Bad Boy, Big Heart by Andrea Downing

The trickiest thing when it comes to summer romances? There’s always a time limit. Sooner or later, the summer must come to an end.

What’s it About? 

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When New Yorker K.C. Daniels heads to Wyoming for a summer job, she wants nothing more than to fit in with the staff of the Lazy S Ranch. Yearning to be independent of her mom and dad, and have a taste of the west before she starts her Master’s degree, getting involved with a cowboy is the last thing on her mind—especially when she’s greeted with warnings about ‘Bad Boy’ Chay Ridgway.

High school dropout Chay Ridgway sees summer as his time to be a rodeo star and win a girl in his life, while facing the responsibilities he has for his father. Although working to bring in cash to help his dad, he’s never had a problem finding a woman who’s happy to be that summer love—until K.C. Daniels appears on the scene. As two different worlds collide in a season that will end all too soon, is this going to be another summer romance or a love that will last for years?

First Impressions

Upon first meeting Chay, we as the audience have the same assumptions about his character that K.C. does. He’s a player. A bad boy. A high school drop out. He might be a good fling for a summer romance, but for an actual relationship? Probably more work than it’s worth in just the span of the summer. However, as the summer progresses, we learn that underneath Chay’s carefree attitude is a loving man who has his hands full. He had to take on the responsibilities of an adult early on in life. Taking care of both his ailing father and his crumbling homestead proved too difficult to tackle in addition to high school, hence his decision to drop out. Since then he’s had a one track mind of building up his family home to it’s former glory. Having a relationship with a woman beyond just a summer is something he has no interest or time for. Until of course K.C. comes along. We see that his number one priorities start to shift as he gets to know this city girl.

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The Difficulties of a Summer Romance

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As with any summer romance novel, emotions develop rather quickly between Chay and K.C. They recognize early on that something about their attraction to each other is different than anything they’ve experienced before, and they want to take a chance on a relationship. The switch from summer fling to full on relationship is something I wish had been explored just a bit more. As a novella, it’s already a pretty short read, and it seemed like one minute K.C. was debating whether or not to give Chay a chance, and the next she’s willing to change her future plans to accommodate him into her life for the long haul.

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What I particularly liked about this novella is that it wasn’t just a summer romance. It was also a summer for growing up, and this applied to both our lead characters. K.C. has come to Wyoming to get a break from her overbearing parents. She feels she has to do what they say as they paid for her undergraduate education, and will soon be paying for her MA degree and living expenses for graduate school in New York City. Definitely a pretty penny right there! Her time with Chay though shows her that some things are worth fighting for, and she’s willing to break out on her own from her parents if it means a possible future with the cowboy.

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Chay too grows as a person during his summer with K.C. He’s finally willing to give his heart to a woman, and take a chance on love. As the novella progresses it seems damn near impossible that they’ll end up together considering everything standing in their way. Will she give up school to be with him? Will the rugged cowboy take on the skyscrapers of the Big Apple? Can they try a long distance relationship for two whole years? And then you have K.C.’s high class parents who decide to come out West for a little visit with their daughter. What else could possibly happen?

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

Series: Heart of the Boy, book 1. I can’t wait to see what happens next in this series.

Should you read it? I think I would have preferred if this were a full length novel instead of a novella. While I really did love the story and the delightful characters, I also couldn’t help but feel that certain elements were a bit too rushed. From the romance itself to some interesting dramatic moments, I guess I just wanted more! I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series though, which will be full-length and continue on in the romance between our city girl and her cowboy.

Smut Level: Nothing too scandalous.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 94 Pages.

 

West of Forgotten by Lynda J. Cox

A secluded Wyoming ranch set in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like the ideal place for romance to bloom. I seriously need to take a trip to Wyoming.

What’s it About? 

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Banished from civilization to the Wyoming Territory, U.S. Marshal Harrison Taylor holds a deed to half the Lazy L. He isn’t sure why his beautiful new partner, Rachel Leonard, doesn’t trust him. He has to convince her he is nothing like the man who abused her and must earn her trust before the escalating attacks at the Lazy L turn deadly. For six years, Rachel has worked to repair a shattered life. Caring for her son and invalid father leaves little time to keep the Lazy L profitable. She doesn’t want a business partner simply because her father gambled away half of her beloved ranch and most certainly doesn’t desire a husband. Unfortunately, she’s stuck with the former and can’t trust Harrison as the latter. Unless she can learn to trust Harrison, everything and everyone Rachel loves will be lost.

First Impressions

The first half of this novel is all about Rachel and Harrison developing trust in their relationship. She’s been hurt before, and anyone who comes into both her and her son’s lives needs to earn her trust. Harrison is just the man to exhibit the necessary patience to win her over. Upon meeting the tantalizingly beautiful single mother, Harrison is determined that rather than take over the ranch completely, he wants to help her see it thrive again. To do so he determines their best option is to marry. Not only will it silence the gossips in town to see a man living with Rachel, but it also ensures she’ll get the entire ranch should something ever happen to him.

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Beyond just trusting him from a business partner standpoint, Rachel must also learn to trust him physically. She shies away from his every touch with fear in her eyes over what happened at the hands of his brother years before. Although their trust comes slowly, I must say it was built unbelievably well, with a hint of reality to it. It’s not like one day Rachel is wary of the stranger on her front porch, and the next she simply decides her fate is sealed and she’ll throw caution to the wind by trusting him completely. By developing it slowly over time their relationship is stronger for it, as it is built on something more stable and important than physical desire.

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A Troubled Past

I definitely appreciated this story emphasizing the importance of trust in a relationship, but in my opinion there was something which stood out even more. This is also a tale of survival. Rachel survived a horrific rape and abuse at the hands of a man who had the ability to charm an entire city into believing his version of events over hers. It was truly frightening to see how people treated her in the aftermath, as though she were the one to blame. That she led him on. How nobody believed her save a select few.

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What sickened me even more was to consider that this still happens today. This story might be set in the bygone era of the Wild West, yet it’s underlying horrors are still present. Rachel was ostracized from the community, but the one shining light throughout it all were those select few who believed in her. Although not related by blood, they were her family, and were willing to do anything to protect her and her son from the dangers of the world. Rachel is a strong, admirable lead character who drew on the love of her friends to help raise her son, and she could stand up to anyone who dared cross their path. Including a sexy U.S. Marshal.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? Yes! This novel isn’t just a tale of blossoming love. As Rachel receives threatening notes, and her ranch is plagued by arson, we discover that her abuser has returned. She must face her fears all over again, but this time she has Harrison by her side. An intense finish that will have you holding your breath and clenching your toes in anticipation. At least…that’s what I do when I get anxious reading a book!

Smut Level: Harrison is the ideal. He helps Rachel live her life again. He pushes her, but not too much. Harrison lets her make her own decisions, but helps to nudge her in the right direction. He also helps her explore her sexuality, and learn that there’s no shame in pleasure. They take things slow, but Harrison manages to seduce her with words, and holy hell is that man a smooth talker and sexy grinner extraordinaire!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 318 Pages.

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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.

Little Red by Caroline Lee

Alright, before we even get started with the review, I think we all need to take a moment to fully appreciate the sheer beauty of this cover art. Seriously, just look at it! The juxtaposition of the red cape against the white backdrop; the flow of the cape that makes you want to reach out and touch it. I wonder if I could get away with wearing a cape like that?

What’s it About?

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She’s gone over the river and through the woods, but who will protect her from the Big Bad Wolf? Rojita is in trouble; all she needs to do is get to her grandmother in Everland, but she’s being chased by El Lobo, one of the West’s most notorious gunslingers. It isn’t until she’s thrown herself head-long into danger that she realizes the old adage about frying pans and fires applies. She’s in desperate need of a protector, and hires the first man who comes along to get her safely to Everland.

Bounty hunter Hank Cutter is more than ready to retire to a lonely little cabin in Arizona, to hang up his gun and find peace. He’ll begrudgingly help the reckless young woman get to the nearest train station, because he figures she’d get into even more trouble on her own. But when El Lobo struts back into his life—Hank still has the scars from their last encounter—he knows that he can’t leave Rojita at the gunslinger’s mercy. Maybe he’s nobler than he’d thought, because he’s soon setting a trap to save the lovely, impetuous Red. The only problem is that she’s still keeping a secret that could destroy his trust.

First Impressions

I’ll admit, I really do love a fairy-tale adaptation. I grew up reading fairy-tales. Looking back I can’t really say I was drawn to the princess finding her happily ever after with Prince Charming per se. Rather, I loved the locations. The adventure! Growing up in suburban Ohio, basically any story that took me to another part of the world was a plus. When it came to this adaptation of the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” tale, there was an added unique feature of the story being transported to the Wild West. Gunslingers and all! It was such fun to see the mention of other classic fairy-tale characters as well, from Aurora to Snow White! Then when our main characters arrive in the small town of Everland, we see classic elements drawn into the names of streets and houses too. So cute!

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Classic Western and a Classic Tale

I will say I thought it was extremely unique to adapt a fairy-tale into a good ole’ western romance, with a bounty hunter, gunslinger, not to mention an orphanage that needs saving! I also enjoyed the interesting twist to catching our wolf. In this adaptation we see grandma is the one who dons the disguise instead of the other way around. That being said, I do feel that unfortunately some of the essential elements of the original story were lost in the adaptation.

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When I think of the original “Little Red Riding Hood” tale I think of two primary characters: Red and the Wolf. If I put more thought into it I remember the grandma. If I reaaaally push it I remember in some variations you have like, a huntsman, who helps Red kill the wolf and rescue grandma. In this version you have Rojita as Red, Hank as our manly hero, and grandma is, well…grandma. One character was noticeably absent though for a rather large portion of the book. The wolf!! Infamous gunslinger, El Lobo, is our villain, but he’s only in a few scenes and doesn’t actually appear until a large portion of the book is already finished. Kind of disappointing.

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Series: Everland Ever After, book 2.

Should you read it? Not a whole lot of action until the very end. We also don’t really understand the full connection of the characters and the villain until pretty late in the game. I did enjoy the unique take on this fairy-tale, but I wish it had drawn a few more elements from the classic telling.

Smut Level: Clean read. No sex, yet still full of passion!

Get it on Amazon:  Click Here. FREE. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 164 Pages.

Seize the Flame by Lynda J. Cox

Alright, I’m gonna try my best to stay reserved with this review, and keep my emotions in check. I loved it, I loved it, I LOVED IT!!! Wow. Didn’t really succeed in that attempt, did I?

What’s it About?

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Jessica Depre’s life is in tatters. She’s on the run, thanks to her abusive husband Robert, who needs to silence her about his criminal escapades and the part he forced her to play in them. When bounty hunter Drake Adams walks into the boarding house where she works, Jessica slips away into the night. Her only hope of surviving and protecting those she loves from her husband’s rage is to vanish forever.

Unable to accept that the only woman he ever loved left him standing at the altar and married another, Drake Adams has given up a good law practice in the Wyoming Territory. If he’s not hunting down bounties, he’s pursuing the bottom of a bottle of bourbon. When Drake learns his former fiancée, Jessica Majors-Depre, has a price on her head, he decides he will collect the reward.

Can the bounty hunter and the bank robber ignite a future from the ashes of their past when they are trapped by a blizzard in a mountain shack or will playing with fire burn them both?

First Impressions

In case you didn’t catch on earlier, I absolutely loved this book. From start to finish, prologue to epilogue, the entire book comes full circle and holds your interest throughout. It has everything you could possibly hope for in an exciting western romance: a brooding bounty hunter, a brave woman on the run from an abusive husband, and the two of them trapped together in an isolated cabin during a snow storm. Well hello sexual temptation, so nice to see you again!

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A Connection Through History

Good God the connection between these two characters is phenomenal. They have a history together, one that met with an unfortunate end due to a devastating misunderstanding. When Drake discovers that Jessie is wanted for murder, he is determined to bring in the woman who ran away from him on their wedding day. But when he hears her own telling of events, he realizes that things might not be as simple as they seem, and that the two of them have some unfinished business to attend to. And clothing to remove.

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A Hateful Villain

Another great aspect of this novel is that it contains a villain you’ll hate with every fiber of your being. Jessica’s husband is a disgusting piece of work who is just pure evil. The author does an amazing job at creating such a despicable character with absolutely zero redeeming qualities. We know it’s just a matter of time before this scum bucket catches up with our lead characters, and when he does the novel is thrust into a whole new level of intensity! You just don’t know who will come out of it alive.

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

Series: Nope

Should you read it? If you’re looking for an engaging historical romance with a great blend of intrigue and sexiness, then you should definitely pick it up.

Smut Level: A fire isn’t the only thing keeping these two warm during a Wyoming snow storm.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 182 Pages.

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Over the Top by Rebecca Zanetti

The sexual tension between these two has been simmering throughout the entire series, and it has finally boiled over the top!

What’s it About? 

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Dawn Freeze had a huge crush on Hawk Rain for years, and the entire town knows it. It’s understandable―the man is total hotness. That tall, lean body. Intense dark eyes. And always one foot out the door. Now he’s on leave for exactly one week. And this time, he’s made it crystal clear that he only wants one thing. Her.

Hawk’s been fighting his attraction to Dawn for as long as he can remember. She’s his best friend’s little sister, and that means hands-off. Except now she’s all grown up, and her sweet sexiness is exactly what he craves. But just as Hawk allows himself one mindblowingly intense night with Dawn, he learns that everyone he loves is in danger. Especially her. And the only way to protect Dawn is to push her away…

First Impressions

I have been waiting for this story of forbidden love since book one, and I am beyond thrilled that I finally got to read it! Overall this entire series was funny, sexy, full of lovable characters, and this last book was no exception. The drama was probably the most far-fetched of the bunch, and kind of hard to believe. Hawk is determined to bring a person from his military team to justice for selling drugs, but his continued involvement in the whole ordeal and determination to always catch the bad guy was kind of frustrating after a while. Mainly because it meant he would have to put his relationship with Dawn on hold, and he’s been doing that for years already.

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No Point in Hiding

I adored the fact that Hawk and Dawn initially wanted to keep their new sexual relationship a secret since Dawn’s brothers have always disapproved of her getting involved with the troubled soldier. However, they quickly admit to themselves that trying to keep a secret in their small town is impossible. Dawn immediately confesses to her group of girlfriends that the plethora of rumors about Hawk’s sexual prowess were all true, and Hawk can’t lie to Dawn’s brothers who have treated him like a brother of their own since childhood. After a quick punch to his face, all is well, and they accept the fact that their friend is dating their little sister.

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Dawn and Hawk’s close friends aren’t the only ones who are aware that something is going on of a sexual nature behind closed doors. Two of the local towns ladies, Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Poppins, take a particular interest in their relationship, and are so inappropriate and adorable I can’t even handle it. The scene where they present a bag of “goodies”, aka sex toys, for Dawn to use with Hawk is particularly hilarious. You can’t help but love their imposition into the goings on between Dawn and Hawk in the bedroom.

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Series: Maverick Montana, book 4. A delightful end to the series.

Should you read it? I would recommend this series if you are looking for a contemporary romance between a man who can ride a horse, and a woman who can ride that man. Books 1 and 2 were probably my favorites, but each one is full of sexy fun times, and great characters.

Smut Level: Hawk is a kinky son of a gun. He’s more than happy to give Dawn a spanking, and tie her up with a silk scarf. This man’s got skills.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Brazen. 214 Pages.

Rising Assets by Rebecca Zanetti

I’d have to say this was probably my least favorite of the Maverick Montana series so far. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

What’s it About? 

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Melanie Jacobs is in trouble. With three jobs—including running her ranch—and dwindling funds, she’s exhausted. Not to mention desperately trying to hide a secret. Unfortunately, her best friend Colton Freeze knows all too well that’s something is going on, and he won’t give up until he knows exactly what he needs to fix.

Then Colton learns the truth—that Melanie’s future happiness rests in the fickle hands of fate, and her chances for having a family are shrinking with every passing day. Her only comfort is Colton, but when a heated argument between them turns into an even hotter kiss, the boundaries of their friendship are erased, leaving only a scorching-hot hunger for more. Every kiss—every touch—is a stolen pleasure. But will their new friends-with-sexy-benefits arrangement bring them closer together, or destroy everything they once shared?

First Impressions

Colton and Melanie have been friends forever. Everyone else thinks they should be more, but they simply haven’t had that “aha” moment yet. All it really takes is for Colton to see Mel working behind a bar in a short skirt, and he has his “aha” moment. Well, that and thinking she’s pregnant with another man’s baby. As with the previous novels, the townspeople of Maverick are an absolute hoot, and they really go above and beyond in this one. They all have a town pool going as to when Mel and Colt will finally profess their love for one another, and throughout the whole book you wonder who is collecting the bets. Such dastardly fun.

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Running in Circles

Melanie actually isn’t pregnant with another man’s child. Unfortunately she has endometriosis, and her window to have a child of her own is getting smaller and smaller every day. Initially, Colton is going to take her to a sperm bank, then he offers to impregnate her himself, then she says no, then yes, and there was so much back and forth I wanted to scream, “Oh just do it already!” So about half-way through the book they finally do it. On the floor.

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Another argument they constantly dance circles around is their friend Hawk. The three of them have always been the best of friends, and both Melanie and Colton use their relationship with Hawk as a reason to not get involved. Honestly, I had some difficulty following their line of reasoning. Hawk is constantly out of town on lengthy missions for the military, so it’s not like they are all together 24/7, or that they would somehow spend less time together were Mel and Colt to get together. That being said, I must say I enjoyed all of the threesome jokes that Hawk made about the whole situation.

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Series: Maverick Montana, book 3.

Should you read it? Still a good read even though it wasn’t my favorite. I think the dramatic side story wasn’t as interesting as the other books, and wasn’t fully explored or explained. Basically Colt made some bad investments with the family’s money, but they all still support him.

Smut Level: Colt definitely has a rising asset in his jeans, if you know what I mean!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Brazen. 212 Pages.