Review: My Skylar, by Penelope Ward

My SkylarMy Skylar by Penelope Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once I finished ‘Jake Undone’, I had to start ‘My Skylar’ to get Skylar’s story. This book can be read as a standalone, but reading ‘Jake Undone’ will provide a brief introduction to Skylar and a little insight into her background. Similarly, you’ll have the backstory for Jake and Nina, Skylar’s super-supportive friends, if you’ve read that book first. However, it is not necessary to read ‘Jake Undone’ first to understand and/or enjoy ‘My Skylar’.

Skylar and Mitch meet when they are young children. Mitch’s grandmother lives across the street from Skylar’s family. He comes to stay with his grandmother one summer while his parents split up.

The two find that they have a lot in common, despite their separate upbringings. In no time at all, they become best friends. They spend every waking moment with each other, until Mitch has to return to his home.

When Mitch’s father shows up unexpectedly early to pick him up, he is surprised. He is only more surprised by the news that his parents are getting divorced. As a young boy, the demise of his parent’s marriage has shook his belief in the foundation of marriage. He even questions the permanence of “love”.

Skylar does not hear from Mitch for years. As a teenager, she hears his name at a party and immediately the memories come back. She has never forgotten the boy that walked into her life all those years ago, even if he seemed to have forgotten her.

When Mitch returns as a teenager to live with his mother in his grandmother’s home, Skylar and him pick up their friendship where they left off. It is almost like he never left. Only, now there is a definite sexual attraction brewing between the two.

This was a story that delivered a ton of angst and teenage melodrama. There were several times that I found myself wanting to shake Mitch and Skylar. So much heartache could’ve been avoided if they had only been open and honest with each other. It was incredibly frustrating at times, as they danced around each other ignoring the elephant in the room.

Along the way, the story takes a few unbelievable twists. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the story, but I did think that some of the twists were over-the-top. Skylar and Mitch were dramatic enough without having some of the extra twists in my opinion. I kept thinking “What else?”. It was like the universe was working to keep these two apart.

This story follows Mitch and Skylar’s relationship from childhood into adulthood and there are plenty of angst-filled moments along the way. They are together, then they aren’t. They’re inseparable, then they’re estranged. It was enough to give me whiplash at times.

Despite all of the back and forth, I found myself glued to my headphones while I listened to their story. It was angsty and over-the-top, but I loved it. My heart broke at times, but it worked out perfectly in the end. I recommend this story for anyone that loves a HEA, but isn’t afraid to work for it or cry a few tears along the way.

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Review: Fidelity (Infidelity, #5), by Aleatha Romig

Fidelity (Infidelity, #5)Fidelity by Aleatha Romig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aleatha Romig is one of my all-time favorite authors. She has a way of pulling me into her stories and keeping me utterly captivated from start to finish. I am addicted to her special brand of antiheroes. Nobody can craft a guy that you love to hate and hate to love quite like her.

It goes without saying that I devoured every word of the ‘Infidelity’ series. I loved the taboo and twisted circumstances that surrounded Nox and Charli throughout this series. They were nothing, if not complicated.

That being said, this series was not my favorite of Ms. Romig’s series. While I love the way she takes the time out to develop her characters and the storyline, at times that meant that the story seemed to move at a snail’s pace. There were several times when I found myself questioning the necessity of some of the redundant details while reading this series. Book 4, in particular, seemed to have several slow spots for me.

The fifth, and final, book in the series, ‘Fidelity’ ties up all of the loose ends. I wasn’t left with any lingering questions. I also felt quite satisfied with the way everything worked out, which was a far cry from how unsettled I felt at the end of the last book.

As expected, Nox and Charli, aka Alex, are a huge part of this book. However, I found myself equally intrigued with Oren and Adelaide’s story. Some of the supporting characters seemed to become a more important part of the story this time around, giving way to some new questions. I wonder if any of them will get their own spin-off books.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Fidelity’. It was a fantastic conclusion to a great series. As much as I enjoyed this series, I have to say that I’m glad to take a break from the Montagues, Fitzgeralds, Demetris and Spencers. It was nice to see things eventually work themselves out, but it was definitely exhausting.

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Review: Dirty Ugly Toy, by K. Webster

Dirty Ugly ToyDirty Ugly Toy by K. Webster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you follow my reviews, you know that I love dark, twisted stories. Based on the title alone, I knew that this story would be right up my alley. K. Webster never fails to deliver just the type of mindf*ck that I love and this book was no exception.

‘Dirty Ugly Toy’ begins with a scene that immediately had me questioning exactly what kind of a sick individual Braxton Kennedy really was. He has finished with one of his “toys”. She is bound, gagged and it is time to make her disappear from Braxton’s presence forever.

Once he’s disposed of his last toy, Braxton goes on the hunt for another one. He has particular tastes. He wants the filthiest, most drug-addicted and desperate woman on the streets to act out his depraved fantasies with. He will pretty her up, just to break her down again.

Jessica turned to prostitution in order to feed her heroin addiction. She will do anything for her next fix. Self-respect left her long ago. The woman she used to be would not recognize herself now.

When Jessica, aka “Bunny”, is picked up by Braxton, she cannot resist the lure of the $500,000 that he promises for 6 months of her time. She would do anything for that kind of money and all the heroin that it would buy. Without reading the fine print, she signs his contract and becomes Braxton’s new toy.

From the start, Jessica proved to be a challenge for Braxton. She challenged him in ways that he had never been challenged before. She was anything but submissive, even as he did his best to humiliate and degrade her.

Braxton behaves in a reprehensible manner. He was a really hard character to like because his behavior was so damn cruel and deplorable at times. It was clear that he was one seriously messed up individual, but I couldn’t excuse his callous treatment of Jessica. Regardless of his “mommy issues”, his treatment of her was despicable.

That being said, the story was actually not as dark as I had anticipated. There were a few scenes with violence, but Braxton’s cruelty was most pronounced in the emotional abuse he subjected Jessica to. The flashbacks from her past were the source of the darkest content and not her BDSM relationship with Braxton, which ended up being pretty tame.

Overall, this was a great story. It was dark-ish, but I would’ve liked for it to be a little darker. There was plenty of twists and turns to hold my attention throughout this book. If you like dark stories with a bit of mystery/suspense, then this is a good choice.

On the other hand, I should say that I was not overly impressed with the Audible narration for this book. The narrators’ voices just didn’t appeal to me at all. This is one that I’d recommend reading vs. listening to. It took me quite a while to get into the story because the voice of the narrator was so off-putting.

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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: King of Wall Street, by Louise Bay

King of Wall StreetKing of Wall Street by Louise Bay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘King of Wall Street’ was just the type of sweet, straightforward love story that I was craving. I listened to the Audible version during my daily commute and it was a great way to pass the time. It had humor and plenty of heat. Even without big twists and surprises, this story held my attention.

Harper Jayne has idolized Max King for years. She’s landed an entry-level research position working under the Wall Street business mogul, right out of grad school. She is determined to prove herself and stand on her own two feet, refusing the assistance of her wealthy father.

However, Max King is determined to prove something himself. He’s dead set on proving to himself that he can avoid his attraction to the sexy new junior employee. He’s never mixed business and pleasure before. He plans to stay far away from the likes of Ms. Harvey Jayne, lest he lose all control. Max King is not a man that ever loses control.

As Max tries to push Harper away, she manages to creep into his life. For her part, Harper cannot understand why Max is so nasty to her. She figures it is just her luck to end up having him infiltrate her life outside of work as well.

After a few chance encounters outside of the office, these two are going at it like bunnies. They try to keep work and private activities separate, but that can only last for so long. Despite their attempts to keep their outside relationship strictly sexual, their feelings only grow stronger.

I’m sure you can imagine how things play out, there’s no big surprises here. However, I really enjoyed this predictable office romance. The characters were easy to relate to and I loved the fact that Max had a teenage daughter, Amanda. Her character gave a little different spin to the billionaire meets intern storyline.

Overall it was a highly enjoyable, straightforward and fun read. It was a nice way to pass the time. I listened to the Audible version and the narration was well done also.

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Review: Bossman, by Vi Keeland

BossmanBossman by Vi Keeland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fun And Flirty Office Romance

This is my third book by this author, and it’s my favorite so far. Vi Keeland is on the way to becoming a “one-click author” for me. I absolutely adored this story! It gets a solid 4 1/2 stars from me.

From their very first interaction, I was hooked on Reese and Chase. They had incredible chemistry, even if their first meeting was adversarial. Then, what started as bitter conflict morphed into a playful banter. Suddenly, instead of fighting each other, it seemed like it was Reese and Chase against the world.

It took a while for them to take their relationship to the next level. However, that worked well for this story. Readers were gifted with lots of hilarious, flirty dialogue and plenty of build-up. I appreciated the time spent developing the characters and their relationship. When things started to progress, I felt entirely vested in the story.

That being said, I was so absorbed in this story that it seemed to fly by. I didn’t want to put it down. You know it’s a good book when you find yourself contemplating calling in sick to work because you want to read! This was one of those stories for me.

Unlike most of my favorite reads, this book wasn’t dark at all. It was everything that usually drives me nuts — cliché characters, predictable storyline, etc. — but it worked perfectly in this case. This isn’t the type of story that changes your life, it’s just pure fun. It’s the kind of story that you don’t want to put down because it has you laughing uncontrollably and walking around with a huge smile all day.

There was a little angst and sadness, but it was pretty short-lived. While it did seem a bit melodramatic to me, I understood that a little conflict was necessary for the story. Not surprisingly, everything worked out in the end.

Overall, I thought that this was a fantastic story. I loved every minute of this couple’s story. It had just the right balance of romance and humor. If you’re in the mood for a fun, feel-good romance with a HEA, I highly recommend this one!

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