Review: Single Dad’s Christmas Miracle

Single Dad's Christmas Miracle

Single Dad’s Christmas Miracle by Susan Meier
Pages: 256
Publisher: Harlequin Romance
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: Oct. 1, 2013
My Rating: 3.5  3.5

Synopsis:

He needs a helping hand…

Having recently lost his wife, Clark Beaumont is trying to make it through the holidays for the sake of his kids. But with his son failing at school and his little girl talking only in whispers, he needs nothing short of a miracle….

…when one arrives on his doorstep!

Althea Johnson is only meant to tutor Clark’s son. But with her help the Beaumont family begins to come alive again, and against the odds Althea hopes that when Christmas morning arrives there will be four stockings hanging over the fireplace…

My Thoughts:

This is a sweet and tender love story at heart. The issues that Clark and Althea had to deal with were difficult and unfortunately common ones. They were handled well and realistically.  The characters were believable and fully developed.

Clark lost his wife three years ago and learned the devastating secret she was keeping; a secret that destroyed his trust in women. His son Jack, who I loved, is having trouble with his schooling. What Clark doesn’t see is the other emotional trouble his son is in. Teagan his three year old daughter is also having issues that Clark dismisses as shyness. Little did he know that hiring Althea would turn his life and family around? Making him deal with a difficult issue that he has ignored and has caused him to act in a manner that he didn’t realize actually hurt his children.

Althea has been dealing with the severe abuse and its affects all her life. Having moved back to her home state to be near her sister she takes the tutoring job. As someone who knows the signs of a child suffering she can see what is really going on with Clark and his children. The fact that Clark truly loves and wants to protect his family is what keeps her there. Clark is inadvertently hurting himself and his kids, dealing with the aftermath of his wife’s death as best he can. Althea is a naturally caring and nurturing person; she works her magic on the family and helps them heal. In the process she falls for Clark and opens up to him, which takes her closer to her own healing. Watching Althea work through her past, deal with her insecurities, and grab the future she wants was both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

Overall this a good holiday read. Its focus is on family and healing. If you are looking for an uplifting sweat romance with a very satisfactory ending this is for you.

Single Dad’s Christmas Miracle on Amazon

Review: White Christmas: Woman Hater\The Humbug Man by Diana Palmer

White Christmas is 2 books in 1 – Woman Hater & The Humbug Man by Diana Palmer

White Christmas

White Christmas: Woman Hater\The Humbug Man by Diana Palmer
Pages: 368
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Review Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Release Date: September 24, 2013
My Overall Rating: 3.5

Synopsis:

Woman Hater:
Everyone in Nicole White’s office described their boss’s mysterious older brother as a real woman hater. So when Nicki had to tag along with her ailing employer to his brother’s Montana home, she was prepared for the worst.

To her surprise, what she found was a man more roughly masculine than any she’d ever met. But Winthrop Christopher’s distrust of women ran straight to the bone. Nicki knew she should steer clear of him, but she couldn’t hide the feelings he stirred in her. Could she ever teach him to love again?

The Humbug Man
Montana rancher Tate Hollister was the grouchiest widower Maggie Jeffries had ever met. But, as the holiday season progressed, Maggie discovered that Tate wasn’t completely immune to the Christmas spirit. In fact, his loving embrace might just be the gift of a lifetime….

My Thoughts:

Woman Hater
★★★★☆
This is a love story about two damaged people. Winthrop is a man that was not only left emotionally, but also physically broken by a past relationship. The woman he was with had a devastating car accident while she was driving. When it became apparent that Winthrop would not fully recover she left him. This betrayal had left him hating women, especially rich ones. He refuses to even attempt to love or trust again. That is until he meets Nicki.

Nicki lived a privileged upbringing in that she wanted for nothing that money could buy. It couldn’t buy her parents love however and when her mother dies she blames her father and renounces him and all his money. At the same time her fiancé dumps her for reasons that leave her scarred. Now living in Chicago her boss wants her to go to his brother’s ranch for a month. Not being able to live without pay for that long she goes and as expected falls hard for the woman hating brother.

This is basically a story about two people learning to love and trust again. Of course they couldn’t do so without each other. I really enjoyed the dance of Winthrop and Nicki as they would get close and then pull back. There is also the side story of Gerald and Sadie which was nice and didn’t overshadow the main plot. I also loved Mary, the housekeeper; she added some much appreciated humor.

The Humbug Man
★★★☆☆

This is a quick sweet read. Maggie and Tate have both lost their spouses and have been alone for years. Tate has hidden his hurt with a cold attitude and distance; while Maggie has basically hid behind work and raising her son. Spending time at the ranch her father-in-law left her over Christmas put her next door to Tate. They’re attracted to each other and as Tate thaws out and Blake’s plans come together they fall in love.

Overall this is very sweet story of two lonely and hurt people finding each other. The pace is fast, but it needed to be for the length of the story.

 White Christmas: Woman Hater\The Humbug Man on Amazon

ARC Review: Homecoming

HomecomingHomecoming (Cloaked Devices 0.5) by Cecilia Robert
Pages: 121
Publisher: Cecilia Robert
Review Source: Author/NetGalley
Release Date: Oct. 25, 2013
My Rating: 4 ★★★★☆

Synopsis:

*Mature Content Warning* 17+ for language and sexual content.

Five years ago, twenty-three-year-old panther shifter Sera Czedar left her home and her newly mated groom in a humiliating position after a mating ceremony gone wrong. She built a new life for herself in Varselles; the City of Outcasts where shifters exiled from their clans in the Seven Kingdoms can go for sanctuary.

Five years ago, panther shifter Levian Grayson was abandoned on the bonding bed by his bride, Sera. After years of tracking her, he arrives in Varselles, intent on staking his claim on her once and for all, even if it means hauling her over his shoulder just to make sure that happens.

Sera has always known her homecoming would eventually catch up with her one day. The one thing she can’t bear to do is hurt Levian, which will happen as soon as he finds out the reason she left him. Is she ready to take that path? Most of all, will Levian still want her when the truth comes out?

My Thoughts:

The first thing I noticed and loved was the cover. This is the first time I’ve read any of Cecilia Robert’s work and I’m really glad I gave it a try. I love finding new authors and unique stories and this one is definitely unique. It’s a cross between steampunk and paranormal. There are shifters, humans with talent and a mixture of the two. Good writing and Great world building brought the story to life.

Sera is a woman with secrets and hurts. She is living with outcast to hide both of these, but in the five years since she ran from her mate she’s forgotten to keep looking over her shoulder. It hasn’t been easy for her to survive. Sera has had to change from the young lady she was to the strong capable woman she’s become. What she’s had to do and undergo to survive has made her one badass heroine. When I found out what her big secret was my heart just broke for the innocent and vulnerable girl she used to be. I was impressed with Sera’s determination and strength to overcome her past and continue to move forward.

Levian is an Alpha in the best way. Hot, loving, tender, and most importantly faithful. He also has a very forgiving heart for those he loves. He has suffered for five years without his mate and in this novella he finds Sera and learns why she ran away. The conflicting emotions are portrayed perfectly. One minute he’s furious and a bit cold and mean; the next he can’t keep his hands off of Sera.

I did not get enough of Levian and Sera! I sincerely hope the next Cloaked Devices is a continuation of their story.   I would recommend this to anyone that likes a love story and/or paranormal romances. It’s also a great read for anyone who’s never read steampunk; it’s a gentle introduction into the genre.

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Marie Hall’s Triple Book Blast & GiveAway

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deaths_loverDeath’s Lover
Eternal Lovers series, Book 1
Release Date:  September 3, 2013

Eve Philips thought she could never love again. After her husband died in a hit-and-run accident, Eve poured her heart into her potions shop, Witch’s Brew, and hasn’t given any man a second glance—until Cian. As soon as she locks eyes with him, Eve knows she’ll never be the same. Gorgeous and mysterious, he incites a passion in her that she’s never felt before. And it’s almost otherworldly . . .

Cian knows Eve is special the minute they lay eyes on each other. He’s a supernatural being with a dangerous duty, and being seen is not part of the job description. But when he meets the kind, beautiful Eve, all the rules go out the window. Now that his superiors have gotten wind of it, he has a wicked enemy on his tail. Yet all he cares about is Eve: loving her, protecting her—and finding the right time to tell her his dark and terrible secret, a secret that threatens both of their lives . . .

Death’s Lover excerpt:

Cian waited within shadow just outside the entrance to the mall; the mortals he’d been sent to harvest should appear soon. Keeping his back to the crowd, he stood in such a way so that he had a clear view of the door as pedestrians filed and in out of the busy shopping plaza.

Using his essence, he transformed himself into an ordinary guy, hardly worth a second glance. Through all the years of using this guise, he’d never once been remembered. Right now, he needed people to look past him, not see the peculiarities that branded him not quite human. Unfortunately he couldn’t go fully invisible until the harvest time came upon him.

His hair turned a drab brown, short and barely reaching his collar, his eyes much the same color. The process happened so fast, no one even had time to react at all.

Staring at his gloved hand he waited for the next step of his transformation to take place. He didn’t have to wait long. A shock, like a burst of flame, ran down his arm and into his hand, turning him from man to monster. Fire traveled his veins, making him grunt with a momentary flash of pain. He hissed and snatched off his left glove, making sure he was well within shadow. The day was so drab and gray that unless he did something obvious, like flash the crowd, no one would turn his way.

He clenched his hand, studying the bones of his fingers. For an outsider, to look at the transformation would seem surreal. Above the wrist he was man—flesh and blood. But when the change overcame him, and it was time to harvest souls, the hand turned to a design of the macabre. The flesh, muscle, and tendon literally faded from sight.

Human depictions always had the grim reapers wearing the traditional black cowl with a sickle in their skeletal grip. In truth, reapers were as normal as man. You could pass them on the street, commenting on their remarkable beauty, little knowing that beneath the white smile and ever-present gloves lurked the killer of legend.

A small, noisy crowd of humans walked toward him. Shoving his hand into his pocket, he leaned against the wall and waited; it wouldn’t be much longer now.

After centuries of doing this job, he’d learned patience, the art of stealth, and the endless waiting game of death. For such a vital and intricate part of life, the actual moment of death could be unbelievably boring.

Several minutes later, an electrical rush of power surged through his body when a couple walked out. A man and a raven-haired witch. He felt her power ripple through the air like a powerful ocean current. The man though exhibited no energy, which meant he was fully mortal. The man grabbed the witch around the waist, pulling her close for a quick embrace.

Cian’s pulse pounded when she smiled. It was a good smile, the kind that made him want to return it, to see her do it again just so he could have the enjoyment of gazing on that kind of radiant and rare pure joy.

The man hopped in front of her and grabbed her hands, toying with her fingers. Her laughter was a rich, lilting sound, deep and throaty, hot and sexy, and for the first time in his life, Cian wondered what it might be like to have a woman look at him that way. He envied mortals in some ways, specifically the way they could enjoy life, short as it was, and how they loved one another. He couldn’t think of anyone who’d look so happy to see him.

Those thoughts were jerked from him as the final phase of his transformation washed through his body. A charge, like static energy, traveled through his pores, his blood, and in seconds he’d gone completely invisible. Only able to be seen by those straddling the line between life and death, he strolled purposefully toward the car garage.

Today’s scenario would be no different than the thousands of others he’d seen through the years. He could see it in his mind, like an image on a television screen. A carload of teenagers barreling through the garage, the interior of the car heavily laced with the thick stench of cannabis. The driver was laughing, blaring the Ozzy tune “Crazy Train,” unaware that soon he’d be indicted for two counts of vehicular homicide.

Cian often wondered at times like these why the humans couldn’t feel it. The end of their lifeline, the disturbance in the air, death; for him it was like the blast of trumpets, loud and hard to ignore.

Turning his attention back to the couple, he waited. The man popped open the trunk of a green sedan, laid down his packages, and flashed the witch a smile. She stood by the hood of the car, her midnight curls blowing in the stiff wind.

The faint rumble of an approaching engine echoed eerily through the garage. The vibrations traveled through the soles of his feet. Soon. It’ll all be over soon.

For a crazy second he wanted to scream at them. Move. Get out of the way. But he held his tongue. He wouldn’t interfere, that was the single most important rule of the reaper. His skeletal hand twitched, and he yanked it out of his pocket. No mistakes.

The car made a sharp left around a concrete post in the garage and swerved headlong toward the couple with a loud, echoing cry of rubber.

For Cian the scene was agonizingly slow, each detail sharp and clear, as if it were taking minutes, though in truth it would be done within seven seconds.

When they finally noticed it was already too late.

The witch’s golden eyes grew wide in her face. Blood rushed from her skin, leaving her a pasty white. Her hands covered her mouth as a scream of raw fear flew from her lips. “Michael!”

The smile on the man’s face died. He turned—unable to run for cover, to hide from his fate. She ran forward, arms outstretched, and tried to pull the man toward her.

Metal exploded against flesh. The sickening crunch of bone and tearing muscle warred with the scream of tires braking. The man was dragged under the car. She was flung aside, her limbs at odd proportions.

Cian’s heart clenched painfully when he saw her ravaged body lying so helpless on the ground. She looked like a morbid porcelain doll. Beautiful and broken.

Blood spattered everywhere. All over the windshield. Even on the neighboring vehicles in the next three slots. The overwhelming metallic stench was all around.

The car squealed to a halt, slamming against the side of the sedan. The shattering of glass echoed through the garage with an eerie finality. It was done; their bodies slowly dying, their souls waiting only for him to harvest and carry on to the appropriate afterlife.

The driver, a pimply-faced redhead emerged. “Oh no! No!” he sang the litany over and over. He ran a trembling hand through his hair and glanced up. A family in the next row over stared back in openmouthed shock.

“Get back in the car, Derek!” the girl in the passenger seat screamed.

The wind picked up flurries of snow, enclosing them in winter’s peaceful embrace. An ironic scene, at odds with the gruesome sight of death before him.

The kid jumped back in his car and squealed off with one last bump-bump in his wake.

Cian closed the gap between himself and the victims. First the male. The man’s face had been nearly sheared off. His forehead was cracked open and a constant stream of blood gushed from the wound. Kneeling, Cian extended his skeletal hand, ready to harvest the soul and carry it safely to the afterlife.

The man moaned and opened green eyes glittering with pain. He didn’t question why Cian was kneeling over him; instead he parted ruptured lips and croaked, “Save my wife.”

Cian glanced over at her prostrate form for a brief second and then shook his head with a sad, bitter twist to his lips. He’d seen many broken bodies in the past, never feeling more than quiet detachment. But seeing her now, hearing the wet gurgle of her breaths, it was like razor-sharp spikes driving through his heart.

He closed his eyes, chanting over and over in his mind: This is the order to life. Without order there would be chaos. To prevent the chaos there must always be order.

Taking a deep breath, he plowed on, finishing what he’d started. “Find your peace, human…” For us both. Then he gently caressed the man’s exposed cheek.

The light of death filled the man’s eyes, and a single tear slipped down his cheek. The mask of pain relaxed, and a soft blue mist exploded from the caved-in chest—the soul pulsed with energy and differing shades of blue.

A glowing portal of brilliant white opened before him. The melodic song of a bubbling brook and rustling grass momentarily made Cian forget—forget the pain and loneliness.

The soul glided toward the light. It shimmered and glowed as it stepped through the portal. Then it was gone. The light went too, and with it the temporary peace Cian had sought his entire existence.

One left. The thought was a needle stabbing into his brain. He tried to remain clinical and study her not as a victim, but as a task and a duty to fulfill.

She wasn’t in nearly as bad a shape as her husband had been. Both legs were broken at the hips. One foot was pointed north, the other south. Besides the obvious injuries, she also suffered a ruptured spleen and would soon die from internal bleeding.

Short, shallow breathing turned his gaze to her face. Thin and heart-shaped with full pink lips and almond-shaped eyes.

His hands trembled, something was causing him to hesitate, a strange feeling he had no name for. What was it? Curiosity maybe? Something about the witch tugged at his normally detached feelings about death and life. Do it.You must. Take her from this misery.

Her eyes snapped open. The lioness gaze ensnared him. Her bloody hand grabbed his fleshy one and his world turned upside down. Instantly images and thoughts came to him. The face of her husband, a sensation of overwhelming, heartrending love. The pain. The fear. The hope. Her hope exploded inside him like a seedling shooting through black earth.

His brows dipped, and his breathing spiked. He continued to share her emotions. He bit the inside of his lip, and the bitter taste of blood pooled on his tongue as he fought off the onslaught. He’d known upon first seeing her that she was a witch, had sensed her energy, but her powers were intense. He’d never come across a projecting empath as powerful as she was.

Cian took slow breaths and pushed his will against her own in an attempt to extricate himself from her furious assault. His will was like talons ripping and clawing at her insides; the back blast resonated through him. He reeled from it but couldn’t block himself off. She whimpered, moans spilled from her lips, and still she fought him.

He could break her wrist, force her to let him go. Force her to end the emotional battering. So why wasn’t he doing that?

Because he couldn’t. Because for the first time in an eternity she was making him feel—not just her pain, but her desperation for life. Emotions he’d never felt before. It was all so confusing, and yet…he’d never felt more alive. All his life he’d walked around in a daze. Moving from one soul to another, not living, just existing. For the first time he wanted. He felt. Because of her, and he’d betrayed her in the worse possible way.

Her eyes, glazed with pain, held his own. Defying him to take her life. She wanted to live.

Another shot of emotions slammed him. They felt like churning waves of angry sea crashing against him, stripping the flesh from his bones. Her anger beat at him, clawed at his throat with desperation.

Right then he made a decision. In defiance of his queen, the ruler of the reapers, he let her live.

 AVAILABLE NOW:
Amazon:   http://amzn.com/B00BL3P5EG
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crimson-night-marie-hall/1116812305?ean=2940148806288

Crimson NightCrimson Night
Night series, Book 1
Release Date:  September 5, 2013

 Welcome one and all to Carnival Diabolique– or what I affectionately like to call, the carnival of the damned. My name is Pandora, and though my face might not look familiar to you, you do know me. I’m a Nephilim. What does that mean? I’m half demon, what’s my other name? Lust. I’m the dark craving that drives you mad, makes you want, makes you reckless and stupid. I’m the drug you’ll do anything to get your hands on. But I’m not all bad. I fight for light, for goodness and truth. I love my job, killing vampires and werewolves, zombies, and freaks… it’s what makes me happy. But people are starting to disappear and lately I’ve felt a dark presence lurking around me. I think it might be a death priest and that’s really bad. There isn’t much a demon like me fears, but I fear them. This should have been easy, me killing the fanged freaks, getting rid of my pesky priest problem, but I’m about to be betrayed by the one person I thought I could trust with my life and before the night is through I’ll be covered in crimson…

My Review of Crimson Night

CRIMSON NIGHT Excerpt

“Why do you have this?” He waved the book he’d been reading at me like one might brandish a sword.

“What?” I shook my head. “The Bible?”

“Yes, the Bible, what’s it doing here?” His mouth set in a firm line, but I heard what he wasn’t asking. What he didn’t say was: What was the Bible doing in the home of a hell spawn?

“Over sixty percent of households have one, priest. Is it a crime?”

“Yes!” He shot to his feet, murderous rage dripped from his tongue like venom. “You’re a demon.”

I lifted a brow. “Half. Half demon, Priest. You gonna accuse me of something get it right.”

“You,” he pointed at me, “are an abomination. What would you know about light?”

Wow, insult the demon. How original. If Billy was looking for a reaction from me to justify his actions or to salve his conscience then he was screwed. I wasn’t taking the bait.

“Again, I ask you…why is it here?” His shoulders heaved with his labored breathing.

Why oh why had I decided to park my trailer so far away from the safety of the pack? All this yelling would have had my demon hoard—as I’m sure death god here thought of them—running to my door.

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble. James 2:19,” I finally said.

He looked as if I’d slapped him.

“What I read is my business,” I snapped.

“Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, thou shall not kill. Matthew 5:21.” His words were steel tempered in black velvet, they shivered down my spine. I licked my lips. “I saw you kill a man tonight. I saw you kill one in Austin. I saw you kill a girl in Venice.”  With each sentence he’d walked a little closer until now his face was back to within inches of mine. Sandalwood wrapped me up in its heady embrace. “Would you like me to go on?”

His lips were a feather’s touch from mine. Jeez, he had nice lips. The kind you wanted to pull into your mouth and suck on.

Then it struck me what he’d said. Venice. The last time I’d been in Venice was three months ago. I was suddenly more than just a little scared and fear always made me angry. I hated weakness. Especially in myself.

“Don’t you dare judge me! You know nothing about me.” My chest grew tight, breathing became harder. I wanted to smack him and lick him all at the same time. How sick was I?

He snorted. “Of course I do, Pandora.”

The sound of my name rolling from his lips made me shiver.

I narrowed my eyes and could feel the anger turning my normally ice-blue color a frosty swirling lavender. Anger. Lust. They were both two sides of the same emotion and my demon was feeding off of it.

“Then kill me, Priest. End this. Go ahead.”

He stepped away from me, it almost appeared involuntary.

“You know me so well do you?”

Again he wore that cold expression I was quickly learning to hate.

“You arrogant bastard,” I snarled, “you think you’re no different than me? Fool yourself if you want to. Judge me all you want, but you know it’s true. Go ahead, priest, kill me. And I promise to sit here like a good girl and take it.” I tilted my head to the side, my hair slid across my breasts. “But this offer is only good for the next minute. So you think about it real good, because I promise you, it will never be this easy again.”

He stared at me as if I were something unexpected. An oddity he was both repulsed by and curious about.

“Why did you let us leave earlier?” he asked in a voice so low I almost hadn’t heard him say it.

“I keep asking myself that same question.” I narrowed my eyes. “What do you think I am, Priest?” I don’t know why I asked that.

“Evil,” he said without skipping a beat. “You are pure sin.”

Crimson Night AVAILABLE NOW:
Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00EXCZXYE
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deaths-lover-marie-hall/1114701209?ean=9781455549887

Right NowRight Now
Moment series, Book 2
Release Date:  September 15, 2013

Sometimes in life….

Things were supposed to get better when Ryan met Lili. I was supposed to move on, get a life… but I’m stuck and lost. Things with my father are not good. There are demons in our closet, big ones. Ones I want to kill him for, I’m seeing a shrink, I’m trying to get better… but my life feels out of control, like I’m a raft adrift on the sea. I don’t know where to look, how to get anchored again, and then I meet Zoe Stone. Something about her draws me out of my rut, makes me laugh for real, smile, and for the first time in years I want to be more. But what will she think when she discovers who I really am?

…all we have…

When Alexander Donovan, aka The Golden Adonis, walks into my tattoo parlor, I know I’ll do anything to make that man mine. There’s an instant connection, a need to know more about him. Everything about him. But there’s also a mystery surrounding the guy, when people look at him they only see the man that laughs, that cracks jokes and makes the world think that everything’s okay, but I see the truth… I see the darkness that lurks so deep inside few would ever recognize it. I want to help him, I want to be with him, now I just have to make him trust me enough to let me in.

My Review of Right NOW

Right Now Excerpt

Her eyes were roaming my body and my skin prickled under her hot gaze. I knew I wasn’t bad to look at—dusty blond hair with an athlete’s body and gunmetal silver eyes that girls always fawned over.

But looking at her and looking at me, we couldn’t be more opposite.

“Vanilla?” I asked.

Giving a very satisfied smirk, she hopped up on the counter and crossed her legs, showing off very feminine curves and the tiniest, most delicious pair of ankles I’d ever seen. A gold ankle bracelet jingled as she bounced her foot.

“Means you look like you took a wrong turn.” She gestured to the room, never taking her molten brown gaze off me.

My lips twitched and I leaned forward, resting an elbow beside her. Close enough that I felt her heat, close enough that her scent of jasmine tickled my nose, made me hungry and crazed. Damn, she was hot.

“Those kids looking at the wall look just like me.” I lifted a brow and she leaned in, so close her minty breath washed over my lips.

My entire body tensed up and I had to curl my fingers into the counter to stop myself from yanking her hot, little body against mine and having my way with her.

“Yeah, but you can spot the posers a mile away. The ones who would never do something like this when they’re totally sober. So…” she walked her finger across my collarbone, making my flesh shiver and heat flash down my spine, “what are you doing here, va-nil-la?”

The way she broke up the word, the way she eased closer into me, damn…I was coming apart. She hadn’t even really touched me and already this was the best foreplay I’d ever had in my life.

Turning on the charm, I smiled and eased my hips just a little closer. She wasn’t the only one able to play this game.

“I want you to draw on me.” I threw down the gauntlet, hell she could draw a grim reaper all down my back if she wanted, so long as her hands touched me, somehow, someway.

Shaking her head, the flower in her hair brushed against my forehead. “I’m not an artist, yet. I do body modification.”

I got hard as a rock. My gut got hot; my thighs shook a little, because I knew that almost everyone who did it also owned some metal on them somewhere.

Looking at her again I looked for the piercings. And sure enough, I was right. Her ear lobes were stretched. Not as big and gaudy as some I’d seen, just small little holes that were actually dainty looking on her.

Flicking hair across her shoulder, she grinned. “Sorry, vanilla, the rest you don’t get to see.”

I gulped, only able to imagine where she had them.

She laughed and I’m sure my eyes were as wide as saucers. Feeling like a prepubescent teen all over again, I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans.

“What’s your name?” I asked, because I had to know. I wanted to know.

A secret smile danced across her face, brown eyes twinkled. “You mean you haven’t figured it out yet? I’m hurt, really I am.”

I frowned. “What are you—”

“Z,” the guy who’d been drawing the tat of the dragon and tiger, looked up with a hard fix to his square jaw. “He bothering you?”

Her smile still firmly in place, she shook her head. “Nah, I’m good.”

Dude looked pissed and suddenly I was too.

I don’t know why, but some caveman crap came over me and I narrowed my eyes right back at him. I didn’t care if he was the boyfriend or not, actually I did… because something about ‘Z’ (and I really had to find out her name quick) sparked a heat of fire inside of me I hadn’t felt ever.

“You dating?” I tried, but couldn’t keep the growl from my voice.

She hopped off the counter and my balls just about shriveled up, I didn’t want her to walk away. I wanted to talk to her, to… what… was I seriously wanting to talk to her?

Since when?

Z turned to go and I brushed her arm, desperate to keep her around.

“Look,” she glanced at my hand, which I dropped quickly, “we’re not dating anymore. Ryko’s a good guy, but he’s also slightly territorial.” She narrowed her eyes back at Ryko, who was still glowering at me. “He also happens to own the shop and doesn’t like to see me loafing. I’ve got work to do. It’s been nice, vanilla, but since you don’t have an appointment and we’re booked until closing, either make one for later or I’ll see you around.”

“Wait.”  I forked my fingers through my hair. “Pierce me.”

Her lips twitched. “What?”

Fuck me, what the hell was I doing? From a tattoo to a piercing? The universe had to be laughing at me.

“I want a piercing.”

She licked her upper teeth, and my heart clenched at the sight of her pink tongue. Were they pumping drugs through the ventilators here? My head was fuzzy and spinning and all I could smell was her jasmine and I know my pants were tenting and I could care less.

“I thought you said you wanted to be tatted?” Her eyes took on a knowing glint.

How many drunken losers hit on her every night?

Why did that thought make me want to punch one of them? I curled my fist.

“I don’t expect you to understand my reasons, Z,” I smirked when her eyes went slightly bedroom on me at the use of her nickname, “but I’m not leaving tonight without doing it.”

Planting her hands on her hips, she lifted her chin. “Fine. Far be it from me to kick out a paying customer. Even if he is stupid and is gonna regret it tomorrow morning.”

“I won’t.”

“We’ll see.” Hooking a finger, she turned around. “Follow me, frat boy.”

What the hell? Did I just scream frat, vanilla, loser to her or what? Somehow I didn’t think her nicknames were meant to be cute at all, but I wasn’t arguing.

Tipping my head at the guy standing next to me who was still ogling her ass, I sprinted around the counter and followed her into a private room with a black curtain in front of it.

The room was dark inside, with only a blue glow coming off the lamp in the corner. A body table lay pushed up against the wall.

“Get on,” she pointed.

Pulse thundering, nerves strung a little tight, I hopped up on the table.

Her movements were brisk and efficient as she walked to a medicine cabinet and pulled out a pair of latex gloves, snapping them on her hands a second later. Pushing her fingers together to get the gloves down properly, she lifted a brow at me. “So, what’ll it be?”

She was calling my bluff, because she knew as well as I did that I didn’t have a clue.

Why the hell had I decided to listen to a sheet of paper anyway?

I scrubbed my face. “What do you like?”

The way she nibbled on her lip, I had to take a deep breath and try to inconspicuously adjust my straining cock.

Walking toward me, she placed her hands on either side of my legs and I swear I was trembling like a freaking virgin. Even sitting, she still wasn’t taller than me, but it didn’t seem to faze her at all.

Her hair was in my face as her warm breath caressed the side of my ear.

“You really want to know?” she purred, voice throaty and decidedly wicked.

Was it possible to explode from just the sound of a voice? My heart was racing like a rabbit on crack. I licked my lips as her hand worked torturously, slowly up my thigh and then I squeaked—like squeaked squeak… like I want to die because that girly sound just came out of me kind of squeak—when she cupped my junk in her hands.

“I’ve always thought the Prince Albert was hot.” Then she nibbled the lobe of my ear and I couldn’t speak.

My entire body was quaking, trembling so hard I knew she saw it.

Then she pulled back and laughed and the sound was a brush of bells against my sensitive flesh. “But it’s totally up to you.”

It took two times of throat clearing before I trusted myself to speak. She’d touched me, touched me. Down there.

Fuck.

I was so turned on, if she kissed me, I would have come. That would have been it, mortifying… hell yeah, but I don’t think I would’ve cared because it would be worth it. My balls ached and I knew tonight was going to be a twofer, at least. Unless I could convince her to come home with me.

“Don’t think I’m ready for a cock piercing,” I finally managed to say.

She only smiled and I knew what she was thinking: Vanilla. It was written all over her face, but even I had my limits for this mysterious girl.

“Then what are you ready for?” Her tone was teasing, but carried an edge of steel beneath the velvet. She was testing me again and something in me didn’t like the thought that she found me as lacking and vanilla as she accused me of being.

“Nothing below here.” I flattened my palm above my belt.

She was back in my space again, filling my head with jasmine and the sound of her throaty voice.

Both palms flat on my stomach, she ran them up my abs, and then across my chest, before rubbing my nipples between her fingers.

I hissed, as the nerves danced and shot fire straight down to my already aching cock.

“Nipple piercing’s then?”

“Ungh…” I’m not even sure anything intelligible dropped from me, but I couldn’t think straight. All I wanted was to throw her down on this table, hike her skirt up and find that hidden piercing.

“But,” her nose moved up the line of my neck, “I’m not sure the girls could handle seeing that much eye candy at the lake.”

No response. Nothing, I just panted, gripped the edge of the table and tried to remember this wasn’t a sex parlor.

“There’s only one other piercing that really does it for me. Do you know what that is, Alex?”

I shook my head.

Fuckmefuckmefuckme… I was going to implode, I knew it.

Her thumb ran across my lower lip and I couldn’t help myself, I nibbled it. The taste of latex was disgusting, but I didn’t stop because I had to touch her.

“A lip ring.”

Her mouth was inches, inches from mine and I knew it would take nothing for me to lean in and take it, slip my tongue past her teeth and drown in her.

“Think you can handle that, vanilla?”

“Ungh…” There went that stupid crap out of my mouth again.

I was not prepared for how quickly she pulled back, how bereft my body felt without her heat crawling all over me, or how down to business she suddenly became. I was still panting, still sweating under my collar.

“Shit,” I grumbled, as she walked back to the medicine cabinet and started pulling out packets of instruments.

“Rethinking this already?” she asked as she worked with her back to me.

How could she act that way? Like she hadn’t just been about to make me come in my pants, how she’d made me pant and moan like a dog in heat.

Sick, slightly mortified, I breathed through the tension twisting my gut in knots.  She’d played me like I’d played so many others and being on the receiving end of it sucked ass.

Thankfully, by the time she got her stuff together I’d pulled my shit together too. She flipped on a switch by my head and flooded the room with bright lights.

She had a pair of what looked like baby tongs in her hand. “I’m going to pinch your lip with this.”

“Does it help numb it?”

Lips twitching again, I knew the second I asked that I sounded like an idiot.

“No, not really. It’s just for placement and so I can hold your mouth still.” Bending over, she opened my mouth, not nearly as sexy as what happened before because this time she was purely professional about it. “Okay, I like it right there. Now, when I tell you to breathe, take a deep breath. It’s not going to hurt, not really, just pinch a little. Vanilla, one last time, you sure you want to do this?” Her brown eyes were suddenly serious and intense, like she expected me to jump off and run away and the thought was like a bucket of ice water in my face.

I was a fucking man, whether she believed it or not. And just because a sheet of paper told me to be opposite didn’t mean I was going to turn into a baby about this afterwards.

I didn’t answer, just lifted a brow.

“Fine. Here we go.” Grabbing a long ass needle, she touched the tip to my lip. “One, two, breathe.”

I was just inhaling when she shoved it through. It did bring tears to my eyes, that couldn’t be helped, but I’d be damned if I let them fall.

“Okay, almost done.” Attaching a cork to the bottom of the needle, she then grabbed a small silver hoop and in the next breath the needle was out and the hoop was in. “Doing good?”

“I’m not gonna faint if that’s what you’re wondering,” I muttered, beginning to get edgy. She didn’t know me, didn’t know anything about me.

I wasn’t some punk ass frat boy with too much to drink and no sense of reality. So okay, maybe I’d had the stripper twins in a bathroom earlier, but that wasn’t really who I was.

Taking a pair of pliers, she twisted on the metal in my mouth until satisfied with it.

Then her full lips curled into a crescent moon and my heart started thumping again. Cranky or not I could still admit the girl was hot when she did that.

Handing me a hand held mirror she lifted a brow. “So what do you think?”

I thought it didn’t look as bad as I’d feared it might. It didn’t really alter my appearance by much, the ring wasn’t huge. But something inside me felt different, not like a sheet of paper tossed in the wind, but anchored again somehow.

“It’s good,” I mumbled, and hopped off.

Snapping her gloves off, she tossed them into the waste bin. “Good, fifty bucks, frat. Let’s go pay.”

I didn’t get to ask her for her number, and honestly after the stunt she pulled with me in there, I had no desire. Not to mention Billy bad ass kept eyeing me like a dog eyeing steak, and I knew it was time to head home.

Lying in bed, hands behind my back I stared at the ceiling and played with the metal in my mouth. It tasted weird, but I liked it. I liked what it symbolized, what it made me feel.

Somehow my thoughts drifted to Z. I wished I knew her name. No matter that she’d made me look like a pathetic boy toy back there, the girl had turned me on. My cock was still heavy, my balls aching.

Grabbing hold of myself, I hissed as the tremors immediately wracked my sensitive nerves. All I had to think about was the tats and hidden piercing and in two strokes I was coming so hard, it bowed my back off the bed.

Panting, I blinked and started to make my way to the bathroom to clean up when it suddenly dawned on me, she’d called me Alex.

I’d never given her my name.

Right Now
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MHallBanner2

Marie Hall has always had a dangerous fascination for creatures that go bump in the night. And mermaids. And of course fairies. Trolls. Unicorns. Shapeshifters. Vampires. Scottish brogues. Kilts. Beefy arms. Ummm… Bad boys! Especially the sexy ones.

On top of that she’s a confirmed foodie, she nearly went to culinary school and then figured out she could save a ton of money if she just watched food shows religiously! She’s a self-proclaimed master chef, certified deep sea dolphin trainer, finder of leprechaun’s gold at the end of the rainbow, and rumor has it she keeps the Troll King locked away in her basement. All of which is untrue, however, she does have an incredibly active imagination and loves to share her crazy thoughts with the world!

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Review: The Forever Dream

Forever Dream, theThe Forever Dream by Iris Johansen
Pages: 291
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept
Review Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Release Date: June 10, 2013
Rating: 3 ★★★☆☆

Synopsis:

Jared Ryker is a gifted genetic scientist. But the brilliant recluse has never found anyone he can share his life with—until he meets Tania Orlinov, the incomparable prima ballerina and Soviet defector who expresses the exquisite beauty of love in a way that only dance can reveal. But Tania has no interest in love, which only fuels Jared’s attraction, one that grows into an obsession.
 
As Jared gets closer to Tania, he is torn between compassion and overpowering desire. When their passion flares, they both are stunned by its depth and intensity. But their private fantasy is shattered by powerful forces that are determined to seize control of Jared’s research, which holds the key to an astonishing secret. As a deadly confrontation looms, Jared and Tania prepare to fight for their lives—and for the freedom to build a future in each other’s arms.
 
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: Flirting with Disaster, Taking Shots, and Long Simmering Spring.

Review:

I liked this one and yet I didn’t. I’m not sure if I can explain it, it may just be my personal preferences. The writing was very good, the pace was good, and the story took a few turns that surprised me. I think that I was bothered/frustrated by Tania’s hot then cold attitude towards Jared; it went on too long for me. There were some things I felt were a bit over the top, but went with this story. I won’t say what they were because it would spoil too much. Overall I liked Tania; she’s a very strong and determined individual.

Jared is a man who has never known love and has always been lonely. Finding Tania changes that, even if she is brought to him in a way he would never have done. Once I got past his arrogance, which is deserved if annoying, I fell for Jared. He is loving and tender with Tania. He understands her and accepts her for who she is flaws and all.

I would recommend this, especially to those who like contemporary romance with angst and mystery. Oh, and some HOT times between the H and h.  I do wish there had been more to the end; I got my HEA, but a less abrupt conclusion would’ve been more satisfying.

 The Forever Dream on Amazon
on B&N

Review: Carved In Stone

Carved In StoneCarved in Stone by Kate Douglas
Pages: 226
Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing
Review Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Release Date: September 13, 2013
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Synopsis:

Archeologist and folklore expert Nate Murdock has discovered ancient stone carvings that will either revolutionize thinking in his field or get him laughed out of it entirely, and he’s hired world-renowned photographer Alex Martin to document his find and bolster his claim. When the alluring Alexandra Martin, not Alex, shows up for the job, Nate’s not sure whether to send her packing or take her into his arms.

Alexandra Martin, the daughter of the famed photographer and just as talented with a camera, is a dark-haired and dark-eyed beauty. Years ago her father built his reputation on photographs he’d stolen from her, and she’s out to prove once and for all that she’s the real deal. When the opportunity to work with the celebrated and ruggedly handsome Nate Murdock falls into her lap, she jumps at the chance—whether he likes it or not.

As tempers flare and accusations fly, the two dig in for a battle of wills and an uneasy truce at their remote mountainside camp. But when drug smugglers trap them in a cave and leave them to die, Nate and Alexandra realize they must trust each other—and the fiery passion growing between them—and surrender to a mysterious force as it guides them through a perilous escape and the acceptance of a powerful love as primal and compelling as the mountain itself.

My Thoughts:

This is a unique story as far as the paranormal aspect is concerned.  It is well written with no editing issues that I noticed. The intimacy between Alex and Nate is steamy and intense without being too explicit.

Alex is a woman with some serious control issues, sometimes to her detriment. The issues stem from the relationship, or lack of, that she has with her father. His betrayal devastated her. On top of that her ex was a real jerk. Alex seems to have painted all men by their standards and is determined to stay away from them. She fights her attraction to Nate with everything she’s got and I have to admit at times she got on my nerves. It was a bit OTT with Alex getting close to him and then closing up and pushing him away. I can see where that was a necessary part of the story; didn’t stop it from being annoying at times. I’ll admit that when she gives her heart she really gives it.

Nate is a man burned by a past relationship and he also fights his desire for Alex in the beginning. He comes across as a real person with character flaws and issues. There were a few times when he would get angry and go off on Alex in an almost cruel way and I did not like him at those times. I understood it was a protective reaction and he felt bad after, but still. They finally come together while they try to get out of the cave, solve the mystery of the mountain, and stop the smugglers.

There’s plenty of action throughout the story. I enjoyed the mystery of the cave and had to wait until it was revealed, didn’t figure this one out.  Overall I enjoyed the story and recommend this to those wanting a romance with plenty of action and a bit of the paranormal with it.  I felt the  HEA was believable.

 Carved in Stone on Amazon

Kate DouglasAbout the Author:

Kate Douglas is the author of the popular erotic paranormal romance series Wolf Tales and Dream Catchers, as well as the Zebra series DemonSlayers. She is currently writing the next Chanku series, Spirit Wild. The first book in the series, Dark Wolf, is available now.

Kate and her husband of over forty years have two adult children and six grandchildren. They live in the beautiful wine country of Sonoma County, California, in the little town of Healdsburg.

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Review: Bad Kitty

Bad Kitty_finalBad Kitty (Southern Shifters #1) by Eliza Gayle
Pages: 155
Publisher: Gypsy Ink Book
Review Source: Publisher
Release Date: September 10, 2013
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Synopsis:

If you think you’ve lost everything. Think again.

Kitty lost her father, her home and her clan. Clinging to what’s left of her pride, she’s forced into the neutral zone, the supposed safe haven for half-breeds and outcasts. An attack forces her to the wrong side of the treaty line and into an even more dangerous situation. Determined to greet death with the last of her dignity, she is suddenly rescued by a tall, gorgeous…wolf???

As the next alpha leader of his pack, Rafe Comyn has more than enough to handle with pack politics and precarious treaties. The last thing he needs is a pissed off feline landing in his lap, especially when her scent triggers his overwhelming drive to mate. While the daughter of a former rival is quite a conquest, she’s both forbidden and dangerous.

But as the heat of desire threatens to consume them, their differences escalate and Rafe must keep his own pack from killing the one woman he can’t live without.

My Thoughts:

This is a well written and fun erotic paranormal romance. There’s plenty of action and it starts on the first page. I read it in through without stopping. I admit there were times I wished it had resolved the relationship with Kitty and Rafe, but I liked how they ended up.

Kitty has been through a lot and even more happens to her as the story unfolds. She doesn’t even get to see the inside of her new house when someone tries to kill her. As a result of running from that attack she is thrust into Rafes life. Good thing for her he came along when he did.

Rafe is a hot alpha who knows what he wants and goes after it. He is kind and caring toward Kitty, which is a new experience for her. Rafe systematically faces every challenge that tries to come between them.

On top of all the action and drama there’s the sex; it’s hot, passionate, and at times very intense. There is an open ending, not sure if the story will continue with Rafe and Kitty or if it’s a setup for new characters. Either way I can’t wait to read the next one and was happy with the ending to Bad Kitty.

 Bad Kitty on Amazon

Review: The Lies We Tell

Lies We Tell

The Lies We Tell by Elizabeth Dunk
Pages: 107
Publisher: Escape Publishing – Harlequin Enterprises, Australia
Review Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Release Date: August 1, 2013
My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis:

Ten years ago, Todd Lansing stood over his father’s grave, his heart thumping out curses on Sia Collins for causing his death. When he returns to Oberon and sees Sia again, his heart thumps with a different emotion, one he fights with all the anger he still feels.

Sia didn’t commit the break-in that ended up killing Mr. Lansing, but to admit that would send her father to jail. She has rebuilt her life in the small town, atoned for her accused crime, and carved out a niche using her talent with paint to reach out to the community, raise funds, and support her family.

When Todd finds out the truth, he can’t understand why Sia won’t speak out and clear her name, and it threatens to tear them apart. With her relationship with Todd on the line, will Sia choose loyalty or love?

My Thoughts:

This is a quick read, but it’s got romance, some steamy scenes, and definitely emotion. The pace of the story is fairly fast, but works well with the length and the plot.

Sia is a woman paying for the misdeeds of her father. She took the blame herself to save him. Unfortunately it also ruined her relationship with him and Todd, the boy she was crushing on. It has taken her a while, but she has recouped her reputation in the town, along with Todd’s mom and brother. At first I thought she may have been TSTL putting up with all the abuse from her father and continuing to protect him. It didn’t take me long to see Sia’s inner strength, love and loyalty to family. She fought for her father, not for him, but for her siblings. Some of the things she had to go through brought tears to my eyes.

Todd has hated Sia since his father’s death. Back when it happened he did what he could to hurt and ruin her, now that he’s in town that’s his plan again. That is until he learns the truth behind the first lie. Todd is a man fighting his own demon and unknowingly taking it out on the easiest target, Sia. At first I wasn’t real keen on Todd, but once he realized he was wrong the turnaround was amazing and his tender side came out.

This title is very accurate, it’s full of lies. Todd and Sia work together to uncover the layers of lies one at a time. Other than the first one I didn’t see them coming. I loved the way Sia grew throughout the story from living for everyone else to standing up for herself and understanding she couldn’t take care of her siblings unless she stood up for and took care of herself. I won’t say more for fear of spoiling it, but if you’re looking for a quick and enjoyable read I do recommend The Lies We Tell.

.

The Lies We Tell on Amazon

ARC Review: Right Now

Right Now

Right Now (Moments #2) by Marie Hall
Pages: 237
Publisher: Marie Hall Publishing
Review Source: Author
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2013
My Rating: 5 ★★★★★

Synopsis:

Sometimes in life….

Things were supposed to get better when Ryan met Lili. I was supposed to move on, get a life… but I’m stuck and lost. Things with my father are not good. There are demons in our closet, big ones. Ones I want to kill him for, I’m seeing a shrink, I’m trying to get better… but my life feels out of control, like I’m a raft adrift on the sea. I don’t know where to look, how to get anchored again, and then I meet Zoe Stone. Something about her draws me out of my rut, makes me laugh for real, smile, and for the first time in years I want to be more. But what will she think when she discovers who I really am?

…all we have…

When Alexander Donovan, aka The Golden Adonis, walks into my tattoo parlor, I know I’ll do anything to make that man mine. There’s an instant connection, a need to know more about him. Everything about him. But there’s also a mystery surrounding the guy, when people look at him they only see the man that laughs, that cracks jokes and makes the world think that everything’s okay, but I see the truth… I see the darkness that lurks so deep inside few would ever recognize it. I want to help him; I want to be with him, now I just have to make him trust me enough to let me in.

Is Right Now

My Thoughts:

I loved this book as much as the first in the Moments series. I was hooked from the first page and stayed up way too late to finish. This is about Alex, cousin to Ryan from the first book. As with the previous book Right Now deals with the same dark and difficult issues. I’m starting to get spoiled by the great writing and captivating stories from this author.

Alex was introduced in the first book, but we get to know who he really is this time around. Alex has spent his life making sure Ryan was alright, as alright as he’d ever be, since the incident when he was six. Ever since Ryan got his life on track Alex has been lost. His façade of the smiling, laughing, and everything is fine is starting to crack; even if no one really notices. He uses sex with multiple forgettable (to him) women to forget and cope with the devastation his father has caused. It’s the fortune from a fortune cookie that causes him to admit he doesn’t like the way his life is headed and results in his impulsive trip to the tattoo parlor. This where he meets Zoe, who turns out to be the one woman he can’t forget.

Zoe knows who Alex is and doesn’t fawn all over him or give in as all the other women in his life has done. She gives him as good as he’s ever given. Loved the way she played him the first time. Zoe has her issues with her family as well, but she seems to have come to terms with it in a more healthy way. Not that they don’t still hurt her, or that her mother isn’t still distant and disapproving. Zoe takes the journey from rock bottom and self-destruction toward a healthy and productive life with Alex. She gets hurt by Alex more than once and lets him know that she won’t but up with his behavior any longer. Its Zoe’s strength to let him go that pushes Alex to face some serious demons and tell her the truth. I felt for Zoe and got just as mad at Alex, but knowing what she didn’t was frustrating at times. I was so happy when Alex came clean with her and loved the way they “reconnected” after the revelation. When Alex allows himself he can be so sweet and loving.  

Mostly focusing on Alex and Zoe’s story we get to see more of Ryan and Lili. Ryan and Alex’s therapist is also introduced and she is a great addition to the story. We get to see that help is needed to deal with these issues, but the therapist is loving, tough, funny, and effective. I wish I’d had a therapist like her when I was dealing with these issues.

I also got to meet Thor, a friend and coworker of Zoe. I really got to like him and can’t wait for his story. That right there’s going to be a third book in the series and it’s about Thor!

Yes, this is a story dealing with very serious and difficult subjects and it was difficult to read at times, but there was also some laugh out loud moments. There’s a wonderful balance of humor, angst, and romance. I applaud the way Marie Hall dealt with the issues! They were handled realistically with no sugar coating. She shows how many people are affected by the betrayal of Alex’s father and how everyone deals with it differently. The characters are very believable. They aren’t perfect and make mistakes, some over and over again until they finally learn from them.

Do I recommend this series? Yes! Be warned to tread carefully if certain things are triggers for you, this is a difficult but rewarding read. I have to say that you must read the first book A Moment before this story good thing it’s free right now.

A Moment on Amazon

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ARC Review: Wild Cards

Wild Cards

Wild Cards (Wild Cards #1) by Simone Elkeles
Pages: 352
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Review Source: Publisher/NetGalley
My Rating: 4 ★★★★☆

Synopsis:

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.
Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain—people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

My Thoughts:

This was my first Simone Elkeles book and I’ll definitely be reading more of her work. This was a thoroughly engaging read. I don’t read a lot of young adult, I would if they were more like this one. In this unique story we have two people dealing with family issues, romance, and betrayal.

Ashtyn is a complex young woman. She plays football for her high school, but has her feminine side as well. She has been raised by her father who has dealt with his wife’s (Ashtyn’s mother) abandonment. He pays little if any attention to Ash. All she feels from her father is disappointment or neglect. Ash thought being the kicker for her team would get some notice, if not love and approval, from her father. You would think that being the only girl on a High School football team is what made Ahstyn tough, but it was actually the neglect and lack of love coming from her father.

Derek is a bad boy who plays a prank at school with his friends and is expelled. Left with nowhere to go he has to move back home with his step mom. His father is in the military and deployed. Derek is basically a loner; in response to the upheaval of his life he seems to reevaluate and start to grow into the man he will become.

I felt for Derek and Ashtyn as they face challenges and the growing attraction to each other. I really don’t want to spoil this one which is making this review a bit difficult 😉 If you’re looking for a romance that offers humor, personal growth, mystery, and some angst this is for you.

Wild Cards on Amazon

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