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