How Snowball Stole Christmas by Kristen McKanagh

Grab yourself a cup of hot cocoa and snuggle up in front of the fireplace so you can be whisked away to this magical holiday wonderland.

What’s it About? 

It’s Christmas time at the Weber Haus mountainside inn, where the official greeter, watcher, and matchmaker of the hotel’s resident humans is an adorably mischievous bundle of feline fluff named Snowball. Snowball takes her job very seriously –even if it means being a little more naughty than nice –and she’s ready to celebrate her third holiday season by making the purrrrfect match.

Most cats have nine lives, but Snowball is one of the very few with two jobs. Officially, she’s the Weber Haus inn’s greeter. Unofficially, she’s the town matchmaker. Her track record is the cat’s pajamas—until she meets her owner’s grinchy brother, Peter Diemer. Peter hopes to move the family bookstore to a busy location downtown—but someone else has outbid him for the last storefront.

Christmas is the ideal season for Lara Wolfe to fulfill her dream of expanding her home business into a real shop. Too bad someone is posting negative comments on the town forum. What kind of Grinch objects to a toy store?

Snowball is sure these two are a perfect match. They already have so much in common—books are a kind of toy, right? Now all they need to add to the mix is love, and Snowball has just the shenanigans up her furry sleeve to deliver a sweet romance in time to make the season merry and bright . . .

First Impressions

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, as soon as you pick up a book in this beloved Snowball series, you will immediately be transported to all of the holiday comforts that Weber Haus has to offer. Not only will you become enamored with the characters this author artistically brings to life on the page, but you’ll also fall in love with the warmth that these reads evoke and envelop around you. Of all the books in this series so far, it’s fair to say this was my favorite couple of the bunch. Quite a few familiar faces (both human and of the furry variety) from the previous novels will make an appearance throughout, but Lara and Peter bring their own special personalities into the fray.

This novel opens with our two leading characters at odds with one another, but they don’t even realize it yet. Unaware enemies-to-lovers? Yes please! Peter has taken to crafting some rather negative comments on the town forum against the new owner of one of the most coveted shop locations in the area. Lara visited the town of Braunfels a few years before during a particularly melancholy Christmas, and she just knew it would be the idyllic place to open her toy store. Little did she know she would outbid a local man who was hoping to move his family’s bookshop to the prime location of little shops on the outskirts of Weber Haus. When Peter first meets this bubbly woman who “stole” the spot from him, he has every intention of staying as far away from her as possible. But a growing sense of guilt over his hurtful writing towards this caring and hardworking woman, not to mention a precocious matchmaking feline, will soon turn his entire world upside down.

The Lovable Grinch

It takes a few chapters for this book to find its feet, or paws for that matter, but once it does you’ll want to stay in this picturesque town bursting with lovable characters for as long as possible. Similar to the previous installments of this series, this book is fairly low drama from start to almost finish, but Peter and Lara have found each other after experiencing some rather life-changing moments which ultimately impact their unexpected newfound relationship. Upon first meeting, Peter is simply the surly Grinch living next door. It’s not that he’s your typical bah-humbug character who hates all things Christmas, but rather his sour mood is a result of a horrific accident months before which left him in a coma with massive brain trauma. He might be physically recovered on the outside, but his brain is still healing in a way where Peter’s personality isn’t quite what it used to be. He’s more prone to short-tempered outbursts and frustrations which have left even his closest family members wanting to keep their distance.

And yet, delightfully, none of this seems to phase Lara in the slightest. I kept expecting there to be a moment where Peter’s gruffness would prove too much for the outgoing toymaker, but she takes all of his minor moments of sourpuss attitude in stride. The fact Lara doesn’t know any of the details of his accident for the bulk of the book, and that she always tries her hardest to bring a smile and laugh to this Grinch of a man, demonstrates just how special a character she is in trying to find the good in everyone. Peter realizes that his accident changed him, but he also realizes that this at-times frustrating yet intriguing woman is bringing out more of the man he used to be. She heals him, she makes him better, and he can’t help but fall for her. Unfortunately, he knows it’s just a matter of time before the secret of his hurtful writing is revealed.

The Toymaker

Lara might be new to town, but she’s determined to make her toy shop a success. She’s overcome numerous obstacles to make this dream a reality, including a backstabbing boyfriend who maxed out her credit cards, an opinionated brother who seems convinced she’ll fail, and the death of her beloved grandmother who always had faith in her. As if moving to a new town and opening her store weren’t stressful enough, an anonymous local is also wishing for her downfall by spewing doubts on the town forum. When Lara’s brother insists that she look after his son over the holidays to deal with a family emergency, she’s almost convinced that the universe has it out for her. However, she refuses to let any of these hurdles stand in her way. She’ll do whatever it takes to make her shop a success, even if it takes up all her energy, and even if it means asking her Grinchy neighbor for a favor or two. Throughout the read the author does a phenomenal job of showing the constant tug-of-war happening between Lara and Peter. When Peter realizes his beautiful neighbor is the shop owner who outbid him, he tries his best to stay away, but soon decides to make it up to her by helping out with one favor during a busy moment in her toy shop. Let’s just say it involved a Santa costume.

Thinking that he was acting out of selfless kindness, Lara insists on repaying the favor, and what follows is an endless back-and-forth of both characters trying to help the other. These benevolent acts bring them closer together in a way neither expected, and those feelings of neighborly kindness naturally evolve into something deeper. Peter’s sense of protectiveness towards Lara also grows, especially when he sees how the hard work she puts into her business and loving care for her nephew is leaving her exhausted at the end of every day. He tries to help even more, and starts to voice his concerns that she’s doing too much, which of course results in her questioning his actions. Why won’t he let her fight her own battles? Is Peter just like her brother in thinking she’s bound to fail? Will he hurt her like her ex did? It was evident pretty much from the get-go that no matter how much holiday magic or meddling from a fuzzy fur ball might bring these two together, the reveal that Peter was the one behind the online vitriol would ultimately be the thing to push them apart. We were all hoping it wouldn’t happen, but it was surprisingly the most logical progression that upon discovering Peter was initially behind those hurtful comments about her business, Lara would need to take a step back to consider if she’s willing to give her heart over fully to this man. Luckily for us, not to mention Peter and Lara, one very determined and darling little fluffy wuffy kitty will do anything necessary to bring them back together again for a holiday happily ever after.

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

Series: Snowball, book 3. This is one of those series I will be happy to return to again and again. It’s also fun to see Snowball grow up from season to season, and I’m loving the implication that one day she might even find a little romance of her own.

Final Impressions: This read is a delightful bundle of heartwarming comfort. From the characters to the setting, you’re quickly enveloped in all of the warmth this small town has to offer. When the story was forming its initial foundation there were some descriptive scenes which felt a bit repetitive in nature, but it didn’t take long to become fully invested in finding out whether Peter and Lara would find their HEA. One aspect of Peter’s character which I wish had been explored more fully was the nature of his accident, and the hardships involved with adopting a new personality that he knows isn’t completely his own. Instead we see the moments of connection between Peter and Lara were grounded in discussion of how their jobs did or didn’t bring them happiness, which was definitely entertaining in its own right. I also appreciated how the author highlighted the growing pains involved with any new relationship. The constant balancing act between Peter wanting to protect Lara from exhaustion or pain, while also giving her the freedom and space to stand up for herself when fighting her own battles. It was interesting to see them find the path that worked for them.

Smut Level: A few passion-filled kisses here and there, but no hanky panky.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $9.99 Kindle Price. Kensington Publisher. 272 Pages. 

Wylde by Sawyer Bennett

Will the playboy of the Arizona Vengeance succeed in setting aside his wild ways in order to woo the one woman who managed to stop him dead in his tracks?

What’s it About? 

There’s a reason they call me Wylde and it’s not just because it’s my last name.

I might be one of the newest players on the Arizona Vengeance team, but I’m no stranger to the celebrity that goes along with being a professional hockey player. Whether it’s a fan seeking an autograph or a puck bunny looking for more, I’ve grown used to the attention. I not only thrive on it; I use it to my advantage. Let’s just say my bed is rarely empty.

When a quirky redhead at the local bookstore stops me dead in my tracks, I decide to pop in and turn on the trusty Wylde magic. As smart and strong-willed as she is beautiful, Clarke Webber isn’t swayed by my witty banter or charming good looks. And when she realizes who I am and the fame that comes along with it, she likes me even less. Thankfully, I’m always up for a challenge. The more I get to know about her, the more I know my playboy days are behind me.

If I’m going to capture Clarke’s heart, it’s time to be a lot less Wylde, and a lot more Aaron.

Quick Review

I have been a huge fan of this series so far, and unfortunately I would say this is the first book that has sort of missed the mark for me. That’s not say it was a bad read, but rather it was just kind of…meh. I listened to this as an audiobook on a recent business trip, and after listening to it during a fairly long drive one day I remember thinking, “Goodness gracious when will this book finally get going?” Imagine my surprise when I realized during a pit stop that I was already 50% of the way through the read! This seventh book follows one of the newest players of the Arizona Vengeance hockey team, Aaron Wylde. His last name isn’t seen as a misnomer, as apparently he is one of the biggest playboys of the team. Here’s the problem though. Considering his new status, we’ve never really had the chance to get to know him at any point in the series before now. While we often see numerous characters reappear throughout the series, Wylde has never been a major player up until this point, so we really have nothing to go on in terms of his supposedly infamous playboy status. This made his eventual aha moment at wanting to become a one woman man upon meeting Clarke all the more…well…uneventful. His willingness to commit to Clarke didn’t seem all that transformational of a moment, because while we’ve been introduced to his flirtatious prowess upon meeting her, we’ve never had a reason to doubt his ability to be solely devoted to one woman. 

As for Clarke, I was thrilled with her initial introduction as a book smart, fairly normal woman who was more shocked by the attention that Wylde lavished upon her rather than flattered. Who was this drop-dead gorgeous man who could lay on the one-liner quips like it was an art-form, quoted the classics like Pride and Prejudice just as well she could, and wouldn’t leave her alone? Once we were introduced to her backstory though, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at her previous disastrous appearance on a celebrity dating show that made her wary of fame forevermore. The series has done a wonderful job so far of grounding us to the romance developing between these hockey players and their lady loves, but this point of conflict between Aaron and Clarke seemed over-the-top silly and unnecessary. I even remember at one point towards the end of the novel when Clarke confessed to Aaron that she overreacted to a social media moment which made her turn her back on their relationship I exclaimed aloud in my rental car, “Yeah, you really did!” I won’t spoil the reveal, but let’s just say it wasn’t a very well-developed plot point, and instead felt like a desperate attempt to think of something that would throw a bump in the road for our lovebirds on a journey that had been nothing but pretty smooth-sailing since the beginning. I probably would have even preferred a completely drama-free ending compared to what we were presented with. 

Series: Arizona Vengeance, book 7. This may not have been my favorite addition to the series, but it hasn’t put me off completely from continuing on to see what might happen next!

Final Impressions: In a way, I almost feel like the author had an ulterior motive in telling this story, and it wasn’t to relay the romance between Wylde and Clarke. Instead, the primary goal was seemingly to present us with a wedding smorgasbord of previous characters. Wylde uses the weddings of his teammates as the basis for a bet to get Clarke to go out with him on more than one occasion. Rather than try to build Wylde and Clarke as the common thread linking together all these various wedding celebrations, I think I would have just preferred a stand-alone novella, where each chapter presented us with the behind-the-scenes fun and wedding romance for one of the couples from a previous installment of the series. I felt so much more of a connection to those couples than I did to our two new leading characters, and it made me reminisce on the stories of those characters who have come to feel like old friends. 

Smut Level: Clarke is initially intimated by how much more sexual experience Wylde has compared to her, but it doesn’t take long before she acknowledges the numerous benefits (and orgasms) which can result from his expertise. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $6.99 Kindle Price. Big Dog Books, LLC. 328 Pages. 

Until December by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Gareth Black is the package deal. He’s caring, has a smokin’ body, two sons, and an ex with a nasty temper. December has to decide if she’s going to run from it all, or jump in with her whole heart. 

What’s it About? 

Gareth Black is drawn to December Mayson the moment he spots her across the room at her cousin’s wedding. When he approaches the beautiful woman, she captivates him with her shyness and wit, making him crave her.

With a pull so strong it’s impossible to ignore, December knows there’s something between her and Gareth. She just hopes they’re capable of jumping the hurdles ahead of them.

Two boys, an ex, a surprise that will change everything, and a disgruntled co-worker, guarantee these two will have their work cut out for them if they are going to find their happily ever after.

Quick Review

Of all the books in this series so far, this might be the most angst-less of the bunch. If you’re looking for a break from all the drama and kidnappings the Mayson family has presented us with throughout the years, then this just might be the lighter read you’ve been waiting for. Gareth and December catch eyes at each other across the room at a wedding, and while we’re all familiar with the BOOM that draws any member of the Mayson clan to the love of their life, I would say we’re privy to more of a sizzle than the resounding shockwave we’re used to by now. And that’s how I would probably categorize this read as a whole, it’s more of a low simmer from start to finish rather than having any huge bouts of conflict that threaten to tear our lovebirds apart. There is one minor miscommunication that throws a bump to them getting out of the gate at the start when December believes her sister April saw Gareth first, and her “dibs” means he’s off limits. Once that matter is cleared up though, it doesn’t take long at all before this soft-spoken first-grade teacher is going home with her sexy tattoo artist/mechanic, and they don’t encounter any other major foibles along the way.

While every book in this series (and the corresponding Until series) have focused on a lead couple, the developing romance between December and Gareth plays second fiddle to the frontrunning storyline in this read, which highlights the evolving dynamics of a single parent and his children bringing a potential new partner into their bubble. This was the true heart of the story. December slowly starts to mesh into their world, and considering his boys have only known their birth-mother Beth to come and go at every turn, December represents a loving and supportive constant that they need. This is one area of the read where we see some natural complications arise, as Gareth’s mother must also acclimate to another woman coming onto the scene to share the love and attention of her grandsons, while the interactions with Beth are far more hostile in nature. Again, none of this threatens to scare December off, and we not only see her stand up to Beth to claim a place in the boys’ lives, but they too confront their mother about how important December is to them and their father. It’s a beautiful story of building a family, and I would say it rightfully overshadows the romance between our two lead characters. 

Series: Until Him/Her, book 8. Bring on the next one please!

Final Impressions: This book has a lot of emotional heart to it, but rather than being affiliated with the love story of December and Gareth, it instead is linked with the love story evolving as a family. We see what can only be described as a natural progression of this single parent family accepting an outsider into their midst, and while they start out on shaky legs of quiet acceptance, they all start to demonstrate through their actions and words how important they’ve all come to be in each other’s lives. Even the presence of Beth provided us with a window into the complexities of an absentee parent household, and the sad transition which comes upon the children realizing that while a part of them will always love their mother, she doesn’t represent the emotional foothold they need in their lives. The development of this family-building storyline was dang near perfect. The only element that I didn’t feel was necessary was the drama surrounding a disgruntled co-worker at December’s school. It certainly deals with an important issue in society, but it was a potentially triggering plot point that didn’t really evolve the story of December and Gareth’s family in any meaningful way that wasn’t already touched upon by other events. 

Smut Level: From working two jobs as a tattoo artist and mechanic, to dealing with rambunctious first-graders all day long, Gareth and December certainly have their work cut out for them. But rest assured, as soon as they get some alone time from his boys, they have all the energy in the world to rock it all night long. Multiple times. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 247 Pages. 

Wild Hunger by Suzanne Wright

They haven’t seen each other since they were children, but one look as adults is all it takes for Trick to realize that Frankie is his destined mate.

What’s it About? 

When half–wolf shifter Frankie Newman receives an e-mail from a family member she didn’t know existed, a secret is revealed: as a child, Frankie witnessed her father killing her mother…and then himself. Frankie was torn from her pack by her mother’s human relatives, and the trauma was erased from her memory. Realizing that she’s been lied to her entire life, she’s never felt more alone. Until she catches the scent of an old friend—warmly familiar and intoxicating.

Trick Hardy, enforcer of the Phoenix Pack, can sense the rush of mutual attraction when he sees Frankie again. He knows immediately that she’s his true mate. But he also knows that, given her fragile state, he needs to tread with care—no matter how fierce his surging desires.

As aroused as Frankie is by Trick’s darkly dominant air and simmering desire, her priority right now is her past—not her future, no matter how tempting. But as more secrets emerge and Frankie’s life is threatened, Trick must do everything he can to keep her close and safe. After all, it’s their destiny.

First Impressions

We’ve been introduced to a slew of different couples throughout this series so far, and while each has traversed their own unique path to discovering that they are destined mates, one shared component is that it usually takes a decent portion of the book before our lead characters uncover the mating link drawing them together. Whether it be because they’re too busy fighting off a common enemy, one of them insists true mates aren’t real, or perhaps one mistakenly thought they’d already found and lost their mate years before, there’s something which has caused our characters to put up a mental block against recognizing the person they’ve come to desire is meant to be theirs for the rest of time. A refreshing element which sets this seventh book apart from any of the installments which have come before is the fact that Trick identifies Frankie as his true mate almost immediately upon first setting his sights on her after many years apart. As for Frankie, her realization of their fantastical connection is just a few short weeks behind Trick’s.

Neither of them tries to deny the truth from themselves or each other. The only thing preventing them from taking that final step to cement the link is that Trick acknowledges Frankie is already dealing with enough in her personal life, from finding out her grandparents lied about how her parents perished when she was just a young girl, to the fact they also hid the fact she has loving wolf family members out there who would want nothing more than to bring her into the fold of their pack. Trick has been hoping for years that he would find his destined mate, yet when she’s finally standing right in front of him he realizes she needs time to heal and reconnect with family first. Finalizing their connection can wait, and he thinks it will be a good idea for them to spend time getting to know each other first before taking that big step. Considering all we know about how strong that mating pull can be, it’s probably one of the more beautiful expressions of caring we’ve seen so far in this series. 

Sexuality

Another interesting aspect of our couple’s relationship was the history of Trick’s sexuality. We’ve seen in previous novels that Trick has been sexually involved with men, at one point even with one of his fellow packmates. It’s something that Trick reveals to Frankie fairly early on after they start having a physical relationship, primarily so that she won’t be blindsided should any troublesome characters try to use it as a way to push a wedge between these two destined mates. Frankie isn’t bothered by his admission, but she does experience a brief moment of hesitation wondering if there will ever come a time when he might desire something physically that she won’t be able to give him. He squashes any of her concerns by insisting that she’s the one he’s been waiting for all this time, and there wasn’t a romantic component to any of his previous partners, whether they were men or women.

I do wish we could have gone a bit deeper into discussing Trick’s sexuality beyond just describing his previous interactions with men as “scratching an itch”. It seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity to finally highlight a non-heterosexual male lead in more detail within this series. In terms of his exes, you also can’t help but wonder if the mere presence of Trick causes others to lose their minds with obsessive infatuation. Whether it was a woman from his past who repeatedly insisted that he was her destined mate, to a former male sexual partner who asserts that Trick is actually gay and therefore it’s impossible Frankie could be his true mate as a female. Frankie never doubts that Trick will be true to her, and it was nice to see there wasn’t a single moment where she questioned if he might leave her for someone else, but if I were Frankie I might be concerned over how many other unstable exes might be making their way out of the woodwork!

Drama on Two Fronts

As with most books in this series, our couple is faced with dramatic elements emanating from two separate fronts. One impacts the pack as a whole, where a rival wolf and his ragtag pack insist on claiming Phoenix pack territory. They approach the Phoenixes under the guise of wanting to form an alliance, but they can all recognize a scheming enemy when they see one. The villainous Morelli lurks in the background through most of the novel, but will pop up every now and again before instigating a final climactic battle at the most inopportune of moments. The fight with this rival pack is just a smaller piece of the larger war that Morelli is trying to start between wolves and humans, as extremists on both sides are shockingly coming together in the hopes of bringing down all of their enemies so they can finally rule over whoever is left standing. As we progress through the series we’ve seen these extremists become more daring in their efforts, and we can’t help but wonder if the final installment will finally bring about this aforementioned war, or crush it down once and for all. 

The more emotional dramatic plot point of this novel involves Frankie’s parents who died when she was just three years old, and the story that all have come to believe of their deaths is that Frankie’s father brutally murdered her mother before dying by suicide. Frankie’s grandparents kept these gruesome details from her, and upon learning the truth from some of her other long lost family members, we see her embark on a tragically compelling journey of confronting the details of this unfortunate tragedy. While this emotional exploration was certainly fascinating, especially as we see how uber alpha Trick can soften his surly demeanor to comfort Frankie when it matters most, this story was rather disappointing in the plot twist it tries to surprise upon us towards the end of the book. Not only is it crystal clear to us as readers that something else must have happened the night these untimely deaths occurred, but it’s kind of shocking that it wasn’t obvious to the rest of the pack back when it first happened. They can all acknowledge that it was unbelievably out of character for Frankie’s father to cause harm to his wife, but it’s also essentially unheard of for a wolf to harm their true mate. So…why would they have readily accepted this inexplicable explanation? The fact they never questioned that someone else could have been involved is quite ridiculous. Also, these are wolf shifters we’re dealing with here! How did none of them smell the remnants of another person in the house that night?! Simply preposterous!!

Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 7. We only have just one more packmate to explore next in what will be the final book of this series. And Dominic just so happens to be the most flirtatious wolf of the pack. Can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Final Impressions: This was an exciting addition to the series. In glancing through some of the other reviews of this novel, it appears a common criticism amongst some readers is that the author continues to follow a clear formula for each installment where you always know what to expect. Honestly, fair assessment! Alpha male meets sassy female, physical desire and multiple horizontal mambo sessions ensue, drama threatens, they ultimately discover and cement the mating bond, final climactic battle, sexy fun times. And you know what, I love it! There might be a formula, but I’ve never felt as though we see the same couple, or even story, on repeat each time. We see so many unique personalities, and everyone has their own history which sets them apart from those who may have come before. If anything, I find that formula comforting rather than boring. I know what I’m getting into, that it’s going to be an entertaining and sexually-filled ride, and each character will bring something new to the table.

Smut Level: How these two didn’t pass out from exhaustion considering all the delicious deeds they got up to in a hot tub is mind-blowing. Also, as with almost every other book in this series so far, we do get some description of anal sex. Something to keep in mind for those of you who are or aren’t fans of that act!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 322 Pages.

Irresistible by R.L. Mathewson

After a one-night stand results in pregnancy, Melanie learns that carrying a Bradford child not only leaves her craving allllll the food, but also craving the man who is reluctant to be the father. 

What’s it About? 

Aidan Bradford never wanted a family, but after having a one-night stand with the woman that he hadn’t been able to resist, he’s going to find himself getting exactly what he needed in this romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author R.L. Mathewson.

There weren’t many things that Aidan regretted, but that night he’d spent with the woman that he couldn’t stop thinking about was definitely one of them. He’d always been careful, always did the right thing, and now…

Now, he had to figure out a way to fix this before it was too late.

Melanie still couldn’t figure out how one night could change the rest of her life. She should have done a lot of things differently that night. She should have turned him down, should have spent the rest of the night wallowing in self-pity like she’d planned, but that’s not what happened and now, she needed to figure out how she was going to survive this pregnancy with a Bradford doing everything in his power to make her fall in love with him.

First Impressions

Any good Neighbor From Hell book will contain a particular set of hallmark features which are emblematic of this classic laugh-out-loud series. From fraught neighbors turned lovers, to food consumption that borders on the obscene, and hilarious prank-filled family dynamics that leave you wanting more. This eleventh installment contained all of the above, albeit some were displayed a bit more prominently than others, whereas others you kind of had to dig a bit deeper to find the connection. It certainly felt like the entire Bradford family was present in this novel, including siblings, cousins, parents, spouses and children, that your head can’t help but spin at all the previous characters who make a reappearance, not to mention a few new ones who will clearly be the focus of a future novel.

While I appreciated the attempt at including a family tree at the start of the novel, the presentation of it in a simple list form rather than as an actual tree which showed how all the different branches inter-connected felt like a missed opportunity for clarity. Aidan, Melanie, and their little one were lovable and welcome characters to add to the tree, but with so many faces popping up throughout this novel it was hard to keep track of who was a relation versus a potential love interest. While I typically love seeing previous couples making a reappearance, it became a bit overwhelming in this eleventh book. I think we’ve reached a point in the series where some characters are clearly more memorable than others, and maybe highlighting just a select few rather than every single couple that came before would result in a bigger nostalgic impact. This was definitely a fun read where I enjoyed getting to know Aidan and Melanie, but I have a feeling going forward they probably won’t be standout memorable characters to add to the tree. 

Rejecting to Embracing Fatherhood

The concept of the novel was intriguing as we are thrust into the midst of an unplanned pregnancy, with Melanie finally finding the courage to admit to her one-night stand from months ago, Aidan, about the little bundle he left cooking in her oven. Why has it taken her this long to confront him? It’s explained away as a combination of long-lasting debilitating morning sickness with the fact that Aidan made it strikingly clear the morning after their drunken night together, upon realization that their condom broke, that the last thing he wanted was to become a father. I was hoping we would have the chance to more fully explore Aidan’s hesitancies and fears regarding fatherhood, but ultimately we are really only presented with a surface level explanation that he worries he’ll either 1) never live up to the wonderfulness his parents represented or 2) somehow become like his uncle who abandoned his cousin when he was a child…? You can’t help but feel that neither excuse was legitimately warranted, as backed up by the fact that upon hearing these comments Melanie openly admits he’s being pretty stupid. The honesty and witty sarcasm these two lovebirds hurled back and forth at each other was entertaining, but you never get the sense that there was any real development to who they were as characters. We knew from the beginning that Aidan was a good guy, who in no way hated or begrudged children in any way, so it was no surprise to see him jump fully on board with fatherhood almost immediately upon Melanie walking back into his life. 

Sugary Sweet Neighbors

The two other fundamental elements to any installment in this series involves: food and living arrangements. Let’s start with the first. Goodness gracious golly me, the food obsession involved with women who are pregnant with a Bradford spawn is no joke. Seriously, it was repeatedly featured in almost every single chapter of this book to the point where you are basically left worrying for the physical health of Melanie and her unborn child. The fact that the sight of any vegetable has her running to worship the porcelain throne was pretty funny at the beginning, but to see how the crux of her diet involves the consumption of sugar mixed with sugar, piled high with sugar and then rolled in sugar became…kind of nauseating after a while. Your stomach will practically churn from the constant description of Melanie’s obsession with junk food during her pregnancy, and I kind of feel like I need to eat an apple to counteract the sugar high I got from reading this one. 

And now for the feature that really let me down. Neighbors. It’s right there in the title of the series. You expect to see two neighbors, oftentimes with a tension-filled background, slowly turn from enemies-to-lovers. Two tropes for the price of one! Alas, to say these two spent any time as neighbors was definitely a stretch of the imagination, and I’d say they liked to teasingly push each other’s buttons rather than classify them as “enemies”. At the start of the novel we see Melanie worrying over the fact her best-friend roommate has now moved out, and she can no longer afford the two bedroom apartment on her own with a baby on the way. When Aidan finally discovers the truth of her condition, he insists she move into the apartment building he owns so he can keep an eye on her, especially seeing as her doctor has ordered strict bed rest throughout the next stage of her pregnancy. What could be more convenient than moving in across the hall from him? Well, it feels as though they live “next door” to each other for about a minute. It doesn’t take long before Aidan is sharing her bed, initially for the purpose of providing her snuggle comfort during her pregnancy, but things quickly evolve into cohabitation. I felt like I missed out on the fun and craziness of the somewhat toxic neighborly relationship this series is known for. 

Series: Neighbor From Hell, book 11. While the last two books in this series have been mild letdowns, it’s still a fun-filled series as a whole. I’m definitely excited to dive deep into the next installment, as it involves a Bradford who is a single father, and has sworn off love until his children are fully grown. Yeah…like that’ll work!

Final Impressions: This is a fun addition to the Neighbor From Hell series, though I did feel like we missed out on the “neighbor” aspect which I love so much from this author. The book leans heavily into the comedic side of things rather than the dramatic, even when dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. While I appreciated this light-hearted tone, it was kind of confusing how potential elements for drama would keep being introduced, but then never fully developed. From Melanie’s potential financial woes, to Aidan’s initial rejection of fatherhood, a deceitfully trouble-making sister to an ex who might not want to be an ex after all. Some of these dramatic plot points went nowhere, and others didn’t seem of much concern to our two leads. Instead the focus is on Aidan and Melanie sharing funny details about their pasts and getting to know each other so they could be on a solid foundation of friendship before their child arrived. Friendship quickly turned to love, and the rest is history. 

Smut Level: This was possibly the most compelling aspect of the entire book, as every steamy scene between Melanie and Aidan occurred when she was quite far along in her pregnancy. Following months of bed rest Melanie is finally given permission by her doctor to engage in more rigorous activity, and sex just so happens to be at the top of the recommendation list. To see how Aidan still desires Melanie more than anything with her rounded belly, swollen ankles and frightening food demands was both refreshing and adorable. These two get all kinds of steamy and creative in their positions. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Rerum Carta Industries, Inc. 275 Pages. 

Mai Tai’d Up by Alice Clayton

After breaking up with her fiancé on their wedding day, Chloe soon crosses paths with a blue-eyed, ginger-haired beauty who sets her heart aflutter. How does she know if he’ll prove to be the love of her life, or her rebound of the moment? 

What’s it About? 

The gossip mill in the seaside community of Monterey is churning about Chloe Patterson, the newcomer who is starting a sanctuary for rescued pit bulls. It’s rumored that she’s a former beauty queen (true) who ditched her fiancé the morning of their wedding (also true). And that while she’s not looking for a new man, the good-looking local veterinarian has his eye on her. Absolutely, positively true.

When Lucas Campbell isn’t at the family veterinary clinic, he’s paddle boarding in Monterey Bay. Recently single, he’s definitely not in the market for a new relationship, but he still can’t resist taking a second, third, and fourth look at the recent arrival of Miss Golden State.

Neither Lucas nor Chloe has any interest in being tied down. Being tied up, however—now there’s a thought. But are a few Mai Tais, a moonlit night, and the music of Frank Sinatra enough to allow them both to forget their past? Let’s hope Ol’ Blue Eyes knows what he’s doing.

Mix one part tiki, one part kinky, and a splash of old black magic matchmaking, and it’s time to be . . . Mai Tai’d Up.

Quick Review

Looking back on this series as a whole, it’s difficult to fully recreate the incandescent magic captured within the first novel, Wallbanger, but this fourth book perhaps gets closer than any other installment so far. The chemistry between Chloe and Lucas is strikingly electric from the first moment they catch eyes with each other across the mirror behind a bar, and the sizzling intensity simply continues to grow from there. They are both moving on from the aftermaths of broken relationships, both of which ended on their respective wedding days. While they can openly acknowledge the attraction which exists between them, neither wants to fall into a quick rebound fling with the other, but they also don’t want that to impact their ability to spend as much time with each other as possible before Lucas leaves town for 12 weeks as part of Vets Without Borders. The teasing banter and flirtatious quips exchanged between our two leads were some of the highlight features of the novel, and definitely hearkened back to some of that original magic we saw presented in book one. 

Sly smirks, brushes of the hand against one’s back, and even a hip check or two, it doesn’t take long before you’re practically salivating for these two to get together. Our anticipation builds with every turn of the page. And yet, the fact it takes almost the entire length of the novel for our solitary steamy scene to emerge was another mark of cleverness at how the plot ultimately evolved. The author could have easily had these two try and enter into a no-strings-attached fling from the very beginning. However, by allowing them both the time to process the end of their previous relationships, and spend time getting to know each other beyond their  physical chemistry, we’re more convinced than ever by the time Chloe and Lucas fall into those sexy fun times that they are finally doing so for the right reasons. 

All in all this fourth book was shaping up to be a stellar read, but unfortunately throughout the entire novel we were waiting for one obvious point of conflict to emerge, which was the fact that upon learning Lucas’s ex-fiancée left him standing at the altar on the day of their wedding, Chloe couldn’t bring herself to admit that she had left her own ex on their wedding day. I secretly kept hoping there would be another point of contention to arise between them, such as the concern about maintaining a long-distance relationship while Lucas was abroad for several months, or maybe even the fact that Chloe put herself in potential harm’s way by rescuing a battered pit bull at the center of an illegal fighting ring. But alas, it was in fact the super duper uber predictable secret that caused the drama to implode. The fact that this slight detail of omission held such strength for Lucas to threaten this beautiful relationship really put a damper on things, especially after Chloe clearly articulated her reasons and sincerely apologizes for keeping it from him. We do eventually get a happily ever after, but it was so disappointing to see the impressive arch of this novel interrupted with such a disappointingly predictable and unnecessarily over-exaggerated plot point.  

Series: The Cocktail Series, book 4. The first book is clearly the best, with this fourth book coming in second. Each book is light-hearted, and you’ll probably find yourself chuckling aloud a time or two with the silly antics our lead characters find themselves in. 

Final Impressions: Looking back at the synopsis of this book it’s kind of surprisingly deceptive. This small community doesn’t really seem absorbed at Chloe’s arrival into town. If the gossip mill were truly at work then the truth of how Chloe ditched her fiancé would have made it’s way to Lucas’s ears, thereby preventing the eventual blow-up argument between them about how she kept it a secret. There’s also an insinuation in the synopsis that there might be some possible kink to their relationship, especially considering the thought of “being tied up”. Alas, there is no tying up of lovers to be seen. The majority of the sensuality between Lucas and Chloe lies within their delicious flirtatious banter rather than physically coming together, which is reserved to just one scene towards the end of the book. You’ll find yourself smirking in delight every time they come together for a cocktail and some witty repartee. If the final point of drama between our two leads didn’t feel so contrived at the end of the novel, or perhaps could have stemmed from a less predictable area of contention, then this book would have been near perfect. 

Smut Level: You have to wait for it, but it’s worth the wait. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $8.99 Kindle Price. Gallery Books. 273 Pages. 

Brewer by Skye McNeil

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

What’s it About? 

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

The Betrayer

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

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

Beach Read Suspense

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until Cobi by Aurora Rose Reynolds

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

What’s it About? 

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

The Impact of Trauma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dominik by Sawyer Bennett

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

What’s it About? 

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

The Present and Missing Flaws

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until Harmony by Aurora Rose Reynolds

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

What’s it About? 

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

The Happily Ever After

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

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

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

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

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

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