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

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

Overview

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overview

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Lost with Me (Stark Trilogy #5) by J Kenner

Title: Lost with Me
Author:  J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  Martini & Olive 10.23.18
Length:   250 Pages
Series:  Stark Trilogy #5

Overview

His touch takes my breath away. Our passion feeds my soul…

My love for Damien fills me, and the intensity of our bond brings me to my knees. For him, there is no burden I wouldn’t bear, no decadent punishment to which I won’t submit.

The dark days seemingly behind us, we have carved a life out of adversity, chiseling away pain to reveal strength and beauty. Now, all I want is to laugh with our children in the sunlight, then surrender myself to Damien’s embrace in the dark.

But lingering secrets and hidden menace threaten our family. Now, Damien and I must forge a new strength from our shared passion and hope the fire between will burn away the darkness and protect everything we hold most dear.

This sexy, emotionally charged romance continues the story of Damien Stark, the powerful billionaire who’s never had to take “no” for an answer, and his beloved wife Nikki Fairchild Stark. Be sure not to miss any part of this sensual, romantic saga:

My Thoughts

Every time we get a new installment to this series, i wonder what’s next and who’s going to be the focus of it all.  There’s so much great foundation between Nikki and Damien, that there’s so little to guess at what will cause conflict.  So in this fifth installment, we find ourselves with outside forces pushing these two apart, and ghosts from the past potentially being the reason for it all.

The premise we have going into this story is that Nikki is in a great place with her company, they are successful to the point that they are moving into a new space, hiring more employees and that means that she has to balance work and being a mom in a way that’s new to her.  It’s nice though to know that she’s being recognized for her success as both by a magazine, yet she quickly finds that the reporter has a vendetta. And an Agenda.

Damien on the other hand is living his life per usual.  Making deals, building his empire, and of course dealing with people who feel like they’ve been slighted at his success.

While that’s all playing out, their lives continuing in this new normal, the unthinkable happens.  Nikki seems to be targeted by someone who hates her – leaving notes on her car and spraying her office walls with horrible words.  Damien has been threatened by someone who says he’ll go after him where it hurts.  Nikki gets the sense that someone’s watching her – following her.  And where does this leave them?  Someone kidnaps the nanny Bree and their daughter.

From then on we play the game of ‘who did it’ and ‘what needs to happen to get them back safe’.  I had my idea on who did it and i was right as i’m sure you will be as well when you read it, but it’s still impressive how this person got to them.

The great thing that J Kenner does here is she writes the story with realness to it.  A bigger real reality than we’ve seen lately.  this is a couple that’s rock solid – but there are cracks that maybe they didn’t even realize were there- and it starts to break them.  There are trust issues with mystery people popping up, secrets coming out, and Nikki’s past coming to haunt her in a big way.  You want to be hopeful and positive, but there really are so many things stacked against both the hopes in finding who the kidnapper is, and maintaining stability in the Stark’s relationship.  That’s where we spend our time in this story and that’s the resolution that we hope for.  So on that note, only you will find out how it nets out by reading – so do it!  Enjoy!

Review: Please Me (Stark Ever After #5) by J Kenner

Title: Please Me
Author: J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  EvilEye Concepts 8/28/18
Length:   120 Pages
Series:  Stark Ever After #5

Overview

Each day with Damien is a miracle, each moment with our children a gift. And yet I cannot escape the growing sense that a storm is gathering, threatening to pull me away, to rip us apart. To drag me down, once again, into a darkness to which I swore never to return.

I have to fight it—I know that. And I am waging the battle with of all my heart. But it is Damien who is my strength, and we both know that the only way to push away the darkness is for him to fold me in his arms and claim me completely. And for me to surrender myself, once again, to the fire that burns between us.

My Thoughts

I love continuing the story with Nikki and Damien – their main series was amazing and every spin off that they appear in is just as great.  so getting these little novellas where we have a chance to see another moment in their lives makes things even better.

We are at the point in their lives where their family is strong, they have their two little girls, Nikki’s company is doing so well and she’s managed to find a way to balance work and family life by moving her office to the bungalow that Damien built for her.  Her relationship with Damien is stronger than ever – until she begins to question what secrets he’s hiding since he’s clearly dealing with something.

The loving wife that Nikki is, she plans a weekend away so they can find their passion and heat together without kids, but what was supposed to be a relaxing weekend turns out to be an explosion waiting to happen.  What comes out of it may change their lives forever – and you have to read on to find out what happens and what that means for them moving forward.  Enjoy!

Review: Bar Bites: A Man of the Month Cookbook (Man of the Month) by J Kenner

Title: Bar Bites
Author: J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  Martini & Olive 5/15/18
Length:   120 Pages
Series:  Man of the Month

Overview

Before Austin’s hotspot, The Fix on Sixth, became known for its sexy and fun Man of the Month calendar contest, the fictional downtown bar had already developed a reputation for fabulous drinks and mouthwatering bar bites–exactly the kind of venue to take a date and strike up a romance. Now it’s your chance to see exactly what’s on the menu … and to get a peek at the private lives of the men and women who not only work at The Fix, but who’ve made it the place to be in Austin, Texas. Join Man of the Month creator, New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner, and USA Today bestselling Southern food expert Suzanne Johnson as they guide you through their favorite bar bite and drink recipes served at The Fix on Sixth. Learn how to make the delicious bar bites that Tyree’s bar has become famous for. Whip up your favorite cocktail with the same flare as Cameron or Eric. And don’t forget to spend some time learning a little bit more about the private lives of your favorite characters in all new snippets and short stories! Most of all, come share a drink, a bite, and a laugh with us! We’re so glad you’re here. So pull up a chair, raise a glass, and dig in with your favorite Man of the Month characters, and meet a few new ones, too! Cheers!

My Thoughts

While not as fulfilling as the main installments to the series, this was a sweet way to end things since there were a few loose ends to be tied up.  That and well, it’s always nice to know how to make the food and drinks that i’ve read about for months now .

In this interesting version of a book, we get 4 novellas, one about Reece/Jenna, one about Spencer/Brooke, one about Nolan/Shelby and one about Eric/Tiffany.  Each gives us a glimpse into their story that we didn’t have already (a continuation of sorts) except for Eric/Tiffany where we got an abbreviated version of their entire story.

There’s something interesting though to call out here.  Our author tends to lean on the side of steam and heat in her other series, but in this case, there was more ‘sweet romance’ and storytelling than raunch.  nice change up sure, but in this book, she turns on the heat for sure and we get a bit more of what she’s known for.  It’s a nice change to be frank since we get the sweetness of the romances, yet the passion of Ms Kenner.

I love that we got to see a bit further into the future for Reece and Jenna – the birth of their daughter which was a main point throughout the installments.  It’s a bit of a stressful path that they go on, but it’s sweet none the less.   we get to see the happy couple become a happy family

then there’s nolan / shelby.  the couple that seemed to be totally different from one another but so well suited – but does that mean that they get their happily ever after?  and at what cost?

Onto Brooke and Spencer, the couple that had it all, lost it all and found it again.  Now however is the spotlight coming in between them?  putting on too much pressure and taking all that was great and amazing between them and turning it against each other?  i feel like we all want their happy ending – for their first show to be the success that we saw it become, and for them to get the mansion renovated and perfect since it was the stage for where their initial relationship really flourished.  the cameras though, and the constant attention makes things hard that there’s a breaking point, and we can only hope that love keeps it from falling apart too far.

And lastly, the romance that we never got in a full size story – Eric and Tiffany.  the bartender and the friend.  It’s sweet to see the crush become something more, even if there’s the taboo piece that Tiffany used to date Eric’s brother.  It’s when said brother comes back into town that we see things get dicey.

So….all in all, an even nicer way to close out the series – even though i know that Walk the Line was a really good piece of closure.  Now i really have to find something else to read.  Sad!  but enjoy!!!

Review : Walk the Line (Man of the Month #12) by J Kenner

Title: Walk the Line
Author: J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  Martini & Olive 7/10/18
Length:   130 Pages
Series:  Man of the Month #12

Overview

Elena is too young for me, not to mention she’s my boss’s daughter and my babysitter.
That’s beyond complicated. And I’m not even looking for a relationship–but I can’t deny the attraction that sizzles between us.
I need to ignore it. A single dad, all I want is to take care of my little girl, do my job, and enjoy my friends. Anything more is asking for complications I can’t afford. Asking to be hurt again.
Trouble is, I want her, too. And when our flirty sparks turn to flames, I give in to temptation. Our secret fling is scorching hot, better than I’d even imagined.
But secrets get out, and I could lose my job and my reputation.
And I’m starting to realize she’s the one thing I’m not willing to lose.

My Thoughts

I’m really bummed that this is the last installment to the series.  I feel like there could be so much more to continue the story line. 🙁  The good thing though is that Ms Kenner saved Brent for last.  He was a big role in the first book so it’s nice that it came full circle to him in this finale.

The Brent we knew before was the best friend in a triangle of Reece and Jenna.  He’s a single father to Faith, an adorable 5 (now 6) year old who’s mother walked out the day she was born.  Brent’s had a lot of trouble trusting people to stick around and he’s beyond devoted to his daughter.

Then there’s Elena, Tyree’s daughter – a child that he only learned about a few books back.  She’s 23, finding her way in life while finishing Grad School.  She’s sure of who she is, but she also knows what she wants and who she wants.

Of course, there’s a mutual attraction that neither will act on.  Brent is afraid to commit to anyone and he’s afraid of Tyree getting mad, and Elena is afraid to be rejected and is also afraid of what her father will think.  It’s only when she becomes his babysitter and they find themselves together at all hours that things start to bubble up.

The journey that they go on is a fast one.  They finally admit that they can’t deny how they feel about one another but they have to be careful about how open they are since there are so many factors against them.  And of course when things start to settle in, there are various wrenches thrown in.  One being a job opportunity that Elena gets in California.

Add to that story line that we are at the end of the series – with the point being that they needed to raise enough money to keep The Fix from being foreclosed on.  Add to that the fact that someone’s been vandalizing the place, and now the historical committee has decided that they want to take over the property because of it’s significance in Austin, and all the hard work may have been for nothing .

So as i said, our journey comes to a close, and while we see endless couples have been formed, we also don’t know what the outcome will be – if their home will be taken away and if that happens, what that will mean for everyone.  So on that note, i suggest you read it to see what happens and how they manage in the outcome.  Enjoy!