Review
Book Reviews, New Adult, Suspense/Intrigue Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – The Revenge by Tijan

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The Revenge; The Insiders #3
(#3 within a series)

Publication Date: September 13, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Trilogy/New Adult/Intrigue Romance

Author: Tijan

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
This is the third and final book in the Insider trilogy. I won’t beat around the bush…I had a hard time diving into this last book, or perhaps I should say, I had a hard time staying focused during this final book.

For the first 60% of the book the story lagged. Honestly, there just wasn’t a lot of meat to hold my interest. However, the final 40% of the book is where the action and culmination of everything really lies. Once I reached this point I couldn’t put the book down, it just felt like forever until I reached it.

Did I love the ending…yes. Was everything tied up…for sure. Were there more twists to get there…no doubt. However, it just takes a really, really long time to get there.

I did enjoy the moments with Bailey and her brother Matt or Batt as the two of them call themselves when they are out sleuthing together. I have enjoyed watching him grow throughout the trilogy and become less of a douchebag.

Overall, I did enjoy the this book since it ties up the whole trilogy, but it did lag in spots. A 4.5 read overall.

Synopsis:
The Revenge is the taut, edgy, sexy, explosive conclusion to The Insiders trilogy by New York Times and USA Today bestseller Tijan!

Bailey and Kash were used to living in the shadows. Now they are thrust into the public eye. Together, they can do anything, but undeniable danger and seemingly insurmountable challenges threaten the love and passion that binds them.

1. Bailey is reeling from the greatest loss she has ever suffered.

2. Enemies are closing in.

3. Even bigger secrets and twists are coming to light.

Win or lose, for Bailey and Kash, everything is on the line.

The series must be read in order for the best enjoyment:

The Insiders (The Insiders Trilogy, #1) The Damaged (The Insiders Trilogy, #2)

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Bad Girl Reputation by Elle Kennedy

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Bad Girl Reputation; Avalon Bay #2
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: October 4, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Second Chance/Contemporary Romance

Author: Elle Kennedy

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
The beginning of this book is toxic. Evan and Gen are not likeable, but as the story progresses, I gave a lot of credit to Genevieve and the determination she had to walk away from a life that was familiar and comfortable to her. The only one she’d ever known and where her entire family still lived. I enjoyed the strength that she recognized that if she didn’t change her life, her habits, and the toxic way she was living that she was only headed for disaster. It’s only when Genevieve comes back, after a year away, that she gives in a little bit mind you, unable to stay away from the man who was still living a destructive life that Gen actually makes him see the light about his life as well.

While these two struggle in their reconnection, for multiple reasons, I still stand by…I did like the strength in Gen transforming herself into a better person.

Evan is one of those heroes that is not very likeable in the beginning, but as the story progresses, and he comes out of the toxic fog he was living his life in, I enjoyed getting to know the new Evan. You see, Evan was happy living in his bubble and didn’t see anything wrong with his life or the toxic decisions he continually made. Thankfully he does wake up and begin to make major changes, while still holding on to his charm that originally won Genevieve over years ago.

I’m really glad that I stuck with this story and didn’t give up when I didn’t fall in love with everyone right from the get go. This is a book where the main characters experience big character growth while making those big life choices. While I do love to get lost in fiction, this has a nice balance of both.

Synopsis:
Bestselling author Elle Kennedy returns to Avalon Bay in this sexy second chance story about two exes who can’t stay away from each other, Bad Girl Reputation.

When former bad girl Genevieve West returns home for her mother’s funeral, she’s prepared to keep her distance from her ex-boyfriend, Evan Hartley. Their history is rife with turbulence. And passion. A heck of a lot of passion…which she’s trying desperately to forget.

But it’s impossible not to run into Evan in the small coastal town where they once ran wild. And the moment she sees her gorgeous ex again, it’s clear to Gen that Evan is still as unruly, sexy, and irresistible as ever. This time around, however, she’s resolved to walk a new path. No more partying. No more foolish mistakes. Her plan is to temporarily remain in town to help her father run his business, but the second he finds somebody else, she’s out of there.

Evan has other ideas. He knows they can be good together, but he just has to convince Genevieve of that, even if it means turning over a new leaf himself. But can a bad reputation ever truly be shed? Do second chances really work? Genevieve and Evan are about to find out.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Hey, Mister Marshall by Saffron A. Kent

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Hey, Mister Marshall; St. Mary’s Rebels #4
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Age Gap/Guardian-Ward/Forbidden Romance

Author: Saffron A. Kent

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Hey, Mister Marshall was the slowest burn out of the St. Mary’s books in the series and it also took several different turns that I wasn’t expecting, which is always a good thing as a reader. Keeps me turning pages so I can find out more.

I think for series fans, readers will adore this book, it’s the culmination of St. Mary’s, plus Saffron drops a few hints of what’s to come in a future series. However, there were times that both characters, and I’ll mainly say Poe, but then I’ll also put onus on Alaric because he is older and WTF, where her juvenile and childlike behavior was just too much. I didn’t see the appeal, but maybe that was the attraction and everyone has their thing…sooooooo.

This is an age gap, that is no secret. Mr. Marshall is Poe’s guardian and he’s approximately seventeen years older than her. He hasn’t been her guardian for long before he sends her to St. Mary’s and their relationship is pretty non-existent up until he arrives to take over as the Principal, which makes Poe angry for several reasons. I won’t list them all out, but the moment he sends her away he also leaves the country and he’s gone for three years. It makes it hard to get to know your guardian when he isn’t around.

They both have emotionally stunted backgrounds, but as they now have proximity and time to uncover this attraction what once was a simmering dislike and annoyance of being shackled to each other turns into something more. While uncovering years of misinformation and anger that’s where the emotional depth and passion really lies in the story. It’s also in the small moments of reconnecting with past characters and in the crumbs of the future.

This is a big book, but the small moments make up that add tension and build that slow burn make it all worthwhile. A 4.5 star read overall.

Synopsis:
At eighteen, Poe Blyton’s life is in shambles and the reason is Alaric Marshall.

After her mom’s death, he appeared out of nowhere and became Poe’s controlling guardian. When she protested his tyranny, he had the audacity to send her away to an all-girls reform school. A school full of iron clad rules and regulations.

But at least she’s graduating soon.

Until Alaric himself arrives at the school as the new principal and takes that away from her as well.

That devil.

He’s really asking for it, isn’t he?

And Poe is going to give it to him.

It doesn’t matter that her sworn enemy has the prettiest dark eyes she’s ever seen. Or that he looks really, really good in his boring tweed jackets. So much so that she wants to rip them off his body and see what’s underneath.

Because scorching hot or not, her new principal or not, Poe is going to ruin Alaric’s life.

NOTE – This is a STANDALONE set in the world of St. Mary’s
St. Mary’s Rebels #4

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Book Reviews, Bully Romance, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – A Vicious Rumor by Ivy Wild

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Vicious Rumor; Kings Academy #1
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 27, 2022

Genre/Tropes: New Adult/Bully Romance

Author: Ivy Wild

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Not your typical bully romance. This is a coming of age, soul-mate love story.

Tyson “Rock” Stone is the school’s bully. His life is basically a mess, but his one shining light is when he met a girl named Lily White. She saw something more in him than just the broken boy he is and for the first time in his life he felt like more than just the mess and mistake that he is currently called.

Tyson doesn’t make friends, he doesn’t connect with anyone in his life, so when he meets Lily his entire world lights up. However, he quickly realizes that his messed up life could tarnish hers so he pushes her away. This actually changes the trajectory of their relationship and sends Lily down a different path.

Lily strikes a deal with Zachary “Scissors” King, one of Tyson’s arch nemesis. That deal is supposed to bring her back into Tyson’s life, instead it only seems to tear them further apart. She begins to wonder if the tears in their relationship can ever be repaired and perhaps she misread how close they actually were.

Their story is angsty and full of bumps, but has lots of bright highlights too. I love Lily’s relationship with the seniors at the senior center and Luca “Paper” is super intriguing, also if you’ve noticed the theme of the nicknames; Rock, Paper, Scissors – yes there is a meaning behind those, but I’ll let you discover it for yourself.

Synopsis:
Lily:
The first time I met Tyson Stone, he gave me a bloody nose.
He didn’t mean to hit me, he was fighting this other kid, but let’s just say I’d take the pain of his fist over his cruelness any day of the week.
Five years after this incident, and I’m in his shark tank.
His domain. His kingdom. His prep school.
Freefalling for him is a recipe for disaster, but that’s what happens nonetheless.
Then he starts pushing me away for no reason, but there’s one thing he forgets.
I’m not one of his disposable flings. I’m worthy, I’m a catch, and if he doesn’t realize it…well, then his arch-enemy will.
Dating the guy he hates the most could backfire.
But I’ve always been good at playing with matches.

Tyson:
My life is a series of calamities strung together by blood and bad press.
Wherever I go, trouble follows.
Now, normally I’m not a charitable guy, but when I pass on Lily White’s delectable body, it is entirely for her own good.
Call me an altruistic jerk, but I just don’t want to see her hurt.
That’s until she starts dating the guy I loathe more than anything else in the world.
That’s when all bets are off.
We’re playing a dangerous game, her and I.
The rumors are starting to swirl, and so are some dangerous thoughts about what I can do to her.
Lily White is out of my league,
but apparently, that’s not going to stop me.

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

Review – Matchmaking a Billionaire by A.R. Casella and Denise Grover Swank

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Matchmaking A Billionaire; Mayberry Matchmakers 
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: April 28, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Romantic Comedy/Small Town Romance

Author: A.R. Casella and Denise Grover Swank

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Matchmaking a Millionaire had its ups and downs. There were moments I was completely tuned in and empathetic to the characters plight, then there were times I really struggled to engage. Overall, it was a good interconnected beginning to the Mayberry Matchmakers series.

Bryn Mayberry says to herself over and over that she’s a cold woman and it comes across the page. It’s only when she’s interacting with Rory that she lights up and isn’t a Debbie Downer, for lack of a better term.  As the last Mayberry sibling willing to work alongside her Nana, Bryn Mayberry takes all the criticism, grief, and lack of empathy as Nana is not only a hard business woman, but also a cold-hearted woman in general. Bryn fears becoming her as she ages, but she also can’t seem to stop the swan dive over a cliff, that is until Rory Byrne walks into her life. A man she’s supposed to matchmake with someone else. Bryn lights up around Rory and those are the moments I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Rory Byrne didn’t step foot into Mayberry Matchmakers looking for love, he’s a businessman and he actually went there to start a matchmaking app. Nana Mayberry saw an opportunity and wasn’t about to let him leave without without matchmaking him herself and so the story unfolds. Thank goodness for Bryn stepping in and saving him from all of her Nana’s plans, who truly is a horrible person, but somehow she steamrolls over everyone to always get her way. Back to Rory and Bryn, they do light up the pages as they get to know one another and…holy smokes….the hot nerd is on fire when the clothes start to disappear. Rory is kind, generous, super smart, oh and did I mention his bedroom skills? Yeah, total package.

So like I said, the story has really good moments with others that I struggled through, but overall a really good start to this new town of Highland Hills, with more couples already lined up. Matchmaking a Billionaire is an interconnected series with other characters from past series popping in or mentioned, but it’s not pertinent to read those books, this is a complete standalone.

Synopsis:

He’s everyone’s dream man but hers.


Bryn

I used to believe in what we do at Mayberry Matchmakers, but now? Love is just another four-letter word.

Too bad my grandmother hasn’t gotten the memo. When tech billionaire Rory Byrne approaches us, wanting to develop the matchmaking app my sister and I dreamed up (and Nana shot down), she jumps at the chance. My grandmother is nothing if not opportunistic.

Of course, there’s a catch. She’ll only do it if Rory lets us matchmake him the old-fashioned way.

He’s going to say no.

Please God, let him say no.

The last thing I want to do is matchmake an entitled rich jerk…especially one who looks like sin and talks a good game.

***

Rory

I’ve screwed up in love a few times, but I never screw up in business. Mayberry Matchmakers has the idea for something amazing, and I have the money and the experience to make it come to life.

I should deny Nana Mayberry’s condition. If I let them matchmake me, it’ll be all over the news, and making headlines has never interested me…especially not after the personal betrayal that nearly broke me. But I’m having trouble caring about what I should do, because Bryn Mayberry is smart, snarky, and not the slightest bit impressed with me.

Actually, this may be Mayberry Matchmakers’ easiest job yet.

Pre-order your copy today!
Apple Books: https://apple.co/3IDctE4
Nook: https://bit.ly/3Hx5Q4I
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3sBxQzM
Google Play: https://bit.ly/3CbDjjX

Available in Amazon and Kindle Unlimited April 28th
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3CaHZ9T
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/MatchmakeaBill

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/35tX6PL

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Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – King of Spades by Alta Hensley

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King of Spades 
(#1 within a series)

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Twisted Fairytale/Dark Romance

Author: Alta Hensley

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Take a dive into the Alice in Wonderland theme, but add in ton of dark twists and devious turns.

There is no hiding that I love the Morelli and Constantine Midnight Dynasty world. Every author that has contributed to it has captivated me with their story(ies). I was eager to read what Alta’a dark words were going to add, especially since she was stepping into the Morelli world. While King of Spades held promise, unfortunately it was the actual Morelli heroine that just fell short of a homerun for me.

Lyriope is an illegitimate heir of Bryant Morelli. Hidden in the shadows her entire life, even her famous cousins and half-siblings do not know of her existence. However, there is one man in the city, Nick Hudson, a man who runs his business on information, that does know who her father really is and he will not hesitate to use that information to his benefit.

Lyriope and Nick begin this story with a lot of good tension, she’s terribly naive and he’s very worldly, but more than that, she seeks him out for help in the sticky situation she’s found herself in. Basically running from one bad situation into the arms of another bad man, but on the grounds that he sets her blood on fire and the other party doesn’t, she decides the devil you know is the better choice. Makes sense.

What I didn’t particularly care for is that Lyriope is basically a brat and not in the good sense of the word to build tension. Nick takes her in when her life is in danger and at every turn she’s ungrateful, indigent, and childish. At first I sympathized with her emotions, but as the book went along and Nick was once again explaining her life threatening situation and Lyriope was still just rude, honestly I probably would have let her go and told her good luck. (I also had to remind myself that she sought him out and not the other way around, so a lot of her ungrateful words started to get under my skin.)

However, this book isn’t all bad. The steamy chemistry between them is high, but mainly because Nick distracts her harsh words with other activities, wickedly delicious activities. There is good suspense on the mystery of who is trying to capture and hurt Lyriope as well. Nick will not stop until she is safe, but that in itself creates a quandary because once she is, what will become of his queen.

A point of note, this book does end on a cliffhanger and will return again in Queen of Hearts. A 4.5 star review.

Synopsis:

Nick Hudson has a dangerous reputation.

That’s what I need if I’m going to survive.

Desperation makes me seek out a ruthlessly powerful billionaire.

I need protection.

He demands my virtue as payment.

I’m falling into a world of luxury and sin.

With every twist and turn, I need more.

Except this is not a man to love.

This is a man to fear.

His obsession grows. So does the threat, until I’m trapped in a world of depravity. I’ll need more than Nick’s strength to survive. I’m going to need his heart.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Cease Fire by Marie James

Cease Fire; Blackbridge Security #9 
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: April 7, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Contemporary/Intrigue Romance

Author: Marie James

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Blackbridge is back and Kit Riggs is dreamy and steamy.

Kit has had a crush on Jules for most of his life. Everyone in his orbit knows about it, especially the woman herself and as much as Kit has fantasized about Jules and wishing for a future with her, everything comes crashing down after a weekend spent with her.

My heart wept for Kit through this entire book. Here is a guy who has always dreamed of having a family and taking care of a wife, specifically with Jules in that role, and she tramples all over his heart and dreams repeatedly. Kit is the ideal man, he’s loving, tender, but also a total freak in the sheets and Jules didn’t appreciate him at all.

Over and over again Jules showed an ugly, manipulative side which did not give way to any sympathy from me, which constantly had me wondering what exactly Kit saw in her. While there were brief flashbacks to when Kit and Jules were younger it still didn’t paint her in a better light, so I was left wondering at what point Kit fell irrealicogibly in love with her.

On a side note; while this story is taking place, Brooks gets sucked into Jules manipulative scheme, and I feel horrible for him on every level, but it does give a peek into his storyline, which I’m terribly excited for.

Along those lines, I do love the brotherhood that continues to take place between Kit and all the Blackbridge men. I’ve always loved how all of these men look after each other and work together. My favorite will continue to always be Wren, well him and his foul-mouthed bird, Puff Daddy. Wren’s meddling and no-filter ways, along with the adoration he has for his girlfriend, Whitney, is truly heart melting, honestly, it’s how all of the Blackbridge men are.

While Jules might not be my favorite heroine of all the women in this series, I adored Kit. He’s pretty much the perfect man, inside and out, which makes my dislike for Jules not appreciating him even more, but….this book is totally worth it for Kit alone. A 4.5 star read.

Synopsis:

Making something off-limits will always make that thing more appealing.

Jules Warren, my sister’s best friend, was no different.

She has been the leading lady in every fantasy I’ve had since I was a teenager.

There was no way I was turning her down when she invited me to her room.

Those fantasies? They had nothing on the real thing.

I was given the weekend to make my dreams come true.

The ramifications, however, will last a lifetime.

Keeping a secret is one thing.

Living with the lies is impossible.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Shenanigans by Sarina Bowen

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Shenanigans; Brooklyn Bruisers #11
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: March 15, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Sports/Fake Marriage/Roommate/Billionaire Romance

Author: Sarina Bowen

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Waking up married in Vegas was just the catalyst to all the shenanigans that began Neil and Charlie’s (Cornelius and Charlotte) love story.

Lord do I love Cornelius as a name! LOL

What begins as a “what did I do last night” kind of story, turns into a fake marriage, friends to lovers, and so much more, sports romance. Neil and Charlie are friends and hockey mates. While Neil plays for the Bruisers, Charlie plays for the female equivalent team, Bombshells, for the same organization. When they were in Vegas for an all star event, one thing led to another and well….the rest is drunk married history.

Sarina Bowen writes romance and comedy that blend perfectly together with all the humility and steam that a romance titled Shenanigans needs and typically I LOVE Bowen’s books, but this one took a bit to grow on me. The chemistry between Neil and Charlie was just off. Neil wanted her desperately, but he was a gentleman through and through and while Charlie found Neil attractive, she was so hung up in her pride and bitterness that she couldn’t see through to the man who was in love with her right in front of her face.

I will start by saying that I completely understand where Charlie was coming from. Her feelings were totally justified, but…she literally slept with her bitter pride instead of snuggling up to the hot man next to her. Charlie respected that he stayed on his side of the bed and didn’t touch her. Ok not all romantic books need smexy times, but it also didn’t help raise the chemistry meter at all, but let’s move on. Charlie also wasn’t happy for her teammates, who actually were happy, that there was a packed stadium to watch them play after the news of her marriage came out. Sort of a me vs. team caring moment and that also made me like her just a tad less. What I’m getting at is basically, she never enjoyed the small moments and that honestly began to take away the enjoyment for me. It’s one thing when a character is grumpy and grouchy, but I like to see the armor crack in small doses. I enjoy seeing the sunny character break through and get under the grumpy characters skin. Neil did his best and Charlie is prideful to a fault, I wasn’t sure what he saw in her except a way to irritate his uncle, but perhaps I’m being too hard.

It’s truly not the plot that bothers me. When I’m reading I want to escape. I understand that Charlie is playing in a man’s world and feels weighed down by all of the inequity of what that brings. She’s bitter about being told to appreciate her opportunities and her lot in life. I get it, I truly do. However, her bitterness takes away from the chemistry that should be building between Neil and herself. She never allows it because it’s this huge weight between them. The inequality is always there and she wears it like a huge bolder. While I understand what happens in the real world, I see and live it everyday, however, I read to escape this horrible reality. Having Charlie point it out every other page was just not enjoyable and honestly I liked Neil’s POV a million times better.

Sooooo,this was a shenanigan good time, mostly. A 4.5 read overall.

Synopsis:

What I meant to do in Vegas: Let my hair down for once and celebrate winning a medal at my first women’s hockey all-stars competition.

What I actually did: Got senior prom drunk and woke up married to Brooklyn’s star winger, the great Neil Drake.

He’s the heir to a billion dollars, and I barely survived my childhood. Our friendship is based strictly only on hockey, takeout food and smack talk.

And now holy matrimony. Although we both know it can’t last, especially once his evil family gets wind of our Vegas shenanigans…

Contains: Meddling teammates, meddling parents, ugly jewelry and a pretend-kiss that nearly sets the world on fire.

Releasing March 2022! Reserve your copy today!
Amazon: https://geni.us/AmazonShenanigans
Apple: https://geni.us/AppleShenanigans
Kobo: https://geni.us/KoboShenanigans
Nook: https://geni.us/NookShenanigans
Google: COMING SOON!
Audio: COMING SOON!

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Fall For Me by J.H. Croix

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Fall For Me; Light My Fire #4 
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Friends-to-Lovers/Small Town/Contemporary Romance

Author: J.H. Croix

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Fall For Me is a quick read, low angst, small town romance. It’s filled with a lot of friend and family reunions since it’s been almost twenty years since Archer’s been back home.

Archer and Phoebe were childhood friends, but he moved away back in fifth grade. However, to their friendship it’s like no time has passed at all. When Archer calls Phoebe to ask for a favor, that favor also happens to work out well for Phoebe as well.

Archer needs to get married to take over his part in the family business so asking his old friend, Phoebe, was a no brainer. The fact that she needed a plus one to her ex’s wedding was just a bonus to his plan, but when their fake relationship starts to feel not so fake, they both let their feelings fall.

Synopsis:

A brand new firefighter series from USA Today Bestselling Author J.H. Croix!

Problem: My ex is marrying my ex-bestie.
Plan A: Burn the church down?
Plan B: Fake marry my friend.

I haven’t seen Archer since fifth grade. When he shows up in our small hometown and offers to marry me, I don’t ask many questions. I get to salvage my shredded pride and do him a favor.

I only need one thing from him—sell the deal when my ex comes back to town to marry my ex-bestie. Now I’m fake-married to a totally hot guy who needs a wife for *reasons*.

I’m way too cynical to fall for anyone, but Archer’s hard to resist. He keeps telling me we’re just faking it, but trust me when I tell you, there are some things we are not faking.

This was never supposed to be real. Until he whispers, fall for me.

Archer & Phoebe’s story is perfect for readers who love: Marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, slow burn, broody secret billionaire, small town gossip, emotional romance with a dash of angst, plenty of steam and swoon, and a hero with a protective streak a mile wide.

*A full-length, standalone romance

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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

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

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?

Synopsis:

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, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Kiss and Tell by Maya Hughes

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Kiss and Tell; St. Francis U #1 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: January 6, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Sports/New Adult Romance

Author: Maya Hughes

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A new NA sports series by Maya Hughes…YES!!

💜All new guys to love who live in the Zoo (the football players house)

❤The chemistry between Reid and Leona

🧡All new crazy, fun traditions at a new university

The relationship between Reid and Leona was electric from the beginning and meeting all of the new characters that will take up residence at STFU was fun and exciting. I feel that is always the hardest part when stepping into a brand new series, getting to know the new characters and setting up the world around them. Maya did a great job of exciting me about what’s to come while still keeping the plot moving on the primary storyline.

Both Reid and Leona faced a tough situation with Leona being the daughter of the university’s president and Reid being a member of the football team. I won’t sugercoat it by saying the STFU’s coach is anything but a giant dick. The coach doesn’t like anyone, especially the president, so when Reid and Leona venture down the path of a relationship, I just say…this book is ripe with tension.

I’m looking forward to more from this series, especially the next couple, it looks like an enemies to lovers full of heat and passion.

Synopsis:

“Wouldn’t most guys love a no strings attached hook up?”
“Maybe, but most guys don’t deserve you. I want to be one who does. And I want to be all tangled up in your strings.”

Newly arrived on campus, I knew two things. 1) No one could know my dad was the president of the university and 2) football players were bad news.

My run in, the literal kind with my neighbor cranked up the heat and sparks flew.

A new college campus. A secret bound to explode in my face. And a football player neighbor who is bad news in the best of ways.

Reid Riddick was hotness personified, so of course I literally ran into with him–well, more like he plowed into me.

I didn’t know he was a football player when I started falling and now I can’t stop. A stolen kiss later and my heart races whenever he looks at me from across the quad.

But my secret would spell disaster for him.

I’m the daughter of the college president. The college president who’s been feuding with his football coach for years. Their bitter campus war leaves us teetering on the edges of a divide we can’t see a way across.

Resisting him is more than I can handle. He’s risking it all for me. His team standing. His football season. His pro future.

Throw in a campus gossip site. My out of control new friends. His way too hot roommates. College traditions. A secret campus bar and the only guy who’s ever made me feel like he can’t live without me. And I have one last secret.

Our star-crossed love is my first and I want him to be mine.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Chasing Fire by Emery Jacobs

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Chasing Fire; Twisted Fate #3 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: December 16, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Contemporary Romance

Author: Emery Jacobs

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A contemporary romance with drama, a hot single dad, and smexy bedroom times.

Chloe Ryan is no wallflower when her father arranges her marriage to his best friend’s son, but no matter how hard she pushes back her father continues with the wedding plans.

At the end of her wits, Chloe turns to comfort in the arms of the most unlikely man, a man with his own problems. Colton “Fish” Fisher is a single dad just making sure his own life doesn’t fall apart, but when he meets Chloe he feels an instant connection. However, does he have time to add another woman to his messed up life?

I like that these two work on solving their own problems, but all the people in their lives who make them difficult are horrible human beings. However, Colton’s little girl is adorable so she makes up for those awful people.

A 4.5 read overall.

Synopsis:

I’m basically American royalty– daughter to a former Senator and heiress to a fortune.

And princesses marry princes. My father has arranged for me to marry his best friend’s son without my knowledge. Now I’m engaged to someone I don’t even know– a man who was supposed to be my sister’s husband.

I know what’s expected of me. Unfortunately, this princess has fallen for a pauper.

Colton Fisher is a single dad struggling to get by. He runs an art studio and works as a tattoo artist at one of the local shops. Before I know what’s happening, love between us has ignited, and I’m consumed by the flames.

Except that inferno between us has caught fire, and now I’m carrying Colton’s baby.

Pregnant by one man and engaged to another, I’m caught between pleasing the family who raised me and being with my soulmate.

I have a choice– the perfect life, or the perfect love. If I don’t make the right decision, I might end up getting burned.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Screwed Up by Harloe Rae

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Screwed Up; Bayside Heroes #2 
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: December 13, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Contemporary/Opposites Attract Romance

Author: Harloe Rae

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A sweet, contemporary romance filled with fun dates and a no-string relationship that becomes so much more.

Larson approaches Dane for a no-strings arrangement to let off some steam from her high pressure job and Dane is the new security guard at the hospital that would normally not be the type of man she would date. This makes him the perfect man for not getting attached since he’s all about fun and not settling down.

Larson Belle and Dane Owens come from two different backgrounds and lead very different lives, but could Belle keep her Beast even if that wasn’t the agreement to begin with?

Their relationship moves pretty quick, but it is a no-strings relationship after all. Larson and Dane are steamy and have their own kinks, which was nice to see the buttoned up Dr. Belle loosen her lab coat.

This is a standalone story, but it does weave through the other characters of Bayside and what they may be going through in their own relationships too. It was nice to know who’s who, but not necessary to follow along in this particular storyline.

Synopsis:

“He might be wrong, but I’m tired of being right.”

The extreme focus on my career has led to a lonely existence.
I don’t make time for much beyond the hospital walls.
And the pressure is getting to me.

Those who know me best highly recommend I take the edge off by any means necessary.
As it turns out, the new security guard at Bayside Regional is just what the doctor ordered.

Dane Owens is a disaster waiting to happen.
Maybe that’s why I can’t look away.
He plays fast and loose with no plans of slowing down.
Especially when it comes to dating.

We’re polar opposites, which is precisely why this arrangement is temporary.
But there’s plenty to keep us occupied until our expiration date.

All I need is for Dane to follow the rules that long.

A Bayside Heroes standalone romance.

December 13th: SCREWED UP by Harloe Rae

❤️ Hospital Security Guard

❤️ Opposites attract

❤️ No-strings arrangement 😏

Get an alert when each book is live!

smarturl.it/BaysideLiveAlert <

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Book Reviews, Suspense/Intrigue Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Washed Away by R.C. Boldt

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Washed Away 
(A standalone)

Publication Date: December 7, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Suspense Romance

Author: R.C. Boldt

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Washed Away begins right away with mystery and intrigue and slowly builds into the suspense and passion.

A woman washes up on a beach in Panama covered in bullet holes and knife wounds and Dr. Liam King nurses her back to health, but this mysterious woman, upon waking, has no memory of how she arrived upon the shore nor her past or even her name.

Weeks go by until she finally has a recollection of her name or at least one that feels right, but her memory still reveals nothing about her past. Dr. King and Alexandra’s relationship is slow going at first until it finally erupts in a volcanic flame some in part to her healing and some in part to the underlying mystery of the story. However,  once these two give into the passion that’s been building between them it doesn’t stop and it’s hot, but their story is also more convoluted than just a lost memory.

Washed Away is a slower brewing story than Boldt’s last romantic thrillers, but I’d also say it’s filled with more passion and contains more intrigue and emotions as well. A 4.5 star read overall.

Synopsis:

USA Today bestselling author RC Boldt brings us a sizzling romance chock-full of intrigue and deceit in this brand new romantic suspense…

All that’s forgotten isn’t always gone…

I’m at death’s doorstep when my body washes up on shore in Panama.

My memory is a blank slate. I can’t even remember my name. I don’t know who shot me and left me for dead—or why.

Patient and kind, the lone doctor there mends my body while offering me refuge.

As tiny flashbacks of my past occur, I wonder if there’s anyone I can trust.

It’s up to me to discover whether I’m in danger or a danger to others. Whether I’ve actually found love or if it’s all been a lie.

I need answers to find out who I really am.

If only I could remember.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Beautiful Submission by Ivy Wild

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Beautiful Submission 
(A standalone)

Publication Date: December 3, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Captive/Submission/Enemies-to-Lovers/Age Gap Romance

Author: Ivy Wild

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars4.5 stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

This is not a typical BDSM romance. This is a slow burn romance with a lot of psychological elements where love isn’t earned through paddles, but control.

Aubrey Knight is the daughter of a senator. She has grown up in a fake world and has never really known what it’s like to be herself. Is she a brat? Yes, she is pretty good at acting out, but when it’s the only way to gain attention in a world where she’s never known love, and it’s the only thing she knows.

Xavier Payne is a man all about control and order. When he barters a deal with the senator and Aubrey is the collateral. Xavier uses the time Aubrey is isolated in his home to fix the broken girl, but he never thought she’d turn the tables on him and crack his ice filled chest open with all of her fire.

While these two would seem like complete opposites; a bratty, spoiled girl vs. a polished, controlled man. The more time they spend together and melt each other walls, they find out they may be more alike than they ever would have guessed.

Fire vs. ice is the underlying theme throughout the entire story, but will fire melt the ice or will the ice put out the fire? These two are opposite and don’t give in easy, it’s a true battle to find any happiness, but neither have really experienced happiness in their lives to know it is possible and should be important.

This is a slow burn, so don’t get frustrated by the back and forth. In a true enemies to lovers that push and pull makes that slow burn bubble and boil until it steams up to the perfect temperature.

Synopsis:

Xavier:
My truth is control.
My truth is that good is rewarded
and that bad is punished.
Aubrey Knight thought she could disrupt my business
and get away with it.
But, she was sorely mistaken.
So, when her father lost the election
and came to me begging for money I struck a deal.
The little brat would serve as collateral until the loan was repaid.
She thinks she can test me.
How laughable.
She will submit to me,
and it will be a beautiful submission.

Aubrey:
I will never submit to him.

Beautiful Submission is a complete standalone romance with age-gap, enemies to lovers, captive and BDSM themes

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Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Mafia/Gang/Secret Society Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Den of Sin by Eva Winners

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Den of Sin; Belles and Mobsters 
(A prequel-standalone to a new series)

Publication Date: October 29, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Holiday/Mafia/Dark Romance

Author: Eva Winners

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

The Den of Sin starts off with a sinful bang!

Vasili Nikolaev is the head of the Russian syndicate in NOLA, a spot he inherited when his father passed. Nothing he exactly mourned, but I get the feeling that is the general consensus in these mafia families. The tough exteriors and hard lives make it tough to be liked, even within their own bloodlines.

There is a huge age gap between Vasili and Isabella, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting the man, the brother of her best friend and college roommate. While Isabella never makes her feelings known to her friend, Vasili is well aware that the young woman wants him and uses it to his advantage.

There is a long standing feud between their families, one that Isabella has no knowledge of, but one that Vasili easily takes his revenge out on because of Isabella’s crush on him. It’s one he regrets years later, but one that may be too late.

Five years pass and they reunite, much to Isabella’s dismay, but as the story goes on, we realize that escape may have never been possible to begin with.

This plot is mixed and twisted with lots of families and introductions to lots of players in the Belles and Mobsters series that is coming up in the coming months and new year. While there is talk of dark play, it’s all talk and no action, not to say their steamy moments aren’t hot, but it’s not full on D/s.

With some plot threads left open, most likely to tie up in other books, and perhaps I was looking for a little more sinning in the den, this was a 4.5 read for me.

Synopsis:

Vasili Nikolaev.
Dangerous. Deadly. And most of all, devastating.

He’s the king of New Orleans.
Ruler of the Russian mafia and my best friend’s oldest, mouthwatering brother.

On Halloween night my last year in college, I gave him everything. My body. My heart. My soul.

He burned it all to the ground with the first ray of dawn.

Lessons learned. I’ve moved on. Now, five years later, I have a career I love, a boyfriend. But Vasili is back in my life again. A temptation I don’t need.

One thing is for certain. Nikolaev always settles the score.

He’ll destroy everything and everyone, including my boyfriend.

The question is… What is Vasili’s end game? Will he destroy me all over again or will I be the Phoenix rising from the ashes he left behind and take what I’ve always wanted? Him.

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Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Erotic Romance, Mafia/Gang/Secret Society Romance, Suspense/Intrigue Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Tease Me Once by W. Winters

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Tease Me Once; Shame on You #1 
(#1 within a series)

Publication Date: October 26, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Suspense/BDSM/Dark Romance

Author: W. Winters

Review Rating: 4.5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A dark, intensely passionate story shrouded in mystery.

Declan Cross is a dangerous man, the devil in fine clothing, sin incarnate. He’s currently walking a fine line on tracking down an informant for the FBI, making sure his family stays safe, and falling for the woman who is quickly stealing every thought and possibly becoming his everything.

Braelynn needed a fresh start and her best friend, Scarlet, suggested a job at an exclusive club. Braelynn never thought she’d fall for the owner, a man she once knew as a sad, beaten down by life boy. Declan is no longer that boy, but an intimidating man who ignites her world and opens her up to pleasure beyond her imagination.

While these two share intense passion, they don’t share honesty. There are secrets between them that may destroy everything…and this is only the beginning to their story.

Hot times, domination, BDSM, and dark moments make up the first part Declan and Braelynn’s book. A 4.5 star read.

Synopsis:

From USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling romance author, W Winters, comes a provocative tale of a club designed for wealthy sinners. It’s a story crafted for those of us who crave the villain.

Not everyone knows about The Club, which is by design. The main floor entertains the elite. There are dim lights, stolen touches and the liquor flows to ensure the guests get exactly what they want. There are high profile clients, cuffs and collars, contracts and secrets in every corner.

But it’s what lies beneath these floors, down the spiral staircase, that intrigues me the most.There’s a man who stays in the corner of the darkest rooms. In this world of sinful tastes, he is the ruler, the devil, the boss. Declan Cross.

I knew him once when times were different and the years have changed everything.

He makes me an offer, one that speaks to the very soul of my desire. One I can’t say no to and one that changes everything.

Tease Me Once is the beginning of a series. Prepare for everything seductive and beautifully dark.

Add to your Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2UuOx1j

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Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Mafia/Gang/Secret Society 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 Fi/Fantasy 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/Intrigue 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/Intrigue 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/Intrigue 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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Review
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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