Saturday, May 25, 2013

Kristen Ashley--Games of the Heart (The Burg #4)

Adult Contemporary Romance

From the balcony of his house, Mike Haines can see the quiet, commonplace beauty of the Holliday farm. But what he remembers is the little sister of his high school girlfriend, Dusty who grew up there. As a teen, Dusty had gone off the rails but when she was a kid, she was sweet, she was funny and she had a special bond with Mike. But after high school, she took off and Mike never saw her again.

Then tragedy strikes Dusty's family, she comes back into town and Mike thinks she hasn't changed back to the sweet, funny girl he knew but instead continued to be selfish and thoughtless, leaving her family alone to deal with their mourning. So he seeks her out and confronts her in an effort to understand what went wrong and to force her to sort herself out.

He finds out quickly he's wrong about Dusty Holliday. Very wrong. And right after Mike discovers that, the bond they had years before snaps back into place in ways he would never suspect.

But Mike Haines had a bad marriage then he played games of the heart for a good woman. And lost. In order to protect himself and his kids, he's cautious, he's careful to read the signs and he's not interested in finding a woman he has to fix.

Then he learns what happened to Dusty and he thinks she needs to be fixed. He swings, he misses and in this new game of hearts, for Dusty, Mike just got strike three.

{4 stars} ***spoiler alert***

I struggle with The Burg series, all of them are each about 100 pages too long. As much as I love KA, I find her a little long winded in the descriptive details, so I skim. That being said, I went into this book looking forward to Mike's story. But what surprised me was the real story I found, Fin and Reesee.  They captivated me and I kept on with the book just to see what happened to them. It must be truly amazing to know you have found "The ONE" when you are fifteen. We all read romance books looking for that beautiful story, the fantasy to fall into reading about all the characters finding "The ONE". And thankfully, KA lets us find out. Her epilogues are almost as good as the book itself. Mike and Dusty's story was great, but for me Fin and Reesee captured my heart.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Madeline Sheehan--Unbeautifully (Undeniable #2)

Adult Contemporary Romance

Warning: This is not a story about fate or destiny. This is a story about pain, sorrow, and suffering. This is an impulsive whirlwind romance between two lovers that are not meant to be together. Theirs is not a world with sunshine and roses. Instead, their love blossoms in a secret world full of crime, violence, and death. Their story is about what can be born from nightmares.

Danielle “Danny” West is the daughter of Deuce West, President of the Hell’s Horsemen Motorcycle Club. A sweet and beautiful girl, she loses her way, searching for things that are always out of her reach. Erik “Ripper” Jacobs is the Sergeant of Arms in the Hell’s Horsemen. Once a man who always had a smile on his face, his life takes a turn for the worst when a tragedy befalls him, leaving him scarred and broken. During a midsummer night, Danny and Ripper’s paths cross, forever changing their lives. Hastily, their lust turns to love until another tragedy forces them apart. On a journey that is marred with ugliness and chaos, Danny and Ripper must discover if their unforeseen connection can find the beauty in their world.

This is Danny and Ripper’s story.

Everything has beauty. Even the ugly. Especially the ugly.
Because without ugly, there would be no beauty.

{5 stars)
The synopsis actually does this book justice, in a way. But if you read the first book, you understand the dark violent world they live in. But under that darkness sometimes comes beauty, love, and family. Even though the men of Hell's Horseman act like asses...womanizing, drinking, dumbass men. They have an underlying loyalty above all else...sometimes. Sometimes, the choices they make blur the line of loyalty to one another. Women come between them, but only the woman that they really truly love above all else, including their brothers.

This series is not a pretty romantic fantasy. It is gritty, emotional, and utterly addicting. A roller coaster of highs and lows, and you are left hanging on waiting for the end. Hoping for the HEA, and just trying not throw up along the way. This book isn't just about Danny and Ripper, it is also the extension of Eva and Duece's story. We back up a little bit and find out how Eva and Duece overcame Frankie's trail of horror. No flowers and romantic dinners here... tears, yelling, and internal torment (and the occasional gunfire) are the road they all walked on. They were all damaged by Frankie, some emotional, some physical. But how they pull it together and move forward is the soul of this story. And in the extended family of the MC, you get Jase's choices, Hawk's secrets, and lots of fighting and yelling. Some all in fun, some not so much. A lot plays out in this story, and I am utterly addicted to it. I can't wait for the next one. This series is NOT for the faint at heart, you won't like some of the darker decisions made or the outcome of those decisions. But it is all for the "reality" of the story. (I said there was no flowers or romance). Raw and emotional, if you can see past all that you can understand that life goes on and sometimes, life grants you what you wish for.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

J. M. Stone--Skin Deep (Skin Deep #1)

Adult Contemporary Romance

Oh, who was she kidding? Emma knew that going to the tattoo shop with her best friend, Allie, would result in getting badgered until she ended up with some sort of needle piercing her flesh in one way or another. What she didn’t plan on was ending up face-first on the floor of the shop with a busted lip. Or doing it in front of the hottest guy she’d seen since…well, ever.

Mortified, Emma never thought she’d ever step foot back in Skin Deep again. But fate, with a little help from Emma’s flighty best friend and a chance encounter with a fudge bar, steps in. Now Emma’s torn between taking a chance on getting her heart broken by the enigmatic, gorgeous Lucas, and playing it safe with good ol’ trusty B.O.B.

Lucas lets Emma know that he gets what he wants, and what he wants is her. When Emma gives in and quits pushing him away, she’s surprised at how quickly the walls around her heart crumble. She’s even more surprised that her unconventional, zany family just endears her even more to him.

But no one knows there’s someone that wants her more, and they’ll stop at nothing to get her.

*Recommended for readers 18+ due to HOT sexual encounters, adult situations, and language.
{4 stars}
Funny! That's the first thing that hits you when you discover Emma, she is an uncoordinated, charming, sweet, funny girl. Instantly likable. Luke is super HOT, charming, and dominant, he knows what he wants and how to get it.
I normally read stuff with more of an "edge" to it. But I found Luke and Emma's somewhat normal courtship really great. Their dynamic really fit together, and the cast of characters surrounding them is the perfect component to keep the story going. It's so normal that it was charming in it's simplicity. And just flat out funny with her sibling fights. The only "edge" was Emma's stalker and how that all played out, but it didn't consume the storyline and we spent 95% of the book just getting to know Emma and Luke and all the imaginative places and ways they could have sex. The HEA is probably not what everyone will be looking for, it kind of leaves us wanting more, but since this is a series I think we will get the rest of it in the next one.  I just really liked this book and can't wait to read the next one, hoping its Brandon/Allie/Jackson.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tessa Bailey--His Risk to Take (Line of Duty #2)

Adult Contemporary Romance (short story)

The greater the risk, the hotter the reward…

Homicide cop Troy Bennett had a reputation on the Chicago PD for being fearless and in control—until the night his daredevil partner is killed during a raid. From that moment on, he swears he’ll never again be responsible for the loss of a loved one. To escape his demons, Troy transfers to the NYPD, bringing him up close and personal with Ruby Elliott, a beautiful, street-savvy pool hustler.

Reckless and stubbornly independent, Ruby embodies everything Troy’s avoiding, but when she walks into O’Hanlon’s Pub and blows his carefully laid plans to hell, Troy knows he has to have her—risks be damned. But there’s a connection between Ruby’s shadowed past and a case Troy’s working involving a notorious Brooklyn felon, throwing her safety into jeopardy. Confronted with his biggest fear, will Troy push Ruby away to keep her safe or fight to keep her in his arms where she belongs?

{4 stars}
This is the second in this series, but they are truly stand-alone stories. The characters do not move forward to the next book. We get a whole new story each time. My only complaint, is that they are to short. I really like Tessa' style of story telling. The characters are passionate, with HOT alpha males. And each story has been unique. Not the same old thing hashed over and over again. Really enjoy these, just wish they were longer.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Shannon K. Butcher--Falling Blind (Sentinel Wars #7)

Paranormal Romance

They are the Sentinels. Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes: the Synestryn. Now a warrior must protect a strong-minded woman from an incredible evil...

A beautiful, independent Theronai, Rory Rainey knows that her attempts to be a warrior are futile—unless she can stop the demonic visions that torment her. Determined to be free, Rory sets out to find the mysterious guardian who can cure her, before she loses her sight—or her life. But Rory’s journey brings its own dangers when she is attacked by a pack of Synestryn sent by the demon lord Raygh.

Cornered and desperate, Rory narrowly escapes with the help of a sword-wielding stranger. Cain knows that Rory needs his protection to survive, just as he knows that her power is compatible with his own. And when Rory binds herself to Cain, the warrior knows he will do anything to keep her safe from the threat of the demon lord that pursues her...

{3.5 stars}
Cain deserves some happiness, after all he sacrificed for Sybil, he should get his HEA. This one started out strong, but fizzled about two-thirds of the way in. I didn't connect with Rory, she was a little annoying to me. Maybe because I felt so much Cain, I didn't like the way she treated him in the beginning. And I actually put this one down and read 2 other books before picking it back up. But when I went back to it, I had a fresh impression of it and really enjoyed it. Rory turned out to be a strong character who helped save Cain in the end. The series moves along quite a bit in this one, and even if you don't like Rory either, it's important to read this one for the path of the series as a whole. There are a lot of key plot points that happen. The traitor to Dabyr is revealed, another Synestryn goes down, and we lose a few more Theronai. And who is Justice? That looks like an interesting storyline. Overall, not the best in the series, but worth the read for the series as a whole.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

L.A. Fiore--Beautifully Damaged

Contemporary Adult Romance

Ember Walsh was always the quiet one, enjoying a book and a glass of wine over the noise and crowds of a club, but when her best friend asks her to come out and meet the boy she likes Ember's world is turned upside down. He appears like a mythical avenging angel, inked, gorgeous and completely out of her league but one look and Ember no longer wants the quiet, she wants him.

Trace Montgomery has buried his damaged past with women and fighting until one day he meets an angel and suddenly he wants more, he wants her. For her, he's determined to overcome his demons but will the dark secret that links their pasts bring them closer or will it tear them apart.

{5 stars}

I've been sitting here watching the cursor flash, trying to put my thoughts together about this book. The synopsis doesn't even come close to doing this book justice. Thankfully I decided to give it a try anyway. It is so much more than good girl meets bad boy. It is layered, emotional, and reflects damage that no human should endure. But sometimes fate has a way of putting people in our lives that have the power to save us if we only open our eyes and take the chance.

This story is in 2 parts, the black then the white. It is heart wrenching in its blackness and I felt every emotional pain and tear that Ember felt. Beautifully written, I felt immersed in the story and was emotionally attached and along for the ride. Trace has had a life full of pain and damage, but he has managed to put one foot in front of the other and keep living. But his life is without love or happiness, and he truly believes that that is all he deserves. But Ember sees past all that. But you can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved. There in lies the problem. If Ember gives up and walks away, he will be doomed to a life that's not really worth living. And mixed in with their "true love" journey is the storyline of both of their pasts. And a decade old murder mystery that needs to be solved for them to move forward and really be free.

There are so many romance stories out there that start out in the bedroom, and for the most part stay there. But this story doesn't take that leap and takes us on the emotional journey first. I found that refreshing, that there wasn't sex for the sake of sex and that we really followed along on the path that meant the most to them and the storyline. Some people might find the second part of the book a little sappy at times, but I felt that it worked. I cried with them, laughed with them, and enjoyed this story immensely. Take the leap and give this one a try.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Katy Evans-Real (Real, Raw & Ripped #1)

Contemporary Adult Romance

A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
A competition…

He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…

Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.

He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .

But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.

I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.

If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?

{5 stars}

I picked up this book solely on the reviews of my Goodreads friends, and was not disappointed.

Wow....not much more to say than that. It's really hard to put into words how much I liked this story without giving anything away. They are both damaged, Brooke's dreams for her life were shattered, and she has finally found a way to move forward with a new passion. Remy was broken at an early age and has never had anyone care enough to try and reach him. There are only 3 people in his life who don't want him solely for his fame in the ring and the money that comes from it. But he sees Brooke at a match and it's instant. He wants her. But can she handle who he really is? Remy scares her, but draws her in all at the same time. He is a wounded Lion with scars and thorns who needs someone to anchor and free him. Someone who will love only him, for who he really is, not his fame or money. And who can accept the damage that haunts him.

It was an emotional ride, we spend a great deal of time in Brooke's head, hearing mostly her dialogue. Remy isn't a great communicator. But as you will see he communicates in subtle ways that just pull at your heart. The second half of this book pulled at me so much I stayed up really late to finish it (while crying), and got up and reread the ending and epilogue this morning. Loved it! Can't wait to see what their future brings.