Review: The Choice

Review: The ChoiceThe Choice (Doms of Her Life: Heavenly Rising 1) by Isabella LaPearl, Jenna Jacob, Shayla Black
Published by Dream Words, LLC on March 27th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Goodreads
five-stars

“It’s going to get messy, emotional, and complicated. I hope you’re ready for that.”

FINAL DECISION: Hot, hot, hot. Just the beginning of the story between Beck, Seth and Heavenly, but definitely a great start. (Readers should be aware that this book ends on the cliffhanger, and there will be more books about this threesome).

THE STORY: Heavenly Young has a complicated life. She is a new nursing student, she is caring for her ill father and she is taking any job she can to make ends meet. Things become even more complicated when she catches the eyes of two dominate alpha men — both of whom want her but cannot stand one another. Dr. Ken Beckman is a surgeon who also happens to be a sadist. Having a relationship with an innocent and sweet woman is against all his rules, but Beck can’t stop himself from obsessing over Heavenly. Seth Cooper, private eye, takes one look at the sweet Heavenly and wants her in bed. But Seth finds himself drawn in by the woman he begins to know. Torn between two men who want her to make a choice between them, Heavenly cannot bring herself to choose.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this one. After reading the first trio romance by these authors, I knew to expect the cliffhanger and thus I wasn’t disappointed by the ending and the loose ends. And I think I love this couple more than Raine, Liam and Macen (DOMS OF HER LIFE) because the two men here are so funny in their competition with one another. This book feels lighter and more amusing and while there is clearly drama to come, I’m hoping that some of the humor remains.

Heavenly was slightly annoying to me as this book began. Too naive, too willing to lie to hide things that aren’t particularly worth hiding, but as the book continues I begin to see the woman who will be emerging as the series continues. (I also have to admit that her naivete made for some amusing situations). I think at some point, she is going to pull her two men by the ears (or another unmentionable part) and force them to her will.

Beck and Sean are similar men in many ways. They both clearly have some darkness in their pasts that are going to arise as the series continues, but here I found the guys funny and sweetly baffled by Heavenly. These guys are also intensely competitive and nowhere set up for the idea of a long term menage relationship. In many ways, this first book is about “the choice” that these men have to make.

I appreciated that this book allows the relationships to build in a slow fashion. Everyone is introduced and we really get the chance to see what Heavenly sees in each of these guys and also see these men begin to build a friendship with one another.

The book is hot, but I didn’t find the sex to be the focus here. It really was about relationship. The highlight was the heat and the humor. Even the cliffhanger was a gentle one so I can look forward to the next book instead of cursing the ending.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a mmf menage with the focus on the woman in the story. The two men are not involved with one another.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE CHOICE is the first book in the Doms of Her Life: Heavenly Rising series. This series is, however, connected with the Doms of Her Life series and partially takes place concurrent with that series. You can read this one without having read that series, but there are overlapping characters. And this menage is even introduced in that series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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

 

five-stars

Review: More Than Love You

Review: More Than Love YouMore Than Love You (More Than Words, #3) by Shayla Black
Series: More Than Words #3
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on February 13th 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“I had no idea when I purchased my dream home that it would come with the woman straight out of my fantasies.”

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of the series. This one is hot, hot, hot. And perhaps because the character with the secrets and pain (Harlow) isn’t the narrator this time, I can understand why the character who is treated badly sometimes (Noah) stays in the relationship. Noah’s dedication and caring for Harlow is a highlight.

THE STORY: Noah Weston is transitioning from famous quarterback to retired player and arrives in Hawaii trying to decide whether or not to take a job as a commentator.. Harlow Reed is looking for fantastic sex after ending her engagement in a public manner. The two agree to a three month arrangement…but things get complicated.

OPINION: I quite enjoyed this book because although Harlow is often distant and difficult to understand, it feels like the reversal of the typical romance where the heroine is trying to understand the distant and hurt hero.

Harlow, like her brothers, is hiding a tremendous amount of pain and hurt from her childhood (her parents are terrible people). She is, however, a funny and sexy and strong woman who who has overcome much but doesn’t recognize that she deserves more than she is allowing herself.

I really liked Noah who quickly recognizes that Harlow is special to him but has to find a way to keep her from running from him. Harlow clearly fears intimacy and will take any opportunity to flee.

This book is sexy (very sexy) and yet has a sweet undertone to the relationship between Harlow and Noah. There is darkness here, but it isn’t overwhelming in the tone of the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Book told in first person (primarily from the hero’s point of view).

CONNECTED BOOKS: MORE THAN LOVE YOU is the third book in the More Than Words series. While this book can be read as a standalone since the couple is separate from the other books, there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via the author in order to prepare a review. 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: More Than Need You

Review: More Than Need YouMore Than Need You (More Than Words Book 2) by Shayla Black
Series: More Than Words #2
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on June 13th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 477
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A second chance at love with an messed up jerk of a hero who has to reveal everything about himself to reclaim the woman that he loves and hurt.

THE STORY: Griffin Reed has just learned that he has a son. Three years ago, he made a mistake in thinking that his brother had betrayed him and that Griffin’s girlfriend was complicit. He tossed her away. Now he wants a second chance but Britta Stone has moved on and just gotten engaged to a reliable man. Griffin has only a few short weeks to convince Britta that he is a changed man who loves her and wants her and their son to be a family.

OPINION: I overall enjoyed this book and I really like the trope of the jerk hero who has to chance everything to win back the woman he loves. I just felt, however, that the book went on too long without much changing in Britta and Griffin’s relationship. In the first half of the book, I got tired of pages and pages of him desperately wanting her and her not responding. I think I would have liked the book better if I got Britta’s point of view as well (We do get a glimpse at the end).

Once the two move in together, however, and they really started to develop their relationship, the book got much better for me. I liked that Griffin has to accept responsibility for his behavior. By the end of the book, I was totally on their side.

As the two begin to communicate, the book gets much better because Britta’s feeling are more transparent. I also really liked how Griffin is determined to make grand gestures for Britta to show his love.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book’s timeline overlaps slightly with the first book in the series MORE THAN WANT YOU.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MORE THAN NEED YOU is the second book in the More Than Words series. These books are connected by overlapping characters but can be read as standalones.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Misadventures of a Backup Bride

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: Misadventures of a Backup BrideMisadventures of a Backup Bride (Misadventures, #4) by Shayla Black
Series: Misadventures #4
Published by Waterhouse Press on October 17th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This story had an interesting premise and I enjoyed the intrigue of the characters competing against the “villain” dad. A reader who can accept insta-love stories can enjoy this one.

THE STORY: Carson Frost inherits a company from his biological father that is in financial trouble. In seeking a loan, he turns in desperation to the company’s rival. The rival agrees to a loan on the condition that Carson marry his daughter.  Two weeks before the wedding, Carson recognizes that this is going to be a disaster and tries to get out of the wedding by making up another woman who he is love with. The father calls his bluff and demands that Carson produce the woman. Carson can only think of one possible woman to call — Ella Hope, and actress who he met six months ago when she dated one of his friends. Ella agrees to take the job, but the passion explodes between the two when they meet again in person. When the father meets Ella, he agrees that Carson doesn’t have to marry his daughter — but only if Carson and Ella marry in two weeks.

OPINION: This short novel sets up an interesting conflict. What happens when the woman hired to pretend to be the love of a man’s life becomes the love of his life? I enjoyed this story and the characters. This is my favorite of the series because the characters are well drawn even in the short space allowed for them in this story. Plus, there is a tremendous amount of conflict. It’s also really interesting that there are no terrible “evil” characters in the end. Plus, the story is really sexy. What I didn’t expect was the turn towards a more traditional and emotional romance story towards the end. I thought the twist on the events of a romance story worked really well here.

WORTH MENTIONING: Much of the relationship development between Carson and Ella takes place around of during sexual escapades because of the nature of the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES OF A BACKUP BRIDE is the fourth book in the Misadventures series. The books in the series are all standalone stories without any connections or overlapping characters.

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 review or 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

Review: The Edge of Dominance

Review: The Edge of DominanceThe Edge of Dominance (The Doms of Her Life, #4) by Shayla Black, Jenna Jacob, Isabella LaPearl
Series: The Doms of Her Life #4
Published by Amazon Digital Services on September 13th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 445
Goodreads

FINAL DECISION:  A worthy conclusion to the complicated romance between Raine, Macon and Liam, this book left me with a happy feeling for the three and a burning desire to hear more about their friends.

THE STORY:  In this final chapter of the romance between Raine, Macon and Liam, the three are dealing with the revelation of Raine’s pregnancy and also with Macon’s unresolved feelings after Raine’s abduction in book 3.  This book which has some humor with the arrival of Liam’s parents, mostly deals with a serious threat to the happiness of the three that comes from Macon’s past.

OPINION: This book is just a guilty pleasure crazy ride.  The story goes in directions that really cannot be anticipated from the prior books and I loved it!

The trio is really challenged in this book as external forces threaten their happiness.  Finally, we learn about Macen’s past and it is his past which threatens them.  I thought this was the most emotional that we have seen Macen and I truly felt that with his emotional breakthrough in this book, the trio is on the best footing ever.

This book has a bit of a suspense/crime mystery involved as Macen is in danger of spending most of his life in jail.  The question for the friendly characters is who is out to get him.  This threat to Macen and the accompanying loss of control forces Macen to examine his life and make deep emotional changes.  I loved his struggle in this book (he’s been my favorite in the series).  I also loved how he has to lean on Liam and Raine (whereas previously he has been the steady one for them).

I loved the new characters that we got to meet.  Liam’s parents come to visit and their arrival changes the dynamic of this book.  There are some surprising twists that some readers might have to adjust their thinking for.  I especially loved Liam’s dad.  There is one scene toward the end that might be the biggest hoot in the series!

This book really shows the three developing a true equal relationship.  Throughout the four books in this series, these characters and their relationship has changed and grown.  The relationship between three people is deeply complex and I have really enjoyed the journey these characters have taken.

Of course there is a lot of hot sex, but it is really the emotional connection between these characters that has sustained me through these books.

The series is nicely wrapped up and there is a sweet epilogue.

WORTH MENTIONING: Oh, we need so many sequels for all the friends of the trio!

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE EDGE OF DOMINANCE is the fourth and final book in the Doms of Her Life series.  This is a serial about the romance between three characters.  The series should be read in order because it assumes knowledge about the prior books and the books build on one another.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

Review: The Bold and the Dominant

Review: The Bold and the DominantThe Bold and the Dominant (The Doms of Her Life, #3) by Shayla Black, Jenna Jacob, Isabella LaPearl
Series: The Doms of Her Life #3
on February 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 366
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This book continues the saga of the trio trying to work out how their relationship will work.  There are a lot of external threat to their happiness in this one which was good, but not as emotional as book 2.

THE STORY:  After the events of book 2, things should be perfect between the trio.  Macen and Liam have agreed to share Raine in a menage relationship.  But just when things are going well, Liam’s ex-wife returns and is intent on causing trouble for Liam and his new relationship.  Danger in the form of Raine’s father also threatens the trio as they continue to try and work through all the pitfalls of developing a stable and loving relationship between them.

OPINION:  This book is about Liam and Raine’s ghosts.  Liam is still struggling with his jealousy in the relationship and with his ex-wife.  The best part of this series is that everyone is not immediately hunky-dory with the threesome.  To this point, Liam has struggled the most.  He clearly has issues with believing that he is not enough for Raine.  Much of this appears to stem from his ex-wife’s infidelity.  This book through its drama (and there is a lot of plot dramatics here), allows Liam to exorcise his demons and fully commit to the relationship.

Raine also must have a final confrontation with the demons of her past.  I liked how this was resolved and I especially liked that Raine, rather than either of the two men, is the active participant in resolving her past.

In this book, Macen is the rock.  (Can I confess that he is my favorite?)  He is the steady one throughout the book which allows the other two to return to the relationship through his determination and strength.

This is a complex story.  These characters are engaged in long journey to resolve their past and build a future together.

The ending of this book hints that Macen’s challenges are just beginning and I look forward to the conclusion of the trio’s story in the next book.

I like the secondary characters as well and hope that there are stories in the future featuring the sadist Beck and fellow dom Seth.  This book also has most external action than the other two books in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book ends on a wow cliffhanger.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE BOLD AND THE DOMINANT is the third book in the Doms of Her Life series.  This is a serial that tells the story of the relationship between Raine, Macen and Liam.  This series should be read in order because the story builds on the prior books in the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: The Young and the Submissive

Review: The Young and the SubmissiveThe Young and the Submissive (The Doms of Her Life, #2) by Shayla Black, Jenna Jacob, Isabella LaPearl
Series: The Doms of Her Life #2
Published by Dream Words on October 29th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 300
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“It might take both of you to reach her.”

FINAL DECISION:  In this book, the two men competing for Raine’s heart must put aside their differences to help her.  I enjoyed how these three characters are changing and growing (unevenly and painfully).  This book is only a part of Raine, Macen and Liam’s journey and should be approached as such.

THE STORY: This book continues the story of Raine, Macen and Liam.  As the prior book ended, the two men were engaged in a competition to win the woman they both love.  In this book, Liam realizes that he is not making progress with Raine’s submission.  As he learns more about her past, he recognizes that he alone will not be able to heal Raine.  When he and Macen put aside their differences to help Raine, Liam can’t help but fear that he might help Raine, but lose her.

OPINION:  I really enjoyed this book because the menage that is developing is messy and filled with jealousy, anger, trust issues, lust and love.  These three people are constantly confronted with having to adjust their expectations and desires.  The relationship between Raine, Macen, and Liam is difficult and evolving.  For me, I understand why such a complex relationship cannot be resolved in one book.  I don’t mind that the story of these three was divided into four books because I can see how the authors are developing this complex relationship.

In this book, the three main characters have to adjust their expectations.  The relationship changes from one of competition between the two men to them joining forces to help Raine.  This process is not easy for either of these dominant men and yet the book details how each struggles with Raine’s desires.

These characters are beginning to reveal themselves to one another.  Secrets and pain are shared and thus the beginnings of what might be a strong stable relationship is being developed.

This serial series asks for a commitment from the reader to follow the journey through multiple books, but I am looking forward to seeing what comes next for these three.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a menage m/m/f and also numerous and explicit sex and BDSM.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE YOUNG AND THE SUBMISSIVE is the second book in the Doms of Her Life series.  This is a serial and the books should be read together and in order.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: One Dom to Love

Review: One Dom to LoveOne Dom to Love (The Doms of Her Life, #1) by Shayla Black, Jenna Jacob, Isabella LaPearl
Series: The Doms of Her Life #1
Published by Dream Words on December 4th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 237
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This book is a battle.  Two men competing for one woman.  I usually don’t like these types of stories, but this one worked because the emotions felt genuine.  Certainly not for everyone, but without a doubt, deeply emotional.  Readers should be aware that this is continuing series and the issues are not resolved here.

THE STORY:  Raine Kendall has loved Alpha Dom Macen Hammerman for years, but Macen has never treated Raine as anything but a child.  Determined to make him change his mind, Raine shows him that she is all woman.  Macen knows that he can never claim the naturally submissive and yet feisty Raine because she will destroy her.  When Macen breaks Raine’s heart again, she turns to Macen’s best friend and fellow Dom Liam O’Neill.  Liam wants Raine and treats her well, but Raine still loves Macen.  Macen isn’t ready to surrender Raine even as he fights claiming her.

OPINION:  This book introduces the conflict between the main characters.  This book is the beginning of a serial about Raine, Macen and Liam.  I knew this going in so I wasn’t disappointed that things were not resolved in this book.  This book is only the opening act.

Raine has loved Macen for years.  A woman used to being abandoned, she desperately wants to be loved.  While she has submissive tendencies, she is also mouthy and has her own wants and desires that she will not give up.  Her character is central to this story because both men are sniffing around her and also because the reader has to believe that she can have a relationship with both these men.

Macen is a haunted man.  He doesn’t want to bring Raine into his world and yet he refuses to let her go. We learn that his wife died and Macen believes it is because of his lifestyle.  He wants to save Raine by keeping his distance.  In this book, he is tormented by the possibility of losing Raine. His desperation made me sympathetic to him even when I would otherwise think he is jerk for the way he treats Raine.

Liam seems like the sweeter guy, but he can also be a jerk.  We don’t learn much about his in this book and his demons although he does reveal that he does not take infidelity well because of his own past.

I really liked that these characters have a tangled relationship.  Love, hate, desperation, lust.  I have read books before where the woman is involved with two men, but those books are usually ones where the men desire a menage.  These two guys are competing against one another and Raine is caught between.  That brings more angst and uncertainty to the book, but I enjoyed the conflict (which is not resolved).

WORTH MENTIONING:  Content warning for those who want a one woman one man romance.  Raine is involved with two different men in this book.  There is also public sex, BDSM and lots of sexual activity.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ONE DOM TO LOVE is the first book in the Doms of Her Life series.  This is a continuing story about the menage rather than four separate stories.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Big Easy Temptation

Review: Big Easy TemptationBig Easy Temptation (The Perfect Gentlemen, #3) by Shayla Black, Lexi Blake
Series: The Perfect Gentlemen #3
Published by Berkley on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

“You broke her heart.”

“Yeah, well, she broke mine, too.”

FINAL DECISION:  The most emotionally complex story of the series so far, BIG EASY TEMPTATION expands the overarching conspiracy while always keeping the focus of the story on the characters and their relationship.

THE STORY:  At their first meeting almost decade ago, Naval Officer Dax Spencer knew that Holland Kirk would be special to him.  The two circled around one another for years until 3 years ago.  The death of Dax’s father brings the two together as Dax seeks answers to what happened to his father.  Holland’s work as a NCIS agent gives her jurisdiction and for a time the two work together and finally begin building a relationship.  Then everything falls apart separating the two.  Now the two reunite as the conspiracy The Perfect Gentlemen are investigating appears connected to Dax’s father’s death. Dax has questions for Holland about what happened three years ago.

OPINION:  I loved the emotional complexity of this story.  The narrative is unusual in that the story is divided in two parts. The first part takes place in the past and ends badly with Holland and Dax separated.  The second part begins in present time and ultimately brings the two lovers back together.  I especially liked that the story takes the time to bring readers into the past and show the entirety of what went wrong with Holland and Dax.  Without that context, it would be difficult to understand and forgive the betrayals that tore them apart.  By following Dax and Holland through the entirety of their story, the pain they both experience is more immediate, fresher and thus more devastating than a mere exposition of the past would have been.

This is a second chance at love story and I became engrossed in Dax and Holland’s journey and was deeply saddened at the end of the first part of the story and then rejoiced when the two found on another again.  The complexity of the story, the characters and the emotional heft of the story matched the increasing complexity of the overarching story.

One thing I especially like about this series is that each of the books in the series is different.  This is the not a series with different characters in the same story. Each of the stories, each of the characters, each of the situations and challenges are different.  At the same time, each of the novels adds to the overarching story and I love that I get to see all the characters throughout the series.

Both Dax and Holland make many mistakes on their way to finding one another and I like the optimism of that.  Even with all their mistakes and misses in getting to their HEA, the do eventually get there.

The most angst filled story so far, this book feels like a pivot point in the series as the third of the five Perfect Gentlemen gets his woman and some of the outlines of the conspiracy are beginning to be revealed.  The conspiracy which has ensnared The Perfect Gentlemen is breathtaking in its scope.  It also keeps me guessing!

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book also reveals the likely pairings for the other Perfect Gentlemen and now I can’t wait for the next book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BIG EASY TEMPTATION is the third book in The Perfect Gentlemen series.  This book should be read as part of the series because the suspense thread is part of an overarching story.  The overarching mystery continues past this book as well so be willing to continue to read the series.  Not a hardship!

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

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

five-stars