BLOG TOUR AND REVIEW – Baking Me Crazy by Karla Sorensen

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“Friends to lovers at its best– a sweet indulgence I couldn’t put down!” – R.S. Grey, USA Today Bestselling Author

Baking Me Crazy, the first in the romantic comedy Donner Bakery Series of standalones, from Karla Sorensen is available now!

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I’m Levi Buchanan, and until five years ago, I thought the legend of my family’s curse was a load of crazy, Southern nonsense.

No curse can make you fall in love at first sight. No curse can force a true, deep, passionate, all-consuming love that will haunt you all the days of your life.

Then I met Jocelyn Abernathy and I realized how completely wrong I was.

The problem is, Jocelyn guards her feelings like well-armed soldier. She’s the most beautiful, stubborn, infuriating woman I’ve ever met. Every time she talks, I want to kiss the living daylights out of her. But I can’t.

Because when we met, she didn’t need true love. She needed a best friend. And that’s what I’ve been to her… for five years.

But when Jocelyn meets a handsome stranger her first day working at Donner Bakery and she lets him buy her a dill pickle cupcake, I realize with ominous regret that I may have missed my window with my best friend.

If I can’t get her to see past our friendship, my new curse may be to watch the love of my life move on with someone else.

‘Baking Me Crazy’ is a full-length contemporary romantic comedy, can be read as a standalone, and is book#1 in the Donner Bakery series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

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Excerpt:

“Besides, this is my best friend perk. Shouldn’t I get perks in baked goods?”

She cut me a look. “You’ve been getting those perks for two years, Buchanan. Don’t even pretend you didn’t put on a solid ten pounds that first year I started baking.” Quite pointedly, she looked at my stomach, which we both knew was covered in muscle.

“That’s rude,” I mumbled under my breath. I flexed my bicep. Nero licked my elbow since it was right in front of him. “Yeah, ten pounds in my left arm maybe.”

The noise she made roughly translated to you are ridiculous. She made that sound at me a lot. Of course, the sad truth of the matter was that I was ridiculous.

Not once in the past five years had my feelings lessened for her. I had just learned to live with them. In my junior year of undergrad, I was taking a class on brain pathology in injuries, and a man came to talk to us about how he learned to live without his right arm after it was amputated.

He told us about how, even years after he lost his arm, his brain still triggered sensations to the limb that was no longer there. The adult brain, in particular, struggled to reorganize after the loss of a limb, and given that four out of five amputees suffer from phantom pain symptoms, some of which were incredibly debilitating, it was a lesson that stuck with me.

I wasn’t fool enough to think that me loving Jocelyn was on par with a man who’d lost his arm, but something about the way he talked plucked at a chord inside me. Sometimes my brain struggled to remember that we were just friends.

She’d never dated, never even hinted that she wanted to. She’d never given me a longing glance. Never stared at my mouth like she wondered what it tasted like.

But my hands never, not once, stopped wanting to reach for hers. My fingers always, always itched to dig into her crazy hair and see what the curve of her scalp felt like.

My brain knew what this relationship was, but sometimes, the signals it sent to the rest of my body didn’t always match up with the truth of our situation. We worked out together a lot, Joss and I, and when she got frustrated with the limitations of her body, I always wanted to wrap my arms around her.

I wanted to pull her into the curve of my body, absorb her dissatisfaction into my skin, and carry it for her. That was the irony when she made noises like that.

She had absolutely no clue how ridiculous I really was.

Whitney’s 3 Star Review:

I went into Baking Me Crazy knowing two things:  1. The Smartypants books were going to have their own voice and not try and mimic Penny Reid’s writing style.  2. I had zero expectations since I haven’t read Karla before.

Confused as to why I mention Penny Reid?  If you’re unsure about the premise of this book, it’s part of the Smartypants World which means it is set within the fictional worlds created by author Penny Reid.  In the case of Baking Me Crazy, we are in Green Valley, TN (aka Winston Brothers series world).  Karla’s books feature characters never seen in Penny’s books with a few cameos from the Winston clan.

The book started off promising as I immediately liked Levi and Joss. Levi is your typical dreamboat hero but he’s also super sweet and has a sensitive side.  Joss, his BFF, has a lot of spunk and her physical disability (she is wheelchair bound but can walk at times) brings an eye opening view into what it’s like to be ‘different’.  This is a pretty typical friends to lovers romance. No surprises and nothing particularly outstanding about it.  And that why I only gave this 3 stars. It’s fine but it’s not great, just ok.  Part of the book felt boring and while I didn’t skim through anything, I was tempted.

Baking Me Crazy seems to be getting a lot of positive feedback so maybe I’m in the minority by not loving it??  I will say that Levi has an older brother who interests me and I’d be happy to read his story should Karla write it.  Overall, if you’re a die hard Penny fan, this will likely interest you.  Since I haven’t read Karla before, I can’t speak to how it compares with her norm.

About Karla Sorensen:

Karla Sorensen has been an avid reader her entire life, preferring stories with a happily-ever-after over just about any other kind. And considering she has an entire line item in her budget for books, she realized it might just be cheaper to write her own stories. It doesn’t take much to keep her happy…a book, a really big glass of wine, and at least thirty minutes of complete silence every day. She still keeps her toes in the world of health care marketing, where she made her living pre-babies. Now she stays home, writing and mommy-ing full time (this translates to almost every day being a ‘pajama day’ at the Sorensen household…don’t judge). She lives in West Michigan with her husband, two exceptionally adorable sons and big, shaggy rescue dog.

Connect with Karla

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BLOG TOUR, GIVEAWAY, AND REVIEW – Beard With Me by Penny Reid

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“This is Penny Reid at her finest.” — L.B. Dunbar, author

Beard With Me, an epic and breathtaking story from New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!

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No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarlet’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, she’d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.

Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart . . . except when it comes to Billy Winston.

No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstances—because nothing is beyond his control—is Billy’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, he’d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.

Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable . . . except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire.

‘Beard With Me’ is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.

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Enter the giveaway for a signed paperback set of The Winston Brothers Series!

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Excerpt:

*Scarlet*

“Do you want me to leave?”

Yes. That would be best, a wise voice said between my ears.

So of course I inhaled deeply and said as calmly as I could manage, “I thought we were going to go get firewood.”

“Okay. Good.”

“But then,” I blurted, flustered and irritated with myself for not speaking wisdom, “You should go. You can’t tell me carting firewood back and forth between your house and here is how you want to spend the last of your Thanksgiving weekend.”

“I didn’t say it was.” He began making his way up the incline.

“But you just said—”

“How about we make a deal.” Billy dropped the kindling next to my little woodpile, dusting his hands off on his pants. “I’ll cart the firewood, and you sing.”

“You want me to serenade you while we carry firewood?”

He smiled, slow and easy as he walked to me and reached out his hand. On autopilot, I accepted it and allowed him to help me up.

As soon as I was standing, his gaze moved from my hairline down to my nose, lips, and then chin, saying quietly, “I’ll take a serenade from you anytime.”

Thunk ka-thunk. That was my heart. It had been doing the thunk ka-thunk quite a lot around him. I ignored it, because what else could I do?

“And you’re not carrying the wood.” He tugged on my hand, pulling me out of my daze and past my tent.

“I will too carry wood.” Struggling to find my bearings, I stumbled after him. “I can carry logs just fine.”

“You’ll carry a log.” Billy fit his fingers between mine, pressing our palms together and grinning at me like he was waiting for me to argue and he couldn’t wait.

Snapping my mouth shut, I glared at him.

“Nothing to say?”

Maintaining my glare, I walked next to him. I wasn’t being led anywhere I didn’t wish to go. Not anymore. He wasn’t talking me into anything else.

“That’s an awfully mean look, Scarlet.” His grin grew, his brutally attractive eyes glowing happily as he peered down at me.

“Well, you deserve it. Always trying to tell me what I can and can’t do. I’m not arguing with you about this. I’m carrying as much wood as I want and you can take your stupid, chauvinistic opinions and shove them up your pretty-boy ass.”

Goodness. Where had that come from?

Billy’s steps faltered and his mouth fell open, his eyebrows rising high on his forehead. He stared at me, looking shocked as hell. And then in the next moment, he threw his head back and laughed. But he did not let go of me, instead bringing my knuckles to his chest as his deep, rumbly laughter filled the empty spaces between the trees, surrounding us.

Crushing me.

Yes. I was well and truly crushed as I could only watch Billy Winston laugh, desperately basking in the image of him so delighted and relaxed. I had the odd sense that his laughter also filled the empty spaces inside of me, the neglected, vacant rooms, and even a few places that felt brand-new, like he’d created them.

All that noble honesty he carried around like a boulder abruptly lifted, revealing him. Just him. Carefree and young and happy. Someone he might’ve been if his burdens hadn’t been so heavy, his responsibilities so broad.

It lasted only a minute, maybe two, maybe less, but I had the sense of being caught afterward. Billy’s laughter had receded, but he’d spun a web while I’d been staring at him, holding his hand.

His grin became smaller and he bit his bottom lip, his gaze dropped to my mouth. “You think I’m pretty?”

“You know you’re pretty,” I said, bizarrely out of breath, rattled, needing to anchor my focus to a tree beyond him and waging war against the heat climbing up my neck to my cheeks. Oddly, my eyes stung. I blinked.

His attention was still on me. I felt it, but I didn’t dare look at him. I couldn’t handle one of Billy Winston’s intense stares right now. He’d probably use my scattered wits to his advantage, talk me into something I shouldn’t want to do, and then I’d be kicking myself later.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, his voice deep with concern, all trace of his earlier humor gone.

I huffed, trying half-heartedly to steal my hand back from him. He didn’t let it go, instead taking my tugging as a signal to step closer, filling my vision.

“Scarlet—”

“Are you ever going to teach me how to play the guitar?” I closed my eyes.

He didn’t answer right away, and I felt him hesitate, his mind work before he muttered, “It’s only been a week.”

A quality to his voice made me think he wasn’t answering the question I’d asked, but rather he was reminding himself that it had only been a week since we’d struck the deal.

Was that only last week? Why does it feel like so much has changed?

Then he said, “Don’t be angry.”

“I’m not angry.” I was muddled, my head and heart hurt, I was incredibly confused, but I wasn’t angry.

The air shifted and I felt him move closer. A second later, the fingers of his free hand were at my ear, tucking my hair behind it, his fingertips lingering at my neck, sending wave after wave of goose bumps every which way. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t think. Every nerve in my body strained toward him and I didn’t understand it. What is happening?

“Have you ever been kissed, Scarlet?”

 

Whitney’s Five Star Review:

Beard with Me has been a controversial topic amongst Penny Reid fans for a while now. As the backstory for Billy and Claire/Scarlett’s romance, we KNOW things are gonna get ugly. This is NOT a romance novel. Sure, it has the wit and charm we associate with Penny but this book is not her typical romcom fare.

Personally, I don’t think this is a book to read unless you’ve been involved with the Winston series and are invested in the characters. Previous stories have hinted or downright told us some of the terrible things both Billy and Claire went through growing up. Beard with Me gives us all the details. Honestly, it’s really not surprising and some of the sadder things that happen (mostly violence of some kind) are not detailed. Yes, there are triggers but nothing that IMO is going turn a true fan away.

What I will recommend is this: 1. Read this book right before Bread Necessities so you can go straight into your HEA 2. Read this book and then do a Winston re-read so you remember that all the siblings turned out just fine and all they overcame

I adored the book. The glimpses of Cletus, the twins, Ashley and Roscoe were so dang cute. This wasn’t a good time for Jethro but we do get a little insight into what was going through his head while he was a Wraith prospect. We also get to know Ben. Ah, Ben. Another controversy amongst my book friends. I like Ben although many people don’t. He’s just a lot different from the Winstons and a bit selfish. Basically, he’s the total opposite of Billy in many ways. Not a bad thing, just different.

Just a reminder… this is not a love story. Billy and Scarlett are barely friends for part of the book and quickly grow to care for each other. The timespan for this book is really only a few weeks. And yes, the end is heartbreaking but there are so many beautiful moments that it’s totally work the book hangover. Billy is the most honorable, least selfish person and Scarlett has a truly amazing and positive outlook despite her awful childhood.

Whether you read this now or after Beard Necessities, please read it!

Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Connect with Penny:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PennyReidWriter/

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Twitter: @ReidRomance

Mailing List: http://pennyreid.ninja/newsletter/

www.pennyreid.ninja

Hollywood Prince by Natasha Madison ~ Sarah A’s Review

Behind the “lights, camera, action” of Hollywood lies a world of deception, love, and seduction. 

Are you ready for Hollywood Royalty?

Carter
A blonde, a brunette, a redhead…he can have his pick of them all on any given night and he knows it. They wait, hoping he looks up and gives them his signature smirk, choosing them over the others because that’s his game.

Except now he’s signed the contract of a lifetime, one with a pesky little clause that says his zipper must stay up and his playboy image has got to tamp down. It’ll be fine—a piece of cake, even—he can do this and he’s almost convinced himself of that … and then she walks in the room.

The new PR girl whom they’ve hired to change his image, she’s the star of all his dreams, but there’s one tiny little problem … she can’t stand him and all of his player ways.

He knows he only has thirty days to show her why they call him Hollywood’s Prince. He’s up for the challenge, so game on.

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
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This is a hard review for me to write, not because I didn’t like the story, quite the opposite. I loved Erin and Carter’s journey.  It’s the writing I have an issue with.  It’s taken me several books to come to the conclusion that Natasha Madison’s writing style doesn’t work for me; which is highly unfortunate because I love the stories once I wade through the extraneous stuff.

Erin and Carter’s relationship was adorable.  I really loved their meet-cute and all the incorrect assumptions they made about one another.  I also was obsessed with how easily they fell into a place of familiarity and comfort with each other.  There is something to be said for your soul recognizing its home and permitting you to open up all the most vulnerable places of you to that person.  That’s exactly what felt like was happening with Erin and Carter.  Their hearts recognized each other and after that, everything was out of their hands.

The connection between Erin and Carter seemed to develop very naturally.  They went from a tense professional relationship to a deep and steadfast friendship, that grew into a very intense and meaningful committed relationship.  The trust and camaraderie they’d established in the early days of their relationship gave them an incredibly solid foundation to build, and rebuild, their relationship on.  And, when they put that trust and respect through the wringer, it was that foundation that gave them a place to regroup and rise from the ashes.

My only wish for this book is in the writing, and I know it’s a me thing.  I found the descriptions tedious and overwrought.  There are several passages – mostly toward the beginning of the book – that feel clunky and in need of polishing.  Finally, I think there is too much emphasis on name branding throughout this entire series, and I found it distasteful.

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four-inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

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Order by Kindle Alexander ~ Sarah A’s Review

Assistant District Attorney Alec Pierce wants a future with the sexy, tough-talking biker who came to his rescue six months ago. But when evidence capable of destroying his future comes to light, Alec sets a plan in motion to keep the man he loves from a district attorney bent on vengeance.

Will Alec’s efforts pay off or will he destroy them both in the process?

As a Disciples of Havoc member, Keyes Dixon rides the line between society’s moral code and that of his brothers. He straddles two worlds… One owns him and the other seduces him with the promise of a future. But when a rush to judgment has him swerving to miss the roadblocks suddenly in his lane, he’ll have to choose between the club that demands his loyalty and the gorgeous assistant district attorney who deserves his commitment.

Can Keyes escape his circumstances to take a chance on a future he wants?

Six months into what started as a one-night stand, both men must navigate their developing feelings as they remain bound by differing oaths that threaten to drive them apart. Not only does their future hang in the balance of opposing forces, but an unexpected strike of the gavel could send them on a collision course neither is prepared for.

Will havoc continue to determine their lives or is their love strong enough to bring order?

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
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I rode the struggle bus HARD with this book.  I loved the first book in the series, Havoc, but had an exceedingly difficult time connecting with this one.  Admittedly, I’m not in the best headspace, but that hasn’t detracted from other books I’ve read recently, so it’s not just that.

I felt like the beginning dragged, badly, and was repetitive. I could only handle Key struggling with his relationship so many times before I was ready to throw in the towel.  And Alec, for as understanding as he was, and as much as he had gleaned about Keyes’ childhood from police reports, seemed to be too pushy for the delicate nature of Keyes’ situation.  When they were together, and neither of them was overthinking things, I thought their relationship was beautiful, there just seemed to be a lot of unnecessary and tedious strife.

Kindle Alexander’s books usually keep me captivated from moment one, and I can’t put them down, devouring every word like they’re oxygen.  However, I found myself skimming scenes and skipping ahead to get to the meat of the story with Order.  When the story was moving forward it was excellent; it felt like there was a lot of filler in this book, for me, though.  I wish some of the fat had been trimmed in favor of keeping the story engaging and forward moving.  When books start getting stagnant, I check out, and unfortunately, that is what happened with this book.

Order could have been quite an excellent story, but as published, it just felt overstuffed with extraneous material, which diluted the primary storyline and spoiled the reading experience for me.

**2 STARS

Keyes Dixon’s life is challenging enough as a full patch member of the Disciples of Havoc Motorcycle Club but being a gay biker leaves him traveling down one tough road. With an abusive past and his vow to the club cementing his future, he doesn’t believe in love and steers clear of commitment. But a midnight ride leads to a chance meeting with a sexy pretty-boy in a wicked hot sports car that has him going down quicker than a Harley on ice.

Cocky Assistant District Attorney Alec Pierce lives in the shadow of his politically connected family. A life of privilege doesn’t equal a life of love, a fact made obvious at every family gathering. Driven yet lonely, Alec yields to his family’s demands for his career path, hoping for the acceptance he craves. Until he meets a gorgeous biker who tips the scales in the favor of truth…and he can no longer live a lie.

Can two men from completely different worlds…and sides of the law…find common ground, or will all their desires only wreak Havoc?

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
Amazon

Best Selling Author Kindle Alexander is an innovative writer and a genre-crosser who writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and erotica in both the male/male and male/female genres. It’s always a surprise to see what’s coming next!

I live in the suburbs of Dallas where it’s true, the only thing bigger than an overactive imagination, maybe women’s hair!

Usually, I try for funny. Humor is a major part of my life – I love to laugh, and it seems to be the thing I do in most situations – regardless of the situation, but jokes are a tricky deal… I don’t want to offend anyone and jokes tend to offend. So instead I’m going to tell you about Kindle.

I tragically lost my sixteen-year-old daughter to a drunk driver. She had just been at home, it was early in the night and I heard the accident happen. I’ll never forget that moment. The sirens were immediate and something inside me just knew. I left my house, drove straight to the accident on nothing more than instinct. I got to be there when my little girl died – weirdly, I consider that a true gift from above. She didn’t have to be alone.

That time in my life was terrible. It’s everything you think it would be times about a billion. I love that kid. I loved being her mother and I loved watching her grow into this incredibly beautiful person, both inside and out. She was such a gift to me. To have it all ripped away so suddenly broke me.

Her name was Kindle. Honest to goodness – it was her name and she died a few weeks before Amazon released their brand new Kindle e-reader. She had no idea it was coming out and she would have finally gotten her name on something! Try finding a ruler with the name Kindle on it.. It never happened.

Through the course of that crippling event, I was lucky enough to begin to write with a dear friend in the fanfiction world of Facebook. She got me through those dark days with her unwavering support and friendship. There wasn’t a time she wasn’t there for me. Sometimes together and sometimes by myself, we built a world where Kindle lives and stands for peace, love, and harmony. It’s its own kind of support group. I know without question I wouldn’t be here today without her.

Find out more by visiting http://www.kindlealexander.com or email me at kindle@kindlealexander.com

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NEW RELEASE!! Heart of the Devil by Meghan March ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes the stunning conclusion to the Forge Trilogy. In this final volume, ruthless billionaire Jericho Forge faces his toughest challenge. To emerge victorious, he’ll have to give up the one thing he’s never offered a woman—his heart.

It started as a game. She was nothing but my pawn.

But I was quick to see the error in my ways, and now she is everything I never knew I needed.

The value of a woman like India Baptiste is beyond measure.

But the problem with being a man like me? I’ve already screwed this up, and there’s no guarantee India will take me on for one last bet.

I’ll do whatever I have to do. Drop to my knees and offer her the only thing I have left. The one thing that’s only ever been hers—the heart of the devil.

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I’ve been so invested in the Forge trilogy when this book hit my Kindle on release day; I devoured the entire thing before lunch.  It was a high-octane finish to an intense and tangled series.  Jericho and India both suffered greatly in this book and had myriad revelations to reconcile before they were able to find solid ground on which to rebuild their lives.

Heart of the Devil jumps right in where Luck of the Devil left off, while I’d remembered what had happened, I forgot the urgency of the situation and my heart was pounding by the end of the second page.  I could feel Indy’s panic as surely as it was my own.  Even while I was reading both perspectives and knew exactly what was going on, the starkness of her emotions overrode any security I had about Jericho throughout the entirety of the book

India and Jericho’s relationship was put to the test in Heart of the Devil, and it served to make both characters face the depths of their feelings.  I loved the vulnerability they finally showed one another, since they’d both shown themselves to be impenetrable to even those closest to them.  Each needed the strength of the other to finally release everything they’d pent up through their lives.  It was quite interesting to realize how shockingly similar, yet strikingly different their pasts were, it was quite the juxtaposition, and I loved every part of discovering what made Jericho and Indy who they were.

The action of Heart of the Devil was insane.  I was sure of the direction the book was headed and BAM! shocking reveal, time and again I was utterly taken aback by what seemed to be happening and what was actually happening.  The entire Forge trilogy was rife with red herrings, I finally quit speculating as to what was going to happen and just buckled myself in for the wild ride Ms. March took us on.

Heart of the Devil is the third and final book in Meghan March’s Forge trilogy.  This series is one story told in three volumes and must be read in its entirety.  Heart of the Devil is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by India and Jericho.

“You can put that man in a suit, but he’ll never be tame.”

One look at Jericho Forge and I knew the rumors were true. He was a predator, and he had set his sights on me.

I knew better than to bet more than I could afford to lose that night. I knew better than to bet myself. But desperation leads to bad decisions, and I thought there was no way I could lose.

I was wrong. 

Now I have no choice but to make a deal with the devil.

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New York Times bestselling author Meghan March continues the story of ruthless, calculating billionaire Jericho Forge in Luck of the Devil. 

My poker face has always been one of my greatest assets, along with my grit and determination. I was beholden to no one. Asked permission for nothing.

Then Jericho Forge took my life by storm.

I traded my freedom for something infinitely more precious, but I didn’t realize he was holding an unbeatable hand.

Now, all I have to do is survive the high-stakes game that is my life—with my heart intact.

But not falling in love with Forge? That will take the luck of the devil. 

Luck of the Devil is the second book of the Forge Trilogy, and should be read following Deal with the Devil. The Forge Trilogy concludes in Heart of the Devil.

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Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero.

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Meghan March is giving away a set of signed paperbacks for the complete Forge Trilogy.
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5,331 Miles by Willow Aster ~ Sarah A’s Review

We spent a lifetime chasing firefly dreams

Jaxson and I devised a life list when we were kids in Holmes Chapel. Just a few things on that list:

*Climb the Eiffel Tower.
*Visit every zoo in the world.
*Eat peanut butter every day.

But all the promises he made dissolved into dust, so when he comes around years later wanting to go live out our list, I want no part of it…or him. The universe seems to agree with me because everything we try is a disaster.

The heart though—it’s a tricky beast; I’m just not sure mine is strong enough to survive Jaxson one more time.

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5,331 Miles didn’t come together until the last minute, and because of that format, it was hard to know if I liked the characters – or could forgive them – until the book was almost complete.  The way Willow Aster contrasted her timelines and made the past and present weave together was interesting, often frustrating, but the only way to tell this story and make me still love both Mirabelle and Jaxson.

For a good portion of 5,331 Miles, I found Mirabelle (Mira, Bells) frustrating as all get out.  I didn’t understand why she was so angry with Jaxson or why, when he was doing everything he could to prove his love and devotion to her, she refused to forgive him.  When I finally knew all of the things he’d done to her, all the things she’d been through, it was hard to see how she could put it all in the past.  I was exceedingly happy she took the time she needed to heal and find herself before she made any rash decisions about her future.  I don’t think she – or the readers – had any idea how much pain she’d been carrying around until she had space and safety to sift through all that emotional baggage.

I loved Jaxson from the off, then, little by little, he got more and more infuriating to me.  He’d been an awful friend for a long time while Bells desperately needed unconditional love and support, and it was hard to reconcile that self-absorbed teenager with the kind and loving man we knew him to be in the present.  As much as I appreciated how hard he tried to prove he’d changed from that awful boy, I felt like Jaxson was attempting to erase the past rather than make amends for it and it was a little frustrating.  I wish he would have done more to show her he knew how wrong he was in those actions from their past.

5,331 Miles was a much deeper story than I had anticipated.  Even into the final chapters of the book, it didn’t occur to me all of the trauma Mirabelle had encountered in her short life.  When it was all laid out, my heart broke for her.  Jaxson had done wonders to prove his love to her, but she had to work on herself before she could even think about loving another person.  Though 5,331 Miles was chock-full of romantic gestures, the most beautiful part of the story was when Mira took the time to let herself heal.  This was a beautiful book, and I am quite happy to have read and experienced Mirabelle and Jaxson’s tumultuous love story.

It was there all the time,
A love so pure, and so alive,
Went to hell and still survived
5,331 Miles

I grab a sweater before the song has finished playing and rush out of my flat, Winston’s ears flapping as he runs next to me. I open the door to my building and Jaxson is there in the parking lot, leaning against a car.

He doesn’t smile when he sees me. He looks like a tragic figure, devastatingly handsome and stoic; he puts his hands in his pockets and watches me get closer and closer.

When I’ve almost reached him, the car next to him starts and I gasp. It’s my dad. He smirks and gives me a brisk wave before backing up, not waiting around to see what happens.

I stop when my feet bump into Jaxson’s. He reaches out and wipes a tear from my cheek.

“Jaxson.” It comes out as a sob, and I lean my head onto his chest.

His arms circle around me, making me instantly feel better. Home. One of his hands moves to my hair and he gives it a soft tug, forcing me to look up at him.

“I don’t care where we are. I just want to be where you are,” he says. “Do you believe me yet? And does it matter?”

Tears fall down both of my cheeks and his thumbs catch them. “It matters,” I tell him. “It means everything.”

“You say the word and I will move heaven and earth to be with you. Nothing will come between us.”

And this time, for maybe the first time since my tenth birthday, I believe him.

“I’m done running,” I say.

His mouth crashes into mine, claiming what I’ve held back from him for so long.  

“Come inside,” I whisper against his lips.

Willow Aster is the author of True Love Story, In the Fields, Maybe Maby, Fade to Red, and the upcoming release, Whore. Willow loves nothing more than writing the day away—anywhere will do. Her husband and two children graciously put up with her endless daydreaming and make fun of her for reading while cooking.

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Hollywood Princess by Natasha Madison ~ Sarah A’s Review

Behind the “lights, camera, action” of Hollywood lies a world of deception, love, and seduction.

Are you ready for Hollywood Royalty?

Kellie

An Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy, a Grammy—she has them all.
She’s the most sought-after woman in Hollywood.
Even if her rise to fame was a fluke, you can’t deny the camera loves her.
The problem is so does everyone else, and she’s about to leave on the biggest concert tour of her life. 
Headlining for the first time in five years.

Around the world in ninety days. Should be a piece of cake.
Until her new security detail walks in the room and she’s looking into the eyes of the only man who didn’t fall for her charm.

It’s only a matter of time till he falls for Hollywood’s Princess.

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I struggled with reading this book, and I’m struggling with writing a review for it too.  It wasn’t that I don’t love the love story; it was the rest of the book that fell flat to me.  There were several places where it felt like the plot had been going in one way, then the author decided to change direction and tried to force earlier details into the new narrative.  It made the experience of reading awkward.

I loved the glimpse of Kellie and Brian’s story we got in Hollywood Playboy and was so looking forward to this book.  Thankfully, their connection and relationship building was the high points of the novel, so I didn’t feel let down on it.  They were adorable together, and the care and affection they had for one another were evident from the beginning.  As much as I appreciated that things progressed slowly between them, I did some of the situations they were put in a little tedious and repetitive.

The suspense element of the book fell flat for me.  It often felt forgotten in favor of adding more scenes to cause tension between Brian and Kellie, which seemed a poor decision.  While I was able to figure out who the bad guy was pretty soon off, I felt like the payoff of how they figured out who was behind the stalking never happened.  Brian kept talking about how one element was going to be the key to discovering who was sending the items, but then we never found out why – or how – that item came into play.

If this book was just about Brian and Kellie, and their love story it would have been fantastic.  They were adorable together, and I believed in them.  When they were together and just being themselves, the story flowed nicely, and I felt completely invested in the book.  Kellie and Brian had terrific chemistry, and in a world as superficial as the one they lived in, it felt like it was built on something more substantial than their impossibly good looks.

At the beginning of chapter twenty-five, there is a considerable editing error.  I’m not sure what happened, I can only guess that a section got highlighted and deleted, but once sentence skips ahead to a completely different setting and situation.  There were also a handful of other editorial issues that need to be addressed.  I also found the name dropping, obsession with brand-names, and excessive descriptions of items tedious and unnecessary.

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four-inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

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The Saint by LP Lovell ~ Sarah A’s Review

Check out this gorgeous cover for The Saint by LP Lovell! Add it to your TBR today!

*Please note: This is not a romance. The Saint is a dark suspense.*

My life was simple; God, business and myself, in that order.

Then I met an angel, and everything changed.

Only an angel can save the damned.

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I’m having a hard time deciding how I feel about The Saint.  It was an intense and bizarre story.  For the most part, I was completely intrigued with every turn of events, but I felt unsettled, unsatisfied with the ending and that left me frustrated.  Honestly, if the current blurb had been the one I had read when I decided to read The Saint, I might have passed this one over.

The Saint is billed as a suspense, but I didn’t feel like it really lived up to that genre.  I never had the feeling that something ominous was looming on the horizon.  Never had any desire to try to figure out who was behind anything, because we knew who was behind everything, almost as soon as it happened.  The Saint felt like the first three-quarters of a dark romance, with none of the payoff of a satisfying conclusion.  To me, it felt like the book started as a romance, then the author wasn’t sure how to redeem the anti-hero, so she cut the ending short, called it a suspense novel, then hoped her loyal readers would take it at face value.  The Saint could have been a phenomenal story had Ms. Lovell clung to Saint’s ominous persona and fleshed out the relationship with him and Eden, all while he was keeping his secrets. It would have kept with the tenor of the story and given the reader some sense of closure regarding the story.

“You’re acting crazy…crazier than normal. Why would you employ Eden?”

“So we can watch her.” There’s no we about it. 

He snorts. “Two weeks ago you wanted me to kill her. Now you’re giving her a job. I see the way you look at her.”

Anger starts to bubble like lava, just waiting to spill over and destroy everything in its path. “And how is that?”

“Like she interests you. And nothing interests you aside from money.”

So he sees it. “My interest in her is money because she threatens it. Her brother threatens it.” The lies pour so easily from my lips with enough plausibility to fool my brother — he who knows me so well — the only one who would notice my attentions slipping.

“You aren’t focused.”

“I’m fine!” I instantly regret the slight loss of control, the snap in my voice because it proves an element of truth in his words. Pushing to my feet, I move to the bar and pour a half glass of whiskey before knocking back a full gulp and slamming the glass on the bar. I walk straight past him and yank the door open with a heavy groan of old hinges. I storm from the room, right into Eden. We collide, and she staggers back, dropping the tray of glasses in her hand. The crash can be heard over the music. 

She drops to her knees immediately, scrambling to pick up the glass. “I’m sorry,” she says, glancing up at me through long lashes. My cock twitches, my lungs shrink, and my pulse hammers out a staccato rhythm against my eardrums. She’s on her knees before me. Worshipping me, praying at my altar. The thought makes my cock painfully hard, and I can’t…think. A breath hisses through her lips, and she snatches her gaze away, lifting her hand. Blood pours from her finger, cascading down her hand so hypnotically. I drop to a crouch, grabbing her wrist and tugging her closer. The soft jazz music swells around us, and I know there’s a room full of people, but all I see is her…and her blood. So red, so vibrant. Our eyes meet, and I hold my breath, fighting the torrent of images flashing through my mind. Wings. Flames. Blood tears. Blood, blood, blood. Wings of crimson. An angel on her knees, a sacrificial offering. For me. To me. And she looks so good in blood, the crimson against that pristine, pale skin. No!

Shoving to my feet, I stagger away from her. “Clean that up,” I grunt before hurrying away. 

She tempts the very darkest parts of me to the surface. Which is precisely why she should be dead, a little voice pops up in my mind. It would be so easy, her existence washed from this planet and thus my mind, as bleach washes germs away. I would feel cleansed. Fixed. Right. But if an angel is the voice of your conscience, encouraging good, then this…craving must surely be the work of the devil. Burning, burning, burning. 

She tests me with her simple innocence and naivety, and how truly damned does that make me — that I should crave the destruction of something pure? She plays to my weaknesses, and that troubles me in ways I cannot fathom. This is what He wants, to watch me lose control, to watch me struggle for Him. 

I need to get out of this club. 

l’ve never run from anyone, but I’m fleeing from the monster she entices from deep inside me. I should never have offered her a job here. I keep walking, moving through the club and straight out of the front door, racing towards the salvation that I sorely need

I’m a priest, a messenger of God, a good man. At least that’s what I would have them all believe.

She’s a lost lamb, cast adrift from her flock and seeking shelter from the wolves snapping at her heels. She’s looking for salvation, protection, forgiveness for her sins. I’m not the man to give it to her. But for the first time in my life, I want to be.

Little does she know…

For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

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Lauren Lovell is an indie author from England. She suffers from a total lack of brain to mouth filter and is the friend you have to explain before you introduce her to anyone, and apologize for afterwards.
She’s a self-confessed shameless pervert, who may be suffering from slight peen envy. 

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NEW RELEASE!! Luck of the Devil by Meghan March ~ Sarah A’s Review

New York Times bestselling author Meghan March continues the story of ruthless, calculating billionaire Jericho Forge in Luck of the Devil. 

My poker face has always been one of my greatest assets, along with my grit and determination. I was beholden to no one. Asked permission for nothing.

Then Jericho Forge took my life by storm.

I traded my freedom for something infinitely more precious, but I didn’t realize he was holding an unbeatable hand.

Now, all I have to do is survive the high-stakes game that is my life—with my heart intact.

But not falling in love with Forge? That will take the luck of the devil. 

Luck of the Devil is the second book of the Forge Trilogy, and should be read following Deal with the Devil. The Forge Trilogy concludes in Heart of the Devil.

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Luck of the Devil was a great follow-up to Deal with the Devil.  Meghan March ramped-up the intensity of this book, ever so subtly, but with so much hinging on every decision it seemed every step, every choice, every breath the characters took could irrevocably destroy or reinforce the futures they were striving toward.  While I’ve loved each story I’ve read by Ms. March, the Forge trilogy is quickly becoming my favorite.

Throughout Deal with the Devil and for a good part of Luck of the Devil India and Jericho were building a house of cards that could so easily fall and destroy them both, with all the secrets and half-truths they’d been telling.  Once they both realized there was something powerful and rare growing between them, I was exceedingly happy to see them begin to open up, to share their lives and thoughts, to quit hiding behind their secrets.

Jericho and India are both forces to be reckoned with by themselves, once they decided to work together, they were completely unstoppable.  I have no doubt anyone who is working against either or both of them will rue the day they decided to make that choice.  The strength they both show to the world was only complemented by the vulnerability they were beginning to reveal to one another.  Their dynamic was so passionate and consuming; I can’t wait to see how their love story will play out in Heart of the Devil, because I’m sure it’s going to be quite a ride.

Luck of the Devil is the second book in Meghan March’s Forge trilogy.  These series is a continuous tale told in three parts and must be read in order.  There were a few guest appearances from characters in her other novels, but it is not necessary to have read those books to understand what is going on in this one.  Luck of the Devil is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by India and Jericho.

“You can put that man in a suit, but he’ll never be tame.”

One look at Jericho Forge and I knew the rumors were true. He was a predator, and he had set his sights on me.

I knew better than to bet more than I could afford to lose that night. I knew better than to bet myself. But desperation leads to bad decisions, and I thought there was no way I could lose.

I was wrong. 

Now I have no choice but to make a deal with the devil.

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Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero.

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One Tough Cowboy by Lora Leigh ~ Sarah A’s Review

First in a brand-new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh and Veronica Chadwick about one man’s pursuit of justice—and unbridled desire.

LAW AND ORDER. 
For as long as Samantha can remember, Hunter—a man as strong as steel, with a heart of gold—has been her hero. It came as no surprise to Samantha when she found out that the ranch-hardened cowboy who always protected her from bullies went on to become the town’s sheriff. What does surprise her is how incredibly hot he still is. And how much she still wants him…

PRIDE AND PASSION
And, lo and behold, Hunter still has feelings for Samantha. The long-smoldering heat of their innocent flirtation has grown into a full-raging fire. But when tragedy strikes, and their small-town community is shattered, Hunter vows to do everything he can to keep his childhood sweetheart safe. But can Samantha trust that Hunter has her best interests at heart…and that, after all these years, his love is true?

I’m going to keep this short since this book didn’t work for me in the big picture. There were some things I liked; I thought the suspense storyline was fascinating, and I wanted to know what happened enough to stick with the book even while I wasn’t buying into much else.

My biggest issue with One Tough Cowboy was the excessive and repetitive sex scenes. They got so redundant that I started skimming them for anything important that may have been moving Samantha and Hunter’s relationship forward, to no avail. It seemed, to me at least, that the author was far too focused on their sexual relationship and forgot to develop their emotional relationship in any way. They couldn’t be in a room together without being all over one another, to the detriment of letting the reader know why they cared for one another beyond have sex.

Secondly, for a traditionally published book, I found the editorial issues in this book to be glaring – even to my untrained eye. There was a lot of who/that confusion, various typos and misused words, and there was one point where an entire sentence was repeated. I was less than impressed with all of it.

On the plus side, the investigation and implications of it were riveting. I needed to finish the book, even if it didn’t work as a romance for me, so I could find out what was happening in Hunter’s county. I would have loved to see the end be a little more fleshed out – it felt awfully rushed and unrealistic in regards to what Samantha had experienced – and have a little more closure, since I’m not sure I can handle continuing this series, but I did understand that storyline was left a little open-ended since One Tough Cowboy is the beginning of a series.

Lora Leigh lives in the rolling hills of Kentucky, often found absorbing the ambience of this peaceful setting. She dreams in bright, vivid images of the characters intent on taking over her writing life, and fights a constant battle to put them on the hard drive of her computer before they can disappear as fast as they appeared. Lora’s family, and her writing life co-exist, if not in harmony, in relative peace with each other. Surrounded by a menagerie of pets, friends, and a teenage son who keeps her quick wit engaged, Lora’s life is filled with joys, aided by her fans whose hearts remind her daily why she writes.