Author MK Harkins has stepped up her game in her third book, Breaking Braydon, a sweet, clean romance filled end to end with heartbreak, humor, and enAuthor MK Harkins has stepped up her game in her third book, Breaking Braydon, a sweet, clean romance filled end to end with heartbreak, humor, and enduring love. It’s the story of two people, Braydon and Jain, as they hold fast to emotionally-fraught pledges made long ago to remain focused on business and leave the potential heartbreak of romance to others.
That is, until they meet each other. Then all bets are off.
But the sting of past transgressions and lost opportunities have erected barriers both find difficult to ignore, let alone overcome. Their sweet and sometimes painful journey toward trust and the possibility of having it all will leave you rooting for these two as they open their hearts and learn that love is definitely worth the risk.
I loved this book! It’s hopeful and uplifting, emotional without being overwrought. And the author has made incredible, jaw-dropping strides in her craft. The writing is clean, the plot swift, the characters engaging, and the dialogue snappy and often quite funny. Even the secondary characters have heart and humor, and it’s my great hope the author will spin-off a story or two for each of them.
If you enjoy inspiring, witty romance with an upbeat, playful vibe, Breaking Braydon is for you. It’s the perfect way to spend the day, curled up with Braydon and Jain. ...more
Bang was a good combo for me, both a thriller (mostly, really) and a romance (of sorts.) It has a decent plot, revenge, one of my favorites, but the rBang was a good combo for me, both a thriller (mostly, really) and a romance (of sorts.) It has a decent plot, revenge, one of my favorites, but the reason for that revenge felt like a bit of a stretch to me. Sorry, I can’t explain without giving too much away. The writing was good, solid, in fact, and a great relief for me. I never felt pulled out of the story by errors or repetitive structure. The dialogue never felt stiff or forced. And I was eager to get back to the story after each break.
My main complaint, and I should’ve known with the trend so many authors have set, that there was a huge cliffhanger at the end. I can’t tell you how much I dislike cliffies. If I buy a book, I want resolution. I feel it’s a ploy by the author to get the reader to spend more money. To be honest, most of the time, I won’t. But with Bang, I probably will, because it was a good read. But if the next one ends the same way, I’m out, and no matter how good the writing, I won’t leave a good review, because I think it’s stealing to expect the reader to keep forking out good money for the same story.
Some readers have left bad reviews based on the child abuse content, and, while I do think it could have been shown or implied less graphically, I also don’t think it was over-shown necessarily, though I will use Lisa Regan’s novel, Finding Claire Fletcher, as an outstanding example of how to express sexual abuse of a child without being graphic or exploitative.
There was the whole peeing during sex thing, which I found exceptionally distasteful, and while I do understand the reasoning behind it, I think it was entirely unnecessary. That was the one truly ‘ick” moment of the book. I also think the author should have shown more layers to Pike in order to make his reprehensible behavior at the end more understandable and, frankly, believable. But seriously, overall, these are minor issues, and I really enjoyed the book. I just wish I didn’t feel so cheated out of the ending. ...more
So Taint is not my usual fare, but the premise interested me enough to check it out and buy. When I got into it, I found it a bit of a mixed3.75 stars
So Taint is not my usual fare, but the premise interested me enough to check it out and buy. When I got into it, I found it a bit of a mixed bag, both good, mostly actually, and, well, not bad, but not exactly to my liking. As a writer and editor, the writing is important to me. I find many indie titles a bit sloppy, falling victim to all the rookie mistakes publishers cringe at. But Taint was surprisingly well written. I thought the dialogue and narrative were both well done, interesting, and current, always a good thing.
My one complaint, though, writing-wise? The voice. The story is told from Justice’s POV, a male, but it didn’t feel like a guy at all, but rather a woman trying hard to sound like a guy. I was raised with only brothers, have had 99% male friends most of my life, have been married for 25 years, and raised a boy to adulthood. I know guys, and guys do not speak that way, so for me, that kind of detracted from the story at times, especially when he got all gooey and moony about Ally and how she was meant for him.
I did like Ally’s character. She was spunky. Justice was okay, though overblown and WAY TOO knowledgeable about fashion to be straight. The others were all pretty wooden, though, and typical, as if taken straight from ET or Page 6. I’m SO SICK of stories where all the characters are rich. It’s old and tired. How ‘bout some real folks, people?
Now, as far as plot goes, it was okay, interesting, though I think most of the story was done for the titillation factor alone and didn’t move the plot forward really. I think the whole teaching-women-what-men-like-in-bed thing could have and should have gone farther, but in more realistic terms. I did, for the most part anyway, enjoy the sex scenes, but that’s what they felt like, just sex rather than love scenes, and they were a bit over the top at times, too. I mean, ew, gross, who really needs to read about one character consuming the bodily fluids of another? I know I’m no spring chicken anymore, but…does that really turn readers on? I found I had that ICK face on every time the sex got a little too showy. Blech!
My other complaint is about the big secret Justice was keeping. The author kept pounding and pounding away on the fact that Justice was such an a**hole, when he really wasn’t the bad boy he made himself out to be. And his big secret certainly didn’t make him the pariah he thought himself to be, so it was rather exaggerated in that respect, which kind of ticked me off because I was expecting and wanted more. It just came off weak in the end for me.
And the ending, well, without giving anything away, it just kind of…ended. It’s like it just ran out of steam and…that was it. Again, ticked off. I felt a bit cheated. But I did still enjoy it for the most part. The writing kept me engaged, and I overlooked most of the issues to finish, which is rare for me when a book commits too many sins, so that should say something. It was engaging.
So enter at your own risk. It was entertaining, even funny at times, and the writing was good. I guess it just depends what you’re looking for in a book like this. ...more
I was excited to dig my teeth into Malavita. It’s romantic suspense, right up my alley. I’m always a bit nervous when I first start a new book. I’m ofI was excited to dig my teeth into Malavita. It’s romantic suspense, right up my alley. I’m always a bit nervous when I first start a new book. I’m often let down by mediocre writing right off the bat, so it was pleasantly surprising when I dug into Malavita. Dana Delamar has obviously learned her craft well. Her writing is crisp and descriptive without being overly dramatic.
Her main characters, Rico and Toni, were well-developed, though their dialogue felt a bit stiff at times, and, to me, didn't ring true to their ages—they felt much older—but they were likable and I cheered their romance on. I will say, being that Rico was more or less trapped into an arranged marriage with Toni, and his first impression of her was not all that flattering, that it seemed a bit unrealistic that Rico would fall in love as quickly as he did, especially given his history and those he left behind in London, but he’s young, so I went with it. I just would've preferred it to develop a bit more over time. Toni had always had thing for the dashing Rico, so her infatuation was entirely believable.
Malavita is much more romance than suspense. The affair between Rico and Toni is set within the background of two warring Italian organized crime families. Personally, I would have loved to see this part of the story more up front rather than running in the background. It would have benefited from being more developed. I think the details of the feud were the one part of the plot I had a bit of an issue with. There just wasn't enough detail there for me to feel truly vested, and it was resolved way too easily and quickly, but, from what I understand, it all comes back in later books in the series. My hope is that the author further develops and explains all the history and bad blood lurking there.
All in all, I really enjoyed Malavita. These days, with free time so scarce, it’s a major miracle if I finish any book, so it speaks volumes that Malavita kept my interest so intently. Delmar’s writing is wonderful, easy to read and follow, and she’s gifted with the ability to set a beautiful scene without over doing it. Some books that start off strong often weaken, but Malavita never did. And though I prefer suspense over romance, it was the romance that kept me riveted and turning the pages. I wanted to see Rico and Toni through to the end, because I loved them and wanted them to finally be happy. I look forward to seeing where else Delamar takes these characters, their families, and their bloody family feud. ...more
I’m a tough reader. I can’t help it. I’m slow with little time to do it, so I have to choose my material wisely. If a book doesn’t grab me, like, instI’m a tough reader. I can’t help it. I’m slow with little time to do it, so I have to choose my material wisely. If a book doesn’t grab me, like, instantly, if the writing is mediocre, if the voice doesn’t quite fit, then I toss that book like a hot tamale. I won’t review it, because, for the most part, I don’t review books I don’t like or finish. Obviously, since I’ve posted this review, you’ve come to realize, Unintentional is NONE of those things.
First, let me start by saying I read Harkins’ debut, Intentional, and I really enjoyed it. In a world now slathered neck-deep in smut and titillation, it was refreshing to read a sweet, clean romance. And Harkins’ follow-up adopts a similar course, though the author did add a bit more spice.
Now, I have a lot to say about the story itself, but what struck me most—immediately, in fact—when I started reading Unintentional, is the tremendous growth MK Harkins has shown since her debut. To be honest, I was astounded. Rarely do you see this much growth between books, especially in this genre. And yet, there it is. This is an author who listened to her fans and critics alike and cared enough to hone her craft. I respect that—a lot.
Unintentional is an easy read, and that’s a very good thing, as it should be. A book should never be about the author or the words, or the words being a tribute to the author, but rather the story, and Harkins manages that expertly. She’s dedicated to bringing her readers an enjoyable escape with relatable characters, and, this time around, there’s even a little bit of the whodunit, which surprised me, and actually had me guessing—wrongly, I might add, because she threw in enough red herrings to throw me off balance. That rarely happens to me, by the way.
Now, I’m not going to rehash the synopsis. You can read that above and probably in one out of every two reviews that will be posted here. What I will tell you is, I was Team Cade in Intentional. I liked Jeremy, but Cade is more my type, and I was a little pissed when Mattie made her decision. But now I’m glad she did, or we’d never have Cade’s story or Laurel or the irresistible Sophie, Laurel’s sidekick and champion. (Personally, I hope Sophie’s story is next. *Hint, hint*, Ms. Harkins.)
I think what I enjoyed most about Unintentional, what I hope for when I pick up any book, is the level of emotion the author macerates the story in. I need that, especially in a romance. I need angst and upheaval, heartbreak and tragedy, push and pull, and Unintentional delivers on all fronts. And believe it or not, Harkins delivers it with a remarkable amount of humor mixed in, so it never gets too heavy or bogged down. I’d say it’s perfectly balanced, and, as we all, as romance readers, want it to end—no cliffhanger, no happy-for-now, no WTF—just a satisfying HEA that will leave you with a dreamy sigh and a contented smile....more
Author Dana Mason’s, Broken Embrace, is a double-barreled assault on both your heart and nerves. Simultaneously poignant and electrifying, this thirdAuthor Dana Mason’s, Broken Embrace, is a double-barreled assault on both your heart and nerves. Simultaneously poignant and electrifying, this third installment in the Embrace Series catapults the reader into the characters’ heart-wrenching tale of first love, broken promises, and the ultimate betrayal. How else could you describe it when your best friend steals the man who promised to marry you?
Seventeen years later, Melissa finally returns home to face the man who shattered her heart and hopefully put the whole ordeal behind her. But while the pain feels as fresh as ever, the love has endured, and Melissa finds herself still pining for the one that got away.
The only way to heal for good is to stay away from Brian, but, as his idyllic life and marriage disintegrate, Brian’s teenage daughter drags Melissa back in, desperately seeking her help when she’s snared in a scandalous web of danger and duplicity. It’s all too much as Brian struggles to cope with his wife’s deception and unexpected death, while also confronting his unresolved feelings for Melissa and his daughter’s hellish ordeal.
Seduced by Mason’s dynamic prose and emotional sensitivity, Broken Embrace effortlessly engages the reader into a vortex of pain and treachery, of enduring love and unfulfilled dreams, of hope and second chances, while dealing with every woman’s greatest fear and every man’s worst nightmare. And yet, the story, steeped in reality and authenticity, manages to deftly maneuver the reader into the land of happily-ever-after. This book will strike fear in your heart while it wrings out every emotion. Do not even think of missing it.
No one does creepy crime fiction better than Lisa Regan. I loved her protagonist, Jocelyn, especially her flaws. If only I could kick ass like she doeNo one does creepy crime fiction better than Lisa Regan. I loved her protagonist, Jocelyn, especially her flaws. If only I could kick ass like she does quite literally. Yet as tough as she is, both as a cop and a protective mother to her young daughter, Jocelyn has some serious ghosts haunting her, and they manage to slither their way in during her toughest case, bringing full circle a family tragedy she has never really dealt with, all while investigating the most heinous crimes against women she's ever seen. Tense, harrowing, and chillingly real, Regan has woven yet another engagingly sinister tale that will leave your nerves on edge right up to the frightening end. ...more
Author Carrie Butler has hit another one out of the park with her second book in the Mark of Nexus series. Courage takes it up a notch in the excitemeAuthor Carrie Butler has hit another one out of the park with her second book in the Mark of Nexus series. Courage takes it up a notch in the excitement level as Rena and Wallace's relationship deepens and they are caught up in the drama of the Dynari and two newly-introduced supernatural elements. The plot is unique and original, and if you dig paranormal romances, this is definitely for you. Wallace is about as hot as they come, and Butler's use of dialogue and voice is absolutely unmatched. And this time, there are new voices to fall in love with. All in all, a witty, energetic, and entertaining read you will not regret picking up. 5 brilliant stars for Carrie Butler's Courage!
Fantastic read! Put this NA PNR on your TBR list! ...more
Though I’ve been reading more books in this genre lately, romance is not my usual go-to read, but I’ve been trying to expand my horizons more, and thiThough I’ve been reading more books in this genre lately, romance is not my usual go-to read, but I’ve been trying to expand my horizons more, and this book came up on my radar. I was very pleasantly surprised.
I think one of the things I liked best about Inky was how incredibly easy it was to read, like good chocolate melting on your tongue. I loved Inky’s voice. It just felt…well…real. Genuine. Like I could totally hear someone say the things she says or think the way she thinks.
The story dips its toe into some dark waters, delving into child abuse and molestation, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with it. It just kind of lurks in the background. The real story is about Inky learning to love again, to open herself to new possibilities, and to take refuge in one who suffers his own dark past. Together they can make each other whole again.
Okay, I will hit upon the fact that Inky has a big cliffy at the end, and I knew that going in, but the second in the series, Cole, is already out, so there’s no waiting to find out what happens, and the books are so reasonably priced, you don’t feel taken advantage of. So if you want an easy-to-swallow love story filled with real characters who speak like regular people, I highly recommend Inky. I totally enjoyed it! ...more
If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be refreshing. I read more thrillers than anything else, but occasionally, I want a love stoIf I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be refreshing. I read more thrillers than anything else, but occasionally, I want a love story to cuddle up with. But, ever since Fifty Shades, so much of what’s out there, what popular and most visible, is—well—smut, to put it mildly.
Now, I enjoy a juicy romp as much as the next gal, but, as an adult with a vivid imagination, I really don’t require an author to tell me where or how one character puts some random body part into another character. While love scenes are important and titillating, I seriously don’t understand why readers need them spelled out so graphically all the time. Why not focus on the story and the relationship between those involved?
Well, that’s what you get with Intentional. It’s about the characters, first, foremost, and to the very end. It’s sweet and clean, yet real and deep and emotional, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its dark side, because it does. The villain feels pulled straight from the headlines, like someone you’d hear about on Dateline, someone with emotional and mental instabilities, who feels slighted by those closest. But the villain is not in-your-face-evil, but rather representative of the spoiled, overly indulged youth we see so much of on reality TV, YouTube, and Vines. The villain wants what the villain wants; damn those who might be hurt.
This is in complete contrast to the main characters who make up the intense love-triangle, Mattie, Jeremy, and Cade. They are all three believable and well-developed. Jeremy and Cade are both gorgeous and swoon-worthy, and while Mattie might seem a bit naive to some, I see her instead as idealistic and wholesome.
She sees the world as she lives it. She’s not expecting the self-serving corruption she’s faced with, so she doesn’t understand it or know how to deal with it, because it’s just not in her genetic makeup. Instead of allowing herself to be drawn into the muck and mire of deception, she flees, and while settling into a new life, she meets someone who helps her heal. But all is not as it seems, and Mattie’s past comes roaring back to haunt her. She’s forced to face the impossible truth of her past and choose between the two men in her life.
The writing is clean and fresh. It’s not overdone or vain in anyway. The author writes to tell the story, period, and is in no way self-indulgent. It’s straight forward and elegant in its simplicity, which I really enjoyed. Intentional is written in first person, which I LOVE!! But it’s also in present tense, which, at first, kind of threw me since I haven’t read many books in present tense. But the writing is so clean, it was effortless to slip into. In fact, when I wasn’t reading Intentional and had to read something else, I was thrown off because it wasn’t present tense. It just feels more immediate somehow, really in the moment. And that was important to this story of first love and unexpected betrayal.
I loved Intentional, and recommend it to all who enjoy a sweet, real-life love story.
I'm a published author of adult psychological thrillers and romantic suspense, so YA romance is so not my thing. I wasn't sure what to expect headingI'm a published author of adult psychological thrillers and romantic suspense, so YA romance is so not my thing. I wasn't sure what to expect heading into Reasons. I'll tell ya, though, I was most pleasantly surprised.
I read this book at a time when my life was in turmoil and I really needed something to lighten up my mood. Reasons did just that! It's incredibly sweet! Like eating chocolate frosting straight from the container. YUM!
But that's not say it doesn't have substance, because it does. It touches on some real-life concerns and issues among teenagers: first love, body image, fitting in, family dynamics, abandonment, dysfunction, peer pressure, and being true to oneself. But Reasons tackles these issues without getting all heavy and melodramatic, a real surprise and wonderfully refreshing among all the teenage angst out there.
And for those few of you out there who are concerned about the writing, as I am as a working editor, you've nothing to worry about. It's clean, smooth, and well edited, very refreshing among the self-published. The pace is quick and breezy, and the voice is unique. I don't think I've ever read YA from a boy's perspective. And while I'm not sure a teenage boy would truly consider all the things Brody does in Reasons, it still felt real, and it gives hope to teenage girls everywhere. So kudos to the author! I'd definitely read more of whatever she has to publish. A big thumbs up and highly recommended! ...more
Alex J. Cavanaugh’s third installment in the Cassa series soars to new and greater heights, but while it is set in space, the theme is both universalAlex J. Cavanaugh’s third installment in the Cassa series soars to new and greater heights, but while it is set in space, the theme is both universal and intimate, that coexistence is essential for survival.
Since I don’t often foray into space opera, it’s hard for me to say how this story compares to others within the genre. What I can say, having read Cavanaugh’s other novels, is that the genre doesn’t really matter. It’s the story that counts, and just like the author’s other works, CassaStorm is packed with the heart and soul any reader of any age would undoubtedly enjoy.
True, they may be of an alien variety, but this novel strikes on one of the most basic principles of life, no matter the species—tolerance—that the synchronization of races, of life experience and civil doctrine, creates a more understanding, harmonious, and peaceful society, one less inclined to teach hatred or suborn suspicion. And that’s pretty much the message CassaStorm imparts.
As the ten races of Byron’s world battle it out among themselves for territory and dominance, they all simultaneously come under threat from a single source, the alien race they believe seeded each of their worlds a thousand years ago. And when it’s determined that they will all either die as separate warring foes or live as a peaceful reunited people, Byron must find a way to demonstrate a shared heritage in order to show that peace is possible among these vastly different races. But when Byron’s young son, Bassan, is revealed to be the sole source of possible unification, Byron has to choose between the safety of his child and the survival of everyone else, even his sworn enemy.
Even with all the action and politics that drive the plot, there’s way more to CassaStorm than this battle between power and trust. It’s equally character-driven as it tells of the deep familial relationship between Byron and his mate, Athee, as they struggle to raise Bassan while living up to their individual duties, hers to her native planet of Tgren and Byron’s as Commander of the Cassan base there. And it delves into the complex bond between a rigid father who was raised without a family to guide him and his son who wants nothing more than to have his stern father be proud of him.
But as complex as these three relationships are, it’s Bassan’s inner struggle with his own mixed Cassan-Tgren heritage that fuses the two parts of CassaStorm together into one cohesive, mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion—for peace, happiness, solidarity, and empathy. Well done, Mr. Cavanaugh. Well done! ...more