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).

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!

18697821Katy Evans did it again! Ripped (Real #5) was released this month. I always feel a bit embarrassed at my age to admit that I enjoy this new adult series, but it is just sooo good (although maybe too erotic for YA…?). Honestly, I find the whole Real series entertaining. I love this click of girlfriends and their men.

While being part of a series, Ripped can be read as a standalone. If you want the full context of the characters and their friends, I would recommend reading the stories in order but it is not necessary.

Ripped is a second chance romance between Pandora and her rockstar boyfriend MacKenna. Pandora is Brooke’s gothic friend who was introduced in the first three books. We know nothing about MacKenna before this except that he broke Pandora’s heart. Circumstances bring them together six years later under a scenario I found humorous. It certainty helps to remember what being young felt like and acting impulsively. It also befitted Pandora would be in love with a rockstar that wears colored Mohawks in concert. They make a perfect couple and I could feel their connection.

This had several elements that I enjoy in a book. It made me laugh and cry. I love a sassy heroine. Any amount of angst works for me, and the ending made me CRY! 4 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

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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Some more man love (blush) – Touch Me: An Erotic Romance by Chris Scully

I have no recollection of how this book came to be on my TBR list. Touch Me: An Erotic Romance by Chris Scully is rather steamy as the 23171277genre implies. I loved the concept and wished it was longer! Massage therapist Erik Morgan offers a very special after-hours service to a handful of select clients. Because of the length of the novel, we only meet two of his clients, and I craved more. Erik helps his clients work through intimacy concerns. The story of stroke victim Allen is heart wrenching and real. The sessions are graphic but the intent behind them got to me, especially the fact that Erik’s compassion is derived from his personal situation with his partner who has ALS. I want to give this 5 Hearts and I can’t because I selfishly would have liked one more client, and I don’t think Erik should have kissed clients on the mouth to keep sessions professional. I give this 4 Hearts.

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