Review: Blacklisted by Jay Crownover

BLACKLISTED
Series: Loveless, Texas #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Small Town
Author: Jay Crownover
Release Date: October 27, 2020

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series comes an irresistible and suspenseful romance between a doctor who plays by the rules and the outlaw who breaks them in order to protect her.

Dr. Presley Baskin has always lived a quiet, calm life. Unfortunately, nothing about her life in Loveless, Texas—especially not the wild, rowdy, and impossibly close-knit Lawton family who’ve claimed her—is quiet or calm. Which is how loner Presley finds herself roped into patching up local bad boy Shot Caldwell against her better judgment. Presley wants nothing to do with the dangerous, brooding leader of the local outlaw motorcycle club. But when someone starts stalking her, Shot is the only person she trusts to help. Plus he owes her one…

Palmer ‘Shot’ Caldwell has always known his life isn’t made for relationships. At least until shy, secretive, Presley reluctantly pulled a bullet out of him. He’s oddly protective of the pretty doctor, so when she comes to him for help, hard-hearted Shot suddenly realizes there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

 AMAZON

I’d never been able to walk away from the search for retribution. My soul was restless until the proper price was paid.

I feel like I’ve been waiting FOREVER to finally have my hands on Shot’s book, and after the ending in Unforgiven, that need went dang near rabid. Now first of all, if you’re reading this as a standalone, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Read the first two books. Even though each book focuses on a new couple, there’s a continuing story arc that continues through each series and is concluded here. Everything that was set in motion in Justified finally gets brought to a head here.

If you’ve read the first two books, then you’re already familiar with the suspense of the murder of Lawton patriarch. Presley is the half sister that her three siblings had no idea they had. After finding out that her best friend is a psychopath that’s responsible for making her life a living hell and losing her mother, Presley’s quiet existence imploded in a fiery blaze. Her stalker is still out there and wants her dead, and the Sons of Sorrow are in her debt for saving Shot’s life.

After the peeks we get into SoS and Shot Caldwell, I was dying for more of the MC. However, if you’re expecting a biker book, this is not that. The author made it clear that biker romance is something that she struggles with, so this book is in the same tone as the rest of the series. However, Shot is very much a biker and not a cowboy. He’s the epitome of a bad boy. An outlaw that lives his life on his own terms and answers to no one. Presley is the opposite of him in every way, but he can’t seem to stay away from here. Their chemistry is incendiary. These are two characters that always felt like outsiders in their own life, and their bond on that is strong. I loved the way they were there for each other.

There’s quite a bit of suspense happening here with both Shot and Presley’s life in danger by different people. Presley is still trying to figure out having siblings for the first time in her life and a man that’s pursuing her that is the epitome of everything that she doesn’t go for.

While I had hoped for more time and focus on the MC and the characters there, I still enjoyed this one quite a bit. I may have set my expectations on the MC a bit high, but I can’t say I’m disappointed. This still hit the spot quite nicely and was a satisfying conclusion to a series that I’ve been invested in for some time.

Review: The Bribe by Willa Nash

THE BRIBE
Series:
Calamity Montana #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Willa Nash
Release Date: October 15, 2020

Duke Evans didn’t expect to interrupt a beautiful woman in a staring contest with a bison on his favorite hiking trail. He also didn’t expect to see her again after rescuing her from the surly beast. As the sheriff in Calamity, Montana, he’s had his fair share of surprises but none as pleasant as pulling over a shiny black car and finding his mysterious hiking companion behind the wheel.

Only, she lied to Duke. She gave him a name as fake as her hair color. According to her driver’s license, her real name is Lucy Ross, the famous country music singer whose sudden disappearance has been a hot topic in the media over the past two weeks.

He’s not sure why Lucy lied about her identity or why she’s in Calamity. And she’s not talking. Instead, she offers him a bribe to keep her secret.

But Duke doesn’t want her money. He wants to know why this woman is on the run. And as long as the star shines on his badge, he’s going to find out.

 AMAZON 

In public, you’re Jade. But behind closed doors, you’re—”
“Lucy?” she breathed.
I shook my head. “Mine.”

I have a love affair with all things Devney Perry, so when I saw she’s releasing a new series under a pen name, I was beyond thrilled. I live for her small town romances. The Bribe was a sweet romance with a swoony hero and a country singer in hiding set in the charming town of Calamity and plenty of amazing secondary characters.

I was a woman running through a storm, searching for a haven against the onslaught of rain.

Lucy is a famous country singer that left her entire life behind in Nashville to disappear as Jade in Calamity. She first runs into Duke when he rescues her and her BFF on a hiking trail. She never expects to run into the handsome stranger again, especially not as the sheriff in the small town where she’s trying to hide. And this sheriff won’t let her hide and is determined to get her every secret.

Duke was….*swoony sigh*. Gosh. This man was everything. I love me an alphahole, but every now and then a girl needs a dose of a good guy, and Duke hit the spot just right. The man is protective, loyal, and persistent. He’s determined to get all of Jade’s secrets, even if he has to pretend to take a bribe to keep them. The sparks between these two were instant and potent. I loved the tension between them as much as I loved their instant connection. There’s a dash of suspense that’s thrown in that helped spice things up a little which really comes to a head at the end.

Jade and Duke’s romance wasn’t full of angst. It wasn’t easy either but there were no games, no stupid misunderstandings. It was just so immensely satisfying watching these two fall in love. Duke, the quintessential nice guy, and Lucy the famous singer just made sense together. The Bribe was a butterflies in your tummy sort of romance that you finish with a smile on your face. I love me some angst, but I never missed it here. The suspense gave it just the right amount of zing that the story needed. And the preview of the next book? I die for it. DIE FOR IT. I can’t wait for Everly’s book next.

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

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Review: Muses & Melodies by Rebecca Yarros

MUSES & MELODIES
Series:
Hush Note #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Release Date: October 6, 2020

If I can keep Hush Note’s leading guitarist, Nixon Winters, on the straight and narrow for the next six months, I’ll finally get my own band to manage—assuming we don’t kill each other first.

The egotistical, irritating rock star is fresh out of rehab, but it’s obvious his demons followed him home—and now I’m sleeping down the hall. I’ve watched him self-destruct every summer, and with album deadlines and tour dates looming, I can’t let it happen again. My career is in his hands.

But tattoos can’t cover every scar, and I’m starting to see through his trademark, irresistible charm to the damage beneath.

Everyone wants the rock star.
I’m falling for the man.

If he doesn’t let me in,
he’ll never break the cycle—
And when these six months are up,
I might be the one left broken.

 AMAZON | iBOOKS | KOBO | NOOK

…he kissed like he played guitar—like nothing else mattered on the planet, and in that moment, nothing else did. He wiped away the rest of the world and altered the universe so it centered around.

An emotional and highly poignant story to end a fantastic series with. Muses & Melodies really closes it out with an emotional bang. Nix’s story was everything I had hoped for and so much more.

I wanted the only woman on the planet I couldn’t have.

The lead guitarist of Hush Notes has been spiraling for years. In and out of rehab, Nix’s favorite brand of self medication is sex, drugs and alcohol. You know that there’s something dark in his past that not even his closest friends know, but it’s not until the layers begin to be peeled back that you realize the full impact of his hidden pain.

Zoe is eager to make a name for herself in the music industry. But where Nix is center stage, she likes to be the talent behind the screen. She loves music and she loves the industry. And now her big break relies on her ability to keep Nix out of trouble. Babysitting a rockstar isn’t quite what she had in mind, but she’ll do it. It’s not just about the job for Zoe. She truly cares for Nix, which truly makes their journey to each other that much more potent.

Zoe has always been in the background of Nix’s world but now their forced proximity is making him deal with an attraction he didn’t even realize was there. The sparks between these two were so deliciously hot. But it was so much more than chemistry. I loved how Zoe gives as good as she gets, and a defensive Nix gives quite a bit. Zoe is always there for him no matter how angry he gets or how he lashes out. But you can see the pain he hides beneath that rockstar exterior and that just makes him that much more endearing no matter how broken he is.

This was a story that was full of passion and emotion. There was so much feeling packed in that just made me that more invested in this. A perfect romance to end the series with.

Rebecca is a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of over fifteen novels, and is always ready to bring on the emotions. She’s also the recipient of the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence for Eyes Turned Skyward from her Flight and Glory series.

She loves military heroes and has been blissfully married to hers for eighteen years. She’s the mother of six children, ranging from kindergarten to law school, and is currently surviving the teenage years with two of her four hockey-playing sons. When she’s not writing, you can find her at the hockey rink or sneaking in some guitar time. She lives in Colorado with her family, their stubborn English bulldog, and a feisty chinchilla. Having fostered then adopted their youngest daughter, Rebecca is passionate about helping children in the foster system through her nonprofit, One October.

Visit her website at www.RebeccaYarros.com for more!

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Review: Crowne Rules by CD Reiss

CROWNE RULES
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: CD Reiss
Release Date: September 29, 2020

There’s a house in Cambria with no phone, no internet, no connection to the outside world.

Dante and Mandy are stuck there together.

He needs a live-in assistant.

She needs a place to hide.

If she gives him total obedience, he’ll do everything in his power to clean up the mess she made back home. Anything less than unquestioning compliance, and she goes back to LA humiliated.

Those are the rules.

Take them or leave them.

Mandy figures she can do Dante’s menial tasks for awhile. Do what he says until the heat dies down.

She has no idea how hot it’s going to get until he tells her she has to do them on her knees.
—-
This is a STANDALONE.

 AMAZON 

I’m going to ruin you, and you’re going to let me.”

God but I love me a grumpy and domineering men. Make them ooze sexual dominance and depravity and I’m putty in your hands. The second Dante’s energy so much as appeared on the pages of this book, I was already a goner. The man simply has a way with words and I was so here for it.

If you were my whore, you’d be kneeling at my feet, naked with your ass up, offering it up for my pleasure, hoping I’d hurt you. Afraid I wouldn’t. You’d sleep at the foot of my bed to please me. You’d open your legs when I told you and take my cock down your throat to thank me. You’d let them call you a whore if I asked you to, because with every orgasm I let you have, you’d know you were only mine.”

Yeah.
See what I’m saying?

Mandy is dealing with the fallout of a very public and very ugly breakup. Caught in the middle of hollywood’s best kept secret she’s painted as the other woman and a home wrecker. Her heart broken, she’s desperate for a small piece of serenity. When Logan allows her to use his secluded house, the last person she expects to see there is Logan’s older brother, Dante.

Dante doesn’t hide his contempt for Mandy. He sees her as the public does, a vapid little rich girl. And even though they’ve known each other for years, he’s never made much of an effort to see the real woman beneath his assumptions. But forced in close proximity, the sexual tension between them is hard to ignore.

If there’s one thing I love, is watching men like Dante fall and fall hard. Mandy came off as a bit of a love crazy female in the previous books, but I really connected with her in this one. You can see her spine of steel really come out here and I loved the way she gave back as hard as she got. And Dante didn’t really spare his venom at times. Admittedly, he was almost hard to like in the beginning. And when his anger would unleash with Mandy, even more so. But the more the layers get peeled back on his past, the more I found myself connecting more and more.

You’re fearless,” he continued. “And I’ve lived in fear. You’re everything I’ve been too afraid to become, and without you, I’ll never be more than I am.”

This was deliciously dirty with just the right amount of steam to make it addictive. I do wish we got a little more fleshing out on the things from Dante’s past, but it was still satisfying. I love a man that can grovel, and Dante definitely worked for it here. This was probably my favorite Crown brother so far.

CD Reiss is a New York Times bestseller. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up she’s at the well hauling buckets.

Born in New York City, she moved to Hollywood, California to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.

She’s frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood.

If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine.

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#DGRFave & Review: Cruel Paradise by J.T. Geissinger

CRUEL PARADISE
Series:
Beautifully Cruel #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense
Author: J.T. Geissinger
Release Date: October 1, 2020

Anti-hero (noun):
1) A powerful and charismatic man lacking moral character
2) A magnificent bastard
3) Killian Black

You don’t know me.
You think you do, but you don’t.
The only thing you know is my name, and even that’s a lie.

I’m king of Boston, lord of criminals, ruler of an underworld empire. Or am I?

Only one thing’s for sure: I operate alone.

Until I cross paths with a brazen little thief who sets my whole kingdom on fire.

Just as two wrongs don’t make a right, two villains don’t belong together. Especially since she’s the daughter of my most deadly enemy.

Taking her would start a war.
Keeping her would be suicide.
Making her mine would break every code of honor and defy all common sense.

Then again, where’s the fun in following the rules?

AMAZON 

Start the series of standalones BEAUTIFULLY CRUEL with here!

AMAZON

I climb into the car. The driver shuts the door behind me. In a moment, we pull away.All heat and coiled tension, Liam simmers in the seat beside me.

After we’ve gone three blocks, he says, “How long are you going to make me wait until you look at me?”

“I’m working on regulating my breathing so I don’t pass out. Maybe ten minutes?”

His chuckle is low and sensual, raising my blood pressure by at least two hundred points.

“You’re tougher than that. I’ll give you ten seconds.”

When the seconds have ticked by, I turn my head and glance at him warily from the corner of my eye.

He stares at me with such blistering intensity that for a moment, I can’t breathe.

His voice husky, he says, “Hullo again.”

Holy mother of god, he’s handsome. How can someone so evil be so hot?

My exhalation comes out in a burst. It’s accompanied by a shudder. Then I clear my throat and pretend I’m a mentally functioning adult. “Hi.”

He lets his gaze drift over me, head to toe, taking in every aspect of my clothing, posture, and expression.

“You still don’t trust me.”

I make a sound that’s supposed to be a laugh, but it sounds more like a small animal being strangled. “Trust? I’m sorry, did you just say trust?”

“I did.”

He’s serious. I stare at him in astonishment. “Of course I don’t trust you! You’re…you!”

The driver pipes in from the front seat. “That’s hardly fair, lass. You’ve only just met.”

Through gritted teeth, Liam says, “Declan.”

“Right. Sorry.” Falling silent, he turns his attention back to the road.

Liam smiles reassuringly at me. “It’s so hard to find good help these days.”

I look back and forth between them, gobsmacked by the whole situation. I could be hallucinating. Maybe that hipster bartender put something into my drink.

I’m still pondering that when Liam leans over and settles his huge, hot hand around my throat.

I grip his thick wrist in both hands, gasping and shrinking back into the seat.

Looking into my eyes, he murmurs, “I’m not going to hurt you.”

My voice comes out high and panicked. “This is a shitty way of proving that.”

“I’m not trying to choke you, lass.”

It’s true, the pressure of his hand on my throat is gentle, but still. “Then what the hell are you doing?”

He slides his thumb back and forth over the throbbing vein in my neck. “Feeling your pulse.”

Heart hammering, I stare at him. “Why?”

“Because I want to see how fast it gets when I kiss you.”

I freeze. “Don’t you dare.”

He quirks one dark brow. “Why not?”

“I don’t want you to.”

He leans closer, his eyes burning into mine, his body heat and the warm scent of his skin surrounding me. He growls, “If you were telling the truth, little thief, I’d honor that request.”

I blurt, “I’m not ready for that!”

Instantly, he stills. His dark gaze searches my face. Then, slowly, his full lips lift into a smile. “Then I suppose I’ll have to wait until you are.”

He stares hungrily at my mouth for a moment before releasing me.

I remain where he left me, frozen and wide-eyed, slumped against the door, staring at him and trying to convince myself of several important facts.

One, that I should be afraid. Because, two, that there’s at least a fifty-fifty chance he’s going to snap my neck. And three, that I really didn’t want him to kiss me.

Especially that I didn’t want him to kiss me. Because what would it say about my sanity if I did?

Adjusting his tie and looking straight forward, he says, “Don’t overthink it. But thank you for being honest. If this is going to work, we have to be honest with each other.”

My laugh is weak and disbelieving. “This? There is no ‘this!’”

He turns his head and sears me with his gaze. “Aye, lass,” he says, his voice thick. “There is.”

Do you always talk like you ate a dictionary for breakfast?” He puts his mouth close to my ear and lowers his voice. “No. Sometimes I talk like I fuck: dirty.”

You all don’t even understand the level of addiction that I have for Geissinger’s alpha males. The woman has created not only some of my most favorite and memorable heroes, but she can write a sharp witted and kickass heroine like no one else. I thought I died for her Wicked Games series, but that was nothing compared to her Beautifully Cruel series.

Now if you’re like me and have also read the Dangerous Beauty trilogy then you definitely remember Killian Black as one of the most dynamic secondary characters and have been slowly dying for him to get his own book. And if you haven’t read that trilogy, it’s an absolute must read.

Having said that, I do not recommend reading Cruel Paradise without having first read Beautifully Cruel. There are too many details and slight nuances that would be lost on you if you don’t read that first. And besides, that book was another HUGE 5 stars for me, so it’s worth the read for that alone.

There are some things I don’t know about you.”
I say tartly, “Like what? Which utensil I’d most like to gouge out your eyes with?”
He stares straight into my eyes. “Like how you sound when you come.”

Nothing can prepare you for the full force of Killian Black as the leading character. NOTHING. The man is potent with a capital P. And if you’re not reading the double entendre there, then you clearly don’t know me *evil grin*. But enough about me, let’s talk about this book. Because this book? This book was EVERYTHING. It was worth every agonizing minute, hour, and month of waiting because Killian Black is jumping straight to my number one.

If you’re a fan of sassy and sharp witted heroines, Juliette is going to be a favorite too. The woman is tough as nails and is full of sharp barbs and witty zingers. The banter between these two was some of the best I’ve read in a while. Killian is single focused on having her and she’s intent on resisting. The chemistry is utterly incendiary.

Cruel Paradise was a slow burn full of heat, suspense, and so much chemistry I thought my kindle would set on fire.

If it meant I could have you for good, I’d light my whole life on fire and walk away from the ashes.”

Killian is the head of the Irish mafia, but he’s not at all what he seems. And if you’ve read the first book, then you already know that. You know this man has secrets that run deep and a past that’s riddled in pain and shadows. Juliette is a bit of a female robin hood. She and her merry band of sassy girlfriends steel from the rich and morally corrupt and give to the poor. But when they steel from Killian, he’s not about to let it go. And when he sees who his little thief is, he knows he has to have her and pursues her with a singleminded intent to wear her down.

This book was completely unputdownable. The chemistry, the utter dominance that oozes from Killian was addictive as all get out. I couldn’t get enough of the man. Juliette definitely puts up a fight in her feelings and at times it almost grated on me, but I simply couldn’t care less because I was so riveted and invested in their story. I lived for these characters. I died for their romance. I couldn’t get enough of it. And I swear on all things holy if JT Geissinger doesn’t prolong this series by giving Fin, Max, and Diego a book, I will die. DIE I tell you. And I don’t even care if I’m being dramatic. I need it.

And as for this book? Cruel Paradise is a must read if you love a protective and possessive uber alpha and a sassy heroine that loves to give him hell! Read it. Thank me later.

J.T. Geissinger is a #1 internationally bestselling author of emotionally charged romance and women’s fiction. Ranging from funny, feisty rom coms to intense, edgy suspense, her books have sold millions of copies and been translated into several languages, including German, Hebrew, French, Czech, and Japanese. The film & TV rights to her Night Prowler series have been optioned by the BAFTA-winning studio that created VFX for movies such as Avatar, X-Men, and The Avengers.

She is a three-time finalist in both contemporary and paranormal romance for the RITA® Award, the highest distinction in romance fiction from the Romance Writers of America®. She is also a recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book and the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy.

She’s a Southern California native currently living in Nevada with her husband and rescue kitty, Zoe.

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Review: Rifts & Refrains by Devney Perry

RIFTS & REFRAINS Genre: Contemporary Romance Series: Hush Note #2 Author: Devney Perry Release Date: September 29, 2020

From the moment Quinn Montgomery sat behind her first snare and cymbal set, she was destined for fame and glory. As Hush Note’s infamous female drummer, she sets the rhythm for the band’s chart-toppings hits. When people tap their feet to their music, it’s to her pulse. Quinn is content to live in a world away from her family and the cage of her youth. Her only regret is leaving Graham Hayes behind without a goodbye. No matter how many sold-out stadiums she plays, no matter how many crowds sing her songs, his voice haunts her when the music stops. When a family tragedy forces her to return home to Montana, she plans to leave the second she’s paid her respects. But seeing Graham again turns her life upside down. As a boy, he wasn’t able to make her stay. As a man, he might be her future. If they can mend their rifts and find solace in the refrains.

 AMAZON 

You were supposed to let go when your first love ended. You were supposed to look at the past and smile at the memory. You weren’t supposed to hold it so close that it wound into your very existence, making every moment impossible to forget.
I’m a sucker for a second chance romance, and no one delivers on those feels quite like Devney Perry. A refreshingly different take on the rockstar second chance, Quinn and Graham’s story stole my heart. Unlike the typical rockstar books, we get a female rockstar that walked away from her love this time around. But Quinn didn’t walk away. Her path was riddled with plenty of pain. Growing up a preacher’s daughter was never easy for Quinn. Not when her dreams were bigger than the small town she lived in and not when her parent’s stifling expectations boxed her in. She ran to pursue her dreams but it cost her her family and the boy she loved. Now a famous rockstar, she’s forced back home for the funeral of her beloved Nan and the only family that kept in touch with her while she was away. Her only connection and person who always believed in her now gone, she’s forced to deal with the resentment and anger left behind. Facing her family may be hard, but facing her childhood sweetheart and his anger is almost impossible. Graham never forgave Quinn for leaving and he never moved past not being enough for her to stay. But the longer they’re forced together by the wishes of her nan in her will, the more they’re forced to realize things. Graham begins to see beyond his own anger. The connection between them is just as potent, even after all of these years. Neither Quinn nor Graham ever got over the other. But there’s plenty that was left unsaid. This book was a one two punch straight to the feels. I spent the entire time reading going from tearing up, to goofy smile, to tearing up again. There was so much depth and emotion that’s packed into this story, I never wanted it to end. I loved the small town setting but I loved Quinn and Graham even more. Quinn and Nix’s connection was so incredible too. I love these two friends. The way Nix is so messed up but is always there for her just melted my heart. I can’t wait for his book next. As for this one, if you love an emotional and steamy second chance romance, you need this book in your life!
Devney is a USA Today bestselling author who lives in Washington with her husband and two sons. 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 family. 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.

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Review: Out Of Love by Jewel E. Ann

OUT OF LOVE
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Jewel E. Ann
Release Date: September 27, 2020

Conspiracies. Corruption. Serial killers.

You name it–I’m fascinated by it. My mom always blamed my overly curious and highly suspicious mind on my dad.

My incredibly overbearing dad.

Mr. No One Is Good Enough For My Daughter has been terrifying my dates since I turned fifteen.

College is my chance to be free from his control and date any guy I want.

I’m absolutely certain he would hate Slade Wylder–almost as certain as I am that I do too.

Since when have I shied away from trouble?

Slade fascinates me. He lives in a house I’m certain is haunted. His dog is trained as well as any guard I’ve ever seen. Rumor on campus is that he deals drugs. It would explain a lot.

But it doesn’t explain why he saves me from my darkest moment.

It doesn’t explain why I can’t stop thinking about him.

And the explanation I finally discover is far more dangerous than any rumor.

 AMAZON 

After their kissy-huggy greeting ended, they walked toward the house with Jericho in tow. I waited for him to glance back at me. He saw me. There was no way he passed me a few seconds earlier on the street and didn’t see me. Yet, he made no attempt to acknowledge me.Until …

My boy Jerry stopped abruptly and turned like he caught whiff of my scent. All the warm fuzzies filled my chest. A dog gave me more feels than any man had given me in a long time. Maybe ever.

Jericho liked me. Hell, maybe he loved me.

He protected me.

He smiled when he saw me—tongue out, tail in a low wag. I continued my way up the sidewalk, feigning surprise when he trotted toward me in spite of Slade barking his own command.

“Hey, Jerry.” I squatted down to give him double the love Miss Sophisticated gave him … and I had a treat in my pocket because part of me anticipated—hoped for—a chance encounter. “Oh, buddy … I love you too.” I closed my eyes and turned my face side to side while he showered me with kisses.

Slade cleared his throat.

I opened my eyes—noticing his friend must have gone inside. “Sorry.” I stood, sliding a treat into Jericho’s mouth along the way. “I know it’s hard for you to know he likes me more.” On a shrug, I bit my lips together to keep my shit-eating grin under control.

“Inside,” he said to Jericho while looking at me.

Jericho turned and headed to the back door.

“If you have a job to do … Jerry can hang with me tonight. I’m alone this evening.”

“Jericho. And he doesn’t need a babysitter.”

“Maybe I do.”

His brow tensed a fraction, contemplation settling into a slight frown for a few seconds, before he whistled and Jericho came running. “Send him home when your friends get back.”

Why was the only word that sat on the tip of my idle tongue? Why protect me?

“What are you going to do?” Okay, apparently “why” wasn’t the only word on the tip of my tongue after all. Six other words were in line first.

“Does it matter?”

Letting my gaze settle over his shoulder to the firehouse and images of Miss Sophisticated waiting for him, I lifted a single shoulder. “No. Just curious. Is she your girlfriend?”

“Does it matter?”

“I hate you.” I rolled my eyes. “Worst communication skills ever.”

“Good. Hate me. I prefer it.”

I recoiled. I didn’t really hate anyone. It wasn’t my personality to be hateful, vengeful, or hold grudges. Why did Slade Wylder want me to hate him? It was a joke. I hated his lack of sharing information.

“If you’re selling her some shit that will ruin her life, may I suggest you rethink that? Not cool, Wylder.”

“Noted.”

Tipping my chin up, I gave him several tiny nods. “Okay then. I’ll take Jerry to my house and spoil him. Maybe he comes back to you … maybe he doesn’t.”

Slade let his gaze slide down my body, a slow and easy trip. He didn’t do that when we met. Somewhere along the way, he decided it was okay. I wasn’t sure what reaction he desired from me.

Maybe nothing.

Maybe he did it out of pure selfish desire.

“I’m only allowing this because I love Jerry.”

Curious eyes met mine, slightly squinted.

I smirked. “Stripping me with those eyes of yours.”

Moments …

I collected moments in my mind, my heart, my soul, like Aubrey collected rare coins—my mom dying, my dad spending a few years thoroughly drunk. Mostly bad moments—permanent scars.

That moment I tucked into my memory forever as one of the first truly great moments.

Wylder …

The corners of his mouth quirked into pure sin. If Satan was hot as fuck, his name would have been Slade Wylder, and I would have been in a whole helluva lot of trouble.

Either you die, or you’re born again. But you’re never the same.”

Actual footage of me while reading this book:
Holy mother of all plot twists, what did I just read?!

So first of all, confession time. I’m a little nervous here because I know I’m going to get side eyes from all of you judgy jundgersons, but it is what it is. It’s been years since I’ve read a Jewel. E. Ann book. *hides* I’ll give you a minute to contain your shock. I know. I know. I don’t even know why myself. But just know that I’m already kicking my own ass for this sin. Because that’s what it was if this is the kind of books I’ve been missing out on.

Now I did go back and rectify it by reading the Jack and Jill series. Which is the world this book is set in. But that’s the only thing I’ll tell you about the connection. You’ll have to read the rest for yourself. Trust me on this.

Livy is one of the most vivacious, sexually positive heroines I’ve had the pleasure to read recently. This is a woman that’s not afraid to want what she wants and to go after it. And the second the grumpy and mysterious Slade and his dog appear in her orbit, nothing will ever be the same. Sade hates her at first sigh. He doesn’t exactly hide his hatred either. He barely spars her a glance and calls the cops on her on one occasion. This was enemies to lovers on a whole other level, people.

Slade Wylder reminded me of the Grim Reaper—minus the scythe—cloaked in black, right down to his car and its windows. Eyes so dark they appeared hollow from a distance.

But Liv is nothing if not determined, and she’s determined to wear the man down. What begins to unravel is one jaw dropping page after another. There’s plenty of secrets buried and when they begin to surface, you won’t have time to pick your jaw off of the floor before another one comes at you.

Live was this beautiful free spirit that loved and loved hard. Her over protective father did nothing to deter her from her boy chasing ways. But Slade is definitely not a boy and he’s certainly not at all what he seems.

I don’t even know what else to tell you about this book aside from the fact that I couldn’t put it down. The angst, the secrets, the suspense. All of it masterfully crafted and interwoven between one unforgettable romance that should have never happened but did. I’m desperately hoping that we’ll be getting more books set in this world because there’s one thing that is left hanging that I need a resolution for. Not even need. DESPERATE for.

Jewel is a Wall Street Journal & USA Today best selling author a with a quirky sense of humor. When she’s not saving the planet one tree at a time, you can find her role modeling questionable behavior to her three boys, binge-watching Netflix with her husband, and writing mind-bending romance.

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Review: Lies & Lullabies by Sarina Bowen

LIES & LULLABIES
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hush Note #1
Author: Sarina Bowen
Release Date: September 22, 2020

Summer nights and star-crossed lovers! From USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.

Once upon a time, he gave me a summer of friendship, followed by one perfect night. We shared a lot during our short time together. But he skipped a few crucial details.

I didn’t know he was a rock star.

I didn’t know his real name.

Neither of us knew I’d get pregnant.

And I sure never expected to see him again.

Five years later, his tour bus pulls up in Nest Lake, Maine.

My little world is about to be shattered by loud music and the pounding of my own foolish heart.

 AMAZON 

He’d been a charming diversion with enormous consequences.

I am a sucker for a second chance romance. I live for it. The angst. The emotion. All of the feels. Now it’s been a hot minute since I’ve read a Sarina Bowen book and I was so excited to get my hands on this one. This trope is my book crack so I was so here for it.

Kira and Jonas spent one unforgettable summer together. They were both in a place where they were looking for a connection and were a little lost. They gave each other something that changed them both irrevocably. Kira had no idea at the time they met that Jonas was a famous rockstar. Jonas fell hard for Kira but knew he couldn’t give her what she needed, so he left.

Five years later, their paths cross again. This time Jonas knows exactly what he wants, and he needs a second chance with the woman he never got over. What he doesn’t expect, is the secret that Kira has kept from him all these years in the form of an adorably rambunctious daughter.

Now I do love me some surprise baby trope as well. But it also has to have one thing for me to connect; a good reason for the baby to be a secret. And sadly, I didn’t feel that Kira had one. This ultimately began to grate on me, because I couldn’t help but judge her for it.

Jonas was everything. The man was swoon personified. I loved the way he manned up and was there for his girls. I loved the way he handled the reveal. And really, I just loved him.

The pacing was a bit off, and I did find myself growing bored. The flashbacks to their summer five years ago also felt lacking. I wanted a little more meat here. I really wish it was fleshed out further. Don’t get me wrong. While I didn’t love this story, I still enjoyed it. It may have been a little slow for my tastes, but it still hit the spot. The other band members really hooked me, but my favorite part of the book was Kira’s brother. The man was just GAH. I hope he gets a book of his own because I loved being in his head for the few short pages.

Review: Falling Into You by A.L. Jackson

FALLING INTO YOU
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Falling Stars #3
Author: A.L. Jackson
Release Date: September 21, 2020

Richard Ramsey is the guitarist for the world’s hottest new band.
Gifted. Charismatic. Hot as sin.
Lend your ear, and he’ll steal your heart.
Nah, you can’t have his considering he left it in his hometown years ago.

He knows better than going back. But it’s his younger sister’s wedding, and there’s no way he can say no to that.

He should have known she would be there, invading his senses and making him thirst and hunger for what he wants most.

Violet Marin hates him for what he’s done. He left her emptyhanded with their wreckage strewn all around. She’s picked up the pieces and is living her life the best way that she can.

But their connection is fierce.
Their attraction unending.
It only takes one glance for their worlds to collide.
One touch to set them on fire.

But she doesn’t know the dark secrets he keeps. If he had understood the true price of fame, he would have known he’d sold his soul and this debt is something he cannot repay.

Letting her go is impossible, but will loving her cost it all?

A sensuous, captivating contemporary stand-alone romance in the Falling Stars series from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author, A.L. Jackson . . .

 AMAZON 

Why are you here?”
“Because I don’t know how to be where you are not”

GOD. Rip my heart right out of my chest why don’t ya, AL Jackson. I’ve been in my feels for days over this and I still can’t stop.

Now if you’ve read literally any book by this author, then you already know she has the ability to reach into the depths of your soul and wring havoc on all your emotions. But this book? This book was simply on a whole other level. Not only for the very relevant and poignant subject it covers but all of the feels of a second chance romance.

You are every song I have ever written…
You are every lyric. Every riff. Every strum. Every echo. You are the song of my heart.”

Violet was once Richard Ramsey’s entire world, until his world got tilted on its axis. Richard harbors plenty of dark secrets and demons that plague his every waking moment. Demons of what could have been and the reality of what truly was. He’s an immensely complex yet oh so tortured character that I simply couldn’t get enough of. This is a man with so many layers, and each time you peel back one, you only realize you’re still not even close to the true core of him.

Now a rock star, circumstance brings him back to Violet but their reunion is not a sweet one. It’s turbulent and full of dark secrets that can break them both. Neither got over the other, but while Richard says he walked away for Violet’s own good, neither her or the reader knows that that reason is. But when it does come to the light? Holy plot twist!

This was an incredibly poignant and emotional book. I have so much respect for the author for not only touching such a relevant and sensitive subject matter, but also not just glossing over it. She does it justice. She brings light to it and she makes you feel it. And boy do you feel it. It’s one emotional rollercoaster of a book full of twists, turmoil and heartbreak.

My only quibble is the overly flowery prose. As much as I adore Jackson’s talent and emotional romance, the prose was just too much for me here. I’m not a reader that gravitates towards overly lyrical prose, and this book has it in spades. Now this is entirely a personal bias, and the book is beautifully written. It just so happens that the prose is not my particular cuppa.

That aside, this was an incredibly poignant and unforgettable second chance romance.

Review: Gold Mine by Skye Warren

GOLD MINE
Genre: Dark Romance
Series: The Diamond Trilogy #2
Author: Skye Warren
Release Date: September 15, 2020

Holly Frank is in trouble. The deadly kind.

She and her sister must evade the authorities and the criminals who want them dead. Including Elijah North. The man who took her heart in Paris, her body in a prison cell, and her trust without remorse.

He’s determined to keep her safe. Even if that means losing her forever.

Adam Bisset has his own dark agenda.

She’s caught between the two men, torn apart with every sensual push and pull. Each touch is a lie, each whispered tenderness a trap—but she can’t resist them.

Their lies are tearing her apart. Her enemies are catching up with her. And when she’s taken captive again, she finds out secrets to unravel it all.

AMAZON | iBOOKS | NOOK | KOBO

You can pretend you’re disgusted with me when I make you come so hard you see God.

How many times have you been able to say that book two in a trilogy was even better than book one? Because I can count how many times I’ve felt this on one finger. Yes, I said it. Because it never happens for me. Usually book one hooks me, and then book two is slow paced filler. Not this time. Gold Mine was EPIC. It was a deliciously erotic, heart-pounding thrill ride of one jaw dropping plot twist after another. And this girl gobbled it right up!

…I take what I want. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that, Holly.”
“Have you heard of dating?”
He gives me a small, private smile. “This is better. I don’t want to ask you out. I don’t want to give you the illusion that you can say no, Holly. You’re mine.”

I thought I loved Elijah in Diamond in the Rough, but I was simply not prepared for the full dose of everything that is him in this one. Oh. My. GAWD. This man. He’s so incredibly complex but with a vein of darkness that pulses through him. And this time we finally get a peek beneath that mysterious curtain. The layers are peeled back and it made me fall even harder for him.

There’s also a delicious underlay of taboo here with a splash of dub con that I was drooling over. Elijah is a man that likes it hard and dirty and did I say OMG? Because OMG.

Holly is just as fierce as she was in the first book. She’s fiercely protective of her sister and she’s slowly coming to the realization that there’s something between her and Elijah when he finally catches her again. That something is a little dark, a little depraved, and a lot delicious. It’s unconventional and they’re both definitely struggling trying to understand it. Elijah’s cravings may run on the dark and depraved side, but Holly craves everything that he has to give.

There’s a lot more that gets revealed about the North brothers, so of course I’m already salivating for Josh’s book. But then the jaw dropping revelations for Adam happen and I’m absolutely desperate for his book too.

This installment was a non-stop trill ride that I couldn’t set down for even a minute. I devoured this book in one sitting and now I’m going through withdrawals until my next fix.

Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dangerous romance such as the Endgame trilogy. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.

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