The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan

imageBook: The Hook Up
Series: Game On #1
Author: Kristen Callihan
Review by: Onnica

Blurb:

The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love.

Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?

Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule…

Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she’s shut him down. Completely.

That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It’s a good thing Drew knows all about winning.
All’s fair in love and football…Game on.

Why you should read it: I thoroughly enjoyed this story – I worried it was going to be the standard running-from-love tale, but it actually had depth and I really got to know the characters and understood what made them tick. Drew ‘Battle’ Baylor is the big guy on campus – massively talented and the guy other men want to be. Despite this, he is kind, sensitive and desperate to find someone who wants him for him. Anna could have been a really unlikeable heroine but the author somehow found the right balance. She’s scared of being destroyed by Drew and the effect of his celse ritzy, which will only intensify – once you understand this, I think Anna becomes more sympathetic as a character. She does some stupid things but she finally recognises that Drew isn’t a bad guy. The story should come with a warning: there are some seriously hot sexy times – the time in the library? Off the charts!

What you might hate: The rules. Why do so many books have ‘the rules’? No kissing on the mouth? Personally, I think Pretty Woman has a LOT to answer for. This isn’t the first book I’ve read that features this idea. So you can let someone put a piece of themselves inside you, but kissing somehow makes things more personal? Please! I hate when characters make dumb rules for themselves for no good reason. As I said before, Anna is a work in progress – she learns a lot about life throughout the book and makes some weird decisions in the book, while Drew is pretty perfect all the way through. I liked the way the story evolved, where both main characters learnt something about themselves and whether they could be together for the long haul. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Rating: 4/5 for a seriously sexy story full of banter, angst and life lessons. The story is long but not repetitive and thoroughly entertaining.

Abuse by Nikki Sex

abuseBook: Abuse

Author: Nikki Sex

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Grant Wilkinson, having left active service a while ago, no longer has the frenzy of combat to keep his mind busy. Left to contemplate the things that happened to him as a child, Grant knows he needs help. André Chevalier, his counsellor sees through his façade and gently leads him to face the truth: he’s an alcoholic who needs to face up to his demons, stop hiding behind his facial scars, or he’ll eventually self-destruct.

In order to help Grant face his demons, André enlists the help of his ward Renata – someone whom he helped years before. Despite not speaking for most of her life, she has an extraordinary gift of helping others to overcome their fears of intimacy and cope with severe trauma. When the pair meet, it’s clear that they will be able to help each other. However, just when things seem to be falling into place, a case that should have remained dead and buried comes back to haunt Grant…

Why you should read this: Abuse is unlike anything Nikki has ever written before. This really is a book that has depth, substance and takes a serious look at abuse, without basking in the gory details (as some books seem to). It was very intelligent and it’s clear that the author has done her research here, because it wasn’t sensationalist at all and the therapy session scenes were done really well. The character of Grant is a complex one. He’s clearly struggling with his past, yet desperate to have a ‘normal’ life. I teared up quite a few times at this story actually. The sex in this particular book is fairly incidental, which is really unusual for a Nikki Sex book! I was glad of it, as it didn’t hold up the progress of the story.

What you might hate: I incorrectly assumed this book was a standalone, so when I got to the end and read the last line and was left with a doozy of a cliffhanger, I was a little peeved. I was so interested and invested in these characters and really wanted to read what came next. Also, I did get a little exasperated by the French typos. I’m reading a lot of authors lately who write French characters, but the French isn’t correct, which really does take away my enjoyment of the story – it really does pay to get a French speaker to check your sentences on forums or professionally – hell, I’ll do it!

Rating: 4/5 for a well-written and insightful tale. Two damaged souls who may or may not go the distance. A truly heartfelt story, that wasn’t salacious or over the top on the characters’ family histories. I would definitely say it’s worth a read.

Abuse is out now.

The Lily Drake Series by T. Michelle Nelson

Lily Drake

I have been reading like a crazy person this holiday! I’m currently typing this review on 5.5 hours’ sleep after staying up until 4am this morning finishing book 3 in the series. Yes, I’m going to regret that decision later, but for now, there’s coffee.

Basic story: Lily Drake is a hardworking, single mum whose son is the most important thing in her life. When a well-meaning friend sets her up on a blind date and she mistakes him for the handsome stranger at her door, life for Lily will never be ‘normal’ again…

Mathias is a vampire who has watched Lily all her life (though not in a creepy way…kind of). He knows she is destined for great things and will be the person to lead his people to peace by eliminating the threat of rogue vampires hunting humans. He just needs to get her to agree to turn. Simple.

Lily is not in the least bit interested in the proposition. Becoming a vamp was never on her to-do list and she’ll be damned if she’ll watch her son grow up and grow old without her in his life. After refusing, she was supposed to forget. However, Lily can’t seem to shake the memory of Mathias and his associates. Suddenly the choice to turn may not be hers to make, if she’s going to continue protecting her son…

Why you should read this series: It’s a really original, fresh and well-thought out story. Lily isn’t eighteen. She’s a thirty-five year old woman who’s comfortable in her own skin. Yet she isn’t perfect. When she meets Mathias, she’s convinced he’s the one, but then she meets Valentine, his cousin, and all hell breaks loose! I loved the dilemmas and the banter between the characters. Lily is truly kickass and she is nurturing at the same time. Mathias and Val are great eye-candy (or should that be word-candy?) and they play an integral role in the story, but Lily is clearly running the show. The developing story of her and her son is also very touching. They are devoted to each other and it’s great to read. The pair are sarcastic, funny and loving. A great combo.

What you might hate: The first book was a little rocky in places. I felt as though the shift in Lily’s affections from Mathias to Val came out of nowhere. There was no build up and I felt that is was shoehorned in a bit. Then the pacing seemed to settle down and I got carried away in the story. Books 2 and 3 really show how T Michelle Nelson has grown as a writer and it truly flows.

Rating: For the whole series I give it 4/5. The book is plot driven – don’t be expecting smut – it’s all about the adventure. Don’t get me wrong, it is a sexy read. Just a bit more subtle than your average romance story.

At the time of posting, the entire series is on sale for $0.99/£0.99 – get your copy if you like the vampire trope with a bit of originality.

Don’t Deny Me series by Megan Hart

Megan Hart

Book: Don’t Deny Me

Series: The Don’t Deny Me series (parts 1-3)

Author: Megan Hart

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

“The memories last longer than the time it took to make them.” – Alice to Mick.

Basic story: Alice Clark met Michael McManus one night many years ago at a mutual friends’ party. They flirted, they later loved and life was great. Until it wasn’t. Ten years after breaking up, Alice braces herself for seeing him again at another weekend party thrown by their friends. Over the years she has skilfully avoided social gatherings he’d be at, but sooner or later it had to happen and they would be in the same room again. Convinced that she’s over him, she prepares herself mentally, but can you ever really be prepared to see the man who split your heart wide open?

Mick wants to see Alice again desperately. Over the years, he knows he messed up and just wants another chance to make things right. He isn’t prepared for the intense feelings that flood him when he sees her again. But this time, he’s determined not to mess up his possible second chance…

Why you should read this: Usually I’m not a massive fan of second-chance romances, but that could be because a lot of them are totally over the top and overly sentimental. You don’t get over-sentimentality in Ms Hart’s writing. You get plenty of raw emotion and heartfelt angst, but it always feels honest and real. I really responded to Alice and Mick, as what drove them apart is what plagues nearly every relationship I know of! The lack of mutual understanding – the false assumptions and bad habits that drive the other person crazy. It’s all there! I loved how the books are punctuated with a combination of sent and unsent letters between Alice and Mick. It really showed the differences in how the pair think and it was so obvious to the outsider where they were going wrong.

What you might hate: You may feel that Alice at times was a little belligerent and acted like a petulant child, but in the same way, Mick was completely stunted and couldn’t tell the woman he loved that he loved her! At times I wanted to knock their heads together, while at other times I loved them a little bit more for their flaws.

Rating: 4/5 I loved the periphery characters as well as the main and the sense of history the group of friends had – it was so well-described, I felt part of it. A very enjoyable and off-the-charts sexy read.

Part One is out on 13th January.

Our Top Picks of 2014!

Yes – it’s that time of the year! Time to pause and reflect over the past year and make a bunch of resolutions that won’t make it to the end of Jan! I’m feeling festive and reflective and so this post is dedicated to the best books Judith and I picked up this year.

On the down side, only six books really stood out for us this year, which is a shame – however I know am partly to blame for some dodgy choices!

In at number 6:

Scientific methodKris Ripper’s A Scientific Method series

Judith read the WHOLE series in the space of a week and could not get enough. Every conversation started with “Have you read it yet? Did you read it yet? Why not?!” It’s a crazy good series featuring MM, MMF, MFM and the combinations go on and on. So why was Judith so enamoured with it? I quote: Will’s story is ultimately a journey of self-discovery that doesn’t start out as pure smut. We see Will transform from a weak, unsatisfied boy into a man who knows what he wants and goes after it. The sex is also ho-ho-HOT!


In at number 5:

Nana Malone’s London BoundLondon Bound

I’ll read a good book by anyone, but occasionally it is refreshing to get a perspective from a heroine or hero of colour. High quality stories dealing with interracial relationships are kind of thin on the ground, so I enjoyed this story of US girl and Brit playboy immensely. The slang and the dialogue was spot-on. I’m the first to cringe when authors shoehorn UK slang in a way we just wouldn’t use – although, it can also be hilarious too! This book had heart and was very sexy. I am patiently waiting for book two in the Chase brothers series. I hope I’ll get to read it in 2015…

In at number 4:

S.L. Jennings’ Light Shadows

I recently reviewed this book and yes I’m still of the opinion that it was a great conclusion to a thrilling series. It had everything – smut, intrigue and adventure. Three of my favourite things! There were twists, turns and some shocks along the way. Dorian Skotos continued to smoulder and he proved that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for love. I can’t wait to re-read the entire series as it’s such a ride!

In at number 3:

BeneathBeneath the Stain by Amy Lane

Hands down one of Judith’s faves of the year! Don’t let the impressive page count daunt you (it’s 482 pages), this book will be over in the blink of an eye as it is MM at its finest. Mackey and his brothers have hit the top of the recording game even while Mackey himself is spiraling out of control. Under the heavy weight of pressure to constantly produce inspired rock music and the crippling depression of losing his first love, Mackey has let himself get addicted to drugs. When his record label sends Trav Ford to help him clean up his act, it’s the thing Mackey needs to get a new lease on life. But just as he finally comes clean and is happy for the first time in years, that old love reappears and Mackey is left wondering whether what he and Trav have found is the real deal. Their passion is intense and the will they/won’t they aspect of their relationship will keep you on the edge of your seat. The sex scenes are smoking hot and so explosive you might just need to fan yourself…or at least read out of the vicinity of others!

In at number 2:

Alessandra Torre’s Black Liesblack_lies_official_cover
I’m still reeling from this book and it’s been months since I read it! I had a few preconceptions about the plot at the beginning of the story (it sounded as though it would be a little like Tarryn Fisher’s Opportunist) but I was completely wrong. Then something happened in the plot to turn everything on its head. I sped through it as I just had to know what was going on and why she was doing what she was doing. It was clever, well-structured and sexy as all get out. I will read anything by this woman any day of the week.

And the winner is…[fanfare please]

Samantha Young’s Before Jamaica LaneBJL
One of the first books I read this year and it set the bar HIGH for the rest of the year. Nate the hero, instructs Olivia his friend, in the ways of seduction. What the pair don’t bargain for is the heat they will generate together and the fact that their friends-with-benefits deal has a shelf life. I loved Olivia – she had body issues but she wasn’t a whiner. Nate is drop-dead gorgeous and a bit of a man whore. He’s also witty, funny and a damn loyal friend. How could a girl resist? The answer is – she can’t. I love Samantha Young – I’ve read every book in the Dublin Street series and this one was one of my favourites. Pick up a copy, if you haven’t already done so.

So – what do you think? Did we get it right? Are you furrowing your brows thinking “idiots!” – well, we want to know. What was your top read of 2014?

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and a great New Year. Happy reading!

Onnica & Judith.

Take It by DJ Stone and B.E. Raj

take it pt1Book: Take it (#1 & 2)

Author: DJ Stone and B.E. Raj

Series: Take It series

Review by: Onnica

Sometimes, you come across a book and don’t really have any expectations for it. At all. You just take it at face value and think – sounds interesting, I’ll give it a go. This is what happened for me with Take it Book One.

Basic story: Jenny Collins is young, attractive and very driven. Unappreciated in her male-dominated world of pharmaceuticals, she’s climbing the greasy pole of success, convinced that her hard work will be rewarded some day.

When she meets Harrison Burke, a very important client, she begins to question her self-imposed celibacy. Maybe all work and no play is making Jenny a very dull gal indeed. Only problem is that her company has a very clear policy on non-fraternization. She can’t afford to get tangled up with him. Can she?

Harrison is enigmatic, fun-loving and determined to get Jenny to live a little. He encourages her to demand respect at work and take what she wants from him, but will she have the courage to do it?

Why you should read it: The banter between Jenny and Harrison is fun, witty and sexy. Harrison is a right-on, playboy with feminist sensibilities. I loved the chemistry between these two. Jenny is a very likeable character, who is struggling to work hard, be respected and still be ‘likeable’ in the workplace. A situation many of us can probably identify with. There are plenty of sexy times which are off the charts hot. It’s a great introduction to the series.

Take it pt2What you might hate: Part two for me was a different kettle of fish. Jenny completely loses her way, her sense of self and her fire. I realize this must be a plot device to enable her to get her mojo back in part three, but it was painful and annoying to sit through. I want my heroines to kick ass! I’m going to stick with the series, because I know that there’s a good story here. Despite the creepy roommates, the overbearing mothers and sexist colleagues.

Rating: I’m giving the series 3/5 so far – only because book 2 did not hit the spot for me at all. I’m looking forward to the story’s conclusion as I’m sure Jenny will be taking names and showing the world she’s no pushover. I’m also looking forward to seeing more of Harrison.

Light Shadows by S.L. Jennings

Book: Light Shadows

Series: The Dark Light Series #3

Author: S.L. Jennings

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: If Gabriella thought that life would become less complicated when she ascended to both her light and dark destiny, she was greatly mistaken. She’s twenty-one; in possession of some new and terrifying abilities; reunited with Dorian, love of her life and the man sworn to protect her come what may. She didn’t quite bargain for her ‘dead’ birth-father turning up on her doorstep and furious that Dorian, his former-best friend is now her significant other.

Elsewhere, she has to worry about the dark elements who seem hell-bent on hurting her friends and family in order to get to her. She’s about to face the biggest test of her life and whether the prophesy is fulfilled or not depends on whether she can find the strength to battle whatever comes her way. Those who stand with her will make her strong, but will they all be left standing at the final battle?

Why you should read this: I have waited and waited and waited some more for this book! I can honestly tell you that it was worth the wait! There is angst and high-drama a-plenty, but there’s also a very exciting story to be had too. Dorian is back in technicolor glory! There’s a fair bit of sexy times to keep you satisfied and the action flows well. The writing is so good – the author conveys the mood, the environment and the atmosphere perfectly. Niko, Dorian’s younger brother, figures prominently in the book too. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

What you might hate: Ok – I’m going to be honest. Gabs can be a whiny brat at times and she does wallow in it. She knows Dorian loves her yet, at the first sign of trouble she’s ready to think the worst of him. Faithless girl! Also, as the supposedly most dangerous and powerful being on earth, I was looking forward to her kicking ass a bit more than she did. Instead, she had the tendency to let others do the saving. That disappointed me a bit and would have mitigated her whinging!

Rating: 4.5/5 – I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the mythology and the roller-coaster ride of this book. It was a great series and one I’ll come back to again and again.

Light Shadows is out now.