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.

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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.

Whiteout by Adriana Anders

Is there anything sexier than the idea of “mating” your sleeping bag to your partner’s in order to share body heat during a snow storm in the coldest place on Earth? Anything to notch up the temperature a few degrees!

What’s it About?

With a storm coming and a killer on the loose, every step could be their last…

Angel Smith is finally ready to leave Antarctica for a second chance at life. But on what was meant to be her last day, the remote research station she’s been calling home is attacked. Hunted and scared, she and irritatingly gorgeous glaciologist Ford Cooper barely make it out with their lives…only to realize that in a place this remote, there’s nowhere left to run.

Isolated with no power, no way to contact the outside world, and a madman on their heels, Angel and Ford must trust their instincts and fight to survive in the most inhospitable—and beautiful—place on earth. But what starts as a partnership born of necessity quickly turns into an urgent connection that burns bright and hot. They both know there’s little chance of making it out alive, and yet they are determined to weather the coming storm—no matter the cost.

First Impressions

This is one of those reads where I think the synopsis may have been more exciting than the actual progression of events. After all, when we get beyond the initial suspense of murder which forces our protagonists, Angel and Ford, to traverse to another station in the midst of an Antarctic winter, the reality of their situation is primarily…a lot of endless walking. Each chapter of the novel opens with a countdown of the remaining miles they need to trek before making it to safety, as well as a count of their dwindling food supplies. Essentially though what we have is a very long walk from point A to point B, with a hope that the bad guys doing flyovers in an attempt to locate them (and the deadly virus cannisters they’re carrying) won’t be able to spot our couple as needles in a haystack of endless white.

A Bit of Romance

In the midst of this very long walk to safety, Ford and Angel start to feel the stirrings of romance developing between them. Ford has always been socially awkward and distant from others at the base, but he’s always felt an underlying tingle around Angel. Now that the two of them have set out on their life-threatening journey, Ford can no longer escape her presence like he could back at the base, and their connection continues to grow ever stronger. Too bad their surroundings limit them to engaging in some over-the-clothes make out and rubbing sessions. After all, fully disrobing to indulge in their ultimate desire could legitimately result in some rather serious frostbite damage to one of Ford’s most important appendages.

Series: Survival Instincts, book 1. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with this series. It just didn’t grab me.

Final Impressions: I feel like we never fully understand the motives behind our villain pulling all the puppet strings behind the scenes. We know she experienced tragedy with the death of her children and grandchildren due to a school shooting (maybe?), but it’s unclear how that equates to wanting to unleash a deadly virus, and then vaccine, to the world. Also, while we get an exciting final confrontation between our characters and some secondary villains, we never get one involving our main antagonist. It leaves everything feeling somewhat unfinished to undoubtedly resolve in a future novel. Overall, an interesting concept, but with the execution you kind of understand how the premise would lack in action for a while.

Smut Level: The threat of frostbite in some very important places means Angel and Ford can’t immediately give into their desires. But once they find an abandoned service station to keep them warm amidst the frigid cold? All bets (and clothes) are off!!

Get in on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Sourcebooks Casablanca. 514. Pages.

The Protector by Abigail Owen

Lyndi and Levi have been denying their true feelings for over 200 years. When the fates of war threaten to pull them apart, they finally have to confront the desire they both feel for each other.

What’s it About? 

The cousin of the High King, Lyndi Chandali has lived with the constant threat of being pawned off as a political prize. A rare, female-born dragon like Lyndi can’t truly mate—not in the way it counts. Which is why she’s kept her distance from a certain sinfully delicious Beta. Instead, she’s built a life for herself giving orphaned dragons in the Americas a home.

As Beta of his team of enforcers, Levi Rowtag is a fighter first, last, and always. His job is to protect—his team, the shifters in his territory, and the stubborn woman hell-bent on fighting with him at every turn. He knows from the moment they first meet what she’ll never accept—they are destined to be mated.

But with the kings at war, the enemy is now coming for Lyndi. Worse, he’s coming for her orphans, too. He’ll have no choice but to defy his king and go rogue if he has any hope of protecting them all…and finally claiming his mate.

First Impressions

Every once in a while you manage to come across a very special series that fills you with excitement with the start of every prologue. After a thrilling journey full of delightful characters and gripping storyline you’re almost sad to have the story end. But then each epilogue fills you again with that familiar excitement of anticipation as another sequel’s groundwork is laid out before us. This fantastic addition to the Fire’s Edge and companion Inferno Rising series proves once again that Abigail Owen has succeeded in brining us into this world that we never want to leave, or ever see the series end for that matter.

Throwing Away the Rule Book

A truly thrilling aspect of this series is that we’re constantly kept guessing as to what might happen next, or which preconceived assumptions will change with every turn of the page. While we’ve come to understand some of the basic components of this fantasy world of dragons, it’s a world without a rule book, or at least, the rules are constantly evolving. The Huracan Enforcer team have come to realize how long they’ve been kept in the dark by their leaders when it comes to mates, mating, and what is or isn’t possible in their magical landscape. The impossible is seemingly increasingly possible with each passing day. This lack of a rule book is what keeps each new addition to the series interesting and unique from that which came before. I definitely had a moment or two where I had an “oh snap” exclamation of surprise from a plot twist I didn’t see coming.

The Couple of the Series

Hands down, Lyndi was my favorite heroine of this series so far. She was a powerhouse of a woman who could hold her own with the boys, had a heart of gold to take in orphans who nobody else wanted, and a sprinkling of self-doubt when it comes to her worth in life as a sterile female dragon. Levi has loved her since first meeting, but her initial cold shoulder has kept him at a distance from admitting his true feelings for centuries. When Levi is called away by his king to fight in a war of kings, he realizes he has no more time to stay away from Lyndi. It’s when they’re at risk of losing each other that they can voice how important the other is to their very existence.

As if the prospect of Levi being called away wasn’t hard enough of a trial for their burgeoning relationship, when a dragon from a rival enforcer team comes to claim Lyndi as his own mate, the challenges before them are thrown into overdrive. Levi and Lyndi’s connection was palpable from the first page, and their combined strength in the face of adversity made them a standout couple of the entire series. Lyndi is convinced her infertility means Levi is deserving of more, but he’s willing to do whatever is necessary to prove to her that he not only loves her, but that they’re fated mates who deserve to be together. You root for him to succeed in convincing her to accept him fully into her heart, and you keep your fingers crossed that they’ll both succeed in defeating a common enemy who wants Lyndi for himself.

Digital painting by Sunima (Sunniva Myster)

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

Series: Fire’s Edge, book 5. I can’t wait for the next book!!! I’m beyond excited to focus on a former member of the Huracan team who went rogue. Be sure to read this series in order, as well is in conjunction with the Inferno Rising series.

Final Impressions: Once started, it was near impossible to put this book down. I actually read the whole thing in about 3 sittings. Levi and Lyndi’s story immediately pulls you in and won’t let go. They have so many forces trying to pull them apart, that you can’t help by stand by on the sidelines cheering on every success they achieve in the face of hardship. What seemed like years of animosity between them have shown how much they’ve watched and learned about each other in all that time. Lyndi and Levi are the ones to draw you in, the rest of the team will pull you in even closer with their familial support, and their battles against injustice will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Smut Level: These two may have waited hundreds of years before indulging in their ultimate physical desires, but we certainly don’t have to wait long before Levi has Lyndi spread out and tied to her bed. Talk about dragon’s fire!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 254 Pages

Finder Keeper of My Heart by Vina Arno

Emma is convinced a message in a bottle holds the key to her future happiness. When she meets handsome Avery bathing nude under a waterfall in Hawaii she believes he’s the one she’s been waiting for all these years. Oh honey let’s be honest, his rock-hard abs and bare tushy helped with that decision too!

What’s it About?

Emma Munroe, a Juilliard senior, snags a plum role on Broadway a few weeks before her twenty-first birthday. She travels to Hawaii with her best friends to celebrate. When she gets lost in a jungle during an impromptu hike, she happens upon a waterfall—and a naked hunk bathing underneath it. When she finds out his name is Avery Bell, she’s dumbstruck. She believes she’s meant to love someone named Avery. It all goes back to a message in a bottle she found when she was nine, a letter written by a soldier called Avery to his sweetheart named Emma. He’d written it in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack during World War II. Since then, Emma has been searching (and saving her virginity) for her own Avery. But Avery Bell is as mysterious as he is irresistible. Emma learns about his family secrets and bitterness. In the course of this vacation, an accident and a tragic death will shake both of them to the core. Her singular faith in him—her unwavering belief in love and destiny—proves to be his saving grace.

First Impressions

Emma is a carefree, spunky actress with a whimsical tendency to create word mashups to find the perfect way to describe any situation. Avery is a tech nerd who prefers the quiet solitude of nature to the company of others. These two couldn’t be more mismatched, but when their paths cross in the middle of the Hawaiian rainforest, they’re inexplicably drawn to each other. They challenge each other to look at the world around them in new ways, and open their eyes to the possibility of something different in life. As if that wasn’t enough of a reason for Emma to start falling for Avery, his very name has her convinced they’re meant to be.

Years before, Emma discovered a washed-up message in a bottle from WWII where a man named Avery professed his undying love for a woman named Emma. Since that day, Emma has always believed the love of her life would be named Avery. Seems like a somewhat silly reason to love someone, and in a way I think it resulted in Emma overlooking a rather important red-flag detail when it came to Avery. Namely, that he already has a girlfriend waiting for him back in civilization.

The Other Woman

Upon first meeting, Avery is initially annoyed with this carefree spirit who has interrupted his solitude in the jungle. It doesn’t take long though for her inquisitive nature to win him over, and it’s not until a passionate make out scene that he reveals he already has a girlfriend. Now, they’re on a bit of a break at the moment, but they haven’t officially broken up yet either. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the classic Ross and Rachel Friends debate of whether or not Avery’s kisses with Emma could be construed as cheating considering that he and his girlfriend were “ON A BREAK!!”

I think that what most rubbed me the wrong way about this couple was that even after Avery admits he is already involved with another woman, this fact doesn’t really deter Emma. She continues to flirt and tease Avery, initiate kisses with him and shockingly almost seems upset when Avery refuses to sleep with her. As for Avery, he tries his best to say no, but can’t deny his time with Emma is making him re-think continuing his relationship with his girlfriend. What kind of bothered me though is that when his girlfriend comes to town for an unexpected visit and he admits that he and Emma have kissed several times, he gets agitated when his girlfriend greets Emma with coldness and an underlying sense of hostility. I mean…did he really expect these ladies to become best buddies and go shopping together or something? Of course they’d be wary spending any time together, and having to pretend to be cordial.

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

Series: Stand-alone.

Final Impressions: This is a romance where seemingly polar opposites are able to learn from and challenge each other. Avery teaches Emma how to appreciate the slowness and beauty of nature, somewhat taming this whirlwind of energy. Emma is able to get Avery to live in the moment, and be more carefree and indulgent in life. While I didn’t agree with some of the choices they made in their relationship, or Avery’s interactions with his girlfriend, the situation wasn’t really presented as though we are supposed to agree with every decision they make. Instead, we see that they’re humans who err and learn from their mistakes.

Smut Level: These two spend most of the book pining after each other, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their hot and heavy moments. Especially when it comes to stumbling upon the other bathing naked out in the open.

Secret Baby, Second Chance by Jane Godman

Note to self: if at any point it feels like I’m the lead in a romance novel, don’t choose that as a time to go rock climbing. It just has bad idea written all over it.

What’s it About?

She’s alive! Vincente Delaney has finally found his girlfriend, Beth Wade, who disappeared a year and a half ago, alive. But he’s shocked to discover someone with her: their child, a little girl he never knew about! Once upon a time, lone wolf Vincente never expected forever with Beth, but now he must put everything on the line to protect her and their family.

Beth was forced to leave Vincente to protect everything she held dear. But now the threat to her loved ones’ lives has reared its ugly head again. As danger approaches, she and Vincente must delve into her past to cast out the darkness jeopardizing their future.

First Impressions

Vincente hasn’t seen Beth in almost two years. Their relationship had always been filled with heated passion back then, and could best be described as an on-again/off-again tumultuous roller coaster ride. Nothing quite like loud arguments interspersed with sexy make-up sessions against a wall. When she left town two years ago, Vincente initially wrote it off as her having another heated reaction to their relationship. However, when a serial killer made his way through their small town whose victims closely resembled Beth, Vincente started to fear the worst for his long-lost beloved. It’s only after the killer was stopped at the end of the last book that Beth’s hidden location has now been discovered. Vincente is not only pleasantly surprised to discover Beth is still alive, but overwhelmingly shocked to realize she has a baby daughter in tow. The timing of everything means she left town all those months back pregnant with his child. Yeah, get yourselves ready for another one of those heated arguments!!

The Suspense of Confrontation

Hands-down, the best part of this novel was when Vincente discovered Beth’s secret location, and the confrontation which ensued over the fact that she hid the identity of their daughter from him for all this time. This is when we see the most heated and intense moments between them, where you can’t tell if Vincente will yell in frustration, storm out in anger, or shove Beth up against a wall to demonstrate that his feelings for her never went away. Or heck, maybe a nice dose of all three scenarios is in order. This is also when we find out that these characters are don’t with serial killers, as Beth admits the reason she left all those months ago was because she and the members of her rock climbing group are being threatened and picked off one by one by an unknown enemy. When the killer also uncovers Beth’s secret location, Vincente has no choice but to bring her and their child back home with him to protect them.

From Lonely Bachelor to Playful Father

Once Beth and Vincente go back to their hometown, this is when things almost progress too smoothly as far as their relationship is concerned. Vincente, who has always been the consummate bachelor, quickly transitions into the ideal dad, and he and Beth fall back into their passionate ways in no time. As members of Beth’s former rock climbing group continue to be killed, and our two leads even have a confrontation or two with the villain, we constantly wonder who the killer is and why they’re so intent on this vendetta of revenge. There’s a few curveballs and false clues thrown into the mix to keep you guessing from start to finish. I will say the ultimate reveal of the killer and their motivations, as well as the fact another member of the climbing team was suspicious of this killer for quite some time was slightly disappointing. It seemed as though the identity of the killer could have been discovered and revealed years beforehand, and without the need for additional deaths. Still, it was an intriguing and entertaining ride, with a few suspenseful scenes at the top of steep cliffs to keep you on the edge of your seat!

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

Series: Sons of Stillwater, book 3. I didn’t read books 1 or 2 in this series, but could still follow along fairly easily with the events of this book. Sure, it may have been more enjoyable to reconnect with former characters from the previous two novels, but it was still fun to meet these characters for the first time.

Final Impressions: This was a suspenseful and passionate read. Overall I think the first half was more engaging than the latter half, but it’s still entertaining on the whole. I would have liked to see more of the hot and cold dynamic between Beth and Vincente sustained into the second half, but could also understand the need to push this aside to focus attention on the murder at hand.

Smut Level: Passion and sexual chemistry was always something that Beth and Vincente had in spades. Two years apart has changed a lot of things, but certainly not that important detail!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Harlequin Romantic Suspense. 288 Pages.

Try as I Smite by Abigail Owen

Try as I Smite by Abigail Owen

We have all the mages, angels, demons, windigos and Charles Dickens Christmas Carol references you could ever possibly want for some holiday spirit. Now, whether that holiday is Halloween or Christmas is anyone’s guess!

What’s it About? 

Alasdair Blakesley is the head of the Covens Syndicate. He shouldn’t need to look beyond the witches and warlocks he governs, or his own abilities, to solve any problem. But a demon infestation means he can’t trust anyone who may be possessed. The last person he wants to ask for help is also the only person who can fix this, so he sucks up his pride and storms into her office.

And she turns him down cold.

As the owner of Brimstone Inc., Delilah’s passion is helping others with their supernatural problems. But Alasdair is the last man Delilah wants to tangle with. The infuriating man sees too much and demands even more. And did she mention the way he sets her body on fire? Not that it matters—demons are the only things with which she cannot interfere. Too bad a higher power steps in and sends them both on a crash course of each others’ pasts, presents, and futures. How is a Christmas Carol nightmare supposed to solve his demon problem without breaking the rules she’s bound by?

First Impressions

As far as I’m concerned, Alasdair and Delilah are the king and queen of penetrating stares, smirking grins, and the ubiquitous eyebrow lift. From the first moment we witness these two in a room together, or office to be precise, we can’t wait for the eventual moment when they’ll rip each other’s clothes off to devour one another. Now granted, Alasdair is currently encountering a bit of a demon problem in which his fellow mages are being possessed by their enemies in a hellish attempt at demonic world domination, but…ya know…his sexual chemistry with Delilah is still forefront in our minds. Priorities!

A Demonic Christmas for the Ages

When Alasdair comes to Delilah for help with ridding his people of demons, she surprisingly refuses to assist him herself. This shocks Alasdair considering she’s known throughout the supernatural world for helping those in need. While he is rightly pissed off at her initial refusal, and assumes it stems from her personal dislike of dealing with him, we can tell there’s a secret reasoning behind Delilah’s rebuff. She doesn’t leave him out in the wintry cold completely though, and instead sends him to another woman for help…her mother. Rather than solve his problem for him, Delilah’s mother proceeds to send both Alasdair and Delilah through a Dickens-like Christmas Carol journey, observing scenes from their past, present, and future.

These scenes are supposedly the key to Alasdair’s solution, but as he spends more time trapped with Delilah through all of these emotional moments in time, he can’t help but feel increasingly linked with her as each vision passes. They become connected in a way that is special and all-consuming, and even though he needs to get back to his people, Alasdair also doesn’t want this time with Delilah to end. A gripping need starts to envelop them, and before long they’re more entranced with each other than the scenes playing out before them. Hands down my favorite point in the entire book was when they’ve been transported to a new scene, and Alasdair essentially declares he doesn’t care what lesson this particular glimpse is supposed to teach him, and instead he proceeds to ravish and taste Delilah all over while pushing her up against a wall. Makes things a bit more interesting than your typical Christmas Carol rendition, doesn’t it?

Being Consumed with Possession

My regular readers will have undoubtedly seen me utter the phrase many times throughout the years that considering how many books I read it really does take a lot for a story to surprise me. I can usually guess at some point where the plot is going to lead. However, I must say this battle against possessive demons truly had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation from start to finish. I never really knew where the story wanted to take me, and there were a few twists and turns along the way that I didn’t see coming. Something I did appreciate throughout the read was the emphasis on Alasdair and Delilah discovering that they were always stronger together than they could ever be apart from each other. It wasn’t about him rescuing her as a damsel in distress, or her opening his eyes to a woman’s worth, but rather that their connection as a unit was everything worth fighting for.

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

Series: Brimstone INC, book 4. This is a great series full of fantastical characters. You don’t necessarily need to read all the books which came before, but you might as well!

Final Impressions: This is a quick and engaging read that you won’t want to put down! In a way it sort of reminded me of a Nightmare Before Christmas in that it’s really a fun batch of entertainment for either Halloween or Christmas. You no longer need to choose one over the other! This read allows you to have your cake and eat it too. Or lick the frosting off of Alasdair if at all possible.

Smut Level: Alasdair is so taken with Delilah he can’t help but take her up against a wall during one of their Christmas Carol-esque visions. If that’s not passion I don’t know what is!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 123 Pages

Dangerous Currents by Kathryn Knight

Imagine traveling halfway across the world to escape the stresses of a former life. You’re experiencing some intense jetlag, so you decide to go for a calming walk with your dog along the beach, only to quickly discover the body of a dead woman along the way. Not exactly my idea of a relaxing beach getaway!

What’s it About?

When a costly mistake ends Malorie Montgomery’s career, she returns to Cape Cod in search of a fresh start. But her plans for a new—and quiet—life are quickly derailed when she makes a grisly discovery in the woods, and her screams bring the one person from her past she’d hoped to avoid. Dean Slater, the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart in high school, now lives in the beachfront community that was supposed to be her haven…and he’s just as hot as he was six years ago.

With his rough background, Dean always knew he wasn’t good enough for the kind, intelligent beauty who claimed his heart, but somehow he’d believed their love was strong enough to survive anything—until the tragic night she turned her back on him when he needed her trust the most. Despite their painful history, Dean can’t resist the instinct to protect her, especially when it becomes apparent there’s a killer in their town.

Their former chemistry soon reignites, but Malorie has long accepted that her dark family secret has destined her to a life alone. And when she uncovers evidence that makes her the killer’s target, a deadly confrontation threatens to destroy any possibility of a second chance.

First Impressions

This novel presents us with a second chance romance opportunity between two people from opposite sides of the track, Malorie and Dean. They fell in love senior year of high school, but their relationship deteriorated on prom night due to unfortunate misunderstandings on both their parts. Malorie was promptly whisked away to another continent for school, and it’s only now, five years later, that she returns to Cape Cod and crosses paths once again with her former flame. As if reuniting with the love of your life after so many years apart wasn’t awkward enough, Malorie and Dean’s reunion takes place after she stumbles across a dead body, and Dean came running to investigate her screams. As the murder investigation proceeds, there is some initial angst and animosity between them, but it doesn’t take long before Malorie and Dean find themselves falling back in love with each other.

From Second Chances to Murder, and Everything in Between

There were a lot of different story-lines happening in this book, each one just as gripping and entertaining as the next. There’s the slow reveal of what Malorie and Dean got wrong all those years ago, each of them starting out on a new business opportunity, opening themselves up again to the possibility of love, Malorie admitting for the first time some of the frightening battles her family has experienced with mental illness, and on top of it all the discovery at the start of the book of a murdered rape victim. Again, there’s a lot happening here!

While I did find each component thoroughly entertaining, there may have been a bit too much happening all at once. If I had to choose one story-line which probably could have been left out, or maybe incorporated more fully into the story, I’d probably have to go with the murder plot. It was definitely an exciting start to the book, and provided us with an unbelievably dramatic ending, but there was a good portion of the novel where it felt like this plot point was pushed to the side to focus instead on Malorie and Dean’s reconnection. That’s not to say it wasn’t a well constructed piece of drama! There were so many curveballs thrown in to make you suspect multiple characters of being responsible for the string of murders plaguing this small New England town. Overall though, I found myself forgetting several times throughout the read that these murders had taken place.

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

Series: Stand-alone. Considering how much was going on with this read, I almost wonder if it would have presented well as a duet series!

Final Impressions: This was an intense read that will have you wondering from start to finish who dunnit, though it was somewhat busy with all of the different stories going on. The author did employ a great use of flashbacks to reveal what happened all those years ago between Malorie and Dean, as well as the complicated relationship between Malorie and her mother. We could seamlessly flow from present, to the past and back again in a way that felt natural, as though the characters were thinking back on everything all at that very moment. In my opinion the most unexpectedly moving story was Malorie revealing the complications of her mother’s paranoid schizophrenia, and how this struggle has impacted Malorie’s outlook on the choices she can make in her own life. It was a very emotionally revealing conversation between her and Dean that I wasn’t expecting!

Smut Level: They may have been separated for the last 5 years, but their love never went anywhere. Needless to say, they have a lot of lost time to make up for! We get to see some make out scenes up against a door, in the rain, and sex scenes filled with all the passionate intensity and urgency you could hope for.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Wicked Whale Publishing. 282 Pages.

Home in Your Arms by Charlotte O’Shay

Car trouble in the middle of a rainstorm. Finding shelter in an abandoned garage. A crackling fireplace and only one bed?! Oh yeah, this is definitely my kind of read.

What’s it About? 

After her sweetheart Joe dies in a road accident, twenty-four hours after he returns from Army service, grieving Karla Payne slams the door on love. Five years later, Karla’s tavern business is booming, and she owns her home, but she knows forever love has no part in her future. Headed to interview for his first civilian job, retired career Army 1st Sgt. Zane Blackthorne can’t resist visiting his late buddy’s beloved Vermont hometown. He also can’t resist looking up Joe’s sweetheart, Karla, who is an alluring mix of brains, beauty, and bravery. Loyalty to his brother-in-arms demands Zane fight his attraction to Karla. Besides, even if Karla wants him, she’ll never love him. Can Zane say goodbye to the woman he has no right to call his own? Even if his only true home is in her arms?

First Impressions

Throughout this novel we see a proverbial third wheel which is a constant underlying presence in Karla and Zane’s relationship: Joe. He was the love of Karla’s life, and possibly Zane’s only true friend in the army. Joe tragically died five years ago, not in war, but rather from a hit-and-run accident that took place merely one day after his return from battle. During his time in the army, Joe always regaled Zane with stories of his quirky home-town and his girl. When Zane finds himself passing through this picturesque locale after leaving the army he can’t help but stop to see it for himself, as well as share with Karla how much his friendship with Joe meant to him. This shared connection with Joe and the retelling of his stories were the impetus which brought these two people together, and they soon discover how much they enjoy simply spending time with each other. However, while Joe’s existence and death brought them together, it also unexpectedly keeps them apart.

Not Worthy

As Karla and Zane progress in their relationship by taking things to the next step physically, eventually they have an argument about how to define their relationship. The fight itself did seem somewhat contrived, with Zane seemingly going into the conversation expecting an argument, and peppering Karla with question after question in an accusatory way about how she doesn’t want to put a label on them as a couple. This was definitely true as Karla wanted to stay together with Zane, but was uncomfortable defining them as boyfriend and girlfriend, or perhaps even being on the pathway to something more serious.

After this fight which puts their entire connection in jeopardy, Karla soon realizes that her desire to keep things undefined in her relationship with Zane stemmed from her not wanting to feel disloyal to Joe’s memory. After all, he was her first and only everything, and when he died Karla felt she didn’t deserve to find someone else to replace him. She never could have imagined someone like Zane to come waltzing into her life, and she certainly never expected their connection after just a few weeks could rival that which she experienced for years with Joe. Zane tries his hardest to convince her that it’s not about replacing or forgetting, but rather about opening herself up to the prospect of experiencing even more love in her life.

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

Series: Deerbourne Inn. Just like the previous book in this series, Home in Your Arms was a quick read that I finished in just 3 days. Honestly, it would have been 2 days if I had just insisted on not bingeing another episode of Breaking Bad. I wish we could have seen a few more of the colorful characters of this small town we’ve come to know and love, but I’m really looking forward to continuing with this series!

Final Impressions: This is an enjoyable read with an important message about moving on after tragedy, and how to re-open your heart to love again. I appreciated that these two didn’t immediately fall into bed or lust with each other, especially seeing as how important Joe was to both of them. A quick wam-bam-thank-you-ma’am would have felt like a slap in the face to his memory. Instead we see how Karla and Zane are able to acknowledge at the start how much they enjoy the other’s company, and eventually their relationship naturally develops into something more. Not too fast, not too slow, just right!

Smut Level: Shockingly, there was no hanky panky during the rainstorm fireplace scene mentioned at the start of the review. However, we do get an up-against-the-wall kitchen scene later on which was just as delicious.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 114 Pages. 

A Timeline Restored by Rebecca Hefner

A Timeline Restored by Rebecca Hefner

Alas, the series had to come to an end at some point. We all hold our breath in collective anticipation, wondering if this group of friends will finally succeed in breaking the time loop cycle they’re stuck in to save the world.

What’s it About? 

The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy…Eli Hernandez spent decades cultivating an image of fear and domination as the nefarious leader of the New Establishment. Yet, deep inside, he still clutches onto the barest hope that his irredeemable soul has vestiges of virtue. Alora Castillo lost everything one fateful day long ago as Eli looked on, unable to stop the carnage. Resolved to detest him, she must forge ahead when they are thrust together as unlikely allies. As the ragtag team of time travelers strives to reconnect with their leader, dark forces hide behind the scenes, manipulating fate as the cycle carries on. Determined to succeed and prevent the past, the team battles the evil regime, unwilling to accept failure. But accepting the yearnings of the heart requires forgiveness—a concept Alora dismissed long ago, no matter how fervently she secretly longs for Eli’s embrace. Will the team save the world and prevent President Randolph from detonating the apocalypse? Read the electrifying finale now!

First Impressions

Each and every couple in this series was just as delightful and entertaining as the last, and these two just might be my favorite of the group. There was so much angst, passion and heated history between them that you couldn’t help but root for them to acknowledge how much love and adoration was lying just beneath the surface. In any given scene you couldn’t really tell if they would fight, scream, shove the other up against the wall to tear their clothes off, or a combination of all of the above. There’s a complicated past which exists between Eli and Alora which was constantly pulling them together, yet pushing them apart at the same time.

An Unforgivable Past

The history of Eli and Alora is fraught with tension, pain and distrust. Years ago, Eli’s father killed Alora’s entire family, and while he couldn’t find a way to save them all, Eli was able to convince his father to spare Alora’s life. Throughout the years they’ve been enemies, constantly fighting against each other. However, only recently have they discovered they’re actually allies, as Eli has secretly been finding ways to support their rebel cause and mission to bring down the New Establishment which is set on world domination. When Alora is captured by these enemy forces, Eli once again has to use his cunning to think of a way to rescue her. What better solution than to suggest a marriage of convenience? Loooove it!

While Eli is constantly demonstrating his will to protect Alora, there is still an underlying distrust she feels towards this man. After all, she’ll constantly associate him with that terrible day when her family was gunned down in front of her. They always say “actions speak louder than words”, and Eli’s actions certainly express an unbreakable devotion to Alora, but she still finds it difficult to accept his help towards her and her friends. When he eventually declares his love for Alora she sees it as the ultimate challenge to forgive and forget a past which has influenced her entire trajectory in life. It’s easy for us to berate Alora’s decision to constantly push Eli away, especially when we consider how many times he’s risked his own life to protect her. I lost count of the moments when I wanted to exclaim, “oh just forgive him already!” However, it’s also crucial for us to remember that tragic moment from their shared past which makes us understand why it is so difficult for her to pull Eli into her arms.

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

Series: Prevent the Past, book 3. Something I loved about this entire series was that in addition to being presented with an engaging couple, we’re always exposed to a strong and admirable female lead. This final book in the series was no exception to that delightful feature!

Final Impressions: Eli and Alora were certainly a captivating couple of characters, but just as entertaining was the family we’ve followed throughout this entire series. They’re not necessarily a family bound by blood, though some are unknowingly connected in that way. Rather, they’re a family of their own choosing. They’ve fallen in step with each other, and are honored to fight and die by each other. It was such a beautiful and honest form of familial devotion. We are constantly kept guessing as to how this team will succeed in saving the world, and if it’s even possible to break out of the time cycle loop in which they constantly fail in their ultimate goal. It’s a fun guessing game right up to the very end. The final aspect of this novel which I enjoyed was the fact that while Eli was the first to say he loved Alora, and constantly tried to fight for her affection, in the end we see that she must now fight for him. The fate of their relationship didn’t just lie in one or the other, but instead they each had to step up to the plate.

Smut Level: Eli and Alora have a chemistry which is off-the-charts explosive.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 218 Pages. 

Snowball’s Christmas by Kristen McKanagh

Snowball’s Christmas by Kristen McKanagh

A delightful Christmas romance to get you in the holiday spirit! Believe me when I say, this year especially, it’s not too early to pick up this read.

What’s it About? 

Snowball—an aptly named bundle of feline fluff—is thankful to be spending her first Christmas in the comfort of Weber Haus, the Victorian B&B run by Miss Tilly. Emily Diemer, who cooks for the guests, dotes on Snowball, but she’s not thrilled about another new arrival at the B&B: Miss Tilly’s nephew, Lukas. Which is odd, because Snowball’s animal instincts tell her that Lukas and Emily should definitely be friends. Everything Emily needs is in this quaint community—including, she hopes, the chance to open her own bakery one day.

She doesn’t think much of Lukas for leaving his aging aunt to struggle while he jets around the world taking photographs. But now that he’s here, helping to spruce up the property and getting mixed up in Snowball’s antics, she begins to soften a little. Until she learns what he has planned . . . Lukas is going to sell Weber Haus so that Miss Tilly can retire. But Snowball is certain that this B&B, and these people, are supposed to be her forever home. Somehow she has to get these stubborn humans to see things through the wisdom of a cat’s eye and a kitten’s loyal, loving heart . . .

First Impressions

In this enchanting Christmas romance we see a small snippet of each chapter told from the point of view of an adorable kitten. I mean, just look at the fluffy wuffy cuteness that is the cover art, and tell me you’re not intrigued! As if that wasn’t enough, we have a snowy landscape at a picturesque Inn, two people who fall in love, and German Christmas traditions and food on top of everything. When I told my friends these fabulous details they all said the same thing: “This book was made for you”. While reading this book, believe me when I say it will leave you with a smile on your face pretty much from start to finish, and for a few days afterwards. You’ll probably chuckle aloud a time or two, and your toes will curl with glee. If it doesn’t? Well you just might be the Grinch of the holiday season.

A Personal Connection

This was exactly the kind of romance book I didn’t know I needed right now. Initially I thought it was way too early in the season for a snowy Christmas read, but it was simply the perfect amount of light-hearted fun and romance necessary to escape all the stresses of the world. And my goodness there’s seemingly too many stresses to count! I also felt a personal connection to this read, not just because I can’t say no to a book featuring a fluffball of fur as one of the characters. As someone who lost her own Oma earlier this year, it was special for me to read about the connection between the character of Emily and her own Oma who recently passed. To witness another woman who had such a loving relationship with her Oma, and one who also had a culinary influence on her life dang near brought tears to my eyes!

My sister and I basically grew up in my Oma’s kitchen. She taught me how to make spaetzle, kartoffelsalat und blaukraut.

A Pinch of Love, a Scoop of Fun

This novel presents us with the perfect recipe of a romance: the book has soul, and these characters have heart. Even during moments which cause friction, we can see that the decisions of Emily and Lukas come from a good place. For example, the synopsis introduces us to the fact that Lukas wants to sell his aunt’s Inn, and while I went into this read expecting to see him as a somewhat selfish character, I was surprised to find that his goal of selling the Inn was bred solely from the desire to ensure his aunt was being taken care of. Emily was also intent on hating Lukas for a good portion of the read, as she couldn’t help but see him as a neglectful nephew to the woman she’s come to love as family. Her oftentimes childish fixation to dislike Lukas became a bit easier to understand when we see it was due to her love of Aunt Tilly.

Even Snowball the kitten had the best of intentions during her moments of craziness! Sure, she could be such a little troublemaker at times, but she just wanted these silly humans to fall in love and kiss already! For those of you who aren’t cat people (firstly, how dare you?), don’t let that deter you from this read! Snowball was unbelievably adorable in all her fluffy cuteness, and at times even took on the characteristics of a dog. She would fetch things (even if not asked for), she was snuggly and affectionate, and could even follow direction…kind of.

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

Series: Stand-Alone.

Final Impressions: This is a must-read for the holiday season! For those of you who might not be in the mood for a Christmas read at this point of the year, at least be sure to add this to your holiday “to be read” pile. I didn’t want to put it down, whether I was in the bath, it was before bed, or I needed to hop on a zoom call for work!

Smut Level: This is a sweet read without any hanky panky.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $9.99 Kindle Price. Kensington Publishing. 240 Pages