Nov 28, 2017

Review: THE SHADOW AND THE STAR by Laura Kinsale

He is a man of dark secrets—wealthy, strong, majestically handsome—the master of the ancient arts of a distant land. Scarred by a cruel childhood, he has sworn only to love chastely ... yet he burns with the heat of unfulfilled desire.

She is innocent and nearly destitute, yet she possesses a beauty as incandescent as a heavenly orb. And she is drawn to this powerful stranger by a need she cannot deny.

Never has such passion so consumed a man and a woman. But by giving his heart freely, the Shadow risks everything he believes in. And to follow her enigmatic warrior means the Star must enter his world of intrigue, vengeance, and desire—and surrender to the most dangerous love there ever could be.

In January, 2015 I fell in love with a book, a book so beautiful it was more than enough to make me a fan of the author who wrote it. Since Flowers from the Storm I've only read three more novels penned by Laura Kinsale, in part because knowing I still have several of her books left to read comforts me, and in part because I'm a bit of a chicken -- Ms. Kinsale's books are beautifully written, but not always easy to read. In all honesty, I started reading The Shadow and the Star way back in May. After only a few pages, I decided I wasn't ready to find out what the main characters would have to go through to get their happy ending. Once November came, I figured it was high time I read the novel Laura Kinsale declared as her favorite book she'd written.

Now, I feel silly for waiting this long to read it because it exceeded my high expectations. It's been too long since I loved a book as much as I loved The Shadow and the Star. I was on the brink of tears when I finished it, not because it was a sad ending, but because I didn't want to let it go. 449 pages, yet it ended all too soon. Not even an epilogue was there to comfort me.

That was four days ago. Ever since I've been trying to find the right words to express what it was that once again made me fall in love with Ms. Kinsale's storytelling, but I'm afraid whatever I come up with, doesn't seem enough. Lets just say it was everything, okay? The Shadow and the Star reminded me of the time I first read this author. What wonderful and nerve-racking reading experiences! Laura Kinsale's heroes and heroines have mountains of trouble to conquer before getting to their happy ending. I normally breathe a sigh of relief when I get to the last page and find the main characters in a good place at last. This time was different. I was about halfway through when I finally started believing that no matter what happened, it would be alright in the end, and I realized that even when it seemed like a chasm was opening between the main characters, Samuel and Leda, Ms. Kinsale was actually very slowly bringing them together. Their 449 pages long journey was an emotional roller coaster: heartbreaking mostly, but also heartwarming, at times frustrating, and even though I was often dangerously close to crying, there were parts I found amusing, and instances when I would just laugh out loud.

I've been reading what I wrote about Flowers from the Storm, and this part caught my attention: the main reason I fell in love with this book was Christian Langland, Duke of Jervaulx. I could say the same thing now, just with a different name: the main reason I fell in love with this book was Samuel Gerard. Tortured heroes seem to be a specialty of Ms. Kinsale, and Samuel was tortured as they come. He first appeared in The Hidden Heart as a boy in horrendous circumstances, to say the least. I haven't read that book, but that part of Samuel's life was covered enough not to feel important pieces of his backstory were missing. Besides that, there were chapters which were snippets from Samuel's past showing how he became who he was in the present time: from coming to Hawaii to live with Lady Tess, to being trained by their Japanese butler in ancient martial arts, deciding to marry Kai, Lady Tess's daughter, once she was old enough, and working hard to be a successful businessman and worthy of Kai. He had made decisions regarding his future and was focused on accomplishing his goals. In present time, Samuel and the Ashland family were in London for Her Majesty's Jubilee. There, Samuel, or the Shadow Warrior, crossed paths with Leda, and his life started going the way he never planned.

Leda's circumstances were bad at the beginning. She had been brought up as a proper lady, but after both her guardian and the first heir to her guardian's house died, she had to move and rent a shabby room in a dreadful neighborhood. She was barely making ends meet working as a showroom woman, and even that position she had to leave when her employer made apparent the dishonorable way of earning extra money. From there on her situation only got worse. Then one night a stranger broke into her room, only it wasn't a stranger at all, but Mr. Gerard, the devastatingly handsome, cold angel she had met just before she had to resign her job. She helped him, and chose not to disclose his crimes to the police, but only when she had to abandon her room without anything did she find herself in front of Samuel's house ready to accept his offer to become his secretary.

In the Ashlands' home Leda was welcomed with open arms. Bickering with Samuel about proper behavior aside, she was comfortable and safe. A true friendship was forming between them, with stolen glances, touches, words and thoughts alluding to stronger feelings. Leda was first to admit to herself she had fallen in love with Mr. Gerard. Samuel, on the other hand, was quite clueless in figuring out his feelings. The aloof, cold, calm, calculated man turned out to be none of those things inside. He was apparently in turmoil since he met Leda. His desire for her shamed him, though if he was being honest, he did everything to tie her to him. His mind was troubled -- he burned for one woman, and was planning to propose to another, not even realizing his feelings for Kai were those of a protective brother or that his vision of their life together was nowhere near to one of a happy, married couple in love. Oh, the man was deeply conflicted, it was painful to read. The mountain of trouble this hero had to conquer was in his mind. Luckily, despite his determination to stay away from Leda, his body lead him right to her -- a repeating theme throughout the book. It took an intervention from Lady Tess and Lord Gryphon to convince him to do right by Leda. However, with Leda's primness and apparent inability to be frank and open about anything but furniture, it would seem, and Samuel's reserved nature, these two still had a long way to go. I wouldn't say they succeeded at openness even at the end. That's why I wished there was an epilogue, to find them happy and laughing for once, especially Samuel. Yeah, Samuel's laughter would have been nice to wrap it all up.

What can I say in the end, except that Laura Kinsale is a freaking genius. The Shadow and the Star is so richly written, what I wrote about it is only a part of the story I didn't want to end. Ordering another of her books helped with the book hangover, though I'd feel much better if I heard the news Ms. Kinsale was publishing a new novel. In the meantime, I still have eight more of her books to read. Eight more heroes to develop an embarrassing crush on.

Until next time, happy reading!


Nov 20, 2017

Cover Reveal: OVER US, OVER YOU by Whitney G.

Subject: Delete this message after you read it...

Dear Hayley,

I'm assuming you're still hungover, so I'll make this brief.

Last night, you slipped under my sheets (without my permission), and we almost had sex. I got the hell out of the bed once I realized it was you, and I took you home.

That's the story.

The end.


Just in case you've forgotten, you're my best friend's little sister. We will never be anything more. (We can't be anything more.) Our previous friendship is still unresolved--or "over" in your terms, so I'd prefer if we worked on becoming 'just friends' again since you're in town.

Nonetheless, I'm not a man who leaves questions unanswered--even the drunken ones, so to properly close our inappropriate conversation:

1) Yes, I liked the way your lips felt against mine when you were on top of me.
2) Yes, I do "prefer" rough sex, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't rough with you.
3) No, I had no idea you were still a virgin...

This message never happened,

Expected release date: November 30, 2017

 Amazon | iBooks  

Until next time, happy reading!


Sep 25, 2017

Spotlight: THE BOYS NEXT DOOR by Miranda Silver

Title: The Boys Next Door: An MFM Menage Romance
Author: Miranda Silver
Date of Publication: June 23, 2017
Genre: MFM Menage Romance
Diana Cooper is 18, eager to graduate and go to Yale, and too shy to really look a boy in the eye. No one suspects the sexy lingerie hiding under her vintage dresses. No one suspects the dirty fantasies running through her mind. Brendan and Ian O'Brian, the hot twins next door, are home from UConn for the summer: gorgeous, athletic, basking in popularity. Brendan, the "good twin," attracts everyone with his easygoing friendliness. Ian, the "bad twin," leaves a mess of pranks, collisions, girls, and attitude behind. As kids, the O'Brian twins were practically Diana's brothers. But a year away changed everything. Now, Di can barely handle a hello to Brendan. And Ian — well, it’s easier to look the other way and pretend she doesn’t see his smirk. Right before graduation, Brendan breaks the silence to invite Di for a swim. She figures she’ll test the waters, but that night pulls her into the steamiest deep end imaginable. And it’s just the beginning. Can she dive in and live out her fantasies? Can she let the past go and learn to trust? And when no one’s who they seem — good twin, bad twin, or shy honors student — will her heart tell a different story? She’d never admit it. But she might be over her head.  
Purchase your copy today!
“Are you okay?” Brendan’s voice came through the door. “Fine,” she croaked. “Can I come in?” “Uh—“ Diana blinked as the door opened. Brendan’s broad grin turned her prickling skin into liquid heat. Too startled to look away, she stared into his hazel eyes. “You look great. Let’s go.” “I— I can’t.” She shook her head. “What do you mean?” He crossed to her and put a hand on her bare shoulder. Oh God, why did he have to do that? His palm was so warm, his hand big and masculine. She could smell his male scent, cologne or deodorant or something else, salty and fresh. He didn’t even seem to notice that he was touching her, but she could barely breathe. “You’re all ready. You don’t have anything else important to do.” He cocked his head teasingly toward the pile of books and papers on her desk next to her laptop. “Come have fun.” Diana’s head swam. Brendan stood close enough to feel the heat coming off his body. Holy fuck, her underwear drawer stood open and spilling over with lingerie, her pack of pills was all too obvious on the dresser, and her dildo lay in plain sight on her pillow. She prayed Brendan wouldn’t notice. He seemed to be keeping his eyes on her face. “You don’t understand.” She hated the way her voice dropped to a whisper. Dammit, when would she get past this insane shyness? When would she just be able to express herself like a normal person, as easy and comfortable as Brendan was right now? “I don’t do parties. I don’t hang out with people I don’t know.” Brendan looked surprised, but he didn’t take his hand off her shoulder. “You need to get past that. You’re going to college soon. Everyone you meet will be a person you don’t know, and the parties—“ “I’m scared.” Jesus, had she really just admitted that? And was Brendan moving closer and putting his arm around her? He couldn’t be. Yes, he was. He was standing next to her, right up close, with his arm around her shoulders. And all she could think was that she was in her swimsuit, with her skin more exposed than covered, and he was almost naked too, and tall and muscular and very male, and she was hot and cold— “What are you scared of?” he murmured. “People,” she muttered. “Guys especially.” “Tell me,” he said softly. “Why guys?” Oh. My. God. He was rubbing her back, gently, and she felt like her body was on fire. Her crotch, especially. Her pussy was going to explode. “I— had some bad experiences awhile back. I’ve never told anyone. Nothing really bad,” she said quickly, “but enough to scare me. I don’t trust guys. And I don’t know what to do with them.” She looked up from the floor. Brendan’s head was cocked toward her, listening. His hand still stroked her back. “I’ve never…I’ve never kissed anyone. I’ve never even let a guy touch me the way you are, since—“ She broke off. She’d said way too much. Any minute now, Brendan would flee her house, repelled by her complete uncoolness. He definitely wouldn’t be leaning toward her the way he was right now, turning his head and lifting her chin with his fingers as he— Lips brushed hers in a light kiss. She stared at him, shocked, as he pulled back. Smiling hazel eyes met hers. “Now you have,” he said softly. “Not so bad, right?” It was a second before she found her voice. “That was a peck,” she said hoarsely. “That wasn’t a real kiss.” Brendan’s eyebrows shot up. Before she could backtrack, he cupped her neck, twining his fingers in her hair, and pulled her close. No. Yes. He was kissing her, his lips soft and alive, the beer on his breath sexier than she could have expected, and — oh God, that really was his tongue snaking into her mouth, hot and wet, touching her tongue, even licking it. Her nipples were achingly hard, her whole body quivering. Her hands were pressed against Brendan’s chest — yes, his bare chest, feeling thick hair and hot skin. Her bikini bottoms were completely soaked with excitement. His other hand still toyed with her back, sending shivers down her spine and straight to her pussy. Her mouth opened eagerly to his as he sucked on her lower lip. All too soon, he let go. “Come over,” he said softly. “We’ll take care of you.”  
About The Author
Miranda Silver has always loved getting lost in a book and living where the story is. After years of daydreaming through classes and meetings, she realized she could create her own stories. She adores drama (on the page), a dash of mind games, good intentions, and open-ended happy endings. Miranda is relieved — at long last — to be putting her English degree to use.  

Sep 8, 2017

Cover Reveal: STILL by Kennedy Ryan

“I love [Grip] in a way I haven't loved a character in such a long time. He's just seriously everything I could want in a hero. EVERYTHING. And then more.”
--Adriana Locke, USA Today Bestselling Author 

STILL, the all-new emotional and sexy addition to the GRIP series,
is coming September 25th!
Enter the Release Day Giveaway!
$25 “Winner’s Choice” Gift Card
Title: STILL
Author: Kennedy Ryan
Publication Date: September 25th, 2017
Cover Designer: Maripili Studio

I'll be there.
Through thick and thin.
Ride or die.
You can count on me.
The promises people make. The vows we take.
Assumptions of the heart.
Emotion tells us how we feel, but has a way of plunging us in boiling water, burning away our illusions, testing our faith, trying our convictions.
Love floating is a butterfly, but love tested is an anchor.
For Grip and Bristol,
Love started at the top of the world
On a Ferris wheel under the stars
But when that love is tested, will they fly or fall?
Receive an email AS SOON as STILL is LIVE:
Add STILL to GoodReads:
FLOW, the FREE prequel, MUST BE READ before GRIP!
Read GRIP Today!
(Free in Kindle Unlimited)
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Amazon CA ➜
Amazon AU ➜
Add to GoodReads ➜
Find the GRIP Series On Audio!
Join the GRIP Discussion Group:
Order Signed GRIP Series Paperbacks:
About Kennedy:
Kennedy Ryan is a Southern girl gone Southern California. A Top 100 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy writes romance about remarkable women who find a way to thrive even in tough times, the love they find, and the men who cherish them.
She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Georgia families living with Autism, Kennedy has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other outlets as a voice for families living with autism.
Connect with Kennedy:

Aug 3, 2017

ARC Review: ILLEGAL CONTACT (The Barons, #1) by Santino Hassell

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin's timeout is over…

Illegal Contact is a sports-related romance and I liked it. That's a sentence I don't write often, probably because I hardly ever read them. However, Illegal Contact is Santino Hassell's sports romance, and that I had to read.

The first book about the Barons introduced Gavin Brawley, the team's tight end who was in trouble with the law. Gavin wasn't a charismatic athlete beloved by the fans. No, his fan mail was mostly hate mail. He was known as an asshole. He had a bad relationship with the media, and an infamous Brawley glare, and when the Barons would win thanks to him, people would begrudgingly give him credit for it. When a video of his confrontation with some guy, a confrontation that included punches, went viral, he got suspended for a whole season and six months of house arrest. Not being allowed to leave his house for so long meant he had to hire a personal assistant. That brought Noah Monroe into the picture.

Noah was jobless and drowning in debt. He was living with his dad who had also lost his job and had no savings. Being a PA for a football player under house arrest wasn't a position he wished to fill, but after his last employment ended badly for him, he couldn't be picky. He was, however, prickly. Even during his interview he argued with Gavin. It was their first of many rather amusing arguments. When it came to football, Noah was ambivalent. It's something we have in common, Noah and I. That would change for him over time, at least about the Barons. And even I can't deny wanting Gavin and his best friends Simeon and Marcus to lead the Barons to victory.

Gavin and Noah had six months to spend in the same house. The first part of it, they spend arguing, and at times avoiding each other. They were also getting to know each other, and that was the time they were trying really hard to hide the growing attraction between them. Noah was undeniably attracted to Gavin from the get-go, but the more he learned about him, he grew to like him. I grew to like him, too. Under the gruff exterior, Gavin was a football player who loved the game, and felt it had saved his life. His fan mail wasn't only hate mail; he received letters from kids in the foster system who loved football and dreamed of going pro like Gavin did, and with Noah's assistance, Gavin found a way to help those kids. Gavin was also a loyal friend. My favorite part of the book was with Gavin, Noah and his besties Simeon and Marcus joking and teasing like best friends do. It was his loyalty to Simeon that had him going after that guy from the video which resulted in him missing the entire season, and spending months in his barely furnished house. Thanks to Noah, the public got to meet another side of Gavin. He went from having an infamous Brawley glare to a smile that charmed the fans so much that #DatBrawleySmile started trending.

The romance between Noah and Gavin progressed slowly. They really got together in the last third of the book, but in this case I didn't mind that at all. I enjoyed the buildup too much to mind. They spent the second third of Gavin's sentence in a blissful bubble, and the bubble burst when they had to face the harsh reality of what their relationship would be like after his house arrest was over, because Gavin's bisexuality was hidden from the public eye, and if it came out, it could ruin his career. Having to hide all the time and living in fear a paparazzo would still manage to take a picture of the two of them which would probably mean the end to Gavin's playing football wasn't an option for Noah, so he did what he felt was the right thing to do: he left. Everything was going so well with them, I kind of expected it would be smooth sailing to the very end. Once they realized the implications of being together long-term, it was like my own bubble burst.

Luckily for Gavin and Noah, and me, Illegal Contact is a romance which means their separation wasn't of a permanent nature. The story ended with them back in their sexy little bubble, but what happened to them after they joined the rest of the world is what I am wondering now. I hope the next book Down by Contact will not only be a treat with Simeon as a main character, but that it'll also satisfy my curiosity about Noah and Gavin and see if DatBrawleySmile is still charming the Barons fans.

***ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

Until next time, happy reading!


Jul 22, 2017

ARC Review: AN UNNATURAL VICE (Sins of the Cities, #2) by K.J. Charles


In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.


Sometimes you read a review copy of a book, and for whatever reason it takes you ages to actually review it. You realize it's been so long since you read the book you can't properly write about it, so you read the book again. And sometimes, if you're lucky, you end up loving it more the second time around. I was lucky with An Unnatural Vice. The first time I really liked it. This time I really, really liked it.

I had a strong feeling this series would get more interesting, and I was right. Sins of the Cities continues, and gets wonderfully more complicated... and foggier. I never would have guessed I would enjoy reading about the dreadful London fog, but when it brought two lonely hearts together, the foul murkiness didn't seem that bad. Especially since the hearts in question belonged to Nathaniel Roy and Justin Lazarus.

While Nathaniel played a part in the previous book, An Unseen Attraction, Justin Lazarus was only mentioned by name, after which he was called a "damned fraud" by none other than Nathaniel, so imagine my surprise followed by excitement when I read the blurb for An Unnatural Vice, and saw Nathaniel's love interest would be the damned fraud. I just knew I'd be in for a treat. I adored Clem and Rowley from the previous installment, but Justin and Nathaniel's story was more my speed. Adversaries who become lovers, and whose fights are like foreplay -- oh, yes, it's always a lot of fun to read.

Nathaniel and Justin started off on the wrong foot, to say the least. Nathaniel was a journalist with strong opinions on right and wrong, a journalist determined to expose Justin and his profession as false. Justin was a spiritualist to whom people came wanting to communicate with the dead, and who had no qualms about lying to his visitors and taking their money afterwards. His usual clients bored him, and Nathaniel was a welcome challenge. Nathaniel had been grieving for his lover for years. He hadn't felt attraction for another man since Tony, but then his visits to the Seer of London changed that. He wanted that damned fraud, which was unsettling as was Justin's ability to guess what lay deep in Nathaniel's heart. The seance didn't end well. That could have been the last they saw of each other had there not been trouble brewing in the foggy city streets.

The mystery from An Unseen Attraction continued in this book. The secrets and crimes surrounding Clem's family were increasing in number, as there were more and more people claiming to have a right to the family fortune, some of which were willing to go to great lengths to achieve it, even resort to torture and murder. Two of those unsavory characters would find their way to Justin Lazarus and demand his help in tracking the heir to the title by using his ability to talk to the dead. Justin's performance wasn't satisfactory which in turn put his life in danger. Justin had made it his mission to never depend on anyone, so when the time came he needed help, he had no one to ask for it. Except Nathaniel.

Running away from murderers brought Nathaniel and Justin to a place where they had plenty of time to spend in each other's company and to clear the air. They had time for discussions and arguments, and enough privacy to make up afterwards. It was my favorite part of the novel. With each book by KJ Charles, I'm impressed with how she handles bringing two very different characters together, and Nathaniel and Justin couldn't have been more different.

An Unnatural Vice left Justin and Nathaniel in a good place. Well, not counting the murderer that's still on the loose. The person not in a good place at all was Mark. I can't wait to read his story in An Unsuitable Heir, and finally see how this mystery unravels, but mostly to see what happens between Mark and the heir. It'll be a great conclusion to the series, I know it!

***ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

My review of the first book can be found here.

Until next time, happy reading!


Jul 10, 2017

REVIEW: Torn (Devil's Wolves #1) by Carian Cole

Buy from Amazon


He’s loved me since the day I was born.
He’s taken care of me.
He’s awakened me.

Tor. My father’s best friend.
Fifteen years older than me, he’s always been my protector.
The one I should never, ever want.
But I was born to be his.

She’s always loved me.
She’s shattered me.
She’s healed me.

Kenzi. My best friend’s daughter.
I held her the day she was born, and I never let go.
She’s forbidden to me. But she’s the only one that really gets me.
We’re slowly being torn apart by everything we love.
Everything we want.
Everything we desire.

And now I want the one thing I can’t have... I want her.

** Please note: There is no underage sex in this book. This is a romance. **


Taboo romance lovers, behold!

So, in the morning I was browsing this list ’11 taboo books you should read’ or something like that and this one was on it. By that evening, I was already reading this. Never mind that I have 100 other books to read. Taboo books are my weakness.

As Drake would say:

Anyhow, this was unexpectedly good. A lot of books try to sell themselves as taboo, but you don’t feel that forbidden factor. Here I felt it all. There is the age difference of 15 years between Tor and Kenzie, plus he’s her father’s best friend and he helped raise her. So you can see how it’s all very tricky.

I think all relationships start with an invisible line, and even though we can’t see it, we all know it’s there because we can feel it. We respect that line because it keeps the bounds of the relationship intact. The line guides us within our relationships and dictates who is our friend, who is our family, who is our lover, who is someone we can or can’t trust.

But I loved how everything was handled; there is a slow transition from family to friends to lovers. They don’t get together too fast and I love that. They struggle with their feelings and attraction towards each other.

Ah, the sexual tension, the angst, it was all so very hot and emotional.

I feel sick.
I feel twisted.
I feel unhinged with want for her.

So yeah, this book will make you uncomfortable, but if you’re like me, and like these books that dance on the edge of appropriate, you’ll like this.


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