Review: The Sham (Convenience #1) by Stella Gray

Title: The Sham
Author:  Stella Gray
Publisher/Year:  Stella Gray 5/5/20
Length:  235 Pages
Series:  Convenience #1

Overview

Our marriage is a sham. I’m the first to admit it. Only privately, of course.

Notorious playboy Luka Zoric needs a wife, and the good PR it brings.

I just need the career boost being his top model will give me. It’s a win-win–on paper. But since when has real life been simple?

His jealousy makes me crazy.

The control he maintains over my body is unacceptable.

I really shouldn’t be so turned on by it.

But there’s more to both me and my husband than meets the eye.

And it isn’t long before I’m wondering–which of us has made the bigger mistake?

My Thoughts

It’s funny – i was going to read this book before the Arranged series and i’m glad that i didn’t. That’s the set up to this, the prelude to this bit of the story and it really helps set the stage.

We met Luka in the first book – he’s the younger son of the KZM dynasty and a playboy at that. Throughout the first series, we saw him as a drunk, as a guy who’s out for the next quick affair, usually with a model from the agency and really just a PR nightmare. Now that the brothers are in charge of things, we see that Stefan and Luka need to turn things around in the agency’s image and while Stefan has done a great job from a business perspective, Luka now needs to help give them a more human image….resulting in another arranged marriage.

That’s where Brooklyn comes into the mix. These two met a few years back when Brooklyn was trying to make her big break on the modeling scene which resulted in a string of lies from Luka and a great one night stand for these two. Fast forward 3 years, and we’re back at the newly formed DRM agency where Brooklyn is trying to get her shot at the open audition.

What all the girls soon realize is that this isn’t a usual audition, the girls are being asked unique and personal questions, and this is all for the hunt for Luka’s wife. Brooklyn checks all the boxes and we get to watch the push pull throughout the first half of the book between these two. There’s chemistry between them but Brooklyn is so upset about how Luka clearly doesn’t remember her, and Luka on the other hand is sooo attracted to her that he’d be dumb not to remember her. Mind you, all this brings out jealousy and tension that’s really intense and unexpected on both parts of the couple.

The journey from here is a roller coaster. We watch the games that they play with each other because it seems like they both are holding onto this notion of a temp marriage, but there’s history there, there’s chemistry and need and clearly stronger and deeper emotions that anyone expected.

Throughout this though, there’s also a secret that Brooklyn is hiding that i caught onto pretty quick and i’m sure most others did as well. I don’t know what motivated her to get into the situation that she’s in, but it’s one that’s going to hurt a lot of people, especially her new family, and i can’t wait to see how she gets out of this one.

We get a lot of the same heat and passion levels that we saw in the former series. There’s a chemistry and intensity that Ms Gray writes that really keeps us engaged. The moments that this couple steals together, in closets, in bedrooms, anywhere – they are on fire and that’s exactly what’s needed to keep a story like this moving. So…now i have to wait until July to get book 2, but in the meantime, you should read this and the other series and enjoy!

Review: The Choice (Arranged #3) by Stella Gray

Title: The Choice
Author:  Stella Gray
Publisher/Year:  Stella Gray 11/25/19
Length:  236 Pages
Series:  Arranged #3

Overview

On the day my husband and I committed to each other, I didn’t wear a white dress.

We didn’t exchange rings.

There was no audience or minister to witness our union.

Only the two of us.

We swore to put each other first, to take on the evils our families had perpetuated together. Side by side.

But that was before the past returned to haunt us.

Now everything has changed.

Stefan can’t have both his past and my future.

I can’t ask him to choose.

And neither of us can do what has to be done without the other. It’s an impossible choice, but we’ve run out of time.

My Thoughts

When we were left at the end of book 2, Stefan’s past was paraded in front of his face at a time that could not have been more destructive, with implications that challenged everything that he knew. His father was behind it all, the past and the present and i think that it’s clear to us that there’s no length that he will go to that’s too far.

Anja – the woman that Stefan loved all those years ago is the woman that’s in front of him now. Not only has she come out of hiding, but she’s come with a seven or eight year old son – the perfect age for when she left Stefan. Meaning…Stefan has a child that he didn’t know about. And to add insult to injury, when Stefan was sure that she was running to protect herself, it turns out that she was likely under his nose – because his father had paid her to stay away, and had paid to keep her cared for all these years – waiting for the right moment to bring her and the boy out.

So we spend much of this third installment watching how this has implications on everyone in the plot. What choices can Stefan make that will care for everyone involved. He’s clear to himself that his intentions towards Tori are the same, that she’s the person he loves and the person that he needs, yet Tori being the young girl that she is, she feels that she has to step away. She puts on a brave face for a while of course, but she knows that she has to back away since there’s a family involved now, and she can’t be the one to break it up.

Anja is the pawn in all this – brought back under false pretenses, of course all at the manipulations of Konstantine. Thinking that she has a chance to be with Stefan again, thinking that they will have a happy ending, but that’s not necessarily the case- until a fantastic day at the zoo makes it a possibility.

Throughout this finale to their story, we’re on a roller coaster of emotions. Trying to determine when you’ve fought enough to say that you’ve done all you can and walk away from emotions. Don’t forget the plot to take down the dark side of KZM which is still in play, yet much more challenging now that there are all these other distractions.

Someone in this story dies – hearts are broken and families are torn apart. What we get in addition though is a lead into the next series that i’ve picked up, giving us a glimpse into what could be a new reality for some of our characters and what we hope will be a happy ending. All while enjoying some of the steamiest scenes of this series yet. There’s chemistry that keeps bringing characters together, and at the same time, pulling them apart.

So, on that note, i’m excited to see what comes next in The Sham, another series by our great author and i’ll be back soon im sure with that review. Enjoy!

Review: The Secret (Arrangement #2) by Stella Gray

Title: The Secret
Author:  Stella Gray
Publisher/Year:  Stella Gray 10/14/19
Length:  204 Pages
Series:  Arranged #2

Overview

On the day I was married, I promised to love, honor, and obey my husband Stefan.

Little did I know how literally I would mean obeying.

Stefan tells me what to do, and I do it. There are questions asked, but I always submit in the end.

It would hurt less if I hadn’t started falling for him.

It was supposed to be pretend. But the secrets we now share are too real, and they’re crumbling every piece of who I thought I was.

If only Stefan was the man I thought he was.

If only I weren’t so powerless.

But there’s one thing I have that he wants.

My body.

And I’ll do anything it takes to right the wrongs I’ve discovered.

My Thoughts

This story gets more twisted and complex as we go on. We know that there was such hopefulness and perhaps quite a bit of innocence in the first installment as we know that Tori really is just eighteen and doesn’t have much life experience. She really felt a connection to Stefan and hoped that he felt the same but what she saw throughout her time with him and on her honeymoon leads her to see otherwise and to realize that life is definitely not what she wanted so she has to forge her own path.

Throughout this second installment, we watch Tori get to find her own way – find her footing in school and really start to excel. She’s doing well in her classes and has friends that are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt even though her husband embarrassed her in ways that weren’t ok. She befriends a guy Gavin who seems to have romantic feelings towards her even though she holds true to the notion of being married and we watch how that brings out all sorts of problems through the book.

Stefan on the other hand continues to be everything that we expect from him. He’s working all the time and it seems like he’d rather be anywhere but with Tori. We’ve seen the insane chemistry and attraction that they have and we see how intimacy some how brings them together but there are so many times in this journey with them that it’s not quite enough.

Stefan feels the need to protect Tori at all costs and that means having her followed as well as tracking her. That breaks her trust especially when it brings out insane jealousy on his part and we see every little thread of this relationship unravel. Every time it seems like they’ve come to an understanding of what their relationship will be, they break it.

About half way through this story – we see that the come to a compromise – as a result of a night out gone wrong. Tori was out with Gavin and some school friends and drinks too much, essentially gets drugged and Stefan comes to her rescue. There’s thought that Gavin was the one who drugged her and that makes this story even more interesting. We don’t exactly know where things will go but i think that we can’t wait to see it.

Tori has moved into another bed room, then back in with Stefan….their lives are pulled apart and then brought back together. Their bond is now forged strong, and that is proven again and again, even with Stefan’s father comes at them, trying to strangle Tori and threaten her. It’s not until the closing scene of this second book that we get to see what he’s really capable of. Stefan has opened up to Tori and shared his secrets and as a result, those secrets are paraded in front of him now with an added unexpected surprise that we don’t yet know what it means and what the outcome will be.

Book 3 is called the Choice and clearly it’s obvious that there’s not just this one choice that has to be made, but several others that will be put in front of everyone in order to get us to a point that brings closure. We don’t know yet who’s on what side and who’s working against Tori (and Stefan for that matter) and we can only hope that it unfolds in a dynamic and exciting way. I’m excited to see where this story goes in this next book and i’m going to root for the romance of things that everyone ends up happy, but given this latest twist, i’m not sure that it’s possible. so on that note, i’m off to read the next installment and enjoy!

Review: The Deal (Arranged Series #1) by Stella Gray

Title: The Deal
Author:  Stella Gray
Publisher/Year:  Stella Gray 9/10/19
Length:  235 Pages
Series:  Arranged #1

Overview

On my eighteenth birthday my father, the senator, gives me the gift he thinks every little girl dreams of.

The man of my dreams, and the wedding to match.

Stefan Zoric is heir to an elite worldwide modeling agency. Practically a prince.

My arrangement is simple, as far as sham marriages go.

I give him my virginity, behave as the perfect wife and he’ll pay for the college degree my father found irrelevant.

But I don’t want to be the perfect wife.

I want him to want me the way I want him.

I want him to confide in me.

But Stefan has secrets that he holds close, dangerous secrets.

And soon I’m wondering what kind of devil have I made a deal with?

My Thoughts

I don’t think that i’ve ever read anything by Ms Stella Gray before, but I have to say that i’ve really enjoyed the introduction here to the Arranged Series. It’s the expected dynamic of the innocent being given to the powerful man for business reasons yet there’s something unique here.

We find our journey starting on Tory’s eighteenth birthday where she’s finally an adult and she’s trying to find her own path in the world outside of her Senator father’s and yet, just when she thinks that there’s hope, she’s thrown for a loop and finds herself under the finger of another man. Granted a very very attractive man.

Enter Stefan – the man who’s powerful and sexy and controlling and the one that we end up wanting to root for but the same man who does everything i his power to make us hate him. He agrees to a marriage in order to get the role in his family’s business that he feels that he deserves to have and i think that perhaps all the dark and dirty that we learn is the reason that he wants control. to make changes that are for the better.

This first installment to the series takes us from the wedding to a European honeymoon that has it’s fair share of ups and downs, more downs in fact than ups. We see Stefan’s devotion to his work at the sacrifice of Tori’s attention, leaving her essentially locked in a hotel room not able to see the amazing places that he’s taking her to. He seems afraid of her innocence and no matter what she does to lure him in, to catch his attraction, we find that it’s impossible for her to succeed – making her think that she’s not a woman and not the wife that will even manage to be in a relationship that is worth surviving.

One of the nice things about this story is that our author does a fantastic job of making sure that we sense the chemistry and intensity between them, and it amps things up that much more until we get to the point of no return. The way that these steamy scenes are written are so hot that you can’t help but to wish that you were the one in the relationship experiencing everything.

As this book progresses, we see there are moments of hope, we see corners turn as Tori gets into her school program and finds a rhythm with Stefan. We want to believe that there’s a way to make this into a real relationship instead of a temporary arrangement for the better good of business, but that all crashes and burns when Tori overhears something and realizes that she’s the only one who didn’t know about it. We’re left on a cliff and i can’t wait to see what comes out and happens in book 2. Enjoy!