Deceitfully Yours by Bethany Bazile

Jude was just supposed to be another mark, but it doesn’t long before Kylie finds herself breaking the number one rule of con artists: falling in love with her target.

What’s it About?

Jude Baxter knows instantly that he wants Kylie in his bed. What he didn’t realize is that she’s everything he’s been looking for. When lust turns into love, Jude puts everything on the line to make Kylie his.

Kylie Weber manipulates situations to get what she needs from men, but Jude knocks her off her game. Jude is unexpected and exciting. Kylie soon finds herself erotically entangled in Jude chains and rope, but worst of all she’s gotten her heart entangled in this very dynamic man.

Will the secret she keeps from him cost her everything she never knew she needed?

Quick Review

I’ll be the first to admit that BDSM romances typically aren’t my favorite, but nevertheless I like to try them out every once in a while to mix things up. Therefore, I was a bit surprised that this one managed to hold my interest essentially from start to finish, primarily due to the fact that this wasn’t simply another introduction into the world of whips and spanking, though that was still certainly a prominent feature in the sexual relationship between Kylie and Jude. Beneath the sexual layers of our lead couple we’re also presented with an intriguing con of deception. We know pretty much from the start of the novel that Kylie has her sights set on Jude for some kind of ploy, but as the novel evolves we are privy to the dark details behind Kylie’s motivations in that she is merely working at the behest of a criminal who proves to be the penultimate puppet master, constantly pulling the strings of this vulnerable woman to meet his every whim.

While this side plot successfully added a layer of suspense to the overall story, the short length of this novel at just 241 pages resulted in a lack of depth to what could have been a truly engaging story arch. Instead, we can’t help but feel left wanting when it comes to the relationship which develops between our lead characters, as well as the drama involving Kylie’s con and dubious employer. We’re never provided with enough dialogue or attention to become fully invested in what Kylie’s employer was after, the reintroduction of someone from Kylie’s past, or why our couple became so enamored with each other so quickly considering Jude was always suspect of Kylie’s ulterior motives. The entire novel builds to a climactic twist of a reveal, but unfortunately it was one that seemed fairly obvious from the get-go, not to mention the utter disappointment in discovering that Kylie was aware of this twist all along. I won’t spoil it for the rest of you, but let’s just say things would have been significantly more intriguing if Kylie was just as surprised by the big reveal as the rest of us were also supposed to be. In spite of Kylie’s cryptic warnings to Jude that something from her past would threaten their relationship, but to always remember how much she loved him, Jude is quick to throw her to the side when the going gets tough.

Series: This premier book was supposed to be followed by a sequel featuring friends of Kylie and Jude, but I’m not sure if it was ever released.

Final Impressions: Throughout the entire read we know it’s simply a matter of time before Jude discovers that Kylie’s initial pursuit of him was due to nefarious plotting, and that this inevitable reveal would threaten the very foundation of their relationship. We keep hoping that Kylie will open up to Jude about how she’s been trapped into conning him by the machinations of her scheming employer, but alas, she chooses to keep this crucial detail to herself until it’s far too late. At one point I was willing to push aside this somewhat aggravating trope when I thought it meant that Kylie was refusing to reveal her secrets to Jude so that she could stand up to the villain all her own without needing to rely on Jude to solve her problems for her. Unfortunately, not only do we see that Jude is needed to ultimately bring our heinous wretch to justice, but he then brings Kylie’s initial deceit into their BDSM practices as a way to “punish” her. Even though Kylie always enjoys the dominant ministrations which Jude subjects her to, I couldn’t help but feel this straddled the line of mental manipulation to a point that went beyond their typical forays of pain and pleasure.

Smut Level: Goodness gracious, golly gee, this one is certainly a doozy when it comes to delightfully excessive dirty talk and deliciously explicit sex scenes. At first I thought we were only introduced to a few BDSM moments at the start of their relationship, before things transitioned back to rather vanilla scenes of lovemaking, but the author manages to bring things back full throttle by the end back to d/s play.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 241 Pages.

Celestial Desire by Abbie Zanders

This is the kind of contemporary romance novel that makes me ponder if I should start a bucket list, just so a hunky and caring man can come along to help me cross each item off my list. 

What’s it About? 

Dance with reckless abandon.

Pet a snake.

Get a tattoo.

Have wild, hot sex with a gorgeous stranger.

Recently divorced from her abusive ex, Celeste Harrison is creating a new life for herself, and hot ex-Marine Zane Fagan is perfect for crossing at least one item off her bucket list.

Celeste isn’t Zane’s usual type, but there’s something about her that keeps him coming back for more. In addition to being sweet and incredibly sexy, she’s smart, funny, and when he’s with her, the demons that haunt him are quiet.

It’s all fun and games until her ex tracks her down, and Zane is forced to make a decision that will change both of their lives forever.

First Impressions

As readers of my blog here will undoubtedly know by now, I read a ton of romance novels. And yet, I must say I think this particular short read presented me with something I’ve never come across before in Romancelandia, which would be that Chapter 1 begins mid meet-cute. In fact, it’s almost the tail-end of the meet cute, with the first few sentences involving our male lead, Zane, asking out the intriguing female lead, Celeste, pool-side. I was so thrown by being dropped right into the thick of one of the most crucial features of any romance novel, that by the end of the first chapter I actually flipped back to the very beginning of this e-book in my Kindle to ensure I didn’t miss a crucial prologue. Alas, that was not to be the case, and this isn’t the last time that the author chooses to skim or skip over other important moments. The next prominent occurrence was during Zane and Celeste’s first sexual foray. Their flirtations and foreplay are described in vivid detail, but when they finally come together in the literal sense we get a “fade-to-the-next-morning” approach. 

Normally I wouldn’t have much issue with glossing over the good stuff, but what made this so confusing was the fact that practically every other sex scene in the book is elaborately described from start to finish. As a result, it made the lack of full detail in their first interaction that much more noticeable and disappointing considering the potential emotion such a scene could have contained to further connect the characters, and link us to them too. Finally, there’s another instance towards the end of the book following an action-packed scene that takes place at a hospital, and apparently there is an intense conversation between Zane and Celeste about the future of their relationship, but we aren’t witness to it firsthand at all. We don’t know what exactly was discussed, or even that the exchange occurred until several chapters later. Looking back at these critical romance novel moments (the meet-cute, the first sex scene, the confession), the fact we lost out on any emotional depth which could have been gleamed from those conversations and physical connections was quite unfortunate. 

The Past Comes Back with a Vengeance

While I can’t agree with all of the literary mechanics employed throughout this read, something it did do very well was shine a light on the horrors of domestic abuse, and the constant fear with which its survivors face. Celeste has been trying to distance herself from her ex-husband ever since he was locked away in prison for beating her. Even though she has a restraining order against him, she knows that he’ll come after her as soon as he’s released, and it’s something that Zane starts to fear more with every day he spends with this enchanting woman. While several of the details surrounding her ex’s release were hard to believe, we too are overcome by fear with what this man represents, and we can only keep our fingers crossed that Zane can protect her when this blast from her past comes knocking. Everything builds to an exciting confrontation scene that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think this is the ultimate endeavor which would solidify Zane and Celeste’s connection, it just might prove to be the breaking point of their relationship. 

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: Overall this contemporary romance felt rather disjointed. From the glossing over of critical emotional scenes, to alternating between almost rom-com level bucket list resolutions to intense descriptions of Zane and Celeste’s tragic pasts, we were missing cohesion to the read as a whole. Clocking in at just 184 pages this book definitely could have benefited from those scenes being more fleshed out, and there was plenty of room to make it a reality. This was unfortunate as I really did enjoy the personalities of our lead characters, and the foundation was here for something truly special. 

Smut Level: Even though their first sexual encounter was a fade-to-black moment, there’s plenty of other descriptive scenes to keep you (and our lead characters 😉 ) coming back for more. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 184 Pages

Delicate Ink by Carrie Ann Ryan

A rugged, alpha-male tattoo artist sets his sights on the demure boutique owner across the street. Sounds like a classic Romancelandia premise to me!

What’s it About?

One look at the woman who comes in for new ink and Austin Montgomery knows she’s the one for him. The problem: she can’t stand him. Now he’ll have to be his most charming and brooding if he has any chance of changing her mind…and claiming her heart.

Sierra Elder has reasons for keeping away and secrets close to her heart. An accident took her first love and scarred more than her soul in the process. Now the inked man with a wicked grin is starting to melt the ice she’s built to keep her safe, but the danger isn’t only from what she feels.

Some secrets were never meant to be kept and when mistakes from both of their pasts come knocking, they’ll have to trust each other, even if it could hurt them both in the process.

First Impressions

I think every avid romance novel reader does a little internal twirl of delight whenever we discover the male lead comes from an extensively large family network. And when family members gather together for regularly scheduled family dinners or BBQs? Forget about it, we’re doing a full on happy dance!! After all, that can only mean one thing: sequelssssss. That was definitely true when it came to this first novel in the Montgomery Ink series and we discover that Austin Montgomery comes from a family with multiple siblings, cousins and even “strays” that his family has picked up throughout the years.

There was only one major negative with having so many members of the Montgomery clan, and that was the feeling that we were introduced to too many of them at once in this first novel. While large family romances will often give us a tease to the focus of the next novel, it felt like we got a glimpse to something like five different future story-lines, and even multiple chapters involving the couple from the prequel to this book. We’re only in the first novel and I already feel like I’ve got all my Montgomery members mixed up! The fact we will ultimately get offshoot Montgomery Ink series set in Boulder, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins makes me hope we’ll see some extensive family trees going forward so we can clearly remember who is who.

Flogged with Surprise

It’s no surprise to my readers that I’m not typically a huge fan of BDSM-focused reads. I actually didn’t realize when adding this book to my TBR pile that it had a D/S component, so I had a mini moment of “oh boy, here we go” when gathering together my read-ahead notes for this one. However, while I might not personally understand the appeal of flogging, I did appreciate how this novel presented us with the foundations of a healthy BDSM relationship built upon honesty and respect. Austin had his “sub-dar” activated upon first meeting Sierra and realizing she might be the submissive that his dominant side was craving.

When it became clear Sierra not only understood the fundamentals of BDSM, but also that her previous relationship had been steeped in it, the two were ready to start setting their boundaries. They were very clear in establishing limits, safe words, getting new and clean equipment for their scenes, and Austin clearly outlined that Sierra was safe with him. No skin would be broken by his flogging. They were very good about keeping their D/S dynamic reserved to the bedroom rather than having it take over every aspect of their interactions with each other. It was also refreshing to see that Austin and Sierra didn’t need BDSM play every time they had sex. Sometimes they craved the kink, while other times they craved something more traditional. All in all it was a BDSM relationship I could get behind whole-heartedly.

Series: Montgomery Ink, book 1. It seems kink and BDSM is a hobby that runs rampant throughout this family. If I can manage to keep all these characters straight I think I’ll give a few more a try.

Final Impressions: Overall this was a quick and entertaining read, though at times it seemed there were a few too many components going on. This felt especially true when we started to see the groundwork being laid for the love stories of other Montgomery family members. I couldn’t help but wonder, can we at least get through this first couple’s tale before weaving in details of all the others? This also resulted in some of the key dramatic aspects of Austin and Sierra’s story being pushed to the very end, producing a conclusion that felt a bit rushed.

Smut Level: Austin wants to feast on Sierra every chance he gets, and she’s more than willing to be his appetizer, main course, cheese plate and dessert all night long.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE. Self-Published. 370 Pages.

Sinful Surrender by Erika Wilde

You can’t help but say “sign me up” when a billionaire beast wants to tie you up to his bed with the sole intent of doing things to your body that apparently Batman wouldn’t even do to Catwoman.

What’s it About?

A debt repaid . . . in the form of her surrender. Rich and powerful, Maddux Wilder has built his empire with one thought in mind . . . exacting revenge against the man who killed his parents. But he never planned for his enemy’s daughter, Arabella Cole, to offer herself in exchange for her father’s debt. Innocent and captivating, Maddux can’t resist her allure, or the lust she stirs within him.

When Arabella sacrifices her life to save her father’s, she does so with the intention of hating the man who now owns her. But beneath Maddux’s gruff, boorish exterior she discovers a compelling man. One who makes her burn with need and awakens deep, forbidden desires she can’t deny. Soon she’s surrendering more than just her body to Maddux.

What starts as an act of vengeance becomes something far more consuming. Can this beauty tame the beast, or will revenge cost them both everything that matters most?

First Impressions

Overall I’d have to say this is a delightful beach read. It has a good amount of heat, a bit of drama involving the mafia to hold your interest, and references to one of the best fairy-tales of all time: Beauty and the Beast. I appreciated that while this modern adaptation had a bookish beauty falling for a tough and grumbly beast, it wasn’t simply a scene-by-scene retelling of the story we all know and love. There was enough personality to distinguish this from the standard story-line. For example, while Arabella stands in to pay off her father’s debt to this beast, it’s because he has a criminal history of which she is totally unaware. Her father is certainly a far cry from the bumbling and lovable father figure we may have been expecting. Although some details are unique to this version, two things clearly remained the same: we have a surly male lead who manages to ooze sex appeal in spite of his beastly demeanor, and we have a feisty female lead who is far from a wallflower when it comes to interacting with this alpha billionaire.

She Knows What She Wants

Arabella’s admirable independence was clearly evident when she chose to stand up for her father, but it was even more visible in her sexual relationship with Maddux. At first, it almost seemed like Arabella would be a timid and delicate princess when it came to her sexual appetites. When we first met her she seemed like a bit of a loner living under the oppressive thumb of her overbearing father and his villainous sidekick, Gavin. Even though we see she’s initially quiet upon first meeting, it doesn’t take long before her voice is heard in every sense.

This is true not only in her declaration that she’ll do anything Maddux asks of her while living under his roof to pay off her father’s debt to him, but also when she makes it clear how much she wants Maddux to introduce her to all manner of erotic sexcapades. I was worried at first if this read would present us with a situation where Arabella was beholden and trapped to obey any sexual whim that entered Maddux’s head. Instead, what we see is Arabella is the one demanding that Maddux not treat her like a fragile ornament that might break at the slightest touch. She might be a virgin, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have some downright sultry desires that she’ll beg Maddux to help her fulfill. It definitely makes you wonder who is wearing the pants, or more willing to rip them off, in this relationship.

Series: The Sinful Series, book 1. I’ll be continuing with this series, as we see a hint of a Cinderella story involving Maddux’s brother.

Final Impressions: Again, this is a fun beach read to explore this summer. I probably would have appreciated a bit more exploration of the dynamic between Arabella and her father, but it also wasn’t 100% necessary to the plot. The interactions of Maddux with his siblings and their seeking of vengeance for the death of their parents more than fulfilled the required familial dynamic for the plot to move forward.

Smut Level: It takes some time before we get to the ultimate climax, but we get plenty of teasing dirty talk before then to keep us satisfied.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. 286 Pages.

The Wages of Sin by Kate A. Knight

Amy has been determined to locate her parents’ killer and uncover the reason for their murders for over a decade. When Todd Birch comes on the scene, he threatens to distract her in ways she never thought possible.

What’s it About?

Amy Koehler knows deception better than anyone. Half her life is a secret and the other half is a lie.
The only truth she knows is her love for one man.
Todd Birch is everything she ever wanted and doesn’t deserve.

When there are no more secrets…
Todd must decide whether Amy is worth fighting for.
Broken beyond anything he ever imagined, Amy tests the limits of his love. He puts everything on the line to save her – his career, his honor, his life.
But even that may not be enough.

When all that’s left is the truth… and there’s nowhere left to hide…
There isn’t anything Amy won’t sacrifice to avenge her father.
She knows she is no better than the people she hunts… merchants of death, beasts without a soul.
But Amy will tear their world apart, even if it means destroying the man she loves.

The story must end…
Because the wrongs of her past can never be righted.
She must kill the ones who wronged her. They will pay for their sins with blood.

It is only a sacred truth… that the Wages of Sin is death.

First Impressions

From Jamaica to the Dominican Republic, to Paris and the outskirts of Washington, DC, the entire series has been building to this moment. Books one and two in this series may have followed the same characters, but the plots of the books were so distinct that you couldn’t help but question how the two were supposed to link together in any meaningful way. Well, enter book three where all the different pieces are joined together to form one haphazard and troubling puzzle. We have Amy’s confrontation with the man who will lead her to her father’s killer, her work bringing a terrorist to justice, her complicated relationship with Anne, and finally her tumultuously passionate yet argumentative relationship with her husband, Todd Birch. There was certainly a lot going on…too much going on in my opinion, to the point where it felt like no one story line received the depth and attention it deserved. Finally, all of the progress from book two of Amy learning to trust Todd seemingly evaporated between the last page of that novel and the first page of this one without any explanation.

A Confusing Marriage

Throughout all the mystery and espionage of the last two books there has been one element that has remained constant throughout the series, and that was Amy and Todd. They’ve been linked and drawn to each other since day one, and Todd is really the only man Amy has ever deigned to love. The main dilemma for us as the readers though is that neither character can be considered “likeable”. With each additional novel I found it near impossible to root for them to succeed as a couple, and questioned at times if the series would conclude with them riding off into the sunset together, or killing each other. Either option was certainly plausible. Amy herself would constantly waffle between an internal dialogue of pure infatuation for the man, to be quickly replaced by one of suspicion, fear and pure animosity. They were both abusive to each other mentally and physically, and seemed like they were using each other for ulterior purposes. Again, it was a challenge to root for either of them.

The Big Reveal

If we had to toss out one plot line that seemed quite unnecessary, it would have to be Amy’s work case to get to a known terrorist. This story line resulted in her seeking out the terrorist’s son to uncover personal information to convince the other son to reveal where their father was hiding. It was just…too many lines removed from the main drama of the novel, and the only way it really impacted any of the story was that it brought Amy to Paris where a man who knew about the man who ordered the death of her parents was located. As you can see, there’s a lot to keep track of here.

When we finally get to the big penultimate reveal of who was responsible for the death of Amy’s parents I only had one reaction, “Well…duh!” I couldn’t be sure if this was supposed to be a huge, shocking twist, but honestly it was something that seemed fairly evident since book one. While I could understand and sympathize with Amy’s quest for vengeance, I couldn’t stand behind some of her methods towards discovery, such as killing most of the associates involved in her plotting to ensure nothing could be linked back to her. There was so much senseless killing involved that you question if Amy is supposed to be our heroine, our villain, or perhaps a little bit of both.

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

Series: The Sins Trilogy, book 3. Honestly I was happy to see this series come to an end.

Final Impressions: Overall, it was difficult to connect with, or even like, a single character in this series, let alone our main character. Too much was happening, the pacing was off, and it was difficult to tell if our lead couple loved or loathed each other. The ending was rather predictable, anticlimactic and rushed, and there were significant grammatical errors littered throughout. It definitely had the potential to be an intriguing tale of espionage, but there were too many elements that needed reworking.

Smut Level: Like Amy and Todd’s emotional relationship, their physical relationship was rather problematic as well. At times it was full of steam and passion. Other times left bruises and other physical pains. Even when the two fought and screamed at each other, they always maintained an intense desire for each other. Talk about whiplash!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Khaton Press. 400 Pages.

The Sins of the Flesh by Kate A. Knight

The Sins of the Flesh by Kate A. Knight

In this second installment of the Sins Trilogy, we find Amy finally starting to open up about her troubled past to her husband Todd. These moments of confession are even more disturbing than we could have anticipated.

What’s it About?

Amy Koehler is among the best the Intelligence community has to offer… exactly as her father intended her to be. Today, she is the closest anyone has ever come to solving the mystery of her parents’ assassination. It doesn’t hurt either that she has recruited Todd Birch as her cover. He’s a charismatic diplomat whose smile could charm the panties off a saint, and Amy is counting on just those winning ways to secure her place at the top, where her parents’ murderers are hiding.

Falling for her mark could be the worst thing Amy has ever done, which is a tall order, because she has done some really bad things in her life. But that shouldn’t be a problem… right? If anyone can fix this – falling in love with a man who doesn’t love her in return – Amy can! After all, killing has always come easier than feeling, and that’s just what she’ll do when her attraction to her husband gets out of hand. Stop feeling. Kill all that lies between them. And find her parents’ murderers so she can kill them too.

First Impressions

There are a few unfortunate aspects of the first novel in this series which also managed to show up in this second book. Firstly, there are some distracting grammatical issues which can remove you from the action or intensity of a given scene. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s poignantly challenging to connect with, or even like, either of our main protagonists. The very nature of their secretive government work means they are closed off from each other, as well as from us as the audience. Amy has been building internal walls to emotionally distance herself from others ever since the death of her parents when she was a teenager. Todd seems determined to break down her walls, and teach her how to open up to and trust in someone else again. However, just because Todd is able to insert his way into her life doesn’t mean we are afforded the same luxury. We’re never really given the chance to sympathize or emotionally connect with her, primarily because she herself is unable to emotionally express herself in so many scenes. She basically gives off a robotic aura in her interactions with others, as well as within her own internal musings.

A Small Window Opens

Up until this point, the main thing we know about Amy’s past is that her parents were murdered when she was younger, and she has been devoted to uncovering the identity of their killer ever since that tragic night. This second novel provides us with more of a window into who Amy has become as an adult, mainly because Todd demands it of her. We discover that her desire for hard and excessively rough sex links back to a disturbingly violent event which occurred when she was a teenager. Following the death of her parents Amy closed herself off from everyone and didn’t feel anything anymore. However, she admits to Todd that when she was raped by a family friend the experience caused her to “wake up” and feel something for the first time since they died. Even if it made her feel anger, disgust, and humiliated, she was grateful to feel anything after living in a fog for so long. Following this experience she continually craved extremely fierce and dominant sex that might leave her with bruises, or cause her to pass out, since it would once again make her “feel” something. So yeah…I’d classify it as a dark read that I wasn’t prepared for.

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

Series: The Sins Trilogy, book 2.

Final Impressions: In a way, this whole book kind of felt like a distraction. We barely make any progress on Amy finding out who killed her parents, and the character of Anne that we met in book 1 was almost entirely absent. We see Amy focused on this other case that doesn’t really have anything to do with the big picture. The best part of the novel was the finale, as we finally see Amy trust Todd, seeing as she spent such a large portion of this book pushing him away. They even fight together during a final mission and it was an exciting glimpse of how much more entertaining they can be when they’re fighting for the same goal.

Smut Level: The sex scenes were too disturbing for me seeing how rough Amy likes it, including erotic asphyxiation, while Todd would prefer to take things more gently. Learning the background of why she enjoys it so much made it even harder to read.

Click Here: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Khaton Press. 341 Pages.

The Sins of Our Father by Kate A. Knight

I listened to this novel using the text-to-speech function on my Kindle. I figured it would be a great way to read a non-audio book while working my way through the day. Turns out, big mistake!

What’s it About? 

sins

Amy Koehler was reared to exacting standards to be a better version of her father – a senior counter-intelligence officer with the CIA, an American hero killed in his prime. He devoted his life to his country. Then his country betrayed him. A loving daughter must choose between loyalty and love… Even if she must betray her country in the pursuit of justice, Amy will finish her father’s work and avenge his death Amy.

Todd Birch is a charismatic diplomat who complements Amy’s rise to the apex of her career. Despite her best intentions he becomes more than just a means to an end. The pure, primal attraction between them can neither be tamed nor denied, and they know they could wait a lifetime and never feel the like again. But Todd is not who he claims to be. When the time comes to choose between sacrificing herself and running from the consequences of her work, will Amy finally understands what it means to love someone more than herself?

First Impressions

Amy shies away from people. She’s a methodical woman who doesn’t show a whole lot of emotion in her interactions with others. Therefore, the robotic voice of my Kindle’s text-to-speech made her seem even more mechanical than she already is. Definitely a major fault on my part. However, that still didn’t change the fact that I found it pretty hard to relate to Amy on any kind of emotional level. She works so hard to distance herself from other characters in the hopes of not being hurt herself, that I feel she also distances herself from us as the readers.

9

Todd vs. Townsend

There’s a pretty interesting/strange dynamic when it comes to Amy and her love interests. She initially set out with the intention to have an affair with the dashing Townsend, who is kind of a co-worker of hers. Unfortunately for him, he arrives late to the party where Amy intended to approach him. So along comes Todd. He swoops Amy off her feet, and the rest is history.

quantum

Only it turns out there’s a lot more history involved than any of us were aware of, including Amy. Todd and Townsend have a history of their own, as they were both involved with a woman named Mona, who met with a tragic end. There is obviously a lot more to this story that we aren’t aware of, which gets kind of frustrating at times. I did find it funny though how Todd and Townsend were basically in a pissing contest when it came to who would be able to take Amy home for the evening. Seriously boys, just whip ’em out and measure already.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!

choking

The sex presented in this novel was out of my personal comfort zone, but to each his/her own! Amy likes it rough, including being choked by her lover. Todd is hesitant at first, but let’s just say he quickly gets into it. I guess as long as both partners are comfortable with it, that’s the most important thing? Unfortunately, things start to take a darker and more violent turn.

Things escalate rather quickly with their sexual relationship in way that was pretty concerning. Choking turns into slapping, and Amy gets visible bruises following their amorous activities. When she runs into Townsend with her visible marks, he is obviously concerned. The fact that she is so tight-lipped about anything relating to herself makes him even more worried. I’m not sure if we were supposed to side with Amy in this scenario, but I could definitely see where Townsend was coming from in thinking that some abuse was going on.

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

Series: The Sins Trilogy, book 1.

Should you read it? The sex scenes were too rough for my taste. In addition, I felt like there were too many stories happening at the same time. We have a love triangle, drug smuggler, the murder of Amy’s parents, and a few other story lines that are mainly build-up for the next novel.

Smut Level: And you thought Fifty Shades was rough?!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Khaton Enterprises LLC. 396 Pages.

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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