Review: The Story of Us by Tara Sivec

THE STORY OF US
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Tara Sivec
Release Date: June 13, 2017

From USA Today bestselling author Tara Sivec comes an emotional, breathtakingly romantic new book about the power of first love and the promise of second chances.

How much can a man take before he breaks?

1,843 days. That’s how long I survived in that hellhole. They tried to break me, but I resisted. And I owe it all to the memory of warm summer nights, the scent of peaches, and the one woman who loved me more than I ever deserved to be loved. Now, I’ll do anything to get back to her.

Only Shelby Eubanks isn’t the girl I left behind all those years ago. She’s someone else, a stranger. My Shelby-my little green-eyed firecracker-would never give up her dreams, would never disappear into her mother’s ambitions. But I won’t give up on her. On us. I may be broken, and scarred, and not the man I used to be, but I will do whatever it takes to remind her of the story of us.

AMAZON | iBOOKS

I wonder if she still thinks of me as much as I do her. I wonder if she knows she’s the only reason I’m still breathing, still fighting, and still holding on.

It’s been a while since Tara Sivec wreaked havoc on my emotions with Fisher’s Light. Now she’s completely destroyed me with The Story of Us. And no, these stories are not connected by anything other then the fact that they both equally broke me. I mean, God. GOD! This story. This incredibly poignant and powerful story of love and second chances. This gripping, emotional, utterly heart wrenching story. My heart will never be the same. I was a complete and utter mess at the end. I love a good second chance romance, but when that also comes wrapped in a story that’s as powerful as it is emotional, I’m putty. Total putty.

How much can a man take before he breaks? When do the dreams stop giving him comfort and he has to accept that he’ll never see her again, touch her again or hear her say “I love you” again?

Eli has lived through hell for the past five years. The only thing that kept him going through the daily beating and torture as a POW are thoughts of his one true love. When he’s rescued and returns home where everyone mourned him and thought him long dead, the only thing on his agenda is to make things right with the woman that he walked away from due to circumstances out of his control.

I’m broken and scarred and half the man I used to be, but if she’ll let me explain, I hope to God she can put me back together again.

But the girl that he fell head over heels in love with before he left for his overseas tour, is not the woman he comes back to. Shelby is now completely under her mother’s thumb of political ambitions and image. She’s buried her dreams of dancing and moving away from this town to live in New York. She’s engaged to a man who has political ambitions that may be grander than her mother and someone she feels no passion towards. She’s a pawn in a game she wants nothing to do with, mourning a man that she believes dead, walking around a shell of the woman that she used to be.

Eli may be scarred as much inside as he is outside, but nothing will stop him from bringing back the sunny, beautiful girl that whose dancing stole his heart almost as much as her smile.

I hug him tighter, one last touch of his warm body against mine, one last second of feeling his heart beating with mine. I take it all in and shove it into the compartment in my brain reserved just for him, where I can take it out whenever I want and remember this moment. This one moment where I could pretend, for just a few seconds, that this could be my life. Wrapped up in this man who went through hell and found his way back to me.

There is a lot of things that happen in the story outside of this couple. THere’s so much going on that happened to set the gears in motion for a lot that happened to them. As they try to navigate to the truth, they also find peace again in each other’s arms.

He makes me feel whole, he closes up wounds while at the same time ripping them wide open…and I never want it to stop. 

I loved the letters that Eli wrote to Shelby and the way she experiences reading them. I love the way he fought for her and my heart absolutely broke for everything he’s been through.

I would do anything for Eli, anything he asks, and that includes breaking myself wide open and letting him see all of my scars, inside and out.

Nothing is as it appears and soon the puzzle pieces begin to click together. But can Eli and Shelby survive the truth when it finally reveals itself?

This was such an emotional and gripping story. The only reason that held it back from being a full 5 stars for me was the amount of almost soap opera like intrigue and drama at the end. It was one thing after another and while it all does come a full circle, I felt like it didn’t have to get that crazy to be just as powerful. That certainly didn’t diminish my enjoyment much, because I truly did love it. Tara Sivec is such a versatile author; she can write romcoms that make you cry laughing and then turn around and write something that will punch you right in the feels. If you’re looking for a powerful second chance romance with plenty of feeling and steam, you seriously can’t go wrong with this one.

Review: Shacking Up by Helena Hunting

SHACKING UP
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: May 30, 2017

Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.

AMAZON | iBOOKS

This man is like a nuclear bomb of sexy, just waiting to go off. I’m honestly surprised women aren’t super-gluing themselves to his body like in one of those men’s spray deodorant commercials. He may actually need women repellent.

Girl, you tell NO lie. Bancroft “Bane” Mills was a whole different level of hotness and I’d lick the hell out of him….erm…LIKE. LIKE. I mean like the hell out of him. OK. No. I didn’t. But whatever. Moving on.

Every time I pick up a book with a ridiculously hot cover, I’m always extra nervous. Is the story going to live up to the cover? Is it going to overwhelmed by too much sex with a hot half nekkid dude on the cover. Yes, I just asked that. Quit giving me the stink eye. Even us perverts have standards. For the most part. Anyway. Moving on again.

I’m happy to report that the story was even better than the cover, and that cover is pretty freaking spectacular. It’s full of zingers, hilarious banter, slow burn romance, adorable pets, and awesome chemistry.

Did you kiss him back?”
I shrug.
“You didn’t even know who he was!”
“I was caught off guard. He’s a good kisser. And have you seen him? That man could revive a corpse with his hotness.”
“Sometimes you’re very creepy, you know that?”

Ruby is determined to make her dream of starring on broadway happen. But being a triple threat and the daughter to the man running a pharmaceutical empire hasn’t given her a boost. She walked away from everything to chase her dreams, even her father’s financial support. Everything is riding on her making the audition the next day…until a sexy, drunken and sick stranger proceeds to kiss her and sneeze on her, effectively infecting her with the flu from hell.

When Ruby realizes that the sexy stranger is none other than her best friend’s finance’s cousin, uber rich, ex Rugby superstar Bancroft Mills, she’s not exactly thrilled. But she’s also now homeless with no roles in prospect and no job, and Bane happens to have her solution in his very sexy hands; move into his apartment to take care of his pets while he’s away on a business trip. Sounds simple, right? Until their shacking up leads into an unlikely friendship with a heavy underlying of sexual chemistry that’s so thick, it’s practically suffocating. Add into the mix Tiny the tarantula and an adorable ferret, an it’s a recipe for a laugh out loud romance.

I love a good slow burn and the one here was perfection. Ruby and Bane’s relationship goes from texts to FaceTime to something much, much more…

Bancroft shirtless is a vision. Bancroft naked is damn well fucking phenomenal. “Oh God, that is huge!” I say when I finally reach the visual destination of Erectiontopia.

With just the perfect amount of steam, Shacking Up was a laugh out loud, feel good romance sure to put a goofy smile on your face and a swoon in your heart. Helena Hunting effortlessly mixes humor with undeniable chemistry and endearing characters to create one delicious story that enjoyed from cover to cover.

#DGRFave, Lana and Jenn’s Review: Ruckus by @lj_shen

RUCKUS
Series: Sinners of Saint #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: LJ Shen
Release Date: May 24, 2017

Rosie

They say that life is a beautiful lie and death a painful truth. They’re right.
No one has ever made me feel more alive than the guy who serves as a constant reminder that my clock is ticking.
He is my forbidden, shiny apple.
The striking fallacy to my blunt, raw, truth.
He is also my sister’s ex-boyfriend.
One thing you should know before you judge me;
I saw him first. I craved him first. I loved him first.
Eleven years later, he waltzed into my life, demanding a second chance.
Dean Cole wants to be my bronze horseman. My white knight has finally arrived. Hopefully, he isn’t too late.

Dean

They say the brightest stars burn out the fastest. They’re right.
She sets my mind on fire.
All smart mouth, snarky attitude and a huge heart.
In a world where everything is dull, she shines like fucking Sirius.
Eleven years ago, fate tore us apart.
This time, I dare it to try.
Getting to her is a battlefield, but man, that’s why they call me Ruckus.
Rosie LeBlanc is about to find out how hard I can fight.
And conquering her will be the sweetest victory.

AMAZONLANA’S REVIEW

Dean Cole was nothing like people pegged him. He was the worst kind of devil. One that hid behind a polite smile, preppy clothes, and good manners.

Confession time: I was equally ready to part with an ovary to get my grabby little hands on this book and dreading it. I know! I know! Quit looking at me like I’m crazy, I’ll splain everything. I was excited as hell for this book because I live for LJ’s words. LIVE for them. But a part of me was dreading it because Dean happened to date Rosie’s older sister in the previous book, Vicious, and even though their relationship was nothing big and happened when they were young, the last time I read that particular plot device, I absolutely hated it. I should have known better than to doubt the magic that is LJ Shen’s writing, though, because not only did she pull it off, she did so FLAWLESSLY.

She had no clue, this girl. No. Fucking. Clue. Who she was dealing with. I might’ve been nicer than Vicious, but I was still a HotHole. I was still a sinner…and I was still the wolf her grandmamma warned her about.

Dean has always had a thing for the baby LeBlanc sister; ever since he first laid eyes on her as a teenager. But then life happened, and in an effort to protect her older sister, Emilia, from his fellow HotHole Vicious, they began to date…entirely killing his chances with the younger sister. But his obsession with her never ended. Now she’s in New York, renting an apartment in the same building as him, and he knows nothing will stop her from having her now…not even her.

Because giving up was not in my dictionary. When I wanted something, I took it. And I fucking wanted her. A lot.

In the previous books Dean came off as the fun loving, quick to smile, anything for a good time party boy. It’s easy to write him off as a shallow party boy, but boy would you be wrong. This is a man of so many depths, it’s incredible. Shen wrote such a multifaceted character with Dean, it’s impossible not to lose your heart (and your ovaries) to the man. There’s so much beyond the party boy and dirty talker. But let’s be fair here, because the dirty talk?
Was.
On.
Point.

What am I doing to you?” He sounded menacing. Almost evil.
All-American, fresh-faced, lovely Dean had a very dangerous side, and he allowed me a sneak peek into it.
“You’re…” I stuttered. He tugged at my hair harder for the answer. It was painful, but at the same time, extremely hot.
“Say it, Baby LeBlanc.”
“You’re fucking me.”
“Hell, yeah, I’m fucking you. Feels good?”
“Y—yes.”
“Am I too deep?”
“N—no.”
“Am I too rough?”
“N—no.”
“Good. ’Cause I’m about to be.”

Rosie was an amazing heroine. Here’s someone dealing with a life-altering illness, yet it doesn’t diminish any of her spark. She has sass for days and isn’t afraid to put Dean in his place. Constantly. I loved how hard she made him work for it. And boy did he work for it.

Rosie was never the prey. She was, at times, the motherfucking hunter.

I loved the way these two complimented each other. I loved how their individual jagged pieces somehow fit together so effortlessly into something so beautiful and poignant.
Ruckus was everything I’d hoped it would be and yet so much more. It was angsty deliciousness filled with enough chemistry you felt like your fingers will burn just from turning the pages . It was packed full of feeling and so much depth, you can’t help but fall into the vortex of the story. It was beautiful. It was tragic.
It.
Was.
Everything.

There was zero menace in his tone. Dean ‘Ruckus’ Cole was a different kind of asshole to Baron ‘Vicious’ Spencer. He fucked you over with a polite smile on his face. In that sense, he was the Joker. In his mix of confidence, cockiness, good looks, and money, there was a dash of insanity thrown in. Enough to let you know that he meant every word he said.

LJ Shen is a freaking unicorn. Every book she releases is better than her last. If she gets any better at her craft I may have to build her a shrine and stalk her incessantly (at least more than I do now.)

What I’m trying to tell you here is…
Read.
The.
Damn.
Book.

Period.


JENN’S REVIEW

5 “after the flip, comes the boom” Stars!!!!!
Me going into this book:

Me at the end:
I knew I would love this book. But I didn’t expect my love for this book to compete for my love for Vicious’s book. To follow up after Vicious, which was basically perfection, I was skeeered. BUT LJ Shen just shoved her way into my heart with Dean ‘Ruckus’ Cole. How?! I have no idea. It was sneaky and genius.
à la Mode St. » fashion

Dean ‘Ruckus’ Cole was a different kind of asshole to Baron ‘Vicious’ Spencer. He fucker you over with a polite smile on his face. In that sense, he was the Joker. In his mix of confidence, cockiness, good looks, and money, there was a dash of insanity thrown in. Enough to let you know that he meant every word he said.

à la Mode St. » fashionI didn’t expect him to be mean. I expected to love him to death, but LJ Shen blew my mind out of the clean, crystal water and into the dirty gutter. Her words. Her feels. I loved the parallels the Shen draws in this book. There is NOTHING that I don’t love about LJ Shen’s books.

Rosie. WOW. Again, did not expect to love her show much. Stop making me FEEL so much shit, LJ Shen!!!! Rosie is sick. This is no secret. We know this when reading Vicious. We don’t know how strong she is, and the background story between Dean and Rosie. They love each other from the first sight, but they can’t be together, and they hurt each other left and right, and time is not on their side. But love is still there, after all the hurt and after all pain (AND DAMMIT, LJ SHEN, I’M CRYING WHILE WRITING THIS REVIEW!!!!!). Ok, breathe.

Dean…..dear god, where do I begin? He’s a manwhore. And don’t we just love a good manwhore? Hell, yes. He is an asshole, like Vicious. I mean, all 4 of these guys are called the Hotholes. Lol! But there is a goodness to Dean, deep down. It takes him a while to find it. And Rosie isn’t the one to change him. Again, it’s what I love about this series! The girl doesn’t change the asshole. The asshole essentially stays an asshole but tweaks the slightest parts of themselves to be loved by the girl.

It’s funny that I’m touching on all the emotional parts in this book because damn, it was all kinds of hot. And not like a little steamy hot…..like your brain can’t even wrap around the temperature of this book.
à la Mode St. » fashion

”You’re fucking me.”
“Hell, yeah, I’m fucking you. Feels good?”
“Y-yes.”
“Am I too deep?”
“N-no.”
“Am I too rough?”
“N-no.”
“Good. ‘Cause I’m about to be.”

Did you just feel that quote in your ovaries??? Yeah, you did!!!
à la Mode St. » fashionI didn’t know what to expect from the ending. To be honest, I was expecting the worst. I was gearing up for it because I didn’t want to lose my heart and my mind if something bad happened. And I can’t even tell you if there is a happy ending because just saying whether or not there is one will give it away because again…..LJ Shen is genius…..but I will say that I was happy WITH the ending. 🙂

Don’t mind me. I’ll just be over trying to pick up the pieces of my heart and tears after this book.


READ THE SERIES IN ORDER

DEFY | VICIOUS | RUCKUS

Review: Master of Solitude by Cherise Sinclair

 Master of Solitude
Series: Mountain Masters & Dark Haven #8
Genre: BDSM Romance, Contemporary
Author: Cherise Sinclair
Release Date: May 23, 2017

Since childhood, Mallory McCabe has dreamed of falling in love with a hero. And then one saves her life. He’s honest…and blunt. Deadly, but filled with pain. Overpowering, yet ever so gentle with her. Oh yes, she’s found her hero. Taking him to her bed is simply…right. As is losing her heart.

How could she have known he’d want nothing more to do with her?

His indifference hurts. She vows to forget him…then he buys the land next to hers.

Released early from prison, all Sawyer Ware wants is to put his life back together. His police detective brother houses him while he makes plans. But when a violent gang targets his brother, Sawyer puts his future on hold. He’ll have to take on the gang first. After a decade as a Navy SEAL, he won’t–can’t–walk away if someone he loves is threatened.

His mission is likely to prove bloody. He sure can’t afford to get involved with a woman, especially his captivating neighbor. He hungers to be near her, to enjoy her clear laugh, her easy friendship, and the peace she brings wherever she goes. A relationship is absolutely out of the question.

Why won’t his heart obey orders?

AMAZON | iBOOKS

The decision wasn’t easy. He could damage her. Not her body, but her heart. Her emotions were already engaged, and if he pulled away—again—it would hurt badly. Yet, if she said no, she’d regret it. Forever.

If you’ve read Master of Freedom, then you’ll recall Sawyer Ware, Atticus’s brother. While his brother is a Detective, Sawyer is on the opposite side of the law. His sentence for a crime that haunts him to this day is cut short when he gets early release for his help during the prison riot and kidnapping. Now he’s out but the stench of the ex-con stigma follows him everywhere he goes, especially when it’s back to the small town where he stands out like a glaring beacon. He’s a shell of the man he used to be. He just wants to keep to himself, make an honest living, and rid the town of the dangerous gang that now inhabits it and targeting his brother for the role he played in killing their leader. He doesn’t expect for the shy and beautiful Mallory. When he rescues her on the side of a road, he knows that she’s too good for the likes of him, but that doesn’t erase her draw. She’s like a ray of sunshine and he’s a man used to the dark of the night. Their connection is instant and in a moment of weakness, he gives into their chemistry, only to let his assumptions get the best of him and think that Mallory is just another woman enamored with the allure of being with an ex-con.

Mallory is a sweet soul with a spine of steel. She’s an understated strength full of hope and understanding. When Sawyer unkowingly hires her construction company to fix his newly purchased home, he soon learns the error of his way when he discovers all the depths of Mallory and her heart, but that doesn’t mean he’s ever going to be good enough for her.

I adored Sawyer. My heart broke for him and everything that he’s been through. If there’s one thing that Cherise Sinclair can do is create these characters with an incredible amount of depth, and Sawyer was no exception. Mallory was a sweetheart, though at times, I have to admit, she was a little too sweet for my tastes. She does stand up for herself and her soft was the perfect compliment to Sawyer’s hard, but there was also something that was just missing for me.

There’s a suspense plot that unwinds in pace with the romance which was a great addition and I loved getting more of Atticus and Gin. Master of Solitude was a slower paced romance, but as much as I loved Sawyer and Mallory, there was also something missing for me that I can’t quite put my finger on. It just wasn’t one of those books that kept me riveted to the pages, which isn’t a bad thing, sometimes that’s all you need. I think maybe my mood went against me with this one and took a little of the enjoyment out it. Nonetheless, this was another fantastic addition to the series, and one I’d certainly recommend. I live for this author’s words and can’t wait for more.

Review: Lethal Lies by Rebecca Zanetti

LETHAL LIES
Series: Blood Brothers #2
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Release Date: May 16, 2017

A deadly secret can’t stay buried forever . . .

Revenge. It’s the only thing that will help Anya Best sleep at night. The serial killer who murdered her sister is on the loose, and Anya will stop at nothing to put him behind bars-even use herself as bait to lure him out of hiding. But she can’t do this alone.

Private investigator Heath Jones’s job is to bring bastards to justice. This time it’s personal. He knew the Copper Killer’s latest victim so when her sister asks for his help, he’s all in. But when Anya uses the media to taunt the killer, she exposes Heath’s identity, putting them both in jeopardy. Now, secrets buried long ago are coming to light and the forces determined to destroy him are watching Heath’s every move, waiting to exact their own revenge. And they’ll use anything and anyone to get to Heath.

With twists and turns that will take your breath away, LETHAL LIES is sexy, action-packed suspense at its very best from New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti.

AMAZON | iBOOKS

Oh, their timing sucked, that was for sure. But he’d take this night. Before everything went to sh*t again, he’d take this night.”

I loved and I mean I LOVED Zanetti’s Sin Brothers series. So when I saw there’s a spin off series with the Blood Brothers, I was sold. I was immediately hooked on the story with Deadly Silence. I was intrigued by the three men that forged a bond that was beyond blood and genetics. They have a brotherhood that’s all theirs. On the run from Sheriff Cobb and his seeking revenge for the death of his cruel brother that made their life at the boy’s home a living hell, they refuse to form any bonds…especially a woman. With the doctor that’s responsible for their genetic makeup determined to bring them to heel, they have all the more reason to avoid any entanglements…until Ryker falls in love.

Heath is envious of his brother but knows that will never be him. He’s a protector but he refuses to let go of his heart and give in to his baser urges when it comes to women. When their investigation agency brings them in the center of the investigation of a deranged serial killer, Heath finds himself the protector of Anya. Anya is determined to bring the man that murdered her FBI sister to justice, with or without Heath’s help. Anya tempts Heath like no other woman ever have, but can he outrun his past without it bringing Anya down and protector from the serial killer that’s obsessed with her without losing his heart along the way?

I wanted to love this book. I wanted to so bad…but it lost me more and more with every chapter. Heath’s mommy issues managed to overshadow any semblance of romance that developed between him and Anya.

Her soft lips had nearly pushed him over the edge, but he’d been able to keep his mind. Yet the moment hurt had flared in her soft green eyes, he’d been lost.

He’s so hell bent on protecting her like she’s this delicate flower, he completely misses the strong woman in front of him. It drove me out of my ever loving mind. I thought it would get better as the story progressed, but it never did. Everything came back to this issue and it overshadowed everything. I never truly felt a connection with this couple beyond Heath’s fierce need to protect her. I wanted to feel their chemistry, and while it was there, it was lackluster at best. He treats her like cracked crystal and no matter how often she showed him that she’s strong and knows what she wants, he refused to see it. This dynamic lasted too long for my taste and it totally killed the enjoyment of this book for me. Everything read very…dry. I liked the mystery and I loved the action at the end, but unfortunately it still wasn’t enough to save the book for me. While I enjoyed the suspense, I never clicked with the romance. I didn’t dislike it, I just didn’t love it either. It was those middle of the road books that I don’t regret reading but would easily forget once I finished.

I don’t recommend reading this as a standalone because I feel a lot of context would be missed. I also would recommend reading it if you’re a fan of the series because it does have a pivotal event to the overall story arc.


TWISTED TRUTHS is releasing November 17, and available for pre-order now! Read the series in order

DEADLY SILENCE | LETHAL LIES | TWISTED TRUTHS

Review: The Opposite Of You by Rachel Higginson

THE OPPOSITE OF YOU
Series: Opposites Attract #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Rachel Higginson
Release Date: March 30, 2017

I’ve sworn off men.

All men.

Famous last words, right? You’re expecting some epic tale of reluctant love and my dramatic change of heart? Well, you’re not going to get it.

I’m stubborn. And headstrong. And I’ve just survived the worst three years of my life. After escaping an abusive boyfriend to live in hostels and cheap hotels while I worked my way across Europe, I’ve come to two conclusions.

The first? Now that I’m back home, I’m going to squander my expensive culinary degree on a food truck that caters to the late night drunk crowd.

The second? I’m going to prove to the bastard across the plaza that my street food is better than his fussy five course monstrosities.

Killian Quinn might be Food and Wine’s Chef to Watch Out For. He might have a Michelin Star. He might have every food critic in the city wrapped around his too-large fingers. But he’s also pretentious and unbearably arrogant and the very opposite of me.

So he can keep his unsolicited advice and his late night visits and his cocky smiles. I want none of it. Or him.

I want the opposite.

AMAZON 

 

He’d told me I was bright, but not compared to him. He was the sun, and I was a flower turning my face to his heat. He was the stars in the clear summer night sky, and I was the stargazer mesmerized by the mysterious beauty I would never fully understand.

Well color me giddy, because I just found a new author to love. I love a good opposites attract story almost as much as I love an enemies to lovers one and this book combined both into one witty romance packed with plenty of feeling, charm, and swoon.

Date him?” I laughed. “Hardly. And not just because I’ve sworn off men for the rest of all eternity. He’s too… He’s too familiar. I don’t want a guy like Killian Quinn. I want the exact opposite of him.”

Vera bet everything on a man once…and lost. Now back home to lick her wounds and start over, leaving her potential dream of becoming a famous chef behind, she’s starting from the ground up. She still has dreams of having her own kitchen in a fancy restaurant one day, but for now she has Foodie the food truck. Her brother is even letting her use the parking lot across from his shop rent free. The only problem? That problem is right next to one of the best and most well known restaurants in town. It’s a restaurant where she would have loved to work, and also one where the kitchen is ran by the renowned and super grumpy Killian Quinn. World famous chef and notorious pain in her ass. Killian is less than thrilled about her food truck darkening the parking lot and he doesn’t hesitate in letting her know…at every opportunity…what he thinks about it.

Sparks fly between these two from the very first insult and keep sparking hotter with each additional encounter. What begins is a hilarious back and forth that’s had such a potent sexual tension beneath it that I thought I’d catch on fire with every page I read.

He threatened everything. My business. My sanity. My vow of celibacy. The carefully constructed walls I’d built around my heart. My fragile courage I’d only just regained. He’d bulldozed into my life and shaken up everything I’d thought was true about men and chefs and people.

Now I love food, so I absolutely loved how engrained the story is in food and cooking. I felt like I was right there in the kitchen along with the characters. But beyond that, I simply loved the slow burn romance that starts as an unwilling friendship. These two seriously burned up the pages with their chemistry. So much so, that I didn’t care that this wasn’t my typical steam packed romance. It had just enough of a taste to satisfy but the budding romance is truly what took center stage here and I appreciated that so much.

The writing is witty and engaging and full of humor. The characters are phenomenally developed and full of depth. The romance is swoony and the story completely unforgettable.

As soon as I opened the door, you became more. You were significant and important and right. You settled inside me like you were always meant to be there. I found you, Vera, because I was supposed to find you.”

I’m thrilled that this is the first in the series and can’t wait for more. Especially knowing that the mysterious Ezra is next. I can’t wait to see what happens with him and Vera’s BFF. Or at least that’s who I’m assuming will be the one to bring the grumpy millionaire to his knees.

#DGRFave & Review: Behind The Curtain by @BethKery

BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Beth Kery
Release Date: May 2, 2017

Cultures clash and passion ignites in the novel that will leave you begging for more—from the bestselling author of The Affair and Looking Inside.

There’s something about this woman…

On a break between overseas jobs, journalist Asher Gaites returns to his hometown of Chicago—and allows his friends to persuade him to check out a hot new singer. At a downtown jazz club, he’s soon transfixed by the lyrical voice and sensuous body of a woman who performs behind a thin, shimmering veil…

…That could bring a man to his knees.

The veil gives Moroccan American Laila Barek the anonymity she needs since she has never been able to reconcile her family’s values with her passion for music. But one man is inexplicably drawn to her. And when Asher confronts her on a subway platform after a gig, he’s shocked to recognize the woman who walked away from him nine years ago…

Laila has never been able to forget the touch, the feel, the taste of Asher. And despite the doubt and fear that wind their way into their lives, they must trust the heat of their desire to burn down the walls the world has placed between them…

AMAZON | iBOOKS

Part of you is always a bit of a mystery to me. Uncommitted. Unavailable. A little bit of you is always veiled.”

Shivers. I have honest to god shivers. This author is simply incomparable. She writes such raw, emotional, sensual stories that are unlike any I’ve ever read. What makes them so memorable is that they’re just so…real. They’re immeasurably satisfying but without having to be wrapped up in a perfect little bow at the end. I truly believe that Behind The Curtain is Kery’s best book to date and easily my favorite by her. It was such a beautiful and poignant second chance romance that was packed with as much heat as it had feeling. I love every page of it.

It was the sweetest kiss: questing and sun-warmed and gentle. Laila had never known there was a part of her that was frozen, deep down inside, until she felt it thaw beneath Asher’s mouth.

Eight years ago, behind the veil of youthful innocence and nativity, Asher Gaites and Laila Barek fell in love. It was was lovely, pure, and true. Asher was just out of university and about to take on his career outside of his parent’s influence and pull. Laila was a sheltered young woman just discovering the wonders of love and lust. They had all the odds stacked against them; Laila’s conservative Moroccan family, Asher’s upcoming move to a different state to begin his job, yet none of it could stop them from falling head over heels…only to be ripped apart.

Eight years has passed since that wondrous Michigan summer. Asher is now hardened and renowned journalist that’s traveled all over the world one war torn country at a time. Getting together with his two best friends for drinks, the last thing he expects is to see a performance that rocks him to his very core. He sees nothing but her shadowed figure behind a sheer veil and hears nothing but her haunting voice as she sings, but something about the woman strikes him as familiar. He can’t get her out of his head and he doesn’t know why. He has no idea that the woman behind the veil is the girl that got away. The girl that he never got over. The girl that he never forgot.

She saw it then for the first time: that hard glint of determination in his light eyes, the stubborn set to his jaw, the diamond-hard focus. It suddenly struck her that Asher Gaites-Granville wasn’t like anyone she’d ever met in her life. He was like a force of nature: powerful and undeniable.

I absolutely LOVED the way the story unfolded. The author did an incredible job with transitions of past to present. It was flawless. You start in the present, then get the entire flashback to the past, to then continue in the present. There’s no back and forth. It’s fluid and perfect and utterly spellbinding.

Asher only got more intense with the years while Laila really grew up into a strong young woman. I loved watching them discover each other again and experiencing everything right along with them. Did I mention that no one writes a sweat inducing love scene like Beth Kery? Because OMG!

Do you hear that? Do you hear how wet you are? I could die in this pussy,” he grated out darkly. He was right. She was soaking wet. She could hear him moving in her flesh. “You know I fantasize about it. About fucking you raw. You know it, but you wanted me to say it. Didn’t you?” She cried out in unbearable excitement as he stroked her harder

If you haven’t read a book by this author yet, you can’t start with a better book than this one. It was so much more than just a romance. I loved every page of it and simply can’t recommend it enough.

Review: Enemies Like You by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers

ENEMIES LIKE YOU
Genre: MM Romance, Suspense, Erotic
Authors: Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers
Release Date: May 15, 2017


They’re dangerous men. Absolute enemies. And totally hot for each other.

Will has never met anyone like Kit. He’s arrogant. Gorgeous. Lethal.

The most expensive bodyguard money can buy. And Will can’t seem to resist him.

A simple command in Kit’s cut-glass accent makes Will want things he’s never wanted, do things he’s never done. Their red-hot chemistry is off the charts.

Just one problem: Will has vowed to kill the billionaire that Kit is hell-bent on protecting.

And Kit has secrets, too—his own reasons for sacrificing his soul, piece by painful piece, to keep one of the worst men on earth alive.

 

This is a stand-alone contemporary M/M romance.

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I like my sex like I like my grenades: simple, fast, and furious. One-time use.

That. Was. So. Freaking. HOT.

No seriously. That was SO FREAKING HOT. I don’t think I even bothered to read the blurb for this book before jumping at the chance to read it. While I haven’t had a chance to read anything by Joanna Chambers prior to this (which I’ll be rectifying quickly), Annika Martin has been an auto-buy for me for years. But really, this book couldn’t have been more custom written for me if it had my name on it.

Enemies to lovers? Check!
Sizzling hot MM? Check!
Suspense interspersed with smoking hot sexy times? Check and CHECK!

Will is a man on a mission. With the CIA at his side, he knows that he’s on a suicide mission that no one expects him to come out of alive. But he also knows that he’ll stop at nothing to kill the man that’s responsible for the single event that still haunts him to this day. Nothing short of feeling his blood seeping through his fingers will make Will rest. There’s only one thing in the way; his target’s ruthless and unstoppable bodyguard.

Their attraction is unexpected. Their connection is dangerous. And their inability to stay away from each other just may cost both of them their lives.

He takes my mouth again, snarling against my lips as his hips pump. His strong fingers intensify their grip. It’s wild and animalistic. And I love it. Kit’s civilized demeanor has fallen away completely, exposing the passion that lies beneath the cool, icy surface.

Enemies Like You was one twisty and sexy ride. I didn’t expect what I got and what I got was entertaining as hell. I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but not everything is what it seems and man did I love that particular twist to the story. But the twists don’t stop. The authors hit you with them from every corner, until your mind is spinning so hard you feel like the lid will explode.

There were a few points that I felt were underdeveloped but it wasn’t anything that took away from my enjoyment of the book. And boy did I enjoy it. THOROUGHLY. It was deliciously naughty and full of action and suspense and with two characters that I couldn’t get enough of. This book is like GI Joe and James Bond came together to make a sexy MM baby. Does that even make sense? Whatever. Just go with me here.

 Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

Connect with Joanna:

Twitter | Website | Facebook

 

Geri & Lana’s Review: Curveball by @MariahDietz

CURVEBALL
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Mariah Dietz
Release Date: May 18, 2017

Shakespeare believed there was always humor in tragedy and tragedy in humor.

My life proved his theory as fact.

At eighteen I was a single parent moving to this small town to be with the man I loved. The one who was supposed to love and cherish me in return.

Finding out he had a wife was tragic.
Remaining in love with him in spite of her was more tragic.
My mom and best friend setting me up on a long string of blind dates was an ongoing tragedy.

Nine years later, I’ve learned to see the humor in most situations.

My mom and best friend setting me up on disastrous blind dates.
My son’s jokes.
The fire alarm going off each time I cook.

My constant bright spot always adding to the humor was my son, Hayden. But when Hayden had a life-threatening allergic reaction, the man who came to help my little boy became my own savior. His laugh, his smile, and the way his eyes lit up when he spoke to my son made him a beacon of light in both our lives.

But I wasn’t the only one who noticed him.
When I began having feelings for the man my best and only friend had fallen for, I knew following my heart would once again lead to a fresh round of heartbreak.

Love led me to this town.
Lies kept me there.

Would history repeat itself?
Or had life just thrown me another Curveball?

AMAZON

LANA’S REVIEW

Will you keep looking at me like I’m yours if I tell you there’s nothing to worry about?”
“You just haven’t been paying attention. I’ve been looking at you like you’re mind since I first saw you.”

Holy. Wow. How is this the first book I’m reading by this author? I’ll fully admit that I was hooked by the blurb with a promise of an angst fest. Being the angst addict that I am, I was ready to have my heart ripped out…
But that’s not at all what I got.

This book was nothing what expected and yet exactly what I needed. I loved the flowing, almost lyrical writing style. I loved the characters and most especially the incredible hero. I loved the character driven story and the pacing. I loved the slow burn romance. I loved the lack of unnecessary drama. I loved Elle and Coen’s connection and their journey from friends to lover. I loved Elle’s adorable little boy. I just loved it. I loved everything about it.

I feel the blurb is a bit misleading, or maybe it was for me. Because this is not an angst fest. It’s a story that’s full of depth and feeling, but there’s no crazy drama or angst. It’s a story of a woman that made a mistake when she was young and naive and now learning to move on with her life. Elle fell for a man when she was a teenager that irrevocably changed the course of her life. Now 9 years later, she’s come a long way from the naive 17 year old girl she used to be. Being a single mother that’s balancing raising her son and a full time career leaves no time for her love life. She inevitably allows her best friend to set her up on a string of horrible dates from a dating site she’s on, fully convinced she’ll never meet the man she wants.

The last thing she expects is to form a connection with her best friend’s new neighbor. Coen is everything that she’s sworn off; a firefighter and off limits because her best friend is interested in him. He’s also endearing, thoughtful, sweet, and is incredible to her little boy. What starts off as an almost unwilling friendship, soon begins to develop into something much more.

She squares her shoulders when I take three measured steps that bring us toe to toe and the flame in her eyes smothers me as it spreads like a wildfire, heating me, filling me with a fight or flight instinct that has me reaching up to grab a handful of her dark hair and lean forward until my lips steal her breath and give her my own.

Coen.

SWOON. All of the swoon! This man was perfection. He’s fiercely protective, sweet, thoughtful, and he cares for Elle’s son as much as for her. I loved seeing the development of the connection between the three of them. I loved the way that Coen demolished every wall that Elle has built around her heart through the years.

There was no crazy drama or angst and it’s not even a little smutty. It was simply a story of a love in the most unlikeliest of place. Elle and Coen complimented each other so perfectly. Coen lifted Elle up in her weak moments and Elle stood by Coen in his. It was poignant and touching and I absolutely adored it.

My only quibble is the twist in this book that made things a little too convenient in how some things played out. But other than that, I enjoyed this book immensely. I’m seriously kicking myself for not reading this author before but I’ll be rectifying it by reading every future book this woman releases.

GERI’S REVIEW

I love him because he saved me. Because he makes me acknowledge my feelings rather than feel ashamed of them, and he makes me feel calm and safe. Two things I haven’t felt since I was seventeen.❞

This was my very first Mariah Dietz book and certainly won’t be my last.

Curveball was a pleasant surprise. I was kind of expecting angst on top of angst, which I admittedly am all for on some cases, and Curveball isn’t quite the angsty read I was expecting. But it nevertheless, captured my attention and I was able to fell in love not only with the story overall but with the characters.

Speaking of characters…Coen, Coen, Coen. He made this book for me. Just an amazing hero. He had me swooning right from the get go. He could’ve easily become an indecisive character with two beautiful women vying for his attention but he’s not. I loved his steadfastness and resolve. He’s definitely worthy to be called a hero in every sense of the word.

I also loved Ella. Her journey is quite heartbreaking. I liked how the author showed the toxic kind of love that Ella had with her ex and how it can happen even to a person like Ella who had a great family and friends, etc. Her reactions and her fears felt real to me, and I really enjoyed seeing her character evolved from the beginning of the book until the end.

Another thing that I really liked about this book was how rich and complex the secondary characters are. They’re not just there to serve the hero or the heroine. They definitely have their own personalities and quirks.

That said, I felt like the ending was a bit rushed and conflict resolved a little too quickly. Some people got away with some things and there were some confrontations (which I won’t divulge here because it’s a spoiler) that I would’ve loved to see.

But overall, this was a very solid, heartwarming read. And yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Ms. Dietz.

Mariah Dietz lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and two sons that are the axis of her crazy and wonderful world.

Mariah grew up in a tiny town outside of Portland, Oregon where she spent the majority of her time immersed in the pages of books that she both read and created.

She has a love for all things that include her sons, good coffee, books, travel, and dark chocolate. She also has a deep passion for the stories she writes, and hopes readers enjoy the journeys she takes them on, as much as she loves creating them.

Geri’s Review: The Simplicity of Cider by Amy Reichert

THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Author: Amy Reichert
Release Date: May 16, 2017

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

AMAZON | iBOOKS

Image result for tangled lanterns gif

You make my heart reckless.”

I had the pleasure of reading my first Amy Reichert book with The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. I fell in love with Lou and Al and with Amy’s writing then. I mean, I love food. And what’s better than reading about romance and food? Nothing! It’s a no-brainer for me.

The Simplicity of Cider take readers on another journey through Wisconsin’s charming apple orchards.

Sanna Lund is a daughter, hermit, and talented cider maker whose life was scarred by a family betrayal. She’s content with her life making cider and helping her father tend to their family orchard. Things aren’t going well for Sanna and her father though. She’s failing to sell her cider and her family might lose the orchard to developers.

Help came in the form of two strangers, Isaac and his son, Bass. Father and son are running from their own heartbreak at home and found solace and respite in the Lund orchard bringing Sanna and Isaac together. The attraction that sparked between them took Sanna and Isaac by surprise. But Sanna has no time for love especially one that could leave her at any moment.

She couldn’t tell if he was the storm or the rescue boat.”

Love, loyalty, family and betrayal are just some of the themes that are at the heart of this book. Amy Reichert did a phenomenal job with these characters. Sanna was an amazing character. She’s awkward but sure of herself. Confident in her skill but also shows vulnerability which made her such a joy to read.

Isaac and his son Bass straight up stole my heart. Their interaction and banter was given a substantial amount of page time, which I really enjoyed and the tragedy that they both went through tugged at my heart. Isaac was the perfect foil for Sanna. He’s exactly what she needed.

Image result for fireflies gif

Despite its somber theme, there was such a joy to this book. Sanna’s love for cider making, Isaac’s love for Bass, Einar’s patience, Ms. Dibble’s matchmaking—these things saved the book from being depressing. Not to mention, the romance was really strong in this book. Isaac and Sanna’s chemistry sizzled throughout the book.

The toe-curling romance combined with strong family dynamics made this book a winner for me. Simplicity of Cider was simply lovely. And I couldn’t have asked for a better book from Amy Reichert.

Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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