A Reason to Stay by Melissa Ellen

The male lead in this novel is named Rhett. You’ve got a lot to live up to Rhett ole’ boy when you have the same name as one of the most dashing and suave of literary characters, Mr. Rhett Butler. And now I’m thinking of Clark Gable. And now I need to re-watch Gone with the Wind for the millionth time. You wouldn’t mind waiting around for about, oh, four hours, would ya? Thanks!

What’s it About? a reason to stay

From Two Different Worlds. With Pasts that haunt them. An Undeniable love that heals them. Will one tragic night break them? Ava Conner is a smart, beautiful, independent, focused architecture student that has her life ahead of her. She knows what she wants and she is determined to let nothing stop her from getting it. She has no time for men and she is content with being alone. That was until she got knocked flat on her ass by Rhett Blackwood. Literally.

First Impressions

This is a meet cute as timeless as can be: the two literally bump into each other at a coffee shop. They exchange a heated glance, but not much else. Ava is decidedly shocked when she sees this man again at a party she’s helping to cater, and he’s accompanied by another woman no less! Our dashing lad seeks Ava out in a back hallway, insisting that he’s not actually “with” this other woman, and that he’ll find Ava later on. Let’s say the heated look in his eyes promises much more than conversation. And oh boy does he deliver.

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First Romps and One Night Stand Discussions

I will say I found it pretty interesting that for a man with such an intense presence as Rhett, their first time in the bedroom was relatively tame. Passionate, yes, but not too raunchy. Personally, I also delighted in the rather awkward discussion afterwards on what the status of their relationship was. Ava is understandably hesitant to pursue anything too serious after her last boyfriend cheated on her. I loved that she tried to be upfront with Rhett, and say if this is just a one night type of dealio, then that’s more than fine with her. Rhett’s insistence that this will not just be a one night romp in the hay will make you gasp in an “oh my” kind of moment.

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Admirable Leading Lady

You know, I’ve gotta hand it to Ava, I admire this chica for her willingness to stand up to Rhett when it really mattered. She wasn’t going to cower at his oftentimes dominant personality. The perfect example of this was during their first weekend together. They spend one glorious morning beneath the sheets, and he wants her to call off work, or get someone else to fill in for her so they can spend more time in bed horizontally. However, her work is really important to her, and gives her a sense of purpose and independence, so she refuses to relent to his insistence. Even when he has her pushed up against a wall, whispering into her ear with his deep and sultry voice. That’s one strong willed woman right there!

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Another example is with her friends. Ava actually has some close male friends who are almost like brothers. She’s pretty affectionate with them; with lots of hugs and cheek kisses involved. Now, obviously we all know this will undoubtedly cause Rhett to have an eventual coronary. That being said, Ava insists she won’t cut these men out of her life completely, and she does her best to bring Rhett and her friends together for some male bonding time.

Exes and Ohhhhs

So when it comes to this woman that Rhett took to the party, obviously it was more complicated than simply accompanying a family friend to a social gathering. The two were intimate as teenagers. Although it’s over between them now, Serena holds a tragic event from their past over Rhett’s head to keep him in her life, and manipulate his feelings of guilt. Again, I really admired Ava in that she saw right through this woman, and didn’t shy away from telling Rhett how she truly felt. Things do eventually reach a breaking point between Ava and Serena in a heated argument which takes place in a public restroom. This scene convinced me once and for all that no good can possibly come from using a public restroom in a romance novel. They might as well be called the cat-fight facilities. It’s practically a guarantee.

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Glossy Conversations

I will say I was slightly disappointed that what felt like some key scenes/discussions were glossed over, and I’m not just talking about the sex scenes! For example, after leaving the party where Rhett and Ava first meet, they head back to Rhett’s place. It mentions how they talk for hours getting to know each other. Next thing you know they have a deep emotional connection, and he’s uber possessive of their relationship. Now, I’m not expecting to be privy to every single thing they discussed, but I felt that their connection seemed rather abrupt and sudden by not going into detail about at least some of their conversation. What was it exactly that brought them together beyond just a heated exchange at a party?

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

Series: Blackwood Series, book 1. Things do end on a cliffhanger as the situation with Serena, Rhett and Ava gets kind of out of control. It’ll be interesting to see how things come together in the next book.

Should you read it? A unique relationship with a lot of moving pieces that come together for the cliffhanger ending. Things did sort of drag a bit towards the end as preparations are outlined in detail for Ava’s sister’s wedding. However, it has an emotional ending which really demonstrates the importance of family. I’ll admit I did kind of want to smack Rhett upside the head by the end of it, considering his inability to reach out to Ava during her time of need via phone, text, email, handwritten letter, sky writer, or even a freakin’ carrier pigeon.

Smut Level: They spend a lot of time in bed doing the deed, but we usually aren’t privy to the details.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Independently Published. 423 Pages.

Headed to the Beach!

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

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

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

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Lovers at Heart by Melissa Foster

I’m…confused. And frustrated.

What’s it About?

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Handsome, wealthy resort owner Treat Braden is used to getting what he wants. When Max Armstrong walked into his life six months earlier, he saw right through the efficient and capable façade she wore like a shield, to the sweet, sensual woman who lay beneath. She sparked an unfamiliar desire in him for more than a one-night stand, leaving his heart reeling and his blood boiling. But one mistake caused her to turn away, and now, after six months of longing for the one woman he cannot have, he’s going home to try to forget her all together.

Max Armstrong has a successful career, a comfortable lifestyle, and she’s never needed a man to help her find her way–until Treat Braden caught her attention at a wedding in Nassau, causing a surge of emotions too reminiscent of the painful past she’d spent years trying to forget. Max will do anything to avoid reliving that pain–including forgoing her toe-curling, heart-pounding desire for Treat.

When a chance encounter turns into a night of intense passion, Treat realizes that the mistake he made six months earlier may cause him to lose Max completely. He will do everything within his power to win her heart forever–and Max is forced to face her hurtful past head on for the man she cannot help but love.

First Impressions

This book is marked as “book 1” in the Bradens series, but this novel is obviously a continuation of events which took place in a previous book. Our two main characters met six months ago at a wedding, and it sounds like some sh*t went down there! I was so upset that we were never privy to this firsthand, as it made it almost impossible to understand the dynamic between our two characters. References are made that they were stuck in a boat together at one point?! After some further digging, it looks like although this series is marked as a stand-alone series, it’s actually part and parcel to the Love in Bloom series. My advice: read them in order!

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The Frustration Continues

Our female lead, Max, is one of the most frustrating characters I’ve ever come across. Honestly, I felt like she wasn’t really worthy of Treat. Apparently, Treat thought she had a one-night stand with another dude, even though they had some chemistry of their own. So, the next day, he kind of gives her a judgmental look.

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Every time he tries to apologize for this somewhat douchey move, she won’t give him the chance to get a word in edgewise. Therefore, he leaves her alone. Then she pursues him, but quickly comes up with some silly reason of why they can’t be together, so she runs from him. He tries to reason with her, and bring some compromise into their relationship, but she refuses to listen, and runs anyway. Her inability to listen to him at any point during the novel just seemed rather short-sighted to me.

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As if that wasn’t enough, Max then gets upset that Treat didn’t run after her! Dude, you’ve rejected this guy about 6 times now. How many times do you really expect him to come running, especially after you insist there’s no relationship between you two? It’s almost like this woman craves drama.

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

Series: The Bradens, book 1. Love in Bloom, book 4. I found it extremely difficult to understand what happened between these two characters in previous novels. Read in order!

Should you read it? It’s really hard to judge this one seeing as it felt like I came into the middle of the series. Perhaps if I’d read them in order I would have had a more positive experience. However, I still found Max to be a rather annoying character who consistently ran from a great man.

Smut Level: There are some steamy scenes, including one in a bathtub.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.00 Kindle Price. World Literary Press. 386 Pages.

Tall, Dark and Damaged by Sarah Andre

Gott im Himmel! I felt like this book was one continual rolling ball of anxiety. You never really got a chance to breathe until the last page. And even then you think back on everything that just happened, and you feel an overwhelming need for a glass of wine and a bubble bath.

What’s it About?

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His Life Changed in a Heartbeat
Disinherited as a teen, Devon Ashby returns home twelve years later as a ruthless CEO, brilliant at negotiating deals, but emotionally stunted. In an instant all he’s struggled to build implodes. Amid the turmoil of saving his company from a hostile takeover, his engagement to a business partner’s high-society daughter hits the rocks. Compounding his troubles, he encounters his high school sweetheart, whose heart he smashed. The vulnerability she awakens leaves him at greater risk than all the crises he faces.

Her Dream Job May Get Her Killed
While restoring art in a billionaire’s private gallery, Hannah Moore is unwittingly drawn into the dysfunctional family’s confidences. When she discovers the rich developer behind her and her sick aunt’s eviction is the family’s black-sheep son—the lover she’s never gotten over—her desire turns to fury. Always one to avoid conflict, Hannah must stand up to Devon and the growing menace of someone who thinks she knows too much.

A Decades-Old Secret Turns Deadly
When a family member is murdered, Devon and Hannah become ensnared in sibling greed, festering jealousy, and a tragic secret that’s divided the family. Amid their reigniting passion they race to expose the killer before they become the next victims in this cat-and-mouse game of survival.

First Impressions

In a word, this book was intense. There’s a ton of intrigue, from start to finish, and a whole hell of a lot happening in between. Devon is on the verge of losing his business to his father via hostile takeover, he’s about to get married, and he just ran into his high school sweetheart. Oh, and then there’s the matter of his mother’s apparent suicide years beforehand which he assumes was murder, not to mention a new murder which takes place on his family’s estate, and he just happens to be a suspect. And that’s just what’s going on with Devon! I haven’t even gotten around to all the drama that’s happening with Hannah!

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Squirming Ball of Nerves

Now, I know this is going to sound really really weird, but sometimes books like this almost make me too anxious and fidgety. Something about the fact that everything which could possibly go wrong does go wrong makes it seem like the entire world is crashing down on our characters. That being said, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a weirdo. Although this kind of plot turns me into a squirming ball of nerves, I realize that most normal people out there like when a book is jam packed full of this many twists and turns.

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It Comes Together Nicely!

Although the build-up pretty much had me rocking back and forth in the fetal position, the ending was fantasmically awesome! It really plays out like a movie, with every scene described in such vivid detail that you could really picture everything playing out with absolute clarity. Another unique feather of this ending is that although it ends happily, it in no way ends perfectly.

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Stuff goes down! Not every character meets a happy end, and not every plot twist is wrapped up in a nice, neat little bow. Normally, I’m not a huge fan when this happens, but in this case I think it actually worked! The aspects which aren’t resolved tie into the overall moral of the story of identifying what truly matters in life. If it’s not important, there’s no need to focus so much attention on resolving it now. Focus on what really counts instead.

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

Series: Dramatic stand-alone to bring to the beach.

Should you read it? This one will certainly keep you on your toes, and bouncing in your chair until the very end. Even I was surprised by how it ended! Usually I can guess our “who done it” pretty early on, but this one threw me for a loop. At times, I felt it was a tad too heavy on the business side of the plot dealing with stakeholders, shareholders, SEC stuff, trusts, and other jargon I’m not going to pretend to understand.

Smut Level: There is only one sex scene in this book, and you definitely have to wait around for it, but good God is it a good one! It’s got everything I love: a thunderstorm, a library, and some delightful dirty talk. Yummmmmy.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Beach Reads Publishing. 297 Pages.

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Shades of Blue by Dana Tanaro Britt

I feel like this is one of those books where bad things just keep happening, and you wonder why the characters can’t take a 90 minute break to watch a happy Disney movie.

What’s it About? 

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Heart-broken and reeling with grief, widowed writer Charlie flees to a far-flung tropical island in search of a safe haven where she can let her treasured memories consume her. Hiding away from the world, she battles nightmares and fresh tragedy while trying to make sense of her new reality. Living his island dream, firefighter-turned-fisherman Gabe Montgomery is determined to be Charlie’s port in her storm of pain and loss. Blindsided by life-changing revelations from his own past followed by the possibility of a terrifying personal loss, Gabe realizes that sometimes letting go is as much a part of love as holding on. When Charlie and Gabe discover a powerful connection and cling to one another for comfort and hope, both face a frightening dilemma: surrender to the past, or face the challenge and promise of a life together. Will the memories and mistakes of the past consume them or can Charlie and Gabe hold fast to each other and the hope that will bring them to a promising future together?

First Impressions

So Charlie has escaped to a tropical island, leaving her family and friends behind, to mourn the death of her husband in total solitude. Does anybody else feel like this is a recipe for some intense therapy sessions? Based on the synopsis, I thought this book would be about Charlie moving on from grief, but intsead she chooses to wallow in it. Sure, I felt bad for Charlie, but I also felt really bad for Gabe. He can tell that she’s hurting, and just wants to provide her with a small amount of solace by speaking to her a little bit each day, but he definitely wasn’t equipped to counsel a grieving widow.

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What Else Can Happen? 

Charlie is so heartbroken over the death of her husband, and unfortunately Gabe’s brief chats are too little, too late. Her overwhelming grief causes her to have an emotional meltdown which forces her into a 10 day coma. She then wakes up with no memory of the past 2 months, her husband’s death, or her children. All she knows is that Gabe’s voice comforts her, and she feels safe with him. Gabe then finds out he has a daughter he never knew about from a one night stand years before, and he and his best friend eventually get lost at sea. What other drama can we plop onto these people?! I know! How about Gabe’s daughter Rory falls sick from a deadly illness? Okay!

Again, I thought that this book would provide some kind of lesson about how to move on from intense grief due to the loss of a loved one. Well, it looks like the only real way to start living your life again is to lose your memory. It is only when Charlie forgets her husband that she is able to let go of the sadness and heartbreak she once possessed over losing him. I have a feeling that if she’d never gone into a coma, she probably would have fallen deeper into such a dark depression that she never would have escaped with her life.

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Where the Hell is this Island? 

Gosh, this place is harder to find than Gilligan’s island! As far as I can recall, we are never given a name of the island, or its exact location. All we really know is that it’s a tropical island. However, its probable location in the Caribbean doesn’t really make sense with some references to the time difference on the mainland. For instance, at one point it’s 2am on the island, and Gabe makes a phone call to his family in New England, where it’s the early afternoon. This would make for an almost 12 hour time difference, which would actually place the island somewhere near the Philippines. Not exactly the tropics. It might seem silly to harp on this for so long, but the island’s location actually becomes crucial to a key aspect of Charlie’s husband’s death. Even the smallest of details is important to the story.

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

Series: An Island Sanctuary series, book 1.

Should you read it? It dragged on a bit too long for my taste. You don’t find out what happened to Charlie’s husband until the very very end, which was too long of a wait. Then there is this bombshell of a plot point revealed practically on the last page, and it’s just sort of brushed aside. Kind of disappointing.

Smut Level: There are a few love scenes, and many instances of a leg being shoved between her knees, but nothing too graphic.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Published by Booktrope. 230 Pages.

Forever with Me by Kristen Proby

This is the last book in the With Me in Seattle series. But WHYYYYY?!?!?!?! I loved every single book in this series, and this one was no exception. It’s the end of a saga, the end of an era, the end of our lives as we know it! Ok, that may have been too much, but at least you get the picture that I’m so sad to see this series draw to a close. In each book we are presented with a pretty strong female lead, as well as an affectionate male character with alpha tendencies who isn’t afraid of public displays of affection. If anything he might want to be a tad more reserved when it comes to those PDAs. Although reading about the sexual activities that these characters engage in in a public setting is quite scintillating.

forever with meAt the end of the previous novel in this series, Breathe with Me, we were offered a glimpse at the beginning attraction between the Italian half-brother of the Montgomery clan, Dominic Salvatore, and their unofficial family party coordinator, Alecia. In this novel, we see how Dominic has been pining for Alecia for over a year, but she constantly refuses his advances. Enter some advice from a few of his strong-willed sisters, and Dominic is finally able to win a coveted date from the lovely event planner. Their subsequent romance is heated, passionate, but of course not without some issues.

Honestly, of all the books in this series Dominic is probably one of my favorite male characters. He’s loving and caring, Italian (hello sexy accent), he owns a vineyard, and has a tendency to forget his English when sexually active. Mamma mia! He also doesn’t take no for an answer, but not in a chauvinistic or infuriating way. He isn’t out to just conquer Alecia sexually, but realizes he is drawn to her and she to him, and that they should explore these feelings they have for one another. Alecia was also a very strong-willed female character with her own successful business, and she didn’t really let her romance with Dominic turn her into a withering heap of fragility. When compared to the other books, this one probably had the tamest of all side stories. There were no stalkers out to kill either of our main characters, or an overwhelming media frenzy which threatened to tear our two lovebirds apart. They basically just had some trust issues, but who doesn’t? Alecia doesn’t believe in everlasting true love, and Dominic takes a situation out of context and assumes that Alecia cheated on him. You know, typical relationship issues.

Even though I am saddened to see that this series is coming to a close, this book was actually a great way to end it. Because Alecia is the main party coordinator for all of the Montgomery family’s events, we get to see all of the characters come back from the previous novels. It was fun trying to think back on all of the stories and couples that had come before, and see what their lives are like now after their happily ever afters. And although there are eight books in total with this series, each character is so unique with their own personality that it wasn’t too hard to remember all of their individual stories. That being said, there is a family tree at the very end of the book which was definitely welcome to keep them all straight. Kristen Proby is a master of detail and has the ability to make you feel like one of the gang. The female characters in particular are really fun, especially when they get drunk, and are prone to discussions concerning the multiple orgasms their husbands give them. Sounds like a fun night out on the town. Count me in next time ladies!

I would definitely recommend this entire series to those of you who are looking for great tales of romance, as well as some deliciously descriptive, yet not disgusting, sex scenes. The love these couples have for each other is intense, passionate, and I think every single male lead can be described as a more than talented alpha male in the sack. Each book is also quite funny, and is guaranteed to make you laugh a few times. Not at the sex though. Oh no, that is no laughing matter. More of a “let me fan myself immediately from all of this steaminess before I pass out” matter.

Series: With Me in Seattle series, book 8. The last…one. Cue tears.

Should you read this series? Do it!! The first book in the series is Come Away with Me. Get started already! I could actually see myself re-reading this series again in the future. Now, if you don’t like this series, well then I’m sorry for singing it’s praises here.

Smut Level: This entire series is habanero pepper level of hotness. They do it everywhere, some characters are kinkier than others, and there are some very eloquent dirty talk speeches. That being said, each book usually has a pretty romantic love story going on in addition to wild and crazy sex, and each couple has a unique story. In essence they are ideal beach reads.

Buy it on Amazon: Click Here