Under a Scottish Sky by Pamela Q. Fernandes

While searching for stars in the Scottish sky, Michelle manages to find love underneath them.

What’s it About? 36239163

Seeking stars, finding love! Michelle Reyes is a strong, guilt-ridden woman. Traveling as a nurse from her home in Manila to Scotland to see the stars, she meets Adrian, the son of her patient. She sees Adrian as arrogant, unforgiving and cruel. But is Adrian more than he appears to be?

First Impressions

I think I’ve said it before. If not, well I guess I better mention it here. Short novels are a tricky business. Their short length are so unique that they can allow you to skip over superfluous details, and get right down to business. They can also give a slight introduction or continuation of a story from a full-length novel that sort of teases you for something more. More often than naught however, I think short novels can act as a trap when what should probably be a full story instead crammed into something much shorter. Unfortunately, I think this story falls into the latter category. Overall, it was an intriguing story which captured my interest, and was filled with troubled yet relate-able characters. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the romance aspect of the tale between Michelle and Adrian felt somewhat rushed. In the end, I was left wanting more.

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A Few More Pages Needed

Personally, I felt this was the type of story that really would have benefited from a longer page length. There’s just a lot going on! In addition to the obvious budding feelings of love between Michelle and Adrian, we also have her acting as a nurse and caretaker to his stroke-impacted mother (probably my fav story line), Adrian dealing with his own troubled relationship with his mom and deceased father, as well as an interesting dynamic involving Adrian’s former friend, ex-girlfriend and Michelle. Not to mention Michelle’s work visa issues to remain in Scotland after moving from the Philippines, and her own quest to find peace following the death of her parents years before. And last but not least, the attempt to see the stars hidden in the mist of Scotland’s grey and cloudy skies. All in 81 pages! Phew, kind of exhausting.

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A Whirlwind Romance

So you can definitely see how there were plenty of plot points on hand to fill an entire novel. That being said, if we have to work within the parameters of a short novel, there is one more thing I would have wanted, which was just one more scene between Adrian and Michelle to focus on the dynamic of their evolving relationship. They seemingly moved rather quickly from acquaintances to crushes to feelings of actual love. We were really only offered one detailed scene which highlighted their connection on an emotional level, and that was when Michelle explained the tragic reasoning behind her desperate search to find stars in the night sky.

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This moment offered us one of the most endearing and enchanting scenes of the novel. However, I think the overall story would have been strengthened significantly from one additional scene where we could have seen the vulnerable side of Adrian. Instead, we have brief mentions of how they “chatted” or “spent time together”, but delving deeper into one of those particular moments could have made their relationship seem slightly more plausible. Again, all the pieces were there for something spectacular, but the details needed to be more fully fleshed out.

The Brightest Star

There was one character in this tale who I think was provided with the most development in terms of her story arch, and that would be Adrian’s mother. From her first scene you can’t help but fall in love with her kindness. She’s struggling to survive following her stroke, as well as deal with the fact her son resents her, but she manages to take things all in stride. Michelle also has the ability to bring out the best in her, not to mention help her find joy in the things she used to love about life. The mother’s story has a definite arch, and it was an emotionally compelling and poignant part of the plot, not to mention one of the main driving forces which brought Michelle and Adrian together.

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

Series: Nope! Although I’d love to see either a continuation of this story, or perhaps even see it developed into a full-length book.

Should you read it? This short novel is a quick read which definitely draws you in, but ultimately I was left wanting more. I think the story could have benefited from maybe one more scene focusing on the development of Michelle and Adrian’s relationship. Also, certain aspects were rushed to the point where we couldn’t fully get to know our two main characters. There seemed to be so much to Adrian’s back story that could have been expanded upon. Michelle also had a number of tearful moments which could have been spread out more.

Smut Level: Some brief kisses between our two unlikely lovebirds.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 81 Pages.

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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.

 

 

Anchors Away!

Have you all missed me this past week? Sorry for the silence, but I was recently on a fabulous Caribbean cruise, and well…let’s just say I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done for my little blog here.

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Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a cruise in December to really get you in the holiday spirit! The fact that Christmas music was often being played through the ship’s speakers and there were Christmas trees in various ports of call was an almost jarring experience! But when you’re laying out in the hot Caribbean sun with a good book on your Kindle who can really be bothered by anything? It was also a family cruise with parents, siblings, and loved ones, so you can’t ask for much more!

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First stop on the cruise was a relaxing beach day at Princess Cays.

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Then we had an amazing day in Jamaica, and oh my goodness you guys I have to tell you about it. My dad and I decided to take an excursion for a private rum tour at the Hampden rum estate. There was about a 30 minute delightfully bouncy car ride through the beautiful Jamaican countryside before we arrived at our destination.

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Upon arrival at the estate we were immediately greeted with a potent glass of rum punch, and then proceeded to have an introduction to the history of rum, as well as the history of the estate. And lo and behold, when our tour guide mentioned the founder of the estate I couldn’t help but exclaim in shock and glee when it was revealed that the patriarch of the family had fled Scotland following the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 to establish the estate in Jamaica. My mouth dropped open, and I whispered an audible “Oh…my…God”, when the tour guide looked to me in surprise and asked, “Oh, you know of the Jacobite rebellion?” Ummmm, I’m an Outlander and Jamie Fraser fanatic, of course I know about the Jacobite rebellion!!!! Such a delightfully unexpected fun fact. After that I couldn’t help but picture Jamie and Claire Fraser walking arm in arm with us throughout the rest of our tour.

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After Jamaica we had another relaxing beach day at Grand Cayman, and it was a fun throwback to about 3 years ago when I went for a week-long vacation there with my sister. As some of you may know, that was the trip which first inspired me to start a romance novel blog. Ahhh, memories.

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Our final stop was in Cozumel, Mexico, where my family and I rented a catamaran for the day. We went snorkeling, hung out at a private beach, and eventually ate the largest lobsters I’ve ever seen at one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever been to: Mission. Highly recommend.

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All in all, a fabulous trip! There’s really nothing better than having your phone in airplane mode for an entire week as you soak up the sun. Oh, and consuming an average of about 3 desserts a day. I also may have come back with a few souvenirs 🙂

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Shooter by Dahlia West

This book definitely proved one of life’s most common sayings: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

What’s it About? 

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Chris “Shooter” Sullivan has returned to his home town of Rapid City, South Dakota to pick up the pieces of his life shattered by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He only wants to focus on holding what’s left of his old unit together, running his garage where he builds custom bikes and cars, and pretending that his murdered father’s motorcycle gang doesn’t exist. Hayley Turner is a young woman with her own traumatic past. Fresh off the bus from Nowhere, USA, all she wants is a job and a place to live, until it’s time for her to leave again. She doesn’t want to make friends, or enemies, least of all the ex-Army Ranger who obviously doesn’t like her. She bristles under his watchful eye. He’s even got her convinced she’s bad news. But circumstances force two people who don’t need anyone to need each other more and more. The more Chris gets to know Hayley, the harder it is to stay detached. And the more Hayley gets to know Chris, the more she realizes she’s been alone for so long she might never recover from it.

First Impressions

I seriously wanted this book to have a recipe section!! Consider this a friendly warning, don’t read this book on an empty stomach. You’ll definitely want some appetizers or cookies on hand to ensure you don’t salivate whilst reading it. We’ve got descriptions of succulent ribs, decadent chocolate cake, flaming baked Alaska and sweet peach cobbler.

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Upon first meeting, Chris is understandably wary of Hayley. She’s new to town, and he can easily tell she’s hiding details about herself and her troubled past. Hayley isn’t necessarily looking for friends when she arrives in Rapid City, but she doesn’t want Chris and his Army buddies to be suspicious of her either. So let the cooking begin! I will say after a while it did seem a bit over the top, what with Chris and his boys playing poker as Hayley is cooking away in the kitchen. Or this pack of alpha males working on bikes and Hayley bringing them all some home cooked lunches as they refer to her as “honey” or “darlin'”. It was nice at first, but after a while it became almost too Donna Reed for me.

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A Slowly Built Inferno

I really did enjoy the development of a friendship between Hayley and Chris, as well as with his other Army buddies. Having a friendship first means it does take a while before they enter into a sexual relationship. You definitely have to wait until after the half-way point before you get any juicy details. However, I think I preferred this scenario to them rushing into anything too quickly, especially considering Hayley’s own traumatic past. This is the first relationship Hayley has been in since going on the run five years ago.

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She’s kept her past a secret from everyone, including Chris, and we as the readers don’t discover what happened until the rest of the characters do pretty late into the story. At first, Hayley and Chris are strictly friends, but eventually they realize it’s time to take things to the next level. She’s hesitant considering how long she’s been on the run, but Chris convinces her he’ll protect her from any evil, and it’s finally time to stop running and take a chance. They start things off slowly with some kissing, rubbing, zero penetration whatsoever. But it doesn’t take long before he’s going full on dirty talk and demanding she sit on his face. Ohhh boy!

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The Life of a Biker

For the most part I liked Chris. He’s nice to Hayley, doesn’t push her to do anything before she’s ready, vows to protect her from her past, and even gets her a kitten for crying out loud! Something I didn’t appreciate though was when we ultimately discover he’s got a strained relationship with a neighboring biker gang, and that all of Hayley’s actions now reflect on him. If she makes a supposed mistake he could be the one to pay for it. Probably would have been something o share with her when you were convincing her to take a chance on you there buddy!! Then there’s a dramatic plot point with this motorcycle gang that didn’t really come full circle, and sort of fell flat for me.

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Series: Burnout, book 1. I did really enjoy the introduction of each of Chris’s Army Ranger buddies, and am excited to see each one’s eventual story.

Should you read it? It’s a sweet romance that has a strong foundation of friendship. There’s an intense climax at the end where Hayley’s past comes back to interfere with her present. I do think it could have been shortened slightly so that we not only get to the lovemaking earlier on, but also the drama of her past. Perhaps one less scene involving a mouthwatering culinary creation would have been conducive to the overall story.

Smut Level: Daaaaaamn. You have to wait about 60% until anything physical happens, but Chris has got a mouth on him, and he’s more than willing to show Hayley everything she’s been missing out on the last few years.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 472 Pages.

A Royal Affair Series by Christina George

This three book series tells of a love story that spans centuries. Read on for my brief review of each part in the series.

What’s it About?

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What if the love of your life lived 200 years ago? Emma was born with a gift to see past lives, but has no interest in reliving her own. Until it comes back to haunt her. When Emma meets Peter he seems like an average guy, albeit crushingly handsome, not to mention wealthy. Then he reveals he’s so much more, he’s the crowned Prince of Belgium, and Emma can’t shake the feeling they’ve met before. And when starts falling for him she suddenly realizes they’ll never be together in this life because of what happened in the past.

Two-hundred years ago Fitz and Anna-Maria ruled Belgium as King and Queen, but their heart-stopping love story ended in one of the greatest royal tragedies history has ever known. Recalling the past is one thing, rewriting history is another. Is Emma skilled enough for the task? Battling unfinished business, navigating 19th century society, and evading enemies that are able to travel through time just to keep them apart makes Emma fear the worst, despite what her heart tells her. Set in New York, Belgium, and 200 years ago, this trilogy is a sweeping paranormal time travel saga about a love that will live forever, often just out of grasp, and the forces that are trying to destroy it.

A Royal Affair: Book One

We are definitely just getting the ball rolling with this first book, as we are introduced to our two primary characters, Emma and Peter, who fall in love in about the span of a week. However, it’s not as strange as it seems seeing as they also knew each other as lovers in a past life. Ok…so maybe that fact makes it even stranger. The book introduces some fantastical elements as Emma can see details of a person’s past life. When she first meets Peter there’s an immediate connection, and she can sense it’s a powerful one as his very person shimmers with a glowing light. However, Emma isn’t ready to do anything serious with this man, so she chooses to push that light aside and ignore it. Well, you can only push things aside for so long before they come back to bite you in the ass. or in this instance, fling you back to 19th century Belgium.

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Emma is only there for the span of an evening, but in it she sees that she and Peter, or Anna-Maria and Fitz as they’re known in the 1800s, were happily married with two children in a former life, and he was the King of Belgium. While they live a happy life there’s also a threat against the crown. Before Emma has the chance to uncover the details she wakes up back in 2017 in Peter’s arms. While their names may have changed from their former lives, their connection has remained as close as ever, as well as the fact that Peter is still Belgian royalty.

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This detail is yet another reason Emma is hesitant to take things further with the handsome man, as she doesn’t want to live a life in the spotlight. The fact his brother is the heir to the throne though makes him believe their relationship won’t be a huge paparazzi highlight. This all changes when at the very end of the novel we discover that Peter’s brother has abdicated to run off with another woman, and Peter is now in line to rule, which means a relationship with Emma is out of the question. But will their past connection allow them to stay apart?

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A Royal Scandal: Book Two

The intrigue continues! In this second novel we are introduced to Peter’s betrothed, Alexandra, who is just as bitchy as you’d assume her to be. She’s the scheming villain of our novel, and unfortunately Emma walks right into her trap. We do get a few more glimpses of Emma traveling back through time to learn more about the tragic love story of Fitz and Anna-Maria. Sure, she could just as easily Google it and find out the whole sordid story, but instead she chooses to spend hours in a kind of trance to live through it herself. I mean, can you really blame her? She gets to spend a lot of that time being pleasured by the delectable Fitz.

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There still wasn’t that much time spent developing the present day relationship between Emma and Peter as I would have liked. Emma seems so focused on uncovering the details of their shared past, and how it might fit into their present lives, that I feel like I know more about Fitz than Peter as a character. We do discover more of the tragic details from history in this second book, as well as the fact that Peter’s current fiancée, Alexandra, may have had something to do with Anna-Maria and Fitz’s lives in the past. It’ll be interesting to see how this all comes full circle!

A Royal Romance: Book Three

The exciting conclusion to our love story, both past and present. All in all this was hands down my favorite book of the series. It had the best blend of historical and contemporary scenes, not to mention suspense with a risk to Emma’s life, the climactic search for King Fitz, and the question of whether or not one can actually change the past. Not to mention, we finally get some scenes where Peter is the main focus! ‘Twas rather refreshing.

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The historical story line really came to the forefront in this novel. Whereas in the former two books Emma was just an innocent bystander of the tragedy unfolding, in this book she starts to wonder if she could possibly change this sad tale so Fitz and Anna-Maria could possibly find each other again to have a happily every after.

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Unfortunately the aspect I didn’t really care for in this quest to change the past was how they didn’t reaaaally seem to think too hard about how it could impact the present. Sure, the “butterfly effect” was mentioned a time or two, but the determinant was that because this was just related to Belgian history it wouldn’t impact world events. Ummm, are you sure about that? We are dealing with the King of Belgium after all, not just an everyday Joe. Then when that was deemed to not be an issue Emma’s other main quandary was if she and Peter would still fall in love if the past was successfully changed. I just keep thinking on Back to the Future and allllll the potential repercussions of altering the past, but none of that seemed to be a big discussion point. Maybe all those other time travel movies were just overly concerned about nothing!

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

Series: A Royal Affair, books 1-3. This series really reads like a full-length book, and shouldn’t be divided up.

Should you read it? An interesting read overall. I enjoyed the mix of contemporary with historical, as well as the tragic tale of Anna-Maria and Fitz. The one aspect I think could have been elaborated on was the relationship between Peter and Emma. It seemed like more emphasis was placed on their bond from a former life rather than really getting to know each other in this one.

Smut Level: There are definitely some passionate scenes in this series. Charm and sexual prowess must be an ability that lasts through reincarnation. In the first book we get all the delightful details of Peter and Emma’s sexual relationship, but in the next two we get to focus instead on Fitz’s talents in the bedroom. Might be royalty outside of the bedroom, but definitely a delectable treat beneath the sheets!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 436 Pages Total.

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.

Playing to Win by Ashlie Knapp

Our male lead’s name is Kyle Kelly. He has four sisters. All of them and their parents have names starting with the letter “K”. Nicknamed the “K-clan”. Ummmm…probably not the best nickname ever? Too many “K’s” and “clan” kind of bring something else to mind. Just sayin’. Anywho, onward to the actual story!

What’s it About? 

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Spunky, quick-witted twenty-one year old Callie Thompson is a University of Oklahoma journalism student by day and Oklahoma City Thunder dancer by night. Callie hopes her connections with the franchise might get her foot in the door for a sports broadcasting job when she graduates. She just has one rule: never date the players. Kyle Kelly is the deadly handsome and charmingly Southern Thunder man of the hour. All the twenty-six year old is looking for is an NBA championship to call his own. An unexpected meeting with an opinionated, feisty Callie, however, who is very unimpressed with his celebrity status, sets his sights toward winning two things: her heart AND the championship.

First Impressions

If I had to describe this book in a word it would be cute. Or maybe adorable. You know, sweet really works too. Oh hell you get my point! This book will definitely make you smirk and have you curling your toes in delight. In a way, it was almost Hallmark-esque with how cute it was, but definitely not as annoying as a Hallmark movie can be. Believe me, I should know. My dad plays them on repeat throughout the whole month of December. And July. This book has a level of cheesiness to it that is enjoyable without being over-the-top. I mean, at one point Kyle jokes about how his and Callie’s lips want to get to know each other, that their lips are best friends, etc. Admit it! That’s just adorable.

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A Horsey Meet Cute

This novel has a meet cute as classic as can be: our two lovebirds literally bump into each other. But rather than stare up at the famous Kyle Kelly with stars in her eyes, Callie has pretty much the same reaction that I would. She yells at him! After all, she knows his type as a professional athlete. Arrogant. Full of himself. So to prove her wrong Kyle challenges Callie to a game of horse. Ummm…ok? Don’t really see the connection here, or how it’ll prove he’s humble. He’s a pro basketball player for crying out loud! Pretty sure his confidence level in winning a game of horse was pretty high. Could we even say…arrogantly high?

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While I didn’t necessarily understand the reasoning behind their game of horse, the resulting challenge just made me smile. If Kyle wins they have to “hang out” five times. Callie refuses to call them “dates”, but she’s only kidding herself. We all know it’s just a matter of time before their friendship develops into something a bit more steamy. I also gotta hand it to Kyle, this guy is charming as hell. I’d definitely play him in a game of horse. Sure, I’d lose immediately because my hand-eye coordination is absolute shit, but still. Sign me up!!

The Voices of Reason

In addition to hearing input from her best friends (who will undoubtedly be the focus of future novels), Callie also has an inner voice rattling around in her mind who always tries to giver her words of wisdom. Needless to say, it pisses Callie off something fierce because that voice is constantly pushing her towards Kyle! She’s determined not to date him because her recent ex-boyfriend was also an athlete, and things did not end well. Will Callie be able to overcome her hesitancy in exploring something more romantic with Kyle? If her inner voice has anything to say about it, hell yeah!

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I found Callie’s battle with the voice in her head to be hilarious. Another delightfully fun component was Kyle’s rapport with his teammates, who were just as big of gossips as Callie and her friends. It was kind of sweet actually, as these supposed tough guys are asking Kyle all about his new love interest in the locker room after a game. His teammates definitely like to razz him for spending so much time thinking about and hanging out with Callie, but he never lets it faze him. He’s honest about his feelings for her, and isn’t ashamed to admit it to his buddies Definitely an acceptable form of locker room talk!

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Here it Comes

Callie and Kyle’s close friendship eventually develops into the most adorable of relationships, but after a while you just know that sooner or later the other shoe is going to drop. Their relationship has been going too smoothly, with very little drama for far too long. They even hit it off with each other’s family members! Surely we can’t go the whole novel without a little drama thrown in there? And sure enough, it comes about right at the end of the third quarter.

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Not gonna lie, this was probably the most disappointing feature of the novel for me. While I was definitely happy this dramatic plot point didn’t drag on for too long, you could really see it coming from a mile away. It was just too obvious of a climactic twist. And the fact that it was almost a complete and total shot for shot replica of the scenario which ended Callie’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend was a bit far-fetched for me. I guess all in all I would have liked to have seen a bit more creativity when it came to the drama. Perhaps a secondary issue surrounding his basketball commitment or her schooling could have spiced things up a smidge.

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

Series: Playing series, book 1. I’ll be continuing with this series, for sure. I just can’t wait to see the pairings between Kyle’s teammates and Callie’s friends.

Should you read it? Simply put, this is a fun and cute read. Definitely a good beach read when you just wanna relax and take your mind off things. It’s also a quick read! Kyle is adorable, and the man loves his cat, so what’s not to like here?! His flirtations with Callie were definitely cheesy, but some moments were also remarkably heartfelt. Both features added to his overall charm.

Smut Level: A pretty clean read. We have some kisses, but only one sex scene that comes pretty late in the game (no pun intended) and is glossed over as far as sensual details. No problem reading this one in public.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 225 Pages.