Review: The Things We Never Said by Samantha Young

THINGS WE NEVER SAID
Series:
Hart’s Boardwalk #3
Genre: Dark Romance
Author: Monica James
Release Date: May 7, 2019

Local metalsmith and gift shop owner, Dahlia McGuire, likes her quiet life in Hartwell, Delaware. It’s the perfect place to hide from her family and the tragic events that led to their estrangement. However, when her father, the person she loves most in the world, needs her Dahlia has no choice but to return to Boston to face her ghosts. One of those happens to be her ex-boyfriend’s best friend, Michael Sullivan. The man she was never supposed to fall in love with.

Michael Sullivan has never forgotten Dahlia McGuire. Some might say he’s never gotten over her. For years he lived with the anger of her desertion, and now, newly-divorced, he’s finally ready to move on. That proves impossible when Dahlia returns to Boston and reawakens their explosive connection. Despite everything, Michael wants her back, but Dahlia can’t seem to let go of the tangled emotions of the past. When she flees home to Hartwell, Michael follows, determined to do everything in his power to convince her they belong together.

However, when the unthinkable hits the quiet seaside town, Michael finds himself trying to unravel more than the mystery of Dahlia’s broken heart. It’s time for truths left unsaid to finally be spoken or Michael and Dahlia might find themselves torn apart forever…

AMAZON 

The truth was I must have been sleepwalking through life all this time because whenever Michael appeared, I was suddenly wide awake.

Things We Never Said was an swoony and emotional second chance romances with a slight twist. It also had one of the most incredible heroes I’ve read in a long while. There’s just something about Michael Sullivan that made me fall head over heels the second he appears on the pages.

Trust me, dahlin’, I appreciate the good things in life, and I’m more grateful than I can say when I come across special. Just never thought I’d come across goddamn extraordinary in my life…

Admittedly, the first two books in this series haven’t been my favorite. But there was something so…different about this one. It had a different vibe and energy to it that I found lacking in the other two.

Michael and Dahlia have a right place but wrong time sort of beginning when they first meet. Their chemistry is immediate and downright incendiary. But Dahlia has just settled in a relationship with a man that’s good for her and she doesn’t want to jeopardize that. But when she finds out that Michael is her boyfriend’s best friend, she knows that any potential they may have had will never be. So they settle into a friendship with a side of burning unrequited love on both sides. It becomes clear just how crazy Michael is about her, but youthful mistakes and fate circumstances soon spell the end for any budding romance they may have had.

When life takes a turn once more, Dahlia finds herself back in her home town and facing the circumstances of her decision all those years ago; the biggest one being Michael. But he’s no longer the sweet man that she knew in her youth. He’s angry, bitter, and hurt. As much as you want to hate Michael for his callous treatment of Dahlia when she first appears back in his life, you just can’t. You know that he’s harboring a lot of pain but you don’t know quite what transpired between the two of them to bring them to this place. That slowly gets trickle fed to the reader chapter by chapter. But when you see this southie boy see the error of his ways and finally pursue Dahlia with a single minded intent to break down all of her walls? Oh my swoon!!!! He’s sheer perfection.

I’ll wait forever for you, Michael Sullivan.” He shook his head. “No waiting required. I’ve been yours since day one.”

I really loved this beautifully emotional romance. The more you learn about Dahlia’s past and what sent her running, the more you begin to understand. It takes the majority of the book to fully unravel the truth, and it’s devastating at the core of it.

There’s also a bit of action and suspense that’s thrown in, along with the tease of two secondary characters that I’m desperately waiting on a book for.

Ultimately, this was an incredibly satisfying read that I enjoyed from start to finish and would recommend to any Sam Young fan out there.

Review: Bad Saint by Monica James

BAD SAINT
Series: All The Pretty Things Trilogy #1
Genre: Dark Romance
Author: Monica James
Release Date: May 6, 2019

I was kidnapped on my honeymoon by three masked men.

Blindfolded.
Bound.
Destination unknown.

I was told to stay silent and abide by their rules. But they didn’t realize I wasn’t a victim…not anymore.

The open sea was my backdrop for nine torturous days. During that time, glimmers of my fate were revealed by a man with the mysterious chartreuse-colored eyes. He should have scared me, but he didn’t.

He intrigued me. And I intrigued him.

He punished me when I didn’t listen, which was every single day. But beneath his cruelty, I sensed he was guarding a grave secret.

I was sold.
And in a game of poker, no less.

My buyer? A Russian mobster who likes to collect pretty things. Now that I know the truth, I only have one choice.

Sink or swim.

And when one fateful night presents me the opportunity, I take it. I just never anticipated my actions would leave me shipwrecked with my kidnapper.

He needs me alive. I want him dead.

But as days turn into weeks, one thing becomes clear—I should hate him…but I don’t.

My name is Willow.
His name is Saint.

Ironic, isn’t it? He bears a name that denotes nothing but holiness yet delivers nothing but hell. However, if this is hell on earth…God, save my soul.

AMAZON 

He’s leading a lamb to the slaughter, but the one thing he doesn’t realize…is that I’m not a lamb. And I never will be.

Alright. Accountability time. Why have those of you that knew that I’ve never read a Monica James book not slapped me upside the head with one of her books yet? hmm? You should be ashamed of yourselves! Ashamed, I tells ya! Because this girl? Is currently kicking her own ass for only now discovering this author.

Let’s be real here. The mere second that I laid my eyes on that blurb and this cover, I knew this would be my first Monica James book. I’m a sucker for a dark romance. But add in a good captive scenario and stick a fork in me. I’m done!

Having never read this author, I had no idea what to expect from this book. I know that I tend to be ridiculously picky when it comes to dark romance and I was a little nervous with reading it from a new to me author. But my worries soon floated away on the waves of emotion that this story brought! Holy…WOW.

While you spend the majority of the book in Willow’s head, you also get an incredibly unique glimpse of Saint. And let me just tell you, friends, you will be frothing at the mouth for this man. He’s an incredible enigma of violence and hidden pain. Everything about him is shrouded in mystery and you’re utterly desperate to peel back all of his many layers and get an answer for the million questions that will be running through your head as you turn the pages.

I need the darkness to survive. It’s the only way I can live with what I’ve done.”

If you’re like me, and like your heroines to be fierce fighters that don’t give up in even the most dire of circumstances, you’re going to love Willow. Here’s a woman that gets kidnapped on her wedding night, thrown on a boat, threatened within an inch of her life, and told she’s going to be the property of some cruel Russian mobster, yet she never stops fighting. The more you learn about the puzzle pieces that led to her current picture, the more desperate you’ll be to get to the next page.

Saint is certainly no saint in Willow’s world. This is a man that’s responsible for her current circumstances. He’s cruel, cold, and conditioning her for a man that’s promised to be even worse. But beneath that rough masked exterior, there are glimpses of a man that’s something…more.

How do you fall for a criminal who you never even get to understand beyond his words and actions as seen through Willow’s eyes. I don’t know, but I know that I did. There’s just something so magnetic about Saint. Something so vulnerable that you can’t help but glimpse in his actions and words. You want to hate him for the things he does, but you just can’t.

There were a few parts of the story where I felt like the descriptions became too much and got in the way of the story’s pacing. But ultimately, I was just too invested in the story to pay it much mind.

Bad Saint was deliciously dark and utterly captivating. I was totally enraptured in this world and by the time the ending came, my emotions were so up and down, I didn’t know what to do with myself. And then that ending happened!!!! SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT’S HOLY I NEED THE NEXT BOOK!!

#DGRFave & Jenn’s Review: Debase by Rachel Van Dyken

DEBASE
Series:
Elite Bratva Brotherhood #1
Genre:
Contemporary Romance, Dark
Author:
Rachel Van Dyken
Release Date:
April 30, 2019

Debase, the final book in the Eagle Elite Series and the first new book in the Elite Bratva Brotherhood by #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Rachel Van Dyken.

With blood on my hands, I held her.

With death in my soul, I took from her.

With the devil in my heart, I coveted her.

There are many definitions of Hell.

My list was exhaustive, my definitions tragic.

Tonight I was adding something new to the very top.

Girl number six thirty-two.

She arrived on my birthday, the same day, every year, I play Russian Roulette and pull the trigger.

She was my omen.

My end game.

She made it personal.

And for the first time in my life, I gave in.

A virgin mob boss with no soul.

My name is Andrei Petrov.

They call me the devil.

All I want is for the pain to end.

All she wants is for me to share it.

I am the last remaining heir to a dynasty that should burn in Hell.

And my last wish remains for it to die with me.

AMAZON | NOOK | iBOOKS | KOBO | SMASHWORDS

I slid my tongue into her mouth. I tasted, I took, I was greedy with each kiss. With blood on my hands, I held her. With death in my soul, I drank from her.

With the devil in my heart, I coveted her.

I wanted closer.

More.

My gloves felt too hot for my hands.

My hands too big to contain the weeping leather as I pulled away from Alice and stared into her big blue eyes.

“You don’t want this,” I whispered.

She bit down on her swollen lip and reached for me, I stood still as her warm hands touched both of my cheeks. “Lie.”

I let out a hiss of air at her touch. “Walk. Away.”

“Kiss me again.”

“I can’t do that.” I needed to stop doing that.

“Can’t or won’t?”

I told myself one more kiss, one more touch. I told myself it would be okay, that I was still in control.

That I was above this.

That no woman had ever owned me.

No woman had ever taken everything.

My chest heaved as I stared at her mouth, unable to move, completely rooted to the floor.

Alice moved her hands to my jeans and slowly unbuttoned them. I didn’t stop her, I needed to fucking stop her, but it was like I’d drank this paralyzing poison from her lips and couldn’t function, could only watch her as my soul floated above my body, mocking my inaction, telling me that this would be the end of me.

The very end.

Letting her in.

Keeping her there.

I would give her everything.

And then I would lose control.

Lose my mind.

Lose my heart.

I would lose.

So would she.

“Alice…” My voice cracked. “I wish…” Her hands stilled on my jeans like she was ready to pull them down. “I can’t. I wish I could. I can’t.”

How could she possibly understand?

How could I explain the gut-wrenching fear of looking in the mirror and knowing that one choice kept me sane. One choice.

And that was sex.

He’d made that choice.

I wouldn’t.

I couldn’t.

I couldn’t trust myself, couldn’t trust it wouldn’t happen to me too, and hurt someone like her.

Someone so very… perfect.

Without blinking, Alice gripped my jeans, indecision etched on every pretty part of her face.

She was beautiful.

So damn beautiful.

I gripped her wrists with my hands and pulled them away from the very real temptation of getting completely naked and sinking into her, feeling her clench around me, her tight heat.

Shit.

I pulled her into my arms, and she rested her head on my shoulder. Just because I couldn’t let her touch me, couldn’t cross that line, didn’t mean I couldn’t make her happy, I would kill to watch her face in the throes of multiple orgasms.

I quickly gripped her by the hips and put her up on the cold granite countertop.

“Andrei what are you doing?” She looked down at me uncertainty in her blue eyes.

I moved my hands to her ass and pulled down the black leggings she’d been wearing, all the way down to her ankles, right along with a pair of lacy underwear that were bright pink, and perfect.

“Andrei?”

“Yes?”

“Seriously, what are you doing?”

I gripped her knees with my hands and then spread them wide. “What’s it look like I’m doing?” I smirked. “I’m feasting.”

Her eyes widened.

Never underestimate a virgin with an extremely vivid imagination and heightened sexual appetite.

I wasn’t a fucking monk.

I would like to think I knew more than most men, because I’d seen it all, watched it, inadvertently studied it.

If someone gave me a diagram of a woman, I could point out over twenty-two ways to get her off — with my tongue, a feather, my fingers, take your pick.

“You don’t have to—” She let out a gasp, gripping the edge of the granite, turning her hands white.

I chuckled darkly against her right thigh and bit. “I’m sorry, what was that? I don’t have to?”

“I’ve never, nobody has ever… done. This.”

“Tell me,” I asked gently before I dipped my tongue inside her and flicked.

Her entire body jerked.

“Tell me he never touched you like this, tell me nobody has ever touched you like this.”

“Never,” she rasped. “You.” That word was like a gunshot going off in my soul. “Only you, Andrei.”

“Me.” I flicked my tongue again, and gripped her by the ass, pulling her almost completely off the counter while I sat beneath her and sucked her off in the most primitive aggressive way I knew how.

With every ounce of energy I had in my physical body.

With my soul.

I used every weapon in my arsenal.

632 stars!!

Bear with me because this is series is hard to review without spoiling, but I promise no spoilers!

Dark. Twisted. Raw. And yet….Funny. How am I laughing during all this darkness? Because Rachel Van Dyken creates these terrible yet…loveable characters who embrace their darkness and just lie in it. I adore the banter between these guys from all of the previous books. I could read an entire book (or text message chain) of just these guys talking to each other!! Rachel takes all of her characters with her in this series, so we can follow them and always get more of each couple/character. Because I ALWAYS WANT MORE!!


Andrei. The tortured anti-hero. Well, and the anti-hero who also like to torture. Torture is his specialty. Andrei’s history is dark and unthinkable, but he is trying to come out of that darkness. Unfortunately, he has to endure it until he can be free of it completely. He has a plan to be free, but one girl is getting in his way, in his mind….and in his pants. Andrei is constantly wearing a mask, hiding who he really is and his scars. He doesn’t allow himself to trust others easily.

There is a clear comparison between Phoenix and Andrei. As a lover of everything Phoenix (He’s mine!), I quickly became obsessed with Andrei as well. They have a similar past, and Phoenix helps Andrei in his own twisted way, helping Andrei find some light in all of the darkness.


Alice. I love the heroine in this book. Much like the previous heroines, Alice is a strong woman. But unlike the previous heroines, she isn’t jaded. She has been through the unthinkable and struggles trusting people, especially men. But this doesn’t stop her from seeing the (potential) good in Andrei. Of course, Andrei is always pushing her away because he doesn’t want to taint her in any way, but he can only resist for so long. Andrei ends up having to protect her and the rest is for you to read and find out what happens. 😉

This is technically a spin-off of the Eagle Elite series, so I am uber excited about where she is going with this spin-off!! BUT I would definitely recommend reading the previous series because ALL of the characters are included in this book. I love the multiple points of views because there is always something happening, and she keeps you guessing the whole time!

Blood in. No out.

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Connect with Rachel:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RachelVanDyken
Website: http://rachelvandykenauthor.com
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/RVDNewsletter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachvd
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachVD
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cNVwL9
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Rachel’s Rockin’ Readers: http://bit.ly/RachelsRockinReaders

Review: Arranged by RK Lilley

ARRANGED
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: RK Lilley
Release Date: April 22, 2019

There were rules in the cash-for-beauty game. The money held the power. The beauty followed the rules and jumped through the hoops.

THE BRIDE
I knew what everyone would think if they knew the truth about my marriage. They’d be shocked and appalled. And rightly so. I was a young, modern, independent woman, and I’d done the unthinkable. I’d sold my virginity to a spoiled, rich boy. To a stranger who didn’t love me.

And yes, I’d done it all for money.

THE GROOM
My bride was as gorgeous as she was unwelcome. As desirable as she was unwanted. I wanted nothing to do with her, but that didn’t seem to matter exactly the second she got close enough to touch. I wanted her to hate me more than she loved the millions she’d sold herself for.

I wanted to spurn her, but unfortunately, I wanted to fuck her more.

ARRANGED is a standalone erotic romance.

AMAZON


He hated me on principle, and he fascinated me in spite of myself.

I love RK Lilley’s brand of angst. So of course the second I saw she has a new book coming out, I jumped on it with a rabidness of a starving squirrel. That analogy made sense, right? No? Whatever. Just go with me here.

Arranged marriages are my jam and bullheaded, broody, and brokenly mean heroes are my crack. So of course the blurb to this book hooked me, line and sinker. The irony of my rating is that I DEVOURED this book. I’m talking straight up binge read here, people. But I also couldn’t help but feel that something was missing for me. I’m thinking this was likely the heroine’s balls up until the bitter end. Le sigh.

The set up is delicious. A bride that sells herself and her virginity to a cold and unwilling husband who only marries her to get his inheritance from his father. She agrees to be his perfect trophy wife and obedient doll. He makes it apparent she will never be anything more to him. Enter a game of push and pull the likes of which will make you want to rip your hair out. And this was the beginning of the end for me here. Because while the set up was my catnip, the heroine was my kryptonite.

Now look, I get it. She sold herself for millions of dollars and knew full well what she was walking into. She agrees to take it all in stride and be the perfect little wife. She HAS to take all of her husband’s vile and hot and cold behavior. But at the same time, I didn’t get her either. He treats her like trash, and yet she still trembles because of their sexual chemistry. She’s so up and down with this that I started to get dizzy. He rips her to shreds and she barely walks away without gaping wounds, but the second he gives her the sex eyes, she’s all over it, because…magic penis.

Now you may have seen a HUGE spoiler floating around in some reviews. And I want to make myself very clear that this didn’t bother me. In context, I got it. But I get how this may be a huge no for some people. I’m not one of them, though. For me, this was staying true to this character and I wouldn’t buy it if he was the perfect little husband if I’m being perfectly honest. Where it went wrong for me with Calder is his sudden 180. The man goes from bitter and cold to suddenly the exact opposite and I simply didn’t buy the total and complete turnaround.

Does he grovel at the end, absolutely. But I couldn’t help but feel I needed something a little more. The heroine also finally grows a pair and lets him have it, which was satisfying. But again, it didn’t take long for her to succumb to his sex voodoo.

I loved the premise of this book and as I already mentioned, I totally binged on it. But something in the execution just felt lacking for me. I will say that I’m thrilled to have RK Lilley back in action and can’t wait for more books from her. This one, while falling short in some of my personal preferences, was still an entertaining read. So if you’re looking for a sexy arranged marriage trope with a real alphahole of a hero, definitely give this a go!

Review: Twisted Pride by Cora Reilly

TWISTED PRIDE
Series: The Camorra Chronicles #3
Genre: Dark Romance, Mafia
Author: Cora Reilly
Release Date: April 16, 2019

Remo Falcone is beyond redemption.

As Capo of the Camorra he rules with a brutal hand over his territory – a territory the Chicago Outfit breached.

Now Remo is out for retribution.
A wedding is sacred, stealing a bride sacrilegious.

Serafina is the niece of the Boss of the Outfit, and her hand has been promised in marriage for years, but kidnapped in her wedding dress on her way to church by Remo, Serafina quickly realizes that she can’t hope for saving. Yet, even in the hands of the cruelest man she knows, she is determined to cling to her pride, and Remo soon understands that the woman at his mercy might not be as easy to break as he thought.

A ruthless man on a quest to destroy the Outfit by breaking someone they are supposed to protect.

A woman intent on bringing a monster to his knees.
Two families that will never be the same.

AMAZON

Pride was the only weapon I had, and I would hold on to it until the very end.

Mafia romance is my jam. The darker, the better. And when I first saw the blurb to this story, I knew this had to be my first Cora Reilly book.

After finishing, I’ll admit I have very conflicting emotions about how I feel about it. On the one hand, I struggled to connect to the heroine and the way she was painted to be so naive and complacent in the beginning. On the other hand, the more I read, the more connected I felt to the story.

What begins as a twisted game of revenge soon begins to turn into something more. Remo and Serafina both come from the same world but they live on opposite sides of it. Where Serafina has been sheltered, Remo has seem the depths of human depravity and violence. So much so, that it’s twisted and tainted him into the Capo that he is today. The dynamic between them was a delicious one, however. I loved the push and pull of their unwanted attraction. Serbian should be a means to an end to a man like Remo. He doesn’t care about anything but his family. But there’s something about her that reaches into the hidden depths of him. It’s not instant. It’s a slow burn of realization as he discovers that Serafina isn’t the sheltered and soft beauty that she seems. That she’s got a core of strength and a pride beneath that delicate exterior. That he yearns to break her in all ways possible.

Now here is also where I struggled with the book; the characterization. It soon became apparent that I did myself a great disservice by reading this book without reading the others. There’s clearly a continuing story arc that follows the brothers, and even though the author attempts to give the reader bits and pieces, it still felt like I was missing huge chunks of their backstory. The incredible amount of redundant descriptions of Remo were a huge irritant for me. I lost count of the amount of times that I read about his cruel smile, cold voice and brutal acts. I’m not even kidding. The word cruel is used over 60 times in the book to describe either his smile, his eyes, or his general being. And yes, I counted.

Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoyed Remo’s dark depravity. But I also got tired of constantly being reminded of it. It felt like being slapped in the face with his personality. I get it! He’s cruel and brutal. Let his actions and behavior be the reminder. Not his description.

Aside from that, I really did enjoy the story. It was action-packed, gritty, and after the 30% mark, a complete page turner for me. And while I struggled with some parts, I still liked it enough to know I want to read the rest of this series. I definitely need Adamo’s story soon! That was a secondary character that I couldn’t get enough of.

Review: Method by Kate Stewart

METHOD
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Kate Stewart
Release Date: April 18, 2019

Hollywood is a temptress, a trickster, a soul-stealing devil. I married an A-list player, knowing I come second place to his craft. But Lucas and I are a golden couple, a modern-day fairy tale.

I’ve never doubted what we built…until the sudden death of Lucas’s best friend has scandal rocking the Hills and shaking the foundation of our relationship.

I chose Lucas as my safe haven…he chose the role of a lifetime.

For the next three months, I’ll share my nights with a stranger, watching as he buries his pain, immersed in his role and living as someone else.

We’ve done this before. I tell myself it’s just another movie, and he’ll return to me.

I should’ve known this time would be different.

To get my husband back, I’ll need the strength of ten men.

As it turns out, I’ll have to go through two.

AMAZON

We are thin hearts trying to break through thick walls.

What is it about Kate Stewart’s words that never fail to pull me into every single emotion that she instills into her incredible books. And this book? It was one emotional roller coaster full of heart wrenching and angsty romance. It was one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long damn while and I couldn’t stop reading it. It reached into the very depth of my reader’s soul and managed to pull out every feeling ranging from one extreme to the other. It made me swoon, it made me cry, and at times it made me rage.

Method touches on a subject that isn’t easy to read. It paints an incredibly vivid picture of what happens when talent and dedication begins to skate the edge of madness and something else. Something dangerous. Something dark.

Mila and Lucas are the epitome of the Hollywood couple; desperately in love with the type of beginning that any romantic’s dreams are made out of. After six year of wedded bliss, the sudden and tragic death of Lucas’s best friend sends them into a tailspin that neither saw coming.

Mila knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she married Lucas. She knew that his craft comes first and she knew the price he paid for the prep he does before his roles. But nothing could prepare her for the mist of mourning that her husband enters after the death of his best friend or just exactly what his dedication to his craft will cost them.

The story is told in several flashbacks ranging from present, to their first meeting, and to the months leading up to their current situation. I don’t typically have an issue with flashbacks, and you can see that the author had a reason for writing them the way that she did. However, I couldn’t help but struggle with this part. Just as I was getting into the feeling of being in the present, it would flash back to 6 years ago, or to the months leading up to their deterioration. This began to get extremely distracting for me. There were parts that felt they jumped too suddenly and if it wasn’t for the shift to italics in the font, I’d have no idea we were suddenly teleported to 5 years ago.

That aside, I fell desperately in love with these characters and their story. My heart bled for Lucas and everything he goes through just as my heart ached for Mila and everything she stood through. This is a couple that loves each other at their worst, but just didn’t expect what would happen when the worst turns ugly. What happens when mourning and regrets begin to morph into something darker. And the price you pay for raw talent and everything that it takes for making it as a Hollywood A-lister. It was raw and gut wrenching and absolutely unforgettable. I devoured all of the words. It kept me reading well into the night. I was completely captivated by this incredible story. It was phenomenal. It was one of a kind. Kate Stewart just gets better and better with every book and I can’t wait to see what her imagination will come up with next.

Review: More Than Tempt You by Shayla Black

MORE THAN TEMPT YOU
Series: More Than Words #5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Shayla Black
Release Date: April 30, 2019

I romanced her for revenge…but what if she’s not the enemy after all?

I’m Clint Holmes. I was an ambitious guy with a busy life and a growing business. Sure North Dakota wasn’t a tropical paradise, but I was happy enough—until tragedy struck. Now the only thing that matters is finding the person responsible and making her pay. But Bethany Banks is a Harvard-educated shark used to swallowing her enemies whole while playing dangerous corporate games. How can a blue-collar oil man like me possibly beat her?

The moment I lay eyes on my beautiful nemesis, the answer is obvious. I seduce her.

On Maui, where she’s fled, I get to know the man-eater who caused my family so much pain…only to find she’s not the brazen ballbuster I assumed. She’s skittish, secretive, vulnerable. For some reason, my instinct is to protect her. I can’t abandon my plan…but I can’t stop wanting her. Night after night, I pry her open with my touch until I’m drowning in our passion. Soon, I’m questioning everything, especially the fine line between love and hate. But when the past comes back to wreak vengeance and the truth explodes, can I prove that I’m more than tempted to love her forever?

AMAZON

I came for my pound of flesh…but I’m the one who lost my heart.

I have a rule when it comes to Shayla Black books= she writes them, I read them. No exception. And while I get excited about all of her upcoming releases, there was something about this blurb that had me particularly foaming at the mouth. It’s a twist on the enemies to lovers with a splash of revenge and I was dying to get my grabby little hands on it.

Clint is desperate for answers and revenge. After his father loses his entire life’s savings in a Ponzi scheme by those he trusted most, Clint needs to make them pay. His target? The beautiful and vicious financial wiz that held his father’s fortune and up and disappeared when the crooked empire that her father built went crumbling down. But not everything is what it seems.

Hawaii serves the beautiful backdrop to this story as Clint slowly begins to discover that Bethany may not quite be the ruthless shark that he thought she was.

I’ll admit, I had a tough time connecting Bethany’s true self to what I knew about her on paper. She seems to have two very big extremes; who she really is and who she needs to be, and there’s not much in the middle. She’s introverted and almost borderline naive, but at the same time…not. I won’t go into much detail here, but let’s just say some of the things she does for her father, I had a hard time connecting that woman to who she really is. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel for her and everything that she’s been through. This is a woman with many layers, and I was eager to keep unraveling them to get to the core of who she is.

The romance was deeply satisfying. I loved watching Clint’s eventual and almost unwilling fall for her. The more he gets to know the woman behind the enigma, the more he begins to question his resolve. I also loved that this is written in Clint’s POV. I really liked being in his head and experiencing his up and down emotions. He struggles with falling for the woman that’s responsible for his family’s greatest pain and he struggles even more with connecting his gut feelings and his heart.

This story had everything; feels and steam, mystery and action, along with a heart wrenching romance. I enjoyed it thoroughly and can’t wait for more. Hopefully we get Clint’s brothers in the next one.

Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than sixty novels. For nearly twenty years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold millions of copies and been published in a dozen languages.

Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past eight years.

Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her daughter, and two spoiled tabbies. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.

Connect with Shayla:

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Website: https://www.shaylablack.com

 

Review: Nocturnes & Nightmares by Keri Lake

NOCTURNES & NIGHTMARES
Series: The Sandman Duet #1
Genre: Dark Thriller, Romantic Thriller
Author: Keri Lake
Release Date: April 29, 2019

The most terrifying monsters aren’t found in dreams …

Four young socialites have gone missing in the Chicago area. Two found dead, bearing the signature marks of a brutal serial killer. With the kind of tragedy that mars Nola Tensley’s past, she should be concerned, but without a pot to piss in, all the struggling single mom cares about is making a normal life for her son.

After all, she’s clearly not the murderer’s type.
Or is she?

When Rhett Voss, an enigmatic and handsome stranger, answers her ad for the outdated in-law suite at the back of her property, offering double her asking price, Nola really can’t refuse. Even though the supposed Wall Street Wolf seems better suited for a high-rise downtown—a suspicion that quickly turns into hindsight once she submits to the flirtations of her charming new tenant, and consequently, unearths a series of disturbing revelations.

Her curiosities lead her down the path of a madman, whose moniker, The Sandman, only hints at the grisly nature of his crimes. He’s smart. Evasive. A cunning psychopath with a twisted method of disposing his victims.

And his hunting grounds are hitting too close to home.

Author note: This book contains scenes of graphic sex and violence that some readers may find disturbing.

AMAZON

There’s something about this man I can’t quite put my finger on. Something wild and terrifying beneath that tightly composed mask he wears, like a thunderstorm behind the thin veil of a cloud.

A spine tingling, edge of your seat page turner!! This book was unlike anything I’ve read from Keri to date! I had goosebumps reading it. Honest to god goosebumps that only Keri’s words can elicit from me. The woman is an evil genius, crafting darker and darker tales that push the edge of every one of my boundaries and yet keeps me coming back for more like the addict that I am.

If the blurb doesn’t make it obvious enough, this book is NOT for the faint of heart. It’s dark. But more than that, it’s terrifying. It puts the reader inside the mind of a psychopath as they systematically and meticulously go on their killing spree. It introduces you to a serial killer that’s not just deranged, but smart in a way that’s allowed them to avoid being caught as more and more women fall into the deadly path.

It soon becomes apparent that in the center of the killer’s crosshairs is Nola Tensle, though she may not know it yet. As a single mom after the most devastating of tragedies, Nola is just trying to make it day by day and provide for her and her son. When an enigmatic stranger answers her ad for her rental in-suite, her life takes a sudden turn.

Now I have two words for you here: Rhett. Voss. Sweet mother! This man. GAH! Enigmatic and dark with a past shrouded in mystery and blood, this is an anti-hero like only Keri Lake can write. There’s a hidden depravity beneath the surface of the calm exterior that he presents to the world. And you can’t wait but finally get a taste for all the hidden desires that lurk just beneath his presence.

I would tell you that this is a dark thriller first and a romance second. The romance unravels organically in a way that’s realistic to the story, but you won’t be dissatisfied. However, the suspense will certainly take center stage in this first book.

This book kept me at the edge of my seat from beginning to finish. I had to sleep with the lights out for a solid week after finishing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was a hair raising sort of thriller that spun a dark web and kept you up all night. Love love LOVED IT!

#DGRFave & Review: Pretty Reckless by LJ Shen

PRETTY RECKLESS
Series: All Saints High #1
Genre: New Adult, Mature Young Adult Romance
Author: LJ Shen
Release Date: April 26, 2019

From USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author L.J. Shen comes an intense, high school enemies-to-lovers romance with a twist.

Penn

They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
I’d had four years to stew on what Daria Followhill did to me, and now my heart was completely iced.
I took her first kiss.
She took the only thing I loved.
I was poor.
She was rich.
The good thing about circumstances? They can change. Fast.
Now, I’m her parents’ latest shiny project.
Her housemate. Her tormentor. The captain of the rival football team she hates so much.
Yeah, baby girl, say it—I’m your foster brother.
There’s a price to pay for ruining the only good thing in my life, and she’s about to shell out some serious tears.
Daria Followhill thinks she is THE queen. I’m about to prove to her that she’s nothing but a spoiled princess.

Daria

Everyone loves a good old unapologetic punk.
But being a bitch? Oh, you get slammed for every snarky comment, cynical eye roll, and foot you put in your adversaries’ way.
The thing about stiletto heels is that they make a hell of a dent when you walk all over the people who try to hurt you.
In Penn Scully’s case, I pierced his heart until he bled out, then left it in a trash can on a bright summer day.
Four years ago, he asked me to save all my firsts for him.
Now he lives across the hall, and I want nothing more than to be his last everything.
His parting words when he gave me his heart were that nothing in this world is free.
Now? Now he is making me pay.

AMAZON

He gave me the rarest thing in the world, and I gave him heartache.”

Oh the angst! The angst of it all!!!

Welcome to your new addiction, angst addicts. Because this new series? It’s about to reach into your very soul and tear out all of the feels!

Pretty Reckless took high school rivals, added a splash of enemies to lovers, wrapped around heart-wrenching angst, and delivered one finger-licking utterly addicting page-turner! If NA angst is your crack of choice, then Shen is about to become your favorite dealer.

I don’t have enough praise for this book and everything that I experienced along with it. This is the stuff that my NA romance dreams are made of. Delicious angst, multilayered characters, plenty of plot twists, and an unputdownable story.

If you’ve read Shen’s Sinners of Saint series, then you’ll be familiar with the Followhill from Defy. Daria is the daughter of Melody and Jaime. And if you recall their forbidden union, then you already know that their daughter will have one big chip on her shoulder as she attends the same high school as her parents had their notorious relationship at.

Daria is easily one of my favorite heroines of LJ Shen to date. I love a female that can own the fact that she’s a queen B. But she’s also not the stereotypical do-gooder. This is a girl with a huge chip on her shoulder and she can be downright vicious to those that cross her path. She’s completely unapologetic about it, though being in her head, you see the glimpses of the vulnerability that causes her to lash out the way she does. Poor little rich girl.

As for Penn. Sweet mother of ovaries! I turned cougar for this man and I have no regrets. The turbulent enemies to lovers relationship that happens between these two kept me absolutely riveted to the pages. Daria may give as good as she gets, but Penn doesn’t pull any punches with her either. They are pure fire together.

I devoured and I mean straight up DEVOURED this book and was left desperate for more. Shen is a master of her craft and just keeps getting better and better with each new book. I’m already frothing at the mouth for more ASH!

#NewRelease & Review: The Perfect First by Maya Hughes

THE PERFECT FIRST
Series: Fulton U #1
Genre: New Adult Romance
Author: Maya Hughes
Release Date: April 25, 2019

“How long do you last in bed?” Those were her first words to me, swiftly followed up with, “And how big would you say you are?”

Cue the record scratching, what?!

Persephone Alexander. Math genius. Lover of blazers. The only girl I know who can make Heidi braids look sexy as hell. And she’s on a mission. Lose her virginity by the end of the semester.

I walked in on her interview session for potential candidates (who even does that?) and saw straight through her brave front. She’s got a list of Firsts to accomplish like she’s only got months to live. I’ve decided to be her guide for all her firsts except one. Someone’s got to keep her out of trouble. I have one rule, no sex. We even shook on it.

I’ll help her find the right guy for the job. Someone like her doesn’t need someone like me and my massive…baggage for her first time.

Drinking at a bar. Check.

Partying all night. Double check.

Skinny dipping. Triple check.

She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met. The walls I’d put up around my heart are slowly crumbling with each touch that sets fire to my soul.

I’m the first to bend the rules. One electrifying kiss changes everything and suddenly I don’t want to be her first, I want to be her only. But her plan was written before I came onto the scene and now I’m determined to get her to re-write her future with me.

AMAZON

I’d give her the other firsts, as many as I could, because if I gave her too much, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from never wanting to stop.

Calling all New Adult Romance fans, because The Perfect First is an absolute must read. It was a swoony, quirky, steamy, funny and utterly endearing page-turner. I devoured this. I binge read it. I couldn’t put it down for even a minute.

I’ve read my fair share of New Adult romance and some of these stories are a dime a dozen. But this was not one of those stories! There was this uniqueness to this book that just resonated with me. It made it into one of those books that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Shy virgin meets sexy college football superstar? Yes, please. But this book was so much more than that! I think what really made the story for me was Seph. On paper, she’s not a heroine that I gravitate towards. She’s a shy and totally sheltered genius. She has no friends because she has no idea how to handle social situations. She’s never so much as been exposed to them outside of school mixers with older professors and tutors. But she’s not the quirky introvert that I was expecting. Her father is a domineering tyrant that expects nothing short of extraordinary from her and it’s been a weight on her shoulders for her entire life. Being away from home and in college, she’s determined to have all of the firsts that she’s missed out on her entire life, even if she has to take an ad out for the perfect first to take her virginity.

Reece doesn’t answer her ad. He has no shortage of willing females on campus being the football superstar that he is. But when he inadvertently stumbles on Seph’s “interview session” he can’t help but be intrigued by the girl. What starts as an unlikely friendship soon begins to develop into something neither one of them were expecting.

I can’t tell you enough just how much I loved Seph’s character. There was this sweet and naive quality to her. It was so entertaining to see her grow into herself with each new experience she has with Reece. Until she finally grows into someone that stands up for what she wants. I loved watching her become more and more comfortable in her own skin. I loved the way her friendship with Reece slowly develops into that something more. I seriously couldn’t get enough of the two of them together.

The Perfect First was simply delicious! I’m talking finger-licking good sort of NA and I’m beyond excited for this brand new series. Every secondary character that’s been introduced already has my full attention and all of the grabby hands. I need LJ and Nix’s books like YESTERDAY. If you’re a fan of fun and quirky NA with plenty of steam, unique characters, and a romance that you will root for from begging to finish, The Perfect First is NOT TO BE MISSED!


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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