Series: Between Breaths

Review: Two of Hearts by Christina Lee

Posted May 15, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Two of Hearts by Christina LeeReviewer: Holly
Two of Hearts by Christina Lee
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: May 5th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Native American & Aboriginal
Pages: 288
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

From the author of the Between Breaths novels comes a gripping romance about finding yourself while taking a second chance at your first love…
Dakota Nakos was always the resilient, strong-willed achiever. But when her father dies and she’s entrusted with the family’s casino, she feels vulnerable, scared, and more than a little emotional —not exactly the best time to see an old lover she’s never really gotten over.
Dakota once meant the world to Shane Garrity. Then suddenly he left town to train as a U.S. Marshal, and their love for each other crashed into a memory. Now he’s come home for her father’s funeral, and one look at the girl he left behind stirs up both memories and regrets, and reignites a fire he feared he’d lost forever.
Dakota may be the same driven girl she always was, but she’s also changed in ways neither could have anticipated. She’s not just a young woman searching for own identity in the Native American community in which she was raised, but one questioning her new life outside her father’s shadow. Above all she wonders if Shane can push past her weakened defenses to rekindle what they once had, or whether the intense blaze between them will ultimately reduce her heart to ashes.

I really thought I’d love this book. I was really curious about Dakota and Shane after Whisper to Me. That they’re all grown up was just icing on the cake.

Shane and Dakota have known each other their whole lives. Shane is best friends with Dakota’s older brother Kai. For years they ignored their deeper feelings for one another until one summer during college they had a fling. When Shane signed up for the US Marshals, Dakota suggested they go their separate ways and he agreed, though neither really wanted to part.

Five years later, Dakota’s father was killed in a senseless mugging and Shane returns home to attend the funeral. He’s close to burnout and ready for a break anyway, so when the manager of the casino Dakota owns/runs asks him to look into some things, he’s quick to agree. Especially since his feelings for Dakota have never gone away. He’s definitely interested in seeing where things go between them, and getting to the bottom of the strange tensions in the casino.

Dakota is deaing with her grief over the senseless death of her father, the stress of taking over the daily operations of the casino and the tribal politics involved with Dakota and her mother, who isn’t Native American, taking over. The last thing she needs is to get tangled up with Shane again. He was too quick to leave last time and she doesn’t plan to go anywhere. Why get wrapped up in him again when his job takes him all over and she’s got deep roots right where she is?

Unfortunately it didn’t work as well as I thought it was going to. Part of it is personal preference. I struggled to get into the story, which focuses a lot on Native American culture. Since that isn’t something I’m familiar with, I didn’t understand a lot of the customs and the struggles didn’t really speak to me. Since the struggles are a main part of the overall story arc, I didn’t really engage with the story. Add to that my frustration with Dakota’s hot and cold attitude, and mostly the book was either frustrating it annoying. I actually cursed out loud at it a couple times. She was all in one minute and then pushed Shane away the next. She was quick to claim to need nothing and no one, but acted clingy and needy more often than not.

I liked Shane and Dakota’s family, both by blood and from her casino. I also liked Dakota when she forgot to let her insecurities rule her life. I believed in the romance, but I wish they’d communicated better and sooner.

Shane’s protectiveness of Dakota and his refusal to let her get away with pushing him away are what really saved the book for me. When I’d get really angry at her for being so flighty, Shane would voice my concerns exactly and reign her back in. I liked the glimpses of Kai and Rachael, too.

While this isn’t my favorite novel from Lee, it’s well written and the cultural issues were interesting.

3 out of 5

three-stars

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Guest Review: There You Stand by Christina Lee

Posted April 27, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: There You Stand by Christina LeeReviewer: Tracy
There You Stand by Christina Lee
Series: Between Breaths #5
Also in this series: All of You, Before You Break, Whisper to Me, Whisper to Me, Promise Me This, Promise Me This, Two of Hearts
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: April 21st 2015
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, m/m
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

From the author of All of You and Before You Break comes a new Between Breaths romance about the silent, inked up skateboarder and the tattoo artist who unravels him piece by piece…

Tattoo artist Cory Easton has worked long enough at Raw Ink to know, just by looking at a dude, what his body art reveals, what makes him tick, what even makes him scared. Until he meets the quiet and remote Jude York—so unreadable, so unreachable, and so unlike anyone else, he can’t help but arouse Cory’s curiosity.

As captivating and complex as his ink, Jude is a mystery—and Cory’s falling fast and hard under his spell. Against his better judgment to steer clear.

The rumors of Jude’s past overshadow him—whispers of prison and an unmentionable secret that’s kept him in the protective shadows of a local motorcycle club. As Cory probes deeper, he wonders how much he really wants to know. Especially since Jude has awakened something inside him that has been buried too long—and has him feeling completely alive for the first time in forever…

Tracy’s review of There You Stand (Between Breaths #5) by Christina Lee

Cory Easton is more than a bit infatuated with Jude York. Cory tends to walk his dog in the park so that he can watch Jude riding his skateboard. Unfortunately every time he talks to Jude, Cory finds himself tripping over his words – and Jude says little to nothing, giving Cory the impression that he doesn’t like Cory at all. Cory isn’t sure if Jude is gay so he’s also unsure as to whether he should try to make a move or not.

Jude ends up making an appointment with Cory to get a tattoo done on his back. When he disrobes Cory sees the horrible scars that are on his back that the tattoo will cover. This brings up even more questions but again, Jude is being the strong, silent type. Cory manages to break the tension with some yes/no questions and this gets Jude’s mouth moving.

Eventually Jude and Cory start to converse on more than a one syllable level and Cory discovers that Jude likes Cory as well. The problem is that there are still so many secrets surrounding Jude that Cory’s not sure he should get involved. Jude has some sort or relationship with the local MC and Cory doesn’t want to get involved in that. Jude, however, proves to be worth whatever trouble comes Cory’s way.

This was a pretty intense romance between Jude and Cory. We didn’t know much about Jude at first and as more information filtered in I wasn’t exactly sure that Cory should get involved with him. Jude proved that he was worth the trouble and Cory stuck by him even when Jude’s life went a bit haywire.

The relationship between the two men was pretty stilted at first and even throughout most of the first part of the book. I would have liked that part to have gone a little quicker but the continued sexual tension between the two men truly made it all worth it when they finally got together. They were a very hot, sweet couple and I really enjoyed reading about them.

If you’ve been reading the Between Breaths series then I don’t think you should miss this one. If you haven’t (then why not!?) then this will read as a great m/m standalone as well.

Rating: 4 out of 5

This title is available from InterMix. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars

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Review: Promise Me This by Christina Lee

Posted November 25, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Promise Me This by Christina LeeReviewer: Holly
Promise Me This by Christina Lee
Series: Between Breaths #4
Also in this series: All of You, Before You Break, Whisper to Me, Whisper to Me, Promise Me This, There You Stand, Two of Hearts
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: October 7th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, General, Contemporary
Pages: 238
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A new love will test the boundaries of passion between a privileged boy next door and the tattooed, blue-haired girl who helps him embrace his wild side...
Nate has developed quite a playboy reputation around campus. It's not that he doesn't respect or trust women; he doesn't trust himself. The men in Nate’s family are prone to abusive behavior—a dirty secret that Nate’s been running from his entire life—so Nate doesn't do relationships. But he can’t help himself around one girl…
Jessie is strong, independent, and works at a tattoo parlor. Nate can’t resist getting close to her, even if it’s strictly a friendship. But it doesn't take long for Nate to admit that what he wants with Jessie is more than just friendly.
With Jessie, he can be himself and explore what he’s always felt was a terrifying darkness inside him. Even when Nate begins to crave her in a way that both shocks and horrifies him, Jessie still wants to know every part of him. Testing their boundaries together will take a trust that could render them inseparable… or tear them apart.
INCLUDES A PREVIEW OF TWO OF HEARTS.
Raves for Christina Lee’s Between Breaths series:
“This is one New Adult you don’t want to miss.” —New York Times and USA Today bestselling author A. L. Jackson
“Hot, sweet, emotional, page-turner, awesome.”—New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy
“Steamy, honest, and full of heart.” —Roni Loren, national bestselling author Christina Lee lives in the Midwest with her husband and son. She is the author of The Between Breaths Series, including All of You and Before You Break. She also owns her own jewelry business, called Tags-n-Stones, where she hand-stamps meaningful words or letters onto silver for her customers.

Nate and Jessie were first introduced in All of Me, book 1 in this series. I remember being intrigued by them then, but I had no idea I’d love them so much. Jessie is bold, daring and not afraid to take what she wants. Nate is steady, strong and a little bit wild. And definitely in need of someone like Jessie to bring out his bad boy side. 

Because of the way he grew up, Nate fears some of the darker urges he has. Specifically the kind he fantasizes about doing in the bedroom. Outwardly he and Jessie are complete opposites. She’s dark and grungy, with tattoos and an attitude that defies anyone to question her choices. Nate admires her and is attracted to her. He’s afraid of some of the things he wants to do to her. Until Jessie admits, during a silly, drunken game, that she’s been spanked during sex before. Then Nate begins to wonder if his urges aren’t all that bad after all.

Nate is a clean-cut, preppy type. The complete opposite of what Jessie normally goes for. But when she walks in on him getting it on in a public restroom, her opinion begins to change. Instead of the straight-laced jokster, she begins to see the intensity he hides. When he offers to help her with a photography project and they end up spending time alone in a hotel room, she realizes Nate has dark fantasies, one she’s willing to explore. If only he would let her. Instead he’s afraid of hurting her. Afraid of becoming what he grew up with. She’s determined to show him that she’s not only ready, but willing to take everything he wants to give her.

Though they’re outwardly opposites, Jessie and Nate actually have a lot in common. I really love how they connected to and brought out the best in each other.  Especially as it pertains to Nate’s childhood and the way he deals with the anger and shame he feels. Jessie really helped him open up and deal, even going so far as to help him find a counselor. His sexual awakening was especially interesting because it’s usually the woman who has problems dealing with her urges. I liked the way Lee explored the consequences of his childhood as they related to his current sexual practices.

Jessie was a great heroine. She was tough and independent, but also very caring and perceptive.  She isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, but she is cautious about starting something with Nate, since he seems so different than her usual type. Not to mention she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship. Speaking of, I like how tight their friendship was, and how much closer they became over the course of the novel. It wasn’t hard to buy into their romance, considering how much they opened to one another.

The story is sexy, intense and the best kind of dirty.  I was fully immersed and wasn’t ready for it to end.  I wanted to make Nate my own.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Guest Review (+ Giveaway): Promise Me This by Christina Lee

Posted October 6, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review (+ Giveaway): Promise Me This by Christina LeeReviewer: Tracy
Promise Me This by Christina Lee
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: October 7th 2014
Genres: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Nate has developed quite a playboy reputation around campus. It's not that he doesn't respect or trust women; he doesn't trust himself. The men in Nate’s family are prone to abusive behavior—a dirty secret that Nate’s been running from his entire life—so Nate doesn't do relationships. But he can’t help himself around one girl…

Jessie is strong, independent, and works at a tattoo parlor. Nate can’t resist getting close to her, even if it’s strictly a friendship. But it doesn't take long for Nate to admit that what he wants with Jessie is more than just friendly.

With Jessie, he can be himself and explore what he’s always felt was a terrifying darkness inside him. Even when Nate begins to crave her in a way that both shocks and horrifies him, Jessie still wants to know every part of him. Testing their boundaries together will take a trust that could render them inseparable… or tear them apart.

 

Tracy’s review of Promise Me This (Between Breaths #4) by Christina Lee

Nate is kind of a manwhore – at least he’s got that reputation. He gets it because though he does have sex with women he’s never with the same woman twice. He just doesn’t do relationships. The reason for that is that he’s scared that he’s going to be like his father – abusive. Nate has this desire that wants to control a woman in bed but he fears that if he lets that out that he’ll be like his father and it will seep into the crevices of the rest of his life and next thing you know he’ll be beating on a woman. He’s so afraid of this that he can’t really take too much enjoyment from his hookups. He’s incredibly attracted to his friend Jessie but he knows he’s not good enough for her and that he can’t let anything happen between them.

Jessie is a girl who goes to college and works at a tattoo parlor to make ends meet. She only takes a couple of classes at a time due to money issues but she loves what she’s doing. She’s currently taking a photography class and she loves it. Her father was a photographer and she would love to make him proud of her work. Nate gives her a project idea for her photography class and agrees to go with her on the photo shoot. They spend the day in the town Nate grew up in. It’s emotionally charged for Nate and Jessie picks up on that – trying to be supportive as possible without really knowing the back story. They have a great time getting pictures of covered bridges but then Jessie’s tire needs fixing and they end up having to spend the night in a hotel.

Nate is nothing like the men that Jessie normally dates – physically but the attraction that the two feel for each other is explosive and finally they can’t hold themselves back any longer. They have sex and it’s incredible for both of them. Unfortunately Nate is dealing with his inner demons and knows he can’t get involved with Jessie. The fact that he even wants to blows his mind.

Many things happen with Jessie and Nate as well as with Nate and his family. Nate has to come to terms with himself and who he is before he can be with Jessie but he knows that he can’t lead her on.

This story was so much more than I ever expected. Two friends coming from two completely different worlds is intriguing but can it work? Nate and Jessie proved to me that it absolutely can.

First there’s the lust and desire. Christina Lee brings a whole new meaning to the word intense. I was hot under the collar when the couple wasn’t even touching! I really loved how they could say so much to each other with just a look. Loved. It.

Nate, that poor guy, was so conflicted. His father had been beating his mother for years. It broke my heart to read about his turmoil as his father was such an ass and treated his mother so badly. Nate was so afraid to be like his father that he wouldn’t let his true self come out. He wasn’t sure who his true self really was. With Jessie’s help he finally gets the courage to talk to someone about his issues and it makes him to be a better, stronger man. He could then help not only himself but his mother as well, eventually.

Jessie was amazing. She was a strong, intelligent, independent woman who could still be submissive to a man in bed. Out of bed she wouldn’t take shit from anyone and I adored that about her. Her understanding of Nate went so very deep that it was like they were two halves of a whole and it made for some incredible scenes in the book.

This is a sometimes sad yet touching and wonderful story that’s hot and sexy as well. It made me smile and cry all within the span of a couple hundred pages. If you’re looking for an intense yet incredible book – this is it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Giveaway Alert: 10 lucky winners will receive books 1 and 2, All of You and Before You Break. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This title is available from InterMix. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

four-half-stars

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Review: Whisper to Me by Christina Lee

Posted May 23, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Whisper to Me by Christina LeeReviewer: Tracy
Whisper to Me by Christina Lee
Series: Between Breaths #3
Also in this series: All of You, Before You Break, Whisper to Me, Promise Me This, Promise Me This, There You Stand, Two of Hearts
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: May 20th 2014
Genres: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

At college, Rachel has a reputation for being a sarcastic flirt with a thing for star athletes. No one at school knows that she’d had her heart ripped to shreds by her high school sweetheart, who’d driven them both off the side of the road on a borrowed motorcycle, and then abandoned her. No one knows the real Rachel Mattson—except one person…

Ever since he helped nurse his sister’s feisty best friend back to health, pierced bass player Kai Nakos has been head over heels in love. But the supposed bad boy can’t risk letting Rachel know the truth—especially now that the two of them are back in their hometown for the summer, together for the first time since the months following that fateful night. Never mind that Rachel’s ex is back, groveling for her forgiveness.

Shaken by her ex’s return, Rachel finds herself turning to the one guy she knows she can trust. Kai is willing to hide his feelings for her, just to have Rachel touch him again. After all, this is only a temporary fling.

Until it becomes something more.But maybe it had been more all along...

When Rachel was in high school she was in a motorcycle accident with her boyfriend Miles. While Miles came away with a few bumps and scrapes Rachel ended up with a traumatic brain injury. It took her many months in rehab to be completely functional again. When she was back on her feet she headed off to college and hasn’t been home often since then. She’s soon to be a Senior and not really happy about being home for the summer but her mother needs Rachel’s help moving her business to a different location. She’s staying the summer with her best friend Dakota not knowing when she made the plans that Dakota’s brother, Kai, would be in residence as well.

Kai is a young man who is in flux. He is a musician who has been studying music theory in Amsterdam as well as working at a recording studio. An incident and misunderstanding at the recording studio causes issues and that means he’s now back home for the summer. He’s staying with his sister as he works for his family’s casino. Kai is thrilled to see Rachel home. Since he was by her side, as her friend, for the majority of her rehab he came to know her better and eventually fell completely in love with her. He’s never said anything to her or to anyone about it and has tried not to show his feelings. During an emotional moment Rachel and Kai kiss and go a bit farther. Kai is thrilled but doesn’t want to scare Rachel off. He tells her he’s there for her whenever she needs a shoulder to cry on. She takes him up on his offer.Rachel and Kai start spending their nights together doing wonderfully erotic things but not actually going all the way. They get closer and closer emotionally and their chemistry is off the charts.  Neither knows how the other is feeling and they’re both afraid to mess up their friendship. In this case having a close friendship might actually count in the con column rather than the pro column.Where to begin with telling you how much I liked this story?? There were so many things to like I’m not sure where to start.

Kai – he is wonderful. He’s got it goin’ on in the looks department, that’s for sure. He’s half Dutch, half Native American and has piercings in awesome places. How could I not lust after this guy? Lol As sweet and kind as Kai could be – and he really could be – he was a dirty talker in bed and that just made his times with Rachel that much more incredible. He’s smart, fun, funny, loves his family and would do anything for Rachel. Completely sigh worthy in my book.

Rachel is gorgeous and a really good person who’s made some bad decisions in her life. After the accident she was thought of in town as the girl with the brain injury – she hated it. Going off to college she could remake herself into anyone she wanted and she did. She was the party girl who got attached to no one. Unfortunately her worlds collided which caused a bit of strife with all of her friends. She was a bit of a lost soul and Kai helped her find her way.

The friends to lovers story that Lee gave us was really pretty outstanding, I must say. The writing, the story, the secondary characters that all played a role in the romance, the hero and heroine…everything was damned near perfect. The angst in this one was pretty low, which I loved and it made the book that much better.

This has been a wonderful series so far and this was a perfect addition.  It’s one book I’ll definitely be recommending to my friends – if they haven’t read it already – that’s for sure.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Christina Lee

four-half-stars

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