Review: The Brazen by Willa Nash

THE BRAZEN
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Calamity, Montana #3
Author: Willa Nash
Release Date: July 15, 2021

From USA Today Bestselling Author Devney Perry, writing as Willa Nash, comes a stranded together, small town romance.

Kerrigan Hale’s personal life is about as exciting as a bucket of tar. With hard work and hustle as her steadfast companions, who needs romance or adventure? Her empire in Calamity, Montana, isn’t going to build itself.

For years, her mentor—and investor—helped make her dreams come true. Until his unexpected death put her fate in his grandson’s hands. A brazen billionaire, he seems intent on ruining Kerrigan’s life.

But if Pierce Sullivan thinks she’ll go down without a fight, he’s sorely mistaken. Pushed to the extreme, she drives to his ritzy mountain lodge to force the arrogant You Can Call Me Mr. Sullivan to hear her out.

No sooner does she arrive than a snowstorm traps her with Pierce. Stranded together for days, she’s in for the battle of her life. Pierce is nearly irresistible by candlelight. Without his suits and fancy cars, he’s almost human.

Except only a fool would let down her guard. And Kerrigan can’t risk her future. Not when she doesn’t know if he’s out to pilfer her dreams . . . or to steal her heart.

AMAZON

Never in my life had I seen an angry woman I wanted to kiss so much.

The second I read about Kerrigan yelling at the sleek business man in The Bluff, I was immediately desperate for their story. I mean, can the set up sound more delicious? Small town romance, enemies to lovers, with a splash of force proximity. Yes, please, and thank you!

Kerrigan is exactly the type of heroine I love to read about. She’s intelligent, fiercely undefended though slightly down on her luck. She took a loan from a mentor to follow her dreams, but then the investor died in a tragic accident and his entirely too handsome for his own good grandson is in town to collect on the debt. Suffice it to say they clash at first sight.

I love this series and I simply adore this author, and while I enjoyed this installment, it wasn’t entirely my favorite. The romance was cute, but just a bit too insta love for my taste. Now, that’s not to say that they get all gooey eyes the second they meet, because let’s be clear, they hate each other, mostly. It takes months for them to get on the same page, but that happens off the pages, and so when they finally do get together, it feels quick. It was still highly satisfying, but I suppose I would have loved more of a burn.

That aside, I really enjoyed this one. Though I’d be lying that Pierce’s sassy assistant Nellie didn’t steal the thunder each time she appeared on the pages. And when we get more insight into her and Pierce’s best friend? GAH. ALL OF THE NEED. But I digress.

While I didn’t love every element of this story, I still enjoyed it quite a bit. It was swoony, emotional, with multi layered characters and plenty of heart. If you love small town romance, this series is simply not to be missed.


Willa Nash is USA Today Bestselling Author Devney Perry’s alter ego, writing contemporary romance stories for Kindle Unlimited. Lover of Swedish Fish, hater of laundry, she lives in Washington State with her husband and two sons. She was born and raised in Montana and has a passion for writing books in the state she calls home.

Devney loves hearing from her readers. Connect with her on social media!

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#DGRFave & Review: The Savage And The Swan by Ella Fields

THE SAVAGE AND THE SWAN
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Author: Ella Fields
Release Date: July 14, 2021

The king of wolves was more beast than man, more tyrant than king, and so much more than he seemed.
Raised to avenge his murdered parents, he’d been trained and conditioned until nothing but violence and hatred lined the walls of his dead heart.

For nearly four years, I’d done all I could to help my kingdom as we faced the wolf king’s unconquerable evil—hardly anything at all.
As the only heir to the Gracewood line, I’d been relegated to menial tasks that would keep me and my secrets safe.

A chance to do more than fret behind our castle walls arrived when I breached them after overhearing my parents’ plans for my future. Fleeing, I unknowingly raced into a fate we’d all desperately hoped to avoid.

By the time I saw him coming, it was far too late. For my family. For my kingdom.
For my heart.
Before I could staunch the bleeding, the king had me under his giant paw, and one wrong move after another caused those razor-sharp claws to sink deeper and deeper beneath my bruised skin.

I might have been trapped, naïve, and furious, but I still had a kingdom to save—and a plan.
 Yet when we collided, the bloodshed, the fear, his atrocities… all of it dissolved like stardust upon the night sea.

The stars had mapped out our destiny, but it didn’t matter what they or my heart wanted.
 I refused to see the enigmatic male, the heartless lost boy with a soul beneath the flesh of a monster.
The savage king who’d destroyed everything I loved would fall—even if my heart fell with him.

Inspired by Hades and Persephone, Rumpelstiltskin, and The Swan Princess, The Savage and the Swan is not connected to any other Ella Fields novel. It’s a full-length standalone romantic fantasy containing mature content.

AMAZON

I loathed her and all she stood for. I loathed her nearly as much as I wanted her. I’d been cursed. I was sure of it. The bird was both my remedy and my affliction.

*deep breaths*

Ok, ok, give me a second to gather my wits here.
*hyperventilates*

So I… no that’s not it.
This book was… no that’s not right.

*takes calming breath*

ILOVEDTHISFREAKINGBOOKSOMUCHICANTEVENDEALRIGHTNOW

Ah. I feel better now. So where were we?

It’s been a hot minute since I read a fantasy romance, and I’m not even sure why. I love PNR so of course I’d love fantasy, but I just haven’t come across anything that piqued my interest lately in the genre. Until I read the blurb for this book….

And then I may have begged, pleaded, and offered an ovary in exchange for an ARC. What? Don’t you judge me. Have you read that blurb? I mean C’MON!

Don’t you have innocent people to slaughter?” My cheeks burned, and I refused to meet his eyes, choosing instead to stare at his throat. The fine hairs that dusted it, crawling up and over that fiercely hewn chin.
“I’ve already crossed that off my to-do list,” he stated with such irritating indifference that I wished I had hit him with the poor books.

There is only one word to describe the experience that was this book. EPIC. The story developed behind my eyes like a movie reel and the majestic and rich world building sucked me right into an obsession.

The second I read that it was inspired by Hades and Persephone, Rumpelstiltskin, and The Swan Princess, I had to read it. Because I love all things Hades and Persephone, The Swan Princess is one of my favorite cartoons, and rumpelstistskin? Well I was simply rabid with curiosity on how that even fit in here.

Now imagine a world where two kingdoms are engaged in a bloody battle for years. A fae land where the beautiful princess has to marry a human prince in order to gain protection from the savage king of wolves, only to fall right into his clutches. Sound delicious? Well, that’s because it is.

If there’s one thing that I love, it’s a fierce heroine. And Opal? She was all of the things. She was fierce, brave, and one of my favorite heroines I’ve read in a while. And our wolfish king? OH MY OVARIES. The man was to die for. Pun intended. He’s a man who’s been honed into a finely tuned weapon for revenge. He’s vicious, cold hearted, and feared by all. The enemies to lovers vibe in this story was ON POINT. I couldn’t get enough of the tension between the two of them. And if there’s one thing that Ella does is deliver on that delicious angst with the feels thrown in and I was so here for it.

This is seriously going right up there in my top reads of 2021. I simply loved everything about this story. I devoured it. I was obsessed. I was riveted. Captivated. Hypnotized. I never wanted it to end. Ella seriously hit it right out of the ballpark with this book and I simply cannot recommend it enough. It was magical. It was deliciously, finger licking good. IT WAS EPIC.

Review: Exposed by Kristen Callihan

EXPOSED
Series: VIP #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Kristen Callihan
Release Date: July 13, 2021

Brenna

There are some people in life who know exactly how to push your buttons. For me, it’s Rye Peterson. We can’t spend more than ten minutes together before we’re at each other’s throats, which makes working together that much harder. Rye is the bassist for Kill John, the biggest rock band in the world, and I am his publicist. It doesn’t help that the man is gorgeous, funny, talented, and…never takes anything seriously. Avoidance is key.

But everything changes when he overhears something he shouldn’t: a confession made in a moment of weakness. Now the man I’ve tried so hard to ignore is offering me the greatest temptation of all—him.

Rye

Brenna James is the one. The one I can’t have. The one I can’t get out of my mind. Believe me, I’ve tried; the woman loathes me. I managed well enough—until I heard her say she’s as lonely as I am. That she needed to be touched, held, satisfied. And I could no longer deny the truth: I wanted to be the one to give her what she craved.

I convinced her that it would just be sex, mutual satisfaction with nothing deeper. But the moment I have her, she becomes my world. I’ve never given her a good reason to trust me before. Now, I’ve got to show Brenna that we’re so much better together than we ever were apart.

Things are going to get messy. But getting messy with Brenna is what I do best.

AMAZON | iBOOKS | NOOK | KOBO 

“I’ve spent my entire adult life either wanting you or wanting to forget you.”

I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for this book. But if there’s one thing that Kristen Callihan does well, is she makes every minute, month, and year of the agonizing wait for our next VIP fix super worth it when she releases the next one. And when I got my grabby little hands on this book, no sleep was had because I had to devour it in one sitting.

I’m good, Bren. I’ll do whatever you want, for as long as you want. I’ll make certain you’re taken care of, and I won’t tell a soul.”
Jesus. I can’t breathe. “So selfless,” I murmur. “And what do you get out of all of this?”
“You.” His fingers stroke my braid. “I get you.”

God. Brenna and Rye. These two just made my cold black heart feel all warm and fuzzy. They’ve spent years in an antagonizing back and forth of hate lust and forced proximity. Brenna is Killian’s cousin and Kill John’s publicist and Rye is the bassist and Killian’s best friend. Until one conversation that Rye overhears changes everything.

My power is in maintaining the illusion that nothing can get to me, and I accept that as part of doing business. But some days? Some days, I want to crumble. I want…comfort, touch, release.

Brenna is a power woman that always put her career first. But she can’t help but feel like something is missing. And when she spills to her friend what it is and Rye overhears? Well let’s just say he volunteers as tribute.

While Brenna is all hard edges and fearful avoidance, Rye is the sexy softhearted one that is willing to put it all on the line for her. I loved this man so hard. SO HARD. I loved that they’ve know each other for so long, but only start to get to know each other over the course of their arrangement. Seeing how they misinterpreted things about each other through the years was almost painful, if they didn’t fully talk it out when the subject came out. I loved watching them grow closer together. I loved their fiery passion. And I absolutely loved the tight bond of the band and their friendships and relationships. I live for cameos from Scottie, what can I say?

The story is told in dual POVs and I couldn’t get enough. I also loved the twist on the romantic conclusion. I loved seeing Brenna’s hard edges soften. And did I mention that I loved my bearded, dirty talking, and uber sweet bassist? Because GAH.

Control has always been mine, no matter the partner, no matter the situation. Rye is another story. Hell, he’s a whole other genre. I can’t control Rye. I can’t control my feelings when I’m with him. I’m on a Tilt-a-Whirl in the dark, terrified the harness might snap.

I did wish we got a little more fleshing out of Rye’s story. While Brenna got the focus here, which I get, we did spend a good chunk of the story on Rye’s issue, and I would have loved more on that.

But as it was, I still devoured this book. It was sexy, entertaining, and oh so satisfying. I’m already desperate for my next fix of VIP with Whip’s story.

Kristen Callihan is an author because there’s nothing else she’d rather be. She has written New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestsellers. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. Her debut book, Firelight, received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence and was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, Best Book of Spring 2012 by Publishers Weekly, and Best Romance Book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she’s not writing, she’s reading.

AUTHOR LINKS
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#DGRFave Review & Excerpt: It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

IT HAPPENED ONE SUMMER
Series: It Happened One Summer #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Tessa Bailey
Release Date: July 13, 2021

Tessa Bailey is back with a Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” who is cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town… where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn’t belong. 

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.

AMAZON

Brendan Taggart was the first Westport resident to spot the women.He heard a car door slam out by the curb and slowly turned on the barrel that passed as a seat in No Name. His bottle of beer paused halfway to his mouth, the loud storytelling and music filling the bar fading away.

Through the grubby window, Brendan watched the pair exit on opposite sides of a taxi and immediately wrote them off as clueless tourists who obviously had the wrong address.

That is, until they started hauling suitcases out of the trunk. Seven, to be exact.

He grunted. Sipped his beer.

They were a ways off the beaten path. There wasn’t an inn for several blocks. On top of misjudging their destination, they were dressed for the beach at night, during a late-summer rain, no umbrella to speak of—and visibly confounded by their surroundings.

It was the one in the floppy hat who caught his eye right away, purely because she looked the most ridiculous, a lipstick-shaped purse dangling from her forearm, wrists limp and drawn up to her shoulders, as if she was afraid to touch something. She tilted her head back and gazed up at the building and laughed. And that laugh turned into what looked like a sob, though he couldn’t hear it through the music and pane of glass.

As soon as Brendan noticed the way the rain was molding the dress to Floppy Hat’s tits, he glanced away quickly, going back to what he’d been doing before. Pretending to be interested in Randy’s overboard story, even though he’d heard it eighty goddamn times.

“The sea was boiling that day,” Randy said, in a voice equivalent to scrap metal being crushed. “We’d already hit our quota and then some, thanks to the captain over here.” He saluted Brendan with his frothy pint. “And there I was, on a deck slipperier than a duck’s ass, picturing the bathtub full of cash I’d be swimming in when we got home. We’re hauling in the final pot, and there it was, the biggest crab in the damn sea, the motherfucking grandpappy of all crabs, and he tells me with his beady little eyes that he ain’t going down without a fight. Noooo, sir.”

Randy propped a leg up on the stool he’d been sitting on earlier, his craggy features arranged for maximum drama. He’d been working on Brendan’s boat longer than Brendan had been captaining it. Had seen more seasons than most of the crew combined. At the end of each one, he threw himself a retirement party. And then he showed up for the next season like clockwork, having spent every last dime of last year’s take.

“When I tell you that sucker wrapped a leg around the arm of my slicker, right through the pot, the mesh, all of it, I’m not lying. He was hell-bent for leather. Time froze, ladies and gentlemen. The captain is yelling at me to haul in the pot, but hear me now, I was bamboozled. That crab put a spell on me—I’m telling you. And that’s when the wave hit, conjured by the crab himself. Nobody saw it coming, and just like that, I was tossed into the drink.”

The man who was like a grandfather to Brendan took a pause to drain half his beer.

“When they pulled me in . . .” He exhaled. “That crab was nowhere to be found.”

The two people in the crowded bar who hadn’t already heard the legend laughed and applauded—and that was the moment Floppy Hat and the other one decided to make their entrance. Within seconds, it was quiet enough to hear a pin drop, and that didn’t surprise Brendan one bit. Westport was a tourist stop to be sure, but they didn’t get a lot of outsiders stumbling into No Name. It was an establishment that couldn’t be found on Yelp.

Mainly because it was illegal.

But it wasn’t only the shock of non-locals walking in and disrupting their Sunday-night bullshit session. No, it was the way they looked. Especially Floppy Hat, who walked in first, hitting the easy energy of the room with shock paddles. In her short, loose dress and sandals that wrapped around her calves, she could have stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine for all those . . . tight lines and smooth curves.

Brendan could be objective about that.

His brain could point out an attractive woman without him caring one way or the other.

He set his beer down on the windowsill and crossed his arms, feeling a flash of annoyance at everyone’s stupefied expressions. Randy had rolled out the red carpet in the form of his tongue lolling out of his mouth, and the rest of the men were mentally preparing marriage proposals, by the look of it.

“Little help with the luggage, Pipes?” called the second girl from the entrance, where she’d propped open the door with a hip, struggling under the weight of a suitcase.

“Oh!” Floppy Hat whirled around, pink climbing the sides of her face—and hell, that was some face. No denying it, now that there wasn’t a dirty windowpane distorting it. Those were the kind of baby blues that made men sign their life away, to say nothing of that wide, stubborn upper lip. The combination rendered her guileless and seductive at the same time, and that was trouble Brendan wanted no part of. “Sorry, Hanns.” She winced. “I’ll go get the rest—”

“I’ll get them,” at least nine men said at once, tripping over themselves to reach the door. One of them took the suitcase from Floppy Hat’s companion, while several others lunged into the rain, getting stuck side by side in the doorway. Half of those jackasses were on Brendan’s crew, and he almost disowned them right then and there. 

Within seconds—although not without some familiar bickering—all seven suitcases were piled in the middle of the bar, everyone standing around them expectantly. “What gentlemen! So polite and welcoming,” Floppy Hat crooned, hugging her bizarre handbag to her chest. “Thank you!”

“Yes, thanks,” said the second girl quietly, drying the rain off her face with the sleeve of a UCLA sweatshirt. Los Angeles. Of course. “Uh, Pipes?” She turned in a circle, taking in their surroundings. “Are you sure this is the right place?”

In response to her friend’s question, she seemed to notice where she was standing for the first time. Those eyes grew even bigger as she catalogued the interior of No Name and the people occupying it. Brendan knew what she was seeing, and already he resented the way she recoiled at the dust on the mismatched seats, the broken floorboards, the ancient fishing nets hanging from the rafters. The disappointment in the downturned corners of her mouth spoke volumes. Not good enough for you, baby? There’s the door.

With prim movements, Pipes—keeper of ridiculous names and purses—snapped the handbag open and drew out a jewel-crusted phone, tapping the screen with a square red nail. “Is this . . . sixty-two North Forrest Street?”

A chorus of yeses greeted the strangled question.

“Then . . .” She turned to her friend, chest expanding on quick breaths. “Yes.”

“Oh,” responded UCLA, before she cleared her throat, pasting a tense smile on a face that was pretty in a much subtler way than Pipes’s. “Um . . . sorry about the awkward entrance. We didn’t know anyone was going to be here.” She shifted her weight in boots that wouldn’t be good for anything but sitting down. “I’m Hannah Bellinger. This is my sister, Piper.”

Piper. Not Pipes.

Not that it was much of an improvement.

The floppy hat came off, and Piper shook out her hair, as if they were in the middle of a photo shoot. She gave everyone a sheepish smile. “We own this place. Isn’t that crazy?”

If Brendan thought their entrance had produced silence, it was nothing compared to this.

Owned this place?

From IT HAPPENED ONE SUMMER by Tessa Bailey, published by Avon Books. Copyright © 2021 by Tessa Bailey. Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollinsPublishers.

He was a set-in-his-ways fisherman. She was a rich, adventurous socialite.

Y’all. I’m going to make a pretty extreme statement here and you may want to sit down for it. But this? This was, hands down, my favorite Tessa Bailey book to date. I’m on bookish cloud nine. I felt like I was floating just reading it. And the goofy grin on my face for the entire book? Couldn’t help it! I’m in love and his name is Brendan Taggart.
This book had everything; humor, steam, a slow burn, a small town setting, a quirky socialite, and a grumpy bear…err…fisherman.

It won’t let me just use my own name as my username.”
“Yeah, probably because about nine hundred Brendan Taggarts joined before you.”
“So what should I use?”
“CaptainCutie69,” Fox spat out.
“IGotCrabs4U,” Deke supplied.
“SlipperyWhenWet.” Brendan stared.
“You’re all fired. Go home.”

This story reminded me a little of It Had to Be You but in a totally unique way. Maybe it was just the feels that it brought out, but man, I just died.

Piper is a type of heroine that could easily be seen as a fluff, unless Tessa writes her. She’s a spoiled socialite who has never known hard work or trouble beyond no good parties around on the weekend. So when her stepfather finally has enough of her antics and inability to take anything serious, her and her sister find themselves in a small town running their late fathers dive bar in the middle of a fishing town. Suffice it to say they’re ill equipped for the task, but in the most hilarious of ways.

Piper followed, looking down at him from the top of the stairs. “Are we friends, Brendan?”
“No,” he called back, without missing a beat.
Her mouth hung open, a laugh huffing out of her as she closed the door. Hannah sat up and asked, “What the hell is going on there?”
Slowly, she shook her head. “I have no freaking idea.”

No one has ran the bar for years since the passing of their father. And the town just kind of took it as their own. So when Brendan meets who he assumes is an air headed socialite, suffice it to say they get off on the right foot. Add into the fact that no one knew of the long lost daughters and they do anything but fit in with the locals and well, it’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. But god was it good!

The slow burn of this romance was EVERYTHING. And I really mean everything. I loved watching Piper grow into her own and I loved watching Brendan fall for her. She was such a sweet, quirky, and endearing character. And the grumpy and broody fisherman captain? I LIVED FOR HIM.

Going to fuck the word ‘friend’ right out of your beautiful mouth. You’ll forget how to say anything but my name. Real quick, honey.”

I loved this book beyond words and beyond reason. It was funny, swoony, and with a sizzle of Tessa’s signature dirty talk and I was so here for it. If there’s one book you add to your TBR this summer, make it this one. The perfect beach read is here and I can’t recommend it enough. Now if Tessa can just write Hannah and Fox’s book faster because the level of need that I have for that one is UNREASONABLE.

 

Review: What If You & Me by Roni Loren

WHAT IF YOU & ME
Series: Say Everything #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Roni Loren
Release Date: July 6, 2021

The world can be a scary place. At least, that’s what Andi Lockley’s anxiety wants her to believe. It doesn’t help that she narrowly escaped a dangerous man years ago, or that every relationship since has been colored with that lingering fear. But things are better now―she’s channeling everything into her career as a horror novelist and true crime podcaster, and her next book may be the breakthrough she needs.

If only her grumpy new neighbor would stop stomping around at all hours of the night.

Former firefighter Hill Dawson can’t sleep. After losing part of his leg in a rescue gone wrong, he’s now stuck in limbo. He needs to figure out what he’s supposed to do with his life, and he can’t let himself get distracted by the pretty redhead next door. But when someone breaks into Andi’s place, Hill can’t stop himself from rushing in to play the hero. Soon, a tentative bond forms between the unlikely pair. But what starts out as a neighborly exchange quickly turns into the chance for so much more…if Andi can learn to put aside her fear and trust in herself―and love―again.

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Roni Loren blends heat and heart in this emotionally charged story.

AMAZON 

He listened. He hadn’t pushed or rushed her. He hadn’t cajoled. But more than that, he hadn’t made her feel wrong or broken for being the way she was. He’d simply been with her in that moment, meeting her where she was and seeming to enjoy what thye were doing as much as she did.”

When I read grumpy neighbor in the blurb to this, I had to read it. The grump/sunshine trope is catnip for me and I will never get enough of it.

Now my darling OCD reader friends, close your eyes for a second. Because I’m about to admit I didn’t read book one in this series. I said close your eyes and stop judging me. GOD! Where was I? Ah yes. This is shocking, considering I’ve read most of Roni’s backlist and I seriously have no idea how I missed book one in the Say Everything series. But I was so excited for this book after reading the blurb, I couldn’t wait to read book one first. So here we are. *grins unrepentantly*

If you’re looking for a swoony, emotional read with plenty of steam, look no further. This story seriously packed a punch of the feels. We have a heroine who’s a horror writer and a true crime podcaster. Quirky heroine lovers, you’ll want her for your bff. It’s impossible not to love Andi straight off the bat. Her dark and painful past is something you learn as the story progresses and I swear it made me love her all the more.

Andi is struggling to write her newest book, and her noisy neighbor stomping around in the apartment next door through all hours of the night doesn’t help. And can I just say I loved the way they meet? Because I didn’t know whether to laugh or swoon. But I digress again.

Hill is a former firefighter with a tortured past. Still reeling from the loss of his career from an injury that almost cost him his life, he broods in his apartment and avoids people. But when his sweet and beautiful new neighbor crashes into his apartment fearful that someone just broke into hers, he can’t quite avoid her.

This was a sweet, slow burn romance. I loved the friendship that Andi and Hill formed before the romance ever developed. The chemistry was always there but it took a bit to bubble to the surface. There’s also the added element of suspense which added another layer of interesting to the story.

While sweet romance isn’t typically my cuppa, this one did hit the spot. I loved Hill and Andi together. I loved that the author took such a heavy subject matter and managed to not weigh the story down with angst or drama. It was just two people dealing with the demons of their past and learning about themselves through each other. A truly satisfying, swoony romance with plenty of feels and a dash of suspense.

Review: The Sweetest Thing by Maya Hughes

THE SWEETEST THING
Series: SWANK #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Maya Hughes
Release Date: July 1, 2021

Goldilocks has gotten a bit off track. I found her in my room, my bathroom and my bathtub to be precise.

Sabrina Mason is my new roommate. My new unwelcome roommate. Babysitting my Grandma’s apartment means Sabrina’s here to stay. But we’d agreed my room was off limits.

It’s bad enough my nightmares are getting worse, but having her around makes holding it together a little easier. Her smell, smart mouth and sexy a–anyway. I can’t let her get under my skin although it might be too late. In her sloppy bun and pajamas curled up on the couch, she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. But a relationship isn’t what I need right now.

It’s hard to remember that when she’s glowering at me when I’m being an ass. We’re forced to live together for only a few more months, I can hold out until I can’t.

She’s in my bathtub and she’s not telling me to leave. So I ask the question, “do you want me to go?”

And I’m shocked as hell when her answer isn’t ‘yes’.

AMAZON

She was a temptation beyond any I’d faced before. I’d never wanted anything as much as I wanted to feel her against me.

Swank is Maya’s more lighthearted series featuring male best friends who meet their matches and The Sweetest Thing was Hunter’s story.

After an ugly breakup, Sabrina is just looking to pick her pieces back up. A generous offer of temporary room is something that she can’t pass up. But what she didn’t expect is the insomniac, cranky roommate that also happens to live there.

Hunter is a man with a tortured past who is desperate to hang on to his secrets. And a woman invading his personal space was not on his agenda. Especially a woman that temps him beyond reason. Theirs is a delicious slow burn full of push and pull and the story a lighthearted contemporary romance. What kept this being a higher rating for me was the same issue I had with The Proposal; it felt too drawn out. I found myself skimming a good chunk of it. DOn’t get me wrong, it was sweet and cute, but also felt unnecessary. It could have easily have shaved off 5-7 chapters with the story losing nothing in the process. As it was, I found myself growing bored at the pacing.

I loved Sabrina’s character. She was so incredibly endearing with her insecurities and the way she fought through Hunter’s stubbornness with his brother that you can’t help but love her. Hunter was a little more hard to love. His push and pull, hot and cold personality made me want to shake him. And his refusal of his brother made me want to strangle him. While I understood his struggles, it just didn’t feel dire enough to warrant his reaction to everything.

That being said, I still enjoyed it. It was cute, fun, and satisfying. It hit the spot just right for a good Maya Hughes fix that I needed after her Falling trilogy. And the cross over into that trilogy with the intro to the couple of the next SWANK book? NEED! I can’t wait for Maddy’s story.

If you’re looking for a lighthearted and steamy romance, this will hit the spot nicely.

Maya Hughes, that’s me!, can often be found sneaking in another chapter while hiding in the
bathroom from her kids! 🙂 I’m a romance writer who loves taking inspiration from everyday life,
namely my husband and biggest fan. Inspiration also strikes when I hear a song, meet someone
new or daydream while at soccer practice.

I love writing stories that capture the possibilities of the paths less travelled and enjoy
experiencing life through my characters’ eyes.

I’m the mom of three little ones, the wife to an amazing husband and also work full time. Some
of my favorite things are cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, white wine, laughing until I can’t breathe,
traveling with my family and Jeff Goldblum.

AUTHOR LINKS
Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook

Review: Dark Queen by Ker Dukey

DARK QUEEN
Genre: Dark, Mafia Romance
Author: Ker Dukey
Release Date: June 28, 2021

He was my boss.

Rich, ambitious, dominating.

I was a waitress, struggling to pay the fees for ballet school.

Poor, talented, desperate.

He needed to marry to appease his dying father, to inherit the family empire.

It wasn’t supposed to be real, or forever.

Until he changed the rules.

What Mafia king Luca Leto wants, he gets, and he’s crowned his queen.

Me.

I’m under his rule now.

And his reign is cruel and toxic.

They call him the dark king and to gain my freedom I’m going to have to become a dark queen.

#Standalone Mafia romance.

AMAZON

You’re how villains are made, little ballerina,” I growl. “Tempting fate, wanting to play with the wicked.”

I have a confession…
*whispers* this was my first Ker Dukey book *hides*
I know, okay? Clearly I’ve been living under a rock for some time. But in my defense, the second I read the blurb for this book, I knew I would be introduced to this author. I’m a sucker for a dark mafia romance and when that romance is between a down on her luck and trying to make something of herself ballerina and the bad boy mafia king determined to resist her? SIGN. ME. UP.

I love the fact that we’re given a young female heroine that isn’t a naive virgin. This is a female that knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. Though I will say I didn’t particularly love her choices in the very beginning. After the death of her mother, Alyssa escapes her small town to chase her dreams to become a ballerina. The prestigious ballet school having a scholarship position for her is step one, but trying to afford her life in the big city is another. A job at a gentleman’s club is the solution she’s been looking for, but the mercurial and hot and cold owner is nothing she expected.

Luca is determined to fight the chemistry between them and the push and pull element had me hooked. Unfortunately, and I can’t quite put my finger on the why, the characters and their relationship failed to really draw me in. I just never fully connected to them. It felt surface level and something just always felt missing for me. What ultimately fell short was the extremely rushed ending, and particularly the strange bit at the end. I appreciated the twist that I didn’t see coming, but I really wished it was more fleshed out. As it was it felt like the story dragged for about 90% to ultimately feel like it was quickly wrapped up in one chapter that didn’t feel satisfying in the least.

But all that aside it was still an entertaining read and had me hooked on the author’s writing to want to read all her other books.

Review: Carnal Urges by J.T. Geissinger

CARNAL URGES
Series: Queens & Monsters #2
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Suspense
Author: J.T. Geissinger
Release Date: June 30, 2021

Carnal (adjective):
1) Relating to the pleasures of the body
2) Given to sensual indulgence
3) The man who kidnapped me

The devil has blue eyes, an Irish accent, and a hatred for me that runs deep.

He blames me for starting a war.
Consorting with his enemies.
Getting his men killed.

Though I’m innocent on all charges, he wants his pound of flesh.
With an eye on revenge, he makes me his captive.

But as we’ll both soon discover, there are more powerful urges than that for revenge.

 

When the devil meets his match but she’s his sworn enemy, that’s when the real war begins.

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

AMAZON 

In a life full of unforgivable sins, sleeping with the enemy would be the absolute worst.

In case you were wondering, above is actual footage of me reading this book. BECAUSE OH MY HOLY BOOK CRACK. This was DELICIOUS.

Men say they love a strong woman, right up until they meet one.

The second Sloane appeared on the pages of Ruthless Creatures, I was instantly captivated. There’s just something about a strong, smart, fiercely independent woman that owns her sexuality and doesn’t feel bad about being one and done with men while leaving them all panting in her wake. And what I mean by that, is this woman was instantly my spirit animal. I loved her as a secondary character but I was nervous about her being the main one. Because it’s so easy to take a character like this and overdo it. Make her too much. But somehow, she was even better than I ever hoped.

I’m not the girl who gets butterflies. I’m not the girl who swoons or begs. I’m the one who moves on before things get complicated, who keeps moving on relentlessly without looking back, like a shark that has to keep swimming forward its whole life or it will die. I’m the one who doesn’t fall. Who doesn’t feel. Who doesn’t get attached.

And you may also remember Declan from Cruel Paradise. And if you haven’t read that series, you haven’t lived. Just sayin’. But I digress. Declan was the right hand man for the Irish mafia, and suddenly finds himself at the head of it in this book. He’s also the mortal enemy of Kage from Ruthless Creatures, who happens to be Sloane’s bestie’s new man. Complication, they has it. But I digress again.

This was enemies to lovers GOLD. Declan kidnaps Sloane and keeps her captive, only it doesn’t go as he planned considering the woman is opinionated, with a razor sharp tongue, and completely fearless. She challenges him at every turn and turns him on at every corner. Their banter was the thing mu bookish dreams were made of.

I’m probably going to die with only you for company. Can you blame me for being upset?” His eyes are narrowed, doubtful, arctic blue.
I throw my hands in the air. “I’m not invincible!”
“So that deal you made with the devil for the power to kill with run-on sentences didn’t include immortality?”

Y’all. When I tell you I lived for this banter, words can’t describe the level of goofy smile I had on my face reading it.

Now I liked book one, but also wanted more story and more tension and (whispers shamefully) less sex. What? Yes it happens even to me. But I digress again. This gave me the tension I had so needed. The buildup was fiery and delicious. And when these two finally collide? HOLY MOTHER!!!!! What’s the best thing you can imagine for a fiercely independent woman? Give her an uber dominant alpha with a penchant for kink. YES PLEASE.
I’ll bind you and blindfold you, probably gag you with my tie, too. And I’ll make you come, over and over. I’ll make you glad you let yourself submit. Are you ready?”


The steam, people! THE STEAM. I died for it. I loved Sloane slowly work her quirky charm on Declan almost as much as I loved his dominant side completely own her in bed.

In this moment, all I want is to let him run me over. To let him break me, savage me, tear me apart.

Carnal Urges was action packed, quick paced, filled with humor, banter to die for, and steam hot enough to set fire to your reader. When I tell you I died for this book, I mean I DIED FOR THIS BOOK. This was JT Geissinger in all of her amazing glory and I was so here for it. And the twist at the end? DIE. I DIE. Seriously. I need the next book like yesterday.

If you love a sizzling hot mafia romance with an uber alpha to die for and a sassy and strong willed heroine to challenge him at every turn, welcome to your next addiction. This book was all of the things! I cannot recommend it enough.

J.T. Geissinger is a bestselling author of emotionally charged romance and women’s fiction. Ranging from funny, feisty rom coms to intense, edgy suspense, her books have sold more than one million copies and been translated into several languages.

She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and is a two-time finalist for the RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America®. She has also been a finalist in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.

Her first novel was published in 2012. Since then she’s written eighteen more novels. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, drinking wine, surfing the internet, and daydreaming about all the things she’s going to be when she grows up. She lives near the beach in Los Angeles with her husband and deaf/demented rescue kitty, Ginger.

Connect with J.T. Geissinger

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |  Pinterest | GoodReads |  BookBub |  Join Geissinger’s Gang Reader Group |  Stay up to date by joining J.T.’s mailing list | Website 

Review: Heartless by Gena Showalter

HEARTLESS
Series:
Immortal Enemies #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Author: Gena Showalter
Release Date: June 29, 2021

Vengeance is irresistible…

Kaysar the Unhinged One, fae King of Midnight, can drive anyone to madness with his song. A ruthless warrior forged in hate, he lives to force his enemies to their knees.

He will stop at nothing to succeed—even abduct and seduce his foe’s beloved bride, ensuring his own child one day sits on the male’s throne.

Except, his prize escapes to the mortal realm before the first kiss, her heart transplanted into a mortal beauty with dangerous secrets…

Chantel “Cookie” Bardot is a professional gamer girl great at trash talking, bad at peopling. After a long awaited surgery, she begins to morph into a powerful fae princess.

Catapulted into a strange land ruled by a cruel but seductive villain, she must battle flesh and blood monsters and navigate royal intrigues.

But the true danger is Kaysar, whose every wicked touch tempts her beyond reason. Should she run…or descend into the darkness with him?

AMAZON 

He struck her as a man who murdered without hesitation, breaking a sweat or regretting his actions.

As someone who’s read Gena’s entire backlist, it’s safe for me to say that this woman can write the alphabet on a sheet of toilet paper and I’d read it. So while I’ve been ravenous for Hades’s book and more of her LoTu, I will still jump at everything else she writes. And a brand new series that’s titled Immortal Enemies? Yeah you bet your patootie I’ll be all over it. No one writes enemies to lovers banter quite like Showalter. Then you add into it her sassy, sharp tongued, and bad@ss heroines meet tortured and uber protective heroes and I’m putty. PUTTY I TELLS YA.

Maybe you should let me go now?” she said. She needed a moment to think without him nearby.
Another chuckle. “Does my proximity bother you, sweetling?”
“Yes,” she burst out. “And I’d prefer an endearment like Machete or Chops. Now be a good boy, and let me go.”

The one thing I’ve come to appreciate about Gena’s stories, is the world building. We get a new world with fae, goblins, centaurs, and seers and I was so here for it. None of it felt like a data dump. All of it felt incredibly vivid, enchanting, and completely addictive.

Kaysar the Unhinged One is certainly appropriately known through the kingdom. The man is practically deranged in his need for revenge. The only thing that drives him is bringing all of the pain and suffering to his enemies who stole everything precious from him when he was just a small boy.

Chantel “Cookie” Bardot is a quirky gamer with a best friend who’s in her 60s and a cat to keep her company. She also has a bad heart and is looking at certain death unless she gets a heart transplant. Now I won’t give you a summary here because you can get everything you need from the blurb. But the second Cookie gets thrust into the world of Kaysar, I was totally and completely invested.

The tension and the relationship building between these two was utterly delicious. Their banter is hilarious and with a vein of sexual tension that’s so good, that by the time they finally give into you, you feel like you may go into flames yourself. There’s nothing better than that build up and man, I loved it so much here. Cookie is a bit of a nut herself. A gamer, she’s a bloodthirsty little thing herself. And when she gets a taste for battle in her new world, she finds she rather likes it. I couldn’t picture a better half for Kaysar’s particular brand of crazy. I loved watching him falling for her in spite of himself and I loved watching Cookie come into her own. I was afraid that having Lulundria’s heart and some of her memories may eventually morph her into someone else, but really it just gave her a boost.

There’s so much build up here that I can’t wait to read next with some secondary characters. Like a certain Frostline prince that lost his loved bride only to lose her all over again when her heart goes into the body of a woman that falls for his mortal enemy. GAH. How epic does that sound? Because NEED.

I will never complain about a new series from the queen of PNR. So even though I’m pretty sure I would go crazy until I get Hades’s book soon, this new series certainly helps. An entire series based on the enemies to lovers vibes? YES MA’AM! BRING IT I say.

Review: Lessons In Sin by Pam Godwin

LESSONS IN SIN
Genre: Taboo, Forbidden Romance
Author: Pam Godwin
Release Date: June 29, 2021

There’s no absolution for the things I’ve done.

But I found a way to control my impulses.

I became a priest.

As Father Magnus Falke, I suppress my cravings. As the headteacher of a Catholic boarding school, I’m never tempted by a student.

Until Tinsley Constantine.

The bratty princess challenges my rules and awakens my dark nature.

With each punishment I lash upon her, I want more. In my classroom, private rectory, and bent over my altar, I want all of her.

One touch risks everything I stand for.
My faith.
My redemption.
And even my life.

As if that could stop me. I need her pain, and her heart, and she needs my lessons in sin.

AMAZON | iBOOKS | NOOK | KOBO | GOOGLE PLAY 

Iron sheathed in suede, that voice belonged to a man who bent for no one. His sculpted lips lured victims to the altar with the promise of heavenly salvation before condemning them to eternal hell.

Age gap. Forbidden romance. Student/Teacher. Dirty Priest. I am in book heaven right now floating on endorphins so high, I don’t know if there’s moving on from this story.

Pam Godwin never ceases to amaze me with her talent of creating raw, riveting, and broken characters that I simply cannot get enough of. And a priest with a tortured past, seeking salvation of the collar within the walls of a school for the rich and broken…well it just doesn’t get much more delicious than that. Father Magnus was pure, sizzling energy. The second the man appears on the page, it crackles with electricity. I can’t even describe it to you, but this was one of the most enigmatic characters I’ve read from Pam. And having read her entire backlist, that’s saying something.

Now while there’s no doubt Pam can write the hell out of an alpha hero, what I’ve come to love most about her stories are her heroines. These are tough as nails women who are no simpering ingenues. And it’s not small feat to write an 18 year old virgin heroine but make her an old soul in an entirely believable way. Tinsley Constantine is the youngest daughter in the extravagantly rich Constantine family. She’s also the f*ck up. Turning her nose at tradition, she yearns for freedom to discover herself, but one act out too many lands her in the strict Catholic boarding school. What first starts as bratty behavior to get herself expelled, soon turns into something more when she lands in the crosshairs of Magnus.

For the next hour, I showed her how a sadist made a woman beg. I taught her my lessons in sin.

This is a slow burn. A deliciously painful slow burn full of chemistry and sexual tension. I fell instantly for Tinsley’s character. She’s wild, willful, but also incredibly smart and caring. She has no problem standing her ground and challenges Magnus as every turn. I also loved her loving nature.

The romance here is GAH. It was EVERYTHING. When I tell you that I devoured this from cover to cover in one sitting, I mean I couldn’t set it down for even a second. I though Pam created my favorite student teacher romance in Dark Notes, but man, this book owned me. I don’t know anyone else who can pull off a 20 year age gap with an 18 year old heroine like this.

Lessons in Sin was deliciously taboo, darkly erotic, sinful, and oh so addictive! This may be my favorite Godwin book to date.

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Pam Godwin, lives in the Midwest with her husband, their two children, and a foulmouthed parrot. When she ran away, she traveled fourteen countries across five continents, attended three universities, and married the vocalist of her favorite rock band.
Java, tobacco, and dark romance novels are her favorite indulgences, and might be considered more unhealthy than her aversion to sleeping, eating meat, and dolls with blinking eyes.
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