Review: Justify Me (Stark Saga #4.5 / Masters & Mercenaries Crossover) by J Kenner

Title: Justify Me
Author:  J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  Evil Eye Concepts 4/10/18
Length:   130 Pages
Series:  Stark Saga #4.5 / Masters & Mercenaries Cross Over

Overview

McKay-Taggart operative Riley Blade has no intention of returning to Los Angeles after his brief stint as a consultant on mega-star Lyle Tarpin’s latest action flick. Not even for Natasha Black, Tarpin’s sexy personal assistant who’d gotten under his skin. Why would he, when Tasha made it absolutely clear that–attraction or not–she wasn’t interested in a fling, much less a relationship.

But when Riley learns that someone is stalking her, he races to her side. Determined to not only protect her, but to convince her that–no matter what has hurt her in the past–he’s not only going to fight for her, he’s going to win her heart. Forever.

My Thoughts

I really enjoy when authors are collaborative and not competitive and that’s exactly what we have here in this novella.  J Kenner and Lexi Blake have teamed up and introduced a cross over of sorts to their series.  What also happened here is that i realized that i only read the first book in the Taggart series….so i’ve got even more to catch up on!

Anyhow, what we have here is a sweet story of two people who have history (as they typically do) with a strong attraction, but one that they never acted on.  Riley and Natasha are linked because of Riley’s past of working with Nat’s father, and when he tried to act on what was a mutual attraction years and years ago, she turned him down.  Once her father passed away, she pushed him away further and there grew the wall between them.  Thankfully her boss needed Riley’s help in protecting Nat, and so they have come full circle.

The tension and anxiety in this novella comes from two directions.  First the initial reason for bringing them back together in the hunt for a stalker.  Riley is alpha and needs to protect her and Nat is strong willed and doesn’t want that.  But of course, the fear for her life makes it an easier pill to swallow and so we see security / bodyguard prowess come out in the search for who’s tormenting Natasha.

Top that with chemistry that they both decide they can act on with guardrails – and they combust.  literally.  It’s hot and steamy and what we have here i think is a bit more Lexi than we usually see from J Kenner in the intensity of the BDSM scenes between the pair.  The safety that they find in the club makes it easier to let down their walls, take advantage of what they want, and not feel like it’s crossing lines.  It starts a relationship i in safe place and explodes in a good way from there.

Since this is a novella, we don’t get terribly deep into anything but that’s ok.  We get to the bottom of our roller coaster ride with the stalker fairly quickly and we get to the crux of the issues in the relationship quickly as well and see conclusions that are valid and fair in both.  So…on that note, i’m going to get back into the Taggart family saga since i’ve been remiss.  Enjoy!

Review: Damien (Stark Saga #6) by J Kenner

Title: Damien
Author:  J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  Evil Eye Concepts 1/8/19
Length:   257 Pages
Series:  Stark Saga #6

Overview

I am Damien Stark. From the outside, I have a perfect life. A billionaire with a beautiful family. But if you could see inside my head, you’d know I’m as f-ed up as a person can be. Now more than ever.

I’m driven, relentless, and successful, but all of that means nothing without my wife and daughters. They’re my entire world, and I failed them. Now I can barely look at them without drowning in an abyss of self-recrimination.

Only one thing keeps me sane–losing myself in my wife’s silken caresses where I can pour all my pain into the one thing I know I can give her. Pleasure.

But the threats against my family are real, and I won’t let anything happen to them ever again. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep them safe–pay any price, embrace any darkness. They are mine.

I am Damien Stark. Do you want to see inside my head? Careful what you wish for.

My Thoughts

i will never ever get enough of this series and the characters that are in it because Ms Kenner does such an amazing job writing each and every installment.  If we thought that we had enough drama in the last installment, well even more is packed here.

We start off getting into the head of Damien, six years ago when he first crossed paths with Nikki at a pageant in Texas.  We’ve heard the story before, that he was a judge and she was competing and there was a spark, but that nothing could come of it for years.  Well, we now get to see what that night was like from his eyes, and then how life has changed for him and by him all for the better…or has it?

we’ve just come off the story line of Anne being kidnapped, and Bree being taken as well, but no one really understanding the motives.  We know who did it (Rory – the boy that Bree was dating) but not the why and how it came to happen.  Just when they think that they’re going to get insight, Rory’s murdered in prison and things are all in the dark again.

Of course, we know that the story line has to become even more complex.  That’s not enough.  Damien is still coping with the feelings that he failed his family by allowing things to happen and not being able to control the world and that pushes another wedge between the couple.  Things are strong between them, unbreakable, that is unless Damien breaks them.

Around them we see that others are feeling fragile as well.  Evelyn, one of our old favorites seems to be going through things, with Blaine and with Frank (Nikki’s dad).  There’s also Abby, Nikki’s business partner who’s going through things with Travis, their co-worker and that all amps up the tension in the story.

Sofia of course is the constant – as a reader, you want to hope that she’s able to change and that she cares more about having Damien in her life than making waves, but she makes it very difficult to trust her.  this story is yet another reason that we question everything.

Then there’s the entrance of Quincey, a guy that we sort of met through Dallas’ story, and again in the last book when Anne was taken, but i think that we’re going to get a dose of him soon since he’s got more secrets than we’re happy to let lay.

Roller coaster of anxiety and tension here right?  so what’s the best way to overcome that?  the traditional and well written steam and passion that only our author can write.  The scenes between Nikki and Damien are dirty, yet so full of passion and heat that you know they are based in love.  There’s something so intense and on fire between them that they use each other to feel better and use each other to survive.  It’s really sweet and makes you want to believe that it can be real…right?

We’re given closure for some of the story lines, and yet so many are left open which means that this series is far from over (or at least i hope).  so….now it’s off to find the next book to read while i wait for more STARK!  enjoy!

Review: War Storm (Red Queen #4) by Victoria Aveyard

Title: War Storm
Author:  Victoria Aveyard
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins Publishing 5/15/18
Length:   546 Pages
Series:  Red Queen #4

Overview

VICTORY COMES AT A PRICE.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all . . . starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolish everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power . . . for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

My Thoughts

I started this book when it first came out in May and for some reason i was stuck in the first 50 pages….having the hardest time ever getting into it.  I think that part of it was due to it being so long since the previous installment came out and partly because to be honest, the first few chapters were slow moving.  I’m not one to ever let a book beat me though, so for the last few days, i’ve hunkered down and read it.  Let’s just say that by page 100, i was sucked back into this book like i have been with all the others and i’m both really happy with how it turned out and really upset.

We pick back up into this story at a time where Mare is still living the same predicament as always, loving Cal but not being able to be with him, having this interesting love hate thing with Maven, and really just wanting to find a way for everyone to live together happily.  It’s a pipe dream and there’s too much at stake for everyone if that happens.

what i’ve come to really enjoy about this series, and this final installment especially is the fact that it’s the women, the Queens who are truly powerful here.  i’m not going to get on a soapbox and start talking about how women should have more power, but Iris (Maven’s wife), Eve (Cal’s betrothed), Anabel (Cal’s grandmother), Mare, Farley…the list goes on and on…well, they are the one who call the shots – they manipulate, sure, but they are decisive and emotional and powerful and it’s amazing.

There are so many social causes here in this story too – it’s not just about growing into your role in life, creating the world in what you want it to be, realizing that you perhaps see things differently than your parents (which is the theme of all of these types of books when we see our main characters taking their own stance in life).  But in this story, we see counties dividing, fighting and looking to conquer one another for no reason aside from the feeling that they need to.  When in reality, they are all after a similar cause – to have something for their family to be proud of, to have equality, to have a better quality of life.  to love and cherish whomever you want.  family or friends or otherwise.  Yet, it takes 4 books, 500 pages a piece for these characters to come to that conclusion.

It’s sad though, there are so many characters that we continued to invest ourselves in throughout this series, and sadly many of them do not make it to the end.  Brothers die, friends are killed, people are manipulated to their own demise, and what should be a happy ending isn’t.  Even where the epilogue leaves us isn’t a happy ending.  it’s a statement – sure.  one that is meant to take you in one direction or another, but it’s not the ending that i know that i wanted and i’m sure that a lot of others wanted as well.

Questions becomes, does love conquer all?  is love strong enough?  is hope for change real and is there a way to change what was once destroyed?  i guess you have to read to find out and then maybe someone can let me know what they think too.  Now i’m off to find something else to read – and maybe cross my fingers that Ms Aveyard will write another novella in this series so that we can get more!  Enjoy!

Review: Shameless (White Lies Duet #2) by Lisa Renee Jones

Title: Shameless
Author:  Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher/Year:  Ever After Romance 9/12/17
Length:   287 Pages
Series:  White Lies Duet #2

Overview

Nick “Tiger” Rogers, sought out Faith Winter with revenge as his agenda. He made her his obsession. He seduced her. He made her want him. He made her trust him. And then he trusted her. He wanted her. He loved her.

But now, the lies will be exposed, the truth revealed.

Hearts will be broken. Lives shattered.

Nick. Faith.

The truth. The passion.

The SHAMELESS obsession.

My Thoughts

this is a great continuation and finale to the series where we really get to see how things pan out for Nick and Faith.  There’s so much going on in this story that you don’t know which mystery to solve and when you actually do solve it, you wonder what it means for Faith and Nick.

From the first book we know that their relationship was built on lies – at least as far as Nick is concerned – and we have yet to discover exactly what those lies are and what impact they have.  We get teased with the club as being the big lie but that can’t be it so when it comes out towards the end, it’s catastrophic.

As was the case in the first installment, we are trying to find out what happened to Faith’s mom and Nick’s dad – knowing that it couldn’t have been a coincidence that they both died around the same time, especially since there seems to be a weird connection aside from him being her lawyer.

Add to that story line something that’s in a different tone.  The idea that Faith can be what she wants once she’s able to clear her plate a bit and that’s where we see her trajectory going.  Art is something that she can now focus on once again and when she does, she finds friendships with Sara/Chris Merit who we all know and love from another amazing series by Ms. Jones.  Add to that successes that she’s starting to see with her career, that is until Macom (her ex) comes back into her life and Josh (her agent) seems to be looking out for himself and not Faith.

What carries us through this story is the unknown of who’s behind everything that’s happening at the winery (although this one i kind of figured out), and how it affects EVERYTHING.  There’s also the common thread of all books by our author of the insane chemistry that we have between our main characters and how that translates into heat, passion, sex – all that leaps off the page and makes you insanely jealous and yet happy for them at the same time.

Even though we do get a resolution here, i wish that we had more with this couple since i think that there’s so much more that we can see….maybe they’ll be woven into something in the future.  anyhow – enjoy!