Entrance by J.J. Sorel

Clarissa has just been granted a dream job working for a mysterious billionaire. She’s determined to keep to herself, but one look at Aidan changes everything.

What’s it About?

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The boss’s name was a mystery. But judging by the opulent surroundings, he was filthy rich, with impeccable tastes. The following day, I moved into his breathtaking Malibu estate and instantly went from impoverished art history grad to living in style. My new boss made my knees weak. Aidan Thornhill was insanely handsome. Then, one night on his yacht I gave him my innocence, and from there it descended into sheet-gripping unbridled lust. I’d been warned not to fall for him, and as secrets and gossip emerged about his shadowy past, I didn’t know who or what to believe. Suddenly I was faced with the hardest decision of my life…. Should I run from this fairytale romance and dream job, or risk my heart by remaining in Aidan Thornhill’s strong arms?

Clarissa Moone took my breath away. With the buttons threatening to pop on that tight shirt she wore, she had the type of curves that kept a man up at night. Innocence was the last thing I expected from someone so beautiful and sensual. I had two golden rules when it came to sex–no employees and no virgins. But rules are meant to be broken, right? Instead of running, I took control. She gave me her innocence, and I unleashed something deliciously dirty in her. I never expected to fall hard. But I’d become addicted. I couldn’t stay away… not even for a night. Then my ugly past entered, threatening to destroy everything I’d built. I was prepared to lose everything… but not Clarissa.

First Impressions

The beginning of this novel almost had a Beauty and the Beast influence to it. Clarissa has come to work for this mysterious billionaire in his huge house. While he might not be scarred physically, he has his mental and emotional wounds which heavily impact his relationships with others. Hell, we even get the introduction of a huge library, although her father is a bit more enamored with it than she is. So maybe not a direct retelling of the classic fairy tale, but it certainly has that aura. For Clarissa there is a constant debate of whether or not to act on the feelings he’s stirred within her. On the one hand, she doesn’t want to risk losing this amazing job by sleeping with the boss, but she also can’t deny her intense attraction to him. For Aidan, there is no debate. He sees, he wants, he acts, he possesses.

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The Virgin and the Conqueror 

Aidan has never felt this way for a woman before, and that’s saying something. As a reformed sex addict he’s certainly indulged in his fair share of feminine delights. Following his return from Afghanistan he drowned his pain in willing women. It was his way to forget and numb the pain, and also resulted in him developing a reputation as a use ’em and leave ’em kind of guy. It’s a difficult reputation for Clarissa to accept, no matter how many times others remind her of it. He’s always seemed so caring and generous in her presence, and his involvement with multiple charities can only be described as selfless. She struggles with the dichotomy of his reputation as a ladies man and the caring man she feels in her heart he must be. Clarissa defends Aidan whenever his character is called into question, yet each rumor manages to make her question what she actually knows about this man.

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Something I appreciated with this read was that apart from one initial instance where Clarissa internalized her doubts by avoiding Aidan, for the most part she was never afraid to confront him with her worries. With every rumor of an ex fiancée, another one-night stand, or his need for a psychologist, she asks him for the truth. And for his part Aidan is pretty open about sharing the complicated details of his past. That’s not to say their relationship is completely without fault though. After all, Aidan has a rather unhealthy obsession of constantly knowing Clarissa’s whereabouts, and a feeling of possessiveness that borders on the shocking. In addition, they have a tendency to resort to sex rather than fully expressing themselves through words.

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

Series: Thornhill Trilogy, book 1. Not really a cliffhanger ending, but some things were left unresolved so they can be addressed in a future novel. I personally probably would have liked a more finite ending, as it sort of felt like a mid-scene conclusion.

Final Impressions: A strong start for sure. I enjoyed seeing this shy and sensitive virgin connect with this man who awakens her sexual desires in a way she never imagined possible. After they come together they are able to have an emotional connection over the difficulties of their pasts, although it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface. I will say it didn’t take long before their many sexual escapades started to feel repetitive, both in the language used to describe the scenes, as well as the progression of the scenes themselves. I almost would have preferred to see fewer sex scenes, or perhaps have them spaced out a bit more, and instead bring in more of the mystery component surrounding Aidan’s source of wealth and his gruff army companion who seems hellbent on blackmail.

Smut Level: There are many mentions of Clarissa’s thighs or panties being sticky. Realistic description? Sure, but sooooo much stickiness happening here.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 269 Pages.

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Under the Skin by Zara West

Well folks, the time has come to bid a fond farewell to the The Skin Quartet series, as we’ve arrived at the fourth and final installment of the bunch. This time it’s Hanger’s turn to find romance in the tough city streets of New York. It’s been ten years since we last saw this spunky street kid graffiti artist, and he’s now grown into a wealthy and sophisticated architect. Or has he?

What’s it About? 

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Born poor and raised on the streets, celebrated bridge builder and billionaire, Mic Vargas is knee-deep in the construction of a trouble-plagued bridge from Manhattan to New Jersey. He really can’t afford to take in a stray thief and fall in love with her. But when a beautiful, snappy-tongued, illegal immigrant literally drops at his feet, he becomes consumed with saving her and her family from poverty.

Cat burglar, Lena Correr stopped trusting anyone long ago. Not even a rich, handsome billionaire with good intentions can break through her defenses. At least, not until an East Coast crime boss threatens her family and forces her to steal for him. Mic vows to help her and her family escape the hell they are in. But will the man Lena is coming to love succeed, or will he end up dead at the hands of an old enemy?

First Impressions

Of all the books contained within this series, this final novel proves to have the most poignant, thought-provoking, and perhaps relatable observation of them all. Up until this point, we have seen a focus on characters who were wealthy billionaires, tattoo artists, and some who lived on the streets. In this final novel we see a focus on Mic, a man who just ten years before was a kid living on the streets, putting up graffiti tags all over the city with his protective sister. He’s now a successful architect, richest beyond his wildest imagination. He lives in an expensive townhouse with fancy clothes, a soft bed, warmth, and plenty of food. And yet, who is he really when you peel away all the outer layers of perceived wealth? Who is he under the skin?

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We’ve all heard the phrase “money can’t buy happiness”, and in this novel we see an examination of how true that statement can be. For even though Mic now seemingly has everything he ever dreamed of and more, underneath it all he misses his former life living on the streets. It may not have been glamorous or safe. He may have gone to bed cold and hungry, but he lived his life the way he wanted, unbound by rules and people dictating where he could and couldn’t go. This observation that Mic carries out throughout the novel in regards to how his life has turned out grounds us as the reader. It encourages self-reflection, and for each of us to consider who we might be when we remove the facade of what others might expect of us.

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Two Peas in a Pod

This deep introspection of who a person truly is on the inside carries over into Mic’s interactions and eventual relationship with Lena. Upon first meeting, Mic has a basic surface-level impression of this young woman. She’s a thief. A child of the streets, just like he used to be. But by having come from that world, Mic understands that there is often more beneath the surface that can drive a person to sometimes do terrible things. Mic becomes transfixed to discover how this beautiful young woman resulted to thievery in order to solve her problems in life.

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As we learn who Lena is under her own skin, we discover that Mic’s initial inkling that there was more to her than meets the eye was entirely accurate. Lena steals, not for herself, but for her family. As undocumented immigrants in a big city, her mother and little brothers have few options, and she’s taken it upon herself to ensure they make it through each day in one piece. Her fall into thievery was not done because of greed, but rather survival and caring for her family. Lena was initially on the path to becoming a nurse, but when her father was deported, and the scumbag lawyer who defended him demands an exorbitant fee, Lena has no choice but to result to a life of crime. We soon see that her life is much like Alice’s, in that once she makes that first fall through the rabbit hole, things start spiraling out of control very quickly.

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The Spiral

Another successful point of this story is that it manages to keep you on your toes from start to finish. Every time you think there might be a lull in the suspense, another dramatic element will be introduced just at the right time to ensure you’re still paying attention. On the one hand, we see some shady and questionable issues surrounding Mic’s latest bridge project. On the other, things start to spiral out of control as Lena’s success as a thief draws the attention of one very seedy character who becomes intent on drawing her into his world of crime. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her over to his side, even if he has to threaten the safety of her mother and brothers to do so.

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Mic is intent on helping Lena and her family escape whatever trouble it is they’ve found themselves in, to the point where he’s willing to brush aside the turmoil of his own life in order to focus all his attention on saving this woman who has quickly come to mean so much to him. Lena constantly struggles with the question of  whether or not she should put her trust in Mic, or if she should instead do whatever she can to push him out of her life to spare him any hurt. These inner debates were successful in building up the intensity and unpredictability of a scene, yet also incredibly frustrating at times. We see her logic in the fact that she barely knows this man, and that by asking him for help she might be placing him in extreme danger that he might not be able to get them out of. At the same time though, you just want to scream at her to take the helping hand that’s being offered, to hold on with all her might and never let go.

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

Series: The Skin Quartet, book 4. It was an absolute delight to reconnect with old friends from throughout the entire series, as well as thrilling to see a few familiar foes come back into the mix as well.

Final Impressions: Even though Lena and Mic have a dramatic initial meeting, you can’t help but notice that for a good portion of the first third or so of the novel, they don’t really spend any time in each other’s immediate presence. However, that first impression was all it took for them to spend practically ever waking moment contemplating the other. It adds to the intense need of their relationship, yet also helps contribute to those moments where they can’t seem to fully trust each other seeing as they barely know each other. While there was a constant roller coaster of suspenseful moments throughout the novel, the final conclusion did seem a bit rushed over, and possibly with some loose ends still left unfinished. When all was said and done there was a lot of havoc wreaked upon our primary characters, seemingly without end for a decent amount of time, and it was rather jarring to discover that the reason behind a good portion of this pain was quite trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Smut Level: Glow-in-the-dark condom…with black light. Need I say more?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 217 Pages.

 

Teaching the Boss by Mallory Crowe

You gotta love an office romance. There are just so many desks, stairwells and elevators where two lovers can find passion!

What’s it About?

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Business-school student April Morgan is ready to graduate–from school, from the secretary pool, and from never-gonna-happen fantasies involving Sam Hunt, her hunky billionaire boss. But when Sam’s girlfriend of the week pushes her too far, April finds herself quitting on the spot with only a mountain of student loan debt to keep her company. In steps Sam’s worst enemy, his father, with a job offer she can’t refuse.

Sam was born into privilege, but refused to live life with a silver spoon in his mouth. After a decade of hard work, he’s on the verge of taking his business public and proving to his tyrannical family that he can make it without their help. When he finds out that April is working for his father, he knows she’s been turned into a pawn in his father’s twisted games.

Despite Sam’s warnings, April is determined to prove she doesn’t need him to make in New York City. But when she finds documents that could lead to Sam losing everything he’s worked for, April realizes that she and Sam have to work together to save the empire they’ve both worked to build.

First Impression

This book certainly started strong, but sort of fizzled for me as it went along. I did love that the first kiss between Sam and April was in an elevator. The only way it could have gotten better was if they’d gotten stuck in said elevator, but we can’t always get what we want! What I didn’t particularly care for though with their first foray into tonsil hockey was that April was on the verge of quitting after hearing Sam discuss transferring her to appease his current jealous girlfriend, and when April was ripping him a new one he basically just kissed her because he knew it would shock her into silence. And then they both realized how much they liked it.

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Really? That’s the impetus for them taking things to the next level, he essentially wanted to shut her up? At least April had a rather longstanding crush on the guy. For Sam he acknowledges that he checked out her curves pretty soon after she started working for him, and that he came to rely on her professionally as his administrative assistant. Only when she decides to quit does he realize what he’s about to lose. Here’s the thing, I know their connection goes deeper than that. I knowwwww it. They just do a pretty poor job of verbalizing it to each other, to the point where it seems like she’s just happy to finally get him in bed and he doesn’t want to lose her as an employee. Not as romantic as I’d hoped.

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Welcome to Family Feud

The other primary feature of this novel was the feud between Sam and his father, Donald. In my opinion it went on for way…too…long. Sam has always had a troubled relationship with his father, who he insists is determined to make sure Sam fails in the business world, as well as in his personal life. This animosity is heightened even more when Donald buys the majority shares in Sam’s company just as he plans to take it public. Here’s the problem. It is unbelievably evident that Donald is actually a loving father who just doesn’t always go about communicating this to his son in the best way. Gee, another issue with verbalizing emotions. Sounds familiar, no? While Sam insists that Donald has underhanded intentions throughout the entirety of the novel, I personally thought it was obvious that Donald was just looking out for Sam.

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This made Sam’s resolve to hate his father seem rather immature and close-minded, especially towards the end of the novel when we see he’s willing to set his father up to spend time behind bars to pay for stealing his company out from under him. What bothered me even more though was that they both sort of used April as a pawn in their interactions with each other. Neither man seems capable of stepping up to lay all their cards out on the table. Instead they relay just a bit of information to April to disclose to the other, without ever revealing the whole story. This frustrates April to the ultimate breaking point where she eventually just confronts Donald to speak the truth. Unfortunately we have to wait around until the last couple chapters of the book for that to come about. For the rest of the novel I was tempted to start banging my head against a wall, or maybe force Sam and Donald to remain in a locked room with each other until they hug it out in a mess of filial tears.

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Series: Billionaires in the City, book 1. I’m not sure I’ll continue with this one. We are introduced to a rather intriguing character towards the end of the novel who will be the primary focus of our sequel, but it’s nothing I’ll rush out to pick up.

Final Impression: I’ve definitely read better, and I’ve also read worse. It wasn’t a terrible read by any means, but for a rather major part of it I was just kind of thinking to myself, “mkay…boop dee boop”. The story just didn’t grab me. There was one scene towards the end that was the most emotional moment in the entire novel for me, and almost brought me to tears. Funnily enough though it wasn’t because of the words or actions of either of our main characters, but rather a supplemental character. I guess it shows there’s potential for an added depth to the emotional connection of a future story, but it just wasn’t here for me in this one.

Smut Level: While I didn’t get the trapped in an elevator steamy make out scene that would have been fantabulous, we did get a rather delightful romp on Sam’s office desk.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Sprinters Press. 203 Pages.

Trusting Jay by Simone Sowood

I’m not sure what it means when a novel starts off with a woman who is disappointed because she couldn’t get off with her vibrator. Perhaps it is a metaphor that this woman tries her best to take matters into her own hands?

What’s it About? 

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When money can’t buy you love, how far would you go to get what you most desire? Abbie White’s life fell apart when she discovered the truth about her boyfriend Matt. Their entire six year relationship was built on a lie; one that cost her dearly. She can never trust another man. Ever. Now she works to pay the bills that Matt left behind, consoles herself with friends and only opens her heart to old fashioned romance movies.

James McAllister is used to getting what he wants. As the billionaire owner of the company where Abbie works, he uses his striking good looks, uncompromising confidence and, if all else fails, money to secure his success. Now he’s set his sights on Abbie, and he won’t stop until he gets her. But he can’t let her know who he really is. Because if she knew, she’d run fast and far in the other direction. First he needs to win her over, then he’ll tell her. Somehow.

First Impressions

This is one of those books where I feel like the synopsis was a detriment to the overall story by giving too much away. It clearly states that Jay is the billionaire owner of Abbie’s place of employment, yet in the novel itself this fact is never revealed to Abbie or the audience until the very end. Let’s take a closer look at why this can be such an issue.

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The Truth of the Matter

Jay’s true wealth is sort of intended to be the big climactic reveal at the end of the novel. Throughout the book, Abbie senses that Jay is hiding something about his true character, but she doesn’t know what it is. Because it was spelled out for us so clearly in the synopsis, it’s kind of easy to judge Abbie for not noticing the seemingly numerous and obvious signs of Jay’s wealth.

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In addition, it was difficult to understand why Abbie continued to put up with Jay’s rather deceptive behavior, as he always refused to share details about his life. She initially just wanted a one night stand with him, but he kept putting off meeting up with her, and dragging things on longer than she wanted. Honestly, I was surprised she put up with his antics for as long as she did!

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

Series: Loving Jay, book one. Technically this book does have a HEA ending, but there were some plot points that went unresolved.

Should you read it? The fact that we already know the big reveal meant that it was almost a frustrating read as Abbie continually ignored what appeared to be some blatant signs of the mystery surrounding Jay. He even stumbles over making up a fake name, yet she just sort of brushes it off. Come on girl!

Smut Level: Humina Humina. When you have a giant-ass mirror above the bathroom sink, you just know there’s gonna be some lovin’ in front of it.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 204 Pages.