, it’s sort of a combination of both. Val senses a growing attraction to Max that can no longer be ignored, so she kind of uses her gift as an excuse to finally get physically close to him.

passion

Something I did find particularly interesting about their supernatural power is how it influenced their sexual dynamic. In most romance novels, we often see a male lead who wants to make himself last as long as possible, while giving his woman as many orgasms as possible. However, for Max and Val they both try to delay the inevitable in order to prolong their pleasure. The fact is, they each only have one shot before they literally pass out in a vision. In their efforts to make it last, they often talk about other topics to keep their mind off it. In addition, they can’t necessarily come together, or else risk passing out on top of each other and squishing some rather important bits and pieces. Like a true gentleman, Max lets Val come first before taking his own pleasure with a desperate attempt to try and pass out beside her.

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One benefit to their strong libido is that although they can only come once at a time, they can quickly regroup after their visions and go at it again. Seeing as Val often foresees death of some kind you’d think it would kind of spoil the mood, but nope! They are ready and raring to go pretty quickly.

Building Suspense and Leading Characters

While Val and Max explore their visions together we also have the underlying story line of her fiancé’s murder, and uncovering a conspiracy rooted in politics and greed. There’s quite a lot of suspense towards the end which lasts for a good chunk of the novel. Definitely nice that it wasn’t a wam, bam, thank you ma’am kind of deal. I was also initially worried that their ability to see the future might make the end of the book less exciting, but that wasn’t the case either as both Val and Max desperately try to alter the course of events which could lead to their deaths.

ABC's "Alias" - File Photos

I will say there are a LOT of moving pieces in this novel, including a plethora of different characters, motives, and a seemingly endless number of interconnecting story lines. At times it was tricky to keep everything straight, and you can tell some aspects weren’t fully explored so that they can be featured more prominently in a future novel. While I definitely understand the appeal of this for certain plot points, I felt it sort of detracted from us getting to know our main leading lady on a deeper level.

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Considering Val was a former sergeant in the army it means she’s literally a bad ass, and one woman I would never want to cross. Unfortunately, it was also a smidge difficult to like her at times, or connect with her on an emotional level. After mourning the loss of her fiancé it seemed like Val sort of shut off her emotions in order to move on and focus on finding his killer. In a way this also closes herself off to us as the audience. Honestly, I couldn’t help but see Max as a more compelling character due to the fact that we uncover a significant portion of his back story, and get a good glimpse of his hardships and inner turmoil. I wish we had been offered the same for Val, specifically in relation to the impact of her sister’s untimely death, and her developing relationship with Max. It’s definitely possible we’ll see more of this in future novels, but I think a brief window into her personality would have helped us connect with her.

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

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Series: Valentine Shepherd, book 1. There’s an unexpected twist at the end which sets things up for a sequel. Not a cliffhanger per se, but it will leave you wondering what happens next.

Should you read it? The ending of the novel was definitely my favorite, as we see all the various plot points come together for one climactic finish. It does take a while for the story to develop, and with there being so many different characters and interwoven plots it sort of feels like you’re being unwillingly pulled in a multitude of different directions. In addition to the magical genitals, there is also a larger supernatural connection which is briefly touched upon towards the end of the novel. Not really sure how I feel about it at this point.

Smut Level: This book has pretty much every combination you can imagine under the sun. We’ve got m/f, f/f, m/m and m/m/f. I guess the only version missing is f/f/m?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Forever Yours Publishing. 336 Pages.

 

To Win Her Smile by Mackenzie Crowne

A contemporary romance featuring a quarterback football star who eventually dons a kilt by the end of the novel. Ummm, yes please!

What’s it About? 

to win her smile

When sultry British Baroness Piper Darrow falls on desperate times, she needs a diversion—and cash. As a talented photographer, she jumps at the chance to travel to the U.S. for a Manhattan Marauders football event. But she gets more than she bargained for when buff quarterback Wyatt Hunter’s errant pass lands . . . in her face. And when it results in Wyatt’s comeback of a lifetime, the superstitious athlete is convinced Piper is his good luck charm . . .

With his sights on the Super Bowl, Wyatt will do anything necessary to keep Piper close. The fact that she’s a feast for the eyes is a bonus. And as they get closer, he discovers that beneath her proper English surface is a sweet, sexy seductress. Soon the notorious playboy finds himself genuinely smitten, and surprisingly open to love—until his powerful family uncovers something about Piper that threatens to shatter his trust. Now he’ll have to decide whether to team up with his fears, or his heart.

First Impressions

I’ll admit, when this novel first started I was initially quite concerned. Our opening scene features a football game, and the stakes are high as Wyatt plays our lead quarterback competing to hopefully set the gears in motion to advance his team to their fourth Super Bowl win. So why did this concern me? I don’t do sports! Least of all football. Believe me, growing up in a Midwestern state that was all about sports rivalries I’ve more than had my fill. At the start there was quite a lot of detail involving passes, end zones, and lines of scrimmage that had me cringing in a kind of PTSD sports haze. But alas! I ended up loving this one! Our lead football star proceeds to throw his ball 60mph directly into the face of a stunning British photographer on the sidelines, and things simply go up from there!! Filled with humor, drama, sexy kitchen and elevator fun times, as well as family issues for both parties. What’s not to like?

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A British Baroness and Good Luck Charm

Piper might be a baroness, but she’s in desperate need of money to get an annoying cousin off her back who’s seeking a half million dollar inheritance. Piper risks losing her family home if she can’t pony up the pounds, but along comes a flying football to her nose to change things up. Wyatt sees her as his good luck charm, seeing as his team won a close game after the minor nose accident, and he’s willing to pay her a pretty penny to have her attend the rest of his games for the season.

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He also commissions her to photograph a calendar featuring him and his hunky teammates to raise money for Down syndrome research. However, Wyatt also makes it clear that he’s burning with lust to take the gorgeous redhead to bed, and he’ll do anything to convince her to take a chance on their blatant sexual chemistry. I must say I was rather surprised there was no initial hesitancy on Piper’s part with a possible comparison to…well…prostitution. After all, he is paying her with the intention of eventually getting her into bed, and his claims for her photography services sort of blur the lines on what exactly it is he’s paying for. To get a chance to photograph that beautiful man though? Mmm mmm mmmmm.

Secret Former Flings

For Wyatt, he’s definitely got a type in his attraction to redheads, and Piper fits the bill to perfection. As they get to know each other however, we see that his connection to her goes far beyond the physical. Wyatt is comfortable around Piper to a degree that he’s never had with another woman, and he’s willing to share things with her about his life that he’s never opened up to anyone else about. His family secrets, his home, and even his love.

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For Piper, she’s concerned entering into a relationship with Wyatt seeing as her last foray with a professional athlete ended so terribly, with the British gossip rags dragging her name and reputation through the dirt. I will say I was mildly disappointed that Piper didn’t choose to share any of this background with Wyatt until pretty late in the game. True, they initially agreed to keep things casual with no strings attached. However, as they get closer, and Piper sees the true Wyatt through her camera lens, I wanted her to willingly share more of herself with him beyond just her body. Only when he asks her to does she open up to him.

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

Series: Players, book 5. I shockingly really enjoyed this one, even with it being steeped in the world of sports. I also kind of want to go back and read the other novels in the series too!

Should you read it? A fun story, albeit with a somewhat cheesy ending. When you’ve got a hottie in a kilt declaring his love though I’m 100% in. I also found Wyatt to be a highly admirable character. His father is running for president, and he knows it’s only a matter of time before his staff uncovers the history of Piper’s appearances in the press. Even though their relationship is new, and it could be so much easier to break ties, Wyatt instead chooses to stand by her. Sigh.

Smut Level: Give me a passionate scene in an elevator any day.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Lyrical Shine. 232 Pages.

to win her loveto win her trustto win her heartto win her backto win her smile