Tag: Self-Published

Review: Smoke and Sin by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake

Posted December 4, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Smoke and Sin by Shayla Black and Lexi BlakeReviewer: Casee
Smoke and Sin (The Perfect Gentlemen, #4) by Shayla Black, Lexi Blake
Series: The Perfect Gentlemen #4
Also in this series: Scandal Never Sleeps (The Perfect Gentlemen, #1), Seduction in Session (The Perfect Gentlemen, #2), Big Easy Temptation (The Perfect Gentlemen, #3)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 460
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

More than a decade ago, Roman Calder had a scorching affair with the sister of one of his best friends. Augustine Spencer drove him so crazy he thought of nothing but her. The only thing they did more often than heat the sheets was fight. Unprepared for the intensity of their relationship, Roman broke things off and concentrated on things that made sense to him: his career and putting his best friend, Zack Hayes, in the White House.

Gus Spencer is known to Washington insiders as the president’s secret weapon. Gorgeous and brilliant, Gus runs the press pool with the determination of a shark. No one dares to cross her, not when she’s known for having a spine of steel…but long ago one man melted her down. Despite the fact that she’ll never forgive Roman for breaking her heart, now that they work together she can’t get him off her mind.

When a dangerous investigation leads both Roman and Gus to London, the heat between them becomes unbearable. As they begin to unravel an international conspiracy, they find themselves falling all over again. But when a killer threatens their world, can they fight to stay together or will the sins of their past keep them forever apart?

This book picks up immediately where Big Easy Temptation left off (except for the Prologue). What do we know about Roman Calder and Augustine Spencer? We know that Roman is Zack Hayes Chief of Staff and best friend. He’s known in the media as the Hitman. He’s scary. When he wants things done, they get done. Gus is Dax’s sister. She likes sleeping with men and she doesn’t care if people thinks she’s a whore. She’s refreshing. I really like her. Or I did like her until I read this book.

Roman and Gus have a history and it’s not a good one. You’ll get an idea right away of what they have to overcome. It’s not just not pretty. It’s ugly. There was a day thirteen years ago that Roman should have been at Gus’ side. He wasn’t. Instead it was Maddox Crawford that was there. He was also there every year since. Mad was one of Gus’ best friends. She knows that Mad was murdered. She will do anything she has to do to prove it, even if it means point the finger at her boss. Did I mention she runs the press pool at the White House? So Zack is her boss.

The reason Roman broke it off with Gus all those years ago was because he didn’t want a relationship like his parents had while he was growing up. All his parents did was fight (spectacularly) and then make up. He saw the pattern repeating itself with Gus and wasn’t going to let that happen. He was determined to be different. To fall in love and marry someone, well, boring. He did fall in love with someone else. Zack’s wife. She may have just been his wife for political reasons, but she was still his best friend’s wife. When she was murdered two days before the election, Roman was devastated. Still, no one was more devastated than Zack.

Having Gus be so close to him, but not be with him is hell for Roman. Their situation changes when they’re in England. He knows Gus and he can tell she’s up to something. She knows a few bits and pieces of what is going on with Zack, but she doesn’t know the whole picture. And he’s not going to let her find out. He doesn’t want her in danger. He’ll do whatever he has to do to protect her. Even from herself.

Roman is the same man he’s always been. He’s someone that underestimates her. She doesn’t need him to accomplish her goals. Except then she does because he makes a public claim on her and unless she’s going to call him a liar in public, she has to go along with his plan. Though they’re now partners, they’re still not partners because Roman won’t tell her the entire truth. Which is no less than Gus expected. Even if she is disappointed she’s not surprised.

I didn’t like Roman at all. He just didn’t respect Gus. Not as a woman, not as a partner. Oh, he made all the right noises, but he didn’t. It was annoying as all hell. I didn’t like Gus either. She didn’t trust Roman at all. The fact that she had no reason to was beside the point. The only relationship I did like in this entire book was between Liz and Gus. Liz is Zack’s Press Secretary and the woman he’s secretly loved for years. Except now Zack has pushed her away because he knows the Russians are after him.

So this book was just meh. The best part happened at the end when Zack thinks he has a handle on who Liz is. Ha. Laughable, really.

At the Pleasure of the President (Zack’s book, obviously) was supposed to be out this fall. I emailed Lexi and a couple things came up. She said that she and Shayla hope to have it out next spring. Yay!

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The Perfect Gentlemen

three-half-stars


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Review: Lionheart by Thea Harrison

Posted November 28, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Lionheart by Thea HarrisonReviewer: Holly
Lionheart (Moonshadow, #3) by Thea Harrison
Series: Moonshadow #3, Elder Races
Also in this series: Spellbinder, Lionheart (Moonshadow, #3), , , , , , , , Kinked, Lord's Fall, , Pia Saves the Day & Peanut Goes to School, Dragos Takes a Holiday, Night's Honor, Night's Honor, Dragon Bound, Midnight's Kiss, Midnight's Kiss, Dragos Goes to Washington, Shadow's End, Pia Does Hollywood, Liam Takes Manhattan, Pia Does Hollywood, The Chosen: A Novella of the Elder Races, Planet Dragos (Elder Races, #9.8), Planet Dragos (Elder Races, #9.8)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 15, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 271
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars


Lionheart is the final story in the Moonshadow trilogy…

King Oberon reigned over his Dark Court in Lyonesse for centuries, until an assassination attempt laid him low. Now he lies unconscious in his snow-bound palace, while his Power battles the enchantment that threatens to end his life.

A skilled trauma surgeon and magic-user, Dr. Kathryn Shaw reigns at the top of her profession in New York. Then comes a challenge she can’t resist—she is asked to cure the uncureable. Just getting close enough to try healing Oberon is a dangerous proposition. When she does reach him, he awakens too soon.

Roused from darkness by Kathryn’s presence, Oberon confronts the beautiful stranger who claims she wants to save his life. But the enchantment has frozen his emotions. How can he learn to trust her when he can’t feel anything?

Oberon’s desire is icy, devoid of all tenderness. Not only must Kathryn match wits with him, she must also fight her reaction to his touch, because there is so much more at stake than her own endangered heart.

For the Dark Court faces its most deadly peril yet. Its ancient enemy Isabeau, Queen of the Light Court, is obsessed with its annihilation, and Oberon must be brought to remember his loyalty and affection for his people.

Because if he won’t fight for them, Lyonesse itself may very well be destroyed…

I adore Harrison’s Elder Races world. These characters really come alive for me every time I read one. I was curious about Oberon after the events of the previous book, Spellbinder.

An assassination attempt by the Light Fae Queen has a slow-moving magical curse working its way toward Dark Fae King Oberon’s heart. The closer it gets, the less he feels real emotion. When he realizes the magical needle is almost to his heart, he puts himself into a coma. For nearly 200 years he’s been “asleep” while his weather magic rages out of control, decimating the once thriving land of Lyonese. The Dark Court still loyal to King Oberon knows they have to make a decision soon. If the death curse can’t be stopped, Oberon will be lost. They call on surgeon Katherine Shaw. She’s the only one they’ve met in nearly 200 years who may be able to remove the spell from Oberon. Though she’s reluctant, Katherine can’t deny the appeal of the near-impossible task. With Dragos’s prompting, she agrees to see what she can do. She didn’t expect to be battling Oberon and his magic as well as the curse. She’ll have to gain his trust if she’s going to save him…which may be the hardest task of them all.

When Dr. Katherine Shaw agrees to travel to the Other Lands to see if she can remove a deadly spell King Oberon has been under for 200 years, I cheered. I loved her in the previous books and I was really excited to find out more about Morgan’s spell and how Oberon would live. I’m not sure if I didn’t pay enough attention to mentions of the Dark Court in previous books, or if it was explained better here, but I really loved how diverse the Dark Fae are. The war with Isabeau, the Light Fae Queen, comes because the Dark Fae aren’t “pure”. Most all of them are half-breeds of some kind. King Oberon himself is Dark Fae and Wyr. I loved that aspect of the novel, as well as the glimpses we saw of Lyonese and its people. The romance was slow moving at times, but I can’t deny I enjoyed it. I wish there had been a bit more conflict surrounding Oberon coming back to himself, as that part seemed just a bit too neat, but even then I enjoyed seeing the man his people knew and loved.

This didn’t work quite as well for me as the previous entry, Spellbinder, but Harrison doesn’t disappoint. Oberon and Katherine were both wonderful, as was their romance. Another stellar novel in a well thought out and imaginative series. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

4.25 out of 5

Moonshadow

Elder Races

four-stars


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Review: Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 16, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Bountiful by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Seraphine Valentine, Teddy Hamilton
Series: True North #4, Brooklyn Bruisers #4.5
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Fireworks (True North #6), Keepsake (True North, #3), Rookie Move, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers #2), Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers, #3), Brooklynaire (Brooklyn Bruisers #4), Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 20, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 315
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.

I was really looking forward to this book. I’m a fan of reunion stories. I even like secret baby books. This wasn’t exactly a secret baby, but it was as close as you could get without being one. I can’t quite put my finger on what didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t that I hated this book. I didn’t. I didn’t particularly like it. I just sort of feel blah about it.

I listened to this book on audio. The narrators were pretty darn good. Sometimes Dave sounded like kind of a dunce, but I got used to it. He just seemed sort of slow, but I got over that and just let myself enjoy it.

Zara runs her uncle’s bar in a small town in Vermont. She’s kind of bitter after her ex finds someone else so quickly (see Griff Shipley from Bittersweet). She’s basically ripe for a one night stand. Except her one night stand with Dave No-Last-Name ends up being a summer fling. One they agree will end when his time in Vermont ends. Dave is a hockey player for the Brooklyn Bruisers and has no intention of settling down. Zara is a bitter shrew and neither does she have any intention of settling down. That’s before Dave leaves her a bun in the oven. He once mentioned his last name in passing. Even her twin brother, Benito’s law enforcement contacts are unable to find Dave. So she has her baby on her own and keeps the father’s name a secret.

Two years later she is happy. Her baby girl is thriving and she has a new business with (who would have guessed it) Audrey Shipley, her ex’s new wife. Then her her world is thrown into chaos when Dave walks into her new coffee shop. Dave couldn’t be more excited to see her. Zara doesn’t exactly feel the same way. She never planned nor particularly wanted to see Dave again. She doesn’t want to share her daughter, Nicole. She doesn’t know Dave. She doesn’t want to explain Dave to her family. Unfortunately her past has come calling.

Dave hasn’t forgotten Zara in the two years that have passed. He’s blown away when he learns that he has a two year old daughter. It’s abundantly clear when he looks at her that Nicole is his daughter. Before long he’s doing daddy-like things and he couldn’t be happier. The problem is that Zara still doesn’t want more from him than sex. He’s determined to convince her that he is worth taking a chance on.

Zara was a bitter, bitter woman. It was hard to stomach at times. I just didn’t understand her hangups. It was just weird. I couldn’t get past what her issue was. And it was an issue. As much as she overcame her problem with Griff, became best friends with Audrey, and was a wonderful mother to Nicole, I just couldn’t understand why she was so bitter. It was weird. Plus she used Nicole as an excuse more than was acceptable to me.

The ending was real shit. It showed that a couple doesn’t just ride into the sunset. They both had lives outside of each other. She was a business owner. He played professional hockey. They couldn’t just stop their lives. I thought Sarina Bowen did write the ending rather well. Still, this was not my favorite book of the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

True North

three-stars


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Review: Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 15, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Keepsake by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Keepsake (True North, #3) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Erin Spencer, Teddy Hamilton
Series: True North #3
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Fireworks (True North #6), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 312
Length: 10 hours, 8 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

There's a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he's good for much more than farm labor.

I listened to this book on audio. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the series. The narrators have switched up and they’ve all been pretty good.

Keepsake is a book about survivors. Both Zachariah and Lark survived different kinds of hell. Zach was in a cult as a child and young adult. He finally escaped, but there was a steep price. He’s never forgiven himself for the girl he left behind and often wonders what became of her. He’s built his life around the Shipley farm, but he knows that it will soon be time to move on. That’s something that scares him deeply. Zach has never truly been on his own. When May Shipley’s best friend, Lark Wainwright, shows up at the farm, he recognizes a survivor in her.

Lark has come to Vermont to heal. As an investigative journalist, Lark used to be fearless. She would go from assignment to assignment with no fear that something could happen to her. That all changes when she is kidnapped. Now her nights are plagued with nightmares. She’s hoping that her stay at the farm will bring her peace. She has no idea how broken she truly is until she gets there. She finds unexpected comfort in Zach. She recognizes that he has demons of his own and feels no regret in taking the comfort that he offers her.

I understood Lark. I truly did. That didn’t mean I particularly liked her. Maybe it would have been different if Zach wasn’t Zach. The fact is that Lark flat out used Zach. Sure she had feelings for him. It’s clear, but she used him to cover her own nightmares. The one thing that was admirable about her was that she didn’t lie to herself or to Zach about it. I knew that she was going to have to leave Zach, but geez. It was hard reading Zach’s reaction. The guy has never had a mean thought. He would have done anything for Lark. Even let her go.

In the end, I still loved Zach. I liked Lark, but didn’t love her. She was just so-so. Then there was the way things unfolded with May and Lark. Like where the hell did that come from? I was thrown for a loop and it felt like that was just put in there for shock value. It was really weird.

Rating: 4 out of 5. (For Zach)

True North

four-stars


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Review: Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh

Posted November 13, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Rock Wedding by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee
Rock Wedding (Rock Kiss, #4) by Nalini Singh
Series: Rock Kiss #4
Also in this series: Rock Addiciton, Rock Courtship, Rock Addiction, Rock Courtship, Rock Hard, Rock Hard, Rock Redemption, Rock Redemption, Rock Redemption, Rock Addiction, Rock Courtship, Rock Hard, Rock Wedding, Rock Wedding, Rock Wedding, Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss, #1), Rock Hard (Rock Kiss, #2), Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss, #3)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 345
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Rock Kiss series with a hot, sweet, emotional contemporary romance about love and forgiveness…

After a lifetime of longing for a real family, Sarah Smith thought she’d finally found her home with rock star Abe Bellamy, even if she knew Abe didn’t love her the way she loved him. But their brief relationship, filled with tragedy and heartache, nearly destroyed her. Alone, emotions in turmoil, and already shaky self-esteem shattered, Sarah struggles to pick up the pieces in the wake of their divorce.

Abe knows he’s to blame for the end of his marriage. Caught in a web of painful memories, he pushed away the best thing in his life – the sexy, smart woman he adores – breaking them both in the process. Then fate throws him a second chance to get things right, to prove to Sarah that she means everything to him. Abe desperately wants that second chance at love...even if he knows he doesn’t deserve it.

But can he convince Sarah – now strong and independent without him – to risk her wounded heart one more time?

I think this book was my least favorite of the series. I can’t put my finger on why exactly. From the beginning, I was just like wtf?!?!?! Sarah married Abe the same night she met him (actually, I can’t remember if that is what happened). They met in a bar. Unfortunately, Abe has a huge drug problem and he likes taking it out on his wife. At the beginning of the book, this killed me.

Sara loved Abe with a devotion that terrified her.

She knew he didn’t love her back.

It was just so matter-of-fact. It was incredibly sad to think she thought that, especially when we later learn it wasn’t true at all. However, Abe did little to make her think otherwise. He was a real asshole to her at the beginning of the book. When he found her playing his dead sister’s piano, I was shocked at his reaction given what we’ve learned about Abe over the last three books.

Fast forward a couple of years. Abe and Sarah went through a bitter, bitter divorce. After Abe kicked Sarah out of their house, Sarah decided that she was going to use Abe’s money to better herself. That’s exactly what she did. She emerged from her marriage as someone stronger. Someone that could stand on her own two feet. So the only problem with this is this douchebag asswipe guy took advantage of her in the middle of her divorce and talked her into having a baby with him. That sounds like something out of left field, doesn’t it? It’s weird, but it worked. It seemed like real life, I guess. Anyhow, Sarah lost her baby boy. He was stillborn. It was heartbreaking.

Abe has decided that he wants Sarah back. The problem is that she doesn’t trust him at all. With good reason. Abe is determined to show her that he’s changed and that he’s loved her all along. He knows it’s just going to take time. Then Sarah gets pregnant. For goodness sake, does this woman believe in condoms???? So now Sarah is worried that Abe is only with her because she’s having his baby. She doesn’t seem to remember that he was with her before she got pregnant.

I just couldn’t get into Sarah. She was a sad, sad case. I understood all her reservations, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t love her. I did like Abe a lot, but I didn’t love him either. I has a sad about that. I wanted to love this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rock Kiss

three-half-stars


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