Review: Bitch Slap by J Kenner

Title: Bitch Slap
Author: J Kenner
Publisher/Year: Martini & Olives  5/31/17
Length:   158 Pages

Overview

The first time I met her I wanted to slap her.
The second time, I knew I had to have her.
As for the third time, a gentleman doesn’t tell.
So I guess it’s a good thing I’m no gentleman … right?

Let’s get this out of the way, right off the bat: I love women.

I love the way they look. The way they smell. The way they feel. Especially the way they feel. And I’ve pretty much made it my mission to give each and every woman who shares my bed the ride of her life.

Then I met her. Bitchy as hell and completely uninterested in me. And damned if I didn’t want her. Crave her. I told myself I only wanted to tame her. That it was all about the challenge.

I never expected to break through that ice queen exterior and find the softness underneath. Never expected how wild she’d be between the sheets or the way she’d cry my name with such sincere intensity when I totally rocked her world.

Most of all, I never expected to fall for her.

But I did.

And the question is, now that I know I want her, how the hell do I go about keeping her?

My Thoughts

So i’m a huge fan of all things tied to J Kenner since we have some of the best series by her so i was excited to get into this standalone.  It’s an interesting story – honestly, i think that it felt VERY VERY different from all that we’ve read by J Kenner, and i wondered at times if it was actually written by her.  It was only the tie back to Jamie and her boyfriend Hunter to help out with some security things, along with teasing back to Stark through needing help getting into a hotel that made them all blend together.

So what we have here is a story of a guy, Pierce, who’s had his heart broken in the past, was military as well, so we know that he’s got more walls than anyone.  He’s looking for ‘something’ but not sure what it is, and he knows that he only wants ‘one night’ with anyone so that he’s not able to grow bonds.

Then there’s Jez – the leading lady of this saga, the older sister of a hollywood starlet who’s on the bad end of a scandal, and the sister just wants to find a way to protect her sister and keep things from getting any worse.

Its through a wrong encounter that we see these two cross paths, thinking that each is someone else and it’s clearly all for the best as we see.

So, Pierce and Jez show us that they have interesting chemistry – both for the fact that they are strong willed and the fact that they’re looking for something without knowing that they are looking for it.  meaning they both clearly need a release as they’re high strung and they both need to find comfort in someone and trust in someone, so it’s nice that they are able to avoid admitting it here and just do it. for now.

With this book, it’s sweet-  and quite expected but i don’t know – there’s something about it that didn’t feel right with me.  We usually have good highs and lows when we get stories from Ms Kenner and that’s not really the case here.  there were maybe a few seconds of grief sure, but nothing that was uber climactic and i feel like it’s a miss on her part.  The ending though was nice since it wasn’t the expected ending for some of the characters – so that was played nicely.

so all in all, a decent novella, and i think that as a tied me over to something out from the bigger series about nikki and damien, i’ll take it.  enjoy!

Review: Behind the Curtain by Beth Kery

Title: Behind the Curtain
Author: Beth Kery
Publisher/Year: Penguin Publishing 5/2/17
Length:   400 Pages

Overview

Cultures clash and passion ignites in the novel that will leave you begging for more—from the bestselling author of The Affair and Looking Inside.
 
There’s something about this woman…

On a break between overseas jobs, journalist Asher Gaites returns to his hometown of Chicago—and allows his friends to persuade him to check out a hot new singer. At a downtown jazz club, he’s soon transfixed by the lyrical voice and sensuous body of a woman who performs behind a thin, shimmering veil…

…That could bring a man to his knees.

The veil gives Moroccan-American Laila Barek the anonymity she needs since she has never been able to reconcile her family’s values with her passion for music. But one man is inexplicably drawn to her. And when Asher confronts her on a subway platform after a gig, he’s shocked to recognize the woman who walked away from him nine years ago…

Laila has never been able to forget the touch, the feel, the taste of Asher. And despite the doubt and fear that wind their way into their lives, they must trust the heat of their desire to burn down the walls the world has placed between them…

My Thoughts

So – where to start on this one.  I’m a huge fan of Beth Kery -i read anything i can get my hands on by her, and so i was really excited to see this new stand alone story.  What we have is a sweet romantic saga that spans about 8 years sort of, with the story starting in the present, jumping to the past for it to make sense and then taking us back to the present to see how things play out.

The premise and idea of the story are sound – and knowing the writing style that we get from Ms Kery, that should help keep it moving, but i found that there were points throughout this book that i just skimmed through and pushed ahead since it wasn’t moving for me.

The main characters are lovable for sure – we have Asher who’s the main man, coming back from a job oversees looking to meet with his family before he’s off on another job.  He’s got a bit of a tough background since his family is very wealthy, quite established in their business, and expect Asher to fall in line and work for them.  He’s got a band of best friends who help keep the tone light, and i kind of got the sense at the beginning that the friends Jimmy and Rudy could have their own installments, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the point of this book.  Asher’s been backed into corners by his family and what they expect of him, even to the point where his cousin Eric goes out of his way to be the perfect specimen and rides Asher to no end.

Then we have Laila – our sweet and innocent leading lady – who at the time these 2 met, she was 19 and just starting to find herself in life, all while trying to be exactly what her family wants.  When Asher opens her eyes to what she could truly feel and experience in the realm of love, well we know that it’s going to be bad.

So the essence of this story is that we living present day with our characters, watching Asher struggle with what he wants to do with his life while his family hates all of his choices, and it’s on a return trip home to Chicago where he finds that the past has come back to his present. He goes to a music show with his friends where there’s a new sultry singer performing and she’s kept her identity a secret through the use of a veil or curtain during her shows – but asher sees through it.

And to the past we go – watching their romance unfold and watching how it was doomed from the beginning but the romance and emotions are all there.

So this is where i’m lost a bit.  What i’m used to seeing from Ms Kery is a story that’s fast moving and really intense and this one was more ‘sweet’ i guess.  not what i was expecting.  The writing is all there, the characters are all nice and emotional, but it’s not the same level of intensity that i’m used to and i felt a bit let down.

Regardless, when we’re brought back to the present with our characters, things do heat up a bit since they are ‘older and more mature’ and i think that there’s a slight change or turn that happens to make the conclusion come to us fast and hard.  There are scenes that are sexy and hot, and helped us finish it off on a higher note.

So with all that, still a fan of Beth Kery clearly, but this book may not make it to the top of my fan list.  sorry!!

Review: Hold Me (Stark Trilogy #4.1) by J Kenner

Title: Hold Me
Author: J Kenner
Publisher/Year: Evil Eye Conceps 5/23/17
Length:   120 Pages
Series:  Stark Trilogy #4.1

Overview

My life with Damien has never been fuller. Every day is a miracle, and every night I lose myself in the oasis of his arms.

But there are new challenges, too. Our families. Our careers. And new responsibilities that test us with unrelenting, unexpected trials.

I know we will survive—we have to. Because I cannot live without Damien by my side. But sometimes the darkness seems overwhelming, and I am terrified that the day will come when Damien cannot bring the light. And I will have to find the strength inside myself to find my way back into his arms.

My Thoughts

I’ll never get enough of Damien and Nikki, especially as we see their lives grown and change together so this novella is a great little snippet into how their lives have changed once again.  We left them after Nikki had a miscarriage while trying to grow her business in Dallas, and then how she and Damien struggled to understand what that meant for their relationship.  As things happened, they ended up not only adopting a little girl but finding themselves pregnant again and this time it stuck.

So we’re in the future, just as Nikki is about to go back to work and as all new moms struggle, we see that she has a tough time knowing that she’s going to miss those moments of her kids growing up, all those firsts, but also knowing that she wants to stand on her own and grow her company since that’s her passion.

The short novella we have here is a sweet one of seeing how a relationship changes, yet how those struggles are real, but can be managed through the never ending support of your partner.  Damien continues to amaze us in how patient and understanding he is, and how he’s supportive until the end.

It’s when problems arise in Nikki’s company that we see things change, and we can only wonder what those outcomes and decisions will be and how they will shape the lives of the Starks moving forward.

While it was perhaps a bit too short to truly give us the amazing bits that we have come to crave with this couple, it’s a nice little bit of reading to keep things moving with this story.  Enjoy!

Review: In Bed with the Billionaire (Nine Circles #5) by Jackie Ashenden

Title: In Bed with the Billionaire
Author: Jackie Ashenden
Publisher/Year: St Martin’s Press 11/1/16
Length:   300 Pages
Series:  Nine Circles #5

Overview

In the final Nine Circles novel, there is a fine line between pleasure and pain, between sin and salvation. Jackie Ashenden shows what happens when a dangerously irresistible man and woman collide, in and out of the bedroom.

In Bed with the Billionaire

Known to the underworld only as Jericho, billionaire Theo Fitzgerald is one of the most powerful men in the world. But his plan is to tear down the criminal empire his father created from the inside out—unless someone else does it for him.

He suspects a bold, seductive woman named Temple Cross might be trying to take him out with it—but for the chance to burn in the heat she gives off, he’s not sure if he minds…

A hired hit woman, Temple has been waiting to get close to Jericho her whole life. The man who destroyed her family is worth looking in the eye before she kills him—but when she’s finally alone with Jericho, he’s nothing like the ruthless barbarian she imagined. Her reaction to his touch is explosively sexual—and their emotional connection is too powerful for her to ignore.

Is she his shot at redemption? Or will he have to risk losing her love to save her life?

My Thoughts

WOW – so, i think that we got exactly what we were hoping for as a conclusion and resolution to this fairly complicated story.  Not only was it filled with twists and turns, i think that we also got to see the true colors of people.

Before i get into the meat of this story – i have to say it again- i don’t know how Ms Ashenden does it, but what we have is another example of a series that’s made up of stories about couples that happen in a chronological order of sorts, but instead we have a series that’s made up of stories that are completely connected, and you have to really follow the series as it goes to truly understand what everything means to each other part.

So in this final installment, we get to see how it will all play out.  You know that throughout this one, we have seen couples come together in the hopes of taking down a kingpin only to learn that there’s someone bigger and badder who’s behind it all, and then when we find out that it’s Theo, Violet’s brother who’s supposedly dead, well that makes things all that more complicated.  He has his motivations but the question becomes whether we can trust him or not.  and the guess is not.

Then there’s Temple – the woman that we had met as Eva’s driver, hired by Zac to protect her and when we saw her betray Eva a few installments back, you had to wonder what that was all about.  We learn that she’s linked to them all in a deeper way – having her ties to Elijah in the hopes of taking down the ring as well as trying to find her sister who was taken by them and sold.

Of course you know that since she’s personally invested, there’s another revenge saga.  Add to that the fact that she’s an assassin, and you know that things are going to get spicy – FAST.   Temple takes on a job at the request of Zac to locate Jericho (or Theo) and take him down, kill him all so that this can be done with.  What no one expected was that there would be feelings there, that we would see the truth behind Temple and the truth behind Jericho and perhaps that there was so much more that was going to come out.

Throughout this story we see the fight of chemistry between Jericho and Temple.  She wants to get information from him in regards to where her sister is/was and then kill him, all while playing him and herself.  She won’t admit what she’s feeling towards Jericho and she won’t even it admit the reasons behind it, but with the prodding that he does, and his need for control, we start to see things unravel.

Then there’s Jericho.  He’s got his motivations, the fact that he knew all about what it was that his father did, and his intent all these years was to take down the ring and make sure that his father paid for everything.  Even if it means that his sister will never look at him again.  And we know that Violet is a tough one – so you never know.

The journey here isn’t as deep but very angst ridden since they both have so much pain and it’s all tied to the Nine Circles desired outcome.  What we don’t know is how it’s going to end, who’s going to remain alive and what that will mean for these friends and family.  I think that there’s a level of expectation of the happy ending and i think that it’s highly unreasonable to expect that to be the case now that things are being shaken up, so it’s the masterful writing that gives us closure in a way that makes sense and gives us hope.

Also, true to her form, Ms Ashenden gives us some incredibly steamy scenes.  Not the bondage that Zac loves, not the control of the others, but the power and rage that only Jericho can have and the fight that only Temple can bring.  It’s hot and sensual and really really intense.  To top it off, we get romance, and we get saving grace and that’s what we need at this point.

Now i’m bummed that i don’t have more with this series, but i think that it was exactly what i needed right now to read.  I hope you guys give it a try!

Review: Kidnapped by the Billionaire (Nine Circles #4) by Jackie Ashenden

Title: Kidnapped by the Billionaire
Author: Jackie Ashenden
Publisher/Year: St Martin’s Press 3/1/16
Length:   384 Pages
Series:  Nine Circles #4

Overview

When revenge and desire collide…

Seven years ago, billionaire-turned-bodyguard Elijah Hunt lost everything he had—his family, his future—and now he wants revenge. But when he decides to kidnap the daughter of the man who ruined his life, Elijah gets a lot more than he bargained for.

Violet Fitzgerald is nothing like her corrupt wealthy father. In fact, she’s so disarmingly independent—and irresistible—that she’s downright dangerous…

there is no place to hide.

Violet never thought she’d feel a connection to her captor. But there’s something beneath Elijah’s steel-bodied exterior that makes her want to know him more deeply…and surrender to his every demand.

However, once Elijah’s erotic fantasies become a reality—and he and Violet develop a powerful connection—he finds himself in a quandary: Is he still the one in control? Or has Violet imprisoned him—body and soul?

My Thoughts

Well, we knew that things were getting very very complicated and while Fitz has now been murdered, we know that there’s still the quest for revenge by the elusive Elijah, and that’s exactly what we get in this next installment.

We didn’t know much about violet before this story – just that she’s best friends with Honor and a free spirit of sorts since she’s trying to find where she fits in the world.  The twist that we learn though is that there’s really a method to what she’s been doing – and that she’s determined that her brother hadn’t commit suicide years before and that perhaps he’s truly alive.  So that’s her goal in life.

Then there’s Elijah – we know that he’s beyond angry because Eva killed Fitzgerald, and now he’s out to kill Jericho, the other man who’s at the helm of the Euro empire that Fitzgerald was trying to get in on, as well as the fact that Elijah thinks that Jericho is the man behind the death of his wife.  So lots of tension there.

When the plan becomes kidnapping Violet to use as bait to get to Jericho, we see things get dicey.  True to how Ms Ashenden has written all of the female leads so far, we see that they aren’t going to take things sitting down and they all put up a fight.  Violet does exactly that and it’s impressive to see how resourceful she becomes in the hopes of trying to get free.

The other expected bit since we tend to see it in quite a few of these stories is that the captor ends up being so much more than what they seem on the surface and we quickly see a spark of chemistry building between these 2 and that makes things all that more complicated.

It’s not until the Nine Circles figure out where Violet is being held and go after her that things start to get some sense of resolution.  They are all now after the same thing – trying to save Violet all while trying to get to Jericho, and just when we think that it’s all be taken care of, another twist comes up.  (one that i figured out but i usually do – quite early).

In any event, it leaves us in a place in the story where we are surprised and yet frustrated since there are limits to what can be done.  Thankfully there’s one more installment that will hopefully give us the closure that we need since i feel like there are still a few twists to come up that we’re not ready for.

Like i’ve said before though, i’m really impressed with how well these installments are woven together, even though they are about different couples essentially.  The plot is so complete throughout and the way that all of them are connected means that we’re going to see the same themes and lines pulled through.

The other piece that’s great is how we get to see each couple scene together and Violet and Elijah are so hot as well.  We have yet another inexperienced girl in the lead but there’s something about how she allows Elijah to control her and dominate her that’s incredibly hot.  I can’t wait to see how things get resolved – and happily i have the last one already!  Enjoy

Review: You are Mine (Nine Circles #3) by Jackie Ashenden

Title: You Are Mine
Author: Jackie Ashenden
Publisher/Year: St Martin’s Press 10/6/15
Length:   304 Pages
Series:  Nine Circles #3

Overview

He’s master of the game.
Zac Rutherford is one of the most powerful and sought-after men in New York’s private club scene. Masterful and demanding, he attracts beautiful women willing to surrender to his every whim, every desire, and every command. But Zac is in love with one woman, and one woman only. She is his true passion-and sole obsession. A glorious angel in the flesh…who refuses to be touched by any man.

She doesn’t play by the rules.
Eva King owes her life to Zac. Seven years ago, he rescued her from darkness. Still, in spite of her attraction to Zac, she refuses to allow any man to touch her body, let alone her heart. But when a dangerous enemy from Eva’s past reappears, Zac is the only one who can save her-if she’s willing to bare her soul, shed her inhibitions, and surrender control…to him.

My Thoughts

This is yet another great continuation of the story that i’ve become quite engrossed with.  where we had Gabriel/Honor’s story and Alex/Katya, we know that things have to get messy with Zac and Eva.  the duo of the group that has a very interesting relationship and one that we know has so much more potential than what’s been revealed so far.

So where we left off in the series is with Katya/Alex coming back from Monte Carlo with information leading us to believe that it’s not Conrad who was in charge of all that’s bad and evil in the mission, but someone else – yet we don’t know who it is.  We do know that there’s a mercenary named Elijah who’s close to whoever is the ring leader who’s warning them all off from their investigation, but we also know that all these alpha males aren’t scared so easily.

Meaning that it falls into the lap of Eva who’s one of the best hackers out there and Zac who’s got more connections than we can imagine because of his security company and some of the mercenary work that he’d done in a past life.

The journey here is one where we see Zac come to terms with what he’s been doing for the past 7 years – protecting Eva because of what she went through, even though he doesn’t know the full extent.  They met through the fact that she was trying to hack into his computer system and needed to be saved so he did that and they’ve been close ever since.  Because their club doesn’t probe into what makes each person into who they are, no one has a clear sense of what it was, but with the nature of some of the stuff that we’ve uncovered, sex trafficking and the like, we start to put the pieces together to know that perhaps that’s what Eva was going through before she was saved.  The other bit too is that Zac isn’t just alpha, he’s a dom, and while that’s typical with this type of character, we know that he’s in love with Eva and wants to push her to open up even though he knows she’s terrified of all that.

So complicated isn’t even going to cover it.  He gives her tough love throughout the story in the hopes of breaking her open so she can overcome her fears – not just for herself but to help everyone figure out who’s behind the casinos and the murders etc.  She’s the one that can link it all since we learn that it’s likely the same man who held her captive.  When we learn what that link is, and a few twists along the way, we know that there’s potential for their world to be blown up even more.

Where we get the great abilities of our author is not just in the complexity of the story and how well it’s been interwoven between each installment in the series, but the different nature of this romantic/sexual relationship that we see bloom between Zac and Eva.  Each one of our couples has had their own niche – their unique bit to make it special, and this is no exception.  The way that Zac controls and over powers Eva is intense, taking away her ability to do anything aside from just experience and it’s hot.  I know that if it were me, i’d absolutely be into letting someone like Zac do all that stuff.  You even have to feel a bit bad for Eva because regardless of her tough exterior, she really has no chance.

The twist that we have through everything though is Elijah – he’s a wild card since he is employed by the man that they want to take down, yet he seems to be on the side of the Nine Circles.  I really haven’t figured that one out yet and i feel like there’s so much more to that story that we don’t even know.  I have to get into the 4th book since i feel like it’s going to get even dicier knowing that it’s not a nine circles member being drawn in, but the best friend of Honor – who’s got ties to the whole story as well.  So on that note – enjoy and have a great weekend!

Review: Make you Mine (Nine Circles #2) by Jackie Ashenden

Title: Make you Mine
Author: Jackie Ashenden
Publisher/Year: St Martin’s Press 5/5/15
Length:   278 Pages
Series:  Nine Circles #2

Overview

In the Nine Circles Club, one lucky man gets more than his share of money, power, and women—until he meets a beautiful opponent who plays in the name of love…in Make You Mine by Jackie Ashenden.
He’s raising the stakes.
International playboy Alex St. James always plays to win. Whether it’s betting on a high-stakes card game—or bedding a high-class socialite—the gorgeous world-class gambler knows how to beat the odds using his brains, his body, and a whole lot of charm. But there’s one woman who’s immune to Alex’s bag of tricks—which makes her the perfect challenge…and the ultimate prize.
She’s going all in.
Once a special operative in her native Russia, Katya Ivanov knows what kind of man Alex is. As his personal bodyguard, she’s seen him seduce the richest women, place the riskiest bets, and break the hardest players. But to even a score from her past, she’s willing to take a gamble on her reckless boss. Even if she has to pretend to be his lover. Even if he drives her mad with desire. And then she never wants this dangerous game to end…

My Thoughts

I’m really enjoying this series – i think the fact that there’s this bigger story that seems to be woven throughout each installment so far makes it that much more engaging.

So we had the first book with Gabriel and Honor – and we saw how their relationship had the potential to make Gabe’s world explode since Honor is his best friend Alex’s sister – yet we see that maybe it’s ok right?

So in this 2nd book, it’s about Alex, and his quest to find out the link of who Gabriel’s father is since it’s not their stepfather, while fighting demons of his own.  The journey that we go on shows us quite about of what happened to Alex nineteen years ago, and a lot about who he is now and why.

As expected, things get interesting when we learn more about his bodyguard – a woman who appeared in the first book – an attractive Russian woman who was special forces and has the ability to disarm Alex with a look.  You know it’ll inevitably lead to chemistry right?

When Alex has to go to Monaco to play in an exclusive poker tournament that’s run by Conrad – the demon from his past and potentially a link to his father  – we see things get interesting.  There’s clearly more to the game than meets the eye since Alex realizes that it’s not Poker exactly that folks are there for.  They aren’t the best players and there are hints of other things that are of interest outside of cards.

All the while, Katya, his bodyguard and the other guys, Gabriel, Zac and Eva try to uncover the links and information – which still seems elusive even at the end of the story.  What’s not escaping us is the chemistry and tension between Alex and Katya and once they start to scratch the surface – everything erupts.

Katya plays the role of girlfriend and lover when she’s had no experience at all in that.  She learns a lot about herself and is forced to admit to herself why she’s been so stoic and hard through out her entire life – all because of the emotions  that Alex brings out.  What it leads to is uncharted territory for the two of them, and it’s only when one is shot and ends up on the edge of death that things are finally realized.

The great continuation that we are taken with this story is that there’s a video that’s being used as blackmail against Alex and while he uses a facade of not caring, we know there’s more to it than that, and it’s Eva that we learn who may be able to decipher it all.

So true to Jackie Ashenden’s style, we not only get a book with a compelling plot, but one that’s so hot and steamy that you can’t help but to get engrossed in.  The way that she writes the need for control and ownership, dominance etc from Alex is incredibly hot.  The way that we see Katya fight giving up control and letting Alex lead is also really compelling.  I can’t wait to see what’s next since there’s clearly something between Eva and Zac and it has to come out in the next book.  Enjoy!

Review: Mine To Take (Nine Circles #1) by Jackie Ashenden

Title: Mine to Take
Author: Jackie Ashenden
Publisher/Year: St Martin’s Press 11/25/14
Length:   384 Pages
Series:  Nine Circles #1

Overview

First in a brand new series by Jackie Ashenden featuring the members of the Nine Circles Club—friends bound together by power, secrets, need…and the love they will find and stop at nothing to keep.
Passion always comes at a price.
Gabriel Woolf is unstoppable. A ruthless businessman, he has perfected the art of revenge. Ever since his mother’s death, Gabriel has harbored only one wish: To take down the man who ruined their lives. But all bets are off when he meets his father’s step daughter, Honor St. James. Beautiful and innocent, she is everything Gabriel never knew he wanted—and now there’s no turning back…

Is her desire worth the risk?
Honor wasn’t born yesterday. She knows that Gabriel is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, willing to cross any line to get what he wants…herself included. But Gabriel’s passion for Honor—in spite of her connection to the man he hates the most—cannot be denied…and the feeling is utterly mutual. Can Gabriel be trusted? The only thing she knows for sure is how he makes her feel. And she can’t keep herself from coming back to him, over and over again…in Mine to Take.

My Thoughts

As you can tell, lately Jackie Ashenden has become a favorite of mine since i’ve read a bunch of her series (thank you Netgalley for the intro).  So i tracked down this series that’s been around for a while just not on my radar.  And it’s good.

What we have here is the first installment to a new series around the premise of a group of Billionaires that consider themselves more family than just friends, and what brings them together is not just business, but similar backgrounds, pasts that haunt them and a need to do right in the world.

This book takes us on the journey of Gabriel who’s out for vengeance on the man who raped his mother and is therefore his father.  He’s got information leading him to the man, and now he’s going to not only take him down, but make him regret his whole life.  The challenge of course is that the man is his friend Alex’s step father and Alex has a sister who’s tied up in the business that Gabe wants to ruin.  meaning, collateral damage.

The sister – Honor – well she of course makes things more complicated.  We all know from the way that all stories are told is that when there’s a girl in the mix, well you know that there will be manipulation from Gabriel to get what he wants but of course there will be feelings and emotion since she’ll get under his skin – making the end game more compelling.

Honor fights him every step of the way – she wants to save her step father’s business and she wants to save her own business since she’s invested in him.  And when Gabe offers a solution, she’s willing to jump through hoops to secure his investment, even if it means pushing herself to places and points that are uncomfortable.

The way that Ms Ashenden writes this story is really compelling.  (yes i’ve used that word already).  The relationship and dynamic between Honor and Gabe is intense and we see how his need to control takes Honor to places she can’t imagine.  There’s also the challenge of the point that Honor is Alex’s sister and so the secrets that develop making for so much more anxiety.

Where this story takes us is a point of real confusion since there are so many more secrets that we couldn’t even expect – that we couldn’t put together already that even though we get resolution of sorts to things, there are so many more surprises that just carry us to the need to read the next book.  which i’m about to do.

So all in all, lots of great intrigue in the story itself and the sceneing between Gabriel and Honor make the heat and passion leap off the pages.  Definitely a great introduction to the series and i can’t wait to see where we go from there. There are 3 others in the Circle and i know that their stories have to be as exciting.  enjoy!

ARC Review: At His Mercy (Forbidden Lovers #1) by Shelly Bell

Title: At His Mercy
Author: Shelly Bell
Publisher/Year: Grand Central Publishing 6/20/17
Length:   245 Pages
Series:  Forbidden Lovers #1

Overview

Angel in his arms . . . Devil at her heels

One last, no-strings night of indulgence. That’s all Tristan wants before he begins a much-needed new chapter in his life. Instead he finds an innocent angel in pink who brings him to his knees.

Isabella is done hiding from the world . . . and her haunting memories. Discovering courage in the arms of a perfect stranger, she finally lets go and sheds her inhibitions.

To Isabella’s shock, she soon learns that Tristan is more than her mystery man-he’s her professor. But Tristan isn’t the only person who’s found Isabella on campus. A dark figure from her past has come back for her. Now Tristan will risk anything to protect Isabella . . . even if it costs him his life.

My Thoughts

First off i should thank the folks at Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for giving me this ARC to read.  I”m a huge fan of discovering new authors and series and this one is definitely one that i’m intrigued to learn more about.

What we have here is an introduction to the world of Tristan and Isabella – 2 people who’ve had a really tough life so far because of people who they mistakenly trusted and well, now they are both guarded and jaded and really just looking to the end game professionally.  NOT romantically.

The story starts with a view about a year and a half in the past to ground us on what’s driving Isabella’s life.  She was almost killed by her jealous and mentally ill boyfriend and now as she’s trying to put her life back together, we see that it’s taking a few interesting turns.  The first being that she’s finally getting herself to college and the 2nd is her interest in exploring the BDSM lifestyle.

Thankfully for her, she’s got her cousin Dreama there to guide her into the lifestyle and when she’s brought to her first ever play party  – just days before she’s heading to college, she gets a surprise that she wasn’t expecting.  It was supposed to be an opportunity to enjoy a night with no strings and when a connection is made that shocks her to her core, well i think that we know things will get good from there.

Then there’s Tristan, a Dom who’s had a lot of turmoil from women in his life and is absolutely not looking for something more than just a night, and in the group of subs available at the party – not even that is interesting to him.  Until Isabella walks in.

What starts as a night turns into something more when Tristan shows up at Isabella’s college not just as a professor, but as the one that she’s due to be an assistant to.  So – you know sparks will fly.

If that weren’t enough in this story – knowing that you’re going to get some of the most intense scenes because first, she’s being introduced into the lifestyle and those scenes are often amazing but second because there’s so much chemistry between them that regardless of the fact that their situation is ‘forbidden’ – they still try to figure it out.

Add to that the fact that Isabella’s crazy ex may be getting out of his rehab program, and Tristan’s ex is trying to blackmail him again, and you know that there’s a lot of anxiety.  All wrapped up in this story is murder, suicide, multiple attempts on killing folks and well a twist that i sorts of figured out early on but had confirmed towards the end.  It was really nicely written and i can’t wait to see what’s next since i know that we’ll get a story on Ryder (Tristan’s best friend and business partner) or perhaps Dreama – Isabella’s cousin.  On that note – enjoy! and Happy Friday!

Review: The Dangerous Billionaire (The Tate Brothers #1) by Jackie Ashenden

Title: Dangerous Billionaire
Author: Jackie Ashenden
Publisher/Year: St Martin’s Press 5/2/17
Length:   368 Pages
Series:  The Tate Brothers #1

Overview

Money doesn’t always change the man in The Dangerous Billionaire, a new standalone romance from Jackie Ashenden.

Navy SEAL Sullivan “Van” Tate has been called home to reluctantly inherit an empire and finds himself facing the most difficult mission of all: love.

“Sinfully sexy.”–Opal Carew on Mine to Take

Nothing about Sullivan “Van” Tate is what it seems. A Navy SEAL raised among the New York City elite, Van prefers heart-pounding action over a Wall Street corner office. But when his adoptive father dies and his business rivals move in to overtake his empire, Van must suit up to save the company and protect the one woman most forbidden to him…and the object of Van’s most dangerous desires.

Chloe Tate is as ambitious as she is gorgeous. With a newfound independence, Chloe is no longer a prisoner on her father’s ranch. But everything changes when losing her father may also mean losing her life. Even with her survival on the line, Chloe can’t deny the burning attraction she feels the moment she locks eyes with Van, her rich, rough and ready, foster brother and the new head of her father’s company. Tall, dark, and muscled, he’s the one man who she has no business being with. But how can she resist a Navy Seal Warrior when he’ll do anything to protect her?

Money doesn’t always change the man in The Dangerous Billionaire, a new standalone romance from Jackie Ashenden.

Navy SEAL Sullivan “Van” Tate has been called home to reluctantly inherit an empire and finds himself facing the most difficult mission of all: love.

“Sinfully sexy.”–Opal Carew on Mine to Take

Nothing about Sullivan “Van” Tate is what it seems. A Navy SEAL raised among the New York City elite, Van prefers heart-pounding action over a Wall Street corner office. But when his adoptive father dies and his business rivals move in to overtake his empire, Van must suit up to save the company and protect the one woman most forbidden to him…and the object of Van’s most dangerous desires.

Chloe Tate is as ambitious as she is gorgeous. With a newfound independence, Chloe is no longer a prisoner on her father’s ranch. But everything changes when losing her father may also mean losing her life. Even with her survival on the line, Chloe can’t deny the burning attraction she feels the moment she locks eyes with Van, her rich, rough and ready, foster brother and the new head of her father’s company. Tall, dark, and muscled, he’s the one man who she has no business being with. But how can she resist a Navy Seal Warrior when he’ll do anything to protect her?

My Thoughts

This first introduction to our new series is a great one.  We knew of the De Santis family from another of Ms Ashenden’s series and it’s all coming full circle so that we can see how another family is tied to them and it’s interesting.  It’s just following the death of Noah Tate, the patriarch of the Tate family and we’re learning more and more about how he grew his business and what it means for his kids now that he’s died.

This story is really based in trying to understand what this family really is made of since the 3 sons are adopted and there’s one daughter who’s got more secrets that she’s not even in on – than anyone else.  When the sons get letters from the father detailing various things that’s personal to each, we see that there’s shock and awe.  Van is left all of the Tate fortune as he is the heir – left to run the business and the ranch that his sister has come to live on and love.  She’s always thought that the ranch would be hers and when she learns that it’s not the case – things get tricky.

Then there’s the sister Chloe – she’s had it tough.  the only girl in a family of foster sons.  A girl who’s grown up being overly protected since her father’s business brings along enemies.  She’s also got this tough relationship with her father that means that she was constantly let down by him and his broken promises so she’s in a tough place when he dies.

When Van learns the secrets about Chloe that she doesn’t even know, that Noah isn’t her true father be Cesare De Santis is, he’s asked to protect her and keep her alive since we know that Cesare will come after her for all that she’s potentially worth.

The journey of this story is trying to outrun Cesare since he seems very motivated to get to Chloe for reasons not fully known.  We also see that in this story, the childhood crush that Chloe had on Van still lingers, and Van protecting her makes that relationship change into something that could be interesting yet so so bad.

True to the nature of Ms Ashenden, we have a really sweet story of protection since that’s kind of the lingering theme across all her stories.  There’s so much machismo since the brothers are all military, and while 2 of them really don’t seem to thaw even around their sister, it’s Van’s ability to open up that makes is even more interesting.  The way that their relationship shapes and changes is such a natural progression even with the necessary bonehead moves by Van in the midst of things.

We’re left in a place where we know that someone’s going to be broken hearted and perhaps even more threats will be waged.  At least we know that the story continues since Lucas and Wolf have their stories as well.  maybe we’ll learn how Noah died since i think there’s more to the story than we know.  Enjoy!