NOW LIVE!! My Irish Kings by Sienna Blake ~ Sarah A’s Review

Five years I’ve been kept under the control of Ireland’s most vicious gang leader. Now that I’m eighteen, he’s forcing me to marry him. I’d rather die a thousand deaths.

I escape to the only place I can be safe–home of my captor’s biggest rival, the Irish Kings.

There’s X, the living weapon with a haunted past. His vicious touch helps release all this anger in me.

Jace, the teddy bear with a warrior’s heart. His melodic Irish brogue is a balm to my soul.

And Magnar King, their intimidating leader. Whose eyes flare with hunger when I’m near, yet backs away like I’ve burned him when we touch. He doesn’t remember me. But I remember him.

They’re all so different. But they all make me feel safe. They awaken needs in me—strange needs.

want all of them.

But I just might need all of them to heal.

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Can I request that this book be made into a full-length novel?  I have so many more things I want to know about these people and this world.  I was so wrapped up in everything Irish Kings, and I loved every second I spent reading My Irish Kings.

First, though I would have loved this book to be so much longer, there were so many things that could have been expanded on just for the excitement of knowing it, the story was complete, and I was satisfied with it.  It is a Quick & Dirty novel, so I knew to expect the brevity, I just didn’t anticipate connecting with the characters so deeply I NEEDED to know more about their backstories.

X, in particular, is still an enigma to me.  We were tantalized by hints of his past but never got the satisfaction of knowing anything about it.  X is exactly the kind of character that calls to my soul, and I wish, so deeply, that I would have understood more about how he became the man he was in this book.  He was so deeply destroyed, I could only guess what happened to him and hope that, now that he has found someone to care about him without reservation, he can finally begin to heal from all the sins of his past.

While I loved almost the entirety of the book, the epilogue felt strange to me.  It almost felt like it was written by someone else, then tacked onto the end.  It didn’t seem to have the same ease and mood as the rest of the book and left me feeling a little disappointed at the exact moment I should have felt content and full of hope for the characters.  There was also a fairly notable continuity error concerning Charli’s eyes; in one chapter Waylyn describes them as being chocolate brown, but in the next Magnar says they are grey, like her mother’s, and a few other minor editorial issues that need to be addressed.

I used to think I was one of the lucky ones.

But at twenty-six, I’ve left my life in New York behind—my perfect fiancé, my stylish friends, my high-flying marketing career—and moved to Ireland.

Truthfully, my perfect fiancé is now my ex after I walked in on him face-deep in my best friend’s p***y.

And my career? It’s over. Because that cheating ex-fiancé of mine… he owns the company I worked for.

I know. I know. Don’t screw your boss. Trust me, I’m never making that mistake again.

On my way to the remote Irish farm I’m now working on, my car hits a ditch. I’m rescued by the three sexiest men I’ve everseen.

The three Irish O’Callaghan brothers.

Broad shoulders, strong arms, accents that make me wet just to hear them.

I want them. All of them.

I know they all want me.

Plot twist…

Turns out they’re my new bosses.

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Sienna Blake is a storyteller & ink slinger, word spinner of love stories with grit, and alter ego of a USA Today Bestselling Author.

She loves all things that make her heart race — roller coasters, thrillers and rowdy unrestrained sex. She likes to explore the darker side of human nature in her writing.

If she told you who she really was, she’d have to kill you. Because of her passion for crime and forensics, she’d totally get away with your murder.

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Hate Notes by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward ~ Sarah A’s Review

It all started with a mysterious blue note sewn into a wedding dress.

Something blue.

I’d gone to sell my own unworn bridal gown at a vintage clothing store. That’s when I found another bride’s “something old.”

Stitched into the lining of a fabulously feathered design was the loveliest message I’d ever read: Thank you for making all of my dreams come true.

The name embossed on the blue stationery: Reed Eastwood, obviously the most romantic man who ever lived. I also discovered he’s the most gorgeous. If only my true-love fantasies had stopped there. Because I’ve since found out something else about Mr. Starry-Eyed.

He’s arrogant, cynical, and demanding. I should know. Thanks to a twist of fate, he’s my new boss. But that’s not going to stop me from discovering the story behind his last love letter. A love letter that did not result in a happily ever after.

But that story is nothing compared to the one unfolding between us. It’s getting hotter, sweeter, and more surprising than anything I could have imagined.

Something new.

But I have no idea how this one is going to end . . .

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I’ve mentioned before in my reviews of Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s collaborations that the titles and blurbs often belie the serious themes and intensity of the stories and that was definitely the case with Hate Notes. In fact, this book was a double-whammy as far as the serious themes. I may have teared up a time or two, and there weren’t even any dead dogs (well, not really).

Reed Eastwood did not endear himself to me when this book first started. Thankfully, Charlotte Darling was much more open-hearted and forgiving than me, she saw the façade he’d put up and knew it was protecting a terrified and hurt part of him. Eventually, he wore me down with his wit, honesty (in most regards), and melancholy. Reed was far more than I initially gave him credit for, and his distressing past made my heart ache for him.

Charlotte Darling was immediately sympathetic. Perhaps because we meet her in one of the lowest moments of her life, but more likely because she is just one of those people you can’t help but like – even if, like Reed, you really want to dislike them. Charlotte was perpetually happy and good, something I can’t relate to on a personal level but always admire when I see in other people. She had every reason, and then some, to be surly and mad at the world, but she saw the virtue in everyone – and everything. Charlotte was the sunshine that came into Reed’s life when he desperately needed it.

Hate Notes was a slow-burn romance, spanning several months, it took the time to let Charlotte and Reed’s relationship build block-by-block, inching toward something so much more than I could have anticipated. I loved that they were able to build a solid foundation of friendship and trust before they acted on the chemistry that had been brewing between them from their first meeting. Once they finally crossed that threshold, there were no secrets, no lies, nothing lurking around the corner to tear them apart and it was beautiful. Almost as beautiful as the love they’d nurtured and held tightly in the months it took them both to finally admit to.

Penelope Ward

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

With over 1.5 million books sold, she is a twenty-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels.

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 Vi Keeland

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. With more than a million books sold, her titles have appeared in over fifty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in fourteen languages. She lives 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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NEW RELEASE!! Siren in Bloom by Lexi Blake ~ Sarah A’s Review

Re-released in a second edition with new content.

For psychologist Leo Meyer, peace and comfort come through strict discipline and order. It’s one of the reasons he was chosen by Julian Lodge to be the Dom in residence at his club. His time there has been a near-perfect existence filled with a daily routine free from the chaos of emotional attachment. With the exception of his brief relationship with Shelley McNamara, that is. She may have been the only woman he ever truly loved, but he was confident he had put her out of his mind until she walked into his club on the arm of another man.

Shelley McNamara is tired of waiting for her new life to begin. After finally finding freedom from an abusive marriage, she is eager to discover who she really is. After her encounter with Leo Meyer, she knows that the first thing she wants to explore is the lifestyle he exposed her to during their brief time together. She’s been promised her new Dom will be an excellent fit, but she can’t imagine anyone could fill the hole left by Leo. Until she sees Master Wolf.

After a devastating injury forced his retirement from the Navy SEALs, Wolf has been restless and lost. Hoping to reconnect with his estranged family in Dallas, Wolf accepted a new job working for Julian Lodge. His first assignment is training a beautiful woman named Shelley. Her fiery nature unlocks feelings he didn’t know he was capable of after a life spent in combat. The closer they become, the more certain he is that she is his ideal mate. The only catch is that her relationship with Leo may not be as resolved as they both believed.

Just when Shelley believes the looming shadow of her deceased husband has finally cleared away, a dangerous killer arrives at her door seeking retribution. Leo and Wolf will have to put their grievances aside, leverage all their training, and work together to keep her safe and claim her heart.

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After the last couple of re-releases from Lexi Blake were misses for me, I was so happy to get into Siren in Bloom and realize whatever had happened with those books didn’t carry on to this one. The magic was back for Leo, Wolf, and Shelley, and I loved it. I’d loved Leo in particular throughout the other books in the series, so I was happy his book was worthy of him.

My heart had broken for Leo in the previous book in this series, Siren in Waiting when Shelley rejected him for her loser of a husband. He’s been such an amazing man in each book he’d appeared in; I wanted him to get his HEA finally. I hadn’t expected it to come by way of his brother, but I was there for it. The ménage the three of them made up was complex and challenging, but they were all the better for it. Each of them needed both of the others in myriad ways, and I’m not sure any of them could have found completion in any other way.

There were a lot of moving pieces in this book, nothing so complicated as to be confusing, but enough intrigue both in the dynamics of working out the relationship between the brothers and Shelley after all the hurt they’d experienced amongst themselves, and in the forces working against them that I was riveted to my kindle the entire time I was reading. The three of them went through more than their share of suffering in the few days the book covered, but it served to make their bond feel unbreakable and intense.

Siren in Bloom is the sixth book in Lexi Blake’s Texas Sirens series. It was previously released under the pen name Sophie Oak and has been re-edited, with new content added. These books are all interconnected standalones, but there are lots of visits from the couples and triads in the previous novels, so it is nice to read them first if you’re considering reading them. Siren in Bloom is written in third-person limited perspective, alternatively following Shelley, Leo, Wolf, and a couple other characters.

Shelley watched as Julian Lodge’s perfectly formed body wielded the whip. There was a crack through the air and a snap back, and then a thin, red line welled on the white flesh of Finn’s back.

Shelley took an unconscious step away from the stage and right into Wolf’s chest.

“Shhh, it’s all right, sweetheart,” Wolf whispered against her ear. “Finn loves this. From what I understand, Finn has been Julian’s submissive for years. They know what they’re doing and what it takes for Finn to find his subspace.”

She gasped as the whip cracked again, the sound violent, like a snake striking from nowhere. She kept her voice low. “I don’t see how Finn isn’t screaming.”

“It sounds worse than it is.”

She looked over and Leo was standing right beside them. She thought he’d walked away, felt more comfortable with him walking away. But he was standing right there beside his brother, dressed almost identically. Two amazingly gorgeous men.

Yeah, if she hadn’t had ménage fantasies before, she sure as hell had them now. Why had she ever put that down on the questionnaire?

Because there was a part of her that wanted what Trev had found. Because there was a part of her that wanted the balance of two men just in case one of them turned out to be a criminally minded douchebag. Because she didn’t trust herself anymore.

And because the whole month she’d spent talking to Wolf, she’d had fantasies about Leo suddenly turning around and both men wanting her. But that was all it was, a fantasy.

“Don’t be afraid, sweetheart,” Wolf said, his arms encircling her. He was so protective, but could she trust him?

“She isn’t afraid. She’s worried. That’s her worried face. Her brows wrinkle, and she gets this deep line right in the middle of her forehead.”

Trust Leo to have noticed that.

“Sweetheart, we don’t have to play with the whip if you don’t want to,” Wolf assured her. “But you should know that what you hear, that cracking sound is something Julian controls with the flick of his wrist. Really look at Finn’s back. Julian is in complete control. That whip can be horrible if he handles it wrong. Or it can whisper across Finn’s skin. It can bite on the right side of pain. It can be what Finn needs it to be. Do you see any blood?”

She didn’t. There were several pink lines on Finn’s flesh, and now she could see the way he’d relaxed, his shoulders slumping and head lolling back. Finn seemed to be getting what he needed.

“He feels like you did when I spanked you.” Wolf’s voice was a deep rumble over her skin.

“You spanked her?” Leo sounded like Wolf had said he’d beaten the crap out of her.

Julian turned and stared back because Leo’s voice had carried through the dungeon.

“Sorry,” Leo said, holding a hand up.

She felt Wolf move behind her as Julian turned back to his task. That crack split the air again, but she saw it differently now. The spanking Wolf had given her had been so different. It had changed her world.

Wolf leaned over behind her, speaking to Leo. “She ignored certain key parts of our contract. She was assaulted, and she didn’t call me. I went to her place, and she was there with some fucking former SEAL mercenary shit.”

“Holder?” Leo asked the one-word question with a sort of hushed awe.

“Yeah, how did you know?” Wolf asked. “Wait. He called you, right?”

“Yes,” Leo replied. “Did you say she was assaulted? Get back here. We can’t talk up here.”

She was pulled back, two arms on either of hers. She almost stumbled, but Wolf held her up. He finally cursed and shoved a bulky arm under her knees, hauling her against his chest. He followed his brother as Leo made his way through to the back of the crowd. She could hear the whip crack again and again, Finn’s soft moans filling the air, making her believe he was enjoying the experience.

What would it be like to trust someone the way Finn trusted Julian?

“Explain.” One word, but Leo made it sound like a long Shakespearian speech.

“She had her laptop stolen on the train,” Wolf replied before she could get the words out. She was rapidly figuring out her response was not required.

“She was robbed?” Leo asked like he gave a damn. Logan had followed him, staying behind Leo like a properly trained lackey.

“Yes, I was,” she managed, keeping her voice down because even she knew not to disrupt a scene. “Though the thief was an idiot because I bought that laptop bag at Target, and he had full access to a handmade Versace. I know which one I would have stolen.”

Wolf turned her toward him. “Are you sure about that? He could see it? He had obvious access to something that was more valuable?”

She nodded. “Yes, he stared at it. There’s no way he could mistake my bag as the more expensive one. That Versace was beautiful. Mine was beaten up. I shoved it on the floor. The leather is warped. It got wet. I was stupid and set it down in the rain when I was trying to unlock my car. I can’t replace it so it looks like hell.”

“So the only thing valuable was the laptop, and it was visible?” Leo asked.

“No,” Shelley said quietly, well aware she was still in the middle of a scene. This couldn’t wait until later? “My laptop bag was big enough that I could close it.”

Wolf and Leo shared a long look.

“I’ll check into it,” Wolf said, his words sounding like a promise.

“Have you read her file?” Leo asked.

“I have a file?” She wasn’t aware of it. Crap. She should have been. Julian Lodge looked like the kind of man who kept a lot of files.

“Of course,” Wolf replied. He turned back to Leo. “You think this is about her ex? I can go talk to Tag right now.”

Shelley’s skin went cold. What about her ex?

“No idea,” Leo answered. “But if someone is coming after her, I want to know what it’s about.”

“I’ll look into it,” Wolf promised.

Leo nodded. “I’ll let Tag know, but he’s the one who trained Ben and Chase. They’re specifically here to handle things like this. We’ll meet tomorrow at noon. Chase is one of the best hackers in the world. If someone has said anything about her on the net, Chase can find it. If some asshole wrote an e-mail about her, Chase can give it to you.”

“We’ll be there,” Wolf promised.

“I will?” Shelley asked.

“You will.” Wolf and Leo said the words at the same time, with the same deep inflection.

“Fine.” She couldn’t fight both of them.

There was a long pause. She stared at the scene in front of her. She thought they were being overly protective, but then she hadn’t had anyone who was protective of her besides her brother in years. Maybe never since her father died. Bryce had married her for specific reasons, and when those dried up, he’d ignored her.

“Did he hurt you?” Leo asked, putting his hands on her shoulders and turning her around.

“No.” She looked into his face, stark and lovely. God, he was a beautiful man. “He didn’t touch me. He just took my bag.”

The whip cracked again. She turned her face back, but now she was flustered. Her heart was racing. Why had that man taken her bag when there was something much more valuable in his grasp?

Had it been random? Why wouldn’t it be random? What could she have that someone really wanted? She was living hand to mouth. She’d lost all of the property she’d owned with Bryce.

“Hey, calm down,” Wolf ordered, his voice commanding her. “We’re going to handle it.”

Leo watched her for a moment. “She sometimes has anxiety attacks, nothing serious, but she can get herself worked up. If you don’t talk her down, she’ll be anxious for hours. Shelley, why don’t we all go up to my office and we can talk about what’s making you nervous?”

Now Leo was making her nervous. God, the last thing she wanted was to become one of Leo’s patients.

“I think I can handle this, brother,” Wolf said, taking her hands in his.

Leo’s eyes narrowed. “And I think I’m the one with the degree in psychology. If she doesn’t want to talk to me, I’ll go get Janine. Honestly, I should have thought about putting her in Janine’s group in the first place.”

Wolf squared off with his brother. “She’s my sub, Leo. I have zero problem with her getting into Janine’s group, but for now let me handle her in the way I see fit.”

She wasn’t sure what group they were talking about, but it didn’t seem like the time to argue. Leo stood, his arms across his chest, and she worried for a moment that he was going to argue with Wolf.

“I want to stay with Wolf.” She looked up at Leo. This was the longest conversation they’d had in fifteen months, and instead of being her friend, he wanted to be her shrink. She didn’t want that. She wanted what Wolf could give her.

Leo took a step back, his disengagement clear. “Of course. Come along, Logan. We still have work to do.”

The two men walked away, losing themselves in the crowd.

“Come on.” Wolf pulled her back toward a corner of the room. She could still see the stage, but it was slightly darker away from the lights. Wolf settled his big body on a chair that had been shoved into the corner. “Sit down. We’re going to talk for a minute. What’s your safe word?”

She needed a safe word to talk? “Gucci. I have to find a chair. Hold on.”

His hand came out to tug her to him, settling her on his lap. She was surrounded by him, his arms encircling her waist, the warmth of his chest touching her skin. “Did you do as I asked?”

“What did you ask?” She had to put her arms around his neck for balance.

Wolf’s hand was on her knee. “I gave you some specific grooming instructions.”

Oh, god. She shivered. He was talking about her pussy. She’d thought about him the whole time she’d been in the shower. She hadn’t been able to think about anything else. She’d carefully shaved her mound, pulling the lips of her pussy apart and gingerly running the razor over her flesh. Every stroke of the razor had sensitized her skin. “Yes, Sir.”

“Let me feel. Spread your legs.”

She swallowed, hesitating. “But there are people here.”

The Dawson twins were close, Kitten at their side. And Ian and Charlotte Taggart were cuddled together, not far away. She could see the big, sarcastic dude whispering to his wife.

Wolf’s voice came out in a hard grind. “I don’t care. And neither will they. Now spread your legs and let me feel your pussy or use your safe word.”

It didn’t exactly seem fair, but she’d known it would be this way going in. She could choose to obey or this particular portion of her evening would be over. And she wasn’t sure she wanted it to be over.

Shelley took a deep breath. She was either in and willing to explore or she should walk away. She’d been so passive when it came to Bryce because she hadn’t been willing to fight. She wanted to be done with waiting for something to happen to her. Wolf was giving her a choice. This wasn’t some passive activity. She had to make the decision.

She spread her knees. She looked around, trying to see if anyone was watching.

“Stop it,” Wolf said, his hands tightening. “You’re not to worry about them. You’re going to focus on me. Now, I gave you instructions, and I intend to find out if you followed them or if you’re going to get another spanking.”

She wouldn’t mind the spanking, but in this case, she’d been a good girl. And despite the fact that it had made her uncomfortable, she’d only put on the clothes Wolf had given her. And he hadn’t given her a pair of underwear.

He kept one arm wrapped around her waist, and the other found her knee. He forced her to open further. She could feel the cool air on her flesh. A thrill went through her. She’d never done anything like this, but she’d dreamed of it. In her darker fantasies, she’d been placed on display and touched and admired. Bryce had told her she was a freak when she’d mentioned her desires to him.

But she didn’t want to think about Bryce. She wanted to think about Wolf’s hand on her thigh.

“Tell me something, sweetheart.” Wolf’s voice was thick and dark, his lips tickling her ear. “Are you thinking about what happened on the train now?”

So this was Wolf’s version of therapy. She had to admit, she preferred Wolf’s hands on her to sitting in Leo’s office.

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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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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Re-released in a second edition with new content.

Bethany “Mouse” Hobbes spent her entire life waiting, especially for the love of Bo O’Malley. But for the first time in her life, she is ready to start living, with or without him. She has found her dream, restoring a rustic farmhouse on the outskirts of town.

Trev McNamara left Deer Run a high school hero and has returned, his football career in ruins. When Trev meets Mouse, he discovers a passion strong enough to overcome his past. But can she accept his need for control?

Bo O’Malley has lived his whole life in the shadow of his brother, never committing to anything or anyone. When the woman he secretly loved all his life begins an affair with the man who betrayed his trust, Bo will do anything to claim her as his own.

Transformed by their love, will Mouse be enough woman for both of them?

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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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Break Me Down by M. Mabie ~ Sarah A’s Review

BREAK ME DOWN is the continuation of Abraham and Myra’s story and the second novel in the Breaking Trilogy.

“I wasn’t the woman I once was, sheltered from reality. Through it all, one thing remained the same—I wanted Abraham.”

A life outside the gates of Lancaster was never a choice I would have made on my own. Groomed into obedience, I was blind to their manipulation, their neglect, and their abuse.

They are a cult.

Abraham saved me.

Then the ugliest truths came out, and I ran.

Regardless of how hard I push him away, there is no denying the security and comfort I found in his arms. No ignoring the pull he has on me or how his affection gives me strength.

Hope.

The will to fight.

But I’ll have to find myself before I can ever be truly his.

The real world broke my heart, but it wouldn’t break me down.

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We got to know a lot about Abraham and who he was in the first book in this series, Break My Fall, partly because Myra had no idea who she was outside of the cult in which she’d been raised. In Break Me Down Myra’s growth arc is fantastic, she is incredibly strong and independent, especially considering her very questionable upbringing.

After the intense, heartrending tale that M. Mabie told in Break My Fall, it was good to see a little goodness in Break Me Down. At first, I was angry at Myra for running, but as the story went on, I understood she had to. She needed to find herself by herself. No matter how much Abraham tried to let her make her own choices, Myra would have been influenced by him because of the brainwashing she’d been through at the hands of the cult she’d been born into.

I think Abraham needed the time and space alone, too. I don’t think he would have trusted his feelings were anything but born of obligation had he not been forced to spend those weeks without her. Abraham is a good man, with amazing morals and a giant heart, but he would have always questioned his motivations about Myra and his love for her if things had gone any differently. For as much as I hated that they had to spend any time apart, it made their love stronger.

Break Me Down is the second book in M. Mabie’s Breaking series. These books are interconnected and must be read in order. Break Me Down is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Myra and Abraham.

“The first time I returned to Lancaster was for my brother’s funeral.
The second time was for Myra.”

For twelve years, I lived alone in my cabin, building a life with my two bare hands. I was free from their rules, their policies, and their lies.

They are a cult.

My father is their leader.

To protect my brother’s widow, I’m making her my wife. It’s her only way out.

But drawn to the purity in her deep blue eyes and the innocence of her gentle voice, I wonder if I’m not the biggest monster of them all. I have to save her from them and myself. Because every second I spend with this timid woman, I fight the urge to claim her.

Own her.

Make her truly mine.

And I know it’s wrong.

I will break her fall—if I don’t break her first.

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M. Mabie lives in Illinois with her husband. She writes everything from steamy romantic comedies to angst-filled, pull your hair out drama. She enjoys it all. With her unconventional love stories, she tries to embody “real-life romance.”

She cares about politics, but will not discuss them in public. She uses the same fork at every meal, watches Wayne’s World while cleaning, and lets her dog sleep on her head. She has always been a writer. In fact, she was born with a pen in her hand, which almost never happens. Almost.

M. Mabie usually doesn’t speak in third-person. She promises.

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NEW RELEASE!! Who We Were by Melissa Collins ~ Sarah A’s Review

Who We Were…

Two awkward teenagers – the loner and the nerd, trying to find our place in the world. Paired in wood shop, we knew nothing of each other, except that we wanted to know everything. Then one life altering moment changed it all and we were left with shattered dreams and broken hearts.

Who We Are…

Two grown men – braver and smarter than we used to be, trying to heal the damage from that irrevocable moment. Even though the past was behind us, dead and buried long ago, we found it impossible to move on without ripping open the scars of our deep wounds.

With twelve years of unanswered questions fueling our desperate need for the truth, we must figure out if who we were will destroy who we are.

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I’ve had a hard time deciding on how I feel about this book. On the one hand, I loved it and thought Ryan and Quinn were adorable, but on the other, several things just didn’t work for me. In the end, I did love Quinn and Ryan together, I just felt like some things were built up to be more than they were.

I thought Ryan and Quinn had fabulous chemistry, both while they were in high school and when they reconnected as adults. I was happy that Ryan had somewhere to go, someone to lean on when he was floundering in a world that didn’t seem to care for him. Ryan’s relationship with Quinn provided him with so much more than just their connection, for the first time it seemed like Ryan had the support of a family behind him, even if it wasn’t his own. I loved that he got that, even for a moment, because my heart broke for how little love and support he got from his own family.

I’m happy that Ryan finally took a hard look at himself and got the help he needed to heal from the pains of his past. He needed it, and I don’t think he could have been a good partner to Quinn had he not dealt with all the ugly he’d lived with for so long. I’m on the fence about his forgiveness and relationship with his abusive brother, Patrick, though. I couldn’t forgive him, and it would take a lot for me to believe he is worth redemption. Same with their parents, they were neglectful at best, and I didn’t care how much they were proud of Ryan in the eleventh hour, they weren’t there for him when he needed them most.

I have just a few wishes for this book: first would be Ryan. In the first part of the book, it was easy to feel empathetic toward him because we saw everything he was suffering through. In the second part, though, it was harder to feel bad for him because it seemed like he had a pretty idyllic life and even the ‘big’ secret he’d been carrying around didn’t feel like it justified his woe-is-me attitude and anger toward Quinn for wanting to know what was going on in his life. I also would have loved to have seen Quinn stand up for himself more, in the few moments he did I absolutely love him, but he spent a lot of the book kowtowing to Ryan’s mercurial moods.

Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream.

Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.

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P.S. I Dare You by Winter Renshaw ~ Sarah A’s Review

Dear Ms. Keane,

Before this ridiculous little arrangement commences, I’d like to make myself indubitably clear: I know who you are, I know that my father hired you, I know why my father hired you, and lastly, your services aren’t needed.

In fact, I want no part of my father’s billion-dollar empire, and him “gifting” me with one of the “best concierges in the county” won’t change that. He’s wasting his money. You’re wasting your time.

However, seeing as how you foolishly signed an ironclad contract with an Act of God clause and my father has strong-armed me into taking this position, it appears as though we’re stuck together—at least until your contract is up next month.

That said, our time together at WellesTech should be relatively painless but please don’t fool yourself into thinking I don’t notice when that pretty little stare lingers a little too long or the way your breath catches when our hands graze. You’re fascinated by me and it kills you because you can hardly stand to be in the same room as me.

Think I’m a problem worth solving? An impossible riddle worth figuring out? By all means, go ahead and try. Solve for X. Crack the code. It might even be fun (but only for me, not you).

V/r,

Calder Welles, II

P.S. I dare you.

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While I did enjoy P.S. I Dare You; it didn’t quite stand up to the other books in this series. It was an entertaining, quick little read; I loved Aerin and Calder, and how they complemented one another.

I loved the concept of this book. I’m a little bit of a sucker for office romances, and the situation these two were manipulated into made it all the more intriguing. Add the less than idyllic childhoods – and the effect those childhoods had on Aerin and Calder’s personalities – and P.S. I Dare You was bursting with dysfunction. Aerin and Calder served as a great balance for one another, both in highlighting each other’s strengths and helping to overcome some of their weaknesses.

Aerin and Calder both had a lot of baggage they were dragging around with no idea how to let it go. Watching them, each learn to let go of the pain and find new ways to deal with the lack of true parental concern in their youths, was heartwarming. I loved how much they gave to one another simply by being who they were and allowing the other to have a safe, judgment-free place to fall apart when they needed it.

P.S. I Dare You is the third book in Winter Renshaw’s P.S. series. These books are standalones, with minor character overlap. They do not need to be read in order, nor does the series need to be read in its entirety. P.S. I Dare You is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Aerin and Calder.

My biggest wish for the novel is I would have liked to have seen more of the emotional connection between the character. It seemed like Aerin and Calder were either fighting or connecting physically, with little time spent working on the part of their relationship that would make it last. I felt like the book could have been a little longer and explored that dynamic more and still delivered a sweet enemies-to-lovers romance.

That was … interesting.
I have to admit, I expected her to throw herself at me today. I expected tension so ripe, we’d have no choice but to act on it—especially since we went all of Friday without so much as exchanging a single word thanks to my father hijacking my schedule. But what I got was a girl who showed up, did exactly what I told her to do, and kept her hands to herself.
I’m not used to this—girls with self-restraint.
But it’s for the best.
Over the course of the past week, my life has become unrecognizable. Throwing a few more complications into the mix won’t help anything. And besides, if I fuck my assistant, that makes me no better than the man whose shoes I’m being forced to fill.
I’m better than that.
She’s better than that.
And I meant what I said—I don’t fuck girls I have to see every day.
“Closing up?” the security guard asks, looking up from his Spiderman comic.
I nod, heading back to my father’s office to grab summaries and lock the door. Five minutes later, I hit the pavement, opting to take the long way home. I haven’t been able to run all week and my muscles are screaming from too much sitting. My body wasn’t designed to be this sedentary.
Popping into a little Eastern medicine shop off Houston, I grab this miracle balm one of my Olympic skier friends told me about. I don’t know what the hell is in it, I just know it smells like nothing and works like magic the instant I rub it into my skin.
I leave the shop and hook a left, passing a trendy Japanese eatery across the street called Kaio, where their waitlist spans months because apparently pancakes shaped like sushi is the next hot thing. A small outdoor dining area is filled with patrons, and the benches outside hold even more, all of them patiently waiting, noses buried in their phones.
Crossing the street, I glance back at the restaurant once more when something catches my eye. Seated at a table for two on the patio is Aerin Keane and an exceptionally handsome gentleman in green scrubs.
I watch them long enough to see him smile, her laugh.
She reaches across the table and bats at his hand.
He rolls his eyes.
They look like they’ve known each other forever, completely comfortable in each other’s presence. Her shoulders are relaxed, his legs crossed.
So that’s why she was so adamant about us not sleeping together again—she has a boyfriend.
I smirk, rounding the corner and getting the hell away before I start to care again, only ten steps later, I’m in the presence of an overly excitable blonde with flailing arms running in my direction.
“Oh my God! Calder? Calder Welles, is that you?” Thessaly Thomas, a socialite-turned-reality-TV-star I foolishly stuck my dick into in my early twenties, practically wraps her entire body around me, nearly letting her mint green Birkin fall to the ground in the process. “I can’t believe it’s you! How are you? Ugh. You look so good. It isn’t fair. I swear you look even better than when we were dating and that’s saying a lot because …”
Dating?
We went on five dates.
I’d hardly call that dating.
And the only reason I knew it was five was because she went all out for our “one-month anniversary,” hiring some C-list band to give us a private concert on the rooftop of her father’s pool club in the Meatpacking District.
“What are you up to these days?” she asks, hand on her hip and smile on her face. Her forehead is smooth, glass-like. And her lips are much larger than I remember. “What’s new?”
She asks like it’s any of her business, like she cares. But I see that thirsty look in her eyes. Rejection does something to you. It makes you want the things you shouldn’t have, the things you can’t have.
“You’re looking good. CrossFit?” She smooths a palm down my arm.
Thessaly knows she can’t have me, and God, does she still want me even after all these years.
“I was just telling Raya—you remember Raya, right? About how you took me skiing in Vermont for our third date. Do you still have your plane?” she asks. “A Cessna, was it?”
Her phone chimes twice, and she lifts a finger before reading a quick text and typing back an even quicker response.
“Sorry about that.” She peers up at me through fake lashes the color of midnight, and she’s still wearing that same dopey grin. “I can’t believe I ran into you on Houston of all places. Do you live around here now? I’m still on Lexington.”
She rolls her eyes, like she’s ashamed to live in a two-thousand-square foot classic six bought and paid for by her parents the day she graduated from NYU.
Thessaly is still talking, though I’ve tuned her out. Something about a mutual friend who thought they saw me in Paris over the summer. It’s kind of crazy, but all my mind can think about in this moment is Aerin smiling with that fucking Dr. McDreamy-looking tool. Her hand on his. Her eyes lit. Her body at ease.
God, she’s so easy to be around—even if she hates me with every fiber of her classy little being.
She isn’t like Thessaly or the other women that tend to hurl themselves at me. Those women have desperation in their eyes, insecurity in their smiles, and diffidence in their demeanors.
They just want me to like them.
Aerin doesn’t.
And I’d be lying to myself if I said that didn’t make me feel some kind of way.
“We should do coffee or something sometime,” Thessaly says, her hand swatting at my arm. It’s like she needs every excuse she can get to touch me. “What are you doing right now? You have plans?”
“Yeah, today’s not good for me.”
She pouts her Kylie Jenner lips. “Your number still the same?”
Indeed. “Yeah.”
Her pout transforms and she rises on her toes. “Great. I’ll text you and we can figure something out. It was great running into you, Calder. Glad you’re doing well.”
How would she know? I couldn’t get a word in.
Thessaly runs her hand along my arm one more time before readjusting her Birkin over her left forearm and giving me one of those cutesy girl waves complete with a shoulder shrug.
I wave back before continuing on my way.
Good lord, that was painful.
Almost as painful as seeing Aerin on a date.

Amazon

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Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

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NEW RELEASE!! A True Cowboy Christmas by Caitlin Crews ~ Sarah A’s Review

From USA Today bestselling author Caitlin Crews comes A True Cowboy Christmas, the first in a sensational series debut about a cowboy, a farm girl, and the greatest gift of all. . .

Gray Everett has a heart of gold but that doesn’t mean he believes in the magic of Christmas. He’s got plenty else to worry about this holiday season, what with keeping his cattle ranch in the family and out of the hands of hungry real-estate investors looking to make a down-and-dirty deal. That, plus being a parent to his young and motherless daughter, equals a man who will not rest until he achieves his mission. Now, all Gray needs is the help of his lifelong neighbor. . .who happens to have grown into a lovely, spirited woman.

For Abby Douglas, the chance to join forces with Gray is nothing less than a Christmas miracle. Much as the down-to-earth farmer’s daughter has tried to deny it, Abby’s been in love with stern, smoking-hot Gray her whole life. So when Gray proposes a marriage of convenience as a way to combine land—and work together toward a common cause—Abby can’t refuse. But how can she convince Gray that sometimes life offers a man a second chance for a reason. . .and that their growing trust and mutual passion may be leading to true and lasting love?

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I’m not usually the type to pick up a holiday story, especially one that isn’t connected to a story I’ve already read, but I am happy to have grabbed this one because the story was about so much more than Christmas. I loved the message of A True Cowboy Christmas, that love and marriage take work; it isn’t something you fall into, it’s a decision you make every day and have to care for like a living thing.

The beginnings of Abby and Gray’s relationship were anything but conventional.  But often the best love stories aren’t.  There is something to be said for how they came to be and how learning about a person, getting to know them outside all the pretenses of dating and social conventions can lead to something solid and lasting.  It was great to watch Gray slowly – then fully – realize the relationship he’d chosen for its practicality was so much more and had helped him find the pieces of himself that had been buried under years of mental and emotional torment.

The family dynamics played a huge part in this book, for both Abby and Gray. The mirroring, the contrasting, the understanding Ms. Crews used to demonstrate how very similar and completely different Abby, Gray, and all the other characters in this book were, was fascinating.  I was engrossed in how each character was formed by the toxicity of their pasts and how small differences in the people around them during and after those experiences molded them into who they were.  Watching them begin to shed the skin of the pains they suffered was beautiful.

A True Cowboy Christmas is the first book in Caitlin Crews’ Cold River Ranch series.  I loved this introduction into the world and the characters.  I am completely intrigued by the other brothers and by Abby’s friends, and can’t wait to see what Ms. Crews has in store for all of them.  A True Cowboy Christmas is written in third-person limited perspective, alternatively following the thoughts of Abby and Gray.

 

“Why would you try to tell me that chemistry doesn’t matter? Of course it does.”

“I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. But sheer stubborn- ness matters more.” He heard the intensity in his voice, but did nothing to temper it. “If people want to stay married, they do. If they want that marriage to be a good one, they work on it and make it that way. It’s not rocket science. It doesn’t require your online profiles. You don’t need to get matched on your smart phone. You make a commit- ment to someone, then you keep it. It’s as simple and as hard as that.”

He watched in fascination as her hands curled into fists at her sides.

“I appreciate that you have experience being married, and that gives you a platform to make sweeping state- ments,” she said, her voice low, as if she was fighting back her own intensity. “That’s great. But you’re missing that I’m not interested in the state of marriage in a general sense. I’m telling you I am not going to marry someone I have no chemistry with. That has nothing to do with me being stubborn, not stubborn, or insufficiently committed. It’s actually all about the fact that I’m not staggering around in a grief-induced daze, proposing marriage to people I’ve never looked at twice before in my whole life.” That should have annoyed him, because he wasn’t dazed. Amos had been a mean, unhealthy old man. His death hadn’t been a real surprise. Gray wasn’t sure he was grieving him so much as the father Amos had never been, and he knew he wasn’t crazy with it. But he couldn’t seem to lose his grin, especially when he moved closer to her.

Because when he did, she lost that scowl. Her eyes went wide, that cute flush brightened up her face again, and she had to tip her head back to look at him. Not as much as some of the other girls he’d dated had, as she’d pointed out. Gray liked that too. He didn’t have to hunker over her.

She was . . . right there.

He had an urge and went with it. He reached over and curled his fingers around her ponytail, then pulled them gently along the length of it.

And figured the chemistry question was answered by the way her breath went shuddery.

But he didn’t end it there.

“If I’m following all this,” he said, his drawl low. Thick. “You don’t actually have any objections. You think we maybe ought to date first. You’re worried we don’t have chemistry. But at the end of the day, you’re not opposed to the idea.”

“It’s crazy. And I’m worried that youre crazy, in a clin- ical sense.”

“If you agree to marry me, I’ll take you on a date or two. If that’s what you want.” His hand was still tangled in her hair, and he was close enough now that he could catch her scent. Gray breathed deep. She smelled like rosemary. And something that reminded him of the pies she and her grandmother had brought over the day after the funeral, warm and good. Right. “But we can settle the other question right here.”

“What do you mean . . . ?”

Gray didn’t wait. He didn’t answer her question, half stammered out with her hazel eyes so wide they looked like summer gold.

He used his free hand to cup her cheek, flushed and smooth beneath his palm. Then he bent—only a little, which struck him as unexpectedly hot—to take her mouth with his.

He felt her tremble. And there was something about the way she melted into him as their lips touched, then brushed, as if she was being pulled by some kind of magnetic force he was half certain he could feel himself.

Gray had only meant to kiss her to make a point. The way a gentleman might, not that he’d ever met too many gentlemen out here where the mountains and the land were the only things that mattered.

But Abby’s lips were soft and velvety beneath his. And she made a tiny sound in the back of her throat that he could feel like a flickering flame.

Before he knew it, Gray was angling his head to one side and licking his way into her mouth.

As if he couldn’t help himself.

And everything got hot. Bright. Impossible.

This was Abby Douglas. Abby Douglas. There was something deliciously wrong about it being Abby that made it hotter, wilder.

It rolled in him and made a joke of him imagining he was in control of any of this. Of her.

Of this sudden storm of sensation that would have taken him off his feet, if that didn’t mean he would have had to let go of her.

When the door slapped open, both of his hands were sunk deep into her hair, and Abby was up on her toes, pressed against him, her arms wrapped around his back.

It turned out Gray wasn’t going to have to worry about easing his way into some or other form of eventual chem- istry with the woman he already knew would make him a good rancher’s wife. He was going to have to worry about what the hell to do with all this chemistry—so much it was like a lightning storm and he kept getting hit—with a woman he’d never paid the slightest attention to until his father’s funeral.

The fact that the front door had opened penetrated the heat and fog that was swirling around him.

Finally.

USA Today-bestselling, RITA-nominated, and critically-acclaimed author Caitlin Crews has written more than seventy-five books, including FrenemiesPrincess from the PastA Royal Without Rules, and Undone by the Sultan’s Touch. She’s won fans with her romance, Harlequin Presents, women’s fiction, chick lit, and work-for-hire young adult novels, many of which she writes as Megan Crane (including the dystopian Viking romance Edge series). These days her focus is on contemporary romance in all its forms, from small town heat to international glamour, cowboys to bikers to military men and beyond. She’s taught creative writing classes in places like UCLA Extension’s prestigious Writers’ Program, gives assorted workshops on occasion, and attempts to make use of the MA and PhD in English Literature she received from the University of York in York, England. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with a husband who draws comics and animation storyboards, and their menagerie of ridiculous animals.

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The Boy I Grew Up With by Tijan ~ Sarah A’s Review

I have loved Channing Monroe all my life.

In first grade, he asked for my Trapper Keeper.
I hit him in the head with it.
Third grade, we were best friends. We kissed in seventh grade.
Eighth grade, he turned into a bad boy and the rest was a tumultuous storm.

Growing up, the problem was never love for us.
Bad times. Good times. There were times when I felt our love in every inch of my body, vibrating, making me feel like it could bring me back to life.

The problem was us.

The problem is that we’re from two different worlds now.
Fallen Crest and its millionaires for me. Roussou and their criminals for him. I was thriving in mine and he was running his.

But…

But there were nights I felt we couldn’t be further apart than we were, and there were nights I felt we shared the same heartbeat.

When was it time?
When was it time to either sacrifice, make a change, or walk away from the boy I grew up with?

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I have no experience with the Fallen Crest series – I know, shame on me, I plan on rectifying that oversight as soon as I can – but after reading Crew and seeing how much Heather and Channing loved each other I was ecstatic to get their story. I had no idea how long they’d been walking the precarious line between absolute commitment and devastation, after reading The Boy I Grew Up With and witnessing their story both in the present and through significant moments of their past I knew they had no choice in their fate. They were destined, their love preordained by something beyond their control.

I adored Heather, both in Crew and in The Boy I Grew Up With. There are few women who have the kind of innate strength she demonstrated in both books, and I didn’t even know a quarter of her story when I first fell in love with her. She fought for herself, even when the fighting she was doing was a little insane. She had the gumption to go toe-to-toe with one of the most respected and feared people in her town while retaining the sensitivity and empathy to recognize and care for the pain of the people in her life. Heather was extraordinary, and I was delighted to see her finally get the security and joy she so deserved in her life.

One of my favorite parts of The Boy I Grew Up With was the flashbacks to the beginnings of Heather and Channing’s relationship. Seeing those building blocks to the foundation of their relationship made me understand why they kept putting up with the pain they’d been through and were experiencing in the present. I loved how both Heather and Channing realized what they had together was meaningful and unique, and worth making sacrifices for. They both had to fight, forgive, and change their priorities to ensure their happiness, but the rewards the reaped from those changes were well worth all of it.

The Boy I Grew Up With is a standalone novel from Tijan. This book has ties to both the Fallen Crest series and her new Crew series, but none of those books need to be read to enjoy or understand this novel. The Boy I Grew Up With is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Heather and Channing.

I am still brokenhearted that I am so late to the Tijan game. I’ve read several of her books this year, and they are all fabulous. I love how seamlessly she seems to be able to move from an emotionally devastating book like Ryan’s Bed to books like Crew and The Boy I Grew Up With that are rife with intrigue and danger. She is well-versed in her craft, and her skill at bending the English language to her will is superb.

“What are you doing here?”

His arms tightened a little around me, and his hand rubbed over my leg. I was buck naked in his arms. I should’ve dressed, but I didn’t have the energy.

His breath felt good on my neck as he answered. “I was up with the guys. I missed you.”

Meaning: he’d either been fighting or drinking with the group of guys he considered more family than family.

I lifted one of his hands to inspect the knuckles, rubbing a thumb over them. “They don’t look bruised up.”

His body tensed, all six feet of pure muscle.

Channing had a face for the fashion runways, a body of tattoos that could appear in any magazine, and an attitude that made him a leader among the rowdiest and most criminally inclined. He was whip smart, ruthless, cunning, cocky, and had a charming side that had started some of our fights. He could be too charming at times, putting his name on a lot of girls’ to-do lists. It’d been a problem for us since we were kids, and though it’d gotten better over the last few years, I knew women came onto him regularly.

But being transparent here, that wasn’t the cause of our problems lately.

His voice was quiet. “I wasn’t fighting.”

I turned and tried to smell his breath. There was a slight trace of bourbon, but that might’ve been mine. “You don’t seem drunk either.”

He chuckled, his eyes studying every inch of my face. He did this when he was trying to figure out where I was going with my statements and if that’d take us into a fight. We acted like we were married and in our sixties by now.

His thumb went to my mouth and pressed there, softly. “I really was just hanging out with the guys. Cruz came over, said you closed for him. I gambled, thought maybe you’d be up—or not.” That dimple again. “I was hoping just to slide in next to you.”

I sighed, and his thumb caressed my cheek before his hand returned to my leg. I moved back, resting in his arms again.

Tijan is a New York Times Bestselling author that writes suspenseful and unpredictable novels. Her characters are strong, intense, and gut-wrenchingly real with a little bit of sass on the side. Tijan began writing later in life and once she started, she was hooked. She’s written multi-bestsellers including the Carter Reed Series, the Fallen Crest Series, and the Broken and Screwed Series among others. She is currently writing a new YA series along with so many more from north Minnesota where she lives with a man she couldn’t be without and an English Cocker she adores.

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Five Reasons to Go by Candace Knoebel ~ Sarah A’s Review

One day a week. That was his rule. And it was also our downfall.

My marriage to Hank was one of convenience. When I got pregnant at sixteen, he took me in and kept a roof over my naïve head. We had an agreement—we could sleep with whomever we wanted so long as our children were kept in the dark. It worked great… until it didn’t.

Cocky Jack Swanson was never supposed to be mine. His marriage was open, but his heart was guarded… until he slowly let me in, revealing an alluring man with a painful past. With him, I felt what love could be. I felt wanted… needed. I’d never wanted to fall in love… but then I did.

And now… the rules have changed.

Jack isn’t the same man I fell for. Broken and gutted from his divorce, he’s a shell of who he once was. Sullen and worn down. I know I can bring the good in him back out, if only he’ll let me in. If only he’ll just stay, instead of giving me all his reasons to go

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I loathed Jack in the first book in this series, Ten Reasons to Stay. He was godawful. I was convinced there was no way he could ever be redeemed in my eyes, so I was very leery about reading this book. I’m glad I did, and though I’m not sure I’d ever choose Team Jack over Team Corinne, he was able to win a piece of my heart I wasn’t sure I could give him.

I am exceedingly happy that the timelines of Five Reasons and Ten Reasons weren’t entirely concurrent. Jack needed redemption and I don’t think going through all the pain and frustration he cause Corinne and Cole would have allowed him the room he needed to overcome those wrongs. I was happy to see that timeline condensed into a few chapters where we got to see the first building blocks of their relationship, while not delving too extensively into the details of the demise of Jack and Corinne’s relationship from his side.

Jack and Jessica were lovely together. They were both so broken, especially once they reconnected, I’m not sure if either of them would have been able to pull themselves together had they not had one another. They gave each other the strength and support they needed to face what they’d been ignoring. Both Jessica and Jack had fabulous healing arcs in this story, growing from empty shells who were barely surviving to wonderful, thriving people who were full of life and love.

My biggest wish for this book would be some serious continuity issues being fixed. The first was the age of Jessica’s daughter, she went from being twelve (based on the years Jessica had been married) to two years later being 16, then back to 14. There were a few other minor instances, but the age was a huge mistake to overlook. There were also some other grammatical and spelling issues that need to be addressed.

Five Reasons to Stay is the second book in Candace Knoebel’s Risky Hearts duet. It can be read as a standalone, but there was a lot that happened in the first book, Ten Reasons to Stay that help put into perspective how much Jack grew from the beginning of this book until the end of it. Five Reasons to Stay is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Jessica and Jack.

One day a week—Thursdays—my husband and I could do whatever or whomever we pleased.

Protection was non-negotiable.

And no matter what, we had to be home by midnight.

Jack was the one who wanted an open marriage, but we were supposed to keep things simple. No strings. No commitments. It seemed so easy…until it wasn’t.

Devilishly handsome Cole Blackwater was only supposed to be a fling, but everything about him made me feel alive. Wanted. Seen. When I realized he was my husband’s boss, I should have broken things off right then…but I didn’t.

One day a week, I could pretend that I was his and he was mine…until Cole wanted more.

But how could I decide between the man I’d promised to love, honor, and cherish, and the man who tempted me to break every single vow I’d made?

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Candace Knoebel is a hopeless romantic with an affinity for whiskey and good music. Her love of words began when she met the boy who lived in the cupboard under the stairs. She’s a self-proclaimed Lost Girl. Words are her mirror.

With two completed series, her work ranges from paranormal to contemporary, all centered heavily around romance. Currently, she lives in Florida with her husband and two children and has just completed her thirteenth novel, The Taste of Her Words.

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NEW RELEASE!! Waiting for Autumn by JA DeRouen ~ Sarah A’s Review

Sebastian

“Race me for it.”
Four simple words. Five desolate years.

Sebastian Kelly believes he isn’t worthy of redemption, of a chance to right his wrongs. But an unexpected trip home, the place he dreads most, calls in question everything he’s come to believe. And who knows, he may find exactly what he’s been waiting for.

Autumn

One broken promise. Two pink lines.

Autumn Norris knew in an instant her life would never be the same. Years have flown by in a flurry of sparkles and dress up, and Autumn has refused to let the anchor of regret pull her under.

Until she lays eyes on Sebastian, and the wave of why, where, and how could you flood her every thought.

Old hurt and new betrayal twist first love into a reluctant partnership, and theirs may be a bond even pigtails and butterfly kisses can’t mend. But the past five years have felt like a lifetime, and Seb is willing to wait as long as it takes.

Because the truth is, he’s always been waiting for Autumn.

When I started reading this book I knew I’d read the story before; I just couldn’t figure out where or how. After some searching, I figured out bones of the story was originally published in an anthology at the beginning of the year, and I had loved it, even wished that Autumn and Sebastian would get their own story and I was not disappointed by the full-length version of their story at all.

Second-chance romances are my kryptonite; I swear there is just something so special about two people who have been in love rediscovering and rebuilding their love to be stronger than before and Ms. DeRouen delivered a beautiful love story for Autumn and Sebastian in both the past and the present. Their time apart and all that transpired to make it happen broke my heart, but it was so wonderful to see them come to terms with and overcome all of it.

I loved Autumn and Sebastian in their novella in the Begin Again anthology, and they were even better once I got to read their story in its entirety. Their love was so vibrant and true, even when they weren’t sure they could be together again, I knew what they had together was strong enough to prevail over all the sins of their pasts. Honestly, I think I could have kept reading about these two long after the novel ended; there was just something so magical and real about their relationship and how their story was told.

Waiting for Autumn is a standalone novel, with a tiny tie-in to JA DeRouen’s Over series, if you haven’t read the series, you’d never notice it. If you have read the series, it’s a lovely little glimpse at characters we’ve come to know and love. I would certainly love to see another book set in this world; I really think Autumn’s brother deserves his own story. Waiting for Autumn is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Autumn and Sebastian.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/jaderouen/playlist/1ULZ3WifAfJ0RSHMqK7WMc

ALP AuthBio2 Owl

J.A. DeRouen lives in South Louisiana with her husband, son (aptly named “The Professor), and her furry friend, Scout. She holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and nursing.

When she’s not writing or inhaling romance novels by the stack, she works as a women’s health nurse. She’s been an avid reader and daydreamer since childhood, and she’s never stopped turning the page to get to the next happily ever after.

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