Geri & Lana’s Review: The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren

THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Roni Loren
Release Date: January 2, 2018

Liv’s words cut off as Finn got closer. The man approaching was nothing like the boy she’d known. The bulky football muscles had streamlined into a harder, leaner package and the look in his deep green eyes held no trace of boyish innocence.

It’s been twelve years since tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School.

Only a few students survived that fateful night—a group the media dubbed The Ones Who Got Away.

Liv Arias thought she’d never return to Long Acre—until a documentary brings her and the other survivors back home.

Suddenly her old flame, Finn Dorsey, is closer than ever, and their attraction is still white-hot.

When a searing kiss reignites their passion, Liv realizes this rough-around-the-edges cop might be exactly what she needs…

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GERI’S REVIEW

Broken glass still made art. Sometimes the most beautiful kind.”

My 2018 is off to a good start with The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren. This book packs an emotional punch, filled with complex characters and nuanced storytelling.

The Ones Who Got Away is about a group of friends who were survivors of a tragic school shooting. Finn Dorsey and Olivia Arias might have survived the shooting physically but the emotional wounds they carried had affected them profoundly. It is especially hard for both Finn and Liv because the shooting ended their burgeoning relationship back then.

I was a little wary going in because of the sensitive topic. At the same time, I was really looking forward to how that aspect of the story is handled. In my own opinion, it was handled well by the author.

That could definitely get messy.”
“We’ve always been messy, Livvy. That’s what makes it so good.”

The romance between Finn and Liv was beautifully done. I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible so I won’t go into the details of their romance while they were in high school and why they broke up. What I do want to mention was how mature their romance is in the present. There was no unnecessary drama between these characters. There’s tension, yes and obstacles they have to face but they deal with it like adults, which is really refreshing.

I love Liv so much. She’s a complex character with her own dreams and wants and issues. The way she dealt with the tragedy was heartbreaking. I love LOVE her friendship with the other female survivors. Their friendship and bond was featured prominently in the book, which I adored because I’m a sucker for female friendship in books.

Finn, like Liv, is another awesome character. He has his own way of dealing with the trauma. Except for his single-minded focus and devotion to his job, he’s basically stopped living. I liked how the author was able to succinctly present the hero’s arc and made us root for him despite his mistakes in the past.

Overall, The Ones Who Got Away was a poignant, character driven second-chance romance that will melt your heart.


LANA’S REVIEW

She’d been pretty in high school. Quirky cool. But now she was just flat-out beautiful. And successful. And hella smart. And offfuckinglimits.

Poignant, sensual, and truly unforgettable. I’m absolutely blown away by The Ones Who Got Away and can’t wait for more in this series!

I’ve been a huge fan of this author since I first read Crash into You years ago. There’s something about her writing that just wraps around you and…sticks. She wrote some of my most favorite sizzling BDSM romance. Yet nothing prepared me for this book. I expected it to be great, it’s Roni Loren after all. I simply wasn’t expecting it to effect me as much as it did. I give Loren so much respect for daring to take on such a sensitive subject matter and not turning it into fodder, but making it poignant and memorable. It was completely unforgettable.

How do you move on as one of the few survivors of a devastating and deadly school shooting? Twelve years later, Liv Morris is still struggling with the answer. Back in a town she swore she’d never come back to, she finds herself wandering the halls of her old high school. A documentary that will be sharing the proceeds with the families of victims and research to help prevent tragedies like that happening again are cause enough for her to come back. But what she’s not prepared for is to run into the love of her past.

Finn Dorsey was the golden boy of the town, a football superstar, son of an influential family, while she was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. They were polar opposites yet something drew them together only to be tragically torn apart due to impossible choices made in a terrible time that they both regret. But Finn isn’t the boy he used to be anymore. He’s hardened, changed, and full of regret. Olivia is also not the girl he used to know and it doesn’t take long for the sparks between them to reignite.

I hope you are selfishly using me right now to get off.” She laughed, breathless from his clever fingers. “Oh, I’m completely doing that. Have you seen you?” His expression went old-school Finn—all cocky and sly. “I have. I’ve been in an exclusive relationship with myself for a few years. I’m amazing in bed.”
“So I’ve heard. This morning, in fact. Glad I get to join in this time.”

Aside from their fantastic banter, there were plenty of other things to love about these characters. I loved the woman that Liv became. She’s a quiet sort of strength and while she’s not where she thought she’d be as a naive girl back in high school, she’s determined to change her life now.

Finn was simply devastating. Man but my heart broke for him. He has so much guilt over what happened to Liv during the shooting. And even though he’s dedicated his life to ensuring that what happened to them doesn’t happen again, he’s lost sight of the boy he used to be. All he’s known is his job and it’s slowly eaten away at his very soul. He’s not surprised that it takes the vivacious Liv to remind him of what he once craved and crave it all over again. The chemistry between them was completely incendiary but also quirky and sweet.

You okay, Batman?”
“No, you’ve killed me. I’m now speaking to you from the great beyond.” She laughed. “Is it nice there?”
“So nice.”
“Are there unicorns?”
He reached out and brushed his thumb along her lips. “You’re weird, Arias.”
“I know. You can be Oddly Hot. I’ll be Weirdly Sexy. We’ll be a crime-fighting duo.”

In addition to their romance, there were secondary characters introduced in the form of the other survivors that I was immediately hooked on. I can’t wait to get their stories; Rebecca in particular.

If you’re looking for a story that’s full of meaning and romance and a step outside of the typical, this is most definitely a must read.

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Follow You Back by A.L. Jackson

FOLLOW ME BACK
Series: Fight For Me #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Roni Loren
Release Date: January 2, 2018

The next seductive, unforgettable stand-alone romance in the FIGHT FOR ME series from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson . . .

Kale Bryant. Arrogant. Gorgeous. Commanding.

This ER doctor is married to his job. His only vice is one-night stands and short-lived flings. He learned a long time ago loving someone isn’t worth the risk.

Harley Hope Masterson. Beautiful. Brave. Sweet.

The owner of a small coffee shop knows what it’s like to struggle. Embroiled in a bitter divorce, she’s threatened with losing everything.

When Kale accepts a new position down the street from Hope’s shop, he begins to question every wall he’s built around his heart.

He wants her in a way he hasn’t wanted anyone.

One touch is fire.

One kiss, and he’s spinning out of control.

But taking her won’t come without consequences.

Hope is in for the fight of her life. One neither of them saw coming.

Now Kale must decide if loving her is worth risking it all.

She will fight with everything she has.

But sometimes even hope needs a hero . . .


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Don’t miss our amazing giveaway going on to celebrate the FOLLOW ME BACK Cover Reveal! Grand prize includes a Kindle Fire HD 8, a signed Show Me the Way Paperback, plus a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card!

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A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, and BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for A.L. Jackson’s upcoming novel, FOLLOW ME BACK, the second stand-alone novel in her brand-new FIGHT FOR ME SERIES.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 33222 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

Connect with A.L.

Newsletter: http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson
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Blog Tour & Review of Team Player Anthology

SBPR-BLT.jpgTEAM PLAYER
Genre: Sports Romance
Authors: LJ Shen, Emma Scott, Kate Stewart, Meghan Quinn
Release Date: December 14, 2017

 Hot jocks. We love them all.

Sexy baseball players. Intense footballers. Sweaty MMA fighters, and sizzling hockey hotties. Score!

The good news? Eleven bestselling authors have gathered to give you a set of stories focused on the men we love most—sports heroes.

We bet you’ll love this thick…book.

The bad news? The men in these novellas don’t actually exist.

*This anthology does not contain calories, just eleven original, never-before-seen stories by the following authors: Adriana Locke, Mandi Beck, Charleigh Rose, Kennedy Ryan, LJ Shen, Meghan Quinn, Rochelle Paige, Ella Fox, Kate Stewart, Emma Scott, and Sara Ney. We aren’t responsible for melted devices.

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4 Douchebag-Man-Whore Stars!! (Review of The End Zone by L.J. Shen)

You wanna know what this book is about?

This book is about L.J. Shen making the Douchebag-Man-Whore her bitch.

This book is exactly why I love L.J. Shen. Like Sara Ney, L.J.Shen can make me hate/love the douchebag.

Sage is a Grade-A Douchebag-Man-Whore. He is the college quarterback, soon to be drafted, and can get anything he wants, including women. After a recent incident, he is lusting after his roommate, Jolie. He has never felt anything for her before now. Sage and Jolie have been best friends since they were kids. Jolie has been in lurrrrve with Sage since then as well, but OF COURSE he doesn’t know it, and OF COURSE he is a Douchebag-Man-Whore. There is no way she is going to put herself out there only to get hurt and lose her best friend in the process.

I love love love the fake relationship stories, and that is exactly what happens. Sage convinces Jo Jo to be his fake girlfriend, and it quickly escalates into something more. Were there a couple of predictable cliché moments? You betcha. Did I care? Not one bit. I read this book in one sitting and enjoyed every second.

I loved this short by L.J. Shen. I wish it was a full book, and those are the best kind of novellas.

LJ Shen

L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets people’s birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

Connect with LJ Shen

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Kennedy Ryan:

Kennedy Ryan is a Southern girl gone Southern California. A Top 100 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy writes romance about remarkable women who find a way to thrive even in tough times, the love they find, and the men who cherish them.

She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Georgia families living with Autism, Kennedy has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other outlets as a voice for families living with autism.

Connect with Kennedy

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Adriana Locke:

A contemporary romance author running on coffee and sticky kisses from my rowdy four little boys.

From Indiana, I’m a true Mid-Westerner. Life, for me, is about family, faith, and food. When I’m not running my kiddos around or having a lunch date of fajitas with my husband (and high school sweetheart), you can find me outside. I love a good sunny day almost as much as I love candy, random quotes, and steamy bad boys in fantastic books.

I’m on nearly every social media platform. Please find me on the ones you frequent – I love chatting with readers.

Connect with Adriana

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Mandi Beck:

Mandi Beck has been an avid reader all of her life. A deep love for books always had her jotting down little stories on napkins, notebooks, and her hand. As an adult she was further submerged into the book world through book clubs and the epicness of social media. It was then that she graduated to writing her stories on her phone and then finally on a proper computer.

A nursing student, mother to two rambunctious and somewhat rotten boys, and stepmom to two great girls away at college, she shares her time with her husband in Chicago where she was born and raised. Mandi is a diehard hockey fan and blames the Blackhawks when her deadlines are not met.

Connect with Mandi

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Emma Scott:

I write romances with flawed characters, characters with artistic hearts: builders, poets, and writers of various makes and models. I love to write book lovers; those who have found refuge, companionship, and escape in books, much as we do in real life. I like realism, honesty, authenticity in storytelling. I love to write about enduring love, soul-deep love, in as real a setting as I can make, but with big smooshy HEAs. I believe in diversity, open-mindedness, and inclusion. I like sweetness mixed with steam, love conquering all, and above all, hope. Love always wins.

Connect with Emma

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Charleigh Rose:

We are a duo of an international best-selling author and a blogger who teamed up to write the taboo, thought-provoking stories we want our audience to have–without filters.

Both Charleigh and Rose are committed to giving you witty, sexy, intelligent novels that will leave you wanting more.

Connect with Charleigh

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Ella Fox:

When she’s not writing, Ella indulges the gypsy in her blood and travels the country. Ella loves reading, movies, music, buying make-up, reading Tmz, Twitter and pedicures… not necessarily in that order. She has a wild sense of humor and loves to laugh. Her favorite thing in the world is hanging out with her family and watching comedy movies.

Connect with Ella

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Sara Ney:

Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

Connect with Sara

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Meghan Quinn:

A BLONDE AT HEART

Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.

Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!

Connect with Meghan

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Kate Stewart:

Kate Stewart lives in Charleston, S.C. with her husband, Nick, and her naughty beagle, Sadie. A native of Dallas, Kate moved to Charleston three weeks after her first visit, dropping her career of 8 years, and declaring it her creative muse. Kate pens messy, sexy, angst-filled contemporary romance as well as romantic comedy and erotic suspense because it’s what she loves as a reader. A lover of all things ’80s and ’90s, especially John Hughes films and rap, she dabbles a little in photography, can knit a simple stitch scarf for necessity only and does a horrible job of playing the ukulele. Aside from running a mile without collapsing, traveling is the only other must on her bucket list. On occasion, she does very well at vodka.

Connect with Kate

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Rochelle Paige:

Rochelle Paige is the Amazon bestselling author of nineteen books. She absolutely adores reading and her friends growing up used to tease her when she trailed after them, trying to read and walk at the same time. She loves stories with alpha males, sassy heroines, hot sex and happily ever afters. She is a bit of a genre hopper in both her reading and her writing. So far she’s written books in several romance sub-genres including new adult, contemporary, paranormal and romantic suspense.

She is the mother of two wonderful sons who inspired her to chase her dream of being an author. She wants them to learn from her that you can live your dream as long as you are willing to work for it.

Connect with Rochelle

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DGR’s 2017 Favorites: GERI’S PICKS

Another year gone in the blink of an eye and the turn of many book pages. And did we have a lot of book pages between us. We had one hell of a 5 star year between the three of us and we can’t wait to share our favorites with you all. Oh wait…we’re not waiting. Well, can’t say suspense was ever a forte of ours.

I had a great reading year! There were so many books that I enjoyed throughout the year but the books I picked for my favorite reads for 2017 are special. They’re not necessarily perfect 5-star books but they are the ones that stayed with me. And it might sound corny to you but these books have changed my life and gave me a new perspective this past year. And I’m so glad I could share them all to you!

So without further ado, I present to you my favorite picks for 2017!! *in random order


GERI’S FAVORITES OF 2017 


DEVIL IN SPRING by Lisa Kleypas

This book put me on an HEA coma that I had a hard time waking up from. It had everything I want in a historical romance:

-Funny banter? CHECK
-Swoony hero? CHECK
-Adorable heroine? CHECK
-Sizzling sexy time? DOUBLE CHECK

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Everything about Devil in Spring just tick all the boxes. I was swooning and grinning and swooning some more. Not only did Lisa Kleypas gave us a new OTP to root for, she also gave romance readers what they want: seeing previous book couples living their happily ever after.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


THE DUCHESS DEAL by Tessa Dare

And yet another book that had us (Lana, Jen and I) swooning for days! The Duchess Deal is wonderful romantic take on the beauty-and-the-beast trope. And it has one of the funniest meet-cute I’ve read this year.

I just love how this book was so unabashedly romantic–hence the swooning–and how humorous it is. This book had me in stitches. The scarred hero, Ashbury, was a perfect blend of grumpiness and deadpan humor. His interaction with the heroine and the other characters in the book were delightful. And Emma the vicar’s daughter turned duchess was delightful. Tessa Dare have consistently been writing fabulous heroines throughout her career and Emma is no exception.

I have been recommending this book to everyone who will listen especially those who don’t necessarily read historical romance but want to. This book is the perfect gateway for readers who want to try this genre!

AMAZON | GOODREADS | MY REVIEW


ILLEGAL CONTACT by Santino Hassell

If you’re looking for a slow-burn romance featuring two equally gorgeous and equally stubborn characters, Illegal Contact is the book for you. I’ve already heard some fabulous things about this author but it wasn’t until this book that I finally took the plunge and read a Santino. And boy, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year ’cause this book was EVERYTHING!

Steamy hot with loads of banter and full emotional moments that had me smiling or laughing or crying, sometimes all the same time. There’s nothing like a hard-won happily-ever-after, and this book gave me one of the most satisfying HEAs this year. No one is more deserving than Noah and Gavin.

Illegal Contact was fun ride from beginning to end. And yes, I am now hunting every Santino Hassell book I could get my hands on so I could do some catch up reading.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


FEELS LIKE SUMMER by Six de los Reyes

Six de los Reyes came to my attention after Courtney Milan raved about her book Beginner’s Guide on Twitter. I hastily grabbed a copy and hasn’t looked back since. I love her quirky characters and her humor, all of which are in full display in this book.

Feels Like Summer is engaging characters, captivating storyline and super hot sexy times. A story about a hot up-coming rockstar who needed a 5-minute pretend girlfriend and the mysterious, complex girl who made him want to extend that 5 minutes into eternity. *swoon*

Seriously, this book was fun and delightful read. Plus, it’s definitely the author’s hottest book yet. And lemme tell you that after reading this book, I don’t think I could look at a light saber the same way again.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


SILVER SILENCE by Nalini Singh

Oh my gah, Valentin. *melts into a puddle of goo*

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This Changeling alpha bear stole my heart from the get go and he almost ALMOST replaced Hawke as my favorite Nalini Singh hero ever! No small feat coz duh, Hawke is Hawke but oh man, Valentin is right up there. It has intrigued and a dash of suspense. But the romance…the ROMANCE was top-notch swoonworthy. SO BEARY GOOD!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


PRETTY FACE by Lucy Parker

 Sometimes I feel like the book goods are smiling down at me and they send me a book that ticks all of my “how I want my romance book to be” boxes. Reading Pretty Face by Lucy Parker is definitely one of those times. And oh my gosh, I don’t have enough words to express how much I love this book! Lucy Parker delivered a stunning follow up to Act Like It. I was in book heaven!

Luc and Lily ended up becoming of my favorite couples of all time. I have a weakness for grumpy, taciturn heroes with hidden sweet side, and Luc fits the bill perfectly. And Lily is just awesome.

Pretty Face is full of laugh-out-loud dialogue, quick witted banter and scorching chemistry between Luc and Lily. The conflict also felt organic. And their banter is beyond hilarious! And did I mention swoony? As you might notice, I’m addicted to swoony books and Pretty Face delivers on the swoon factor!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


BETTER AT WEDDINGS THAN YOU by Mina Esguerra

If someone were to ask me why they should read this book, I would say read it because of the wedding planner hero. That might sound too simplistic but that’s totally what made me one-click this book.

Both the hero and heroine are wedding planners. Talk about subverting expectations and challenging well established gender roles! It’s something that this author did really well in this book. Mina Esguerra is one of the authors that I follow that continues to challenge me as a reader. She challenges me in the way she writes her characters and the way she tells their story. I love it when authors challenge me like that. Like I never thought I would one day read about a male wedding planner who happens to be the hero in the book! But Mina gave that to me, and it makes me weep with joy!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


MAGIC BINDS but really the KATE DANIELS SERIES by Ilona Andrews

Okay, full disclosure: I AM OBSESSED with this series. And if it were up to me (which thank God, it’s not), I would totally include the whole Kate Daniels series on this list. That would be nine books, not including the novellas, which I also loved! Y’all would be here all day reading about how much I LOVE LOVE this series and how much you guys SHOULD TOTALLY READ IT!

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I love everything about it. EVERYTHING! But my top two reasons would be Kate Daniels and Curran Lennart. Sarcastic, mouthy Kate and growly, scary Curran! *heart eyes* You guys, they are my ultimate OTP. Their meet-cute was hilarious and they brawl throughout the series.

To be honest, it scares me how much I’m invested in this series. Like I would legit cry once the series is finally over. OMG, don’t even get me started on the possibility of my favorite characters dying. I won’t be handle it!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


DAY OF THE DUCHESS by Sarah MacLean

I was a sobbing mess after I finished this book! It has tons of angst and tension and best of all, it has a fabulous amount of groveling!!

I am in love with everything Sarah MacLean writes. Her stories make me laugh, cry and swoon at the same time. And even though her books are set at time where women are subservient to men but she always managed to write strong and complex heroines.

And her heroes are as amazing and interesting as her heroines. Strong, complicated men who will stop at nothing just to prove their love for the heroine. *heart-eyes* And the hero in this book is one of her most flawed and most unforgettable. Boy, talk about a hero who fell from grace.

There’s a reason why I always mention Sarah MacLean’s name every time someone asks me for recommendations on which historical romances they should read, and this book perfectly illustrates that. You want heart-wrenching, emotionally satisfying historical romance with complex characters? Pick a MacLean. You won’t regret.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


BURN FOR ME, WHITE HOT, WILDFIRE by Ilona Andrews

Ah, the series that launched my Ilona Andrews obsession. This series is phenomenal!! I don’t even know where to begin! I’m not a huge fan of Urban Fantasy. Don’t ask me coz I’ve already forgotten my reasons why. I mean, what was I thinking really? UF is great. And Ilona Andrews writes some of best! And this series? Yeah, one of the best. No doubt about it.

IA hooked me and they still haven’t let go. This series has everything! The world building is masterful. It has magic and family rivalries and intrigue and suspense! Not to mention, there are plenty of pulse pounding action and a healthy dose of “made-me-weak-in-the-knees” romance.

I believe in paying it forward. So every time I found someone who says they don’t read UF, I get in their face and show them this series. They don’t call me hooker Geri for nothing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go and pester Lana and Jenn to read this series.

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GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


Check out Jenn’s list HERE

Check out Lana’s list HERE

Geri’s Review: Dance With Me by Alexis Daria

DANCE WITH ME
Series: Dance Off #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Alexis Daria
Release Date: December 12, 2017

The second book in Alexis Daria’s dancing duology finds one playboy charmer falling for his new roommate.

Natasha Díaz is having a day. She’s trying to prove she can make it as a professional dancer, but she’s overworked, out of cash, and her roommate has just moved out. When she comes home to find a hole in her ceiling and her bedroom flooded, she’s desperate enough to crash with the one guy she can’t quit. She accepts his offer with one condition: no sleeping together while she’s living with him.

Dimitri Kovalenko has never lived with a woman before. But when Tasha’s in need of a place to stay, he suggests she move in without a second thought. He accepts her condition, hoping she won’t stick to it. They’re good together, both in the ballroom and the bedroom. Since their first dance, she’s never been far from his thoughts. Sure, she’s a pro and he’s one of her show’s judges, but they’re not currently filming, so no one needs to know.

Living in close quarters shows Dimitri a side of Natasha he’s never seen before, and he likes it. A lot. Too bad she’s doing everything in her power to keep him at arm’s length. When an injury forces Natasha to take it easy or risk her ability to dance, it’s his chance to show her that the rules have changed, and she can trust him with her heart.

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She’s not going to want you because she needs you to make her life good, but because her life is already good and you make it better.

 

Alexis Daria is a new-to-me author, and after reading and enjoying Dance With Me, she’s definitely one that I would watch out for in the future. Dance With Me is a sexy, character-driven, romance that will tug at your heart.

Natasha is pro dancer in a reality show called Dance Off, and is in an on-and-off again relationship with one of the judges in the show, Dimitri. Tash is stuck in a rut. Not just professionally but also with her non-relationship with Dimitri. Then disaster struck forcing her to spend time with Dimitri in his own turf.

Their arrangement would be temporary, just long enough for Tasha to get back on her feet and find a more permanent place to live until her apartment gets fixed. Complicating matters is the new rule imposed by their production discouraging fraternization among dancers & judges.

I personally love character driven romances, and Dance With Me fits within that category to a tee. I really enjoyed the conflict in this book. Tasha is a very complex and flawed heroine who is adamant on doing it on her own. I loved how Ms. Daria was able to really flesh her character that even though you might not agree with some of her decisions, you still get her because her motivations were explored in the book.

Same goes for Dimitri. His fear of failure and rejection drove him to take Tasha for granted for three years. Wanting her and yet not really pushing for something more permanent with her, which he’s paying for dearly.

The push and pull between them, the asserting and acquiescing, and the physical and metaphorical dance off happening between Dimitri and Tasha are what made this book work for me. It’s fascinating and had me glued to its pages from beginning to end.

I cannot wait to read more from this author, and based on this book alone, she’s going to keep on delivering solid romantic stories with interesting and complex characters.

Geri’s Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

ROOMIES
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Christina Lauren
Release Date: December 5, 2017

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director.

When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him.

As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway.

In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

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Come home and kick me in the teeth if you need to, but then kiss me.

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This book isn’t just sweet & cute, it’s also full of charm and wit. It also has fantastic tension and conflict, not to mention a great chemistry between its main protagonists.

Roomies is told entirely in Holland’s point of view, which was great mainly because Holland is a character that you can’t help but love. She doesn’t have her shit together. One could say that she’s privileged, which she is, but the great thing again is that the book acknowledged her privilege. You just can’t help but root for her.  And her painful crush on the hero was not only endearing, it’s also very relatable.

Calvin was a crush-worthy hero that I honestly couldn’t blame Holland for crushing hard on him. What I really like about his character is that he’s not the quintessential ” alpha bad boy musician” hero I’m used to reading nowadays. He’s a theater nerd, and I personally find that refreshing. He’s very flawed, and his backstory is one that immigrants like me could relate to. And even if you’re not a US immigrant, you’d still feel for him.

I loved the marriage-of-convenience set up. Holland and Calvin started out as strangers and then friends until they inevitably became lovers. But things aren’t as straightforward as it may seem. There’s quite a bit of angst in this book. Not too much though, just enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and invested in these characters. You want them to work out so bad but since they’re not perfect characters, imperfect decisions were made.

One other thing that makes this book for me are the secondary characters, most especially Holland’s “uncles” Jeff and Robert. Their presence in this book was a grounding force for Holland. They’re her rock and she’d be lost without them. I loved these characters so much I wanted to read more about them, preferably in their own standalone book.

Roomies isn’t a perfect book but the emotion it evoked was undeniable. The romance, the banter, the sexy times…all of it worked. It’s a quick read, too. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. It was that readable.

So whether you’re a fan of the marriage-of-convenience trope or not, I highly recommend this book. It’s sweet and angsty with characters that you can’t help but fall in love with.

Geri’s Review: Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis

HOLIDAY WISHES
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #4.5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Jill Shalvis
Release Date: November 7, 2017

It’s Christmastime again in Heartbreaker Bay!

When Sean O’Riley shows up at the Hartford Bed & Breakfast for his older brother’s bachelor weekend, he’s just hoping to make it through the weekend.

What he’s not expecting is to come face to face with the woman he lost his virginity to a decade ago—a woman he’s never really forgotten.

The last time Lotti Hartford saw Sean, she told him she loved him while he said nothing. Now, ten years later, she’s just looking for a good time.

For once, she wants to be the wild and free one, and Sean – the good time guy – is the perfect candidate.

But as the weekend continues, Sean realizes that after a lifetime of being the hook-up king, he’s ready to find happily-ever-after, and he wants it with Lotti. But will she open her heart to him again?

As Christmas sweeps through the little B&B, he can only hope love and magic are in the air.

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What makes a perfect holiday read?

For one, it has to be sweet. Nothing says holiday novella than a sweet, satisfying romance that make your toes curl. Holiday Wishes has plenty of romance, and yes, it’s sweet and satisfying, just the way I like it.

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Two, it has to be the right length. Look, holiday season often means, you’re pressed for time. You have to do a lot of shopping and cooking. And as much as you want to sit by the fire and read a fabulous 300+ page book for hours, you can’t. Not always. So a novella length book that packs in the romance in under 150 pages or so is a godsend.

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Three. It features familiar characters you already love. Sean O’Riley has been a familiar figure in the Heartbreaker Bay series. He started out as Finn’s younger, troublemaker brother. But as the series goes on, Sean grew up and matured. He’s proven himself a good brother and a loyal friend so reading about him getting his woman made me happy. Especially with a heroine as lovely as Lottie. Jill Shalvis always writes interesting heroines. They’re complex, flawed but inside they’re just full of love and loyalty.

Plus, we get to see the gang again. Nothing makes a reader’s heart happy than to see the characters she loves happy and content. Like do you know of anyone who wants to see their fave characters sad and miserable? No!

And last but not the least, the thing that makes a book a perfect holiday read is its ability to give you the warm fuzzies.

Look. Don’t me make me come at you with a 1,000 page dissertation of what constitutes warm fuzzyiness. All i know is that YOU’LL KNOW IT WHEN YOU FEEL IT!!!

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And yes, this book gave me all the warm fuzzies down to my toes.

Any questions? None? Good. Go forth and enjoy this book! <3

 

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras with her family and far too many assorted quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental.

Look for Jill’s latest, LOST AND FOUND SISTERS on shelves and e-readers now, and get all her bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold.

Visit Jill’s website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

 

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Geri’s Review: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

SOMEONE TO WED
Series: Westcott #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Mary Balogh
Release Date: November 7, 2017

A very practical marriage makes Alexander Westcott question his heart in the latest Regency romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Someone to Hold.

When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford.

But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life. . . .

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them.

He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past. . . .

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It was not just her face that she had hidden from the world. It was the whole of herself. Her instinct was to hide behind veils within veils, and she had done it for so long that she did not know how to case those veils aside.

Someone to Wed is a story about two people who came together out of convenience but in the process, found not only affection but deep and abiding love for each other.

The romance was top-notch as is expected from a Mary Balogh book. Both characters are flawed, complex and relatable in a way that made you root for their happiness and their developing relationship.

Alexander has inherited a failing earldom and must marry for money in order to rebuild his estates. Wren has spent the better part of her adult life in isolation. She wants to get married and have a family but feels that her appearance (she was a huge port wine stain on her face) and time spent away from society made her less of an ideal candidate for marriage. The one thing she has advantage of is her wealth. She’s an independently wealthy woman and wealth is something that Alexander needs.

But he had glimpsed something tantalizingly fleeting behind the veil. Something – no, he could not find the word. But something that invited him to keep looking.

There’s plenty to love in Someone to Wed.

It’s a fantastic MOC story, something that Mary Balogh does really well. Great, well-developed characters. Wren is such a strong, layered character. She knows what she wants and while she presents this cold and aloof behavior on the outside, her heart is passionate. But years of self-imposed seclusion and loneliness did a number of her, which made her all the more endearing and likable in my opinion.

I really liked Alexander, too. I liked that at very beginning, there’s no feelings or even an attraction between them. Their relationship grew from chapter to chapter and I was swept away with the slow burn romance between these two characters.

If you’re a fan of both slow-burn romances and the marriage-of-convenience trope, I highly recommend this book.

Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling ‘Slightly’ sextet and ‘Simply’ quartet. She has won numerous awards, including Bestselling Historical of the Year from the Borders Group, and her novel Simply Magic was a finalist in the Quill Awards. She has won seven Waldenbooks Awards and two B. Dalton Awards for her bestselling novels, as well as a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

FACEBOOK WEBSITE | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE 

 

Blog Tour Review & Excerpt: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

CHERISH HARD
Series: King Of Code #1.5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: CD Reiss
Release Date: November 14, 2017

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed.

Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love.

Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

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ÍSA WONDERED WHAT THE HELL she was doing.

Being a devil woman, she reminded herself. Having fun for a change. Not being a grandma at twenty-eight years of age.

Still, she couldn’t stop second-guessing herself as Sailor led her out of the house through a side entrance that opened out into a small, manicured garden. “I’ll have to take off my heels,” she whispered when she saw the pebbled path snaking through the garden.

“Want a piggyback ride?” A playful grin. “I promise not to molest your thighs.”

Goose bumps broke out over Ísa’s skin, her nipples tight. Reckless as she was feeling tonight, she might just have taken him up on his offer if she hadn’t been worried her damn dress would split in two. “Maybe when we’re naked,” she said instead, Devil Ísa in full flower.

Groaning, he doubled over as if she’d punched him.

Her lips twitching despite the melting sexual heat liquefying her bones, she leaned down to slip off her heels.

Sailor waited, his hand firm around hers, until she was done. Taking the heels from her, he carried them in his other hand as Ísa padded beside him on the grass that lay on this side of the pebbled path. The path ended at a weathered wooden gate, which, when opened, put them at the top of a narrow walkway that led down onto a beach Ísa couldn’t yet see but could hear.

Her heart crashed in time with the waves as they made their way down to the beach while the mansion behind them pulsed with light and music. But she didn’t turn and run away, she didn’t stop and talk herself out of it, she didn’t attempt to be a sensible adult. She followed a gorgeous, blue-eyed man down a dirt pathway to an effectively private beach.

The sand that had been tracked onto the path was gritty under her feet, the air coming off the sea cool but not cold.

“The water’s going to be icy, isn’t it?” she whispered to his broad back.

“Don’t worry, spitfire. I’ll keep you warm,” was the deep-voiced response. “Stop here.” Jumping down to the beach, he reached up to grab her by the waist, swinging her down as if she were a featherweight.

Something fluffy and mushy came to life inside Ísa. “Here?”

Shaking his head, he said, “Raj told me there’s like a little cove area—not a proper cove, but caused by— There.”

Ísa saw it at once. A huge tree had fallen into the water at some point and smashed up against some rocks where it appeared to be stuck. Between the jutting rocks on either side and the fallen trunk was a naturally created pool. The water within it was pretty calm, and it looked as if they could get to it by clambering over some rocks that didn’t appear too sharp or slippery.

Of course, she’d be walking over those rocks naked.

Ísa looked up at the moon. Imagined it shining on the stark white of her body. Gulped. “Will you close your eyes while I go in the water?” Even Devil Ísa wasn’t up for blinding him with her glow-in-the-dark form.

A glance back. “What’re you going to bribe me with?”

Ísa scowled. “Not pushing you into the water right now.” It was a toothless threat given his muscles and her lack of them.

Rubbing his jaw, he said, “Three tongue kisses. That’s my price, and I’m not budging.”

Ísa wanted to pounce on him all over again. “Two,” she countered.

“Nuh-uh. Three. Or I’m keeping both eyes wide open.” Leaning in, he pressed his nose to hers. “I really want to keep my eyes wide open.”

And Ísa really wanted to kiss him and run her hands all over that sculpted chest. “Three,” she whispered.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Nalini Singh

Cherish Hard is an insanely sweet but very sexy romance between an older heroine and younger hero, which I loved!

Nalini Singh has always excelled in writing great heroes-in-pursuit tropes, and in this book, Sailor is a great example of a hero in pursuit of a woman who caught his eye. He is easily the best part of this book for me.

He’s determined to not only prove that he can get his business off the ground but to prove that his love for Isa isn’t just a passing fancy.

Sailor Bishop is Gabe’s brother but this story took place before the events of Rock Hard so we see a bit of Gabe during his rugby playing years, which I appreciated. A lot.

But the star of the book is Sailor. He’s an amazingly sweet and considerate alpha hero. And I would recommend this book base on that alone.

That said if you’re looking for a high-conflict, angsty romance, then this book won’t be for you. Cherish Hard is light on conflict and drama but it doesn’t skimp on the sexy times. The sexy times in this book is A grade, and I was a huge fan of it.

I would’ve rated this book higher if not for one huge issue for me. I didn’t find Isa particularly interesting. Don’t get me wrong. She’s very sweet and nice and a really good person. She sacrificed so much for her family. And despite being born rich and privileged, her childhood was lonely which contributed to her insecurities and fears. She is on paper, the perfect heroine but I was personally bored with her character. I found her best friend, Nayna, a lot more interesting.

I don’t dislike Isa, it’s just that she didn’t really capture my attention. She’s okay but her character didn’t wow me.

Despite that, I did enjoy this book and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series. I’m hoping we’d get a Nayna book and maybe another Bishop brother? God, I hope so.

Nalini Singh is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Kiss series. She lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing.

If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts and free short stories on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. The Rock Kiss books are all stand alone and can be read in any order.

 

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Geri’s Review: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

MAGIC BREAKS
Series: Kate Daniels #7
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Author: Ilona Andrews
Release Date: July 29, 2014

No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers.

Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer.

And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

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This book was fraught with tension from beginning to end. Kate’s courage and mettle has been tested in the past and she always triumphed. But this might be the toughest test she has to face yet. It’s personal and it threatens everything and everyone she worked so hard for.

I was in pins and needles while reading this book. Kate seemed to be vulnerable in this book. She seemed to be floundering. Kate has always been tough so there were some moments in the book where it’s hard to see her so down and helpless, and feeling defeated. It’s hard to read. And I understand why some reviews feel that this was uncharacteristic for Kate especially since she seemed to be waiting for Curran to rescue her. And that somehow, she’s not a badass anymore.

Fortune favors the brave,” I told her. It also kills the stupid, but I decided to keep that fact to myself.”

I admit at first, I was taken aback. But the more I read the more I realized that this is the reason why Kate is special. She’s not the typical “badass” who doesn’t need anybody or feel vulnerable or doesn’t experience self-doubt. She experiences all these things and come out of it stronger and more resolute. I love that Gordon and Ilona showed us that sometimes our heroes feel helpless and that it’s okay for them to need someone come through for them. That’s what makes me root for them.

In Magic Breaks, Kate and Curran are both pushed to the absolute limits. I feared for their lives and the lives of the other characters in this series. I was still traumatized by a major character’s death in the previous book that I was worried for everyone! Yes, even the ones that we can technically consider the bad guys.

That said, I did want to kill Hugh myself. I still hated his character. Ugh. Out of all villains so far, save from the villain of season 1, I find Hugh the most punchable. I just find his character very grating. His backstory is interesting enough but his motivation was too obvious that there is no way Kate would even be tempted to join him like he wanted.

And his constant flirting with Kate wasn’t cute. It was annoying. He’s like that married boss you had right out of college. Handsome, predatory, and predictable. I’m so glad Curran beat his ass twice now!

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Roland was exceptional as a villain, mainly because you can’t quite put your finger on his motivation. Some of his decisions and actions made me question if he’s the big baddie of the series or just a misunderstood father who wants to get to know his estranged daughter. Plus, he’s just so damn likable.

Magic Breaks marks the end of some major story and character arcs in this series. In the first seven books, it was about Kate hiding her identity from her father, Roland. Everything is out in the open now. Every major players in the series knows who she is and they’ll be gunning for her. This book also marks the end of some of Curran’s arc.

Although you can consider this an ending, it’s hardly THE END because some of the decisions that Kate and Curran made will have repercussions. Not to mention there are some loose ends still that needs to be tied. I’m really excited to get to know more about Roland.

All that was missing was a neon sign that read EVIL AND CONFLICTED ABOUT IT with a flashing arrow pointing at his head.”

Overall, this was another solid installment. The humor, the excellent cast of characters, the plot, everything work seamlessly together. And although I must admit that I was expecting a bigger battle set piece especially during Kate and Roland’s confrontation. But I do understand that they might be saving the big battle towards the end of the series. Roland still holds all the cards here, and we really haven’t seen what he’s capable of yet.

If I pass out face down in this water, will you fish me out?”
“Will you promise to call me Your Majesty?”
“Hell no.”
“Then I’ll have to think about it.”

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army.

Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Oregon with their two children, three dogs and a cat. They have co-authored two series, the bestselling urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and romantic urban fantasy of The Edge.

 

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