Until Harmony by Aurora Rose Reynolds

This series is all about that BOOM, and this installment just goes to show that if you try to push the BOOM aside, it will come back full force for the ultimate impact. 

What’s it About? 

Harmony Mayson isn’t the kind of girl to take unnecessary risk, but after meeting Harlen MacCabe, she starts to wonder if maybe she should be. The more time she spends with the wild and free biker, the more she starts to crave the freedom he gives her…. And even more, she starts to crave him. 

Harlen lives his life on his own terms. After losing both his parents at an early age to a robbery gone bad, he knows how precious life is, and he’s determined to get as much out of it as he can. When he runs into the beautiful Harmony and finds out she’s moving to town, he knows it’s time to take his shot. 

She thinks he only wants to be friends, but she couldn’t be more wrong. What Harmony and Harlen don’t know is that their time might be cut short. Revenge is in the air, and someone won’t stop until a debt is settled.

First Impressions

For avid readers of the entire Until series, if you’ve made it this far to the sixth book of Until Her/Until Him, believe me when I say you’re going to love it just as much as all the others which have come before. And if you haven’t read any of these books before…then what the heck is wrong with you?! Get on it already. This book presents us with everything we know and love about the series: a sexy and growl-y alpha male, a strong and tenacious female, lovable side characters (both new and beloved old friends), and of course, the BOOM that brings our two love birds together. What I loved so much about this installment was that Harmony and Harlen sort of try to suppress the immediate connection which has brought them together in the first place. 

Our novel opens with a chance meeting in a hospital parking lot after Harmony secures a job as a nurse there, and while Harlen would like nothing more than to throw her on the back of his bike to go celebrate, they both recognize the hesitation that Harmony feels about throwing all caution to the wind. After all, she’s no risk taker, so the idea of giving into her feelings for this seemingly bad-boy biker causes her to pause, an action that Harlen can see clear as day. While she declines his invitation for a joy ride, no matter how much she might want to say yes, this isn’t the end for our main characters. Harlen respects the boundaries of this initial rejection, but he refuses to let this be the end of their story. Throughout the next few chapters we see Harlen slowly try to reignite a connection with Harmony, but he’s almost too slow for his own good as it results in Harmony thinking he just wants to be friends. The more time they spend together as “buddies”, the more our risk-averse heroine contemplates the ultimate risk of laying all of her feelings out on the table. And once she does? Well, there’s no going back after that BOOM. 

The Happily Ever After

I was personally delighted by the subsequent romance which played out between our two lead characters, especially when we consider that Harmony was sort of the one to initiate it by finally acting on her desires for Harlen with a passionate kiss. Sure, she immediately tries to avoid him afterwards from embarrassment at the thought that maybe he didn’t want to be anything more than friends, but he’s more than willing to come after her to prove otherwise. I guess in a way it was a mutual overtaking of desire. The rest of their story is relatively drama free and even-paced as they easily fall into a relationship with each other. Harmony is willing to stand up to her overprotective father, Nico, to convince him that Harlen is the man of her dreams, just as Harlen won’t back down to convince Nico he’ll do anything to protect his beloved daughter. Harlen does indeed epitomize the characteristics of an alpha male, but I also appreciated that Harmony wasn’t afraid to poke the bear every once in a while. 

He demands a kiss before she leaves for work, or else he’ll have fun punishing her later? Well, she cheekily saunters out the door sans kiss to see just what he has in mind, and my goodness does she enjoy her “punishment”. Nothing like being held up against the wall for some sexy fun times, and yet in their post-passion haze we see Harlen put down his alpha wall to openly acknowledge how he does need that kiss from her every morning to make it through his day until he can see her again. And that’s one of the aspects I love about this series. Our alpha males clearly have a sensitive side to them, and we never doubt that the love they feel for their ladies goes deeper than merely a sexual component. There’s heart beneath it all. 

Series: Until Her/Until Him, book 6. It was so much fun diving back into this world. We get a brief introduction towards the end of this read of who the main characters will be for book 7, and I am more than ready to get started!

Final Impressions: This is the perfect kind of beach read. Funny, sexy, heartfelt, with just a smidge of drama to keep things interesting. The primary focus of the read truly is on the evolving relationship between Harlen and Harmony from their BOOM to friends to lovers, but delicately interwoven throughout the novel is an underlying sense of conflict involving a handsy doctor at Harmony’s work. The author does a fantastic job of simultaneously keeping this drama primarily reserved for the background, yet also slowly elevating it throughout the progression of the novel before it ultimately breaks through for a final, suspenseful climax. Be sure to add this one to your TBR pile. 

Smut Level: Harmony might express a bit of timidity when Harlen first expresses an interest in her, but once they finally end up in each other’s arms all sense of hesitancy is thrown right out of the bedroom. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 239 Pages.

One Shingle to Hang by Deann Smallwood

When Lil looked to the future, all she ever saw was the law. She’s defied family expectations, not to mention societal norms, to open her own law practice. Marriage never seemed to be on the table. But all of that changes when one rugged cowboy with a threat against his life walks in seeking her help. 

What’s it About? 

A woman with too much knowledge was at risk for insanity. Her fragile mind couldn’t handle it. That’s what Lil had been told when she went against convention and became an attorney. The 1800’s had fewer women lawyers than women doctors. Her pride knew no bounds when she hung her shingle—L.M. Wentfield, Attorney At Law.

Drew was a struggling cattle rancher, building a fledgling Hereford empire. He was working toward that goal when he was accused of rustling and faced possible hanging. He needed a lawyer—a good one—a man. Chesterfield had one lawyer—a new one—L.M. Wentfield. He wasn’t prepared for a beautiful blonde with a sharp tongue and fiercely won independence.

Lil had no homemaking abilities. Her love was the law. And if the thoughts of the gray-eyed cowboy, who had the audacity to refuse her legal help, stayed in her mind, she’d push them aside. She had nothing to offer a rancher . Even her wealth wouldn’t be considered an asset to a prideful man. And Drew Jackson was proud. So proud, he knew he couldn’t ask a woman of Lil’s stature to share his life—but he wanted to—from the moment he’d stolen that first kiss.

First Impressions

This is a cute, light-hearted read whose synopsis was unfortunately more enticing than the story itself. I’m always excited to pick up a historical romance that will regal us with a strong female character who is “ahead of her time”. While Lil was certainly a headstrong and quick-witted female lead, I was rather disappointed we didn’t get to see her engage more with the law. After moving to this small mountain town with the goal of opening her own law practice, the most lawyer-ly activity we see her pursue is writing up an ironclad will for her first ever client who deigned to giver her a chance. When it comes to helping Drew, the dashing cattle rancher in need of legal help, Lil almost transforms more into an intelligent private detective than a lawyer.

She even goes so far as to set up a sting operation with the local sheriff to catch Drew’s accuser in a lie. An entertaining scene to be sure, but I was holding out hope for a dramatic courtroom argument where Lil could truly showcase her law prowess. The fact we are never privy to one scene in court throughout the entirety of the novel was the peak of disappointment, not to mention that Drew’s drama is resolved quite early on in the novel. Even though an act of revenge from Drew’s nemesis is hinted at in the beginning, it’s a threat which never comes to fruition. Instead the focus of the novel switches to the budding romance between Drew and Lil, which was certainly an adorable relationship you proceed to root for, but the flow of the story probably could have benefited from bringing the conflict involving Drew’s land and cattle business back full circle. As things stood, that particular story line was left feeling unfinished. 

The High Point

While the story didn’t quite live up to the hype of the synopsis, one area where this novel truly excelled was in the characters. This is a world you want to live in, or at least have the opportunity to visit, merely in the hopes of sitting down to a cookout with our outspoken female lawyer, her devilishly handsome and selfless rancher, the candid yet caring housekeeper and her precocious granddaughter, just to name a few. Even our villains were characters you loved to hate, from the nefarious cowboy who has his sights set on Drew’s ranch, to Lil’s conservative parents who threaten to stand in the way of everything she’s built for herself. I can’t remember the last time I was so inclined to don a pair of gloves, merely so I could rip them off to haughtily slap a fictional character’s face.

Even though the author should be commended for the creation of such distinct and hypnotizing personalities, it was also a little disappointing to see the introduction of some fascinating characters at the start of the novel, only to have them fade away from the story completely by the midway point. I think this can once again be attributed to the flow of the plot, which was too distinctly segmented into Lil setting up shop, Drew seeking her help with his legal troubles, and then the slow evolution of their romantic relationship after his legal conflict is resolved. This meant that when one segment was settled, there wasn’t an attempt to bring back some of the characters and drama from that section into a later one.

Series: Chesterfield Colorado series, book 1. Though a sweet read, I’m not sure I’ll continue on with this series. 

Final Impressions: Greater cohesion for how this story unfolded, as well as further incorporation of Lil’s law knowledge, really could have made this historical romance a standout read. It seemed like an odd choice to suggest that the source of Drew’s legal drama at the beginning would come back to seek revenge against him and Lil, but then abandon that story line completely. The book as a whole is relatively conflict free, so to bring in Lil’s parents as the final source of drama for the book felt random compared to the possibility of fully resolving the outstanding risk of Drew’s nemesis. Lastly, every great legal story, from Philadelphia to My Cousin Vinny has an exciting courtroom scene of opposing counselors, so never giving Lil the chance to prove herself in court seemed like a wasted opportunity for some delightful entertainment. 

Smut Level: The most sensual moment of this read is when Drew and Lil share a jug of lemonade together in a shaded, hidden meadow. Their clothes stay on the whole time, and the biggest step they take is a brush of lips, but there’s something about that lemonade scene, as they contemplate where each other’s lips have just been that will make you giddy with excitement. Who knew? 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE Kindle book. Soul Mate Publishing, LLC. 213 Pages.  

Tacker by Sawyer Bennett

He never thought there was a way to move beyond the tragedy which changed his life forever, but one woman helps him see what it means to live…and love…again. 

What’s it About?

I am not okay. Fifteen months ago, my life was turned upside down when the plane I was piloting went down. Injured and trapped in the wreckage, I had to watch my fiancée die a painfully slow death, which is something that can really mess with your head. Since that day, I’ve had little desire to do much of anything. Except play hockey, that is. Because that is the one place where the bad memories are banished and I can escape my pain. But off the ice, I’m spiraling out of control. Losing the grip on my life and putting myself and my career in danger. Now, thanks to a string of bad decisions, I’ve been ordered to complete therapy in order to stay on the team.

The problem? Nora Wayne, my beautiful and somewhat unconventional therapist. I can’t buy into the brand of happy clappy crap this woman is feeding me. What could she possibly understand about the type of loss that I’ve suffered? How does she know anything about finding happiness after losing the most important person in your life? Turns out, I’ve got a lot to learn, and she’s just the person I need to break through those walls I’ve erected. I am not okay. But for the first time in a long time, I know that I will be.

First Impressions

Everything in the Arizona Vengeance series has been building to this moment. Tacker. Our troubled captain of the Arizona Vengeance hockey team was first introduced all the way back in book one, and with every new addition to the series he has spiraled further down a rabbit hole of depression. What began as surly solitude slowly escalated to a brawl on the ice, and ultimately a drunken car crash that left Tacker physically broken. We readers were left emotionally broken, and the rest of his team were left questioning if he meant to end it all that day by purposely ramming his car into the concrete wall. In this fifth installment, we finally find out why. We’ve always known he lost his fiancée a mere 15 months before in a horrific small craft plane crash, but this is the first time we are offered a scene by scene breakdown of not only the crash itself, but also the agonizing hours afterwards as Tacker watched the love of his life slowly and painfully fade away from him. And cue the need for tissues. It’s no wonder he’s at the end of his rope, and I have been wracking my brain with each read contemplating what the turning point could possibly be that would lead him back to a road of recovery. His teammates have certainly helped, as we’ve seen an expanding sense of fraternal brotherhood spread throughout our group of heroes thus far in the series. Nevertheless, it hasn’t been enough. As it turns out, it will only take one woman to pull him into the light, and it’s a woman who has seen her own fair share of darkness in the past.  

Sharing Trauma

The emotional connection which develops between our two lead characters after sharing the details of their respective traumatic pasts is the hallmark of this book. It’s a connection that is not initially borne of romance or lust, but simply the acknowledgement that they have both encountered hurt and heartache, and Nora acts as a guiding beacon for Tacker to demonstrate how life can in fact get better. At first, it would seem that Nora and Tacker couldn’t have that much in common. He’s a successful hockey player, she immigrated to the US years before, and is now a therapist who incorporates horses into the treatment of her patients. And yet, they surprisingly both know what it’s like to have everything they hold most dear in the world ripped from their arms. Nora herself is a survivor of war, and had to witness her entire family killed right in front of her, including her beloved sister who was raped before the final death blow was dealt. These moments where Tacker and Nora opened up to each other were the most emotionally heartbreaking scenes of the entire read, and I’ll admit I was tempted to skim through all of the details to avoid the anguish of it all. 

However, it’s the very nature of that torment which allows you to appreciate their stories even more. To compare just a few pages of discomfort against their lifetime of turmoil is, well…practically impossible to compare. This brings us to the other moment of brilliance with this read, which is that Nora and Tacker are seemingly always kept on an equal footing. There’s never a competition over who has more scars, or who shed more tears. Tacker can relate to Nora in the fact that she has also experienced painful loss, and he sees hope in the fact that she has seemingly come out stronger on the other side of that darkness. It’s no wonder a bond developed unlike any other a teammate or other therapist could possibly offer. This connection was the missing piece of the puzzle that was needed for Tacker to get his life back on track. Unfortunately, it is this same bond that also caused a few moments of pause for me in fully loving this fifth book. 

Blurring the Line

Simply put, there was something missing from this book. It’s a bit hard to pinpoint exactly what that element was, but I have a few theories. First and foremost, as previously mentioned, we have been waiting for the breakthrough of Tacker’s story since book one. It couldn’t be helped that expectations would be high, and maybe it was impossible for any final product to live up to those expectations. Don’t get me wrong, this was still a good read, but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. The first half of the novel, which primarily focused on the therapeutic breakthroughs for Tacker, was definitely stronger than the second half. And this brings me to what I think may have been my biggest hang-up with the book: the romance. I personally don’t feel enough attention was lent to clearly distinguish the emotional connection from the romantic one that Tacker was developing towards Nora. As soon as Nora opened up about her traumatic past, Tacker knew she was the only possibly therapist for him. The more time they spent together both within and outside of their therapy sessions, the more Nora could help him heal and move on from the past, which is when Tacker starts to consider a romantic relationship with her. In Romancelandia, we know his growing feelings towards Nora are rooted in love and friendship, but I think it would have been helpful to build in more of that real world conversation which would inevitably occur if a patient wanted to ask their therapist out on a date. Is he truly falling for Nora, the woman? Or is he simply falling for the therapist with whom he’s developed an emotional bond? 

We also never really fully explore Nora’s willingness to date Tacker, especially considering she has no doubt probably developed some kind of bond with multiple patients throughout the years as she’s opened up about her tragic past. Her initial discomfort over the idea of dating a patient is sort of quickly brushed aside when Tacker admits he’s going to start seeing a different therapist so that Nora will no longer have a professional conflict of interest. There isn’t really a full resolution to the idea of potentially seeing a regression in Tacker’s progress by halting his professional sessions with Nora, and he also defaults to seeing a therapist with whom he failed to connect at the start of the novel. In addition, after this transition from therapist/patient to boyfriend/girlfriend, we sort of see a blurring of lines as Tacker and Nora continue to discuss the emotional impact of his blossoming relationship with Nora as it relates to him moving on from his dead fiancée. On the one hand, it can 100% be interpreted as a healthy exchange of feelings and open communication between a new couple, but on the other you can’t help but wonder if Nora is still defaulting to her role as his therapist even if she is no longer technically employed in that role anymore. While it’s easy to brush it off by saying that both of those factors can co-exist, it could have provided some powerful moments of discussion and even friction for Nora and Tacker to explore this new transition of their relationship. 

Series: Arizona Vengeance, book 5. I am going to attack the next installment of this series with an unbridled level of enthusiasm! 

Final Impressions: There were many elements which resulted in this story being a good read, but there were also several which prevented it from being a great one. The first half of the novel is unquestionably the standout feature of the book. It’s a simultaneously grim, yet beautiful exploration of trauma, and how it’s possible to move on from unimaginable loss. While I wasn’t thrilled with every aspect of Tacker and Nora’s romantic relationship, I was pretty ecstatic that nothing threatened to tear them apart after they decided to take their relationship to the next level. Goodness knows these two have experienced enough heartache, so to see them join together to overcome any potential obstacle or bump in the road was rather inspiring. 

Smut Level: Tacker has been on quite the journey to ultimately end up with Nora in his arms, and when he finally does he experiences a moment of hesitation to finally give into the physical desires he’s managed to keep in check for so long. Once Nora tells him it’s ok to let go though? Who knew she would be releasing a sex god?! I mean, you just know that when a couple manages to pop an air mattress in the midst of their lovemaking, yet still successfully manage to step off to the side to finish together without breaking their connection, that you’re in for a good ride. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Big Dog Books, LLC. 348 Pages.

Deceitfully Yours by Bethany Bazile

Jude was just supposed to be another mark, but it doesn’t long before Kylie finds herself breaking the number one rule of con artists: falling in love with her target.

What’s it About?

Jude Baxter knows instantly that he wants Kylie in his bed. What he didn’t realize is that she’s everything he’s been looking for. When lust turns into love, Jude puts everything on the line to make Kylie his.

Kylie Weber manipulates situations to get what she needs from men, but Jude knocks her off her game. Jude is unexpected and exciting. Kylie soon finds herself erotically entangled in Jude chains and rope, but worst of all she’s gotten her heart entangled in this very dynamic man.

Will the secret she keeps from him cost her everything she never knew she needed?

Quick Review

I’ll be the first to admit that BDSM romances typically aren’t my favorite, but nevertheless I like to try them out every once in a while to mix things up. Therefore, I was a bit surprised that this one managed to hold my interest essentially from start to finish, primarily due to the fact that this wasn’t simply another introduction into the world of whips and spanking, though that was still certainly a prominent feature in the sexual relationship between Kylie and Jude. Beneath the sexual layers of our lead couple we’re also presented with an intriguing con of deception. We know pretty much from the start of the novel that Kylie has her sights set on Jude for some kind of ploy, but as the novel evolves we are privy to the dark details behind Kylie’s motivations in that she is merely working at the behest of a criminal who proves to be the penultimate puppet master, constantly pulling the strings of this vulnerable woman to meet his every whim.

While this side plot successfully added a layer of suspense to the overall story, the short length of this novel at just 241 pages resulted in a lack of depth to what could have been a truly engaging story arch. Instead, we can’t help but feel left wanting when it comes to the relationship which develops between our lead characters, as well as the drama involving Kylie’s con and dubious employer. We’re never provided with enough dialogue or attention to become fully invested in what Kylie’s employer was after, the reintroduction of someone from Kylie’s past, or why our couple became so enamored with each other so quickly considering Jude was always suspect of Kylie’s ulterior motives. The entire novel builds to a climactic twist of a reveal, but unfortunately it was one that seemed fairly obvious from the get-go, not to mention the utter disappointment in discovering that Kylie was aware of this twist all along. I won’t spoil it for the rest of you, but let’s just say things would have been significantly more intriguing if Kylie was just as surprised by the big reveal as the rest of us were also supposed to be. In spite of Kylie’s cryptic warnings to Jude that something from her past would threaten their relationship, but to always remember how much she loved him, Jude is quick to throw her to the side when the going gets tough.

Series: This premier book was supposed to be followed by a sequel featuring friends of Kylie and Jude, but I’m not sure if it was ever released.

Final Impressions: Throughout the entire read we know it’s simply a matter of time before Jude discovers that Kylie’s initial pursuit of him was due to nefarious plotting, and that this inevitable reveal would threaten the very foundation of their relationship. We keep hoping that Kylie will open up to Jude about how she’s been trapped into conning him by the machinations of her scheming employer, but alas, she chooses to keep this crucial detail to herself until it’s far too late. At one point I was willing to push aside this somewhat aggravating trope when I thought it meant that Kylie was refusing to reveal her secrets to Jude so that she could stand up to the villain all her own without needing to rely on Jude to solve her problems for her. Unfortunately, not only do we see that Jude is needed to ultimately bring our heinous wretch to justice, but he then brings Kylie’s initial deceit into their BDSM practices as a way to “punish” her. Even though Kylie always enjoys the dominant ministrations which Jude subjects her to, I couldn’t help but feel this straddled the line of mental manipulation to a point that went beyond their typical forays of pain and pleasure.

Smut Level: Goodness gracious, golly gee, this one is certainly a doozy when it comes to delightfully excessive dirty talk and deliciously explicit sex scenes. At first I thought we were only introduced to a few BDSM moments at the start of their relationship, before things transitioned back to rather vanilla scenes of lovemaking, but the author manages to bring things back full throttle by the end back to d/s play.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 241 Pages.

The Billionaire’s Beauty by Ava Ryan

This Beauty and the Beast adaptation presents us with perhaps the best reaction of our female lead being presented with the most exquisite library in existence. Pushing that surly hunk of a hero up against the library wall for some sexy fun times.

What’s it About?

They call him The Beast for good reason. Now this billionaire boss wants his beautiful–and off-limits–assistant…

Griffin: They call me The Beast. Some people think I’m a bully. I’m not here to make friends. I ruthlessly clawed my way to the top of the real estate market in NYC. No friends needed.

She’s my feisty executive assistant. My right hand… woman. We have an unspoken arrangement: she pretends I’m smarter than she is while I pretend not to notice how sexy she is.

That was before she gave me her notice while wearing that dress.

I can do a lot. Run my family empire. Ignore the loneliness the top brings. Punch anyone who looks twice at her. But letting her go without a fight? Over my dead body…

Quick Review

This second novel in the Fairy Tale Billionaires series is very loosely inspired by that most classic of fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast. While there were certain elements we could all clearly recognize from the original, from a surly male lead with a soft side to the intelligent woman who isn’t afraid to stand up to him. There’s the traditional presentation of an expansive library, a west wing with a troubled past, the beloved father of our heroine, and last but not least a mention of a rose garden. That being said, this reiteration still manages to stand on it’s own two feet without relying too heavily on the progression of events from the original source material, which was quite refreshing. Some of these secondary elements get just the briefest of mentions, whereas others take upon a life of their own with a twist or two on what we might expect. There might not be an enchantress who put a spell on our hero to make him a Beast in appearance, but instead we focus on a difficult man who has been significantly influenced by the trauma of his past, the beauty who frustrates him in one moment while calming him in another, and finally the ever present reminder that their time together has an end date.

There was an interesting contradiction at play to constantly see Griffin argue with himself that he’s not prepared to be the partner Bellamy would need in a relationship, yet also seeing his alpha side break to loose by insisting he’ll be the one to protect and care for her in every way possible. As for Bellamy, she has all the spunk and toughness you could possibly want in a female lead. When Griffin was at his beastiest, or insistent on treating her like his possession, she would turn from sultry romantic interest to a vocal and determined adversary who wasn’t afraid to point out how he was being a total ass. That being said, as they proceed to take their relationship from one level to the next, she was also insightful enough to notice when his shitty behavior was being influenced by the fear and vulnerability borne of his troubled past. Bellamy knew how to navigate the fine line of pushing Griffin to explore the emotional turmoil of his childhood, while also giving him the space needed to come to certain realizations on his own rather than at her constant prodding. We ultimately see that the deep-rooted fear of Griffin being abandoned leads him to try and push away the only woman he’s ever truly cared for so that he can be the one to end things rather than being left behind once again. I wasn’t quite expecting for something that initially started as a light-hearted, sexy office romp to slowly evolve into a heartbreaking examination of loss and the healing power of love.

Series: Fairy Tale Billionaires, book 2. I didn’t read book one in this series before giving this one a go, but I must say I’m now intrigued to finish the rest of the series in its entirety. The love stories for these brothers are clearly taking place at the same time, so the small glimpse I’ve had of Griffin’s brothers and their respective love interests has tickled me pink.

Final Impressions: This was a fun and sexy read that successfully managed to avoid using the classic Beauty and the Beast tale as a crutch to lean upon. Griffin’s traumatic past played a key role in shaping him into the bastard he’s become today, and I appreciated the focus on this troubled history while simultaneously exploring how the progression of his relationship with Bellamy might be the force needed to break through the walls he’s built around him all these years. Bellamy was certainly a force to be reckoned with in her own right, and never allowed Griffin to have the upper-hand in intimidating her into submission. If anything, he was like putty in her hands, even when their bickering was somewhat over-the-top. I will say I wish we had seen Bellamy’s father incorporated a more fully into the story, and not just because the father figure was such a key character of the original fairy tale. He clearly plays a crucial role in Bellamy’s life, but his presence is solely limited to phone calls, which was rather disappointing. A perfectly pleasant read overall though.

Smut Level: This book adds significantly more steam and raunchiness to the classic fairy tale romance we’re all familiar with, which was just positively wonderful. I will say though, the several references to Bellamy’s…nether region as smelling/tasting of fresh oysters was…unexpected.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. I got this book for free on Amazon not too long ago, and it looks as though the other books in the series alternate between being available for free. 208 Pages.

Dax by Sawyer Bennett

This fourth installment in the Arizona Vengeance hockey romance series teaches us a universal truth of romance novels. A bit of alcohol mixed with a seemingly innocent tickle fight will inevitably lead to sexy fun times.

What’s it About?

My name is Dax Monahan and hockey is my passion. And if you want to succeed in this sport you have to bust your ass 24/7. I’ve never had a hard time focusing on my career, but when my past comes knocking, no amount of training can prepare me for what lies on the other side of the door.

Regan Miles was always like a sister to me. When a shared tragedy brings us face to face after several years, I’m shocked to see just how much she’s changed. Gone is the shy, awkward little girl that always used to chase me and her brother around. Instead, I’m faced with a gorgeous woman who makes it damn hard to concentrate on anything but her.

Turns out, she’s in trouble, and the only way out is to get married. I surprise myself when I tell her to marry me. Order her, actually. And most shocking of all, she doesn’t even hesitate before saying yes. So it’s settled. We’re getting hitched and she’s moving to Arizona with me. All platonic, of course. The catch? I never knew I’d fall so hard for my best friend’s little sister.

First Impressions

When it came to this book I broke my cardinal rule of romance novel series reading, which is that after finishing the third novel I immediately jumped right into this one. The fact that the timeline of Dax and Regan’s romance overlaps with a decent portion of the events from the previous novel meant that certain major plot points were repeated. In hindsight, it probably would have been beneficial to read something else in between books three and four to sort of break up the series, but I will admit it was still entertaining to see those important story lines told from the point of view of different characters. As with every new addition to the Arizona Vengeance, we are once again presented with a slew of delightfully tried and true romance novel tropes, including friends-to-lovers, falling in love with a best friend’s sister, and a marriage of convenience. While I absolutely loved Dax and Regan as characters, and the progression of their connection from family friends to passionate lovers to soulmates was a joy of a ride, I can’t say this was my favorite addition to the series, or that it was entirely necessary to have as a full-length book. Let’s dive deep to take a closer look!

Full-Length versus Novella

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book. It’s a lovely romance and it’s not like you should skip it when reading this series as a whole, which I definitely recommend picking up considering it’s been an absolute treat so far. However, I almost wonder if Dax and Regan’s story would have benefitted more as a novella or half-book rather than as a full-length addition to the series. First and foremost, as already stated a decent portion of the book overlaps with the events of the previous novel. Although it was interesting to see some of these elements played out from a different viewpoint, it didn’t really add much to the progression of the series as a whole. The overall story arch is kind of stuck at this particular point in time, and it probably won’t break through into another level until book 5, when a key secondary character who as been the focus of much drama up until this point will finally be getting his own book.

And this brings us to the other secondary characters. I am loving the bromance portrayed amongst all of the members of this hockey team, and while the previous novels have provided us with introductions or hints at the drama or romance to come for other characters, this was really the first novel in the series where I felt that other story lines were competing for attention with the one playing out between our lead characters. The emotional turmoil around the team captain, Tacker, continues to be a primary focus in each novel as he keeps spiraling further down into depression following the tragic death of his fiancée months earlier. Every member of the Arizona Vengeance wants to support him, so it makes sense that he’d be an important feature of each book in the series. In addition to Tacker’s drama, we also see the start of what will undoubtedly be an eventual romance featuring Dax’s sister, Willow, and the billionaire owner of the Arizona Vengeance, Dominik. I can’t wait to see this story play out further in a future book, but combining this with the details of Tacker’s story along with Dax and Regan’s romance, there were almost a few too many competing stories going on at once. None of them overshadowed Dax’s story per se, but if they’d been limited more in their description we probably could have seen this book transition from installment #4 to #3.5.

The Leading Romance

And this finally brings us to Dax and Regan. Although they had a few minor bumps in the road to finally admitting how much they loved each other, on the whole their journey was fairly free of angst. Considering that some of the previous books in the series would present us with rather contrived disagreements between our leading characters, it was kind of refreshing to see that the strength of Dax and Regan’s original friendship ultimately led them to having a strong physical and loving relationship too. While the development of their love was essentially drama-free, there were two other aspects to their story which introduced the fundamental conflict of the novel. The first was that Regan’s brother, Lance, who was also Dax’s best friend, was killed during a mugging gone bad at the end of the third novel. The second is when Regan admits to Dax she has a life-threatening illness, and he basically insists they get married ASAP so she can benefit from his health insurance to pay the exorbitant fees required for her life-saving medication.

Both of these plot points were crucial to pushing Dax and Regan’s relationship to the next level, but in hindsight I’m not sure the Lance story line was incorporated enough for it be a necessary feature of their tale. The unfortunate reality of Regan’s illness quickly supersedes any shared despair they felt over Lance’s death, and it was promptly pushed to the background. I think we would have seen the same emotional and romantic progression for our primary characters, marriage of convenience and all, if Regan had simply been an only child and long-time family friend of Dax’s. In addition, as the novel progressed we saw how the drama around whether or not Dax’s health insurance would successfully cover her treatment was also extinguished to seemingly minimize any large amount of conflict. I remember listening to this as an audiobook and thinking the insurance conundrum would inevitably come back into play for some kind of climactic hospital scene confrontation, but when I looked at my phone at one point to discover there was only 4% left in the book I realized we wouldn’t be privy to more conflict for our leading characters. To be fair, they’ve certainly been through enough!

Series: Arizona Vengeance, book 4. I’m going to try and read something else before immediately diving into the next novel, but my goodness am I beyond eager to get my hands on books 5 and 6. I have a feeling Tacker’s book is going to destroy me emotionally, but I’m ready for it!

Final Impressions: Overall this was a fine addition to the series, but a few tweaks probably would have put it above and beyond. Either certain elements needed to be incorporated more fully, such as Regan and Dax relying on each other to find happiness again following the murder of her brother/his best friend, or they should have been removed entirely to focus the story more on our lovebirds in a shorter span of pages. This is the first time while reading the Arizona Vengeance where I felt like we didn’t see much forward momentum in the series as a whole, which was especially highlighted by the fact that so many of the major events from books three and four overlapped with each other. That being said, I adored the evolution of Dax and Regan’s friendship to romance, and we are once again provided with two leading characters you love to love.

Smut Level: Regan isn’t a virgin, but she also isn’t too experienced when it comes to sex. While this causes an initial hesitancy for Dax to take things further after their first night together, it also doesn’t take long before these two simply can’t deny the chemistry simmering between them while living in such close quarters.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Big Dog Books, LLC. 342 Pages.

If You Stay by Barbara Meyers

After so many years away, Joy Laurence is finally returning home to face the parents who turned their back on her. The journey to forgiveness is long and arduous, but there might just be love waiting at the end of the road.

What’s it About? 

A runaway daughter. An unforgiving father. A reluctant artist.

At 18, Joy Laurence took off with the local bad boy who left her widowed, broke and pregnant. Back then her formidable minister father hung up on her when she called home. Now that she’s back, he slams the door in her face. But for her adult daughter’s sake, she is determined to make peace with her family.

Although romance isn’t even on her radar, Joy can’t resist troubled and talented Granger Sullivan’s rough edges and skilled hands. And in his rebellious teenage daughter she sees her own reflection.

Joy’s excitement dies when reconnecting with her past results not only in broken hearts, but broken lives. Including hers.
She could admit defeat and walk away a second time.

But if she stays, can she find a way to reconcile with her loved ones and build the life she wants?

First Impressions

This is the third installment in the Red Bud, Iowa series and surprisingly the entire novel takes place outside of the small Iowa town we’ve come to know so well. Joy Laurence, who is the mother of Devonny from the first book in the series, is returning home to face the past she ran away from years ago. One parent welcomes her back with open arms, but the other continues to hold a grudge for what he deemed an unforgivable mistake made by Joy when she left home. What started off as a battle of wills between daughter and parents has now evolved into one of wife versus husband, as Joy’s mother struggles to forgive her husband for all of the years lost of getting to know their daughter and granddaughter. Joy never could have guessed that by mending ties with her mother it would result in frayed ties between husband and wife. Would it have been better if she’d stayed away?

Even though she’s gone back home with the primary goal of reconciling with her parents, Joy unexpectedly finds a connection, both emotionally and physically, with gruff artist Granger, who just so happened to have a longstanding crush on her when they were young. As they start to dance around their feelings for each other, Joy is also struck by the tenacity of Granger’s daughter who reminds her so much of herself when she was also a rebellious teen. Witnessing the disagreements and verbal sparring between Granger and his daughter makes Joy conjure up memories of similar spats with her own father, and worries if Granger might be on the same road to an irreparable rift with his child. While it was certainly fun getting to know the characters of this new small town, full of their own personalities and complex histories, I can’t help but admit I did miss the friends we’d made back in Red Bud. I tried to think if there was any way the small Iowa town could have been further incorporated into this third story, but upon reflection it made sense that the only way Joy could have confronted her past was by going home.

A Tale of Romance

As Joy tries to navigate the complex relationship with her parents, she also starts to fall for her somewhat surly landlord, Granger. He may appear standoffish on the surface, but beneath this impassive exterior lies a talented artist who is insightfully observant of the world around him. The evolving relationship between Granger and Joy was certainly enjoyable, especially seeing as Granger’s childhood crush has finally come to fruition as an adult, but their romance sort of played second fiddle to the bulk of the other drama going on. Their scenes together were oftentimes a reprieve from the intensity of the book as a whole, providing a seamless chemistry and lightness of fluttering butterflies in the stomach at the start of any new love affair. Whereas we really couldn’t tell how or if other relationships might be resolved, the attraction between Granger and Joy was something we could rely on.

Resolving the Past and the Present

Every book in this series has provided us with an emotional exploration of various relationships, and this third novel continues that theme as we dive deep into the complexities of family dynamics, marriages, teenage hormones, and the intricacies which can surround father/daughter relationships. The irony was not lost on the fact that Joy’s father, Art, who is the minister of this small town, could often guide the members of his flock through their own familial issues, but when it came to those within his own household he struggles to move forward on the path towards forgiveness. Not only to forgive the daughter who he feels brought shame upon their family, but also to forgive himself for the grave mistake of turning his back on her when she tried to reconnect.

We ultimately come to learn that the animosity he’d always felt towards Joy stemmed from the fear of almost losing his wife, Marcy, through her difficult pregnancy with Joy. She’s always represented the thing that threatened to take the love of his life away from him. When she finally makes a reappearance in their lives, Art’s inability to move on from the past threatens the loss of his wife anyway as she struggles with the knowledge that he prevented years of connection with their daughter and granddaughter. Considering that Joy’s pregnancy with Devonny was such a large component of the rift she faced with her parents, I admittedly would have liked to see Devonny incorporated more into the story of this novel. While we do get a few phone call conversations here and there, as well as a final appearance at the conclusion of the book, I think she could have had a more prominent role here overall. That being said, it’s also understandable that Joy would have had to face her past primarily on her own, rather than relying on Devonny to have a hand in resolving any issues for her.

Similar to the complexities around Joy resolving the tenuous connection with her own parents, it was interesting to see some of the same themes reflected in how Granger and his own daughter, Cassie, needed to confront and mend their own relationship. In both instances, it wasn’t as though the presence of a third character could come in and easily resolve everything with a simple conversation. Joy needed to speak with her parents on her own terms without relying on Devonny to help smooth things over, just like Joy’s parents needed to face each other head on, same as Granger and Cassie needed to do. Particular events and conversations which wove in between all of these characters certainly influenced how they chose to re-evaluate their own situation, but at the end of the day each set of relationships had to traverse their own unique path to ultimate forgiveness.

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

Series: Red Bud, Iowa book 3. 

Final Impressions: This book is an exploration of faith, love and forgiveness. Of all the books in the series so far this felt like the most emotionally “heavy” one of the bunch, as there were a multitude of shaky relationships at play with deep-rooted issues at the heart of them. I often found myself questioning if Joy would ever find absolution with her father, if her parent’s relationship could ever be saved considering so many years of heartbreak, and whether Granger would be able to find a way to reconnect with his daughter. Throughout it all we see love start to blossom between Granger and Joy, and I do wish we could have seen their connection featured a bit more prominently. There were so many different complex relationships to keep track of, and it seemed theirs was sometimes pushed to the side to introduce the others. There was even an unexpected traumatic twist towards the end of the book involving Granger and Joy’s union that I really didn’t see coming, but it felt relatively glossed over in order to ensure the other loose ends of the novel were tied up.

Smut Level: Granger finally has the source of his longstanding crush in his arms, and after so many years of waiting he’s more than ready to show Joy how much he’s always wanted her.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. 289 Pages

Legend by Sawyer Bennett

When a small, life-changing bundle is left on Legend’s doorstep, he immediately runs to the one woman who’s been causing him nothing but grief for months, his next-door neighbor Pepper. You won’t want to miss out on this swoon-worthy, enemies-to-lovers, neighbors romance. 

What’s it About? 

Everything is clicking for the Vengeance. We may be new, but we’re well on our way to winning the championship, and I’m having the time of my life headlining the sports media as the hottest goalie—hell, player—ever. I for one am going to live up to my name . . . because I am Legend Bay.

Dragging my ass home from the gym, I’m blinded by some gaudy, glowing holiday lights. As usual, my hot-as-hell neighbor Pepper Nantais has gone way over the top. But just as I’m about to tell her off, something else catches my eye . . . Seems like Santa left me a present, and not one I was expecting.

As life takes an unexpected turn, I realize that there’s much more to Pepper than meets the eye. Sure, she’s gorgeous. And exasperating. And her taste in decorating may be a bit . . . unique.

But beneath her carefree demeanor is a fierce determination and a heart of gold. And before I know it I’ve fallen for her. Hard . . .

Pepper is exactly the woman I never knew I needed.

Quick Review

We were first introduced to the seductive tension simmering between Legend and his quirky neighbor, Pepper, in previous novels in the Arizona Vengeance hockey romance series. Although he might be a ladies man, Legend is also a rule-follower who likes to have his personal space in pristine order. The fact Pepper likes to flood her yard with cheesy lawn ornaments and bright colors has had him complaining to the homeowner’s association more than once, but that won’t stop her from continuing to torment the gorgeous hockey player she’s had a crush on ever since moving in next door. I will say I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of Pepper’s prankster shenanigans that have been known to grind Legend’s gears to boiling levels of frustration, but it’s such a minimal complaint for what was overall a rather faultless story. The true focus of the novel is instead centered on Legend’s unexpected thrust into fatherhood, and it’s in this moment of utter shock, and even fear, that he finds himself immediately turning to one person without pause. 

Sure, he could have called one of his many teammates, the men he considers brothers, but instead he stumbles next door to seek help from the one woman he has struggled to push from his every waking thought for months. Pepper not only assists him with caring for his daughter, but she also offers him a distraction in what initially starts as a casual fling, but quickly evolves into something much stronger. The natural progression of their connection from physical chemistry to emotional trust, and finally true love, was perhaps the strongest display in the series so far. However, that wasn’t the only reason this third novel has stood out as my favorite in the Arizona Vengeance. We finally, FINALLY, get to see a level of drama incorporated into the story that steadily progressed to a climactic point of combustion, and it refreshingly had nothing to do with a misunderstanding or petty argument between our two lovebirds. The connection between Legend and Pepper felt so real, that it would have seemed like a disservice to have their relationship threatened by some of the trivial disagreements of the previous two novels. We are instead presented with a legitimate point of conflict from a secondary character, and rather than push Legend and Pepper apart, it succeeds in strengthening their link even further. 

Series: Arizona Vengeance, book 3. Every book in this series manages to build the emotional torment of some of our other hockey players on the team, and I am chomping at the bit to ultimately see each of them featured in their very own novel. 

Final Impressions: This series is proving to get better and better with each new addition. The chemistry between Pepper and Legend practically leaps off the page, and while it was a pleasure to witness them falling in love, it was just as delightful to watch Legend fall in love with the daughter who was unexpectedly dropped on his front door step. While I did miss some of the teasing fun I thought we’d see carry over from the previous novels, on the whole you have to appreciate the seamless progression of this romance between neighbors, as well as the growing desperation of our secondary character who encroaches upon the happiness of our loving leads. This was probably the most serious of the Arizona Vengeance novels so far, especially considering some of the dramatic developments with a few other players on the team, but it’s a wild ride for which I was fully on board. 

Smut Level: Let’s just say this daddy is a dirty talker, and Pepper is more than happy to bring out the filthy side of him. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $7.99 Kindle Price. Loveswept Publishing. 218 Pages. 

The Best Friend’s Guide to Taking Risks by Kadie Scott & Nicole Flockton

This is a must read for anyone who enjoys an all consuming friend-to-lovers romance. It will leave you smiling, giggling, and blushing from the chemistry between these two entertaining and lovable characters.

What’s it About? 

Everyone knows that the biggest risk you can take with your best friend is to cross a certain line.

When it comes to relationships, Hunter Lancing is not a risk taker. Between his parents’ terrible divorce and his own bad decisions, he’s been burned. Computers make more sense to him. Everything has a rule. Everything is defined. Like his computers, his best friend is defined, constant, and comes with rules he won’t break.

Part-time children’s party princess Natalie Morgan dances to the beat of a drum no one else can hear. The only person who truly gets her and is never scared off by her sometimes zany ideas is Hunter. But she has a big problem. Natalie keeps having all these…feelings…for her bestie.

But on a weekend getaway, a game of risky dares and one-upmanship that was supposed to just be for laughs may just end up with both of them crossing the friend zone line.

First Impressions

Natalie and Hunter have always been close friends, nothing more, but after a few interesting turn of events they can’t help but start to see each other in a different light. From Natalie running to her bestie for comfort following a tough day at work, to the possibility of Hunter leaving town…and maybe an unexpected glimpse or two of what’s lying in wait underneath their clothes, all of these moments combine to push their friendship into another category entirely. So much more than a simple friends-to-lovers romance, The Best Friend’s Guide to Taking Risks also presents us with a delightful case of opposites attract. The fact Natalie and Hunter’s personalities are so different from each other helps explain why it took so long for these two characters with such an obvious connection to take things to the next stage in their relationship.

Hunter is a rule follower, constantly looking to his computers and code for the answer. A straight-laced nerd, if you will. Natalie couldn’t be more distinct. She’s the fun-loving, energetic, children’s party princess. In spite of their differences, these two have no trouble turning to one another when it matters most. She helps him remember to play and let his hair down every once in a while. To look behind the code on the computer screen in front of him. Hunter might think Natalie does things that are off-the-wall, but he never judges her for it, or demand she tone things down. When others judge and look down upon her quirky ways, he manages to pull her back up again. He lets Natalie be…Natalie. And she loves him for it, just as much as he loves her for this whimsicality. They compliment each other even though they seem mismatched on the surface, and it’s during a short trip to Austin, Texas, as Hunter contemplates a possible future move there, that his relationship with Natalie is finally knocked into fifth gear.

The Perfect Blend of Comedy and Warmth

The true accomplishment of this book came from the idyllic blend of silliness with grounded emotional moments. There were some exceptional examples of our characters responding to perceived crises or dramatic moments in relatable, “believable” ways. When Natalie discovers that her best friend (who she is just now starting to feel the stirrings of something more for) mentions how he might be moving several states away, her response isn’t to throw a temper tantrum, declare that the move could break their connection, or highlight all the reasons why he should stay. Instead, she travels with him to show her support, and demonstrate how she only has his best interests at heart. She brings along her sparkling personality in an attempt to highlight all the great things Austin could potentially offer, even though the idea of him moving away is a difficult reality for her to face. If it’s ultimately what he wants, she’ll stand by his side as he makes the decision. Mixed in with her words of encouragement was an over-the-top card game which forced both Natalie and Hunter to engage in a slew of hilarious, and oftentimes embarrassing “risks”. The continuation of these playful hijinks throughout their time together in Austin, as well as upon their return to Sacramento, was undoubtedly a highlight of the novel. We can’t help but blush in embarrassment right alongside Hunter, yet also admire Natalie’s ability to role with the punches throughout the game. 

Another critical development in Hunter and Natalie’s relationship, beyond them finally taking things to the next level in Austin, was in the aftermath of their passionate night together. I loved how we saw both of them internally struggle over how this might forever alter their friendship, but they ultimately verbalized how much they meant to the other, and admitted that they want to see where this thing might lead. When various relationships from Hunter’s past, including that of his ex-wife and his divorced parents, threaten to intrude upon his newfound physical connection with Natalie, we once again see him question how this might affect his future with his best friend. In some moments, he can clearly distinguish how his past is different from his present with Natalie, and convince himself to push forward in their relationship. In others, the uncertainties and fears overwhelm his ability to act with his heart rather than with his head. Throughout it all, Natalie never fails in her ability to notice when he’s struggling, offer her support or comfort, and in many cases is successful in talking through every new concern that might face them together as a couple. In the end there is only one pressing matter from his past which threatens to tear them apart. However, similar to the beginning when we saw how the prospect of being without Hunter impacted Natalie’s perspective, Hunter too must see a glimpse of how things would be forever altered if she wasn’t present in his life anymore. Is he willing to take that risk?

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

Series: Stand-alone (for the moment?). I need this to be a series featuring Natalie’s sisters. Please and thank you.

Final Impressions: On the whole this is a light-hearted and hilarious read that shows how two friends can unexpectedly start to view their relationship in a different light. In spite of all the silly moments, from embarrassing risk cards to a knight-in-shining-armor costume, this read did successfully manage to weave in some beautiful emotional displays of love, fear and friendship. I also appreciated how the authors threw several of my pre-conceived romance novel expectations out the window, such as avoiding misunderstandings or arguments over minor issues, while still throwing in some beloved tried and true tropes along the way. If you’re headed to the beach, you won’t want to leave this one behind!

Smut Level: This is the perfect example of a sweet read with a LOT of heat.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 272 Pages. 

Erik by Sawyer Bennett

As far as all the ways I’ve seen a romance hero try to demonstrate devotion to his love interest, undergoing a Brazilian wax just might take the cake.

What’s it About? 

I’m having the time of my life with my new brothers on the Arizona Vengeance. We may be an expansion team, but after notching some big wins, the entire league knows to watch out for Erik Dahlbeck. That’s me.

The only person who doesn’t seem to think I’m so great? Blue Gardner, the hot-as-f*** flight attendant on our team plane. I sure wouldn’t mind joining the mile-high club with her, but besides bringing me lukewarm coffee, she won’t give me the time of day. Whatever I did to rub Blue the wrong way, my teammates think it’s hilarious. After all, we’re used to women flocking to us. #puckbunnies

When I run into Blue back on land, I’m shocked to learn how she spends her time off: taking care of her handicapped brother. There are layers to this girl I never imagined, layers I can’t wait to peel away. And that’s a new feeling for me.

But first I’ve got to find a way to melt that ice-cold stare. Because as much as I try to pretend I don’t care what Blue thinks of me, how can you not care when you’re falling for someone?

Quick Review

If you’re someone like me, who isn’t a huge fan of sports, believe me when I say you should still give this hockey romance series a try. The author has done a fine job so far of distinguishing the story arcs and personality traits of our characters from one novel to the next. While each novel has been distinct, there are certain themes which seem to be developing as the hallmark of this series. Not only are we presented with an engaging romantic story between two leads that is ripe with heat and humor, but we are also witness to a close brotherly bond between the teammates of the Arizona Vengeance hockey team. They have each other’s backs both on and off the ice, and aren’t afraid to offer advice when our featured male lead inevitably starts to encounter hardship in the midst of wooing his love interest. While some readers seem to criticize this emotional bond between our male characters as “unrealistic”, I found it to be delightfully refreshing to see such “manly men” willing to open up about their feelings and insecurities with their closest friends.

As for Blue and Erik, their journey to a happily ever after was funny, yet also filled with emotionally vulnerable moments as they both consider their connected past and hoped for future. Discovering the reason for Blue’s intense animosity towards the devilishly handsome ladies man was quite the surprise, and seeing all the ways Erik was willing to prove he was serious about courting Blue provided some laugh-out-loud moments that still have me smirking when I think back on them. Blue’s brother, Billy, also played an important role in their relationship, and while I was initially concerned Erik would try and use her brother with cerebral palsy as a ploy to get into her life, we ultimately see that Erik’s intentions where Billy are concerned are honorable and true. While they encounter a few stumbling blocks along the way, there’s no question in our minds that Blue and Erik have found a long-lasting love with each other that will last beyond the final pages of the book.

Series: Arizona Vengeance, book 2. Only two books into this series and already the author has employed some of my favorite romance novel tropes: fake engagement, second-chance romance, enemies-to-lovers. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Final Impressions: This is a fun read that will have you laughing, blushing, and possibly getting you all teary-eyed by the end. On the whole, I think I may have even liked it better than book one in the series, as every character had a part to play in Blue and Erik’s romance, and their chemistry was without reproach. The only areas of fault for books one and two would have to be with the endings. We reach a point in both novels where things are seemingly going so well for our main characters that we know something has to go wrong to inject a bit of drama that will threaten to tear apart the relationship they’ve spent so long building. I couldn’t help but feel that for both reads the drama was a bit too contrived, and the inevitable mini-break-up results in an eye-roll moment of unnecessary tension. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that as we dive deeper into this series we’ll be presented with strains to the relationship that don’t seem so far out of left-field.

Smut Level: It’s possible Erik spends more time in this book building up a sweat with Blue off the ice than he does when competing against his rivals on the ice.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $7.99 Kindle Price. Loveswept Publishing. 213 Pages.