My Review of Absolution

Absolution
Absolution

I found Absolution by Amanda Dick to be emotional and intense. This is a story about pain, guilt, moving forward, and seeking absolution. I connected with the characters. It was told well, and I appreciated seeing each character grow in emotional maturity. Ally, the heroine of the story, becomes disabled, and I FEEL her struggles and her ability to overcome them.

At times the action moved slow for me, but I never considered abandoning it. I loved the plot and I was drawn into the story. There was a sufficient amount of angst and suspense for my liking.

This is not a romance to me; the romance is really a small part. I kept waiting for the passion and heat to start, and it didn’t. I also found the characters drinking an excessive amount of coffee; there was always a pot brewing!

Overall, this was an inspirational story with strong characters. 4 Hearts

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! 

My Review of the Blackcreek Series by Riley Hart

The Blackcreek Series by Riley Hart is very heartwarming. It consists of a series of standalone stories, each one about a different gay couple. What I appreciate is that the different couples make an appearance in each book so that we continue to get a glimpse of what is happening in their lives.

18773407Collide, which is the first book, is my favorite. Noah Jameson and Cooper Bradshaw collided mid-air when they dove for the same football as pre-teens.  Life circumstances separate them for several years when Noah and his family move away with no notice. Some years later, Noah returns, and he and Cooper literally collide into each other in a humorous fashion. Only Noah admits to being gay and returning to Blackcreek after a broken relationship. Cooper, who has only had heterosexual relations, learns that he is undeniably attracted to Noah. I enjoyed their developing relationship and found it so sweet. 4 Hearts

18776706Stay is the second book in the series. Wes Jensen just lost the sister and gained custody of his niece. He is fully committed to his responsibility and has no capacity for developing a relationship with his one-night stand from Collide, Braden Roth. Braden wedges himself into their lives by becoming a regular babysitter. Braden is loyal, funny, and a constant. I enjoyed the story. Unfortunately I found the story a little too nice and uneventful. I kept waiting for some major event that never happened. 3 Hearts

I was disappointed with the lack of editing in both books. It was incredibly distracting from the story. Also, the use of “he” made it extremely difficult to which male was talking and whose point of view was being expressed. Right now, I don’t know if I feel motivated to continue the series. Maybe someday.

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!

Jacked (Tina Reber)
Jacked (Tina Reber)

A new story from Tina Reber – finally! It feels like we have been waiting forever. I am a huge fan of her Love Series, and Ryan Christensen is one of my favorite all-time book boyfriends – right up there with Christian Grey, Kellen Kyle and Gideon Cross. This is why it pains me to say that Jacked just didn’t do it for me.

Adam, a member of the auto theft task force, meets ER doctor Erin on a false arrest. Both come from personal tragedies and form an immediate bond. I really liked the storyline potential, and I thought there was good chemistry between the characters. It’s obvious that Tina Reber did the necessary police force and Shibari research to write in detail. I loved the hospital room scene towards the end!

Unfortunately, the beginning moved much too slow for me. The characters had some rather graphic thoughts about each other, yet didn’t kiss until about 29% into the story. The second half finally had all of the action and depth that I was looking for from the beginning. It seemed odd to me that Erin put her new relationship and job before dealing with a family crisis. I also don’t know if the art of Shibari added to the story or if it was thrown in as part of FSOG fashion. Lastly, I am getting a little bored with alpha males coming across like cavemen and speaking with incomplete sentences.

Jacked is part of a series about each of the Trent brothers. It can definitely be read as a standalone. I did like the lead into Jason Trent’s story Amped and plan to keep it on my TBR list, despite rating Jacked 3.5 Hearts.