March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten Books I Recently Added To My TBR

1. Last Kiss (Hitman #3), by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick - I finished Last Breath (Hitman #2) last week, and it was so good. I immediately added Last Kiss to my TBR, because I'm now completely caught up in this dangerous, fascinating world.

2. Two of Hearts, by Christina Lee - I'm a big fan of Christina Lee's Between Breaths series, so when I found out she wrote a standalone adult contemporary, of course I added it to my TBR.

3. Trust the Focus (In Focus #1), by Megan Erickson - I've heard nothing but amazing things about this book by Megan Erickson.

4. The Deal (Off Campus #1), by Elle Kennedy - The Deal seems to be the new adult buzz book of the moment. I keep seeing it being talked about on Twitter and Goodreads and Facebook. It sounds like something I would love, too. I'm in.

5. Riot (Mayhem #2), by Jamie Shaw - I read Mayhem earlier this month, and before I even finished, I had added Riot to my TBR. I can't wait to get Joel and Dee's story.

6. Hard As You Can (Hard Ink #2), by Laura Kaye - I met Laura Kaye last month, and now I'm on a quest to read as much by her as I can. I loved the first Hard Ink book - can't wait to continue the story.

7. A Dirty Shame (J. J. Graves #2), by Liliana Hart - Book one in this series was truly a surprise. I listened to the audio version, and really loved everything about it. 

8. Manwhore +1 (Manwhore #2), by Katy Evans - OMG - that cliffhanger!! Manwhore ended with me hanging on the edge of my seat. The wait until July will be brutal.

9. Struck From The Record (Record #4), by K.A Linde - I binge listened to K. A. Linde's Record series earlier this year. I was so excited to find out that Cole Maxwell is getting his own book! The details on this book are still sketchy, but I added it to my TBR so that I wouldn't forget about it.

10. Luck On The Line (On the Verge #1), by Zoraida Cordova - I recently found out that Zoraida Cordova, author of the YA Vicious Deep series has written a new adult series. Can I get a hell yeah?

March 30, 2015

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: On the Record (Record #2)

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.

On the Record (Record #2), by K. A. Linde
Published August 26, 2014
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Format: audiobook, purchased
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) For political reporter Liz Dougherty, election day—a day of looking toward the future and saying goodbye to the past—seems like a fitting time to start a new relationship. But feelings for her former flame still linger...

The sexy second book in bestselling author K.A. Linde’s Record series decides whether it’s better to pick up the pieces and move on...or to pick up right where you left off.

Oh for the love of angst everywhere. And I thought Off The Record (Record #1) was full of all the feels. Sheesh - On the Record had it beat by a mile. 

Liz is trying to move on after leaving Brady to his career. But despite all she does - throwing herself into her job as editor of the paper, taking Hayden on as her new boyfriend, avoiding all news of Brady at all costs - it's not enough. She can't shake the hold he has on her, and it appears that he has the same problem. But, what to do about it? And, does it even matter anymore?

I spent a lot of time while listening to On the Record frustrated and on edge. Brady, although a main character, is only very sporadically present in the first 75% of the book. The weird thing is, even though he isn't physically there, he's still very much present. He never is far from Liz's thoughts, and since the entire book is from Liz's POV, we hear a lot of thoughts about Brady. 

We as readers were sort of conditioned to root for Liz and Brady and their HEA. Despite Brady acting like a complete jerk in the first book, it was still something I wanted very badly. So, the fact that Liz spends most of the book together with Hayden was one of the biggest sources of my angst. I mean, Hayden was a nice guy and he really seemed to love Liz a lot. He was good to her in so many ways. So, why did I want her with the douchebag so much??! 

Sporadically throughout the book, and this book spans about a year and a half, Liz and Brady would run into each other. Every time that happened, the sexual tension and stress between them was palpable. It was clear that things between them were not done. It was clear they both still loved each other very much. Which just made me even madder that both of them were wasting their time dating other people. 

Most of the book was focused around Liz and her career path. She's been studying political journalism, and continues to do so, taking over as editor of the school newspaper in Hayden's place when he graduates and she becomes a senior. Despite her feelings for Brady, Liz is still very much focused on becoming a political reporter, and continues to follow local and national politics. I liked reading about everything Liz studies and all the possible directions she could go in once she graduates. This is a subject I don't see often in books, so it was unique and interesting. 

There wasn't nearly as much heat in On the Record as there was in book one. Things between Hayden and Liz don't reach that level until nearly halfway through the book because of her continued feelings for Brady. And, I have to give props to Liz for that - I'm glad she didn't totally lead Hayden on. She always held a part of herself back, and I think he knew that. 

The last 25% of the book, though, kept me absolutely riveted. I knew that something would happen to throw Liz and Brady back together again, but I had no idea what that thing would be. Hayden had always been so perfect and wonderful and Liz and Brady seemed resigned to spend their lives apart, despite their feelings for one another. It seemed an impossible thing. Once things were set in motion, though, I couldn't put the book down. The ending had my jaw dropping and tears coming to my eyes as pretenses fell away and hard truths were faced. 

The side characters of Clay and Savannah Maxwell were much more prominent in this book than in the first one. Clay especially is so hard to figure out. Is he truly such a bad guy, or is it all a facade erected for some personal protection? I know that eventually he will get his own book, and I truly look forward to learning more about him and his very weird relationship with Andrea. 

Once again, Natalie Ross delivered an incredible performance in her audio narration. The southern accent she adopts for most of the characters is so spot on. It's not too twangy - it's very subtle and doesn't distract from the story at all. Her intonation for Brady and Hayden were also really well done. 

I've already decided that I'll be listening to every single book in this series. I can't get enough, and I love the audio versions. K. A. Linde has created this awesome world with political intrigue and a crazy awesome love story that is standing the test of time. Such good stuff.   

March 27, 2015

2015 Audiobook Challenge - Quarterly Update

Once again this year I'm doing the Audiobook Challenge, hosted by The Book Nympho and Hot Listens. I do love my audiobooks. Since my office moved much closer to home, though, I don't spend nearly as much time with my earbuds as I would like.

For this year's challenge, I've lowered my expectations a bit.

Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you?) - 20-30

So far, in the first three months of the year, I've listened to nine audiobooks.

1. One Week Girlfriend (One Week Girlfriend #1), by Monica Murphy
2. Second Change Boyfriend (One Week Girlfriend #1), by Monica Murphy
3. Rusty Nailed (Cocktail #2), by Alice Clayton
4. Off the Record (Record #1), by K.A. Linde
5. On the Record (Record #2), by K.A. Linde
6. For the Record (Record #3), by K.A. Linde
7. Dirty Little Secrets (J.J. Graves Mystery #1), by Liliana Hart
8. Savage Awakening (Alpha Pack #2), by J. D. Tyler
9. Conviction (Club Destiny #1), by Nicole Edwards (currently reading)

I have discovered Luke Daniels. I KNOW. How have I not listened to anything narrated by him before now?? He was brilliant in his performances in One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend. I will definitely be seeking out more books read by him. He was definitely my favorite narrator of the quarter.

Yes, I binge listened to the Record series by K.A. Linde. Natalie Ross did a fantastic job narrating the entire series. But, more than that, I really got swept up in the story. I was finding excuses to sneak a ride in the car just so I could listen to a bit more. Those are the really good ones, you know?

Dirty Little Secrets was the big surprise of the quarter. Since it's Liliana Hart, I expected hot, sweaty, naked men. What I got was a fantastic mystery and quirky characters. And Laura Faye Smith was a wonderful narrator. It was completely unexpected and so much fun.

I'm looking forward to adding more awesome audiobooks to my list. What should I listen to next? 

March 26, 2015

REVIEW: Last Breath (Hitman #2)

Last Breath (Hitman #2), by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick
Publish Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Format: paperback, obtained from the publisher
Genre: adult suspense romance/crime/military
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Regan : I never really knew what misery was until the day I was kidnapped and sold for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two months later, I’m at a brothel in Rio when I meet Daniel Hays. He says he’s here to save me, but can I trust him? All I know of him are his sarcastic retorts and his tendency to solve every dispute with his gun. He’s also the only safe thing in my world, and I know it’s wrong to fall in love with him, but I can’t seem to help myself. He says he’ll protect me until his last breath, but I don’t know if I should believe him or even if I can.

Daniel: For the last eighteen months, one goal has dictated every action I’ve taken. I’ve left the Army, turned paid hit man, and befriended criminals all across the globe to find my kidnapped sister. In every brothel I raid and every human trafficking truck I stop, I hope the next face I find is my sister’s. In a hidden brothel in Rio, I find Regan Porter, bruised but not broken, and still sane despite her weeks in captivity. I should leave her behind or send her home, because the last thing either of us needs right now is to get involved. But with every passing minute, I find I’m less able to let her go.

At the end of Last Hit (Hitman #1), I really feared for Daisy's friend Regan. She was thrust into a horrendous situation through no fault of her own - wrong place, wrong time. And, because of it, she has spend months in the worst hell imaginable. I didn't know if I could like her story after everything that happened to her. How could anyone be happy and whole after all that? Luckily, Daniel Hayes is a force to be reckoned with. 

Regan spent months being raped in brothels in Russia and then Rio. Daniel gets her out with her mind still mostly intact, but still showing both outward and inward effects from her time in captivity. But, getting out of the country proves to be difficult. Daniel is in Rio for another mission, and he can't go home until it's completed. He has his hands full as he tries to complete his mission, and keep Regan safe from an evil man who wants her back.

This book was brutal. Last Breath is a dark book, no doubt about it. The things that Regan endures in the brothel in Rio were awful. The book opens in the middle of one such act, and it was shocking - like jumping into a freezing lake. You go from, "Oh, hey - what a hot cover..." to "OMG" in one flat second. But, as hard as that opening paragraph is, it was important in order to paint the kind of person Regan is. 

Regan is a fighter. That becomes Daniel's nickname for her, in fact. She retreats into her own thoughts during her rapes, and it has kept her mostly sane. You can't go through something like this though without any residual effects. Those become apparent as we move through the book. Daniel swoops in and saves her, and Regan attaches herself to him because of it, not being able to be out of his sight for barely a minute without panicking. It's tough to see such a fighting spirit struggle through the aftermath of what she went though. But, she keeps going, with the goal of getting home in mind. 

Daniel is a mercenary hitman, like Nick was. And, he's damn good at his job. His sister was also sold into the sex trafficking business, and he's in Rio to find and rescue her as well as Regan. Daniel is a man on a mission. He saves girls all over as he searches for his sister. Regan was one of many, and yet, she was unique to him. Her strength called to the strength in him. But, Daniel is honorable to a fault, and he knew Regan had been though hell at the hands of men. Despite his attraction to her, he wasn't going to be another in a very long line. So, he constantly denies himself for Regan's benefit. 

Oh, that man. It was absolutely impossible not to love Daniel. He was crude and short tempered and violent, and yet, there was something about him that you just had to love. Some of it was the way he cared so much about his sister. Some was how he went out of his way to try and make Regan more comfortable in even the smallest ways. And, a big part of it was how well he protected her. How passionate he was about that. 

Did I say passionate? Oh yeah. I totally meant that. Regan forms an extremely tight bond with Daniel, which ends up allowing her attraction for him to come through all the crap. For awhile Regan was worried that she'd never be able to appreciate men and sex again like she used to. Daniel graciously helps to alleviate her concerns. What a giving man. :) He treats her so well, though. And, after they get comfortable with each other, it turns out, he's a wild man in bed. As if I had any doubts about that. But, his affection and eventual love for Regan shine through in those times too, which makes them even better. 

Last Breath is told in dual POV. This is the perfect book for it too. Daniel would've been so hard to figure out without those glimpses at his thoughts. He really struggled with his feelings for Regan for a long time. It was awesome reading about him trying to work through them. 

There is some Nick and Daisy in Last Breath, but not a lot. The focus is definitely on Regan and Daniel as they struggle to find his sister and get all of them home. As one would expect from a man in his profession, the journey is fraught with problems and dangerous situations. Many people die violently in this book. It's not for the faint of heart. But, if you can handle the brutality, the love story woven though it makes all of it completely worth it. 

March 25, 2015

REVIEW: Protecting Fate (Serve #6)

Protecting Fate (Serve #6), by Katee Robert
Publish Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Format: e-ARC, obtained from the publisher
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) He’ll keep her safe…but who will protect her from him?
Fixer Sara Reaver is in serious trouble. She’s stepped on the wrong toes, and now her uncle is sending her out of the city in an effort to keep her safe—and he’s assigning her a glorified babysitter. The last person she expects to show up is the gorgeous Z, or for him to tempt her and then reject her in the space of a single night. Twice. Now she’s out to prove to him just how good they’d fit up together in every way imaginable.

Mercenary Z Loreto hates protection jobs, but he’s willing to make an exception for his best friend’s little sister. The only problem is she calls up things he’s been doing his damnedest to keep under wraps for the last seven years. But when she pushes him too far, it all comes rushing to the fore, and the fact she’s willing to submit to his every desire only makes the loss of control sweeter.

Sara and Z have a boatload of issues between them, but they’re sure they can make things work if they take it one day at a time… Right up until things spiral beyond their control. Now Z’s playing for keeps in a big way, and Sara’s got to decide if a chance at true happiness is worth the risk of repeating history.

Protecting Fate is another sexy addition to the Serve series, where the men are dominant, the women are headstrong and sexy times are plentiful. As for me, I’m such a sucker for those alpha male protectors, so Z really revved my engines.

Protecting Fate had a bit different vibe from the other Serve books, because most of it took place away from the actual club. Sara, who is Garrett and Will’s little sister, has gotten herself into some hot water, and her family decides to send her away to hide out with a protector until things die down. Independent woman that she is, Sara is flatly against this move, that is, until she gets a look at her bodyguard. Z calls to her in ways that both thrill and terrify her – both of them, actually. Because how can either of them do what needs to be done when they feel this way?

Although being surrounded by family who loves her, I got the impression that Sara has lived a lonely life. Because of some relationship missteps in her past, she has set some very rigid boundaries in regards to men. No sleepovers. No fourth dates. No sharing. Sara calls it self-preservation, but it’s really just a very organized avoidance tactic.

Z absolutely blows through her boundaries one by one, some inadvertently and some on purpose. Initially, he’s hesitant to start anything with Sara, despite his insane attraction to her and her obvious willingness to do pretty much whatever he wants (within her own box, of course). She is the little sister to a man he deeply respects, and he doesn’t want to do anything to screw up his relationship with Garrett.

But, fate has another plan for both Z and Sara. Although it took her awhile, I loved when Sara reached the point where she started questioning those rules she lives her life by. She’s obviously a strong woman – capable, intelligent and compassionate. It was hard for her to shift the parameters of her life for Z, thereby putting trust in him along with the ability for him to stomp all over her heart.

For his part, Z has some reservations of his own, stemming back to some truly heinous acts by his ex-wife several years earlier. I find it interesting that in Z’s and Sara’s relationship, the traditional roles were reversed a bit. Because a lack of communication in his past destroyed many of the things he loved, he is adamant that Sara always talk to him about what she wants and feels. Sara is the one who wants to keep things bottled up – she’s not used to having actual meaningful conversations with her lovers.

Just when Sara and Z seem to be on the right track, her time in seclusion ends, and both of them are sent back to the real world. On top of that, another huge complication is thrown in their path, and with Sara’s commitment issues, I was left wondering for awhile if there was any way these two were going to be able to get their stuff straight. It made for a wonderfully angsty ending.

Protecting Fate is told in third person, so we get the benefit of both Sara’s and Z’s POVs. And, thank goodness for that. I loved Z so much, and his head was a beautiful place to be. Despite only a teeny portion of the book taking place actually inside Serve, there was plenty of sexy action to be had. Both Z and Sara are on the adventurous side, and although some other Serve books have delved more into the fun kinky stuff, there was enough here to still satisfy. I will never look at my pretty candles in the same way again.

March 24, 2015

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Manwhore (Manwhore #1)

Manwhore (Manwhore #1), by Katy Evans
Publish Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: e-ARC, obtained from the author
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) Is it possible to expose Chicago’s hottest player—without getting played?

This is the story I've been waiting for all my life, and its name is Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint. Don’t be fooled by that last name though. There’s nothing holy about the man except the hell his parties raise. The hottest entrepreneur Chicago has ever known, he’s a man’s man with too much money to spend and too many women vying for his attention.

Mysterious. Privileged. Legendary. His entire life he’s been surrounded by the press as they dig for tidbits to see if his fairytale life is for real or all mirrors and social media lies. Since he hit the scene, his secrets have been his and his alone to keep. And that’s where I come in.

Assigned to investigate Saint and reveal his elusive personality, I’m determined to make him the story that will change my career.

But I never imagined he would change my life. Bit by bit, I start to wonder if I'm the one discovering him...or if he's uncovering me.

What happens when the man they call Saint, makes you want to sin?

Oh this book... it kept me on edge and frustrated the living daylights out of me pretty much constantly. One of the worst feelings is when you are reading a book and an overwhelming sense of apathy is blatantly apparent. You don't really care one way or the other about the characters, the story or whether everything works out okay for anyone in the end. Apathy was definitely not a word I would use to describe my feelings as I was reading MANWHORE. So, that constant frustration I mentioned? It's a good thing. 

Rachel Livingston is a writer for a small magazine that is about to fold unless it can print an explosive expose. As such, Rachel is handpicked to woo Chicago's most eligible bachelor - the billionaire manwhore himself, Malcolm Saint. She's charged with getting into his pants and his mind and then writing about it all. But, the closer Rachel gets to Malcolm Saint, the more she realizes that Chicago has no idea who he really is. And, she may just want to keep that information to herself. 

If I'm going to be honest, Rachel was the source of most of my irritation as I was reading Manwhore. I get her situation. She loves her job and doesn't want to lose it. So, she takes this assignment thinking that Malcolm Saint is just a douchey player who throws his money around to get what he wants. She has no issues exposing him, especially if it means she gets to save not only her job but the jobs of all the others working on the magazine as well. Rachel has a very strong work ethic and a creative mind, and I admired that. 

I am in love with stories. How they shape our lives. How they mark people who don't even know us. How they can impact us even when an event didn't exactly occur in our own lives.

With every meeting with Saint, however, Rachel starts to figure out that there is a very specific reason why Chicago knows very little about this man. The people in the city only know and see what he wants them to know and see. It's very obvious that there is a lot to this man. There are so many layers, and he has ensured that 99% of the world only know the very top-most layer - the one he can control the most. 

"I'm not endearing to people, Miss Livingston. I'd say people respond to me on four levels and four levels only: They want to pray to me, be me, do me or kill me."

Rachel starts to see through this facade that Saint has built, and it starts messing with her head. It was at this point that I wished so much I could reach into the book and shake some freaking sense into this woman. She waffled so much between wanting to be with him just as a woman who wanted him and the reporter who was only with him for a story. She knew those two sides of her didn't mesh, and she didn't know which one to give more weight. One moment she decided that what she was doing was wrong, and that she was starting to feel real things for this man and didn't want to sell him out.

I want him so deep I'll end up broken. I want to forget there are a million reasons why this isn't a good idea - because it doesn't matter if it's good or even right, only that I give my body what it wants. And all I want right now is looking down at me as if he wants to give it to me too. 

The next moment, she decides they are too different, and she feels guilt weighing on her because of the people at her magazine that are dependent upon her and her story for keeping their jobs.

"We don't fit," I say. "I just want to find a spot warm not cold, with a nice view, everything I could want, and I want to stop moving and stay there - in that spot. And you will never stand still."

The question though the entire book is which path will Rachel take. And, what will Malcolm say if and when he finds out why she sought him out in the first place.

Did you see my interview with Katy Evans? Check it out and then enter the giveaway to win a copy of Manwhore (US only)!

March 23, 2015

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Mayhem (Mayhem #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.

Mayhem (Mayhem #1), by Jamie Shaw
Published January 20, 2015
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Format: paperback, purchased
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) When college freshman Rowan Michaels meets gorgeous, up-and-coming rock star Adam Everest, she knows a player like him is the last thing she needs after her ex-boyfriend shattered her heart. But she can't stop thinking about the kiss they shared on his tour bus.

On the first day of school, Rowan is stunned when Adam saunters into her French class. He's soon failing miserably, and, on a whim, she offers to tutor him. But Adam doesn't recognize her as a makeup-free, glasses-clad college student—a far cry from the beautiful, mysterious "Peach" he met at his concert.

During a wild weekend on tour with the band, Rowan can't help falling for the sweet guy buried beneath Adam's rocker persona. Yet she knows she could never compete with the girls constantly throwing themselves at his feet. She'd just end up hurt … again.

Peach is all Adam thinks about, though, and when Rowan realizes this, she has a decision to make: stay just friends to protect her fragile heart … or reveal the truth about the night they met and admit she's fallen completely, hopelessly in love with him.

Some of the best books I've read have been because of friends' recommendations. I hadn't even heard of new author Jamie Shaw until she showed up on the list of Apollycon authors. Then, my bestie Jen read her debut book Mayhem, and started talking to me about how much she loved it. Honestly, all I needed to hear was three words, and I was sold - rockers and new adult. Jen's endorsement just made it a sure thing.  

Rowan thought she was doing everything right. She was getting ready to start her freshman year at college. She was living in an apartment with her long-time boyfriend who had promised her the world. Then one night her crazy BFF Dee talks her into going to a local concert where everything gets turned upside down. Or, maybe everything goes right for once - it all depends on how Rowan chooses to look at things. 

Rowan is a unique character. She's only 18 and just starting college. She's been with the same guy for three years and barely gotten to second base with him (his choice, not hers). She seems to have led a pretty sheltered life, not entirely of her own choosing. She thought she was making the choices she needed to in order to be happy and obtain her life goals and all that stuff. Then, one night, absolutely everything changes for her. And, rather than try anything she could to get that vision back, as I initially thought she might, Rowan moves forward trying to make a new plan for her life. 

Rowan has this pretty cool connection with rocker and quasi-celebrity Adam Everest. And, she just so happens to meet him the night she finds out her douchebag boyfriend has been cheating on her. Adam doesn't learn her name that night. He only knows that she wasn't just another groupie. And she's the only girl to ever turn him down. That makes her... real. And so much more interesting than all those brainless twits that only want Adam for his money and power. 

Rowan and Adam have such a sweet relationship. They are genuinely friends, and I don't think that's something that Adam has any of with females. Their times together the weekend that she has to tutor Adam on his tour bus were some of my favorite parts of the book. They were goofy and snarky and real with each other. Rowan seems to fit in so well with all the band members. She becomes kind of like an honorary little sister to all of them (except Adam, of course), and they step up to protect her and have her back more than once. Every time they all did that, I fell completely in love with each one of them. 

Eventually, Rowan and Adam have to return to the real world and deal with the fall-out of all their decisions. Adam has to go back to French class. Rowan has to deal with her ex once and for all. And Rowan and Adam have to come to a place that they can live with, whether that's keeping things in the friend zone, or going outside of it, where we all know they'd be great. 

Through all of it, Rowan's two friends Dee and Leti are her sounding board, just like Shawn, one of Adam's bandmates, is his. Things are set up nicely for Riot, book two in the series, which will focus on Dee and another band member, Joel. I look forward to reading about them, not only because their relationship intrigues me, but because I know it means we'll see a lot more of Rowan and Adam. 

The only thing I think Mayhem was lacking was Adam's POV. He was sort of hard to figure out for awhile, and I would've loved to have known what was happening in his head and in his world when Rowan wasn't around. When Adam was surrounded by groupies, there were times I thought he loved it and times I thought he hated it. Getting his take on his life, such as it is, and especially on Rowan and what he thought about her when he first met her and gave her the nickname "Peach," would've been so fun. Maybe we readers can talk Jamie into a few bonus scenes sometime, hm? 

For sure, Jamie Shaw is on my radar now. Mayhem was a quick and fun read, with not a lot of drama or angst or sweaty sex. It was light and just what I needed after a string of pretty heavy books. I can't wait to get my hands on Riot!

March 20, 2015

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Dirty Little Secrets (J. J. Graves Mystery #1)

Dirty Little Secrets (J. J. Graves Mystery #1), by Liliana Hart
Publish Date: December 4, 2012
Publisher: Createspace
Genre: adult crime/suspense
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) J.J. Graves has seen a lot of dead bodies in her line of work...

She's not only in the mortuary business, but she's also the coroner for King George County, Virginia. When a grisly murder is discovered in the small town of Bloody Mary, it's up to J.J. and her best friend, Detective Jack Lawson, to bring the victim justice.

The murders are piling up...

The residents of Blood Mary are dropping like flies, and when a popular mystery writer shows up on J.J.'s doorstep with plans of writing his new book about the Bloody Mary Serial Killer, J.J. has to decide if he might be going above and beyond the call of duty to create the spine tinglers he's so well known for. It only clouds the issue and puts her reputation on the line when the attraction between them spirals out of control.

And passions are rising...

J.J and Jack are in a race against time. They discover each victim had a shocking secret, and the very foundation of J.J.'s life is in danger of crumbling when it turns out she’s harboring secrets of her own—secrets that make her the perfect victim in a deadly game.

After a string of new adult and adult audiobooks, I wanted something different. I had heard good things about Liliana Hart's J. J. Graves Mystery series, and when I saw it was on sale, I decided that a good mystery was just what the doctor ordered. Not to mention the fact that it's Liliana Hart - I love her MacKenzie Family series. 

The thing is, Dirty Little Secrets is completely different from Liliana Hart's other series. J. J. Graves is a completely different heroine. It was a fun departure from what I've been listening to as of late. The characters in this book would be enough for me. They're all interesting and quirky and so full of color and life. But, in addition to the awesome characters, there's a twisty mystery that kept me guessing through the entire story. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was shocked to find out I didn't. 

J. J. Graves is the medical examiner/coroner/funeral director in the small town of Bloody Mary, VA. In such a small town, her life isn't all that interesting, even with all the hats she has to wear. That is, until people start getting murdered. Then she and her best friend, the town sheriff Jack, have entirely too much to do. 

Dirty Little Secrets really had it all. First, there's a fantastic mystery. One person dies, and you think you know who did it. But, as J. J. and Jack start their investigation, things don't exactly fall into place that neatly. Because, then another person dies. And, once again, you think you have it all figured out. And by the time the third murder occurs, you just throw your hands up and abandon all theories, because every one you come up with is thwarted. 

I love mysteries like this. The ones where the who-dun-it sneaks up on you. They're thrilling and they give my brain a work out. 

There's also the characters. J. J. is hysterical and cynical and snarky. I love her relationship with her bestie Jack. They've been friends since they were kids and they've been there for each other through all the bad things. Their relationship is unique and special. They go through some more tough times in this book, but you just know that they'll come together again. 

Despite the heat we see in Liliana Hart's other books, it's not in Dirty Little Secrets. J. J. has a bit of a romance, but any sexy times are all non-descript and fade-to-black. The focus of the story is truly on the mystery at hand, as well as the mystery surrounding what really happened to J. J.'s parents. 

Laura Faye Smith did a fantastic job narrating Dirty Little Secrets. Her intonation and inflection were perfect for all the characters in the story. This was a fantastic audiobook, and a pretty short one too. At less than six hours long, it can be finished quickly. I'm really looking forward to listening to the other books in this series, especially given the events at the very end of this book. I have a feeling some really good things are in store for J. J.

March 18, 2015

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Pocketful of Sand

It's here, and OMG you guys - POCKETFUL OF SAND is incredible! Check out my review, and then enter the equally incredible giveaway from M. Leighton!

Pocketful of Sand, by M. Leighton
Publish Date: March 15, 2015
Publisher: self-published
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

(From Goodreads) “She’s beauty for my ashes. And I’m hope for her heartache.”—Cole Danzer.

I don’t know what makes a great love story. Is it that instant attraction when boy meets girl? The passionate kisses and the fairy-tale ending? Or is it a lifetime of tragedy, paid in advance, for a few stolen moments of pure bliss? The pain and the suffering that, in the end, you can say are worth it for having found the missing piece of your soul?

The answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know what makes a great love story. I only know what makes my love story. I only know that finding Cole when I did, when Emmy and I were running from a nightmare, was the only thing that saved me. That saved us. He was more broken than I was, but somehow we took each other’s shattered pieces and made a whole. If that is what makes a great love story, if that is what makes an epic romance, then mine…ours is the greatest of them all.

Michelle Leighton does it again with POCKETFUL OF SAND. This story... holy cow. It was absolutely heartbreaking. But, there was this thread of hope wound tightly through every page and every interaction between the characters. I caught that thread and followed it through all the hard stuff to the end.

Cole is a loner in a small town in Maine. He doesn't interact with anyone in the town, and his rugged good looks combined with the mystique make him a popular topic of conversation and a target of single women. Eden and her 6-year-old daughter Emmy come to town with just as many secrets and an equally strong aversion to strangers. Despite their desire to remain separate and single, neither Cole nor Eden can stay away from each other. The weight of their secrets can be crushing though, and it's up to them to decide to whether sharing them is worth it. 

It's apparent from the very beginning that the secrets that Eden and Cole each have are not your typical, run-of-the-mill new adult book secrets. The nature of them is not known immediately, but you catch glimpses here and there that slowly shed light on their situations. I guessed Cole's secret pretty early on. And, it absolutely broke my heart. He's been suffering from a severe and crushing loss for a long time, and he just can't get past it. The ways in which he honors that loss are poignant and sweet and so, so sad. It also explains a lot about why he's so anti-social.

Eden's secret, however, was mind-blowing. And absolutely infuriating. I wanted some justice for her and her little girl in the worst way. Through little clues throughout the beginning of the book, you can guess at some of what happened to her, but I promise you, when the whole story is revealed, you will need a friend to rage and rant and scream to. Because, her reality is so much worse that what my mind had conjured up. 

Eden and Cole were so amazing together. It wasn't easy for them to come together since they were both still recovering from the demons from their pasts. And, Eden had Emmy to think about too. Starting a new relationship with a daughter adds a whole additional layer of complication. I loved how both Cole and Eden were with Emmy, though. 

The ending of their story was incredibly satisfying as we saw both Eden and Cole reveal their secrets to one another and then beat the crap out of them for good. It was a hard battle, but their love for one another gave them strength. 

I have to give big props to Michelle Leighton for thinking outside the box with Pocketful of Sand. She puts a completely different and unique twist on the ending so that a door is opened for a second book. I can't tell you too much more without giving it all away, but rest assured, you will be surprised and intrigued. I'm very much looking forward to the second book so that I can find out more. 

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March 17, 2015

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Shaken, Not Stirred (Last Call #5)

I LOVELOVELOVE Sawyer Bennett's Last Call series. There hasn't been a single book in this series that hasn't exceeded my expectations, and SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED, is included in that assessment. I'm excited to be a part of the tour for this book, organized by AToMR Tours. Don't forget to check out the other stops besides mine!

Shaken, Not Stirred (Last Call #5), by Sawyer Bennett
Publish Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Big Dog Books, LLC
Format: e-ARC, obtained from the tour organizer
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Casey Markham is a man-eater in a rut. Swearing off relationships may keep her heart safe, but she's beginning to question if her casual flings will ever leave her satisfied. She's wondering if it's finally time to let go of the past and stop letting history control her future.

Bad boy biker, Tenn Jennings can't get Casey off his mind. A chance encounter with the beautiful blond has left its mark, and now he's determined to prove her wrong about everything she thought she knew about men.

It’s safe to say… Casey Markham has met her match. 

Oh, Casey, Casey, Casey. (Imagine me sitting here shaking my head.) This girl needed a miracle. Her friends have all become card-carrying members of the Love Club, and Casey is convinced it will never happen for her. She doesn't want it. But, that was before a gorgeous biker saved her bacon along the side of the road one beautiful day... and changed everything. 

Tenn Jennings is the best kind of bad boy. He looks like one, but he's the furthest thing from bad. This guy... He is about as close to perfect as you can get. He's gorgeous. He's smart. He's considerate. He's a family man. And he's fantastic in bed - complete with a filthy mouth. Tenn has a 14-year-old daughter who I loved. And I loved how Tenn was with Zoey.

Casey did not make things easy for Tenn. Not. At. All. A bad experience with her first love swore her off love and relationships forever. Instead, she seeks out meaningless connections that fulfill only the base needs. She's seen her brothers and her friends find love, but Casey doesn't want to open her heart up again to the possibility of getting hurt. But, at her first meeting with Tenn, the sparks fly, and neither of them can deny the connection they feel. 

The best part about Shaken Not Stirred is watching Tenn break Casey down. He knew just the right speed at which to push her so that she didn't get scared away, but she also wasn't forced to stay inside the box she created for herself. Tenn gradually wore her down, and the new Casey was SO much more awesome than the Casey we see in the beginning of the book. Casey falters a few times along the way, so the journey is not without its bumps. Neither Tenn nor Casey always handle things the way they should, but no one situation was over dramatized just for the sake of angst manufacturing. They have their issues, they talk about them, they work through them and they move on. Perfect. 

I loved how open and honest Casey and Tenn were with one another. Even when Casey made some stupid decisions along the way, she always told Tenn about them. She never lied to him, and I really did appreciate that. Tenn, on the other hand, keeps a very big secret from Casey until nearly the very end, when he's forced to come clean due to a major event in his life. And, I have to again give Casey props - she handles the revelation of this secret with a ton of class and style. It proved how far she had come.

The only thing about Shaken Not Stirred that gave me pause was the reason why Casey had become the man-eater she was when Tenn met her. This one event when she was 18 was really not a big deal to me. It was hard for me to believe that it caused such a monumental shift in Casey that lasted for so many years. 

Despite that, there was SO much to love in Shaken Not Stirred. I hope you'll give it a try. 
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Sawyer Bennett is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Sawyer is the author of several contemporary romances including the popular Off Series, Cold Fury Series, the Legal Affairs Series and the Last Call Series.

Learn more about Sawyer Bennett --> Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

March 16, 2015

An Interview With Katy Evans

Get ready, because Katy Evans, the wicked awesome talent that created Remington "Riptide" Tate, is back with a new man in a new city and a whole new set of problems. MANWHORE debuts on March 24. Get ready world, because Malcolm Saint is coming. Read on for a special interview with Katy Evans about this new series and what we can expect from it. Then, if you live in the US, you can enter to win a copy!

Thank you so much for talking with me today, Katy. I can imagine this is an exciting time for you, as you get ready to launch a brand new series. Back when you were getting ready to publish REAL, did you ever see yourself here? What has been the biggest surprise to you in your career so far?

Hey Krista! Thanks so much for having me today. Oooh, yes, I can't tell you how excited I am to share this new series. It holds a very deep spot in my heart and I'm hoping the readers will open up theirs and let themselves be just as enchanted as I was by this new couple!

I admit I am not much of a planner; I try to live in the present and take the future as it comes. So I never imagined this moment. Back when I self-published Real in 2013, I was blown away by all the book love I received and never, in my wildest dreams, did I expect that I'd be able to continue writing and sharing my stories with all of you. I'm truly blessed: thank you so SO much to everyone who has picked up one of my books.

Your readers are very familiar with Remy. In what ways is the Manwhore himself, Malcolm Saint, different from Remy? Are they at all the same?

I always try to be truthful to each of my characters and am proud that all of my heroes are different in their own way, but all very sexy. Saint has some similar traits to Remy: he's a man who knows what he wants and goes after it relentlessly. He's also a man who's a little bit misunderstood (but in a different way than Remy is.) Other than that, Saint is his own person and he truly won over my heart in the same way Remy did. I hope readers enjoy him like I do! :)

Describe Rachel Livingston, Manwhore’s heroine, in five words.

Hardworking. Self-contained. Modern. Inexperienced. Innocent.

How many books are planned in the Manwhore series? Will they all be about Malcolm and Rachel?

The first books will be about Malcolm and Rachel and I'm hoping to continue with stories for some of their friends. :d

Of your leading men so far – Remy, Greyson, Kenna, and Malcolm – which one most closely resembles your perfectly ideal book boyfriend?

I love my boys! I love them all so its hard to choose. They all have qualities I admire in a man and they all have flaws which endear them to me. Each of them has a huge chunk of my soul. But if I had to choose, the one I most love is always the one I'm currently "dating" which means, my favorite is always the one I'm writing at the time. He's always on top - the one consuming my mind and my heroine's heart.

So far you’ve written about characters in so many different professions – fighter, rocker, physical therapist, business man – the list goes on. How do you research your characters’ lives so that they come across so realistically? Was Rachel easier to write since she’s a writer of sorts?

Rachel is my favorite heroine to date. She is balanced and methodical, has clear goals about who she wants to be and where she's going, and she came across very clearly in my mind. I also love living in her world. I LOVE being in her shoes and feeling seduced by her man!

As for research, I am simply a very curious person. Sometimes between books I read autobiographies and investigate a topic until exhaustion. I love learning about new things, lifestyles, professions. I love to learn.

Does your husband read your books? How about your parents?

My husband isn't a big reader. He's my complete opposite in that respect. I'm dreamy; he's all facts. But we work! We've been married for 19 years and I still love him like a teenager. He's my rock, and I love that without reading a single word I write, he always assures me with a certainty that nobody can write my story better than me. :)

My mother does read my books sometimes. She's very proud. (Or so she says!) :d

One final question. Rollercoasters – yay or nay?

Used to be yay, but not anymore. My adrenals can't take them anymore! :)

Thank you so much, Katy, for taking the time to answer my questions about you and your new Manwhore series. I’m so excited to see what else you have planned for us!

Thanks so much for having me, Krista! I loved spending time with you today. :) XO

Katy Evans grew up with books and book-boyfriends until she found a real sexy boyfriend to love. They married and are now hard at work on their own happily ever after. Katy loves her family and friends, and she also loves reading, walking, baking, and being consumed by her characters until she reaches “The End.” Which is, hopefully, only the beginning…
Interested in owning a copy of MANWHORE by Katy Evans for yourself? If you live in the US, enter the giveaway below, and a copy could be yours!

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March 15, 2015

RELEASE DAY: Pocketful of Sand

M. Leighton is an incredible author, and today she adds to her expanding list of incredible books with the release of POCKETFUL OF SAND. This book will affect you in some big ways. I can't wait for everyone to read it.

Pocketful of Sand, by M. Leighton
Publish Date: March 15, 2015
Publisher: self-published
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

(From Goodreads) “She’s beauty for my ashes. And I’m hope for her heartache.”—Cole Danzer.

I don’t know what makes a great love story. Is it that instant attraction when boy meets girl? The passionate kisses and the fairy-tale ending? Or is it a lifetime of tragedy, paid in advance, for a few stolen moments of pure bliss? The pain and the suffering that, in the end, you can say are worth it for having found the missing piece of your soul?

The answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know what makes a great love story. I only know what makes my love story. I only know that finding Cole when I did, when Emmy and I were running from a nightmare, was the only thing that saved me. That saved us. He was more broken than I was, but somehow we took each other’s shattered pieces and made a whole. If that is what makes a great love story, if that is what makes an epic romance, then mine…ours is the greatest of them all.

Check back here on Wednesday for my review and an awesome Pocketful of Sand giveaway!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author M. Leighton is a native of Ohio. She relocated to the warmer climates of the South, where she can be near the water all summer and miss the snow all winter. Possessed of an overactive imagination from early in her childhood, Michelle finally found an acceptable outlet for her fantastical visions: literary fiction. Having written over a dozen novels, these days Michelle enjoys letting her mind wander to more romantic settings with sexy Southern guys, much like the one she married and the ones you’ll find in her latest books. When her thoughts aren’t roaming in that direction, she’ll be riding horses, swimming in ponds and experiencing life on a ranch, all without leaving the cozy comfort of her office.


March 13, 2015

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Off the Record (Record #1)

Off the Record (Record #1), by K.A. Linde
Publish Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Format: audiobook, purchased
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) Liz Dougherty has no idea a single question is about to change her life.

Her first big reporting assignment for her North Carolina college newspaper has her covering a state senator’s impromptu press conference. Brady Maxwell may have everything it takes to be a politician—a winning pedigree, devastating good looks, a body made to wear suits—but his politics rub Liz the wrong way. When Liz’s hard-hitting question catches the upstart senator off-guard, it impresses Hayden Lane, Liz’s editor who feels she’s headed for a promising career as a reporter.

But Liz is also headed into a secret romance with Brady that could destroy both their ambitions. Though he’s a bachelor, potential voters might frown on Brady cozying up to a reporter. And Liz isn’t sure sneaking around is enough for her—especially when things between her and Hayden might be less platonic than she thought.

Sleek, sexy, and smart, Off the Record ventures into a high-stakes campaign and an even higher-stakes affair to answer the question: When politics and love collide, can there ever be a winner?

Oh my - this book stressed me out. Like, I looked like a crazy woman while grocery shopping, as I'm comparing jars of spaghetti sauce and muttering out loud, "What the eff? I can't believe you just did that. NO! STAAAAAP! Don't do it AGAIN!" THAT kind of stress. You know what I'm talking about. 

In Off the Record, Liz Dougherty enters into a hot and heavy relationship with a state senator running for congress. Problem is, she's a reporter, and those two things don't mix well. Can you say conflict of interest? Brady Maxwell has made it crystal clear that his career will always come first anyway. So, they keep their fling a secret - one that becomes harder and harder to keep as their feelings intensify. 

I had Off the Record on my TBR for months before I decided to spend my monthly Audible credit on it. You know I love audiobooks as much as I love new adult romance, so it seemed like a good idea. In theory, it was. The narrator for this book was perfect. The story takes place in North Carolina, which is where most of the characters originate from as well. It's easy to way overdo the deep southern twang, but Natalie Ross did a fantastic job of making it subtle. She was totally believable and just perfectly dramatic. 

The problem was, I had a really hard time taking breaks because I was so caught up in this story. I started making excuses to get in my car and drive somewhere, just so I could get in a few more minutes of listening time. "Babe! There's a great sale on yogurt at the store that I don't want to miss. I'm just going to run out and get a few containers. Be back in a half hour!" 

I have to tell you - Liz and Brady gave me angst. Like, angst on top of stress on top of frustration. Liz is a smart girl at the end of her sophomore year of college at the University of North Carolina. She has goals and a plan for her life. She has her sights set on Hayden, the editor of her college newspaper. And then Brady blows in and she starts doing crazy things, like sneaking around with him in hotels and having sex on Hayden's desk in the newspaper office. 

Part of me was all, "You go girl!" The other part of me wanted her to grow a spine and dig up some self-respect. I wanted her to tell Brady where to shove his secrets and lies. He expected her to be okay with this "arrangement" as he put it, when he negotiated the terms of their relationship over pancakes and coffee. He keeps Liz a secret. He gets to still go to events with other beautiful women on his arm. He doesn't have to be monogamous if he really doesn't want to. And, whenever he wants a booty call, Liz comes running. Sounds like Liz gets the short end of the stick, doesn't it? 

And yet, Brady is charming. K.A. Linde really knew what she was doing when she wrote Brady, because this guy really is a politician through and through. Despite the crap deal he throws at Liz, I found myself liking him. I know. It makes no sense. I could tell there was more to Brady Maxwell than what met the eye. And, he was passionate. My goodness, was he ever. The contrast between him and Hayden the Drip was insane. I get why Liz was with him, despite all the risks to her heart and her career. And, even though many times I wanted her to stand up for herself and tell Brady to take a walk, I also liked her with him. 

Off the Record is full of highs and lows. And that last chapter from Brady's POV? *fans self* It was really just what I needed to catapult me right into the second book. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger - I'll warn you. Not a crazy life-or-death situation kind of cliffy. But, one where everything between Liz and Brady is left hanging totally in the air. The writing was brilliant. The narration of the audio version was fantastic. Despite my frustrations, it was not a hard decision to buy book 2 before I was even done with this one and have it ready to go. 

March 12, 2015

REVIEW: Stealing Rose (The Fowler Sisters #2)

Stealing Rose (The Fowler Sisters #2), by Monica Murphy
Publish Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Bantam
Format: e-ARC, obtained from NetGalley
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 3.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) People say the youngest child has it easy, but nothing can be further from the truth. Unlike my two sisters, Violet and Lily, I’m never in the limelight. I just work my butt off for Fleur Cosmetics and get little to no thanks for it. I’ve been pushed too far one too many times, and I’m finally brave enough to do something about it.

Maybe my newfound courage has something to do with the amazing pink and white diamond necklace I wear to the party in Cannes. The instant those dazzling heirloom jewels touch my skin, they excite some deep, aching need inside. And when that guy—that totally gorgeous guy—locks eyes with me, I know this nice girl is going to be naughty.

For once it’s my turn. My turn to say no to my father, to outshine my sisters, to walk away from it all—straight into the arms of a mysterious stranger. But what if Caden is much more than I bargained for? Sure, he makes me feel sexy and free in a way I never have before, but there’s something else I can’t quite place—something dangerous. Maybe our “chance” meeting wasn’t so random. Maybe he was looking for me for a reason. Whatever his motive, there’s no going back now.

And maybe I don’t want to.

I'm thinking that the three Fowler Sisters books together make up one whole story. Violet's story was the introduction to the world. Rose's story is the middle where things slow down a bit and get comfortable. I'm betting Lily's story will be the most exciting as it ties up all the loose ends.

For me, Stealing Rose wasn't my favorite Monica Murphy book, but it was still enjoyable. The beginning was exciting and interesting as we are introduced to Caden and learn more about what makes him tick. He's a thief, and apparently, a really good one. He's been dispatched to lift a certain necklace that happens to adorn Rose's neck when they first meet at a party in Paris. Their initial connection was electrifying and exciting. Caden is left reeling by his feelings and the fact that because of these feelings, he didn't get the job done that night. But, he's not giving up that easily.

Rose is the forgotten sister. Violet is driven and works hard for Fleur. Lily is the scandalous one and the black sheep. Rose always ends up fading into the background. She's the youngest and isn't quite sure what she wants to do with her life. Everyone has always assumed she would work at Fleur like her sister. But, because she's usually ignored, Rose is of the opinion that no one would really care what she does.

But, Caden seems to care. As she keeps running into him again and again, she realizes that, more than anyone else out there, he makes her feel alive. And vibrant. And electric. And suddenly, work and family obligations fade into the background as her time with Caden overshadows all.

Caden feels much the same way, although he hasn't forgotten why he was initially drawn to Rose in the first place. As he is faced again and again with the opportunity to steal Rose's necklace, he's forced to take a better look at who he is and whether he can live with himself.

The ending, like the beginning, kept me glued to the pages. I couldn't wait to find out if Caden would get caught, and if he did, what Rose would have to say about it. My issue was with the middle. There was a very long period of time in the middle of the book where all that happened was Rose and Caden having lots of hot sex. Don't get me wrong - I love the hot sex. And, it was really well done in Stealing Rose. But, they didn't DO anything. Rose and Caden holed up in her hotel room and boinked all day every day for WEEKS. I appreciate sexy times as much as the next romance bibilphile, but even I have to admit that they need to be tempered with some interaction with other people. The pacing of the book really slowed down for me at that mid-way point, and didn't pick up again until the final scenes.

As with book 1, there are loose ends still hanging out there, which I'm sure will be tied up in Lily's book. I feel confident that Monica Murphy will bring it all home with that last book. I can't wait to read it. 

March 11, 2015

REVIEW: Risking It All (Crossing the Line #1)

Risking It All (Crossing the Line #1), by Tessa Bailey
Publish Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Select
Format: paperback, purchased
Genre: adult contemporary romance/suspense
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) NYPD detective Seraphia Newsom will avenge her brother’s death at any cost. Even if it means insinuating herself into a rough, Brooklyn street gang and going so far undercover, she’s not sure she’ll be able to get out. Every minute she spends in their midst means the clock ticking down on her life, especially when she overhears something that could get her killed.

Bowen Driscol is the heir to a crime enterprise. He never asked for the job, but with his father behind bars, he has no choice but to step in and keep the operation running. But when the NYPD blackmails him with a piece of damning information in exchange for aiding an undercover cop, he finds himself on the other side of the law for the first time in his life.

Bowen knows the danger Sera is in, and keeping her safe trumps saving his own ass. The problem? She can’t know he’s on her side. And there's the matter of the seriously inconvenient heat sparking between them that's incinerating his resistance. But Sera only sees Bowen's past, and men like him are the reason her brother is dead. If they're to get out alive, he'll have to risk exposing the man beneath, and hope to hell he doesn't blow the whole operation in the process.

When my friends heard that I started reading Tessa Bailey, they told me I had to meet Bowen. They knew I'd love him. My friends know me so well. 

Bowen is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He's inherited his father's criminal enterprise, whether he wants it or not. But, the cops have caught up to him, and they want his help. An undercover cop has insinuated herself into a rival gang without exactly getting approval from her superiors. She's in danger, and Bowen is sent in to protect and extract her. While Bowen straddles both sides of the law, he finds himself falling for the woman who should hate him.

Risking It All really had everything. It was exciting and suspenseful and sexy as hell. All things I've come to expect from Tessa Bailey. I was sucked in from the beginning and, as my friends expected, I completely fell in love with Bowen.

He's this misunderstood tragic hero type of guy. Although he's the head of all the bad things, you get the impression pretty early on that it's not a role he relishes. It's really his dad's gig, and the only reason Bowen has stepped into his shoes is because his dad is in jail. Bowen is under some serious pressure to fill those shoes. He can't appear soft or weak, so he gets leaned on heavily to do things the way his dad did. 

But, although Bowen was raised to be hard and unforgiving, that's not really who he is. He struggles with this so much. On one hand, he's good at being the muscle and he's used to people being afraid of him. It earns him money and respect. Without his iron fist, Bowen doesn't appear to have much going for him. So, although he doesn't relish the role he's been thrust into, he doesn't know anything else. 

And then Sera steps into Bowen's life. He knows she's a cop trying to get to the bottom of her brother's murder by another crime boss. Sera has put herself as close to this guy as she can so that she can try and gather evidence against him. Initially, Bowen is just tasked with helping her to get the evidence and then getting her out. But, Sera doesn't know that about him. She thinks he's just this bad guy that she's inexplicably drawn to. It doesn't take her long to realize that Bowen is a multi-faceted guy. 

In the end, it's a race to uncover all the corruption and back-room deals and get to the truth. With everyone still alive. There were a few unexpected twists and turns to the story that I didn't see coming. And, they made me MAD. I felt for Sera so much. She was treated badly and put in so much danger. But, at least she got a sexy dangerous man out of the deal. And, despite all the stress, that's not half bad.