June 30, 2015


It's time to say goodbye to Laura Kaye's deliciously sexy alpha heroes from her Hard Ink series, and let me tell you - she saved the best for last. HARD TO LET GO is out today, and if you've been a fan of this series since book one, I promise you, this grand finale will not disappoint. Check out my review, a heart-melting excerpt, and of course, a kickass giveaway.

Hard To Let Go (Hard Ink #4), by Laura Kaye
Publish Date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Avon
Format: e-ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult romantic military suspense
To Buy:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Beckett Murda hates to dwell on the past. But his investigation into the ambush that killed half his Special Forces team and ended his Army career gives him little choice. Just when his team learns how powerful their enemies are, hard-ass Beckett encounters the biggest complication yet—seductive, feisty Katherine Rixey.

A tough, stubborn prosecutor, Kat visits her brothers’ Hard Ink Tattoo following a bad break-up—and finds herself staring down the barrel of a stranger’s gun. Beckett is hard-bodied and sexy as hell, but he’s also the most infuriating man ever. Worse, Kat’s brothers are at war with criminals her office is investigating. When Kat joins the fight, she lands straight in Beckett’s sights—and his arms. Not to mention their enemies’ crosshairs.

Now Beckett and Kat must set aside their differences to work together, because the only thing sweeter than justice is finding love and never letting go.

I have been DYING for this book. Ever since book one, when Beckett Murda showed up on the scene, I knew he'd be my favorite. I'm always a sucker for the strong, silent types. The ones who seem to shoulder everyone else's burdens before their own. The ones who have a hard time letting someone in. And, I like these guys the best because, when they meet that one person that makes them want to soften and help shoulder the load, the wait for that moment is so, SO sweet. 

Beckett carries so many burdens, from his crappy childhood to the ambush that caused his best friend to lose his leg, all because of him. The pain and blackness and guilt eat away at him daily, but he shoves it all down so that he can soldier on and do his job. And, now he and his four Army brothers are so close to getting to the bottom of whatever it was that caused their bogus dishonorable discharge from the Army, there is a light that he can actually grab on to. But, Kat is in the house now, and she does things to him. All of a sudden, Beckett has another person to worry about, because he can't lose another person in his life. 

My heart broke for this man. He was beaten and told repeatedly how worthless he was as a child. I hate reading about that kind of stuff, because I can't imagine how anyone could say such things to a little kid. I remember there was this one part in Hard To Let Go where Kat gives Beckett a hug, and he was startled by it because, in his entire life, that was only the second time that someone had voluntarily put their arms around him in affection. Can you even imagine?   

Beckett grew up believing all the things said to him, and no one ever gave a damn about him until he joined the Army and was put on a team with Nick, Marz, Easy and Shane. These men were the closest thing to real family that he had ever had. The relationship that these five men have with one another is incredible. They really are family to one another. And, when each man found someone to love, that person was inducted into this makeshift family unit as well. 

Kat was already sorta halfway there, since she's Nick and Jeremy Rixey's sister. She and Beckett had a volatile beginning to their relationship thanks to Kat's take-no-shit personality and Beckett's I-live-to-be-scary-and-broody way about him. They were like oil and water, until they quit talking and used their mouths for more fun things. 

Man, these two had PASSION. The way they felt about each other, even from the beginning, was expressed in extreme ways. They could fight and argue like pros. And, then they could make up in ways that were so hot. Passion was definitely not a problem for Beckett and Kat. 

What WAS a problem was learning to rely on someone else to help you through your crap. Both of them are very used to being self-sufficient and holding in their feelings. They try to pretend like things don't bother them. They solve their own problems. And, all of those things cause some major bumps in their road to happiness. Their trial-and-error way of working through all this was what absolutely endeared me to this couple. They weren't perfect by a long shot, but neither of them ever gave up, and when they realized they had made a mistake, they sought to rectify it. 

Honestly, he'd never before seriously entertained facing his demons. Between football and the Army, he'd had other outlets for releasing some of the bullshit in his head. Otherwise, he'd shut himself off from the world and everyone in it, and let himself go numb. Now, he didn't have those outlets, and that numbness was hearing the hell off. 

But, most importantly, now he had something to fight for, not just against. 

Maybe he could fight for Kat. For a chance with her. There were at least a hundred big ifs standing between this moment and that possibility, but it was worth the try. She was worth the try.

The big mystery surrounding the team's commanding officer and his motives on that final mission has all culminated in this final book of the series. All the questions are answered. There is a ton of action and nail-biting moments. And, the payoff is HUGE. The final chapter is absolutely incredible. It makes me hope that Laura Kaye keeps on writing about these six couples that have found each other during this horrific and stressful month together. (Can you believe that's all the time that's passed in this series?) I don't want to let them go!

But, if I have to let them go, I'm glad it all ended with Beckett and Kat. Beckett's transformation was the bread to my butter. I love that man so hard, and I happen to think that Kat is perfect for him. This finale is how finales are done. 

Taking a deep breath, Beckett knocked on the door.

No answer.

He turned the knob, and the door opened.

“Go away,” came a strained voice.

Beckett poked his head through the opening. Kat sat in a ball in the corner, her legs pulled up to her chest, her arms hugging herself tight.

“Aw, Jesus, Beckett. Really?” Her face was splotchy and her eyes watery, though he didn’t see any tears.

Ten-to-one she was going through some adrenaline letdown right now, too. Which no doubt made it all worse. That shit could fuck you up even when you were used to how it left you feeling drained and shaky, by how all the stress you’d suppressed during the height of the crisis boomeranged twice over after the fact.

He came into the room, closed the door, and turned the lock for good measure. And then he crossed to Kat, scooped his arms under her knees and behind her back and lifted her up against him.

She smacked his chest. “Put me down.”

“No.” He moved to the edge of the bed.

“I don’t need this right now, Beckett. Put me down.”

“Yes, you do,” he said, sitting on the edge of the mattress. He pulled her face in against his throat and smoothed her hair back from her cheek. She trembled against him, just the littlest bit, her skin hot to the touch. He pressed a kiss to her forehead and hugged her tighter. “You did good, kid.”

Every one of her muscles went tight. Her hand fisted in his shirt. And her breath caught as she buried her face against his neck and shoulder.

Then Kat burst out crying.

And it was like being torn apart and put back together, all at once. He hated her pain, but he adored that she wasn’t hiding herself from him, and that she was letting him be there for her.

He didn’t shush her, or try to talk her down, or encourage her to dry her eyes. To be sure, her tears were like daggers in his heart—they hurt like fucking hell. But the only way she was going to feel better was to let this shit out. Ironic realization for him—he did actually see that. But just because you could see what was good for others didn’t mean you had the first goddamned idea how to apply those principles in your own life. And that was a problem for another time anyway.

What mattered right now was Kat. What mattered … was Kat.

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

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June 29, 2015

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Riot (Mayhem #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.

Riot (Mayhem #2), by Jamie Shaw
Published March 17, 2015
Publisher: Avon
Format: paperback, purchased
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) When Dee Dawson meets sexy mohawked guitarist Joel Gibbon, she knows it won’t be long before she has him wrapped around her finger. No guy has ever been able to resist her… but Dee’s met her match in a player like Joel.

Dee’s not the relationship type—not after seeing the pain “love” has caused her friends and family—yet she’s desperate to make Joel want her more than anyone else. He quickly becomes an obsession, and when a reckless attempt to make him jealous ends in disaster, Dee turns into the damsel in distress she never wanted to be. With her carefree world crashing down around her, the last thing she needs is Joel’s pity.

But Joel is suddenly determined to prove he cares, and no matter how hard Dee tries to push him away, he refuses to let her shut him out. Now the girl who swore she’d never say those three little words must choose between guarding her heart and losing Joel forever… or falling head-over-heels for the tattooed rock star of her dreams.

My goal is to make sure that you, dear reader, are not the last one to know about The Last Ones to Know. After Riot, the second book in Jamie Shaw's Mayhem series, I'm completely in love with all the members of this rock band. In Riot, all of their personalities come shining through - Adam with his commanding presence, Shawn with his intellectual focus, Mike with his sweetness and control, and Joel with his jokes and manwhore ways. And then, there are the women in their lives...

Dee watched her mother cheat on and subsequently destroy her father. It was then that she decided that things like love and commitment and relationships were not for her. Her recent years have been filled with one-night stands and casual hook-ups. Until Joel Gibbon, bass player for The Last Ones to Know, got in her bed and in her head. All of a sudden, she cares what he thinks of her. She hates the groupies that he leaves with after every show. And she wants him to notice her. That makes her so mad and makes her do things that she comes to regret. 

Okay. So... Joel. He's the blond, mohawked bass player. He's goofy and playful and a complete and total player. He loves the women and the rock star life. When he first hooked up with Dee, she was just another hot chick. And then she kept showing up, being that she is BFFs with his lead singer's girlfriend. And, they kept hooking up, until one night when Dee needs his help and it changed everything. For both of them.

Dee was hard to love sometimes. She seems to have a good friend in Rowan. And, I can't imagine what it was like to learn about the things her mother had done and to see the effect it had on her father. I absolutely don't judge her for the number of guys she was with. Slut shaming isn't my thing. But, I definitely didn't agree with all the choices she made. She hurt a lot of people in her quest to remain detached and commitment-free, including herself, and it made me frustrated and mad. I wanted to smack Rowen in Mayhem (Mayhem #1) for not spilling the Peach secret to Adam right away. That was nothing compared to what I wanted to do to Dee at times.

It was clear to everyone that Dee cared about Joel. They spent a lot of time together after the night when things changed between them. They did fun things. They had fun together. And not THAT kind of fun. Stuff like going to concerts and having birthday parties and doing holiday family dinners. You can't not go through all that together and not develop attachments. On both Dee's and Joel's parts, this was not entirely welcome. It was hard for them to accept something that neither of them thought they wanted to begin with. 

And they both handled their realization that everything had changed for them very differently. Joel, being the easy-going guy that he is pretty much took it in stride. Dee, who still harbored so much bitterness toward her mother and her treatment of her marriage to Dee's father, dug in her heels and swore that, no matter how she felt or how Joel thought he felt, nothing had changed for her. Love and commitment and relationships were still a sham. And Dee wanted no part of them. 

I admired Joel so much. In my opinion, his childhood and his relationship with his own mother was far worse than anything Dee had endured. And yet, Joel managed to rise above it all. He discovered things that made him happy - the band, women, drawing - and engaged in them as frequently as possible. When those things changed, he went with it. Joel was always interested in his happiness, and that is how it should be.  

As with mayhem, Riot was told almost entirely from Dee's POV. Only the last chapter was from Joel's. I kind of love this strategy. There's no flip-flopping between the two, which can be jarring at times. Instead, we stay in Dee's head the whole way through the story, and the last chapter, which is essentially an epilogue, gives us a taste of what was going on on Joel's head. That tiny bit from him is just enough to both satisfy me and leave me wanting more. 

There are clues dropped at different places in the book that tell us what the next book in the series, Chaos (Mayhem #3) will be about. That book belongs to lead guitarist Shawn. At the time I'm writing this review, I've already read Chaos, and I can tell you that it's awesome. Shawn is my new favorite band member - I can't wait for you to get to know him better.

June 25, 2015

2015 Audiobook Challenge - Quarterly Update

I'm back with an update on how I'm doing with the 2015 Audiobook Challenge, hosted by The Book Nympho and Hot Listens.When I signed up, I was sure I was going to really suck at it this year. My time in my car has been seriously limited since I started working from home. As it turns out, I've found new opportunities to plug in, which is awesome because I've discovered some great new narrators and authors over the past three months.

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

Quarter One

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

Quarter Two

10. A Dirty Shame (J.J. Graves Mystery #2), by Liliana Hart
11. Play With Me (With Me In Seattle #3), by Kristen Proby
12. No Limits (Ultimate #1), by Lori Foster
13. Dirty Rotten Scoundrel (J.J. Graves Mystery #3), by Liliana Hart
14. Ruined (Ethan Frost #1), by Tracy Wolff
15. Rock With Me (With Me In Seattle #4), by Kristen Proby
16. Curing Doctor Vincent (The Good Doctor Trilogy #1), by Renea Mason
17. Addicted (Ethan Frost #2), by Tracy Wolff
18. Dare to Love (Dare to Love #1), by Carly Phillips
19. Wild Card (Elite Ops #1), by Lora Leigh (currently reading)

So yeah - I've been on a serious romance kick lately. Some were really good. Some... not so much. Out of the books I've listened to this quarter, my favorite was probably Curing Doctor Vincent by Renea Mason. It's the first book I've listened to that was done with a male and a female narrator reading a book told entirely from the female POV. It was a really awesome experience. I can't wait to read the next book in that series so I can experience it again.

I'd like to branch out next quarter and return to my first love - PNR. If you have any good vampire/shifter books that are awesome, let me know!

June 24, 2015

BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Up In Smoke (Crossing the Line #2)

I'm a huge Tessa Bailey fan, so I'm so excited to help her introduce you to her newest book, UP IN SMOKE. Read on for my review, and then enter the incredible giveaway for signed books and a $100 Amazon gift card!

Up In Smoke (Crossing the Line #2), by Tessa Bailey
Publish Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Entangled
Format: e-ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult romantic suspense
To Buy:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Connor Bannon is supposed to be dead. Dishonorably discharged from the Navy SEALs, he's spent the last two years working as a street enforcer in Brooklyn for his cousin's crime ring. Through a twist of fate, he's now in Chicago, working undercover to bust criminals. But when a cute little arsonist joins the team—all combat boots, tiny jean shorts, and hot-pink hair—Connor’s notorious iron control slips.

Erin "she's getting away" O'Dea knows two things. She hates authority. And… Nope, that's it. When she's forced to operate on the “right” side of the law, her fear of being confined and controlled blazes to the surface. The last thing she expects is a control freak like Connor to soothe her when she needs it most. Worse, something behind the sexy ex-soldier's eyes ignites a dangerous inferno of desire. One that invites Erin to play with fire. And one that could get them both killed…
There's something awesome about watching the alphaest of males learn to care about something - someone - more than his mission, more than his pride... more than his life. And, watching him do it Tessa Bailey style is just the icing on the cake. 

Connor is on his last chance for redemption when he's recruited into an elite team headed by Chicago detective Derek Tyler. This group of former criminals are brought together to take down other criminals, and Connor is perfectly suited for this position. Except his focus on his mission is compromised by a certain pink-haired member of his team who likes to start fires and swears there's no room or cage out there that can hold her. While Connor and his team is hunting the bad guys, another one from Erin's past is hunting her. Between those two cases and Connor's desire to break through Erin's walls, he's got a lot on his mind.

Erin absolutely broke my heart. She endured some atrocities as a child that have had lasting effects on her as an adult. She can't be shut in a space that has no way out. She can be touched at all. She uses the bite of fire to keep her focus. People think she's nuts. Well, everyone except for Connor. From their first meeting, there was something about him that she hasn't found in anyone else. Not only the heat - that's definitely there. But, it's like he sees her and knows what she needs right from the start. Most people immediately writer her off as crazy. But, not Connor. It's like he can see through her crazy to who she is underneath, and that is both comforting and terrifying.

Connor is intuitive. He knows that Erin is unlike any woman he's ever met before. She's smart and loves authority about as much as he does (which is, not at all). She's beautiful, but there's a lot of pain behind her eyes. As the days go on and they have to work together, he catches glimpses of that pain in how Erin interacts with other people and handles certain situations. Instead of mocking her or just avoiding her because of her brand of crazy, he becomes determined to help her deal with it so that it isn't so debilitating. 

It's things like that that make Connor just this side of perfect. This guy is as rough as they come. He's also had a hard childhood and an even harder adult life, working for a stone cold crime boss in New York. He is not the hearts and flowers kind of guy. But, he is protective, and compassionate, and sweet in his own way. 

Connor and Erin work well together and with the rest of the team, which includes Bowen and Sera from book 1 in this series. I liked how they handled missions and how they worked together using their own individual expertise to solve their case. 

Despite Connor's inability to touch Erin even a little bit, they still have some wildly sexy times. Erin is able to touch him, and since Connor can't use his touch, he uses his words. Holy crap can this man talk dirty. It's all he can do for a very long time is use his words to help heat things up with Erin, so he embraces that role, even though he's very much used to being in control in ALL areas of his life. Giving the control in the bedroom to her was so hard for him, and Erin recognizes that. I think that was what put the first cracks in her walls and allowed them to start coming down - the sacrifices that Connor was willing to make for her safety and comfort. 

Up In Smoke was another incredible book in Tessa Bailey's Crossing the Line series. We were introduced to some fascinating new characters when we met Derek's and Connor's team. I can't wait to learn more about them and to continue to catch up with Derek and Ginger, Bowen and Sera, and Connor and Erin.  

Thank you for your interest in my books! I'm Tessa and I live in the crazy, loud, overcrowded borough of Brooklyn, New York. I love it here. This city is a constant source of inspiration, which is why I've decided to set my most recent books in the Line of Duty Series here.

I moved to New York when I was eighteen, the day after I graduated high school. Threw my suitcase in the back of a Chevrolet Cavalier and drove across the country to find my adventure. I'm still finding it, little by little.​Thank you for being a part of it.

Stalk Tessa: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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June 23, 2015

ARC REVIEW: Wasted Lust

Wasted Lust, by J.A. Huss
Publish Date: June 24, 2015
Publisher:  self-published
Format: e-ARC, provided by the author
Genre: adult suspense romance

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) A girl with regrets…
Sasha Cherlin died the night she let Nick Tate walk out on her for a life of crime. Her very essence was destroyed when they broke their promise to one another.

A man with remorse…
Nick Tate made his choice with her future in mind. He loved Sasha enough to know that leaving her behind was the only way to keep her safe.

A path to revenge…
Special Agent Jax Barlow understands the bond of love and he plans to use it to get justice. Nick and Sasha will do anything to rewrite their past. He’s counting on that to bring them down.

WASTED LUST gives you the full JA Huss experience – vibrant characters, a full-spectrum of emotions, an unexpected HEA and the startling twisty plot that you’ve come to expect from this maven of the adult romantic suspense genre.

I have to admit to being a bit nervous to read this book. The Sasha I have in my head is the pre-teen assassin with a giant attitude problem and a chip on her shoulder the size of Denver. The thought of her meeting someone, falling in love – HAVING SEX – was a little unsettling.

The Sasha we meet in the beginning of Wasted Lust, though, is ten years removed from most of the horrible events of her previous profession. She’s 24, a PhD candidate, lives in a beautiful home, and is, by all accounts, a successful, loved, well-adjusted young woman.

But, it quickly becomes evident that you can’t go through what she went through and not carry the scars from it. It’s like painting over really ugly wallpaper. You can choose the prettiest paint in the store – a soft color with flecks of metallics to make it shine in the right light. But, over time, even the nicest paint will chip and reveal glimpses of that ugly ass wallpaper to the world. And, no matter how many times you try and patch the holes, once the damage is done, the only thing left to do is strip the paint away, and try to make the ugly wallpaper work.

I was born, and have always been, Sasha Cherlin. Company kid. Daughter to a traitor. Child assassin.

FBI Special Agent Jax Barlow is the first person to start chipping away at Sasha’s shiny veneer, and she is absolutely not happy about it. He shows up in her life very suddenly asking questions about Nick Tate, the man she was supposed to eventually marry, but before they could make a life together, he left her, never to be heard from again. So, yeah – Nick is a sore subject, as is how Sasha used to spend her time when she was with him.

Sasha has been let down and left by nearly everyone in her life, so trust is not something she affords easily, and she doesn’t trust Jax one bit, no matter how hot and sexy he is. He admits he’s after Nick, and no matter how badly Nick hurt her, she’s not about to give him up to the feds. But, Jax does know a lot about her. And, he seems to know at least a little about the life she used to lead. His persistence and willingness to stick by her, believe her, trust her and protect her continue to chip away at Sasha’s false persona until she has no choice but to bare everything to him and hope for the best.

For Jax, Sasha is an enigma. The fact that she’s survived this long as a Company kid is incredible. He thinks her brave, competent, controlled and intense – all of which she certainly is. And, yet, as time goes on, and he shares parts of himself with her, she reciprocates, and Jax discovers that there’s so much more to Sasha than the former Assassin Smurf. This puts Jax at odds with his mission. He must take down Nick. And Sasha only wants to save him.

My father is dead. Mother dead. Grandparents dead. Home gone. And Nick - the one thing I held onto after the Company took away my childhood away and turned me into a murderer - left me behind. Left me all alone. Because only a Company kid can understand what I am. We don't walk the edge, we live on the other side of it.

I have to say, I spent much of Wasted Lust not fully trusting Jax or his motives, which made me mad. Because I really, REALLY loved him. And I wanted him to be totally sincere in his professed feelings and actions when it came to Sasha. Because, if he was legit, then he was literally the whole package and everything that Sasha needed so desperately – someone who understood her, accepted her and loved her anyway. He was everything Nick never was or could be, and that made Sasha’s choice of who to love and trust easy, at least from where I was sitting. But, for Sasha, it was not nearly as simple. How could it be when she’s loved Nick and been promised to him for so long?

Sasha broke my heart. She struggles constantly with what should be a simple question. Who. Am. I? Is she the assassin or the co-ed? The lover or the fighter? Even Sasha doesn't know, and this is something that she is desperately trying to figure out. She thinks it's the key to her happiness. Or her downfall.

"So, tell me something real, Jax. Because every day I feel like a fake. I'm not real. I'm that illusion you thought I was. An apparition of that girl the Company made me. I have no idea what I'm doing. And I feel like I'm suffocating. I feel like I've been walking around wearing a costume for ten years and it's so much a part of me, I'm afraid to take it off. I think I'll lose myself for good if I take it off, Jax. So tell me something real. Or this ghost version of me might float away and disappear. I might never pull myself back from that."

As we get to the root of the main issue – whether the Company really is gone and what is happening to the children of Company operatives – that is when all of JA Huss’ signature plot twists come into play. You know all along that there is more going on than what is currently on the surface, but I promise you, you have absolutely no idea how deep that rabbit hole is until it all comes out.

And, the really incredible thing is, the big reveals that happened over the course of Wasted Lust were not all self-contained. There were huge revelations about events that happened in Three, Two, One, Meet Me In The Dark, and Coming For You that just blew my mind. Things I never knew and back stories that explain so much more make me want to go back and re-read them with this new knowledge in my head.

Twelve of JA Huss’ prior books – Tragic, Manic, Panic, Slack, Taut, Bomb, Guns, Come, Come Back, Coming For You, Meet Me In The Dark and Three, Two, One – all come together in one final epic epilogue in Wasted Lust that gives us a chance to say goodbye to these characters that have been through so much together. There is an incredible sense of hope and possibility there that make it the perfect send-off.

Make no mistake, there are parts of Wasted Lust that will devastate you – but it’s the good, cleansing kind of devastation that leaves hope in its wake. Like, you finally get all that fancy paint chipped off (which was a messy job, BTW), only to take a step back and realize that that wallpaper you previously thought was so ugly actually has some beautiful qualities. And, when you pair it with the right accessories, it really makes the whole room better.

June 22, 2015

REVIEW: Safe at Last (Slow Burn #3)

Safe at Last (Slow Burn #3), by Maya Banks
Publish Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Avon
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult suspense/paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon
* Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) They say young love doesn’t last, but a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with unique abilities and the hometown golden boy were determined to defy the odds. For Zack Covington, Anna-Grace—his “Gracie”—was the one. Until one night forever alters the course of their future, when a devastated Gracie disappears without a trace, leaving Zack to agonize over what happened to the girl he loved. As the years pass, his desperate efforts to find her uncovered nothing.

Now working for Devereaux Security, he stumbles across a painting featuring a special place only he and Gracie would know. The image is too perfectly rendered for it to be coincidence. His Gracie must be alive. When he finally tracks her down, he is shocked—and heart-broken—to discover the wounded shell of the girl he once knew and still loves. Her psychic gifts are gone, and worse, she believes he betrayed her all those years ago.

Zack has enemies, and once his weakness is discovered, Gracie becomes a target for revenge. He’ll have to save her before he can earn her trust and her love. And he vows they’ll never be torn apart again.

SAFE AT LAST is the third book in Maya Banks' suspenseful Slow Burn series, which seems to be focusing on women with extraordinary powers as they navigate their dangerous lives with the help of the men associated with Devereaux Security. This book focused not on a Devereaux brother, but on a key member of their team and the girl from his past that he thought dead. 

Zack has always been the quiet, intense brooding member of the Devereaux Security team. He has known love and lost it, when his college girlfriend who he planned a life with simply disappeared. He assumed she had been kidnapped and died, but he still never stopped looking for her. And, he never found anyone new to love. Unexpectedly, one day, he sees her in an art studio, and what should've been a great joy for both of them turns into horror. Gracie is not only not happy to see Zack, but she's terrified of him. As Zack tries to figure out why, he's also trying to protect her from his enemies - a difficult thing to do when Gracie doesn't want to be near him. On top of that, he ability to read minds appears to be missing. Zack is fighting against time as he works to regain Gracie's trust, and hopefully, her love.

Zack has been one of my favorite side characters since book one. He has always been very serious about his job, and he has always had a soft spot for women who were hurt. I loved the dichotomy that is Zack. He's big and scary and brooding and intense, and yet you tell him there is a women in trouble and he will drop everything in order to help her. How could you not love a guy like that? You always got the sense that there was a story there with him, but you didn't know what it was until now because Zack doesn't talk much, especially about himself. 

As it turns out, he was deeply in love once, and one day he came home from college to find she had simply disappeared. He searched absolutely everywhere all over the country and never found her. And, finally, he had to move on with his life, but he never forgot her, and he never fully gave up on finding her. That kind of dedication is exactly what I would expect from this man. To be the object of his focus has got to make a girl feel cherished and special. 

Except, when he finally does find Gracie, she is absolutely terrified and horrified by his presence. Zack has no idea why, either. All he knows is that he went to college and everything was fine. He came home, and she was gone. Zack asks her again and again why she's so afraid of him. Why did she leave him? Where has she been? What did he do? These are all legitimate questions and ones that he absolutely deserves an answer to. 

And, he is where I ran into problems. I had a very hard time liking Gracie or appreciating where she was coming from. I get that she thought he had done something horrible and that she thought she had irrefutable proof. But, every time Zack approached her and asked her for answers, she refused to give them to him. She just professed that he knew what he did, and she wasn't going to relive it for him. Now, for a man she supposedly loved enough to want to marry at one point, why on Earth would she not want to at least give him a few minutes of conversation to clear the air? If she was so afraid of him, she could have someone else present. And, besides all that, from the very beginning, Zack seemed genuinely confused by her reaction, and he was always trying to ensure her safety, especially once the bad guys showed up on the scene.Gracie really treated him badly, and when Zack was so wonderful, it made her actions that much more rude and hateful.

Despite that, my favorite part of the whole book came at the end when the three women with abilities - Ramie, Ari and Gracie - team up to take down the baddies that threatened another member of the Devereaux team. To start with, they all really put their overprotective men in their places. Now, I love an alpha protective male, but it's super fun to see these guys' women tying their hands. 

And then, when it comes time to storm the hideout, the girls really kick some ass together. Ramie finds the enemy, Ari gets them in and Gracie directs the efforts. They worked well together, and it really was an awesome display of girl power. 

There comes a point where Zack needs to ask himself if he can live without Gracie since it seems she will never get over whatever it is she thinks he did. And then Gracie must ask herself if she can forgive both Zack and herself when the entire story is revealed. These two most definitely had a hard road to get back to one another, and it was full of the worst kinds of betrayals you could imagine. 

Gracie's mind-reading ability is really downplayed in this book. Her ability was missing for most of the book, and when it came back, it wasn't used a lot. Also, there isn't a lot of heat in Safe at Last, since Gracie spends 95% of the book at odds with Zack. Even so, there's no denying the sexual and emotional tension between the two of them whenever they're together. And that, coupled with the promise of things to come, kept me pressing on. There was a lot of scenes with Caleb and Beau Devereaux too, as well as their women, so that was awesome. Safe at Last was another exciting and intense installment in Maya Banks' Slow Burn series.

June 19, 2015

EXCERPT RELEASE: Up In Smoke (Crossing the Line #2)

Tessa Bailey's UP IN SMOKE is almost here, and to tempt you just a little bit (okay, A LOT), here is a juicy excerpt for you to chew on...

Up In Smoke (Crossing the Line #2), by Tessa Bailey
Publish Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Select
Genre: adult romantic suspense
To Buy:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble

(From Goodreads) Connor Bannon is supposed to be dead. Dishonorably discharged from the Navy SEALs, he's spent the last two years working as a street enforcer in Brooklyn for his cousin's crime ring. Through a twist of fate, he's now in Chicago, working undercover to bust criminals. But when a cute little arsonist joins the team—all combat boots, tiny jean shorts, and hot-pink hair—Connor’s notorious iron control slips.

Erin "she's getting away" O'Dea knows two things. She hates authority. And… Nope, that's it. When she's forced to operate on the “right” side of the law, her fear of being confined and controlled blazes to the surface. The last thing she expects is a control freak like Connor to soothe her when she needs it most. Worse, something behind the sexy ex-soldier's eyes ignites a dangerous inferno of desire. One that invites Erin to play with fire. And one that could get them both killed…

Connor broke away, allowing them both to suck in oxygen. “Stay. I’m sorry. Stay.” He bent his knees to bring them eye to eye. His spoke of torture, but he was trying to hide it. “Look at me. I can handle this. I want you here. Don’t leave.”

“I don’t know if I can handle it,” she whispered.

His heavy breaths ceased. “What do you mean?”

She drew out a lighter from her back pocket and ignited the flame. It cleared her head a little, allowing her to search for the right words. Words that wouldn’t sound crazy. “I like touching you. It makes me feel really…good. And there isn’t a whole lot that makes me feel good, you know?” Her throat closed up. “I wish you could touch me, too. I don’t think I can stay here knowing I’m hurting you by making myself feel good…and I don’t think I can stop touching you. It feels like a must.”

A flare of panic flashed across his face. “I shouldn’t have said what I did earlier. You just caught me off guard.” He massaged his forehead with four fingers. “Did I scare you? Is that why you’re really leaving?”

“No.” She shook her head. “No.”

“Okay. Jesus. Okay.” He was silent a moment, but gears were turning behind his eyes. “You need to touch me and I need you to stay. Let’s give each other what we need. All right?”

Why was this so damn confusing? She’d only met this man yesterday and they were already tangled up in her web of fucked-up issues. He should want to be clear of her, shouldn’t he? No one else had ever bothered with her this long before. “Why? Why do you need me to stay? I—”

“I won’t rest,” he growled. “I’ll think about you somewhere, scared like you were last night, and I’ll go fucking crazy.”

Her heart lurched, dislodging her pride. “I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time. If the only reason you want me here is to play nursemaid to the crazy girl, that’s not going to work for me.”

“You know there’s more to it. You know.” He visibly centered himself with a deep breath, appearing to debate with himself. “I’ve got my own skeletons, Erin. They don’t rattle so much when you’re around. Your touching me…it makes me hot. But it soothes elsewhere.”

She knew her expression was pathetically hopeful, but couldn’t find a single shit to give. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” he repeated. “I’m not going to lie, Erin. Yes, I want to sleep with you like hell. But only if it’s healthy. Would you trust me enough to go slow? A little at a time?”

Her pulse hammered out of control. “You touching me?”

Connor watched her closely. “When you’re ready. Not before. Never before.”

This is where she should climb down the fire escape and vamoose toward the street. A weight pressed down on her rib cage, making it difficult to draw a breath. It felt like the point of no return. But Connor’s eyes grounded her.

Safe. He’s safe.

“Okay, baby. Slow.”

His body drained of tension. “Thank you.” He leaned in and brushed their lips together, gently, reverently. “First, we talk.”

Thank you for your interest in my books! I'm Tessa and I live in the crazy, loud, overcrowded borough of Brooklyn, New York. I love it here. This city is a constant source of inspiration, which is why I've decided to set my most recent books in the Line of Duty Series here.

I moved to New York when I was eighteen, the day after I graduated high school. Threw my suitcase in the back of a Chevrolet Cavalier and drove across the country to find my adventure. I'm still finding it, little by little.​Thank you for being a part of it.

Stalk Tessa: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

June 18, 2015

ARC REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Call On Me (Loving On The Edge #8)

Call on Me (Loving on the Edge #8), by Roni Loren
Publish Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult erotic romance
To Buy: Amazon *
Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Oakley Easton wants two things: to be a good mom to her daughter and to ditch her less than ideal night job. Hooking up with bad boy drummer Pike Ryland? Not on the agenda. She needs a promotion. Not sex, tattoos and rock ’n’ roll.

Pike isn’t about to let Ms. Prim and Proper shut him down so easily, especially when he stumbles upon Oakley’s sexy night job. She’s only playing a role on those late night calls with strangers, but when he gets her on the line, all bets are off. He won’t stop until that sultry voice is calling his name for real.

But as they move from anonymous fantasies in the dark to the flesh-on-hot-flesh reality of the bedroom, the risk of falling in love becomes all too high. And the safe, quiet world that Oakley’s worked so hard to create is about to be exposed to the one person who could ruin it all.

I absolutely devoured Call On Me, because... PIKE. He has ruined me for all other book boyfriends. Ever since I met him in the fourth book in this series, I have been waiting for more about him. Even though the focus of that book was on his BFF Foster, there was just something about Pike...

Oakley Easton is a former singer who now only wants to live her life quietly with her daughter. But, when your path crosses with drummer Pike Ryland, quiet isn't in the cards. Despite her efforts to keep him at arms length, Pike keeps drawing her closer and closer until she's too close for comfort. 

Can we talk about Oakley's job first? She's a sex line operator. How cool is that? It's not a job you see every day in books. But, she's a former teen pop star who is putting her husky voice to good use. Truth is, she hates every second of it, but she does it to make sure the bills are paid and her daughter gets the education she needs. I love Oakley's daughter. She's autistic and equally as musically talented as her mother. Oakley's and Reagan's relationship is sweet. I love how Oakley is always thinking about her in all things. 

Due to Oakley's former job in the music business and all the not great things that happened to her during that time of her life, she's become very jaded. Trust isn't something she engages in easily, especially with men. When Pike agrees to work with Oakley on a children's program, he hits on her and she immediately shuts him down. The thought that she could be with a man that brash and bold and in the music business no less, is not anything she wants to entertain.

Except Pike is on to her. He starts whittling away at her walls by offering real help with the children's program and bonding with Reagan. He shows Oakley that she can trust him in subtle ways at first. And then bigger ways later. When Pike discovers her second job - the one she does at night from home - it becomes an even more intriguing part of her that he has to understand. And, let's face it, have fun with too. He keeps her secret phone sex identity and indulges in it some too. And, finally, Oakley's walls come down enough to grant him one night together. 

And, that one night - holy crap on a cracker. What is it about the musicians? Man, they are so sexy. That one night was incredible. And, for Pike, it was just the beginning. Between working with her and just plain working her, he starts to feel things, and Pike Ryland is not the kind of guy to feel things. He's a player. He enjoys his friend's BDSM club, The Ranch. He drums for the hottest rock band in the country. Pike doesn't do relationships. And, yet...

He wasn't sure, but he guessed that on some level she trusted him, liked him. Not Pike the drummer, Pike the man. And that was kindling something inside him, something he'd heard his friends talk about but had never experienced himself. Oakley had high walls that fortressed her in her protected world. Even in the throes of passion, she'd kept him outside those gates. He understood why, but the fact that he didn't have a key to get in was poking at him, rousing an unfamiliar need.

Oakley is all out of sorts. She pings back and forth between only wanting one night with Pike and giving him all her nights. She's very worried about what Reagan might say if she got into things with Pike. And, Oakley doesn't really think Pike will stick around anyway. She knows how the music business works. She knows about the groupies and the tours, and she doesn't want to go through all that again. But, yet, as I said before - there's just something about Pike. 

 And, just about the time Oakley decides to go all in with Pike, her past comes back to haunt her in the worst possible way. It makes for a very dramatic and nail biting climax to the story. And, once that part is taken care of, Oakley and Pike are left to pick up the pieces, but Oakley is just too scared to do that. Whether she can overcome her fear of the past and of a future she doesn't want is the real question. 

I haven't read all of Roni Loren's Loving on the Edge books, but of the ones I've read, I can safely say that Pike is absolutely my favorite guy. He's talented and funny and snarky and so, SO sexy. He's dominant, but not all the time. He's alpha, but not a caveman. He's just this side of perfect, and now when I go back and read the rest of the books in this series, I'll be comparing all the guys to him. And, I think they will all fall short. 

I have an ARC copy of Roni Loren's CALL ON ME to give away to one person. Sorry - due to shipping costs, this is a US only giveaway. Good luck!

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BLOG HOP: Thoughts About Meet Me In The Dark


Our blog hop that has had us looking at the road to JA Huss' newest romantic suspense, WASTED LUST, is in its last week, and today Nicole is giving us her thoughts on Merc and MEET ME IN THE DARK...

WASTED LUST by JA Huss comes out this month and in honor of Sasha's story a few blogs thought it would be fun to start from the where it all began, from Rook and Ronin all the way to MEET ME IN THE DARK. I have been begging for MERC'S story for what feels like forever. I have loved him from day one!

MEET ME IN THE DARK is a dark suspense that keeps you flipping pages cause you have to know what is going to happen next. It is never what you expect to happen. Two of my favorite characters are in this book, Sydney and Merc have both lived in hell and managed to survive.

Who doesn't love a story with SEX,GUNS,ASS KICKING and LOVE.

Prepare to have your mind blown!


If you have not met my man MERC and Sydney yet, here is the link to MEET ME IN THE DARK:

This dark suspense is written by https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJAHuss

If you love Sydney and Merc as much as I do come over to Shrike Bike's https://www.facebook.com/groups/shrikebikes/

JA Huss is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty romances. She likes stories about family, loyalty, and extraordinary characters who struggle with basic human emotions while dealing with bigger than life problems. JA loves writing heroes who make you swoon, heroines who makes you jealous, and the perfect Happily Ever After ending.

You can chat with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorJAHuss), Twitter (@jahuss), and her kick-ass romance blog, New Adult Addiction (www.newadultaddiction.com).

If you’re interested in getting your hands on an advanced release copy of her upcoming books, sneak peek teasers, or information on her upcoming personal appearances, you can join her newsletter list (http://eepurl.com/JVhAr) and get those details delivered right to your inbox.


June 17, 2015

REVIEW: Zack (Cold Fury Hockey #3)

Zack (Cold Fury Hockey #3), by Sawyer Bennett
Publish Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Loveswept
Format: e-ARC, provided by Netgalley
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Rising star Zack Grantham has been stuck in a downward spiral of grief ever since the car accident that left him a single dad and put his career on hold. Back on the road with the Carolina Cold Fury and still crippled by emotional baggage, he’s in need of some serious help with his son. But while the nerdy new nanny wins his son’s heart, Zack isn’t sure he’s ready for a woman’s touch—even after getting a glimpse of the killer curves she’s hiding under those baggy clothes.

Kate Francis usually keeps men like Zack at a distance. Though his athlete’s body is honed to perfection, he refuses to move on with his life—and besides, he’s her boss. Still, the sparks between them are undeniable, tempting Kate to turn their professional relationship into a personal one. But before she makes a power play for Zack’s wounded heart, Kate will have to open him up again and show him that love is worth the fight.

I knew Zack was going to be a really emotional book. The guy lost his wife in a tragic accident and left him alone with his young son. He and Gina had seemed so good together in previous books, so I didn't know how I'd feel about him getting together with someone new. I should have trusted that Sawyer Bennett would make his story perfect.

Zack reluctantly hires Kate Francis as a nanny for his young son. Kate loves kids, and she needs the money badly to pay her bills, so she accepts the job, even though Zack is still so afflicted by what happened and is not the best company. It's okay though since Kate prefers to not be noticed. She hides beneath baggy clothes and glasses and hair in a bun. Except Zack sees past all that, and likes what he sees. Which scares the crap out of him. 

Kate, god love her, is thrust into a really difficult situation. She's brought in to play stand-in mother of sorts to Zack's son, and that hurts. A lot. But, Zack knows he needs the help and Kate knows she needs the money. So, they both do what needs to be done. Truth be told, Kate is awesome with kids. And, she's also awesome at knowing where the lines in the sand are. She seems to know when Zack is lashing out because of hurt, and she doesn't get upset with him when he directs his frustration on her. She also seems to know when to push him to open up and when to back off. 

What Kate doesn't seem to know is when to say no to him. Zack is dealing with a lot - grief over losing the mother of his child. Guilt that he didn't love her as much as she loved him. But, when he's with Kate, all those seem a little dimmer. When he caught a glimpse of her in real clothes and loose hair, he felt things that he didn't expect to feel. Zack goes with it and enters into a very physical, very HOT, relationship with Kate. Zack doesn't want to put himself in a position to lose someone again, though, and that coupled with him not wanting his son to get hurt further causes him to put a "just sex" label on things. And, Kate goes along with it, even though I could see disaster from a mile away. 

Zack and Kate are so good for each other. Zack gives Kate some much needed confidence. Kate gives Zack some much needed companionship. But, they both get scared when things start getting too serious. Even so, how could you get mad at Zack? How could you blame him? You can't, which is what makes this book even more heartbreaking. 

But, as I said, Sawyer Bennett did a fantastic job treating Zack's story with respect, and then giving him a new woman to love. It was pretty perfect. 

June 16, 2015

REVIEW: Moonlight on Nightingale Way (On Dublin Street #6)

Moonlight on Nightingale Way (On Dublin Street #6), by Samantha Young
Publish Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Berkley Romance/NAL
Format: paperback, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) Logan spent two years paying for the mistakes he made. Now, he’s ready to start over. He has a great apartment, a good job, and plenty of women to distract him from his past. And one woman who is driving him to distraction…

Grace escaped her manipulative family by moving to a new city. Her new life, made to suit her own needs, is almost perfect. All she needs to do is find her Mr. Right—or at least figure out a way to ignore her irresistible yet annoying womanizer of a neighbor.

Grace is determined to have nothing to do with Logan until a life-changing surprise slowly begins turning the wild heartbreaker into exactly the kind of strong, stable man she’s been searching for. Only just when she begins to give into his charms, her own messy past threatens to derail everything they’ve worked to build…

I can't believe this series has some to a close. No more Braden. Or Cam. Or Nate, Marco, Cole or Adam. It's a sad, sad day. But, first, one last story from the gang and one hell of an epilogue. 

Logan has just gotten out of prison and is living it up. His neighbor, Grace, who works from home, isn't too thrilled with his methods though. Women and parties in his apartment keep her up when she needs to be sleeping or working. But, when Logan needs someone to help him through something really tough, Grace is there. And, as she helps him, she starts to see all the wonderful things about him that she missed the first few times they met. Except, both their lives are not so simple, and it makes having a relationship seemingly impossible. They may have to keep each other in the friend zone, but do they really want to? 

Logan and Grace's story is a melding together of two of my favorite tropes - enemies to lovers and friends to lovers. This is the enemies to friends to lovers story, and it was perfect for them. Man, they really did not get along at all in the beginning. They antagonize each other to extremes. Logan sees Grace as uptight and high strung. Grace sees Logan as a womanizing, inconsiderate ass. And they can't seem to find a middle ground, until the middle ground smacks them in the face. 

I won't go into all the details because... HUGE spoilers. But, suffice to say that Logan's life changes on a dime, and he is ill equipped to handle it. Initially, Grace gets dragged into the situation simply because she was physically there at the right time. But, helping Logan seems to become her purpose after that, and she embraces it wholeheartedly. Grace and Logan become very good friends as she lends him her ear during this difficult time in his life. It's clear that Grace has a huge heart, and she opens it willingly to Logan when she sees the kind of man he really it. 

And... that sort of blows up in her face. Grace falls for Logan pretty quickly, and when they finally have that moment where everything comes together for them, it's kind of perfect. Until it's over. And Logan opens his mouth. And ruins it, like men do sometimes. It shakes Grace's self-confidence to the core, and it's not an easy thing for Logan to get around. Particularly since they had grown to become very good friends. And, we all know what happens when friends sleep together. Nothing good. Well, at least, at first. 

To his credit, Logan really is going through a lot. He just got out of prison for nearly killing a man - a man who raped and attacked his sister. So, he hasn't yet adjusted to life again, when another bomb is dropped on him. He's not exactly of the clearest head at the moment. And it takes him awhile before all the pieces fit together, and he realizes there is a huge hole where Grace belongs. That moment of clarity is always my favorite part in books, and it definitely was great here too. 

But, favorite part? No - my favorite part was the epilogue. We've watched all the characters in this series meet, fall in love, break up, get back together again, get married and have babies. The epilogue chooses one moment in time and we visit each couple wherever they are to see what they are doing. We obviously start with Joss and Braden, since it all began with them, and we end with Grace and Logan. It was poignant and perfect. I am so glad I read this series. I'm even more glad that I own them all, because I can go back and experience them all again whenever I want. 

June 15, 2015

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: When I'm Gone (Rosemary Beach #11)

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.

When I'm Gone (Rosemary Beach #11), by Abbi Glines
Publish Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Format: paperback, obtained at BEA
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) I had an urge to fix all her problems. Which was stupid. She was doing fine without me. But something about those big eyes…

Mase Colt-Manning has always preferred his humble life as a Texas rancher to his birthright as the son of a legendary rock star. In fact, he rarely visits his father’s rarefied world in Rosemary Beach, especially if it means bunking at his vile half-sister Nan’s house—until one visit leads to a chance encounter with a young, gorgeous house maid who awakens him with her off-key but spirited imitation of a country music star…

Reese Ellis finally has her freedom. After escaping a lifetime of abuse from her parents and classmates for an undiagnosed learning disorder, she seizes the opportunity to be a house maid to some of the richest families in Rosemary Beach. But her job is in jeopardy when she causes an accident at the home of her most important client, Nan Dillon. When a hot, half-naked stranger with a cowboy’s swagger comes to her rescue, she’s intrigued—then afraid once he shows his own interest. Reese has never met a trustworthy man in her life. Will Mase be any different?

I swear, I never get tired of Abbi Glines' Rosemary Beach books. Every new couple I think replaces the last as my favorite. After Tripp, I didn't think Abbi Glines could do better, so of course, she did. 

In When I'm Gone, Mase Manning is a cowboy among preppies when he comes to Rosemary Beach to visit his sister Harlow and her new daughter. He's surprised by the new housekeeper hired to keep his and Nan's house clean while she's abroad - surprised by how beautiful she is and by how much she seems to need his help. Reese is determined to be independent for the first time in her life, but Mase is the first person to ever show an interest in her that seems genuine and not only sexual. If only she didn't have such an aversion to men and an inability to read and write, it would be so easy to be with him. But, Reese doesn't belong in his world, and he doesn't appear to be able to convince her otherwise.

Reese could be one of the most unfortunate heroines Abbi's written about. She was horribly abused as a young teen by her mother and stepfather, and that has left lasting effects on her and her ability to trust others - especially men. In addition to that, she has undiagnosed dyslexia which has caused her nothing but heartache in school. As a result, she never graduated and still can't read or write. 

And yet, despite the deck being stacked against her, she still strikes out on her own the first chance she has to escape and has managed to do okay for more than two years by herself. Reese has moxie, that's for sure. And she has a strong sense of survival. She learned to work around her learning disabilities and was able to get a job. She made a few friends who helped her when she needed it. And, she never stopped trying to learn. 

Reese really isn't the type of girl that I think Mase would've normally wanted. In fact, Mase has never wanted any woman for keeps before. But, something in Reese stirs his protective instinct, and he finds he can't resist helping her. You know how much I love an alpha man. Mase in full protective mode was pretty incredible. He didn't quite understand why he was so compelled to help Reese, but he went with it, and the more he involved himself in her life, the more he liked her. He found her help for her dyslexia. He made sure she was safe when he had to return to his ranch. And he knew she was much more than a pretty face. She was all of a sudden someone he could see himself with. 

Of course, as in most of Abbi's men's lives, Nan has to make an appearance and totally mess everything up. It is so easy to hate her. You know? Nan messing things up is one of the hallmarks of this series. That and the hot men who are really, REALLY good at talking dirty. Mase is no exception. Goodness, but that man is hot when he opens his mouth. 

The grand gesture that comes at the end - the one that ALWAYS comes at the end (it's my favorite part) - was pretty awesome, and not how they usually happen in Abbi's books. It kind of brings everything full circle, which was icing on the cake. 

I hope Abbi never runs out of hot guys who happen upon Rosemary Beach, because as long as she keeps dreaming them up, I'll keep reading about them.