Review & Giveaway: Hold On To Hope by AL Jackson

HOLD ON TO HOPE
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: AL Jackson
Release Date: October 28, 2019

A best friends-to-lovers, stand-alone romance from New York Times Bestselling Author, A.L. Jackson . . .

Evan Bryant wasn’t your typical hero.

But he was mine.

Broken by the worlds’ standards, he was still the strongest boy I would ever know.

My best friend. The boy I’d given everything to. My heart, my body, and the promise of forever.

The day I’d needed him most, he walked away.

He left me shattered and questioning the love I’d thought we’d shared.

 

Three years later, I wasn’t prepared for him to return to Gingham Lakes.

It wouldn’t have mattered if he wasn’t the most beautiful man I’d ever seen.

My fingers still would have ached to caress his skin.

My body still would have begged to get lost in his touch.

And my heart . . . it would have always sung his name.

But time changes things. With it, secrets that could ruin everything.

Can we find a way to love again, or have the fears of our past stolen the hope of our forever…

AMAZON PAPERBACK | AMAZON EBOOK | AUDIBLE

I don’t know how to be in your space and not want you, Evan. I don’t remember how not to be yours.”

Poignant. Powerful. Gripping. And utterly heart wrenching. AL Jackson knows how to create words that get into her readers souls. I swear. There’s just something about stories that just stick with you. And there is no better example of it than with this book.

Evan first stole my heart a sweet little boy that was battling for his life in Follow Me Back. As a grown man, he was absolutely devastating. He and Frankie Leigh have been thick as thieves since they were just little kids. They were best friends whose love for each other soon evolved from children’s adoration to something so much deeper. But when Frankie thought they would be together forever, Evan broke her heart by leaving town with nothing more than a note.

Now three years later, Evan is back, and all those feelings that Frankie thought she’s finally moved on from come roaring back.

While emotional and angsty, this is very much a sweet friends-to-lovers/second chance romance. Admittedly, sweet isn’t really my thing when it comes down to preference, but there was something so charming about this book that it just worked for me. Maybe it’s the fact that Evan wasn’t your stereotypical hero. He was sweet and intense all at the same time. The love that he had for Frankie was devastating and heart warming all at the same time. I loved watching them find their way back to each other and seeing Evan fight for her. There’s something so incredibly endearing about Evan. His health struggles and all the pain that it brought along with it wasn’t easy to read about. He went through so much as a little boy, and so much of it follows him into adulthood.

There’s one particular plot device that was present here that I typically shy away from, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t diminish some of my enjoyment of this book. Unfortunately, I struggled with this piece of the story for a while. I equal parts understood it and hated it all at once.

But then somewhere around the second half everything just grew on me. And when the plot twist hit? I was all in! It came entirely out of left field and I didn’t see it coming at all. It brought everything in a full circle and just made the book for me.

This was another emotional and beautiful romance from one of my beloved authors that tugged at every heart string I had. I can’t wait for more!

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, BLEEDING STARS, FIGHT FOR ME and CONFESSIONS OF THE HEART novels. Grab A.L. Jackson’s latest novel, HOLD ON TO HOPE, a best friends-to-lovers stand-alone romance.

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.

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Don’t miss the awesome giveaway for the Hold on to Hope release!

Enter Here: https://smarturl.it/HOTHReleaseGiveaway

 

Review: Half Truths by Claire Contreras 

HALF TRUTHS
Series: Secret Society #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author:
Claire Contreras 
Release Date:
October 21, 2019

You’ve heard of these groups – the secretive ones that only the crème de la crème are invited into, the ones outsiders speculate about for centuries – I’m the second in my family invited to attend, but to them, I’m fresh meat. New blood. New money, too.

They think they’ll elbow past me, that I’m here for their amusement, for them to walk all over, they’ll find out soon enough that I’m not.

I may look like one of them, with my designer bags and clothes straight from the Parisian runways, but I’m not. I’m here for answers, to take revenge for blood spilled on their centuries-old Persian rugs.

I transferred here in search for answers about what happened to my older brother, who hightailed out of here, and my friend who seemingly disappeared into thin air. I certainly wasn’t here for the attention of the star hockey player, regardless of how much he willed my eyes his way. I wasn’t here for his scrutiny or his judgment or to read into his mysterious aura. I was here for the society, because only they held the answers I needed. That was, until I found out that in order to get those answers, I needed to to go through him. He’s saying if I want in, I have to play by their rules, follow their lead.

It’s a game I’m willing to play.

I may be the second person I know of to be invited into their society, but I’ll be the first to make it out intact.

AMAZON 


I adore Claire Contreras books and the second I read the blurb for this book, I was itching to get my grabby little hands on it. Secret society, deadly secrets, and plenty of twists and turns? Sign. Me. Up.

Claire doesn’t wait to get the reader immediately drawn in with the jaw dropper of a prologue. I was immediately enraptured in this world and these characters.

Amelia Baston is a young woman that’s used to the world of privilege. But even her family’s money won’t get her the answers she desperately craves. A woman disappeared and presumed dead and her brother’s life changed forever. Amelia is left to pick up the pieces and determined to get answers. She transfers to a new school in the hopes of getting to the secret society that she believes hold the answers. There’s just one problem, you don’t find them, they find you.

Logan is one of the most popular guys at school and a star hockey player. Logan and Amelia immediately clash and form an antagonistic sort of relationship with an undercurrent of sexual tension that utterly sizzle. The relationship between them was a slow burn and a delicious one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the first half of this book, but then somewhere around the second half, that enjoyment began to sizzle. The biggest selling point of the story for me was the secret society, but we barely graze the surface of it here. I get that it’s a series, but I still felt a bit underwhelmed with it here. It just felt like we were taken in circles and then inevitably taken nowhere. That would have still been fine until the ending. That ending was just entirely too cliched for me. It completely killed the enjoyment of the book I had and entirely took away from the rest of the story elements that were building up to it. Would I read the next book? Absolutely. The hook that we get for the series is ridiculously enticing. So while I didn’t quite love this book, it still hooked me on a new series. Hopefully the next one will get me the answers I’m dying for.

Review: Desperate Measures by Katee Robert

DESPERATE MEASURES
Series: Wicked Villains #1
Genre: Erotic Romance
Author:
Katee Robert
Release Date:
May 28, 2019

My Savior… Or My Ruin?

One night, and my entire life went up in flames. All because of him. Jafar.

As my world burned down around me, he offered me a choice.

Walk away with nothing but my freedom… Or rise to his challenge and win my fortune back.

I bargained.

I lost.

Now Jafar owns me, and even as my mind rails against his rules, my body loves the punishments he deals out when I break them.

But a gilded cage is still a prison, I’ll do anything to obtain my freedom.

Even betray the man I’m falling for.

AMAZON 

I want Jasmine confined…
My collar on her neck, its chain never far from my hand.
I want her on her knees in subservience.
I want to fucking ruin her.

Sweet mother of ovaries, what did I just read? How did I not know that Katee Robert had such a dirty side to her? I felt like I should go to confession after reading this, because this was sinfully good.

The premise is delicious; a different take on your favorite disney story but with a deliciously kinky twist. What if the villain got the girl? That’s what you get with Jafar and Jasmine. Except instead of a royal kingdom, Jasmine is the daughter to an crime king. And instead of a goofy and somewhat bumbling good boy, she ends up with the intense, broody, and dominant Jafar.

This was more erotica that romance, and even though I don’t typically gravitate to this genre, this totally hit the spot for me. And to be honest, for the amount of hot kinkery that happens here, there was a surprisingly satisfying amount of story to it. Fans of dub con and the baby girl/daddy thing would totally eat this up. I’m more of the former than the latter, so the daddy thing didn’t quite hit the spot for me so much. However, this was still a highly entertaining and hot as sin read that I devoured from beginning to end.

Review: Gypsy King by Devney Perry

GYPSY KING
Series: Tin Gypsy #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Devney Perry
Release Date: October 29, 2019

The former Tin Gypsy motorcycle club has everyone in Clifton Forge, Montana convinced they’ve locked their clubhouse doors and ripped off their patches. Everyone but Bryce Ryan. There’s more happening at the club’s garage than muscle car restorations and Harley rebuilds. Her instincts are screaming there’s a story—one she’s going to tell.

As the new owner of the small town’s newspaper, Bryce is hungry for more than birth announcements and obituaries. When a woman is brutally killed and all signs point to the Tin Gypsies, Bryce is determined to expose the club and their leader, Kingston “Dash” Slater, as murderers.

Bryce bests Dash match after match, disappointed her rugged and handsome opponent turns out to be an underwhelming adversary. Secrets are exposed. Truths defeat lies. Bryce is poised to win this battle in a landslide.

Then Dash breaks all the rules and tips the scales.

One kiss, and she’s fighting to save more than just her story. She’s fighting to save her heart from the Gypsy King.


AMAZON | iBOOKS | B&N | KOBO | AUDIBLE

Regret was the driving force behind this Tin Gypsy story. Remorse was the reason it was so, so important.

I interrupt this very important review to bring you this breaking story:
“Blogger currently kicking her own butt for only now discovering the brilliance of Devney Perry”

Blogger was no available to comment as she was too busy mumbling about living under a rock and being a complete and total idiot. We assume that her next plan of action is to immediately purchase author’s entire backlist and plan a binge. More to come on this story later.

But all joking aside, holy moly! How is this my first book by this author? Because color me totally addicted. This series has completely hooked me and I’m desperate for more!

The second I saw the blurb for this book, I knew it would be my first book by Devney Perry. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. There’s just something about a strong and sharp witted heroine that just does it for me. Bryce is back in her hometown after discovering that her career as a reporter wasn’t what she truly wanted. Her passion as a journalist returns working for her father’s newspaper. When she learns that Tin Gypsy, shut down their illegal doings years ago, she’s like a dog with a bone to learn the reason why they went legitimate. And when the president of Tin Gypsy is suddenly the main suspect in a brutal murder, she’s determined to break the story.

Dash is happily making a living as a mechanic and leaving the illegal life of Tin Gypsy behind. But then his father is arrested for murder and a sexy journalist is hounding his every step trying to learn his every secret. So what’s a man to do after going head to head with her doesn’t deter her? Work with her.

Dash and Bryce were absolutely sizzling together. The chemistry is instantaneous the second they meet. Bryce is sharp witted and determined and when her and Dash go head to head, sparks fly. What starts as an antagonistic relationship soon sparks into something much more as they investigate what really happened together.

I absolutely LOVED Dash. He’s this wonderful combination of alpha but with a sweet vulnerable side that you can’t help but connect with. Bryce may be tough, but she also hides a soft center that was incredibly endearing. I loved that she gave as hard as she got.

The mystery of the murder unfolds slowly, with plenty of twists and secrets along the way. The story is a bit slow paced in parts, and while it was a touch too slow for me in the mid mark, it picked up enough in the final half to more than make up for it. There’s quite a bit that happens here that doesn’t get fully resolved, so there’s definitely a continuous story arc in the series. I do wish that we got the closure here to make it a true standalone, but I can’t complain too much since I definitely plan to read the series religiously.

I fell in love with Devney Perry’s words and I’m a new fan! I plan on fully binging on her entire backlist, starting with Dash’s brother story in The Clover Chapel. Because second chance romance, YUM!


Devney is a USA Today bestselling author. Born and raised in Montana, she loves writing books set in her treasured home state. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her husband and two sons. Writing one book, let alone many, was not something she ever expected to do. But now that she’s discovered her true passion for writing romance, she has no plans to ever stop. Devney loves hearing from readers! Connect with her on social media.

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DGRFave & Review: Calico Descending by Keri Lake

CALICO DESCENDING
Series: Juniper Unraveling #2
Genre: Dystopian Romance
Author:
Keri Lake
Release Date:
October 29, 2019

Sequel to Juniper Unraveling.

I was fourteen when I was sold to the men in black uniforms. Too young to understand I served a purpose beyond that of the other girls they’d taken.

For the greater good.

Now, after four years in Calico, I’ve seen more death and suffering than during my days of surviving out in the Deadlands against the threat of Ragers and famine. I didn’t think this world could get any bleaker. Didn’t think it could take any more from me than it already had.

Not until I finally learned my purpose.

That same day, I walked the dark halls in the bowels of this hell, where the suffering is in silence, and ghosts of the dead whisper through the walls. A place where nightmares are real.

A place where I met my Champion—the most revered Alpha in S-Block—locked away in his dark cell.

For the greater good.

He’s their weapon, their only line of defense against the mistakes of the past: the mutations that could wipe out all of what’s left of us.

Me, I’m his whipping girl. His reward for good behavior.
And his punishment for acts of defiance.

AMAZON 

He is pain and agony wrapped in fire, but his lips are sheer bliss.
He’s the flame that burns inside of me, the single spark that ignites my soul.

I simply cannot describe to you the sheer brilliance that is this book. It’s not your run of the mill romance, it’s so much beyond that. It’s a gripping and vivid tale of pain and survival in a brutal world the likes of which only the evil genius mind of Keri Lake can create. Think Resident Evil meets romance.

Keri Lake created a dangerous, violent and desolate world that’s so vivid, the entire book is like a movie reel unfolding behind your eyes. I thought I loved Juniper Unraveling but Calico Descending absolutely blew me away. The romance that blossoms in the very pits of hell is one of the most stunning stories I’ve read to date. It was torturously beautiful and heart breakingly emotional. Even if you’ve never read Dystopian Romance before, Calico Descending will make a new fan out of you. It’s an absolute must read.

If you’ve read Juniper, then you’ve already been introduced to this dark and evil world that shows the worst of human ambition, survival and depravity. And if you didn’t, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for. But also, you wouldn’t be entirely lost starting with this book. The timeline of the books runs parallel. But where Juniper shows the world outside of Calico, this takes you into the very pits of its darkness.

We get introduced to Cali, a woman that’s been surviving her situation day by day while enduring one terrifying experience after another. Then you also get taken deep into the heart of the Alpha project and meet Valdys, Cadmus and Titus. I don’t want to tell you too much about this story, but prepare yourself for a gut wrenching read. Much like Juniper, this starts as an ember and soon ignites to a fiery conclusion. It’s a slow building, character driven story with plenty of action and a sizzling romance to boot. It was everything I could have hoped from a sequel to one of my all time favorite books and so SO much more!


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Excerpt & Review: Reaper by Larissa Ione

REAPER
Series:
Demonica #19
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Author: Larissa Ione
Release Date: October 15, 2019

For love, he’ll watch the world burn.

For revenge, he’ll light the match.

New York Times bestselling author Larissa Ione returns to her fan favorite Demonica Series with REAPER, available now!

THE DEMONICA SERIES RETURNS…

He is the Keeper of Souls. Judge, jury, and executioner. He is death personified.

He is the Grim Reaper.

A fallen angel who commands the respect of both Heaven and Hell, Azagoth has presided over his own underworld realm for thousands of years. As the overlord of evil souls, he maintains balance crucial to the existence of life on Earth and beyond. But as all the realms gear up for the prophesied End of Days, the ties that bind him to Sheoul-gra have begun to chafe.

Now, with his beloved mate and unborn child the target of an ancient enemy, Azagoth will stop at nothing to save them, even if it means breaking blood oaths and shattering age-old alliances.

Even if it means destroying himself and setting the world on fire…

AMAZON | iBOOKS | B&N | KOBO | GOOGLE PLAY

Lilliana woke to someone tap dancing on her bladder.

Groaning, she rolled over and bumped into Azagoth. Pleasantly surprised that he was still in bed, she ignored her need to pee and curled up against him.

She’d missed this so much while she was gone.

“Good morning,” he murmured, his husky voice even more gravelly than usual.

“Morning.” She snuggled into his shoulder. “I’m surprised you’re not working.”

He yawned. “You wore me out last night.”

Smiling against his skin, she trailed her fingers along the hard ridges and deep valleys of his abs.

“I wanted to show you how grateful I was that you threw me a baby shower.” And she’d done it without getting too active. Eidolon couldn’t begrudge her one orgasm, right?

“Mmm.” He pressed a kiss into her hair. “You must have been very grateful.”

She slid her hand under the sheet and meandered her way to the curve of his hip. She might be a million months into her pregnancy, but her sex drive didn’t care in the least.

“I’m still grateful.”

He hissed as her knuckles brushed his shaft. “Not complaining.”

It truly had been sweet of him to gather together the denizens of Sheoul-gra for a big celebration of food, drink, and games in the traditions of people from the human, demon, and angelic cultures. She’d suffered two more bouts of intense nausea and some cramps, but they’d passed quickly. What hadn’t passed was Azagoth’s concern.

Which was probably why he was still in bed with her.

It was cute the way he hovered. Annoying at times, but cute.

“I just want you to know that you’re my life,” he said. “Without you, I’m a monster.”

“And what are you with me?”

He gave her a rare, boyish grin, made even more playful by his mop of bedhead. “A happy monster.”

“I’m very happy about the happy.” She rubbed her eyes and yawned.

“Things are good, Lil,” he said. “I never thought much about being a partner, let alone a parent, but I want to do these things with you.” He settled his hand on her belly and smiled with wonder. “This will be my first child born without a predetermined future. He or she can be anything. Do anything.”

“Incredible, isn’t it?” She pushed up on one elbow and leaned in to kiss his chest. She’d kissed every inch of him last night. Maybe she’d lick every inch of him this morning. “And our baby will be born to parents who love each other.”

Determined to show him how much she loved him, she kissed her way lower. Her lips whispered over his nipple, but before she could taste him, a cramp wrenched her insides. She sucked in a harsh breath, her hand going to her belly.

“What is it?” Azagoth jackknifed up, his expression dark with worry. “Is it the baby?”

Fierce heat swelled beneath the surface of her skin as her abdomen tightened. “I think it might be Braxton Hicks,” she said between panting breaths.

“What?”

“Cara had them.” Closing her eyes to stop the room from spinning, she eased back onto her pillow. “They’re like practice contractions.”

She didn’t remember Cara complaining about being hot and sweating buckets, though. Another cramp streaked through her, and she moaned. Cara had said they were painful, as if someone were squeezing her intestines.

This was more like someone was driving a red-hot blade through them.

“You’re white as a ghost, Lilli.”

Something’s wrong.

No, nothing was wrong. She was being paranoid.

Azagoth rested his palm on her forehead, testing her temperature. “Are these Hicks things supposed to be like this?”

She heard the panic in his voice but not the words. Her ears were buzzing. Her head was pounding. And, suddenly, a wave of agony wrapped around her and squeezed so hard she screamed. Vaguely, she heard Azagoth call out her name as a warm gush spread between her thighs.

“Lilliana? Lilliana!” His voice droned in and out as the room began to tilt. There was shouting. More pain. Her thoughts fragmented.

And then, finally…nothing.

 

For love, he’ll watch the world burn.
For revenge, he’ll light the match.

Holy christ on a cracker, that was intense!!! Wowza!

Admittedly I’m not a fan of additional books for characters that have already received their HEA, no matter how much I loved them. But that rule of mine goes out the window when Larissa Ione writes one. See, her and I have an understanding. If she writes it, I read it. Period. No exceptions. So when I saw that Azagoth will be getting another book, I don’t think I even blinked once before I jumped on it.

This is SO much more than just Azagoth’s book, though. If you haven’t read any of the other books in this series, I really don’t recommend starting with this one. It reads more like a saga and is not meant to be a standalone. There’s a lot of continuing story arcs that you get here and while the author does a great job reminding of past events for the reader, you simply won’t have the same appreciation for the events that happen here if you haven’t read the previous books and been introduced to some of the characters.

This was one epic book. It marks a somewhat story arc conclusion for one thing while launching a brand new story arc for what I’m hoping will be a brand new series (because OMG I need it to be!). If you’ve read Azagoth, then you’re familiar with Azagoth and his beloved mate, Lilliana. Throughout the last few books we got to see many things come to a head as Satan attempts to break free from his prison. Many of Azagoth’s children (Memitim) have been getting killed by a traitor that they can’t seem to identify. Well, the conclusion is one epic showdown with plenty of familiar faces making a cameo. There’s quite a few POVs but of course, the story arc of Azagoth and his mate is the center. A very pregnant Lili gets kidnapped by a dangerous enemy and Azagoth will do anything, kill anyone, and break every rule in Heaven’s handbook to get her back.

There’s so much that happens here that I can’t even begin to describe. But if you’ve read Azagoth’s book than you need to read this one. It’s an action packed thrill ride from beginning to finish. And that conclusion? Holy mother of mackerel! I am DEAD. If that’s the beginning of a new series, I’m desperate for more because GAH!!!!

Fans of Ione will not want to miss this epic conclusion!

Air Force veteran Larissa Ione traded in a career in meteorology to pursue her passion of writing. She has since published dozens of books, hit several bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today, and has been nominated for a RITA award. She now spends her days in pajamas with her computer, strong coffee, and supernatural worlds. She believes in celebrating everything, and would never be caught without a bottle of Champagne chilling in the fridge…just in case. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her retired U.S. Coast Guard husband, her son, a rescue cat named Vegas, and her very own hellhounds, a King Shepherd named Hexe and a Belgian Malinois named Duvel.

 

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Review: The Second We Met by Maya Hughes

THE SECOND WE MET
Series: Fulton U #2
Genre: New Adult, Sports Romance
Author:
Maya Hughes
Release Date:
October 17, 2019

Dear Jerk Across the Street, sorry for accidentally walking in on you and catching an eyeful of your—equipment. And hard pass on the open invitation to join you in the shower “anytime”, A-hole.

That’s the note I should’ve written. Instead I sent a pleasant and apologetic version.

Had I known Phoenix “Nix” Russo would’ve been the neighbor from hell, I’d have told him right where he could shove my words.

Nix is the big man on campus with everyone lined up at his games to make sure he knows it. Sure, he’s got piercing blue eyes, abs that don’t quit and a smile that could set fire to a set of panties from a hundred yards away, but he’s also the biggest pain in my ass.

Dear Pink-Haired Menace, learn how to take a joke and stop being such a kill-joy…

Elle Masterson called the cops on one of my parties—again. My sweet talking usually gets me out of trouble, but this time it got me into a nice pair of silver handcuffs. Now I’m on a reputation rehab tour with a stop at a spring break community service project.

Guess who’s my new boss?

Now we’re shoulder to shoulder, sweaty, tired and…she’s not anything like I expected. There might just be a heart under that hardass exterior. She’s invading my dreams and I can’t shake the feeling she’s the key to unlocking a piece of me that I’ve hidden away.

It’s only a matter of time until she finds out why I’m really here.

Maybe I can break through her walls and into her heart before that happens…one screw at a time.

**The Second We Met is a standalone new adult romance**

AMAZON 

READ CHAPTER ONE HERE:
https://www.mayahughes.com/blog

He was all my mistakes wrapped up into one bright, shiny package. 

I’m a sucker for a good enemies to lovers romance and this one checked every box for me. I was dying for Nix’s book the second he appeared as a secondary character in The Perfect First. The charming quarterback with the cocky smile was sure to hit the spot for me, and I was not wrong. What I didn’t expect was for him to be as multi-layered as he was. Nix’s entire life has revolved around his father’s demands and football. As the son of a football player, the stakes are that much higher for Nix. But while his father sees the draft as his future, Nix isn’t so sure. Sustaining multiple injuries and his recent jolt to his shoulder have made him question his future, but it’s hard to move himself off of a path that’s been set for him.

Elle is the not so nice girl next door. Their enemy status has been paved ever since she accidentally walked into the wrong house and saw Nix in all his glory. Now they have an antagonistic relationship living next door to each other and Elle constantly calling the cops on their house. What’s a girl to do when she’s trying to sleep and it’s a non stop party next door? Elle is a bit of a workaholic. When she’s not in school, she’s volunteering for numerous charities and working in order to make ends meet and get a covetous award that’s the answer to all her financial woes.

But then when Nix shoes up at her latest community project, and suddenly she’s forced to realize that she’s grossly misjudged the guy and there’s much more to him than first meets the eye. What starts as enemies, soon turns into an unlikely friendship, and then something so much more.

Elle was gun shy when it came to men after being cheated on by her two boyfriends. But her judgmental and quick to think the worst of men nature did get a tiny bit grating for me. I loved how patient and sweet Nix was with her in turn. Eventually Elle really grew on me too. I loved their sassy barbs almost as much as I loved their chemistry. And these two had a ton of chemistry. This was another fantastic addition to the series and I can’t wait for more!

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

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Review, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway: A Lie For A Lie by Helena Hunting

A LIE FOR A LIE
Series: All In #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Publisher: Montlake

Sometimes I need an escape from the demands, the puck bunnies, and the notoriety that come with being an NHL team captain. I just want to be a normal guy for a few weeks. So when I leave Chicago for some peace and quiet, the last thing I expect is for a gorgeous woman to literally fall into my lap on a flight to Alaska. Even better, she has absolutely no idea who I am.

Lainey is the perfect escape from my life. My plan for seclusion becomes a month long sex fest punctuated with domestic bliss. But it ends just as abruptly as it began. When I’m called away on a family emergency, I realize too late that I have no way to contact Lainey.

A year later, a chance encounter throws Lainey and me together again. But I still have a lie hanging over my head, and Lainey’s keeping secrets of her own. With more than lust at stake, the truth may be our game changer.

AMAZON 

Lainey vs. Puck Bunnies in A Lie for a Lie    

A Lie for a Lie is a heartwarming, sexy, emotional romantic comedy. It’s a second chance romance, filled with secrets and there are definitely some exciting, fun twists. It’s also a story of empowerment, self-discovery, and independence.

Rook Bowman, aka RJ or Rookie as he has been known as previously, has recently taken on the role as captain of Chicago’s NHL team, and with that role comes big responsibility and more fame than he sometimes knows how to handle. As with any professional sport, the NHL lifestyle can often be full of excess and decadence; money, fame and an endless stream of women who will do just about anything to get into bed with them, and it’s not always easy to avoid that kind of temptation.

When we meet Rook in A Lie for a Lie we learn that he has a less than shiny past when it comes to the excess and the puck bunnies (hockey groupies). NHL players are often drafted quite young—just watch a game and you’ll notice that the rookies can often barely grown peach fuzz, let alone a full beard. They’re still teenagers when they start their careers, and Rook was no different. Having grown up on an alpaca farm in rural New York, his focus was mainly hockey and the family farm, but once he hit the pros he found himself surrounded by women who literally threw themselves at him. And being young, attractive and full of testosterone, he fell headfirst down that rabbit hole. At least until the drama found him in the form of a fake pregnancy and a social media firestorm. Because of that, and the impact it had on his relationship with his family, Rook swears off the bunnies and refocuses on his career, rather than extracurricular activities.

He meets Lainey on the way to Alaska, where he’s gone every summer since he was a teenager with his dad and his brother. He lost his father a few years earlier, but kept the tradition with his brother because he craves the escape from the demands of his life as an NHL superstar. Lainey encapsulates everything he misses about being a “normal guy.” She doesn’t recognize him or seem to even know anything about hockey, and that makes her even more alluring. For once, he can just be himself. He doesn’t have to worry about ulterior motives or being used. Lainey is refreshingly innocent, incredibly smart, genuine and overwhelmingly sweet and Rook finds himself enamored with her sense of adventure. As they get to know each other, Rook learns about her traumatic past and realizes that despite the challenges she’s faced, Lainey possesses a quiet strength and resilience. Add some insane chemistry and you’ve got a recipe for love. Unfortunately for Rook, he built their entire fragile relationship on lie he can’t take back.

***


 

When Lainey excuses herself to the bathroom, I rush upstairs and throw on a T-shirt. I know she said whatever makes me comfortable, but sitting around shirtless is such a douche move.I make it back to the kitchen and pour her a fresh drink before she returns from the bathroom.

“How can I help with dinner?” Lainey drapes her sweater over the back of a chair.

And my mouth goes dry. Like I ate an entire sleeve of saltines and chased it with a tablespoon of salt. So far I’ve only seen Lainey in a giant parka or an oversize sweater. Under all that bulky fabric is one hell of a body. She’s wearing a simple white waffle shirt that conforms to her curves. A pair of dark-wash skinny jeans encase her toned legs.

I’m used to bunnies throwing themselves at me, often in questionable states of undress. I stopped getting excited about miniskirts and revealing tops a long time ago. There’s something infinitely sexier about a woman who can show off her body without actually showing it off at all.

Lainey tips her head to the side. Her teeth press into her full bottom lip. I want to do that. Suck that pouty, full lip between my teeth and bite it. I want to do a lot of other, far more explicit things than that, but a kiss seems like a good place to start.

“RJ? Is everything okay?” Her eyes dip down to my chest. I’m wearing a shirt from one of my endorsement campaigns. It afforded me the extensive renovations on this cabin a few years ago.

“Huh?” I give my head a shake. “Oh. Yeah. Everything’s good. Sorry, zoned out there for a second.”

She smiles and pushes up on her toes, her eyes twinkling—like, they legit light up, and her excitement makes her entire body vibrate. It also makes her boobs jiggle. I try to keep my eyes glued to her face. It’s not easy, though.

“I do that all the time! Sometimes my brain is busy with so many thoughts I miss entire conversations. Does that happen to you too?”

I grin. I love that she seems to say whatever is on her mind. “All the time.”

“It’s actually a helpful skill when you’re being lectured, because I can sort through stuff in my head, but it’s not so great when your supervising professor is telling you what’s wrong with your thesis.” She pulls her hair over her shoulder and finger combs it.

“I take it that’s happened to you.”

“It did. Thankfully he also emailed all his criticisms, so missing out on it the first time wasn’t that big of a deal.” She divides her hair into three sections and deftly braids it without looking at what she’s doing even once. It’s pretty damn impressive. I almost want to pull it apart so I can watch her do it all over again. “Anyway, enough about that. Let’s get started on dinner!” She nudges me out of the way so she can wash her hands. She dries them on her jeans and moves over to the fridge, opening it to check out the contents.

I kind of like that she makes herself at home. I’m used to women who expect to be catered to. It’s refreshing to meet someone who doesn’t want me to pander to her.

I start pulling things out of the fridge as she starts naming items she’ll need and set them on the counter. I manage to locate most of what she asks for.

“What about garlic? Do you have any of that?” She leans over, peering into the fridge beside me. Her braid slips over her shoulder, skimming my arm.

“Uh, maybe we could forgo the garlic?”

“Are you allergic? My oldest brother gets bloated when he eats it. It took us forever to figure out what was causing it. Sometimes I’ll still put some in when he’s coming for dinner, because it’s funny to see him look like he’s expecting.” She tips her head to the side. “Or you just don’t like garlic?”

“I like it sometimes, but it depends.”

Her brows pinch together. “On what?”

“Who I’m eating with. I mean, if I’m going out with buddies, you bet I’m gonna order the honey garlic wings, or the cheesy garlic bread, or the pasta Alfredo. But if I’m eating dinner with a pretty girl, I’m gonna pass on the garlic.”

“Oh.” She twists the end of her braid around her finger.

I hope I’m not reading things wrong and making her uncomfortable.

“Does that mean you think I’m pretty?”

That she sounds genuinely curious as to my answer is unexpected. “You see yourself in the mirror every day—what do you think?”

She averts her gaze, still playing with the end of her braid. “My eyes are too big, so I always look like I’m surprised. My nose is small, and my lips are too full, so my mouth doesn’t really fit the rest of my face.”

“Wow. I think you need a new mirror, because all I see is a whole lot of gorgeous.”

She snorts a laugh and waves me off. “Once, I took a portrait class, and we learned all about proportion and symmetry of the face. Those are just my flaws based on what I was taught.”

“Well, I’m a big fan of all your flaws, and I think they make you more beautiful, not less.”

“Thanks. I think you’re beautiful too.” She cringes. “I mean handsome. You’re very nice to look at, with or without a shirt on. When I fell in your lap on the airplane, I remember thinking, At least I fell on someone nice looking.”

“Is that so?”

“Mm-hmm.” She opens a drawer, maybe to avoid looking at me. “And as much as I was mortified when you sat beside me on the Cessna, I couldn’t complain about the view, inside or outside of the plane. That you turned out to be really nice, and just so helpful, was a great bonus.” She hands me a roll of foil. “Why don’t you wrap the potatoes? They take the longest, so we should get started on those first.”

I put the potatoes on the barbecue and let Lainey order me around. She definitely knows her way around a kitchen. When I was growing up, my mom did most of the cooking, but my dad could make a mean Saturday-morning brunch. He also made great bread, which I miss a lot.

An hour later we’re seated at the table, plates full of steak, twice-baked potatoes, and crispy brussels sprouts cooked in bacon fat. I open a bottle of red wine and offer Lainey a glass.

“Just a little bit? I’m not sure I like red wine.”

“Maybe you just haven’t had the right red wine.” I pour a little into her glass.

She picks it up and gives it a swirl, then sniffs it. “I’ve seen people do this in the movies, but I don’t really know what the point is,” she admits, then tips the glass back and takes a tentative sip. Her expression turns thoughtful; then she takes another, slightly more robust sip. “This is actually really nice. I like it. Maybe the red wine I had before was bad.”

“Maybe. Some of the cheap stuff tastes pretty awful.” I pour more into her glass before filling mine. I hold up my glass and wait for her to raise hers.

“To chance meetings.”

“To new adventures and great company to share them with.” We toast and take a sip, each smiling behind the rim.

***

My skin burns.
My heart stutters.
I should tell him my own truth.
But for now we’re tied: a lie for a lie.

ALL. OF. THE. SWOONS.

This series couldn’t have started with a better book. I’m totally hooked, line and sinker, and already salivating for more. I’m head over skates in love with Rook and this swoony hockey romance about a reformed NHL star playboy and the quirky nerd that makes him fall.

On this plane I’m not the NHL forward and team captain with a history of being a player on and off the ice. I’m just a guy, and she’s just a girl.

Rook is an NHL star and a former manwhore. He’s a man that’s used to puck bunnies doing anything to get his attention and then getting even crazier to keep it. So when he meets a beautiful woman on his flight to Alaska that ends up being his neighbor, he loves the anonymity of getting to know someone as just him. Lainey is a bit of a nerd and a lot of adorable. She’s a quirky, shy, sweet, and although slightly sheltered in her home schooled ways has also seen things that changed her irrevocably. They don’t see the other one coming but it doesn’t take long at all for them to being a whirlwind romance in the small town of Alaska. But then Rook has an emergency that forces him to leave and as fate would have it they lose touch due to a number of circumstances. Only to be reunited 14 months later in Chicago. This time, Rook knows that he’ll do anything to keep Lainey, if only he can get her to forgive him for the lie.

This was so wonderfully sweet. It was brimming with emotion and sweet heat. I couldn’t get enough of Rook and Lainey. I also loved Lainey’s friendship with Eden, who made for a wonderful secondary character. All of your favorites make a cameo here and I loved how Helena brought it all together. I loved this sweet second chance romance and can’t recommend it enough for all Helena Hunting fans. And if you haven’t read any books by her yet, this is a great one to start with!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance with all the feels to romantic comedies that will have you laughing until you cry.

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Review: Damage by Natasha Knight

COLLATERAL
Series: Collateral Damage #2
Genre: An Arranged Marriage Mafia Romance
Author:
Natasha Knight
Release Date:
October 15, 2019

We’re a match made in hell, Stefan and I.

He took me to exact his revenge. I went from being a pawn to my father to being a pawn to Stefan. The only difference is I have a ring the size of a boulder on my finger and a husband I don’t want.

And the hardest part is I thought he was different. I thought I was falling in love.

I guess my father was right. I’m not a very smart girl.

Stefan is a powerful man. He doesn’t play nice, not if you’re his enemy. But I’ve learned one thing about my husband.

He takes care of what’s his.

And I am his.

His enemies have become my enemies, but he’ll never let anyone hurt me. He’s fiercely protective. It’s the predator inside that scares me.

AMAZON | iBOOKS | B&N | KOBO

It’s midnight when we’re back at the house and I carry her to my room. She doesn’t resist when I strip off her clothes, her underthings still damp, and put her in the shower under a flow of hot water. I strip too and step in beside her and there’s no resistance when I kiss her. When I take her in my arms and kiss her as the water washes sea salt from us.

She opens to me and I cup the back of her head. I don’t ever want to stop kissing her. Don’t ever want to stop holding her like this.

When the water begins to cool, I switch off the shower and dry her then myself before lifting her up and carrying her to my bed. I lay her down and lie down beside her, shifting so I’m on top of her but keeping most of my weight on my forearms so I don’t crush her.

I slide one hand down and cup the mound of her breast. I run my fingernail over her nipple, and she moans into my mouth. When I pull away, it’s to look at her.

She licks her lips, reaches up to touch my cheek, slides her hand down to my chest and sets it against my heart.

We don’t talk. We don’t say a single word. Not for a long while. We just kiss and kiss and look at each other. And I can’t get enough of touching her. Tasting her. Can’t get close enough to her.

“Christ, Gabriela,” I start. “I want you.” I roll off her and onto my side to slide my hand down over her belly.

She cups my cheek, touches her mouth to mine. “Kiss me again.”

I do.

But she is who she is. The devil’s daughter. And I just brokered my own deal. I’ve stolen her. And I’m not finished yet.

I’m pretty sure I almost had a damn heart attack after the cliffhanger in Collateral. I was absolutely hooked on the story and salivating for more. There was something so intense and addicting about this enemies to lovers romance. It was especially delicious considering how slow burn the romance was. Stefan and Gabriela burned up the pages together with their chemistry, and we didn’t even get a taste for the romance yet. So to say that I was anticipating the second and final book would be a mild understatement.

Damage starts off with a bang and is a non-stop, twisty, page turner full of dark secrets and betrayals. I was riveted to the pages and couldn’t wait to see how everything comes to a head. And let me tell you, people, there’s some real whoppers of twists in this one that had my head reeling. I love a good mafia romance, and this one spared no details on the dark underbelly of the world. I may have set the romance up too much in my head, because I was a little disappointed with how it concluded here. I just didn’t click with Gabi and Stafan here as much as I did in the first book. It seemed like they went from 0 to 60 in a turn of a page, and I had a hard time buying into it. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. But I think my own personal bias was at play here and I just set up my expectations too high. This was still one high-octane and sizzling read, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, Natasha Knight specializes in dark, tortured heroes. Happily-Ever-Afters are guaranteed, but she likes to put her characters through hell to get them there. She’s evil like that. 

Connect w/Natasha:

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Review: Getting Played by Emma Chase

GETTING PLAYED
Series: Getting Played #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Emma Chase
Release Date: October 8, 2019

A magnificent new romance by New York Times bestselling author Emma Chase.

Dean Walker is all about keeping life simple. He’s effortlessly talented and intelligent—spending his summers playing drums in the local band and the rest of the year teaching high school in the same Jersey town where he grew up. He likes his love life simple too, enjoying the commitment-free hook-ups his good looks and sexy charm have always made oh so easy.

Then he meets Lainey Burrows. And his simple, easy life gets turned upside down.

One wild one-night stand was all it was ever supposed to be, so Lainey is shocked when she discovers that her sizzling summer fling is also her son’s new math teacher. But that’s nothing compared to the most unexpected twist of all—their hot hook-up left Lainey knocked up, and now they’re about to become parents. Together.

What ensues is an addictive, insatiable, sweet and tender romance that won’t be simple, but it will be more than worth the fight.

AMAZON

I want to be her everything. Because somewhere along the line—Lainey, Jason, our baby—that’s what they’ve become to me. Everything.

You GUYS.
*flails happily*
GUYS.
*laughs giddily*
GUYS!!!!
*sighs dreamily*

I am on book cloud nine right now. This is just one of those swoony, lighthearted, and feel good romances that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face and butterflies in your tummy. It’s ice cream on a hot summer day. It’s a cozy sweater and a fireplace on a cold winter day. It’s the perfect cup of hot cocoa. It’s one of those books that just hits the spot, no matter what mood you’re in and makes your day better.

Now look, I’m not typically a reader that enjoys a sweet romance. Being the angst addict that I am, it’s just not typically my cuppa. But this book? Oh my swoon. It was everything I didn’t know I wanted. There’s just something about Emma Chase’s writing that’s pure magic. She creates characters that you can’t help but fall head over heels for, and it doesn’t just stop with the main characters.

Dean was pure perfection. He’s a hero that’s guaranteed to tug at every heart string you have. Dean has a history liking things loose and easy. He was a player in high school and while he may have outgrown that part of his life, he still doesn’t like complications beyond a steamy night in the sheets. But then he spends one night with a woman that changes something in him irrevocably. Months later he can’t stop thinking about her but has no idea how to find her since he didn’t get her number. As fate would have it, months later they meet again and not only is the woman’s son in his high school class, but surprise of surprises, their one night stand left her pregnant.

Dean Walker is going to be a father. Holy fuck me sideways. When you start referring to yourself in the third person in your own mind—that’s when you know you’re screwed.

Now let me tell you guys, the blurb doesn’t even begin to do this book justice. The chemistry between Lainey and Dean is absolutely sizzling. There’s this instant connection they share, and I sweat it only amplified when they finally meet again. Lainey is a lifestyle blogger and her new project lands her in the same small town where Dean lives and teaches. She’s such a sweet soul that you can’t help but love her. And her teenage son is one of the most endearing secondary characters I’ve read to date. I loved watching the connection between Dean and Jason, almost as much as I loved it between Dean and Lainey. There’s just something so magnetic about them. And watching this sexy former playboy become total goo at the hands of a woman, their unborn baby, and her son was so stinking SWEET.

This was such a sweet and satisfying romance. I adore all things Emma Chase, and the woman can write enemies to lovers like no other, but there’s something about her sweet, angst free romance that just DOES IT FOR YOU. I can’t recommend this one enough.

Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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