Review: Undeserving (Undeniable, #5), by Madeline Sheehan

Undeserving (Undeniable, #5)Undeserving by Madeline Sheehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Madeline Sheehan has done it again! If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting a long time for the next book in the ‘Undeniable’ series. This series is probably my favorite biker series of all of them, and there are plenty of them to choose from. And let me tell you, this book was worth the wait!

When I first saw that the book was going to center on Preacher, I have to admit that I didn’t expect to love it. After all, he was Eva’s father and was already kind of old in ‘Undeniable’. For some reason, I had envisioned a present-day romance with an elderly Preacher and some new love interest. Before you succumb to the fit of nausea those thoughts will leave you with, know that I was completely wrong. Thank God for that!

Although the story does feature a present-day Preacher, along with Eva and other characters that we’ve grown to love over the course of this series, the actual love story takes place in the past. Dying, Preacher finally opens up to Eva about his one true love. He has plenty of secrets to share and the truth about her mother will shatter Eva’s ideas about who her mother was.

Everything that Preacher told Eva about her mother, was a lie. She wasn’t a junkie. She didn’t walk out on Eva…at least not in the way that she thought. These were all lies. The truth was so much more – more beautiful, more loving, and far more painful. Sometimes it is too hard to face the truth.

Preacher’s love story was heartfelt and incredibly tragic. I could not put this book down. Start to finish, I was hooked.

He first meets Eva’s mom, Debbie Reynolds, aka “Wheels”, when she tries to steal his wallet. From that point forward, the two form an unlikely friendship. Preacher is fresh out of prison and uncertain about the direction of his life, especially where his father’s motorcycle club is concerned. He recognizes the desperation and resilience in the beautiful, young runaway that tries to best him.

This book is a beautiful and highly emotional. Your heart will melt, and it will break. This story made me feel elated and also completely devastated. There was so much tragedy in Preacher’s past, but also so much love and happiness.

I won’t give too much away, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I’ll just say that this is one book that you don’t want to miss if you’re a fan of this series. It is phenomenal!

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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: Heart Recaptured (Hades Hangmen, #2), by Tillie Cole

Heart Recaptured (Hades Hangmen, #2)Heart Recaptured by Tillie Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Fantastic Book In The Hades Hangmen Series!

Picking up where “It Ain’t Me, Babe” left off, “Heart Recaptured” focuses on the story of Lilah and Ky. Unlike Mae, Lilah had no desire to flee the religious cult that she had been raised within. She still holds strongly to her beliefs and teachings of the cult leaders.

Ky is immediately attracted to Lilah’s beauty, but isn’t prepared to deal with her extreme religious beliefs. He’s a man unaccustomed to having his advances turned down or having to work to gain the affections of a woman. Ky can’t begin to comprehend the depth of her beliefs, anymore than she can comprehend the strange and frightening ways of life outside of the cult compound.

When Ky is assigned to teach Lilah about the world outside of the compound in order to help her make the transition into her new reality, both of them are pushed out of their comfort zones. The more time the two spend together, the stronger their attraction grows. Ky quickly becomes Lilah’s protector and gains her trust. Little by little, she begins to come out of her shell.

Despite it all, Lilah still hangs on to the belief that her beauty is a curse and that she is evil. The long-standing impact of the cult’s teachings and her subsequent self-loathing was incredibly sad. She is deeply scarred and, at times, seems entirely incapable of moving on with her life.

Eventually, the cult, now led by Prophet Cain (Rider), makes a reappearance. She is thrust back into a world that she thought she had wanted, only to then recognize how much she’d grown to love her new life and to question the validity of the cult’s teachings. Submitted to unspeakable horrors, she eventually finds her personal salvation.

It becomes apparent that Prophet Cain is no longer the kind-hearted Rider that we loved in the first book. He has forsaken his morality in exchange for power. He has become a passive bystander to the cruelties and perversions of the cult. While he may be conflicted, he lacks the strength to stand up for what he knows to be right, looking the other way as atrocities are committed in the name of God. In his role as their leader, he has become a follower, nothing more than a puppet for the cult elders. With his obsession for Mae still burning strong, there is no doubt that we’ll be seeing more of Prophet Cain in the future.

Ms. Cole’s storytelling continues to amaze me. This story is captivating and deeply disturbing. I am completely enthralled with these characters and the strength of these women. I cannot wait for the next book in this series to see what lies in store for Flame, Maddie and the rest of the characters we’ve been introduced to along the way.

Spectacular book!

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Review: Hellraiser (The Devil’s Own, #2), by Amo Jones

Hellraiser (The Devil's Own #2)Hellraiser by Amo Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you’ve read ‘One Hundred & Thirty-Six Scars’, then you’ll remember Braxton “Hella” Ward as the insensitive, promiscuous biker that had a thing for Meadow’s friend, Melissa. I’d like to say that by the end of this book that I came to understand the reasons for Hella’s obnoxious behavior, but I can’t. I did grow to like him a little more, but that’s about all I can say for him.

Whereas Melissa Hart was kind of “along for the ride” in the first book, ‘Hellraiser’ focuses on her tumultuous relationship with Hella. This is a guy that enjoyed flaunting other women in her face, just to get a rise out of her. Yet, despite her tough reputation, she can’t seem to get enough of this jackass. I guess we all have our weaknesses!

The Army is also out for revenge. As The Devil’s Own plan for Beast and Meadow’s wedding, The Army has their own plans underway. Once again, Melissa finds herself on “lockdown” at the club compound.

While some things never change, like the repeat of a crisis requiring a lockdown at the biker club, there were a few new elements to this story. Melissa’s estranged sister, shows up on her doorstep. She is very secretive about why she’s left her life behind as a nun, but it is clear that she is running scared from something.

Of course, we also get more of Melissa’s story. From the once naive college girl, to the strong woman that she grew into, it is easy to see how her life events made her the person that she is. Her past was a brutal one.

In more ways than one, the past collides with the present in this book. Seemingly unrelated events end up being anything but “unrelated”. Eventually, it all comes to light in a brutal twist.

While I still had many of the same issues with this book that I had with the first book in the series, I do think that there were some improvements in the writing and editing. Yes, the author still uses phrases like “deep, shallow breaths” and “usually, always”, which drives me crazy. However, these mistakes did seem to be less frequent.

Like the first book, things just seemed to happen without any reasonable transition. For example, Hella’s character is all about sleeping around and he flaunts the fact that he isn’t going to settle down right up until the moment that he does. Before you could blink, he has committed himself to Melissa and has an entire personality change without any explanation or plausible progression of his feelings being portrayed.

It was like the author needed certain things to happen for the story to go where she wanted it to, so she just wrote it without making an attempt to make it believable. It was like reading the creation story. You know, “Let there be light” and it just happens. Things fell together too easily.

Similarly, the conflict between Melissa and Hella seemed contrived just to create some drama. It was pretty ridiculous. Then was forgotten just as easily. I definitely rolled my eyes a few times.

I once again find myself curious about where the next book will go. ‘Hellraiser’ ended with a huge cliffhanger. Even though this book was just an “okay” read for me, I am dying to know what happens in the next book with Melissa’s sister. I’m having a bit of deja vu here, since I felt the exact same way after finishing the first book. So, I’m going to read the next one, but if it doesn’t improve significantly, I’m calling it quits for this series. I hope I don’t regret it.

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Review: One Hundred & Thirty-Six Scars (The Devil’s Own, #1), by Amo Jones

One Hundred & Thirty-Six Scars (The Devil's Own, #1)One Hundred & Thirty-Six Scars by Amo Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I picked up this book, I was looking for a raw, gritty, and dark read. Although ‘One Hundred & Thirty-Six Scars’ did have some dark content, it was primarily in the characters’ pasts. While that was certainly a big part of who they were, as a whole, this book wasn’t as dark as I’d hoped for.

Beast was raised by a secret organization called “The Army”. He never knew tenderness or kindness. He was trained to be an assassin from an early age and everything in his life revolved around his training and the next mission.

Despite never having experienced life on the outside, Beast somehow knows that it is better outside of the confines of the compound. He spends his youth trying to escape, bearing the scars as proof of his many attempts to free himself. Despite the brutal punishments, he never quits trying.

One day, he is successful. Along with his best friend, Hella, he manages to escape. The two go into hiding, with the help of a girl that Hella once knew from his childhood in foster care.

When Beast is recognized, it sets off a chain of events that will change his future. He meets the father that he never knew existed and is given the answers he’s always wanted about how he came to be in The Army. Immediately, he is taken in by the father that didn’t know he was alive.

Taking an apartment in a bad neighborhood while he tries to figure out his next steps, Beast is overcome by an urge to protect the girl next door. He hears her cries at night, until one day he has heard enough. He busts into the apartment next door and puts an end to the girl’s suffering.

When Beast saved Meadow, she was overwhelmed with gratitude for the huge stranger. Molested by her father from the age of four, she had finally decided to end her life. One last time and he would never hurt her again…and then, Beast saved her.

After barging in and saving the day, Meadow doesn’t hear from Beast. The two go their separate ways. Then, years later their paths cross again.

This time around, their attraction is instantaneous. From that point forward, things fell together rather easily for these two. In fact, it was too easy. There were none of the highs and lows that you’d expect. I needed a little more angst to hold my interest.

Overall, this story ended up being pretty good, but not great. The writing needed some work, but it wasn’t the worst I’ve read by a long shot. Contradictory, nonsensical phrases like “gently but roughly” and “shallow deep breaths” seemed to be a calling card for this author and left me scratching my head. There seemed to be a lack of attention to detail in the editing of this book, but I’ve read far worse.

That being said, it was still a pretty good book. Even though I wasn’t overly impressed with this first book, it did leave me very curious about the supporting characters. The author did a great job of paving the way for their stories and making me want to read their stories, even as I was nonplussed with the story I was reading. That takes some talent. I will be continuing the series. I only hope that the writing will improve as the series progresses.

From the point that the main characters re-enter each others’ lives as adults, it was pretty smooth sailing. In fact, I was taken aback at how quickly the two fell in love and how little drama there was surrounding their relationship. It was almost “too perfect”. In that way, it was surprising, but also just too easy to swallow.

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Review: Maybe This Time (Maybe, #1), by Chantal Fernando

Maybe This Time (Maybe, #1)Maybe This Time by Chantal Fernando
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time. The Audible version was on sale recently, so I thought, “why not?”. It’s been a few days now and I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this one. I loved parts of this story and hated others. I’m left feeling torn over how to rate this one. Finally, I settled on 3 stars.

The story begins with a 19 year-old Summer, our heroine, moving in with her 18 year-old brother, Xander, after picking him up from jail. Her mother had recently died, leaving Summer to reach out to her estranged father and her half-brother for help. It was apparent that there were some strained family relations. Summer hadn’t been previously allowed to have a relationship with Xander, as he was the product of their father’s extramarital affair and Summer’s mother forbade it.

To say the least, there were some very interesting dynamics in the beginning. As they got to know each other, I kept having to remind myself that Xander was actually the younger sibling. He was fiercely protective of Summer and made sure that all of his friends knew that she was “off limits”. Any man that messed with her would have to contend with Xander and their father, the leader of their MC.

Of course, the fact that she was forbidden fruit only served to make her more desirable. In no time, Summer has set her sights on Reid Knox. Honestly, I didn’t get it for most of the book.

Reid Knox is the resident bad-boy. He was moody, inconsiderate and just a royal a**hole. Now that I think of it, that was his appeal. He was all over the place. One minute he was warning Summer off. The next minute, he’d be snuggling up with her. He was an Alpha-male, domineering, jerk…but that’s why I loved him.

There was plenty of angst and drama in this story, holding my attention from start to finish. I loved Xander’s twin brother, Ryan, who becomes Summer’s best friend. He was the type of fun-loving sidekick that every story needs. There is also a crazy ex-girlfriend that keeps things interesting…because what story would be complete without a crazy ex to stir up trouble?

So, why only 3-stars? One word — GROVELING. If you follow my reviews, you know that I demand groveling. It is one of my biggest pet peeves to have a hero that screws up royally, breaking the heroine’s heart, only to be forgiven with very little effort on his part to make up for his actions. It really irks me. If I have to suffer through the heartache, I demand that he suffer as well. Otherwise, all of the pain that the heroine supposedly felt seems insincere and invalid.

That is exactly what happened in this book. It was no big surprise that Reid would screw up…big time. However, Summer became some insecure, weak-willed heroine that let him off with little more than a half-assed apology. No! Just, no! Thus, the 3-star rating. Otherwise, it would’ve been a 4-star read for me.

Overall, it was a good story. I am still a little peeved at how easily Summer forgave Reid, but I’ll get over it eventually. I am looking forward to reading the stories of some of the other characters that were introduced. I will be starting the next book immediately.

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