Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: Dirty Games by Samanthe Beck


Dirty Games by Samanthe Beck
Book Four of the Tropical Temptations series
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: November 13, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

A five figure fee. A private villa at an exclusive tropical paradise. Absolute compliance. 

Top tier celebrity trainer Luke McLean demands all of the above, plus strict adherence to his zero bullshit policy. Especially when faced with six short weeks to whip a spoiled starlet into leading lady shape.

Quinn Sheridan suddenly has half the time she anticipated to turn herself into an action hero for the role of her career. Luckily, her agent calls in a secret weapon, but the demanding, drop dead gorgeous hardass fails to understand SHE’S the client. She has no problem taking direction, but Luke’s definition of cooperation feels more like complete and utter submission. And she’s tempted to give it to him...

What I Liked:

I love Samanthe Beck's books. She always has me coming back, no matter what the book is about. I rarely read the synopses of her books anymore - because I don't need to. She always writes books with interesting professions, complex characters, and steamy, shippy romances. Dirty Games is no exception. On top of the sexy times, the awesome characters, and the riveting plot, this book was really sweet. 

Quinn Sheridan is an actress, and her next role demands a fit, in-shape heroine. Too bad Quinn is only just recovered from an injury, and during that time, she indulged a little too much and lost some of her muscle mass. Her agent calls in the big guns, Luke McLean. Luke is a no-nonsense fitness trainer who lays down the law and takes charge. Quinn may not like the rigorous training, but she doesn't mind being at his mercy. He doesn't mess around with actresses, but will Quinn be the exception?

Luke is the ideal kind of alpha male that I love - aggressive, commanding, and dominant, BUT also considerate, intuitive, and sweet underneath. He cares a lot about his work, and his clients. He owns a fitness company and makes it his goal to help every client become healthier and achieve their own goals. I'd never read a book with a fitness instructor as the protagonist, and so it was neat to read about. I could tell Beck did her research, because there were a lot of specifics in terms of fitness and training that were detailed in the book. Beck always chooses really interesting professions for her characters. In one of her previous books, the female protagonist is a glass blower!

Quinn is an actress; I'm going to be honest - I usually dislike books featuring actors or actresses, and I usually dislike the actor/actress. But I really liked Quinn! She isn't high-maintenance or irritating or privileged or high-strung. She's assertive and independent, and she is very motivated (for various reasons). I liked her determination and her willingness to admit weaknesses and mistakes. She was very open even when she was trying to hide her feelings from Luke.

The pair really worked as a couple! Luke with his brooding, no-nonsense aggressive self, and Quinn, with her teasing, assertive self. Their personalities fit together and their attitudes clicked. I love it when characters fit. In terms of the romance, they really REALLY fit. The chemistry is seriously off the charts! Beck always writes fairly steamy books.

But what I really liked about the romance was how sweet it was. These two don't hit it off at first, so it's kind of an enemies-to-lovers romance. Eventually Quinn starts to trust Luke and it is the sweetest thing to watch! He handles her so gently, a contrast to his rigorous fitness training for her. This book was filled with sweet moments that made my heart happy.

This book didn't have a ton of drama, though of course there was the inevitable drama at the climax of the book. But even that wasn't bad; it was a mild miscommunication, and I LOVE that Quinn knew she messed up and reached out to Luke to apologize. It wasn't him that was groveling and apologizing - it was her. WIN! She messed up and she owned it. 

I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't Beck's hottest book, but it was one of her sweetest and most satisfying romances. I haven't read any of the other books in the series but I can safely say that this one is amazing!

What I Did Not Like:

Hmmm, the only thing that I can think of is that I expected a little more heat from a Beck book! Don't get me wrong, there were steamy times in the book. But perhaps I expected a tiny bit more? Especially given the plot setup (fitness instructor... private sessions... gym... you get the idea).

Would I Recommend It:

Honestly I'd recommend any of Beck's books! She has so many great books with Brazen, especially her Compromise Me series. This book (Dirty Games) is fantastic! I definitely recommend it. Adult romance readers, you should stock up on Beck's books! They are quick, steamy, satisfying reads that will make you smile and occasionally giggle. 

Rating:

4 stars. This book was great! I can always count on Beck to deliver a wonderful story. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#251): Haven by Mary Lindsey


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from Haven by Mary Lindsey!


He slid his hands higher over her smooth skin and leaned in, bringing their lips within an inch of each other. Heads tilted. Breaths mingling. He'd never felt like this - like he was on fire from the inside out. 

Then she closed the distance, and when their lips met, it was like a match hitting kerosene. No gentle, polite, getting-to-know-you- first kiss from Freddie. She all but consumed him, wrapping her arms around his neck and digging her nails into his skin. Hot. Demanding. Perfect. 

Before she broke the kiss, she'd managed to crawl into his lip on the desk chair that he was certain he'd never be able to do homework in again without needing a cold shower.

- Hardcover, page 68




This book was wonderful! I was pleasantly surprised since I'm not always a fan of paranormal romance. But I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it! =)

Preorder Blitz and Giveaway: Undercover Attraction by Katee Robert


Welcome to the preorder blitz for Undercover Attraction by Katee Robert! This is the fifth novel in the O'Malleys series and it is definitely one not to miss. Preorder and enter to win a big prize!


About the Book:


Undercover Attraction by Katee Robert
Book Five of the O'Malleys series
Publisher: Forever Romance
Publication Date: November 28, 2017

Official Summary:

Scandal. Wealth. Power. Seduction. Welcome to the world of the O'Malleys.

Ex-cop Charlotte Finch used to think there was a clear line between right and wrong. Then her fellow officers betrayed her, and the world is no longer so black and white. Especially when it's Aiden O'Malley, one of the most dangerous men in Boston, who offers her a chance for justice. The only catch: she'll have to pretend to be his fiancée for his plan to work.

Aiden can't afford to let anyone see the man behind the mask. To run the O'Malley empire, he has to be cool and controlled at all times. But the moment he meets Charlie, they're playing with fire. Her slightest touch is enough to send him over the edge. At first their "engagement" was a way to eliminate his enemies. Now he'll do whatever it takes to keep her safe-- even if he has to destroy his own family to do it.



The Series:

(Click on the covers for more information!)


About the Author:


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it 'a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension." When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.



The Excerpt:

“Let’s get one thing clear—”

One thing? I have a goddamn list.”

He bracketed her throat, putting just enough pressure there to stop her words. “Did you change your mind?”

She narrowed her eyes but didn’t try to pretend she had no idea what he was talking about. “You play your game your way. I’ll play it mine.”

Disobedient and willful to the very end. He couldn’t decide if she was trying to provoke a response or if she was just that opposed to being locked down in any way. In the end, it didn’t matter. “I should bend you over this counter and fuck you into submission.”

“Don’t think for a second it would work.” Charlie rolled her eyes. “And beyond that, we’re already going to be late, so unless you’re looking for a quickie, fucking me in any way is out of the question.”

The irrational side of him, which always seemed to come into play around her, rose to demand he throw caution to the wind and prove her wrong. He reined it in, but only barely. Every time she pushed him, intentionally or not, he slid a little closer to the edge. It was only a matter of time before he went over—and took her with him.

Aiden let go of her and stepped back. He didn’t like the confusion on her face—or the flicker of hurt that rose as he moved to the dresser across the room. For all her spikes, there was something fragile about Charlie, and he’d have to be a special kind of bastard to want to shatter her, no matter who her father was.

He opened the drawer at the bottom that had been empty until a week ago. “Take off your panties.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

He gave her a look. “You heard me.”

“I’m waiting for you to explain.”

Aiden shook his head slowly. “There aren’t two separate games—there’s only my game. Either play along or deal with the consequences.” He picked an item out of the drawer and held it up. “Here’s your first punishment.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong.” But her eyes lit with interest at the small blue vibe in his hand.

He motioned her forward, giving her plenty of time to tell him to go to hell.

But she didn’t.

Charlie moved to stand directly in front of him. He lifted her dress to the tops of her thighs, bunching the shimmering fabric. “Hold this,” he ordered.

“You are aggravating in the extreme.”

“So I’ve been told.” He pulled her panties down to her thighs. It was tempting to kiss her there, but he forced himself to stay on task. Aiden held the small vibe against her clit as he shifted the lace back into place. It took a few seconds to maneuver it to exactly where he wanted, but then he sat back on his heels. “You can let go now.”

“This is an important night, Aiden.” She shifted, a frown on her face. “We don’t have time for your sex games to distract me.”

He pulled out his phone and brought up the app he’d downloaded when he bought the sex toy. A flick of his finger and her entire body tensed. Aiden didn’t bother to hide his satisfied smile. It fell away when he touched his pocket and the little box it held. “One more thing.”

“I swear to God, I draw the line at anal plugs, so don’t even think about it.”

That surprised a laugh out of him. What surprised him even more was how good it felt. When was the last time he’d laughed freely in a way that wasn’t calculated?
Aiden couldn’t remember.

He stood and pulled out the ring box. “I’d go down on one knee, but that isn’t the kind of relationship we have.”

“No, it’s not.” She looked a little sick, but she held out her hand so he could slide the ring onto it. “Aiden, it’s beautiful.”

“It was my grandmother’s.” It had taken some shady work to figure out Charlie’s ring size after he’d first met her, so that he could get the ring resized. He hadn’t told anyone about it. Though he’d been as sure of her as he could be of a near-stranger, he hadn’t wanted to admit the lengths he’d gone through, in case things didn’t pan out.

If anything, she looked even more horrified. “I can’t wear your grandmother’s ring. It’s not right.”

“You have to. As oldest son and heir, that ring rightfully belongs to my future wife. It would be more than a little suspicious if I didn’t give it to you.”

She touched the massive diamond. It was in the same setting as when his grandfather had proposed, little rubies and garnets surrounding the diamond, to represent colors in the O’Malley crest.

It felt a whole lot like he’d just branded Charlie.

It didn’t bother him nearly as much as it should.

Copyright © 2017 Katee Robert


The Giveaway:





Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Flashtide by Jenny Moyer


Welcome to the blog tour for Flashtide by Jenny Moyer! Today I've got Jenny herself, talking about writing sequels. Writers, this is good stuff! And for everyone, stick around for the giveaway at the bottom of the post. =)



On Writing a Sequel vs. Writing the First Book in a Series

FLASHTIDE is the sequel (and conclusion) to FLASHFALL, and it was really exciting to get to take these characters to new places—both physically and emotionally. When I first wrote Orion’s character, I was inspired by her resillience, and I think with this book, it was Dram’s capacity to endure so much darkness, and still find the light—that I wanted to explore. I took both characters to the edge in FLASHFALL, and in the sequel, I push them right over it . . . 

Another aspect of writing the sequel was getting to explore entirely new settings, characters, and creatures! The book opens in the mountain provinces, where readers get to experience the Conjies—who can manipulate organic matter—and who are also rebels on the run from the Congress of Natural Humanity. Very quickly, the setting shifts (no spoilers) but I’ll just say that Orion finds herself in entirely new and uncertain circumstances. She is a stranger in a strange land, and I had a lot of fun playing with that as a writer.

On one hand, I found writing a sequel easier because I really knew my main characters, and had established the “world” of the book. I felt like I’d had a lot of time to think through the setting (which really motivates the characters in FLASHFALL,) and work out details of the various people groups, like Conjies and Gems, as well as the government. The biggest challenge writing FLASHTIDE was to make everything fresh and unpredictable, and to give Orion and Dram new character arcs. I found this a bit daunting at first, but it turned out being a labor of love. The characters surprised even me! They had depths (and weaknesses and vulnerabilites) and strengths I didn’t know about until I wrote FLASHTIDE.

There are always moments during the writing process when I’m stuck working on a plot problem, and wondering how I’m going to get my characters from one point to another. I came up with some pretty creative solutions for FLASHTIDE, and I think it will lead to some cool surprises for readers! I love how this reviewer puts it:

"Fans of the unique post-apocalyptic story will be riveted by the blistering pacing and unexpected twists. An intriguing follow-up." –Kirkus

I encourage readers who aren’t familiar with FLASHFALL to check out the book trailer. My husband is a filmmaker, and he did an amazing job. It gives people an exciting glimpse into the world and characters.

Thank you, Jenny!


About the Book:


Flashtide by Jenny Moyer
Book Two of the Flashfall series
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: November 14, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Orion has survived the tunnels of Outpost Five, filled with mutant creatures and dangers around every bend. She has traversed the cordons, exposed to the radiation of the flash curtain and hunted by forces that want her stopped, dead or alive. Now, with Dram by her side, she has made it to the safety of the mountain provinces, where free Conjurors live and practice their craft of manipulating matter.

But Orion's story is far from over.

With the effects of the flashfall spreading and the might of the protected city of Alara looming, Orion must travel into the hands of her enemies once again. Heart-pounding action and adventure await in this sequel to Flashfall.



About the Author:


Jenny is the author of the YA sci-fi/fantasy FLASHFALL, and its sequel, FLASHTIDE. (Holt/Macmillan 11-14-17) She lives with her filmmaker husband and their three boys in Iowa. Watch the epic, live action book trailer for the novel that Booklist calls "A cinematic page-turner." 

Find out more at http://www.jennymoyer.com and connect with Jenny on Twitter and Facebook.



The Giveaway:

Win a Flashtide pack: signed copies of Flashtide & Flashfall, a $50 Gift Card from Amazon.com and swag (INT)

Waiting on Wednesday (#255): Rage by Cora Carmack

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week, I'm featuring:


Rage by Cora Carmack
Book Two of the Stormheart series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack's young adult debut series: the second in a captivating new YA fantasy/romance series perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard.

Princess or adventurer.

Duty or freedom.

Her Kingdom or the Stormhunter she loves.

If Aurora knows anything, it's that choices have consequences. To set things right, she joins a growing revolution on the streets of Pavan. 

In disguise as the rebel Roar, she puts her knowledge of the palace to use to aid the rebellion. But the Rage season is at its peak and not a day passes without the skies raining down destruction. Yet these storms are different—they churn with darkness, and attack with a will that’s desperate and violent. 

This feels like more than rage. 

It feels like war.




After Roar, I'm curious and excited about this book! Plus, the cover is lovely. 😍

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Release Day Blitz and Giveaway: Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt


Welcome to the release day blitz for Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt! This is the penultimate installment in the Maiden Lane series, and it is a delightful novella. I adored it - and I usually skip novellas! If you're a fan of the series, you definitely do not want to miss this sweet story. 


About the Book:


Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt
Book 12.5 of the Maiden Lane series
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: November 14, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Miss Mary Whitsun is far too intelligent to fall for the rakish charms of a handsome aristocrat. But when the gentleman in question approaches her in a bookshop, mistaking her for his fiancée, Lady Johanna Albright, the flirtatious encounter only raises more questions. Could Mary, a servant raised in a St Giles orphanage, actually be Lady Joanna's long-lost twin sister? If so, Mary has been betrothed since birth—to the rakishly handsome artistocrat himself.

Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, is far too intrigued by Mary to let her go so easily. He's drawn to her sharp mind, indomitable spirit, and the fiery way in which she dismisses him—ladies simply don't dismiss Lord Blackwell. But as Mary makes her first hesitant steps into society, she can't help but wonder if she truly has a place in Henry's world—or in his heart.



About the Author:


Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing "mesmerizing." She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.



Check out the series:

(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)


The Giveaway:

Win 1 of 15 ebook copies of Wicked Intentions!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Review: Haven by Mary Lindsey


Haven by Mary Lindsey
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

"We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed."

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for. 

What I Liked:

It's been a while since I read a YA paranormal romance novel, and an even longer while since I read a YA shifter type of paranormal. In the last few months alone, I've read a few of them - two of which are published by Entangled Teen. Black Bird of the Gallows and Haven are two of Entangled's biggest titles, and I can definitely see why. Both were excellent. Haven was intense, dark, and sexy, and I couldn't read it fast enough.

When Rain Ryland's mother dies unexpectedly, he has no one and nowhere to go. Or so he thought - but as it would turn out, he has an aunt in a small town called New Wurzburg, and she has offered to take him in. Aunt Ruby is sweet and loving and everything Rain never had in a mother. But New Wurzburg is... strange. Eerie shadows lurk in the dark, and nothing seems to add up when it comes to Friederike Burkhart and her bizarre family. Rain doesn't know what is going on, but he intends to find out - especially when the town has plans for him. Trouble has always followed Rain, but this kind of trouble is the kind that could end his life.

This book is told from the third-person perspective of Rain. It's so rare that YA books are told exclusively from the perspective of the male protagonist, and I found it very refreshing. I love third-person narratives, and a third-person male narrative was so interesting to read from.

I liked Rain from the start. He seemed like a troubled kid, running the streets and getting into trouble. But when he moves to New Wurzburg, he tries to better, to not worry his aunt. But both he and his aunt are ignorant to what really goes on in New Wurzburg. Rain is a good guy with a lion's heart. He immediately jumped to Freddie's defense without even knowing her. He was always taking up for her, wanting to stand up for her, wanting to protect her. He knew she could handle herself, but he wanted her to know that he stood behind and with her. He's protective and loyal, but also cognizant of Freddie's personality and her role and being.

Freddie is tough as nails, and a total alpha female. She is so kickbutt and fierce, and she goes after what she wants. I liked her a lot. She isn't the type of alpha female to lord herself over rain and drag him around. I like that both characters were alpha types, but they were both respectful of each other and neither of them tried to control the other or assert their will over the other. I loved Freddie's confidence and her assertiveness. 

Rain and Freddie really work as a couple. They immediately hit it off and have such great chemistry from the start. That chemistry spills over and they end up having some steamy times together. The chemistry is great, and so is the romance. Rain and Freddie fall for each other as the book goes on, against Freddie's wishes (she thought she would be protecting him if she left him alone. But of course she couldn't leave him alone!). I really liked the romance - it was passionate and steamy and intense, and very well-written.

The first half of this book is slightly creepy! We as readers are reading from Rain's POV and we have no idea what's going on because he has no idea what is going on. The slow reveal of information is so well-written, and really hooked him. I couldn't stop reading if I tried, because I had to know the what's and the why's and whatnot. 

The paranormal aspect of the book involves werewolves and Weavers, people with spell-casting abilities. It was really cool to understand, as information was slowly revealed. I would definitely say that this isn't your typical YA shifter paranormal romance. There is a lot of politics at work, with Freddie being set to inherit the Alpha position of the pack, but a lot of contention and dissatisfaction brewing in the midst. On top of all of that, there is a huge mystery going on, which takes some creepy and chilling turns. This is a paranormal romance novel, but it's also a mystery novel, and there are tiny pieces of horror (not enough to label this as a "horror" novel. This book had my heart pounding throughout many chapters, and my pulse racing in other chapters. At no point was I bored or in danger of not finishing; this was a book that demanded my attention and kept me hooked until the very last page.

It was so hard to tell who were the "bad guys" and who were the "good guys", because the author had a great way of making characters seem bad but end up being good, and vice versa. You can't trust anyone in the town! Freddie's cousins are trouble, as are their fathers... or are there? Who is on Freddie's side? Is Freddie trustworthy? Seriously, the author had me questioning everyone.

The ending is a very good one, which was lovely! After all of the dark craziness that happened in the book, I was happy to see a HEA. I love how the author ties everything together, from Rain's parents, to his friend Moth, to the murder of Freddie's father, to the pack politics. The end is very wrapped up and airtight, which I like. Standalones are wonderful things!

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything specific that I didn't like. I'm not giving this one five stars (you all know how particular I am with a five-star rating) but I really enjoyed the book regardless.

Would I Recommend It:

Any fan of YA paranormal romance would enjoy this book! Years ago, I read a ton of YA novels with vampires, or werewolves, or other types of shifters, and I got sick of those paranormal novels really quickly. Years later, I'm dipping my toes back into the YA paranormal world and I must say, I'm loving what I'm reading so far. Haven is a really excellent YA paranormal novel with a fantastic murder mystery. Another Entangled book that is YA paranormal romance that I'd totally recommend is Black Bird of the Gallows. Super great book, one of my favorites of the year!

Rating:

4 stars. Haven was new to me up until a few weeks ago, when I saw it on Goodreads. It has loose references to Beauty & the Beast, with the tagline being "Sometimes Beauty is the Beast...", and I thought that was pretty neat. I am very thankful to Entangled for sending me a review copy of this book! It's like they read my mind. I will definitely be looking out for Entangled's big titles publishing in the future!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!