Tag «dark»

Fresh Fridays: Dirty Obsession (Dirty #1) by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Dirty Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dirty Obsession (from Goodreads):

Arlo Carini saved my life, only to destroy it.

When I first met him, he was the wealthy, powerful, sexy stranger giving me and a dozen other art history students a tour of his mansion. But he soon became my everything.

My savior. My lover. My obsession.

He tried to warn me. Every chance he could, he tried to get me to run far, far away. But it only made my obsession grow stronger. Until I made the worst mistake I could. And ended up trapped forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Dirty
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Dirty Obsession, Dirty Addiction, Book 3)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Dirty Beginning included in Dirty Obsession

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Dirty Addiction will be released April 2018
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 18, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ella Miles never fails to disappoint me when it comes to her books. I always think I’m going to get one story but I end up with another–one that never fails to entertain and surprise me.

I love a good dark romance and after reading the novella, Dirty Beginning, I was curious to see what was in story next for these characters.

What I Liked:

–Dark and Twisted–

This is probably one of the darkest romances I’ve ever read. It’s deliciously dark and twisted which means it isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t enjoy dark erotic romances, don’t pick this up! But if you do, you are in for a treat!

This story did keep me on my toes. You always get the sense that there is more lurking underneath with all the characters involved and I loved the tension that brought to the story. I became a little obsessed (pun intended) trying to figure out what was happening and why. And the twists when everything is revealed (and how it ties back to the novella, Dirty Beginning): awesome.

–The Characters–

I really enjoyed the main characters we get to meet. You’ve got your very evil villain; the mysterious hero and a strong heroine. Nina is very likeable, more so in this book than in the novella I think. She has some solid character growth from start to end which I always appreciate!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wanted More Allusion to the “Game”–

I do wish the “game” was allude to more than it was throughout the novel. Just some little hints along the way would have been great. Even though the game is always afoot, I felt like we got a little too wrapped up in the sex scenes at times and I wanted a little more insight into the “why” of it all.

When to read the Prequel Novella: Dirty Beginning?

Definitely before you read Dirty Obsession! It gives you context for the first novel and introduces you to all the key players. You could get by without reading it but seeing as it is included in the Dirty Obsession, just read it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very excited for the next set of leads. I have a particular soft spot for our hero so I can’t wait for him to meet his match!

My Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Beginning 3/5] | Dirty Obsession 4/5| Dirty Addiction TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Perfect for fans of truly dark romances and sexy times! But if you don’t enjoy erotica or more graphic scenes, don’t pick this up!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, dislike erotica, love triangles

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Series Review: Maybe by Ella Miles

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Maybe Yes (from Goodreads):

Her future is already set, all she has to do is marry a complete stranger.

Kinsley Felton has everything. Money, a loving family, and a modeling career. She graduates from Yale in just days, but unlike a typical college student she doesn’t have to spend hours looking for a job when she graduates. Kinsley will inherit the multi-billion dollar gaming and hospitality company her great-grandfather started. The only problem is she has to do everything her family asks for in order to get that money. That includes marrying a man of her family’s choosing. That’s not a problem since Kinsley has been following her family’s orders all her life. Until a phone call from her grandfather changes everything.

Will she marry the man her family chooses or will she decide her own future?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Dark Romance 2017
Series: Maybe

There is a spin-off series called Definitely.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Maybe Yes, Maybe Never, Maybe Always)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: getting hot (Kink: mild in Maybe Always)
Point of View: First Person, Single (Maybe Yes), Alternating (Maybe Never onwards)
Publication Dates: March – July 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Amazon freebie box set)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure where I found out about Maybe Yes but I marked it on my TBR around the time it was first published in March 2016. And then I really lucked out when the trilogy boxset was listed as a freebie read on Amazon in February 2017. It’s not often that a book I mark as a TBR gets a reduced price let alone the entire series is marked as free so I immediately grabbed a copy.

This was a romance right up my alley! I like to read about unorthodox relationships in my romances–I find they keep things interesting between the usually romantic fare. And the “arranged relationship” trope is one of my faves as well. So to find one that seemed to combine both was awesome! However, I was hesitant that I wouldn’t like Kinsley’s character (I don’t like indecisive heroines) but went in with an open mind and was really excited to start this series when I pulled it from my TBR jar for my #ShelfLove Challenge!

The Concept:

The disclaimer for this series actually supremely helpful in preparing the reader for what to expect. Because the story we get in Maybe Yes (book 1) is nothing like the story we get in Maybe Always (book 3).

Warning: Three book series. Contains hot sex, a female that finds her strength, and dark pasts that turn very dark as the series progresses. Only for those that love dirty romances, edge of your seat suspense, twists, and a little bit of darkness.

That first part about a “female that finds her strength” is key when it comes to meeting Kinsley for the first time. She’s a naive girl who has her whole life controlled by her family–and for some unknown reason–so it makes her seem like she isn’t the brightest girl on the planet. But that also provides the perfect opportunity for character growth. More on that below. My point is, thanks to that disclaimer, I was able to have some patience with her character in that first book. I was able to get some understanding for why the situation is what it is.

The same thing goes for the “dark pasts” aspect. This isn’t just a story about a girl deciding if her arranged marriage will work for her–there is so much more going on and this story goes in a direction I never expected. It’s not your everyday contemporary romance (despite how the synopsis for book 1 reads) and that’s what I loved about it.

The Plot:

Like I said, this book always had me guessing! The plot is never what it seems and the twists are fabulous! I was absolutely hooked on this story and easily could have read all three books in one sitting if life didn’t get in the way.

But like the disclaimer said, this series moves in a direction you probably aren’t expecting when you pick up Maybe Yes. It has an edge of danger to it that I think some readers might not enjoy if they prefer their lighter romances that focus on the sexy times and everyday dramatics. There’s nothing “everyday” about this series at all.

The Characters:

The Kinsley we have in book 1 is by no means the Kinsley we get in book 3. Her character progression was fabulous to read. She truly gains her independence and learns that she is more than the beauty her family has told her to bank on her entire life. And what I really loved is that she doesn’t become co-dependent on her romantic interest either. You could have easily removed his role and you would still get this strong heroine at the end.

This series is really about Kinsley becoming her own woman but you need a strong partner as well. I’m not going to name her romantic interest because I think it is a slight spoiler; but I will say that I really loved his character and the role he plays. He was a great partner for Kinsley’s journey because he has one he has to complete as well.

The Romance:

While this happens pretty fast and doesn’t seem like it has too much depth to it, I think it’s easy for the reader to see why these two would work together. Like I said above, they were a great partnership and had fantastic chemistry to boot!

Series Rating: 4/5

Maybe Yes 4/5 | Maybe Never 4/5 | Maybe Always 4/5

overall

Take the disclaimer to heart. If you don’t like suspense or darker romances (like the ones in my similar reads section below), avoid this! But if you want a story that is always twisting with a heroine that truly grows as the story progresses, check it out!

Read if You Like: dark romances, suspense, danger
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, want a lighter read

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Fresh Fridays: He Wants It All (#1) by Marilena Barbagallo

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

He Wants it All Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for He Wants It All (from Goodreads):

Krum Botev has never had anything in life apart from himself. He knows only what he has been taught. Hard, selfish, insensitive, but faithful to the Father, the one who raised and educated him according to the values of the secret society he is part of. No one has ever succeeded in knocking down his armor. No one can touch him outside or inside; no-one except her, who is part of that past Krum cannot forget.

Ambra Livori, a beautiful and wealthy heiress, has always had everything. But nightmares don’t give her a break. They go on showing her the man who ruined her life when she was only sixteen. The memory of him, over time, has become a perverse feeling she cannot tolerate. Just when Ambra decides to learn how to control her emotions, she receives a strange call. Her origins will be questioned and the past will become a terrible present from which she won’t be able to escape. Fighting for herself will be the only solution.

What links Ambra and Krum? But most of all, can two different souls be able to touch each other outside and inside? A secret organization, an uncontrollable passion, a man and a woman destined to clash.

breakdown

Series: He Wants it All; Lui vuole tutto (Italian)
Author: Marilena Barbagallo
# of Books: 2 (He Wants It All, She Wants It All)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be released in English
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild | BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 8, 2017
Source & Format: Author–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good dark romance. I can’t get enough of the secrets, the sexual tension or the drama. They keep me on my toes and I love that.

After reading the synopsis for He Wants It All, I just had to give it a try. The whole notion of a secret organization had me curious to know more about the story and the link between our two leads.

What I Liked:

–The Flashbacks to the Past–

I had a hard time putting this book down! I was completely enthralled by the characters and the situation they find themselves in. We only gets bits and pieces of their shared past at a time and that pushed me to keep reading. It was great putting together all the hints we get along the way to see the bigger picture.

I also liked the character development it provided for our leads, specifically for Krum. It was nice to get the insight into his character and his motivations instead of having him be a complete enigma. Understanding his character helped me appreciate his struggles with Ambra and his back-and-forth nature when it might have otherwise annoyed me.

–The Sexual Tension–

Ambra is a great complement to his character and I loved all their scenes together. They have fantastic chemistry from the start. Their whole “I hate to love you” routine is electric throughout the novel.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Middle–

I will say that the middle of this book did get a little slower for me. Most of that time is spent between Ambra and Krum fighting their attraction–which is all fine and dandy. As I said above, I loved their scenes together.

But I do wish we would have had a little focus on Ambra and the society. Just some little inklings that remind you that there is a bigger story than these two fighting their attraction. We do get those pieces near the end which I appreciate but they could have been hinted at earlier I think.

Notes on the English Translation:

I do want to comment briefly on the English translation of this book. This book was originally written in Italian and the author decided to translate it into Italian. I read the English version.

Unfortunately, I do think a few things were lost in translation along the way and that did alter my reading experience. Some of the sentences were awkward or didn’t make complete sense based on the words they used in the translation. Technically, the sentence is correct but isn’t the way a native English speaker would say it so it makes sentences seem wordier or slighter alters the true point the character is trying to convey.

I had to reread a lot to get a solid grasp on what the characters were trying to say and that ruined the flow of the book for me. All this book needs is a thorough edit in English and it would knock readers socks off! Because everything else is on par with great dark romances!

Note: It looks like a new English Translation is in the works so be on the lookout for an updated version!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While some of my questions were answered, I had about 50 more by the time He Wants it All wrapped up. I can’t wait to see what is next!

My Rating: 4/5

He Wants it All 4/5 | She Wants it All TBP

overall

This was a great dark romance! I loved the secrets and the tension between the leads. It kept me hooked from the start

Read if You Like: dark romances, tragic character pasts, secrets
Avoid if You: dislike dark romance

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Spin-off Saturdays: The Breaking Point by Jay Crownover

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Breaking Point Series is a spin-off of the Welcome to the Point Trilogy

book2 book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Breaking Point

This is a spinoff of the Welcome to the Point Trilogy Series.

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 3 (Honor, Dignity, Respect)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Respect, will be published in Summer 2018
Genre: Adult, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I was really excited to learn that Jay Crownover was returning to the Point. There were so many stories left untold in the original trilogy that I wanted to read and I was afraid I would never get to see them. But never fear, Jay Crownover knows she has created an addictingly dark world and is just as eager to continue these stories.

How Does it Compare to the Original Series?

–Perfect Balance Between Suspense & Romance–

Like the inaugural series, this one strikes the right balance between romance and the suspenseful plot. While the romance is a driving feature of these novels, there is also a fabulously thrilling plot happening as well. Unlike other romantic-suspense novels where your romantic moments are a little sparse (they feel like you are just checking off the romance requirements as you go), these are integral throughout the novel. But they never overshadow the plot itself which is fully developed and not something that is left to the very end to quickly wrap up.

–Romantic Partnerships–

I just love all the pairings in these world. They are so well matched for each other. It isn’t just physical attraction that brings the two leads together. They just understand each other so well and bring out the best in each other.

–Not Your Everyday Heroes–

I like that these characters aren’t your typical romance leads. They aren’t always the nicest people but that saves them from being cliche I think. Their stories are fresh and unique and that wants you to learn more about them. They all are fabulously crafted.

–All The Stories Are Connected via a Sequence of Events–

While each book focuses on a different set of leads, you are still integrated with the world. There’s this overarching plot line that is threaded throughout all the books and you just want to read the next one to see what happens next.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Not particularly. This is just a solid novel and highly entertaining.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have to wait until Book 3 for the one story I am literally dying to read but the little cliffhanger we got at the end of Honor has me excited for Dignity–the story I never knew I wanted.

Series Rating: 4/5

Honor 4/5 | Dignity TBA | Book 3 TBA

overall

I think you will get more out of this series if you read the Welcome to the Point Trilogy first but, if you love anti-heroes and true bad boys, this is worth your time.

Read if You Like: bad boys, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike violence, crime

similarreads

  • Slade by Victoria Ashley (Walk of Shame Trilogy #1)
  • Ignited by J Kenner (Most Wanted Trilogy #3)

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Honor (from Goodreads):

Don’t be fooled.

Don’t make excuses for me.

I am not a good man.

I’ve seen things no one should, done things no one should talk about. Honor and conscience have no place in my life. But I’ve fought and I’ve survived. I’ve had to.

The first time I saw her dancing on that seedy stage in that second rate club, I felt my heart pulse for the first time. Keelyn Foster was too young, too vibrant for this place, and I knew in an instant that I would make her mine. But first I had to climb my way to the top. I had to have something more to offer her.

I’m here now, money is no object and I have no equal. Except for her. She’s disappeared. But don’t worry, I will find her and claim her. She will be mine.

Like I said, don’t be fooled. I am not the devil in disguise… I’m the one front and center.

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Series Review: Kingpin Love Affair by J L Beck

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Indebted (from Goodreads):
It was suppose to be a debt settled, just a price being repaid.
Instead love was born…
…from unpaid dues it bloomed.
See, that’s the funny thing about love, you never expect it.

After losing her mother to cancer a few months prior to graduating, Bree Forbes was finally able to take some time away and enjoy her college days. That all changed in a blink of an eye the moment Bree came home for break. She didn’t expect to find her dad strapped to chair, a gun pointed at his head.

Alzerro “Zerro” King wasn’t a man to be messed with. Women flocked to him and men ran from him. He ruled the mafia with an iron fist and no one ever crossed him unless they wanted to pay the price. He believed the only way to pay for something, if unable to do so, was to do it in blood. Nothing got him harder than stringing someone up, and putting a bullet in their head.

That is until Bree.

One look is all it took for him to know she could pay for her father’s debt in many other ways… Ways that could get him hard.

Could a big city mafia king fall in love with the small town country girl? Would she be able to handle his dark and demanding ways? When push comes to shove, would Bree end up running only to be killed? Or would she sacrifice herself for love?

breakdown

Series: A Kingpin Love Affair
Author: J L Beck
# of Books: 4 (Indebted, Inevitable, Invincible, Injustice)

There is a novella #4.5: Infringe

Book Order: Chronological (Indebted + Inevitable); Connected (Invincible + Injustice)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica, Mafia
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2014 – August 2015
Source & Format: Own & Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

PLEASE NOTE: This review is only for the first two novels of the series (Indebted & Inevitable). Find out why I didn’t read books 3 & 4 below.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Indebted as a freebie on Amazon one day. On occasion, I enjoy a dark romance read–when they are done right. I had totally forgot about this book until I was cleaning up my Goodreads TBR and reread the synopsis: I was really intrigued.

I love stories where someone falls for the enemy or reluctantly falls in love with someone.

The Concept:

You know, I don’t read a lot of books dealing with the mafia. Crime stories yes, but most of them seem to be about motorcycle clubs nowadays. So in a way, it was refreshing to spend some time with the mafia setting.

The Plot:

The story here moves really fast thanks to the somewhat simple plot. And I don’t mean simple in a bad way. I liked how uncomplicated this story was because it gave more meaning to the secrets and twists when they did occur. It was great to just read about these characters as they went through the motions.

I will say that the plot was stronger in Indebted vs Inevitable. Indebted focuses more on the situation whereas Inevitable has slightly more romantic tone to it.

The Characters:

To be honest, neither lead really did it for me. While I understood the reasoning behinds Zerro’s personality, he wasn’t my ideal dark romance hero.

Bree was boring as well. Her emotions are all over the place–which is understandable when you start falling for a guy who essentially kidnapped you–but I just didn’t like her hot and cold approach to things. Her overreactions to certain things and not others bothered me a bit.

As for the rest of the characters–I think my lack of desire to read the next two books shows how much I didn’t really connect with the cast.

The Romance:

The romance here is one that gave me mixed feelings. I’m all for a good forbidden and dark romance but not when it borders on abusive like this one did.

There would be moments where I really liked these two together; then Zerro would have to “show his dominance” and it would just turn me off immediately. Their relationship isn’t healthy by any stretch of the imagination so if you don’t enjoy relationships that straddle the line between abusive and normal–stay away from this one!

Will I Finish It?:

I’m satisfied by the conclusion we get in Inevitable so I have no desire to continue on with the series. I’m impartial to the other leads and while I know they would be quick reads, I would rather spend that time on a series I’m more excited to read.

Series Rating: 3/5

Indebted 3.5/5 | Inevitable 3/5 | Invincible N/A | Injustice N/A

overall

If you are a fan of darker romance and are looking for a quick read, this one might be worth picking up. However, if you want to try your hand at a darker romance–this isn’t the one to try to wet your tastebuds. There are definitely stronger titles out there.

Read if You Like: dark love, mafia, suspense romance
Avoid if You: dislike dark love, can’t read potentially abusive romances

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Fresh Fridays: Killing June (Saved by Sin #1) by May B Bridges

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Saved by Series

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Killing June (from Goodreads):

SEDUCED BY PAIN
At night I’m June, dominating with the whip, even as I crave the hot, searing blow of the cane, myself. I loathe this side of who I am, but I can’t deny it or escape it. And as my clients cry out for me, begging for mercy, I can’t help but want June dead.

By day, I’m Alex Ryan, the good, successful Southern woman everyone thinks I am. I’ve compartmentalized my life to make it bearable, and to get what I want most: revenge. I can have a future with June dead, as soon as I confront the man that terrorized my past.

SAVED BY SIN
Cade Brannon is the local gun for hire, part of the seedy underworld of Dallas, but he may also be my savior. I want his help and he wants me. But Cade refuses to play by my rules and is forcing his way into every one of those compartments that I want to lock away. Now the parts of my life I’ve fought so hard to keep separate are bleeding together and it’s tearing me apart.

I just want to go back to being Alex Ryan. But at what cost am I willing to kill June?

breakdown

Series: Saved by Sin Trilogy
Author: May B Bridges
# of Books: 3 (Killing June, Binding Hope, Revealing Rose)
Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, Binding Hope, is to be published February 2018
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: High \ Kink: Major)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 4, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you St. Martin’s Press!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Killing June at 63%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always a sucker for the line “perfect for fans of ___” and this time it was for fans Laurelin Paige. Specifically, her dark erotic suspense series First and Last. Paige is one author I absolutely adore and read everything for so finding works like hers is a bonus. She has a great blend of suspense, romance and danger and I couldn’t wait to see if Killing June had that too.

What I Liked:

–Air of Danger Throughout–

This story was great at establishing the suspense early on by giving you little tastes of danger. Alex has a mysterious past that slowly gets revealed; Robert is a character who has no limits and Cade is an enigma. It also doesn’t shy away from violent situations–which always gives the reader the feeling of uncertainty in terms of what will happen next. Nothing is predictable.

–Alex–

I really liked her as a character. She has so many layers to her and watching her develop as a character was a treat.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Felt Like Nothing Was Happening–

Frankly, I just wanted a little more from the plot. Once you get past the exposition, I felt like the story just moseyed along, keep its focus on the sexy times. There was just so much untapped potential here!

You have Alex’s mysterious past and her need for vengeance. And I’m all for a delayed reveal but I needed a little taste here and there to keep me interested. What happened to her?! Why is she targeting this guy and why does everyone tell her it isn’t a good idea?

Robert’s character definitely had my attention but I felt like he was a little under utilized. I think I needed a little more conflict from the “villain” instead of just “waiting it out” and avoiding his antagonism by our “heroes”.

Will I Finish It?

I’m not sure. I don’t think it helped that I was working a particularly busy shift schedule at work so I really needed something to keep me interested. But I really did like the characters and I really did enjoy the idea of the plot so I’d like to see how it all ends.

My Rating: DNF

overall

If you want an erotica romance that focuses more on the sexy times and character development, this is it. But if you want more suspense than sex, perhaps look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: erotica, character based stories, dark romance
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM

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Single Sundays: Vanquished by S E Green

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Vanquished (from Goodreads):

For a price, the world’s most powerful people can explore their darkest desires. On a private island hidden in the ocean they may hunt humans for game, attend gladiator-style fights, participate in elaborate orgies, and freely indulge in all the deadly sins within the cosplay of ancient times.

Abducted from their life in Miami, Valoria and her younger sister wake up in this secret society, wherein Valoria is condemned to the fights and her sister is taken away to become a sex slave.

Now “property” of a sadistic tyrant, Valoria joins other men and women captives who are forced to fight and maim for others’ enjoyment, to run in their hunts, and participate in deviant fantasies. And she’s under the cold, watchful eye of Alexior, a hired trainer with his own agenda for being involved in the twisted decadence.

After surviving several near-death ordeals, a defiant Valoria focuses on her training and against all odds soon becomes a favorite. But she fights for one thing and one thing only—to be reunited with her sister and to be freed.

But promises of freedom are sometimes just manipulative lies . . .

**Warning: For mature audiences only**

breakdown

Author: S E Green (aka Shannon Greenland)
Genre: New Adult, Action, Dark
Heat Rating: cool **sexual situations mentioned**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Source & Format: Lola’s Blog Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m pretty happy in my New Adult contemporary bubble. I love my romances but I’m always looking for those non-contemporary reads.

Vanquished appealed to me because it isn’t your everyday story. It has darker vibes to it thanks to the “secret society” and Valoria’s need to fight for her life. I was curious to see what her journey would take to get off the island.

(Also, I didn’t know this until I was writing the review but S E Green is a pen name for Shannon Greenland who wrote one of my favourite NA reads, Shadow of a Girl!)

The World & a Warning:

You can definitely expect a deviant world when you pick this novel up but thankfully, Green isn’t overly descriptive in the scenes. What I mean is you aren’t subjected to any scenes where sex acts are fully described nor are the scenes of violence particularly gory. They get to the point pretty quick.

However, if you are uncomfortable with abusive situations, especially ones involving teenagers and/or children, maybe stay away from this one! Like I said, the scenes don’t go on and on for pages but they are blunt in what is happening and it isn’t always the nicest image to have.

The Plot:

I really liked the action of this novel. Many times the “fight for your life” trope is overshadowed by the politics of the situation or the romance. That isn’t the case here. You get those fights scenes throughout the novel and it gives the story a faster pace.

That being said, the story lagged for me in the middle. While I liked all the developments, I kinda wish the final “putting it all together” ending started a little earlier. It just took a little too long to get there for me.

The Characters:

I really liked Valoria’s spirit. Her drive to save her sister is exactly what I wanted to see. I also liked that she never compromises herself to give in to the temptations of the island. Once she starts to win it would have been easy for her to live a life of relative comfort by being the victor. But she sticks to her morals (as much as she can given the circumstances) and I respected that. She’s one kick ass lady.

The Romance:

This didn’t play as much of a role as I expected (especially when the island has sex slaves–I thought there would be more sexual situations for Valoria). It’s definitely has a slow burn/will-they-won’t-they vibe to it. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure why this gets a romance label on Goodreads because it is such a small factor to the story.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you are looking for a gritty, take no prisoners New Adult action story, this is a great one to read. But if you are uncomfortable with violence, depraved sexual acts and fighting to the death, best to avoid it.

Read if You Like: dark stories, action
Avoid if You: dislike violence, want more romance
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Series Review: Dark Desires by Zara Cox

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Dark Desires Series

 booksynopsis

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beautiful Liar (Formerly Porn Star) (from Goodreads):

People call me many things: CEO, billionaire, bastard. Q.

I love women. I love sex. I love money. I love hot, wild nights with no promise of a future, because a future is one thing I don’t have. I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.

Nobody plans for a life like this. Some of us just end up here.

They call me Lucky, though luck has never been on my side. Before I met Q, my life was a big, twisted mess. Never enough money, never anyone to trust. No way out. With Q, the shame and fear disappear. Instead I feel pure pleasure, and that’s something I’ve never had before. But if what I’ve just learned is true, we’d better enjoy every second together while we can…before our time runs out.

breakdown

Series: I Series or Dark Desires
Author: Zara Cox
# of Books: 3 (Beautiful Liar, Black Sheep, Arrogant Bastard)

Please Note: Beautiful Liar was previously published as I, Porn Star; and Porn Star

There is a novella #2.5 Wicked SOB

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Arrogant Bastard is to be published is to be published in August 2017
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Dark, BDSM, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high  |  Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

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**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ok, I’m not going to lie: the title drew me in. I was browsing through my blog reader when Karine @ Bookshelf Dreaming‘s Release Day Blitz for I, Porn Star (what the book was first published as) popped up. Curious, I clicked on it wanting to know more about the story for a book titled “Porn Star”.

Now, depending on what title’s summary you read (“I, Porn Star” vs “Porn Star” and lately “Beautiful Liar”), the synopses differ but the stories are all the same. My first impression of I, Porn Star was that this is a book about two people falling in love while making a series of porn videos. My first impression of Porn Star was about the same, only there was this added element of suspense with the line:

“I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.”

Hook, line and sinker.

What I Liked:

–It’s A Dark Read–

It’s been a while since I’ve read a great “dark” romance. It’s hard to totally describe what I mean here but I’ll try.

Some dark romances take things that little bit too far in the hopes they’ll achieve shock factor. I often find these attempts make things seem over the top or almost cheesy. Part of the problem is the use of one-dimensional characters that the reader only knows surface stuff about.

However, where Porn Star succeeds is in its character development. These are complex characters–Quinn in particular is extremely layered–and it shows throughout the novel. So it makes their actions seem polished and expected. I didn’t feel like anything was out of character nor did I feel like they were changing their minds on a dime for unnecessary dramatic effect.

–The Twists–

I really liked how things came out of left field here sometimes; meaning there were a lot of great twists that surprised me. There were aspects of each character’s life that are kept secret until the last minute and they really amp up the story and shock you. It’s been a long time since a book surprised me in that respect.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Many Pages–

This is by no means a fast read. There are a lot of pages to get through and it makes the story lag a bit. This book could have easily been 50 pages shorter in my opinion. It just took longer than expected to get to the good stuff (ie the romance and the “mystery”) and I was losing interest just after the halfway point.

I feel like too much time was spent in the exposition. While I appreciate the time taken to get to know the characters and understand their motives, I just wanted to dive into the grittiness of it all. I wanted to start to uncover Quinn’s big plan sooner rather than later. And I also wanted what is described in the synopsis (ie their filming of videos) to happen much sooner than 50% of the way through. Not that I wanted the sex scenes (which were tamer than I expected btw); rather, in the synopsis it seemed like the sex tapes were going to be a major plot point and usually those points are introduced around the 20% mark. I mean, that’s why I am likely reading the book in the first place–that is what’s advertised.

–Insta-Connection Romance–

I’m starting to dislike this insta-connection more so than insta-love. Yes, there is a difference for me even if they do seem pretty synonymous.

Despite the longer exposition, I still didn’t see the connection between Lucky and Q all that much besides their physical attraction. Their romantic feelings seem more implied–like there is some unspoken thing drawing them together. I like things spelled out for me and I didn’t totally get that with the romance.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There is a teaser at the end of the Forever Publishing edition for the sequel Black Sheep so I expect it will come out sometime next year. The choice of character is someone we didn’t see all that much in Porn Star but from what I glanced at in the teaser, it looks like it’ll be just as juicy drama-wise as Porn Star

updates

–March 9, 2017– Book #2: Black Sheep

I went into Black Sheep expecting a dark and twisted story…and that is exactly what I got!

This book excelled in everything I wanted it to. A heartbreaking romance, lots of drama and twisted secrets. It’s probably one of the darkest stories I’ve ever read and I loved that.

For me, this book was a vast improvement over its predecessor. The romance is stronger thanks to a great backstory and it tugs on your heartstrings from start to finish. It is also a source of great drama and intrigue as well. Unlike the previous novel, I found the story never truly lagged. There were great plot and dramatic twists along the way that this book was always suspenseful.

This was a highly addictive read for me and one that met every expectation!

–July 11, 2017– Book #2.5: Wicked S.O.B.

While I loved the drama of Beautiful Liar, I wasn’t totally sold on the romance. So I was eager for this novella to rectify that.

And it definitely did!

For me, I actually got to see why these two are a good match as lovers and as partners in life. Instead of focusing on the antics and drama of the previous novel, you get to watch these characters try to establish a sense of everyday normalcy. It’s all about their relationship and navigating it in a way that works for them. It really grounded these characters for me and improved my overall impression of them as a couple.

But it definitely has that spice you expect from this series. If these two weren’t talking out their relationship, they were physically exploring it.

It also has some great nostalgia to the original novel that brings everything full circle.

It’s a solid novella that has enough heat and romance to satisfy fans!

My Rating: 3/5

Porn Star 3/5 | Black Sheep 4/5 | [Wicked S.O.B.] 3.5/5 

overall

If you want a dark erotica romance that takes its time, this is the PERFECT novel for you. But if you want something quick and dirty, try another novel.

Read if You Like: dark romance, erotica
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM

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Spin-off Saturdays: Kick, Push by Jay McLean

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Kick, Push (from Goodreads):
There’s a single defining moment within every skater.
It lasts only a second. Two if you’re good.
Three if you’re really good.
It’s the moment you’re in the air, your board somewhere
beneath you, and nothing but wind surrounds you.
It’s the feeling of being airborne.

The sixteen-year-old version of me would’ve said it was the
greatest feeling in the world.
Then at seventeen, I had my son.
And every single second became a defining moment. Even the ones that consisted of heartbreak when his mother left us.

Seventeen. Single. Dad.
That’s what my life became.
Yet, every day, I managed to find that feeling of being
airborne.
Or at least I convinced myself I did.
But I lied—to myself and to everyone around me.
Until she showed up; Tanned skin, raven dark hair, and eyes the color of emeralds.

You know what sucks about being in the air?
Coming down from the high.
Sometimes you land on the board and nail the trick.
Then kick, push, and coast away.
Other times you fall.
You fall hard.
And those are the times when it’s not as easy to get back up, dust off your pads and try again.
Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Kick, Push — or Road

There is a prequel novel about two side characters called Where the Road Takes Me. Together, all 3 novels make up the Road Series.

Author: Jay McLean
# of Books: 2 (Kick, Push; Coast)

See above note regarding Where the Road Takes Me

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2015 – June 2016
Source & Format: Read It Review It–eARC (Kick, Push); Kindle Unlimited (Coast)

disclaimer

(Note: I only received a copy of Kick, Push for review. I read Coast via Kindle Unlimited)

Note: Where the Road Takes Me will be reviewed separately.

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I saw Kick, Push on the list of upcoming New Adult Club Read It Review It titles, I was excited! I’ve really enjoyed Jay McLean’s work in the past for its addicting quality. While reading the More Than Series, I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I swooned–basically all the feels you can possibly feel while reading a book and I love that.

What really stood out to me about this book was the premise of a single dad. I don’t read a lot of single parent novels but when I do, they are mostly second chance stories where the mom has raised the baby without the dad knowing and they reunite–or something of that tone. But most of the time they are single moms; which is great but what about all the single dads out there? Plus, I’ve never really read a story about a skateboarder before.

The Concept:

While I don’t think any parent should abandon their child, I feel like women who do get a lot of flack compared to men who do. Maybe society is just more comfortable with the man leaving than the person who carried the child, I’m not sure. However, I don’t like this stigma that all women are expected to be instinctively maternal. So I was worried that this series would relay that stigma throughout its narrative. But I am happy to say that I never really felt like the book took that approach. While you will likely side with Josh once you know the whole story, I didn’t feel like it shamed or glorified the situation in any way and I truly appreciated that.

The Plot:

The story is just as much about Josh as it is Becca and I really enjoyed that. Both have so much growth and depths to their characters that I liked the balancing act between their stories as you read. The mashing of romance, character development and drama make this an addicting series to read.

And like Jay McLean’s other novels, there are just enough twists along the way to keep things interesting and exciting. I didn’t expect this story to go the way it did and I loved it!

The Characters:

Josh is an absolute sweetheart so it doesn’t take much for you to root for him. His heart is in the right place and I loved reading his story.

Becca, wow, what a story she has. It’s heartbreaking and she’s so sweet that it causes you to shed a few tears on her behalf.

Everyone else was great as well. I found the supporting characters did their job to a T and added a depth to the story that makes it so much more enjoyable.

The Romance:

When I first read the synopsis and started the book, I was confused about the line:

“Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.”

Everything starts so sweet and light that when the shit hits the fan, it becomes a huge mess. So the romance definitely leans to towards the darker side of love BUT, I love how it is elaborated on and becomes an integral part of the story. It isn’t there for shock value–it’s there because it is a part of their story and it adds to the depth of who these characters are as people.

Series Rating: 5/5

Kick, Push 5/5 | Coast 5/5

overall

If you want a book series that will make you feel every emotion, look no further my friends!

Read if You Like: New Adult romances, darker romance
Avoid if You: want a lighter, happier story, don’t want to cry

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DNF Series Review: Death in Neverland (Neverland #1) by Heather C Myers

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Death in Neverland (from Goodreads):
In the Neverland, people don’t grow up. Because they’re dead.

Remy Cutler dies, and somehow escapes certain death. She returns to the land of the living with nothing but a ripped gown and a fear of heights.

Two years later, she plans to escape her arranged marriage by stowing away onto a ship in hopes to leave her home with no one none knowing. However, she is found out, and the sailors aren’t happy. Before any damage can be done, she is yanked from her predicament back to The Neverland, a place where death resides – the very place she escaped from years ago. Souls are ferried by her savior. To her, he’s known as Nick, but to The Neverland, he’s the slippery Nicholas Grey.

The more time Remy spends with Nick and his crew, however, the more she realizes he’s shockingly misunderstood. Pirates aren’t all bad the way gentleman aren’t all good. One such gentleman goes by the name of Peter, and he has nothing but power on his mind and revenge against Grey in his heart. And then there are those that are completely indiscernible, like James Hook, a Viking and ruler of The Other World, whose sole ambition is attaining more souls to rule over, no matter what the cost.

This dark retelling of Peter Pan infuses familiar characters created by J. M. Barrie with new characters and Greek mythology. It is the first in a trilogy.

breakdown

Series: Neverland Trilogy
Author: Heather C Myers
# of Books: 3 (Death in Neverland, Love in Neverland, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 has yet to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Mythology, Retelling, Dark, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: November 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

I DNF’d Death in Neverland at 26% (just before Chapter 7). Find out why…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Peter Pan retellings have always fascinated me, especially the ones were Peter Pan is evil. It’s such a radical change from the Peter Pan of my childhood (the number of times I have watched the Disney version, I can’t even begin to count) who is a childhood “hero” to all kids. So when I saw this book had a dark twist on an otherwise light story, I was more than intrigued.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

The idea that Neverland is the Underworld is one that is really interesting to me. It was like a hybrid of Elsewhere meets the Everneath Trilogy to me. I was eager to explore this dangerous world and see the parallels between mythology and Peter Pan. Unfortunately though, I never got to get into it and see how it all plays out.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Overly Descriptive–

If you like rich descriptions of EVERYTHING in your novels, you will probably love this novel. But my mind needs to be stimulated if I am going to read something and because of the descriptions, I constantly found myself wandering. I don’t need to know every single detail of a characters appearance nor do I need to know the exact layout of the ship. Sure it helps, but they are mindless details I will forget by the next chapter that I probably don’t need to know for the sake of the story.

–Remy–

I couldn’t decide if Remy was a dull heroine or an annoying one. Her elitist attitude was annoying for sure but she also didn’t seem to have much personality otherwise. I also got confused regarding her motivation and perception of Neverland. Spoiler: Earlier in the novel she mentions she remembers dying and that her motivation for leaving her arranged marriage is because she has experienced death. Yet when she gets to Neverland again, she doesn’t seem to want to be there. I just didn’t understand what her thought process was. |

–Didn’t Seem to be Going Anywhere–

I have no idea what the actual plot of this story was going to be. Where does Peter Pan come into it or even  Captain Hook? They are briefly mentioned in an early chapter than disappear. I get the need for exposition and setting up the story but this just seemed like nothing was going to happen anytime soon. There was just too much description of the setting, too many characters introduced as once and not enough plot line to keep my attention.

Will I Finish It?

At this point, no. I even read the synopsis of Love in Neverland to see where this plot was heading and it only left me more confused. Where this story is heading, I will never know and I am A-OK with that.

Series Rating: DNF

Death in Neverland  DNF | Love in Neverland  N/A  | Book 3 TBR

overall

This book simply wasn’t for me. I’m picky with my mythology reads. I need a strong heroine I can get behind and a world that captivates me from the get-go. I also feel like this book just needed that little bit of polish to make it flow better. If you like descriptive books that a mythology retellings, than this is the perfect read for you!

Read if You Like: descriptive books, slow plots, mythology
Avoid if You: want a straight retelling of Peter Pan, want a fast plot, dislike description

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