BLOG TOUR ~ THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY BY HEATHER LYONS

From the author of the Fate series and The Deep End of the Sea comes a fantastical romantic adventure that has Alice tumbling down the strangest rabbit hole yet.

After years in Wonderland, Alice has returned to England as an adult, desperate to reclaim sanity and control over her life. An enigmatic gentleman with an intriguing job offer too tempting to resist changes her plans for a calm existence, though. Soon, she’s whisked to New York and initiated into the Collectors’ Society, a secret organization whose members confirm that famous stories are anything but straightforward and that what she knows about the world is only a fraction of the truth.

It’s there she discovers villains are afoot—ones who want to shelve the lives of countless beings. Assigned to work with the mysterious and alluring Finn, Alice and the rest of the Collectors’ Society race against a doomsday clock in order to prevent further destruction . . . but will they make it before all their endings are erased?

5 stars!!
Earlier this year I went gaga over this author’s The Deep End of the Sea and thought that she couldn’t possibly write another book that could top it in originality but I was wrong. Out of all the books I’ve read, I have never read a story quite like The Collectors’ Society and I love that. Reading this book recaptures that ‘firsts’ feeling: The one where you’re reading a story and it’s completely fresh content, never been explored topic and you’re both giddy and anxious to see where it goes because you truly have no idea what could happen. There are no point of references. There are no other books you can compare it to because it is one of a kind.
This book is an adult fantasy romance filled with adventurous wonders and loosely based off Alice in Wonderland. Just to clarify, you do not need to read/watch/know anything about the movie/book to understand this book. This author excels at writing retellings and spinning them into her own unique story. While romance is a heavy element in the book, it’s not the only aspect and the main couple isn’t the only one to take the spotlight. One of the things I love so much about this book is that it explores so much – from rich setting to elaborate plot to each individual character – but in a concise manner. This book gives voice to many well-known literary characters that are a part of the story and whether you know about them or not the author portrays another (fictional) side of each character that is both fascinating and refreshing.
Now for the plot. Normally I launch into a mini summary of the plot but I can’t do that with this book. The best books are usually the ones where even mentioning a little of the plot triggers the domino effect and spoils the story, which is the case with this book. All I feel comfortable saying is that the intricate plot forces both the characters and the reader to reevaluate preconceived notions and it is one so well thought out and calculated my head was spinning. It’s just so SMART and I love books that make me think and feel at the same time.
As for the main characters, I think the author did a brilliant job panning out their background and their personalities. The heroine Alice is seriously kickass in a way I’m actually jealous of how kickass she is. It’s obvious from the start she escaped from a parallel world called Wonderland and is in an asylum in order to retain some of her sanity and eventually, re-enter English society. Her plans go awry, however, when the leader of a secret organization called The Collectors’ Society recruits her for one of the most important missions in a race against a doomsday clock. It is within this society she meets the hero Finn, a quirky, enigmatic and naturally charismatic fellow who becomes her partner in this mission. And while there is an initial attraction between the two, the author doesn’t make it overshadow the book where lust and angst take over the book; it’s a rather gradual and believable romance that develops.
At this point in the book, the story is both nail-biting engaging and laugh out loud funny but the one thing that was missing was the deep emotion required if it’s to be a 5 star read. I was thinking that I would finish it with a 4-4.5 star rating in mind but then the most glorious plot twist happened and an absolutely electrifying character entered the book and my heart was a goner. I don’t think I have EVER fallen for a character in less than one page and honestly didn’t expect that to happen here but it did. This is so frustrating for me to describe because I can’t even reveal who he is and especially not his name without it being a spoiler. It’s safe to say, this man STOLE my heart and I spent the last 25% bawling like a baby.
“I love how his heart is big and beautiful and generous and that it, when circumstance demanded, allowed itself to break repeatedly rather than allow others to suffer.”
…Yeah, I can’t. *SNIFFS* Please don’t take this as someone died. Not all crying is because of death.
And that is all I’m going to say about this mystery guy and plot twist.
This book had my complete attention from the intriguing beginning to the explosive ending and I honestly think that both pure romance readers and fantasy lovers will enjoy what this book has to offer in terms of an original, mindblowing storyline and an unexpected heartfelt romance.
The Collectors’ Society is the first book in a new series and while it’s designed to be a story that continues on in the next few books, it can technically be read as a standalone as the conclusion to this book is a satisfying one.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—she’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.

BOOK REVIEW ~ MADE BY J.M. DARHOWER

The world knows the notorious Kevlar Killer, but few have ever seen what lies beneath his armor. The abused child. The neglected teenager. The broken man. He always did whatever he had to do in order to survive.

It’s kill or be killed.

Throughout his life, he has been there in the shadows, a witness to everything from beginning to end. Bound by loyalty and honor, there’s only one thing he would sacrifice it all for: family.

Never get close. Never get attached. It’s a lesson that has been brutally pounded into him since childhood, but they’re words the DeMarcos make it difficult for him to follow. Through them he finds love and grieves loss, realizing the world isn’t quite as black and white as it’s made out to be.

Made.

5 stars!!
I could spend days telling you how much I’ve been looking forward to this book so I’ll just go with a simple ‘I’ve been waiting for Corrado Moretti’s story since 2012.’ Not only was he one of my earliest book boyfriends, but he also was the very first guy I’d read about who was in the mafia so needless to say, he has a very special place in my heart. I was surprised that this book was longer than the Sempre books but that made me happy; the more Corrado, the better! This book is like a chronicle of Corrado’s life and each part is categorized by a major turning point in his life. J.M. Darhower left no stone unturned; from his childhood to teenage years to the Corrado we know him now as is all written down and I lapped it all up. But first, the beginning…
Before Corrado was known as the fearless Kevlar Killer, before he was ever exposed to the harsh mafia world, he was a boy. A lonely, misguided and mistreated boy who suffered from his mother’s physical and emotional abuse and had a father who was always absent. Growing up under these family circumstances, Corrado further isolated himself from what you’d expect normal kids to grow into. And eventually he realizes that he doesn’t fit in. He’s different. The life he currently lives holds no meaning and he has no purpose. Traits like detachment, decisiveness, and cunning all points him in the direction of his father’s ‘career’ path, the mafia. And even though he starts off on shaky ground, Corrado finds his true talents and purpose with mafia work. The adrenaline, the rush of power, the hits all come natural to him.
We’re treated to multiple scenes where Corrado more than proves his worth along with intriguing mafia dynamics and most importantly, his beautiful relationship with Celia, his one and only weakness. In the Sempre books it’s heavily hinted that Corrado and Celia’s marriage was a love match but the one question that plagued me was how? How does one as cold as Corrado and one as bright as Celia fall in love? This book is the answer. Their relationship is anything but predictable and the way their paths cross had me sighing and swooning. I think what makes Corrado more endearing to me than most heroes is that despite the dark, suffocating world he lives in, he hasn’t completely lost his ability to love even though he’s unemotional most of the time. So when a man like him falls, he falls deep and he falls hard. And there isn’t a better girl he could’ve fallen in love with than the vivacious Celia who brings light into his dim world. Normal concerns couples have like cheating, jealousy, etc…are so trivial and petty to him because there will only ever be one woman for him. That one woman who is worth fighting for. Worth killing for. Worth dying for. That kind of love and feeling coming from a ruthless killer just seems to magnify it to epic proportions, at least I think so.
Reading this book hit me hard with the feels. Since this was literally a record of Corrado’s life story, I felt as if I lived through 40 years myself. To go through his childhood, his turbulent teenage years and his rise in the mafia underground and his enduring relationship with Celia, it was like reading a saga. Once I finished the book, I felt an immediate sense of loss and heavily contemplated the legacy of a man who gave nothing and everything, who had to be cruel in order to be kind, and a dozen other contradictions to live the life that chose him.
Made is set in the time before and during the events of Sempre and Sempre-Redemption and can technically be read on its own. However, it also contains major plot spoilers for both Sempre books so I would recommend reading those books first before starting this one.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

BOOK REVIEW ~ INSIDIOUS BY ALEATHA ROMIG

When a powerful man is willing to risk everything for his own satisfaction, only one woman can beat him at his own game: his wife. Or so she thinks…

“Let’s start with you calling me Stewart. Formalities seem unnecessary.”

Stewart Harrington is rich, gorgeous, and one of the most powerful men in Miami. He always gets what he wants. Anything is available to him for the right price.

Even me.

Being the wife of a mogul comes with all the perks, but being Mrs. Stewart Harrington comes with a few special requirements. I’ve learned to keep a part of myself locked away as my husband watches me submit to his needs. But the more he demands of me, the more beguiled he becomes and that’s to my advantage. So I keep fulfilling his fantasies and following his rules because he doesn’t know that what he’s playing is really my game. And winning is everything, right?

3.5 stars!
It’s been a while since I’ve read an Aleatha Romig book as I wanted to read something new and fresh from her that didn’t ride out on the coattails of the Consequences series. Although I didn’t fully love Insidious it is still a very worthy read and is a book that constantly kept me on my toes and had my head spinning with each new reveal and twist thrown at me. My biggest complaint is how things were so hastily wrapped up in the end but it didn’t annoy me to the point where it ruined the rest of my enjoyable reading experience.
There’s not much I can say plot-wise without spoiling the book. This author certainly loves her contracts and it’s through a contract that the female protagonist Victoria Conway signs away her life to the much older, wealthy, and charismatic Stewart Harrington to settle financial debts. Doe-eyed and innocent, Victoria has no clue that the contract she signs also enslaves her in a sexual role she must participate in or risk a cascade of financial setbacks that could hurt her family.
And so as the years pass by, she maintains an outwardly dutiful and doting wifely appearance while submitting to Stewart’s sexual demands. He thinks he has her completely under his thumb, but what he doesn’t know is that he’s underestimated Victoria. This book is partially their story – both past and present – of a silent power struggle between the two and the aftermath when the web of lies, deceit, and betrayal falls.
Romance is a very minor aspect in this book (like all of Aleatha Romig’s books) and is a secondary element to the suspense and mystery Victoria tries to uncover that revolves around Stewart’s company and the contract she signed with him. The romance was very unpredictable and I don’t think I would’ve ever anticipated Victoria ending up with the guy she ends up with. Even in the most lighthearted and romantic moments in the book, there are no pretty words. This book is dirty, filthy, but wickedly hot all at the same time.
Aleatha Romig is an extremely talented writer and though there was never a doubt in my mind that she could pull off a story so suspenseful and erotic, I also felt like it wasn’t her best. I’ve always believed that her strongest skill was her attention to detail and the ability to use that detail and stun and smack twist after turn in her stories that thrill us, excite us, and satisfy us. As this book is a standalone, I got the feeling that all the loose ends (there were many) had to be wrapped up quickly in the last 20% of the book in order to reach that ‘standalone’ status so I was disappointed that the quality I admire most in this author’s writing – her attention to detail – wasn’t present, thus several secondary plotlines that had the potential to become something major in the book were underdeveloped. I know I’m explaining things in very general terms to avoid spoilers of all kind but if you want all the sordid details I’d be happy to chat with you about them.
I still enjoyed this book overall and once I started reading, I didn’t put it down until I finished it 4 hours later. I do believe that if this story was expanded upon in another book I would’ve fully enjoyed each of the twists and turns the author presented.
Insidious is the first book in a series of dark erotic thriller standalones. It is not related to the Consequences series.

BOOK REVIEW ~ HERE WITH ME BY HEIDI MCLAUGHLIN

Ryley Clarke has grown up with the military in her blood, with both parents serving their country. Ryley knows the risks of being married to the military. But when the unthinkable happens, and her future husband is killed in action, Ryley can barely survive… until Evan’s twin brother, Nate, helps her pick up the pieces.

After serving on a special mission with the military for six years, Evan Archer returns home to find the unthinkable – the love of his life, Ryley Clarke – engaged to his brother, Nate. With Nate on deployment, Evan needs to figure out what happened in his absence, and more importantly, how to win Ryley back from the man he once considered his best friend, but now thinks of as his rival.

Mixed rating – 2 stars and 5 stars
(spoiler-free)
Well this is one of those times where I don’t know how to rate a book. I adored the writing – it was evocative, fluent, and brilliant. I highlighted like crazy and I had to pause a couple of times because it was painful to read. The military subject matter was also weaved nicely into the story, adding an edgy, suspenseful tone. However, the way the book is styled did a big injustice to one of the characters and as a result, it lead me to resent the other two later on (and I’m NOT talking about cheating here). Cheating is literally the least of my concerns with this book by the way.
I’m going to split the rest into 2 parts: a 5 star review and a 2 star review.
5 star part
Like I said in the beginning, the writing is beautiful. Exquisite. And extremely evocative. With a premise like this one that promises angst, tears, and heartbreak, terrific writing only adds to the strife and conflict.
“I’m here because six years ago I lost the love of my life but now he’s back from the dead, and in a few weeks I’m set to marry my best friend. His brother.”
Welp! For starters, I liked how the author laid out the first half of the book through therapy sessions that provided the background story and shed light on the relationship dynamic among the heroine Ryley and the twin brothers in love with her, Evan and Nate. I also appreciated that these characters were extremely honest about their feelings and where they stood with each other. No second guessing. No indecisiveness.
“It’s how he made me feel. The sun was brighter. The clouds were bigger. The birds even sang louder once I met him. I know not everyone has that experience, but I did. He was like my daily dose of life.”
Simply put, Ryley and Evan are it for each other. They have that soul mate love and had a life planned out but one military operation changes everything for them. With Evan presumably dead, Ryley painstakingly moves on with her life and though it was unexpected, she gradually fell in love with Nate, her best friend and Evan’s twin.
“Sometimes love has an odd way of working around pain.”
This is where the intriguing military aspect kicks in. Evan thought it’d be a quick, simple operation but as days, months, and eventually years pass by he’s given no leeway to return home even though he and the rest of his team accomplished the goal. On top of that, families and friends are told that they all died just months after they leave so their return 6 years later is met with confusion, denial, and bitterness.
“When he was there on my front porch, my [grocery] bags should’ve dropped. My eggs should’ve splattered all over my driveway and my gallon of milk should’ve exploded. Instead I stood there staring at the ghost who had taken the form of my former fiancé as he descended the stairs of our front porch. His smile was bright until he saw my face and then it died.”
And this is where the 2 star part comes in.
2 star part
I’m not going to outright tell you the guy who has Ryley’s heart but knowing how much this author loves her second chance romances and the way this book was written in alternating Evan and Ryley POVs, it will be very obvious. The first 50% of this book I was confident it’d be at least a 4.5 star read. The writing, the emotion, the love…it all spoke to me and squeezed my heart.
But one thing that’s neglected in the synopsis and most reviews is that Nate – the man Ryley’s engaged to – is physically ABSENT for 97% of the book. You see, both Evan and Nate are Navy SEALs and when Evan was thought dead, Nate still continued on his missions and such. Nate left Ryley thinking they were in love and getting married soon, which was blown out of the water when Evan returns.
I do want to preface that Ryley made it very clear who was her soul mate. She loved both men, but in very different ways. And as much as I believed that Ryley and Evan’s love was stronger than what she feels for Nate, Evan is the one who completely destroyed any sympathy I had for him.
“Her, I’m willing to forgive. Him, I’m not even willing to try.”
Evan thinks of their engagement as a betrayal. Which emotionally, maybe it was. But technically? Logically? NO. He was thought dead. They buried him. They were able to move on. A heartbroken girl with a presumably dead fiancé doesn’t need to stay heartbroken forever. A man who lost his twin doesn’t need to suffer forever. And if they could move on and find solace in each other, then there shouldn’t be a single reason to think that Nate and Ryley’s love was inappropriate or a betrayal as Evan would call it.
At this point, I was extremely frustrated with the author because there wasn’t a single Nate POV until the very last chapter. WHY? By excluding Nate’s POV and his insight to this entire situation, the love triangle, the blame, basically everything is one-sided and it all tips towards Evan’s side. It’s like condemning a man who wasn’t present at his own trial. The author did not give Nate a chance to explain his side, to fight for the girl he loves. And I FUCKING HATED THAT. Whether or not that was the author’s intention, this emotional manipulation made me resent and hate Evan in the second half of the book and made me question why Ryley didn’t defend Nate as she should’ve since he’s her fiancé now.
I know some are not going to care about this issue, but it’s big for me. I’m the kind of reader who will always sympathize and root for the underdog, the second place finisher, the runner up. And that is Nate in this book. He came in second in everything. Ryley noted several times that even his sister was closer to Evan and her dad favored Evan over Nate. And now the author doesn’t give us his POV until the very last chapter? That was a huge disservice to his character.
So with these feelings and thoughts warring in my head, I can’t rate this book like I normally would. At this very moment I am itching to slap a 2 star because the author – intentionally or unintentionally – wrote this book in a way that clearly favors one character over the other and screwed over the underdog. But at the same time, the depth of emotion evoked because of her beautiful writing and the military aspect of the story I can’t ignore either. A mixed rating is the only way that allows me to stay true to my honest feelings for this book but also acknowledges the author’s merits.
Here With Me is the first book in the Archer Brothers series and not a standalone. The story is not concluded and will continue on in book 2 Choose Me.

PROMO TOUR ~ ADDICTED AFTER ALL BY KRISTA & BECCA RITCHIE

Two addicts. One epic love story.

Prepare for the worst.

That’s what Lily and Lo try to do when Jonathan Hale schedules an “important” meeting. The problem: after being swept into the public eye and battling their addictions, they’re not sure what the worst is anymore.

In a sea of many changes—including Ryke & Daisy living with them—Lily realizes that the best part of her fluctuating hormones might just be the worst.

Her sex drive is out of control.

Loren knows that she’s insatiable, but he’s not giving up on her. She’s too much a part of him. And as he carries more and more responsibility, some of the people that he loves doubt his resolve.

In the conclusion to their love story, Lily & Lo stand side-by-side to fight, one last time, for their happily ever after.

**AUTHORS’ NOTE**
Due to the 2-year gap between Addicted for Now (Addicted #2) and Addicted After All (Addicted #3), you must read Thrive (Addicted #2.5) or the Calloway Sisters spin-off series before reading Addicted After All.
TEXT MESSAGE CONVO: LILY TO LORENLily Calloway is the female protagonist in the Addicted series. When she decides to text her family and friends, it’s usually for fun questions, and she doesn’t always receive the response she’s looking for. Here are some of her more colorful text conversations.

Note: In the series, Lily ends up using a flip phone (without internet access) but for the sake of these posts, we’re going to pretend she still has an iPhone.

Krista & Becca Ritchie are identical twins. They write New Adult books that make you cringe, gasp, and go ooh-la-la. (If you do that sort of thing.) They are currently working on the spin-offs and final books in the Addicted series.

BLOG TOUR ~ THE REDEMPTION BY S.L. SCOTT

He was everything she never wanted. Yet, she couldn’t stop thinking about him.

Soulful, amber eyes

A sex, drugs, and rock n’roll reputation

A body that beckoned for sin

Three years ago Rochelle Floros was living her dream come true… then lost it all. On the worst day of her life, the last person she expected to be there for her was a rock star and tabloid favorite. Now, she’s trying to rebuild her life after the tragedy that destroyed her fairytale. Slowly, she found herself captivated by a sexy, bad boy drummer she had known for years.

Rochelle was caught between the grief that shrouded her heart and the charismatic man that made it race. What she didn’t know is if he was being sincere or toying with her heart. The Redemption is about finding the pulse of your soul in the most unlikely places and giving love a chance to grow.

Can what she wants really be what she needs? With his rhythm and her passion, can they make music together? Or will their harmony be lost forever?

“Here’s the truth of the matter. If we do this… again, there’s no going back to square one tomorrow. Not for me. I won’t be able to act like I don’t care about you, like I haven’t thought about you every day since we were together last. So it’s easier to stop now than later.”
With a discouraged sigh, I say, “You’re stronger than me, Dex.”
“No, I just know my greatest weakness is the woman beneath me right now.” He rolls over sighing in a way that shows frustration has set in. Turning his head to me, he says, “I want to fuck you so bad, but I also want to do all that making love stuff too. And if we do that, I can’t pretend it didn’t happen.” He sits up and walks to the other side of the room, leaning his back against the wall.
I prop myself up on my elbows, caught by the heaviness of the emotions I’m suddenly feeling for him.
“Go to sleep tonight. Fly home tomorrow.” He walks into the shadow of the entryway. “I’ll see you in a few weeks.”
I hear the door open as I fall back on the bed, my own sexual frustration setting in.
But just when I hear the door close, the weight of his body lands on top of me and he kisses me hard. Surprised, my eyes fly open, but then I go for it just like him and kiss him back with just as much passion. He pushes off of me again and stands between my legs. “I make very few promises in life, but this one I can make to you. Rochelle Floros, I’m coming for you. It’s our time, so get ready for me.” He turns abruptly and leaves me sitting there stunned… and tingly.
3 stars!
Earlier this year, I read and loved The Resistance: it was hot, the banter was awesome and because I was lucky enough to read it at a time where premise spoilers hadn’t been posted yet I was delightfully surprised by the twists the author presented. While I wasn’t expecting a replica of the first book, I did expect to see some qualities that I loved there to be present here. The author’s writing style is great and I LOVED the hero Dex, but sadly everything else tanked for me. My main complaint is the stubborn heroine Rochelle who constantly pushed Dex away and exhibited hot-and-cold behavior that gave me whiplash. I know this is the definition of good angst for some readers, but for me, it is called character stupidity because in my eyes, there was no basis for her to keep pushing the hero away. Overall, still a very decent read and though I didn’t love this one as much as I loved the first book, second chance romance lovers who enjoy boatloads of angst will find a winner with this book.
For those that haven’t read the first book, Rochelle is a side character who lost her beloved husband in a tragic accident, leaving her with their two young sons. As to be expected, she is heartbroken, devastated and lost, barely keeping it all together to be mother to her kids and manager for The Resistance.
Dex is an outwardly cocky bad boy but has a heart of gold and a deep soul. For years, he’s only loved one woman, the woman who was his best friend’s wife until he died in an accident. The depth of his feelings for Rochelle, the love he has for her boys, and his sincerity and seriousness with everything Rochelle-related really touched me. I was swooning hard.
Going into this book, I prepared myself for an appropriate amount of push-and-pull couple dynamics as to be expected with a second chance romance happening after a tragedy. I guess I just didn’t expect Rochelle to be THIS stubborn. Some of her actions really hurt Dex and she was a hypocrite for saying she knew the real him only to judge him so easily based off his previous bad boy stigma. I struggled to forgive her and wanted to weep every time Dex opened his heart up to her and she fought back.
“You’re convincing yourself that I’m the bad guy, that I don’t care and you know those are lies, lies you’re telling yourself to avoid anything that might actually be real.”
 
“You know, one day I hope you’ll see me for more than a coked up-drummer who used to sleep around.”
Ugh why Rochelle?! But I also want to be fair and say that perhaps the timing wasn’t exactly right when I picked up this book. You see, my last couple of reads all were loaded with angst grenades and stubborn heroines and my patience was practically nonexistent when I got to this book. I think if I had read this story at a time where I was more accepting of angst and said stubbornness, my rating would be higher.
The last 25% of the book read like music and I grudgingly forgave Rochelle because that’s who Dex loved and I love Dex’s character enough to suck up my disdain for her hot and cold behavior.
The Redemption is the 2nd book following book 1 The Resistance. Both are interconnected standalones and can be read on their own but like I always advise, to maximize your reading experience and avoid plot spoilers, I suggest reading them in order.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

BOOK REVIEW ~ ALL BROKE DOWN BY CORA CARMACK

In this second book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack s New Adult, Texas-set Rusk University series, which began with All Lined Up, a young woman discovers that you can’t only fight for what you believe in… sometimes you have to fight for what you love.

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she’s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he’s arrogant and infuriating, she can’t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.

Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it’s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He’s met girls like her before fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he’s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

4.5 stars!!
With an emphasis on self-discovery and an unexpectedly sweet romance, All Broke Down is the perfect example of what qualities should be present in NA books. Instead of inundating the story with commonly seen themes like sex, booze, and drugs, the author maintains a good balance among the three and weaves in convincing character conflict, a believable romantic connection, and a healthy dose of angst to create yet another winner in her fantastic Rusk University series. For me personally, I could connect and relate to these characters easily, as if they were my friends letting me in on their secrets. Perhaps it’s because I’m similar in age to them but whatever the reason, the humor, wit, and awkward fun in this book was not lost on me.
In book 1 a secondary character Silas Moore is introduced, a bad boy through and through who earned my loathing until the author quickly revealed a vulnerable side of him that gave me hope that he wasn’t a lost cause. And he wasn’t. There are always two sides to every story and character and this book is his. He’s not your average college student coming from a good family. He’s not rich. He’s not smart. All he knows and is good at is football. But he also has serious anger management issues and when provoked is quick with his fists. On one particular night that ends with a scuffle with a team member, Silas lands himself in jail and it’s there he meets the heroine Dylan.
^Haha! So anyways, Dylan is a passionate girl who invests her time and energy in protests, causes she believes are worth fighting for and when one goes downhill, her efforts land her in jail right alongside Silas. Though they acknowledge they’re attracted to each other, both of them also know that they’re from completely different social circles. Nevertheless, their attraction gives way to something much deeper and meaningful, a connection that binds them closer to each other – both struggle to belong. They both have pasts they just aren’t ready or equipped to overcome but they have so much faith in each other it was so easy for me to accept their connection is much more than lust. Dylan is the one girl Silas feels comfortable in confiding in and the reverse is true, with Silas being the only one to point out where Dylan’s real struggles are.
Despite the ugly of their pasts that play a heavy role, this book is much more lighthearted than expected. I love that the author chose to focus more on the positivity that their unlikely romance brought out in both characters and didn’t let the negative overshadow the story. The strife, the angst, and the inner turmoil are still present but all are healthy amounts so the reader isn’t frustrated with the conflict. Near the end there was a particular turn of events that I felt was a little unnecessary hence the 4.5 stars but it wasn’t anything major that affected my enjoyment of the story.
Having read most of this author’s books, I feel like Cora Carmack has come a long way since the publication of Losing It. Not to say that her previous books aren’t awesome but I really feel like her Rusk University books are my favorite out of everything she’s written. The writing is so much stronger and gripping, the characters are much more lovable and endearing, and important and cherished values like family and teamwork are emphasized in a positive, reinforcing manner that truly warms the heart.
All Broke Down is the 2nd installment in the Rusk University series and a standalone, just like the first book. To get the full reading experience (especially Silas’s character growth from book 1 to book 2) I would recommend reading in order but it’s totally up to you. I do want to point out that these two books are completely different but equally enjoyable. Book 1 was more cute and funny while this second book is a little edgier because of Silas’s tortured bad boy image.

OCTOBER FOLLOWER APPRECIATION GIVEAWAY

It’s that time of month again!! I host a follower appreciation giveaway at the end of each month as an extra thank you for being a part of my blogging community. Every comment, like, share, email, recommendation, etc… I all love and appreciate and it’s just so great to be able to chat with like-minded people like y’all! So anyways for this giveaway, one winner will receive a paperback of choice from the list provided. How do I decide what goes on the list? Well, it is a compilation of all the books I’ve read and reviewed each month – it doesn’t matter if I loved the book, disliked the book, whatever. Every book (excluding DNFs) I’ve read and reviewed that month will be on the list.

**Note: Some book titles do not have paperback options available. In the event you choose that book, I will gift you an ebook copy instead. If a book hasn’t been released yet, paperback or ebook copy will be delivered on release date.**

SERIES REVIEW ~ THE INFERNAL DEVICES BY CASSANDRA CLARE

Step back in time with the Shadowhunters with this eBook collection of the New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy.

Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment. The Shadowhunters of the Victorian Age delve into all of these in addition to darkness and danger in the Infernal Devices trilogy, packaged in an eBook collection that includes Clockwork AngelClockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess.

Series rating: 6 stars!!
No matter how much I thought I was emotionally prepared to take on this series, I wasn’t. My puny heart just wasn’t made to process a story so epic and grand such as this one. It is both a blessing and a curse to have read these books for I will always have this eternal ache in my heart that can never be soothed, names such as Tessa, Will, and Jem will immediately remind me of these characters and the tears will well fast. Yet it’s not a reading experience I would ever change. It’s true these books broke my heart, but in the best way possible: not by wearing it down but by filling it with so much love for these characters it bursts. After such an emotional reading journey, how can I possibly pick up another book and expect to move on? I can’t, and there is no book that can save me from this book hangover.
Though this is a series review, I don’t plan on talking much about the plot for a few reasons. First one being these are not standalone books and they tell a full, continuous story so talking about some details would spoil the books. But the main reason is that the plot alone won’t be what compels you to continue with the series. Don’t get me wrong, the rich historical setting and the pulse-pounding action and suspense is top notch but the elaborate plot from The Mortal Instruments definitely trumps it. What makes this trilogy stand out in the most glorious way is its focus on relationships and the depth of the feelings you’ll have for ALL of these characters, particularly Tessa, Will, and Jem.
Tessa Gray is one of my favorite literary heroines to date. It all began with her traveling to London to search for her lost brother and unknowingly stumbles into a parallel world that she later finds out she has ties to. Possessing great skills unknown to any warlock, Tessa is pursued by the power-hungry Magister and has only the protection of Shadowhunters – half angel, half human warriors sworn to slay demons – to keep her safe. It is in one of these Shadowhunter institutes she becomes acquaintances with Will Herondale and his parabatai (oath-sworn partner to protect each other at all costs) Jem Carstairs and a friendship so strong and so enduring is born.
Will Herondale. The boy who will forever have my heart. The tortured boy who is outwardly arrogant and prickly but has one of the brightest and loving souls possible. A childhood ordeal and the horrific aftermath he must keep secret makes him distance himself from others aside from Jem, that is until he meets Tessa and she shakes his world upside down. He uses sarcasm and crude humor to hide his inner vulnerability and aside from Jem, Tessa is the only one to see through it. Without a shadow of a doubt, Will loves her. Fiercely. Protectively. And quietly, for his parabatai, his brother in heart and soul Jem loves Tessa as well.
Jem Carstairs is perhaps one of the sweetest, thoughtful, and giving guys out there. The complete opposite of his parabatai Will, Jem has a health condition that makes him weaker than other Shadowhunters his age and as a result, Will defends him at every turn and always considers his needs first before his own. His camaraderie with Will and others and his gentle, patient nature is seen and loved by all. There are no secrets behind his guileless face and he, too, loves Tessa with an intensity that matches Will’s love for her.
You’re probably thinking, oh another love triangle? But before you completely write this trilogy off for this reason alone, I am imploring you to give it a try. This is the very first and only love triangle I’ve read where the author upholds character integrity and approaches it in such a respectful, loving manner. This love triangle marks the high point and the ultimate reason why this trilogy evokes such deep feelings from its readers. Though this is technically a love triangle, I never saw it that way. I saw it as two equally wonderful boys in love with an amazing girl. They never competed against each other nor did they question Tessa’s love. There was no jealousy. There was no sabotage. There was only trust, and all I felt for the three of them was an overwhelming love that stemmed from an admiration of their mutual love and respect for each other. Can you imagine that kind of selfless and unconditional love? I never thought it existed until I read this trilogy.
I’ve been asked multiple times to compare The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices and how they range and this is my answer: both are my favorite. Both series have their strengths and weaknesses but put together and they complement each other perfectly. It does not matter which series you decide to read first unless you’re concerned about reading in chronological order which in that case, I would say read The Infernal Devices first. There is a great overlap between the two and enough backstory so you will never be lost. IMO, the Mortal Instruments has much better villains and an intricate plot that even without the romance, it would still be an engaging series. The Infernal Devices, though lacking in a rich plot, is better written and the romance is more heartwrenching and emotional than in TMI. I highly recommend BOTH.
Cassandra Clare has catapulted herself into my auto-buy and forever trustworthy list of authors. Her magnificent storytelling ability, to-die-for characters, and addictive, captivating writing style only encourages and inspires me to check out more books in a genre that I’m quickly finding to be fascinating.
“With hope at last,”
P.S. I love Jem and Will equally, but I will always be in love with that boy with the blue eyes.

BOOK REVIEW ~ FALLING STARS BY CHARLES SHEEHAN-MILES

Crank Wilson and Julia Thompson love each other madly. But after Crank’s huge mistake during the summer, on the road with Crank’s rock band Morbid Obesity, they aren’t getting along.

Sean Wilson and Carrie Thompson are the seventeen year old younger siblings of Julia and Crank. Carrie is on her way to New York to start college at Columbia University and Sean is on his way home to Boston. For the next five days, they’re stuck in a car. Along the way, they’ll contend with screaming matches, giant spiders and a 240-pound pissed off Marine.

And the whole way, Crank will be faced with one question. After he screwed up so badly, is there any way he can win Julia back?

4 stars!
Out of all of Charles Sheehan Miles’s book that revolve around the Thompson sisters, A Song for Julia is my favorite, hence, I would never be able to turn down a novella that revisited some of my favorite characters in the series. At the end of book 1, Crank and Julia are at a good spot. Crank’s getting ready to go on tour with the band and Julia, having finally broken free of her shell, is the manager. Expecting their summer to go without a hitch, Crank and Julia succumb to the stress of touring and suddenly find themselves at a crossroads in their relationship. Can their love overcome their differences? Will it be enough to mend their hearts and move on? This little novella is that story of reconnecting and falling in love all over again.
Was this book necessary? No, not really. But for fans of this series and particularly Crank, Julia, and Sean, reading this novella will only make you love these characters more. The author’s writing is wonderful and reads like music, and I loved the emphasis on family and friendships throughout the story. One part that did make me feel sad though was a conversation scene between Carrie and Crank. I don’t even need to specify which one but once you read it, you’ll know. Since I’ve read The Last Hour that scene is particularly bittersweet.
Falling Stars is a novella that bridges the gap between book 1 and book 2 in this series and is not a standalone. You must read at least A Song for Julia first which is currently free on all platforms.

BOOK REVIEW ~ BLIND SIDE OF LOVE BY BETH RINYU

One guy.

One reckless act changed her world forever…..

My life as I knew it began on the day I met Drew Bryant. He taught me that it was okay to not always be perfect, that it was okay to loosen up and have a little fun in life, and that it was okay to fall in love.

My life as I knew it ended on the day I met Drew Bryant. He taught me that giving my heart to someone completely was the most dangerous thing I could ever do, and that the perfect world I was living in didn’t matter anymore without him in it.

But the most important lesson that he taught me? A broken heart turns into a reckless one, and what we feel inside that heart at one particular moment can set our destiny, making us a stronger person, a weaker person, or leading us into a darkness from which we can never escape.

2 stars!
This book blurb is awesome. The reviews for it are awesome. And since I’ve read books from this author before and liked them, I know this author is awesome. Unfortunately, this book was not. In fact, I wish I could rewind time and take back the few hours I spent on reading this book. If you are in the mood for a story that is on the surface, lacks depth and quality, and has twists & revelations that are totally out of the blue and are there for shock purposes only, here’s your next read! The premise is a solid one (can’t give it away without spoiling the storyline) but falls flat because of the underdeveloped plot and book structure.
Twenty-one year old Becca Keeton is a sheltered and shy college senior returning home for the summer. Having grown up in a family with overprotective parents and a wild younger brother, her parents’ hopes and dreams are always pinned on her and so she never stops striving for perfection in school, leaving her zero time for a social life. At a party her best friend invites her to, she meets Drew Bryant and they’re both immediately attracted to each other. To the dismay of Becca’s parents, she gets in a relationship with Drew and spends most of the summer with him when she’s not busy with schoolwork. To Becca, Drew is THE ONE.
But for Drew his feelings were a little ambiguous. It was obvious he was hiding a gigantic secret from Becca and even though he cared for her, he also held up a wall between them at all times.
At this point, I was thoroughly bored with the book. Up to 40% into the story and I can tell you exactly what happens: have sex, eat, work and repeat. Then around the halfway mark, a plot twist finally happens. And let me tell you, this will be the make or break for you. You will either love it or hate it depending on your interpretation of the story. For me, I fell in the “I hate this plot twist” category, not necessarily because it was a bad one, but because the author didn’t do it justice IMO. She threw the twist at me then immediately jumped into a 6 year gap. Where’s the detail? Where’s the emotion? Then I’m treated to past/present POVs inserted randomly into the second half of the book. Those were great, and I liked seeing Drew’s POV but it didn’t add to the story, just took up book space that could’ve been used to describe the twist more.
Lastly, the final 20% of the book was a big block of cheese with a side of cheese puffs. In the context of the book, it was completely unrealistic and that epilogue? *shakes head* If the author’s goal was to strive for a 100% perfect, cookie-cut happy ending, well she accomplished it. However, I find it ironic to have her characters – especially Becca – go through what she did and send out the message that it’s ok to not be perfect, to have physical flaws and still be able to live a good life, only to squash that message by serving up a ridiculously cheesy epilogue.
All in all, this book was not for me. If you want a quick & predictable read to pass your time with, by all means this book can meet those requirements. But for me, I want epic. I want books that emotionally consume me and though I thought this book could do that based off the blurb, it didn’t.

RELEASE BLITZ ~ SOMETHING LIKE REDEMPTION BY MONICA JAMES

Mia Lee escaped to the sleepy little town of South Boston, Virginia with the intent to be normal, and to find a place she could call home. Sadly for Mia, her past has come back with a vengeance, and forced her to flee yet again.

This time, however, she’s not alone…

Mia and Quinn are on the run, fleeing for their lives, while attempting to prove their innocence for a crime they did not commit. But with a tainted past like Mia’s, it was inevitable that one day, it was going to catch up to her in a way she never fathomed.

One ill-fated decision leads to an explosion of unimaginable events, and now Mia and Quinn are not only running for their lives, but also, for their redemption.

Monica James spent her youth devouring the works of Anne Rice.When she is not writing, Monica is busy running her own business. She enjoys writing honest, heartfelt and turbulent stories, hoping to leave an imprint on her readers, and her inspiration comes from every day life. She is an Amazon best selling author in the US, Monica James resides in Melbourne, Australia, with her wonderful family. She is slightly obsessed with cats, chucks and lip gloss, and secretly wishes she was a ninja on the weekends.

BOOK REVIEW ~ THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY BY HEATHER LYONS

From the author of the Fate series and The Deep End of the Sea comes a fantastical romantic adventure that has Alice tumbling down the strangest rabbit hole yet.

After years in Wonderland, Alice has returned to England as an adult, desperate to reclaim sanity and control over her life. An enigmatic gentleman with an intriguing job offer too tempting to resist changes her plans for a calm existence, though. Soon, she’s whisked to New York and initiated into the Collectors’ Society, a secret organization whose members confirm that famous stories are anything but straightforward and that what she knows about the world is only a fraction of the truth.

It’s there she discovers villains are afoot—ones who want to shelve the lives of countless beings. Assigned to work with the mysterious and alluring Finn, Alice and the rest of the Collectors’ Society race against a doomsday clock in order to prevent further destruction . . . but will they make it before all their endings are erased?

5 stars!!
Earlier this year I went gaga over this author’s The Deep End of the Sea and thought that she couldn’t possibly write another book that could top it in originality but I was wrong. Out of all the books I’ve read, I have never read a story quite like The Collectors’ Society and I love that. Reading this book recaptures that ‘firsts’ feeling: The one where you’re reading a story and it’s completely fresh content, never been explored topic and you’re both giddy and anxious to see where it goes because you truly have no idea what could happen. There are no point of references. There are no other books you can compare it to because it is one of a kind.
This book is an adult fantasy romance filled with adventurous wonders and loosely based off Alice in Wonderland. Just to clarify, you do not need to read/watch/know anything about the movie/book to understand this book. This author excels at writing retellings and spinning them into her own unique story. While romance is a heavy element in the book, it’s not the only aspect and the main couple isn’t the only one to take the spotlight. One of the things I love so much about this book is that it explores so much – from rich setting to elaborate plot to each individual character – but in a concise manner. This book gives voice to many well-known literary characters that are a part of the story and whether you know about them or not the author portrays another (fictional) side of each character that is both fascinating and refreshing.
Now for the plot. Normally I launch into a mini summary of the plot but I can’t do that with this book. The best books are usually the ones where even mentioning a little of the plot triggers the domino effect and spoils the story, which is the case with this book. All I feel comfortable saying is that the intricate plot forces both the characters and the reader to reevaluate preconceived notions and it is one so well thought out and calculated my head was spinning. It’s just so SMART and I love books that make me think and feel at the same time.
As for the main characters, I think the author did a brilliant job panning out their background and their personalities. The heroine Alice is seriously kickass in a way I’m actually jealous of how kickass she is. It’s obvious from the start she escaped from a parallel world called Wonderland and is in an asylum in order to retain some of her sanity and eventually, re-enter English society. Her plans go awry, however, when the leader of a secret organization called The Collectors’ Society recruits her for one of the most important missions in a race against a doomsday clock. It is within this society she meets the hero Finn, a quirky, enigmatic and naturally charismatic fellow who becomes her partner in this mission. And while there is an initial attraction between the two, the author doesn’t make it overshadow the book where lust and angst take over the book; it’s a rather gradual and believable romance that develops.
At this point in the book, the story is both nail-biting engaging and laugh out loud funny but the one thing that was missing was the deep emotion required if it’s to be a 5 star read. I was thinking that I would finish it with a 4-4.5 star rating in mind but then the most glorious plot twist happened and an absolutely electrifying character entered the book and my heart was a goner. I don’t think I have EVER fallen for a character in less than one page and honestly didn’t expect that to happen here but it did. This is so frustrating for me to describe because I can’t even reveal who he is and especially not his name without it being a spoiler. It’s safe to say, this man STOLE my heart and I spent the last 25% bawling like a baby.
“I love how his heart is big and beautiful and generous and that it, when circumstance demanded, allowed itself to break repeatedly rather than allow others to suffer.”
…Yeah, I can’t. *SNIFFS* Please don’t take this as someone died. Not all crying is because of death.
And that is all I’m going to say about this mystery guy and plot twist.
This book had my complete attention from the intriguing beginning to the explosive ending and I honestly think that both pure romance readers and fantasy lovers will enjoy what this book has to offer in terms of an original, mindblowing storyline and an unexpected heartfelt romance.
The Collectors’ Society is the first book in a new series and while it’s designed to be a story that continues on in the next few books, it can technically be read as a standalone as the conclusion to this book is a satisfying one.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

BOOK REVIEW ~ LOVE LIKE CRAZY BY MEGAN SQUIRES

Love.
Life.

All things that can be considered—and oftentimes are—just a bit crazy.

With an alcoholic father and an absentee mother, seventeen-year old Eppie Aberdeen has learned firsthand that life’s circumstances aren’t always sunshine and roses.

So Eppie doesn’t expect the fairytale, because reality certainly isn’t one. She’s not waiting on the handsome prince with his white horse to come to her rescue. But even though she’s not waiting on it, that doesn’t stop nineteen-year-old Lincoln Ross from driving straight into her heart with his teal and white campervan and his too tall stature and perpetually goofy grin.

It’s difficult to believe in a happily ever after when a happy now is quite hard to find. But Lincoln gives Eppie hope that despite the odds, a true and unconditional love might actually be out there. A revised fairytale. A new kind of love story.

But then again, that might just be plain crazy.
4-4.5 stars!!
Welp, I didn’t expect this cute cover to hide such a deep and meaningful story. Though it started off slow in the beginning, the witty dialogue, quirky characters each with their own brand of eccentricity, and heartwarming romance quickly won me over. By the end of the book I was alternating between awww-ing and smiling. Written in the same vein as The Fault in Our Stars and Bright Side, this YA book really charmed me and was a total escapism kind of story.
Eppie Aberdeen is a social pariah in her town. Growing up with a messed up family background and a perceived suicide attempt slapped to her name, Eppie doesn’t expect to find anyone who thinks she’s different than what gossip brands her as. On a day just like any other, she comes across a dog victim to a hit-and-run and hauls him to the clinic for medical attention. It’s there where she meets the mysterious hero Lincoln who helps her out.
Lincoln Ross also has a tough upbringing. With a wealthy but egoistical family constantly looking down upon his achievements, he’s not quite sure what his life goals are and is just living life by the day. When he sees Eppie bringing in the wounded dog, he’s touched by her compassion and offers to help and a friendship between two kindred souls is lighted.
For the first 20% I wasn’t too sure what direction this book was going in but right after that the story really picked up. It’s all about filtering the bad, magnifying the good and balancing the two out. For once it’s refreshing to have a hero who isn’t damaged or a bad boy, just a normal sweet guy any girl would feel lucky to call her boyfriend. Eppie is also a terrific female lead who doesn’t let her past dictate her future. It’s subtle but the way the book is structured hints at an epic reveal about Eppie’s character and when it was revealed, I was pretty shocked. Did not expect it at all. It only ignited every motherly instinct in me and made me admire her resiliency even more.
The romance was really tender and built up over a foundation of trust and respect. These two characters are some of the sweetest and most considerate characters I’ve read about and again, it’s refreshing to read about a realistic romance than develops over time and isn’t spontaneous.
There were only a few things that bothered me but didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book too much. First, these teenagers don’t speak like regular teenagers but then again, neither did Hazel or Gus from The Fault in Our Stars so I’m okay with giving them a pass on this. For me personally, I LOVED that their dialogues were intelligent, witty, and thought-provoking. Then there was a heartbreaking scene with the dog Herb and the author never revisited him again. It wasn’t exactly clear what the dog’s fate was and while I was reading the rest of the book my mind kept going back to Herb. And lastly, I thought the ending was rushed. There were multiple revelations near the end and I felt like they were tied up too nicely but it didn’t bother me to the point where I got annoyed.
This is a book I would recommend to those looking for a sweet, deep, and motivational romance with two unforgettable main characters and supportive side characters. It was humorous, satirical, at times emotional, and provided a unique reading experience in the YA genre.

BLOG TOUR ~ VANQUISH BY PAM GODWIN

Her life is like a prison cell.
A self-made, to-hell-with-the-free-world existence that locks from the inside.
Stop judging. Her agoraphobia doesn’t define her. It simply keeps her safe.

He belongs in a prison cell.
The 6×8, make-me-your-bitch variety that locks from the outside.
But he’s free. To hunt. To take. To break.
And he just found a sexy new toy.

Capturing her is the easy part. Her fucked-up mind, however, makes him question everything he does next.
But he’s a determined bastard. If all goes his way, this will hurt like hell.

“Are you going to cut me up in little pieces?”
A cold smile tipped his lips as he chuckled. Then his expression sobered. “Walk to the kitchen.”
Fucking psychopath. He stood right in the doorway, taking up the whole damned hall. At over six feet tall with a muscled body cut from stone, he could squash her without breaking a sweat. She didn’t want to go near him. He was terrifying. But being forced outside was worse. She straightened her back and headed toward him.
As she slid by, his arm caught her waist and yanked her back against his chest. She slapped at his hand, bucking against him, and his arm clenched tighter. His erection jabbed against her backside, his breath hot at her ear. “Fighting and squirming only turns me on. Don’t stop.”
She immediately stilled. God, he wasn’t lying. His dick was undeniably more pronounced against her back. Feeling him like that, so close, so huge and hard, rushed heat between her legs and prickles over her skin. Why, oh why was she responding this way? She hated and wanted it, and mother of all fucks, she couldn’t have been more completely and totally out of her mind.
She drew a ragged breath. Think, think, think. But his intention blatantly rubbed against her, scattering her thoughts. “You’re going to rape me, aren’t you?”
His torso moved up and down with his breath. “I thought you wanted to be fuck buddies. Don’t make it weird.”
4 stars!!
Pam Godwin has a knack for writing unconventional, unique romance stories and Vanquish is a terrific example. Just FYI, if you plan on reading book 1 Deliver do not read this one yet – it contains plot spoilers. Anyways, I’m a huge fan of the broody, dark, and tortured anti heroes. In book 1, the only character I can say that I fully loved was Van. Liv was pretty kickass but too aloof. Josh was endearing but too sweet. But Van…now that’s a guy who’s right up my alley! I couldn’t wait to get my greedy hands on his book and now that I’ve finished it, I can say that fans of the first book and Van-fans will be pretty pleased with his story.
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This book begins right after the events of Deliver, where Van Quiso is recovering from his wounds and the one thing that dominates his mind is getting Liv and their daughter back. Obsessed and possessed by this fervor, Van constantly stalks Liv in hopes of winning her back from Josh, along with getting visitation rights to their daughter Livana. On one of his secret trips to visit Liv, he unwittingly stumbles upon the heroine Amber and his old, buried sexual tendencies flare. For the first time in a long time, he’s tempted by Amber.
Introverted and secluded, Amber Rosenfeld suffers from extreme agoraphobia (anxiety disorder) and OCD. Her previous marriage has demolished her self-confidence and body image and any kind of intimacy repels her. It is truly a chance encounter that puts her in Van’s path and with just one look, Van is intrigued by her and her oddities.
********************
My biggest concern with reading this book was whether or not the author would butcher Van’s dark, multifaceted, mysterious character and I’m relieved to say I don’t think she did. When a character as complex as Van gets a romance story, there’s a certain degree of ‘dark’ that has to be given up and in turn is replaced with a much softer, vulnerable side of him. I think the author did an exemplary job of pitting his usual crude high-handedness against the vulnerability most readers didn’t think existed. Van is basically what made this book, despite it also being Amber’s story. Though I liked her character, I never fully warmed up to her. Then again, it’s not often I fall head over heels for the heroines  I really loved seeing Van transform from a seemingly heartless machine to a more caring and loving man. His past as a slave driver never will go away but I admire him for not letting it define his life and instead, motivate him to be with Amber and help her conquer her agoraphobia.
As much as I liked Amber and Van as a couple, I had a hard time accepting them together in the beginning. I mentioned before that it was pure luck that they bumped into each other and the fact that Van was completely obsessed with getting Liv and their daughter back didn’t help convince me of the strength of his bond with Amber. I felt like his reasons for being with Amber weren’t compelling enough in the beginning. I should feel like only the heroine is good for the hero, but sadly I didn’t feel that here. Amber could be a Leslie, a Catherine, a Grace and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Once the deep feelings were there, however, I could finally accept them together but that didn’t happen until the 60% mark so I spent most of the book feeling aloof, not loving them, but not hating them.
That one main problem aside, I really enjoyed this book – it had hot, steamy scenes along with dry, crude humor and charming wit. The idea that even the most flawed and damaged people can have a happily-ever-after too is a beautiful message and one that this book sends out.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
   New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Pam Godwin, lives in the Midwest with her husband, their two children, and a foulmouthed parrot. When she ran away, she traveled fourteen countries across five continents, attended three universities, and married the vocalist of her favorite rock band. Java, tobacco, and dark romance novels are her favorite indulgences, and might be considered more unhealthy than her aversion to sleeping, eating meat, and dolls with blinking eyes.