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totallyaddictedtoreading

TOTALLY ADDICTED TO READING

I am an avid reader who loves sharing the stories I have read with my fellow readers. I enjoy reading Mystery, Legal and Political thrillers, Horror and all types of romance.

  

 

Currently reading

Red Hot Obsessions
Sky Corgan, Olivia Rigal, Ember Casey, Blair Babylon, Molly McLain, V.J. Chambers, Lacey Silks, Daizie Draper, Clarissa Wild, J.C. Valentine
Progress: 80%
Take Me Back - Meghan March

When I heard that Meghan March would be releasing a new stand-alone novel I was over the moon. I have been a fan ever since being introduced to her ‘Beneath’ series. When I started this book, I thought this would be an emotional read about a couple, trying to rekindle the flames in their marriage. Indeed that was the case, but it went deeper than that, in fact, the turn of events took me by surprise. From that point, I had difficulty putting my kindle down. This is the second book that I have read in less than a week that blindsided me in a good way.

‘Take Me Back" is an amazing second chance love story. It's an intense, touching, addictive, sexy and suspenseful read that kept me on the edge of my seat. The story started out slow, but that pace was fitting for the events at that time, but then at around fifty-five percent, the angle of the story changed in a manner I never saw coming. Based on how the story was going, I knew something was going to happen but it went beyond what I expected. However, the secrets that Dane had kept about his life made the events fitting.

The story told from Dane and Kat’s perspective was written mainly in the present day. There were flashbacks to help readers understand what led them to their current position. Dane recognized that he and Kat had issues that needed solving and so he decided to take steps to address these issues. However, he ended up getting more than he bargained for.

This is a well-written story with fantastic characters. The romance and suspense were well-balanced. I should warn you the romance was written in true Meghan March style. That is hot and steamy. The story flowed seamlessly from start to finish and the pacing good. The story which was gripping held me captive to the end. It was not perfect as there was a particular scene, which I found somewhat unrealistic. I choose not to state what it is as doing may lead to spoilers. This, however, did not make me like the story any less.

This novel reinforced the fact that for relationships to succeed all parties involved need to play their part. Without the proper nurturing, a relationship is bound for failure. The first step in salvaging what was lost is to recognize that there is indeed a problem. I liked that Dane and Kat recognized that they had problems. Their love for each other gave them the strength to fight for what they once had. Their willingness to accept their share of the blame for the breakdown of their marriage was admirable. Theirs was a marriage established on secrets and lies, which would come back to haunt them.

Verdict:

Take Me Back is a story of forgiveness, loss, restoration and healing. If you enjoy second chance romances that are action-packed and have some steamy scenes then this book is for you.


Below the Surface (The Witness Series Book 5) - Heather D'Agostino, Kellie Montgomery


“No matter how far you run, you can never outrun your past”.

When I read the synopsis, I figured I knew the angle the author would take. After reading the first paragraph, I was even more convinced that I was right in my assumptions. Boy oh boy! Was I wrong? This was nothing like what I expected.

I look terrible,” I mumbled as I scrutinized my reflection in the mirror. Who would want to hire me? I look like I just went a few rounds with a baseball bat. I sighed as I dropped my chin to my chest and let my shoulders sag. I was running low on funds, and if I didn’t get a regular job soon I was going to be back at the shelter. That thought alone propelled me into motion. Melissa had been a godsend, but life in hiding and running is not something that I ever want to go back to. The ladies at Thrive made me feel like I could do this. I can survive on my own, and I will make it. I just need to find a place that doesn’t ask a lot of questions.



Below the Surface, the 5th book in Witness series was intense, shocking, suspenseful and addictive, but the thing that set it apart from the other books was its darkness and edginess. It is a well-written story with fascinating characters and a captivating plot that made this a difficult book to put down.

Lena, having experienced unspeakable horrors had no trust when it came to men. Haunted by painful memories, but with the will to survive she sets out to reclaim her life. However, demons from her past had other plans and now her sister was in grave danger. To save her sister would mean returning to a fate worse than death. I admired her inner strength and selflessness. The fact that she was willing to go back to the world that broken and destroyed her mentally, emotionally and physically to save her sister spoke to who she was as a person.

The story moved between the past and present, making easy to relate to Lena’s traumatic experience. It took place at around the same time as book 4. However, reading book 4 before reading this installment is not a requirement. The story is easily read as a stand-alone. There were scenes that gave me an uncomfortable feeling; however, I was curious to see how the events would unfold. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. Not only that, it had me on edge throughout most of the story.

Despite me liking the story, I believe a few areas needed more development. I had a hard time accepting that Lena’s sister could so easily get over her experience after being in such a hell hole. Her actions were not typical of someone who experienced trauma making that aspect of the story somewhat unbelievable. Then there were the secret Jeff, the male protagonist was keeping. To be honest it was not what I expected and it left me feeling disappointed. I was hoping for something with a little zing. Honestly, I did not believe that his family being well off was that big of a deal and besides I did not see where it added any value to the story. Furthermore, he did not have a relationship with his family. I was hoping for a reconciliation, but the author did not explore that angle Nevertheless, I loved the role he played in the story. He is patient and protective, especially with Lena

I don’t want to say much about the plot because personally, I believe one should go into this story blindly. If you only knew how tempted I was to skip the pages to see how it played, but I am, glad I did not yield, as that would have ruined the experience for me. One thing I will say though is that I liked how the events played out.

I do not think there is anything else I can say to convince you to read this book. All I can say is this if you enjoy stories that are intense, suspenseful, edgy and semi-dark then this book is for you.



Book Review

Whisper of Love - Melissa Foster

One of the things that I find attractive is a man who single-handedly takes care of his child. A man who is willing to give up his carefree lifestyle to ensure that his child has the best of everything. Nash Morgan from Whisper of Love is the epitome of such a man. From the moment I met him, I could not help falling in love with him. Then there was his adorable baby boy Phillip, I just wanted to hug him. The bond between a parent and a child is so profound, and Melissa Foster aptly demonstrated this in her latest installment.

Nash had dedicated his life to taking care of his son as such he rarely had time for inter-personal relationships. This was further compounded by events from his past, which he has yet to come to terms with. These events induced a fear within him that led to him being overprotective of his son. His over-protectiveness led to him, keeping both he and his son in seclusion. Financial constraints would see him making a hard decision, which would lead to him admitting a stranger into his life. Making this decision resulted in him meeting the fiery and cautious Tempest Braden, which would push him beyond his boundaries in ways he never imagined.

Tempest Braeden, a music therapist is looking to take her business in a new direction. To do this she decided to move to Pleasant Hill. Being an overly cautious person, she was a bit hesitant in renting the room that Nash was subletting. However, once she let down her guard and made the choice of being room-mates with a complete stranger, she would learn that sometimes it does pay to throw caution to the wind.

The attraction that Nash and Tempest felt for each other was intense and this was clear from the day they first met, however, fear and pain from the past proved a hindrance. Thankfully, their feelings were stronger than their fears, which led to them discovering the healing power of love.

I enjoyed the story, but the parts that resonated with me was the interaction between Nash and his son. Their moments together were heartwarming and funny. The love they had for each other just rolled off the pages. I understood Nash’s protectiveness when it came to his son, although at times it may seem as if he went a bit overboard. I loved how Tempest was able to blend in with them and in the process helped them to view things in a different light.
One of the things that stand out for me with books written by this author is her portrayal of family and friendships. I love stories that demonstrate the beauty found in close-knit families and friendships that have survived varying obstacles. Ms. Foster has a knack for highlighting these themes in her stories in such a way that one cannot help but wish they were a part of something so beautiful.

Written in the third (3rd) person the story gave both Nash and Tempest’s perspectives. The writing is beautiful, the pacing steady and the descriptions vivid. There were varying ranges of emotions flowing through the story. There were moments of laughter, anguish, and sadness which when combined created a story that left me wanting more.

Verdict:
This is a great addition to the Bradens at Peaceful Harbor series. If you enjoy romance stories that are sweet, heartfelt and passionate then you will love Whisper of Love.

N.B. Although it is a part of a series, it is a stand-alone read.

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Don't Speak - Katy Regnery

“Don’t Speak” is the fifth (5th) book in the Modern Fairy Tale series by Katy Regnery and can be read as a stand-alone. If you are not a fan of stories that are passionate, emotional and filled with sweet romantic moments, then this book is not for you.

“Don’t Speak” is a fairy tale romance. It tells the story of Laire Cornish and Erik Rexford. Laire and Erik were from different worlds, as a result, their beliefs and outlook on life were on opposite sides of the spectrum of life. One would consider Laire to be naïve when it came to the ways of the world. This was mostly due to the culture in which she was raised. She is an island girl and the daughter of a fisherman, but she had dreams and plans that clashed with the expectations of family and the cultural norms of Corey Island. Erik is the son of the governor of North Carolina. He is living the life that his parents plotted for him, despite this being not what he wanted. Life has a funny way of surprising us with things we least expect and for Erik his biggest surprise was meeting the sweet and innocent Laire. What was even more surprising for him was when he found himself falling in love with her.

Erik and Laire, complete opposites, but perfect for each other. Despite the odds that were against them from the start, they fought hard for their love. Their love for each other was pure and sweet. However, misunderstandings and miscommunication would tear them asunder leaving them both broken-hearted.

I admired Laire for her tenacity. She knew that there was a world beyond Corey Island and she was determined to experience it, no matter what her family had to say. I enjoyed watching how she embraced the changes in her life, which helped to make her stronger. Erik was indeed a prince. His treatment of Laire was sweet and endearing. He was patient and understanding and he never once tried to force his will on her.

The first half of the story started out a bit slow, but it was never boring. During this time, the focus was on the development of their romance and the events that tore them apart. The second half focused on their reunion, which occurred six years later. This was a bittersweet moment, and at that point, it was clear that the love they shared was burning as strong as ever. My only problem with this aspect of the story was the speed in which the events of their reunion took place. I was hoping for a little more angst and drama.

The story is written in the third (3rd) person POV and it gave us both Erik and Laire’s perspective. It kept me engaged from start to finish. I wanted to read this book from the moment it came on my radar. It was heartfelt, passionate and emotional. It was predictable, but it did not detract from my enjoyment. This was a beautiful story, which demonstrates the power of true love and one, which I recommend to fans of fairytale retellings.

I received this book from the author via L. Woods PR. My review is voluntary. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***



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Tall, Dark & Deadly (Agents of The Bureau Book 1) - Kharma Kelley, Brittany Clarke

I am a huge fan of the paranormal/urban fantasy genre I am always on the lookout for stories that has a unique and refreshing take, so when Tall, Dark, and Deadly came on my radar I could not resist. From the moment I started this book, I knew that this would be an interesting read.

Tall, Dark and Deadly tells the story of Chloë Hunter a hybrid vampire (Dhampir) and Ethan Raines a 3000-year-old vampire. Chloë attracts trouble like steel to a magnet. She was once part of a gang of rogue vampires, but now she works for the Bureau. Her working for the Bureau was due to Ethan coming to her rescue, and saving her from possible execution and besides, they could use her unique skills. (The Bureau is like federal agency for supernatural beings). Chloë possessed the strength of vampires but none of their weaknesses. Sun nor silver has any effect on her, as a result, she was a target for rogue vampires. Her telekinetic powers made her a force to be reckoned with. She considers herself a freak because of her half-breed nature. Humans want nothing to do with her and vampires either cursed her or wanted to exploit her.

Her working with the Bureau meant she could not afford to go to her old ways; however, a situation involving her old gang arose placing her in a difficult situation. She needed to honour her pledge to the bureau, but at the same time to save an innocent life she had to do the bidding of her former gang.

Ethan who so happens to be Chloë’s boss is a man of mystery. He is attracted to Chloë; however, he kept his feelings hidden, because he felt he did not deserve to be happy. In addition, he felt that revealing how he felt would ultimately lead to Chloë getting hurt. He came off as formal and uptight, but as the story progressed we see that there was more to him. The author’s portrayal of Ethan was engaging and I enjoyed discovering what made him tick. There were so many layers to him. His focus has always been work and governance, but all that change when Chloë entered his life. He now had someone and something worth fighting for, so when Chloe confided in him about her situation he helped her to conceive a plan as for how to approach this dire situation without involving the Bureau. Will their plan succeed?

The start was engaging. At this point, the pacing was fast, but then the story slowed down somewhat as the focus of the story was on the development of Ethan and Chloë’s relationship. It maintained that pace until around 40% the story when Chloe and Ethan found themselves in an untenable position. This aspect of the story had me on the edge of my seat. I could not wait to find out if the rogues would achieve their diabolical plan or if Chloe and Ethan would be able to stop them before they did.

Chloë is impetuous making her the complete opposite of Ethan, but despite their differences, they were great for each other. I loved that they trusted each other both professionally and personally. I loved the pace at which their romance developed. It was not an insta-love connection. Their feelings for each other grew overtime which proved that what they had was the real deal. The supporting characters played their part in making the story enjoyable.

Overall, this was a good story and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. ‘Tall, Dark and Deadly is a well-written story that will keep you glued to the pages from start to finish. If you love paranormal romance then you will love this book.



The Wright Brother - K.A. Linde

I tend to be an eager beaver when it comes to trying out a new author, which, my mounting TBR list reflects.  K. A Linde was never on my radar until I read the synopsis for her latest release, ‘The Wright Brother”.   While I had some misgivings, I must admit I was somewhat intrigued by the premise and so I decided to give this book a chance.  I am glad I did.  If you are a fan of sexy, sweet, dramatic and poignant stories, then you will love Jensen and Emery’s story.

 

Emery had left Lubbock, West Texas after graduating from high school. She relocated to Austin, Texas and is currently pursuing her PhD in history.  When she discovered that, her boyfriend of three years had cheated on her, she made the decision to resign from the PhD program and return home. She knew returning home would mean encountering her ex, an encounter she was not looking forward to,  as she had sworn off men, especially those from the Wright family. However, what she never counted on was falling in love, especially with a Wright brother.  Her portrayal piqued my interest in learning more about her. There were so many aspects to her and it was interesting getting to know each one of them.

 

Jensen, Wright, billionaire and CEO of Wright Construction has sworn off committed relationships after being betrayed by his ex-wife. He has since become a love them and leave them kind of guy, so when he saw Emery at his sister’s wedding his only thought was a one-time hookup.  Women fell at his feet every chance they get so you can imagine how surprised he was when Emery rejected his advances. However, being the type of person who goes after what he wants he would not let one rejection deter him. However, discovering that she used to date his brother, Landon, made things a bit complicated, as he could not stop thinking about her.

 

“Speaking of Miranda, I heard she freaked out last night.” Landon blew out a grateful breath at the change of subject. “Yeah, bro, my ex-girlfriend Emery Robinson was there. You remember her?” My body stilled, and everything narrowed down to that name. “Emery Robinson,” I whispered. “Yeah. You know, my high school girlfriend. I didn’t even recognize her, and Miranda was pissed that she hadn’t been informed she’d be there.” “You didn’t recognize her?” I whispered as horror and realization began to dawn on me. “Nope. How fucked up is that?” I ran a hand back through my short hair and closed my eyes. “Fuck.” “What?” Landon asked in confusion. I shook my head. This could not be happening. Em— my mysterious Em, my fucking Cinderella— was Emery Robinson. Of course, she would recognize me. But I hadn’t seen her in… God, ten years. No wonder she had ran away from me. I’d just tried to pick up my brother’s ex-girlfriend.

 

Jensen is a man with many secrets. Forced to abandon his dreams to take care of his siblings and to assume control of the family business when his parents died changed him. In addition, he has issues where trust was concerned, which was understandable given what is ex-wife put him through. He approaches everything in his life like a business and does not get emotionally involved except when it came to his siblings.

The story reminded me that love happens when we least expect it and at times with the most unlikely person.  Emery and Jensen would discover the truth of this statement in due course.  

 

Their attraction is mutual, but circumstances called for them to move cautiously.  Their interaction with each other at times was entertaining and heartbreaking which was due to miscommunication and mixed signals in most instances. Their romance was not all sweet and flowery.  A little steam, angst, and drama added to the mix helped to make things very interesting. 

 

The secondary characters played their role in making the story dramatic and entertaining. Emery’s best friend Heidi was the perfect scene-stealer.  She helped her to keep things in perspective. She is the type of friend who has your back no matter the situation.  I cannot wait to read her which I get to understand is next in the series.

 

The drawback to this story was that based on the synopsis I was expecting a little more drama as it relates to Emery’s relationship with the two brothers. In this regard, I found the synopsis misleading, as Landon’s role in regards to his interaction with Emery was minimal.  Then there were the scenes involving Jensen, his ex-wife, and their big secret.  Personally, I thought the author went a bit overboard with this.  To be honest, this aspect of the story had a soap operatic feel to it.  In spite of this, I found the story to be well written and engaging.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this installment in the Wright series, and I cannot wait to see what next the author will deliver. 

 

Note: This can be read as a stand-alone.

 

 

Darling Dark - Natalie Bennett

I chose to read Darling Dark because I found the blurb and the cover fascinating. I went into this book with high expectations but instead what I got was disappointment. Well-written stories that portray dynamic characters and have a good plot are the kind that gets my reading juices flowing; unfortunately, this book failed me in that regard.

The characters did not appeal to me. They were flat resulting in me not having a connection with them. The story would have been captivating if we had the characters’ back-stories. I felt like I was reading about strangers. The author gave a disclaimer about the male protagonist at the start of the book, so of course, his actions came as no surprise to me. However, I was expecting that behind all that cruelty would lie a tortured soul that was capable of redemption. Reyes was definitely not that person. His cruelty knew no bounds. All who encountered him feared him and not in a good way, so it was no surprise that the heroine would want nothing to do with him.

When the story began the female protagonist, Duvessa, is captured and is forced to bond with Reyes. He forces himself on her and reminds her every chance he that she belongs to him. There was lots of sex, but the story was not in the least sexy. Frankly, there is nothing sexy about a man forcing himself on a woman and trying to bend her to his will. To make things worse, Duvessa is struggling to reconcile her feelings of hate and love towards Reyes.

For most of the story, I felt like I was missing something. There were conflicts, but I had no idea what caused them. In addition, the story was in need of an editor. There were many spelling and grammatical mistakes, which proved to be very distracting. This also played a role in diminishing my enjoyment of the story. Another thing I found disturbing about this story was discovering Reyes’ reason for holding Duvessa captive. It did nothing more than to reinforce the extent of his cruelty. Then there was the cliffhanger. Seriously! I wish I had gotten a heads up, then I would have been better prepared for the abrupt ending.

Verdict:
This had the potential to be a good story, but the under developed characters and the lack of editing destroyed that prospect. Please note that this is not a romance. It is fantasy mixed with erotica, so if this is not your thing then this story is not for you.


Under Her Skin (Blank Canvas Book 1) - Adriana Anders
Now and then, I come across a book that tests my boundaries and forces me to re-think my views on controversial and hard-hitting topics. “Under Her Skin” was one such book. From the moment, I read the blurb I knew this would be an interesting read and so I was glad when Netgalley approved my request.

Not only is the story an emotional read, it is also thought-provoking. I know that this story is likely to be a trigger for persons who have been in a similar position. This story was a vivid reminder that some women may find themselves in a relationship that proves to be toxic both mentally and physically. At times, they find excuses to justify their reasons for remaining in such a relationship. Some of these same women will look deep within themselves to find the courage to escape such a situation and take back their lives. This is a story about one such woman.

Uma was in a relationship with a powerful man. When they first met, he was as charming as ever, but that all changed as their relationship progressed. The signs were there, but she stuck it out believing that things would change. Unfortunately, that was not the case, things went downhill and before she knew it, she was running for her life.

The story started slow and it maintained that pace to the end. Although the pacing was slow, the story was not boring. The pacing was perfect for this kind of story. This is the kind of story that deserves to be savoured and not rushed.

This is not a sweet and flowery romance. It is a story about two broken souls finding love when they least expect it. Uma is running for her life and getting close to anyone, especially a man was not on her list of priorities. What she never expected to encounter was the brooding and scary stranger who would become her lifeline in her journey of reclaiming her life.

From the moment Ivan laid eyes on Uma, he knew she was a victim of abuse having experienced it first-hand. He wanted to help, but this would prove challenging, as she was afraid to put her trust in him, which is understandable given her history. She would soon come to realise that he is nothing like her ex-fiancée but, that did stop her from being wary. He helped her realise that she need not be afraid. He gave her hope. This reminded me that a relationship with the right person could be a wonderful and powerful experience.

Their interaction was poignant. The author’s portrayal of Uma and Ivan made it easy to establish a connection with them. I felt every emotion that they experienced. I enjoyed watching Uma overcome her fears and regain her confidence. They helped each other in their healing process.

I enjoyed the romance, which did not take place until around the second half of the story. It moved slowly, which was a good thing for them both. Her need for control in this was understandable and I loved that Ivan allowed her to take charge.

The supporting characters were diverse, some were likable and some not so much. The one that peaked my interest was Uma’s new employer. At first, her behavior was mean, but beneath all that, meanness laid a soul that has had its share of pain. I loved that Uma stood up to her making their interaction entertaining.

Verdict:

Under Her Skin is everything I expected it to be. It is an unforgettable story about love, hope, and healing. I enjoyed every moment of this powerful, emotional and thought-provoking read and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

NB: This can be read as a stand-alone.
Laguna Dreams, Laguna Beach Book 5 - Kaira Rouda


I received this book through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own

Laguna Dreams the 5th book in the Laguna Beach series was a short and quick read. This instalment tells the story of Phillip Kensington and Amanda Crown. I met Amanda briefly in the previous instalment and at the time I was curious to know if a story would be written about her.

Phillip owns a winery and is on the verge of getting married. When I saw this, I thought that the story would be centred on a love triangle theme; however, this was not the case. There was no cheating involved. Phillip has been having second thoughts about his upcoming nuptials long before he met Amanda, but did not have the guts to end his engagement. That changed, however, when he met Amanda. This does not mean that things went smoothly after that.

The scene involving their initial meeting was funny and sweet. When he first met Amanda, he believed her to be homeless. This, however, did not put a damper on his attraction to her. His actions at the time demonstrated that he was a compassionate man; however, his compassion would prove to be his weakness. I surmised this from the way he handled the situation with his fiancée. I also found him to be inflexible. He planned everything in his life even the age when he would get married and it is for that reason he found himself in his current situation. He was willing to accept his fiancee's behaviour just to ensure his life went has how he planned it.

Amanda is the daughter of Alexa Crown, star of the soap opera Days and Nights. Anna’s heart is not into acting; however, her mother had other ideas. She kept forcing her to take on inconsequential roles, and Amanda being the dutiful daughter gave in to her demands. This went on for some time until an unfortunate scene on set had her rethinking her decision to give into her mother's demands. At that moment she realised that she needed to take charge of her life. What she did not know was that decision would lead to a major change in her life. I enjoyed seeing Amanda taking charge of her life and doing what she wanted, and not what her mother expected.

The chemistry between Amanda and Phillip was evident from the first meeting and was undeniable by their second encounter. These two were perfect for each other, but circumstances in the form of Phillip’s ex-fiancée was determined to keep them apart. I have seen and read about crazy women but she beat them all. She refused to accept the truth even when it was staring her in the face. Who keeps planning a wedding after the man you were supposed to marry ended the relationship, well she did. Crazy does not even begin to describe her.

I enjoyed the romance and the drama, which kept me turning the pages, as I needed to know how it all would unfold. What I did not like, however, was the speed at which the story ended. The situation involving Phillip’s fiancée did not sit well with me. I thought that aspect of the story lacked development. She never answered for what she did, providing her with the opportunity to do it to someone else. Another issue I had was how quickly Phillip developed a bond with Amanda's friends. This took place over one weekend. I also had issues with how her mother was so quick to accept Phillip after her many attempts to get her to hook up with a particular soap opera star. I believe that these issues took away from the authenticity of the story.

Verdict:
Laguna Dreams is a sweet romance that demonstrates that at times we need to move out of our comfort zone so that we can cease the opportunities that this great big universe has to offer. Despite the issues mentioned, I found this to be an ok read and one I would recommend to fans of contemporary romance. There is no need to read the previous books prior to reading this installment.


Lost in Between - K.L. Kreig

‘It takes a special girl to open a boy’s eyes to what’s right in front of him, Willow. But when he realizes it, he’ll fight to the death for her and only her. Don’t settle until you find that man.’

 
This is my first time reading this author’s work, but I heard great things about her and I could not wait to delve into the pages of her latest book.  “Lost In Between, which is the first book in a two-part series, is a beautifully written story about sacrifice, survival, and love.
The prologue was intriguing and it made me eager to see how the rest of the story would unfold. In it, we see the heroine, (Willow Blackwell), running out on fiancée. It was clear from that moment that she was dealing with some deep-seated issues and I was curious to discover what they were.
 
“Lost In Between which is told from dual POVs tells the story of Willow Blackwell and Shaw Mercer. Willow dreamed of being an actress, however, circumstances led to her giving up on that dream. In a bid to survive financially, she narrates audio books by day works as an escort by night. The latter was a last resort, as it was the only way to secure enough funds to pay her mother’s medical bills.
 
We look pretty, we adorn our clients, we dote, we mingle, we act the part we’re given, and we go home at the end of the ‘date’ a few hundred or thousand dollars richer, with our legs shut and our pride intact.
 
She lived for the day when she will be able to give up her night job. Shaw Mercer, the golden boy of Seattle may just be the answer to her problems. Shaw is in need of a girlfriend, preferably a fake one and this is where Willow comes in, for only $250,000.00, and she would pretend to be just that for four months. 
Four months of my life is a small price to pay to get out from under this financial stress plaguing me. If Shaw wants to pay me a stupid amount of money to play his girl friend, I will take it and walk away with a clean conscience when our contract ends. 
Willow is not looking to have a committed relationship. Her focus is on getting her business off the ground. She experienced loss at an early age. The kind of loss that brought about devastating changes as a result, she is still trying to figure out who she was as a person. She feels lost and as a result, she does not allow anyone to get close to her. She pushed people away to protect herself from hurt. She is a woman with many secrets. She is a complicated character and I enjoyed uncovering all her layers. 
‘…if loving someone – anyone – eventually leads to heartbreak, loss, and mourning, why do we do it? Why do we continue to let people into our lives, our hearts? Steal our very soul out from under us before we realize a vital piece of us is forever missing?’
 
Shaw is a player and just like Willow, he has commitment phobia. Long-term commitment is not on his list of priorities, but his family had other ideas. He is arrogant, over-confident and sexy. Willow was unlike any woman he has ever been with before. She challenged him, she had him jumping through hoops and she made him feel things he never felt before.  Will he be able to walk away when the contract expires? This is so much more than a romance story.  It touched on some heavy issues such as drug abuse and suicide. These issues, in general, can be traumatic as such, it was it easy to understand the pain and hurt the protagonists were experiencing being so close to such a situation.
 
Sexual tension permeated the pages of the book. The attraction between them is instantaneous and undeniable. They fought the attraction as giving into it could lead to complications, but lines are easily crossed and when they did, it was explosive.
 
No story is worth its salt without a dynamic supporting cast; well this story had it in spades.  The secondary characters helped to stir things up, making for an interesting read, especially that twist near to the end. I certainly never saw that one coming.
 

I loved everything about this book, well, except for the ending. It left me hanging and now I will be waiting, somewhat impatiently, for the release of the sequel.

Exposure - Kelly Moran

"We were supposed to be finished. I know, but I can't seem to quit you."

Exposure is sexy, captivating and provocative. This is a story of love, passion, and mystery that will have you hooked from the first page. From the moment I read the blurb, I knew this would be a book worth reading.

Raven Crowne is the sole proprietor of an Art Gallery. She suffers from a paralyzing fear of strangers, especially those of the male persuasion. She is slowly recovering from the state of depression that she had experienced for years. Her fears contributed to her need for control, especially in the bedroom. In light of this, it must have been a bit discomforting when she began receiving sexy and steamy anonymous notes for the five years on her birthday and on the odd occasion. (Who is this mystery man and why hasn’t he revealed himself?) The only man she trusts is her best friend since college Noah Caldwell.

Noah is the only child of a New Jersey senator. He is a billionaire whose wealth came from inherited money and monies he earned from his adventure start-up company. What he feels for Raven goes beyond mere friendship, but he never made his feelings known. His reasons for not telling her how he felt was understandable and proved that he did care. He too had a need for control, which should prove interesting when he and Raven got together.

From the moment I met Raven, I found her an interesting character. She overcame the issues from her past to become the successful businesswoman she is today. On the business front, it is evident she is in control, however, in regards to her personal life it was a constant struggle. Noah is a likeable character. I loved how he was protective of Raven, although there were times when I thought his behaviour was a bit too obsessive. This proved overwhelming for Raven as she had a hard time reconciling her feelings for him. There were things about Noah that Raven was not privy to. She would soon discover that here friend was selfless and would lay down his life for those he loved.

I enjoyed the interaction between the characters, which at times was intense, hot and steamy. The dialogue was good and the pacing was perfect. There was never a point where the story dragged. What made the story even more exciting was the element of danger included in the story. It had me turning the pages because I was eager to discover how that aspect of the story would unfold. Their pasts were proving a hindrance to their being together. Theirs was a case of trying to make a relationship that started out as a trial into something worth fighting for.

Verdict:
This is an emotional friend to lovers story that is loaded with lots of hot and steamy scenes. The writing, which is solid, held me captive throughout the entire story. This was an incredible combination of steamy erotic romance, drama, suspense and emotional healing.

This was my first time reading Kelly Moran’s work, and it will not be my last. I loved this story, would definitely recommend it.


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Mayhem (A Twisted Hearts Love Story, #2) - Autumn Sand

I read Bedlam, the first book in the Twisted Hearts Love Story series, which for me was an ok read. I had it in my intention to read Mayhem, the second book in the series, but never got around to it. Thanks to Quirky Blind Date, I finally got the chance to take it off my TBR list and placed it on my read list.

 

 

First off, I have to say that I enjoyed this instalment more than I did the first one. Please note that reading Bedlam before Mayhem is not necessary, however, the characters from book 1 make an appearance in the second instalment.

 

I enjoyed the story line, which is not typical of what one would come to expect from romance novels. Romance, suspense, and drama permeated the pages of the book and it was enough to keep me entertained. The story pulled me in from the first page and at that moment Dante, aka Tick captured my heart. When I met him in Bedlam he did nothing for me, but learning about him in this instalment changed my entire perspective about him.

 

The protagonists were dynamic. They were two broken souls living in the pain of their past. Dante lived his life constantly in a prison of his own making. He blamed himself for the loss of his family, even though it was beyond his control. He has lived with this guilt for 10 years. I could relate to him on this matter, having lost someone who was very dear to me. I know first-hand how easy it is to blame ourselves, believing we did not do enough.

 

Cyma (An unusual name) has been through hell and back. I understood her fears as it relates to getting involved with Dante. I did not blame her after all she had been through its only logical. I admired her strength and independence. I did not like how she almost allowed her pride to prevent from accepting help to save her daughter.

 

I found the situation with Cyma's daughter heartbreaking. I empathized with Cyma, having to watch her daughter deteriorating before her eyes, not sure if she will be able to get her help in time. There was a point when I thought all hope may have been lost, but then things turned around for the better. That made my heart leap with joy.

 

I liked almost everything about this book, except for the part where Dante in practically every thought he had about Cyma kept saying 'My woman'. I did not see the need to reiterate it.

 

Verdict

Mayhem was a heartwarming story about two broken souls who never expected to have a second chance at love. It was a captivating read from start to finish. It is a story about loss, love, and rebirth. It demonstrates that grieving the loss of loved ones is natural, but we should not allow it to consume us. It also shows that accepting help does not take away from our independence. We all need help at some time in our lives as 'no man is an island, and no man stands alone'.

Defending Jagger (Search & Seek Book 1) - Amanda Mackey

I had the privilege of receiving this book via Quirky Blind Date for my reading pleasure. My review is voluntary and I received no compensation whatsoever.

When I received this book, I had no idea what to expect, as I never heard of the author before. This was a new experience for me; however, based on the synopsis I figured that it would be an interesting journey. Defending Jagger tells the story of a young man sentenced to spend twenty years of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit and the teacher who made it her mission to prove his innocence.

Rosalind McAllister teaches creative writing at the Arizona State Prison. She chose this career as she hoped to make a difference and she believed that in teaching in the prison system she could accomplish that goal. She is brave, intelligent and compassionate. She had her share of disastrous relationships; as such, she was not looking for love. Therefore, the last place she expected to find it was in a prison.

Jagger Reid worked his way into my heart the moment I met him. Adapting to prison life changed him in many ways, but the one thing that remained the same was his compassion. He did not have an easy life growing up, but he tried to make the best of it. He was a natural protector, which was clear from the fact that he was willing to go to prison for a crime he did not commit, in a bid to protect his brother. He was selfless and never did he stop to think about the effect that his actions would have on him.

The secondary characters were interesting, but the one that intrigued me was Cutter. I hoped for more information about him, but it was not forthcoming. I knew why he was in prison, but I had no idea as to the circumstances that led to that particular incident. Who was he? What kind of life did he have while growing up? Based on how he related to Jagger, he did not strike me as a cold-blooded person. I found his banter with Jagger entertaining. Their bond went beyond friendship.
The story elicited a range of emotions. It made me laugh, angry and sad. I laughed at Cutter and Jagger’s antics, I was angry, when I learned about the issue surrounding Jagger's incarceration and I was sad for all he had to endure in prison.

Defending Jagger is an engaging read and emotional story about the sacrifices made for the ones we love. It demonstrates how easy it is for one to pass judgement on others without knowing their circumstances. It will tug at your heartstrings and have you turning the pages, as you will be eager to know the outcome.



At Close Range (Tracers) - Laura Griffin

I got my first taste of Laura Griffin’s work when I read Deep Dark, book 10 in the Tracer series, which I enjoyed as such when the opportunity came to read At Close Range, I could not resist. There is no need to read the earlier books in the series before reading this installment as it is possible to read it as a stand-alone.

In this installment, we meet Daniele Harper, a detective who came from a family of law enforcement officials. She became the lead investigator on a high-profile case, which involved the murder of a professor, and his mistress. This case had the potential to make or break her career. Her involvement in the case led to her working closely with her longtime crush Scott Black. Scott is a former Navy Seal who now works as a ballistics expert with the Delphi Centre, a private forensics laboratory.

The attraction between Dan but they were off-limits to each as Scott was her brother’s best friend. Things between them became tense between them when Scott became a suspect in her current case. He was not about to sit back and wait for things to play out, his priority was in proving his innocence. Not only does Dani have to deal with her feelings for the man, who is the main suspect, she has to face resentment from colleagues who felt she did not deserve the role of lead investigator on the case. Then more bodies began turning up causing all involved to step back and view things differently. Things became more complicated when Scott discovered that someone wanted Dani dead. Is this related to the current case or is it isolated?

Daniele is stubborn, tenacious, determined and brave; however, there were times when her actions went a bit overboard. I guess this was mostly due to her wanting to prove that she could handle the role of lead investigator. Scott is a protector by nature and he would do what it takes to protect Daniele even if it meant interfering with the investigation. He is not afraid to colour somewhat outside the lines when the need arises.

When the story began, it had me on the edge of my seat due to the tense, edgy and thrilling scene that was taking place. At that moment, I knew there would be interesting times ahead for this story. The pace slowed down somewhat, but this was due to the ongoing investigation. Twists and surprises permeated the pages of the book. When I thought I had it figured out the author throws in a twist that had me rethinking my original stance. The pace picked up at around fifty percent (50%) of the book. From then it was an adrenaline-pumping ride.

These two danced around each for a long time, that when they finally took the plunge, it was explosive. In spite of this, however, I felt that the romance needed more developing.

Verdict:
If you enjoy stories with lots of action, suspense and mystery, you will love At Close Range. It will keep you guessing at every page turn, which makes it an exciting and thrilling read.


Rescued by Love - Melissa Foster

Writing this review proved a difficult task. Why? After reading Chased by Love, which I loved, I was looking forward to reading Rescued by Love so much so, that I chose to read on the weekend when I would have little or no interruptions. I wanted to savour every moment, but unfortunately, things did not go as planned. I had a difficult time getting into the story, which is a first for me where the author is concerned. The story was slow to the point that it felt like it was not going anywhere. It was not until about the last 30% that the story picked up.

 

Developing a connection with the main characters was difficult. Addison had an unhappy childhood even though she lived a privileged life. As an adult, she was determined to prove that she was able to survive without her trust fund. She considered love to be over-rated and denied that she needed it in her life. To prove her theory, she never slept with the same man more than once. Personally, I believed her actions reeked of self-loathing. Initially, I understood her need to be independent, but after some time her actions became frustrating. She refused to accept help when offered for fear it may rob her of her independence. Seriously! That only highlighted her insecurities and her selfishness.

 

I was not sure what to make of Jake. It was evident that he was a hot, sexy, alpha male with a stubborn streak a mile long, but that was as far as it went. His backstory was severely lacking, which made him an unmemorable character.

 

The romance did nothing for me. Addison spent most of the time that they were together, denying her feelings. They got involved with each other without knowing much about one another. Their connection was more sexual than emotional.

 

I enjoyed the connection between family and friends, which was the author’s trademark. I never tire of reading about the bonds of family and friendships. Verdict: Did I enjoy this installment? : Somewhat. Would I continue the series? : Most definitely. Would I recommend this title? Yes! Not every reader has the same taste, and what I find to be mediocre, may be top notch for someone else. This story was my least favourite of the series.

 

Verdict: Did I enjoy this installment? : Somewhat.

Would I continue the series? : Most definitely.

Would I recommend this title? Yes! Not every reader has the same taste, and what I find to be mediocre, may be top notch for someone else.

 

This story was my least favourite of the series.

IN Defiance (An Ivy Nash Thriller, Book 1) - John W. Mefford

I have been following John Mefford’s work ever since I read his Booker series. When I discovered that, he would be releasing a new series I could not wait to find out more about his new heroine Ivy Nash. She is a special investigator for Child Protective Services, who is a firm believer in fighting for the wellbeing of children. These beliefs were due to the poor treatment she received as a child. She grew up in a variety of foster homes, which led to her having first-hand experience as to what children who grew up in the same conditions had to face.

 

Ivy is one of those characters that readers of this genre would love. She is strong, independent, and not one to back down at the first sign of trouble. She was determined not to allow the pain from her past to dictate her present. These traits were demonstrated when she went above and beyond to prove the innocence of a ten-year-old boy who had confessed to murder. Was he guilty or was he just another victim who fell prey to his circumstances?

 

From the moment, I began the story I knew it was going an entertaining read. I found the story to be interesting, well-written and thought-provoking with well-developed characters. It highlighted the problems of foster care, where children instead of feeling safe, find themselves in abusive situations and facing a variety of atrocities. In addition to the thrilling ride, there were some heart-breaking moments. This seems to be a worldwide epidemic.)

 

This was quite the page-turner, which had me guessing from one moment to the next. There were tense moments that had me on the edge of my seat while I anxiously awaited the outcome. There are several stories taking place that appears unrelated, however, as the story progressed the connection became evident.

 

This is a great start to what appears to be another exciting series by Mr. Mefford. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment.