Ballybeg Bad Boys is a series of novellas that spin-off Zara Keane’s original and popular Ballybeg series. This installment was originally released as part of the Romancing the Alpha: An Action-Adventure Romance Boxed Set Anthology.
Her Treasure Hunter Ex takes us back to Ballybeg and introduces us to Katy Ryan and Declan Fitzgerald. Fans of Keane’s will notice that Declan (Dex) is the brother of Seán Mackey, the hero in Love and Shamrocks. Katy and Dex suffered a tragedy that was made worse by depression and a lack of communication. Their relationship ultimately failed and they went their separate ways. When they discover they will not only be teammates but also bunk mates, Dex and Katy set aside their animosity and focus on the job, only to discover the past has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it.
This sexy romantic suspense blends a steamy second chance romance with an interesting mystery revolving around a sunken ship, hidden treasure, and the race to find it. A steady pace with personable characters makes this an easy fun read. I have always been interested in the sinking of the Lusitania and the conspiracies that have surrounded it. Keane’s use of fact and fiction in the mystery only serves to heighten your interest as you root for this estranged couple to reconnect. My only qualm is I felt the couple reconnected too easily for the multiple issues that drove them apart. They didn’t really deal with what happened. They just apologized to one another and decided to let go and move forward from there.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. You must suspend a lot of belief for Vale’s books. Insta love prevails amongst over theRating: C+
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. You must suspend a lot of belief for Vale’s books. Insta love prevails amongst over the top antics and melodrama fueled conflicts. Blake and Foster are good together. Hot chemistry and excellent banter. Storyline is well plotted though the suspense concerning Blake was odd and seemed under developed. I wish Vale had divulged a little deeper into her ex husband’s animosity towards her. Vale writes sexy fun and her books that guarantees fun fueled escapism....more
I disliked the first book in this series but decided to give it another shot because the blurb intrigued me. I should have listen**spoiler alert** DNF
I disliked the first book in this series but decided to give it another shot because the blurb intrigued me. I should have listened to my gut. The heroine annoyed me. Seriously annoyed me. Again we have a heroine who is so over the top emo with a strong NA feel. My first hint I may not like is when the heroine admits in the beginning she's playing the hero in order to get him to fall in love with her. From there it's all downhill. She instigates herself into his life, his family's life, ect...doing things she KNOWS he'll hate to prove she is the one for him. The scene that broke me is when it's discovered what she did (lied and manipulated him) and rather then truly apologise, she shifts the blame on the hero. Meh. I'm done.
Hold On is the final story in The ‘Burg series and Ashley closes it with a bang. In classic Ashley style, she combines a sexy hard-fought romance with a multi plotted storyline. Nosy friends, pushy exs, chin dips, alpha heroes, and equally strong heroines all blend together to lead us to a glorious finish line. A strong secondary cast of old friends only serves to further endear you to this couple and their laughter filled, drama laced journey towards their HEA. While I’m sad to see the series end, I enjoyed the time I spent reading and re reading it. If I had one qualm, it is the filler that sometimes finds it way into Ashley’s writing. Little off topic scenes that tend to meander around in circles until they find their way back to the main road....more
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
I have enjoyed the Hitman series since the beginning with its dangerous and charming anti heroes and intelligent lively heroines who always seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The dark action packed suspenseful story lines always blend well with the lush romances, vivid intense descriptions, and engaging dialogue. As with all the Hitman books, the main characters are all connected to one another though a soft arc but all the books can be read as stand alone’s.
Last Hope brings to the forefront a secondary character that has been alluded to throughout the series-Rafe Mendoza. A Colombian native, Rafe grew up in abject poverty to a religiously fanatic mother who abused him. His childhood shaped him into the man he is now a mercenary with a huge heart. It’s this huge heart that helped him to create Tears of God; an island where he provides sanctuary for those in need. He has some issues, one of which is rather LARGE and becomes the focus of this story. And that is where my problems with the story started.
Last Hope was not what I expected. While the story is well written; Clare and Frederick are talented writers and no matter the storyline, their voices and skills are a strong force to be reckoned with, there was a silliness to the story, especially the romance, that seemed to come out of left field. This series is normally dark and gritty. Violence is the norm of the series that up until now revolved around the mysterious Bratva. Going into this installment I expected the same and more. The beginning starts out promising. Mendoza has been conducting surveillance on the woman who holds the key to the release of one of his team members who was kidnapped. He is attracted to her; so much so he has become very protective of her and is hard pressed not to blow the his mission.
Ava is a hand model who has the misfortune of being best friends with a runway model who hooked up with a very bad man. Ava is sent pictures of her best friend that hint at her being tortured. In order to save her friend, she is forced into muling information to various people. Smart and funny, Ava has no second thoughts about jumping into the unknown to do everything she can to get her friend back alive, even at the expense of her own safety.
The beginning drops us down right into the middle of the action, then slowly backtracks, using narrative switches between Mendoza and Ava to show us what got them to this point and to give us insights to their personalities and backgrounds while setting up the basis for the plot.
The excitement of the series is evident with its witty dialogue, fast pacing, and strong character dynamics. The hints of violence and the possibility of the darkness that usually permeate this series looks to be on the horizon but then things change. The pentacle is reached when Ava and Mendoza are stranded together in the Amazon when their plane goes down. Here are two people in the middle of a jungle with barely any food, clothing, water, etc…and the focus zeroes in on Mendoza’s penis.
Yes, you read that right.
Apparently his penis the biggest penis Ava has ever seen. We are talking baseball bat big. Maybe even wiffle bat big. In fact, it’s apparently so huge and imposing, Ava nicknames it Godzilla. She makes it her mission, in between trying not to die, to get intimate with it. Between the dialogue and over the top dramatics, I felt like I was reading the script for an 80’s romance action flick with a healthy dose of soft cheesy porn.
Unfortunately, this particular plot line becomes a major force in the book. More than half of the book focuses on Mendoza’s penis, his issues surrounding it, and Ava trying to help him overcome these issues. It was humorous at first but then the repetitive nature had me wondering when we would get back to the story at hand. For me the book went downhill after that. My enjoyment of Ava and Mendoza (they had such fabulous chemistry and banter) couldn’t overcome my befuddlement over this aspect. Penisgate completely takes over. The original main conflict, the mystery and suspense surrounding the arms deal and it’s players, is downplayed into second place and presented almost as an afterthought with a few action scenes and explanations coming at us hard and fast towards the end. Even Ava’s insulation into Mendoza’s life permanently as a member of his Tears of God group has an air of unbelievability to it in the way she is maneuvered into staying.
While I have enjoyed every previous book in this series and will continue to read whatever else this writing duo produces, this particular installment didn’t do much for me.
Favorite Quote: You’re the only real thing in my life.
Cory Easton is a tattoo artist at Raw Ink and has just gotten out of a relationship that lost him his boyfriend but gained him a dog. Openly gay and still coping with a past tragedy, he finds his eye turned by a gorgeous reclusive tatted skateboarder who haunts the park where he walks his dog, Chopper. When Chopper decides one day to make a break for it, it’s Cory’s crush who comes to the rescue.
Jude York keeps to himself for very good reasons. When he helps Cory catch his dog, a tentative friendship begins to form. But Jude is a complex mystery and the rumors swirling around him has Cory on edge as he notices Jude’s ties to the local motorcycle club. As Cory and Jude spend more time together and their attraction grows by leaps and bounds, Cory begins to wonder if he can handle what Jude’s secrets may reveal. Because Cory has already been devastated once and Jude could very well be the one that finally destroys him.
There You Stand by Christina Lee is #5 in her Between Breaths series but can easily read as a stand alone. A debut M/M romance hits all the right feelz buttons as Lee pens a bittersweet romance between two people who are carrying some serious emotional and physical pain. A slow steady start filled with sexual tension and tentative chemistry allows more than ample time for our boys to meet, grow a viable realistic friendship, and eventually gain the courage to take their relationship to a new level. Intriguing subplots and interesting secondary characters takes the story beyond a simple romance; adding some delicious drama and suspense.
Lee does a fabulous job of balancing the romance with the mystery surrounding Jude. Strong writing and a steady pace allows us to follow along with no confusion. She doesn’t rush the protagonist’s relationship, allowing it to grow in a realistic manner as she slowly reveals the background information needed to understand where both men are at in their lives and the reasons they are hesitant to completely open up.
”We were both hiding…”
A lush and steamy sexual relationship gives us open scenes with a firm emotional base. I enjoyed that Lee doesn’t rush this aspect and use the bed as an instant solvent for Cory and Jude’s issues. There are strong external factors that complicate this relationship that demand resolution before anyone can move forward. Lee draws this particular storyline out thoroughly, giving it the seriousness it demands.
“Goddamn it, why do I have to play guessing games with you?”
“Because I don’t want your life to be in danger…simply from associating with me.”
“It’s too late, I’m already involved.”
A dynamic secondary cast brings in people from previous installments while introducing new faces. I love the camaraderie that Cory enjoys with his fellow employees. Lee gives Cory a full bodied social life that plays out well against the solitary nature of Jude’s. The inclusion of the MC is slightly predictable in the setting they are used but their characterization and actions ring true and gives clues to possible future storylines. Another M/M? We can always hope. :)
The conflict resolves easily and off-screen. I would have enjoyed more interaction with the villain . As it was, all information concerning him is second-hand so the gravity of Jude’s past and current situation didn’t flesh out as dramatically as I think Lee intended. Regardless There You Stand is an engaging story that will appeal to lovers of romance across the board. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.
Vale brings more humor, romance, heartbreak, and sheer craziness in the 6th book in her Dixie Wardens MC series. Fans will remember Grayson ‘Torren’ TVale brings more humor, romance, heartbreak, and sheer craziness in the 6th book in her Dixie Wardens MC series. Fans will remember Grayson ‘Torren’ Trammel from Life to my Flight. A firefighter and member of the Dixie Wardens MC, Torren was badly hurt trying to save friend and brother from a fiery death. Enter Tru Dougherty. A cracktastic physical therapist whose “special” relationship to the fire department is just amps up the fun factor of the story. The explosive romance blends well with a suspenseful mystery; keeping you on your toes. Seeing old friends only adds to the crack level as you race to see who or what wants to make sure Torren and Tru’s HEA never happens....more
Strong heroines, grumpy alpha heroes, and lots of action and sexy romance makes for fun reading. Life To My Flight brings us a friends to lovers st3.5
Strong heroines, grumpy alpha heroes, and lots of action and sexy romance makes for fun reading. Life To My Flight brings us a friends to lovers story. Cleo is a member of the Wardens MC and a para jumper. When a relationship gets too personal for him, he bails and leaves Rue with a Dear Joan letter. One year later, he realizes his stupidity and comes back but Rue isn’t as forgiving as Cleo hoped she would be. As Cleo attempts to reignite the passion that scared him away the first time, Rue has her own issues to deal with when a case she will be testifying in has some people willing to do anything to keep her silent. Though I enjoyed this one I never connected with the hero. I didn’t think his reasons for running were good enough, nor was his groveling. He places himself into Rue’s path at every opportunity, almost forcing her to take him back and I wasn’t impressed overall...more
The first installment in a lush erotic suspense introduces readers to a decadent sex fuel playground whose master rules with a firm hand. Whe3.5 Stars
The first installment in a lush erotic suspense introduces readers to a decadent sex fuel playground whose master rules with a firm hand. When a journalist dares to enter this forbidden domain for a story, the price is her ultimate submission. Sensual scenes blend perfectly with an intriguing mystery. ...more
Darker than Desire is the final installment in Walker’s Shadows & Secrets series. The main catalyst in a horrific case of serial abuse that blew aDarker than Desire is the final installment in Walker’s Shadows & Secrets series. The main catalyst in a horrific case of serial abuse that blew a small town apart has come out of hiding to face his fears, his enemies, and to see justice served once and for all. David (Caine) fights against inner demons as he struggles to try and hold onto the one person who makes him whole-Sybil Chalmers. Dark and volatile, Walker blends a compelling romance with a suspenseful ending to the long standing arc. A few unique twist only adds to the explosive ending.
Favorite Quote: “What, did they grow’em for their muscles around here? Really, it as ridiculous. “
Ex military turned security expert Jack Quinn has played the field for many years, never seeking to settle down until he locks eyes with a new bartender at his favorite watering hole. The secrets in her eyes and the aura of trouble that surrounds her only adds to his attraction. Jack wants to peel back all her layers until there is only him and her but some secrets are meant to stay buried.
Maddie Baker is a woman on a mission. The abusive man she ran from four years ago has put a bounty on her head and she is determined to not only destroy him but also the secret life he has built. When a teenager is kidnapped from a small town, Maddie knows he is behind it and time is running out. Nothing will stop her…not even the one man who has made her feel something besides revenge in a very long time.
Jack unknowingly drags Maddie out of hiding, placing her directly into the path of a killer. Maddie has to decide if placing her heart and trust in Jack will bring her the justice and peace she so desperately craves or destroy her once and for all.
Trust Me by Ella Sheridan is the second installment in her Southern Nights series but can be read as a stand alone. Boldly flavored writing, dynamic characters, and an insidious suspenseful plot will keep readers on the edge of their seats as Sheridan leads you down a dark path of abuse and human trafficking towards one woman’s all encompassing need for justice. The story starts slow and steady, giving us character backgrounds and setting up the plotlines. The running dialog between the characters is fast and smooth-allowing you to slip right into the story with them. As the plot reveals itself and picks up speed, the ripe tension stays till the very last page.
Southern belle Maddie Baker thought she had found heaven when she married a prominent lawyer. Instead she found hell and learned the hard way that the devil wears many disguises. Abused and raped for years, Maddie finally escapes and slowly evolves into a new person in order to bring down her husband. Gone is the innocent school teacher. What has arisen in its place is a warrior of strength, intelligence, and fortitude.
“The only thing she allowed herself to need was justice…”
Fans who are familiar with this series will be happy to be learning more about Jack and meeting the woman who steals his heart. Jack Quinn served in the Marines before coming home and setting up a security firm with his best friend. A tall cool drink of yummy, Jack is 100% alpha male with a strong protective instinct. An instinct that kicks in full force when he meets Maddie.
“One look at those boots and his dick shot straight up and strained in her direction as if she were true north and he was a compass.”
Maddie and Jack are a delightful mixture of contrasts and similarities. Their romance holds a very strong place in the story with the main plot weaving in and out, enhancing the story. They are fabulous together-both stubborn and protective of those they love. They butt heads repeatedly. The sexual tension is an explosive entity to be reckoned with as they spend time together getting to know one another (in and out of bed). Jack has a very, very dirty mouth. My kind of hero. *wink*
“I’m gonna lay you out. Spend hours tasting your body, sucking your nipples, feeling all that hot cream drip over my cock as I drive into you.”
Maddie is a survivor. Intelligent, tenacious, and strong willed, she survived and escaped from what would have destroyed most people. She says what she means and challenges Jack in ways no one else dares to. Though she has some serious baggage from her past, Jack understands more than she thinks and takes his time with her, gaining her trust and proving and that he can and will protect her with his life.
“Every instinct screamed at him to keep her close, to glue himself to her side…”
The secondary characters are as rich and inviting as our protagonists. Each one adding personality, drama, and insight to the story. The dynamics between the characters are crisp and defined. The cast is a solid foundation in which our two protagonists work and build from. The villain(s) of the story are evil personified; wrapped in normality. Though we are alerted early on to who the villains are, the nature of their crimes and the extent at which they are committed is unbelievably cruel and vicious. It’s disheartening to know this happens in real life every single day.
The ending comes at the reader fast and furious. Loose ends are wrapped up, questions answered, and the wrongs of the past are made right and finally laid to rest. Sheridan pens a thrilling suspense with a strong romantic lead. I look forward to book three.
Keys To My Cuffs gives us Loki’s story. An undercover cop who for eight years has lived and breathed his assignment. His disgust at his actions has hiKeys To My Cuffs gives us Loki’s story. An undercover cop who for eight years has lived and breathed his assignment. His disgust at his actions has him hitting rock bottom until he meets his next door neighbor. She intrigues him but his being a cop and in an MC are two strikes against him. Channing has a past that demands she distrusts Loki but she is attracted to him and soon against her better judgement she begins to trust him. Emotionally deep and heartfelt, Vale builds a romance that brings two damaged people together-one who must learn to live again and one who must learn to trust again. Vale’s trademark humor goes hand in hand to help offset the brutal theme of this story. Scorching love scenes make the story even better. I laughed, I teared up, and I cheered when I got my happily ever after. Long time fans will love seeing the Dixie Wardens and the Freebirds band together to bring another brother back home....more
Favorite Quote: ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’
Felicity ‘Flick’ Hughes should have listened to the voice that repeatedly warned her not to enter the bar. Maybe if she had listened then she wouldn’t be in the nightmare she is in now. But Flick was having a horrible day and her cab breaking down was the last straw. Now she finds herself in every woman’s worst nightmare and her only hope of survival is a man who she scares her the most.
Rushe never wanted to be anyone’s savior and fights it every step of the way. He’s crude, dirty mouthed, domineering, and vicious. He takes what he wants, how he wants it, and when he wants it. He warned her, she didn’t listen, and now she has to pay the price. But that price may be higher than either of them imagined.
As Flick and Rushe maneuver their way through the landmines that litter the landscape, trying to stay alive, a connection forms. The further Flick falls down the rabbit hole, the deeper she becomes entangled in Rushe and the pleasure he gives her. When their time together reaches a pinnacle point and danger surrounds them from all sides, Flick knows her life isn’t the only thing she will be fighting for…she’ll also be fighting for her heart.
When I picked up Scarlett Finn’s Explicit Instruction, I was intrigued by the dark captive romance with the premise of a single bad decision changing a woman’s life in the most dangerous and horrific fashion. How often are we warned but choose to go against advice due to pride and or anger? I did it quite a lot when I was younger and paid some heavy prices. Our heroine in here pays the heaviest of prices…she loses her freedom.
Flick is having a very bad day. Bawled out by boss at work, run in her hose, broken heel, late for dinner date, phone goes dead, and cab breaks down. When she sees a bar, she goes to enter only to hear a disembodied voice tell her, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Flick ignores the voice’s repeated attempts to stop her from going in only to find out she should have listened. The bar is being used for meeting and Flick finds herself surrounded by men who tell her in explicit details what they are going to do to her before they kill her. Flick is saved from certain rape by Rushe. Only he is the scariest one of the bunch. Large, dark, and grumpy with dead eyes, Rusch “claims” her in order to keep her safe. Only…who’s going to keep her safe from him?
“I’ll uncuff you, but you’ve got to stay close to me,” he said. “Do as you’re told.” “You’re going to let me go?” “No. I haven’t had my fun with you yet.”
The first half of the book revolves almost exclusively around Flick and her captor. This is not a typical romance. There is no insta love or the trope that a good woman can convert a bad man. This becomes readily apparent by the pains the author takes to let us see just how fundamentally different Flick and Rushe are. Flick comes from an extremely wealthy family and Rushe was raised in foster care. Flick is an innocent in both personality and sexuality while Rushe has seen and done it all multiple times. Rushe sees Flick as a convenient lay and Flick tries to create good will where there is none.
“You’ve been nice to me,” she whispered and he immediately stopped. “What?” “You haven’t threatened me,” she said. “If I shot you, I’d lose my only ally.” “Im not your ally,” he said.
A flat disconnection in the beginning both in story and characters had me wondering if this was just another book of soft porn with a loose unstable storyline. As I was drawn deeper into their story, I began to see the method to Finn’s madness. She breaks our protagonists down, piece by piece, in order to rebuild them as a plausible unit. The shift in the dynamics of their relationship is subtle and I almost missed it. Flick becomes more than a simple captive. She doesn’t change herself but instead releases hidden facets of her personality. Flick reveals a wicked bit of snark and naughtiness to her and in her submission, she discovers her power over Rushe.
“Why do you refer to my dick in the third person?” “You don’t like it if I’m nice to you, and you don’t like being nice to me. So I’ll be nice to your dick, he seems to like me.”
Finn doesn’t sugarcoat Rushe to make him more presentable as a hero. Rather, she uses his reactions to Flick to slowly peel back the layers and reveal the potential in him. He has issues that foreshadow his actions. He is not a nice man. He is a criminal. He is a jerk. His past stinks of violence and death. He does and says things that did not sit well with me and made me question his ability to be in a relationship. Our ability to even remotely relate to him is completely dependant on Flick’s perceptions and gradual surety that they belong together. I admit he pushed many of my buttons, but I applaud the author for keeping his personality in sync with the storyline while allowing us to see the cracks that form in his armor due to his growing regard towards Flick. He fights his attraction for her for as long as he can. He insults her, degrades her, and demoralize her. Anything to get her to run from him as fast as she can.
“Take off your clothes,’ he mumbled. “You want to have sex? A woman is dead and you—‘“ Rushe stopped to glare at her. “I warned you I’d fuck you anytime I wanted. I want you naked, that’s all you’ve got to concern yourself with now.”
Slowly we begin to see a different side to him. His dry wit and rare attempts at tenderness leave readers watching in wonder at the minute changes affecting him. More of his past is revealed that show him to be far more dangerous and complicated than suspected. He and Flick develop a delightful repertoire that is steeped in playfulness and dripping with sexual undertones.
“They’re my breasts,” he said, opening the motel room door. Flick paused to look at him. “What?” “Your breasts?” “Yes,” he said without shame. “Your tits mean more to me than they do to you, so why haggle ownership?” Flick was sure if she hadn’t scared his smile away it might have poked its head over the horizon again. “You’re taking ownership of the breasts attached to my body.” “Yeah. Problem?” “No,” she said, with few other options…….. “Can I have your penis,” she asked. “Now?” he asked. “If you own my breasts…” “We’ll work out a time-share,” he said, swinging them out of the lot and through the dark city streets. “That hardly seems fair. You’ve already laid claim to my vagina, and now you’re claiming my breasts.” “He takes a lot of looking after,” Rushe said.
The storyline is a mixture of lies, deception, and manipulation as Flick learns exactly what Rushe is a part of and why. Fast pacing and intense action whips us through the last part and all the puzzle pieces fall into place, illuminating the entire picture. While the main conflict is somewhat resolved, this is a trilogy and hints are given that nothing is ever over.
There were some issues concerning grammar, spelling, odd phasing/word choices, and some set up confusion. They don’t take from the story but do give you pause.
All in all, Explicit Instruction is a reluctantly engaging romantic deviation with it’s dark content, violent undertones, and unsure conclusion. A dark erotic romance with a psychological suspenseful bent. Though it took me a little while to get Flick & Rushe and some belief suspension was required, I eventually settled in the story and came to see what the attraction of this dark horse was for Flick. I admit I am now more than a little curious to see where Finn will take this unlikely couple in the future.
Bailey brings her A game to this deliciously raw and emotional romance between a reluctant mob boss and an innocent undercover cop. A high risk game oBailey brings her A game to this deliciously raw and emotional romance between a reluctant mob boss and an innocent undercover cop. A high risk game of chance crosses lines that spells death if they are ever caught. ...more
The appeal of Cara McKenna’s heroes is that they don't hew to the usual romance hero model. They aren’t always model GQ handsome or uber rich. They3.5
The appeal of Cara McKenna’s heroes is that they don't hew to the usual romance hero model. They aren’t always model GQ handsome or uber rich. They aren’t happy go lucky individuals. Often dark and broody with a gritty past, they offer no excuses for their actions. They do what needs to be done and will maybe ask for forgiveness afterwards but don’t hold your breath. Yet even with all the warning bells that go off in your head, there is something about them that makes you look twice. Besides the unbelievable sensual heat that rolls off them, promising you a night in heaven should you decide to dance with the devil, there is a trace of reluctant honor behind that gruff exterior. Their boundaries between right and wrong maybe be blurred but there is often a very good reason they walk in the gray area. They may not be your knight in shining armor but sometimes what a woman wants and needs are two very different things.
Give It All is the second installment in McKenna’s romance suspense series, The Desert Dogs. Set in the desolate desert town of Fortuity, Nevada, a small group of friends known as the Desert Dogs have come together to protect the town and its residents from a conglomerate that is fixated on building a luxury resort. Although the resort will bring in new money, it will also change the town. The conglomerate sent its trouble shooter, Duncan Welsh, to help grease some palms, keep the residents in check, and the timeline for development running smoothly. When one of the town residents is murdered, Duncan finds himself reluctantly dragged into helping solve the crime. Viewed now with suspicion by his employers for his actions, Duncan is at a loss on how to restore his professional reputation...or if he even wants to.
Duncan Welsh is a McKenna hero through and through. An introverted alpha, this wealthy educated British expat hides behind a thick shield, only showing the town what he wants them to see. He's got OCD, is fussy, peculiar, and emotionally shut off. A corporate mercenary of sorts, he is the best at what he does and he will do it regardless of the outcome or reasons why.
“I’m not bothered what my bosses are planning.” He sipped his drink. “Casino, water park, megachurch— it’s all the same to me. I came here only to do my job, and to do it well. My commitments are about as personal as a whore’s.”
Seemingly posed, uncaring, and in perfect control at all times...there is a darkness that shadows him, blinking out at you from behind his eyes, making you wonder if would happen if that darkness was ever set free.
He tongued his imposter tooth again, feeling a kinship with it. The both of them were imitations. Passing for perfect but underneath … broken.
McKenna dips deep into her characters’ psyches with this installment of the series. She introduced us to Duncan in book one, creating the perfect anti-hero for us to love to hate. But now she stealthily rips apart his protective shell, layer by layer, to reveal his damaged center. Duncan is broken. Raised in the foster care system, he has issues stemming from his chaotic and insecure childhood. Told he was a burden for so long, he learned that being perfect and indispensable were a way for him to gain love and affection. Hence the rituals he developed as a coping mechanism to help calm him and restore order to his world.
Degrading though these chores were, the calm was coming to him now. The fumes and the ritual were subsuming him, quieting his brain, banishing the panic and the pulsing headache. He could hear his bygone foster mother’s voice in his head— that soft, cultured accent offering the only kind words he’d known in the first half of his life. ‘Look at that! You cleaned that all by yourself? What did I do to deserve such a good helper?’ To deserve him.
Bar owner and townie Raina Harper knows all about damaged centers. Abandoned by her mother at birth, she was raised by her careless, scattered father who did his best to raise a child while eking out a living. His bar, now hers, is a monument to his dreams and failures. Raina feels trapped by the love and obligations of her past...her father, her friends, and her ex lover. Also emotionally closed off, she understands the need one has to let no one in because once you begin to feel...you can be hurt.
Love had bones to it. Solid, rattling things bent on cluttering you up long after the soft parts melted into the ether. You had to carry those bones around with you. Make room for them, dust them, trip over them. Sex and moments of easy companionship were enough—just don’t let those bones grow in. Keep it soft and shapeless with no skeleton, no means to follow you when the time comes to walk away.
Duncan and Raina’s relationship begins as an uneasy dance that is firmly based in distrust but heightened with a coiled whip of lust and need that flashes through them with each new encounter. They have nothing in common and the fear on both sides acts almost as an aphrodisiac. Duncan knows deep inside that Raina will change him. For the better or worse though, that remains to be seen.
She made him want things he’d never given much thought to. Noisy, messy sex; nails raking his back. Instincts he didn’t trust any more....
Raina takes perverse delight in ruffling Duncan’s feathers, teasing and taunting him, flirting with the untamed man she suspects hides beneath the surface. She wants to taste this man. Feast on him until she gorges herself into oblivion and forgets the ties that keep her bond to this town and life.
“Dancing tells a woman everything she needs to know about how a man’ll be in bed,” she informed him.
“I can’t imagine what dancing with me is telling you.” That buttery voice had changed, just like his breathing. Lower, darker. Distracted.
She grinned, unseen. “Tells me you’re a quick study.”
“I was always an excellent student.” More flippant words, but his tone said she had him.
Deception and betrayal go hand in hand as Duncan is helpless to avoid the turbulent sensual desires that run roughshod over his wants; opening his heart and mind to something new and exciting if he have the courage to reach for it.
The man he was now was different. Scarred and callused. Imperfect in many, many ways, but also more accessible than he’d ever imagined he could be. Vulnerable. Known.
A mess, but a whole one.
Duncan and Raina give it all to one another in the new book in Cara McKenna's Desert Dogs series. ...more
Favorite Quote: “There is always a price and I’m going to collect.”
Vincent Kumix is a powerful, gorgeous, and charismatic vampire, second in command tFavorite Quote: “There is always a price and I’m going to collect.”
Vincent Kumix is a powerful, gorgeous, and charismatic vampire, second in command to the Lord Of Mexico. He has waited centuries to kill his sire, a man who made him against his will, but his revenge will have to wait when a bounty hunter comes to him with a special request. A beautiful woman who needs his help locating someone and who seems to be immune to all his lethal charms.
Lana Arnold is a bounty hunter looking to leave the family business and start her own PI firm. When she is contracted by the all-powerful Lord of North America to find a vampire, she knows this may be the chance she’s been waiting for. Smart, beautiful, and intelligent, she knows there will be a possibility of danger though she never expected it to be in the form of a six-foot plus vampire who oozes sex appeal and charms every women he meets. Lana learned her lesson the hard way about mixing business with pleasure and plans on keeping their time together all business.
As Vincent and Lana trade barbs and smoldering glances, their joint investigation brings to light a series of crimes so heinous, Vincent finds himself even more determined to destroy his sire, claim the throne, and keep the luscious Lana by his side forever.
I discovered D.B Reynolds’s Vampires in America series earlier this year and devoured her series with gusto. Such a wonderful change from the usual fare of angsty baggage laden supernatural creatures who just need to find the right “human” to make them forget their self-disgust at their monstrous appetites. Reynolds hits the spot with her arrogant narcissistic alpha males who sit at the top of the food chain and never lets you forget it. She pairs these males with strong, intelligent, kick arse humans who don’t succumb instantly to lust or manipulation. They usually meet and it’s instant dislike but as the sexual tension rises, so does the attraction. Then the real fun begins. *wink*
I have to say I enjoyed the conflict and subsequent subplots more then the romance. Crescent blows the storyline wide open and leaves it open. I do th I have to say I enjoyed the conflict and subsequent subplots more then the romance. Crescent blows the storyline wide open and leaves it open. I do think readers should know they have to switch between the Skull and Chaos series in order to get the full storyline. I read Butch before Curse's Claim so the references to CC I didn't understand. Too much repetition in why Butch left the Skulls. I think the Skulls acted like little kids with their begging Butch to come back, using him when they all got arrested but then shutting the door in his face crying, "So sorry, club business." If that was the case then they should have never called him to bail them out. He should have bitch slapped them all. Romance wise, it was okay. Butch and Cheryl together was a tad boring. There was no conflict and the sex scenes weren't really that exciting.
There is a cliffhanger and the story continues in Blind Devotion which is #4 in Chaos series. I'm guessing book 8 in Skull series will wrap up this particular storyline and be Alex's story. ...more
Cordelia (Cordie) Kane was raised by her father and has always had a crush on her best friend’s brother, Aiden. When her father dies unexpectedly, leaCordelia (Cordie) Kane was raised by her father and has always had a crush on her best friend’s brother, Aiden. When her father dies unexpectedly, leaving Cordie devastated not only by his death but with the news that her mother is alive and didn’t die in a car accident as she was told, she decides this is the perfect opportunity to let go of the past (her crush on Aiden) and move forward with her life. Her first goal is to find out why her mother left her and her father so many years ago.
Aiden Madison is a workaholic. Main controller for his family’s chain of hotels, Aiden is forever wheeling and dealing with his cell phone glued to his ear and his laptop always open. He has known Cordie for years and firmly placed her in the friend zone. An impromptu and very steamy kiss shocks Aiden into opening his eyes and seeing the beautiful woman standing before him.
When Cordie tracks her errant mother to Sidney, Australia, Aiden is steamrollered into going with her and soon the two of them find themselves involved in a mystery involving a wealthy family who will do anything to keep their secrets buried. Multiple attempts on Cordie’s life send Aiden into a tailspin and makes him realize that he may lose the one person he never knew he wanted.
I have always been a fan of Julie Garwood’s historical and romance suspense stories. Her wonderful balance of humor and structured chaos has kept me entertained for years. I was pleased to see Cordie and Aiden getting their own story after seeing them in Murder List (2007). Recently though, I’ve noticed her last few books haven’t had the same spark and enthusiasm they previously held. The romance seems one-sided and the conflicts lack depth, action, and intrigue.
Fast Track is a friends to lovers story that starts out with high intentions but falls short of the mark. I saw a lot of similarities between this book and an earlier release, Sweet Talk. Both books contain a beautiful, loyal, intelligent woman who fall for an emotionally constrained alpha who treats her like a booty call. Also, similar to Sweet Talk, the hero’s work/family comes first. In fact, in Fast Track, our hero spends approximately 85% of the book working. The other 15% is having sex with the heroine and trying to keep her safe from her mother’s vindictive family.
A large part of my dissatisfaction with the story is that we don’t see any real interaction between Cordie or Aiden growing up. Yes, they did appear in previous books but that doesn’t help new readers or those like myself who don’t exactly remember what happened seven years ago. In here, we see one scene showing when Cordie first meets Aiden and decides “he’s the one” but beyond that, everything starts in the present. We don’t know why Codie is attracted to Aiden or what happened in the years leading up to this point to facilitate her crush lasting so long.
The beginning of their present day romance promises much but fails to deliver. A steamy kiss that makes Aiden notice Cordie and then we begin to see some jealousy on his part. But beyond that we are never given any hint to how Aiden feels about Cordie. Even he muses a few times that he’s not sure what he feels for her; brushing it aside as an inconvenience. We never hear him say anything that would clue us that his feelings for Cordie go beyond physical attraction. Their love scenes are like random hook ups. They look at one another, have sex, and then Aiden disappears for a few days on business. They don’t date; a one time “lunch date” actually ends up being a business meeting for him with a roomful of associates.
The fact that Cordie makes excuses for Aiden’s behavior; never calling him on his “hit it and quit” it attitude, frequent disappearances, or lack of communication made me lose respect for her quickly. Especially since she is so fierce in other aspects. She just continues to talk about moving on with her life though she doesn’t really do anything but make feeble motions.
The main conflict surrounding Cordie’s mom also fails to engage. Her father tells her not to wait on love and that she is finally safe as everything is in Cordie’s name; yet we never see any indication from her mother’s actions that she would want access to the fortune Cordie’s dad left to her. Her mother is worth millions. We meet her mother in Sidney and are assured that her mother wants nothing to do with her. As Cordie attempts to get on with her life, an accident proves to Aiden and Cordie that someone wants Cordie out of the picture. An interesting concept, especially once we learn the reasons behind the attack, but as the ‘romance’ makes up a majority of the story, the mystery gets interjected at random stages, leaving this reader rather ambivalent about the whole thing.
Two small subplots concerning Aiden and his family provide some relief from the drudgery of the story. We get clues to Aiden’s younger brother’s coming story and what looked to be a contender for the main conflict-the land acquisition-fizzled and resolved in lackluster fashion.
The ending is overly dramatic catch all that wraps everything up neatly with no loose ends. Love is instantly realised and we have our happily ever after. I would have liked to have seen more development all around as I felt the entire story stayed on one level without any real emotional depths. I think I have come to my breaking point with Ms. Garwood. While I’ll continue to read and reread her older releases, the new ones just aren’t for me.
Twenty years ago, four year old Brian Arlington was kidnapped from his home in the middle of a night and never seen again. Though the suspected kidnapper was eventually caught and sentenced for his crime, he has maintained his innocence from the beginning and nothing could tie him to the crime but a ransom note.
Griffin (Griff) Hadley, an investigative journalist, has gained permission to write the story of Brian’s kidnapping, hoping to learn some new information and revive interest in the decades old case. While the patriarch of the family has given Griff the go ahead, other family members and the family lawyer will do anything to stop the book from being written.
As Griff sifts through the layers of deception to discover the truth of what happened that fateful night, it’s his own memories that may provide the most shocking story of all.
Stranger by the Shore is a romantic suspense mystery set amongst the rich and reclusive. Lanyon pens a tale of jealousy, deception, and betrayal that centers around a decades old kidnapping. With the faint wave towards the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping case, Lanyon sets the scene, using descriptive phasing and intense characters, to introduce us to the conflict right along with our protagonist; Griff Hadley. Steady pacing and a slow reveal keeps readers wondering what exactly happened to young Brian Arlington…and why.
Griff Hadley, a journalist for a small town paper, is shocked when his request to write a book on the Arlington family’s greatest tragedy is granted. Quiet and reflective, this is a challenge he has wanted for a long time. His first introduction to the opulence of the Arlington estate is one of wonder and distaste. He sees, from the antique crammed cottage he’s staying in to the grown children still living there, that the family is far removed from the real world. Having been raised by a fearful & frugal single mother, this family is an anomaly to him. As the story progresses, his passive interference opens up long buried wounds and grievances that move the family towards the answers they seek.
A strong cast of characters brings a rich dynamic to the story from the ever hopeful grandfather, Jarrett Arlington to the antagonistic overprotective family lawyer, Pierce Mathers. Lanyon presents each character whose facade we learn hides a multitude of sins. No one is what they seem and everyone has a secret to protect. Long times readers of Lanyon will recognize the characterization used.
The romance wasn’t a strong voice in the story and that disappointed. The chemistry was almost non existent. It read awkward and the characters’ connection seemed more a matter of convenience than actual attraction. The interactions between the lovers are very sexual but it never crossed over into what I might call a potential relationship. Most of the personal information that was learned by either party seemed to come from a third party source.
The mystery moves slowly, revealing little bits here and there. A heavy hand in foreshadowing almost guarantees the reader will figure out the main points rather early on but the journey towards the reasons why are finessed out in an engaging manner. It’s a comfortable book, reminiscent of old Lanyon offerings. I was put out by one scene that is used as the catalyst for solving the mystery and pushing the other plot lines to the finish line. It was trite and took the easy way out of an otherwise interesting dilemma.
Regardless of my misgivings towards certain aspects, Josh Lanyon’s latest offering offers a nice respite from the general day’s hassles and leaves readers with the coveted happy ending.