Review: Ravaged With You (Stark Security #7) by J Kenner

TitleRavaged With You
Author:  J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  Martini & Olive 9/7/21
Length:  324 Pages
Series: Stark Security #7

Overview

Retired from the military and finally free of the demons of past missions, former Special Forces soldier Charlie “Red” Cooper leads a blissfully calm life running his successful distillery. At least until the day he finds his partner and best friend drowned in one of their best barrels of whiskey. Now he must dredge up old skills and memories to not only avenge his friend’s death, but to protect the one woman who has always made his pulse race-his friend’s grieving widow.

Shocked by her husband’s death, Josephine Swift should be mourning, but instead she’s terrified and…pissed. Turns out the husband she’d fallen out of love with was into some seriously bad business. Even worse, he’s dragged her and his partner into his web of deceit and danger. Now his mistakes could get them both killed.

Jo is glad to have the benefit of Red’s skills to keep them safe. She shouldn’t be interested in him-especially not now-but there’s no denying the white-hot attraction that smolders between them. Red’s far too honorable to sully his best friend’s memory by giving in to his desire for Jo. But when their lives hang in the balance, all bets are off. And as the depth of their passion grows, Jo dares to hope for a future. First, though, they have to survive…

Charismatic. Dangerous. Sexy as hell.

My Thoughts

Here we are in book seven of this series – and it’s really nice to see the new members of the team that we get introduced to in each installment. Last time we got to see Renly’s story and now it’s time for his twin brother Red’s saga.

This story takes us on a twisted path that we should have figured out at the very beginning yet the way that the story is told, it’s round about and we don’t figure it out as a reader until about 2/3 of the way through. (at least that was me).

So, to take a step back, Red is our leading guy in this story – he was part of the Special Forces and has had quite a bit of trauma coming out of it. We know that he’s got these tells of sorts of things that trigger him, but we don’t really know the full back story. Then there’s Josephine (Jo) – she’s our leading lady. Red, Jo and her husband were all fast friends back in college and that carried over to their adult life. They opened the whiskey distillery together and that’s where our story takes it’s dark turn.

Red received a text to meet his partner at the distillery and when Red gets there, he discovers that things are not as they should be. Alerts and alarms have been turned off and the worst thing imaginable, he finds his friend, face down, dead in one of the vats.

The story from here on out follows several paths. The first is trying to find out what Mitch had gotten himself into and what that means for Red and Jo. The people who murdered Mitch quickly get in contact with Red and tell him that they know there’s a package stolen and if he and Jo don’t find it quickly, then people will slowly die.

The next path is the one with Jo and Red. What we learn throughout this story is that not only were these guys all the best of friends, there was chemistry between Jo and Red before she even got with her husband. There was a moment one night that Red forced an end to and that left them both wondering, but also made Red realize that he couldn’t have the one perfect thing in his life since he had his own demons.

We know that any person who goes to work for Stark has a haunted past and it’ll be a process to dig under the skin and figure out what are the triggers and how to get past. Red is exactly following that same situation and it’s nice that he’s got someone like Jo that can read him and a twin in Renly that cares so much.

The story takes us on flashes of the past, but uncertainties of the present. Every step that Red and Jo make is met with someone trying to do them harm, in the hopes that it’ll get the result that they’re looking for. Stolen goods. Each time that Stark believes they have the upper hand, something goes wrong.

We see people come back from the presumed dead, we see lies and mysteries revealed meaning that we never really knew the people that we thought we knew, There’s a kidnapping, several deaths, a few breakthroughs and an ending that was unexpected, but appropriate none the less.

What we got here as well is what our author J Kenner is known for. A tease throughout the book of what’s to come next in the series. There’s a new recruit named Simon that really makes us scratch our heads. He’s referenced from Devlin Saints series (which was really good if you haven’t read it yet) and we know that Devlin was all about trafficking and bringing that industry down. He had his own dark side because of his family ties and that means that Simon has to be complex as well if he was a recommendation. I can’t wait for that one to come out but in the meantime, now I have to find something else to read. Enjoy!

Review: Memories of You (Stark Security #6) by J Kenner

TitleMemories of You
Author:  J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  1001 Dark Nights Press 6/8/21
Length:  111 Pages
Series: Stark Security #6

Overview

Hollywood consultant Renly Cooper is fed up with relationships. His recent breakup with a leading lady played out across the tabloids, and the former Navy Seal is more than ready to focus on his new position as an agent at the elite Stark Security agency. He’s expecting international stakes. Instead, his first assignment is to protect one of Damien Stark’s friends from a stalker. A woman who, to his delight, turns out to be one of his closest childhood friends.

After a foray into online dating puts tech genius Abby Jones in danger, she needs a bodyguard, and her business partner, Nikki Fairchild Stark, enlists help from Stark Security. When the assigned agent turns out to be her best friend from junior high—and her first crush—she’s thrilled to discover he’s even more delicious now. She hopes one sexy night can turn into more, but Renly is firmly in the friends-with-benefits camp.

As the threat to Abby increases, she tries to keep her growing feelings for Renly at bay. But as the sparks between them burn even hotter, can they go from friends to lovers when the first order of business is simply to keep Abby alive?

My Thoughts

I love the Stark Security series and I’m happy to get into book six, even if it’s a novella. I’ll be honest thought, the summary doesn’t 100% match up to how the story plays out, but i’ll forgive that since we get exactly what’s needed in this series.

Abby if you remember is Nikki’s partner in the tech firm and we’ve come to really enjoy her throughout all the stories in the Stark world. She’s proven herself to be a great friend, a great professional and because of all this, she deserves happiness. How that pans out, well, we see some of that in this story.

Then there’s Renly – he’s new to Stark and as the summary suggests, he was a SEAL and then worked in Hollywood. We know that he isn’t a relationship guy so while his last one was ‘in the tabloids’ – it’s really not that serious in the grand scheme of things. The woman is one of the most desired women in hollywood but to him, that really means nothing.

What makes this story great though is the shared past that Abby and Renly had and how that manifests itself into the now.

We quickly learn that they were best friends, inseparable until Renly and his twin Red were moved away in high school and Abby lost her best friend and her crush. Little did she know that the crush she had on Renly was kind of the same that he had on her, yet neither one of them was strong enough to go down that path. I think that it’s for the best when you see how this story shakes out.

They come face to face when Abby is concerned that she’s being stalked but doesn’t know by whom. She gets hang up calls on her mobile and on her direct line at work and there’s never anyone talking. It’s not until she walks back to her car one day and finds it covered by blood (fake blood thankfully) that we see Abby and Stark Security merge. Renly is in the office when he hears Nikki share the news that something happened to Abby and he races out of there with her and Damian. When they get to the ‘crime scene’ – it takes just one second for Abby to realize that it’s Renly in front of her and she launches herself at him.

From this moment forward, we watch how they have such intense chemistry and magnetism that even though they know that they want different things romantically in life, they find themselves circling each other in the hopes to get the friendship back. They reconnect on so many levels and it’s like life was meant to bring them back together. Thankfully Stark Security puts Renly on Abby protection and they are together non-stop until things are sorted.

What happens – a night that they thankfully don’t regret, but one that they know can’t ever happen again since their friendship is far more important than a confusing relationship. That seems to work on the surface for them, until a night that Renly takes Abby as his +1 to a Hollywood wrap party and they run into his ex who forces Abby to stand up for herself and lay claim to Renly in the most carnal way.

Their story takes a change in trajectory but it’s one that works for them. What it also does though is it makes everything that Abby’s stalker does even more personal. And while we don’t know who it is for quite a bit, we have suspicions. He finally comes out in the open, poisons Renly and Abby so that he can get her away, and that means that all bets are off on what it will take to bring her back.

So…the novella is jam packed, and we get to see an evolution of relationships both professionally and personally and there’s a good teaser or intro into the next installment to this story – where we get to see Red’s life take center stage. We do’t know much about him, but we know that he was involved in Damian’s world back when his daughter was kidnapped. So, that means that his story – a full length one I believe will be even more exciting. So….onto the next! Enjoy!

Review: Black Rules (Black Edge #2) by Charlotte Byrd

TitleBlack Rules
Author:  Charlotte Byrd
Publisher/Year:  Byrd Books 10/12/18
Length:  164 Pages
Series: Black Edge #2

Overview

We don’t belong together. 

I should have never seen him again after our first night together. But I crave him. 

I’m addicted to him. He is my dark pleasure. 

Mr. Black is Aiden. Aiden is Mr. Black. Two sides of the same person. 

Aiden is kind and sweet. Mr. Black is demanding and rule-oriented.

When he invites me back to his yacht, I can’t say no. 

Another auction. Another bid. 

I’m supposed to be his. But then everything goes wrong….

My Thoughts

We continue on this weird little merry go round with our characters here – getting teased about a world that we know nothing about and yet wanting to know more. Ellie and Aiden seem to have something that could be real, but there really are a few obstacles in their way. When Aiden invites Ellie and Caroline to another Yacht party – even more questions arise

We start off this second book with Ellie uncertain as to why she’s been invited again and Caroline looking to take full advantage of what she missed out on. Lucky for her, her regrets are short lived since she gets to have a redo.

We know that things can’t go the same way this time around – that would make for a dull and boring story. So what we get at this second party is an interesting situation. Ellie isn’t trying to impress anyone so again she’s in jeans and a shirt. Caroline knows the cocktail hour protocol so she’s looking her best and mingling. She meets everyone and makes an impression and at the same time, Ellie runs into a guy named Blake who made some unnecessary comments to her at the first party. If you remember, he told her that she doesn’t belong there, yet tried to outbid Aiden for a night with her.

Well….he’s just a premonition of what’s to come and we know it can’t be good. We move from the cocktail hour to the pre-auction set up. Caroline and Ellie realize quickly that things aren’t the same as last time. Ellie is the only girl who’s been there before, everyone else is new. The girls are all asked to wear lingerie v. whatever they are comfortable in (remember Ellie wore her dress, while others went full nude). The other strange piece is that instead of seeing the entire audience, there’s a row of mirrors keeping them separate so no one knows who’s bidding on them and that adds for tension. Ellie wasn’t going to participate but she’s told that Aiden really wants her to, so she goes against her gut and does it.

What happens next is very different than the first time around. Ellie raises a bit of money from the auction, not at all like last time, but quickly realizes that it’s not Aiden who’s bid but Blake. the Auctioneer – Lizbeth was uncomfortable starting the auction since Aiden apparently wasn’t there and now we know what happened as a result.

The trajectory of the story is a bad/sad one from here. We know that Blake doesn’t have Ellie’s best interest at heart and Ellie wants nothing to do with him. She only came to the party to be with Aiden and when it’s someone else, she wants out. Blake won’t let that happen, and in turn, Ellie has to fight for her freedom, and Blake gets injured from both Ellie And Aiden who finally comes to her rescue.

There are repercussions to all this of course and we quickly see the impact that it has for Aiden. Blake was the first investor of Aiden’s company and because of this feud, he’s taken his money out and the money of all his friends. Owl is failing, and Aiden doesn’t know how to fix things. Ellie can’t help and that makes the dynamic even harder. We really want some calm time for them to find out what they could be to each other – we know that they’ve both admitted to stronger feelings, but if they aren’t given the chance to cultivate it, then we’ll never know right?

Add to that – Caroline met a decent guy she things from the auction and we watch that relationship evolve- hoping for the best but not really knowing what will happen. We do’t know anything about Taylor so we don’t know if he’s got honest motivations.

There’s also Tom – Ellie’s friend who she used to have a crush on, but who’s also engaged to their boss. They had a falling out if you remember in the first book, and things come to a head even more in this second book. Tom invites Ellie, Caroline and Aiden to his fiance’s family’s house for an engagement party and we really don’t know how this is going to end up.

Aside from all the sexy steamy things that we read about from time to time in here, there’s also the similar undertone from the Tangled series that i see here – a budding writer/author who goes it alone. learns the ropes to self-publishing and tries to make it into something great. I think that it’s lovely that our author Charlotte Byrd is trying to give all of those aspirating authors out there the knowledge and tools to do it themselves and I hope for Ellie that it pans out. On that note, i’m off to book three since i’m really interested in seeing what happens to Owl and what that means for Ellie and Aiden. Enjoy!

Review: Black Edge (Black Edge #1) by Charlotte Byrd

TitleBlack Edge
Author:  Charlotte Byrd
Publisher/Year:  Byrd Books 10/12/18
Length:  184 Pages
Series: Black Edge #1

Overview

I don’t belong here. 

I’m in way over my head. But I have debts to pay. 

They call my name. The spotlight is on. The auction starts. 

Mr. Black is the highest bidder. He’s dark, rich, and powerful. He likes to play games. 

The only rule is there are no rules. 

But it’s just one night. What’s the worst that can happen?

My Thoughts

Who doesn’t like a good story about sex games right? That’s what we get when we dive into things with Ellie and Aiden. This story starts off with our leading ladies enjoying their lives as most girls do – although they have it a bit better than most of the main female characters that we see in these stories. Ellie and her friend and roommate Caroline met while at Yale, and come from families of privilege. They have the means to do what they want, and don’t struggle like most of the characters that we have. Where it does follow suit is that Ellie wants to make her own way – her family’s money is a result of her mom remarrying – and her step father has a bit of wealth which he shares with Ellie. He pays for her apartment, while Ellie insists on paying her student loans.

Her story’s trajectory changes when Caroline gets the invitation that she’s been waiting for. She heard about this exclusive party and has been waiting for an invite to it, and when it comes, both girls end up on a trip of a lifetime. They are taken to this lavish yacht party where they quickly learn that things aren’t what they seem.

Ellie is immediately given a new dress to wear, courtesy of their host Mr Black. Then they mingle and meet all these young eligible bachelors, where Ellie realizes that perhaps they aren’t exactly her speed. Time and time again she’s told that she doesn’t belong at the party and she questions everything. When the atmosphere changes after a break from cocktails, they are called to the main salon where it’s only women there. Quickly things take a turn for the racy. We learn that the next round of the event is an auction – where the women are up for bid and the man who wins them gets a night of what ever sexual fantasy he wants. The women get to keep the money and are at the mercy of their ‘owner’. Caroline quickly realizes that this isn’t for her and expects Ellie to depart with her but surprisingly Ellie realizes the the idea isn’t so bad and the money that she could make would be worth it.

From then on, the story takes a turn. Ellie perhaps brings the most money in for the night – her gentleman thankfully isn’t an older guy, but instead Mr Black. He’s not at all what she expects, but his preferences are darker and raunchier than she could have imagined. What surprises her the most is how much she enjoys what he does and wants more. The time they spend together seems great but she knows that it’s just one night.

So when she goes to depart the next morning, she thinks that’s the end of things, and yet Mr Black, Aiden – tracks her down before she leaves and gives her something to hope for. What that is, and what that means for her – you’ll only know if you read the story!

There are a few subplots going on as well that make this story a bit meatier. There’s the best friend Tom that Ellie’s had since college – a guy that she’s always crushed on and a guy that broke her heart when he quickly started dating their boss and got engaged. That put the breaks on any emotions and feelings, and thankfully for Ellie, it opened up the possibility with Aiden. What happens in this story though makes us see that Tom isn’t worthy of her devotion. Watching his demeanor and judgement makes us root for Ellie and I can’t wait to see what happens to Tom as a result of his new found rude qualities.

There’s also the bits about Caroline – we know that she enjoys the nicer things in life and that she’s the one who brought Ellie into the world with Mr Black. She now has a bit of jealousy and I can’t wait to see how that plays out for her.

Then there’s all of Aiden’s past and the mystery that surrounds him and his tastes. I’m sure that all the readers here can’t wait to see what it means for the possibility of the future since there are so many dark corners and twists that will be obstacles.

Well…lucky for my eager reader mind – i’ve got the next book already and i’m off to see what comes next. Enjoy!

Review: The Girl Who Doesn’t Quit (Soulless #12) by Victoria Quinn

TitleThe Girl Who Doesn’t Quit
Author:  Victoria Quinn
Publisher/Year:  Hartwick Publishing 6/15/21
Length:  277 Pages
Series: Soulless #12

Overview

The director of my clinic is retiring and the job is up for grabs. 

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want the job for myself, but I’d be happy if any of my colleagues got the promotion. 

But none of them get it. 

Neither do I. 

It’s an outside hire. 

Atlas Beaumont. 

Super genius, but I think he’s a super prick. 

Worst part of all? My father is the one who wrote his letter of recommendation, the one that impressed my boss so much that he hired him on the spot.

My Thoughts

Daisy is the one person of the family that we hadn’t gotten a great look at aside from her relationship with Mason, so it’s wonderful to see her story come to fruition. In this 12th installment, we get to see how Daisy’s life transforms as she tries to excel at work and find personal life balance.

We know she’s in the medical field and she’s one of the top in what she does. Her boss is getting ready to retire and of course that means that she’s excited to take on the role, except that it doesn’t go to her. or anyone who works there – it’s an outside hire and that hurts. When Daisy confronts her boss about, she’s told that she’s young, perhaps too young. Yet the new guy is her age. what it comes down to is that she’s a woman – and that’s just not ok. She learns that part of the reason the new guy – Atlas got the job was from a glowing recommendation from one Dr Hamilton – her father.

The path of this story in that perspective is one of challenge, butting heads and really just trying to do a good job medically. Daisy has patients that she wants to cure, and there are egos at play here where Atlas thinks he knows better on everything and Daisy likes to be thorough. each scene also screams sexual tension which is a whole nother level of things.

Throughout this story. we watch how that plays out – how Daisy comes to terms with things and then Atlas is arrogant and makes it all awful again. Then They figure out how to work together and the office is a great place to be.

While this is all going on, we watch how Deacon (Daisy’s father) and Atlas expand their friendship. There’s a father protectiveness over Atlas and there’s a mutual respect that we see grow as they open up to one another. Where this leads of course is the idea for Deacon that Atlas and Daisy are compatible. So that takes us down another path in this story.

Neither really wants anything serious – after Mason, Daisy decided that she’s not ready to love anyone again and Atlas is divorced but won’t share the catalyst to that – so we don’t know why he’s gun shy. So instead we get a super explosive connection between them, the chemistry and passion are off the charts and I think there may be something good. until Atlas reveals something and well….we’re at an impasse. so…i’m off to book lucky #13 to see what happens next. enjoy!

Review: Tell Me To Stop (Tell Me #1) by Charlotte Byrd

TitleTell Me To Stop
Author:  Charlotte Byrd
Publisher/Year:  Byrd Books 08/06/19
Length:  165 Pages
Series: Tell Me #1

Overview

I owe him a debt. The kind money can’t repay.

He wants something else: me, for one year.

But I don’t even know who he is…

365 days and nights doing everything he wants…except that.

“I’m not going to sleep with you,” I say categorically.

He laughs.

“I’m going to make you a promise,” his eyes challenge mine. “Before our time is up, you’ll beg me for it.”

My Thoughts

This is a light and sweet novella that is a launching pad I think to a bigger series. We find ourselves in Boston, with two friends that are in interesting circumstances. They’ve got very different backgrounds which puts them in different financial positions, yet they are great friends. Olive is our main character, and she’s trying to make a new life for herself. she grew up in less than ideal circumstances, a father that’s gone, a brother that’s passed and another that’s in jail. Her mother has chronic pain and has bad addiction habits that keeps her on the wrong side of things. We also see that the mother daughter relationship here is not one with anything good to save.

Olive’s taken student loans to get the education that she craves so that she’s able to move herself far from where she’s from, and will have to pay those for the rest of her life basically. It all changes when one day she receives a check for the exact amount of money that she owes and her life’s trajectory will change. She doesn’t know who the money is from and what strings are attached but what she does know is that she has to take a chance and make a leap.

She deposits the money, accepts an invitation to go to Hawaii to meet the person who’s funded her, and from then on, the story takes a few interesting twists.

What we learn of NC really makes us wonder what’s going on in the world. We learn his story and his motivation to help her out and yet we aren’t sure exactly what he has in mind for her long term. He wants Olive to be with him for a year, but at what capacity and for what reason we’re still unsure.

Olive doesn’t trust and so she goes home only to be tricked by her mother. Her mom owes a lot of money to a bookie and pulls a scam to scare Olive into settling her debt. It’s a shame that her mother doesn’t see the amazing woman that she has in a child, but it’s also not surprising. The decisions that Olive makes as a result make us as readers smile, and maybe shock us a bit because in her shoes, I don’t know that we would do the same.

What I do know is that we find Olive putting herself first for once, and what that means is that the games are about to begin. I don’t know what games, and I don’t know how exciting they will be, but I can imagine that they will be hot, and full of chemistry and passion. So on to book two I go !

Review: Wreck & Ruin (Blue Angels Motorcycle Club #1) by Emma Slate

TitleWreck & Ruin
Author:  Emma Slate
Publisher/Year:  Tabula Rosa Publishing 12/15/19
Length:  304 Pages
Series: Blue Angels #1

Overview

My life is boring. Monotonous.

And then tall, dark, and dangerous walks into the bar where I work.

Before I know it, I’m in his arms asking him to rescue me.

He’s Colt Weston, President of the Blue Angels MC.

Colt makes me feel alive…and wanted.

The Blue Angels embrace me as one of their own, and when a violent rival threatens to tear us apart, I learn what loyalty truly means.

Family. Sacrifice. Revenge.

There’s nothing Colt won’t do to protect me.

My Thoughts

The summary sets the scene nicely but doesn’t give us the full depth and breadth into what we’re about to start enjoying. This is a standalone story in the Blue Angels series, the first of many stories I hope, and it’s intense.

Just like we read above, we start off at Dive Bar, a place where Mia works. She’s being pestered by a customer when two incredibly handsome men walk in wearing biker leathers and looking like trouble (in the best sort of way). She rushes over to the bikers and asks one to pretend to be her boyfriend to get the other guy out of her hair. He kisses her, and their worlds change for ever. They just don’t know it yet.

Mia is innocent in a sense that she has no idea who she’s kissed and what that means. Her best friend Shelly though is fully aware of MCs and who the Blue Angels are and that she should steer clear. No problem for Mia since she’s not interested in anything right now.

In the same 24 hours, Mia finds herself in the crosshairs of another MC – the Iron Horsemen and Dev – their Prez. he’s ‘doing business’ with Richie, Mia’s boss at the bar, and corners Mia, kisses her as well to effectively stake claim and from there we know this story is going to be a ROLLER COASTER.

The ride is fast and furious because there’s something Dev wants that he thinks Richie told her about, and Mia is forced to go to the Blue Angels for protection. We all know how this story will play out. Naive innocent girl sucked into a life of danger and will it work? who knows. Will she find love? we don’t know.

But what we do know is that given that it’s in Waco, and the Blue Angels, we know that Flynn/Barrett, Ramsey and some of the others from SINS will pop up since Waco and the MC were where Ramsey spent some time post his breakup with his British girl.

This story takes us on a journey of self growth, figuring out who you are by yourself and then who you are with and to others. Mia has had a rough life with her mom passing when she was really young, and her grammie passing a few years prior. She’s never known her father (who actually makes an appearance in a very unexpected way in this story) and all of this shapes her into a woman who is independent but is forced to rely on others due to circumstances out of her control. Everything that she thought she wanted for herself has changed, and her idea of family and the future are completely pivoted.

At the same time we watch our leading man Colt pull his walls down. We learn from his sister Jonie that he’s been closed off for years, that they are also orphans of a sort and that it takes someone who sees past the the outside shell, the MC and the hard edges to make him laugh. There’s potential for Mia to do that, but we watch them fight each other.

There are bittersweet moments since we have quite a bit of death in this story as to be expected, and we wonder what the implications will be in the long run for happiness, closure and revenge. (yet another theme that we see quite a bit in Emma Slate books). Some of our favorites don’t make it through to the end, and some give us hope for future installments of the series since the stories are definitely going to be entertaining and juicy.

So on that note, dive into this one, enjoy the steamy hot scenes and the roller coaster of the underground criminal world, and wait patiently with me for book 2 to arrive in November. Enjoy!

Review: The Truth (Charade #3) by Stella Gray

TitleThe Truth
Author:  Emma Slate
Publisher/Year:  Tabula Rosa Publishing 5/25/21
Length:  250 Pages
Series: Charade #3

Overview

My family has given everything to salvage the Zoric name and reputation from my father’s tarnished legacy.

I only needed a moment to destroy it all.

Along with two hearts.

It was supposed to be a simple charade. I never thought Ford and I would fall in love.

But I can’t take back what I’ve done.

He can’t change the past.

And what we’ve done changes everything.

But only if I stop running.

Someone has to lose either way. But when the truth comes out, there might be no winner at all.

My Thoughts

As I jog my memory to think back to where we ended book two, i’m quickly reminded that we once again found ourselves on the downward spiral of Emzee and Ford’s relationship. They were happy until Claudia shared some information that Ford never wanted her to know – the truth behind what happened in high school at his own hands.

Claudia reveals that all the rumors that Emzee suffered from, those rumors to which she thought that Ford rescued her from, where actually started BECAUSE of him. So the onset of book three, we are taken to the past where we see what happened to prompt that. We learn that Ford overheard his parents fighting and learned that it was because of the illegal business that Em’s dad ran, and Ford felt that his parents were going to split up because of it, resulting in his life being ruined. So he took it out on her.

From this point on in the story, we watch how things go from bad to worse. We learned that Emzee was pregnant in book two, and she still hasn’t shared that information with anyone. She starts the divorce process to get out of the marriage which solves many of her problems – she no longer has to stay married to a man she continues not to trust, and she’s also able to uphold her part of the bargain with the Malones where they will pay off the Russian mob if they split.

The divorce prompts a move to New York and a start of a new life. Ford’s not going to take this laying down, so we watch for the next bulk of the story how he tries to win her back – how he moves to New York, into the same building and even buys the building. He woos her every day with romantic gestures and every time it seems like they’re making progress, Em sticks to her guns and begs for the divorce.

Just when Ford makes a big breakthrough, Claudia shows up again and well we know what happens every time that happens. The end of the couple. Which makes everyone happy except for Ford and sometimes Emzee.

There’s so much going on in this story though that we can’t forget about other sub plots. There’s the Bratva and what the Zoric’s will do about them if the Malones don’t keep up their end of the bargain. There’s the notion that Tori’s pregnant and due any day, Brooklyn is pregnant and not far behind, and still no one knows that Em is pregnant.

There’s Emzee’s new job that she loves but the same job that takes her away from her charity in Chicago so we have to wonder what will come of that. and there’s Claudia – there HAS to be an ulterior motive there for her to continue to pursue Ford and interject herself at every turn, yet it’s not obvious throughout the series…yet.

So….add to all that turmoil a few Very steamy scenes partially due to intense chemistry but also due to pregnancy hormones and what we get is an insanely indulgent third and final installment to Emzee’s story. Not sure that the closure is what we expect or need, but it serves it’s purpose. So…Enjoy!

Review: Peasants and Kings by Emma Slate

TitlePeasants and Kings
Author:  Emma Slate
Publisher/Year:  Tabula Rosa Publishing 10/2/20
Length:  348 Pages

Overview

My entire life has been a lie.

And then I meet a mysterious, powerful billionaire who makes me an offer I can’t refuse.

My body comes alive under his sensuous touch.

But Hadrian Rhys is a man with a dark past and a broken soul.

I never expected him to fall in love with me.

Now my secrets are coming back to destroy us.

Bloodlines, alliances, and murderous restitution lie buried deep within my past.

My name is Sterling Miller.

You won’t believe who I am.

My Thoughts

I’m glad that I read SINS before this although i’m not entirely sure that it’s a mandate. What we do get is a reference to the Dallas Rex where this story revolves for a bit, and that’s a place where Ramsey Buchanan has spent some time. We also get a reference or comparison of our main leading lady to Barrett Campbell which is quite a compliment even if it’s not wanted. So, all that being said, we know that this is going to be a good story right?

We are circling around The White Company here -and if you recall, we know that they are a powerful Italian Mafia like family, one that is able to get things done under little observation. Barrett and Sasha went to them in the last installment of the SINS / Ember series to get Quinn back, and Barrett being Barrett, she was able to get their agreement and their respect all in the same moment.

To back up, our leading lady – Sterling doesn’t know much of her past, but she quickly comes up to speed on it when she learns that her estranged mother has committed suicide and has left information for her. A letter and $20k to stay hidden. Sterling learns that her family is The White Company and that her mother ran away from them when they tried to marry her off, she married someone else and they killed her husband. The family didn’t know that her mother was pregnant, so Sterling really needed to hide her identity. She has traits of the family that would give her away and that means that she has to go underground.

When she’s out of money and time, and her name and face are going viral because of a good deed that she’s done, she runs to her only friend, Tiffany who works at The Rex and can help her. You remember from the previous series that the Rex has several components to the business. A Burlesque club, high end businessmen traveling through, and even a brothel. Well….we quickly learn that Tiffany’s job as a concierge at The Rex really means that she works in the brothel, but it’s high end and gives her access to all sorts of things that you can only dream of. By bringing Sterling into the Rex, she’s able to secure a new identity and a means to provide for herself to be safe. Her ‘family’ can’t hunt her down if they don’t know how to find her.

That’s only the start of things to come. On the day of her interview, she meets a Scottish man who has a pull on her – yet she doesn’t act. It’s only at her first event for the Rex that she sees him again, and spends the night with him that her world changes.

What’s meant to be one night of passion turns into something deeper. for both of them. This man, Hadrian is a Scottish power of his own, rivaling that of Flynn and the others that we met in previous books. He has connections that are on par with the others, and he’s got the attraction and sexual prowess to make you all swoon.

He’s a protector and that’s what Sterling needs. She shares her past and who she is and he gives her insight into his past as well and they bond over it. It comes in handy when Hadrian has done work for The White Company in the past and knows the family ‘well’. He tries to do right by Sterling to get the past erased, but it all goes to shit when they take him out and kidnap her to marry her off in retribution and to save the family reputaiton from the sins of her mother.

We watch the insanity unfold and the archaic nature of these criminal families take form. While in the other series we’ve watched the person who’s been kidnapped find some redeeming quality of their captor, that’s not the case when the man that Sterling is now being forced to marry physically harms her and puts her in harms way for the livelihood of her future.

Blood oaths are sworn, deaths happen and future deals are made that make everyone miserable. To be honest, this story had the potential to be a great series but this seems like a standalone that offers up notions of what other spin offs could be. It’s a great story nonetheless and i’m really glad that I was able to lounge by the pool today to read it. Enjoy!

Review: Ashes (Ember #3, SINS #7) by Emma Slate

Title: Ashes
Author:  Emma Slate
Publisher/Year:  Tabula Rosa Publishing 3/3/21
Length:  190 Pages
Series: Sins #7 / Ember #3

Overview

I’m safe in the arms of the man I love.

We have a chance at a future together, but first we have to survive.

Another man has come between us, and his memory lingers in our bed.

Our enemy wants only one thing…

To see the love of my life die.

But now I’m a queen amongst warriors.

Blood for blood.

My life for his.

Fairy tales are for little girls.

My Thoughts

Well, my concerns were availed and relieved in the second installment where we spend our time with Quinn and Sasha together trying to find safety and delve into this third installment where their world is blown up yet again. Mind you we knew that it was going to happen, but the fact that they are still a ‘we’ is something commendable. They’ve some how figured out how to get past the trauma and drama of their relationships and some how have come out the other end with something stronger. that’s good cause we know they’re going to be tested over and over and over again.

throughout this third installment, we watch several things unfold. Helena, Quinn and Ori’s daughter is born, and they hide her from Ori, who some how survives a beat down by Sasha, and is in jail, until he’s not. That’s when the story goes awry. He’s taken control of Quinn’s company and he’s trying to draw her out, along with sasha. He also has learned some interesting information that brings another target into the mix – Barrett. How he learned this we never find out but what we do know is that his grandfather has uncovered the true murderer of Igor and that add complications.

Quinn spends much of this third book reminding us that she’s not just pretty – she may not be Barrett but she’s strong, tough, resilient etc. She’s able to do more than people give her credit for and she uses the realtionships that her father cultivated to get what she needs.

She’s a badass.

She devises a plan with the help of the Chinese mafia to take something that kills her…but does it kill her?

She sets a trap for Ori in thehopes of capturing him so that they can be free. does it work?

She plats and plans with her extended family to find loopholes and gaps in things, even when she’s mourning her brother’s death (yup…another one bites the dust).

So there’s so much more to Quinn than meets the eye, and it’s enjoyable to watch how that unfolds in this third book. We see Barrett and Flynn find a new evolution of things, we watch Brandon Kilmartin come to terms with reality and perhaps have a spark of his own elsewhere. We watch relationships with the FBI evolve and perhaps scare us a bit to see how they can work int he future under a new relationship….

So while this is the end of Ember, and perhaps the end of the SINS series as well, there’s a new series that takes us to the Rex Dallas and we know that Ramsey went there, so this is DEFINITELY not the end of the characters and story that we love. I’m intrigued and i’ve purchased the next one to dive in tomorrow (or more likely later tonight). Enjoy!