Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Crossing Borders by Z.A. Maxfield

Title: Crossing Borders
Author: Z.A. Maxfield
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m) 
Main Characters: Tristan and Michael
Release Date: August 2015
Publisher: Samhain
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Two dudes walk into a bookstore…

Tristan knows he’s got issues. His latest ex-girlfriend knows it too. He can’t blame her for dumping him—even though she gets her brother to do it for her. Since he can’t stop staring at said brother’s package, he figures it’s about time to put a label on those issues. He likes guys.

He heads to a local bookstore with what he’s sure is a foolproof plan to find someone to show him what he’s been missing. But who should crash his little adventure? Officer Michael Truax, who gave him a really expensive ticket back in high school for skateboarding without a helmet.

Michael has been trying to catch Tristan for years...to give him a second ticket. Suddenly faced with “Sparky”, all grown up and looking to get laid, Michael’s protective instinct kicks in—and presents him with an opportunity that’s hard to resist. After all, the kid must know what he’s getting into, so why not? 

But when a man with a plan connects with a man with a hunger, the result is nothing short of explosive.

This book has been previously published. 

Product Warnings: Contains high-octane hair, a clawfoot bathtub, and a story that will make you believe in love at first sight. Okay, second sight, but who’s counting?

My Review:
Overall, I liked this book. It  was sweet and sexy and fun. I loved how the relationship between Michael and Tristan developed, especially at first. That initial scene with Michael in the bookstore and the advisory tweets was classic. I grinned all the way through that!

Their back story is really cute with how Michael ticketed Tristan for not wearing a skateboarding helmet. It sets up perfectly to show Michael's ingrained protective nature. I loved that about him. But Tristan is pretty protective too which is especially heartwarming considering he's 9 years younger than Michael. His scenes where he's defended Michael from Ron were fabulous. I wanted to stand up and cheer. 

There were so many little moments like this that made this book for me. It's a great book about two very different guys finding their way. For Tristan, he's just discovered he's gay and is exploring that. For Michael, the emotions involved become very deep, very quickly. Not exactly easy for a cop when he's being pulled other directions. 

Although there were moments when I thought 19 was too young for the depth of seriousness in this relationship, I loved these two guys and their story. It was romantic and a seriously sexy read. Tristan is new to all of this, but he is a fast learner. I liked the glimpses of him taking charge too...wowzer...talk about sexy. 

I enjoy stories that feature newly gay characters and this one really worked for me. These two guys fall hard and fast, but to me, it wasn't too fast. They just simply work that well together which is obvious from the first. I liked the familial aspects of both their lives and how those relationships played into the story, especially since the book falls over the holidays and some rather earth-shattering events. 

I liked it!

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

Monday, August 3, 2015

Cover Reveal: Blue Blooded by Shelly Bell

Where Rachel discovers more than just her kinky side. Will she and Logan fight off their attraction while trying to prove their innocence? 
Title: Blue Blooded
Author: Shelly Bell
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Page Count: 300 pages
Publisher: Avon Red Impulse
Format: Digital eBook
ISBN: 9780062396488


A woman who refuses to be tied down...

Investigative reporter Rachel Dawson is always looking for her next big story. While working on a feature about BDSM, she lands a one-night, no-holds-barred pass into the exclusive sex club, Benediction. Rachel doesn’t have a deviant bone in her body—or so she thought—until the infuriating, ex-soldier Logan Bradford convinces her to try rope bondage under his capable hands. But a steamy night turns deadly when Rachel and Logan witness a gruesome murder.
 A Dom who's determined to bind her to him...
Framed for a crime they didn’t commit and hunted by corrupt FBI agents, they flee. As Rachel and Logan search for evidence to clear their names, the attraction they’ve been fighting ignites into fiery passion. Love is the last thing Rachel wants, but night by night, as Logan binds her body, he unravels the knots around her heart. And when they uncover a shocking political conspiracy, Rachel will stop at nothing to reveal the truth…and it just might kill her.

Also in the Benediction series: While Collared serials: Mercy, Green, Revenge, Passion | Red Handed

Available at:  Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Author Bio:

A sucker for a happy ending, Shelly Bell writes sensual romance often with a bit of kink and action-filled erotic thrillers with high-emotional stakes for her alpha heroes and kick-ass heroines.

She began writing upon the insistence of her husband who dragged her to the store and bought her a laptop. When she’s not working her day job, taking care of her family, or writing, you’ll find her reading the latest smutty romance.

She currently writes for Avon Red Impulse, Loose Id, and Soul Mate Publishing.

Connect with Shelly:   Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ Pinterest | Linkedin | YouTube

Love and Always by Sophie Jackson

Title: A Pound of Flesh
Author: Sophie Jackson
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: A Pound of Flesh #1.5
Main Characters: Wes and Kat
Release Date: August 2015
Publisher: Gallery
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Orange Is the New Black meets Jennifer Probst’s New York Timesbestselling Marriage to a Billionaire trilogy, in this e-novella of love and redemption in the sensational A Pound of Flesh series.

When prison tutor Kat Lane met arrogant inmate Wesley Carter in A Pound of Flesh, it was hate at first sight. Carter’s quick wit and reputation for being as dangerous as he was handsome kept her at a distance. But as they grew to know each other as teacher and student in the New York prison, Kat found there was much more to Carter than she thought.

In Love and Always, Kat and Carter’s story continues as they share the news of their engagement—which doesn’t go over well with Kat’s mother. On top of it all, Carter has a new role as CEO of WCS Communications, which adds more pressure to his new life outside prison. Trying to juggle family, a billion dollar business, and Carter’s best friend Max’s rehab stint doesn’t leave much time for the happy couple to enjoy each other. How will Kat and Carter handle the pressures of marriage, family, and work—and keep the passion alive through it all?

My Quickie Review:
This is a short and sweet little novella which is all it's meant to be. It covers a few days at Christmastime and serves as a little bookmark for where Carter and Kat are in their lives as they move into their engagement. The story allows the reader to catch up with where they are in their lives and gives a little bit more insight into how difficult things are for Max in rehab, although he's never on the page. 

As a fan of the first book, it's nice to see this little peek into their lives, but there's not much real substance or point to this novella. It's simply that...a tiny tidbit with a bit more of Kat and Carter for fans. And as that, it's a fun read. 

The best thing about it...that beautiful cover. I love how soft and romantic it feels...very reflective of how good things finally are between Kat and Carter. I do love to see them truly happy and fulfilled together. This novella is very satisfying in that regard.

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

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Pound of Flesh by Sophie Jackson

Title: A Pound of Flesh
Author: Sophie Jackson
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: A Pound of Flesh #1
Main Characters: Wes and Kat
Release Date: June 2015
Publisher: Gallery
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Lose your heart to your new bad boy book boyfriend. Wes Carter - sexy, edgy, behind bars, with emotional scars as permanent as the ink on his skin, just waiting to be healed by love...

Fans of Samantha Young, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Jamie McGuire, Katy Evans and Prison Break will find this powerful love story utterly addictive and unforgettable.

Their love is forbidden. But won't be denied... Can true love heal the deepest scars?

For Kat Lane, teaching inmates at a New York prison is her way of upholding the legacy of her beloved father, murdered fifteen years ago. But when new student Wes Carter walks into her classroom, she's shaken by the strength of her attraction to him. Carter is as handsome as he is dangerous, as mysterious as he is quick-witted - and he ensures people keep their distance. Yet vibrant Kat bypasses his defences and challenges him to reveal the real man behind the intimidating reputation. As their emotional barriers crumble, their inescapable but forbidden feelings cannot be ignored. But will Kat's discovery of Carter's role on the night her father died force them apart...or bind their hearts for ever?

A Pound of Flesh is a tale of loyalty, redemption and all-consuming love against the odds, introducing an irresistible bad boy hero...

My Review:
I received this book for review too late for me to review it when it was released, but I heard great things about it, so it's been in my must-read-as-soon-as-possible pile. And it was worth the wait. I did enjoy the book. 

I love books that are all about fate and this one was a great one for that. I do love ex-con books, but wasn't sure how this one would go over since the two get involved WHILE he is in prison... but then there's that connection of fate that made it work for me.

And I have to admit that I love Carter's story...he's certainly not your typical convict. I wish that the story had gone just a bit more into his back story and how he ended up along this path of crime. His back story was touched upon in how messed up his family left him, but there has to be more to how he ended up as a criminal. Maybe we will get more of that story in Max's book, who happens to be Carter's best friend and the reason that Carter is in prison...this time.

And then there's Kat. There were a few issues with her story that I had problems with, but overall I did like her. Her connection with her father was beautiful, especially in how it all ties into her connection with Carter. I hated her mother and could not deal with how completely inflexible she is. I know that's the point, but still...ugh.

While the story was good and I enjoyed the characters, I did have some problems with the writing. There is a LOT of head-hopping within the characters POV. I don't think most people would even notice, but that's one of the issues with being a writer...I've been taught not to do that, so I notice it big-time when others do it and it can make for distracted reading. 

BUT, the story is good enough that I could ignore that for the most part. It's a great character driven story, and I'm definitely excited to read more in the series. It was an unlikely love story and I love the creativity of that. I'd definitely recommend it.

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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bad News Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Title: Bad News Cowboy
Author: Maisey Yates
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Copper Ridge #3
Main Characters: Kate and Jack
Release Date: July 2015
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Can the bad boy of Copper Ridge, Oregon, make good—and win the rodeo girl of his dreams? 

Kate Garrett keeps life simple—working hard, riding her beloved horses, playing cards with her brothers. Lately, though, she feels a bit restless, especially when family friend Jack Monaghan is around. Sexy and shameless, Jack is the kind of trouble you don't tangle with unless you want your heart broken. Still, Kate could always use his help in learning how to lasso someone a little less high-risk… 

Jack can't pinpoint the moment the Garrett brothers' little sister suddenly stopped seeming so…little. Now here he is, giving flirting tips to the one woman who needs zero help turning him on. Love's a game he's never wanted to play. But he'll have to hurry up and learn how before the best thing that ever entered his life rides right back out again…

My Review:
Aw, this was the sweetest read just because both Jack and Kate are so messed up...they deserve a wonderful happily ever after! I love how much they heal one another just because they each have had really crummy lives. 

This is a friends to lovers romance and although there were certain aspects that typified that trope, Kate is a very closed off character, so there was a lot of the time it was like Jack was discovering her for the first time. He's spent too much of his life looking at her as a little girl. There's a transition here for him to him seeing her as a valid love interest and then it got really good. I loved their chemistry and how much they both yearn for the other. 

There is also the dynamic that Jack's really close friendships are with Kate's older brothers, Cal and Conner, and they are not going to understand how Jack defiled their little sister...no matter how much she was involved with the seduction process. 

There was a lot to love about this book. I truly enjoyed both Jack and Kate. They both have heartbreaking back stories, but Jack's was especially emotional in this book with the callousness of his father. There were so many moments in this book when I just wanted to give him a huge hug. And when Kate hurt him, it broke my heart. I enjoyed the ranching and rodeo aspects of the story and loved the visuals within the book. 

I loved getting to see the other two couples from the other books. This has been a really enjoyable series, and I'm so glad I picked it up for review. The entire series has been great, but I think Kate and Jack stand out as my favorite characters. I really enjoyed this one!

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

30 Days by Christine d'Abo

Title: 30 Days
Author: Christine d'Abo
My Rating: B

Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Jackson: 30 Days #1
Main Characters: Alyssa and Harrison
Release Date: July 2015
Publisher: Kensington
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
For years, Alyssa has been going to bed with a memory. Is she ready to wake up with a fantasy?

Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mate, but not Alyssa Barrow. She met Rob at nineteen, and they were set to live happily ever after—until he became ill. In his final days, Rob urged his beautiful, young wife not to abandon happiness—or pleasure. He even left her a special gift, a sexy game plan to help her move on: Thirty cards with instructions for thirty days of passion. You’ll know when the time is right, he’d said. Now it’s two years later, and when Alyssa meets her hot new neighbor, Harrison Kemp, she begins to think the right time is right now…

From his sculpted thighs to his devilish grin, Harrison is the kind of man women want. Before she can lose her nerve, Alyssa tells Harrison about her long-ignored cards…and asks him to help her fulfill them. It’s a favor he’s more than happy to, um, perform. With his skillful touch, and the hot press of his lips against her skin, Alyssa finds herself re-awakening to life—and a host of other sensations. But what began as not-so-innocent fun soon grows into true intimacy, and Alyssa realizes she’s opening herself up not just to sex…but to love. When it comes to a future with Harrison, what’s really in the cards?

Saucy, heartwarming, and insightful, 30 Days explores the agony—and the ecstasy—of starting over, and how a little encouragement, and a little courage, can go a long way…
My Review:
Even though this book comes from the beginnings of a sad place, it's such a sweet, heartwarming, sexy story. Overall, I really enjoyed it. 

It's been two years since Alyssa's husband died from cancer. They both knew he was dying and he left her with instructions and an envelope filled with cards. When she was ready to move on, he left her 30 cards of sexual exploration so that she could work through the guilt and difficulties of moving on. He was her first and only lover...that's not easy to get past.

My heart bled for Alyssa and what she's going through. She was completely in love with her husband and it's hard to let go of that, especially with the parameters that Harrison sets forth for her. This is all about sex...they both agree. Neither wants a relationship, but comparisons for her are inevitable, especially when she's not allowed to form an attachment especially on the surface. 

I liked the way the story and the sexual relationship between the two of them evolved. It seemed more natural than just jumping into sex and I loved Harrison for seeing that she needs that. The cards were fun, although I would have loved to have seen a list of all 30 cards, regardless of whether they got to them all or not. There were some interesting details and side stories with the condo building/coop and the elderly couple. There were also fun little details throughout the book. Harrison is named for Harrison Ford and there's a Star Wars thread that runs through the book and the way that Alyssa tackled the final conflict was brilliant. I was laughing out loud as I read it.

My one complaint...I wish there had been alternating POV's in this book. I just didn't connect with Harrison's character as much as I did with Alyssa. And I know that was by design, but I think I could have really fallen fully in love with his character if we'd had his POV. But other than that, it was a fun, sexy book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Frisk Me by Lauren Layne

Title: Frisk Me
Author: Lauren Layne
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: New York's Finest #1
Main Characters: Luc and Ava
Release Date: July 2015
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Officer Luc Moretti had no idea that his dive into the East River would have him drowning in a media frenzy. No matter how many times he tells reporters he was just doing his job, they're determined to make him into NYC's newest hero. Coming from a long line of NYPD's finest, Luc knows that being a cop has nothing to do with headlines and viral videos, and he's more than ready to get back to life away from the cameras—until he meets the gorgeous but jaded journalist assigned to film a TV special on him.

Ava Sims may be the only woman in NYC who isn't in love with Officer Moretti. That's why she's going after the real story—to find out about the man behind the badge. Ava's determined to keep things strictly professional, but the more time she spends around Luc, even she has to admit there's something about a man in uniform . . . and she can't wait to get him out of his.

My Review:
I love this family full of sexy, alpha, Italian cops. I do not love the blond cover model. What part of dark, broody, Italian is confusing? He's gorgeous, but...LOL.

But regardless of that, this is a pretty good book. I loved the fantastic chemistry  and conflict between Luc and Ava. They were simply explosive together and that made for a really sexy read full of sexual tension that I enjoyed. 

And they have things in common too because they both have internal conflict about their job. 

For Luc, that tracks back to a case which resulted in the death of his partner and a young girl. He has a lot of guilt over his actions surrounding those events. Actions that everyone agrees weren't his fault. Hindsight is 20/20 and he's human. It wasn't his fault. Period. Dot. He also has issues in this family of cop over-achievers...it's hard to live up to.

For Ava, she's conflicted about her job. Her family also has high expectations for her, which she has taken into her psyche. She has to succeed at any cost...even though she really doesn't enjoy the job, how completely groomed she has to be, or the exploitation of others she has to do for the job. 

A lot of people are hating on this book for what Ava did and her lack of character growth, and to a certain extent, I agree with those criticisms. I just think the author didn't take it far enough. There was a way to do what Ava did and turn it so that she could maintain the story she originally set out to tell, but point out the way that media exploits cops both good and bad. These men and women in uniform are still human beings that have to make split second calls and follow procedure with very real and many times dangerous repercussions. But at the end of the day, they are human, with human emotions, reactions, and they pay for it in a much deeper way...both them and the people who love them and worry for them every day when they leave their home to report into the job. That story line was there, but I don't feel like it was used to the extent it could have been.

But regardless of that one tiny complaint, this was a fantastic book and is setting up a great series. I loved the witty dialogue, the wide cast of characters, and the set-up for the chemistry between Luc and Ava. I thought they were incredibly sexy and fun. And I'm definitely looking forward to more of the Moretti clan. 

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