I hit the 48% mark and couldn't go any further. I found Ava's "I am woman hear me roar and be a bitch to everyone" annoying and Dominic on the sliDNF
I hit the 48% mark and couldn't go any further. I found Ava's "I am woman hear me roar and be a bitch to everyone" annoying and Dominic on the slimy side. The dialogue was awkward at times (though Ava's journey's back into her past were well done) and the pacing clunky. I think those who enjoy mob inspired melodramas with lots of sex scenes will enjoy but this one wasn't for me. ...more
Drive Me Wild is part 3 of a 5 part serial by Shari Slade. These edgy, suspenseful, erotic little niblets are an action packed surprise that gives readers a decadent taste of the dark side of Motorcycle Clubs and the bikers who give their undying loyalty to this brotherhood. The serial focuses on Noah, an enforcer with the Devil’s Host MC, and Star, a waitress whose cousin is in deep debt with the MC. In Ride Me Hard (part 1-review here) Noah is sent to collect payment for the debt Star’s cousin owes the club. Unable to locate Harry, Noah takes Star instead. A connection forms between Noah and Star though the connection is littered with lust and fear as Star is unsure in what manner Noah and the club will be extracting her cousin’s debt.
In Break Me In (Part 2-review here) Noah arrives back to the clubhouse with Star for protection only to put her straight into the line of fire as the Devil’s Host president wants his money and Star’s cousin is refusing to tell him where it is. Star learned along time ago that pain is just an emotion. An emotion that can be twisted for pleasure if you can find right person to share it with. When Noah is forced to get the answers his president wants, the results are catastrophic.
Drive Me Wild is the aftermath of Noah’s rebellion. The MC holds their lives in their hands while also deciding if and who they will send to rescue Noah’s sister who has been kidnapped by a rival MC. Star has begun to believe that Noah may actually care for her and while it relieves some of her anxiety…it also relieves the control she has had over her mouth. *wink*
As everyone knows, in an MC you can bad mouth your old man all you want but it had better be in private behind closed doors. Only a united front is shown in front of the MC. Star strikes out verbally to punish Noah for brushing her off and not allowing her to have her say but that’s okay because Noah knows exactly what Star needs.
“We’re alone now, Star. Do you need to cry?”
“Do we have time?”
“For me to give you something to cry about? I think so.”
He bends me over and pushes my face into the bedspread. The thermal weave I’d studied so closely is rough against my cheek. He holds me there with just the weight of his hand fisted in my hair.
“I’m going to spank your ass until it’s all pink and perfect. Until your pussy is soaking wet and you’re sobbing from it. Until you’re wild and raw.” He yanks my skirt up and my panties down in two brisk tugs. “And you’re going to tell me when you’ve had enough crying, understand?”
I nod, the slight movement jerking at my scalp, sending a fresh wash of pleasure down my spine.
“And if you’re really ruined—if your eyes are puffy and your face is swollen, if you’re fucking wrecked, just the way I like—I’ll lick your pussy until you come so hard on my tongue we both see stars. You can do that for me, baby. Can’t you? Let yourself go like that?”
Tears are already leaking from the corners of my eyes. Relief. I shudder with it. “Yes.”
The bed creaks as he settles beside me and then the first crack of palm to ass vibrates through my body. It’s a sharp heat and then it fades. A second crack, lower this time. A third, to the left. They layer together until my ass is all stinging heat and throbbing. I’m crying in earnest now. From the sharpness of the pain, the sweetness of the ache.
He spanks me again and again. On the end of every blow is a reverb that shoots straight to my clit, the pleasure on the other side of torment. I can feel moisture gathering between my lips every time I squirm and sob into the bedspread.
Everything feels swollen and ready. My pussy, my ass, my clit. God, my clit feels so hard I might come just from this. And I cry some more at the thought of not having Noah’s tongue. I’m crying for orgasms I’ll have and orgasms I won’t. I’m crying just for the sake of crying and it feels amazing. I’m nothing but feelings, dancing on the edge of Noah’s touch. Tender and brutal.
“I’m ruined.” I cry out.
But I’m not. Not nearly. I’ve got miles to go before Noah ruins me fully, drives me completely wild, wrecks me. I don’t know if we’ll have enough time together to get that far, but I’m ruined enough to make him happy in this moment.
Slade opens up further about Noah and Star’s childhoods; especially Noah’s. His blue collar upbringing is at odds with his tough exterior only further proving that all walks of life can be seen in an MC. A huge cliffhanger leaves readers rocking back in shock as we learn that not everyone is committed to the cause and sometimes what you see is definitely not what you get.
Moonlight on Nightingale Way is listed as the final book in Young’s adult romance contemporary series, On Dublin Street. Based on a group of friends and family, we have watched this group grow and expand beyond what was first introduced in book one-On Dublin Street. Brimming with sexy men and women, humor, angst, real world issues, and much growth in the world, characterization, and from the author herself, I have enjoyed, for the most part, my journey through this series.
Opposites attract and enemies to lovers are always fun tropes to read in romance. Often starting from an antagonistic base, readers laugh and rejoice as the protagonists learn more about one another and find that spark we saw from the beginning. I admit I was uneasy when I read the excerpt to this book at the end of book five. I really didn’t want another story about woman or man whose baggage is so great they are unable to emotionally or mentally move on with their lives; choosing instead to place all their anger on the shoulders on the one person who truly sees them. Luckily for us, this is not one of those stories.
Grace Farquhar is a quiet, intelligent, studious woman who works from home as a freelance book editor. When she finds a pair of thong underwear drying on the landing between her apartment and her neighbor’s, she expects to make her issues known and leave…in a quiet, considerate manner. Unfortunately, her neighbor doesn’t seem like a quiet considerate man. He’s gregarious, big, gorgeous, obnoxious and immediately takes offense at what he deems Grace’s prude-like stance. From there starts a battle of the wills that left me giggling and smiling non stop.
“For the last three nights I’ve had to put up with the constant loud sex from you and your bloody American. I just want peace and quiet. I want some bloody goddamn sleep!”
“Have you got a glass up against the wall?”
“How did you know I’ve been fucking an American?”
“Because. I. Can. Hear. Every. Word. She. Says.”
Logan McLeod was just released from a two year stint in prison for assaulting the man who beat and almost raped his sister. Working as a nightclub manager; all he wants is to catch up on everything he missed during his incarceration. Namely sex. He uses one night stands to avoid commitment and dealing with his issues. When Grace makes her feelings known over the underwear, the loud sex noises, the constant parade of woman, he feels judged and strikes back.
“You don’t have to be so antagonistic, you know. You should consider removing that stick from your tiny arse.”
“You talk down to me. And there’s that pinchy-mouthed look you give me instead of a smile every time you pass me in the hall.”
Pinchy-mouthed? I sniffed at the insult and turned to leave again, not deigning to give him a response.
“And that. That haughty little sniff is extremely fucking annoying…”
I really liked Grace and Logan. Grace with her soft snarky wit and strong sense of self. She escaped her abusive family years ago and has made a life for herself with the help of some close friends. Watching her learn to trust Logan intimately was delightful, especially after he put a roadblock in their way only to discover he screwed up. MEN! Luckily for him he has an ace in the hole-namely his sister and her friends. Logan delights and confounds with his blatant sexuality and obnoxious charm, making the chemistry between them burn throughout the story. Young does a great job of facilitating the romance amongst the backdrop of their personal issues.
“I know good and bad, Logan, trust me. And deep down you do too. And you know you’re a good man. You know it. And I’m not going to tell you any different.”
Emotionally the overall tone is rather lightweight. A bit more formulaic than usual for Young, this engaging romance contemporary can be read alone though it is part of a series. A delightful journey of love and second chances. The fast steady pacing coupled with the slow burning romance is perfect for the overall tone of the story and subject matters at hand. Young’s witty dialogue and dynamic characterization only adds to the over all appeal.
“The horror. How will you ever get your next booty call?”
The main conflict blends well with the subplots. Young injects tongue in cheek humor to help offset the seriousness of the subject matter. Young slowly peels the lid back on Grace and Logan’s problems and begins to systematically and realistically address them using some well placed secondary characters. Logan learns to let go of his fear and guilt over what happened in the past, accepting he paid the price and can move on. Grace learns that she is worthy in all aspects of her life and that sometimes letting go completely is the best way to move forward.
The ending is a bit serendipity in that Logan and Grace both receive the ‘out’ they need to close the book on their respective pasts. It ends rather abruptly; shifting straight into a brief epilogue that gives us small peeks into the lives all the past couples; gifting us with a fond farewell. While I’m sad to see this series end, I’m sure this will not be the last we see of Samantha Young and her wonderful imagination.
Favorite Quote: “I could stay like this all night. Breathing in your scent, never leaving your body.”
Addison Peacock has carried a torch for her college fiance for five years. When he leaves after graduation, promising to return, she is forced to stay due to her father’s illness. Now he’s back-only he’s married and she doesn’t find out till after they slept together. Shattered by his deceit and duplicity, Addison sees hope on the horizon in the fine, fine form of her new next door neighbor.
Damian Walker has his own problems. A car accident destroyed his sports career and took something very precious from him. Damian knows what it takes to get your life back on track and while he’d love to help Addison, he doesn’t have the inclination to be anyone’s rebound. If Addison wants a one night stand, she’s looking at the wrong man.
As Addison and Damian get to know one another better, the future starts to look brighter, but until Addison can let go of her past, all these two can ever be in next door neighbors.
Right Next Door looked in the beginning to be a lighthearted friends to lovers romance about a young woman who discovers the prince charming she waited years for is really a toad and looks to her neighbor for some sexual healing. Only it develops into being far more as we get to know the protagonists at the heart of it-Addison Peacock and Damian Walker. Love, loss, hope, and redemption all swirl together as our protagonists meet and begin their journey. The past plays heavily on the present; foreshadowing their actions and the emotional base on which they react. Both are damaged but Damian has already had ample time to move forward from his tragedy while Addison is just starting the recovery process.
“From here forward I’m going to be like the contestants from American Ninja Warrior-badass, unstoppable, and you better not mess with me because I’m not taking anyone’s shite.”
Their first meeting is like a nuclear explosion going off. Heavy flirting and instant white-hot attraction leaves them both a little stunned. Their chemistry is perfect…only they are not at the right stages on their lives to be together. Damian is looking for forever and Addison is looking for right now. Additional issues in their lives leaves them both weary of emotional intimacy and watching them get from point A to point B is a bittersweet mixture of lust, humor, misunderstandings, and some hot sticky dirty talk.
“I can’t believe you did that behind me.” “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to shoot my shite all over you like that. It was a lackluster attempt at birth control.” “What’s so funny?” “I was only upset I didn’t get to watch you touch yourself. Next time, do that when I’m looking.”
Humor and sorrow fill the pages as Damian and Addison slowly, almost reluctantly, build a relationship from friends to lovers. I wasn’t sure I would like Addison at first. She was pretty passive aggressive concerning her ex boyfriend and tended to demand a lot from Damian without giving as much in return. She also pulls a stunt towards the end that left me questioning her rationale. Despite this, it’s very easy to see why Addison is the way she is. She is caught in a whirlwind as she struggles to define who she is and where she is going after she put her heart and life on hold waiting for the man she loved to return. She never really moved on from that point in her life and deep inside she knew she has to. Addison grows monumentally throughout the story; learns to understand that love is a gift that can bring you pain and joy without destroying you in the process. She also learns to love herself.
“I need to focus on me, as selfish as that is.”
Damian I loved. While he too has some secrets and heavy personal issues he was dealing with, he had no problems being honest with himself and with Addison. He saw her and KNEW she was the one for him and is willing to wait until she realises it too. He had already been down that road of one night stands and meaningless relationships. He wants marriage, the white picketed fence, and 2.5 kids.
“My life is complicated, I don’t do casual, and I don’t play games. I won’t be giving myself away piece by piece. When I find the right woman, it’s going to be all or nothing.”
This is not to say he’s a saint because he’s not. He has his guy “moments” that only serves to push Addison away more than draw her close. Luckily for her and us, Damian is a fast learner and both are equally adept at saying they are sorry.
Pryor does an impressive job of wrangling the main conflict while pushing additional subplots into the storyline. A complex array building that tugs at your heartstrings as readers follow the path set out for them. A well-developed cast of secondary characters further the agendas set out, giving us the information our protagonist can’t or won’t give. Pryor doesn’t pull any punches and makes both Addison and Damian work towards their individual goals. The pivotal moment hurts, I won’t lie, but we are gifted with an ending that more than left this reader happy and comfortable with Addison’s and Damian’s future.
The first in a spin off of Vale’s The Heroes of the Dixie Wardens MC series bring us the boys of the Kilgore Swat Team and tRomance Suspense RATING: C+
The first in a spin off of Vale’s The Heroes of the Dixie Wardens MC series bring us the boys of the Kilgore Swat Team and the women who bring them to their knees. Fans will enjoy seeing Tru’s sister, Reese, and Bailey’s brother, Luke, front and center in a romance suspense that pushes some boundaries reality wise but brings it home with the humor, dominant alpha men, and sensuality that Vale is known for. Reese and Luke are both in Kilgore healing from broken hearts. A chance meeting opens the door to a new life for the both of them if only their respective exes would move on already. Erotic sexual scenes blends well with the storyline as Vale builds the romance. Plenty of action and suspense round out the extremely convoluted conflict which I admit confused me. There was too many plot twists to keep up and by the end I was a little shell shocked. Regardless, Vale continues to entertain me with her strong heroines and heroes who above and beyond for the people they love. ...more
Allen’s debut teen contemporary addresses the hero like worship that is gifted to high school football players and the socialContemporary/YA RATING: C
Allen’s debut teen contemporary addresses the hero like worship that is gifted to high school football players and the social and emotional ramifications of that worshiping attitude. The yearly scavenger hunt is held at this small high school to usher out the senior players and haze the incoming ones has four new players who have decided to teach these players, the school, and the town itself a lesson they will never forget. Told in the first person, each girl’s POV is told in alternating chapters, explaining what happened to lead to this moment and how they each chose to deal with what happened to them. Emotionally light with bits of humor and romance to offset the underlying seriousness of the storyline; the voice in here is decidedly young and it shows through the girls dialogue and actions. I did find some aspects unbelievable. For example, some of Peyton’s school work is more appropriate for middle school then high school. Overall it was good though the scattered layout and overall youthful tone took a toll on this reader and made it hard to stay engaged....more
Favorite Quote: “If I wanted to be sexually assaulted by a bottle of awful body spray, Simon, I’d go hump a cologne display in a drugstore.”
Devon Jenkins, sister to famous rock star, Trevor “Trax” Jenkins, has been playing a game with her brother’s sexy infuriating band mate for two years. Every since they met and he tried to lay some cheesy lines on her, it has been an antagonistic relationship in which Devon and Simon bicker, snark, and try to to avoid taking that final step into the unknown. When Devon is hurt in an accident and Simon is the one to care for her, Devon sees the complicated layers that belay his goofy playa’ personae and her resolutions towards him weaken considerably.
Simon Cole is a fun loving, sexy, intelligent, wealthy rockstar whose reputation paints a far different picture than the man we get to know. He has wanted Devon for a long time but her pricky nature and the fact her brother is his best friend has him keeping his distance. When Simon decides to let Devon know his intentions towards her are serious, he finds himself having to not only prove he’s worthy of her love…but that she’s worthy of his.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series-True North. A humorous, sexy, swoony romance that erupts between a rockstar and a widow. I was happy to see Simon and Devon were the next couple to be featured as the antagonistic chemistry between them was intense and begged to be explored. I will be honest and let readers know up front I was not as taken with this book as much as the first one, but I still enjoyed watching the fireworks explode as these two seemingly opposites’ attract each other like moths to a flame.
A groan tumbles out before I can stop it. I just let some poetry reading rich kid eat me out, and I loved it.
Heavily character driven, it’s the vibrant characters and realistic emotions and situations they face that makes the story come to life. Witty banter, steamy sex scenes, and the quiet introspective moments create a romance that perfectly showcases Liora Blake’s appealing voice and talented writing. I enjoy that Blake chooses to explore what is behind the mask of her characters, choosing not to give in to tired tropes and easy predictable behavior. She, like her characters, work hard at showing us the little nuances and quirky behavior that we all experience when striving to find and be in a relationship.
I’m scared to death I might want this. For real. Until it makes us whole again.
Our heroine Devon Jenkins has issues. Serious issues. Stubborn, passionate, snarky, and troubled, Devon hits first, then runs. Raised in a trailer park and referred to a ‘white trash’ growing up, she has self-esteem issues that eat at her day in and day out. Though she, like her brother, managed to claw her way out and make something of herself, she forever sees herself as undeserving, flawed, and unworthy. Able to maintain professional relationships with no problem, it’s the personal ones that give her the hives. Factor in she was in an abusive relationship for three years and her walls are thick, high, and covered in thorns.
Simon Cole was a joy to meet. Though he puts on a good show as the typical womanizing, opportunist, rock star; in reality he is smart, geeky, romantic, very talented, and comes from an upper crust background. He’s a multitude of contradictions. One minute he’s whispering erotic nothings in her ear and the next he’s reading her obscure poetry. He plays hardcore guitar and classical piano. He’s worth millions but sleeps on pink cotton unicorn sheets. He is honest to a fault and gives with his whole heart.
Watching these two fall in love is both funny and sad. Sexually they are in their element. Explosive chemistry leads to some pretty incredible mattress dancing and lots of laughs.
Dear Fellow Board Members:
I take full responsibility for making Simon late for your fancy meeting. The problem is he’s a sex goddess. Yes, goddess. Sometimes he giggles like a schoolgirl when we’re through. He tried to leave this morning, at a very responsible early hour, but I had to have him again. The man can fuck like nobody’s business. Please send him back as soon as possible.
Ms. Devon Jenkins
Their journey to their happily ever after is littered with man-made pitfalls-aka-Devon. Her multi layered self-esteem issues play a recurring role in her attempts to self sabotage her and Simon’s relationship. No matter what he does, she always waits for the other shoe to drop. For him to realise she is not worth his time. Heartbreaking and frustrating, you can’t help but want to shake her, hug her, and make her understand that she is worthy of Simon’s time. Worthy of his love. Worthy of happiness.
“I’ve been trying to be patient with you, not push, but we can’t grow this thing if you won’t let me in. I just want you to give me something-”
We see old and new friends aplenty though I did feel this one focused more on the couple then book one did. Kate and Trevor are a strong supporting cast along with Miss McKenna who is firmly Team Simon. I loved the introduction of Stacia and Preston and I hope we see more of them in the future. Their love of freshly made bread is quite amusing. Family continues to play a strong role in the series which I love. Too often, especially in rockstar romances, family members are often portrayed as leeches or screw ups who bring down rather than lift up their famous relative. I like that Blake shows family can be supportive and relatively normal.
The book does slow down considerably due to Devon’s issues. Devon’s internal monologue about her insecurities and jealousy does get a bit irritating because she rehashes the same issues over and over with no real steps of moving forward. I felt at times her issues overshadowed the storyline and Simon. I was disappointed with both the plot devices introduced towards the end to push Devon into making a decision about her and Simon. One didn’t make any sense and the other was nothing more than a manipulation that felt a little wrong considering what we knew of them. I would have understood more if there was a real defining moment or epiphany gleaned from the ordeal.
Regardless, True Devotion is an entertaining follow-up to True North; proving Liora Blake didn’t fall victim to the sophomoric slump. Fans of troubled heroines and adorable heroes will enjoy this snarky, humorous, antagonistic, and sweetly dirty romantic story. I look forward to the final book in this series-True Divide- is Kate’s sister Lucy’s story. YAY!! True Divide releases October 15, 2015.
Favorite Quote: “Let’s not argue in front of the children, dear.”
Set in 19th century Victorian England, we are introduced to Simon Archer, a powerful scribe who uses carvings and his skin as a conduit for his magic, who has seemingly wasted his talent. A handsome tattooed playboy with a chip on his shoulder over his parentage and the murder of his father; Simon has a strong white knight complex that is buried beneath his rakish exterior. When he sees a former lover ravaged by a monster, Simon is forced to reexamine his lifestyle choices and finds himself compelled to make a drastic change.
With his mentor and best friend, Nick Barker, in tow, Simon begins his search for the lycanthrope that killed his lover; which in turn leads him to the brilliant albeit odd alchemist, Kate Anstruther- whose younger sister has been taken by a lycanthrope. Add in a grumpy monster hunter, a fearless weapons maker, and an unlikely ally and Simon soon finds himself engaged in a battle to find and destroy all the lycanthropes who have converged in the city.
I have been a fan of the Griffith’s since the publishing of their Vampire Empire series. In this newest venture, the Crown & Key Trilogy, we are once again taken back into the darkest parts of London where monsters lurk in the shadows and the world is awash in magic. The Shadow Revolution is a dark and adventurous steampunk filled with riveting action, edgy suspense, formattable magic and alchemy, impromptu humor, and an all-star cast. Intriguing world building and characterization slowly begins to lay the foundation for a war that is slowly building steam between the humans and supernatural community.
Though seemingly heavily character driven, the first half of the book takes great pains to set up the world and players; giving readers background information on everyone involved. A bit ham fisted in the beginning, it reads almost like a bibliography, it’s not until the second half that the action and suspense picks up considerably and we begin to see the patterns being formed. Two separate storylines intertwine-the supernatural threat to the city and the mystery behind the murder of Simon’s father. The Griffith’s use some of their own sleight of hand to link Simon to his co-patriots using these seemingly separate plot lines as we learn that past actions of all their families may have played a part in what they are dealing with now.
Fantastical magic wields a powerful spell over the reader while engaging dialogue and dry wit humanizes these characters as does their failures in some scenes. Having magical ability doesn’t always guarantee instant success and this story is sure to hammer that point in. One aspect of the Griffith’s writing that is alluring to me is the strength they give to their heroines. Often considered the odd men out in an era that is decidedly paternalistic, these heroines march to a beat of a different drum and aren’t patronised for their seemingly unnatural interests or talents by the men who they align themselves with.
Those looking for a well-balanced conflict and romance are sure to experience some dismay as the romance is nothing more than a faint idea in this installment. There are some light flirting and unspoken clues that give readers the idea that some of the characters may pair up in the future but for now the theme most decidedly does not run in that direction.
A strong secondary character base adds anticipation and excitement as we see each one develop over the course of the story. Simon and Kate are the strongholds of this installment with promises of additional characters and intriguing conflicts to come. I do wish the characterization of those involved had been sussed out a little more in-depth. I found the emotional aspects lacking as we are told more than we are shown. The villains are decidedly vicious and in some cases insane. I do wish we would have gotten more into the mind of the leader of the Lycanthropes and the reasons behind their actions. I enjoyed seeing the dissension in the ranks and the humanization that is reluctantly witnessed. These are not mindless killers set on destruction and mayhem simply for the sake of doing so. There is a higher objective being set in motion which I for one can’t wait to reveal.
Once again the Griffith’s have created a primer for what looks to be an exciting and magically enhanced steampunk adventure that shows great potential. A fun and fast read that has me looking forward to reading the next two installments, The Undying Legion, which releases June 30th and The Conquering Dark which releases July 28th.
Favorite Quote: “I’m just getting a dose of the Christian charity the town of Blessings is so good at handing out. If you belong to the right social circles, they can’t do enough. But if you’re unfortunate enough to have committed a sin in their good Christian eyes, they conveniently forget God didn’t set them up as judge and jury.”
No one is alone
Dori Grant is no stranger to hardship. As a young single mother in the gossip-fueled town of Blessings, Georgia, she’s weathered the storm of small-town disapproval most of her life. But when Dori loses everything within the span of an evening, she realizes she has no choice but to turn to her neighbors.
As long as there is love to give
Everyone says the Pine boys are no good, but Johnny Pine has been proving the gossips wrong ever since his mother died and he took over raising his brothers. His heart goes out to the young mother and child abandoned by the good people of Blessings. Maybe he can be the one to change all that. (Goodreads)
Adorable-no, I’m not kidding- Grant (Dori) is a seventeen year old mother who lives with her grandfather and works to support her 7 month old baby boy, Luther Joe. Her parents passed when she was nine and all Dori has known was the love and care of her grandparents. She has always refused to name the father for fear her that grandfather would go after him and she would lose him too. When a fire takes everything from Dori, she learns quickly who her friends are in Blessings and find a good one in Johnny Pine.
Johnny Pine has been raising his younger brothers since their mother passed away and their father was sentenced to life in prison. He fought social services to keep them and now does everything he can to keep them happy and healthy. Like Dori, he feels the town’s disapproval over his circumstances but chooses to look the other way and live his life to the best of his ability. When he sees Dori’s so called “Christian” neighbors all turn their back on her when she and Luther have no place to stay…he opens up his home and heart to her little family.
I’ll Stand By You is the second book set in Sharon Sala’s fictional town of Blessings, Georgia. This small town contemporary is light on the romance and uses the misfortune of two residents to examine the town’s values; looking beneath its pious nature to show the judgemental attitudes that exists within it. An engaging story that flows smoothly and evenly; addressing the expected and unexpected. The emotionally based characterization is deeply rooted in humor and sorrow. There is a strong inspirational tone to it with Sala gently poking at the morality of religion and the easy way people are able to justify their bigotry towards those less fortunate or considered different.
At times I wasn’t sure exactly what theme this book as striving for. Some scenes were melodramatic, serious, and long-winded while others were short, snarky, and dipped in sarcasm. There is an overblown sense of outrageousness and exaggeration that further hints to Sala’s enjoyment of poking at this town and its residents. I also had some issues with the abrupt POV changes. There are multiple characters and Sala seems to get in all their heads at least once or twice. The age of the protagonists gives the story a new adult feeling though that is not a detriment.
I absolutely adored Johnny, Dori, and the boys. All of them are sweet, sensitive, and genuinely nice people who despite their shaky circumstances in life, remain strong and relatively cheerful. That’s not to say they are doormats because all of them are more than able to stand their own and vocalize their displeasure in the face of injustice. They are the traditional underdogs we all love to cheer and there is plenty to sympathize and cheer for in here.
Watching this little group grow into a family will totally give you all the feels as you get to know them. Sala does a fabulous job with the developing characterizations and allowing them to progress into their designated relationships at their own pace. Nothing feels manipulated or forced. I found the boys actions and thoughts completely realistic for small children and the baby was hilarious.
An eccentric and gregarious group of secondary characters adds depth and realism to this small gossipy town. I loved that no one was able to hold their tongues and that Dori and Johnny did have those who wished them well in their corners. Dori’s “windfall” was an eye roller and seemed opportunistic but as I stated earlier, the story is built upon outrageousness.
Fans of Sharon Sala and the town of Blessings, GA is sure to enjoy their visit back. Plenty of laughs, tears, head shakings, and a few ‘bless your hearts’ are guaranteed as this ready made family learns that the town that seemed to shun them is more than willing to support them when times call for it.
This is why I continue to enjoy Lauren Dane’s erotic romances. The first in her newest series—Ink & Chrome—introduces us to two well developed proThis is why I continue to enjoy Lauren Dane’s erotic romances. The first in her newest series—Ink & Chrome—introduces us to two well developed protagonists whose strong personalities and blazing hot chemistry threaten to set the world ablaze. Add in an engaging storyline, humorous sexy banter, and some smoking erotic love scenes and you have a romance that will hold you hostage to the very last page....more
Favorite Quote: “The sum of my existence equals you.”
Gray Grayson has it all. A top NFL draft pick; he has the looks, the moves, and the reputation of being a playa but when he is forced to borrow his soon to be agent’s daughter’s pink Fiat for the summer, he discovers the one thing he has been missing.
Ivy Mackenzie is spending a year abroad with her mother. When she finds out her father has loaned out her car to one of his clients, a ranty text turns into something more as a strong friendship develops between them.
Everything is going great until Ivy comes home. Gray doesn’t do relationships and Ivy doesn’t do her father’s clients but the attraction between them can not be denied. Now Gray is going to do everything possible to prove to Ivy that the only zone he wants to be in is the end zone…with her by his side.
The Friend Zone, book two in Callahan’s Game On new adult series, is a sweet, sexy, funny, and emotionally refreshing friends to lovers contemporary that highlights a couple whose journey from friendship to love is facilitated by witty banter, adept communication, and delicious sexual tension. Though not as angst driven as book one, Callihan produces another winning romance with Gray and Ivy.
I adore Kristen Callihan. I’ve been a long time fan of her paranormal Darkest London series and am pleased to see that crossing genre lines and age groups hasn’t lessened her voice or appeal. Callihan is a prolific writer whose true gift is her ability to make her characters realistic and relatable. Her characters aren’t perfect and while we do see some emotional turmoil it’s not eye rolling melodrama used to create unnecessary angst within conflict. She chooses to avoid the stereotypical over the top NA behavior usually presented in this genre and instead gives us smart characters whose actions are genuine in reaction to the circumstances. The essential meet cute through texting is a unique introduction and setup for the romance and I found it really gives readers an intimate and hilarious view into the personalities of Ivy and Gray.
GrayG: So as friends, can I still say inappropriate, sex-related things?
IvyMac: Sure. Think of me as just another guy. With a vagina.
GrayG: A. Shudder. B. Yeah, no. C. I had this dream that you were sucking my 8==> But when I looked down, I discovered it was actually a goat…you know. Then I really woke up because I yelled so hard, I fell out of bed. And now I live in mortal terror of goats.
Gray is a delight with his outward sunny personality and buried complex nature. Having met him in book one-The Hook Up- you can’t help but grow to love him the more you get to know him. Gorgeous, highly intelligent, popular, and very talented on the field, his fear of commitment and loss casts a long shadow. He’s issues stem from his childhood. The youngest son of a famous football coach and three older brothers who play, Gray was forced to grow up early due to his severely dysfunctional family. Befriending Ivy is a revelation for him and it both exhilarates and confuses him. Their texting is the highlight of his year and he is stymied how this one person managed to get under his skin so deep. Something very few have ever managed to accomplish.
I’m about to meet her, and I’m totally unprepared. My heart is racing like it does before a game, that same adrenaline rushing through my veins. I’m no longer thinking about the future, but of Ivy.
Ivy was a breath of fresh air. Smart, pretty, funny, intelligent, and snarky, Ivy isn’t in need of saving from anything. She isn’t mired in a dark abyss waiting for her prince charming. She has a pretty good life with a loving family. Like Gray though, she has commitment issues stemming from her childhood. Her father, a former football star turned sports agent, was a walking cliché and his antics off the field soured her on relationships. Having already graduated, she has spent a year in London in preparation to take over her mother’s baking business. Now home for a three month visit, she is unprepared for the feelings invoked by Gray upon meeting him. He became her best friend through those texts and the fear of losing that connection is a conundrum she really doesn’t want to face.
From early on, I’d put him firmly in the friend zone, not wanting to develop deeper feelings for a guy I know is a player and treats me like his best pal. And that was okay, because I want Gray’s friendship. I cherish it.
Callihan does a wonderful job of slowly but steadily taking Ivy and Gray’s relationship from friends to lovers. Gray and Ivy have some pretty intense chemistry that explodes between them from the first time they meet. The sexual tension is at defcon twelve as they feint and parry, not wanting to destroy the platonic relationship they have already built. I appreciated the time and effort Callihan gives their journey she expertly fleshes out their fears along with their desires. Sexually, Callihan puts a nice bite in the romance, giving the story some faint erotic overtones.
I don’t know what to do with this feeling. It’s equal parts longing—yes, fucking longing—and rage. I want to hear those words again. It’s a kick in the pants to realize that I want to be loved, like I’m worth something to someone. Not for what I can do for them, but just for me. […] My anger is plain ridiculous and irrational. But there you go. I’m now Irrational Gray. Confused and Grumpy Gray. Horny as All Fuck Gray. Nice to meet you.
Through trial and error she shows them and us that they are the perfect couple and should they choose to drop their shields, they have a phenomenal chance at happiness together. Gray’s inherent protective nature and Ivy’s ability to see beyond what Gray chooses to show the world only further proves they are meant for one another.
What I feel? It isn’t comfortable. It’s so intense and so enormous, sometimes I fear my soul can’t contain it.
We see old and new faces; each one an important part of the storyline. Drew and Anna are recurring characters in the book as is the rest of the offensive team. We see exciting possible set ups for future storylines and are given a plausible epilogue for Gray and Ivy. A small plot device pops up towards the end that is used to push Ivy and Gray into making the decision they have been avoiding. While it’s not a favorite author twist of mine, Callihan presents it with compassion and didn’t leave this reader feeling manipulated.
Callihan’s writing continues to entertain and delight me with each new endeavor. I recommend this series to everyone who enjoys a contemporary new adult series with fun, realistic characters, witty banter, smexy romances, and strong friendships that will keep you waiting for each installment. Even though this is part of a series, it can be easily read as a stand alone.
**On a cute note, both Callihan and Elle Kennedy (The Mistake) have added a little easter egg to their respective books alluding to each other’s books so keep your eyes peeled.**
Favorite Quote: “It adds a certain je-ne-say-whatsit to the vessel.”
Sean Mackey just wants his life back. A former guard (policeman) in Dublin, a series of unfortunate circumstances has him cooling his heels back in his hometown of Ballybeg. While on a holiday weekend, he meets a gorgeous young woman and indulges in an incredible one night stand only to discover that she is the daughter of his nemesis, Helen Havelin.
Clio Havelin hasn’t had an easy life. Pregnant at seventeen, she was tossed out by her family and ended up falling into a life of drugs and crime. Clean now, she grabs onto the lifeline her mother offers her, desperate to give her daughter a better life. When her past comes back to haunt her, Clio finds herself the unwilling participant in the heist of a decade. And the last thing she needs is her sexy one night stand watching her every move.
Zara Keane’s Ballybeg series is a humorous romance contemporary series that revolves around a small Irish town and its gregarious and very nosy inhabitants. Love, laughter, and mystery makes this series a fast engaging read. Heavily character driven, the story is firmly set around our protagonists Sean MacKey and Clio Havlin – though fans will be pleased to see updates on the lives of previous characters. The romance and a series of small multiple subplots intertwine and feed off each other as our hero and heroine try to figure out their lives and hearts. The true appeal of this series is the hint of seriousness Keane imparts to the various character situations; showing us the foibles we all possess without offering a quick fix to their problems in order to make the story more ‘happy’.
Sean has been a casual player in this series up until now; popping up here and there with hints towards a mysterious past. Keane addresses that mystery, giving us Sean’s full background story which goes far in explaining his reasons for being in Ballybeg and the demons that he carries on his back. A hard working man committed to his job, his childhood was steeped in tragedy. Ballybeg brings back memories he’d rather keep buried but it also rips off the makeshift bandage he slapped on his pain, finally allowing him closure.
Clio is a heroine most will identify with. A fighter who made some seriously bad choices early on in life but chose to pull herself out of the muck instead of using her past to justify her mistakes. She loves her daughter and wants a better life for her; even if it means making up with her mother who abandoned her when she needed her most. Meeting Sean and sleeping with him was an anomaly for her but it was a physical connection she and him both sorely needed.
The slow burning romance flows well with the suspenseful storyline; backdropped by various subplots that play out to try to solve Sean and Clio’s separate issues. There are certain events that weren’t solved but Keane does her best to at least give some peace. Clio and Sean’s attraction to one another is plausible with some nice smouldering looks and weighted glancing touches. I liked that while Sean got upset over Clio’s lies, he didn’t use it as a way to punish Clio. He gets over it fairly easy once he gets the full story. An ongoing mystery revolving around the Travelers gets some air time though no resolution which clues us into the subject being revisited in coming books.
Keane’s stories wouldn’t be complete without the various town folks whose eccentricities will leave you giggling-Sean’s always drunk swimming Elvis impersonating uncle or swooning over Clio’s super sexy, bad boy, baby daddy-Lars Delaney. I certainly hope he gets his own story. *waggles eyebrows* Clio’s daughter hold a viable place in the story without coming off as a plot device. As always, the town knows everything and gossips like mad. Familiar faces pop in to add to the overall small town appeal and update us on where their lives.
A quick realistic ending wraps up mostly everything and leaves us with a sweet happily ever after for our protagonists. Fans of international small town romance contemporaries with bits of romance, mystery, and comedic drama are sure to enjoy Zara Keane’s Ballybeg series.
Favorite Quote: “I love it when you talk homonyms to me.”
John Logan, a star hockey player and junior at Briar University, has no problems getting girls…except the one he wants. She happens to be dating his best friend, Garrett Graham. With his family issues bearing down upon him the closer he gets to graduation and his seemingly unrelenting crush on Hannah, he is surprised by a sexy chance encounter with freshman, Grace Ivers. The more time he spends with her, the more confused he becomes over his feelings for her and Hannah until a thoughtless remark pushes her away. After a summer of calling, texting, and begging for another chance, Logan plans to spend his senior year winning Grace back and proving to her she is the only one for him.
Grace’s freshman year was not so stellar and she is determined to not repeat the mistakes she made last year…especially her mistake with John Logan. Now a sophomore, she is putting herself out there making new friends and breaking out of her shell while trying to ignore the gorgeous hockey player she almost gave her virginity to. She refuses to be another one of his conquests and demands he prove to her he is worthy of another chance. Because this time Grace is calling the shots and she is looking to win.
His Mistake is a sexy, humorous, and moderately emotional new adult (NA) romance that takes us back to Briar University and the four gorgeous and talented hockey players whose ability to score on and off the ice is often complicated by family issues and affairs of the heart. I’ve been a long time fan of Elle Kennedy and her erotic romances. Her voice and obvious talent in creating realistic and personable characters is a breath of fresh in a genre that seems too stagnate at times. While we do see some prerequisite drama and angst, it never tips into melodrama or used as a predictable device to propel the conflict into never never land. She digs beneath stereotypical young adult behavior to give readers an engaging and swoon worthy romance that requires some work and compromise from both parties.
We first met John Logan in book one. Funny, sexy, gorgeous, and far more complex than we first assumed, Logan is a mess of epic proportions. His family situation is extremely sad and he hasn’t much to look forward to after graduation. Similar to the set up to The Deal, Logan maintains a devil may care attitude, sexing his way through the female student population, while silently screaming inside.
I’m totally destined for the NFL. Going pro all the way! I love spending my summers as a grease monkey in my dad’s hop. It’s great pocket money! I’m not lusting over Hannah. She’s dating my best friend!
Lies, lies, and more lies
Best friend to fellow hockey player Garrett Graham, he helped Garrett win the girl but unfortunately developed a crush on her at the same time. This leads to some uncomfortable situations in the first part of the story. Though it directly feeds the conflict that Grace and Logan’s story is based upon, Kennedy resolves it fairly quickly and easily. In fact a little too easy for the depth of emotion Logan seems to have towards Hannah. I can’t believe I’m sitting here saying this, but I wish that plot line had played out a little more.
“I’m comfortable enough in with my hetero status to say if I didn’t play for the other team, I wouldn’t just fuck Garrett Graham, I’d marry him. That’s what makes this a trillion times harder. I can’t even hate the dude who’s tapping the chick I want.”
Meeting Grace Ivers made me feel much, much better. She is the perfect NA heroine. Pretty, sweet, and shy but no pushover. Witty, intuitive and a touch of snark to let us know that she has no problems speaking her mind nor staying true to herself. She is also NOT a hockey fan which just adds to her appeal. She finds it boring, has no issues telling everyone she finds it boring, and that made me love her a little more. While I didn’t feel she fleshed out as well as Hannah as an individual; she doesn’t star in a viable separate storyline that revolves just around her, I do believe personality wise she was more harmonically balanced with Logan.
“It’s funny. Less than a week ago I was bemoaning the lack of excitement in my life and now look at me-sexy hockey players showing up at my door to excite the hell out of me. Fuck it. I’m giving myself an award.”
The romance slowly builds (after the V Day/V Night fiasco) between Logan and Grace, infusing the story with yummy sexual tension and laugh out loud scenes that Kennedy uses to show us and Grace that Logan had indeed changed. I cheered Logan’s grand gestures and attempts at groveling to get back into Grace’s heart. They have such addictive banter and delicious crazy chemistry. In the beginning, it was all about the sex but now, it’s all about getting to know someone you like and propelling the spark between you into a roaring flame. To find out what makes them smile, what makes them happy, what makes them…them. Though the romance is the main theme, Kennedy intertwines it with some mild external plot lines, using them to further elevate Logan and Grace’s romance and guide it along the path to true love.
“We’re same-siding? That’s…” “That’s…?” “Perfectly fine by me.”
A dynamic and rambunctious cast of secondary characters helps keep the story following its predestined path and offer clues to the next possible hero and heroine’s book. We see some new friends made and some old friends left behind as Logan and Grace grow both individually and as a couple. “Lorris” *snort* Laughter is the prime ingredient on which they are developed and they certainly kept me laughing with their advice, observations, attempts to help.
Once again, Kennedy captivated me with her fun, sexy, and playful romance that reminds me why I enjoy her stories so much. While I admit I didn’t get quite the same charge from this installment as I did with The Deal, my love for this one was still quite high. I really, really, REALLY hope Dean’s book is next. He looks to be the dark horse of the group.