Sex, Not Love by Vi Keeland ~ Sarah A’s Review

 Sex, Not Love a standalone Contemporary Romance Novel from #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Vi Keeland

My relationship with Hunter Delucia started backwards.

We met at a wedding—him sitting on the groom’s side, me sitting on the bride’s.  Stealing glances at each other throughout the night, there was no denying an intense, mutual attraction.

I caught the bouquet; he caught the garter.  Hunter held me tightly while we danced and suggested we explore the chemistry sparking between us.  His blunt, dirty mouth should’ve turned me off.  But for some crazy reason, it had the opposite effect on me.

We ended up back in my hotel room.  The next morning, I headed home to New York leaving him behind in California with the wrong number.

I thought about him often, but after my last relationship, I’d sworn off of charming, cocky, gorgeous-as-sin men. A year later, Hunter and I met again at the birth of our friends’ baby.  Our attraction hadn’t dulled one bit.  After a whirlwind trip, he demanded a real phone number this time.  So I left him with my mother’s—she could scare away any man with her talks of babies and marriage—and flew back home.

I’d thought it was funny, until the following week when he rang the bell at Mom’s house for Sunday night dinner.  The crazy, gorgeous man had won over my mother and taken an eight-week assignment in my city.  He proposed we spend that time screwing each other out of our systems.

Eight weeks of mind-blowing sex with no strings attached? What did I have to lose?

Nothing, I thought.

It’s just sex, not love.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

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Natalia and Hunter’s story was much heavier than I had anticipated. The ability to weave these substantial themes into books that are otherwise light fair is one of the things I most appreciate about Vi Keeland as an author. She continually surprises me with the seamless ways she pairs the levity of the characters personalities with the weight of their pasts.

Sex, Not Love is a stand-alone novel. It is told in dual first-person POV, by Natalia and Hunter. Several of Hunter’s chapters are flashbacks.

The chemistry between Natalia and Hunter was immediate and explosive. Even though this was a slow-burn romance, there was never any question of how amazing they would be together. I don’t usually care much for the slow-build love stories, but it absolutely worked in this book. Without having all of the time these two did to figure out what they wanted and needed, they could have easily imploded. As it was they built such an amazing foundation in the time they spent fighting their connection; it made the moment they gave in to their attraction incredibly poignant.

My favorite part of Sex, Not Love were Natalia and Hunter’s backstories. Their pasts colored their thought processes and reactions so profoundly; it was wonderful to see why. I deeply appreciated how those histories were told, too. Much of Natalia’s past was known from the beginning of the story, while Hunter’s was slowly revealed throughout the novel, had they been told in any other way I don’t think it would have had the same impact.

This is where I would usually post my wishes for a book. However, I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book. While there were times I craved the instant gratification of them being together earlier in the book, their story wouldn’t have worked out that way. Sex, Not Love was ideally paced and precisely plotted to best fit the characters it was written about.

Vi Keeland continues to impress me with her writing. She writes interesting, flawed characters and makes them highly relatable. Never have I had a difficult time putting myself in the shoes of her characters. The way Ms. Keeland builds her stories from lighthearted romps to the reveal of the heavy underlying themes always impresses me. She far surpasses my expectations with every book I read from her.

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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Ruthless King by Meghan March ~ Sarah A’s Review

RUTHLESS KING
Release Day October 17
Mount Trilogy Book 1

Get ready for the darker and dirtier side of New Orleans with a brand new alpha romance from USA Today bestselling author Meghan March.

New Orleans belongs to me.

You don’t know my name, but I control everything you see—and all the things you don’t.

My reach knows no bounds, and my demands are always met.

I didn’t need to loan money to a failing family distillery, but it amuses me to have them in my debt.

To have her in my debt.

She doesn’t know she caught my attention.

She should’ve been more careful.

I’m going to own her. Consume her. Maybe even keep her.

It’s time to collect what I’m owed.

Keira Kilgore, you’re now the property of Lachlan Mount.

Ruthless King is book one of the Mount Trilogy

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Last things first: Holy crow! That ending, I did not see that coming!  I have so, so many questions.  Meghan March gave us one heck of a cliffhanger in this book.  I’m going to be on tenterhooks waiting for Defiant Queen; I need it.

Lachlan Mount is an enigma; I have no idea who he is, really.  I can probably name the things I do know about him on one hand:
1 – he’s demanding
2 – he’s controlling
3 – he’s feared (for good reason)
4 – he’s a ghost
5 – he’s sexy AF
There have been little snippets he’s given us, clues as to what has made him into this terrifying, notorious, untouchable figure, but nothing concrete.  I do not doubt that peeling back the layers he’s made of over the course of the next two books will be a fascinating experience.

Keira is much more of an open book, she’s easy to read and has a hard time concealing precisely what she’s feeling at each moment.  She’s fiery and strong, and maybe exactly the kind of unbreakable Lachlan Mount needs.  I think I fall a little bit in love with her every time she stands up to him, even when she knows the type of person he is purported to be.

This book is decadent.  The world is so rich, the sultry New Orleans feel comes through even with the city playing little part in this book.  The imagery is rich and palpable; I could nearly feel the materials as they were described on the page.  Meghan March delivered some intense sex scenes without ever making them feel tawdry.  I hope this sinful opulence carries throughout the series.

Meghan March is a new to me author; she’s been on my radar for a while, and I have a fair few of her books sitting on my kindle but I’d yet to have the occasion to read one.  I’m sorely remiss for having not made the time.  Ruthless King was consuming, and each character had such a strong voice I was thoroughly entranced with them.  I will definitely keep Ms. March on my go-to authors from here on out.

 

Defiant Queen
Release Day – Nov 14, 2017
Mount Trilogy Book 2

 The Mount Trilogy continues with Defiant Queen…

I’m his entertainment. His toy. Payment on a debt.

I tell myself I hate him, but every time he walks into the room, my body betrays me. How can I want him and fear him in the same moment?

They told me he’d mess with my head. Make it go to war with my body.

But I didn’t realize it would be complete anarchy.

I should’ve known better. When Mount’s involved, there are no rules.

I will not surrender. I will not show weakness. I’ll stand my ground and make it out of this bargain with my heart and soul intact.

But he has other plans . . .

Defiant Queen is the second book of the Mount Trilogy. Mount and Keira’s story concludes in Sinful Empire.

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Sinful Empire
Release Day December 19, 2017
Mount Trilogy Book 3

 

The Mount Trilogy concludes with Sinful Empire!

What’s mine, I keep, and that includes Keira Kilgore.

It’s no longer enough to have her in my debt. No longer enough to own her body.

I want something more.

She can try to resist, but I’ll never give her up.

Nothing will keep us apart.

Not her. Not my enemies. No one.

Her debt will only be paid one way—with her heart.

Sinful Empire is the third and final book in the Mount Trilogy.

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Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, that’s exactly where I find myself.

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

Someone forgot to tell him that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A man born to protect

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

A woman driven to heal

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

A secret that will change both their lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Brody,” she began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Beautiful Mistake by Vi Keeland ~ Sarah A’s Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oops.  My mistake. 

Embarrassed, I slunk out without an apology.

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

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

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

I’ll be working under you…figuratively speaking.

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

This was going to be interesting…

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

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

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

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

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

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