CC’s Reviews

 

Title: Illusions of Evil
Author: Lily White
Genre:  Dark Erotica/Suspense
Type: Book 1 of 2
POV:  Multiple
Releases: October 18, 2017

 

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4 Stars! 

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Jacob Hayle is a Catholic priest who runs a small-town church in a socio-economically depressed and fairly isolated locale. For 12 years, he abstained from his dark and sinful ways, but when a mysterious woman arrives on church grounds, Jacob begins to be truly tested with temptation in his sequestered sanctuary. Praying for strength to overcome, Jacob soon realizes someone else seems to be controlling his fate.

“How long do you think you’ll be able to hide from your past … to keep history from repeating itself?”


Eve represents all that is pure and offers her supplication with blind allegiance. Caught in the web of deceit and malevolence, she willingly chooses to obey as a means of absolving her masochistic guilt. 

“I’m going to transform you.”


As the level of manipulation escalates, Jacob’s resolve begins to descend into temptation and the beast within craves to be sated. Though he tries to fight, Jacob’s past is a constant reminder of how destructive and evil he can be. For Eve, she readily accepts the pain and ultimately surrenders to the pleasure.

“I’m awake now, beautiful. I’m paying attention and I’m so damn hungry, there might be nothing left of you by the time I’m done.”


Told in multiple POVs but with a focus on Jacob, the character development is measured with an ominous tone permeating the landscape. Knowing Jacob laments his past adds to the internal battle of staying true to his vows as a priest. His fight is deeply interesting as this dynamic depicts a timeless conflict with the addition of good versus evil. With Eve’s perspective she actually causes more of an imbalance and adds tension due to her role.

From the beginning, I was intrigued by Jacob’s struggle and how it was going evolve for him personally and professionally. At times, I wanted Jacob to remain resilient but the moments when he exposed his vulnerabilities truly showed his flaws. As for the creator of this madness, his character and purpose remains an enigma but I am curious to know how far it will go. With Eve, she was the toughest character for me to understand in her completely brainwashed state. Despite knowing her background and comprehending how such a situation can arise, part of me was waiting for her moment of revelation. 

This is a story that lures the reader from the first page and offers some twists while pushing the theme of virtuous against heretic. There are times when I wanted more action but I liked the tension and layers of mystery. I especially liked the sacrilegious actions that led to some hot moments. 

In Illusions of Evil flaws and sins are pushed to limits. I recommend and look forward to reading the conclusion in book two! 

 

Duet:
Illusions of Evil by Lily White Fear the Wicked

 

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Title: Monster
Author: Marni Mann
Genre:  Dark Romance/Suspense
Type: Book 2 of 2
POV:  Multiple
Publication: October 12, 2017

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4 Stars! 

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Shank is a man with unique tastes. Operating underground for years, his life has taken a different turn leaving him with few options. During this time, Shank is asked about his story and shares his experiences without any edits. Getting into Shank’s mind is disturbingly honest and while there is madness, there is also a level of acumen steeped in darkness. 

 

“In his mind, nothing was off-limits”


Someone is seeking answers with the knowledge that it will be complicated and horrific, yet there is also an opportunity to learn on multiple levels. Though wanting to feel separate from the blood, violence and hatred, it cannot be avoided. Fighting what is already present can either make one stronger or ultimately weaker.

 

“You’re the reason I’m doing this.” I lifted him higher until his feet were off the ground, and I shifted my weight forward to put all my strength on his throat.”

 

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Told in multiple POVs, the foundation is laid while intersecting and mysterious plot points begin to grow testing the integrity of the entire landscape. As the tension mounts, the inevitable is palpable yet there’s no way to know how it will all unravel. Staying true to her characters, Shank remains a depraved villain to his core and will go to any length to protect what he believes to be sacred. While his honed predatory skills do not deceive him, Shank cannot control every situation.

With secondary characters that play a pivotal role in this storyline and roles of good versus evil are delineated; however, that doesn’t mean it’s obvious as to which characters are redeemable or not. Adding to the uncertainty is the chapter arrangement which feels ominous due to foreshadowing and cleverly placed pauses adding pressure of the unknown. 

Crafted by a versed author, Monster is a complex plot steeped in guile and dark suspense that lures the reader from the first page. For those who enjoy lurking in the shadows, I highly recommend! 

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Title: Gun Shy
Author: Lili St. Germain
Genre:  Dark Suspense/Thriller
Type: Standalone
POV:  Multiple – first
Publication: October 6, 2017

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4.5 Stars! 

 

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Cassie Carlino and Leo Bentley are high school sweethearts looking to escape their bleak hometown of Gun Creek. All seems to be on track for the aspiring football player and smart cheerleader until the consequences of a missing girl begins to seep into their lives causing a chain of horrific events. 

“He looks at me with eyes that have seen violence since I last gazed into them. I know because I recognize the hardness inside his soul; it matches mine.”

Eight years later and on parole, Leo returns home to find his family even more of a mess and Cassie is a shell of woman. With guilt and sorrow for the pain Leo caused Cassie’s family, he tries to maintain a distance but his love for her hasn’t waned. Watching her from afar, he slowly begins to realize his worst fears. 

“She will not be my vice. She will not be my forgiver. She will not be my redemption.”

While Leo was away, Cassie learned to cope with her family’s predicament. Knowing what her life has become, Cassie wants to protect Leo from the town’s Sheriff, who also happens to be her ever protective step-father. But when another teen goes missing and other clues begin to mount, further complications arise.

“You can never run away from your past. It will chase you through the night, and all into the next morning.”

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As Leo and Cassie slowly find their way back to each other it isn’t for long as secrets and lies begin to unravel causing swift action to protect what is known to be true. What ensues is a disturbed descent into the long-term effects of manipulation, abuse and obsession. 

From the beginning, this story is addictive with an adrenaline induced pace and a multi-layered plot that pivots into many twists until it all unravels into a methodical chaos. Adding to the calculative plot points, is the heavy sense of desolation and desperation these characters endure creating a grim landscape. Told in multiple POVs, it is easy to empathize with Cassie and Leo, while the unique use of a third perspective answers many questions. 

Within this storyline, it becomes clear that the characters are evolving and no matter how much you want them to sway one way, the author is prepared to convincingly take her characters to the end. Leo is such a nurturing character and doesn’t shine his responsibility in any way despite being wronged. Cassie proved to be strong in a unique way that allowed her to persevere. And the ending? Loved it! 

Gun Shy is a deviously twisted and suspenseful read that enters the psyche of its characters without any apology. I highly recommend!

*An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

*This was a (F)BR with Liz and Loyda! 

 

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Title: Hideaway
Author: Penelope Douglas
Genre:  Contemporary Romance/Suspense

Type: Book #2 of 4 in a series

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3.5 Stars! 

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In this timeline about one year has passed since Corrupt ended. Since then, Kai Mori has continued on a path of redefining his life and moving on from past mistakes. However, there is one major element from his past that he must confront in order to fully be free and content. 

“I think you’re far too concerned with the secrets you know exist rather than the ones you don’t.”


Banks grew up in a troubled and not ideal situation but thanks to one person she felt a strong familial connection. When certain events occurred, Banks was left alone but remained loyal to her family despite her own wishes. As Banks begins to realize what her current situation is lacking and the possibility of a different path, she starts to veer toward the one person that may be worthy. 

“I’m scared of you even with your mask off. Because of everything you make me feel.”


Now that Kai has the chance to protect his secret and make a deal with the only person that also knows the truth, he is determined to make it all happen. What he doesn’t expect is the obstacle caused by Banks. Shifting from past and present, the significance of the unique connection Kai and Banks share is evident but it also adds tension to their dilemma. 

“You don’t know which way to turn, and you won’t see that you’ve gone the wrong way until you’ve gone too far.”


Told in dual POV, the motivations, regrets and hope Kai and Banks individually experience are clearly communicated. As a couple, there are factors that keep them apart more than they are together but it seems to add to the sexual tension. Though Kai claims to have a darker side, it really doesn’t show. For Banks, her background is a big issue and while understanding her predicament, Banks needs to reach a certain point before realizing what is holding her back.

In addition to Kai and Banks, one other particular character has a key role in this plot. For me, his presence was very strong, and while I liked the added dimension, it also made Kai’s story feel secondary at times. Leading up to Devil’s night, the tension mounts for the big dark finale but when it was all revealed it felt underwhelming considering the buildup. However, I did like the promise of more for my favorite Horseman.

Hideaway is a book that offers mystery, secrets and romance. For those looking to reunite with the Horsemen, their story continues in a way that will keep you wondering what’s next.

Devil’s Night series:
Corrupt (Devil's Night, #1) by Penelope Douglas Hideaway (Devil's Night, #2) by Penelope Douglas Kill Switch (Devil's Night, #3) by Penelope Douglas Nightfall (Devil's Night, #4) by Penelope Douglas

 

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Title: Pretty Broken Dolls (Pretty Little Dolls #4)
Author: Ker Dukey & K Webster
Genre:  Dark Erotica/Suspense
Rating: 4.5 Stars!!!

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As Pretty Broken Dolls opens, the timeline continues without interruption leaving all the main characters in a precarious situation. Benny will do whatever it takes to find his stolen doll, and to make his life right again. Knowing certain factors are out of his control, Benny must rely on the one person who reveals himself as his ally, as everything Benny ever wanted is at stake.

“You think I’m going to let you be my puppet master? My sugar daddy now?”

What ensues is a uniquely dark path that has been carved out for Benny and his deep needs. The concept of unconventional is at its apex as Benny’s monster is ready to protect his doll and chosen family at any cost. With the events set in motion, operating under the radar of the law is impossible which further causes complications.

“He’s coming apart at the seams, and I want to be the one to sew him back together. That’s what I do for my dolls. I stitch them back exactly the way I like them.”

Told in multiple POVs, the level of depravity is ever present. Knowing these characters are able to find a connection amidst their disturbed minds is deliciously complex and intriguing while also causing contradictory feelings of comfort and distress. Getting inside Benny’s head is like experiencing life without boundaries or simply feeding a sinister Id. Additionally, learning more about pivotal characters adds layers of dimensionality that doesn’t necessarily serve to excuse behavior but rather simply explains how it all started.

“Why do people keep taking my doll from me? Why can’t I just be happy, left alone with what’s mine?”

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With engaging writing, swift pacing and the added unknown factor of what lurks on the next page, the storyline remained addictive until the very last page. The sexual elements by far exceeded my expectations and the final outcome soothed my unconventional soul. 

In Pretty Broken Dolls, Ker Dukey and K. Webster successfully create characters that are clearly broken but somehow their crazy pieces perfectly fit together. This is a journey meant for those who thrive in the unconventional. I highly recommend the entire series!

Pretty Little Dolls series:
Pretty Stolen Dolls (Pretty Little Dolls, #1) by Ker DukeyPretty Lost Dolls (Pretty Little Dolls, #2) by Ker DukeyPretty New Doll (Pretty Little Dolls, #3) by Ker DukeyPretty Broken Dolls (Pretty Little Dolls #4) by Ker Dukey

*(F)BR with Twinsie Hawkey, Liz and Loyda!*

 

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Title: The Ghostwriter
Author: Alessandra Torre
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction/Suspense
Type: Standalone
POV:  Multiple – first & third
Expected Publication: October 2, 2017

 

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4 Stars! 

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Helena Ross is a successful author living with a secret. Even though Helena writes relatable characters, she has struggled with establishing connections and guards her essence with certain rules. For the past four years, Helena’s choices further compounded her need for a solitary existence. After receiving news of her terminal illness she decides to tell her story and learns the value of honesty, acceptance and friendship.

“Once I write her story, she will be real, she will be exposed, dead to edits but open to everyone’s eyes.”


Over the next three months, Helena shares her story in what will be the last book of her career. Along the way, Helena’s defenses become penetrable and her perspective seems to slightly shift. While this occurs, the inevitable is looming and the tension of Helena’s secret mounts.

“How can a person know what they can handle if they aren’t challenged by life?”


Told in multiple POVs, Helena’s words set the landscape of a grim narrative about a neglected attempt at marriage, motherhood and other successive failures. With a strong secondary cast supporting the pacing of Helena’s biopic, they add dimension to the tragedies but also breakthrough moments underscoring the gravity of Helena’s loss of time and misdirected behavior.

As the story unfolds, the pacing is fairly measured with questions being raised at different intervals in search of the ultimate answer with a twisty revelation. While Helena doesn’t make it easy to like her, she does have relatable emotions, especially those that make her question how to assimilate or experience a sense of normalcy. Of course, her deepest regret is eroding what’s left of her emotional and physical strength.

Knowing this book is Alessandra Torre’s first foray into the non-romance genre, it is a worthy effort showcasing her stylistically recognizable prose. Though I was expecting a deeper connection with the protagonist and felt some plot points needed further introspection, the story held my interest and I empathized with the reality of her predicament.

Steeped in contemporary fiction with elements of suspense The Ghostwriter is a book about sacrifice, loss, and acceptance.

*An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

*This was a (F)BR with Twinsie Hawkey and Loyda!

 

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Title: The Brother
Author: K. Larsen
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Type: Book 2 of a standalone series
POV: First person – dual
Expected Publication: October 2, 2017

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4 Stars!!

 

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Nora Robertson is trying to move forward with her life post captivity. While she has a decent handle on some aspects, her love life is non-existent. Having developed certain desires, Nora is afraid to seek what she needs and still pines for the past. 

“Society often shouts at us to fit into the mold. And I don’t. I never have. So this lingering guilt seeps in…”
Liam Lockwood has a plan that will avenge the pain his brother caused him. Intrigued by her contradictions, Liam watches and waits until it’s time to make contact. What Liam doesn’t expect is to find someone that may actually be just as broken.

 

“I’m not the good guy, Nora. I’m no hero.”

As Liam is determined to sate his anger, he begins to learn her quirks and what makes Nora tick. Despite her painful past, she is still willing to take some risks and voice her reservations. Though Nora is haunted by a different man with green eyes, she sees that Liam has his own vulnerabilities and needs that make him unique. 

“Honestly, I want all the beautiful parts of you and all the ugly parts too.”

 

For Liam, he cannot believe he’s found a woman that can give him everything he craves. While Nora also realizes that Liam isn’t afraid to go over the edge with her darker desires. As they compliment each other in this regard, it leads to some hot times! 

 

“His forearm pins my head to the floor. I half-heartedly try to struggle as he thrusts in with such force, that my breath catches and I go stone still. He lays into me blunt and heavy. It’s punishment.”

 

Told in dual POV, getting into the minds of Liam and Nora is essential in their development individually and as a couple. Liam held onto to his anger and resentment since he was a child but ultimately realized Nora has only accepted him as a whole. With Nora acknowledging that her present and future is more valuable than her past, it opens the way for her to become who she really is. 

The Brother is a story that portrays two broken characters and how they find solace in each other. While Liam’s methods were questionable, I enjoyed his dark side and how he redeemed himself. Reading how Nora was able to embrace the past and use that to progress in her healing was admirable. Most importantly, I liked how they accepted their kinky desires and didn’t make apologies for it.

This book would appeal to those looking for a romance with darkish undertones. 

*Note: The Brother can be read as a standalone; however, Nora’s story begins in The Tutor

*This was a (F)BR with Loyda!*

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Title: A Charm of Finches
Author: Suanne Laqueur
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Romance 
Type: Book 2 of a series
POV: Third Person
Expected Publication: November 1, 2017

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4.5 Stars!! 

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As we reconnect with Javier “Jav” Landes, he’s at a point in his life where he wants to experience a real relationship. Based on his previous attempts, Jav is intimidated and feels a bit naïve but he’s ready when a certain man’s coordinates converge with his own. 

 

“Give me this chance. Please. Let me love to find out who I really am.”


Steffan “Stef” Finch is an art therapist to abused males of all ages. His job is emotionally demanding but Stef has an earnest quality that nurtures and provides comfort to those who need it the most. As his steady and self-effacing manner flows into his personal life, Stef balances Jav’s naiveté and offers sense of trust.

 

“Anyone can be a boyfriend. I’m your curator. Your mate.”


Geronimo “Geno” Caan is a teenager in the midst of preparing for college. Close to his twin brother, Geno learned to rely on their bond from birth but when he discovers the twin bond is compromised, Geno suffers the most from the betrayal. 

 

“Survival depends on resiliency while escape relies on common sense.”


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For Geno, what ensues over a year is heartbreaking as he must fight to regain his sense of self. When Geno hits a low, he is matched with Steffan Finch as his art therapist. Trying to confront his fears, he learns of other’s struggles and how they chose to survive, realizing he isn’t alone in darkest times. 

 

“You can’t make it go away,” Stef said. “But you can make it smaller.”


Parallel to Geno’s struggle, Jav and Stef forge ahead in their relationship but before Jav can give all to Stef, he must come to terms with his family’s abandonment. Coming full circle, these characters accept how family is not only defined by lot but by choice. With the addition of secondary characters, the emphasis on healing is paramount. 

 

“Listen to learn. Learn to tell. Tell to teach.”


With a realistic narrative and adept style, Suanne Laqueur’s writing focuses on the emotional impact of how characters endure life’s challenges. Feeling Geno’s pain is intense and yet throughout the darkest times, he remains true to his heart. With Geno’s story making such an impact, the journey for Jav and Stef felt a bit secondary but I liked how their lives intersected. A standout for me is Micah and how he elevated the theme and acted as a paternal figure. 

A Charm of Finches is a book that explores the levels of inner strength humans possess when faced with adverse situations involving emotional abandonment, acts of violence and abuse of power. In the lives of these characters, their stories may differ, but their coping mechanisms share a commonality proving the tools of survival are subjective but also necessary to heal. I highly recommend! 

Venery Series:
An Exaltation of Larks (Venery, #1) by Suanne Laqueur A Charm of Finches (Venery, #2) by Suanne Laqueur

 

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Title: Forget Me Not
Author: Willow Winters
Genre: Romance
POV: First person – dual

Rating: 4 Stars

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FORGET

 

 

Robin Everly suffered a trauma when she was 12 years old. Since then, she’s tried to move forward and pursued a career in psychiatry in an effort to help others with trying situations. However, she always wondered what happened to the boy she loved and felt survivor’s guilt over the years. When Robin experiences another loss in her life, she hits an all-time low.

 

“You can help me and I can help you.”


Always watching from afar, Jay is a loner yet can’t help but to intervene when he witnesses Robin’s depressed state. From that moment, he forms a plan to reunite in order to heal Robin but also to face the truth.

 

“I would give anything to have all of you,” I admit to her with absolute truth.”


In trying to recreate the setting of their childhood trauma, Jay and Robin attempt to push through boundaries to confront their fears and emotions. With each having their own feelings, Robin needs for Jay to accept the sincerity of the love she feels for him which includes the good and the bad. For Jay, his past memories are much more complicated and longstanding which stifles his progress but also insulates his anger and distress.

 

“I feel bad for her, I really do, but it doesn’t make the anger wane. Not in the least.”


What ensues is tense and mysterious as clues begin to reveal the level of damage caused by such a painful past. As Jay and Robin try to forge ahead, it is not without more heartache and pain. Knowing they are broken, they try to mend each other in ways that seem no one else can do. Told in dual POV, the state of mind for each character underscores the intensity of their experiences. The abuse that they suffered is heartbreaking yet having each other during those times offered some moments of solace.

 

“I will always hold your hand,” I tell her.”


This is my first book by Willow Winters and I enjoyed the storyline and the need to get answers. At times, some plot points felt like they could have been more developed and this would have enriched the overall experience. For example, while I understood the intensity of the situation between Robin and Jay as children, I didn’t completely experience how those feelings translated into their teen/adult lives. Also, I was hoping for more background on Jay’s relationship with his father since this was the root of all their pain. That said, I was still intrigued and felt invested in the well-being of these characters. Having read this one, I will look forward to additional books by this author.

Forget Me Not is a story about survival and the long-term effects of tragic circumstances. Offering a journey between broken characters, their path is heartbreaking but also steeped in hope and sacrifice.

Forget Me Not series (recommended to read the prequel first)
Something to Remember Prequel to Forget Me Not by Willow Winters Forget Me Not by Willow Winters

 

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Title: Dark Dominance
Author: Annabel Joseph
Genre: Erotica/BDSM
POV: First person – Dual 

Released on September 25, 2017

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4 Stars!! 

 

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Juliet Pope is a business manager for an eccentric artist. While she is proficient in her career, personal relationships have been a challenge based on Juliet’s choices. Wearing her emotions on the surface, Juliet’s vulnerabilities are ever present and when her final Dominant/submissive relationship fails, she crashes.

“I belonged here in this colorful, comfortable place. The marble penthouse was a fantasy…and so was Fort St. Clair.”

Forsyth “Fort” St. Clair is a wealthy businessman and sadist who has been unlucky in his past relationships. Since then, he’s chosen non-emotional connections with his submissives. While out with his friends, Fort notices drunk woman outside a BDSM club in need of help and despite the warnings, he offers assistance. Feeling a mutual attraction, they bond in an honest way but Fort isn’t looking for a relationship.

“I’m into tears and power trips. I’m into capriciously hurting you because it’s unfair, and because you’ll let me do it anyway.”

Knowing Juliet is vulnerable and that his instinct says to stay away, Fort finds a way to reconnect with Jewels. Experiencing her openness actually makes Juliet more appealing as a person and a submissive, and while Fort has his doubts, he is content with his decision to contact her but is unsure if she can withstand what he needs as a Dominant. 

“I want to do all kinds of perverse, painful, lustful things to you, but it will be a pure power exchange.”

From the outset, Fort and Juliet agree to view their arrangement as strictly physical. Fort’s brand of sadism involves consensual non-consensual play and pushing the pain threshold. For Juliet, she isn’t sure about her propensity for masochism, but after their first scene, it’s clear she is a maso-slut. 

“He pinched and worked my clit, pressing fingers against the sensitive nub to the point of pain. I bucked my hips, trying to escape his rough caresses, but he only fucked me harder and faster.”

As they continue to test the waters, the goal is for Fort to bring Juliet to his exclusive BDSM club. When it’s time, the intensity and connection they share is apparent to all, but with each successive scene, Fort begins to worry about emotionally harming Juliet and protecting himself from something real. 

Told in dual POV, the plot moves at a steady pace while each character is peeling back the layers. Juliet recognizes her feelings for Fort are more than just physical and while she tries to hold back, it’s a futile effort. Considering her past, Juliet is still willing to take another chance on love. However, Fort’s nickname proves to be telling because he isn’t about to lower his defenses 

Throughout their sessions, the intensity of Fort’s sadism is palpable and there were moments when I squirmed for Juliet, but she needed to receive the pain as much as Fort needed to administer it. While not everyone may not understand that dynamic, it was right for them and the transition felt authentic. 

In Dark Dominance, vulnerabilities and chances are explored which ultimately lead to honesty and trust. For those who enjoy some sado-maso activities, I recommend! 

Dark Dominance series (standalones within a series):
Dark Control (Dark Dominance, #1) by Annabel Joseph Deep Control (Dark Dominance, #2) by Annabel Joseph Dangerous Control (Dark Dominance, #3) by Annabel Joseph

 

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Sparks by C.P. Mandara

 

Title: Sparks
Author: C.P. Mandara
Genre: Romantic Suspense/BDSM/Erotica
POV: First person

Released on August 29, 2017

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4.5 Stars!

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Lois Reeves is an operative who must prepare for her next undercover assignment. In order to do so, she needs to understand her pain threshold and learn how to be a proper submissive. Upon meeting her exasperating trainer, she didn’t expect an immediate attraction to him but Lois is determined to succeed in her assignment.

“If I was a fly trapped in a spider’s web, the guy in front of me was a fucking tarantula: venomous and deadly.”


James Leverett is a Dominant and is simply known to be the best. Contracted to train many submissives at Elite Encounters, he’s intrigued by Lois and doesn’t believe she can truly submit. That said, James is more than ready for their game of dominance and submission.

“I am going to break you. That’s the whole purpose of this exercise. From the moment the door inside that room closes, I am not going to be Mr. Nice Guy.”


As Lois’ session begins, she quickly learns that James is steadfast and ever so perceptive in pushing her pain and pleasure threshold to the max by introducing Lois to all sorts of play. Tested physically and emotionally, when Lois shows she’s able to handle James’ shockingly kinky tactics, she’s permitted to advance to phase two of her training.

“No, I can’t take any more of this, but I didn’t say a word. The current increased, and as the wand wriggled and danced on my clit, finally my world exploded.”


When additional details are slowly revealed about her mark, Lois begins to realize the danger of her predicament; however, she remains committed (and stubborn) despite James’ warnings. Emphasizing the emotional elements of submission and pain, Lois is schooled in vulnerabilities causing her to check her past and try to stay focused on what’s ahead. Knowing James may have an edge over her, it doesn’t take Lois long to see through some of his techniques.

“He ran his fingers down the side of my face and I shuddered, though it wasn’t in revulsion. I just felt helpless, and strangely enough, I was beginning to realize that this kind of thing turned me on in the worst way.”


There were so many elements that I loved about this book! Lois is the perfect heroine for me – intelligent, assertive, a bit vulnerable and sarcastic. James is so enigmatic, handsome and exacting. At times, I was grinning like a fool with the sexy banter between James and Lois with neither retreating. Their chemistry was palpable! When it came to session time, James didn’t disappoint with his easy confidence and electric sex appeal as he reigned over Lois’s body.

In Sparks, the character connection is intensely rich and the intentional mysterious elements added to plot and character intrigue. What I’ve come to learn with C.P. Mandara’s work is there is usually a twist and that morsel prompted an evil smile from me. This kinky read proved to be much more and I highly recommend to all kinksters! I look forward to the next book in this Special Agent series!

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

*This was a (F)BR with Twinsie Hawkey! *

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4 Stars! 

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Taylor Harden is a hacker/coder on the cusp of revolutionizing a new computer code to the world. Believing his system is unhackable, the inevitable occurs just days away from the reveal causing Taylor to find the hacker, protect his investors, preserve his company and reclaim his rightful place in history. When Taylor follows the clues to the hacker he doesn’t expect to be a pawn in the game of cat and mouse.

“I was the Everest of the hacker world. They wanted to get me because I was big, I was a challenge, and I was there.”

Harper Watson grew up in a small town with certain privileges associated with wealth; however, she learned early there are no guarantees. With her vision and heartfelt reasons, Harper does the unimaginable by luring Taylor within her realm of code.

“I like to know how things work. Once you know that, you can do anything.”

As Taylor slowly learns that Harper has a plan, the constant give and take that occurs sets a quick pace leaving Taylor at a disadvantage. When Harper actually reveals her terms, Taylor is shocked but is more than willing to succumb to her demands.

“I’m going to fuck you like you fucked me.” I twisted her hair in my hand and yanked her head back. “And you’re going to take it.”

During this process, Taylor slowly begins to crack Harper’s code, but while doing so, he discovers what he’s lost along the way. Offering a sense of community, Harper shows how people matter and the cost of irresponsible success.

“I’d been perforated between what I’d wanted before I met her and what I wanted after, then she ripped me in two.”

From the beginning, I admired Taylor’s work ethic and appreciated the added dimension of humanity as the plot developed. With Harper having skills that are equal to Taylor, it showed how they can work together on higher level despite the general sexism that pervades their industry. While I had issue with part of Harper’s reasons for hacking Taylor, the overall storyline surpassed my doubts.

Told from Taylor’s POV, I enjoyed getting in his head and reading about his primal urges toward Harper. Additionally, Taylor’s friendship with Keaton was endearing and interesting on many levels, as it certainly added to the suspense of the ongoing plot.

In King of Code, CD Reiss effectively shows her versatility in writing romance infused with sexual tension and the fundamental theme of social responsibility. At times, the tech world created in these pages felt so foreign but it also carried the idea that any code or language can be created and understood.

For those who enjoy a push and pull romance, I recommend King of Code!

Standalones within this series:
King of Code by C.D. ReissQueen of Rust by C.D. Reiss

*An ARC was generously provided in exchange for an honest review.*

 

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Her Master’s Redemption by Lily White

 

Title: Her Master’s Redemption (Masters #3)
Author: Lily White
Genre: Dark Romance
POV: First Person – dual

Releases on September 7, 2017

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4.5 Stars!

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Anthony Bernal is an exacting and mature Master that lost his edge due to a tragedy; but when a second chance is offered, Anthony immediately acts in an attempt to find closure. Due to the logistics, Anthony seeks refuge in a fellow Master’s home but is surprised to discover that the Society’s rules dictate how to handle this unusual situation. 

“What you would have so easily thrown away, I have acquired. Your life is no longer yours, but mine.”

While suffering at the hands of monsters, Seraphina Ashland exhibited incredible fortitude and is desperate to control her own destiny. In making certain choices, Sera’s life comes full circle when she realizes the identity of her rescuer and how she must fight yet again and confront her biggest demon.

“How much did the universe hate me to pluck me from the moment I thought it all would end, just to plant me back at the beginning?”

What ensues is series of events involving Anthony and Sera that test their own limits. For Sera, she has been tortured using unimaginable methods and while she is broken in many ways, her last bit of resolve is centered toward someone that has the ability to ultimately break her. By cracking into tiny little pieces, it also gives Sera the opportunity to rebuild but only if she can truly submit. 

“Your life is no longer yours, but mine.”

The emotional pain these characters experience is profound but when adding the psychological and physical elements, the gravity of their situation is compounded and it’s palpable. Neither has an easy situation and regaining their wholeness comes with a price.

“I’d been stripped down to the bone, every bit of my pride and self-worth peeled away until all that was left was an empty husk.”

While on the surface Anthony may seem like a Master with a big heart, he is also serious and demanding. Seeing him as calculative while also being compassionate endeared his character. When it came to his dealings with his good friend those moments tested the tenacity of both men and feeling such intense emotions ultimately propels Anthony into thinking like a Master again.

“Once I was secured, he tucked his palms beneath my ass cheeks and buried himself inside me so deep I was barely able to take him in. My chest arched up, my breasts hungry for touch, as he moved inside me like a man gone mad.”

From the beginning, Sera won my heart due to her ability to carve out a protective shell to survive. The most satisfying moment for her character growth was when she was willing to confront her fears despite knowing the depths of hell she would have to experience again.

With some twists and characters from the previous books, the plot takes the reader down a dark path of redemption where the characters become more broken than they were from the start. While it is cruel and evil at times, it is also the way the world functions for Masters and courtesans in the Society. Is it depraved? Is it wrong? Is it manipulative? Is it intriguing as it pertains to the human condition? The answer is yes to all! 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed (and painfully at times) the chosen path for Anthony and Sera. I also welcomed the inclusion of Aiden as a strong secondary character and was relieved to see he hasn’t softened in any way. 

For those who truly appreciate psychological manipulation and can survive in the most sinister of environments, I highly recommend Her Master’s Redemption!

Masters series:
Her Master's Courtesan (Masters, #1) by Lily White Her Master's Teacher (Masters, #2) by Lily White Her Master's Redemption (Masters, #3) by Lily White

*Side note:
Even though this book can technically be read as a standalone, this series should be read in order. If book one seems too dark then please start with book two. Her Master’s Redemption has spoilers for the previous books and to fully understand the depth of the plot and how it affects all characters, it’s best enjoyed in order. 

 

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Title: Weapon (Three Blades #1)
Author: DH Sidebottom
Genre: Dark romance
POV: First Person – dual

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As a young girl, Elsie Grey showed promise and was drafted to the infamous Three Blades. For ten years she was groomed and trained to be a Weapon. Now, at 28 and with her newest assignment, Elsie begins to uncover more than she could have imagined as it leads right to her past and a place where she’s kept locked away.

 

“It’s all I know. Just because something isn’t right, doesn’t mean it’s not what we need.”

Euan Sinclair has a role that allows him to see multiple perspectives. Using his position, he gets close to the intended target which complicates his job but he isn’t afraid to take a risk professionally or personally. But cracking Elsie’s defenses may prove to be the hardest task he’s experienced.

 

“His touch always softened something inside me, warmed the ice that I had constructed to help me survive. And giving in to that would prove fatal.”

Being a Weapon, Elsie learned to keep her emotions in check, knowing her family is within the organization, she mustn’t have any other distractions. However, she soon discovers layers of complex deceit that makes Elsie question those she trusts. Since that is a short list, getting answers leads to more questions.

 

“Not everyone in this world is scared by violence and lies, Elsie. The truth is often received with hostility.”

From the beginning, a tone is set establishing a camaraderie among members of Three Blades with Elsie being the most lethal. The sense of looming danger and risk is ever present but Elsie doesn’t let it bring her down as she knows how to thrive in it. Seeing humor in dark situations is one of Elsie’s defense mechanisms which adds to her appeal. 

 

“Oh, it would only take me one shot to kill you, but where’s the fun in that?”

As the pacing incrementally escalates and mirrors the plot points, the level of greed and power that’s exposed forces Elsie to confront her emotions. Knowing what must be done doesn’t make her decision any easier but Elsie isn’t about to let anyone suffer for her. 

Elsie is an interesting character. I admired her loyalty to those she deemed to be family and revered her ability to kick ass at a moment’s notice. Considering the past, her reluctance to open her heart was understandable but again Elsie proves she can overcome. To balance Elsie, Euan’s adds warmth and the possibility of an entirely new dimension for Elsie to experience. Aside from Elsie, Frank was my favorite character. 

In Weapon, DH Sidebottom successfully crafts an adrenaline charged plot steeped in greed, deceit, friendship and sacrifice. For those who like action with romance this will not disappoint.

Three Blades series:
Weapon (Three Blades #1) by D.H. Sidebottom Samurai (book two)

 

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Title: Three is a War
Author: Pam Godwin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Type: Book 3 of 3  (to be read in order)
POV: First Person

 

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4.5 Stars!

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Three is a War opens without interruption in the timeline as Danni finds herself right back at square one. Though this time, the rules have changed and only she can change the course. Danni needs to make the impossible decision. Knowing how she is ruled by her heart, trying to listen to her mind isn’t always the easy but she doesn’t want this torture to continue. Cole and Trace have made their intentions clear – they will fight for her until one man is clearly chosen.

 

“I’ll fight through the agony and do the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do. I’ll choose which part of my heart I have to let go forever.”

As this emotional dance continues, Cole shows his passion and oozes sex but he also holds on to the notion that their love is steeped in history and trueness. Danni’s pull toward Cole feels natural and her attraction is more than just physical, especially getting the answers she’s been seeking for so long. 

 

“My eyes lift, and my head follows, as if everything inside me is pulled toward his presence, as if my very soul knows its mate is near, and I need to go to him.”

Being the ever logical one, Trace may emit steely control but he is bracing for her decision and doesn’t undermine the past Danni shared with Cole. However, with four years passing and the new love he and Danni forged, he believes it’s enough of a foundation to move forward. 

 

“He’s insanely potent. Not just his delectable scent. It’s his intensity. The way he stares at me like nothing else exists.”

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Since Cole’s return, tension has been building and the knowledge that one man will ultimately be turned away is looming. While these three try to give all they can, it takes one particular incident to act as the impetus for Danni to choose. 

 

“Punish me. Wreck me. Tear down my ruins. Excavate me from my sins. Hurt me. Spank me. Set me on fire. Make be burn.”

What ensues is a roller coaster of emotions. Knowing the inevitable from the beginning of the series, it adds to the dense aura of tension and while trying to prepare for Danni’s decision, it doesn’t make it any easier. The range of feelings is for these characters is vast. One minute it seems that Cole will be the frontrunner, while in the next sequence, the pendulum swings to Trace. However, when Danni makes her choice, the dam breaks free. 

Going into book three, I expected deep feelings to emerge and it did not disappoint in eliciting raw emotion ranging from sadness [insert tears], relief, anger, jealousy and happiness. In this series, the potential for heartbreak is great, as both Cole and Trace are different but equally good men and this creates palpable tension in the plot because no matter who wins, it seems as though it will feel bittersweet. 

From the onset, I wasn’t sure what man would prevail, but had faith that Pam Godwin would make it right for the characters and storyline. With a winding journey of discovery, pain and love, Pam Godwin’s character arcs are perfectly pitched and the resolution offers poised reflection. I highly recommend Three is a War!

Tangled Lies Series (to be read in order):
One is a Promise (Tangled Lies, #1) by Pam GodwinTwo is a Lie (Tangled Lies, #2) by Pam GodwinThree is a War (Tangled Lies, #3) by Pam Godwin

 

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Title: Muscle Memory

Author: Style Fantôme

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Type:  Standalone

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4 Stars! 

 

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Suffering from amnesia due to head trauma, he awakens in a hospital without any links to his identity except for the clothes on his back and the drugs that were found in his bloodstream. Conveniently called John Doe, he slowly begins to carve out his own rebirth as Jon Doherty but starting over has a disadvantage since he can’t work without real identification. However, it’s the second chance he desperately needed.

“It will be scary, but it’s got to be better that whatever I was doing before.”

With the help of a social worker, Jon tries to acclimate to his new world. While he is aware of certain traits or abilities, Jon’s memory remains closed except for the few instances he gets a sensation or a feeling he can’t place. 

“I was fearless once, she had said. Maybe I can be fearless again.”

While Jon’s story gained local and national news, no one ever recognized him and it’s as if he lived in a bubble. Trying to move forward, Jon forges friendships but feels like he’s only experiencing a lesser or low calorie version of his previous life. Not knowing how to combat those feelings, he pushes them aside until he can no longer ignore his body’s memories.

“She’s my ghost, she haunts me. I don’t remember her, but I know her.”

One night, Jon’s axis shifts again when he recognizes her. Hauntingly familiar with her blue eyes, Delaney Carter instantly reacts to Jon and in that moment his past merges with the present. Seeking answers for so long, it becomes clear that Jon’s previous life was intense and steeped in poor choices, yet the feeling that Delaney is part of his muscle memory is undeniable.

“All he knew was her skin felt like home and that when she breathed, he was the one taking in oxygen.”

What occurs is an interesting turn of events among characters that are trying to do the right thing in the name of love. While not all their choices are perfect, it serves to highlight insecurities and what others will sacrifice. The evolution of Jon’s character really elevated him in my eyes because he acknowledged how lucky he is to have friends that truly care about his well-being. Plus, knowing how reckless he was in the past made his transition all the more enriching. 

Told in alternating chapters between the past and present, this arrangement allows for the intensity of each time and adds to the tension of what will be Jon’s future. As for Jon, I appreciated his tenacity and felt his frustration of trying to remember. Delaney certainly proved herself and her selflessness was admirable. A special shout-out to Sloany because she was an amazing character that brought levity and firmness when needed.

Muscle Memory is a story that makes one wonder about the what ifs in life, as in one moment it can all change. It is certainly an interesting plot and the turn of events felt realistic. The pacing is steady and the writing flows effortlessly between dialogue and inner monologue, which seems to be a signature within this author’s style. With the romantic notion of true love, this book also delves into friendship, sacrifice and second chance. I highly recommend!  

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Nate by Celia Aaron

 

 

Title: Nate
Author: Celia Aaron
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Type: Standalone
POV: First Person – Dual
Expected Publication: August 25, 2017

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4 Stars!

 

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At thirteen years old, Sabrina Petrov lost her family due to a mob hit. Upon being saved by Nate, he’s acted as her guardian and protected her from impending danger. Since then she’s pined for him and now that she’s 18, her attraction has turned to more adult pursuits. 

“I just feel like I’ve been a victim for most of my life. First with my father, then with his killer, then when you found me. I don’t want to feel that way anymore.”

Nate Franco has risen his way to mob boss of the Philadelphia syndicate. Known for his sense of humor, Nate has proved his ability as a ruthless leader but it appears there’s a rat in his organization. While sniffing out the problem and further solidifying his position, Sabrina proves to be a thorough distraction. 

“I’m trying to do the right thing here, can’t you see that? For once in my life, I’m trying to put someone else first. Put you first.”

As tensions rise, and even though two trusted associates surround Nate, a different mob family threatens to take what Nate deems to be his. Based on a longstanding mission of revenge, Sabrina becomes a target and while she’s been living a sheltered life for the last five years, she isn’t deterred by the danger.

“If this was the life I was choosing, then I needed to see all of it, to understand my choice on every level. Nothing could scare me away from Nate.”

In the midst of a rival gang war, Nate tries to control the feelings he harbors for Sabrina. As her former guardian, he should only view her as a family member but Sabrina is constantly reminding him of her adult status and how she wants more from Nate. Using her assets and sassy mouth, she penetrates Nate’s restraint which puts him in the position of punishing her bratty behavior. Across his knee is exactly where Sabrina wants to be and their push and pull continues until Nate asserts himself right where he should be.

“You gonna kill me one day. You and that sassy mouth. But if I die with my dick inside you, I’ll die a happy man.”

Told in dual POV, Nate’s sense of humor shines through and adds to his charm. Knowing he is a boy from the neighborhood who earned his street credentials adds a dimension to his likability. While he tries to deflect his trait of generosity, it’s apparent by his actions and it earns the respect of his friends. As Sabrina has viewed Nate as her savior for years, she views his soft spot to be endearing even though she’s aware of his darker propensities. Accepting him for what he is enhances Sabrina’s character. 

Due to the ease and efficacy of Celia Aaron’s writing style, it’s easy to get drawn into the action of this plot and I was invested in Nate’s struggle against competing factions. While I discovered who the rat was early on, it didn’t lessen my interest in how it was going to be unveiled. Plus, I enjoyed all the scenes with Nate’s friends and their camaraderie.

While I enjoyed the story, I still wanted a little more character development to show their connection and how their feelings became more amorous, especially given the 15 year age difference and the added taboo element. That said, there were some hot moments where Nate dominated in deliciously naughty ways.

Overall, Nate is an entertaining read that showcases the author’s ability to spin a suspenseful fictional world and balance an intriguing romance plot. For those enjoy action with some kinky moments, I recommend!

 

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Title: Bait

Author: Jade West

Genre: Dark Romance/Erotica

Type: Standalone

Publication Date: August 14, 2017

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4.5 Stars!

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Abigail Summers is on the run from hurtful emotions and past trauma but being caught is exactly what she craves. Not disillusioned about the danger of her longtime fantasy, Abigail creates an online profile hoping to find the person who can sate her urges and make her feel again. 

“I’m seeking my monster in the darkness. I’ll run but you’ll run faster. We’ll play cat and mouse until you catch me.”

Phoenix is recovering from a loss and dealing with the mess it left behind. While he is a loving father, socially he’s been living in solitude and realizes it’s time to move forward. Upon viewing online profiles, one person particularly appeals to his predatory needs. 

“Scared pussy always hurts so fucking bad. Scared pussy always fights. And scared pussy always tastes the best.”

As Abigail and Phoenix begin to correspond by messaging, they both experience a wave of excitement as both need to satisfy their dark desires. Despite his warnings, both in words and imagery, Abigail believes she’s finally found her monster and Phoenix is ready to give chase to the bait. 

“I head to her left and she runs to the right. Runs further into the darkness. The bait is snared. Mine.”

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What ensues is an adrenaline rush as unknown elements of the monster’s identity and when the chase will begin creates blood pumping excitement. Once the game commences, fear is present but also sexual excitement that can only be quenched from a fruitful hunt. 

“With my beast of a dick stretching her pussy to gaping and metal bars grating her deep, she comes for me as she cries out. It’s wild. It’s hard.”

Told in dual POV, the vulnerabilities and struggles experienced by Abigail and Phoenix feel weighty. With each having their own regrets, they also share the common thread of wanting to start again and shed their enormous emotional burden. As the chase continues, it starts to fuel their need for something more. When secrets and deep scars are revealed, Abigail and Phoenix learn to trust each other with feelings that have been deeply buried. 

Abigail is easily likable and her experience certainly draws empathy. Her long-time fantasy adds the dimensional element of Abigail being slightly unsteady and shows how desperate she really is to feel any sensation other than being numb. Running with the wind in her hair and fear deep in her lungs, she is adamant about getting caught by her monster. 

Phoenix brings the element of logic to the story, although his desire overrules. Knowing what he brings to the experience, physically and mentally, distinctly gives him the advantage as a predator. While Phoenix has an intense dark side, it is balanced by the love he shares for his family proving he will go to lengths for them. 

Bait is a story about loss and how two people can find solace together in the darkness. While how these characters meet is certainly unconventional, it proves to be right for them and I like how they found their unique way. As always, Jade West crafts a story about every day characters that is compelling and erotic. When reading this in the dark, be sure to look over your shoulder every now and then for the monster that may be lurking.

 

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Thousands (Dollar, #4) by Pepper Winters

Title: Thousands (Dollar, #4)

Author: Pepper Winters

Genre: Dark Romance

Type: Book 4 of 5

Releases August 15, 2017

 

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4.5 Stars!

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Thousands opens without interruption in the continuing timeline of Elder Prest and Pimlico. After losing control, Elder believes it’s safest for Pim to remain at a distance but when Pim makes the decision to do so, the situation forces Elder to acknowledge what he’s known. At this point, the plot line shifts to a more introspective examination into what drives Elder’s behavior and need for a certain structure. While revenge and protecting his family has been a priority for Elder, there is much more behind his reasons of feeling guilt and being indebted. 

“She trusted me to keep her safe. This was me honouring that trust even while she begged me to break it.”

Despite her past, Pim’s fortitude is ever present and now that her mind and body continue to heal, she is no longer content in settling for the inconsistences of Elder’s words and actions. As she pushes for more on a physical and emotional level, Elder reacts by distancing himself but seeing Pim’s courage and ability to trust is the impetus to give more of himself. 

“But now I was awake and ready to feel everything. And those scraps and stars weren’t enough anymore. I wanted planets. I wanted galaxies. I wanted his heart.”

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Upon returning to her home country, Pim must face a longstanding conflict and when she does, another layer of healing seems to elevate Pim to a healthier place. Feeling fortified to a degree, Pim is willing to do whatever it takes to prove her love for Elder. In this moment, Elder is pushed to his limits as Pim wants all of Elder and she isn’t about to relinquish her desire for the sake of playing it safe.

“Standing over her, cock hard, heart fast, mind a mess, I growled. “I’ll fuck you. I’ll fuck you until you can’t stand to be fucked anymore. And then I’ll fuck you again. And again.”

What transpires in Thousands is an interesting push-pull between Elder and Pim. For one, the sexual tension is palpable, as both characters want each other so badly that it drips from the pages. Secondly, there are layers of long-standing emotions that reveal much more about Elder and Pim individually and as a couple. As Pim’s healing continues on multiple levels, Pim proves that she is a worthy partner to Elder, and at times, takes the lead while embracing her fears. Elder’s conflicts remain difficult to assess but when Pim pierces through his final layer of armor, he unleashes a physical and emotional side that incredibly rewarding and panty melting. 

Told in dual POV, getting in the mind of Elder and Pim is vital to understanding their motivations. There are times when Elder’s resistance is infuriating yet knowing his rationale adds to his appeal and reinforces his need to protect. While both characters made progressive strides, Pim embraced her new role with tenacity to show just how much of a survivor she actually is. Not knowing when Elder’s past will be put to rest, he and Pim are prepared to fight for what they have despite the consequence. 

In this series, Pepper Winters successfully creates a vivid world with a complex plot and multi-dimensional characters. With themes of redemption, healing, trust and love, Thousands offers a story where vulnerabilities become strengths. I highly recommend Thousands, and with one book remaining in the series, I look forward to reading just how it all ends!

 

Dollar series:
Pennies (Dollar, #1) by Pepper Winters Dollars (Dollar, #2) by Pepper Winters Hundreds (Dollar, #3) by Pepper Winters Thousands (Dollar, #4) by Pepper Winters Millions (Dollar, #5) by Pepper Winters

 

*An ARC was generously provided in exchange for an honest review.*

 

 

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Title: Reception (The Kane Trilogy #4)

Author: Stylo Fantome

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Erotica

Type: Book 4 of the Kane Trilogy

 

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4 Stars! 

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In this novelette, we are given a glimpse into the married world of Jameson Kane and Tatum O’Shea-Kane. As Jameson becomes a bit jealous about male attention Tate receives, he decides to assert his dominance by throwing a back yard barbecue for his work associates. Yes, Mr. Antisocial is having a party! During the event, Tate is on her best behavior but Jameson has a different idea about the whole situation.

“You want to know what I love?” “What?” “When you shut the fuck up.”

What transpires is true Jameson and Tate with their combustible sexual chemistry and opposite personalities that compliment their needs in every way. Getting some of Jameson’s alpha-ness is a welcome treat and he certainly hasn’t lost his touch. Of course, Tate is her old self pushing all Jameson’s buttons until he unleashes his wrath. 

While Reception is a brief story, it is enjoyable being reunited with such memorable characters and experience Jameson’s brand of fun. 

Sanders Excerpt- 5 Stars!

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Sanders Dashkevich has been a fixture in Jameson’s home since he was a teen. As legal guardian, Jameson provided an education, a home and sense of belonging to Sanders. Now that Sanders is 21 years old and fulfilled his educational requirements, he is ready to move out on his own, but the impetus for his decision is unexpected.

“I’m sorry,” Jameson whispered, his arms tights around Sanders. “I should’ve … I should’ve been more careful.”

Adhering to his sense of honesty and morality, Sanders doesn’t see any other options to resolve his dilemma but it doesn’t make it any easier to leave. In anticipation of his departure, Jameson and Tate present Sanders with a gift that puts him in an unlikely position. 

As much as I want to share what occurs in this Sanders excerpt, I will exercise self-restraint. However, I will say that it makes perfect sense for Sander’s character arc and I’m not surprised by it at all – and I mean that in a good way. Sanders is a rich character that offers a wide range of mystery, so while Stylo Fantome admittedly hasn’t been able to sync with his character to write a full length novel, reading this passage is satisfying but still makes you wonder what Sanders has to offer. 

For those who are fans of The Kane Series, I recommend! 

The Kane Series:
Degradation (The Kane Trilogy, #1) by Stylo FantomeSeparation (The Kane Trilogy, #2) by Stylo FantomeReparation (The Kane Trilogy, #3) by Stylo FantomeCompletion (The Kane Trilogy, #3.5) by Stylo Fantome Reception (The Kane Series Book 5) by Stylo Fantome

 

 

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Title: Seduced in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #2) 

Author: CJ Roberts

Genre: Dark Erotica/Suspense

Type: Book 2 of a Series

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5 Stars!! 

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In Seduced in the Dark, the story continues without interruption and with an interesting shift in how the timeline is presented. As Livvie Ruiz tells her story in the present tense, she is distraught over the precarious circumstances separating her from Caleb. Not be able to get a firm grasp on the current situation is tense, especially when the alternating perspective shifts back to the past. This unsettling tone enhances the level of danger and fear at what is to come.

“He’d done this to me. He’d made me afraid. He’d made me need him. And if he thought he was suddenly going to abandon me and clear what was left of his shriveled conscience, he was sadly mistaken.”

Caleb is left with limited choices, as he has the option to proceed with the plan of revenge or take a different course of action that also has serious repercussions. Feeling a tremendous sense of loyalty to the person that gave Caleb a second chance is overwhelming, yet for the first time, Caleb is beginning to feel other emotions he’s trying to process. Knowing the level of manipulation Caleb employs to influence Livvie’s behavior is enough to make him second guess the authenticity of what she feels, however, it doesn’t change his feelings. 

“I’ve been going like this a long time – manipulating people to get my way. That’s why you think you love me. Because I’ve broken you down and built you back up to believe it.”

In the short time Livvie was in Caleb’s possession, her goal had always been to survive and escape. With the way she and Caleb met, it seemed to strengthen Livvie’s hope at times but it also put her at a disadvantage. As they continue on this path, true feelings become clear and while trying to battle his demons, Caleb punishes himself yet stakes his claim in a way that is foretelling.

“Does it feel good, Pet?” he asked in a voice dripping with arrogance. I didn’t care. I nodded fervently and looked for his mouth. He let his lips dance just above mine, all the while keeping his rhythm against my clit. “I want to hear you say it. Tell me if feels good. Tell me how much you want me to make that little pussy of yours come.”

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With betrayal, action and kinkery, Caleb’s hand is forced and his reaction sets in motion a series of events that cannot be reversed. Trying to keep his promise to Livvie has always been paramount, and in doing so, the inevitable must occur in order to move forward. 

“Be smart. Fight the battles you can win and accept the ones you can’t. That’s how you survive.”

To say I devoured this book would be an understatement. The multiple levels of dimension in the character development and plot kept me riveted. Livvie’s determination and vulnerability made her such an intriguing character. The dichotomy between naïve Livvie and captive Livvie was a constant reminder of Caleb’s duality of kindness and violence. That ever-present contrast creates incredible chemistry between these two characters. I admired Livvie’s tenacity while with Caleb and when apart. 

In addition, the focus on Caleb and his past is absolutely fascinating. As the darkest parts of the human condition are revealed, the need for revenge is compounded. Caleb’s decisions weren’t always the right ones but he adhered to a code for a reason. Ultimately, the progression for these characters involved pain, redemption and strength and I loved the ending. 

This series delves into dark subject matter in a complex way that shows how people can process the worst of situations but still have the ability to heal and love. I highly recommend this duet! 

The Dark Duet Series:
Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #1) by C.J. RobertsSeduced in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #2) by C.J. RobertsEpilogue (The Dark Duet, #3) by C.J. RobertsDetermined to Obey (The Dark Duet, #3.5) by C.J. Roberts

 

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Title: The Brightest Sunset (The Darkest Sunrise #2)

Author: Aly Martinez

Genre: Romance Suspense

Type: Duet/Book 2 of 2

 

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4 Stars! 

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In The Brightest Sunset the timeline continues without interruption as the circumstances between Charlotte and Porter become further complicated due to new information about Charlotte’s missing son. Instead of moving forward as planned, Charlotte must come to terms with the past and how it intersects with her recent choices. For Porter, he cannot believe how much worse the situation has become but he is committed to his family and letting the facts reveal the truth.

 

I don’t want to be a part of his life. I want to be there every fucking day.”

From the outset, the tension is high and the conflict is a constant reminder of how these characters have been pulled apart for years, yet coming together for the one common factor of love for a little boy is still tearing everyone apart. Being pushed in a certain direction, Charlotte tries to find her voice and slowly overcomes her guilt as she takes a stand for herself and for the love of her son. While Porter is the target of the majority’s derision, he remains determined to fight and will do anything in his power to protect what is his.

 

“Everything’s going to change, Charlotte. And I swear to you, no matter what happens, we’re going to do that together, okay?”

In starting this conclusion, I was expecting a good amount of angst, conflict, discovery and growth between the characters. While those elements did exist and there were certainly moments when I wanted to strangle two characters, I still wanted a little more from Charlotte and Brady. Though these two never had a true foundation, for years Brady blamed Charlotte for what happened, and while I understand his emotion, it was time for Brady to confront the present and really embrace the second chance he was given. Therefore, I was hoping Brady would have redeemed himself in a more meaningful way.

In focusing the progress between Charlotte and Porter, it seemed to me that Porter was really the impetus for communication and forging ahead to the next level. Without such a strong character as Porter, Charlotte’s growth would have been quite different. With his love, respect and decency, Porter proved to be an anchor in this plot and it was abundantly clear that he would place his children above his needs at any given moment, but with the possibility of having it all, he wasn’t about to surrender.

The relationship between Porter and Travis was a truly heartwarming. Additionally, Travis and Hannah proved to be have such an adorable sibling dynamic that it really showed the importance of their connection to the adult characters in this plot. 

Overall, while I did want a bit more from certain characters and felt parts were a little too perfect toward the end, the author’s writing kept me engaged and I was completely invested in the storyline. 

For those who are looking for a romance with an emotional side and also some suspense, I recommend The Brightest Sunset!

The Darkest Sunrise Series:
The Darkest Sunrise (The Darkest Sunrise, #1) by Aly MartinezThe Brightest Sunset (The Darkest Sunrise, #2) by Aly Martinez

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CC’s Review ~ The Darkest Sunrise (The Darkest Sunrise, #1) by Aly Martinez

 

Title: The Darkest Sunrise

Author: Aly Martinez

Genre: Romance Suspense

Type: Book 1 of 2

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4 Stars!!

 

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Charlotte Mills is a revered pulmonologist but her personal life is a black hole due to circumstances outside her control. For the past ten years, Charlotte has operated on autopilot choosing to remain numb as a means to cope. Wondering if it’s time to finally take a baby step forward, she meets man that seems to like her quirks and ignites an emotion that she hasn’t felt in a long time.

“Mine. It was my fault. Always and forever.”

Porter Reese is a restaurateur and widower dedicated to raising his two children. Though taking tremendous joy from this role, Porter isn’t a stranger to heartache each and every day but he strives to persevere for his family. While attempting to volunteer at a charity event, Porter finds himself burning burgers until he talks to a woman that shares in a deep pain.

“Holy shit. There it was, blazing in her eyes. The emptiness. My emptiness.”

Tired of the emptiness, Porter is ready to move on or at least have some company in the dark. As Porter and Charlotte try to navigate within each other’s pain, they establish rules that create a protective barrier around them in order to bring some light into their lives. With Porter’s commitment to his children and Charlotte’s limitations, each moment they share is precious and based on trust between two damaged individuals.

“I felt every single consonant and vowel of her plea deep inside my soul. She didn’t need to beg. Not now. Not ever. If she wanted anything, I was going to give it to her.”

Willingly and selflessly, Porter shows all of his heart and deepest pain to Charlotte in an effort to propel their relationship to the next level. Finally reaching a place where they are ready to be open, certain circumstances surface that cause many questions that further complicate the lives of two people that have already endured so much.

“But, when your entire world was pitch-black, even the tiniest flicker looked like a lighthouse.”

Told in dual POV, the shifting character perspectives allows for multilayered introspection into their pain, fears and need to feel the intimacy of love again. Charlotte’s experience is heart breaking, as the constant guilt and question of “what if” pervades her senses. The need to insulate herself is devastating but completely understandable. Porter definitely has his own painful experience where he lost himself in addition to feeling betrayed. Porter is an absolute dream in his ability to communicate in quiet yet impactful ways that speak volumes.

From the first page, deep sentiment is present, but in addition to loss, there is an enormous amount of sacrifice, hope, healing and love. As the plot moves at a steady pace, it allows for time to pause and reflect in the bond these characters share. While there are moments where the gravity of the situation is immense, I couldn’t help but root for Porter and Charlotte as a couple and as a family.

For those who are looking for a romance with an emotional side and also some suspense, I highly recommend The Darkest Sunrise!

The Darkest Sunrise Series:
The Darkest Sunrise (The Darkest Sunrise, #1) by Aly MartinezThe Brightest Sunset (The Darkest Sunrise, #2) by Aly Martinez

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CC’s Review ~ Captive in the Dark by CJ Roberts

 

Title: Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet #1)

Author: CJ Roberts

Genre: Dark Erotica/Thriller

Type: Dual POV

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5 Stars!!

 

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At 18 years old, Olivia “Livvie” Ruiz is a student trying to balance her mother’s irrational demands with her own interests until one day a handsome stranger appears in her life. However, not all is what it seems and Livvie’s world instantly changes. Finding herself captive, Livvie tries to assess her captor’s motivations in an effort to survive but she is trying to play a game where the rules are unknown and she seems to be the pawn. 

“She was neither willing, nor coerced, nor sent to him. She was pure conquest.”

Caleb is an intense man with a singular focus. It’s been twelve years in the making and it’s time to show his loyalty in order to obtain his goal. The level of his manipulation shows the honed skill of a predator and he will use any tactic necessary to get his captive to submit and break. 

“I promise you, if you do what I say, you will always come out better than you think.”

The circumstances in which Livvie and Caleb meet adds an unusual twist to their dynamic. For Livvie, it seems to breed some sort of misguided familiarity, and for Caleb, it presents a new set of challenges. From the beginning, Livvie tries to read every signal from Caleb and she is fairly sure about his inconsistencies but she doesn’t allow it to change her focus. Ultimately, when the truth is revealed, it brings their relationship to a pronounced feeling of tension and betrayal.
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“Each day I was more vulnerable than the last. Each day he stripped away more of my sense of self. And now he’d taken the last of it, the last of me.”

What occurs is multi-layered, darkly manipulative and peers into how these two characters are left to rely on base survival methods. Of course, they employ the opposite set of skills, but as they react to each other, it leads to complicated emotions. While there is hope for one type of plot shift, simultaneously, it also makes you cringe for wanting it another way. However, there is no denying the chemistry Livvie and Caleb share as their banter is amusing, tense and sexually charged. When Livvie pushes back in certain ways, it leads to incredibly erotic moments. 

“I came several more times while he fucked me, each time, it reduced me more and more into someone I recognized less and less. Finally, he squeezed and pulled at my ass. “You feel so good. I love your tight little ass.”

Interestingly, this narrative is effectively written in dual POV with the use of first and third person in alternating chapters. Such technique underscores the experience felt by each character and allows for tension to build. Additionally, it adds tremendous dimension to Livvie and Caleb. Experiencing Livvie’s fears come true elicits deep empathy and rooting for her is elemental. Conversely, Caleb’s methods are monstrous causing varying reactions, and at times when a degree of kindness is shown, it eerily begets the question of whether Caleb is truly capable of being selfless. For me, both characters are incredibly intriguing individually but together they are like dynamite.

Captive in the Dark has been on my TBR for a long time but the subject matter caused me to postpone reading based on my own doubts. However, I am now thinking why in the world did I wait!? From the first page, I was captivated and practically read in one sitting. CJ Roberts successfully creates a world where the reader feels fully immersed in the heart thumping darkness of the plot and the twisty plight of her characters. I’m definitely hooked!

For those who like to dwell in the darkness where characters challenge the morality of the human condition, I highly recommend Captive in the Dark.

 

Dark Duet Series:
Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #1) by C.J. RobertsSeduced in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #2) by C.J. RobertsEpilogue (The Dark Duet, #3) by C.J. RobertsDetermined to Obey (The Dark Duet, #3.5) by C.J. Roberts

 

 

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 CC’s ARC Review ~ DEVIL by Ker Dukey

Title: DEVIL

Author: Ker Dukey

Genre: Dark Suspense

POV: First person

Type: Standalone

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Purchase Links

 Amazon US  Amazon UK  Amazon CA  Amazon AU

 

 

4.5 Stars! 

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Evi Devil suffered abuse and a life-altering experience when she was a only 9 years old. Since then, Evi adapted as best as she could despite her memories but as she turns 21, an event triggers her need to get answers and finally reconcile what she’s felt for all these years. Returning to the place of origin, Evi’s quest painfully begins.

“I don’t feel like a complete person. I’m particles of a whole but the whole is fragmented and floating like dust particles caught in the stream of light, visible only when it shines through a crack in the window.”

As Evi becomes reacquainted with Max, a friend from the past, she feels a deep connection with him but her mind won’t budge as to the closeness they share. Sensing Evi is in a precarious situation, Max is sensitive to her emotions and tries to help her in every way he knows how.

“He was a good thing in my life before; I can feel it deep in my soul.”

In addition to their friendship, Evi is incredibly attracted to Max which she doesn’t try to hide from him. While Max doesn’t want to push Evi in the wrong direction, he isn’t afraid to give Evi exactly what she wants. With Max’s honed to perfection body and need to envelop Evi, their sexual chemistry is palpable and leads to unadulterated hot scenes.

“His palms move down to my ass cheeks, squeezing and guiding me up and over him, skin slapping skin and the wet juices slurping as he plunges so deep inside me he may never be able to leave.”

Told from Evi’s perspective, Devil sets an insidious tone from the first page. Getting inside Evi’s mind is a perilous investment due to the feeling of uncertainty and there isn’t any other option but to empathize with her memories and emotions. Creating a character like Evi is complex because while she has vulnerabilities and self-doubt, she is also a survivor in need of a re-boot. With the addition of Max, his measured and easy personality compliments Evi by giving her the space and comfort she so desperately needs. 

With the character highs and lows, I felt every moment whether it was despair, lust, anger or affection. In trying to decipher clues, the suspenseful plot arrangement and steady pace intensifies the need for answers within a richly layered narrative. Evi’s plight isn’t easy yet I was with her the entire way. Additionally, Max’s tenderness is absolutely endearing and panty melting.

In Devil, Ker Dukey successfully brings the reader into the unsteady mind of a character that is struggling to find normalcy. It’s a story that is atmospherically tragic yet offers hope and a chance to find contentment in a uniquely moving way. For those who enjoy twisty suspense, Devil offers a powerful dose of sentiment and thrill. I highly recommend! 

 

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CC’s Review ~ The Mermaid Murders (The Art of Murder #1) by Josh Lanyon

 

Title: The Mermaid Murders (The Art of Murder #1)
Author: Josh Lanyon
Genre:  M/M Romance/Mystery
Rating: 4 Stars!

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Special Agent Jason West is assigned to the Art Crime Team where he’s earned success but recently suffered a drawback during a bust. Since being cleared for duty, West is assigned to a high profile missing persons/copycat killing case based on his availability and the regional’s need to have another agent’s casework discredited. But Jason isn’t about to be a pawn and while having his own challenges to contend with.

“But should one case, one mistake, define a man’s career- especially an agent with Kennedy’s impressive record?”

Special Agent Sam Kennedy is a seasoned and revered criminal profiler in the Behavioral Analysis Unit but he’s known to be aloof. Years ago, Kennedy solved a high profile case involving a series of murders in a small town. But now a woman is reported missing and the M.O. looks disturbingly similar to the convicted Huntsman. As the original agent in charge, Kennedy returns to assist local law enforcement but is also assigned a partner to his dismay.

“You’re curious, imaginative, and have a flair for the dramatic. You like to talk, you’re a born smartass, and you get bored following a script.” 
“The hell, objected Jason.”

As Kennedy and West begin their investigation, it is clear that Kennedy would prefer to work alone but he takes it in stride to soon discover that West’s art history knowledge and experience offers a complimentary dynamic to the team. After interviewing residents and pouring over old case notes, clues start to reveal possible suspects.

“There we go,” said Jason with bitter triumph. “That’s the part of our case you didn’t feel like sharing earlier.”

While West is open about his sexual orientation, Kennedy remains an enigma until one night Kennedy makes his preferences known. Being opposites, there is already palpable tension but after they find a working balance, it opens the door to sexual chemistry and Kennedy shares just how appealing he finds West.

“Kennedy’s thrusts picked up speed again; his hips lunged smacking Jason’s butt, and Jason moved to accommodate. Kennedy’s fingers traced his lips, and Jason tasted himself. It was shocking and erotic, more so when Kennedy whispered, “Suck.”

With West digging further and following a hunch, his inquiries raise a red flag to local law enforcement and draws upon past conflicts but he isn’t about to back down. Though Kennedy supports his partner’s zest, he also wants him to be careful considering what’s at stake. As they close in, it’s becomes apparent who the killer is.

For some time, I’ve been curious about Josh Lanyon’s books and was intrigued to see this series offers a combination of murder mystery and art history. Told in third person POV, the narrative mostly feels like a detective story with special detail given to their surroundings that sets the scene in the mind’s eye. The romance is present but in my opinion felt a bit secondary to the plot but by no means was insignificant. For me, I would have liked a little more buildup between Kennedy and West, but I like how these two interacted and it fit their characters perfectly.

As for the mystery, I had my suspicions from the beginning but the way the clues revealed some twists, it kept my attention until the end. Additionally, the conflict of West being connected to the small town added more interest. I am looking forward to continuing this series to see what transpires between Kennedy and West.

For those who enjoy a murder mystery with a side of M/M romance, I recommend The Mermaid Murders.

 

The Art of Murder series: (best read in order)
The Mermaid Murders (The Art of Murder, #1) by Josh LanyonThe Monet Murders (The Art of Murder, #2) by Josh LanyonThe Magician Murders (The Art of Murder, #3) by Josh Lanyon

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Pretty New Dolls by Ker Dukey & K Webster

 

Title: Pretty New Doll (Pretty Little Dolls #3)
Author: Ker Dukey & K Webster
Genre:  Dark Erotica/Suspense
Rating: 5 Stars!!!

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Three years have passed since Benny was left to die and since then his craving for a precious dolly has not waned. Learning to live within new perimeters has brought changes to Benny’s life, including the addition of an ally that helps to feed his appetite but all the offerings don’t lessen his obsession to reclaim his pretty little doll. Watching from a distance, his insides boil at what he sees but it all changes when he encounters the one image he’s been seeking for so long.

“Run, run, run, Doll, right into my waiting arms.”

Now that Benny’s attention is focused on his prized pretty new doll, he will not be deterred and takes the necessary steps to prepare for the inevitable. As he makes contact with his doll, he cannot believe the priceless gift that is about to be willingly bestowed and the reality of his dream propels him to execute his plan.

“I want to grab her by her tiny jaw and jerk her to my mouth. I want to inhale her, suck he, lick her, and fuck her.”

With Benny getting closer and closer and knowing what’s at stake, Benny will not be at anyone’s mercy. Make no mistake, Benny’s reincarnation hasn’t lessened his intensity, darkness or ability to manipulate to any degree necessary. Once it all begins to escalate, moving forward is the only option and Benny is thoroughly ready to assert his dominance.

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“You’re not losing anything,” I growl, urging another finger into her tight body. “I’m taking it from you. It belongs to me.”

Adhering to the ominous tone of this series, Pretty New Dollmaintains the suspense and chilling undertone of the depravity that permeates these characters. Staying true to Benny’s essence, his inner turmoil is compounded by past events but to also see him also as a seducer is downright panty melting. The level of character dimension is incredible, as I felt each emotion whether it was Benny’s hatred, anger, loneliness or vulnerability.

Supporting the plot are recurring characters such as Dillon and Jade that add to the tension as they provide an anchor of morality and reality to Benny’s demented fantasy world. However, there are times when it seems the dark side may be in control with the addition of Tanner and associates. With the introduction of these characters, a new dynamic emerges that reveals more about Benny that is complex and addicting. Without a doubt, I am dying to see what transpires and whether there will be a need for a shiny red bow tie.

To say I enjoyed this book would be an understatement because I loved it! For those who enjoy dark and twisty suspense, I highly recommend Pretty New Doll! 

Pretty Little Dolls series:
Pretty Stolen Dolls (Pretty Little Dolls, #1) by Ker DukeyPretty Lost Dolls (Pretty Little Dolls, #2) by Ker DukeyPretty New Doll (Pretty Little Dolls, #3) by Ker Dukey

 

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CC’s Review ~ His Master by Bink Cummings

 

Title: His Master
Author: Bink Cummings
Genre: M/M Romance
Rating: 3.5 Stars!

 

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Corey Kellan is a respected judge and married man with teen kids but lives a closeted life. In trying to balance his true self, he is a Master at the House of Red where male submissives are at their beckon call. After years of being at conflict with his hidden side, Kellan starts to develop feelings for a much younger submissive and it forces him to make important decisions.

“He’s my addiction. And with that … my apparent destruction.”

At 28 years old, Michael is a kind and timid submissive who suffered a lonely and abusive past. Settled in his chosen role at House of Red, Michael feels at home in his surroundings but always looks forward to his time with Master Kellan. Always adhering to the commune’s rules, Michael is shocked when Master Kellan breaks the rules by pushing him to discuss how they feel about each other.

“Never in my life have I felt this exposed – vulnerable. Never have I cared what anyone truly thought of me. Of what I could offer them, aside from a wet hole.”

Knowing the risks, Kellan isn’t about to retract his feelings but when the realization hits about their plans, Michael faces substantial consequences that compounds Kellan’s protectiveness and need to provide a home for Michael. As they begin their new life together, each have their own inner conflicts to overcome. For Michael, he’s been conditioned by manipulation and subjugation for most of his life so learning healthy boundaries is a challenge. With Kellan, he’s always hidden his sexuality but the love he feels for Michael gives him the courage to be more open while he still needs to taper his possessive feelings.

“Stick a fork in me; I’m a goner. Owned. Possessed. Head over fucking heels.” Jesus. This is some new shit.”

With Kellan and Michael trying to find their own way, the constant in their relationship is the master/submissive dynamic, as both need to maintain their roles in order to remain true. Kellan feels privileged to receive Michael’s gift of submission and he needs Kellan’s dominance which leads to some kinky moments that steam the pages.

“Gathering a generous dollop of frosting, I smear it over his hole, down his taint, and across the underside of his low hanging balls. I lick my lips. It’s time for dessert.”

For some time, I’ve been wanting to try this author and I’m glad I did but it left me wanting much more. His Master offers a chance to delve into some difficult themes considering Kellan’s circumstances of being secretly gay and married. In waiting for conflict, it turned out to be mild despite what was anticipated. As for Michael, his character also had tremendous opportunity to show his transition from a foster home kid to commune submissive to being in a family of his own. While these two had some ups and downs, the pulse of the plot remained steady without many spikes. That said, I would still consider reading other books by the author, as her writing style is engaging and endearing.

His Master offers an unconventional M/M romance that is about acceptance and taking a chance on love. With light elements of BDSM, this book would appeal to those with an open mind who like a romance without much drama but with some spicy components.

 

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Exploited by A. Meredith Walters

 

Title: Exploited (Zero Day #1)
Author: A. Meredith Walters
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Rating: 4 Stars!

Expected Publication: July 25, 2017

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Fueled by her need to avenge her family and to protect others, Hannah Whelan is an IT specialist by day and a hacktivist by night. With her revered cyber reputation as Freedom Overdrive, Hannah must ensure her identity remains anonymous, so when another hacker warns her about the FBI cracking her case, she decides to do her own reconnaissance.

“The angel on my shoulder was officially silenced. I hated the preachy bitch anyway.”

Mason Kohler is an esteemed FBI agent in the computer crimes unit who recently relocated to a new office. After unintentionally creating some discord among his peers, he’s assigned the impossible case file of Freedom Overdrive. In addition to his career being on the line, Mason has his own recent loss he’s trying to reconcile, so focusing on work offers some reprieve until he meets an awkward but kind stranger.

“Sometimes it just takes a little patience to get to the heart of a person.”

For Hannah, playing the alluring type is a bit out of her wheelhouse but being with Mason is much easier than she ever imagined. Guarding any clues about her alter ego, Hannah continues to play a certain role in order to gain access to Mason’s files but she soon realizes that being herself has never been easier. As for Mason, Hannah turns out to have the right combination of shyness and coyness while he discovers they have much more in common than he could have expected.

“She gave me jus enough to draw me in. And at this point I’d have gladly jumped off a cliff to find what she was hiding at the bottom.”

Knowing what is at stake emotionally, Hannah’s sense of self-preservation is great but her heart is starting to ache knowing how she feels about Mason. Despite Mason’s innate sense and FBI training to question everything, he doesn’t second guess Hannah until he can no longer ignore facts that are presented to him. Once Hannah’s motives become clear, Mason knows what he must do.

“This wasn’t all an act, was it, Hannah?”

For some time, I’ve been wanting to try this author’s work and Exploited seemed like it would be a happy medium with its focus on romance suspense. Told in dual POV, getting the voice of Mason and Hannah adds dimension and also tension because Hannah’s plan is known from the beginning and I didn’t want to see Mason get hurt. While Mason should have questioned things a little sooner, I can understand why he chose otherwise.

Likewise, I empathized with Hannah’s conflict until she starts to make some rookie mistakes. As for the buildup and theories about Toxic Wrath’s identity, I have a couple of theories and hope the obvious one is a distraction and there’s actually a twisty reveal in the conclusion.

I would recommend Exploited to those who enjoy romantic suspense with characters that have vulnerabilities and conflicts that need to be resolved.

 

Zero Day series:
Exploited (Zero Day, #1) by A. Meredith WaltersAftermath (Zero Day #2) by A. Meredith Walters

 

*A copy was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

 

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ARC/CC’s Review ~ Two is a Lie (Tangled Lies #2) by Pam Godwin

 

Title: Two is a Lie (Tangled Lies #2)
Author: Pam Godwin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 Stars!

 

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Two is a Lie opens without interruption in the timeline to a scenario that is thoroughly complex and full of emotion. With Cole’s return after four years have passed, Danni tries to reconcile the truth to accept how Cole is alive and to understand how Trace is connected to them both. For Danni, getting answers isn’t easy and finding a solution is even harder as both men are determined to fight for their chance, which leaves Danni in the position of making choice between Cole and Trace.

“They both love me. We’re not broken. We’re just … stuck.”

Finding such a choice impossible, Danni decides to start over in hopes of establishing a connection with one more than the other. Cole is unrestrained, passionate and at times a hot head, while Trace is the master of self-restraint, dominance and is intoxicating. Basically, these men are opposites in personality and looks which leaves Danni in a quandary because she loves each for what they offer. At first, this arrangement seems to work but then as emotions escalate, what ensues is angst ridden to the ninth degree.

“I’m terrified one day that I’m going to watch you walk away with the one who stole my dance.”

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Once lines are crossed, the level of betrayal is evident and Danni must accept how these actions affect her future. As Danni reacts to the strong determination imposed, it’s clear how things must proceed during this time. However, no one foresees what happens next as there are elements of suspense weaved into this plot that further add to the tension of the unknown.

“But I saw the guilt in your eyes the moment you looked at me.”

As told from Danni’s POV, her perspective underscores just how difficult it is for her to make choice but it’s also evident just how much Trace and Cole are enduring during this process. The layers of feelings and character dimension is immense and there is always the looming finality of which one is going to win Danni’s heart. Of course, no one is perfect but when certain things happen, it feels like a double-edged sword offering pain and pleasure that left me aching for one and hurting for the other.

Typically, I avoid love triangles like the plague because of the angst and wavering feelings that occur during the process, but when I saw Pam Godwin would be crafting this series, I was committed and I am enjoying it all! That being said, there are definitely times when I wanted to exert physical influence over one of the characters and yelled at my Kindle! (lol!)

Two is a Lie offers a very different tone from the first book, One is a Promise, in that the tension level is rising to match the uncertainty surrounding this fragile predicament. For those who thrive on angst and a shitload of feels, I highly recommend Two is a Lie!

Tangled Lies series:
One is a Promise (Tangled Lies, #1) by Pam GodwinTwo is a Lie (Tangled Lies, #2) by Pam GodwinThree is a War (Tangled Lies, #3) by Pam Godwin

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CC’s Review  ~ The Red by Tiffany Reisz

5 STARS!!

 

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Mona Lisa St. James is the proprietress of the Red Gallery. Having inherited the love of art and the gallery from her late mother, Mona is desperately trying to keep the business financially afloat. Overwhelmed and having exhausted her options, Mona decides to close the gallery until a gentleman propositions Mona with an opportunity of a lifetime.

“With Malcolm she felt pleasure and lust, but also pain and fear, love and hate. It was the most potent of alchemies.”

Mysteriously appearing at the Red, Malcolm is a tall, dark and handsome Englishman who knows exactly what he wants. Sympathetic to Mona’s financial situation, Malcolm offers Mona the chance to keep her gallery afloat in exchange for agreeing to submit to him for one full year.

“If I must sell my soul to the devil to do it, I will find a way back into Mona’s bed.”

What ensues is a series of meetings where Malcolm orchestrates fantasies inspired by various works of art. In exchange for Mona’s submission to anything Malcolm desires, she receives pleasure, pain and more than she could have imagined. As each of their assignations offers different themes that weave art, beauty and wonder into erotic tableaus, the connection between Mona and Malcolm deepens. With Mona’s attraction to Malcolm, she begins to feel and see what he wants her to experience and it is sensual, arousing, stimulating and hot. Malcolm is unabashedly open about his limitless sexual appetite and desires.

“Obscene, being used like this, but she accepted it, relished it, loved it. She loved it. Shamelessly, blissfully, and utterly loved it.”

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Over a year passes with Mona and Malcolm being true to their promises but when their fantasies alter reality, Mona must reassess the value and ultimate closure of her arrangement with Malcolm. Up until that point, Mona doesn’t want it to end, but with Malcolm, Mona knows that Malcolm’s reach knows no bounds.

“Do anything you must, but keep me forever.”

To say this book is erotic and steamy is an understatement, as Tiffany Reisz admirably translates the timeless beauty of art and weaves these compositions into real feelings and sensations. The Red is true erotica at its best with explicitly delicious scenes but also offering an intelligent and cohesive plot with intriguing characters. Mona’s confident sexuality, loyalty to a vision and willingness to take a risk made her a standout character. With Malcolm, the allure and mystery surrounding him was contagious and who can resist a gentleman on the outside but a beast in every other way.

As always, Tiffany’s writing is flawless as she transports the reader into wonderfully erotic and passionate fantasies. For those who wish to escape to a kinky world without limits, I highly recommend The Red!

 

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Exploited by A. Meredith Walters

 

Title: Exploited (Zero Day #1)
Author: A. Meredith Walters
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Rating: 4 Stars!

Expected Publication: July 25, 2017

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Fueled by her need to avenge her family and to protect others, Hannah Whelan is an IT specialist by day and a hacktivist by night. With her revered cyber reputation as Freedom Overdrive, Hannah must ensure her identity remains anonymous, so when another hacker warns her about the FBI cracking her case, she decides to do her own reconnaissance.

“The angel on my shoulder was officially silenced. I hated the preachy bitch anyway.”


Mason Kohler is an esteemed FBI agent in the computer crimes unit who recently relocated to a new office. After unintentionally creating some discord among his peers, he’s assigned the impossible case file of Freedom Overdrive. In addition to his career being on the line, Mason has his own recent loss he’s trying to reconcile, so focusing on work offers some reprieve until he meets an awkward but kind stranger.

“Sometimes it just takes a little patience to get to the heart of a person.”


For Hannah, playing the alluring type is a bit out of her wheelhouse but being with Mason is much easier than she ever imagined. Guarding any clues about her alter ego, Hannah continues to play a certain role in order to gain access to Mason’s files but she soon realizes that being herself has never been easier. As for Mason, Hannah turns out to have the right combination of shyness and coyness while he discovers they have much more in common than he could have expected.

“She gave me jus enough to draw me in. And at this point I’d have gladly jumped off a cliff to find what she was hiding at the bottom.”


Knowing what is at stake emotionally, Hannah’s sense of self-preservation is great but her heart is starting to ache knowing how she feels about Mason. Despite Mason’s innate sense and FBI training to question everything, he doesn’t second guess Hannah until he can no longer ignore facts that are presented to him. Once Hannah’s motives become clear, Mason knows what he must do.

“This wasn’t all an act, was it, Hannah?”


For some time, I’ve been wanting to try this author’s work and Exploited seemed like it would be a happy medium with its focus on romance suspense. Told in dual POV, getting the voice of Mason and Hannah adds dimension and also tension because Hannah’s plan is known from the beginning and I didn’t want to see Mason get hurt. While Mason should have questioned things a little sooner, I can understand why he chose otherwise.

Likewise, I empathized with Hannah’s conflict until she starts to make some rookie mistakes. As for the buildup and theories about Toxic Wrath’s identity, I have a couple of theories and hope the obvious one is a distraction and there’s actually a twisty reveal in the conclusion.

I would recommend Exploited to those who enjoy romantic suspense with characters that have vulnerabilities and conflicts that need to be resolved.

 

Zero Day series:
Exploited (Zero Day, #1) by A. Meredith Walters Aftermath (Zero Day #2) by A. Meredith Walters

 

*A copy was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

 

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ARC/CC’s Review ~ Two is a Lie (Tangled Lies #2) by Pam Godwin

 

Title: Two is a Lie (Tangled Lies #2)
Author: Pam Godwin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 Stars!

 

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Two is a Lie opens without interruption in the timeline to a scenario that is thoroughly complex and full of emotion. With Cole’s return after four years have passed, Danni tries to reconcile the truth to accept how Cole is alive and to understand how Trace is connected to them both. For Danni, getting answers isn’t easy and finding a solution is even harder as both men are determined to fight for their chance, which leaves Danni in the position of making choice between Cole and Trace.

“They both love me. We’re not broken. We’re just … stuck.”


Finding such a choice impossible, Danni decides to start over in hopes of establishing a connection with one more than the other. Cole is unrestrained, passionate and at times a hot head, while Trace is the master of self-restraint, dominance and is intoxicating. Basically, these men are opposites in personality and looks which leaves Danni in a quandary because she loves each for what they offer. At first, this arrangement seems to work but then as emotions escalate, what ensues is angst ridden to the ninth degree.

“I’m terrified one day that I’m going to watch you walk away with the one who stole my dance.”


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Once lines are crossed, the level of betrayal is evident and Danni must accept how these actions affect her future. As Danni reacts to the strong determination imposed, it’s clear how things must proceed during this time. However, no one foresees what happens next as there are elements of suspense weaved into this plot that further add to the tension of the unknown.

“But I saw the guilt in your eyes the moment you looked at me.”


As told from Danni’s POV, her perspective underscores just how difficult it is for her to make choice but it’s also evident just how much Trace and Cole are enduring during this process. The layers of feelings and character dimension is immense and there is always the looming finality of which one is going to win Danni’s heart. Of course, no one is perfect but when certain things happen, it feels like a double-edged sword offering pain and pleasure that left me aching for one and hurting for the other.

Typically, I avoid love triangles like the plague because of the angst and wavering feelings that occur during the process, but when I saw Pam Godwin would be crafting this series, I was committed and I am enjoying it all! That being said, there are definitely times when I wanted to exert physical influence over one of the characters and yelled at my Kindle! (lol!)

Two is a Lie offers a very different tone from the first book, One is a Promise, in that the tension level is rising to match the uncertainty surrounding this fragile predicament. For those who thrive on angst and a shitload of feels, I highly recommend Two is a Lie!

Tangled Lies series:
One is a Promise (Tangled Lies, #1) by Pam Godwin Two is a Lie (Tangled Lies, #2) by Pam Godwin Three is a War (Tangled Lies, #3) by Pam Godwin

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CC’s Review  ~ The Red by Tiffany Reisz

5 STARS!!

 

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Mona Lisa St. James is the proprietress of the Red Gallery. Having inherited the love of art and the gallery from her late mother, Mona is desperately trying to keep the business financially afloat. Overwhelmed and having exhausted her options, Mona decides to close the gallery until a gentleman propositions Mona with an opportunity of a lifetime.

“With Malcolm she felt pleasure and lust, but also pain and fear, love and hate. It was the most potent of alchemies.”


Mysteriously appearing at the Red, Malcolm is a tall, dark and handsome Englishman who knows exactly what he wants. Sympathetic to Mona’s financial situation, Malcolm offers Mona the chance to keep her gallery afloat in exchange for agreeing to submit to him for one full year.

“If I must sell my soul to the devil to do it, I will find a way back into Mona’s bed.”


What ensues is a series of meetings where Malcolm orchestrates fantasies inspired by various works of art. In exchange for Mona’s submission to anything Malcolm desires, she receives pleasure, pain and more than she could have imagined. As each of their assignations offers different themes that weave art, beauty and wonder into erotic tableaus, the connection between Mona and Malcolm deepens. With Mona’s attraction to Malcolm, she begins to feel and see what he wants her to experience and it is sensual, arousing, stimulating and hot. Malcolm is unabashedly open about his limitless sexual appetite and desires.

“Obscene, being used like this, but she accepted it, relished it, loved it. She loved it. Shamelessly, blissfully, and utterly loved it.”


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Over a year passes with Mona and Malcolm being true to their promises but when their fantasies alter reality, Mona must reassess the value and ultimate closure of her arrangement with Malcolm. Up until that point, Mona doesn’t want it to end, but with Malcolm, Mona knows that Malcolm’s reach knows no bounds.

“Do anything you must, but keep me forever.”


To say this book is erotic and steamy is an understatement, as Tiffany Reisz admirably translates the timeless beauty of art and weaves these compositions into real feelings and sensations. The Red is true erotica at its best with explicitly delicious scenes but also offering an intelligent and cohesive plot with intriguing characters. Mona’s confident sexuality, loyalty to a vision and willingness to take a risk made her a standout character. With Malcolm, the allure and mystery surrounding him was contagious and who can resist a gentleman on the outside but a beast in every other way.

As always, Tiffany’s writing is flawless as she transports the reader into wonderfully erotic and passionate fantasies. For those who wish to escape to a kinky world without limits, I highly recommend The Red!

 

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Title: Crosshairs (Predator and Prey, #2)

Author: Kate Stewart

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Releases on June 30, 2017

Purchase on Amazon

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Rating: 4.5 Stars! 

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In Crosshairs, the timeline continues without interruption as Taylor Ellison’s world has been turned on its axis. Taylor is a strong heroine who has risen in the ranks of the corporate world but her personal life has always been kept under lock and key. Until now, Taylor accepted her reality with emotionless sex and a strict work schedule but as her attraction to Daniello Di Giovanni continues to grow, her past is intersecting with the present and causing danger to her those she loves.

 

“That’s my addiction: beautiful men without souls.”

 


Adding to the uncertainty is the mystery about Daniello and his efforts to keep detached from Taylor. Their lives have intersected in ways that prevent a neat separation, especially when the stakes are raised making certain intentions quite transparent. Not known to cower from a challenge, Taylor is determined to put an end to all threats no matter the consequence to herself.

 

“He would tear my castle apart and ruin my kingdom if I’d let him. Because I loved him. Someone had to love the fucking villain.”


In the midst of this game of predator and prey, Taylor and Daniello continue to share an undeniable chemistry with each having met their match. Confident in her sexual prowess, she wants all of Daniello and isn’t afraid to push him until he gives all of himself.

 

“He stood a picture of pure temptation, while he kept my hair fisted, and slowly unzipped his pants. His bulging length sprang free and my mouth watered.”


In this final conclusion, Taylor comes full circle by accepting a balance to her life that she’s been fighting for so long. The inclusion of past memories with her mother, sister, Laz and Ray solidify a connection to Taylor’s character and shows her growth and reflection. Additionally, these scenes offer multiple layers of emotion to the plot and underscore the significance of Taylor’s decisions. Plus, getting to know more about the aloof and dominant, Ray Tyco, was a treat even though it was heartbreaking.

In addition to the erotica that sizzles the pages, the author’s ability to write compelling suspense is ever present while continuing to weave plot dynamics layer by layer. For me, this duet was really about Taylor’s evolution, as she is such vibrant character with real flaws that humanize her. Of course, the conflict surrounding Daniello prods Taylor in a certain direction that enhances her journey.

Crosshairs offers a story about circumstances and choices with a healthy dose of reality and eroticism that together make for a captivating and entertaining read. Having been a longtime fan of Kate Stewart and waiting for this series conclusion, it was well worth the wait.

Predator and Prey series:
Camouflage (Predator and Prey, #1) by Kate Stewart Crosshairs (Predator and Prey, #2) by Kate Stewart

 

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Title:  Pet (A Dark Menage Romance)

 

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Title:  Wicked Things (Chaos & Ruin #3)

Author: Callie Hart

Genre: Dark Romance

Rating: 4 Stars!

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Without interruption in the Chaos & Ruin series timeline, Zeth Mayfair is ready to protect what is his against the Barbieri family and others who seek power, but the dynamic of how to stake his claim has changed due to a recent development. Coming to terms with this new phase in his life only intensifies Zeth’s actions which makes his anger and need for retribution palpable. Zeth has always been forceful character, but he even manages to exceed his own boundaries of self-control.

 

“I’ve courted the darker side of my own soul for years now, gone toe to toe with it, played a dangerous game of control with it as and when I’ve need to, giving it more of myself than I should in times of anger. I have never, never, not once succumbed to it entirely. Until now.”

 

In addition to Zeth and Sloane’s storyline line, Mason Reeves faces the hardest time in his life due to the death of his sister. With feelings of guilt, extreme sorrow and hopelessness, Mason is shattered and tries to take his punishment by drinking and fighting.

 

“My feelings make no sense whatsoever. None. And yet, I feel fucking robbed. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my sister.”


In this book, the plot pace moves and pivots quickly with characters reappearing from previous series all vying for what they believe is rightfully theirs to claim. With these twists, Zeth can’t act alone and the ever-charming Michael is also prepared for a blood bath to ensue. As certain volatile and unlikely alliances are forged, Zeth is unstoppable in his quest to avenge one particular character who was severely overdue for a beat down.

 

“So here I am. The man you’ve been chasing down all this time, live and in motherfucking Technicolor. Now you’re gonna deal with the consequences.”


Admittedly, there were times when the motives of these reappearing characters felt a tad awkward, especially given the extreme and grotesque actions of one malignant character. While it pushed Zeth to a certain place, there was never any doubt as to his darkness yet seeing him explode was satisfying but also deeply heartbreaking.

 

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In addition to the weighty atmosphere of loss and anger, the contrasting and ever present emotion was redemption. While I’m still a bit uneasy with the new plot point between Zeth and Sloane, it does highlight Zeth’s strengths and capacity to love which led to some hot times “Mayfair style” and truly tender moments.

 

Told from multiple POVs and with some past/present timeline shifts, Wicked Things offers adrenaline spiked action with a twisty plot and amplified character intensity. Of course, more of Zeth always a good thing!!

Chaos & Ruin series:
Violent Things (Chaos & Ruin, #1) by Callie Hart Savage Things (Chaos & Ruin #2) by Callie Hart Wicked Things (Chaos & Ruin Book 3) by Callie Hart

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Title: Dirty Daddies
Author: Jade West
Genre: Erotica, Menage
Rating: 4 Stars!

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Carrie Wells is a troubled and reckless teenager that has reached the end of her line with foster homes due to her behavior and the fact she is turning 18. With her stubbornness, Carrie is used to pushing people away in an attempt to protect herself from what she truly seeks. But now that she no longer has options, Carrie is determined to find a way to make a life even though she’s practically turned away everyone who cares.

 

“Maybe he would have really helped me, if I’d have told him the truth. If I’d have told him who really hurts me. But it’s too late for all that now.”


Michael Warren is a compassionate man in his forties who is a dedicated social worker and takes all his cases seriously. Having been assigned the file of Carrie Wells for the past five months, has proven to be a challenging task but he is invested her well-being as much as his position and morality will allow.

 

“Carrie gives him nothing because she’s a snotty bitch who’s punishing him for sticking to his morals. I see it even if he can’t.”


Jack has been Michael’s best friend since they were kids and his straight forward approach to life is a balanced compliment to their friendship. Seeing Michael struggle with his job and with Carrie, he offers some much needed interference that helps bring everyone to an agreeable place.

 

“Difficult. Little. Bitch. It’s about time this little cow learned some manners. And I’m about to fucking teach her.”


What ensues between Carrie, Michael and Jack is challenging, endearing and quite hot. With each character having their own struggles, this adds dimension to each character and to how the plot progresses. For Carrie, she has her truths to acknowledge but really doesn’t feel safe enough to do so until Mike and Jack provide the opportunity she’s never had. With Michael, he’s been unlucky in love but is a stand-up guy that truly believes in helping those who need extra from society. His empathy and need to act as a protector is admirable and adds to his sex appeal. Then there’s jack, who is dominant and not afraid to seek what he wants despite what society’s norms may be.

 

“I want to watch him fuck her. I want to watch him fill her up right after me. I want to be the one in her mouth as her pretty little cunt struggles to take him.”


As Michael and Jack can no longer deny their mutual attraction to Carrie, she is equally interested in both men in every way. Interestingly, Mike and Jack are not gay or bisexual but the union they feel with Carrie makes them view how they can share her in uniquely hot ways. As Mike feels conflicted about certain aspects of this threesome, Jack is his wing-man and assures him that what their bodies do is all for pleasure and to surrender to noble ideals. Mike’s pauses felt realistic and added to the chemistry between these characters because when it was on, it was combustible!

 

With Jade West’s books, the plots are usually heavily character driven with filthy hot sex and Dirty Daddies is another golden example of the author’s narrative ability to craft a compelling story with characters that illicit different emotions from the reader. Told in multiple POVs, strengthens what each character brings and adds a tremendous amount of empathy as well.

 

For me, I especially loved the dynamic between Michael and Jack because without having such a tender and respectful foundation, they couldn’t have had a polyamorous relationship with Carrie. As for the “Daddy kink” aspect, while it is an element of the plot, it has a lighter role than other traditionally themed Daddy kink books, but make no mistake, Daddy Michael and Daddy Jack are hot as hell!

 

For those who are looking for some dirty, kinky fun with characters that will warm your heart (in addition to your lady bits), I highly recommend Dirty Daddies!

 

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ARC/CC’s Review ~ One is a Promise (Tangled Lies #1) by Pam Godwin

 

Title: One is a Promise (Tangled Lies #1)
Author: Pam Godwin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.25 Stars!

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Danni Angelo is a free spirited dancer who found the love of her life in Cole Hartman until everything changed. Three years later and still feeling lonely, Danni finally tries to date and put the past behind her. By attempting to move forward, Danni meets a man that simultaneously ignites her libido and infuriates her sensibility.

“This is dialogue without words. Absorption without expression. Foreplay without so much as a twitch of a finger. I feel him in places that haven’t been touched by a man in years.”


Trace Savoy is a wealthy businessman whose mere presence exerts influence and dominance. Upon watching Danni dance, he becomes infatuated and insists that she work for him. While Trace is clear about his professional intent, he is reticent about pursuing Danni on a personal level as she appears to be emotionally taken.

“You, my tiny dancer, are an erotic dream dipped in the sweetest honey. A man only needs to look at you to become fiercely protective of your smile.”


What ensues between Trace and Danni is turbulent with a sexually charged push and pull creating combustible tension. With Danni’s outgoing nature and non-existent filter, she is daring and tells Trace exactly what she would like to happen. While Trace is obviously attracted to Danni on many levels, he is looking for certain obstacles to be overcome.

“I need to know if you are mine or his.”


With such different personalities at play, it isn’t easy for Danni and Trace but when they succumb to their feelings, it further pushes them in a certain direction. For Danni, it signifies her commitment to “empty her cup” and for Trace it confirms what he has felt from the beginning. However, neither anticipated they would be facing a certain situation.

“Love isn’t a choice, you know… You can’t control it. It just … happens, and you better hold on for dear life, because you never know when you’ll lose it.”


Told from Danni’s POV, getting into her head is fairly easy but not always understanding her decisions is part of her quirky charm. Feeling her pain for Cole adds depth to what they shared while together. Of course, Cole being a girl’s wet dream adds to his appeal. With Trace, he is sexy in his own right, and while he has his own vulnerabilities, the reasons for his behavior becomes apparent. Knowing this series is a love triangle, trying to switch alliances while Trace earns his place in Danni’s life adds some angst to the plot, especially intuiting what is to come.

As always, Pam Godwin’s writing is spot on and her ability to create realistic characters is present in this book. I certainly look forward to reading the second book in this series and for the roller coaster of angst and emotions that are bound to come.

Tangled Lies Series:
One is a Promise (Tangled Lies, #1) by Pam Godwin Two is a Lie (Tangled Lies, #2) by Pam Godwin Three is a War (Tangled Lies, #3) by Pam Godwin

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

 

 

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Title: Feyness
Author: E.S. Carter
Genre: Dark Romance
POV: First Person
Rating: 4 ★★★★

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Faye Craven was raised in an environment where depravity lurked at every corner. With her father, Alec Craven, being the ruler of the Red Order, Faye learned at a young age what her role would be within the society. Knowing Faye’s future, her mother tried to save her but instead Faye was left with a different kind of gift.

“I see you. I see your sins. I see the very fabric of your soul.”


Cole Hunter has risen in the bloody ranks of the Red Order to being Alec Craven’s right hand man. Fueled by his own motivations of revenge, Cole’s goal is a simple one yet complicated to execute and he will use all his connections to succeed. However, there is one contingency he didn’t count on having in his corner.

“Her eyes are fixed on mine, and the feeling is unsettling; it’s as if she’s not just looking at me, she’s looking inside of me. Does she see the beast beneath the pretty veneer?”


As the inevitable day comes, Faye is slated to become Cole’s bride. With all her training and manipulation, she is ready to protect herself. Quickly, she learns more about her new husband and his ambitions, but for Cole, trusting a Craven can be deadly.

“I’m not a hearts and flowers man. If I ever offer her a heart, it will be warm and still beating after carving it …”


With swift action, the percolating plot starts to boil with Cole and Faye acting as a unit despite some resistance from Cole’s brothers, Luke and Grim. If their plan fails, it would mean their own demise. Each step counts and no one will be spared from their treasonous alliances. As Cole’s focus and vengeance is honed to predatory perfection, Faye also finds her inner strength and begins to trust what she’s always known.

“It’s not weak to admit your want, Faye. Strength comes from being honest with yourself about your needs.”


Fighting together and learning more about Alec Craven, helps to forge the feelings Cole has been resisting with Faye. Even though Faye recognizes Cole’s blackness, she is also able to make the distinction between evil and emptiness. It’s when Faye begins to see more than she ever has that seals her connection to Cole.

“Even though you fight it, I can smell that you want me, Faye. It pours from your skin and drives me fucking crazy.”


Cole is a dominant character with his broody ways but he also wants to feel emotions he buried long ago. For Faye, hiding her feelings was always her way to survive. With these two broken characters unified in similar tragedies, they come together to prove they can be more than just whirls of black and grey.

In this book, the action is non-stop and the underlying plot of revenge kept me interested. As for Faye’s innate ability, I was very intrigued by her gift and the meaning of what she could see. With Luke and Grim, they certainly added to the plot and I’m looking forward to reading more about how their stories continue.

For those who seek a story about damaged characters, revenge, action and avarice, I recommend Feyness.

Red Order series:
Feyness (Red Order, #1) by E.S. Carter Parasight (Red Order, #2) by E.S. Carter

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Title: Surrender
Author: Kitty Thomas
Genre: Dark Erotic Romance/BDSM
POV: Third Person
Rating: 3 ★★★

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Julie was raised in a sheltered household where her sole dream was to have a white picket fence, a provider husband and 2.5 kids. But with the reality, Julie wasn’t able to make her own choices, so she fled her family and found a bartending job in an edgy part of town. Upon meeting a regular customer, Julie wants him to ask her out but appearances aren’t always what they seem to be.

“But the back of him was nothing compared to the front of him and those startling green eyes that seemed as though they could read all your secrets.”


Gabe Griffin is a sexy and predatory man who’s been watching Julie for many months but knowing his tastes are nowhere close to vanilla, he’s been hesitant to enter her life. Despite trying to protect her innocence, Gabe needs to know more about Julie’s submissive side and just how kinky she is willing to be.

“He could have talked to her, eased the tension, but he liked her tension. If this was the most of that delicious energy he could get from her, he’d take it where and how he could get it.”


As Gabe confirms his instincts with Julie, they part and during this time, Julie’s life irrevocably changes. By chance, Julie and Gabe reunite and this transaction pushes Julie to see the other sides of kink, submission and surrender. Gabe is determined to make Julie his slave yet she fights him until she realizes what is really at stake.

“But what I really want is someone who will call me ‘master.’ And I want that someone to be you.”


While I liked the idea of these characters and the plot, it felt like much was undeveloped. With the theme and Gabe’s methods, there was a good opportunity to delve into Julie’s psyche as she began to process all her emotions based on her recent experience and how she transitioned to her final choice. While there were a couple of significant moments between Gabe and Julie, I just wanted more of everything.

In seeing this book is part three of a series, and even though the author noted how it was meant to be read as a standalone, I wonder if there was a previous build-up leading to more dimension and background of Gabe’s character since he seems to have been part of this world for some time. The secondary characters did add to the atmosphere and served to humanize both Gabe and Julie. One character in particular, is intriguingly psychotic and should get his own dark and depraved book. *Update – that character already has his own book – the second in the series.

This book would appeal to those who wish to test the shallow waters of kink.

Standalones within the same world:
Guilty Pleasures by Kitty Thomas Broken Dolls by Kitty Thomas Surrender by Kitty Thomas

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CC’s Review ~ Killing the Sun (Part Three) by K. Larsen & Mara White

4.5 Stars!

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In Part Three, the final conclusion comes to a twisty crescendo of lies, greed and corrupted love as it’s time for Aimee Olsen to decide whether she is going to be a giver or a taker. While it may seem obvious which of the two Danny Montclair may be, sometimes distinctions can be deceiving.

“It’s love that brings us together, but with that same love, we can also fall down, we can destroy one another.”


As the plot delves further into the past lives of Aimee and Danny, more truths surface but knowing these facts it doesn’t necessarily offer any solace but rather serves to explain motivations; however, devious they may be. With Aimee’s decision, she knows the consequences are grave and far-reaching, but the small town girl from Sulphur, Oklahoma is ready to stand on her own. With plot pivots and twists, the reveal of certain facts, change the dynamic of the relationships Aimee experiences over time.

“There are countless choices in life. Make the ones that give you the power and it will transform your life.”


In this final book, I enjoyed all the conflicting feelings the authors made me feel with these characters. While I wanted to root for one, sometimes it felt like choosing a side wasn’t an option. The similarities between the meager upbringings shared by Aimee and Danny fueled their drive and unified these two in a deep way for me. But drawing a distinction between Aimee and Danny isn’t an easy task, as their destructive qualities began to take hold.

“See, humble beginnings should never be underestimated. They put the bite in our step and the steel in our backbone.”


The core of the story is that Aimee and Danny choose their destiny and when delving into certain enterprises, they must then be prepared for the consequences. Danny’s possessiveness over Aimee doesn’t waver and perhaps she has met her match in Danny. I liked the tenacity of both these characters and I cherished their dark sides. As for the secondary characters, all had a place in the story that effectively propelled the plot.

Overall, this series takes the reader on a journey that will yield a range of emotions, as each character has traits that evoke empathy, anger, respect, love, desire and satisfaction. The intrigue and steady pace kept my interest and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. And I really loved the ending. I highly recommend!

Three Books in the series:
Killing the Sun Part 1 by K. Larsen Killing The Sun Part 2 by K. Larsen Killing The Sun Part 3 by K. Larsen

Title: Killing the Sun (Part Three)

Author: K. Larsen & Mara White

Genre: Dark Romance/Suspense

POV: Dual first person

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CC’s Review ~ Killing the Sun (Part Two) by K. Larsen & Mara White

4.25 Stars!

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In part two, the timeline continues without interruption, as Aimee believes it’s time to make a clean break from Danny. Leaving Manhattan temporarily offers her the space she needs but she doesn’t expect to be reunited with Leif, the golden god. As they spend time together, it reinforces Aimee’s feelings about how she deserves to be treated and she begins to want what she has always wanted, that is, until reality rears its ugly head yet again.

“In a burst of evil irony the sun breaks through the clouds the moment he says it. It lights up this beautiful man and his perfect backdrop, the sprawling ocean behind him. He is luminous, shining, and now tortured because of what I’ve done.”


With the non-linear timeline, Aimee’s past with Danny is ever present and it serves to show the contrast between lust, love, pain and pleasure. Their past offers some seriously panty-melting scenes with Danny pushing Aimee’s boundaries without hampering any of her desires or his fantasies.

“The idea of having another man take me seemed terrifyingly gratifying. The idea of having Danny watch it happen, almost sacrilegious. But it turned me on. It really fucking turned me on.”


As this story progresses and with the dual POV, the character development for Aimee and Danny deepens showing softer sides to both characters but also underscoring the significant differences between what they want from each other and life in general. While it becomes obvious as to what Aimee’s choice should be, it still isn’t an easy one for her knowing she views herself. With Danny, he seems to be the biggest contradiction because there are times when he appears to be human but his priorities are in direct conflict with Aimee’s hopes.

“Danger finds plenty of room to hide in vagueness, while certainty thrives in description. If you can see it clearly, you can make them see it too.”


While the tension of the unknown was steadily mounting, when the boom was dropped, the plot irrevocably shifted. Though it seems that Danny has deep affection for Aimee in his own twisted way, she needs to find the strength to stand on her own, but the question of whether she is stronger than Danny remains to be seen.

In this episode, I enjoyed all the conflicting feelings the authors made me feel with these characters. It is so apparent Aimee and Danny share an undeniable sexual chemistry but at what point will Aimee finally act for her best interest. I am immediately starting the final book in this series and forward to reading how it all ends!

This book would appeal to those who understand unconventional relationships and how love and insecurity can easily blur the lines of right and wrong.

Three Books in the series:
Killing the Sun Part 1 by K. Larsen Killing The Sun Part 2 by K. Larsen Killing The Sun Part 3 by K. Larsen

Title: Killing the Sun (Part Two)

Author: K. Larsen & Mara White

Genre: Dark Romance/Suspense

POV: Dual first person

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4 Stars! 

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Aimee Olsen is a small town girl raised by an impoverished family. Learning to live simply was their only option, especially after a certain event changes how her family is perceived in their community. In hopes of starting a new life, Aimee sets out for New York City where she meets a man that offers a sense of security. While Aimee isn’t materialistic, he introduces her to new experiences and she feels fortunate for finding such a nurturing boyfriend.

“You are so vulnerable, and I feel like it’s up to me to toughen you up.”


Daniel “Danny” Montclair (a.k.a. Danilo Bartolini) grew up in Brooklyn and was raised by strict Sicilian immigrants. Rebelling against the normalcy and mundane life of his family, Danny was enamored with the wise guys of the neighborhood. Fast forward, Danny runs an empire but when he sees a girl that exudes innocence and sunshine, he knows he must make her his.

“Some things you can just buy, other things you have to earn.”


For six years, Aimee and Danny have been together but Aimee is no longer happy knowing her place in the relationship. After only having Danny to rely upon for so long, she questions their future and tries to move forward on her own; however, Danny’s influence is far reaching.

“There isn’t much purity in this world, so when you find some, you’ve got to hang onto it like a life preserver in treacherous water.”


In this first episode, the foundation is set for each character and the plot is driven by their circumstances and by their individual choices. Aimee is a good-natured character who likes to see the positive in people despite being treated poorly by her peers. At times she can be naïve, but her decisions show how life just isn’t black and white. With Danny, he is a domineering man with conflicting priorities, especially toward Aimee, as he knows what right decision is but chooses the opposite. While their relationship is loving at times with combustible sex, it is also getting toxic.

“He pounds me until my flesh screams, until my back threatens to snap from the pressure and impact. With one hand coming over my hip he uses all of his fingers to rub flat against my clit until I explode into orgasm and growl out his name. I want to hit him. I want to spit in his face. He grabs my hair and yanks my head back.”


Told in dual POV and with a non-linear timeline, the varying perspectives and shifts allow the reader to understand the motivations of the characters that parallel their past and present. The pace is steady and the tone is tense at times since the path Aimee and Danny will take is unknown. At this point, I’m not sure what to expect from either character but understand the choices they’ve made.

Mara White is a new author to me but having previously read K. Larsen, I am familiar with the eerily quiet lull she can create before twists and reveals. Moving forward to book two in this series, I look forward to reading how these characters either progress or digress.

This book would appeal to those who appreciate that life’s choices aren’t always obvious and that good people make bad decisions.

Three Books in the series:
Killing the Sun Part 1 by K. Larsen Killing The Sun Part 2 by K. Larsen Killing The Sun Part 3 by K. Larsen

Title: Killing the Sun (Part One)
Author: K. Larsen & Mara White
Genre: Dark Romance
POV: Dual first person

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CC’s Review ~ Possession by Jaimie Roberts

3.5 Stars

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At 18 years old, Evelyn Montgomery grew up in household where shady deals were transacted, however, she didn’t expect for her family to view her as an asset rather than as a daughter. At twelve years old, she met a man that gave her hope and a sense of friendship. As she got older, Evelyn began to realize this man was more than a friend that would stop at nothing to protect her, or at least so she thought.

“He once told me he wasn’t a monster, but I see it inside him. I see that part of him simmering near the surface.”

With an intense manner and imposing physical presence, Drake Salvatore is a powerful man who gets what he wants at any cost. Though he makes it clear that he is a monster, Evelyn is still drawn to him for what he offers. As he waits until the timing is right, Drake’s obsession is clear and no one is going to stop him from taking what’s his.

“Why is it so necessary to own me? Why not some other girl? Why me?”

As Evelyn begins to see Drake’s far reaching influence and control, she is conflicted because of how she perceives him. Though she rebels at times, her realization comes to a head when her choices are removed and she’s faced with stark reality. Drake’s methods are by no means ethical but that’s what drives his needs. When Evelyn makes a choice, she soon learns that worse monsters exist.

“That man over the years has become both my enemy and my saviour. My fissure and my bond. My sickness and my cure. My destruction and my salvation.”

What ensues between Drake and Evelyn is a series of events that is manipulative and debauched. Due to Evelyn’s sheltered existence and lack of family support, her decisions are based upon limited experience and Drake uses it to his advantage. While Drake has been very open with Evelyn about his dark side, physically and emotionally, their journey is one of conflicting feelings.

Told from Evelyn’s POV, the timeline shifts between past and present that allows for a build-up of tension since not knowing what Drake will do next allows the reader to empathize with Evelyn. However, I was looking for more development from Evelyn’s character instead of falling back on her physical attraction to Drake. While it’s clear that Drake is a man of certain tastes, I was left wanting much more about his motivations and more depravity, as whether he was a man of redemption wasn’t a factor to me considering the theme of the storyline.

Overall, the plot points felt a little disjointed and it created some contradictions. While I liked the characters on one level, I was ready for something much darker. That said, I was relieved to read the ending, as my thoughts were confirmed but was left wanting more.

Possession is a book that covers themes of obsession with flawed characters who desperately want to be loved despite the consequences.

Title: Possession
Author: Jaimie Roberts
Genre: Dark Erotica/Romance
POV: First Person

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Buy Me, Sir by Jade West

4 Stars! 

⭑⭑⭑⭑

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Melissa “Lissa” Martin is a nineteen year old who was forced into adulthood when her parents died in a tragic car accident. Since then, she has been raising her toddler brother and had to put her education and dreams on hold. But Lissa never gave up on the dream of meeting the man that showed her kindness on one unexpected day.

“He’d just been a posh guy in a suit, until he smiled at me. And that smile was enough for me to gift my heart to a man I’d probably never see again.”

Alexander James Henley, Jr. is a high profile criminal defense attorney known as the puppet master, pulling strings to get his clients the best outcome. While his professional life is in the spotlight, Alexander prefers to keep his private dealings off the radar, as his predilections are considered deviant to many.

“I’m interested in all fucked up. Damaged and dark. Broken. Like me.”

With a plan in place, Lissa implements each step in order to get close to this elusive man. While it all clicks into place, much easier than Lissa planned, her determination borders on obsession but she has her eye on the prize. Meanwhile, Alexander is feeling more than he’s felt in years and believes he’s met his match.

“And fuck, how I fucking fuck her. I fuck her like a man fucking possessed, her body shunting under me s I keep my grip tight around her pretty neck.”

“I kiss her. Plunging my tongue inside her breathless mouth as she chokes for me.”

While Alexander and Lissa move forward, the fear that Lissa’s manipulation will be discovered is ever present. Knowing how Alexander feels about Lissa, each time she deceives him becomes more painful especially knowing Alexander’s past. Even when Lissa is put to the ultimate test, she chooses the deception

“The crazy train collides with the end of the track, and it feels wild and scary to be this unhinged.”

As it all unfolds, Alexander must come to terms with his past and those that continually choose to label his sexual needs. Knowing Lissa doesn’t place any limits on Alexander, he feels acceptance for the first time but when all he knows is a lie, it all falls apart.

When starting a Jade West book, I always feel comfortable about the journey she is going to offer. For one, it’s always going to be hot as hell, but she also has a way of dealing with different themes in an interesting and fresh way. With Lissa, she has many admirable qualities, as she is hard working and assumes so much responsibility but her obsession leaves the reader conflicted – purposely so – at times. For me, I liked Alexander from the start. Even with his outward air of confidence, he is still human and has quite a vulnerable side. And the scenes with Alex and a certain character absolutely made my day!

Buy Me, Sir offers a story about two people trying to live the only way they know how given their family circumstances. The plot unfolds at a steady pace and you can be rest assured about getting some dirty, hot times! For those looking for some kink with a big heaping of a character driven plot, I recommend!

TITLE: Buy Me, Sir

AUTHOR: Jade West

GENRE: Erotic Romance

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Dirty Souls (Sins Duet, #2) by Karina Halle

4 Stars

⭑⭑⭑⭑

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In Dirty Souls, the timeline continues without interruption and it is a wild ride from the first page. As Vicente Bernal and Violet McQueen flee to get answers about the past, there are factions that have different motivations and they will stop at nothing to achieve their end game. During their journey, the truth slowly unfolds but lines remain blurred until the very end.

“I have changed too much. I wonder if this is something I’ll ever be able to wash from my skin.”

With Vicente and Violet pushed to their limits, they learn more about themselves. Violet realizes she has a dark version of herself and knowing Vicente is there to shoulder her softer side keeps her from spinning out of control. Vicente is up against much more than he anticipated and Violet gives him the strength to forge ahead. As such, both characters showed dimensionality and their arcs sustained their development.

“Good people do bad things.”

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With all the plot points coming together into an action packed and giant crescendo, these characters are driven to extremes. In addition to Violet and Vicente’s plight, the larger story between the Bernals and the McQueens comes to a head. And, this is where I loved all the dark parts and yet felt conflicted for certain characters regarding the motivation behind the overall plot. For those who are familiar with the backstory (The Artist’s Trilogy and Dirty Angels series), it’s one that evokes much emotion and defines alliances. Since then my team choice hasn’t changed or wavered. (view spoiler) So, to be reunited with Javier, Luisa and Ellie, it was a heady combination that put Violet and Vicente in the background for me.

Karina Halle is such a natural storyteller and she pushes boundaries that are intended to make readers question the morality of her characters.

Dirty Souls will take a reader into some depravity but also has themes of love, sacrifice and vengeance. This series will appeal to those who like suspense with shadowy darkness and manipulation.

Sins Duet:
Black Hearts (Sins Duet, #1) by Karina HalleDirty Souls (Sins Duet, #2) by Karina Halle

Author: Karina Halle

Title: Dirty Souls (Sins Duet, #2)

Genre: Romance Suspense

Type: Multiple POV

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Animal by Marni Mann

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Title: Animal

Author: Marni Mann

Genre: Dark Suspense

POV: Multiple first person

Releases on March 23, 2017

4.5 Stars! 

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Tyler Richens is a hardworking student attending university on an academic scholarship. Not having family to rely upon, Tyler is determined to move forward and start a new life. With always wanting to feel like she belongs, she finally accepts her roommate’s request to go out on the town. During that evening, Tyler is approached by a woman offering stability, a sizeable income and a sense of family she so desperately craves.

“We love unconditionally. And we will love you.”
“I didn’t know what that felt like.”

Upon meeting and dating Jae, Tyler begins to feel the weight of her decision as she becomes entangled in the rules of her new job. While Jae has been understanding of her schedule, Tyler must make a decision that will affect their future. Knowing what the consequences will be, Tyler chooses to protect those she loves.

“I wanted to always remember his arms. His breathing. The way he felt against me.”

Beard is a prison guard at an underground prison. As a young man, Beard’s family circumstances changed causing his closest friend’s father to provide a home for him. During that time, Beard learned how violence could be channeled toward those who seemingly deserve it. Not expecting to such feel pain again in his life, Beard experiences a significant loss that propels him into a world of darkness. While the prison helps to calm the screams from within, Beard’s additional outlet is hard sex.

“Prison guard, captor, torturer – I had many titles. They all meant the same thing; I lived in the dark.”

Told in multiple first-person POV, the characters really come to life and the tone of each character’s essence is perfectly conveyed. With Beard he is raw, broody and cold but it’s partly due to how he’s chosen to insulate himself. For Tyler, she is naïve at times, but she is driven and willing to take a risk to protect others, though her methods may not be ideal. What transpires between all these characters is a balancing act and their lives intersect in such unexpected ways. And, the sex offers plenty of dominating and dirty goodness.

“I wanted that pussy on my tongue. I wanted that taste coating me. I wanted my noise buried there, so all I could smell was her.”

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As each piece appears to click into place, further complex questions arise leading to more significant consequences. With escalating tension and suspense embedded into this plot, the pacing incrementally rises until the timeline is at critical point. To say the plot is twisty would be an understatement.

Animal is a story that pulls you in from the first page with damaged characters trying to survive in their own ways. It is dark, mysterious and addictive, as Marni Mann successfully creates a world where morality is flexible and shadows lurk in one’s souls. I highly recommend!!

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4 Stars! 

★★★★

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In Bound we are reunited with Anderson Cain after two years has passed. Since then, Anderson’s life has been filled with pain and sorrow but also moments of joy whenever he is with his son. Still, fighting in the underground sates his aggression and having his friend, Robbie, helps to ease Anderson’s unique needs as well.

“It’s always amazes me how tenderness shocks you. Yet the bite of pain doesn’t.”

Jeanie Carlson is a divorced pediatric nurse with a naturally docile personality. Having experienced trying times in her life, she understands loss, rejection and fear but it doesn’t make dealing with life any easier. When Jeanie meets Anderson, she feels an innate sense of safety with him despite his brusque exterior and given her current situation.

“There was something hypnotic in the way she looked at me, like she begged me for something I wasn’t sure of, asked me for hope, and pleaded with me to help her.”

Observing people is one of Anderson’s strengths and his intuition tells him that Jeanie is frightened, submissive yet forthright. In addition, he sees emotions that mirror his and for the first time since Khloe, Anderson begins to think about having more. When it becomes evident that Jeanie craves what Anderson can provide, they move forward to experience their darkest desires.

“He was back inside me with another hard thrust. Except, this time, he didn’t take me gently. He fucking owned me. He annihilated every thought in my head.”

In starting Bound, I wasn’t sure what to completely expect, as I had some reservations about just how Anderson’s life was going to progress because I was completely satisfied with how his story ended in Caged. That said, as the plot progressed, it became clear that it was time for Anderson to take the next step in his life. With Jeanie, she felt like a natural match for Anderson with her caring and kind nature. There were moments when I felt protective for Anderson, but he ultimately needed closure for his family. As always, Robbie proved to be a standout friend and I hope he continues to be a part of Anderson’s life in every delicious way.

In this novella, DH Sidebottom succinctly captures the dark and raw emotions of her characters, by showing how their vulnerabilities can lead to strength. From the first page, I was hooked and I appreciated how she was able to take Anderson to a new level.

For those familiar with Anderson’s story, I recommend Bound!

Caged Series to be read in order:
Caged (Caged, #1) by D.H. SidebottomChained (Caged, #2) by D.H. SidebottomBound (Caged, #2.5) by D.H. Sidebottom

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Title: Bound

Author: DH Sidebottom

Genre: Dark erotica

POV: Dual first person POV

Releases on March 17, 2017

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CC’s Review ~ Figure Eight by Calia Read

5 Stars!

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Selah Kerrington is a 33 year-old elementary school teacher who returns home to care for her sick mother. Always having been a quiet and rather introspective person, Selah becomes aware of stares and hushed whispers from strangers who observe the signs. In keeping her focus on her mother’s well-being, Selah tries to do the best she can as provider and protector from interlopers but she also has her own demons she is trying to keep at bay.

“There are very few places in the world where I feel comfortable. Places where I can really be myself.”

Being a creative person, Selah’s passion is reading and wants to be a writer. After establishing a connection with Jackson, another member on an online writing site, they agree to meet and form a friendship. The male attention is a welcomed distraction and it serves to curb Selah’s loneliness but as she begins to want more, it becomes complicated.

“In the end we’re all made up of secrets.”

Adding to Selah’s stress is a neighbor who seems to be eerily aware of her activities. While she knows being discreet is the obvious way to deter questions and onlookers, Selah is determined to get answers of her own and the path she takes is the one that feels right to her.

“The truth is a powerful thing. When it’s suppressed for such a long time and then suddenly set free, it doesn’t come quietly.”

From the first page, the tension slowly builds as questions arise and suspicions mount. With varying perspectives, the plot flows in such a way that purposefully jigs and jags yet remains steady and portentous. With Selah, her character is one that has many relatable elements, as she is a woman who wants balance in her life yet she feels the weight of her own emotions and fears. Additionally, the secondary characters are just as convincing and each serve a purpose in Selah’s life and are intricately weaved into this taut and compelling narrative.

In starting this book, I wasn’t sure what to completely expect but it exceeded my expectations, as Calia Read successfully writes a convincing story in a truthful and challenging manner. For those seeking a story with a range of emotion, mystery, psychological elements and twists, I highly recommend Figure Eight.

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Title: Figure Eight

Author: Calia Read

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

POV: Dual POV – First person, second person

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CC’s ARC Review ~ Ripple Effect, Episode 3 by Keri Lake

5 Stars!!

★★★★★

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Without interruption in the timeline, Dylan and Rip become ensnared in a larger web of deceit. Knowing there are greater forces at play, Rip initiates certain steps in anticipation of protecting what is his. As he and Dylan continue to get closer, they begin to reveal more about each other’s past, unified in pain, but Rip tries to insulate Dylan the best he can once his weakness is exposed.

“Everything he does is a confusing dance between dominance and reverence.  A wolf cloaked in soft lamb’s wool.”

In this episode, more is revealed about Dylan’s past and how she’s been programmed over the years to respond to abuse. However, Dylan finds solace with Rip despite his rough and impersonal persona. With Dylan piercing a part of Rip that he believed to be permanently closed, there’s no doubt about his feelings and cravings for Dylan. The sexual chemistry between these two is off the charts and Rip is sex on fire!

“How’s that feel, Bandit? Huh?” My fingers dig into her shins slung over my shoulders, my willpower on the verge of cracking as I bury myself deep, so fucking deep she’s got my head spinning. “This what you wanted?”

When certain figures in the chain of command advance, Rip is unsure of motivating factors and the end game but it puts he and Dylan on high alert. Without many choices, Rip must play the game until Dylan discovers a connection that she could have never imagined.

“Her broken pieces are hidden behind a fragile mask of normalcy that could crack at any moment.

In this third episode, the action is nonstop with varying factions vying for their rightful place. In addition, the sexual dynamic and intimacy between Rip and Dylan is scorching. From the beginning, I was waiting for a certain truth to be revealed and when it happened in this book, I absolutely loved the delivery and reaction. Rip continues to be a steamy, broody, possessive and protective character and it balances so well with Dylan’s humor, forthrightness and naivety at times.

In continuing this series, Keri Lake delivers such a captivating story with raw edginess, adrenaline charged pacing and characters that meld easily together. I highly recommend Ripple Effect!

Ripple Effect Series (must be read in order):
Ripple Effect Episode 1 (Ripple Effect, #1) by Keri LakeRipple Effect Episode 2 (Ripple Effect, #2) by Keri LakeRipple Effect Episode 3 (Ripple Effect, #3) by Keri LakeRipple Effect Episode 4 (Ripple Effect, #4) by Keri Lake

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Title: Ripple Effect, Episode 3

Author: Keri Lake

Genre: Erotic Romance Suspense

POV: Dual POV – First person

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CC’s ARC Review ~ ROOKE by Callie Hart

4 Stars!
4-stars

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Five years ago, museum curator, Sasha Connor, experienced a tragedy that caused her to lose practically everything she loves. Trying to live her life in the only way she knows how, with her heart fiercely protected, she is numb and resigned to being alone.

“And then … everything went black.”

At 23 years old, Rooke Blackheath is an ex-con with a formidable presence and has an affinity for fixing mechanical things. While he enjoys the adrenaline rush of criminal enterprises, Rooke is also a person that observes and sees people for who they are. After a chance encounter, he meets a woman that gives him pause.

“He looks beyond the surface, beyond what you might want others to see, and he delves deeper.”

Upon accidentally running into Sasha, Rooke is intrigued by this slightly older woman who appears to be reserved and professional. After retrieving the romance novel she drops, he decides to read the book to learn more about her. Determined to see her again, Rooke arrives unannounced at Sasha’s book club and makes his intentions very clear.

“I’m attracted to the dark ache in her soul, becaue it’s something I can understand. Something that feels real to me.”

To say Rooke and Sasha are opposites is an understatement. Rooke is purposeful, brash and willing to take risks. Sasha is insular, quiet and doesn’t want to disturb her routine. But when they are together, Rooke forces Sasha out of her shell while still respecting her feelings. For the first time in years, Sasha feels safe and begins to want to feel again.

“The very moment he’s all the way inside me, he’s true to his word. He flips me onto my back, a sharp, jagged-edge smile cutting across his face. Feel free to scream.”

What ensues isn’t a straight path of romance, as Rooke and Sasha endure outside elements that test their strength and dedication to each other. With Rooke, he knows without a doubt how far he will go to protect what is his. As for Sasha, being put in the position of protecting another is terrifying but ultimately she accepts what she’s always known.

While Rooke offers action, hot sex and appealing characters, the overall plot left me wanting more, as there were plot points that were slightly disjointed and not fully explored. Additionally, the speed at which Rooke and Sasha find love felt a bit quick for me. However, there are tender moments when wounds are healed and love is accepted. And, I absolutely loved Rooke’s reactions to Sasha’s romance novel.

Ultimately, Rooke offers a chance at redemption and the renewal of hope.

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Title: ROOKE

Author: Callie Hart

Genre: Romance Suspense

Type: Dual POV

Author Biography

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Callie has experienced many changes throughout her life, and gone through many ups and downs that have all worked towards shaping and moulding her into the person she is today: fun loving, active, social, and hard working. The only thing that has remained a constant throughout her life is writing. Creating characters who will tear your conscience in two is a favorite pastime of Callie’s. There are few real saints and sinners in her books; more often, the denizens of her stories are all very human. Broken, flawed, and always with the potential for redemption.

Despite the subject matter being markedly hot and heavy in comparison to the stories she wrote in elementary school, there will always be an element of fairytale to her work.

http://calliehart.com/

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CC’s Review ~ Midnight Lily by Mia Sheridan

4.5 Stars!

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Holden is professional athlete suffering from the death of his best friend. Not being able to recover, he turns to pills to numb the pain, but manages to lose hold of everything. Realizing his ways, he sets out to an isolated mountain lodge to reclaim his life unaware of the path waiting for him.

“I’d rather be someone simple, with a simple life, simple problems.”

Lily is an adventurous woman enjoying her stay in the mountains. During one of her hikes, she trails off and unexpectedly finds a troubled man. As she watches from a distance, Lily learns a little more about him but he isn’t about to just let her hide in the shadows.

“I want you just as you are. I just…I want you.”

As Lily and Holden forge a friendship, it becomes a time of discovery, trust and mutual attraction. Being patient and aware of his demons, Lily gives him the space he needs to heal in hopes that they can be together. For Holden, he clings to the strength and hope Lily gives him which makes him believe they will always find each other no matter how long it takes.

“She didn’t know it, but she had, by giving me a taste of peace, of happiness and comfort, I wanted those things. Craved them with an ache deep in my soul.”

What transpires is a story that focuses on two people battling their own ghosts and how they accept each other unconditionally despite knowing the difficulties that lay ahead. The emotional path these characters take is deeply felt, whether it involves their grief, loneliness, hope, sacrifice, acceptance and love. Told in dual POV, the reality of their lives is weighty and yet the affection they share transcends and leads to incredibly tender and loving moments.

“I wanted to be closer, to absorb all of him, to experience the shimmery feeling flowing through my veins for as long as possible.”

To say this book is full of twists and turn is an understatement. The author’s narrative ability is compelling and compassionate all the while intricately layering a complex story that unfolds at a steady pace. Part of me wanted a different life for Holden and Lily or just simply more; however, I am also comfortable with what they actually have. While reading, I had so many theories about the mysteries surrounding these characters, but it didn’t detract from the heart of the story in any way.

Ultimately, Midnight Lily is a uniquely crafted story that envelops the reader and makes one wander in possibilities. I definitely recommend to those who want to be intrigued and who are open to the unconventional.

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ARC/CC’s Review ~ Dark Protector by Celia Aaron

4 Stars! 4_stars2

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Conrad “Con” Mercer is a hitman living a solitary life.  Despite accepting his choices, Con doesn’t find much solace amidst the violence until he sees woman that quiets his mind. As he watches her from a distance, she grounds him and gives him a few moments of respite. She is his glimmer of hope and light until his world shatters such purity.

“Tell me your darkest sin, and maybe I’ll tell you one of my hundreds”


Charlie is the proprietor of a local flower shop and mainly keeps to herself for her own reasons. However, when she begins to sense she’s being watched from afar, rather being scared, she feels safe despite not knowing the man cloaked behind the car’s tinted windows. But for Charlie, experiences occur in her life for a reason and this unknown man is about to unleash a chain of events.

“Staying closed off was the only way I knew to survive. When I’d made the mistake of letting someone in, I’d paid dearly for it.”


Conrad knows having a weakness in his line of business can be disastrous because of predatory practices by his colleagues. Unknowingly bringing danger to Charlie’s doorstep, Con has no choice but to protect what he feels is his no matter the consequence. During their time together, Charlie is hesitant to trust Conrad but with limited options, she begins to realize there’s more to him than just a Kevlar protected shell of a man.

“He brought his palm to my cheek. I flinched, but he only used the pad of his thumb to wipe my tear away. “I won’t hurt you. You’re safer with me than anywhere else.”


As truths are revealed, Conrad discovers that Charlie isn’t a shrinking violet and her resilience offers an equalizing balance to their relationship. For the first time, Con begins to be hopeful for a future rather than just being resigned until his number is called. Working together, Charlie and Con try to outrun the bounty on their heads until the only option available becomes glaringly apparent.

“I made all the wrong decisions long before I found my thorny rose, and I deserved death more than most.”


With the tension of fighting a mob boss and his minions, there isn’t much time for Charlie and Conrad to rest, but the intensity of their situation stimulates the awareness of their feelings toward each other. Knowing they must live in the moment, the sexual tension they feel is palpable and when they surrender, it’s combustible.

“Say my name when you come.” I dove back down and fastened my lips around her clit, licking it with the broad side of my tongue until she froze and fractured into a million pieces.”


From the first page, the pace is swift offering vivid play-by-action leading to some serious page turning moments. As for the characters, Conrad’s bad ass persona is sexy and very alpha but knowing there is a softer side to him, adds to his appeal. With Charlie, on the surface she seems like a softie but being able to hold her own really strengthens her character. Additionally, with both willing to sacrifice for each other, shows just how self-less they can be. In addition, Conrad’s friend, Nate, is a worthy character and deserves a mention. His humor and easy going ways made him a standout and really balanced Conrad’s intensity.

As I’ve said before, Celia Aaron is a natural born story-teller gifted with the ability to stylistically craft the written word. Each time I read one of her books, I’m amazed at her range, creativity and skill. In Dark Protector, Ms. Aaron invents a world where two characters would unlikely merge but then shows how everyone deserves a second or even third chance. For those looking for a suspenseful romance, I highly recommend Dark Protector.

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

*This was a (F)BR with Twinsie Hawkey and Lonestar Liz!

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Title: Dark Protector

Author: Celia Aaron

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: February 27, 2017

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4-stars

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With an uninterrupted timeline, Throne of Truth begins with Elle’s discovery of Penn’s lies and the tension of her newly precarious situation. Applying the tenacity she employs in the board room, Elle realizes she must fight for justice and to use her resources to aid such a cause despite the implications to her family or the business.

“I’d wanted him from the first moment I met him. I wanted him now I knew the truth.”


As his nightmare comes true, Penn’s resolve is tested. As he trusts those who have proven their worth, Penn slowly begins to withdraw to a place where he can survive on a basic level. In trying to spare Elle, Penn’s selfless quality shines abundantly. Adding to Penn’s dimension, the harshness of his past is revealed and these scenes offer a stark contrast to the illuminating and precious moments he shared with Elle years ago.

“But if you are asking who I am? How can I tell you? How can I make you see what you don’t want to see?”


With certain truths exposed, there is a deep understanding by Elle of Penn’s former lifestyle and how it influenced his choices thereafter. Even with the union of Elle and Pen, the tension remains high due to the miscarriage of justice. But, this time Elle chooses to make the right decisions and matures into her own by acting the way she should have years ago.

“No more secrets. No more lies. You fuck me knowing entirely what you’re getting into.”


I enjoyed Penn and empathized with how deeply he felt his emotions, whether it was love, anger, betrayal or respect. Additionally, I liked the dynamic of his friendship with Larry and the noble reasons for raising Stewie. As for Elle, she remained a weak element for me for not trusting her instincts sooner. Granted she is young, but I was hoping for more of a change for Belle Elle’s CEO. Ultimately, she took the right path and became her own person.

In this duet series, Pepper Winters takes two characters from different worlds and experiences and shows the commonality they share, as they are desperately willing to fight for each other. There were moments where Penn’s intensity for Elle was palpable, as I loved the letters written by Penn to Elle and the element of intimacy and adoration that was evident. Though the tone was meant to feel reflective throughout out the book, the pacing felt slow and a bit superfluous at times. Overall, this is a story of sacrifice, love and redemption.

Truth and Lies Duet:
Crown of Lies (Truth and Lies Duet, #1) by Pepper Winters Throne of Truth (Truth and Lies Duet, #2) by Pepper Winters

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

*This was an ARC (F)BR with the Shhluts!!

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ARC/CC’s Review ~ Ripple Effect (Episode 2) by Keri Lake

4.5 Stars!!  

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Fueled by her circumstances and knowing it’s a risky move, Dylan’s desperation takes her right into the epicenter of Rip’s web. Upon being caught, Rip gives her a choice to which she begrudgingly accepts. Battling her own demons, Dylan resigns herself to the next two months under Rip’s rules, otherwise suffer the consequences.

“Your sweet innocence is like a drug. One I want to abuse until there’s nothing left but the painful withdrawals and a craving to fuck you again.”


While Ripley isn’t the type to invite guests into his home or life, Dylan intrigues him on a few levels and he wants some answers from her. In addition, Rip wants her to satisfy his certain sexual needs. Knowing she is attracted to what he offers, Rip doesn’t waste time or make excuses for what he wants which leads to some electrifyingly hot moments. Ooh la la!

“What I can’t get anywhere is a feisty little shit like you who gets my blood hot.” He pushes a strand of hair behind my ear. “I want you to feel everything I do to you.”

In this episode the pace continues to be steady with suspenseful and sexually charged elements but there’s also introspection into the past for Rip and Dylan. Getting Rip’s perspective as to how he views his past and future is enlightening into his character. Plus, with Dylan more is revealed about her childhood underscoring her need to detach.

“Fear is good, though. It’s fear that gives you the courage to survive.”


For me, this series is addictive with multilayered tension, gripping dialogue and two flawed characters trying to survive in their own way. The writing is edgy, persuasive and I cannot wait to read more of this series!! I highly recommend Ripple Effect!!

*An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

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4.25 Stars!

Maggie Crow was raised by her stern father and two older brothers in an isolated small town. Knowing from a young age that her childhood was abnormal, she obeyed and learned to lie in order to protect her family despite the horrors that surrounded her. At 18 years of age, she is about to learn what her father has planned but fate is about to deal her a different hand.

“When all you have is the worst of the lot, the worst becomes your normal because it’s all you’ve ever known.”


Elliot McLoughlin married his childhood sweetheart and started a family at a young age; however, tragedy struck which led Elliot down a dark path where he couldn’t recover from the loss. Fourteen years later, Elliot’s heart is still full of vengeance and he’s determined to find who is responsible for his pain. With a plan, he’s ready to act despite the possibility of collateral damage.

“Put in the simplest terms, I was damaged. I was broken. I had nothing left to lose, which made me the most dangerous type of man.”


As Elliot begins to execute his plan, he befriends Maggie and their union leads to complications, passion and further deception. Not revealing his suspicions or motivations, Maggie’s naivety adds to Elliot’s dilemma but he isn’t willing to modify his end game. While Maggie is trying to hide her own secrets, she can’t help to feel safe with Elliot.

“I liked to think I’d given her three things her family never could: I’d given her freedom. I’d given her choice. And I’d given her hope.”


With more at stake, truths surface one by one and Elliot and Maggie are tested in different ways. Seeing Maggie struggle with her loyalties and the knowledge she resisted for so long is compelling and leads to a range of emotions. For Elliot, his grief is monumental and as he gets closer to those responsible, the level of risk is ever increasing as his will is put to the test.

“If ever two souls had been fused together through violence, despair and pain, it was Elliot and I.”


From the beginning, the tensions are high due to the heinous acts committed and the desperation felt for Elliot’s vengeance. Adding to the conflict are the emotions that build between Elliot and Maggie. While their relationship is unconventional in one aspect, it also makes sense as these two lost souls find strength in each other thereby creating an intense journey.

For me, it felt natural to empathize with the depth of Elliot’s pain and the lengths he would take to find peace. It was also interesting to read how far Elliot was willing to go – emotionally and physically – to achieve his end goal. In contrast, it was harder to understand Maggie’s decisions but her vulnerabilities and inner strength ultimately led her to the right place.

In Four Crows, Lily White successfully creates a narrative steeped in tension, evil, fear, loss and redemption. Expect to feel angry, sad, helpless, empowered and hopeful. I recommend to those who enjoy their books with a dose of darkness about the human condition!

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

*This was a (F)BR with Twinsie Hawkey and Loyda!!*

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Amazon: http://bit.ly/2log9jj

B&N: goo.gl/OBjbc1

iBooks: goo.gl/lP39D9

Kobo: goo.gl/muQNrQ

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ARC/CC’s Review ~ Black Hearts by Karina Halle

4.5 Stars!

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Violet McQueen is a photography student who always felt like all wasn’t what it seemed within her family. Having been labeled as a sensitive person, it was easy to feel self-conscience and she learned to distrust her instincts. It isn’t until she meets a mysterious man when all she’s been wondering about comes into question.

“Your not just rebellious, you’re part of the rebellion.”


Vicente Bernal is the second in command in his father’s drug cartel. Determined to get his answers to the questions he seeks, Vicente heads to California in hopes of digging up a hidden past. With his own motivations, Vicente’s plan is straightforward until unforeseen circumstances begin modify his timeline and his target.

“But I’m sure you of all people would know that sometimes you can connect with someone in ways you didn’t think you could. Or should.”


When Vicente and Violet meet, it isn’t a coincidence because in their world, coincidences do not exist. However, despite their “chance” encounter, the pull between them is palpable and Vicente is prepared to use it to his advantage. But what he doesn’t expect is Violet’s honesty and willingness to share her vulnerability, as that can cause dire consequences in Vicente’s world.

“You need to be in the moment, with me. That’s all there needs to be. The world won’t disappear the moment you stop holding on to it.”


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As they continue to get closer, Vicente’s sexual intensity and appearance of safety serves to offer an escape from Violet’s mind-spinning thoughts. While Violet isn’t inexperienced, Vicente introduces her to a new world where she enjoys being in the moment of pleasure mixed with some pain which leads to some hot scenes.

“I gulp for air and dig my heels into him, holding on tight as he slowly pushes deeper and deeper inside. My hands grab the back of his neck, feeing the strength in his straining muscles.”


Told in multiple POVs, the plot unfolds in a steady pace allowing the characters to build dimensionality. While Vicente is influenced by his upbringing, he is still very much his own individual character and is driven to prove such is the case. With Violet, she is also a product of her parents, but Violet sets herself apart in asserting her strength and also embracing her weaknesses. Adding to their experiences are the secrets that have been kept hidden over the years, but there those who wish to expose all for their own gain.

With the timeline occurring twenty years after the Sins & Needles and Dirty Angels series ends, the integration of well-known characters with the new generation feels seamless. Though it isn’t necessary to read Sins & Needles or Dirty Angels before reading Black Hearts, those schooled in the history of the McQueens and the Bernals will probably have a richer experience. For me, being reacquainted with my king, Javier Bernal, is pure bliss and I’m very pleased as to how he relates to the storyline. As always, Karina Halle stays true to her characters and her ability to engage her readers at multiple levels prevails in her newest release.

Black Hearts is a story about how lies and deceit can protect and harm those you love. I highly recommend!!

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ARC/CC’s Review ~ Ripple Effect (Ripple Effect #1) by Keri Lake

4.5 Stars!!

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From a young age, Rip learned how to survive and hone his predatory skills making him a sought after mercenary. Following his own set of rules and living a solitary life, Rip surprises himself after meeting a certain girl caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Every decision you make affects every moment that follows…”

Dylan Westrick is just a few weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday, counting the days before she can leave her abusive and low-life foster parents in the dust. However, the odds change and Dylan must deal with her new circumstance. Faced with a limited amount of options, she finds herself stuck in an inescapable situation.

“The game changed. The fairy tale morphed into ugly and terrifying, yet all of my senses are out of whack.”

Told in dual POV, a dark tone is set with a swift pace and vivid storytelling that lured me in from the beginning. From what is revealed in this episode, Rip and Dylan have interesting stories to tell and how their paths cross is quite intriguing. Sharing an inexplicable mutual attraction, Rip and Dylan are entangled in a web that is about to cause a ripple effect.

I am definitely hooked on this series and cannot wait to read what happens next! I highly recommend!

Note: Ripple Effect Series will contain 5 episodes in total.

About Keri Lake:

Author of dark, edgy paranormal romance & urban fantasy~Vengeance dealer-Demon wrangler~Creator of badass, whip-wielding females-Sucker for brooding alphas.

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*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

*This was a (F)BR with Twinsie Hawkey, Loyda and Liz!

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CC’s Review ~ Thanos (Masters Among Monsters, #3) by Ella Frank

3.75 Stars!

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Thanos Agapiou is the first sired vampire of the Ancient, Eton. During their centuries together, they’ve shared a tumultuous relationship fueled by a dark side. While they have been a source of salvation for each other at times, Eton is no longer able to pierce Thanos’ reclusive shield. During this torment, the beast within Eton lurks and the one person who could keep this demon at bay is no longer willing to give himself.

“You will be mine to protect and mine to fight beside. We will carry each other when one’s burden is too heavy. And if your blood is ever spilled, I will be the one to avenge it.”

Despite how much Eton and Thanos struggle, there are larger forces at play manipulating the game. As the ongoing plot of curses and fate continues, the Greek gods Apollo, Artemis and Hades have summoned a trio of humans to bring forth their wishes of exterminating the entire vampire species. Until now, the third human’s purpose was unknown but as he is recognized to be Paris Antoniou, the key to it all rests with his connection to Thanos and Eton.

“Everything is changing. We are changing, and I wonder how that can possibly end with any of us remaining the same.”

With Eton’s demon on the loose, the remaining Ancients, Vasilios and Diomêdês, and their first sired progeny, Alasdair and Isadora, try to save Eton and Thanos while also trying to determine how they can protect themselves against the will of the gods. The chosen humans, Leonidas, Elias and Paris, all play a pivotal role as to how the story unfolds and they all question whether their fate has been foretold.

“Don’t you see? You are our destruction – but for me, you will be my salvation.”

In this book, I was hoping to read much more about the trials and tribulations of Thanos, Eton and Paris, as these three have a powerful dark side that could have been explored with a deeper intensity. Perhaps, that was a purposeful choice by the author given certain elements, but it still would have elevated the character development of Thanos and Paris equal to their counterparts. Having really enjoyed the entire series, the ending felt rushed given the sacrifice and complexity of events but maybe the reader is meant to feel the shift as suddenly as the characters.

From the beginning, the pace is swift with a well-choreographed cast of characters that offer layers of dimension to a unique and intelligent story combining the paranormal and Greek mythology. Ultimately, the Masters Among Monsters series delivers a compelling tale about compassion, sacrifice and salvation and delves into the age-old question of whether fate can be altered. I recommend to those who wish to escape into a world where anything can happen.

Masters Among Masters series:

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CC’s Review ~ Taking Turns by J.A. Huss

4 Stars! 

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Marcella “Chella” Walcott is a gallery manager searching to fulfill her darkest and most suppressed fantasy. Believing she’s found a way to make it happen, she’s thrust into a dynamic that has many rules but the temptation is just too much to resist despite her own trepidations.

“We’re all dirty here. Be dirty with us, Chella…”


In addition to Chella, there are three other deviant players in this game of lust: Smith Baldwin the eccentric philanthropist, Elias “Bric” Bricman the logical dominant and Quin Foster the warm and fuzzy marketing executive. These men have been friends for some time and share a common bond in their need for certain sexual activities. Each has his own role to play so there can be more than one winner.

“It’s carnal, and sensual, and erotic… That’s all it is. A small trip into the dark.”


As Chella agrees to be a player, the rules are slowly revealed and she realizes just how complicated it might be. Taking turns with Smith, Quin and Bric, she learns more about each of them and their own sexual proclivities. While feeling like she is a part of them, the attraction builds as it is leading to the big moment where they all come together as a whole.

“Then let’s do it,” I say, kissing her softly again. “Put them both in your mouth, Chella. Suck them. At the same time.”


What ensues between these four daring people is alluring, sexy and mysterious. However, there are questions that remain concerning the one person who brought these four characters together. As the foursome dynamic starts to shift, it becomes clear one of these dashing men have true feelings for Chella. While he lives by his own rules, he learns that some rules are meant to be broken. But it takes more than one person to break free in order to fully move forward.

“If you want to go dark, then don’t take a light, right?”


As soon as I started reading Taking Turns, I remembered how easily she weaves a web where anything can happen at any moment! At times, it felt like the story was emitting synapses filled with electricity and other times, I was anxiously waiting for that pulsing connection. The premise is certainly intriguing and the alternating perspectives between these four characters created a voice for each one, but I was hoping to get a little more about these mysterious men. As the plot pivots in a certain direction, I was interested to see how it would translate outside of the quartet. With the ending, the plot is fairly resolved (not leaving a huge cliffy) but more answers are to be revealed in the second book in this series.

Overall, I enjoyed the lusty moments and the originality of this story. For those interested in taking a dip into the kinky pool, I recommend Taking Turns.

The Turning Series is a duet:
1.  Taking Turns   2. Turning Back

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CC’s ARC Review ~ BANE by D H Sidebottom

4 Action Packed Stars!!

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Milly Evans is a dedicated assistant to Geoffrey Sparrow, owner of Sparrow Towers. After eight years with Sparrow, and feeling like it is her family, she feels like her own secrets can be locked away for good. However, after she witnesses her boss’ murder, Milly’s world is turned upside down and she is forced to confront her past in order to get answer in the present.

“It’s time for the truth, Rik Bane.”


Rik Bane is the silent partner of Warne Industries and one of the new owners of Sparrow Towers. During the transition, Rik is aloof but he is also aware of various dynamics and dangers that have forced his hand. As he takes the lead, he is fully aware of Milly’s expected reaction to meeting him but it doesn’t prevent what’s already been set in motion.

“I searched the fucking earth for you. You were my best friend, and you just upped and fucking left.”


As Milly’s new life is shattered, she must embrace her new knowledge and work with Rik to protect herself and those she still trusts. While Rik is under the impression he is fully in the know, he learns that he’s met his match professionally and romantically.

“Come for me babe. I want to see how fucking stunning you look when you come for me. You have no idea how many times I’ve pictured you coming for me, and on me.”


What ensues in Bane is action packed with a multi-layered plot involving greed and an underground spy network. At first, I thought this story was going to take a different direction but when it turned into a web of deceit and avarice, my interest intensified.

Milly is a character that battled nature versus nurture and I liked how the two sides were at war from within. Learning how to merge these opposites was intriguing to read and I admired her tenacity to protect those she loved. With Rik, I liked him immediately and understood how deep the connection ran between him and Milly. Of course, Rik had that sexy and effortless swagger that makes women swoon but there is more to him that just being a hot piece.

D.H. Sidebottom shows her range of writing in Bane, as it isn’t dark erotica but covers dark elements of the human psyche. The plot is loaded with twists and turns that kept me intrigued and in a constant search for all the answers. I also appreciated the funny moments between the main characters. Adding to Milly and Rik were a secondary cast of characters that enriched the plot and supported the complex story line. Though, there are still some parts that I wanted to be resolved, the narrative was entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

For those seeking a book with suspense, action and a second chance at romance, I highly recommend!

*An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

*This was a (F)BR with Twinsie Hawkey and Loyda!

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CC’s Review ~ Crown of Lies by Pepper Winters

4.25 Stars!

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Noelle “Elle” Charleston is an heiress trained from a young age to take over her family’s business. Always the good girl and only knowing work for during her entire teen years, Elle decides to venture off for one night on her nineteenth birthday, but her life changes when she has a traumatic experience.

“I’m someone you can be free with.”


Penn Everett is a mysterious figure that appears in Elle’s life at a time when she wants to feel like a woman and less like a CEO. Exuding confidence, dominance and sex appeal, he effortlessly asserts himself in a way that is hard to ignore.

“You’ve been mine since the moment we met, and you’ll stay mine until I let you go.”


As Penn invites Elle to play a game, she is eager to surrender her body to him and Penn is more than capable of offering all she can imagine. The sexual tension between them is combustible and Elle willingly pushes Penn in an effort to be on the receiving end of his domination. What ensues are sizzling hot encounters between Penn and Elle!

“His hand cupped my cheek, holding me tight. “I’ll strip you, taste you, devour you. I’ll eat, lick, and bite you. And only once you’re begging will I fuck you.”


As Penn and Elle continue their dance, Penn isn’t sure how much he wishes to share with Elle. Trying to find the perfect moment is a challenge but the path they are taking is going to lead to many answers.

“Careful what you wish for, Elle. Sometimes, secrets make things better not worse.”


With the circumstances that affect Elle’s life, she is an interesting character – intelligent, business savvy yet she is also naïve and craves the connection that she’s been looking for over the years. Penn delivers in such a way that his secrets and known actions add to his allure and all his interactions with Elle are intense.

In Crown of Lies, the tone is mysterious with dark undertones. From the first page, the pace is swift and the plot is suspenseful with twists and turns that kept me enthralled. Of course, in true Pepper Winters fashion, the narrative is captivating the words effortless flow off the page. For those seeking a story with heat, allure and mystery, I highly recommend this book!!

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

*This was a (F)BR with the Shhluts!

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CC’s Review ~ Drowning by Marni Mann and Gia Riley

4 Stars!!  

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Andi Harper is a gentle-hearted woman caught in an abusive relationship. Fearing for her life, she takes a giant step forward to leave that environment. While on the run, she meets someone who shows kindness but Andi needs honesty in order to find her own truth.

“Though scared of her own shadow, she took each breath with purpose because she knew she might be robbed of her next one.”


Clay is a man on the run from his past. While trying to hide the best he can, he tries to find ways he can reveal the truth and regain his old life. Feeling like his fate is sealed, he is thrust into a situation where he can protect someone else and still feel like he has something to give.

“Now, as I sit here, about to morph into someone new, my biggest fear is letting her down.”


The circumstance that brings Andi and Clay together is unexpected but they find a commonality in their bond. Learning how to trust each other, they are able to gain new strength and hope. For Andi, she is trying to recover from physical and emotional pain and live with her constant fear but finding solace in Clay keeps her grounded. Despite Andi experiencing such abuse, she is still able to trust Clay and their mutual respect for each other leads deep attraction and sexual tension.

“I want to taste her wetness on my tongue, to feel it on my lips, to have it soak in my fucking beard.”


From the first page, the tension is high knowing what Andi and Clay are running from. Reading how Andi was treated stirred deep emotions and it made her healing so much more admirable. Knowing how she is willing to fight for herself and for Clay proved how forgiving and kind Andi’s character could be. The ever-looming doom Clay must face is omnipresent but when he given the choice to protect a loved one, he knows what his decision must be.

“Life doesn’t have to take one direct path toward happiness.”


Told in dual POV, the character dimensionality is clear and the paths they take feel natural and not rushed. In this collaboration between Marni Mann and Gia Riley, the narrative is seamless and the strength of each author is evident. The burdens these characters experience are heavy but they are balanced and ultimately yield to honesty, strength and love.

For those looking for a story full of action, emotion, friendship and love, I highly recommend Drowning!

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CC’s Review ~ Mists of the Serengeti

6+ Stars!

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Rodel “Ro” Emerson is a teacher in England. While she is content with her life, she’s always lived vicariously through her uninhibited and spontaneous sister. However, when Ro receives news of her sister’s death in Tanzania, she is confronted with regret and grief. Off to put her sister to rest, Ro journeys to Africa in hopes of finding solace but finds much more than she had ever imagined.

“The most profound, most memorable moments of life are the ones that make you feel. And that’s what I’ve been missing. The feeling of being alive.”

Jack Warden is a coffee farmer and divorced father in Tanzania. Being a strong man comes easy to Jack until his daughter is tragically killed. Grieving as he only knows how, Jack is tortured by his loss and wants to preserve every memory and moment he shared with his little girl. It isn’t until a woman asking for help arrives at his ranch and turns his world upside down.

“Trust me. Some things are better left in the dark, where they belong.”

Sharing the commonality of their loss, Jack and Rodel unite for a cause hoping they can make a small difference. During this time, they realize how honest they are with each other by not trying to hide behind the mask of grief. As friendship buds, Jack and Ro are aware of their attraction and it is palpable beyond belief! To say Jack is a hunk is putting it mildly! When they succumb to their desires, it is hot, romantic and perfect!!

“Last chance, sweetness. I’ve never wanted anyone the way I want you. So if you’re having second thoughts, now’s the time, because in a little while I’m going to take you, gently at first, and then to all kinds of dark, delicious places.”

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Caught in their own adventure, Jack and Rodel face danger at every turn. Knowing what is at stake, they selflessly put the needs of others ahead of their own. For Jack, his actions provide the second chance he so desperately seeks, and for Rodel, she learns just how resilient and adaptable she can be when facing adversity. Ultimately, their choices lead them to a place where sacrifice is no longer a question.

“In a thousand lives, I would die a thousand deaths to save her.”

From the beginning, you could feel the grief these characters shared yet hope, strength and love filled all the cracks and made their foundations even stronger. The entrenched cultural themes underscored the contrasts and similarities between communities and countries yet these elements added to the significance of the journey. Furthermore, with such a richly crafted plot, the secondary characters add value and dimensionality to Jack and Rodel. Goma is a stand out for her sage observations and resolve, while Bahati adds comic relief and his own battle for acceptance.

Mists of the Serengeti is an incredible story of endearing characters with a compelling plot and impeccable story-telling. With every element coming together like a perfectly conducted symphony, Leylah Attar pens a beautiful love story about healing and courage. I highly recommend this book!

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

*This was a (F)BR with the Shhluts!

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CC’s Review ~ Three by E.S. Carter

4 Stars!!

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At 23 years old, Liam Fox-Williams is going through the motions but his heart and passion remain unfulfilled. While in art school, Liam fell in love with his slightly older teacher, but circumstances prevented them from being together. Never knowing the real answer for his rejection, Liam remains solemn until he returns home to England and has a chance encounter with the one that got away.

“Sometimes it’s not the people who change, it’s that their mask has fallen off.”


Cari Pritchard is an art school teacher with many responsibilities. Never having regrets about what she shared with Liam, she has her reasons for not burdening him with the obligations of her life. However, now that years have passed, it’s time for Cari to be truthful about her feelings and past decision.

“My life wasn’t my own. It wasn’t fair to make him take on my burdens.”


With resolve, Liam pursues Cari and the answers to questions he’s rehearsed in his mind for too many years. Not prepared for the actual truth, Liam is relieved and fortified when Cari shares her true feelings and the reasons behind her actions. As such, it becomes abundantly clear that Liam and Cari are still very much in love with each other. What ensues is a sweet story with Liam showing how much of a tender and big heart he has to share.

“You are my suit of love, I’m a better man when I’m with you.”


In Three, the romance and connection is strengthened by two people who come to understand the complexities of raising a child with autism. While this disorder is still not completely understood and is subjective to each individual, the plot brings awareness to this condition. Additionally, the the challenges and rewards Liam and Cari experience enrich their character dimension and the story progression.

Told in dual POV, we experience the vulnerabilities and strengths of Liam and Cari. I admired Cari’s tenacity to assume sole responsibility but once she realized someone else can be just as committed and loving, the partnership that develops is touching. With Liam, he proves to have a heart of gold. The overall tone of this second chance at romance story is sweet, loving and without any angst. This is the first book I’ve read by E.S. Carter and look forward to reading more of her work.

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CC’s Review ~ Love in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre

3.5 Stars

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Kate Martin is hired as the Creative Director to save Marks Lingerie. Having such an opportunity is dream come true for Kate, but working directly under her new sexy boss may be more of a distraction that she could have imagined.

“According to industry rumors, he’s never been married, fucks like an animal, and has a mouth like my shower massager.”


Trey Marks is a playboy with a sinful smirk and gorgeous bod who believes monogamy is not for him but saving his company becomes priority one. Working with Kate becomes a constant test of restraint for Trey, as his company has a strict non-fraternization policy.

“In five minutes, I could make her mine. In ten minutes, she’d be calling me her god.”


As time passes, it becomes clear that Trey and Kate work well together but their attraction is more than just professional colleagues. While Trey is quite open and flirtatious with Kate, she tries to maintain a certain decorum in the office and to keep her lustful feelings for him at bay but she can’t help but to compare all men to him.

“It’s strange, seeing him in this role, seeing the tenderness come through all of the layers of playboy. How he sweeps a loose tendril of her hair and tucks it into her braid.”


While Trey and Kate have many lust worthy moments, the chase is a long one yielding to obstacles along the way. When Trey finally reveals his hand, there’s no turning back for them yet Kate’s reaction isn’t exactly the one he had hoped. After realizing their mistakes and missed opportunities, Trey and Kate are more willing to embrace what they’ve known all along.

“Are you sure you want that? For me to well and truly fuck you?”


I admired Kate’s work ethic and Trey’s professional drive. Though, I still wanted Kate and Trey to take more tangible steps toward a romantic connection sooner. At times, the story felt choppy due to the passages of time and chapters that felt a bit too cursory; however, the overall tone was flirty, romantic with some moments of angst. My favorite moments were the comparisons between lingerie and life.

Love in Lingerie is about two people trying to succeed in love and life.

*This was a (F)BR with the Shhluts!

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CC’s Review ~ Sugar Daddies by Jade West

4.25 Stars!

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Katie Smith was raised by her single mother in a loving and nurturing environment. Never feeling like she was lacking in love or material goods, Katie learned to work hard for her successes despite being rejected by her father. But when she is presented with a financial problem, Katie is determined to save a place important to her heart and dreams.

“Now I want to live for me.”


Carl Brooks and Rick Warner are in a relationship but are two opposites; the former being exacting and the latter being easy-going. Though content in their lives, they are seeking a third person to complete their trio. After meeting Katie on sugardaddies.com, it’s time to see if Katie is all they dreamed she would be.

“And now that we’re all here, in the same room, is it still your fantasy? How about it, Katie, do we measure up to your fantasy?”


As Katie makes a commitment to Carl and Rick, it’s a means to an ends – extra money to secure her goal, but she is also honest about fulfilling her own sexual fantasies. From the start, Katie feels a connection with both men even if she’s a bit intimidated by Carl and his dominating presence. As they ease her into this relationship of double pleasure, it is nothing less than panty melting hot. While Carl and Rick are always ready to push stretch the limits, Katie isn’t a shrinking violet and is ready to receive everything they offer.

“…I want to be full of you, both of you … I want to be dripping… I want to be all filled up.”


In addition to many hot times, the plot is balanced and also concentrates on the complexities of Katie’s relationship with her father and finding her own way. Reading how Carl becomes an integral element in this transition, also adds depth to Carl’s past and relates to his own needs for a future with Katie and Carl. Coming full circle, Katie persevered and gained so much more than she expected.

“You have nobody doubting you, nobody trying to knock you down, or see you fail. The only person you have to prove anything to is you…”


Told in dual POV, it was insightful to understand the perspectives of Katie and Carl – the two more complex characters; however, Rick’s role in this book is equally vital to the progression of this threesome and his lovable ways warmed the pages. While there is no doubt that Jade is the Mistress of Kink, she also crafts multi-dimensional characters with compelling plotlines. For me, I always know I can immerse myself into her book and feel like I’ve known her characters all along. With narratives and dialogue that flows, it’s easy to relate to the range of emotions these characters feel. Oh, and I loved how the Carl and Rick were with Samson.

Sugar Daddies offers some smoking hot scenes but also renders a tender story about overcoming hurdles in order to become a stronger and better person. I highly recommend!

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CC’s Review ~ Call Me Daddy by Jade West

4.25 Stars! 

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Laine Seaborne is an eighteen year old who always worked hard for the little she had in her life. While out celebrating her birthday, Laine is put in a precarious situation where she must fend again for herself until a stranger decides to intervene.

“How could I ever be scared of a man who saved me?”

Nick Lynch is a successful accountant comfortable with his brand of kink. Having given up on love some years ago, he’s chosen to maintain a private life but still needs to indulge his deviant side. When he meets a young blonde in trouble, he realizes this may be the opportunity he’s been waiting for.

“You’re such a good girl, Laine,” he tells me, and my heart lifts for him. “I’m going to take care of you. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”

Although they are from different worlds, Nick and Laine seem to ease into a quick friendship and forge a unique bond. Being a man of means, Nick is able to easily offer comfort, safety and necessities to Laine but it doesn’t undermine the kindness of his gestures or the deep pleasure he feels from taking care of her. For the first time, Laine feels secure, loved and also desired in a way she could never have imagined.

“I think you’re a dirty little girl.” I smile a dirty smile, and I can’t control the beast. I can’t fight the dark urges that want to consume her, soil her, corrupt her, break her and make her mine.”

“Call me Daddy,” I growl. “You can call me Daddy.”

While Laine was quite innocent sexually, she eagerly took to Nick’s Daddy kink and craved it as much as he did. Learning to be Daddy’s girl was very hot with Nick showing his mastery and Laine trying to please in every way.

“You have the prettiest little pussy, Laine. Daddy wants to see you all full up with his cum.”

This was my first foray in reading daddy kink and I knew Jade West would be the perfect author to pop my cherry! Her character portrayals felt grounded and dimensional and I liked how Nick gave Laine the space to mature into the woman she wanted to be. Getting to know Nick up close and personal was so hot and I was glad to see he was able to break his shell. Recognizing his own issues, Nick and Laine found a true balance between their love and didn’t compromise their sexual preferences either.

Call Me Daddy offers dirty, kinky fun but also offers a story about acceptance. For those curious about Daddy kink, I highly recommend Call Me Daddy!

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Break My Shell  by K.A. Merikan

4-stars
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Dayton is a meek receptionist at a struggling hotel in Montana. Having grown up in this small town, he experienced hatred and intolerance as a teen when he was outed for gay. Since then, Dayton learned to keep to himself in an effort to avoid any other confrontations or unwanted attention. Living alone with his cat, Cinnamon, Dayton has dreams but doesn’t believe he’ll ever be able to escape this small town and live as he wishes.

“You gotta risk a bit if you want results.”


Max is a former professional boxer who was incarcerated for three years. During this time, Max and Dayton corresponded providing friendship and comfort to each other and knowing why Max was imprisoned made Dayton feel as though heroes actually existed. Upon being freed, Max makes a surprise trip to finally meet Dayton and that is when the unexpected happens.

“No one had ever kissed him the way Max had, and no one had ever fucked him with such ferocity.”


The initial introduction between Dayton and Max is quite explosive as they enact one of the many fantasies they exchanged in their letters. It’s clear they share passion, but Dayton is insecure about what he can really offer a man like Max. In Dayton’s eyes, Max is everything he cannot be – brave, outspoken and strong – yet as they begin to know each other, Dayton soon realizes the balance he brings to their relationship. For Dayton, this realization comes at an emotional price when he must confront his biggest fears.

“Sometimes, people show their true face at the first sign of trouble. I just wish you hadn’t had to go through it all.”


Break My Shell offers a sincere and realistic depiction of how intolerance can be oppressive until it’s no longer accepted. With Dayton, he needed one person in his life to believe in him and when Max was willing to defend Dayton at any cost, it triggered a deep change for the better. Despite Max being portrayed as the stronger character, he certainly wasn’t immune to anti-gay sentiments by family and strangers and he paid dearly for his actions but just in a different way than Dayton.

Dayton is a quiet, good hearted and relatable character. Reading how his boss and others constantly took advantage was frustrating but Day’s reasoning for allowing this treatment made me sad for him. Once Dayton took ownership of his life, it was a relief to feel his happiness, acceptance and sense of hope. Max provided a good balance with his no-nonsense approach but even with his tough guy exterior, Max always showed reverence to Dayton.

While this book offers filthy hot sex, it is also grounded in real life struggles and how one can find the strength to be true to himself and others. This is the second book I’ve read by K.A. Merikan and I continue to enjoy their style of writing – genuine, sexy and provocative. If you’re looking for an endearing M/M story, I recommend!

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Soul Avenged (Sons of Wrath #1) ~ By Keri Lake

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Posted on January 10, 2017

Soul Avenged (Sons of Wrath #1) ~ by Keri Lake

4 Stars!

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Ayden is an Alexi super soldier created to fight the Lycan race of wolves. Though fully human at one time, she no longer has any memories of her previous life. Upon hunting Lycans with the Alexi since her transition, Ayden rebelled against the General and is seeking her own vengeance against those who took her human life. Seeking the help of the Wrath demons, Ayden is on the verge of uncovering what’s been hidden for so long but when Ayden comes into contact with a Halfling, she begins to question everything.

“You know, as humans, we’re allowed to feel. It’s what separates us from inanimate objects. It’s okay if the memories made you … feel something again.”


Kane Walker is a director at a Children’s Cancer Institute. Upon leaving work one evening, he is attacked and bitten by a Lycan (wolf) but instead of taking him as their own, Kane is left in his Halfling state and found by Ayden. While Ayden typically wouldn’t have any trouble killing a Lycan in cold blood, a transference of memories occurs between Kane and Ayden causing immediate shock. Needing to discover how and what it all means, Ayden takes Kane hostage in an effort to get more information before Kane becomes a full-fledged Lycan but Kane also learns more than he expected.

“Finally, a woman who seized his attention, set his body aflame, and made him want to piece her puzzling complexities together—the same one who’d be severing his head. What a cruel paradox.”


During Kane’s transformation period, Ayden openly shows her disdain for Kane’s new Lycan identity and declares she will be the one to extinguish his life upon his full transformation. However, Kane isn’t a man driven by greed or immorality and his easy and lovable personality starts to wear on Ayden, as she didn’t expect him to accept his demise with such honor and selflessness. As they forge a friendship and more, Ayden’s memories become clearer and her vulnerability is tested yet Kane remains a constant strength by encouraging her to accept the truth and pain.

“Because I feel something for you. And I’d hate for you not to know how fucking fantastic it feels. Even if I die today, I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”


Adding to the complexity between Ayden and Kane are the surrounding forces at play. The General of the Alexi is intent on getting Ayden back under his command and continues to plot against the Lycans for his own gain. After going AWOL, Ayden hired the Wrath demons to find those responsible for her lost life and as more details are uncovered, the demon brothers are posturing to fulfill their contract obligations. However, with unexpected complications the action becomes tense with so much at stake.

“No species is spared,” she muttered. “We’re all victims of something bigger, aren’t we?”


In this book, the paranormal world is layered with different species – humans, hybrids, demons, beasts, succubi, etc. – that offer nuances within their own life forms. With many secondary characters in this story, the foundation takes some time to establish but once it takes hold, the pace is swift. I enjoyed all the character relationship dynamics, as each character had clearly definable traits that enhanced the plot direction. With the Sons of Wrath brothers, it certainly begs the question about each getting their own books within this series but I absolutely loved Gavin and hope he gets what he’s been seeking for centuries. Of course, Ayden was a kickass heroine that I won’t forget.

Overall, Keri Lake’s writing style is energetic and fresh yielding to a layered plot steeped in fraternity, acceptance, love and truth. For those who wish to get lost in a supernatural world, I recommend Soul Avenged.

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Her Master’s Teacher (Masters #2) by Lily White

Posted on January 4, 2017

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~4.5 Stars~

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Claire Elliot is a psychologist and college professor. Upon assigning a research paper on the subject of Stockholm syndrome, Claire sets to take her Spring break vacation in the sun but a certain student has his own method of conducting research for his homework.

“I believe, and this is just my theory, that if a person is able to understand the mechanics of how Stockholm works, a person can take steps to prevent it from occurring within them if they find themselves in an abusive or captive situation.”

Holland Strong is a psychology major but college isn’t his only education, as he is training to be a Master under an ultra secret society of men who are engaged human sex slavery. Upon receiving a new order for a courtesan, Holland sets his sights on his teacher, Ms. Elliot, knowing she will be a challenge to train.

“She was mine to play with for the next month, at least, and I swore to myself that I’d have her in every way possible.”

Upon being abducted, Claire is thrust into a world where submission and service is her only priority. Relying on her experience and knowledge, Claire tries to forge a connection with her captors in the hopes that she can escape their cruelty only to be punished for her tactics. Trying to retain her sense of self becomes difficult with the constant physical and psychological pain and degradation.

 “I wanted to be the man who eventually tamed her, but most of all; I wanted the feeling of power that came with owning a woman as beautiful, intelligent and strong as her.”

Though Claire is Holland’s courtesan in training, he is not a full-fledged Master and must adhere to the rules and methods employed by his trainer, Aiden Oliver – the most revered Master within the society. Under Aiden’s tutelage, Holland feels compelled to please his teacher but his naivety leads to further unexpected complications compounded by his feelings for Claire. With Aiden’s ominous and far-reaching control, Claire’s training takes to new levels of manipulation with broad sweeping consequences.

“To me, he was the epitome of evil. In that regard, however, he was the example of what a Master strives to become: no morality, no pity and no empathy for the people he trained, both Courtesans and other Masters.”

As this story unfolds, it is tense and grim from the beginning because Claire’s fate is so bleak and at times it becomes a question of how bad it’s going to get rather than wondering if she is going to escape. Reading how Claire’s psyche is eroded is disturbing but also darkly intriguing how she chooses to combat her circumstance. I admired Claire’s strength during such abuse and her emotions were palpable. Plus, her relationship with Holland provided for an interesting dynamic with their teaching roles reversing at times.

“This wasn’t a life that I would have expected for myself, but like any living creature that was intent on survival, I learned to adapt.”

Getting back to Aiden. He is sadistic, arrogant, predatory and quite the antagonist. His role in His Master’s Teacher is critical and his character in this series remains uncompromised. Upon realizing Aiden’s role in this book, I knew my limits would be tested again and this time I was able to appreciate his unwavering evilness as a true villain.

In Her Master’s Teacher, Lily White successfully writes about a world where immorality and corruption rule and she isn’t afraid to make her readers cringe at times. Told in dual POV, the narrative enables the reader to feel a spectrum of emotions and really understand the psychological and corporeal components these characters endure.

For those who do not have any triggers and thrive in the unknown elements of the darkside, I highly recommend Her Master’s Teacher!

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Separation Games ~ (The Games Duet, #2) by C.D. Reiss

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descriptionSeparation Games opens just where the first book closed with Adam’s admission and Diana’s shock at the turn of events. With the thirty days not fulfilled, Diana decides to fight in the only way she knows how. As she tries to save her marriage, she is also trying to resolve her own unanswered questions that have been buried for so long. Whatever the results may be, she is determined to finish her exploration.

“I wanted him to catch me, but I wanted him to chase first.”

What ensues feels raw as Adam and Diana fight for what they believe is right. As they continue to reveal layers of deep emotions and the history behind their feelings, the dance between their interests is like a tango involving passion, strength and an impenetrable connection.

“Your problem isn’t that you don’t love. Your problem is you love so much it scared you.”

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With Diana beckoning the inner sadist in Adam, he responds with such perfect dominance to bring them to a truly equal power exchange. Adam is a natural leader who takes control of any situation so when it comes to dominating his submissive, it is beyond hot. So when he demands Diana to give all of herself to him, she complies bringing immense pleasure sexually and emotionally.

“You’re beautiful like this. You’re perfect. I want to fuck the breath out of you. I want to hurt you. Mark you. I want you to beg me to stop and love it when I don’t.”

As Adam and Diana navigate through the intricacies of their relationship, the emotions are complex and feel quite real. Dissecting the reasons for their failures are difficult but putting the pieces back together requires much more strength and dedication. Told in dual POV, getting to know the pulse of Adam and Diana leads to deep character development due to their self-reflection. With this C.D. Reiss’ writing style, the dialogue simply flows and tells a poignant story of two people finding their own way.

To say this duet was moving would be an understatement. Being in CD’s fictional world is always one of lyricism and I simply adored this journey. I highly recommend!!!

*This was a (F)BR with Sue, Liz and Loyda!

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

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From Sand and Ash ~ by Amy Harmon

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~4.5 Stars~

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Batsheva “Eva” Roselli is a violinist, an Italian citizen and a young Jewish woman caught in the turbulent time under Mussolini’s rule in Italy and Hitler’s oppressive vision. As a child, Eva was privileged due to her family’s successful business in Florence, but when a boy comes from America to live with Eva’s family and war is later declared, her entire world changes.

“I danced around him for years, trying to get his attention, wanting only to see him smile. Wanting only to be near him, wanting only to love him and be loved by him.”


Angelo Bianco is the son of Italians who emigrated to America. After Angelo’s mother dies, his father sends him to Florence to live with the Roselli family and to ultimately become a priest. Distraught over his mother’s death, Angelo meets Eva, two years his junior, and they form a bond that is continually tested

“When you love someone that completely, you will do anything for them.”


What transpires over time between Angelo and Eva is beautiful and endearing yet they are surrounded by loss and the hatred. Using his position as a Catholic priest, Angelo is determined to help give shelter to Jews hiding from the SS and when Eva’s family becomes a target, he knows there is no other way but to remain a priest to carry on his mission to save lives.

“But we have to live in order to learn. And sometimes we have to fight in order to live.”


With Eva being highly principled but also a realist, her strength is tested when she decides to help her brethren in every way available to her. Eva’s path takes an unexpected journey but she uses that opportunity to fight for her family, for love and for a greater cause.

“They can humiliate us and dehumanize us. But they cannot take our thoughts. They cannot take our talents. They cannot take our knowledge, or our memories, or our minds.”


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The intensity of the current state of events lays heavy upon Eva and Angelo. Living in constant fear and hiding Jews is their goal but their love continues to shine and grow stronger leading them to a place where they can no longer deny. With Angelo’s vows to the Church, his heart is conflicted and he must reconcile his reasons for choosing the priesthood. After years of fighting, Angelo’s choice becomes clear.

From Sand to Ash is a book that causes reflection and produces a range of serious emotions due to the subject matter. But, while there is so much tragedy, there is also unyielding bravery, resistance and dignity for those who fought and protected those in danger. Within this setting, it may seem an unlikely place for love to flourish, but during such trying times, life and death becomes crystal clear and the intensity of such feelings deepens. For me, reading how Eva and Angelo united for a greater cause was extremely moving.

Told in third person, Amy Harmon writes a narrative that is compelling, candid and thought provoking. Set in such a turbulent time in history, the sense of family, principle and friendship prevails raising hope and humanity. I highly recommend!

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The Roman ~ by Sylvain Reynard

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descriptionIn this final installation, we are reunited in a continuous timeline with William York, the Prince of Florence, and Raven Wood. With tension building, there are numerous factions vying to unseat the Prince causing William to protect his city and most importantly, Raven. In seeking support from his biggest and most powerful ally, William executes a decision that could have grave consequences or long-lasting benefits. But with human and vampyre forces at play, trusting anyone becomes perilous.

“You are the only trust that exists in my world.” He spoke against her mouth. “I trust no one else.”

Being the Prince for centuries taught William many lessons about the capricious ways of vampyres and guarding what he loves exposes his weakness to those closest to him. Of course, William has the means, power of an old one and the mental acuity to react as needed. With their love for each other, William and Raven vow to fight together rather than be separated. Raven’s unwavering strength and principled views parallel the depth of reverence William feels toward Raven leading to unconditional acceptance.

“Because of you, love has entered my cursed existence.”

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Through the series, Raven stayed true to her beliefs despite having vulnerabilities that could have caused her to make different choices. William evolved tremendously due to his love for Raven and lessons learned in his formative years. Reading about their love and admiration for each other was heart warming. However, I would have liked to have read more about The Roman and his relationship with William, especially given the eponymous book title.

From the first page, the action is nonstop due to a well-choreographed cast of characters and flowing prose. Combining Renaissance art, clandestine underground organizations and the paranormal makes for a unique plot that leads to steady character arcs and an unexpected culmination. For dedicated fans of the Florentine series, you will not be disappointed in the journey and the finale.

Florentine Series:
The Prince (The Florentine, #0.5) by Sylvain Reynard The Raven (The Florentine, #1) by Sylvain Reynard The Shadow (The Florentine, #2) by Sylvain ReynardThe Roman (The Florentine #3) by Sylvain Reynard

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Blackwood ~ by Celia Aaron

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4.25 Stars

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Elise “Red” Vale is a graduate student studying archeology. Using her student credentials and under the guise of her thesis, she intends to enter the private property of Blackwood Estate to search for Native American artifacts, however she is intent on finding answers related to the suspicious circumstances surrounding her father’s death.

“Nothing here is untouched. Everything is spoiled, ruined.”


Garrett Blackwood is a former professor and is known to be a mysterious and potentially dangerous recluse. Keeping to himself has never been a problem but when Elise shows up on his doorstep requesting permission onto his property, he begins to wonder if she is a hassle or something potentially much more interesting.

“Some things are better left in the dark, Red.”


With dimensional secondary characters and plot twists, Elise uncovers clues learning more about her father than she ever knew while he was alive. While Garrett believes she is searching for Choctaw artifacts, he soon discovers that his Red is looking for more than just arrowheads and pottery. Despite her shrouded deception, Garrett agrees to help Red when the dangers become too risky to search on her own.

“If you said ‘please’, I’d fuck you so hard that you wouldn’t be able to sit down, walk, or breathe for days without thinking of my cock inside you.”


In addition to the thriller aspects, the relationship that develops between Red and Garrett is endearing and extremely hot! Not afraid to push the limits, Garrett shows Red just what it’s like to be ravished by the big bad wolf.

“This.” He glanced at my throat. “Is just a sample, Red. My appetites would disgust you. Fuck” He ran a hand through his hair. “Sometimes they disgust me, but I can’t escape them.”


Throughout the book, I liked Red’s tenacity even when she was in way over her head at times. While she was skeptical of Garrett in the beginning, she was also freely willing to accept his circumstances and experience what he can offer.

As for Garrett, he is very manly yet he isn’t afraid to share his sensitivities despite being ostracized for his private predilections. It’s so often that rumor can become truth and with Garrett, the rumors couldn’t be further wrong about his character.

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Elise’s father led to some tense and action packed moments with the plot developing at a steady pace. The shadows about his death persisted and certainly added to the thriller elements of Blackwood. Even though, I knew who was guilty early on, it didn’t lessen my experience nor my search for more clues. Plus, the dynamic between Red and Garrett is a strong one for the plot footprint.

If you haven’t experienced a Celia Aaron book yet, Blackwood is a perfect entry into the thrilling, twisty and sexy world of this author. With prose that effortlessly narrate a story chock full of tonality and emotion, it’s clear Ms. Aaron is a natural born storyteller. I highly recommend Blackwood!

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review! Thank you!*

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Torment Me (Rough Love, #1) ~ by Annabel Joseph

five-stars

descriptionChere Rouzier is a high-class call girl that lives in New York City. Without having many options or much guidance, Chere viewed her job as an escort to be lucrative in that she could pay her bills and help support her boyfriend’s spiraling art career. It isn’t until she meets the nameless and faceless client she refers to as W that she slowly begins to unravel and question her lifestyle and own needs.

“You don’t get to know my name. You don’t get anything from me but what I want to give you. Cock, yes. But first, a little pain.”

Known to be exacting and a sadist, W isn’t looking to form emotional attachments and hires Chere for a session to fulfill his particular sexual predilictions. Upon discovering her unknown submissive side with the combination of her need to fight before total surrender, he is intrigued by her spark and continues to reserve sessions with her.

“You’re so juicy from having your pussy whipped, it’s dripping onto the bed. You’re making a fucking mess, you little pain slut.”

As Chere and W’s time together passes, Chere realizes how she craves what only W can give making her quite the lovely masochist. While their sessions are sexually intense, both mentally and physically, Chere begins to gain the courage to make changes in other aspects of her life. As she takes these steps, W asserts himself and views his actions as protective yet he still isn’t willing to give more unless Chere is willing to accept all of his terms.

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“You can see me, starshine. You can see all of me.”

What transpires between Chere and W is complex. On the surface, you have these two characters that unite so perfectly on a basic primal level, but they also have their own emotional vulnerabilities that trap insecurities. I admired Chere’s inner strength and fight and was so glad she made a certain decision. As for W, well, he is walking sex but he also has a deeper range that I enjoyed.

“That’s what he said, but all I really absorbed was “I can make you feel.”

In reading Torment Me, I was simply glued to the pages to see what would happen next between Chere and W! The writing just simply captured me, as told from Chere’s point of view, but also with engaging dialogue. What Chere and W share isn’t necessarily romantic to some, with their rough BDSM play and degradation, but reading how they connect kept me riveted.

The author’s style of writing is forthright and sexy with an edgy sense of humor, which is a win-win for me. I cannot wait to see how the story continues in book two! For those who haven’t read Annabel Joseph’s books yet, I highly recommend Torment Me!

Rough Love series:
Torment Me (Rough Love, #1) by Annabel JosephTaunt Me (Rough Love, #2) by Annabel JosephTrust Me (Rough Love, #3) by Annabel Joseph

*Note:
I won this book in Shh… ♟ Dispelling the MYTHS about BDSM Giveaway ♟!! Thank you!! https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/…

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Pretty Lost Dolls (Pretty Stolen Dolls, #2) ~ by Ker Dukey

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The timeline in Pretty Lost Dolls continues in succession with Jade caught in Benny’s dark world. For eight years, Jade hunted Benny while the entire time Benny also kept track of his pretty little doll, but Jade is no longer a fourteen year old girl and she is ready to reclaim her power. Even with her police training and yearning for justice, Jade is not prepared for what she encounters.

“I’m about to turn her world upside down, shake out everything she so desperately clings to, and fill up every single part of her…with me.”


Benny’s world is finally realigned with the return of his dirty little doll, as Jade seems to be a salve to Benny’s depraved and lonely soul. While he is prepared to punish his doll for losing so many years with her, Benny also starts to show a tender and even more complicated side as he reveals his past.

“There’s a real fine line between love and hate, and I like that you border there. It makes you taste sweeter. Make no mistake who you belong to.”


Pretty Lost Dolls delves into Benny’s character and how his past shaped him and offered answers to Benny’s life. While his past doesn’t excuse Benny’s actions, it provides a solid reason for how he became the way he is. Additionally, I liked how Benny and Macy’s development offered a parallel digression. Although Benny imposed certain moral limitations upon his behavior, they both rejected boundaries when it came to their versions of love. Both having been influenced by wickedness at young ages, it was interesting to read about their descent into darkness.

“I do know the difference between right and wrong, but I just like the way wrong feels.”


With plot twists and action leading to an ultimate finale, Jade and Dillon reach a point neither could have imagined. Jade proved to be a fierce character capable of compassion and trust. Dillon was such a sexy and loyal detective. As a side note, I also loved how he is a friend of a certain other detective from another series by Ker Dukey.

This second and final book offers dimension to the main characters and takes the plot full circle. The collaborative writing team of these authors felt natural and the storytelling flowed well. For me, the darker progression into Benny’s world was outstanding and I kept craving more of his POV. There were a few elements that felt a bit predictable, but with the tone of this book, the introspection proved to be more valuable than an absolutely unexpected twist.

This series is thrilling and is a journey into the disturbed mind of a lost little doll. I highly recommend!!

Pretty Stolen Dolls series:
Pretty Stolen Dolls (Pretty Stolen Dolls, #1) by Ker Dukey Pretty Lost Dolls (Pretty Stolen Dolls, #2) by Ker Dukey

An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Dollars~by Pepper Winters

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In Dollars, the plot timeline opens in succession with Pim trying to negotiate her new surroundings away from the white mansion. Not knowing whether Pim’s circumstance has improved, she is tentative and doesn’t know how to react to the demands being made upon her. Despite feeling powerless, Pim tries to overcome her past but doesn’t know what feelings to trust, as certain trained behaviors have been instilled in her core.

“And if he wasn’t like the others, how could I predict what he wanted?”


Pim isn’t the only one trying to adjust to the new living arrangements, as Elder is at odds with his decision. Exposing himself to Pim could lead to disaster but Elder can’t stay away from her. Battling his demons, he is forced to reconcile emotions he buried long ago causing tremendous inner turmoil.

“You owe me, Pimlico. I told you I wasn’t the hero.”


What draws Pim and Elder to each other is complicated. Elder has been very open about his sexual inclinations toward Pim but it’s more than just the physical in that Elder feels a deep connection to her. While Pim is processing her feelings, she is angry and feels betrayed that her body feels an attraction to Elder who wants a certain gift before succumbing to his basest desires.

“I want to fuck you.” His hips thrust again. “I want to hurt you.”


In this second installment, a range of emotion is present that includes reflection, healing, anger, betrayal and gratitude. With a somber tone, it is obvious Pim has been through hell and knowing the time it will take for her to rebuild adds tremendous tension. Adding to the conflict is the mystery surrounding Elder’s secrets and vulnerabilities. While we get a few glimpses into Elder’s world, there is still so much to be revealed and for Pim to experience.

“I need to live in the moment. The future I cannot control.”


With much contemplation, Pepper Winters takes her characters on a thoughtful and arduous journey. The plot moves at a pace that forces the reader to pause and feel how Pim’s emotions take a step forward but three steps back. At times, it is frustrating but also realistically portrayed considering her painful experience. With Elder, there were times when I wanted him to surrender to his urges and unleash the beast despite knowing how it would affect Pim and their future.

In all, the storyline successfully continues to build layers of intrigue and added dimension. There is still much to discover in this series and I look forward to continuing to see how it will all unfold.

Dollar series:
Pennies (Dollar, #1) by Pepper Winters Dollars (Dollar, #2) by Pepper Winters Hundreds (Dollar, #3) by Pepper Winters Thousands (Dollar, #4) by Pepper Winters Millions (Dollar, #5) by Pepper Winters

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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El Diablo~by M. Robinson

~4 CRAZIES STARS~
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Alejandro Martinez was destined to fulfill the path already chosen for him leading to a life of crime, corruption, greed, lies and tragedy. At 20 years old, he was already feared and known as El Diablo, but knowing the destruction and pain his family caused, Alejandro vows to protect what remains in his life despite the consequences. Learning to be a “Martinez” at a very young age, Alejandro shields his heart but as decades pass, he begins to question whether loneliness is his fate or a fool’s choice.

“This is what we do, hijo. We protect what’s ours any means necessary. No. Matter. What. Family comes first.”

Having a childhood marred by neglect, Lexi learned at a young age to fend for herself and to take joy in the art of ballet. In trying to be independent and follow her dream, Lexi applies for a job at an establishment owned by Martinez. Exuding his influence in subtle ways, Alejandro cannot turn his back on Lexi. After feeling a strong connection with Alejandro, the tension builds but neither could have imagined how their futures would blend in so many ways.

“I want you to come on my fingers, cariño, I want to see your face get flushed, your breathing hitch. I want to feel your pussy pulsate so fucking hard it pushes my fingers out of your sweet little hole.”

As Alejandro is a conflicted man suffering an incredible amount of despair, he steadfastly forges ahead to lead the Martinez family legacy. After vowing to never open his heart to anyone again, Lexi tests Alejandro, and while it’s his nature to protect and love, he can’t give what he wants despite her wholehearted acceptance of Alejandro’s dual personas.

“I warned you. I told you I don’t know how to love. I ordered you to stay away from me, time and time again. I’m not the man you think I am. I never was.”

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“The good and bad. Heaven and hell. Every part of him. I took what I could get. Every last ounce of him.”

Alejandro is a man of deep passion whether he is showing his gentle or vile side and I like how he wavered between these warring factions within himself. The tender moments were so warm which served to reinforce his true nature because if he was as ruthless as his father, Alejandro would have been a very different man. By the end, I felt comfortable with his choice of possible salvation with Lexi but parts of “the how” didn’t seem to completely coalesce with his character. However, it didn’t deter from the impact of Alejandro’s journey and the arc of his character development.

As for Lexi, I admired her resilience and ability to balance the positive and negative in her life. By choosing Alejandro and his lifestyle, Lexi was fully aware of the risks involved yet she was willing take a chance whether it lasted for a brief moment or for more time than she could imagine. To me, Lexi proved she was a match for Alejandro.

Also, the secondary characters were vital to supporting the failures and successes of the main characters and the ongoing plot. For those familiar with the The Good Ol’ Boys series, being reunited with some friendly faces will be an added plus. I would like to know more about Alejandro’s friend, Leo, in the future.

From the onset of El Diablo, an epic tone is cast upon the Martinez family that unfolds into a richly developed plot spanning many years and a multitude of dimensional characters. With engaging prose, M. Robinson successfully captures a story steeped love, violence, passion, redemption and friendship. I highly recommend!

*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Author Anonymous~ by E.K. Blair

~5++Crazies Stars~

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Tori Garrison is a successful romance author married to Landon, an absolute dream and the man she met in college. Her life is full with kids, career and the day to day, and while Tori’s family has been a solid foundation where she feels mostly content, she starts to feel like something is missing. Turning to another author’s advice for book research, Tori establishes an account on a social website that caters to certain sexual lifestyles. Not exactly sure as to what she hopes to find, she experiences much more than she could have ever foreseen.

“I’m a blank canvas that I can paint however I desire. For the first time ever, I get to be the character in my own fantasy land.”

Upon being contacted by Alec, Tori forms an online connection with him almost immediately. From the outset, he is very forthcoming about his lifestyle and preferences, and while Tori opens herself to Alec about intimate details of her life, she fails to tell him about the most important facts. Knowing she is being deceitful to her husband and even to new friend, Tori feels like she can’t stop talking to Alec and starts to crave more.

“I was desperate for it. I needed it. Needed the excitement, the allure, the temptation.”

From this point, Tori makes the decision to transition her friendship with Alec to an emotional level of intimate lovers by talking and sharing aspects of herself that only her husband should enjoy. Addicted to Alec and what he offers, Tori’s descent begins and just when you think she is about to come to her senses, her world shatters. Secrets are discovered, hearts are broken and all that seemed safe and loving transforms into deceit, resentment and doubt.

“You fell for him, didn’t you?”

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Obviously, this is a story about an affair and the emotional elements surrounding Tori’s experience are gut-wrenching; however, it is also addicting and exhilarating at times. From the outset, you know Tori is going to make many wrong decisions that will affect her husband and family yet there is also a feeling of sympathy for not just Tori and Landon but also for Alec. Adding to the affair theme, there is a deeper element that surfaces causing Tori to examine her life choices in an effort to save herself and ultimate decision.

Even though there are some who are already feeling the pain that an affair book can bring forth, what makes Tori’s story relatable is that such a situation can happen to any of us because life isn’t black or white, good or bad, right or wrong. Sometimes, people change and detour for a bit. Did I like Tori? While I wished she would make the best decision for herself and her family and wanted her to stop this destructive behavior, I still liked her and I empathized with her plight. Did my heart break for Landon? Absolutely and I cried for his pain. Did I hate Alec? Not at all and I actually fell for him at times. And, that’s the beauty of E.K.’s writing, she forces the reader to experience a range of emotions and doesn’t sugar coat an ounce of this story. It is raw and real.

Author Anonymous is based on a true account of an author’s experience told through the creative mind of E.K. Blair. All the names and identifying details have been changed to protect the author. After finishing this book, I can understand why Anonymous felt the cathartic need to share her story. Honestly, this story blew me away. It is titillating, erotic, sad, painful, provocative and forces the reader to confront a range of emotions in an intensely difficult situation. I’m still reeling from the emotional impact of this one and hope Tori (Anonymous) is able to find her way. Needless to say, I highly recommend Author Anonymous!!
*An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Six (Men by Numbers, #2)~by Ker Dukey

~4 Crazies Stars~

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Taylor Jake grew up in a variety of foster homes that enabled him to create a protective wall around his emotions. Upon meeting Haley as a teen, she became his family and part of his heart; however, Taylor’s weakness was preyed upon by a rival gang and Haley paid the price of evil. Vowing to avenge Haley’s pain, Taylor became Six, a killer succumbed by rage, guilt and inner turmoil.

“I was hollow, lost to what it felt like not to be lonely, and I was okay with that.”

Fast forward fifteen years, Taylor “aka Six” is released from prison for his crimes but seeking revenge for the remaining gang members still lingers in his soul, as a day doesn’t pass where he can forget that horrific night and the ensuing pain. Now a respectable bar owner, Six chooses to keep few close to him until a certain woman enters his bar that tests his restraint.

“She’s too delicate for me. She’s like a flower and I’m a weed growing strong around her. I’d strangle her and then everything that makes her bloom will be gone.”

Misty is a woman down on her luck but is working her way through her own loss and is ready to start a fresh beginning. Upon being hired by Six, Misty is immediately attracted to him and once she starts getting mixed signals from Six, she isn’t about to be ignored or overruled by him. What ensues are sexually charged exchanges and when they finally get together it is hot!

“All I want you to do is strip me bare, bite my neck, yank my hair, and fuck me until I’m a quivering mess. She draws out her words and I almost come without even touching her.”

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Based on his past, Six is resistant to give all he has to Misty in order to protect her and also his own heart. Just when Six is ready to move forward, his past comes back to haunt him and he must act to end it all.

“Carnage lays everywhere, blood and insides litter the walls and floor, and the whining of death is like a balm to my soul.”

Six is a character that I liked immediately and felt the weight of his burden. Knowing his hurtful past and how it formed his present, I understood his resistance to pursue Misty but I loved how Misty fought to pierce his shield. With Six carrying such a need for revenge, I welcomed his violent path to give Haley reverence and peace.

While I am usually drawn to Ker Dukey’s darker books, the plot in Six was mostly steady with a few lags in between. There were some areas where I would have enjoyed more development to further the impact and character dimension for Six, Misty, Haley, Lucky and Max. But, I did feel like I was immersed in Six’s world. Overall, I enjoyed Six and recommend!

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Kicked~by Celia Aaron

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~4 CRAZIES STARS~

Cordelia “Cordy” Baxter is a college student that comes from a working class coalmining town. Having always played soccer, and due to Title 9 criticism, Cordy secures a spot as a Kicker on the football team earning her a partial athletic scholarship. Being on the team isn’t easy since she is known mostly as the “Mav” but it’s also difficult because she is constantly around the one person she wishes to erase from her heart.

“He’d been beautiful when we’d first met, his boyish good looks the first step in my downfall.”

Trent Carrington is the star Quarterback and with his dark hair, green eyes and an easy smile with the brains to back it up, Trent is every campus girl’s dream. With his athletic ability, his future in the NFL is pretty much a done deal. However, two years ago Trent made a decision that impacted his love life much to his chagrin. Now that he’s a bit older and wiser, he is determined not to make the same mistake twice.

“I was going to get the chance I’d been dreaming about for two years. I had so much to tell her, so many things to explain.”

Being in his senior year, Trent can no longer ignore his feelings for Cordy and tries to resurrect the connection they both previously shared. Knowing this task is not going to be easy, when Trent sees an opportunity with Cordy he takes full advantage of their private time. However, Cordy is prepared to maintain a platonic distance from Trent because she will not be hurt again by his love ‘em and leave ‘em ways.

“In his place, there was a man who kissed like the devil and made me stupid with just one look.”

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As Trent and Cordy spend time together, she slowly learns more about Trent’s decision and what he really represents. By giving him another chance, Cordy opens her heart hoping this time it’s permanent.

“I don’t think I can stop if we start this. Understand? I want you so bad it hurts.”

Wowzie! There were times in this book when I felt hurt, angst, lust, need and the strong connection between Trent and Cordy. Their story is passionate, tender and full of firsts etching every moment in their timeline. To feel that overcoming sense of love is moving but also anxious because these characters are vulnerable to their emotion. Immediately, I liked Trent and Cordy and with alternating first person POVs, it only strengthened my empathy with their roles. I am a sucker for second chance romances and I was rooting for them throughout the entire book!

In Kicked, Celia Aaron continues to dazzle with her prose and ability to draw the reader into her written world. If you are looking for a romance with a good dose of love and determination, I recommend Kicked!

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Chained~by D.H. Sidebottom

~4.5 Stars~

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In Chained, the timeline continuously flows from the ending in Caged where Khloe Grant discovers she cannot trust anyone. Lying in wait, Khloe is prepared to take action, but when the man standing in front of her is Anderson Cain, she is forced to make an irrevocable decision. In this final book, the plot continues to thicken in quite an ominous mode with darkness continually lurking its ugly head around Khloe and Anderson.

“I needed him to love me, whichever way it came.”

Moving forward, Anderson is committed to his plan to avenge his own abuse no matter the consequences. By acting on his rage and pain, Anderson seems willing to sacrifice his only chance for happiness or hope.

“How could you fall in love with someone who was hell bent on destroying you?”

Meanwhile, Khloe’s descent into darkness spirals into an abyss. In order for Khloe to truly move forward, she must accept her past but she has always been more selfless and wants to give Anderson exactly what he needs. With the present and future outweighing her past, Khloe accepts her hand and gives all she can.

“I was created to serve you, Anderson. I was made from the very horrors of hell that birthed you. We were cast from the same mould. But which gift will you take?”

The twists and course of events that occur could not be predicted, as the evil that pervades the lives of Anderson and Khloe is insidious. The evolution of Khloe’s character felt vividly honest and weighty. She suffered and yet she coped in ways that eased her mind. With Anderson, to have survived his circumstance, his mental state swallowed all the pain but his rage had to be quelled before he could truly be the man he was destined to be. The strengths and weaknesses of these two characters grounded them together providing a balance and foundation for a future.

“This is how I want to picture you forever. You have no barriers up. You are you, free from the obligation you force on yourself.”

While Anderson and Khloe felt an instant bond with each other, their relationship was tumultuous at times, with each feeding off the freedom to share in their rage, pain and cravings. With having such a deep yet fiery connection, the sex between Anderson and Khloe is off the charts hot!! It is uninhibited, rough, demanding, and deliciously deviant.

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“Pulling me away, his gaze hooked on the length of spit from my lips to his cock, the wicked gleam in his eyes making every part of me throb.” “Suck me until I come in your dirty little mouth.”

With the end of this duet series, the plot is reconciled and questions are answered as to motives of these dark characters. The chapters are divided between first person POVs for Anderson and Khloe which further irons any doubts about their thoughts and emotions. With the inclusion of an early chapter, the dark tone in the book is underscored and the certainty of how the plot is going to unfold remains a mystery until the very end. For me, this series was a riveting read that yielded so many emotions and I loved both Anderson and Khloe for their faults and resilience.

In addition to the outstanding layered characterization of Anderson and Khloe, the secondary characters also played such a pivotal role in the plot structure. Robbie, Anderson’s best friend, really proved himself as a true friend. Additionally, Ben, Khloe’s ex-husband, finally redeemed himself in my eyes.

For those who are fans of dark reads, Chained will not disappoint. It offers a range of themes from revenge, hatred, healing, redemption, evil, honesty, hope and ultimately love. I highly recommend!

Caged Series:
Caged by D.H. Sidebottom Chained (Caged #2) by D.H. Sidebottom


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