RELEASE DAY BLITZ – Enchanting Wilder by Cassie Graham

Enchanting Wilder RDB

Title – Enchanting Wilder
Author – Cassie Graham
Publication Date – July 28, 2016
Series – The Wild Series, #1

Enchanting Wilder

Synopsis

Declan Wilder has never met a witch he didn’t hate. He is in the business of protecting the world from all things paranormal, after all. But what happens when one glimpse at an enchanting McKenna Sawyer sends him spinning? Suddenly, Declan can’t help but question everything he thought he knew about the world he’s been sworn to protect for so long.

Plagued by her parents’ death, McKenna Sawyer has no interest in anything outside of her family’s business and her sister’s happiness. So when she’s assigned to warn a Pursuer about his impending death, she’s less than prepared for the way he shifts her world on its axis. And when more time spent with him leads to more secrets about their world revealed, they must decide how their universes fit together — if at all.

The paranormal world is gearing up for a fight, and both Declan and McKenna have been called to battle. But the question remains — will they be fighting for or against each other?

Enchanting Wilder 1

Review

This book is so different from anything that Cassie Graham has released before, but she is certainly in her element. Enchanting Wilder contains components that will satisfy a little bit of everyone’s cravings. There is a dash of romance, a dose of paranormal antics, and even a splash of philosophical musings. I fell in love with the main characters, McKenna and Declan, but also with their tribe, and I have no doubt that other readers will as well.

“I imagine a twenty-something woman with wild, lioness red hair sitting in the grass would put most people on edge. But, here in Summerson, Massachusetts, the weird and strange are considered completely ordinary.”

What I appreciated most about this first book in the new series of standalones was the incredibly imaginative journey I was taken on from beginning to end. It was a girl’s voyage to discovering who she truly was above all else. McKenna slowly received bits and pieces of a puzzle, and only when she came together with those around her was she able to solve it. While there was a romance that brewed with the hero, Declan, it was truly a girl power of the heroine type of novel, and I loved every bit of it! The author was able to bring Enchanting Wilder full circle, while still creating a genuine curiosity for the other characters as well. As soon as you read each of their personalities, you’ll get a thirst for more.

“Have you ever felt something so intense, it takes over your body? You have no control over your actions. You feel like your mind goes out the window and you rely solely on your heart. It shoves you forward, pushes you to the edge and makes you do things you never you’d do.”

As someone who is a descendent of the Salem Witch Trials, I was beyond fascinated with the plot and scenarios these characters got themselves in. It gave me a whole other connection to the novel – one I have never experienced before. On the other hand, there were several religious musings that left me thinking and questioning. While I’m not a religious person, it’s weaved in so delicately that it actually makes sense in the greater arc of the book. I was a little hesitant as I started to make those initial connections, but I am so glad that I stuck it through. The journey from start to finish was shocking, enthralling, and magical – pun intended! The writing was absolutely fantastic and above anything Graham has produced before. She excelled at building up the tension and action to give you a powerful WHOA moment that felt like a firecracker detonating. However, she also then planted all these little seeds and sparks that she had to address, which only lead readers on further.

“Everything is going to be okay. You have to believe in it. Magic doesn’t just come from spells and potions. It comes from within yourself. You’re the magic, you just have to remember it.”

I’ve been following Cassie Graham for quite a while now. I’ve seen her write romance and fun, but nothing has come close to what she’s been able to produce with Enchanting Wilder. I love to see authors grow and finesse their art forms, and I can see that happening with Graham. I’m always looking forward to this author’s next release, but seeing what she produced with these characters has raised the bar for me. I know that the next book will be a success and keep me drooling for more!

Rating
5.png

Enchanting Wilder 2

Excerpt

Crickets chirp in the distance and I wonder if they’ll ever hold the same mundane significance they did before. They used to be irrelevant, unimportant creatures. But now? I can’t imagine a world without them. They’re the soundtrack to a kiss that brought me back to the land of the living. Everything I’ve wanted—everything I’ve needed—is being laid out in front of me by Declan. His passion overwhelms me, and for the first time in my life, my sense of self is overflowing. I no longer feel the need to second-guess my desires.

Every kiss, every stroke of his tongue with mine brings me closer to who I’m supposed to be. It feels as if I’ve been waiting my entire life to find someone to kiss me like this. So passionately—full of want and need.

Declan takes hold of me gently, placing both hands on the side of my face. He slows his pace, and pulls away, kissing my nose.

I’m panting with fervor and smile when his green eyes look into mine.

Declan lowers his voice. “That was…”

I nod, still gasping for air. “It was.”

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Enchanting Wilder 3

Author Bio

Cassie Graham

Cassie Graham is a firey redhead with an intense love for fairytales–angsty, suspenseful fairytales–but fairytales nonetheless. She’s had all kinds of jobs–but the one she loves the most is being a writer. She finds solace in it.

She’s also the mom to a beautiful little girl. Her greatest joy is watching her grow.

Cassie has always loved to write and is so thankful that she’s able to do it full-time. She’s very lucky to have a husband who works non-stop so she can live out her dream. He’s the reason why writing romance is so easy.

Cassie is a born and raised Arizona girl. Though she has moved around a bit, her home always calls to her. It’s where her heart will remain.

If Cassie isn’t writing, she’s more than likely cooking in the kitchen with her daughter or has her nose buried deep in a good book. She loves front porch sitting, drinking coffee, and constantly dating her husband.

Author Links

Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Enchanting Wilder 4

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY – Burn by Elisabeth Grace

burn book tour

Title: Burn
Author: Elisabeth Grace
Series: Duplicity Duet #2
Release Date: July 26, 2016

Burn

Synopsis

One word.

Two letters.

But those two letters changed everything.

It was impossible to predict the impact I would have on the life of the only woman I’d ever truly loved. No way to know that I would result in her ruin.

I’d suffer for eternity with the knowledge that it was me who brought devastation to her doorstep.

Though I deserved the anguish I felt, to see her suffer was unacceptable.

I would fix this.

Somehow I would prove to her that I wasn’t the monster she thought I was.

Even if it meant becoming a monster in order to make that happen.

Burn_1

Review

Elisabeth Grace brings Marco and Emily’s story to a satisfying conclusion with Burn. Picking up right where Hook left off, I was immediately thrust back into the emotional turmoil of this story. Even though everything had changed between them with the events at the end of the first book, Marco and Emily still shared an undeniable connection that permeated each and every page. Their chemistry remained intoxicating despite the total destruction of their relationship and it was those perfectly placed moments of unguarded lust that broke through the heartache and gave me just enough quiet hope to cling to. Elisabeth Grace writes with passion and purpose, bringing this story to life and serving up plenty of action and just enough suspense to keep me furiously flipping the pages. From start to finish, I was hooked on this sexy and thrilling novel, desperate to know how Marco and Emily’s story would end.

“Trust is such a delicate thread that it’s hard to connect the two ends again once it’s been broken.”

I fell in love with Emily and Marco all over again in Burn. Elisabeth Grace continued the fantastic development of these characters, expertly utilizing their pain and heartache to expose new facets of their personalities, giving them depth and keeping me intrigued. An entirely new side of Emily emerged in Burn – a heady mixture of anguish and outrage that permeated the pages and made my heart ache for her. In Emily’s quest for vengeance she revealed herself to be willing to do whatever it takes. I respected her ferocity, even when her actions made me cringe. I found myself in awe of the fighter within her, and it was that unwavering dedication and love that rekindled my connection to this character. Marco on the other hand proved to be a delicious contradiction. He made my heart flutter with the patience and care he showed Emily as she dealt with previous events, only to turn around and demonstrate his capacity for darkness as he fought to find justice for her. I was drawn to Marco’s tender heart and mesmerized by the unbending devotion that drove his need for retribution.

“One day you’ll understand what it means to have a woman set your heart aflame and your soul at ease.”

There was never a dull moment with this novel. While there were pieces of the story that I correctly predicted, Elisabeth Grace still had some surprises up her sleeves. I especially enjoyed the unexpected ways in which some of the secondary characters came into play as Marco and Emily’s story reached its conclusion. Vito, Julian, and Sal were even more intriguing this time around and I found myself feeling a myriad of emotions at their hands. For the most part, Burn was well paced (there was a small portion in the beginning that felt repetitive and moved more slowly). It was only too easy to lose myself all over again in Elisabeth Grace’s fictional world. The writing is captivating, bringing this vibrant and exciting story to life. Each word conveys palpable emotions, skillfully depicting the grief, anger, and sweet relief of Marco and Emily’s journey while maintaining that inexplicable pull between them. Burn was a gut-wrenching and twisted conclusion to an incredible tale of secrets, sacrifice, and love. I can’t wait to see what this author will come up with next!

Rating
4.5.png

Excerpt

Then the door swung open and there he was. For a brief moment I was taken by his handsome features—his olive skin and pronounced jaw, the sparkle in his dark eyes, his perfect, straight nose. More than anything, it was the pull that remained between us that surprised me. Like I was a planet still circling his sun.

There was a moment when we locked eyes that the gravity of all that had happened wasn’t weighing heavy between us, and it almost caused me to stumble back.

Then, after the moment of intimacy had passed, I was sure I saw dread slip over his expression. I wasn’t going to stay put and find out though.

I wouldn’t be standing on his doorstep begging for whatever scraps of information he deemed worthy of casting my way. No, I was here to demand what he, at the very least, owed me, and I wouldn’t leave until he gave it to me.

“We need to talk.” I pushed past him, careful not to make contact, and bolted down the hallway toward the living room.

“Emily, this isn’t a good time.” Marco’s footsteps followed quickly behind me.

“I don’t care. Put aside whatever it is you’re doing. I want answers.”

I came to an abrupt stop when I stepped into the living/dining area and found Alexa sprawled across the couch like she was a feast ready to be enjoyed.

Her blouse was half unbuttoned, her legs draped over the cushions, causing her skirt to ride up a bit on her thighs, and her lips slightly swollen. Her lipstick had been rubbed off her mouth and onto her skin. She wore a saccharine smile that I wanted to rip off her face.

I crossed my arms over my chest and turned back to Marco. “Oh, I see. Well, pardon me for interrupting.” There was no disguising the venom in my voice.

His tortured gazed darted from me to her and back a few times before he schooled his features and responded. “Can we have this conversation some other time?” he asked, his voice neutral.

“Marco, who’s this?” Alexa purred from behind me.

I spun to address her with a fake smile on my face. “I’m Emily. We met at the art show a few months ago when I was there with Marco. Back when we were still fucking. You can call me Brandi, though.” I turned to lock gazes with him before finishing. “Everyone who knows me intimately does.”

His fists clenched at his sides and his jaw tightened. Good. Some small part of me was pleased that I was still able to elicit a reaction like that from him.

I swung my attention back to the blonde on the couch. “I’m sorry to swing by unannounced like this and interrupt what was obviously going to be a good time for you both. I just need a few minutes with Marco, and then I’ll be out of your hair.”

Alexa’s eyes narrowed on me for a moment, and though she was playing nice with me—probably for Marco’s benefit—it was clear she wasn’t pleased with the interruption.

“Perhaps I should go,” she said.

“No!” Marco said, whip fast. “Emily should be the one to leave.”

Not going to lie.

That stung.

A lot.

No matter that everything between Marco and I had been based on lies, the fact that I was so easily tossed aside smarted.

“I’m not going anywhere until we speak.” I leveled him with a gaze that told him I was serious.

“Why don’t you use my bathroom to freshen up, Alexa? It’s that way through my bedroom.” He pointed toward the room that we’d spent many a night in. “I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”

A victorious smile crept across her face, and her gaze swung to me as she rose from the couch. She brushed her fingers across Marco’s chest as she passed him. “Don’t be too long.”

He nodded but didn’t spare her a glance as she passed, his gaze still fixed on me.

As soon as the bedroom door closed, I spoke. “Sorry to interrupt your play time, Marco, but you owe me some answers and I’m ready to collect.”

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Burn_2

Don’t miss the first book in the series:

Hook (Duplicity Duet #1)

Hook

Read our Review HERE
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Author Bio

Elisabeth Grace BW

USA Today Bestselling author, Elisabeth Grace, has a soft spot for romance novels with happily ever afters and a hot spot for alpha males! She currently lives outside Toronto, Canada with her hubby and two small children. Life is busy, but never to busy for a good story and to share her love of reading and writing with others.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Google+ | Instagram

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter Giveaway

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY – The Matchmaker’s Replacement by Rachel Van Dyken

TheMatchmakersReplacementTourBanner

Title: The Matchmaker’s Replacement
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Wingmen Inc. #2
Release Date: August 9, 2016

Matchmakers Replacement

Synopsis

Wingman rule number two: never reveal how much you want them.

Lex hates Gabi. Gabi hates Lex. But, hey, at least the hate is mutual, right? All Lex has to do is survive the next few weeks training Gabi in all the ways of Wingmen Inc. and then he can be done with her. But now that they have to work together, the sexual tension and fighting is off the charts. He isn’t sure if he wants to strangle her or throw her against the nearest sturdy table and have his way with her.

But Gabi has a secret, something she’s keeping from not just her best friend but her nemesis too. Lines are blurred as Lex becomes less the villain she’s always painted him to be…and starts turning into something more. Gabi has always hated the way she’s been just a little bit attracted to him—no computer-science major should have that nice of a body or look that good in glasses—but “Lex Luthor” is an evil womanizer. He’s dangerous. Gabi should stay far, far away.

Then again, she’s always wanted a little danger.

Bs Review

The Matchmaker’s Replacement is a fun, sexy addition to the Wingmen Inc. series. Rachel Van Dyken delivers Lex and Gabi’s story with a fresh, youthful voice that kept me laughing from start to finish. While these two can best be described as frenemies, Lex and Gabi have a connection that just can’t be denied. As heated words turned to an uncontrollable tension, I found myself absolutely addicted to the dynamic between this pair. Gabi’s innocence and inexperience was the perfect contrast to Lex’s playboy persona and Rachel Van Dyken captured their hostility, jealously, unexpected feelings, and sizzling chemistry perfectly, taking readers on a hilarious and heated rollercoaster ride. Throw in the shenanigans that come along with running Wingmen Inc. and this story was spitting out sparks. Laden with innuendos and full of flirtatious banter, Lex and Gabi’s journey is smart, sarcastic, and scorching.

“The hottest kisses aren’t the passionate ones but the slow ones that allow a burn to take place, heating you from the inside out.”

I absolutely adored Gabi. She was easy to love and full of surprises. Despite her perceived sweetness Gabi had spunk, easily holding her own with Lex and surprising me with her moments of brazenness. As Rachel Van Dyken unraveled this character, she also exposed insecurities that made Gabi feel incredibly genuine. Her vulnerability allowed me to connect with her and root for her while her generous heart and relationship with her parents gave the character some depth. Lex, on the other hand, was all easy swagger and cocky attitude. He made me grin and blush and swoon, but I definitely needed more from him. We don’t really get to know Lex on a personal level at all and that took away from the overall growth of the character. His upbringing, lifelong friendship with Ian, and childhood memories of Gabi are barely touched upon, making it difficult to understand what made Lex tick, let alone fully invest in him, despite his obvious charms.

“And the damsel fell for the villain. Write that, Disney.”

While The Matchmaker’s Replacement was undoubtedly hilarious, I didn’t feel the emotional connection to the story that I did with the first book. Lex and Gabi obviously had something deeper, but as a reader I never quite got there myself. It felt as if the true depth of their relationship came from a shared history and an innate understanding of one another, but we experience too little of it for ourselves. Overall the development of the storyline and characters felt rushed, keeping things very surface level. Why didn’t we get to explore Lex and Gabi’s individual relationships with Ian? I was hoping for a more significant glimpse into their dynamic as a trio since it was so central to the overall storyline. Don’t get me wrong, The Matchmaker’s Replacement is an incredibly entertaining read. Rachel Van Dyken’s writing sparkles with socially relevant humor, amusing banter, and deliciously steamy encounters. If you’re looking for a quick, lighthearted read to put a smile on your face then The Matchmaker’s Replacement will certainly hit the spot.

Rating
4.png

Cs Review

Oh boy, what can I say about Rachel Van Dyken’s newest release that hasn’t already been said?! The Matchmaker’s Replacement is chock-full of witty banter, swoonworthy moments, and all things that I am desperate to see in a love/hate relationship trope. Lex and Gabi’s story hit the spot and certainly made for a fun, quick afternoon read!

“Friends. Enemies. We were both. No need to add any more labels to what was already turning out to be the most confusing relationship of my life.”

These two characters were ruled by a love/hate relationship that all centered around their best friend, Ian. While at times I just wanted to slap them both, there were other moments that their dialogue cracked me up and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. There is a push and pull – not to be confused with a give and take – to their relationship that had me utterly addicted. I couldn’t wait to see how one would attempt to outdo the other whether with their one liners or their next prank. Through the silliness, however, Van Dyken also forces you to fall in love with them as individuals. She’s created these personal circumstances for Gabi where my heart couldn’t help but feel sympathy for the plights she was trenching through. Furthermore, there were so many conflicting feelings I went through with Lex; he was confused and protective in an adorable way. However, the teasing and harshness he exuded at times rubbed me the wrong way. His character was, and still remains, a mystery to me.

“I’m saying that because everyone has something to offer the world, and if she doesn’t notice what you have, she isn’t worthy of keeping it in the first place.”

The ending also felt a bit abrupt and I personally would have liked to see more of the time in between the last chapter and the Epilogue. However, with the return to laugh out loud romantic comedy, Rachel Van Dyken is in her element. The writing is youthful and exuberant, characteristic of everything that attracted me to her novels in the first place. The Matchmaker’s Replacement is bound to leave readers giggling and falling for two characters who, on initial thought, should never work together. If you’re a fan of witty banter and protective men to make you smile, you’ll absolutely love this one!

Rating
4.png

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Pre-Order on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Don’t miss the first book in the series:

The Matchmaker’s Playbook (Wingmen Inc. #1)

The Matchmakers Playbook

Read our Review HERE
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Author Bio

RVD New

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Want to be kept up to date on new releases? Text MAFIA to 66866!

Author Links

Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway

A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Follow the rest of the Blog Tour HERE

ARC REVIEW – The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward

Angels' Share

Title – The Angels’ Share
Author – J.R. Ward
Publication Date – July 26, 2016
Series – The Bourbon Kings, #2

The Angels' Share

Synopsis

#1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward delivers the second novel in her Bourbon Kings series—a sweeping saga of a Southern dynasty struggling to maintain a façade of privilege and prosperity, while secrets and indiscretions threaten its very foundation…

In Charlemont, Kentucky, the Bradford family is the crème de la crème of high society—just like their exclusive brand of bourbon. And their complicated lives and vast estate are run by a discrete staff who inevitably become embroiled in their affairs. This is especially true now, when the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder.

No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.

Everything has consequences; everybody has secrets. And few can be trusted. Then, at the very brink of the family’s demise, someone thought lost to them forever returns to the fold. Maxwell Bradford has come home. But is he a savior…or the worst of all the sinners?

Angels Share

Review

From the moment I turned the last page on The Bourbon Kings, I anxiously awaited the follow-up novel from J.R. Ward. There is something about the drama and mystery that surrounds the Bradford family that leaves me craving more.  There’s a very “reality television” type of feel to the writing, where it flashes to different characters in vital moments, creating a story that is addicting, mouth-watering, and impossible to put down.

“In the background, thunder and lightning did a rumble-tumble through the sky, the open front door seeming to invite the storm inside. Then again, the tornado was already in the house. Had been for the few weeks.”

The Angels’ Share throws readers back into the Bradford family’s tangled web of lies and deceit. Each sibling is dealing with a mountain of problems due to the business dealings of their father, and I loved being able to see how differently each handled overcoming those obstacles. Each of them brings out a different emotion through their struggles and it was kind of fascinating to watch unfold. Gin elicits sympathy, which I was surprised to see considering how shallow she could feel at times. With Max reappearing, I was curious to hear his back story. However, we didn’t receive much and his storyline certainly felt incomplete. I hope we get to hear more of him in a future novel. Lane was still attempting to save the day and fix the company, though not really for himself. I admired how much he didn’t let the temptations lure him in. He stayed grounded and cared about the jobs that were on the line. Finally, you had Edward who presented a push and pull that often times had me confused on how to feel about him. There were things he’d say and do that seemed contradictory to other actions he took and it definitely created a mysterious quality to him.

“The angels had to have their share, though, as was their right and as they deserved.”

Because of the drastic differences in each of the key players, I really went through a myriad of emotions while reading The Angels’ Share. It made for a deep-level read that sunk its nails into you; I laughed, I teared up, and I bit my nails in anxiety on multiple occasions. The third person point of view did take a little bit of an adjustment, but I think it ended up working for the author in this instance. It gave it a soap-opera episodic feel, which in turn left me hankering for more at all times. Whenever one chapter ended, I had to continue on to see what was going on for each character in that exact moment.

“And when she mouthed, I love you, all he could do was smile at her and marvel that for a man who had grown up with great wealth…the woman he had picked was one who reminded him over and over again that money didn’t matter.”

I’m not sure if Ward is planning for another book in the series, but I sure hope that she is. There were a few loose ties that I would like to see tied up. I think my biggest qualm was the lack of true romance in the novel. I was expecting a bit more of that given the way that the first book played out. However, I appreciated the action that was present. Furthermore, Ward certainly has a way with her words; she writes in such a proper, sophisticated manner that readers are truly transported to the world that she has created. She built up these scenes which allowed my reality to fade away and fully immerse myself in the Bourbon business. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Book #3, but no matter what, there is no denying that this author is a fountain of potential that I will keep coming back to!

Rating
4.png

Angels Share 1

Excerpt

Toyota trucks were not supposed to go seventy-five miles an hour. Especially when they were ten years old.

At least the driver was wide awake, even though it was four a.m.

Lizzie King had a death grip on the steering wheel, and her foot on the accelerator was actually catching floor as she headed for a rise in the highway.

She had woken up in her bed at her farmhouse alone. Ordinarily, that would have been the status quo, but not anymore, not now that Lane was back in her life. The wealthy playboy and the estate’s gardener had finally gotten their act together, love bonding two unlikelies closer and stronger than the molecules of a diamond.

And she was going to stand by him, no matter what the future held.

After all, it was so much easier to give up extraordinary wealth when you had never known it, never aspired to it—and especially when you had seen behind its glittering curtain to the sad, desolate desert on the far side of the glamour and prestige.

God, the stress Lane was under.

And so out of bed she had gotten. Down the creaking stairs she had gone. And all around her little house’s first floor she had wandered.

When Lizzie had looked outside, she’d discovered his car was missing, the Porsche he drove and parked beside the maple by her front porch nowhere to be seen. And as she had wondered why he had left without telling her, she had begun to worry.

Just a matter of nights since his father had killed himself, only a matter of days since William Baldwine’s body had been found on the far side of the Falls of the Ohio. And ever since then Lane’s face had had a faraway look, his mind churning always with the missing money, the divorce papers he had served on the rapacious Chantal, the status of the household bills, the precarious situation at the Bradford Bourbon Company, his brother Edward’s terrible physical condition, Miss Aurora’s illness.

But he hadn’t said a thing about any of it. His insomnia had been the only sign of the pressure, and that was what scared her. Lane always made an effort to be composed around her, asking her about her work in Easterly’s gardens, rubbing her bad shoulder, making her dinner, usually badly, but who cared. Ever since they had gotten the air cleared between them and had fully recommitted to their relationship, he had all but moved into her farmhouse—and as much as she loved having him with her, she had been waiting for the implosion to occur.

It would almost have been easier if he had been ranting and raving.

And now she feared that time had come—and some sixth sense made her terrified about where he had gone. Easterly, the Bradford Family Estate, was the first place she thought of. Or maybe the Old Site, where his family’s bourbon was still made and stored. Or perhaps Miss Aurora’s Baptist church?

Yes, Lizzie had tried him on his phone. And when the thing had rung on the table on his side of the bed, she hadn’t waited any longer after that. Clothes on. Keys in hand. Out to the truck.

No one else was on I-64 as she headed for the bridge to get across the river, and she kept the gas on even as she crested the hill and hit the decline to the river’s edge on the Indiana side. In response, her old truck picked up even more speed along with a death rattle that shook the wheel and the seat, but the damn Toyota was going to hold it together because she needed it to.

“Lane . . . where are you?”

God, all the times she had asked him how he was and he’d said, “Fine.” All those opportunities to talk that he hadn’t taken her up on. All the glances she’d shot him when he hadn’t been looking her way, all the time her monitoring for signs of cracking or strain. And yet there had been little to no emotion after that one moment they’d had together in the garden, that private, sacred moment when she had sought him out under the blooms of the fruit trees and told him that she’d gotten it wrong about him, that she had misjudged him, that she was prepared to make a pledge to him with the only thing she had: the deed to her farmhouse—which was exactly the kind of asset that could be sold to help pay for the lawyers’ fees as he fought to save his family.

Lane had held her, and told her he loved her—and refused her gift, explaining he was going to fix everything himself, that he was going to somehow find the stolen money, pay back the enormous debt, right the company, resurrect his family’s fortunes.

And she had believed him.

She still did.

But ever since then? He had been both as warm and closed off as a space heater, physically present and completely disengaged at the same time.

Lizzie did not blame him in the slightest.

It was strangely terrifying, however.

Off in the distance, across the river, Charlemont’s business district glowed and twinkled, a false, earthbound galaxy that was a lovely lie, and the bridge that connected the two shores was still lit up in spring green and bright pink for Derby, a preppy rainbow to that promised land. The good news was that there was no traffic, so as soon as Lizzie was on the other side, she could take the River Road exit off the highway, shoot north to Easterly’s hill, and see if his car was parked in front of the mansion.

Then she didn’t know what she was going to do.

The newly constructed bridge had three lanes going in both directions, the concrete median separating east from west tall and broad for safety purposes. There were rows of white lights down the middle, and everything was shiny, not just from the illumination, but a lack of exposure to the elements. Construction had only finished in March, and the first lines of traffic had made the crossing in early April, cutting rush-hour delays down—

Up ahead, parked in what was actually the “slow” lane, was a vehicle that her brain recognized before her eyes properly focused on it.

Lane’s Porsche. It was Lane’s—

Lizzie nailed the brake pedal harder than she’d been pounding the accelerator, and the truck made the transition from full-force forward to full-on stop with the grace of a sofa falling out a second-story window: Everything shuddered and shook, on the verge of structural disintegration, and worse, there was barely any change in velocity, as if her Toyota had worked too hard to gain the speed and wasn’t going to let the momentum go without a fight—

There was a figure on the edge of the bridge. On the very farthest edge of the bridge. On the lip of the bridge over the deadly drop.

“Lane,” she screamed. “Lane!”

Her truck went into a spin, pirouetting such that she had to wrench her head around to keep him in her sights. And she jumped out before the Toyota came to a full stop, leaving the gearshift in neutral, the engine running, the door open in her wake.

“Lane! No! Lane!”

Lizzie pounded across the pavement and surmounted barriers that seemed flimsy, too flimsy, given the distance down to the river.

Lane jerked his head around—

And lost one hold of the rail behind him.

As his grip slipped, shock registered on his face, a flash of surprise . . . that was immediately replaced by horror.

When he fell off into nothing but air.

Lizzie’s mouth could not open wide enough to release her scream.

Posted by arrangement with New American Library, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © J.R. Ward, 2016.

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Pre-Order on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Don’t Miss the First Book in the Series!

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, #1)

The Bourbon Kings

Read our Review HERE

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

The Angels Share 2

Author Bio

JR Ward

J.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with more than 15 million novels in print published in 25 different countries around the world.  A graduate of Smith College, she currently lives in Kentucky where she has learned to enjoy and appreciate all things Southern.  Prior to becoming an expat Yankee, she worked as a lawyer in Boston and spent many years as the Chief of Staff of one of Harvard’s world-renowned academic medical centers.

Ward has always had a passion for writing.  After a decade of drafting stories in her spare time, she became a full-time novelist, and her first published novel, Leaping Hearts, was released in 2002.  Under the name Jessica Bird she wrote nine contemporary romances, and then got the idea for a darker, sexier series with paranormal elements, featuring a group of warrior vampires.  The Black Dagger Brotherhood was born.

The reader reaction to the series was immediate, spectacular and obsessive.  The fourth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Revealed, hit the New York Times mass market fiction bestseller list and since then, Ward’s novels have held the #1 spot on the New York Times hardcover, mass market, eBook, and combined print/eBook fiction bestseller lists and have debuted in the top 5 on the USA Today bestseller list.

This summer Ward introduces a new contemporary series set in her adopted home state of Kentucky with the novel The Bourbon Kings.  The series will follow the intertwined and scandalous fortunes of several ultrawealthy Kentucky families who have made their fortunes from bourbon.

J.R. Ward lives with her husband, daughter and their beloved golden retriever, as well as many other dogs, in Kentucky.  Visit her popular website and fan community at www.jrward.com and facebook.com/JRWardBooks.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter

RELEASE DAY REVIEW – Sinner’s Revenge by Kim Jones

Sinner's Revenge Banner

Title: Sinner’s Revenge
Author: Kim Jones
Series: Sinner’s Creed #2
Release Date: July 19, 2016

Sinners Revenge

Synopsis

Shady has spent the last eight years of his life dedicated to the Sinner’s Creed Motorcycle Club. But after losing the man who was both his brother and his best friend, he has a new purpose—to avenge the death of the greatest nomad in Sinner’s Creed history.

His plan is flawless. His mission is simple: seek and destroy. There is no room for distractions—especially a distraction like Diem.

She’s infuriating. Demanding. Complicated. Impossible. And for some reason, Shady can’t stay away. But he only has space in his heart for one love: Sinner’s Creed. And the club always comes first. Always.

Review

Kim Jones has absolutely blown me away with Sinner’s Revenge. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly feel more deeply for the Sinner’s Creed MC, Shady’s story comes along and breaks my heart all over again. I couldn’t have imagined the kind of woman it would take to win Shady’s heart but Kim Jones nails it with Diem. She is his perfect match and so much more. The instant connection, scorching hot chemistry, and effortless banter between them made their story utterly addictive. Overflowing with raw emotion, Shady and Diem’s journey is unlike any I’ve encountered before. It was hurtful, passionate and maddening in the very best ways leaving my head reeling and my heart a bit bruised. Kim Jones’ writing is powerful, bringing to life the vibrant MC family she has so carefully crafted and making me feel this story deeply and unexpectedly. Sinner’s Revenge is undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read this year and certainly one of my all-time favorite MC reads.

“And when her eyes lock on mine, there is no doubt—no fear, no walls, no ice, and no indifference. They tell me everything. They burn with desire and trust.”

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when it came to Shady. From what we know of him in Sinner’s Creed, he is mysterious, haunted, and unfailingly loyal – totally intriguing, to say the least. As Kim Jones unraveled Shady, I found myself steamrolled. There were so many layers to this character that I never expected and I loved the way in which Kim Jones brought them to light over the course of this novel. Shady’s relationship with Diem revealed an entirely new side to him. Not only was he deliciously filthy, but also inherently protective and fiercely loving. Diem was a breath of fresh air for Shady, allowing him to step beyond the darkness he seemed so content to resign himself to. With Diem, Shady could laugh, tease, flirt, and let go – a beautiful contradiction to this otherwise stoic and angry man. I loved the dichotomy Kim Jones created between Shady’s desperate need for vengeance and his deep desire to be loved. His dark and light were wholly enthralling and it was this complexity of character that ultimately had me falling hard for Shady.

“In another life, I could have made you happy. Really happy. I’d have done things different. I’d have made you my queen.”

Diem is the kind of heroine that is easy to invest in and still she takes you by complete surprise. I instantly loved her voice – strong, sassy, and sure. It was obvious from the moment they met that she would hold her own with Shady and I was definitely not disappointed. Diem was feisty and independent, yet there was a hint of something else beneath the bravado, a depth that made this character so enchanting. Through Diem’s relationship with Shady, Kim Jones revealed a surprising vulnerability that allowed me to connect significantly with this character. Diem’s struggle to relinquish control to Shady eventually exposed her uncertainty and insecurities, making this character feel entirely genuine. As the story progressed Diem proved herself to be a force of nature all her own, able to handle Shady’s darkness and fit flawlessly into his life. With so many facets to this character it would be easy to lose sense of her, but Kim Jones never falters, expertly pulling together the many sides of Diem into one cohesive, memorable, badass heroine.

“It takes a helluva lot more strength to walk away than it does to stay.”

I love an author that can make me feel at home in her fictional world only to rip the rug out from under me with an incredible plot twist. Kim Jones has done just that with this novel. Just when I thought I knew Shady and Diem, this story took a turn that left me speechless in an amazing way. Sinner’s Revenge brought forth so many emotions from me. I laughed, blushed, and cried, completely consumed by all of the feelings Shady and Diem’s story evoked. From the natural pacing and amusing exchanges to the plot progression and character development, everything about Sinner’s Revenge was done with careful thought and planning to deliver something truly special. Kim Jones’ writing shows incredible growth, her thoughtful prose and witty dialogue consuming me completely and leaving me wanting more from this talented author. Sinner’s Revenge is exquisitely crafted, a masterful mix of heart-pounding action, raw emotion, gritty dialogue, and toe-curling steam. Kim Jones delivers her best novel yet with Shady and Diem’s unforgettable story.

Rating
5.png

Sinner's Revenge_2

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Sinner's Revenge_1

Don’t miss the first book in the series:

Sinner’s Creed (Sinner’s Creed #1)

SinnersCreed

Read our Review HERE
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Author Links

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramAmazon | Website

Sinner's Revenge_3

REVIEW – Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Going Too Far Banner

Title: Going Too Far
Author: Jennifer Echols
Release Date: March 17, 2009

Going Too Far

Synopsis

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?

All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far…and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge — and over….

Going Too Far_1

Review

Jennifer Echols has written a sweet, heartfelt story of consequences and self-discovery with Going Too Far. This novel is the epitome of the Young Adult genre, full of teenage angst, growing pains, and good old-fashioned rebellion. Although initially Meg and John could not have seemed more different, it was their unexpected similarities that I found so gripping. As their story progressed, I discovered that John and Meg shared a self-imposed prison – a product of the loss and pain they’d both endured and their desperate attempt to protect themselves from further hurt. Jennifer Echols skillfully explored this couple’s unique dynamic, drawing me in with their surprising connection, undeniable chemistry, playful banter, and unapologetic honesty and leaving me with no choice but to invest myself completely in John and Meg’s happily ever after.

“Waiter, this is not the policeman I ordered. I wanted one with a lot less sauce.”

Both Meg and John undergo significant growth over the course of Going Too Far. This story is very much centered on the development of the characters and Jennifer Echols certainly did a great job executing their subtle and yet poignant transformations. Haunted by their pasts, together John and Meg force each other to face their emotional scars, balancing one another with their vast differences while their time together reveals similarities that allows their connection to grow. John’s serious, overprotective, and by-the-book personality clashes with Meg’s fearless, wild, and oftentimes self-destructive ways, resulting in some awkward and hilarious moments along with a building tension that is utterly electric. As the motives behind their individual behavior come to light, I found myself caught up in the emotional upheaval surrounding this couple. Meg’s surprising vulnerability tugged on my heartstrings while John’s own fears definitely left their mark.

“You can’t tell a seventeen-year-old anything. They think they’re immortal. They don’t listen. Seventeen-year-olds have to see it for themselves.”

Meg and John’s world was made complete by a handful of great secondary characters that, through their relationships, helped to further develop our main characters. I easily enjoyed the various personalities that contributed to this couple’s story, appreciating the levity and heart they brought to the novel. Going Too Far is not the kind of book that passes in a whirlwind of action and suspense. Instead this journey is a slow burn, one that will make you feel but only really allow you to see how far you’ve ventured at the final page. Drawn to this couple’s unlikely chemistry, strange friendship, and unmistakable connection, Jennifer Echols has expertly crafted this storyline to highlight the heartache that colors John and Meg’s world and the mistakes that made this couple who they are. Going Too Far is beautifully written and undeniably moving, a smart, funny, and heartfelt coming of age novel that will leave you wanting more.

Rating
4.png

Going Too Far_2

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Author Links

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon | Website

Going Too Far_3

BLOG TOUR – Knot by M. Mabie

Knot

Title – Knot
Author – M. Mabie
Publication Date – July 12, 2016
Series – Wake Family, #1

Knot

Synopsis

He knows everything.

She has all the damn answers.

I’ve always been a free spirit. It’s my nature.

I crave control, but with her it’s far more.

He’s a power hungry climber.

Her wealth could buy and sell me.

It’s too much pressure being the center of anyone’s focus.

She underestimates my desire for her, my need to please just her.

When he’s vulnerable, it’s hard to deny him.

Her crooked smile cripples me.

He hides his demons, but I’m no fool.

She thinks not committing to anyone makes her more honest. She’s wrong.

A man like him deserves someone who can offer that kind of love.

She promises nothing, yet I feel like a king when she says my name.

I never let anyone possess me like he did. Not before. Not after.

My greatest regret was compromising. I should have never held back.

Still, when we’re apart I’m not myself.

I miss the days when she was just down the hall.

He’s better off without me, and it hurts.

The ugly truth is I need her more than she needs me.

Our relationship was born out of lust and curiosity.

The lies we told ourselves killed it.

Together, we found Nirvana.

We learned it was all a mirage.

I ruined him.

I broke her heart.

I keep coming back.

I can’t let her go.

Knot 1

Review

After reading several books by this author, I know I can always depend on M. Mabie to deliver when I’m craving angst and steam. Her characters have proved to be complicated and frustrating, with chemistry that is beyond sizzling. The world she has created with Knot is no exception and I found myself addicted to Reggie and Nora’s story.

“That was my problem. Sometimes I couldn’t stand Hyde, but I couldn’t bear to hurt Jekyll. What did that leave for me?”

This first book in the Wake Family series is written in dual point of view, and it does sparingly go back and forth from past to present. While it took a little bit of time for me to get adjusted to the varying combinations, I became truly engrossed and felt an aching need to get back to these characters whenever I had to put the book down. Nora was quite different from any other heroine I have come across. She was so sure in what she wanted and liked, and wasn’t ashamed of it. She was strong and independent, which presented for an interesting dynamic when it came to Reggie. He was a hard-headed alpha male who liked to maintain control in all aspects of his life. Have you ever read a character that left you grinning and biting your lip in anticipation? Well, he was that hero for me. He was full of surprises that truly exhibited the layers that made the man. I appreciated that while words couldn’t always be expressed between these two, Mabie did a great job at showing how these characters cared for each other through their actions.

“He might have had a silver tongue for conversation, but it was gold at kissing.”

The storyline of Knot seemed to flow so effortlessly. Everything about these two and what they were going through felt natural to who they were. There was a push and pull, give and take feel to their story, but I can’t imagine it being any other way given their personalities. Mabie is a master at building up the angst, creating a ball in the pit of your stomach just waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. She has done it in the past, and she has succeeded at it again. Somehow though, she always leaves me coming back for more. Her writing is addicting, mouthwatering, and steamy to the core! She’s combined witty dialogue with fun banter, sex and romance. Knot is the first book in a new series, but if it’s any indication of the direction she is headed, count me as first in line to grab them as they release!

Rating
4.png

Knot 2

Excerpt

Prologue

REGGIE—Friday, June 11, 2010

Our fucked up history was Hell dressed up in heels and pearls, suits and cuff links, pretending to be Heaven. Had either of us known it really was Nirvana—and not the mirage we’d thought—maybe we could’ve stayed.

Our relationship was a dream I’d never wake up from. Sometimes it felt like a fantasy. Sometimes a nightmare. A mind fuck that had me ticking down numbers.

Fuck starting from ten.

Fuck ten a long time ago.

With her, I should have started at infinity. At least then I’d have more time. More minutes of torture. More seconds of bliss. At infinity, I would have had the time to prove her wrong. If I’d only known she was.

Nine times I let her go. Maybe more. Maybe less.

She never wanted what she said at all, and every time I fell under her spell, I proved her right. Every fucking time. Every mistake. Every misstep. Every time I held back from my instincts.

Still, with us, fault was universal.

We’d both failed each time. All eight or so times I’d denied myself by not telling her the truth, I hadn’t realized I’d denied her a thousand times more.

I only ever wanted her. Fuck money. Fuck power. Fuck my pride. Fuck all seven days of the week without her. Fuck other women and fuck the whole country of Switzerland.

Fuck knowing damn well in my gut the whole fucking time.

But while she was there in my arms, under my body, I’d settle for fucking her. She knew it was how we could’ve been.

Fuck her stubbornness. Fuck her fucking ability to stay away for six or the half-dozen months at a time while she chased her tail. I stood by and watched, all but cheering her on.

Fuck the sound of her voice when she laughs. Not any old laugh—fuck those, too—but specifically the special one. Her Reagan laugh. I wish I could mute my memories of her, but that laugh will haunt me forever.

That laugh belonged to only me, along with a handful of other fragments of her that I never took the time to piece together. If I had, she might have been whole. She might have been mine if I’d added them all up.

Ironically, I didn’t look for the sum of the real her. How many math classes did I need to learn this one damn woman? Certainly ones I hadn’t taken. Certainly ones I would have failed.

If I could go back to the beginning, I’d add more up than just how many times I could get any of my five fingers, my tongue, and cock into her. I’d add her only-for-Reagan parts. They’d been there all along.

They were enough.

Starting with the four or so seconds, where she didn’t even know her name—let alone mine—before she cried out in ecstasy. That wonder in her eye. The pull of the tendons in her gorgeous neck. The tightening of her brow. The slack of her jaw.

Plus.

The way she looked handing me coffee, naked in the kitchen. Her wet hair matted and untamed. Her skin pink from the hot shower. The print the bathroom tile left fading on her shoulders.

Plus.

The way she stretched her feet when she woke up in my sheets. Spreading them and wiggling the one we knew would always be our toe.

Plus.

The way she could recite every ingredient in her favorite dishes. How she knew about cheese from other countries, even though she’d never visited most of them.

Plus.

The way she kissed my Adam’s apple, then rubbed it with her thumb. Only to kiss it a second time.

Those were things meant only for me.

I’d add every time she called me, and I answered.

I’d subtract the times I didn’t because I was selfish and wanted her to show up instead.

Then I’d multiply that total by the times she told me she more-than-just-loved me. Which was exactly three. I hadn’t even realized what she meant the first time, but the second time, I was sure to make up for it. The third had been tonight.

We’d been two people lost. Wandering around, pretending we’d known everything.

Even though it was most likely the last time I’d ever fuck her, it would also—mercifully—be the last time we’d ever fight.

Sadly, it was the first time I’d seen the power my words had held over her the whole time. I’d watched her heart break. I’d watched as she crumpled to the floor and sobbed. I’d felt like I was doing the same.

It was too late for our hearts.

I’d surrendered, given up, and shot one precise, verbal bullet through my heart, then watched it pierce hers.

There was nothing left. I’d hit zero for the last time.

As I watched the tears fall from her eyes—after I pushed into her for the very last time, filling her with everything I’d never told her—misery infected my gut.

Then, I felt the knot constrict.

We’d tangled the delicate thread between us too many times.

It tightened to a point of throbbing pain. I knew there’d never be a minute left in my life where I didn’t feel the ache of her. Her absence, the source of blinding tension. The sharp pulse of a love ripped from me before I had a chance to watch it mature.

That was all that was left of me.

Zero and the knot.

Knot 4

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Don’t Miss the Upcoming Books in the Series!

Tide (Wake Family, #2)

Add to Goodreads

Fluke (Wake Family, #3)

Add to Goodreads

Keel (Wake Family, #4)

Add to Goodreads

Compass (Wake Family, #5)

Add to Goodreads

Knot 3

Author Bio

M. Mabie lives in Illinois with her husband. She writes unconventional love stories and tries to embody “real-life romance.”

She cares about politics, but will not discuss them in public. She uses the same fork at every meal, watches Wayne’s World while cleaning, and lets her dog sleep on her head. She has always been a writer. In fact, she was born with a pen in her hand, which almost never happens. Almost.

M. Mabie usually doesn’t speak in third-person. She promises.

Author Links

Goodreads | Amazon | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Website

RELEASE DAY REVIEW – Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Cream of the Crop Banner

Title: Cream of the Crop
Author: Alice Clayton
Series: Hudson Valley #2
Release Date: July 12, 2016

Cream of the Crop

Synopsis

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is…cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth alsoindulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be…love?

Cream of the Crop_1

Review

Alice Clayton delivers another phenomenal romantic comedy with Cream of the Crop. This story is everything I’ve come to love from this author and then some. Cream of the Crop is fresh, sassy, hilarious, and smart – topped with a delicious dose of dirty talk and plenty of steamy encounters. Oscar and Natalie are a seemingly unlikely pair, but between their instant chemistry and undeniable connection I was immediately sold on this couple. No one does romantic comedy quite like Alice Clayton. She expertly balances witty dialogue, sarcastic exchange, and slapstick comedy with a ton of heart, genuine emotion, and absolutely sizzling heat. From the moment Natalie lost all of her New York cool (and her ability to function) in Oscar’s presence, I knew I was in for some bellyaching laughs with this book. As the city girl’s high fashion world collided with the country boy’s flannel paradise, sparks definitely flew. Natalie and Oscar’s journey is wrought with embarrassing moments, overenthusiastic townspeople, unimpressed cattle, plenty of farmhouse trysts, and more cheese than you can catalog. The result is an unforgettable romance that will leave you grinning (and craving some brie).

“Tell me,” I said, looking up at him.
“Tell you what?”
“What you thought about me, before we met.”
“You mean before you scared my cows and then attacked me in Leo’s barn?”
“Yes. Before the luckiest day of your life, what did you think of me when you saw me, stumbling and stammering each Saturday?”

I fell in love with Natalie right from the start. Not only is she intelligent, successful, beautiful, and strong, but the confidence she exudes is downright contagious. As I read, her voice filled my head, making its way into my heart and warming me with a heady sense of self-worth. Natalie is a real woman who has learned to embrace what society might deem as flaws, discovering and celebrating her inherent beauty. I loved how she turned the tables, taking her insecurities and owning them in a way that allowed her to thrive. As Alice Clayton developed this character over the course of the novel, I found myself in awe of her story. Beneath the composed and accomplished woman was an incredibly vulnerable girl. My heart ached for Natalie, but the unconditional love and support from her family and friends, along with the positive direction in which she had steered her life, left me utterly enchanted by this character. Her unavoidable (and seriously hilarious) awkwardness around Oscar, evidence of his ability to totally dismantle her carefully constructed world, just made Natalie all the more human and unmistakably lovable.

“Cross a bad boy with a supermodel, add a dash of linebacker with a big scoop of Polynesian love, and then you might, just might, have an appreciation for the wet dream across the market from me.”

Oscar was an enigma. Strong, silent, and very much a mystery, he was a man that inspired so many questions from the moment we first met him in Nuts. I was definitely anxious to get to the heart of him. Oscar’s relationship with Natalie was just the thing to unravel this private man and I loved the way in which Alice Clayton utilized their connection to grow this character. I never expected Oscar to be so passionate, loyal, and sweet but he proved to be full of surprises throughout their journey. His personal history was unexpected, but as he laid himself bare before Natalie, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and I finally felt content in my understanding of this character. There were moments of vulnerability that shined through, giving Oscar a genuine feel that had me falling that much harder for him. His fierce love for Natalie, just as she was, was icing on the cake and his almost reverent view of her left me swooning. Throw in his bad boy appearance and delightfully filthy mouth and I was a total goner.

“Details are not only appreciated, they are coveted, revered, and possibly typed up and framed. So go slow, and make it worth it.”

Cream of the Crop is the total package. I laughed hard and felt deeply as I experienced Oscar and Natalie’s journey. Alice Clayton engenders such a great sense of community with this series that I couldn’t help but revel in the comforting familiarity of returning to Bailey Falls. I enjoyed seeing more of Leo, Roxie, and the rest of their small town crew – all bringing life and humor to Oscar and Natalie’s story. Alice Clayton’s writing seems to only get better with each new novel, and I have to say, this might be my favorite so far. Her descriptive imagery borders on magical, bringing Natalie and Oscar’s world to life for readers to get lost in. From start to finish, Cream of the Crop embraces the distinct personalities of the couple, bringing the story to a close in a way that embraces the new possibilities ahead for them without requiring either party to relinquish their individual dreams and leaving me feeling content, empowered, and incredibly hopeful. Oscar and Natalie may just be my new favorite Alice Clayton couple! Their story is a quirky and colorful addition to the Hudson Valley series and I’m already anxious for more of this crazy crew.

Rating
5.png

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Cream of the Crop_3

Don’t miss the rest of the Hudson Valley series:

Nuts (Hudson Valley #1)

Nuts

Read our Review HERE
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Author Links

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramAmazon | Website

RELEASE DAY REVIEW – Searching for Harmony by Kelly Elliott

Searching for Harmony Banner

Title: Searching for Harmony
Author: Kelly Elliott
Series: Boston Love #1
Release Date: July 12, 2016

Searching for Harmony

Synopsis

Firefighter and first responder Preston Ward thought he had grown immune to the job’s emotional burns. But when he goes out on a particularly tragic call, he realizes that some scenes are too devastating to forget. And yet, if it weren’t for that terrible night, he never would have met the woman who makes him want to risk his heart.

More than once, Harmony Banks has watched her perfectly ordered world torn apart by fate. Now she’s finding out that what she lost wasn’t as perfect as she thought—and it’s tearing herapart. The only thing that keeps her going is the kindness of a stranger: the firefighter who saved her life the night everything changed.

Preston isn’t like the men who have come before. For one thing, he’s far more genuine. And the love Harmony feels growing between them is almost too intense for her wounded soul. But if she and Preston can push past heartbreak, they’ll find that something incredible awaits in each other’s arms.

Searching for Harmony_4

Review

Searching for Harmony is a sweet story of second chances. Following a devastating loss, Harmony finds herself drawn to Preston, the man who witnessed the destruction of her world and feels compelled to help her learn to live again. As Harmony and Preston got to know one another, Preston’s patience and understanding allowed for an easy and authentic friendship to form between the two and I found myself feeling the first sparks of hope returning to the story. Their adorable banter and good-natured teasing left me grinning and I very much enjoyed their seemingly inherent understanding of one another’s feelings. They found their place in each other’s lives effortlessly, allowing for Kelly Elliott to quickly heat things up between them. Harmony and Preston not only seemed to share a frantic need that resulted in some great tension and plenty of electricity, but they also appeared to connect on a deeper level, keeping me intrigued and invested in their journey. The integration of Boston culture into the story was icing on the cake, grounding Searching for Harmony in a tangible setting and memorable community and giving readers something to hold onto amidst all of the angst.

“Something happened between us. Words couldn’t describe it, but I knew he felt it too…”

Harmony was a heartbreaking character. Her incredible loss and the resulting emotional devastation immediately gripped me, making me feel for her right from the start. Kelly Elliott did a great job conveying Harmony’s initial overwhelming grief and its lingering effects as she tried to move forward, giving her loss a genuine feeling that kept me connected to her. I enjoyed seeing the pieces of light filter back into her life as she spent time with Preston and was moved by how Kelly Elliott so thoughtfully intertwined those moments with flashbacks of the joy her life held before the accident. Admittedly, I was a little surprised (and disappointed) that Harmony never sought counseling at any point in the novel. Her incredible loss, newfound feelings for Preston, and lack of relationship with her parents are each reason enough to need help, let alone to have them all happening at once. As a reader, I not only needed to see her actively working to heal and not immediately depending on another relationship, but these were also all issues that deserved to be further explored in order to really understand the character’s reasoning and decisions.

“My body feels so alive when I’m with you, Harmony. My heart feels . . . complete.”

To be honest, I’m not really sure how I feel about Preston. A huge part of me adores him, grateful for the respect he showed Harmony as she tried to heal and the relationship he built with her brother Jake in order to help them both move forward. However, a small part of me is still caught up on his behavior during the first part of the story. There was too much disparity between his thoughts and actions in regards to Sherry that I couldn’t sympathize or connect with him at all initially. As we got to know him a little better, it was easy to get lost in his sweet actions and perfect words, but still we never really move past the surface of who he is. Between his family and co-workers, there was plenty of opportunity to explore Preston’s past, emotions, and fears and yet there’s no real heart-to-heart moment where I finally felt like I understood what made this character tick. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Preston’s charm, intelligence, kind heart, and sweet attentiveness, but the development of this character fell short for me, especially compared to what I’m used to seeing from Kelly Elliott.

“We have choices in our life that sometimes we aren’t sure of, Preston. The best way to know which choice to make is to follow your heart.”

While I’m sure some readers will love the angst, but overall lighthearted nature of Searching for Harmony, this book just wasn’t up to Kelly Elliott’s typical standards in my opinion. I’m a huge fan of this author so I was eagerly anticipating the emotional knockout of a Kelly Elliott book and this novel never really got there for me. I needed more from Preston and Harmony’s emotional relationship. While I adored their relaxed friendship and great chemistry, their relationship was too superficial for my taste. Each worked through their issues separately but they never sat down and discussed the emotional ramifications of Harmony’s loss or the guilt that ate at Preston with each other. This missing piece robbed their relationship of the depth it could have had and kept me from feeling the extent of their connection. Kelly Elliott’s writing, however, did not disappoint. She still paints a beautiful picture and brings this story to life with her words. Expertly balancing the dark and light of this story to leave readers feeling content, Kelly Elliott delivers bold heartache and quiet hope with this Boston Love novel.

Rating
3.5.png

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Author Links

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Website

Searching for Harmony_1

REVIEW – Perfecting Patience by Tabatha Vargo

Perfecting Patience Banner

Title: Perfecting Patience
Author: Tabatha Vargo
Series: Blow Hole Boys #1.5
Release Date: January 1, 2014

Perfecting Patience

Synopsis

Sometimes happy endings are just the beginning of an even harder road.

Although her aunt and sister believe she should get help to deal with her past demons, Patience believes the only thing she needs is Zeke. When he comes back into her world, her life couldn’t be more perfect. Except old demons pick the worst time to surface, and once again their happiness is threatened. Help was never a necessity, but Patience finds out that love isn’t always all you need.

Zeke’s dealt with a lot in his life, but nothing could prepare him for watching the person he loves fall apart. Patience is different, she’s not the girl he came to love. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her back, but a budding music career and his own demons seem to keep getting in the way. How can you help someone else when you can barely help yourself? Once again Zeke is faced with deciding between his future and the future of Patience.

Review

Tabatha Vargo continues the story of Zeke and Patience in this emotionally tumultuous novella. Perfecting Patience is intense, heartbreaking, and full of feels. The inexplicable connection between Zeke and Patience is as powerful as ever, making this novella equal parts beautiful and devastating. Navigating life after the events of Playing Patience, this couple is faced with the exhilaration of living their lives free and in pursuit of their dreams while also dealing with the lingering emotional scars of the nightmare they endured. The sharp contrast between their newfound triumphs and enduring trials made this novella one heck of an emotional rollercoaster. Tabatha Vargo broke my heart and put it back together repeatedly before finally giving Zeke and Patience the happily ever after they unquestionably deserved in this short, sexy, and sweet story.

“Some scars never heal. Some get bigger as you grow. They reflect a past that’s branded on your soul and no matter what good comes your way, nothing can soothe the pain they inflict.”

Perfecting Patience was a quick read, immediately pulling me back into the world of the Blow Hole Boys and reminding me why I fell so easily for Zeke and Patience to begin with. Tabatha Vargo packed a ton of heartache into this novella, detailing the haunting after effects of the trauma this couple faced. While the angst and self-destruction was very much true to the nature of the characters, I would have liked a bit more balance of the dark with the light. Patience and Zeke had already been through so much and I felt as if this novella was slightly too weighted towards the dark parts of their relationship only to abruptly end in the light. I especially would have liked to see further development of both characters and their outside relationships, including how Patience’s relationship with her sister had changed in the aftermath of their ordeal.

“I didn’t even know I was capable of being the man I am when I’m with you. I was dark and broken, and you lit up my world and put me back together piece by piece.”

Despite the gut-wrenching and painful journey Zeke and Patience had to take in this novella, their story was gritty and raw and real in a way that sticks with you. Tabatha Vargo has done an incredible job addressing some serious issues, taking on Zeke and Patience’s demons and giving hope to anyone who might find pieces of themselves in these beautifully broken characters. Tabatha Vargo’s writing is touching, capturing the intense emotions of this novella and making her readers feel it all the way through. Filled with vibrant imagery, stirring narration, and dialogue that will make you want to both laugh and cry, this story will steal your breath and make you think. Perfecting Patience is a heavy and yet absolutely satisfying conclusion to this couple’s incredible story and I can’t wait to see what Tabatha Vargo has in store for the rest of the Blow Hole Boys.

Rating
4.png

Perfecting Patience_4

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Don’t miss the rest of the Blow Hole Boys series:

Playing Patience (Blow Hole Boys #1)

Playing Patience

Read our Review HERE
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Finding Faith (Blow Hole Boys #2)

Finding Faith

Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Convincing Constance (Blow Hole Boys #3)

Convincing Constance

Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Having Hope (Blow Hole Boys #4)

Having Hope

Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Author Links

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Website

Perfecting Patience_2