Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

From New Zealand to Los Angeles, sometimes you have to take a chance and go the distance for true love. Even when it involves a world famous rock star.

What’s it About?

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A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk… Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be… Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

First Impressions

The meet cute is everything in a romance novel. When Molly first sets her eyes on Fox, in person, for the first time she is immediately smitten. She’s aware of his rock-star status, and is undeniably drawn to his sex appeal and dark persona. As someone who’s always played by the rules, Molly admits to herself that she could see herself taking a chance with this one. Even if it’s just for one night. Fox on the other hand? He’s been eyeing her from across the room all night long. He knows that Molly isn’t just someone he wants to take to bed, but rather is someone he wants to have a future with. She’s different than other women, and he’s dead set on convincing her that he’s different than other men. That they have a connection which is worth more than one night.

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Now, why was it that Fox’s commitment beam was focused so specifically on Molly? Honestly, I have…no…idea. And it bugs me! Throughout the whole novel I kept waiting around for some sort of explanation, or window into what Fox was feeling that night. How, considering his life in the limelight, he knew that this woman was so different than any other woman who had come before. Sure, we could say that it’s because she just wanted one night with him when other women had always demanded more. We could perhaps theorize that it’s because Molly’s sister is his PR rep, and maybe she had shared with him the details of how amazing and special her sister was. But we never hear that from Fox directly, and it’s kind of killing me to wonder how he knew before even speaking to her that she was worth pursuing so vehemently. Perhaps we’re dealing with a rock star with a bad case of love at first sight.

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From Part 1 to 2

While I didn’t really understand the logistics of their initial meet-cute, I must say the progression of their relationship was addicting to behold. A note to all the romance authors out there, this book is the perfect example of how to divide a novel into multiple parts. Part 1 of the book is set entirely in New Zealand, and is mainly focused on laying the foundation of Molly and Fox’s relationship. They’re getting to know each other, both physically and emotionally, and Fox is trying his damnedest to convince Molly to take a chance on him. She’s hesitant to enter into a long-term romantic relationship with him because she knows that if the paparazzi catch wind of their affair, then the sordid details of her family’s past will come to light. She’ll have to relive it all. But with Fox by her side, she realizes it just might be worth the risk. Cue Part 2.

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About halfway through the book we get a “Part 2” heading, and we immediately switch gears to Fox’s home turf in Los Angeles. The focus changes to living life in the fast lane, and wondering if their relationship is strong enough to face the pressures of reality and celebrity. And I must say, it’s unbelievable how important that little “Part 2” heading was. If it hadn’t been indicated, I think the book would have felt ridiculously disconnected, almost as though we were dealing with two books smashed together into one. But just by having that little heading, I was able to mentally prepare myself for the story to veer off into another direction. This is when Molly and Fox’s relationship is truly put to the test.

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Testing the Waters

There are bound to be disagreements and arguments in every relationship, especially when a couple moves in together. Considering this particular couple is moving in together after only knowing each other for a month, he’s a famous rock star, and she left behind all she knew in New Zealand to be with him? Yeah, you can prepare yourself for a spat or two. Now, I must say at times I found their dynamics during these arguments to be somewhat problematic. It seemed like Molly was always the one apologizing to Fox for whatever disagreement they seemed to be having. For example, at one point after the move to Los Angeles they get into a fight because she decides to buy groceries for them,  considering he’s always the one to purchase things.

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Fox kind of goes off the rails and says she needs to get used to the fact that he’ll want to spoil her a bit and pay for things. Mkay, I must say this kind of upset me. This woman just quit her job, said goodbye to all of her friends, packed up, and moved all the way to the other side of the world to be with him. She’s getting situated into a new life where she’s trying to feel needed, helpful, useful, and instead she feels guilty for always accepting his money. Let her pay for the damn groceries! If this is a way that she feels she can contribute to the relationship while she’s trying to get her life in order as he creates music all day, why use it as a source for an argument? Just have kitchen sex or something and get over it. It’s just one example, but there were a few times in the novel where it seemed like Fox would kind of snip at Molly for trying to acclimate to his world.

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The Truth Comes Out

Throughout the entire novel we are waiting for two major reveals. The first is the truth surrounding Molly’s family, specifically her father. The details are hinted at here and there, but we really have to wait a while before Molly has an honest and open discussion with Fox about the particulars. And I must say it is an utterly heartbreaking reveal. It finally makes sense why Molly was so hesitant to enter into a relationship with Fox. She didn’t want the paparazzi to start digging into her past, and drudge up all the horrific memories she’s tried to put behind her for so long. However, this sad past also highlights the beauty of her present relationship with Fox. She’s finally living her life for herself, taking chances and making decisions based on what she thinks will bring her true happiness. And for her that means Fox. He helps her learn how to live in the moment, and understand that a future with him can bring even more joy and love. Quite touching!

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The other big moment that we’re waiting around for is the discovery of Molly and Fox’s relationship by the paparazzi. And of course something else which goes hand-in-hand with that: the insinuation by the paparazzi of infidelity. There was no way it could be avoided, but there’s the constant wonder of when and how it will happen. And when it finally does I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the aftermath. At first Molly is devastated, and her flight response kicks in. But then lo and behold she does something that most romance novel leading ladies in a similar situation always seem incapable of. She takes a moment to breathe, calm down, and think things through logically. Molly reminds herself of not only how much she loves Fox, but all the different ways he’s convinced her of how dedicated he is to her. She then proceeds to talk to him about her fears and doubts, and together they are able to find their way through the mishaps and misunderstandings. Who knew they could be such cool-headed adults!! Did it make for a somewhat uneventful read when dramatic reveals were handled in such a mindful way? Sure, in a way, but it was also unbelievably refreshing to not once again see a female lead who could be so easily dismayed and swindled by gossip rags.

Series: Rock Kiss, book 1. I’m excited to see the romance stories of our other bad boy members of the band who played such crucial supplemental roles in this first story. Each musician appears to have a distinct personality, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them more.

Should you read it? Definitely an interesting story arch as we see our couple build their relationship from the coast of New Zealand to the fast pace of LA. They have their ups and downs along the way, with both of their pasts coming back to test them. However, they also find strength in each other, which helps them through the inevitable challenges of fame and romance. I do wish we learned a bit more of the impetus for Fox’s initial link to Molly, and why he was so willing to fight for her considering the start of their relationship was primarily based around sex. They eventually develop a heartwarming emotional connection that has you crossing your fingers in the hope that they’ll succeed through all the paparazzi mayhem. Personally I really enjoyed their ability to not give into the artificial drama which was being created around them, but instead they could focus on the importance of their own relationship and that with their closest friends and band mates.

Smut Level: This romance definitely has an interesting balance of scenes which are kind of glossed over, and then others which are provided in explicit detail. You never quite know what you’re gonna get!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. TKA Distribution. 406 Pages.

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White Roses in Winter by Barbara Meyers

Will one night of romance on the beach turn into a lifetime of happiness?

What’s it About?

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The princess. The pauper. And a shotgun…The only thing Jason is focused on is getting through his last year of college. But the instant attraction between him and Kerrie leads to one unforgettable night together. When Kerrie’s wealthy, overly-protective father learns she is pregnant, he arranges a temporary marriage to teach her a lesson about choices and consequences. Jason reluctantly agrees to keep his participation in the plan a secret, because it’s the only way he can safeguard his future and his family. Kerrie is blinded by her romantic fantasy and doesn’t suspect she’s been set up. Meanwhile, Jason guards his heart and vows that when Kerrie leaves with their baby, he won’t beg her to stay. Just when it seems a future together is possible, lies, betrayal and deceit threaten to separate Kerrie and Jason forever. Faced with losing each other and their baby, will their fragile bond be strong enough?

First Impressions

Based on the synopsis, I was surprised to see how this novel actually started. I figured we’d witness the initial attraction between Jason and Kerrie which ultimately lead to her ending up pregnant before the two get married. Imagine my surprise when instead we open on a pill-popping woman named Tiffany who watches on in pure disdain as Jason and Kerrie wander back to her birthday house party after a tumble on a sandy beach. She wants Jason for herself, and although Kerrie is her “friend”, she is filled with an overwhelming amount of hatred towards her for stealing her crush out from under her. Switch to the next scene, and Tiffany is pushed to the background to instead focus on Kerrie discovering her pregnancy, and the progression of her marriage to Jason.

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A unique start to be sure considering our meet-cute is introduced through the eyes of a troubled and hate-filled character. Although I must admit this was an interesting way to start off our romantic tale, I couldn’t help but feel that I missed some of the initial connection between Kerrie and Jason seeing as we never really witnessed it directly. The evening’s activities do sort of come together piecemeal throughout the rest of the novel, as we see things from both Kerrie and Jason’s point of view. However, considering this is the very first crucial introduction to their relationship, and we see it through Tiffany’s jealousy and contempt, it seems we lost some of the magic which could have helped explain why these two characters felt a connection in the first place. I guess in my humble opinion the moment didn’t receive the proper attention that it deserved considering it’s the foundation and impetus for their entire future together.

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An Unnecessary Marriage?

I found myself asking a lot of questions throughout Jason and Kerrie’s relationship, and ultimately I’m not sure they were all answered. Or at least, they left me a bit confused. The first I sort of brushed upon in my intro, which was why exactly these two came together in the first place. Neither are “beach sex” kind of people, so they must have seen something in the other which pushed them to throw their inhibitions to the wind, but again this moment never really had the focus and attention I think it deserved. Especially considering what comes next. Their marriage.

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Honestly, I’m still sort of scratching my head over this one. I understand why Kerrie wanted to keep the baby, but I don’t really understand why she felt the need to marry Jason. Couldn’t they try dating for a while? Was a ceremony really necessary? It is sort of implied the marriage was a result of family pressure, specifically from Kerrie’s father, but when he goes to speak with Jason about the prospect of marrying his daughter he openly admits he doesn’t want them to marry. After they do marry her father tries to show Kerrie how unfit Jason is as a husband, and takes some rather drastic steps in an attempt to keep them apart. The whole situation just seemed to constantly contradict itself.

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As for Jason, he acknowledges to himself that he wants to be a part of his child’s life, whether his marriage to Kerrie succeeds or fails. Yet when Kerrie first moves in after their wedding Jason actively ignores her, and tries to limit their interaction whenever possible. I just had trouble understanding the dynamic in the beginning. Wouldn’t he want to be somewhat agreeable if he plans to stay in his child’s life forever, and this is his child’s mother? That being said, I’m happy to say that eventually their tale of romance all comes together for a fantastic conclusion. You really come to root for these two to succeed as a couple, and when they finally learn how to talk to each other and open up about their feelings? Well you just wanna cheer for their success. We see how they find strength when they’re together as a unit. As a family. And nothing could possibly keep them apart.

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The Disapproving Parents

That being said, Kerrie’s mother and father certainly go to some extreme lengths to try and keep these two apart. On the one hand, I found it really difficult to understand how her parents could be so cruel in their attempt to keep Jason away from Kerrie. She’s pregnant for crying out loud, you really wanna risk upsetting her because you don’t approve of the lad? When they do manage to separate the two of them at one point in the story it’s clear how distraught Kerrie is at the separation, and yet they continue to keep her locked away from him like a defenseless animal in a cage. I feel like my parents would be too fearful of my wrath to ever pull this kind of stunt if I were to catch on to their antics.

870307_029Although I had such trouble picturing this scenario with any sense of reality to it, I must say on the other hand I could totally understand it, 100%! It really wasn’t until the very end though that it all came together for me. Throughout the whole thing I kept thinking, what kind of dick parents are these?! To keep their daughter miserable. To be so unnecessarily over-protective. But then, when father and daughter finally have their heart-to-heart conversation at the end? Man, it got to me! As a daddy’s girl, and as the baby of my own family, it finally made sense. To see the lengths two parents would go to in the hopes of protecting their baby from harm. For them to eventually go through the sad realization that she’s not a baby anymore. They have to let her go and live her life. I must say, it was a frustrating road to travel, but in the end it had the most touching and heartfelt of conclusions.

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The Intermittent Villain

Every once in a while throughout this tale of pregnancy, family drama and romance we would see an unexpected reappearance of Tiffany. Don’t tell me you forgot about her already! Our troubled “friend” of Kerrie’s who first witnessed the connection of our lovebirds, and was filled with overwhelming hatred for Kerrie at the sight of it. With every reappearance of Tiffany throughout the book we see that her feelings of ill-will and increased pill-popping is building up to something momentous. While our tale does start and end with Tiffany, thereby coming completely full-circle, I couldn’t help but feel that her villainous story-line was slightly out of place, or maybe unnecessary.

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Kerrie and Jason are dealing with enough drama for crying out loud. They’re trying to figure out how to live with each other, not to mention they have a baby on the way, and her disapproving parental units are acting up. This element of a covetous ex-friend took things slightly over the top for me. Her character definitely brought some high-level suspense to the story, but I think the story also would have felt more realistic without this component to it. Especially considering it was really hard to comprehend why Kerrie and Tiffany would have been friends for so long. Let’s just say her bouts of crazy go back quite a long time!

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

Series: Stand-alone romance

Should you read it? It did take a while for Kerrie and Jason to form an emotional bond.  The scenes of them getting to know each other and playing house after their wedding drag on for a bit of an awkward pace. I also wish Kerrie’s pregnancy had been featured more prominently. While it was what brought them together at the start, the details of her being pregnant were pushed to the side that I sort of forgot she was even pregnant at times! If only they could have gone to some doctor’s appointments together, experienced some emotion at seeing that first sonogram photo, go through strange cravings, changing dress sizes, or morning sickness! While we don’t really see any of this, it’s definitely worth sticking around for the end, as this is when the magic of their relationship and Kerrie’s interactions with her parents come to the forefront.

Smut Level: Nothing too overly graphic. There is one kind of awkward scene as they get intimate while Kerrie’s breastfeeding. I feel like having a baby staring at you with big bright eyes while your lover kisses down your throat would sort of kill the mood. But hey, whatever does it for ya!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Barbara Meyers LLC. 375 Pages.

The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber

The courtroom antics of our lead characters are like foreplay. Constantly going toe-to-toe certainly heats things up a bit!

What’s it About? 

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Gabrielle Ginsberg is a public defender with plenty of nerve and Braden Pierce is an assistant district attorney with a whole lot of swagger. Together Gabrielle and Braden discover that the path to true love is not always smooth, and is sometimes tread upon by some really wacky people like crazy ex-girlfriends, kinky politicians and a gentleman who throws a wine and cheese party in his pants. Can true love overcome a lack of privacy, interference by jealous rivals and the insanity of the criminal court system? Find out in the book that reviewers called a “Stand-out Romantic Comedy.”

First Impressions

Overall this was a light and fun read with a steamy side to boot. When this novel first started I’ll admit I was slightly worried about what it would entail. Our lead characters start off with fun courtroom banter as opposing counsels for the Public Defenders office. Braden represents the prosecution; Gabrielle the defense. I was immediately put on edge with the worry that eventually these two must get involved in a courtroom drama, have a misunderstanding about a case, or somehow or other become enemies at some point in the game.

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However, I must say it was delightfully refreshing that for the most part this novel remains a funny comedy, with these two facing off in some of the silliest cases imaginable. You can’t help but giggle aloud at the ridiculousness of the grandma in her 80s caught with a pound of marijuana, the 75 year old man found guilty of reckless driving as he sped to get to his woman while his erection was still good to go, or the frat boy in trouble for going through a drive-through window naked and asking the cashier to get a load of his “whopper”. All in all, these courtroom scenes provided nothing but laughs, and drama was nowhere to be found.

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Lack of Substance

I would also have to say that this is one of the main detractors from the book being perfect, which is there’s really no drama. Or evena major plot point until really late in the game. The first half or so primarily focuses on the development of our lovebird’s relationship, as well as the aforementioned courtroom fun. But I’ll never forget reading this in bed one night and thinking, soooooo is anything of substance actually going to happen here, or is this just going to be a continual blend of fun-loving crazy antics and their sexual relationship building a solid foundation? Eventually we do get what is supposed to be the main crux of the novel, and that is the fact that Gabrielle receives two anonymous letters warning her off of our perfect male specimen, Braden. That’s when my attention definitely perked up as I thought, ahhhhh, are we going to have a twist from comedic chick-lit to romantic suspense????

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Mystery Letters

The answer to that previous question is hell to-the-ever-loving no. Gabrielle’s approach to these mystery letters was by far my least favorite aspect of the book. As most of you would probably expect in this situation, she downplays the threat entirely and doesn’t tell Braden or the police that she’s been receiving them. Such a familiar and frustrating romance novel trope. Now, I will say her reason for not going to the police was probably the best explanation I’ve ever seen in a romance novel.

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She explains that technically the letters aren’t threatening her, but rather just warning her away from Braden. She suspects that three different people could possibly be responsible for sending the letters. However, she doesn’t want to go around falsely accusing people who are pretty prominent members of society, and could potentially have very negative repercussions for these people’s interactions with Braden’s politician father. All in all, a pretty logical explanation. But I feel like my first gut reaction in such a situation would be to immediately rush to Braden and be like, yo who the hell could this be from? She doesn’t want to unnecessarily worry him for fear that he’d overreact and get uber protective. Well, then open your mouth and at least have a conversation about it. He is your lover after all.

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The most ridiculous aspect though was how Gabrielle goes about trying to find out the identity of the letter writer. She employs the help of her friends to try and get handwriting samples from each of her three suspects which she can then take to a handwriting expert. The shenanigans that these people get into were so over-the-top my head hurt. From scrounging around in one suspect’s trash, to dressing up in costumes and attending a secret sex club, to having her one friend convince a suspect to write down every way he’s been a naughty boy. I mean…come on now. Let’s try and keep some sense of reality to the situation. You’re telling me doing all of that shit was less troublesome than just having a frank conversation with your boyfriend?

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Series: Lawyers in Love, book 1. This book shockingly kind of ends on a cliffhanger, as we don’t actually discover the identity of our mystery writer. I must find out!

Should you read it? Overall a very funny read, although pretty lacking in plot. I loved the courtroom scenes, many of which had me giggling out loud. The sexual chemistry between our two leads will leave you panting. The letter storyline just didn’t come together for me, especially considering the identity of the writer is never disclosed. Plus the cray cray shenanigans Gabrielle and her friends get into were over-the-top, and really detracted from the flow of the book.

Smut Level: If it pleases the court, I must say this book had all kinds of pleasurable sexiness in it. As Gabrielle’s outspoken grandmother says, you can’t neglect your oral skills when trying to make your relationship last. Based on this sentiment, Gabrielle and Braden will be pleasantly happy for years and years to come.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE Kindle Price. Mendelssohn Levy Publishing. 242 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? 

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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*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.

 

 

A Drop of Paradise by Alex L. Michaels

Ahoy ladies and gents! In this steamy romance we have white sand beaches, crystal clear blue water, a city girl outside her comfort zone, a ruggedly handsome boat captain willing to show her a good time, and a few bullets flying past their heads. I mean, pretty much everything you need for a beach read!

What’s it About? 

She needs peace and quiet. He’s a distraction.

She wants to be left alone. He’s inevitable.

She has a writer’s block. He might be the cure.

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The only thing Jessica Slade wanted was some peace and quiet, and to finally finish her book. So, a place called A Drop of Paradise was supposed to do the trick. With its stunning sandy beaches, crystal clear, aquamarine waters and tropical sunsets, it was supposed to cure more than a writer’s block. But, when an unfortunate series of events leaves her stranded on a remote island with an overbearing, arrogant, roguish, but ruggedly handsome stranger, her life starts to seem much more like the romance novels that she writes about. Broad-shouldered Mike Stone is irresistible, sexy and cooler than a mojito in your hand, and maybe even a perfect, muscled ideal for the cover of her next novel, but not all the imagination in the world could prepare her for what can happen between two strangers on a spit of sand, when sparks start to fly and anger turns to lust.

First Impressions

Within the first few chapters of this novel I couldn’t help but compare it to a combination of Romancing the Stone and Six Days, Seven Nights. Our heroine is a successful romance novelist who’s seeking some peace and quiet on a beach far removed from the stresses of her life, both professionally and personally. She quickly encounters a ruggedly dashing boat captain named Mike who is determined to show her a good time, both socially and sexually.

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The two proceed to get lost and stranded on a few different islands in the Caribbean. Nothing too overly dire, but definitely some adventures that put a wrench in Jessica’s plans to relax. Throughout this time our leads run into a variety of oftentimes kooky characters with their own personalities, not to mention some elements of danger as storms approach and bullets fly. Quite the engaging read!

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Let’s Talk About Sex…ual Tension

For the love of all that is holy these two have a sexual attraction that is hotter than the Caribbean sun. Practically from the moment they meet Mike turns on his flirtatious charms, and while Jessica tries her best to keep him away from her enticing lips, well, let’s just say she fails miserably. It’s not long before these two engage in some powerful make out sessions. I seriously lost count of the number of times Mike either stomped up to Jessica to grab her face in his hands and crush their lips together, or she would try to turn away from him only to have him grasp her arm and spin her around into his chest for a heady lip-lock.

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However, something that initially adds to the overall comedic aspect of the novel is the fact that these two are always interrupted from taking things further. Oh don’t get me wrong, they definitely have their moments of grinding on each other, nipple brushes, and legs being lifted up higher for the optimal rubbing angle. Unfortunately, whether it be flying bullets, an old island man seeking help with his rusty boat, or friends walking in on them, the two never seem to have the chance to get each other completely naked. After a while I actually questioned if it would ever happen, and if it did I assumed we’d be privy to one quick scene and that’d be it. Boy was I wrong! Towards the very end of the novel we sort of switch gears from adventurous comedic romance to full on erotica. Somewhat disjointed, but I for one won’t complain.

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Let’s Take a Look at Them Bullets!

As I’ve mentioned a few times now, there are moments when Jessica and Mike will be locked in an intimate embrace, or perhaps even arguing with each other, when a bullet will fly overhead. There are a few other minor suspicious things that take place, but all in all I’d have to say this dramatic side to the story never really came full circle for me. I think it was introduced well enough, as we wonder why anyone would possibly have something against this well-known romance novelist.

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But then this element disappears from the story for a pretty large portion of the novel, and is then quickly resolved with very little explanation at the last moment. I feel like we never truly get to understand the motive behind this hidden gunman before it’s simply brushed aside. If it had been more fully incorporated into the overall story I think this really would have had a huge, positive impact to the arch of the plot.

A Hesitant Heroine

Outside factors are often the primary inhibitors to our lead characters reaching sexual fulfillment. That being said, there were also a few moments when Jessica herself would put a stop to things. To say that this would cause Mike an exorbitant amount of frustration is quite the understatement. She had the tendency to go from burning up fever hot to frigid cold in .05 seconds with no explanation whatsoever. She’d usually just run away from him if she could. At the end of the novel Jessica sort of explains that she was just scared to feel anything too much for him after being alone for so long. I gotta say though I wasn’t really buying her explanation. It lacked any real momentum behind it to the point where, similar to our hidden gunman, I feel like we never really learned her motivation/reasoning behind constantly pushing Mike away.

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

Series: I don’t think so, but there are a few secondary characters that I would just love to see featured in their own novel.

Should you read it? This is a quick, fun read. Certain details could have been expanded on a bit more, specifically why Jessica was so hesitant to pursue an intimate relationship with Mike, as well as the motivations of our villain. There were also a few grammar mistakes, but I’ve heard they’ve since been updated! Overall, a fun read to take to the beach. Just be sure you have a few Mai Tai’s on hand to cool off!

Smut Level: At first I questioned if we would ever get around to the good stuff. Then before you know it, BAM! We’ve got sensual scenes on beaches, dining room tables, and in showers with plenty of dirty talking description. Definitely worth the wait.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 285 Pages.

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Way Too Deep by Andrea K. Stein, Sawyer Stone

The flirtations between our lead couple are sometimes too hot to handle! I had a ridiculous laughing smirk on my face throughout most of this read.

What’s it About? 

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Captain Lindsay Fisher has committed the unthinkable in the tight little world of super yachting. She takes chances, she’s a little too abrasive, and oh yeah, she’s taken swearing like a sailor to a whole new level. Celebrity Chef Alton Maura earned the acclaimed “Kitchen God” title and basked in the international limelight for years until his affairs with his kitchen staff landed him in a poisonous stew. When Lindsay and Alton are thrown together on an uneasy cruise through the Grenadines, sparks fly. She doesn’t like his shoes, or his attitude. He can’t believe a woman who looks that good in a captain’s uniform can be such a hard ass. This is their last chance to prove themselves, but the worst thing you can do when trying to save your career is to fall in love…WAY TOO DEEP.

First Impressions

Good God this novel blasts off with a suspenseful start! We have a storm at sea, a sinking yacht, and a couple of sailors flung overboard. This is why we mere humans don’t belong out on the open ocean people! Phew, ok mini rant over. Lindsay and Alton are both at the ultimate low points in their careers. She has now lost two ships at sea, and he gave an entire room full of uppity socialites food poisoning. They see this next cruise as their one last chance to prove themselves. Problem is, they pretty much hate each other at the start. Lindsay is a strict captain who expects everyone to follow her every word, and Alton is the artistic chef who’s not used to living on a boat and working in a galley kitchen. He’s used to giving orders, not taking them. While initially at odds, they quickly come to realize they’ll need to rely on each other to make this trip a success. As well as an outlet to let off some…sexual tension.

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From One to the Next

If I had to summarize this book in one word it would be: fun! I was expecting the relationship between captain and chef to be the main focus of this book, but something I didn’t see coming was the plethora of supporting characters who really made this story such a comedic and fun read. With the introduction of every new character we get another crazy personality, and I just loved it. In particular I adored Lindsay’s uncle, Tommy, who starts off so rough and gruff, but also has such a sweet side to him. He provides the words of wisdom to both Lindsay and Alton regarding how they should approach a relationship with each other. He has read pretty much every issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in the Caribbean after all.

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In addition to our captain, chef and first mate, we have a smarmy Russian, a music mogul and his vegan-organic-gluten free girlfriend who is enthralled with herbal medical remedies. There’s the spoiled wife of the yacht owner who always has a wine glass in her hand, not to mention Alton in her sights. Lastly, the trip simply wouldn’t be complete without also having the mistress of the yacht owner on board, as well as his business partner who is a James Bond uber spy wannabe. And that’s just everyone staying on the yacht! It doesn’t include some of the other delightful people we meet on various islands and other vessels. While this motley crew of characters is slightly over-the-top, it never got to the point of being just plain ridiculous. It was just the right blend for me of silliness, sexiness, and even some suspense thrown in as well. There’s eventually an inkling of intrigue and espionage, seeing as our yacht owner is the one noticeable key player missing on this crazy cruise. The ending does sort of cross over into outlandish territory, yet considering this blend of characters and build-up of suspense it also does feel like an inevitable climactic end.

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Crullers and Eclairs

As I alluded to earlier, Lindsay and Alton don’t have the best first impression of each other. He thinks she’s a hard-ass bitch, and she sees him as a goody-two shoes chef who’s clearly in love with himself. That being said, they are both clearly attracted to the other, but they’re adamant that they shouldn’t make a move. For one, there’s too much at stake with this entire trip. In order for their careers to rebound, there can’t be any distractions. In addition, it’s funny how long it takes before they realize the other isn’t gay. To quote one of Alton’s thoughts, “…he had the feeling she might be more interested in thick-lipped crullers than cream-filled éclairs.” Not gonna lie, I chuckled like an idiot with every culinary sexual innuendo that Alton could think of, and believe me there were many to enjoy. As their trip through the Caribbean progresses, their sexual chemistry becomes more and more difficult to ignore. With so many small and cramped places on this yacht to get down and dirty, it’s not long before they can’t say no anymore.

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

Series: Love Overboard, book 1. I definitely want to continue with this series!

Should you read it? This pretty much checks off every point of a good beach read. It’s fun, kind of silly, but full of unique characters. The flirtatiousness of Lindsay and Alton had me giggling, yet their scenes in the bedroom had me fanning myself from all the heat. The intrigue surrounding the yacht owner was a bit much, and I wish he had been featured more throughout the novel. Also, be sure to have some appetizers on hand while you read this one, as the descriptions of Alton’s culinary creations will keep you hungry!

Smut Level: Romantic comedies aren’t always the sexiest of reads, but this one definitely stands out! We don’t just have a handful of passionate kisses which fade to black. Oh no, we get every delectable sexy detail!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Muirgen Publishing, LLC. 219 Pages.

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A Model Engagement by Charlotte O’Shay

Alright, after reading this book I have one very important question that must be answered immediately. Is Maryland actually considered to be part of the South?? Our female lead apparently has a southern accent that comes out when she lets her guard down, and she hails from Maryland. The reason I need this question answered is because as someone who lives in Washington, DC, right on the border with Maryland, I need to know if I should start implementing more “y’alls” into my daily vocabulary.

What’s It About? 

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Lacey Reed jumps at the chance for independence with a career in the big city. But her naivety and ambition blind her to the lure of a blackmailer. With her savings gone, she has nowhere to turn when she literally runs into financier Connor Devlin. Though dazzled by Lacey, Connor sees the desperation she tries to hide. His gut tells him to help, and he hires her as his fake fiancée. Now Lacey has a job, and Connor has put a bandage on a family crisis. When the blackmailer ups the ante, Lacey resolves to face him down—no matter what the consequences. Does that mean Lacey will lose the only man who’s ever seen who she truly is?

First Impressions

A passionate romance at a beach house in Montauk? Count me in! This is the second novel in the City of Dreams series, and something I really do appreciate about these tales of fake fiancées is how the author presents us with characters who truly seem to have no other option. I think it’s safe to assume that not many of us could imagine a scenario in which we would enter into a fake engagement with someone who is a near stranger. Surely there must be some other way to get over whatever hurdle is presented, right? However, I was surprised to find that in both of these novels the female leads clearly had no other choice, and in order to look out for themselves and those that they love they have to do something kind of crazy. Heck, I even found myself wanting to yell at them, “What is there to think over? The solution is right in front of you, just take it already!” Who knew I’d be so supportive of fake engagements?!

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A One Day Fiancée 

In this novel, Lacey agrees to become Connor’s fake fiancée in order to help him care for his mother who would otherwise refuse the help of someone hired to be there. She’s willing to enter into such an absurd arrangement because she’s desperate to pay off a blackmailer who has a video tape of her in a rather compromising situation. As I mentioned earlier, I definitely understand how Lacey’s desperation to prevent this tape from ever being released could push her into accepting this completely unorthodox position. Connor on the other hand?

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Connor has known Lacey for basically just one day. In that short amount of time he can clearly identify she’s desperate for money. But to have him trust her enough to take care of his ailing mother, and also suggest they pretend to be engaged? After just one day? I guess I found it easier to believe her motivations rather than his. I did like that later on Connor admits his suggestion that they enter into this ruse so quickly was one of the dumbest ideas he’d ever had, but in that moment where he first tells Lacey she’ll be his fake fiancée I couldn’t help but think, “Woah, that was fast”.

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Past Deeds Impact the Present

Shockingly, I found myself more enthralled with the story of Lacey’s blackmail rather than her romance with Connor. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved ALL the sexual tension going on with her and the hunky gentleman, but it seemed that Lacey’s growth as a character was more linked to this other story going on with her ass of a blackmailer. To summarize, Lacey used to be a model, and when she started coordinating on a new ad campaign with a man who was highly regarded in the industry, he drugged her and filmed the two of them in some non-consensual sexual scenarios. This man then proceeds to blackmail her, demanding payment which reduces all of her life savings to nothing.

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The absolute best part of this book was seeing Lacey transform herself from a victim into a survivor. She was able to stand up for herself on her own two feet, and face the piece of shit who abused and blackmailed her. Lacey had the courage to say, “no more”. What was even better was that she came to this decision completely on her own. Nobody had to convince her of it, or push her into it. I think her budding relationship with Connor did act as a sort of catalyst, showing her how good her life could be if she just gets rid of the dead weight dragging her down. To see a woman who was at the end of her rope decide to rely on herself to escape the torment of her past was truly admirable.

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Mamma Devlin and Communication

There were two aspects of this novel that I felt could have been more fully accentuated. The first was the character of Connor’s mother. In a way, she is one of the primary factors that brings our main characters together. She is slowly going blind, and Connor wants to find someone who can help her through her day-to-day activities. Enter Lacey and the start of their fake engagement. While it is clear that she and Lacey get along, I simply wanted more scenes of the two of them spending time together. Towards the end of the novel we do get a glimpse of how sassy Connor’s mother can be, and if we had seen more of that side of her throughout the novel it might have added an extra layer of depth to Lacey’s interactions with Connor’s family. I think what I enjoyed so much about the first novel was the incorporation of our female lead’s younger brother into the dynamics between her and our male lead to truly cement their relationship. Connor’s mother could have acted as a similarly crucial supplemental character in this second novel, yet in the end it seemed like we never really got to know her.

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The second aspect revolves around the communication between Lacey and Connor. Throughout the book, we are privy to a lot of inner monologues of these two characters which reveal so much about their personalities. With Lacey, we learn all about how she branched out from her small home town in Maryland, and became a model in the big city as a way to rebel against her parents. We also see how she’s going through so much mental anguish over the issue of being blackmailed. With Connor, we uncover how the discovery of his father’s secret gambling life after his death influenced Connor’s relationship with his family. He had to become the protector and the provider. I just wish that Lacey and Connor had shared more of this with each other, rather than having it seemingly reserved for us to know as the audience. So many of these stories are glimpses into the thought processes of our characters. By having more heart-to-heart conversations throughout the novel rather than saving it all for the end could have acted as a real emotional bonding experience for our main couple, and strengthened their link beyond a basic physical connection.

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

Series: City of Dreams, book 2. I have a hunch over who the male lead of book 3 will be, and if I’m right then I just can’t wait!!!

Should you read it? Overall, I think I preferred book 1, mainly due to the more cohesive link between our main couple and supplemental characters. The story arch involving Lacey’s blackmailer was heartbreaking, yet also captivating. I wish there had been more of a resolution to how Lacey’s family responded to the blackmail. Not gonna lie, I kind of want to give her mom a good talking-to. Or maybe a slap. The ending of this novel was so freakin’ adorable though! After how quick their relationship started I really appreciated the patience Connor employed to go at Lacey’s own pace, so that she didn’t feel pressured into doing anything she wasn’t comfortable with.

Smut Level: These two have some intense make-out scenes that will have you fanning yourself! The one in the barn?! Phew!! My oh me oh my!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 210 Pages.

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