Tag: 3.25 Reviews

Review: Hold On by Kristen Ashley

Posted October 2, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Hold On by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Hold On by Kristen Ashley
Series: The 'Burg #6

Publication Date: September 1st 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 378
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 Since she was young, Cher Rivers knew she was not the kind of girl who got what she wanted. A girl who could hope. A girl who could dream. She knew a happily ever after just wasn't in the cards for her.
 In love for years with the last bastion of the 'burg's eligible bachelors, Garrett Merrick, Cher worked hard at making him laugh. Being one of the guys. Having him in her life the only way she could. All this knowing he was in love with another woman.
 The Merrick Family is known for loving deep. So when Cecelia Merrick was murdered, it marked the Merricks in a way none of them recovered. Both Cecelia's children found love. Both turned their backs on it. But Garrett "Merry" Merrick knew in his soul the woman he divorced years ago was the one for him.
 Until the night when Cher took Garrett's back and things changed. The Merrick family loves deep. They also protect fiercely. And with his eyes finally open, Garrett sees the woman who truly is for him and he goes after her.

This is the final book in Ashley’s The ‘Burg series.  I re-read all the earlier books in anticipation of this one, so the details of Merry and Cheryl’s prior meetings, the situation with her involvement with a serial killer and his reluctance to open himself up were pretty fresh in my mind. For those who are just starting this series, I’d recommend at least reading the first book in the series, For You, because Cheryl’s backstory, as related in that book, is very important.

Cher hasn’t lived an easy life. She was wild as a teenager and into her twenties, partying hard and not worrying about a lot. Until she got pregnant and her boyfriend took off with all her money and left her high and dry. She spent years working as a stripper to support her son until she finally met the man of her dreams…who turned out to be a total nightmare. A real live serial killer. After years of dealing with the fallout from that, she’s finally in a good place.

She changed her name and landed a job she loves as a bartender, plus made some really great friends. She’s even willing to test out the relationship waters again. If her kid’s dad is back in the picture causing trouble and she has a massive crush on the one guy who will never see her as anything but a friend, well…she’s a survivor. She’s dealt with worse. Until she spends the night with Garrett Merrick, the friend in question, and he just happens to get wrapped up in her drama with her kid’s dad.

When the Merrick’s love, they love deep and true. And once. Garrett “Merry” Merrick thought his ex-wife, Mia, was The One for him, until he screwed it up by letting his issues mess up his head and end their relationship. His mother was brutally murdered in their home when he was a child – an act his sister witnessed – and none of them (he, his father and his sister) have dealt with it. When Mia gets engaged to another man Merry ends up in the bar getting served  too much whiskey – and a good amount of sage advice – by Cher. They’ve been friends for years, but her outlook on his past relationship with his ex really opens his eyes. The fact that they ended up in bed together and she turned out to be so much more than he expected also messes with his head,  but when he finds out her ex is trying to fight her for her son, he knows he can’t walk away. Not now. Maybe not ever.

As I mentioned, we first met Cher in book 1. She was dating – and unknowingly helping him terrorize his victims – Denny Lowe, a serial killer who was obsessed with the heroine of that book, February. Cheryl was completely duped by Denny, thinking he was actually Alexander Colton, Feb’s long-lost love and a local cop. Dealing with the trauma of sleeping with a serial killer was bad enough, but being          duped into thinking he was something he wasn’t was even worse. Especially since she let him become involved with her son. She was pragmatic, though, and fought to get herself – and her son -back to a good place. I admired her strength and determination. Many might judge her for having been a stripper, and for the way she dresses (she’s described as dressing on the “skanky” side), but at her core she was a good person and I didn’t have a problem accepting her as she was.

There are a lot of things that frustrate me about Ashley’s writing – the over-long descriptions about inconsequential things, the lack of editing, etc – but I keep coming back to her because she excels at drawing the reader into her stories. She has a great talent for bringing her characters, and the world in which they live, to life. I always fall right into them. This was no exception. I loved Cher and her son, and the way she interacted with her friends and family.

Merry has a good support system in his friends and family, but he held part of himself back with them because of the trauma of losing his mom. It was good to see him open himself up to Cher, and to his friends in The ‘Burg. I like the way he immediately fell into Cher’s life and accepted her son.

The mystery portion of the book was silly and over the top, but I’ve come to expect that from Ashley and pay little attention. Which is good since this one was pretty silly.

While there were some frustrating things about the book and it isn’t my favorite of series, I enjoyed the romance and getting to know both Merry and Cher better. His care with her and her son, along with her intersections with her mom, her friends and her son were believable and made the story worth reading.

3.25 out of 5


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Review: Scarlet Heat by Evangeline Anderson

Posted July 1, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Scarlet Heat by Evangeline AndersonReviewer: Holly
Scarlet Heat by Evangeline Anderson
Series: Born to Darkness #2
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: 04/16/2013
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 365
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Scarlet Heat is a plus length novel, over 100,000 words long about vampires, werewolves, and witches. Not to mention sex. Lots and lots of steamy sex. It also contains chapter two of Shadowed, Brides of the Kindred 8 coming soon.

Taylor is a vampire—but she doesn’t want to be. Turned against her will by her sadistic mistress, Celeste, she has been living a miserable life of bondage and abuse for the past six years. Finally, through the help of her best friend Addison, Taylor is rescued but she can’t relax for long. In order to save her from an even worse fate, she is married off to Victor—a very reluctant groom who just happens to be a werewolf.

Victor doesn’t want to be responsible for the fledgling vampire, no matter how beautiful she is. Especially when he finds out he is the only one he can drink from. But aside from the strange arousal that overtakes him every time she sinks her dainty fangs into his throat, he has other problems to deal with…and a very big secret to hide.

Their marriage of convenience is only supposed to last for three months but Victor and Taylor finds themselves drawn together by more than the vows they took. But as their attraction grows, so does something else. Inside Taylor, something is changing. She begins to have physical cravings she has never had before, insatiable appetites that only Victor can satisfy.

Will she succumb to the madness growing within her or can Victor save her from the Scarlet Heat?

I’ve read several of Anderson’s books in the past. She has some writing quirks that really frustrate me, but I generally enjoy the premise and meat of her stories. I didn’t love Crimson Debt, the first book in this series, but I was curious enough about the heroine of this book to continue reading the series. Anderson is good at dropping just enough hints to make the next book almost impossible to ignore.

We met Taylor in Crimson Heat. She was turned into a vampire against her will and has spent the past 7 years living in absolute hell. As a made vampire, she’s forced to serve her maker in whatever way she’s told. Celeste, her maker, is a sadistic bitch who forces her to have sex, degrades her and physically and mentally abuses her. When a vampire even older and more cruel than her maker comes to town and Celeste gives Taylor to him, her best friend seeks the help of another master vampire to protect her and Taylor ends up blood bonded to Victor, an alpha shifter and lone wolf.

At first Taylor is terrified she’s traded one bad situation for another, but it isn’t long before she realizes Victor is a really good guy. He promises not to touch her or hurt her in any way, and he keeps that promise. Though Taylor doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to stand to have sex again, she eventually comes to trust Victor and craves a real marriage from him, not just the three months they have to remain together to get her permanently out of the reach of her maker.

Victor, too, comes to enjoy Taylor and wants to make their bonding permanent. Unfortunately he’s keeping a big secret from Taylor..he’s cursed. There’s a beast (aside from his shifter animal) inside him that he can’t control. He’s afraid he’ll end up inadvertently hurting Taylor if he loses control.

Of the three books in the series, this is my favorite. I really liked both Taylor and Victor. There are a a lot of silly misunderstandings that could have been cleared up with some simple communication, but when they were together I really enjoyed their romance.

What this book (and really, all her books) need is the services of a good editor. The writing is often choppy, there are continuity and consistency errors and masses of spelling and grammatical errors.

3.25 out of 5


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Guest Review: Vicious Cycle by Katie Ashley

Posted June 15, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Vicious Cycle by Katie AshleyReviewer: Tracy
Vicious Cycle by Katie Ashley
Series: Vicious Cylce #1
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: June 2nd 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Deacon Malloy’s life is dedicated to the Hells Raiders motorcycle club. Tough, hard, and fast with his fists, he serves the group as sergeant at arms. But his devil-may-care approach to life is thrown for a loop when the five-year-old daughter he never knew existed lands on the club steps.

Alexandra Evans is devoted to all her students—but there’s always been something about Willow Malloy that tugs at her heart. There’s an aura of sadness about her, a girl in need of all the love Alexandra can give. When Willow stops coming to school, Alexandra’s search leads to a clubhouse full of bikers…and a father hell-bent on keeping his daughter always within sight.

The moment Deacon sees Alexandra, he has to have her in his bed—and he’s never met a woman yet who couldn’t be persuaded. No matter how attracted she is to Deacon, Alexandra refuses to be just another conquest. But it’s Deacon himself who could be seduced—into a brighter future for himself, his daughter, and the woman he’s falling for against all odds.

Tracy’s review of Vicious Cycle by Katie Ashley

Deacon is the Sergeant at Arms of the Hell’s Raiders MC. He loves what he does and isn’t looking for anything with a woman to soften him up. Of course life has a way of crashing in on you when you least expect it and that’s what happened to Deacon. His 5 year old daughter, Willow, the one he never even knew existed, showed up at the clubhouse when her mother was killed. Deacon’s mother helps out with her care as Deacon doesn’t know what to do with her. When her kindergarten teacher, Alex, shows up concerned that Willow hasn’t been at school for more than three days Deacon thinks she’s someone else and practically molests her.

It turns out that Deacon is concerned for Willow as there have been threats against her – a rival club trying to get to Deacon – and he plans on keeping the child home until the threat is removed. Alex and Deacon work out their differences and Alex agrees to home school Willow until the threat is gone.

As Alex and Deacon spend more time together they seem to be more attracted to each other but the people who are trying to get to Deacon won’t stop at Willow – they go after Alex as well. Once Alex has been hurt Deacon realizes that he cares more for her than he thought but their different lives might be the thing that ends up keeping them apart.

This is my first Katie Ashley book and it was a good read. I had some issues with Deacon and the end of the story as well as a few others but in general it was a decent book.

Alex was a strong character but overall pretty lackluster. I’m not sure how the author wanted us to see this heroine but I’m pretty sure I didn’t grasped her entirely. She was a kindergarten teacher and someone who I would never in a million years see with a biker, especially after knowing some of the things he’d done. He wasn’t a kind and loving person and I guess I didn’t see what she saw in him.

Deacon could be a good guy but for the most part – and for most of the book – he wasn’t. He didn’t know what to do with Willow, which was understandable, but I thought by the end of the book we would have seen some growth in that department and we didn’t. Deacon building a dance studio in the basement for her, in my eyes, was all about Alex and watching her dance and making her feel comfortable – not Willow. I guess I thought if the author was going to bring the child into the picture that we should have seen some more tolerance and love on Deacon’s part and that just never happened.

The secondary characters were mostly Deacon’s family, his mother, Mama Beth, and his brothers, Bishop and Rev who I actually liked quite a bit. Bishop was portrayed as a ladies man/manwhore but he seemed like a good guy and not quite so rough and gritty as Deacon. Rev. was just a big teddy bear and I’m looking forward to reading about him.

IMHO Ashley really went for the more authentic, rough, violent aspect of the biker world which didn’t me quite speak to me like other biker novels have done in the past. While I didn’t love this book I’ll be reading the next in the series to see how that one pans out.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

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


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Review: Seven Years by Dannika Dark

Posted June 4, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Seven Years by Dannika DarkReviewer: Holly
Seven Years by Dannika Dark
Series: Seven Series #1
Also in this series: Six Months, Five Weeks (Seven Series #3)

Publication Date: September 4th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Urban, General, Romantic Comedy
Pages: 331
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Paranormal Romance: Book 1. USA TODAY Bestselling Author
Seven years ago, my world ended.Seven years later, my new life began.
It's been seven years since Lexi Knight lost her brother in a tragic accident. On the anniversary of his death, her brother's best friend shows up unexpectedly - a man she hasn't seen since the funeral. He is no longer the boy Lexi once knew, but a dangerous-looking man with tattoos and dark secrets. He broke her trust and abandoned her family, yet what he reveals makes it impossible to stay angry. Lexi has been secretly infatuated with Austin since childhood, so finding out he's a Shifter just makes him sexier. Dammit.
Austin Cole has returned to the city where he grew up, and just in time. He's lived a hard life these past seven years, and the shadows of his past are threatening to destroy Lexi's family. It's time that she learned the truth about her brother, but there is a shocking twist that Austin never saw coming. Now he must protect her family when her mother and sister wind up in mortal danger. Will Lexi learn to accept the truth about who he is, and can Austin salvage a relationship from the ruins of their past?
18+Full-length novelCliffhanger-freeHEA
SEVEN SERIES READING ORDER:Book 1 - Seven Years (Seven Series #1)Book 2 - Six Months (Seven Series #2)Book 3 - Five Weeks (Seven Series #3)Book 4 - Four Days (Seven Series #4)Book 5 - Three Hours (Seven Series #5)Book 6: Two Minutes (Seven Series #6)
MAGERI SERIES READING ORDER:Book 1 - Sterling (Mageri Series: Book 1) USA Today Bestseller!Book 2 - Twist (Mageri Series: Book 2)Book 3 - Impulse (Mageri Series: Book 3)Book 4 - Gravity (Mageri Series: Book 4)Book 5 - Shine (Mageri Series: Book 5) Final Installment!
OTHER BOOKS:Closer: A Novella
alpha male, hero, paranormal romance, romantic comedy, urban fantasy, wolf, wolves, werewolf, shifters, pack, supernatural, alpha, biker, rocker, rock star, native american, sweethearts, best friends, hea, no cliffhanger, series, family, brothers, romance, heroine, action, adventure, vampires, mages, fantasy, novel, series, mageri, sexy, steamy, brilliant, southern, texas, bestseller, lad, bloke, naughty, mage, vampire, realistic love story, tattoos, tatted, hot cars, fairy tale, thriller, new adult, interracial, coming of age, suspense, comedy, humor, bad boy, motorcycle, rock star, tattoos, protagonist, heroine, family, dangerous, action, unrequited, love hate relationships, stripper, pole dancer, prince, billionaire,

Seven years ago, Lexi’s older brother died in a motorcycle accident and her world imploded. Her mother got pregnant and her father left. Since then she’s been struggling to deal with the pain of her loss, helping her mother raise her younger sister, and working a dead end job at a candy shop. When her brother’s best friend suddenly returns on the eve of his death, Lexi is angry and hurt. She hasn’t seen Austin since the night her brother died. Since they were just as close and she and her brother were, and since her mother considered him a second son, his disappearing act hurt all of them.

Austin had a good reason for disappearing seven years ago, though he wasn’t able to share it with Lexi or her family. He’s actually Breed, a shapeshifter that takes the form of a wolf. He was born an alpha, and he adopted Lexi’s family as his pack to sort of practice on (his family’s explanation for his connection to them). To protect them, he had to leave after Lexi’s brother died. He didn’t accidentally die in a motorcycle accident as Austin let Lexi believe; he was actually murdered because he was working for a powerful Mage with the hope of being turned into an immortal.

Now Austin and his brothers have returned to town permanently, and he can’t keep away from Lexi. Especially when it’s revealed that Lexi is a Shifter, too. She had no idea and neither did Austin. Now she needs protection from the local packs who want to claim her and her brother’s old enemies.

I liked the story and the world. The Shifters were different in that once the animal took over, the human was no longer present. It was actually like they blacked out. They remembered nothing of their time as a wolf (except Alphas who sometimes remembered and sometimes didn’t).

I struggled a bit with how accepting the heroine was of her new situation. I wanted her to demand answers, but a lot of the time she brushed it aside when someone refused to answer her questions or the subject was changed. She’d ask a question, get blown off, and just go on her merry way. That’s not to say I didn’t like the story. I just wish there’d been a bit more skepticism on her part, and a little more force in getting answers.

The romance was pretty good, though I thought the hero read as a bit young and hotheaded at times. I’d have liked to see him as a more mature alpha, which is one of the reasons I marked this as New Adult. He has a long way to go. I liked them together and thought they had good chemistry, but they both need some maturity. Actually, the entire pack needs maturity, even those who were centuries old.

The writing is pretty inconsistent. Sometimes flowery and meandering, other times choppy and disjointed. I was pulled out of the story several times because of minor continuity issues, and others because of major plot holes, typos and grammar issues. The story was interesting enough to keep me reading, but the story needed a good edit.

3.25 out of 5


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Review: Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen

Posted April 21, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

shooting for the stars
Rowena’s review of Shooting for the Stars (Gravity #3) by Sarina Bowen.

For one night she had everything.

Pro snowboarder Stella Lazarus has always loved her brother’s best friend. But the one time she tried to show him, she was shot down faster than you can say “competitor disqualified.”

Until one blissful night in Tahoe, when Stella finally gets her man.

Or does she? In the morning, Stella and Bear wake up to horrible news. The sort that sends them racing back to Vermont, and straight into the arms of guilt and family obligations.

For all of Bryan “Bear” Barry’s life, three natural laws held true: his best friend Hank was destined for greatness, Hank’s sister Stella was off-limits, and Bear would always manage to negotiate the rocky paths that life threw his way. In the space of two days, that’s all shattered.

Bear can’t believe he slipped up so badly with Stella. Even if his best friend wasn’t lying broken in a hospital bed, it would still be unforgivable. Determined to do better, he devotes himself to his friend’s recovery, denying himself the very person he loves. And the very thing he needs.

Shooting for the Stars is the third book in the Gravity series and let me tell you, I read this series all out of order. I read the second book first, the first book second and then ended with this book but I thought this series was another good one for Bowen’s back list. I like that she writes romances for the normal person. Her characters are everyday, average people that fall in love and their stories are just as interesting as the rich people.

In this book, we get Stella (Hank “Hazardous” Lazarus’ sister from Book 1) and Bear’s book. Bear is Hank’s best friend and Stella is Hank’s little sister. Bear is having trouble keeping his hands off his best friend’s sister and throughout the book, he drives me nuts. I felt a lot of his issues could have been resolved without wasting as much time as he did by just talking to Hazardous about everything. I wanted him to come clean and stop stringing Stella along because Stella’s longstanding feelings kept getting hurt. By him.

Then there was Stella. My heart hurt for her but over the course of the book, I thought that she kept going back for more when she shouldn’t have. I know that she couldn’t help the way that she felt about Bear but she put herself through some serious pain because she wanted to what? Force Bear into coming clean about his feelings? He should have wanted to do that on his own and she should have let him come to those conclusions on his own.

But even with all of my frustrations between the two of these guys, I still liked the book overall. It wasn’t my favorite book by Bowen but it was still enjoyable. I liked seeing Hank and Callie and seeing Bear’s point of view about the whole Alexis thing.  I also liked that we had a hero, down on his luck and trying to figure out his next move. The movie venture was interesting and I loved how excited and scared Bear was about everything. There’s plenty in this book that I liked and the romance between Bear and Stella was just a part of the book that drove me nuts but in the end, they get together so it’s all good in the hood. I’m still looking forward to more Sarina Bowen books in the future.

Grade: 3.25 out of 5

This book is available from Sarina Bowen. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

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