Review: Mastering Her Senses

Review: Mastering Her SensesMastering Her Senses (Blasphemy, #2) by Laura Kaye
Series: Blasphemy #2
Published by Laura Kaye on February 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I liked these characters and they had a real hot read. My only complaint was the short length of the story combined with the emphasis on the sexual encounters between them left the emotional part of the story more superficial.  I enjoyed the book.

THE STORY:  Cassia Locke has developed a phobia of the dark after an accident.  She comes to Blasphemy to try and work through her fear. She ends up reconnecting with Blasphemy co-owner Quinton Ross.  Quinton is a dominant who specializes in sensory deprivation.  Several years ago, Cassia stood Quinton up.  Their attraction, however, hasn’t lessened in the interim. Now Quinton is willing to help Cassia overcome her phobia.

OPINION:  This was an enjoyable story, but the lack of emotional journey for the characters means that it isn’t one that I will think to pick up again.  There are some books that I enjoy without becoming connected to the story or the characters.  This was a book that engaged me while I read it, but I thought the relationship between Cassia and Quinton was too superficial for me to want to take their journey again.

Cassia and Quinton have a hot relationship. I really liked that the book focuses on Cassia and her phobia and her journey to finding peace again.  (One thing I would have liked would have been some resolution on the results as to her job).  There is a lot of focus on the hot scenes between Quinton and Cassia.

Cassia is a woman seeking to regain control of her life after a cave-in which left her afraid of the dark.  I really liked that Cassia is a woman who embraces her sexuality and is not shamed by her sexual experience or her desires. She might be the submissive in the relationship, but it is clear that she is an equal in the relationship.  I liked her active and adventurous spirit.

One scene is particular made me love Quinton.  He cares for Cassia when she is sick. I think every woman could love a man who cares for her when she is sick. While I thought Cassia was very active in the story, in many ways Quinton is more reactive and responsive even as he is the Dom. I never felt that I connected with Quinton as a characters as much as I did Cassia.

I enjoyed this book but wish that there was more of a conclusion regarding Cassia’s phobia.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a lot of graphic sex scenes.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MASTERING HER SENSES is the second book in the Blasphemy series about a BDSM sex club.  It is not necessary to read the others in the series to understand this one although there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Trust

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

Review: TrustTrust by Kylie Scott
Published by Kylie Scott on July 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Incredibly engaging story that doesn’t let up from the first page. I loved that this book felt so real with all the traumas and difficulties of young love and teenage relationships. Edie and John are so sweet and yet their relationship feels authentic even with the incredible drama which moves the plot of this story.

THE STORY:  A robbery threatens the life of seventeen year old high school senior Edie Millen.  Saved by the actions of John Cole, Edie finds her world turned upside down as she tries cope with the traumatic events of the robbery.  Edie becomes more wild, wanting to try things for the first time in response to her near death experience.  Leaving her private girls school, Edie comes to the local public high school and finds new friends and John Cole.  John and Edie become friends and then things become weird between them as John’s offer to help Edie lose her virginity results in emotional turmoil between them.

OPINION:  This is a book that grabs the reader from the first page as there is no wait for the action to begin.  The scene is raw and scary and emotional. Seeing the events through Edie’s eyes made the fear more immediate and thus more enthralling.  This book may take place among high school students but it is raw and frightening and doesn’t pull its punches. It is also violent in parts.

Edie is the heart and center of this book.  And I loved her. She is intelligent, snarky, overweight and insecure, and funny. Even thirty years her senior, I could identify with her character and I had great empathy for her.  As she struggles with both the normal crises of high school — boys, classes and bullies — she also is dealing with the aftermath of the robbery and that changes her whole perspective on life.  And makes her a risk taker when she wasn’t one before. Sometimes I find depictions of teenage girls annoying but here she is perfectly balanced in that age of becoming an adult but still making silly choices.  And that was one thing I really liked.  Both John and Edie are changed by their experience and in that shared experience the two are able to talk through their choices.

John ends up being an incredibly sweet guy. He wants to protect Edie, but he is also willing to allow her to fight her own battles. It was also interesting to see how the robbery changed John’s life as well since he has similar but also different battles as result.  While we do not get John’s point of view during this book, Edie and John talk enough that his perspective is adequately represented in this book.

I really enjoyed the development of the relationship between Edie and John. Their relationship evolves over time and I thought the entire progression was well done.  I also liked the complications about sex between these two. There are no sugar sweet glasses in this book.  While Edie and John are sweet together, there is also something raw and real about them.

I didn’t think I would like this book when I first approached it, but it ended up being really good and I only wish I knew more about what happens between Edie and John in the future.

WORTH MENTIONING:  TRUST is a young adult novel with characters ages seventeen and eighteen in high school.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  TRUST is a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: Tycoon

Review: TycoonTycoon by Katy Evans
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on June 20th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 252
Goodreads
two-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I liked the premise of this story, but I ended up not liking the characters much.  Too much cheating and selfishness for me.

THE STORY: Bryn Kelly is desperate for money for her startup business.  So desperate she is willing to appeal to Aaric Christos — rich, handsome, a New York power player — and also the boy that wanted her in high school and Bryn rejected.  He’s a man who invests in what others believe is too risky, but he wants to know everything before he invests.  Thus starts a relationship that is part past, part present and all sex and romance.

OPINION:  I really like second chance at love stories and I wanted to like this one, but I ended up disappointed.  As the story starts out Aaric is about to propose to his girlfriend that he conveniently doesn’t love and has an open relationship with.  Knowing that he has someone in his life, Bryn pursues him anyway which didn’t make me like her much.  The story just seemed to snowball from there.  I tried to like the characters, but they seemed too selfish.  There are spoilers out there about what happens with the girlfriend and I can confirm that it was as terrible as others make it out to be.  Nothing is really resolved in this story as things are left hanging.  That bothered me and even more Aaric’s decision of “my happiness is more important than anything” really bugged me.  My suggestion would be “keep it in your pants for a while and be a man with responsibilities”.  (Especially since he is a repeat offender).

The last portion of the book really disappointed me because I had the feeling that the book was going in the right direction and I would have ended up liking it.  Instead, there were just too many things that triggered negative reactions for me.

WORTH MENTIONING:  There is a lot of disjointed storytelling techniques as the story jumps between characters and also time period.  I liked the method of writing most in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  TYCOON is a standalone, but apparently there will be a second book with other characters from this book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 2 stars.

 

two-stars

Review: Sight Unseen

Review: Sight UnseenSight Unseen: A Collection of Five Anonymous Novellas by Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, Emma Barry, J.A. Rock
Published by Open Ink Press on June 6th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Historical
Pages: 386
Goodreads
four-stars

SIGHT UNSEEN is an anthology of five stories written by different authors.  Three months after the publication, the authors will be revealed.

LOST THAT FEELING:  Alma is being held in prison where she is told she is a thief and a murderer.  Having cast a spell on herself, Alma has lost her memories from the last seven  years.  When she is rescued by a man named Driss, he tells her he is a friend and that she is actually a hero helping to overthrow an oppressive leader. Alma, however, doesn’t know who to trust and also who she really is.  This story was a disappointment to me.  I really loved the setup and the relationship between Alma and Driss seemed to have much promise, but instead of focusing on the relationship, the story spends too much time on the reasons that Alma’s spell went wrong. I wish there was more relationship development.  Rating: 2 stars.

CLEAR VIEW OF YOU:  Kate was raised by her mother as a future witch, but Kate was a disappointment to her mother. As she grew, Kate realized that her mother was actually running a cult and that magic is fake.  Fleeing to the “real world” Kate finances her education by acting as a psychic.  When her new client, North, has a special request for Kate, she wonders if this is an offer of a lifetime or one too good to be true.  I really liked this story.  My complaint was that it was too short.  I would love to read more stories in this world with these characters.  For such a short story, there is a lot of development in the story with both discovery of self and also dramatic plot developments.  Fun and intriguing.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

FREE:  Brad White is in love with Wren Masters.  The complication is that Brad works for a criminal motorcycle club and Wren is the club’s president’s daughter.  When Wren discovers the truth about the club, she works with Brad to discover the truth about what is going on with her father’s club.  The truth may, however, threaten any future for Brad and Wren.  This story was uneven and parts of it were unsatisfying, but I loved Brad and his devotion to Wren even when she doesn’t respond to him.  There was something fresh and intriguing about the story even if it didn’t feel polished.  I wanted to know more about the future of these two.  Rating: 4 stars.

CHARIOT OF DESIRE:  CJ Crespo has always been interested in her bandmate Donny Times. After years of self-destructive behavior (it was the 1970s after all), Donny has joined a cultish religion which imposes a morality that threatens to tear the band and Donny and CJ apart.  This is more a vignette than a fully reconciled story.  I was unhappy because while the story tells something about these characters, it felt unfinished and I was left asking what would actually happen between these characters.  Rating: 2.5 stars.

THE HEART IS A UNIVERSE:  On the planet of Pax Cora a young woman is slated to be the sacrifice in order to save her planet.  Vitalis, however, has moved from acceptance of her fate to the decision to flee and save herself.  Her desperation leads her to accept an invitation to a courtship summit where she meets the heroic and handsome prince Eleian of Terra.  Immediately upon their meeting the stranger Eleian proposes marriage. What is unclear is what are Eleian’s motives in wanting to marry a woman who will die in sixteen days if she doesn’t escape.  Absolutely wonderful.  My favorite story in the anthology.  While all the threads didn’t come together for me in the end, I thought the journey and the relationship between these characters was compelling.  I couldn’t put it down and kept turning pages wanting to know what the secrets between these characters were, how the two would resolve the dilemmas facing them and just wanting to know what the end would be.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

four-stars

Review: Only the Lucky

Review: Only the LuckyOnly the Lucky (Kate Burkholder, #8.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #8.5
Published by Minotaur Books on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 56
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This is a nice short story in the Kate Buckholder universe. The story isn’t particularly complicated but gives a small sense of the overarching issues that are invested in the series — Amish-English relationship and conflict, Kate’s work as a small town police chief and her romance.

THE STORY:  It is Friday the 13th in Painters Mill and plenty is going wrong.  A “rager” is being held where both Amish and English are attending.  Drinking, drugs and all sorts of problems that young people can get into are expected and enough to give Kate a headache. At the same time, an accident causes a power outage in town.  When one of the Amish girls attending the rager is attacked and left for dead, Kate has to find out who wanted to hurt this young woman.

OPINION:  I enjoyed this story although the solution seemed pretty basic to me and I figured it out almost immediately.  I did like, however, this glimpse of Kate who seems much more settled and happy. I wish we had seen more of her and Tomasetti because I really love their relationship but we did see how peaceful they are right now which was nice.

Because of the length of this story, things happen pretty quickly. I also liked the secondary romance in the story and was surprised at how well everything dropped into place with all the moving parts of the story and the various characters.

The novels in this series tend to be much more angst driven so it was nice to see a more uncomplicated mystery for Kate to solve.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a very short story and only gives a small taste of the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ONLY THE LUCKY is a short story that is 8.5 of the Kate Buckholder series. This story is a taste and introduction to the series for new readers and a bridge story for readers of the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Outlaw’s Honor

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

Review: Outlaw’s HonorOutlaw's Honor (Cahill Ranch #2) by B.J. Daniels
Series: Cahill Ranch #2
Published by Harlequin Books on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  The series improves as the characters fall into their places. I enjoyed this book as part of the series and I especially loved Darby who is sweet and honorable.  The story slowly unwinds the motives of the characters and I enjoyed the journey.

THE STORY:  Darby Cahill has a quiet life running the bar he and his twin sister own in a small town in Montana. While attending a fair, he sees a woman who shakes his foundations.  Ironically, that same woman tries to pickpocket him later. He is even more shocked when that woman, Mariah Ayres arrives at his bar asking for a job. He hires her while the two dance around what actually happened and what Mariah’s motives are.  Darby becomes more concerned when he discovers that Darby is running and is in danger.

OPINION:  This is a slowly developing romance that is combined with a suspense story.  The story unfolds as the characters motives become known.  The way that Daniels structures this series there is development on various storylines (upcoming romances and overarching mysteries).  A lot happens in this book on various levels.

I enjoyed the mystery in this one and the continuing storyline of the series.  My favorite part of this story is Darby who is simply adorable as a hero.  He is a good man who falls for Mariah instantly — love at first sight — and despite all the circumstances, Darby cannot help but do everything he can for Mariah.

Mariah’s story is complex and only revealed later in the book.  I won’t disclose her story here because part of the development of the story is the questioning of her motives. The romance here is sweet and most of the drama of the series is from the mystery and the external danger.

This book advances the overarching story in the series and I can’t wait to find out more.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The story about Darby’s brother is the one I have been waiting for. More happens here for those who have been following the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  OUTLAW’S HONOR is the second book in the Cahill Ranch series. While the story here is independent as to the romance, there is an overarching storyline mystery that continues from the first book.  It’s better to read this series as a whole because there are unanswered questions after this book as well.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

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

four-stars

Review: Undaunted

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

Review: UndauntedUndaunted: A Western Romance Novel by Diana Palmer
Series: ,
Published by Harlequin Books on June 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I enjoyed this book as a one time read.  There are some extreme moments in this book that make the hero hard to like, but that is not unfamiliar for Palmer readers.  My complaint is that I think the hero needed to grovel more because of his horrendous behavior.

THE STORY:  Kate Martin has done something terrible. She accidentally hit the jet ski of the local billionaire, Garrett Carlton, with her employers speedboat.  As a result, Garrett was injured and is now blind.  Kate feels a tremendous amount of guilt and secretly takes on the role of Garrett’s assistant in order to help him.  Garrett is very bitter and coldhearted, distrusting women but finds himself drawn to the sweet young woman who he meets.  The problem is that sooner or later he will find out about Kate’s deception.

OPINION:  Diana Palmer has a certain type of story that she tells.  There is often a young, innocent woman who falls for a bitter older man.  The man believes that the woman is more sexually experienced and eventually treats her poorly.  This book has a variation on that story, but the bones remain intact.  I’ve been reading Palmer for 30 years and I enjoy her stories.  This book is good, but I had two problems with it that reduced my rating somewhat.

Kate is a nice person but incredibly naive.  I understand that she comes from a conservative and sheltered background, but it is impossible for me to believe that someone could be so silly in modern America.  She is a nice person but too naive for me.  That, however, didn’t lower my rating.  What did was Kate’s reaction to injuring Garrett.  She is a liar and is in fact deceiving him. She is also guilty of a crime and hiding out.  If anyone doubts that, consider that hit and run would be obvious if she were driving a car instead of a boat.  That bothered me throughout the whole book.  Her behavior didn’t match with her character.  This was too big a problem for me to set aside.

Garrett is a man with a soft heart who has been battered so much that it has made him bitter and hard.  While he longs for belonging and love, he has convinced himself that he doesn’t want it because he has been hurt and disappointed.  My complaint about him is that he is incredibly cruel to Kate because he is attracted to her.  He is the one who hired her.  He could have her leave if he doesn’t want to have her around.  Instead, he treats her terribly.

One of the biggest complaints about Garrett in online reviews is what happens when he finds out about Kate causing his accident.  Actually that I didn’t mind as much because at least there was a reason for his anger and behavior.  My biggest complaint was that I thought that Garrett needed to grovel a big more because of his actions.  I think he deserved it.

There was, however, something I really enjoyed about this book.  I thought that the characters were well constructed and I felt their intense longing for connection. I also enjoyed the construction of the conflict between these two.  I am definitely not disappointed that I read this book and especially for fans of Diana Palmer, this is a good read.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a large age difference between the hero and heroine. He is 38 and she is 23.  While this is not that unusual in historicals, it is not as common in contemporary books these days.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  UNDAUNTED takes place in the Long,Tall Texans world.  At this point it is difficult to determine which book in the series this is, but several characters will be familiar to readers of that series.  For new readers, however, the prior book in the series are not necessary.  This book acts as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

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

three-half-stars

Review: Any Day Now

Review: Any Day NowAny Day Now (Sullivan's Crossing, #2) by Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing #2
Published by Mira Books on April 18th 2017
Genres: Commentary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Serious but not dark look at a woman who is trying to rebuild her life and the man she meets who helps her look to the future.  Enjoyable and soul enriching story that focuses on hope and redemption.

THE STORY:  Sierra Jones has come to Sullivan’s Crossing as part of the beginning of her new life.  She comes to be close to her brother (Cal from WHAT WE FIND) as she works on her recovery from addiction.  As she moves day to day in building a new life, she finds herself becoming part of the community and meeting Conrad (Connie) Boyle, a local firefighter with whom she begins spending time.  But even as the future begins to unfold, darkness from Sierra’s part threatens her future.

OPINION:  This is a serious and thoughtful look at a woman who is struggling to rebuild her life and the sweet man who doesn’t want complicated, but can’t help but be attracted to it.

Sierra is a woman who is working hard to recover from her addiction.  This book is unflinching in its portrayal but this isn’t a downer book.  Indeed, this book is about triumph and recovery and hope.  I liked her as a person and I admired her determination to overcome her illness.  I also admire this book for giving Sierra an addiction where there is still stigma.  I can’t help but cringe at reviews which complain about having a main romance character with an addiction — as if such people are not deserving of a happy ending.  I enjoyed flawed characters making their journey through the world.  This book is serious, but not dark.

I great deal of the lightness in this book surrounds Connie who is a gentle, giving soul.  He is an uncomplicated man in that he just wants a happy ending and a family.  Of course, Sierra upends those dreams but he is a good contrast to her and a great support.  (Plus who can resist a sexy firefighter?)

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book takes a serious look at addiction and recovery.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ANY DAY NOW is the second book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series.  While there are overlapping characters, this book reads as a complete standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: No One But You

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

Review: No One But YouNo One But You (Silver Springs, #2) by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #2
Published by MIRA on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 448
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Really enjoyable small town mixed with mystery and crime romance.  These are two wounded people who have no reason to open up and trust one another — and yet they do.  They have a sweet romance combined with an exciting storyline for each of them.

THE STORY: Sadie Harris is struggling.  She is separated from her husband who doesn’t want to let her go and is trying to sabotage her efforts to be self-sufficient in order to driver her back to him.  When a job opens up with helping Dawson Reed at his farm preparing for the possibility of his sister being returned to his custody.  Everything seems perfect about the job except that everyone in town knows that Dawson savagely murdered his parents but managed to be found not guilty.  With the whole town against her, Sadie agrees to take the job in order to support her son.  As Sadie and Dawson spend time together, they grow closer and find that there is something between them worth fighting against the whole town for.

OPINION:  I really enjoyed this book because it acted somewhat as a romantic suspense in ways that I didn’t expect when the book began.  The merging of the various storylines was done in a skillful manner.

There is a lot going on but the heart of this story remains Sadie and Dawson.  They are both people who have been damaged by their pasts and have no reason to trust one another.  But as the two spend time together they form a friendship, and alliance, and understanding that it is them against everyone in town.

I thought this book had some beautiful moments between Sadie and Dawson as both are willing to sacrifice for the other.  And there is a lot of action and excitement as they story threads play out.

I really enjoyed this book and now want to go back and read the first one in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The premise of this series comes from men who were troubled boys at the New Horizons Boys Ranch in Silver Springs.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NO ONE BUT YOU is the second book in the Silver Springs series.  This book, however, can be read as a standalone without any problem.  (I haven’t read the first book yet and didn’t feel that I missed it.)

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

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

four-stars

Review: More Than Want You

Review: More Than Want YouMore Than Want You (More Than Words, #1) by Shayla Black
Series: More Than Words #1
on April 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

“I can’t be with someone who wants revenge more than they want me.”

FINAL DECISION:  If you allow yourself to get over Maxon being a major jerk, this book is a wonderful journey for his character.  He learns what is really important in his life. His relationship with Keeley is rough and imperfect and finally wonderful.

THE STORY:  Maxon Reed is a man on a mission — to get a deal from his estranged brother.  Maxon is willing to do just about anything — including finding a woman to distract his brother.  When Maxon meets Keeley Kent and there is an instant attraction between them and he knows that she is perfect for his plan.  After convincing the reluctant Keeley to give his plan a change, Maxon spends weeks tutoring Keeley in exactly how to appeal to his brother.  The problem is that every moment they spend together brings Maxon closer to realizing that Keeley is perfect for him.  But will Maxon give up his plan of revenge in order to get the girl himself?

OPINION:  I don’t mind heroes who are jerks in the beginning of a romance book as long as they don’t end up that way.  Maxon is a world class jerk (though his brother has him beat). Intensely competitive with his estranged brother, Maxon clearly has no morals about using people (despite his belief that he does).  His competition with his brother is primary — before friends, before love, before anything and everything.  The good news is that this book just throws Maxon’s world into disarray.  It never goes where he plans. And he ends the book a better person who is capable of love.

Keeley is almost the opposite of Maxon.  Altruistic, emotional, willing to help and do anything for those she cares about.  I like how she operates as Maxon’s guide and conscience in many ways.  While we get a bit from her point of view, the book is really about Maxon’s journey (because he is the one who really needs the help).  Keeley is more of a free spirit than the career driven Maxon, but she is also happier.

The relationship between Maxon and Keeley is complicated by Maxon’s own inability to understand what he wants and needs and how to get there.  I enjoyed seeing Maxon breaking down.  He has a nasty background which doesn’t excuse his behavior but makes it more understandable.  The focus in this book is really on Maxon getting himself right and how his relationship with Keeley is the catalyst for that.

I enjoyed this book more as I got into it (Maxon was hard to like at first).  By the end of the book, however, I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book also introduces the romance that is the subject of the second book in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MORE THAN WANT YOU is the first book in the More Than Words series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars