A Road Paved in Copper by Angela Christina Archer

A historical western romance that sets the glimmering city of San Francisco against the harsh desert of Nevada.

What’s it About?

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Armed with her six-shooter, Ava De La Vega dips the pen into the inkwell and etches her name on the Esmeralda County tax record book. A formidable force, that’s what her peers have called her. The woman in a man’s world, what did she know of mining ore, silver, and copper? Plenty. And it’s this knowledge that makes her of the richest miners in Nevada in 1903. Of course, it also makes her a target.

Traveling back and forth from Tonopah, Nevada and San Francisco, Ava blazes the trail from the dirt and grime of her mines to the fanciest hotel rooms, enjoying the finest wines, the most decadent meals, and the company of attractive young men. Unfortunately, for Ava, she doesn’t see Craig Harrison coming.

A miner from the snowy Klondike, Craig has traveled from the harsh Canadian mountains down to city streets of San Francisco. Not looking for work, he’s happy with the comfortable life away from the deep mines, the dirt, and the ever sought-after gold. Unfortunately, for Craig, he doesn’t see Ava coming.

First Impressions

This female lead is a bad ass! LOVE her!! Ava has distinguished herself in the male dominated world of mining. She’s more successful than her male counterparts, and not afraid to stand up for herself. Unlike most historical romances, Ava admits very early on in our tale that she’s no virgin. Although she works in the dirt and grime of Nevada’s desert mines, Ava also delights in her trips to San Francisco, where she can indulge in the company of a new man every time. No attachments, no expectations. However, upon first meeting Craig she immediately recognizes that there’s something different about him. He’s no one night stand. Rather than treat him as such, they actually refrain from intercourse for quite some time, even though they are both brimming with sexual need. Talk about willpower!

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From Harsh Desert to Glimmering City

A particular feature of this novel which was rather clever was that it managed to twist your initial assumptions and expectations of both the main character, and even the setting of the book itself. Ava embodies this perfectly, as she herself appears to be a contradiction in terms. She is one of the only women in this small mining Nevada town who can hold her own, and is in no way a damsel in distress. She can shoot a gun and kick a man where it counts, so you sort of have this initial impression that she’ll be kind of a tomboy.

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However, that all changes when she leaves the harsh desert of Nevada behind for the bright lights and busy streets of San Francisco. While she loves getting her hands dirty in Nevada, she loves to indulge herself in luxuries and feminine clothing when in the city. It almost seems like we are dealing with two different personalities in one woman, but we find that she manages to maintain her moxie whether surrounded by the elegance of the city or the ruffians of the mining town. The ability of the author to provide us a glimpse into two such distinct worlds is truly commendable.

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The Allure of the Land

Certain passages within this book were utterly poetic. One section which particularly resonated was when Craig describes both the allure and dangers of mining. How the earth holds such wondrous secrets and wealth, but it’s just out of reach from those who are searching for it. The bounty of the land can dry up at any time. At one point, the mines are even compared to a woman who makes you work for her pleasures; playing a teasing game with her suitor before giving up her secrets. Phenomenal metaphor!! It really made me wish part of the story could have been told from Craig’s point of view, so that we could better understand the intricacies of his own character.

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Another eloquent passage presents us with Ava as she contemplates whether or not to reveal the secret details of her troubled past to Craig. On the one hand, she wishes to keep some of her foolish girlhood decisions a secret from this man she has come to love. Senseless choices which she realizes she would never commit now as an informed adult. On the other hand, the grown woman in her wants to tell him, to admit the mistakes of her past and move on. Unfortunately Ava’s built up so many walls around herself in the attempt to keep herself safe, and ensure that only she will know the errors of her ways. This is probably a debate which many of us have faced at some point in our lives, and makes her character even more relatable.

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

Series: I would actually love to read some kind of short story or sequel to this one, but it looks like a stand-alone.

Should you read it? This book definitely starts with a bang! Ava’s enemies are trying to steal her land claims through force, and she finds herself in the cross hairs of a wild west shootout. After that initial drama the middle section was pretty mellow. If the suspense had carried more throughout the entirety of the book it could have made a positive difference. It all comes together though for an unbelievably intense ending that left me a mess of tears.

Smut Level: Craig has an appetite for this headstrong woman, so he enjoys her on the kitchen table. Hint hint, wink wink. Nothing too explicit or detailed as far as smut.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Long Valley Press. 238 Pages.

Falling Away by Penelope Douglas

Man, who knew such a small group of friends in an unassuming Illinois suburban town could lead such dramatically complicated lives. Every single one of them!!

What’s it About?

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K.C. Carter has always followed the rules—until this year, when a mistake leaves her the talk of her college campus and her carefully arranged life comes crashing to a halt. Now she’s stuck in her small hometown for the summer to complete her court-ordered community service, and to make matters worse, trouble is living right next door.

Jaxon Trent is the worst kind of temptation and exactly what K.C. was supposed to stay away from in high school. But he never forgot her. She was the one girl who wouldn’t give him the time of day and the only one to ever say no. Fate has brought K.C. back into his life—except what he thought was a great twist of luck turns out to be too close for comfort. As the bond between them grows, he discovers that convincing K.C. to get out from her mother’s shadow is hard, but revealing the darkest parts of his soul is nearly impossible.…

First Impressions

I really really really hate to say this, but I’m sort of falling out of like with this series. I can’t even say “love” because it was never really one of my ultimate favorites to begin with. I definitely liked book 1, that’s for sure, and my feelings towards book 2 were sort of lukewarm. However, when it comes to this 3rd book, I think I have to say I actually disliked it. Both KC and Jaxon come from troubled pasts, but that’s definitely not the reason why I had an overall negative impression of this book. Rather, I couldn’t help but feel that Jaxon and KC had a pretty toxic relationship that made me slightly uncomfortable at times, and even worrying for KC’s safety at others.

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Love/Hate Continues Again

As is the theme with most of the novels in this series so far, our lead couple starts off with some feelings of animosity towards one another instead of love. Eventually, their mutual feelings of enmity build up to a boiling point until they can’t help themselves, and they start attacking each other’s mouths. However, in this book I was somewhat disturbed at a few of the ways Jax pursued KC. Let’s look at a few examples.

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Stalking is as Stalking Does

Let’s start with the less threatening (if you can call it that) of his pursuits. So, Jax pretty much cyber stalks KC when she’s away at college out of state. This includes, but is not limited to, logging in to check her class schedule, grades, setting off pranks to push back a test she was unprepared for, and hacking her police record so she could complete her community service at their local high school where Jax just so happens to volunteer as well. Eventually, KC uncovers the extent of how closely he’s been monitoring her activities while she was away at school, and she is understandably confused and disturbed.

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But then Jax manages to talk his way out of these stalker tendencies to the point where KC just brushes off the whole thing rather quickly. He explained that the reason she was so upset with his monitoring of her was because she doesn’t want anybody else to get too close to her. Umm, actually it’s called an invasion of privacy! You wanna know what’s going on in her life, maybe you should give her a call, or send her an email. Not hack her school records.

The Heart of the Matter

I suppose if you really want you could write off his computer stalking as him being overprotective, and wanting to check up on her. Whatever. What disturbed me even more was their physical relationship. At times, it was scorching hot. At others, I was legitimately concerned I was about to read a rape scene. There are many instances in this book where Jax pins KC up against a wall in the heat of an argument, and starts to devour her mouth in a passionate kiss. But there are also many times where KC tries to pull away from these ministrations, saying “no” and trying to push Jax away.

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Now, I listened to this as an audio book, and the narrator for KC was amazing, but in these particular scenes she verbalized some very convincing “no’s” and also had an element of fear in her voice. For Jax though, it would appear that when it comes to KC “no” doesn’t necessarily mean “no. It just means keep kissing her until she submits and says “yes”. The fact that at one point he even pulled a knife and started taunting her with it while pinned against a wall made me feel that this relationship has a lot of serious problems. Sure, KC would eventually always succumb to his seductions, and pull him towards her instead of pushing him away, but I felt like Jax must not respect her very much if he used intimidation to bend her to his will instead of talking things out.

Troubled Pasts and Vicious Characters

Jax and KC both come from troubled pasts. Her parents had her in order to supplement their previous daughter who died, and Jax was physically and sexually abused at the hands of his father and his father’s friends. While we aren’t privy to all of the specific details of Jax’s abuse, it was still definitely very hard to read at times.

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His abusers are disgusting people with zero redeeming qualities. It’s heartbreaking to think of what he endured as a child, and how his past has influenced his actions as an adult. Jax attempts to push KC away once she starts to develop loving feelings for him, as he doesn’t want her to deal with his toxic past. Especially when his past comes back to haunt him, as his father has been harassing him more and more as his parole from prison draws ever closer.

Series: Fall Away, book 3. Will I continue with this series? Maybe, as the next book revisits the couple from book 1. It just might take me a while before I go there.

Should you read it? Jax is a troubled individual, and the horrors of his past definitely influence his relationship with KC. I get pushing her away because he doesn’t think he’s good enough, and we’re supposed to admire KC for sticking through all of this to eventually find the loving Jax hiding underneath. I still couldn’t help but feel disturbed though at some of the ways he treated her, especially when it came to their sexual relationship. The whole pulling a knife scene left a really lasting negative and frightening impression on me. If others have read this one and had a different view of their sexual relationship I’d love to discuss it!

Smut Level: Let’s just say they do some pretty…creative things with a popsicle.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Berkley Publishing. 429 Pages.

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Falling for the Enemy by Samanthe Beck

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

What’s it About?

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

First Impressions

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

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Beyond the Physical

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

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Series: Private Pleasures, book 3.

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

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

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

Light Her Fire by Samanthe Beck

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

What’s it About? 

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

First Impressions

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

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Let’s Get Creative

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

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

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

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

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

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Tess and the Highlander by May McGoldrick

I can’t believe you all let me go this long without reviewing a historical romance novel. Honestly, shame on me!

What’s it About?

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Tess
Tess Lindsay has spent most of her life on the remote Isle of May, uncertain of her identity. Raised by the two sole inhabitants of the island, she is left to fend for herself after their deaths, until a stranger washes ashore in a storm. Tess pulls him from the surf, not knowing that in saving the Highlander she is saving herself.

The Highlander
If good looks and a taste for adventure are a curse, Colin Macpherson is destined for ruin. Until he ends up a castaway on Tess’s windswept island, he’s been roaming the seas, seeking fame, fortune… and a different girl in every port. But his fascination for this strong-willed lass goes beyond her wild beauty, intriguing him as no girl ever does.

As Colin gains her trust, Tess reveals what little she knows about herself and her past. From her scant clues, though, Colin comes to one conclusion: he must return Tess to the mainland to reclaim her birthright, even if it means losing her to a destiny that does not include him.

First Impressions

Ok, so when it comes to historical romance reads, this one was just alright. It wasn’t bad in any sense of the word, but it was overall a rather predictable and basic romance. Not a whole lot of depth, but easy-going and still enjoyable. Also, we’ve got a Highlander in a kilt, so at least it has that going for it. This book also made me realize that my brain has now been conditioned to always picture Sam Heughan from Outlander as the male lead for any Highland romance. I don’t care that the lead in this book, Colin, has a physical appearance completely different than that of Sam. Sexy Highlander in my mind automatically reads Outlander to me. I suppose James Dornan could be an acceptable substitute.

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Plenty of Sass

My favorite character in this novel, hands down, had to be Tess. She had so much sass and spunk, and that isn’t something you necessarily always come across in historical romance leading ladies. No need for a fainting chaise in this one! Tess has been living alone on a remote island for a while now, and Colin is the first outsider she’s ever interacted with. He might be big, surly and intimidating, but that doesn’t mean Tess is afraid to speak her mind.

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With a Shipwreck Here, and a Shipwreck There

Tess has no concrete memory of what life was like before she washed up on the island during a storm when she was a child. She was raised by an elderly couple who recently passed away, but they ensured she was kept hidden from any outsider who visited the island when they were alive. When Colin washes ashore during another terrible storm, Tess can’t help but drag him to safety. While she initially tries to stay hidden from him, their paths on this small island eventually cross, and sparks are quick to fly.

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The Harsh Reality of Coming Home

The few memories Tess has of her former pre-island life are far from happy, and remain as blurred, fiery flashbacks which come to her in the forms of nightmares. When she eventually leaves the island with Colin, her flashbacks start to become more and more clear, specifically in regards to her overbearing mother. Tess is desperate to reunite with her mother, who is also her only living family. However, her mom’s hatred of Highlanders, and ill opinion of Colin presents a complicated inner struggle for Tess. She craves the closeness and affection of her mother, yet also refuses to stand for her mother viewing Colin as a barbarian. A complicated and dramatic homecoming to be sure!

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*Disclaimer: Yes, I realize every photo I used in this post was from the show Outlander. Yes, I understand it might have been overkill.But you know what, I don’t even care! I LOVE!!!

Series: MacPherson Clan, book 6. I haven’t read any of the others, and had no trouble following along. We do see characters from the other books though.

Should you read it? Good, not great. Predictable and sweet. Tess has been independent for so long, it’s inevitable she’ll clash with her overbearing and controlling mother upon reuniting.

Smut Level: A few make-out scenes, nothing more. The best part though was when they were on the island together, and Colin has to warm Tess up after she was hiding in the cold and rain to avoid him. Time to get cozy!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.01 Kindle Price. May McGoldrick Books. 173 Pages.

 

 

Beautifully Forgotten by L.A. Fiore

A note to all the authors out there: if you’re gonna use flashbacks, for the love of God please do so carefully. I love me a good flashback, but this book had such a plethora of 16 years earlier, 14 years earlier, 16 years earlier, 23 years earlier and 16 years earlier again that it was damn near impossible to keep them in any sense of chronological order.

What’s it About?

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Successful restaurateur Lucien Black’s blue-green eyes and unattainable attitude drive women wild. But his abandonment issues and criminal past have left him emotionally closed off. When a familiar face shows up for a job interview at his nightclub, the ache he has tried to forget tears at his heart—it’s the girl who once healed him… and then abandoned him.

Darcy MacBride still remembers Lucien’s delicate touch when they were both wildly in love teenagers. His gorgeous eyes had soothed her hurt after she’d been dumped off at the orphanage where Lucien lived. Darcy felt his jagged edges fit perfectly into her own, and she’d planned to spend the rest of her life with him—until a mysterious man warned her away. Now, fourteen years later, she’s ready to endure the torture of Lucien’s indifference and having him as her boss…just to be near him. But when it seems that they might finally take up where they left off, a devastating secret buried in their past threatens to tear them apart again.

First Impressions

This is the second novel in the Beautifully Damaged series, and apparently I read the first book back in 2013. I have read hundreds of books since then, and I mean that literally. I’ll admit that I don’t always remember the specific details of a novel, or even necessarily how it ended if it’s been a while since I read it. That being said, I can usually remember the basic premise, main characters, and whether or not I liked it. However, when it comes to this series, I shockingly remember absolutely nothing about book one. Even as I progressed further into this second book, and the characters and events from book one are brought to the forefront, I can honestly say I have zero recollection of what transpired. All I have to go on is the rating I gave it on Goodreads, which was an underwhelming 2/5 stars. So…yeah…not off to a very good start.

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Oh the Flashbacks

This romance is between two people who reconnect years after they went their separate ways as teenagers. Needless to say, you can kind of expect there to be a few flashbacks to when they first fell in love at an orphanage in their younger years. Unfortunately, there’s such a multitude of flashbacks which take place out of sequence at the start of the novel, that it’s kind of hard to connect with the characters in the present. Sure, the flashbacks do help you understand more about the history and dynamic of the characters, but I feel it could have been handled a bit differently.

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Disjointed

As a whole, I felt the novel was rather disjointed, and not just in terms of the timeline of flashbacks. There were also multiple story lines at play, and some of those really focus on the two lead characters from book one, who I couldn’t for the life of me remember. This made it kind of hard to tell at times who was the main focus of the book. It sort of seemed like it could have been two different novels taking place at the same time.

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As it stands, we basically have four different lead characters, each with their own drama, side-plots and supplemental characters. Towards the end, all of the elements started coming together in one confusing jumble. There was an attempt to intertwine all of the events from this novel, book one, and all the characters, but I think it was incredibly difficult to keep everything straight. Let’s just say at the end when there was a big reveal of who was behind all the drama and blackmail I found myself exclaiming, “Now who the hell is this?”

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Series: Beautifully Damaged, book 2. Not gonna continue on with this series.

Should you read it? There were some interesting factors at play, but in the end I felt like it was hard to really connect to the story because it was so disjointed. There were so many different cases of blackmail going on I couldn’t always remember who was blackmailing whom, or even why.

Smut Level: Pretty saucy. We even have a detailed 69 scene.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 366 Pages.

 

Fair Game by Monica Murphy

Oh come on now people, let’s make good choices!

What’s it About?

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Bad enough Jade Frost’s boyfriend drags her to a boring poker game. Even worse that he actually threw her into the betting pot during an intense round…and lost. Talk about the perfect excuse for Jade to make him her ex-boyfriend.

Now she supposedly belongs to the ultra rich, extremely gorgeous Shep Prescott. He could have anything he wants yet he seems to be in hot pursuit of her. No matter how rude, how snarky, how impossible she acts, it doesn’t stop him. More like her horrible behavior seems to make him want her more.

When she finds herself starting to fall for him, Jade’s confused. There’s more to Shep than the carefree rich charmer he portrays. No way could he want a serious relationship with her…or could he?

First Impressions

Mkay, so full disclosure moment here: I have never done cocaine in my entire life. Now, I know the ole saying, “don’t knock it til you try it”, although I have a feeling whoever came up with that saying didn’t necessarily mean it in reference to trying cocaine. What can I say?! I just never understood the appeal. Personally, I’d rather spend my money on going to the movies and buttered popcorn. I also have the irrational fear that if I did try it I’d immediately sneeze it out in a cloud of white powder. Kind of ruins my street cred.

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In this book, our female lead claims that she’s never been swayed by peer pressure, yet in the next scene she’s accepting a mirror of coke from some dweebs she just met at a college party. She then proceeds to blame her close call of snorting cocaine on the fact that our main male lead, Shep (who wasn’t present at all during this exchange), gets her all confused. Sooo…yeah, not my favorite character.

Some Imperfect Lead Characters

I can’t help it, I thought Jade was a pretty annoying character, and Shep wasn’t exactly a peach himself. He wins her from her boyfriend in a card game, which I’ll admit, was the main intriguing factor that moved me to pick up this book in the first place. The fact that the next day Jade is somehow the one apologizing to Shep kind of made me lose respect for her. I know violence is never the answer to life’s problems, but Jade slapped Shep after he won her. Honestly, can’t say I would’ve done anything different if a guy treated me like a commodity to be bartered. And yet, Shep manages to make her feel guilty for the way she treated him, without any acknowledgement of how he treated her like an object. Dude, not cool! On either of their parts!

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An Imperfect Plot

So the characters obviously weren’t my favorite aspect of the novel, but there was actually a much bigger reason as to why I didn’t enjoy this particular read. It had to do with the plot. Mainly, there wasn’t much of one. At all. What we have here is a classic tale of boy meets girl, she pushes him away despite her obvious attraction to him, they find some alternative ways to pleasure each other when she’s on her period, he runs, she teases, and eventually they have sex. Boom, there, you’re done. The only real struggle of the novel came when Shep introduced Jade to his parents, and his mom proceeds to call her a gold digger. No resolution to that little issue. Their relationship seems to be purely physical, as they never really manage to have a meaningful conversation.

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Series: The Rules, book 1. I miiiiiiiight read the next one.

Should you read it? Although well written overall, I felt it was a pretty boring read. The whole novel sort of leads up to…well…nothing. Basically just them having sex, and her baking him cookies. Sad to say I don’t see them as a forever couple.

Smut Level: Jade goes from never having an orgasm during sex to having 3-4 a night. Lucky girl.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 474 Pages.