Thalgor’s Witch – Nancy Holland DNF

February 15, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, DNF, NetGalley, Read in 2018 0

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thalgor’s Witch – Nancy Holland DNFThalgor's Witch Published by Tule Publishing on 1/22/2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
dnf

In a land of perpetual war and wandering, warrior Thalgor not only leads his people in battle, but keeps the hope alive that somebody his displaced tribe can rebuild the kingdom that was lost to the treachery between witches and men. When he captures a beautiful witch, he knows he cannot trust her. But to succeed in his quest to find a new home and prevail over his enemies, he also knows he needs her.

Erwyn might be a slave and feared for her powers and precognition, but she doesn’t cower when confronted by the feared warrior. Nor does she act as expected. Thalgor’s kindness confuses her. His flashes of humor confound her. And the reaction he ignites in her body creates a longing that she cannot deny.

Neither anticipated falling in love. The stakes are high, but when Thalgor is mortally wounded, Erwyn realizes she must accept help from an unlikely source to save him.

When I read the blurb for this book on NetGalley, it sounded like something that was right up my alley.  I’ve been on a binge read of UF and PNR and the premise was intriguing so I was excited to check it out.

Trigger Warning for references to rape.

Spoilers ahead

There were some problematic elements for me starting right away in chapter 1.  The following line is from one of Thalgor’s men after capturing a 5 year old child:

“Small, but female,” the man declared with an ugly laugh

This was followed almost immediately by this comment by the same man after he saw Erwyn who is the witch in this story:

“A full-size female,” the third man said, his toothless leer close enough for Erwyn to smell the rot of his breath.

Repulsive right?  Well this was followed by a this man groping Erwyn’s breast which is how we find out that witches have an inherent power that protects them from men.  This should have told me all I needed to know about this book.  If by page 10 the author needed to declare that witches have a power to keep themselves from being raped, I should have known there was more problematic material to come but I kept reading hoping this wouldn’t be the case.

In Chapter 4 after Erwyn exhausted herself healing members of Thalgor’s group following a battle, Thalgor carried her off into the woods with the intention of taking her.  While he changed he realized just how weak she was, the scene was tremendously uncomfortable.  The author highlighted how Erwyn was too exhausted to user her natural power to prevent her rape, and showed her mentally preparing herself for the rape to take place and pleading with him not to rape her.

And still I kept reading trying to finish the book I had agreed to review.

In Chapter 8 Erwyn discovers that she lost a child.  She was unaware that she was pregnant and had been using her powers which is extremely hard on an unborn child.  When she shared this news with Thalgor he was a uncompassionate asshole who instructed her not get pregnant again.  And guess who continued to have sex with her in a setting that appears to have no means of preventing pregnancy.   I am sure you can see where this is going.  When Erwyn is pregnant again and cannot help Thalgor or his people he’s a complete ass about it.  I was mentally raging about what a dick he was at this point but still tried to finish the book.

After Thalgor begins to exclude Erwyn from council meetings because he deems her unuseful now that she doesn’t have use of her powers (see he’s a dick), Erwyn begins to give him the cold shoulder.  She is avoiding him during the day and has no physical contact with him at night when they go to bed.  What do we get to see as Thalgor’s reaction?

“The next night he caught her staring at him with those unforgiving eyes and that lush body, and knew he could take her at will without her magic to protect her.  For the first time he almost understood what drove the man who become Rygar’s father.  But unlike that brute, Thalgor hated himself for the thought.

Are you kidding me?  This is supposed to be a romance between Thalgor and Erwyn and you have him thinking about raping her because she is refusing to have sex with him after he’s a dick?  Am I supposed to sympathize with his desire to rape her even though he supposedly hates himself for thinking about it.  You can fuck right off with that.

And this my friends is when I finally put down the book at 46% to never pick it up again.

There were many other problematic examples I could provide about this book, but who needs anymore of this nonsense in their life?  There are too many other amazing books out there to devote anymore time to this problematic book.

dnf

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Seared – Suleikha Snyder – 4 stars

January 26, 2018 Read in 2018, Self Published, Steph 18

I received this book for free from the Author . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Seared – Suleikha Snyder – 4 starsSeared on December 12, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: the Author
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

It’s been 10 years since Naya saw her stepbrother, Lachlan Christie. In that time, he’s become a famous chef, complete with his own hip and trendy Manhattan restaurant…and she’s become the woman who can give him everything — especially her body and soul. But the past doesn’t always stay dead, and you can’t escape it, no matter how far you fly or how hot you burn.

Naya’s determined to win Lachlan and secure them a happily ever after, no matter what it takes — but is love enough to save her master chef?

In the first book in the Master Chefs series, the forbidden meets the possible — and passion cooks up a storm.

Update – winner of the contest is Samantha.  She’s been emailed but everyone go out and get Seared!!!

HOT!  Ok that’s the first word that comes to mind when describing this book but it’s hot because the pairing works.  Well, that and the power exchange between them makes sense and it is very palpable as you read the story.

Naya knows what she wants or to be p, more accurate, who she wants.  The death of her former stepfather brings her back to New York to finally take the steps to her happy ever after… that is if she and her soul mate are willing to fight the specter of a man who was rotten to the core.  Naya has such a strong understanding of who and what she is which most of us never really figure out.  I liked that she was willing to sit back a bit at first but when she realized what was really happening she fought for what mattered even as she was being pushed away.  The interplay between her and her mother made me smile as you can feel the love between the two very strong women.  They love and love deeply but there are so many secrets that they both keep.

Lachlan loves Naya with all his heart and soul.  This is not a secret but as you read the book you begin to understand how hard he’s tried to bury this in order to give her the chance to fly.  He’s also dealt with his own sort of hell when it came to his father.  I truly hated the man even beyond the grave but was more pissed at Lachlan as he seemed to not see a way beyond the mess.  I loved how much he wanted to give Naya and that he really pushed her to make sure that she did know what she wanted.  He also made sure that he gave her what she needed even as he struggled with his own needs.  I also enjoyed the by-play with Naya’s mom as it showed how much she loved him even as she hated his father.  I really appreciated that we saw a relationship that existed between a child that wasn’t hers in blood but was hers in every other way that mattered.  She saw HIM not the wrapper and encouraged him even as she worked to protect her own daughter.

Lachlan and Naya made me smile even as they went thru the mess as they really were perfect for one another.  She’s not going to completely let him walk over her but she’s going to fight for the real him.  She won’t accept less than that.  He’ll fight to let her fly and support her as she navigates the world around her but own every single bit of her without caging her.  The balance they achieve is fun to read and…

I didn’t mention this but…  THERE IS FOOD!!!  FOOD FOOD FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD….  He’s an amazing chef and she isn’t so bad herself.  You’ll enjoy the mentions of food in the book so make sure to have snacks available if a craving strikes.

 

Now for my bit of fun…  I adored this book and wanted to do something a bit fun with it so I’m gonna do a giveaway –

For a chance to win a Kindle or Nook copy of Seared plus…  yes plus…  a print copy of Cravings by Chrissy Teigen… tell me do you find a man who can cook to be sexier than one who can’t?  Is there something that you love to cook?

I’ll take entries until February 2nd at 11:59 pm Central Standard Time.  US only.

 

FYI – This is Cravings…  and yes I have a copy which will be used over the next month to make some evil recipes:

25982685

Maybe she’s on a photo shoot in Zanzibar. Maybe she’s making people laugh on TV. But all Chrissy Teigen really wants to do is talk about dinner. Or breakfast. Lunch gets some love, too.
For years, she’s been collecting, cooking, and Instagramming her favorite recipes, and here they are: from breakfast all day to John’s famous fried chicken with spicy honey butter to her mom’s Thai classics.
Salty, spicy, saucy, and fun as sin (that’s the food, but that’s Chrissy, too), these dishes are for family, for date night at home, for party time, and for a few life-sucks moments (salads). You’ll learn the importance of chili peppers, the secret to cheesy-cheeseless eggs, and life tips like how to use bacon as a home fragrance, the single best way to wake up in the morning, and how not to overthink men or Brussels sprouts. Because for Chrissy Teigen, cooking, eating, life, and love are one and the same.

four-stars

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Twice in a Lifetime – Jodie Griffin – 4 stars

January 24, 2018 NetGalley, Read in 2018, Riptide Publishing, Steph 0

Published by Riptide Publishing Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com

Ok Jodie knows I love her writing…  I also adore her as a person who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and love chatting with on Twitter…  before I get to the review I have to leave this here…

Yep…  I went there!

So on to the book, I don’t read a lot of F/F but I don’t see a lot of it in my feeds normally.  I have enjoyed the ones I have read so far and plan on trying to read more of them once I survive February so if you have any you’ve read let me know.  In this case we have a second chances romance where two women have had kids, been married and lived their lives with a lot of love but now are they willing to take the risk to love again?  There is a lot to overcome with one being the boss of the other and the fact that they are working in a very male, hetero field but these two women find a way to grasp this connection to create a new life with one another that is to be envied.

Talia is finally doing something she loves by working with the Police Department and their community involvement team.  She’s happy to be the assistant to a woman who sets sparks off and makes her want something that she doesn’t think she can have but as they work together the sparks seem to build to flames.  Talia had an amazing husband who she lost way too early but it has left her with a great view of love and now perhaps a chance to find it with a woman who makes her want.  I loved seeing her with her daughters as we get glimpses of how strong her partnership was with her husband.  You see how they built a life together and how that shaped the women her daughters have become.  They both had their own stories to go thru but they also provided Talia with the advice to go for what she wanted.  The support she received from them allows her to fight for what she wants.

Eve made me so happy as we got to see her fight for what she wanted while taking a risk that could impact the career she worked so hard to build.  She does make some choices that weren’t always the best but there was always a perceived good idea that underscored the choice.  I liked seeing her son and her reaction to his relationship as it felt like something I’d see in my real life should the situation arise.  I can see how much Eve cares for those around her and how badly she wants to help those who need it.  She’s strong but with Talia she does show how much love means to her.  She’s bold but practical and seeing how hard she fights to make things work will make you happy.  When the dark moment arrives it will hurt but how it plays out shows how much family means to her.

The story is a sweet love story with two women who love with everything in them.  It shows both in their relationship with each other and the ones they share with their children.  Give this one a try as it is truly a story of family and finding love later in life.

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Hi 2018… I’m Here & Let’s Chat About A Few Things

January 14, 2018 Musings 2

Ok I know I’ve been AWOL for a bit from the blog but I am still here and I do still read although at the moment it is mainly academic.  *ALL THE SOBS*

I will be finishing my degree at the end of February which will make me the proud owner of a B.S. degree in Business Analysis and Management…  YAY!!!  It also means that at that time I get to have more time to do ALL THE READING and ALL THE POSTING OF THINGS which I look very forward to doing.  Thanks to Boookluvr for posting a bit out here and those who have been patient with me while I complete this.  I will be starting an MBA program in the fall but in between I plan on going to Kinky in Kansas City (March), a local event and RWA (July) where I can spend time around people who love books as much as I do.  If you are at any of these events, look me up!

Now to the ranty portion of this post…

This idea of “clean” romance…

I don’t have an issue with vanilla or softer romances…  I truly don’t and have read/reviewed a few of those over the years but…  DON’T USE “CLEAN” TO DESCRIBE YOUR ROMANCES!!!!!  Sex is not inherently dirty or unclean.  Sex is natural and is not something to be ashamed of writing.  If you don’t want to include it, that’s honestly fine by me but do not use the idea of “clean” to sell your book and keep any respect from me.  If you wrote titles that you now have decided to re-imagine and reissue as “clean” romances then perhaps just perhaps you wrote those stories poorly because if you can easily remove the kink or sex scenes then they weren’t really part of the story in the first place.  You were writing something that  you felt would sell and really did a HUGE disservice to the readers who bought it and enjoyed it as written.  You just proved that the reader should not trust you in the future with their time or money because is the work truly what you wanted to write or was it an attempt at a money-grab with the hottest sub-genre at any given moment?  I now am very skeptical of these authors who have gone down this path and personally have avoided spending money or time on their new stuff.  I get that some authors do rework older titles but to explicitly state that you were reworking to a “clean” or softer romance makes me run away from you as fast as I can.  I also won’t buy or review titles that explicitly market using the “clean” designation so please keep this in mind.  Sweet…  behind closed doors… other things like that won’t cause me to avoid you but “clean” just needs to be retired.

 

Fat Shaming or other types of shaming and blatant bias…

Yeah… There is now a certain author who I will never read again because of certain things that have come to light in reference to her upcoming title and, per trusted members of the romance community, earlier titles with HUGE RED FLAGS… I won’t name the author but here’s the thing…

I’m fat..  I’m not at all skinny and ya know…  I can handle that.

Here’s what the problem is…  I was willing to give this person the benefit of the doubt that perhaps it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.  Yeah, then I saw a person who was reading an ARC and sharing just small snippets of one of the first 5 chapters…  yeah…  damned early in the book and the level of hatred shown towards one of the characters because of her weight was unconscionable.  The fact that some of the thoughts portrayed were supposedly from a friend of the character in question made it painfully apparent that the author is tone-deaf and knowing that she’s been approached by multiple people from readers to bloggers to fellow authors to advocates is maddening.  There are so many reasons for weight issues and not all of them are easy to solve.  The classic eat less, exercise more adage isn’t always the solution and for someone to use a wide platform as this author has to make fat-shaming seem acceptable is not something we should be doing in 2018.

How about instead of using this idea of being fat as something to mock, fear, trash and otherwise put in a horrific light…  we work instead to boost self-esteem and focus on items that are great about a person.  I’d rather have the weight and be a good person than be skinny and produce something that shows how little empathy one has for others.  I’d rather support those who aren’t like me or provide something positive to help others than put them down.  Being fat is not something to be shamed by others… we see enough of that in our daily lives that to see it in the fiction from a writer who is in a genre that should celebrate all shapes and sizes is another blow that many cannot handle.

Let’s work harder to build each other up and be supportive.  Let’s do better dammit…  This is something we need to do period!  We need to seek to understand and embrace the differences rather than put them down or fear them.

Ok…  yeah I know…  I was a bit ranty but I have these moments. 

Anyway…  this year should be fun as I settle out school and reinvigorate the blog with the items I’ve been listening to and reading recently.  Thanks for sticking with me…

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Can’t Let Go – Gena Showalter 3 stars

October 31, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, Harlequin 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Can’t Let Go – Gena Showalter 3 starsCan't Let Go by Gena Showalter
on October 31st 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads
three-stars

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter is back with a sizzling Original Heartbreakers tale about an icy war vet and the only woman capable of melting him... 

With trust issues a mile long, Ryanne Wade has sworn off men. Then Jude Laurent walks into her bar, and all bets are off. The former army ranger has suffered unimaginably, first being maimed in battle then losing his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. Making the brooding widower smile is priority one. Resisting him? Impossible. 

For Jude, Ryanne is off-limits. And yet the beautiful bartender who serves alcohol to potential motorists tempts him like no other. When a rival bar threatens her livelihood--and her life--he can't turn away. She triggers something in him he thought long buried, and he's determined to protect her, whatever the cost. 

As their already scorching attraction continues to heat, the damaged soldier knows he must let go of his past to hold on to his future...or risk losing the second chance he desperately needs.

Can’t Let Go is the fifth installment of Gena Showalter’s The Original Heartbreakers Series.  As with the other books in the series, Can’t Let Go features a damaged hero and a woman who has exactly what he needs to heal the physical and emotional needs of his past.

Jude Laurent hasn’t had an easy life.  Between being neglected as a child, losing his leg in a bomb blast while in the military and losing his wife and twin daughters in a car accident, Jude is just focused on surviving and putting one foot in front of the other day after day.  There is absolutely no way he’s going to get involved with Ryanne Wade, even if the sassy bar owner makes him feel more than the never-ending grief that has become his life.

Ryanne Wade has big plans for her future.  She will be living her life on her own terms, traveling the world to see all of the sights that she has been dreaming about for her entire life.  She most certainly follow her mother’s footsteps by having a life that revolves around whatever man she is with at the time.  She knows that Jude isn’t in the right frame of mind to have a relationship with anyone given his past, but she is determined to help him find some happiness in the few weeks they have together before she leaves for Rome.

***Warning… spoilers ahead***

I expected to love this book.  I have read all the other books in the series and I was looking forward to seeing Jude and Ryanne finally come together. I did like the book, but there were some elements of the writing that kept me from loving it.

Positives:

  • Jude’s turmoil and emotional pain were handled well.  The scenes that showed Jude falling apart completely as the grief overwhelmed him helped the reader see how tortured he still was.
  • Ryanne was everything I love in a heroine.  She was sarcastic while still being vulnerable and caring.

Negatives:

  • The scenario for Ryanne getting pregnant felt very over the top.  You have a virgin heroine who is on the pill having sex with a man who recently had a vasectomy and is wearing a condom that breaks, yet she still ends up pregnant.  I understand that it is possible that this could happen, but it is so unlikely that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
  • When the references to Showalter’s other book series as video games started in the earlier books, I thought it was cute and maybe smart marketing on her side.  After reading references multiple times in this book I’m over it.  I don’t want to feel beat over the head with references to your paranormal series when I’m in the middle of your contemporary world.
  • Sex on a mechanical bull… I don’t think I need to say more here.

 

In the end, I thought Can’t Let Go was decent, but not up to the level of other books in the series.  Unfortunately it felt like it was trying to hard to follow a formula and the quality of the storyline seemed to suffer as a result.   I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the next installment doesn’t follow the same path because I must read what happens between Brock and Lyndie.

three-stars

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Beyond Forever – Kit Rocha – 5 Stars

October 24, 2017 Read in 2017, Sent, Steph 1

I received this book for free from the Author . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Beyond Forever – Kit Rocha – 5 StarsBeyond Forever (O'Kane for Life, #2) by Kit Rocha
Published by Kit Rocha on October 24th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 132
Source: the Author
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars
five-flames

Before they were the King and Queen…

Six years before the Beyond series started, an ambitious bootlegger named Dallas O’Kane caught a very pretty thief named Lex with her hand in his safe.

The rest is very sexy history.

In Beyond Forever, follow Dallas and Lex through the turning points in their relationship, from the night he caught her trying to rob him, through his rise to successful bootlegger, to legend, to Sector Leader--with Lex always there, willing to give him the push he needs.

Beyond Forever is a prequel novella that jumps through time to tell the story of the biggest moments in the formation of the O’Kanes and their King and Queen. It will be far more enjoyable if you’ve already read Beyond Control, and contains spoilers for the entire Beyond series. 

I don’t even know where to begin… I really don’t…

I will say please pay attention to the blurb especially with respects to reading Beyond Control before you read this.  There are definitely spoilers for the series in this but without reading Beyond Control you won’t have a measure as to where this couple is now, then and way back then where the majority of the novella is set.  You’ll miss what is so crucial in this novella and why addicts of the series clamored for this story.

Dallas is not what we know him as now when we start the flashback portion of this story.  He’s smart, stubborn, and determined but he isn’t the King we all know him as.  He stumbles upon a thief who throws him off his game a bit but there is something about her that screams to him in a way he can’t fully ignore.  I loved seeing this glimpse of the man behind the legend and as the flashback moves forward we can see where the seeds for the confrontation in Beyond Control were sowed and know how much the drama there was forged in the beginnings of the King and Queen.  Dallas would truly be nothing without Lex but it took many years for them to finally find balance.

Lex pushes all the buttons but we get to see how early she truly fell in love with Dallas.  She’s driven but seeing how she struggled with getting him to understand how to balance what he wanted with what he truly needed made me love her even more.  She pushes him to be all that he should be and also makes decisions that need to be made when Dallas struggles with what has to be done.  Lex knows Dallas isn’t weak but also knows that he will sacrifice everything to do what he thinks has to be done to keep his people safe.  He has a huge blind spot and if it weren’t for Lex pushing the O’Kane’s we love would not be in existence.  I enjoyed seeing her vulnerability when it came to Dallas but I also hated seeing how much she was willing to tolerate just to be by the man she loved but didn’t have.  It made a lot of Beyond Control come in to focus as they really were not a healthy dynamic until the brutal moments in that story.

Be prepared to see the King and Queen in a different light after reading this and appreciate the work that it took to get them to what we know now.

five-stars

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Christmastime Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 4 stars

October 24, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

Christmastime Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 4 starsChristmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates
on October 24th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Western, Holiday
Pages: 384
Goodreads

It's Christmas in Copper Ridge, and love is waiting to be unwrapped... 

Falling for a bad boy once is forgivable. Twice would just be foolish. When Sabrina Leighton first offered her teenage innocence to gorgeous, tattooed Liam Donnelly, he humiliated her, then left town. The hurt still lingers. But so does that crazy spark. And if they have to work together to set up her family winery's new tasting room by Christmas, why not work him out of her system with a sizzling affair? 

Thirteen years ago, Liam's boss at the winery offered him a bribe--leave his teenage daughter alone and get a full ride at college. Convinced he wasn't good enough for Sabrina, Liam took it. Now he's back, as wealthy as sin and with a heart as cold as the Oregon snow. Or so he keeps telling himself. Because the girl he vowed to stay away from has become the only woman he needs, and this Christmas could be just the beginning of a lifetime together...

I know so many romance readers that adore stories that take place during the holiday season, but I have to admit I have never been one of them.  I haven’t ever been able to pinpoint why these books don’t resonate for me like they seem to for so many other people, I just accept that I am odd and generally skip over them.  So when I saw that the latest installment in Maisey Yates’s Copper Ridge series was titled Christmastime Cowboy, I was a little bummed.  I had been waiting on Liam and Sabrina’s story since we saw Sabrina take off out of the bar after seeing Liam in Slow Born Cowboy so there was no way I was going to skip this installment but the fact it was a Christmas themed story meant I probably wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as I normally would have.

Since the Donnelly brothers landed on the scene it has been clear that Sabrina and Liam shared a history and I have been dying to know what it was.  I assumed it would be something big like him taking her virginity and then taking off out-of-town or maybe if they had been in a relationship cheating on her given that even after 13 years even the sight of Liam seemed to send Sabrina into a tailspin.  So when the situation was revealed in Christmastime Cowboy, I’ll admit it felt a little flat.  It just didn’t feel momentous enough that at 30 years old Sabrina would still be so affected by the situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that she would have been hurting at 17 years old and that seeing Liam would still sting a bit, but to be so affected that she couldn’t ever tolerate being in the same room as him seemed a bit extreme.

Seeing the glimpses into Liam’s past helps you understand who Liam is today and why he took the bribe that Jamison Leighton offered him at 20 to leave town.  My heart broke for him when I realized that even after everything he had accomplished he was still that little boy who didn’t feel like he was enough.  Even after everything he had accomplished and the time he had spent reuniting with his brothers he was still keeping everyone around him out believing he didn’t have anything to offer.

If I could have reached into the book to strangle Sabrina’s parents for all of the unnecessary hurt they had caused her for their own mistakes, I would have done it.  They were so immature and so busy focusing on their situation that they had no compassion for a mistake that a 17-year-old girl made when they were making much bigger mistakes as adults.  When Sabrina met with her father to finally put the past to bed, I wasn’t quite ready to let my grudge against him go even having a better understanding of his motivations where she was concerned.

The scene between Liam and Sabrina when she gave him her goodbye speech made my chest ache.  Knowing Liam loved her but didn’t believe that he had anything to offer anyone unless is was money or something else outside of himself when all she wanted was him broke my heart.

Sabrina’s wit made for some very entertaining interactions between her and Liam.  My favorites were when she told Liam he was protecting her from his “big bad penis” and when she said she only stuck her tongue in his mouth because it seemed polite.

I am happy to report that the holiday setting didn’t detract from the storyline at all in this instance.  As a matter of fact, it seemed to be the perfect backdrop.

 

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House of Payne:Max – Stacy Gail – 4.5 stars

October 23, 2017 Read in 2017, Sent, Steph 1

I received this book for free from the Author . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

House of Payne:Max – Stacy Gail – 4.5 starsMax by Stacy Gail
on October 16, 2017
Pages: 305
Source: the Author
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars
four-half-flames

TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains flashbacks of violence and drug abuse, and the impact of these factors on family members. If you have issues with these elements, this book is not for you.

Chicago’s premiere tattoo studio, House Of Payne, is across the street from the Mad Cow diner, but it might as well be on another planet as far as waitress Paradise Simone is concerned. She’s a good girl from Waukegan with a past she’d rather forget, and a future that goes only as far as the next day. What does she know about superstars and paparazzi?

But Pari does know danger when she sees it, and tattooist Max Kulagin has it written all over him. A proper Waukegan girl should know to steer well clear, but she can’t resist Max when he leaves beautiful, intimate art sketched out on cheap diner napkins.

Beautiful, intimate art…of her.

Max knows ugliness. He was born in it. Raised in it. Had it shoved down his throat every goddamn day. So when he stumbles across true beauty, he worships it. There’s a deep sensuality in the waitress who likes to suck on her pen whenever he’s around, and he’s just the man to bring that beauty out in her. She might be a lady in the street, but one look at Pari tells him she’s going to be a freak in the bed.

And in the shower.

And while he’s driving with her head going to town in his lap.

The life Max leads might be in the spotlight, but it’s Pari who gets caught in the glare. When her past catches up to her, it’s her life that holds all the excitement, and not in a good way. But there’s no force on earth that can take Max’s beautiful Paradise away now that he’s finally found it.

93,000 Words

***This standalone, mildly erotic contemporary romance contains a woman with an oral fixation and a man who’s happy to encourage it. There are multiple sex scenes that include oral sex. No cheating, no love triangles, no cliffhangers. HEA guaranteed. Due to adult language and sexual content, this book is not intended for people under the age of eighteen***

I have to say Max made me smile at times because of his over-the-top need to keep Pari safe and comfortable.  He does so much to show what she means to him even as he struggles to understand what she actually means to him.  This is a couple that has a good amount of heat but the fact that they just fit makes it an easy read and easy pairing.  Are they perfect?  No… both of them make some mistakes… but their pairing just flows once they get together with no major drama or stupid issues.

Pari made me smile with her innate warmth and gentleness hidden under a spine made of steel.  She’s quite funny with her struggle to not curse but man, oh man when she curses the results are EPIC.  I enjoy  her love of life and really loved when she finally realizes what she needs, wants and deserves.  I think this story shows that we all struggle to understand what we want and where we fit but when we find it we should hold on with both hands.  She’s quite open with what she needs from Max in the bedroom and elsewhere but also sees what he’s saying with his actions which makes her extremely rare.

Max has to be one of my favorite characters.  He’s such an unapologetic personality who says what he thinks, means and doesn’t give a hoot about how others perceive him.  Well, this is what you think but in reality we have a man who suffered a horrible betrayal so he cares what people think but hides it behind an inventive vocabulary and the attitude that he doesn’t care.  He’s so gone over Pari that he shows the vulnerability behind the mouth and what we get is a huge softy that will do anything for someone he loves.  His willingness to open his eyes and ears to listen to what she tells him when he crosses a line shows that he is a great guy under everything.

This pairing made me extremely happy as they bring the best out in each other but at the same time don’t change each other to be together.  They are very good at pushing each others buttons but in a way that makes the other stronger… not weaker…  This was a nice way to revisit the House and see how everyone is doing.

four-half-stars

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The Weekend: London Affair Part 1 – Rhyannon Byrd 2 stars

October 17, 2017 Uncategorized 1

The Weekend: London Affair Part 1 – Rhyannon Byrd  2 starsThe Weekend: London Affair by Rhyannon Byrd
Published by Headline on October 17th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 144
Goodreads

The Weekend begins Rhyannon Byrd's sexy new serial, London Affair, where a dangerous web of passion, deception and intrigue unfolds into an explosive love story... Perfect for fans of Sylvia Day, J. Kenner and Jodi Ellen Malpas.

American art-history graduate Emmy Reed is in London, hoping to land her dream job by getting an exclusive scoop on a famous reclusive artist. When a dangerous encounter throws her into the path of millionaire playboy Jase Beckett, Emmy is grateful for his quick-thinking - but equally determined to turn down his proposal to be his date for a family wedding. That is, until she discovers that her sought-after artist is his grandfather.

Tired of the game-playing women in his circle, Jase finds Emmy refreshingly fascinating. And as the weekend progresses and they work together to survive his insufferable family's devious scheming, Emmy and Jase find themselves drowning in an intoxicating sexual chemistry that leaves them both desperate for more...and reeling emotionally.

When their stunning weekend is over, neither is ready to let go. But dark secrets surround the Beckett family - can their fledgling relationship survive the damaging revelations to come?

Emmy and Jase's explosive London Affair continues in The Chase and The Confession.'From London to the English countryside, Jase and Emmy burn up the sheets in this first installment of Rhyannon Byrd's London Affair' P.T. Michelle, New York Times bestselling author'London Affair is signature Rhyannon Byrd - exciting, sexy, and romantic. Byrd brilliantly crafts a steamy love story with a couple that dazzles, and I couldn't put it down!' Virna DePaul, New York Times bestselling author

Looking for more sexy reads from Rhyannon Byrd? Check out the steamy Dangerous Tides titles: Take Me Under, Make Me Yours and Keep Me Closer.

Warning, spoilers ahead.  If you haven’t read The Weekend yet and don’t want major plot points spoiled please come back later.

 

While sitting down to write this book, I had to ask myself what makes a the plot of a book realistic.  It was interesting to think about because it wasn’t as black and white as I thought it would be.  I’m a big fan of both the PNR and UF genres, so I can’t determine whether or not a book is realistic based on whether or not the events portrayed in the book would ever take place in the real world.  So what then makes the story we are presented with relatable to us the reader.  What I decided was that as the reader I needed to be able to understand the decisions that the main characters were making.  That evaluation has nothing to do with whether or not I would make the same decisions, rather that given who the character is and the situations they have found themselves in, do I believe that they would make the decisions that they are making in the book.

Many books have a moment where the character makes a decision that seems out of character or unlikely in my opinion, but it rarely affects my enjoyment of the overall story.  It’s only when it is decision after decision that seems unlikely or downright dangerous that it affects my ability to suspend belief and enjoy the story.  The Weekend ended up falling into the latter category for me.  I just couldn’t see a woman making the decisions that Emmy did throughout this first installment.

My struggle with this story started from the very beginning.  When Emmy wakes up in a stranger’s home after sustaining a concussion sustained during a mugging, you would imagine that she would be suspicious and likely in a hurry to leave.   I mean when you don’t know where you are, or how you got there most women would be in a hurry to get the heck out of dodge, so when Jase offers Emmy a deal for an interview with his grandfather if she’ll be his date at a weekend family wedding I raised an eyebrow at her decision making.  Little did I know that this would be one of the most believable scenes in the entire story.

Once at the wedding, we find out that Jase’s family is a hot mess of epic proportions.  His dad is an alcoholic who is still actively drinking, his step mother could give the Wick Witch of the West a run for his money and his cousins are egotistical abusive assholes.  Does Emmy ever seem to second guess the situation she has found herself in… nope.  Below are just a few examples of the types of situations I am talking about.

  • Jase’s step mother is shown screaming at him on multiple occasions and quite frankly seems to have a creepy attraction to Jase although that’s never shown on page.  Emmy rescues Jase twice from these events, yet never calls him out for bringing her to this weekend without giving her a clear picture of what the situation is.
  • Jase’s step mother and cousin conspire to split Jase and Emmy up by making Jase believe she is cheating on him.  That in itself isn’t an uncommon premise, but in this case his cousin corners her, physical restrains her and forcibly kisses her.  Not only does our heroine not decide that she may be in over her head with this family, but she is immediately intimate with Jase for the first time after this happens.
  • Jase’s other cousin is cheating on his fiance throughout the entire book, and at one point a teenager that he has gotten pregnant shows up and he physically threatens her.

I just couldn’t wrap my head around a man that would knowingly continue to subject herself to all of this when she isn’t even in a relationship with man.  I personally would be hard pressed to stay in that situation with a man I loved, let alone a man I had a temporary arrangement with.

The Weekend ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I will admit even with all of the issues in the story, I am a tad curious about what happens with both characters in the next installment.  It’s my hope that the over the top insanity gets dialed back a few notches.

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Deacon – Kit Rocha – 4 stars

October 6, 2017 Read in 2017, Sent, Steph 1

Deacon – Kit Rocha – 4 starsDeacon by Kit Rocha
on August 29, 2017
Pages: 268
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars
four-half-flames

Book #2 in explosive new series from bestselling author Kit Rocha...

Ana has trained most of her life to achieve one goal: to prove that anything men can do, she can do better. Now she’s Sector One’s first female Rider, and being the best is the only way to ensure she won’t be its last. Distractions aren’t allowed--especially not her painful attraction to the reserved but demanding leader whose stern, grumpy demeanor has already gotten into her head.

Deacon has spent the last twenty years trying to atone for his past, but the blood he spilled as a mercenary and assassin will never wash away entirely. If his riders knew the extent of his sins, he’d lose their trust and respect. It’s easier to keep them all at arm’s length, especially Ana. But his newest recruit’s stubbornness is starting to crack his defenses.

And their sparring matches are driving him wild.

The passion sparking between them can’t be denied, but neither can the vengeance barreling toward Deacon. When his old squad comes back to punish him for his betrayal, Ana and the Riders are squarely in the line of fire. The only way to save his people may be to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But first, he has to convince Ana not to follow him straight into hell.

This is another instance where I suck…. I blame the stress of school and then waiting to know what happened with my dad’s house in Rockport after Harvey.  Thankfully Dad is okay and his house came out of the storm with no real damage… He’s lost his garage and shed but his house is good.

This being said… Deacon was who I expected him to be and his match in Ana is completely appropriate.  Deacon has a history that isn’t pretty but at his core he is a very good man that does things that need to be done even thought they may not be pleasant.  He struggles with this as he doesn’t feel like he deserves the level of respect those around him offer and does not want to veer in to the idea of being worshiped.  The kicker to this is … people that have his mindset are ones that deserve the trust and faith while those who reach for it often do not deserve any such devotion.  I appreciated that he wanted nothing more than to keep Ana out of his mess but at the same time understanding that she would jump in because, like him, she really wants to do what needs to be done to keep others safe.  He was strong and I loved how he showed his softer side in moments with Ana.

Ana was an amazing discovery.  She’s a heroine that can kick ass but also has a very clever brain that enables her to interpret data coming in from sources and from her own observations in a way that is uniquely her.  She is the first one to figure out there is more to Deacon’s story than meets the eye but she also pushes him to step back in to his role as the boss faster than he might’ve had she not been a safe haven for him.  She has so much to live up to but I think the fact that she recognizes this and doesn’t take her role lightly or what she needs to do to make sure to not make a mess for any of those looking up to her for becoming a Rider.  She also struggles with what she feels for Deacon but they both bring out the best in one another along with some sweetness that is needed in the world they inhabit.

This was an interesting story with some appearances from the other Sectors which made my O’Kane loving heart happy.  Kit Rocha never fails to entertain me even in moments where life seems to be running amok.

four-stars

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