Wednesday, July 20, 2016

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Collateral Damage is a best friend’s brother romance with some mystery thrown in and a touch of suspense in the background. I sat down to read it this morning and I carried my e-reader everywhere I went today, unwilling to have the book out of reach until I finished it just a few minutes ago. I must say, WOW!

This book is the second of three novels in a series (Hidden Scars) but it can be read as a standalone without the reader feeling like they are walking into the middle of a story. However, skipping the first book, Hidden Scars, is not advised because it is such a great story and you would be missing out. For those that have read Hidden Scars, this book’s time line runs parallel to the first book but it is not overly repetitive and it remains in the background until they have to converge.

Daisy has loved her best friend’s brother, Tucker, since she was a child. Tucker has always treated her like his own little sister, until one night and one kiss changes everything. Or does it? Can Daisy’s love and patience break down the walls Tucker has been building for his entire adult life? Will Daisy be strong enough to hold out for the love she deserves? Will Tucker realize that his past doesn’t erase his worth of a future? Will Daisy and Tucker even survive the storm that is brewing in the background? I am not telling!

Daisy was a rare and impressive woman in the romance world. She was kind, patient, and understanding but she was no doormat. She gave Tucker a fair shot and few chances but she knew when to stand her ground and she stood it so well that it broke my heart. Her loyalty, capacity to love, her patience and her strength are inspirational.  She is officially my new favorite romance heroine.

 Tucker is a yummy, dirty talking, alpha with a side helping of damage that draws me in but his stubbornness and secrecy had me shaking my Kindle and raising my voice in exasperation. Tucker’s secret remains intact for the majority of the book, building curiosity and frustration to a boiling point. When he finally shares his story, my heart broke just a little bit more.

This book gave me so many feels. There were moments that made me chuckle out loud. There were many moments that had me fanning myself and I may have sent my husband a text or two asking him to come home from work early. Curiosity and frustration were plentiful when it came to trying to figure out what made Tucker the way he is. My heart broke for both characters but Daisy’s plight had me shedding some quiet tears. Collateral Damage has everything I look for in a great book. The story pulled me in and held on tight, forcing me to finish in under a day. I felt for the characters. The background story, while familiar to me, was told from a perspective different to that of the first novel so it didn’t feel like I was reading the same thing over again. The perfect level of angst that pushed the story forward and didn’t feel like filler made me love the book even more.

There is a lot of sex in this book and it is neither repetitive nor boring. In fact, I am pretty sure my husband will be contacting the author in the morning to thank her for putting me in a randy mood. The sex is graphic and there are dirty words, so if you don’t like this…please don’t buy the book and trash it in a review. It is a contemporary romance and these days, a little smut is the norm rather than the exception. We are reading romance, not Zane Grey.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

120 Days by M. Stratton

  I began reading 120 Days  late at night and had to force myself to put it down so I could get some sleep. I was up at dawn the next day and immediately started reading. I had to get to the end. Half an hour after finishing it, I was still crying. Ugly cry is not an understatement for this one. Many books have touched me. Several have made me sad. A few have made me cry. I have even experienced a couple of ugly cries but this one packed a special punch because there are many stories in this book and each one is special. Each person at Last Resort could easily be someone I have known.

     The book begins with Ethan, a very wealthy and powerful but unhappy man. His brother, Evan, comes to tell him he is dying and rather than spending time together, he wishes to say good-bye. He doesn’t want Ethan to take care of him in his final days or witness his death. Can you imagine? I can’t. Samantha runs Last Resort. Consider it a combination of hospice care and Make a Wish foundation. People go there to embrace life while they still can and to die with dignity, on their own terms. Ethan seeks out Last Resort to find out if it is everything his brother claimed or if something sinister is taking place. He is convinced that the place his brother described is too good to be true and insists on uncovering whatever scam the owner must be running. He gets his answers and so much more.
     The chemistry between Ethan and Sam was hard to feel at first but be patient. When it hit me, it hit hard and it never eased. I suspect that this story is one that will be stuck in my head for a long time to come. This book is “book hangover” epic, despite its simplicity. It is a story of life and love taking place, beautifully, in the midst of terminal illness. There were a couple of parts that stretched my ability to suspend disbelief. Certain events take place that are so unlikely, it distracted me from the main story line. However, that element of fantasy is absolutely necessary to make Last Resort what it supposed to be. 

     There is so much more I want to write about this book but I don’t want to give anything away. I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading it and I certainly don’t want to ruin or mar the impact of reading it for the first time. I would like to say that if you do read it and feel the way I felt when I read it, don’t stop at the end of the story. Read the next part. It is worth the extra few minutes of your time.

     If you are looking for something erotic, naughty, or a little dirty. Pass on this one. That is not what this is about and adding that element would have distracted from the overall story. If you want a story that has a deeper meaning than most romance novels or love stories, something epic – this should do it for you.

Overall rating – 4 stars
Steam - mild

What was your last "ugly cry" book?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Uncut by Claudia Burgoa

 Uncut is the fourth and final (for now) book inClaudia’s Complicated Series. It can be read as a stand-alone but I strongly urge readers to at least read Unlike Any Other, if not all three previous books in the series, before reading Uncut. Trust me. These aren’t your average romance novels. These are epic love stories and readers cheat themselves and the Decker family by skipping the other books. Yes, I am a bit delusional in my belief that the Deckers really exist and wish to adopt me.

     Much like Unlike Any Other, Uncut delves into a subject I am not experienced with as a person or a reader and when I read the blurb, I was unsure how I felt about tackling this book. That said, Claudia blew my mind with the first book and I knew if any writer could help me understand and enjoy such a book, it would be her. My faith was more than justified.

     Matthew is a “jack of all trades” in business and pleasure and he is master of all. He knows what and who he wants and he is completely comfortable with himself. Tristan grew up in a family and religion that taught him to be ashamed of his desires and to fight them with all he is, even to the point of being alone and unhappy. Thea is the enigma. She guards her secrets and her heart, never letting anyone get close. Three people battling their own demons. Three lonely souls with secrets.  Can they find their way together or is life not meant to be lived in threes?

     What I love about this book is that it drew me in from the start and held my attention all the way through to the end. Evenly paced and gripping throughout, I hated putting this one down to do silly things like clean my house, feed my family or pick up the kids from school.  My heart ached for each character, even when they fucked up. Tristan and Matthew are two men that any woman with an open mind would love to have. Thea, even with her vulnerability, is a pillar of strength.

     I also love how the story was handled. While I have never read a book exactly like this, I have read several books dealing with threesomes and those books treated the relationships as something easy and focused more on the sex than the emotions within the relationship. Claudia didn’t brush over the complexities of this story. Yes, there was off the charts steam but it pushed the story forward instead of being the story. There is nothing easy about Uncut but everything about it is beautiful, including the struggles and heartache each character endures. 

     Each member of the Decker family makes an appearance in Uncut but the focus remains on Matthew, Tristan and Thea. This isn’t one of those books that will use side characters as filler but we do find out how the Decker family is doing and growing. Rather than distracting from the main story to build anticipation, the secondary characters play roles in moving the main story along, which is the way a series about a family or group of friends should be written.

Overall – 5 stars
Steam factor – off the charts
Feels – I laughed. I groaned. I may have thrown a pillow. I cried. I sighed.
HEA – Yeah, I am not telling.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hidden Scars by A.M. Meyers

     Hidden Scars is the story of Emma’s efforts to heal from an abusive relationship. The book alternates between the past and present, allowing readers to witness her abuse and gain insight into her emotional state and her struggles to not only leave her abuser but to also survive, learn to thrive and find real love. Her love interest, Nix, is everything she needs but will she allow herself to have him? Can she find a way to let her self be loved and to love in return? Is her past really a thing of the past or is she haunted by more than mere memories? I’m not telling. 

     The author has a very good grasp on how people come to be in abusive relationships and why it is hard for them to leave. She knows how hard it for survivors to not only trust others but to trust their own judgement when it comes to forming new relationships. She also understands exactly how abusers manipulate not only their victims and the people around them. She portrays abuse in a very realistic way. Her understanding of these matters turns a good story into a great story. Her writing allows readers to connect with Emma in a way that allows their heart to break for her, groan when she stumbles, cheer her on when she digs deep to find her strength to fight and fear for her when she is threatened. I look forward to reading more from Meyers as I am sure she is only going to get better. What is that? Is there steam, you ask? YES, yes there is! HEA? Read it and find out for yourself. 

The Shortstop by A.M. Madden


 This book blew me away in the best possible way. The friends to lovers story pulled me in from the first page and I had to read it in one sitting. Hot baseball player Quint and sweet, almost saintly Annie met as very young children and with each passing year, their relationship blossomed. They navigate their relationship better than most couples far older but even the best couples have problems. 

     Madden’s writing is outstanding. The tension builds in a way that allows readers to feel it but there are so many twists and turns that when things blow up, there is still shock value. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was proven wrong and I loved it! Even better, I could feel what the characters were feeling. I felt so connected and invested in Quint and Annie’s journey that when the bottom dropped out, I had to put the book down and cry on my husband’s shoulder for a few minutes.  Seriously. I really cried on his shoulder and he looked at me like I was insane. Madden didn’t just stab me in the heart, she twisted the knife several times and left me begging her to repair my broken heart. I won’t spoil it by telling you if she did but I will say that this book is a must have for any lover of epic love stories with a side of steaminess.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Kenna's Reverie by Claire Granger

Claire Granger delivers in Kenna’s Reverie

     The opening statement of the blurb for Kenna's I am going to disagree with the blurb and say that Kenna is not your typical single mom. At 27, she is the adoptive mom of five (yes, five) boys. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff and she handles the chaos around her beautifully and with a killer sense of humor. She understands her children’s issues and builds on their strengths while allowing them and even celebrating them just as they are. She is the kind of mom any kid would LOVE to have. In that sense, Kenna is far from your "pretty typical mom". Kenna’s also more than just a mom. As a woman, Kenna is like a lot of romance readers. As a full time romance book blogger, she has read more than her share of stories about sexy alpha males and true love. Kenna is content with the single life but she still wants what most women want. She wants her own sexy alpha male with a dirty mouth, healthy sex drive with a side of kink and a kind heart. For her, that man is a fantasy – until she meets him.

     Jax likes to keep things simple. He is not interested in relationships or kids, until he meets her.
     This novella is a quick read but it packs a comedic and sexy punch. The witty inner dialogue and banter are enough to make you laugh out loud. This book is at the top of my list when I need a quick read with lots of laughs. The steam factor is present but not graphic or vulgar. There is no forced drama but there are some touching moments between the adults and children. Speaking of the children, they are quite interesting and are worthy of their own books. Gage and Conner left quite the impression that there is more to them than meets the eye and I am hoping we will learn more about them in this series. There is a heck of a cliff hanger, so I am looking forward to the second book.