Broken Love Story by Natasha Madison ~ Sarah A’s Review

Samantha

I had the perfect life; a husband who loved me, and two kids who were my world.

Until someone else answered his phone and my perfect life shattered.

When he died, I was left with answers he couldn’t give me and a box full of lies.

He left me broken.

Blake

I fell in love when I was fifteen, knowing she was the one.

For five years, she was my everything—my every breath, every heartbeat, every thought.

She made me promise to move on, promise to find love again, but I broke those promises because I can’t move on.

 

Two broken souls brought together by tragedy and heartbreak.

Can a broken love story be fixed?

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Broken Love Story may be my favorite novel in this series.  I had been anticipated Samantha and Blake’s story since the epilogue of Perfect Love Story.  This book was beautiful, Samantha and Blake both had so much to overcome, so many broken parts to find a way to piece together.  Theirs was a healing journey, and I loved that they were given the time they deserved to recover before they explored what they could have together.

Unlike most other reviewers, I found Samantha heartbreaking in the first two novels of this series.  For as bad as things were for Hailey, they were a thousand times worse for Sam.  I was so happy to find out we were getting her story and it was with someone as wonderful as Blake.  Sam continually impressed me with her refusal to let all the things crashing down crush her under their weight.  She let herself take a beat to feel the pain, then collected her bearings and showed her girls that she was stronger and better than anything thrown at her.

Blake was the perfect counterpoint to Samantha.  He was equally broken but hadn’t quite let himself learn to feel again, whereas Samantha knew she needed to work through all that pain to come out the other side.  He was such a pillar of strength for her in her weakest moments and in doing that he allowed himself the vulnerability he needed to open his heart again.  It was quite lovely to see him begin to shed the shroud he’d wrapped himself in when his first love died.

Broken Love Story was more of a slow burn than the first two books in this series.   The pacing was perfect though, any faster and it would have felt forced.  They both needed the time they put in getting to know one another and begin to overcome all the trauma they’d faced.  I’m a huge sucker for getting to witness a character’s healing arc, and this book delivered big time in that aspect.  Sam and Blake picked up both their own and each other’s pieces and fit them together to form a connection that was far deeper and stronger than anything they’d experienced before.

I do have some wishes for Broken Love Story.  There were a few places where the dialogue was just bizarre, I think Ms. Madison was going for sweeping statements of love, but they were so out of character they came off stilted and disjointed.  I also had a few moments in the flashbacks where the writing felt forced and awkward like there was a split between making them an aside to the reader and just the character reliving the memories.

Broken Love Story is the third book in Natasha Madison’s Love series.  These books are interconnected standalones and do not need to be read in order.  They share a timeline, and the scenes involving characters from more than one book appear in each book, for the most part.  Broken Love Story is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Samantha and Blake.

Perfect Love Story – Available Now
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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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NEW RELEASE!! Siren Beloved by Lexi Blake ~ Sarah A’s Review

Aidan O’Malley walked away from his fiancée, Lexi, and their best friend, Lucas, after a night of passion left him shaken to his core. Years later, Aidan returns home from Iraq haunted by all he has lost. The enemy broke his body, destroying his dreams of a career in music. Worse still, he lost Lexi and Lucas. That damage he’d done all by himself. While he can’t restore what combat took from him, he’s determined to reclaim the two loves of his life.

Lucas Cameron is a changed man. After connecting with his brother, he found the discipline to get his life on track. His legal career is flourishing, but his love life is a train wreck. The woman he loves is spiraling out of control. After Aidan abandoned them, Lucas and Lexi clung together but no matter how hard he tries, Lucas can’t find a way to heal the wounds that Lexi carries.

Lexi Moore feels like a jigsaw puzzle with too many missing pieces. Losing Aidan was hard, but the true reason for her shattered spirit is a secret she only shares with her beloved Lucas. She knows she is drowning and the time has come to heal, but the holes in her heart hold her back from moving on. Shedding the burden she carries is her only hope for a happy future, but she fears she will never have the strength to reveal her secret.

When Aidan walks back into their lives, Lucas and Lexi know everything is about to change. But as they fight to reconcile their past and reclaim what they lost, a vicious predator stalks Lexi. In order to stop the killer, all three must confront the secrets they’ve carried…before they’re buried by them.

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Lexi Blake delivers, again.  I can not get enough of her writing, and Siren Beloved completely lived up to my lofty expectations for her stories.  I remember wanting to explore more of what was going on with Lexi, Lucas, and even Aidan after reading Siren Enslaved.  There was obviously something that had broken in Lexi between Small Town Siren and the epilogue of Siren Enslaved.

Lexi was frustrating; she seemed even to be frustrated with herself.  She couldn’t help but continually act out because she was trying so hard to deny her feelings about everything and everyone.  Her secret was fairly evident from the beginning, so it made her actions – or lack thereof – easier to forgive.  She learned and grew so much throughout the book; it was rewarding to see her finally find the love and healing she desperately needed to deal with her buried feelings.

Aidan broke my heart, for so many reasons, foremost was all he’d lost because of societal perceptions and expectations.  He was an excellent portrayal of legions of people who refuse to accept themselves as they are because of what other people might say.  Add that to what had happened to him, and all he’d overcome, while he was separated from the loves of his life and my heart ached for him to finally find the love and acceptance he deserved.

Lucas, for all his drama in the previous books in this series, was the picture of stability and integrity in Siren Beloved.  He’d already grown so much between his first appearance in the series and this book; it was good to see him be the rock Lexi and Aidan needed.  He was a mere shadow of the outlandish, insecure, party boy he’d been, and experiencing him as he was now was terrific.

I am always impressed by the way Lexi Blake weaves intense suspense elements into her love stories and uses that tension to accentuate the connections between her characters.  Though the plot of Siren Beloved was a little predictable, I still found myself completely swept up in the action and how the endgame was going to play out.

Siren Beloved is the fourth book in Lexi Blake’s Texas Sirens series.  With the exception of the first two books in the series, Small Town Siren and Siren in the City – which must be read in order, all of these books focus on different relationships and can be read as standalones.  Though, the reading experience is enhanced by reading them all in order, as the characters appear throughout the series.  Siren Beloved is written in third-person limited perspective, following Lexi, Aidan, Lucas, with a few scenes in a fourth voice.

Lexi Blake is my go-to ménage, BDSM, romantic suspense writer.  I haven’t been disappointed with anything she writes and consider her books my guilty pleasure.  She writes her characters in a way that makes me feel an intense connection with them, and I always end up completely immersed in her plots.  I can’t wait for whatever is coming next, I can’t get enough.

Lexi realized she was in serious trouble the minute the words left Lucas’s mouth. Hell, she’d realized she was in trouble the minute she opened her mouth. What was she thinking? She knew damn well how to behave in a dungeon, but something about this Master made her want to push him. Damn it. She’d been this way all of her life. She had to push. She thought about taking a step back, but before she could make her feet move, Master A had her in a fireman’s hold.

“Hey!” She shouted as her world upended. She turned her head up to throw a desperate look Lucas’s way.

Lucas stood there, a stony cold look on his face. In that moment, he was all Dom, and she’d never seen him look hotter. There was a confidence about him she had rarely seen when he was around her. Lucas was utterly in command at work, but his surety faltered when she walked into the room. Even when he performed a scene with her, she knew he worried about her comfort. He didn’t look worried now. He looked ready.

Her heart started to pound as Master A turned, and she lost sight of Lucas.

“I need a chair, Lucas.” The words came out of the Master’s mouth like a judge delivering a sentence.

“Yes, Sir.” Lucas’s words were silky smooth. There was not a hint of hesitation now. She could hear him moving to do Master A’s bidding.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked, though she was a bit less hostile now. She’d fucked up. She was glad Julian wasn’t around to witness it, though Leo would probably tell him. Tears pricked her eyes. Damn, she was proving to Leo she couldn’t handle the lifestyle. “Look, Sir, I’m sorry. It was wrong of me to be rude to you, but I was merely pointing out that Lucas and I had a plan for tonight.”

Reason. She could reason with him, surely. It worked on all the men in her life. Of course, usually she was looking at them instead of trying to plead her case to a group of back muscles. The muscles were unbelievably tight, but his skin—oh, his skin had been decimated in his lower back. It was a mess of white, puckered flesh, and she could see both neat, surgical lines, and jagged edges. She reached out to touch the mass of scars, but she was jerked back over his shoulder and set on her feet before she could make it. She wobbled on her heels, but Master A’s big hands held her shoulders.

“I don’t think you understand how this is going to go, sub. I am the Master, and you are the one being punished. I won’t put up with a spoiled princess telling me how her punishment will go. It will go the way I say it will go. First, you will pay for the insult to me, and then we’ll proceed to the sawhorse.”

“I don’t like the sawhorse.” The words came out breathy and small, because she was beginning to understand that this was serious.

Master A didn’t look like he was planning on giving in. And she hated being called a spoiled princess, but a part of her worried that he was right. The last few years, she’d allowed herself to become spoiled and dependent. She’d fled from everything that hurt her. She’d hidden. She’d let her stepfathers and Lucas coddle and provide for her so she didn’t have to face the truth.

Master A didn’t flinch. “I don’t care. Lucas has done the best he can, but the truth is he wasn’t trained to be a Dom. He might enjoy it from time to time, but he prefers bottoming. You require a firm hand. If you don’t want it, then you’re free to leave. No one is holding you against your will. This is all about consensual play, so you have to make the choice. Do you want the session to continue?”

She hated this part. This was the part that she’d never understood. She had to make the choice, and she couldn’t put it off on anyone else. She wanted for him to simply do it. Then she could blame him later, but that wasn’t what The Club was about. She’d been coming here for over a year, and she finally had to decide to make the choice—stay and put herself in the hands of a stranger, or go and never know what it was like. And then there was the fact that Master A was right. Lucas needed something she couldn’t give him.

She cast her eyes down submissively. How bad could it be? “Yes, Sir.”

“Then strip.”.

Re-released in a second edition with a prologue and three new chapters.

Two cowboys looking for love…

Jack Barnes and Sam Fleetwood met in foster care. Over the years, they’ve become best friends and partners. They share a business as cattle ranchers and a house. There’s only one thing missing: a woman to share. The men are sure they’ve found that woman when Abigail Moore arrives in their small town, Willow Fork, TX.

A woman trying to find her place in the world…

Abby left her hometown twenty years before under a cloud of scandal. She’s raised a daughter, forged a new life for herself, and is ready for the next phase when she meets the handsome cowboys.

One small town that’s ready to explode…

They’re a dream come true—Jack is the sexy Dom, and Sam the playful lover. It’s everything she’s ever fantasized about. There’s only one problem. She’s still not welcome in Willow Fork, and someone is willing to kill to keep her away.

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Re-released in a second edition with new scenes.

Jack and Sam married Abby. It was supposed to be for forever, but lately Abby wonders where her alpha male has gone. Jack has retreated and life has become decidedly vanilla. It isn’t the true marriage she and Sam wanted. Sam and Abby know the time has come to fight for what they need.

A call from his mentor forces Jack to revisit the club where he discovered his sexuality. Jack’s half-brother is in the city and interested in a little blackmail. Can Jack handle two defiant subs and a brother in need of some tough love?

Sometimes all it takes to find the way home is a little love and a lot of mischief.

Come back to the beginning and revisit some of your favorite old characters or find new ones to love. Siren in the City has been revised and new scenes added. And if you look closely, you’ll find not only the beginnings of the Sophie Oak world, but also the seeds of how McKay-Taggart began…

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Re-released in a second edition with new scenes.

Julian Lodge has everything a man could want. He’s rich, successful and owns the most exclusive club in Dallas. But something is missing.

Finn Taylor has worked his way up in the world from humble beginnings in Willow Fork, Texas. The only thing he still loves in his hometown is Danielle Bay. He never told her he was actually bisexual, and he never confessed his love for her. Now she’s getting married, and Finn is sure he’s lost his chance with the only person he’ll ever love.

Julian’s vacation to the Barnes-Fleetwood ranch brings them all together. After Dani jumps into Julian’s car while fleeing her wedding, Julian knows he has to have her. But nothing is easy in Willow Fork. A danger from Julian’s past threatens them all. Julian will have to convince both Dani and Finn that being his will be the best decision they ever made.

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

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GIVEAWAY & NOW LIVE!! Heartless by Willow Winters ~ SARAH A’s REVIEW

At first, his words were harsh and his touch cold.
I knew he was a dangerous man and he could destroy me if only he wanted to.

That’s not what he wanted though.
It’s so easy to get lost in the touch of a man who’s powerful and unattainable.
A man who wants for nothing … except me.
Soft touches and stolen glances made my blood heat and my heart beat in a way I never knew it could.

Yes, it’s easy to fall into a haze of lust and desire.
But there’s a reason his reputation is one of a heartless man.
And I should have known better.

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WHAT!? I.. GAH! I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself until Breathless comes out. That was quite the twist at the end of Heartless, and I was left with my heart in my throat. I have no idea what anything means or who is on what side or who I want to come out on top. I was so wrapped up in the intensity of this story; I didn’t even realize I was closing in on the end until there were no pages left to turn.

I’m gonna be really honest here; I’m still really unsure how I feel about Aria and Carter. I feel guilty for loving them together since their started relationship is completely out of a hostage situation. This series is so reminiscent of CJ Roberts’ Dark Duet, and my heart is just as torn about both couples. I love every second they’re together, to the point I almost forget the circumstances Aria is living under, then when Aria is alone my heart breaks for her, and all I want is for her to be able to flee. I’m so torn, so confused, so desperate for an easy answer but I don’t think there will ever be one. I am in knots over this book and I don’t anticipate them loosening for a long time.

Between the power exchange between Aria and Carter, the war, her feelings and anticipation of what is going to happen to her family, and the feelings they’re both starting to develop, the tension was sky-high in this novel. Every single interaction between all of the characters felt charged, ready to explode. There were so many things they all wanted needed to say, but couldn’t; it felt as if there was an entire second story being told in the undercurrent of body language and glances. It was intense and fascinating how Ms. Winters was able to convey that feeling so clearly without making it awkward and obvious.

Heartless was exceptional, from the moment it picked up right where Merciless had ended until it left me reeling with that shocking ending, there wasn’t a moment’s rest for the reader. Everything about the book was so heightened because the situation is so extreme, and Ms. Winters did an excellent job of keeping the anticipation ramped up to a fever point throughout the entirety of the book. It’s going to be a while before I’m going to be able to fully come to terms with everything that has happened to Aria and Carter and decide exactly how I feel about their twisted story.

Heartless is the second book in W. Winters’ Merciless Saga. These books are not standalones and must be read in order, with each book picking up right where the previous one ended. We were first introduced to the world of Merciless in Little Liar and Possessive, but those books do not need to be read for comprehension of this series. Heartless is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Aria and Carter.

Willow Winters continues to impress me with her highly artistic romantic suspense novels. I appreciate the flow of her work and how even the more aggressive, action-packed scenes have a certain grace and fluidity to them most suspense novels don’t. I find myself both desperate to find out how her books will end and not wanting them to be over because her prose is so beautiful I don’t want to leave her words.

A ruthless man with a past to hide doesn’t let a soul close to him.
A coldhearted man at war doesn’t risk anything for anyone.
A depraved man with a beautiful woman at his mercy … he doesn’t fall for her.

She was only a bargaining chip.  Now she’s my property.
own her.
Nothing has thrilled me more than the thought of taking her how I’ve always wanted to.
To break her and make that soft voice of hers whimper with a strangled moan as I ravage her.

I know better than to give in to temptation and let her distract me from everything that’s at stake.

No matter how badly I crave more of her.
No matter how much the sordid thoughts plague me.
No matter if it’s the one thing that I’ve always wanted more than anything else.

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Willow Winters is so happy to be a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and #1 Contemporary Bestselling Romance Author. She likes her action hot and her bad boys hotter. She certainly doesn’t hold back on either one in her writing!

Willow started writing after having her little girl, Evie, December 2015. All during her pregnancy with Evie she continued to read and she only wanted to read romance. She was reading a book a day — sometimes two.

In January 2016 Willow was staying up late with Evie and just thinking of all these stories. They came to her constantly so she finally sat down and just started writing. She always wanted to do it so she figured, why not? Today Willow cannot be happier for making that decision!

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Freed by Carly Phillips ~ Sarah A’s Review

An all-new emotional and romantic standalone from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carly Phillips is NOW AVAILABLE!

Fall for the missing Ward sister…

Juliette Collins is privileged and isolated from the world by her over-protective father. She thinks she knows the truth about her history until a file in her father’s safe reveals she has sisters she never knew about. A family she’s never met. Betrayed, she realizes there’s a life waiting for her outside the walls of her daddy’s New York City penthouse and Juliet is determined to live it. Against her father’s wishes, she heads to a small beach community to meet her siblings… and finds herself way out of her depth instead.

In the personal protection business, Braden Clark thinks nothing of taking on a job to watch over a city girl in town for the summer. If her father wants to know his daughter is safe, it’s no problem and an easy way of earning a paycheck. Except Braden doesn’t count on falling for the sheltered Juliette. Watching her experience her firsts, getting an apartment, finding a job, meeting up with her lost sisters, soon Braden’s brand of protection becomes a little too personal. He’s mixing business with pleasure and lying to a woman he’s coming to care deeply about.

Sexual attraction burns bright between them and Braden is by her side as she finds herself, her family, and what it means to love… but what happens when she discovers his secret? That he’s been paid to watch over her all along?

A Standalone Novel

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I’ve quite enjoyed my journey through Rosewood Bay with the Ward sisters, and this jaunt with Juliette was no different.  These books are all on the shorter side and lighter than my typical reads, but I’ve found myself looking forward to reading each of them and can’t wait to delve into some of the secondary characters as the series continues.

After reading Halley and Phoebe’s stories, I was eager to find out more about the mysterious third Ward sister.  Juliette was just as fantastic as her older sisters and had the same magnetism that seemed to draw people to her with little effort.  I appreciated how she never took her fortunate past for granted, even when she realized how deeply manipulative her father had been throughout her life.  She always seemed to appreciate what she had and still give herself the room to be angry about other circumstances of her life.  For someone who had been incredibly sheltered throughout her life, Juliette seemed to be quite well-adjusted when she finally struck out on her own two feet.

Braden’s story was just as devastating as Juliette’s.  His losses may have been different, but they were no less profound.  I did struggle – as did he – with his reluctance in telling Juliette the circumstances surrounding their initial interactions, though I understood why he was hesitant to lose either of the things that were becoming vitally important in his life.  Otherwise, he was a flawless partner to Juliette; he let her spread her wings without inhibition but was there to provide her shelter when she needed a safe place to land.

One of my favorite things about these Rosewood Bay stories is how Ms. Phillips puts her characters in each other’s lives when they are both struggling with something life-changing.  Giving Juliette and Braden each their own journey to acceptance and healing independent of their story together added an opportunity to demonstrate how wonderfully they worked together and supported each other in the hardest moment of their lives.  I particularly loved the subplot with Braden’s dad, it was heartbreaking and lent an interesting dynamic to the book.

My only wish for this book would be a more impactful climax.  Considering everything that happened in such a short time, it seemed lacking to me.  I had hoped for a much more significant fallout and resulting reconciliation.

FREED is the third book in Carly Phillips’ Rosewood Bay series.  These books are interconnected standalones and do not need to be read in order or comprehension.  Each book gives enough information on the other characters to pique an interest in reading their stories without giving enough away to spoil them.  FREED is written in third-person limited perspective, alternatively following Juliette and Braden.

Carly Phillips continues to impress me with her to the point writing.  I easily fall in love with her characters and find ways to connect with their struggles and triumphs.  Though I would have loved a little more closure at the end of this book, I still find her pacing appropriate for the stories she tells.

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Carly Phillips is the NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels, including the Indie published, Dare to Love Series. She is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.

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Disgrace by Brittainy C. Cherry ~ Sarah A’s Review

Disgrace, an all-new emotional standalone from Brittainy C. Cherry is NOW AVAILABLE!!

Each day I prayed for my husband to love me again.

After seventeen years together, he walked away from me, and into the arms of another.

I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know how to exist without him by my side.

All I wanted was for him to come back to me.

Then, Jackson Emery appeared.

He was supposed to be a distraction for my mind. A summer fling. A confidence boost to my bruised heart.

We were perfect for one another, because we both knew we wouldn’t last. Jackson didn’t believe in commitment, and I no longer believed in love. He was too young for me, and I was too damaged for him.

Everything was fine, until one night my heart skipped a beat.

I didn’t expect him to make me laugh. To make me think. To make my sadness somewhat disappear.

When our time was up, my heart didn’t know how to walk away.

Each day I prayed for my husband to love me again, yet slowly my prayers began to shift toward the man who wasn’t right for me.

I prayed for one more smile, one more kiss, one more laugh, one more touch…

I prayed for him to be mine.

Even though I knew his heart wasn’t destined to love.

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
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Holy tears, Batman!  I know Brittainy C. Cherry writes heartwrenching stories, I know this, I should be prepared for this. Yet, I was utterly shocked by the number of tears I shed while I was reading.  And I’m not talking graceful single tears sliding down my cheek; I was full-out bawling, couldn’t see the words on my kindle, needed a Kleenex for the snot crying.  This book, and other books like it, are precisely why I read.  To have another person’s words move me so profoundly my soul weeps for the story they’ve told is such a powerful experience.

I was very frustrated with Grace for a good chunk of the beginning of this book.  That frustration stemmed from anger for her; it was hard to watch her allow everyone she encountered to belittle her – particularly her mother. When the realization hit her that she knew so little about herself, my heart broke for her, and that frustration melted away.   As she found herself and came out of the shell she’d been forced into by all the people who’d purported to care for her throughout her life, she was a thing of wonder.  The glimpses of strength she’d shown blossomed into a garden of independence and self-confidence.

For all his outward gruffness and cruelty, from the first moment Jackson interacted with Grace it was apparent it was all a façade to protect himself.  He was beyond broken, and my heart hurt for him each and every time he acted out.  As strong as he was, as much as he carried on his shoulders, there was so much of him that had been destroyed when he was a little boy, and he needed someone to take a minute to understand the core of who he was.   As he flourished with Grace’s gentle, unwavering support I knew my initial impression of Jackson was only the tip of just how amazing a person he was.

Disgrace brought a light to an issue rarely talked about in real life, let alone in romance novels and the story resonated so deeply with me because of it.  There were several kinds of loss covered in this book, all heartbreaking in their own ways, but the loss Grace survived over and over again is beyond devastating, and there is no way to express how it affects a person until they’ve experienced it for themselves.  I loved the grace with which Ms. Cherry tackled this topic and the awareness and potential support system she conveyed with Grace’s story.

For all the repeated grief Disgrace covered, it was a book of hope and healing.  It served to show that what’s right doesn’t look the same through every set of eyes and often the picture painted of a person is far from the actuality of who they are when you look closely.  There were so many messages in this book, and I was touched by each of them.  This is truly a story that will stay with me for some time.

Brittainy C. Cherry is one of the best writers of deeply emotional stories I’ve had the joy of reading.  She continually writes about difficult subject manner with poise and respect.  I have never walked away from a book she had written without feeling the story deep in my soul, and it’s obvious she puts a part of her heart and soul in each novel she releases.

Jackson

“I’ve read about boys like you in books, ya know,” she whispered, her fingers slowly spinning spirals on my chest.

“Oh, yeah? What did those books teach you about boys like me?”

“Well…” She bit her bottom lip, and with a small inhalation, she whispered, “They taught me to stay away.”

“Then why are you so close?”

She tilted her head up, looking me straight in the eyes. “Because in those stories, the heroine never ever listens.”

“And then there’s trouble?” I asked.

“Yes, and then there’s trouble.”

From the way she said those words, I knew trouble was exactly what she was in search of. We were the classic cliché. She was the good girl next door, I the monster from around the block. We were perfect opposites for the perfect storm, and she was asking me to be her next flaw, her greatest mistake.

And, well, who was I not to live up to her request?

“I could destroy you,” I warned.

“Or save me.”

“Is it worth the risk?”

“Isn’t it always worth the risk?”

The more she touched me, the more I wanted to touch her back. I wrapped my hands around her wrists flipping us around so she was now against the wall with her hands above her head. “I have rules.” I leaned in closer, lightly brushing my lips against her neck. God, she smelled good, like peaches and my next sin. “You can’t break these rules, either.” My tongue rolled from my mouth and circled against her neck before I gently sucked her skin.

She shivered at my touch. “What are they?”

“Rule one,” I whispered, my mouth moving across her collarbone. “You never stay the night.”

“Check.”

“Rule number two,” I said, dropping her left arm to the side. Taking my hand to the bottom of her blouse, I slowly raised it up and massaged her skin. “You never develop feelings.”

“That’s easy enough,” she replied, her breaths uneven as I teased at the top button on her jeans. “I don’t believe in feelings anymore.”

I didn’t know why, but that made me sad for her. I, too, didn’t believe in falling for people, but that was my norm. Grace seemed the type to believe in something bigger than love, so the fact that her belief was completely gone was a bit surprising.

Maybe we had more in common than I thought.

“Rule number three…we don’t talk about my life.”

“Like ever?”

“Never.”

“Okay.”

“And lastly, rule number four…” My mouth brushed against hers, and I slid my tongue slowly across her bottom lip. “If your favorite pair of panties get ripped, don’t expect me to replace them.”

Hi! I’m Brittainy! Join me as we travel through my mind as a Romance Author. This includes such things as my random thoughts, tricks, tips, things I’m learning, things I’m re-learning, things I’m forgetting, and my weird ways of crafting stories.

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NEW RELEASE!! Nice Guys bundle by Kindle Alexander ~ Sarah A’s Review

Available for a limited time! Get the complete Nice Guys collection with an additional 30,000 words of bonus material. Haven’t met the Nice Guys? Here’s your chance.

Double Full:

Up and coming football hero, Colt Michaels, makes a Hail Mary pass one night in the college locker room that results in the hottest, sexiest five days of his young life. However, interference after the play has him hiding his past and burying his future in the bottom of a bottle. While Colt seems to have it all, looks can be deceiving especially when you’re trapped so far in a closet that you can’t see your way out.

Jace Montgomery single-handily built the largest all-star cheerleading gym in the world, driven by a need to forget a life-altering encounter with a handsome quarterback a decade ago. When he learns some upsetting news about his ex-lover, his heart executes a barrel roll and his carefully placed resolve tumbles down without a mat to absorb the shock. Can his island escape help him to finally let go of the past and move his life forward?

Full Disclosure:

Deputy United States Marshal Mitch Knox apprehends fugitives for a living. His calm, cool, collected attitude and devastatingly handsome good looks earn him a well-deserved bad boy reputation, both in the field and out. While away on an assignment, he blows off some steam at a notorious Dallas nightclub. Solving the case that has plagued him for months takes a sudden backseat to finding out all there is to know about the gorgeous, shy blond sitting alone at the bar.

Texas State Trooper Cody Turner dreams of being a Texas Ranger, and he’s moving up the ranks, well on his way to making it happen. But for the next two-weeks, he’s on vacation, and his plans include relaxing and helping out on his family’s farm. The last distraction he needs is a tatted-up temptation who walks into the bar and steals his baseball cap.

As Mitch’s case gains nationwide attention, how will he convince the sexy state trooper that giving him a chance won’t jeopardize his life’s plan…especially when the evil he’s tracking brings the hate directly to his doorstep, threatening more than just their careers?

Full Domain:

Honor, integrity, and loyalty are how Deputy US Marshal Kreed Sinacola lives his life. A former SEAL now employed by the Special Operations Group of the US Marshal Service, Kreed spends most of his life working covert operations…and avoiding relationships. But his boundaries blur and his convictions are put to the test when he finally comes face-to-face with the hot computer geek he’s been partnered with.

Aaron Stuart strives for one thing: justice. Young and full of idealism, his highly sought after computer skills land him a position with the National Security Agency. Aaron’s biggest hazard at his job is cramped fingers, but all that changes when he’s drawn into the middle of a dangerous federal investigation. And his attraction to his new inked up, dark-haired partner provides another kind of threat altogether. While Aaron tries desperately to place a firewall around his heart and fight his developing feelings, one misstep on his part could ultimately destroy him.

The solution isn’t as easy as solving the case, which is treacherous enough as it is. But the growing sexual attraction between them threatens to derail more than just Kreed’s personal convictions as he quickly learns temptation and matters of the heart rarely fit easily into the rules he’s lived by. Will Kreed be able to convince Aaron to open his heart and face the fact that sometimes the answers aren’t always hidden in code?

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DOUBLE FULL

This book was amazing, fabulous, wonderful. I loved it. Several days after reading it Colt and Jace’s story still runs through my head.

Kindle completely amazed me with this book. I knew that I wanted to read it as soon as I read the synopsis but I had no idea just how much it would draw me in. I read it all in one sitting, staying up ’til the wee hours of the morning to finish it. I just couldn’t put it down.

Jace was great, but Colt won my heart. Where Jace was all blatantly wonderful and kind and forgiving, Colt was broken and hard on the surface, but underneath would do anything for the person that he loved. Colt spent a decade living a life that he hated to protect the only person that he had ever given his heart to. At every turn, there was someone wanting something from him without ever caring about him, yet his whole life was constructed around protecting Jace. I absolutely loved him. He was far from perfect, but it made him so much easier, for me, to care about.

Jace and Colt’s story was far from easy. These two don’t know what easy is when it comes to love. As such a public figure in the sports world Colt had to spend most of his time denying who he really was. Jace’s career as a cheerleader made it easier for his sexuality to be acceptable. Not to say that he doesn’t have his own struggles, but his lifestyle makes his sexuality more acceptable. There are so many forces trying to force Jace and Colt apart that it was heartbreaking.

Kindle told a massively intriguing story that had me on pins and needles from the start. I had to know what happened. The story was heartwarming, and heart-wrenching, and everything in between. There was nothing that I would have changed in the book. The struggles make the happy parts that much more wonderful.

I would suggest Double Full to anyone who reads M/M romance. I know that gay romance is not for everyone, but it is not told in a way that is derogatory or disrespectful. The love between Jace and Colt was just as wonderful as the love between any straight couple I’ve read about. There were love scenes, and they were relayed in a completely tasteful way. This genre might not be for everyone but this book should be read by anyone who reads romance. There was just nothing about it that was not beautiful.

Double Full is the first book in the Nice Guys series. I can not wait until Book Two; Full Disclosure comes out. Momma needs some more Colt and Jace!!

FULL DISCLOSURE

I’ve been waiting for this book since I finished Double Full. I absolutely love this world Kindle Alexander has created and the way they write M/M is fabulous. I loved Mitch in that book and wanted to see him get his HEA. However, it came.

Full Disclosure started a lot slower than its predecessor. It was much more of a slow-burn romance, slowly building the chemistry and connection between Mitch and Cody until it could no longer be denied. I would have preferred a little more of them and a tiny bit less of everything else when I was reading, but by the time I finished the book I realized the way it was all set-up worked nicely to build enough tension to make the connection between them explosive when they finally gave in.

After getting a glimpse of what was going on with the attacks against high profile gay men in Double Full, I was glad to get to see more of what had happened and was happening with the investigation of those crimes in these books. It made the beginning of Full Disclosure a little different than I had anticipated but it was no less intriguing, just in a different way than I am used to expecting in Romance.

I freaking loved Mitch and Cody together. There was one love scene, in particular, that I can’t stop thinking about. I’m not sure what made it so poignant for me, but I find myself – quite some time after reading – thinking about the scene and how deeply it struck me. They had such a wonderful connection; I have no doubt they were absolutely made for one another.

FULL DOMAIN

While Full Domain was a great story, it didn’t quite stand up to the first two books in the series, for me. I love Kreed and Aaron together; it was the rest of the story that just kind of fell flat to me. In any other series, by any other author, I probably wouldn’t have been so disappointed, but Kindle wowed me so much with Double Full and Full Disclosure that Full Domain didn’t quite meet the standard I have for them.

I barely remembered Kreed from the other books in the series, and I honestly couldn’t tell you if I remembered much about Aaron other than a quick mention, so I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get to know them in Full Domain. Like all Kindle Alexander books, I could feel the undercurrent of attraction and affection between these two from the second they met. I loved the tension and the push and pull between them. Once they both gave into what they were feeling I was beyond ecstatic for them to begin exploring their connection.

After the action in the first two books in this series, I was expecting a bit more out of this book. There was still plenty of intrigue and danger, just not quite what I had anticipated. I loved how Kindle Alexander worked up to the conclusion of the hate crimes that had been carried out throughout this series and am very happy to finally have an answer as to who was behind those atrocious acts.

My biggest wish for this book would have been better pacing. I felt like there were a lot of lulls in this book where I had a hard time staying interested in what was going on, while there were other times I was so completely engrossed in the story and the romance I was barely aware of time passing. That chasm between the speed of the book made it feel stilted, to me.

BONUS MATERIALS

GAH! I’m so happy to have got to check in on all the Nice Guys again. I didn’t realize how much I had missed them until I was reading these, and they may have made me want to go back and revisit the entire series again.

Colt and Jace’s bonus scenes were the most poignant to me, from exploring moments in the lost years to Colt meeting Jace’s mom, to their wedding day, their scenes were rife with emotion and made me love them so much more.

Some of the bonus scenes fell a little flat for me, I didn’t feel like they gave us much insight into the men or did anything to deepen their connections, but they were fun nonetheless.

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 over active imagination, may be 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 ereader. 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 fan fiction 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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Knowing You by Rebecca Donovan ~ Sarah A’s Review

Under suspicion for a crime she watched him commit, Lana will pay for her silence. Her new lawyer strikes a deal, sending her to a boarding school in Vermont. It’s supposed to be a second chance. An escape from a dead-end life in Sherling. Except Lana doesn’t want to leave those who depend on her behind.

Lana is convinced she has nothing in common with the sons and daughters of celebrities and politicians who attend Blackwood School. But she soon finds out, that they’re all delinquents… just like her. Theirs is a world of contrived headlines and publicity facades, and Lana’s unabated honesty is a keen contrast to their lie-filled lives. She finds herself with new friends, just by telling the truth.

But not everyone is welcoming. Someone is out to destroy Lana, and she has no idea why. The longer she stays at Blackwood, the more dangerous it becomes for her and everyone she cares about. And it will only get worse when Lana discovers the truth.

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As soon as I finished reading If I’d Known, I needed to get my hands on this book. There were so many loose ends, so many things to decipher, so many connections that seemed to be more than they were on the surface. After reading Knowing You, I’m even more intrigued by this world. Honestly, I wish I had waited to start these books until they were all out because I know the time spent trying to figure out all the intricacies of this world is going to cut into my reading time.

It’s hard to say too much about Knowing You without giving anything away. This series has so many moving parts; there seems to be an entire history and web of connections we’re just beginning to get a glimpse of that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to completely comprehend exactly how these characters have all began to connect. I’m sitting here contemplating what I believe, what I don’t, what I am sure I know, and what I may have missed the first go ‘round if there were breadcrumbs that gave me a hint as to what is to come.

As much as I love Lana, she’s smart, tough, and tenacious; I have a hard time believing or remembering she’s barely a junior in high school. She seems so much more mature than anyone I knew at that age, and her life experiences are so all-consuming, the way she deals with everything lends her a feeling of being at least ten years older than her purported age. She impressed me with both her honesty and her loyalty – even to those who didn’t deserve it – in If I’d Know and she continues to amaze me with her adherence to her ‘curse.’

While I’m not saying I didn’t love Lana’s friends in If I’d Known, I love her new friends in this book. Especially Ashton, from the moment she appeared she had a magnetism about her that consumed me. Brendan is equally fascinating, though I’m not sure if I should be terrified of him or in awe. His ability to find things out is astonishing, and I want to trust him, I’m just not sure if I’m supposed to. And honestly, that is one of the best things about this book; I’m not 100% sure who’s good, who’s bad, and what part they all have in the big picture of this series.

Every moment of Knowing You kept me riveted. From the mysterious reasons Lana was accepted to Blackwood, to Brendan’s knowledge of her and everyone else, to the messages Lana is receiving, to the revelations at the end of the book, I couldn’t put the book down. I have a list of questions a mile long, and I’m going crazy trying to figure out what is coming and what the implications of the information they just received are going to be. I just absolutely need book three now.

Knowing You is book two in Rebecca Donovan’s Cursed series. These books are not standalones and must be read in order. The book is written in first-person perspective, narrated by Lana.

“If I tell you, they won’t come true.”  I stuff a mound of cake into my mouth.

Lily releases a small tinkling laugh. “Do you believe that?”

“Do you believe they’ll come true at all, no matter if I say them out loud or not?”

“I think we always receive what we deserve, and belief has very little to do with it. It has more to do with our character, and how that balances out on the scales of good and evil. Can’t have one without the other, right?”

I look at her curiously.  “But isn’t good always supposed to win in the end?” I can barely function, forget about contemplate karmic balance. And we’re going down a strange and windy path right now. Because I know good doesn’t always win.

If I’d Known (Book #1)
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Optimism seeps from every pore of my body. I truly believe that what’s supposed to happen… will! In that regard, I don’t know how to give up; it’s not part of my biological make up.

I’m a passionate (and some would say, overly enthusiastic) person. I learn by doing (and have been burned more times that I’d like to admit), but I will always throw my entire self into whatever I do – fail or succeed. 

I think this is evident when I write, leaving nothing behind and spilling it all out on the pages. I give it all to my readers – love it or hate it. 

The path I’m on is very often my own, veering off the beaten path at the sight of something more interesting or captivating, getting caught in the vines and thorns in order to experience the beauty and intrigue others often pass by. And I always meet the most interesting people along the way…

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NEW RELEASE!! Jackal by Fisher & Aster ~ Sarah A’s Review

Jackal Emerson has never taken himself seriously. Dubbed the “orgy king,” he’s renowned for his reputation as the wild End Man. But with the uprising on the horizon and his best friend missing, Jackal is having a hard time living the same carefree existence.

And then he meets a thief and everything changes.

Phoenix Moyo, principal dancer of a notorious ballet company, lives a life of rigidity. When her world collides with Jackal’s, their chemistry is evident to everyone except her. Forced to work with him to steal the most precious commodity of the Regions, she realizes too late that there is no escaping Jackal’s charisma.

When unimaginable crimes come to light, the Regions begin to crumble. No one is safe. Families divide and secrets are exposed, danger running rampant on every side. For some, sacrifice costs everything.

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When I found out the second book in this series was going to be about a different End Man, I was leery. I wanted more Folsom and Gwen. I was wrong. I needed this book not to be focused on them. I needed to know there was more to the revolution than what we saw in Folsom. I needed to see Gwen and Folsom through other people’s eyes to truly understand the magnitude of what they had started.

Once again, Fisher and Aster have made me consider things I have the privilege of not having to worry about in my own life. Things I feel passionately about yet haven’t considered from all angles. This entire world they’ve created is so unique, yet there are so many things I see in it that parallel the world we live in today. Between the babies being ripped from their mother’s arms because they weren’t born to the ‘right’ people, to people fleeing from the oppression they never asked for, to people being imprisoned for minor offenses because they don’t agree with the oligarchy they’re ruled by, it was a stunning piece on the horrors we are facing and will likely suffer if we don’t make our voices heard.

Jackal surprised me. I, much like Phoenix, had him pegged as a person lacking substance, I never considered that he was playing a role, being the person the society he lived in wanted him to be, I just assumed he was a shallow as he looked. He impressed me at every turn, from his intelligence to his childhood, to how overwhelming his compassion was when he was invested in something, Jackal was an impressive specimen for all the reasons the world he lived in never acknowledged. When he was Phoenix – who was freaking amazing, I loved how she knew her shortcomings and her strengths, and never made an excuse for any of them – they had a fascinatingly antagonistic dynamic that lent a little levity to an otherwise book full of heavy subject matter.

After finishing Jackal, I immediately wanted to go back and start Folsom over. These books are so all-consuming I’m sure there are details I’ve missed, breadcrumbs I didn’t pick up on, things I overlooked in favor of my affection for the characters. The End of Men novels aren’t stories you read; they are words that consume you, a world that will take you hostage and leave you reeling when you’re finally free.

After reading Folsom I was sure I couldn’t be more impressed with Tarryn Fisher and Willow Aster, but I was so blown away after this book, I can’t imagine there is a ceiling for them to hit, they’re just going to keep pushing themselves higher and higher. I am particularly enamored with how gracefully they toe the line of making a statement on the world we live in without alienating readers who may not have the same strength of conviction they do. They both write books that have something beyond a good story to leave with their readers, and for that, I love them.

“Without the risk of getting hurt, there is no probability of falling in love,” I tell her. “Vulnerability and love go hand in hand.”

“That must be why all the men are gone.” She smirks. “With that sort of logic, it’s no wonder.”

I take her in—smooth, honey skin that smells like apples, the broad bridge of her nose and arched nostrils. I don’t know how to tell her that back then men were not the romantics. The things we had left of the past: the movies, and the books, and the stories, were things hoped for, not seen.

I lean close so that my mouth is next to her ear, my lips brushing her skin.

“There is no logic in love, little thief. It starts small and grows into something very big and endless. Something you’re willing to die for. Don’t you long to feel something like that? Instead of all the emptiness you’re so used to…”

She pulls back and stares me right in the face. I can’t help myself. The quirky little corner of her mouth is raised like she’s mocking me, probably not the best time to kiss a woman. But I drop my head anyway and kiss her, letting my tongue softly graze her bottom lip. She pauses, her breath sucking in, and then she pushes away from me. For a moment, it’s just the two of us facing each other on the dance floor, the cider lights speckling our faces, and then as abruptly as she pulled away, she turns on her heel and leaves. I smile as I watch her go, her steps unsure like she’s dizzy.

“Dancers don’t get dizzy,” I call after her.

The nation as we know it is a thing of the past.

With the male species on the verge of extinction, a society called the End Men is formed to save the world. Folsom Donahue is one of twelve men whose sole purpose is to repopulate the Regions. The endless days spent having sex with strangers leaves Folsom with an emptiness no amount of women, money, or status can fill.

Until Gwen.

Gwen has wanted a child for as long as she can remember, but when she finally gets a chance to have her own, she uncovers a long hidden truth. The injustice she sees moves her to help save the men whom no one else believes need saving.

A forbidden love, grown in a time of despair, ignites a revolution.

Folsom and Gwen, torn between their love for each other and their sense of duty, must make a choice. But some will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Folsom is book one of the End of Men series.

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Tarryn Fisher is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of nine novels. Born a sun hater, she currently makes her home in Seattle, Washington with her children, husband, and psychotic husky. Tarryn writes about villains.

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Willow Aster is the author of True Love Story, In the Fields, Maybe Maby, Fade to Red, and Lilith. 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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The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young ~ Sarah A’s Review

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Impossible Vastness of Us and the On Dublin Street series comes a heartfelt and beautiful new young adult novel, set in Scotland, about daring to dream and embracing who you are. Don’t miss THE FRAGILE ORDINARY releasing on June 26, 2018, and get a sneak peek of the book below!

I am Comet Caldwell.

And I sort of, kind of, absolutely hate my name.

People expect extraordinary things from a girl named Comet. That she’ll be effortlessly cool and light up a room the way a comet blazes across the sky.

But from the shyness that makes her book-character friends more appealing than real people to the parents whose indifference hurts more than an open wound, Comet has never wanted to be the center of attention. She can’t wait to graduate from her high school in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the only place she ever feels truly herself is on her anonymous poetry blog. But surely that will change once she leaves to attend university somewhere far, far away.

When new student Tobias King blazes in from America and shakes up the school, Comet thinks she’s got the bad boy figured out. Until they’re thrown together for a class assignment and begin to form an unlikely connection. Everything shifts in Comet’s ordinary world. Tobias has a dark past and runs with a tough crowd—and none of them are happy about his interest in Comet. Targeted by bullies and thrown into the spotlight, Comet and Tobias can go their separate ways…or take a risk on something extraordinary.

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As the beginning of a coming-of-age story, The Fragile Ordinary was amazing.  All the things I could think of to address in that genre were there: relationships with friends, parents, romantic partners, teachers, struggling to find your place in the world, bullying, drugs, questions of who you are.  As a complete story, however, it felt like it was just getting off its feet.

Comet was all of us.  She was strange and awkward, contemplative and self-deprecating, shy and introverted.  I easily identified with her and understood her desires.  The pain she had suffered at the neglect of her parents was hard to cope with; sometimes I feel like absent parenting is just as damaging and abusive parenting – in different ways of course.  Seeing how her lack of parental care manifested in her other relationships was hard.  Knowing that she was just a child and she truly had no model to understand what a person should do for the people they love, yet she still strived to be a kind and sympathetic friend made me fall a little bit in love with her.

The primary focus of The Fragile Ordinary was the interpersonal relationships Comet experienced as she finally found herself and how those connections changed.  Tobias helped her begin to find the strength she needed to speak up for herself to her friends, her parents, her bullies, and him.  Since her life had been so void of real love and affection before he entered it, it was lovely to see how beautifully she flourished when given something so simple as genuine compassion and support.

The Fragile Ordinary was a snapshot of Comet’s life in a certain, pivotal moment of her life.  She changed and grew into herself so much over the course of the novel; I almost wonder if she’d have recognized herself.  Witnessing her transformation from somewhat of a doormat to the girl who finally found her voice was fantastic.  I did feel like we were left hanging as far as where she stood with most of the people in her life, though.

I wish at least one of the many storylines going on in this novel had a satisfying resolution.  There is a case to be made for Comet’s relationship with Tobias finding some sort of resolution, but it felt so rushed, I found it frustrating.  I just wish there were a few more chapters to tie up more of the loose ends in Comet’s life.

The Fragile Ordinary is a standalone young adult novel.  While there are elements of romance in this book, I wouldn’t qualify it as a romance, but a coming-of-age story.  The book is written in first-person perspective, narrated by Comet.

Samantha Young writes powerful young adult stories.  She manages to touch on several issues facing teens today in a manner that feels timely and real.  She also manages to tie several themes that affect people of all ages, like drug use and the loss of loved ones, into those stories to add a note of poignancy readers of all ages can identify with.

It was the weekend before Christmas, and we had our last week at school ahead of us. In all the time we’d spent together, Tobias and I had never ventured out of Portobello. I didn’t know if it was a conscious decision or if we’d spent so much time concealing our friendship that we feared going out anywhere that we might be seen together. Whatever the reason, it no longer existed, and after a week of tentative silence from our tormentors I suggested he and I go into the city for the Christmas Markets and Fair.

I watched Tobias’s face as we got off the bus early that Saturday morning. He hadn’t been happy about me dragging him out of bed at the butt crack of dawn, but the market always got incredibly busy as the day wore on. As we walked passed Edinburgh Waverly train station on Princes Street the sky was still a dark violet blue, making the Christmas lights twinkle spectacularly. It was like walking into another world. White lights sparkled in the trees like Jack Frost had danced all over their branches. The Star Flyer ride, lit up in a million different lights, stood beside—and as tall—as the Scott Monument. The ride was a pole with a flat umbrella top that moved up and down and spun. Attached to that top were bucket seats on a swing. When you were in the seat you were taken right to the top of the Star Flyer and spun out like the hem of a poodle skirt. You could see all of the city from up there—a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view.

On the other side of the monument was the massive Ferris wheel. With somewhere in the region of twenty thousand lights all over it, it looked like it was covered in sparkling jewels. The wheel was more my speed, with little sheltered carriages to sit in so you could enjoy the view of Edinburgh without feeling like you were going to be thrown out of your seat.

“What do you think?” I asked Tobias as we crossed the street to stand beneath the Star Flyer.

He gripped my hand tighter in his and smiled down at me. “Pretty cool.”

I grinned back and hugged into his side as we continued to walk down the main street of the city. The center of Edinburgh was split into two historical areas. To our left and uphill the roads led to Old Town, the medieval area. Up there was the Royal Mile, where old tenement buildings towered over the wide, cobbled road. In between the buildings were narrow passageways and stairwells, leading to a “secret” underground world. The Mile stretched all the way up to Edinburgh Castle, perched upon its volcanic rock.

From down on Princes Street it felt like the castle loomed over all, majestic, proud, and as I looked at it through Tobias’s eyes, awe-inspiring.

“That is pretty cool,” he said as we stood at the lower end of Princes Street and stared up at the castle. At this time of the morning, warm lights placed strategically in the rock face of the volcano it sat on lit up the castle in a surreal, ethereal glow. The streets were quiet, even of cars, taxis and buses, and for a moment we just stood there, huddled together in the cold winter morning, staring at all the lights.

It felt like we were part of a wonderland. Why had I not appreciated that until I was standing with Tobias, seeing it from his perspective?

From there we walked upward on our right. Here was the other historical region of the city—New Town. It was famous for its eighteenth-century Georgian architecture. Up there, where the expensive shops, nice restaurants and luxury hotels were situated, was George Street, and my eyes widened at the sight we found.

On the west end, bejeweled in green light like something out of Wicked or Disney, was Edinburgh’s Street of Light structure. It loomed as high as the buildings with two towers at the front and two at the back. Connecting those were arches, giving it the stunning appearance of a 3-D castle made up of stained glass. At night choirs and bands played under it, making the whole experience feel so magically Christmassy that it reminded me of how different my own Christmas experience was compared to a lot of people my age.

“Wow.” Tobias said as we stared up at it.

I burrowed closer to him, not just for heat, but because I couldn’t help myself from wanting to be as close to him as possible. Always.

Samantha Young is the New York Times,  USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows.  Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us will be published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook& hardback June 2017

Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for HeroOn Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.

Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.

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Overcome by AK Evans ~ Sarah A’s Review

It only took a matter of moments for Lexi Townsend’s life to change. Her power was taken, her trust lost. Her bubbly personality was smothered by the depressing weight of shame and guilt.

Four years later, Lexi yearns to get back to the former version of herself. A stronger version. One who is no longer afraid to share her story, her body, and her trust. When Private Investigator Cruz Cunningham comes into her life, he proves he’s a man that’s deserving of her trust.

When multiple women in Windsor go missing, it launches Cruz and the Cunningham Security team into action. As Cruz digs deeper into the investigation, he’s torn between finding the missing women and protecting the woman he loves. Putting her faith in Cruz, Lexi never imagines that this case could destroy everything she’s worked so hard to overcome.

WARNING: This novel contains references to rape and sexual assault and may trigger discomfort in some readers.

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After reading Obsessed, the first book in this series, I was leery of starting Overcome.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how much better the writing was in this book was than its predecessor, though there is still room for growth.  Again, the story was decent, if a little predictable, and I was rooting for Lexi and Cruz throughout the book.

I have always loved books about survivors of all types, but those about women who’ve overcome sexual assault have always held a special place in my heart.  As soon as I read the blurb for this book I was all in.  I can not tell you how happy I was to see so much of Lexi’s healing arc in this book.  Often romance novels seem to have people be magically healed by finding love, so seeing how hard and how many things Lexi was doing to leave her rape behind her was wonderful.

Cruz was fantastic with Lexi.  His compassion and patience went so far to help her learn how to trust men again, in particular, him.  I loved how carefully he helped her find all the things she thought she’d lost after she’d been violated so horribly.  His support in those moments when she felt she had no strength was sublime.

My wishes for this book are many, unfortunately, but I think most of them could be solved with a heavier editorial hand.  Most of the tell-not-show aspects of Obsessed were absent from this book, though there were still a few cringe-worthy moments that need to be addressed.  I also feel like Lexi’s reaction to the climax of the book felt completely wrong, given what she’d been through, I absolutely could not get on board with it.  Again, there were editorial issues, though not as plentiful as the first book in this series.  Finally, all the ‘L’ names: Levi, Lexi, Leni (Lennox), Luke, Logan, Lorenzo, though not present in this book, there was also a Leah in this series, and those are just the names I could recall off the top of my head.  It just felt strange to have so many similar names in one novel.  Especially all the Le_i names, more than once I misread a name and had to do a double-take to make sure I knew who I was reading about.

Overcome is the second book in AK Evans Cunningham Security series.  This series is a spinoff of her Everything series, and several of those characters make an appearance in the Cunningham Security series.  Each book in both series are interconnected standalones and do not have to be read in order.  However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have so many questions about the other couples the desire to read the other books will be strong.  Overcome is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Lexi and Cruz.

AK Evans has improved greatly from the first book I read by her.  A lot of the distrust of her readers I felt in that book was absent in this one.  That being said, I feel like there is still a lot of room for growth and she would benefit from a stronger editorial team.  Her storytelling is compelling enough that I can see myself picking up more books from her, in hopes to see continued improvement in her writing.

A.K. Evans is a married mother of two boys residing in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. After graduating from Lafayette College in 2004 with two degrees (one in English and one in Economics & Business), she pursued a career in the insurance and financial services industry. Not long after, Evans realized the career was not for her. She went on to manage her husband’s performance automotive business and drive the shop race cars for the next thirteen years. While the business afforded her freedoms she wouldn’t necessarily have had in a typical 9-5 job, after eleven years she was no longer receiving personal fulfillment from her chosen career path. Following many discussions, lots of thought, and tons of encouragement, Andrea decided to pursue her dream of becoming a writer.

Between her day job, writing, and homeschooling her two boys, Evans is left with very little free time. When she finds scraps of spare time, she enjoys reading, doing yoga, watching NY Rangers hockey, dancing, and vacationing with her family. Andrea, her husband, and her children are currently working on taking road trips to visit all 50 states (though, Alaska and Hawaii might require flights).

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