Pre-Review: Tailspin, by Jaimie Roberts (Expected Release Date: 06/20/17)

TAILSPINTAILSPIN by Jaimie Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has wrecked me! I can’t even begin to make sense of all my emotions right now. I’m angry, devastated, completely gutted and heartbroken. I’m so damn conflicted! This story…argh! It really hit me in the “feels”.

Full review to come once I’m able to get a grip. Seriously! I devoured this book and I’m a total mess right now.

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

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Review: Forbidden, by Tabatha Suzama

ForbiddenForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! That was some deeply disturbing and super depressing stuff. I’m thinking this was somewhere between a 3 1/2 and a 4 star read for me. This one will take some time to digest. In fact, as I write this review days later I’m still not sure exactly what to make of this story.

Lochan and Maya have been forced to grow up too quickly. As the oldest, these two siblings have had to take on the responsibility of raising their three younger siblings. Their drunken, deadbeat mother breezes in and out of their lives when she chooses, leaving all of the day to day responsibilities up to her two oldest children. As a result, Lochan and Maya have a relationship that more closely resembles that of a husband and wife than that of a brother and sister.

Since I knew where this story was heading from the start, I wasn’t surprised at all when the siblings’ relationship started to take on a more romantic feel. However, I was incredibly surprised when I found myself rooting for them as a couple. Going into this book, part of me had convinced myself that they were going to be step-siblings or half-siblings or some other relation that would somehow lessen the taboo nature of their relationship. That wasn’t the case and I had to deal with some very uncomfortable feelings. It was so wrong, but they were just so damn right for each other at the same time.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’d be right too. Awkward, right? I’m going to get it out and just say what we’re all thinking, “Ew!” I’m not going to try and deny that this was some seriously messed up stuff. Just the thought of incest makes me cringe. To say the least, this was a very uncomfortable read as a result.

Nonetheless, I found myself hoping that Lochan and Maya would somehow get a HEA. Even as I knew it was totally improbable, I wanted them to be happy. No teenagers ever deserved happiness more than these two. They bore the weight of the world on their shoulders. Right to the end, they sacrificed for their younger siblings.

Of course, this is not that kind of story. This is the type of story that you go into knowing that it will break your heart…and it does. I cried big, fate tears and probably went through half a box of Kleenex while reading this story.

Aptly titled, ‘Forbidden’ is taboo and controversial. While I won’t try to justify incest, consensual or not, I will say that this story was a heartbreakingly beautiful love story. You will fall in love with each of the siblings, as you hate their worthless mother. You’ll respect Lochan and Maya for their strength and dedication to their family. You will feel their love, anger, and desperation, even as you curse the injustice of it all. No way around it, you will FEEL while reading this story.

As much as anything else, this story made me feel conflicted. I usually don’t waver much in my convictions. However, this book made me question my values and morals. I found myself pondering “what if” more than I was comfortable with. Days later, I have to say that this story still has me feeling unsettled.

Will it make you highly uncomfortable? Yes. Would I recommend it? Absolutely! In my opinion, the books that challenge the status quo and make me look at life through a different lens are the best kinds of books. Agree or disagree, but consider alternate viewpoints. Books like this aren’t necessarily there to change what you believe, so much as they are there to make you examine why you believe what you do and consider other perspectives. Are there situations in which there should be exceptions to some steadfast rules of morality? This book will make you think about that type of thing.

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Review: The Man I Love (The Fish Tales, #1), by Suanne Laqueur

The Man I Love (The Fish Tales, #1)The Man I Love by Suanne Laqueur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading ‘An Exhaltation of Larks’, I knew that I wanted to read every book written by Ms. Suanne Laqueur. Her writing is exquisite. The stories and characters that she brings to life are raw and emotional, heartbreaking and inspiring. I’ve definitely gone a little “fangirl” where she is concerned!

‘The Man I Love’ tells the story of a close-knit group of friends at Lancaster University. In many ways it is a coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a terrible tragedy. They were young and carefree until the unthinkable happens. Then, this group of friends struggles to survive in the aftermath of a terrible attack.

Each of them copes with the trauma in a different way. As young, college students, they don’t appreciate the need to seek out professional help. All of them develop some destructive behaviors. In the months and years that follow they fall into a downward spiral, nearly destroying themselves and their relationships with those that they love.

No relationship undergoes more strain that that of Erik “Fish” Fiskare and Daisy Bianco. Erik was a theatre tech when he met Daisy, a lead ballerina at the school. The two were head over heels in love. They had the kind of relationship that others envied…until that day. Nothing was the same after that day.

Aside from Erik and Daisy, there is a robust cast of characters that make this story memorable. Will Kaeger, Erik’s best friend/roommate and Daisy’s dance partner, also plays a pivotal role. He is left to live with guilt and questions whether or not his actions were to blame for the events of that tragic day. It was his brief love affair with another student, James, that seems to have been the motivator for James’ horrific actions on that day.

Spanning over a decade, the long-term effects of a single traumatic event are played out through these character for readers. This story was absolutely beautiful, but also tragic and highly emotional. These characters both broke my heart and inspired me.

The first book in a series, ‘The Man I Love’ proves to be an addicting read. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series immediately. I highly recommend this book. I am utterly captivated by this story and these flawed, very human characters.

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Review: Alternate: A Gypsy Brothers Novella (Gypsy Brothers, # 7.5), by Lili St. Germain

Alternate: A Gypsy Brothers NovellaAlternate: A Gypsy Brothers Novella by Lili St. Germain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s no mystery that I love dark, twisted stories. So, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I absolutely love the ‘Gypsy Brothers’ series. It is a raw, gritty and disturbing story of revenge and I devoured each one of the books in this series.

Somehow, I managed to miss the fact that this novella had been released until I saw a couple of reviews start popping up on friends’ pages. That is precisely why I love Goodreads so much. I hate to think that I would’ve missed this otherwise. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Although this is just a novella, I found it to bring a lot to the series. Providing three snippets of scenes from the POVs of Jase, Dornan and Elliot respectively, I gained a much better understanding of what was going on inside each of their heads. Some things were surprising, like Jase’s darker urges, and some things not so much, like Elliot’s love for Juliette.

Dornan continues to be one of the most intriguing villains that I’ve ever encountered. He is wicked through and through. Yet, there is a tiny part of him buried deep down that is remorseful and regretful. In his own sick way he still cared for Juliette, even as he was determined to destroy her. I still struggle to reconcile the man he could have been with the man that he became.

This novella also sheds more light on the time that Jase spent as his father’s captive for the years following Juliette’s brutal rape. He was an entirely different person than the Jase that we met in the other books. His despair led him to some very dark places. He’s never even told Juliette about his time pushing the depths of his own depravity.

As for Elliot, you just can’t help but love him. He was just what Juliette needed at the lowest point in her life. Without him, she wouldn’t have stood a chance at survival. He sacrificed so much to save her. Unfortunately for him, she just couldn’t ever love him the way he wanted her to. His story is one of sacrifice and heartache, but integral to the series.

This was another terrific addition to the ‘Gypsy Brothers’ series. This is hands-down, one of my favorite dark series and I’m so glad that Lili St. Germain gave fans another little taste. It does need to be read after other books in the series so that you’ll have an understanding of the characters and events. This one is not intended to be a standalone. If you’re a fan of the series, you can get a free copy of this ebook on the author’s website if you sign up for her mail group.

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Review: And I Darken (The Conquerers Series, #1), by Kiersten White

And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)And I Darken by Kiersten White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘And I Darken’ was the first book that I’ve ever read by Ms. Kiersten White, but it certainly won’t be the last. The first book in ‘The Conquerers’ series, it managed to completely captivate me. I am both intrigued, enamored, and at times appalled, by these characters and the turbulent world that they occupy.

Lada Dragwlya is an unlikely heroine. She’s unattractive, uncouth and at times, downright mean. She’s everything her father had hoped for in a son, but got in his daughter. Her only redeeming qualities are her love for her homeland, Wallachia, and her love for her younger brother, Radu.

By comparison, Radu is everything that Lada is not. He is soft-spoken and gentle, an utter disappointment to their father, the Prince of Wallachia. Immediately, Radu claimed a piece of my heart.

When their father trades Lada and Radu to the Sultan of Ottoman as pawns to guarantee his loyalty, they are left to fend for themselves in a hostile new world. Lada is determined to be strong and to plan for her eventual revenge on the Sultan and his countrymen. She refuses to show any weakness that might be used against her and Radu.

Unlike his sister, Radu soon takes to the ways of this new world. He never felt that he fit in in Wallachia and finds comfort in this new country. He is not resistant to the new teachings or the new religion, as Lada is.

After months living in the Ottoman Empire, Radu and Lada make an unlikely friend. Mehmed is the illegitimate son of the sultan. Before long, the three are inseparable. The line between friend and enemy blurs and loyalties are called into question.

From start to finish, I was completely captivated by this story. It has a little of everything. There’s plenty of action and battle scenes. There’s romance and angst. Kingdoms rise and are overthrown. The incredible highs are off-set by bitter betrayals.

I am completely and totally hooked on this story. It is the first book, in what I’m sue will prove to be an epic saga. The characters were certainly flawed, but that only made me love them more. As soon as the next book is released, I’ll be diving in again. I was left with a lot of questions and I’ll have to wait for the next book to get my answers.

I listened to the Audible version of this book and I thought that the narration was well done. I could easily distinguish between the characters and I thought the narrator did a great job of conveying the emotions and intensity. It was a fantastic audiobook choice for me.

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Review: Addicted to Sin (Hard Love Romance, #1), by Monica James

Addicted to Sin (Hard Love Romance, #1)Addicted to Sin by Monica James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***I was provided with a complimentary ARC of this book by the publisher, through netgalley.com, in exchange for honest feedback.***

Wow! This book blew me away! It was a little slow to get started for me, but once it picked up, I couldn’t tear myself away from it. I’m still trying to pinpoint how I feel about it. I haven’t read a book that left me feeling so conflicted in quite some time. I’m dying to get my hands on the next book.

I guess I’ll start out by telling you a little about Dixon. He’s got that all-male hotness that draws you in and leaves you wanting more. As a Psychiatrist, it’s a miracle he hasn’t had his medical license revoked for sleeping with his patients. However, that unsavory tidbit just seems to up his forbidden, bad-boy appeal. He makes no apologies for who he is…and he knows he’s an ass.

Although, we get glimpses of his softer side as well. His manwhoring ways were triggered by his ex-fiancées betrayal with his then best friend. It was all downhill for him after that. He literally threw caution to the wind and lost himself between as many female thighs as he could get to spread for him. It wasn’t pretty.

He soon finds himself drawn to two women that are polar opposites. One appeals to his baser needs only, while the other consumes him wholly. A man with serious trust issues, he doesn’t always make the logical, or wise, choice. He’s afraid to lose himself in love again, only to be crushed.

He keeps the sexually aggressive Juliet around as a repeat booty-call. She’s always interested and always available. He doesn’t care to know much about her, beyond the fact that she is highly skilled in the sack, but she’s easy and keeping her around saves him the effort of having to hunt for other willing women.

Meanwhile, he just can’t seem to shake his feelings for the captivating Madison. He knows that she’s the kind of girl that he could get lost in and he’s afraid to go there again. Yet, no matter how many times he screws up, fate seems to keep throwing these two back together again.

All the while, Dixon has his two friends trying to steer him in the right direction. At least, their hearts were in the right place even when they steered him wrong. Together, these three were absolutely hilarious. I laughed so hard at their banter that I had tears in my eyes. It really helped to keep the story from getting too emotional or sad at times.

Eventually, Dixon seems to get his head on straight and things with him and Madison are finally coming together. Nothing is ever that easy though, so don’t think you’ll get to bask in those warm fuzzier for long. Juliet really is a super-bitch of epic proportions and she’s not ready to take her claws out of Dixon just yet.

Although I had guessed one of the twists fairly early on, it in no way prepared me for everything that transpired in the last 5 – 10% of this book. Holy hell! Ms. James turned my world upside down! I feel completely gutted and I am dying to see where this story will go from here.

The only negative point, was that there were a fair amount of typos, misplaced words, etc. However, I did read an ARC, so many of these errors will likely be corrected in the published editions. Otherwise, I have nothing but positive things to say about this book. It was awesome!

As an aside, this book has now been published under the title ‘Dirty Dix’. I am currently reading an ARC for the second part of this story, but almost missed it due to the new title.

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Review: Jake Undone (Jake, #1), by Penelope Ward

Jake Undone (Jake, #1)Jake Undone by Penelope Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Jake Undone’ is one of those books that I’ve had sitting on my Audible shelf for quite some time, but never got around to listening to. After finishing a couple of great dark books, I was looking for something a little “lighter”. While this book ended up having some pretty emotional twists, it certainly was uplifting enough to balance out some of my recent dark, gory reads.

Admittedly, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t like it since my tastes have changed a bit. Lately, I’m finding that many of the college-aged, YA-type books just aren’t doing it for me. I was worried that this book would be one of those irritatingly immature romances that have started to lose their appeal for me. Luckily, ‘Jake Undone’ ended up being just right.

Nina Kennedy meets Jake Green when she moves into the apartment that he shares with a childhood friend of hers. Only, when Nina shows up she gets more than she bargained for. What better way to meet your new roommate for the first time than to eavesdrop on his steamy one night stand, right? Talk about awkward.

As Nina struggles to adjust to life in a new city, Jake becomes her primary source of support and comfort. The two become fast friends and the sexual tension is thick between the two. Jake becomes her math tutor and a life coach of sorts, helping Nina conquer the irrational fears that plague her daily life.

Little by little, Nina comes out of her shell. Jake helps her to face her fears and she is able to make it through her days without suffering from crippling anxiety. The two are practically inseparable, with the exception of the weekends when Jake has to return back to his hometown of Boston.

Jake is standoffish at times and avoids taking his relationship with Nina to the next level. They want each other, but his repeated brush-offs leave Nina feeling unwanted. That couldn’t be farther from the truth where Jake is concerned.

There is a huge part of Jake’s life that he hasn’t been upfront with Nina about. He doesn’t know how to tell her everything. The longer he waits, the more he fears losing her and the harder it gets to explain why he hasn’t already told her everything. Eventually, it all comes crashing down.

Even though I guessed the twist before it was revealed, it didn’t make it any less emotional or upsetting. I felt Nina’s pain. All the while, I felt Jake’s also. It was so easy to understand and to relate to each of their viewpoints. I was angry. I was heartbroken. Yet, I also felt compassion for Jake while admiring his loyalty and strength.

This was not a couple that came across their HEA easily. They had to fight for it, but eventually persevered. Although this story was heartbreaking at times, it was beautiful and worth the pain. I am glad that I finally made it a point to listen to this one. Overall, it was a great choice.

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Review: The Knight (Endgame, #2), by Skye Warren

The KnightThe Knight by Skye Warren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***I was provided an ARC of this book in exchange for honest feedback.***

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see an ARC land on my shelf! When ‘The Knight’ showed up, I did a happy dance and squealed like a preteen girl! I just had to know where things would go between Avery and Gabriel. I dropped everything and dived right in to this book.

Picking up where ‘The Pawn’ left off, Avery is heartbroken and destitute. She is living in a rundown motel on the bad side of town, where her sleepless nights are spent listening to the prostitute next door service her many Johns. She is definitely at a low point in her life.

The only thing that seems to be spurring her on is her fury. Avery is determined to get her mother’s house back, even if that means going up against Gabriel. She refuses to let him get the best of her again.

Luckily for me, Avery is not quite as resolute in her decision to ward off Gabriel. The two cannot seem to resist one another, regardless of the pain and heartache that is bound to follow. Although they have fewer interactions in this book than they did in ‘The Pawn’, their electric connection is still there and every bit as strong.

If I thought that Gabriel’s motivations were unclear in the first book, they prove to be even more elusive in ‘The Knight’. For most of this book, he was outright cruel and callous in his treatment of Avery. I spent a fair amount of time questioning whether he every really cared about Avery, or if he really did only see her as a tool for his revenge. Not knowing kept me on the edge of my seat throughout this book.

Supporting characters, such as Avery’s best friend and her ex-fiancé, return in ‘The Knight’ and play a more pivotal role in the story. Likewise, a couple of new characters are introduced that have me intrigued. I’m very curious to see if they will get their own books later on, down the road. I’d love to hear more of their stories.

Avery’s mother also plays a more central role in this book. It becomes clear that there is far more of her story to be unveiled. The circumstances of her life and death are very mysterious. I am sure that this enchanting woman’s story will be utterly captivating. I am hopeful that her story will be told in the next book of this series.

Like ‘The Pawn’, this book does end with a bit of an upset. ‘The Knight’ answers all of my questions about Gabriel and Avery, only to plant new seeds of doubt about her mother and the source of the danger that follows Avery. I don’t want to give too much away, but you will want the next book immediately.

I can not get enough of this series! I am 100%, completely addicted. If you like suspenseful, angsty and emotionally-charged romances with a bit of darkness, I highly recommend this series.

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Review: Smoldering, by Tiffany Aleman

SmolderingSmoldering by Tiffany Aleman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had this audiobook sitting on my Audible shelf for a long time. Finally, I decided to give it a shot as a way to recuperate from the book hangover I was suffering from after finishing K. A. Linde’s ‘Avoiding’ series. ‘Smoldering’ ended up being a good choice for that purpose.

The heroine, Kelsey, is a young lady from a very wealthy family. The daughter of a prominent politician, she is little more than a prop for her parents’ social image. Always yearning to please them, she has allowed herself to be controlled by her parents.

On the day of her wedding, she finally has a long overdue epiphany. She’s standing at the altar, in the midst of marrying a man that she hates, when she realizes that her parents will never truly love her. Trying to please them or make them proud is a pointless endeavor.

For once, she decides to make a decision based upon her happiness. Knowing the fallout will be tremendous, she musters up the courage to take a stand. She leaves her groom standing at the altar and doesn’t look back.

Despite being disowned by her parents, she knows that she has done the right thing. Cut off completely, she moves with her best friend and makes ends meet by working as a waitress. Her life is a far cry from the opulence of her past, but she is happy for the first time in her life.

When she meets Riley Jackson, a local military man, things are finally going right for her. The two have a whirlwind romance and fall in love quickly. Theirs was definitely a case of insta-love.

Just as their relationship begins to get more serious, Kelsey’s past and present collide. What ensues is a clusterf*ck of epic proportions. Betrayal. Hurt. More betrayal. It gets really ugly, really quick.

While I love angst and usually live for the emotional pain a great story can evoke, this story left me feeling a little irritated. With the way Riley was so quick to dismiss Kelsey, and the way he acted almost immediately afterwards, I just couldn’t believe that he really cared all that much for her in the first place. I just didn’t buy it.

Then, after all of Riley’s insensitive actions, he barely even mutters an apology before Kelsey takes him back. Seriously? To make matters worse, she actually assumes a large part of the blame because she had never told him about her ex…even though she didn’t lie and it never really came up.

I absolutely hate it when the heroine turns into some sort of weak, pushover that takes on the blame for the hero’s bad behavior. Ugh! Kelsey needed to grow a damn spine and send Riley packing for good. He didn’t even grovel. Nope. I was not happy at all.

Overall, it ended up being just an “okay” book for me. It started out strong, but then everything hit the fan and there was no coming back for me. Once everything was kind of “resolved” and the characters got their HEA, it seemed to drag on and on also. Maybe I was just irritated because their HEA was not a HEA for me…but the last 45 minutes of this audiobook seemed unnecessary to me.

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Review: Avoiding Responsibility (Avoiding, #2), by K. A. Linde

Avoiding Responsibility (Avoiding, #2)Avoiding Responsibility by K.A. Linde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once I finished reading ‘Avoiding Commitment’, I immediately downloaded ‘Avoiding Responsibility’. I was completely sucked in by this story and I couldn’t wait to find out where Lexi’s life was going to take her after the upset at the end of the first book. Even though Lexi epitomizes poor choices and a lack of self-respect, I cannot get enough of her story. I’m a masochist like that!

If you haven’t read ‘Avoiding Commitment’, know that this review may contain some spoilers for that book. ‘Avoiding Responsibility’ is the second book in the ‘Avoiding’ series and the books should be read in order to maximize enjoyment and understanding of this story.

Back in New York City, Lexi is left to lick her wounds. Meanwhile, the planning for Jack and Bekah’s wedding is underway. Talk about a nightmare! I spent a fair amount of time moping around, grieving and alternately raging, with Lexi for most of this book. It was just so unfair!

While Jack is relegated to a background role in this second book, Ramsey becomes a primary focus. Where Jack has left Lexi broken, Ramsey sweeps in to pick up the pieces. As much as I liked Ramsey – and I really did like him – I had “friend-zoned” him long ago. So, when Lexi begins to see him as more than a friend, I never really got on board with that.

It’s a hang-up of mine. I always want the heroine to end up with the “first” guy that I experienced her falling in love with. (If that makes any sense.) Even though Jack was a complete and total douche, I was still doodling “Lexi + Jack forever” in my mind.

Since this book centers on Lexi and Jack moving on with their lives without each other, I was left with a hole in my chest. No matter how destructive, it was hard to let go of the idea of their love. It pained me.

While Jack and Lexi’s relationship may have changed drastically, Lexi’s tendency to make very poor decisions did not. Poor Lexi always settles for second-best. It was sad, really. My heart broke for her as she again picked a guy that would never place her first. Ramsey may have even grown to love her on some level, but it was clear that he was still hung up on his ex-girlfriend, Parker. I just kept thinking, “Man, Lexi really knows how to pick them!”

Of course, this book had several twists and surprises along the way. Jack may have been less of a central focus this time around, but he’s still lurking in the background. No matter what they say, Lexi and Jack have not gotten past whatever it was they had together. Sparks fly and feelings get hurt. If you think you’ve seen the end of the drama surrounding these two, you’d be sadly mistaken. It isn’t over, baby!

Overall, I am still loving this series. I am a sucker for an angsty, forbidden romance that rips your heart out. This story definitely delivers on that account. I plan to listen to the next book immediately. I am very thankful that I didn’t read these books immediately upon their release. The wait for the release of the next books would have killed me!

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