Category: friends to lovers

REVIEW: Violent Delights by Jessica Hawkins

ig-vide-portrait-cover_origBook: Violent Delights

Series: White Monarch #1

Author: Jessica Hawkins

Release date: 19 March 2019

Main characters: Natalia Lourdes King Cruz, beloved daughter of cartel kingpin Costa Cruz, who wants nothing to do with the life she was born into. Diego de la Rosa, advisor to Costa, in love with Natalia, but with secrets of his own. Cristiano de la Rosa, back from exile and ready to reclaim his rightful place.

Plot: Natalia Cruz loves her father dearly but is adamant that she does not want to live the life of cartel princess, where to be in danger is the daily reality. Instead, she has made a quiet life in California, studying and hoping that she and Diego can be together. Her childhood was marred by violence and grief and she is desperate to escape her nightmares. If Diego and she can be together, all will be right with the world. Fate has other ideas however, and Natalia may not have a choice about her future.

Cristiano de la Rosa has spent a long time away from the life he knew, but now he’s back. No longer a foot soldier, he is the epitome of power and chaos. His objective isn’t clear, but he’s back with scores to settle and an offer that nobody will be able to refuse…

Why you should read it: Oh boy! Jessica Hawkins has embarked on another epic trilogy that I think will drive us all crazy! This first book was a slow-burning, introduction to the world of  organised crime and life on the edge. Natalia is young and idealistic, eager to remove herself from a life of stress and danger. She believes all she needs is Diego’s love and life will be perfect. I have the feeling she’ll do a lot of growing up in this series. Much like Lake did in the Something in the Way series. There was plenty of slow-burning passion in this book – Diego loves Natalia and Natalia loves Diego. Simple, right? Hmmm, maybe, until Cristiano shows up. He’s older, crueller and everything Diego isn’t. What’s his agenda? We don’t quite know, but it’s clear there’s no love lost between he and Diego.

What you may not like: I don’t know how you feel about books set against an organised crime backdrop. I don’t read them often but I do like to dip my toe in every now and then. I enjoyed it thoroughly, it is fairly violent – and if that’s not your bag, fair enough. I don’t see it getting less violent as the series progresses to be honest, but it certainly wasn’t gratuitous. Warm and fuzzy it is not, but an engaging and exciting read it certainly is. I need more!

Rating: 4/5 for a really exciting start to the trilogy – not sure I can wait until June for part 2, but I shall try!

 

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One Week in Paris by Roya Carmen

RUBYprintCOVERfinal2Book: One Week in Paris

Series: One Week #3

Author: Roya Carmen

Release date: 21 February 2019

Main characters: Kayla Wilson, a yogi who is struggling to remain zen; Oscar Cohen, her roommate and friends with benefits who might not be as casual about Kayla as she believes.

Plot: Kayla Wilson has come a long way since her difficult childhood. Now a successful masseuse and yoga teacher, she has a crew of great friends and life is good.

When her mother announces that she’s getting married, things look like they couldn’t get any better. That is until her future stepfather’s offspring and heir apparent Matt, turns out to be her teenage bully and childhood nemesis.

Reeling from this development and determined not to fall back into her old insecurities, Kayla hatches a plan to stop the wedding. With her friend Corrie and more-than-friend Oscar by her side she can’t lose herself. Can she? Or will she discover that what she’s actually been looking for was under her nose all along?

Why you should read it: I really enjoyed this third instalment in the series. A lot! Kayla was complicated – adorable and she’s overcome a lot to get to where she is. She’s also obtuse, a little selfish and at times petulant. I adored all of her – she felt real to me. I could relate to her insecurities upon seeing Matt again.

It was quite a refreshing change for the hero to be desperate to get the heroine’s attention, rather than vice versa. Oscar is gentle, not an alpha, but he holds his own and makes his boundaries pretty clear, and he’s funny. He was super cute! The chemistry between the pair had me fanning myself throughout. Their mutual acts of making the other person jealous were super hot!

What you may not like: not sure – I really enjoyed this tale. There was a pretty elaborate plan to stop the wedding and that may or may not float your boat. But I enjoyed it for the humour and the very palpable sexual tension between the main characters!

Rating: 5/5 for an entertaining and really sexy read. It’ll make you want to head to Paris for sure!

Blog tour: Wrapped in Love by Lexi Ryan

Cover image  - a man and a woman standing closely in an intimate way

Book: Wrapped in Love

Series: The Boys of Jackson Harbor #4

Author: Lexi Ryan

Release date: 4 December 2018

Main characters: Molly McKinley, single mom and events planner extraordinaire; Brayden Jackson, serious eldest brother of the McKinley clan, Molly’s boss and the man he wishes she’d choose.

Plot: Molly McKinley never wanted to come back to Jackson’s Harbor – the gossip, the secrets that inevitably came out and her past all make her want to run as fast and as far as possible. But, when an irresistible job offer comes up, one that means she can provide for her son, she can hardly refuse. Plus it means she can reconnect with her mother despite what happened in the past.

Brayden Jackson has loved Molly from afar, and not so far for a long time. He knows she has issues, and a young child to think of, but he wants to be there for them both. The memory of the night they shared a while back is in no danger of dimming. He’s keen for a repeat, but Molly had drawn a line in the sand. He’s her boss, nothing more, nothing less.

A crisis situation just before Christmas sees Molly with nowhere to live and so Brayden seizes the opportunity to show her that maybe, just maybe, if she’s brave enough to choose happiness, she needed do it all alone…

Why you should read it: I have read every book in this series avidly and love the Jackson brothers. They’re pretty straightforward, which is refreshing, as the heroines really take complicated to another level. Molly has a terrible backstory – I really felt for her in the previous books when it became clear how she came to be living in New York alone. I felt for her and her demons – I really wanted for someone to suggest counselling, as she was still carrying around guilt and the past, with no signs of resolving any of it. Brayden was all you’d want in a hero: strong, patient, devoted to her despite the blockers she put in his way. Their chemistry was palpable also – it was clear to all that they felt strongly for one another, but honestly, they were so dense at times  that they couldn’t recognise it!

What you might not like: Molly is sweet, she’s kind and skittish. She’s also prone to regression now that she’s back in Jackson Harbor. Her behaviour makes sense in light of what she’s gone through, but at the same time I wanted to shake her for being so stupid! Her exasperating actions aside, there’s not a lot I disliked about the book. It was a sweet and romantic tale and I lapped it up.

Rating: 3/5 for an engaging story – a little frustrating, a lot sexy! I love my visits to Jackson Harbor.

Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EwksG7

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/WrappedInLoveLR

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2mgsXcq

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2NPfXWH

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Ewm5Uf

Add to GoodReads link: http://bit.ly/2CTaHjJ

 

Blog tour: If We Fly by Nina Lane

IWFly - EBOOK COVERBook: If We Fly

Series: What If series, book #2

Author: Nina Lane

Release date: 13 September 2018

***Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you have read the prequel and Book 1 If We Fall.***

Main characters: Cole Danforth, the love of Josie May’s life. Josie, the heroine of this series who is about to learn some devastating new information…

Plot: Josie has so many questions bubbling under the surface of her consciousness. For 10 years she’s been unable to remember exactly what happened in the accident that killed her family. Cole said he was driving – the police reports backed it up, so then why all the crazy dreams? – and now that picture of her that makes Josie doubt everything. Determined to find out in order to finally move on is what she intends to do – but the answers will come with devastating consequences.

One thing Josie can depend on is her love for Cole. He has changed, but so has she. She sees sparks of the old Cole and think she can walk away from him…

Cole has done everything he can to protect Josie from the spectres of the past, but his carefully constructed plans are unravelling fast. Will the unveiled secrets bind them together, or will the painful revelations succeed in tearing them apart, once and for all?

Why you should read it: I couldn’t wait for the conclusion to this duet. I really couldn’t – there was a heck of a cliffhanger at the end of book one and I had to know more. I thoroughly enjoyed this story – it was masterful storytelling that advanced at a steady speed. It didn’t drag – it didn’t repeat itself. It was soulful and romantic and heartbreaking. I’ve never rooted for a couple to find happiness so much before! Josie and Cole’s chemistry leapt off the page and their love was believable and undeniable. I can’t gush anymore about it – I really can’t!

What you might not like: I don’t know really. There is some upsetting stuff in the book – incidents and accidents and angst, but honestly, it isn’t applied in a heavy-handed way. It makes a compelling and heart-rending read. So the ultimate pay off is so very cathartic! I needed this HEA!

Rating: 5/5 for a satisfying and swoon-making read. I loved the main characters, and I desperately wanted them to find some peace.

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Blog tour: If We Fall by Nina Lane

Book: If IWF - EBOOK COVERWe Fall

Series: What if duet #1

Author: Nina Lane

Release date: 30 August 2018

Main characters: Josie Mays, once a bright and shiny optimist, now a shadow of her former self. Cole Danforth, the man who has always had Josie’s heart and the only one who could shatter it.

 

Blurb:

We fell in love. Then our world fell apart. 

I wished so hard for Cole Danforth. And one day, he came true. He was my first boyfriend, my first lover, my first and only love. He should also have been my last. 

But in a split-second, we were ripped apart, our lives broken, my heart shattered. After ten years, I’ve returned to my hometown, the place of my greatest joy and darkest pain. 

Cole is still here, but the beautiful boy I’d loved is gone. Now he’s a ruthless, unforgiving man determined to feed both my resentment and my lust. 

Then our torturous past encroaches again, trapping us in a violent storm. 

But this time, there is no escape.

Why you should read it: Oh my! Both the prequel (If We Leap) and this book shredded my heart! Shredded it! We have the tragic couple, Cole and Josie and all they want is to be together. They are lucky to have a year or so of bliss, but then all hell breaks loose and neither one will ever be the same again. I loved the narrative of this story. Book one flips between present day and events from ten years earlier. Bit by bit we understand what happened to destroy the happy couple, and their grief is palpable. This book is deeper than your average romance. It has secrets galore, heartbreak and thankfully, hope.

What you may not like: You should know this series is a duet. If you cannot bear a cliffhanger (and believe me when I say this ends on one heck of a cliffie!) then wait until you have all the books in your possession before you start reading. I was hooked from the first page!

Rating: 5/5 for a smart, sexy and heartbreaking read. I’m really rooting for Cole Danforth and Josie Mays.

Buy linksGOODREADS|Amazon|Apple|Nook|Google|Kobo|

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Sleepover by Serena Bell

Book: Sleepover

Series: a standalone

Author: Serena Bell

Release date: 13 November 2018

Main characters: Elle Dunning, newly-divorced mother of one who is still adjusting to life as a single mother. Sawyer Paulson, her new enigmatic neighbour.

Plot: Elle has been through the mill this past year. Her cheating husband has returned to his former high school girlfriend, leaving her adjusting to single life with her son Madden. Trying to make the best out of a painful situation, she has her work and a good network of friends to keep her sane.

When Sawyer Dunning moves in next door, that sanity is about to be tested. Elle knows Sawyer – quite well already. It’s it everyday that a former one night stand moves in next door. She could ignore him – but that option is soon made impossible when her son becomes fast friends with Sawyer’s son, Jonah.

Sawyer is struggling with single parenthood and the spectre of grief. It’s been two years since his wife died, but her presence lingers and moving on seems impossible. Sawyer allows himself the odd meaningless encounter – always the one time, never to be repeated with nameless women. Until Elle. Something about her reaches out to him and he’s terrified of what that could mean for his life, his family and his piece of mind…

Why you should read it: I really enjoyed this down to earth story. Elle was so relatable and had been treated shabbily. You can’t help but feel for her. Her ex and his fiancée are shameless. I felt a lot of righteous indignation about her situation, but she dealt with it all with such grace, it was admirable. I enjoyed the slow-burning chemistry between Elle and Sawyer. Their kids bring them together and in many ways force them to confront their situation head on. Sawyer was a well drawn male character. He was a mixture of private and vulnerable and strong and he was in a very familiar situation to many.

What you may not like: Not a great deal to dislike in this book. It’s fresh, entertaining and a story of personal growth. What’s not to like?

Rating: 4/5 for a very sexy and page-turning story. I love the characters and the premise. I think you might, too.

Dirty, Reckless Love by Lexi Ryan

img_4268Book: Dirty Reckless Love

Series: The Boys of Jackson Harbor #3

Author: Lexi Ryan

Release date: 14th August 2018

Main characters: Ellie Coudrey, currently suffering from retrograde amnesia, Levi Jackson, the man who wants to be there for her. Always.

 

Blurb:

I’m in love with a man who tried to kill me. At least that’s what they tell me . . .

Six weeks ago, paramedics found me unconscious in my apartment. Beaten. Bruised. Hardly breathing. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember the last three years or anything about my life in Jackson Harbor. They tell me my fiancé, Colton McKinley, is on the run for what he did to me. They tell me I’m safer if I stay away.

I don’t care if my memories ever come back. I want nothing to do with those missing years . . . until a sexy stranger with angry eyes shows up on my doorstep and demands I stop ignoring him.

Levi Jackson is my fiancé’s best friend, but seeing him sparks something inside me. As the truth unravels in my mind, I know they’re wrong about Colton. My own secrets are far more dangerous than the man I was engaged to.

I return to Jackson Harbor to search for answers and find myself running from a faceless boogeyman and seeking refuge in Levi’s arms. And in his bed.

I can’t deny my feelings for Levi. But as the pile of lies between us grows, I realize that sometimes the truth can’t set us free. Sometimes, it’s the very thing that can destroy us.

Why you should read it: I am a huge fan of Lexi Ryan, and I really enjoy a good amnesia trope, so this book did not disappoint! We last met Ellie in Ava and James’s story, Straight Up Love, and we were tantalised by all the clues and plot breadcrumbs that were left behind. Dirty, Reckless Love picks up some time after that, and the reader has to keep up with all the action, the flashbacks and the secrets, quite quickly. The story unfolds steadily and I kept reading, desperate to get to the bottom of all the family intrigue. The chemistry between Ellie and Levi was palpable. His love for her is no secret and he wears his heart on his sleeve. Ellie? Poor Ellie doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going. She’s not sure who to trust or which memories she can actually rely on. Her journey is an interesting one and I felt for her. I did. However, at times, I did think she treated Levi as a crutch and really could have been a bit more considerate of his feelings.

What you may not like: The book, like its predecessors, deals with some pretty heavy subject matter, which you may or may not like. There are some themes (such as abuse and drug taking) that may disturb some readers. As I mentioned before, Ellie is a little bit naive and thoughtless in her reliance on Levi at times, that made me think she was taking advantage a wee bit.

Rating: 4/5 for a truly exciting, sexy and intriguing story. I particularly enjoyed Jackson Harbor’s connections to New Hope. It felt right revisiting some loved characters!

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Blog tour: Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

9046FE82-8988-426B-9C78-47237A203E4EBook: Dr. Strange Beard

Series: Winston Brothers #5

Author: Penny Reid

Release date: 30 July 2018

Main characters: Simone Payton, logical thinker, on assignment for the FBI in her hometown. Roscoe Winston, youngest of the Winston clan, and hellbent on avoiding Simone at all costs.

Blurb:

Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak

Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.

Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . .

Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists.

But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .

Why you should read it: Come on people, it’s Penny-fricking-Reid, of course you should read it! If you follow my reviews, then you’ll know how much of a sad fan girl I am about her! I haven’t really read this series in orders – I tend to dip in and out of it when I need a damn good read and this one fell into my lap when I needed a particularly good read. It didn’t disappoint! The narrative was engaging, quirky and as always, it was smart as hell. Simone and Roscoe were complex and interesting characters – their inner monologues gave insight and also humour – and I couldn’t put the book down until it was done. The intense attraction between Simone and Roscoe really was palpable – it was a slow-burning seduction and I had to fan myself quite a bit during this read! I also enjoyed the role reversals, where Simone was the more worldly character and she took the lead. Hot! It also had a lot of pathos, heart and damn well made me cry in places. Like proper, full on blubbing!

What you may not like: I usually try to play devil’s advocate in my reviews, but I’m truly struggling here. I appreciated Penny Reid’s treatment of the heroine – I know some authors are afraid of writing about non-white characters in case they get it ‘wrong’ and I get it – some people have done it well, while others have done a horrible job! Simone was a multi-faceted character, who was just getting on with her life. There were no lazy stereotypes and hopefully, authors like Penny Reid and Tiffany Reisz will inspire other authors to not be so afraid of writing about POC.

Rating: 5/5 for a truly wonderful, exciting and engaging read. I forgot how much I love this series.

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Blog tour: One Week by Roya Carmen

PrintBook: One Week

Series: One Week #1

Author: Roya Carmen

Release date: 21 June 2018

Main characters: Gabriella Moore, mum to two adorable kids; easy-going wife and artist in her own right. Eli Anderson, artist who will flip Gabriella’s life entirely.

Plot: Gabriella Moore is a great mum, a great wife and a talented artist. Life is comfortable and simple – she and her successful husband have a great life together, but lately she hasn’t seen much of him, due to his book tour commitments.

She’s not unhappy per se… She has friends and two great kids, but she never thought she’d be doing the parenthood thing alone most of the time. If she’s honest with herself, she’s lonely.

When she strikes up a friendship online with fellow artist, Eli, everyone thinks she’s crazy and warns her to be careful. Their chats become more frequent and their appreciation for each other spills over into life outside of art. When Gabriella makes a painful discovery, she decides to go visit Eli in Denmark. She’ll take a week out of her life and live for herself. She can do what she wants for that week before returning to her normal life. Simple…

Why you should read it: Oh my goodness! This was a stellar read! I love Roya Carmen and when she announced she was writing a book in a similar vein to The Ground Rules trilogy – I did an unbecoming happy dance (think of a chicken twerking and you’ll get the idea). I love angst-ridden married people struggling with temptation. I know it’s not for everyone but I can’t get enough of it. Roya really makes you feel for the characters, whatever their actions. I loved the budding friendship between Eli and Gabriella and I didn’t know how it was going to end up – I was quite surprised actually (but ecstatic!) by the outcome.

What you might not like: A lot of you don’t like cheating in fiction. Well, fair enough. Some of the best literature is based on infidelities, but I get it. It makes you feel icky. However, there is a pretty good loophole in this book so… is it really cheating?! Anyway – if you can’t handle it, maybe it’s not for you. But I simply adored it and inhaled it and now I’m re-reading The Ground Rules – because I need more angst!

Rating: 5/5 for an emotional story that resonated with me (my marriage is fine, I hasten to add!) and it made me want more. It’s also the start of what should be an exciting series! I’ll post more details on the series when I get them. It’s great to see Roya back with another exciting and angsty series!

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2KwTfl3

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2IlQSVw

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2InCE2i

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2Il26JL

Apple: https://apple.co/2Gtl0Z3

Nook: https://bit.ly/2Gp2h0V

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2IP7ape

 

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Blog tour – Melt For You by J.T. Geissinger

64CFC999-F035-4B3B-9109-8B7B23CF7E81Book: Melt For You

Series: Slow Burn #2

Author: J.T. Geissinger

Release date: 15 May 2018

Main characters: Joellen Bixby, office wallflower and suffering from low self esteem. Cameron McGregor, her new sexy, annoying neighbour who pushes all the buttons.

Blurb:

Socially awkward Joellen Bixby has a date every Saturday – with her cat, a pint of ice cream, and fantasies of the way-too-handsome Michael Maddox. She’d give anything to win over the unattainable CEO of her firm, but how can she when she blends in so well with her cubicle? The answer may be closer than she thinks.

Cameron McGregor is a cocky, tattooed Scottish rugby captain who just moved in next door. He’s not Jo’s type – at all – but the notorious playboy is offering to teach the wallflower everything he knows about inspiring desire. Though a lot of women have rumpled Cam’s kilt, Jo is special. Far from the ugly duckling she thinks she is, in Cam’s eyes she’s sharp, funny, and effortlessly sexy. Now, thanks to him, Jo is blooming with confidence and has the man of her dreams within reach.

Unfortunately for Cam, he’s just helped to push the woman of his dreams into the arms of another man – and now he’s in the fight of his life to keep this beauty from getting away.

Why you should read it: I’m a huge fan of J.T. Geissinger – she writes funny, multi-faceted characters with flaws and lots of personality. I loved Burn For You so much that it was a no-brainer to read Melt For You when I had the chance. The story was engaging, touching and had me swooning in places. The chemistry between Joellen and Cam really had me invested from early on. It went deeper than boy meets girl and it gave a nice twist to the trope. It also delved deeper into serious themes, such as self-esteem and self-loathing and how it’s never too late to combat these issues.

What you might not like: In the main, I liked Joellen. I felt for her most of the time, but then at other moments I had to ask myself whether she was really 36 years old?! She behaved like a child for a lot of the book and while it completely exasperated me, I understood that she had her issues and that made me try to understand her behaviour. To live without any positive reinforcement is happily not something I’ve experienced, so I tried to empathise with her on that score.

I did however have a slight issue with some of her internal monologue:

These people should work for the CIA! I turn the shower on full blast, go into the closet, and crouch down beside my dirty-clothes hamper, feeling like a refugee fleeing from a totalitarian regime. Which really isn’t too far off the mark.

Really? Your situation is comparable to those currently fleeing for their lives? Okaaaaaay. Not dramatic at all! So, I may have wanted to slap her at times, but apart from that I liked Joellen. Truly. Heroines can’t always kick butt and be self assured, (but if I’m honest, I prefer them to).

Rating: 3/5 for a funny (mostly provided by Cam), sexy (also provided by Cam) read. Preferred book one but this one is an enjoyable romp if you don’t mind a pessimistic heroine with myriad issues.

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