Playing to Win by Ashlie Knapp

Our male lead’s name is Kyle Kelly. He has four sisters. All of them and their parents have names starting with the letter “K”. Nicknamed the “K-clan”. Ummmm…probably not the best nickname ever? Too many “K’s” and “clan” kind of bring something else to mind. Just sayin’. Anywho, onward to the actual story!

What’s it About? 

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Spunky, quick-witted twenty-one year old Callie Thompson is a University of Oklahoma journalism student by day and Oklahoma City Thunder dancer by night. Callie hopes her connections with the franchise might get her foot in the door for a sports broadcasting job when she graduates. She just has one rule: never date the players. Kyle Kelly is the deadly handsome and charmingly Southern Thunder man of the hour. All the twenty-six year old is looking for is an NBA championship to call his own. An unexpected meeting with an opinionated, feisty Callie, however, who is very unimpressed with his celebrity status, sets his sights toward winning two things: her heart AND the championship.

First Impressions

If I had to describe this book in a word it would be cute. Or maybe adorable. You know, sweet really works too. Oh hell you get my point! This book will definitely make you smirk and have you curling your toes in delight. In a way, it was almost Hallmark-esque with how cute it was, but definitely not as annoying as a Hallmark movie can be. Believe me, I should know. My dad plays them on repeat throughout the whole month of December. And July. This book has a level of cheesiness to it that is enjoyable without being over-the-top. I mean, at one point Kyle jokes about how his and Callie’s lips want to get to know each other, that their lips are best friends, etc. Admit it! That’s just adorable.

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A Horsey Meet Cute

This novel has a meet cute as classic as can be: our two lovebirds literally bump into each other. But rather than stare up at the famous Kyle Kelly with stars in her eyes, Callie has pretty much the same reaction that I would. She yells at him! After all, she knows his type as a professional athlete. Arrogant. Full of himself. So to prove her wrong Kyle challenges Callie to a game of horse. Ummm…ok? Don’t really see the connection here, or how it’ll prove he’s humble. He’s a pro basketball player for crying out loud! Pretty sure his confidence level in winning a game of horse was pretty high. Could we even say…arrogantly high?

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While I didn’t necessarily understand the reasoning behind their game of horse, the resulting challenge just made me smile. If Kyle wins they have to “hang out” five times. Callie refuses to call them “dates”, but she’s only kidding herself. We all know it’s just a matter of time before their friendship develops into something a bit more steamy. I also gotta hand it to Kyle, this guy is charming as hell. I’d definitely play him in a game of horse. Sure, I’d lose immediately because my hand-eye coordination is absolute shit, but still. Sign me up!!

The Voices of Reason

In addition to hearing input from her best friends (who will undoubtedly be the focus of future novels), Callie also has an inner voice rattling around in her mind who always tries to giver her words of wisdom. Needless to say, it pisses Callie off something fierce because that voice is constantly pushing her towards Kyle! She’s determined not to date him because her recent ex-boyfriend was also an athlete, and things did not end well. Will Callie be able to overcome her hesitancy in exploring something more romantic with Kyle? If her inner voice has anything to say about it, hell yeah!

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I found Callie’s battle with the voice in her head to be hilarious. Another delightfully fun component was Kyle’s rapport with his teammates, who were just as big of gossips as Callie and her friends. It was kind of sweet actually, as these supposed tough guys are asking Kyle all about his new love interest in the locker room after a game. His teammates definitely like to razz him for spending so much time thinking about and hanging out with Callie, but he never lets it faze him. He’s honest about his feelings for her, and isn’t ashamed to admit it to his buddies Definitely an acceptable form of locker room talk!

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Here it Comes

Callie and Kyle’s close friendship eventually develops into the most adorable of relationships, but after a while you just know that sooner or later the other shoe is going to drop. Their relationship has been going too smoothly, with very little drama for far too long. They even hit it off with each other’s family members! Surely we can’t go the whole novel without a little drama thrown in there? And sure enough, it comes about right at the end of the third quarter.

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Not gonna lie, this was probably the most disappointing feature of the novel for me. While I was definitely happy this dramatic plot point didn’t drag on for too long, you could really see it coming from a mile away. It was just too obvious of a climactic twist. And the fact that it was almost a complete and total shot for shot replica of the scenario which ended Callie’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend was a bit far-fetched for me. I guess all in all I would have liked to have seen a bit more creativity when it came to the drama. Perhaps a secondary issue surrounding his basketball commitment or her schooling could have spiced things up a smidge.

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

Series: Playing series, book 1. I’ll be continuing with this series, for sure. I just can’t wait to see the pairings between Kyle’s teammates and Callie’s friends.

Should you read it? Simply put, this is a fun and cute read. Definitely a good beach read when you just wanna relax and take your mind off things. It’s also a quick read! Kyle is adorable, and the man loves his cat, so what’s not to like here?! His flirtations with Callie were definitely cheesy, but some moments were also remarkably heartfelt. Both features added to his overall charm.

Smut Level: A pretty clean read. We have some kisses, but only one sex scene that comes pretty late in the game (no pun intended) and is glossed over as far as sensual details. No problem reading this one in public.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 225 Pages.

 

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Deviant & Fracture by Callie Hart

Ohhhhhhhhhhh boy.

What’s it About? 

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Deviant. Sloane: I’m not proud of the things I’ve done. The things I’ve had to do. The things I’ve given away. But I’d give it all over again to find her. Even if I die trying, I have to find Alexis. Zeth: She wants me to help her, but I won’t. She wants me to save her sister, but I can’t. She wants me to be her hero, but I’m not a good man. I am her damnation.

Fracture. Zeth Mayfair is pretty much the very last thing I need in my life. Yet with every breath I take, he becomes more ingrained in every aspect of it. He has a key to my house. He knows where I work. He dumped his strange, mentally traumatized housemate on my doorstep and has driven off into the sunset in search of my missing sister. I want to forget him. Want to change the locks and blot out his face, scour his very name from my memory. The problem is that I also need him. I need him more than I need air to breathe, and I can’t be without him now. He owns me. He torments me. He’s fractured me.

First Impressions

I’m actually combining both books 1 and 2 from this series into one review, as the audio book I listened to combined the first two installments as well. These books may have been short, but my goodness they certainly pack a punch. I’m not gonna lie folks, this wasn’t really my taste at all. I always say I can usually handle a lot when it comes to erotic novel sexual detail, but this was even too much for me to handle. That’s definitely saying something.

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At Least She Liked It? I Guess? 

The first novel in this series opens with our female lead, Sloane, giving away her virginity to a stranger, Zeth, in the hopes of finding out information concerning her missing sister. The scene starts with our stranger turning off all the lights so she doesn’t ever see what he looks like. There’s touching, licking, rubbing, handcuffs. Mkay, so far not too bad. But then he proceeds to wrap his belt around her neck and rub a knife over her chest. Ummmmmm, at least she enjoyed it?

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The two leads have a pretty bizarre relationship once they reunite years later after their initial sexual dalliance. She’s inexplicably drawn to him, in spite of his criminal profession and the fact that he basically admitted to murdering someone. He doesn’t seem to have a soft side at all when it comes to her, and often uses intimidation to claim her sexually. He even gets her to participate in an orgy and…penetrates her with the handle of a knife. Ugggggh, again she seems to like it, but that one just seems…unnecessary.

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From One to Two

The first novel is basically just laying the groundwork of Sloane and Zeth’s unusual relationship, as well as developing the tale of her sister’s disappearance. Not much happens story-wise, and the novel almost seems to end mid-scene. I honestly don’t really understand why there was the need to end it so abruptly, rather than just combining these two short novels into one full length book. At the end of the first book I was honestly afraid to see what would come next, but it was so short I figured I might as well give it a try.

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The second novel focuses a lot more attention on Zeth’s story, and his pseudo father-son like relationship with a criminal overlord. And here is one of my main problems with this tale: Zeth really isn’t a good guy. He definitely blackmails Sloane sexually with the promise of saving her sister if she’ll do his bidding. At one point Sloane basically admits to herself that Zeth might be a murderer, a criminal, and a thug, but at least he’s honest. Dude! Not exactly a great reason to ignore all that other shit going on!! In the second book Zeth also realizes that his boss is involved in selling women, he had Zeth’s phone bugged, and sold him out years before for a murder Zeth didn’t actually commit. Aww, what’s wrong there buddy? Is it tough to discover the murderous crime boss you work for might not be 100% honest? Boo…hoo.

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Series: Blood & Roses, books 1 and 2. I doubt I’ll continue with this one. Although I am intrigued to find out what happened to Sloane’s sister.

Should you read it? These novels just weren’t my cup of tea. Zeth is kind of an emotionally manipulative ass, and you kind of want Sloane to escape his clutches. It really seems like the only reason she’s with him is because he says he’ll save her sister. The sex scenes are too over the top for my tastes, and I think there’s more focus on that than the dramatic aspect, which might actually be kind of interesting if we could just pay attention to it for a while!

Smut Level: Ummmmmmmmm…I’m uncomfortable. I’m also not sure I’ll ever be able to look at a blue ice pop the same way again. We all know what those things do to your tongue, and in this novel let’s just say his tongue and her lady bits turn blue. Thanks for tarnishing one of my favorite childhood snacky snacks!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. Books 1&2 $12.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 304 Pages.

Sweet Sacrifice by L.D. Rose

YES!!!! God is female b*tches!!!!!!! Ahem, pardon me. Some slight excitement there. Moving on.

What’s it About? 

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Former Navy SEAL Sebastian “Bash” Lockard died in Afghanistan after leaping on a grenade to save his comrades. Little did he know his act of heroism would grant him a ticket into Heaven’s elite army as one of the few and powerful Archangels. Struggling with his new existence, Bash still retains his human memories, leaving behind a wife he loves with all of his heart. Although he’s forbidden to see her, he can’t resist her lure, or the mortal desires he harbors for her.

As a young widow and nurse, Irene Lockard still mourns her husband two years after his untimely death. His absence is everywhere, and when her best friend weds, she hits an emotional rock bottom. As if summoned from the skies above, Sebastian appears before her, and they share an unforgettable night. But when he once again vanishes, she wonders if she’s truly gone made with grief. The only way Sebastian can remain with Irene is if he makes the ultimate sacrifice. But will she overcome her fear of losing him again to another war?

First Impressions

This is an enchanting read that draws you in with the emotional drama of the characters. These two go beyond “till death do us part”, and have a love that is stronger than and expands beyond death. Consider yourself warned, this read will tug at your heart strings, and can be a bit too hard to bear at times. We open to see Irene stuck in a dark depression years after her husband sacrificed himself to save his SEAL brothers. The fact I just happened to be reading this book over Veteran’s Day made the whole situation even more poignant and emotional for me. Totally unplanned, by the way. Irene is wandering through life in a fog, on the brink of giving up entirely when something incredible happens. Perhaps her husband isn’t actually gone forever after all.

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An Archangel Warrior

Due to his cunning bravery as a mortal, Sebastian has been recruited in death to be an Archangel, spending the rest of eternity fighting demons and pure evil. Something that I enjoyed about this novel thematically was that while it contained religious components, and spent quite a lot of time discussing angels and the afterlife, it never really felt overly religious to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with novels which do tend to sway more towards the religious side of faith of course, but I think the way this novel was structured means that it can be enjoyed by a wider audience. You also don’t really need a heavy religious background to understand the story.

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However, the one aspect that I wish had been developed just a bit more was the evil side of things. I know…that sounds weird, but hear me out. While our novel opens with Sebastian and his fellow Archangels pursuing a demon, we never get a whole lot of description surrounding this demon, his motives, or end game. I guess I would have liked if there had been more of an obvious villain with a backstory. That being said, I can also appreciate the fact that the main point of the story is meant to highlight the relationship between Sebastian and Irene rather than it being a monster fighting book per se. Not to mention the fact that Sebastian’s Archangel teammates have been combating evil since the beginning of time means that this demon was probably just one more drop in the bucket for them. Still though, I think maybe just a bit more focus on the dark side of the afterlife would have been interesting.

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A Painting of the Afterlife

Something this novel does phenomenally well was the description of Sebastian’s new world, as well as his journey getting there through death and Purgatory. In addition, the scenes involving Irene’s encounters with the Soul Mate Tree are painted so clearly, and even creepily at times to the point where I felt like I could succinctly picture everything in my mind’s eye. In my opinion, this skill is always what distinguishes whether or not I like a particular fantasy novel. This is a different world we are dealing with here that is so different from our own, and yet it almost felt like I was there. Well done!

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Everlasting Love

Again, the main focus of this book is on Sebastian and Irene reuniting after two years of him being dead. It’s emotional, yet I feel like there was one missed opportunity to truly tug on the heartstrings. You see, we get quite a few scenes of Sebastian internally reminiscing about the moment leading up to his death, his last thought and vision of his beloved wife, his struggles through Purgatory, and his eventual salvation at the hands of the Archangel Michael. On the flip side, we also see Irene think back on her pain and depression over the last two years, and the darkness which has seemingly enveloped her soul.

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However, after these two finally reunite (and get the bulk of their delicious sexual musings out of the way!) we get one scene in which they bare their souls to each other about everything that’s transpired over the last few years, and unfortunately it is sort of glossed over. We basically get a sentence of how “Sebastian told her everything and she cried”. Aaaaand then we move along. Darn! If we as the audience could have held off on learning some of those dark details until they could share them with each other for the first time? And they shared some of those particulars about how lost they felt? How the last vision he saw before dying was her face? Phew I definitely would have been reaching for the tissues!

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

Series: The Soul Mate Tree, book 9. Although this was the 9th book in the series it could have easily been the first. I didn’t feel as though I was missing out on anything, yet I’m now also curious about what the other novels have focused on.

Should you read it? An emotionally gripping read. Maybe not the best beach read, but I think a mountain cabin would be perfection. We see how desolate and bleak the future seems for these two when the other isn’t in it. And then when they do ultimately reunite it’s passion filled, and also has a feeling of desperation to it. They both want to make the most of this moment in case it truly is the last they have together. I wasn’t sure where this book was heading, but I will say the ending had me on the edge of my seat, and was rather poetic.

Smut Level: Dude! He literally tears the dress from her body! Such a delightful scene to read in a packed Tim Horton’s in Vancouver. Held my Kindle rather close to the chest if you catch my drift. Overall though, some amazingly steamy and descriptive scenes.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Soul Mate Publishing, LLC. 153 Pages.

LuAnn and the Latin Lover by Hebby Roman

Step back ladies and gentlemen! We have a man who likes to snuggle here!!

What’s it About? 

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LuAnn Sparks and Joaquin Sandoval were childhood friends; his parents were employed by LuAnn’s family. LuAnn, born to wealthy parents, marries well and leads a privileged lifestyle until she loses her husband and their money. Joaquin is a bad-boy, Harley-riding rebel whose clever invention makes him an overnight millionaire. Reunited after more than twenty-five years apart, they still care for each other. But LuAnn is trying to put her life back together. And Joaquin is determined to obtain custody of his eight-year-old daughter. Can an up-tight socialite and a tattooed-biker find a forever-after-kind of love and forge a new family together?

First Impressions

This book is all about first impressions…for the second time! LuAnn and Joaquin haven’t seen each other for over 25 years, and upon reuniting we see Joaquin first appear in a sleeveless, black mesh see-through muscle shirt. And black leather pants. At a wedding. Certainly takes casual beach wedding attire to a whole new level! Not only is this book all about first impressions and appearances, but it’s also about how inaccurate they can be. Joaquin is a tattooed, pierced, muscle man who used to be LuAnn’s father’s servant. LuAnn quickly makes assumptions about how those features could reflect not only on his financial circumstances, but also his outlook on life and love. However, she’s not the only one to judge a book by it’s cover.

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Joaquin does the same, as he remembers her from when they were younger; living in a big house, and marrying young to a wealthy man. She lived in a world where outward appearance reflected wealth and pretension. But as they take a chance on each other romantically, they eventually discover that appearance isn’t everything. This is especially true in the fact that their financial circumstances have literally been reversed. It also goes to show that they thought they knew each other based on their few interactions from years and years ago. Only when they actually spend time together now, sharing aspects of their lives do they truly start to understand each other.

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Taking Advantage of Second Chances

Hot damn! I will say this was definitely the sexiest book of the series. Joaquin is surprised by how responsive LuAnn is to his touch. She’s pretty shocked too. Hell, I think we all were! Joaquin is the first man LuAnn has been attracted to since the death of her husband. She wants him, and their mutual sexual attraction is obvious, but she’s also worried about getting naked in front of him at her age. Joaquin on the other hand has wanted her since he knew what it was to want a woman. He’s not going to let this opportunity to finally get LuAnn in his bed pass him by, yet he’s also sensitive enough to realize that he doesn’t want to push her beyond her comfort level. Instead he chooses to take things at her own pace, which I really appreciated.

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An Unexplored History

These two have a history together, and it’s something that I wish had been explored just a bit further, as I think it could have helped us connect with their reunion even more. LuAnn mentions how she always felt a closer connection to Joaquin rather than his brother, who was actually closer to her in age. Joaquin was apparently more fun, but we’re never really given any examples of that.

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We do hear how he saved her life from a pack of feral dogs back in the day, so it’s definitely understandable how she would have felt indebted to him for that. I just would have liked to see another side to their previous friendship, as well as further understand the dynamic of him working for her family. Personally, I think a flashback would have really served the story well here, and could have provided us with a unique literary device that hasn’t been used in any of the former books.

A Rush to Forever

Joaquin and LuAnn are both very quick to judge each other. You can definitely understand it at the start considering they really don’t know each other that well after having spent so many years apart. People change, yet both are sort of clinging to those prior impressions of each other from their youth. After a while you can tell they are both seriously considering spending their lives together, yet they still cling to some of those initial false assumptions and impressions. I sort of felt that they were almost rushing their relationship at times to take things to the next level before they really got to know each other now. There’s nothing wrong with dating for a while here people!

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There’s also a lot of drama going on in each of their lives beyond just their relationship. Yet another reason to make sure you’re not rushing into a lifelong relationship! Both have had a rough go of things in life. LuAnn’s husband has died, and she has lost all of her former wealth. Joaquin has experienced the loss of loved ones, yet loves his young daughter with all his heart and is desperate to get sole custody of her. The drama with Joaquin’s daughter was by far the most powerful story line of the novel. His daughter was quite adorable, and I think I would have liked one or two more scenes involving her, Joaquin and LuAnn as a group rather than having her referenced more in the background.

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

Series: Snowbirds, book 3. A good addition to the series. I always enjoy when we get a chance to glimpse the characters from the previous novels. It’s also great that we get to see older couples who are choosing to take risks later on in life, and sometimes even start their lives over completely.

Should you read it? We have an interesting exploration of appearances and second chances. Joaquin and LuAnn have desired each other, and they don’t want to let this opportunity to reunite pass them by. In spite of their shared history, I think they did kind of rush the idea of a happily ever after together. This rush into a serious relationship also did seem to result in them jumping to conclusions or rash assumptions about the other fairly often. I think all in all it was because they were still getting to know each other, while also dealing with outside stressful factors at the same time.

Smut Level: This book is steamy! Joaquin and LuAnn both live in RV’s next-door to each other. This means we’re dealing with close quarters and plenty of cramped spaces to engage in a good ole bump and grind.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Estrella Publishing. 185 Pages

Against the Ropes by Sarah Castille

I was talking to my mom the other day, and she mentioned how she was reading a novel that featured two leads with some pretty unique names: Daphne and Simon. After a slight pause I responded, “I’m reading one featuring a ‘Makayla’ and a ‘Torment’.” Yeah…Torment. Granted, it’s a fighting name, but still. I think that beats out “Simon” in the unique name department.

What’s it About? 

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He scared me. He thrilled me. And after one touch, all I could think about was getting more…Makayla never thought she’d set foot in an underground mixed-martial arts club. But if anyone needs a medic on hand, it’s these guys. Trouble is, at her first sight of the club’s owner she’s the one feeling breathless. All sleek muscle and restrained power, the man they call Torment plays to win at any cost. Whether it’s in the ring or in the bedroom, he knows exactly when to use a soft touch and when to launch a full-on assault. He always knows just how far he can push. And he’s about to tempt Makayla in ways she never imagined…

First Impressions

Makayla is your stereotypical romance novel heroine with a total lack of self confidence, or awareness of her own sexuality. After the first few times of meeting Torment she’s constantly asking herself, “Oh is he flirting with me? Does he like me? Could he possibly want to take things to the next level and sleep with me?” Girl! He just kissed each and every one of your fingers, then your palm, wrist and up your arm to your elbow. I think it’s safe to say he’s got some warm and fuzzy feelings for ya! This novel definitely starts off strong as Makayla and Torment have this fabulous sexual tension, and you can’t wait until they work some of it off in the bedroom. Unfortunately it quickly devolves into this bizarre, pseudo on-again off-again relationship. It seems like every time they take a step forward in their relationship they then take two giant ass steps back.

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Money and Friend Problems

Makayla is experiencing some severe financial issues. She mistakenly thought her school loans were deferred, but apparently they’ve been handed over to a collections agency. She has this really interesting rapport with the debt collector who is in charge of her case, and while kind of creepy at times, it also develops into a really interesting part of the story. Her financial woes are what first bring her and Torment together though, as she accepts a position as the ring-side first aid medic for his underground fighting ring.

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This is also how we are introduced to Makayla’s best “friend”, Amanda. Not gonna lie, this woman is a terrible friend, and quite possibly a terrible person in general. She only cares about herself, and basically ignores every concern Makayla brings up about this debt collector who is pressuring her for a lot of money she doesn’t have. Amanda also has some questionable relationship opinions. When her boyfriend Jake doesn’t bend to her every whim she decides to faze him out and give him the silent treatment as a way of getting back at him. When Jake basically says, “to hell with this”, and breaks things off Amanda gets so pissy she sleeps with Makayla’s boss to show Jake other people want her just fine. Ughh, anyone else think this is too high school?

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What Not to Do

At first I kind of enjoyed how protective Torment was of Makayla. Normally when we have a male lead who is overly protective of his woman it’s something I hate, but when it came to Makayla’s living arrangements I couldn’t help but agree with him. She’s living in what is basically a hallway that opens up to the back entrance of a shared house. And the door in her “room” that leads outside has a broken lock. So yeah, I kind of understand why he would be protective of her in this instance. However, as their relationship progresses it becomes so “me Tarzan you Jane” it’s kind of ridiculous.

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This book eventually becomes the perfect example of how dangerous an introduction to light BDSM with your partner can be when you don’t have good communication. Torment ties up Makayla, restrains her and pushes her to the point where she has flashbacks from her abusive childhood. When he asks her what’s wrong she brushes it to the side as though nothing is wrong, even though Torment recognizes that there is some kind of underlying issue at work here. That doesn’t stop him though from doing it a second time! Shame on him! He kind of pushes her to the point where she has an emotional breakdown, and that’s just not ok.

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Series: Redemption, book 1. If we ever have a future novel featuring Amanda as the female lead I’m gonna have some issues with it.

Should you read it? Meh, it was just ok. Kind of frustrating how it had such a fun and promising start, but eventually there’s just so much back and forth of will they/won’t they between Makayla and Torment it was kind of frustrating. The debt collector aspect was an interesting question mark feature throughout the novel that did come together at the end for a delightful finish. Definitely not a must read, and also shows what not to do when it comes to introducing BDSM into your relationship.

Smut Level: I did appreciate at one point when Torment asks Makayla what she wants her safe word to to be to stop all sexual activity and she asks, “Why can’t it just be ‘stop’?” Such a great question.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.25 Kindle Price. Sourcebooks Casablanca. 368 Pages.

 

Consumed by Skyla Madi

OMG you guys, the names in this book are so over the top “romance novel” names you can’t help but love it. Blade? Seth Marc? The guy literally has 2 first names. What more could you ask for???

What’s it About? 

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Olivia James has never been one to walk on the wild side, at least not until she meets Seth Marc—a cocky, sexy fighter at her father’s gym. He’s infuriating, nauseatingly addictive and she just can’t seem to shake him. He’s only been in town a short while and his name is already on everyone’s lips. He’s the kind of guy moms’ warn their daughters about—the kind that leaves a trail of shattered hearts behind him and he has Olivia in his sights. Olivia has never met anyone as confusing as Seth and his hot and cold attitude constantly sends her reeling. She’s never wanted anyone’s touch so badly in her life, but having recently come out of a long term relationship diving into another is something she’d prefer to avoid. Determined for his touch, but not to let him under her skin, Olivia embarks on the most thrilling ride of her life.

First Impressions

This novel has two main themes. First: it’s all about moving on from one relationship to another. Second: good girls can have fun too you know! Olivia has just got out of a six year relationship with an ultimate ass-hat who cheated on her multiple times. At first, she turns to fighter Seth as a distraction, and as a way to finally have a fiery sexual relationship in her life. Well, she definitely gets both, but also more! Olivia soon discovers that she wants more out of her tie with Seth, as she starts to develop real feelings for him. But can she take a chance on a man who is so different than anything she’s ever known, and will he choose to let his guard down for this “good girl”?

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All in All

I will say this isn’t the strongest story, plot-wise. It’s definitely an interesting read, but when all is said and done not a whole lot happens until the very end of the novel. The climax is a rather comprehensive combination of sad, sweet, and action-packed. For the first three quarters of the novel though? It’s primarily just Olivia and Seth laying the foundation for their relationship, without too much overt drama.

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Throwin’ Some Shade

For the most part I can pretty much say I am a fan of Seth. He’s definitely putting himself out there with Olivia by not only opening up about his past, but also even the fact that he’s pursuing a relationship with her in the first place. That’s not exactly his modus operandi, and he’s quite honest and adorable at times as he maneuvers how to enter into a serious and monogamous relationship for the first time.

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However, in spite of his cute side he does also have two brief flashes of darkness. These come out particularly when taunting other men who want Olivia. First was with her boss during a heated standoff in her office. While Olivia confronts her boss about her new relationship with Seth, he proceeds to come up behind her, smell her neck, and tease the boss by saying “she tastes as good as she smells.” Ummm….the shade has officially been thrown!

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Then there’s a moment with Olivia’s ex boyfriend, Blade, who wants her back after seeing her photographed in a dress which he purchased for her. Seth again taunts this potential foe by saying that after one of his match fights he and Olivia went back to his hotel and he proceeded to “ruin” that dress. Daaaaaaamn. If I were Olivia I must say I’d be kind of pissed. You’re kind of crossing the line there buddy. Why not just head somewhere more private if you wanna measure who has the biggest willa walla ding dong? c8fce312f321a767d12a4f0c2a01ef01433b312c22910cca0bcdd5ad9549aa01The Best “Friend”

There was another important character in this novel, and that would be Olivia’s best friend, Selena. Not gonna lie, she annoyed the ever loving shit outta me. Definitely using the term “friend” rather loosely here if you ask me. Look, I’ve definitely had friends who were pretty much the total opposite of me. They’ve succeeded in sometimes pushing me out of my comfort zone to try new things. But, unlike Selena, they have never berated me, or made me feel like an idiot if I didn’t want to try something that made me legitimately uncomfortable. Selena doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of “no”, and often offers up judgement when Olivia wants to play things safe. Severe judgement.

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At one moment she scoffs at Olivia for turning down the opportunity of having a threesome between her and a complete stranger. During another she begs Olivia to go on a blind date in her place, and when she then learns that Seth kicked the shit out of this date she immediately calls Seth an ass without even asking Olivia’s versions of events to find out what truly happened. Said blind date was actually a drunken ass who tried to force himself on Olivia, and Seth stepped in to protect her. If I had to describe Selena in a word, it would be selfish, as she’s a woman who only cares about having fun even if at the expense of Olivia’s comfort. Not a fan.

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Series: Consumed, book 1. I’m excited to see where this story goes, and how Olivia and Seth will develop their relationship even more.

Should you read it? It’s a sexy read that held my interest, even though not a whole lot happens story-wise. I’m starting to wonder if this first book is more of a build up to book 2 that might have more struggle and drama between our characters. However, in this book we understand the framework and starting off point to their relationship, so still a good read.

Smut Level: You just know fighters have an excess amount of testosterone that’s bursting for release. One of my favorite scenes involves our couple making a mess of things in the bathtub.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Limitless Publishing LLC. 422 Pages.

 

Axel by Harper Sloan

When Isabelle seeks to escape from her abusive husband, she has to turn to a man from her past who she thought was gone forever. Translation? Sexual tension is all up in the house!

What’s it About?

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Fate hasn’t always been friends with Isabelle West. In fact, fate has been a downright bitch. Isabelle has learned the hard way how hard life can be when fate isn’t by your side. It can hand you dreams on silver platters, but it can snatch them right back and hand you nightmares. One thing Isabelle knew for sure fate was consistent with was taking away everything she ever loved. For the last two years Isabelle has been slowly clearing the clouds of her past. Happiness is finally on the horizon. She has a thriving business, great friends, and her life back. All she has to do is jump over the last hurdle…her ex-husband.

When problems start causing her to fear her new life, and memories that are better left forgotten start rushing to the surface the last thing she needs is a ghost from her past to come knocking on her door. Axel never thought he would look into the eyes of Isabelle West again, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to now. He’s carried his anger for so long he isn’t sure he can just turn it off, but when he is faced with protecting her and an unexpected desire to have her again, life gets a little more complicated. How will Axel and Isabelle deal when all their cards are put on the table and everything they thought was true blows up in their faces?

First Impressions

When it comes to my first impression of Axel, I’m not gonna lie he was kind of a scary dick! Axel and Isabelle used to be a couple of teenagers in love, but after he went away to join the armed forces, a handful of misunderstandings and lack of communication forced them to split. She thought he was dead, he thought she moved on to love someone else right after he left. But more on that later. Years pass, and eventually Isabelle is on the run from her abusive ex-husband and trying to get a divorce. Her close friend who works for a security firm decides to put his best man on the case: enter Axel. When these two lovebirds reunite after so many years apart their first inclination is to hate each other. Yeah, I was kind of confused too.

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Axel just assumes that Isabelle is seeking a divorce from her husband because she was bored at being a lonely housewife, as though there could be no other reason for a woman to want to leave her husband. He treats her with a shocking amount of hostility and intimidation. Only when he discovers that her husband abused her does he show any amount of sympathy. You’d think the fact that she needs a security firm to act as a buffer with her ex would have been enough of a freakin’ clue. To be fair though, it’s not all Axel’s fault. He continually asks Isabelle what drew them apart so many years before, as well as what happened with her ex, but she consistently remains close lipped and in a state of annoyance for Axel coming into her life again. Jeez people, can’t you just open up and communicate already?!?!

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Foster Mamma June

Aside from Izzy’s abusive asshole of an ex-husband, we do have another ultimate villain in this novel, and that would be Axel’s bitch of a foster mother, June. Although we never actually encounter a scene with her firsthand, she is essentially the puppet master who pulled the strings that brought an end to Axel and Izzy’s former relationship. When Axel rode off to join the military, he and Izzy initially had every intention of spending the rest of their lives together. But all of Izzy’s letters to Axel are returned undelivered, and Axel never gets in touch with Izzy. When she eventually seeks out his unloving foster mother to find out what’s what, June brushes her off by basically telling her to take a hike. When she returns again later on in sheer desperation, June snarkily tells Izzy that Axel is never coming back because he’s dead.

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Um, I’m sorry, but did this book unknowingly take place in the 80s? Why the hell was it so hard for them to stay in touch, or even locate each other? I feel like one simple text message could have resolved any and all issues here. Or hey, maybe ask around to find out if he’s actually dead. However, there was one thing that bothered me above all else. When Izzy and Axel eventually reunite after so many years apart, she doesn’t express any joy to discover he’s actually alive. No, she’s pissed at him. And why? Because although June told her Axel was dead, she assumes that when Axel did return from the military June must have told him Izzy was still looking for him. He simply must have decided not to find her. Are…you…kidding me??? This woman gave you the brush off and told you the love of your life was dead, and yet when you ultimately discover that wasn’t the case you still choose to give her the benefit of the doubt over him? Whyyyyy? This woman was clearly being deceitful, yet you gave her more credit than you gave him.

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Mutual Animosity

So the blessed reunion between Axel and Izzy is tainted by animosity. She assumed he never tried to find her after returning from military training, even though she initially thought he was dead. As for Axel, he basically assumes that right after he left for training Izzy moved on, and ran off to be with another man. They really don’t like each other. But that initial animosity dissolves pretty quickly as far as actual days, although it does take up a large portion of the novel itself. Then they are all lovey dovey again and planning a future together.

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This was the part of the book that I could actually start to enjoy. While their switch from hatred to love does seem pretty quick, we do have to remember that they have a history together; a romantic past that is an interesting technique to get around what initially seems like a quick romance between them. The problem is that I felt like we never truly got to know them when they were younger together, or at least as a couple anyway. We really only get a glimpse of them at the moment they are separated, rather than finding out what it was that initially brought them together. This does sort of make you question what the foundation of their relationship, whether past or present, really is.

When All is Said and Done

Looking back on this novel you sort of have the impression that these two had an inordinate amount of sex with each other. While true, and believe me ’twas rather graphic, it’s also surprising to remember that they don’t actually do the deed until well over halfway into the book. They spent so much of the first half of the book needlessly mad at each other, before spending the second half constantly intertwined…naked. It almost seemed like two separate stories were pushed into one. A little more cohesion would have gone a long way.

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One of the most satisfying moments of this book, aside from the moment Axel and Izzy finally decide to put their convoluted pasts behind them and jump into bed already, was the ending. Izzy finally stands up to her abusive ex in the biggest of ways. When all is said and done you can’t help but feel the asshole finally got what he deserved. Although Axel was instrumental in helping Izzy end things with her ex once and for all, it was really Izzy who had the last word. You go girl!

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Series: Corps Security, book 1. I could see myself giving the second book in this series a try.

Should you read it? I really wish the section of them being pissy at each other had just been completely removed. It seemed totally unrealistic that after believing he was dead for so many years, his reappearance in her life would make Izzy’s first reaction be something akin to, “I can’t believe you didn’t call me.” And the fact Axel could be so cold and harsh when he knew she was going through something difficult with her husband made him come across as an uber dick. It was only when they started opening up to each other about their time apart that I could truly connect with their story. Before that? You just wanna give em both a good slap in the face.

Smut Level: Good God Axel and Isabelle have a sexual magnetism that is intense, and full of the dirtiest of talk you can imagine. We’ve got licking, pulling, pounding, and enough moaning to satisfy the most alpha of males.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 260 Pages.