Review: Believe Me (Shatter Me #6.5) by Tahereh Mafi

TitleBelieve Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins Publishing 11/16/21
Length:  96 Pages
Series: Shatter Me #6.5

Overview

The devastatingly romantic fifth novella in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shatter Me series, chronicling the events after Imagine Me, the explosive sixth novel.

Juliette and Warner fought hard to take down the Reestablishment once and for all. Life in the aftermath isn’t easy, as they and their friends at the Sanctuary work with their limited resources to stabilize the world.

Warner has his sights set on more than just politics. Since he proposed to Juliette two weeks ago, he’s been eager to finally marry her, the person he loves more than anything and has endured so much to be with. But with so much chaos around them, it’s been nearly impossible for them to have a wedding. And even Juliette has been distracted by everything they need to do.

At long last, Warner and Juliette’s future together is within reach, but the world continues to try to pull them apart. Will they finally be able to be happily, officially, together?

My Thoughts

It’s been a minute since I was last with this series and i’ll never be able to truly sort out if/when we have gotten to the end of what our creative author has given us. In this novella, we are now past the worst of it we think – Ella/Juliette is alive and well, and she and Warner have a chance at their happy ending.

Of course though, you will remember (I hope?) from the last book that things didn’t end perfectly. While they were trying to clean things up to rebuild, destroying buildings that were deemed to be unsafe, Kenji followed ordered and knocked down a building….that housed the design studio that was making Ella’s dress. So…no wedding dress…GASP!

That of course sets the tone for everything in this novella. We watch how they try to make those arrangements work and well, they just don’t. The wedding gets postponed because the world is still so unsettled. We watch how there’s a need for Ella/Juliette to go out into the world, but Warner is so worried for her safety that he doesn’t let that happen. People pull them apart in every moment and direction and we wonder if they will ever get what they have waited so long for.

We want to believe that love will be enough for them, especially through all the books that we read about their start, middle and now ending? but….it seems like they will just have to wait until another moment in time because the need for order, and power, and unity is more important than romance.

So, as a reader, of course when I finished this book, I went online to see if there’s more to the story coming since if you’ll remember, it was intended as a trilogy that was extended. Well, it seems as though there’s nothing more planned, but the ending here hints at there being a need for more. Is that the game of Ms Mafi? leaving us on another cliff should she decide that she’ll continue the story – knowing that there’s more that we could get, or ….we are just left with an open ended ending? I don’t know and it’s going to bug me. But, it shouldn’t keep you guys from reading this one so…enjoy!

Review: The Catacombs (Cult #2) by Penelope Sky

TitleThe Catacombs
Author: Penelope Sky
Publisher/Year:  Hartwick Publishing 11/16/21
Length:  200 Pages
Series: Cult #2

Overview

This man is the only thing that keeps me safe.

The only thing that makes life worth living.

But I know he’s coming…

I know he’s out there.

And until Benton kills him, he’ll never really be gone.

My Thoughts

There are so many directions that this series could go in my mind, and so many extensions that we could see, yet I don’t know if any of that is in the works. Our amazing author Ms Penelope Sky needs to do us readers a solid and GIVE US MORE

We left off the first installment of this series with Constance and Benton being in an ok place. Where he really felt that she was an imposition before, we see real feelings grow between them. They are both still naught to admit what they are, and they don’t want to complicate things, but we can see what’s there. Benton appreciates all that Constance did to save Claire from the camp, but his loyalty ends there since he’s not sure why she needs to hang around. Until he opens his eyes one day and realizes that there’s something more that she does for him.

Constance on the other hand uses Benton for the safety that he provides. When he’s around, she feels safe, like Forneus can’t get her and when he’s gone, she’s afraid for her life. We know that Forneus isn’t giving up on getting her back, we know that he’s stalking her, but at least she has some comfort and security while benton is there.

The plot of this story gets a bit twisty in places. We have that main story line where we know that Constance is living on bought time, but we don’t know what can be done about that. She’s moved into this role of mother type figure to Claire, one that everyone truly loves, and she’s found her place in Benton’s bed which is nice for both of them as well. There’s the daily fear that Forneus will take her, and we see his attempts time after time. Some have wider implications to innocent people, and some attempts take the innocent on purpose.

Then there’s the story line between Benton and Bartholemew. We learn what started their friendship and we understand why there’s so much disappointment once Benton left. Benton does his job by being Bartholemew’s right hand to expand their business and territory, but we continue to see how that’s going to go awry. He’s got the same ambitions that Fender had in the first series, and we know how that has the potential to end. I mean….that’s how the camp was lost to Bartholemew no?

Fender makes an appearance in this story – but in a context that’s not his norm. That’s a nice tease, although nothing more really comes from it.

We have passion and heat. We have fear and security. We have revenge and lies. and we realize that what caused all the dominoes to fall in the first place was something done at the hand of someone that we should have trusted. There’s almost nothing that is salvageable at the end, but as a reader that has hope, we want something to come out of the ashes. We get closure as it’s needed, and I suppose that will have to do.

Personally, i’m itching for either a story on Bartholemew now or one about Benton’s brother Bleu since he played a big role, but I don’t know if that’s in the future for us. The Chateau series teased us with the Cult in the epilogue but no such tease was done in this one. So….on that note, enjoy!

Review: Restrained Under His Duty (Dirty Little Secrets #3) by Stacey Kennedy

TitleRestrained Under His Duty
Author: Stacey Kennedy
Publisher/Year:  Random House 4/4/17
Length:  220 Pages
Series: Dirty Little Secrets #3

Overview

As the chief of security for a prominent senator, Ryder Blackwood is stunned when an anonymous source sends him a compromising photo of his boss’s twenty-five-year-old daughter getting down and dirty in an underground sex club. If it gets out, the media firestorm could ruin her father. More troubling for Ryder is how arousing he finds the whole situation. He’s known Hadley Winters since she was a kid. And now she’s the woman in all his most private fantasies.

Wild behavior helps Hadley get through those painful, lonely nights, but she’s been waiting a long time for a man like Ryder to protect her from herself. Ryder is raw. He’s real. And he makes her feel safe. Now that they’ve both become pawns in a blackmailer’s dangerous game, there’s more at stake than her father’s political career. As the intimate threats tear apart a tender new love, Hadley is forced to trust Ryder with her life—and her heart.

My Thoughts

So i’ll be honest, it’s been quite a bit of time since I was with this series, but I do vaguely remember what was going on with the four friends. They’re all successful and they all own sex clubs, but that’s only a part of who they are. They have these amazing identities and lives that fly above and beyond what they try to hide, and it’s what they’re trying to hide that often gets them into trouble.

In this story – we are focused on Ryder – he owns a security firm and he has been working for a Senator for longer than he can remember. He’s grown close to the man, as well as to his daughter, and the sparks fly between them but they both fight it since there’s complications in what that could mean.

Of course, when something comes out that has the power to compromise Hadley, and in turn harm her father, we see the protective nature of Ryder come out in full force and as a result, the sparks fly to a point where they combust and the world is turned on its side.

There’s a lot of deceit in this story. There’s someone who’s been selling false stories to the tabloids about the friends, and now Hadley has been brought into it. There’s someone who’s trying to get her father to step down from office and when that doesn’t happen, Hadley is blackmailed for it.

Murders are attempted, moles and false stories are planted to weed out whos behind everything, and what inevitably happens is that there’s an unhappy ending for several people. We don’t know who’s trustworthy and we have ideas on who’s not for sure. Will it all come to a head before or after any chance of romance has passed.

The conclusion here sets up a story for the final man of the quad, and we now know who’s behind some things but not yet why. The implications there are immense and I can’t wait to find out now how it resolves since i’ve discovered this series again. Enjoy!

Review: Broken Trust (Broken #3) by Stella Gray

TitleBroken Trust
Author: Stella Gray
Publisher/Year:  Paige Press 11/09/21
Length:  190 Pages
Series: Broken #3

Overview

You can’t run from the past… or from a Bellanti.

I’ve always been a foolish girl.
I should have learned my lesson the first time a man betrayed me.
It hurt when Rico abandoned me. My father’s deal was agony.

Dante’s betrayal… it might kill me.

And there’s nothing I can do.
He’s not the kind of man who takes orders from his wife.
And he’ll never let me leave.
There’s nowhere I can go that he won’t find me.

My father forced me to marry him.

Dante made me love him.

It’s my turn to show them all what a Bellanti woman is…

My Thoughts

It was so lovely to jump back into this story since it’s been a roller coaster between Frankie and Dante throughout books 1 and 2. Their relationship (as most do in this genre) start off on someone be forced into a relationship that they didn’t want, for reasons they didn’t know, and then there’s an evolution of hate turning into love. and then of course there are lies and withholding of information that causes the fragile foundation to crumble.

What we saw at the end of book 2 is exactly that. They had something great, Dante was able to turn off the harsh cold side of himself for a bit and they went away and had a romantic weekend. All for that to come crashing down when Frankie discovered the terms of the deal that her father made with, and realizes that there was almost no value placed on her worth when she was traded to clear a debt.

So, we watched Frankie leave Dante and walk away from the life that they had, and we learn that she’s gone to Florida, to Miami to stay with her mom for a bit. While she’s there, she also learns that she’s pregnant, meaning that as much as she wants to be done with Dante, she never will be now.

Dante knows where she is, he’s tracked her and assumes that she’ll come back, but when weeks go by and that doesn’t happen, he decides to go after her. What we see from there is expected. Frankie is angry that he won’t leave her alone, yet she’s drawn to him from the chemistry and bond that they’ve developed. She finds that she can’t stay away, her heart won’t let her even though her head is telling her to run. IT’s not until he brings in the big guns, the whole family to bring her back and we see that turn a corner.

That break is short lived of course though because there’s someone gunning for the Bellantis and for the Abbotts and no one is safe. Livvie has to go into hiding. The sisters have to be extra protected by their husbands and there’s no idea yet who’s after them. We know that there’s a blonde man with a tattoo on his neck that paid off a mechanic to tamper with Dante’s father’s car which ended up in his death, and we also learned that a similar fate was planned for Marco which makes Dante even on more edge since Marco is a bit more free wheeling and a race car driver that doesn’t have boundaries.

We watch how the notion of a baby changes the dynamic of the entire cast – there are those that are happy and those that are happy with a twinge of jealousy. But we can only hope that it will firm up the bond in the families. until someone comes and hurts what doesn’t belong to him.

Both Frankie and her sister Charlie are caught in the crossfire, both end up in the ER and only one comes out relatively unscathed. The trajectory of this story changes and we can only hope for a better outcome down the road.

On top of all this nonsense, Jessica is still around and that angers Frankie almost as much as the lies on the circumstances of the marriage. Jessica wants Dante and wants to get everything that Frankie has but quickly learn that perhaps she’s now set her sights on another Bellanti and that cannot be a good thing for anyone.

So, in the epilogue, we see how things resolve, perhaps not to how we hoped, but then we realize that there is far more that hasn’t been tied up than we wanted. The idea that Livvie and her mom are protected, hidden in New Orleans is a reassurance, however when we realize who her bodyguard is, there’s an entire new reason to have anxiety. AND….her story isn’t the next in the series which means that we have to wait so much longer to find out how that works out. UNFAIR yet so smart by our author. We now get a story tied to Marco which I think will be great since he likes to live life far more dangerously than the other brothers. So I shall be patient and wait for that one to come out and I hope you guys read the series until then. Enjoy!

Review: Enchant Me (Stark Saga #7) by J Kenner

TitleEnchant Me
Author: J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  Martini & Olive 10/26/21
Length:  214 Pages
Series: Stark Saga #7

Overview

It was supposed to be a new beginning for billionaire Damien Stark, his wife Nikki, and their family…

I thought I knew everything about my beloved husband, Damien Stark. In our years together, I’d heard all the rumors, faced all the dark secrets, and survived the danger that comes hand-in-hand with loving a powerful magnate like Damien.

After all we’ve been through, I believed we were finally free of the past, of the darkness, ready to move into the light of our future together. As we stand ready to renew our vows in front of our friends and family and move on to the next chapter of our life together, I am giddy with joy and love.

I am unprepared for the devastation that steals my happiness and threatens our future in ways I never imagined. Given our past, I should have expected it. But how could I when Damien didn’t either?

This man has come from nowhere, and he says he’s Damien’s son. Everything is chaos, Damien is wrecked, and I don’t know where to turn. The worst part? I think I believe him.

And he has promised to destroy everything we love.

My Thoughts

For anyone who’s not familiar with the love story and connection between Damien and Nikki, you’d take that summary and think the worst. You’d think that this could break their relationship and make it something less significant. For those who have been with this series for years, and with all the spin off series that continue to demonstrate their dedication, you would know that nothing can break them. It’s just a matter of finding out who’s pulling the strings behind the scenes and for what purpose.

In this story, just as the summary tells us, there’s a son that comes out of the woodwork that no one knew about. At least no one that should have. We know that Damien is incapable of being unfaithful to Nikki, so it’s obviously from before their time, and we know that Nikki has always been understanding of the potential of what his playboy past could have led to.

Ashton Stone. That’s the man. The son, the one who has been turned against Damien and who therefore plots how to take him down. What’s interesting about Ash is that he resembles his father, and he’s got the same personality traits and need for risk and challenge, but he’s got an edge that Damien either never had or learned to smooth out. There’s not a great age difference between father and son, and that’s what solidifies the idea of who Ash is, and who his mom is. Ash approaches Damien for a business deal, but turns around and uses his rage to try to take him down.

All on the day of Nikki and Damien’s wedding. He knew the right moment to ruin what was supposed to be beautiful, and he doesn’t it with vengeance.

All while this is happening, we learn that Damien is being blackmailed in a way. There are videos and images that are being threatened to be released and they are new to Damien of course meaning that he doesn’t know the source. He expects that it’s his father, but then when Ashton comes into the fold, he’s also put in the spotlight.

We fear for the reputation impact for this couple, although we know that they can overcome anything. We worry for the safety and sanity of their children, knowing that they wan to protect their kids at any cost, and we worry for what the future will hold.

We go on a roller coaster in this story – watching how Damien comes to terms with having a child, and knowing who his mom is. We watch how he uses patience and honesty to try to explain how he wasn’t aware that he had a child and that Ash’s mom actually didn’t know as well. (you have to read the story to understand that one). We also watch how there’s been such a history of deceit and lies that it’s really hard to know who’s side to go on.

Where we end up in this story is another death/murder, someone being blamed for it who shouldn’t and someone unexpected being the cause of it all. We watch how the passion and faith that Nikki and Damien have in each other is really the driving force behind all that we need, and we see how there’s something that everyone can strive to have to make the world a better place but few can ever get.

While i’m sad that it seems like their journey may finally be done, but I love that there will continue to be several spin-offs that keep us in the Stark fold. So on that note, enjoy and i’m off to find another book to read!

Review: What if I Never (Necklace Trilogy #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

TitleWhat If I Never
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher/Year:  Julie Patra Publishing 10/19/21
Length:  200 Pages
Series: Necklace Trilogy #1

Overview

Allison Wright is delivered a package meant for a different Allison—a unique, expensive necklace. Determined to right the confusion, she seeks out the proper recipient, a journey that takes her to the doorstep of Tyler Hawk, a good looking, recluse billionaire who deals with fine collectibles such as the necklace. She also learns that Allison, his employee, quit her job registering and restoring his vast assortment of collectibles. Ironically, Allison is home to care for her sick mother, on leave from her job at Riptide, the world renowned auction house and her love of such things has her jumping at the opportunity. Soon, she is spending every waking moment immersed in the job the other Allison left behind.

As Allison begins diving into the job for Tyler, secrets about the other Allison begin to surface that have her concerned for her safety. And as she starts hunting for answers, her path crosses with the enigmatic famous author who has a business endeavor with her boss. Dash Black is a man who is dark and edgy, intense and yet quiet. Funny and yet somehow reserved. He draws her in, sets her pulse racing, and her body on fire. She knows there’s a dangerous edge to him, but she can’t seem to care. She’s addicted to everything he is and she simply can’t turn away, no matter what the cost. As Allison is drawn into the life and mystery of the other Allison, a mystery demands answers and passion burns hot. Allison will travel a path that leads to shocking truths and a side of herself she never knew existed.

My Thoughts

I LOVED this introduction to a new trilogy by our amazing author Lisa Renee Jones. It has Inside Out vibes ALL OVER THE PLACE. that series was based on a girl who found diaries of a woman who went missing, who worked at Riptide and we watched how all that unfolded throughout the extended series. This story is similar that it’s based on the discovery of an item that was meant for someone else, for a woman who’s gone missing, and we get more Riptide vibes throughout this as well.

We start off with Allison (Allie) Wright – our leading lady who works for Riptide in NYC, but who’s on leave right now in Nashville taking care of her mother who’s been fighting cancer. She’s in remission now, but Allie’s not ready to believe that things are better. Allie is working at a museum while she’s on leave and she receives a package one day that turns out to be this expensive necklace with the note ‘Forgive Me’ enclosed – leading her to believe that it’s from her father or her ex. Then she realizes that she’s not the intended Allison W to receive this and that instead it was supposed to go to the legal office of Hawk Legal down the street to an Allison W there. When she goes to return it, she learns that Allison has abruptly left work and no one knows where she is and when she’s coming back.

The story from here takes a similar mysterious tone but we are engrossed just the same.

Enter a few leading men into this story. Tyler Hawk, the partner that hires Allison to jump into Allison’s role to lead up an auction that was left in the lurch, ironically something that our Allie is able to do with skill and expertise. Tyler is just like Mark Compton, the owner of Riptide, so Allie’s able to handle him, but we get dark feelings about him. He’s got arrogance for sure but there’s something more, something darker underneath the surface with him that we haven’t quite gotten to yet.

Then there’s Dash Black – an incredibly successful author that Allie has actually edited before, but at the same time, a man who’s powerful, sexy and has something unknown about him as well. For this guy, we get Chris Merit vibes. Chris was the love interest from Inside Out – a wildly successful author who has his own dark past and history that took several books to uncover.

There’s chemistry between Allie and Dash and we see them dance around it for some time. He brings something out in her that she’s never allowed anyone to do – he makes her drop her walls, but likely because they know that there’s an expiration date since she’s going back to New York soon.

Tyler is a wild card – we don’t know his overt intentions but we can begin to see that there’s something more that he’s either hiding or is going to share with us soon. He has a connection to the missing Allison – and one that no one really speaks of, aside from Dash towards the end of this story. It’s not unexpected, but there’s more that even Tyler was unaware about and that’s what makes us wonder.

The heat and chemistry that Dash and Allie share at some point becomes to much to avoid and we watch how they explode together – there’s a connection that is so heated and powerful that you want to hope that they are salvation for one another. We know that Allie’s past is haunted – there are enough teases about that to gives us inclinations of what it could be but we’re never able to learn the truth. We know Dash has suffered his own share of despair and pain, death over and over again that he feels that he’s without salvation and redemption. There’s something about this unexpected pairing that makes you want to hope for the best, but we also know that they are likely self destructive so there’s really no hope …not yet.

We have a roller coaster that’s a mix of some of the sexiest scenes that we’ve read by our author in any books, and then there are the explosive fights that put us off one another completely. There’s anger and fear, and then there’s a cliff that we’re about to jump off. Dash goes to a fight club to work out his anger, Tyler brings Allie there to save him an it doesn’t work. She goes home (to the house that Tyler’s given her mind you) and while she’s there, in the wine cellar looking for something to soothe her broken heart, she realizes someone is in the house…and she has no signal to call 911. That’s where we are left off and now I don’t know that it’s fair that I have to wait until December for book 2. SAD….but this was an amazing read that I could NOT put down. so on that note, you guys have to read it too and enjoy!

Review: Mafia Queen (The DiLustro Arrangement #3) by CD Reiss

TitleMafia Queen
Author: CD Reiss
Publisher/Year:  Paige Press 10/12/21
Length:  298 Pages
Series: DiLustro Arrangement #3

Overview

What doesn’t kill you makes you a killer.

Santino DiLustro changed me. You can’t spend time in bed with the devil without getting addicted to the heat.

Before him, I was a girl. Innocent and weak. 

Now, I’m a woman. A fighter. A killer.

I’ll burn the world down for him. Shatter the sky. But I will not break. 

No. I will rise up and destroy whoever dares to threaten what my king has built, because I am forever his queen.

My Thoughts

I was relieved when this final installment of the story came out – we were left on such a distressing cliff at the end of book two that I NEEDED to see how the story would pan out. If you remember, things were going downhill fast at the end of book two. While Santi and Violetta were finally in a good place, trying to start the life that they felt they needed, Dami (Santi’s old best friend) was jealous and wanted what he felt was his – the inheritance that Violetta was getting of the sacred crown – and he chose to use Gia (Santis’ cousin) as bait on this.

This story shows us how easy it is to sway someone – convince them that the life they have can be better – that they can get more power and stature just because someone tells them. that’s what happens in this story with Gia. We learn that she had a romance with Armando – one of Santi’s closest men, but Dami showed interest, and claimed her, really to use her as a pawn, and Gia was quick to jump on that attention – to go with what Dami wanted because he had power and she wanted it. She was almost the demise of Santi, and that makes our opinion as a reader of her go way down.

So….we left the last installment with Gia pulling the trigger and shooting Santi, so he’s no longer a factor in the story. We watch him fall and believe he’s dead. At that notion, Dami gets what he wants – he takes Violetta now and goes to marry her so that he can get what he feels he deserves – the crown and the rights that he felt Violetta’s father bestowed on him and not Santi. Lucky for Violetta though, she’s not one to go down without a fight, and she makes a mess of things – kills someone and wishes that it were Dami in fact, but gets out of the marriage.

Violetta is now forced to be the Queen – to rule over Sanit’s men since that’s her position to hold. To gain their trust and their support and some how overthrow Dami and the Tabonas – all other ‘mafia’ groups that want to take over the territory that Santi has claimed.

The roller coaster continues – Violetta learns Santi is alive, they try to get to the Crown from the lawyer yet Dami is a step ahead of them and blows up the lawyers office. Death and destruction continue in this third book because every turn we take there’s another thing going wrong. Santi is captured, tortured, his finger is cut off, he’s imprisioned, and there’s no hope for salvation. The saving grace is in the form of Violetta’s mother’s ‘consigliere’ – he comes bearing the crown – which makes every one bow to Violetta since she’s the only one who can handle it. to everyone else it’s hot to the touch, and it’s ethereal – forcing everyone to bend when they see it.

Things move quickly from here – we see plans and strategies put in place, knowing that there will be death and destruction coming next. We have Dario who’s a mafia leader from New York come to their aid, with his own agenda though since he comes when he believes that Santino is dead. There’s something that we’re not quite getting to with him in this story and I look forward to seeing where his saga takes us since CD Reiss hints that the next series coming is about Dario.

When we began this series, there was the hope for love and the need to validate family. We have ups and downs in this story – watching as love is forced and not earned. Power is exchanged and taken from those who earned it by those who are too hungry for it. We watch as there’s a hope and desire for a life that’s never meant to be, in the hopes that we can make a life that works ….with balance. There’s chemistry and passion and there’s heat and need. All the necessary ingredients to a story that keeps moving quickly and resolves in a way that’s worthy. So….that all being said – i’m now off to find something new to read. Enjoy!

Review: Broken Vow (Broken #2) by Stella Gray

TitleBroken Vow
Author: Stella Gray
Publisher/Year:  Paige Press 10/5/21
Length:  194 Pages
Series: Broken #2

Overview

I thought the past was behind me… but becoming Mrs. Bellanti put a target on my back.

My husband isn’t a gentle man.
And God knows he isn’t the sharing type.
Rico’s announcement has dropped a bomb into my marriage.

I never thought I’d see Rico again.
Never thought Dante would ever have to know.
Seeing the way he looks at me now, as though I’m just another problem to be handled?
It’s breaking my heart.

I thought I was in love once before.

I swore I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

But falling for a Bellanti was far worse than a simple mistake…

My Thoughts

We ended book 1 on the worst note – seeing things start to get amazing for Dante and Frankie – they really did seem to have a true and real relationship, one that had love in it regardless of the means to the beginning, and then Rico shows up. We didn’t know who he was, but we knew that there was a reason that Frankie was avoiding his calls in book 1.

She was married. To Rico. And he left her. On their Honeymoon and never came back. She was heartbroken, then angry and then she went home.

Fast forward to the present when she’s truly happy with Dante and he with her, and then Rico appears. Perfect timing right? He makes Dante lose trust in everything, and we see Frankie lose everything. She is kicked out of the house, out of Dante’s life, out of the vineyard. She watches Jessica the conniving assistant come back and sink her claws into Dante. On the other side of things, we also watch her non-Dante life fall apart. Her father sells off all of the horses that Livvie loves so much and we watch Livvie get shuttled between Charlie’s house in SF to school every day since they deem it unsafe for her to stay at the house with their father anymore.

There’s so much despair happening – we don’t know what else can go wrong. Charlie and Frankie are trying to be strong – Charlie’s husband is still away and he’s been away longer than ever so she’s nervous. There’s really nothing good on the horizon and really all that Frankie wants is for Dante to give her a chance to explain.

He’s not having it. He wants to hear nothing that Frankie has to say – he just wants to cut his losses with her, take over the winery that he got when he married her and be done with it all so that his family’s reputation doesn’t get hurt any more.

Little does he know that there’s more to the story than anyone knows. Frankie goes searching in her father’s office and finds the contract that sells her to Dante. What is included are the clear words that the Abbot vineyard goes to Frankie and her legal husband. which is not Dante – so she goes in fighting, knowing that Dante only wanted the grapes. She thinks that she’ll be able to convince Rico to leave and give her his piece of a failing winery but vindictive Jessica lets Rico know the full value of what he has.

This makes the story take a frustrating turn. Rico doesn’t want to let Frankie go because he wants the money from the vineyard – and Franke really doesn’t want to sell her family history. Rico never wanted anything from Frankie even when they were married if it wasn’t tied to money. When he realized that her father wasn’t going to be able to buy them a house in Italy, that’s when he left her, so we know that his money driven.

On the flip side, Dante hates Frankie and hates Rico, and really just wants to get everyone out of his life. What’s nice for Dante though is that he has a brother Armani who’s not going to leave any rock unturned and will get to the bottom of what’s going on with Rico – and what we learn is not surprising but it’s a way to end things.

The turn that we see happen in this story – throughout the uncertainty is the notion that love can conquer all – and that sometimes even the hate that you have for someone is firmly rooted in love. Dante wants to hate Frankie and wants her out of his life but what he realizes is that she’s gotten under his skin. He wants to get her out of his system physically but when he does that, when they come together with intense heat and passion, it’s not enough for him. He wants more. On the same note, Frankie has never stopped loving Dante – she only wants to make him realize that what they had is real and what she had with Rico was an illusion.

We’ve made it over a hill of sorts, but there are lies and there are untruths being told that have broken trust all over again. The end of this story leaves us on another cliff where we thought life would be happy and move in the right direction but the discovery of information makes that impossible. Our happy bubble is shattered and it’s going to take quite a bit of effort to get it back on track. Now I have to wait 3 weeks -ish to get the final installment of the series – so i’ll try to be patient. Enjoy!

Review: Broken Bride (Broken #1) by Stella Gray

TitleBroken Bride
Author: Stella Gray
Publisher/Year:  Paige Press 9/7/21
Length:  200 Pages
Series: Broken #1

Overview

I was sold to him to settle a debt… but Dante Bellanti never settles.

My father was always a gambling man.
Unfortunately, he never could pick winners.
When the wolves closed in, he chose himself, like always.

He traded his freedom… for mine.

He forced me to marry.
Now Dante Bellanti owns my body.
I’m just another possession for a man who already has too much.
So I won’t let him have my heart.

But you know what they say about gambling.

The house always wins.

And I’m at the mercy of the Bellantis…

My Thoughts

Well….I read through this book in a matter of hours last night, could not put it down because I really needed to see what happened between Frankie and Dante. Frankie was on the precipice of something great – coming home from Italy after spending a few years learning how to improve her family business and what does she learn when she walks in, it was all for nothing

Down the road there’s the Bellantis – who are mourning the death of their patriarch and Dante finds himself at the head of the family. Trying to alleviate the family of the ownership of some debts that people owe them, ensuring that territory that is theirs remains safe and giving space where they can afford to in order to keep the peace. As part of that, he takes on the debts of Frankie’s father and with that, he takes her as part of the payment.

The story from here on out is watching Frankie come to terms with a life that she never wanted, for reasons that she’s not sure of, and with a man that she wants but doesn’t want to want. Her older sister is able to give her some guidance on how to life with a ‘made man’ since her husband is part of a crime family and together they try to protect their younger sister.

Dante on the other hand has to manage his two brothers – each of who has a different motivation in the family business if any at all, and we hope that there’s something that can come out of that family.

There’s an adversary in the form of Dante’s assistant – a woman who clearly wants Dante as more than a casual bed partner, and when she meets Frankie and sees there is something building between husband and wife, well, we know that it’s not going to end well for anyone.

There are several unknowns in this story. One is how Dante’s father died. We learn that perhaps Frankie’s father knows more about it than he let on, so we see if that plays out. Then there’s the notion of wondering if Frankie and Dante will ever find a common ground. She wants to be an equal – she wants love and she wants to work. She’s given an opportunity to help the vineyard and we have to be patient to see how that plays out. There’s also a man named Rico that Frankie clearly doesn’t want to have any contact with and of course that means that he will show up at the wrong moment.

We have a roller coaster with this couple – there’s chemistry and a spark between them that’s unexpected and they slowly come to have more than hate towards one another. They are celebrating the First Press of a new wine that bonds their families together and then the unimaginable happens. A spouse turns up that no one expected…..end scene.

You can now understand why I couldn’t put the book down last night so now thank goodness book 2 is out and i’m going to read it tonight! Enjoy!

Review: The Cult (The Cult #1) by Penelope Sky

TitleThe Cult
Author: Penelope Sky
Publisher/Year:  Hartwick Publishing 9/14/21
Length:  268 Pages
Series: The Cult #1

Overview

I see his wicked smile in the theatre. I see it in the apartment across from mine.

I see it everywhere.

Before I can run, I’m taken.

And when I wake up…I’m in the middle of nowhere.

The man who’s taken me claims to be a demon.

And claims I’m his angel.

What happens when he finds out I don’t have wings?

I’m not the only prisoner in this forest. There’s a little girl too. Her name is Claire. She’s beautiful, happy, wonderful. It’s my responsibility to protect her–and I will give my life to accomplish that.

She says her father will save us both.

She says he’s powerful, formidable, that he’ll burn this entire forest to get to her.

I hope she’s right.

My Thoughts

WOW – that’s all I can say about this one – it’s a sick and twisted version of all that we love from Penelope Sky and i’m here for it. If you remember back to the Chateau series – we were in the Alps in a camp that was used to package and distribute drugs. Women were kidnapped and kept there to do the dirty work because they came at no cost- and their lives were held solely in the hands Fender and his brother.

Once they abandoned the camp, someone came in to take the land over. Someone who believed in all that was good and perfect and beautiful in the world – Angels. Because they themselves were demons. The worst form of Hell and they needed Angels for redemption. And so, the history of kidnapping women and bringing them to the camp continues, in a new form, because Forneus and his men kidnap women that they believe are angels who can help get them forgiveness for all they’ve done.

We start this story with our leading lady Constance – she’s a ballerina and she’s just finished a performance when a man, Benton, walks in – holding up a picture of another ballerina who has gone missing. We don’t know the story there – but we know that he’s in despair. This is the night that Constance’s life changes forever.

Benton’s ex-lover has been kidnapped along with his daughter Claire and he’s trying to hunt them down. No one can help him find her and while he wants to find Beatrice, he wants his daughter more. Constance has this memory in her mind when she performs the next night and discovers a man, all in black, staring at her with a smile that is so creepy that she’s scared out of her mind. She goes home and discovers him in the apartment across the way staring at her, and then when the police won’t take her seriously, we know her moment is about to come. The next night at her performance, the man is there again, with an entire team of men dressed in black, with horns on their heads. The police won’t help her so she tries to find Benton, knowing that he knows she’s not lying.

She goes to him to try to get protection and that’s not enough – she’s captured and we now have no idea what her fate will be or the fate of Beatrice and Claire.

We then learn that Benton is connected to a man from The Chateau. Bartholemew and the Chaussers. The group that tried to overthrow Fender and Magnus and destroyed the camp in entirety. He’s able to find out about The Cult and what they are doing, and where they are. Be barters to get Beatrice and Claire’s freedom, by trading distribution help for Forneus and his team. (they deal in LSD). When Benton goes to retrieve his daughter, he’s told that she’s dead and handed a bag of bones. Once they realize that they’ve been crossed, the story takes another turn.

On the inside of the camp, the women learn that the cult, the demons believe that they are truly angels who will help save them from hell. Each demon has an angel and each demon has their own method of getting forgiven for their sins. Constance has Forneus who’s the leader – and he’s not resorted to harming her in any way which is a plus, but we haven’t figured him out yet. He’s terrifying and he even gives her the pill (LSD) in the hopes that she can lead him to being saved, but that doesn’t work.

Beatrice’s demon on the other hand is dark and mean. He gets angry when she’s not able to make her true wings come out and he cuts her back open to force them to come out. He allows another demon to try to do the same with Beatrice’s young daughter and Constance comes to her defense and kills the demon that goes after her.

we watch a transfer of power and authority here – the men are afraid of the angels, but they are even more afraid of Constance. She has a knife and she’s killed a demon, and for that, they cower. She’s not afraid of them and she protects Claire in that sense because she knows that she can’t be hurt. The question now becomes how can they break out and how can they get their freedom. We know that Benton tried and failed since he believes they are dead, but the tide will turn once he knows they are alive.

The story for the back half is a roller coaster. Benton some how manages to get Beatrice and Claire free and Claire won’t leave without Constance. Beatrice is on the brink of death after being tortured some more by her demon, and yet Constance has managed to keep Claire alive, happy and protected. So Benton has no choice but to bring her with them but he wants nothing to do with her once they are back in Paris.

Forneus believes that Benton has something that’s his – Constance. And he’s not willing to give it up. He finds her in Paris, hunts her down, and scares her even more. The only safe place for Constance to go is Benton’s house but he wants nothing to do with her. We are left at a point in this story where we know that Constance means quite a bit to a lot of people, but will she mean enough to the people who can save her. We just don’t know yet and that’s where we have to wait until November when book 2 comes out. So…on that note – please read this one. it’s sick and twisted in a way that none of Penelope Sky’s books have ever been and it’s a treat. Enjoy!