Driven by Fire by Eden Rayna

Who knew the sleeper cab of a semi-truck could be such a delectably sexy place an afternoon delight?!

What’s it About? 

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When Piper walks in on her boyfriend with another woman, she ends up alone, walking the highway leading into Fort McKay in Northern Alberta. Piper realizes how much she’s sacrificed for this relationship—her friends, her lifestyle, and most importantly, her career as a chef—and she determines to leave this small town behind and reclaim her independence. But when a semi-truck pulls up behind her and lurches to a stop, she fears her night is about to get worse.

Desperate for some respite from his gossip-worthy life, tech millionaire Brandon takes up long-haul trucking after a messy divorce. While driving into Fort McKay, he sees a woman walking on the side of the highway. Trying to be a gentleman, he pulls over and tries to offer her a ride. She refuses—yet the look in her eyes makes him feel protective of her at first sight.

When Piper and Brandon have a chance encounter the next day, the chemistry between them is undeniable. Neither is looking for love, but they end up spending a hot afternoon together. Brandon’s awaiting business in Edmonton and Piper’s newly-single mindset allow both to say goodbye quickly and get on with their lives. But wildfires raging in the area force Brandon to stay in Fort McKay, leading to a smouldering week with Piper. Despite Piper’s reluctance to depend on another man and Brandon’s determination not to fall in love, they both start to realize how incredible they are together. Piper opens up in ways she never knew possible, and Brandon remembers how it feels to love someone.

As the wildfires rage closer, evacuation orders pressure the lovers to decide on their future. Piper’s friend Danielle knows these two are falling in love and implores Piper to take a leap in this passionate relationship. But Piper has to make her own decision: Will she keep her promise to reclaim her independence, or will she follow Brandon back to his life in Edmonton?

First Impressions

I’m not gonna lie, the opening scene of this sexy romance reads like the start of a horror film. We have a young, beautiful woman walking alone by the side of the road on a dark and smoky night, as a semi-truck slowly follows behind before offering her a ride. If I were in Piper’s shoes I’d probably collapse in a mess of tears. Highlighting a sense of realism to the story, she does remain extremely wary of this driver, denying his offer of a ride to proceed on her path into town. Had she willingly jumped into his cab willy-nilly it probably would have been difficult to continue reading! However, this opening scene perfectly captures the personalities of our characters. Piper is a strong-willed woman with spunk who can take care of herself. As for Brandon, our truck driver, he’s actually a caring, compassionate man who puts his whole heart into those he loves. The question is whether or not Piper is prepared to receive the full force of his affections…not to mention his sexual stamina.

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Can You Make One Week Last Forever?  

After they both find their way into town, Piper and Brandon’s paths continue to cross, and they can’t help but exchange smoldering glances of lust which quickly turn to physical expressions of their desire. In the beginning, both are under the impression this will be a one-night stand to blow off some steam as a forest fire slowly encroaches upon this small mountain town. It doesn’t take long before they realize that something more meaningful is simmering between them. Brandon is more willing to admit to himself that they’re starting to develop a relationship which he wants to continue beyond his short stay in her town. He’s been single for so long following a nasty break-up with his ex, so he understands that the emotions stirring for Piper are uniquely special.

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Piper is definitely more timid in acknowledging that she wants more time with Brandon. Her feelings for him have evolved so quickly, and the last time she followed her impulsive nature for another man she wound up in a tiny oil town for 5 years, abandoning all her career ambitions along the way. While she would love to see where things with Brandon might lead, she also doesn’t want to make the same mistake in running away with him. She only just broke up with her boyfriend one week ago, a relationship which lasted for years and was all wrong for her in so many ways. The night of the break up was also the same night when she took that lonely walk along the side of the road that Brandon happened upon. Piper might try her darnedest to convince both herself and Brandon that they should keep their fling short and sweet, but he certainly delights in trying to persuade her that he knows how to treat her right.

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A Billionaire Trucker

The one feature of this read which I found a bit hard to swallow was the fact that Brandon was simply moonlighting as a trucker. He’s actually a wealthy tech billionaire, but following the publicly disastrous break-up with his ex he chose to get away from the stresses of his world by hitting the road. It provided him with a sense of anonymity and peace that he’d been craving for some time. I definitely understand plot-wise why Brandon has this secret other life. It lends a sense of suspense to his growing relationship with Piper, as she wonders how long they’ll have together until he finally has to leave town. We as the audience constantly question what Piper’s reaction will be when Brandon admits the truth about his wealth. Therefore, while I can’t say it was necessarily a realistic feature for this tech billionaire to turn to trucking, it did create some interesting twists and turns to the story. I almost wish though that he had simply been on a cross-country road trip of some kind, as it still would have allowed Piper and Brandon to cross paths while he hid his true identity.

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There’s certainly no hiding the sexual chemistry of Piper and Brandon’s relationship, as these two have trouble keeping their hands off of each other. A constant shadow over their shoulder though is the fire bearing down on their community. Brandon has plans to evacuate on a private plane, and he has every intention of bringing Piper with him. It was easy to assume that the discovery of Brandon’s wealth would strike a crushing blow to their relationship as a reflection of his inability to be completely honest with her. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the emotional maturity we see towards the end of the novel as everything comes to light. While Piper was noticeably upset about Brandon’s secrecy, she can acknowledge that money isn’t a deciding factor in their connection. Instead the bigger wedge which comes between them is the fact that when the fire finally reaches them she doesn’t want to feel forced into choosing Brandon simply because they have to evacuate at the same time. True, their connection is stronger than anything she’s ever felt before, but things have still evolved so quickly in the span of just one week. Piper refuses to let a fire, or a billionaire with access to a private jet, sway her into making another impulsive decision in life that she doesn’t feel fully ready for.

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

Series: Driven by Fire, book 1. I’d love to see what comes next.

Final Impressions: Their meet-cute may have bordered the line of horror film vs. rescuing a damsel in distress, but these two soon develop a red-hot chemistry that is off-the-charts. Things do drag a little bit in the middle as their sexual escapades continue in a variety of unique positions, and they both have internal musings about how long this fling will last. You’ll fall in love with these characters along their journey, and sympathize with the difficult decisions they must make as the dangers of mother nature threaten to tear them apart. Piper realizes that she’s at risk of making another impulsive choice to follow a man she barely knows, and would rather choose him on her own terms, at her own time. Granted, we ultimately see Brandon come running after her in the end rather than the other way around, which was a tad disappointing. However, it was still a sexy and intriguing read!

Smut Level: From somewhat sleazy motel rooms, to kitchen counters and the cab of his semi-truck, these two can’t keep their hands, lips or tongues off of each other.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. FriesenPress. 341 Pages.

APTOPIX Canada Wildfire

 

Sacrificed to the Dragon by Jessie Donovan

By the end of this novel you can’t help but wonder who loves Melanie more: the man or the dragon?

What’s it About? 

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In exchange for a vial of dragon’s blood to save her brother’s life, Melanie Hall offers herself up as a sacrifice to one of the British dragon-shifter clans. Being a sacrifice means signing a contract to live with the dragon-shifters for six months to try to conceive a child. Her assigned dragonman, however, is anything but easy. He’s tall, broody, and alpha to the core. There’s only one problem—he hates humans.

Due to human dragon hunters killing his mother, Tristan MacLeod despises humans. Unfortunately, his clan is in desperate need of offspring to repopulate their numbers and it’s his turn to service a human female. Despite his plans to have sex with her and walk away, his inner dragon has other ideas. The curvy human female tempts his inner beast like no other.

First Impressions

When I first started listening to this audio book, I remember thinking that the description of this agreement to live with a dragon-shifter clan as a “sacrifice” seemed a bit over the top. After all, that term is usually associated with death, and this contract essentially seems to revolve around sex. A vial of life-saving dragon’s blood in exchange for Melanie spending six months with a dragon in an attempt to procreate. However, it’s not long before we discover that most women who enter into this kind of exchange aren’t strong enough to survive the complexities of giving birth to a dragon. More often than not, it results in the woman dying. Lo and behold the sacrificial moniker seems a bit more appropriate!

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The premise of this novel seemingly had everything you would want in a fantastical romance that would result in an exciting and phenomenal read. Human and dragon thrown together. A binding agreement to have a child in exchange for the blood needed to save her brother’s life. Moving to a remote dragon community which is un-trusting of outsiders. Dragon hunters for crying out loud!! Let’s get this party started!!! Unfortunately, after this premise is outlined to us and we’re introduced to all the key players, the story never really gets elevated to it’s full potential.

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It’s Almost Too Easy

Melanie gets pregnant almost immediately, meaning the question of whether or not she’ll be able to fulfill her side of the bargain evaporates instantly. The next feature which we would undoubtedly start to wonder about would be the threat to Melanie’s life in childbirth. However, this never really seems to be an issue at the forefront of our character’s minds, or at least we’re never presented with a building amount of tension as her pregnancy progresses where it appears to be a primary concern. Instead the sole focus is on the interactions between Melanie, Tristan, and his dragon, as well as Melanie figuring out how to integrate into this new community she’s found herself in.

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The animosity between Melanie and the dragon villagers was another feature that I thought could build up some interesting tension, but yet again this is an aspect which never resulted in any kind of direct confrontation. The angst and contention of the novel is focused instead between Melanie and Tristan, but possibly more so between Tristan and his dragon. Upon first meeting, Tristan’s dragon immediately recognizes Melanie as his mate, and the urge to claim her as their own kicks in right away. However, we see that Tristan is constantly fighting against his dragon’s connection to Melanie, and it seems as though his dragon has a strong emotional connection to her than he does throughout the entirety of the book. They obviously have a sexual connection, but if we didn’t see such desperation on the side of his dragon to be near Melanie, I seriously question if Tristan was really all that interested in her.

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Series: Stonefire Dragons, book 1. While this first book wasn’t my favorite, I was intrigued by some of the secondary characters. I could see myself exploring book 2 at some point in the future.

Final Impressions: Simply put, I wanted more from this one. The foundation for a spectacular novel was definitely there, but it wasn’t as action-packed and suspenseful as I would have liked. The most disappointing feature of the book for me was the fact that we never see any direct conflict with the dragon hunters. The only action sequence which does take place with them happens “off camera”, and we only see the aftermath rather than the action described in real time. I will say the inner musings and arguments that Tristan has with his horny dragon were quite humorous, and combining this erotic desperation with the voice of our narrator (who sounded like a stuffy British librarian) lent an unintentional comedic tone to certain aspects of the story. Overall I think too much time was spent on Tristan trying to fight his connection to Melanie, and I was never fully convinced of his commitment her.

Smut Level: Upon first mating, Tristan’s dragon is determined to impregnate Melanie as quickly as possible. Let’s just say they don’t leave the bedroom until it’s mission accomplished.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Mythical Lake Press, LLC. 258 Pages.

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Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley

Can you think of any better start to the day than a bad-boy biker romance audio book that’s 17 hours and 45 minutes long? Because I sure can’t.

What’s it About? 

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Millie Cross knows what it’s like to burn for someone. She was young and wild and he was fierce and even wilder-a Chaos biker who made her heart pound. They fell in love at first sight and life was good, until she learned she couldn’t be the woman he needed and made it so he had no choice but to walk away. Twenty years later, Millie’s chance run-in with her old flame sparks a desire she just can’t ignore. And this time, she won’t let him ride off . . .

Bad boy Logan “High” Judd has seen his share of troubles with the law. Yet it was a beautiful woman who broke him. After ending a loveless marriage, High is shocked when his true love walks back into his life. Millie is still gorgeous, but she’s just a ghost of her former self. High’s intrigued at the change, but her betrayal cut him deep-and he doesn’t want to get burned again. As High sinks into meting out vengeance for Millie’s betrayal, he’ll break all over again when he realizes just how Millie walked through fire for her man . . .

First Impressions

Almost 18 hours of audio book. That’s over 600 pages in equivalent page length. Did this book need to be that long? No. Did it feel long? Pretty much. The first part of our story involves a constant switching back and forth between Logan and Millie’s idyllic past featuring the start of their relationship, juxtaposed against their tension-filled present which takes place 23 years after Millie walked out on Logan with no warning or explanation. It’s kind of strange to think they’ve lived in the same town all that time without bumping into each other, but then one random stop at a Chipotle’s can change everything. Throughout this entire first half of the book we’re constantly questioning how/why Millie could have abandoned Logan, but then we eventually discover how her leaving was a demonstration of her “walking through fire” for him. She brought pain to herself and him, but she thought it was all so that Logan could live a better life without her.

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When we do eventually discover why she felt the need to throw their relationship by the wayside, I must admit it was a pretty disappointing reveal. She caused so much turmoil for something that could have been less painful if she’d merely opened up to Logan, and admitted the hard time she was going through. Instead, she chose to turn her back on him, and leave him wondering for over two decades what went wrong. Something I did appreciate though was Logan’s reaction to finally discovering her reasoning. Understandably, he’s pissed. Like, super pissed. He even goes to her sister, who knew all along why Millie felt the need to run away, and he gives her a good talking to saying that if she’d merely confided in him he could have resolved things fairly quickly. And yet, he also admits to both himself and her sister that if the roles had been reversed he probably would have made the same decision Millie did. It was such a mature acknowledgment for him to say that while he doesn’t blame Millie for her decision, it doesn’t mean he has to be happy about it.

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The Missing Element

After Logan learns why Millie left him all those years ago, we see how the second half of the book deals with him determined to win her back, and get back to a life of somewhat normalcy. This is something that I feel Kristen Ashley does very well, which is to paint us a picture of the regular, everyday lives of seemingly bad-ass bikers. For example, we see them bicker over what to cook for dinner, and what shows to watch on television. I’m sorry Logan, but I’d have to agree with Millie that Downton Abbey is always the correct choice. Then we see some more of the complexities involved with Logan and Millie coming back together, including learning how they’ve both changed in the years since their separation, and slowly introducing Millie to Logan’s two daughters. This biker might have a tough exterior, but we’re also witness to moments of affection between him, Millie, and his daughters that help ground him.

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As you can see, a lot is going on with this read. Flashbacks to Logan and Millie’s initial love story, scenes in the present reflecting their animosity, a final admission to the root cause of Millie’s abandonment, learning to love again, introductions of Logan’s daughters and ex-wife. And yet, on top of all this there was one thing missing. Those of you who are familiar with my reviews of this series will probably know what I’m going to say. There’s barely any suspense! Once again, we hear mention throughout the entire book of a rival gang to the Chaos motorcycle club, and a villainous leader who seems intent on bringing down our favorite MC. However, we’re always deprived of any kind of momentous confrontation between the two groups, which makes the entire book feel relatively lacking in action. At this point, I can’t help but wonder why there’s even a bother with putting in these brief snippets of suspense in each book when they continually go nowhere? It’s like the whole series is building up to one final battle, but we’re not getting enough incorporation of this side plot for us to be fully invested in its resolution.

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Series: Chaos, book 4. Of all the books in the Chaos series so far, I’d have to say this one was probably my favorite.

Final Impressions: Even though I didn’t agree with Millie’s abandonment of Logan with no explanation, they are both rather enjoyable characters, and you become invested in seeing them find their way back to each other. She also had two adorable-sounding kittens that were my favorite aspect of the book. That being said, it could have been half the length, and this side plot with the rival motorcycle gang that always goes nowhere brought things down for me. Not to mention, you could have played a drinking game with the number of times there was a reference to Millie having to “walk through fire”, or having “walked through fire, or was currently “walking through fire” in regards to Logan. There’d probably be a good chance of alcohol poisoning though. Consider yourself warned.

Smut Level: Take my advice and don’t read this baby in the bathtub like I did. You’ll spontaneously combust from the excessive heat.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Forever Publishing. 602 Pages.

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Knights’ Sinner by Bella Jewel

Serenity has finally found a family that she can connect with, and love wholeheartedly. Too bad she’s been sent on a mission to infiltrate their ranks, and ultimately bring them down.

What’s it About? 

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Jackson is always considered the ‘softie’. He’s the first to help people out when they’re in need. He’s President of the Hell’s Knights and he figures it’s about time he shows the world how much of a sinner he can be.

Serenity has a dark past. Secrets haunt her and she has no way of escaping them. Hogan is the only family she knows and life with him is brutal. And it’s about to get worse.
He sends her on a mission.

On a mission to destroy the Hell’s Knights and the Heaven’s Sinners. Can she pretend with a club she doesn’t know? Or will she betray Hogan for the man she’s falling in love with?

First Impressions

Of all the novels in the MC Sinners series, I must say this has been my favorite one so far. I was on the verge of stopping the series altogether after the first two books, but this third novel really brought things together on a bit of a high note for me. Whereas the first two books kept the dramatic and suspenseful elements of the plot relegated to the background, Knights’ Sinner brings it more to the forefront with Serenity’s espionage of going undercover to become a mole inside of the Hell’s Knights and Heaven’s Sinners compound. We see a big focus of her falling in love rather quickly with the MC president, Jackson, but throughout it all there’s the constant fear of everyone discovering her true identity, not to mention the fear that her abusive father will realize she’s starting to side with this enemy biker gang. While it’s not without its flaws, this third book has been the most exciting of the bunch, and had a more even blend of intrigue, romance, and erotic passion.

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Priorities

While Serenity’s undercover mission lent an air of suspense and excitement to the plot, it was also by far the most frustrating aspect of the story. Serenity knows pretty quickly upon arriving at the compound, and meeting Jackson, that she won’t follow her father’s orders of relaying accurate information about the club’s plans and security forces. She cares too much about this family of bikers who took her in when she seemingly had nowhere else to go, and she can’t imagine betraying them. That being said, she pushes aside every opportunity to tell Jackson the truth about how she came to be with them, and that her father is plotting to bring them down. In the beginning it’s understandable why she would be hesitant, but as time goes on it just becomes more and more ridiculous and puzzling as to why she refuses to open up to Jackson about her past, and ask him for help to release her from the clutches of her father.

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At one point Serenity is on the very edge of admitting the truth, but she clams up and instead decides that blurting out how much she’s intrigued by the concept of a threesome involving Jackson and one of his biker brothers would be a better idea. Um…ok. She knows she’s waiting too long, and acknowledges that Jackson will hate her when the truth inevitably comes out, especially after he admits how much he was hurt by an ex who turned out to be someone she wasn’t. And then it happens, the truth comes out, and what she feared would happen…happens. Jackson pushes her away. The biker family no longer trusts her. Just like she knew would happen. And yet Serenity’s response to their shunning her is pure rage and frustration. How dare they judge her! They don’t know the emotional and physical abuse she suffered for years at the hands of her father. She had no choice, yada yada. But…the problem is that she had soooooo many opportunities to come forward and ask for their help! Instead she seemed more interested in getting her three-way on. Priorities girl, get it right.

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Series: MC Sinners, book 3. It looks like there’s just one more half book in this series, but I think I’ve found myself at a good stopping point.

Final Impressions: Overall I really enjoyed the suspense of Serenity’s deception which was woven throughout the romantic story line developing between her and Jackson. That being said, her secretiveness went on for way too long, and diverting attention away from her past to focus instead on a threesome with Jackson just seemed like an odd tactic, albeit a sexy one. There was an exciting build-up of anticipation as you wonder how and if the club will finally succeed in taking down Serenity’s father. In the end, you gotta love he’s one of those villains who likes to pause and describe in long, drawn out detail all of his plotting and scheming. Although it wasn’t a perfect story from start to finish, it was definitely an improvement upon the groundwork which was laid from the first two novels.

Smut Level: Serenity might start off as a virgin in this novel, but by the end she’s had a threesome, explored the painful euphoria of anal sex, and come into her own as a sexy vixen and temptress for Jackson.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 350 Pages.

Handsome Death by Sara Dobie Bauer

“Priority one has always been to keep him safe, but the joke was on me: I’m the most dangerous thing he’s come across.”

What’s it About? 

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I’m not hunting him; I’m protecting him. At least, that’s what I tell myself. In New York City, a beautiful creature like Tristan Clement should not be walking the streets alone, and I’m the perfect vampire to watch his back. But what if keeping him safe isn’t enough anymore? What if I want to touch? And taste? I need him. But I’ve never needed anyone.

In a world where paranormal creatures live amongst us and must follow certain laws, living life as a dangerous loner works for vampire Ethan. Inhabiting his gleaming apartment, wearing his designer suits, jetting around the world as a fanged killer-for-hire, Ethan does it all alone.

That is, until he literally runs into Tristan. Tristan, who is clearly trouble wrapped in skinny jeans and an oversized sweater. Tristan, with his shock of angelic blond curls. Tristan, who plays piano more beautifully than the old masters– and Ethan would know; he saw Beethoven.

Tristan is gorgeous, a little sassy, and irresistible. Also, Ethan is horrified to note, Tristan has no idea how incredibly tempting he is to things that go bump in the night.

Overcome by the urge to keep Tristan safe, Ethan begins to… well, stalk is such a strong word. What starts as an obsession quickly becomes something more, something that Ethan needs. And to his surprise, Tristan seems to need him, too…

This darkly romantic tale delivers steamy passion and a happily ever after. Be advised that Handsome Death includes explicit m/m content, stalking, mentions of past abuse, and graphic violence.

First Impressions

Guy meets guy in a NYC coffee shop. Seems like a rather standard meet cute, no? Well, when one of those guys is a centuries old mercenary vampire, and the other is a young unsuspecting music student, let’s just say it ramps up the intrigue to a mouth-watering level. At first, Ethan finds his draw to this young human completely inexplicable, but the one thing he does feel is an intense desire to protect and safeguard him. Perhaps it’s simply a lustful attraction which will soon fade.

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However, as time passes and their relationship evolves, we see how both of these men help the other learn to live again. Tristan has the ability to make this rugged mercenary laugh, and feel something for the first time in a long time. It’s shockingly charming to witness the sensitive romantic side of this tough vampire slowly emerge before us. As for Ethan’s influence on Tristan, he helps this young man move on from a previously troubled relationship which made him feel weak, useless and ugly. It doesn’t take long after being enveloped in Ethan’s arms to feel both beautiful and desired at the same time.

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Brought Right to the Edge

Edging plays a rather large role in this novel. Not that kind of edging! Although…come to think of it Ethan does have a lot of fun repeatedly teasing Tristan right to the edge of full pleasure before pulling away. But no, when I refer to edging in this instance I mean that we’re always sort of brought to the edge of something going terribly wrong for our characters, but ultimately things resolve themselves before we’re pushed over that edge. There’s the cusp of our characters breaking up, the finality of death, or in some cases being caught by the authorities. However, things always end up working out before they go too wrong…in most instances.

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In a way, this lent a rather refreshing sense of lightness to the plot, but also meant we were constantly waiting for a shoe to drop that never does. For example, I was confident at the start of the book that Ethan’s mercenary past would in some way insert itself into the bubble which he and Tristan had created for themselves. Perhaps an old enemy would come back to bite him (vampire joke totally intentional). And yet, that never happens. The main focus of the story is really centered on Ethan and Tristan figuring out how they fit into each other’s lives, and discovering that you can find love even when you weren’t looking for it.

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

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Series: Stand-alone. I will say we’re presented with a few delightful secondary characters who I would adore to see more from. Tristan’s spunky best friend in particular was so much fun.

Final Impressions: I read this book in one day. Was that because the characters wouldn’t release me from their captivating world, or because I’ve been stuck inside my apartment for the last week due to covid-19 lock down? Definitely a mixture of both. There is one especially suspenseful moment towards the middle of the book which turns everything topsy turvy. Although it was a moment which we could foreshadow, it was still intense in its delivery. I think I would have liked to see some aspect of Ethan’s mercenary past come more to the forefront in his relationship with Tristan, just as a way to heighten the suspense even more. Overall though, an engaging read that highlights the strength and healing nature of true love.

Smut Level: My goodness gracious, what do these two hunks NOT do?! Some of it is intensely erotic, from the aforementioned edging to the use of ropes, and of course a bit of required biting from our vampiric alpha male. They’re openly communicative though when it comes to the rougher side of their sexual relationship, and have a clear go-no-go system in place. Respect!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Carnation Books. 257 Pages.

HANDSOME DEATH BLURB

The Reluctant Savior by Rebecca Hefner

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

What’s it About? 

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

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Love and Turmoil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entrance by J.J. Sorel

Clarissa has just been granted a dream job working for a mysterious billionaire. She’s determined to keep to herself, but one look at Aidan changes everything.

What’s it About?

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The boss’s name was a mystery. But judging by the opulent surroundings, he was filthy rich, with impeccable tastes. The following day, I moved into his breathtaking Malibu estate and instantly went from impoverished art history grad to living in style. My new boss made my knees weak. Aidan Thornhill was insanely handsome. Then, one night on his yacht I gave him my innocence, and from there it descended into sheet-gripping unbridled lust. I’d been warned not to fall for him, and as secrets and gossip emerged about his shadowy past, I didn’t know who or what to believe. Suddenly I was faced with the hardest decision of my life…. Should I run from this fairytale romance and dream job, or risk my heart by remaining in Aidan Thornhill’s strong arms?

Clarissa Moone took my breath away. With the buttons threatening to pop on that tight shirt she wore, she had the type of curves that kept a man up at night. Innocence was the last thing I expected from someone so beautiful and sensual. I had two golden rules when it came to sex–no employees and no virgins. But rules are meant to be broken, right? Instead of running, I took control. She gave me her innocence, and I unleashed something deliciously dirty in her. I never expected to fall hard. But I’d become addicted. I couldn’t stay away… not even for a night. Then my ugly past entered, threatening to destroy everything I’d built. I was prepared to lose everything… but not Clarissa.

First Impressions

The beginning of this novel almost had a Beauty and the Beast influence to it. Clarissa has come to work for this mysterious billionaire in his huge house. While he might not be scarred physically, he has his mental and emotional wounds which heavily impact his relationships with others. Hell, we even get the introduction of a huge library, although her father is a bit more enamored with it than she is. So maybe not a direct retelling of the classic fairy tale, but it certainly has that aura. For Clarissa there is a constant debate of whether or not to act on the feelings he’s stirred within her. On the one hand, she doesn’t want to risk losing this amazing job by sleeping with the boss, but she also can’t deny her intense attraction to him. For Aidan, there is no debate. He sees, he wants, he acts, he possesses.

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The Virgin and the Conqueror 

Aidan has never felt this way for a woman before, and that’s saying something. As a reformed sex addict he’s certainly indulged in his fair share of feminine delights. Following his return from Afghanistan he drowned his pain in willing women. It was his way to forget and numb the pain, and also resulted in him developing a reputation as a use ’em and leave ’em kind of guy. It’s a difficult reputation for Clarissa to accept, no matter how many times others remind her of it. He’s always seemed so caring and generous in her presence, and his involvement with multiple charities can only be described as selfless. She struggles with the dichotomy of his reputation as a ladies man and the caring man she feels in her heart he must be. Clarissa defends Aidan whenever his character is called into question, yet each rumor manages to make her question what she actually knows about this man.

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Something I appreciated with this read was that apart from one initial instance where Clarissa internalized her doubts by avoiding Aidan, for the most part she was never afraid to confront him with her worries. With every rumor of an ex fiancée, another one-night stand, or his need for a psychologist, she asks him for the truth. And for his part Aidan is pretty open about sharing the complicated details of his past. That’s not to say their relationship is completely without fault though. After all, Aidan has a rather unhealthy obsession of constantly knowing Clarissa’s whereabouts, and a feeling of possessiveness that borders on the shocking. In addition, they have a tendency to resort to sex rather than fully expressing themselves through words.

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

Series: Thornhill Trilogy, book 1. Not really a cliffhanger ending, but some things were left unresolved so they can be addressed in a future novel. I personally probably would have liked a more finite ending, as it sort of felt like a mid-scene conclusion.

Final Impressions: A strong start for sure. I enjoyed seeing this shy and sensitive virgin connect with this man who awakens her sexual desires in a way she never imagined possible. After they come together they are able to have an emotional connection over the difficulties of their pasts, although it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface. I will say it didn’t take long before their many sexual escapades started to feel repetitive, both in the language used to describe the scenes, as well as the progression of the scenes themselves. I almost would have preferred to see fewer sex scenes, or perhaps have them spaced out a bit more, and instead bring in more of the mystery component surrounding Aidan’s source of wealth and his gruff army companion who seems hellbent on blackmail.

Smut Level: There are many mentions of Clarissa’s thighs or panties being sticky. Realistic description? Sure, but sooooo much stickiness happening here.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 269 Pages.

Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley

This is one of those romance series that seems to improve with the addition of each novel.

What’s it About? 

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The ride of her life. . .Once upon a time, Carissa Teodoro believed in happy endings. Money, marriage, motherhood: everything came easy—until she woke up to the ugly truth about her Prince Charming. Now a struggling, single mom and stranded by a flat tire, Carissa’s pondering her mistakes when a vaguely familiar knight rides to her rescue on a ton of horsepower.

Climb on and hold tight. . .In high school, Carson Steele was a bad boy loner who put Carissa on a pedestal where she stayed far beyond his reach. Today, he’s the hard-bodied biker known only as Joker, and from the way Carissa’s acting, it’s clear she’s falling fast. While catching her is irresistible, knowing what to do with her is a different story. A good girl like Carissa is the least likely fit with the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Too bad holding back is so damned hard. Now, as Joker’s secrets are revealed and an outside threat endangers the club, Joker must decide whether to ride steady with Carissa—or ride away forever . . .

First Impressions

The standout feature of this novel which sets it apart from all the others which came before is our heroine. Simply put she’s an outsider, one completely removed from the motorcycle world. The previous two novels dealt with women who knew the customs and traditions of a motorcycle club, and what it meant to be a man’s “old lady”. Carissa is getting a crash course in these customs after Joker comes to her rescue after her car breaks down on the side of the road. What’s particularly fascinating though is that the club seems to claim Carissa before Joker does.

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It’s not just that Joker has expressed an interest in her that the club has chosen to envelop her into their world, although that is certainly what drew their attention to her in the first place. Rather, it’s after this initial introduction when they work on her car that they hear her story. They see a woman who is being mistreated and emotionally manipulated at the hands of her ex. A mother who wants nothing more than to care for her child. This is what causes the entire club to rally behind her as though she were already one of their own. It’s a beautiful reflection of what this motorcycle club of seemingly rough and intimidating alpha men is all about. They’re looking out for those less fortunate, and should they have the means to remedy the situation in some way they throw everything they can at it.

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The Growth of a Tigress

Something even more intriguing than the development of Carissa and Joker’s romance was the evolution of her dynamic with her ex-husband. At the start of the novel, he’s doing anything he can to make Carissa’s life a living hell, and using his stature within the law community to take advantage of their separation. Our story opens with a focus on Carissa’s many burdens. From a lack of child support payments, to a mountain of lawyer fees she can ill afford, and the increasing loss of custody of her son to the point where she’s considering desperate measures to attain a sub-par lawyer to represent her against her cutthroat ex. This is when Joker and the Chaos Motorcycle Club come in. They support her in any way they can. But it’s not as though they just throw money at her in the hopes her situation will improve.

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They bring her in as one of their own, and become an emotional support and shoulder to lean and cry on that she was desperately in need of. Joker shows her and her son a selfless expression of love that she’s never experienced up until this point in her life, even from her ex-husband. They become her family. And it is through their support that Carissa finds her own inner strength, and the will to stand up for herself and her son in the face of her ex’s intimidation tactics. However, it is only after Carissa starts to exude confidence, and following the introduction of Joker to her ex that he starts to re-think their separation entirely. He adopts a renewed vigor to win her back after he sees another man encroaching upon his assumed territory. The question soon becomes, which was worse? His desire to push her down, or his tricks to try and win her back?

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Series: Chaos, book 3. Hands down, my favorite story of the series so far.

Final Impressions: In a way, the romance between Joker and Carissa is almost a second chance at love. They both crushed on each other in high school, but he ran away before they could ever voice their feelings for each other. All these years later Carissa is a single mother, and Joker is a tough-as-nails member of a motorcycle club, but none of that can interfere with their long suppressed feelings from coming to the surface. This novel also finally provides us with the introduction of some club drama with a rival gang, though it still takes a backseat to the developing romance between Joker and Carissa. What helps this novel supersede the others which came before is that the plot doesn’t just focus on our lovers learning to navigate their relationship, but we also have the added intrigue of them learning how to navigate the intrusion of Carissa’s ex into their relationship.

Smut Level: The sex scenes between Carissa and Joker often involve her desperate pleas for him not to stop. While definitely steamy, they also reveal a deep-seated neglect at the hands of her ex to fully satisfy her sexual needs.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Forever Publishing. 628 Pages

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The Ninth Ingredient by Leon Mauvais

This short novella undoubtedly could have befitted from a longer length, and less elaboration on certain scene descriptions.

What’s it About? 

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The Renaissance has invaded France! When a Medici princess lands with her army of Italian bakers, the royal kitchens of Fontainebleau erupt into chaos.

The Italians serve up something new, gelato, a dessert so fashionable, so chilled, it captures the tongues of the French court. The French bakers are left scrambling. Henri, a young apprentice, is tasked with discovering the secret recipe.

But when he falls for its maker, things heat up beyond the hearth. Is he willing to betray his new love for a list of ingredients? Espionage has never tasted sweeter!

First Impressions

Henri wasn’t a terribly like-able character in the beginning. Considering how short this novella is at just 98 pages, when you think of the “beginning” of the story we’re essentially dealing with a rather large portion of it. He has a false sense of superiority over his fellow apprentices in the Fontainebleau kitchens. When our novella opens he seems confident that his culinary creations will soon have him rise to the position of personal pâtissier of the king. However, as things progress we see that his culinary prowess is less than spectacular. Let’s just say he wouldn’t last very long in a taping of the Great British Bake Off. He’s quick to criticize and humiliate his fellow apprentices, even giving them derogatory nicknames. However, we soon learn that this criticism has nothing to do with their own lack of skills, but rather speaks more to Henri’s own personal doubts of his abilities, not to mention his desperation to move up in the hierarchy of the kitchens.

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Enter the Italian Gelato Maker

Henri makes one too many faux pas to the point where the continuation of his apprenticeship is on the line. He is given one week to steal the recipe for gelato, the creation of an Italian baker/alchemist. 9 ingredients for this delectable dessert are all that seemingly stand between Henri and achieving his ultimate dreams of rising in the ranks. A romance soon develops between Henri and this Italian baker, and while certainly intriguing, I was ultimately left wanting for more between these two bakers. Firstly, they don’t really talk much. There’s certainly a language barrier between the two, but it seems like they’re quickly smitten with each other in spite of not really knowing anything about the other. In addition, while we eventually discover that our gelato maker was aware of Henri’s attempt at thievery for some time, we never really see them discuss this deceit, nor the fact that it could be brushed aside without issue.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: The foundations for an interesting story of romance were certainly all there in terms of espionage, lustful attraction, and infiltrating an enemy’s kitchen in pursuit of personal gains. However, more attention and editing was needed to bring it all together into a cohesive read. There were several scenes which were excessively poetic and flowery in their description to the point that it was difficult to understand what was actually being discussed in terms of the plot. I would often find myself re-reading paragraphs a few times, and having to continue on with a mere hope that I understood what was happening. Then on the flip-side when it came to the romance developing between Henri and the Italian, there was a lack of description to the point where it’s hard to tell what it was that made these two men fall into each other’s arms beyond just mere attraction. Or perhaps that’s really all there was to their relationship? Hard to tell! I’ll tell ya one thing though, it certainly had me craving gelato and other sweet treats!

Smut Level: This was another area that was kind of bizarre. Some kind of winged contraption is used to restrain Henri and keep him elevated off the ground. The fact that it has birds wings, a mask, and multiple cranks made it kind of hard to follow along with what it actually looked like.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. JMS Books LLC. 98 Pages

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Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley

Lanie approaches Hop for what she assumes will be a one-night stand. Silly Lanie. You should know this Chaos motorcycle club is full of alpha men who aren’t willing to let their women go once they’ve had a taste.

What’s it About? 

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Lanie Heron isn’t looking for love-no surprise, considering her last serious relationship nearly got her killed. So when Lanie propositions Hop Kincaid, all she wants is one wild night with the hot-as-hell biker who patrols with the Chaos Motorcycle Club . . .

For Hop, Lanie has always been untouchable. She’s too polished and too classy for his taste. But when she gives Hop the once-over with her bedroom eyes and offers him a night in paradise, he can’t say no. And he doesn’t regret it when he finds that Lanie is the best thing that’s ever happened to him-in or out of bed. Now the trick will be to convince her of that.

First Impressions

Lanie definitely got more than she bargained for after approaching Hop for a little romp between the bed sheets. While he’s initially thrown off by her proposal, and it’s rather entertaining to see her be the initiator in the beginning, it doesn’t take long at all before he takes back the reins in their relationship. One taste is all it takes, and even though Lanie tries to brush off his advances, he’s determined that the two have a connection which is more meaningful than just one night.

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It’s possible that not all the readers out there will be comfortable with Hop’s constant pursuit of Lanie in spite of her many initial objections. However, we soon learn that Hop does have a soft and nurturing side underneath his tough exterior and leather cut. Lanie has awoken feelings in him which he thought would lay dormant forever, and he recognizes that she too is struggling to overcome some of the trials and heartbreaks of her past. Perhaps if he can show her that he’ll always be there for her, no matter how much she might push him away, he won’t abandon her like others had done before.

Battling the Past 

When we first meet Lanie at the start of the book, she seems like a go-getter who isn’t afraid to pursue what she wants, and in this matter what she wants is one night with Hop. But why does she insist on limiting things to just one night? As it turns out, Lanie has been battling certain demons from her past for years. Her attempt to limit things with Hop is her attempt to protect herself, as well as her heart, from the same kind of pain she experienced when her ex-fiance put her in the direct line of danger to protect himself. She also hasn’t exactly had the perfect example of love when looking at her own parent’s relationship. It’s really no surprise then that when Hop comes along, and tries to insert himself fully into her life, she would try and do everything possible to push him away.

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As for Hop, he too has experienced pain in regards to love lost. He’s been cheated on, lied to, manipulated, and fought alongside his brothers to defend their turf for years. However, whereas Lanie tries to close herself off from the possible pain a new relationship might bring, we see the opposite is true when it comes to Hop’s outlook on love. He’s able to recognize in Lanie a kindred spirit; a woman who will challenge him every step of the way; someone he sees as being different from any woman who may have come before her. He’s an alpha male, through and through, and he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure this unique woman he’s falling for doesn’t get away. He also has the difficult task of opening her eyes to why it’s worth going all in on their relationship, and overcoming the pain of her past to take a chance on them.

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The Dramatic Focus

This is the second novel in the Chaos series, and like book one I was once again surprised to discover that the bulk of the drama surrounds the developing relationship playing out between our lead characters rather than any kind of drama related to motorcycle club business. We do get many references to the past events involving Lanie and her ex-fiance being shot and left for dead by the Mafia, and even though they’re suspenseful in nature, the fact they’ve already taken place years ago means they play a more important role on Lanie’s current state of mind rather than lending any kind of actual drama to the plot.

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This is quite similar to what we saw in book one in that we see multiple references to events which have already taken place in a sister series. However, the implementation of still making these past events relevant was executed much more successfully in this sequel. I would have to say it was pretty disappointing though that the main drama we see involving club business takes place at the very very end of the novel in the epilogue, and even this dramatic scene is one we already witnessed play out in book one. It’s like this whole series so far has been an insinuation of drama which will inevitably happen in a future book, but it’s definitely taking us an awful long time to get there!

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Can (Almost) Never Push Him Away

One of the most endearing features of Hop as a male lead is that he refuses to give up when Lanie keeps trying to push him away. We get multiple descriptions of his knowing smirks, as though he’s thinking “yeah right, like I’ll just walk away from you, pffft!” Deep down, Lanie knows that she wants a life and a future with Hop, but she’s simply afraid of giving her heart over to another person again. She openly warns him that she’s prone to overreacting when it comes to relationships, and she’s wont to think the worst of a certain situation. Therefore, I loved that Hop was willing to stick by her so many times as they stumbled across a few hurdles here and there. At first. Turns out, there’s only so much one man can take. Eventually, Lanie pushes Hop away one too many times, and he decides to end things between them.

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Throughout so much of the novel up until this point, we’ve seen Hop insist that he’ll never walk away, and yet we shockingly discover that it’s only so long before he actually turns his back on her. Now, I could definitely understand why he would’ve reached a breaking point. There’s only so many times a man can be accused of something from his past that he didn’t actually do, and he was pretty fed up with Lanie always defaulting to think the worst of him. He certainly had more patience than I ever would have, but I was still shocked that he actually did reach a point where he gave up. Especially when we see her admit she was wrong, and all her attempts to win him back are rejected. Hop was definitely giving her a taste of her own medicine, and again although it was understandable for a time, you still can’t help but taste the bitterness of his actions.

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Series: Chaos, book 2.

Final Impressions: Where is all the drama?!?! We’ve seen multiple mentions throughout these first two books of a rival motorcycle gang encroaching upon Chaos territory, but aside from one escalated argument in the final epilogue, we really haven’t seen much suspense or action when it comes to this rival gang. I’d say the first book had a few more references to them, but in this second one the drama was almost entirely absent. Ultimately this sequel was more successful though in summarizing previous events from the past. In addition, I think I also appreciated Lanie and Hop’s relationship more than the couple from the first novel. They are both finding out how to move forward from their pasts, and it’s in each other that they are able to find the love and strength necessary to succeed. Hop definitely comes across as a tough guy, but his devotion to Lanie and even his poetic descriptions of music evoke a softer side to this motorcycle man. This made it all the more surprising when he eventually pushed Lanie away, but at the same time you can’t necessarily fault him for reaching a breaking point.

Smut Level: The fact that Lanie and Hop’s first time together isn’t described in any detail shocked me to my very core! Don’t worry though, what follows are plenty of descriptive, dirty talking sexy scenes to make you blush. Some even involving a waterbed!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $6.99 Kindle Price. Forever Publishing. 421 Pages.