The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen–Review

LJ Shen has messed with my mind and I don’t know what to think about it. I think I like it and am ok with it. If you are going into this thinking it sounds like such a romantic read, you might want to actually read the blurb and re-think the word ‘romance’.

Imagine this:

A masquerade ball

She dressed as Nemesis; He dressed like a villainess thief in the night

The princess anxiously awaiting a kiss at the ball like Cinderella; The prince grants her the first kiss, but wait, who is the prince and what does this mean for the princess’ future?

Nemesis’ prince turns out to be as villainous as she thought. He was not to save her, but torture and torment her.

The princess realizes her fairy tale is an actual nightmare and she’s on her own in a very luxurious prison.

I finished reading this a few days ago and honestly, I’m still gobsmacked. I FLIPPING LOVED THIS BOOK, but what does this say about me regarding some scenes? After you read ‘The Kiss Thief’, you will understand. Is this an ooey, gooey, sugar sweet cavity laden romance? No, it’s not, but it is so much more. Love is messy, it has its ups and downs, and is not predictably planned. As Francesca soon finds out. Through this situation that she is in, she begins to realize her worth as a person and starts to feel that inner strength that she has always had, but never needed. She is mistakenly viewed as weak with no worth, because she is female. Her only worth is to be obedient, arm candy. Unfortunately, for everyone that isn’t Francesca, they better watch out and not get in her way. Francesca is such an incredible heroine with as many layers as an onion. It was thrilling to see her evolve from arm candy to her own person. She is the perfect match for Wolfe Keaton. Being Mrs. Keaton though is not going to be an easy task, but Frankie is up for the challenge. Being the type of man Wolfe is, he will take care of her every need, even if he is detached and relegates these tasks to his staff.

‘He was fire. Gorgeous to the eye, lethal to the touch.’

Let’s talk about our Hero (if he can/should be called that). Senator Wolfe Keaton has an axe to grind with a particular crime called The Outfit. I should say precisely more the head of The Outfit, Arthur Rossi. Through some questionable, smart and long term thinking on our beloved Senator’s behalf, he ends up with the beautiful, Frankie, as his soon to be wife. Frankie is less than thrilled, considering she had been promised her hand in marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Angelo.

‘You’re a collected debt, a retaliation, and, quite frankly, pretty decent arm candy.’

Wolfe is a different breed. He is wickedly intelligent, has more charisma in his pinkie than a whole auditorium of used car salesmen and male strippers combined. Wolfe is lethal with his charisma, so don’t think that wins him very many points with his soon to be bride. He has more walls erected than the Winchester Mystery House. Despite all his flaws, I was utterly swept up by Senator Keaton. He is the clean-cut exterior of a good guy that would make you want to take him home to meet the parents. However, don’t let the exterior fool you. Internally, he is every inch the bad boy that your parents would warn you of. I will go on record and say that I loved Wolfe. He was so broken, brooding and injured, that despite what he did, you wanted to gobble him up and hug him until everything was ok. Seriously, book boyfriend material!

Leigh Shen has outdone herself with another broody a-hole male and a heroine that is understated but bursting with inner strength. Wolfe in The Kiss Thief gives my favorite LJ Shen Hero a run for his money and I don’t know if Vicious would stand for it!!

2018: A Year in Review–One click authors, Favorite books of the year and end of year thoughts

2018: A Year in Review

This year has been a big year for me professionally. Unfortunately, personally it has not been that great. This is where I’m extremely thankful for my book family, along with the release of many amazing new releases.

This is the first year, where I decided to take things seriously and move from a hobby reader to blogger, bookstagramer and reviewer. With this decision, came many amazing opportunities through reviewing and beta reading and meeting even more fantastic people who are just as passionate as I am about books. I’m still trying to find my way, but I am excited about learning and growing in the new year.

As with life, there is always a balance among things. I have read a good amount of books this year (157 documented, but there were more on top of that😉). Due to this, I may not have kept up with the Instagram side of things, but that is going to change in the new year as resolution number one. Since we are close to the new year, have you made any resolutions yet?

In reading all these books, I have found that I have a ‘type’ of book, but resolution number two is to expand my reading repertoire. I love new age, sports romance, broody a-hole alphas, taboo with a side of naughty, along with, dark, twisted and mind-f@ck characters. Of course, I cannot forget those books that leave you strung out emotionally, never to feel like you will ever recover and give you the best book hangover. So, with this being said, let’s look at some of those books in 2018.

One-click authors (in no particular order):

  • Kristy Marie (Commandeer in Briefs series)
  • Sunniva Dee (Porn Star Boyfriend Series; Love by Pranks)
  • Amo Jones (The Elite King’s series; Flip Trick, etc.)
  • J. Shen (Midnight Blue)
  • Rose Croft (High School Lover, Baseball Lover)
  • Tijan (The Boy I Grew Up With, Ryan’s Bed)
  • Hazel Grace (Arranged, Aligned, Disorderly)
  • Trilina Pucci (Truth: A Sinful Series; Come Back to Me)
  • Ella Fields (Bittersweet Always; Suddenly Forbidden)

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Favorite books of the year:

Well, based off my one-click authors, I’m sure some of these books will not be a surprise to you.

  • Ryan’s Bed by Tijan
  • *Truth by Trilina Pucci
  • Commandeer in Briefs/Gorgeous by Kristy Marie (I loved each book equally, it was too hard to choose just one)
  • *Twin Savage by Sunniva Dee
  • *Baseball Lover/High School Lover by Rose Croft
  • *Arranged, Aligned & Disorderly by Hazel Grace
  • The Elite Kings Series-Tacet a Mortuis by Amo Jones
  • Midnight Blue and The End Zone by L.J. Shen
  • *Gods & Monsters by Saffron A. Kent
  • Secret Lucidity by E.K. Blair
  • I Bet You by Ilsa Madden-Mills
  • Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan
  • *Ambivalent by Stefanie G. Torres
  • *Rewrite the Stars by Charleigh Rose
  • Manik by Amo Jones

*Indicates Best New to Me Authors

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Best covers

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Admittedly, a good looking guy, who happens to be shirtless will usually make a cover  more eye-catching. However, there is much more than physical looks to make a good cover. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a great sunset with a person staring off into the distance or just unique photos that evoke some emotion from within the book. For whatever reason, a cover catches your eye, here of some of my favorite for 2018!

Overall, 2018 has been an incredible year for New Releases. Thank you, authors, for providing us, the readers, with a vast variety of incredible books to choose from! It has been my honor to explore the titles. Happy New Year 2019, people!!

Love by Pranks by Sunniva Dee–Review

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Love by Pranks is something completely different for Sunniva Dee. Love by Pranks is a college based romantic comedy, which is more heavily sided to the comedy. It is a hilarious, rip-roaring, gut-busting barrel of laughs.

Kitty is the newest resident to 246 Blossom Field Avenue (aka…Blossoms). The Blossoms is the all-girls house, that is unfortunately across the street from 247 Blossom Field Avenue. 247 is the ‘Dude’s’ house. Kitty is unfortunate/fortunate enough (depending how you look at it) to meet some of the ‘Dude’s’ on her way into her house.

She has no intentions to get involved with any of them. Kitty is a vet student who also volunteers at a local animal shelter. This plan is blown to smithereens when she meets, Lucian. Lucian is the bad boy and semi leader of 247. He is a college student, who happens to be a stripper, to make ends meet while in college.

Prior to Kitty arriving at Blossom Avenue, the Blossoms and the Dudes, have some unwritten rules between them. The biggest one is that a Blossom cannot become involved with a Dude and vice versa. Well, it isn’t long, before this rule is tested. Lucian even finds himself volunteering at the same animal shelter as Kitty. When two lost souls, find comfort in each other, will these rules truly keep them apart or will they rewrite them throwing caution to the wind?

A MAJOR aspect of this book, is the prank war between the Blossoms and Dudes. This prank war has been going on for a while and the last thing Kitty expected to be walking into. Each prank is designed to out due the other, but things like food is off limits. At first, I thought Kitty was going to be a slightly stuck up individual who would keep to herself. This idea is changed when she finds hundreds of ladybugs in here room. The whole house (minus ‘The Verandas’) help her round them up to be placed in a natural habitat. After this, it’s all hands-on deck for pranking. Deep down, Kitty is a little hellion, who likes to have fun (it doesn’t hurt that she has an extremely low alcohol tolerance, especially with pink cocktails and pirate punch involved). Her first prank is to make a mealworm birthday cake, for Guns (one of the idiot and outrageous dudes).

I am a HUGE Sunniva Dee fan and was anxious to read this book. I thought the premise sounding interesting but was unsure as to what I would get. I was used to her slightly taboo, fully emotional, lesson learning deep heartfelt romantic books. Needless to say, Love by Pranks, although a different type of book, did not disappoint. Sunniva wrote a seriously funny book, with a cast of characters that had you entertained from beginning to end. It reminded me of my college years, not saying I participated in a prank or two, or three, four and five. I’m highly anticipating the book on the next couple. I can’t wait to read the story of Gun and Seraphina and wonder how/why they got where they are. Should be a good one!!

4-stars

 

Disorderly by Hazel Grace–Review

Some words to define the word disorderly is disorder, irregular, unruly, turbulent, tumultuous and a breach of peace or public order. Disorderly by Hazel Grace is this and so much more. Wyatt and Nova only know attraction to each other and have no idea the chaos that will soon be coming their way.

As you’ve guessed, Disorderly is about Wyatt and Nova. Nova is a tortured soul, forever on the run, but she has one stable sidekick with her, Paige, her best friend. Nova and Paige have ended up in Tennessee. After working some long hard hours and saving every penny she could, she has finally opened her own bakery. She is expanding her business to include more wedding cakes and is currently working on a cake for a bridezilla when a little ‘snafu’ happens. To escape the wrath of Katherine, she takes off for the stairs in her apartment. Needing a quick distraction, she runs into Wyatt, literally. Being the gentleman that Wyatt is😉he helps her out of a jam.

Wyatt is a complicated, sullen man who has done whatever he needed to do to protect his family. He’s full of resentment, revenge and hate, until he finds one singular ray of light in his dismal world. Immediately, he is intrigued by Nova and the chemistry and lick of attraction that has affected them both. However, each has a complicated backstory and they don’t want to bring anyone into their chaotic life.

I don’t know if I can ever give enough information as to what this book is and how it will affect you. It’s hot, passionate, sad, angsty, dramatic, full of ‘oh no, they didn’t’ moments, rage inducing and just plain shock. There is a cliffhanger which only makes you go, ‘more, I need more now’! Despite all this, I was completely sucked into their world and couldn’t put it down. It was a page turner from beginning to end!!

Hazel has outdone herself with this beauty!! Wyatt is smoking, and Nova is off the charts beautiful person. When these two collide watch out for fireworks and earth shattering lust and desire! Each character individually has a spectacular backstory, but when these two come together…watch out!!

5 ‘Disorderly’ Stars

Baseball Lover by Rose Croft–Review

Let me start this off by saying, I LOVED John in the ‘High School Lover’. He had such an energetic, playful, mischievous, down to earth and flirtatious personality, it was hard not to like him from the beginning. I was secretly praying that John would get his own book and I’m ecstatic that he did.

Depending on where in the timeline of John and Rose’s story, will determine a couple different facets to Rose. Five years previous, Rose was on the top of the world. She was just finishing college and had a prosperous career to look forward to and then, BAM, tragedy strikes. Back in the present, Rose is working as a high school teacher. She has a best friend, Loren, who is dating her high school sweetheart, Andrew, but other than that she’s living her life of solitude. Rose is enigmatic, hurt, afraid to fall in love again and has walls built up high around her. All these personality quirks may come off as slightly bitchy, but she is trying to survive and not lose herself in the process of men, dating and love. She is a lovable woman with a great heart, she just portrays this prickly attitude to protect herself. She knows, however, that there is something different about John.

John and Rose as a couple didn’t happen overnight. It was beautifully written with a magnificent hero who was willing to do anything he could for the woman that he loved. John was truly a saint when it came to pursuing Rose. He is an unpretentious guy with the heart the size of Texas. When they finally were in a relationship, they had a whole different set of issues to work through. The biggest one being distance. John played baseball in Chicago, while Rose taught in Texas. Ms. Croft explores the issues of a long-distance relationship, not to mention when one person is in the limelight. Eventually, they work through their issues. What I love about them is that they were extremely supportive of each other.

Baseball Lover is a sports romance that is so much more than just sports and romance. There are moments of heated passion, emotional up and downs, personal growth, along with ‘oh no she didn’t’ frustration levels. I thoroughly, enjoyed, Baseball Lover. I was captivated from beginning to end.

5 stars

 

Heartbreak Warfare by Heather M. Orgeron and Kate Stewart–Review

Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.‘ –Michelle Rosenthal

Holy macaroni! I honestly don’t know where to start, so I’m going to start with the authors. Heather and Kate are FLIPPING geniuses! I love a good emotional read, but, honestly, I don’t actively go looking for it. Heartbreak Warfare is one that has ALL the feels and then some. I don’t know what rock (or boulder) I’ve been under where I haven’t heard of this dynamic duo, but I think it’s safe to say, they found themselves another permanent reader!!

Despair, elation, fear, love, hate, anger, sadness, joy and anticipation. Those are a lot of emotions placed between the front and back cover. I laughed, I cried, I was enraged and I was hopeful. Heather and Kate were able to pull out of me all these emotions, but I truly felt like I was with Katy and Briggs as they experienced war and the trauma that follows, both internally, externally and emotionally. I was filleted open, rubbed raw and left to try and stitch myself back together! I cannot emphasize enough not only how amazing Heartbreak Warfare is, but how engaging and sucked in you become. I was taken aback the first time I started crying.

Staff Sergeant Katy Scott is married to a Captain in the US Army with a six-year-old boy. Needless to say, deployments haven’t been easy on this family. Katy works in the clinic on base as a nurse/medic with her best friend, Corporal Mullins. The only thing Sergeant Briggs has known is the military. Katy and Mullins volunteer to go on a humanitarian mission along with Briggs and his buddies. Feeling excitement on getting off base and cooped up all the time, the only thing that made Katy uncomfortable was Briggs. Keep in mind, Katy says she is happily married, but there is something about Briggs, that she can’t ignore and sucks her in. While out on this mission, they are ambushed. What ensues is, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and chaotic. Heather and Kate do a phenomenal job with what follows, not only along the storyline, but at making you feel as though you were one with the book. I’m still in awe.

Heartbreak Warfare was about more than Katy and Briggs, it also included Gavin, Katy’s husband. This guy deserves sainthood. What he went through when Katy came home is, unfortunately, something many families go through. He tried desperately to bring Katy back, but unfortunately, there was only one person that would understand what she’s been through and he’s fighting his own battle. Each character was written so well, that it was hard to have a favorite. You know in some books, you are pulling for one character or another? Well this one, I felt like everybody deserved a win at happiness!

I am in awe of Heather, Kate and their glorious book, Heartbreak Warfare. If you are like me and want angst, but usually avoid super emotional reads, don’t pass this book up. You will not be disappointed. In fact, there are many great wonderful lessons throughout. It gave me a greater appreciation for people in the military, past and present, for our freedom. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

5 stars

Five ‘Superhero’ Stars PLUS Five ‘Awe-inspiring’ Stars

The Boy I Grew Up With by Tijan–Review

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I don’t know if you are prepared for Heather and Channing, but wow, was this one an emotional read. Happy, sad, distraught, hurt, angst, fear are just some emotions that you will feel. Tijan has once again delivered an enthralling and intoxicating book.

TBIGUW is Heather and Channing’s story. Heather is Sam’s best friend, from the Fallen Crest series. I must admit that I have been intrigued with their backstory since the teasing of them in FCH.

Heather and Channing have an epic, emotional and enduring love story. Heather has said that she has loved Channing her entire life and through this book we get to see the depth and length of that love. Their love isn’t pretty, it isn’t storybook, but it is their love. Every emotional up/down, trust/mistrust and hidden secret/revelation is what makes them Heather and Channing. This book goes to show that not every love is picture perfect and that there are many kinds of love.

Heather is a no nonsense, take charge, lady balls present and accounted for, bad ass woman. Her character is one of my favorites (next to Sam) and it was a joy to read about a female lead who had no qualms about standing her ground.

As with Heather, Channing also presents with a not so easy life. He is dark, mysterious, brooding and extremely charismatic. In Tijan’s book, Crew, we got to see the insides of a crew (what they are, how they work, etc.) We are also introduced to Channing’s sister, Bren. TBIGUW continues with the relationship of Channing and Bren and Bren’s involvement with a crew. After suffering a loss, Channing’s idyllic lifestyle begins to change. Through this changing period is when things really start to turn Channing into the distant and closed off person he is of the present. Heather and Chan have a toxic and back/forth relationship. They both know this, but when you’ve been connected to someone since first grade, it’s hard to walk away. Tijan did a fantastic job of eliciting this back and forth relationship while maintaining the history of the couple. They both know they are better off apart (Heather deserves more, and Channing knows Heather deserves better). The question is: how do you walk away from someone you’ve loved for almost as long as you’ve been alive?

Tijan wrote this book in the present sense, but through flashbacks, we get to see some of the more lighthearted and fun times between Heather and Channing. We are also blessed with a phenomenal epilogue. I hope this is a sign of things to come!!

I loved Heather and Channing, despite the grittiness of their relationship. Tijan wrote this book to also elicit many emotions from the reader. I laughed, cried, was pissed off, shocked and just plain fell in love along with Heather and Channing!

4.5 ‘long term love’ stars

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