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.

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.

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.

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.
********************
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.

I’m strong—or at least, I want to be. I try to be. Oh, how I’ve tried.
But life screwed me over. When I was at my weakest and lowest, desperate and alone, he found me.
Robert changed everything. He gave me everything.
He was every woman’s dream—rich, powerful, and charming. He made me forget the fact that he’s twenty-four years my senior.
He made me feel alive, and for the first time in my life, I was content.
Until I met Cooper—his son.
And Robert? He began to change.
I’m despicable. I know I am. I’m ashamed of what I want.

Things are never what they seem.

Greed. Lust. Lies. Murder.

Deception.

1.5 stars!
Why do I do this to myself? Every time I see a book with an enticing and catchy blurb I hurry and buy it (regardless if there are any reviews) and almost always end up extremely disappointed. For me, the best part of the book was the synopsis, and whenever I was bored or frustrated or shocked (in a bad way) I reminded myself of the awesome blurb and what it promised and hoped the book would turn around. Nope. So while the premise was an intriguing one to start with, it was poorly executed and add a ditzy heroine in the mix along with events that you’d have to completely suspend reality in order to believe, this book totally missed the mark for me.
The story started out well: it’s obvious that even though the heroine Claire is extremely naïve, she is kindhearted and after getting kicked out of her foster home on her birthday, she’s practically homeless. Temporarily staying at her boss’s gym, she bumps into the much older and charismatic Robert and apparently both are attracted to one another (which I didn’t see – they were always so formal and stale around each other) so they pursue a relationship even though early on there were signs that Robert was unstable, controlling, and borderline psychotic.
This is where my problems with the book really began. I can understand the author portraying Robert as a sugar daddy to display his financial edge over the heroine but I absolutely HATE it when his wealthy status is used to justify why he was able to pull off some of his actions when in reality, none of it could be possible. Unless I decided to read paranormal or fantasy, I really do expect some semblance of realism present in my books or I’ll start nitpicking.
So with no job (because Robert got her boss to hire someone else) and no actual home, Claire is completely dependent on Robert. For the first time in their relationship, she starts to see Robert for who he might be and recognizes that she’s trapped.
Enter this book’s one saving grace – Cooper. A twenty-year old bad boy who clearly harbors resentment against his father, Cooper at first takes in Claire as a gold-digging bimbo but as time passes, he sees that she’s a genuine person. Though he acts like an asshole and lashes out, he has Claire’s best interests at heart and tries to warn her that Robert is not what he says he is, all of which she ignores even though internally she acknowledges there is some truth to what Cooper is saying.
From the blurb it’s implied that cheating may occur and even though there are the occasional forbidden kisses and touches, Claire does not jump back and forth between sleeping with Robert and Cooper (thank god!). But here is the part that really pisses me off: it is SO SO SO obvious she has a deeper connection with Cooper than she has with Robert. Their chemistry is so palpable and though both won’t admit it out loud, they care for each other. With Claire vocally saying she’s not with Robert just for the money, I honestly didn’t see a reason why she was with him then. Never in the book did she say she loved him and though both men have their faults, at least Cooper wants her safe and well and happy. Robert is only with her for appearances’ sake.
In hindsight, I should’ve known that this book would end dramatically and in a cliffhanger that practically begs the reader to pick up the second book. But you know what? If done well, I honestly don’t mind the cliffy if it feels like a vital part of the book. Instead, the message I got from this ending is that no matter how much you’ve come to care for a person who truly cares for you back, you STILL go with the guy who’s proven to be psychotic and worse just so you can drape yourself in wealth. The ending completely negates any of Claire’s statements that she’s not with Robert just for his money. It’s like feminism never happened. If you can tolerate an EXTREMELY dumb and vain character like Claire and want to enjoy 15% of the book and have the other 85% be extremely frustrating/boring/infuriating, this is the book for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend staying far away from this one.

Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him?

Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried.

The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.

3.5 stars!
It’s a little odd for me to read a book and not post the review until weeks later. In this case, part of me just wanted to delay posting the inevitable truth: I didn’t really love this book. K.A. Tucker is one of my all-time favorite authors and a really cool lady – what she writes, I read. Though well written, Burying Water was a bit boring and I wasn’t invested in the story or characters. I’m rating this book 3.5 stars because there wasn’t anything substantially wrong with it, but then again, there wasn’t anything substantially amazing about it either.
***********************
This book certainly started off with a bang. The heroine wakes up in a hospital severely injured and on top of that, has no recollection of what happened to her or who she is. Renaming herself ‘Water’ for the little tattoo on her body, she’s offered a room at a large horse farm and starts to rebuild her life, but always aware that her present is temporary, completely contingent on whether or not she remembers her past.
Jesse Welles is her next door neighbor who’s super handy with cars. He’s also the one person who knows who she is and her past before being ‘Water.’ Though Water doesn’t recognize him from before, she feels at ease with him and instinctively knows that this man was important to her. As the days pass, Water remembers tidbits and gets flashbacks of events leading up to the day of her brutal ordeal, until finally, the entire truth surfaces.
***********************
I think I would’ve enjoyed this book more if it weren’t for the way it was set up. It’s written in alternating past/present scenes, with Water in the present and Jesse in the past. The mystery around Water’s past unfolds fairly quickly for the reader so that buries a lot of the suspense for me. I like it when the clues are subtly presented, not blatantly written out, and especially not as early as the 16% mark. And then the mystery itself I just didn’t like (view spoiler)
Don’t get me wrong, this book was really well-written and that aspect alone kept my interest. I did like how everything was resolved in the end and how the book focused on deeper meanings like the bonds of friendship, forgiveness, and second chances.
This book is indeed a very ambitious story that incorporates past/present shifts, dual POVs, and characters falling in love twice – perhaps it was just too much to tackle all in one book because in the end, nothing really stood out for me.
ARC provided by Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As Reapers Motorcycle Club president, Reese “Picnic” Hayes has given his entire life to the club. After losing his wife, he knew he’d never love another woman. And with two daughters to raise and a club to manage, that was just fine with him. These days, Reese keeps his relationships free and easy—he definitely doesn’t want to waste his time on a glorified cleaning lady like London Armstrong.

Too bad he’s completely obsessed with her.

Besides running her own business, London’s got her junkie cousin’s daughter to look after—a more reckless than average eighteen-year-old. Sure she’s attracted to the Reapers’ president, but she’s not stupid. Reese Hayes is a criminal and a thug. But when her young cousin gets caught up with a ruthless drug cartel, Reese might be the only man who can help her. Now London has to make the hardest decision of her life—how far will she go to save her family?

4 stars!!
Just to clear the air, biker romances are not my choice of sub-genre nor do I ever feel the need to seek them out to read. Not unless the author is Joanna Wylde. Not unless it’s the Reapers MC series. My reading tastes are very narrow and I’m a picky bitch but this author and her addictive biker books work for me. I don’t think I’ll ever understand their freestyle way of life – most of their ideals go against my own – but I sure have a blast reading about them and the all-consuming passion and romance of each of these sinfully sexy bikers. Having loved the previous book in the series, I went into this one with the highest of expectations. As usual, this author does not disappoint. Did the book have my complete attention? Was the story plot engaging? Were the characters likable and did the romance feel genuine? Yes, yes, and yes. Though I had some issues with the book, overall this book was great and everything I imagined for Picnic’s story.
***************************
Reese ‘Picnic’ Hayes is the President of the Reapers MC. Not one to mess with, Picnic has dedicated his entire life to the club and raising his daughters after his old lady’s death. Over the years, he has plenty of one night stands and meaningless sex, never wanting or thinking anyone could replace Heather. But Picnic’s got a problem: London Armstrong. He is wildly attracted to her but knows he shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, and most importantly, knows she’s clueless about club life and wouldn’t fit in well. Not as an old lady or even a casual fling.
Supportive and independent, London Armstrong owns a successful cleaning business and has a contract with the Reapers MC. While managing her work, she also takes care of her cousin’s daughter Jessica – a reckless wild child – and Jessica’s friend Melanie who has a bad home life. She’s attracted to Picnic but knows she shouldn’t act on it, not with the dozens of responsibilities she has.
***************************
This book was different from the others in the series in several ways, all of which are positive. First, it’s a second chance romance between two older, more mature characters whereas the couples in the other books were much younger, more NA based. This aspect gives the story a lot more depth, allowing room for Picnic and London’s many life experiences. There’s also a lot more action and grit, something I thought the first three books lacked a little in. Additionally, I think there is a much greater focus on family than there was in the other books in the series. Picnic and London may be forces to reckon with in their respective businesses and work, but they are people who value family first. It was very interesting to see this dichotomy present between their personal and work lives.
Both Picnic and London are fantastic characters: so strong and so fiercely determined to protect their loved ones and what they believe in. In the first three books, there was only this rough and tough side of Picnic’s so I really enjoyed seeing his softer, protective side. His words and actions are unconventional and not what us society folks consider entirely romantic but the heartfelt feelings are there.
As positively outstanding this book is, the picky reader in me also had a few issues. For one, I really did not like Jessica. Even with (view spoiler) that seriously doesn’t excuse all the shitty things she said/did that almost got London killed so most of the scenes with her present, I basically had a sour look on my face. Another thing was I didn’t have a full grasp on this intense connection London and Picnic had. It seemed to me that Picnic got tired of having airheaded bimbos around him and the first time he finds a woman with substance, he’s head over heels. Don’t get me wrong, I adore these characters individually but it took a good while for me to warm up to them as a couple, especially with all the action going around there was barely any room for relationship development.
Despite the numerous problems I had with the book, it was pretty engaging, fun to read, and total escapism, which is the entire reason why I read books. If I wasn’t busy traveling the past few days, I would’ve finished this book in one sitting. And most importantly, I am DYING to get to the next book! Gawd, this woman is a friggin huge tease.
ARC provided by Penguin Intermix via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Everything done in darkness, will eventually be brought into the light.

I ran, but all it did was keep me one step ahead of my past. I tried to start over; new name, new identity. But you can’t change your soul.

A fresh start at college was just what I needed. For a while, it worked. I was the party girl, the one that seemed confident, but it was a lie.

When guys kissed me–I felt only pain.

When they touched me–Nothing but fear.

Deep inside, every girl wants to be the beauty in the story, to find someone that will see you as their world.

But the truth? I was the beast. And as much as I wanted redemption, I wasn’t fool enough to think I’d ever get it.

Until he walked into my life.

I wasn’t prepared to fall for someone. My scars were too deep, the wounds too raw. But he offered me peace, he offered me security. I should have known it was just another lie–I should have known that falling in love with my professor was a bad idea.

But I was powerless to stop myself from falling.
And he was powerless to catch me.
Because the darkness finally caught up to me, and as fate would have it, a cruel twist almost bled me dry. But I’m stronger than I knew. I’m stronger than you think.
You think you know my story, but you don’t….after all everyone has Shame in their lives– and I’m no longer afraid to show you mine.
2 stars!
I am a huge fan of this author and the other books in this series all have been epic winners for me. Unfortunately I can’t really say the same about this final book in the series. Lisa is a character that intrigued me from the moment she was first introduced so it really saddens me that her story did not captivate me as much as the other characters’ stories did. Detailed reasons for my rating will be given later in my review but the main gist of it is that I didn’t like either of the main characters, didn’t believe in their romance, and couldn’t suspend disbelief enough to enjoy this book.
If you’ve read any other books in this series, it’s evident that Lisa had a torturous past and her current identity is not her real one. Through past journal entries, we’re slowly given glimpses to the psychotic events in Lisa’s past, and a look into her even crazier ex-boyfriend’s mind. Here is where my disconnect with Lisa’s character is: the Lisa portrayed in the other books and the Lisa in this book is completely different. It’s easy to say I’m not going to judge a person – in this case Lisa – based on their past if they’ve learned from their mistakes but it was pretty much impossible for me to think of her in a positive light here. I will never, ever, EVER understand nor accept that her love for her demonic ex is what blinded her to reason because the things she did in her past are unforgivable, at least in my eyes. If it really is love that blinded her, then she is a person with no common sense and doesn’t know how to distinguish between right and wrong. In this case, love is not enough of a justification for me.
A new character in the series, Tristan is one of Lisa’s professors and has a secret agenda of his own. I don’t want to spoil anything for you so all I can say is that he has his own reasons for becoming a professor and for getting close to Lisa. I’d like to say that I at least liked his character but I can’t. This guy’s hot-and-cold behavior around Lisa was a major turn-off and when his real profile was exposed I pretty much gave up on trying to like his character. It’s one thing to pull off a rich/famous background in the first two books but do it again in this third one? While in a NA college setting? What are the freaking chances? At least Wes and Gabe were likable characters; Tristan had the whole pretentious, arrogant attitude for most of the book.
So with me not being able to like these characters as individuals, it’s a no-brainer I couldn’t see them as a couple nor did I feel the romance develop between them. Their ‘connection’ was spontaneous and came out of the blue but for some inexplicable reason them together just clicked.
With simple, heartfelt moments like the one above, it was enough to tide me over with the romance part but by then, I was too caught up in the logistics part of the plot. Doing my best to keep spoilers out so I can’t name specifics, but there were many parts where if you stop for just 5 seconds and think about it, you’d wonder how can this even happen?! And part of the reason why I didn’t like it when Tristan’s influential background was revealed is because the author uses it as an excuse/cover up to explain the logistics of certain events (like how he was able to score a teaching position for example).
There is one aspect I feel compelled to clarify: please do not decide to read this book just for the forbidden aspect alone. Though the story is technically about a teacher and his student, the fact that one of them seeks the other out for other reasons aside from the romance negates the whole forbidden aspect. It lacks the complete thrill of the chase, the sneaking around, etc… and instead you’ll end up being caught in a web full of deceit, frustration and annoyance with the characters’ pasts.
Shame is the third and final book in the Ruin series and can be read as a standalone, but because the characters from the previous books make major appearances in this story, I highly recommend reading them first. I would wholeheartedly recommend all of the books in this series aside from this last one.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Gracelynn is drowning in an existence that fails to fulfill her. A ballerina by trade, she’s devoted her life to the stage, sacrificing adventure for discipline. When her boyfriend gives her permission to want what she’s not supposed to want, can she walk away? Or will she leap?

Jasper isn’t a man with many boundaries, and “sharing” a woman with his best friend is hardly a new endeavor. But the moment he meets Gracelynn he realizes she’s different. She leaves him feeling alive in a way he’s not used to, and for the first time in his life, he understands what it means to be wanted… Cherished… And he needs more…

But there are rules—rules that forbid Jasper from truly having her. As forbidden desire spirals out of control, Jasper has to decide if he’s willing to fight for something that doesn’t truly belong to him. His best friend doesn’t deserve her, but is Jasper strong enough to believe he does?

3 stars!
For me, reading this book took some balls. Angst, love triangle, cheating…did I scare you yet?  As a reader who loathes all three, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I did enjoy the book. It has a very interesting book premise and for the most part the story was sensual, erotic, and at times, deeply emotional. But at the same time, this book also didn’t work for me. I think the combination of high angst, extremely damaged and flawed characters, and a meddlesome, needs-to-die-already ‘best friend’ all together messed with my emotions in a bad way. For every positive I can come up with, there’s a negative to counter so that leaves me with the middle-number rating.
***************************
Gracelynn Ellis ‘Gray’ is a ballerina and has been dating the seemingly perfect guy – Ian – for the past 4 months. Her past experiences have left her with an extremely insecure and timid side, and so Gray accepts much of Ian’s verbal abuse without defense. On one of her rehearsal days, Ian brings his best friend and bar owner Jasper Drees over to meet Gray in hopes of spicing up their sex life by sharing her, something these two rakes have done many times in the past. What started out as an outright refusal turns into a tentative agreement as Gray is interested in exploring her sexuality and breaking out of her shell.
Though Ian has set up rules that serve as boundaries to how intimate Gray and Jasper can be, the heart knows no boundaries and Gray and Jasper connect on a deep and emotional level neither of them have ever had before with anyone else. The story then portrays them fighting and giving into their attraction along with their inner turmoil, guilt, lust and about a dozen other emotions.
***************************
It’s pretty obvious that the book is a romance between Jasper and Gray so the whole ‘love triangle’ aspect isn’t too bad. I think the author did a good job with showing how crucial it was that these two characters had to be together, whether it be through the explosive sex scenes or emotional moments. Without that kind of desperation and deep feelings, it would’ve been hard to convince me of the strength of their bond. I still thought the author threw their attraction in the reader’s faces too soon, almost bordering on insta-love but at the same time I understood. With a shitty boyfriend like Ian, Jasper’s sensitivity and attentiveness is definitely more appealing. I have to admit, I wasn’t too keen about their relationship in the beginning but once I saw how much they were willing to go through for each other, they won me over. I rooted for them, even when I wanted to slap them senseless. As unstable, dysfunctional, and lost these characters were, they belonged together. They were better people by being together, and helped each other fill the void in their hearts. That much is undeniable.
This book could’ve gotten at least 4 stars from me if it weren’t for the fact I had to suspend disbelief in order to somewhat enjoy the story. The crux of the issue is why didn’t Gray just break up with Ian already so she and Jasper could be together?? Honest to God, there is not a single reason provided why she couldn’t just break up with him. Ian’s no saint – calling him rude, abrasive, and a douchenugget is being nice. But hey, if she did break up him early on in the book, then there wouldn’t be this ‘forbidden’ aspect, which means no push-pull dynamic and high angst. Moral of this little paragraph is to not question the logistics of their relationship because it would be futile. Oh and while I’m on the topic of their relationship, I thought it was a bad move on the author’s part to add in a little revenge scene near the end of the book. While I did like the sentiment behind the idea, the actual execution was very childish and completely trivialized Gray and Jasper’s entire emotional journey, making it like a game of ‘who got the girl in the end.’ Not cool.
In the end, maybe I’m just not cut out for these kinds of stories. It’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this book at all because I did. I lived and craved for some of the one-on-one emotional scenes Jasper and Gray had where they actually worked out their problems and not let indecisiveness and insecurity take over. If you’re a fan of high and somewhat unnecessary angst, sizzling hot sex scenes with ménage, and a hard-earned, hard-fought, rewarding ending, this is the book for you.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Elizabeth Finn is a multi-published contemporary romance author. Her passion is creating stories packed full of believable conflicts, characters who leave you rooting for them, and romance that might just short-circuit your e-reader. She likes her characters flawed, but they always find the best part of themselves on their journey. And her readers find themselves devoted to her honest and heartfelt voice.