Don’t is an intense erotic romance M/M suspense that centers around a young man whose abusive past is being slowly revealed when he begins to receive messages from his past. Jack uses BDSM to control his dark impulses of OCD/ODD. He plays sub to the man who saved him and offered him an outlet for his pain. When he begins to receive these messages, Jack finds himself slipping back into his destructive ways as the two men who love him most try to stop his descent into madness and possible death.
Don’t takes you on a fantastical schizophrenic ride through pain and pleasure as you are sunk deep into the world of BDSM and follow Jack’s journey from sexual pain and pleasure to love. Dark and seductive, you find yourself slowly falling in love with Jack as you learn of his past and present. Though Jack subs for his Master, Grey, he’s not a true sub. He is a switch that helps to train other Doms. The rigid structure and rules helps Jack with his destructive impulses. When he meets Jan, he finds himself wanting more than just sexual release. He wants a relationship with this man who appeals to him on all levels. As Jack attempts to facilitate a relationship with Jan, his peccadillos come into play causing strife between he and Jan, and Grey steps into with a contract for Jan and Jack. For one week, Jack plays sub for Jan. This sets their relationship on a destructive course as Jan is NOT a Dom and doesn’t understand the rules and nuances when engaging in such a relationship. When Jan makes a dangerous mistake, Jack’s already frayed nerves explodes in a tidal wave of jealousy and pain and we see him run headlong into danger. Jan and Grey struggle to hold on to Jack but the damage has been done and now they can only hope that Jack will come back to them and the life they all want.
This was not an easy read for me. I am not a fan of pain and humiliation, regardless of the consensual nature, and it took me out of my comfort zone at times. Though uneasy at times, the fast pacing and a strong storyline will hold you hostage as you maneuver through a labyrinth of twists and turns that would make Machiavelli stand up and take notice. Don’t will take you through an emotional wringer. You will laugh, cheer, rage, and then exhale in relief once the pain finally resides. It will break your heart and rebuild it in the blink of an eye. Scorching chemistry leaves you panting for more as these three men battle for sexual dominance and relief. The characters are all well developed and richly defined. You will pray for their salvation and HEA, even as you plot their deaths for some of the decisions they make.
Jack, of course, was my favorite. A gorgeous strong man who vulnerabilities and past speak to you in a way that has you wanting to wrap him up and protect him from the world and those around him. Though given the tools he needs to survive by his Master, you are made aware that he has a hard time existing in the world. The very tools he needs will leave you feeling battered, bruised and there were more than one instance where I wanted to jump in the book and shield him from the pain I knew was coming. Jan and Grey I had a harder time liking. Grey, a master Dom who owns a club that trains other Doms, is a dark secretive man whom we aren’t given much insight into beyond what Jack tells us. The brief times Grey speaks his mind, his secretive nature is reflected in his dialogue. He is not a man to explain his reasons to anyone and while it is self explanatory as to why he is that way, it leaves you somewhat mystified by his actions. Jan kept me on pins and needles. While I liked him overall and understood his reluctance towards a relationship with Jack, I also felt he laid his own fears and issues on Jack and the resulting pain made me antagonistic towards him a times. The main plot of the story is mind boggling in its layered duplicity and the suspense will keep you firmly buried in the book until the very end. I can’t really expand upon it much more without spoiling.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I did have a few problems with it. Grey and Jack’s inability to speak plainly and explain their wants, needs, and desires is frustrating. So much could have been avoided. Then, the fact they give Jan all the power of a Dom when he plainly didn’t understand it was shocking. His actions are distasteful in certain scenes. When his ignorance causes him to do some things that made me want to bang his head repeatedly against a wall, I was at my wits end with him and wanted him gone. Grey steps in to help but his way of helping wasn’t appealing nor understandable to me. It seemed his own needs interfered and once again, Jack is the victim of the outcome. At that point I wanted them both gone. Yet, Pyke is able to dig deep into their emotional psyches and while you aren’t pleased about what they did, you understand why they did the things they did. Pyke uses it all as a strong lesson to us and the characters.
The ending is fraught with action and danger and leaves you trembling at the outcome as we learn the reasons behind the messages. We are offered a small HFN at the end though I would love if Pyke were to revisit this relationship and let us know how and if it all works in the future.
Don’t is an appealingly dark and emotional MM erotic romantic suspense that addresses the world of BDSM and those who choose to use it as a respite in their turbulent lives. We see that pain and pleasure can co exist and that sometimes the harder the journey is, the greater the rewards.(less)
If this is the last in the series then I will be severely disappointed. A brief interlude where Caroly and Didler travel outside the city and take a h...moreIf this is the last in the series then I will be severely disappointed. A brief interlude where Caroly and Didler travel outside the city and take a house in the country. I felt disconnected to this installment. Caroly's voice irritated me for some reason. So formal and constricted; no real warmth. I enjoyed the story overall but I felt as if Caroly still sees him as a prostitute...just one she owns completely. There is also no real ending. Not even a hint of an HFN. It just stops. I'd like some resolution.(less)
Favorite Quote: "Losing to the devil himself has never been sexier"
The Downfall Of A Good Girl is a classic enemies to lovers trope centering around “good girl” Vivienne (Vivi) LeBlanc and “bad boy” Connor Mansfield. Vivi is a quintessential southern debutante. A former pageant queen, she now spends her time running her gallery and working on committees to better her fair city. When she is elected Saint of the annual New Orleans Saints and Sinners Pageant, she is determined to win the coveted title and huge trophy that comes with it. When Conner Mansfield is named the Sinner to her Saint and who she has to compete against, Vivi nearly suffers a complete meltdown. Convinced her nemesis has deliberately come back to town to humiliate her once again, Vivi hardens her resolve and heart against the sexy bad boy.
Conner Mansfield left New Orleans and achieved fortune and fame with his sultry voice and phenomenal piano skills. Though an acknowledged player, the tabloids have painted him as the devil himself and a particularly bad scandal has him coming home for some R&R. When asked to help chair the annual Saints and Sinners Pageant Conner figures that the publicly can’t hurt, especially when paired with Vivi. Her goody two shoe ways will serve as an excellent polish for his tarnished reputation. Conner doesn’t know why Vivi hates him and he doesn’t care. But when he starts spending more time with her, he realizes that there is more to Vivi than meets the eye and suddenly he wants more than to win the pageant…he wants to win her heart.
A light hearted yet over the top (dramatic wise) romantic contemporary by Harlequin’s new KISS imprint that showcases two strong, independent, people whose hidden vulnerabilities mirror each others. Both feel “defined” by their talents and when faced with the prospect of no longer having them, feel at a loss. Vivi was raised a pageant girl and always does the right thing. Twice she has essentially shown out and each time was left embarrassed and humiliated. After losing a major pageant, she decides that she will no longer give in to temptation and throws herself into her good works, making herself indispensable to the town. Connor has also suffered from temptation, which has been cataloged by the tabloids, blowing up everything he does on and off stage. While he hasn’t done a complete turnabout like Vivi, he does wish people would see him for who he really is.
The sparks fly between these two from their first meeting to the last page. The chemistry is palpable and you instantly know when these two get together, it’ll be off the charts. They often say hate is the flip side of love and I certainly believed it after meeting these two. Both are overly vocal in their dislike of one another and I found their reasons for disliking each other juvenile and overly dramatic at times. Vivi still harbors a grudge from high school and is also jealous of Conner. His dreams came true while she lost hers. I liked the fact that she knows her reasons are silly and that jealousy is a prime motivator and she readily admits it. When she begins to see a change in him, she is able to admit that she, like a lot of others, only looked at the surface. Connor comes to realize as he spends more time with Vivi that she isn’t the shrew she seems to be and that he may have done some things in the past he should apologize for.
The setting of New Orleans and the pageant plotline adds a sense of realism to the story. Romance thrives in New Orleans and no one, even our prickly couple, is immune. Various personable characters round out the storyline, offering advice and dissent to Vivi and Connor’s relationship, causing our couple to look into their hearts for what they really want from their lives and one another. The catalyst is properly turbulent and the ending is sweet though predictable.
My only problem was one I addressed earlier. Vivi and Connor’s arrogance and dislike of one one another presented childishly and very dramatic (especially Vivi) and I honestly had a hard time liking either of them until they began to settle down and act like adults.
Enjoyable new adult with engaging characters and an interesting well plotted story line. Felt a bit YA in some places and the love connection occur...more3.5
Enjoyable new adult with engaging characters and an interesting well plotted story line. Felt a bit YA in some places and the love connection occurred to quickly for me. I would have enjoyed a slower build up. (less)
I really enjoyed this which is surprising as I am thoroughly burnt out on this trope. What appealed to me was even though Lucian is rich with a dub...more3.5
I really enjoyed this which is surprising as I am thoroughly burnt out on this trope. What appealed to me was even though Lucian is rich with a dubious past that tortures him and leaves him emotional bereft and Sophia is vanilla and having issues of her own, we aren't mired in a thick gelatinous mess of emotional angst and self flagellation. The story focuses almost solely on Lucian and Sophia. Sophia is bored and applies for a PA job at an adult entertainment corporation. When Lucian Knight (the owner) meets Sophia, he is intrigued and sets out to seduce her. Mitigating circumstances facilitate the seduction though as with all good intentions...that road leads to hell. The pacing is fast and we are tossed into the story quickly. There were a few things I found to be unbelievable-a plum sized butt plug for a newbie? O_O And Lucian does have that "I am alpha and know what you want and need so you must trust me" attitude, but regardless of a few gray areas, I find myself looking forward to book 2.(less)
Disregarding the appalling editing and formatting, this book was just not for me. I was under the impression this was a horror YA; a modern retelling...moreDisregarding the appalling editing and formatting, this book was just not for me. I was under the impression this was a horror YA; a modern retelling of Shelly's Frankenstein. Instead, it's an emo teen romance that at the 50% mark still hadn't revealed the plot. With the formatting issues-run ons, random word inserts, copy editor notes, ect...and the lackluster story, I'm afraid I wasn't encouraged to finish. I sincerely hope the arc copy I reviewed from Net Galley is not a final copy.(less)
Favorite Quote: “The prize wasn’t to live a perfect life but only to survive the times between the perfect moments that...moreOriginally posted at Smexybooks
Favorite Quote: “The prize wasn’t to live a perfect life but only to survive the times between the perfect moments that come along…“
In Chance of a Lifetime, we are once again submerged into the captivating and extraordinary lives of the residents who call the fictional town of Harmony, TX. home. Dreams, hope, and second chances are all given voice in this installment as we encounter love from the past, the present, and the future.
Emily Tomlinson, the town librarian, is the survivor of a brutal attack. She unconsciously blames her former best friend, Tanner Parker, for not being there when she needed him most. Tanner, a loner, has only his business and the caring for his ill mother to fill his life but he finds himself remembering his friendship with Emily and begins to slowly work his way back into her life; hoping that the feelings they had for one another in the past are only buried and not completely gone.
Rath Matheson, a small time lawyer, is struggling to make his business a success. When a series of accidents leaves him seriously injured, Rath begins to wonder if being a lawyer is worth his life. Rath’s luck changes when Trace Adams arrives in town. Claiming to be the niece of Martha Q and needing a place to stay, Rath finds his body under her fierce protection as she begins to investigate his “accidents.” As Rath and Trace spend more time together, Rath begins to wonder who will protect his heart from breaking when she leaves.
Jodi Thomas’s Harmony series is like receiving letters from home. Brimming with gossip, news of family, and well wishes; you find yourself waiting with anticipation for the next letter to arrive. A smoothly written romantic contemporary that digs deep beneath the facade of a small town and reveals the love, laughter, pain, and heartbreak that resides within. Romance, friendship, and secrets all intertwine and revolve around one another as old and new friends try to find the strength to live and love in the best way they know how. As the story unfolds we are shown the strength of the human heart and it’s capacity to love, learn, and forgive. While the main character of the series, Regan, does not play a role in this installment, other characters who we have come to love are prevalent and we even meet some new residents who show the same capacity to hold our attention and hearts.
Mystery, suspense, and surprising revelations builds a solid storyline in this installment, creating an intriguing read that fills you with strong emotions as you watch those you have come to love fight through the pitfalls of life. Both storylines build slowly and allow us and the players involved to deal with and heal past issues that have frozen them emotionally. Ms. Thomas continues to create multi dimensional characters, expanding and evolving their lives and the world they live in. Not one of them is perfect though each one is a vibrant personality that takes command and dominates the scenes they are in. Ms. Thomas has such a wonderful gift for creating memorable and witty characters. She writes with such intimacy that we are instantly drawn back into their lives as if we never left. These are folks you can find anywhere. They are your friends and loved ones. I like we aren’t promised a happily ever after. The story always leaves off with the promise of more to come and that works because no ones lives are ever over at the words, ” The End.”
I enjoyed seeing glimpses of various town residents from past stories. Ronnie is still growing and seems to have shattered the bonds that tied her to her mother, Dallas. We learn she has a secret and I look forward to learning more about it. I can only hope it involves who I think it does. Bigg, his brother Bran, and Bigg’s roommate are continuing to grow into their own and expanding beyond what the town expects of them. Bits and pieces of all the town residents make their way into the story, which rounds it out beautifully and left me satisfied. Martha Q, one of my favorite characters in the book, is still around and butting into everyone’s business, though she, like Regan, takes a firm seat in the back of the car for this ride.
I only had one problem with this particular installment and that involved Rath’s story. I found the reasoning of the villain behind his accidents to be frivolous after the seriousness of the plot. It was disappointing. That is the reason I gave a B+ instead of my usual A for this series.
This series continues to enchant and delight me and I recommend it to everyone who wants a small town contemporary series with realistic characters, charming romances, strong friendships, and interesting lives that will have you waiting anxiously each new visit. Even though this could be read as a stand alone, I recommend reading the first in the series, Welcome To Harmony. This is a continuation and is written as such.
Overall, I enjoyed the whole series though this one seemed to take the easy route in fixing this couple's relationship. We don't see Els and Henry rea...moreOverall, I enjoyed the whole series though this one seemed to take the easy route in fixing this couple's relationship. We don't see Els and Henry really deal with their issues, rather they just decide to be together. (less)
A brief introduction to Husk's full length novel-The Goblin King and interesting enough to make me add The Goblin King to my TBR. Plus, the cover mode...moreA brief introduction to Husk's full length novel-The Goblin King and interesting enough to make me add The Goblin King to my TBR. Plus, the cover model looks like Dean from Supernatural. #FTW!(less)
Favorite Quote: “What was wrong with us that people kept leaving?”
Molly Hagan is having a bad day. Her husband has not only left her for a younger wom...moreFavorite Quote: “What was wrong with us that people kept leaving?”
Molly Hagan is having a bad day. Her husband has not only left her for a younger woman but has also lost his job in the process. With a small child to care for and no steady income, Molly needs to step up her game. When an old friend offers her a plum position of writing copy for an up and coming bakery, Molly jumps in feet first only to find herself swiftly rethinking her plans when the job threatens to overwhelm her. Engaging in a battle of wits and scones keeps Molly on her toes once romance rears it’s fickle head in the form of sexy British baker,Simon but Molly isn't interested in love until a certain snarly business partner, Nick, enters the fray. Molly begins to settle and begins to imagine a silver lining might be in her future but soon learns that happily ever after isn’t always as easy to get as it is to write.
First off, I must let you all know that Megan Caldwell, aka, Megan Frampton, is my boss at HeroesandHeartbreakers.com. She at no time approached me to review her novel. I requested on Edelweiss and was approved by HarperCollins.
Megan Caldwell’s debut release, Vanity Fare, gives us an intimate ring side seat into the life of Molly Hagen as she deals with divorce, finances, employment, and suddenly becoming a single parent. Liberally laced with humor and grace, I found myself laughing and nodding as Molly slowly finds herself again after 20 plus years of being a married stay at home wife and mother. I enjoyed the fact that we aren’t inundated with off the cuff plot gimmicks or implausible situations as Molly begins to live and deal with being alone. The literary pun angle was cute and added a touch of whimsical to the story. What I really enjoyed about Vanity Fare is that the heroine is a 40 year old woman. Too often it’s the young, gorgeous 20 somethings who get the HEAs and the older women are regulated to the “wise, advice giving friend” role. Divorce is hard enough but it’s even harder when you're tossed aside for someone younger. Caldwell doesn’t sugar coat the ups and downs of divorce for the sake of an HEA in here. She shows us it’s messy, heartbreaking, unfair, and presents it all clearly and without apology.
Character driven, it’s the fast pacing and conversational style writing that enhances the appeal of this story. All the characters are delightfully flawed and engaging. Caldwell has a gift for drawing out her character’s personalities and producing a cast that is not only appealing but familiar. I saw a little of everyone I know in each of them. Aiden, Molly’s six year old, helps seal the deal with his impetuousness and love of Pokemon. Molly’s mother provides an excellent look at turbulent parental relationships and the way love and forgiveness can often heal breaches.Molly’s bff has her back always and she meets some new friends and discovers a new hobby that produces some interesting results.
The romance reveals at a delightfully speed as Molly tries to suss out her attraction to one man while reluctantly dating another. I found her dates with Simon to be humorous while I fell in love with Nick myself. It all develops slowly and though some situations aren’t perfect, they are genuine. I liked that Molly isn’t portrayed as needing to find a replacement for her ex husband to save her. She understands, correctly, that she isn’t in a good place right now and her family and financial needs take precedence over her physical ones. Yet, she has wants, needs, and reading her thoughts on those will bring a chuckle.
Molly’s journey towards financial and emotional independence is a wonderfully witty, charming, and yummy tale that is sure to appeal to readers and foodies alike. Caldwell’s debut is a winner across the board and a perfect addition for everyone’s romance shelf.
Favorite Quote: “You still look a little untainted...we might need to do it again. Just to be sure. “
Shane Hewlett is the newest rogue vampire hunter...moreFavorite Quote: “You still look a little untainted...we might need to do it again. Just to be sure. “
Shane Hewlett is the newest rogue vampire hunter aka “the bitch” for the Tribunal. Fully human, he rocks plenty of attitude and a mohawk as he uses every trick in the book to full fill his contracts. When a sexy woman nearly runs him over while out running a rampaging monster, Shane figures that his life is about to take a turn for the interesting.
Siobhan, a sexy weapon welding druid, is a bad arse warrior who guards the gate between the Fae realm and New York. She uses her magic to kill or send back any Fae that make it through the gate. She has accepted the fact her family doesn't like her but she never thought they would sacrifice her on her 25th birthday. When she learns her virginity is what her family needs for the sacrifice to work, she appeals to Shane for help. Shane, a gentleman to the very end, has no problem helping to relieve her of this problem.
“You’re gorgeous.” “Great. So...” Her voice trailed off, and she gave a one shoulder shrug. “I’m not sure how this is supposed to go. Should I have brought you chocolates or something?”
A Low Down Dirty Shane is a spin off novella from Sierra Dean’s sexy action packed full length Urban Fantasy Secret McQueen series. I adore Sierra’s Secret series so I was very excited when I received this one for review. Jam packed with Sierra’s trade mark action, suspense, and snark; in here we get to know Secret’s trainee-Shane Hewlett-a little bit better. Shane is hilarious. His self deprecation and snarky humor kept me chuckling throughout the book. He’s sexy, obnoxious, and loud yet has a heart of gold and jumps in feet first regardless of his pesky human status.
Fast pacing with an unforgettable plot, the story hooked me right off the bat and had me laughing myself silly as Shane and Siobhan face monsters, druids, and some incredible sexy times that leaves them both wanting to explore the relationship further. One aspect I enjoy about the series as a whole is Ms. Dean’s characters are all badarse in their own ways. Human or supernatural, they all have the ability to hold their own no matter the situation. The romance is plotted well and while it isn't love at first sight, we get a realistic and believable connection between them that was comfortable. Plus, the chemistry is SMOKING!
I thoroughly enjoyed this spin off and look forward to more exploration and widening of Dean’s Secret McQueen world. I have learned there are at least two more in the making. Smexy Detective Taylor will be the main player in one. Woohoo. That’s my man ladies-back off!
At the end of Keeping Secret, we learned that Lucas Raintree is the arse we have always thought he was when he leaves Secret standing at the altar while he handles a small problem for her uncle. He sends Desmond to inform Secret of his defection. *gasp* Though, I have to admit, a small part of me smirked and thought, “You totally deserved this, Secret.”
In Grave Secret, Secret is dealing with her anger towards Lucas by really not dealing with it. She ignores his calls, refuses to accept his apologies, and has essentially declared him persona non grata in her life. She is working to get Desmond back in her life and bed again when Lucas, like the bad penny he is, shows up and informs her that his sister, Kellon, is missing and as pack enforcer and his were queen, (they are bound together regardless of the actually wedding), she needs to find her. Secret is also investigating a rash of murders involving teenagers where her bff Callippe looks to be prime suspect number one, and Secret’s mother is back and wants Secret’s crown…preferably with her head attached to it.
Grave Secret takes us on a wild emotionally telling ride that will leave some cheering, some jeering, but almost everyone wanting book six. Consequences are the base that this story is built upon. After the events in book four, Secret has a lot to answer for. Her continuing efforts to have her cake and eat it too has come back to spank her… hard. She is now having to face the fallout for poor decisions and hasty actions of the past. And they are harsh consequences. She has lost Desmond, she owes Holden, and she must deal with her non breakable bond with Lucas regardless of his humiliation of her. Secret also has to deal with the tribunal and her continuing unpopularity there. And even though she see’s the results of these poor decisions, she still continues to think and react with her emotions rather than her head, putting herself and others in more danger than before.
Sierra Dean’s continuing world expansion and character development of this wickedly noir urban fantasy keeps it fresh and engaging. Non stop action and engaging plot lines will leave you longing for more long after you reach the end. Each installment continues to mature, further revealing insight into Secret’s life and the lives of those around her. Tension builds as Secret is once again making decisions that are emotionally based. They aren’t always the best decisions but they are often the lesser of the two evils. Unfortunately, those decisions have devastating consequences, as Secret is beginning to find out. I wouldn’t recommend starting here if you haven’t read the previous books. This arc is long reaching and each book picks up where the last one leaves off with almost no recap.
Secret McQueen is wore out. Dealing with Lucas and the Eastern Wolf pack, the Vampire Tribunal, and the mess she has made of her love life has left her in need of some serious downtime. But life stops for no one as Secret soon learns. Her love life continues to be one hot mess that reached a pinnacle in book four and now seems to be struggling to regroup. Desmond is back though Holden still features heavily in the mix.
While I love this series, this wasn’t my favorite installment. I really felt this book was more of a bridge between books four and six. The romance, which has begun to overpower the arc and edge this series out of UF territory and into PNR, has become redundant and I’m ready for a decision to be made. I’m not a love triangle fan to begin with and when Secret does something in here that made me question her true feelings and the motivations behind them, I’m almost at my wits end. Let’s just say, when other characters call her to task on it, you know something isn’t right. I won’t spoil but I really hope she starts thinking more with her head and less with her crotch. I do however give kudos to Dean for allowing Secret to make her mistakes and suffer the fallout while continuing to love all the men in her life. Regardless of what the readers want or feel comfortable with, Dean continues to evolve Secret’s love life in a way that stays true to her character. It’s rare to see this sort of romantic quad-angle (?) outside of erotica.
The main storyline is chocked full of action and suspense as Secret is once again forced to step up to an already full plate and deal with multiple issues simultaneously. The subplots begin to intertwine with the main storyline and feed off one another and when a tragic event occurs, we see again the effects of consequences. Only this time, Lucas is at fault and the results don’t bode well for Secret’s future. I sense some shift in their balance of power and I can’t wait to see if this is true in book 6. We are introduced to new enemies who promise us some interesting times in the future. The ending is a dramatic enlightening affair. Taunt action and suspense twists will leave you shocked by the outcome.
Once again, Sierra Dean has brought us screaming through the catastrophe that is Secret McQueen’s life and left us ready for round 6-Secret Unleashed-release date to be revealed.
An enjoyable romantic contemporary set in Australia. The story revolves around a player-Dan, and a ballroom teacher-Alex. Circumstances led them toget...moreAn enjoyable romantic contemporary set in Australia. The story revolves around a player-Dan, and a ballroom teacher-Alex. Circumstances led them together and the story unfolds as these two "dance" their way to love. Multiple subplots enhance the romantic story line along with some very wonderfully developed secondary characters. We watch as both Dan and Alex reevaluate their lives and learn that while we are the product of our childhoods, we are not our parents. A long story that reads quick and smooth.(less)
Favorite Quote: “Big, bad carnivores like to cuddle too, huh?“
Brand has defeated his sadistic brother and taken ownership of his Brood. He is now working to bring his Brood into the 21st century and stop the barbaric behavior they have been indulging in before they drive themselves into extinction. He is also trying to keep Gunni from fading into death. Gunni is still grieving over the violent death of the love of his life, Alice, and it is slowly killing him. When Gunni and Brand chance upon a deadly trapper who has caged members of the Brood, they also encounter Leo, a human who appeals to Gunni and his wolf in ways he has never felt before in a man. But Leo is a shamen and considered an enemy of the Brood. When Leo is hurt trying to help Gunni locate a missing brood member, Gunni heals him, initiating a bond of sorts, and suddenly the hole in his soul begins to close. Now Gunni must make a choice. Will he adhere to Brood tradition and let Leo go? Or will he follow with his heart and accept the healing love Leo can provide?
Marked by Oden picks up a few months after Broods Of Fenrir ended. Brand is struggling to bring his brood under control and dealing with some heavy personal issues with his mate, Dagny. Though we see Brand and Dagny, this installment focuses heavily on Gunni and a romantic relationship he embarks on; to the point where other subplots take a distinct backseat. I admit to being surprised on how much softer this book was. While we still get occasional bouts of violence, you don’t feel the same anger or darkness in here that was felt in book one. I missed that. I expected to get the same story but we don’t in here. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to call this installment an Urban Fantasy. It definitely has a strong PNR feel to it and the romance produced may leave some readers dismayed and a little put out.
I adore Gunni and was pleased to see him in here. My heart broke for him in Broods Of Fenrir and I wasn’t sure how or if Moore would be able to pull him back from the abyss. I was very surprised, but pleased, by the route she choose. Gunni is like Brand; he’s loyal, forthright, and very protective of those he loves and cares about. He will do as commanded by Brand, but he is inching closer and closer to the edge each day. Emotionally crippled, you can literally feel the pain that Gunni carries with him. The guilt of failing Alice and the pain of her dying eats away at him with the sureness of acid.
Leo, a human shaman, is a delightful addition to this world. An interesting mix of human mortality and magic, he has always existed on the edges of society; shunned for his power and his sexuality. When he meets Gunni, the attraction is instantaneous. Leo, an empath, feels the emotional turmoil that rolls through Gunni and attempts to help him, which in turn brings Leo to Gunni’s and his wolf’s attention. Leo is exactly what Gunni needs but Leo is unsure if Gunni is ready to accept love in the form of another male.
Moore does a wonderful job on Gunni and Leo’s romance. She slowly develops their love, allowing them time to get to know one another and adapt to this unusual situation, though the sexual attraction is hot and heavy. I wouldn’t call it erotic because a number of the scenes tease then fade to black, but it works. It’s all very sensual it the telling. Moore focuses more on the emotional aspects; their thoughts and desires, rather than overwhelming us with never ending physical descriptions of the act.
“It was like being devoured and reborn, over and over again… He no longer knew, or cared, where his desire ended and Leo’s began. Because he didn’t want the delicious torment to end, he skirted the edge as long as he could before he gave in…”
Leo and Gunni were good together. It’s an emotional journey for both of them as love has not treated either of them kindly. They not only have to handle their burgeoning feelings for one another but also prejudice in the Brood. I love watching two alpha males work out their differences both in and out of bed.
The secondary characters are all just as richly designed as our protagonists. I enjoy that the woman in this book are as strong and deadly as the men. Moore further enforces this as we watch the women in here deal with death, grief, and revenge. I enjoyed seeing Dagny and Brand, and Isabel makes a few appearances and no, she has not toned down the crazy yet. Moore isn’t one to shy away from controversy and has no qualms about sacrificing a loved character if the story demands it. We are given some lovely clues to future storylines which has me chomping at the bit to see what is in store for them all.
There are three story lines that run concurrently throughout. As stated earlier, the romance is the strongest storyline and takes over the book. I was disappointed that the trapper storyline didn’t develop more and take a stronger stand against the romance. It was interesting and was revealing nicely but fizzled out; though a subplot that developed along side it did play out nicely and I enjoyed the twists injected into it. I also wanted to spend a little more time divulging into the history of the Brood and the other various Broods. Moore gives the information sparingly and I keep hoping for more.
The main conflict wraps up nicely with action, intrigue, and a surprise that I never saw coming. I enjoyed this foray back into Ms. Moore’s world and look forward to visiting again.
Favorite Quote: “I gave up on their dreams and the life we had all planned out. And now I was heading home to face the music.”
Liam left everything and everyone behind, without explanation, in order to pursue his own dreams. Known as the golden boy of Beaumont with a promising football career, Liam had his life all planned out by his family and girlfriend but he knew in his heart that music was his salvation and that if he didn’t leave Beaumont, he would die a slow death. Liam achieves his dreams and is now a famous rock star with the tattoos and the reputation to match…but he never forgot the town or the girl he left behind. When he receives word that his best friend has died, Liam knows that it’s time to head back to Beaumont and see if he can make his next dream come true…get the girl he left behind.
Josie knew that Liam would be coming home to Beaumont when he received news of his best friend’s death. When he left ten years ago, she was devastated. He gave her no reason why and she felt as if her heart and soul had been ripped out of her chest. She tried to call him for an explanation but he changed his number and for all intents and purposes, disappeared from her life. Josie picked up the pieces of her broken heart and eventually moved on with her life. She now has a successful business, a loving fiance, and a son whom she cherishes. She isn’t sure if she wants to see Liam or find out why he left her, but she has one very important reason that will force her to confront the man who changed her life with one single word-Goodbye.
Forever My Girl is a modern day love story that speaks of second chances with love, heartbreak, redemption, hope, and of course, laughter. This book stayed with me long after I read the last page. Emotionally plump with a well plotted storyline, we get a ringside seat as we watch Liam and Josie both try to understand and come to terms with what exactly happened to them ten years ago. You want to lay all the blame at Liam’s feet but as the story develops, you realise that you can’t. There were mistakes made on both sides. Extremely character driven, it’s very easy to submerge yourself into the town’s residents lives and develop affection for them. Josie is a wonderful single parent who has admirably dealt with the hand life gave her with humor, intelligence, and patience. She is scared, angry, and still harbors a deep vein of pain that time has not healed. Her life stopped on that fateful day he left and while she has gone on with her life, a large piece of her never got over him.
“You don’t get to come in here and demand answers, Liam. You’ve been off playing rock star. You’re the famous Liam Page. You left this…You left me. There’s no room for you here.”
Liam is wonderful in that he doesn’t roar back into town, intent on picking up where he left off. He knows he hurt Josie and accepts that fact that he may never get her back into his life as a lover or even a friend. He knows he needs to make amends to everyone, not just Josie, and explain why he did what he did. He too has hurt the entire time he was gone. His dream may have come true but he never forgot Josie and he never gave away his heart to another woman because she has held it since they were teenagers.
“I told her I’d love her forever. I said I love you first and promised to never let her go. “
I found that the story itself is pretty straight forward in it’s delivery. While I enjoyed this tale, it’s the characters who breathe life into this story and elevate it beyond a simple contemporary romance. Dynamic in development, Ms. McLaughlin has created real people who could be anyone we know. They are easy to relate to. Their joys, fears, wants, and needs are laid bare and we are allowed to share in their journey as they experience the hard lessons life sometimes hands us. The journey isn’t perfect and each person has issues that need to be resolved. The execution, each chapter alternates points of view between Liam and Josie, flows smoothly and offers a unique view into their mind set. Normally, I’m not a fan of this setup but in here it works. We aren’t inundated with previous chapter recaps as each character gives voice to their thoughts and feelings.
“I thought for sure we’d spend forever together. I thought our love was one of a kind. I would almost be okay if he had met someone else and fallen in love, but he didn’t. He just left. He said he was suffocating.”
Josie and Liam are wonderful together. The chemistry explodes between them from the first time they see each other again. Ms. Mclaughlin doesn’t use tired cliches, mind numbing angst, emotional whining to facilitate their romance. Theirs is not an instant re connection and I appreciated that. Their reconciliation is slow and realistic as we are given glimpses into their past together and try, along with them, to understand exactly what went wrong and where. There is something powerful about watching two people who are given a second chance. I really enjoyed how Ms. Mclaughlin doesn’t give us an easy fix to their relationship. The characters have to work hard to repair the damage to their lives and hearts. You can feel the anger, resentment, confusion, and hurt rolling off of them. It’s painful at times to watch as these two struggle to learn about each other again and find a way to forgive each other and themselves. Can they work past it all? Well, you’ll have to read to find that out.
Equally engaging secondary characters round out the story and add depth to Liam and Josie’s journey. Katelyn, good friend to both Liam and Josie, is the voice of reason as she doesn’t so much champion Liam as she softly encourages Josie to just listen. We learn more about Liam’s uneasy relationship with his parents and how they contributed to his leaving in the beginning. We are also gifted with a potential secondary romance and an intriguing subplot that could destroy them all.
The ending is wonderfully satisfying in that while we aren’t given a HEA, we are given hope for our couple. All in all, Forever My Girl is a must have for lovers of romantic contemporaries with sexy rock stars and the strong heroines they love and has me looking forward to the second installment of the Beaumont Boys series.