Tag «unhealthy relationships»

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?

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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

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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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Series Review: Hazed & Unfazed by Brittany Butler

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Hazed (from Goodreads):
When addiction and obsession are confused with love, life becomes hazed.

After Taylor Thompson receives an acceptance letter to a university an hour away, she can taste freedom. Her life is controlled by a small town and a strict father. When Taylor finds a local bar that’s hiring a waitress she applies and gets the position. However, one bartender leaves her questioning the acceptance of her new job.

Hayze Clark, the bartender that keeps customers coming back. His dark eyes pierce through your soul, drawing you near. The tattoos bellowing down his arms and the scar lining his left eyebrow keep you at a safe distance; his carefree attitude lures Taylor in. At first she’s excited for the new, perfect distractions to pull herself from misery.

The closer she gets, the more secrets are revealed, lies are told, and tears are shed. Their relationship falters and Taylor is left unsure if she’s willing to pick up the pieces of this broken guy.

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Series: Hazed & Unfazed; or Hazed Series
Author: Brittany Butler
# of Books: 4 (Hazed, Unfazed, Ruined, Damaged)
Book Order: Chronological; Companion (Ruined); Connected (Damaged)
Complete?: No, Damaged is to be released.
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Unfazed)
Publication Dates: January 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC
disclaimer

thoughts

**This review is only on Hazed and Unfazed**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

What drew me to this series was the promise of a romance gone bad. While I love a happy ending as much as the next girl, I want to see more romances that explore the potentially unhealthy aspects of new romance. Especially in the New Adult genre where it always seems like the heroine can change the unchangeable hero just by “loving” him (or vice versa).

The Plot:

Hazed starts like any other NA romance but it quickly takes a darker turn; and I really liked that. It’s not darker in the sense that this romance is taboo but in the sense that it seems normal until you uncover the layers underneath. I liked how it focused on Taylor being insecure about the vitality of their relationship: was this really a good thing for her or was she just repeating the cycle she grew up up?

That made it hard to read because as the reader, you can see what it coming for Taylor a mile away but she justs succumbs to the unhealthiness of her romance again and again. It’s tough and I think if you didn’t know that that is the purpose of the story, you would scratch your head and walk away. But that is the point of the story, no matter how hard it is to read.

Unfortunately, Unfazed doesn’t carry on that momentum too much. Instead, it chooses to focus on how these two cope with dramatic events outside of their control. Which is totally fine and is entertaining to read; it just wasn’t the story I wanted to read.

The Characters:

It’s easy to feel for Taylor once you learn about her circumstances. She definitely hasn’t had it easy. She has some great development in Hazed. In Unfazed, I feel like her growth gets a little stagnant because the focus shifts more to Hayze.

Hayze is a bit of a mystery in Hazed because we only get Taylor’s POV. I know I didn’t have the most positive perception of him because I didn’t like how he acted or treated Taylor. That changes a little in Unfazed and we learn more about his past thanks to his POV being included.

The Romance:

I went into this series not expecting to like the romantic relationship we get and I kept that mentality throughout. But I liked that this story wasn’t padded with unnecessary sex scenes; that it focused on communication with each other; respect for the other person; and trying to see if they really could navigate a relationship with so many obstacles in the way.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I don’t really have an interest in reading Hayze’s story in Ruined (which is Hazed from his POV); I felt like I learned enough about his character and his motivations in Unfazed. BUT, I’m really curious to learn more about Lea’s story in Damaged. I have my own theories but I’m sure I’ll be surprised by what happens.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Hazed 4/5 | Unfazed 3/5 | Ruined N/A | Damaged N/A

overall

I think if you don’t like reading about relationships that are unhealthy, Hazed is a tough one for you to read. But if you like the idea that love has the potential to save someone, this is probably worth your time!

Read if You Like: new adult romance, stories focused solely on romance
Avoid if You: want more spice

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Throwdown Thursdays: Crossfire Series vs Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy

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Since the beginning of time, similar things have always been compared to each other: Pepsi or Coke? Lemon or Lime? Boxers or Briefs? And books are no exception!

Throwdown Thursdays: On the first Thursday of every month I play the ultimate game of “Would You Rather” with books that are inevitably compared to each other. After 3 rounds, I pick my winner. Feel free to join in by commenting, making your own response (just link back) or vote in my poll! Here is this month’s match:

Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day | Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy by E L James

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Round 1: The Hero

Mysterious, Tortured Millionaire vs Mysterious, Tortured Millionaire

Both Gideon Cross and Christian Grey are top dogs in the business world but who wins the hearts of readers?

I’m not a fan of alpha males so I really don’t care for either Gideon or Christian. Their constant need to “own” their respective love interests nauseates me. I’m all for confident characters but these guys are extreme.

I never warmed up to Gideon Cross. I never got his appeal and his intensity was just WAYyyy to high for my tastes. He actually scares me in his intensity and it makes me question the relationship he shares with Eva.

Christian on the other hand, I grew to like. While his intensity was strong in the first book, I really felt like he made some significant progress as the series progressed. Given his past, I understood why he acted the way he did (for certain things). I just felt like he took things down a notch instead of amping up like Gideon did

Winner: Christan Grey. While Christian is intense, he never took things to the extremes that Gideon did.

Crossfire: 0 | Fifty Shades of Grey: 1

Round 2: The Heroine

Experienced, Flawed Woman vs Inexperience, Flawless Woman

Who compliments their male counterpart the best? Eva, equally damaged woman or, Ana, the naive student fresh from collage?

What I initially liked about Eva is that she wasn’t a naive virgin. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it just seemed so cliche in Fifty Shades. Eva has a dark past and I liked that it made her think more about starting something with Gideon. She was also very independent in the first book but that quickly changed as the series progressed. She got wayyy to dependent on Gideon and it became nauseating to read. She quickly fell from a favourite contemporary heroine to one of my least.

Ana on the other hand I always liked. Sure, she was naive and her attributes are so cliche they serve as the definition of contemporary romance tropes BUT, I felt like she really grew as a character (well, as much as she could in a contemporary erotica romance). I appreciated her ability to stop when certain things were going to fast and that she wanted to be an independent woman and not get everything handled for her. I guess I just

Winner: Ana. I just found her to be more consistent in her character delivery.

Crossfire: 0 | Fifty Shades of Grey: 2

Round 3: The plot/Romance

Learning to Love vs Learning BDSM

Two people trying to love each other despite the many obstacles in their way and their own personal demons.

The  Crossfire series is definitely more of an erotic romance than anything else though it has its suspenseful and dramatic moments. The best part is that these elements are present from the first book  whereas Fifty Shades doesn’t really start until the second.  And these books really have a darker element to them as things escalate. Unfortunately, I think this series suffers from over popularity, resulting in the series being 5 books long instead of the 3 or 4 books it was supposed to be. I really feel like the plot lines are being stretched thin and the characters are suffering from it. I haven’t enjoyed the last two books very much (I actually haven’t finished the latest one yet).

As for their romance, I find it to be extremely unhealthy in the later books. It’s a shame because I really saw why they would work together earlier on and I liked them together. However, their dependencies on each other and the extremes they go to later on makes me very uncomfortable. It gives me the heebee-jeebees and it’s really turning me off of this series.

It was the opposite with Ana and Christian in Fifty Shades of Grey. I started being a little creeped out by Christian’s intensity to be with Ana after only briefly meeting but as the series progressed, I was really rooting for them. I felt like their relationship evolved to be more than just BDSM experimentation and Ioved that (no pun intended). Is it a completely healthy one? No, but it could have been a lot worse.

It’s also no secret that the first book of the Fifty Shades Trilogy is basically just sex scene upon sex scene (I think all but two are not described). I’m not a BDSM fan so I really didn’t enjoy exploring this side of sexuality. I definitely liked the later books that focused more on uncovering Christian’s past and other dramatic events and those are the highlights of the series to me.

Winner: Crossfire. While I really don’t like the direction the series has moved, I feel like the earlier books were more fine-tuned when it came to balancing the sexy-times with the more dramatic elements.

Crossfire: 1 | Fifty Shades of Grey: 2

Ultimate Winner: Fifty Shades of Grey

Final Comments: Love it or hate it, Fifty Shades of Grey has done a lot for the contemporary erotic romance genre. Other authors have taken the basis of the trilogy and upped the ante with better writing, more dramatics and hotter romance. So it might not be the greatest novel ever, but, I still enjoyed reading it and appreciate that it never tried to be more than it was (well, the movie tried but that’s a whole other review 😉 )

What are your thoughts: which one would you rather read? Leave a comment below!

Next Time: ebooks vs physical books

Series Review: Fall Away Penelope Douglas

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

 book2 book2 book3 book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Bully (from Goodreads):
My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all.

We’re neighbors, and once, we were best friends. But then, one summer, he turned on me and has made it his mission to screw up my life at every opportunity. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to hide from him. I worried about what was around every corner and behind every door.

So I left.

I spent a year studying abroad and bathed in the freedom of life without Jared. Now I’m back to finish up high school and get the hell out of here forever. I’m hoping that after a year of breathing room, he’s moved on and forgotten all about me.

But even if he hasn’t changed, I have. I’m not interested in avoiding him or turning the other cheek anymore. We’re going to go head to head, because neither of us wants to back down

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Series: Fall Away Trilogy
Author: Penelope Douglas
# of Books: 5 (Bully, Until You, Rival, Falling Away, Aflame)

Until You is Jared’s POV companion to Bully.

There are some novellas in between the novels. Full list here

Book Order: Connected but Chronological

Bully, Until You and Aflame follow Jared and Tate’s story; Rival and Falling Away focus on different characters. However, they all follow a chronological order of events.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: getting Hot
Point of View: First Person (Single POV for Bully & Until You; but Alternate for RivalFalling Away & Aflame)
Publication Dates: February 2014 – April 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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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:

When I read the synopsis for Bully, I flashed back to my memories of elementary school. The whole idea that boys show that they like you by teasing you. Casual “teasing” is one thing but bullying is another–so while I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen in this book, I was curious to see what else was at play.

The Plot:

While I found the romance of the book to be predictable, I did enjoy the ride we take getting there. I didn’t find it boring to read because there are some interesting events that happen and make the book more entertaining. I also found it to be pretty mature considering I went into the book thinking about elementary school romances. There isn’t really anything “elementary” about Tate and Jared’s relationship.

The Characters:

Tate is a strong female character and I’m glad that she develops some backbone as the story progresses. However, I often found that she was trying a little too hard to be tough, so it came across as a little over the top. I also didn’t like how easily she was falling in love with Jared. Given their past, I understood where the feelings were coming from but if I was in her shoes, let me tell you that he would have had to work a lot harder to get back into my good graces.

I think what would have helped me get a better grasp on their relationship is getting Jared’s POV as the events unfold. I’m so used to New Adult readings alternating POV between characters that I almost get disappointed when I don’t get both. Fortunately, Until You is Jared’s POV. I haven’t read it yet, but I am really excited to because I’m hoping to get some more insight into this mysterious character.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to read Rival. It seems like it is going to be really refreshing and Madoc seems like a really interesting character to me. Falling Away also seems really interesting so I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the rest of the series.

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–October 25, 2014– Book #1.5: Until You

I finally managed to read Until You and it was everything I wanted to know about Jared. It was the perfect companion novel for Bully. I loved that it wasn’t just a retelling of Bully. It started a little before and ended a little after Bully but the events weren’t just regurgitated for the sake of creating another novel. It was extremely well done and fans of Bully will love reading Until You. I highly recommend that you read it after Bully but before Rival in order to get a fuller reading experience with all the characters.

–October 25, 2014– Book #2: Rival

Rival though, is my favourite of the series! I read it in one sitting and got so sucked into the story. It was packed full of drama and I loved Madoc and Fallon as characters. I enjoyed their relationship a lot more than Jared and Tate’s in Bully (but reading Until You warmed me up to them more). However, I was a little worried at the start of Rival given their past relationship. But as the book progressed, I was rooting for them all the way. I think it helped that we got both characters POV throughout the novel so you got a better grasp on each of them.

I am super excited for Falling Away and have been since I read Until You and figured out which characters were next.

–February 21, 2015– Book #3: Falling Away

Have you ever finished a book where you can’t determine how you actually feel about it? I’m not talking about indifference or the “meh” factor (as I like to call it) where it was just so-so and nothing all that exciting. I’m talking about a book that had its great moments but had not-so-great moments in between–leaving you happy but disappointed all at once? I give those books the “mixed feelings” tag on Goodreads and I create that tag for this book specifically.

I went into this book with high anticipation because I’ve been waiting for this couple since the first book. So I was a little disappointed that this book takes place a few years later but I let it slide because it probably was for the best.

But when I actually saw them together I had to double check I wasn’t rereading Bully because parts felt like a regurgitation of the first book. The heroine seemed super immature despite being 20 and the hero gave me the creeps a bit because he was a little too alpha. Which often made me feel like the relationship bordered on the unhealthy side of things. It was just that the intensity of their relationship, especially when they really had limited interaction before this book, was a little too extreme for me and it made me uncomfortable to read about. Which is why I had mixed feelings: sometimes I loved the couple together (they did have great chemistry) but other times the angst was just too much for me to take.

I also felt like there were too many things going on with these characters lives. Now, I like a lot of things happening in books and I understand that people lead complicated lives but this just seemed a little excessive to me. It kinda felt like the author decided to pile as much tragedy/drama into these character’s lives as possible and it was overwhelming. I really felt like this book was 50 (ebook) pages too long and I would have enjoyed it more without the super packed character pasts.

I’m not sure how I feel about Aflame. I really don’t think it is necessary but I will read it just to finish off the series.

–June 14, 2015– Book #4: Aflame

I was adequately warned about Aflame going into it thanks to the comments below. not that I had high expectations for it before I was told, but I think it helped me be prepared for what I was going to read.

I have mixed feelings about Aflame because I can appreciate what the author was trying to convey (young people make rash decisions). But I felt like Tate and Jared were thrown into a situations that would cause the most drama even if it wasn’t the most logical; and I found that to be frustrating because there really was no reason for the plotline we get. It also made me realize how immature and reckless these two are and how unhealthy their relationship is. I really hope young people reading this series realize this isn’t what a healthy relationship looks like.

Series Rating: 3/5

Bully 4/5 | [Until You] 4/5 | Rival 5/5 | Falling Away 3/5 | Aflame 3/5

overall

This series takes your classic romance story and puts a darker spin on it. I’ve read a lot of New Adult novels but this series standouts because of the relationship between the characters. The classic “dark secret past” isn’t some random event that happened before the characters met their partner–it happened with their partner so the relationship dynamic is completely different. So if you enjoy darker high school/new adult romances, this is a great read to pick up! But it does lose its lustre as the series progresses and the relationships border on the unhealthy.

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