Her Patriotic Prince by Ayla Asher

I can’t remember the last time I was so sad to see the conclusion of a series!

What’s it About? 

It was only supposed to be one night…

Laura Cunningham is gorgeous, witty and tough as nails…and still single in her late thirties. After dating every man in Manhattan, she’s resigned herself to the fact that true love just might not exist for her. Certainly a bummer for the woman who observed her two best friends fall in love with sexy, strong men who are their soulmates. Adam Gardner is a soldier who’s been committed to the cause his entire life. Nearing forty, he realizes that once his next mission is complete, he wants to settle down and build a home and family.

Laura and Adam meet on a romantic summer evening, knowing their time is limited due to Adam’s impending deployment. Taken by their instant chemistry, they commit to spending one passionate and intimate night together.

Years later, Adam returns to find Laura with a daughter who shares his sky-blue eyes. Determined to be a father to the little girl, and still enamored by the woman he could never forget, he strives to discern the best path forward. Laura is shocked by the appearance of the man who stole her heart so many years ago…and who still possesses it. Can the star-crossed lovers build a life together or will their secrets and fears keep them from achieving happiness?

First Impressions

Alright, confession time. I’ve never been a huge fan of secret baby romances. I always find myself getting upset with the female lead for keeping such a massive, literally life-changing secret from either her one-night stand, or maybe an ex with whom she’s had a falling out. Needless to say I was a little hesitant to pick up this third and final read in the Manhattan Holiday Loves series. While I did think that Laura could have done more to locate some contact info for Adam to send him word about the fact that their one night together resulted in a baby, I have to give it to the author for putting up as many legitimate road blocks to make that as difficult an act as possible. From a phone number washed away by a coffee spill, to friends getting in a life-threatening car accident the morning after, to Adam having to report the next morning for a multi-year international secret ops mission where he wouldn’t have been able to go home or contact Laura on the reg even if he wanted to. So…yeah! A bit more challenging than your standard “she just didn’t want to tell him” secret baby romance.

From Steam to Intimacy

The other truly stand-out feature of this novella, other than the fact it got me to sympathize with a secret baby romance scenario, was the structure of it all. The novella opens with Laura and Adam meeting on a balcony under the starry night sky after having attended neighboring wedding receptions. They both decide rather quickly to fall into bed together. What I assumed would either be a quick sex scene, or perhaps a fade-to-black cut to the morning after, was anything but. Sure, they fall into each other’s arms pretty speedily upon arriving at the hotel room, but we surprisingly see their one night together play out over several chapters. This small detail was ultimately unbelievably critical in establishing a sense of intimacy between these characters, where we legitimately believe they would pine after each other for the next several years throughout Adam’s deployment.

Normally with one-night romances like this I always question “yeah but how could they fall in love so quickly”, or “how much could they really learn about the other person in such a short period of time?” With this novella, that was never once called into question because we essentially see every critical conversation and loving gesture play out during those first chapters. Upon reconnecting after years apart, Laura and Adam discover the chemistry and desire is still clearly evident between them. However, they choose to push this desire aside for a while so Adam can focus on getting to know his daughter, and Laura can focus on sharing her daughter with someone else for the first time ever. Once that’s resolved they do fall back into bed, or rather over the arm of the sofa, together again. This structure of having the moments of physical intimacy forming the book-ends to Laura and Adam forming a family unit together was just brilliant.

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

Series: Manhattan Holiday Loves, book 3. We may have seen the tales of romance play out for each member of this friend family, but I’m secretly hoping we’ll see some additional installments to cover all the other holidays in a calendar year. I mean, maybe they can all have some long-lost relatives show up that they never knew existed. Totally plausible, right?

Final Impressions: Each novella in this series is a pure delight. This final installment might jump into the steamy bedroom quicker than the previous two, but then we are thrown for a loop with a few dry spell chapters inserted in the middle. Towards the end we do get a bit of over-the-top drama concerning Laura’s prissy mother and a misunderstanding around some paperwork, but all in all it was important to show how miscommunication can lead to the most intense of arguments, but only by coming back together with an open mind can they potentially overcome anything together as a couple. This whole series presents us with some crucial takeaways for having a successful relationship, and this third novella is no different.

Smut Level: Hot daaaaaang! Adam is the dirtiest talking of the bunch, and presents us with a sex position I can’t say I’ve ever seen in all my years of romance reading. Hats, gloves, shirts, pants and all possible clothing off to you my friend!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 125 Pages. Get the whole series.

Her Valentine Surprise by Ayla Asher

If you’re looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day read, then look no further! This darling novella has all the feels, squeees and awwwws you could ever ask for.

What’s it About? 

Sam has a secret he holds close to his heart…

Joy Paulson is fine being single. In fact, it saves her from the maddening dating rituals in Manhattan. If she ever settles down, it will be with someone she truly loves and trusts. That’s why she turns down her super-hot boss when he asks her out, leading to disaster when he retaliates, forcing her termination.

Sam Davidson has pined for Joy since the first time he saw her sweet smile and stunning eyes. But there’s a secret that the shy IT developer holds deep inside: Sam is still a virgin. At twenty-nine, he never intended it to happen, but accepts that he could never please Joy in all the ways she deserves.

Sam can offer her a job, though, and proceeds to help Joy rebuild her life after the unfair firing. As their work relationship grows, Joy is taken with Sam’s kindness, gorgeous crystal-hazel eyes and generous smile. And his hands…oh, his firm, broad hands…Joy can’t figure out why Sam resists the desire that sparks so vividly between them, but Valentine’s Day is coming and she’s determined to seduce him and make them both burn. Even if it means discovering all his secrets…

First Impressions

Even thought the first novella in this series features a woman falling in love with her sexy neighbor, I would say this second novella presents us with the perfect epitome of the “guy next door”. Sam is the guy we can all see ourselves falling for. He’s sweet, humble, he’d move the Earth if it would make our female lead smile, and in every sense of the word is just a good guy! The most fascinating aspect of this read is that Sam is hiding a secret from Joy that fills him to bursting with embarrassment: he’s a virgin. There are seemingly countless romances out there which feature a virginal lead falling in love, but 9 times out of 10 that lead is our heroine rather than the hero. I’m enthralled any time an author chooses to explore a male virgin lead because it’s so unbelievably rare, yet a very important topic to discuss. This novella presents us with an intriguingly honest discourse between Joy and Sam about how his virginity isn’t something to be ashamed of, and Joy doesn’t view him as “less than” when compared to her former lovers. She’s honored that Sam has chosen her as the special person he wants to share this with, and sees the next stage of their relationship as a journey they can traverse together.

From Co-Workers to Lovers

Compared to the previous novella, we do have to wait a bit longer to get around to the steamy fun times, which makes sense when you consider Sam’s virginity and the fact that he and Joy have just started a business relationship with each other. Neither wants to risk the positive working relationship they’ve developed, but eventually they realize that not taking things to the next level is proving to be more of a distraction. Once the slow burn combusts into a steamy night of passion you can’t help but admire Joy’s emphasis on communication in the bedroom. They are both so open about what works and what doesn’t that it feels like we are witnessing the start of what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like. This was also a feature of the first novella that I really appreciated. Everyone is able to vocalize what can help them find release during sex, and they have these conversations naturally without any sense of awkwardness or shame. It’s actually quite beautiful!

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

Series: Manhattan Holiday Loves, book 2. Do yourself a favor and just get the whole series.

Final Impressions: Overall I’d say this was a slightly more predictable read than the first novella in that it was easy to see where some of the minor dramatic plot points were going. That being said, it was still a delightfully fun and sexy read that left me with a huge sappy grin on my face. What more could you want in a Valentine’s Day romance?!

Smut Level: This novella may have been a slow build-up before Sam and Joy gave into their desire, but once they do Sam is definitely a fast learner in the erotic arts. As for Joy, she’s more than happy to serve as his instructor and help his long-held sensual dreams of Joy finally become a reality.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 136 Pages. 

Upon Your Honor by Marie Lavender

A tale of romance on the high seas. When Chloe stows away on a ship in order to escape a foreboding fiancé, the last thing she expects is to find safety in the arms of a dashing sailor. When her fiancé refuses to give up in getting her back, Chloe questions if her sailor will succeed in keeping her safe forever.

What’s it About?

New York City, August, 1891 – Orphaned after the death of her father, Chloe Waverly stows away on La Voyageur to escape the clutches of her cruel fiancé, Lamonte Beckett. Gabriel Hill, a strange and compelling gentleman, comes upon Chloe and promises to protect her without knowing the true circumstances of why she is running away. During their journey, Gabriel doesn’t bargain on being distracted by her fair beauty or succumbing to her many charms. As their attraction to each other grows, so does the danger and Gabriel suspects things are not as they should be. Both are determined to get to New Orleans, where she can start a new life. But, once they reach their destination, events spin out of their control and Chloe is captured by the fiancé she escaped. Gabriel is left wondering if he can overlook her betrayal. Soon he finds himself in a race against time, to reach her before Beckett can exact revenge.

First Impressions

Well, I must say I found this second installment in the Heiress in Love trilogy, and the lead couple presented, to be a vast improvement from book one! The primary contributing factor to this success was that where we saw our book one couple separated by the vast ocean for years at a time, Chloe and Gabriel spend most of this sequel traveling together on the same boat. While there may be several scenes which see them separated by Gabriel’s workings either above or below deck, they can’t help but be thrown together amidst a tumultuous storm, during a walk on deck beneath the night sky, or even during an attempted mutiny by hired assassins. Gabriel serves as the protector on whom Chloe desperately depends, and she evokes a feeling of “home” that Gabriel didn’t realize he needed so badly.

Hiding the Truth

Overall this second novel presented us with likable characters that we hoped would find a happily ever after together, but we do also see some themes carry over from book one which were less than stellar. Most discerningly was the fact that while Chloe and Gabe are clearly smitten with each other and on the verge of falling head over heels in love, neither believes the other could feel anything momentous towards them, and neither is willing to admit how much they truly care. It was a markedly frustrating aspect of the read which lent itself to some rather unnecessary drama. For Gabe, he believes Chloe deserves someone better than a sailor who spends lengthy amounts of time at sea. When he finally realizes how much he loves Chloe, and that he’d love nothing more than to spend the rest of his life with her, he still chooses to remain close-lipped about it for a long time. If the romance of his parents (who were the focus of book one and whose love story he summarizes to Chloe) taught us anything, it’s that keeping that kind of admission to yourself can only lead to misunderstanding and heartache.

As for Chloe, the silence about her true feelings and the details of her past was a bit more confusing. Chloe is on the run from a seemingly diabolical fiancé her father promised her to on his deathbed. This fiancé refuses to allow Chloe to say no to his proposal, and when she runs away he hires a group of ruthless men to get her back. The scenes involving Chloe being set upon, kidnapped, tied up and almost violated are too numerous to count, yet she refuses to reveal to Gabe that all of these incidents are at the hands of her maniacal fiancé. She believes telling him would only put Gabe in more danger, and he might even feel required to send her back to this crazy man. Darling, the man has been in countless sword fights since you came along because of confrontations with the men trying to retrieve you, I think telling him the truth behind their determination could only help matters!

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

Series: Heiresses in Love, book 2.

Final Impressions: This was definitely an improvement upon the romance related in book one. However, I do wish this second book had opened with at least one scene involving Chloe and her supposedly unbearable fiancé. He is absent for so much of the read, and we primarily deal with his henchmen throughout the book, so I would have appreciated an initial glimpse into our overarching villain before diving right into the story. It was also somewhat unbelievable that Gabe wouldn’t have demanded an explanation from Chloe about the danger seemingly following her everywhere since she came onto his father’s ship. However, you can’t help but appreciate the progression of watching Chloe see Gabe as her foe, to protector, to the love of her life.

Smut Level: There’s a few moments of passionate kissing which eventually build up to some beautifully tender lovemaking.

View it on Amazon: Click Here. Summer Solstice Publishing. 361 Pages.

Cinderella Busted by Petie McCarty

What happens after Prince Charming discovers the truth about Cinderella? Can there be a happily ever after for a relationship based in deception?

What’s it About?

Cinderella’s fairy tale moves to Jupiter Island, Florida, where Lily Foster, owner of an eclectic landscape nursery, is mistaken for a wealthy socialite by billionaire resort developer Rhett Buchanan. Overdue for a little romance in her life, Lily is anxious for one fabulous date with her handsome prince, so she cultivates her inadvertent masquerade.

Rhett Buchanan has become jaded with the Palm Beach social scene, dominated by scheming women desperate for more money—his money. Rhett falls hard when he meets Lily Foster. She is a breath of fresh air after the smog of gold diggers constantly surrounding him.

For Rhett and Lily, it’s love at first sight until her deception comes to light and pitches their relationship into a disastrous tailspin. Well-meaning friends are determined to intercede and resort to inept high jinks to reunite the estranged couple while a wicked ex-girlfriend plays dirty to keep the couple apart.

First Impressions

When it comes to modern retellings of classic fairy tales, you better believe I’ll be first in line to read them. This particular story of romance begins with a chance encounter between a billionaire bachelor, Rhett, and a landscape nursery owner, Lily. They’re both clearly smitten with each other, and quickly start a flirtatious dialogue that will fill you with glee. Lily is unfamiliar with such attention by the local elite of her town, and she realizes that Rhett assumes her to be a wealthy plant and flower aficionado rather than the owner of the business.

Now, I’m not entirely convinced being the owner of a successful, locally owned business with long-standing ties to the community would be something you need to hide from a potential suitor, but nonetheless Lily chooses to do just that. She chooses to live in this fairy tale of attention to indulge in just one picture-perfect date with Rhett before calling it quits. What she didn’t anticipate was the intimate connection which develops so quickly between them, and as one date turns into two, then into a weeklong getaway to New York City, she finds it increasingly difficult to reveal the truth about who she is. But if we know anything about fairy tales, it’s that all secrets must eventually come out into the open.

An Unexpected Progression

Everything up until this point in the story, and even some of the aftermath of the big reveal to Lily’s true identity, was a sheer delight. However, I remember being surprised to see that this was all happening within the first third of the novel. Surely after a brief spat about Lily hiding her true profession from Rhett they’ll proceed to kiss and make up and all will be well, right? Or maybe I ended up with a Kindle version that had the entire series in one file? Maybe it’ll just be one really really long epilogue to take up the remaining two-thirds of the book? Not so much. Instead what follows was an extremely drawn out back-and-forth of Lily trying to explain herself, but Rhett refuses to listen. Then when he finally does open his ears to her explanation and they’re seemingly on the mend, something will happen to portray Rhett in a negative light, and now he’s the one trying to win her back. And then it all starts over again on repeat. It was pretty tiring after a while.

The Missing Piece

Overall the story had a lot of positive elements, but the breakdown of the acts just needed to be weighted differently. Rather than having so much back-and-forth mistrust and misunderstanding between them, I think the story could have benefitted from a few more scenes where Lily and Rhett were getting to know each other during that fairy tale week together. We see that at the conclusion of that week they’ve developed a deep emotional connection that they’re both eventually willing to fight for. We have to question though how much they could have discussed seeing as Lily’s business is one of the most important features of her life, and envelops her community of family and friends, yet this is the key detail she keeps secret from Rhett the whole time. Basically, how could she have revealed anything substantive about her life when she keeps the most important and all-consuming part of her life a secret? They also never had sex during this time, so their conversation really was the crucial linchpin in establishing their relationship.

The Evil Ex-Girlfriend

No fairy tale would be complete without a villain, and this story certainly provides us with a villainess who packs a punch. An ex-girlfriend of Rhett’s who doesn’t know when to quit, this woman screams evil upon first meeting. While she was entertaining at the start, she was also pretty one-dimensional in her motivation to win Rhett back for his money and sexual prowess. She’s also in desperate need of a thesaurus to discover another way to refer to Lily other than “slut” and “gold-digger”. Soooo many slut references. Her scheming does escalate rather dramatically by the end, and you just want to tell this woman to take a chill-pill and find another fish in the sea already. Rhett clearly isn’t into her anymore, so why bother with him?

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

Series: The Cinderella Romances, book 1. There are some delightful secondary characters presented in this book, and we almost get to know them better than Rhett and Lily. I can’t wait to see them featured in their own stories going forward.

Final Impressions: A strong start, but this story quickly involves to much back-and-forth of grudges and longing between Rhett and Lily that left the overall plot feeling unbalanced. I really wish we saw more of what brought these two together so closely during that week together that they’re basically in love by the end of it.

Smut Level: We get a few kisses, but no sex.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Soul Mate Publishing, LLC. 364 Pages.

His Holiday Pact by Ayla Asher

His Holiday Pact by Ayla Asher

“Because, sometimes, you just need a sweet, sultry fake relationship holiday romance…”

What’s it About? 

Who knew a fake holiday relationship could be so fun?

Kayla Summers has had enough of her mother’s insistence that she find a man and get married.  At thirty-three, she’s a successful attorney and has a fantastic life. Knowing her mother will grill her constantly over the upcoming holidays about her single existence, she dreads the visits home.

Carter Manheim is a self-proclaimed bachelor, dead set on seducing every beautiful woman in Manhattan. And why not? His parents’ disastrous marriage and divorce proved that lifelong commitments just aren’t viable. As his mother’s health worsens, his only wish is to give her one last happy holiday, even if it entails bringing home a girlfriend.

When Kayla’s sexy neighbor proposes they take each other home for the holidays as fake partners, she’s floored. However, getting her mother off her back is her number one priority and she agrees to the arrangement. Now, if she can only keep her heart from becoming emotionally entangled with the player of the century, she’ll be just fine…

First Impressions

A fake relationship between neighbors with some Pretty Woman black books and the perfect shade of red lipstick? I think the only thing missing from this holiday romance was a twig of mistletoe! Although, we do get some eggnog now that I think about it. This fantabulous novella presents us with a female lead who just might be my literary twin. A curvy lass with a penchant for pizza, a small but tight-knit group of gal pals, and she enjoys a good ole Black Velvet at the end of a long day. Sure, she might have a slight obsession for the Knicks that I can’t quite relate to, but I’m willing to overlook that little detail.

As if that wasn’t enough perfection for one read, the first introduction we get to our male lead, Carter, is absolutely drool-worthy. “Gray sweatpants sat low on his hips, the V of his abdomen jutting down below the waistband, leading to a sizeable package.” Gulp! Oh, and did I mention that in between acting jobs he lends his deep and sexy voice to audiobook narration? If that’s not enough to make you fall in love with these two characters, their progression from mere neighborly acquaintances to friends and confidants before eventually becoming lovers will make you adore them all the more.

Adults Being Adults

One of the aspects of this read that I appreciated the most was that these adults managed to act like…well…adults! This was especially true in regards to their sexual relationship. Sure, Carter might enjoy bringing some dirty talk into their escapades, and Kayla brings her vibrator into the mix, but you can tell that there is an underlying respect for each other right at the surface. Considering Carter’s slew of one-night stands and short-term flings before Kayla, his care for her needs in the bedroom was definitely an unexpected surprise. For example, during one of their first sensual interactions, they’re caught up in some steamy passion, but Carter still takes a moment to ask if Kayla can find her release from penetration alone, or if she’ll need additional stimulation to help things along. He easily could have just been absorbed in reaching his own pleasure, but he wanted to ensure her needs were met before taking care of himself. In another scene Carter is eager to get Kayla’s red lips around…a certain part of him. His initial instinct is to grab her hair and pump away, but he talks her through how to take him, and asks her if she’d prefer that he move away from her at the end. Again, it was these small details that did a lot to demonstrate Carter wasn’t selfish in the bedroom.

The Past Threatens the Present

Carter experienced a troubled past relationship with his father who abandoned him, his mother and brother years ago. Due to this complicated history Carter is open with Kayla about the fact that he isn’t looking for anything serious. With the awful example his father set for him, he simply can’t see himself as a husband and father in the future. However, as things progress between Carter and Kayla, sex before bed soon evolves into just wanting to hold each other as they fall asleep. Kayla realizes she’s starting to feel something deep for this man, yet she also acknowledges these intense emotions were never part of their initial fake relationship agreement in the first place. They were just supposed to make it through the holidays, and settle the inquisitive minds of their intrusive family members.

When Carter admits things are no longer fake between them Kayla doesn’t immediately demand he confess his love for her, or even ask him to consider marriage and kids at some point in their future together. She admits that marriage isn’t for everyone and doesn’t necessarily work out in every case. Kayla also isn’t 100% certain about having kids either. What she does want from him is simply some kind of commitment that their relationship is going somewhere. Now, I do agree that Carter had a lot to consider with this seemingly simply request considering his mother had only mere weeks to live, and this was never something he saw for himself. His hesitancies to commit were pretty understandable in that regard. That being said, you can also see things from Kayla’s point of view in that she wasn’t asking him for an awful lot either. The joys and trials of falling in love!

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

Series: Manhattan Holiday Loves, book 1. This entire series has officially been added to my immediate TBR list.

Final Impressions: Get yourself this novella! It’s funny, cute, super sexy, and provides an enlightening review of how a relationship can evolve. It felt like we were witnessing a real connection! I would have loved a few more scenes involving Carter’s mother, but I also realize that would have probably resulted in full-blown, heaving, ugly crying.

Smut Level: Daaaaaaaang!! This read should come with a warning label: may cause reader and Kindle to spontaneously combust.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 141 Pages. 

The Wages of Sin by Kate A. Knight

Amy has been determined to locate her parents’ killer and uncover the reason for their murders for over a decade. When Todd Birch comes on the scene, he threatens to distract her in ways she never thought possible.

What’s it About?

Amy Koehler knows deception better than anyone. Half her life is a secret and the other half is a lie.
The only truth she knows is her love for one man.
Todd Birch is everything she ever wanted and doesn’t deserve.

When there are no more secrets…
Todd must decide whether Amy is worth fighting for.
Broken beyond anything he ever imagined, Amy tests the limits of his love. He puts everything on the line to save her – his career, his honor, his life.
But even that may not be enough.

When all that’s left is the truth… and there’s nowhere left to hide…
There isn’t anything Amy won’t sacrifice to avenge her father.
She knows she is no better than the people she hunts… merchants of death, beasts without a soul.
But Amy will tear their world apart, even if it means destroying the man she loves.

The story must end…
Because the wrongs of her past can never be righted.
She must kill the ones who wronged her. They will pay for their sins with blood.

It is only a sacred truth… that the Wages of Sin is death.

First Impressions

From Jamaica to the Dominican Republic, to Paris and the outskirts of Washington, DC, the entire series has been building to this moment. Books one and two in this series may have followed the same characters, but the plots of the books were so distinct that you couldn’t help but question how the two were supposed to link together in any meaningful way. Well, enter book three where all the different pieces are joined together to form one haphazard and troubling puzzle. We have Amy’s confrontation with the man who will lead her to her father’s killer, her work bringing a terrorist to justice, her complicated relationship with Anne, and finally her tumultuously passionate yet argumentative relationship with her husband, Todd Birch. There was certainly a lot going on…too much going on in my opinion, to the point where it felt like no one story line received the depth and attention it deserved. Finally, all of the progress from book two of Amy learning to trust Todd seemingly evaporated between the last page of that novel and the first page of this one without any explanation.

A Confusing Marriage

Throughout all the mystery and espionage of the last two books there has been one element that has remained constant throughout the series, and that was Amy and Todd. They’ve been linked and drawn to each other since day one, and Todd is really the only man Amy has ever deigned to love. The main dilemma for us as the readers though is that neither character can be considered “likeable”. With each additional novel I found it near impossible to root for them to succeed as a couple, and questioned at times if the series would conclude with them riding off into the sunset together, or killing each other. Either option was certainly plausible. Amy herself would constantly waffle between an internal dialogue of pure infatuation for the man, to be quickly replaced by one of suspicion, fear and pure animosity. They were both abusive to each other mentally and physically, and seemed like they were using each other for ulterior purposes. Again, it was a challenge to root for either of them.

The Big Reveal

If we had to toss out one plot line that seemed quite unnecessary, it would have to be Amy’s work case to get to a known terrorist. This story line resulted in her seeking out the terrorist’s son to uncover personal information to convince the other son to reveal where their father was hiding. It was just…too many lines removed from the main drama of the novel, and the only way it really impacted any of the story was that it brought Amy to Paris where a man who knew about the man who ordered the death of her parents was located. As you can see, there’s a lot to keep track of here.

When we finally get to the big penultimate reveal of who was responsible for the death of Amy’s parents I only had one reaction, “Well…duh!” I couldn’t be sure if this was supposed to be a huge, shocking twist, but honestly it was something that seemed fairly evident since book one. While I could understand and sympathize with Amy’s quest for vengeance, I couldn’t stand behind some of her methods towards discovery, such as killing most of the associates involved in her plotting to ensure nothing could be linked back to her. There was so much senseless killing involved that you question if Amy is supposed to be our heroine, our villain, or perhaps a little bit of both.

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

Series: The Sins Trilogy, book 3. Honestly I was happy to see this series come to an end.

Final Impressions: Overall, it was difficult to connect with, or even like, a single character in this series, let alone our main character. Too much was happening, the pacing was off, and it was difficult to tell if our lead couple loved or loathed each other. The ending was rather predictable, anticlimactic and rushed, and there were significant grammatical errors littered throughout. It definitely had the potential to be an intriguing tale of espionage, but there were too many elements that needed reworking.

Smut Level: Like Amy and Todd’s emotional relationship, their physical relationship was rather problematic as well. At times it was full of steam and passion. Other times left bruises and other physical pains. Even when the two fought and screamed at each other, they always maintained an intense desire for each other. Talk about whiplash!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Khaton Press. 400 Pages.

Two Souls United by Rebecca Hefner

Two Souls United by Rebecca Hefner

There are countless discussions about some of the best tropes in Romancelandia, including friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, office romance, billionaire romance, etc. I must say this short novella reminded me of another tried and true classic: the bodyguard and his ward.

What’s it About? 

Two of the most beloved characters in the series find their happy ever after in this sweet, steamy novella…

Sam, uncle to Jack, whose strength and bravery are only matched by his kindness and compassion.

Glarys, the feisty, caring estate manager who puts everyone else first.

Two souls who aren’t searching for love but might still find it nevertheless.

Enjoy your time in Etherya’s Earth!

**The Etherya’s Earth series is best read in order so the reader can enjoy the evolution of the characters. After all, the author loves a good twist and wants the reader to uncover them organically. However, readers of romance rest assured that each book has its own featured hero/heroine and HEA.

First Impressions

I have absolutely fallen in love with this series and all the characters we’ve gotten to know in Etherya’s Earth. In my haste to start this novella I only briefly glimpsed the cover of two lovers embracing and jumped right in thinking we’d be treated to another delightful couple in the prime of their immortal lives. Well imagine my excited surprise to discover early on that our female lead, Glarys, didn’t take on her immortal form until she was a white-haired 65-year-old. I never would have guessed the lovely blonde on the cover was in her 50s, let alone 60s, so I really wasn’t expecting this kind of “twist” involving one of our leads. That being said, I do love me some romances featuring mature characters!! Next thing I know I’ve wandered down the internet rabbit hole looking up famous actresses in their 60s who I might be able to picture in my mind as the somewhat shy and reserved Glarys, but who also has a bit of spunk to her personality when it’s needed most. It was…so much fun.

The Discussion of Age

Now, while Glarys has the appearance of a sixty-five year old, and Sam appears to be in his 40s, technically these immortals are both hundreds of years old, so the idea of a twenty year age gap is practically laughable when you look at the big picture. Something I really appreciated with this novella that we really haven’t explored in the previous full-length novels in the series was that even though they’ve been around forever, Glarys and Sam both still have the ability to blush like a couple of teenagers when they first start to flirt and explore a romantic relationship together.

It was such an adorably refreshing sentiment for these two who needed a bit of time to warm up to each other before taking things further. Essentially, just because they’ve been around forever doesn’t mean they have all the confidence in the world when it comes to starting out on a relationship journey with someone new. It’s a side of immortals we just haven’t really seen played out before, and it helps us find a small way to connect to these vampyric creatures from another realm. They can get nervous, feel insecure and blush red just like we can when a long-time crush starts to show us attention. Apparently it doesn’t matter if you’re 25, 65 or 955, new love can be exciting yet nerve racking at the same time!

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 5.5. I will read everything this series and this author has to produce!!

Final Impressions: This novella manages to pack a lot of punch into just under 100 pages, including the friendship and romance between Sam and Glarys, some fight scenes and drama from our deamon enemies, and even some PTSD for Sam having lost his arm in a battle years ago. I would have liked to see just a smidge more interplay or mention of Sam’s nephew, as well as Glarys’s former husband, but heck at that point I’m probably just craving another full-length book to this great series.

Smut Level: If Sam and Glarys teach us anything, it’s that as long as there’s chemistry there’s nothing stopping ya from causing some flames between the sheets. Whether you have the bod of a 65-year-old, or only one arm, passion can make everything perfect.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. 78 Pages. 

The Sins of the Flesh by Kate A. Knight

The Sins of the Flesh by Kate A. Knight

In this second installment of the Sins Trilogy, we find Amy finally starting to open up about her troubled past to her husband Todd. These moments of confession are even more disturbing than we could have anticipated.

What’s it About?

Amy Koehler is among the best the Intelligence community has to offer… exactly as her father intended her to be. Today, she is the closest anyone has ever come to solving the mystery of her parents’ assassination. It doesn’t hurt either that she has recruited Todd Birch as her cover. He’s a charismatic diplomat whose smile could charm the panties off a saint, and Amy is counting on just those winning ways to secure her place at the top, where her parents’ murderers are hiding.

Falling for her mark could be the worst thing Amy has ever done, which is a tall order, because she has done some really bad things in her life. But that shouldn’t be a problem… right? If anyone can fix this – falling in love with a man who doesn’t love her in return – Amy can! After all, killing has always come easier than feeling, and that’s just what she’ll do when her attraction to her husband gets out of hand. Stop feeling. Kill all that lies between them. And find her parents’ murderers so she can kill them too.

First Impressions

There are a few unfortunate aspects of the first novel in this series which also managed to show up in this second book. Firstly, there are some distracting grammatical issues which can remove you from the action or intensity of a given scene. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s poignantly challenging to connect with, or even like, either of our main protagonists. The very nature of their secretive government work means they are closed off from each other, as well as from us as the audience. Amy has been building internal walls to emotionally distance herself from others ever since the death of her parents when she was a teenager. Todd seems determined to break down her walls, and teach her how to open up to and trust in someone else again. However, just because Todd is able to insert his way into her life doesn’t mean we are afforded the same luxury. We’re never really given the chance to sympathize or emotionally connect with her, primarily because she herself is unable to emotionally express herself in so many scenes. She basically gives off a robotic aura in her interactions with others, as well as within her own internal musings.

A Small Window Opens

Up until this point, the main thing we know about Amy’s past is that her parents were murdered when she was younger, and she has been devoted to uncovering the identity of their killer ever since that tragic night. This second novel provides us with more of a window into who Amy has become as an adult, mainly because Todd demands it of her. We discover that her desire for hard and excessively rough sex links back to a disturbingly violent event which occurred when she was a teenager. Following the death of her parents Amy closed herself off from everyone and didn’t feel anything anymore. However, she admits to Todd that when she was raped by a family friend the experience caused her to “wake up” and feel something for the first time since they died. Even if it made her feel anger, disgust, and humiliated, she was grateful to feel anything after living in a fog for so long. Following this experience she continually craved extremely fierce and dominant sex that might leave her with bruises, or cause her to pass out, since it would once again make her “feel” something. So yeah…I’d classify it as a dark read that I wasn’t prepared for.

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

Series: The Sins Trilogy, book 2.

Final Impressions: In a way, this whole book kind of felt like a distraction. We barely make any progress on Amy finding out who killed her parents, and the character of Anne that we met in book 1 was almost entirely absent. We see Amy focused on this other case that doesn’t really have anything to do with the big picture. The best part of the novel was the finale, as we finally see Amy trust Todd, seeing as she spent such a large portion of this book pushing him away. They even fight together during a final mission and it was an exciting glimpse of how much more entertaining they can be when they’re fighting for the same goal.

Smut Level: The sex scenes were too disturbing for me seeing how rough Amy likes it, including erotic asphyxiation, while Todd would prefer to take things more gently. Learning the background of why she enjoys it so much made it even harder to read.

Click Here: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Khaton Press. 341 Pages.

Scandalous in a Kilt by Anna Durand

Scandalous in a Kilt by Anna Durand

A sexy Scotsman who looks drool-worthy in a kilt and can toss a caber using his bulging man muscles? Umm, yeah, where does the line start for that tall drink of perfection?!

What’s it About?

A free-spirited American. An uptight hot Scot. When passion ignites, no rules can survive the heat.

An office drudge by day, a free spirit by night… For Emery Granger, getting laid off from her job as a computer programmer liberated her from imprisonment in an office cubicle. The problem? She has no career and almost no money. Desperate to forget her quandary for one weekend, she takes off on a spontaneous trip to New Orleans — where the unconventional American collides with a sizzling-hot Scot.

Uptight lawyer by day, steamy seducer by night… After surviving three disastrous failed marriages, Rory MacTaggart has no desire to get entangled in another relationship. But with his two brothers now living in wedded bliss, he’s enduring the well-meaning pestering of his entire family. Rory’s solution? Get himself a trophy wife.

A one-night stand leads to a marriage of convenience, and a culture clash when Emery must adjust to a new life in Scotland and her new husband’s need for rules. When Rory’s ordered life explodes, the reluctant husband may just have met his match in the passionate, adventurous wife he swears he will never love.

First Impressions

Yasssssssss!!!!!!! Finallyyyyyyyyy. It only took two previous novels featuring hot Scots from this family finding their lady loves before we finally get around to what I’ve been waiting for since book one. After all this time we finally see our love interests travel to Scotland! This third book has definitely been my favorite of the series, and while the change of scenery wasn’t the sole reason for this fascination of mine, it certainly helped! Rory’s introduction of his homeland and its traditions was something that helped him and Emery grow closer together as a couple. It brought them together in a way that helped provide a window into who Rory truly is beneath his serious, businessman exterior. He’s always been closed off in revealing too much about himself to Emery, but when they find themselves in his home environment, he can’t help but open up a bit more.

From One Night to One Year

Upon first meeting, neither Rory nor Emery has the idea of a happily ever after at the forefront of their minds. Initially they’re both looking for a distraction to lose themselves in the arms of a stranger. After one explosive night of seduction, Rory realizes this carefree spirit might be the answer he’s looking for to convince his family to stop pestering him to find a wife. As for Emery, she was recently fired and is trying to figure out what new direction to take her life in. When a sexy Scot offers her one year of marriage, plus a hefty sum for this charade, how can she say no? Let the road lead her wherever it might…straight into the arms of her future happiness.

And this plays into what makes Emery and Rory such a delightfully engaging couple. At the end of the day, they are both selfless people who care deeply for others. Emery especially is so carefree, is so upfront with Rory about her life, and she won’t let him intimidate her into backing down when she tries to get him to open up to get away from his obsessive work life to just play with her. When we consider the crazy pandemic world we find ourselves in, I think we adults can take a page from Emery’s book to just let loose every once in a while, and find time to spin in a circle with our arms stretched wide. While she helps Rory relax and even make a fool of himself at times, he in turn shows her his country and teaches her about its history and culture. There’s nothing better than a couple willing to teach and learn from each other simply because they want to share a bit of themselves with the other person.

Series: Hot Scots, book 3. Hands down this was my favorite book of the series so far!

Final Impressions: While there were moments which tested Rory and Emery’s relationship, there was nothing overly dramatic or outlandish to threaten pushing them off the tracks entirely. Emery was a delightfully open spirit I’d love to try and emulate. Then you have Rory who seems like a rule following hard-ass, but Emery slowly succeeds in uncovering the sad details of his previous failed marriages and slowly breaks down the walls he’s tried to build around his heart. Gotta love ’em!

Smut Level: On the surface, Rory might appear to be a by-the-book rule follower who can’t fathom the idea of day-time sex or sharing a bath with Emery, but don’t let that fool you. Once Emery gets him to loosen up, Rory proves he’s all manly Scot beneath that well-tailored suit. Seriously, where does the line start to get me a man like this?!?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Jacobsville Books. 280 Pages.

Whiteout by Adriana Anders

Is there anything sexier than the idea of “mating” your sleeping bag to your partner’s in order to share body heat during a snow storm in the coldest place on Earth? Anything to notch up the temperature a few degrees!

What’s it About?

With a storm coming and a killer on the loose, every step could be their last…

Angel Smith is finally ready to leave Antarctica for a second chance at life. But on what was meant to be her last day, the remote research station she’s been calling home is attacked. Hunted and scared, she and irritatingly gorgeous glaciologist Ford Cooper barely make it out with their lives…only to realize that in a place this remote, there’s nowhere left to run.

Isolated with no power, no way to contact the outside world, and a madman on their heels, Angel and Ford must trust their instincts and fight to survive in the most inhospitable—and beautiful—place on earth. But what starts as a partnership born of necessity quickly turns into an urgent connection that burns bright and hot. They both know there’s little chance of making it out alive, and yet they are determined to weather the coming storm—no matter the cost.

First Impressions

This is one of those reads where I think the synopsis may have been more exciting than the actual progression of events. After all, when we get beyond the initial suspense of murder which forces our protagonists, Angel and Ford, to traverse to another station in the midst of an Antarctic winter, the reality of their situation is primarily…a lot of endless walking. Each chapter of the novel opens with a countdown of the remaining miles they need to trek before making it to safety, as well as a count of their dwindling food supplies. Essentially though what we have is a very long walk from point A to point B, with a hope that the bad guys doing flyovers in an attempt to locate them (and the deadly virus cannisters they’re carrying) won’t be able to spot our couple as needles in a haystack of endless white.

A Bit of Romance

In the midst of this very long walk to safety, Ford and Angel start to feel the stirrings of romance developing between them. Ford has always been socially awkward and distant from others at the base, but he’s always felt an underlying tingle around Angel. Now that the two of them have set out on their life-threatening journey, Ford can no longer escape her presence like he could back at the base, and their connection continues to grow ever stronger. Too bad their surroundings limit them to engaging in some over-the-clothes make out and rubbing sessions. After all, fully disrobing to indulge in their ultimate desire could legitimately result in some rather serious frostbite damage to one of Ford’s most important appendages.

Series: Survival Instincts, book 1. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with this series. It just didn’t grab me.

Final Impressions: I feel like we never fully understand the motives behind our villain pulling all the puppet strings behind the scenes. We know she experienced tragedy with the death of her children and grandchildren due to a school shooting (maybe?), but it’s unclear how that equates to wanting to unleash a deadly virus, and then vaccine, to the world. Also, while we get an exciting final confrontation between our characters and some secondary villains, we never get one involving our main antagonist. It leaves everything feeling somewhat unfinished to undoubtedly resolve in a future novel. Overall, an interesting concept, but with the execution you kind of understand how the premise would lack in action for a while.

Smut Level: The threat of frostbite in some very important places means Angel and Ford can’t immediately give into their desires. But once they find an abandoned service station to keep them warm amidst the frigid cold? All bets (and clothes) are off!!

Get in on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Sourcebooks Casablanca. 514. Pages.