Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Denial by Lisa Renee Jones

Title: Denial
Author: Lisa Renee Jones 
My Rating: B+

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Careless Whispers #1
Main Characters: Ella and Kayden
Release Date: November 2015
Publisher: Gallery
Links to Purchase:

Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
Book one in the CARELESS WHISPERS series. This is a standalone spin-off of the INSIDE OUT series (soon to be a TV show) that follows Ella Ferguson, Sara McMillan's best friend.

Ella Ferguson awakes alone in Italy, unsure of who she is, and a gorgeous man has claimed her as his own. He’s tall, dark, and sexy, with money and power, the kind of man who makes a girl want to be possessed. And he does possess her, whispering wicked wonderful promises to her, stealing her trust and her heart. Soon though, the past finds her, yanking her from a cocoon of passion and safety. Everything is not how it seems. The truth will shatter her world, but it can set her free, if it doesn't destroy her first.

My Review:
Lisa Renee Jones with another twisted, suspense-filled sexy series with more twists and turns. 

I wasn't a big fan of the last book I read by this author, so I went into reading this one with some doubts. But Kayden and Ella quelled them rather quickly. Although that sure doesn't mean that I'm not still sitting here with questions...lots of them. Like most LRJ books, this one left me with more questions at the end than I'd had throughout the entire book, but her ability to weave these stories is exactly why I love her writing. 

Ella is an American in Italy who woke up in a hospital with a concussion and no memory, and the gorgeous, extremely wealthy and powerful Kayden promising to take care of her. Nothing to be suspicious about there, right? It's everyday that strangers offer to take on a mountain of problems for people they don't know, right? Yeah, exactly. But despite those doubts, I like Kayden...a lot. Do I think he's hiding things? Hell, yeah. But he's one of those guys who's an alpha protector. I think he's hiding things with the best of intentions for Ella... and maybe for himself too. 

I wasn't too sure about Ella for a lot of the book...but a lot of that is because she's not a fully-formed character. She has no memory of herself, so she doubts everything including her own intuitions. But as her memory is coming back and details are emerging, I'm liking her more and more. I also like that she's becoming so much more herself and a force to be reckoned with. I love a girl who can take care of herself. 

I have no idea where this series is going to take us (I need to go back and re-read from the other series because they loosely tie together to see if there are any hints that I simply don't remember), but I'm anxious for book #2. It's called Demand and that title alone tells me I'm going to like Ella in the next book. She's definitely owed some answers. 

This is a book full of twists and turns. Don't go into it expecting anything to be answered. It will happen eventually in the series, but until then it's a fantastic ride of trying to figure out how all the players impact the story and the mystery. I have a few suspicions, but I have a feeling I'm guessing more wrong than right. LOL. Bring on book #2!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Should've Said No by Tracy March

Title: Should've Said No
Author: Tracy March 
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Thistle Bend #1
Main Characters: Lindsey and Carden
Release Date: November 2015
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:

Welcome to Thistle Bend! Perfect for fans of Susan Mallery, this charming series debut introduces a small town where old secrets are revealed—and wounded hearts are opened to new love.

A year after being laid off from the Smithsonian, Lindsey Simms says yes to a job offer as curator of a heritage museum in Thistle Bend, Colorado (population 1,519). It could be worse—and it is. Because the new museum has escalated a dispute between the Karlssons, Lindsey’s relatives, and the Crenshaws, a blood feud which goes way back to a land deal that changed the fortunes of both families. Trying to stay objective, Lindsey can’t tell anyone about her conflict of interest—especially not the ruggedly handsome handyman fixing up her cabin, who seems to be keeping secrets of his own.

Although he’s the executive director of the family trust and one of Colorado’s most eligible bachelors, Carden Crenshaw prefers getting his hands dirty in town and on his sprawling ranch. Staying busy has given him an excuse not to risk heartbreak, but getting to know the beautiful “museum lady” makes him reconsider. Little does he know, the heat between them will only add fuel to the fire—unless this unlikely couple can prove they’re lovers, not fighters.
My Review:
This book had an interesting premise. The small Colorado town is setting up a new museum and Lindsey is a museum expert who's been brought in to tackle the job. But the job is much more than she expects since she's expected to unravel the town's family feud that's gone on for the last 150 years. But it's a family feud that involves HER family...it's just that only three people in town know that...Lindsey and her great aunt and uncle. 

Of course, in a love story trope as old as Romeo and Juliet, you know that the hero is going to come from the family on the opposite side of the family feud. Lindsey is feeling pressure from all sides to track down the correct details of what really happened so long ago. 

There were things that I loved about this book:
*the setting was pure perfection. Such gorgeous imagery in this book especially the wildflowers. I've spent a bit of time in the mountains of Colorado and after reading this book, I felt like I'd been for a quick visit back to the state.
*Carden...I thought it was great that he acts as the town's handyman especially since he's also part of the town's richest, most powerful family. It made him seem more real and down to earth.
*I loved the elderly ladies (and now can't remember their names...Milly and ???). They were awesome and I loved the slightly paranormal/magical aspect they added to the story. There wasn't any of that actually happening, but they had that kind of magical air to them like they knew so much more than everyone else.

At times, the story seemed to lag a little bit, but I think a lot of that was simple repetition. Lindsey is searching for answers and not having much luck...for weeks. She needs that to earn her a way back to DC. I get that, but it was maybe stated in the book a few dozen too many times. Overall, that was a tiny niggle, but the repetition did slow down the story and took me out of the book quite a few times.

Note: the resolution for the controversy...I never would have guessed that and LOVED the real story. That was a serious highlight of this book. Brilliantly written by the author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Stranded by HelenKay Dimon

Title: Stranded
Author: HelenKay Dimon 
My Rating: A-

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: -
Main Characters: Cabe and Brax
Release Date: November 2015
Publisher: Riptide
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Cabe got out of the gun-for-hire business the hard way—by nearly dying. Except then his former boss calls in one last favor for one final job. The mission should be simple: get a message to a retired operative in Alaska. But it puts Cabe face-to-face with the one man he doesn’t want to see and can never forget. Not after all the secrets and lies. Not after Brax almost killed him.

Brax Hughes lived hard and retired young to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Well, that was the plan, but before he can hang up his sniper rifle, he has one last mission: win back Kyle Cabe. Brax wants another chance, wants to come clean, but after months of lying to Cabe, he knows he could face a bullet—or worse—when they meet again. And they will meet. Brax made sure of that.

With a storm moving in and someone lurking outside the cabin, time is running out. Brax needs to talk fast and keep his weapons ready. And his best weapon is the truth.


Twenty percent of the proceeds from this title will be donated to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center.

Founded in 1996, the GLBT National Help Center is a non-profit organization that provides vital peer-support, community connections and resource information to people with questions regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Utilizing a diverse group of GLBT volunteers, they operate two national hotlines, the GLBT National Hotline and the GLBT National Youth Talkline, as well as private, volunteer one-to-one online chat, that help both youth and adults with coming-out issues, safer-sex information, school bullying, family concerns, relationship problems and a lot more.

To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit their website: http://www.glbthotline.org/

My Review:
I'll admit I had no idea what this book was about when I sat down to read it. I just knew it was an m/m holiday book by HelenKay Dimon...sold on all accounts. So I was really shocked when I started reading and realized this was much more romantic suspense in that both mc's are assassins who have a wild history that involved attempted murder and espionage. Even more SOLD!

I started reading and didn't want to put it down, until I unraveled all the threads of what happened between Brax and Cabe. Wow, what a tangled web, but it made for a sexy, drama and angst filled read that I simply LOVED. When the book begins the reader has no idea what happened between these two men...only that in the last year, they were supposed to both have died and that there was a once-in-a-lifetime type love between them that somehow got completely blown up in the aftermath. As each little detail and twist emerges the full story becomes more and more shocking and more and more heartbreaking. 

This is seriously my type of story. I loved all the twists and turns in it. That made for a riveting read and the fact that it takes place in a snowy wilderness during the holidays...all the better. 

I may not have realized what I was getting when I picked up this story, but it was so much more and so much better than I expected. I truly and thoroughly enjoyed it. (And I know I didn't say much about the actual story, but that's because I don't want to write anything that might provide a spoiler.)

Read it and enjoy untwisting the mystery of the past and present between these men. I think you'll like it.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Wilde For Her by Tonya Burrows (audiobook)

Title: Wilde For Her
Author: Tonya Burrows
My Rating: A-
Narrator: Eric G. Dove

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Wilde Security #2
Main Characters: Cam and Eva
Release Date: January 2015
Publisher: Entangled
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Former homicide detective Camden Wilde has been in love with his ex-partner Eva Cardoso for longer than he cares to admit. Not that it matters. She's shoved him into the friend zone, and after living through the hell of his parents' violent deaths, Cam's unable to give her the idyllic life she secretly desires. 
Eva's never met a person who hasn't let her down. Cam may be sex personified, but he's the only man she can trust, and there's no way she'll risk their friendship on the off-chance they could be more. Especially not after the one scintillating night she's trying - and failing - to forget. 
When a murder-for-hire contract on his head lands Eva on his doorstep, Cam knows it's time to put up or shut up. He's done biding his time, and he'll be damned if he lets the delectable detective ignore what's between them, no matter the cost.
My Review:

I enjoy a male narrator for a lot of my romance novels just because the male parts are always my favorite, but I have to say that I think Eric G. Dove is one of the best. His voice is just so smooth and deep. I love to listen to him. To make it even better, he does not make his females sound dimwitted like so many of the male narrators do. (And it's nothing against male narrators, but for a man to take on a female style voice, they tend to get breathy which a lot of the time makes the female characters sound dim-witted...Eric G. Dove does NOT have that issue.) If I ever release any of my books on audio, he will be at the top of my preferred narrator list! He has a great voice with a lot of different inflections and I love the way he narrates the Wilde men.

So, this story...
This story is about Cam. He's one of the twins and I love the two of them. Vaughn and Cam are close, closer even than they are to the rest of their brothers...and mind you, they all work together so as a whole, they are a close group. But I love Cam and Vaughn. The issue is in this book...someone is trying to kill Cam...oh, and yeah, Vaughn has his face too. See where this might be an issue? As a result, Cam is trying to keep this entire investigation and himself away from all his brothers. He doesn't want anyone caught in the crossfire. But when his informant that told him about the hit ends up dead, everything gets complicated.

And that pulls Eva into the case. Not only is she Cam's best friend, she's also his former police partner and a homicide detective. Throughout the course of this story, their friendship morphs into more. But both Cam and Eva have issues that make a commitment between them difficult. Cam NEVER sees himself as a commitment guy and Eva knows that. She on the other hand, has this unrealistic, idealistic view of a committed relationship. What they have together works...it's just that neither of them can see the potential in that. 

It was a good book. I listened to the entire thing with the audio version. I did mention how yummy Eric G. Dove's voice is, right? Now the issue is...book #3 is out, but not in audio yet. Do I wait? I really don't want to because I love the Wilde brothers and am ready for another one of their stories, but I love listening to this series on audio. I think I'm just going to have to keep an eye on Audible and hope it comes out soon. (Note...this review won't post until late November, but I wrote it in early October, so that status may no longer be accurate. I'm really hoping it won't.)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Gus by Kim Holden

Title: Gus
Author: Kim Holden
My Rating: A+

Genre: New Adult
Series: Bright Side #2
Main Characters: Gus and Scout
Release Date: May 2015
Publisher: -
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
The journey that began in top-rated, best-selling Bright Side, continues ... 

This is the story of Gus. 
Losing himself. 
Finding himself. 
And healing along the way. 

“ … but the honest-to-God truth is I don’t even know how to function anymore. Bright Side wasn’t only my best friend; she was like my other half ... the other half of my brain, the other half of my conscience, the other half of my sense of humor, the other half of my creativity, the other half of my heart. How do you go back to doing what you did before, when half of you is gone forever?” 

My Review:

Bright Side was absolutely one of the most beautiful, most heartbreaking, most heart wrenching, uplifting books I've read this year. I read it two months ago and it's taken me that long to be brave enough to pick up Gus (although my reviews will probably post close together...I read Bright Side in July, Gus in Sept). 

And if you haven't read Bright Side, you need to stop reading this review right now because it will contain spoilers...oh, and you need to go buy it because these books are FABULOUS and contain such an incredible message about how to LIVE and love life. They are both PHENOMENAL. But they need to be read together and Bright Side has to come first. 

So...Gus. It took me so long to start this book simply because I wasn't ready to read about Gus without Bright Side. I had to have my mourning period, too. But this book picks up the day of Bright Side's funeral...and it's just as hard to read as I thought it would be. 

But just like Gus is slowly healing throughout the book, I, as a reader was slowly healing, too. Just like Bright Side, this is a book about happiness, and living life to the fullest, and DO EPIC. And the entire story is just that...Epic. 

Gus is broken...so broken...and I'll be honest, it hurts to read about his pain. In fact about the first 25% of this book is filled with that pain. But Kate was everything to Gus...of course it's going to hurt. But slowly, Gus and his mother, and even the glimpses of Keller and his daughter show them all getting up, still sad, but learning how to move on and embrace life...just like Kate taught them. 

There is so much to love about this book, but at the heart is that same theme...Live. Do Epic. It may be the hardest thing you ever do, but it's worth it. Life is worth it. And that's a theme that speaks to my heart and left me with a smile on my face as I turned the final page. The conclusion...seriously, so perfect. I wanted to read it out loud to my husband but I had too much emotion clogging my throat to do that.

And I probably should mention Scout, because she's a phenomenal character...broken more than a little bit, too. She has her own incredible growth throughout the story, but this book belongs to Gus...purely his. And I don't want to focus on anything but him. BUT I should note...I love what happened with Gus's mother and their family at the end...again, perfection. 

I adored this book just like I adored Bright Side. I don't think any story could reach the level of perfection that Bright Side did, but wow...Gus is a close second.

Read them. Read them both!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Prickly By Nature by Kenzie Cade and Piper Vaughn

Title: Prickly by Nature
Author: Kenzie Cade and Piper Vaughn 
My Rating: B+

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series: Portland Pack Chronicles #2
Main Characters: Avery and Dylan
Release Date: November 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase:

Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
In the four months since hedgehog shifter Avery Babineaux started investigating the disappearance of a young female werewolf from the Portland Pack, he’s discovered his life’s passion. Now he’s apprenticing under established PI Corbin Reid. Avery hopes his training with Reid will help him finally bring Lacey home, but detective work isn’t without its perils, and the potential dangers strain his relationship with his new mate, Dylan.

Dylan Green would be perfectly content with his mating and his motorcycle shop if it wasn’t for his constant worry about Avery’s safety and the fact that Avery’s never home. Proud as he might be of Avery’s determination to prove his worth and fulfill his promise to Lacey’s father, Dylan can’t stand the thought of Avery being hurt. Yet what right does he have to demand Avery give up his job when it’s clear Avery’s found his true purpose? Still, Dylan wishes he could, and the appearance of a new police detective who sets his sights on Avery only adds to the tension.

Something has to give, but stubbornness runs in both their veins, and it might take a catastrophe for them to find a compromise they can live with.
My Review:
I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment of this book which is always a worry when it comes to a second book featuring the same couple. Sometimes it's hard to maintain that same quality of story line into the second and subsequent books. For this series that was especially true just because the conflict between the two MC's was their inherent differences that kept them apart. But the authors used those differences brilliantly in this book to maintain the same style of conflict without compromising the quality and depth of commitment between these two characters. That isn't an easy balance to maintain...at all.

In this book, Dylan and Avery are making their relationship work...for the most part. Dylan still has issues with wanting to protect Avery from everything, while Avery still has issues wanting to handle everything for himself. What makes this work for them is Dylan's very real commitment to making them work...and I'll admit this relationship is a bit one-sided in that willingness to compromise. I loved Dylan for that. He compromises with Avery to keep Avery happy. Although Avery makes compromises, too, a lot of his compromises are less thought out than Dylan's. Dylan makes a concerted effort day in and day out to curb his protective, alpha tendencies with Avery. Once again, I loved Dylan and his ability to see what his mate needs. He is so much why this relationship works for me as a reader. I love seeing his level of commitment. 

And although Avery is just as in love with Dylan as Dylan is with him, he just isn't used to thinking about someone else. As a hedgehog shifter, Avery is used to tackling everything himself. That group (pack) mentality that Dylan automatically has doesn't come into play for Avery. As a result, a lot of the time he doesn't realize just how much his actions are hurting Dylan until after the fact and then he feels awful. Avery approaches their relationship differently and while it isn't wrong, it makes things feel like Dylan is getting the short end of the relationship a lot of the time.

I like watching the constant push and pull between the two of them while they try to figure out how to make this all work. Let's face it, who would consider a mating between a wolf and a hedgehog? They are wildly different and that makes their approaches to life wildly different. I thoroughly enjoy the way the authors have done that with their characters. It makes for a really interesting dichotomy.

There a lot of side stories happening in the background of this book. Some of them are resolved, but several of them are not. All of them were really interesting and I'm so hoping that means we have several more books coming from this series. There are so many really interesting characters in this pack and I need all of Dylan and Avery's friends to find their HEA's too. From Lucas and the mystery happening in his life to Jaden's really messed up mate. I'm ready for another book announcement for this series. I just hope it comes really quickly. (And I don't think I could ever get tired of Avery/Dylan stories, and with the set up of Avery's PI business, they could continue on for a lot of books.)

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Real World by Amy Jo Cousins

Title: Real World
Author: Amy Jo Cousins 
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Bend or Break #5
Main Characters: Tom and Reese
Release Date: November 2015
Publisher:  Samhain
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.

At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.

Warning: This book contains two adorable guys with way too many secrets, conciliatory rigatoni, a bedroom lesson on the power of multitasking, and indisputable evidence on what makes the perfect holiday HEA.

My Review:
Aww, I loved getting this new look at Tom and Reese. That's my one complaint about New Adult is that the mc's tend to be so young, I'm never sure if they'll make it long-term...so I loved that we got to see more of them a little bit later in life. 

And it's not that everything is sunshine and roses for Tom and Reese now, either. It's definitely not. In fact, they are having some real issues. Tom is still  having a lot of the same problems in that he withdraws into himself when he's stressed. After so many years, Reese gets that about his boyfriend, but that doesn't make it any easier when Tom shuts him out. To make things even more complicated, Reese has some really exciting stuff happening in his life that Tom is missing out on because Tom is so shut down. 

Once again, my heart hurt for these guys, but I love the way Reese handles Tom. He gets Tom's issues and for the most part, he doesn't let those scare him away. But Tom also killed me...he should trust Reese with his issues at this point, shouldn't he? There were moments when I just wanted to shake him...mainly because he knows better. But I also get that life can get to be overwhelming and then we revert back to our old destructive methods. It just made it hard to watch sometimes.

But what helped ease that ^^^ stress were Steph and Cash. I love them so much and loved that they kept popping up in this book with their irreverent love and relationship. So much about their additions to the story worked for me and it did lighten the tone a lot...which the book needed. 

Overall, I am so happy that Amy Jo Cousins chose to write this one. It just made me happy...at least in the end. And this quote from the book just says it all...all of the distress in the story rolled up into one sentence. 

"Because it was hard to see yourself as the hero in someone else’s story 
when you knew you weren’t worthy of it."

So many feels. Love this author. Love this book. Love these guys. Love this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.