Review
Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Mafia Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Mafia Queen by CD Reiss

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Mafia Queen; The DiLustro Arrangement #3 
(#3 within a trilogy)

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Trilogy/Arranged Marriage/Dark/Mafia Romance

Author: CD Reiss

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

The final installment in the Mafia-DiLustro trilogy and war is on the horizon.

While a war has been a long time time coming, even though once upon a time Santino and Damiano were friends who grew up together, it was ancient artifact that came between them and poisoned what they had, spilling blood and fracturing their partnership.

There is a lot to unbox as this final book comes to a close. War, deception, grief, history, family dynamics, and an artifact that no one has actually seen, yet. Buckle up and hang on for quite a ride.

This last book was up and down with suspense and then moments of emotion. It was quite a rollercoaster. Violetta finds her sense of power after feeling powerless for quite a bit of the series. Where she had lost a lot of her fight, she found her inner backbone and earned her title of Mafia Queen. I understand sometimes a person has to lose everything to finally come back, but I was happy to see she found her spirit, Santino is a powerful man and needs a powerful woman by his side.

While Santino has fascinated me from the beginning, his single minded focus on obtaining the crown was also frustrating. I did enjoy seeing him fall more in love with his wife and open up a new side of himself in this last book. He is by no means a soft man, but for his wife he found the meaning of love and would certainly do anything for his queen.

This is a dark work with all the scruples of kill or be killed.  4.5 star read.

Synopsis:

What doesn’t kill you makes you a killer.

Santino DiLustro changed me. You can’t spend time in bed with the devil without getting addicted to the heat.
Before him, I was a girl. Innocent and weak.
Now, I’m a woman. A fighter. A killer.
I’ll burn the world down for him. Shatter the sky. But I will not break.
No. I will rise up and destroy whoever dares to threaten what my king has built, because I am forever his queen.

October 12, 2021 The DiLustro Arrangement

Mafia Bride (The DiLustro Arrangement, #1) by C.D. Reiss Mafia Bride (The DiLustro Arrangement Book 1)

Mafia King (DiLustro Arrangement #2) by C.D. Reiss Mafia King (DiLustro Arrangement, #2)

Mafia Queen (The DiLustro Arrangement #3) Mafia Queen (DiLustro Arrangement, #3)

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Veritas by A.L. Woods

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Veritas 
(An interconnected standalone)

Publication Date: October 6, 2021

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

Author: A.L. Woods

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Veritas was a mixed bag of emotion for me and those emotions centered mostly around Maria.

I didn’t like Maria for the first quarter of the book. She’s harsh, closed off, so deeply seated in her trust issues that I honestly didn’t think she’d ever turn around for anyone, but…and this is a big but…I understood where she was coming from and this is why I continued to root for her. Why I continued to read and finish the book. There are redeeming qualities from her abrasive, cold demeanor and once that shell comes off Maria is just a woman like the rest of us.

Maria not only works in a man’s world, she works in a misogynistic, patriarchal, man’s world as a lawyer. To top off her daily work life, she also comes from a heritage where women have their place and she shouldn’t push for more, want for more, or be seen beyond their womanly assets. Maria is constantly bombarded by the men she works with as a lawyer, and she is bombarded by her Portugese family. If there is one thing I hate in this world it’s when women are told we are to limit ourselves based on our gender. Again, this was a big reason why I rooted for her, I understood Maria for pushing back against the glass ceiling and wanting more out of life. I just hated that she put boundaries on her heart to do it, but I’ve personally known many powerful women just like her who have done the very same thing. Men in her very same position seem to sacrifice the way women do and as much as I wish for the world to change, we still have a long way to go.

Jordan came into this book with some trust issues as well, but he was much more self aware of where his stemmed from. He’s been divorced for several years, he’s a single father, and he’s a successful lawyer. Is this the very cliche I mentioned above, perhaps, but he was much more likeable from beginning all the way to end even with the burdens he had to bare. I can’t say if it was being a single dad that drew more empathy, his failed relationship or his strong personality of never giving up that exactly pinpointed his likable personality, but the combination of Jordan was intoxicating. The man knew how to push Maria’s buttons and between the two of them they were a good match.

I will say I hated the way Maria treated Dougie. I realize his character was a means to an end in the overall story, but the poor guy really gets the dumped on. Perhaps he will get his redemption story in the future.

Veritas was full of steam, like uber hot steam. It also had a lot of family and other tie ins to past storylines. I’m fairly new to A.L. Woods so the characters weren’t old friends to me, but I wasn’t lost either. This can be read as a complete standalone.

Synopsis:

𝐀 𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐦𝐲 𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐞𝐬-𝐭𝐨-𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐝 𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫, 𝐀.𝐋. 𝗪𝐨𝐨𝐝𝐬…⁣

𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘢⁣
It was supposed to be a fling.⁣
A one-night stand. ⁣
Then Jordan Kovacs asked for more.⁣
A date. I don’t date—I f*ck. ⁣
While he showered, I left. ⁣
The end. ⁣
Or so I thought. I have a problem.⁣
My ex-f*ck buddy is getting married. ⁣
And I can’t get out of going—long story.⁣
I need an arrangement I can understand from a man who only had me for a night.⁣
But Jordan has other plans for me.⁣
Things that will tip the scales in his favor.⁣⁣

𝘑𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘢𝘯⁣
A tryst was what she was looking for. ⁣
A date was what I wanted.⁣
A chance. ⁣
I understand Maria Tavares. ⁣
She’s a beautiful lie. ⁣
Now she needs something from me: a favor. ⁣
So I’ll function in a way she can understand: an arrangement. ⁣
Three months. ⁣
All in. Strings attached. No interferences. Titles exchanged. ⁣
The plan is simple, with only one rule—veritas.⁣
Let’s see if Maria’s ex-f*ck buddy understands that, too.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Picnic Perfect by Xavier Neal

Book cover for Picnic Perfect: A Small Town Romantic Comedy (Kismet Cove Single’s Week) by Xavier Neal

Picnic Perfect; Kismet Cove 
(An interconnected novella)

Publication Date: September 29, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Novella/Contemporary Romance

Author: Xavier Neal

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A quick, fun read about opening up to possibilities and jumping in with both feet when the moment feels right.

Warren and Katy meet at a single’s event, but quickly realize they have met before. Their attraction is quick and their week goes fast having fun and enjoying each other, but what happens when the week ends?

A perfect 4.5 read for a sunny day.

Synopsis:

Looking for that special someone?
Need to get away?
Look no further!
Join us for a Single’s Week of mixers and adventures!
From far and near, the more the merrier!
Everyone’s welcome!

Eleven authors are bringing eleven brand new stories about finding love in all sorts of way and how the charm of this lake town brings people together. Known for its delightful allure, Kismet Cove is the perfect background to find the one!
—–

3 influences.
2 opposites.
1 vacation.

When Warren McGuire and Katy Horn bump into each other for the first time since his youngest brother’s wedding, the last thing he expects them to do is hook up.

It doesn’t take long for his insecurities to appear; however, to his surprise, they don’t send her running.

He doesn’t send her running.

For once in his over-planned life, Warren may have actually found a woman who wants him as much as he wants her.

Too bad that it’s only supposed to be a fling.

Too bad that they live in very separate states.

Too bad that they live totally different lives.

Will Warren do what it takes to make this unlikely match work for the long run, or will he leave it behind for something more picnic perfect

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Book Reviews, Paranormal/Science Fiction Romance, RomCom, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Saving Silver by Xavier Neal

Book cover for Saving Silver (The Draak Legacy #1) by Xavier Neal

Saving Silver; The Draak Legacy #1
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: September 23, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Romantic Comedy/Paranormal Romance

Author: Xavier Neal

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Dragons, mermaids, and genies, oh my!!

Dae was awakened to a magical world when a dragon shifter arrived in her veterinarian office one evening. The call to become his mate was strong between the two as Silver/Zilveren was simultaneously battling forces that were capturing ancient dragons throughout the city.

This is Xavier’s first jump into the paranormal world and I give her a solid 4.5 stars for tackling a new genre. The plot contained a lot of action and suspense and the chemistry still flowed between the two characters even when you threw in all of the paranormal oddities into the mix. Well done for this first jump into the fantastical realm.

I really enjoyed the different species of magical creatures that came up vs. the typical paranormal creatures that always seemed to be introduced in every other fantasy book I come across . There were also new spins on old species which I rather enjoyed as well. Once again, this showed Xavier’s creativity for tackling this new genre.

This is the first book in a new dragon series and there were several creatures introduced, like Z’s brothers. As the series progresses, the brothers and their mate matches will be intriguing to learn more about.

Synopsis:

From best-selling author Xavier Neal comes a brand-new, laugh-out-loud, paranormal romance you don’t want to miss…

I swear, one minute I’m dozing off during the night shift – don’t judge me – and the next I’m being told I’m Fate Mated to an ancient dragon.

An ancient dragon I couldn’t help but save when he woke me up out of the aforementioned slumber – again, don’t judge me.

Now this same ancient dragon – that I’m apparently destined to be with – is doing everything he can to win me over, because it’s up to me whether or not he’ll live the rest of his life in absolute agony or absolute bliss.

Oh, and let’s not forget the fact we’re being chased by elves, working with a grumpy Griffin, and have to rescue some poor kidnapped dragon before an evil corporation kills it.

Ugh.

Any chance this is all some crazy dream that I can’t wake up from?

No?

Well, can’t blame this human for asking.

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Book Reviews, LGBTQA+, RomCom, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Hijacked by Lucy Lennox and May Archer

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Hijacked; A Licking Thicket Horn of Glory #1 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: September 2, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Doctor/Security/Romcom/MM Romance

Author: Lucy Lennox and May Archer

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Both of these authors are new authors to me and boy, did I jump into one zany book filled with fun, suspense, and two hot heros.

Dr. Carter Rogers is working in South America for a doctor without borders type operation and his grandfather insists on protection, which is a good thing considering the sweet, caring doc gets kidnapped to help an infamous cartel drug lord for his failing health.

Riggs is highly overprotective, but even he can’t stop Carter from helping others. It’s why he likes the guy, but he shouldn’t get involved with the man he’s hired to protect, but highly charged situations and one highly charged doctor make it almost impossible to resist. Can Riggs get them rescued before the drug lord ends Carter’s services?

There are a lot of crazy situations these two find themselves in, several suspenseful ones too, and together these two are also sweet and steamy. It’s quite the bag of mish-mash romantic romcom, but somehow it all works.

Jump into this zany world and get hijacked with Riggs and Carter.

Synopsis:

Renowned cardiologist Carter Rogers is used to having things under control. His life, his prestigious reputation, his career, his future.

Things he can’t control this time around:

• His meddling grandfather

• His annoying gamer cousin

• Buggy South American jungles

• Being the meat in a feuding cartel sandwich

• Getting kidnapped by a monologuing drug lord

•Falling for the very hot, very mouthy ex-soldier from his past

In short, Carter’s peaceful, well-planned life has been… hijacked.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Private Player by Louise Bay

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Private Player 
(A standalone)

Publication Date: July 27, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Contemporary Romance

Author: Louise Bay

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A cute contemporary romance full of steam and lots of chemistry.

Private Player begins where Nathan and Madison meet at a wedding and their meet-cute turns into a very steamy one-night stand. Neither one ever thought they would meet again, much less that Madison would be the journalist who would be assigned to Nathan as the writer to turn around his playboy image. So far he is not off to a great start.

Madison needs her job at The Post and she cannot give up her new assignment just because she happens to know Nathan a little more personally than most people. They both agree to keep their one night of passion on the DL while she covers this expose, but will they be able to actually keep their hands, mouths, and other body parts to themselves as well?

I liked that they both needed each other to survive the otherside of the PR nightmare, while they were both fighting their attraction.

Private Player takes place in England so it is full of British terminology, that I actually enjoyed, but if that isn’t your jam you might want to skip this one. However, if you love hearing about knickers, jumpers, or lifts then this is for you.

4.5 stars overall.

Synopsis:

The first time I meet Madison Shore, I’m greeted by her knickers. She’s upside down and trying to untangle herself from my chair at a wedding.

I get to see a whole lot more of her later that night.

The second time I meet Madison Shore is in my London office. Turns out she’s a journalist writing an article about me.

To keep control of my company, I need to convince people I’m more serious about business than my playboy reputation suggests. Madison holds my future in her hands.

Now I just need to convince the woman I took to bed on Saturday night that I’m not the player everyone thinks I am.

Pre-order here – https://geni.us/PrivatePlayer

PrivatePlayer_Teaser-12.v2

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Serves Me Wright by K.A. Linde

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Serves Me Wright ; Wright #9 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: July 20, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Fake Relationship/Friends-to-Lovers/Contemporary Romance

Author: K.A. Linde

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Wine, friends, fake dating, and a large family round out this Wright book.

This is a book filled with interconnecting storylines that took two friends on several fake dates while they slowly fell in love.

Julian has always found Jennifer attractive, but never acted on it for several reasons, a big one is that he had a long term girlfriend, who is a bit of snobby witch, but now they are both free and he finds himself in the perfect situation to finally make his move.

Jennifer has had a crush on Julian since he moved to town, but the timing between them has never worked out, but when the opportunity arises for Julian to accompany her home for a family event and she can return the favor for a gala, their friendly status elevates to fake dating and then to more as “benefits” soon become involved, things soon get complicated.

I’ve loved reading K.A. Linde before and she’s bewitched me in the past, however I’m not sure if it was this story, or the chemistry between the characters or what exactly as this story didn’t connect right away with me. It was pleasant and I enjoyed all the characters, but I didn’t get that wow factor right out of the gate. This couple was slow to warm for being friends and having a history, but overall the story was a 4.5 read.

Synopsis:

A new stand alone fake relationship romance set in the world of the Wrights from USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde…

I never thought I’d say yes to a fake date.

Let alone with Julian Wright.

But I’m stuck attending my perfect brother’s doctoral graduation, and I can’t suffer through another round of parental disappointment. Julian has to go to a charity function he planned with his ex-girlfriend. We both need a date.

Yes, we shared one kiss in a darkened office to make his ex jealous. But it wasn’t real. Was it?

I’m sure I can get through this. Until we get to the house and there’s only one bed.

I’ve pined for Julian for three long years. More than my body is on the line…I need to guard my heart.

Because if I get hurt in our fake relationship, then it serves me Wright.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Out of Bounds by Claire Hastings

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Out of Bounds; Atlanta Rising Football Club #1
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: July 12, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Enemies-to-Lovers/Age Gap/Workplace/Sports Romance

Author: Claire Hastings

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars  4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A soccer focused romance with wicked chemistry brewing between two employees working for the Atlanta Rising.

Felicity Sutherland  wants the president job that was automatically handed over to her younger brother, who didn’t even want it. Her entire life is summed up in the word, overlooked, but it doesn’t’ mean she gives up.  She continues to work hard and strive for what she wants and nothing will stand in her way.

Gunner Gracin is the new head coach of the Atlanta Rising and a total nice guy to boot. He has a lot on his plate heading a new soccer team and finding out he has a twenty-something year old daughter that he never knew he’d fathered is almost enough to overwhelm him, but Felicity offers her help in making Talia feel comfortable and it has a way of opening Gunner up and their chemistry which was already high just goes to another level.

Felicity had a ton of tenacity and fire and honestly I went back and forth on whether I liked her or not. I completely empathized with her being taken for granted in the workplace. She’s working in a male dominated field and worked hard to get where she is, but I also felt her shrew-like attitude and lack of respect for those around her wasn’t quite the way to get respect for herself. It seemed that everyone in her life kept telling her to reign it in, but she justified it in her mind feeling that all men could be total dicks and get away with it, and to some extent, anyone can have a poor attitude and still be successful, but I wouldn’t put ALL men in that category.

Felicity’s dad is a major douche. Once you meet him you begin to understand why Felicity acts the way she does, along with other factors that pile up, and it totally softened my attitude for this woman. I want her to be the best at everything she can be and of course I want Gunner to appreciate her for who she is, which of course he does. There is a lot more to Felicity than she lets people see, for instance she helps out Gunner’s daughter and befriends her before really knowing her. It had nothing to do with Gunner, it was just helping her out because it’s what you do.

Now, Gunner…here is a big, strong guy who has just found out he’s a dad and his daughter is in her twenties. He’s the head coach of a new soccer team and should he really get involved with the team president’s daughter? Probably not, but he can’t seem to help himself. Once he gets to know Felicity and really sees all sides of her personality he opens up more and lets his own walls down, which is saying a lot since he lost his first wife years ago and never thought he’d fall again.

I can’t say I understood any of the soccer terminology (it’s just not a sport I watch – sorry), but having it in there didn’t throw off my reading or take away from the enjoyment. What I did enjoy was the interaction between the team members, as they were all so unique and since this was a new team, there is lots of potential for this series to go places. Overall a 4.5 read.

Synopsis:

Welcome to the Atlanta Rising Football Club, where the temperature isn’t the only thing turning up the heat…

Felicity Sutherland knows what people think of her. She just doesn’t care. Her attitude is her armor, and it hasn’t failed her yet. Thick skin and working hard in the male-dominated sports industry placed her dream job within reach. And as she vies to become president of the Atlanta Rising Football Club, there isn’t a competitor, or a distractingly handsome co-worker, that can get in her way.

The only games Gunnar Gracin has time for are the ones he coaches on the pitch. But life just keeps bending the ball, especially where the women in his life are concerned. The death of his wife over a decade ago was a devastating loss. Discovering an adult daughter from an encounter he doesn’t remember changed all the rules. And working for the frosty, sharp-tongued Felicity is downright infuriating.

But as Gunnar and Felicity spend more time together, the tension between them sizzles like a hot summer night. And the moment Gunnar gets a taste of Felicity’s smart mouth, he decides to throw the playbook out the window. If no one knows what they’re up to, giving in to temptation doesn’t feel so out of bounds. That is, until life gets in the way and the whistle is blown. Will it be a red card for Gunnar and Felicity’s secret romance?

Out of Bounds is a standalone enemies-to-lovers, age gap contemporary romance. Enjoy it on its own, or as part of the series, with no cheating and a guaranteed HEA!

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Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Suspense Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Tainted Blood by Cora Kenborn and Catherine Wiltcher

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Tainted Blood; Corrupt Gods #2
(#2 in a duet)

Publication Date: July 10, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Duet/Mafia/Dark Romance

Author: Cora Kenborn and Catherine Wiltcher

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars 4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
A tale not for the faint of heart. Full of brutality and lethalness, but at the heart a tale of love.

Santi and Thalia’s story continues in Tainted Blood where a lot of the book they walk their own path. Thalia has been kidnapped and Santi has to figure out not only who kidnapped his bride, but then how to rescue her.

Thalia certainly comes into her own in this story. There is no holding back while she’s kidnapped and Thalia has to come to terms with who she becomes and the consequences if she ever escapes. Will life ever be the same and can she go back to who she was before this nightmare?

Santi may have married his mafia princess for nefarious reasons, but now that she’s missing unknown feelings for his bride rise to the surface. He will stop at nothing to find her and bring her home safely, even if he has to set her free upon her return. The big question he has to face is if she will return when he does.

Santi and Thalia are from two families that have crossed paths time and time again, could their union finally end the bloodshed between them? Could their families finally call a truce? Will their marriage bind them forever or will it end things forever?

Tainted Blood is not to be read as a standalone as it’s part of a duet. 4.5 stars overall.

Synopsis:

𝙰 𝙲𝚊𝚛𝚛𝚎𝚛𝚊 𝚒𝚜 𝚊 𝚖𝚊𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚘𝚏 𝚍𝚎𝚌𝚎𝚙𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗.
𝙰 𝚂𝚊𝚗𝚝𝚒𝚊𝚐𝚘 𝚗𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚐𝚎𝚝𝚜.

Santi Carrera is the war I never saw coming.
A beautiful liar.
Ruthless.
Captivating…
The architect of my own undoing.

He twisted my loyalty into an ultimatum.
He chained me to his side with a vow of deceit.
I should despise him for all he’s done to me…
But behind those dark eyes, I see his pain.
I recognize his conflict because it’s ours to share.

Now, I’m a pawn in a new war.
Stolen by a stranger, I’ve been taken to a foreign land.
My fate rests in the fragile truce between our families.
They will tear this world apart to find me.
But he’s the only man who can save me.

*𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑖𝑠 𝑏𝑜𝑜𝑘 2 𝑜𝑓 𝑎 𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑑𝑎𝑟𝑘 𝑟𝑜𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑑𝑢𝑒𝑡. 𝐵𝑎𝑑 𝐵𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑, 𝐵𝑜𝑜𝑘 1, 𝑖𝑠 𝑎𝑣𝑎𝑖𝑙𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑜𝑛 𝐴𝑚𝑎𝑧𝑜𝑛.
**𝑇𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝐵𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑒𝑡 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑆𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑎𝑔𝑜 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐶𝑎𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑟𝑎 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑𝑠, 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑛𝑒𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑎𝑟𝑦 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑒𝑖𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑙𝑜𝑔𝑦 𝑏𝑒𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑒ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – The Sweetest Thing by Maya Hughes

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The Sweetest Thing; SWANK #2 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: July 1, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Roommates-to-Lovers/Contemporary Romance

Author: Maya Hughes

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A back and forth banter with lots of high and lows. Sabrina is a girl down on her luck and Hunter is a man completely closed off to pretty much everything so having someone move into his personal space is HUGE!! This new addition to the SWANK world brings it all; laughs, emotions, and tie ins to Maya’s other worlds.

Sabrina begins this book with her down-on-her-luck, really needs a helping hand, hates where her life has landed, but made me chuckle at it all – because haven’t we all been there. Wearing our worst outfit, no makeup, hair in a disarray, and that’s when you see someone you never wanted to see. That, in a nutshell, is Sabrina’s opening and I loved every moment of it.

Hunter, on the other hand, has never lived with anyone. No roommates in college, no roommates after college, no sleepovers with women, nothing , nada. Granted, he’s not a slob, or any such thing, he just has other issues. He is a man full of issues, but when his grandmother says he’s getting a roommate (after all it is her apartment he’s living in) he really can’t say no.

As a huge fan of Maya’s books my favorite parts were when characters from other worlds stepped in or were mentioned, afterall, SWANK deals with entertainment whether it is with sports, music, weddings, or hosting large events. The whole concept of SWANK works well as a tie in to lots of her other books and it brings me great joy every single time they crossover.

Hunter and Sabrina bicker and banter through most of the book, so it’s a slow burn for sure. Hunter has never really allowed anyone in, his friends included, so allowing Sabrina in is a huge step indead.

I would have loved to see Hunter break down some of his walls a little earlier, but that is just my personal preference. Sabrina is cute and quirky and I adore quirkiness and creativity in anyone, so I was rooting for her from the very get go.

4.5 stars overall due to Hunter not fangirling over Sabrina like I did.

Synopsis:

Goldilocks has gotten a bit off track. I found her in my room, my bathroom and my bathtub to be precise.

Sabrina Mason is my new roommate. My new unwelcome roommate. Not that I have a say about it since I’m babysitting my Grandma’s apartment, which means Sabrina’s here to stay. But we’d agreed my room was off limits.

It’s bad enough my nightmares are getting worse, but having her around me makes holding it together. Her smell, smart mouth and sexy a–anyway. I can’t let her get under my skin although it might be too late. In her sloppy bun and pajamas curled up on the couch, she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. But a relationship isn’t what I need right now.

It’s hard to remember that when she’s glowering at me when I’m being an ass. We’re forced to live together for only a few more month, I can hold out until I can’t.

She’s in my bathtub and she’s not telling me to leave. So I ask the question, “do you want me to go?”
And I’m shocked as hell when her answer isn’t ‘no’.

Sabrina Mason has invaded my apartment, my life and now my dreams.

My new roommate is hiding secrets and I should know, I have more than one or two up my sleeve.

I want to discover them all and I know when I do, it will be the sweetest thing.

Each SWANK book is part of a series, but they can each be read as standalones.

The Proposal (SWANK, #1) by Maya Hughes The Proposal (SWANK, #1)
https://www.goodreads.com/the_proposal
The Sweetest Thing (SWANK, #2) by Maya Hughes The Sweetest Thing (SWANK, #2)
https://www.goodreads.com/the_sweetest_thing
The Engagement (SWANK, #3) by Maya Hughes The Engagement (SWANK, #3)
https://www.goodreads.com/the_engagement
The Wedding Playbook (SWANK, #4) by Maya Hughes The Wedding Playbook (SWANK, #4)
https://www.goodreads.com/wedding_playbook

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Suspense Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Lachlan in a Kilt by Anna Durand

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Lachlan in a Kilt;The Ballachulish Trilogy #1
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: June 22, 2021

Genre/Tropes: International Holiday/Male POV/Age-Gap/Intrigue/Contemporary Romance

Author: Anna Durand

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
I don’t get many chances to read all male POV books, especially with a swoony accent. Lachlan is all that and a bag of chips, especially in his kilt.

Lachlan MacTaggart is visiting America and house swapping with a friend when he sees the bonnie lass next door.  Erica Teague enchants him from day one, but he’s only in America for holiday for a month and definitely not looking for a long term relationship, but when he meets Erica at a club he decides to approach her and at least try a short term engagement. Setting up boundaries, rules, and knowing that he is leaving should help any long term feelings, but things get a bit more complicated as time moves forward.

Told completely from Lachlan’s POV, I loved all of the brogue, Scottish slang, and Gaelic terms that he continually used. I’m a huge sucker for an accent, so I adore reading them. I especially appreciate when the translation or definition is closely provided since I’m also a huge fan of learning as well. Lachlan is quite the sexy Scot, but he’s damaged by his past relationships, hence why he’s not looking for anything long term even if he was staying long term. He’s a bit older than Erica, so he takes that into account, but it doesn’t hold him back in the end from actually getting what he wants, into her knickers.

There is an ever present mystery surrounding Erica, but a large part is due to this book being told from Lachlan’s POV. Most of the plot is centered around the good times in the bedroom and not necessarily the actual bedroom times itself. Allow me to clarify…remember this book is strictly told from a male POV and what do men think about 95% of the time…I’m sure you can guess.The other 5% Lachlan basically is living his life; taking phone calls, handling business or just day to day things. His mind is truly occupied with the female form; how to please it, where to please it, what to do with it… you get the idea.

This is my first book by Anna Durand and I truly loved her walk with a Scotsman.

Synopsis:

He’s hot, Scottish, and dangerous — to a woman’s heart.

Get ready for Lachlan MacTaggart’s story, coming in June 2021! Whether you’re a longtime fan of the Hot Scots books or you’re new to the series, you’ll love getting Lachlan’s version of Dangerous in a Kilt (Hot Scots, Book 1). Originally written from the heroine’s viewpoints, now the first three Hot Scots will be reborn and retold from the perspectives of the heroes themselves.

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Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Suspense Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Mafia King by C.D. Reiss

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Mafia King; DiLustro Arrangement #2 
(#2 in a trilogy)

Publication Date: June 15, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Mafia/Arranged Marriage/Dark Romance

Author: C.D. Reiss

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Mafia King is the middle story of this dark trilogy and it picks up right where Santino and Violetta left us on the edge of our seats.

Violetta is horribly upset after finding out she wasn’t Santino’s first choice, which is a turn from how she originally felt. Violetta is up and down and her emotions are all over the place as she continues to sort through what she learns about her place in Santino’s life.

We also learn more about Santino’s place in the mafia world and how he moved within that world throughout his life. Santino is definitely a complex man the more we get to know him, both his hard, beastly side, and his tender, caring side it’s easy to see why Violetta’s emotions shift as well.

I really loved getting a closer look into Santino’s life and I hope Violetta opens up and gets to know the man beneath the monster she makes him out to be.

If I had one complaint it would be that just when these two were getting along, Violetta would take a hard stance on what she felt was justice in a world she honestly wasn’t familiar with and throw their relationship completely out of whack. Yes, it would also create some serious heat between the sheets as they fought, but the extra plot around the smexy times was sometimes too much. It seemed to circle over and over again that the world they live in is based on tradition and you don’t break tradition and while Violetta was raised more American than traditional Italian, Santino tried to remind her that his business was something she shouldn’t mess with. While I understand both sides of their argument as it would come up, that argument just came up a lot. Personally, I enjoyed the moments that focused on Violetta and Santino learning about and focusing on each other, but that is of course my opinion.

As this is the second book in a trilogy, it does end on a shocking cliffhanger and will conclude in the third book. 4.5 stars overall.

Synopsis:

Santino is my king. My lover. My husband.

He’s the head of the Cavallo crime family and the moment he choked my vows from me, my life was bound to his.

I’m done fighting my fate, until I hear two rumors, and I’m shaken to the core.

One rumor about the past—that I wasn’t the first bride Santino took.

Another about the future—a new bride is about to be taken.

Changing the old ways is like dousing the flames of hell with tears.

But I married the devil himself, and when I vowed to obey, I lied.

Book two of three in the The Dilustro Arrangement.

Mafia Bride (The DiLustro Arrangement, #1) by C.D. Reiss

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

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When Sparks Fly 
(A standalone)

Publication Date: September 21, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Friends-to-Lovers/Close Proximity/Contemporary Romance

Author: Helena Hunting

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

When Sparks Fly is Hunting’s contemporary side mixed with her light humor. This had more of a realistic twist infused with Hunting’s fantastic romantic flare and dusted with her wit and charm.

This book takes two emotionally damaged people, given real life drama and solutions and then they still have to figure out if they are better off together or apart at the end.

Declan and Avery have been best friends since college and have been living together has roommates for the past couple years since graduation. They have been through a lot together, but have never dated or even crossed a line into indecent waters. They both have been able to put each other in a friendship box with absolutely zero trouble, but when Avery gets seriously injured and needs help with basic needs, some shall we say, lines have to be crossed just so Avery can use the bathroom or take a shower. The proverbial box is opened and it’s hard to close once things have been released.

Declan is there for Avery- 24/7 . As her caregiver, he will do or give Avery whatever she needs, literally anything to make sure she heals properly. He can’t even imagine what he would have done had she not survived her accident so he truly becomes a hovering, over protective stalker. While he knows it’s not healthy, he also can’t stop and while Avery isn’t in a place to help herself he’s fine, but when she begins to heal…Declan slowly unravels, but remember that opened box…yeah it’s trouble for both of them.

These two may have known each other for years, but when their relationship begins to change neither are prepared for the emotional pileup that is coming for them. Deck is a normal self-saboteur and Avery never lets anyone in emotionally. While these two think their friendship basis is strong enough to handle everything, hopefully it will be enough to withstand their heartbreaks.

This book is different than a lot of Helena’s other works, but it is still crafted with her great writing and fun wit. It’s a 4.5 overall only because Deck was a bit of a hard sell for me personally. I normally love Helena’s hero’s, even her jerky ones which I seem to love more (like Shippy), but again this was just my personal opinion on Declan.

Synopsis:

Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.

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Book Reviews, Suspense Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Calculated Risk by Marie James

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Calculated Risk; Blackbridge Security #5 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Security/Suspense Romance

Author: Marie James

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold StarsThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1368-6.jpg

 

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

We return to the security world of Blackbridge and all those hot men who make the world a better place.

Calculated Risk is a slow burning romance between Quinten Lake and Hayden Prescott, two very different people when you look at them from the outside. Quinten is a gentle giant of a man who is a problem solver covered in tattoos and a beard. He works with a lot of high profile cases, your hollywood starlets, government screwups, basically he has the patience of a saint when he’s able to come in and clean up all of their mistakes. Where as Hayden is a petite woman with a fiery attitude, but works as an accountant in her nine to five job and normally dates boring intellectuals.

These two most likely would never have met under normal circumstances, if it wasn’t for the home invasion that Hayden was a victim of which in turn caused her best friend to sign her up for a gun safety class at Blackbridge Security. 

Taking back control of her life isn’t easy and honestly, being the victim of anything traumatizing isn’t easy to come back from, however, a large portion of this story revolves around gun safety and taking back part of yourself. As much as I’d like to focus on the part of the story that was lacking around the suspense of why the home invasion happened (this was my tiny ding in my 5 star rating) and then later revolving around more of what was going on in Hayden’s life, I really, really respected everything else. With the way the world is going and everything in the news I truly enjoyed reading this.

I felt a true connection to Hayden and how she approached gun safety class. I’ll be honest, I was walking in her shoes. I felt everything she was, right up to the point of her handling a gun because I’ve never done this, but I could still imagine those same trepidations that she felt. I also respected Quinten immensely. He was patient and caring and very respectful of every woman who was in his class. As much as Quinten originally complained about teaching, he was actually the perfect team member to do it. 

Lastly, my favorite part is always revisiting past characters and of course my favorite among favorites is Wren and Puff Daddy. They are there as well as several other gorgeous team members. I’m also very excited for the next book because we get lots of hints dropped here and it looks to be juicy.

Overall read 4.5 stars

 

Synopsis:

As the fixer for Blackbridge Security, Quinten Lake is the man that comes in and cleans up after people make stupid decisions.

Which means he didn’t want to be the one teaching lustful women gun safety.

There were guys on the team better suited for the task.

Get in and get out, that’s his motto, something he lives by not only at work but also in his personal life.

And he could be doing just that if it weren’t for the internet.

But if #BlackbridgeSpecial wasn’t trending online he would’ve never met Hayden Prescott.

He wouldn’t be wondering why she won’t make eye contact with him.

He’s supposed to teach her the skills to protect herself, but his ego is encouraging him to be her means of protection.

She isn’t impressed, and he’s left wondering if she’ll ever open her eyes and finally see him.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – The Virgin Rule Book by Lauren Blakely

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The Virgin Rule Book; Rules of Love #1 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: April 16, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Friends to Lovers/Sports/Contemporary Romance

Author: Lauren Blakely

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold StarsThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1368-6.jpg

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A slow burn, with Blakely’s witty charm blended into this friends to lovers romance.

I will admit this was not my favorite Blakely book, it still held a lot of the elements I love reading in her books. The chemistry between Crosby and Nadia was off the charts, whether it was in or out of the bedroom this couple had it in spades. What didn’t hold my specific attention was some of the in between moments spent with the secondary characters. It wasn’t all of the time, but some of the time. I see great potential for spin offs, which is what I love about any secondary character, but this is just my opinion on this particular book.

Aside from that, I absolutely adored any time Nadia and Crosby were together. They were engaging, swoony, funny, all the things I love to see in Blakely’s characters. While this was a slow burn to the final ignition, they lit the fuse early in how they got there and watching the final countdown was rather exciting.

Crosby has called off dating all women and even though Nadia has been a friend since they were early teens, he never really considered her as more. Perhaps its because he’s always dated the wrong women and now that he’s detoxing he’s finally seeing her clearly. While he’s on the wagon it seems like the wrong time to start anything with Nadia, but it may also be the most perfect time ever.

Nadia is taking a break trying to find a good man to date. She’s never really had any luck…well ever. She’s still fully intact of her V card, but now that Crosby is giving her all of the perfect signals, it could be the perfect time to finally punch that card.

A 4.5 star read overall for all of the steamy, friendship, and worthy moments that fill the pages.

Synopsis:

A sexy, brother’s best friend sports romance from # 1 New York Times bestseller Lauren Blakely!

Let me make a few things clear. I didn’t go to the wedding intending to dance with the best man, to dare him to show me a very sexy pic on his phone, or to accidentally kiss him in the hotel elevator after the reception ended.

But you know how it goes. Things just happen at weddings…

The next day, Crosby and I agree to put all those shenanigans behind us. The fun-loving, stupidly gorgeous, all-star baseball player might be my brother’s best friend, but he’s my friend too and has been for years, so it’s easy to move on, especially because I have a high-profile business to run.

But since he’s newly single and I’m always single, it turns out we both desperately need plus ones. We agree to “publicly date” over the next two weeks of galas, parties and events before his baseball season begins.

The only trouble is the more time I spend with Crosby, the more I keep imagining how much I want him to take my V-card.

And when I broach the possibility with Crosby, his answer surprises the hell out of me.

Preorder this standalone :

✦ Kindle ➜ https://blkly.pub/VirginRuleAmazon
✦Apple ➜ https://blkly.pub/VirginRuleApple
✦Kobo ➜ https://blkly.pub/VirginRuleKobo
✦BN ➜ https://blkly.pub/VirginRuleNook
✦Google ➜ https://blkly.pub/VirginRuleGoogle
✦Audible ➜ Sign up for an alert for this Teddy Hamilton & Erin Mallon audiobook: subscribepage.com/LaurenAudio

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Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Twisted Cravings by Cora Reilly

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Twisted Cravings; Camorra Chronicles #6 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Dark/Mafia Romance

Author: Cora Reilly

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A mix of mafia and street racing, this was not only a new trope mix for me, but also a new author.

I enjoyed the banter between Adamo and Dinara, she had a ton of moxie, but I’d also expect nothing less of a Russian mafia princess. While Dinara could have fallen either into a sheltered woman persona, I liked the brazen-outspoken girl, afraid of nothing better. Dinara is a woman not afraid to take on a man’s sport and she jump into Adamo’s world seeking knowledge that had been kept from her under her fathers rule.

While this is the first time for me entering Cora’s world, I could see the history and understand Adamo’s resentment at always being left behind and feeling like the little brother, even when he pulls in his weight. Adamo runs his own world by running street races. There he is king, but in a grander circle he has to answer to his older brothers. At what time will he feel like an equal? It finally sinks in that around Dinara he does.

I enjoyed this mix and finding a new author to boot. This will not be the last time I venture into Cora’s twisted world.

Synopsis:

As the youngest brother of the notorious Falcone clan, Adamo grew up surrounded by blood and violence. Drugs soon became his way of coping.
Becoming a Made Man like his brothers was his destiny but never his passion. When he becomes the organizer of his family’s successful illegal street races and one of their thrill-seeking drivers, he finally asserts his own path in the harsh mafia world.
His purpose isn’t the only thing Adamo discovers on the fuel-soaked roads he calls home…

Dinara Mikhailov is the only female race driver and hard to ignore. Not only because of her flaming red hair and ruthless driving style, but also because the Bratva princess is allowed to drive in enemy territory.
Soon Adamo and she find themselves entangled in a passionate game that goes beyond the race track. Yet, both haunted by events in the past, their dark cravings put everything on the line.

As what they crave the most, comes with a brutal price.

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Book Reviews, Paranormal/Science Fiction Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – A Discovery of Secrets and Fate by Sawyer Bennett

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A Discovery of Secrets and Fate; Chronicles of the Stone Veil #2
(#2 within a series)

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Sci-Fi/Paranormal Romance

Author: Sawyer Bennett

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Return to a world where magic and unbelievable is real, and a foretold prophecy may mean the end of the world.

We left Finley and Carrick upon the discovery of some horrific news at the end of the first book. I was really excited to jump into the second chapter of this brand new world, but honestly the first half of the book was a little slow. However, I didn’t give up because I love the entire premise of this entire series and the second half is where all of the action really lied where it ends on another cliffy and lots of tension.

While the first half of this book was a bit drawn out, the second half made it worth reading.

Here’s why:

✔A new world is introduced and we get to visit it!
✔New characters that really spark the storyline!
✔Carrick and Finley’s chemistry is completely reignited and lit!
✔The plotline moves quickly until I’m left wanting more!

Left hanging now with book 3 looming in the wings, I’m salivating for more information after learning a ton in the second half of this book. What felt like dragging feet in the beginning, with a rehashing and zero spark between Carrick and Finley, I wondered where we were going for five books if this was going to involve any relationship at all, finally-once I hit the juicy bits and reached the end, I’m hungry all over again and ready to jump into the next book.

While I feel that Sawyer could have chopped this entire series down without making a five book series, I also don’t like telling authors how to do their jobs, especially since we are nowhere close to the end of this journey yet, so I’ll try my best to be patient while I wait for all of the information to come and piece it out while it unfolds.

Finley still has a long way to go in discovering who she really is, she’s just discovering her powers and to what extent those powers can really do. She’s also just beginning to trust the circle of people around her and what it means to open that trust. It could help or hurt those that she lets in, and that is what makes this book exciting as each new person comes closer, their life it truly in danger.

I’m looking forward to where the journey heads in the next book, a true breaking point for all players involved, or a fork in the road where difficult choices have to be made. My mind is awhirl with options and where this journey will head, but no matter what, that the ball is rolling and I hope Sawyer keeps the momentum going.

Synopsis:

Life as I knew it ended the day I accepted my fate.

In its place is an existence even the wildest imagination could never fathom. Strange creatures walk among us, plotting our demise, and I’ve come to find that the fate of our world rests squarely on my shoulders. We’re all in danger and I’m trying to figure out how to make it through each day.

The key to my survival is a man I can’t figure out. As dangerous as the darkest fae, I have no choice but to work with him to stop the prophecy that’s foretold to be the ruination of mankind.

Carrick Byrne continues to be my only source of information, but he doles it out as he sees fit. He intrigues and scares me in equal measure, yet I can’t help but be attracted to him. And the more I discover about him, the more it becomes clear he feels the same.

As we travel to Faere in search of answers, we find that every piece of information leads to more questions, that every question leads to a new piece of the puzzle, and that, most importantly, no one can be trusted.

The more secrets we uncover, one thing is certain— if we have any chance of saving the world, we have to do it together.

A Discovery of Secrets and Fate is book two of the Chronicles of the Stone Veil series and is best enjoyed if read in series order.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – The Knockout Rule by Kelly Siskind

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The Knockout Rule; Showmen #4 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: February 24, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Sports Contemporary

Author: Kelly Siskind

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

 

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A slow burn romance that takes a look at the boxing world and the importance of family. 

Eric Kramarovsky, also known as Brick Kramarov which is his boxing personality with a Hulk like tagline of “Brick Smash”. Eric has a brutish public persona to keep up appearances which is completely opposite to his actual high IQ and sweet personality. The persona of “Brick” weighs on Eric though most of the book and also drags on Isla who has trouble with the boxing world to begin with. As they get to know each other more he’d love to walk away, but Eric needs boxing to save his family, which means “Brick” stays and it’s a fine line to a budding relationship. The love Eric has for his family is so sweet and it’s really hard not to like the guy.

Isla grew up with a heavyweight famous father and hates the world of boxing. She watched as the career he loved took away his marriage and slowly took away his health all in the name of his profession. Isla appreciates the dedication it takes to be an athlete, but she will never understand boxing and the men who destroy their bodies. So when her father asks her to help with one of his proteges, Eric,  she really can’t say no, even if she desperately wants to since her dad is the one who helped fund her new business. There are a few times that her pushy nature is a bit much, but then you get an inside look as to why she is the way she is and you get sympathetic, understanding her intentions and giving her a little leeway for her attitude.

As much as Isla tries to avoid her attraction to Brick, there is something about the sweet man behind the persona he projects to the world. The more time they spend together the more she likes him, but can she give up her fears of the sport that took so much from her already?

Some of the story dragged, and I can’t place why because I was drawn into the connection Eric and Isla have for one another, and I don’t mind a slow burn romance, but there were times I wanted to push them along faster, if that makes sense.  While this doesn’t make it a bad read or one I didn’t enjoy, it was just something that made it less than a five star book and pushed it to a 4.5.

 

Synopsis:

Siskind’s latest slow-burn romance is stay-up-all-night addictive and proves love hits when you least expect it…

Growing up with an adoring father for a boxing legend isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It looks more like hospital visits, bloody noses, and cracked ribs.

Isla Slade now works as a physiotherapist, helping athletes heal their bodies. Except for boxers. She has no interest in reliving the stress of her teen years. Dating someone in the boxing world? She’d rather snort wasabi powder.

Until she meets Preston Church.

Preston manages heavyweight boxing darling Brick Kramarov. A brute who’s built tougher than his name, with a cocky attitude to boot. She wants nothing to do with either man, but her father begs her to help them prepare for a huge Vegas fight.

She doesn’t expect Preston to recite romantic poems and slowly break her resolve. His fascinating mind gets under her skin, even if his star athlete reminds her how much she hates boxing.

Too bad it’s Brick coaching Preston how to woo Isla, falling for her from the sidelines. Once she finds out, she’ll have to decide if she can risk loving another man who puts it all on the line for the knockout.


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Book Reviews, Bully Romance, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Away Game by Harlow Layne

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Away Game; Willow Bay #1
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: February 4, 2021

Genre: MM/Bully/College sports romance

Author: Harlow Layne

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

This is a story about two boys who struggle with their feelings toward one another. It’s a bit different in a bully book, as it falls more into hazing/bullying at the collegiate level, which honestly broke my heart. I’ll also say this book lifted my spirits all at the same time as it talked about discussing your feelings and finding a mentor which I highly admired.

Away Game focuses on two boys, one who is openly gay and and one who is not. Fin has only ever been with girls and isn’t exactly attracted to boys, but he’s highly attracted to West. That’s a huge problem not only because West is gay, but also West attends the rival high school that took away the football championship. Fin is able to stay away from West during high school and hopes to never see him again once he goes to college, but Fin isn’t that lucky, especially when West is the RA checking him in at orientation.

Fin struggles not only with his feelings, but the emotional abuse of his non-supportive family and verbally abusive father. Fin knows deep down that even if he wanted to recognize any sort of feelings for a man, his father would never allow it, so what’s the point. Fin is by far tougher on himself and comes across as a total a** to everyone in his life, but it’s a defense mechanism so he doesn’t have to pick liking anyone and then having to drop them when his family finds out.

West didn’t grow up rich like kids at the rival high school he played football against. Now that he’s at college and has a fresh start, he’s hoping for a good year. When Fin shows up at orientation, the one kid who openly hates him from his hometown, West just realizes his wish changes and now wants to survive the year.

West and Fin never thought they could form a friendship, much less something more. Considering Fin is confused and basically disgusted with his own feelings everything is twisted up between them, even friendship for a long time, but when other guys on campus set their sights on setting West “straight” it isn’t long before Fin and the other guys in the house they live in all rally around and a strong friendship forms between everyone.

I really admired the friendship between all of the players on the football team and the relationship between the coach and his players. This was a really good book that delved into discovering yourself before you jumped into a relationship. It was light on steam for that very reason, but made sense for the overall story.

Synopsis:

A M/M, bully college sports romance.

The plan was to move away and never look back.

Get away from him, out from under my father’s disapproving stare, and start a new life in Willow Bay.

It was supposed to be my fresh start, but instead my past followed me.

The one thing I desired and couldn’t have.

Weston Jackson.

I hated how he made me feel things that I couldn’t give into without turning my world upside down.

I wanted to make him pay.

For the way my father now looked at me. For the way I saw myself.

But most of all… for wanting him the way I did.

This is a full-length high school and college enemies-to-lovers and new adult romance with high angst, suspense, and gutting emotion. It’s book one in the Willow Bay series that will have interlinking storylines. Away Game can be read as a standalone and starts off a three-book planned series. This is the only MM story. The others are MF.

Releasing February 4th! Pre-Order your copy today!
🏈Amazon Universal: https://readerlinks.com/l/1607343
Grab it early on February 2nd in:
🏈Apple Books: https://readerlinks.com/l/1607347
🏈Google Play: https://readerlinks.com/l/1607352
🏈Kobo: https://readerlinks.com/l/1607351
🏈Nook: https://readerlinks.com/l/1607349

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Book Reviews, Paranormal/Science Fiction Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Ancient Enforcer by Katie Reus

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Ancient Enforcer; Ancients Rising #3 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: January 26, 2021

Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance

Author: Katie Reus

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

This was my first time in this dragon shifter world and meeting Mikael and all of the supernatural beings in this book made this an exciting, fun read.

Mikael and his brothers awoke to a new world, which was very different than when he went to sleep thousands of years ago, but as he acclimated to this new time, he was happy to have a certain female in charge of that acclimation, as she may be his mate.

Avery doesn’t believe in love as she watched her parents marriage fail. When Mikael lands in her life she does her best to ignore his sexy dragon body and it should be easy since dragons and humans can’t mix, can they?

On top of the swirling feelings between them, Avery’s stepmother is on the hunt to kill her, a dark evil is swirling about the city she loves that may be out to hurt everyone she cares about.

I enjoyed the multiple POV’s while reading, it kept the action moving and guided the main characters on their path towards finding their happiness together. It lead many possibilities towards where the next books in the series could go.

This was my first time reading Katie Reus and even though this is book three in the series I had no trouble jumping in and beginning with Ancient Enforcer.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, text that says 'An ancient warrior dragon determined to protect WHAT'S HIS.. ANCIENT ANCIENT NFORCER EN FORCER KATLE KATI REUS REUSREUS REUS'

Synopsis:

An ancient dragon warrior determined to protect what’s his…

Former general Mikael lost everything thousands of years ago. His clan, his family, his honor. Now he’s awakened in a new world that has devolved into chaos—fire, blood and destruction. He and his brothers are ordered to live with Avery, a human female, and her younger brothers. Avery is nothing he should want. She’s too soft, too sweet…too happy. But he can’t stop his growing obsession with her.

The human female who threatens his jaded heart…

House flipper Avery is no stranger to heartbreak, and knows that the ones you love most can stab you in the back the quickest. When she’s asked to shelter a bunch of dragon shifters, her instinct is to say no. Until she meets the ragtag group of males who are struggling to adjust to the new world. Against her better judgment, she agrees to take them in. Even if the gruff Mikael has heartbreak written all over him, she can’t help but fall for the sexy dragon a little more every day. But when a threat from her past emerges, promising to tear her world apart, things suddenly change between them. As they race against the clock to save her family, Mikael must risk everything and claim her before it’s too late.

ANCIENT ENFORCER, the third title in the Ancients Rising Series!

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Book Reviews, Paranormal/Science Fiction Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – The Revelation of Light and Dark by Sawyer Bennett

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The Revelation of Light and Dark; Chronicles of the Stone Veil #1 
(#1 within a series)

Publication Date: February 9, 2021

Genre: A five book urban fantasy/paranormal romance

Author: Sawyer Bennett

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

An intriguing look at a new world that includes Fae and Gods and a grouchy anti-hero.

In a world where Gods play games and humans are mere pawns, Finlay discovers there is more to her world than just living as a fraile mortal. Growing up believing she was crazy, seeing the unbelievable, in fact she’s surrounded by Fae, daemons and other creatures that walk not only earth, but other realms beyond this world.

As happy as she is to discover she’s not mad, it’s overwhelming to discover she possesses powers that no one seems to understand, much less the grumpy pain in the a** Carrick who might also be something else, but is unwilling to share more of himself.

Pompous, conceited and rich, Carrick holds all of the power in their odd dynamic and while he desires to know everything about his new toy he also snears at her very existence. It’s unfortunate that he needs her to help save his own because he’d rather just stay away.

Finlay needs his help in her business life and in this new world she’s just discovering. The more she learns the more she realizes that she can’t walk it without knowledge and unfortunately Carrick seems to know it. If he doesn’t get her killed first she may get the answers she seeks, so as much as she’d like to walk away everytime he treats her less than the bottom of his shoe, she may get what she needs from the egotistical jerk.

This is book 1 in a 5 book series.

Synopsis:

I always knew I was different.

From a young age, my mind has been plagued with things only I could see. Some hauntingly beautiful, others completely terrifying. Never knowing if these visions were real or just hallucinations, I learned how to lock them down and ignore them. I learned to take solace in the relative anonymity of city life and find peace in the rainy days my city of Seattle is known for.

But just when I think my life is getting on track and my dreams are achievable, a moment of weakness causes me to learn a hard and fast lesson.

My entire existence has been a lie.

Now I’m faced with a new reality that’s as implausible as it is fantastical. Filled with realms and veils, light and dark, fae and daemons, gods and angels—things I don’t understand but am forced to acknowledge. It doesn’t help that the man teaching me about my unique gifts is the gorgeously handsome Carrick Byrne, one of Seattle’s richest and most powerful men. He intimidates, annoys, and intrigues me all at the same time. I don’t trust him and yet there’s no one else to help me.

No longer certain who to put my faith in, what to believe, or how I fit into it all, one revelation is clear…

The world as I know it will never be the same again.

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