NOW AVAILABLE!! Found in Bliss by Lexi Blake ~ Sarah A’s Review

Re-released in a second edition with new content.

Holly Lang has a hard time trusting men. Eight years ago, her husband tossed her aside and took her son away from her. Finding the little town of Bliss has given her a second chance at life, new friends, and sense of belonging. Unfortunately, Bliss also seems to have filled her days and nights with dreams of two beautiful men. She can’t stop thinking about the gentle but haunted Dr. Caleb Burke, and the exotic and dangerous Alexei Markov.

Caleb Burke isn’t your ordinary town doctor, but he’s always dedicated himself to trying to be a good man. His journey to this quirky little town was not an easy one. Some of the stops along the way left him scarred in more ways than one. But when he first sees Holly, it’s like someone threw open the blinds and let the sunlight into his life for the first time in years.

Alexei Markov is nothing like Caleb Burke. Working as a hit man for the Russian mafia, he was forced to do unspeakable things. He suffered through all the moral compromises to fulfill one simple goal, killing the man who murdered his brother. When a mission led him to Bliss, he found something more precious than vengeance. A woman named Holly Lang. Throughout months of living in witness protection, testifying against his former employers, all he could think about was finding his way back to her.

After returning to Bliss, Alexei and his strange new ally Caleb discover that they aren’t the only ones interested in Holly. Someone else is stalking her and appears to want her dead. The only way to discover the identity of the killer is for all three to face up to the secrets of their past and work together to fight for everything they have found in Bliss.

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I have been looking forward to Holly, Caleb, and Alexei’s story since we got our first glimpse of their dynamic in One to Keep and I think I built it up too far in my head.  It was still a fun book, with plenty of comedic relief in the form of the interesting population of Bliss and Alexei’s tenuous grasp of the English language, and I loved the triad together, I just expected more.

I felt like the Alexei we got to know in Found in Bliss was a much lighter, freer Alexei than we met in One to Keep.  He was unencumbered by the revenge he’d sought, unrestricted by the criminal mask he’d been wearing to seek that revenge.  I loved that he was able to bring both Holly and Caleb out of their shells and make them admit to the feelings they had.  Alexei was the catalyst and the glue of their threesome.  Caleb was my favorite character in this book.  I have a soft spot for broody, damaged men.  I loved his awkwardness and straightforward demeanor.  I was ecstatic Alexei saw what was behind Caleb’s walls and did whatever he could to make Caleb acknowledge his feeling and begin to shed his crusty shell.  Honestly, I didn’t care much for Holly one way or the other.  I felt like I didn’t know who she was beyond the surface and it made it hard for me to connect with her in a meaningful way.

I always love the type of suspense Ms. Blake writes, and how she uses the tension and danger to drive her couples together, but I’m not sure that it added a lot to Holly, Caleb, and Alexei’s story.  If anything, I felt like it detracted from their connection.  I felt like they already had so much to overcome with their combined pasts that the book could have only focused on that and been a wonderful and complete story.

My wish for Found in Bliss was just to have seen more of Caleb’s healing from his past, we were just getting into working on his issues when the story finished, and I was let down that there wasn’t more.  Hopefully, we’ll see more of him overcoming the traumas he’s experienced further into the series.

Found in Bliss is the fifth book in Lexi Blake’s Nights in Bliss, Colorado series.  These books are interconnected standalones and can be read independently.  However, I highly suggest at least reading One to Keep before reading Found in Bliss to have a complete understanding of Alexei and a complete picture of his life.  Found in Bliss is written in third-person limited perspective, alternatively following Holly, Alexei, and Caleb’s thoughts.

“No.” He said the word. He said it a lot, but this time he really, really meant it. Caleb Burke watched as that big Russian stood over sweet Holly, his dark eyes promising all manner of comfort, and he knew he wasn’t ready to let her go.

Of course, he also wasn’t ready to take her.

Fuck.

“No?” Alexei turned to him, seeming to notice for the first time that he wasn’t alone with Holly. Moments before, the Russian had walked into the reception hall where Stefan Talbot and his new wife, Jennifer, were hosting their wedding party. He’d marched in like he owned the place and zeroed in on Holly.

Alexei looked the same as he had months before, but it was easy to tell he’d changed. There was a relaxed set to his shoulders he hadn’t had the last time he was in Bliss. But then the last time Alexei Markov had been in Bliss, it had been as a member of the Russian mob.

“Get your hands off her.”

“My hands are entirely to myself.” And Alexei still had trouble with English.

“Caleb, what’s wrong?” Holly asked, her face turning to him. Wide green eyes stared up at him in confusion. She was so gorgeous. Every time she looked at him, he felt it straight in his gut. And his cock. Damn it. He had to turn away from her.

“You shouldn’t be here.” Caleb couldn’t take his eyes off the Russian. It was nothing less than the truth, though he had selfish reasons for pointing it out. “You’re supposed to be in witness protection.”

Alexei shrugged, his eyes going back to Holly as though her presence was a magnet he couldn’t avoid. “I told you. The trials are over. All the men who worked with Pushkin have been put in proper jails. I finish my testimony last week. I am here today. I am free man.”

Free? After everything he’d done? Alexei Markov had blown into town eight months before as a mobster. Just because he’d turned state’s witness and saved Jennifer Waters and Callie Hollister-Wright didn’t give him a free pass. He tried not to think about the fact that the Russian had saved Holly, too. Alexei had thrown his own body over hers, taking the bullet that would have ended her life. It didn’t erase the crimes he’d committed before. “You killed a bunch of people, and they let you go free?”

“He only killed them to save me, Caleb. And Stef got a couple, too. No one’s talking about putting him in jail.” Holly was already reaching for the Russian’s hands, her face turning upward in greeting. “I’m so happy for you, Alexei. I’m happy they let you come back to Bliss.”

A cloud crossed Alexei’s face telling Caleb everything he needed to know.

“They didn’t let you come back, did they?” Caleb asked. “You’re on the run.”

“No running. I take taxi and then train and then bus. Bus drop off at the Trading Post. It was closed, but Ms. Teeny was kind enough to leave note on door telling me about the wedding.” After his quick explanation, Alexei turned back to Holly. “You look like beautiful doll.”

Caleb grabbed at his tie, loosening it. The damn thing was a noose around his neck. Why had he come to this thing? He should have done what he always did. He should have stayed at home until someone needed him. He should have barricaded himself in his office and stared at medical books until his eyes wouldn’t stay open one second more and he was forced to fall into that hell he called sleep. Yeah, that would have made for a great night. But no, he’d gotten on this monkey suit and headed to the Feed Store Church to attend a wedding, all because he’d wanted to watch Holly walk down the aisle. He’d wanted to see her in a beautiful dress and imagine for one second that she was walking toward him and he was normal. That he was twenty-two again, marrying the right woman this time with his whole life ahead of him.

Not once in that daydream had he included a second man in the scenario, though given where he lived, he should have known that would happen whether he liked it or not.

“Thanks,” Holly said to Alexei, her face lighting up.

Caleb flushed. He hadn’t told her she was beautiful. He’d nodded at her. Why couldn’t he talk to her? He’d been good at this once. He’d gone to parties and balls. Why couldn’t he talk to one small-town waitress?

Because she was the one, but he was too fucked up to deal with it.

“You do look really pretty.” He forced the words out of his mouth. He didn’t say the ones that were locked inside. She didn’t look pretty. She was beautiful. Inside and out. Holly Lang practically glowed in his mind. With auburn hair that curled and caressed her porcelain shoulders, Holly was a vision of everything feminine. She stirred his cock and his mind. He thought about her all the time.

Yeah. He wasn’t going to say any of that.

Holly turned toward him, a vibrant smile on her lips. When she smiled that sunshine-goddess, center-of-his-whole-fucking-world smile, he always thought he would turn into a puddle of goo at her feet. Yeah. That would be really sexy, Burke.

“Tell her more, Caleb. You do well.” Alexei was smiling at him like he was a toddler who’d finally managed to walk.

What the hell was that about?

Re-released in a second edition with two new chapters and additional new content.

Rachel Swift is a woman on the run.

A stalker sent Rachel’s world reeling. Now she’s running for her life, and Bliss, CO, seems like the perfect place to hide. Bliss is a strange little town, filled with artists, nudists, and the occasional conspiracy nut. It’s a good place to start over.

Max and Rye are just the men to catch her.

Horse trainer Max and Sheriff Rye gave up on their dream of finding one perfect woman to share long ago. Rachel walks in, and they’re both in love and fighting their true natures.

A town like no other….

When Rachel’s past catches up with her, all of Bliss is in danger. Rachel knows she should run, but how can she leave behind the love she’s found with Max and Rye and the home she’s built in Bliss? With her whole town behind her, Rachel is ready to make her stand. It’s time for her to get back in the saddle and ride.

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Re-released in a second edition with new content.

Three lost souls

Growing up in the eclectic, small town of Bliss was wonderful for Callie Sheppard. She loved everything about it, except for the lack of potential romantic partners. She only went wild once in her life, sharing a perfect weekend in Dallas with two incredible men she never thought she would see again. When they parted, she was left with a hole in her heart she feared would never be filled.

One romantic weekend

DEA agents Nathan Wright and Zane Hollister were thrilled when Callie agreed to spend the weekend with them. Just days away from a long, undercover assignment, they considered this passionate affair to be an ideal way to spend their last days of freedom. They never expected to fall in love. Leaving her behind was the hardest decision of their lives.

An unexpected reunion

Six years later, Callie is preparing to break in a new sheriff after Rye Harper walked out on the job. Her heart skips a few beats when the man walking through the door is none other than Nate Wright. Nate and Zane have come to Bliss, but their time undercover has left them broken and scarred. The boys are determined to win back Callie’s heart. But when the criminals they took down come seeking revenge, Nate and Zane may have to save the strange little town of Bliss before they can reclaim the woman they love.

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Stefan Talbot likes order and control. He approaches his life with the same meticulous precision that he uses to put paint on his canvas. Nothing good comes from chaos, and that is why he has refused to allow himself to get close to Jennifer Waters. They are like fire and ice. Though she is younger, her talent as an artist is unquestionable. But she lives her life like she paints—with wild, passionate abandon. It is intoxicating and terrifying, and he can’t get her out of his head.

Jennifer ran from Bliss to put Stef behind her. She had come to the mountain town seeking a mentor but found much more than she bargained for. Cool and distant, Stef was like a marble statue and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t break through his shell. She moved to Dallas to start over, but nothing is going as planned. When the art gallery where she works is robbed and a precious painting is stolen, Jen is accused of the theft. Jen is thrilled when her bail is met, until she realizes her savior is Stef and he has a few conditions. First and foremost, she has to return to Bliss.

Against the backdrop of the Winter Festival, Stef and Jen’s attraction catches fire. But the dark forces behind the robbery in Dallas have followed Jen home. A criminal syndicate believes she still has the stolen painting and they’ll kill to get their hands on it.

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Laura Niles walked out the door and never looked back. As she left Washington, DC, her career was in ruins and her love life decimated. Her desperate flight eventually led her to Bliss, Colorado, where she managed to find a new home and a little peace. That will have to be enough because Laura cannot imagine finding happiness without the men she left behind.

For five years, Rafe Kincaid and Cameron Briggs have searched for the only woman they ever loved. When she disappeared, everything became crystal clear. For one night, everything had been perfect and instead of embracing what they had found, they let it all slip away. They had let worries about their FBI careers and what others might think destroy the most precious gift they had ever been given. Now they have finally tracked her down, and they want answers.

Laura is shocked when her former loves show up in her new home. When the full force of the FBI arrives with them, Laura knows that the quirky little town is in for a rough ride. The killer that ruined her life has been watching and waiting for the opportunity to strike again. For Rafe, Cam, and Laura it’s time for second chances — to stop a monster, and to reclaim everything they lost.

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NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog int eh world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.

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