Oh Griffin – What a Character!

This was an amazing read, as we have come to expect from SC Stephens. I was looking so forward to Griffin’s story and it did not disappoint. There was his usual vulgarity (which makes me laugh out loud) and his struggles as he searched for his path24299682 to enlightenment. It had me laughing and crying. It is heart-wrenching to read when a character hits rock bottom and climbs their way out, and SC Stephens writes it perfectly. I cannot begin to understand the challenge of getting into Griffin’s head and crafting how he would perceive and process events – as only how Griffin could. Then write the alternate POV of how other characters see him. I kept all my original feelings for the characters from the original trilogy – except for Matt. There is a fallout be24299682tween the cuz’s, and I felt that Matt could have been more humble in reconciling his relationship with Griffin – it wasn’t all one sided.

This is a standalone as part of a series. You will lose the context of the supporting characters if read out of order.

It is also great to hang with the D-bags again and see what happening in their lives. I truly hope this is not the end of the band. (less)

5 Hearts

Engrossed in Soraya Naomi

So if anyone still follows this blog, I apologize for being MIA. It has been a looong summer of multiple weddings. My day job had me studying for a certification examination that required my full attention. I still managed to get in some reading in between to reduce the stress. Well, maybe I added to it because I have been on a serious mafia crime boss kick! I  discovered three new authors to love!

Starting with the first author, I am on book 3 of Soraya Naomi‘s  Chicago Syndicate series and it is fantastic! The first two books “For Fallon” and “For Luca” are about… wait for it… Fallon and Luca! I feel guilty putting Luca on the BBB list because he is a BAD guy, but I find him totally captivating and I love Fallon. I find the series beautifully written. The chemistry between Luca and Fallon is heart felt, but not in the beginning – when it wasn’t supposed to be. This was definitely among my favorite mafia romances. It pulled me in immediately. It’s been awhile since I found a book that made me want to stay up late to read. Fallon and I share the same hobby of reading romance and tuning the world out.  I love the use of Italian phrases and I plan to have lasagna for dinner tomorrow to stay in the mood.

“For Luca” was an excellent conclusion to the Luca and Fallon story! I giggled, I cried and I was anxious for them. I also love the emphasis on nothing is as it seems.

“Life isn’t black and white, life isn’t even grey; it’s actually an entirely different, unidentifiable shade when you open your eyes and see past the standards that society sets.”

Take note that this does contain some rather explicit sexual and violent scenes; if you are able to look past that and appreciate the story, I highly recommend it.

This weekend I have moved on to the third book, “For Adriano”. Adriano is Luca’s best friend and Capo. I found him a strong supporting character in first two books and I look forward to reading about him and Camilla (a.k.a. Camila).

My Raving Review of Raze by Tillie Cole

23262621I loved this book! It’s very violent and lacks serious editing. If you can get past these points and you are are a fan of mafia romances, this is great!

Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill Volkov, head of New York’s Russian Bratva. Her life is is a virtual prison. She mourns the loss of her first and only love, Luka, who was murdered. Left with no other option for the future, she is destined to marry her father’s designated successor, who we absolutely come to abhor!

What I love about this story is that we come to care for Kisa. She doesn’t like the life but she accepts it, and she is still a caring person. She knows what her father is, yet she loves him. Surprising for me was that she actually helps run certain aspects. She tries to escape the reality intermittently and find some form of salvation in volunteering at her Orthodox church.

This is where she meets a homeless man, named Raze, who is in New York seeking revenge against the man who had him imprisoned in the Russian Gulag and conditioned Raze to maim, to kill and to slaughter. I love the connection between Raze and Kisa.

“Because you belong to me, Kisa… and he pointed at my eye, then his left. “You’re a part of me, remember? God put a piece of you within me so when we were born, everyone would know we matched.”

Swoon worthy, right? Especially from a trained killer. And then there is this next comment from Raze:

“I’m closing my eyes so I can feel being inside you.” He placed his hand over his heart and rasped out, “I’ve seen too many bad things with these eyes. This, I will feel in my heart.”

This has all the great elements: Russian Mafia, a strong heroine, extreme angst, as happy of an ending as Kisa’s life permits. You will have to read it and see what happens to Kisa’s monster fiancé!

5 Hearts and one of my new favorites! 

Within These WallsWithin These Walls has struck within my heart! This is an incredibly heartwarming story by J. L. Berg that I will not soon forget. Lailah Buchanan suffers from congestive heart failure. Her condition and her mother’s anxiety have literally kept her confined between home and hospital. Jude Cavanaugh suffers a devastating loss that has his path crossing with Lailah’s at the same hospital. The two find hope in each other and a bond too strong to be denied.

J. L. Berg does a great job describing Lailah’s emotional and physical confinement. To be physical challenged is to understand Lailah’s concern with her parent’s anxiety and her desire to “break free”.

My mother had been here every day, and her company meant the world to me, but the desire and need to interact with someone my own age was overwhelming. I just wanted someone who hadn’t helped me go to the bathroom or didn’t watch my every move with anxiety, afraid my next breath might land me back in the hospital…

Do you know what it’s like to be taken care of like a child when you’re a grown adult? It’s maddening.”

The type of challenges faced by Lailah are evidenced by the following:

Longevity wasn’t a guarantee for me. It was a reality I had come to terms with long ago, far younger than any person should, but it was my reality and mine alone.

Her physical limitation keeps her innocent at a level others would not understand, making a relationship with Jude an emotional challenge:

Each time he had come into my room, I’d wanted to talk to him—ask him something, anything—just to hear him speak again, but I’d never really spoken to people my age.

Her limitations, experience and prognosis have her hesitant to enter a relationship with Jude:

Even if in some alternate universe, he could possibly see me as someone more than a patient, I couldn’t go down that road—ever. My life was too stressful and emotionally turbulent to share with someone else. Asking someone to step into my world would be like asking him to sign away his own life to take care of mine. I could never do that.

In the end, she puts aside her fears and falls in love with Jude. Their relationship is strong and endearing. At every page, I was expecting a setback where Jude decided that Lailah’s prognosis was not worth the emotional investment into someone else that he might lose, and he didn’t. The strength he showed in the relationship made this a true romance for me in every sense. I wish I could find my own Jude to be on my side.

This is a standalone novel. It probably should be classified as new adult, but there are some adult situations that lead me to label it more as contemporary.

I rate this 5 Hearts!

Visiting Backstage with Trey Taylor!

The fourth installment of the Back-Up Series by A.M. Madden has finally arrived and was worth the wait! For fans of Rocker romances, this is a must-read series. I thoroughly enjoyed each book. This series has so much story to it and is up there for me with the Love series by Tina Reber.

22493119We were introduced to the mysterious bass player Trey Taylor in the first three books. Trey is such an enigma that we honestly cannot help but find ourselves attracted to him with the glimpses that we received along the way. Click the book cover to link to a great video! Between hiding behind his shades and his famous snarky comments, we just knew there was more to his story, and I thank A.M. Madden for writing Backstage just for him.

“It’s just pure fact that I’ll always have to hide my real emotions and feelings. Like Hunter will always be a f*tard and Scott will always be pale.”

I struggle how to categorize this book. There are elements of angst and suspense which I love in a story.  This is definitely not your typical rock romance where the biggest trials are the media and groupies. Backstage is rather a dark read and contains mature themes. Trey’s story is told so well! I tend to forget how young Trey is because of everything he experiences and the way he decides to things – alone. I felt every emotion that he had, and wanted to take him in and protect him. By the end of Part 1, I was feeling as lonely and in pain as he was! I am seriously fighting loneliness today with the end of this book and missing the DL band.

Backstage can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading the series in order to get the full context and the draw of the story.

What I also appreciate is that the other members of DL appear in this book. It’s nice to see what’s going on with them and to see the solidarity between bandmates continue. I also appreciate seeing how it all began and where it all went to. I understand there will be a 4.5 novella released Dec.23. I look forward to warming up by the Christmas tree to continue this entertaining series! 5 Hearts

Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn is Amazing!

I’m speechless. I think I need nine hours to digest everything that happened in Nine Minutes! Please avoid reading any spoilers because this book needs to be appreciated for the great story that it is. Readers really need to experience the ride for themselves, no pun intended. It is even difficult to write a review without giving away the best parts of the story, so just trust me to put this on your TBR list if you appreciate dark romance and can tolerate violence.

Biker stories do not catch my interest, and huge age differences can creep me out. I was hesitant to pick up this book until I read another very honest review that had me change my mind. Trust me, the age difference is one of the least shocking factors.

Jason William Talbot a.k.a. Grizz had been watching Guinevere Love Lemon a.k.a. Gin/Ginny/Gwinny/Kit since she was six years old. At age 15 he makes his move to abduct her. Grizz leads the pack and does some pretty atrocious things during the story, but outside of abducting Kit, he actually does love her and treats her good. My assumption going in, after reading summaries, was that nine minutes were all that was needed for her abduction. What this number actually means is truly shocking!

This is a well written story. It’s totally captivating. I was able to read it in half a day. While it is part of a series, this first in the series does not leave the reader hanging exactly. I do have solo many questions. What is the secret with Delia? tile some aspects to the story can be guessed at, hang on for the ending because it is AMAZING! 5 Hearts

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Wow! Finished the Hot and Steamy Take (Temptation #2)

OMG, 5 Hearts! I strongly advise reading Try and Take from the Ella Frank’s Temptation series keeping a fan nearby. I have read a few M/M stories, and this is by far my favorite. Be forewarned that it is steamy and descriptive and difficult to put down. This is a series about Logan Mitchell and Tate Morrison. Logan is a hotshot lawyer and playboy; he came off of a bad relationship determined to never get attached again and plays both sides. Tate is the new bartender at the nightclub that Logan frequents. There is an instant attraction on the part of both men. Only Tate is currently going through divorce proceedings from his wife.

In Try (Temptation #1), we see Logan’s gradual seduction of Tate. Tate tries to understand his attraction to this particular man while struggling with family values and a Catholic upbringing.

In Take (Temptation #2), we see Logan and Tate come to accept their need for each other. Their relationship deepens emotionally and intensifies sexually (if that’s possible! – just look at the awesome cover!). For me, Take was perfect. I loved the banter between Logan and Tate similar to Beautiful Bastard. I got teary eyed as they struggled to identify where and how  they were comfortable being a couple in public and among friends. I was as surprised at the reaction of Tate’s family as Tate himself was. Somehow I expected an easier transition than Logan experienced.

There is obviously a third book coming for this series. While I will be very happy to see the story continue because I find this couple entertaining, I sort of expected a cliffhanger that didn’t happen with Logan’s ex. I feel like there is more to tell there, and maybe there will be.

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