A Sense of Belonging by Laura Branchflower

This book practically takes place in my backyard. It would have been a crime not to read it!

What’s it About? 

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Casey Jansen is celebrating her twenty-first birthday when she catches a glimpse of the older man she’s been secretly obsessing over since passing him on a running trail. When her sister identifies him as Tony Prossi, a well-known Washington, D.C. attorney, Casey instantly wishes she was older. There is no way he is going to be interested in a college student. At least that’s what she believes until their eyes meet. As a partner in a top D.C. law firm and son of a powerful U.S. senator, Tony Prossi understands the importance of image. There is certainly no place in his life for a woman as young as Casey Jansen, especially not when he’s considering running for his father’s Senate seat. But one night with the Georgetown University student ignites a hunger he can’t seem to quench. And Tony will have to decide whether being with Casey is worth the risk to his reputation and family.

First Impressions

I visit Georgetown at least two times a week. My best friend lives there, and it’s about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. Now, on the whole, I must admit it’s probably my least favorite part of DC. The sidewalks are too narrow, it’s too crowded, and everyone walks at a snail’s pace. It tries my patience which then explodes in a ball of fury. That being said, it was fun to read a novel that is set so close to home, and for the most part has a pretty accurate description of DC and Georgetown living! From the running paths through Rock Creek Park, to the high-priced homes of the wealthy. However, I must say there was one aspect of this story which made me pause. Our female lead, who is also a college senior, owns a car? Seriously?! In gtown?!?! Where the hell does she park it? How can she afford parking? Why doesn’t she walk, take the bus, or metro?! Ok granted Georgetown doesn’t have a metro, but I don’t even own a car in this town and I’ve lived here for 6 years. You wanna get rid of an unnecessary expense, don’t have a car in DC. Believe me!! Sorry, silly and unnecessary thing to get riled up about 🙂

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Prince Charming? 

So this was an interesting romance, because for about the first 50% of the novel I honestly didn’t know if our lead couple was going to end up together. Scratch that, I didn’t even know if I wanted them to end up together! At times I felt like Tony was just a closed off guy who would be a tough nut to crack before admitting his true feelings of love and affection for Casey. But then there were other times where I couldn’t help but wonder, wait is this guy going to end up being a villainous douche-bag or something? Casey is so unbelievably smitten with him from the get-go, but he remains entirely closed off to entertaining the idea of anything but physical with her. He doesn’t even want to introduce her to his son. Combine this with the fact that she’s a graduating senior and he’s about 15 years older than her and I wondered, is this guy really just in it for the sex, and eventually Casey will end up heartbroken yet also having learned a valuable life lesson of some kind????

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Ok so the answer to that is no. Eventually Tony does come around, and they’re all happy lovey dovey couple. But I almost wonder if it came “too late” to the story. Not necessarily “too little” too late, as you really do get the sense by the end that Tony is all in when it comes to their relationship, but it definitely made it harder to trust him in the beginning. Or maybe Casey’s full love and devotion for this guy was just too fast and intense up front. The fact that their first date consists of them exchanging about two sentences of pleasantries before she leads him to her room and she gives him her virginity, followed by Casey admitting her love for him about a week later? Ummm…yeah it kind of made me wonder if Casey was a bit too young and naive to enter into this relationship.

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From Questionable to Happily Ever After
 
There were times when Casey’s best friend would try to warn her that her feelings for Tony were so strong simply because he was the first man she ever slept with, and that he was just interested in her because she was a hot and sexy young co-ed. I feel like normally when we’re presented with this kind of outside friendly advice in a romance novel we usually push back on behalf of our loving couple and insist, “no you just don’t understand their love!!! Leave them alone.” However, in this book I was kind of like, girl I get where you’re coming from, there’s just something that doesn’t feel right about this guy. Honestly it was like a mind game!! It seemed like we either could have had a nice and sweet romantic ending (like we did), but I also wouldn’t have been too surprised if we’d gone full out in the other direction with a stalker-suspense tale where Casey goes crazy over Tony’s lack of affection and insist he love her after breaking into his house, or something.

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I know…my mind is a scary place. Imagine having to live with it every day. The last 1/3 or so of this novel really came together for me though. This is when we finally see Tony admit his true feelings for Casey, and while he initially wanted to hide her away we now see him fight for their relationship. This is also when Casey finally graduates from college, and I don’t know why but it just sort of made the age difference seem less apparent. As though she were finally a woman of the world once she had the diploma in hand! We also see some intrigue surrounding Tony’s relationship with his parents, and there were a few twists and turns I didn’t necessarily see coming. A strong finish for sure!

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? While the start of the novel and development of Casey and Tony’s relationship wasn’t my favorite, the book definitely ended strong. I eventually found myself rooting for their love to succeed, but it took a while. Unfortunately I can’t say that Casey was my favorite character. She came across as rather immature at times, and some of her actions and decisions relating to Tony made me cringe. Like when she sits in her car waiting outside his house. However, you can’t help but feel sorry for her family’s treatment of her, and in the end you’re glad she manages to find a happily ever after. I also would have preferred if Tony had showed a bit more warmth towards her in the beginning, rather than it just being a physical connection which brought them together.

Smut Level: Things start off rather slow seeing as this is Casey’s first sexual experience, but after a bit of persuading she manages to convince Tony that she’s more than willing to learn what comes next. And he’s quite the teacher. Wink wink 😉

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 365 Pages.

Captured Memories by Katherine McIntyre

A second chance at love. Can Liv and Zane overcome their troubled pasts to find love with each other, or will it be too heavy a burden to bear?

What’s it About?

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After the incident that caused Liv Morozov to drop out of college, years later she’s still trying to pick up the pieces of her life. She’s managed to carve out a career for herself as a photographer, but when it comes to guys? Her issues send them running for the hills, every damn time. Zane Parata has declared himself off-limits for relationships. Between trying to maintain sobriety and the long hours he works as a chef, no one wants to deal with his brand of damage, and he wouldn’t want to burden them in the first place.

When Liv shows up at Cupid’s Café, she never expected to find Zane, her brother’s former best friend who had vanished one day and never returned. The sparks that surged when they were both teens rekindle stronger than ever, and all too fast, Liv and Zane entangle in each other’s lives, breaking their own rules. Except with both struggling with the demons from their past, the love that’s begun to grow is one lapse away from shattering the two of them beyond repair.

First Impressions

I feel like there is one quote from this novel which perfectly encapsulate the power of the love story being told: “I’m never going to be an easy choice.” Here’s why this sentiment, and the tale love presented to us in this book is absolute perfection. Their love is intense, it’s raw, and most importantly, it…is…real. This story shows us how life is full of unexpected challenges, and to be quite frank, it can be an absolute bitch at times. However, while these external forces can sometimes test the relationship of our lead couple, they never break it. This isn’t one of those romance novels where a simple misunderstanding causes an unnecessary amount of drama, and results in our lovers spending time apart. Oh no. These characters fight for each other, and hold the other up if they’re ever at risk of falling down.

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These two have also been through hell and back. They are scarred lead characters who have experienced emotional and physical turmoil in their pasts. But they don’t just love each other in spite of these troubled pasts, they love who the other person is because of how these experiences have shaped them into who they are today. “I’m never going to be an easy choice” shows that their lives might be complicated, they might be thrown a couple of curve balls along the way, but in the end they will always choose the other. I’ve got all the goosebumps here people!

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An Unbreakable Bond

I think the reason I enjoyed this tale of love between Liv and Zane so much is that the novel primarily just focuses on them. Sure, we are introduced to a few supplemental characters along the way, but for the most part we are encapsulated in a little Liv/Zane bubble that you never want to see burst. They are aware pretty early on in the book when they meet again after so many years that a LOT has happened during that time apart. Liv was raped in college, which impacts the physical relationship these two start up pretty quickly. Zane is a recovering alcoholic who still feels the constant pull of the bottle.

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While some would run away from getting romantically involved with another person with such deep-rooted issues, these two refuse to be scared off. Zane does remain convinced for a large portion of the novel that it’s just a matter of time before Liv realizes how messed up he truly is and hightails it out of there, but he’s going to embrace every possible moment he can between now and when that day might come. In addition, he vows to take things at her own pace, refusing to rush her into a physical relationship before she’s ready.

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A Tough Road Ahead

I also loved that this novel demonstrates how past experiences such as theirs won’t simply be forgotten and magically healed forever by the power of love. Even after they build up to the point where Liv is ready to have sex with Zane, she asks him to realize that there might be a moment down the road where she could be triggered to flinch or push away from his touch.

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At the same time, Zane’s reality is that while he might attend AA meetings multiple times a week, and go for long periods of time without drinking, there will be times where the allure of the alcohol could force him to take a step back from socializing. And they both get it!! They understand when others won’t. They realize that life can be a constant struggle for some people, but they’re there to help and support each other. LOOOVE!

A Step Away From Perfection

At this point I think you can tell I really enjoyed this novel, and while I think the love story described is damn near perfection, I must admit there were a few flaws. The first I consider to be the main flaw, and the one I found to be the most perplexing. The impetus for Live and Zane to reconnect after so many years is that they both receive a cryptic invitation to visit Cupid’s Café where, “an admirer looks forward to meeting you”. Zane is humorously intrigued, and decides why the hell not? Liv is convinced she’s being taunted by her former rapist, and goes to confront him. When they both show up and their eyes lock through the crowded café the rest, as they say, is history.

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But that my friends is the flaw. The rest is history. Who the hell sent them these letters?!?! We never find out. There’s no clue or suggestion if it’s one of their friends, a matchmaking café proprietor, or just the cosmos being all funky. I was absolutely shocked that our lead characters never even bother to discuss it with each other. Now, I will say that this is the third book in this Cupid’s Café series, so maybe the one sending invitations is presented in a previous novel? Maybe it will finally be a big reveal when the series comes to a close? I don’t know but give me something!!!!

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The one other flaw was relatively minor all things considered, and in the end sort of turned into a positive. Our novel opens with Liv on a date from hell, which abruptly ends when she hears the trill of her date’s phone and it immediately reminds her of the night she was raped. When she returns home to find a mystery envelope inviting her to meet someone from her past she’s immediately convinced it can be only one man, her rapist. Her reason for going was decidedly to finally find justice after so many years. Instead, she finds Zane waiting for her.

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Throughout the whole novel I kept waiting for the inevitable scene where Liv and Zane would be confronted with this man from her past. So imagine my surprise when it never comes! No glimpse from across the street, or even a more intense confrontation, nothing! Now, in hindsight I’m actually happy we were never presented with a threatening scene between Liv and her rapist. I think that scenario, combined with Zane confronting his own struggle with alcoholism, would have made the whole plot seem too artificially orchestrated. I guess I just would have preferred that it wasn’t implied at the outset that it could have been a possibility. I sort of felt like I was anticipating something I had no need to worry about for the whole book!

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

Series: Cupid’s Café, book 3. I kind of want to go back and read the first few novels from this series to see if I missed out on our mystery letter writer inviting our lovebirds to Cupid’s Café.

Should you read it? This is an emotional roller coaster of a read that shows you just how powerful, yet difficult love can be. While I definitely loved both of these characters, I personally found Liv to be truly inspirational. She survived a trying ordeal, and was brave enough to share what happened with Zane even though she thought it would put distance between them. Then when Zane experiences a relapse with his alcoholism she chooses to stand by him and refuses to give up even when Zane tries to convince her that she’d be better off without him. It’s such a refreshing contrast to your typical romance novel drama.

Smut Level: Liv and Zane recognize that after all these years their bodies still crave each other, though this sparked attraction is put slightly on hold after Liv experiences a trigger from her rape. But Zane sticks by her side and is willing to take things slow. Just because it’s slow, don’t think it isn’t delectable!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.03 Kindle Price. After Glows Publishing. 200 Pages.

 

As the Liquor Flows by Angela Christina Archer

Who knew that being in the wrong place so many different times could lead Evelyn to the love of her life?

What’s it About? 

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Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed, and the day Evelyn Ford will never forget. With the untimely death of her parents and the loss of their only income, Evelyn, and her brother, Frank flee to a make-shift hovel built in Central Park. After Frank mysteriously goes missing, bare cupboards force Evelyn to seek employment anywhere she can find work, even if that means working at a burlesque theater.

Catching the attention of Don Vincent Giovanni, a Kingpin in the New York mafia, Evelyn discovers that Frank is serving time in prison for running hooch and he owes Vincent a lot of money. In order to pay off her brother’s debt, Evelyn is thrown into the world of mobsters and bootlegging. Between running hooch all over the city of New York and trying to save her brother, Evelyn finds herself drawn to Max Catalano, Vincent’s Consigliere. Even with secrets of his own, he’s the only one she can trust when she entangles herself in the middle of the New York mafia crime wars.

First Impressions

This book was a tough one for me to put down! I mean, seriously it has everything you could possibly ask for in a romance set during the early 30s. We’ve got the ramifications and desperation of the Great Depression, prohibition, running hooch, mob bosses, burlesque theaters, and hell we even get an Al Capone mention thrown in there! And in the midst of all this chaos is Evelyn, a young woman who is just trying to survive, and save her brother at the same time. Slightly naive at times, she nevertheless learns that in order to survive in this world she must play along and go with the flow of the liquor, or risk consequences of angering the mob boss who has taken a shine to her.

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She’s not alone though in this crazy world of bootlegging, as the right-hand man of the mob kingpin, Max Catalano, has vowed to protect her at all costs. The simmering attraction between these two is electrifying, but it can never be brought to light or else risk the anger and retribution of the man in charge. As their paths continue to intertwine however, and the dangers of this world close in on our lead characters, we start to question if not only will they ever get to declare their love for each other, but if they’ll make it out in one piece. Do you see why it was so hard for me to put this book down?

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Shaken Not Stirred

I think what truly draws you in from the first page is the sheer desperation of our heroine. The author successfully paints such a sad and desolate picture which encapsulates the tragedy and hopelessness of the Great Depression. Evelyn is running out of options in life, and although she has the air of a proper lady, she’s at her wits end, and decides to audition for a job in a burlesque theater. Just as she thinks her chances are completely lost of getting a job, in walks Vincent Giovanni, the kingpin of New York. At first I almost wondered if we’d see a developing love story between Evelyn and Vincent, but it’s not long before we discover the true relationship lay between Evelyn and Max. And lemme tell you, I was allllll for it.

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Their immediate connection was entirely believable, and the fact they can’t really act on their feelings for each other makes this read all the more intriguing. To do so could put both of their lives in danger, not to mention Evelyn’s brother, Frank, who we discover owes a massive debt to Vincent. And this draws together the idea of being in the wrong place so many times over. By auditioning for a burlesque show Evelyn encounters Vincent, and when it’s revealed her brother owes him money she offers to bootleg on his behalf to help work off his debt. This pulls good girl Evelyn even further into this dark web from which there seems no escape. When a turf war begins between Vincent and a rival family, the stakes are raised even higher.

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An Extra Shot or Two Required

Now I’ve always been a huge fan of this era of history and storytelling. I mean, Boardwalk Empire was my freakin’ jam! And while overall I really did enjoy Evelyn and Max’s story, there were a few areas where I wanted more, and they all actually revolved around the character of Mr. Vincent Giovanni. First of all, I found it remarkably unbelievable that he never tried to sexually take advantage of Evelyn. Don’t get me wrong, that would have been utterly devastating, but considering his character as a mob kingpin and how the story develops, it shocked me that sex was never really a major point he pushed with her.

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When they meet in the club, he is immediately drawn to her, and it’s not long before he’s taking her back to his home to live with him, and throwing thousands of dollars of jewelry and clothing at her. And yet, the subject of sex isn’t even suggested at this point. It’s only when Evelyn offers to take on the role her brother had in Vincent’s employ of running hooch does Vincent broach the topic saying that should she fail, he’ll demand payment from her in physical ways. But even then he makes it sound like more of a nuisance than anything, and I never got the sense it was something he was really looking forward to with her. And again, the fact he never really tries anything with her before that time just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me considering the lengths he was going to to seemingly set her up as his mistress.

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And lastly, I’d have to say I simply wanted more of a focus on Vincent as a character. The majority of the novel is spent developing this relationship between Max and Evelyn, and while it was undoubtedly extremely compelling you can’t help but admit that Vincent is an intriguing villain in his own right. There’s a suggested ensuing battle between Vincent and a rival mob family which is never fully explored, and is seemingly dropped from the story line. In addition, at the end of the novel we get a hint that Vincent is more of a puppet master pulling the strings of our characters than we ever realized, and I so would have liked perhaps just one more chapter which provided us a glimpse into his mad psyche. What can I say? Whenever I encounter an enthralling villain I simply want more!!

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

Series: I doubt this is a series, but if we could get some kind of short story about Evelyn’s brother, Frank, I’d be first in line.

Should you read it? This story pulled me in and wouldn’t let go. We have a major plot twist later on in the novel that even I didn’t see coming (a rarity indeed), and it made me love it all the more. The whole thing comes together for one exciting climactic conclusion with guns blazing! I will say at times I think parts of the story could have been more fully fleshed out, and there were certain points that crossed the line of convenience over reality, but all in all a fun historical read.

Smut Level: So many longing looks, brushed hands, and captured elbows. Eventually we get a love scene, but the details aren’t excessively raunchy in any way. Pretty clean read altogether.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Long Valley Press. 272 Pages.

 

 

Beta by Jasinda Wilder

Book 1 in this series featured a budding relationship between an alpha male and a reserved female exploring non-vanilla sex for the first time. This second book completely switches gears into something like a Jason Bourne movie. Such a stark and jarring contrast!

What’s it About? 

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Roth and I are on an open-ended tour of the world. Roth being Roth, this means missionary in Morocco, reverse cowgirl in Calcutta, bent over the bow of a houseboat in Hanoi, slow and sleepy on St. John. Anywhere and everywhere, in every conceivable position, and some I didn’t know were possible. Life was pretty incredible. Until I woke up in his chateau in France, alone. On the bed next to me was a note. There were only four words: He belongs to me. ***This book contains sexual scenes and situations that may make some readers uncomfortable.***

First Impressions

Now, full disclosure here people, normally when I include the synopses of books I feature on this here blog of mine, I tend to cut out the little disclaimer that is often found at the bottom which basically says “Warning: Sex Ahead”. Let’s face it people, we all know that sex is mostly likely involved in every novel I choose to review. Heck, sometimes I’ll complain if there’s a lack of it. However, I usually always leave the disclaimer in if rape is involved, and when it came to this novel I just couldn’t remove it. There are a lot of scenes of male rape and torture that seemingly go on forever. From water boarding to a Viagra pill from hell, consider yourself warned that this novel is uncomfortably graphic. Additionally, I think that the characters almost try to minimize the trauma of this extended rape scenario seeing as we are dealing with a male victim who was being abused by a female.

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If You Have an Erection Lasting Longer than Four Hours…

This second novel initially starts off with a lot of boozing and f*cking. At the end of the first chapter though we discover that not all is right in paradise, as Roth has been abducted by an unknown kidnapper. As Kyrie explores their French villa in search of him she reminisces on all of the different places throughout the house that they’ve had sex, and in all of the different ways. Come on now woman, focus!! There are more important things for you to focus your attention on right now.

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We eventually discover that Roth’s ex-girlfriend, Gina, from 10 years ago is behind the kidnapping, and she wants to use his body sexually before killing him. Ummm, I’m sorry but what’s the motivation here? Why did she wait so long before eventually going after him? Why now? Surely there are easier ways to get good sex than having to drug, kidnap, rape and abuse your ex? We come to learn that even back in the day when they were a couple Gina used to abuse Roth sexually, and use sex as a weapon to get him to do her bidding. After getting her hands on him yet again she proceeds to tie him down, and drug him with what is basically an advanced version of Viagra that turns Roth into a sex-crazed maniac. The scenes that follow are utterly disturbing in how graphic they are.

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Kyrie to the Rescue! And then Roth! With Harris Tagging Along!

Rather than getting the police involved, Kyrie and Roth’s butler/chauffeur, Harris, decide to infiltrate Gina’s fortress to rescue Roth on their own. I have to say, it was ridiculous how useless Gina’s henchmen were. We basically have the equivalent of Star Wars storm troopers with absolutely zero aim. Not only are Kyrie and Harris successful in breaking into the fortress and retrieving Roth, but when Gina eventually kidnaps Kyrie as revenge she is also rescued rather easily due to the sub-par guarding skills of these hired guns. Seriously, someone needs to invest in a security system update.

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Facing Your Fears

One of my main issues with this novel was what happened when Roth was first rescued. He is understandably extremely hesitant to engage in any sexual activity with Kyrie. The guy was literally just sexually tortured and raped for days on end after ingesting what can best be described as the Energizer Bunny’s nightmare version of Viagra. He’s simply not ready to do anything physical with Kyrie. However, it’s decided pretty quickly that the only way he could possibly get over this trauma is to just face his fears and start screwing like a wild animal.

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I’m sorry, but I just can’t get on board with this. Kyrie and Roth barely talk at all about what he just went through at the hands of Gina, and don’t seek out any external help either. If ever there was a need for a therapy session or two, now would be a good time! Roth has barely had any time to recover (we’re talking like a day or two here), and now he’s being pressured into having sex when he openly admits it’s not the right time. It doesn’t seem like the best way to get over an emotional sexual trauma, and I feel like it also demonstrates how their relationship is purely sexual if that’s their way only to connect after a kidnapping. And oh yeah, Gina is still after them!! Maybe they should take a break from their continual orgasm-fest to form a plan on how they’re going to permanently escape from this crazy psycho who’s chasing them.

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Final Considerations

There were two other aspects to this novel that weren’t my cup of tea. Firstly, the narration. I listened to this as an audiobook, and I’m sorry to sound harsh or inconsiderate, but the narration was laughable. Neither the male or female narrator could voice the passion of the sexy scenes. Seeing as this book has a ridiculous amount of sex scenes and dirty talk, it was kind of a problem when both sounded like robots reading from the phone book. The accents between the characters were also totally off. The male narrator makes Gina sound Greek, whereas the female reader made her sound slightly British. It was the little details like that which interrupted the flow of the novel.

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Another aspect of this novel I didn’t particularly care for was the financial one. Roth has a seemingly endless amount of money. Even when he and Kyrie are on the run at the end of the novel to escape the wrath of Gina’s father, he still seems to have pretty easy access to all of his bank accounts. Roth even buys a super yacht for them to sail away on. I’m sorry, but it just seemed almost too easy, not to mention a terrible way to cover your tracks. I think if Mr. Billionaire Valentine Roth suddenly found himself on the run with a lack of money it would have added another layer of suspense to the tale.

Series: Alpha, book 2. Honestly, not really looking forward to the third book in this trilogy, but I’m sure I’ll get around to finishing it at some point.

Should you read it? I was already kind of on the fence with book 1, and this second book just rubbed me the wrong way in so many different places. I couldn’t help but feel that the issue of rape was resolved almost too quickly with very little time for Roth to heal. Again, it sort of came across as though because he’s an alpha male he should just push past it and jump into the deep end. There was definitely a disconnect between these first two books, as this sequel feels like an action movie with a crap ton of sex thrown in. As for the motivation of our villain Gina, we never really discover why after ten years of ignoring Roth she suddenly had the desire to go to the ultimate extreme by capturing and raping him.

Smut Level: Roth and Kyrie certainly don’t need a magical Viagra drug to screw at all hours of the day and night.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 406 Pages.

Falling for the Enemy by Samanthe Beck

The author of this novel manages to make a gas station bathroom seem like one of the steamiest and most sensual of places to have sex. I don’t care what you say, that’s talent right there.

What’s it About?

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Salon owner Virginia Boca has declared herself celibate…at least until she wins the election for mayor of Bluelick, Kentucky. No hot men. No sex. And her plan to play the good girl might have worked—if the mysterious, hard-bodied stranger she’s seen around town hadn’t pulled her from the street and saved her life. The least Ginny can do is offer her savior a free haircut. But when an innocent haircut turns into hours of wickedly hot sex, former Navy SEAL Shaun Buchanan knows his plan to keep a low profile is shot. Especially once Ginny finds out he’s the current mayor’s son. With her reputation and the election on the line, Ginny seems determined to keep their nightly sexcapades a secret, but Shaun’s not willing to stay in the shadows forever…

First Impressions

These two can’t keep their hands off each other!!! Their undeniable desire is most evident in the rather unique locales they find themselves in for sex. Basically, they don’t have the patience to wait for a bedroom. In addition to the gas station mentioned above, they also explore pretty much every available work surface in her hair salon, and go skinny dipping in a pond where anyone could walk by. The fact that they must keep their relationship a secret as Ginny is running for mayor, and Shaun is the son of her opponent, simply adds an extra sense of urgency and the forbidden to their coupling.

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Beyond the Physical

In addition to their obvious physical attraction for one another, as well as Shaun’s proclivity to tie Ginny up during sex, they are also able to open up on an emotional level. That being said, they mainly reveal some important aspects about their pasts during just one deep conversation on her couch. I think perhaps one more scene of them connecting through talking in place of another unique sex locale could have really added to the overall story line. Although, damn that’s really a tough choice right there. Ok, maybe don’t take away a sex location, but a few more scenes of emotional connection would have been good.

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Series: Private Pleasures, book 3.

Should you read it? Personally, I loved the secrecy behind their relationship, as well as the added drama of the mayoral debate. Ginny is definitely a sharp leading lady who can hold her own in any argument. Nothing like a little political scandal in the small town of Bluelick!!

Smut Level: These two really like to go at it on sinks. Think of the talent involved! Not only can he bend her into pretty much any position due to her flexibility, but she has the balance necessary to refrain from falling into the sink from such a precarious position.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Brazen. 220 Pages

Light Her Fire by Samanthe Beck

Holy hot fire chief!! He has a dirty little mouth to go along with his dirty imagination. And little Ms. Bluelick who is really happy to be the focus of his attentions.

What’s it About? 

Good girl Melody Merritt is ready to be bad. Fresh out of an unsatisfying ten-year engagement to the town golden boy, she’s determined to make up for lost time. And who better to burn her sterling reputation to the ground than Bluelick’s sinfully sexy new fire chief whose wicked gaze promises complete and utter domination? Yes, please. Corrupting the prim and proper Little Miss Bluelick is the most action Josh Bradley’s seen since he transferred from Cincinnati to fast-track his career. He won’t let anything or anyone—not even the delectable Melody Merritt—trap him in this Kentucky-fried Mayberry, but when their searing chemistry yields an unexpected result, he realizes he’s started a blaze that’s completely beyond his control…

First Impressions

Josh is looking for some action. He’s practically desperate for it. The town of Bluelick initially attracted him because he finally had the opportunity to become Chief of a fire department. He just didn’t realize that moving to such a small town would result in boring days with very little excitement. Basically, Josh has his dream job title, but without the perks of putting out blazes on a regular basis. Then you have Melody. She’s looking for some action herself after her 10 year long engagement just came to an end. We’ve got two beautiful people in a small town, out on the prowl with very little to do. Oh, how will they pass the time I wonder?

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Let’s Get Creative

Melody is known as the good girl in town. She is Little Ms. Bluelick after all. And yes, that’s an official title. However, she is fully intent on throwing that good girl image out the window. These two might take a while to have actual intercourse, but they do pretty much everything else in between as Melody seeks to dirty things up. To top it all off, they get sexy in some rather interesting locations. From her office exam table to her front porch, the kitchen counter to the front seat of his truck. No matter the location one thing is guaranteed: Josh likes to throw her legs over his shoulders for maximum efficiency. Boom baby!!

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Series: Private Pleasures, book 2. I’ll keep going with this series. They’re fun and sexy reads.

Should you read it? In addition to all the sexy times there is some drama thrown in on multiple fronts. We’ve got arson, a broken condom, Josh’s conviction to move to another town with more opportunity, and Melody’s insistence on keeping their relationship casual. Although everything does come together rather nicely in the end, I wasn’t thrilled with how it did. I couldn’t help but question if he was really ready to spend the rest of his life with Melody, or if he merely saw her as a means to an end. Overall though? Cute as hell.

Smut Level: When it comes to all the sex scenes, dirty talk and spankings, you are bound to burst into flames. Or at least…some of your undergarments will.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Brazen. 266 Pages.

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Rush too Far by Abbi Glines

I travel a LOT for work, and I meet a multitude of different people all over the world. However, I must say that in all of my travels I have never encountered a man or woman named “Rush”. Am I alone in this?! Is it more common than I think? This book is set in the South, so maybe it’s a Southern thing?

What’s it About?

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Fallen Too Far was Blaire’s story. Now it’s time for Rush to share his side. Everyone in Rosemary Beach thinks they know how Rush Finlay and Blaire Wynn fell in love. But Rush is back to tell his side of the story…Rush has earned every bit of his bad-boy reputation. The three-story beach house, luxury car, and line of girls begging for time between his sheets are the envy of every guy in Rosemary Beach, and Rush handles it all with the laid-back cool of a rock star’s son. All he needs are his best friend, Grant, and his sister, Nan.

Until Blaire Wynn drives into town in her beat-up pickup truck with a pistol under her seat. The Alabama farm girl instantly captures Rush’s attention once he discovers that the angelic beauty is his new stepsister, but he vows to keep his distance. Even if she needs his help. Even if he craves her. Because Rush knows why Blaire is all alone in the world, forced to ask for help from the father who abandoned her three years ago. And he knows if he gets too close it will destroy Nan, who has a secret connection to Blaire. He has every reason in the world to stay away from her. Find out why he doesn’t.

First Impressions

As you all know by this point, I’m not a huge fan of a novel which comes later on in a series that simply retells an earlier novel from the man’s point of view. It’s usually extremely repetitive, and we don’t necessarily learn a whole lot of new information. I’m sure you’re wondering why the hell I keep bothering with them. I can’t help it! I have an obsessive need to read every single novel in a series, assuming I like the series of course. Otherwise my Goodreads list will mock me by having every other novel labeled as “read”, and the one male POV book with nothing! Ohhh, the mockery!! Man…I’m a total weirdo.

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Not Too Bad

So even though these male point of view stories aren’t usually my favorite, I actually didn’t mind this one so much. I think the primary reason was because it’s been years since I read the first three novels in this series, so the details of the story weren’t as fresh in my mind. If anything, it was kind of nice to get an abbreviated version of events from a slightly different perspective. I will say though, as the story progressed I did start remembering how the plot comes together. Therefore, if you were to tackle this closely behind the others I could see it being quite repetitive.

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Too Many Secrets

As for seeing things play out from Rush’s point of view, it was interesting to see how much he truly cared for Blaire, and how protective/possessive he was of her. One thing I really didn’t care for though was that he was keeping this huge secret from her which linked their pasts together. Rush feels that as long as he can make Blaire fall in love with him, she’ll simply have to forgive him for his past transgressions. It just seemed kind of deceptive to me, like he was trying to trap her into loving him.

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Series: Rosemary Beach, Book 4.

Should you read it? It ends the same way as book one, meaning on an incredible low note. Not a must read, but overall a good one. If you choose to skip it you really don’t miss out on anything for future books in the series.

Smut Level: Oh Rush, what a dirty little mouth you have.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $7.99 Kindle Price. Atria Books. 256 Pages.

 

Talking Dirty with the Boss by Jackie Ashenden

Oh the irony that Mr. OCD hunky man Luke, who always needs to make sure that everything is in order, would have an expired condom in his wallet. Tsk tsk.

What’s it About?

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Marisa Clair wants to get her artist dreams back on track after a life detour. That means no partying, no shopping…and definitely no men to distract her. Should be easy, but there’s something about her hot and exceedingly uptight boss and she can’t seem to stop herself from ruffling Mr. Tall, Dark and Irritating.

Financial consultant Luke McNamara lives his life strictly by schedule – his OCD simply won’t allow him to do anything else. And the very last thing he needs is a sassy blonde putting lipstick on his collar and messing with his routine. She annoys the hell out of him so why can’t he stop thinking about the color of her panties…and how free he feels when he’s with her?

Marisa and Luke’s plans to steer clear of one another are shot to hell after a hot office encounter. Now the two of them will have to learn to get along as they face a much more permanent reminder of their lack of self-control – a pregnancy.

First Impressions

What we have here is basically Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, but with a six pack smokin’ hot body. The sexual chemistry between Marisa and Luke has been building for the last two novels, and it finally reaches its peak in this final book. Actually, they both do! In an office storage supply closet! And oh my, well hello unexpected pregnancy.

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Going, Going, Going…Ugh

I would say that for about 90% of this book it was shaping up to be my favorite in the entire series. The underlying story of Luke’s OCD was amazingly well-written to a point where we as the audience can feel his anxiety building. However, the whole story leads up to one final big reveal that unfortunately kind of ruined everything that this book could have been for me.

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Luke has managed to keep the true intensity of his OCD under wraps from Marisa, but when he finally reveals how severe it is he pretty much tells her to leave him behind, even though their relationship has been building throughout the book. And what does she do? She leaves! Come on girl, fight for him just a little bit. I was really hoping that Marisa would stand by him, but instead Luke is the one who has to come back for her. Definitely a let down that when it came time for Marisa to show her true colors she ran from him.

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Series: Talking Dirty, book 3. Pretty sure this is the last one!

Should you read it? Overall, I did enjoy this one, even though the end was pretty frustrating. Also, Marisa’s pregnancy is sort of brushed aside to the point where we kind of forget that she’s even with child. I wish we could have focused a bit more attention on the fact she was pregnant. Maybe they could have gone to some doctor’s appointments together?

Smut Level: These two are unable to fight their attraction. Luke breaks all his self-imposed rules for her, and they even have sex on the bonnet/hood of his car. Definitely leaves more than a few fingerprints!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Indulgence. 195 Pages.

Feral Sins by Suzanne Wright

A sassy alpha female wolf with lots of spunk? Check. A dirty talking alpha male with possessive tendencies? Check. A final wolf battle between bitter enemies? Check. You’ve got all the makings of a great paranormal romance read with this one!

What’s it About?

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When female wolf shifter Taryn Warner first encounters Trey Coleman, an alpha male wolf shifter with a dangerous reputation, she’s determined to resist his charms. After all, Trey—who was only fourteen when he defeated his own father in a duel, winning the right to be alpha of his pack—can’t have anything to offer the talented healer besides trouble, or so she thinks. Taryn finds herself drawn in by Trey’s forceful demeanor and arctic-blue eyes, and she eventually agrees to enter an uneasy alliance with him. If the two succeed in convincing their respective packs that they’ve chosen each other as mates, Trey will win valuable political allies, while Taryn will escape an odious arranged mating.

But there are a lot of potential pitfalls to this plan—including the very real possibility that the wolf shifters, overwhelmed by their growing attraction to each other, will be unable to maintain the clear heads needed to pull off the deception.

First Impressions

I’m not a huge fan of paranormal romances, especially those involving wolves, but I gotta say even I enjoyed this one. It carries the unique aspect in the fact that Taryn is latent, meaning she is unable to shift into her wolf form. This results in her pack, and even her own father, treating her like crap. When her dad tries to marry her off to a sadistic creep for the benefit of a powerful alliance, Taryn’s decided she’s had enough, and that she must abandon her pack. Enter the sexy alpha, Trey, with an offer to mate to fix both their problems for the time being. Although their mating initially seems convenient, it’s quite difficult for them to accept internally, as both of their true mates died when they were younger.

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Taryn especially doesn’t want to offend the memory of her deceased mate and childhood friend by entering into a false mating with a wolf known to go feral. However, as they spend more time together, especially in the bedroom, they start to realize that they have a deeper connection than either expected. An intriguing start to the novel which culminates in a powerful ending involving an unexpected traitor in Trey’s own pack, and a final battle between wolves. Unfortunately, I will say the middle part of the novel was somewhat disappointing, as the final conflict is barely mentioned at all. Instead, the main focus is Taryn’s integration into Trey’s pack as alpha female.

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Alpha Female Indeed

Hands down I must say my favorite feature of this novel was Taryn. Such a refreshing character with enough sass and sarcasm to hold her own in any situation. The sarcasm in particular was something I thoroughly enjoyed, as it was just the perfect amount to provide some comedic relief in stressful situations, yet not too much where you can feel like the character can’t take anything seriously. Sort of reminded me of myself I guess!

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I also loved how strong Taryn’s character was. True, she initially relies on Trey to help her out of a bind, but after that she can really stand up for herself. From verbal sparring matches with Trey’s grandma, to refusing to act all jealous and intimidated by one of Trey’s former flings. Taryn doesn’t let the negative opinions surrounding her latency bring her down when trying to prove her worth and status in this new pack. Quite admirable!

Sexy Yet Uncomfortable

Another rather interesting feature of this novel revolved around Taryn and Trey’s sexual relationship. No question, off the charts sexy, with plenty of dirty talk to make even the most seasoned romance novel enthusiast blush. However, I must say at times I thought it was kind of…uncomfortable. Taryn is an alpha female, and Trey is an alpha male, meaning that their inner wolves were constantly battling for dominance in the bedroom. As for who came out on top? Well, it was always Trey.

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At one point he tries to explain it away by saying that just because she submits to him it doesn’t mean she has to be submissive. Ok, I kind of get it, but at the same time when their sexual relationship first started there was a lot of Taryn struggling, saying “no” during sex, and fighting against him. Although we are told that technically it’s just her wolf fighting him, it was still kind of disturbing to read at times. I mean, if you were to approach it without the paranormal element involved, you’d be concerned for this woman’s safety. Just goes to show how context can have such an impact on how we view their physical relationship in the beginning!

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Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 1. I’ll be continuing with this series.

Should you read it? I feel like this novel could have been condensed a bit more, specifically in the middle when not much was going on, and there was practically no mention of the upcoming battle with Trey’s uncle. Still a unique and exciting paranormal read with a female lead I really enjoyed.

Smut Level: We’ve got enough dirty talk and explicit sexual detail to fill a whole book. Although, I was slightly confused due to the menage warning on Goodreads, and unless I totally dazed out, or had a different version of the novel, there was no menage. Therefore, I guess I was expecting more! Trey is still downright filthy though, especially when Taryn offers herself over to him to do with as he pleases for his birthday. Quite the present!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 428 Pages

Beautiful by Christina Lauren

Going on a wine tour road trip with good friends, and a hottie tottie to roll around in the sheets with all night long? Yeah, um, where exactly do I sign up for one of those?

What’s it About?

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After walking in on her boyfriend shagging another girl in their place, Pippa Bay Cox ditches London for the States to go on a drunken road trip with Ruby Miller and some of her Beautiful friends.

Scaling the career ladder is the default way to deal with heartbreak—and to just deal—for Jensen Bergstrom. Absolutely buried by his drive and workload, he rarely takes time for himself. But when his sister Hanna convinces him to join the gang on a two-week wine tour, he has a rare moment of cutting loose. Of course, it’s only once he’s committed that he realizes the strange girl he met briefly on the plane is coming along, too. She might be too much for him…or he might realize his life has become too small and needs her to make it bigger, crazier.

With this circle of friends there’s always something going on: from Chloe and Sara’s unexpected personality swaps to Will’s new domestic side to Bennett’s text message barrage and George’s own happily-ever-after. In short, their adventures in love, friendship, and hilarity are nothing short of Beautiful.

First Impressions

At first, the idea of playing fifth wheel to a bunch of couples going on a romantic wine tour seems like it would kind of suck. Especially considering there’s only one other single person going along, and our main female lead sort of made a huge fool of herself in front of him on an eight hour plane ride across the ocean by getting drunk and lamenting over a recent breakup. However, Jensen is a handsome muscled man in desperate need of a vacation, and Pippa is more than willing to help him relax. During the day anyway. At night? They engage in some intense workout sessions.

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Opposites Attract

Pippa and Jensen are total opposites. She’s colorful, carefree and not afraid to speak her mind. Jensen is a straight-laced, button-up workaholic, and he really needs someone like Pippa to help him open up. We’re all familiar with the phrase “opposites attract”, and in this novel it’s definitely true in the physical sense. And although Pippa helps Jensen relax during their two week road trip, I’m not sure that was long enough for Jensen to have a real impact on Pippa. In addition, Jensen sort of reverts to his old ways once the trip is over. I’d like to think they’ll be forever, but in the same vein their time together was so short, and they were both sort of acting as rebounds for the other. Sure, it’s fiction, but I can’t say I’m totally convinced it would last.

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Friends, Old and New

I must say I absolutely loved Pippa’s live and let live attitude. Jealous of it really! The bravery to make a fool of yourself in front of others, sing terrible karaoke at the top of one’s lungs, yet still be able to brush it off and move on? Inspirational! You can tell Jensen has trouble at first dealing with someone like her, but after a while it comes to be something he loves most about her.

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Although I can’t say this couple was my favorite ever in the Beautiful Bastard series, I can’t begin to describe my utter delight at the fact that we get to see all of the couples from the previous novels come together for this final book. Add in the beauty that each one gets their own happily ever after epilogue, including George, and I’m practically bouncing with glee. That being said, considering this is also the last novel in the Beautiful series, and I’m on the verge of tears here! I might just have to start re-reading this series from the start!

Series: Beautiful Bastard, book 5.

Should you read it? An unbelievably sexy series. Not my fav book in the series, or my fav couple for that matter, but it’s a good read overall. It’s about taking chances, doing things outside your comfort zone, yet still remaining true to who you are.

Smut Level: Considering all that this series is, I was kind of hoping for more in terms of smut. I sort of feel like Jensen has a secret naughty side to him, but unfortunately we don’t really get to see it all come out to play.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $7.99 Kindle Price. Gallery Books. 416 Pages.

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