BOOK REVIEW ~ RAZE BY TILLIE COLE

To take back life, one must first face death…
One man stripped of his freedom, his morals…his life.
Conditioned in captivity to maim, to kill and to slaughter, prisoner 818 becomes an unremorseful, unrivaled and unstoppable fighter in the ring. Violence is all he knows. Death and brutality are the masters of his fate.
After years of incarceration in an underground hell, only one thought occupies his mind: revenge…bloody, slow and violent revenge.
Revenge on the man who lied.
Revenge on the man who wronged him.
Revenge on the man who condemned him and turned him into this: a rage-fueled killing machine. A monster void of humanity; a monster filled with hate.
And no one will stand in the way of getting what he wants.
One woman stripped of her freedom, her morals…her life.
Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill ‘The Silencer’ Volkov, head of the infamous ‘Triad’ bosses of New York’s Russian Bratva. Her life is protected. In reality, it’s a virtual prison. Her father’s savage treatment of his rivals and his lucrative and coveted underground gambling ring—The Dungeon—ensures too many enemies lurk at their door.
She dreams to be set free.
Kisa has known only cruelty and loss in her short life. As manager of her father’s death match enterprise, only grief and pain fill her days. Her mafia boss father, in her world, rules absolute. And her fiancé, Alik Durov, is no better; the Dungeon’s five-time champion, a stone-cold killer, the treasured son of her father’s best friend, and her very own—and much resented—personal guard. Unrivaled in both strength and social standing, Alik controls every facet of Kisa’s life, dominates her every move; keeps her subdued and dead inside…then one night changes everything.
While working for her church—the only reprieve in her constant surveillance—Kisa stumbles across a tattooed, scarred, but stunningly beautiful homeless man on the streets. Something about him stirs feelings deep within her; familiar yet impossibly forbidden desires. He doesn’t talk. Doesn’t communicate with anyone. He’s a man beyond saving, and a man she must quickly forget…for both their sakes.
But when weeks later, out of the blue and to her complete surprise, he’s announced as the replacement fighter in The Dungeon, Kisa knows she’s in a whole lot of trouble. He’s built, ripped and lethally unforgiving to his opponents, leaving fear in his wake and the look of death in his eyes.
Kisa becomes obsessed with him. Yearns for him. Craves his touch. Needs to possess this mysterious man…this man they call Raze.

Even though this is only the second book I’ve read from Tillie Cole, I can already see what a versatile writer she is. I mean this in a good way but never in a million years did I expect the author of Sweet Fall – a highly emotional and poignant NA romance – to come up with a gritty and twisted mafia romance like this one. Though there were a few hiccups along the way, this book was INTENSE from start to finish. There is something special about this author’s writing that is just gripping and makes the book unputdownable. On top of that, there’s this hidden element to the romance that’ll be revealed early on in the story that just made my heart RACE. I was rooting for these characters hard!
Number 818 or ‘Raze’ is taken from his home when he was a young boy and then raised and brainwashed into a cold-blooded killing machine in the fighting rings, where one fights to kill. He doesn’t remember much about his past because of the drugs fed to him, only that he has one purpose: to get revenge on the man who wrongly accused him of a crime he didn’t commit. His search leads him to the heart of a ruthless death match enterprise and straight into the path of a blue-eyed girl whose face is eerily similar to the girl in his fuzzy memories.
Kisa Volkova is the daughter of the man who runs a savage underground fighting ring and betrothed to the long-time champion, a demented and truly twisted man who’s obsessed with possessing her. She’s well aware that in this mafia life, she has little say in what she wants and is physically and emotionally battered by her fiancé’s demands and the invisible iron cage her family has her own. Fully knowing that her heart belongs to another – a man she has never seen again since her childhood – Kisa has resolved herself to become the dutiful wife everyone in the mafia expects her to be.
On one fateful night, Kisa is saved from an unknown assailant by Raze, who’s come to the city to get his revenge against Alik Durov, who’s also Kisa’s fiancé. Without spoiling anything, Kisa and Raze have this insanely intense connection and can’t help but be drawn towards each other, even though their attraction is the last thing they need with Kisa already engaged to another and Raze only interested in his revenge plan.
The first half of this book left me breathless. My heart was pounding from the fight scenes, the sizzling chemistry between Kisa and Raze, and the hidden element to their romance that gave my heart a squeeze. I just wanted them to be together without any obstacles in their way, you know? But their road was not an easy one, and I’m glad the author made it bumpy or else it really would’ve cheapened their romance. I think my main concern with this book was the big discrepancy between the first and second halves of the story. It seemed too convenient that everyproblem Raze had (from his memory loss to revenge plan etc…) was wrapped up and concluded so nicely. The first half of the book really set a gritty and challenging pace for these characters and though I’m sure it wasn’t the author’s intention, I felt like the second half of the book got a little too cheesy and predictable. Nevertheless, my overall enjoyment of this story was high, and I could overlook these things because I was invested in the romance and genuinely cared about the characters’ welfare.
By the time I got to the end of the book, I was sad the story was ending and wished there was more. I love the mafia world the author set up and strangely enough, there were two side characters I loved just as much (maybe even a little more) than Kisa and Raze and whether or not it’ll happen, I wish the author could do books for them too: Rodion (Kisa’s brother) and fighter number 362 (Raze’s rival and friend). All in all, this story had my attention from beginning to end, got me invested in these characters, and had me wishing there was more to the story after it ended…which I think are all essential aspects that comprise a good book. I couldn’t be happier to end my 2014 reading year on a high note!
Raze is a dark contemporary romance set in the mafia world. It’s a true standalone and unrelated to the author’s other books.

BOOK REVIEW ~ LAST WILL & TESTAMENT BY DAHLIA ADLER

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.
But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you’re ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks… and that she’d like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he’s not the kind of guy who’d ever reciprocate.
Until he does.
Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.
Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

This book ranks high on my list of favorite NA romances. Though it has clichéd tropes (what NA book doesn’t?), the approach and execution was done very well and with ethnically diverse and easy to love main characters, an engaging storyline, and side characters that were both comical and warmed my heart, Last Will and Testament was a big winner for me!
“…life doesn’t give a shit about perfect timing or perfect circumstances; it just happens. And by now, I’ve lived enough to recognize that when something pretty damn good is coming your way, no matter how inconvenient, you should just fucking embrace it while you still can.”
What makes this book stand out from the typical NA romance is the strong heroine Lizzie Brandt. I can’t tell you just how refreshing it is to read about a heroine who actually deserves the title of female lead and doesn’t instantly turn into a giggler and a pile of mush when she meets the hero. She’s gutsy, bold, and snarky, but she has her fair share of flaws. I love how well-rounded her character is, and she’s everything a normal 18-year old college girl would be.
When she learns that both her parents passed away in an accident, Lizzie starts to realize there’s a lot more at stake than just her own needs: she has two younger brothers to take care of along with all the things her parents left behind, and she can’t afford to slack off in school any longer.
The one guy who has the potential to help her out of the mess and at the very least tutor her is her history TA, Connor Lawson. As I have an extreme weakness for intelligent and brainy heroes, Connor made me swoon at every moment. He’s nerdy, righteous, and so thoughtful, and goes far and beyond to help Lizzie. Though there’s no insta-love, subconsciously these two characters can’t help but want to be near each other and because they have totally opposite personalities, it was SO fun to see them clash and banter.
“Whose work are you ripping apart?
Yours. Constantine VI is best known for being the son of Constantine V? Really?
Best is subjective.”
As for the side characters, Lizzie’s younger brothers melted my heart! I loved seeing them interact with her and Connor and their naïveté was endearing. Several of their conversations gave my heart a squeeze and some had me smiling like a fool.
“I don’t know how to…I don’t know what I’m doing. I just know I like hanging out with you guys, and I’m crazy about your sister okay?”
“Gross. Aren’t you her teacher?”
Because of the forbidden nature of Lizzie and Connor’s relationship, there’s an expected amount of angst and drama but regardless of all the stolen moments and secrets they do stay strong and their feelings for each other never waver.
I did find some things to be a little inconsistent, like how a bright high school valedictorian could fall so, so low in college. I didn’t really buy into that part of Lizzie’s character and in addition the author does delve into the past a lot but not much development is seen there, so there’s a slight disconnect. It didn’t bother me too much though because Lizzie and Connor made such a great couple and I was entertained by their relationship dynamic and invested in their story. It speaks volumes to how much I enjoyed this book when I say that as a reader with a very short attention span, I just had to finish this book in one sitting and I actually wanted to continue to read it instead of watching my favorite anime show.
Last Will and Testament is a NA romance standalone and the first book in the Radleigh University series. The next book focuses on a side character.

BOOK BLITZ ~ ROOK & RONIN SERIES BY J.A. HUSS

How far are you willing to go to start over?
Rook Walsh is homeless, jobless, and down to her last ten bucks when opportunity knocks her in the head and delivers a once in a lifetime opportunity. Internationally renowned photographer, Antoine Chaput, knows the minute he spies Rook in his studio that she’s got The Look. The dark and desperate look he must have to land the exclusive TRAGIC media contract.
Rook is paired up with top model Ronin, and he knows exactly what to do to make her blush for Antoine’s camera. Her luck changes in an instant and suddenly she’s got more attention and exposure than she can handle—both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

TRAGIC is over and Rook is ready for the future—Spencer Shrike and the STURGIS contract!
It’s three months of body art modeling! That means three months of Spencer Shrike’s paintbrush all over her body, three months in front of Antoine’s camera, and three months of twenty-four-hour filming for Spencer’s Biker Channel reality show.
Wait a minute… what reality show? Maybe she should’ve read that STURGIS contract a little closer?
Sure, Rook’s bank account is overflowing, but Ronin is angry, Clare is trying to escape rehab, Antoine is a worried mess, and Elise is just trying to hold everyone together. Rook’s new family is about to fall apart before she even gets the chance to enjoy it.

Rook is chasing her dream—film school and a chance at a life beyond the one she ran from six months ago. But before she can become the girl she wants to be, she must deal with the girl she left behind.
Ronin is also chasing his dream—a family of his own and a life away from erotic modeling. And he too, has a past he’s trying to forget. A past that makes Rook question everything about their life together.
Lies, secrets, and shocking truths will rock the foundation Rook and Ronin have built. Can they put the past behind them and move forward together? Or is this just another too good to be true relationship that will crash and burn in the end?

The girl catches me staring and I hold my breath. But neither of us turns away. We stare, unabashed, until Antoine’s direction pulls her back into the shoot and she’s lost again—guarded and unhappy, frowning and resigned. She’s a blackbird sitting in a tree staring out at the world, daring the wind to come and knock her off the swaying bough.
She is wrecked, Elise is right. But she’s not down yet. The look on her face is defiant. When I look over at the clock it’s well past five. Antoine has been shooting her for almost two hours. Elise left a while back but whether she’s still here in the studio or up in her apartment, I have no idea. I lost track of her because my eyes are only on the girl.
Antoine does pretty well until the end. It’s clear he’s finished shooting and the girl is starting to look uncomfortable when he asks her what she was thinking about during the shoot. I cringe. No, you don’t ask them! You make them want to tell you, you idiot! I want to pull him aside and stop the crash and burn that’s coming, but it’s too late. She snaps at him and he pulls back when he realizes his mistake.
He turns the conversation to business and this is where it really gets interesting. She tells him she’s not a model and has no portfolio. I’m just about to laugh when she starts yelling about pictures as payment.
I look back towards Elise’s station and realize she forgot to explain the terms to her. We are so off our game today. One tragic girl has disrupted all the carefully laid plans and protocols we’ve had in place for years.
The tragic girl storms off yelling. Antoine walks over to me and we wait together as she rants to Elise.
“You better fix this, Antoine,” I say calmly, but inside I’m screaming too. “Pay the fucking girl, she needs the money.”
He snorts like a fucking Frenchman. “I do not pay for test shoots.”
“This,” I say, turning to face him, “was no test shoot and you know it. You’ve got hundreds of shots in that camera. Pay her and make sure she comes back or I won’t do the contract. I want her. I’ve put up with hundreds of stupid girls over the years for you and I’ve never asked you for a favor like this. I want this one, or I won’t do it.”
He fishes through his pocket and pulls out the cash that Clare never earned.
The studio door slams and we are all reminded that two models have walked out on us today.
“Elise!” Antoine calls, thrusting the bills out at her. “Catch her, pay her, and invite her back on Monday.”
Elise grabs the money and flies out the door.
“We’re in trouble, Ronin. She is trouble.” He turns a little to look me in the eye, something he rarely does unless he’s serious and wants me to consider his advice. “You should stay away from her, keep it professional. Or it might get messy.”
I shrug. “I’ll do what I want. And staying away from her isn’t even in the top million things I want to do with that girl.”
“Elise will hurt you if you ruin this one, Ronin. She won’t tolerate another Mardee.”
Fuck you, is what I think. But I don’t say it, I just sigh and we wait in silence for Elise to come back.
J. A. Huss likes to write new adult books that make you think and keep you guessing. Her favorite genre to read is space opera, but since practically no one reads those books, she writes new adult science fiction, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and books about Junco (who refuses to be saddled with a label).
She has an undergraduate degree in horses, (yes, really–Thank you, Colorado State University) and a master’s degree in forensic toxicology from the University of Florida. She used to have a job driving around Colorado doing pretty much nothing but shooting the breeze with farmers, but now she just writes, runs the New Adult Addiction and Clean Teen Reads Book Blogs, and runs an online science classroom for homeschoolers.

PROMO TOUR ~ AMOUR AMOUR BY KRISTA & BECCA RITCHIE

Love is a circus
“Every day,” he says lowly, “I hold a person’s life in my hands. The circus is based one-hundred percent off trust. I give it all to someone, and they give it all to me.”
The best aerial technique won’t land 21-year-old Thora James her dream role in Amour—a sexy new acrobatic show on the Vegas strip. Thora knows she’s out of her element the second she meets Amour’s leading performer. Confident, charming and devilishly captivating, 26-year-old Nikolai Kotova lives up to his nickname as the “God of Russia.”
When Thora unknowingly walks into the crosshairs of Nikolai’s after-show, her audition process begins way too soon. Unprofessional. That’s what Nik calls their “non-existent” relationship. It’s not like Thora can avoid him. For one, they may be partners in the future–acrobatic partners, that is. But getting closer to Nik means diving deeper into sin city and into his dizzying world.
Thora wants to perform with him, but when someone like Nikolai attracts the spotlight wherever he goes—Thora fears that she’s destined to be just background to his spellbinding show.
This sexy and exhilarating New Adult Romance can best be described as Cirque du Soleil meets the steamy, athletic romance of Center Stage.

Name: Shay
Dream Cast: Carlos Marti, model
 
Age: 22
Hair: Light brown
Eyes: Blue
 
Current Location: Columbus, Ohio
College: 3+ years at Ohio State
Born: Cincinnati, Ohio
Occupation: student
Likes:
Gymnastics
Pommel horse / vault
College life
His best friend
ESPN
Dislikes:
Risks without rewards
Avoidable mistakes
Low scores in gymnastics
Las Vegas
On a normal day you can find him: practicing with the Ohio State Gymnastics Team or at the gym, but he’ll always answer your calls and texts.
Krista & Becca Ritchie are identical twins—one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek—but with their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories. Now in their early twenties, they write about other twenty-somethings navigating through life, college, and romance. They love superheroes, flawed characters, and soul mate love. They are the New Adult authors of the Addicted series and Calloway Sisters spin-off series, and you can find them on almost every social media, frolicking around like wannabe unicorns.

BOOK REVIEW ~ AMOUR AMOUR BY KRISTA & BECCA RITCHIE

Love is a circus
“Every day,” he says lowly, “I hold a person’s life in my hands. The circus is based one-hundred percent off trust. I give it all to someone, and they give it all to me.”
The best aerial technique won’t land 21-year-old Thora James her dream role in Amour—a sexy new acrobatic show on the Vegas strip. Thora knows she’s out of her element the second she meets Amour’s leading performer. Confident, charming and devilishly captivating, 26-year-old Nikolai Kotova lives up to his nickname as the “God of Russia.”
When Thora unknowingly walks into the crosshairs of Nikolai’s after-show, her audition process begins way too soon. Unprofessional. That’s what Nik calls their “non-existent” relationship. It’s not like Thora can avoid him. For one, they may be partners in the future–acrobaticpartners, that is. But getting closer to Nik means diving deeper into sin city and into his dizzying world.
Thora wants to perform with him, but when someone like Nikolai attracts the spotlight wherever he goes—Thora fears that she’s destined to be just background to his spellbinding show.
This sexy and exhilarating New Adult Romance can best be described as Cirque du Soleil meets the steamy, athletic romance of Center Stage

This book was a unique, uplifting, and inspirational NA romance! It’s the kind of story that starts off decently but by the end your heart feels so full of love for ALL the characters in the book. I’ll be honest and say that I had trouble in the beginning because the heroine was too weak and the romance wasn’t the main focus, but I’m glad I continued with it. If I didn’t, I would’ve missed out on the heroine’s extraordinary character growth. I would’ve missed out on one of the very best literary heroes. And most importantly, I would’ve missed out on a few (but profound) heart-in-throat moments that captured the beauty of family bonds, deep friendship, and unconditional love. And in the end, isn’t that what NA is all about? About self-discovery, finding your passions, and pursuing those dreams, growing and maturing through all those experiences. In this aspect, KB Ritchie did a splendid job of portraying that dynamic, and it is this factor along with the 5+ star hero that convinced me that despite some hiccups along the way, this book deserves at least 4 stars.

The heroine Thora James is finally going after her life-long dream: heading out to Vegas to audition and be a part of a prestigious circus. A risky gamble, and despite her friends and family’s warnings, she persists in doing what her heart feels is right.
The hero Nikolai Kotova is one of the circus’s top performers and oozes charm and grace. He becomes Thora’s acrobatic trainer and though there’s no questioning there’s an attraction there, his focus is entirely on helping Thora become the best she can in time for her audition.
There’s been a lot of speculation, but I’d like to wipe the slate clean but saying there is absolutely no cheating. It’s easy to take a scene out of the book and blow it out of proportion, but because it’s out of context, you don’t get the full story…so my advice for those worrying about potential cheating, drama, and what-nots is to just go into the book without reservation because the story has so much to offer and it’s really not worth it to be hung up on miniscule issues that – in my opinion – don’t even exist.
As for the romance part, it starts off a little weak but gradually becomes stronger as the story progresses. Because of how dedicated Nikolai and Thora were, they willingly shelved their true feelings and always put their goals in the circus first, love second. But at the same time, it was obvious that their connection was undeniably soul-deep and though there’s some drama, Thora and Nikolai stay strong.
Another big plus this book has is the wonderful cast of side characters, and I mean each and every one of them were vital to this story. From Nikolai’s siblings to Thora’s parents and new friends made in Vegas, they provided comical relief and heightened the emotional impact in pivotal moments. They gave the book a family gathering feeling and it truly warmed my heart to see how close everyone was.
The only thing that I’d advise to be prepared for is the circus talk/acrobatic jargon. While unique and intriguing, the circus premise quickly wore me down and truthfully, I got a little bored with the ins and outs of the business. Nevertheless, it’s a big part of the book and what grounds both of the main characters so it didn’t get to the point where it was completely bothersome.
Though the book started off a little shaky, it ended with a bang. The overall message the story sends out is inspiring, the romance that finally blossomed was heartfelt and all the characters were 100% loveable.
Amour Amour is a NA romance standalone that’s unrelated to the author’s other books. But if you’re a fan of the Addicted series, you’ll get a nice surprise in this one 。
Rating: 4 stars!

 

BOOK REVIEW ~ CHASING THE TIDE BY A. MEREDITH WALTERS

The powerful continuation of the story that began in Reclaiming the Sand– a tale of love and forgiveness and learning to move on from a past that has come to define you.
Bully and Victim
Friend and Lover
Past and Future
Ellie McCallum and Flynn Hendrick’s story was as painful as it was devastating. But they were able to find within each other an unlikely yet beautiful love. Despite the obstacles that tried to keep them apart.
And together they rose out of the ashes of their tragic history.
Now years after their life changing reunion Ellie is back in Wellston, having just graduated from college and ready to start her future with the man who taught her how to love. However, returning to a town that held so much bitterness and anger was the last place she wanted to start over.
But for Flynn, who is now an art professor at the community college and firmly rooted in the place that gave them their beginning, she’d do just about anything.
Yet it’s difficult building a life when you’ve only just learned how to live.And love, no matter how strong, doesn’t always conquer all.
Ellie and Flynn must learn how far they are willing to go to stay together. Or whether the ghosts of the past will consume them both.
Because finding a happily ever after is harder than it seems. Particularly when you’re fighting against the one thing that could destroy you.
Yourself.

After reading the heartbreakingly emotional Reclaiming the Sand I was ecstatic to hear that there’d be a sequel. While I did think things were wrapped up nicely in the first book, I could never turn down more Ellie and Flynn, two characters I love with all my heart. It does sting a bit that I couldn’t rate this second book higher but I do want to say disappointment didn’t lead to this rating. I think there are two ways to look at ratings: on one end, disappointment leads to a drop in rating and on the other side, enjoyment level is high but just doesn’t quite hit a certain star rating. In this case, Chasing the Tide is the latter. I certainly liked it, and loved being able to reunite with these characters but I just can’t help but compare it to the first book and when I do, well…there’s just no comparison. Nevertheless, I do believe this book is crucial in fully concluding Ellie and Flynn’s story. I like that their story doesn’t end just because a happily-ever-after is stamped and this book explores conflicts that were touched upon in the first book, and seeing them work through their issues and fight for their love was definitely worth the read.
As known from the ending of book 1, Ellie heads off to college and pursues her dreams while Flynn stays behind, grounded to his hometown and the only life he’s familiar with. Now three years later, Ellie’s graduated and Flynn’s a teacher. Though they were able to keep a long-distance relationship, there is an uneasy tension between Ellie and Flynn. Their differing personalities, Ellie’s past mistakes, and Flynn’s disability weigh heavily against their love for each other, leading to conflict and arguments.
This story mainly focused on character psyche rather on plot, and how even though they’re together, Flynn and Ellie still have problems to work through before they can truly function as a couple. Ellie still harbors immense guilt for the way she treated Flynn in the past and even if he has forgiven her, she hasn’t been able to forgive herself. On the flip side, at times Flynn feels inferior and constantly worries he’s not good enough for Ellie, not the kind of boyfriend she wants.
While I believed these conflicts were explored and properly concluded in the first book, after reading this book I can definitely see a lot of issues were only briefly touched upon. I think I went into this book expecting ‘new’ conflicts and was a little surprised that it was somewhat of a rehash of the first story. I can’t say this book was unnecessary because it wasn’t. The characters needed this book in order to be able to fully move on. But as for me, the reader, the story just wasn’t as compelling as the first one was.
I’d still recommend this book but only to those readers who thought the ending in book 1 was rushed and wanted more details. This will be the book to smooth out those gaps and deliver a stunning ending to Flynn and Ellie’s story. I was one of the readers who thought book 1 was perfect as it was, yet no matter what, I would never turn down a book (even if it was a filler) with more Flynn and Ellie. Metaphorically, this story felt more like the icing on the cake rather than a cake itself.
Chasing the Tide is an optional companion novel to Reclaiming the Sand and should only be read after that book. It fully concludes Ellie and Flynn’s story.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
 
Rating: 3.5 stars!

 

BOOK REVIEW ~ SPARROW 59 BY DEVON ASHLEY

The Bourne Identity meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith for the New Adult crowd. 
Members of the CIA’s specialized team Sparrow, who investigate specifically into black market deals involving stolen medical research, were all murdered in one quick sweep. Drew and Samantha, team five-nine, have been more than just partners since their academy training days. Safeguarding their secret tryst from everyone in their professional lives, they trust no one but themselves. But when Samantha finds herself suspiciously spared and Drew missing, she doesn’t want to believe what the CIA claims – that Drew is not only alive and has defected from their organization, but is facilitating the deaths of prominent research developers worldwide. Now the only member of Sparrow who hasn’t been killed off, Samantha finds herself under serious investigation by association – and a prisoner within her own home.
Just when she’s on the verge of being labeled a murderer and a traitor herself, Drew activates a beacon only she can see, taunting her from across the world. He knows she’s watching, and she knows he could be gone forever if she doesn’t oblige his silent request. With nothing left to lose and everything to gain, Sam goes rogue to track him down and clear her good name. But when she finally catches up to her partner of four years, he hasn’t a clue who he is or what he’s done, and the men chasing him down suddenly want to acquire her as well.
Frantic yet determined, Samantha is forced to protect a man she no longer trusts in order to learn why he went astray – and why his associates are determined to retrieve him. But is Drew really a victim himself in a much greater scheme, or will his memories prove lethal, leading Sam into harm’s way like a lamb to slaughter, ultimately risking the life of the only member of Sparrow he managed to save?

This book really surprised me…in a bad way. I really enjoyed this author’s Nearly series so I was expecting the same for this romantic suspense read; however, to enjoy this book required a major suspension of disbelief (which I’m not capable of) and an acceptance of a horrific plot twist near the end of the story (which I still can’t accept by the way), so sadly, this book didn’t quite work for me. To be honest, I was so angry when I finished I thought about slapping a 1 star on the book and calling it a day. But after taking a day to mull things over, there were a few things about the story I liked which is why I went with a 2.5 star rating instead.
The story certainly grabbed my attention from the very first page – it was fast-paced, nerve-wracking, and immediately transported me into this futuristic(ish) world where government agencies and other third parties vied for advanced technology and scientific research. The story flashes to a specific CIA team – Sparrow 59 – and their mission to extract data. However, things are botched up when Sam (the heroine) realizes her entire team is wiped out besides her and on top of which, Drew (the hero) is missing. Not willing to believe that her real-life partner defected from the agency and sold them out, she makes it her goal to find out the truth behind her team’s assassination and more importantly, to find Drew.
Up until the 90% mark, I liked the story. It was entertaining and kept my attention but nothing was mindblowing…at least not yet. Just when I thought the ending would deliver a smashing conclusion to the story, I was greatly surprised by the plot twist and it blew my mind all right, just in the worst way possible. I don’t want to directly spoil what happens but I think with this kind of twist, the author was aiming for a heroic approach and it totally failed to work on me. Depending on how the twist is portrayed, it’ll either induce tears or make my blood boil, and since I didn’t particularly love any of these characters to begin with, I ended up steaming mad.
Another thing that bothered me were all the references to advanced technology that made me think this story was more futuristic and leaning towards the sci-fi genre, even though it’s not. The gadgets, memory resoration/wiping, etc…just wasn’t portrayed in enough detail in my opinion, so I had a hard time accepting their roles in this book.
I did like the writing style as it’s laidback and casual, making it super easy for me to ‘get into’ and despite being annoyed with certain events in the story, I was never bored so this was a rather quick read for me. Even though I’m not a big fan of this book, I will definitely be checking out the next one regardless because I need my closure.
Sparrow 59 is a romantic suspense thriller featuring spies and isn’t a standalone. I personally wouldn’t categorize it as NA because aside from the characters’ ages, nothing about this book has any aspects of a typical NA read. Low steam level as well. There is a slight cliffhanger but I wasn’t bothered by it much as it ends on a high note.

A FEW TIPS ON HOW TO STAY UP TO DATE WITH YOUR FAVORITE FACEBOOK PAGES…

We’ve all heard about it. We’ve all read and seen about it. Starting January 2015, Facebook will be implementing new changes and policies that will limit the reach of ‘business pages.’ To what extent I have no clue and I know many blogger and author friends have sought out social media alternatives, but I for one am planning on riding this crisis out. And though a big reason is that I don’t want to manage yet another social media profile (more work for me, more work for followers), my main reason is that…

But don’t get me wrong. In the beginning I did, and it was so frustrating because I was so sure I ‘liked’ the page already, so why wasn’t I getting posts? After a lot of commiserating and doing a little digging, I came up with a few step by step tips that may ensure you see posts from your favorite pages.

I’ve liked the page. Now what??
Great! That’s pretty much the first step if you want to even have a 1% chance of seeing the page’s posts on your feed. And usually when you do hit ‘like,’ you’ll also immediately be ‘following’ the page too, as shown here:

They’re definitely not the same thing though. A ‘like’ means you’ve been added to the pool of followers and fans of the page. To ‘follow’ ensures that you at least have a chance to see the page’s posts on your feed. Usually not hitting the follow button is the reason why many don’t see posts. In that case, the page would look like this to you:

Alrighty from here you have a couple of options. This first one is 100% guaranteed you’ll see EVERY post from the page. Under the ‘Liked’ button, hover over it and you should see some options drop down. Click the first one that says ‘Get Notifications.’ It should look like this:

What this option does is that every time the page posts, you are notified. I personally use this option very rarely as I don’t want my notifications to go out of control. But it’s definitely a safe measure and better to see everything than nothing, know what I mean?

I don’t like the ‘Get Notifications’ option. Too much. Is there another option?
As a matter of fact, there is, and it’s actually what I use myself and I’ve never been let down since I started doing it 2 months ago. For those that don’t know, you can add a page to an ‘interest list’ which then on your homepage sidebar, a section titled ‘Interests’ appear and in that section, you will ONLY see posts from pages you added to that list. No ads. No interference. Just posts from those pages. It’s almost like the old Facebook again!
To do this, once again hover over the ‘Liked’ button until an options lists drops down. Click the “Add to Interests Lists” option like I’ve got here:
From there, you can title your list to whatever you want and then it’ll prompt you to add pages to your list. Add your favorite pages you want to see posts from and now you’ve created a section where you can see posts from pages only. If you refresh your homepage and look at your left sidebar, you should see an Interests section like I have:
My ‘Important Favorites’ list is shown underneath and once I click on that, I see every post, every update from the pages I added in there. It’s quick, it’s efficient, and it helps me as a blogger to stay on top of the latest author news, releases, and book sales.
Is there anything else I can do to help see posts more often, even if I use all the options above?
Liking, commenting, and sharing posts does help increase post visibility and it makes it so that you see more from that particular page. Facebook assumes that since you like, click, comment, share, etc… on a post from a page that you want to see more from that page. I’ve liked over 1000 pages and yet I see about 70 of them in my newsfeed. I definitely interact with those pages more than I do with others. And of course, the good ol’-fashioned way is to just visit those pages you want to see posts from. I have a select group of authors and blogs I visit their pages a few times a day so I see everything they’ve posted.
I’m sure most of us have liked a ton of pages. Even if a page posts only 1 thing a day, that’s still a ton of posts Facebook is tasked to show on your feed and it’s easy for the feed to get congested. But with a little work on everyone’s part, post visibility is actually a solvable issue. And even if the changes rolled out next year severely cuts down on the organic reach? If you choose one of the above options and take precautions, you CAN still see posts.

BOOK REVIEW ~ HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE BY JEANIENE FROST

Flirting with the Grave…Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

I recently got caught up in this awesome anime show Naruto so I lost a lot of my reading mojo but thankfully, my friend Rachel recommended this book to me and thinking that all I needed was a break from contemporary I picked it up. Though the first quarter of the story was on the slow side, once the plot moved forward and the action and steamy scenes were showcased, I could not put this book down. The spunky dialogue, the kickass main characters, and the author’s ability to captivate me with her engrossing storyline deserve two thumbs up. And I think it’s amazing that as a reader who really doesn’t care for typical paranormal creatures like vampires, the vampire hero in this book stole my heart – just one more reason why this book is so worth the read.
One of the high points of this book was the two very dynamic main characters. The heroine Cat Crawfield is a half-vampire, half-human badass who’s out to bury vampires in her vicinity as a way to atone for her mother’s suffering and her own salvation. On one of these excursions she runs across Bones, an infamous, full-fledged vampire bounty hunter who’s after some of the same vamps she’s looking for. Though it started off rough, pretty soon the two of them form an unlikely team taking down vamps to gather intel.
All while the action is going on, a slow-burn, tentative romance develops between the two. There was a slight disconnect at the beginning because I still felt like there was some insta-love but whatever, I looked past it…if I had a hottie vampire like Bones declaring his undying love for me I’d snatch him up in an instant LOL! There was also a push/pull part to the romance, as expected since Cat struggles with self-identity most of the book and reconciling her vampire counterpart to her human one.
The only reason why I can’t give it a higher rating is because the first 25% was slow. And even though I connected with the amazingly witty writing style in just the first few pages, I had to push myself a little to get through that first quarter. But the plot after that point was engaging and I had a hard time putting down the book.
If you’re in a book slump and just need something ‘different’ to read, I highly recommend this book as it’s a story that’ll keep you on your toes and a good first book in what seems to be a very promising paranormal/urban fantasy series.
Halfway to the Grave is the first book in the Night Huntress series and not a standalone. Cat and Bones’s story continues on in the next several books alongside a few spinoffs.
Rating: 4 stars!

BOOK REVIEW ~ EXTINGUISH BY J.M. DARHOWER

One… Two… Three… Four…I Declare War
Serah always believed the world around her was perfect. As a Power, one of the warrior angels, she has spent her existence defending the innocent from evil. After tragedy strikes, tearing Serah’s brother from her life, she’s given the task of stopping the approaching apocalypse before it’s too late.
Only one thing, though: she has to venture to Hell to do it.
Lucifer—or Luce, as he prefers to be called—has been biding his time in Hell, longing for revenge against those who oh-so-easily cast him into the pit. When the heavenly beauty shows up at his gate, he’s just as captivated by her presence as she becomes of him. The attraction between them is palpable, and Serah’s willpower slowly slips. How can this charming creature, this scarred Archangel, be the one annihilating the world she so loves?
As the war wages on, the world entwined in chaos, Serah starts questioning everything she ever knew. When the light and dark, hot and cold, finally collide, she has to make a choice—a choice that sets her world on fire, black and white exploding into colorful flames.
Serah has questions. She wants answers.Luce just wants to play a game.

You know that feeling where you’re reading a book and it just sucks you right in from the start, into the world the author created, and though you tell yourself to slow down, you just can’t stop yourself from flipping the pages fast to see what happens…but at the same time you went to slowly savor it all? Yeah…that’s how I felt while reading this gripping forbidden romance that I just could NOT put down. It’s such a wonderful thing to know that with all the books I have read and gotten easily bored with, there are still gems like this book out there that manage to surprise me. I loved the concept of the story and how controversial the paranormal theme was, and was interested to see how the author would portray Satan as a romantic hero in this story. In the end, I was highly entertained, I was emotionally invested in the angel/devil relationship, and I didn’t want the story to end.

The author had my attention from the very first page. Nothing lures me in faster than a forbidden romance and the relationship here is pretty much the cream of the crop – the Devil himself falling for his enemy, an Angel from Heaven. It’s definitely an unnatural twist on what we’re taught to know but I feel like every reader – regardless of religious affiliation – is able to read this book without being offended. Furthermore, I like that the author had this bold idea to question the known and give the Devil a humane side that most certainly will appeal to every romantic. It’s definitely not all hearts and flowers, but a love with an edge that defies common belief and both of the main characters’ own morals and rules.

The only reason it’s not a full 5 star read is that there are hero/heroine POV switches that were a bit unclear and it threw me off a few times. I’d have to read a good portion of a chapter before realizing that the POV switched so I wished there was a clear marker for that. Other than that, this story was perfect for me. The hero Lucifer was a seductive charmer who I fell for the first time he appeared in the book, the heroine Serah, although a bit naïve, was kind, passionate, and sure was a positive influence on Luce, and together they couldn’t make a better couple. I loved reading about their interactions where gradually titles like Angel and Devil faded away and all that mattered in the end was that they were Serah and Luce, two kindred souls who really connected with each other.
I have to say though, I am SO relieved that I have book 2 downloaded and ready to go because the ending was unexpected and had me biting my nails nervously wondering how the heck things were going to be wrapped up. It hurt my heart, I wanted to cry, and believe me, if I didn’t have the second book already, I’d definitely be pestering the author for the next book.
I know I didn’t talk plot much, but only because the plot is like a domino chain and to reveal one piece would have the whole chain falling down…it’s definitely better for you to read and experience everything as you read. And even though I don’t read much paranormal, don’t let the genre branding of this book hinder you from checking it out. It’s much more than its genre and has a lot to offer in terms of a unique storyline and loveable main characters.
Extinguish is the first book in a 2-book paranormal forbidden romance series, not a standalone, and completely unrelated to this author’s other books. Depending on how invested you are in the characters’ relationship will determine if you see this book’s ending as a cliffhanger. For me, I 20000% love Luce and Serah’s romance so yeah, this was a cliffy for me. Diving right into book 2!

BOOK REVIEW ~ HE FOUND ME BY WHITNEY BARBETTI

When I was seventeen, I disappeared. I walked out the door of my apartment with a backpack and never looked back. I left the life of Cora Mitchell behind, seeking freedom from my real-life nightmare. But my freedom came with a cost. I lived a fictitious life for the next six years, never letting anyone close enough to see underneath the facade that was Andra Walker. I was content with my simple little life. Until I met Julian. And the moment I started allowing myself to open up, allowing someone to see through the superficial, was the very same moment the Monster from my past would return to find me.

About a few days ago I saw this book go free and thought it must’ve been a sign from the universe telling me to read it as I was intrigued by the blurb and was just waiting for a price drop. I wasn’t really wowed over by the story or characters but one thing’s clear: I would not be opposed to reading more books from this author. She has a very easy to get into writing style and this book was a great ‘taste test’ for me. My main problems were with the plot content and not author technicalities like writing style so I’m very interested in reading other books from her. With this story, I liked the premise – how one damaged girl escapes from her past, creates a whole new future, but her past catches up to her again – but a lot of events that happened made me scratch my head in confusion…like the logistics were really all over the place with this one. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Starting from the beginning…

Before the heroine was Andra Walker, a confident carefree woman who valued being able to have choices and her freedom, seven years ago she was Cora Mitchell, a helpless, abused teenager with nowhere to hide and every reason to run. And she did. With the help of an old family friend, Six, Cora became Andra and ditched her old life. Now living and working as a ranch hand and surrounded by friends she’s come to love, Andra is content with her new life.

But things start to shake up as the hero – who’s a well-known author – Julian Jameson arrives and plans on staying in one of the cabins near Andra’s place to draw inspiration for his writing from the lush scenery and solitude. When they meet, it’s pretty much insta-lust and they go through mushy dates and all with loads of buildup, and just when Andra’s starting to fall for this guy and he with her, the suspense aspect kicks in and all of sudden, Andra’s life gets turned upside down again as her past comes back.
I think this is one of the very rare times where my feelings for the plot, the characters, and overall execution of the story are all unanimously the same: this book was OK. I didn’t hate it, but didn’t love it. I didn’t particularly like the characters together; there just wasn’t enough time in the book dedicated to their relationship development and it was surprising to me that how a girl like Andra could go on bluntly rejecting other guys in her life for 7 years but has no problem falling head over heels for the hero in less than 2 weeks.
Another thing that was sort of a logical fallacy in my mind was why, after seven years now, she still needed to run and hide. She ran from her guardian in the past but now that she’s older than 18 she has no legal reason to return to her old home even if she were discovered…and there was also a twist in the book where Six and Andra revisited her old house and the motive behind that I 100% cannot fathom at all. In fact, the suspense part just totally fell flat for me and I didn’t see the point of Six repeatedly taking Andra off the ranch because nothing happened.
I did enjoy the writing and because there’s this underlying feeling that something bad will happen somewhere in the story, I couldn’t stop flipping the pages. If I hadn’t been traveling, this is a book I would’ve finished in one sitting. I have to say though…this author managed to surprise me with the blurb and book title because the ‘he’ was not who I was expecting at all.
He Found Me is the first book in a 2 book series and not a standalone. The ending is somewhat of a cliffhanger but leaves you feeling full of hope and not desolation, so I was okay with it.
Rating: 3 stars!

BOOK REVIEW ~ MY BELOVED BY EDEN BUTLER

Keira Riley was the girl Kona Hale loved first, the woman he wants to love last. They’ve battled addiction, forgiven betrayal and healed from heartache, coming through it all bruised but hopeful that their future will be limitless.
Kona Hale was a blinding flame that Keira Riley gladly burned inside—his touch, his kiss, his overwhelming love, all made her dizzy, desperate and desired, made her believe in a love worth bleeding for, a love that ignites the heart with an unquenchable flame. But when you fall in love with an NFL darling who can’t seem to let go of the spotlight, sometimes even that flame can be gutted by the buffeting winds of opportunity, can be lost behind the brilliant flash of fame.
As Keira and Kona get caught up in plans for an extravagant march down the aisle, the hard won sanctuary they’ve found in each other’s arms begins to erode. Will they be able to see through all the beckoning glitz and glamour to what they have worked so hard to build together, or will their love be lost in the spotlight?
MY BELOVED is a novella set prior to the THIN LOVE epilogue.

Though I was happy with the way things ended in the main standalone novel Thin Love, I was also ecstatic to hear that the author would be gifting us a novella that briefly revisits these beloved characters and their world. To me, that is an extra layer of icing on the cake, and never once did it cross my mind that this novella would be unnecessary. Because it definitely wasn’t, and my heart feels so full right now. I love that a happily ever after doesn’t signify the end of Kona and Keira’s story. And while their journey is laced with heartache, pain, and torment, love overshadows all and I just love how deeply and passionately they love each other, despite all the obstacles thrown their way and the differences that stand between them.

We’re reminded once again the things we loved about these characters and yet, their story is not an easy one. And it never will be. It’ll always be a bumpy rollercoaster ride full of highs and lows. But without seeing the lowest of their lows, we would not be able to see the highest of their highs, and the author delivered all of that in an unflinchingly honest manner that stayed true to both the characters and their story. This story, though short, is a must read for Thin Love fans. We needed this book to soothe our aching hearts.
My Beloved is a novella that must be read after Thin Love. Though it’s technically an optional read, it does help bridge the gap of events right before the epilogue in Thin Love.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

BOOK REVIEW ~ ALARM BY SHAY SAVAGE

Chloe’s life is safe and comfortable. Meeting a tall, dark stranger covered in tattoos is not in her plans. Bad boys just aren’t her type, even if they gorgeous and built like a brick wall. The alarms in her head warn that Aiden Hunter is definitely on the list of men her mother told her to avoid, but she doesn’t listen.
Still, she finds herself drawn to Aiden and the excitement she is missing in her own life. He fills her days with thrills and danger, and her nights with passion she’s never experienced before. Even though she knows he’s hiding something from her, Chloe pushes away her concerns and dives into this new way of living.

Near the beach in Miami, Aiden teaches her to live life to the fullest as Chloe battles the internal warning bells that tell her to be wary. By the time she realizes her fears may be justified, it’s too late.
Aiden’s past is catching up to him, but is he the hunter or the hunted?

I really enjoyed this book! As I was desperately in the mood for something lighthearted and on the sweet side, Alarm did the trick. And what really surprised me (but in a good way) was how well done the female POV was considering this author’s past books were in male POV. It’s not to say the story was perfect because truthfully, the heroine’s inner monologue tired me at times and I wasn’t a fan of a few plot events, but overall, this book is a solid standalone romance with a sweet, endearing hero who I absolutely LOVED…so 4 stars it is.
Chloe Ellison is the epitome of safe, predictable, and boring. She never goes out of her comfort zone and though not fully satisfied, is content with the way her life is and has no plans to deviate. On a night out with her friends from work, Chloe barges right into the hero Aiden Turner, and though drunk, immediately brands him as a ‘bad boy’ based off his tattoos and intimidating demeanor. But she doesn’t deny that he thrills her and tempts her to break out of her comfort zone and with an accumulation of events that stress her out, she spontaneously agrees to travel with Aiden for the weekend, just to get away from reality for once. In those days, Aiden teaches her there’s so much more to living than leading a still life and Chloe really starts to challenge herself, attempting things she never would’ve done in the past.
Since the main romance is developed over days, it’s arguably an insta-love case. But once again, I’m finding that this book surprises me in that I was not turned off by Chloe and Aiden’s whirlwind romance. Perhaps it’s the combination of Chloe’s innocence with Aiden’s sensitivity and despite the reality of the time they spent together, their romance felt tender and unrushed, and there were clear signs of relationship development weaved between their adventures.
But the highlight of this story is definitely the sweet hero Aiden. He is such a well-rounded character, at times large and overbearing but also this endearing man who took care of Chloe in the times where she needed him the most. He’s pretty much the classical example of ‘don’t judge a person by appearances’ because underneath his tattoos and bad boy persona, he’s a man who’s suffered through trauma and loss. And on top of which, he’s such a dirty talker! I loved all of his and Chloe’s steamy sex scenes.
Speaking of Chloe, I wasn’t a really big fan of her in the beginning to be honest. Her ‘voice’ can be draining and I did not like how judgmental she was. But there were positives about her character and the first that really stood out to me was how average she was. Nowadays, I’m a little tired of authors celebritizing their heroines to perfection in terms of personality, looks, financial/social standing, etc…so I liked that Chloe had flaws and that she was portrayed as a seemingly normal person. She holds a regular job and just trudges through life day by day, just like any one of us. Thus, it made it really easy for me to relate to her and whenever I didn’t agree with what she did, I put myself in her shoes and projected. Because if it were me in her shoes, I’d have thought and done some of the same things.
The only part that I can really say that fell flat for me was the teensy suspense aspect of the story. While appreciated, that brief portion felt underdeveloped and in my opinion had it been taken out (or developed in more depth) the impact would’ve been greater. Nevertheless it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the overall story much, and because I was in the mood for a sweet and heartwarming romance, this book hit the mark for me.
Alarm is a contemporary romance standalone that is unrelated to this author’s other books. Though there are no indications of any planned companion novels, this book does set up several secondary characters’ backgrounds so I’d be interested in reading more about them.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR ~ EASY VIRTUE BY MIA ASHER

With champagne and caviar inundating my every sense, I slither through the light wooden floors of the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing in The Met. As I walk, I pretend to admire the expensive jewelry being showcased tonight by a famous designer whose name I can’t remember. A multicolored diamond butterfly sparkles to my left and a cobra made out of black stones glistens to my right. Rows upon rows of precious gems twinkle under the soft lights of the room, flooding the space between the walls with the glow of a thousand stars. Furtive glances. Secrets gossiped. Beauty criticized. Lofty music fills the atmosphere as the über rich mingle and pretend to like each other, yet you can almost taste their conceit and derision for one another in the air.
        This is Walker’s world, and I love it.
        Standing across the room, where the crowd is thinner and the music fainter, I spot Walker’s blond head in the corner of the room, talking to a group of his colleagues and their wives. He looks polished and worth every penny of his trust fund in his sleek black tuxedo, perfectly starched white shirt and black bowtie. His long golden hair parted to the side shines like the sun. He is truly flawless.
        I smile because it’s hard to picture that this is the same guy who likes to snort coke off my tits as he fucks me while hardcore porn plays in the background. He looks untouchable and so cool, but his searching eyes, scanning the crowd for me give him up. He’s wondering where I am. He did tell me not to go too far, after all. Soon after we arrived at the party, I gave him some space to talk to his friends and do his thing while I did mine. I hate clingy people, so I avoid being one.
        I grab a third flute of champagne from a passing waiter, and try to decide which of the different displays to check out first when my eyes land on a spectacular piece of jewelry. On a bed of black silk, similar to my hair color, lies an extravagant necklace made of diamonds and rubies—a small heaven within one’s reach as long as you can afford the price.
        I bridge the space between the glass protecting the necklace and me until it’s within my reach, fighting the urge to touch the cool surface. As if under a spell, I observe how the rows of diamonds embedded in platinum form leaves and thorns. At its center is a rose made out of red diamonds almost as big as my palm.
        I feel someone walk up and stand next to me, but I don’t give him or her a second thought as I continue to admire the way the light hits the gems, making them shine.
        “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
        His voice is smooth and commanding, dripping absolute power. I keep my eyes locked on the display. Call it sixth sense, but somehow I know that under no circumstance should I make eye contact with the stranger who speaks like the ruler of the world.
        “Yes,” I say simply.
        “I wonder how much it is?” the man asks.
        “I don’t think it matters … I highly doubt anyone can afford it.”
        He chuckles, and the sound is more delicious than his voice. Lusher. “Oh, but I can.”
        I smile at his self-assurance. I love cocky assholes. “I still doubt it.”
        “You shouldn’t. I only speak the truth,” he retorts coolly. His voice is nonchalant yet his words leave no room for disbelief—a demand and a statement all in one.
        Suddenly, the noises of the room become distant. People talking and laughing amongst friends and the orchestra playing all fade away until all I hear is him speaking.
        And at this moment, that is all that matters.
        “The truth is very subjective, sir.”
        “The truth may be subjective but money isn’t. Money can buy anything.”
        His answer is like an electroshock, jumpstarting my brain from a champagne-induced haze. My pulse begins to accelerate, excitement making it hard to take a deep breath. Don’t look at him … don’t.
        “Oh really,” I say, my voice dripping with sarcasm. He’s right, though.
        “Of course. I believe everything,” he pauses, “and everyone has a price.”
        Curiosity winning the battle against curiosity, I turn to face him, and what a fucking big mistake that is. When our eyes meet, I feel incapacitated of all sense and movement. The sight of him takes my breath away. This man gives the term “lust at first sight” a whole new meaning.
        In my short twenty-three years, I’ve been with extremely handsome men, perfect even, but to classify the man standing next to me in any kind of category would be a disservice to him, and not really fair to the others. Longish, light brown hair wildly framing his face, vacant eyes the color of dollar bills, a slightly crooked nose, and a mouth that begs to be buried deep within your thighs. His beauty is as harsh as it is stunningly perfect. Dressed in a simple black tuxedo and unbuttoned white shirt, the man exudes innate virility and grace, reminding me of a black panther stalking his prey. And just like a panther, it’s the pure raw and powerful energy emanating from within him that I find most attractive. Because just by standing next to him, I get the sense that his word is always the last spoken and his wishes the first ones to be fulfilled. He doesn’t ask, he demands. He doesn’t hope, he expects.
        He’s quiet for a moment; his uncanny eyes hold me captive as though they are baring my soul to him and I hate it. I tighten my hold on the crystal flute. I want to look away, but I can’t. The way he’s staring at me makes me want to squirm.
        “I wonder … do you have one?” he asks softly before turning to examine the piece of jewelry once more.
        “A what?” I ask, momentarily stunned.
        He smiles. “A price.”
        “For the right amount … I just might,” I say quietly, my heart beating so fast it feels as though it wants out of my chest. As soon as the words leave my mouth, there’s no shock coursing down my body, no rolling waves of shame pulling me down for having said that to a complete stranger—nothing.
        And why should there be? I am who I am.
        I’m staring at his profile, waiting for him to acknowledge my answer, when a breeze of cool air floats past us, making me shiver. About to chase the goose bumps on my arm with my hand, I watch as he slowly turns to look at me, catching me staring at him. Time stands still as I watch him raise his large tanned hand and touch my bare shoulder, his fingertips lightly grazing the temporary small bumps covering it. Then he smiles as if he knows that my skin is tingling from his scalding touch, and looks away.
        “I thought so.”
        We remain standing next to each other for another minute or so, the distance between us almost nonexistent. It would be so easy to reach out and hold his hand. The sound of an incoming call breaks the silence, bringing us back to reality.
        He takes his cell phone out of the inner pocket of his tuxedo jacket and ignores the call after noting the name of the caller. He lifts his gaze to meet my own.
“Sorry about that.”
        “It’s okay. I should go … I’m here with someone,” I reply, not really wanting to leave him just yet.
        “Yes, that’s probably a good idea.”
        I frown. He didn’t have to be quite so blunt. The stranger extends a hand toward me, holding something in his fingers.
        “Here … ”
        I open my hand as I feel the edges of what I assume is his business card poke the skin of my palm. “What’s this?” I ask stupidly.
        “My business card, of course.”
        “Obviously … but why?”
        He smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “Let’s just say that I’m an interested buyer.”
        And then he’s gone.
        He turns and walks away from me, disappearing into a sea of colorful gowns and black suits. As the sounds of the party infiltrate my ears once more, I lower my gaze to stare at the simple cream-colored card in my hand. Its simplistic and elegant design draws attention to the name printed in bold black letters on the paper.
        Lawrence Rothschild.
        I smile and let my fingertips trail his name. It depends on what you’re willing to pay, Mr. Rothschild.
3-3.5 stars!
I think it’s a true testament to this author’s writing when her stories feature highly unlikeable characters and boundary-pushing plotlines, yet I still crave more of her words and dive right in to her books. Either that or I’m a masochist. Probably both LOL! Anyways, after almost having a heart attack from reading the angsty Arsen, I was both nervous and excited to start this one as I knew Mia would bring her A-game. And boy, did she ever! Her books are not stories you just read. Nope. Doesn’t matter if you’re hating or loving the book, you feel, you experience, you rage or cry, and that my friends is not something any author can do. So in terms of engaging her readers, I say Mia Asher is an expert in this field. And while reading this particular book made me fall in love with her writing all over again, I still did have a couple of issues with the story that hindered me from completely loving it.
All her life, Blaire White has lacked for nothing except love. Her parents are distant and only care about their individual problems and with Blaire being chubby at a young age and bullied by others, having a beautiful, flawless body and savoring the attention that comes with it become her number one priority. As such, she locks away her emotions, hardens her heart, and in just a few years time lives a grand lifestyle while being a gold-digging bimbo catering to wealthy men’s sexual needs. But when she meets the kindhearted photographer Ronan she’s smitten and he with her, and for the first time in her life, Blaire feels loved and treasured, desired for her, not just for her body.
But at the same time, she can’t let go of her old routine that makes her feel secure and so she struggles between her feelings for Ronan and returning to her gold-digging ways.
I have to say that Blaire is one of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever read. Kudos to the author for tackling a story that centers around her but part of the reason why I can’t give this book a higher rating is because there’s a huge disconnect between me as the reader and her character. I honestly didn’t care what happened to her because she made several bad choices – fully knowing that the end result would be destructive – plus her character was inconsistent throughout the story. I was led to believe that this is a girl who’s the bitch (which she is by the way), the one no one roots for but enjoying every moment of it. However, that’s not really the case. She secretly desires to be loved and treasured not just for her looks but for her true self and when that does happens, she runs away from the guy. But then when she’s with a guy who just wants her for sex, these are her thoughts:
“They all want me; my body, my face, my mouth, but none of them want me.
 
“But what about love? … Don’t you want my love too?”
Get yourself together woman. But do you see? This kind of inconsistency scattered throughout the book really gave me whiplash. I did, however, love Ronan’s character and he definitely had a positive impact in Blaire’s life.
The overall story was compelling though, and the book itself is a fast-paced, quick read that’s a guaranteed page turner. I was a bit disappointed with the short book length so I wasn’t too surprised that the story ended on a cliffhanger. Just another reason why I couldn’t give a higher rating because I truly felt like this book wasn’t a complete story. With some books I can tell that a cliffhanger/abrupt ending is necessary as it’s part of the natural book flow but sadly in this story, it felt more like it was strategically inserted.
Easy Virtue is the first book in a 2-book series and isn’t a standalone. The story will be continued and concluded in the second book. Compared to Arsen the angst level is much lower but the steam level much higher and while there is no love triangle for most of the story, there is a hint at a possible one towards the end and perhaps in the second book.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ LIVVY BY LORI L. OTTO

In her first year of college at Yale, challenging courses and new friends provide a much-needed distraction for Livvy Holland. Beyond the tears–for the most part– she won’t allow the lingering anger she harbors toward her ex-boyfriend to consume her.
Even after taking steps to conceal her identity, Livvy is still very recognizable and popular among her new classmates. She takes advantage of her situation and accepts dates with multiple guys, trying to piece together an image of ‘her type of guy’ that differs from all the good qualities Jon Scott once possessed.
An unexpected letter arrives on Livvy’s 18th birthday, shifting her focus and forcing her to reevaluate all the relationships in her life. She now knows the identity of her biological father, and struggles to make sense of the news alone. Fortunately, she won’t have to.

Just as Livvy’s life begins to normalize, one of her professors provides her with the creative opportunity of a lifetime. Trusting in the bonds she’s made with everyone she loves, she believes she can have everything she wants and makes the decision that allows her to be true to herself.
She was chosen for a reason. Chosen to be a gifted artist that–with a few strokes of a paintbrush–could touch people emotionally; profoundly. Chosen by her parents so they had a place to share their boundless love and devotion. Chosen by her friend so he could return the encouragement, inspiration and affection she’d shown him for so many years.
Livvy Holland will never again take her position in life for granted. She wears the name with humility and respect. She is Choisie.

When I reach the lobby, it’s not Finn that’s waiting for me. “James,” I say, recognizing Granna’s husband. I
hadn’t seen him in months, and it wasn’t often that I spent any time with him socially. He traveled a lot, and wasn’t around very much. Granna’s independence helped make that marriage a success. I was starting to think that’s how Jon and I would have been, now that I’ve gotten some perspective.
“Are you here to see me?”
“I am,” he says kindly. “First of all, happy birthday.”
“Thanks. Um, did you want to come up?” It would be awkward to have him in the loft, but it was Donna’s
before she left it to me. Maybe he heard about the renovations.
“No, I just needed to bring you this.” He hands me an envelope. The stationery is soft, and feels more like
fabric than paper. I recognize Donna’s handwriting immediately. Olivia Sophia Holland. Personal and confidential.
“What’s this?”
“This was part of her will, Livvy. She asked that I hand-deliver it to you on your eighteenth birthday.” It still

surprises me how meticulously she had made her will, as if she knew she wouldn’t be around. My mother had reminded me that Granna had learned early on that life was brief, and could be over any day with no warning.
“Do you know what it is?”
“A card, I guess,” he says. “But she requested that you be alone when you read it.”
I look at him curiously. “That’s an odd request, isn’t it?”
“I thought the same thing. But I don’t question her.”
“Of course not,” I say with a wistful smile. “I still miss her every day.”
“I do, too. She loved you so much.”
“She loved you, too,” I tell him. He nods, looking sad. “Thank you for bringing this by. I can’t wait to read
it.”
“Have a good birthday, Livvy. It’s good to see you.” We hug one another before he turns to leave the building.
“That was a surprise,” Francisco says.
“Yeah. Hey, I was actually expecting someone else, so–”
“You don’t have to come down every time, you know? We have a master key that takes us to your floor. I can accompany someone up, if you’d like.”
“That would be great. Thank you. I guess I’ve got some reading to do.” I untuck the flap as I get back on the elevator. When it doesn’t respond to the press of the H button, I remember to insert my key. The note is handwritten, and dated a month before Granna died.
“My dearest Livvy,
“I’ve struggled with how to best deliver this news to you. I’d thought about telling you in person, but ultimately I decided this is a private matter that you and you alone should face.”
When she wrote this, she had no way of knowing she’d be gone a month later.
“I have not told your parents, and I don’t want to play a part in your decision unless you specifically ask me
to.” The elevator stops at my floor, and I almost forget to get out before the doors close to return the car to the lobby.
“When you asked me a few weeks ago if there was any way that Nate could be your father–”
Suddenly, I feel like my heart is going to throb right through my chest. What is this?
“…if there was any way that Nate could be your father, I told you no, that there was no possible way. You
accepted that answer, but I didn’t.”
The letter falls from my hands, sailing quietly onto the floor in the hallway separating my apartment from Matty’s. I stare at it, frozen, fearing news that I don’t want. I’d left this notion behind. Nate can’t be my father.
Quickly, I walk to Matty’s door and pound on it.
“Matty!” I yell, finding it difficult to produce words when my mouth is so dry. My uncle isn’t home. I knew he wasn’t anyway, but I’m not sure I can continue reading the note by myself, as she apparently requested. I move slowly toward the paper, picking it up tentatively and flipping it over so the words are hidden from me.
I could rip this up right now, and everything would be just how it was. Jack Holland is my father. He’s the only father I want. My knees weak, I fall into the decorative bench in between our apartments. I look at the envelope once more. Is this a joke, Granna?
A small ding demands my attention toward the elevator, but I can’t tear my eyes away from the letter to greet Finn. Personal and confidential. The doors open, and slow footsteps move toward me. Dress shoes. I know that walk. It’s not Finn.
“Olivia?” I close my eyes. Although the footsteps have stopped, I know that was Jon’s walk. That’s Jon’s
voice. That’s the name that only Jon calls me. I try to take a deep breath, but broken, shallow gasps are all that come. I turn my head and see him. “Are you okay?”
“No,” I answer quickly, standing up abruptly. We face one another and stare, as if we haven’t seen each other for years, instead of weeks. His hair’s longer. He’s more muscular. He’s wearing glasses. A small wooden box tied with a ribbon is tucked under his arm. “What are you doing here?”