Tag Archives: ARC

Buns (Hudson Valley # 3)

By Alice Clayton

Synopsis

Clara Morgan is living the dream, if you can call rebranding hotels that are desperate for a new life and running any kind of marathon a dream. Which she does. But the career she loves and the endurance races that keep her adrenaline pumping have kept her too busy to put down any roots. Growing up in foster care, she’s never been able to establish traditions of her own, which may be why she’s fascinated by the rituals that generations-old family resorts are known for. She’s especially interested in the Bryant Mountain House, and not just for their secret recipe for the yummy, gooey, can’t-get-enough-of Hot Cross Buns….

Archie Bryant, the man with the Buns, is fifth generation and one-day-owner of the charming yet run-down Bryant Mountain House in Bailey Falls, New York. He’s determined to save his family’s legacy from the wrecking ball the old-fashioned way—by gritting his teeth and doing what needs to be done. There’s no way Archie will be influenced by the new hotel branding expert his father brought in to turn one hundred and fifty years of tradition on its head just to attract a faster, younger, slicker crowd. But when some of Clara’s ideas start bringing in new, paying customers, Archie can’t deny that she may have just given him a shot at keeping his resort open.

It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s sweet, it’s Buns.

Review

BUNS is my first Alice Clayton book, and I’m happy to say it was one I found enjoyable.

Clara and Archie are both likeable characters, but they’re also very stubborn, which made for some fiery discussions.  I really enjoyed watching these two bicker over how to save Bryant Mountain House from going out of business.  Archie was a sweet and loyal guy, and he is devoted to keeping his family’s traditions alive.  Clara has an amazing work ethic, she’s not easily intimidated, and she is not afraid to speak her mind to get her point across.  That being said, she has serious abandonment issues; issues which are justified in my opinion.  However, her constant inner monologue about always being alone, her fear of letting someone in, and her inability to feel like part of the group, did become tiring after a while.  It also made the conflict and resolution fairly easy to predict.

BUNS is told in Clara’s POV, with the epilogue being told in Archie’s.  While it is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone, and although the couples from the previous two books appeared several times throughout this story, I never felt like I was missing something when it came to them.

Buns (Hudson Valley # 3)

My Rating:  

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Hudson Valley Series

The Bad Guy

By Celia Loren

Synopsis

My name is Sebastian Lindstrom, and I’m the villain of this story.

I’ve decided to lay myself bare. To tell the truth for once in my hollow life, no matter how dark it gets. And I can assure you, it will get so dark that you’ll find yourself feeling around the blackened corners of my mind, seeking a door handle that isn’t there.

Don’t mistake this for a confession. I neither seek forgiveness nor would I accept it. My sins are my own. They keep me company. Instead, this is the true tale of how I found her, how I stole her, and how I lost her.

She was a damsel, one who already had her white knight. But every fairy tale has a villain, someone waiting in the wings to rip it all down. A scoundrel who will set the world on fire if that means he gets what he wants. That’s me.

I’m the bad guy.

Author’s Note: This is a dark romance with an HEA and no cheating. 

Review

The Bad Guy is my fifth book by this author and it is my absolute favourite.

The Bad Guy is one of those stories that my god makes me think I need therapy because from the first few chapters I was right there in Sebastian’s corner wanting Camilla for him.  Every step of his “out of the box” way to get her to be with him – well I am sorry I forgave him and was hoping like hell Camilla would fall in love with him.

The author gives Camilla purpose, she is smart, has a passion and i really savoured her individual moments with her plants so thanks to the author for making her more than just a mans obsession.  Sebastian also showed an appreciation for Camilla’s passion and he fed and nurtured her as she did her plants – I loved this part of the story.

Sebastian pulls some questionable manoeuvres to obtain Camilla for some one of one time and well done for making parts of her life available to the fact she can disappear for a week and no one really notices.  The background story of her friends and job actually makes this quite believable and did not have me questioning the what if’s.  I was totally in the moment with these two characters and thoroughly enjoyed them making new boundaries in the agreement.

Now onto the supporting characters, loved his dad and his various talks with Camilla and his total love of his son.  I was glad my gut instincts were right about Link however the ending was a big surprise for me and I never would have guessed so there are some great twists and turns.

My favourite chapters were from 40 to 44, I was shaking and scared and had tears in my eyes, my heart hurt and I felt like I just wanted to hug Camilla – she was so strong and fearless.

The Epilogue made me so happy.

The Bad Guy

My Rating:  

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Emilia: Part 1 (Trassato Crime Family #3)

By Lisa Cardiff

Synopsis

Freedom and a meaningful life away from the violence of the Trassato Crime Family is all I ever wanted…

But what I want doesn’t matter now that I’m caught in a tug of war between two men in the dangerous world of organized crime.

Marcello Masciantonio is the man my father expects me to marry. He wants me because I’m the daughter of Dominick Trassato, New York’s most powerful crime boss. He says he’s my future, and I want to hate him, but I can’t deny the spark that burns between us.

Salvatore D’Amico is perfect. He supports me. He understands me. He’s willing to betray my father and give up his family to have me. He doesn’t care about the power that comes with being part of my family. He wants me for me.

My choice is simple, right?

Wrong.

Everyone has an agenda, including Salvatore and Marcello, and just when I think I have everything figured out, I realize I don’t know a damn thing.

Truths are lies. Freedom is lonely. But worst of all…

My love triangle is actually a hate triangle.

Review

Firstly, another great cover for this series, I love them all.  I have read Kon and Gian (Trassato Crime Family #1 & #2) and I highly recommend you read these aswell as although not linked I think you will understand the underlying mafia connections.

Emilia’s story I devoured, I had knots of fear and hurt in my throat, there were times I put the book down took a breathe and dived back in.  Emilia has so many people controlling her life, making decisions and at Chapter 21 I too felt so desolate with her.

The author wove the love triangle/hate triangle together perfectly, I was torn as to who was the good guy and bad guy, I changed corners like Emilia did and I too believed the lies and secrets and felt betrayed towards the end of this story.  This also answered questions and explained to me more in-depth the relationship between Emilia and her father as I had so many questions after completing Kon (Book #2).

When all is revealed at the end I was shattered and was willing Emilia to make her hardest decision of her life.

Now onto the ending, personally some readers will think it is a cliffhanger and yes in a way it is but you do get some answers but I still have so many questions and my god will Emilia: Part 2 have some explosive revelations?  If Emilia: book 2 was available I would have one clicked and downloaded that bad boy and continued my trip with Emilia to the point where she gets her justice.

I am actually going to go back and read Kon again as Emilia returns to the family fold and I want to go back and see if I missed anything.

I cannot wait to see what twists, turns and secrets the author is going to reveal in the next instalment of the Trassato Crime Family.

Quote:  You’re my reward… Brought me to you…

Emilia: Part 1 (Trassato Crime Family #3)

My Rating:  

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Villain

By Jackie Wang

Synopsis

I go by many names: Playboy, Hustler, Villain.
They call me a sadistic a-hole because I rob from the poor and cheat on the weak.
Do I ever regret the choices I’ve made? All the damn time.
But it’s too late to turn back, and too late to start over…
I’ve never even considered giving it all up for anyone or anything before. Never had a reason or motivation to change.
Until I met her.
Callista Rayner. Heiress. Goddess. Need-her-ass-up-on-my-mattress.
My last chance at redemption.
Problem was, I couldn’t afford to fall for her, because I didn’t want to ruin her.
I didn’t want to destroy her, like the others that came before.
Too bad I had no choice.
Too bad she was my pawn and I had to use her.
Too bad, too bad, too bad.

Note: This dark romance contains sensitive subject matter and is intended for a mature audience.

Review

Villain tested my resolve and I found myself feeling so angry and upset for Ryder, regardless of the decisions he made in his life I was so upset for how he was living and found myself really angry at the adults who had played him.  I hated how he was living, he had nothing and was scraping by, it really made me sad and I could rant all day about ‘The Kept Woman’ !!

I wanted his revenge, I was with him every step of the way as his father is a brutal man and then throw in all the other people playing with his feeling and emotions well no wonder he is so aggressive.

The last quarter of this book just explodes with so many questions but also big answers and then the final chapter just blows it out of the water, I had no clue and well I was pleasantly surprised by this so well done to the author.

I kind of wished we had a couple of more chapters after the explosive revelations as by then I really had connected to Ryder and Callie as a couple in the romantic sense.

So my only complaint was I did want more emotional connection between Ryder and Callie, I did not feel them, they were both playing their cards so close to their chest if affected my ability to think they were attracted to each other emotionally and physically.  I really did not connect to them until right at the end which was a shame and I also found her friendship group strange.

Quote:  I married a monster. The monster wore a kind mask. He Said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

Villain

My Rating:  

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The Executioner (The Family Creed # 1)

By Shauna Allen

Synopsis

~ Five brothers, one family tragedy, untold heartache. ~

A stray bullet ended my Army career, forcing me to follow in my father’s prison guard footsteps.
My sister’s disappearance ten years ago annihilated my family, forcing each of us to find a way to cope. 
But I’ve survived. Adapted. 
At least until Genevieve Stone showed up, digging into the truth in the name of journalism and finding her way deep under my skin. I’m determined to do whatever it takes to find my sister, but when the case is blown wide open by the sexy reporter, I’m left with the ultimate question . . . can I trust her? 
I’m a soldier, heart and soul. 
I don’t do love. 
War and death and pain are my church.
My name is Asher Creed.
I am the Executioner. 

***Reader note: This is the first of a 6-part emotional family saga series. Each story is 100% male first-person point-of-view, and while each full-length novel is guaranteed to have a complete HEA romance, their family mystery remains unsolved until the end of the series.

Review

THE EXECUTIONER starts with a quick prologue that shows Claire being abducted ten years ago, before continuing on in the present day.  Asher’s family has been left devastated by Claire’s disappearance, but Asher is also saddened at how his once-close family has drifted apart over the years, as each family member has suffered alone and in silence.

Asher is a very hard working, honest and down to earth man.  What you see is truly what you get.  While working as a prison guard is not his dream job, he takes pride in his work and is respectful, which translates into being somewhat respected by most of the inmates he works amongst.  Genevieve is a crime reporter who doesn’t just focus on the crime when writing her stories, but also on the victims and their families.  Being a victim herself, she understands that it’s the people who are left behind that tend to suffer the most.  She’s perfect for Asher in that she too is very hard working, respectful and has a lot of integrity.

While THE EXECUTIONER does involve a romance between Asher and Genevieve, the bulk of this story revolves around the Creed family members as they deal with Claire’s disappearance, even ten years later.  I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much about the romance between Asher and Genevieve, but I am very intrigued by Claire’s disappearance and would love to know how that story plays out.

THE EXECUTIONER is told only in Asher’s POV and ends in a cliffhanger.  It is considered a family saga, so the books cannot be read as stand-alones and they will need to be read in order.  Asher is the oldest of five brothers, and each brother will get their own story: Asher; Levi; Jamison; Joshua; and Silas.  Although, considering this will be a six-part family saga, I’m not sure who the sixth book will be about.  I have a theory, but it’s one I’ll be keeping to myself.  Looking at Amazon, the next three books are being released at the end of May, June and July.  If that’s the case, I’ll be very happy that we won’t have to wait too long to find out what exactly happened to Claire.

The Executioner (The Family Creed # 1)

My Rating:  

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The Family Creed Series

Sovietnik’s Fury

By V.F. Mason

Synopsis

Vivian
Terrified at what my family wanted to do to me, I ran away from them straight into the arms of a gray-eyed stranger.
The man taught me how to love, creating a cocoon around my heart that nothing could break.
I thought my old life was behind me, but my dreams didn’t come true.
They had found me and manipulated the situation in their favor, destroying my life in the process.
To save the man I loved, I had no choice but to betray him.
He was out of prison now.
He would come for revenge.
All I could do was pray for mercy.

Sovietnik 
Five years.
That was how long I had spent in prison for the crime I didn’t commit.
My life, my status, my woman were stolen from me.
So many people due revenge from for the injustice done to me.
But I’d start with the one who betrayed me the most.
The woman I loved, the only woman who occupied my thoughts all those years, from the moment I’d met her.
The only woman I used to live for.
Vivian.

Warning: 18+ due to sexual content, profanity, abuse, graphic violence, and adult subject matter. Standalone, although connected with Pakhan Duet series.

Review

Firstly, I love the cover, yes I too wanted his beard to run between my legs just like Vivian, wow their passionate scenes were H.O.T.!

Sovietnik’s does have immense fury, anger, betrayal but his ultimate love for Vivian and the need to protect her made him the champion.  The way the author told their love story between the past and present seemed to entwine without breaks, it simply flowed perfectly for me.  I do not normally like going backwards and forwards but I found in this story I was hungry for everything, their history, the plotting and I had questions and all were answered.

Well done to the author, I did not pick The Director, I had a hunch but until it was revealed I was still second guessing myself which in the end provided a great twist.  There are also other great small stories within this suspenseful journey especially with the Sovietnik’s family, Vivian and her sister and parents too that I loved.

The Sovietnik does get his revenge, it is at times dark, raw and gritty but done with total relevance to the story and I was with him every step of the way considering the injustice served to him.  I did also enjoy the friendship with his group of men and I found the Russian mafia story easy to follow.  I also really loved the endless protection and moments of humour given particularly between Vivian, Jake and the Russian men.

I literally picked this up and could not put down, it had me gripped to the pages, second guessing myself and then falling in love all over again with Vivian and the Sovietnik like they did 5 years earlier.

The Epilogue is brilliant and left me totally satisfied with the conclusion to their love story.

Sovietnik’s Fury

My Rating:  

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A Change in Tide

By Freya Barker

Synopsis

What impact would it have when everything suddenly faded to black?

For Mia, a crowded subway ride changes her entire life. Retreating to the wilderness helps her cope with a world that is suddenly too loud, too turbulent.
Her existence safely contained to the small cottage on the lake, she is unprepared for the neighbor that moves across the bay

A career-ending injury has Jared permanently benched. His reputation as The Enforcer won’t survive the unanticipated responsibilities awaiting him.
Away from the public eye, he adjust to his new reality, under the quiet observation of the intriguing hermit on the other side of the water.

Review

A Change in Tide is my first book by this author and will not be my last, her writing style, the way she interconnects the characters, their emotions, passion and humour was just fantastic.

As I got towards the Epilogue my eyes started to well with tears, I was simply not read to say farewell to this group of characters, I will be reading this story again and again, it is a beautiful story of hope, family and new beginnings.

The cover is pure and simple Jared, all masculine in that outdoors way, yet someone who would engulf you in a big bear hug and fight your demons.  I also am happy to say I loved that Jared was shy of 40 and Mia was slightly older, it was wonderful to read a mature love story of second chances and changing your life’s direction.

The story is told from both Jared and Mia POV and it switches with ease and we also get an entwining story of Jared’s sister, now I could read a whole novel on her running parallel to this story as so many scenes I was like, I want to know what is being thought, felt and whispered, but that is just me.  The humourous scenes around Jordy and Ole made me laugh many times which provided relief and John was a wonderful character and perfectly included – I was so in his alpha corner all the way.

Mia’s condition is written with heart and soul and it was respectful and as a reader you too were feeling the helplessness and loneliness.  I was with Mia every step of the way in her fighting through and deciding to embrace life again and to go with the flow of the tide.

A Change in Tide was a simply beautiful romantic story and upon finishing the last page I had a smile on my face and tears in my eyes – my soul was nourished.

Quote:  But if I truly want a new beginning – a total change in tide – I have to start with me.

A Change in Tide

My Rating:  

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Resurrecting Hope

By Jane Anthony

Synopsis

~Hope~
I’m broken.
I’m hiding.
I’m not the woman he claims he loves.
Hope Moon is a figment, a fairy tale. A single mom with sunny smiles on the outside, but whose pitch-black insides are riddled with demons.
I can’t look him in the face, can’t tell him who I am.
If I let my guard down, Jack will find me.
Jack’s wrath left me bound in hell.
Can Hank’s love set me free?

~Hank~
I’ve been hurt.
I’ve been used.
I’ve been betrayed.
But Hank Lawless isn’t a man to be trifled with.
Hope Moon has caught me like a fly in a web. Her gaze is haunted, her moves calculated. There’s more to the dark haired beauty than meets the eye. She’s hiding something.
I need to find a way to break down her defenses.
I vowed to walk beside her through her own personal hell.
But is my love enough to free her from it?

**This book contains mature content and is meant for adults 18+. It contains a trigger warning for graphic scenes of domestic violence and rape. It’s a story about second chances and overcoming your shattered past by any means necessary. Please take this into account before reading.**

Review

Resurrecting Hope was a beautiful read, my first by this author and I loved her writing style as it kept me glued to the pages, I could not put this story down.  Hope’s journey is hard, dark and yes dangerous at times but Hank when he joined the story you just knew he was with her all the way.

I devoured this story, I was hungry for more of Hank and Hope and also knowing that Hope and her past was ultimately going to catch up to her.  Hank and Hope’s passionate scenes were well written and give you plenty of heat and emotional connection.

So  many times I was shaking with fear, when we returned with Hope in her memories and nightmares to her life with Jack, the build up continued to the point of no return and you knew we would be facing him again as this story is about her resurrection.

The elephant in the room was funny to watch, the realisation and the new beginnings, I was in love with the optimism of a new start. Kira was a beautiful character and showed you more of the depth of Hope, her strength and dreams of a future of making a new life for herself.

This story ended perfectly and I also love the cover of this book.

Resurrecting Hope

My Rating:  

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Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers # 3)

By Sarina Bowen

Synopsis

A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

Review

PIPE DREAMS is a second-chance romance between Lauren and Mike, who broke up two years before due to a personal issue Mike had to deal with.  I won’t lie, how Mike ended their relationship years ago was all kinds of wrong, but then I guess there wouldn’t be a story if he had ended things the right way.

“Who’s the only one who really harmed me?”
“I am.”
“Good guess! And two years later I’m still waiting for the only apology that ever mattered.”

Due to Lauren’s cold and unfriendly demeanor in the previous two books, I was worried I wouldn’t like her in her own story.  But after being in her head for a few pages, I wasn’t worried anymore.  We find out why she acts the way she does—and I could certainly understand it—but in this book her demeanor does a complete 180, which is normally great, but I felt it changed too quickly and easily.  I liked Mike; he’s a nice guy and a good dad, but he didn’t make me swoon.  I admired the reason behind his breakup with Lauren, but again, he could have handled it so much better.

Even two years later, one glance at him made her remember how quickly her love had been thrown away.  Like yesterday’s trash.

Just like the change in Lauren’s behaviour, I felt their relationship was rekindled too easily.  Yes, Lauren tells Mike exactly how badly he hurt her, and they don’t come together until the second half of the book (from memory), but they fall into bed and then fall back into a relationship without any real discussion, while making a huge life changing decision.

PIPE DREAMS is told in dual POVs and while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  The story includes flashbacks to when they first dated, and I don’t know why but I had a hard time following the switch between the past and present.  I know it sounds like I didn’t enjoy PIPE DREAMS, but I really did.  It held my attention and Lauren and Mike are both likeable characters.  It’s just that after several days between reading it and reviewing it, these are the points that stand out the most.  We get a lovely HEA for Lauren and Mike, and it looks like we’ve seen some progress in the potential relationship between Nate and Becca.  Nate seems like such a geeky sweetheart and I know I’m not the only one who’d love to see their story.

Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers # 3)

My Rating:  

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Brooklyn Bruisers Series

Sex in the Sticks (Love Hurts # 1)

By Sawyer Bennett

Synopsis

Valentine French may be the sassiest dating columnist in New York City, but the abundance of metrosexuals in her adopted metropolis is seriously cramping her style. Where are the beefy all-American boys? Hoping to find some inspiration, Val heads to Alaska, where the men outnumber the women fifteen to one and wrestle grizzly bears for sport. Or so she can only imagine. Suddenly the most eligible bachelorette in a town full of horny lumberjacks, Val is writing her best columns ever. But if she doesn’t get her nose out of her laptop, she just might miss out on Mr. Right.

Logan Burke is the sheriff of the little podunk town that Val finds so charmingly backward. He’s not that different from the guys she’s using for her little experiment; it’s just that one date would never be enough for Logan. As he listens to Val complain about love over beers in the local tavern, he realizes that she can’t see the forest for the trees. Because if she would ever give up her Prada bags and fourteen-dollar martinis, Logan would give her the only luxury that matters: his heart.

Review

SEX IN THE STICKS is the first book in a new series from Sawyer Bennett and, after the last book of hers I read, I was grateful that it was a lot easier on my emotions.

“You are seriously the sexiest man I’ve ever known.  I swear your words could probably make me come.”
“We can try that out later.  But right now I want you on my face.”

I liked Valentine and the shameless attitude she displayed from beginning to end.  She believes that women can be just as sexually active as men, but she doesn’t sleep with every man she dates.  She simply enjoys dating and is trying to find a good man to be with.  Although she did behave like a diva when she first arrived in Alaska, she’s really quite down-to-earth despite her wealth and snotty upbringing.  She’s generous and friendly, but don’t get on her bad side because she will fight back.

Logan is a nice and easy-going guy, one who enjoys the simple life that his little Alaskan town has to offer.  He’s well liked and respected by the locals and is certainly no slouch between the sheets, but what I liked most about him were his apologies.  Especially his first one, which was one half sincere apology and one half alpha demand.  It made one hot combination.

SEX IN THE STICKS is told in dual POVs and comes with a HFN ending for Logan and Valentine.  There is an epilogue where you get a small glimpse of their future, but I hope we’ll get to see a little more of them in the other books in this series.  Of course, that will depend on whether the other books take place in the same town, which I can’t tell from the blurb of the next book.  I will say that the conflict was easy to predict, but I loved how Logan and Valentine came back together because their reconciliation wasn’t rushed and it didn’t happen overnight.  Their forgiveness took time and made for a better ending, in my opinion.

If you’re looking for a light hearted read with some wilderness adventure thrown in, SEX IN THE STICKS is for you.

Sex in the Sticks (Love Hurts # 1)

My Rating:  

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Love Hurts Series