Secret Baby, Second Chance by Jane Godman

Note to self: if at any point it feels like I’m the lead in a romance novel, don’t choose that as a time to go rock climbing. It just has bad idea written all over it.

What’s it About?

She’s alive! Vincente Delaney has finally found his girlfriend, Beth Wade, who disappeared a year and a half ago, alive. But he’s shocked to discover someone with her: their child, a little girl he never knew about! Once upon a time, lone wolf Vincente never expected forever with Beth, but now he must put everything on the line to protect her and their family.

Beth was forced to leave Vincente to protect everything she held dear. But now the threat to her loved ones’ lives has reared its ugly head again. As danger approaches, she and Vincente must delve into her past to cast out the darkness jeopardizing their future.

First Impressions

Vincente hasn’t seen Beth in almost two years. Their relationship had always been filled with heated passion back then, and could best be described as an on-again/off-again tumultuous roller coaster ride. Nothing quite like loud arguments interspersed with sexy make-up sessions against a wall. When she left town two years ago, Vincente initially wrote it off as her having another heated reaction to their relationship. However, when a serial killer made his way through their small town whose victims closely resembled Beth, Vincente started to fear the worst for his long-lost beloved. It’s only after the killer was stopped at the end of the last book that Beth’s hidden location has now been discovered. Vincente is not only pleasantly surprised to discover Beth is still alive, but overwhelmingly shocked to realize she has a baby daughter in tow. The timing of everything means she left town all those months back pregnant with his child. Yeah, get yourselves ready for another one of those heated arguments!!

The Suspense of Confrontation

Hands-down, the best part of this novel was when Vincente discovered Beth’s secret location, and the confrontation which ensued over the fact that she hid the identity of their daughter from him for all this time. This is when we see the most heated and intense moments between them, where you can’t tell if Vincente will yell in frustration, storm out in anger, or shove Beth up against a wall to demonstrate that his feelings for her never went away. Or heck, maybe a nice dose of all three scenarios is in order. This is also when we find out that these characters are don’t with serial killers, as Beth admits the reason she left all those months ago was because she and the members of her rock climbing group are being threatened and picked off one by one by an unknown enemy. When the killer also uncovers Beth’s secret location, Vincente has no choice but to bring her and their child back home with him to protect them.

From Lonely Bachelor to Playful Father

Once Beth and Vincente go back to their hometown, this is when things almost progress too smoothly as far as their relationship is concerned. Vincente, who has always been the consummate bachelor, quickly transitions into the ideal dad, and he and Beth fall back into their passionate ways in no time. As members of Beth’s former rock climbing group continue to be killed, and our two leads even have a confrontation or two with the villain, we constantly wonder who the killer is and why they’re so intent on this vendetta of revenge. There’s a few curveballs and false clues thrown into the mix to keep you guessing from start to finish. I will say the ultimate reveal of the killer and their motivations, as well as the fact another member of the climbing team was suspicious of this killer for quite some time was slightly disappointing. It seemed as though the identity of the killer could have been discovered and revealed years beforehand, and without the need for additional deaths. Still, it was an intriguing and entertaining ride, with a few suspenseful scenes at the top of steep cliffs to keep you on the edge of your seat!

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

Series: Sons of Stillwater, book 3. I didn’t read books 1 or 2 in this series, but could still follow along fairly easily with the events of this book. Sure, it may have been more enjoyable to reconnect with former characters from the previous two novels, but it was still fun to meet these characters for the first time.

Final Impressions: This was a suspenseful and passionate read. Overall I think the first half was more engaging than the latter half, but it’s still entertaining on the whole. I would have liked to see more of the hot and cold dynamic between Beth and Vincente sustained into the second half, but could also understand the need to push this aside to focus attention on the murder at hand.

Smut Level: Passion and sexual chemistry was always something that Beth and Vincente had in spades. Two years apart has changed a lot of things, but certainly not that important detail!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Harlequin Romantic Suspense. 288 Pages.

Dangerous Currents by Kathryn Knight

Imagine traveling halfway across the world to escape the stresses of a former life. You’re experiencing some intense jetlag, so you decide to go for a calming walk with your dog along the beach, only to quickly discover the body of a dead woman along the way. Not exactly my idea of a relaxing beach getaway!

What’s it About?

When a costly mistake ends Malorie Montgomery’s career, she returns to Cape Cod in search of a fresh start. But her plans for a new—and quiet—life are quickly derailed when she makes a grisly discovery in the woods, and her screams bring the one person from her past she’d hoped to avoid. Dean Slater, the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart in high school, now lives in the beachfront community that was supposed to be her haven…and he’s just as hot as he was six years ago.

With his rough background, Dean always knew he wasn’t good enough for the kind, intelligent beauty who claimed his heart, but somehow he’d believed their love was strong enough to survive anything—until the tragic night she turned her back on him when he needed her trust the most. Despite their painful history, Dean can’t resist the instinct to protect her, especially when it becomes apparent there’s a killer in their town.

Their former chemistry soon reignites, but Malorie has long accepted that her dark family secret has destined her to a life alone. And when she uncovers evidence that makes her the killer’s target, a deadly confrontation threatens to destroy any possibility of a second chance.

First Impressions

This novel presents us with a second chance romance opportunity between two people from opposite sides of the track, Malorie and Dean. They fell in love senior year of high school, but their relationship deteriorated on prom night due to unfortunate misunderstandings on both their parts. Malorie was promptly whisked away to another continent for school, and it’s only now, five years later, that she returns to Cape Cod and crosses paths once again with her former flame. As if reuniting with the love of your life after so many years apart wasn’t awkward enough, Malorie and Dean’s reunion takes place after she stumbles across a dead body, and Dean came running to investigate her screams. As the murder investigation proceeds, there is some initial angst and animosity between them, but it doesn’t take long before Malorie and Dean find themselves falling back in love with each other.

From Second Chances to Murder, and Everything in Between

There were a lot of different story-lines happening in this book, each one just as gripping and entertaining as the next. There’s the slow reveal of what Malorie and Dean got wrong all those years ago, each of them starting out on a new business opportunity, opening themselves up again to the possibility of love, Malorie admitting for the first time some of the frightening battles her family has experienced with mental illness, and on top of it all the discovery at the start of the book of a murdered rape victim. Again, there’s a lot happening here!

While I did find each component thoroughly entertaining, there may have been a bit too much happening all at once. If I had to choose one story-line which probably could have been left out, or maybe incorporated more fully into the story, I’d probably have to go with the murder plot. It was definitely an exciting start to the book, and provided us with an unbelievably dramatic ending, but there was a good portion of the novel where it felt like this plot point was pushed to the side to focus instead on Malorie and Dean’s reconnection. That’s not to say it wasn’t a well constructed piece of drama! There were so many curveballs thrown in to make you suspect multiple characters of being responsible for the string of murders plaguing this small New England town. Overall though, I found myself forgetting several times throughout the read that these murders had taken place.

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

Series: Stand-alone. Considering how much was going on with this read, I almost wonder if it would have presented well as a duet series!

Final Impressions: This was an intense read that will have you wondering from start to finish who dunnit, though it was somewhat busy with all of the different stories going on. The author did employ a great use of flashbacks to reveal what happened all those years ago between Malorie and Dean, as well as the complicated relationship between Malorie and her mother. We could seamlessly flow from present, to the past and back again in a way that felt natural, as though the characters were thinking back on everything all at that very moment. In my opinion the most unexpectedly moving story was Malorie revealing the complications of her mother’s paranoid schizophrenia, and how this struggle has impacted Malorie’s outlook on the choices she can make in her own life. It was a very emotionally revealing conversation between her and Dean that I wasn’t expecting!

Smut Level: They may have been separated for the last 5 years, but their love never went anywhere. Needless to say, they have a lot of lost time to make up for! We get to see some make out scenes up against a door, in the rain, and sex scenes filled with all the passionate intensity and urgency you could hope for.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Wicked Whale Publishing. 282 Pages.

A Timeline Restored by Rebecca Hefner

A Timeline Restored by Rebecca Hefner

Alas, the series had to come to an end at some point. We all hold our breath in collective anticipation, wondering if this group of friends will finally succeed in breaking the time loop cycle they’re stuck in to save the world.

What’s it About? 

The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy…Eli Hernandez spent decades cultivating an image of fear and domination as the nefarious leader of the New Establishment. Yet, deep inside, he still clutches onto the barest hope that his irredeemable soul has vestiges of virtue. Alora Castillo lost everything one fateful day long ago as Eli looked on, unable to stop the carnage. Resolved to detest him, she must forge ahead when they are thrust together as unlikely allies. As the ragtag team of time travelers strives to reconnect with their leader, dark forces hide behind the scenes, manipulating fate as the cycle carries on. Determined to succeed and prevent the past, the team battles the evil regime, unwilling to accept failure. But accepting the yearnings of the heart requires forgiveness—a concept Alora dismissed long ago, no matter how fervently she secretly longs for Eli’s embrace. Will the team save the world and prevent President Randolph from detonating the apocalypse? Read the electrifying finale now!

First Impressions

Each and every couple in this series was just as delightful and entertaining as the last, and these two just might be my favorite of the group. There was so much angst, passion and heated history between them that you couldn’t help but root for them to acknowledge how much love and adoration was lying just beneath the surface. In any given scene you couldn’t really tell if they would fight, scream, shove the other up against the wall to tear their clothes off, or a combination of all of the above. There’s a complicated past which exists between Eli and Alora which was constantly pulling them together, yet pushing them apart at the same time.

An Unforgivable Past

The history of Eli and Alora is fraught with tension, pain and distrust. Years ago, Eli’s father killed Alora’s entire family, and while he couldn’t find a way to save them all, Eli was able to convince his father to spare Alora’s life. Throughout the years they’ve been enemies, constantly fighting against each other. However, only recently have they discovered they’re actually allies, as Eli has secretly been finding ways to support their rebel cause and mission to bring down the New Establishment which is set on world domination. When Alora is captured by these enemy forces, Eli once again has to use his cunning to think of a way to rescue her. What better solution than to suggest a marriage of convenience? Loooove it!

While Eli is constantly demonstrating his will to protect Alora, there is still an underlying distrust she feels towards this man. After all, she’ll constantly associate him with that terrible day when her family was gunned down in front of her. They always say “actions speak louder than words”, and Eli’s actions certainly express an unbreakable devotion to Alora, but she still finds it difficult to accept his help towards her and her friends. When he eventually declares his love for Alora she sees it as the ultimate challenge to forgive and forget a past which has influenced her entire trajectory in life. It’s easy for us to berate Alora’s decision to constantly push Eli away, especially when we consider how many times he’s risked his own life to protect her. I lost count of the moments when I wanted to exclaim, “oh just forgive him already!” However, it’s also crucial for us to remember that tragic moment from their shared past which makes us understand why it is so difficult for her to pull Eli into her arms.

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

Series: Prevent the Past, book 3. Something I loved about this entire series was that in addition to being presented with an engaging couple, we’re always exposed to a strong and admirable female lead. This final book in the series was no exception to that delightful feature!

Final Impressions: Eli and Alora were certainly a captivating couple of characters, but just as entertaining was the family we’ve followed throughout this entire series. They’re not necessarily a family bound by blood, though some are unknowingly connected in that way. Rather, they’re a family of their own choosing. They’ve fallen in step with each other, and are honored to fight and die by each other. It was such a beautiful and honest form of familial devotion. We are constantly kept guessing as to how this team will succeed in saving the world, and if it’s even possible to break out of the time cycle loop in which they constantly fail in their ultimate goal. It’s a fun guessing game right up to the very end. The final aspect of this novel which I enjoyed was the fact that while Eli was the first to say he loved Alora, and constantly tried to fight for her affection, in the end we see that she must now fight for him. The fate of their relationship didn’t just lie in one or the other, but instead they each had to step up to the plate.

Smut Level: Eli and Alora have a chemistry which is off-the-charts explosive.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 218 Pages. 

Shot Through the Heart by Andrea Downing

This is definitely a meet-cute for the record books. After all, how often does a female lead meet the man of her dreams by having to pull glass shards out of his finely-toned bum?

What’s it About? 

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Gunslinger Shiloh Coltrane has returned home to work the family’s Wyoming ranch, only to find there’s still violence ahead. His sister and nephew have been murdered, and the killers are at large.

Dr. Sydney Cantrell has come west to start her medical practice, aiming to treat the people of a small town. As she tries to help and heal, she finds disapproval and cruelty the payment in kind.

When the two meet, it’s an attraction of opposites. As Shiloh seeks revenge, Sydney seeks to do what’s right. Each wants a new life, but will trouble or love find them first?

First Impressions

These two definitely have chemistry that is off the charts! Even though neither was actively looking for love, once they find each other they discover it’s darn near impossible to stop thinking about the other. Something that I truly appreciated about this read was that while their attraction and connection was practically immediate, we’re really taken on a journey for Sydney and Shiloh to accept the other into their lives. Sydney especially has the most difficulty in acknowledging her feelings for this gunslinger.

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After all, she’s a doctor dedicated to saving lives, whereas he’s seemingly an expert at ending them. How can she align herself with such a man when their very morals are so out of sync? Shiloh also finds himself on a journey of acceptance when it comes to Sydney, ultimately coming to understand and appreciate the fact that she’s a female doctor. Considering the time period our novel is set in, men accepting women into the medical profession was less than standard, and Shiloh has his initial hesitancies upon first meeting this beautiful newcomer. However, he quickly comes to admire and commend her intelligence, as well as her dedication to saving others. He’s the first to admit that he wants this woman in his life forever, but he’ll have to exercise patience for her to realize the same.

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From One Part to the Next

The most compelling aspect of this read, other than the chemistry of our two lead characters, was the format. We’re presented with a story of love, revenge, and suspense, and what initially seems like the climax of the entire book is actually just the end of Part 1, falling at the halfway point of the overall story. There was so much more to come! The first part of the book really focused on Shiloh and Sydney coming together. Part 2 features Sydney figuring out her place in life and acknowledging that what is most important to her was vastly different than what she ever could have conceived. The third and final part features Shiloh’s ultimate revenge in seeking out his sister’s killer.

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Each section of the novel was just as intriguing and engaging as the one which came before it. The only disappointing feature of the format was the fact that for the two latter sections we see how Shiloh and Sydney spend most of the time separated from each other in a physical sense. Their connection was so strong in part 1, and while we get to see a few explosive instances of it in parts 2 and 3, the fact they were so far apart meant we noticed their lack of proximity even more fully. Throughout so much of the last half of the book I was craving their eventual reunion with every turn of the page.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: The characters in this historical western romance were an absolute treat, even though by the end you just wanted to push them both into a room and lock the door so they could resolve their differences once and for all. Beyond the characters you also have to appreciate the descriptive scenes of the wilds of Wyoming and Colorado. The land practically became another character, and it was easy to envision the scenes laid out before us any time we closed our eyes.

Smut Level: The flirtations between Shiloh and Sydney will keep you blushing, and this read is all about the build-up to their eventual physical connection.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 241. Pages

Ghost Moon by Kathryn Knight

Inheriting an old, rundown house from a distant family member would be stressful enough. This house comes with the added bonus of a creepy, crying ghost.

What’s it About? 

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When Lark Cavanaugh’s life in New York City falls apart, she’s left reeling from a staggering betrayal. She escapes to Cape Cod, where a distant relative has left her an old house with a tragic past. Rumors of a haunting presence plague the abandoned home, but Lark doesn’t believe in ghosts…until she has no choice.

After completing his military duty, veterinarian Jesse Holt returns to his small hometown to take over his father’s practice. He soon finds himself drawn to the alluring redhead now living next door, but she has made her intentions clear—she’s moving back to the city as soon as possible. When frightening events threaten her safety, though, he can’t deny his protective instincts.

Unable to fight their feelings, they give in to desire…but another battle looms. Lark’s arrival has awakened a decades-old mystery, and the truth of what happened at Holloway House will only be revealed when it claims yet another life.

First Impressions

Lark is a bit down on her luck when she moves to a small New England town after leaving her cheating fiance, and inheriting an old house from a distant family member. Her luck seemingly plummets even more when she discovers her new home is being haunted by a despondent ghost, and her cat goes into a state of shock from these spooky new surroundings. However, there’s a bright light in the form of her neighbor, a sexy veterinarian who is inclined to help Lark get to the bottom of this haunting…and maybe spend some time together in the bedroom. I must say the characters in this novel were the standout feature from start to finish. Jesse, our veterinary hero, is an absolute dreamboat.

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I appreciated the fact that he never thought Lark’s descriptions of her ghostly encounters were the result of her being crazy, or out of touch with reality. He believed her from day one. As for our female lead, you have to admire her tenacity when facing this ghost. As mysterious happenings start to occur with more frequency, you almost want Lark to get angry and scream out, “Just tell me what you want already!” Or maybe that’s just what I would be tempted to do in a similar situation. Enough with the creepy crying and shoving picture frames off of walls, simply tell me what you need to move on. Instead, we see a beautiful reflection of sympathy emerge from Lark as she contemplates how this ghost could very well be a family member, and she feels obligated to help. The ability to tap into those feelings of compassion, even when fearing what this ghost might be capable of, truly spoke to the strength of her character.

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A Haunting and a Romance

While Lark and Jesse try to get to the bottom of who this ghost is, and why he/she has unfinished business, we see a relationship start to develop between them. Lark is hesitant to place too much blind faith in Jesse following a recently horrendous breakup with her fiance, but this mysterious haunting constantly brings these two together. I was definitely a fan of the mystery surrounding this haunting, as well as witnessing the development of Jesse and Lark’s romance, but I do think the intermingling of the two story lines was slightly off balance. Personally, I would have liked to see a bit more interaction between Lark and her ghostly companion interspersed throughout the book. While I certainly appreciated the fact that Lark never broke down or cowered in the presence of this apparition, I would have loved to see a scene where Lark and the ghost actually exchanged a few words in conversation. Instead the ghost always dissipates when Lark tries to initiate a discussion.

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Throughout the novel we’re constantly wondering how it was that this ghost met their untimely end, and ultimately we see everything play out in a climactic vision towards the very end of the book. This was definitely a suspenseful final scene, but it would have been neat to see Lark personally uncover more of the details surrounding this mystery as the story progressed. Instead we see her rely more on the town gossip which Jesse reports back to her, rather than doing any of the investigating herself. For example, Jesse’s mother proves to be a useful resource in providing some of the history behind the house and the previous owners, and yet we never see a scene involving Lark speaking to his mother directly. All of these conversations happen “off-screen”, and we see Jesse come back to Lark with a brief summary. Ultimately I was fully enthralled with the final reveal of who this ghost was, but I wanted more snippets of this story to emerge throughout the book rather than saving everything for one final reveal at the end.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: I’m not always a huge fan of ghost stories, but Kathryn Knight’s are proving to be some of my favorites. The characters constantly draw you in, and you can’t help but wonder how everything will come together. While I really loved Jesse and Lark’s connection, it did seem at times that our ghost story was kind of pushed aside to focus more on their romance. It left the novel feeling slightly unbalanced, especially when we see all of our questions answered in one final vision at the very end of the book. However, it was still an exciting read that had an interesting mix of romance, suspense, adorable animals, a passionate moment in the rain, and a ghost with a tale to tell.

Smut Level: Jesse is a dream! A love machine who can bring a bit of steam 🙂

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Wicked Whale Publishing. 213 Pages.

Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

After crash landing in the Amazon, Aimee needs to rely on Tristan to survive. As time progresses, she realizes he needs her just as much. A story of survival, mutual reliance, and love.

What’s it About?

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En route to a tropical paradise, overworked and dedicated Aimee Myller is ready to begin her new life. But when the plane defects, the pilot, sexy Tristan Bress, needs to make an emergency landing in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. With no way to reach civilisation, being rescued is their only hope. A slim one that withers away, desperation taking its place. Because death wanders in the jungle under many forms: starvation, disease, and fangs of beasts.

Forced to fend for themselves, Tristan and Aimee begin to forage for food and shelter. As they fight for survival, they grow closer. Despite knowing he’s off limits, Aimee can’t deny her attraction to Tristan. Tristan knows Aimee is the one woman he can’t have. But how can he fight love when she’s slowly becoming everything to him?

First Impressions

In a way, this story is more so one of survival than romance. The whole novel is sort of a slow build to Aimee and Tristan finally giving into their desire for each other, but essentially every scene from the moment they crash land on this hill in the Amazon involves them engaged in tasks of ensuring their survival. While some are intense, such as a face-off battle with a jaguar, for the most part we kind of focus on the monotony of their daily struggles. Light the signal fire, gather more wood, fruit, take a shower, practice weaponry, sleep, and repeat the next day. Pretty repetitive, and not always the most forward moving plot, but in a way you have to appreciate the realism of that scenario. These two are on their own, and they needed to be stranded for some time in order for us to believe, and more importantly support, the development of their relationship. The longer they spend in the jungle, the more their hope for rescue withers away, in addition to their hope of keeping their hands off of each other.

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A Slow Burning Flame

As Aimee and Tristan struggle to survive, we see their relationship slowly build into something more significant. This slow progression was something which I particularly appreciated. Tristan has always had a bit of a thing for Aimee, and while she’s always treated him cordially, they were far from friends. Upon first landing, he’s pretty quiet and tries to keep to himself, whereas Aimee seeks solace in talking so as not to go crazy at being so far removed from civilization. Only as time passes do they start to open up to each other. They slowly start to discuss their favorite foods, colors, flowers, etc. but eventually they get to some more emotional details of their pasts. Tristan eventually opens up about the horrors he experienced as a solider in Afghanistan, and Aimee discusses the untimely death of her parents who were absent, yet loving, for most of her life.

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Throughout this time she forces herself to stop thinking of her fiancé, because the thought of him searching and waiting for her is too hard to bare. Only when a few months have passed, and Aimee starts sleeping next to Tristan to calm his night terrors, does she start to feel something stirring within her. Surprisingly, it’s not really passion or even lust, but rather guilt. Guilt over the fact she’s starting to feel something for this man which goes beyond friendship. She feels it’s a betrayal to her fiancé. Aimee may have forced herself not to think of her fiancé, but now she can’t help but remember him in those moments where Tristan’s touch makes her feel alive. This inner quandary she’s fighting with, in addition to the fact she and Tristan didn’t immediately fall in love, makes us sympathize with her difficult emotional struggle.

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From Monotony to Bursts of Suspense

While the first half or so of the novel deals with Aimee and Tristan struggling to survive, the bulk of the suspense to the plot doesn’t really come around until the end of the book, and it’s just jam-packed with calamity after calamity. It had me holding my breath in anticipation more than once, and near tears with the desperation our characters display when presented with the very legitimate possibility of losing the other person. You really do question if either of these characters will make it out of the jungle alive, and if they do whether their love will survive the transition back into the real world.

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Series: Stand-Alone

Final Impressions: Overall this is a pretty good read. It’s a story of survival and love in the jungle. The progression of Tristan and Aimee’s relationship from acquaintances to friends to family is an intriguing one that is built upon openness and emotional trust. There were parts of the story that lagged with the repetitive monotony of survival in the jungle, though I definitely think I learned some good survival skills along the way. Although, the bugs, snakes and jaguars of the Amazon would still probably kill me in the end! There was a heartbreaking epilogue that I actually probably could have done without, as it seemed like a last minute attempt to pull some tears outta ya, but overall an entertaining read.

Smut Level: It takes quite some time for anything physical to develop between Aimee and Tristan, which was an aspect I certainly appreciated. Any other way and it would have seemed forced, and it probably would have been more difficult to sympathize with Aimee’s decision to sleep with someone who wasn’t her fiancé. Nothing toooooo graphic when all is said and done.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 262 Pages.

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Phantom by Barbara Meyers

Zoe is torn between her newfound relationship with a dashing man named Aaron, and her sexual escapades with a mysterious man she refers to as the “phantom”. Little does she know these two men are actually one and the same.

What’s it About? 

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A desperate woman. A disillusioned spy. A doomed mission.

Zoe Bradford will do anything to find her brother Ben, a missing missionary in Latin America. Even if it means sleeping with an anonymous stranger in order to finance a rescue mission.

Covert operative Aaron Manning doesn’t believe a “normal” life is possible for him. But the bizarre arrangement he creates with Zoe makes him more determined to step out of the shadows permanently in order to achieve his dream.

Zoe wants to believe in Aaron’s promise to save Ben, but she finds it impossible to fully trust him. When she blunders into the carefully orchestrated op, her interference nearly kills them all.

Aaron must fake his own death to start a new life, but Zoe still needs answers. And when her phantom lover makes contact again, a pregnant Zoe knows the only way to move forward is to learn his true identity.

When she discovers the man she’s in love with and the phantom who duped her are one and the same, will she be willing to forgive them both?

First Impressions

First things first, let’s start things off with the synopsis. I remember reading this overview right before cracking open my kindle to kick off the book and thinking, my goodness that’s a lot of detail jam packed in there. So I just soldiered on with the read, not thinking much about the synopsis once I got started. However, looking back on it now I must say it’s almost too much detail in that it gives away a few crucial plot points! Some of the specifics it mentioned were in fact some of the bigger surprise moments of the read for me, so in hindsight I’m kind of happy I forgot about all of the things the synopsis revealed ahead of time. Does this mean you should skip the synopsis? Nah, not necessarily. But maybe just give it a quick glance before you dive into the world of our characters 🙂

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A Love Triangle for Two

There are a lot of plot points going on throughout this book to keep you engaged. From Zoe’s missing brother to Aaron’s dangerous job, old enemies and lost loved ones. And yet, the most fascinating aspect of the whole story for me would have to be the psychological component behind this love triangle which emerges between Zoe, her mystery phantom, and Aaron. Our novel begins with Zoe in desperate need of money. She needs to build up some savings to hopefully pay a ransom and retrieve her missing missionary brother. Salvation apparently arrives in the form of an envelope filled with cash, and instructions for Zoe to travel to a discreet location. If she offers her body to the man at this locale, keeping the lights off throughout, and remaining silent, she’ll get even more money. What starts off as the most unusual of meet cutes quickly develops into a relationship of passion between Zoe and her “phantom”.

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And then Zoe meets Aaron, a seemingly nice guy in a bookstore who wants to get to know her. Unlike her primarily physical and transactional relationship with the phantom, her time with Aaron is spent getting to know each other, and has an emotional foundation. Not to mention the ability to actually converse with one another. However, it’s truly captivating to see Zoe struggle to take things further with Aaron, and her loyalties seemingly lie with the phantom who came into her life first. We see that beyond their sexual relationship, the phantom provided Zoe with a sense of autonomy and independence which had been lacking in her life for so long. She learns to live again, be desired again, and the phantom is continually providing her with the financial means necessary to take matters into her own hands by rescuing her brother. The fact that Aaron and the phantom are actually the same person lends even more depth and fascination behind this supposed love triangle, and constantly makes you question what Zoe will do when she uncovers the truth behind their identities.

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A Rescue Mission Gone Wrong

While Zoe’s inner musings regarding her relationships with Aaron and the phantom proved to be most captivating, the drama surrounding the rescue of her brother from mining criminals presented a bit of a quandary. I could both understand Zoe’s approach to this rescue mission, yet also couldn’t help but feel that she was being rather nonsensical at times. When Zoe discovers that Aaron is a covert spy, she implores him to do whatever is necessary to save her missing brother. She’s even willing to give Aaron all the money she’s saved from her sexual exploits with the phantom. When Aaron initially rejects her request for help, we see the first fracture of their relationship. After more pleading, Aaron eventually acquiesces, but says he won’t collect the money until after he returns from his attempt to retrieve her brother. Seems like a fairly sympathetic offer, yes? Yeaaaah, not so much. Zoe becomes enraged at the fact Aaron won’t take her money, not to mention that he refuses to allow her to tag along on his journey through the jungle.

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How can she trust that he’ll actually go? How does she know he won’t come back after a week’s vacation, and say he either couldn’t find her brother, or that he was dead? Mkay, totally logical concerns. Although the fact he didn’t immediately jump at the chance to take her money means he probably didn’t have any intention to just walk off with it. However, my biggest confusion came once Zoe decided to just traipse off on her own to locate her brother, and ultimately runs into Aaron in the jungle with his bad-ass team of spies who have also set out to rescue her sibling. Now, if it were me, and I ran into 4 burly, surly commandos in camouflage and carrying some intense firepower, I’d probably trust them to get the job done. As for Zoe? She’s still determined to try and ditch them in an attempt to rescue her brother by herself. But…why? At this point Zoe merely suspects Aaron and her phantom might be one and the same, but it’s not confirmed 100%, meaning she really has no reason to distrust Aaron when he says he’ll do whatever he can to bring her brother back home. It was an argument I had trouble wrapping my head around!

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: All in all, this was an interesting read that presented us with some rather fascinating psychological debates. From Zoe’s difficulty at opening herself up to love again following the death of her husband and child, to her questioning loyalties for the two men she’s grown to care for, we’re constantly wondering how things will come to pass. Looking back, I will say the synopsis was far too revealing in some of the exciting plot developments which took place throughout the story. At times it was tricky to follow the reasoning behind the decisions of our lead characters, including Aaron’s initial ruse to give money to Zoe in exchange for sex in the dark with no conversation, as well as Zoe both asking for and then refusing Aaron’s help to save her brother. Overall though, it portrays two characters who aren’t necessarily perfect, who battle with their inner demons and past traumas, but can find love and comfort in each other’s arms.

Smut Level: They may have kept the lights off, but Zoe’s sexual delights with the phantom were red hot!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Sandalstring Productions. 364 Pages

Other Works by this Author

A Paradox of Fates by Rebecca Hefner

Lainey is determined to succeed in her quest to solve time travel. It’s her destiny. But when hunky military captain, Hunter, comes along she starts to question if fate has something else in store for her.

What’s it About? 

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One woman bred to save the world…

Dr. Elaine “Lainey” Randolph was born with one sole purpose: to prevent the past. With her brilliant mind and unwavering spirit, she works tirelessly to solve the equations that will finally unlock the mystery of time travel. Then, she will leave the post-apocalyptic future her grandfather created and travel back in time to prevent his calamitous actions.

When handsome military captain Hunter Rhodes appears at Lainey’s remote scientific hub, he offers her protection. But there are strings attached to the mysterious soldier’s proffer, and Lainey finds herself wary of the man who stokes unwelcome longing and desire in her unemotional heart. For Lainey is a scientist, obdurate and dispassionate toward the notion of romantic love.

As Lainey’s band of ragtag scientists and loyal soldiers endeavor to escape the dystopian future, the evil New Establishment threatens to destroy them all. In their unpredictable timeline, the nefarious regime has become all-powerful and will stop at nothing to ensure complete world domination…

First Impressions

This is the second series I’ve seen from Ms. Hefner, and she once again does a fantastic job at presenting us with a world so unique and distinct from our own that you can’t help but be drawn in from page one. However, we also see hints of the familiar strewn throughout this environment that connects us to the characters living within. And what characters they are! There’s Lainey, our devoted scientist who is hell bent to save mankind from the dastardly deeds of her family in the past. She’s a pillar of strength, intelligence, yet there’s also a sprinkling of vulnerability that chips away at this hardened shell she’s built around herself.

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There’s Hunter, the military captain who is a complete stranger to Lainey and her crew, who presents an image of strength and protection, yet also has a soft side to his personality which allows him to get close to Lainey in spite of her protests. And last but not least, there are Lainey’s friends and fellow compatriots. As a unit, they are set and determined in their goal to make a better future for the world by changing the events of the past. Beyond this joint mission though, we see the individual personalities of each character come through to the forefront, and you become entranced by their stories, pains, and tales of love. The plot of the novel is strong, but it’s really these characters the author has created which provide the essential foundation to our own commitment of discovering what fate has in store for them.

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Her Life’s Mission

Since the moment she was born, it has been instilled in Lainey that she has one sole purpose in life. She’s spent her whole life training, studying, and striving to be the savior the world desperately needs. To decipher the possibility of time travel, go back, and prevent the launch of the dystopian future which is their current reality. But in the quest for that noble cause we sadly discover that she has never really had the chance to live a life of her own choosing. Only once did Lainey allow herself to entertain the idea of falling in love, and it ended in such catastrophe that she’s convinced herself she’s not worthy of romance. Rather, the mission of preventing the past, “…was her sole reason for existing. There was no room to focus on anything else.”

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That all changes when Hunter Rhodes comes strutting into her life with a toothpick between his lips. Who knew such a habit could be so damn sexy, or that Hunter’s oral fixation would quickly become her fixation as well? Hint hint, wink wink. Hunter helps Lainey realize that while they can still fight the good fight to bring down a common enemy, there’s more to life than this one mission. There’s passion, companionship, friendship and love. He shows her how to finally start living life by giving into her desires. Deciphering time travel might be time consuming, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t also time for a little canoodling on the side. It was fascinating to see how deep-rooted Lainey’s beliefs about her reason for existing truly were, and how they threatened her relationship with Hunter as she continually tried to close herself off from him to focus once again on the mission.

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Traveling Through Space and Time

The most exciting aspect of any time travel story is discovering the idiosyncrasies of how the space-time continuum works in this particular world. Will interacting with people from the past drastically change the events of the future? Or is it actually the destined fate for all of these interactions to happen in order for the future to be the way it is? Can anyone actually change the past? For Lainey and her ragtag crew, they’re so devoted to their mission that they’ll travel back as many times as necessary to prevent the horrors of the past from happening so they can ensure a better future for the world. Even if they find themselves stuck on an endless loop where the enemy continually succeeds, they’ll keep going back in the hopes of finding the path that leads to victory. Our novel ends with these characters still in the midst of their mission, so while we don’t see a conclusion by the end of this first novel, one thing we know for sure is they’ll never give up in their quest for good to prevail against evil.

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

Series: Prevent the Past, book 1. I am so continuing on with this series. No question.

Final Impressions: Ms. Hefner presents us with a fascinating and chaotic world, not to mention a slew of lovable characters that intrigue us readers from page one. We’re so invested in finding out what will become of them, and how they might succeed when so many elements seem to stand in their way. It’s definitely an underdog story, and the fact it’s being led by a strong, smart female makes it all the more gripping. As is often the case with time travel tales, there were a few times where I found it difficult to wrap my head around the scientific repercussions being discussed, but as long as you keep an open mind when it comes to the logistics you’ll be fine! Aside from Lainey and Hunter, I also fell in love with so many of the other characters that I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in future books!

Smut Level: It might take a while before Lainey finally lets her guard down to allow Hunter into her life in the physical sense, but once she does? Hot daaaaaamn. These two don’t hold anything back, and they seem to have a propensity for dirty talk that’s simply delightful.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 232 Pages.

The Reluctant Savior by Rebecca Hefner

Just when you thought this paranormal romance series couldn’t get any better, author Rebecca Hefner delivers in the best way possible!

What’s it About? 

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Evie, daughter of virtuous Princess Rina and malicious Deamon King Crimeous, is a woman torn in half. The first centuries of her life taught her fervent lessons about pain and suffering. For ages, she suppressed her mother’s noble blood, crafting a reality where she was drifting along, needing no one. Until an ancient prophecy calls to her, possibly creating a purpose for her squalid existence.

Kenden has commanded the Slayer army for a thousand years. Strong, cunning and loyal, he longs for the day when Crimeous has been defeated and he can settle down to build a family. Focused on conquering the Dark Lord, he is stunned when Evie makes a brazen demand that must be fulfilled before she chooses to fight with them.

Although incensed by Evie’s ultimatum, Kenden has never desired a woman more than the flame-haired vixen. Though she stirs his ire, he also has a deep well of compassion for the beauty who suffered so much trauma centuries ago. Together they train, and by night their connection grows, building toward the moment when they will battle her father. But, in the end, Evie has a choice and struggles to espouse righteousness over malevolence. For, when one’s worst fears are exposed, the evil is so much easier to embrace…

First Impressions

I have been waiting for Evie and Kenden’s story since the first book in this series. With each passing novel their chemistry and teasing nature has slowly developed, and my craving for what would inevitably be a complicated relationship between them has continued to grow as well. I’m so pleased to say that this fourth installment of the Etherya’s Earth series does not disappoint, both in terms of the romance between Evie and Kenden, and the final climactic battle between good and evil which we’ve seen building throughout the series.

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Vampires and Slayers alike believe that Evie is the fated being to fulfill the ancient prophecy of defeating her evil Deamon father, King Crimeous. She’s hesitant to join their forces, but eventually she identifies the one thing that will finally get her to agree. That would be Kenden. She wants him. He wants her. And yet, he constantly denies them the release they’re both craving, so Evie declares a fantastically delicious ultimatum. She’ll agree to bring down her father, but only if she can get Kenden in her bed. For his part, Kenden believes in monogamy, and giving himself fully to one woman at a time. He refuses to go for a quick tussle between the sheets with Evie, so when she offers her proposition he agrees on one condition. For every time they do the horizontal mambo, Kenden and Evie also have to go out on a date to get to know each other better. You gotta love these two! They both give as good as they get.

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Love and Turmoil

I mean, what’s not to love about the premise of these two finally coming together?! With every date, Kenden manages to dig deeper to understanding the complicated character that is Evie. She is the definition of a troubled heroine. One with a painful past and a darkness within her that is constantly trying to take over. As these two strong-willed characters spend more time together, Evie discovers that her attraction to Kenden isn’t merely grounded in the physical, but rather he represents a calming figure whom she can identify and enjoy spending time with. Both within and outside of the bedroom. However, amidst this pull she feels towards Kenden, we also witness a deep inner turmoil which is constantly threatening to force the two apart.

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As we mentioned, Evie is a troubled character, possibly even more so than her brother who was the focus of the third novel. Whereas he experienced some brief moments of affection from their mother during his childhood, by the time Evie came along her mother was completely broken from the constant abuse of Crimeous. She has never known love, but rather only heartache, pain, torture, and rape. Her blood runs with that of her evil father, which makes Evie think she’s not worthy of anyone’s love. But Kenden can recognize the soft side to her nature, and refuses to give up on her. The more he inserts himself in her life, the more she falls for him, but also the more she tries to convince herself that he’s merely trying to win her over so she’ll fight on their side in the upcoming battle against evil. The constant turmoil these characters face in terms of loving, yet also questioning each other, was a fascinating give and take you can’t possibly turn away from.

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

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 4. Imagine my utter shock and surprise to discover that this won’t be the last we’ll see of this series! The epilogue provides us with a set-up for a fifth book, and I am so excited to continue on with this series. Definitely some of the best novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading in 2019.

Final Impressions: A stellar read from start to finish. You’re constantly wondering if Evie will ultimately give into the dark side of her personality, and if she does whether or not Kenden will succeed in bringing her back to the light. I absolutely loved the fact that interspersed throughout Kenden and Evie’s tale we caught glimpses of the origin story to Crimeous’ evil past. Something else we saw littered throughout the novel were two side romances involving some of our favorite supporting characters. While I adored these tales, I did question at times how they were interwoven into the overall book, as they sort of distracted us from the main story. Especially considering we’ll have another book in store for us, I wonder if it would have been better to save at least one of these side romances for book 5. Overall though, an incredibly suspenseful tale with amazing characters!

Smut Level: Evie’s ability to remove clothing with her mind proves to be particularly useful in her interactions with Kenden.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 248 Pages.

Seismic Crimes by Chrys Fey

It’s hard to tell at times if Mother Nature is throwing everything she has at our main characters in an attempt to crush them, or to bring them closer together.

What’s it About?

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An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane–Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer’s location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?

First Impressions

This sequel literally picks up right where book one left off, in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane which initially brought our two main characters into each other’s lives. Similar to the first book, we see mystery, intrigue and suspense woven into the plot as Donovan and Beth struggle to bring the corrupt cops who killed Donovan’s brother to justice. While Hurricane Crimes was a quick, action-packed novella at just under 50 pages, this longer sequel provides our characters the opportunity to truly get to know one another in a somewhat slower-paced setting. As the disaster of the hurricane starts to recede, Donovan and Beth are able to connect on a deeper, emotional level as she comforts him in his grief.

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Beth becomes a shoulder to cry on, and a voice of encouragement to Donovan. She had to cope with the death of her parents all by herself years before, and as Donovan struggles with feelings of remorse and guilt following the loss of his brother, Beth is able to offer him comfort in a way she never had. There are moments where Donovan’s strength seeps out of him completely, and it’s through these heart-breakingly tender scenes that we see how Beth draws him back up on his feet. You couldn’t help but wonder at the end of book one whether these two would last beyond the initial drama which brought them together, but as this second story progresses it’s clear that they’re meant to last. It’s not as though one character is always the damsel in distress coming to rescue the other, but rather they manage to find strength in each other in a way which proves their love is the real deal.

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Hurricane vs. Earthquake

Throughout the first book I was shocked at how the author managed to make the hurricane which blasted against Donovan and Beth feel like a primary character. When I found out this second book would present our lovers with another natural disaster in the form of an earthquake, I couldn’t help but think, “well…that’ll certainly be easier to deal with than a hurricane.” What can I say?! An earthquake seemed like a rather quick disaster compared to the lengthy and thunderous rampage of a hurricane. Boy oh boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong! We once again see Mother Nature referenced as a formidable force that simultaneously seems to have it out for our main characters, yet also manages to save them in their hour of need.

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At one point Beth compares the calamities which have befallen her and Donovan, and relates how the hurricane was preferable compared to the earthquake in that you can prepare for the former, whereas the latter can unexpectedly hit at any time. Although the earthquake is over in a matter of minutes, the brilliance in the description of this second disaster comes more in the aftermath rather than the event itself. On the one hand, we see the heartlessness of some who take advantage of the hectic nature of the fallout through selfishness and stealing. And yet, in the next scene we’re presented with the juxtaposition of that greed through selfless acts of heroism by some characters. I’ll admit it damn near brought tears to my eyes to see how, in times where all hope appeared lost, there were those who banded together to help complete strangers all in the name of good. No demand for reward or payback, but rather proof that sometimes the beauty of the human spirit can surprise you.

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

Series: Disaster Crimes, book 2. Technically you don’t have to read book 1 to understand the events of this novel, but I think you still might as well read it. It is only 43 pages after all! This sequel ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but it isn’t one that will leave you feeling annoyed. Rather, you can’t wait to see what might happen next!

Final Impressions: This was a great follow-up to the Disaster Crimes series. While there was certainly suspense and intrigue as Donovan and Beth chase after his brother’s killer, the first part of the novel slows things down a bit so that our characters have the chance to simply “be” with each other. True, they’re struggling with immense grief and heartache, but it allows them (and us) the opportunity to get to know who the other person truly is. Towards the half-way point we switch gears once again to get back to the suspenseful side of the story, but it was this first part that was the most revealing and poignant in my opinion. Their struggle to combat Donovan’s grief was an intense fight, but it demonstrated that these two are stronger together than they could ever be apart.

Smut Level: In the first novella Donovan and Beth initially explored their desire while hiding out in a bathtub. In this second novel they’re excited to have the chance to take their time getting to know every inch of each other’s bodies, and in a comfy bed no less!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 284 Pages.