Book Reviews, Dark Romance, LGBTQA+, Mafia/Gang/Secret Society Romance, Suspense/Intrigue Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Five by Sara Cate and Rachel Leigh

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Five; Black Heart #2 
(#2 within a series)

Publication Date: January 13, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Mafia/Suspense/Reverse Harem Romance

Author: Sara Cate and Rachel Leigh

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars



Intense action, steamy erotic romance and emotional turmoil. Five brings all the ups and downs.

This is my first stroll into the Black Heart world, but I wasn’t lost considering I didn’t read Four. Iris is one lucky lady living with three men, Silas, Gabriel, and Baron. It’s not conventional by any means especially given that Silas is the father; biologically over Baron and adoptive over Gabriel. Dig a little deeper and these three men are also assassins for hire, so their family dynamic is already a tad messed up, but they make it work. They share Iris, alternating nights, but never sharing at the same time. It works for their home life, until a cog suddenly falls out of place.

When Gabriel leaves for a mission and doesn’t return, their entire family knows something is wrong. The Blacks work relentlessly to retrieve him, but in the meantime Gabriel learns some interesting facts about his captors and Iris falls prey to her own mission causing a new ripple in the already complicated family dynamic.

I loved the complicated feelings that this reverse harem brought to the story. Each man had their own feelings about the woman they loved and wanted to call their own, but along with that Iris also felt very deeply about her men. Add in the suspense of what was going on around them and it only heightened those emotions.

A very well done, tenseful, reverse harem story.


My family is everything to me.

When my life was ripped away from me, I found them.

Silas, Gabriel, and Baron—my hearts, my family, my home.

Together, we’re a dangerous family of assassins, but I’ve never been happier.

Until a member of our family goes missing.

He went out for a simple job and never came back.

Now it’s up to Baron, Silas, and I to bring him home—but what if he doesn’t want to be found?

What if the family he’s found is better than the one we have here?

And what if I find myself caught up in their web of lies while becoming strangely drawn to someone I shouldn’t be?

All I know is that I can’t live without my family, and I’ll do anything to keep them safe.

Even if that means facing the truth.

We’re nothing if we’re not together—all of us.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, RomCom, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Decker by Kayley Loring and Connor Crais

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Decker; Changing the Play 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: January 13, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Sports Romance/Romantic Comedy

Author: Kayley Loring and Connor Crais

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars



Sweetly adorable while still intensely hot. Loring’s brilliant comedy shined throughout this fantastic sports romance while her new co-writing partner, Connor Crais, only increased the awesomeness of the overall plot.

You’d think these two have been writing together for years this book was so well done. There was never a point I thought, this sounds exactly like a man, or this is specifically Kayley’s writing. It’s flawless and perfectly executed. All the charm, cuteness, and loveable qualities that bring me back to Loring’s books over and over again was still there, but there was also this extra sprinkle on top that I’m guessing was the Connor factor.  I’m going with that and I’m sticking to it.

John Decker, the reformed panty wrecker, since his main focus is truly on football and not ravaging all the panties in Boston like when he was a young rookie. His character is likeable from start to finish. He’s a leader on and off the field and he reminded me a lot of great players across generations and in other various sports as well. Whomever the inspiration was for Loring and Crais to draw from, they did a fantastic job on creating and drawing out a well rounded QB1. It’s been years since I’ve asked questions and really paid attention to specifics in football. It’s on my TV on the weekends mostly as background noise, but Decker even refreshed the old spirit in this gal and I found myself paying more attention to the TV than I have in years.

I adored Hannah Strong and loved that she was a woman willing to step into a man’s world and never give up. That strength in character is a trait that more women need to see and experience in everyday life and it’s slowly changing over time, but I love that it’s also happening in the fictional world too. Women are still a minority when it comes to being owners of sports teams. Hannah had a big job in finance before she came over to the sports world, so she had analytics behind her. What she didn’t have was any knowledge of the sport she was taking over, however, she did have the panty wrecker willing to give her a hand…with several things.

These two were pure fire from the beginning and their chemistry never let up. I also loved Hannah’s quest for knowledge and her undying, relentless pursuit to never quit. No matter how tough something was she wasn’t going to stop. That is the same ethics that professional athletes have and it’s ultimately what wins them over as well, especially the QB1.

Is there some drama, of course, but are there lots of quirky, hot, fun times too…yes!! This book brings it all, along with lots of football.


#12 Johnny Decker. Star quarterback for the Boston Tomcats. Two-time Super Bowl MVP…a decade ago. Nickname: Decker the Panty Wrecker.

I get tackled for a living by men who are built like rhinos. I could take the wings off a fly with a football from 30 yards away. (I wouldn’t, but I could.) Being a veteran quarterback means I’m a mentally alert, fine-tuned athletic machine who can make split-second decisions.

It’s my job to anticipate what’s going to happen next and adapt. But I couldn’t have anticipated the death of our beloved team owner.

His estranged daughter Hannah Strong is a finance nerd from New York. She knows less than nothing about football. Know what she didn’t anticipate? Inheriting the Boston Tomcats.

She’s stubborn, uptight, infuriating, and wrong about absolutely everything—from pizza to how to run my team. And I don’t want to talk about how good she looks in a skirt. Or daydream about how good she’d look out of it.
Really, I don’t.
I’m not Decker the Panty Wrecker anymore—I’ve changed.

I can’t stop arguing with her.

Or thinking about her.

I thought I had a winning play.
But Hannah Strong changed everything.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Prodigal Son by Jay Crownover

Prodigal Son; The Forever Marked #2 
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: January 12, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Single Dad/Friends-to-Lovers/Contemporary Romance

Author: Jay Crownover

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars



A story with big, real life emotional issues, that Jay Crownover tackled with love and the perfect touch.

This is the first book I’ve read by Jay Crownover and what a lovely story to dive into. In today’s world that is finally taking the shameful cover off of mental health and opening up the discussion and shining light upon the problem we keep trying to bury, Prodigal Son is a book that doesn’t shy away from this topic living front and center in our world. While Remy has a diagnosed mental illness, I’d also say that Hyde suffers from emotional trauma that steers the course of his life. Luckily Hyde has a wonderful family supporting him that he doesn’t end up veering too off course.

From the beginning of this book it’s evident that Hyde cares for Remy, but not at the level that Remy loves him. He enlists in the military for multiple reasons, but one is mainly to leave Remy behind and give her a chance to live her life without him. Kind of harsh, but makes sense to a young kid who has his whole life ahead of him.

When Hyde left, Remy was devastated, but she eventually learned to live without him. Eight years go by and her mental health has improved dramatically, she’s grown to be independent, but now she hears Hyde is moving back to town and with a daughter no less. What will this possibly do to the solid foundation that she has created?

When these two were growing up they were connected at the hips, but during the time they were apart they both grew into different people. Will their connection be the same or have they changed so much that nothing is salvageable?


When she was a little girl, Remy Archer fell in love with Hyde Fuller at first sight. In fact, he was the only thing she could see for a very long time. For Remy, it never mattered to her that Hyde was always too serious and always seemed so sad. To her, he was the very best, and the center of her entire world. She never dreamed he would let her down when she needed him the most.

Now Remy is a semi-reasonable adult, one with a better understanding of why her intense feelings scared Hyde away when she was at her lowest point. She’s moved on, and if anyone asks she’s perfectly happy with the chaotic and hectic life she’s built. She’s also really proud that she’s still around to experience all the best and worst that surviving something deeply traumatic has to offer. The last thing she needs or wants, is Hyde coming back and taking over her every thought and feeling the way he once did. Unfortunately, they picked the exact same time to come home to search for a little redemption.

When he was a little boy, the instant they met, Hyde Fuller wanted nothing more than to protect Remy Archer from everything, including herself. She gleefully took up every moment of his free time, and every ounce of his patience, as they grew alongside one another. He was so intent on keeping her safe, he didn’t realize how deeply Remy had worked her way into his heart.

Now that Hyde’s facing the biggest challenge and biggest change of his entire life, he deeply regrets walking away from Remy. She was always the one person who always had his back, no matter what. The way Remy loved him used to terrify him, but now, it’s the way he loves her that scares him to death.
Hyde knows he needs Remy in his life, so he can finally figure out how to be the man she always believed him to be. History has a bad habit of repeating itself, and Remy has a knack for turning even the most simple of situations end over end. This time Hyde is determined to stay by her side no matter what, even though his love for Remy is going to change more than his life this time around.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Mafia/Gang/Secret Society Romance, Suspense/Intrigue Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Empire of Sin by Rina Kent

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Empire of Sin; Empire #2 
(An interconnected standalone)

Publication Date: January 13, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Mafia/Suspense/Contemporary Romance

Author: Rina Kent

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars



Worlds merging, stars alining, and secrets uncovered…plus, hotness everywhere…Empire of Sin is pure epicness!! I sat down and this beautiful baby was read cover to cover in one fantastic sitting. I loved, loved, loved it!

Knox Van Doren and Anastasia Sokolov are two characters that pure reading gold. Not only are they plucked from two of Rina’s amazing other series, but on their own they are just brilliantly fantastic together.

Anastasia is escaping from the dark world she was raised in. The bratva leaves little room for hugs and kisses, especially when she is the only daughter of the bratva leader. Taking matters into her own hands she transforms herself and creates a new identity – Jane – and escapes. Somehow destiny put her in the path of Knox Van Doren and she is weak to say no to his tempting allure even when she knows it’s the last place she should be.

Knox doesn’t take kindly to lying. He especially doesn’t like when he’s been duped. When he realizes his last one night stand is working in his building and has completely transformed her appearance, he’s already angry about her lies. This time his little liar won’t escape his warpath. Jane or whoever she says she is is about to learn a lesson.

Is it wrong to say I was giddy excited through this entire book? First of all, Knox and Ana are raging hot right from the start and their chemistry never lets up – that can sometimes be hard to do when characters start off full steam, where do you go-right, but Knox and Ana only seemed to get hotter as the story progressed, their passion burned brighter as their emotions grew. That is truly the best kind of reading.

Next, the cameo appearances had me squealing over and over again. Rina stuck to this book being a standalone and she did a great job of it, you didn’t have to be an expert on Rina’s books to understand who the characters are, but personally, having read her other books it totally made me excited to view these glimpses and have a brief catch up into past character lives.

Lastly, the pure adrenaline of how these two, from completely different worlds could ever make it work. End of day, Ana is a mafia princess and Knox is a lawyer who is used to bringing bad men to justice. How can these two worlds really work? I will not give away one iota on this topic, because I was on the edge of my seat until the very end and that is how it should be.

Everything about this story is page turning magic!!


My boss. My sin.

I’m not the type who has one-night stands.
It wasn’t supposed to happen, okay?
A couple of drinks and a sinful British accent later and I’m in bed with a stranger.
Of course, I left first thing in the morning because I’m a responsible adult.
An adult who has a new job that I need in order to keep my double life a secret.
Little did I know I’m not, in fact, responsible.
Because the stranger I left in bed? Yeah, he’s not a stranger after all.
He’s my new boss.
Knox Van Doren might have a charming smile, but a true villain lurks beneath it all.
And like any villain, he’ll use my sin against me…

No other books need to be read prior to this.

Coming January 2022


Find more of my reviews on Amazon under Kayreader
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