Tuesday, 15 September 2020

He Owns My Heart - Evie Drae

He Owns My Heart
Evie Drae
(Owned Heart, Body, & Soul #1)
Publication date: August 11th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance

2019 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Finalist in Contemporary Romance

2018 Romance Writers of America® Heart-to-Heart 1st Place Winner in Erotic Romance

2018 Romance Writers of America® Gateway to the Best 2nd Place Winner in Single Title/Contemporary Series

Only true love can free a captive heart.

Landon Jenks, retired four-time Golden Glove-winning shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, is lonely, heartbroken, and in desperate need of simple human contact. Trapped in the sticky fine print of an ironclad contract that forbids him from revealing his very-much-single status until the season finale of his reality show airs, he calls an elite male escort service that caters to the rich and wretched.

Accustomed to servicing his often less than savory clients at more upscale locales, twenty-six-year-old Toby Carmichael is surprised when his handler sends him to a run-down motel off I-55. But “surprise” doesn’t come close to describing the shock that rocks his system when a delightful stuttering mess covered in tattoos and nearly ten years his senior stumbles into the room—and right into his heart.

For the first time since Toby was forced into the life of prostitution, a kiss sparks a desire that has nothing to do with money and everything to do with genuine chemistry and the faintest beginnings of something so much more. But Toby’s dark past and troubled present make it impossible to see a future with Landon. And when the truth comes to light, a horrified and helpless Landon is determined to save Toby at all costs.

Content Warnings: Discussion of childhood verbal abuse by an adult survivor, homophobia from a close family member, discussion of previous self-harm/cutting behaviors by an adult survivor, prostitution with dubious consent (all interactions between the main characters have full consent and there are no on-page depictions of dub-con situations), consensual and experimental Domination/submission play between mostly-novice characters, mild violence between a main character and antagonist, and human trafficking associated with illegal drugs (nothing explicit on-page, only discussions related to and psychological/mental ramifications of addressed in moderate detail).

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Author Bio:

Evie Drae is a registered nurse by day and an award-winning male/male romance writer by night. She has won first place in seven Romance Writers of America® (RWA®) competitions, including the prestigious title “Best of the Best” in the 2018 Golden Opportunity Contest. She is a double finalist in the 2019 Golden Heart®, in both the Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense categories, and finished as a second-place runner-up in four additional RWA contests.

One of Evie’s favorite things to do is encourage her fellow writers. To that end, she started the #writeLGBTQ and #promoLGBTQ hashtags on Twitter to support and promote LGBTQ+ authors and allies while providing a safe space to connect and grow as a community. She is married to the love of her life, is the mother of three wonderful fur babies, and runs almost entirely on coffee and good vibes.

Evie loves to link up with fellow writers and readers. You can reach her directly at EvieDrae@gmail.com or find her on her social media accounts listed below. Twitter is where she’s most active but be sure to check out her blog too. She focuses on reviews for LGBTQ+ authors and allies with the occasional quirky advice/recommendation post just to toss things up.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

My Review

I didn't realise when I started this that the book is actually the first in a trilogy that includes the same main characters. When I did discover this, I was a little concerned that I would be left with a cliff hanger and dying to know what was going to happen next. Although there is clearly far more of this story to come, it does actually reach some kind of conclusion that at least gives you a little breathing space and sanity while you wait for the second instalment.
The book itself has a huge amount of warnings about the content. While I think that it is important to warn people about what they may face, I think that some of these were a little unnecessary. Don't be put off thinking that this book is too heavy or too dark. Yes, there are darker themes and both Landon and Toby have faced some pretty bad stuff in their past, but the story itself still has it's lighter and more gentle moments. 
Toby and Landon make a great couple, there are moments where I'd like to grab them both and just tell them to keep talking to one another, but that's often the case with romance books. For the most part they do communicate well and consent is a big part of their story. Probably even more obvious for them, due to what they have both dealt with in the past.
Overall this was a really interesting read and I loved learning more about their relationship. As mentioned before, it's obvious that there is more to come for them and other things to deal with. But, I was still left with a contented smile when I reached the end of He Owns My Heart. Now it's just a case of waiting to see what will happen next for this well-matched couple. 

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Monday, 14 September 2020

The Billionaire's Betrayal - Carmen Falcone

The Billionaire's BetrayalThe Billionaire's Betrayal by Carmen Falcone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third book in the Highest Bidder series and the second that I have read. It works as a standalone novel and you really don't need to have read either of the other two books first. This latest instalment is a little different. The first two books are about women who decide to sell their virginity to the highest bidder. I'm not usually a fan of virgins taking their first sexual steps, but the book that I have read was well written and worked well. This time we are focused on Madam Alexa, who runs the virgin auctions. An ex-client died in a car crash after she should have been part of her auction and now her half brother Brookes is looking for answers as to what happened. When he and Alexa meet, the sparks between them fly.
There is plenty of heat and romance in this book. There are lots of quite full-on sex scenes, but they don't feel at all gratuitous and work well showing the heat and passion between our hero and heroine. Alongside this is also the mystery of what has happened to Brookes sister. There are a few surprises and plot twists here, although I had guessed where it was going by the time we reached there.
Overall this is a satisfying and entertaining read with a suspense element alongside the hot romance that builds between Alexa and Brookes.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Friday, 11 September 2020

A Whisper of Treason - Lynne Connolly

A Whisper of Treason (The Daring Dersinghams Book 4)A Whisper of Treason by Lynne Connolly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm reading the Daring Dersinghams series completely out of order, but I don't think that really matters. Having finished book one a week or so ago, I've now read book four. I'll have to go back for the others in the series.
This book deals with Delphi Dersingham and Adam, Duke of Kilsyth. Now that her triplet sisters are married, Delphi remains the only member of the Dersingham family who hasn't married. She did expect to be proposed to by the Duke of Kilsyth but he vanished without giving her word of where he was going and leaving her subject to the ridicule of London society after being abandoned. Now in Rome, to distance herself from the gossip, she finds herself back in his company and just as attracted to him as ever.
This is a fun read with treason and intregue alongside the usual romance elements. I don't know a great deal about the Old Pretender and Young Pretender in exile or Georgian history in general. It is a fascinating period though and added to the richness of this book. I enjoy historical romances as much fo the history as for the romance and this series has a great sense of time.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Machiavellian - Bella Di Corte

Machiavellian
Bella Di Corte
(Gangsters of New York, #1)
Publication date: May 8th 2020
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

I hungered to be seen.

There were three things I knew about Capo Macchiavello:

He was gorgeous.
He was reclusive.
He was considered one of New York’s most savage animals.

And he wanted me as his wife. A simple arrangement – you do for me, I do for you. Nothing owed, no expectations. Except for one: never leave.

Life was never that simple, though. By the age of twenty-one, I was parentless, jobless, and homeless, and I had come to learn the hard way that nothing was ever free. Even kindness comes with strings.

Capo might’ve been the only man to ever see me, but I had made a vow to myself: I would never owe anyone anything. Most of all, the man I called boss.

I killed to stay hidden.

Mariposa Flores thought she owed nothing to no one, but she owed everything…to me, the ghost the world had once called The Machiavellian Prince of New York.

Machiavellian is the first of three books set in the savage world of the Gangsters of New York series.

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Author Bio:

Bella Di Corte has been writing romance for seven years, even longer if you count the stories in her head that were never written down, but she didn’t realize how much she enjoyed writing alphas until recently. Tough guys who walk the line between irredeemable and savable, and the strong women who force them to feel, inspire her to keep putting words to the page.

Apart from writing, Bella loves to spend time with her husband, daughter, and family. She also loves to read, listen to music, cook meals that were passed down to her, and take photographs. She mostly takes pictures of her family (when they let her) and her three dogs.

Bella grew up in New Orleans, a place she considers a creative playground.

She loves to connect with readers, so don’t hesitate to email her at belladicorte@gmail.com if you’d like to reach out.

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My Review

Machiavellian tells the story of Mariposa and Capo. From the time that they first met, eighteen years ago, it seems that everything has been leading towards their coming together as a couple. Even if Mari has no memory of Capo, or idea of what he did for her when she was just a child of five.
This is quite an involved story and there's a lot of detail to get through in the opening chapters. I was worried that it might become bogged down in information and struggle to keep up any kind of pace. I don't mind admitting that I was wrong. The more the story unfolded, the more I wanted to know where this story would lead and how the plot would unfold. This is slightly on the longer side for this type of book, but there is so much to uncover and learn about that it's needed. There were a couple of things that I wasn't completely convinced about, but it didn't really matter, I don't read romance for complete realism. 
Capo is one of those rare scary/sweet heroes, with a heart of gold when it comes to his woman. Mariposa has strength and grit and despite all that, she has suffered a kind and gentle nature. They work well together as a couple and while I'm not always keen on the hero being the answer to everything for the heroine, without her doing much to solve her situation, this time I didn't mind.
This was a great read. Many of the supporting characters felt as though they had appeared in previous books, but as this is the first in the series and as far as I can tell the first from this author, I can only assume that she has been 'living' in this world for so long that they are all so well known to her. The second book in this series features Keely, Mariposa's best friend. I didn't really warm to her in this book, but that's often the case when it's not their story. Either way, I'll no doubt be checking out the rest of these books as they come out. A great start to a new series. 

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Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Calypso's Heart - M.C. Solaris

Calypso’s Heart
M.C. Solaris
(Orion’s Order #1)
Publication date: May 15th 2020
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

If you enjoy Psy-Changeling and Black Dagger Brotherhood, this new series is right up your alley!

Sexy shifters. Hot vampires. Intriguing immortals. Strong heroine. Sizzling romance. Page-turning plot full of emotion and excitement. Modern and fresh take on fated mates.

Caly

Do you dream of ridiculously hot men? Okay, maybe you do. (And yes, I’m well aware I should lay off the romance books before bed.) But do you actually ever meet those men you dream about in real life? I didn’t think so. That’s probably a good thing though because I have… And these men from my dreams have done nothing but pull the rug of reality out from under me… which was how I fell and ended up in a world that I thought only existed in romance books.

My name is Caly (AKA Callie) and I’m just an ordinary single woman living the LA dream… paycheck to paycheck. Except whose dream is it? I’m not really sure… but it’s not my dream. Especially because I have really weird dreams… like really weird. Then again, everyone has weird dreams, right?

Blake

I am an alpha wolf shifter and leader of Orion’s Order, a pack of… well, not wolves. We’re an unconventional pack of highly skilled specian hunters that do one thing: hunt the evil in our world. And we were hired by SILE (Species Investigative Law Enforcement) to hunt a bloodthirsty criminal who is infamously untraceable. That was until an irresistible female brought an unexpected twist to our hunt and set things in motion… a motion that has left my pack and our world forever changed.

Welcome to The Order and a secret world of magic and mystery, where a pack of unlikely friends find love and fight against an ancient evil force.

Devour this addictive series at your own risk…

+ Happily Ever After

+ Steamy Paranormal Shifter Romance

+ Multiple POV

+ Mature Content

———————————————-

CALYPSO’S HEART is an adult paranormal wolf shifter romance. If you like swoon-worthy males, heroines with feminine strength, an engaging plot, satisfying relationships, steamy love stories, happy ever afters, and getting sucked into a supernatural story, then you’ll want to immerse yourself in the world of species! 

You’ll feel right at home if you’re a JR Ward, Nalini Singh, and Dannika Dark fan.

———————————————-

“It has the elements you need – love, pain, heartache, action, revenge, some light comedy, etc. I thought the sex scenes were SPOT ON! Like damn those were great. I really felt immersed in it at times and I felt transported into the story.” ★★★★★

“The descriptions and imagery are on point. It’s easy to picture the characters and scenes. I like the multiple POV shifts to better understand and immerse myself in the character’s mind. The sex scenes are steamy and kept me turning the pages.” ★★★★★

“…if you are looking for a book that punches you in your face, right out the gate, with unrealistic action, tasteless sex scenes, and emotional turmoil, this won’t be it. Go watch Shameless instead. But if you are looking for something that unfolds at a pace that gives you time to decipher the characters, setting, and complexities of the story that is to come, then this is for you…” ★★★★★

“…at one point in the book, a group of characters are all introduced in a short amount of time. While this might not be standard protocol for fictional stories, it’s realistic. Trust that it was done with purposeful intent. Without giving away too much about the story, you get to learn about a pack of males in their environment, doing what males do…” ★★★★★

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Author Bio:

M.C. Solaris’s life took an unexpected turn during the super blood moon eclipse on January 20, 2019. She woke up and began writing bios for her imaginary friends that she met that day. As soon as the pen hit the paper (or fingertips to the iPhone), she couldn’t stop. It was kind of like one of those fire hydrants, spewing copious amounts of water all over the place. The characters and their stories just flowed out of her. She is honored to be the scribe, getting to share her friends’ stories. You can read all about her gifted friends in the Orion’s Order series (Book 1 is Calypso’s Heart).

On a personal note, M.C. Solaris is actually the pseudonym of Marina Schroeder, women’s health enthusiast and lover of all things paranormal romance (PNR) and happily ever after (HEA). When she is not curled up on the sofa with her partner’s oversized hoodie, a PNR novel, peppermint tea, and one of her three cats, you will find her either at the ocean with her toes in the sand or in a forest hugging a tree. Well truthfully? There is one more place you might find her: trolling the aisles of Whole Foods for a satisfying combination of salty and sweet while hiding in her partner’s hoodie… like any proper PNR-writing introvert.

Want to get the latest scoop, sneak peeks, and short shares all about her imaginary friends? Go to www.mcsolaris.com and sign up for the newsletter.
Welcome to The Order!

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram


Extract

Caly/Blake — Attraction

With her hand hovering over the door handle, her mind was flooded with thoughts of how she hadn’t really thought this through. She jumped ten feet up in the air when the door suddenly swung wide open.

Blake. Blake was standing there... in nothing but red boxer briefs. She swallowed at the unexpected male underwear model scene. Meanwhile, she was only adding to the scene by standing there in nothing but his white T-shirt which barely covered her butt. Nope. Not awkward at all.

He inhaled and immediately said, “Caly, what’s wrong?” His voice was low, morning gravel.

“I… I had a nightmare,” she admitted on a shy whisper.

Both Blake and his wolf liked that she ran to him when she was scared. He would protect her from anything and anyone. But he didn’t like that she was scared to begin with.

Still half asleep and on autopilot, he picked her up and held her close to his chest.

“You’re safe, Caly,” he reassured her and felt her body relax as she curled in closer. It wasn’t until he was a few steps into his current mission that it hit him. Walking Caly to his room in nothing but his boxers while all she wore was his T-shirt, which he most definitely approved of, was so not a part of the gentlemale plan. Fuck it. She needed him. Quietly shutting the door behind him, he made his way to his bed and gently laid her down.

Now what, genius? he thought, as his sleepy state faded away a bit more. He was just standing over her in nothing but his boxer briefs. Yeah, real gentlemale of you.

“Blake?”

“Yeah, Caly?”

Christ. He wanted to punch himself. Maybe that would knock some sense into him instead of standing there basically naked.

“Will you… Will you stay? Please?”

Okay... So, he wasn’t expecting that. But then again, she did come to him for comfort. He wanted to say, Caly, I will never leave you. But that probably wasn’t the brightest idea at the moment, considering the boxer brief situation.

“Of course," he said as his eyes automatically flicked toward the couch. Before he could command his feet to move, she peeled back the covers next to her and looked at him in question.

Gentlemale. Remember your gentlemale plan, he thought, sliding into the bed next to her and keeping a respectable distance.

That was when he noticed the light coming from the bathroom. Remembering what Caly said about it being complete darkness where she was held, he wanted to go round two with the punches. He was so used to being able to see in the dark that it didn’t register how dark his room was at night. He inwardly cursed. He should’ve thought of that. He decided he was going to rectify the situation and get her a night light. Actually, make that plural: night lights. Yeah, he was going to light up his room like it was a Christmas tree.

What are you doing? Caly thought. You’re now in bed next to him practically naked. Again, notice how he is keeping his distance? Congratulations. You’ve just breached the clinger scale and are now off the charts.

Laying on their backs, with eyes glued to the ceiling, they both stayed silent for several minutes.

“Blake?”

“Yeah, Caly?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable. I…”

Just come out and say it, McClinger Queen.

“I just feel safe with you.” She paused. “I had a nightmare about…” Suddenly, she had a lump in her throat. She swallowed.


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Saturday, 29 August 2020

The Couple Next Door - Rick R. Reed

The Couple Next DoorThe Couple Next Door by Rick R. Reed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not quite sure how I would classify this book. Is it a romance? A thriller? Romantic suspense? It's possibly actually all three, but it's also very different from anything I've read before. Right up until the very end I wasn't really sure how it was going to all pan out.
When Jeremy meets his new neighbours Shane and John, it's clear that there are plenty of secrets and problems surrounding them. As he discovers more about them he finds himself drawn further and further into their world. Can he really trust what he is told and learns about them?
Although there is romance here and it is that which drives Jeremy's connection to the two other men. The real heart of the story though is the life that John and Shane have been living for years. There are lots of twists and turns here. Although there are some elements that at least seem obvious from the beginning, there's still plenty to keep you guessing. I really don't want to say anything that might give away anything, so I'll leave this review here. I only really want to finish off by saying this is a gripping read that has you guessing right up until the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Eagles in Flight - Ramcy Diek

Eagles in Flight
Ramcy Diek
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: August 25th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Emma’s life changes the day Ruben Templeton walks in and asks her out on a date. Over dinner, she’s a little disappointed when his best friend, Jesse Kimball, joins them. Jesse is a senator’s son who just announced his candidacy for mayor.
Twenty-seven-year-old Emma is surprised, but excited when it’s Jesse who calls her the next day instead of Ruben.

Jesse introduces Emma to a life with mansions, expensive cars, cocktail dresses, and status. It doesn’t take long for him to sweep her off her feet. He’s handsome and charming, making her feel like the center of his universe.

When Emma receives devastating news, Jesse asks her to marry him. From the moment she agrees, their relationship starts to deteriorate. Desperate to understand why her new husband is so cold and distant, she reaches out to him, only to be met by anger.
Hurt and confused, Emma turns to Ruben for advice.

Ruben suggests they give each other space for a few weeks. Weeks she can use to help him locate his younger brother Axel, who has gone missing. Emma agrees, and soon finds herself on a road trip across the country.

Will Emma and Jesse’s temporary separation clear the distance between them, or will she find love in the arms of another man?

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Author Bio:

A long time ago, I fell in love with the United States while traveling around in an Oldsmobile station-wagon with my husband. We are both born and raised in the Netherlands.
Together, we eventually found our way to the Pacific Northwest, built up a business, and raised our two boys into amazing young adults with their own careers. During this time, I also made a slow transition from reader to writer of many different stories.

My multiple award winning debut novel "Storm at Keizer Manor" sets the bar high for my second novel, Eagles in Flight.
All my books are stand alone novels in different genres. You might be in for a surprise, or a disappointment.

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Review

When I first started Eagles in Flight I wasn't entirely convinced that I was going to be able to get into it. It wasn't long before I was hooked by the story as it unfolded. Although this is a romance novel, it's perhaps not a romance in the traditional sense of the genre. 
Emma is a librarian. She lives with her mother, who is wheelchair-bound and longs to see her settled and happily married. When Ruben, someone she knew growing up introduces her to Jesse, a mayoral candidate, she finds herself swept away in a whirlwind romance. All isn't as it appears though and it isn't long before Emma finds herself questioning what love really is and finding it in unexpected places.
Emma is a very naive character. It may not be obvious to her what is going on, but to the reader, I think that the motives of Jesse and Ruben are pretty clear. It even becomes clear fairly early on what their feelings are and why they are acting as they are.
The only thing I struggled with was Jesse's behaviour. He seems to act in one way one minute and then when we meet him later his character seems to have changed entirely. In fact, some of his actions make no sense in the context of his motives. Or they didn't to me.
Ultimately, this is a story with a happy ending and one that will leave you satisfied. Emma certainly deserves that happiness. If like me, you struggle with this one to begin with, then I urge you to persevere with what is in the end, a very enjoyable read. 

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