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! 

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!

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.

Tried Some Man Love – More than Make Believe

Happy Day After Thanksgiving! The company has been CRAZY and I had to escape the food and madness with a book. Reading does burn calories, right?

After reading several reviews for The Reluctant Dom by Tymber Dalton, I had to put it on my TBR list. If you are not familiar with the writings of Tymber Dalton, I should advise that she writes a lot of alternative romance material. While I choose to read her books, these do not reflect my personal preferences. What amazes me is her ability to write an entertaining story with characters the reader comes to really care about. Characters that come from an alternative romantic scenario that might normally have me saying,  “What???” Their stories are sentimental. Having spent a significant portion growing up vacationing in Florida, I love how this is the setting for her stories. Needless to say, I have read several of her books (blush).

I recently tried reading one of her man love books, More than Make Believe. I’m not sure what turned me on to this initially because it seemed borderline too risqué for me. Travis Collins is a straight college student who finds himself in a financial bind. He’ll opts for going gay for pay and spending a weekend with experienced gay porn star Marston Cougar, who has been scorned off love. Once again, Tymber wrote a touching (and scorching) alternative romance. Both men were in financial crisis. Neither man admitted a proclivity for being gay. It was about two men forming an attachment for each other. I loved how their emotions ran together. I give this 4 Hearts.

Book Review – Trust in Me by Skye Warren

13446362I loved Prisoner and was anxious to read something else written by Skye Warren. I also happen to be a huge fan of dark erotica. Be forewarned that Trust in Me is not for the faint of heart. This is a dark read that continues to get darker as the story continues. There is violence, nonconsensual sexual relations, and human trafficking. If this disturbs you, look for something else from my list.

Mia comes from a sordid background that is unspeakable. I find it sad that she accepts her fate. She has one goal for redeeming herself yet accepts death will probably be the reward for her efforts. “This whole game was dirty, and so was I.”

This is a well written story and is engrossing. I was able to read it in one sitting. Whatever you think of it, you will not be able to put it down so do not start it if you cannot finish.

What disturbs me is that Mia meets Tyler, the hero, at 12 years old. Tyler is older than Mia and is of age for having sex, yet he forms this attachment to Mia enough to search for her 10 years later. This part I struggled the most with. Tyler is definitely not Grayson. In fact, I felt like we barely scratched the surface of getting to know him. I got upset with him in some scenes for putting Mia in dangerous situations. He just wasn’t the Grayson or Caleb that I was looking for.

In the end, I did like the writing. The story had me captivated, and it had a sufficient level of angst to keep me engrossed. I give it…

3 Stars

Book Review – Among the Echoes by Aly Martinez

Friends that know me well know that I’m a HUGE fan of romantic suspense. The description of this story appealed so much to me and I wanted to rate it higher, really. The writing was good. The story was intriguing. Unfortunately, it fell short for me on a few fronts.

This story is about Erica Hill,  a witness to a murder that is taken under the witness protection program. She catches the eye of Slate Andrews,   a professional boxer, who forms a romantic attachment to her. Be warned that the first two chapters are rather disturbing similar in effect to Lovely Bones. Do not go into the story expecting Beautiful Disaster or  Real, as you will not find any exciting, in-the-ring, scenes within this book. There are some tender moments, but I do not feel the expected connection between the heroine and hero. While the hero is typically classified as an alpha male, he ultimately seems to give into her every wish. For me, the ending was rushed and not to my satisfaction.

3 Stars

Link to Goodreads –> Among the Echoes