Illusions Unveiled by Ayla Asher

Our journey through the small town of Ardor Creek continues as we explore how one man will do whatever it takes to prove to the one woman who got away that he’s worth taking a chance on. All I gotta say is if she won’t take him, I certainly will.

What’s it About?

Sometimes you squander all your second chances…

At the tender age of seven, Peter Stratford fell in love with the only woman who would ever claim his heart. But Carrie represented Ardor Creek, the town Peter detested. Determined to make something of himself in New York City, he leaves her behind, breaking both their hearts.

Carrie Longwood accepted that Peter would never love her enough to stay. Embracing her inner strength, she married another and had her precious boys before her messy divorce. Alone in Ardor Creek, she builds her life around her small family unit.

When Peter returns to Ardor Creek, battered and broken from addiction, he begins to heal, knowing Carrie will never forgive him. But Carrie kept her own secrets and, whether they’re ready or not, all of their illusions will be unveiled…

First Impressions

We were initially introduced to Carrie and Peter in the first Ardor Creek novel, and even though they were secondary characters at the time, it was clearly evident that they had a chemistry and history that was worth exploring in more detail. This second addition to the series give us the chance to look back on how Carrie and Peter’s picture-perfect high school romance devolved following his move to the big city and subsequent fall into drug and alcohol addiction. Carrie gave him a few chances to win her heart throughout the years, and while the chemistry was always there, they could never get the timing right. It’s now years after Peter’s recovery and Carrie’s divorce from a grade-A bumhole. As their close friendship has stayed true and strong after so many hurdles, it finally seems like they both might be at the right time and place in their lives to make another go at it. They’ll just have to make it through a health scare involving one of Carrie’s boys, as well as her many insecurities before that long-held dream might become a reality. For those of you who like second-chance romances, this is more like a third or fourth chance romance that will steal your heart!

Secrets Unveiled

It’s been a long and arduous journey for both Carrie and Peter to finally get to the healthy place they’re both at when the novel opens. Peter has confronted the many demons of his past, and has successfully entered recovery after years of addiction. Now he’s finally ready to confront his future, and for Peter that means settling down in Ardor Creek for good with the love of his life by his side. He’ll just have to learn about a critical secret that Carrie has been keeping from him for years…and maybe donate a major bodily organ before she’s willing to explore taking things to the next level with Peter once again. Carrie’s hesitancies to let Peter fully into her and her boys’ lives was a major theme of this book. I’ll admit, at first I just wanted to yell, “Oh just get over it already! This hunk of burnin’ love is obviously a keeper, and is fully committed to you and your kids! Let him in!” However, there were several key moments where I think Carrie’s concerns were communicated to us in a logical way that didn’t just make it seem like the plot was stalling for time.

Roadblocks to Happiness

Firstly, it’s one thing to be fun “Uncle Peter” for a few hours throughout the week by playing video games or soccer with her sons, and sitting down for dinner as a group when it’s convenient. Taking things to the next level would invite the not-so-glamorous side of parenting 24/7, from driving the kids to piano lessons and soccer games, helping with homework, being woken up in the middle of the night from unexpected nightmares, etc. It’s not something he can just turn away from when he’s too tired after a long day of work, and Carrie needs to make sure Peter understands what it means to transition from the fun family friend to a trustworthy father figure. Then there is Peter’s past to contend with.

Thankfully, I was pleased to see that Carrie never really saw Peter’s addictive tendencies as a reason to keep him at a distance from her or her boys. If anything, this seemed like more of a hang-up for Peter than it ever was for Carrie, and she always admired him for his strength to get clean. Her main reservation was always a fear that Peter would tire of the small-town life that Ardor Creek and her small family would ever be able to offer him. How long before he’d be called back to the bright lights and excitement of the city? After all, it called him away from her several times in their past, why would it be any different this time around? Well, Peter is determined to show her that Carrie and her two boys are all he’s ever wanted, and they represent his future happiness in every way.

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

Series: Ardor Creek, book 2. Every book in this series has ended with an epilogue of our characters heading to the wedding of the town’s notorious bachelor mayor. I can’t wait to finally get to that story, but it looks like we have one more romance to explore before we finally get invited to the blessed event.

Final Impressions: I am definitely in love with this series, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for the residents of this small town. This sequel felt a tad more serious at times when compared to book one, but it was still a great addition to the series which incorporated a great blend of romance, drama, a smidge of comedy, and sexy fun times. Peter was such a commendable character in my mind to have overcome such debilitating addiction, and retain enough patience to never give up on a future with the love of his life. The final scene of the book provides us with a picture-perfect moment that left a tear in my eye, and you’ll just have to read it yourself to see why!

Smut Level: These two may have entered their forties, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still up for all manner of sexy fun times. Carrie and Peter can get downright raunchy when the kids go to sleep, and even kick things up a notch with a sexy nurse’s outfit.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 196 Pages.

Bishop by Sawyer Bennett

You can’t help but wonder how star hockey player, Bishop Scott, doesn’t leave a trail of melted ice behind him considering the intense sexual heat he emits wherever he goes.

What’s it About?

Bishop Scott, co-captain. Not too shabby, huh? It’s all part of my fresh start with the NHL’s latest expansion team, and that means new teammates, a new coach, a new city, and a big new contract. Basically, I cannot f***ing wait to show my old squad what they’re missing.

But first, I decide to check out the town before the grind begins. Turns out Arizona chicks are totally smokin’, and I’m fortunate enough to meet one who’s looking for the same thing I am: a night of anonymous, unforgettable, no-strings-attached sex.

Fast forward to the Vengeance arena. It’s the last place I expect to see her again—let alone in her own office. Then bells go off and I finally realize who this girl is: Brooke Perron. My new coach’s daughter. All of a sudden, we’re picking up right where we left off, which means our hands are all over each other. That’s when her dad—my boss—walks in. And before I can get a word out, Brooke’s introducing me as her fiancé.

Sure, she just saved my ass. So why do I get the feeling Brooke’s going to turn my world upside down? Maybe it’s because this fake relationship feels way too real. . . .

First Impressions

If you’re a romance reader like myself who hates having to wait around a long time for sexy fun times to appear in your read, then this is definitely the book for you! Not only do our lead characters jump into the sack almost immediately, but their sexual chemistry is off the charts to a point where you don’t have to wait long at all before they’re tugging each other’s clothes off again. While their relationship started off as a one-night stand which evolved into casual sex buddies, there always remains a level of mutual respect and friendship between them which can’t help but ultimately transition into a partnership chock full of emotion. This was definitely a couple it was easy to fall in love with, and one that you were quickly rooting for to succeed.

Nothing Fake About it

I love a fake relationship as much as the next person, and a fake engagement trope is just the icing on the cake. After Bishop and Brook’s one-night stand, they can’t stop thinking about each other, and both are shocked the next day upon the realization that Bishop is a player for the hockey organization that Brooke now works for. Their surprise quickly transforms to desire, and it’s while they’re locked in an intimate embrace in Brooke’s office that her father walks in, who just so happens to be Bishop’s coach. Quick on her feet, Brooke blurts out that they are engaged so that her father won’t try to get Bishop kicked off the team. Even though I immediately broke out into a wide grin upon Brooke’s declaration, I can’t say the fake engagement aspect of the story was entirely necessary to the plot.

It’s something that Brooke and Bishop almost immediately walk back on, from “oh we’re engaged!”, to “oh we’re almost engaged!”, to “oh we might be a while away from an engagement!”. I almost think it would have been better to simply start off with the fake relationship aspect, and only after some insistent prodding from the dad would a ring have been involved. However, as it stands Bishop and Brooke really only have one awkward dinner with her dad following his walking in on them, and then he kind of disappears from the story entirely. You almost forget that he was the initial impetus for their deception, and I think I would have appreciated a few more scenes involving Bishop having to face off with Brooke’s father.

Series: Arizona Vengeance, book 1. I’ll definitely be continuing with this series. We are introduced to a slew of Bishop’s teammates that I can’t wait to get to know better.

Final Impressions: Overall this was a steamy and fun read that you’ll want to bring along on your next beach vacation. I do think we were missing a critical integration of Brooke’s father into the story line, and instead we see a focus on an old acquaintance of Brooke who comes to wreak a bit of havoc on the sultry bubble that Brooke and Bishop have created for themselves. Thankfully, she never became a point of misunderstanding between Brooke and Bishop, which was a prevalent fear of mine throughout the latter half of the book. However, it was nice that, for the most part, our lead characters could remain logical in the midst of this other character’s craziness.

Smut Level: You’ll need to keep a few ice cubes nearby to cool yourself off with the scenes involving these two. We’ve got dirty talk and all manner of sexual exploration going on here.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Loveswept Publishing. 221 Pages.

Stumped by Pamela Q. Fernandes

A review of their past will make these two contemplate if a future together is possible.

What’s it About?

Love behind the wickets.

English vice-Captain Claude de Lussan is the poster boy for English cricket. He’s smart, handsome, rich and a damn fine cricketer. And Delilah Taylor loves him to bits. Her whole existence revolves around him so much so, she polishes his autographed ball from his first century every weekend as it sits in her cabinet. Except, Claude de Lussan doesn’t love her back.

Following a heady summer, she finds herself suddenly married and divorced from the cricketer only to find him return to her world years later. Can they resolve old hurts and bury the past to rebuild a future together? Can they overcome family resentment, old flames and misunderstandings to accept that they what they had was and still is special?

First Impressions

Alright, confession time. I have never in my life watched a cricket match. Game? Competition? After reading this book I understand wickets are involved…whatever they are…Now, I know what you’re probably thinking, typical American! Well, if it helps at all, it’s not like I’m only into football or baseball, I just don’t care for sports in general. Probably because watching people enduring so much physical activity reminds me how I should probably work out more 🙂 All that being said, do you need to understand all the rules of cricket to understand or follow along with the plot of this novel? No, not really. Every chapter is entitled after a cricket phrase, and our two lead characters do bond over Claude’s expertise in the game. However, I do think it would have added an extra layer of appreciation to understand how the cricket chapter titles maybe corresponded to the content of that chapter, but alas I just had to go with the flow. I will say though I am very intrigued now to watch a cricket match after completing this read!

Plenty of Angst

If I had to describe our lead characters in one word it would be the following: flawed. In a way, it made them more relatable and “human” to see they were subject to making some of the same mistakes, and even jumping to rash conclusions, like we are all capable of doing. The flip side of this though was that it was also kind of difficult to fall in love with our leads for a decent portion of the novel. It wasn’t even until the final scene of the book where I was somewhat convinced that it would be a good idea for Claude and Delilah to make another attempt at a relationship together. Pretty much from day one, Claude was always head over heels in love with Delilah’s friend, Grace, in a way that reminded me of Romeo’s infatuation with Rosaline in Romeo and Juliet. Essentially, you know he’s smitten, but you have absolutely no idea of what he sees in her beyond good looks. Even though he completely adored Grace, her blasé attitude toward him slowly made him turn to Delilah as a second choice.

Claude constantly straddled a line between the two women throughout the whole book. It seemed as though he didn’t really care for Delilah at all as a person until he eventually loses her. He keeps going back to Grace even as she was dating his brother, and when she ultimately reveals herself to be the ultimate duplicitous villainess, Claude is still willing to consider a future with her. At one point in the story Claude and Delilah were really starting to build a strong foundation together, and yet he was more willing to believe Grace’s word over Delilah’s, even though Grace has never really give him any reason to trust her. There was one scene in particular where we witness Grace’s ability to get inside Claude’s head, and it results in him spouting the most heinous vitriol towards Delilah that he no longer seemed relatable as a character, just downright mean. It was during moments like this that I couldn’t help but wonder if Delilah would have been better off without him. We eventually see Claude turn a corner, and realize that he lost something truly special by letting Delilah get away. However, this turnabout sort of came too little, too late in the game for my opinion of him to flip entirely.

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

Series: To Love a Sportsman, book 2. I hadn’t read book one in this series, but had no trouble diving right into this second novel.

Final Impressions: Aside from disliking one half of our lead couple through some critical scenes, another aspect of this read that I had a bit of trouble adapting to was the flashback format. While it was interesting to see scenes of Delilah and Claude divorced in the present juxtaposed against flashbacks to how they met, married and what led to their split, it was also tricky to follow along at times. As the novel progressed, and the timelines got closer together involving their somewhat constant arguing as Claude continued to waffle between Grace and Delilah, it became harder to distinguish between when we were in the past versus the present.

Smut Level: Nothing too descriptive, though there are a few moments of passion. However, seeing as these passionate scenes occurred between Delilah and Claude when he was still technically involved with Grace, it was kind of hard to become fully invested in these sensual moments.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. TouchPoint Press. 137 Pages.

Hearts Reclaimed by Ayla Asher

This small town romance is a must read for your next beach vacation. Or mountain cabin retreat. Or a standard Tuesday night. Just read it!

What’s it About?

Two weary souls find each other against all odds…

Ashlyn Rivers left her cheating fiancé behind and moved to Ardor Creek to revamp her life. Done with men in general, she has plenty to focus on, like building her new business and renovating her house for the local haunted homes tour. Falling in love is definitely not on the agenda.

Scott Grillo lost his family in a tragic accident several years ago. Still processing the loss, he throws himself into his contracting business, pushing away the loneliness and heartache.

When Ashlyn blazes into Scott’s life, he turns down her request to renovate her house, vowing to squelch the desire she stirs deep inside. But Ashlyn is a force to be reckoned with and Scott finds himself longing for her embrace each day she remains in Ardor Creek.

Can these two disillusioned souls reclaim their hearts and choose to love again?

First Impressions

In a word, this book is fantabulous. I finished it in one day it was that good. The first thing I noticed almost immediately with this read was that it made my face hurt from the constant grin I had plastered on my face, starting at about page three. It was quickly evident that this was a small fictional town I wish I could move to as soon as possible, and have a BBQ with all the delightful town residents you can’t help but fall in love with. Above all of that though, the two lead characters in this read have a chemistry that electrifies you through the page. A friendly flirtatiousness that makes you want them to rip each other’s clothes off, yet also drag out the delicious playfulness for as long as possible. I was thrilled that throughout this entire read, while we see Scott and Ashlyn’s relationship evolve from client/contractor to friends to lovers to something more intimate, they never lost their sense of playfulness with each other. It’s a detail that will make your toes curl and keep that smirk of satisfaction constantly on your face.

In the Face of Tragedy

Now don’t let that introduction fool you, this book isn’t all light-hearted flirtations and a sexy shirtless contractor on top of a ladder…although both of those details are certainly present! We do get a few serious notes built in, especially as Scott confronts the idea of opening his heart fully to Ashlyn as their relationship progresses, while also balancing this against the loss of his wife and baby daughter years before. And I would say this was a concept that the read as a whole manages with absolute perfection: balance. When I first read the synopsis and learned that Scott was still struggling with the death of his loved ones I was concerned that we’d be dealing with an overwhelming emotional read.

And while there are certainly some emotional scenes that left a tear or two in my eye as Scott opened up to Ashlyn about the tragic loss of his family and his fears at allowing Ashlyn into every corner of his heart, these emotionally heavier scenes were intertwined so beautifully with the scenes of playfulness and sensuality between Scott and Ashlyn that I was never left feeling the book leaned too heavily one way or another. It would have been easy for Scott to have just been all ready for a new relationship, and for the author to simply push the harsher realities of that emotional confrontation to the background. But that doesn’t happen here. On the flip-side, it would have been easier to rely more heavily on the inner struggle Scott faced in moving on with someone new, and leave the comedy bits out entirely. The fact the author could so seamlessly blend the two themes together made it feel even more reminiscent of true life and love being filled with the most spectacular highs juxtaposed against tragic lows. Again, a beautiful balance.

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

Series: Ardor Creek, book 1. I had to force myself not to immediately dive into book two! It’s a rule of mine to always try and break up the books in a series with another read.

Final Impressions: Read…this…book. It’s a five-star read that presents us with fun, sexiness and even a bit of drama. Something I appreciated even more than the smile this book left on my face was how our characters reacted to the drama with which they were presented. Every reaction felt entirely authentic. Nothing was overblown for the sake of unnecessary drama. Their reactions seemed like those I might have, or someone I know might have, once again lending an air of reality and balance to the read as a whole.

Smut Level: In a way this book sort of reads as a romantic comedy, but that doesn’t mean our characters avoid the subject of sex. They’re more than happy to explore each other’s sexual fantasies and even enjoy a good pounding out on the front porch.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 168 Pages.

Ours by Angela Christina Archer

For those of you looking for an emotionally gut-wrenching read that will leave you in a mess of tears, this is the series for you.

What’s it About?

No one knows when it will end or if it will ever end. It seems like the whole world is in fire and nothing is going to put out the flames.

The promise to go on.

Another two years at war and coming into winter with scarcely any rations to be had, Evelyn and Henry along with everyone they know and love deal the pains of starvation. With the birth of their second child approaching, the couple celebrates with apprehension. Not knowing how much longer the war will last, they also live in fear—fear of the Germans and fear of death. Can they survive? Or will the end of the war come a little too late?

The promise to come home.

After swearing off the notion of ever returning home to Guernsey, Amelia continues her education and lands an internship for a up and coming newspaper. With her life finally laid out before her, fate decides to throw her another devastating blow, shattering her world into pieces. Can she overcome what the war has taken from her? And will an unexpected trip back home, a place she never thought she’d go, be exactly what she needs? Or will it only lead her to more heartbreak and loss?

Two sisters. Two promises. One bloody war that changes their lives forever.

First Impressions

Every once in a blue moon, I can sympathize with the desire to be in a sad or melancholy mood. It can be hard to explain to people, but sometimes you just wanna listen to a sad song, or watch a depressing move to get the tears flowing. Something like The Notebook, or The Land Before Time that will leave you a gasping mess of tears. However, I can’t say I’ve ever craved that same thing when it comes to a book. Sure, maybe I’ll be mid-read and come across a sad scene that will leave me in tears, and I can appreciate the emotional impact it can lend to the story as a whole. But I can’t say I’ve ever sought out a book or series that I know would be primarily sad like I might with a song or movie, probably because with a book you know you’ll be dealing with it for days, or even weeks. Therefore, whenever I do come across a read that is overwhelmingly sad, it can actually result in it being tricky to want to pick up, and you almost have to force yourself to read it. This was sort of my overall journey with this series. It’s a saga of love, family and friends, but it’s also about how all of that is torn apart by the ravages of war. Ultimately, it can only somewhat be patch-worked back together at the end.

The End is Near

Time has been such an important part of this entire series from the get-go. In the first two books our characters constantly wondered how much time was left in this terrible war: weeks, months, years, or was this their new normal? We as the reader always knew there were years of arduous occupation and turmoil still to come. This third book sort of presents us with the opposite. The bulk of the story takes place in the autumn of 1944, and with every turn of the page I kept whispering under my breath, “Just a few more months, don’t give up now. You can make it!” Some do…and some don’t. And cue the tears. This series then transports us to the end of the war and we see where our characters have ended up following the conclusion of the events form the past six years. We even come full circle back to how the series kicked off, with some of our characters standing on the docks of Guernsey together, which is where they first said goodbye all the way back at the start of book one.

While I could appreciate the poetic beauty of having the series come completely full circle, unfortunately I can’t say I was thrilled with how everything else came together at the end. It’s a bit hard to describe without giving away too many spoilers, but essentially what some of our characters spent the last 2-3 books convincing us of was completely flipped on its head in the last half or so of this final novel. Some may argue that the characters were just trying to convince themselves all this time that something wasn’t true, but it honestly didn’t really feel that way when were in the thick of the story. I guess I couldn’t help but feel that after all of this forward momentum, some of our lead characters ultimately ended up back where they started, and it was such a quick and almost jarring 180 degree turn of events that I wasn’t 100% convinced they ended up where they belonged. Or perhaps they did, but we simply didn’t get enough description to justify this turn.

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

Series: The Promises Between Us, book 3. This was the final book in the series.

Final Impressions: This was an interesting and unique saga, but consider yourself warned that it is an emotionally devastating read. Reading book one will put you on the path where you need to see the series through to the end. You’ll fall in love with and subsequently mourn a slew of characters along the way. Ultimately I can’t say I was pleased with how the series all came together by the end, but it was certainly a journey to get there which will keep you guessing and crying from start to finish.

Smut Level: Any sexually suggestive scenes all fade to black.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 191 Pages.

Delicate Ink by Carrie Ann Ryan

A rugged, alpha-male tattoo artist sets his sights on the demure boutique owner across the street. Sounds like a classic Romancelandia premise to me!

What’s it About?

One look at the woman who comes in for new ink and Austin Montgomery knows she’s the one for him. The problem: she can’t stand him. Now he’ll have to be his most charming and brooding if he has any chance of changing her mind…and claiming her heart.

Sierra Elder has reasons for keeping away and secrets close to her heart. An accident took her first love and scarred more than her soul in the process. Now the inked man with a wicked grin is starting to melt the ice she’s built to keep her safe, but the danger isn’t only from what she feels.

Some secrets were never meant to be kept and when mistakes from both of their pasts come knocking, they’ll have to trust each other, even if it could hurt them both in the process.

First Impressions

I think every avid romance novel reader does a little internal twirl of delight whenever we discover the male lead comes from an extensively large family network. And when family members gather together for regularly scheduled family dinners or BBQs? Forget about it, we’re doing a full on happy dance!! After all, that can only mean one thing: sequelssssss. That was definitely true when it came to this first novel in the Montgomery Ink series and we discover that Austin Montgomery comes from a family with multiple siblings, cousins and even “strays” that his family has picked up throughout the years.

There was only one major negative with having so many members of the Montgomery clan, and that was the feeling that we were introduced to too many of them at once in this first novel. While large family romances will often give us a tease to the focus of the next novel, it felt like we got a glimpse to something like five different future story-lines, and even multiple chapters involving the couple from the prequel to this book. We’re only in the first novel and I already feel like I’ve got all my Montgomery members mixed up! The fact we will ultimately get offshoot Montgomery Ink series set in Boulder, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins makes me hope we’ll see some extensive family trees going forward so we can clearly remember who is who.

Flogged with Surprise

It’s no surprise to my readers that I’m not typically a huge fan of BDSM-focused reads. I actually didn’t realize when adding this book to my TBR pile that it had a D/S component, so I had a mini moment of “oh boy, here we go” when gathering together my read-ahead notes for this one. However, while I might not personally understand the appeal of flogging, I did appreciate how this novel presented us with the foundations of a healthy BDSM relationship built upon honesty and respect. Austin had his “sub-dar” activated upon first meeting Sierra and realizing she might be the submissive that his dominant side was craving.

When it became clear Sierra not only understood the fundamentals of BDSM, but also that her previous relationship had been steeped in it, the two were ready to start setting their boundaries. They were very clear in establishing limits, safe words, getting new and clean equipment for their scenes, and Austin clearly outlined that Sierra was safe with him. No skin would be broken by his flogging. They were very good about keeping their D/S dynamic reserved to the bedroom rather than having it take over every aspect of their interactions with each other. It was also refreshing to see that Austin and Sierra didn’t need BDSM play every time they had sex. Sometimes they craved the kink, while other times they craved something more traditional. All in all it was a BDSM relationship I could get behind whole-heartedly.

Series: Montgomery Ink, book 1. It seems kink and BDSM is a hobby that runs rampant throughout this family. If I can manage to keep all these characters straight I think I’ll give a few more a try.

Final Impressions: Overall this was a quick and entertaining read, though at times it seemed there were a few too many components going on. This felt especially true when we started to see the groundwork being laid for the love stories of other Montgomery family members. I couldn’t help but wonder, can we at least get through this first couple’s tale before weaving in details of all the others? This also resulted in some of the key dramatic aspects of Austin and Sierra’s story being pushed to the very end, producing a conclusion that felt a bit rushed.

Smut Level: Austin wants to feast on Sierra every chance he gets, and she’s more than willing to be his appetizer, main course, cheese plate and dessert all night long.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE. Self-Published. 370 Pages.

Hunter by Eden Summers

Sarah is determined to bring justice to those that the law can’t, or won’t touch. But when the chance arrives to seek vengeance on the man who murdered her family, she realizes she might not be able to do it alone.

What’s it About?

A seductively thrilling game of cat and mouse destined to leave you breathless.

I’ve been running for ten years – fleeing my past and clawing my way toward an inescapable act of vengeance.

Until he walks into my life, sure and strong and full of secrets.

He dilutes my thirst for retribution with his touch. He obliterates my need for solitude with his kiss. But it’s his hidden agenda that makes the hair on the back of my neck prickle.

He wants something. Something that doesn’t revolve around sweaty skin and tangled silk sheets like he’d have me believe.

I have to stop falling for him, otherwise the last ten years will all be for nothing. I need to keep running, keep fighting for vengeance, even though I know he will track me down.

But trying to escape him is just another problem. Because now I crave the hunt.

First Impressions

The premise and opening sequence of this novel had everything going for it. After all, how many times do we wish the slimeballs of the world could finally pay for their crimes? The fact it was a solitary woman ensuring that nobody could escape the long arm of justice, and that someone was always looking out for those less fortunate made it all the more satisfying. It was almost reminiscent in a way of Promising Young Woman, where we encounter an independently strong and feisty female lead who isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right following a tragic event in her own past. Her dalliance with the mysterious and alpha Hunter upon first meeting at a local bar was all the more delicious. After this opening sequence though, things started to get a bit more muddled.

Can Someone Tell Me…What’s Happening?

So here is what I do know when it comes to Emma/Steph/Sarah’s back story which led her to the vigilante path she’s now on today. Her entire family was killed about 10 years ago at the hands of an ex-boyfriend who she’s been trying to locate ever since, and she’s only now starting to get hot on his trail. As to why exactly her family was the subject of such horror, how this man got away with it, and how he’s succeeded in disappearing all this time? Hell if I know. It’s kind of surprising when we consider that this was the impetus for Sarah’s life trajectory up until this point in the novel, how little actual clarifying information we receive regarding the event itself. I kept thinking we were being intentionally left in the dark so that we might ultimately get some kind of passionate reveal between our two main characters, but alas that never happened.

This wasn’t the only back-story that was painstakingly avoided throughout the entirety of the book. We also get very little to no history on our male lead, Hunter. We know that he is involved with some kind of criminal enterprise as a hit-man, but as to how he got involved in this line of work, as well as his dynamic with our lead villain who might not actually be a villain is also a total mystery. What we do know is that Hunter’s work and Sarah’s search for her family’s killer causes these two to cross paths. Once they get a taste of each other, Sarah feels the need to run away from the unexpected desire this man has awoken within her, whereas Hunter is more than willing to give chase to the woman he doesn’t want to let go.

Series: Hunting Her, book 1. Even though this first book didn’t leave me fully satisfied, I’m not at the point of giving up entirely seeing as book 2 focuses on a secondary character who brought plenty of personality to this read.

Final Impressions: Overall I think this book left me with more questions than answers. It certainly had good bones, but needed to be more fully fleshed out so that we could clearly understand the forces bringing all of our characters together.

Smut Level: A large part of this book is a game of cat-and-mouse with Hunter in pursuit of Sarah in her attempt to get him off her trail. The few moments where they do come together though are positively sinful.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 268 Pages.

Chroma Crossing Chronicles: Blood Moon: Part 2 by S. Yurvati

A stranger from another world brings a bit of color to this monochromatic world.

What’s it About?

Candy endeavors to understand the monochromatic ‘beige-world’ she landed in, while trying not to drool over the deliciously tempting pheromone-laden hunter who found her—neither being an easy task. The color deficient land/realm/whatever presents environs she finds mysterious to comprehend and leaves a plethora of questions unanswered. Such as gods and goddesses, and what dangers she will face with the ‘needing moon’?

When an accident scrambles Candy’s blonde-brain, it makes life even more puzzling than that distracting ‘Pheromone-Man’. Next thing Candy knows, she’s told she must embark on a journey, via horseback, with a group of muscular warriors. Now that scenario shouldn’t sound too awful, except Candy is a city girl and it’s going to be a lengthy outing. One that requires outdoorsy accommodations, such as camping (ick), and other unsavory things—likely creepy-crawly things!

During the convoluted journey there are times she’s forced to face daunting terrors, and at those times Thorne intervenes with strength (sigh worthy muscles) and surprising gentleness. But the next minute . . . he ignores her as if she’s ‘Typhoid-Candy’!

Thorne, the epitome of an alpha-male, harbors a past filled with pain and feelings of guilt that haunt him—as does the unique, troublesome, and beautiful, green-eyed female he found while hunting. Just when he thinks to have found a woman he could love, an accident robs her of all memory of him. At the same time, Thorne can no longer ignore the growing violence between two villages, and then there are those maundering murdering renegades . . . Now Thorne faces a new dilemma—what to do with Candy during his absence, fearing to leave her behind.

Except, can this delicate, clumsy, foreign, female endure a long grueling journey through the wilds? More essential, will she ever remember what they shared?

Ripple is a brutally honest dwarf and Thorne’s truest friend. As he tires of the games between the two would-be-lovers he tries to set them right, and finds the perfect night to do so. However, it’s the Moon Goddess’ domain to govern over men that very night, and Luna has her own agenda. During the telling of the fable of the ‘Blood Moon’, the Moon Goddess’ own sorrowful past is revealed.

First Impressions

While this second book was not without its faults, it was vastly superior to book one in the series. With this sequel we finally see Candy land in and attempt to assimilate into this bizarre world which is only beige in color. Her interactions with King Thorne, or as she likes to refer to him “Pheromone Man”, will practically leave you with a case of heat stroke they’re so steamy. We are also introduced to a slew of new characters, some of whom are a pure delight, whereas others are downright villainous. Considering that most of the characters from book one fell into the latter category, the fact we finally get to see some fun and engaging personalities was definitely a welcome improvement. Even though it was entertaining at times to explore this new world with its intriguing characters, one of whom practically oozes sex appeal, there were a number of misses to the plot which hindered the enjoyability factor.

Ebb and Flow

The primary hindrance to this series so far as a whole has been the flow and pace of the story. These first two books are labeled as Part 1 and 2 of the “Blood Moon”, and this second book also felt as though it was divided into two parts, all of which felt unnecessarily complicated. Essentially the entirety of book 1 took place in the world we know of Savannah, and was meant to be an intro of what Candy’s life and relationships were like before traveling into this fantasy realm. Honestly, it should have been 2-3 chapters max rather than a full-length novel. With this second book, the novel opens on Candy arriving in Thorne’s kingdom on the cusp of the “needing moon”, which is basically a time each month when folks get super randy and all manner of sexual delights ensue. Unsurprisingly, Candy and Thorne come together on this night and engage in some intense and exhausting fornicating that leaves them both physically spent, yet also starting to consider having a possible future with each other. Then things get a bit wonky when Candy suffers a blow to the head and loses all memory of how she came to be in this world, as well as her special night with Thorne. This is what resulted in the the feeling of this book being divided in two: everything pre- and post-accident.

A Journey to Nowhere

Following this loss of memory, Thorne receives word that there is some fighting going on between neighboring villages which he must go and put to rest. Rather than leave Candy in the safety of his castle to recover following her injury, he decides to bring her along on this journey to ensure none of his subjects can make a move on her, or harm her in any way. Mkay, here are my thoughts. This entire novel should have been told in reverse. Rather than starting off with countless hours of them coupling in the bedroom followed by Candy’s accident, the first part of this book should have been a longer journey to Thorne’s kingdom following his discovery of Candy having fallen into his world.

Their trek could have involved the same instances of Candy’s shenanigans struggling to adapt and fit into this bizarre landscape in an attempt to lend moments of comedic relief to the plot. Both characters were clearly frustrated with the other throughout this time, yet neither could ignore the underlying hum of attraction pulling them together. They want to keep their distance, but can’t. This then could have culminated in an arrival at their destination on the needing moon with plenty of sex-filled chapters between them, and ultimately a more logical progression of their relationship. Instead we see them start at the max, then fall to rock-bottom, then there are these moments on the journey where Thorne seems so turned off by who Candy is as a person, followed by him intensely desiring her body. It left me feeling like their primary connection was physical more than anything else, and it was difficult to root for these two as a couple.

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

Series: Chroma Crossing Chronicles, book 2. I had no idea there were another two books still to come following this sequel, and I think I may have reached my stopping point.

Final Impressions: Throughout the read I kept thinking, boy they’re taking a while to get to the actual plot. Then after the 3/4 point I wondered, wait are we just never going to learn about what is causing this village disruption, what the heck ever happened to Thorne’s psychotic brother, or why his sister wants to have sex with him? Then when the book ended, and I realized there were yet another two books to come I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at the lack of progress we’ve made so far after two full-length books. We aren’t seemingly any closer to getting to the crux of what this world is all about, and I was really hoping this second book would end with the beige world exploding into color following Candy’s choice to be with Thorne. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The plethora of grammatical errors also made this a rather difficult road to traverse.

Smut Level: This book certainly has plenty of steam, though I question if there was too much focus on their time in the bedroom which ultimately resulted in a lack of forward movement to the actual plot.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 361 Pages.

The Wrong/Right Man by Aurora Rose Reynolds

What starts out as a blind date for the record books turns into something a bit more awkward the morning after when Dakota discovers the man lying in bed next to her isn’t the man she was supposed to meet.

What’s it About?

Waking up to a text asking why you stood up your blind date is not the best way to start the day, especially when the man in question is standing half dressed in your kitchen.

Maybe Dakota Newton shouldn’t have assumed the gorgeous man with a devastating smile standing outside the coffee shop was her date. She probably— Okay, she definitely shouldn’t have slept with him, regardless of how hot the chemistry between them was. But how could she know Mr. Right was actually Mr. Wrong?

Braxton Adams has been called a few things in his life, but a liar was never one of them. That all changes when he’s approached by a beautiful woman who thinks he’s there to meet her for a date.

As a businessman, Brax knows to trust his gut and never let an opportunity pass him by, so he pretends to be someone he’s not.

Maybe he shouldn’t have lied. Maybe he should have come clean. But in the end, it doesn’t matter, because now he has to prove he’s not the wrong man but the right one.

So what if he’s not the man she’s expecting? She’s the one he’s been waiting for.

First Impressions

So the synopsis of this book gives away what might be the biggest spoiler alert of the entire read, which is that Braxton wasn’t the intended date match for Dakota to begin with. This lent an almost bizarre air to the start of this read, as we see how Brax cleverly hides details, or even outright lies about his identity in order to continue his date with Dakota. The romance reader in me chuckled along to some of his deceptions, whereas the real woman that I am was screaming that if this happened in real life it would be beyond creepy. As the two proceed with their relationship and Brax’s overly protective/stalkerish tendencies come to the forefront, you’re kind of simultaneously hoping Dakota will file a restraining order, but also maybe throw him up against a wall for a passionate make-out scene following a heated argument. Such a strange juxtaposition!

Danger, Danger?

As discussed, Braxton engages in some super sketchy tracking of Dakota’s movements, texts, and even has her followed at one point by one of his minions. We’re initially led to believe that this is just part of his alpha-male intense infatuation with Dakota. She understandably gets angry and argumentative with him over his invasion of her privacy, not to mention a lack of boundaries. The aspect of this novel that I didn’t really care for was how this inappropriate behavior was shrugged off and ultimately explained away. Firstly, the “point” is made that the fact Dakota is willing to argue so vehemently with Brax over his invasion of her privacy demonstrates how much she must trust him. Her anger is reflected as her feeling comfortable enough with him to let her true emotions out. But like…he was still tracking her whereabouts and communications without her permission!! Not exactly healthy.

And this brings us to how Brax’s behavior is explained away as a knight in shining armor plot point. At the end of the novel it is revealed that Dakota has an actual stalker who is constantly calling her work and sending inappropriate things to her office. Details which Brax chooses not to share with Dakota directly. When her stalker ups his game by breaking into and trashing her apartment when she’s out one evening, Brax must finally admit that he’s been hiding the fact another man is watching her every move. It’s after this confession when Dakota has a moment of realization that the reason Brax was following her so closely all this time was because he wanted to ensure she was safe, and that her stalker didn’t get to her first. But like…then why didn’t you just tell her this from the get go?!

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: This was a quick read with a strong beginning that kind of fizzled out at the end. While I could appreciate the blind date fiasco would have been a much bigger issue in real life, it was kind of fun to see the scene play out in romance land. After that though, Brax’s need to control and monitor almost every aspect of Dakota’s life was truly worrisome. The stalker element definitely felt rushed at the end, and also lacking enough background for it to truly feel part of the plot.

Smut Level: Sooooo many sexy times!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Dreamscape Media, LLC. 170 Pages.

Yours by Angela Christina Archer

War might tear some friends and families apart, but this read highlights how it can also pull others together.

What’s it About? 

After France surrenders to the Nazis, all eyes turn to the Channel Islands off the coast. Knowing the Germans could invade their quiet home the resident children of Guernsey are evacuated. Among them are Amelia Ashton, and her older sister Evelyn.

The promise to stay safe.

Forced onto the boat by her older sister, seventeen-year-old Amelia Ashton arrives in Weymouth with hundreds of other children. Although she is placed with a kind and loving foster family in Derbyshire, her world is torn apart. With all her communication cut off from her family, and the boys at school joining to fight in the war, Amelia struggles with her own desire to help. On a whim, she lies about her age and boards a train headed to volunteer with the Women’s Land Army. Finding solace in the work of farm life, she reconnects with William, a young man from Derbyshire, and who doesn’t waste any time asking for her hand in marriage. Can Amelia start a new life without looking over her shoulder at what she left behind in Guernsey or will the war change everything?

The promise to survive.

Fearing for her parents’ lives, nineteen-year-old, Evelyn Ashton stays behind, living through the German occupation plaguing her once beautiful home—the island of Guernsey. Living under German rule, the residents find a new meaning of desperation and despair, trying to survive on rations and evade the threats of being sent off to a death camp. After her parents die in a bombing, Evelyn is left alone to fend for herself against her enemy, and when German soldiers take over her house, she seeks refuge in the only family she believes she has left—Henry—the man once interested in her sister. Can they find comfort in each other or will the occupation claim not only their love but also their lives?

Two sisters. Two promises. One bloody war that changes their lives forever.

First Impressions

After completing the first few chapters of this book I was surprised to admit how much it reminded me of Game of Thrones. Bare with me for a second. Sure, there might not be any fire-breathing dragons, paranormal elements or gratuitous sex scenes. And while we can probably take a far reach to compare the impending arrival of Nazi forces on this small island to the terrifying Night Walkers traversing a wall, that wasn’t exactly the similarity I had in mind. Rather, outside of our two primary sister main characters, you really shouldn’t try to become emotionally attached to anyone else in this book, as they are all fair game to become a victim of the horrors of war. This read might have romance weaved into the plot, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’ll be given a romanticized view of war. We aren’t presented with any scenes of battle on the frontlines between soldiers, but we do see the devastating effects for those back “at home”. Consider yourself warned you might want to have a box of Kleenex nearby when you pick this one up.

It’s a captivating, albeit oftentimes emotionally devastating read, but alas that is merely the reality of war. We must commend the author for successfully capturing the loss, uncertainties and hopes of those left behind. I’ll admit, I sometimes had to take a few breaks in between my stints of reading this one, as it was so reminiscent of the stories my Oma used to share with my sister and I about what it was like growing up in Nazi Germany with her own sister. From bombs landing in their family attic, to a Jewish classmate who stopped showing up to school one day. She even regaled us with the story of how an American soldier crash landed in a plane outside her village, and she was the only one who could speak a few sentences to him in English before German soldiers came and took him away. I’m sure there was plenty my Oma didn’t tell us about what it took to survive the war with her sister, but reading this tale about another pair of sisters trying to survive each day became quite emotional for me, especially as I tried to envision my sister and I in their shoes.

My Oma, Renate, with her sister, Elfriede.

Sisterhood

This might be a tale of romance, war and survival, but it’s also a tale of sisters. Amelia is sent off to England on her own, while Evelyn remains behind on the island of Guernsey as the Nazis invade. While we’re immediately swept up in the emotional roller coaster this read has to portray, one thing I would have liked to see a bit more of was a connection, yet also a distinction, between these two heroines as sisters. Aside from their goals for the future, these two ladies are rather similar in personality and demeanor that it almost felt like either one could have been present in either part of the story. This is where more distinction would have been welcome. As far as connection, the novel opens with Evelyn pushing Amelia onto a boat for the safety of England, and we sort of missed out on any experience of them together as sisters. It seemed like we didn’t get a full glimpse of their sibling dynamic, and maybe a flashback or two could have helped set the scene of what it was like for them to suddenly be separated by the distance of war.

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

Series: The Promises Between Us, book 1. I’m officially fully invested in seeing what happens to these sisters, and am committed to seeing it through to the end.

Final Impressions: This first novel is definitely setting the scene of our primary characters, including our sisters and their respective beaus whom they unexpectedly found in the midst of unimaginable tragedy. While I was initially hesitant to see Evelyn start to fall for her sister’s former flame, the situation is presented and explained in a way where you can only root for them to survive this war linked arm in arm. Amelia also finds a burgeoning romance where she wasn’t looking for one, and we must simply hold our breath in anticipation to see how the next few years of this war will unfold for the Ashton sisters.

Smut Level: A few breathtaking kisses, but nothing overtly explicit.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 323 Pages.