Review: The Act (The Charade #2) by Stella Gray

Title:The Act
Author:  Stella Gray
Publisher/Year:  Stella Gray 4/13/21
Length:  300 Pages
Series: The Charade #2

Overview

It was always going to end in heartbreak.

You can’t pretend-marry the man you secretly love and escape unscathed.

Ford has never hesitated to ask for my help before, but this is the farthest he’s asked me to go. Not that I ever say no to him.

Even when I know I should.

Sleeping with my husband is the best worst idea possible.

It’s everything I dreamed it would be.

But everything to me is nothing to him.

And he’s not the only one I’ve made promises to.

My Thoughts

This story was never meant to be easy, and as we enter into this second installment, we see that easy is not something that’s even in the back of our minds. When we left the first book, we saw the ultimatum/deal that Ford’s parents put in front of Emzee and she had no choice but to take it. While her own personal feelings, stemming back years and years were leading her down one path, she had no choice but to accept the offer of Ford’s family bailing her own family out, at the compromise of walking away from Ford. Just when she thought there was something real between them.

We’ll remember that there was an unbalanced relationship between these two – Emzee was in love with Ford yet he wasn’t there really. He was always using Em as a fall back and as a safety net of sorts. It’s only when this charade takes hold that he sees her as something more. He came to the realization that he loved her, and just at that point, Emzee had to break his heart.

So the journey that we go on in book two is watching the wedding take place – knowing that emotions became even more complicated. We see them go on a honeymoon in this awkward phase of their relationship where they don’t know how to act with each other anymore. We see them come back to the real world, and watch how Ford won’t allow any concessions to Em in his home and his life. While they have a routine, it’s still clear to Em that she’ll never fit in. His parents make it clear that they wish Ford was still with his ex and his Ex still feels as though she’s the woman for him.

There’s a lot of mis-trust in this story. We watch the insecurities that Em has in herself and her relationship come to fruition when Ford continues to flirt and entertain the advances of Claudia. Refusing to remove things that she put in his apartment in exchange for Em being ale to make her own personal touches. We watch as Ford gets jealous when Em entertains a job prospect by a man who clearly finds her attractive and uses that against her. So you can only imagine that part of this is to amp up the hate sex, but part of it is a power dynamic that no one is willing to allow to shift.

So much continues to be an obstacle for our characters. Em’s family still has to deal with the Russian Mafia and her siblings are all trying to plan for what’s next knowing that they’ll lose the business. They all have game plans and worry that Em won’t have them. That she’l have to rely on Ford but they dont’ realize that the relationship with Ford has an expiration date, so she’s really left playing the part of secure when she’s anything but.

The roller coaster continues – and we watch how there’s an understanding that Ford and Em come to in their relationship. Despite all the forces against them, they admit that they share the same feelings for one another and that they will make things work. It’s no surprise that just as things start to fall into place, something comes up that makes them veer off path. That something is information that Claudia shares that causes Emzee’s world to implode. We’re left at a point where there’s really no coming back from the information and whatever was possible for them is now irrevocably lost. This also means that perhaps the deal that Ford’s parents forced Em into is the best solution for everyone since there’s nothing good that can come to them in the future. I don’t know about anyone else, but these twists and turns lead to such intense dynamic shifts, exciting highs and lows, and great passion. So…..I guess i’ll have to wait for book three some how – and I don’t think i’ll be that patient! Enjoy!

Review: Tied to Him (The Billionaire’s Beck and Call #3) by Delilah Fawkes

Title:Tied To Him
Author:  Delilah Fawkes
Publisher/Year:  Delilah Fawkes 7/13/13
Length:  206 Pages
Series: Billionaire’s Beck and Call #3

Overview

Jackson Pierce is a man with a secret…

Becoming Governor isn’t in the cards for billionaire and former D.A. Jackson Pierce unless he can squelch the unsavory rumors flying around. He’s not ashamed of his bad boy past being a dominant at a BDSM club, but he knows the revelation could ruin his political career before it even begins.

He’s skeptical of his campaign advisor’s idea–find a do-gooder wife to give him a more respectable image–until he meets Rose Turner, a former foster kid working in a local community center. Compassionate, feisty and passionate about helping troubled youth, she’s perfect for his needs. But as they get to know one another, his feelings for her grow all too real.

Rose Turner can’t take another heartbreak, not after being abandoned by everyone she ever loved. When she accepts Jackson’s proposal, she vows to keep her distance, but the more she gets to know him, the more she wants to let him in. But trust doesn’t come easy–if he wants it, he’ll have to earn it.

As the two draw closer, threats roll in: if Jackson doesn’t flip on education reform, a blackmailer will expose the fake marriage, ruining his career and tarnishing Rose’s reputation. But if he gives in, funding for the community center will be cut, and Rose’s kids will lose it all. With everything on the line, he must make an impossible decision as the clock runs down.

What’s a man of principle to do when everything he believes in falls apart?

My Thoughts

It’s nice to see how this series progresses, and it’s even better to see Max’s older brother Jackson coming into his own here. We learned in the last installment that there was a bit of a divide with the brothers from growing up, with Max assuming that Jackson took a role in the family outside the business out of spite, but it’s nice to see that it was instead a desire to follow his own passions. We knew of his political aspirations, so it’s great to see that at the forefront of this third book.

At the onset of this book, we learn that Jackson ha the same kinky tastes as Max and Chase, but that he’s chosen to put those in the past for the most part as he’s on his quest to be Governor. The issue that he’s facing now is that he’s learned through his campaign advisor that a woman that he ‘played with’ in the past as a BDSM club is now claiming that it was something more sordid than all that, and it’s going to compromise his campaign. What they decide is that he needs a bride who’s on the up and up to offset those rumors when they come out.

Enter our leading lady Rose – a woman who volunteers with homeless children, making them dinner each week because she knows first hand that sometimes the meals they get at school or the shelter are the only meals they get. She has been through the foster system herself and knows what it’s like to have few options and to finally find someone who cares for her in the way a child needs it.

When Jacks sees her in action, he realizes that she’s perfect for what his advisor thinks he needs, and now he has to convince Rose that she can take the offer of a lifetime – $5Million dollars for a year of her time and a marriage.

The journey that our story goes on from here is a sweet one. We see that she’s willing to ‘sell herself’ because she knows what she can provide for all those kids. She’s willing to set aside part of herself also because Jackson is attractive, powerful and he seems genuine. All the platforms that he talks about in his speeches align to what she wants to do to improve the quality of life for the kids she sees every day and that alone is enough to buy her time.

Jackson wakes up something inside Rose that’s intense. He treats her the way that she deserves and yet she struggles to accept it. They go on dates that mean something to her and they spend time that brings deeper parts of themselves out in the most genuine and sweet ways. All while teasing out the passion and chemistry that they have on such a dominant and powerful way. When they learn at their wedding that someone wants to out their secret behind the relationship and the wedding, we see the story take a turn for the worse.

Jackson enlists the help of Max and Chase and their wives to try to suss out who’s behind the blackmailing. Rose and Jackson go on their honeymoon and try to enjoy what their relationship has turned into, something that actually feels real to both of them, but there’s the undertone that everything will crumble. The threat from the blackmailer is that Jackson needs to change his campaign promises and give up a lot of what Rose believes in him in order to keep the lies quiet.

I’m sure that all the readers know who the blackmailer is, but in the story, the characters can’t quite sniff it out. They search in the office of the opposing candidate and come up empty. They sniff out Jacks’ office and come up empty. They have no idea who is behind it all, yet the threats keep on coming.

When Jackson realizes that he’ll have to do what the blackmailer wants in order to protect Rose as he’s realized and admitted to himself that he loves her, his plan backfires. She loses respect for how quickly he walks away from his beliefs…..and we see the story take a sad turn.

It’s a race to find out who’s behind the threats, while Jackson also has to figure out how to win Rose back. How to remind her that he’s a man worthy of her respect and her trust.

Similar to how all the other stories played out in this series, we see dynamic highs and lows, we see anxiety and we see romance. Tears, love, and heat….all wrapped up nicely in a bow. I’m sad that there are no other characters to take on this journey, but at least we got three books out of it. Enjoy!

Review: Bound To Him (The Billionaire’s Beck and Call #2) by Delilah Fawkes

Title:Bound To Him
Author:  Delilah Fawkes
Publisher/Year:  Delilah Fawkes 7/13/13
Length:  206 Pages
Series: Billionaire’s Beck and Call #2

Overview

Sometimes you have to make a deal with the devil…

Isabeau is happier than ever, loving and living with Chase Drake, her husband and dominant master. But when her younger sister, Lucy, shows up at her doorstep, she knows trouble is on the horizon.

Their brother Alex is in deep again with a bad crowd, but this time, Lucy doesn’t have the money to bail him out. Alex’s life is on the line if he doesn’t pay soon, but since he’s in jail, it’s up to the sisters to come to his rescue.

When Chase Drake’s old friend and fellow dom, Maxwell Pierce, comes to visit, he is instantly enchanted by the beautiful, fiery Lucy Willcox. When he overhears her confessing to Isabeau that she needs money in a hurry, he offers her a job on the spot, as his personal assistant.

He’d come to Chase for a recommendation, because his personal assistants have duties that are… quite unusual. If Lucy takes the job, she’ll be at his beck and call, 24/7, bound to him, and all that the job requires. But with her brother’s life in jeopardy, threatened by a dangerous mobster, she’s desperate enough to sign his contract, no matter what the small print says.

What Lucy doesn’t expect is that she’ll enjoy it… and that saving her brother may mean putting everything on the line, including her heart. 

My Thoughts

Well, we got an interesting start to this series. watching Isa and Chase begin an unconventional relationship both in the office and out. When their relationship ends in the first book at a proposal, it’s lovely to see that they may get their happily ever after. Little does Isa know, her past and family are going to come around and rise up in her life in an unexpected way, and the journey that we watch unfold is a bit similar to book 1, yet with a far darker twist.

It’s on the night of a small dinner get together when a friend of Chase’s comes over – Max – an equally handsome and sexy powerful man, yet one who’s unattached at the moment as he shares similar interests that Chase does. When the door bell rings and the expectation is that it’s Max a tad early for dinner, we’re surprised to see Lucy, Isa’s younger sister coming in hysterics. The reason we learn is that their brother has gotten himself into trouble that even Lucy can’t fix. Ever since Isa moved out to take care of their grandmother, Lucy has been trying to keep their brother out of trouble, or clean up his messes when he gets into trouble often, but this time he’s gone too far.

We watch how Lucy is in a fragile moment, Isa comes in and tries to ease her misery. We watch how Chase wants to protect his new family, and how there’s an instant connection between Lucy and Max. She doesn’t know what he has to offer, but they both feel a spark when they first look at each other. Lucy’s looking for a job to help pay off their brother’s debts, and instead of just Chase jumping to find a solve, Max offers a reprieve, however unconventional it may be.

The path this story takes us down is quite expected from this point forward. We have an innocent who knows nothing of bondage and doms, but she knows sexual attraction and is willing to do what she needs in order to save her brother. The consequences of this agreement, Lucy agreeing to be Max’s assistant means that he’s going to show her the world, tangibly, physically, emotionally. And that’s what she needs even if she doesn’t realize it yet.

When it seems like things are going well and that Lucy will be able to dig them out of the hole that Alex has gotten them into, tragedy strikes and Alex is beaten to an inch of his life in prison. All because the man that he conned felt that he was due more money and retribution faster than anyone could provide it.

Lucy jumps to work on a solution, and Max is by her side the entire time. They confront the powerful man and his gang that have traumatized Alex, and confront him with a payoff or a trade to get Alex’s safety. Of course, Isa and Chase are not far behind and they devise a plan of their own, without cluing in Lucy and that means we’re about to experience fireworks in a bad way.

Drag races, Gang beatings, cons, death on the horizon, and perhaps some FBI like objects all come to a head when we get to the peak of where this story goes. There’s no lack of excitement here, but there’s also a point when we realize that passions are higher as well than had previously been expected. How this story ends isn’t uncommon or surprising, but elements of the story make for a quick and exciting read. I’m really intrigued where a book three can go, given that this one seemed to tie up a bunch of loose ends, even from book one. So, that means that I have to jump into the next one and see where we go. Maybe there’s someone that we’ve yet to meet that needs to experience a bit of sexy control. Enjoy!

Review: The Billionaire’s Beck and Call (The Billionaire’s Beck and Call #1) by Delilah Fawkes

Title: The Billionaire’s Beck and Call
Author:  Delilah Fawkes
Publisher/Year:  Delilah Fawkes 1/4/13
Length:  198 Pages
Series: Billionaire’s Beck and Call #1

Overview

Isabeau Willcox is just the temp at the front desk, so when the mysterious, sexy and notoriously ill-tempered CEO, Chase Drake asks her to be his executive assistant, she’s sure there’s been some sort of mistake. However, Mr. Drake wants her, and Mr. Drake always gets what he wants. 

When she enters his employ, she agrees to be at his beck and call, to be his, but what exactly does that entail? When he punishes her for breaking his rules by bending her over his desk, she realizes she may be in for more than she bargained for. 

Isabeau is introduced into Chase Drake’s world, learning about his darker side, including his secret sex dungeon and deliciously naughty toys that spark her imagination and make her knees weak. He shackles her and makes her his slave, bringing her to heights she never imagined. But when he asks to make their arrangement more permanent, she remembers how quickly he’s dismissed previous assistants, and wonders if she can give him the trust he craves. 

A bad boy business partner, a dangerous secret, and Isabeau’s conflicted heart threaten to end it all before it’s even begun. Suspenseful action and a romance that will leave your heart, and other places, aching for more weave throughout this story of two different lovers from two very different worlds. 

My Thoughts

What we have here is what i’d consider an intro level D/s story – which scratches the surface of what we need to itch, without really getting too deep. We start off this story with Isa, our leading lady, as she’s temping at the office of a very demanding billionaire named Chase. He’s got an reputation, but she’s willing to see past those rumors in the hopes that there’s something more.

It’s on that first day working that there’s a spark between them, she brings out his Dom side which makes him very uncomfortable because he sees her as more than other women, as something more precious and he’s afraid to tarnish that. Isa though feels compelled to push him, to get a reaction out of him because Chase is able to wake something up in her that she’s never felt before and she needs that more than ever these days.

We spend the bulk of this story watching Mr Drake bring out the darker side of Isa, take her to levels of pleasure that she’s never known or experienced before, all while showering her with the luxuries that he’s used to because he wants her in his world. While doing that, she’s introduced to his family and a few others in his circle, one of whom is Lex Smith, his business partner. The way that he is around her gives off a vibe that makes her uncomfortable and we get to see how that plays out when Lex does things that are capable of ruining the business. He tries to get Isa to choose him over Chase, and he tries to steer her in the wrong direction, but we get entertained in watching how that plays out.

There’s a chase, embezzlement, heartbreak and a ‘red room of pain’ in this first installment that draws us in quickly to bring this first book to a close. We’re taken on a path that you wouldn’t expect, and it’s a fairly fast journey from what we usually see in D/s stories, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not as enjoyable anyway. For those that like a lighter dom story – enjoy this one!

Review: When He’s Wild (Walker Security: Adrian’s Trilogy #3) by Lisa Renee Jones

Title: When He’s Wild
Author:  Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher/Year:  Lisa Renee Jones 3/21/21
Length:  248 Pages
Series: Walker Security: Adrian’s Trilogy #3

Overview

The third and final book in a Walker Security trilogy featuring Adrian Mack…He was dirty, then he was bad, now he’s just plain wild. Like all the men of Walker Security, when he fell for his woman, he fell hard. Some might call his love for Priscilla a weakness, but you might as well call her a weapon.You hurt her, vengeance is coming and his name is Adrian.

My Thoughts

I was waiting long and hard for this final installment in Adrian’s story, knowing that there was so much uncertainty going on in both his life and Pri’s life. To quickly run back through the series, Pri’s the ADA who’s prosecuting Nick Waters, the king of the Devils, a motorcycle gang that killed, trafficked, raped etc etc. He’s in jail now, and Adrian is the star witness as he was undercover in the gag as part of an FBI sting. Pri’s slowly learning that more and more people that are close to her are ‘in bed’ with Waters, and that means that no one’s safe, and everyone has something to lose.

Adrian and Pri got closer than they should have, forming not just a physical relationship as a means to cope with what they’re going through, but there’s a deep emotional connection that’s blossoming as well. The challenge is that Adrian feels that his secrets will drive her away, and he uses that as a means to push her as far from him as possible. Lucky for us, she’s a bit stubborn and knows what his game is, and we watch how this plays out.

We start this third installment with Pri meeting her parents with the hopes of getting them under Walker protection and fleeing the country for their safety. Walker’s crew is outside the restaurant keeping tabs on her, while a few are inside as well to be close. When it’s Logan, Pris’ ex that shows up instead, we know that this isn’t going to end well. Logan threatens her again if she doesn’t drop the case, and then tries to rape her, when Pri uses the good advice that Adrian gave and shoots Logan in the foot.

From there, we’re on the run again, heading to New York now, the home of Walker. It’s a roller coaster knowing that theres a premium hit on both of them, and that means that no one is safe. We don’t know when someone’s going to come after them, and we can only hope that they have enough time to see the trial come to fruition. Of course, that never happens, and Waters is freed from jail…and that means that all bets are off.

We know that Pri wants to have the right thing happen, with Waters going to jail for good, but we also know that route means that they’ll never be safe since Waters has long reaching arms. Adrian wants him dead and that’s the road that we’re afraid to go down. On the other hand, Deleon, Water’s right hand man is still on the loose after he some how escaped from book 1’s shooting and he’ll continue to come after Adrian and Pri.

The roller coaster continues here, with Adrian doing his best to push Pri from his home, and it’s funny to watch Savage come into play in this story with his words of wisdom. We saw how Savage’s own life and relationship was overly complicated so we can only hope that his voice of reason is enough to get Adrian’s head on straight before it’s too late and more people die. It’s exciting, there are faked deaths and fights to the death, and how this ends up, and at who’s own hand is anyone’s guess. I hope you guys check this series out and enjoy!

Review: Insatiable by Opal Carew

TitleInsatiable
Author: Opal Carew
Publisher/Year:  St Martins Press 2/14/12
Length:  288 Pages

Overview

A tantalizing new erotic romance from author Opal Carew that dares to ask:

How far would you go for a taste of ecstasy?

Crystal never dreamed her engagement would end this way. With her fiancé breaking her heart the day of the wedding…and his best man stepping in to mend it. Now she’s about to embark on her dream honeymoon with the sinfully sexy best man. But when the groom shows up determined to win her back, she ends up in a highly unusual situation…on a honeymoon for three. Caught between two gorgeous guys—each determined win her hand by showing her the most pleasure—Crystal has an impossible decision to make. Who will she end up with once the honeymoon is over? And how can she follow her heart when it belongs to two men at once?

My Thoughts

I’m usually a fan of Opal Carew so it was nice to discover a book from years and years ago that I hadn’t read. While the summary teases a bit of what we’re to expect, There’s so much more to this story than meets the eye.

Yes, we’re introduced to Crystal on the day of her wedding, she’s getting ready for the big ceremony and all the fanfare that lies ahead. Her fiance’s best friend Evan comes by to calm her nerves a bit and to share a little bit of what he’s been feeling for years. This is something that the summary doesn’t share. Evan’s been in love with Crystal for a long time and while he knows that she’s going to marry his best friend, he owes it to himself and to her to share how he feels in case that has an impact on her decision to go through with the wedding. So of course, it’s that moment, when Evan admits his feelings to Crystal and they ’embrace’ – that’s when Brent sees them and decides that he can’t go through with the wedding. Crystal is left at the altar, and Evan swoops in to help get her away from it all.

This leads to an afternoon of passion that neither expected, and as a result, to a honeymoon trip filled with all sorts of heat and chemistry. They realize that maybe there is something to explore and that’s where our story takes us – on that journey, watching as they learn about each other more and more, see how they are beyond physically connected and able to give the other what they need. until brent shows up.

You’d imagine that this would be a tough situation right? Crystal now has to choose between her fiance and someone that she may have stronger feelings for, and instead of forcing a choice right then and there, we watch the beginnings of a threesome develop, as they vie for her attention, and realize that sharing a woman plays right into a fantasy that these guys have had for ages.

We see this get naughtier and naughtier as the pages go on. There’s an introduction of a sexy neighbor that’s down the lane from them who brings out things in Crystal that she never knew were there. It inspires passions amongst everyone that this book ups the ante with steam.

Add to that a complete new couple making this a group thing rather than just a threesome, and then there’s the notion that there’s interest from Brent to Evan, something that he never realized or explored, but we watch how these men also explore what’s possible with each other.

So, in my opinion, this story is less about the relationship and more about the group sex and kink that they get into, but what’s my opinion here right? We do know that there’s a choice to be made at the end of all this, if it’s Brent or Evan and Evan knows that it’s going to be Brent, even if he did leave Crystal at the altar. He just knows that he’s not willing to go out without a fight, and that’s where we’re finding the ending of this story. A choice to be made, an interesting turn of events, and some very very sexy times had by all. Enjoy!

Review: A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses #4) by Sarah J Maas

Title: A Court of Silver Flames
Author:  Sarah J Maas
Publisher/Year:  Bloomsbury USA 2/16/21
Length:  768 Pages
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Overview

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other. 

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

My Thoughts

I’ll have to be a bit honest at first here and say that I had to wrack my brain to get caught up to where we left off since it’s been quite some time since we’ve last been in this world. The War with King Hybern left a jarring memory in my brain, and remembering what happened to Elain and Nesta at the end of it all made me wonder what the future could hold. Elain, the beautiful perfect and delicate sister was taken against her wishes, put into the couldron and Made into something immortal. Nesta followed after her and took everything that she could from the Coulderon as a way to get her revenge out. What happened after though, you’ll all remember is that Nesta couldn’t deal with her pain, with her guilt and with her hatred of herself and that took her down an awful spiral.

We’re now a year or so past the war and Nesta is no better off. She’s a shell of a person, empty and all she does is spend Feyre’s money on booze and men. She’s rude to everyone who makes an effort to be around her that they are forced to give an ultimatum. either fall in line and train with Cassian, get some structure and figure out how to harness her power, or go back to the human lands where she won’t be accepted. It’s really no choice, so she finds herself training with Cassian in the morning and working in the library for the rest of the day.

It’s interesting to see how long it takes to break Nesta down in this story – frankly, I don’t know that we ever really see her break down her walls, but we see her find some purpose in her life. Figure out what’s a bigger goal and to go there. She makes friends with a priestess in the library named Gwyn who starts to play a big role as well as another Illaryian named Emerie. The notion that she’s able to make ‘friends’ makes everyone have hope that she’s going to come around, but even that is a wish that may never come true.

The undertone throughout this 4th installment is that there’s still unrest in the world. While The King of Hybern is dead, the human queens are not united as they should be ever since one went into the Cauldron and lost her beauty to become eternally old. She’s hungry for the power to get her beauty back and that means that we’re about to see the world turned upside down.

Throughout this book, we learn about things older than anyone, Amren even has a hard time remembering the full history. We’re taught about the Dread Trove, a collection of items that were so dark and evil that they have wards to hide and protect them, they have the ability to raise the dead and make people do their bidding. In the wrong hands, that means that the world that they know will be completely destroyed. The queen who’s looking for her youth wants the Trove as she’s made a deal with one of the oldest evil immortals who has his own motivation as well to get released from his prison.

So, we watch the journey as the one human Queen gets a hold of the Crown which is able to control the minds of anyone who’s within reach. That leave a Mask which is able to raise the dead and a Harp which is able to open wards and pass through time. Nesta’s ability to scry which helped them find the Couldron in the last installment means that she’s ripe for the asking to find the Dread Trove. She’s of course not willing to help anyone, especially seeing how the past turned out when she tried to help and her loved ones died or changed form. She objects strongly, and that means that Elain offers herself to do it. That’s what finally gets Nesta to agree to go on the hunt. She trains to become a warrior, to strengthen her mind body and soul, and at the same time, with her friends, they bring back the Valkryies – a female warrior unit that was stronger than many men back thousands of years ago and died off in a war that was a set up.

In addition to that storyline, we have another where Feyre and Rhys are expecting their first child, just as the Bone Carver told them from his visions. The Challenge here is that she fell pregnant when she was in Illaryian form during the war when she was able to shift her shape (thank all the High Lords who gave her powers when she was about to die in book #1). It’s a blessing and everyone’s beyond happy that she’s pregnant and then they learn that because of the form that she was in, the baby is due to have wings. An exciting time for the Illaryian’s but Feyre is now in her Fae form and her body won’t survive a birth of a child with wings. They keep this from her of course, and we watch the journey throughout the story to see if they’re able to keep Feyre alive.

I’ll admit that the first few chapters were a bit draggy for me – it took me a few minutes to get back into it even though I LOVE this series. The characters all have their deep and interesting stories that lead us on so many crazy adventures that we don’t know necessarily what we’re going to get. Some are older than others, some have other forms that were taken from them in the last war. And some really don’t know what to do with the life that they have now.

Elain has found herself mated to someone that she’s got adverse feelings towards, and we see hints of something perhaps between her and Az. Azriel is one of the main characters that we’d do anything to see happy and when it seemed as though there was something more between them at Winter Solstice. Maybe that will come in the next book since we know that there’s a continuing story here.

We have the battles of good and evil in this forth book. We have the notion that everything is NOT what it seems and you never know who you can trust even if you make allies. We also see that there’s redemption for even the worst offenders. We see that there’s transition in life and when you’ve had some of your greatest horrors take away your very breath, there are people out there who care enough to lift you up, support you and never leave you behind. And there’s love. That’s likely the most important of all and perhaps the one thing that we see carry us through this vicious forth installment.

Now I don’t know about any other reader, but I know for myself that i’d love more than anything to get book five sooner rather than later. It’s been years since we had the last one and I think i’ll scream and wither away if we have to wait that long again. On that note – ENJOY!

Review: The Lie (The Charade #1) by Stella Gray

Title: The Lie
Author:  Stella Gray
Publisher/Year:  Stella Gray 2/23/21
Length:  390 Pages
Series: The Charade #1

Overview

The world knows Ford Malone as the heir to a real estate fortune. 

But to me he’ll always be my best friend.
The guy who saved me from my bullies back in school.
The man I’ve secretly loved for years.

When he needs me to be his plus one at a family event, I agree without hesitation.

Imagine my surprise when he announces our engagement.

As usual, I’ll play along.

Nothing has to change except the way we behave—the way we touch—in public.

But his private touches change everything.

Soon the crush I’ve hidden for so long is threatening to swallow me whole.

If I tell him how I feel, it could ruin our friendship forever.

But if I don’t, the lie will ruin me instead.

My Thoughts

I’ve enjoyed every other series of the Zoric family and I think that we all were waiting to see how Emzee’s story would play out. We know her as the youngest – the little sister to Stefan and Luka, and we watched how the elder siblings entered into marriages based on contracts and not on love, only to have them turn into more than they ever could have imagined. Each story being more complicated than the last, but we see now that they are all happy, and expecting children of their own.

So fast forward now to Emzee. She’s always been a bit different than her siblings – really a bit goth, a bit of a loner. She’s marched to her own tune, and now that she’s trying to find her footing in the world that her father left in shambles, she’s managed to build a great charity, grow her friendships with her sister in laws, and try to stand on her own two feet. She’s even managed to keep her best friend from High School in her life – and that friend is Ford Malone. The boy who helped keep the bullies away from her when rumors spread as a teen, and now they have this type of friendship that outlasts relationships and trauma of life.

We find ourselves in an interesting situation, where Emzee is at a family event for Ford, his mother’s birthday party and while she’s maneuvering her way around the event raising money for her charity, she quickly finds herself in the crosshairs when Ford’s mother continues to hound him about getting married to his new ex-Claudia and Ford pulls her into the mix. In the form of his ‘girlfriend’.

Yup – so that’s the path this story takes – watching yet another fake relationship come to the forefront. Ford needs his mom off his case and he knows that Em will do anything for him. She’s never said no, and it’s because she’s had a crush on him from day one and he knows it. Emzee always thought she was good about hiding it but nope!

The journey from there out is one where we watch this lie take all sorts of forms. Ford needs Emzee to do all the girlfriend type things, and she needs to do her best not to lose her heart in the process. It becomes harder and harder when there are so many conflicting moments between them. Ford brings Emzee to all these events to play the dutiful girlfriend and then he muddies the water with moments of romance and sensuality. Emzee thinks that at times there’s more and then he does something or says something to remind her that she’s nothing more than a pawn.

The challenge with a lie is that something will either push the lie into becoming true, or something will happen to make everyone get hurt. We watch how both happen simultaneously. There are moments when we believe that both are leaning to each other – that emotions are becoming real, that connections are real, and then the rug is pulled out from under them when secrets come out. The hiccup in all this is that now the relationship has turned into an engagement, and yet another contract marriage is born – where they are going to stay together for a year in order to get Ford’s family off his back,……but what we have come to realize is that the other shoe is going to drop with even more secrets.

Those secrets being another underlying plot line that is a result of what the Zoric’s father did with the family business. You’ll remember in the previous series, we watched how the family learned that their father was involved in trafficking the models and now that the agency has gone clean, apparently there are people who are not thrilled with the lost revenue. Namely the Russian Mafia. They’re after the family for money and the Zoric’s don’t really have that kind of cash laying around.

When Ford’s family somehow learns about the mafia being after Emzee’s family, a deal is put on the table which turns the entire trajectory of our story on it’s head. All the hope that we had for the future is now dashed, and what that means is that there are too many players involved for any type of positive outcome. Now sadly we have to wait 2 more months for book 2 to come out and we’ve literally been left on a ledge that needs pulling back from and I have to wait it out. So….on that note…i’ll find something else to ease my anxiety for the meantime and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Emzee, her family and for Ford. enjoy!

Review: My Beautiful Sin (Fallen Saint #2) by J Kenner

Title: My Beautiful Sin
Author:  J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  Martini & Olive 1/26/21
Length:  372 Pages
Series: Fallen Saint #2

Overview

Everything Ellie thinks she knows is about to change.

Despite his dangerous past, billionaire Devlin Saint finally has Ellie Holmes in his life—and in his bed. Yet shadows still cling to Saint, obscuring his dark secrets and the confidences he swore never to reveal. 

An investigative reporter, Ellie is certain the man she loves hasn’t told her everything. And when she starts receiving anonymous warnings about Devlin, she vows to investigate. Soon it becomes clear that Devlin isn’t the only one with things to hide, and the more Ellie learns, the more she realizes that loving Devlin is dangerous.

His touch is her sin…

My Thoughts

We spent the first installment of this series watching as Ellie was trying to find the answers to all the questions that changed the trajectory of her life through the death of her parents, her uncle….what ended up sending her down a path of self destruction, especially as the boy that she loved up and left her. Fast forward several years and she’s found him again, although he’s not the same man, he dangerous and he’s got secrets, yet what we saw from them is that they are both willing to accept each other at face value since there’s a once in a lifetime love that’s between them.

Once Ellie came to the self realization that she couldn’t live without Devlin, and that she was willing to accept that he had secrets, that he was dangerous, we also watched her realize that she owed it to herself to find answers. The challenge though is that those answers would likely lead her to uncover information that she wasn’t ready to process and that Devlin really didn’t want her to know. He was willing to let that be the situation, but then he also felt that he owed it to allow Ellie to see every part of him.

What unfolds in this second installment is a story that’s quite the roller coaster for EVERYONE involved. We know that Ellie’s best friend and cop Lamar doesn’t like Devlin and doesn’t trust him. When he’s brought into the circle of trust to learn who Devlin truly is and what he’s done, that really puts pressure on everyone because we don’t know what the fallout will be. We know that as a cop, Lamar is bound by law to do the moral thing, but that would mean hurting Ellie and that’s something that would come at a price.

Along with that story line, we watch Brandy, Ellie’s best friend live her life. We learned about her past and how it’s prompted hesitation with men, how she’s never quite been able to get over being raped and the circumstances that fell afterwards, but we see the thriller author Christopher show patience and caring and we have hopes for the future for them.

That’s Ellie’s side of things – we also get to see how Devlin’s side of the house responds to the budding romance and how they are now so intertwined. We know that Anna has her story with being part of Devlin’s past and how she’s now a safe space with Devlin. No longer a threat to Ellie and we watch how that friendship helps Ellie get to the bottom of all her questions. There are things that Anna seems to be tied to and information that she has about Devlin’s past that make her uncomfortable, but how that plays out is anyone’s guess.

Then there’s Ronan – the guy that rubs Ellie the wrong way on so many levels, and a girl named Reggie that she can’t quite place but feels that she should. Seeing the two of them makes every situation that more uncertain and that’s not good for anyone’s livelihood.

Throughout this book we watch the roller coaster that is Ellie and Devlin’s relationship. We watch them fight tooth and nail to get answers and find their way to be happy together but we also watch them self destruct and do whatever they can to push each other away. There’s someone who’s trying to scare Ellie away from Devlin we think, threatening her with the notion that he’s not sharing everything with her and while she knows he isn’t, she’s not plussed by it. But when someone tries to kill her, several times, there are more questions than answers behind who’s doing what. Add to that a data breach from Devlin’s company and everyone’s on edge.

Unexpected information is uncovered, and paths that we thought would lead to answers lead to more questions. Everyone that we thought was on the right side isn’t and those that we were willing to forgive their sins were potentially not worth it. At least we have heat and passion between some of our couples to help glue this story together and where we net out at the end of this second book is a place that we hoped we’d never get to. When too many of the wrong secrets are revealed to the wrong people, we know that NOTHING good can come out of it. I’m worried for what this means for everyone and who’s going to survive the rest of the story. So on that note, we have to wait until May I believe before we see the resolution and I don’t know how i’ll wait. Enjoy!

Review: Destroyed With You (Start Security #5) by J Kenner

Title: Destroyed with You
Author:  J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  Martini & Olive 12/15/20
Length:  334 Pages
Series: Stark Security #5

Overview

Former sheriff Winston Starr doesn’t think about the past. That dark day when he lost the sweet, innocent woman he’d loved, dead because of his mistake in a mission that had gone horribly wrong.

Now an operative with Stark Security, he’s left Texas behind, focusing only on his work and closing his heart to love even as his soul screams for revenge against the scum that killed his Linda. When old friends reveal new evidence, Winston learns that not only is Linda alive, she faked her death in the ultimate betrayal.

But things are not as Winston believes, and he soon finds himself on the run with the woman who ripped his heart out. Now, the only thing stronger than his rage is his desire for the woman who destroyed him.

My Thoughts

We loved Winston for all that he did for Emma in the past when they knew each other and we now that his past is haunted. There are things that he’ll share and parts of himself that he’ll keep closed off because he’s lost too much in his life – as is the case it seems with everyone who’s in the SSA world. We know that he went under cover for SOC to take down the Consortium and in doing that he lost his wife. Linda was killed in a car bomb and that broke him more than he could have ever fathomed.

So fast forward a few years when Winston gets a call from his old boss at SOC with some interesting information. Linda isn’t dead – and she’s actually an assassin. This means that everything that Winston though he knew about life and her was a lie, and while he didn’t reveal who he truly was to her, he eels that her lies betray even more.

This story takes us on the journey that Winston takes to not only find the truth but to give himself some sort of resolution and closure to what he considers to be one of his biggest mistakes ever.

What they both come to find is that nothing is what it seems. They both believe that they are working assignments for the good guy but quickly learn that perhaps no one is good -everyone is dirty and can be bought for the right price. They go on the run to find answers, knowing that it means they’l have to spend time together and hopefully reveal the truth of what their pasts truly was and figure out what that means for their future.

They played each other in the past and they play each other now still. There’s a huge question of who’s going to get hurt in the crossfire and who’s going to come and save them. Because the first part of the assignment takes them to Texas, we see Noah come back into the mix a bit. The tech whiz who haw more tricks up his sleeve than any one else out there. We also know that Emma will play a role here again as well since she was close with Winston over the years and even knew Linda.

They go from Texas to LA, and are forced to kill, lie, cheat and break into a vault all in the hopes of getting answers. We all know where this is going to end up, but what we get in the meantime Is a story of fact finding and finding a path back. I think that it’s really sweet how they slowly let their walls down but still have so much fear of what the other can do to hurt them again. There’s a chemistry that’s undeniable between them and while it’s just for this assignment that they agree to let things play out, it at least come out in a hot and steamy manner.

And in true J Kenner form, we have an intro to our new leading couple for the next book – Reny a new agent for SSA and Abby who’s Nikki’s partner for her tech firm. So all that in hand, i’m excited for the next installment of this series. Enjoy!