Reading Challenge: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge

Review: Come to Me Softly by A.L. Jackson

Posted April 28, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Come to Me Softly by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Come to Me SoftlySeries: Closer to You #2
Also in this series: Come to Me Quietly
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Come to Me Quietly comes a scorching new adult romance in the Closer to You series.

A second chance at life…A second chance at love…

Jared Holt never thought he deserved either—until he found both in the arms of Aly Moore. Aly has loved Jared for as long as she can remember, and she’s more than ready for the future they’re making together. But Jared can’t help remembering his own family. And he’ll never forgive himself for what happened to them. How can he allow himself the very happiness he once destroyed?

To live a life worthy of Aly, Jared knows he has to stop running and finally put his past to rest. But when he decides to face his demons head on, he encounters more than he bargained for: a dangerous mix of jealousy, lies, and dishonest intentions. When those intentions threaten Aly, Jared loses all control, giving into the rage that earned him his bad boy reputation years before. And he’ll fight to protect her no matter what it costs…even if he destroys himself in the process.

This is the second book in the Closer to You series. Toward the end of Come to Me Quietly, Jared leaves Aly. And the very end of the book, he knows that he can’t live without Aly. He knows he’s not good enough nor does he think he deserves happiness after the accident that destroyed his life when he was sixteen. Jared has been doing his penance for killing his mother. Having someone good like Aly in his life has changed him. He still doesn’t think he deserves happiness, but now he knows that he can’t live without her.

Aly is devastated when Jared leaves her. View Spoiler » Now he’s back and he has an almost fanatical need to make her happy and to be sure that she never regrets taking a chance on him. Jared feels like he’s dishonoring his mother’s memory by being happy. It was so heart wrenching to read about Jared’s internal struggle. Jared just about broke my heart in this book.

Aly is sure that Jared needs professional help though he is having none of that. Jared is sure that all he needs in his life is Aly. He has his demons and being with her silences them. He wants nothing to do with therapy. Until he realizes that he could love the only family he has left. Aly and Christopher are all he has. Aly begs him to get help but he refuses. So she does the impossible. She asks him to leave. Holy hell, that was devastating. I could see these characters so clearly and they were on an emotional level that I don’t find very often. These two were born for each other. After Jared once again leaves Aly, he knows he has to decide which direction to go in his life; in both their lives.

I really struggled with reading this book. Not because this wasn’t a good book. Just like the first book, this one was amazing. It was just so emotional. There were times when I would have to put the book down after ten minutes or so because my heart felt like it couldn’t handle anything more. Jared and Aly’s story is a beautiful but tragic tale. The love each other deeply, but this book drives home the fact that sometimes love isn’t enough.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Closer to You

four-stars


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Review: Come to Me Quietly by A.L. Jackson

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

Review: Come to Me Quietly by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Come to Me Quietly by A. L. Jackson
Series: Closer to You #1
Also in this series: Come to Me Softly
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Aleena Moore is content with her life. She has goals and dreams and an easy smile. She also has a secret she holds locked inside.

Jared Holt believes he doesn’t deserve to love or be loved. He destroys everything he touches. Haunted by the mistake that shattered his life, he’s fled from the memory of that pain.

Jared doesn’t know why he’s compelled to return, but finds himself drawn back to the place where it all began. The exact place where it ended. When he runs into his childhood best friend, Aleena’s older brother Christopher, he agrees to share Christopher and Aleena’s apartment while he looks for a place of his own.

Aleena is no longer the little girl Jared remembers from his past and evokes feelings in him he never wanted to feel again. Terrified of destroying her, he fights to keep her away. But her touch is something he can’t resist—the touch that sealed his fate.

Their pasts are intertwined and their futures uncertain. The only truths they know are the secrets they whisper in the night.

Jared Holt believes that he doesn’t deserve anything good in his life. Jared goes through the motions, but he’s been dead inside since the day he lost his mother. When he runs into Christopher Moore, his best friend while growing up, he can’t turn down his offer to stay with him and his sister. Jared doesn’t know why he’s come back to the place that haunts him. Then he sees her. Aleena Moore. Aly. The little girl that followed him around and he protected when she was younger is all grown up. Jared knows that it’s wrong to feel any attraction toward his best friend’s sister, but he can’t stop. Especially when they start meeting up in her room in the middle of the night just to talk.

Aly has always loved Jared. He left town when she was just fourteen, but she had loved him longer than that. Aly has loved Jared her entire life. She never expected to see him again, so when he turns up at the apartment she shares with her brother, she looks at it like it’s a gift. Until she starts getting to know him again, Aly doesn’t realize how scarred and tortured Jared is from the inside out. He blames himself for his mother’s death and has told himself that he doesn’t get to be happy. On the contrary, he needs to honor his mom the only way he knows how. By punishing himself. Night after night as they lay in her bed talking, Aly tries to get Jared to open up about that day so long ago.

As Jared and Aly become closer day-by-day, Jared realizes that he can never have what he wants. He can never have Aly. All he’s earned is a lifetime of misery. Aly makes him want to believe, but he knows he has to do his penance. Jared doesn’t get Aly and it kills him that he never will. When he leaves her, he expects to feel righteous for doing the right thing. What he comes to find out about himself is that he can’t give Aly up even if it means dishonoring his mom’s memory.

Oh my heart. It hurt while I was reading this book. Jared is one of the most tortured heroes I have read. He blames himself for something that happened when he was sixteen and has never recovered. He’s been in jail, lost his father, mother, and sister and if he doesn’t get his shit together, he will lose Aly. This book was so angsty. If you don’t like angst, I highly suggest passing this book up. I could only read for ten minutes at a time because this book was so incredibly emotional. A.L. Jackson has surpassed all my expectations, only getting better with each book I read.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Closer to You

four-half-stars


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Review: Monster by Jessica Gadziala

Posted April 12, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Monster by Jessica GadzialaReviewer: Casee
Monster by Jessica Gadziala
Series: Savages #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 2, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 316
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Casee's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Alex has had one mission since she was sixteen: destroy the man who destroyed her life. And all was going to plan until one night, a huge mammoth of a man breaks into her apartment and kidnaps her,holding her hostage for the very man she was bent on bringing down.

Breaker has one rule: he doesn't deal in women. But when he's conned into a job for the city's most ruthlesscrime lord, he finds himself in charge of a fiery-temperedhacker who he can't seem to keep his hands off of.

When passions ignite and feelings emerge, will Breaker beable to reconcile his loyalties before it is too late or will their shaky foundation of trust start crumbling beneaththeir feet?

This is a stand alone with a HEA.

* This book may not be "Safety Gang" safe. There is no cheating/ abuse/ triangle triggers, but there is a "bad guy" who is a known rapist (though the rape is not expressly detailed and does NOT happen to the h).

I’ve been really into MC romances recently. My quest to find a new MC series to start led me to Jessica Gadziala. This isn’t an MC romance, but there are connected characters and this book came out before the MC series started. Or that’s what I think, anyway.

Breaker is someone who gets things done for people. For a price. Certain things he has done aren’t exactly legal. He has always had one rule: no women. He doesn’t deal with women at all. He doesn’t consider them fair game like he considers men. He’s forced to take a job that he doesn’t want, but to turn it down could mean he dies. So he takes what he hopes will be the only job for this particular crime lord. It seems like an easy job. Pick up some hacker named Alex and hold him until Lex (crime lord) is ready to take him off Breaker’s hands. Unfortunately nothing goes according to plan.

Breaker is furious when he realizes that Alex is a woman, not a man. It’s well known through the crime world that Breaker doesn’t deal in women. Sadly for Breaker, he has no choice but to kidnap Alex. Now he is waiting to hear his instructions from Lex, hoping they are the last instructions that he ever receives from him. As if things weren’t bad enough what with Alex being a woman, she’s also a pain in the ass. Alex has no fear, so it’s hard to play the badass with her.

Alex knew there would be a reckoning with Lex. She also knew that it would likely end up with her death. She doesn’t care. She wants Lex to pay for destroying her mother decades before. Alex has been working to take down Lex’s network for years. As a hacker she has many skills. She can syphon money out of his accounts amount other things. Alex just wants to bring him down, no matter the cost to her personally.

Of course Breaker and Alex fall in love. It was almost cringeworthy to be honest. I liked these two characters as individuals, but as a couple they didn’t make sense. I really wanted to like them, but it just didn’t happen. I even tried to give them the benefit of the doubt; together they were thrown in a dangerous situation and all they could count on was each other. So I really tried to disconnect my mind and just roll with it, but it was hard. I did love Shooter who was Breaker’s best friend. I am planning on reading his book.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Savages

three-stars


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Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 5, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee
Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Sapphire Flames, Diamond Fire, Wildfire, Emerald Blaze
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 359
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrew comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

Catalina Baylor is the head of House Baylor. When her sister married Rogan, the mantle of running the house passed down to Catalina. She doesn’t feel qualified enough to run a House, especially a relatively new one. When Runa Etterson, a Prime and ally of House Baylor comes to her asking for help. Runa’s mother and sister have been murdered. Runa wants to know who killed her loved ones so she can exact her revenge. Runa begs Catalina to take the case and Catalina can’t turn her down. She knows that if it was her sister and mother murdered, she would stop at nothing to find out who was responsible.

The case is suspicious from the beginning. The DNA of Runa’s sister doesn’t match the burnt corpse that was at the scene. It appears that her sister is alive, but has been kidnapped. Now that Runa and Catalina know this, they know it’s only a matter of time before they kill her. Catalina’s plans to find the killer all go to hell when Alessandro Sagredo shows up on the scene. Before he jumps out of the building of the morgue that Catalina has gone for answers, he tells her to stop looking for the killer or she will get hurt. Of course Catalina doesn’t listen to Alessandro and it’s not long before he pops back into her life.

I didn’t think I would enjoy Catalina as much as I did in this book. I liked her in the first three books of the series, but Diamond Fire was just not very impressive. It’s clear that in the time between Diamond Fire and Sapphire Flames, Catalina has grown up. She is strong enough to run House Baylor, she just questions herself constantly. That was pretty annoying. I really enjoyed the character growth in this book.

Catalina and Alessandro have a contentious relationship. They are very attracted to each other but they are from different Houses. That’s only one reason it will never work. Another is because Catalina is a Siren. She can lure men to her with just her voice and Alessandro is no exception. Catalina has had several mishaps with people that she accidentally used her voice on. Her life hasn’t been easy, but now she controls it and she can use it as a defensive weapon. An offensive one too.

I just adore the Baylor family. I love Penelope and Leon and Arabella. I love everyone in this series. It was nice that Nevada popped back in though it was just via a brief phone call. This book really focused on Catalina. I thought it was very well written.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Hidden Legacy

four-stars


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Review: Still Standing by Kristen Ashley

Posted March 22, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Still Standing by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Still Standing by Kristen Ashley
Series: Wild West MC #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First Person, Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 528
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

When Clara Delany walks into the Aces High Motorcycle Club’s hangout, she’s hit rock bottom. She’s hiding her car from the repo man, she has less than two dollars in her bank account and the only employment she can get is delivering messages for a criminal.

All because of a man. Therefore, she’s sworn off them.

And then she meets West “Buck” Hardy, president of the Aces High MC.

Buck also meets her, and the minute he does, he makes it clear (to everyone but Clara) that they’re starting something. Since Clara doesn’t get that message, she decides to leave Buck and sort out her life in order to come back to him clean.

She’s not gone but hours before life hits Clara with another blow. Which means Buck and his boys have to ride in and save the day. After that, Buck makes no bones about where they stand.

But does he?

Welcome to the first novel in the Wild West MC series which will tell the stories of the brothers of the Aces High MC, the Resurrection MC, and the Chaos MC…and the women who love them.

Clara Delany hasn’t had the easiest life. Born into foster care, the only person she has ever loved is her bestfriend Tia. To protect Tia from her criminal husband, Clara delivers messages for him. Messages that people aren’t always happy to receive. Her current job has taken her into the Aces High MC where she has a message to deliver to their President. Clara doesn’t anticipate her attraction to West “Buck” Hardy, nor he to her. Clara just wants to conduct her business and be out of there, but Buck has other ideas.

They sleep together the day they met and honestly that didn’t bother me at all. It worked in this situation. Then Esposito (the boss) decides to teach Clara a lesson by kidnapping her and severely beating her. Buck & Aces High rush to her rescue and she finds herself living with Buck. This is after her abortive escape attempt when Tia disappears. Now it seems like Buck & Aces High are the only people capable of finding Tia. So what if she plays house in the meantime?

Before I started this book I made the mistake of skimming through GR reviews. Bad idea. Readers either loved it or hated it all for (what I thought were) valid reasons. I thought about not reading it, I’m not going to lie. Still, this is Kristen Ashley. I just couldn’t not read it. Even if it was as bad as reviews claimed it was, I still had to find out for myself. I thought that until about 31% in and decided to DNF it. Thirty minutes later I had picked it back up. That’s how Kristen Ashley works.

This review on GR really summed up the book:

If you love Motorcycle Man then you’ll love Still Standing because Still Standing is Motorcycle Man’s skeevier little sister.

This is true and false. Still Standing is definitely Motorcycle Man’s skeevier little sister. However not all of us like skeevier. I originally decided to DNF it after 31%. View Spoiler » I had a hard time with Clara because of her belief that she doesn’t deserve happiness and that she has to take what she can get.

Other than being the lover of the MC president, Tyra and Clara are nothing alike. Absolutely nothing. Tyra doesn’t take Tack’s shit. Clara thinks she should settle for whatever little happiness comes her way. I can’t see Tyra doing that. And Buck? Buck is Tack. They both just railroad their women into doing what they want them to do regardless of their feelings on the matter. It’s maddening but enticing at the same time.

View Spoiler » So yeah, I had a very difficult time getting past this.

Just like in Motorcycle Man, there was a family element that was very prevalent. Buck has two kids with a crazy ex-wife (see: Rush, Tabby, & Naomi). Something horrible happens to Buck’s daughter and the way that Clara was there for her was sure something to read. It made me sigh and smile how it brought the two closer. Especially since Tatiana hated Clara when she first met her. Their journey to friends and then a more mother/daughter dynamic was lovely.

My feelings about this book are so mixed that I can’t really decide if I really liked the book or not. I liked the characters. I only mildly tolerated Clara toward the middle of the book, but she got better as she started finding out who she truly was. Her journey was one that I enjoyed reading even if I didn’t really enjoy her character flaws. I’m not going to lie to myself, I will be reading the next book in this series.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Wild West MC

two-half-stars


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