Friday, November 27, 2015

Sebring (Unfinished Hero #5) by Kristen Ashley @KristenAshley68

The finale to a beloved series makes me melancholy, but one from this author totally devastates me. I have a hard enough time letting go of Ms. Ashley’s characters and the excitement that overcomes me the first time I step into their literary worlds. Saying goodbye is excruciating, since I’m always anxious for the next installment. Through the power of KA’s flawless descriptive writings, I’ve emotionally attached myself to Knight, Creed, Raid and Deaconfeeling as if they somehow magically became real. As much as I wanted my hands on Nick’s romance, it broke me knowing that the story line was coming to an end.

Stepping into Sebring, I faced a great challenge with getting to know and hopefully liking Nick, the ‘dark horse’, introduced in Knight.  Bracing myself, the struggle was real because, lets face itNick was a douche. Nevertheless, I liked the challenge of an edgy bad-boy reinventing himself in a way that leaves me no choice but to fall for him. By the end of the prologue, Nick had my heart wrapped tight around his little pinky finger. Olivia (Livvie) and Nick’s erotic romance superbly capped this series and once again, Kristen Ashley overwhelmed me with yet another deeply passionate, highly emotional, poignant tale.

If you have not read the series in its entirety, I highly recommend jumping on that pronto to understand Nick’s mindset. His character started off (in prior installments) as someone I loathed. Jealous, spoiled, sabotaging – he took full advantage of his brother, Knight.  After reading Sebring, I hate reflecting back on the asshole he used to be. But, it’s crucial to remember his beginnings to appreciate his character’s transformation. When a hero/heroine is at their worst, Ashley is at her best as she triumphantly scripts their path towards redemption. I absolutely savored seeing Nick struggle from his lowest point, work hard to piece his life back together, while winning my affection along the way.

I loved the man he became. Loved how he earned the respect of his brother, friends and family. Adored how Nick forced himself through the cracks of Livvie’s armor, drawing her from the darkness of fear into dawn’s light. He had my nerves twisted in knots with his elaborate plan of using Livvie to avenge the murder of his late girlfriend/partner, Hettie (his target being Vincent Shade). But without a doubt, his feelings for Livvie were sincere practically from the start. His heart and soul belonged to Olivia Shade as he placed her needs above all else. It may have taken Nick a while, but in his struggle, he found strength for the sake of his love. That’s the true beauty of this tale. The man Nick Sebring became is compassionate, understanding, selfless and fiercely protective of Livvie. Even though Nick’s an anti-hero (overly dark, edgy and living by his own set of rules), to me he’s also a true Alpha-hero in every sense of the word. He was the perfectly flawed, dynamic protagonist.

Seeing Livvie’s life was achingly painful. Trapped under her father’s (a nefarious, heartless bastard) control, she played the role of his dutiful daughter, while helping to run the crumbling ‘family business’. She survived by maintaining a stone-cold facade. Her somber character made my heart bleed when seeing into her dark and lonely life. What I admired the most was, hidden beneath the shroud of sorrow, stood a woman of great strength who dared to hope. I desperately wanted Livvie to find happiness, and it shattered me knowing she was the pawn in Nick’s plan. My anxiety level soared knowing that the realization would send her reeling. Fortunately for her (and my nerves), what began under false pretenses became very real rather quickly for Nick, when realizing Olivia Shade is not what she appeared to be. She was desolate. She was vulnerable. She was trapped in a prison created by her family and Nick made it his mission to unravel the layers and free her from darkness. He found exquisite beauty in his Livvie and a second chance to love again. In the end, Nick was amazingly romantic as he moved heaven and earth in hopes of bringing Livvie much deserved love and joy.
From the onset, these two ignited in a frenzied fury of erotic explosions. Their sexual chemistry was unrivaled and wild. It was combustible. I was constantly fanning myself down as they frantically battled for domination during each passionate encounter. Nick was incredible and beyond sexy. As Livvie desperately needed affection, Nick consistently gave her everything, and I ate all the intensity up with a spoon. And I loved seeing their tumultuous affair become more than just a romp. Profound feelings of love developed, consuming both, which made me swoon.
I'm always giddy when seeing past loves pop up within the story-line. Knight, of course, comes into play and manages to make me fall even deeper in love with him. He openly welcomes Nick back into the fold and forgives. It was a truly remarkable moment of tenderness and healing between two brothers that struck a chord within my heart. There’s so much more substance to Kristen Ashley’s prose than just a beautifully scripted romance. There are inspirational messages conveyed through her character’s experiences, which brings to light the significance of forgiveness, redemption and family. Whether we are journeying through a motorcycle club, parallel universes, the burgs of Indy, the mountainous towns of Colorado, or in the city of Denver where men live by their own codes – these fundamentals are ever-present in her tales. It’s brothers and sisters lending an abundance of guidance, love and support in a time of need.  With each read, I walk away uplifted and tremendously moved as she feeds my soul.

Like all good things, this series came to an end and Sebring was phenomenal. It was one hell of a gripping erotic romance filled with nerve-wracking moments of angst as anti-heroes faced off against their vile foes. GAH! My anxieties climbed sky-high as Nair and Benito added even more drama and twists to the plot. I hated to let these sexy men gobut when one door closes, the promise of what’s to come opens. A secondary character from the Rock Chick Series, who teamed up with Nick, was heavily involved in this story line. I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping to see more of him in the future.

ARC received from Author in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Poughkeepsie Begins (The Poughkeepsie Brotherhood 0.5) By Debra Anastasia @Debra_Anastasia

4.5 Stars

Once upon a time, I fell in love with a man that lived in the shadows and counted the smiles of the girl he adored from afar. And thus began my journey to a small town in Upstate New York and into the lives of three brothers, bound not of blood, but by destiny. Poughkeepsie Begins brought me full circle, as Debra Anastasia beautifully recounts the heartbreaking events, trials and tribulations that forged the everlasting bonds between three memorable characters.

Seeing into the horrors they endured during their teenage foster care years, and the flashbacks into the wretchedness of their early childhood, Blake, Beckett and Cole’s stories made my heart bleed with sadness. The abuse, as difficult as it was to witness, allowed me to truly understand their mindset as well as set the stage for the men they were forced to become. The common factor between was the brutality suffered at the hands of the monsters that confined them. However, the experiences set them down separate paths, taking on particular roles, while vowing to remain a constant in each  others lives.  

Cole, the quietest of the three, underwent the most physical and mental abuse. Somber emotions overwhelmed me when seeing his breaking point – the pivotal moment that brought him to his knees while turning to his faith in order cope with the depravity that engulfed his life. It was devastating, yet hopeful knowing his faith brought him peace.

Cole is the dark horse in this series. On the surface he is soft spoken, understanding, pious and gentle. But buried beneath, lays a boy so lethal, it rivals the likes of Beckett’s deadly ways. Polar opposite forces rule his soul and I love the dynamics of his multifaceted persona.
Beckett is one slick son-of-a-bitch with a twisted sense of humor. I freaking love his witty and sarcastic ways. In a blink of an eye, he could bring down any unfortunate bastard who dares to get in his way, with either his cutting tongue or fists. Beck’s loyalty to his brothers is unrivaled. He is cast in the role as protector, and with it comes the responsibility to guard his brother’s well being.  Beck’s rise to power within the crime underworld is not driven by selfish greed or lust for power. It’s for the chance to obtain stability for his brothers. Their world is cruel, and by selflessly selling his soul, Beck tries to secure their future. And in doing so, he foregoes his chance at love by letting go of the one girl who was determined to save him. There’s honorable intentions buried beneath his immoral demeanor, and his self-sacrifice earned my respect.

My favorite hero within this series is definitely Blake. Don’t get me wrong, I have great love for all, but there is something special about the gentle aurora that surrounds Blake’s persona that touches me deeply. The boy, so shattered and riddled with fears, captured my heart from the very beginning. His dedication, compassion and calmness he unfailingly gives his brothers reminded me of all the reasons why I adored this sexy green-eyed hunk. The symphonic beauty radiating from his character’s soul pulled on my heartstrings and I will miss him greatly.

In Poughkeepsie Begins, Debra Anastasia brings to life some of the most outrageous, yet lovable characters. Her unique writing style harmonizes angst, heartache and dark humor with a touch of romance. The Poughkeepsie Brotherhood is one of my all time favorite series and although this novel is considered a standalone, I highly recommend reading all installments to fully appreciate her heroes’ experiences. Bravo, Debra, and thank you for bringing me back to the beginning.

ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Crush (Tainted Love Series #2) by Kim Karr @authorkimkarr

4 – 4.5 Suspense filled stars

The saga continues to unravel in Kim Karr’s Tainted Love Series finale, Crush.

I could not wait to get my hands on this sequel and glad when it quickly picked up, right where I was left dangling by my fingertips, over a cliff in Blow. Tensions escalated and ran sky high as Logan and Elle’s love and relationship strengthened despite unknown forces and past enemies working in a concerted effort to rip them apart. 

There’s some push and pull drama at first as Logan struggles with his fears over imminent threats against his Elle. Nevertheless, his desires and the overwhelming need to safeguard her could no long be denied. I loved his determination and over-protective Alpha tendencies when it came to Elle’s safety. He claims all of her; works tirelessly to shield her from harm as no one, not the mob or the feds, will stand in their way. Logan was the perfectly sexy, dominating hero.

Karr always delivers sizzling romances coupled with extreme angst and mysteries layered within its plot. I’m always on edge, fully engrossed, as the tension she builds skyrockets. In Crush, the web of secrets and dangers that surround this couple held me captivated as my nerves were frazzled, trying to piece together clues peppered throughout this fast paced story.  And as I tried to pay close attention to the tiniest of details, surprise plot twists had me gasping. Always expect the unexpected when savoring this author’s tales.

Crush had it all – murders, mysteries, mayhem…the mobster element (which gave me a ‘Soprano’s’ meets ‘The Departed’ vibe), nail-biting drama and heart pounding moments. I was on the edge of my seat throughout most of this read. Although I would not consider this a dark romance, there were times of gloom and doom that crushed me with dread and sadness.

                             A life for a life…

Elle was a somewhat strong heroine who grew more confident as the story progressed, but Logan stole the show for me. He was just the perfectly devoted, swoon-worthy knight in shining armor whose raw passion and dominance caused my heart to pitter-patter. He was so sweet and gentle as he put Elle’s needs before his own.

This series was a tense roller coaster ride and a good choice for fans of romantic suspense. I was totally consumed and pulled deeper and deeper within the story-line, falling in love with a cast of unforgettable characters. Another beautifully written, scorching hot romance from Author Kim Karr. 

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

Monday, November 16, 2015

Untamed (Thoughtless #4) by S.C. Stephens

4 Stars

Finding out Griffin “The Hulk” Hancock was getting his own book…

I was overjoyed and could not wait to crawl inside Griffin’s crazy mind. Throughout the Thoughtless Series, his character came across as the comic relief to an otherwise serious, angst filled story.  In Untamed, we get all of Griffin – His lunacy, his outlook on life and seeing the world through his eyes. The experience was interesting, to say the least. I can unequivocally say that Griffin is the most delusional, self-centered character I have ever come across, yet I adored him. This bad boy bassist has the largest ego – ever. His world and everything he touches is… Awesome.

Beyond his clueless idiocy, lays the heart of a man who learns life’s lessons the hardest of ways. In losing it all, Griffin struggled and learned not to take life, family and friends for granted. And in his struggle, he worked hard to regain the adoration of those who love him. I have to say he drove me nuts with all his misguided views and poor decisions.  But, I cherished how he matured and sought redemption.

For most of the story Griffin, in his uniquely comical way, exasperated me with his stubbornness, jealousy and selfishness. The mistakes and circumstances he got involved in had me both giggling at his hijinks and wanting to smack some sense into him.

Poor Anna, I felt terrible for all her frustrations. Her husband was a handful, driving her (and me) to the point of vexation at times. 

By hitting rock bottom - losing fame, fortune and his family, reality FINALLY sank into his thick skull. Griffin was smacked silly with a huge wake up call, forced into maturity and took responsibility for his actions. This is where I’ve come to adore him even more – the clueless Hulk grew up. 

This story was a great departure in style and tone from the previous installments of this series. It was a refreshing change to see Stephens penning a tale mostly filled with levity in comparison to the emotional angst fill heaviness that draped Kiera and Kellan’s romance. Yes, there were serious moments, but for the most part, Untamed was a lighthearted read. As much as I love Kellan, I am a hulk fan girl too. I liked Griffin jumping into Untamed and walked away cherishing his character. I always appreciate a good story involving a character’s redemption and Griffin certainly proved himself to me despite his stupid, ridiculous mistakes.  He grew and learned to treasure the important things in life…his wife, his family and friends. I loved seeing more of Kellan…*sigh*…and the rest of the D-bags. For a fan of the series, this is a must read and I do hope Stephens continues the series by giving Evan and Matt their own romances. I don’t want to let these characters go.

Arc kindly received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pucked Up (Pucked #2) by Helena Hunting @HelenaHunting

4.5 Sunshine Filled Stars

I think youre my orgasm soulmate.
Ill be whatever kind of soulmate you want, Sunny Sunshine
When first meeting the NHL hockey player Miller “Buck” Butterson in Pucked, I have to admit, I really didn’t think much of him. Then again, I was judging him from Violet’s point of view. All his Yeti-ness gave me a douchey, man-slut, puck-bunny banger vibe. But, falling for his teammate’s sister changed Buck and I never thought I would come to love him more than Alex, but it’s true.

The real Miller was so much more than the hairy, knucklehead party boy his stepsister Vi painted him to be. He was swoon-worthy sexy, genuinely sweet and totally sincere. Yet, Miller seemed somewhat insecure despite his cocky attitude. When his feelings for Sunshine (Alex’s sister who we briefly met in Pucked) became serious, Miller was smitten and totally committed to building their relationship. But, living the star athlete lifestyle, parties and one-night-stands with hockey groupies are all he knows. So being clueless and having virtually no experience with relationships, Miller is at a loss and manages to get himself into trouble… a shitload of trouble… and often. Severely lacking common sense and good judgment, his crazy antics – from drunken social media postings and dickpics going viral to spider bites swelling his his balls – Miller manages to hurt poor Sunny’s feelings. Nevertheless, his hijinks had me in fits of laughter; I couldn’t control myself, because he was one funny bastard. The thoughts that swirled around in his crazy mind were ridiculously comical. However, in all seriousness, I fell in love with him as his character grew and matured from a total player to a caring, loving and devoted man.

Sunshine was an adorably sweet hippie type of girl who had an aura of innocence about her. Not fully trusting Miller’s sincerity, Sunny had doubts about their relationship. I couldn’t fault her, he did have a terrible playboy reputation. Besides, he got himself involved in utterly stupid situations that put him in a bad light, regardless if most were out of his control. However, she had the tendency to listen to everyone's opinion, rather than her own heart, which caused her to make silly mistakes that added angst within the story line. Miller’s heart belonged to Sunny, and all comedy aside, he truly loved her and bent over backwards to show just how much he cared for her.

Fans of Pucked will be happy (I know I was) to see Violet, in all her sarcastic and snarky glory as well as Alex (Mr. “MC” himself), popping in and out of the story line. Vi is loonier than ever, but Alex surprisingly annoyed me. He was a little harsh and too judgmental towards poor Miller. They buck (no pun intended) heads often, which added drama to everyone’s life. After all, Sunshine is Alex’s little sister, so he was a wee bit overprotective when it comes to Miller possibly screwing her over. Regardless…I still love Alex aside from his overbearing ways.

I really liked seeing more interaction between Miller and Vi and having better insight into their relationship. They share a special bond and he adores her in a strictly sisterly kind of way. There were times they over shared, which added another layer of hysterics to the story. They are truly two insane characters. As crazy as Vi can be, she is the voice of reason and supports Miller by giving him advice, and guiding him to become the man that Sunshine needed.

Written entirely from Miller’s point of view, Helena Hunting’s Pucked Up was the funniest romantic comedy I’ve come across this year. Once I jumped in, I could tear myself away. Can't even express how funny some of the scenes were in this read. Tears were streaming from my eyes...doubled over in fits of uncontrollable laughter. It's a fan-fucking-tastic series and a must read if you’re in the mood for light-hearted sweet love stories that will bring you to the brink of sidesplitting hilarity. Looking forward to more hot and hilarious hockey players – bring on Lance and Randy’s romances!

 ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Walk Through Fire (Chaos #4) by Kristen Ashley @KristenAshley68


Once finishing my first read (Yes, I confess, I needed to savor this one several times) I had to step back, catch my breath and process all the feels. This one totally did me in above and beyond any…and I mean ANY of Kristen Ashley’s tales. I was completely destroyed throughout most of this story courtesy of Millie. For personal reasons, I connected with her character, her heartache and all that she had suffered; she just touched me more than any other heroine I’ve encountered.  There was so much to take in – the raw passion, the love, the hurt, the correlation between the beauty of this couple’s second chance and the pain endured during years of separation... I was an emotional wreck. Cried ugly tears and sniffled my way through boxes of tissues before the broken pieces of my soul were placed back together. Walk Through Fire was amazing and worth every damn tear I shed.

Walk Through Fire is the fourth installment in my absolute favorite biker series – CHAOS. This time, it’s the enigmatic Logan “High” Judd’s turn to rip off his mask and tell his story. In past novels, High struck me as both mysterious and troublesome.  I didn’t know what to expect from his character and honestly, when meeting him in Motorcycle Man I didn’t care for him. He was at odds with MY Tack, bucking heads and creating tension within the club. It left a bad taste in my mouth. So going in, I braced myself for the intensity and edginess of his character, and it took me some time to warm up to him.

I have to admit, there were parts of this story where I had a difficult time with High’s character. There were times I saw the ugliness in the callous way he treated Millie (mind you, it was when they first reunited and before they had a chance to sort their heads out). I get why he was angry, cold hearted and hurtful. Millie unexpectedly and inexplicably tossed Logan out of her life twenty years ago, but he and his brothers were beyond harsh. (Hop, you pissed me off, brother, and I am still holding a grudge).  

But then, I reached a turning point when realizing High was trapped within the confines of his own hell.  Losing Millie destroyed him, turning him into a bitter man, who’ll do anything to numb his heartache. Meeting Millie again, after all these years apart, he was desperate to guard himself from further hurt.  Seeing his pain chipped away all the resentment I held and he had my sympathies.

The story itself frequently flashes back to the past, showing their beginnings as well as the three years they were together. Their love was beyond beautiful and I absolutely adored the younger, carefree Logan that gave his heart entirely to Millie. She was his world and losing her broke him, so I totally get why he was unpleasant. Once all hell breaks loose and Millie FINALLY explains why she pushed Logan away, (excruciatingly intense scene) I saw his tender side emerged, causing me fall deeper in love with him. Beneath all the sexy ruggedness, lies a passionate man who is forgiving, loving and compassionate. 

Working through my moods swinging from raging anger to swooning over all the magnificence that was High, I have to say all along, he was one sizzling sonnavabitch. Every time he spoke Hear?”   I freaking melted. I love a sexy bad boy and just thinking about all his hotness gets me all riled up.  

Millicent Cross… her life tore me to shreds and made my heart hurt. In the flashbacks, we see a young, vivacious girl who’s head over heels in love with the quintessential biker bad boy. They worked hard to build a life together, planning their dreams and finding comfort within the club. Until one day, it all fell apart.

Here’s the thing that pains me about Millie - of her own volition, she walked away from true love, shattered Logan’s heart into smithereens, while sentencing herself to a hopeless life filled with loneliness. She suffered silently.

With out revealing any spoilers, Millie had her reasons – and when discovering them, I was a goner and sobbed. But my head and heart were conflicted. In the back of my mind I wanted to scream at Millie and knock some sense into her shouting NO! How could you do such thing? Logan’s hot, sweet and sexy, just talk to him! However, my heart understood exactly why she chose to walk through fire for her man. Millie loves Logan so completely, that when realizing she could not give him everything, she sacrificed herself to give him a chance to have it all. As foolish as it may sound to purposely break two hearts, her actions where undeniably selfless and in the end, she gave Logan the greatest gift. Her strength was immeasurable and her devotion to Logan was absolute as she carried the burden of blame for years.

Understanding aside, it was hard for me to rationalize Millie’s decision; I was crushed and decimated in seeing her anguish. Ashley penned Millie’s character in such a way that I actually felt her emptiness echoing inside me, slicing through my heart, leaving me aching. KA proved once again the power she holds over my emotions.

Once the truth came pouring out, two decades worth of anger, bitterness, resentment and pain were transformed into steamy passion. Millie and High embraced the mistakes of the past and love they share in hopes of moving on to heal one another.  It was one hell of a roller coaster ride feeling every emotion these characters experienced - from moments of laughter and levity, to gut wrenching confessions, I held on tight and enjoyed the ride.  

Of course I relished all the drama. The angst involved with Benito causing problems for club, Elvira and the Old Ladies meddling in everyone’s affairs, family issues complicating Logan and Millie’s lives…so many nail biting moments and I savored all the craziness. The epilogue was shorter than what I am used to, but it was sweet regardless and laid groundwork for what may come in the next installment (cross fingers it will be Hound’s story). What I loved most of all were the flashbacks to not only the beginning if this couples’ relationship, but the earlier days of Chaos before Tack took the helm. Seeing wee little Tabby and Rush (so adorable) and finally meeting Black, the brother Chaos tragically lost. I was all weepy eyed getting to know him briefly only to mourn him.

Another soul touching romance gifted from Kristen Ashley’s beautiful imagination.  Walk Through Fire was a story of sacrifice, forgiveness, redemption and the everlasting power of love. A story about strong heroine who walk through the fires of hell for her man, and a hero who worked tirelessly to mend the broken heart of his one true love despite his own pain.  As far as awarding stars to this read, there aren’t enough stars in the sky. Thank you, Kristen, for voicing Millie’s story so eloquently and bringing to life the heartache involved with her circumstances. This was not an easy story for me to read, but the experience was incredible.

ARC received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review