REVIEW: Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2), by Stephanie Perkins
Published September 29, 2011
Publisher: Dutton Books
Format: paperback, gifted
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket--a gifted inventor--steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.


It was past time for me to get caught up on this series. I had read Anna and the French Kiss months ago, and just hadn't gotten around to reading Lola and the Boy Next Door. With Isla and the Happily Ever After set to come out in only two weeks, I decided it was time. 

Lola is dating Alex and trying to forget her next door neighbor Cricket who left town two years earlier after hurting her terribly. Suddenly, Cricket returns along with his sister Calliope, and now Lola is forced to stop and examine her feelings, which turn out to not be as black and white as she thought they were. 

Cricket was just the absolute best book boyfriend in YA contemporary fiction I've ever met. He was funny and awkward and adorable and sweet. He cares about Lola so much and has so many different ways of showing it. Cricket is, by no means, perfect, which is actually, pretty perfect. He made mistakes in the past with Lola, and now he wants to set them to rights. He knows she now has a boyfriend, and despite his best efforts at remaining platonic, he soon realizes that's just not possible. He's honest with Lola about how he feels, which can't be easy for him. 

Lola, by contrast, is pretty much the opposite of Cricket. It was hard for me to relate to her in any way. I don't really understand her incredible desire to hide what she looked like underneath crazy clothes, gaudy accessories and wild wigs. It's obvious she has a wicked talent for design, which I actually loved. But, to me, design isn't covering yourself in so much stuff that you can't see the girl underneath.

On top of that, she spends most of the book in denial, stringing Cricket along, as well as Alex. Turns out, Alex was a jerk of the highest order anyway, but that's besides the point. I get that Lola was confused - that she was convinced that Cricket was her past and Alex was her future, despite every blaring warning inside her head to the contrary. Lola was not brave. She was definitely not perfect. 

I did love the ending very much. As Lola finally comes to realize who she really is and what she really wants, she makes the first mature decisions of the entire book. It was then that I built the first traces of respect for her. She gives of herself to help someone who had only ever done things to tear her down. She comes clean to Alex and finds closure. She also comes clean to Cricket and puts the ball firmly in his court, and is okay with that. And, she realizes that quirky is okay as long as you can continue to shine through it all. Now THAT is the kind of heroine I can get behind. 

I loved so much that we saw a lot of Anna and Etienne in Lola and the Boy Next Door. They are both back state-side, and it turns out that Cricket and Anna work at the same place. They forge a solid friendship, and Etienne and Cricket do the same, as they are staying on the same floor of the dorm at Berkley. Things were also set up quite nicely for all four of them to go back to Paris for Isla and the Happily Ever After. Stephanie Perkins is a fantastic writer and the stories she invents are compelling and interesting. I can't wait to see how it ends for all these beloved characters.  

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Teaching Roman (Good Girls Don't #2)


I'm so excited to be a part of the TEACHING ROMAN blog tour, organized by Inkslinger PR! Read on for my review, and don't forget to check out the other tour stops for more fun stuff!

Teaching Roman (Good Girls Don't #2), by Gennifer Albin
Published June 26, 2014
Publisher: self-published
Format: e-book, provided by the author and Inkslinger PR
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating: 3.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Jessica Stone has her life in perfect order until her perfectly boring boyfriend Brett puts things in perspective. So when she receives a call to action from her heartbroken best friend Cassie, she ditches her plans for Winter Break in gloomy Olympic Falls and sets off to Mexico for some fun in the sun.

Determined to use her oceanview to prep for her MCATS, she doesn't plan to run into anyone from Olympic State, least of all the cute communications prof she's been crushing on for a year. When he unexpectedly saves the day, the two are thrown together in a distinctly extracurricular activity.

Roman Markson doesn’t expect to run into anyone he knows from Olympic Falls while visiting his family in Puerto Vallarta, especially not a former student. Although Jess Stone has a way of catching men’s attention, a relationship with her is strictly off-limits. However, the rules feel less strict in Mexico, so they agree to a plan: one week in paradise and nothing more.

But avoiding each other back on campus is harder than they anticipated, especially when they can’t stay away from one another. Neither is sure what they have to learn—and lose—before life teaches them a lesson they’ll never forget.


Teaching Roman is all about that forbidden quasi-teacher/student romance that seems to work in some instances and not-so-much in others - for me, at least. The romance between instructor, Roman, and former student Jess actually worked well for me. There was tons of delicious sexual tension and the big secret of their forbidden relationship to ensure that stress and drama is always there. 

Jess is always planning her next move. She has big plans to go to med school, and when her lukewarm boyfriend proposes, she turns him down and runs away on vacation to Mexico while on break. It's there that she coincidentally runs into Roman Markham, an instructor and PhD candidate from her school. They start up a whirlwind romance that is easy in the tropics and near impossible when they return to reality. 

Roman's and Jess' relationship is pretty wonderful. Roman is attentive and sweet and a little mysterious. He seems to breathe life into Jess, which she really needed. Jess was so uptight and straightlaced. Roman convinced her to be crazy and let go. If he hadn't, she wouldn't have entertained the idea of starting something up with him. Kind of ironic, right?  Jess was reluctant to hook up with Roman because she was afraid she'd lose herself in him. Then, in the end, it was Roman who had second thoughts. 

Honestly, I had a bit of a problem with the beginning of Teaching Roman. It was obvious in the previous book, Catching Liam, that there was an instant attraction between Jess and Roman. When they see each other in the airport on the way to Mexico, you can tell that attraction is still there. Twenty-four hours later, they're falling into bed together and a week after that professing their love for one another. It seemed to happen so fast. It wasn't quite believable. 

We saw a lot of Liam and Jillian from the previous book, which made me happy. They are dealing with Liam having to return to Scotland and leave Jillian behind. I enjoyed the friendship between Jess and Jillian as much in Teaching Roman as I did in Catching Liam. They are the best of friends who do things that might initially piss off the other, but only because it's in her best interest. That is a real friend. 

The ending of Teaching Roman was left wide open in some aspects. The drama between Roman and Jess (and yes - of course there's drama. Happily ever afters never come easy, do they?) comes to a satisfying resolution (albeit a bit out of character for Jess), there are other aspects of the story that weren't really wrapped up as well as I would've liked. Presumably, we'll see the conclusion of those story lines come to an end in Cassie's book, which is next. 

Although the romance developed too quickly and the ending didn't wrap up as tightly as I would've liked, the story was sweet, the sex was hot and the characters were interesting. I can't wait to see how all three girls' stories come to an end. 

BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires #10)


Can you believe that we've arrived at the 10th Chicagoland Vampires book? Once again, I'm honored and super excited to be a tour stop for Chloe Neill's BLOOD GAMES (Chicagoland Vampires #10), and once again, I have two great giveaways for you, in addition to my review. Read on for all the deets!

Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires #10), by Chloe Neill
To Be Published August 5, 2014
Publisher: NAL
Format: e-ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult paranormal romance/urban fantasy
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) While Merit didn’t choose to become a vampire or Sentinel of Cadogan House, she vowed to fight for her House and its Master, and she’s managed to forge strong alliances with powerful supernaturals across Chicago. But even though Merit has had wild adventures, this may be her deadliest yet...

A killer is stalking Chicago, preying on humans and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs. The CPD hasn’t been able to track the assailant, and as the body count rises, the city is running out of options. Vampires and humans aren’t on great terms, but murder makes for strange bedfellows. Can Merit find the killer before she becomes a target?


It's pretty incredible to think about the fact that 10 books in, the Chicagoland Vampires series is still going strong. Each new addition continues to be amazing - I'm always looking forward to the next one. It seemed like my wait for Blood Games was exceptionally long, given the ending of Wild Things. But, finally, the wait is over.

Ethan is moving forward with his challenge for the right to rule the GP, and Merit continues to do what she does best - protect the citizens of Chicago from all the bad things. In this case, there's a serial killer on the loose and the killings have a paranormal ring to them. About the time Ethan, Merit and Jonah are called in by the CPD to help, things in the race for the GP start getting weird. Darius is acting strangely and Ethan is being blackmailed and he refuses to talk to Merit about any of it. Just when Merit thought they had their relationship figured out, she realizes that centuries of stubbornness can't be fixed that quickly. 

Blood Games had everything I love about this series. There was not one but two fantastic mysteries to be solved - first is that of who is killing the citizens of Chicago and displaying them in curious positions. Second is that of who is manipulating Darius into acting out of character. Chloe Neill does everything right in regards to the secrets and subterfuge. It was hard for me to figure out who the real culprits were and what drove them to their actions, and I love it when I can't see the ending coming until it's smacking me in the face. Details and clues are slowly brought to light around the ops room table and in off-site meetings between the Ombuddies and the vampires. The pacing is perfect. 

One of my favorite parts about Blood Games is that we got to see into the inner workings of Cadogan House more than we have in quite awhile. A lot of time is spent in the house as Ethan prepares for the response to his challenge of Darius' rule. We see Margot, Helen, Malik, and all the other vampires that make up Cadogan as they all rally around their Master. We see a lot of Luc and Lindsey in Blood Games too. Their relationship has also come a very long way since the beginning, and I love seeing them together now. 

But, Ethan and Merit are really why we all keep coming back, right? It's their relationship that has catapulted us through ten books now and keeps us begging for more. The fact that Merit - this vampire of barely a year - has completely changed this 400-year-old master is the stuff of romantic legends. It's clear at this point how much they both love and respect and adore each other. And, thankfully, those things don't negate relationship troubles. Ethan can still act like an ass. Merit can still be overbearing. And that makes me love them even more.  And, just because they are both now comfortable with their place in each other's lives doesn't mean that Chloe Neill skirts around the sexy times. There's this one scene... well, let's just say that Merit and Ethan don't do sleepy morning sex. Everything about them is passion and intensity, and thankfully it doesn't seem to be fading in the least.

We also see a lot more of Jonah in Blood Games. Ethan reluctantly relinquishes some of his partnering duties to Merit's RG partner, so the spotlight shone on Merit's and Jonah's working relationship, as well as on more of the inner workings of the RG. They've fallen into a very comfortable place where they work in synch with each other and don't shy away from snarking and teasing. Jonah's become one of my favorite side characters, and I hope we see more of him moving forward. I anticipate we will, since the absolutely CLV WORLD-SHATTERING ending to Blood Games will have foundation-shaking repercussions to the RG and all the vampire houses.

No, Blood Games didn't end like I thought it would, but wow. It was so much better than I had imagined. It's clear that Chloe Neill is writing for the long haul, as the world these amazing characters live in continuously shifts and changes, all for the better. If you were worried about the stories becoming flat and stagnant, have no fear. Chloe Neill knows just how to rock you and keep you eager for the next book so you can see what happens next. Ten books in, and I assure you, there is absolutely no sign of me ever abandoning this series.

Giveaways

Chloe Neill has graciously provided me with some awesome prizes to award to one lucky US winner. Fill out the Rafflecopter for a chance to win
  • A signed copy of WILD THINGS (Chicagoland Vampires #9)
  • A limited edition Cadogan House keychain
  • Chicagoland Vampires bookmarks, pens, and lanyard
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The fun doesn’t stop here. Want more chances to win? You can also enter the Blood Games Grand Prize Giveaway, which runs July 28  through August 8 on Chloe’s web site.

What is the Grand Prize Giveaway prize?
  • An engraved Cadogan House medal necklace
  • A Kindle Paperwhite
  • A complete set of Chicagoland Vampires Audiobook CDs (graciously provided by Tantor Audio)
  • A limited edition Cadogan House keychain
  • Chicagoland Vampires bookmarks, pens, and lanyard

Tour Schedule

Check out all the stops on the tour for chances to win other prize packages!

Monday, July 28 – Booklovers For Life | Finding Sanity In Our Crazy Life
Tuesday, July 29 – Nocturne Reads | Fangs, Wands & Fairy Dust | Krista’s Dust Jacket
Wednesday, July 30 – Reading on the Rocks | A Book Obsession
Thursday, July 31 – Professional Fangirls | Reading & Writing Urban Fantasy, Paranormal & Romance | Cere’s Book World
Friday, August 1 – Meredith’s Rambles & Babbles | Fallen for Books

Monday, August 4 – Tru Bookie’s Review
Tuesday, August 5 (Release Day) - Saucy Wenches | Literary Escapism | Vampire Book Club 
Wednesday, August 6 – Book Suburbia
Thursday, August 7 – Nomi’s Paranormal Palace | Between Fantasy & Reality
Friday, August 8 – Team Nerd Reviews

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Lick (Stage Dive #1)


The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

Lick (Stage Dive #1), by Kylie Scott
Published July 1, 2013
Publisher: Momentum
Format: e-book, purchased
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas’s plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure as hell never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is for certain, being married to rock and roll’s favourite son is sure to be a wild ride.


When I read the description of Lick, I was intrigued. First of all, it's the first book in a rocker series. Those who have been reading my reviews for any length of time know that I adore the rockers. They're my favorite type of "bad boy." But, a rocker who doesn't blink at getting married in Vegas to a good girl he barely knows? That's definitely out of character. 

When Evelyn wakes up from a nigh in which she got black-out drunk, she finds herself married to a hot hunk of a rock star, with no memory of ever meeting him. After the paparazzi gets a hold of the story, Ev's life is flipped upside down. David whisks her away until the annulment papers can go through, but in that time they spend there, Ev starts to get used to the idea of being David's wife. And she likes it. When they have to return to LA and the real world, though, Ev finds that her new resolve to be David's wife might not be enough to keep him in her life. 

David was awesome. I really was not a fan in the beginning. He acted like a complete jerk to Evelyn. He said and did some pretty awful things. Ev was convinced he hated her. I love relationships that start out rocky. There was no illusion of insta-love. David and Ev had to become friends before they could be spouses. Which was no small mountain to climb since David effectively torpedoed things from the get-go. 

But, Ev was even more awesome than David. She initially paints this picture of a meek door mat. But, when she is backed into a corner, Ev comes out swinging (sometimes literally). She doesn't care about fame or money, which is one of the biggest reasons why David was so attracted to her in the first place. And when things get hard, Ev tries to hold things together so badly. I felt for her so many times as she tried to maintain herself in all the weirdness that is David's life compared to her own. 

I liked how Lick introduced all the members of Stage Dive since we know they are what this series is going to be all about. There's Mal, the drummer, who is David's BFF and a total goof. He's the only other one who treats Ev well and seems to be David's voice of reason. There's also Jimmy, lead singer and David's brother, who is absolutely horrible. And finally Ben who is the bassist and a scary moody dude.

Lick was a quick read for me with lots of fun, steamy parts. It set things up nicely for the rest of the series, which I now cannot wait to read. Any series that starts off this good and features rock stars in each book cannot be a bad thing.

REVIEW: Hudson (Fixed #4)

Hudson (Fixed #4), by Laurelin Paige
Published July 8, 2014
Publisher: self-published
Format: e-book, purchased
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) "I can easily divide my life into two parts—before her and after."

Hudson Pierce has led a life few others could even imagine. With money and power at his fingertips, he's wanted for almost nothing. He's never experienced love, however, and he's seen few examples of it in his dysfunctional family. The ridiculous notion of romance has always intrigued him. He's studied it, controlled it, manipulated it, and has yet to understand it.

Until he meets Alayna Withers.

Now, the games he's played in his quest for comprehension can finally come to an end. Or are they just beginning?

Told from his point of view, Hudson fills the holes in his love story with Alayna Withers. His past and relationship with his long-time friend Celia is further revealed and light is shed on his actions during his courtship with Alayna. 


I freaking love companion books. Particularly from the guy's POV. I ate up Walking Disaster. Trust In Me. Unbreakable. When I learned about Hudson, I knew I had to have it. I loved the first three Fixed books, but there was a lot that I felt like I missed out on. Hudson was very much an enigma. So, the chance to get inside his head was a definite draw for me. And, I wasn't disappointed. 

The really awesome thing about Hudson was that it wasn't simply a retelling of the first three Fixed books from his POV. Hudson always claimed that he didn't have the ability to love someone. It seemed as if that was drilled into his head by his evil mother. And then there was his destructive relationship with Celia. Hudson switches from pre-Alayna to post-Alayna, and when you put the two halves together, we get a whole picture of who Hudson really is. 

Despite his destructive "games," when the reader gets Hudson's full backstory, it's hard to not feel a lot of empathy for him. It's clear that his parents were not nurturing and loving toward him. His mother tried to convince him that he was emotionless and loveless in an attempt to make herself feel better about her constant downward spiral. Although my opinion of Hudson had already risen by the end of Forever With You, by the end of Hudson, I was convinced the man could do no wrong. 

Celia, however, I didn't really think I could hate more. I was wrong. Hudson can claim all he wants that he made her who she became. It became clear when we see their history that there was always a kernel of wrongness about her that only became amplified after her failed relationship attempt with Hudson. Hudson merely encouraged what was already there. And seeing how she hatched plan after plan to drive other people - Alayna included - to the brink of despair was pretty infuriating.

On the other side of the story, though, I loved watching Hudson's and Alayna's relationship unfold through his eyes. There was a lot that was very surprising to me. When the story was told from Alayna's POV, I got the impression that Hudson was dragged along kicking and screaming for awhile before finally succumbing to the realization that he was in love with her. 

What is actually the case is a bit of instalove - crazy, right? It seems almost as if Hudson fell in love with Alayna from the moment he saw her. He seemed in it for the long haul. And, even more surprising, he admitted to himself that he loved Alayna long before he ever clued her in. It was shocking and delightful. It appeared that he only kept that nugget to himself so that he could more effectively manage Celia. Which, of course, ended up a big, fat fail. 

The epilogue was absolutely wonderful. It gave me the perfect sense of closure to this couple's story. Thank you, Laurelin Paige for giving we fans something I know I was clamoring for. This peek inside the complex and beautiful mind of Hudson Pierce was the absolute best way to finish his and Alayna's story. 

COVER REVEAL: Burying Water

I am absolutely thrilled to bring you the cover reveal for K.A. Tucker's BURYING WATER! BURYING WATER is a New Adult Romantic Suspense novel scheduled for release October 7th! This book will blow you away. Get. Ready.

Burying Water

Add BURYING WATER on Goodreads!

Burying Water, by K.A. Tucker
To Be Published October 7, 2014
Publisher:
Atria Books
Genre: 
new adult suspense
Buy Links: Amazon * Barnes and Noble * iTunes
 
(Synopsis)
The top-selling, beloved indie author of Ten Tiny Breaths returns with a new romance about a young woman who loses her memory—and the man who knows that the only way to protect her is to stay away. 


Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. 

Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him? 

Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried. The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.

About the Author

Author Photo K.A. Tucker was born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.      

Website ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Novel Goodreads ** Author Goodreads ** YouTube ** Pinterest ** Instagram

REVIEW, EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Come Back (Dirty, Dark & Deadly #2)


JA Huss is back with a new series and holy crap. It's hotter, grittier, and more dangerous than anything she's written before. Want to know more? There's lots of stuff here. Read my review, check out an excerpt and some teasers, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end. Oh yeah. And then go buy Come and Come Back.

Come Back (Dirty, Dark & Deadly #2), by JA Huss
Published July 21, 2014
Publisher: Science Future Press
Format: e-ARC, provided by the author
Genre: adult suspense romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) “Secrets keep the darkness alive,” Harper tells me. But that’s not how I see it at all. Secrets keep me alive. The truth is overrated. Honesty is never the best policy. And everything you know absolutely can hurt you.

The contracts I fulfill are just agreements. Death is a business deal. Secrets are currency in my world. I pay my debts with them. I feed on them. They ground me in the present and they promise me a future. I’ve lived a life filled with secrets for so long—I forgot what it’s like to… feel.

Until I saw Harper. Until I saw how beautiful she’s become. How perfect, and pure, and innocent of all the ugly that goes on around her. And that dirty promise I refused the night her father turned me into a killer twelve years ago is suddenly on the table again.

Harper can be mine. No—Harper will be mine. All I have to do is complete the mission.

Death is a business deal.

And I just shook his hand.


I'm learning that the Dirty, Dark & Deadly series is like an onion. Just when you think you get it - you know what's going on and who's on who's side and what everyone's motives are - JA Huss peels back another layer of OMG, and you realize, you didn't know squat.  



We met James Fenici, a.k.a. Six, a.k.a. Tet, in Come (or perhaps we met him earlier in some other book...???!!!) when he showed up at the beach claiming to know Harper and swept her off her feet and blew her mind. Then, he skipped out and didn't come back. In Come Back, Harper seeks out to find James, and find him she does. But not before he finds 13-year-old Assassin Smurf, Sasha. The three of them have individual goals that seem to intersect at different places. The question on all their minds is, are they all on the same side, fighting for the right things?


James is a stone cold assassin - one of The Company's best. At first glance, it doesn't seem as if anything can take him down. That nothing could penetrate his tough exterior, both literally and figuratively. Through the course of Come Back, we see that there are many facets to James Fenici. Yes, he is hard enough to threaten to kill a young teenager - repeatedly - and mean it. But, he's also soft enough to make the sweet life-altering promises to Harper that girls need to hear. James is an enigma, and I found myself wanting to learn more about him. I was (and still am) curious as to whether we were seeing the real James. He wears many faces, and it's hard to tell which one is true and which ones were masks. I'd like to think that he's the realest when he's with Harper.


Harper is a tough nut to crack. But, really, who can blame her? Her father had planned to hand her over to a man in exchange for his services, like she's a commodity. When she objected to that plan in her own special way and ran away, she effectively placed a price on her head too. It's no wonder that it's hard for her to trust James. We see Harper fighting her own mind and experience throughout Come Back. What she has seen and knows about The Company tells her that she shouldn't trust James when he says he loves her and wants to protect her. But, what she is feeling is a different story entirely. She just might love him too, and that scares the crap out of her because it throws her off her game. She's looking for her twin brother, and she didn't plan on anything or anyone getting in the way. Harper waffles between vulnerable and stalwart, and honestly, I loved both sides of her. It shows that she's strong but not unaffected by what's going on around her. 



And then there's Sasha - the Smurf, as James calls her. Sasha's the toughest for me to figure out. She doesn't act like a typical 13-year-old kid. She's more ruthless and brutal than James in some ways. Which makes her creepy and deadly. Even when she shed some tears and appeared affected by what's going on around her, it was hard to believe it was genuine. This girl is TOUGH. It made it hard for me to like her in any way, although she did crack me up from time to time. She didn't fear James at all, which is insane. And, her role in whatever it is she has going on was the most confusing and shrouded in the most amount of mystery. 

There's a lot going on in Come Back. A lot of secrets and lies and plots within plots - stories within stories. It's exciting and keeps you on the edge of your seat pretty much constantly. It may make your head explode as you try to decipher everyone's true motives. This isn't your typical love story. But, when so many stories are so very similar, that's okay. It's a welcome change. There might not be as many pretty words in Come Back, but it's still super hot. And, it's told in dual POV, so we get both James' and Harper's views on what's going on around them.

It would be best if you read Slack, Taut and Guns before starting the Dirty, Dark & Deadly series, although it's not essential. Those books will give you a lot of extrapolation on Sasha's back story, especially, and a little bit of James' too. It's an incredible story - what are you waiting for?

Excerpt


Merc picks up on the second ring too. I love consistency. “Jasus fucking Christ, where the hell have you been?”

“Traveling. You think I have hidden wormholes I can pop in and out of to get places or what?”

“Yeah, well, Twifter is not happy, asshole.”

“Twifter can kiss my ass. None of that shit this morning was me. But anyway, we’re here. Thanks for the beer.” I take a swig and let out a long, “Ahhh,” trying to piss off Merc, but that’s when I see the Smurf watching me from the jail cell up on the foyer terrace. “Call you later,” I say, and then I press end on the phone. “What the fuck you doing up there?”

“Who the hell were you talking to?” she snarls back.

“Merc.” I hold up my beer and give her a pretend cheers.

“Obviously that phone call was Merc. Before Merc, who the hell were you talking to?”

“My secretary.” She stares at me and then gets up and walks to the jail cell door. That little shit was sleeping up in that jail cell. What a freak. “Why? I ask her. “You got a problem with me making calls?”

She walks towards the steps and stops at the top. She’s all sweaty and flushed from the heat, and her hair is still wet from her earlier shower. The scratches from the thorn run-in this morning are still there, but now that the dried blood has been properly washed away, they are not so bad. She looks better and worse all at the same time. She looks unstable.

“When you make a call to an associate from a phone that’s supposedly not secure, a phone that had some cryptic message you tried to blame on me, then yeah. I have a big fucking problem.”

“Watch your fucking mouth around me, kid. Or I’ll smack the shit out of it.”

She reaches behind her and pulls out a gun and points it at me. “Is that right?”

“You better shoot me right the fuck now. Because if you don’t, I’ll kill you just for pointing that weapon at me.”

She reevaluates her target and decides on a spot above my head. Smurfette is clever. “Who were you talking to?”

I eye the diameter of the chamber on her weapon and guesstimate .40. “You sure you can handle that thing? It’s got a nice kick to it. And if you miss me, I won’t miss you.”

“I don’t miss. And I’ve been shooting this Glock for a while now. So I’ll happily take my chances. Now, who were you talking to?”

“I already told you. My secretary, checking for messages. And Merc, returning a call.”

“You were checking in. Who’s running this operation?”

“I thought you knew?”

She thinks about this for a few seconds. Gives it some consideration before she answers. “I know who I’m working for. I know who sent you to get me. And I don’t think we’re on the same side anymore.”

“That’s too bad then,” I tell her with a shrug of my shoulders. “I was just beginning to like you. I was starting to hope I wouldn’t have to kill you.”

“Funny,” she says with a coolness that sends a chill up my arm. “I was thinking the same thing.”

About the Author

JA Huss is the USA Today best-selling author of the Rook and Ronin series, the epic science fiction I Am Just Junco series, and hundreds of kid-friendly science books in subjects such as biology, physics, anatomy and physiology, astronomy, and forensics. She has an undergraduate degree in equine science and a master's degree in forensic toxicology. She has never taken a creative writing class and she hopes she never will.



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