Close to the Skin by Zara West

A hardened criminal? Or a loving protector? Bella debates whether she should turn to the intimidating Vernon for help considering his past, but she can’t deny how he looks at her with love in his eyes.

What’s it About?

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Never back down, never turn your back, and never fall in love. Head of a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise, Vernon Newell doesn’t let family ties or misplaced sympathy get in his way. But there is one chink in his armor—Sirena Patras, the beautiful young Greek girl he seduced and deserted eight years ago. When Vernon discovers that Bella Bell, a prospering tattoo artist in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is actually Sirena, he sets out to woo and to win her. Despite her attraction to the fabulously sexy man, Bella wants nothing to do with a hard-headed, ruthless criminal. But when threatening messages start arriving, and Vernon disappears, Bella must choose to abandon the man she loves, as he did her, or risk her life to save him.

First Impressions

This novel presents us with a fascinating debate of whether or not to love a “former” hardened criminal. I think a quote from this book which perfectly encapsulates our heroine’s struggle is “Could a man who touched her with such love, kill over and over again in cold blood, and still have a heart left in him?” It’s basically a question of whether a killer can transform into a passionate lover. However, as the novel progresses we also question if the two personas can coexist at the same time. Such an intriguing dichotomy that doesn’t necessarily have a nice answer.

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Falling for the Criminal

First of all, Vernon is charming as hell. He and Bella have a ton of chemistry, not to mention a passionate past, and he draws on it every chance he gets. He’s intent to marry her, constantly trying to convince her of his worth, and how amazing their lives will be together. On the one hand, you really do want them to be together, as they seem like kindred spirits. At the same time though, you completely understand her hesitancy to get involved with him. It almost reminded me of a mob movie, like Goodfellas, where you almost scream to the woman on the screen, “Why are you risking your life to get involved with this man?”

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The last thing Bella wants is to get mixed up in Vernon’s criminal world. You just never know when his former enemies might come looking for him, or possibly torture her to get to him. Vernon insists he’s given up that world. That he’s gone straight. The fact that he constantly has a bodyguard with him reflects that danger still lurks behind every corner. I will say, he’s so charming and convincing that even I believed him. Unfortunately, we quickly find out that he wasn’t necessarily telling the whole truth.

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Stretching the Truth

Sooooo, Vernon basically straight out lies to Bella regarding his criminal activities. While he’s not necessarily his father’s heinous henchman anymore, he still hasn’t removed himself entirely from that world. Definitely an interesting set up for a main character. When Bella initially pushes Vernon away we want her to overcome her hesitations, and realize he’s the only one for her. However, when we see how he lies to her we also question if she deserves someone better. Probably the most intense up and down of an emotional roller-coaster regarding my opinion towards a main character ever! I didn’t really know as the novel progressed what my final opinion of him would be, or if he could redeem himself in Bella’s eyes. Or mine for that matter! Fascinating progression to be sure.

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Burning Fire

Bella has a fiery personality, which also equates into a burning temper. She’s often quick to pounce on Vernon, and jump to conclusions with those closest to her. We also see how this “quick to assume the worst” attitude carries over into her business life. When she has the opportunity to design tattoos for a new TV show, she’s convinced she doesn’t have the time to draw them all and still maintain her tattoo parlor. But, she does. When she loses those designs she laments over the fact she could never possibly recreate all that hard work in such a short amount of time. All is seemingly lost. But, she does.

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It shows that when she sets her mind to something she can accomplish the most seemingly impossible of tasks. At the same time though, when it occurs repeatedly throughout the novel it also makes us wanna tell her to “calm down girl, have some tea and take a deeeeeep breath”. When Bella also insists that she could never possibly love Vernon because of his violent past, and determinedly swears they’re over it’s easy to question how steadfast she’ll really be.

Some Additional Minor Points

Vernon has a pretty strange relationship with his younger brother. He’s tried to keep him out of the criminal world, but to no avail. Their relationship is almost in limbo as Vernon struggles to acknowledge that his little brother isn’t necessarily sweet and innocent. I don’t want to give away too much of this story line, but I will say it didn’t seem 100% resolved to me by the end of the novel. It does however allow for Vernon to make a choice of what is more important to him: Bella, or his family and extravagant lifestyle.

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Lastly, I’m sorry to admit that I did have some trouble remembering all of the details surrounding Bella and Vernon’s relationship from the previous novel. I read a lot of books, okay?! 87 books to be precise since I read the first one. I think a brief summary at the start of the novel would have been extremely beneficial, especially concerning the dynamic with Vernon’s deceased brother who kidnapped Bella. While the story does eventually come full circle, answering a lot of the question marks from book one, it came together a bit too piece meal for my liking. At one point I even found myself rereading some of the end of the last book to try and remember some of the details.

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

Series: The Skin Quartet, book 2. I am absolutely in love with the supporting characters in this series, specifically our band of graffiti artists. If a future novel features one of them as the lead character I am sooooo reading it.

Should you read it? I did prefer this over book one, even though we do see some of the same themes carry over into this novel as well. Most significantly, our main characters aren’t always 100% likable. They have flaws, just like we all do. However, whereas this feature in book 1 made it difficult for me to relate to said characters, I felt it was developed so much more prominently in book 2. It demonstrates our feelings towards the characters are fluid. One minute you want Bella and Vernon to have a happily ever after. The next you wonder if Bella is right to keep her distance. So interesting that as Bella contemplates her feelings for Vernon, we too can sympathize with her debate.

Smut Level: Nothing like a little hanky panky on the kitchen floor!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 264 Pages.

Don’t Toy with Me by Barbara Barrett

Am I the only one who wishes it was socially acceptable to still be able to play with your childhood toys as an adult? Seriously, give me a few Barbies and a Polly Pocket or two and I’ll entertain myself for hours. Actually…probably more like days.

What’s it About?

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Repossession of your car in Los Angeles is like breathing without lungs. It can make an unemployed management consultant like Jordan Wright do crazy things, such as accept a job beneath her skills on a reality competition show and pretend to be a spy for a competing outfit.

Even though he sees through the undercover story, the show’s executive producer, Bart Underwood, is intrigued by it as well as the woman spinning her tale. Creativity is not one of his strong suits, and he has found himself in over his head with this new production. Unable to ask directly for Jordan’s help, he takes advantage of her need to prove herself in hopes she’ll rescue his baby. But despite their growing attraction to each other, even she can’t save a reverse beauty pageant titled Ugly as Sin.

When several stunts go awry, she suggests a new approach, challenges based on toys designed by Bart’s toymaker uncle. Though interested, Bart must first deal with his useless partner, who has been blackmailing him to stick around. The man’s resentment of Jordan threatens to not only disrupt her growing involvement with Bart but also risk the viability of the new show, Don’t Toy with Me.

First Impressions

When it came to this book my first impression surrounded the synopsis. Goodness gracious there’s a lot going on here! The novel has a rather complicated start, which I think is perfectly reflected in the synopsis. In my opinion, it did seem a bit overly elaborate at times. For example, we have a rather complicated meet cute of Jordan trying out for a show which she thinks is a beauty pageant, and instead of admitting outright that she didn’t know what the show was about she creates an elaborate scheme about spying for a competing production company. Bart knows she’s lying, yet decides to play along even after she admits the truth. Phew, I’m exhausted already! It felt like maybe it could have been that Jordan was in need of a job to pay for her car, so she takes a job she wouldn’t normally take as an assistant on a reality show. Bing, bang, boom, still fun and interesting, yet not as many moving pieces.

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We All Know!

The feature of this novel which confused me the most was Jordan’s creation of this rival production company. It seemed like such an unnecessary story when she could have admitted, “sorry, didn’t know what this show was about, my bad.” Sure, not as interesting, but perhaps a tad more realistic? What I had more trouble understanding though was why Bart would choose to continue playing along with this story even after she admits she lied. Then, as the story progresses, Jordan starts to assume that Bart knows she was lying, yet she also doesn’t confront him about her assumptions. I couldn’t help but compare it to a Friends episode where they don’t know we know they know we know, sooooo….

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Big Reveals and Motivations

Another unfortunate aspect of the synopsis was that it sort of revealed too much of the plot. We know from the outset that the premise behind this reality show is crazy. The concept of demonstrating how terrible society can be to ugly people, and that the ugliest contestant on this show wins is troubling to wrap your head around. Throughout the whole novel we wonder how Jordan or Bart could possibly turn this around into a winning idea. Problem is, we already know how. The synopsis demonstrates it’s just a matter of time before the show transitions into a reality contest centered around Bart’s uncle’s toy creations. If this little tidbit hadn’t been revealed in the synopsis I think we as the audience would have really been stumped on how this show could possibly make a turn for the better.

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Another reveal in the synopsis which confused me a bit was the reference to Bart being blackmailed to continue on with the show. This really doesn’t become a feature until the very end of the novel. Kind of a spoiler for me! The fact that his partner doesn’t try to blackmail him until pretty late in the game makes you question for the majority of the novel why Bart would bother putting up with such a terrible show, and terrible person, for so long. He knows the show is crap, yet he sticks with it, and has a seemingly strange sense of devotion to his partner. If this blackmail feature had been introduced earlier on, I think it would have helped us understand Bart’s motivation as to why he was refusing to throw in the towel with this crazy show.

The Puppet Master

Unfortunately, although I tried my best I ultimately found it rather hard to like Bart as a character. We all know that he’s testing Jordan. He recognizes her creativity almost immediately, and believes she could be the answer to making this terrible reality show a success. However, rather than admit, “we could really use your help in making this show better”, or “let’s collaborate to improve the premise” he instead kind of treats her bad. Bart sends her on a multitude of crazy errands as a way of testing her resolve, and basically berates her any time she has a suggestion which strays from the ugly beauty pageant concept. Talk about frustrating! Especially because he secretly agrees with all her suggestions. While this strategy definitely allowed Jordan to shine and prove her worth, it sort of made me see him as, well, a coward for not vocalizing his concerns to her or his partner. In a sneaky way, it makes his partner look on Jordan as the intruding villain, when in reality Bart is the puppet master orchestrating the downfall of his “friend’s” concept. Again, such an elaborate scheme.

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A Love Blooms

Bart and Jordan have a growing attraction to each other as they invest more of their time in this show. I think some more development in their chemistry would have been beneficial. As it stands it seemed like one minute they were kind of flirting with each other, a few longing looks, a brush of the hand, and the next they were going at it on his office couch. While I’m all for office loving (assuming the door is locked!), it seemed kind of rushed to me. I guess I just had a hard time believing their connection.

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That being said, there was another relationship blooming in this novel that I found to be particularly compelling, and that was between Jordan’s aunt Sheila, and Bart’s uncle Andrew. I’ll tell ya, I’d definitely read a book where their love was the main focus! They were so freakin’ adorable I immediately perked up any time they entered a scene. Both lost their significant others years before, and for Andrew the circumstances were extremely tragic. They’ve been hesitant to interact too much with others for years, yet when Sheila and Andrew meet they are able to come out of the shells they’ve trapped themselves in. They learn to live and love again with each other. Ahhhh, sigh.

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

Series: I could see the potential for a series. A brief novella for Sheila and Andrew would be my everything!!

Should you read it? I wish we could have had more scenes involving stunts with the toys. It was such a unique concept, yet we really only got one up-close toy scene in the competition. As for our lead characters I truly admired Jordan’s ability to stand up for her opinions in front of Bart. Not my favorite male lead when all was said and done though. I think if we had been privy earlier on to his motivations behind this show, specifically in relation to his feelings of guilt surrounding his mother, I probably would have liked him more as a character. Sheila and Andrew definitely stole the show for me, and I just wanted more of their adorableness!

Smut Level: Some office couch time, but nothing too over the top.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 244 Pages.

Fractured by Sydney Landon

After the dramatic end of book one, you can’t help but be drawn into this next novel in the Lucian and Lia series.

What’s it About?

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Desire brought them together; tragedy may tear them apart…Lucian and Lia attempt to deal with the aftermath of the violent attack on her by her stepfather. As events unfold in their lives, Lia finds that she can no longer be patient with the man that she loves, because his secrets are tearing them apart. Lucian cannot deny the fact that he’s fallen in love with the brave and beautiful woman who has lived a life of horror. He wants nothing more than to protect her, but soon realizes that he may be the person who will hurt her the most. To be together, they’ll have to fight demons from their pasts that threaten to tear them apart.

First Impressions

This was a rather depressing read, but considering the subject matter you can’t be too surprised. This book opens with the immediate aftermath of Lia’s attack by her step-father. It was brutal, and although we never really witnessed anything during the attack itself, we are subject to the gruesome details as told by Lia after the fact in the hospital. It’s a heartbreaking retelling and quite difficult to stomach. What we see in the following days are Lucian’s attempts to cope with almost losing the love of his life, even if he can’t admit it out loud, all while going cold turkey on his cocaine addiction. We also see Lia’s attempts to cope with life as a survivor, and the difficulty of feeling “lucky” to just be alive.

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Surviving

This was an emotional read to be sure, as we experience how helpless Lucian feels as he just has to stand by and watch as Lia struggles to survive in her hospital bed. When Lia finally awakens we also see how her life will never be the same again. They find strength in each other, but Lucian’s continual secrets about his own past threatens to break the connection the two have.

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Setting Up

It did seem as though a large portion of this novel is setting up for some ultimate climactic reveal about everything that happened in Lucian’s past. Seeing as this was also a rather prominent feature in book one, I couldn’t help but feel that this second novel was rather repetitive and slightly boring.

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There are some interesting developments going on between other characters in the novel, which is obviously a set up for some future books. After a while it’s kind of like, quit with the build-up and just get there already! I will say though, the ending of this book was fantabulous, as Lucian’s secrets finally push Lia over the edge. Can’t wait to see how it’ll all come together in the next book!

Series: Lucian and Lia, book 2.

Should you read it? I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as book one, but I’m hoping that everything will come together in the next book for an exciting finish.

Smut Level: Lia might have a broken nose and a cast on her arm, but that just means she and Lucian have to get a tad more creative when doing the nasty.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price, or whole series for $4.99. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 358 Pages.

Slider by Stacy Borel

A fun continuation of the Core Four romance series which highlights the importance of family.

What’s it About? 

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Dr. Turner Brooks may be the professional brother, but he’s also the adrenaline junkie. When he meets Annabelle, a girl scared to death of veering from the path she’s paved for herself, all he wants to do is push her out of that comfort zone. Annabelle has already lost too much. She wants to stay focused on her new nursing job and away from unnecessary risks. Turner Brooks is exactly that – an unnecessary risk. She’s heard the rumors about him flying around the hospital, describing him as a “womanizer” or “sex god.” Yeah, she doesn’t need that. Still, Turner tries to teach her that life is full of risks worth taking. As they grow closer and she begins to let go, the unexpected happens. Will they be able to recover from that surprising fastball or could this be the final strike out?

First Impressions

I felt the first book in this series was just ok, so I didn’t really go into this second one with a whole bunch of expectations. Although there might not have been as much hanky panky as I would’ve liked, I must say the story line in this one was much more compelling. Not only was there more depth to the story than book one, but the characters also seemed to connect on a more emotional level rather than everything being about the physical aspect of their relationship.

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Adrenaline vs. Sex

Annabelle sees Turner as a risk, so she’s initially hesitant to take things too far with him, or even start a relationship at all. Therefore, they sort of have a slow and subtle flirtation going on rather than all out burning ball of passion. Their dates are more about Turner teaching Annabelle how to let loose and seek that thrill of adrenaline instead of having sex. This does mean it takes a loooong time for them to finally get around to the hot and steamy stuff. 75% of the novel to be exact. However, this also allows them to develop a friendship and cute connection about the importance of living life to the fullest before they pursue anything physical.

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Professional Manwhore

Turner was an interesting anomaly of a character. Professional doctor on the one hand, but infamous manwhore on the other. He seems to have an endless supply of sexy nurses to entertain him, and Annabelle does use his manwhore status as an initial reason to turn down his advances. I was rather surprised though that once they do eventually get together, his many previous romps never come up as a topic of conversation, or something to divert their growing attraction for one another. If anything, Annabelle sees herself as lucky for being able to tame his formerly wandering ways.

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Series: The Core Four, book 2. I’m intrigued for the next book, as another character has an unexpected bun in the oven.

Should you read it? I will say I enjoyed this book more than the first one. The importance of family is really highlighted, and even had me on the brink of tears towards the end. In fact, I’d say that aspect of the story was better written than the tale of romance.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 224 Pages.

Fire & Brimstone by R.L. Mathewson

I have heard many a different insult thrown around in the heat of an argument. And in a variety of languages for that matter. However, I must say this novel may have presented the harshest of insults I’ve ever seen: Bieber lover. Burrrrrrn.

What’s it About? 

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What happens when a Bradford with questionable OCD, a tempter and a reputation for making his employees cry falls for the woman that refuses to accept the fact that he’s fired her and was terrifyingly more of a Bradford than he was? Well, we can’t share that here, because it would be seriously inappropriate, but we’re sure that you can see where this is leading…To the altar or a stint in the slammer, either one is possible when it comes to the Neighbor from Hell Series.

Author’s Note: This book along with the rest of the series is intended to make you smile, let you relax and forget the drama and stress that plagues our lives even if its just for a little while. This is a drama free book. My goal is to put a smile on your face and I hope this book does that.

First Impressions

This is another fun continuation of the Neighbor from Hell series. If you’re looking for a cute read that will put a smile on your face, yet also sexy enough to put a blush on your cheeks, I simply can’t recommend it enough. Each book presents a hilarious love-hate relationship between neighbors, and this book was no exception. Rebecca and Lucifer have been working together at his restaurant for years, but he’s also been trying to fire her for that same amount of time. Rebecca’s response is to usually just grin and go on with her day. It was simply a matter of time before he snapped and…took her in the front seat of his car.

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Gluttony is the Name of the Game

When it comes to this series, you can be guaranteed that the characters will do most everything to excess. I mean, cheese…and…rice! I don’t know if it’s physically possible to ingest as much food as these people do in one sitting, and still look as amazingly hot as they do with six-pack abs, but it seems like something worth looking into. I feel like in most of these novels the dietary excesses are limited to the Bradford clan only, but in this book it appears to be an expanding phenomenon to other characters. From Rebecca’s roommate, Melanie, who can apparently eat Hostess baked goods one after the other, to even Rebecca herself. Let’s just say I never thought I’d come across someone who drinks more Coca-Cola than my sister (that’s saying something). Rebecca also has no problem eating from a 5 lb bag of Hershey’s kisses like it’s popcorn.

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Knee-Slapping Fun

Something else that I sort of felt was done to excess in this novel was the comedy. It seemed a bit too forced and over the top at certain points. This is a sarcastic bunch of characters here. We’ve been introduced to so many different Bradfords over the years through this series, and while it was fun to see them all make an appearance in this book, all their shenanigans and personalities were somewhat over-the-top when all in one novel. Still a delightfully fun and light-hearted read when you’re looking to take a break from all the drama in your life.

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Series: Neighbor From Hell, book 8. You couldn’t keep me away from this series if you tried! And why would you?! I will say, it seems like every synopsis mentions how one character risks jail time because they hate the other so much, and might do something drastic. Not asking for physical harm or anything, but I’d kind of love to see someone actually spend like, a night in jail over their antics.

Should you read it? Fun to see some of the same recognizable themes in this series, from hungry lead characters to the fact that “Bradfords don’t propose”, they kidnap to marry their significant other. We still have unique characters though. In this case an OCD male lead, and a sassy female who finds horror movies relaxing. I do wish they could have connected on a more serious and emotional level rather than constant sarcastic shenanigans. Overall though, a fun read with some great dirty talk!

Smut Level: Probably the only romance I’ve read with a snarky argument and verbal sparring match between a couple as they 69 each other. There’s a first for everything!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Rerum Industries, Inc. 336 Pages.

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Surge by Gina Watson

I was really looking forward to this last installment in the Emergency Responders series, but I must say it was probably my least favorite of the three. Definitely well-written, but kind of depressing 😦

What’s it About?

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He was twenty-eight, she was eighteen. Everyone around them opposed their love. But their love was much greater than the sum of their ages. Clara’s family took Jackson in when, at the age of seventeen, he’d lost his parents. The St. Martins were the only family he had. When his connection with Clara developed into something stronger, he couldn’t feel remorseful. What he did feel was warmth, hope, and love. Ten years later it was time to tell the family—he wouldn’t let their love be a lie any longer.

When he came to live with them, Clara knew one day she’d marry him. She just didn’t know her family wouldn’t be on board with the plans. Sure, Jackson was much older than her and yeah, they’d jumped the gun on intimacy, but she’d needed Jackson’s touch that day and he’d needed hers. They planned to marry once he finished medical school, but when Clara’s brother found out about their two-year relationship he beat the good doctor’s face until he was unrecognizable.

Jackson couldn’t see a way they could be together and she wouldn’t have to make a choice between him and her family. He knew what it was to go through life without the support of family and he wouldn’t let her choose him over the St. Martins. Will Clara and Jackson be able to have a future together, or will her family tear them apart?

First Impressions

Clara and Jackson have been dating for two years. They are madly in love, and even talking future marriage plans. There’s just one slight problem: he’s 10 years older. She’s just eighteen, which means they technically “got together” when she was just sixteen. I must say, this book took an absolutely fascinating look at society’s standards regarding age and relationships. In this instance you see how their love is so pure, and you question why anyone would ever want to prevent two amazing people from coming together. Yet the fact that they first met when she was just 8 years old and he was 18, and they hook up for the first time when she’s 16 and he’s 26, even I found myself thinking it was kind of “icky”. Kind of a mind-blowing read in that sense, as you root for them on the one hand, but also want them to take things slow for a while on the other.

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The Ball Drops

The reasoning behind why this book wasn’t my favorite of the trilogy actually has nothing to do with the age gap between our two lead characters. Instead, it has to do with the fact that it was…well, kind of depressing! Based on the synopsis above, you know going into this book that her brother will eventually find out about their relationship, and that they’ll take a break on seeing each other for a while. However, this discovery doesn’t happen right away, which means for quite some time you are just waiting for the ball to drop, and the fists to fly. Which they definitely do.

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Jackson and Clara really do complete each other, which makes their time apart even more difficult. At the beginning of the novel if the couple spent too much time apart they’d both get incredibly anxious, as though they were addicted to the other. When they’d say goodbye to each other in the morning Clara would leave him with, “If you die I die.” Good…God! I know you two are in love, but maybe take it down a notch? Their declarations and speeches of love were almost too over-the-top flowery that it didn’t seem entirely realistic. Although…maybe this is why I’m single.

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Series: St. Martin Family Saga: Emergency Responders, book 3. I can’t WAIT to read the spinoff series involving one of the characters from this book. GAAAH!

Should you read it? Overall a good read with great writing, but sooooo sad! The time that Jackson and Clara spend apart in this novel is so dark and depressing, it kind of made it hard to willingly read at times. I felt like every other page of my Kindle needed to have a picture of a puppy on it. Definitely an interesting consideration of society standards though.

Smut Level: Some sexy scenes, but the last one was kind of ill-timed in my opinion. Clara is trying to get Jackson to open up about the loss of his parents while giving him a BJ. Ummm…sure.

Book Details: Whiskey Cove Publishing. 197 Pages.

Calmly, Carefully, Completely by Tammy Falkner

Wow! I’ll admit, I had just a lukewarm reaction to books 1 and 2 in this series, but this 3rd book was just outstanding!

What’s it About?

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She’s been locked up even longer than he has. Peter Reed is fresh out of jail, fresh out of excuses, and ready for a brand new start. Reagan Caster needs to thank Pete for an act of kindness, but he wants more than just her thanks. Reagan knows how to protect her body, but not her heart. And her traitorous body responds to Pete in a way it hasn’t with anyone else.When Pete’s innocent flirtation becomes more, Reagan’s ready to accept what he has to offer. Pete assumes Reagan needs to be loved carefully and calmly. But Reagan knows she needs to be loved completely. Can he give her what she needs?

First Impressions

This is one of those books where our couple falls in love after spending just a week together in each other’s company. Now, normally I roll my eyes heavily at the unrealistic nature of such a thing, to the point where I even start to get a headache. However, when it comes to this novel I was shocked to find that it really didn’t bother me all that much. The reason for this is because their connection goes back two years, and has been building throughout that entire time, even if they weren’t physically together.

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Pete first came across Reagan when she was at her most vulnerable, in the immediate aftermath of her rape. Whether or not either was truly aware of it, this moment influenced their entire relationship, as it tested Pete’s true character in a way. He could have left her to fend for herself, or just handed her off to her friend and gotten the hell out of there. But he stayed. He comforted her. Protected her. In that moment an intense amount of trust was established. When they reconnect years later, they get to know each other beyond what happened that night, and it’s oh so wonderful.

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Heavy subject matter to be sure, yet I was surprised to find myself laughing and smiling my way through most of this read. Pete and Reagan have had a rough two years. He’s been in jail for having made a stupid mistake in an attempt to help his family, and Reagan has been trying to live her life again in spite of her fear of being touched by others. In each other they find they can just be themselves. They can be carefree. Reagan’s father, who carries a hatchet to cuff off the balls of any guy who gets close to his daughter, also means you can’t help but chuckle when he finds Reagan and Pete alone together so many times.

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Personally, I couldn’t help but completely fall in love with Pete myself. It’s not hard to understand how Reagan fell for him so quickly. From his interactions with Reagan, as well as his caring nature with the other boys at the camp who need his help, he constantly exhibits patience, kindness and warmth.

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Through his point of view we discover his utter fascination and attraction to Reagan, but he knows what she’s been through. He never tries to rush her in taking their physical relationship to the next level, and even takes a step back when Reagan voices that she wants more. He wants to ensure she truly knows what she wants, and isn’t just taking things further because she feels comfortable with him. I will say though I do wish the book took place over a longer period of time than just one week, so that it really would have felt like they were taking their time, rather than just saying they were.

Communication is Key

Some of the interactions between Reagan and Pete almost felt like they were engaged in a high school romance, even though both are in their early 20s. This was especially true when it came to their physical relationship, as Pete introduced her to things she had never experienced before. However, I will say they do have open communication, which I absolutely love about this author! Her characters actually talk to each other! I know, seems like such a novel idea. Both Reagan and Pete share their frustrations and concerns when they happen in real time rather than letting them ruminate over long periods to eventually explode in a giant argument of misunderstanding.

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I will say it can remove any sense of struggle or any problems in the plot, but I do appreciate it. For example, in this book we see that because Pete knows about Reagan’s past, he can sometimes treat her with too much fragility, as though she’s going to break. This especially comes out when they’re being intimate. So, Reagan opens up and tells him that she’s not made of glass, and he can be a bit more handsy in bed. And this leads to yet another aspect of Pete that I absolutely love: the man listens!

How Can I Have S’more If I Haven’t Had Any?

Now for my one complaint about Pete. It might seem small, but it just goes to show that nobody’s perfect. The man doesn’t know what a s’more is. What…the…fudge and marshmallow?! Ok, I know the guy grew up in the city, so I totally understand if he’s never eaten one, but how could he have no inkling of how they’re made, or what they contain? We’re only talking three ingredients here!! Has he missed every pop culture reference to their structure/design, or just ignored every s’more flavored candy or pop-tart?! How is this remotely possible?! You’re killing me Pete! (PS: if you understand The Sandlot reference here we can officially be best friends).

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Series: The Reed Brothers, book 3. Hands down my favorite book in the series so far. Can’t wait to continue on!

Should you read it? Fantastic read. These two have a connection that is so pure and deep. The novel is really an exploration of their developing relationship, so it doesn’t have the most dramatic plot, but you can’t help but fall in love with these characters. You’ll laugh, and by God if I didn’t get tears in my eyes one day listening to this on my walk to work. Also, my main complaint about the male lead is he doesn’t know what a s’more is. Not too shabby.

Smut Level: Actual sex doesn’t come  until the very end. He introduces her to other delights slowly throughout the entirety of the novel.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Night Shift Publishing. 264 Pages.