Friday, June 24, 2016

First Chapter Reveal: Conquering by Ryan Michele

Conquering (Vipers Creed MC #2) by Ryan Michele

Release: June 28, 2016
Type: Contemporary Romance, Motorcycle Club
Series: Vipers Creed MC #2

Wes ‘Stiff’ Collins lived life on the wild side. He worked from the moment he knew what the word meant, always making the best of every situation. There was nothing about his past he would change.

Without a real family except his brother Xander, Stiff joined the Vipers Creed Motorcycle Club, and they taught him what it was to have people he could depend on. When his past crashed into his present, he vowed to protect the club that had always been his steady, even if it meant turning his back on the woman who had given him life.

Chelsea Miller’s life was simple: work, take care of her family, and save for the future. Everything was about having a goal and a plan. However, when her sister ended up battered and bruised on a diner floor, everything she thought was in her past suddenly threatened her future. In a moment, she had a new goal, everything else be damned. She would protect her family … at all costs.

Stiff and Chelsea’s worlds collide in an explosion of determination, strength, and lust. Will they give in to temptation, or will conquering each other be too steep a price? Two people not afraid to put in the work will either overcome everything in their paths or finally crumble under life’s troubles they can’t escape, all in the name of family.

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First Chapter
“Chelsea, order up,” Charlie called from the back, slapping a plate of grub up on the window ledge of the diner.

I shook off my drowsiness, plastering on a smile and grabbing the food, never feeling the heat from the plate due to the calluses on my hands. They were rock hard, shielding my skin against any amount of heat.

At twenty-nine, I’d worked at Charlie’s Diner for thirteen years. Thirteen years of serving people with mediocre tips that had given me feet that, by the end of the night, ached so badly nothing, including soaking them in warm water, helped soothe anymore. Twelve hours a day, five to seven days a week would do that to any woman.

As my grams used to say, “Can’t get anywhere in this world if you don’t work hard” So, work hard I did, always.

I wasn’t complaining. I loved Charlie, the owner. He had taken me under his wing when I was a pitiful sixteen-year- old, and to this day was the only man in my life who had yet to let me down.

I had clean clothes on my back, food in my belly, and a place to crash. I had my sister, my grams, and my mother. What more could a woman ask for? Me, I wasn’t asking for anything. I was happy where my life was going. I had a plan. It wasn’t some grand extravagant one, but I had it and clung to it because everyone needed to have goals in their lives. Those could be small or large, but people needed something to reach for, work for, and take a hold of. Of course, this all came from my grams, too, but being a really smart woman, I took everything she’d said to heart.

I lived on the cheap and saved as much of my meager earnings as possible. I had a decent savings, but that did not stop me from working at every available opportunity. A dollar was a dollar, and no one knew how far a buck could take you.

My ultimate goal was to own my own home. The American dream, some might say. For me, it was about having my own, doing my own, and it being my way. Hard work and sacrifice would eventually get me there.

Paying rent every month on a beat to hell trailer when I could be making payments on something that would be mine didn’t sit right with me. Unfortunately, my credit was shot to hell by a no-good ass of a father.

I shivered with anger at the thought of him and tried shaking it out, but it was impossible when it came to that man.

When I was a teen, he decided to use me for a couple of credit cards. Okay, it was seven of them. No joke. He really did, to the tune of one hundred seventy-nine thousand dollars and forty-seven cents. He swiped and signed for debts he never intended to repay, all of it striking against my credit.

I, of course, did not find this out until I was nineteen and was denied a credit card I had signed up for, which I’d thought was unusual yet passed it off as being young. Grams being Grams, however, immediately set me on a path to checking into it.

When information came back leading to my father, I was crushed. We hadn’t been exceptionally close, but he was my dad, the man who was supposed to have my back. He should have protected me, not have done this to me. At least, that was what I had thought a father should do. I’d expected better of him, but I should have known.

Prosecuting my father for the theft still weighed heavily on me to this day. I only had two choices, though: one, not say anything and pay back all the money stolen, or two, I could turn my father in, which had been the only way I could get it expunged from my record and have the debt extinguished. I hated doing it, but really, the choice was made the moment he’d taken out the cards in my name. I couldn’t live with that huge weight on my shoulders. I had to bear it for a while when the courts had to do their thing: having creditors call me, looking for their money. And that was enough.

It took me some time, but the courts deemed him guilty, and my credit fell back in line. Thanks to a wise banker, I’d gotten a secured credit card with the little savings I had. Then, like clockwork, I made sure to pay it off.

Never missing a bill, I now had a very decent score to the point that if I saved enough for a down payment, a bank might take a chance on me. And I was almost there. I could almost taste my victory. It was another step in the right direction. “<em>Eye on the prize, always</em>,” Grams would say, and my eye was firmly set on loan equals home.

Unfortunately, that had been the end of my relationship with my father. I’d received a few not so nice calls from jail and a very nasty letter that I’d burned, never wanting to read it again. The little girl inside me, though, still yearned for a father, even if mine happened to be a douche.

After everything I’d been through, I took the lesson my father taught me the hard way and kept my name, social security number, and other personal information close to heart. I protected it with everything I had, kept an eye on it, and did routine checks to make sure no credit cards or loans were taken out under my name. Luckily, that hadn’t happened beyond the initial time, but I always had that fear it would.

Life was looking up, allowing me to tackle it and reach my goal.

As I walked across the black and white tiled floor of the diner, old man Darren looked up, a wide smile on his wrinkled face. The man had been coming in for years, and we had developed a friendly relationship.

“There’s my girl,” he cried out, pushing his coffee cup off to the side as I slid his food onto the table, the porcelain hitting the Formica table with a scratching sound. It was a sound I’d come to find comforting over time, though others said it hurt their ears.

“It’s nice and hot,” I told him, brushing my hands on my apron, feeling like something was on them, which was a job hazard. “Anything else I can get ya?”

He beamed up at me. “That smile of yours sure makes an old man’s day,” he remarked. Even though he’d told me that hundreds of times over the years, I felt the same heat creep into my cheeks.

“You make mine by coming in here,” I responded, trying to shake off the blush. “You good?”

“Some more coffee when you have a chance, sweetie?”

“Of course.” I spun on my heel, grabbed the coffee pot, and then topped him off.

The other tables in my section seemed good, so I began my prep for the next shift. I checked and filled the condiments, along with taking two more orders, delivering them, getting more drinks, and cashing out my tables.

Everything at Charlie’s was second nature to me, reminding me a lot of home. It did not slip past me that I thought of my job as home, but when you spent so much time in one place, it happened. I counted myself lucky to have this constant in my life.

Charlie’s was the hot spot in Dyersburg, Tennessee except for Tuesday through Thursday—those were blah. Hence, why tonight was blah, but a girl could use that every now and then. A rest from the go, go, go, even if it was almost a waste of time because the tips were scarce.

Charlie was into cars and bikes, so the entire place was decorated as such. His old plates off his cars and even handlebars from an old bike hung on the walls. I didn’t think some of the stuff actually came from him. Rather, he bought it to go with the theme. Regardless, the walls were covered in a rustic automobile motif, and I loved it.

With the night ticking away at a little past ten, Mitzi and I were the only ones working the floor. I’d worked with Mitzi for a couple of years. Our relationship was purely work-related since a lot of what I’d learned about Mitzi had turned out to be fake. I didn’t do fake; hated it. Therefore, working relationship only.

The bell above the door chimed, and instinctively I looked up from wiping down ketchup bottles. My stomach clenched.

Plastering on my wide smile, I greeted them. “Welcome, boys. Go ahead and have a seat anywhere you’d like.”

The air in the diner changed—it always did when they came in, which was regularly. The space felt smaller, closed in by their presence alone. They commanded the room just from stepping over the threshold. The farther they stepped in, their boots hitting the tile, the denser the air became.

For most people, waiting on a table full of four large men who were members of an exclusive motorcycle club would come off as a bit intimidating, but they tipped well. As a result, once they sat, I was thankful they were in my section.

When the Vipers Creed MC rode in, my pockets usually went from decent to way off the charts. I’d gladly let my knees tremble for the next hour to have that extra padding in my pocket. Not to mention, they weren’t hard on the eyes, either.

I steeled my spine, grabbed my order pad and pen, then strode over to the table.

Since I tended to keep my section steady with the regulars, it was no surprise to find Mitzi giving me the stink eye as I made my way to their table. She hid it quickly, flying under the radar with her perfect smile. She was good at that.

Four men sat at a six-person, speckled, white rectangular table. Each man took a post on the farthest corner. One was a man named Bosco who’d been coming here since I had started and knew nothing about how to wait tables. I even spilled a Coke on him once. I would have thought he’d blow up at me, but he laughed it off, and he’d been kind to me ever since. He had dark hair with some white scattered through it. His beard and mustache were so burly they covered up his mouth almost completely.

Across from him was a man I knew as Ben back in school, but now he went by the name Boner. I mean, really? What kind of name was that? Being a senior, he’d had no idea who my freshman self was, but that was expected considering I didn’t socialize much. He had light brown hair that normally was tousled on top like he’d run his fingers through it a million times, but today, he had a dark stocking cap on, covering his locks. He was handsome yet rough looking.

Next to him, one seat over, was a man they called Dawg. Yes, not Dog, but Dawg. My assumption was he played the field a lot. He had been several years older than me in school; therefore, he was unknown to me. He had dark brown hair that curved around his ears. A striking man who turned many a woman’s head.

Across from him was Wes, now known in our town as Stiff. With him being three years older than me, we hadn’t associated in school, either. That wasn’t to say my eyes weren’t wide open to him, because they had been … and still were. Then, he’d had the lightest blond hair imaginable, almost white. Currently, he had nothing. Completely, utterly bald, but it wasn’t the freaky bald you saw sometimes on men. No, this worked for him in a major way. Sexy, check. Hot, check. His beard was lightly colored and trimmed. Even as kids, Stiff’s eyes were magnetic, and some things never changed. They weren’t blue nor green. No, they were both, creating a swirling ocean inside them, sucking you into their depths.

Truth be told, the men were each their own brand of sexy, but not men a person should fuck around with. Stories had been told over the years about the Vipers Creed—hell, Charlie had some doozies. I didn’t need any of that in my life. I liked simple, and judging from the stories, they were anything but.

I would be happy to take their tip money, though.

A smile went a long way, so I put it in place as I reached their table.

“Hey, boys. What can I get ya?” I asked, standing behind the empty chair between Bosco and Dawg.

All conversation halted and their eyes turned to me.

My insides shrank a bit from the combination of their penetrative stares, but no way would I show that on the outside. Nope, I was Chelsea Anne Miller, and no matter what was on the inside, it would never show.

“Little Chelsea, how are ya doin’?” Bosco asked.

He would consider me little. I was five-feet- six, but anyone next to Bosco would be considered small. Nevertheless, I gave him a genuine smile. I mean, come on! If a man like him forgave you for dumping a pop down his shirt, it was a must.

“I’m good. Hanging in there.”

“Good. Can I get a burger with the works, onion rings, and a Coke?”

I wrote all of this down in my usual short script, nodding then turning my attention back to the table.

“Who’s next?” I asked, switching my focus between the guys, not allowing myself to linger on Stiff.

“I’ll have the tenderloin with onions, fries, and a Dr. Pepper,” Dawg answered, and I scribbled then looked up expectantly.

“How long have you worked here?” Boner asked, shocking me a bit. We hadn’t ever really conversed casually, but like everything else that life threw at me, I rolled with it.

“Thirteen years,” I replied then waited for him to tell me what he wanted. He didn’t.

“And you still fill out that uniform so damn well.” Boner whistled low.

I felt it coming, and then bam! Cue blushing cheeks. I had never been one to accept compliments easily. I felt a flutter, but it landed more on the shy side, not the hot and wet.

Charlie didn’t make us wear a uniform, really. We wore black pants, comfortable shoes, and a white button-down shirt—long for the winter, short in the summer. To me, what I had on was unflattering as all get out, but to each their own.

“Thanks,” I responded. “What do you wanna eat?”

Boner chuckled. “I get it, not interested. It was worth a shot.”

I kept quiet. Really, though? Not interested? While my interest in Boner was slim, that didn’t mean I was dead. I could see how attractive each of them were in their own right. Still, the thought of him even wondering if I was interested was strange.

“I want one of those hamburger horseshoes with a Coke.”

“Got it.” My eyes lifted to Stiff, and the air left my lungs in a whoosh.

Damn, those eyes were like laser beams cutting into me, swirling like a tornado, sucking me down. My heart picked up, thumping like a jackhammer, and it took everything in my power to stop my hands from trembling. While I might not be interested in Boner, Stiff, well, he just did something to me; had for as long as I could remember.

“What can I get ya?” I asked, hoping to God my voice wouldn’t give my rising temperature away.

“You on the menu?” he asked calmly.

I felt the blush slink back but ignored it. Stiff had always been a flirt—a huge flirt to anything in a skirt, that is. Even me. I knew he was just playing around, but over the years, there had been times I’d hoped he wasn’t. It was stupid and immature, not to mention utterly ridiculous. As my dad used to say, “You’ll never be anything. No man will ever want you.”

Some things, no matter how hard you tried, you never got over them. This was one. Those words were like brands on my soul, never leaving.

Instead of feeling the embarrassment or heat of the hot man flirting with me, I gave it back to him. As my grams said, “You have two choices: run away like an afraid, little rabbit or buck up, steel your spine, and hold your head up high.” Me, I held my head high. She also said, “Fake it till ya make it.” I lived by that motto every day. This situation was no different. My father might have branded me, but that was on the inside. No one could see it if I didn’t show them, which would never happen, so I faked it.

Jutting out my hip and putting my hand there, I said, “Nah, Sugar, but thanks for askin’.” I gave him a playful wink that took every bit of my strength. “What can I get ya?” I asked, wishing I had some gum in my mouth, as it seemed to taste like cotton.

He scanned my body, the heat from his gaze causing my panties to dampen, something that hadn’t happened in a very long time, mind you. And I continued to stare with an expectant look, even raising my brow in impatience.

Instead of answering me, he took his time, and it became difficult to breathe. He caught it and smirked at me.

I looked down, focusing on my order paper. Breathe in, breathe out, I reminded myself. A hot guy checking you out is not a reason for you to pass out on the floor, Chelsea.

“Burger, tomato, waffle fries, and a Coke.” He paused, causing me to look up from my order pad. “Add you on there.”

My skin practically burned from arousal, but I once again powered on. “Sugar, you couldn’t handle me.”

His lip tipped up, and I swore time stopped for a brief moment, allowing me to plug that one movement into my memory bank. Holy shit, it was sexy.

I hadn’t had much sexy in my life, but that was by choice, because men sucked. First, there was my no-good father. Then came the asshole who drugged me in high school and took my virginity. Yes, I knew who it was, but it couldn’t be proven. Therefore, nothing had been done. Then there was Steven, who turned out to be way into porn. Barry was next, and at the name, I should have put him in the “no” pile. I learned that one the hard way, too. So, you see, men sucked. I was better off keeping to myself and aiming for my goals.

Stiff scratched his beard while he studied me appraisingly. “Baby, conquering you would be a fucking pleasure.”

I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. Did he really just say that? Holy shit, he did.

Somehow, I snapped myself together and ignored his comment. How I did this, I had no idea.

“Anything else?”

“Nah,” Bosco replied, and I scooted away from the table right as I heard Bosco say, “Stop that shit, Stiff.”

“What? She’s pretty.”

My step faltered, but I regained it just in the nick of time. He said I was pretty.

I gripped the countertop, needing something to hold on to in order to ground myself. This was surreal. Definitely surreal. Sure, he’d flirted—hell, he flirted with every woman he could when in here—but to have that intense look then to call me pretty, that was just bizarre. Totally unlike the other times.

Regaining my composure, I put their order in and filled their drinks. Then I walked back to their table and began handing the drinks out.

“Coke,” I called out, getting a grunt from Bosco.

I continued calling out drinks and passing them around.

“How’s that sister of yours?” Boner asked.

This time, I smiled huge, and it wasn’t the one I plastered on my face every day. No, this one was genuine because I loved my sister more than anything in this world. Anyone honestly asking about her made me happy.

“She’s good. Almost done with college. I’m damn proud of her.” My heart swelled with emotion. I’d never been so proud of anything in my life.

Jennifer had always been so damn smart. Mom and I were lucky she had received scholarships, but even if she hadn’t, I would have taken on another job to get her through.

Jenn wanted college so badly. It was one of her goals, and she deserved every chance in life. She worked her ass off up there, having a job besides school. I still sent her running money, which she continually returned, becoming our game.

She was only a thirty-minute drive from here, but it seemed like a lifetime away. I missed her. It had been almost a month since I’d seen her last. Though we talked every day, it wasn’t the same.

Bosco whistled. “College girl. Always knew she’d do good.”

I nodded. “Yep, and she’s getting all A’s.” I knew I was beaming, because my cheeks began to have that twinge in them that bordered on pain from when you smile for too long. But you kept doing it, anyway, since you really felt it.

I looked over at Stiff and saw his eyes dead focused on me.

My smile wobbled a tad, but I held strong.

Stiff had always had that something—call it charisma, charm, badassness, or anything along those lines. Then again, it might just be my hormones considering getting laid was up there with getting a hole in my head. I had no time for either.

“I’ll be back with your food in a bit,” I told them, striding away.

While filling the mustard containers, my eyes would drift over to their table whenever I heard the barks of laughter between the men. Stiff snagged me once, but I smiled then quickly looked away. I mean, I couldn’t have him thinking I was staring at him, right?

The rest of the night went without incident, and as expected, I got a hefty tip from the boys.

About Ryan Michele
Ryan Michele found her passion in making fictional characters come to life. She loves being in an imaginative world where anything is possible and has a knack for special twists readers don’t see coming.

She writes MC, Contemporary, Erotic, Paranormal, New Adult, Inspirational, and many more romances. And whether it’s bikers, wolf shifters, mafia, or beyond, Ryan spends her time making sure her heroes are strong and her heroines match them at every turn.

When she isn’t writing, Ryan is a mom and wife living in rural Illinois and reading by her pond in the warm sun.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hot as Hell (Deep Six #.5) by Julie Ann Walker

Hot as Hell by Julie Ann Walker

Release: June 1st, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Deep Six #.5

Harper Searcy didn't want to fall for a soldier, but she couldn't forget her hot Navy SEAL friend or their one night stand. When the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan where she works comes under attack by terrorists, there is only one man she knows who would move heaven and earth to rescue her: Michael "Mad Dog" Wainwright.

Theme Song
Who has read Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights Ink. series? If you haven’t read the series and and you like romantic suspense, what are you waiting for!?! Seriously, get on that!

Hot as Hell is a little novella that actually precedes Julie Ann Walker’s newest series, Deep Six. I read the first book in the series, Hell or High Water, before reading this prequel so I really think they can be read in any order. Or you can read Hot as Hell as a standalone. And note: It’s FREE on Amazon!

I thoroughly enjoyed Hot as Hell. It’s a short little story that packs a lot of punch. Action, check. Romance, check. Steamy sex, check. HEA, check. Basically there isn’t a better way to spend an hour of your life. So, I’m going to highly recommend this book to just about everyone. I think you’ll notice Julia Ann Walker’s really fun and distinctive writing style in this novella. If you like the way she writes (off the cuff, funny, maybe a little irreverent) you’ll just need to go out and get yourself the other Deep Six and Black Knights Inc. books (I highly recommend ALL of them, though I have a special place in my heart for In Rides Trouble ;)

As soon as I read Hot as Hell the song “Hey Pretty Girl” came to mind. I’m not sure I see either Michael or Harper as country fans (maybe Harper since she’s Southern), but something about the lyrics of “Hey Pretty Girl” immediately made me think of Michael and the very end of this novella.

FYI: After reading Hot as Hell I need to go reread Hell or High Water before the next Deep Six release on July 5th! My copy is pre-ordered and I plan to do a review over on Straight Shootin' Book Reviews if my copy doesn't take forever to arrive.I hope you enjoy!

“Hey Pretty Girl" by Kip Moore
Hey pretty girl, it feels so right
Just like it's meant to be
All wrapped up in my arms so tight
Hey pretty girl, it feels so right

What did you think of Hot as Hell?
Are there any songs that remind you of Michael, Harper and their HEA?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Crossing the Line (Hard Driving #3) by Audra North

Crossing the Line by Audra North

Release: June 14, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hard Driving #3

He wanted her the first time he saw her. It didn't matter that he was on stage in front of a room full of reporters, or that his publicist was telling him to move on, or that she was asking him a question about racing. One look at her "just been bedded" hair — completely at odds with her deliciously prim appearance — and Ty Riggs is hooked.

Corrine Bellows is one of the woefully few women in a male profession: sports reporting. In a field where "Hey, sweetheart, can you fetch me a cup of copy" is part of her job description, she's determined to keep things professional. And while interviewing Ty Riggs, the hottest new driver on and off the track, is a major scoop, Corrine knows that she is in major trouble when it becomes clear that Ty wants so much more and is determined to get it. As things heat up between them, Corrine finds herself on shakier ground. Her big secret just may destroy everything.

Author Guest Post and Playlist
I'm excited to have author Katee Robert on the blog today to discuss her new book, Crossing the Line. Thanks for sharing, Audra!

Even though I write in silence, I do often have songs in mind as I’m creating a scene, so in a sense I have a playlist for every one of my books, and Crossing the Line is no exception. Since the book is about race car driver hero Ty Riggs, there are some high-intensity, fast and furious songs that I associate with this book. The heroine, Cori Bellowes, is a sports journalist with a secret. Ty finds her completely irresistible, so there are some sexy and sweet songs in there, too!

Here they are, in more or less chronological order:
• Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys
• Wild, Sweet, and Cool by The Crystal Method
• I Don’t Even Know Your Name by Alan Jackson
• It’s a Long Way to the Top by Iced Earth
• Don’t Wanna Fall in Love by Jane Child
• Because I Got It Like That by Jungle Brothers
• Right Here, Right Now by Fatboy Slim
• Since I Met You Baby by Ivory Joe Hunter
• I Try to Think About Elvis by Patty Loveless
• Danger! High Voltage by Electric Six
• I Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode
• Goodbye Says It All by Blackhawk
• I Told You So by Keith Urban
• Beggin’ by Madcon
• Forever and For Always by Shania Twain

Thank you for letting me share this playlist!

About Audra North
Audra North is a contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series from Entangled Publishing, the Hard Driving series from St. Martin’s Press, and the Pushing the Boundaries series from Samhain Publishing. She is the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards.

Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She is also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston .

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lovegame by Tracy Wolff

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

Lovegame by Tracy Wolff

Release: June 7, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary Romance, Romance Thriller, Erotica

True Crime novelist Ian Sharpe has spent his career writing about serial killers for very personal reasons. For his latest exposé, he is taking on the sadistic madman known as the Red Ribbon Strangler, and when his research leads him to Hollywood’s most private and provocative actress, he will break every rule to uncover her truth.

The daughter of one of Hollywood’s golden couples, chased by paparazzi and treated as a commodity her entire life, Veronica Romero wields her sex appeal like a weapon. She expects Ian to be as easy to control as every other man she’s ever known. But from the beginning, he refuses to fall into line. Mysterious and cool, challenging and just a little bit dangerous, Ian somehow makes her feel safe—even as he digs into the deepest secrets of her life and pushes her to the breaking point.

As raw ecstasy gives way to agonized truths, their dark obsession exposes secrets that have been buried for far too long. Ian wants to tear down her walls and heal the sensual woman underneath. But if Veronica’s learned anything, it’s that the line between pleasure and pain is a narrow one—and when caught between them the only thing that matters is how you play the game.

Holy fudge cake. My first thought after reading this books was, “what the f*ck just happened”. Seriously...what!?! I’m usually not a fan of dark, romance thrillers and I have to admit I thought about quitting this book quite a few times throughout the first five chapters. In the end, I really glad I stuck it out. After realizing this book wasn’t going to give me all the happy feels, I settled into the groove and finished this book in a few hours. Can I recommend this book to most romance readers? No. Can I recommend this book to people who like psychological thrillers? Yes.

Also...I know a few readers who aren’t a fan of epilogues and sometimes don’t read them. Everyone who reads this book needs to read the epilogue!

The Good

  • I found the dual points of view in this book to be challenging to navigate in the beginning. However, in the end they dual POVs really served the storyline incredibly well.
  • The thriller/mystery element of the book was really interesting. I felt on edge for most of this book and even after the mystery was solved, I kept going back to reread passages that led to the final conclusion. OMG OMG OMG.
  • I just really cannot deny that this book was beautifully written. From the specific words chosen, to the timeline jumping, to the descriptions of the characters and the sex Ian and Veronica have, this book felt incredibly lush. It’s so gorgeous and vivid.
The Bad
  • Even though we kept switching off points of view between Ian and Veronica, I felt like we got a much more in-depth look into Veronica’s perspective. We were almost skimming the surface with Ian. We heard a little bit about his past and what scared him but we didn’t do a deep dive into his motivations, his feelings for Veronica, or his psyche.
  • The sex scenes in this book all felt the same to me. We didn’t see to get any forward progress on them finding their own flavor of erotic, slightly kinky, sex throughout the course of the book. Whatever Ian did, Veronica liked. I wish we would have seen Veronica’s desires verbalized or even revealed a bit more as the book progressed
The Unique
  • I’m not sure I could categorize this book as a true romance. It was more a psychological thriller.The thriller/mystery part of the book filled up almost half the pages, so I would personally put it in a “strong romantic elements” category more than a honest-to-goodness romance.

I rate this book:

What did you think of Lovegame?

About Tracy Wolff

​New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Tracy Wolff collects books, English degrees and lipsticks and has been known to forget where—and sometimes who—she is when immersed in a great novel. At six she wrote her first short story—something with a rainbow and a prince—and at seven she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. By ten she’d read everything in the young adult and classics sections of her local bookstore, so in desperation her mom started her on romance novels. And from the first page of the first book, Tracy knew she’d found her life-long love. Now an English professor at her local community college, she writes romances that run the gamut from sweet contemporary to erotica, from paranormal to Urban Fantasy and from young adult to new adult.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Foolproof Love (Foolproof Love #1) by Katee Robert

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

Foolproof Love by Katee Robert

Release: June 6, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Foolproof Love #1

Bull rider Adam Meyer put Devil's Falls in his rearview mirror years ago and hasn't stopped running since. Now he's back-temporarily, if he has any say about it. Restless, he finds himself kissing the sexiest girl in town...and agreeing to be the fake boyfriend in her little revenge scheme. Jules Rodrigez isn't interested in the role of town spinster. Being seen with a hell raiser like Adam is the perfect way to scandalize the residents, make her ex jealous, and prove she's a sexy, desirable woman. And if their plan includes ridiculously hot sex-in public, of course-all the better. But this thing between them has an expiration date. Putting down roots isn't in Adam's blood, and Jules's roots in Devil's Falls are bedrock deep. He'll leave, even if it rips out his heart. But this time, he's not sure he'll survive it...

Review and Theme Song
Welcome to Devil’s Falls! Let me start off by saying this...Foolproof Love was way too short in my opinion. I wanted more time with Adam, Jules’ and the entire Devil’s Fall town. The next book in the series comes out in August, so at least we don’t have a wait horribly long for the next installment of this series!

The absolute best thing about this book was that I haven't read anything like it in a long, long time (see The Unique below). The small-town vibe of Devil's Falls was magnified by the locations and activities of the storyline. A bonfire and time at the swimming hole? Yeah, we don't get those types of activities in my urban area. But it wasn't just that the book was set in a small-town (we all can name a zillion of those books, right?); it was that the sweet, small-town setting was in such stark contrast to our really steamy, almost naughty love story between Adam and Jules. Sweet vs. Steamy. I loved it!

The Good

  • The fake dating and fling premises of this book made for a really fun love story. This book just made me feel good! Adam and Jules’ are such a great couple and watching them struggle to accept who they are and what they love was so enjoyable. This is the kind of romance I love to read over and over again.
  • A cat cafe? YES YES YES
  • As much as I adored Adam and Jules, Aubry and Jules were just as enjoyable to get to know! Aubry is the best kind of friend. She doesn’t take any shit from anyone and yet, she is still able to lend an understanding ear to Jules when she is in need. She is empathetic without being “soft”. She’s snarky and sarcastic and totally wonderful. I wouldn’t mind hanging out with her on a regular basis. I can’t wait for her book!
  • Foolproof Love and our introduction to this world has left me wanting more! More Aubry, more Quinn and more of this small town. This book did a great job of introducing us to this series and Devil’s Falls. We got the small-town setting, and the small-town scenes without diving too deep into the side characters and the town gossip that sometimes bogs down small-town romances.
The Bad
  • Totally minuscule, but I wasn’t totally satisfied with this ending. There was a HEA and the epilogue tied everything up, but I didn’t feel like grovel from Adam was sufficient. I would have liked a little more emotion and apology from him in the last few chapters.
  • I had trouble with Adam's past a little bit; more specifically, I had trouble with Adam's Mom and the baggage his relationship with her brought to the story. Although Adam and his Mom were very clearly a side relationship in this book, I really did not like how she treated Adam for most of the book. She kept him in the dark and made him think things about himself that just weren't true for a huge portion of Foolproof Love. I'm sure this is on the forefront of my mind now that I have a little one of my own, but Adam's Mom just rubbed me the wrong way!
The Unique
  • Cowboy romances are a thing. So are small-town romances. What I loved about this book was that Robert was able to combine the cowboy aspect with the small-town location AND have the book be super steamy. So often I feel like I small-town and dirty talkin’ heros/heroines don’t compute, or the book is done in a way that feels skeevy/unsettling. Perhaps Foolproof Love works so well in this aspect since Adam is returning home after being away for so long (so he doesn’t have a long list of past loves in town) or since Jules isn’t used to the dirty talkin’ thing, but either way, this book felt really intimate and cozy while combining some of my favorite romance elements.
The Theme Song
  • The morning after finishing up Foolproof Love I hopped on Spotify to find a few songs for the playlist. I had a few ideas of songs that I wanted to listen to more closely and explore lyrics of, but low and behold about 20 minutes into my task this song popped up. No other song is even really needed to round out general feel and HEA for this book. Thus, Foolproof Love has a theme song!

“Here Tonight" by Tim McGraw and Gracie McGraw

There's something in the air
There's something in the wine
That something's got me feeling
I ain't packing up and leaving this time
I'd rather be right here tonight
Oh, oh, oh, yeah, oh

I rate this book:

What did you think of Foolproof Love?
Do any songs remind you of Adam, Jules and their HEA?

About Katee Robert

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Harder He Falls (Kick #1) by Lynda Aicher

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher

Release: June 7, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Series: Kick #1

RITA Award finalist Lynda Aicher fires up a thrilling series featuring rugged men who play hard for a living. When it comes to one another’s hearts, they never back down—because behind closed doors, the games they play are very different.

Expert whitewater-rafting guide Grady Kelley lives for that rush of adrenaline: at work, as the newest employee of a Portland-based outdoor-adventure sports company, and off the river, where liaisons with anonymous men keep him satisfied. Grady prefers no drama and no strings attached, but when tragedy strikes, fate leads him to Micah Swaine. He’s hot, masculine, distracting—and offers the kind of deeper connection Grady has sworn off, no matter how badly he craves it.

Working at a leather bar, Micah meets a lot of guys, but Grady’s different—and he seems to feel the same way. The trouble is, anything beyond casual sex is too risky for Micah. He’s got secrets he doesn’t know how to share, secrets that would make any relationship a battlefield. No man, even one as compassionate as Grady, would stick around for that kind of trouble. And yet, as physical desire melts the walls they’ve put up, Micah and Grady discover that trusting each other is the most exhilarating adventure of all.

Character Study Playlist
Ok y'all...what just happened in this book!?! I'm still processing it all really. Grady and Micah's story was incredibly powerful, and complicated, and layered. Both Micah and Grady are dealing with some emotional and physical issues that have prevented their individual selves from getting involved with someone in the past. However, they can't seem to stay away from each other (and I kinda didn't want them too since the heat in their sex scenes was insane). In so many ways both men seemed "broken", but together they completed each other and found a safe haven. HIGHLY recommended for M/M romance readers and fans of diverse romance!

Individual Songs and Fitting Lyrics

I choose songs for playlists based on lyrics, musical genre and musical style. Below are the individual songs chosen for The Harder He Falls and the lyrics that led me to add the song to the list.

“No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age

And I realize you're mine
Indeed a fool am I
And I realize you're mine
Indeed a fool I

“Roll Up” by Fitz and the Tantrums
Sugar just step into your sneakers
And step behind the speakers
Your heart will keep me beating
And make me a believer
Don't you want me?
Don't you want me?
I need some mercy in my soul, come on
Give me what you got, oh oh oh
Give me what you got, oh oh oh

“It's Been Awhile” by Staind
And it's been awhile
Since I can say I love myself as well
And it's been awhile
Since I've gone and fucked things up just like I always do
And it's been awhile
But all that shit seems to disappear when I'm with you

“Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down
You called me strong, you called me weak,
But still your secrets I will keep
You took for granted all the times
I never let you down
You stumbled in and bumped your head,
If not for me then you'd be dead
I picked you up and put you back on solid ground

“Sugar” by Maroon 5
Your sugar
Yes, please
Won't you come and put it down on me
I'm right here, 'cause I need
Little love and little sympathy
Yeah you show me good loving
Make it alright
Need a little sweetness in my life
Your sugar (your sugar)
Yes, please (yes, please)
Won't you come and put it down on me

What did you think of The Harder He Falls?
Are there any songs that remind you of Grady, Micah and their HEA?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Everywhere and Every Way (The Billionaire Builders #1) by Jennifer Probst

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

Everywhere and Every Way by Jennifer Probst

Release: May 31th, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Billionaire Builders #1

Hot on the heels of her beloved Marriage to a Billionaire novels, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst nails it with the first in an all-new sexy romance series featuring red-hot contractor siblings who give the Property Brothers a run for their money!

Ever the responsible eldest brother, Caleb Pierce started working for his father’s luxury contracting business at a young age, dreaming of one day sitting in the boss’s chair. But his father’s will throws a wrench in his plans by stipulating that Caleb share control of the family business with his two estranged brothers.

Things only get more complicated when demanding high-end home designer Morgan hires Caleb to build her a customized dream house that matches her specifications to a T—or she’ll use her powerful connections to poison the Pierce brothers’ reputation. Not one to ignore a challenge, Caleb vows to get the job done—if only he can stop getting distracted by his new client’s perfect…amenities.

But there’s more to icy Morgan than meets the eye. And Caleb’s not the only one who knows how to use a stud-finder. In fact, Morgan is pretty sure she’s found hers—and he looks quite enticing in a hard hat. As sparks fly between Morgan and Caleb despite his best intentions not to mix business and pleasure, will she finally warm up and help him lay the foundation for everlasting love?

Review and Curated Soundtrack

I've been waiting for this book for years! Ever since finishing Nora Roberts’ Inn Boonsboro trilogy I've been waiting for and wanting more sexy contractors and capable heroines. If you love Roberts’ Montgomery brothers or HGTV’s Property Brothers go buy this book right now!

The first book in Jennifer Probst’s new Billionaire Builders series, Everywhere and Every Way, features Caleb and Morgan. We meet Caleb (Cal) right as he’s trying to save his career as a builder and his family’s business, all while rebuilding his relationships with his brothers. Morgan enters the scene a few chapters into the book as she is looking to Cal and his brothers to build her clients the house of their dreams. Morgan and Cal instantly feel sexual awareness between the two of them, but they resist due to their working relationship. Of course, the resistance is eventually futile. There was so much to love about this book!

The Good

  • Cal is the type of hero I think women actually look for in real life. He is controlling in some ways and very hard-headed, but he always has his family’s best interests at heart; he’s the perfect balance of soft and strong. So often I read heros that are appealing in book form, but IRL I’d have no interest in pursuing. Cal was different, he’s the kind of hero that so was “normal” that I could see myself knowing him (and having a crush on him) IRL.
  • Oh how I adore the the utterly competent heroine! From the minute Morgan stepped on the page I knew I’d like her. She’s sassy, caring and so damn good at her job. I think the best thing about Morgan is that we initially see her as this perfect heroine, pink hammer and work boots included. However, throughout the course of the book we begin to see the true Morgan, the Morgan that gets hidden away. I loved how confident Morgan was in herself, her “flaws” and her career. I hope that I can project that same sense of confidence to the world!
  • I appreciate that Jennifer Probst subtly acknowledged Nora Roberts’ Inn Boonsboro trilogy in the book. It made my heart so darn happy.
The Bad
  • My only wish for the book was that the heroine and hero got together sooner. The pacing of the book seemed slightly off since it took so long for the hero and heroine to actually become an item, but beyond that, this book was really entertaining in all ways.
The Unique
  • The “world-building” in this book was so beautiful. From the small-town vibe, to the amazing homes, to the awe-inspiring landscape, I wanted to crawl into this book, become friends with the characters and never leave. Probst paints these pictures of the scenery and characters that could be real. No ifs, ands or buts...this book was so true-to-life that it left me speechless in some ways. The emotions and pain of the characters jumped right off the page at me, and I felt for them like I don’t feel for many characters. The tears were aflowin’ while reading this book (particularly in the first and last few chapters)!
The Playlist
  • In one scene of the book Morgan takes over the work-site boom box to get some relief from the usual work-site tunes. Probst tells us that Morgan’s CD begins with Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”. Below is a curated soundtrack of what I imagine might be the rest of the track’s on Morgan’s work-site CD. Enjoy!

I rate this book:

What did you think of Everywhere and Every Way?
Do any songs remind you of Cal, Morgan and their HEA?

About Jennifer Probst
Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.

She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean. She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon's Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at