Fat Girl Begone! by D.E. Haggerty

A female lead with a 38E bra size, weighs 160 pounds, wears a size 16 shirt and thinks dieting suuuuucks? Well that’s the most refreshing thing I’ve ever seen.

What’s it About? 


I’m a total mess. My boyfriend dumped me – get this – because I diet too much. Not because I’m fat, mind you. Of course, this spurs me into the diet-fitness-revenge-plan of the century, which leads me to the gym and a scorching hot personal trainer. I even manage to make some cool new friends, including a millionaire if you can believe it. Things are looking up! Naturally, that’s the moment my ex decides he wants me back, the personal trainer asks me out, and my millionaire male buddy decides to throw his hat in the ring. But that’s not enough drama. No, not for me. Because I’ve also lost my job and decided to start my own business. Just call me Ms. Drama.

Warning: Bad language, bumpy roads, and embarrassing moments ahead. But there’s also more than a bit of romance and even, if we’re lucky, love. Fingers crossed. Not endorsed by or affiliated with any brand of tequila.

First Impressions

When this novel first started I had a plethora of assumptions of how the story would progress, which was influenced by not only the synopsis of the story, but also the title. I figured we’d be dealing with a slightly overweight female lead who starts a diet and gets in shape with the help of a personal trainer. She must proceed to slim down considerably which causes her to become irresistibly beautiful to said personal trainer, and they end up with a fairy tale-like happily ever after. Well, I have never been so happy to be wrong on so many different accounts in my life!


Although our female lead does proceed to get a bit more physically fit throughout the novel, the main focus is really so much more on how she gains confidence, and that is what draws men to her like a moth to a flame.  It was just so empowering to know that you don’t have to dramatically drop from a size 16 to a size 6 in order to find love. You don’t need to starve yourself, or lose all of the junk in your trunk in order for a man to think you’re beautiful. You just need to be happy with yourself, happy with your life, happy with those around you, and it’s just a matter of time before you’re happy in love. And sure, a few trips to the gym won’t hurt, but they aren’t required. Who knows though, you might also just happen to find the future love of your life waiting for you at the smoothie bar!

sexy nerd

The Dreaded Gym

Another one of the first things I assumed about this book was that it would all be about dieting, exercise, and in general making me feel guilty for baking a double chocolate chip fudge cake when I live by myself. But lo and behold this book really doesn’t lay on the guilt trip about how you should hit the gym 5 days a week, or anything like that. Instead we see how our female lead, Everly, has been having  a pretty bad week after her boyfriend of many years dumped her unexpectedly after complaining about her continually giving up on her many attempts to diet and lose weight. In a drunken blackout, she signs up for an entire year of private training sessions at her local gym and vows to get in shape so that she’ll make her ex, Josh, unbelievably jealous and beg to get her back.


Now I know what you’re thinking, why doesn’t she just say to hell with it once she sobers up from her binge night and just drown her sorrows in a vat of ice cream? Simple. Not only does Everly’s best friend kick her butt to the gym with her sexy as sin trainer, but she comes to grow an incredible support network of sassy gal pals, the aforementioned sexy trainer, and a geeky guy friend with incredible abs. I must say in addition to our lovable lead, I 100% fell in love with all of her incredible friends who try their hardest to show Everly that she’s beautiful on the inside and out. They let her know that she doesn’t need to lose 50 pounds to be beautiful, but instead encourage her to get fit to the point where she finally feels comfortable in her own skin, while also being there for her when she needs to break her diet by indulging in some tequila.


Looking Beneath the Glasses

I couldn’t help but identify with Everly’s character, from her relationship woes to her stresses at work, and especially her lack of confidence in her body image. But that’s why her support network is everything and more, especially Carter, her geeky guy friend who might just be on the verge of becoming something more. These two are the epitome of relationship goals, and are so freakin’ adorable you can’t help but fall in love. At the start we just assume that Everly is the one lacking confidence in their relationship, for Carter is ripped with sexy abs, not to mention a millionaire.


What could a guy like him ever see in a girl like her? But although Carter seems like the perfect male, we see that he too lacks confidence, and holds Everly up on a pedestal where he also wonders what she could ever see in him. Awwww, swoon worthy. Lastly, he’s unbelievably supportive of her goals to lose weight, yet continually lets her know that she’s beautiful just the way she is, and her continuing diet is totally up to her rather than something she should feel pressure to maintain. Mkay, Everly girl I love ya, but not gonna lie I might need to kick your ass to steal Carter for myself.


A Tequila or Two

One feature of the novel that I must admit I wasn’t a huge fan of was Everly’s propensity to get blackout drunk to the point where she couldn’t remember crazy antics from the night before. It sort of indicates her inability to know her own limits, as well as highlight a concern that when unable to deal with the pressures of life with food she instead turns to alcohol as a crutch. However, this was never really addressed as a concern in the novel, but instead was almost featured as a comedic character trait. And I will admit, Everly did get into some pretty funny hi-jinks while intoxicated.


Personally I thought it was kind of disappointing we could never really experience those moments as they happened though. Instead we get the short abbreviated version the next morning from one of her friends who happened to witness it all since Everly herself couldn’t remember. I think it would have made the story all the more enjoyable if Everly had just gotten a bit tipsy which made her loosen up rather than drinking to the point where she couldn’t remember anything. Just goes to show that when you limit your calorie intake, getting drunk happens a bit more quickly than you might be used to!


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

Series: I think this is just a stand-alone, but I think it would be hilarious if we could either get a series, or maybe just one novel of short stories featuring the romantic exploits of Everly’s hilarious gal pals from her Zumba class. They were a riot!

Should you read it? This is definitely a fun and comedic read all about being happy and confident with yourself. Whether that entails losing weight, trying new things, dating someone new, or venturing out for a new job opportunity, this book highlights that sometimes it’s worth taking the risk. You might be terrified at first, but as long as you give it a solid effort, and maybe have a few close friends who have your back, you can do anything. A cute beach read that’ll make you giggle, and empathize with someone who hates dieting and going to the gym just as much as you do.

Smut Level: We have flirtations galore, but no detailed sex scenes in this one. We just get one brief build up to sex at the very end of the novel.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.49 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 208 Pages.


Love Me Only by Hebby Roman

From the elegant ballrooms of Mexico City, to the mosquito-filled swamps of the jungle, this novel takes us on an adventure to discover the wild unknowns in Mexico’s mountains.

What’s it About? 


A stranger in a strange land, her father murdered, Diana McFarland must protect her father’s secret formula, the only legacy she has. One thing stands in her way–darkly handsome Seguin Torres, a man who wants the formula for himself. For Seguin, the formula is a way to avenge himself against the man who stole his birthright, but convincing Diana to part with it will prove almost as difficult as resisting his attraction to her. Betrayed by his family, Seguin doesn’t believe in love and marriage. As Mexico erupts into civil war, Seguin is honor-bound to protect Diana from his unscrupulous stepfather and the ravages of war. But their flight across the war-torn countryside is fraught with danger, as well as the challenge of their growing passion. Can Seguin get Diana to safety and let her go, or will their love overcome all the dangers and change Seguin’s heart?

First Impression

Arriving in a new city where you don’t really speak the language can be a challenge. Arriving in that city to discover that your father has been murdered, and that his scarred killer is still on the loose with some unsavory stalkerish tendencies? Ummmm yeah where the hell can I book the fastest train outta here? Let’s make it snappy people!! Thankfully for everyone, our heroine proves to be braver than I, as she sticks around in Mexico to try and discover what happened to her father. This is when the devilishly handsome former business partner of her father comes into play. Can she trust this man who seems dedicated to protecting her? Or did he have a hand in killing her father to get at his secret silver mining formula? Such intrigue. This historical drama definitely draws you in from the get-go, as we see Diana navigate through this new world which can be lavish yet harsh at the same time. The fact she’s a woman in a man’s world makes her all the braver. By the end of the novel though, we find ourselves venturing into a completely different and uncharted territory. Quite literally.



Murder and Mining Mayhem

Looking at this book as a whole, it almost seems to be two separate books thrown into one. In the first half, we see the immediate repercussions and mystery surrounding the murder of Diana’s father, as well as her attempts to stand up for herself and her mother in the face of the dashing Seguin. He’s intent on purchasing her father’s silver mining formula, and after a series of unfortunate circumstances Diana is the only one who knows her father’s formula by memory. I must say I absolutely adored the scenes where we get to see Diana and Seguin go head to head over the formula. They seem like equals in smarts, tenacity, and their simmering sexual attraction doesn’t hurt things too much either.

Catherine Zeta-Jones And Antonio Banderas In Romantic Mood-720x405

A Stroll Through the Mountains

I must say I did prefer the first half of the novel more than the latter half where we see Seguin, Diana, and a small group of friends wade through the unknown dangers of the jungle in an attempt to escape back to America following an outbreak of war in the city. The fact that the murderer is hot on their heels, not to mention the man who orchestrated the whole thing (Seguin’s stepfather) is also in tow makes their journey all the more desperate. Although this is the part of the novel where Diana and Seguin give in to their lustful inhibitions, it’s also where we get a lot of scenes with a lot of walking. And walking. And having sex on a sacrificial altar in an abandoned ancient city. And more walking.


It was at this point where I even had to think back and ask, wait, how did this story start again? Oh right, father’s murder. While everything does eventually come full circle at the last possible moment of the book, I couldn’t help but feel that as a whole the various story lines at play were a tad disjointed. While I don’t think the book necessarily has to be split into two separate novels completely, I think a few less jungle wandering scenes, and maybe even a distinct marker for Part 1: the City and Part 2: the Wild could have helped things. It may have better prepared the reader for the fact we were switching gears to a vastly different landscape that juxtaposes the comforts and opulence from part one. Just a thought!


Miss Independent

Another surprising feature of this novel which was divided in two was the romance. We don’t get just one love story, but two! The first is obviously between Seguin and Diana. Both try to hold off on delving deeper into their initial attraction to each other. For Diana, not only had her father just died, but she wonders if Seguin has something to do with it. Kind of understandable why she’d be hesitant to try anything more. When it comes to Seguin, well he’s basically distrustful of all women. Normally when we see this in a romance it’s because of a former failed relationship with a lover. In his case, it instead had to do with his failed relationship with his mother, which they were never able to fully mend before her death. Complicated is an understatement.

Lord John Grey Claire Fraser Outlander 312

It’s when we transition to the jungle trek that both Seguin and Diana decide they can’t keep their hands off each other anymore. While I’m always a fan of a good ole romp, I must say I preferred their earlier flirtations in the city. Early on in the novel, Diana has spunk, sass, and the cojones to stand up to Seguin. In the latter half though we see Diana become increasingly dependent on Seguin, and even takes to begging him to “love me only”. Not gonna lie, I missed her tenacity and sense of independence.


Switching Back and Forth

Our second romance is between Diana’s best friend, Sarah, and Seguin’s half-brother, Gilberto. This had more of the feeling of a classic historical romance. They fall quickly for each other after dancing at a ball, and he must prove that he only has eyes for Sarah. Even if it seems every other woman in the city has eyes for him. It’s practically swoon worthy! But here was my problem with it. I can’t say it was entirely necessary. At least, it could have been incorporated more methodically into the story. When the novel starts we are so enraptured with what might develop between Diana and Seguin, but when Diana is forced to bed rest following a rib injury, we suddenly switch gears completely to focusing on Sarah and Gilberto instead. Our other couple essentially disappears from the story completely to the point where I wondered if we’d even see a conclusion to their tale.


When we do eventually switch focus back to Seguin and Diana’s relationship, then we see our other couple get pushed to the background. It’s almost like they couldn’t completely coexist, though I will say the love story between Sarah and Gilberto does have implications on all of our characters, and the progression of the story. However, I think I almost would have preferred if maybe the focus had instead been more on Diana and Seguin, as well as our half-brothers trying to mend their troubled relationship. Then at the end we could have had an insinuation that Sarah and Gilberto were googly eyes for each other. It may have helped to create a more cohesive story, rather than having two love stories taking place in one book.


An Enchanting Landscape

There were two aspects of this novel which completely fascinated me. The first dealt with the historical aspect. This is definitely the first romance novel I’ve ever read which has focused on this time period in history, and it definitely caught my interest. The main reason being, I had zero idea what really came to pass during that time in Mexico’s history, so I had no idea how the historical events could possibly impact the rest of the story. It wasn’t like reading a romance set during the Civil War or WWII, where I know the standard start and end dates, as well as the general progression of the battle timeline. In this case though? It was a total learning process, and one that I’d love to research more fully. Personally I blame my high school’s lack of world history courses. I remember there was only one Global History course offered during my entire high school career, and it conflicted with my French class. Sooooo, yeah, I need to brush up on my history of Mexico.


The other feature of the novel which was described to perfection was the landscape. I could practically taste the champagne of the royal ball, feel the itch of the mosquitoes from the swamp, and feel the exhaustion of climbing through the countryside. It’s easy to get lost in the description of each scene, as you can picture the beauty and harsher aspects of the setting. Hell, when Diana and Seguin come across an abandoned city in the midst of the jungle you can practically feel the cold stone of the sacrificial altar digging into your back when Seguin worships Diana’s body in the physical sense. Oh my, definitely need to fan myself off here a moment.



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

Series: Stand-Alone

Should you read it? While I did prefer the first half of the novel, everything does come together for an exciting climax. The historical period of the book was fascinating, and I’m simply intrigued to learn more. Although I’m definitely a fan of romance, I think I would have preferred one less romantic story line here so that more of a focus was on Diana and Seguin. As it stands, there was almost a conflict of sorts in the middle of the book for who the main characters actually are. Replacing that second romance with a focus on Gilberto and Seguin fixing their strained relationship is something I might have preferred to see.

Smut Level: Sarah and Gilberto have a few passionate kisses, and an eventual quick love scene in a thatched hut. Diana and Seguin definitely heat things up a bit, with a descriptive make-out scene in a mining vault, and even a rough coupling on a sacrificial altar. Proving once and for all that even historical romances can have a slightly raunchy side.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Estrella Publishing. 353 Pages.

Escape from Behruz by Judy Meadows

Rashid will do anything to get the love of his life out of a country about to be ripped apart by rebellion. Little does he know he’s also rescuing his son in the process. And a widdle baby Lhasa Apso puppy!

What’s it About?


Rashid will help Olivia and the baby she’s been caring for escape the violence in Behruz, but he must guard his heart. He can’t risk being hurt by her again. Olivia has her own reasons for keeping her distance from Rashid. If he learns that the baby is actually hers—and his—she will lose everything that matters to her. Their escape involves traveling with nomads across the mountains into Iran. As they trek together by day and sleep beside each other in a nomad tent at night, the attraction that has always drawn them to each other grows ever stronger. Can Olivia survive the trip without revealing her secrets and without losing her heart to Rashid once again?

First Impressions

When Rashid first arrives on the scene to rescue Olivia she is quite hesitant to go with him. After all, this is the man who deserted her two years before to supposedly marry another woman. Her brother-in-law, Abu-Khan, is also insistent that the growing tension in the country will soon be squandered, and rebellion is not a risk, so why leave? Now, I will admit it was kind of easy to see Olivia as…well…exceedingly naive. She seems to be placing more trust in a despot ruler who once tried to take advantage of her rather than the former love of her life. Not to mention the fact that more and more of her American newspapers aren’t being delivered. Maybe the political situation in the country is more distraught than he’d have you believe? However, with time we come to understand the extreme pressure Olivia was under following Rashid’s departure years before.


He left her pregnant (unbeknownst to him), with no word of how to get in touch with him, and it was during this depressing time that Olivia’s sister and brother-in-law convince her to allow them to adopt her son, Jamal, after he’s born. Following her sister’s untimely death, Olivia is left alone with no one but her son, and even then she must pretend as though he’s her nephew. It’s a dynamic web of emotion! Love, betrayal, anger. When Rashid returns and vows to get Olivia and Jamal out of the country by any means necessary, we see how her decision to follow Rashid denotes a level of trust that she could only place in the greatest love of her life. But why did he leave years before? How will he react to discovering Jamal is actually his son? Will they all make it to the border in one piece? And how will they manage to share one tent when all of the lust and passion they’ve suppressed the past two years comes bubbling up to the surface? Should make for an interesting road trip!


A Son in the Shadows and a Missing Villain

There are two characters in this novel who were underutilized. The first is Jamal. I think the main issue here was his age in that he’s only two years old. While he was still an unbelievably adorable child, his young age and lack of speaking ability means that we never get to hear his side of the story upon discovering the true identity of his father. Instead, this emotional connection between father and son is one-sided, as we only get to see Rashid’s opinion on the matter. In addition, Jamal is not really present for a majority of the story. While he is always in the same vicinity as Rashid and Olivia, he’s often passed off to be looked after by one of their nomad friends. I could definitely see the plus side in this as it gives mommy and daddy some sexy alone time, but I just would have liked to see a bit more incorporation of Jamal’s character into the family unit.


Another character who I would have liked to see a bit more from was Abu-Khan. In the beginning, he is presented as our overarching villain. A ruthless and heartless man who has his eyes set on making Olivia his. The threat of his reach is still felt as they all flee into the mountains. Throughout the novel I kept waiting for Abu-Khan to somehow make a reappearance. Perhaps his soldiers will discover them, or he’ll be slyly waiting for them at the border with an evil grin on his face. Turns out…not so much. The final drama doesn’t come about until the last 10% of the novel, and even then unfortunately we aren’t privy to the final standoff between Rashid and Abu-Khan. It all happens “off-screen”, and is seemingly resolved quickly without much issue. It’s almost like there was an attempt to humanize Abu-Khan’s character at the end. I guess I would have preferred to see him go full villain, or for us to at least witness a sensitive side to his personality. As it stands, his character felt too disjointed.


A Beautiful Landscape of People

Two aspects of this novel were above and beyond fantabulous, and those would be the scenery and the people. Firstly, the description of the landscape was indescribably beautiful. You can practically picture the sweeping beauty of the mountains. The second standout feature I really enjoyed was the people who helped our family make their escape. They represent the epitome of kindness, friendship and hospitality. We are provided a glimpse of a nomadic culture that is fascinating to discover, and I wish I could have learned even more. It would have been incredible if we’d had a few panoramic photos of both the landscape, as well as the outfits and living spaces of the people who inhabit this seemingly majestic environment. Look at me, I’m almost 30 and here I am still hoping for pretty pictures in my books. Oh well, nothing a simple Google search can’t fix!


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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? This novel presents us with a troubled country on the brink of rebellion, but the main focus is on Rashid and Olivia rekindling their love for each other. While the description of the mountainous landscape is top notch, I would have liked to see more depth to the dialogue, as well as more attention on the background between Rashid and Olivia. Their love affair years before, in addition to their long-standing friendship, was somewhat glossed over. I think if we had been give more info on how they first met, became friends and fell in love, it could have made their eventual split and reunion all the more emotional. I also would have preferred to see more incorporation of their son into the tale.

Smut Level: This couple has two years of missed moments to make up for, and they want to take advantage of it all. From a small river make out to sharing a sleeping bag on more than one occasion, they are rediscovering each other all over the place. Not an excessive amount of erotic detail though.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 208 Pages.

Under a Scottish Sky by Pamela Q. Fernandes

While searching for stars in the Scottish sky, Michelle manages to find love underneath them.

What’s it About? 36239163

Seeking stars, finding love! Michelle Reyes is a strong, guilt-ridden woman. Traveling as a nurse from her home in Manila to Scotland to see the stars, she meets Adrian, the son of her patient. She sees Adrian as arrogant, unforgiving and cruel. But is Adrian more than he appears to be?

First Impressions

I think I’ve said it before. If not, well I guess I better mention it here. Short novels are a tricky business. Their short length are so unique that they can allow you to skip over superfluous details, and get right down to business. They can also give a slight introduction or continuation of a story from a full-length novel that sort of teases you for something more. More often than naught however, I think short novels can act as a trap when what should probably be a full story instead crammed into something much shorter. Unfortunately, I think this story falls into the latter category. Overall, it was an intriguing story which captured my interest, and was filled with troubled yet relate-able characters. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the romance aspect of the tale between Michelle and Adrian felt somewhat rushed. In the end, I was left wanting more.


A Few More Pages Needed

Personally, I felt this was the type of story that really would have benefited from a longer page length. There’s just a lot going on! In addition to the obvious budding feelings of love between Michelle and Adrian, we also have her acting as a nurse and caretaker to his stroke-impacted mother (probably my fav story line), Adrian dealing with his own troubled relationship with his mom and deceased father, as well as an interesting dynamic involving Adrian’s former friend, ex-girlfriend and Michelle. Not to mention Michelle’s work visa issues to remain in Scotland after moving from the Philippines, and her own quest to find peace following the death of her parents years before. And last but not least, the attempt to see the stars hidden in the mist of Scotland’s grey and cloudy skies. All in 81 pages! Phew, kind of exhausting.


A Whirlwind Romance

So you can definitely see how there were plenty of plot points on hand to fill an entire novel. That being said, if we have to work within the parameters of a short novel, there is one more thing I would have wanted, which was just one more scene between Adrian and Michelle to focus on the dynamic of their evolving relationship. They seemingly moved rather quickly from acquaintances to crushes to feelings of actual love. We were really only offered one detailed scene which highlighted their connection on an emotional level, and that was when Michelle explained the tragic reasoning behind her desperate search to find stars in the night sky.


This moment offered us one of the most endearing and enchanting scenes of the novel. However, I think the overall story would have been strengthened significantly from one additional scene where we could have seen the vulnerable side of Adrian. Instead, we have brief mentions of how they “chatted” or “spent time together”, but delving deeper into one of those particular moments could have made their relationship seem slightly more plausible. Again, all the pieces were there for something spectacular, but the details needed to be more fully fleshed out.

The Brightest Star

There was one character in this tale who I think was provided with the most development in terms of her story arch, and that would be Adrian’s mother. From her first scene you can’t help but fall in love with her kindness. She’s struggling to survive following her stroke, as well as deal with the fact her son resents her, but she manages to take things all in stride. Michelle also has the ability to bring out the best in her, not to mention help her find joy in the things she used to love about life. The mother’s story has a definite arch, and it was an emotionally compelling and poignant part of the plot, not to mention one of the main driving forces which brought Michelle and Adrian together.


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

Series: Nope! Although I’d love to see either a continuation of this story, or perhaps even see it developed into a full-length book.

Should you read it? This short novel is a quick read which definitely draws you in, but ultimately I was left wanting more. I think the story could have benefited from maybe one more scene focusing on the development of Michelle and Adrian’s relationship. Also, certain aspects were rushed to the point where we couldn’t fully get to know our two main characters. There seemed to be so much to Adrian’s back story that could have been expanded upon. Michelle also had a number of tearful moments which could have been spread out more.

Smut Level: Some brief kisses between our two unlikely lovebirds.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 81 Pages.

As the Liquor Flows by Angela Christina Archer

Who knew that being in the wrong place so many different times could lead Evelyn to the love of her life?

What’s it About? 

as the liquor flows

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed, and the day Evelyn Ford will never forget. With the untimely death of her parents and the loss of their only income, Evelyn, and her brother, Frank flee to a make-shift hovel built in Central Park. After Frank mysteriously goes missing, bare cupboards force Evelyn to seek employment anywhere she can find work, even if that means working at a burlesque theater.

Catching the attention of Don Vincent Giovanni, a Kingpin in the New York mafia, Evelyn discovers that Frank is serving time in prison for running hooch and he owes Vincent a lot of money. In order to pay off her brother’s debt, Evelyn is thrown into the world of mobsters and bootlegging. Between running hooch all over the city of New York and trying to save her brother, Evelyn finds herself drawn to Max Catalano, Vincent’s Consigliere. Even with secrets of his own, he’s the only one she can trust when she entangles herself in the middle of the New York mafia crime wars.

First Impressions

This book was a tough one for me to put down! I mean, seriously it has everything you could possibly ask for in a romance set during the early 30s. We’ve got the ramifications and desperation of the Great Depression, prohibition, running hooch, mob bosses, burlesque theaters, and hell we even get an Al Capone mention thrown in there! And in the midst of all this chaos is Evelyn, a young woman who is just trying to survive, and save her brother at the same time. Slightly naive at times, she nevertheless learns that in order to survive in this world she must play along and go with the flow of the liquor, or risk consequences of angering the mob boss who has taken a shine to her.

Peaky Blinders

She’s not alone though in this crazy world of bootlegging, as the right-hand man of the mob kingpin, Max Catalano, has vowed to protect her at all costs. The simmering attraction between these two is electrifying, but it can never be brought to light or else risk the anger and retribution of the man in charge. As their paths continue to intertwine however, and the dangers of this world close in on our lead characters, we start to question if not only will they ever get to declare their love for each other, but if they’ll make it out in one piece. Do you see why it was so hard for me to put this book down?


Shaken Not Stirred

I think what truly draws you in from the first page is the sheer desperation of our heroine. The author successfully paints such a sad and desolate picture which encapsulates the tragedy and hopelessness of the Great Depression. Evelyn is running out of options in life, and although she has the air of a proper lady, she’s at her wits end, and decides to audition for a job in a burlesque theater. Just as she thinks her chances are completely lost of getting a job, in walks Vincent Giovanni, the kingpin of New York. At first I almost wondered if we’d see a developing love story between Evelyn and Vincent, but it’s not long before we discover the true relationship lay between Evelyn and Max. And lemme tell you, I was allllll for it.


Their immediate connection was entirely believable, and the fact they can’t really act on their feelings for each other makes this read all the more intriguing. To do so could put both of their lives in danger, not to mention Evelyn’s brother, Frank, who we discover owes a massive debt to Vincent. And this draws together the idea of being in the wrong place so many times over. By auditioning for a burlesque show Evelyn encounters Vincent, and when it’s revealed her brother owes him money she offers to bootleg on his behalf to help work off his debt. This pulls good girl Evelyn even further into this dark web from which there seems no escape. When a turf war begins between Vincent and a rival family, the stakes are raised even higher.


An Extra Shot or Two Required

Now I’ve always been a huge fan of this era of history and storytelling. I mean, Boardwalk Empire was my freakin’ jam! And while overall I really did enjoy Evelyn and Max’s story, there were a few areas where I wanted more, and they all actually revolved around the character of Mr. Vincent Giovanni. First of all, I found it remarkably unbelievable that he never tried to sexually take advantage of Evelyn. Don’t get me wrong, that would have been utterly devastating, but considering his character as a mob kingpin and how the story develops, it shocked me that sex was never really a major point he pushed with her.


When they meet in the club, he is immediately drawn to her, and it’s not long before he’s taking her back to his home to live with him, and throwing thousands of dollars of jewelry and clothing at her. And yet, the subject of sex isn’t even suggested at this point. It’s only when Evelyn offers to take on the role her brother had in Vincent’s employ of running hooch does Vincent broach the topic saying that should she fail, he’ll demand payment from her in physical ways. But even then he makes it sound like more of a nuisance than anything, and I never got the sense it was something he was really looking forward to with her. And again, the fact he never really tries anything with her before that time just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me considering the lengths he was going to to seemingly set her up as his mistress.


And lastly, I’d have to say I simply wanted more of a focus on Vincent as a character. The majority of the novel is spent developing this relationship between Max and Evelyn, and while it was undoubtedly extremely compelling you can’t help but admit that Vincent is an intriguing villain in his own right. There’s a suggested ensuing battle between Vincent and a rival mob family which is never fully explored, and is seemingly dropped from the story line. In addition, at the end of the novel we get a hint that Vincent is more of a puppet master pulling the strings of our characters than we ever realized, and I so would have liked perhaps just one more chapter which provided us a glimpse into his mad psyche. What can I say? Whenever I encounter an enthralling villain I simply want more!!


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

Series: I doubt this is a series, but if we could get some kind of short story about Evelyn’s brother, Frank, I’d be first in line.

Should you read it? This story pulled me in and wouldn’t let go. We have a major plot twist later on in the novel that even I didn’t see coming (a rarity indeed), and it made me love it all the more. The whole thing comes together for one exciting climactic conclusion with guns blazing! I will say at times I think parts of the story could have been more fully fleshed out, and there were certain points that crossed the line of convenience over reality, but all in all a fun historical read.

Smut Level: So many longing looks, brushed hands, and captured elbows. Eventually we get a love scene, but the details aren’t excessively raunchy in any way. Pretty clean read altogether.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Long Valley Press. 272 Pages.



Company Ink by Kat Colburn

A delicious office romance with a secretive twist.

What’s it About?


I think this might be someone else’s story…because it certainly doesn’t feel like mine anymore. I can still remember a time when I was happy, when I didn’t go to sleep each night with a stress headache, and wake up each morning and cry because I no longer recognized my own life. A sick parent, a job I can’t stand, a company I hate, and too many people counting on me to stick it out and be strong. This can’t be my story. I guess I’m an unlikely heroine anyway- sarcastic and feisty, and more than one person has called me foulmouthed. Yeah, I guess it’s pretty unlikely that there is a hero and a white horse in my future.

Enter Dan Kelly. The new smoking hot vice president at this horrible company. He’s offered me a way out, one more shot at my dreams and the life I always wanted. He stands too close to my desk with his cocky smirk and makes it hard to type, he pushes our workplace flirting until it’s all I can do not to beg him to bend me over his desk, he challenges me, makes me want to argue with him until our fights verge on something…more. He makes me feel alive like no other. He makes me feel like there just might be a happily ever after in my future.

The problem is…his mountain of secrets.

The problem is…we can’t cross that line or I’ll be fired.

The problem is…he’s my best friend and now I want more.

The problem is…I’m about to be sucked into a story I never imagined I’d be a part of, and I’m not sure if I can make there be a happy ending.

First Impressions

I really enjoyed this book! It was such a good combination of funny, romantic, slightly suspenseful, yet also kind of sad. Office romances are always a tricky thing, and must be handled delicately so that we don’t cross over into inappropriate work behavior/sexual harassment. However, this book cleverly avoids that scenario. Sure, there’s that first initial physical attraction upon first meeting for our lead characters, but they don’t take things further for a really long time. Instead what we see is a true blossoming of friendship. They help each other in work, he helps her with managing stress, and only by opening up through spending so much time together do they slowly start to fall for each other. I for one appreciated how natural it seemed. And sure, once their friendship is secure we do see some fabulous sexual innuendo thrown in there too!!



The work factor of this novel was just as gripping as the romantic side of things. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t fully comprehend whatever the hell technology it was these two were working on. However, that wasn’t really the most important facet of it. Instead it was all about Dani, and how we’ve seen her become trapped by something she used to love. How this company is running her into the ground with stressful hard work that she doesn’t receive appropriate compensation for. Yet she’s unable to leave because she needs the money to help pay for her mother’s cancer treatment. And that’s when Dan comes along.


The two of them are forced to work together on a big international proposal, the commission from which would allow Dani to finally have enough funds to help her mother, quite working for a company she hates, and finally get back to the woman she once was before corporate suits and fake personalities buried her true self. She can finally focus on living her life and escape from the depression she’s slowly steeping herself in. And I just found this part of the story so compelling. We find this strong woman at her wits’ end. At first she is hesitant to work with the domineering Dan, but they quickly discover how similar their personalities are. They have the same interests, laugh at the same jokes and truly become best friends. He helps her smile again, and uncover the sassy side she’s kept hidden for so long. They both want to take things to the next level, yet also don’t want to rush the possibility of ruining their friendship. Not to mention breaking a few HR rules along the way!


Taking Their Time

After a while I really started to wonder if we would ever be privy to Dani and Dan breaking those HR rules, because damn do we have to wait a long time for them to get around to it!! Again, when push comes to shove I’m happy we were able to see them develop an emotional connection beyond anything physical, but good God! Eventually there was so much sexual tension I was ready to burst. While you do have to wait until a good three quarters of the way through the novel to get to the good stuff, lemme just tell you it…doesn’t…disappoint! I’d say we get a good full chapter of details, and my word do they make every second of it count. Simply delicious!


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

Series: Nope!

Should you read it? Personally I really liked this one, and I think it’s a good one to take to the beach. You can’t help but root for Dan and Dani to eventually find a way to be together. There are some secrets to Dan that I won’t give away here, but let’s just say they also impact his decision to hold off on taking things further with Dani. There was one element brought into the very end of the novel that I can’t 100% say was necessary, but overall I thought it was a fun, sweet, sexy read.

Smut Level: We have some warming up in a pool, shower, and against a window. See, I told you it didn’t disappoint!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $12.89 Paperback Price. Self-Published. 245 Pages.

Carved Wooden Heart by Elizabeth Horton-Newton, Starla Hartless

Goodness gracious this book is an emotional roller coaster! It’s an exploration of how fate takes a hand in one woman’s love life so that she experiences the highest of highs, and lowest of lows with two men at different points in her life.

What’s It About? 32063600

A sexy encounter with a talented native artist, a broken heart, and a knight in shining armor are just the beginning in this passionate erotic romance. Dani Stone never expected to fall in love with carver Jesse Wolf Carver. She certainly didn’t foresee the results of her intense one night stand with the sexy hunk. From the wealth of New York City to a small southern community, follow Dani as she journeys the winding path fate has laid out for her.

First Impressions

Dani and Jesse initially come together as she interviews him for an article she’s writing on native art forms, and then proceed to imbibe in alcoholic delights before spending a few passionate days wrapped up in each other. She never expected her life to change forever after falling into the arms of this devilishly handsome, and sometimes hot-headed artist. But an unfortunate misunderstanding, not to mention his proclivity for alcoholic indulgence, forces Dani to run from him. Little did she know he left her with something more permanent than some memories of hot and intense sex. Soon after putting Jesse behind her, she starts to explore something new with another man who simply wants to look after her. Throughout the whole thing you wonder, how is this ride going to end? Will Jesse and Dani ever come back together to rediscover what brought them together in the first place?


From Start to Finish

I do think this book could have been organized a bit differently to hep with the overall flow of the story. We are introduced to Jesse at the very start of the novel when he re-enters Dani’s life after an obviously lengthy time apart, and we then proceed into a flashback about how he and Dani first met. I have nothing against flashbacks, but instead of coming back to the present after discovering how they first met, almost the entire novel is a very extended flashback showing how Dani must move on in her life to explore a relationship with another man. All the while, Jesse is notably physically absent for the majority of the book. Throughout the whole story we remember Jesse in the back of our minds, and we’re just wondering how long until we reach that moment from the start of the novel where they reunite in the present.



Unfortunately I do think it was almost too much of a separation from Jesse and their few days together in the past. The two had an obvious connection, and Jesse himself was a pretty intriguing character, I guess I just wanted more scenes that had him and Dani together in the same room! He isn’t reintroduced as a main character until almost 80% of the novel is complete, and honestly during all that time I sort of had trouble remembering why their brief relationship fell apart to begin with. Perhaps we could have started right away with how Dani and Jesse met, and proceeded forward chronologically as though it was happening in real time? Or I might have even liked the opposite, where we see more returns to that moment where Dani and Jesse reunite with flashbacks interspersed throughout. Just a thought!

So Freakin’ Cute

Hands down, my absolute favorite character in this entire novel would have to be a young precocious child named Dylan. He was so freakin’ adorable, and quite funny for such a young lad. His intelligence and artistic talent just added to his personality, and you can’t help but love him. Just like with Jesse, I would have liked to see more from Dylan as well, specifically in his interactions with some of the adults in the novel. He’s seemingly quite mature for his age, and if he had been given the chance to have more one-on-one moments with some of the other characters, I think he could have helped them discover things about themselves they may not have known before.


Short Chapters

Another feature that I saw as both a blessing and a curse to the organization of the novel was the chapter length. For the most part, the chapters are quite brief which is something I usually love! It makes it so much easier to read during commercial breaks whilst watching TV in the evening. However, when you combine this with the fact that we have over 400 pages divided into about 6 parts and 104 chapters, the novel starts to feel a bit broken up and staggered.


Many chapters would often end with a feeling of dread, or a hint of things to come. When you have so many chapters ending on this note, it kind of starts to wear on you after a while. Just when you think things will start to turn the corner for the better, you’re basically told to not get your hopes up. There’s a part in the middle of the novel where it seems like every chapter ends on a note of, “little did I know the happiness wouldn’t last”, or “I thought the worst had come, but little did I know…”. It was just too much anxiety after a while by constantly waiting around for the worst, and then the eventual ultimate worst, to come.


Back to the Present

When we do finally catch up with the present, it was kind of shocking how quickly everything came together. We just sort of jump right back into how the novel started, with very little recap after having spent so much time apart. After spending the majority of the book going over what Dani went through for the last few years separated from Jesse, I felt like we never fully discovered what he went through in the interim.


We do learn a few details, but I couldn’t help but wonder if he too ever spent time with someone else? Why did it take so long before he finally sought out Dani in person? It seems like we never really learn the answers to these questions. I also would have liked to simply learn more about Jesse’s past, and how he came to be the man he is today. Most of the book’s attention is focused on Dani, which is definitely understandable, but maybe having a few more chapters focus on Jesse could have provided us with a window into his oftentimes complex personality.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? This is an emotional roller coaster of a read. It shows how fate can be both generous and a heartless bitch in the same vein. I will say it really seemed like this was mainly Dani’s story, and an exploration of her growth as a character more than anything, or anyone else. I think the story could have been structured a bit differently to help with the overall flow, but it’s still an interesting tale of newfound love, love lost, and love found again. Some of you might want to have a few tissues on hand when you read this one!

Smut Level: Phew! Jesse is a bad boy with a motorcycle, and you can definitely sense he has a naughty and flirtatious side to him. The heat between him and Dani is delectably sultry, though not too over the top in description.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Createspace Publishing. 435 Pages.