CUFFED by K. Bromberg ~ Sarah A Review

From the New York Times bestselling author, K. Bromberg, comes a new series about three brothers, the job that calls them, and the women who challenge them.

“I hate you. I never want to see you again.”

Grant Malone is not the reason I moved back to Sunnyville—at least that’s what I tell myself. Yet, those parting words I said to him back in third grade, ring in my ears every time a townsperson brings up one of the Malone boys. I thought time had healed my wounds. I was wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for how I felt when I finally saw him again.

Twenty years does a lot to turn a boy into a man. One who hits all my buttons—sexy, funny, attractive, and a police officer. But Grant is off limits because he knows too much about my past.

But I’m drawn to him. That damn uniform of his doesn’t hurt either. It’ll be my downfall. I know it.

What’s one night of sex going to hurt . . . right?

*** 

I’ve always loved Emmy Reeves.

That’s why I’m shocked to see her all these years later. The shy girl I once knew is all grown up.

Adventurous and full of life, she owns my heart now, just as much as she did back then. Convincing her of that is a whole different story.

I’ll give her the one night she asks for—like that’s a hardship—but when it comes to letting her walk away after, she has another thing coming. There’s no way in hell I’m letting her go this time without a fight.

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Occasionally I read a book that completely belies my expectations; this is one of them. Neither the blurb nor the cover begins to hint at just how heavy Cuffed is. I had expected an angsty friends-to-lovers romance, but this was so much more. It dealt with incredibly heavy themes and the fall-out from the choices that are made in an effort to help others.

After finishing the book, I found that I was unsure of my feelings regarding Emerson. Her past garners my full sympathies and motherly love, but her prickly, flighty, standoffish personality in the present makes it hard for me to understand her appeal as an adult. I know a lot of her behavior was a defense mechanism and perhaps part of her appeal is her refusal to commit to anything permanent, I just found her frustrating.

The Grant we got to know in the book seemed nothing like the Grant his brothers and partner talked about in reference to his past behavior with women. I’m glad we didn’t see that aspect of his behavior because it would have been off-putting. As he was in the book Grant was amazing. I loved how caring he was in relation to both the people he loved and the people he was entrusted to serve and protect. It was immediately apparent he was the type of person who would do anything it took to make sure innocent people are safe. He is the quintessential good cop.

Broken promises and rules were an essential plot point in Cuffed. Almost every significant development in both Emerson and Grant’s lives was caused by breaking a rule or promise. All of those broken things resulted in momentous life changes and new outlooks for both of them. I also appreciated how heavily the idea of trust and how people can manipulate it was used in Cuffed. It was interesting to see how all of these things that are easily broken were tied together in a story about taking the broken pieces of a person and knitting them back together into a whole and happy person.

I wish I had a better grasp on where this story was taking place, usually I can place myself inside of the world of a book but the locations in Cuffed seemed very disconnected to me. Perhaps a better handle on where Sunnyville is and where the primary locations are in relation to one another will come as the series progresses. I also felt like there were some storylines that seemed specific to this book but were never fully fleshed out; particularly the situation with the other person vying for the promotion Grant wanted with and their fathers. I hope to find out more about what went on there because it seemed to be a significant event in the Malones history.

While I had not read a K. Bromberg book before this one, it felt familiar, comfortable. Her writing was fluid and straightforward. It wasn’t a book that pushed my limits but one that kept me fully invested in the story. I’m sure I’ll continue to return to her books when I want to read something that makes me feel like I’m catching up with an old friend.

New York Times Bestselling author K. Bromberg writes contemporary novels that contain a mixture of sweet, emotional, a whole lot of sexy, and a little bit of real. She likes to write strong heroines, and damaged heroes who we love to hate and hate to love.

A mom of three, she plots her novels in between school runs and soccer practices, more often than not with her laptop in tow.

Since publishing her first book in 2013, K. has sold over one million copies of her books and has landed on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestsellers lists over twenty-five times.

In April, she’ll release The Player, the first in a two-book sports romance series (The Catch, book 2, will be released late June), with many more already outlined and ready to be written.

She loves to hear from her readers so make sure you check her out on social media or sign up for her newsletter to stay up to date on all her latest releases and sales: http://bit.ly/254MWtI

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

DIRTY LITTLE PROMISE

Forbidden Desires Book 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIRTY LITTLE SECRET
Forbidden Desires Book 1

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TORRID LITTLE AFFAIR
Forbidden Desires book
 3
December 11, 2017

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

iBooks

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

iBooks

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

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Perilous Trust by Barbara Freethy ~ Sarah A’s Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Because someone killed my dad.”

“It’s possible it was an accident.”

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

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

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

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

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

“What did they look like?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m not looking for an apology.”

“Aren’t you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the hell had just happened?

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

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

Someone was shooting at her!

 

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

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

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

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

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

Bullshit.

Words destroyed me.

“I’m sorry. She didn’t make it.”

“Daddy, he can’t breathe!”

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

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

Lies.

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

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

“He’s gone.”

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

“Hi. I’m Charlotte Mills.”

Available on Kindle Unlimited

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

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

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

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

The Darkest Sunrise (The Darkest Sunrise Duet, #1)
Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Originally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her four young children.

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

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

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Trust by Kylie Scott ~ Sarah A’s Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Anders overheard you and Hang talking.”

“Bastard.”

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

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

“Not funny.”

I shrugged.

“You barely know the guy.”

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

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

“No we are not.” And I retreated.

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

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

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

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

He said nothing.

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

He slowly shook his head.

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

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

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

“This is crazy.”

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

He screwed up his face at me. “Wha—”

“I’m just trying to be practical.”

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

“It does to me.”

Again, he said nothing.

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

“What?” I said, finally.

He let loose a breath. “I’ll do it.”

 

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

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

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Firefly by Molly McAdams ~ Sarah A’s Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think I’m in danger from you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there hadn’t been a girl since.

Not a second glance. Not a thought. Nothing.

Until one morning at Brooks a few years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

And this girl burned so damn bright.

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

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

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

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The Darkest Sunrise by Aly Martinez ~ Sarah A’s Review

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

Whoever coined that phrase is a bald-faced liar. Words are often the sharpest weapon of all, triggering some of the most powerful emotions a human can experience.

“You’re pregnant.”

“It’s a boy.”

“Your son needs a heart transplant.”

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

Lies.

Syllables and letters may not be tangible, but they can still destroy your entire life faster than a bullet from a gun.

Two words—that was all it took to extinguish the sun from my sky.

“He’s gone.”

For ten years, the darkness consumed me.

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

“Hi. I’m Porter Reese.”

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I don’t even know where to start with this book.  It was that intense.  Nothing I can say, no words held within the English language can adequately describe The Darkest Sunrise.  This is the kind of book I want to read for the rest of my life.  Dark, horrible, wonderful, extraordinary, EVERYTHING.  This book is everything I look for in a novel.  It tore me open and left my heart weeping.  The blood leached from my mind, body, and soul as the words carefully constructed on those pages flayed open the deepest parts of me.

I have read several excellent books this year, but none of them hold a candle to this book.  The heart-wrenching emotions brought about while reading The Darkest Sunrise are something I rarely experience while reading.  These weren’t your average sadness, anger, devastation; these emotions were beyond soul deep and I felt them in every cell of my body.  I know what devastating loss feels like and Aly Martinez was able to expertly find the strings that control those emotions and play them unlike many authors are able.

The Darkest Sunrise is a duet, so the story is not complete in this one book and it could not have been written any other way.  This book was constructed so flawlessly, so wonderfully, I can’t imagine trying to include more story in this book.  And all of those things, those acute feelings and experiences that made up The Darkest Sunrise, need time to come to terms with, to organize and understand.  I am dying to get my hands on The Brightest Sunset, but I know that the slow burn of waiting for it will make reading it all the more amazing.

 

The Brightest Sunset (The Darkest Sunrise Duet, #2)

Coming July 27th

Pre-order it Now

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You won’t want to miss this amazing series!

Originally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her four young children.

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

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

 

 

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Review Tour ~ The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry ~ Sarah A’s Review

Graham Russell and I weren’t made for one another.

I was driven by emotion; he was apathetic. I dreamed while he lived in nightmares. I cried when he had no tears to shed.

Despite his frozen heart and my readiness to run, we sometimes shared seconds. Seconds when our eyes locked and we saw each other’s secrets. Seconds when his lips tasted my fears, and I breathed in his pains. Seconds when we both imagined what it would be like to love one another.

Those seconds left us floating, but when reality knocked us sideways, gravity forced us to descend.

Graham Russell wasn’t a man who knew how to love, and I wasn’t a woman who knew how to either. Yet if I had the chance to fall again, I’d fall with him forever.

Even if we were destined to crash against solid ground.

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I am DEVASTATED this series (of completely independent stand-alones) is over.  Devastated.  Each book is so unique, each couple so wonderful, I fell deeply in love with each word and each story affected me deeply.  I am sure that these books are ones I will revisit when I need something that speaks to me on a soul level.

Graham and Lucy’s story was devastating and perfect in a way I didn’t even see coming.  They had both lost so much and continued to lose more than they deserved, but they let those losses mold them in completely different ways.  Their differences were the most beautiful part of their story.  Lucy was perhaps one of the most beautiful souls to have ever existed and she used the spirit that was inherently her to show Graham there was so much more to life than anyone had ever shown him.   Being on the journey with him as he learned how to trust, to open himself up, to truly love was a wonderful thing.

Just as important as Graham learning how to live and love was both Graham and Lucy learning that your family is so much more than the people with whom you share DNA.  I had no idea that the idea of family and the importance of that support system would play such an important role in this book, I am glad it did though.  The healing, the hope, the love Lucy and Graham needed to know could only be complete from people important to them in other roles of their lives.

After reading romance for years I found The Gravity of us to be wildly refreshing.  It didn’t rely on any of the tropes we’re so used to seeing, none of the devices to push a couple together that are used so often.  Yes, there was a little friction as Lucy and Graham figured out how to operate in the other’s comfort zone, but that is true for any couple that’s ever existed.  I appreciate how Brittainy C. Cherry slowly wove their souls and hearts together without ever taking the road that would have been arguably easier and more expected.

I’m in love with Brittainy C. Cherry’s writing.  I have read several of her books and each of them has imprinted itself on me in wonderful ways.  Her storytelling has a way of making me see things in a different light, of making me understand things in a way I would have never considered, it makes me feel like a more empathetic person.  With each word I read in her books I can feel the love she has for her craft and how she strives to make that art her own.  I can’t say enough about how deeply her writing makes me feel, but I will say that not taking the time to experience her work is doing a disservice to yourself.

 

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(Now ONLY 99¢!)
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Lucy

We didn’t know how to act with one another after our first kiss. Our situation wasn’t the norm when it came to building a relationship. We did everything backward. I fell in love with a boy before our first kiss, and he fell for a girl who he wasn’t allowed to have. Our connection, our heartbeats, matched one another in our fairytale world, but in reality, society deemed us as an awful accident.

Maybe we were an accident—a mistake.

Maybe we were never supposed to cross each other’s paths.

Maybe he was only meant to be a lesson in life and not a permanent mark.

But still, the way he kissed me…

Our kiss was as if heaven and hell collided together, and each choice was right and wrong at the same exact time. We kissed as if we were making a mistake and the best decision all at once. His lips made me float higher, yet somehow descend. His breaths somehow made my heart beat faster as it came to a complete halt.

Our love was everything good and bad wrapped in one kiss.

A part of me knew I should’ve regretted it, but the way his lips warmed up the cold shadows of my soul…the way he left his mark on me…

I’d never regret finding him, holding him, even if we only had those few seconds as one.

He’d always be worth those tiny seconds we shared.

He’d always be worth that soul-connecting feeling we created when our lips touched.

He’d always be the one I spent my nights dreaming of being near.

He’d always be worth it to me.

Sometimes when your heart wanted a full-length novel, the world only gave you a novella, and sometimes when you wanted forever you only had those few seconds of now.

And all I could do, all anyone could ever do, was make each moment count.

After we went home that night, we didn’t talk about it at all. Not the following week, either. I focused on Talon. Graham worked on his novel. I believed both of us were waiting for the right time to come up for us to speak about it, but that was the tricky thing about timing: it was never right.

Sometimes you just had to leap and hope you didn’t fall.

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

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Review Blitz ~ Mr. Moneybags by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Authors
Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

 I met Bianca in an elevator.

She was on her way to interview me when we got stuck.

The beautiful, raven-haired reporter assumed I was a delivery guy because of the way I was dressed.

She had no clue I was really Dex Truitt, the wealthy, successful businessman she’d dubbed “Mister Moneybags”—her afternoon appointment.

Bianca told me how much she hated Dex’s type—snobby, over-educated, silver- spooned men who didn’t appreciate the simple things in life.

So, after the elevator finally started moving again, I cancelled the interview and let her believe I was someone I wasn’t—a bike messenger named Jay. I loved the way she looked at the fake me and didn’t want it to end.

I began dating her as “Jay”—all the while letting her interview the real me over email.

I didn’t expect that our chemistry online would be just as hot.

I didn’t expect the mess I’d gotten myself into.

I didn’t expect that Jay and Dex would fall in love with her.

And she was falling for two men.

Only, both men were me.

And when she found out, we were both going to lose her.

Nothing could have prepared me for that day. And I certainly wasn’t prepared for what came after.

All good things must come to an end, right?
Except our ending was one I didn’t see coming.

Read the First Chapter here

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I’m not sure what I was expecting from Mister Moneybags but it wasn’t what I read, for sure.  Even as I write this I’m not sure if I understand why the book took the turns it did.  It felt… strange, off, forced.  Parts of it just didn’t work for me.  Perhaps because if an author is going to toe the line Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward did in this book, I prefer the book to go all the way there.  Also, because that little bit of tension that was thrown in at the end seems like it should have been enough to carry an entire book and I really would have enjoyed that.

Mister Moneybags, despite its tiny foray into the taboo, was a light fun read.  It was an interesting take on the rich man/average girl trope.  It was interesting to see Bianca have all of the power in the relationship despite the fact could have easily been overbearing and controlling given his position in the business and social hierarchy.  It was also very refreshing to see a person who’d been raised without wanting for anything be so down to earth and have the self-awareness to see when his privilege was coloring his perception of things.  I quite enjoyed the juxtaposition of what was expected from the characters with the reality of how they actually behaved.

I did have a hard time with some of Dex’s internal dialogue.  It seemed strange and stilted, and, to me, it took away from the experience of the book.  I am a firm believer in show, don’t tell when I read and this affected that for me.  While I know not everyone reads in the same way or even have similar thought processes, I would have liked to have seen these little asides dealt with differently.  I also felt like the first two-thirds, or so, of the book and the last third, though loosely linked by the common theme of deception, were almost two different stories.  I knew that it was meant to be the conflict leading to the ultimate climax of the book, but it just felt incongruous to how the story started.

Overall, Mister Moneybags was enjoyable and would be a great read for someone who wants to try something a little new, a little different, someone who wants to read a book that flirts with the idea of things not discussed in polite society.  I’d really love to see what Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward would if they threw caution to the wind and completely blurred the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t.

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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Penelope Ward

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of thirteen novels. With over a million books sold, her titles have placed on the New York Times Bestseller list fifteen times. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 12-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 10-year-old boy. Penelope, her husband, and kids reside in Rhode Island.

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Blog Tour ~ Only series by Cristin Harber ~ Sarah A’s Review

Grayson Ford and Emma Kingsley–close since they were kids, opposites in every way. He’s the stuff high school crushes are made of, Mister Popular, and captain of every team. She’s artsy, cute, and not in his league, though fully aware of Summerland’s “I Dream of Dating Grayson Ford” support group.

I can’t say no. The girl’s had my heart since before I knew it went missing.

He hides a life of hell. His father hates him, his mother’s gone. Emma is his only savior, yet she doesn’t know her power over him. She’s the only girl he wants, the only one he could ever tell–though he won’t.

I’m stronger, bigger, more of a man than he’ll ever be, but because I ruined his life, I’ve taken his crap, his attacks, the vulgar nature of his existence.

Until she discovers Gray’s embarrassment, his humiliation. Emma fights for him and for a chance. Theirs is a Cinderella story that she believes impossible. But as the layers peel back, it’s just a guy who needs a girl in order to keep breathing.

My mind is already doodling Mrs. Grayson Ford in imaginary notebooks. He has no clue where my head is at… But, given that I didn’t see what just happened coming, maybe I have no clue where his head is at either.

Only for Him. Only series, Volume One.

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The second installment in the Only series. Must read book one first!!

First loves never die but Grayson Ford comes close. Bleeding out in a war zone, he barters with God. Bring him back alive, and he’ll make it right with his girl.

All I want is Emma. I need her, and I fight for her memory. A story. A smile. Anything. But it’s all blank.

Emma is not his girl anymore. Time has skipped by and life’s been hard. She strips to pay the bills, waitresses to fill the hours between classes and her third job. All while working to be the best mama she can be to the little girl who will never know her daddy. Even though Grayson abandoned her, she mourned his death. Until he calls, and everything she knew was wrong.

It’s him. The him that ruined my life. That made my life. That confused my mind to the point that I can’t figure out if I’ve been destroyed or set free. The him that… is… dead.

He’s back with one objective–Emma Kingsley–and she never sees it coming.

Only for Her. Only series, Volume Two.

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The third installment of the Only series. Must be read in order.

Grayson and Emma. First love. True love. And… they have a daughter. Abandonment is his curse. He left his woman, survived his team, and missed the moment most precious to a father. Until now.

I didn’t know you were killing yourself with work. I didn’t know you’re raising our daughter. So help me God, had I known, there is no military force on earth that would’ve kept me from you.

Love needs to heal all, or they won’t survive the collision of their separate lives. Emma must reach deep into her heart that is barely hanging on and find forgiveness. Grayson, wrecked with PTSD-filled nightmares, must prove that he’s here to stay and able to rebuild his family against all odds.

I need to say I love you. But what I mean is I love you–in a way that defies definition and exists only in a world that you and I are in.

Only for Us.  Only series, volume three.

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The fourth and final installment of the Only series. Must be read in order.

There comes a time when Emma must face the secret she kept from Grayson. But she never thought it would be while she stood on stage at Emerald’s. The seconds she has to convey that her life is in danger are lost in the devastation that she sees rip through him.

She pinches her eyes closed. “Don’t leave me. No matter how mad you are, please, please don’t leave me here alone.”

But there’s more on the line than just Emma’s safety. There’s the danger that brought Titan’s Delta team in to the strip club in the first place. A threat that’s too close to home, too close to the family, the daughter and woman Grayson plans to claim.

I push away the sudden spring of fear. Life’s too unknown, with hidden enemies and unseen terrors. The idea that I could lose her again… it’s unbearable.

A love story like Grayson and Emma needs a forever love, and somehow they’ll find their way to her fairytale.

Only Forever. Only series, volume four.

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Only for Him

Holy Cliffhanger!  I am beyond grateful I have Only for Her to jump straight into.  I’m not sure my heart could handle leaving Grayson and Emma in the place we did for long.

Though this book was very, very short – by my standards – it was jam-packed with hard-hitting issues and emotions.  The book moves quickly and I found the beginning to be a little jarring, as the scenes and timelines switch so frequently.  It was immediately obvious the reasoning behind the swift timeline, I only wish I’d had a little more time to settle into the roller coaster that was the beginning of Emma and Grayson’s story.

I loved the dynamic between Emma and Grayson.  The balance they brought to one another, particularly the peace Emma gave Grayson when he so desperately needed it, was lovely.  The juxtaposition of nearly every aspect of their live gave an interesting dynamic to their coupling.  I particularly enjoyed the softness Emma was able to see and bring out in Grayson’s normally hard persona.

Cristin Harber wrote a hard-hitting beginning to her Only series in Only for Him.  When I first started the book, I was unsure of the writing but I because to engrossed with Emma and Grayson’s story I was no longer concerned with it.  I believe with a little time and devotion Ms. Harber won’t leave me even a brief moment to question her writing and it will quickly be on par with the stories she tells.

Only for Her

A little bit too sweet, a smidge too cliché, a lot sad, and altogether wonderful.  I freaking loved Only for Her.

The pacing of this series, thus far, had been great.  Its break-neck speed keeps me wholly engrossed in Emma and Grayson’s story.  It is so nice to not have chapters full of back and forth, will they or won’t they, everything is laid out quickly and plainly.  This writing style is perfection for a novella series.  I feel completely satisfied with the story given while desperately needing the next installment so I can continue finding out what will happen with Grayson and Emma.

I’m really happy Cristin Harber gave us the insight to what each of their liveswase like without the other.  I don’t think their reunion would have been so poignant without that.  There were moments, both before and during their reunion that made me heart hurt for them.  They had been through so much, I needed them to start to find healing in each other.  I can’t wait to see haw they deal with the fallout of finding their way back into each other’s lives.

Cristin Harber seems to have hit her stride in Only for Her.  It had none of the awkwardness of the first book and completely drew me in.  By the time I got to Grayson and Emma reconnecting, I was so engrossed in the story the rest of the book flew by without me even realizing I was nearing the end.

Only for Us

While I did enjoy Only for Us, it has been my least favorite book in the series.  There were a few moments that were great, but a lot that felt like filler.  It was fairly obvious, to me, this novella was primarily to set up whatever huge events will be happening in the final book.  Had this novella series been a single novel, I would describe Only for Us as the calm before the storm.

Only for Us may have been lacking in the intensity of the first two books, but there were several wonderful moments in it.  The best being those moments when Grayson is able to meet and interact with the daughter he never knew existed.  Those moments were among the best in the entire series.

Some of the scenes in Only for Us were likely the most important of the series.  One, in particular, was life-changing for Grayson, but I wish it was given more time and attention.  Maybe it was as brief as it was to show how little sway that part of the past held for Grayson, but I hoped for more.

Only Forever

I have mixed feelings about how this series ended.  I loved how Grayson and Emma’s story wrapped up, but I have SO many questions about Titan and Delta team and everything that went down with Emerald.  So. Many. Questions.  I think perhaps it was meant to be that way, as I’ll certainly be adding those series to my reading list.

The first third or so of Only Forever was rife with action.  So much so, I found myself having to go back and reread sections because I’d been so engrossed in the broad strokes of what was going on I missed the important details that were happening around the periphery.  It felt much like I’d imagine a situation like that being.  So much tension, preparation, and anticipation culminating in an intense burst of activity that is hard to take in all at once.  The way it was written perfectly captured the frantic pace of a high-risk operation.

The hope and healing that took place in the bulk of the end of the book was heart-melting.  The beauty of the moments in which Grayson realized Emma, Cally, Ryan, and the rest of the Kingsleys were always his family were incredibly touching.  Seeing him finally find the love and acceptance he always deserved was sublime.

Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She writes sexy, steamy romantic suspense and military romance. Readers voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was both a #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller.

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