Source: NetGalley.com

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Roman Holiday #1 – Chained – Ruthie Knox – 4 stars

November 10, 2013 NetGalley, Random House, Read in 2013 0

Roman Holiday #1 – Chained – Ruthie Knox – 4 starsRoman Holiday: Chained Published by Loveswept, Random House on November 11, 2013
Pages: 40
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

Meet Ashley and Roman—complete opposites who can’t hide their attraction—in Episode 1 of Ruthie Knox’s eBook original serial, Roman Holiday.

Ashley Bowman is having a bad week. Reeling from the death of her beloved grandmother, she returns to the Florida Keys only to learn that a heartless Miami developer has gotten hold of the crappy vacation rentals she calls home. Ashley has one day to clear out before Roman Díaz destroys the only place in the world that matters to her. Chaining herself to a palm tree in the bulldozers’ path seems like a good way to stop him . . . until she realizes she should’ve brought food and water. And pants. Also, it would help if the evil developer weren’t so ridiculously hot.

The last thing Roman Díaz needs is some sun-kissed blond protester getting her picture in the newspaper and messing up his plans. He bought the property fair and square, and the resort he wants to build on the site is the key to realizing his highest ambitions. But when a hurricane blows through, Roman has to hustle Ashley to safety if he wants to protect his reputation—and that means giving in to her unreasonable demands.

Roman needs to learn a little compassion, and Ashley’s decided to teach it to him . . . even if she has to drag him all over the Eastern Seaboard to do it.

I know not everyone likes serials but this is from one of the authors I admittedly fan girl over so I am definitely going to want the rest of this.  Granted I prefer full release novels but for Ruthie I’ll make an exception!

This is definitely a brief introduction to the characters that will draw us in more as the story evolves but my initial thoughts are as follows:

 

Ashley is someone who needs to find something to center her.  She’s at loose ends with the loss of her beloved grandmother but the impression she’s left with me is of a woman who isn’t sure of what she wants in her life so proceeds from adventure to adventure secure in the knowledge her grandmother would be there as a rock.  The loss of this rock is going to cause her to have to grow up and make some hard decisions but at her core she’s a woman who believes in living life and not closing herself off.

 

Roman is a bit harder to pin down.  He’s a man who is driven to escape his past but I think this is coloring his future to the point that he isn’t 100% sure of who he is any more.  Sure he acts like he knows who he is but I think as this book plays out we are going to see him have to face his past in order to have a happy future.  I’m looking forward to his interactions with Ashley as I think we will get a lot of fireworks as he fights the hard fight to not let passion rule him but only logic.  This should prove fun as I think our lovely Roman has a naughty streak a mile wide that I can’t wait to see.

 

I’m ready for more and hope that my guess about Roman proves to be true….  Thanks to NetGalley.com and the folks at Random House Loveswept for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

four-stars

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I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Jessica Scott – 5 stars

November 5, 2013 Forever Yours, NetGalley, Read in 2013 0

I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Jessica Scott – 5 starsI'll Be Home For Christmas Published by Forever Yours on November 5, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon

There's nothing in the world Army Sergeant Vic Carponti loves more than his wife and his country. Smart-mouthed and easy tempered, he takes everything as a joke . . . except his promise to come home to his wife, Nicole, for Christmas. As he prepares to leave for his latest deployment into Iraq, Vic will do everything he can to shield his beautiful, supportive wife from the realities of war . . . and from his own darkest fears.

As a career army wife, Nicole Carponti knows just what to expect from her husband's tour of duty: loneliness, relentless worry, and a seemingly endless countdown until the moment Vic walks through the door again. But when the unthinkable happens, Nicole and Vic's bond is tested like never before and changes everything they believe to be true about the power of love and the simple beauty of being home for the holidays.

I fell in love with this series on book one and haven’t strayed yet.  I’m beyond looking forward to Laura and Trent’s story but seeing Vic and Nicole has managed to hold me over until we can get to what is sure to be a heartbreaking read.

Vic Carponti is a man who believes he has someone he doesn’t deserve in his wife Nicole.  He’s worried about this latest deployment but knows that he has to go in service for his country.  He just hopes that this isn’t the time that his luck with his wife runs out and she realizes how much better than him she could do.  He’s got a major wake-up call though when he gets hurt in the line of duty and finds out just what he really means to Nicole.  He’s such a great soul and seeing more of him behind the scenes just made me love him more than I already did.  This is a man who is incredibly loyal to his unit and to those who mean the world to him.  Does he do things he probably shouldn’t?  YES but…  there is a method to his madness and I loved getting to see it in this short story.

Nicole is the one who feels lucky to have met this amazing man.  Does he drive her crazy with some of his joking?  YES but she sees the real man behind the jokester and while she would love to have him by her side all the time knows that serving his country is a fundamental drive for him.  She worries about him but truly does get him in ways he doesn’t realize.  When he is injured we get to see her go through some of the most horrible moments in her life but I loved seeing her work to show him that he is what matters to her.  Nothing else…  She’s strong and also shows how good of a friend she is when we get to see more of the drama surrounding Laura and Trent.  She’s an amazing soul who understands what her other half needs even when he isn’t as secure.

This is a very quick story with some wonderful sexy moments but the main thing that shines through is the true love and devotion they have for one another even when the going gets tough.  I’m looking forward to more glimpses of them in the future!

Special thanks to NetGalley.com and Forever Yours for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.  I love Jessica’s writing and am looking forward to more…..

 

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The Heavens Rise – Christopher Rice – 3 stars – Sponsored Contest!!

October 27, 2013 Contest, Gallery Books, NetGalley, Read in 2013, Sent 3

The Heavens Rise – Christopher Rice – 3 stars – Sponsored Contest!!The Heavens Rise Published by Gallery Books on October 15, 2013
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com, the publisher
Buy on Amazon
three-stars

New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice brilliantly conjures the shadowed terrors of the Louisiana bayou—where three friends confront a deadly, ancient evil rising to the surface—in this intense and atmospheric new supernatural thriller.

It’s been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished near Bayou Rabineaux, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, the survivor who ran away from the mangled stretch of guardrail on Highway 22 where the impossible occurred…and kept on running. Who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction…and who alone knows the source of her very bizarre—and very deadly—abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium.

An accomplished surgeon, Niquette’s father dreamed of transforming the dense acreage surrounded by murky waters into a palatial compound befitting the name his beloved wife gave to it, Elysium: “the final resting place for the heroic and virtuous.” Then, ten years ago, construction workers dug into a long-hidden well, one that snaked down into the deep, black waters of the Louisiana swamp and stirred something that had been there for centuries—a microscopic parasite that perverts the mind and corrupts the body.

Niquette is living proof that things done can’t be undone. Nothing will put her family back together again. And nothing can save her. But as Niquette, Ben, and Anthem uncover the truth of a devastating parasite that has the potential to alter the future of humankind, Niquette grasps the most chilling truths of all: someone else has been infected too. And unlike her, this man is not content to live in the shadows. He is intent to use his newfound powers for one reason only: revenge.

I had such high hopes for this one after reading the blurb.  Unfortunately it didn’t live completely up to my expectations but I still got a nice read out of it.

We start the story by meeting the epitome of a sick, demented individual who has fixated on the local golden girl.  He does what it takes to break up the golden girl and the love of her life just so he can get a chance with her.  He thinks he’s hit the jackpot when he gets invited out to her family’s remote swamp retreat but things don’t go as he plans.  There is something in the water at this remote swamp retreat and what it does to people is extremely disturbing.

We continue the story with the disappearance of the golden girl and her family by following the destruction that it leaves behind in her best friend, Ben, and her love, Anthem.  Anthem descends in to alcohol to try to numb the pain and Ben becomes a dogged reporter after he makes the acquaintance of Marissa.  <<Have I confused you yet??>>  Add in what happens to our initial bad guy and we have a story that is a bit convoluted to follow and you have all the threads that this story contains.

I enjoyed the story in most respects but I really wish we had more time with Ben and with our mystery golden girl before the story ended.  I think the changes of perspective and the amount of time we had to wait to get the pieces put together made this story drag a bit more than I would have liked but I can’t say I regret spending the time reading it.  There is something about this blend of suspense and paranormal that was intriguing even while I was muttering “Get on with it!”  The characters are intriguing, the world is sufficiently well drawn, and the premise was a good one except the fact that it took so long to get to the meat of the action.

I’m happy to recommend this to people because I did enjoy it even if I didn’t love it.

Special thanks to the team at Gallery Books who supplied me with a paper ARC, a hardcover, and an eARC via NetGalley.com.  I can’t thank them enough and due to that generosity…

I’m happy to be giving away a hardcover copy of this title to one lucky commentor on the blog.  Just tell me what creeps you out when you read or watch a horror story?  Do you like the suspense style horror or the hack-em slash-em style???  I will pick a lucky winner on Sunday Nov 3rd so get your entries in before 11:59 pm US Central Time on Saturday, November 2nd.

three-stars

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Fearless – Tawny Weber – 3.5 stars

September 21, 2013 Harlequin, Read in 2013 0

Fearless – Tawny Weber – 3.5 starsFearless Published by Harlequin on September 17, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
three-half-stars

Promising career: check

Amazing apartment: check

The best of friends: check

Sex life: MIA

There’s just one thing missing from Gia Renyard’s life: sexual adventure. And the one man she’d like to have it with is her hot co-worker, Luke Monroe. If only company rules didn’t prohibit her from asking him out. So Gia comes up with a plan: make herself over into a fantasy seductress, follow Luke to a convention in Sin City, and have her way with him for one erotic weekend. The man will never even know who did him.

Everything is going according to plan—until Gia discovers that Luke is perfect for her outside the bedroom too. And suddenly she’s no longer content to let what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas…

My Thoughts:

What do you get when you push yourself out of the rut you’ve cornered yourself in?  In this case you get a red-hot sexual relationship that ends up being so much more than sex.

Gia has always been the safe one.  She’s got the good job, good apartment, good friends and in most respects a very good life but… She wants more and that more takes the form of having her sexual fantasies come to life.  Her friends talk her in to going to Vegas to go after the man she wants for a weekend fling but what if she discovers she wants more?  As she gets back to her real-life things don’t go the way she figured when she ends up having to work for the man of her dreams.  As she tries to avoid him she can’t help but wonder what if he knew she was the one that he spent the amazing time in Vegas with.  Would he still want her or would he just ignore her?  I liked how she let herself walk on the wild side but I didn’t like how much she doubted herself even after the weekend.  She’s strong and opinionated but has a major self-esteem issue that I think is handled well in this short read.

Luke is the golden boy who has always had things handed to him with little to no effort.  He’s drawn to the woman in Vegas and finds himself pissed when she runs off without giving him a chance to spend more time with her.  While they did have some amazing sex it was the fact that she pushed him and challenged him in ways he never expected that makes him continue to think of her even after she left.  He decides to push himself at his office and is intrigued when Gia pushes his buttons and shows how valuable she is to his team all while avoiding him like he had the plague.  This gets him more and more curious until …  well..  I’m not going to give it away.  I liked Luke and liked that even though he had things come to him easily he really didn’t like that.  He wanted challenge but it took spending time with someone that pushed him to be more for him to realize how bad he had let it get.  He wasn’t happy but didn’t know how to fix it.

This was a nice read with some good heat between the main pair at the beginning and a real bit of conflict/issues in the middle.  Thanks to NetGalley.com and Harlequin for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

 

three-half-stars

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Cake – Lauren Dane – 3.5 stars

September 21, 2013 Harlequin, NetGalley, Read in 2013 0

Cake – Lauren Dane – 3.5 starsCake Published by Harlequin on September 15, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
three-half-stars

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Dane comes the latest release from Cosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin.

She won’t be satisfied with just one bite...

Art student-slash-bike messenger Wren Davis pursues what she wants. And what she wants now is Gregori Ivanov, rock star of the Seattle art scene. With his tattoos, piercings and sensual sneer, Gregori is the ultimate bad boy. Wren’s gotten to know the man beneath the body art, too—and it only makes her crave him more.

But Gregori loves women like he loves cake and champagne—intensely, but only for the moment. And after Wren experiences just how scorching sex with Gregori is, she’s determined to show him that just one taste won’t be enough...

My Thoughts:

This is an extremely quick read with a very strong heroine and sexy as hell hero.

Gregori is a Russian artist with the temperament and talent to match his impressive body of work.  He’s been married and since that time just enjoys women as outlets for his needs but nothing more than that.  He’s intrigued by the messenger that brings him stuff from his assistant but even though he is attracted to her he isn’t going to cross the line.  His penchant for withdrawing in to his work at the expense of everything else then lashing out or going off the rails when things get to be too much in his head are legendary but all of this masks a man who really does want something real and permanent.  I adored this sexy, rough man even when he was being a moron.

Wren works as a delivery person for a way to earn money while she is in school.  She has been delivering to Gregori for a while now and is fascinated by the man and his work.  She sees the real him behind the mask and wants him more than she has ever wanted anything before.  When she sees that their flirting is starting to heat up she decides to go for the man she wants.  What she runs into is a man who wants her, craves her but insists on pushing her away for her own good.  I loved how she was willing to put everything on the line for something she knew was real and worth fighting for. She’s amazingly strong and assured for a person her age which I found refreshing.

This is a quick read but the pair definitely heats up the pages with amazing chemistry and great personalities.  Thanks to NetGalley.com and Harlequin for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

 

three-half-stars

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Sponsored Contest – All of You – Christina Lee – 4 stars

September 17, 2013 Contest, Intermix, NetGalley, Read in 2013 0

Sponsored Contest – All of You – Christina Lee – 4 starsAll of You Published by Intermix, Penguin on September 17, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Nursing student Avery Michaels wants nothing to do with dating—she’s perfectly happy single. Privy to too many of her mother’s bad decisions and even worse taste in boyfriends, all Avery can handle is a string of uncomplicated hookups whenever the mood strikes.

When she meets smoking hot tattoo artist Bennett, she wants him—for just one night. But he won’t accept a no-strings-attached arrangement. He lives by a straight-laced code of values based on his own troubled upbringing.

Bennett sees something special in Avery and he wants more from her. Way more. As Avery wrestles with her emotions for Bennett, danger and tragedy force them to open up to each other. And Avery must face the terrifying realization that she wants more from him, too.

So she needs to make a choice—let Bennett go or finally let him in.

AoYbanner

My Thoughts:

A nice twist on the whole one virgin in the couple.  I liked that this time the hero was a virgin and the heroine was more experienced.

Avery isn’t looking for anything other than someone to scratch an itch and she is enthralled by a man she sees at a party.  The only issue is he doesn’t seem to be interested in her but his friend is and she is a bit stunned to find that even though the friend would scratch her itch she doesn’t really want him.  Instead she heads home alone to think about this stunning man only to find her mystery guy lives upstairs from her.  She’s startled awake later by strange noises and a man attempting to break in but of course our lovely mystery man comes to save the day.  As she spends more and more time around him she finds herself wanting more than to just scratch an itch which terrifies her due to her past.  I liked how she handled his announcement and even though I did find myself frustrated at times with her pushing this amazing man away I was happy when she finally let him in.  She’s been burned so many times and to see her finally let her walls down for him was nice to see.  I liked her strength and her own acknowledgement that what she’s been doing maybe isn’t what she wants but fear held her back for so long.

Bennett is one sexy man.  I loved his reasoning behind being a virgin still and appreciated that while he was one he didn’t look down on others who chose to have sex.  I understood why he felt the way he did and adored how persistent he was with Avery.  He showed an amazing amount of patience every time she pushed him away but when he first saw her he knew there was something special there and didn’t want to risk letting it go.  I liked that he didn’t accept her reasoning during the last conflict but he’s such a great guy he is willing to wait everything out because in his heart he knows they have something rare.  He’s sexy, protective without being smothering and tattooed…  who could resist???  I would love to have met someone like him when I was younger to build a relationship with.

Overall this was a nice read and I would gladly read more about them or more about their friends…

Thanks to NetGalley.com and Intermix for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.  I’m also quite happy to be a review stop on the blog tour for this release.  Thanks SubClub Book Blog for inviting me.

Be sure to enter her great contest!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Christina Lee

Image 1

Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives near Cleveland with her two favorite guys. She’s addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything.

New Adult/Young Adult author. NA Contemporary Romance, ALL OF YOU, releases September with Penguin. BEFORE YOU BREAK in 2014. Repped by Sara Megibow.

Also the creator of Tags-n-Stones (dot com) jewelry.

How to Contact the Author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorChristinaLee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Christina_Lee04
Website: http://www.write-brained.com/

four-stars

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Stay With Me – Elyssa Patrick – 4.5 stars

September 2, 2013 NetGalley, Read in 2013 1

Stay With Me – Elyssa Patrick – 4.5 starsStay With Me on September 1, 2013
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
four-half-stars

New Adult/Contemporary Romance - recommended for ages 17 and up.

With one look, I’m his . . .

With one touch, he’s mine . . .

With one kiss, it changes everything between us . . .

I’ve been famous since I can remember. Singing, acting, dancing—I’ve done it all. The tabloids cover my every move, but I don’t want that anymore. I want to be normal, whatever that is.

When I leave Hollywood for college in Vermont, I’m on my own for the first time in my life. This is my chance to figure out who I am and what I want in life.

But it’s a lot harder than I expected. I can’t escape my image. Classes are difficult, and I’m struggling. And then there’s Caleb Fox.

Sexy, intriguing Caleb Fox.

Caleb is the one man who doesn’t want to use me. He breaks down my walls. He challenges me. He wants me. And I just don’t know if I can give him the same—or if he’ll stick around when he finds out my shameful secret that the tabloids haven’t managed to uncover.

Dating him is risky enough, but loving him could break me.

My Thoughts:

I have to say that I enjoyed this story of a girl coming in to her adult life not knowing who to trust or what exactly she wants to do.  She’s lucky in that she meets an incredible man that sees the real her she doesn’t even know exists.  I know a lot of the child stars who had mothers like the one Hailey has turned out messed up and result in the train wrecks we see all the time on the news but in this case Hailey wants more and sees that the life she’s been pushed in to is not the one she wants to lead as an adult.  She’s grounded but scared to death of the unknown and watching her learn to trust others and in herself was a wonderful thing to do.

Hailey has been in the public eye since she was a baby due to her mother’s quest for revenge on the father she never knew and then the love of the money her only child manages to pull in.  Her mother doesn’t care about anything other than the paycheck but I would’ve liked to see Hailey confront her after a horrible incident from her past is revealed by this…  umm… trying to figure out how to say it nicely but … bitch of a woman.  She’s always been used by the people around her including any men she’s chosen to spend time with who rapidly sold their stories to the tabloids.  As she decides to leave Hollywood all behind her she discovers that living a normal life is harder than she planned and her history of being used leaves her skittish about letting anyone close.  She meets our hero at a party where he doesn’t leave the best of impressions but still manages to catch her eye and leave her wanting more than she believes she should.  As she has more run-ins with him she finds herself more and more drawn to him but still keeps herself a bit aloof even though she desperately wants to let him in.  It takes a lot of patience on his side and time for her to trust him but will the secret she’s holding on to drive him away?  Luckily the secret wasn’t as huge as it could have been and his reaction to it was a reaction any sane person would have if they paid attention to the truth of it.  She’s an amazing person and watching her bloom with the attention from Caleb plus friendships she develops with his sister and friends made me smile.

Caleb is something else.  He’s a man who is stubborn but sweet, infuriatingly stupid but smart as a whip, and amazingly romantic.  He says and does some really stupid stuff when he first meets Hailey but at the same time it isn’t anything you would be able to stay truly mad about for a long time.  What he is good at though is being there for her and not wanting anything from her other than time and her.  He’s instantly drawn to her out on the deck but sees that she’s got demons to slay that he needs to let her do but he isn’t going to let her withdraw from him without a fight.  I loved how loyal he is to the people around him and how much time he gives her to just be without any pressure from him to decide what she wants immediately.  His gestures to her ,while simple, mean everything in the world to a woman that has been treated as a commodity all of her life.  He really does see the potential she keeps locked inside and is willing to just be there for her whatever she decides.  I mean wouldn’t that make you melt?  I can’t say enough how much I loved Caleb but let’s just say he’s a wonderfully complete romantic hero.

I cannot wait to read more about the friends in future books and hope we get more glimpses of Hailey and Caleb in those stories.  Nick’s book should be fun as he hopefully stands up for what we see he might want in this title.  My guess is major fireworks if the pairing is who I think it is because let me tell you the repercussions could prove to be hot as hell.  Thanks to NetGalley.com and Elyssa Patrick for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

four-half-stars

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Glitterland – Alexis Hall – 5 stars

August 26, 2013 NetGalley, Read in 2013, Riptide Publishing 0

Glitterland – Alexis Hall – 5 starsGlitterland Published by Riptide Publishing on August 26, 2013
Pages: 248
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon

The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

My Thoughts:

I’m going to start this review with a quick warning – Do Not go in to this book thinking you are getting a light read or easy one.  This being said it was a brilliant debut well hell a brilliant book period!  I’m struggling with how to sum this book up as it was a very hard read that I just couldn’t put down.

I’m going to start trying to put my thoughts down for you by beginning with Darian.  I’m starting here because he’s the heart of this book and brings his amazing personality to the page from the moment you first see him as Ash does at the club.   He’s brilliant in form and truly brings an infectious love of life to everyone around him that let’s this unique man in.  I loved how he didn’t make any real apologies for who he is but owned the fact that he might not be the most respectable person for polite society but he is who he is and you just have to deal with it.  He’s not stupid though and even when all he wants is to be loved he’s willing to step back to force Ash to give him the respect he deserves.  His dialogue can be hard for those not used to hearing or reading British street lingo but I adored that touch as it kept him real in my mind and with all my adoration of BBC I’m pretty used to hearing it so reading it didn’t throw me.  I loved watching his willingness to put himself out there and my heart broke with his as Ash makes a horrible mistake.  He’s just someone I think in real life I’d love knowing even as a part of me would cringe at how horribly inappropriate he can be.  I have to admit being jealous of people and characters that comfortable in their own skin as I wish I could let myself be.  I get my outlet via reading and now the blog but have issues truly letting go in public (those who know me or have met me can attest to that) but watching Darian demand what he deserved was awesome!

Ash is where we get to the hard parts…  Alexis does a great job bringing you in to the head of a mad man.  No I’m not exaggerating, Ash is certifiably a mess and has the scars to prove it.  We get to see his struggle with being bi-polar and how exhausting it is for him to even pretend to function.  Only as he spends time with Darian does he start to find some inner peace but he doesn’t trust that as the disease tells him he’s not worthy and that he will just end up destroying anything that comes near him.  I mean look at what he did with Niall.  He’s got himself so far down the rabbit hole that even heading out to the grocery store is a major event to dread.  His voice in all of this is one of a man that is struggling to want to even stay alive let alone allow someone to mean more to him than a quick anonymous shag.  As he spends more time around Darian he finds himself wanting more and more but being incredibly frightened of what will happen if Darin finds the truth out about him.  When the truth does come out he finds that Darian doesn’t really care as life/love is never guaranteed so why not live for the moment and let the pieces fall where they may.  Is this extremely optimistic?  Yes  but Darian has such an infectious joy of life you can’t help but want to give him everything he wants just to keep him happy.  Ash really is trying but when push comes to shove he makes some comments that slice to the bone and I found myself gutted as we saw Darian’s reaction.  I am very thankful that the author made the struggle Ash has to come to terms with what he wants/needs a hard one and even happier at the grovel that was very well done.  He has to work for what we as readers all know is what he needs and I loved how the disease was not whitewashed at all but highlighted and in a way a living, breathing character in the book as well.

We see books at times that whitewash mental illness and thankfully this one is not another one of those.  We get to see the nitty gritty painful details and the devastation it leaves for not only the sufferer but those around them that just want to help but go about it at times in the wrong ways.  Niall is a case in point on this but as much as I wanted to hate him for his behaviour I did understand it especially when  it comes to a head later in the book.  I would love to see more of the supporting characters especially Niall as I feel he deserves a chance to finally be happy.

As I said at the start this is not an easy book to read and there are a few parts that drag as we get deeper into the psyche of Ash but I wouldn’t trade those sections for anything as it makes you better understand the struggle he is having with feeling worthy of love or even of living.  I have to thank NetGalley.com and Riptide Publishing for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.  I also have to thank Sarah Frantz for being on the elevator with me at RT which started me down the path of actively seeking out more Riptide titles.  I have enjoyed seeing some of the amazingly complex stories that have come out of that initial meeting.  Keep them coming!

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Apple Polisher – Heidi Belleau – 4 stars

August 24, 2013 NetGalley, Read in 2013, Riptide Publishing 0

Apple Polisher – Heidi Belleau – 4 starsApple Polisher Published by Riptide Publishing on July 27, 2013
Pages: 230
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

This straight-A student has a dirty little secret.

Christian Blake dreams of being a kindergarten teacher, but making the grade means maintaining a squeaky clean image: no drinking, no drugs, no swearing, no sex. And definitely no falling for his new roommate—tattooed bad-boy Max, who may or may not be a drug dealer.

Most of all, it means no working at a porn store. But Christian’s aunt has cancer, and her beloved Rear Entrance Video will go bankrupt if Christian doesn’t take over managerial duties. Soon enough, Christian finds himself juggling sticky twenty-five cent peepshow booths, a blackmailing employee, and a demanding professor who likes to make an example of him.

And then there’s Max, who doesn’t know anything about the store, but hates Christian’s preppy sweater vests and the closet Christian forces him into when they’re together. Max just wants Christian to be himself—even though Max is keeping secrets of his own. Christian struggles to find the impossible balance between his real life and the ideal one he thinks a teacher needs to live . . . all while trying to keep his aunt’s dream alive without losing his own.

My Thoughts:

I found myself truly enjoying this book and the ways it brought up how the public perception of a gay man’s behavior colors the choices that they may have for employment.  The images that Ms Belleau brings forth as Christian tries desperately to deny his identity in favor of becoming a kindergarten teacher were heartbreaking as none deserves to have to suppress their inherent nature in hopes of a job.  Unfortunately I do know many instances of having to hide the fact that you are homosexual for a career even today and for me that is fundamentally sad.

Christian is wound up so tight it is even funny but if he wants to be a kindergarten teacher he has to fulfill a certain public image of straight, conservative male even though he is not truly like that.  When he takes a room at an unconventional house he ends up being forced to face up to his life and the choices he is making that deny everything core to his psyche other than his need to teach.  He gets some horrible news about the only person who loved who he truly is and ends up having to take risks to save what she built, Rear Entrance Video… a porn store that also sells some fun extras.  He knows if anyone finds out about him working there it means the loss of his dream but when confronted with his aunt losing her livelihood and passion he just has to do the right thing.  Along the way he ends up having a hidden affair with Max but finds that he isn’t sure if his dream of teaching is worth the damage he is doing to his relationship.  Does he really want to hide who he is (other than the store) or does he want to be accepted as a gay man who wants to teach?

Max is a wild child with many hidden depths.  He ends up with money but no one knows what he does for a living and Christian first guesses drug dealer.  He is open with his sexuality and forces Christian to not only confront the insanity of his suppressing their attraction but also forces him to open his eyes and realize that sometimes taking a risk to help the ones you love is worth it.  Not taking the risk would be more damaging that anything that could come out of helping and the guilt you would have would choke any joy you possibly could have from teaching.  He’s very willing to be open with Christian and gets fed up with being a hidden secret as their relationship heats up.  I liked how he was willing to be patient with Christian initially but then pushed him out of his shell to become the man we loved at the end.  He’s something else and I can’t wait to see more of them as the stories come out.

This is a very good read with some hard moments when you are witness to how much some people are willing to sacrifice just in order to conform.  This makes me sad as I believe people should not be judged by if they love the same-sex or opposite sex but by their actions to the world at large.  I have to thank NetGalley.com and the wonderful people at Riptide Publishing that gave me access to this title with no restrictions on how I chose to review it or if I did.  I really enjoyed the title and am looking forward to more.

four-stars

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Knowing the Score – Kat Latham – 4 stars

August 8, 2013 Carina Press, NetGalley, Read in 2013 0

Knowing the Score – Kat Latham – 4 starsKnowing the Score Published by Carina Press on July 29, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

Rugby player Spencer Bailey is determined to win a spot on England's World Cup team. But with a month break before the selectors start watching him, he's eager to have fun with a woman who knows the score: the relationship will end when rugby season begins. The lovely American Caitlyn Sweeney seems perfect for the role of temporary lover, since her visa will run out soon anyway.

Caitlyn works for an international disaster relief organization and can handle the world's worst crises, but she flinches from her own. Her past has left her with a fear of intimacy so deep that she has trouble getting close to anyone—until she meets sexy Spencer. His hot body and easygoing nature are too much for even her to resist.

Neither Caitlyn nor Spencer expects to fall hard for each other. But with their relationship deadline approaching, the old rules of the game seem less important than before…until past secrets surface, challenging everything they thought they knew about each other.

My Thoughts:

Caitlyn is minding her own business but in a life-changing moment ends up saving a man’s life.  She doesn’t know it at the time but this one moment is going to bring her something she never imagined and a life better than she dreamed possible.  She’s got some major issues in her past with a father that  was extremely abusive and an ex male friend who was grooming her to be his possession.  I liked how even with all this she still was willing to let Spencer in but was not happy with her lack of trust for someone who worked his ass off to make her comfortable.  I understood it but it did get me a bit frustrated.  She’s strong and the fact that she was willing to put herself in harm’s way to help people made her worthy of anything she ever desired but was afraid to hope for.

Spencer is almost back to the top of his game in rugby but his past keeps haunting him.  He was at the pinnacle in his youth but a stupid mistake almost cost him everything and has kept him from being willing to have anything more than off-season flings.  When his grandfather almost dies but is saved by a beautiful woman he is thankful and of course attracted to her.  He decides to pursue her even though once he finds out her secret he wonders can he really do this.  They come to an agreement that this is no-strings and has a definite end date as she is leaving plus his rugby season will start soon.  Of course as they spend more time together he finds himself craving her for more than just sex but for the conversations they have and the way she makes him feel.  He thinks he is finally away from the horror of his past until at the worst possible moment it comes back to haunt him.  I adored his patience and his caring nature hidden behind the rugby player.

I hope that Kat tells us more stories about his teammates as I really enjoyed seeing the interactions between them and the support (hard time) they gave Spencer at key moments.  Thanks to Carina Press and NetGalley.com for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

four-stars

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