Oceans Away by Skye McNeil

Goodness gracious do the men on this Iowa farm know how to handle their wood! For chopping that is!

What’s it About? 

51qI+QoYJhL

Adopted as an infant, Ireland Leighton grew up in the heart of the Midwest. After inheriting millions from her biological parents, she is determined to help others any way she can. The only string is a business engagement with another millionaire. Ireland returns to Iowa years later to plan her brother’s tropical wedding. The festivities would be easier if her sexy ex-boyfriend stayed out of reach and her future wasn’t already planned.

Time suppressed his feelings for the girl next door, but Gideon Taggart isn’t about to let Ireland escape again. Farmer by day, veterinarian by choice, his second chance with his first love is far from easy. He soon discovers that no matter how much he loves Ireland, she’ll always choose her family over a future with him.

First Impressions

What struck me most with this novel was Ireland’s constant struggle between who she is now, and who she was six years ago when she first set out from her small Iowa hometown. Adopted at a young age, she grew up in a rather humble home, but was surrounded by a family who loved her. The sexy farm boy next door, Gideon, also showed her all the love in the world. But when Ireland becomes an adult she discovers the wealthy lineage of her deceased birth-parents, as well as a grandmother who is still alive and ready to show her the ropes of the family business. Ireland is drawn to the allure of this new millionaire lifestyle, and ultimately decides to pursue it by leaving Gideon behind, in spite of his pleas for her to remain. Fast-forward six years, and she’s finally coming back home for the first time since she left at the news that her brother is about to get married. What will it be like for this multi-millionaire businesswoman to return to her humble roots, not to mention see her sexy farm boy again after six years apart?

627cd614-9ec7-4674-a043-230eda6b237d

Resentment

Needless to say, Gideon is rather resentful that she abandoned him in the dust all those years ago in pursuit of wealth. Surprisingly though, her family also makes a few jabs about her new lifestyle, specifically in regards to the paparazzi who are in constant pursuit of her. Now, it’s true, when Ireland traveled off to faraway places six years ago, she did lose touch with those she left behind, but I couldn’t help but feel that some of their resentment was misplaced. After all, this is a girl who went for years without knowing anything about her birth parents. Can they really fault her for wanting to discover more of herself, and take advantage of opportunities that weren’t available to her before? Yes, she lost touch with them, but in a way they also lost touch with her. We never really hear mention of them trying to reach out to her during that time, or help her adjust to what must have been a very emotional and confusing time.

summer-sad-the-oc

With this first foray into travel, freedom, indulgences and massive wealth, it seems Ireland engaged in some questionable acts that got her plastered across the tabloids. When Ireland returns home, this spoiled party girl image is the one Gideon and her family call to mind. Never mind the fact that she has since adjusted into a responsible adult, taking the reigns of her family business and growing her wealth and success to incredible heights. She’s obviously matured into her role as a businesswoman, as well as philanthropist helping those less fortunate, and yet surprisingly her friends and family still seem to view her as a rather spoiled princess. It’s as though they judge her for those few initial mistakes she made upon the discovery of wealth rather than who she was her entire life up until that point, as well as the successful person she’s become since then.

fashion-2016-02-devil-wears-prada-5-main

Iowa vs. the World

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. A romance novel set in a small mid-western Iowa farm town. How exactly is this a beach read? Well don’t worry, our story takes place about half the time down on the farm, and the other half down in Barbados. This change of scenery is a crucial feature, as it hearkens back to the moment when Ireland and Gideon first called it quits. Upon discovery of her birth-family’s wealth, the endless possibilities of the world called to Ireland in a way they never had before, probably because now they could become a reality rather than just a pipe-dream.

11873390

For Gideon, the responsibilities of his family’s farm keep him grounded to the land. She pleads with him to go with her, he pleads with her to stay. Compromise never seemed to be part of the picture, and we see this struggle hold true even after Ireland returns home. The question of Iowa vs. the world was always a question of one over the other. You can’t help but be surprised that with Ireland’s immense wealth, not to mention access to a private plane, that the possibility of her splitting time between Iowa and Barbados never really entered the equation. Again, considering how much of this novel is split between her traveling back and forth from Iowa to Barbados, you’d think she’s demonstrating rather effectively how things could have been a compromise rather than a competition. Although…if you ask me there’s certainly no competition between the two!!

paynesbay_barbados-727be28c4a2c.jpg

Jealousy Rears It’s Ugly Head

When Ireland comes back home, Gideon can’t keep away from her, or prevent himself from teasing flirting with her any chance he gets. When her soon-to-be business partner, Mason, arrives on the farm to get to know and see Ireland in her home environment, Gideon’s jealousy kicks into overdrive. A few growls ensue, as well as some make out sessions thrown up against a barn stall door. He tries to show her that the chemistry between them is stronger than anything she might have for Mason, and that despite the last six years apart their feelings for each other are just as strong as ever. Just when Ireland starts to warm up to the idea of a future with Gideon, of working out the limitations of distance to their relationship, what does Gideon do? He pushes her away. Harrrrrd.

40aefc585fa8ff44b5618464aa4727ea

Gideon is convinced that Ireland has her sights set on Mason, and that his immense wealth will draw her to him more than Gideon’s wholesome Iowa ways ever could. He believes Mason would provide Ireland with all the things she could ever want in life, whereas his lack of money would be a disservice to her. Interestingly, this not only highlights Gideon’s own self-deprecating view of himself, but once more a rather negative view of Ireland that money would mean more to her than love. As though his love and her own massive amounts of wealth would never be enough for her, but that she’d turn her back on love in favor of even more wealth than she’s already built for herself. True, she turned her back on him all those years ago, but when she comes back to him, declaring her love, demonstrating through both words and actions how she feels, he turns his back on her. It seemed rather unfair and hurtful to her emotions for him to initially reel her in towards him through his initial bouts of jealousy, then just when she’s ready to fall into his arms he pushes her away.

The Big Day

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

Series: The Atlas Series, book 2.

Final Impressions: I think one key aspect we were missing here was the goodbye scene of six years ago. What exactly was said at the moment when Gideon and Ireland were on the cusp of ending their relationship? Perhaps a prologue featuring their goodbye would have provided an added window into the hurt that Ireland’s actions had on Gideon. The fact of the matter is all we really see firsthand is Ireland’s devotion to those less fortunate, to her family, and to continuing a successful career as a businesswoman. This made it difficult to understand the “spoiled princess” title that others placed on her. I think we also needed to see some additional scenes of Ireland interacting with her grandmother who she didn’t even know existed for the majority of her life, and more of an explanation on why it took so long for her grandmother to reach out to her. It’s briefly covered at the end, but we never see a conversation play out between these two women. Maybe even a moment showing her grandmother interacting with her adoptive family would have been enlightening!

Smut Level: Hot daaaaang!! Ireland loves to get her hands on Gideon’s many tattoos, and he knows just how to make her moan aloud in ecstasy.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Hot Tree Publishing. 300 Pages.

Advertisements

When I Fall by J. Daniels

Reed has a very firm “no kissing” rule when it comes to the women he “dates”. Actually, make that “has one-night stands with”.

What’s it About?

51LRrb96xQL

For the past nine years, I’ve kept my heart as far away from my d*ck as possible. Those two can’t be anywhere near each other. They don’t play nice, and one of them undoubtedly winds up getting hurt. Not my d*ck. My d*ck is good.

The women I take home know exactly what they’re getting from me—a good time. Nothing more. At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen. The sweet brunette from Kentucky I set my sights on tonight shouldn’t have been any different. I had her right where I wanted her. Where I needed her. But when my past comes walking into McGill’s pub, the woman in my arms decides to take things to a whole new level, putting me into a situation I never saw coming.

My heart is about to get f**ked. My d*ck can sit this one out.

First Impressions 

Of all the novels in this series so far, this one might just be my favorite, and for one very important reason. I liked the characters! After finishing the second book in this series I almost didn’t continue on with it, but I decided to give it one last try. I’m definitely glad I did! Reed and Beth have a chemistry which is undeniably palpable. At first glance in a local pub, Reed has his usual sights set on Beth, thinking that she’ll be his quick and easy source of entertainment for the evening. After all, she’s reading romance smut on her Kindle in a bar. Surely she’s up for a good time? However, it’s not long into his flirtations that a painful memory from his past comes waltzing through the door, and bragging about her upcoming engagement party no less. He’s like a deer caught in headlights when confronted with his ex, and Beth can sense that this flirtatious playboy is hurting. So, she does the only thing she can think of. She grabs his face and kisses him. So much for Reed’s no kissing rule!

kissing

The Playboy and his Fake Girlfriend

Reed is a quintessential playboy, so what is it about this young woman that sets her apart from all the others who have come before? And believe me, there was a hefty plethora which came before. Well, there are a few things which set this lady apart from all of Reed’s former bedfellows. Firstly, she initiated their first kiss, even if it was all pretend as she simultaneously concocted a ruse of her and Reed dating in order to help him confront his cheating former ex. Beth and Reed were strangers, and yet even upon first meeting she was essentially trying to protect him. Her selflessness, not to mention their steamy kiss, practically knocked him on his ass.

couple-kissing-restaurant_1157-8326

Then there’s the whole matter of the ruse itself. When Beth pretends to be Reed’s girlfriend, and also offers to keep up the charade by accompanying him to his ex’s engagement party, their first key moments together are essentially shrouded in pretend. Reed’s goal is no longer to immediately get Beth into bed, but rather to survive this awkward confrontation with his ex. In order to distract him from the unusual circumstances of their pretend relationship, Beth opens up about herself, and in turn gets Reed to open up about himself as well. It’s the first time in years that he’s simply been able to be himself with another woman, and develop a connection that is beyond sex. Reed and Beth both become smitten with each other throughout the course of the evening, and it’s during this engagement party that they decide to stop pretending.

tenor

Everything in Moderation

While Beth does her best to take Reed’s mind off the awkwardness of the evening, he chooses to find additional solace in alcohol. It doesn’t stop him though from ultimately opening up to Beth, and admitting that he wants to take her home. What follows is a passionate night of multiple orgasms…that we don’t actually get to read about firsthand. You see, there’s one little problem with this entire situation. Come morning, Reed doesn’t remember any of the details of their sexual escapades.

the-hangover-the-wolfpack-with-baby-carlos-56b2f6333df78cdfa0046550

Imagine for a moment being new to town, offering to be a fake girlfriend for a complete stranger, spending an amazing night together getting up to all kinds of dirty deeds, and then when you wake up hoping to have a continuation of said dirty deeds you realize that your fake boyfriend for the night doesn’t remember any of the sex from the previous evening. Needless to say, Beth bolts out of there in sheer embarrassment. You gotta hand it to Reed though, the man must be one high-functioning black-out drunk. As the days pass, and his calls to Beth go unanswered, he starts to remember snippets of their night together, and hot damn! They made use of every surface of his house, not to mention got creative in the kitchen with various condiment options. Let this be a lesson to you ladies and gents, alcohol in moderation. You don’t want to forget these steamy details!

giphy

Off-Balance

The first half of this novel was an absolute hoot. The entire set-up of their fake relationship which quickly developed into something more was extremely entertaining. You also can’t help but feel slightly bad for Reed in his hungover state. It’s not like he tried to kick Beth out of his bed in the morning or anything. He actually tried his damnedest to convince her to stay and talk things out. He may not have remembered their sexual exploits from the previous night, but he remembered how he felt about her. That he knew she was special, and that he enjoyed the moments they could simply laugh together.

590961

What follows are some humorous scenes where Reed tries to win her back, but everything takes a more serious turn with the introduction of some drama surrounding the couple from the first novel in this series. It’s in this moment that both Reed and Beth realize how important they are to each other, and Beth decides to stop running. They decide to make a go of an official relationship, and Reed is especially determined to make up for all the lost bedroom time. This results in the second-half of the novel being pretty sex-heavy, to the point where you almost forget how they came together in the first place. Either the events from the first half needed to be spread out more evenly over the course of the novel, or maybe we could have trimmed a sex scene or two from the second half. I know, trimming sexing scenes seems so unlike me, right?!

beautiful-bed-black-and-white-boys-Favim.com-3155369

Series: Alabama Summer, book 3. My favorite book of the series so far. Still not without its faults, but we seem to be moving in an upward trajectory. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Final Impressions: I definitely enjoyed this one. Beth especially was a unique and intriguing character considering her background of familial loss, homelessness, and even emotional abuse at the hands of another man. As for Reed, it was refreshing to see this playboy learn to find happiness with another woman outside of the bedroom. He even admits that it’s the moments in between their time in the sheets that become his favorite where they can simply have fun laughing together. We do see some additional drama come into play towards the end involving Beth’s dad (which in my opinion was slightly unnecessary), as well as the return of a jerk from Beth’s past, which also wasn’t my favorite as it demonstrated Beth’s vulnerability and lack of confidence in her relationship with Reed. Overall though, the story manages to come full circle, and Reed is able to demonstrate his full devotion to this woman.

Smut Level: Yowza! When you read about using honey in a sexual scenario…well that just seems like a sticky mess with very little appeal.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. JD Publishing, LLC. 372 Pages.

McSexy by Sianah Nalika DeShield

Jollof rice and fried chicken. Banku and tilapia. This novel has me craving Ghanaian culinary specialties like nobody’s business!

What’s it About? 

41pEqfxDAoL

Name: Michael Abeiku Frimpong Aka Mike Frimpong
Age: 27
Nationality: Ghanaian
Net worth: $250 million United States Dollars.
About him: Yale University Graduate, MBA. Masters of Business Administration BBA. Bachelors of Business Administration. Millionaire at age twenty-one, CEO of Frimpong Insurance Corp. Voted number one most eligible bachelor by the women of Ghana for five consecutive years. Grand Master of the female orgasm, and serial playboy until his manhood was questioned, leaving him no choice but to accept the wager of getting a woman pregnant or pay $200,000 USD. Well, it’s on!

Name: Lilian Akosua Annah Aka Lily Annah
Age: 24
Nationality: Ghanaian
Net worth: The last time she checked, there were 300 Ghana cedis, the equivalent of $60.00 USD in her account.
About her: Shy, nerdy, insecure, and likes to think she is an average woman since she seems invisible to men and the last time she had a boyfriend was three years ago, but is she really that average? University of Cape Coast Ph.D. Candidate, Educational Psychology, Masters of Philosophy, Educational Psychology, M.Phil. University of Ghana, Legon, Bachelor of Arts, English BA, author of Affong’s Wishes, the newest children’s book set for the next academic year curriculum for the students in Ghana, beautiful dark skin, perfect hips, tiny waist, a good pair of perky tits, eyes that are absolutely beautiful, adorable, and innocent, they could make you do anything she wants, a voice that is so hypnotic it would make you go wild and submit to her, and a brain that is so sharp that it makes Mike Frimpong’s four-point zero grade point average at Yale seem less achievable.

One visit to her book launch leaves the playboy’s heart pumping and manhood twitching, not just from thinking of claiming her, but also making her the perfect woman to carry his child. Oops… she’s off limits and could cost him everything.

Is the playboy bold enough to chase her, risking everything he’s worked for in the process, or is he willing to let the one woman who stops his heartbeat for the first time walk out of his life?

First Impressions

What is our first impression of Mike Frimpong? He’s a successful and wealthy businessman who has fought his way out of abject poverty to reach the top. He’s worked hard throughout the years, focusing on his education, and is now in a position where he can give back to his community. He’s also a womanizer. More troubling though is that he has some questionable reactions when his masculinity is questioned. Our story opens with Mike’s masculine pride at stake as a rumor spreads of his supposed impotency. He’s never had a serious, long-term relationship before in his life, so there must be some kind of issue going on down there. A close friend of his provides him with a possible solution, saying that if Mike were to have a baby, people would finally take him more seriously. This friend even goads Mike into making a bet on the matter. A bet which Mike agrees to.

48467940

Now, if Mike were just setting out to try and get his foot into the corporate world, I might have had more sympathy for him agreeing to this bet of getting a woman pregnant. But at the end of the day…it was all about him. Others were questioning his manhood, and therefore he had to dispel the rumors in any way he could. It was ultimately a selfish decision that he entered into speedily without much thought as to the fact that his actions would make him responsible for another human being. We’ve all read romance novels with a marriage bet or contract of some kind involving two consenting adults who eventually fall in love. No big surprise or issue there. But to have the result of a bet be a child? Simply because the main character worried others saw him as less of a man? Eek, definitely not painting him in the best light for our first impression!

Surrogacy Takes Hold

To briefly summarize the progression of events, Mike meets Lily at a book signing, they both hit it off, and they decide to go on a few dates. However, Lily also happens to be strapped for cash to save her family home, so in order to get a lot of money (and fast), she answers a newspaper ad calling for a surrogate. Little does she know that she’s actually answering Mike’s ad, and little does Mike know that Lily is the one he’s selected to be his surrogate seeing as she used a fake name when applying. One little doctor’s visit later and Lily is pregnant with Mike’s baby…only she doesn’t know it’s his. And technically she’s still dating Mike, even though she’s pregnant with what she assumes is another man’s baby. The plot thickens!

false-positive-test

Both Lily and Mike respectively question the timeline of their burgeoning relationship once Lily’s pregnancy becomes a reality, which lends an interesting psychological perspective to their dilemma. For Lily, it’s a signal of the end of whatever it is that’s starting between them. After all, it’s not long before she’ll start showing, and there’s no way Mike would be interested in dating a woman who is carrying another man’s baby for money. Right? As for Mike, now is the time he wants to dig his heels in with Lily, and get to know her even more. He sees her in his life long term, which means she’ll inevitably need to be comfortable raising the baby another woman carried for him. Little do they know how linked they’ve truly become in this surrogacy. Which was an aspect that seemed slightly…questionable.

Aba kate

Mike is a business man. He may have entered into this baby bet quickly, but I can’t believe he wouldn’t have done his due diligence when it came to the woman who would carry his child. The fact a thorough background check wouldn’t have been involved to ensure this woman was who she said she was, and not using a fake name, seemed relatively unbelievable. Sure, it does allow for a build-up of suspense, as you wonder how long it will be before they undoubtedly discover the other’s role/identity in this surrogacy endeavor. That being said, it seems to go against Mike’s very nature which made him such a success in the first place.

Jeffter-KwaahCCKC9639

The Question of Longevity

The ultimate question with any romance is whether or not the relationship will last. Mike insists that Lily means everything to him, but simultaneously admits that “Just the thought of commitment makes me nauseated.” Lily doesn’t doubt that Mike loves her, and that he would make a wonderful husband. Yet, she constantly wonders if he’ll cheat on her, and worries that he’ll eventually hurt her by going back to his womanizing ways. In addition, the entire existence of their baby springs forth a whole other slew of worries in her mind. Is he only in love with her because she’s pregnant? Will he one day grow to hate her decision to be a surrogate because she was once willing to give her baby over to the arms of a stranger? If she doesn’t marry Mike is she strong enough to be a single mother? Is she only looking to marry Mike now because of the fact she’s afraid of being a single mother?

maxresdefault.jpg

I want to believe that by the end of the novel they’ve worked through all of these inner doubts to get to a point where they are confident in their decision to spend the rest of their lives together. However, I can’t say I’m entirely convinced. At one point another character warns Mike that he and Lily are simply “playing house”, and in a way I agree. When the reality of commitment and parenthood comes knocking on their door we question if they’ll be able to maintain their relationship. There were scenes where our characters faced some difficult tests to their relationship, and they’re both willing to stand up to fight for their love. However, we see other moments which highlight that sometimes when the going gets tough, our characters are wont to flee. At one point in particular we see Mike become so distraught at overhearing Lily’s doubts regarding their relationship that he runs into the arms of another woman. This continual flux of fleeing from, yet also fighting for their relationship leaves you in a kind of limbo over the fate of their relationship.

Portrait Of Loving African American Couple In Countryside

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

Series: Stand-Alone

Final Impressions: The length could have been slightly shorter, with more attention focused on resolving their individual insecurities about the relationship, as well as them coming together over the fact they’re about to be parents. By the end it sort of seems like they’re both determined to give their relationship a go, but the fact they’re bringing a whole other life into the world was somewhat glossed over. There is some drama introduced towards the end, including the fact that their surrogacy arrangement becomes public knowledge throughout the community. It’s sort of brushed aside to the point where you wonder if it will ever be resolved, and it isn’t until the final moments of the book that this story point comes back into play. This resulted in the ending feeling a bit rushed, but we do get some fabulous moments of Lily finally standing up for her man. Definitely some well constructed verbal sparring matches that will make you want to applaud Lily for her candor. In spite of these moments though, I still can’t say I was entirely convinced by the end that Mike and Lily were poised for a long-term successful relationship.

Smut Level: Mike is a former womanizer, which means he brings plenty of experience to the table. Surprisingly though, Lily isn’t afraid to lead the show a time or two.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 405 Pages

The Room Mate by Kendall Ryan

Upon learning that every woman who sleeps with Cannon falls in love with him, Paige has one immediate thought. Challenge accepted!

What’s it About? 

51ZOVqxfhdL

The last time I saw my best friend’s younger brother, he was a geek wearing braces. But when Cannon shows up to crash in my spare room, I get a swift reality check.

Now twenty-four, he’s broad shouldered and masculine, and so sinfully sexy, I want to climb him like the jungle gyms we used to enjoy. At six-foot-something with lean muscles hiding under his T-shirt, a deep sexy voice, and full lips that pull into a smirk when he studies me, he’s pure temptation.

Fresh out of a messy breakup, he doesn’t want any entanglements. But I can resist, right? I’m holding strong until the third night of our new arrangement when we get drunk and he confesses his biggest secret of all: he’s cursed when it comes to sex. Apparently he’s a god in bed, and women instantly fall in love with him.

I’m calling bullshit. In fact, I’m going to prove him wrong, and if I rack up a few much-needed orgasms in the process, all the better. There’s no way I’m going to fall in love with Cannon. But once we start…I realize betting against him may have been the biggest mistake of my life.

First Impressions

“Looking back over the last two months, I could only wonder how I came to be standing over his body holding a can of gasoline and a book of matches.” Well…that’s certainly a way to grab your reader’s attention in the first sentence of the prologue! After this rather sinister introduction we switch back to the start of those two months to see how Cannon and Paige initially reconnected after so many years apart. As the story played out I constantly kept chanting to myself, “don’t forget about the first line, it’s gonna come back at some point!” I don’t know if we were meant to forget about it so that when it eventually did occur we’d be flabbergasted at the call back, or if throughout the story we were supposed to constantly wonder how this seemingly idyllic romance blossoming between our two leads was going to head south so fast. Needless to say for me, I experienced the latter.

giphy (1)

The Curse

It’s not long into their time together before Cannon shares a little tidbit of information that after women sleep with him they immediately fall in love with him. Except, there’s actually a more pressing issue at play here than the synopsis would have you believe. The real dilemma isn’t just that women fall in love with Cannon after having sex, it’s that they seem to become slightly unhinged after realizing they were just a one and done for him. One woman broke into his apartment and destroyed most of his possessions, which is how Cannon came to temporarily live with Paige in the first place.

rowan_row

Another woman even went so far as to try and kill herself. As we see Paige and Cannon’s fairly uneventful romance play out throughout the novel, we constantly wonder how Paige might arrive at a similar deranged state as these other women to the point where she’d be standing over Cannon covered in gasoline with a book of matches in her hand. When we do finally reconnect with that moment towards the end of the book, I must admit it was kind of a letdown. Obviously the reality isn’t the scene we were meant to believe, and the entire thing is brushed aside rather quickly with no real resolution. After reminding myself throughout the whole book to hold onto that opening scene, I was left feeling pretty disappointed.

PleasedLoneDikkops-size_restricted

The Challenge

So how do two former acquaintances turned roommates end up in bed together when there’s a clear-cut curse on the line? Their initial foray into tonsil hockey and the horizontal mambo is twofold. We have blatant carnal lust, mixed with a challenge. Throughout their childhood, Cannon always had a crush on the best friend of his older sister. Paige on the other hand always saw him as her friend’s somewhat geeky younger brother. It’s been years since they’ve seen each other, especially considering Cannon’s busy schedule as he prepares for his doctoral residency. When Cannon’s sister makes her initial plea to allow her brother to room with Paige for the next few months, it never crossed anybody’s mind that the two would be anything other than friends. However, when Cannon makes his grand arrival at her home he’s surprised to find that his desire for her never went away.

the-resident-renewed-season-3-fox

Paige is simultaneously flabbergasted at Cannon’s transformation since she last saw him. Goodbye geek, hello sexy doctor! They’re both clearly attracted to each other, yet they insist they shouldn’t cross the line into a physical relationship. But then we’re introduced to Cannon’s infamous curse. When Paige hears about these plethora of other women who have lost their minds over Cannon’s sexual prowess in bed, to say she’s intrigued would be an understatement. The man must be a beast in the sack to garner such a reaction so many times. These other women may have fallen in love with him, but Paige insists she’s stronger, and has more willpower than to fall victim to the curse. Alas, the challenge aspect has emerged. Paige is determined to prove she and Cannon can fulfill their carnal desire for each other, and she won’t fall in love with him. But…what happens if he should fall in love with her instead?

logan-shirtless-gilmore-girls

Familial Obligation

While Cannon agrees they shouldn’t act upon their blatant attraction to each other, he also can’t help but tease and toy with Paige. When they bump into each other as he exits the shower and she notices his…impressive manhood, he teases that she can touch it if she wants to. When she unexpectedly walks in on him pleasuring himself he can’t help but smirk and ask if she’s there to help him along. He apparently craves her blush almost as much as he desires her body. And yet, they both agree it wouldn’t be a smart decision considering their short-term living arrangements, their long-term friendship, and the fact his sister would freak out over it. Ha, we all know it’s just a matter of time before the inevitable happens!

MV5BZDY5NzVjMTEtMDUyZS00MTEzLTgyOWYtOGYwNDcyNjE2MjQzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTgyNzQ4ODQ@._V1_

Probably the strongest feature of this novel dealt with the subject of Cannon’s sense of responsibility to his family. For years it’s just been him, his mother and sister. He’s vowed to take care of them in any way he can. What better way to provide financial stability for them than to become a successful doctor? And yet, we come to learn that in order to provide that stability he’s willing to sacrifice a lot of his own personal happiness along the way. When a promising opportunity presents itself on the other side of the country, the question becomes will he be able to give up this new possible romance with Paige because of his longstanding dedication to familial obligation?

Denver_Co_BF

Series: Roommates, book 1.

Final Impressions: This book was…fine. After a rather gripping introduction we proceed with a fairly standard love story of friends/roommates becoming more. There were some rather tender-hearted emotional moments between Paige and Cannon which were quite special, but I wanted more of them. In these moments our lovebirds were able to hold and comfort each other through difficult times, and truly demonstrate the formation of an emotional bond between them. While I commended Cannon’s commitment to his family, I must say his sister’s reaction to ultimately discovering Paige and Cannon’s relationship was rather childish. She fears Paige will be a distraction which will inhibit Cannon from reaching his lofty goals of wealth and success to provide for her and their mother. Get over it, they’re both consenting adults! And stop looking at your brother as a gravy train!

Smut Level: Condoms + latex allergy = an awkward, yet rather informative conversation!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Kendall Ryan LLC. 324 Pages.

The Romantic Prophecy by Tessa Andrews

Spending two months at a secluded game reserve where you can get away from all the stresses of the real world, and focus all of your attention solely on creating art? Not to mention the added benefit of the dashing game reserve owner showering you with all of his personal attention. Sounds like paradise. Now…if only I knew how to paint!

What’s it About?

41bxA2TavHL

Karen Devitt is a hugely talented artist on the cusp of greatness. Then life cruelly conspires against her. Through love and a sense of duty she neglects her painting, at great cost to herself, and tends to her sick and ailing father. At the same time her brother, in the absence of their father, is forced to take over the family firm which starts to collapse under his stewardship.

Single, and something of a gooseberry, Karen meets the dashing and ruggedly good looking Ralph Corbeck, a wealthy landowner of a prestigious game reserve in southern Africa. He is also a highly regarded businessman and a ruthless investor that has identified and targeted the Devitts failing family business for an aggressive takeover.

From Karen and Ralph’s first encounter emotions run high, and unwittingly, Karen is lured on an artist’s retreat to his game reserve where she stays at his extraordinary chalet, Vundu Lodge. Here, she begins to get an insight into who the real Ralph Corbeck is. Betrayal, deceit, jealousy and love all have their role to play, and the inferno and beauty of the African wilderness fuels their searing and beautiful romance.

First Impressions

With the start of our novel we are presented with a kind of Beauty and the Beast scenario between our female lead, Karen, and our hunky landowner, Ralph. In Karen’s mind Ralph is as beastly as they come. The two had a rather unfortunate first meeting, he supposedly stole away her brother’s fiancée years before, and he has now set his sights on overtaking their family business after their father has fallen ill. Oh, and did I mention that he’s bought their childhood home as well? Karen asks herself what more this brute of a man could possibly want. As it turns out, he demands her presence at his secluded game reserve for a period of two months. Her time there is initiated as an invitation, but before stepping onto the plane she becomes acutely aware of the fact that if she should leave the reserve early, he’ll practically destroy the family legacy her father worked so hard to build. Or…so it would seem.

namibia-damaraland-flying-safari-above-mist-belt-dana-allen

After arriving at the rolling paradise that is Vundu Lodge, Karen is intent to spend as little time as possible in this beast’s presence. And yet, circumstances of course bring them closer and closer together. She is able to uncover a softer side to this supposed brute, and it throws all of her initial impressions out of whack. Could a man with such passion and caring for his home here possibly be all that bad? Perhaps there is more to this man than meets the eye. It’s not long before Karen starts to fall for this man she was initially determined to hate forever, and she eventually starts to wonder if she could possibly see herself remaining in this remote part of the world that she’s come to care for almost as much as the man who has come to capture her heart.

Australia_704_1

Dangerous Beauty

Perhaps the most enthralling part of this read was the stark juxtaposition of city vs. open plains, as well as the contrast of how beautiful, yet dangerous this landscape could truly be. We become immediately enchanted by this quiet landscape just as Karen does. It can sometimes be hard to imagine a place that is completely void of the encroachment of civilization and modernity, yet for a brief moment the author transports us to this magical place. An area lacking “…billboards or glass window displays, no litter, no fast food outlets, no music, no people – just a dusty road encased by bush and majestic trees with abundant wildlife.”

zambezi-national-park-1

However, we also see the other side of the coin when it comes to this spectacular paradise seemingly untouched by humanity. The dangers of nature become immediately apparent, from predators stalking their prey, to intense heat, the immorality of poachers, crazy witch doctors, and the endless miles of dry earth stretched in every direction. It’s a give and take to both appreciate the beauty laid out in the wild, yet also take heed of the threats which might be lurking hidden in the bush.

832934_lioness-hunting-lion-hunt-big-cat-wild-life-cats-free-wallpapers_1600x1200_h

What Happens When You Assume? 

Misunderstandings abound throughout this novel, which even hearken back to Ralph and Karen’s first meeting. Things just sort of snowball from there, primarily stemming from Ralph’s involvement in her family’s affairs. It is only after she arrives at Vundu Lodge and the two are able to spend some quality time together that we get a slight reprieve from all the conjecture. Emotions stir, and physical intimacy ensues before everything comes to a crashing halt. Assumptions rise up once again with the introduction of a female character who Karen is convinced means more to Ralph than herself. The end result involves a further building of misunderstanding that neither Ralph nor Karen allow to be explained away by any sort of conversation between them. Karen doesn’t elaborate on why she’s suddenly demanding that Ralph leave her alone, and Ralph doesn’t press for answers. This man, who in the beginning was so demanding of Karen’s presence in his life, now surprisingly demands no explanation as to why her affections so quickly turned back to animosity.

6270961935_4cbcfdafcf_b

As the story evolves we see a growing distance form between them which becomes increasingly exaggerated with each new assumption Karen garners about what must be going on in Ralph’s life. While this method certainly intensified the overall dramatic nature of the plot, there’s one major flaw with this kind of build-up. It’s frustrating. All of these misconceptions could have been simply explained away with one quick and honest conversation between our two characters, yet they continuously shied away from having any kind of dialogue. As Karen continued to jump from one conclusion to another you wanted to scream at her to openly confront Ralph with what was bothering her, because we all knew there’d be some kind of easy explanation as to what was going on. And that’s ultimately what happens. When all of a character’s fears and doubts can be explained away in one five-minute conversation at the end of the novel, you question why it couldn’t have taken place back when her worries were initially taking shape.

1

“…I was jumping like a lemming from one conclusion to another.”

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

Series: Zambezi series, book 1. I’m interested to see what might be in store next for our characters, and this precious oasis which is being threatened by outside forces.

Final Impressions: The majesty of the landscape came across in practically every page, yet so too did its dangers. The animosity/affection between Karen and Ralph was in constant flux throughout the novel, which both added to the dramatic, yet frustrating progression of the story. I was surprised that one side plot didn’t elevate into a more suspenseful story line, as it dealt with jilted lovers and corruption. In the end though it was actually a smart move to refrain from going down that road, as it would have been a stark personality turn for a certain character. That being said it did lend to a building of suspense that seemed to fizzle out a bit. Lo and behold though there’s an even bigger surprise lying in wait. Just when it seems all is well for our characters, we get a surprising last minute introduction of intrigue and a cliffhanger ending that will make you go, “say whaaaaat?”

Smut Level: If you thought the Serengeti was hot, just wait until you see what these two can get up to in a bathtub.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. £4.07 Kindle Price. Lilford Squire Publishing. 275 Pages

Locke by Harper Sloan

Alas, it’s time to say goodbye to the members of Corps Security. This series has been brimming with alpha male tendencies from start to finish!

What’s it About? 

41LCnYQDV+L

Darkness is the only thing I see. Ever since the day my life changed. The day that everything and everyone I held close to me ceased to exist. The day I lost it all and the demons of my past consumed my every waking moment.

I tried to keep others at arm’s length. Tried not to let my darkness taint them. Ruin them. Harm them. And whether I want to admit it or not, as much as I wish I could keep them locked out, they refuse to leave. Refuse to let me suffer alone.

If I hadn’t been so focused on keeping those demons from flying free, I wouldn’t have missed how one perfect angel was able to sneak her way under my skin—refusing to let go. Making me want things I don’t deserve.

She consumes me. Her beauty knows no end. The love she promises tempts me every time she’s near. But that pure heart that makes her MY Emmy is the one thing I’m convinced I’ll destroy if I ever let her close.

I’m a broken man. A broken man with too much darkness in his soul to ever let her light shine upon me. But even that doesn’t stop me from craving her with every single breath in my body.

First Impressions

Emmy and Locke’s relationship has been playing out over the last two novels, so with the opening moments of this final book it sort of feels like we’re coming smack dab into the middle of their tale. In a way we’ve missed the meet cute, the initial attractions, and the fundamental draw of what connected them in the first place. That “thing” that sets each of them apart from any other love interest who has come before. With the start of this book we dive right into the complexities and intricacies of their relationship which has previously been established. You’re almost expected to remember all of the details, with very little recap or summary provided. Because we’ve only seen minor glimpses and insinuations of their attraction in the background scenes of the previous books, it seems we’ve missed out on some of the important first moments of their relationship.

Almost Kiss (7)

A Life in Sin

Even if we don’t necessarily know what drew Emmy and Locke together in the first place, an important aspect of their pasts that they both share are some unbelievably heartless family members. Specifically in regards to their mothers. These are women who laugh in the face of a daughter having been raped, or a son who suffered through the losses of war and an adulterous fiancée. While Emmy and Locke have both been heavily influenced by the tragic events of their pasts which are directly tied to the actions of their family, the novel focuses much more attention and depth into Locke’s recovery from his past tragedies. Those which Emmy encountered at the hands of her parents and one of their employees was barely touched upon in comparison. Emmy grew up being groomed by both of her parents to be the head act of their strip club, Sin, and didn’t see any problem or intervention necessary when she was continuously raped by one of their employees.

shutterstock_1103271839

Her goal in life was always to escape from this hell she had to live through every day, and ultimately it was Coope who provided the assistance necessary years beforehand to leave that life behind. And yet, after Coope’s death in a previous book, we see that she willingly goes back to that life. She voluntarily goes right back to Sin, into the scheming hands of her parents, and back to the abuse of her rapist. She could have gone anywhere in the world, but Emmy chose to go back there. Unfortunately we never really explore the psychology of this monumental decision, but rather get a brief mention that for some reason she thinks she deserves to be where she is. Eventually Emmy reflects on how much Coope risked to get her out of there all those years ago, and laments the fact she’s right back where she started. However, in the end it is Locke who succeeds in removing her from this abusive environment a second time. She never really takes it upon herself to confront her past directly. Things happen to her or around her, but she never really has the choice to heal from the pains of her past.

Screen-Shot-2017-08-08-at-11.44.06-AM-650x369

Confronting the Past

As for Locke, we see a full exploration of the hurt caused by his family, his ex-fiancée who left him for his brother, and the aftermath of losing his leg in war. Emmy also makes the astute observation that due to his past with a scheming, backstabbing fiancée he doesn’t believe in love…for himself. He’s actually fully supportive of all his friends who have found love in their lives, and has always been the one to push them into the arms of their forever person. Emmy helps him confront his past slowly, piece by piece, and even helps him find professional help to resolve the areas too deep for her to assist with. The novel concludes with Locke finally facing the demons of his past head on, and letting them know how much better his life is now without them. And yet, we see no final moment of resolution for Emmy. She has no heart-to-heart discussion with her parents, no ultimate face-off to finally stand up on her own two feet. Instead Locke is always the one to solve her problems for her, with Emmy remaining in the background.

michael-fassbender-as-magneto-in-x-men-apocalypse_copy

Series: Corps Security, book 6. The final book in the series. 

Final Impressions: Overall a satisfying conclusion to the series, as we see a final overview of each of our couples from the previous books. More time is spent observing the tragedies that both Emmy and Locke suffered through in their respective pasts rather than recapping the details of how their relationship got off the ground in the first place. Ultimately it seems that Locke is provided with more opportunities to directly confront his issues head-on, whereas Emmy never really as the chance to stand-up to her parents who cause her so much pain. We do get a very suspenseful confrontation between Emmy and her rapist, but this wasn’t so much her confronting her past as it was her past coming back to confront her.

Smut Level: Locke is the king of delayed gratification, multiple orgasms, and dirty talk.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 271 Pages.

Slow Burn by J.H. Croix

Slow burn? More like a fast moving five-alarm fire of lust!

What’s it About? 51fLufGgOwL

I put out fires for a living. I can take some heat. But Maisie drives me crazy. She’s smart-mouthed, sarcastic and argumentative. This town’s too small for both of us. But she works for me. Unfortunately. It’s a big no-no for me to want her. She’s brash and beautiful and tempts me beyond distraction. There are different kinds of fire, and this one will make her melt. There’s only one problem: this fire might be too hot for both of us.

First Impressions

This romance has a strong start. Maisie still considers herself a newcomer to this small Alaska town, having moved here permanently after the death of her grandmother. It’s a place where everybody knows everybody’s business, yet she prefers to stay reserved to the background without making any waves. Too bad she’s drawn the attention of local playboy firefighter, Beck Steele. If that’s not the perfect name for a hot shot flirtatious male lead, I don’t know what is! Ever since she started working as the emergency call operator in their fire station, Beck has been smitten with this city girl who seems immune to his charms. Little does she know that simply makes him want to tease and flirt with her all the more.

c1791f1c074cabf30354e340e02156ac

When Beck unexpectedly discovers Maisie showering in the fire house due to a lack of hot water at her own place, his first glance at her naked body covered in soapy suds has him done for. They’re both consenting adults who clearly have a steamy attraction to each other, and he proposes they finally give into the passion which has been simmering just under the surface since they first met. Will their fiery connection fizzle out after a few rolls between the sheets, or will they also see the ignition of an emotional connection? Alright, that’s about all the subtle fire puns I can fit into one introduction.

Fire-Puns.png

Willow Brook

The other townsfolk of Willow Brook are just as much a part of this story as Maisie and Beck. In spite of Maisie sometimes wanting to close herself off from feeling too much for the people in this small town, we see that they’re even more stubborn in their attempts to draw her into their fold. Once Maisie and Beck start exploring a more intimate relationship with each other, we see them try to keep this a secret, especially from the other men in the fire station who might develop a negative impression of Maisie. However, their connection is so strong it quickly becomes clear to those around them that they care for each other. They’re especially excited to see Beck, one of their own who has always limited himself from spending too much time with any one woman, falling so hard for Maisie. It doesn’t take long before they start to see her as own of their own, and will do anything to protect her and see that she and Beck find the happily ever after they both deserve.

Petersburg-Flickr-Chris-deRham-e1462062854869.jpg

Beyond the Flames

Whenever we have a romance featuring a firefighter, we all expect a certain level of intensity and suspense surrounding such a dangerous profession. It’s not surprising that this can often prove a point of contention between couples in a romance novel. However, this is a feature which surprisingly never rises to prominence in Slow Burn. As a matter of fact, when you go beyond the developing relationship between Maisie and Beck, there’s a definite lack in any real struggle or drama to the plot. What we have here is essentially a focus on how two people explore a sexual relationship with each other, and how their physical connection eventually evolves into one of love. Towards the end of the novel there’s a brief introduction of Maisie’s troubled father who often seeks her out to provide him with money. While this is used as an opportunity to highlight how Beck and the townspeople of Willow Brook will always have Maisie’s interests at heart, it never develops into a dramatic side plot that one would expect.

layingfire2

Series: Into the Fire, book 2. I haven’t read the first novel in this series, and while the couple from book one makes a reappearance in this sequel, I had no trouble delving right into this second book.

Final Impressions: Overall we’re presented with a slew of enjoyable characters, from our main couple to the other residents of this small Alaska town. Our romance starts strong, with Maisie and Beck having a teasing flirtation between them that quickly develops into something physical. While we are rooting for our characters to end up together, you also can’t help but notice a slight lack of substance to the plot.

Smut Level: Showers prove to be the sexual locale of choice for these two, whether it be in the firehouse, or back at Maisie’s place. I hope they can keep their balance!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 252 Pages.