Book Review – Mr. Beautiful (Up in the Air #4) by R.K. Lilley

18631103R.K. Lilley is one of my favorite authors and I had the pleasure of meeting her (and I think her husband?) at a writers’ event this year. She was the most personable and gracious author that I met that day and was generous with her time.

I adore the “Up in the Air” series and I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Mr. Beautiful!  I was looking forward to hearing his side of events and it was worth the wait. What a fabulous cover! I love the camaraderie between James and Tristan. I love the passion and love between James and Bianca. This conclusion has me loving him more.

And then there is Stephan. I wish I had such a loyal and true person in my life. The relationship between Stephan and Bianca is endearing and goes straight to my heart. I could read an entire story just about them, and I appreciate that we got to see more of their past in this story. This was an unexpected surprise for me. I also find Stephan and Javier a believable and touching m/m pairing, written eloquently.

This is part of a series, which should be read in order. Otherwise, you will not have the proper context for the characters and storyline. This is sort of a collection of random thoughts from different characters at different points of the series.

5 Stars

Book Review – Prisoner (Criminals & Captives #1) by Annika Martin and Skye Warren

23303963Wow! This was a dark read, which I tend to get drawn into looking for proof of light in the darkness. This was a great read for me and one of my new favorites. Prisoner, which was recently released, has probably one of my favorite heroines in Abigail Winslow and a notorious hottie in Grayson that you can’t help but love. (Do we ever learn his last name? I tried doing a search and came up nada…)

And he’s terrible!  He comes from a deep, dark and troubled past. He holds revenge in his heart. He is guilty of forcing dubious consent and tranquilizing. Yet he does this out of his twisted idea of loving and protecting Abby; in his mind, his forced captivity of Abby will protect and bind the two of them in together in the same tight-knit fashion he shares with the men that he was abducted with. His personal brand of passiveness is evident in his statement, “F#%k it. I don’t need to be a better man. I don’t need to be more. I’m in charge here.”

Abby is a self-conscious bookworm that I can relate to. We see her break out of her shell as Grayson forces her out of it. His affection for her is seen as a threat to Grayson’s gang and she holds her own. I love the unexpected moments when her intelligence shines through and wins her respect.

This story contains violence, graphic sex and dubious consent. That being  said, this did not feel like one of the darkest dark reads that I have experienced. It does have a sort of dubious HEA that left me satisfied. I give this…

5 Stars

Book Review – Broken (Redemption #1) by Lauren Layne

21408690I blush a little when I get caught enjoying a young adult novel at my age. Yet even I can appreciate this endearing love story. Olivia Middleton is a college student who decides to take a hiatus from education to gain some life experience caring for an injured war veteran. Olivia is looking at this employment opportunity a chance to escape her problems and a to redeem herself. While her past actions are far from admirable, they were not as dreadful as I expected by the weight that she gave them. Regardless, I enjoyed watching the maturity and determination for which she approaches her new role. The following excerpt provides an insight into her personality.

Your social life is no longer dropped into your lap by virtue of shared classes and extracurricular activities. Relationships, whether with friends, family, or romantic partners—from here on out, they’re going to take a lot more work. No more built-in friends at the sorority, or hollering down the stairs when I need my mom. It’s certainly not going to be as easy to meet guys now that I’m done with school. It’s not like I can just chat up the cute guy in econ class anymore.

Paul Langdon Is challenged with being physically disfigured as a result of his injuries.  Rehabilitation feels overwhelming to overcome. We come to learn that Olivia’s primary purpose is to be on suicide watch as she is challenged with bringing him out of his depression.  He is certainly a challenging case, but little by little he starts to come alive again and to recognize the value in Olivia.

I’m not proud of myself, Olivia. Not even a little bit. Do I wish I’d never let you go? Obviously. Do I wish I’d come to my senses sooner? Of course. And maybe if it had taken me only a day or two to clear my head, then yeah, I would have called. But when you fuck up as badly as I fucked up, for that long, you don’t call. You don’t text. You don’t email. You go to your girl and beg.

This has become one of my favorites! I laughed out loud and I swooned over the touching scenes.  I appreciated each of the characters. The relationship between Olivia and Paul was heartwarming and inspirational.

5 Stars

Book Review – Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor

Squee!  This is definitely one for my Favorites shelf. It has everything a good story requires. I laughed, I cried. I was happy and sad. I couldn’t stop reading until it was over.  The story has stayed with me, and I miss the characters!

This was a truly heartwarming story. Andy and Matt both come from difficult pasts. They meet while on vacation. From the synopsis, I expected the whole story to take place on vacation and I was very happy for this story to continue beyond, when everyone returns to reality. The relationship between Matt and Abby is strongly felt. The scenes with the children are so well written I can only imagine how difficult it is to write dialogue for the little ones.

The erotic scenes are well written and steamy. However, the romance of this story is so much MORE. Matt falls so hard for Abby, the children and the whole package.

She stood and their eyes met again, this time with her fingers still clasped tightly in his. Something moved inside him, slightly painful, like parts rearranging into a better fit.

I am totally in love with Matt McKinney! While his character is described as handsome, he is so much more than external. He is humble. He is a loyal soldier, a friend and family member. He knows no fear, including becoming attached to Abby’s four young ones, and he makes an amazing step-in dad.

If you are a fan of romances, this is one not to miss. It is part of the series The McKinney Brothers but can be read as a standalone.

5 Stars

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Book Review – The Tied Man – Tabitha McGowan

OMG, where to begin? This is an intense and absorbing read, so my recommendation is not to begin reading it if you have somewhere you need to be soon.

Lilith Bresson is an accomplished artist that basically gets forced by her father to accept a commission. The buyer is the madame of an exclusive resort. This is where we meet Finn Strachan, her “companion”. Every captive at the resort has a different role to play and each has a different threat hanging over them keeping them there. This is a very dark and disturbing story, on the same scale as The Dark Duet trilogy by C. J. Roberts. There are graphic sexual scenes and violence, as well as drugs. If you find this type of story upsetting, please do not put this on your reading list as it can keep you up at night. In fact, I actually stayed up all night engrossed in the story.

Having said that, I have the ability to look past the ugly of the story and see the good of the characters. I find Finn endearing. What he goes through is indescribable and inhumane. As he says, “But at the end of the day, everything I do costs me. The only question is how much.” Whichever words or actions he chooses, he is guaranteed to be punished; it’s just a tossup to what degree and type of punishment that he receives. Somehow, he continues to find love and light through simple pleasures and through Lilith. His pride and affection prevail. He so wants to be seen beyond what he is forced to do. “I want to keep hold of just one or two poxy secrets in the car crash otherwise known as my life in the vain hope that once or twice a year I can pretend to have some bloody dignity.”

I love the main heroine, Lilith. She matures and comes into her own during the story. We see her emotional maturity and her determination. She accepts the situation that Finn finds himself in without passing judgment or excuses. Instead, she works towards a solution. She works toward bringing Finn any small amount of happiness she can, sacrificing herself.

Do not go into this looking for a heavy and erotic read. There are mostly disturbing scenes in the story than there are romantic, and yet I appreciate the relationship between them and could feel the connection.

This was an incredibly well-written story. It is a great use of the language. I look very forward to the sequel.

5 Stars

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Book Review – The Story of Us (Carnage #1) – Lesley Jones

After my nice reprieve with the Cranberry Inn series, I returned to my more intense and darker reads. I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to read Carnage #1! We all love the Thoughtless series and have been looking for that rockstar boyfriend to compete with Kellen. This one had such rave reviews that I think I was holding off for this holiday weekend to lock myself away and lose myself in a great read.

You have to experience this book yourself! Stay away from spoilers! You will laugh and you will cry.  You will be angry. This is all what pulls us in and makes a great story. I was hooked from the first words and literally could not put the book down. There is a continuation, but this can be read as a standalone. The writing is fantastic. I love the dialect used by the characters and the dynamics between family and friends. I was almost jealous and wanted to hang out with the lot of them (except for all the passing of drugs among family and friends)!

I plan to read the second book. However, I am still too emotional right now to continue on just yet.

Link to Goodreads –> The Story of Us (Carnage #1)

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Book Review – Room for Just a Little Bit More (Cranberry Inn #2.5) – Beth Ehemann

I recently took a  breather from my favored intense and dark reads to “pay the toll”  and return to the world of HEA. What a great break it was! One of my favorite romantic series is the Cranberry Inn.  In the first book we meet a single mom, named Kacie, and her twin daughters, aka “the Twinkies”. Kacie meets Brody, a professional hockey player, who becomes a guest at her mother’s inn. He forms an endearing relationship with Kacie and her girls. This novella takes through the wedding and is a beautiful and entertaining series conclusion. This is such a heartwarming and inspiring story. It will make you laugh and cry and be filled with warm fuzzes. This positive story shows how families can be “broken”and yet still work to provide the children a safe and secure family dynamic. I love that the twins are predominant supporting characters throughout the series. I especially love when Brody  exchanges marital vows with the twins and gifts them with commitment necklaces. The tissue box definitely came out for that scene.

Link to Goodreads reading order:
Room for You (Cranberry Inn #1)
Room for More (Cranberry Inn #2)
Room for Just a Little Bit More (Cranberry Inn #2.5)

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