#DGRFave & Review: Credence by Penelope Douglas

CREDENCE
Genre: Romance
Author: Penelope Douglas
Release Date: January 13, 2020

From New York Times bestselling author, Penelope Douglas, comes a new standalone!

Three of them, one of her, and a remote cabin in the woods. Let the hot, winter nights ensue…

Tiernan de Haas doesn’t care about anything anymore. The only child of a film producer and his starlet wife, she’s grown up with wealth and privilege but not love or guidance. Shipped off to boarding schools from an early age, it was still impossible to escape the loneliness and carve out a life of her own. The shadow of her parents’ fame followed her everywhere.

And when they suddenly pass away, she knows she should be devastated. But has anything really changed? She’s always been alone, hasn’t she?

Jake Van der Berg, her father’s stepbrother and her only living relative, assumes guardianship of Tiernan who is still two months shy of eighteen. Sent to live with him and his two sons, Noah and Kaleb, in the mountains of Colorado, Tiernan soon learns that these men now have a say in what she chooses to care and not care about anymore.

As the three of them take her under their wing, teach her to work and survive in the remote woods far away from the rest of the world, she slowly finds her place among them.

And as a part of them.

She also realizes that lines blur and rules become easy to break when no one else is watching.

One of them has her.

The other one wants her.

But he…

He’s going to keep her.

*Credence is a full length, stand-alone romance suitable for readers 18+.

AMAZON

This is how he is. A breeze one minute, a cyclone the next.

Holy. Hell. This book. Y’all. I’m stunned speechless here. How do I even begin to review this book. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read. It was unconventional. It was riveting. It was taboo and sexy. It was downright brilliant. BRILLIANT.

I was immediately hooked on the story, though it did take me a bit to fully get into it. By the time I hit the 30% mark, I had my jaw on the floor, and I didn’t manage to pick it back up until the very last page.

It’s impossible to review this fully without giving away spoilers, and I refuse. I refuse to give you even the slightest impression of what this book has because you NEED to experience it blind. And experience it you will. I will say that if taboo and unconventional isn’t your thing, this wan’t be your cuppa. But if you want a book to take you out of your comfort zone, keep you glued to the pages, and leaves you craving more at the end, you need this in your life.

Tiernan de Haas is reeling from the death of her parents, but not in a way a child usually would. Her relationship with her parents was anything but traditional. Her famous, utterly in love with each other and blind to everything else parents were larger than life. Now that they’re gone, she’s desperate to escape the permanent lime light that her life has been. And when her father’s step brother reaches out and offers her a salvation in a cabin deep in the wilderness of Colorado, she jumps on it. But little does she know how much her life is about to change.

GAH. JUST GAH. I get goosebumps just writing this review. This book didn’t just take me out of my comfort zone, it shoved me out of it and kept a foot on my throat. This just speaks to what a brilliant author Penelope Douglas is. Because I’m pretty sure no one else could have pulled off a story like this without making it cheap. And cheap it was NOT. It was deliciously filthy, but beneath the sizzle there were layers. Layers that were deep. Layers that unraveled so beautifully that my heart pounded with every turn of the page. This may have been one of the most unique romance stories I’ve read and I loved it for this. Douglas wrote an unputdownable page turner full of heart, steam and emotion. It was beautiful, riveting, and completely unforgettable!!!

#DGRFave & Review: Angry God by LJ Shen

ANGRY GOD
Series: All Saints High #3
Genre: New Adult Romance
Author: L.J. Shen
Release Date: February 18, 2020

Vaughn Spencer.
They call him an angry god.
To me, he is nothing but a heartless prince.

His parents rule this town, its police, every citizen and boutique on Main Street.

All I own is a nice, juicy grudge against him for that time he almost killed me.

Between hooking up with a different girl every weekend, breaking hearts, noses and rules, Vaughn also finds the time to bully little ole’ me.

I fight back, tooth and nail, never expecting him to chase me across the ocean after we graduate high school.

But here he is, living with me in a dark, looming castle on the outskirts of London.

A fellow intern. A prodigal sculptor. A bloody genius.

They say this place is haunted, and it is.

Carlisle Castle hides two of our most awful secrets.

Vaughn thinks he can kill the ghosts of his past, but what he doesn’t know? It’s my heart he’s slaying.

AMAZON

We were an unfinished business, personal and always walking the tight rope between love and hate.

Let’s talk about angst for a hot second here. Because this book? Mother. Of. All. Angst. Would you expect anything less from any kid of Vicious?

This book. This book was EVERYTHING. It’s not for the faint of heart. It was gritty, painful, and downright captivating. It was deliciously angsty and rip your hair out frustrating. It was all of the things. Full of depth and emotion, layered with an angst only Shen can deliver, and characters that you won’t be forgetting any time soon.

I knew that LJ was going to be saving the best for last, and she did not disappoint. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved the previous books, but there was just something about this one that felt different. it was…more. It was like a live wire under your skin the entire time you were reading it. We’ve seen glimpses of Vaughn in the previous books, and it’s no secret that the guy is all sorts of messed up. His story unravels all those layers to bring you to the heart of who he is. And who he is, is deep, multi-layered, and oh so broken.

I was born with an insatiable appetite for destruction.

What I loved most about this book is how the characters balance each other. Vaughn may be all sorts of screwed up, but Lenora doesn’t just take it lying down. She gives as good as she gets, and in some parts, even better. I loved that about her. The girl has grit. She’s got a spine of steal and a smart mouth to go along with it. The two of them together were instant sparks.

There’s a lot of back and forth and their road is definitely not an easy one. It’s angsty, gritty, and dark. And I do mean DARK. This book is much darker than the rest of the series and it definitely fits. But don’t go into it expecting butterflies and rainbows. Your heart will break. It will bleed. It will ache. And at the end you’ll be thankful for it.

Angry God was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. Shen has given us one of her most tortured heroes to date, and I was SO HERE FOR IT!!!

#DGRFave & Review: The Third Best Thing by Maya Hughes

THE THIRD BEST THING
Series: Fulton U #3
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Sports Romance
Author: Maya Hughes
Release Date: January 30, 2020

Dear Letter Girl, I need to see you. When can we meet?

Her response never came. My secret pen pal with a dirty mind has ghosted me. I’ve roped Jules, my sweet as pie next door neighbor, to help me track her down.

There’s only one problem–I’m falling for her. The tortoise shell glasses, out of this world curves and delicious treats are making the search for The Letter Girl even harder.

My notes were supposed to be a one time thing.

A little too much wine and naughty thoughts on a winter’s night. I never thought Berk would write back. I wanted to tell him it was me, but the fear of rejection kept my lips sealed.

Now he’s enlisted my help to track down The Letter Girl and our search has him hot on my, ahem, her trail.

She’s the girl next door.

He’s my secret pen pal.

Truth is on a collision course with their hearts and it’s only a matter of time before one of them gets wrecked…

She was an indescribable kind of perfect for me. The kind that made my heart ache that I’d only just found her and was ready to get down on my knees so I didn’t have to wait another day without knowing her beauty.

Be. Still. My. Heart.
It’s so full right now. I can’t stop grinning. This book was one of the most satisfying, feel-good, keep you swooning from beginning to finish kind of reads. My absolute favorite in the series and favorite Maya Hughes book to date!! It was, simply, EVERYTHING. Like all of the things. Perfection between the pages. I never wanted it to end.

Everything about her made me want to never let her go. She was the kind of woman I’d dreamed of one day being at my side. Beautiful. So warm and caring, and with a hint of a potty mouth.

Berk has been one of the most fun secondary characters in this series. He’s the goofball that always has an easy smile on his face. But you just know that beneath the smiles and easy going attitude there are some hidden layers, and boy were those deep. As a hero, this man was beyond multi-layered. Berk is a character with a tremendous amount of depth. he’s a guy that hides his pain and difficult childhood behind easy smiles and fun loving attitude. But beneath the college football superstar persona, is just a boy that wants love.

Jules has been crushing on Berk for over a year. What first started as a way for her to get her feelings out by writing him anonymous letters, soon turned into more when they began to write each other. But while Jules knows exactly who the letters are going to, Berk only knows her as the mysterious Letter Girl that he’s desperate to know the identity of. Living next door to each other they develop a sweet friendship. And while Berk adores Jules for everything that she is, Jules struggles with self esteem issues and can’t imagine someone like Berk ever going for someone like her.

I have to say that I loved both of these characters so much. Both Berk and Jules were incredibly multilayered with their own broken pieces. I loved how they filled in the broken pieces for each other in their friendship. I loved seeing Jules through Berk’s eyes, and I loved even more watching their friendship blossom into something so much more. Berk is a hero that’s simply impossible not to love. He’s vulnerable and tough, and oh so endearing.

Jules, even though her crazy family has certainly added to a lot of her self esteem issues is still a tough cookie. I loved watching her grow into herself throughout the book. She’s not a damsel and I loved that about her. And together? GAH. PERFECTION. I couldn’t get enough of the two of them. If you’re looking for a New Adult romance that has one of the most memorable friends to lovers tropes I’ve ever read, you need this book in your life. I’m addicted to this series. Simply addicted.


ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE FULTON U SERIES

And FREE to Read with Kindle Unlimited
#1 The Perfect First
US: https://amzn.to/2uU4n96
 #2 The Second We Met
US: https://amzn.to/31hczw4

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.

AUTHOR LINKS

#DGRFave & Excerpt, Review & Giveaway: A Favor for a Favor by @helenahunting

A FAVOR FOR A FAVOR
Series: All In #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: January 28, 2020

From the New York Times bestselling author of Pucked and A Lie for a Lie, a new stand-alone romance about trading favors, battling wills, and winning love.

When I joined Seattle’s NHL expansion team, I thought it was the start of something great. But nothing ever goes the way you expect. Take my introduction to my new neighbor. She came rolling in on the hot mess express at midnight, making a racket while she tried to get into my team captain’s apartment. Did I mention that he’s married to a woman who definitely was not her?

Imagine my surprise when I end up with an injury that has me out of the game for weeks, and she’s the one to offer to help me. I should probably add that she’s not the captain’s mistress. She’s his sexy, pastel-haired younger sister.

So we come up with an arrangement: she rehabs me so that I can get back on the ice sooner, and she can add a professional athlete that isn’t her brother to her client list. Seems simple enough. As long as I can keep my hands to myself and my hormones in check.

AMAZON

“Say you were taking a woman to a formal work function. Would you get her flowers or something?” I’ve gone on my fair share of dates, had a few relationships, but I’ve never been one for hearts and flowers or any of that bull. I’m thinking I might need to do that with Stevie, though, since she’s been screwed over pretty hard.“Is this a date or a favor for a friend?”

“I guess she thinks I’m doing her a favor.” At least that was the impression that I got when I offered to go with her.

“Is that actually what you’re doing?”

“Yes and no.”

“Can you give me a little more to go on?”

“Her ex is going to be there and I don’t want her to go alone.”

“You don’t want her to go alone because you’re worried he’ll be a jerk or he’ll try to take advantage of her?”

“Sure, yeah, that’s part of the reason.”

“Instead of me dragging the information out of you, why don’t you lay it down for me?”

“So, Stevie—”

“Hold up, we’re back to Rook’s little sister?”

“Who else would I be talking about?”

“I thought you said there isn’t anything going on between you, and now you’re taking her to some kind of work function? That’s not a favor; that’s a date. Does Rook know?”

“It’s none of his damn business.”

“I’m not sure he’ll see it that way.”

“Well, he doesn’t have control over her or what she does, or what I do.” I’m agitated now. “She’s not going to that thing alone. I don’t trust that ex of hers, and I don’t want her to end up in a situation she doesn’t like.”

Kingston tips his head to the side. “Dang.”

“What?”

“You like her.”

“Well, yeah, I like her.” What’s not to like? She’s gorgeous, and she’s funny and feisty; her body is rockin’; and she’s fun to be around, super chill, and genuinely selfless.

“Like you actually want to date her, though.”

I shrug, because what am I going to say? The answer to that is yes, I want to date her, but the timing needs to be right. “I don’t want the ex thinking he has another chance.“

“You really love complicated situations, don’t you?”

“They just tend to find me, is all.”

“When’s this event you’re supposed to take her to?” King asks.

“Saturday.”

He frowns. “We get back at noon on Saturday.”

“It’s in the evening.”

“You better hope our flight isn’t delayed.”

I hadn’t considered a delay. The only reason that would happen is if the weather isn’t good. “It doesn’t start until five. I should have plenty of time to get home and throw a suit on.”

Kingston nods and taps restlessly on the edge of the pool. “So would you call this your first date?”

“We hang out all the time.”

“‘Hang out’ meaning what?”

“Other than PT sessions, we watch hockey, eat pizza, stuff like that.”

Kingston blinks several times in rapid succession. “That’s it?”

“I pick her up from work a lot.”

“Have you ever bought her flowers before? Brought her any gifts?”

“I brought her over an aloe plant once. But, like I said, it hasn’t been like that.” I don’t get why he’s so hung up on the flowers.

“Again, please try not to take offense, but are you sure you haven’t inadvertently put yourself in the friend zone?”

“How do I know if I’m in the friend zone?” I haven’t had a lot of friends who are girls. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend who’s a girl who isn’t related to me. And I only have two female cousins, whom I see a couple of times a year at family functions. They’re significantly younger than me, so mostly I avoid them.

It’s Kingston’s turn to blow out a long breath. “If you put your arm around her and she gets all snuggly but doesn’t try to take it any further, it could mean you’re in the friend zone.”

I don’t know what my expression must be, but the panic I feel inside quite possibly reaches my face. I feel like it should be obvious that I’m interested. A guy doesn’t spend endless hours with a gorgeous woman who combines weird pizza toppings for shits and giggles. But then again, I haven’t attempted to make a move on her since the almost-kiss. And any conversation I’ve tried to have with her about it has been shut down. In fact, she wants to pretend it didn’t happen. I hadn’t considered that this might be because she actually didn’t want it to happen at all. She seemed just as into it as I was. Or maybe I’ve been misreading the whole thing. “If I’m in the friend zone, how the hell do I get out?”

I need you to stop touching me!” It’s stupid because I’m still holding on to her, not the other way around.
“Why are you yelling at me?” she shouts back.
“Because you’re half-undressed in my tub,and I’m a guy, and apparently my dick is a fucking sadist. It honestly feels like my balls are on fire right now. A semi has literally never been this painful.” “Well, close your damn eyes and think about dead things.”

FAVORITE. HELENA HUNTING BOOK. EVER.

How do you even top this? This book was EVERYTHING. The blurb was amazing but it didn’t even begin to do this justice. I loved the first in the series, but this story just owned me. It was enemies to lovers with a slow burn to beat all slow burns. It was full of banter and humor and all of the sizzle. GAH! I seriously can’t right now with all of my feels!!

These two were easily my favorite characters that Helena Hunting has created to date.

Stevie is RJ’s younger sister from A Lie for a Lie. She’s feisty, sharp-witted, and currently trying to move on from walking in on her boyfriend having sex with another woman in their bed. The bed in the apartment they just moved into together. The apartment that they got because of a job they both got and will be working together at. Good times. As she runs away to lick her wounds, looking a hot mess, her brother offers up his condo to her. So of course as fate would have it, what happens when everything that can go wrong does and you’re looking a hot mess trying to get the key to work to your temporary new gigs? You run into your ridiculously good looking but terribly tempered neighbor.

To say that these two get off on the wrong foot would be a serious understatement. While Stevie is dealing with her new normal, she now has to deal with her grumpy new neighbor that happens to assume that she’s his married teammate’s sidepiece. So suffice it to say, he’s not that happy to see her. No matter that the relationship between RJ and Bishop is antagonistic at best.

These two begin an intricate dance of antagonism laced with enough sexual tension to set their condo building on fire. It’s enemies to lovers at it’s very best. With amazing banter, sizzling chemistry, and all of the funny barbs and one-liners. When Bishop gets dangerously hurt during a game, he’s desperate to get back on his feet. And then Stevie offers him her help. She’s a physiotherapist specializing in sports therapy. It’s a great arrangement. A favor for a favor. She’d help get him back on the ice, and he’d give her the chance to work with her first professional athlete and make a name for herself without her brother’s help. Thus begins an even more intricate dance of denying their chemistry as they’re forced in tight quarters and to be around each other a lot more often.

Bishop was such an amazing hero. This man is brooding, and while looks are deceiving, he’s not the typical man-whoring athlete. He takes care of his younger brother and focuses on his career. He has no time for a woman, until one quite literally stumbles into his life.

This was such a delicious story. I don’t even have all of the words to describe how good. The chemistry was incendiary, the humor was on point, and the story was addictive. Pure perfection on pages. I can’t recommend it enough. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t read a Helena Hunting book yet, then this is the perfect one to hook you with!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance with all the feels to romantic comedies that will have you laughing until you cry.
 
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#DGRFave & Review: Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

LOVE HER OR LOSE HER 
Series: Hot & Hammered 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Tessa Bailey
Release Date: January 14, 2020

New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey returns with a unique, sexy romantic comedy about a young married couple whose rocky relationship needs a serious renovation.

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

AMAZON

I’ll do anything you ask me to do,” he said in a gravelly voice. “Except walk away.”

*Flails happily*
Y’all. This book. I can’t even right now.
I think this may be my favorite Tessa Bailey book to date. And that’s something something considering I’ve devoured the woman’s entire backlist.

The second Rosie and Dom appeared on the pages of Fix Her Up as secondary characters, I could practically taste the tension between them. I was dying to get my hands on their book, so the very second this landed in my grabby little hands, I devoured it in one delicious sitting. I couldn’t bear to put it down for even a second.

This was…I don’t even have words. Perfection! Swoony, sexy, and brimming with feels. It was everything I wanted in their story and yet so much more.

Rosie and Dominic are high school sweethearts. They fell in love fast and hard when they were teenagers. But as adults, that love is no longer enough to hold the pieces of their marriage together. Lack of communication, too many things left unsaid, too many assumption have all come together to leave Rosie feeling empty. She misses the man her husband used to be. Their marriage is crumbling around them and she has no idea how to hold it together.

All Dom ever wanted was Rosie. This is an inevitable fact and something that’s a constant in his life that will never change. So when his beloved wife tells him he’s leaving, he knows that he’ll do absolutely anything to save their marriage, and he’s not above fighting dirty. Withhold their physical connection until she agrees to come back to him? Check! Agree to see a quirky and borderline crazy marriage counselor? Check! Take every opportunity to remind her just why the fell in love? Check and CHECK.

GOD. You guys. I don’t even know how to begin to describe this to you. Dom was easily one of my favorite Bailey heroes. He’s a little troubled and a lot obsessed with his wife. He’s a dirty talking god, even if he doesn’t have much to say in his day to day. He’s quite, broody and intense. But the man is captivating and practically sizzling with sexual chemistry.

Rosie was perfection, too. This is not a woman that blames their crumbling marriage on her husband only. She takes full accountability for her faults as they fight to work through their issues. Add into this a kooky counselor, favorites from the previous book, and a brand new hero introduced to drive Bethany insane and I was HOOKED. Line and sinker. I was glued to the pages. Riveted. Captivated. And utterly charmed. I loved this story from beginning to finish. With the glimpses of the hate lust between Wes and Bethany, I’m already gagging for the next book. But if you’re looking for a swoony, sexy, and totally charming second chance romance, look no further. SO GOOD.

DGR’s 2019 Favorites: My top 12 reads of the year!

Welp, it’s that time again. 2019 is almost over and it was time for me to buckle down and pick my top reads of the year. This year was a strange one for me. Usually, I struggle over these lists for weeks, attempting to narrow down my list. This year, all I had to do was just search my top faves and I realized my list wasn’t that big. The crazy thing is that I read over 150 books this year, but I think I’ve simply been getting pickier and pickier each year. I’ve become incredibly stingy with my 5 stars. So when I tell you that these are my creme of the crop, my best of the best, my shout it from the rooftops amazing, nothing beats them sort of reads…I mean it. Out of the 153 books this year, I had 12 that just rocked my socks. And without further ado, here they are in no particular order.


FAVORITE ROMCOMS


MOTI ON THE WATER by Leylah Attar

I would’ve resented the dimple that formed on his cheek. When I was little, I prayed for dimples. And now I had them. On my ass. Naturally, people with properly-placed dimples irritated me.

Oh. Em. Gee. This book. Y’all!!! Think My Big Fat Greek Wedding but with one side being a crazy and quirky Indian family and all of it set on the stunning and vivid backdrop of Greeke isles. Intrigued yet? Add into all that Leylah Attar’s colorful and magical story telling skill and what you’ve got is one unforgettable romance. Seriously. This was not just a romance, it was an experience. One where the story unravels like a stunning movie reel before your eyes and leaves you incapable of setting it down for even a setting.

Moti on the Water was sheer magic set on a stunning backdrop and wrapped around a swoony romance; all of it told in Leylah’s unique voice made for one incredible read. This book is not to be missed and one I recommend for every romance reader out there.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


THE FRIEND ZONE by Abby Jiminez

“I’ll orbit around you and be your universe, because you’ve always been my sun.”

Have you ever started a book and knew, you just knew, from the first few pages that it’s THE book. One of those books that you’ll never want to end. A book that you’ll be thinking about all year. A book that you’ll want to be shouting about from the rooftops. Well, my friends, this was THAT book for me. This was everything. It was romcom perfection unlike any I’ve read. And it is an absolute must read. It’s a book that I can’t recommend enough, whether romcom is your thing or not. It’s simply not to be missed and a story that will stay in my heart for a long while. I loved it from beginning to finish!

I’m still reeling over the fact that this was Abby’s debut. I’ve been stalking the woman ever since I devoured this read and she’s just as hilarious on her social media. I live for her updates. And I’m also absolutely dying for the second book in this series.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


FAVORITE HISTORICAL ROMANCE


THE WALLFLOWER WAGER by Tessa Dare

“Every time I speak three words, you look as though you’re going to swoon into my arms.”
“I do not,” Penny objected, knowing very well that she probably did.
“You sigh like a fool, blush like a beet. Your eyes are the worst of it. They turn into these . . . these pools. Glassy blue pools with man-eating sharks beneath the surface.”
“I hope you’re not planning a career in poetry.”
“For the good of us both, you have to cease gazing at me.”

It’s funny, because Tessa Dare graces each of my lists going back to 2017 with her Girl Meets Duke Series. Without fail. This series just does something for me. Every time I finish a book, I think that no way Tessa can outdo what she just did, and she does. Every. Single. Time. The Wallflower Wager had all of my favorite things; Dare’s signature witty banter and humor, amazing characters, and an unforgettable romance, all with a quirky twist.

This book was everything I love about a swoony historical romance and so much more!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


KINGDOM OF DREAMS by Judith McNaught

“You are mad!” she snapped, her chest heaving. “And you are a devil!”
“And you, my dear,” Royce imperturbably replied, “are a bitch.”
With that, he turned to the horrified friar and unhesitatingly announced, “The lady and I wish to be wed.”

In case you missed my social media raving, I went on a Judith McNaught binge this year. Yes, you read this right. This was THE year that I finally read the queen of angsty historical romance. I’m equally ashamed of myself for waiting this long and ecstatic that I got the chance to binge on the woman’s entire backlist. I have to say that I loved every single one of her historical romances, but there was just…something about this one. Something that just…hit me right in the feels. I hated and loved Royce. I wanted to rip my hair out and rage at the ceiling. I wanted to cry and swoon. And I loved every single second of it. GOD. This book. Y’all. I’m probably the last person on earth that hasn’t read it, but if you’ve been living under the same rock as I have, I recommend you come to the light, friend. And READ THIS BOOK!!!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


FAVORITE DARK ROMANCE


TAKE by Pam Godwin

 

His love for her resembled a blade, a source of pain, but vital. He would always protect her, however she needed him, even when he was the cause of her suffering.

Truth be told, Pam released two books this year that are in my top faves. This one, obviously, and MANIPULATE, which was the next book in the same series. It was torture to pick one, but there was something about this book that just stuck with me. If there’s one thing that Pam has a knack for, it’s taking the ultimate villain and redeeming him into someone that you root for. And Tiago was the ultimate villain.

I never thought I’d love an anti-hero more than Van from Vanquish, but Tiago captured my heart with every heart wrenching page.To put it shortly: I loved this book! Dark romance lovers, this is an absolute must read! You don’t want to miss this incredibly written, jaw dropping, and edge-of-your seat book! Trust me!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


FAVORITE APOCOLYPTIC ROMANCE


KINGS OF CARRION by Keri Lake

In many ways, we’re the same, though. He’s still the scarred boy who touched my heart. And I’m the wounded little bird, whose wings he made fly again.

When was the last time a book ruined you? I’m talking utterly gutted you. Like wrung every single emotion out of you until you were an inconsolable mess only to stitch you back together piece by devastating piece? Because THIS BOOK. Y’all. I worship at the evil genius feet of Keri Lake. If you’re looking for an utterly unforgettable read, you NEED this in your life.

I was questioning putting this under my top dark romance, because it’s also that. But really, it’s so much more. Even if apocalyptic isn’t your thing, you’ll want to read this one. TRUST ME.

Kings of Carrion was darkly captivating, emotionally devastating, and positively unforgettable. It owned me from beginning to end and I still can’t get over it. I’m RUINED. Completely ruined.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


FAVORITE CONTEMPORARY WITH A TWIST


THE KISS THIEF by LJ Shen

Our hearts were tarnished. Stained. And guilty. Unpredictable to a fault. And bound to break.

I got two words for you here: Must. Read.

I know I say this each time I finish a book of hers, but this was my favorite LJ Shen book to date.

If you like a modern day arranged marriage trope, welcome to your next addiction. This book? GAH! It had an anti-hero that only Shen can write; brutal and hard but completely redeemable. This is someone you won’t be able to help rooting for! This was like if Vicious and Sparrow had a baby, and that baby threw down the gauntlet of delicious angst and grit. A clashing of a ruthless politician and the mafia, and a young beauty used as a pawn that gets caught in the crosshairs of political agendas and blackmail. DELICIOUS!!!!!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


FAVORITE EMOTIONAL ROMANCE


WRITTEN WITH YOU DUET by Aly Martinez

 

Our entire lives were one impossibility after another.

Is it any wonder that Aly Martinez graces my top favorites list every year? The woman is an evil genius when it comes to feels.

If there’s one thing Aly Martinez can do, it’s write one unpredictable story that will grip you by the heart and keep you at the very edge of your seat. And this book? MY GOD! It was EVERYTHING. Seriously all of the things. An emotional powerhouse of love and secrets, pain and regret, and second chances. Written With You owned me. Absolutely owned me. Beginning to finish. I never wanted it to end.

This is obviously not a standalone, and you need to read the first book, but trust me, you’ll be devouring both in one sitting.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


ANOTHER SKY by Jayne Frost

“Tell me something no one else knows about you,” she said, her voice a soft whisper.
I thought of all the things I kept hidden. Dark thoughts. And darker intentions. The lure of nothingness. And the fear that one day the clouds would return and block the sun forever.
Tightening my grip, I let her warmth seep through me. “I like ballet.”

MY. WHOLE. HEART. I have no words for the experience that was this book. NONE. It was magical, heart wrenching, emotional and completely unforgettable.

If you think this is just another rockstar book, think again. Miles is also not your stereotypical damaged rockstar. The depth of his character is unlike anything I’ve read in a really long time. This is a man that experienced the ultimate heart break and never really recovered. He’s broken and he doesn’t want to be fixed. His scars run so deep that not even those closest to him know the depth of his pain.

This book broke me in the best of ways and then weaved my heart back together, word by magical word.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


FAVORITE SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE


SMOKE AND SIN by Shayla Black & Lexi Blake

“Nothing has ever made me feel as alive as you.”
“And no one has ever broken me the way you did, Roman.”

This book. THIS BOOK was everything!!! My favorite book in the series, Smoke and Sin absolutely blew me away. I was glued to the pages well into the night, completely incapable of setting it down for even a second.

Gus is one of my favorite heroines. If you like strong willed and sharp witted women, you’ll love her as much as I did. There is nothing I love more than a sex positive heroine. And Gus owned her sexuality. This is a woman that finds no shame in her beauty and sexuality and has no issues flaunting it. She wasn’t pining away for the hero without notches on her own bedpost, and I love that. I’m so sick of these heroines that basically go on a sex hiatus in the years that they spend apart from the hero. It’s completely unrealistic and I loved that Gus didn’t stop living her life after hot and brief affair with Roman went up in fiery flames.

But as far as their reunion back to lovers? HAWT.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


PIECES OF US by A.L. Jackson

“There’s never been a single day in my life when I didn’t want you. We are endless.”

Deeply romantic, heartbreakingly emotional, and achingly beautiful. Pieces of Us is easily one of my favorite AL Jackson books to date. I fell head over heels for Mack and Izzy’s story and I still can’t stop thinking about them.

It’s no secret that I love a good punch to the feels that a second chance romance always brings. But there was something so special about Mack and Izzy’s story. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it, but it felt almost electric.

If you’re looking for a beautiful romance that will break you and then put you back together in the best of ways, you seriously can’t go wrong with this book. I can’t recommend it enough!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


FAVORITE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE


WICKED SEXY by J.T. Geissinger 

“Should I jump to the ending? Spoiler alert: the hero saves her.”
Tabby looks over at me, her eyes shining like gems in the dark. “A real hero would teach the princess how to save herself.”

GAH. This series, you guys. This series was amazing! I’ve loved every single book in the Wicked Games series, but something about Tabby and Connor just hit all the right spots for me. I’ve reread it 3 times already, and it will continue to be my re-read staple.

The amount of love I had for this completely unputdownable story is so ridiculous, I lost count. It had everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. A badass, take no prisoners, sharp witted and sassy heroine. Banter that will make your life. Sexual tension that will make you shiver. And a total badass, dirty talking hero that’s a doppelgänger for Dwayne Johnson. I mean C’MON!!!

Chock full of passion, emotion, with fascinating multi-layered characters and a story that you never want to end, Wicked Sexy was absolutely everything I love about romance.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW

#DGRFave & Review: Kings of Carrion by Keri Lake

KINGS OF CARRION
Series: Juniper Unraveling #3
Genre: Dystopian Romance
Author: Keri Lake
Release Date: December 3, 2019

Decades have passed since our world was decimated by the Dredge. Some say it was an act of God. Others believe the devil himself breached the gates of hell and turned the masses into the mindless infected with an appetite for carnage.

Those of us who’ve survived the Calico experiments know the only thing more terrifying than the monsters that seek to ravage what’s left of us, are the men who created them. Ones too capable of hiding their true form, and burying their darkest secrets.

Somewhere beneath the facility lies the answers, a cure for our suffering. To reach it, we’ll have to open the haunting tomb, where man’s deadliest mistakes, the most violent mutations, lie trapped within its tunnels, waiting to be set free.

Our only hope in surviving them are the very Alphas who were designed to hunt us down. The titans forged by cruelty and pain.

Kings of carrion.

We taught them to love, and in turn, they vow to protect us. To deliver the cure for humanity’s sake. Except this world doesn’t give without taking, and any chance of saving us will require the greatest sacrifice of all.

SERIES ORDER:
Juniper Unraveling (Book 1)
Calico Descending (Book 2)
Kings of Carrion (Book 3)

AMAZON

In many ways, we’re the same, though. He’s still the scarred boy who touched my heart. And I’m the wounded little bird, whose wings he made fly again.

When was the last time a book ruined you? I’m talking utterly gutted you. Like wrung every single emotion out of you until you were an inconsolable mess only to stitch you back together piece by devastating piece? Because THIS BOOK. Y’all. I was lucky enough to beta read Kings of Carrion a few months back and I STILL can’t stop thinking about it. I worship at the evil genius feet of Keri Lake. If you’re looking for an utterly unforgettable read, you NEED this in your life.

Kings of Carrion was darkly captivating, emotionally devastating, and positively unforgettable. It owned me from beginning to end and I still can’t get over it. I’m RUINED. Completely ruined.

Full disclosure here, this story emotional eviscerated me. I spent the latter part of the book a hysterically blubbering mess. There was no consoling me. If there’s one thing that Keri Lake knows how to do, it’s to reach into the pits of her readers souls and rip their damn hearts out. This was no exception. This is not a standalone and you need to read Calico Descending first. This is the conclusion of the story that starts there. If you’ve also read Juniper Unraveling, then you’ll be thrilled to get more Six and Wren here.

If you loved Cali and Vladys in the first book, you will fall even harder for them here. I loved Cali’s fierceness and the way she fought for her beloved. I loved Valdys’s undying love for Cali. And everything that happens in between? Unforgettable.

#DGRFave & Excerpt & Review: Outmatched by Kristen Callahan & Samantha Young

OUTMATCHED
Genre: Contemporary
Author: Kristen Callihan & Samantha Young
Release Date: November 19, 2019

What happens when a boxer finds chemistry with a geek?

Parker Brown can’t believe she needs to hire a fake boyfriend. When she landed her dream job in renewable energy, she thought she’d be entering a world at the forefront of progressive thinking. But the head boss prefers to promote employees who are “settled.” Thankfully, she’s found the perfect candidate, a fellow intellectual looking for some quick cash. What Parker gets is his protective big brother—Rhys Morgan. The tall, muscled ex-boxer with a foul mouth shows up just as her boss does, and now she’s stuck with the manipulative jerk.

Responsibility weighs heavily on Rhys. Now permanently out of the ring, he’s trying to hold together his late father’s gym and keep his younger brother, Dean, on the straight and narrow. To save Dean from himself, Rhys takes his place, ready to give this society girl a piece of his mind. Instead, he finds an opportunity. Even though they can hardly stand each other, posing as Parker’s boyfriend is a win-win deal. She gets to keep her job, and he’ll charm her star-struck boss into sponsoring his gym.

Problem is, they can barely keep their hands off each other. And what started as an easy deal isn’t so easy anymore. Because what future can a rough ex-boxer, afraid to open his heart, and a polished society geek, who has sworn off real relationships, possibly have?

They say opposites attract. These opposites are about to combust on impact.

AMAZON | KOBO | iBOOKS | B&N

AngryTink: Hey. This is Parker. Parker Brown.

My phone dinged loudly. I fumbled around my bed, finally finding the damn thing under a pillow. Wiping the sleep off my face, I rolled onto my back and read the text that had pulled me out of a pleasant sleep. I smiled. It was just so … Parker. Settling in, I answered her.

RhysThis: Don’t have to tell me who you are. Your number is programmed on my phone. What do you want?

AngryTink: Well, good morning to you too, Happy Pants.

My smile turned into an evil grin. The girl was always going to punch back and make it count.

RhysThis: That’s Mr. Happy Pants. Though, TBH, my pants aren’t too happy at the moment. Want to help me out with that?

AngryTink: Tempting. Truly. But, no.

RhysThis: RU sure? ‘Cuz Happy Pants Rhys is much more agreeable than Sad That He Had to Self-Satisfy Rhys.

AngryTink: Would you please behave?

RhysThis: I’m not the one who mentioned the emotional state of my pants.

AngryTink: ARGH!

A chuckle rumbled in my chest as my thumbs tapped out a response I knew would piss her off more.

RhysThis: Was that even English? Honestly, Ms. Brown, I thought you were educated.

She took a moment to answer. I could picture her, phone in hand, grinding her teeth.

AngryTink: You’re deliberately trying to annoy me, aren’t you?

RhysThis: You’re quick. I’ll give you that.

AngryTink: Mr. Morgan, I’m about ten seconds away from finding an alternate fake boyfriend. A goat on a rope would be a better candidate at this point.

It was cute she thought that was threatening.

RhysThis: Yeah, probably. But the goat doesn’t have a signed contract. I do, Tinker Bell.

AngryTink: ARGH@!!

RhysThis: You’re kind of cute when you talk pirate.

If we made it through this ruse with me going to prison for assault instead of murder, I’d call it a win. The guy really pushed my buttons. And I hadn’t even known I had any.

I. AM. SO. HAPPY. RIGHT. NOW.

Seriously. I don’t even know what to do with myself? What do you do when two of your favorite authors co-write a book together and not only does it live up to your RIDICULOUSLY BIG expectations but actually EXCEEDS it?!! You flail like the happy fangirl that you are and offer up an ovary on the chance that this will mark the first book in a series. What? It’s a totally normal reaction. Stop judging me. GOD.

If you love enemies to lovers and fake relationship tropes, this is your next obsession. Guys, I’m not even kidding. This book was everything. All of the things. Witty banter, humor, and all of the steam. And the characters? My god! Talk about opposites attract.

Parker Brown is a girl after my own heart. She comes from privilege but it certainly doesn’t define who she is. She’s a lot smart and with just the right amount of quirky. Desperate to make an impression on her boss’s misogynistic a-hole boss in order to secure the job of her dreams. Sounds easy right? Too bad it’s not her knowledge at work that matters, but the having a boyfriend. So what’s a girl to do? Hire one, of course!

Rhys Morgan is a retired boxer desperate to keep his gym afloat after the passing of his father. So when he learns that his brother got a job pimping himself out to some pretentious rich chick, he’s all too eager to put a kibosh on it. But when he stomps to meet her and put her in her place, he somehow ends up making an impression on her boss and offering to take his brother’s place. PLOT TWIST!!

The banter between these two was off the charts hot. SWEET BABY JEBUS! The banter was everything. Rhys and and Parker absolutely burn up the pages together. Their chemistry is incendiary. The slow building romance is packed with so much sexual tension that you feel like your fingers singe just turning the pages. The pages are full of witty banter and sizzling chemistry that I just couldn’t get enough of. Parker may have grown up privileged but she’s determined to make her own way. I just loved her. Then there’s the mouthy Boston boxer with a heart of gold. Together they set the book on fire. And that’s not even mentioning the incredible secondary characters that I’m desperately hoping will be getting their own books.

Basically, this book was freaking fantastic!! An absolute must read full of heart, humor, and steam!

About Kristen:

Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a RITA winner and three-time nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

Connect with Kristen:

Facebook | Twitter | WebsiteAmazonGoodreads  

About Samantha:

Samantha Young is a New York Times and #1 International bestselling author from Stirlingshire, Scotland. On Dublin Street was Samantha’s first adult contemporary romance series and has sold in thirty countries. She has since published over thirteen romance titles including the New York Times Bestsellers Into the Deep, Hero, and her most recent contemporary romance Play On. When writing Adult Paranormal romance she writes under the pen name S. Young.

Connect with Samantha:

FacebookWebsite | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Amazon | Goodreads | Bookbub 

DGRFave & Review: Calico Descending by Keri Lake

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

Sequel to Juniper Unraveling.

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

For the greater good.

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

Not until I finally learned my purpose.

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

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

For the greater good.

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

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

AMAZON 

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

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

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

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

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


PRE-ORDER KINGS OF CARRION

#DGRFave & Review: Absolution by Keri Lake

ABSOLUTION
Genre: Dark Romance
Author: Keri Lake
Release Date: August 27, 2019

 

According to canon law, it is forbidden for a priest to betray the penitent for any reason. Even murder.

The consequences?

Excommunication.

For years, I’ve listened to your confessions. I know your darkest secrets, and have swallowed your sins in silence. In return, I’ve offered you forgiveness in His name. But behind the partition that separates us, I’m nothing more than a man who has long questioned his own faith.

Your contrition is my invitation: to mete out the kind of justice you pray will never come. I’m neither pious, nor merciful, despite what you see. I’m an imposter, an abomination to all I represent. A quiet executioner who’s kept below the radar.

Until her.

She’s seen what I’ve done. She knows the man beneath the cloth and my every mortal sin. She has witnessed the uncontrollable vices she hopes to use against me in order to get what she covets most.

Yet, I know her sins, too. Ones she doesn’t bother to confess. The kind, for which, there is no absolution.

*The short story first appeared in the Wanted: An Outlaw Anthology. This is the full-sized novel, which includes the conclusion to Damon and Ivy’s story.

AMAZON

C’mon, pécheresse, let me hear you scream.”
“Oh, God!”
“There is no God here, Ivy. Only me.”

Bless me, father, for I have sinned. Oh how I’ve sinned! I’ve sinned So. Freaking. Hard. And I’m not even a little sorry. Absolution was a deliciously thrilling ride that skirts the edge of propriety and was so good, it was downright sinful!

Moans muffle into the pillows, while she rolls her head and claws at the bedding as if possessed by demons. Maybe she is. Surely, God isn’t present here, while I f*ck her with the kind of reckless abandon that’ll land my soul in hell.

If you’ve never read anything by the immensely talented Keri Lake, then this is the story you need to start with to get a good taste of her addicting story telling. And if you’re a fan of taboo romance, that you definitely need this book in your life!

This was originally published as a novella in a limited time anthology and it’s now been expanded to be a full length novel and it packs an even bigger punch. If you’ve read the novella, then you’ll definitely want to get your grabby little hands on this because it delivers on the satisfying conclusion that was missing in the novella. There has been an entire second half added that takes the reader beyond Ivy’s revenge and deep into the dark bowels of Damon’s.

Father Damon is not all that he seems. There’s a dark undercurrent to this man of the cloth and a history riddled with demons that have followed him into his present. When a man steps into his confessional to describe a crime that’s horrific beyond words, it sends Damon into a tailspin of repressed anger and vengeance. Then a a beautiful woman with her own dark secrets puts his faith to a true test.

Absolution is a sizzling story full of grit and a dash of darkness with a heavy layer of taboo. It was a page turner from beginning to finish. A high paced thrill ride of vengeance with a deliciously sizzling romance.

Ivy is a character that I wasn’t sure I’d like at first but boy did she grow on me as the story progressed. Even more so in the second half. Her reasons for getting to Damon aren’t exactly altruistic. This is a woman with a hidden agenda, but one made out of utter and complete helplessness. She’s desperate to get away from a demon of her own past and she’ll do anything to escape him. Even make a sinner out of Damon…

In her signature gritty style with an undercurrent of darkness, Keri delivers on the side of Damon we barely got a taste for in the novella. Here you get to know the man he used to be and the man he becomes along with the sacrifices he makes along the way. There’s so many twists and turns, it will leave your head reeling.

With plenty of mind-blowing twists and turns that I’ve come to love and expect from this author, Absolution was one unputdownable read that I recommend for any fans of gritty taboo romance. Trust me, people, if there’s one book you need to read right now, it’s THIS ONE!!!

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