Bryce Sexton is the workaholic, the demanding one, the brother with no real personal life. AsFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired. 4.5 Stars
Bryce Sexton is the workaholic, the demanding one, the brother with no real personal life. As the oldest Sexton sibling the media empire his mother created has been in his hands since she passed, but with his father and stepmother threatening to throw it all away he's working harder and demanding more of everyone. He's working to keep her legacy alive, but he needs his brothers to help him do it. When sassy, beautiful Tessa catches his eye he finds himself obsessing, she presents him with the rare opportunity to forget about work, even if just for a moment. Tessa makes Bryce open his eyes, she makes him want to live a little, she makes him believe there's a chance he can have more than work in his life. But the Sexton brothers' dad no longer believes in the business and he allows his wife to jeopardize his son's relationship and future.
Bryce is book two in the Sexton Brothers series and while it is a standalone I do personalty recommend that you read Austin first. The novels begin at the same point in time, but Bryce is the opposite of Austin in every way. I liked Austin, but I knew I would love Bryce. He's as handsome in a suit as he is in casual clothes and he's a workaholic, but with a heart of gold. Tessa just flips a switch in him, she makes him want things he used to once want, reminding himself of what he dreamed of and who he really is when not behind a desk. She brings out this side of him that is relaxed, relatable, and very attractive. Tessa, unlike Bryce, is quite a bit more relaxed in her life. She has to have a personal life, she has a child, but she does everything in her life for him. Bryce is the first guy to make her want to make room for something more and he does it in a demanding, but not overbearing way. They click and it's incredibly sweet to see their lives fit together despite how different they are. In this book the one you expect to be afraid of feelings is the one who embraces them, Bryce swoops the girl off her feet and learns along the way that being a workaholic is not all it's cracked up to be.
Bryce is a sweet, sexy romance with just a hint of the suspense that Austin had and quite a bit more OW drama. It's entertaining, a fairly fast read, and not as business-oriented as I thought it was going to be based on my first impressions of the hero. It's a story about family, friends, and love, and learning to prioritize happiness over wealth and legacies. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to meet the third Sexton brother.
Action packed and just the right amount of sweet, smutty romance, Finding Justice is Brittney Sahin's lFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired
Action packed and just the right amount of sweet, smutty romance, Finding Justice is Brittney Sahin's latest release in the romantic suspense genre. Both a standalone and the second novel in the Stealth Ops series, Finding Justice gives us the story of Owen York, a Navy SEAL special operative with a repressed desire for revenge. On the ten year anniversary of his brother's passing he'd like to be finding the killer, not sunning on the beach, but boss' orders put him there and when the stunning Sam bumps into him he finds himself thankful for the break. Sam is holding back a secret from him, knowing she can't feel more for him, but when she's thrust into the center of a government cover-up she has to rely on him and his team for protection. She knows she's safe with him, but she doesn't expect her heart to find safety with him as well. Tied together on a dangerous mission Owen and Sam fight for answers and fight to keep their hearts protected.
"'You don't have to be nice to me,' she cried. 'Yeah, well, I can be mad at you tomorrow.'"
I loved the first Stealth Ops book and I loved Finding Justice just as much, if not more. While I admit I'm really excited for Asher and Knox's stories, two other special ops members, I found myself really enjoying Owen and Sam's story. I hadn't really felt like I'd known them from the first novel, so they felt new. Sam is incredibly smart, driven, and really believes in making a difference in the world. Owen, while he's got a giant chip on his shoulder, is like the quiet brother of the team, not one for wild behavior, but Sam brings it out in him. This book was like watching them get to know themselves and get to know each other, each having lived in the past for the prior ten years. They have a lot in common and as they work together on an op they find that the things they share in common could only be understood by one another, it's the thing that ties them together in both a positive and negative way. As they overcome danger and work to uncover the past they find themselves in love and what a beautiful love it is.
"He bent his head and kissed her, stealing the truth from her lips, allowing the lie to live."
Every single book from Brittney Sahin is better than the next and I'm not just saying that. She's taken a team of special ops agents, created an action packed world, and somehow she manages to make every story incredibly unique. It's more than bad guys, handsome heroes, and beautiful women who need saving. The girls are strong in their own right, often fitting into the men's world perfectly and bringing their brains to the table too. The men, though handsome and strong, each have deep seated issues that they work through in their individual books. The team is like family, with the secondary characters playing important roles in each novel rather than just supporting from the background. The characters and their stories are complex, and while not relatable, are incredibly realistic and entertaining. It's easy to get swept away by the action, drama, and romance.
If you like your romantic suspense filled with military men and women, fast-paced action, government secrets, and swoon worthy love, Brittney Sahin's Stealth Ops series is for you.
The Bastard is Lisa Renee Jones' first novel in the new Filthy Duet and the sixth book in the Dirty RiFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
The Bastard is Lisa Renee Jones' first novel in the new Filthy Duet and the sixth book in the Dirty Rich series. I'm happy to report the duet is completely standalone and can be reach without reading the Dirty Rich series, though if you're like me it's going to make you want to read them. Like all other LRJ novels, The Bastard sucked me in within the first few pages and I couldn't stop reading for anything. Eric Mitchell is self-made, no thanks to his father, but the hurt from being the bastard child is still there. When The Princess asks for his help though, he can't say no, even if it means helping his father along the way too. Harper is beautiful, smart, and in too deep, but she means something to him, even when nothing and no one else does.
"This is unforgiving. It's in my blood. It's who I am, who I was born to be. A bastard who wants her."
Secrets, lies, and some serious chemistry fill the pages of this book. Eric is handsome, wealthy, and always in control, plus he's seriously a sweetheart. I loved his strength, he faces those who have wronged him just to help the girl he can't get out of his mind. Like all LRJ novels, there's a puzzle to be solved here and there's no doubt that Harper holds some of the pieces. Harper and Eric have instant chemistry, the kind that literally pulls them to one another from across the room, the kind that makes them forget the slightly taboo nature of it. I loved their connection, it's almost at lethal levels with the way the two give in despite all signs pointing to no. Unfortunately, in The Bastard its illegal business practices that bring the two together again and it just might be the secrets that force them apart again.
"He's too good at goodbye. I'm too good at wanting him."
The Bastard is classic LRJ, with just the right amount of detail, extensive dialogue that drives the story, and smut that lights the pages on fire. The cliffhanger didn't shock me, but it certainly was jarring and left me DESPERATE for more. Like, where's The Princess and when can I have a copy of it? The Bastard is sexy, suspenseful, and very character driven. I love how Lisa Renee Jones keeps you hanging on to every word and I highly recommend you take the time to meet Eric and Harper.
"He's trouble, but my God, I have long hungered for another taste of that trouble."
IF I HAD MORE STARS I WOULD GIVE THEM Find this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Val can land a coveted spot performing in the orchestra on BroadwIF I HAD MORE STARS I WOULD GIVE THEM Find this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Val can land a coveted spot performing in the orchestra on Broadway, but she doesn't think she'd ever be able to get a man like Sam to give her the time of day, even when she trips on his music stand. With hands that play the bass like it's a woman he's making love to, he's out of her league, at least she thinks. Sam agrees to tutor Val in the art of flirting and dating, their lessons taking place on the dance floor of the hot club he performs at. There's an immediate connection, but with her confidence holding her back and a secret bet holding him back there's no telling whether the music can keep them together.
"There was something about the way he'd told me to come here, like he was going to take me to bed or to France or to heaven."
I love vintage fashion. I love swing jazz. I love non-stereotypical characters. Oh my word, I just love EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK. Seriously Staci, where is the sign up sheet for the Red Lipstick Coalition? Staci Hart is a go-to author for me, it's a given that I'm going to enjoy anything she writes, but Player blew my expectations out of the water. In fact, at this point in time I can't even remember what I expected, because I am too busy being obsessed with Sam and Val. They're so sweet, both so headstrong, and seriously so perfect. Sam is the actual face next to the definition of tall, dark and handsome, able to get the girls whenever he wants, while Val has always embraced awkward, clumsy, and self conscious as her words. She and her three best friends have a pact around red lipstick and going after what they want, in this case, Val wants Sam and the lipstick has spoken. What starts with a bet turns into the most romantic love story between the player and his "the art of flirting" student.
"Imagined that look of hope on her face that made me feel like a king and a crook."
I connected so much with this story, in fact Val and I could be the same person. Her fashion, her build, her lack of confidence thanks to years of bullying and brotherly overprotectiveness, I know all those things so very well. And I too know the trick of red lipstick, putting a smile on your face, and dancing like nobody's watching. Sam is, as we know, a player, but there's a heart in there even if he doesn't yet know it. The two click, jiving on the dance floor in perfect time, and discovering they connect when she's not taking lessons in flirting, kissing, and other dating activity from him. What starts as an agreement naturally grows into more, especially as they relax, revealing their true nature and finding comfort in each other. They bring out the best in one another and it's so heartwarming, so natural, and so real to read. Staci Hart uses gorgeous prose and descriptive imagery to bring the story to life, allowing readers to see the club's dance floor and the emotions that grow on it as the music picks up speed. Just like music makes you wanna dance, the connection these two share as they flirt makes them wanna love.
"'When you get a kiss better than that, you'll know' And I knew for a fact that I never would."
Player was the perfect mix of, well, everything. It was funny, sweet, a bit steamy, and a whole lot of romantic. Yes, there's a catch, but trust me it's worth the read. I cannot stop thinking about this book and when I think about it I'm smiling, so I'm always smiling, it's that good. You need this flirty number in your life.
"Just once. A string in my heart thrummed with a string on my bass as I picked up the beat."
Burn baby, burn. Kennedy Fox have perfected the art of the slow burn and while Keeping Him as a novel wasn't the slowest burn I've ever read,4.5 Stars
Burn baby, burn. Kennedy Fox have perfected the art of the slow burn and while Keeping Him as a novel wasn't the slowest burn I've ever read, as a series this couple definitely wins the award for slowest relationship movement EVER. These two are as hard headed as they come, meaning the flame between them burns so darn bright anyone can see it, except them. We've gotten to know Jackson and Kiera throughout the previous novels in the Bishop Brothers series, so we already know they're meant to be, but the ride they've been on is a twisted on and it's hard to tell where it's going. With a ring on her finger and Trent waiting for her at the end of the aisle Kiera has to make some tough choices about love, life, and the future she wants for herself. If you think an angsty novel feels like a rollercoaster, try falling in love with Jackson Bishop when you're a teenager.
"I was never the right guy for you, but you were always the right girl for me."
Keeping Him has been at the top of my most anticipated list since we first met Alex in Taming Him. Sure, I have a soft spot for Evan and I never could have predicted how John's story would work out, but Jackson is the temptation no girl can deny and I was desperate to see what Kennedy Fox had in store for him. Turns out, it was a lot. We get to know the fast-talking, whiskey drinking cowboy and find out there's quite a lot more to him than one night stands and being late to work always. Sure, he's easy on the eyes, but there's a lot of heart to him and I really like that he was the last brother to have a book in the series. He's easy to judge, but even easier to fall for once you know him. And Kiera? Every female is on her side. She's beautiful, smart, and considered part of the Bishop's family, but her friendship with Jackson was always just a hopeful plea for more. I cheered that girl on as she fought for what she wanted, both in learning to love another and in discovering her own personal self worth. She has so much more strength to her and I love that as a character she gets an individual story that has a lot of meaning to it. I struggled with a lot of her choices, but I also appreciated the growth she went through because of them. Told from dual perspectives with past and present chapters we get to know the teens they used to be and the adults they've grown into. These two have so many mistakes between them, but watching them work through them is what makes this book so good.
Truth or dare?
Like all KF books, there's drama, smut, and in the Bishop Brothers' cases, a whole heaping pile of family loving. This little town of Texans has been such a joy to read about, I feel like I've been there and know every single person. Keeping Him was a fantastic read for me, I loved the drama, the bit of suspense we got, and of course all the romancing. No one does it better than the Bishop Brothers, that's for sure. This book has been more than worth the wait and if you've not met the brothers yet, get on it. ...more
Lana Bitterman: creator of Java Bean and wearer of white pant suits. JoeFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
3.75, but rounding up to a 4.
Lana Bitterman: creator of Java Bean and wearer of white pant suits. Joe Coffee: handsome barista and recovered addict. The two might've never met, Lana doesn't venture into her coffee shops, though she's heard of the handsome man and his ability to make a cup of coffee faster and better than anyone else. Her research shows he's capable and her mind says it's the right thing to do, so she promotes him unaware that he's being led by something other than the love of coffee. They have instant chemistry, but beneath the surface lacks another's hand, playing puppet master over their office romance and the fate of Java Bean.
Part suspense, part romance, and maybe a tiny bit humorous, But First, Coffee tells the story of Lana, Joe, their well selected last names, and the instant romance they fall into as they work side by side on the future of Java Bean. The two are drop dead gorgeous, so it was no surprise to me that they fall into one another, but they're also both fairly damaged by life's events and it's hard to predict how two damaged souls can work together to be one. They challenge one another and work through the loneliness, the shame, and the embarrassment as a team. I wish there had been more sincere conversation between them and there was so much going on that I never really felt like I understood them both completely, but they worked well together as a couple still. More than the romance though, this book tells the story of a crazed man and his desire to control all those who cross him. He likes the power and he believes he lost it years ago when Lana turned him down and went on to succeed on her own. He employs Joe to assist in destroying her and he might succeed, if the romance doesn't get in the way first.
Yes, the cover is absolutely outstanding, hello those abs, but the story inside is pretty good too. I loved the coffee chain idea, the incredibly successful heroine, and the difficult things the characters had to work through in order to find success. It's an entertaining, engaging read that will keep you guessing, that's for sure. But First, Coffee is my first Sarah Darlington book and I definitely don't think it'll be my last.
Luke Scott always puts his career and his nation's safety first, there's no room forFind this review and others on Carlene Inspired. Pre-Order: Amazon
Luke Scott always puts his career and his nation's safety first, there's no room for relationships with those outside his team. His job, the operations he takes, they're as classified as it gets and there is no room for error. Set to play bait, Luke is unprepared for the beautiful, smart woman who puts a wrench in the plans and leaves him playing babysitter. Eva Sharp is happy in her role as a writer and co-producer on the hit TV show, SEAL Security; she's behind the scenes, she's writing, she's making it on her own. She just needs some peace and quiet to finish her next screenplay and while she loves the action of SEAL Security she never expects to go through it in real life. Stuck in the mountains with handsome stranger, Luke, she has to put her faith in him to protect her from whatever else may come their way. Soon both realize it's more than an op and more than just protection, their feelings are on the line and there's secrets brewing.
"This was a serious plot twist in her life, and she was damn sure there'd be no happy ending."
Holy moly, I read this book like I binge watch television shows, glued to the pages, gasping at the action, and swooning over every smutty moment. Brittney Sahin brings this story to life with a set of characters you can't help but want to know and action that leaves you on the edge of your seat. It's the best kind of romantic suspense and, for longtime fans, reminds us why Brittney Sahin is a one-click author in the genre. I could picture Luke and Eva the minute we met them in Finding His Mark, their descriptions making them come to life in my mind.
"I'm always prepared for every situation." ... "I just didn't prepare myself for meeting you."
Luke: muscular, closed off, handsome, a bit broken. Eva: brilliant, beautiful, a bit of a romantic, and tough than she appears. The two are drawn to one another, each the owner of a temper and too much pride for their own good, but set on a dangerous path once Eva is pulled into the operation. The story could be easy, boy protects girl and everyone ends up alright, but emotions and lust are involved and a cabin in the Poconos only amps the chemistry brewing between the two. It's a push and pull between the two and though disaster is imminent neither can deny the need for the other.
"'Get ahold of myself?' A broken attempt of laughter left his lips. 'This is why I have rules ...'"
I loved the mix of romance and suspense in Finding His Mark. Through all the chemistry and lust burning between the two there is still a serious mission going on that threatens the safety of Eva and the safety of Luke's team. There is a lot of ops talk, making Luke's role as a SEAL so believable. I laughed every single time someone said classified. Plus, Luke's team is as SEAL as they come in a novel. They're tattooed, they're brash, and they're willing to risk it all to succeed, except when a civilian gets in the middle. I loved every single secondary character and I even more so loved the action packed journey we go on with Eva, Luke, and his team.
Finding His Mark doesn't waste any time in throwing you into the action and it's a spectacular first novel in the Stealth Ops series from Brittney Sahin. The suspense fills every single page, and the romance is a cherry on top of the bullet filled sundae. If you like your romantic suspense hot and steamy and amped with tension, Finding His Mark is the book for you.
More than hot pavement and spinning tires, Austin takes to the streets for an escape, the kind that onFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
More than hot pavement and spinning tires, Austin takes to the streets for an escape, the kind that only illegal street racing can seem to give him. Beneath his low set hat and baggy hoodie he's a well-known face with a famous last name, on the streets he can be anyone. He and his best friend run the races, they're known for their strict rules and their even stricter policies in accepting new meat. When a girl causes a false start he uses her to make an example, but when she tests his patience and pulls for his secrets he finds he wants to share with her. Austin and Jalynn find that they have more than the streets of San Francisco in common and trading secrets becomes a game that just might put their hearts on the line.
"Not drugs or alcohol. Hell, not even women can make me feel like this. It's speed-the rush of flying down the road and racing through the gears."
Fast cars make you think fast women and alpha men, but Lauren Runow and Jeannine Colette give us a story with far more heart than the street racing scenario you might be imagining. They take well known tropes like billionaires, office romance, and enemies to lovers and give them a new spin. Sure, I watch all the movies about street racing, but I don't think I've ever read a book about it. It created a new world for me and made the oft used cliches feel brand new. Austin is a handsome, moody alpha with painful secrets, Jalynn is the beautiful, smart girl who's given up it all to take care of everyone else, and together they're an unexpected perfect match.
"We're having a virtual standoff across the roof of a car. Me staring at her and her glaring directly back at me."
Austin is more than just an introductory, first of the series novel and it's certainly more than a romance. While the flames of desire are always burning between Jalynn and Austin, there's also a storyline about the Sexton brothers and the business they'd do anything to keep. We learn about the world of racing, the tight bonds of the brothers, and a bit about the messed up life their father has subjected them to as he's taken ownership of the journalism empire. Jeannine and Lauren tell a believable story about a man who is more than meets the eye and a woman who finds romance in an unexpected place. I love how this story was both a standalone and a perfect stepping point for the next novel, you get the romance you desire and an overarching storyline we're sure to see in the other brothers' books.
"I've never been so turned on by words, but the way his voice turned deeper, I could feel by body craving the wild rush of the ride he was offering."
I've been a longtime fan of Lauren Runow and am a fairly new fan of Jeannine Colette, so I wasn't sure how the two would write this, I just knew I wanted it. I was happily surprised and am even happier to say it flows perfectly. Austin is a fast-paced novel with all the heat and drama you could desire. If you're looking for a romance novel that is a bit different, Austin is the book to grab.
John Bishop is handsome, gruff, and reserved. He isn't your typical single dad, having met his daughteFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
John Bishop is handsome, gruff, and reserved. He isn't your typical single dad, having met his daughter when she was dropped off on his front porch in a basket. Even with the help of his brothers and parents he's wearing himself thin, so when his mama sets up Mila Carmichael to be his new nanny he can't say no, even if she tempts him in ways she shouldn't. While Mila's watching little Maize, Johns running the B&B, but in the evening all bets are off. He doesn't anticipate how much she'd teach him, how much he'd enjoy her company, and how fun it would be to tease her about her love of football. They fall into an easy routine, but neither can deny the attraction between them. But Mila is only there for the summer and when it's time to return to Georgia John has to decide if he tells her the truth about her feelings or if he lets her go.
I was really excited to read Chasing Him, John has been the brother I haven't gotten a feel for with the previous two novels in the series. He's fairly serious and reserved, even if he knows how to drink with the best of them. We've seen him work the B&B, we know he goes to all the same events as his brothers, and we know he had a girl around once, but we don't know much else. He was a pretty big mystery for me. Mila Carmichael, like in the previous series, is new to town, single, and not looking for a man to be in her life. She's a bit younger in age and life experience compared to the other characters, but it made for a new perspective on the brothers. She's also spunky, hilarious, and seems to have a heart of gold. Anyone, including all the characters in the books, can see these two are meant to be. Their romance, though, is definitely of the slow burn variety, taking both ages to recognize that there's something more than just lust brewing between them.
All the Bishop brothers are the same when it comes to their heart, STUBBORN. Chasing Him wouldn't nearly be as entertaining if it weren't for John constantly denying his feelings, falling for his brother's baits, and always focuses on everything else but the truth. I loved that we, once again, get so much time with the Bishop family and that this time there was a small, separate storyline about Maize, her mom, and her maternal grandparents. It did read a little slower than I expected and the end was a bit predictable, but I remained engaged from start to finish, loving how John and Mila did finally come together and how they learn the value of going after a dream and embracing the changes that life throws your way.
Chasing Him is book three in the Bishop Brothers series, while they technically could be read as a standalone I wouldn't recommend it. Each story follows a brother on their journey to love, even if they're not quite ready for it. The books also allow you to catch up with the brothers from the previous story, giving us a glimpse at the future each brother has found after finally meeting the one. I love these books, they're lengthy and the romance moves at just the right pace, but I'm certainly sad there's only one left. ...more
The war continues with Breathless, book three in the Merciless series, and easily the most acFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
The war continues with Breathless, book three in the Merciless series, and easily the most action-packed one yet. I could not put it down, desperate to see how the territory battled worked out and even more eager to discover if Aria and Carter could find a way. Of course, Willow Winters leaves us guessing again and we're left hoping, hoping for life, for love, for the battle to end.
"In her strength, she's at her most beautiful."
Breathless picks up right where Heartless ends, Aria making a choice, a choice that changes the course of everything. Aria and Carter have so much love, but hate still simmers in each of them and that hatred drives the battle forward. Each was so conflicted and I really think we saw more of Carter than we had in either of the previous two novels. He fights against what his heart and head want, revealing parts of him are still that young boy trying to guide his brothers and parts of him are cracked and hardened beyond repair. Aria, on the other hand, reveals her strength in this novel, and the two engage in a battle of desire. Each wants one another, but the future of the Cross Brothers' and the land they rule puts their relationship at stake. It's a matter of life and death, love and hate, and when the bullets fianlly stop there is no assurance that Aria and Carter will make it to the other side together.
"It's all going ot crumble. All because of her. I would have done anything for her."
The Merciless series has been impossible to put down, Willow Winters has written books that require you to binge read, gathering every bit of information and emotion you can from the pages. They're filled with action, bloodshed, and sexy smut that makes you forget there's a battle being waged. I think I loved Breathless the most though, and now I'm stuck waiting desperately for Endless....more
I wasn't sure what I would think of Carter when I started Merciless, as I had read A Kiss to Tell firsFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
I wasn't sure what I would think of Carter when I started Merciless, as I had read A Kiss to Tell first, where Carter is featured as a secondary character. In it he is young, not yet hardened by the world though he was certainly on the way to being that way. In Merciless we see him out for vengeance, but also out for a woman, Aria, the daughter of his enemy and the woman he considers his saving grace.
Carter has allowed Aria into his mind in a way that makes his brothers question his every move, something Carter refuses to allow to happen. He's all about control, about winning, about thinking things through, but she does something to his evil mind. It took me a bit of time to get into Merciless, I wasn't sure I could read from the perspective of a criminal who kidnaps a woman with little to no reasoning behind it. Of course, I assumed we would discover why later, but it is still fairly difficult. Aria's perspective on the other hand, though dark, shows a strength in her that was so powerful to read. She hangs on, she gives in when she must, and she bravely holds onto her thoughts in a way that gave her an upper hand on the devilishly handsome and overpowering Carter. The entire book is a power play, with Aria a victim and Carter the captor, with a simmering war threatening to change everything they have ever known.
Merciless is the first book in a series, so as I expected Willow Winters ends this first part of the story with a cliffhanger. We are left with bits and pieces of the truth, though we don't know the ins and outs of everything quite yet. It's sexy at times, but also very dark as Carter forces Aria to give in to his will profesising that she will care for him though it is yet to be seen why she would. It's very stockholm syndrome-y, which actually interests me in the series even more so. Like Aria, I am captive to Carter and will definitely be sticking around to see just what could happen next. If you like your romance filled with crime and emotions that take you to the depths of despair, Willow Winters will give you just that in Merciless.
4.5 Stars Do not read this review if you have not previously read The Truth About Lies.
Cora is heartbroken, scared, and confused. There's money to move forward, but how do you move forward when your heart is burnt up with the ashes of your previous life? And Penn, he had become her world, stealing her heart, repairing its jagged edges, only to leave her alone and fraught with despair. All Cora knows now are lies and the truth is impossible to find.
"'That was me. That was us. And that was the truth.' 'Maybe.'"
Oh my word. Thank heavens we didn't have a massive wait in-between the release dates of this duet, because I could not handle the anticipation that ate at me daily. What happened to Penn really? Who is he? What is Cora going to do? What's next for the Guerreros? How will my heart survive this when it barely made it through The Truth about Lies? So many questions, so few answers, at least until The Truth About Us. Aly Martinez gifts us with another captivating story filled with romance, humor, steam, and action. Cora remains the most driven female heroine around, finding a way to climb the stairs of despair to care for everyone around her, even if she can't bring herself to care for herself. And Penn? I want to punch him and hug him all at once.
"Lies were light and fluffy. Made to order. Easy to digest. Impossible to hold on to."
The suspense we're left feeling in The Truth About Lies is lifted in The Truth About Us, wrapping up this duet of revenge and redemption. The clash of worlds in this book was so well done, with Penn's wealth, Cora's poverty, and Guerreros' crime money joining together for a battle of life and death, truth and lies, love and hate. We're given a front row seat to a battle of emotion and wills, our sideline seats only giving us the ability to cheer for our wants, boo our hates, and scream when we want the characters to open their eyes up and realize what's to come. It's an impossible to put down story and the BEST second novel in a duet that I have ever read. I could never predict what was coming next and I loved every moment of suspense and surprise.
"But the truth was dense. A boulder made of magnets, the Earth being the north to its south. The truth could crush a person with nothing more than reality."
Aly Martinez is the queen of romance sans the fluff, she takes us down into the deep, dark ugly part of our emotions and then takes us soaring with the high of love and lust. The threats in this duet are scary, but they're certainly no match for Cora, Penn, Drew, Savannah, River, and the other secondary characters with hearts of gold despite the black souls that brought them to this point. This duet will ensnare you, leaving you unable to read or do anything else but read, read, read. The ending though, it's gratifying, leaving me with a smug smile of satisfaction and a heart just as lost in love as Cora's. The Truth Duet is a stunning, must read from Aly Martinez.
Faith is trying to recover, to move forward from the pain of her husband's passing and to embrace lifeFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Faith is trying to recover, to move forward from the pain of her husband's passing and to embrace life again, but the notes won't let her. Someone wants something from her and it's starting to seem like they'd do anything to get it. Then Jace arrives, the man she once desperately wanted to return, the man who turns her entire world upside down again. He offers protection though, along with comfort, understanding, and a chance at moving on. She promised herself he could never have her heart again, but he holds the key to it and to all the answers that she's been missing.
"I could feel him taking pieces of me when he dropped his forehead against min and breathed me in, his eyes squeezed tightly closed."
I read this like it was a movie script; the characters acting out the scenes in my mind, the drama gripping me in its clutches, myself perched on the edge of my seat both afraid and anxious for what was to come. A.L. Jackson takes us on a new angst-filled journey in More of You, the characters all stuck in a state of unease, with questions of what if, and who, and why running through their minds. It's a second chance romance with a hint of suspense and mystery, one of my favorite types of stories. Faith and Jace have considered themselves Beauty and the Beast since their youth, unaware just how true those titles would become as adults. Faith is trapped in her big home, in a town that currently terrifies her, left with more questions than answers. She's scared of the dark, of the truths she doesn't know, unaware that she is the light that will reveal everything. Jace is lost, he has all the money he needs, he and his brother and safe, but nothing has been the same since the day he walked away. He's handsome, broken, and desperate to protect the girl he should've never left behind. The past may be too much for them to let go of and old hurts may be impossible to fix.
"It feels too complicated. Everything's twisted and mixed in a way it never should have been."
This book starts out in an unexpected way and I wasn't sure I was reading a romance or a thriller at first. More of You is a surprising novel, filled with emotion and a lurking sense of danger that only makes you want to read faster. It's angst, but not in the way you might expect. Faith and Jace's history is beautiful and painful all at the same time, a memory for them that was filled with love and trust and now is marred by a jagged break. It's the type of wound that could be healed, but can also be made larger. Jace forces Faith to face him, to see him protecting her even if he can't promise her more yet, but she's desperate to protect the one thing he's always had, her heart. On top of all this, there's threatening notes and a murder that amps up the tension. The pace is quick, one moment we're seeing Faith and Jace driven by the lust they've always shared nd in the next we're wish the sirens of a cop car would draw closer.
"Every step brought her closer to where I was. The girl filling the air."
More of You is a stunning new release from A.L. Jackson and absolutely has me excited to see what's in store for the rest of the Confessions of the Heart series. Faith and Jace were incredible main characters, but I've got to admit I really can't wait for the secondary character's stories now. The world building and character development in A.L. Jacksons novels are unrivaled, old fans and new fans alike are going to love this book and new series.
Y'all, I was so excited for Evan's story and it absolutely exceeded my expectations. The ladies of KenFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Y'all, I was so excited for Evan's story and it absolutely exceeded my expectations. The ladies of Kennedy Fox managed to make it a smutty slow burn romance, with Emily and Evan recognizing the lust and chemistry between them, but only agreeing to one night of passion. Each has walls built up high around them and follows a strict set of rules, both too aware of the damage ones heart goes through when in love. Of course, a one night stand story with no further interaction would be boring and this story is anything, but boring. They become co-workers and enemies with attraction still sizzling between them. We’re treated to Evan and all his Alpha glory, with sassy Emily giving it right back to him.
"She's at work, outside of work, and in my fantasies- the woman is dangerous."
I really liked both Evan and Emily, they’re so smart and have interesting back stories. Their joining together is hilarious and sexy, though there is a secondary storyline filled with suspense. I was intrigued by Evan’s closed off nature, so different from his brothers, and Emily, well we know right away why she has rules in place. What starts as a one night affair turns into workplace banter and heated escapes. I loved the enemies-to-lovers plot, especially with how much growth each character goes through. Needing Him is such an accurate title, though I think ultimately they both discovered a need for each other as they realized letting another into your life isn’t as bad as you think. The two had to weigh the risk versus the reward, treating readers to a push-and-pull story filled with smut.
"'I think you like it when I defy you,' she taunts ..."
While Needing Him is a Bishops Brother series novel and we do get to visit the ranch, the majority of the novel takes place in the hospital. It becomes a secondary character almost, with drama and action-packed scenes that reveal who Evan and Emily really are when they aren’t shacking up. The world building in this series is incredible and I love the small town atmosphere and how easy it is to picture. Of course, we get to visit the other brothers too and the stage is certainly set for the next novel in the series. Evan is probably my favorite, I love that he’s a bossy doctor, but I’m very excited for more John and Jackson. ...more
All the Way is the first novel in Kristen Proby's new Romancing Manhattan series, introducing us to FiFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
All the Way is the first novel in Kristen Proby's new Romancing Manhattan series, introducing us to Finn Cavanaugh and London Watson, as well as a slew of secondary characters that we're sure to see again. Finn Cavanaugh is handsome lawyer stuck with the difficult job of being the estate lawyer for London's parents who recently passed in a house fire. London Watson is a broadway beauty queen, though her dreams of continuing her dancing career are put on hold by the fire. It's not the right timing, but sparks fly between the two when they discover they're neighbors at the romantic Martha's Vineyard.
This fast-paced romance sucked me in from the start, with Kristen Proby starting the novel at the height of painful family drama. I immediately liked London, she's a charismatic woman who is both unashamed of her wealth and unaware how different she is from other women. Finn, on the other hand, took me a moment to warm up to, with his directness and desperate need to care for London. He's described so well and I really enjoyed his chapters, so in time I warmed up to him, can't say it's hard to imagine a man wanting to woo a beautiful, successful women by pulling out all the stops. London's life has been much like the drop of a rollercoaster and Finn wants nothing more than to bring her to the top.
"If I'm not mistaken, Finn Cavanaugh just claimed me"
The relationship progresses quickly, but it made for an entertaining, quick read. Each dives headfirst into one another, replacing the usual dating and getting to know each other with serious emotions and some bumps that shake things up a bit. Finn and London engage in some hilarious banter, a bit of delicious smut (Duh!), and there is quite a lot of world development as the characters take their romance from Martha's Vineyard to the skyline of Manhattan. Kristen Proby sets the stage with All the Way, introducing us to London's fellow dancers and revealing that Finn Cavanaugh is not the only handsome lawyer in his family. There's also a hint of mystery, something I hope we see in future books in the series. It's a layered novel, with several plot lines taking place at once before tying together in a neat, sweet bow.
"'There's a shortcut to my place down here,' she says with a wink. 'Just in case you ever need it.'"
Romancing Manhattan is an exciting new series from Kristen Proby and All the Way is a solid introductory novel. Longtime fans will love meeting new characters and new readers will find themselves swooning for the handsome, romantic heroes. I look forward to finding out what's next in this series, especially if we will be getting more of Carter and Quinn.
How do you write a sufficent review for a book that has literally ripped your heart out? It's impossibFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
How do you write a sufficent review for a book that has literally ripped your heart out? It's impossible to reveal everything I felt while reading this book, and still feel after finishing, without saying too much about the plot. I can simply say, it was an incredible read and I'm left with a book hangover so severe that only the second novel in the duet will suffice for my next read.
"It was the raging winds of the sweetest storm."
Aly Martinez has created a dark world with characters who walk the line between sinner and saint, their career paths illegal, but their hope for life still shining bright. From the very first page readers are thrust into the gritty and ugly, with a painful scene in which the hero loses his beloved. We immediately know he is a changed man, but are unaware of how deep his core has been rocked until the very last page of The Truth About Lies. And our heroine? She truly deserves sainthood for her desperate desire to care and love and save at all costs, even if it means another bruising blow to her face and more lies than she's ever wanted to tell. Both Penn and Cora are unlike any character I've ever read before. We are treated to their alternating perspectives, given glimpses into the secrets they keep to themselves, privy to the true emotions they lock away, and acutely aware that things are not as they seem. There's a desperation to their connection, it's a shiny thing in the midst of rubble and ruin, but its longevity is impossible to know.
"'I know you're there, Cora. Because I feel it when you leave.'"
The Truth About Lies was an unexpected winner for me. Don't get me wrong, I know Aly Martinez can write, I devour her books like no ones business, but the blurb leaves us knowing very little about what really lies on the pages. An opening as difficult as the one that starts this novel prepares us for the worst and this novel, it really does feature the worst, but there's just something about it that sucks you in. There's hope written into every page of this book, the kind of hope you can actually feel, and yet we still know something awful is to come. It's a book that is dark and yet light and filled with twists that you cannot predict. It's slow moving, making readers fall in love with Penn, placing us into Cora's shoes, and embracing the life we would never choose before tearing us apart with truths. It's a story that I devoured; my heart racing, my eyes brimming with tears, and my mind wanting to know everything as soon as it could.
"This was a promise. A vow. An undeniable truth. And, worst of all, it gave me hope."
If you're a fan of novels that take you on an emotional journey, this duet is a must read for you. Aly Martinez has absolutely done it again, giving us a story that is unforgettable. A story about the broken and the things they will do to escape and thrive and win. It's real, in the worst sort of way, and no one could have told this suspenseful romance better. Now, if only I can get the ending I want in The Truth About Us. I have my fingers crossed and I am waiting VERY impatiently to read it. Don't sleep on this duet, it is one of my MUST READS for 2018.
Darby is no damsel in distress, but that doesn't mean Trex doesn't want to sweep her off her feet andFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Darby is no damsel in distress, but that doesn't mean Trex doesn't want to sweep her off her feet and protect her in his castle. A sweet, southern girl from Texas with nothing but the clothes on her back and a hotel job, Darby knows the road will be all uphill, but it's worth it to give her baby something better. She isn't just playing hard to get when she ignores the advances of the hotshots in Colorado, but something about Trex makes her change her plans. She lets him in, despite the unknown job that has him taking up residence in the small mountain town.
Trex has always known the one was out there, he just didn't know she'd be an authority hating woman with a suitcase full of secrets. He wants to give her his all, even if he can't tell her his real job, but he's afraid of giving her the truth, he can't give her a reason to run away. He seems to be making all the wrong decisions though, but when Darby's abusive ex shows up he knows he has to take control and show her his secrets will help him protect her.
Told from alternating perspectives, From Here to You tells the story of Darby and Trex, two individuals with more secrets than the hotel they're staying in can hold. Darby is aware of her beauty, but not vain enough to indulge it. She ran away from the beauty and lies she'd believed for so long and I loved that Jamie McGuire wrote her in such a smart way, showing that she recognized that the past couldn't be repeated anymore. Her strength, especially in working her way from nothing to something was empowering to read, even if sometimes I rolled my eyes at her silliness. For someone who does not like people with roles in military or public safety she certainly picked the wrong spot to land, but I liked that in time she opened up to the firefighters and to Trex. Trex is handsome, an alpha, and almost too sweet to believe. His faith in the one is so cute, but also difficult to imagine. I can see why girls, including his own sister, are so wary of his steadfast believe that he'd just find her and know. Of course, once he shows his true colors to Darby I fell in love right alongside her. The connection they have is instant, like two magnets drawn to one another.
The storyline was exactly what I expected, with Darby being pregnant and running from an abusive ex-fiance only to find herself meeting a guy that makes her believe in love again. While nothing was a big surprise for me, I still really enjoyed the read. Jamie McGuire knows how to tell a story, weaving in the character's pasts and several secondary characters to make it well rounded. We get to know the hotel staff, the hotshot firefighters hoping to save the mountainside, and Trex's rowdy team, who I want to see more of by the way. We know all the secrets before the characters do though, so I found myself begging Trex to reveal his and Darby to be reasonable. It can't always go my way though, I know. There is a lot of descriptive filler and dialogue to this book though, be prepared, especially if you aren't a fan of religion in books. For me it didn't bother me, but I admit it does standout a lot in the chapters where it is discussed. That said, it makes the characters who they are and I liked their differences, and I really liked their ability to love through those differences. The two share more than lust, making them a couple that you truly can picture together. Finally the part you're waiting for, I know you're all dying to know about the Maddox brothers' roles in this book and let me tell you, the story alone is fantastic, but seeing the brothers again makes it even better. We get quite a bit of interactions with them, thank you Jamie McGuire, and their roles are important to the story which I appreciated.
Emotional and complex, From Here to You is a stunning new release from Jamie McGuire. Tackling difficult subject matter like abuse and secrets in relationships seems to be McGuire forte and I liked the realness in this book. I rooted for Darby, fell in love with Trex, and clung to every word in this novel hoping that the things they didn't know wouldn't be their downfall. Whether you're a longtime McGuire fan or this is your first book, From Here to You is sure to keep your attention from start to finish.
Lawyer isn't Ky's career goal, but she's prepared to be a teen version of when in order to track downFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Lawyer isn't Ky's career goal, but she's prepared to be a teen version of when in order to track down the truth behind her father's imprisonment. She just has to deal with the bullies and the bad memories following her around upon her return to her old high school. They all know about her dad, but they all also know about that night that produced the photos that chased her out of town. It doesn't help that her dad's old partner as put a babysitter on her, a handsome FBI agent with zero trust in her last name. What starts as investigating what happened with her dad turns into investigating the past, knowing she must uncover what happened to her first before she can focus on the next, if she can make it out alive.
I know I'm not the first to say it, but this was just like watching Veronica Mars. Ky is a tough girl with a sassy attitude and the ability to throw a mean punch if she has to. What starts as a single investigation turns into a multi-faceted story about a small town with dark secrets kept quiet by deep pockets. Of course, she's still only in high school, but somehow she knows the ropes. She's got contacts in the FBI, a father that's passed his determination onto her, and two of the best friends around. What happened to her during her freshman year is a story we've all heard, the kind we'd never wish on anyone, and her outcome is just as dire as those we hear on the news. Rich, popular jocks getting away with assault, a girl left embarrassed and with a tarnished reputation, but Ky just uses that as fuel. She fights the system, manages to do her homework, and despite the danger at every turn continues to face fear head on to uncover the truth and protect it from happening to others.
While Dare You to Lie is definitely a young adult story, the story is one that is relatable and interesting to read for readers of all ages. If you like suspense, characters with tenacity, and mysteries you can't predict, this one's for you. I didn't know it was a series when I started it, but I'm here for it now and definitely eagerly awaiting the next. While one crime is solved in Dare You to Lie, there's certainly more to be revealed. Plus, I really like Detective Dawson and want to see his character in a positive light, please give me that Amber Lynn Natusch! Full of moving parts, a fast-paced storyline, and gripping prose, Dare You to Lie is a fantastic new release in the YA-Suspense genre.
Alex Bishop works at his family ranch and parties it up in the small town with his brothers and best fFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Alex Bishop works at his family ranch and parties it up in the small town with his brothers and best friend. He's known for being a love 'em and leave 'em type of guy, so he jumps at the opportunity to have a fun-filled weekend in Key West. Plenty of alcohol and even more women to choose from, at least that's his plan. Then he meets River and all his usual intentions of being just a one-night kind of guy go out the window.
River is a pediatric nurse in Wisconsin nursing a broken heart and burnt on the idea of love and happily ever after. Her best friend knows the only way to cure the blues is Key West and finding a new guy to get under. She doesn't even want to find a man, but Alex Bishop is convincing and soon a no-strings attached romance begins. Then they go home and it turns out it might not be no-strings attached after all.
Cowboys, drinking, and romance...Taming Him's blurb promised a wild ride and Kennedy Fox gave readers just that. It was hilarious and sexy, featuring two characters who have no desire for love and find it anyway. Of course, it's not a typical romance it isn't just Key West and a no-strings attached romance that turns into something more, that's what makes it so fun. The two return home, but what happens on vacation never stays on vacation, we all know that by now. It turns into a romantic story, with the two discovering they share more than just lust and alcohol-fueled hook-ups. The glimpse of true-romance that they share in Key West just scratches the surface of the connection they build upon once River gives in and makes her way to Texas and the Bishops brother who rocked her world.
Taming Him was far longer than I expected, there's a lot fit into the pages and while some of it was redundant and not engaging for me, the majority of the novel kept my attention. Both Alex and River have some serious reservations about relationships, but they fall into one another easily. I enjoyed how their relationship was built upon, especially with Alex's party boy ways falling away finally allowing him to be a good partner to River. Each goes through a lot of changes, their characters developing as the story progressed. There are also some fantastic secondary characters mixed in to the beautiful ranch setting and traditional Bishop brothers wildness.
Taming Him wasn't my usual romance read, it lacks the angst I usually love but makes up for it with smooth-talking cowboy Alex and immune-to-love River. It's the sort of romance that provides you an escape, the kind that's comforting, yet still funny, and definitely worth the read. I enjoyed Taming Him and can't wait to spend more one-on-one time with the other Bishop Brothers.
If you're looking for romantic comedy that's truly funny, look no further than The Naughty Princess ClFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
If you're looking for romantic comedy that's truly funny, look no further than The Naughty Princess Club series by Tara Sivec. Kiss the Girl is my first read in the series, but I'll be going back to meet Cindy and Belle! I laughed so much with, and at, Ariel, she really is such a unique character in the rom-com world. She doesn't take herself or anyone else too seriously, her language is colorful, and she's curvier than the usual rom-com heroine is presented as. I really liked her spunk, even if some of her reactions were over the top and not something I could even really picture.
The book, though a rom-com, focuses more on the friendship and strength of three best friends and the steps they take to free themselves from bad relationships. These women at one point felt lesser, but have since taken charge. They own a business, they find love, but mostly they find strength in just being themselves. In Ariel's case, she's learned needing and having a man aren't so bad, as long as he supports and loves you and puts up with your crazy antics. I loved how Tara Sivec put a lot of emphasis on confidence in Ariel's book, showing her overcoming her issues with her weight, embracing her love of food, finding a man who loves her as she is, and realizing that her insecurity is something she's built up within herself.
If you're looking for fun, easy reads with romance and strong female characters, look no further than The Naughty Princess Club series. These books are such a nice break from my usual reading and I loved Ariel and Eric, even more than I might like the original couple they parody.
Celia Aaron, GIVE US MORE. This can't be the end! I've become so attached to Delilah, Adam, and Noah,Find this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Celia Aaron, GIVE US MORE. This can't be the end! I've become so attached to Delilah, Adam, and Noah, especially with The Church finally giving us the battle we've been waiting for. The Church is the third and final novel in The Cloister series, it's an us against them scenario, with them being The Prophet and his band of merry followers. We've shifted from just Delilah and Adam's perspective and now we have Grace and Noah's as well, giving us a complete understanding of how invested some were and how interested in the downfall of the church others were.
"I don't want to hurt her anymore. I want to set her free."
I have liked Delilah from the very beginning, but I love her thirst for vengeance in The Church. She's come back with renewed vigor and a desire to finally inflict pain back at those who stole her sister from her. Though it's a different type of darkness, The Church is darker in a way that leaves us out of the loop. We aren't sure of what's to come, who is to survive, and just how crazed the followers are. I wish we'd seen more of The Prophets rambling and more of the Maidens planning, the uprising was a little lackluster for me. It's redeemed, quite a bit, with Rachel and her very crazy ways. Never saw that coming, really would like more background on how she became swept up in her beliefs. Like The Prophet did to her followers, each and every character engages in some level of manipulation to work things out how they want to. I appreciated that there were so different plans in place by the various parties trying to escape the horrors. The Church is the final coffin nail on The Cloister and its terrifying cult leader.
"His little lamb. I will gladly sacrifice myself to save him, to give him a future, and to watch Heavenly burn."
For those looking for a dark cult fiction with a bit of romance, Celia Aaron has you covered with The Cloister series. It's got all the depravity your heart could desire.
In advance of this review I would like to state that True North is the third novel in a series and I had not read the previous two novels prior to rea In advance of this review I would like to state that True North is the third novel in a series and I had not read the previous two novels prior to reading True North. It is labeled as a standalone, but I personally just went back and read the other two and I can say the series is more enjoyable as a whole. That said, not reading them first did not hurt my reading or review of this novel, because Nicole French knows how to write series novels that individually carry themselves and are only enriched by their companion novels. Very impressed.
True North continues Layla and Nico's story, a realistic love story that shows how, despite every wall put in their way, these two find a way to be together. The realities they face are tough, they're very similar to the stories we hear from friends every day, but Nicole French weaves hope into each struggle and every trial they face is a lesson that makes them grow. Layla learns how to accept her past, finding a way to face what haunts her, but also finding a way to learn to lean on others and accept love. She's such an open, honest character, so it was sweet to see her both recognize she wasn't accepting as openly as she gave it and recognize that her love is strong enough to even affect the most stubborn of men. Nico as a firefighter is the best, come on, we're all thinking it. Not only is he Layla's knight in shining armor, but he is a public servant with a vigilante attitude. He's kind, sometimes a little arrogant, and more than loving to everyone he meets. He's compassionate and the sort of man anyone dreams of having. As a finishing novel a lot happens in True North, but more specifically a lot of character growth takes place. Layla and Nico not only accept themselves, but accept who and what they are together. You'll be swooning a lot. Plus, we get to see them really be a couple, a strong adult couple, and that's refreshing and more than great for them. It's the perfect last novel.
The title of this novel is so perfect and has a lot of meaning behind it, which I really appreciate in any storyline. It's a very well delivered romance with just the right amount of angst, definitely a series I'd recommend and will personally re-read again....more
Everyone, and I mean every single person I am friends with who is a fan of indie authors and the romance genre, has suggested this novella to me. EvenEveryone, and I mean every single person I am friends with who is a fan of indie authors and the romance genre, has suggested this novella to me. Even before it released they were fawning over Nathaniel Radcliffe and gushing about R. Scarlett's portrayal of a smart female heroine who gives in to desire and lust. I apparently can't help but give in to pressure, so I picked up Filthy Gods on release day and saved it for a quiet evening. Oh. My. Gosh. I get it, after reading it all in one sitting, I get it.
I would be better than him. I would be stronger than him. But I felt naked, exposed to him.
R. Scarlett has given us Filthy Gods as a prequel, setting up the stage of what is sure to be a wild ride with the three American Gods. Set over the summer with main character Juliette narrating we learn about the three Gods from the sidelines, only seeing their interactions with Juliette and her love interest, Nathaniel, right hand man to the Gods and member of the elite secret society. They are nemesis' at Yale, their debates long remembered by fellow students and the reason for Juliette's well fed hatred. She wants to hold the power he has, to be better, but she shows her cards and Nathaniel does what he does best, takes control.
I was a mess—he was perfect. Like always.
I am not, at all, a novella or prequel fan usually. I don't like the stage to be set for me early, especially in so few words when I know a full length novel is coming, but R. Scarlett hooked me in. Filthy Gods is set in the same world, but the story clearly does not fit in to the three American Gods' stories that are to come. We are given glimpses of the men, we absolutely have already picked our favorite as a reader, but we are also given a complete, complex story that engages us and absolutely tempts us to read on in order to see more from these characters we have fallen for. Juliette and Nathaniel's story is off-campus, the Yale world still foreign to us and the true power of the men not yet revealed in complete detail. I loved the roles Juliette and Nathaniel had in this novel, the power-play between them was so excellent. I really like a feisty, female heroine who is considered lower in rank, but manages to hold her own among those who do lead. Nathaniel, on the other hand, is every bit of handsome and sexy as I like. He can dirty talk with the best, but he also shows a great deal of respect for others and I appreciated it that considering his role in the secret society.
There was something untouchable, something holy and unholy about the boys. Sacred and sinful all at once. Bastards of Grace. Fame, wealth and power poured out of them. They were the things of legends and myths.
Yes, the tropes in this novel have been done before and we will continue to see them in the future, but R. Scarlett gives us something fresh. The secret society and the men's maturity are vastly different from recent similar novels that I've read. Nathaniel is powerful, rich, and sexy, but he also is loyal, hard working, smart, and respectful. He's the entire package, the bad boy girls desire and the good one they stick with. Just the taste of him and the sneak peaks we saw about the individual Gods' stories was enough to suck me in. I can't wait to see how Gabe, James, and Arsen are similar and different. As for Juliette, she is excellent and this novella was the perfect length for both her downfall and her rise from the ashes, because boy did that girl end up with the true power. I highly suggest Filthy Gods and cannot wait for the remaining novels in the American Gods series to release. ...more
Read this and other reviews at Carlene Inspired. I don’t think this review will ever be as perfect as I’d like, because it’s impossible to put all theRead this and other reviews at Carlene Inspired. I don’t think this review will ever be as perfect as I’d like, because it’s impossible to put all the right words together to express every thought I have about the book.
There are books that leave their mark on you, whether it be a change in thought or an ache in your chest, but Fisher and Aster have done more with Folsom. I felt the shift in me as I read, my thoughts clicking into place as the book drew closer to its end, my heart beating in recognition of the similarities the book has with real events happening today. Folsom is a tale of fiction, the first novel in The End of Men series, but it is real in its power to make you think. Yes, I saw many similarities to The Handmaid's Tale, and even The Hunger Games, but I found Folsom to be a unique, powerful story as well.
"She wants to think she's seducing me, but my body is read. It's always forced to be ready."
There are twelve men left in the world with the ability to reproduce and there are thousands of women willing to shill out money for an appointment with those men. They are The End Men and they are owned by The Society; they will sleep with you, leave you thinking they enjoyed it, and return to their temporary housing alone. They are very aware that they no longer own their lives, but it is what they must do. The women rule the world, with female partners by their side as they lead their regions and try to uncover the science behind the failing Y chromosome. They treat the men as royalty, the youth are raised exalting the men, but even the meekest women can see that something is not right. Folsom is one of those men, the eldest and most praised End Men, and Gwen is supposed to be just another appointment, only she sees the real man behind the duty. She uncovers the truth that women have taken this power too far and the men are no longer even that, their name a harsh title for the reality, that they are a means to an end only.
"I can see the hope in her eyes, possibly the greed as well."
Gwen is quiet and defiant, a smart woman whose dream of a child drives her to enter the science field, something women who can bear children do not do, and still try to conceive with The End Men. She is smarter than she appears, her brains and mouth something others try to avoid, while Folsom finds himself drawn to her. Though their interactions at first are few and far between they leave an impression on eachother. Folsom, comfortable in his easy life though aware something is missing, has hidden his emotions away and accepted the now boring role. I enjoyed his chapters the most, this idea that just one person could spark his emotions back to life, lighting a fire in him, and others, to see that they are comfortable in something that is not okay was very interesting. It made me think of the years of appointments he'd kept, the ugly acceptance that someone else hold his choices in their hands, and yet one person speaking out made him shake the dust off and recognize that he too hates his role and the bleak future in front of him. Additionally, we see the secondary characters shift, falling like dominoes in the wake of Gwen's realizations. Some try to hold to this old version of themselves, but ultimately they're left choosing a side and who chooses good and who chooses evil just might surprise you. It certainly surprised me.
"I feel a shelling of jealousy; I had him first. And then I laugh to myself. Stupid woman."
I think the part I enjoyed most was the focus on women who were in power and still electing to do something so morbid. For me, it was similar to the view many have today that men are leading us astray with their power and their ability to control, but in Folsom, when men become the weaker women, their anger and resentment of the men becomes their ultimate downfall. It is mass sexism against men that Fisher and Aster weave this tale around, showing us that it is the women with humanity left in them, those not swayed by power, who can fix it. If you aren't following, it's the same power feminists fight against every single day, the same equality Gwen wants is the equality we want. Though the women's abuse of power can be seen as not embracing the age of women, it is those women who argue against it who truly are in power. It mirrors the politics of the present, but in Folsom we find hope in Gwen and her battle cry and the followers willing to fight for the dream of equality. Fisher and Aster are telling us that our compassion and sympathy, our general human awareness, will prevail over the thirst of power.
"This is the way it should be. Men allowed to hunt."
Folsom was an engaging read for me, not just because of the dystopian nature and politics, but also due to the sexy, forbidden romance between Gwen and Folsom. For some it may come across as an unrealistic, lust-driven bond, but in their shoes, with their power of self taken away, the comfort they find in one another to be themselves, to share their thoughts, is a powerful drug neither can deny. The draw they have to one another may be just a spark, the love may seem immature, but it lights a wildfire, and with an ending like that I am sure that Fisher and Aster have more to tell us about human nature and the connections humans seek out and cultivate. We'll never know who Gwen might have been had Folsom not been her appointment, but we know that she will rise and shake the very core of The Society.
"We don't belong to each other anymore. Be careful what you wish for."
I highlighted many passaged and though I could see hints of each author, with certain phrases definitely coming from the mouth of Tarryn Fisher, it is one of the best dual-author novels I have read. I highly recommend this one and cannot wait for more. If you're scared off due to the dystopian nature of it, fear not, it doesn't hold as much weight in this novel as many others in the genre do.
p.s. Don't get me started on my feelings about some of the secondary characters!...more
You know I like a book when I read it in one sitting, in under 5 hours, and ignore everything else in life, so what does it tell you that I read thisYou know I like a book when I read it in one sitting, in under 5 hours, and ignore everything else in life, so what does it tell you that I read this one in just 2 hours? Pretty much obsessed with the crazy. The Prophet immediately follows after The Maiden and is book two in The Cloister series. These are not standalones and they should be read in order, so if you haven't read The Maiden yet you need to mosey on over to Amazon, linked here, and get to reading.
"I reluctantly turn and follow him, though I leave far too many broken pieces of myself with Delilah, both us suffering in our own dark abyss."
Readers were left hanging, literally, with a cliffhanger and a sneak peak into The Prophet at the end of The Maiden and it was such a relief to open up the first page of this novel and dive right in. Thank you again, Celia, for NOT making us wait months and months for some answers. Delilah isn't quite as Delilah-y as she once was, her spark is dimmer, her will to fight lessening, while Adam's spark is only growing larger. Delilah has given him hope, and feelings, and his hatred towards his father threatens The Cloister with a wildfire that will burn its lies to the ground. We're given a lot of answers in this novel, like Delilah finally discovering just why the maidens are so important to the Prophet and Adam accepting he'd do anything for the girl who has stolen all his thoughts. I continued to root for Delilah and appreciate her unfiltered thoughts during her POV chapters. Adam, of course, is as handsome, twisted, and sexy as ever. Don't deny it, you love his murderous ways and his penchant for taking Delilah to the edge with a mix of pain and pleasure. Additionally, we're given a glimpse into who Noah really is and the torment he feels as he struggles with his belief of his father and with his brother Adam's plan to take the cult down. Plus, the secondary characters continue to have important roles in the novel and the direction it takes. I won't spoil it for you, but let's just say I am shaken up by some of the things that are revealed to us and I have a lot of thoughts about what is to come.
"I hope you were worth it."
*This is how I picture Miriam when she talks, only blonde*
I loveeeeee anything about cults, so it isn't a big surprise to me that I am enjoying this series, but it is a big surprise to me how accurate the novels have been. The creepiness is on point, the sex side of it is very similar to previous (and current) real cults, and the characters are realistic. I really like Delilah's role in the novel, both as someone trying to uncover the truths and as someone who is falling for the lies that are given to them tied in such pretty bows. The Prophet definitely branches off from the original church-like front and shows us who really is running the show and what is going one behind all the doors of the various buildings. The Sunday morning church scene made me feel like bugs were crawling on me and don't get me started on the preparation the girls went through for their first big reveal with all the important men. It's all about the power and the money for many of the men and the disturbing things they do really get to you physically as you read. Celia makes you feel like you're a part of the dark cult as she continuously ramps up the depravity with each chapter knowing she's got you hooked and unable to walk away, desperate to know what happens next. The Prophet is a stunning, dark novel and a perfect follow up to The Maiden.
"We'd be like this even if we weren't here. I'd be yours no matter where we were."
Bare is the second novel in the Nudes series, but is a complete standalone and can be read on its own. I personally enjoyed Nudes and think i3.5 Stars
Bare is the second novel in the Nudes series, but is a complete standalone and can be read on its own. I personally enjoyed Nudes and think it is worth reading first, just to get to know one of the great Hollywood couples Sarah has brought to life before meeting the next. Main characters Reed and Teagan were once young sweethearts, but both were destined for fame and Reed couldn't let their future jeopardize the hope he had for his young bride. Years down the road, things just aren't what either ever expected or planned them to be. Teagan isn't famous, Reed is too famous, and neither has forgotten the person they once shared a life with. Like all Hollywood sets, you're destined to run into a former flame at some point, in this case it reignited the spark these two once had for each other.
Reed is a famous actor most well known for showing up on the front page of a tabloid, meanwhile his former fiance is the behind the scenes girl on a new movie he's set to star in. Both could easily have their own standalone novels about overcoming the obstacles they have standing in their way on the path to stardom, but instead we get to see them battle each other as the fight their heads and hearts. I liked Reed's goal of cleaning up his image and his ability to fail and keep trying, it felt sincere and was written true to life. Teagan was complicated for me, she'd held herself down with doubting thoughts for a very long time, yet overcame them very quickly. The push and pull between these two could have been interesting had it not been solely based on a trust that I never thought was really established. There's acting, dancing, sweet dates, arguments, and of course, a meddling agent and the paparazzi. Everything you could want in a Hollywood novel. The book even spans a great length of time, which I really liked, but the relationship story just didn't have enough meat to it.
Unfortunately, Bare was a miss for me and that's mainly due to how long it took to engage me in the story. I didn't feel really interested until about 40% and I didn't really feel like I was "in the story" until about 60%, the story just didn't feel real. I hung on longer than I normally would have, because I know Sarah Robinson can tell a great story, based on my previous experience with Nudes. Novels that feature characters in on off relationships can be incredibly difficult to pull off, because just as I would do for any friend, I would beg them to stop putting themselves through the emotional highs and lows. I could see the will Reed had to change himself, but it didn't change my perspective that Teagan wasn't nearly as strong or as proud as she should have been. Yes, the chemistry was there for sure, these two are hot together, but I wanted more from their interactions and I wish some of the drama had happened earlier on.
I think Bare was just a personal miss for me and I think other readers will find the second-chance romance a real winner.
Lilah Love, our Murder Girl, is back and she's on the hunt for answers. UnwillingFind this and other reviews at Carlene Inspired. Available Now: Amazon
Lilah Love, our Murder Girl, is back and she's on the hunt for answers. Unwilling to accept everyone's solution of a fall guy Lilah is looking for the true murderer, whether that person is an assassin or a serial killer or something else entirely. Sure, she has killer instinct, but a stalker, her family, and her ex-boyfriend make focusing difficult. As the clues continue to tie together, and tie to her, she finds that everything going on in the Hamptons is a little more personal than she first thought it to be.
"A bad drug still feels good when you're doing it."
I am so excited that Lisa Renee Jones came up with the Lilah Love series. I thought book one was good, but Murder Girl is even better. I definitely only predicted some of the things that happened and those that I didn't predict shocked me. I mean come on, serial killers, assassins, odd tattoos, and several dead bodies? It pretty much is a guaranteed great read for me. Lilah is as witty as she was in the first book, only this time it was sort of nice to see her have to give in a bit and reveal she isn't entirely the closed off girl we think she is. That said, she is an excellent FBI agent and I really liked the interactions she had with other FBI and members of law enforcement. She also is smart and sassy, which makes her a great heroine to face a pretty charming and very handsome ex. Of course, I mean Kane. We met him in Murder Notes, but we get to know him a bit further in Murder Girl. I'd go as far as saying I'd even like a book or chapters from his perspective, you know his back story and the time apart from Lilah has to be interesting. On top of these two and their sort of odd relationship, there's the continuation of the story from the first novel. The bodies, the crimes, and all signs point to corruption and assassinations, but how Lilah Love starting tying it all together is so interesting. She sees things in tiny conversations that I'd never think of and she definitely knows how to look for the right thing. I can't give away the story, but let's just say she's darn good at her job, even when it gets personal.
I'll admit, it took me a minute to get back into Murder Girl, the book takes a bit longer than the first novel to get to the excitement, but once it did I was hooked again. We discover that nothing in the Hamptons is what it seems and Lilah's circle of trust just keeps shrinking. It's almost stressful to read from her perspective, I'm positive I wouldn't be as level headed as she was in discovering that nobody is as honest as they present themselves to be. While it is a continuation from the previous novel and it ends with nearly all of our questions from the first novel answered, it also sets us up for a future novel, leaving us with, yes, more questions. That said, I'm even more excited for whatever could come next for Lilah Love. The ending was perfect, like probably the best ending of a novel from LRJ, because it's just the right amount of intrigue to keep me wanting more, but it also isn't a true cliffhanger and I'm pretty darn thankful for that.
Murder Girl is a stunning second novel in the Lilah Love series and though I always swear I am not going to start another new series I certainly cannot deny that I will be reading every single Lilah Love book that Lisa Renee Jones releases. If you like your heroines sassy, the smut hot as heck, and the action constant, plus a bit bloody, this is the series for you.
Relationships are hard, they are such a beautiful wonderful thing, but sometimes there are ugly moments. There's disagreements and figNOW LIVE: AMAZON
Relationships are hard, they are such a beautiful wonderful thing, but sometimes there are ugly moments. There's disagreements and fights, there are hurt feelings, and sometimes, in the worst of times, there is no communication and there is no stability. Charlie Pierce and her husband Cameron are living in the worst of times, a tragedy leaving them floating through the motions of life, their companionship built on time, but no longer filled with trust or blooming with love and happiness. The words they share are out of habit and the time spent together is more like two ships passing in the night. Charlie wants to find that spark, she'd give anything to feel the same way with Cameron again, but it isn't happening and an old friend, and crush, is back in town. Reese is the boy next door, the boy she wanted all of her firsts with when she was just a young girl, but he's not the same anymore and neither is she. The sparks still fly between them though, sizzling stronger as Charlie's marriage fizzles under the pain of the past and the threat of another.
"She stayed with you. She'd stayed with me for years."
Wow, that's really all I have to say...at least without giving spoilers away. What He Doesn't Know is a journey; a beautiful, heart wrenching, and at times terrible journey. It's the story of a love-filled marriage fighting against the weight of life. It's the story of a love from the past, a love that doesn't ever truly go away, but maybe isn't meant to be forever either. It's a story of those two loves finding themselves meeting in the middle, a battle of trust and lust and time where someone will always find themselves on the outside, the loser in a game that hurts everyone in the end. What He Doesn't Know is my favorite sort of novel, that's right, a novel about cheating and the heartbreaking moments in a marriage are my favorite kind. They're real, they're honest, they're relatable for anyone from any walk of life. It's the nature of how life and love works, because the easy times wouldn't exist without the hard times. Kandi Steiner tells this complex, multi-faceted story like it could be her own, it's so filled with emotion and detail that I felt every moment and it was hard to separate myself from Charlie at times. I cried, a lot, I hoped for outcomes I wasn't sure could even happen, and I ached in my very core for each character as the lies and the secrets sucked them in further.
"You can open that pretty mouth of yours and tell me every lie you've told yourself but I'll never believe them. I see you, Charlie."
Basically, you have to read this book. The gorgeous, emotive covers are just a little sneak at the two men that stand to either side of Charlie. There's years of stories, of times spent together, of moments dancing in the bedroom to moments spent at the kitchen table, stories with both men that leave Charlie in a predicament she never thought she'd ever be in. Kandi Steiners words pulled emotions from me like I was right there in the middle with Charlie, Cameron and Reese, fighting for the love I wanted to desperately. There are twists, some huge ones I never ever saw coming, and a lot of realities to this book that make it so very heavy, but also worthwhile. It's a powerful book, the sort of novel that makes you understand another person's walk in life though you may have never walked a similar one yourself. I loved it, every single messy, painful, and beautiful moment of it and I can't wait for What He Always Knew. Do yourself a favor and ignore all your preconceived notions about the subject matter, read this duet.