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

Review – The One Month Boyfriend by Roxie Noir

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The One Month Boyfriend; Wildwood Society #1
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Contemporary/Opposites Attract/Enemies-to-Lovers/Small Town Romance

Author: Roxie Noir

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Silas and Kat are long standing enemies, always at each other’s throats, so how did they come to an arrangement of being boyfriend and girlfriend? When they both have a common enemy that they want to take town, that’s how.

Kat wants to get back at her ex and Silas really enjoys getting under the skin of said ex, plus he needs a plus-one for work events so for him setting their differences aside for one month to achieve all of their goals is all a win-win.

Neither ever thought spending time together would heal the huge cavern between them, nor would they ever have expected to begin healing their own souls. And prepare for one of the steamiest, nakey scenes…whew!! Hot, hot, hot.

Interconnected to the Loveless series, but completely a standalone in a new world, Silas is best friend to Levi Loveless and is brother to June (now Loveless).

Where the Loveless series definitely fell into the romcom genre and just felt overall lighter, this particular book had a heavier weight to it. It covers a lot of topics that have substance and depth which balance out the romance aspect. Since this is book one in a new series, I’m curious if this will be the theme for each book, balancing the heavy with the light. I can’t wait to find out.

Synopsis:
It’s a simple agreement: for one month, Silas is my boyfriend of convenience.
Once this is over, we’ll go our separate ways. It’s fake, after all.

I need some arm candy to prove to my ex-fiancé that I’ve moved on.
He needs his old-fashioned boss to think he’s ready to settle down.
Perfect, right? Except for one minor detail: we can’t stand each other.

Silas thinks I’m a stuck-up ice queen. I think he’s a cocky, obnoxious jerk who’s always trying to charm his way out of trouble – and succeeding.
He’s the beloved golden boy. I’m the awkward new girl in town.

It would be the worst idea ever, except… everyone falls for it.
That’s the thing about pretending to date someone: it looks just like real dating.
And the other thing about pretending to date someone? It feels like real dating.

The heated kisses in my office: fake.
The possessive way he touches me: fake.
The night we spend together in a hotel bed: …maybe not so fake.

One month. Then this charade is over.

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Review
Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQA+, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Unwanted by Marley Valentine

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Unwanted; The Unlucky Ones #1
(#1 within a series)

Publication Date: May 21, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Second Chance/Addiction/MM Romance/Found Family

Author: Marley Valentine

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
A very emotional, second chance at life, at romance, at a new beginning.

Unwanted isn’t just a story about foster kids finding love, or finding support, or their new family. It’s a combination of all of that plus it’s a deep look into the heart of addiction and forever journey on the road to recovery.

I’ve shared before that I will read anything and jump into any trope, I basically have zero limitations when it comes to reading romance. However, like any human being there is one topic that can sometimes push me just a little too far and that is drug abuse. My family has lived through this nightmare with my brother and it never fails to reopen those wounds again every single time. So while I gripped the pages and prepared my heart to read Unwanted, I am proud to say that Marley Valentine wrote a beautiful story that didn’t cut open old wounds, but instead filled my heart with overwhelming love. She captured the heartbreak during addiction and poured out the guilt and shame that both men felt during that dark time. It’s easy to forget that drug abuse is a shame spiral that only gets worse to hide a bigger issue. Everyone’s issue is different, but at the heart of addiction there is always one and Marley doesn’t gloss over it or take this issue casually.

What I appreciated more was how this book tackled recovery. It was a beautiful reminder that every addict and their support people eventually find a point where they are filled with pride and love and that everyday is a process and everyday is still a journey. While love doesn’t fix every problem, nor should it be to an addict, it’s a hug, or a safety net, or a reminder to your loved one that you are there for support. Marley couldn’t have written a better roadmap for the emotional journey of addiction, with a side story of romance, than she did in this book.

Let me take just a moment to talk about the actual romance because it is integral, but it also feels like a side character to everything else. Arlo and Frankie’s love is a second chance romance, but it is steeped in heartbreak and history. They grew up in the foster system and fell down the addiction road together, but when it came to getting out Frankie did and Arlo took a darker path. Unwanted contains all of their foster siblings and several real life issues that makes this a very touching story. While this could have been overwhelming with so many secondary characters it actually wasn’t and I’m looking forward to returning to this world and reading more about each one.

I know I hardly touched on the romance aspect in this review, but like I said, it was seamless and just blended into everything else. It’s hard to dissect when it’s connected to the darkness and light of everything else so I’ll let you discover their second chance and encourage you into reading this story instead.

Synopsis:
Two halves of a whole, Arlo Bishop and I were both unwanted kids brought together by the foster system. Dealing with the aftermath of neglect and abandonment, we grew up side by side and found solace in one another.

We wanted.

We needed.

We loved.

Desperately.

But somewhere along the way, Arlo wanted and needed and loved drugs more. So, I did the only thing I could and broke my own heart to save his.

Now, four years later, I’m back in L.A. and face-to-face with my past. Not only does the pain and hurt of our mistakes linger between us but so do our feelings.

I didn’t plan on a second chance—fear of history repeating itself making it hard to forgive and even harder to forget. But with only one touch, one kiss, I was taken back to where it all started.

Two halves of a whole, Arlo and I were made for each other. But we were no longer the unwanted foster kids.

We were grown men.

And I wanted nothing more than him.

Releasing May 21! Reserve your copy TODAY!
US: https://amzn.to/3Cq3y6s
UK: https://amzn.to/3vRjiy9
CA: https://amzn.to/3pQJF3k
AU: https://amzn.to/3HT7vSs

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

Review – Nothing Feels Better by Brit Benson

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Nothing Feels Better; Better Love #3
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 23, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Age Gap/Single Parent/Contemporary Romance

Author: Brit Benson

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
I don’t know what I was expecting with this book, but it was so much better than and hit me with so many different emotions that I was blown away and completely captivated by this beautiful story.

I didn’t remember Jesse’s character well from the prior books, but it’s also been a hot minute since I read the last book, with that being said, Nothing Feels Better can be read as a complete standalone and this world and all the characters will still make complete sense.

Jesse Hernandez is fun, flirty, and full of energy and he’s finishing his undergrad and will soon be heading off to med-school in the fall. Jesse has this zest for life and he’s a giant ball of energy, it’s impossible not to like him. When he meets Joselyn, a single mom, with the cutest kids who are drawn to his big ball of happiness it’s really hard to say no to him. Even when she tries to brush him off, understanding she’s overwhelmed with life, Jesse finds he can’t stay away either. He is drawn to Joss like he hasn’t been drawn to anyone else in a really long time.When he sees an opportunity to help, because he actually loves her adorable kids, it allows him time to spend with her and spend time with his emotional support pirate – yes, it’s super, cute thing – so it’s a win-win.

Jocelyn is tired, working to support her two children, going to school to get a better job, and really doesn’t have time to date, but saying no to the enigmatic man who continues to show up and help, which is more than she can say for her ex, well, it’s almost difficult, especially when her kids adore Jesse. She knows she can’t have more than a few weeks with him, he’s leaving for medical school after all, but maybe a few weeks will be enough to last a lifetime. She truly prays it will be enough.

Not only are Jesse and Jocelyn perfect in their growing relationship, which has a lot of emotional pains, but Jocelyn’s children…be still my heart, they are the frosting, sprinkles, and sparklers on top of this delicious story cake. Jude who’s four and June who is eight are the absolute best and the total heart of this entire story. My eyes were misty, or I was busting out laughing every time they were on the page and they were integral to the plot.

Jesse has tons of swagger, but he’s not cocky. He’s compassionate and understanding without being condescending. Jesse is the full package. His found family fits perfectly into Jocelyn’s life and her sweet children adore him and his friends. As June tells him Jesse’s superpower is loving everyone around him and it radiates from every pore.

I could go on and on about him, the brilliant children and how much Joss needed something wonderful in her life, but instead I’ll finish with Nothing Feels Better is one of those books that swoops in when you don’t expect it and can leave a lasting impression. It’s very well done.

Synopsis:
Jesse Hernandez has infiltrated my life.

The gorgeous, exciting, genius of a man who hangs out next door.
Who happens to be younger than me.
And in college.
And heading to medical school in just a few short months.

It started innocently enough.
The occasional run-in.
A few chance encounters.
An offer to babysit.
An offer for…more.

But then it snowballed.

Now, I only know two things for certain.
One, for the first time in my entire life, I’m not an afterthought.
And two, this will end very, very badly.

My kids. My job. His future.
It’s all at risk.

Jesse Hernandez has infiltrated my life, and if I’m not careful, we will all be in tatters when he leaves.

****

Nothing Feels Better is the third interconnected standalone in the Better Love series by Brit Benson.

This single-parent, opposites attract romance is sassy, sexy, and has a guaranteed HEA.

It is not necessary to read the other books in the Better Love series in order to enjoy Nothing Feels Better

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Review
Book Reviews, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Broken Ties by L.A. Cotton

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Broken Ties; Rixon High #4
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 19, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Sports/New Adult/Friends-to-Lovers Romance

Author: L.A. Cotton

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
A super, angsty slow burn between two best friends.

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to fall in love with not only your best friend, but the best friend that is so interwoven into the fabric of your lives that your parents are best friends, your friendship circle consists of each others friends, that everywhere you turn there is another reminder that if you take that leap and allow your heart to fall and it doesn’t work, there is no escape from the heartache? Yeah…that is the very precipice that Aaron Bennet and Poppy Ford stand upon.

Broken Ties is full of angst. A back and forth that if I was a teen, I’m not sure my own heart would have survived.  Aaron and Poppy grew up together, their parents are best friends, so these two have literally been side by side and formed their own deep friendship. It is only as they reached their teenage years, as the added hormones and body changes arose that feelings started to change, but neither really said or did anything until their senior year. It’s a preverbal straw breaking Poppy’s back that finally springs her into action and she decides that she is no longer going to wait on the sidelines for Aaron to notice her as more than just a friend as her senior year passed her by.

Poppy decides to go out with another boy who has shown interest in her. Finally deciding she’s had enough of waiting around for the one boy she’s ever loved to take notice of her. Eli is nice, sweet, funny, everything she could want, except at the end of the day he’s not Aaron. Doing her best to make the most of her last year in high school she’s determined to enjoy it, even if Aaron drives her crazy with his whiplash.

Does he take notice? Yes and no. He’s always noticed her, but remember my first paragraph. He has a really hard time with separating Poppy the girl he grew up with from the girl he is in love with. Aaron is a good kid and he really wants to do what is right, but sometimes the right thing is more of a detriment to his greater good. Aaron’s senior year is not going like he expected and I love this side of the story that shows even with the best parents, decent grades, the right extra curriculars, and doing all of the right things that even what looks perfect on paper, well…sometimes not everything is actually perfect. L.A. Cotton never fails to bring a very real aspect to every story and this part of Aaron’s life is very relatable.

Lastly, it’s hard not to mention the moments on page with Jason Ford, Poppy’s dad, as he definitely has a special bond with his baby girl. Practically every time he was in the story I was weeping.  As a coach and father, Jason always has the best intentions of those around him whether he was with his daughter or doling out advice for Aaron. Every moment he popped up really made me miss my dad something fierce. That’s a rare treat and I appreciate Cotton for bringing him to life.

Broken Ties is another wonderful addition to the second generation of Rixon High and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Synopsis:
From USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author L A Cotton, comes a slow burn, friends-to-lovers romance. Angst… drama… friendship… and football. Will you survive senior year?

Poppy Ford has been in love with her best friend forever.
But she’s firmly in the friend zone and fears she may never get out.

Aaron Bennet has been dreaming of a football scholarship forever.
But he’s not the Rixon Raiders star player, and he never will be.

While Aaron is focused on proving himself, Poppy is hoping he’ll finally wake up and see what’s right in front of him.

He doesn’t want to lose his best friend.
She doesn’t want to lose senior year to a boy who doesn’t want her.
But fate has other ideas for them.

And when hearts get broken and dreams get shattered, will their friendship be strong enough to survive?

Or will the ties that bind them finally unravel?

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

Review – Bloody Cruel Psycho by Lucy Smoke

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Bloody Cruel Psycho; Sick Boys #5, Bloody Duet #1
(#1within a duet, #5 within a series)

Publication Date: May 20, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Duet/New Adult/Dark/Anti-Hero/Enemies-to-Lovers Romance

Author: Lucy Smoke

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Dark and not for the faint of heart, but I like dipping my toes into this kind decadent treat from time to time and Bloody Cruel Psycho fed my twisted heart.

Braxton Smalls is full of darkness and revenge. He sets out to gain leverage over the man he’s searching for by kidnapping his sister, Clover. Braxton didn’t account for his kidnapee being mouthy, fighting back, or inciting his monster’s lust, so when she offers up herself as a deal in place of her brother, Braxton’s monster agrees.

Clover is no wallflower. She too has an inner monster, so when Braxton comes to take her she doesn’t hold back. She never expected to feel her inner darkness swirl to life as much as it does around him, it seems to crave him, but could they be too toxic for one another to last beyond the deal they made?

While this is my first step into the Sick Boys world and it is a connected story, this is still Braxton and Clover’s very own tale. I was never lost as the other characters came in, nor as backstories flowed in around them. Lucy brilliantly pieced this as a standalone, well technically a duet, and while reading, I was never the wiser that other books came before this. I loved how the other characters flowed in and out, pushing and prodding the main characters along. Brilliant anti-heros, the bunch of them.

Since this is book one in a duet, there is a mighty cliffhanger. I can hardly wait to dive back into to this twisted, dark world to find out what happens next to Braxton and Clover.

Synopsis:
A life for a life … will kill the both of us in the end.

Clover

I know nothing of the Sickness at Eastpoint University. I know only the backroads that slip past the southern beaches and the gators that make their way onto the swamps shores. Until him. Until the killer known as Braxton Smalls finds his way into my stilted trailer on the coast of Port Charlotte.

He came looking for Ace, but he found me instead…

Braxton

I’m a monster. Always have been. Always will be. The only people I’ve ever given a shit about are my boys and their girls. No one hurts my family, and knowing that someone has … and that they’ve gotten away with it plagues me.

Ace Volkov will pay for what he put Avalon through and if I have to use his most precious weakness to draw him out, I will.

She thinks she can bargain for his life with her own, but I mean to show her that there’s nothing I won’t do to see my vengeance through to the end.

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Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Mafia/Gang/Secret Society Romance, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Sexy Beast by Rachel Jonas and Nikki Thorne

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Sexy Beast; Kings of Cypress Pointe #6
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 20, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Mafia/Secret Baby Romance

Author: Rachel Jonas and Nikki Thorne

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Step back into Cypress Pointe with #SeXyBeAsT and his Beauty. I was sad to finish this book, but it was a fantastic way to end the Kings of Cypress Pointe reign!!

Ricky is protective, loyal, a bit obsessive, with a dash of crazy, and these are all great traits for running his empire, but when Dez is confronted by him after her picture goes viral after buying a pregnancy test, she isn’t enjoying some of those traits. At least not at first. Could this beauty actually fall for the beast?

Ricky is fiercely loyal to family. It’s the one trait that has led him to where he is now and the current path to Dez. Living the dangerous life he leads Ricky didn’t think he’d actually have the chance to become a father, so when he finds out his one night with Dez makes that impossible dream possible, he isn’t about to chance letting Dez out of his sight. He lives in a dangerous world and if he could he’d wrap her in a bubble wrap until his child is born and then possibly put the both of them in it afterwards. Ricky is much more smexy god than beast, at least around Dez, but she does struggle morality wise when coming to terms with who the baby daddy is.

While their love story isn’t a typical fairytale, full of champagne and roses…it’s more like murder, guns, and the mafia, but everyone falls in love under different circumstances, am I right? But seriously, Ricky is such a dichotomy of a man and I loved him for it. Ruthless and a true mafia king when he needs to be, but completely opposite when he’s with Dez where he’s sweet and gentle which made him totally swoony. Does he play on the right side of morality…well there is always another side to every dark tale, just ask Dez.

Lastly, yes, there are cameos from past Cypress Pointe characters, of course Pandora doesn’t let anyone rest, but could her days be coming to an end?? Messing with the mafia, Pandora is pushing buttons she may not want to push. I mean Ricky is no longer a kid chasing after his ex-girlfriend, but now a hot, hot baby daddy. Yum.

Synopsis:
Ricky Ruiz—ruthless kingpin, reclusive heir, the one man I can’t seem to outrun.

Rumors buzz when a pic of me buying a pregnancy test goes viral. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if, roughly one month ago, I wasn’t also spotted with the new top-dog of Cypress Pointe’s most notorious crime family.

The same crime family my father dedicated his entire law enforcement career trying to bring to their knees.

Ricky inherited the money, the houses, the cars, but he also inherited the danger. He sleeps with one eye open and one finger on the trigger. So, when my name starts popping up alongside his on social media, the beast awakens, convinced there’s now a target on my back, too.

He’s not big on patience or subtlety, which I realize when I come home to find him waiting in a dark corner of my apartment, in no mood for a debate. He’s on a mission to collect what he believes is his.

Me.

My father warned me about the Ruiz family. If I’d listened, I might not be locked in a room inside Ricky’s home, I’d still have the job he decided to quit for me, and I’d still have my freedom.

I have no plans to be Ricky’s caged bird. Not even with an army of street soldiers at his disposal. He’d beg to differ. According to him, it’s just a matter of time before I give in and admit what he claims to have known from the beginning.

That I’m already his.
*
Trigger Warning: Ricky lives up to his reputation, so if you’re sensitive to excessive, explicit violence, you might want to pass this one up. There are also situations that may be triggering for those who have experienced pregnancy-related trauma. Reader discretion is advised.
*
SEXY BEAST is a full-length standalone novel (95k+ words). This book can absolutely be read on its own, but for the sake of flow and clarity, you could start with THE GOLDEN BOYS (a bully romance trilogy within this series).

Are you into hot romances with alpha-male crime bosses? Then, you’ll love getting to know Ricky Ruiz.
Due to adult themes and sexual situations, this one’s only for the 18+ crowd.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Only Rivals by Charity Ferrell

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Only Rivals; Only You #1
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Small Town/Enemies-to-Lovers/Workplace Romance

Author: Charity Ferrell

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
THIS BOOK!!! OH, SWEET BABY, BLUE BEECH GOODNESS!!!!! Yes, I’m totally screaming! This is the town, the writing, the emotional back and forth between characters that I fell in love with and made me a Charity Ferrell fan for life!! Only Rivals is pure writing royalty.

Jax and Amelia are second generation Blue Beech and Twisted Fox children, but this is truly a new series and aside from some nostalgia, like walking into a new world. Only Rivals is so well done and pieced together perfectly that I rode every emotion on this very angsty rollercoaster. I was gasping, crying, laughing, and falling in love right along with the characters and then shocked right down to my core at a very pivotal moment. Charity never fails to bring me down to my knees, but this story truly rocked me to my core and then pieced me back together. To say it has all the feels seems trite, but it really does.

What I’ve always loved about any Ferrell book is her witty banter mixed in with her deeply emotional story. Her writing has always kept me turning pages late into the night and this book was no different. I didn’t want to stop and seriously thought about calling into work so I didn’t have to put it down.

Jax and Amelia have been enemies from a very young age. Bantering and bickering like only little rivals can do, until that magic age when they both realized perhaps that rivalry might actually mean more. However, when a new kid, Christopher comes into their circle and falls for Amelia…well, both of their lives change forever at that point.

Jax and Amelia’s path back to one another is not easy and it’s full of turmoil and grief, but it’s also full of a history between these two that is sweet and beautiful. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Synopsis:
The first boy I ever hated was Jax Bridges.
The first man I loved was his best friend.

My plan was to meet a boy, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
That ended when my boyfriend died and left me half of his business.
Now, his best friend and I are business partners.
There’s just one problem: We hate each other.

Jax and I have been rivals since childhood.
He wants me out of the business, but it’s all I have left.
The more time we spend together, the more we question if we were ever rivals at all.

Will my last love be his best friend?
Or will we destroy each other?

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Wild About You by Rebecca Jenshak

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Wild About You; Wildcat Hockey #2
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Sports Romance/Second-Chance Romance

Author: Rebecca Jenshak

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
A slow burn, second chance romance with a totally swoon-worthy hockey player.

Tyler Sharp is probably the most mature, responsible, yet young, hockey player I’ve had the pleasure of reading. He never takes his eye off of his goals and sadly that involved breaking the only love of his life’s heart four years ago.

Hockey has always consumed Tyler’s life and four years ago he tried to spread his time between having a girlfriend and hockey, but he could see the strain it was having on Piper missing out on enjoying her final year in high school. He broke up with her so she could actually enjoy her final year, but instead it shattered both of their hearts. Now it’s four years later and for the first time they are running into each other and this time Tyler doesn’t plan to let her go.

I empathized with these characters and this story, being a product of a second chance romance myself.  Piper’s broken feelings, gaining back the level of trust and eventually opening herself back up to the man who shattered her entire world was like walking back through time.

Tyler becomes responsible for his sister and Piper is thankfully there to lend a hand. Tyler’s sister, Everly, is a troubled teen, but Piper sees Everly through a different light. While it’s difficult at first to be around Tyler while she’s spending time with Everly, in no time at all reconnecting with Tyler is just like old times and she’s easily opening up her heart again.

Tyler and Piper’s chemistry is there from the very beginning, but their relationship is a slow build. Completely understandable given their past, but I loved reading how their love built again brick by brick, surrounded by their surrogate hockey family.

I not only loved Tyler and how much he cared about his sister, but I also loved the entire hockey team and their bond. Every single player on the Wildcats are like big brothers to Everly and brothers to each other on the team, in short they are a family. Their bond to each other is just another aspect I love to read in this series.  I could read Jenshak’s books and never tire of this world.

Synopsis:
A month ago, I was a rookie with the best stats in the league. I was traveling the world, playing hockey, and making more money than I ever dreamed.

Then my sister showed up on my doorstep, expelled from high school, with nowhere else to go.

I don’t know the first thing about being responsible for a troubled teen, and the team jet isn’t exactly kid-friendly.

Enter Piper. My sister’s new teacher and nanny.

Smart, nurturing, and just as beautiful as I remember.

I fell in love with her four years ago and never stopped.

Too bad she hates my guts.

We need her.

And this time, I’m not letting her go.

Wild About You is a full-length second chance romance with a grumpy NHL player, his teenage sister, and the ex-girlfriend he never forgot.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – The Player and the Single Mom by Erin McCarthy

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The Player and the Single Mom; The Legends #5
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 16, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Age-Gap/Friends-to-Lovers/Single Mom/Sports Romance

Author: Erin McCarthy

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Where can I get my own version of Cash?? This man is the best!!

Not only is he sweet, caring, made for LT relationships, but he’s dirty talking and can I talk for a minute about his in the bedroom skills…YES!?! Is there a one-click option for this man because I need him yesterday.

Player and the Single Mom is not only an adorable book full of children, but it is also full of a hot, sweet man and a very overworked and tired mom. Who else can relate? Well, the overworked and tired mom part, yes.

Cash Young has always dreamed of a family and settling down with the perfect woman. When he meets Sera, even though she comes with three children of her own, he still sees the perfect woman. He convinces her to a vacation away from all of her stress and while he was always hoping for more after their brief affair, even he wasn’t prepared for the news that comes weeks later, but he was excited about it.

If Sera could pick a man to fall for it would be Cash, but her life isn’t easy. Her life comes with three children, a business that is barely hanging on by a thread, and lots of emotional baggage. While she would love to jump into things with Cash she isn’t sure she’s quite ready.

A story full of love, steamy moments, lots of family, and with a hero I want to one click right into my life.

Synopsis:
When friends-with-benefits turns into friends-with-a-baby-on-the-way…

It’s supposed to be just a no-strings attached sex-fest with big, brooding, football player Cash Young. He is going to whisk me away for a week in the sunshine while my three kids spend time with their grandparents.

No one screaming, “Mom!” No tears. No absurd homework assignments or problems at the struggling bakery I own, Sugar Lips.

Nothing but cocktails and orgasms for days with a man I’ll never fall in love with.

It’s not that Cash isn’t a great guy, because he totally is. But he’s way too young for me, and way too country boy calm, with that slow drawl, and his insistence on calling me “ma’am.” He thinks it’s respectful, which it’s not. It’s infuriating. And while we’re friends, we’ll never be anything more than that, with a little hot, headboard-banging sex on the side.

Until two pink lines change everything and Cash wants me to go from single mom to Mrs. Sera Young.

But the biggest surprise of all may be that the unexpected idea has a certain, sexy ring to it…

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Book Reviews, Bully Romance, Dark Romance, LGBTQA+, Mafia/Gang/Secret Society Romance, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Ruthless Kingdom by Becca Steele and C. Lymari

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Ruthless Kingdom; Boneyard Kings #3
(#3 within a series)

Publication Date: May 13, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Trilogy/New Adult/Dark/Reverse Harem/Secret Society/Bully Romance

Author: Becca Steele and C. Lymari

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

I loved everything about this dark story, it contained steam, mystery, brotherhood, and so much more.

Picking up right where the big cliffhanger left me biting my nails, Ruthless Kingdom takes off running. Major players in the poison filled city are finally unmasked as pieces click into place of a major conspiracy.

Saint, Mateo, Callum, and Everly’s bond gets stronger than ever as they work to bring down the darkness that has engulfed the city and their own personal lives.

I loved how everything pieced together and played out while they strengthened their relationship. No stone was left unturned and I was extremely satisfied with the way this trilogy ended.

While Cal and Mateo seemed to soften as the story went along, the more I thought about it, I think we got to know more of their true selves. As Everly uncovered more about them, the hard men they displayed to everyone else was just a mask that they eventually took off just for her.

Now, Saint is an entirely different matter. He’s a goofball and that never changes, but his personality of self destruction dies down once he begins to care for Everly. His comic relief is the perfect mix for this dark tale and I adore Saint for keeping true to himself along with always wearing his huge heart on his sleeve.

The four really connected when they let go of their hurt, grief, anger, and sadness. Everything they needed was with each other, allowing them to move forward and truly begin their future together.

Synopsis:
The conclusion to the Boneyard Kings trilogy…

Bad things happened in threes, but they turned out to be a blessing in disguise. There was no escape from the Boneyard Kings, but now we’re on the same side.

Our enemies came, but we didn’t let them break us.
They thought they could take us down, but they underestimated our strength.

Now, three rivals stand against three kings and their queen, and they’re about to see just how ruthless our kingdom can be.
The game of chess is in play, and only one side can claim victory.
Who will be the one to call checkmate?

Ruthless Kingdom is a reverse harem romance with mature themes. This is book three in the Boneyard Kings series, and cannot be read as a standalone.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Seduction by Ivy Smoak

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Seduction; The Hunted Series
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 12, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Contemporary Steamy Romance

Author: Ivy Smoak

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
It’s fun, it’s super steamy, and it’s about a couple who’s already in love making the most of their free time together before their lives completely change. It was great!

The title should say it all, but James and Penny, are working hard to seduce one another before their life changes in a few months when their first child is born. There aren’t many romance books that focus on married couples, especially smexy ones, but this book includes food play, role-play, and basically all kinds of play that keeps their seduction spicy. It was fun to read about a happily married couple thoroughly enjoying one another.

There is also a secondary story, because in this world, the lives of the Hunter brothers is closely tied to the Caldwell brothers, so they are never far behind.  Penny and James spend time with Rob, Mason and Matt while they help prepare for Rob’s upcoming wedding, along with a lot of Ivy’s other colorful characters that have popped up along the way. For fans several of her series interconnect in this book, but it can also be read as a standalone if this the only series or book you’ve picked up.

Seduction is sweet, funny, and spicy – normally a hard combination to put together, but Ivy Smoak does it flawlessly.

Synopsis:
I’m pregnant.
With my professor’s baby.
I know it all sounds very scandalous. But I swear we’re both quite happy about this unexpected situation.
Everything is about to change once we have a baby though.
So I’m going to take advantage of these last several months before I’m so big that I can’t see my feet.
I thought seducing my professor was hot. But just wait until he sees what I have planned for these next few months.
It’s going to be scorching.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Suspense/Intrigue Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Delighted by Lexi Blake

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Delighted; Masters and Mercenaries #24.5, Sanctum Nights #13
(A novella within a series)

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Novella/Single mom/Suspense Romance

Author: Lexi Blake

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Big, beautiful, kind-hearted Boomer. I’ve been looking forward to his story and I loved every moment of it, I only wish it could have been longer.

Boomer has been a secondary character for a long time and I’ve loved every time he’s shown up on the page. So of course I’ve been eagerly anticipating his own story. Boomer is one of the biggest guys on the team, but aside from his physical stature, he’s got one of the biggest hearts and sweetest personalities you will run across. He’s a bleeding heart when it comes to helping someone in need, seriously…it is impossible to not like this guy, unless you are on some starvation diet then his large appetite may offend you, but aside from that, he’s loyal, kind, and an animal lover to boot. The same question we all ask- how is this man still single- is the same one Daphne asks when she meets him, and that answer requires Boomer to receive lots of big hugs.

Daphne is a widow and a single mother to a twelve year daughter with a genius level IQ. It’s Lou that befriends Boomer first and she’s an amazing girl who fits right in with all the MT youth. It’s that feeling of when you find your tribe, you instantly click. Daphne also feels right at home with the MT women and she hasn’t had that in a long time, but falling for someone again is scary especially when she’s still dealing with her in-laws from her first marriage.

This novella is lower suspense than some of the other books within the Masters and Mercenaries series, but for readers of this series it is filled with morsels of what’s happened in the last book and what’s to come up in the next. I know I’m eager with anticipation for not only the next book, but also for the next generation. Having Lou in this book gave Lexi a chance to really flush out the youth and what their potential will be, not that we didn’t already know about some of them, like Ian’s girls, but they are really taking shape.

Synopsis:
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake comes a new story in her Masters and Mercenaries series…

Brian “Boomer” Ward believes in sheltering strays. After all, the men and women of McKay-Taggart made him family when he had none. So when the kid next door needs help one night, he thinks nothing of protecting her until her mom gets home. But when he meets Daphne Carlton, the thoughts hit him hard. She’s stunning and hardworking and obviously in need of someone to put her first. It doesn’t hurt that she’s as sweet as the cupcakes she bakes.

Daphne Carlton’s life revolves around two things—her kid and her business. Daphne’s Delights is her dream—to take the recipes of her childhood and share them with the world. Her daughter, Lula, is the best kid she could have hoped for. Lula’s got a genius-level intelligence and a heart of gold. But she also has two grandparents who control her access to private school and the fortune her father left behind. They’re impossible to please, and Daphne worries that one wrong move on her part could cost her daughter the life she deserves.

As Daphne and Boomer find themselves getting closer, outside forces put pressure on the new couple. But if they make it through the storm, love will just be the icing on the cake because family is the real prize.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

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

Review – Kiss My Giraffe by Erin Nicholas

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Kiss My Giraffe; Boys of the Bayou Gone Wild #7
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Opposites Attract/Grumpy-Sunshine/Small Town/Romantic Comedy

Author: Erin Nicholas

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Oh. My. Sweetberry Biscuits!!! I thought I was ready for Knox and Fiona. I thought after all the Laundry men and their BIG love I was prepared. I am stating for the record Kiss My Giraffe is the best closer in the history of closers. P.S. I was not prepared for the greatness of this book.

I never saw the reveals coming. My mind was blown with secrets uncovered, one after another. THEN, the beautiful moments spent with each secondary character. I wanted to bask in the wise words from Ellie or insightful thoughts from Mitch or Drew, or so many other characters it would take a full page to list them all. Erin spread out those tiny reflective moments throughout the entire book which made it feel like taking a journey right beside both Fiona and Knox. Two people who both love the town and its people and may not exactly be a Laundry, but were included like family nonetheless. It’s that sense of family and togetherness that draws me back to these books time and time again and is at the heart of this book in particular.

Fiona and Knox have been playing the longest game of foreplay ever. For two years they have been dancing around each other and it’s finally time, except not really. When Knox finds out that Fiona is going to be his next door neighbor, the whole friends with benefits arrangement he thought he was going to have with her is suddenly off. Knox only does long distance relationships and knowing Fiona is going to be literally right in his back yard means there will be no more benefit to their friendship. Well, you get my drift.

Kiss My Giraffe is full with all the small town bayou love with lots of new twists and turns that I never, ever saw coming. Knox is super intense (that was no shocker), but he is also insanely sweet. His super squishy center is super-duper swoony and I’m constantly blown away that everytime Erin writes a new book the new hero ends up kicking out the old one for my favorite. Although Knox and Zander are close friends, maybe they could share the pedestal this time.

Fiona holds true for Erin’s fierce and take charge heroines. Her loud and obnoxious purple truck should speak for itself, but even without that, the way she conducts a rescue mission, speaks for the abused animals that have no voice and never once backed down from Knox himself told him everything he ever needed to know, she is his perfect woman…if she wasn’t living right next door.

I will not say this book is bittersweet, since the bayou isn’t totally leaving, just heading in another direction. It was just all the sweetness and like I stated at the very beginning, it held the very best of this entire series. I loved it and could continue to gush for hours, but instead, go read it and find out for yourself!

Synopsis:
Enemies to friends to almost lovers…then back to kind-of enemies…to lovers. For a guy who wanted to keep things simple this is anything but.

Fiona knew Knox would be mad when she moved in next door.
And not because she brought a collection of wild animals with her.

And she was right.

So she intended to leave him alone. Mostly.

But he’s not ignoring her. He’s actively working to send her and her “ridiculous menagerie” (rude) right back out of town.

Still, as hard as she tries, it’s impossible to stop thinking about the small town grump’s long hair and tattoos and that mouth.

Not the one that’s almost always set in a grim line and says things like, “you got a permit for that?”

Nope, the one that kisses her like she’s everything he’s ever wanted and says very dirty things in her ear. And sweet, protective, supportive things. Sometimes. Accidentally. When she catches him off-guard.

The one that also says he only wants a long-distance fling with her. Nothing serious. And that he never dates women he sees every day. Like his neighbor.

Well, fine. If he doesn’t want her—and her unbelievable past and that-can’t-be-real future—then she doesn’t want him either. He can just kiss her…giraffe. (Yeah, she actually has a couple of those.)

Now she just needs to convince her heart to give him up.

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

Review – Nothing Ventured by Avery Samson

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Nothing Ventured; A New England Romance #1
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 19, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Contemporary/New Adult/Age-Gap/Forbidden Romance

Author: Avery Samson

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
A quirky, forbidden romance that is a quick pick-me-up on a nice spring day.

Karlie is living in a college apartment and is the first to arrive among her roommates for the new school year. On her very first day she locks herself out of her apartment and the only thing to do is contact campus security to get her back inside.  A tall drink of hunky kevlar covered cop appears and their meet-cute is solidified. After that Karlie’s run-ins with Max go from cute to sometimes life threatening, but thank goodness he is there to protect and serve.

While Max knows there should be no personal fraternization with students, his feelings only continue to get stronger with every interaction. Karlie is a light he just can’t look away from and it’s get harder and harder to stay away.

The secondary characters are fun, especially Max’s sister and the very helpful bartender, this series will only continue to grow.

Synopsis:
From Contemporary Romance Author Avery Samson comes a brand new romantic comedy full of unexpected laughs and the forever kind of love.

Karlie is a star volleyball player at a small college in New England. Moving into the last available apartment on campus, she has high hopes until she finds its state less than stellar. Deciding to make the best out of a sketchy situation, she soldiers on. Until she locks herself out the first night. No one else has moved in, so she’s left with only one option. Call the university police to help.

Max is just settling into his new, temporary assignment as a police officer on one of the many college campuses in town. Heading home after patrolling the first day of move-in by the fall athletes, he agrees to take one last call. Little does he know what awaits him on the other side of the line. He just has to survive flaming appliances, nipple rings, rabid squirrels, and a basement dwelling chupacabra to win the girl of his dreams.

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Book Reviews, LGBTQA+, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Over Time by Ella Kade

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Over Time; Willow Bay #3
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 13, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Student-Professor/Age Gap/New Adult/MM Romance

Author: Ella Kade

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A page turning, steamy read about healing. It’s full of forbidden themes and one broken, broody man and the professor who can’t help fall for him, but it gripped me from page one and held me in it’s emotional grips until the very last page.

I really liked this fast paced story, that wasn’t filled with a lot of extra fluff. For the most part, Over Time was focused on Ford and the trauma he was going through along the relationship between Ford and Xander. There weren’t fifty other side stories that needed wrapping up, nor was there a ton of extra angst that drug the story out ten hours keeping me up waaaaaaayyyy past my bedtime. I appreciated the consideration. LOL. Okay, all kidding aside, The story moves along at a very quick pace and that means I started and finished it within a few hours. It was engaging and page turning and I never once set it down to get another chore done.

Ford and Xander meet over the summer and neither knew they were teacher or student, but the attraction is already there and the path is already set. When the school year begins things definitely become complicated, but even more so with the emotional turmoil that is Ford’s life. The professor inside Xander just wants to help him, even when Ford is nothing by dismissive of him, but these two are not only steamy together, but their emotional connection is fantastic.

An excellent, quick MM romance.

Synopsis:
I’ve been keeping secrets from my roommates, but my one-night stand just outed me. Now they knew I was bi, and that I just hooked up with one of the professors at our school.

They wanted to know why I wasn’t the happy-go-lucky guy I was before I going home for the summer, but I’m not ready for them to learn why.

Everything changed for the worst this summer.

It was a secret that kept me up at night. A secret that devastated me to the point I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be the same again.

How could I concentrate on school when my whole world was upside down? I had more important things to worry about. Namely, my one-night very drunken stand who kept showing up in my life.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Rule Breaker by Stacey Lynn

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Rule Breaker; Las Vegas Vipers #3
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Single Mom/Sports Romance

Author: Stacey Lynn

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Stacey Lynn writes books filled with all the feels. Her characters run the gamut of change and growth while still maintaining that underlying romance that I crave to give me all the warm fuzzies, but the depth she brings out of her hero/heroines is truly stunning. I’m always shocked on where her stories take me and I can never guess how it will play out. They are a true emotional delight to read.

In the beginning Dominick only sees himself as this one dimensional person. A screwed up hockey player with anger issues. He purposely keeps everyone he knows at arms length allowing them to believe that shallow characterization, but Dominick actually has layers, lots of beautiful layers.

He’s kind, caring, compassionate, patient, and even sweet, I know, a far cry from that one dimensional person he projects, but he hides it under years of pain and loneliness. Trauma caused by those who should have loved and protected him, but instead used him which didn’t help to break the cycle. Dom just needed the right person to help him see his potential, fulfill something outside of that circle of destruction, to begin uncovering those layers. A divorced mom and her son was someone he never would have placed his money on to pull him from his own darkness. But welcome to coaching junior hockey.

Holly is a single mother with the sweetest ten year old son, Ben. He’s in a junior hockey league and guess who his new coach is? Yeah, I’m sure you know. Ben is not the best player in his young division, but he has a ton of heart and Dominick sees his overflowing well of heart and spirit. He also doesn’t mind how Ben’s mom looks sitting in the stands, but Dominick isn’t coaching looking for a hookup, it’s part of his community service, but that’s part of the story you need to read for yourself.

Holly’s ex is a problem. One of those dads who seems to know better than a professional hockey player, total jerk, but luckily Dominick is patient with both Ben and Holly. He makes both of their lives easier and at the same time a bit more complicated, but once again you need to meet the ex and call him names just like I did. Feelings bloom between Holly and Dom in the most organic and thus begins a slow burn that made this story fun to read.

I honestly loved reading how much these characters grew and changed from the beginning all the way to the end, Witnessing Dominick become a better version of himself made the slow burn of their romance all worth it in the long run.

Synopsis:
Spending the night in jail isn’t exactly how I planned to spend Christmas, but I’ve had worse holidays…

Now that I’m out, it’s time to accept my real punishment. Coaching ten-year-old terrors on the ice, in my non-existent free time. My Coach thinks it’d be good for me. Remind me where I came from. He should know I’ve tried every day of my life for the last ten years to forget.

The youth hockey league is a hell I didn’t plan on and the worst penalty possible…
Until the day a sweet, single mom cracks a joke about her kid, and then all bets are off.

I’m the best defenseman in professional hockey, but I didn’t see her coming… now what in the hell do I do? I’m not equipped for a relationship. I’m definitely not ready to have a kid depending on me, but I can’t deny she makes me feel things— want things I never imagined I could have.

I should save us both the trouble and stay far away from her. But rules were made to be broken, and I was never good at following them anyway.

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

Review – Away Game by Cathryn Fox

Book cover for Away Game (Rebels) (Scotia Storms Book 1) by Cathryn Fox

Away Game; Rebels, Scotia Storms #1
(Standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Genre/Tropes: New Adult/Sports/Close Proximity Romance

Author: Cathryn Fox

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Pure sweet fun, and filthy perfection!!

Sawyer and Chase meet during a snowstorm and get snowed in together, but it’s pure chance that Chase sees Sawyer stranded along a snowy highway and stops to help her.
He was on his way to visit a new school for a potential hockey transfer, but the snow was so thick after he picked up Sawyer they barely made it to the nearest motel and had to stop or chance getting stranded together out in the cold. At least in the motel they have shelter and food and together they spend several days snowed in along with several other guests, but it isn’t spent in boredom. The adventures during their snowy time spent together are sweet and fun and down right steamy. I couldn’t put this book down for even one moment.

There is an instant connection between Sawyer and Chase, even as they ride in the car up to the motel. That connection doesn’t stop even once. While they both don’t give each other their last names, for their own reasons, they enjoyed each other’s company more than they ever have with anyone else’s. Having nothing to do, no pressure, no complications, basically nothing but time really opened up the opportunity for them to get to know one another and truly have some fun. It was dating at the most basic level without all the pressure or pomp and circumstance.

Then when you get them between the sheets….fanning myself….wowza!! They had a sensual banter between them on top of just being sizzling hot, it truly made for delightful reading and the need for fresh panties after every smexy moment.

Synopsis:

I was never a girl to drool over the hockey players at our academy—they’re all egotistical jerks. But since my father is the coach of Scotia Storms, everywhere I turn, there’s a player—in more ways than one.

I’m smart enough to know they don’t just avoid me because I’m the coach’s daughter. They avoid me because I’m a nerdy drama student with no game.

With winter break upon us, I plan to escape to Florida, to where no one knows my past. Or that I’m the butt of every hockey player’s joke. It’s true, I overheard the hurtful bet no player had the balls to take.

Not that I’d hand over my pesky V-card to any of them. Nope, I plan to take care of that problem on a beach down south.

Until the storm of the century throws a monkey wrench into my plans, and I find myself snowed-in with a smoking hot Southie. I figured he was the perfect guy to help me with my pesky problem—until my stupid heart got involved.

How could I avoid it when he was sweet and kind, and so different from the guys at the academy?

I begin to dream about our future, until the storm breaks and I realize he’s everything I never wanted and I’m everything that can destroy his future.

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

Review – A Rival’s Kiss by Maya Hughes

Book cover for A Rival’s Kiss (Fulton U Rivals) by Maya Hughes

A Rival’s Kiss; Fulton U Rivals #3
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 5, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Sports/New Adult Romance

Author: Maya Hughes

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

The best Rival book yet with one of my favorite Maya Hughes couples shining through.

Willa and Ezra come from two different worlds, and I’m not just talking about two different colleges. This story contains a lot of Princess and the Pauper themes, along with them attending rival schools. Willa comes from a tight knit family, never having to worry about where her next meal comes from or having a roof over her head, a very different world from the one Ezra grew up in. This duality travels throughout the entire plot of the book and their struggle, love, and heartbreak is a beautiful story to read.

First I’ll start with what I loved about Ezra; for the harsh, never having anyone to count on, knowing where he’d be sleeping, or when his next meal would be way he grew up, he is the sweetest, nicest, and most caring individual Maya has ever written. From the very beginning of this story I was completely head over heels all in for everything Ezra. He displayed a vulnerability that is so rare, placing aside pride, anger, and misplaced hostility, instead caring so deeply about Willa and her feelings that I couldn’t help continually falling for him over and over again.

Willa was also a bright shining light, bubbling over and pulling Ezra out from the shell he liked to live in. She was the one person who didn’t allow him to hide, who allowed him to be someone other than the hulking beast he released on the field every week. The more time he spent with her the more he released that he enjoyed who he was with her, he just worried about Willa finding out about his past and ruining any potential future he could have with her.

Willa too has a complicated past, not to mention an overprotective brother that Ezra has met on the field time and time again. With the odds stacked against them, could they truly have a chance at a future?

A Rival’s Kiss is a complete standalone, however I feel the emotions hit just a little bit harder because it is interconnected to her other series. You don’t need to have read any of Maya’s previous books for this book to hit all the feels, as this book can be read as a standalone as well.

Synopsis:

Walking away would be the smartest decision, but no one’s ever accused me of being smart. Cold, determined, brutal, but never smart.

Willa’s mine from the moment I rescue her. I protect her from a brawling crowd and she stares up at me like I’m her prince charming. No one’s ever looked at me like that. No one has ever dared to come that close.

I didn’t know she was the little sister of one of my biggest rivals. Her brother and I have both drawn blood on the field, dislocated joints, broken bones, but I’ll never want to show her that side of me.

I long to be the man she believes I am, but there’s only one way I know how to win—how to survive—and that’s ensuring my enemies lose.

Once he finds out who his sister has been dating it’ll be all-out war, and I might lose the only woman who’s ever looked at me like I’m not built only for destruction.

Changing my ways won’t be easy, but I’m willing to risk it all for her.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – The Wrong Boy by Ashley Munoz

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The Wrong Boy; All American Boy Series
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Second Chance Romance/Contemporary Romance

Author: Ashley Munoz

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
A quick, second chance read with steam and angst.

Tilly Banks needs repairs on her Inn, it’s in a state of disrepair and to keep guests booking, she needs to fix and update her lodgings. However, in the small town of Deacon, there is only one contractor and she refuses to use him. That is until he gets wind of her intentions and none other than her ex-boyfriend shows up on her doorstep telling her he will be the one to do the renovations and she needs to let their past go. That’s hard to do when they have been actively avoiding one another for the past five years, but suddenly she can’t seem to avoid him and when Oaks becomes her only option to update her family B&B she might have to concede.

Jonathan Oaks is still bruised from when Tilly dumped him five years ago, but he’s moved on, basically. He never really sees Tilly around, so that made it easier, but when he hears that she’s trying to update the Inn and seeking contractors outside of town for bids, she’s finally pushed their truce too far. This time Oaks won’t take no for an answer and he’s not walking away. Oaks wants answers from what happened five years ago, but he also wants to help. There is a lot of intense feelings between these two that will only get resolved if they stop avoiding each other.

Tilly and Oaks have a messy past, with a lot of hurt and unresolved anger, but if they can just push aside all of their pride, look past all of their mistakes, and get to the underbelly of where their true emotions lie, these two are pretty fantastic together.

Synopsis:
Having a bed and breakfast with just one communal bathroom wasn’t working, and it was past time to bite the bullet and upgrade the inn.

There was just one small problem: In the small town of Deacon, Texas, there was only one contractor.

Yep, just one: Jonathan Oaks.

But it didn’t matter how skilled he was at building things when all I knew about him was how good at breaking my heart he was.

Five years could put a lot into perspective, but it wasn’t enough time to make me forget that he was the wrong boy for me then and he’d be the wrong boy for the job now.

I should have known better.

Jonathan Oaks wasn’t about to lose the chance to renovate my inn, or to rub in my face that he’d been right about us all along.

Part of the All American Boy Series

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Empire of Lust by Rina Kent

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Empire of Lust; Empire #4
(An interconnected standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 5, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Enemies-to-Lovers/Workplace/Contemporary Romance

Author: Rina Kent

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Amazing end to the Empire series; lusty, possessive, obsessive, and full of explosive passion. Kingsley and Aspen walk that thin line between love and hate and their story knocks it out of the park.

These two have been at each other’s throats for years, but they always say hate is a closer emotion to love than you would ever think. Kingsley and Aspen’s verbal sparring is top notch and their competitive nature is unlike others in their firm. While they are both lawyers, who by nature tend to have inflated egos and a higher ambition to begin with, these two constantly share a hate/lust filled fest whenever they are near and that lust portion finally bubbles over in a fireworks type manner.

Their banter is funny; how Kingsley continually calls Aspen witch, or how Aspen refers to him as Lucifer, they never give up, even after they fall in bed together. However, the longer they stay together, they do take offence to anyone else referring to the other as their “pet” name. I love it and how possessive they are of each other.

They each have their own issues to tackle, their pasts coming back to haunt them, but always at the forefront between them is Gwen. Yes, Kingsley and Aspen share a daughter, their relationship is complicated at best. Their story is best read without any third party interference on my part, but know these two are addictive and all the build up between them (if any prior books have been read) just made this book spectacular for all the anticipation.

While this is the last book  in the Empire series, Rina wrote it as a standalone, but I feel the series is best to read from beginning to end. It’s hard to pick one couple that is my absolute favorite because I loved them all, especially how they all interconnected at the same firm. Each book brought a unique flavor, sort of like each lawyer has their own talent at Weaver and Shaw. This has been another great series by Rina Kent.

Synopsis:
My Boss. My hell.

When I slept with a faceless jock as a teen, I didn’t think I would become pregnant.
I also didn’t think I would lose that child.
Several years later, I find out that my daughter is alive and I’m given a second chance.
One problem, though.
The faceless jock isn’t so faceless anymore.
He has a name everyone fears; Kingsley Shaw.
A ruthless bastard. A heartless devil. And most importantly, my daughter’s father.
Oh, and he hates me as much as I hate him.
We’re out to destroy one another with all methods available.
Including a dangerous game of lust that might lead to our downfall.

Empire of Lust is a complete STANDALONE. No book needs to be read prior to this.

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

Review – A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

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A Merry Little Meet Cute
(A standalone)

Publication Date: September 20, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Small Town/Romantic Comedy/Holiday Romance

Author: Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
A Merry Little Meet Cute is giggle-snort-out loud funny. This steamy holiday read is hilarious, fun, and what I truly imagine happening on the sets of all of those Christmas movies – well, a girl can dream can’t she? LOL.

Bee and Nolan are cast in a Hallmark type of movie, but trademarks and all of that. Instead, their world is set up with the Hope Channel where the movie franchise is big on Christmas classics with cookie cutter scripts and full of holiday magic. Both Nolan and Bee need this good, wholesome rebranding for the same, but also different reasons, but for the family friendly part to stick, they both have to stay…well…squeaky clean.

Nolan is a former boy band pop star with a bad boy reputation that he needs to shed. He not only lost all of his earnings with a horrible contract during his singing years, he also threw gasoline on his reputation when he was caught in an orgy scandal. He’s now trying to wrangle in his past so he has a future and can help his mother with her mounting medical bills.

Nolan is the perfect mix of reformed bad boy sassy and reformed good guy sweet. I know I mentioned reformed twice. He’s walking a very fine line of reformation and he’s so stinkin’ cute on which side of the line he’s on at any given moment, I just want to squeeze his cheeks at any given moment – I’ll let you guess which cheeks I’m talking about. I’ll just say, when he meets Bee, he recognizes her and he’s been a huge fan of hers for several years. His fangirling over her is swoon worthy in itself. Here he is, Mr. Former Popstar and he has his own crush. Like I said, he’s adorable in a totally filthy way.

Bee or Bianca von Honey as she’s known by her stage name, is trying to go legit for the first time. She’s been a huge hit in the porn industry, but this is the first time she’s making a movie with all of her clothes on. She’s really hoping that fans don’t cross streams or this may be the first and last movie she does if her secret identity gets out, but until then she’s going to enjoy every moment of her new, clothed, experience.

Bee is fresh, wide eyed, and hasn’t let the world gobble up her youthful spirit or positivity. I loved that about her, not only from what her normal day job is, but also from where she lives and how much she struggled as a young adult. Overall, Bee is the kind of girl I’d want to be best friends with and as a plus she has the best suitcase full of accessories – LOL, Bee is just a ray of sunshine and that is what Nolan finds even more attractive once he gets over his initial crush. What’s even cuter between these two, Bee grew up listening to his music and she’s a total fan of his, but don’t let that cat out of the bag.

Seriously, this book is fun, steamy, and chuck full of amazing secondary characters that filled the Christmas stockings and tied the entire storyline up to perfection. I fell in love with everything about A Merry Little Meet Cute and hope to meet some of these characters again.

Synopsis:
Cowritten by #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Murphy and USA Today bestselling author Sierra Simone—a steamy plus-size holiday rom-com about an adult film star who is semi-accidentally cast as a lead in a family-friendly Christmas movie, and the former bad-boy pop star she falls in love with.

Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.

Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.

But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.

And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.

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Book Reviews, Bully Romance, Dark Romance, Mafia/Gang/Secret Society Romance, New Adult, Suspense/Intrigue Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Reckless Princess by Tracy Lorraine

Reckless Princess; Knights Ridge Empire #8
(#2 within a trilogy, and #8 within a series)

Publication Date: May 5, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Trilogy/New Adult/Bully/Mafia/Dark Romance

Author: Tracy Lorraine

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Toby really hates being coined as the nice guy, but….sigh…the way he is with Jodie is amazing. Sweet, protective, super alpha hot, but yeah, he’s also kinda of nice and there is nothing wrong with that because I adore Toby.

On the flip side, Toby is also a bad boy, he grew up in the mafia after all. His monster is the side he struggles with, not that it isn’t instinctual at this point in his life, but his monster has hurt the girl he’s come to care for and he doesn’t know how to win her back.

Jodie is hurt, she’s broken, and she’s more confused than ever. She was totally falling for Toby, but he ripped her heart out. However, once she’s had a moment to think and truths come to light, can she forgive the monster and be with the man she was falling for.

This book has ups and downs, sweet moments, steamy moments, and everything in between. Tracy continues to make characters I fall for, that top each other, and Toby and Jodie are sitting pretty in the number one spot.

Toby is the best of both worlds, completely sweet with a dark side that is possessive and a bit stalkerish. A total package. It’s no wonder he took over as my favorite Knight.

Reckless Princess ends on an emotional cliffhanger and I can hardly wait to find out what happens next.

Synopsis:

USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Tracy Lorraine brings you the next installment of her dark mafia, high school bully romance story set in the Knight’s Ridge Empire world.

I thought I knew pain.

I thought I’d experienced grief and loss.

But nothing could compare to the moment Toby reached into my chest and ripped my heart out. Shattering the very foundations my life has been built on.

Everything I thought I knew about him was destroyed in an instant. Confirming all my worst fears.

The man he’s shown himself to be has been an act.

A deception.

A sick and twisted game.

He’s nothing more than a monster.

I’m at rock bottom once again, trying to drag myself out of the pit of despair.

But fate is an evil master, and before long I find myself with no other place to turn but him.

He might be cruel.

Reckless.

Dangerous.

But I also know that he’ll do anything to right his wrongs.

Because despite my tattered heart, he’s still trying to prove to me that he’s not all bad. That the sweet guy I fell so hard for really exists.

But will it be enough?

Dear Reader,
Reckless Princess is the second book in the Reckless trilogy in my Knight’s Ridge Empire series.

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

Review – Rule by Caitlyn Dare

Book cover for Rule (Red Ridge Sinners MC Book 3) by Caitlyn Dare

Rule; Red Ridge Sinners MC #3
(#3 within a series)

Publication Date: April 28, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Trilogy/Suspense/New Adult/Reverse Harem/MC Romance

Author: Caitlyn Dare

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
This trilogy has been highly charged and emotional from the beginning. I was biting my nails up until the very end and I loved reading every moment of it.

Picking up right where Reap left off, the news is finally out that River is in a relationship with three men. Needless to say her protective brother isn’t happy, but even with Rhett’s big brother anger, River’s guys don’t waver in their growing love for her.

However, just as they’ve started to figure out a future together, the bottom always seems to drop out from underneath them.  Their friendship and their love for each other will be the only thing that can get them through the tough times ahead.

This final book in the trilogy is very emotional and of course still full of steam. Always count on Zach’s swagger for a few moments of levity and lots of love and family with this band of brothers.

Synopsis:

The truth is out—I’m in love with three Sinners.

Zach, Jax, and Diesel might want to make me theirs but there’s still too many secrets between us, ones that could ruin everything.

Ones that could break us.

They might rule my body.

Own my heart.

But ultimately, they have the power to break me.

Only it isn’t our future we have to worry about, because the past is about to catch up with us. And when it does…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

Rule is a full length dark enemies-to-lovers/bully romance. This is a why choose novel, meaning the main character has more than one love interest. It is book three in the series.

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Book Reviews, LGBTQA+, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – In Between by Andi Jackson

In Between; Love is Love #3
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: May 5, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Interracial/Forbidden/New Adult/MMF Romance

Author: Andi Jaxon

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

First, I’m trying to remember when a book cover has so appropriately fit a character, but Dylan is matched to a T on the front of In Between. I certainly know better than to judge a book by its cover, but I fell just a little more in love with him while keeping his angsty face front and center because one you meet him and all of his sassy, brokenness those moody eyes on the cover, well Dylan is going to break your heart and then stitch it all back together again.

All three characters are gloriously written, Andi really outdid herself with this book. Mary, Julian, and Dylan all have their own baggage in this MMF story. Alone they all could carry a plot, but mixed together their story has depth and emotional weight that truly pulls at every heartstring and turns the pages chapter after chapter.

I grew up in the “Free to Be You and Me” generation. The mantras of a person’s a person regardless of color or gender, or love one another regardless of what they look like is ingrained in me. I took those words to heart and met every new acquaintance as a friend until they proved otherwise. Yes, I’m an optimist, I’m one of those people that can strike up a conversation with anyone, so basically I’m Mary, just a little bit older. I saw myself in her character over and over again. Not with two hot men sadly…, but Mary is an eternal optimist, and she also gets two boyfriends- score for her-but it isn’t an easy peasy thing and certainly not something she sought out.

Mary doesn’t like to see injustice in the world and she certainly likes helping. I adored that, like her namesake, she was able to fall back on her strong faith foundation and remind others that Jesus wasn’t sitting upon a throne just looking down at those less than. He too was a man who walked upon the earth and spent most of his time with the beggars, thieves and those that had been shunned by society. Mary’s soul and kind spirit gravitated toward those who weren’t all shiny and I loved how she always jumped in to help someone out in need, especially Julian and Dylan. While she struggled at first with the prospect of loving two men, she also thought god wouldn’t give her love if it was bad. Again, I loved how she continually turned to the positive things of religion.

The love in this book covers a little bit of everything. We have the virgin Mary, the irony is not lost on her name. Dylan loves a buffet more or less. Love truly is love for him and he doesn’t succumb to labels. Julian who is straight, until he meets Dylan and well, Julian isn’t sure what label to define himself at this point, except he knows he likes both Mary and his crazy neighbor. The thruples discovery is wonderful and a part I always enjoy.

Dylan was definitely bruised and battered by a system that was broken. His father is the sheriff in town, but within his own home he was a child of domestic violence. He could be dark and mean, but instead Dylan is sassy and sarcastic….tending to irritate a lot of people, like his father and football players, but it made me laugh through most of his chapters. Like a lot of people who use humor during tense times, it was a deflection to getting close to him. Dylan was a master of hiding from his emotions. He was always up for a good time and he did care, in his own way, if something happened to Mary and Julian. He didn’t understand his new found attachment to them, but he wasn’t about to analyze it either. Again he hated emotions, but that beautiful broken boy was the glue between the three of them.

Julian is the silent strength with the biggest obstacles to overcome. He’s a boy who’s recently moved to a small town where he is the minority. Never in his life has he felt so singled out and judged for this color of his skin. Julian tries to keep his head down and just get through the day, but a feisty little cheerleader and his sarcastic neighbor keep ending up in his path and tearing down his walls. Julian comes from a loving extended family and of the three of them, has the best support, a stable life, along with a roof over his head. Mary and Dylan struggled with both and luckily were able to soak up a bit of Julian’s beautiful home life. It’s just the outside world that is cruel and harsh and could hurt all three of them if their secret ever got out.

Julian’s part of the story tugged at my heart and tore at me for different reasons. One, his family life stirred up memories of my youth and the warmth I received at my friends’ homes, those treasured moments when life was both easier and tougher because of my age. A time of nativity when life seemed simpler, but that was perhaps because I didn’t understand just how harsh the world could be.

Unfortunately, Julian was shoved head first in those harsh realities, facing bigotry and hate, which tore through me each and every time slurs were said. I know the world exists in this harsh reality, instead of loving their fellow man, which saddens me. I loved Mary and Dylan even more for loving Julian just for him. Nothing more, nothing less. The three of them had a lot to overcome, but between them, inside their bubble, they just see each other and not the social, religious, racial, or economic views that the world outside would try to tear them apart for.

In Between was wonderfully steamy and sassy, but also beautifully written. I know Andi put a lot of work into this book and it shows.

Synopsis:

I’m the preacher’s daughter.
Dylan is the punk son of the bigoted sheriff.
Julian the new kid in town everyone talks about in whispers and avoids like the plague.
Dylan and Julian shouldn’t want each other.
It’s dangerous.
This town won’t accept them and yet I run towards the fire because love deserves a chance.
It’s not just them that’s in danger this time.
They both want me too.
I crave them and all they can offer me.
But I can’t have them.
It’s wrong. Perverted. Immoral. And I’m a good church girl.
At least, that’s what everyone thinks…

Can we hide who we are from a town who’s against us or will we be burned by their hatred?

*This is Mary’s story and can be read as a stand alone but will be best enjoyed after reading Bully King. This is an interracial MMF story and will have triggering language and situations due to racism and homophobia. Please proceed with caution.

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

Review – Temptation by L.K. Reid

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Temptation; Secrets of Winworth #2 
(#2 within a series)

Publication Date: April 20, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Antihero/MMF/Intrigue/New Adult/Secret Society/Forbidden/Dark Romance

Author: L.K. Reid

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

A twisted, dark, monstrous story that completely blew my mind!

What a lusty, dark tale this was. Skyler is torn between two men, a man she’s known her entire life, a man she now knows is a monster, but how does she separate the man from the monster?

AND

A man who came to town, made her fall for him, only to find out she’s been used as a pawn in his own wicked games, but tell that to her traitorous heart.

The two men also have demons whispering in their ears and it’s delicious and wonderful and who knew these two guys would be so smoking hot, especially when they both love Skyler so very much. (fanning myself)

This book is still full of Winworth secrets, but it focuses more on the three main characters; Skyler, Dylan, and Asher and their evolving relationship. I loved delving deeper into how they came to this dark point in their current lives and how they move forward as a tortured triangle.

Why tortured? Well, try growing up with all the secrets and lies like these three did, each with different monsters whispering in their ears. Think of Winworth like living on a giant chessboard, each of them a pawn being moved around, but instead of finally being moved by someone else, their circumstances brought them all together and they are finally taking back control.

Temptation is super dark, which has been a central theme since the beginning of this series, but this story delves into a complicated relationship revolving around three people. Three monsters who have an extra layer of want and need rolling between them with an ever evolving plot and showing that even monsters need love.

There will be no spilling secrets from my lips, as a lot comes out in this book and there is still more to come. I’m excited for more darkness and what Reid will bring as this plot continues to unfold.

Synopsis:

Violent dreams, and shattered souls
Beautiful demons without remorse

A cold heart and a vicious touch
Who is a monster, and who is not?

Lies.
Secrets.
Tragedies.

Skylar thought she had seen it all—monsters with pretty faces, friends with terrible secrets and lives filled with beautiful lies.
But she was wrong.

In Winworth, nothing was as it seemed.

Not The Order ruling over the sleepy little town she grew up in.
Not the wicked strangers that began pouring into Winworth out of nowhere.
And certainly not the people she thought she knew.

As the masks started falling, she could now see the true depravity crawling through the streets.

Torn between the two worlds—between the two men—she had to decide.
Was she going to cling to the past, or run for the future?

Or was she going to let monsters decide her destiny?

TEMPTATION is Book Two in the Secrets of Winworth series, dealing with dark themes that might not be suitable for all readers. It is recommended only for readers above the age of 18.

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Book Reviews, Dark Romance, Mafia/Gang/Secret Society Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Brutal Vows by J.T. Geissinger

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Brutal Vows; Queens and Monsters #4 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: April 28, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Enemies-to-Lovers/Arranged Marriage/Mafia Romance

Author: J.T. Geissinger

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

An enemies-to-lovers story with the best verbal sparring EVER and a wicked, hot chemistry that boils to an incensinerary inferno! I continue to love everything about this witty and blazing hot series.

The Irish Mob and the Italian Mafia are looking to merge and what better way to do it than the age old method of marriage. Spider Quinn is second in command in the Irish Mob and willing to step up to the plate of an arranged marriage. He’s not looking for love, actually the less he’s attracted to the woman the better. He doesn’t need the distraction of love and the messiness of feelings to get in the way of his job or his life, but when he goes to meet his betrothed, he doesn’t count on the very hot, very mouthy, very perfect woman of his dreams – Reyna, the aunt of his future wife stirring something to life. As much as he tries to ignore her, he can’t seem to look away.

While these two never cross lines during any pending marriage moments, it’s hot and intense anytime they are in one another’s vicinity. Aside from Spider being highly unavailable, because he’s engaged to her niece, Reyna has promised never to get involved with another man ever again. She was in abusive marriage and barely survived so Spider is forbidden on lots of levels. However, Spider ignites her desires, stirs her blood, and makes her want. Things she thought long dead, right alongside her husband’s corpse. She shouldn’t want her nieces’ future husband and she will do everything to push aside those longing feelings.

These two circle one another denying that they may also be each other’s perfect match. If only there weren’t so many obstacles in their way – fanning myself. Brutal Vows is hot, witty, and full of the perfect angst. Another great addition to Queens and Monsters series, but can be read as a complete standalone.

Synopsis:

An Irish mobster with a brutal grudge.
An Italian mafia princess with a dark secret.
Two enemy empires joined in sacred marriage vows.
Let the hating games begin.

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

Review – These Dead Promises by L.A. Cotton

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These Dead Promises; A Darling Hill Duet #2
(#2 within a duet)

Publication Date: April 19, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Duet/New Adult/Dark/Enemies-to-Lovers/Sports Romance

Author: L.A. Cotton

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

It’s a beautiful story of strength and love and what love can do with the right person by your side.

I loved how the second half of this duet delved deeper into the emotional ties between Nix and Birdie. Just because Phoenix and Harleigh reconnected at the end of book one didn’t mean everything was fixed and all the emotional mess, future problems, or family issues in their lives were magically fixed.

Don’t get me wrong, I love HEA’s just as much as the next person, but sometimes when I read a book like this, it’s a reminder that love doesn’t instantly solve all your problems. Instead when love is right, with the right person, they will stand by your side through thick and thin while life may still be rocky.

While Phoenix and Harleigh knew they wanted one another, making it happen wasn’t exactly easy. They lived on opposite sides of town where stigmas ran deep, which was just the tip of the iceberg.

Harleigh was still working on her mental health and just because Nix was back in her life didn’t mean she was instantly fixed. Where they lived and who their family was was just another added another layer of complications for both of them.

This book was emotional and touching for so many reasons. I loved that Cotton didn’t shy away from the hard issues while still keeping their love front and center.

Teenagers feel things deeply and super intense and every time Nix and Birdie came together their intensity leapt off the page.

Nix especially couldn’t contain what he felt Birdie, it flowed out of him, but he also was restrained and sweet. His intensity was mesmerizing to read. I loved what these two overcame to be together and in the end only made them stronger.

I’m looking forward to continuing watching their growth in future books as I see their love only growing and getting stronger as the years go by.

Synopsis:

Phoenix Wilder is fighting.
For the girl he loves and the future he isn’t sure he deserves.
But he’ll do it for her.
His Birdie.
His anchor.
The only girl ever to see him for who he really is.
Harleigh Wren Maguire is trying.
For the boy she loves and the future she thought was stolen from her.
But she’ll do it for him.
Her protector.
Her heart.
The only guy to ever make her feel worth something.
But Harleigh and Nix will have to figure out what they want and what they’re willing to sacrifice before they can chase their dreams of a better life.
Because sometimes love isn’t enough.
And the promises they made could end up nothing more than bittersweet memories.
* 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘋𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘪𝘯 𝘕𝘪𝘹 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘏𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩’𝘴 𝘥𝘶𝘦𝘵. 𝘐𝘵 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘋𝘪𝘳𝘵𝘺 𝘓𝘪𝘦𝘴. 𝘋𝘶𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴 17+
These Dirty Lies (Darling Hill Duet #1)

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – The First Love by Jennifer Bernard

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The First Love; Lake Bittersweet #1
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Second Chance/Small Town/Contemporary Romance

Author: Jennifer Bernard

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Every book Jennifer Bernard writes contains a beautiful love story, from beginning to end. What she also adds is an intriguing plot, a wealth of friendships, and sprinkled throughout her small towns she brings a closeness that makes me treasure where I live and where I come from. But most importantly Bernard centers at the heart of every story, wonderful characters that fall head over heels in love.

Each and every element I listed above is contained in The First Love, a new series about a small town located in Minnesota. All new characters, although for fans of her books you might catch a few favorites showing their faces, who center around a summer camp and the friendships made from those nostalgic moments in time. This is a story about the love made and lost, and the experiences they’ve had during those teenage summer-best years- time of their lives/growing pains kind of moments.

The First Love encompasses a lot of ground, since it also peeks at several secondary characters, but that’s to be expected as this is the first book. Thomas and Carly start off this series with a second chance at love, winding us through the present and past in this unique telling of bittersweet moments.

These two had a lovely teen age romance, but it only lasted one glorious summer. Broken hearts left them with years apart, but now they have nothing but distance between them. When Carly loses her father she finally returns to the small town where she first fell in love and to the place where Thomas ripped her dreams to shreds. He’s now the town fire marshall and even though he’s in charge of keeping the town safe from flames, there is a ton that spark up between these two.

I’m really looking forward to where this series is headed as more couples find their happily ever afters. Bernard always brings the emotion and captives me with all the intriguing plot. This series is looking to be fantastic.

Synopsis:

Who could ever forget that last summer in Lake Bittersweet…

It’s been seventeen years since Carly stepped foot in the sleepy lakeside community where she experienced her first love…and her first heartbreak. Since then, she’s struggled with her confidence, which is why she’s shocked that her father, rock legend Steven Gault, chose her as the executor of his will. Besides dealing with his shut-down music club and mountain of bills, did he have a reason to lure her back to Lake Bittersweet…like facing the boy who shattered her heart?

Carly Gault. The girl who got away. The girl he gave away. The moment he sees her, Fire Chief Thomas Cooper is hurled back in time to the summer that changed his life. He made the choice to put his family first, but Thomas has never forgotten the passionate, loving girl with the smoky-green gaze. She’s more beautiful than ever—but since that summer, his family has expanded in a way Carly may never, ever understand.

As long-ago secrets come to light, passion reignites between Carly and Thomas. But will one last shocker make it all go up in smoke like the last summer bonfire?

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Suspense/Intrigue Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – Provocation by T.K. Leigh

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Provocation; Temptation #3
(#3 within a series)

Publication Date: April 25, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Suspense/Intrigue/Age Gap/Contemporary Romance

Author: T.K. Leigh

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:
Intense, with dramatic moments, and a jaw dropping ending.

Before finding romance and then never looking back, my favorite books were filled with mystery, murder, suspense and maybe a little romantic tension between characters, but that was never the underlying theme. T.K. Leigh has brought out the best of what I used to devour in those murder/mystery books while adding the spice I now crave.

Provocation is the third book in the Temptation series and really should not be read out of order. In this installment Julia and Lachlan finally left Hawaii, they’ve left their love bubble and are now trying to figure out how to make things work in the real world.

They both live very public lives and Julia has a teenage daughter, so leaving their bubble isn’t necessarily easy, but can it be done? Especially when it appears new murders might be happening on a copycat level of what Julia’s incarcerated husband used to commit.

This book is intense for delving into their relationship and for opening up the past murder cases. All the connections and their growing love is super delicious and while also jaw dropping at times.

I’ve been on the edge of my seat through this entire series and can hardly wait to see how everything turns out in the very end. So, prepare for a wallop of a cliffhanger, but it’s the last of them before the final book. So I’m super excited for the next one to arrive. Bring it on!!!

Synopsis:

One week. No names. No expectations.

That was our agreement.

We were supposed to walk away once our time in Hawaii was over.

No matter what.

I didn’t think it would be this difficult…
But it is.

I didn’t think I’d ever fall in love again…
But I did.

Worse, I didn’t think I’d ever trust again…
But I do.

Until the bottom drops in a way I never could have anticipated.

Lines are drawn.
Loyalties are tested.
And I’m stuck in the middle, torn between two opposing forces threatening my very existence.

Do I listen to what all rationale and reason tells me to be true?
Or do I follow the path I know deep in my soul is the right one?

I’m engaged in a fierce battle between my head and my heart.
And there can only be one winner.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2022

Review – A Chance Encounter by Nikki Ash

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A Chance Encounter 
(A standalone)

Publication Date: April 21, 2022

Genre/Tropes: Single Mom/Surprise Pregnancy/Contemporary Romance

Author: Nikki Ash

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars

Review/Synopsis:

Review:

Wonderful, perfect, and contains the best book boyfriend ever!!

A Chance Encounter is one of those books that checks off every box for reading perfection! A story that flowed, has wonderful characters, low angst, amazing secondary characters, an adorable child who offers the perfect comedy relief, and chemistry through the roof. It’s the kind of book that you don’t want to end.

Sophia Davis has been burned by men her entire life, so when Easton Blackwood comes along and actually steps up her trust is nil. No matter how hard he tries to break down her walls, she really wants to believe, but trusting someone is hard. She’s a total firecracker and continually pushes him away and while that might be some of the attraction to him, it also entails so much more.

Easton is super swoony and basically the perfect man. He’s attentive, giving, and caring. If he didn’t live in the spotlight, where the paparazzi has access to his life and he lives on the road, he would be perfect for Sophia, but that trust I was talking about, the last man who broke her down…well, he shattered her by pushing her into the shadows and living life out of them is terrifying.

Everything from their meet-cute is charming and steamy and continues that way to the very end. I loved this book and was thrilled that the Blackwoods will continue with a new generation.

Synopsis:

What do you get when a single mom saves a musician from a killer bee?

Sophia

When I was eighteen, I fell in love, but he didn’t love me back. The day he found out about my pregnancy, I found out about his fiancée.

He warned if I ever told anyone, he would destroy me. So I kept the pregnancy a secret and disappeared.

Being scorned has left me jaded, but it’s also made me stronger. All my love and attention is focused on raising my daughter.

There isn’t room in our lives, or in my heart, for anyone else… until a chance encounter with Easton Blackwood changes everything.

Easton

Music has always been my one true love, but when a stunningly beautiful woman saves me from a killer bee, it just might be love at first sight.

One minute she’s slapping me with her flip-flop and the next we’re naked in my bed. With every kiss, every touch, I have no doubt Sophia could be the one, until she dashes from my bed without a trace.

After weeks of our time together replaying in my mind, she appears back in my life, with a confession that sends my world into a tailspin.

She thinks the bomb she’s dropped will send me running, but she’s wrong. The last guy might have done that, but I’ll fight for her, for our love, for our family. And I’ll stop at nothing to protect what’s mine.

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