Review: Seven Days (The Game Series, #7), by L. P. Lovell and Stevie J. Cole

Seven Days  (The Game Series, #7)Seven Days by L.P. Lovell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The final installment in the series, ‘Seven Days’ gives the answers that I’ve been craving. I have been completely consumed with these short serials, reading the entire series in a single day. Each one has kept me on the edge of my seat and none more so than this final serial.

While I had guessed the identity of Number 3 fairly early on, I was pretty shocked by his motivations. Talk about whiplash! I’m not sure exactly what these guys were thinking, but this was one seriously messed up game that they were playing.

Although I finally got the answers I wanted, I found myself left with new questions that I hadn’t pondered earlier on. Now that I know who was behind the game and why, I can’t help but want to know more. When did this game get started? Were the players always the same? Why on earth would anyone continue to play?

Nobody left me with more questions than Ella herself. After everything, I was perplexed by her final actions in this series. I had a serious WTF moment at the end.

That being said, this series was one hell of a ride. It was suspenseful, mysterious and erotic as hell. I never knew what was going to happen next. Even now, I wonder what the future has in store for Ella, Tobias and Preston. I anticipate that there will be a spin-off series to address those issues. I will definitely be reading it if that comes to pass.

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Review: The Bad Guy, by Celia Aaron

The Bad GuyThe Bad Guy by Celia Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love dark romance and stories with captivity themes are among my favorites. So when I read the blurb for ‘The Bad Guy’, I was sure that it would be right up my alley. I wasn’t wrong. It was just the type of “reformed” bad guy story that I love.

When Sebastian Lindstrom sets eyes on the girlfriend of one of his company’s executives, he is determined to have her by any means necessary. A highly-functional psychopath, he doesn’t conform to the social constraints of polite society. He sets out to possess her. Stalking, kidnapping and manipulation are all on the table.

Camille Briarlane has the “perfect” boyfriend. He’s patient and doting. She knows that he wants to take their relationship to the next level. She only wishes that she felt half as passionate about him as she did for her teaching job. She’s not sure what is holding her back, but something is.

When Camille accepts a job over Christmas break as a researcher in the Amazon, she has no idea that she’s walking into a trap. Instead of being taken to the airport, she is taken prisoner. The sexy man that she once danced with at her boyfriend’s company’s party has stolen her. It is clear that he is unhinged and will go to any length to have her. She only hopes that she can get out alive.

I should be clear that this book is far different from most dark romances with a captivity theme. If you’re looking for a really dark story with whips, chains and an abusive anti-hero, you won’t find it here. It just wasn’t that type of story.

Yes, Sebastian kidnaps Camille. Yes, he holds her captive in his family’s countryside mansion. At times she even fears him.

However, Sebastian has no intention of physically harming her. He comes off as determined to woo her and absolutely clueless about how to make that happen. He knows that Camille is the woman for him, even if he doesn’t understand “normal” emotions. He is sure that given enough time, she will come to realize that they are meant to be together also.

As messed up as the situation was, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Sebastian. There was an underlying vulnerability and even innocence to him that is hard to pinpoint. He didn’t feel things in the same way as others, but Camille brought out his humanity.

Eventually, Sebastian has to face some hard truths. He realizes that he cannot make Camille love him. The harder he tries to force her hand, the more she will slip away. He begins to grow a conscience.

Likewise, Camille has to come to some realizations about her life. Her “perfect” boyfriend is not so perfect after all. Right or wrong, she has feelings for Sebastian that she needs to evaluate.

Overall, this ended up being a great book. It is a standalone and didn’t leave me with any unanswered questions. It was different than other captivity-themed romances, but that only made it stand out from the rest. If you want a taboo love story that toes the line without leaping into “dark” territory, this is a great choice.

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Review: One Contract (The Game Series, #1), by L. P. Lovell and Stevie J. Cole

One Contract (The Game Series, #1)One Contract by L.P. Lovell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this serial was certainly intriguing! The first in a series of seven serials, ‘One Contract’ is attention grabbing and serves to set the stage for things yet to come. It has definitely got my attention. Although this story is just getting started, I’m very curious to see where it will lead. In fact, I know that I will be diving right into the next serial immediately.

The heroine, Ella Taylor, is really in a bad spot. After being dumped by her boyfriend for another woman, she is stuck in an expensive NYC apartment that she cannot afford. To make matters worse, she has lost her job. Facing certain homelessness, she is desperate.

Out of nowhere, she receives an invitation to interview. Despite the unusual manner in which she received this unsolicited request for an interview, she is intrigued. The invitation comes from a well-known billionaire that made his fortune as a result of developing a new social media platform. Without a doubt, she has to land this job.

After a brief initial interview with the billionaire, Tobias Benton, Ella is invited to a second, more personal interview over dinner. What Ella discovers is far more than she bargained for. She’s offered an opportunity that she isn’t in any position to turn down, no matter how uncomfortable it makes her.

Ella is introduced to Preston Lucas, Tobias’ partner. The two men would like for her to play a game with them for the next seven days. If she wins, she’ll get more money than she could possibly earn in years, much less in a week. If she lasts the entire seven days, she’ll still get paid a significant amount. Only if she loses does she leave empty-handed. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.

The two men promise that Ella will not be harmed, but it is clear that there is far more to this game than a little kink. She is expected to submit to them completely. She also isn’t allowed to ask any questions. The only assurance she has is that she won’t be damaged irreparably and that she will be given pleasure beyond anything she’s ever known.

As expected, Ella accepts this unusual proposition after wrestling with her morals. One super-sexy scene, and I’m hooked. I’m dying to know what these two are really up to. It is clear that there is far more at play here than just a kinky sexual fantasy. I’m definitely jumping right into the next serial immediately.

If you’re looking for a quick, steamy, erotic read, then this is a great one. It can easily be read in one sitting. It is the first of seven, but all of the serials have been released so you won’t have to wait before diving into the next one. I enjoyed every minute of this ménage short.

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Review: Ruckus (Sinners of Saint, #2), by L. J. Shen

Ruckus (Sinners of Saint, #2)Ruckus by L.J. Shen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in the ‘Sinners of Saint’ series, ‘Ruckus’ tells the story of Dean Cole and Rosie LeBlanc. I was a little weary going into this book because of Dean’s history with Rosie’s older sister. I wasn’t sure that was something that I was going to be able to get past. Fortunately, I did.

Dean Cole is a hard-partying, manwhore. He is one of the hotholes and is used to getting everything he wants. If he was a spoiled rich kid in high school, he has only gotten worse as a grown man. His life is one of excess to the extreme.

Yet, the one thing that he wants most is the one thing that continues to allude him — Rosie, aka “little LeBlanc”. Dean knows that he irreparably damaged his chances with Rosie when he dated her sister in high school. He knew all along that he was with the wrong sister, but didn’t do anything about it before it was too late. Now, he’s hell-bent on proving himself to Rosie.

No matter how hard Rosie tries to live a “normal” life, she cannot forget that she is seriously ill. Growing up with Cystic Fibrosis, her entire life revolves around her medical care, as do the lives of everyone in her family. It has been a long time since she felt like she was a real person and not just her diagnosis.

As much as Rosie wants to be “normal”, she is perfectly aware of her prognosis. She will die young and will most likely never bear children. For these reasons, she pushes others away before they get too close. She doesn’t want to begin a relationship that is doomed from the start, leaving heartache in her wake.

Rosie has perfected the art of shutting others out. She tells herself it is for their own good and she’s never regretted it. The only exception is Dean Cole, the guy she has always fantasized about but could never have.

Rosie and Dean have a long history of taboo flirtation and stolen moments. She loves her sister, but she felt like Dean was hers from the first time she laid eyes on him. When he chose her sister, it broke her heart. Even though her sister has moved on, marrying one of Dean’s best friends, Rosie feels like crossing that line would be a betrayal.

Now, Rosie and Dean are both grown and living in New York City. To make matters more complicated, Rosie lives in Dean’s building and witnesses his sexual exploits first-hand. Of course, he plans to use his position as her landlord to bend Rosie to his will.

When the two travel home for Vicious and Emilia’s wedding, the sexual frustration is at an all-time high between these two. Over the course of a few weeks, their relationship grows far more intimate and they become inseparable. Despite everything working against them, they decide to give a relationship a shot.

However, their relationship is anything but smooth sailing. Dean has some major demons that he’s fighting. Rosie’s health poses it’s own set of risks. Both of them have a lot of work to do on themselves before they can make a relationship work.

All in all, I thought that this was a great read. Rosie and Dean were perfect for one another, despite his past with her sister. I expected it to be a much bigger deal in this book than it ended up being. Although that seemed to be a little inconsistent with his reaction to Emilia and Vicious’ relationship in the first book, I just went with it. This story was hot and with just enough angst to keep me emotionally engaged.

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Review: Tailspin, by Jaimie Roberts

TailspinTailspin by Jaimie Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**I received an ARC from the author.**

It has been a week since I finished ‘Tailspin’ and it is still consuming my thoughts. Even though my emotions are still all over the place with this one, I’m going to try and capture my thoughts in this review. Who knows, maybe it will prove to be therapeutic!

This book completely and totally wrecked me — in the best of ways. I absolutely devoured it. If I had started it early in the day, I would have read it in one sitting. As it was, I started it in the evening and read well into the night. Eventually, pure exhaustion overtook me and I fell asleep with my iPad propped up on my chest. When it finally fell over and hit me in my face, all I could think about was getting right back to the story. It was that kind of book for me. The kind that consumes your every thought until you finish it…then continues to haunt you for days or weeks afterward.

Although this book has fast become my latest favorite, I will be honest about the fact that it will not appeal to many readers. In fact, I know that many of my friends will downright hate this book. Why? Well, it deals will some difficult and controversial subject matter. This book tackles topics like abuse, rape, addiction, mental illness, etc. If you require your books to be a “unicorns and rainbows” picture of perfection, then you should run far, far away from this one.

If you are like me though, and love it when a book can make you “feel” things that you may not even be comfortable feeling, then this book is exactly what you are looking for. This book made me feel conflicted, sad, angry, joyful, devastated. You name it and I felt it while reading this one. It has been a long time since I’ve read something that took me on that kind of an emotional rollercoaster ride. It blew me away!

There is nothing that I love more than an uber-a$$hole that may, or may not, be redeemable. I have a personal weakness for leading males that make you love them in spite of all reason. Devon Jackson is exactly that type of guy.

In real life, this is a guy that you should run from at all costs. However, for me, his character was fictional perfection. I could not get enough of this complex, damaged, guy. Oh, how I loved him…even as he broke my heart.

The heroine, Andi Bellingham, was Devon’s polar opposite. She was naïve, sweet and strictly off-limits. The younger sister of Devon’s best friend, Charlie, she is hired as Devon’s personal assistant as a favor to her brother. Of course, she has spent years lusting after her older brother’s best friend, but she knows that he’s out of her league. If Andi ever had doubts, the weekly condom runs that he sends her on and his mid-day office trysts drive the message home.

When I started this book, I thought it would play out like a million other romantic comedy types. Devon was an ass, but I couldn’t help but laugh at his outrageous antics. I was sure that I knew exactly how things would play out as he began to lose his internal struggle to hide his attraction to Andi. I kept thinking, “This is great, but I know where it’s headed.” I was wrong.

Then, about half-way through, there is a shift in the story. It took on a different tone. Again, I thought I had it pegged. Nope. I was still clueless. Nonetheless, I cruised along blissfully unaware of what Ms. Roberts had in store for me.

Suddenly, big things are happening. Huge, plot twists and revelations seem to spring up out of nowhere. My world was turned upside down as I looked back at all of the subtle warning signs and clues that were there all along. Ms. Roberts left a trail of crumbs, but I didn’t want to see them. I was blinded by my own hopes and expectations. Then, she came along and pulled the rug out from under my feet.

It was absolutely brilliant! I don’t want to give too much away, because this is a story that needs to be experienced. It is a story about obsession, love and forgiveness. It was painful, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have no doubt that this book is one that I will re-read, time and time again. I absolutely LOVED this book!

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Review: Convicted (Consequences, #3), by Aleatha Romig

Convicted (Consequences, #3)Convicted by Aleatha Romig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third book in the ‘Consequences’ series, ‘Convicted’ definitely takes the story of Tony and Claire in a new direction. Like earlier books in this series, I could not tear myself away. Even as I struggled to adjust to the new direction that this story was headed, I was completely enthralled.

This book sees Tony’s behavior transforming, as he tries to make amends for his past transgressions. Initially, I had a difficult time with the “new and improved” Tony. After all, he is one of the most controlling and manipulative characters I’ve ever encountered. For a while, I wondered if he had received a personality transplant. The changes that began in ‘Truth’, with regards to his attempts to respect Claire’s autonomy, finally take in ‘Convicted’.

All of the lies and deceptions finally come to light in ‘Convicted’. Some things were already known, some were suspected, while others were a complete surprise. Finally, all of the pieces come together and all of the players are revealed.

Tony is held accountable for his actions, at last. The tables are turned on him and he gets a taste of his own medicine. I had mixed feelings about this, but I think it was necessary in the end.

The danger is at an all-time high for Claire and her family. It seems that every time her and Tony start to make progress, something happens to wreck their happily ever after. This is especially true in ‘Convicted’. (Don’t worry though. It all works out in the end.)

The toll of the stress is especially tough on Claire. She is certainly changed in this book, almost unrecognizable for much of this book. It was very tragic in that regard.

Similar to ‘Truth’, the supporting characters in ‘Convicted’ play a major role. Some take on a nurturing, protective role. Others have their duplicitous natures exposed. Each plays a critical role in the story.

I am being intentionally vague because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone. This book brings everything full-circle. I cannot get enough of Tony and Claire. Every time that I thought I knew where this story would lead, Aleatha Romig would surprise me. This series continues to blow my mind away.

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Review: Dirty Filthy Rich Men (Dirty Duet, #1), by Laurelin Paige

Dirty Filthy Rich Men (Dirty Duet, #1)Dirty Filthy Rich Men by Laurelin Paige
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Laurelin Paige continues to blow me away with this series! I cannot get enough of this twisted, angsty love story. If I thought that ‘Dirty Filthy Rich Boys’ was addicting, I hadn’t seen anything yet!

The first full-length book in the ‘Dirty Duet’ series, ‘Dirty Filthy Rich Men’ was every bit as captivating as ‘Dirty Filthy Rich Boys’. I love this story and the constant push and pull between the characters. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next.

Donovan, in particular, has my rapt attention. He is certainly one of the most contradictory heroes that I’ve ever encountered. He is aloof, possessive and completely confusing. Naturally, I cannot get enough! I am appalled by some of his harsh and inconsiderate behaviors. I want to hate him, but I can’t. Like Sabrina, I am under his spell.

Weston also comes to life in this book. While ‘Dirty Filthy Rich Boys’ predominantly featured Sabrina’s fantasy version of who Weston was, this book introduces readers to the real Weston. Despite some less than flattering behaviors, I have to say that I really liked Weston. After all, he never pretended to be something that he wasn’t. Underneath his manwhore ways, he ends up being a pretty decent guy.

Sabrina has certainly got her hands full with both of these dirty, filthy, rich men in this book. My head was spinning at times. Talk about an emotional roller coaster! I was glued to the pages of this book.

If you love angsty, emotionally charged love stories, then you don’t want to pass this one up. I am hooked on this story! There are plenty of surprising twists and turns along the way that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Not to mention, it is hot, hot, hot! Days later, I’m still thinking about these characters and where this story might lead. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book!

As an aside, ‘Dirty Filthy Rich Boys’ is included as the prologue in this book. So, if you haven’t already read it separately, you’ll get the backstory with this one also. However, if you’re not sure if you want to pay for the full-length book yet, it is offered for free and you can get a feel for the story.

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Review: Crown of Lies (Truth and Lies Duet, #1), by Pepper Winters

Crown of Lies (Truth and Lies Duet, #1)Crown of Lies by Pepper Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yet again, Pepper Winters has managed to suck me in! In her trademark style, she slowly and meticulously weaved a story of romance, danger and intrigue. Bit by bit, the reader is given morsels of truth, while many facts and details remain elusive enough to keep readers guessing.

Elle Charlston is the heiress to a retail dynasty. Belle Elle has been in her family for generations and she stands to inherit the department store conglomerate. From a very young age, Elle has been trained to run the business. While other kids played with dolls, Elle perfected the window displays and learned how to best present merchandise. When other kids focused on basic geometry, Elle mastered complex spreadsheets and earnings reports.

Looking in from the outside, Elle seems to have a dream life. She leads a life of privilege and has everything that money can buy. Yet, she longs for all the things that money can’t buy.

She’s never had anything in common with the kids that she went to school with. Longing for friendship, she allowed herself to be taken advantage of by those who were only interested in what Elle’s wealth could do for them. Her father and her cat are the only “friends” that Elle has ever known.

On Elle’s nineteenth birthday, she makes an impulsive decision to sneak out into the city. She wants to spend one night experiencing life and exploring, without the protective oversight of her driver/security guard. She’s never been able to be “free” and do the things that other teenagers take for granted. For just one night, she wants to shed the uptight persona that has defined her for the entirety of her life.

Not long into her explorations, Elle finds herself in a very precarious position. Without her security guard, she has no protection against the dangers that lurk in the nighttime on the city streets. Having been sheltered her whole life, she lacks street smarts and is an easy mark for those who would victimize her.

Dragged into a deserted alleyway, Elle is robbed and nearly raped. If it weren’t for the bravery of an unnamed homeless man, Elle would have faced a fate far worse. Her unnamed hero saves Elle, beating her assailants and chasing them off into the night.

In the hours that follow, Elle walks the city with the man. The two form an unlikely friendship and eventually more. Sneaking into Central Park after-hours, they share a night of romance and adventure. Elle and her stranger share a kiss that will haunt her for years before their night is abruptly ended and the man is arrested.

For years, Elle tries to locate her hero unsuccessfully. Without his name, and only a vague physical description, she is unable to track him down. She never gives up though. She is determined that she will find “Nameless”, the only man who has ever sparked any interest in her.

Realizing that he may have sentenced his daughter to a life of loneliness, Elle’s father is determined to find a husband for her to help shoulder the burden of running the business. His repeated match-making attempts are futile. Elle refuses to consider the men that her father tries to shove her way. She is only interested in one man and she knows that she’s unlikely to ever find him.

When she overhears her father again trying to set her up with a stranger at a bar, she is appalled. Never has she met a more arrogant man. She’s outraged by her father’s behavior and this man’s cocky attitude. Drenching him in his drink, she leaves the bar certain that it will be the last time she ever has to face the handsome stranger.

As much as she professes to hate the man, she can’t seem to get him off her mind. It is the first time that a man, other than “Nameless”, has consumed her thoughts. When she runs into him, again, the sexual tension between her and the sexy, Penn Everett reaches an all-time high.

One thing leads to another and Elle and Penn begin a tumultuous relationship. The chemistry is incredibly strong between the two, in a love/hate kind of way. They can’t seem to get enough of each other, even as they each try to keep the other at arm’s length. It was incredibly hot!

While Elle is an open book, Penn is not. In fact, Elle doesn’t seem to know much of anything about the enigmatic man. All of her attempts to get to know him on a more personal level are shut down swiftly. Who he is and where he came from are a big mystery.

As the story progresses, pieces of Penn’s past are revealed. However, each detail only leads to more questions. Who is this man and what does he want with Elle really?

From start to finish, I could not get enough of Elle’s story. Admittedly, this book did start off a little slow for me. However, once I got going, I couldn’t put it down. Ms. Winters’ writing is impeccable and she never fails to hold my attention.

The characters were intriguing and the storyline had just enough danger to keep it exciting. I was particularly impressed with the way that Ms. Winters made Elle a personable character that you almost pity. Lets face it, a billionaire “princess” is not a character that most people can sympathize with. However, her kind demeanor and loneliness made Elle very human and easy to relate to.

Elle Charlston, her unnamed rescuer and the high-handed Penn Everett have completely consumed me. I think I know what happened, but Ms. Winters never fails to surprise me. I’ll have to just wait and see if I’m right.

I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book and see where things are headed. I am so glad that I won’t have to wait too long for the next book. The minute it is released, I’ll be all over it!

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Review: Capture (Elements of Chemistry, #3; Hypothesis, #1.3), by Penny Reid

Capture (Elements of Chemistry #3; Hypothesis, #1.3)Capture by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this conclusion to the ‘Elements of Chemistry’ series, we again find Martin and Kaitlyn separated. However, unlike the beginning of the second book, this time around the damage done to their relationship will not be repaired so easily. Deep hurt and betrayal have overshadowed what once was so good between these two.

Months after their break-up, Kaitlyn still cannot get over her heartache. Her life has changed drastically, as she made the decision to follow her dreams instead of trying to live up to other people’s expectations for her. Despite the positive changes she’s made in her life, Martin still haunts her.

When she runs into him unexpectedly at an event where she is performing, it all comes rushing back to her. Of course, it doesn’t help that he seems to be doing just fine. After that, the encounters become more and more frequent as Martin pushes his way back into her life.

Alternating between present and past, the pain of their break-up slowly comes to light. If you read the earlier books in the series, you knew how things ended between the two at the end of book 2. However, this book showcases the depth of the emotional pain and betrayal that Kaitlyn experienced. I thought that the alternating timeframes worked well for their story.

Just as Martin did what he needed to do to hold it together, so did Kaitlyn. Mainly, she just avoided all things Martin-related. She didn’t read any articles or news stories focused on his swift rise to success. She refused to hear anything about how he was doing or what he was up to. Out of sight, out of mind was her coping strategy.

The more time that the two spend together, the more clear it becomes that Kaitlyn is unaware of everything Martin has been doing while they were separated. Time and time again, hints that Kaitlyn is the one that broke Martin’s heart are dropped by friends and his business partner. Eventually, she’ll have to find out exactly what he’s been up to while they were apart. When she does, everything changes again.

Overall, this was a nice, sweet finale to this series. I enjoyed every minute of Martin and Kaitlyn’s story. It was fun, sweet and kept me smiling. If you’re looking for a light-hearted, humorous series, this is a fantastic choice.

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Review: Heat (Elements of Chemistry, #2; Hypothesis, #1.2), by Penny Reid

Heat (Elements of Chemistry #2; Hypothesis, #1.2)Heat by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the shocking ending of the first serial, I wasn’t sure where Kaitlyn and Martin’s story was going to lead. However, ‘Heat’ picks up right were ‘Attraction’ left off, so you won’t be left hanging for long. In fact, this book featured one of the quickest resolutions to a big conflict that I’ve ever encountered. It was even a little anti-climactic for me, as I love the grovel.

That being said, I still enjoyed this book immensely. Kaitlyn never gets old. Her quirky, but endearing, antics kept me laughing again and Martin is just the guy to balance out her light-hearted personality.

This installment highlights the change in their relationship from friends to lovers. The intimacy between the two is incredible and there is plenty of sexiness. For most of this book, they are blissfully happy and inseparable.

Then, things go bad. I knew it would happen, but it was still painful to bear witness to. Expect another big cliffhanger that will leave you clamoring for the third installment.

Overall, this is still a fabulous series. I love the push/pull between Kaitlyn and Martin. After finishing this one, I had to dive into the last book immediately. I just couldn’t get enough of these two!

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