Review: Queen of Lies by Whitney G.

QUEEN OF LIES
Series: Empire of Lies #2
Genre: Dark, Contemporary Romance
Author: Whitney
Release Date: February 17, 2020

Book 2 in the Empire of Lies trilogy.

 

The twists and turns in Michael & Meredith’s story continue…

The woman I fell in love with is a walking contradiction…

She’s sexy as hell, yet infuriating.

Hopelessly in love with me, but carefully plotting to get the hell away.

She honestly thinks that I’m the ‘king of lies’?

Well, she f-cking fooled you…

 

She’s the queen.

AMAZON 

She was a mere chapter in my book and this is our final page. No happily ever after included.

I’ll keep this short and sweet. I devoured the first book. I was so sucked into this story, it’s not even funny. It had the delicious vibes of the Whitney G books I fell in love with in Reasonable Doubt: Full Series.

I devoured this too, but it was also missing something. Ultimately, with the short length of these books, I was hoping that each installment would offer more depth. But that wasn’t quite the case here. The story continues to move forward, but it’s too quick paced. I struggled with buying into the connection between Michael and Meredith. There’s simply not enough meat here for me to get fully invested. The bones are there. But it’s missing quite a bit of backstory. I’m hoping the final installment will bring that, but I just couldn’t help but feel this one merely grazed the surface of what it could have been

Review: Twisted Hearts by Cora Reilly

TWISTED HEARTS
Series: The Camorra Chronicles #5
Genre: Dark Romance, Mafia
Author: Cora Reilly
Release Date: January 7, 2020

Savio Falcone has a few non-negotiable rules when it comes to girls.
They need to be hot as f*ck.
Spread their legs without much prompting.
And leave as soon as the fun is over. Preferably minus any bitching or tears.
With his easy-going bad boy attitude, a last name that rules over Las Vegas and a body to die for, girls have always been at Savio’s disposal.
Unfortunately, the hottest girl in Vegas comes with a price Savio isn’t willing to pay. For Savio to get Gemma he’d need to seal the deal and put a ring on her finger. Settling down is out of the question, no matter how hot a piece of ass waits at the altar.
Gemma Bazzoli has had a crush on Savio from the first moment she came face to face with his arrogant smile, but for him she was always his best friend’s annoying little sister—until her hard-earned curves catch even his attention.
But Savio likes it easy, and Gemma is anything but. When she’s promised to another man, Gemma resigns herself to the fact that the man she’s wanted all her life, doesn’t want her badly enough.
Savio has to decide how much work he’s willing to invest, because bending the rules in his usual style might not be enough to get the girl that haunts his wet dreams.
– Can be read as a standalone-

AMAZON

Gemma was the hottest girl in the city and didn’t even realize it. She was the girl I wanted most and couldn’t have.

Ever finish a book and you struggled to feel any which way about it? This was that book for me. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. It was something of that middle of the road story that I don’t enjoyed reading, but also would never be something I’d come back to either. Does that even make sense? I hope it does, because there’s no better way for me to describe how I felt about Twisted Hearts.

I love mafia romance. I love unconventional love stories with imperfect characters that make their fair share of mistakes. And it just doesn’t get more imperfect than womanizing Savio. Savio and Gemma have known each other since they were kids. Savio was Gemma’s older brother’s friend and a boy that she crushed had on. Her crush was so obvious and at times desperate when she was a teen, that it was almost uncomfortable to read at times, admittedly. Luckily, she doesn’t carry that into adulthood either. Gemma lives in a highly traditional world of old-world mafia family where the women are kept innocent and naive and marriages are a contract and not of love. That doesn’t stop her from hoping beyond hope that Savio will ask for her, since his family is one of the most powerful business alliances her father can make. But Savio is much too concerned with sowing his wild oats with every single available woman out there to even think of marriage. That is, until Gemma is promised to another.

Now I loved the fact that the author stayed true to her character with Savio and didn’t have him turning a complete 180 the second he decides he wants Gemma. He’s not a perfect character and I loved that about him. What didn’t gel for me was the lack of everything else outside of the back and forth he and Gemma go through. The world, the suspense, the story all kind of fell sideways and got lost in the frustrating back and forth of I want you but I can’t have you and I’ll have you but won’t give you all of me. It started off so strong and then all just sort of fizzled for me. I was skimming parts and growing more bored with each page. And while Gemma did grow a backbone in her adulthood, I did also found myself wishing that she made Savio work for it in a different way than she did. Although, I do respect the hell out of her for the way she did handle their relationship.

Ultimately, the romance just didn’t grab me. I didn’t fully buy into it and I just didn’t love Gemma and Savio. They were entertaining, sure, but just not memorable characters for me. Did I enjoy the book? Sure. Most definitely. Was I glued to the pages reading it? Not really. A fun read, but ultimately not an entirely memorable one. But hey, different strokes for different folks right? Give it a read and judge for yourself.

Review: Wait for Me by Tia Louise

WAIT FOR ME
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Tia Louise
Release Date: December 17, 2019

Dear Taron,
I should have told you this a long time ago…

Dear Taron,
Is there a time-limit on forgiveness?
If there is, I haven’t reached it…

Dear Taron,
I still love you…

A letter never sent.
Heck, I never even finished it.

Taron Rhodes was my brother’s best friend.
He was sexy as sin.
But he was more than that…
He was ponytail-pulling, ice down your shirt teasing, throw you in the lake screaming…
Strong, tanned arms and blue-green eyes over a heart-stopping, naughty grin…
Did I mention his tight end?
I gave him my first real kiss, my heart, my everything.
I said I’d wait for him…

I’m still waiting, because Taron Rhodes is still the man of my dreams,
And I have a secret that has his blue-green eyes.

Noel LaGrange stole my heart when she was only eighteen —pushing me off a flatbed and calling me a city slicker.
Her brother Sawyer would kick my ass if he knew how many times we made out that summer, how close we got.

Everything changed when Sawyer and I joined the military.
We were honorably discharged, but I didn’t go to her.
Instead, I went back to the city… where no amount of money, no amount of pills can heal this wound.
Only her whiskey eyes and dark hair, her slim arms and her sweet scent, give me hope.
I broke her heart just as surely as I broke mine, but I’m going back to make it right.
If she’s still waiting…

(WAIT FOR ME is a STAND-ALONE small-town, second-chance romance with a guaranteed HEA. No cheating. No cliffhangers.)

AMAZON

Heaven is finding the thing you can’t live without and being able to hold it. Hell is knowing you’ll have to let it go.

I love an emotional second chance romance, and when I read the blurb to this book, I was immediately hooked. Tia knows how to pack one heck of an emotional punch in her writing, so I knew I was in for plenty of feels.

Wait For Me is told in two halves; the first half telling the sweet and steamy story of Taron and Noel meeting and falling in love. Taron is best friends with Noel’s older brother and finds himself in their small town in the short interim before he takes off for the Marines. Noel is eighteen years old but really has an old soul to her. It doesn’t take long for these two to fall head over heels with Noel promising to wait for Taron. But unfortunately fate has other plans for them, and as beautifully as things first came together for them, they fall apart in a devastating and fiery crash.

As much as I loved the premise of the story and both Taron and Noel, I found myself wishing parts of both the first and second half were further fleshed out. I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting a very surface level of what this story could have been. I loved the first half of this book, but also wished for Taron’s characterization to take me a little deeper. Yes, they’re both young, and I can totally buy into their quick connection because of it. But I also wanted more. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly, but something felt missing.

The second half is ultimately where it really fell short for me, though. The story moved quickly and I wanted parts to be more fleshed out; Taron’s issues being the epicenter of this. I felt like this was really just grazed over and couldn’t help but wish we got a deeper dive into what he went through. The second half of the story ultimately felt rushed and too quick paced. I wished it were flipped and we got to spend more time with them in the present rather than their past. This was such an emotional and touching part of their story, that I really wanted more from it. Ultimately, I still really enjoyed this story that still delivered on the emotional punch I was hoping for. There was plenty of steam and feels to make it for a page turning read.

Review: Pretty Hostage by Julia Sykes

PRETTY HOSTAGE
Series:
Captive #3
Genre: Dark Romance
Author: Julia Sykes
Release Date: November 12, 2019

A Standalone Dark Romance
“She’s yours now.”

With those three words, my boss gives me a gift: permission to kidnap and keep the woman I’ve wanted for years.

Ever since we were teenagers, I’ve denied my desire for Sofia. Despite her father’s involvement in running our cocaine empire, Caesar Hernández has carefully sheltered her from the brutal realities of our world. She’s always been far too innocent and pure for me to drag her out of her charmed life and into my depravities.

But Caesar chose to betray my ruthless boss, Adrián Rodríguez. He’ll have to prove his loyalty once again if he doesn’t want any harm to come to his beloved daughter. I have her now, and he’s well aware of my sadistic proclivities.

I tried to save her from this, but I can’t fight my savage nature when Sofia is in my home and under my command. She’ll learn to obey me unquestioningly if she wants to earn any of her freedoms back. Sofia’s going to be my good girl, fulfilling all the dark fantasies I’ve suppressed for years.

I’ll do whatever it takes to keep my pretty hostage. If anyone tries to steal her from me, I’ll start a war to protect my most precious possession.

Sofia is mine, and I’ll never let her go.

AMAZON

By the time I was finished with her, she would beg to be mine.

I’ve been eyeing this series for a while. I’ve loved some of the older Julia Sykes books I’ve read, so I let my one-clicker loose on this series and in my usual back-asswards ways, started with book 3 firs. I’m sure my ‘must read everything in order’ book friends are having heart palpitations right now. But you know what?
Sadly, this one didn’t quite hit the spot as nicely as I was hoping. The blurb did all sorts of things for me. But when I started reading? Mostly a whole lot of meh feelings were floating up all around.

This felt like the non-darkiest dark romance I’ve read. Yes, I know darkiest isn’t a word, but just go with me here. The set up is delicious. Mateo is a ruthless enforcer for his even more ruthless crime boss. He’s been silently lusting after his boss’s business associate’s (Caesar) innocent daughter for years. And when that business associate makes the grave error of crossing Adrián and sets the wheels in motion for his woman to be taken by a rival, it’s an eye for an eye. Mateo has orders to kidnap and hold Caesar’s daughter, Sofia.

Sofia is beyond innocent and naive. In full disclosure, this tends to be my kryptonite in books. I typically can’t with the sweet and innocent daughters of ruthless crime lords that are completely blind to their father’s doings. She also has no idea that her beloved father has secretly promised her hand to a cartel boss in order to firm an alliance. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for her, Mateo has no intention of letting this happen.

Honestly, the dynamic of their relationship played a big hand in my meh feelings towards this romance. Mateo is much older and treats Sofia more like a disobedient toddler at times than a woman he lusts after. Yes, I get that he wants to protect her, but it’s just weird. Or at least it was to me. Here you have this ruthless badass that surpasses his baser urges and treats a woman he wants with kid gloves. I suppose it could have been romantic, but it did nothing for me.

I would fuck Sofia soon, but not before breakfast on her first day as my hostage.

Dude.
Seriously?

I still binge read this in one sitting, so it wasn’t all bad. It just didn’t hit the spot for me as much as I’d hoped it would after reading that blurb. Luckily it did the trick in hooking me on the series (I already read and loved the second book and salivating for the 4th).

Review: Half Truths by Claire Contreras 

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a game I’m willing to play.

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

AMAZON 


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

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

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

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

Review: Butterfly In The Frost by Sylvia Day

BUTTERFLY IN FROST
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Sylvia Day
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Once, I would never have imagined myself here. But I’m settled now. In a place I love, in a home I renovated, spending time with new friends I adore, and working a job that fulfills me. I am reconciling the past and laying the groundwork for the future.

Then Garrett Frost moves in next door.

He’s obstinate and too bold, a raging force of nature that disrupts the careful order of my life. I recognize the ghosts that haunt him, the torment driving him. Garrett would be risky in any form, but wounded, he’s far more dangerous. I fear I’m too fragile for the storm raging inside him, too delicate to withstand the pain that buffets him. But he’s too determined…and too tempting.

And sometimes hope soars above even the iciest desolation.

 

We don’t talk about next week. We exist only in the now and tomorrow, right here.


I’ve missed Sylvia Day’s writing immensely. So when I saw she has a book coming out, I jumped on it quicker than you can blink. I barely spared the blurb a glimpse, if I’m being perfectly honest here.

I was immediately enraptured in Day’s words and the quick paced story line. This is tied in the Crossfire world, and you get come cameos of Eva here. I don’t remember much of the series beyond the first book, and I didn’t read 3-5, so I can’t say how much of this heroine is introduced in those books. I will say, with the way the heroine and some of the secondary characters are introduced and written, it felt like we should already know who they are.

Unfortunately, right around the 40% mark I began to find myself disengaging more and more. The character development felt lacking. I struggled to truly connect to the heroine. There were also just one too many plot holes. And then the plot twist hits you right over the head I was at a complete loss. Granted, the plot twist is what saved the story for me. I was fairly bored right up until that point and the twist revived it for me. But, and this is a big BUT, it simply wasn’t fleshed out enough to truly pack the punch it was meant to.

This should have been a full length novel. As it was, with the page count, there just wasn’t enough to truly give that amazing twist justice. The ending was too sudden and completely glossed over. This was a story meant for a full length novel. As a novella, it felt lackluster and unfinished.

Review: Have Mercy by N.E. Henderson

HAVE MERCY
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Dark
Author: N.E. Henderson
Release Date: May 2, 2019

I never saw it coming.

It’s hard to get over that kind of betrayal. It leaves a mark on the heart. A slow bleed that never goes away. She was my girl. We were supposed to be partners. She was going to be the mother of my children down the road. The only girl to warm my bed. She was my forever girl.

Until she ran away.

I thought she felt the same. But if she did she wouldn’t have ditched me like I didn’t matter. All the plans we made meant nothing to her. She disappeared without so much as a goodbye. Those cuts are the deepest. A gaping hole that can’t be sealed. I could’ve stomached anything else—a meaningless one-night stand, drifting apart, vanishing love. But abandonment is a deadly strike that can’t be forgotten. It sticks with you forever.

Three months later she showed up, expecting me to welcome her back with open arms. Excuses, lies, not even her crying eyes could make me believe the manipulative bullshit coming out of her mouth. For months I felt like I was burning alive. She shattered my heart and stole my soul.

I moved on.

Now, eighteen years later, a nightmare unfolds. Every detail makes my stomach churn. Lies come to the light. The truth is uncovered. And the people I thought I knew become strangers. The heartbreak I felt was only a scratch compared to the sliced open heart in my chest.

Winning her back seems like an impossible feat. She may never forgive me, because the thing about mercy—you have to give to receive.

***Have Mercy is a 107K word standalone, second chance love story.***

AMAZON

Eighteen years have gone by and Elise Thomas still owns me like no other woman ever has—or ever will.

This review is extremely difficult for me to write. I have sat on my rating for it for a solid week and I’m still struggling with it. Why? Because I binge read this story. I’m talking glued to the pages, completely incapable of setting it down for even a second sort of binge here, people. It was like a rockstar soap opera. No lie. If OTT drama, angst, and alphahole heroes aren’t your jam, I’d say this book won’t be for you. But this reader? I froth at the mouth for it. Don’t you judge me either. I yam what I yam.

I think that had it been for different execution on a few plot devices and elements of this book, it would have been a no brainer 5 star. As it was, there were things in this story that I really hoped would be better wrapped up then they were at the end. But I’ll get to those in a minute.

First let me start with what I loved; the set up. DELICIOUS. A second chance romance 18 years in the making. Jamie and Jenna were each other’s world as teenagers. They loved and they loved hard, until they fell apart even harder. Eighteen years later and neither of them is much closer to any sort of closure from each other. Jamie is now divorced and still as bitter as he was back when he though Jenna betrayed him. Jenna has tried to move on from Jamie, but how do you forget the love of your life? But how do you ultimately pick up the pieces when you realize that everything you thought you knew was wrong. And the person you’ve hated for years is not at all who you thought they were and that you’re ultimately responsible for breaking you apart? That’s the premise of the book.

The story unravels in alternating flashbacks. These were cleverly written to give the reader the whole story crumble by crumble, until you’re utterly desperate for the whole picture. I loved the over the top angst and drama of this book. The antagonistic sort of back and forth between Jamie and Jenna was book crack. Jamie made a terrible decision those years ago that essentially got all the dominoes to fall. A decision made by a young and immature boy that didn’t yet have his head out of his own ego long enough to dig deeper. I didn’t hate him for it, but I can see a lot of readers having an issue with it. This reader, however, did not. I loved to hate Jamie. What can I say? I live for some book drama every now and then.

Jenna struck me a great and strong willed heroine at first. I loved her spark and the added edge of what she keeps hidden below the surface with the scars of her past. This is also where the story began to lose me. I wanted Jenna to keep holding on to that edge, but I couldn’t help but feel that she began to lose most of it with Jamie. She gives in so easily to his every whim. After the betrayal that lies between them, I just couldn’t wrap my head around this, no matter how much she still loves him. I wanted her to make him work for it. Make him beg, crawl on his knees! But she does none of those things. The only thing she does do is keep him on the edge by not sharing the full capacity of the truth with him. This ultimately drove me crazy. It just seemed like an unnecessary way to drive the plot forward where there were plenty of other moving wheels in the story to do so. It dragged on for way too long. I also absolutely hate when a heroine is celibate for years while the hero is anything but when they’re not together and have no hopes of being together.  It’s unrealistic and it’s a huge pet peeve of mine so unfortunately this played a big part in my rating.

There is a very heavy element of suspense around the mystery of what happened those years ago. Though to be fair, it’s only a mystery to the reader for a short part of the book. It continues to be a mystery to Jamie for longer. I also really disliked that Jamie continually kept jumping to the wrong conclusion of Jenna no matter how much evidence he had to the contrary. I wanted this man to GROVEL, and I do mean GROVEL. And all he continues to do is jump to conclusions and think the worst of her.

I liked the inclusion of the secondary characters and the kids, however, I didn’t feel it necessary to have their POVs. While it didn’t take away from the story, it did convolute it a bit with the continuous flashbacks.

I wanted Jenna to be as strong of a heroine with Jamie as she is with every other aspect of her life, and unfortunately for me, she just wasn’t. A betrayal of that caliber needs a huge grovel, and that didn’t happen either. I wanted to 5 star this book so much. It took me out of a huge book funk and kept me glued to the pages. Unfortunately I just couldn’t look past the many issues that I also had with it.

I’m definitely a huge fan of the author and will definitely read her future books. This one may not have been perfect, but it still hit the spot, so give it a shot and see for yourself.

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: The Duke Buys A Bride by Sophie Jordan

THE DUKE BUYS A BRIDE
Series: The Rogue Files #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Sophie Jordan
Release Date: July 24, 2018

A bride wasn’t in his plans . . .

The last thing Marcus, the Duke of Autenberry, expects to see after sleeping off a night’s drunken shenanigans is a woman being auctioned in the village square. Before he can think about the ramifications, he buys her, thinking he’s winning the girl her freedom. Instead, he discovers he’s bought a wife.

A duke wasn’t in hers . . .

Alyse Bell is almost rid of the shackles that bound her in a name-only marriage, but the day her friend promised to purchase her in a wife auction, he vanishes, leaving her to face a mob of unsavory bachelors intent on owning her body and soul. But the appearance of a wicked, wealthy stranger changes her path forever.

The road to ruin . . .

Marcus doesn’t know what to do with the impertinent chit who clearly isn’t duchess material! Insisting their marriage isn’t legitimate, they leave for his estate in Scotland, hoping to devise a plan to get rid of each other. However, on a journey fraught with misadventure, their attraction grows and Marcus realizes he’ll do anything to keep this fiery woman for his own.

AMAZON

You’re a witch,” he muttered. “From the moment I saw you, I’ve been doing things entirely out of my character.”

After the way things left off with Marcus in The Scandal of It All, I was more than a little eager to get my hands on his book to see just how this man will redeem himself. While a lot of his behavior shows him to be almost a spoiled and entitled brat at times, still waters run deep, and you just know there’s something underneath the appearance that he initially gives off.

After finding out his stepmother is in love with one of his best friends, he leaves everything behind and leaves his home. Waking up after a blackout bender in a town he doesn’t remember arriving in isn’t exactly in his plans. But then again, neither is rescuing a women from being sold like cattle for marriage in the town square. He can’t resist purchasing her when he sees the look of abject horror on her face. But he never intends to truly hold up his end of the deal and be anyone’s husband; merely purchase her freedom.

Alyse Bell has been stuck in a name-only “marriage” for years after the passing of her father when she was way too young. As his last deed before his passing, he arranged her contract with the man she’s been living with in name only. She’s essentially been his care-taker and nanny. The deal has always been that he will then sell at a wife auction to be purchased by her best friend. Only her friend is nowhere to be found when she needs him the most, leaving her to the mercy of the fates.

Marcus and Alyse are certainly an odd pair. Marcus refuses to acknowledge any chemistry between them. He runs hot and cold at the best of times, though his direct setting seems to be on cold. He passes off their “contract” as her being his housekeeper and nothing more, while fighting their connection at every turn. Admittedly, as much as I was looking forward to this book, it felt a little lackluster for me. Yes, the chemistry was there, but I also found the pacing to work against it. I enjoyed Alyse’s spark and backbone, but Marcus left me feeling underwhelmed. I wanted to love him, but sadly I just didn’t. His turnaround was too little too late for me, and while still satisfying, I couldn’t help feeling like I needed more from this story to bring it to a 4 star read.

I still enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it either. It was that middle of the road sort of feeling that had me feeling both satisfied…and not. I liked that we got a bit of closure with Marcus and his stepmother at the end, though I would have loved more of that as well.

Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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