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.

Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless NorCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows.

Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight—because while time may have limits, their love is infinite…..

Talia passes out hard from the travel and epic reunion sex. I’m too amped for sleep, so I lie in the dark and trace her spine. Can you love someone too much? No point being afraid, might as well jump in it with both feet. I press my mouth to her neck and she undulates, responsive even from her dreams. If miracles were real, I’d swear we were designed to fit together.
I loop my arm around her waist and hold fast, until our breathing syncs. I’m drifting off when she jerks—hard—once, twice. Her body recoils as she unleashes a lung-tearing scream.
“Talia, wake up. Come on, sweetheart, talk to me.” I clamber over her, hunching protectively. “Open your eyes. It’s Bran. I’ve got you. I’m not letting go.” I keep talking while she flays my chest like she’s drowning under ice, desperate to find a break in the surface.
“Can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I…where am…oh God. Bran.”
“I’m right here.” I cradle her while she draws another unsteady gasp. Her hair plasters her forehead in sweaty wisps.
“Give me a minute. I’ll be fine.” She pushes herself to a half-sit and sways with disorientation. “This…this happens sometimes…panic attacks or night terrors…whatever. They seem to come when I drop my guard. Or, I don’t know, maybe it’s the meds. Those pills make me feel like a toxic waste dump.”
“Have you been bad this summer?” The muscles in my neck cord. It shreds my guts to see her hurting. I’d do anything, any fucking thing, to carry her pain. I don’t fully understand the inner workings of OCD but she’s explained that for her, the condition comes in waves. Everything will be rolling along fine, more or less, and then bang—a giant squid grips her brain. She fights hard for recovery, a warrior even when she believes she’s nothing but a coward.
“No, not really.” She grinds her eyes with the backs of her hands. “I kinda danced around the edge of the rabbit hole a few times but never fell inside.”
My muscles release some tension. “Try to go back to sleep. You need the rest.
Don’t worry, I’ll keep watch, okay?”
“I’m sorry to be such a psych job. It’s totally shaming.”
“Shhhhhh.”
Her chin tips down. “Can you talk to me for a little while? Get me out of my fuckball head?”
“Hey now, I got mad love for that head, Captain.” I kiss her brow, acting chill even though I’m scared. How can I get her to settle? Then it hits me. “I want to take you surfing again.”
“Mmmm, that’d be nice.”
“Picture yourself out there, in the water, on a board, under the shooting stars.”
“With sharks eyeballing me from the depths?”
“Nah, they’re all busy hunting sea lions or some bloody mischief. This is you, the sea, and the sky. A set rolls in. You can’t make out the wave. The board lifts and you feel the momentum building. There’s fear deep in your belly, sensible, because you can’t see what’s coming or where you’re going. You fight the self-protective instincts, give yourself over, and the next thing you know—you’re having the ride of your life.”
“Thank you.” She flips in my arms so we’re belly to belly. “I mean it. That was beautiful, really, really beautiful. I’m so excited to be here, for right now—to live in the moment. But it’s like I have this…this weird mental stutter. My thoughts keep skipping over the same annoying question like a scratch on vinyl: What will we do?” Tears spill from the corners of her eyes, course silently toward her chin. “My visa.”
Talia’s been granted a three-month student visa to complete her senior thesis in history. In all its benevolent generosity, the Australian government expanded her time in the country by an extra month.
Four months—the sum of our allotted time.
“They’ll make me leave.”
“Don’t believe everything you think.” I wipe her damp cheeks.
“Can you tattoo that on my forehead?”
Maybe it’s my imagination, but the brass alarm clock on the dresser clicks louder.
Another second gone.
Another second gone.
“I’m not losing you to some shithouse immigration policy, Captain. We will be all right in the end.” I’ve no idea how the hell I’m going to solve this drama but I will figure it out. “We have to hope, otherwise we’re sunk.”
She jerks with surprised laughter.
“What?”
She hiccups and covers her mouth with her hand, shoulders shaking. It takes me a second to realize she’s giggling.
“I’m funny to you right now?” This girl drives me every sort of crazy.
“I’m not laughing at you.” She works her lips together and unsuccessfully
smothers the smile. “It’s—”
“Forget it.” I instinctively stiffen.
“Bran the Optimist.” She grabs my wrists, lifts my palms to her face, and plants a kiss in the center of each one. “I like this side of you.”
“Never mind. I was being dumb.”
“You were awesome.” She pecks the tip of my nose. “And for the record, I love your stupid face.”
I give her a begrudging kiss back. “I love yours too.”
Love isn’t enough of a word.
I wasted almost an entire year of my life implementing a scorched earth policy, not caring who I left burned and broken in my path.
Talia was my oasis. My salvation.
“Don’t give the visa a second thought.” I nestle her against me, rubbing her lower back in easy circles. “I’ll sort this out, I swear to you.”
Even if I don’t have the first fucking clue.
3.5-4 stars!
Earlier this year I was ecstatic that I found this NA author and book 1 in her Off the Map series was a smashing success for me. Everything I loved about the first book was present in this second one: witty dialogue, dry & sarcastic humor, and the return of the likable main characters. As much as I enjoyed most of this book, the ending left me unsatisfied and made me see these lovable characters in a whole different perspective (in a bad way). Nevertheless, I already feel guilty for giving this book lower than a 4 star rating because that’s how much I adore this author’s writing and her sense of humor. I honestly do encourage readers to check out this series despite the minor bumps I had because her characters and writing style is truly a breath of fresh air.
Sideswiped is book 2 in the Off the Map series and continues Bran and Talia’s story after the events of book 1. In the first book, the story was mainly about these two characters falling in love and establishing the groundwork for their relationship. This second book is about them after becoming a couple and the challenges they face from both of their families, school, work, and their own demons. With Talia suffering from extreme OCD and Bran’s past constantly haunting him, I was both super impressed and happy that they took on their obstacles together. There were brief moments of insecurity and jealousy, sure, but they were a team. You couldn’t find a couple more in sync than this one, who matched each other in heart and mind, body and soul.
I can’t delve into the plot much because it’ll spoil book 1 for those that haven’t read it yet but I can say that I laughed a lot while reading. There is an underlying sadness within the story but when pitted against these irresistible, charming, and hilarious characters it’s a perfect match. Unlike most NA characters, Talia and Bran have a radical way of thinking and I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing it is to read a book that’s a smart romance but at the same time is so hot and so emotional.
Up until the last 10% this book was at least a 4 star read for me. I was never bored while reading and the story held my attention but it wasn’t to the point where it was unputdownable. Still, a wonderful read. However, I wasn’t impressed with the last 10% as the author does what she did with book 1’s ending here too: Bran has a momentary lapse in judgment and makes a mistake, something that’s completely out of his character and even more out of the blue in the context of the book (no it’s not cheating). I’m starting to see that while the buildup and main part of the book are the author’s high points, the wrap up and conclusions are not. Only Talia’s fierce determination and unwavering belief that her relationship with Bran could take on anything and they could walk away intact kept me from tearing my hair out.
Going into this series you have to understand that both of these characters are extremely damaged – both with their own quirks – and have been burned repeatedly by their loved ones so while I thought it was ok for Bran to waver a bit and make mistakes, his actions in the last 10% still pissed me off.
This book ends on a high note – not exactly a cliffhanger but it leaves you anticipating the third and final book even more. The author’s writing and the humor present in this book is GOLD and that makes me want to round to 4 stars period, but the minor drama along with the anticlimactic ending makes me want to give it 3.5 stars…so 3.5-4 stars it is.
ARC provided by Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lia Riley writes offbeat New Adult Romance. After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, she scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling fourex with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments. A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn’t mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

The dirty. The filthy. The nasty.

The man your mother f*cking warned you about – is me.

Hold onto your panties, ladies.

Lucas Carter is here to show you the dark side of the sheets.

***A stand-alone novel of approximately 95,000 words.

***WARNING: This is a dark romance erotica – meaning lots of violence, sex, and emotionally disturbing inner dialogue. However, there is *NO* kidnapping, rape, or other forms of misogyny. Lucas Carter is an anti-hero, but he doesn’t disrespect women. The entire book is told in his point of view.

4.5 stars!!
Before I start my review I just want to double emphasize the warning in the synopsis – this book is all kinds of dark and not for anyone sensitive to topics such as violence, kinky sex, profanity, and disturbing dialogue. Now with that being said, this book was a HUGE winner for me (gosh, what does that say about my book tastes hehe)! There is nothing more alluring to me than a dark read with an anti-hero I’d hate to love and love to hate, wonderfully kickass side characters, and a plot so convoluted everything and nothing makes sense. Though it was a rough start at the beginning, the story soon took off and went into a direction I never anticipated…loved that!
Meet Lucas Carter, the narrator of the story and your seemingly average gigolo next door. Not. What makes him different is that he only has clients with specific tastes: women that have their own sexual fetishes that aren’t considered normal. For a good part of the book I didn’t know how I felt about Lucas. He was this cocky, arrogant, and perverted bastard who I didn’t know why he was the way he was or why he got started in this business to begin with until later in the book. His attitude towards everything – especially women – both intrigued me and infuriated me. On one hand, I felt terrible that he lost so much faith in humanity that he became cynical and deals with everything in a harsh manner. On the flip side it was degrading to see his sexual methods on his clients. For a time it seemed like nobody could penetrate his walls. At least not until two vastly different women are introduced into his life and completely shake up his world.
I know what you’re thinking…love triangle?! No, it’s not, and I honestly have no idea how to explain his connection to both Audra, the fiery redhead who matches him move for move, and Robbie, his sweet-tempered and innocent neighbor next door. He’s involved with both women at the same time, but in this three-way, there is no actual ‘love’ reciprocated until the very end. It’s a really unique situation that can’t quite be explained unless you’ve read it yourself. I personally loved only one of these two female characters but I think what mattered most is that both were good for Lucas – one of whom is the woman of his nightmares and the other of his dreams. Both made him feel.
I think the message this book tries to send out is unclear until you’ve read it in its entirety. Most books I’ve read all try to focus on the bright side, the positive, the normal, and spin an inspirational tale from that, even though there may be tiny spots of darkness within. This book? It takes those tiny dark spots and magnifies them and spins an equally inspirational tale from that. Subjects that most people aren’t comfortable with and shy away from – the ‘taboo’ – become the topic of the hour and makes up the plot. People with unusual sexual fetishes and habits who may be ostracized from what society considers normal are the main characters. And an atypical, twisted love that sprouts from all this becomes the romance. This is still indeed a love story, but it is one that you have to be willing to shed away ‘vanilla’ boundaries in order to read. My only complaint is that I wanted an epilogue for these characters but aside from that, if this book sounds like something you can handle, then come take a walk on the dark side and read a story where the taboo becomes unchained.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Intelligent.
Naive.
Statistic.

Raine Forester was an average girl leading an average life. She slipped beneath everyone’s radar, until Camron Moss, the most popular guy in school, took interest in her and changed everything.

Some acts are unforgivable.

Raine thought she’d been accepted. She thought she was one of them. She thought she was in love… until one moment made her realize she’d trusted the wrong person. Lies are told, hearts get broken, secrets are revealed, and sometimes, true love is found in the least likely places.

2.5 stars!
I picked this book up because of the catchy premise: the shy, studious girl gets the most popular guy in school but later ends up with his older brother?! Well, color me intrigued. Unfortunately, this book was SO far from what I anticipated it to be I was relieved that I finally finished. Don’t get me wrong, the groundwork of the story is a good one, but this book completely lacks depth: the writing was choppy, certain scenes got cut off at the most pivotal moments, and plot was severely underdeveloped. The story was more sweet and clichéd than I expected from reading the blurb and had I not been in the mood for something lighthearted, I’m pretty sure my rating would be even lower.
Before I launch into a tirade of complaints, I do want to point out a couple of positives this book had in case you’re thinking of reading it. For one, both main characters were likable and they made a really strong couple so the heartfelt scenes with them together? Thumbs up. Raine is such a resilient heroine and Jarret (the older brother) is a softhearted bad boy who stood up for her when she didn’t have anyone. There were a couple of scenes that really tugged on my heartstrings and some that made me smile.
At this point, this book was a solid 3-3.5 star read, nothing extraordinary but nothing bad either. The last 50% of the book is what really made me lower my rating. I loved that both of these characters were kindhearted people but that quality became their downfall here, letting everyone roll over them including each other and both made some unnecessary out-of-character decisions. When I finished the book, I was extremely unsatisfied. The best way to explain it is I felt like I was reading a very rough draft of the book. Important moments/conversations that you’d expect to read about are left off and the story immediately jumps into a new chapter.
Maybe the book was too YA for me. Maybe it really is a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me. But what I’m chalking it up to is my high book standards – this book offered nothing great to me in terms of plot, emotion, or reading satisfaction and the fact that the writing didn’t stand out to me either makes this book a very unmemorable read overall. Since I am literally the only person who didn’t like the book, I say still give it a try if you want. But to like-minded readers if you read this one, I’m afraid you’ll end up feeling the same way as me.

Don’t say it unless you mean it…

It’s a simple concept, one I’ve said time and again, but something people don’t seem to comprehend. You should choose every syllable carefully, because you never know when somebody will hold you to your word.

Somebody like me.

I’m not a good man. I’m not. I know. I have enough darkness inside of me to rid the world of every stitch of light. But there’s one I could never harm, one light I couldn’t bring myself to snuff out.

Karissa.

She thinks I’m a monster, and maybe I am. I taunt her with my touch, get a thrill out of torturing her soul. But I’m not the only one. The world is full of monsters, and I’m not the most dangerous one out there.

4 stars!!
I was really relieved that this second book would be in Naz’s POV. Monster in His Eyes was a mediocre read for me and it was mainly because of the idiotic heroine Karissa. With this book, however, I greatly appreciated being in Naz’s head and felt that it helped me understand him better. I also recognized that for the story to be entirely in his POV, the mystery and enigmatic part that made him so appealing in the first book would have to be sacrificed. And that was okay with me. What I got in return was so much better: a multifaceted Naz. Not just the killer side of him, but the human side as well. No matter how badass or cold the man could be, this book showed that there is a layer of vulnerability to his character.
Aside from the 5 star prologue, the first 40% of the book seriously tested my patience. It seemed like both Karissa & Naz were playing the waiting game…just waiting for something or someone to interfere that would kickstart yet another argument and I was especially sick of Karissa brushing off Naz’s efforts. It took great patience and effort on my part to not DNF. I’m really glad I kept reading because after the 40% mark, things picked up and I was totally with these characters. Reading the story from Naz’s POV accomplished what I thought would be impossible: I actually sympathized for Karissa. Through Naz’s eyes, I feel like she did mature a bit and learned from her experiences in book 1. The sex scenes were scorching and wickedly hot, but this time around there was heartfelt emotion as well, something that was lacking in the first book.
For me, reading books has always been how the book made me feel, think, etc…But this book really placed me in the characters’ shoes. I personally didn’t like Karissa, yet through Naz’s eyes I understood why he found her youth and naïveté appealing. I personally didn’t like some of Naz’s actions, but through his eyes, I could at least understand his motivations. A book that could make me consider the characters’ feelings and thoughts besides my own is a well-written book IMO. That’s not to say that Naz has completely justified himself or is a good man in disguise…because I’m not so sure he is nor would I want him to be in this case
Torture to Her Soul is the second book in this 2-part series and isn’t a standalone. You must read Monster in His Eyes first.
P.S. I freaking love the epilogue and bonus scene! Made me tear up <3

It’s that time of month again!! For those that are new to my blog and Facebook page, I host a follower appreciation giveaway at the end of each month as an extra thank you for being a part of my blogging journey! 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. Okay wait….I may be bending the truth a little. I’ve actually read more than the list shown but the only reason I haven’t posted those titles is because I haven’t posted my review on the blog yet. You’ll see those books in October’s 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.**

Victor Faust’s new Order is growing. Business is good as there is no rest for the wicked in an underground world of hardcore criminals and contract killing. Relationships among the operatives have changed little over the past year—but things are about to change now, and all six high-ranking members of the new Order will be blindsided by an unlikely enemy.

Loved ones whose only ties to Victor’s organization are their relationships with its members, are abducted. The price to get them back safely—the six must confess their deepest, darkest secret to this mysterious young woman named Nora, who is as deadly as she is beautiful, and who seems to know more about each of them than they know about each other. And although no one has any clue about who Nora really is, it becomes clear that she also isn’t who she appears to be.

So much more is at stake than secrets and the lives of innocent loved ones; with each member that Nora forces to confess, the truth about their dark pasts and their present objectives will cast suspicion, pit some against each other, and may tear others apart.

Before the game is over everyone will know who this woman is and why she is here, but the damage she will leave in her wake could be the beginning of the new Order’s destruction.

Whose dark secret will be the darkest of all? And can Victor’s Order survive any of them?

6 stars!!
Normally I don’t pull this line BUT if you haven’t read at least one book in this series, dear lord you are missing out on some of the best romantic suspense (with dark elements) books out there! Seeds of Iniquity marks the second book in the series that has gotten a 6 star rating from me. With a blend of flawless & brilliant writing, complex & intense characters, and exhilarating & amazeballs twists, this story was one unputdownable, giant thrill ride that didn’t end until I got to the last page. So many themes from previous books will be explored, loyalties will be tested, rules will be broken, and love will be questioned.
One of my biggest worries when I picked this book up was whether or not I needed to re-read the previous books to refresh my memory. But as soon as I picked it up and started reading, I immediately reconnected with these characters. Izabel’s impulsiveness, Victor’s cool & calm demeanor, Fredrik’s um…ordeal from the previous book all came rushing back to me. The beauty of this book is that the book layout and the way events unfold will refresh your memory of the past books and at the same time, introduce a new story. The only thing you need to know about the plot is that a mysterious and deadly woman Nora is forcing Victor, Izabel, and the rest of the Order to give up their deepest buried secrets after some of their family/friends are kidnapped. As detached as some of these characters are, all of them are connected to each other and indirectly, to their loved ones who they just can’t ignore, so they acquiesce to Nora’s requirements while secretly planning retaliation.
This entire series and this book in particular is equally character-driven and plot-driven, something that’s extremely rare to find in most books. As much as this book is about Izabel and Victor, it’s also about the side characters like Fredrik and Niklas and their stories, all woven together into one. At times the story does take a turn for the dark, and will be disturbing, haunting, and heartbreaking, but the heartfelt romance sprinkled throughout the pages balances it out.
Cutting-edge suspense and complex characters make for a lethal combination and with me being heavily invested in these characters since book 1, this series is one of my favorite to date even though not all of the books were complete winners for me. I’m pretty sure that there will be more books in this series (what I’m hoping for) but even if it ends here with this 4th book, I’m one happy reader. This author has a penchant for ending each of the books in this series in a way where it both entices me for more stories yet satisfies me if it’s the end.
Seeds of Iniquity is book 4 in this series and not a standalone! You must read books 1-3 first as they set up the groundwork for the events in this book.

When Josie Jensen, an awkward 13-year-old musical prodigy crashes headlong into new-comer Samuel Yazzie, an 18-year-old Navajo boy full of anger and confusion, an unlikely friendship blooms. Josie teaches Samuel about words, music and friendship, and along the way finds a kindred spirit. Upon graduation, Samuel abandons the sleepy, small town in search of a future and a life, leaving his young friend behind. Many years go by and Samuel returns, finding Josie in need of the very things she offered him years before. Their roles reversed, Samuel teaches Josie about life, love, and letting go. Deeply romantic and poignant, Running Barefoot is the story of a small town girl and a Native American boy, the ties that bind them to their homes and families, and the love that gives them wings.

When I heard that this book was loosely connected to the upcoming The Law of Moses and featured an unusual couple pairing, I was immediately on board with reading it as I love interconnected stories with a dose of cultural references and quirky, unique characters. But as I have learned the hard way many times, no matter how wonderful a book idea may be, if I cannot get used to the author’s writing style than that glorious premise might as well be nothing to me. And sadly, this is the case with every Amy Harmon book I have read. It is very clear that she has a way with words and that her books appeal to a certain audience, but her overly rich writing style is just not one that I can identify with. And with this being the 3rd book of hers I have read (or tried to read and then later put down) and didn’t particularly enjoy, I think it may be time for me to just part ways with this author and move on indefinitely, even though a part of me still really wants to try out The Law of Moses because I genuinely like the premise.

This book tells the love and life story of two kindred souls Josie Jensen and Samuel Yazzie. At the tender age of thirteen, Josie is far more mature and possesses an intellect that surpasses most of her peers. Harboring a deep love for books and music, the kindhearted Josie strikes up a tentative acquaintanceship with the edgy but misunderstood Samuel, a half-white, half-Navajo eighteen year old whose ethnicity is judged upon by others and isn’t fully accepted in either world. Through her eyes and ears, Samuel comes to appreciate literary arts more and they form a bond over their mutual love for Shakespeare and Beethoven.
After months roll by, Samuel leaves for the Marines while Josie remains in the small town of Levan and so they part ways. The story then starts alternating between some time gaps for a few chapters until finally, seven whole years have gone by. Josie and Samuel haven’t seen or spoken to each other during this time and the years haven’t been kind to Josie. Tragedy after tragedy occurs and so she’s stuck in the same town caring for her family when Samuel returns to Levan and their paths cross again.
I want to preface that I am a huge second chance romance fan. The idea that two people have such intertwined fates that they’re given a second chance for a relationship feeds my inner romantic. But I also have to be upfront by saying that the second chance romance here was poorly executed. Not going in specifics as it’ll spoil part of the plot, but basically Josie goes through tragedy after tragedy and when Samuel conveniently is on leave, they see each other again and their romance is instantly rekindled. This was so hard for me to believe…because here’s the truth: while they were young, there wasn’t a romance. Their relationship was more of a friendship and both knew if Samuel had stayed instead of going off to the Marines, it would soon turn into something more. And when he was gone, they only interacted once before leading their own lives for the next 7 years. So my bewilderment comes from not understanding the romantic connection in the first place. I think the author should’ve spaced more time in between, especially with a certain tragedy that happened which made it even harder for me to believe in their romance.
But the main reason that left me feeling underwhelmed? It’s the author’s writing. And I don’t say this to be extra mean. I say it like someone who doesn’t like a vegetable or prefers the color green. It’s really my personal preference and I know tons of readers who love her writing style so I’m in the minority. The overly rich and descriptive writing combined with too many life anecdotes and Navajo history honestly smothered me. It got to the point where something would happen plot-wise, and then Samuel would say “another Navajo legend…” and I wanted to hurl myself off a cliff. It’s overkill.
That’s not to say that there weren’t good quotes or that there weren’t any scenes I liked because there was. The first 40% of the book I loved and thought that this’d be 4.5 stars at the very least but after that the difficult writing style that I couldn’t adjust to along with the weak and unconvincing second chance romance crippled the story.
Perhaps staunch fans of the author and those familiar with her writing style will enjoy this one, but for me it further solidifies that me and her books are like oil and water. We simply don’t mix.
Running Barefoot is a second chance romance with heavy emphasis on Native American history and religion. It is loosely connected to The Law of Moses in terms of the setting and a brief cameo but both can be read as complete standalones.
Rating: 2.5 stars!

Love is selfish…My name is Blaire. I’m the bad girl. The other woman. The one who never gets the guy in the end. I’m the gold digger. The bitch. The one no one roots for. The one you love to hate. I hate myself too… Everyone has a story. Are you ready for mine?

3-3.5 stars!
I think it’s a true testament to this author’s writing when her stories feature highly unlikeable characters and boundary-pushing plotlines, yet I still crave more of her words and dive right in to her books. Either that or I’m a masochist. Probably both LOL! Anyways, after almost having a heart attack from reading the angsty Arsen, I was both nervous and excited to start this one as I knew Mia would bring her A-game. And boy, did she ever! Her books are not stories you just read. Nope. Doesn’t matter if you’re hating or loving the book, you feel, you experience, you rage or cry, and that my friends is not something any author can do. So in terms of engaging her readers, I say Mia Asher is an expert in this field. And while reading this particular book made me fall in love with her writing all over again, I still did have a couple of issues with the story that hindered me from completely loving it.
All her life, Blaire White has lacked for nothing except love. Her parents are distant and only care about their individual problems and with Blaire being chubby at a young age and bullied by others, having a beautiful, flawless body and savoring the attention that comes with it become her number one priority. As such, she locks away her emotions, hardens her heart, and in just a few years time lives a grand lifestyle while being a gold-digging bimbo catering to wealthy men’s sexual needs. But when she meets the kindhearted photographer Ronan she’s smitten and he with her, and for the first time in her life, Blaire feels loved and treasured, desired for her, not just for her body.
But at the same time, she can’t let go of her old routine that makes her feel secure and so she struggles between her feelings for Ronan and returning to her gold-digging ways.
I have to say that Blaire is one of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever read. Kudos to the author for tackling a story that centers around her but part of the reason why I can’t give this book a higher rating is because there’s a huge disconnect between me as the reader and her character. I honestly didn’t care what happened to her because she made several bad choices – fully knowing that the end result would be destructive – plus her character was inconsistent throughout the story. I was led to believe that this is a girl who’s the bitch (which she is by the way), the one no one roots for but enjoying every moment of it. However, that’s not really the case. She secretly desires to be loved and treasured not just for her looks but for her true self and when that does happens, she runs away from the guy. But then when she’s with a guy who just wants her for sex, these are her thoughts:
“They all want me; my body, my face, my mouth, but none of them want me.
 
“But what about love? … Don’t you want my love too?”
Get yourself together woman. But do you see? This kind of inconsistency scattered throughout the book really gave me whiplash. I did, however, love Ronan’s character and he definitely had a positive impact in Blaire’s life.
The overall story was compelling though, and the book itself is a fast-paced, quick read that’s a guaranteed page turner. I was a bit disappointed with the short book length so I wasn’t too surprised that the story ended on a cliffhanger. Just another reason why I couldn’t give a higher rating because I truly felt like this book wasn’t a complete story. With some books I can tell that a cliffhanger/abrupt ending is necessary as it’s part of the natural book flow but sadly in this story, it felt more like it was strategically inserted.
Easy Virtue is the first book in a 2-book series and isn’t a standalone. The story will be continued and concluded in the second book. Compared to Arsen the angst level is much lower but the steam level much higher and while there is no love triangle for most of the story, there is a hint at a possible one towards the end and perhaps in the second book.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
 
Rating: 3-3.5 stars!