Headed to the Beach!

Well ladies and gents it’s that time of year once again where I need to get the hell out of dodge, and head to the sun and surf of the beach. Not gonna lie, I am in absolute desperate need of a vacation! I’m headed to Florida for a whole week, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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It’s simply been too long since I’ve had a proper beach holiday, and by God I’m planning on enjoying every second of it. My Kindle is loaded, my audiobooks queued up, and my work email is ready to be ignored. Oh, I also plan on consuming more seafood and delectable desserts than any human probably should in a given week.

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But don’t worry, I didn’t forget about all of you! I have some reviews all lined up and ready to post in my absence. Enjoy!

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Tank by Erin Bevan 

Who knew a man built like a tank could have such a soft and loving personality?

What’s it About? 

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Tyler Wilde moves to Black Widow, Texas, to join the Blue Guardians, a local biker club that helps abused women and children. He’s intent on starting his life over, but a small piece of his past collides with his present when he runs into the local waitress, Annie Carter. Annie’s the girl of his boyhood dreams, and Tyler can’t wait to get reacquainted with her. Only problem is, Annie’s engaged. But what has Tyler more troubled than the diamond on her finger is the bruise that graces her arm. To make matters worse, Annie’s abuser and intended husband is also the town’s Chief of Police. Tyler is determined to offer Annie a safe haven, but she refuses his help until her life is hanging by a thread.

First Impressions

This is a phenomenal read that takes a close and haunting look at surviving abuse, and how troubled pasts can sometimes mold people into loving and caring adults. Now, normally I’m not a huge fan of biker romances. They usually deal with ultra possessive male leads, and biker groups with questionable morals. This romance presents the complete opposite on both accounts. In Tyler “Tank” Wilde we see a tough man of muscle on the outside, but when it comes to the woman of his dreams he’s adorably shy and unbelievably caring. As for the biker group he’s trying to join, they help save and look after abused women and children. How can you not help but fall in love with these characters?

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Survivors and Superheros

Tank and Annie are both survivors of abuse. Tank experienced it as a child at the hands of his father. This has since influenced him to want to try and save others from ever having to suffer what he went through as a child. He’s literally a real-life, modern-day superhero. And he is set on saving Annie.

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Annie is being abused by her fiancé, and before Tank comes into her life she sees no escape. Eventually Annie reaches her breaking point, and realizes she must either leave now, or risk dying at the hands of an abusive monster. She turns to Tank for help, and before long they start to realize they have deep feelings for each other which will come to the surface sooner rather than later.

Rebound or Real Love? 

At first, I wondered if Tank and Annie’s inevitable romance would come off as some kind of rebound for Annie, as though she’s just falling for her savior out of a sense of duty. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. They have a deep connection which actually extends back to when they were children. Both had secret crushes on the other during one summer they lived next to each other, and they both see this twist of fate which brought them together again as a way to finally explore their feelings. This time, they won’t let the opportunity pass them by.

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Male Point of View

While we do see parts of the story alternating between both Tank and Annie’s points of view, I felt like this was really Tank’s story. And oh my goodness was it incredible. I’ve always found it’s pretty hit or miss for me when it comes to a male-dominated point of view, but this telling was quite superb. He’s a noble character in every sense of the word, and you really see how much he cares for Annie as a person. One of my favorite quotes of the novel was, “She was his. Not by possession, but through desire.” And that’s what I loved so much about Tank. For him, Annie is his everything, yet he never treats her like an object. His love for her is pure an passionate.

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Growth of a Character

Another aspect of the novel I truly appreciated was in the growth of Annie’s character. At the start of the novel, we see her stuck in an abusive relationship with apparently no way or will to get out. However, once her fiancé draws a gun on her she realizes she has to run or die. She runs to Tank, and we see how she has some initial inherent and deep-rooted fears of setting him off, as though he’ll treat her like her fiancé did. This is particularly evident during their first morning together, where she’s seemingly terrified at the possibility of sitting in Tank’s spot at the kitchen counter.

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However, as the two spend more time together Annie starts to come out of her shell, and turns back into the woman she once was. She realizes that she doesn’t want to hide away anymore, living in constant fear of her fiancé. Annie chooses to stand up and start living life again. Through Tank she is able to start out on that path, yet in the end she is able to choose happiness for herself, without being solely reliant on Tank for guidance. He provided her with a place to turn to in order to escape this abusive scenario, but she was the one who ultimately made the decision to leave. She was never a damsel in distress who couldn’t take care of herself. I found that to be truly admirable.

The Portrait of a Villain

Now, a proper review of this novel would not be complete without exploring our villain, Annie’s fiancé, Duke. It is here where I feel the author specifically excelled at painting the horrifying portrait of an abuser. It was truly eerie to see how Duke was able to use his charm to not only sway Annie into his clutches in the first place, but then also woo the townsfolk to such a degree that Annie felt nobody would believe her if she revealed his abusive nature.

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On top of this, it was frightening to see how Duke was actually far from stupid. He was shockingly methodical in the various traps he set to discover Annie’s location after she ran away from him. Like a hunter seeking his prey. We also see part of the story from his point of view, and it’s disturbing how he tries to justify his abuse of Annie to himself. An unbelievably realistic view at abusive relationships.

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

Series: Black and Blue, book 1. I’ll be continuing with this series, for sure.

Should you read it? A beautifully heartfelt read that draws you in right from the beginning. It takes a look at the complexities of abuse, and how it’s possible to achieve happiness after surviving a difficult past. While both Annie and Tank wish they never would have had to endure such atrocities, they also realize that while they can’t change their pasts, it shaped who they are today. All they can do is try to live their lives to the fullest, and look forward to a future together.

Smut Level: It’s amusing how often these two are interrupted from exploring their physical desires. They don’t take things to the next level until a bit later in the book, but I appreciated this as it didn’t make their relationship seem too forced or rushed.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 279 Pages.

A Taming Season by Claire Gem

This stunning romance takes place at a calming lakeside summer town in upstate New York. Bright sunshine, cool breezes off the lake, and a gorgeous man with a sexy, deep baritone. Sounds like my kind of place.

What’s it About?

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Manhattan domestic violence counselor Zoe Anderson is going on the most important vacation of her life. Before she can move on, help other women, Zoe needs to heal herself. Her Cinderella life shattered three years ago one fateful night, leaving her a young widow, scarred inside and out. In an attempt to reclaim her life, bury her demons, and save her job, Zoe sets out for picturesque Lake George to claim the treasured family cottage she recently inherited. The place where she found happiness—before. Reboot, restore to an earlier time. What she finds is a rundown shack.

The neighboring resort mogul, Jason Rolland, whisks in to her rescue, insisting Zoe stay at his upscale Lakeview Lodge. The wealthy, handsome, star of his own radio show, Jason’s Lair, he’s a terminal bachelor. But Jason figures he might use the gifts God gave him to convince the sexy redheaded stranger to give up the crumbling eye-sore next door. A challenge he’s definitely up for. He’s been trying to buy the cabin—and demolish it—for years: the last reminder of his own tragic, childhood memories.

Zoe can’t deny her attraction to the tall, dark-haired Jason with his pool-water blue eyes. Definitely fling material—if she can just get past those flashbacks from the night everything changed. And the knowledge that when it comes to happy-ever-after, you usually don’t get a second chance. Hardly possible with the Tiger of Jason’s Lair. What Jason doesn’t figure on is Zoe’s charms melting his emotional armor. But with his reputation, can he ever win her heart? Can a tiger really change his stripes? Or will their pasts come back to bite them both?

First Impressions

Good God I can’t tell you how many times this novel reminded me that I am in desperate need of my own solo, lakeside, mountainous vacation. I also wouldn’t mind some accompaniment from the gorgeous Jason either! Despite the serene backdrop, this novel isn’t exactly a calming read with no drama. Zoe is looking for a place where she can unwind and perhaps remember a time before her life was turned upside-down. But when she arrives in Lake George to discover the cottage she inherited is in a shambles, and the sexy real-estate mogul next door wants to demolish the eye-sore, her relaxing getaway just got a lot more complicated. Throw in some steamy sex with said real-estate mogul, and well, you’ve got yourself a complicated little romance.

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An Admirable Lead

The first thing that draws you into this novel is Zoe. She might appear broken, what with a jagged scar running down her face, not to mention her frequent panic attacks. That being said, you can’t deny her strength. She’s not willing to give up, and will try any crazy scheme to try and get her life back on track, even if it means engaging in a summer fling with no feelings involved. Something completely out of character for her, but she won’t shy away from a challenge.

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Personally I maybe would have liked if Zoe really got into fixing up her family cottage. It could have been an intense form of therapy! Her lazy days of sunbathing and romance novel reading were probably more realistic in what she needed (not to mention something I would have done myself!), but it did kind of drag the story at times. Especially as Jason did business in Albany four days of the week. In a way, they had a summer fling reserved for weekends.

A Fling, or Something More?

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The second thing which totally mesmerized me in this novel was the development of Zoe and Jason’s relationship, as the two had such differing views on what this fling meant. For Zoe, that’s all she wants. A fling. Something purely physical. Upon meeting Jason it’s the first time since her husband’s death that her lady bits have started to pay attention, but she’s not ready for anything serious. She needs to focus on healing herself first. Jason seems like the perfect ladies man playboy to fulfill her needs.

On the surface, Jason is just that, the ladies man always up for a good time. However, he’s starting to tire of that lifestyle. He starts to wonder if perhaps he wants something more. When Zoe comes along, she is the first woman who’s ever made him consider possibly pursuing a serious relationship. He decides to give it his all. But what will happen when Zoe thinks Jason’s attentions are all part of his game, or when their conflicting opinions of what this really means comes to the forefront?

Look to the Seasons

Something else I found rather interesting about this novel was the apparent symbolism of the seasons, and how they correspond to Zoe and Jason’s relationship. As summer progresses, their relationship definitely starts to heat up, but as summer comes to a close we all just know the story is building for something to go wrong.

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Don’t even get me started on fall and winter. Cheese and monkeys it’s downright depressing as our leads break off communication due to a typical romance novel misunderstanding, and Zoe returns to New York. It’s a dark and dreary part of the story, and you can’t help but wonder if perhaps the New Year can bring our lovebirds back together, or if their summer fling will remain a distant memory.

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

Series: Love at Lake George, book 1. I’d be interested to see what might come next. A tale involving Jason’s sister would intrigue me.

Should you read it? I was loving the summer fling moments. The winter depression kind of got me down, especially as those close to Jason never relayed to Zoe how completely lost he was without her. Or even stressed the fact that his interactions with her were different than those with his former flames. Definitely an intriguing tale though about taking a chance on love.

Smut Level: Sexy lingerie, romantic tumbles in the shadows of the lawn, and one very eager playboy.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Erato Publishing. 340 Pages

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Beautiful by Christina Lauren

Going on a wine tour road trip with good friends, and a hottie tottie to roll around in the sheets with all night long? Yeah, um, where exactly do I sign up for one of those?

What’s it About?

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After walking in on her boyfriend shagging another girl in their place, Pippa Bay Cox ditches London for the States to go on a drunken road trip with Ruby Miller and some of her Beautiful friends.

Scaling the career ladder is the default way to deal with heartbreak—and to just deal—for Jensen Bergstrom. Absolutely buried by his drive and workload, he rarely takes time for himself. But when his sister Hanna convinces him to join the gang on a two-week wine tour, he has a rare moment of cutting loose. Of course, it’s only once he’s committed that he realizes the strange girl he met briefly on the plane is coming along, too. She might be too much for him…or he might realize his life has become too small and needs her to make it bigger, crazier.

With this circle of friends there’s always something going on: from Chloe and Sara’s unexpected personality swaps to Will’s new domestic side to Bennett’s text message barrage and George’s own happily-ever-after. In short, their adventures in love, friendship, and hilarity are nothing short of Beautiful.

First Impressions

At first, the idea of playing fifth wheel to a bunch of couples going on a romantic wine tour seems like it would kind of suck. Especially considering there’s only one other single person going along, and our main female lead sort of made a huge fool of herself in front of him on an eight hour plane ride across the ocean by getting drunk and lamenting over a recent breakup. However, Jensen is a handsome muscled man in desperate need of a vacation, and Pippa is more than willing to help him relax. During the day anyway. At night? They engage in some intense workout sessions.

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Opposites Attract

Pippa and Jensen are total opposites. She’s colorful, carefree and not afraid to speak her mind. Jensen is a straight-laced, button-up workaholic, and he really needs someone like Pippa to help him open up. We’re all familiar with the phrase “opposites attract”, and in this novel it’s definitely true in the physical sense. And although Pippa helps Jensen relax during their two week road trip, I’m not sure that was long enough for Jensen to have a real impact on Pippa. In addition, Jensen sort of reverts to his old ways once the trip is over. I’d like to think they’ll be forever, but in the same vein their time together was so short, and they were both sort of acting as rebounds for the other. Sure, it’s fiction, but I can’t say I’m totally convinced it would last.

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Friends, Old and New

I must say I absolutely loved Pippa’s live and let live attitude. Jealous of it really! The bravery to make a fool of yourself in front of others, sing terrible karaoke at the top of one’s lungs, yet still be able to brush it off and move on? Inspirational! You can tell Jensen has trouble at first dealing with someone like her, but after a while it comes to be something he loves most about her.

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Although I can’t say this couple was my favorite ever in the Beautiful Bastard series, I can’t begin to describe my utter delight at the fact that we get to see all of the couples from the previous novels come together for this final book. Add in the beauty that each one gets their own happily ever after epilogue, including George, and I’m practically bouncing with glee. That being said, considering this is also the last novel in the Beautiful series, and I’m on the verge of tears here! I might just have to start re-reading this series from the start!

Series: Beautiful Bastard, book 5.

Should you read it? An unbelievably sexy series. Not my fav book in the series, or my fav couple for that matter, but it’s a good read overall. It’s about taking chances, doing things outside your comfort zone, yet still remaining true to who you are.

Smut Level: Considering all that this series is, I was kind of hoping for more in terms of smut. I sort of feel like Jensen has a secret naughty side to him, but unfortunately we don’t really get to see it all come out to play.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $7.99 Kindle Price. Gallery Books. 416 Pages.

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Tall, Tatted and Tempting by Tammy Falkner

You just gotta love a novel that starts out with the male lead having to rearrange his junk because of a massive hard-on. Literally nowhere to go from there but up. And yes, pun absolutely intended.

What’s it About?

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She’s locked up tight. But he might be the key. Logan Reed is tall, tatted and tempting. Kit’s a woman with a mean right hook and a secret. Kit wants a tattoo, but Logan sees more than she intends to share in the drawing of the tat she wants. He sees her in ways no one ever has. Logan’s not disabled; but he hasn’t spoken in eight years. He hasn’t needed to. Until he meets Kit. Logan doesn’t know everything about Kit. Kit doesn’t know anything about herself, until she has to sacrifice all she ever wanted to save what’s most important to him.

First Impressions

In spite of the rather unorthodox start to this novel, it really does draw you in with some unlikely characters who fall for each other. One is a deaf tattoo artist living with his many brothers. The other is a young girl living on the streets, playing her guitar to survive. He hasn’t spoken to anyone in years, yet when it comes to the mysterious Emily, he’s willing to let the words flow if it means spending more time with her. This novel also has a powerful ending as characters sacrifice their own happiness for others, and ends on a slight cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more. As for that big middle part of the novel? That’s where I was left feeling less than impressed.

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Putting Up with Secrets

Emily is hiding something big from Logan. Something important. Her very identity. Logan quickly realizes that Emily isn’t sharing everything with him, including her real name. Yet he is so enamored of her that he puts up with her secrets if it means she won’t run away from him and return to a life on the streets. Personally, I found her continual secrets and hiding the details of her past to be rather annoying. In addition, it made a large majority of the plot seem to be slow moving and kind of boring.

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Normally with books like this I feel as though we as the audience are privy to the secret details of the characters even if others aren’t aware of them. However, when it comes to this book, by keeping us in the dark as well for so long the story just sort of dragged on. Also, the fact that Logan was so open about his own past and family troubles, yet Emily remained close lipped made it kind of hard to like her at times.

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Series: The Reed Brothers, book 1. I’ll continue with this series. Can’t wait to get to the books featuring Logan’s many brothers.

Should you read it? There’s one main reason I’ll continue with this series, and that would be Logan. He got off to a rough start in this novel, yet he quickly redeemed himself as a sweet character with a penchant for sex. Unfortunately, Emily wasn’t my fav. Hopefully things will improve in the next book, as details of her true identity are now known to all.

Smut Level: The problem living with 4 brothers? Finding privacy to woo your girl. Guess the bathroom sink will have to do!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE. Night Shift Publishing. 201 Pages.

Worth the Fight by Vi Keeland

The button-up lawyer falls for the ripped MMA fighter. A girl has to fall for a bad boy at least once in her life. It’s sort of an unwritten rule after all.

What’s it About?

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It didn’t matter that the ref called it a clean hit. Nico Hunter would never be the same. Elle has a good life. A job she loves, a great apartment, and the guy she’s been dating for more than two years is a catch and a half. But it’s boring…and she strives to keep it that way. Too many emotions are dangerous. Her own past is living proof of what can happen when you lose control. Then Nico walks into Elle’s office and everything changes…for both of them. But what can the tattooed, hard-bodied MMA fighter and the beautiful and always steady attorney have in common? A lot more than they bargained for.

First Impressions

When this novel starts, you think you’ve got it all figured out. Goody two shoes chica falling for the tough fighter. The beauty of this novel though is that she’s not exactly America’s sweetheart with a warm and fuzzy upbringing, and he’s not the hard-ass you would expect him to be. They both have troubled pasts which help them connect with each other on a deeper level. His sordid past is well-known, as he tragically killed another fighter in the ring in a terrible accident. Elle’s misfortune is something she wishes to keep well under wraps, assuming Nico will think less of her if it ever becomes comes to light. Little do they know that it’s only when they both  open up that they can become strong and move towards a future together.

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Falling for the Fighter

This novel is all kinds of sexy. When Elle and Nico first meet, she is actually dating another man. But upon first meeting Elle quickly discovers what has been missing in her currently stagnant and boring relationship. Passion. Lust. Raw sexual magnetism. Oh my! It doesn’t take long for these two to put some burn marks on the sheets, but don’t you worry, she breaks things off with her former boyfriend before pursuing anything physical with Nico.

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Series: MMA fighter, book 1.

Should you read it? This book is unlike your typical fighter romance. Not only does the male lead have a sweet side in addition to the usual alpha male possessiveness, but he’s not involved with anything or anyone illegal. It seems like we always have some kind of underground circuit of shady dealings and characters in these types of novels, but in this instance we just have a troubled man and woman trying to move on from their pasts. Rather touching at times.

Smut Level: Testosterone overload needs to be worked off somehow!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 376 Pages.

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Owned by the Dom: Parts 1 & 2 by Sam Crescent

The only way I would ever refer to my man as “Master” would be if he called me “Empress”. I might let him get away with “Czarina”, but he better be one pretty good cook on top of everything else.

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James Castleden has had enough of the press surrounding him and his club. Ravage is his place to let loose. He is possessive and dominant. When the younger sister of the woman he used to date walks into his club, James is not ready for the instant attraction he feels toward her.

Prudence Star fell in love with James seven years ago. She is no shy virgin and knows what he is. James does not scare her. She’s read the reports about his association with club Possession and she craves what only he can give. When their flirting deepens, James cannot stop the craving inside him to own, to claim, and to take Prudence as his woman.

But Possession and Ravage are under serious threat. Dominic and Eugene were just the beginning. There is nowhere to hide and no way to keep his woman safe. The Owners have no idea who they’re really dealing with.

First Impressions

I’m sorry to say that I have officially decided to stop reading this series. I initially went in with the impression that part 2 was the last book of The Owners story line, but shockingly enough there is definitely a set up for a continuation of the series. Unfortunately, I’ve lost interest. If I had to describe these two novels in just one word it would have to be…meh. Nothing special, just like the rest of the series as a whole. But what can I say? They’re short, quick reads, and I thought I had finally reached the culmination of everything!

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Owned by the Dom: Part 1

Most of the drama in this novel felt pretty unnecessary to me. I mean, for two people who admit they’re totally into each other, they take forever to have sex. James claims Prudence is too young for him considering the age difference between them, but he won’t let others have her. Therefore, he ensures she is fired from her current job working in his club so that nobody else can lay eyes on her. His BDSM lifestyle is something he seems hesitant to introduce Prue to, yet she openly admits to him that she’s into the idea, and also has an intense desire to be possessed. So…what exactly is the hold-up here people?

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As for the rest of the drama in this novel, some of the characters from the previous novels are aware of a human trafficking scheme going on which is linked to all their BDSM clubs. However, they choose to hide the true identity of who is behind this scheme to the rest of the characters because…I honestly don’t know. At this point, you just know that sh*t is about to go down, and it’s pretty frustrating that those who know the truth didn’t think to warn everyone else about this threat.

Owned by the Dom: Part 2

This book was sort of the nail in the coffin for me, as it had both expected results, yet an unexpected path. Part 1 ended with Prue being kidnapped by the same forces which were threatening the clubs in town. SPOILER ALERT: they get her back! Surprisingly, James and his posse rescue her fairly early on in the book, and the rest of the story primarily deals with Prue pulling away from him in the aftermath.

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It’s rather understandable that after surviving a kidnapping, and the possibility of being sold into human trafficking that Prue would experience difficulties adjusting to normal life again, not to mention being intimate with James. The most ridiculous part of the novel for me though was when Prue saw a therapist to help her with her PTSD. This therapist totally does a breach of confidentiality by telling James EVERYthing she talked about in her session with Prue. Her excuse was that Prue didn’t really need therapy, so it was ok to share all the details of their sessions with James. Like…what?!

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Series: The Owners, books 3 & 4

Should you read it? Meh. By no means terrible, but not worth rushing out to read either in my humble opinion.

Smut Level: This guy is possessive and into BDSM, what do you think? At the end of Part 2 James whisks Prue away to Italy and goes all caveman with her. They proceed to have so much sex I don’t know how they have any bodily fluids left.

Get it on Amazon: Part 1, click here. Part 2, click here. $4.99 each. Evernight Publishing. 180 Pages. 235 Pages.