Publisher: Self-Published

Review: Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. Breene

Posted February 24, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. BreeneReviewer: Holly
Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. Breene
Series: Leveling Up #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 16, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 376
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

"Happily Ever After" wasn't supposed to come with a do-over option. But when my husband of twenty years packs up and heads for greener pastures and my son leaves for college, that's exactly what my life becomes. Do-over.

This time, though, I plan to do things differently. Age is just a number, after all, and at forty I'm ready to carve my own path. Eager for a fresh start, I make a somewhat unorthodox decision and move to a tiny town in the Sierra foothills. I'll be taking care of a centuries-old house that called to me when I was a kid. It's just temporary, I tell myself. It'll just be for a while. That is until I learn what the house really is, something I never could've imagined.

Thankfully forty isn't too old to start an adventure, because that's exactly what I do. A very dangerous adventure that will change my life forever. I have a chance to start again, and this time, I make the rules.

Magical Midlife Madness is the first book in K.F. Breene’s Leveling Up series, which is women’s fiction rather than her traditional romance. I’m not sure why I haven’t picked this series up before now. I like KF Breene’s writing and always enjoy her stories. I think this one just wasn’t on my radar until recently.

Jacinta recently turned 40 and her whole life changed. Her son went away to college and her husband asked for a divorce – something she felt only relief about. She ends up moving in with her parents, but a single day there makes her realize that isn’t going to work. Lucky for her, her best friend’s aunt is looking for a caretaker for the family mansion, Ivy House. Everyone else finds it creepy and weird, but the one time Jacinta visited as a child she fell in love with it.

Now she’s surrounded by grumpy old people – the strange butler, gardener, and ancient neighbor who can drink her under the table – and trying to deal with some strange goings-on in the town and the house. Most shocking of all? Jacinta learns the house is actually magical and so are the townsfolk..and the house has chosen her as its new Mistress. She’ll have to decide if she’s willing to accept the house’s magic, or if it’s all too much for her.

“I am not going to call you by your full name, I’ll tell you that right now. The lot of you are crazy. I’m not climbing aboard that train.”

“And yet, you just debated on the merits of slitting a perfect stranger from neck to navel versus navel to neck, and decided on stabbing and ripping any way you chose.”

“Yeah. That’s just logic.”

It started a bit slow, but about 1/4 of the way through it picked up. I was really cracking up at some of the antics of Jessie (Jacinta). She was a strong woman who had fully accepted where she was at in her life and I loved that. I also loved how she managed her new life. She accepted that she wasn’t perfect and made mistakes, but she was comfortable with where she was now. She also wasn’t afraid to speak her mind or call out others when needed. I really enjoyed the mature conversations she had with Austin Steele, the undeclared alpha. She makes him think, and he does the same for her. I appreciated that.

“I hear you,” he said softly. “I never put stock in any of that—the taunting about being ladies—but I didn’t see the bigger picture, either. Just like earlier tonight—no one has ever spelled out the dangers women face when a man asserts himself as I did. That blindsided me. So much of tonight has blindsided me. In my life, when it comes to this, I feel like I’ve been…blindfolded in a way. Not blind, because if I would’ve looked, I would’ve seen, but…” He shook his head. “I’m gobsmacked. Thank you. I’ll be more conscious of this going forward.”

There isn’t a romance in this book, which worked well for where Jessie is at in her life. She needs time to figure out other things, and I liked that Breene is giving us that. There could be something here for later books, but right now friendship is at the forefront.

I did think it got a little preachy for a minute with the whole ‘love yourself as you are’ and ‘middle-age is okay’ stuff. I don’t disagree with the sentiment at all, and in fact, love the message, but it came across a little heavy-handed at times. Not so much that I didn’t enjoy the book, but just enough that I noticed it.

“Raise your voice until you are heard. Look however you want, be whoever you want, and demand people pay attention to you. Stop taking what you’re given, and demand the space in life you want.”

If you’re looking for a fun read full of humor, with mature characters who are figuring out the next stage of their lives amidst unforeseen craziness, I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Leveling Up

four-stars


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Review: Lucky Stars by Kristen Ashley

Posted February 19, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Lucky Stars by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Lucky Stars by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #5
Also in this series: Fairytale Come Alive, Sommersgate House, Lacybourne Manor, Penmort Castle
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 20, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 520
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

This is an alternate cover edition for ASIN B008DDW4OQ

Belle Abbot is pathologically shy and because of this, she’s living a nightmare due to the fact that she’s also a national treasure hounded by the media. James Bennett is known the world over as the perfect catch, handsome, wealthy and the owner of an intimidating castle on a Cornish Cliff, Chy An Als Point.

Belle and James meet and in one night, they fall in love. The problem is, Belle’s dating James’s brother.

As quickly as they fall together, Belle and James are torn apart. Not long after, circumstances throw them back into each other’s lives and they find they were right that first romantic night, they were meant to be.

Even if their families want them together, James’s brother Miles does not. Dogged by a rabid media who are fascinated by their love triangle, as well as Belle’s hidden demons, James and Belle find they have yet another problem to solve. The Point is haunted by the ghosts of two children murdered in the castle. Their murderer will stop at nothing to keep their souls tethered to The Point instead of letting them live eternity with their mother and father.

Belle is determined to find her courage and help them and she enlists her loopy mother, loopier grandmother, James’s even loopier ex-girlfriend and the dubious (but talented) team of rock ‘n’ roll witch Cassandra McNabb and Scottish ghost hunter extraordinaire Angus McPherson to help the children find their way back home.

James “Jack” Bennett has always known his brother, Miles, has an unhealthy obsession with one-upping him. It’s something that has been going on since they were kids. When Jack and Belle first meet, Belle is seeing Miles. She knows it won’t work with Miles, but before she can do anything about it, she meets Jack. After one night together the two fall in love. They make plans. Then Belle overhears something about Jack trying to get one on Miles by sleeping with her. Belle is devastated and doesn’t give Jack time to explain.

Fast forward a few months…Belle is pregnant but insistent that she doesn’t want anything to do with Jack. Belle’s mother and grandmother take matters into their own hands and go to Jack’s office to tell him. Jack doesn’t want anything to do with Belle nor is he sure that the child she is carrying is his. He’s quickly disabused of that line of thinking. It seems that now he has a second chance with the woman that he hasn’t been able to forget. He moves Belle into his home, on Cornish Cliff, determined to make things right.

Belle is leery of Jack’s intentions, though it doesn’t take long for her to soften up. When she realizes what a horrible mistake she made by not believing Jack, she’s not sure she can make it right. She’s determined to try. Enter the ghosts. The ghost part of the book was, er, interesting. Each book in this series took the ghost angle a little further than the prior book. I really enjoyed all the twists and turns in this book. I really find the heroes in this series heroes of the “old”. Meaning that they are more alpha, less apologetic for what they want. Just more everything.

This is the fifth and final book in the series. I have to say that it doesn’t make me happy knowing that. There was a cliffhanger at the end of the book and KA has no intention of writing the story. So fucked up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ghosts and Reincarnation

four-stars


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Review: Penmort Castle by Kristen Ashley

Posted February 12, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Penmort Castle by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Penmort Castle by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #3
Also in this series: Fairytale Come Alive, Sommersgate House, Lacybourne Manor, Lucky Stars
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 2, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Gifted
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 485
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Cash Fraser is planning revenge and to get it he needs the perfect woman. So he hires her. Abigail Butler has lost nearly everything in her life and she's about to lose the home she loves.

Cash meets Abby, who's posing as a paid escort, and the minute he does he knows he's willing to pay for more than Abby being his pretend girlfriend. A lot more. Abby needs the money or the last thing that links her to her dead family and husband will be gone. The deal is struck. But both Cash and Abby get more than they bargained for.

Cash realizes very quickly that Abby isn't what she seems. And while he changes strategies, Abby finds out that Cash's legacy, Penmort Castle, is like all the tales say-very, very haunted. Making matters worse, the ghost in residence wants her dead.

Abby's found herself in the battle of her life (literally) so she enlists Mrs. Truman, her nosy neighbor, Jenny, her no-nonsense friend, Cassandra McNabb, white witch and clairvoyant with a penchant for wearing scarves (and lots of them) and Angus McPherson, dyed-in-the-wool Scot (which means he hunts ghosts in a kilt) to fight the vicious ghost who has vowed that she will rest at nothing to kill the true, abiding love of the master of Penmort.

Cash Fraser needs a woman. Abigail Butler needs money. When the two meet, Cash knows instantly that Abby is not what she seems. She tries to act like an escort but Cash knows that she’s anything but. What he does know is that she’s desperate. Desperation is what brought Abby to Cash and he’s going to take advantage of every minute of it. Cash needs a fake girlfriend so he can get his uncle out of Penmort Castle, his family’s ancestral home. The problem is that Cash wants his relationship with Abby to be anything but pretend.

Abby has lost everything. She lost her parents, she lost her husband, then she lost her grandmother. The only thing she has left is the house that has been in her family for generations. Unfortunately for Abby the place is falling down around her. It’s a big house that needs a lot of work. Problem is she doesn’t have the money. She and her friend Jenny come up with a scheme; she will pose as an escort and play Cash’s fake girlfriend so she can get the money that she needs. She doesn’t expect the sheer magnetism that is Cash Fraser. Abby is sure she is in over her head, but she continues on with her plan.

When Abby accompanies Cash to Penmort Castle, she knows the rumors are true; the castle is very haunted and not by a happy ghost. This one is furious and is able to physically hurt anyone she wants. And who she wants to hurt is Abby for daring to try to take away the man she loves. Never mind that she killed the man she loved and this is his ancestor. Abby is soon fighting for her life. She has the wackiest team, but who she really wants on her team is Cash.

Cash knows that the idea of ghosts is ludicrous, yet he’s unable to discount Abby’s fears especially when she shows him how many women have died at Penmort. Before long he has a witch, a ghost hunter, Abby’s best friend, and her crazy neighbor. As unbelievable as it seems, Cash is all in and he’ll do anything to protect Abby.

After reading the first two books in this series, I was super excited to read this one. It seems as each book gets a little more of a ghost aspect to it. I was really enjoying this book. A lot. Then Cassandra (the witch) and her coven calls Ben (Abby’s dead husband) back from whatever plane he’s on to help. Abby is still devastated by Ben’s death though being with Cash has started the healing process. Cash gets jealous of a ghost. I’m not really sure how I feel about that but I was pretty annoyed at the time. It just took the story a little too far.

I really enjoyed the secondary characters though Jenny was a bit odd. Other than that and the excessive ghost weirdness, I thought this was a well-written story.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ghosts and Reincarnation

four-stars


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Review: Wraith by Renee Rocco

Posted February 1, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Wraith by Renee RoccoReviewer: Casee
Wraith by Renee Rocco
Series: Masters of Mayhem #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 22, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Dystopian, Contemporary Romance
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

It's a new world order—where the villains have become the heroes.

ERIC ‘WRAITH’ SHAWOnce upon a time… Yeah, no. Let’s stop right here. My life isn’t a fairytale. I'm not Prince Charming. And I haven't forgotten the day Jamie Ellis left town in handcuffs. But that feels like lifetimes ago. My high school crush is all grown up and she’s married to the man holding me prisoner. Drugged and tortured, I've become a monster who’ll stop at nothing to rip David Crane’s world apart.

JAMIE ELLISWhen I left Mayhem at sixteen, my heart stayed behind with the beautiful delinquent I’ve loved since kindergarten. But I'm a product of a life gone wrong, and I married David hoping for a better future. Now that I know the depth of my husband's depravity, I’ll risk everything to ruin his carefully crafted empire, because if Wraith and I want our happily ever after, we’re going to have to fight for it...

Wraith is a complete standalone in the Masters of Mayhem series.

When Eric Shaw was young, he loved Jamie Ellis. Jamie was younger than him, but he was still drawn to her. When Eric realizes how badly Jamie’s dad is abusing her, he makes plans to leave Mayhem as soon as Jamie turns eighteen. The day he decides he’s taking Jamie and leaving, she is arrested for murdering her father. She was acquitted, but she never returned to Mayhem. Eric looked for her for years without luck. Now Eric is Wraith, an enforcer for the Unholy. Wraith is a remarkable MMA fighter which catches the attention of David Crane. David kidnaps fighters off the streets, holds them captive and makes them fight each other for their very lives. They’re prisoners that can’t escape. Wraith knows that his friends are looking for him, he just has to hold on. He gets the shock of his life when he finds out Jamie Ellis is now Jamie Crane. The wife of the very man that he has sworn to kill.

Jamie Ellis has never forgotten the boy she loved since she was a child. She was sixteen when you was acquitted for her father’s murder. She didn’t think Wraith would remember or care if she went back to Mayhem, so she didn’t. After traveling around, Jamie found herself homeless and starving. David Crane rescued her from certain death, though Jamie had no idea at the time that David was a monster of the worst order. She has planned her escape, but when she finds out David is holding an Unholy prisoner, she knows that she can’t leave him. She doesn’t know who it is, but she does know that she won’t leave someone from Mayhem in David’s prison.

When Jamie and Wraith reunite, it’s as if no time has passed. Wraith is furious when he learns that Jamie married David Crane, but he soon comes to realize that she married him out of desperation. It doesn’t matter to Wraith one way or another; he’s going to kill David and make Jamie a widow. Though the two escape Gomorrah, they both know that it doesn’t end with that. The only way it will end is when David is dead. Something both Jamie and Wraith agree on.

I was hooked when I read this book. I’m a sucker for dystopian romances and this was exactly that. The captivity and the torture was so intense that I could feel Wraith’s pain radiating off the pages. I was pulled in immediately and read this book in a few days. If you like dystopian contemporaries, this book is definitely for you. The next book in the series comes out in July and I, for one, cannot wait.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Masters of Mayhem

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Wraith by Renee Rocco

Posted January 31, 2021 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Wraith by Renee RoccoWraith by Renee Rocco
Series: Masters of Mayhem #1
Also in this series: Wraith
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: Novemer 22, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

It's a new world order—where the villains have become the heroes.

ERIC ‘WRAITH’ SHAWOnce upon a time… Yeah, no. Let’s stop right here. My life isn’t a fairytale. I'm not Prince Charming. And I haven't forgotten the day Jamie Ellis left town in handcuffs. But that feels like lifetimes ago. My high school crush is all grown up and she’s married to the man holding me prisoner. Drugged and tortured, I've become a monster who’ll stop at nothing to rip David Crane’s world apart.

JAMIE ELLISWhen I left Mayhem at sixteen, my heart stayed behind with the beautiful delinquent I’ve loved since kindergarten. But I'm a product of a life gone wrong, and I married David hoping for a better future. Now that I know the depth of my husband's depravity, I’ll risk everything to ruin his carefully crafted empire, because if Wraith and I want our happily ever after, we’re going to have to fight for it...

Wraith is a complete standalone in the Masters of Mayhem series.

Excerpt

The day I turned eighteen, the Unholy baptized me in blood, and I was reborn as Wraith. Hearing the name Eric on Jamie Ellis’s lips is both a benediction and a blasphemy. Spoken in a place that’s an endless nightmare, where I’ve become more monster than man.

She’s a fantasy come to life, pulled from a corner of my mind reserved only for her.

It’d be too easy to find out if her mouth still tastes of apples.

Do it, the devil taunts.

Unfortunately for us, we’re in hell, and there’s no angel to counter the evil perched on my shoulder. Its incessant voice is a buzz in my brain, reminding me how Jamie left me hanging for eight goddamn years like I was nothing. Not even an afterthought. There’s no one to stop me from lifting her skirt, ripping off her panties, and sliding into her. Nothing to prevent me from stealing one moment of pleasure in this world of pain and misery.

Nothing but my conscience.

“You’re crushing me.”

Jamie’s breathy whisper sounds too intimate with her under me. My body throbs in empty anticipation of what I can’t have. Of what’s never been mine to take.

“No, I’m not.”

But I climb off her anyway. I may be a monster, but I’m not a rapist.

Disheveled, Jamie sits up and adjusts her skirt. Tendrils of hair came loose from its knot, and yet, that thing is still wound so tight it’s giving me a headache. She sweeps away those stray hairs and sits there, a portrait of tousled dignity.

She owes me a shitload of answers.

I start with the most crucial question. “What the hell are you doing here?”

In this twisted kingdom. In this cell. With me. Out of nowhere, like a fantasy pulled from a fever dream.

To Jamie’s credit, she cringes. “It’s complicated.”

I gesture around the cell. “Seriously?”

She crisscrosses her legs, the position childlike, her spine achingly rigid. “It goes back to what happened after the acquittal.”

“Since I’m not letting you rape me, we got nothing but time, sweetheart, so you better start talking.”

Masters of Mayhem

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: January 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!


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