Dangerous Secrets by Allie Zanders

Does anyone else out there find it kind of weird when a romance novel either features or mentions a threesome scenario involving a female lead and two male siblings? I can’t help but go noooooooooo thank you. This wasn’t the first time I’ve encountered it, and I have a feeling it won’t be the last.

What’s it About?

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Two secret pasts… one passionate love story. Taryn Malone is stranded, broke, and desperate for help. But even if the sexy bartender she’s been eyeing offers her a job for the evening… even if he seduces her with his impossibly intense blue eyes… even if every fiber of her heart tells her to stay with him… she can’t. Because Taryn Malone doesn’t exist.

Jake Callaghan has been running the family’s Irish pub for years now. When he sees Taryn standing out alone in the rain, he does what he’s been trained to do as a SEAL – he rescues her. It has nothing to do with her full, firm curves, or her loose, golden-blonde hair, or the way she brushes against him that sends lightning bolts through his body. It’s just the right thing to do. Really. But both Taryn and Jake are hiding secrets from each other. Dangerous secrets. And neither one of them knows just how dangerous it can be to fall in love…

First Impressions

During the opening scene of this novel, my first gut impression was, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?!” Definitely an interesting and action packed start. We have a young woman chained to a bed, and a creepy man watching her sleep who has obviously abused her physically, mentally, and sexually. Unfortunately, I chose to start listening to this as I got ready for bed one night. So much for a good night’s sleep!! Eventually the story evolves into this young woman being on the continual run from her captor, and finding solace in the arms of a rugged stranger. There’s also a smidge of political espionage thrown in there as well.

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Sexual Chemistry in the Family

While a threesome with Taryn, Jake and one of his siblings doesn’t actually occur, it seems to be considered at some point by multiple parties. Taryn thinks about, as does Jake before he is quickly overcome with an alpha protective sense of “mine and no one else’s”. In addition to the obvious sexual tension between Taryn and Jake, it seems as though there are some sparks flying between her and almost every single one of Jake’s brothers. And there’s a decent handful of them!

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Jake is clearly supposed to be Taryn’s main love interest. However, strange as it may seem, every time another brother arrives on the scene you kind of question if a love triangle is about to happen. Or perhaps an awkward familial threesome. A foursome perhaps? With this many single, muscled and burly brothers on the premises, the possibilities are seemingly endless.

Some Time Apart

This novel follows a different arch than what you’d expect. It begins with a crazy intense intro, then a time jump to years later with Taryn on the run. She meets the devilishly handsome and flirtatious Jake, and it’s not too long before they’re rolling around in the sheets. That being said, about half-way through the book Taryn runs away from Jake over fear of discovery from her former captor, and ultimately spends the majority of the second half of the book with one of Jake’s brothers in a secluded mountain cabin. She has no idea he’s related to Jake though. I just found it interesting that such a large portion of the novel was spent apart from the male lead and love interest.

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Who Do You Root For?

When all was said and done, I can’t say I was 100% convinced that Taryn was actually in love with Jake as a person. I think she idolized his lifestyle more than anything else. A strong, independent figure who had a loving relationship with his large and supportive family. I don’t think she and Jake really got to know each other well enough to call it love, especially considering they both kept pretty massive secrets form each other for the limited time they did spend together. She was hiding her true identity and history of being on the run, whereas he was hiding the fact he was onto her secret past.

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While the two had chemistry, I was actually a bit shocked to find that I almost preferred Taryn with Jake’s brother, Kane. They are both two troubled souls who are able to find comfort in each other. There is one moment in particular where they are able to take a moment in the midst of all the hiding and drama to let loose and be silly. It was just so freakin’ adorable, especially considering Kane is supposed to be the ultimate hard-ass. Maybe I just want to see him have a happy ever after, no matter who it’s with!

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Series: Callaghan Brothers, book 1. With every entrance of another Callaghan brother you can easily envision another additional book in the series. I’d be very interested to read Kane’s tale of romance.

Should you read it? Things all come together in the end, but it almost felt too quick and convenient. I guess when you have a family of private operatives on your side though, things will probably end in your favor. The political side of the story never felt fully explained to me, but it’s definitely an intense and suspenseful read.

Smut Level: If I remember correctly, we are really only privy to one full sex scene. Definitely hot, but not my favorite, as they aren’t…facing each other. They also have a pretty big argument about 5.7 seconds after finishing.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 356 Pages.

Haunted Souls by Kathryn Knight

What do a single mother, a soldier with PTSD, an adorably precocious toddler and an 18th century ghost have in common? They are all amazing characters featured in this sexy, yet suspenseful romance.

What’s it About? 

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Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.

Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend. Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.

First Impressions

Honestly, I was a bit hesitant to read this book at first. I don’t do ghosts! Horror ain’t my thing ladies and gentleman. However, I am happy to report that this novel is in no way classified as horror. Our ghost is actually rather friendly! Not exactly Casper friendly, but he gets on really well with Brett and Emily’s son, Tyler.

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A Little Bit of Romance

Let’s start our discussion with less ghostly endeavors, and focus instead on the romance side of things. Brett has returned home to the States after an incredibly difficult tour in-country to suddenly discover he is the father of a young boy. He initially seems intent to regard Emily with hatred and disdain for keeping the existence of his son a secret for so long. The closer he gets to his son though, the more he realizes that there’s an undeniable attraction between him and Emily that can’t be ignored anymore.

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Hot damn these two are smokin’ hot! They only had a two week affair years before, and are hesitant to start anything up again with the added complication of their son in the picture. Not to mention Brett’s PTSD, which was handled with absolute perfection by the author. But good God they can’t keep their hands off each other! Their love scenes are filled to the brim with heat, passion, tenderness, and a bit of neck nibbling. My favorite!

A Little Bit of Haunting

Now for the ghostly factor. I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this feature of the novel! Our 12 year old ghost, Josiah, died all alone in a jail cell in 1757, and throughout the book we slowly uncover his sad and tragic story. It actually ties in rather well with the rest of the story to show how strong family connection can be. At first, Brett doesn’t believe there’s a ghost who seems linked to his son, but as the novel progresses we see how the family bonds and becomes closer because of this ghostly apparition.

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That being said, I think the fact that Josiah was so friendly and non-threatening meant that at times he was almost pushed to the side in order to focus on another story line. For example, Emily is also trying to help her friend escape an abusive marriage, and although Josiah plays an important role at one point during this story, it was kind of hard to see how all the stories blended together evenly. Overall though, I really enjoyed the ghostly aspect of this novel, and wouldn’t give it up! I would have liked to hear some kind of speech from Josiah at some point in the novel, as we don’t hear the majority of the conversations he has with Tyler. I guess I just wanted more from him!

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

Series: Beautiful stand-alone

Should you read it? Absolutely give this one a read. I found it hard to put down a lot of the time! It has everything you could want, from romance to suspense, the importance of family to moving on from the past. A great read!

Smut Level: These two are undoubtedly creative. Basically, whenever Tyler goes down for a nap, or it’s bedtime, they go at it like rabbits wherever and however they can!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 365 Pages.

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Thankful Hearts by Evelyn Aster

I seriously need to find the Holiday Cafe featured in this series. They have a latte that tastes like apple pie! I want! I need!!

What’s it About? 

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All Stacy wants is the perfect Thanksgiving at her new house. And after a year without sex, a boyfriend would be the whipped cream on the apple pie.

All Hudson wants is the perfect Thanksgiving after his third Army tour in Afghanistan. But he arrives home to find his brother engaged to his girlfriend. He takes off on his Triumph motorcycle to drive 700 miles to the only place he can think of: the Holiday Cafe.

Stacy and Hudson knew each other on Words with Friends, but when he arrives to meet Stacy and share an Apple Pie Latte with a shot of toffee their relationship goes from platonic to romantic faster than his Triumph accelerator.

First Impressions

Stacy is more than happy to provide Hudson with a proper homecoming when he seeks her out after returning from Afghanistan. They’re quick to have some hot and passionate sex (on a motorcycle no less), and I’ll admit I was kind of wondering where the story could go from there. Turns out, everywhere! There are so many emotions and plot lines that connect so unbelievably well.

One thing’s for sure with this book, you can’t possibly get bored with it. There’s always something happening, from Hudson acclimatizing to civilian life, Stacy preparing her house for Thanksgiving, a gang member harassing her employees, and even discovering a long-lost grandfather. On top of all that, we also have some hotter than hot and descriptive sex scenes between Stacy and Hudson. Now that’s what I like to think of as the whipped cream on my apple pie!

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A Difficult Subject

The romance between Stacy and Hudson is so sweet, yet also surrounded by drama as they both try to cope with Hudson’s PTSD. It’s a difficult, not to mention sensitive, subject matter to deal with, but it was obviously handled with the utmost care and expertise by the author. Aster has the ability to transport you into the novel, and make you feel like you are also sitting at the dinner table with the rest of her characters as Hudson’s PTSD comes to the forefront.

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Aster can definitely describe a sex scene in amazing detail, but when it comes to those scenes where Hudson is transported back to the battle field in his mind, shaking and sweating with anxiety? They are so gripping that I found myself holding my breath, and even bouncing my leg in anticipation.

Family

This book has its moments of tension, but it also manages to have some comedy thrown in there as well. Thanksgiving is both Hudson and Stacy’s favorite holiday, as it provides you with the important sense of family minus all of the craziness around presents that goes with Christmas. The irony of it all is that Stacy is working so hard to fix her new house up for her family, yet they kind of frustrate the crap out of her throughout the book. It’s so true to life I love it!

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Something else I loved about this book was how Stacy comes to be Hudson’s family. He is a war hero who realizes that he has signs of PTSD, and tries to draw from his inner strength to control it. Stacy is also a strong character in her own right, as she stands by Hudson in his darkest of moments. She refuses to give up on him, like the rest of his family has sort of already done, and does her best to get him the help he needs. Both are strong and loving characters to be admired.

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

Series: The Holiday Cafe, book 2. The first book was awesome; the second book is awesome; I want the next book to focus on the quirky owner of the Holiday Cafe, Chloe. But I’ll take anything I can get! If you haven’t read book 1, no worries! This one is a stand-alone, but I’d still recommend book 1 because, again, it’s awesome.

Should you read it? I can think of no better book for you to read in the month of November, what with both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving taking place. It’s sweet, sexy, intense, and focuses on the difficult yet ever important subject of PTSD.

Smut Level: We’ve got motorcycle sex, elevator sex, up against the refrigerator sex. What more could you want?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Hot Java, Amazon Digital Services. 253 Pages.

Nowhere to Hide by Lindsay McKenna

The two lead characters in this novel share a love of spelunking, also known as cave diving. Deep darkness. Tight spaces. Limited flashlight use. God, it’s like a horror movie waiting to happen.

What’s it About? 

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Lia Cassidy left the Army scarred physically and emotionally after a vicious attack by two fellow soldiers. She turns to helping others, working at a Delos Home School Charity in Costa Rica that aids abused women and children. But when the deadly drug lord, La Arana, attacks the school, Lia finds herself on the run for her life. The only person she can trust is the ex-SEAL sent to protect her. Cav Jordan is strong, honorable and gorgeous…and intrigued by Lia. He knows she has suffered pain in her past, and he is determined to break through her barriers and earn her trust. But as Cav slowly chips away at the walls Lia has built, ghosts from her past threaten to destroy their fragile relationship.

First Impressions

The first half of this book was really interesting and suspenseful. A local drug lord has attacked the school where Lia works, killing two of her friends in the process. Cav has been hired as a bodyguard to protect her at all times, which means the sexual tension builds between them pretty quickly. The sad thing is I’m sure this crime threat happens all the time to real charities all over the world, but they don’t have billion dollar owners who can hire private security for all their employees. So for the entire first half of the book we are watching the blossoming attraction between Lia and Cav, while also waiting for shit to hit the fan with the drug lord. Very exciting. Unfortunately, the 2nd half is a bit dull.

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Isn’t it Over Yet?

Surprisingly enough, all of the drama with the drug lord ends about half-way through the book. You’d think that would mark the end of the novel seeing as the plot line has officially ended. But alas, the story sort of drags on to show Lia and Cav dating in the United States, and making their relationship work. We went from the jungles of Costa Rista with a vengeful drug lord to basically a dating show in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Talk about whiplash!

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I think the most disappointing aspect of this switch from suspense to a complete lack thereof was the fact that we never got to see the final showdown with the actual drug lord! The entire book switches back and forth between Lia and Cav’s points of view, and yet when Cav goes to take out the drug lord we don’t get to follow his side of the story where the action takes place. Instead we follow Lia back in the States, and just hear that everything was taken care of with the drug lord. Such an anti-climactic climax.

Let’s Tone it Down a Bit

At times, the writing kind of got on my nerves for being overly dramatic. For example, Lia describes the experience of cave diving as being a child carried within Mother Earth’s womb. Uhhhh…I don’t really have a response to that. There was also an excessive use of exclamation points, so that every little suggestion seemed like the best idea EVER! Another confusing aspect of the writing was that information would be repeated quite often, but as though the characters were hearing it for the first time rather than the 3rd or 4th. Sort of made it seem like it was an attempt to make the book longer.

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A major aspect of this story is Lia learning to get used to her many scars, which she got after being attacked and almost raped while in the military. Cav is instrumental in helping her with this, and says how he noticed her beauty, not her scars, when he first saw a picture of her. In my opinion, this was ridiculously misleading, as the photo to which he is referring had her angled in such a way where the main scar covering half her face wasn’t visible. Listen up buddy, you can help the chica move on, but don’t down and out lie about never noticing her scars.

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

Series: Delos series, book 1. The prequel to this novel, Last Chance, was awesome! Action-packed and suspenseful from start to finish.

Should you read it? There were some grammar issues throughout the book that you have to look over. I mean, at one point Cav was referred to as Cal. Personally, I thought it was pretty disappointing that the suspense ended at the half-way point, and we never even got to see how it ended.

Smut Level: There is only one sex scene at the very end, but the tension builds throughout.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here– This book comes out tomorrow! $4.99 Kindle Price. Blue Turtle Publishing. 278 Pages.

Rafflecopter Giveaway: Click Here for $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!

Her Soldier’s Touch by J.M. Stewart

I always giggle to myself whenever there are 2 adults with this much sexual tension, and they think they can just kiss without anything else happening. Silly rabbits, Trix are for kids! Side note: is anybody else as pissed as me that Trix no longer come in the shapes of fruit? They’re just round puff balls now. Are they deliberately trying to destroy my childhood memories of happiness?

What’s it About? 

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Experience has taught single mother Rachel Madison that the only person she can truly rely on is herself. But what she wants most in the world—to give her son the life she never had growing up—means she must put her faith in a man who once walked out on her. Retired from the service, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Colten Taylor makes a detour to Phoenix to bury his brother. Nobody is more surprised than he to see Rachel waiting for him at the airport. He regrets the morning he walked away from her, but coming from an abusive home taught Colt to put limits on all his relationships—especially this one. So when he discovers he has a son, Colt knows this is a chance to prove to himself he’s not a chip off the old block. Turning his life around doesn’t come naturally, though. Then a drug dealer crops up from his brother’s dark past, threatening their son and forcing Colt and Rachel to face their demons … and each other.

First Impressions

Honestly, the cover photo is a little frightening. I mean, I’m all for bulging muscles, but it looks like food particles could actually get stuck in this guy’s abs. Maybe he should go a little easy on the sit-ups. Cover model possible steroid use aside, this novel combines a myriad of different elements to tell a heartfelt yet suspenseful story. You can’t help but feel sorry for Colt, who came back home to bury his brother Paul who died of a drug overdose. On top of that, he discovers a one night stand with the love of his life years beforehand resulted in the birth of his son. Talk about drama. Then we’ve got some romance with Colt and Rachel trying to make things work, and a bit of suspense with a greedy drug dealer. See what I mean? Myriad of elements.

Familial Issues Abound

Colt and Rachel both bring a dark family past to their relationship. Her mother died, and her father left, so she’s hesitant to allow Colt to get too close to her and her son for fear that he’ll run as well. Especially considering that’s exactly what he did 6 years ago. Then we have Colt, whose father was an abusive alcoholic, and his mother killed herself. There is a LOT of discussion throughout the book about how Colt is afraid that he’ll be just like his dad, and how he might run again. It sort of got repetitive after a while. Towards the end you almost welcome the presence of the creepy drug dealer so that they’ll change their focus of conversation.

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A Glimpse Into the Past

I’m not usually a huge fan of flashbacks in novels, as authors have the tendency to go overboard with them, but I think we could have used one in this book. I wish there would have been more explanation behind the dynamic of Rachel, Colt and his brother Paul. Apparently they were all childhood friends, but Rachel and Paul dated for a few years in high school. We know that Colt always liked her, but we don’t really know how she felt.

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Did she always crave something more with him, or was their coupling 6 years beforehand simply the result of too much alcohol? I definitely would have welcomed a flashback to their childhood years, as well as the moment when Rachel and Paul decided to end their romantic relationship. One thing that needs no explanation though is Colt’s infatuation with Rachel. He is so delightfully alpha, and encompasses all of the jealous and protective traits necessary to be categorized as such.

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

Series: Nope. Although, I’m secretly hoping that Paul isn’t really dead because I think a sequel with him would be fascinating.

Should you read it? We have an alpha Army man who wants to prove that he can be a good father to his son, and a reliable lover to his woman. Throw in some intensity and kidnapping with a drug dealer and I’m hooked.

Smut Level: Colt is so versatile. He can either take her quick up against a wall, or slow and steady in bed. Come to think of it, the one actually led to the other.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.80 Kindle Price. Crimson Romance. 214 Pages.

Running Fire by Lindsay McKenna

Love can find you in the unlikeliest of places. Case in point, on a cold and rocky cave floor whilst you and your lover are running for your lives from the Taliban. Although, I feel like when a SEAL is involved, aka the ultimate alpha male, you don’t really have much room to complain. You pretty much just gotta whip off your shirt and say, “Mkay, where would you like to ravish me?”

What’s it About? 

running fireTemporarily assigned to the Shadow Squadron in a troubled region of Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer and pilot Leah Mackenzie is no stranger to conflict—even if most of her physical and emotional scars are courtesy of her vicious ex. Still, she’s got a bad feeling about picking up a team of stranded SEALs. A feeling that’s all too justified once enemy fire hits their helicopter and all hell breaks loose. SEAL Kell Ballard’s goal was to get the injured pilot out of harm’s way and find shelter deep in the labyrinth of caves. It’s a place of dark intimacy, where Leah finds unexpected safety in a man’s arms. Where prohibited attraction burns brightly. And where they’ll hide until the time comes to face the enemy outside…and the enemy within their ranks.

First Impressions

I had a tough time putting this book down! It’s suspenseful from start to finish, what with a helicopter crash right at the get-go, followed by constant running and hiding from Taliban forces. On top of all that, the shock of the crash has reawakened Leah’s emotional distress from her abusive ex-husband, and the only place she can find comfort is in the muscle bulging arms of Kell. You can’t help but be drawn in by the intimate relationship these two form in the close confines of their cave hideout. I’m not gonna lie though, at times I was worried if this book was actually going to have a happy ending. Every time Kell started planning a future together with Leah I kept thinking, “Oh, you might wanna see if you get out of this alive before you pick out paint colors.”

So Close

I was so excited when the synopsis mentioned that Leah was an Army helicopter pilot. I thought, “Finally! A tough as nails female who can hold her own in the face of adversity!” Yeah, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, she was definitely brave, but dealing with the shock of the helicopter crash, and the possibility of escaping right into the hands of her bastard ex-husband, puts her right into damsel in distress mode. 

dog catEnter Kell, who immediately takes on the role of Leah’s protector. When she has nightmares of the abuse inflicted upon her by her husband, Kell is quick to hold Leah in his arms, and she doesn’t shy away from his comfort. That’s sweet and all, but I almost wish she had been more reserved with him at first. Not necessarily cold and heartless, but more strong-willed, as though she wanted to try to move on without any help from anybody. I guess I was surprised that after putting up with the abuse from her husband for so long she would have been so quick to trust another man. A bit more effort getting through her walls would have been interesting. 

Let’s Go Over That One More Time 

Overall I absolutely loved the story-line of this novel, but there were a few things that could have used some more explanation. Firstly, our two lead characters spend about 80% of the book in a cave, but apparently they never had to go to the bathroom. I know it’s a silly thing to complain about, but it’s all in the details, and I couldn’t help but wonder where the heck they did their business in that thing. 

game of thronesAnother much more important aspect which confused me was the failed marriage between Leah and her ex-husband. He used her and abused her to further his own career, and yet he was the one to divorce her. When her helicopter is shot down he does everything in his power to get her back to him for further intimidation. Why did he end their marriage in the first place, and if he ended it why is he trying to get her back? I think more explanation as to how exactly their marriage ended would have been beneficial to further understanding their characters.

Male Perfection

Kell is deliciously amazing. He has an innate sense to protect people, yet this is heightened even more when it comes to Leah. His feelings for her are strong, but he must keep his desires in check. Leah’s husband sexually abused her, and Kell takes it upon himself to not only show her what it means to make love, but also to be in love. He also shows her a thing or two about what real pleasure is. Oh sigh, I want a Kell for myself. 

tlc*A copy of this book was provided by TLC Book Tours for an honest review*

Series: Shadow Warrior series, book 8. Each book can be read as a stand-alone. I really wanna go back and read the first seven!

Should you read it? Oh yeah, for sure. You’ll be biting your nails in anticipation through most of it, but the romance between Kell and Leah is to die for. 

Smut Level: Because of her troubled past, Kell is very gentle with Leah when they make love…at first. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $7.99 Kindle Price. HQN Books. 378 Pages.