Monday, August 15, 2016

Midnight Soul (Fantasyland #5) by Kristen Ashley @KristenAshley68


This quote from Broken Dove haunted me for so long. Each time I came across the highlighted passage on my kindle, I had a feeling the mysterious woman would be Franka Drakkar. Despite the fact I loathed her character, I always believed she could prove worthy of the gallant Noctorno Hawthorne’s affections. I could have done cartwheels when learning Franka was destined for Noc, finally getting the chance to tell her story in the series finale ~ Midnight Soul. 
Now if you’re a fan of the series, you might think I’m whacked, getting all excited over Franka. After all, she’s one fierce and traitorous shrew. Honestly, I loved hating her villainous, manipulative ways. Regardless, Franka fascinated me. I wanted to see what circumstances caused her to be so openly cruel. I craved to see Noc work his way through her defenses. Most importantly, no one writes a story of redemption quite like Kristen Ashley, the likes of which are my favorite type of read. In Midnight Soul, gone was the Franka I once despised and in its place, a strong heroine I’ve come to respect and adore.
Noc and his “Frannie” were truly destined for each other and perfect together.They were two broken souls in need of healing and I was an emotional wreck seeing not only the life-long horrors Franka endured, but also Noc’s insufferable pain.
All her life, Franka believed she carried darkness within her soul, But through all the beauty that was Noc ~his gentleness, patience and love ~ Franka discovered her true self while starting over in a foreign world. I admired the person that was hidden behind the mask. Her strength, her bravery, her willingness to right all the wrongs, the sacrifices she made, learning to put trust in others and the way she supported Noc during his time of need... I was amazed how her character flourished into a lovingly kind and often humorous woman. In the end, I felt absolutely guilty for despising her in the first place.
Noc was incredibly sexy and tenderhearted. A man with a heart of gold, troubled by his own darkness, yet selflessly tended to the needs of his woman before all else. I loved the way he consistently gave what Frannie needed ~ comfort, understanding the woman she needed to be in order to survive, support, time to mourn and the freedom to drop all her defenses and just be.  His gentleness and compassion were limitless. And when Franka’s circumstance came to light, I instantly fell for the way Noc stepped up to guard and protect her. He was a true noble hero in every sense of the word.
Franka and Noc’s romance was inspiring as well as beautiful. Midnight Soul was a powerful, slow burn love story of passion, forgiveness, healing and self-discovery. Low on angst in comparison to the other books within this series, the story told mainly focused on Noc and Franka’s journey from friendship to love. Kristen Ashley never ceases to overwhelm me with her magical story telling talents, which touches my soul and always leaves me wanting more from her imagination. (One character in particular ~ Valentine. I need her story). It saddens me that this great series has come to an end. But, I enjoyed seeing all the past couples heavily involved within the story line, as well as meeting new and lovable characters. And that epilogue…WOW! As I expected, Ashley brought me to tears yet again. 

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

Fantasyland Series

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Ruthless (Lawless #1) by Lexi Blake @authorlexiblake

4.5 Stars

Lexi Blake is one of my favorite BDSM novelist and the absolute best when it comes to writing erotic stories that are not only off the charts steamy, but intriguing as well. Yeesh, found within the pages of her books are some of the sexiest flogger-wielding Alpha-Doms ever. (I freaking love all the McKay-Taggart hotties in the Masters and Mercenaries novels). When finding out there was a new series coming along, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on the first installment, Ruthless.

Even though Riley and Ellie’s romance was a departure from Blake’s BDSM style that I adore, it was no less captivating. Ruthless had everything I love whenever reading this author’s tales ~ an exceptionally written nail biting story line whose plot twists had me on edge; An un-be-lievably hot yet romantically sweet hero; a sassy heroine; And a cast of colorful characters that left me wanting to discover their stories. From the emotionally heartbreaking prologue that had me all teary-eyed, through to the last page, Ruthless was an angst filled passionate read that I consumed in just one sitting.

As children, Riley Lawless and his siblings suffered the horrific tragedy of their parents’ murder, which was rooted by corporate greed. After years of plotting and positioning, it was time for those responsible to pay for their crimes. It was Riley’s responsibility to insinuate himself into Eleanor Stratton’s company and seduce her. Her firm, StratCast, was founded on stolen technology and his parents’ blood shed. Regardless of the fact that Ellie was not directly responsible for the Lawless’ death, she was instrumental in the grand scheme.
“The sins of the father were about to be visited on the daughter’s doorstep. Ellie Stratton would have to pay her father’s debt.”

Using her was just part of the plan. Consumed with vengeance, Riley was ruthless in his pursuit of bringing down his targets but surprised when the unthinkable happened… he fell hopelessly in love with Ellie.

“I love you, Ellie. I'm going to say it until you understand that I mean it. This started out as a job, as a path I've been on since the night my parents died. But it led me to you, and though I wish my mom and dad were here with me, I have to be happy that I found you.”

The chemistry between this couple was scorching. With their whirlwind insta-romance starting off hot and heavy, but based on Riley’s secrets and lies, I found myself anxiously holding my breath waiting for everything to unravel as the story progressed. All the passion and deceits frayed my nerves.  On top of all the relationship angst, there were plot twists, bad guys and circumstances that had me on edge as well. Secrets, betrayals, murderous plots, unending suspense… with each revelation more questions arose as I became fully immersed within Riley and Ellie’s story. I just love when a book is so gripping, each intricate detail has a meaning, and I’m forced to pay close attention while piecing together the puzzle. Ruthless was exactly that type of read.

Riley was delectably sexy and so tenderhearted, he had me swooning. A shrewd lawyer with a plan of attack, he was fueled by his family’s need for justice. I loved the way his character journeyed from the stone cold man solely focused on revenge, to a true and dedicated hero willing to sacrifice everything for Ellie. And when her world came crumbling down, it was Riley who came to her rescue. Desperate for her forgiveness and affections, Riley worked hard to right the all wrongs that destroyed Ellie, despite his family’s thirst for vengeance. Once deceptive and later sincere, he won me over with his overly romantic ways.
 “He'd seen everything he loved lost at one point or another, but she was different. He couldn't lose her.”

Poor Ellie. She was everyone’s pawn and so eager to trust those who were part of her close circle. Friends, colleagues, family… all took advantage of her sympathetic heart. A businesswoman with ethics, Ellie found herself surrounded by conniving vipers, including the man of her dreams. Living a lonely life, she took a chance on Riley, which in the end shattered her to pieces.

As naive and insecure as she first appeared, Ellie developed a backbone when her life spun out of control, and I admired the way she stubbornly stood her ground against those who betrayed her. But above all, Ellie was compassionate and regardless of her dire circumstances, she opened her heart to the entire Lawless clan. In the end, her love for Riley was genuine ~ she was the perfect woman to break through all of his defenses and help heal past heartaches.

Ruthless was an extremely intense novel that had all the feels. I loved the McKay-Taggart connection and the Lawless family dynamics. Riley and Ellie’s journey was just the beginning of an intricate story line and I can’t wait for it to continue in Brandon and Andrew’s romances. Another great read from Lexi Blake and a perfect choice for lovers of steamy romantic suspense.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bossman by Vi Keeland @ViKeeland

4 Stars
Vi Keeland is one of my favorite go to authors. My fondness for her stories all began with Nico in “Worth the Fight” and with each subsequent read, I fell a little more in love with her writing style and characters ~ especially her luscious heroes. “Bossman” did not disappoint. It was just as steamy hot as the gorgeous man on the cover. A sweet, heartfelt romance filled with loads of passion, moments of laughter and a hint of drama. Sexual tensions ran high as I was immediately hooked within Chase and Reese’s world.

Reese Annesley’s a strong willed and sassy New York City girl who’s down on her luck when it comes to her career and love life. While in the midst of a boring date from hell, she crosses paths with the dynamic Chase Parker. He’s drop dead sexy, charismatic, overly confident, and a colorful storyteller. I loved how his magnetic personality managed to both attract and piss off Reese from the moment they met. He definitely caught her attention; despite the fact their first encounter was a rocky. Reese was immediately consumed and intrigued by all things Chase, which put her in a precarious position when hired at Parker IndustriesChase’s corporation.

I liked Reese’s cheekiness and wit. She was sassy and stubborn, which caused oodles of tension in the story-line, as she fought her attraction to Chase.  It had me on edge at times, patiently anticipating the moment where she finallyfinally caved. Reese certainly took her time surrendering to her desires.

I adored the tall, dark, handsome and oh so charming Chase. Loved his relentless pursuit to bed Reese, not giving a crap she was an employee. Although mostly funny and quick witted, Chase had an air of mystery surrounding his character. He slowly unraveled all the reasons why he was total commitment phobe. The complicated love affair with the feisty Reese not only heated up in the bedroom, but it stirred feelings and fears buried deep within Chase’s heart.

Chase was an incredibly lovable hero that had me swooning. I adored his personality, which oozed so much sexiness. But man, was he a stubborn boy at times. Consumed by past heartache and anxieties, Chase made some poor decisions. I wanted to (lovingly) bop him over the head and snap him out of his funk while reading the last few chapters. Nevertheless, even though he vexed me at times, his character shined. My heart went out to Chase, seeing all his sorrow, guilt and regrets.

All in all, another enjoyable and well-written romance from Vi. From beginning to end this read held me from the funny, lighthearted moments, through to the emotionally driven heartaches. I must confess that I wanted more insight into this couple’s future and explore their relationship further. That happens to me sometimes when I become invested within the lives of certain characters. Regardless, “Bossman” was a hit for me and it had all the feels. I highly recommend this fun and flirty read. 

Received from author in exchange for an honest review


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley #2) Alice Clayton @alice_clayton

That’s why I fell for Oscar the Grouch. I can’t resist a hero who praises a great big ass.

Cream of the Crop is the second installment in the Hudson Valley Series and can be read as a stand-alone novel. But then, you’d miss all the crazy hijinks in Clayton’s Nuts, where the main characters, Oscar and Natalie, first appeared.

This was a sweet and steamy ‘opposites attract’ romantic comedy that had me chuckling and swooning. A buoyantly funny story filled with a dynamic cast of characters, sizzling passion and a touch of drama. Everything I love whenever reading one of Clayton’s tales.  And Oscar…Sigh…He was delectable.

Natalie Grayson ~ buxom, sassy, stylish and overly confident businesswoman is a Manhattan gal through and through, and a girl after my own heart. I liked her snarky and bold demeanor, despite her size, which she worked to her advantage. She was no wallflower and a little stubborn at times, but seeing her past experiences, I understood where her character was coming from. She certainly was one heck of a self-assured quick-witted heroine. However, that entire self-confident attitude went straight out the window as her undying love of cheese forced Natalie to cross paths with the hot and hunky diary farmer named Oscar Mendoza. Seeing him at the local farmers market each week became an obsession, and this boisterously ballsy city girl became all frenzied as she hysterically lost her cool whenever they met. So began the slow burn cat and mouse chase as this couple comically yet feverishly collided.
Oh man, did I adore Oscar. He brought broodiness to a whole different level. Tall, dark, tatted and surrounded by a hint of mystery, this diary farmer was sweet as he was sexy. He was an enigma at first, being the furthest thing from chatty, as his end of their conversations had been barely more than monosyllabic. It took some time to unravel and get to the heart of him, but in the end, Oscar was loveable. There were times I felt he was too laid back when drama and obstacles befell this couple. They had a fair share of troubles to overcome. I prefer the type of hero who is dominant and assertive when it comes to claiming the heart of his woman, and Oscar was a little too relaxed at times. Nevertheless, he managed to win me over in the end.

I enjoyed Natalie and Oscar’s story ~ an all around entertainingly fun and witty read filled with loads of hotness. Loved revisiting the characters from Nuts, namely sexy Leo, as well as loony Roxie, Chad and the rest of the Bailey Falls gang. I recommend this lighthearted read and series to Alice Clayton fans and lovers of romantic comedies.

ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Monday, June 20, 2016

ALWAYS (Spiral of Bliss #5) by Nina Lane @NinaLaneAuthor

Perfection. Nina Lane penned an exquisite ending to her heartfelt romantic series. Professor Dean West, I fell in love with you all over again.

I was delighted and honored to receive the ARC for Always. I followed this couples’ journey from the beginning, and with each tale, my love and adoration for these characters flourished. Their love, their missteps, their pain, their growth, everything they endured, touched me in an unforgettable way. This is without a doubt one of my all time favorite series and there are not enough stars in the sky to award my beloved Dean, his beauty Olivia, and this read. Once finishing Always, I found myself at a loss. Unable to find the words that can fully explain how my heart felt as I stepped inside their truly incredible love story. I can try, but my words will never do their profound beauty justice.

I. Was. Floored.
Astounded by this bittersweet, emotionally driven finale. It is here where they face an unexpected, life-altering obstacle. Liv continues to strengthen her resolve to push herself and her family forward, as Dean struggles with the fact that some situations are beyond his control. He cannot slay all the dragons, but will do anything and everything for the love of his life.

Dean West ~ the bravest and most valiant knight, whose kinks and flaws in his armor made him THE PERFECT hero. My love for his character is immeasurable. The professor was just as swoon worthy, commanding and sexier than ever. All his passion, his vulnerability, his devotion, the fathomless love for his beauty, scorched my soul. I just wanted to crawl inside this story and wrap my arms around him.

Olivia ~ one of the most gentle, soft-spoken heroines ever, and I absolutely adored her. Just like a butterfly, her transformation was remarkable ~ from the insecure timid girl I first met in Arouse, to an admirable woman of strength ~ she left me in awe.

Liv and Dean's journey was an epic love story that will be forever seared deep within my soul. I cherished every moment of their passion (these two, as always, are HOT); sniffled my way through their heartaches; giggled in their moments of levity; and those quirky jokes and drawings made me smile. As I made my way through each book within this series, Nina Lane held my heart in the palm of her hand, causing it to sing with joy over the triumphs or weep with sorrow in their moments of darkness. It was an absolutely incredible experience. I was filled with bliss seeing their continuing tale, but mourning the end of their journey. My only consolation is to revisit the quaint town of Mirror Lake whenever I feel these characters calling. If you love sizzling romances laced with passion, that will twirl your emotions, I highly recommend this series. And as always, I’m looking forward to Lane’s next magical romance.