Dirty Little Promise by Kendall Ryan ~ Sarah A’s Review

DIRTY LITTLE PROMISE

Forbidden Desires Book 2

Conflicted in the depth of her feelings for bad boy Gavin Kingsley, lonely librarian Emma Bell knows he’s all wrong for her—yet the heart wants what it wants.

But if she gives into his dark, erotic desires will she lose herself completely?

Passion, drama and suspense combine in the highly-anticipated conclusion to Emma Bell’s love affair with the alpha and enigmatic Kingsley brothers. Secrets will be exposed, sides will be chosen, and nothing will ever be the same.

This is book two in the series, following Dirty Little Secret.

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After I finished Dirty Little Secret, I was DYING to get my hands on this book.  I had to know what happened to Emma, Cooper, & Gavin.  Kendall Ryan did not disappoint with Dirty Little Promise.  I left the book feeling content and fulfilled, yet still eager to find out about the next brother in Torrid Little Affair.

Dirty Little Secret left us with far more questions than answers, it was a great cliffhanger and had left me both satisfied with the story I had read and begging for more.  Dirty Little Promise did not disappoint in fleshing out all of those secrets and questions that were left in the air.  At least, regarding the primary Kingsley brother in this book.  The other brothers are still full of secrets, and I have so many questions about them.

I loved how easily Emma and the brother of her choosing were able to open up to one another.  How, once they decided to not keep secrets from one another and lay it all on the line, they easily trusted one another and didn’t let misleading situations to destroy the trust they had built.  There were times when it would have been far easier to jump to the easiest – and worst – conclusion but the strength of their relationship was in allowing each other the chance to explain everything.  Too often in romance books jumping to conclusions lends to heartbreak and pain, when a simple explanation would clear everything up.  It was nice to see this trope bucked in favor of a loving and trusting relationship.

A lot was happening in this book.  At times it seemed a concerted effort was orchestrated to keep Emma and her Kingsley brother from being together.  Each time it looked like things were calming down for them another thing popped up, the amount of action in this book served well to keep me on my toes and turning those pages as fast as I could.  Since the relationship was figured out and settled relatively quickly, it was all those forces against it that served to really cement their love.  How they dealt with those awful things showed how much they truly belonged together.  I also appreciated neither Emma or the brother in question let other people’s opinions of their relationship taint what they knew was right.  It was a breath of fresh air to see two people so confident in their love.

My only wish for this book would be that the resolutions to the conflicts would have been more fleshed out.  I like to really dig in deep on those types of things, and I felt like the solutions to the problem vexing their relationship were just wrapped up too quickly for my preferences.  It wasn’t that they weren’t wrapped up well, just that I would have loved to see more of the intricacies of the motivations of people behind the problems.

Kendall Ryan’s writing was perfect for this story.  It was a perfect balance between showing the love and affection the couple had for one another and the outside forces working for and against them.  There was a roughness to the Kingsley brother’s chapters and a confident softness to Emma’s.  Ms. Ryan also left enough breadcrumbs about the other brothers throughout the book to make me need to know their stories, to make me want to see them find their happiness.

DIRTY LITTLE SECRET
Forbidden Desires Book 1

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TORRID LITTLE AFFAIR
Forbidden Desires book
 3
December 11, 2017

iBooks

TEMPTING LITTLE TEASE
Forbidden Desires book
 4
RELEASE DATE: March 19, 2018

iBooks

NAUGHTY LITTLE SCANDAL
Forbidden Desires book
 5
RELEASE DATE: May 11, 2018

iBooks

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

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Dirty Little Secret by Kendall Ryan ~ Sarah A’s Review

The start to a sexy new series from New York Times bestselling author, Kendall Ryan…

She’s much too innocent for me, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting the sweet, young librarian. I’m dominating and possessive, and my control streak runs a mile wide.

The way she looks at me—like I’m one of the heroes in the books she loves, like I’m broken, and she wants to be the one to piece me back together—it only complicates things further. I’m nobody’s hero.

But there’s no denying my tragic past reads like one of her favorite literary classics. It’s raw. Visceral. Captivating. And together, we’re a perfect mess.

How am I expected to resist when the sexual sparks zap between us and set me on fire? The need to control, and claim her force my walls to come tumbling down, but when she learns my dirty little secret, will my world come crashing down with it?

The story continues in Dirty Little Promise, releasing October 9th.

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Holy wow!  I literally just finished reading this and my heart is still in my throat.  It was wholly engrossing and – gah! – the way it made me physically react to what was going on…
Bravo, Kendall Ryan. Bravo.  I will be waiting on tenterhooks for the next book to come out.

The writing in this book was phenomenal.  It drew me in so completely I barely noticed the passage of time, I was so fully invested in finding out what was going to happen to Emma, Gavin, & Cooper.  I’m amazed at how physically reactive this book made me.  It’s one thing to have a pulse pounding breath-taking reaction in a novel packed with action, it’s completely different to have those reactions pulled from you based purely on emotional reactions.  It was wonderful and amazing.

While parts of this book were fairly common, maybe even reminiscent of several other books I’ve read, the way that it was done, the extra dynamic thrown in was new and brought an interesting twist to something that could have easily felt over-done.  That little twist is what won me over.  I have a feeling that twist is going to break my heart when all is said and done.

This was definitely a character driven story, but I still feel like a lot of what is making each of them tick is a secret.  I love them all, but I don’t know them as thoroughly as I need to.  It’s a fantastic bit of writing to do that, to make me care so much while still leaving me with so many questions about what is driving each player.  Except, perhaps, Emma, she feels very transparent.  Either she is exceptionally good at hiding her secrets or she is one of those people who can’t help but expose her entire self to the people she cares for and hopes they don’t use it against her.  I’m guessing it’s the latter.  The brothers are all so different, so interesting, and I have a feeling even after this entire series is complete there will still be an air of secrecy surrounding them.

Dirty Little Secret had perfectly set up the next book in this story.  There is so much more to learn, so many things left unfinished, but the way it ended was oddly satisfying, for me.  Had it ended any earlier or even a scene later I may have been frustrated.  As it was left I’m eagerly anticipating Dirty Little Promises but not frustrated with getting an incomplete book.  This, my friends, is how you end a book that is part of an ongoing story.

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

Visit her at: www.kendallryanbooks.com for the latest book news, and fun extras

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We Own Tonight by Corinne Michaels ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times Bestseller, Corinne Michaels, comes a sexy new STANDALONE romance novel.

I’m not a one-night stand kind of woman. I’m especially not the woman who has a few drinks at a concert and ends up in bed with my childhood celebrity crush, Eli Walsh.

However, that’s exactly where I find myself.

What’s a girl to do after a drunken mistake? Run. I grab my clothes and get away from the powerful, irresistible, and best-sex-of-my-life superstar as fast as I can. His gorgeous green eyes, rock-hard body, and cocky smile have no place in my world. My life is complicated enough.

Someone forgot to tell him that.

Eli is relentless. Pushing his way into my heart, wearing me down, proving he’s nothing like I assumed, and everything I need. But when my world shatters to pieces, he holds the broken bits together. Unwillingly, I fall desperately in love with him.

He made me think we’d have forever . . . I should’ve listened when he said we could only own tonight.

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Man, I love Corinne Michaels’ take on light and fluffy rom-coms.  I could totally get on board with the genre if they were all like We Own Tonight.  In all seriousness though, this is not a rom-com, and I am so happy about that.  I love the emotion Ms. Michaels writes with and I was a little bit scared (and sad, if I’m being completely honest) when I heard – long before publication – this was going to be a rom-com; I was afraid it would lack that emotional gut-punch I’ve come to expect when I’m reading a Corinne Michaels book.

The characterizations in this book are en pointe.  Particularly Heather and her friends, everyone has the ‘mom’ friend, the ‘crazy one’ friend, and the ‘follower’ friend.  It was easy to put yourself right into that aspect of Heather’s life.  That was just the beginning of how amazingly relatable each character was in We Own Tonight.  Even those characters I was sure would seem untouchable, Eli and Randy, were so much more normal and down to earth than I expected.

We Own Tonight was written in dual perspective, Heather and Eli.  Each had their own distinct voice in their chapters.  Heather’s chapters were tinted with uncertainty and suspicion that was perfectly in line with who she was throughout the novel, while Eli’s chapters projected a confidence that could only be honed through years of living a life where being sure of yourself was required.

This book was perfectly paced, with wonderful moments of levity breaking up what could have easily been a completely devastating sobfest.  It was still incredibly emotional and tore through my heart like a tornado, but those lighter moments gave me time to recover so I wasn’t decimated by the end of Heather and Eli’s story.

Every time I read a Corinne Michaels book I’m sure she can’t possibly out do what she’s already done and she consistently proves that theory wrong.  While We Own Tonight is completely different from both her Salvation series and her Hennington bros. series it is quintessentially a Corinne Michaels book.  Her writing is consistently packed with extreme emotional content and unique in the elements that draw out those emotions.  I love that she always threads her novels with losses, whether big or small, because it’s something we all experience and can relate to in a visceral way.

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Corinne Michaels is the author of nine romance novels. She’s an emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun loving mom of two beautiful children. Corinne is happily married to the man of her dreams and is a former Navy wife.

After spending months away from her husband while he was deployed, reading and writing was her escape from the loneliness. She enjoys putting her characters through intense heartbreak and finding a way to heal them through their struggles. Her stories are chock full of emotion, humor, and unrelenting love.

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Love Another Day by Lexi Blake ~ Sarah A’s Review

A man born to protect

After a major loss, Brody Carter found a home with the London office of McKay-Taggart. A former soldier, he believes his job is to take the bullets and follow orders. He’s happy to take on the job of protecting Dr. Stephanie Gibson while the team uses her clinic in Sierra Leone to bring down an international criminal. What he never expected was that the young doctor would prove to be the woman of his dreams. She’s beautiful, smart, and reckless. Over and over he watches her risk her life to save others. One night of pure passion leads him to realize that he can’t risk his heart again. When the mission ends, Brody walks away, unwilling to lose another person he loves.

A woman driven to heal

Stephanie’s tragic past taught her to live for today. Everything she’s done in the last fifteen years has been to make up for her mistakes. Offering medical care in war-torn regions gives her the purpose she needs to carry on. When she meets her gorgeous Aussie protector, she knows she’s in too deep, but nothing can stop her from falling head over heels in love. But after one amazing night together, Brody walks away and never looks back. Stephanie is left behind…but not alone.

A secret that will change both their lives

A year later, Stephanie runs afoul of an evil mercenary who vows to kill her for failing to save his son. She runs to the only people she trusts, Liam and Avery O’Donnell. She hasn’t come alone and her secret will bring her former lover across the world to protect her. From Liberia to Dallas to Australia’s outback, Brody will do whatever it takes to protect Stephanie from the man who wants to kill her, but it might be her own personal demons that could destroy them both.

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This is the first book I’ve read by Lexi Blake.  This is book 14 in her Masters and Mercenaries series, these are truly interconnected stand-alones, as I feel like the story I read was complete.  I did have tons of questions about the other people in the book and I’m sure that having their stories would have enriched this story for me but it didn’t take anything away from it.  Love Another Day drew me in so much that I’ll definitely be adding all of the others to my TBR so I can be completely ensconced in this world by the time the next book is released.

While I truly enjoyed the plot of this novel, it was a little heavy on the sex, for me.  I know most other romance readers love that aspect but I can always do without it.  The good thing about the sex in this novel was that it always seemed to be moving Steph and Brody forward as a couple.  Those are the only kinds of sex scenes that I appreciate in a book.  The fact that the book wasn’t full of gratuitous sex made up for the amount, as far as I’m concerned.

Love Another Day was an intriguing and engrossing story.  The unknowns as far as Brody and Steph’s relationship, as well as the threat against Steph’s life, kept me from putting the book down for any longer than I absolutely had to.  I needed to know what was going to happen next.  I loved the way Ms. Blake gave just enough information to keep me interested without revealing so much that the mystery of the book was lost.  I appreciated the little glimpses of each of their pasts, but truly wish they both would have been more fully explored.  I think a good chunk of Steph’s story was probably explored in a previous novel, but I assume the fallout from that event wasn’t included there either.  The story wasn’t lacking, I just feel fleshing out those back stories would have made the experience of the novel more robust.

Brody was, by far, my favorite of the two main characters.  While at the beginning he was a bit of a dick, his reasoning for doing what he did was more fleshed out; therefore, it was far easier to understand.  Steph’s motivations, for most of the book, seemed rooted in her past.  While the major instigating event was explained there seemed to be a lot of pain and damage she had been through that was never fully explained.  I think having that information would have made her both more likable and understandable.

Lexi Blake’s Masters and Mercenaries world was rich and complex.  The interwoven nature of her characters made me want to know more, learn more about this reality she’s created.  It takes a talented hand to write a book that can be easily understood without prior knowledge of the series while adding enough information about the previously constructed relationships to make a reader want to delve into in wholeheartedly; Ms. Blake did this well and I commend her talent and commitment to her craft because of that.

The door slammed and she suddenly found herself with her back against it. Brody crowded in, taking up all the space and staring down at her. His body brushed hers and she found both her wrists captured in one of his. He dragged them over her head, forcing her chest to come out, breasts skimming along his body. “I shouldn’t do this.”

Tough chick was winning. Steph let her take over. It was surely better than the desperate girl who lived inside her. She kept asking for love and affection and getting swatted away. This was the next best thing, possibly the only thing she would ever get. “Then don’t. Let me go and I won’t bother you again.”

“No, you’ll go find Ezra Fain and bother him,” Brody said on a growl.

“Somehow, I don’t think he’ll find me a bother.” She’d barely spoken two words to the man, but she wasn’t going to admit it. It was better to let Brody think she wasn’t a love-starved girl.

“He won’t fucking find you anything at all. If you’re determined to not sleep alone tonight, you can damn well do it with me.” His mouth came down on hers and every inch of her skin came alive. His kiss was overwhelming, hungry. There was no slow meshing of mouths. He took her, his tongue surging inside and dominating her own. He let go of her hands and started to explore her body. His hands were on her hips when he came up for air. “I’m leaving in the morning. I’m going back to London and I can’t come back.”

She’d known that would probably be his answer. She’d known he wouldn’t want to stay and she couldn’t leave.

“One night. That’s all I want.” It was all she could have. It had been foolish to think it could be any different.

His mouth came down on hers again and she let herself get swept away. One night and her life would go back to normal. One night and then she would be alone again. His hands started to roam over her and she tried to forget all the reasons why this was a bad idea.

He stepped back, his entire body set in hard lines. He strode over to the bed and sat down. “Take off the gown. It’s pretty, but I want to see you.”

She hesitated, all her insecurities coming to the forefront. Somehow, she’d thought he would simply take her. “Let me get the lights.”

He was back in her space again, his hand wrapping around her wrist. “I didn’t say turn off the lights. I said take off the gown. How am I going to see you if you turn off the lights?”

“Brody,” she began.

He was having none of it. “You got on your knees in front of me and you said you knew what you were offering me. The first thing you were offering me was obedience. The second was your body. You’re giving me neither right now.”

His voice had gone midnight dark and something about the tone made her soften. He was right. She did know what she’d offered him and now she was trying to have it all her way.

There was nothing wrong with her body. It was feminine and she was healthy. What was she afraid of? “All right.”

He let go of her wrist and sat back down, looking like a damn king waiting on his concubine’s performance. For all his “I’m nothing but a grunt” talk, the man could be incredibly arrogant, and damn if she didn’t find it sexy as hell.

Something about that voice let her know that everything was going to be fine. He was past the point of rejection. He was in and that meant he would play her Dom for the night. He would take care of her. She was as safe with him in the bedroom as she’d been in the field.

At least she was safe for the night. In the morning she would be in a world of hurt, but she wasn’t thinking past tonight.

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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REVIEW – Wish You Were Here by Renee Carlino

 

You know when you’re looking at someone and you can’t help but smile at how oblivious they are to their own charm? That’s what was happening to me, and it was making me feel…happy. Euphoric. Something indescribable. It was like we already knew each other, like we had met in a previous life. Memories that didn’t exist began exploding in my mind like fireworks.

Charlotte has spent her twenties adrift, searching for a spark to jump-start her life and give her a sense of purpose. She’s had as many jobs as she’s had bad relationships, and now she’s feeling especially lost in her less-than-glamorous gig at a pie-and-fry joint in Los Angeles, where the uniforms are bad and the tips are even worse.

Then she collides—literally—with Adam, an intriguing, handsome, and mysterious painter. Their serendipitous meeting on the street turns into a whirlwind one-night stand that has Charlotte feeling enchanted by Adam’s spontaneity and joy for life. There’s promise in both his words and actions, but in the harsh light of morning, Adam’s tune changes, leaving Charlotte to wonder if her notorious bad luck with men is really just her own bad judgment.

Months later, a new relationship with Seth, a charming baseball player, is turning into something more meaningful, but Charlotte’s still having trouble moving past her one enthralling night with Adam. Why? When she searches for answers, she finds the situation with Adam is far more complicated than she ever imagined. Faced with the decision to write a new story with Seth or finish the one started with Adam, Charlotte embarks on a life-altering journey, one that takes her across the world and back again, bringing a lifetime’s worth of pain, joy, and wisdom.

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Excerpt

“You’re making love sound tragic,” I said.

“No”—he shook his head—“I wouldn’t want it any other way. Tell me about us. What do we like to do?”

“Paint and sail and eat and drink. Just simple things.” “Don’t forget about sex,” he said.
“Yeah, lots of sex. Before the children were born we

“We were practically naked every second of the day.”

“I like that.”

“When they got older, we’d sneak away for weekends and leave them at my mom’s.”

“What are they like? Our children.”

“Happy. That’s all we wished for. We put our love first and it just spilled over into them and now they’re happy.”

Tears sprang from my eyes and ran down my cheeks. Isn’t that what we all hope for when it comes to our children?

His tone suddenly changed. “That’s beautiful, Char- lotte.” It was like he was waking up from the dream. I didn’t want to go back to reality yet, but I knew these fantasies were just to help Adam get his mind off things.

“I can imagine a long life with you,” he said. “I can imagine what a great wife you’d be.”

I pulled my hand out of his. “The story is about you and me.” He didn’t say anything; he just nodded and then continued to stare out the window. I bent and kissed the top of his head again, and whispered, “It’s about us. Don’t take that away from me.”

 

Whitney’s Six Star Review

I have a lot of wishes related to this story…

I wish the book hadn’t ended.
I wish I had my own Adam.
I wish I had my own Seth.
I wish Renee was a super human and could publish a book every month so I never had to wait for her magic again!

Charlotte’s story with Adam and Seth is beautiful, heart breaking and life affirming. Renee’s books have always held a bit of magic for me. The way she develops her characters, the slow burn you feel as the story come together, the inevitable angst, and of course, a happily ever after. I haven’t decided yet if Wish You Were Here will replace Sweet Thing as my favorite of hers yet. Guess I’ll have to re-read them both and then figure it out. Oh darn, another Renee re-read. Someone save me. Hopefully you can see my eyes rolling and feel the sarcasm there because seriously, we all know Renee’s books are better the second time around!

If you’ve read and enjoyed any of her books before, you will love this one too. It’s contemporary and though the blurb implies a love triangle, it’s really not. Charlotte’s journey with both of the wonderful men in this book make sense once you get to the end. You’ll just have to cry a little to get there. Or a lot in my case since I woke my husband up at 1am while crying about this book. Whoopsie!

It’s hard to express the things I most enjoyed without giving the storyline away but I will say that I was conflicted a few times regarding Seth and Adam. I was even a little conflicted on the storyline and where it was going. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, it just made me feel so many emotions that I went back and forth. I think for those that believe in Fate or that there is a reason for life turning out the way it does, this book will speak to you. When I reached the end of the story, every tear I cried and every chuckle was worth it and made sense. Charlotte goes on the journey she’s meant to, as do Adam and Seth. The connections between them all were meant to be and that really gave me a true sense of happily ever after.

Thank you, Renee, for another fabulous book! I can’t wait until the next one.

 

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

 

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Perilous Trust by Barbara Freethy ~ Sarah A’s Review

In PERILOUS TRUST, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy brings you the first book in a new romantic suspense series! OFF THE GRID: An FBI Trilogy offers three breath-stealing books filled with action-packed plot, heart-stopping romance, and page-turning suspense.

It was one dark night that brought Damon Wolfe and Sophie Parker together. They were two tortured souls, looking for escape, and they weren’t supposed to see each other ever again…

Four years later, Sophie’s FBI father, who is also Damon’s mentor, is killed in a suspicious car crash after leaving Sophie a cryptic message to trust no one from the agency. When Damon shows up looking for her, she isn’t sure if he’s friend or enemy, but she knows he could easily rip apart what is left of her heart.

The last thing Damon wants is to get involved with Sophie again. It was hard enough to walk away the first time. But she’s in trouble, her father’s reputation is under attack, and the lives of his fellow agents are at stake if there’s a traitor in their midst.

When someone starts shooting at them, they have no choice but to go on the run and off the grid. Everyone in their world becomes a suspect. They want to uncover the truth, but will it turn out to be the last thing they expect? Proving her father’s innocence might just cost them their hearts…and their lives…

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This was a great suspense novel.  If I were to give percentages on what made this book up it would be 90% suspense, 10% romance and the romance could have easily been left out and not made too much of a difference to the novel as a whole.  In fact, there were times when I felt like the romance should have been left out in favor of everything else going on.

I did enjoy the chemistry between Sophie and Damon, while they were working together, trying to figure out their next step in staying safe, it was the moments that were just about their relationship that were lacking.  They felt strange and forced, and, honestly, it seemed as if the author wasn’t completely comfortable writing about a relationship with no other outside forces affecting it.  Ms. Freethy was much more in touch with her characters when they were dealing with traumatic situations than she was when they were safe.

The suspense in this novel was definitely the thing that kept me reading.  While I was able to figure out most of twists and turns, the motives behind what was going on were lost on me until the very end.  It was obvious that Ms. Freethy’s talents lay far more in the realm of secrets, lies, and action than in romance.  Her suspense writing in this book will keep me coming back for the rest of the books in this trilogy.

Had I not gone into Perilous Trust expecting the type of romantic suspense I’m used to reading – relatively equal parts romance and suspense – I would likely have rated it higher.  My rating of this novel was primarily based on my preconceived notions and, had I not gone into it with them, I probably would have enjoyed the book much more for what it was than been let down by what I felt was missing.

“Why did you run away from your apartment, your friends, your father’s coworkers? Why did you just disappear, Sophie?” Damon asked.

“Because someone killed my dad.”

“It’s possible it was an accident.”

“You don’t believe that any more than I do.”

“Maybe not, but I think something specific spooked you.”

“You mean like the two men I saw going into my apartment building?”

“You saw the men who broke into your apartment?” he asked in surprise.

“I don’t know if they were the ones, but they could have been.”

“What did they look like?”

“Law enforcement, maybe—I don’t know.”

Damon stared back at her, and she could see him running through her words in his head. “Why would you be afraid of law enforcement when your father is FBI?”

“Gut instinct,” she lied, knowing she wouldn’t have been afraid at all if her father hadn’t told her to be. “And it looks like I was right to run. If I’d gone to my apartment, who knows what would have happened?”

His lips drew into a hard line. “Look, Sophie, I want to help you.”

“Why? Why on earth would you want to help me?”

His gaze darkened, and the air sizzled between them as they found themselves back in a place probably neither of them wanted to revisit, but they were there all the same.

“We’re not friends,” she said quickly, needing to break the tension. “We’re not anything. We haven’t seen each other in four years. Why do you care where I am, what I’m doing? Is it because of loyalty to my dad? That has to be it, right? Nothing else could have made you drive all the way up here.”

“I should have called you after that night,” he said.

“I’m not looking for an apology.”

“Aren’t you?”

“No. Maybe. No,” she said, hating to sound so uncertain. “None of that is important now. I have bigger problems.”

“Then let’s talk about now,” he said, relief in his eyes as he changed the subject. “I respected your father. He was a mentor to me. I owe him for that, and I know that he would want me to help you. He trusted me, and I hope you can trust me, too.”

“I don’t know if my father trusted you,” she said, shaking her head.

Surprise and anger flared in his eyes. “Why would you say that?”

“Because he told me not to trust anyone from the bureau, and since you’re an agent, that includes you. Please, just go. Just leave me alone,” she pleaded, desperate to get him out of the cabin before she did something even more stupid—like start to trust him. “I’ll disappear. I’ll go somewhere no one else knows about. You don’t have to worry about me. You’ve done your duty. You came after me. You did that for my dad. Now do something for me—leave me alone. You’ve managed it for four years. You can keep going.”

His mouth tightened. “I’m not leaving you alone. You won’t be safe. You can’t get help from a friend, because you’ll put them in danger, and even if you are very careful, you’ll make a mistake. You don’t know how to stay off the radar, but I do. You’re going to have to trust someone at some point. You’re going to have to put your anger aside and let it be me.”

Before she could answer, she was suddenly hit with a shower of glass from the nearby window.

What the hell had just happened?

Another pane blew out, and something whizzed by her ear.

Damon grabbed her arm and pulled down as a third window exploded.

Someone was shooting at her!

 

Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of 60 novels ranging from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Traditionally published for many years, Barbara opened Fog City Publishing in 2011 and has since sold over 7 million books! Twenty-three of her titles have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists, including one title, SUMMER SECRETS, which hit #1 on the NYT. In 2014 Barbara was named the Amazon KDP Bestselling Author of all time! She was also the first Indie writer to sell over a million books on Barnes and Noble.

Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, romance and suspense, Barbara is a six-time finalist and two-time winner in the Romance Writers of America acclaimed RITA contest for her novels DANIEL’S GIFT and THE WAY BACK HOME.

For more information, visit her website at www.barbarafreethy.com

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The Brightest Sunset by Aly Martinez ~ Sarah A’s Review

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.

Bullshit.

Words destroyed me.

“I’m sorry. She didn’t make it.”

“Daddy, he can’t breathe!”

“There’s nothing more we can do for your son.”

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.

Lies.

Those syllables and letters became my executioner. I told myself that, if I didn’t acknowledge the pain and the fear, they would have no power over me. But, as the years passed, the hate and the anger left behind began to control me.

Two words—that was all it took to plunge my life into darkness.

“He’s gone.”

In the end, it was four soft, silky words that gave me hope of another sunrise.

“Hi. I’m Charlotte Mills.”

Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Screw Brady.  Seriously, that guy is a jerk.  I get that he was in pain, but there was no excuse for how inhumanely he treated everyone else involved with the horrific situation they’d all found themselves in at the hands of a severely mentally disturbed woman.  Whew. I feel better having got that off my chest.

The Brightest Sunset was the perfect counterpoint to The Darkest Sunrise.  While Sunrise was based primarily on the destruction of the lives of Charlotte and Porter, Sunset was about them rising from the ashes of the hellfire that had consumed them.  It was about them learning to step into the light while still allowing the darkness to exist as it needed to.  It was about healing and becoming whole people who deserved so much more than what they’d learned to live with.  It was the perfect way to end this story that was built on all the worst fears a parent can have.

I loved watching Charlotte come into her own in this book.  As strong and amazing as she was in The Darkest Sunrise, she was still only a shell of a person.  Seeing her stand up for herself and her family against the people who had guided every moment of her life, regardless of their intentions, for ten years, was marvelous.  Seeing Charlotte in the light was staggering.  Equally awe-inducing was watching the journey that Porter went on in tasting an iota of the pain Charlotte had feasted on for ten years, then fighting to get back the family they both deserved with reckless abandon.

I love this duet, I have often found that duets struggle to retain the intensity of the first book all the way through the second.  That was not the case with these books.  While the tenor of The Brightest Sunset changed and morphed into something softer around the edges than the jagged beauty of The Darkest Sunrise, it was equally impactful in its message.

The Darkest Sunrise (The Darkest Sunrise Duet, #1)
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Originally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her four young children.

Never one to take herself too seriously, she enjoys cheap wine, mystery leggings, and baked feta. It should be known, however, that she hates pizza and ice cream, almost as much as writing her bio in the third person.

She passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a super-sized tumbler of wine by her side.

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Trust by Kylie Scott ~ Sarah A’s Review

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen-year-old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.

While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

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Trust did not hit the mark, for me.  It wasn’t bad, far from it, but it was lacking the ‘it’ factor that makes me need to continue reading the story.  There were moments that were wonderful, but there were also a lot of things that just didn’t quite deliver.  The first few chapters of the book hooked me enough to read the entire thing, if it had started a scene or two later I may have written it off and missed some of those truly great moments.

One of my favorite things about this book was how both John and Edie reacted to living through a hostage situation that others didn’t live through.  It was lovely to see how severe trauma can affect two people in such different ways, while still having the same underlying desire.  Both simply wanted to live to their full potential, even if they took vastly different approaches to expressing that desire.

My greatest wish for this book would have been to have John’s POV for some of the chapters.  Since we only see what Edie observes it was hard for me to understand how their relationship evolved.  I could easily believe their friendship, but John’s apparent disinterest made it hard for me to understand how it developed into more than that without seeing what was going on in his head.  Maybe that was the point and I missed it, that we don’t always know what a person is thinking until they act on it.  Once they moved beyond the bounds of platonic friendship it was easy to see that he cared for her in that way, it was just his journey to that point that seemed to be missing.

Edie was pretty great, it was nice to see a girl who wasn’t the typical Barbie doll type as the heroine in a romance.  I loved seeing her stand up for herself and her friends against people who didn’t even deserve one second of her attention.  It was also nice to see her internal turmoil about the things she didn’t appreciate about herself, how she combatted those feelings, and slowly learned to love herself.  Her character arc was important and interesting.  Her growth made the book worth reading.

“You were going to give it up to Duncan Dickerson?” he sneered. “Are you serious?”

I halted, staring at him. This was not good. “How do you know about that?”

“Anders overheard you and Hang talking.”

“Bastard.”

“Well?” he demanded, acting all authoritarian. Idiot.

“To be fair, I didn’t know his last name was Dickerson,” I said. “That’s unfortunate. Though, I wasn’t actually planning on marrying him, so . . .”

“Not funny.”

I shrugged.

“You barely know the guy.”

“Um, yeah. None of your concern. We’re not talking about this.” How mortifying! My face burned bright. People should just gather around and cook s’mores. “I appreciate that we’re friends. You mean a lot to me. But this is going to have to fall under definitely none of your damn business, so go away please.”

“We’re talking about it.” He advanced a step.

“No we are not.” And I retreated.

“You were going to let a complete stranger touch you.” Advance.

Retreat. “People do it all the time. You do it all the time.”

“But you don’t,” he said, taking the final step, backing me up against the side of his car and getting all in my face. “Edie, this is your first time we’re talking about. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, and it’s going to be messy and painful and probably horribly embarrassing and I just want it over and done with.” I tried to meet his eyes but failed, settling for a spot on his right shoulder. “You’re not a girl; you wouldn’t understand. Also, last time I checked, you’re not the gatekeeper of my hymen, John Cole. So back the fuck off.”

He said nothing.

Deep, calming breaths. “Look, someday I’ll meet someone I really like and we’ll have a deep and meaningful relationship and go at it like bunnies. But I don’t want to be the dumb virgin in that scenario.”

He slowly shook his head.

“Also, I do not want to die a virgin.”

“What? What the hell are you talking about?”

“Hey, you and I both know death can occur at any time.”

“This is crazy.”

“I’m seeing a therapist!” I told his shoulder. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m a little bit messed up these days. It’s hard for me to trust people. That’s not going to change anytime soon.”

He screwed up his face at me. “Wha—”

“I’m just trying to be practical.”

“Well, you’re being ridiculous. None of this makes sense.”

“It does to me.”

Again, he said nothing.

In fact, he said nothing for so long that I finally looked him in the eye. The anger had left him, replaced by an emotion I didn’t recognize. Worst of all, he still smelled like summer. A little sweat and the open night air, everything I loved. Liked. I meant liked.

“What?” I said, finally.

He let loose a breath. “I’ll do it.”

 

TRUST by Kylie Scott (Official Book Trailer) from FILM 14 on Vimeo.

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

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Firefly by Molly McAdams ~ Sarah A’s Review

As the Princess of the Irish-American Mob, there’s no shortage of men ready to help guard and protect me. To slowly suffocate me to the point of seeking freedom—a place where I can breathe.

Kieran Hayes has been saving me for as long as I can remember. It’s in his blood, and one of the many reasons I fell in love with him. Until my favorite trait became his biggest flaw, making me resent the man I love. An unwavering warrior, his love for me has been shrouded by those instincts.

Save Lily. Protect Lily. Hide Lily. Cage Lily.

What I wasn’t prepared for was Dare—the man who would set my world on fire with just one touch. He saw straight through to my soul, as though he knew I was desperate for freedom, and silently demanded my heart from the beginning.

And I didn’t expect Dare to be Demitri Borello—the reason for so many deaths in my family. A man who will take my life the moment he finds out who I am.

Despite it all, I’ll love him until that moment comes.

A fire will die if there is no oxygen for it to consume. Ours is rapidly stealing every last breath we can sacrifice to it.

***The Redemption series is a series of romantic suspense standalones***

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This book was a slow burn.  When I was reading I found it somewhat frustrating but upon completion of the book, it was well worth it.  Gah.  I am not quite sure how to explain what the experience of reading Firefly; all I can really say is that it was fascinating and worth the singed nerves.

Firefly is the second book in Molly McAdams Redemption series.  You absolutely do not need to read both books to understand what is going on.  While they occur in the same world they are only tangentially connected. No character crossover, no (real) storyline crossover, no cliffhangers. Each book is a complete standalone. The only relation between the two is that they both deal with the seediest parts of the underworld.  And they do that well.

I’m not sure if I should classify this as a love triangle or not.  For one person it definitely was, for the others, not so much.  It was an interesting dynamic to know how Lily was feeling about both Dare and Kieran, and how they were both feeling about her.  My heart for Lily because of how deeply hurt she’d been by all the people who were meant to love and protect her.  It was completely shredded for Kieran because he was trapped in a life, a role, a persona he absolutely loathed and no matter what he did he was going lose everything he wanted most.  Dare, however, was a bit of an enigma to me, he seemed to so easily compartmentalize the pieces of himself it was fascinating to see those different facets and how he dealt with his emotions in each role.

Firefly took a minute to find its wings.  The first half or so was full of tension building, of layering an intricate backstory for everyone involved in the book, and it was worth all that build-up.  Once the intense conflict began happening all those varied histories met and exploded in something that could have been easily devastating for all involved.  I appreciated how Ms. McAdams dealt with the fall-out and brought this story to a resolution that was appropriate for the characters.

Molly McAdams writing is always great.  She’s uniquely capable of playing her readers’ heartstrings like a virtuoso.  It’s in the way she’s able to convey what an emotion feels like, that unique physical reaction – one each person experiences in their own, slightly different way – with such accuracy, that makes her stories sing.  I love how her stories build in magnitude and complexity as they go on, until they reach a soaring peak, then resolve with a perfect harmony.

“Nothing’s getting past me,” I assured her.

Her breath washed over my lips as I leaned in to kiss her again when she whispered, “I thought we were talking about you.”

I paused for a few seconds, then looked up into her hazel eyes. “What?”

“I think I’m in danger from you.”

My brow pulled tight, and I forced out a low, frustrated laugh. “Me.”

She nodded again, the movement of her head so slow as her eyes explored mine. “I need you to let me go for so many reasons, but I easily forget why when you don’t. I think there was a reason neither of us crossed that invisible barrier before today. Because being in your arms?” She hesitated, her tongue quickly darting out to wet her lips. “Trust me, it’s dangerous.”

A weight pressed down on my chest, making it hard to breathe. Because damn it if she wasn’t right.

There were dozens of girls over the years who’d meant nothing more than a night. Maybe two. Not one could I remember the name of, most I couldn’t remember their face.

Then there’d been one who I would’ve sold my soul for if I could’ve had one more night with her.

My days with her had been everything. A slow burn that had built over time until I hadn’t been able to get enough of her. Until she’d meant too much.

And there hadn’t been a girl since.

Not a second glance. Not a thought. Nothing.

Until one morning at Brooks a few years ago.

But there was nothing slow about the thoughts and needs for the girl pressed against me. There hadn’t been since the very first morning I’d found her staring at a mirror like it had the power to destroy her world. Like that possibility fascinated her.

Fuck, if I didn’t need to find out why.

Dangerous was exactly what we were. Only she had no idea just how much.

My gut twisted as unwanted thoughts entered my mind, but I pushed them away. Because I knew what I needed to do. I needed to let her go and force myself not to follow.

But when there’s a flicker of light in your life after so much darkness, it’s impossible to stay away.

And this girl burned so damn bright.

Calling to me and beckoning me toward her, and I knew no matter how many times I let her slip away, I would follow her just to catch her again.

I brushed my thumb across her full lips. “Goddamn, firefly.”

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Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies. When she’s not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm … or under one in a bathtub if there are tornados. That way she can pretend they aren’t really happening.

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Beautiful Mistake by Vi Keeland ~ Sarah A’s Review

The first time I met Caine West was in a bar.

He noticed me looking his way and mistakenly read my scowling as checking him out.

When he attempted to talk to me, I set him straight—telling him what I thought of his lying, cheating, egomaniacal ass.

You see, the gorgeous jerk had wined and dined my best friend–smooth talking her into his bed, all along failing to mention that he was married.

He deserved every bit of my tongue-lashing and more for what he’d done.

Especially when that lazy smile graced his perfect face in response to my rant.

Only it turned out, the man I’d just told off wasn’t the right guy.

Oops.  My mistake. 

Embarrassed, I slunk out without an apology.

I was never going to see the handsome stranger again anyway, right?

That’s what I thought…until I walked into class the next morning.

Well, hello Professor West, I’m your new teaching assistant.

I’ll be working under you…figuratively speaking.

Although the literal interpretation might not be such a bad thing—working under Professor West.

This was going to be interesting…

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The levity of the blurb and the smirking, partially undressed man on the cover belied how moving and heart-wrenching this story actually was.  I thought I was picking up a bit of light reading after some pretty intense reads, but I was happily mistaken.  While it did start out with a fair amount of frivolity, it soon took on a much heavier tone than I had anticipated.

The chemistry between Rachel and Caine was amazing but it was their pasts, the things they were struggling with, that made this book for me.  I have long been a sucker for a book about people with devastating pasts, so as soon as there was a hint of what they’d each lived through I was completely hooked on this book.  I was so intrigued by Caine and Rachel I finished this book in a single afternoon.  I had to see how they healed and overcame the horrors of their pasts, in order to move forward with the futures they deserved.

Some of my favorite moments in Beautiful Mistake were Caine’s flashback scenes, so much so that I wish we could have seen some glimpses into Rachel’s past the same way.  It was a unique way of telling the story though, keeping the present almost completely in Rachel’s POV and all of Caine’s POV a glimpse at the past.  It made it much easier to delineate what was going on and keep things in correct time line.

I found myself wanting to know more about Caine both Caine and Rachel’s sisters, I did feel we were left unsatisfied there, especially with the situation Caine’s sister was in.  Several of the secondary characters were very intriguing to me and I could easily see an entire world being built around this book.  They all had rich backstories and I would love to know more about all of them.  Isn’t that what makes a great book though, being able to live with the characters long after you’ve closed that back cover?

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. With more than 1.5 million books sold, her titles have appeared in over eighty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in sixteen languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

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