Review: Wicked and True

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: Wicked and TrueWicked and True: Zyron & Tessa Part 2 (Wicked & Devoted, #4) by Shayla Black
Series: Wicked & Devoted #4
on March 23, 2021
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Sexy and action-packed story. I got exactly what I wanted from the story — with one exception. I was annoyed by Tessa’s actions which started the trouble with the couple. Ultimately, I was pleased that the book acknowledged her mistakes. And the couple is hot. Fun book.

THE STORY: The second part of Zy and Tessa’s story. Zy is trying to uncover the mole at the company and is now given two choices — his friend and the woman he has fallen for. Tessa is confronted with a choice that no woman should have to make, threatening her new relationship with Zy.

OPINION: The setup in the first book explodes in this book as all the tightly wound parts of the story explode in an action-packed story. Zy and Tessa are a good couple. He is protective and she really needs protection from some of her dumb choices! At the same time, she is a good person that goes with her heart rather than thinking through her choices.

This book begins with things really moving between Zy and Tessa. Then things fall apart quickly as Tessa has to make a choice that tears them apart. That was the part that bothered me about this book. She just makes a stupid decision. It annoyed me because the decision just didn’t make sense. However, I’m glad I continued with the story because she acknowledges the flaw in her reasoning by the end. While I wish she had realized it earlier, I did appreciate that the book acknowledges the mistakes that both she and Zy make in the story.

The story is really hot, and there is even quite a bit of hot angry sexy tension between Zy and Tessa in this one. Other than my complaint about Tessa’s decision-making, I really enjoyed how the story built tension and let the action play out in the story.

The book reads really fast, and everything gets resolved with Tessa and Zy by the end — although there are lingering storylines that continue with the next couple in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book’s timeline overlaps with the other books in the series so if you read them in order you already know more about the romance of One Miles and Brea and get a preview of Trees and Laila.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED AND TRUE is part two of the story of Zyron and Tessa and is also the fourth book in the Wicked & Devoted series. This book should only be read after WICKED AS LIES since it is really one story. While this two-part story is part of the Wicked & Devoted series, these two books (making one story) can be read apart from the series as a whole.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I originally received an eARC of this book in order to provide a review. I did not review this book until after its publication and after I had purchased my own copy of this book. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-stars

Review: Wicked as Lies

Review: Wicked as LiesWicked as Lies (Zyron & Tessa, #1; Wicked & Devoted, #3) by Shayla Black
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on February 9, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION:  Despite the book ending on a cliffhanger, I enjoyed this book tremendously. From the beginning, I quickly loved the relationship between Tessa and Zy. A combination of angst and slow burn and mystery and suspense, this book sets up for (hopefully) a great ending in the next book of this duet.

THE STORY: Chase Garrett aka Zyron is attracted to Tessa Lawrence from the first time he sees a photograph of her. Unfortunately, they work for the same company and there is a non-fraternization clause in their contracts that forbids any relationship between them. When she is threatened by her ex, the fiercely protective Zy is going to care for her when he is assigned as her temporary bodyguard. Things are hot between these two even as they both fight what seems inevitable.

OPINION: This book captured my attention from the first page. The structure does well to soften my resistance to the cliffhanger in the story. The complete and utter commitment that Zy has towards Tessa from the beginning made the semi-contrived plot device keeping them apart tolerable. Zy and Tessa are a great couple. The heat between them kept me on edge as I saw them move towards one another. The suspense story searching for the mole kept the plot moving even as Zy and Tessa are in the slow burn, relationship-building stage of the story. I look forward to the conclusion of the story in the next book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is PART 1 of the complete story. Readers who don’t like multi-part books that require the reading of the second part should wait for the second book to arrive. The book makes it clear on its cover and in its title/description that this is the first part of this couple’s story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED AS LIES is the third book in the Wicked & Devoted series. It is not necessary to read the first two books in the series in order to read this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received a pre-release ARC to assist in preparing this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own. I purchased a copy of this book after its release.

 

four-half-stars

Review: More Than Protect You

Review: More Than Protect YouMore Than Protect You (More Than Words, #6.5) by Shayla Black
Series: More Than Words #6.5
Published by Dark Nights on October 6, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 152
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: For such a short story, this packs a lot of character and relationship building in. I enjoyed this very much as Tanner and Mandy have an instant attraction, but takes time for them to get to know one another. Much of the story is told in a quick fashion, but I liked these two together.

THE STORY: Readers of the series know about Barclay Reed, the father of several main characters in the series. Barclay Reed managed to father various illegitimate children by taking advantage of women in his employ. Amanda Lund is the daughter of one of Barclay’s friend and is also the father of her one-year-old son. Even though Barclay is dead, his legacy lives on as someone is threatening Mandy. Enter Tanner Kirk, who agrees to be her bodyguard.

OPINION: I enjoyed this story, perhaps because it feels like a landing spot for the series meaning that we get to see all the couples and get updates. I enjoyed the relationship between Tanner and Mandy. The whole situation between them is not really complicated even though Amanda has a difficult past. Everything seems clear and straightforward so I am happy to just get to concentrate on all the character relationships.

I just really liked Tanner and Amanda who both are people who have made mistakes and are interested in moving forward together. I liked their conversations which seemed mature and designed to really understand one another.  I thought their romance was nicely paced, giving them time to get to know one another. Then the story gets hot!

The story is an easy read and because the length is short, it was a particularly enjoyable short read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a novella-length story with a nice bunch of updates about the couples so far in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MORE THAN PROTECT YOU is book 6.5 in the More Than Words series. The romance here is self-contained and this can certainly be read as a standalone. However, characters from the series make appearances, and reading in order gives a fuller understanding of the whole storyline.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: More Than Pleasure You

Review: More Than Pleasure YouMore Than Pleasure You (More Than Words, #5.5) by Shayla Black
Series: More Than Words #5.5
Published by Evil Eye Concepts, Incorporated on November 12, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 127
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This was an enjoyable read especially right now when I wanted something easy to read. Concise and fast-paced, I breezed through this one.

THE STORY: Stephen Lund arrives in Maui seeking distance from his father. At his rental, he meets Skye Ingram who is the caretaker. Skye is having a crisis. Her ex is getting married and she needs a pretend fiance to attend the wedding with her. Overhearing, Stephen offers to fill the role.

OPINION: I liked how these two worked together, and I’m always a sucker for the fake engagement trope.  I really did love the relationship between Stephen and Skye which is funny and sexy. The story has some obvious turns and reveals, but that made this a comforting read. The complexity is in the relationship between the characters in the story — not only Stephen and Skye but also the supporting characters. Characters have deep and sometimes contradictory motives. What could have been formulaic villains end up being complicated — even if not always likable.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a novella told in alternating first person.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MORE THAN PLEASURE YOU is book 5.5 in the More Than Words series. While it is not necessary to read the other books in the series since this book gives you the essential conflict, it does help to be familiar with the characters in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: Wicked Ever After

Review: Wicked Ever AfterWicked Ever After (One-Mile and Brea, part two) (Wicked & Devoted #2) by Shayla Black
Series: Wicked & Devoted #2
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on April 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this conclusion to Brea and (Pierce) One-Mile’s story. I worried that the first book raised expectations that wouldn’t be met in the finale, but this one was great and hit all the right notes — passion, angst, drama, romance, action and plenty of sexy times.

THE STORY: At the end of the first part of Brea and One-Mile’s story, the two have fallen in love, but One-Mile’s job is dangerous and the people he interact with a threat to Brea. At the same time, Brea is uncertain about One-Mile’s feelings and intentions. Misunderstandings abound as these two try and navigate their emotions amid the expectations of those around them.

OPINION: This second part of Brea and One-Mile’s story begins with a misunderstanding which sets up the conflict in the story as the players react and set up new situations that the characters need to navigate. I’m not a real fan of misunderstanding conflicts — especially because this misunderstanding seems to easy to fix. But thankfully, the misunderstanding is resolved and the characters go on to resolve the problem situations they find themselves in.

The story goes really fast and the pacing just compels the readers to gobble the book up quickly.

One thing I really liked is how Pierce is such a tough guy but who is sensitive and haunted by his past. He doesn’t really believe that he is good enough for Brea. He has masked his insecurities and self-loathing by his outer toughness and anti-social rudeness. I really love when an alpha hero is just completely undone by a sweet gentle heroine. I like that Brea has morals and convictions but she is not judgmental or unforgiving. She also is certainly willing to go all in when she falls in love.

The prior book had a bit more action, but this part felt more emotional.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book completes Brea and One-Mile’s story, but there is an epilogue that sets up the next book in the series. That epilogue leaves the book with a cliffhanger for the next story, but does not disturb the HEA for Brea and One-Mile.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED AFTER EVER is the second part of the story of Brea and One-Mile. The first book, WICKED AS SIN, should be read first. This book also overlaps in time with DEVOTED TO PLEASURE but that book doesn’t have to be read to enjoy this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: Wicked as Sin

Review: Wicked as SinWicked as Sin: One-Mile & Brea, Part One (Wicked & Devoted, #1) by Shayla Black
Series: Wicked & Devoted #1
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on March 3, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this story. One-Mile ended up being much more of a marshmallow than I expected about Brea. The story felt really classic and was eminently enjoyable because of that. My only negative is that the book is only part 1 and I’ve been burned by these split stories before. But I can’t wait to read the conclusion.

THE STORY: Brea Bell is warned to stay away from Pierce Walker (aka One-Mile). But the attraction between the virginal preacher’s daughter and the dangerous sniper is hot and immediate. When Brea ends up coming to One-Mile for help, things explode with far reaching consequences.

OPINION: This was a story that I was highly anticipated. I really loved this couple together. The story was hot and yet there was a definite sweetness between this couple that I didn’t expect. I got immediately engrossed in this book and read it quickly in one sitting.

Brea and Pierce are adorable. He’s an alpha who can’t imagine his feelings for the Brea and yet can’t stay away from her. Brea is a woman of values but she doesn’t judge or shame other people. I really liked that about her. I also liked that she recognizes her own faults. The heat and the passion between these two was obvious and I thought their connection worked really well.

The only negative for me is the cliffhanger. I wasn’t angry or annoyed because it is clear from the cover of the book that this is a part 1 of the story. I think my trepidation is because I have over the recent years read some really fantastic beginnings of stories that I was deeply disappointed in the ending. None of those books were by Shayla Black, but I’m still wary. I hope that I will be pleasantly surprised in the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is NOT the complete story of this couple. It is part one. There is a part two that will be the conclusion.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED AS SIN is the first book in the Wicked & Devoted series. The Wicked & Devoted series is a spin-off of the Wicked Lovers series and the Devoted Lovers series. It is not necessary to have read any book in the prior series to read this one. I have not read the Wicked Lovers series at all and didn’t have any problem understanding the various characters and conflicts.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via the author’s Facebook group. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own. I also purchased a copy of this book once it became available to the public.

four-half-stars

Review: Devoted to Love

Review: Devoted to LoveDevoted to Love by Shayla Black
Series: Devoted Lovers #2
Published by Berkley Books on July 2, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable story, sexy, sexy times with a suspense/mystery story that kept me interested throughout. I liked these characters and how they reluctantly fall for one another.

THE STORY: Weddings are a natural place for hookups. When sister of the bride, Magnolia West and friend of the groom Josiah Grant agree to a no-commitments, no regrets one night stand, they don’t anticipate that there is something really strong between them. Two people who have been hurt and closed off end up spending time together as there is danger around them. And the more time they spend together, the more Josiah and Maggie can’t imagine being apart.

OPINION: This book begins with one of my favorite romance book situations — romance at someone else’s wedding. Josiah and Maggie intend to take full advantage of the wedding atmosphere and enjoy some no-commitment sex. But then things happen. There is a mysterious murder of a neighbor and some possible danger for Maggie and her family which requires Josiah to stay on in town to help protect her and find out the truth of what is happening. Of course, this allows Josiah and Maggie to get to know one another better — something neither wanted at first.

Maggie is a woman who keeps herself at a distance from others. She has fear and abandonment issues and is just protecting herself. She also has had really bad luck in the romance department. She is a woman who fears connection and yet is starving to be connected to someone and have a happy ever after. She just fears so much something negative happening that she keeps her distance. I loved that we get to see how quickly she learns to trust Josiah. She opens herself up to the possibility of love and is rewarded.

Josiah is a man who has been burned before and has no intention on getting serious with a woman. But then he meets Maggie and she appeals to him on a deep level. They are physical matches and he finds himself loving the challenge she presents. She is smart and stubborn. Josiah is a deeply protective guy and while he respects Maggie, there is no doubt that he intends to be the alpha protector.

The suspense story here is intriguing as I kept wondering what was going on behind the group threatening Maggie’s family. Information is given at a good pace and I was always interested in what was going on in the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: Can I admit that I really want the story of Brea and One-Mile?

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEVOTED TO LOVE is the second book in the Devoted Lovers series. This book has a self-contained romance so it can be read as a standalone but there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in support of preparation of this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: More Than Tempt You

Review: More Than Tempt YouMore Than Tempt You (More Than Words #5) by Shayla Black
Series: More Than Words #5
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on April 30, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Clint is misguided and Beth is hard to get to know, but these two are so perfect together that all the lies an secrets can’t keep them apart. I enjoyed this book but wanted more grovel for Clint’s lies.

THE STORY: Clint Holmes is looking for revenge after the death of his father. He believes that Bethany Banks, who managed his father’s money, is responsible for the shock and stress that led to his father’s death. He tracks her down in Maui working as a waitress. In order to discover what her involvement is in the theft of his father’s money, Clint pretends to be a bartender new to the island and hides his true identity from Bethany. But she isn’t what he expected. Soon Clint finds himself falling for this woman with secrets.

OPINION: This book is told primarily from Clint’s point of view which is a good thing because otherwise his actions would be pretty terrible. Instead, we get to see his conflicts and thus he is a much more sympathetic character.

If a book has first person, I generally prefer alternating first person narratives so that we can get to know each character. Here Beth and her motivations remain a mystery to readers until she reveals them to Clint. This creates more understanding of Clint’s point of view because the reader is as uncertain as Clint is. (Although readers of the series might have some idea of what has been going on.)

Beth is difficult to get to know — both for the reader and for Clint. She also has some bad stuff in her background (readers of the series won’t be surprised by the horrible person her father is).

There are a lot of interesting situations in this book arising from the central conflict — Clint seeks to expose a liar by becoming one himself. Clint’s struggle of whether he is wrong about Beth or is falling for a bad person and his struggle over his own lies to Beth made his emotionally complex. It’s also a hot book!

I really liked these characters together, and I enjoyed this book with one exception. Clint really should have had to do more “on camera” groveling. But we get some sense that he is truly redeemed by the end of the book so I’m okay with it, but I still wanted more.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of the author’s other series may find some Easter eggs here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MORE THAN TEMPT YOU is the fifth book in the More Than Words series. This book can be read as a standalone although there is a continuing story in the series if you read the books in order and overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an early released eARC of this book via the author to aid in preparation of this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own. Additionally, I, myself, purchased an actual ebook of this title once it was released.

four-stars

Review: At the Pleasure of the President

Review: At the Pleasure of the PresidentAt the Pleasure of the President (The Perfect Gentlemen #5) by Lexi Blake, Shayla Black
Series: The Perfect Gentlemen #5
Published by Black Oak Books on April 9, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 450
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Entirely satisfying conclusion of this series with plenty of appearances by everyone important in the series. Wraps up everything nicely including all the romances you expect and need.

THE STORY: This book picks up immediately after the conclusion of SMOKE AND SIN. The dangers are surrounding the Perfect Gentlemen and their women as the conspiracy around the President Zach Hayes becomes more open. Zach is also torn as the woman he has wanted for years, his Press Secretary Elizabeth Matthews. Liz has been operating as Zach’s de facto First Lady after the murder of his wife on the eve of the election. Just when it seemed like Zach and Liz might give in to the passion between them, Zach has taken steps to protect Liz from those who threaten him. And now it seems like Liz might be involved in the conspiracy against Zach and the United States. Yet Zach can’t stop wanting Liz.

OPINION: This review is difficult to write. Not because this is not a wonderful book — it is — but because almost everything about it could be a spoiler. The fifth and final book in the Perfect Gentlemen series finally exposes everything that has been going on. Therefore, almost everything about it gives away plot lines.

The best thing about this book is that it answers all the questions. After it was done, I felt that I finally understood the entirely of the events of the series. The only negative of the book is that the construction of it means that you have to have read the prior books in the series to enjoy this one. AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT is packed full and it could be overwhelming for someone who isn’t familiar with the characters, events and plots of what has been happening in the series. The positive is that it richly rewards those who have read the series with a satisfying conclusion.

There is a lot in this book and yes — what you want and expect will be included (even if I don’t want to give anything away here).

Zach and Liz have been circling around one another throughout the series. Zach was born and bred to be president and thus has by circumstances lived a more restrained life than his “brothers in arms”. What I really enjoyed in this book is that Zach begins to break through his lifetime of restraint and really reach out for what he wants in this book. Liz breaks through all his discipline and he can’t be the intellectual and objective person that has been working to fulfill his ambitions. She kinda breaks him in important ways. I loved that Liz, who has been on the side for much of the series, refuses to be sidelined any longer. She insists on being in the forefront along with the other women of the series.

The plot of this book is big and crazy and so much fun. I especially loved that we get to see all the Perfect Gentlemen and their ladies together. This series really has energy when the characters interact. The relationships — both romantic and essentially a family built of friendship are essential here and really make this series worth reading.

This felt like this book was written for the fans because just about everyone and everything I could have wanted was included. I loved this book and really didn’t want it or the series to end, but now I am satisfied that everything ended on a high note.

WORTH MENTIONING: Epilogue my friends!

CONNECTED BOOKS: AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT is the fifth and final book in the Perfect Gentlemen series. This series must be read in order and it is necessary to read the prior books in the series to enjoy this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

five-stars

Review: Misadventures with My Ex

Review: Misadventures with My ExMisadventures with My Ex (Misadventures, #18) by Shayla Black
Series: Misadventures #18
Published by Waterhouse Press on March 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 196
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A second chance at love story with lots of sexy times, a manipulative prospective mother-in-law and two people who love one another even through years of being apart.

THE STORY: Three years ago, Eryn Hope fell hard for Weston Quaid but her heart was broken when he walked out on their wedding day. Three years later, he walks back into her life with a proposition: he will take care of the bills regarding her closed restaurant if she spends six weeks with him in Las Vegas. They have an agreement with different goals: Eryn wants to sex Weston out of her system so that she can finally forget him; Weston wants Eryn back.

OPINION: What didn’t work for me? I really never accepted the events that led to the breakup of Eryn and West three years ago. But that is the setup for the story so putting that aside, I really enjoyed this book.

There was a real sense of emotion between Eryn and West which is heightened by the alternating first person points of view allowing the reader to really trust in these two characters motivations even when the events seem to point to something else. A story that might be exploitative without understanding that West really loves Eryn and wants to get her to listen to and believe him ends up working and being sexy. I enjoy a good second chance story and these two characters have to get through their mistakes. They are both young (just in the mid 20s) when this book begins so the serious mistakes of three years ago makes a little more sense.

What really worked for me? The connection between these characters and their desperation for one another even amid all the mistakes of their past.

WORTH MENTIONING: I hope we get another book about Eryn’s sister Echo and her superhot best friend.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES WITH MY EX is the eighteenth book in the Misadventures series. This series, however, is by different authors and doesn’t have a common storyline or characters so they can generally be read as standalones. However, this book is connected with MISADVENTURES OF A BACKUP BRIDE which is the story of Eryn’s sister Ella. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-stars