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Series Review: Arrogant by Winter Renshaw

Series Review: Arrogant by Winter Renshaw

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 Arrogant Bastard (from Goodreads):

The last time my father beat me to a bloody pulp was the night he walked in on me with his woman in his bed.

To be fair, she seduced me. And to be honest, I liked it. But to CPS, I was a victim.

They shipped me to Utah where my estranged mother lived with her husband and two sister-wives. And that’s when I met her. My innocent, wholesome, perfect step-sister. Well, one of many. But Waverly stood out because just like me, we’d been fighting a losing battle our entire lives.

Falling for her was a mistake, but shit, it’s not like I ever made good decisions.

F**k being “family.” I must have Waverly Miller, and I won’t stop until she’s mine.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a full-length, standalone, HEA romance. Contains forbidden themes as well as religious undertones not meant to offend. Please be 18+.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Arrogant
Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Taboo, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild [Master]; Kink: mild [Master])
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2015 – November 2015
Source & Format: Own–Kindle; Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I picked up Arrogant Bastard, it was a test of sorts to see if I would enjoy Winter Renshaw’s other works. I had read (and enjoyed) her Rixton Falls Series but I wanted to see if she follows a formula when it comes to her other titles (she certainly doesn’t). I was a little skeptical given the author’s note but I’m always up for a different type of novel. And after reading Arrogant Bastard, I knew that Renshaw was a must read author for me…

The Concept:

I know that the religious note will be off-putting for some people but this isn’t a novel that preaches a certain belief to its readers. Instead, it an aspect of the story that helps drive the plot forward but it isn’t the main focus.

As for the companion aspect, all these stories overlap with each other throughout giving you little insights into what is happening with the other leads. But where Winter Renshaw really succeeds is giving you just enjoy to drive your curiosity yet still withholding enough that the twists are still shocking when you read the actual novel.

The Plot:

Each novel has its own unique plot–with some great twists along the way. They share the “forbidden love” aspect but they also have different tropes at play. Every story felt fresh and even though I had inklings about what would happen in the sequels, I never failed to be surprised. And there is also this air of suspense with these stories as well and I found that to be really addicting.

The Characters:

I was really impressed with the character development in all the novels. Both leads get ample time to grow before your eyes and I think it really helps that we get alternate POVs to help get that inner monologue.

The Romance:

I loved how the romance highlighted every aspect of the novels. It brought out the best in the characters; never once did they lose themselves as individuals because they were a couple (and they easily could have given the circumstances). Each pair is a fantastic match and we really get to see that great connection grow as the story progresses. There was just a perfect balance between the romance and the plot.

Series Rating: 4/5

Arrogant Bastard  4/5  | Arrogant Master 5/5 | Arrogant Playboy  4/5

overall

If you want a fresh take on a romance novel or you are a fan of forbidden romances, this is a series you have to check out!

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, companion series
Avoid if You: dislike novels with religious overtones

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Blog Tour: Slay: Rivalry by Laurelin Paige

Synopsis for Slay: Rivalry (from Goodreads):
Edward Fasbender is a devil.

He’s my father’s business rival, a powerful, vicious man who takes what he wants and bows to no one. I only took the meeting because I was curious. I thought he was going to offer me a job.

But that’s not what he’s after at all. His proposal is much more intriguing, and I see an opportunity. An opportunity to turn the tables and bring down the devil.

I’ve gotten in trouble playing these games before. I know when the risk is too great, when the stakes are too high. I know how to be cold and strong-willed and destructive. I know how to withstand dominant men with arrogant charm and rugged features.

Yet I can’t resist taking on Edward.

And I can’t resist the pull he has on me.

Soon I’m not so sure which side of the battle I’m standing on–if I’m the warrior meant to slay,

Or the one who will be slain.

Other books in the series:
book3 book4

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Slay Quartet

This is a standalone spin-off of the Fixed Series

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Ruin (#2) will be released October 2019
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild | Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 4, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a HUGE Laurelin Paige fan. She writes one of my all time favourite contemporary romance series, Fixed. That’s the series I recommend to everyone who wants a delicious contemporary romance read with a hint of drama.

I’ve been dying for more insight into Celia as a character since the moment we met her in the Fixed Series. She’s fascinating as a character and her storyline later in the series is definitely intriguing. So I was eager to dive in to this.

The Plot:

The beautiful thing about all the spin-offs that Paige writes is that you don’t need to read the previous series to get what is happening. Yes, it helps to know what the allusions mean but you can definitely get by without knowing the full details. But each characters’ story is isolated to their own novels.

As some who has read all the previous novels, it was neat to see how this story fits in with the timelines and put some of the pieces together. And even though I somewhat know what happens with their story, Laurelin Paige is still able to deliver this air of the anticipation. After all, I may know some of the outcome of their relationship, but the journey itself is completely unknown!

And what a journey it is! This book had me hooked from the start! I loved this game of cat and mouse between Edward and Celia. Add to that their explosive chemistry and you’re in for a ride.

The Characters:

As I said before, Celia is one of those characters that I’ve been dying to know more about ever since she was introduced. I was so excited when it was announced she was getting her own series.

There’s just something about getting into a character’s head after only seeing them through the filter of other characters. To get her inner monologue now helps me understand her motivations and actions in a completely new way.

As for Edward—it’s funny but I always pictured him as this really old man from the first series. Probably because he is rivals with Celia’s dad. But oh boy! I’ve seen him in a completely new light and me-likey! He’s everything I want in a darker alpha lead. He’s got this air of mystery and authority but he has these moments of vulnerability that charm me every time.

The Romance:

The tension is palpable between these two! I love enemies to lovers stories because the rivalry just amps every thing up, including the romance.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Is the sequel here yet? I’m feeling a little book-hangover here…

My Rating: 5/5

Slay: Rivalry 5/5 | Slay: Ruin TBR | Book 3 TBR | Book 4 TBR

overall
New and returning fans will love this new, darker romance from Laurelin Paige. It has the right amount of angst, romance and drama to keep you hooked!

Read if You Like: Darker Contemporary Romances, arranged romances
Avoid if You: dislike anti-heroes

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Laurelin Paige

With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Series Review: Truth or Lies by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: Taken by Lies (Truth or Lies #1) 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:

book2 book3 book4 book5 book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Taken by Lies (from Goodreads):

At 16 I was taken.
Kidnapped by a boy I thought I could love.
Then he sold me as if I were property.
For three years I endured.
Beatings.
Torture.
Pain.
I never broke.
I was strong, determined, resilient.
But then one day it happened…I broke.
Setting me free.
I should have run away, found a new life, and started over.
Instead, I returned.
To find the man who sold me.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, 2019 Fave
Series: Truth or Lies

There is a Spin-Off Series: Sinful Truths (#1)

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2019 – September 2019
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

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**This post was originally published 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:

Ella Miles is my go-to author for dark contemporary romances. She just writes thrilling, steamy and more often than not twisted romance; and she never fails to surprise me with her great plots. So when I saw this New Adult series was her next project, I was super excited!

What I Liked:

–Great Chemistry Between the Leads–

I already adored the relationship between Kie and Enzo thanks to the novella (more about that below) but I loved every interaction these two had. There’s so much tension and unspoken feelings between them that I lived for their scenes together!

–The Slow Reveal of the Past–

I don’t want to give much away but if you’ve ever read Ella Miles before you know that she leaves little tidbits throughout her novels as you reach the climax. If I wasn’t already hooked on the romance, I was totally invested in learning more about what happened between the events of Lured by Lies and Taken by Lies.

–Enzo–

Don’t get me wrong, Kie is also great but I want to give a special shout out to Enzo. I’m not one who enjoys overly alpha heroes–even in dark romances–but Enzo is quickly becoming a favourite of mine! Yes, he has alpha tendencies but he also has this great vulnerability that we get from time to time that had me totally gone for his character.

What I Didn’t Like:

I have to wait for the sequels! I just want to binge this series!

When to Read the Novella: Lured by Lies (#0.5):

One thing I love about Ella Miles is that she often writes prequel novellas for her stories so you can get a little taste of what is to come. Lured by Lies provides that little bit of context for the history between the two characters who are our leads. It just brings an edge of anticipation for what’s to come next and I think it immensely increased my enjoyment of Taken by Lies since I had already fallen for the characters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

So excited for what’s to come!

updates

–May 2, 2019– Book #2: Betrayed by Truths

Gah!!!! I’m so in love with this series so far!

I love the tension between Kai and Enzo! Their attraction to each other just leaps off the pages. Enzo makes me swoon whenever he looks at her. I adore his character so much. He is unlike any alpha hero I’ve ever read. And I love how Kai is his match in every way. They are easily one of my favourite romance couples of all time.

And the drama! So addicting. There have been so many great twists along the way that I couldn’t put this book down!

Bingeworthy!

–June 2, 2019– Book #3: Trapped by Lies

Just like the previous novels I was sucked right in. This instalment has a larger focus on character development–and not just on our two leads either–which is great. It makes these already complex leads even more intriguing by adding these additional layers to their characters. And it was great to get more insight into the other characters that are constantly shifting the narrative of this story.

Compared to the rest of the series so far, I felt like this story was slower in the middle. It picks up again near the end as it sets the stage for the rest of the series. We’ve got some interesting developments on the way and I can’t wait to see what tests Kai and Enzo have to pass next.

–July 10, 2019– Book #4: Stolen by Truths

I literally dropped my Kindle in shock. Ella Miles never fails to surprise me, especially when I thought I had things figured out. Very curious to see what happens next!

–August 11, 2019– Book #5: Possessed by Lies

The best way to describe this book is as a roller coaster. So many highs and lows for all the characters involved. It was just a great blending of action, romance, plot and character development. Again, just when I think I have things figured out, we get more curveballs thrown our way. What a story Ella Miles is weaving for us!

–September 17, 2019– Book #6: Consumed by Truths

I always get worried about series that follow the same couple for multiple books but this finale proved that it can be done. I loved that I had no idea what would happen next. It kept me on my toes. It started a little slow but those moments were needed to make the ending more impactful.

My Rating: 4.5/5

[Lured by Lies 4/5] |Taken by Lies 5/5 | Betrayed by Truths 5/5 | Trapped by Lies 4/5 | Stolen by Truths 4.5/5 | Possessed by Lies 5/5

overall

One of Ella Miles’ best dark contemporary stories! It’s deliciously dark and addicting!

Read if You Like: dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, dislike alpha males, dislike mature subject matter
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Series Review: Unforgivable 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 Heart of a Thief (from Goodreads):

I’m the villain in most romances.
I’m a thief that steals happily ever afters.
Except unlike most romances love doesn’t conquer me, I conquer it.
I’ve stolen countless women from unsuspecting men.
Gotten my one night with them.
And then watched the heartbreak that occurs in my wake.
Love doesn’t survive once I enter the picture, if it ever existed at all.
Although, stealing Sloane might be my greatest challenge of all.

Asher is a villain trying to a put a horrible life behind him by doing the only two things he knows to do: surf and steal. Sloane is an angel that runs a charity helping children needing a fresh start. Asher will do anything to have her. There is just one problem…she’s about to marry another man.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Unforgivable
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild in Prick)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2017 – March 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Thief); Author–eARC (Liar & Prick)

Only copies of Heart of a Liar & Heart of a Prick were provided.

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ella Miles is my go-to for dark romances but I really do enjoy her contemporary works as well. So I was curious to see what she would do with a series that seemed to have its darker moments but was more light than complete darkness. I guess you’d call it gray….

The Concept:

I’ll admit I was hesitant about the premise of Heart of a Thief. I’m not one for cheating in my books but I can overlook it when it is used more so as a plot device than just straight up drama. However, I didn’t find it was just used for a shock factor and there is more to this book than unfaithfulness once you see the larger plot unfold.

The nice thing about these novels is that you can read them in any order or simply read the one that strikes your fancy. So if you want to avoid Heart of a Thief because any inkling of cheating is a hard no, then skip it and carry on. And I would suggest skipping Heart of a Prick if you don’t enjoy books with some BDSM elements to them.

The Plot:

Each of these books when in a direction I never expected–but that’s usually the case with Ella Miles’ stuff. I never know what story I’m actually going to get; only that it’ll be something deeper than what the synopsis tells me. If you like drama, you’ll like these novels.

These stories strike that balance between flirty and dirty very well so I was always thoroughly entertained. They definitely have their darker moments but they are pretty tame compared to some of the other stuff out there.

The only plot that didn’t really work for me was Heart of a Prick. I just thought there were too many plot holes to keep me on board with where the story went.

The Characters:

Given the circumstances of Heart of a Thief, I’ll be the first to say it took me a long time to like Asher as a character. But with the first half of the novel told solely from his POV, I found I had enough time and development from him to appreciate his character by the end of the novel.

The rest of the characters in the other books are much more likeable from the start. However, I will say that their development gets a little stifled when the drama becomes centre stage; so I did feel like they were slightly underdeveloped by the end.

The Romance:

All these couples definitely have palpable chemistry and you can see why they are drawn to each other. I would have liked to have seen more conversations and the like between the characters to establish that emotional connection–especially in Heart of a Prick which felt very underdeveloped. But, there is plenty of steamy scenes if you are a fan of those!

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Heart of a Thief 4/5| Heart of a Liar 4/5 | Heart of a Prick 2/5

overall

If you are looking for some unique contemporary romances that have an edge of suspense and darkness to them (but not overwhelmingly so), you should check out some of the novels in this series!

Read if You Like: twists, drama, don’t mind cheating as a plot device
Avoid if You: dislike dramatic twists

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DNF Series Review: Captive of a Commoner by C J Pastore

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 Captive of a Commoner (from Goodreads):

Can love penetrate an abusive past and defeat unwarranted guilt?

Alicia Cesare has a lot to celebrate. A recent Parsons School of Design graduate and recipient of a fashion design award, she embarks to Europe on a quest for independence and recognition. Instead, she finds trouble and mayhem and must accept the help of ex Marine and real estate magnate, Chase Reardon, the only man she’s ever desired. Problem is he barely knew she existed. That is about to change.
Like a lit match to a firework, rash innocence ignites fierce overprotectiveness and a sizzling romance develops, but Chase is a haunted man. Scarred by an abusive past and stalked by the vengeful head of the Russian drug cartel, he struggles to follow his heart while safeguarding those he loves. When Alicia is unwittingly thrust into his web of relentless violence, Chase is determined—at any cost—to protect her from his past.
As each new sexual awakening binds her closer to him, Alicia is convinced she must help the love of her life defeat the ghosts of his past. It will prove to be an unyielding test of courage and stamina.

breakdown

Series: Captive of a Commoner
Author: C J Pastore
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 is to be released
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you C J Pastore!

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Captive of a Commoner (Book #1) at 18% (start of Chapter 8). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good drama-filled adult erotica series. It’s a genre that gets overlooked thanks to the 50 Shades Fandom but as a reader, it’s one I enjoy thanks to the edge of danger/suspense and passionate romances it features. So when I was asked if I wanted to read Captive of a Commoner (which is geared for fans of Sylvia Day and E L James), I said yes.

What I Liked:

–Both Had Mysterious Pasts–

I like uncovering mysteries and secrets about my lead characters. Alicia has something in her past that haunts her and it’s alluded to many times–so I wanted to figure out more. But Chase takes the cake when it comes to mysterious. Thanks to the opening prologue I know his past was no cake-walk and the synopsis hints that it might have some dangerous consequences in store. It all just brings some suspense to the story.

–The Setting–

Most of this takes place in Europe so I loved visiting all these beautiful countries—even if it was only in my head!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Flash Backs to the Past–

Now this may have been a problem with my formatting on my eReader but I often had a hard time differentiating the past and present within a chapter. We kinda jump all over the place. One minute your reading about Alicia doing something in the “now” and then suddenly you flashback to some related story from her past. And that’s fine–it does add to the mystery of the characters a bit–but I just found I would get so lost in the past that when we returned to the present, I forgot completely what we were even doing there.

–Why Did Alicia Even Like Chase?–

I just wasn’t feeling the chemistry between these two. I have no idea why Alicia even liked Chase. I assumed it was based on physical attraction because I think they interacted all of 2 times prior to the start of the main plotline. I just didn’t see the draw between them besides great sex.

Will I Finish It?

No, I’ve read the synopsis for the sequel and where it is going is somewhere I have no interest in visiting.

My Rating: DNF

Captive of a Commoner DNF | Apart N/A | Book 3 N/A

overall

This just wasn’t for me. I think those who likes lots of drama and steam will enjoy this series.

Read if You Like: contemporary erotica romances, sexy times
Avoid if You: want deeper romantic connections

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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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Series Review: First and Last by Laurelin Paige

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

First and Last Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for First Touch (from Goodreads):
When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven’t spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what’s more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.

Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she’s drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she’s forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: First and Last
Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (First Touch, Last Kiss)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Suspense, Mystery
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: major; BDSM: Mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 29, 2015 – June 14, 2016
Source & Format: NetGalley–eARC

disclaimernetgalley

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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 was asked by St. Martin’s Press to read the new Laurelin Paige novel, I thought it was a joke, pinched myself and responded immediately to say YES! Paige’s Fixed Trilogy is one of my all time favourite Adult Contemporary Romance trilogies (and it is also one of my blog’s top viewed review posts) and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an addicting contemporary read. So when I read that her newest series took on a darker contemporary edge, I was so there!

What I Liked:

–The Mystery–

I don’t read a lot of romance suspense novels because I find they don’t have a great balance between the plot and the romance (one is favoured more than the other) and they are terribly predictable. NOT THIS ONE!

I loved its unpredictability! It kept me on the edge of my seat and trying in vain to figure out what was going to happen next. There were so many little twists and things at play that it pushed me to keep reading.

–The Romance–

I’m not the biggest BDSM/Kinky romance fan and I liked that it wasn’t really present in the Fixed Trilogy. Here, it is definitely present and initially this worried me. However, I think it really works well for this story. It doesn’t feel out of place or simply added for shock factor. Nor does it take away from the main plot either or focus on some innocent virgin stepping in to the “dark side” of things. It adds a depth to the characters and the plot; so even if it isn’t my favourite plot device ever, I can appreciate what it does for this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I didn’t Immediately Love Emily–

That’s a bit of a lie. I actually really liked Emily in the first two chapters but I admit that she lost me a bit in the middle when more of her character’s past was revealed. I felt like I had interpreted her to be one way and all of that was shattered when I got further into her story. Maybe I was just a little judgmental when certain things about her past were revealed but I think a majority of it was simply that I didn’t know the full story.

When the suspense-aspect of the plot goes on a mini hiatus in the middle of the novel (the only time I really felt it lag), I liked that it helped you understand more about Emily’s character. Her relationship with Amber in the past is revealed a tiny bit at a time and you learn other things about her past. And I’m happy to say that by the end of First Touch, I really like Emily as a character and could appreciate the choices she makes.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Gah! The way that one ended!!! I didn’t see that coming and I can’t wait to see how everything unfolds in Last Kiss!

updates

–June 8, 2016– Book #2: Last Kiss

I was really excited to pick this one up! Given the ending of First Touch, I was dying to know what happens next!

I found this novel moved fast, in an addicting, I-need-to-know-what’s-next kind of way. Seeing everything unfold was a well worth it and kept me motivated to read. I would have finished this book in one sitting if life wasn’t in the way!

I felt like everything was on point with this novel. The character development was stronger, the relationships with characters as well as the plot in general were at their peak. Combined, they all kept me on my toes trying to figure out what really happened to Amber and company.

What held me back from a 5/5 was the romance in this one. While I loved the sexual tension, the BDSM style of Reeve and Emily’s relationship really had me concerned. Definitely seemed more unhealthy to me than previously but eventually it was expanded upon in a way that satisfied me. However, I do think some people will not enjoy their relationship despite the great dramatic plot.

Overall, it was a fantastic way to wrap up this duology and I can’t wait for the next Laurelin Paige novel!

but

My Rating: 4/5

First Touch 4/5 | Last Kiss 4/5

overall

While I wasn’t blown away with First Touch, I definitely feel like this story is building to a conclusion that will blow my mind! It’s a dark, dangerous and sexy ride that fans of J Kenner and Maya Banks will love without the heavy duty BDSM scenes or elements.

Read if You Like: romantic suspense, undercover lovers, dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike kinky romance situations, drug use

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Series Review: Without a Trace by Ally Bishop

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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Buy Inside the Lines  |  Buy Crossing the Line  |  Buy Tracing the Line  |  Buy Outside the Lines

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Inside the Lines (from Goodreads):
What happens in love might destroy you…

Or remake you altogether.

I make a living offering men and women their ultimate fantasies…as submissives of the mysterious Mistress Hathaway.

I’ve never surrendered to anyone. That’s not the way it works. Or rather, not the way I operate.

But when the gorgeous Fin MacKenzie shows up in my life, he throws everything out of balance.

Now I’m not sure who I am anymore, and I’m questioning everything.

What woman can turn away from a gorgeous Scotsman, especially when he sets her body on fire and her heart ablaze?

I have to stop it…us. I can’t keep going like this. It will ruin everything I’ve worked so hard to build.

Who am I if I surrender to him? Worse yet, who am I if I don’t?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Best Adult Contemporary 2015
Series: Without a Trace
Author: Ally Bishop
# of Books: 4 (Inside the Lines, Crossing the Line, Tracing the Line, Outside the Lines)
Book Order: Connected

Reading Order: In terms of chronological events, the books should be read as Crossing the Line, Inside the Lines, Tracing the Line then Outside the Lines

Complete?: Yes, possible spin-off series in works
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild, BDSM: mild [Inside the LinesTracing the Line, Outside the Lines])
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2015 – November 2015
Source & Format: Upgrade Your Story–eARC  | Thank you!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was contacted to review the latest in the series, Tracing the Line when I realized I had Crossing the Line already on my Kobo. Taking that as a good sign that I would be interested in potentially reviewing this series, I decided to fulfill the request.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a straight Adult Contemporary Romance, but these books had everything I like in their synopsis: plenty of heat and unconventional situations that promised some interesting drama. They aren’t very long (~200 eBook pages), so these books were the perfect end-of-midterm-time books to dive into after two stressful weeks.

Book order:

I was told by the agent that contacted me to read Crossing the Line first and then read Inside the Lines and Tracing the Line afterwards. This is because the events of Inside the Lines actually take place after Crossing the Line despite Inside the Lines being published first.

Of course, you don’t have to read these books in any order as they work as standalones in their own right. I think you just get more out of the experience if you read them in chronological event order.

The Plot:

These books all have the same basic premise: female heroine discovers more about herself through a brand new relationship. I was worried that that meant she was going to lose herself to her new relationship (you know, become one of those Bella-Swan-I-Can’t-Live-Without-Him sufferers) but those fears were for naught.

These books have a great tone of female independence but recognizing what it means to be an equal partner in a relationship. Something that I strive to look for in my romance novels. They are also very sex positive which is also great and I like the message the books promote.

There are also some interesting plot twists along the way. I never felt like I was reading a regurgitation of the previous book because each of the leads has her own “issues” to work out and the situations they find themselves in are different. These books were just as much fun as they were about dealing with serious issues.

The Characters:

Like I said before, I found all the heroines had unique personalities that helped make the book their own. It was great watching them develop and become independent.

As for the “heroes”, I really liked them too. They were great catalysts for change but didn’t totally consume the heroine in any way or smoother her character development. All and all, they were are fantastic, equal partners for the girls and I really appreciated that.

The Romance:

I was really hesitant to start Crossing the Line simply because the synopsis hints at a very fast, pretty much love-at-first-sight type of situation–basically my least favourite romantic trope ever. However, once I started reading, it didn’t really feel like that to me (much to my relief). Sure, the romance happens fast but I definitely saw the connection these two had. It made sense to me that they would be drawn together and so it didn’t really bother me that they were falling fast. It also helped that Ella recognized the situation and acted accordingly. Overall, I really found their story to be very addicting to read and that really surprised me given my preconceived expectations going into it.

And the rest of the books where the same way. They all have a strong initial connection but that connection really develops as the story does so it was easy for me to see why all these couples would work out in the long run.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope there are a few more books in this series. There are two characters in particular that I would love to see have their own stories (or perhaps, story?). (I was told by the agent that contacted me that there is a new book called Outside the Lines that will be published in the near future!)

updates

–December 23, 2015– Book 4: Outside the Lines

This book just hit all the right notes for me. I thought there was a fantastic balance between character growth and the romance. There was plenty of steam to keep me satisfied but there was also the right amount of character stories. I loved watching Blue’s journey to find herself. Her story is heartbreaking but so well done and realistic. I thought her story was told beautifully and it definitely the strongest of the series (at least I think so). I also like how it links back to the previous novels. It felt like the best way to wrap up the story of the Trace sisters (though I hope we get those spin-offs soon!).

The romance was also strong and I loved how well they worked for each other. and I thought her romantic match was just perfect for her. It complimented Blue’s story in the best way possible.

Series Rating: 4/5

Inside the Lines 4/5 | Crossing the Line 4/5 | Tracing the Line 4/5  |  Outside the Lines 4.5/5

overall

One of the most balanced Adult Contemporary reads I’ve read in a long time. These books aren’t dripping in BDSM or alpha males; rather they focus on the heroine’s development and the start of a great romantic partnership–they just happen to be loaded with lots of sexy scenes. Highly recommended for those who want a quick and satisfying adult contemporary romance read.

Read if You Like: Adult Contemporary Romances, sex positive novels
Avoid if You: dislike adult contemporary romances, erotica

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DNF Series Review: Fifth Avenue by Yates & Crews & Hewitt

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 Avenge Me (from Goodreads):
Austin Treffen was born into a world of privilege, but behind its gilded doors lies a corruption so sordid New York’s elite would never believe it – especially as his infamous philanthropic father is at its core! With everything he believed in shattered, how can Austin take down his father – risking his family name and those he loves – without any proof?
Until one earth-shattering night with Katy Michaels unlocks not only their deepest, most passionate desires but also the key to bringing Jason Treffen’s reign to an end. But with an intense sexual attraction that combines a heady mix of exquisite pleasure and sublime pain, will they satiate their thirst for revenge and each other…or lose themselves forever in the darkness?

breakdown

Series: Fifth Avenue Trilogy
Author: Maisey Yates (Take Me & Avenge Me); Caitlin Crew (Scandalize Me) & Katie Hewitt (Expose Me)
# of Books: 3 (Avenge Me, Scandalize Me, Expose Me)

There is a FREE prequel novella, Take Me–see notes below

Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot, BDSM: mild
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May – July 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

NOTE: I did not read Scandalize Me or Expose Me. Find out why below..

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw Take Me as a freebie for Kindle so I decided to  download it: who am I to refuse a guy in a suit? But what actually sold me on reading this series is the little blurb for the series on Goodreads:

Ten years ago one devastating night changed everything for Austin, Hunter and Alex. Now they must each play their part in the revenge against the one man who ruined it all.

I LOVE revenge stories. I love all the secrecy, forbidden feelings and drama. They make for fun reads and this on in particular looked like it would live up to those expectations.

Plus, my library had the book set so why not?

The Plot:

Sigh… Avenge Me was a huge disappointment. Never did I think I would be upset that a book had too much romance BUT I underestimated a Harlequin Romance.

It’s unfortunate that the focus was on Austin and Katy’s relationship and not on the task at hand: bringing down Austin’s dad. Sure, that plotline was there but it was buried under numerous mild BDSM sex scenes. I was hoping for a book more along the lines of Heated by J. Kenner, which balanced the sexy times with the mystery of the plot, but Avenge Me definitely wasn’t in that league. I guess I should have known when the publisher is “Harlequin” but it’s been so long since I’ve read one that I guess I forgot.

The Characters:

Katy and Austin were nothing new to me. I also didn’t really like them separately or together. Austin was too controlling and Katy–who showed independence and drive at the start–gave in wayyyy to easily. Sure, I can cut Katy some slack considering she has had to raise herself and her younger brother from a young age so the appeal that someone else would “take care of her” makes sense for her character. I just didn’t like how fast everything happens.

The Romance:

I can get over the fact that Katy gives up her virginity to a guy she’s talked to for 5 minutes. While I don’t really respect that, I understand that, hey, the “romance” has to start somewhere (it’s fiction). What I didn’t understand was how she knew she liked to be “dominated” in the bedroom when her previous sexual encounters were pretty much zilch. I dunno, maybe I’m just used to the skeptical heroine being introduced to the BDSM world by an experienced older male and liking it after she’s experienced it.

It was just a little too insta-connection for me with the two of them. I also got real tired of the sex scenes real quick.

Notes on the novella:

Because I had the boxset and Take Me was listed first, that’s what I read first. I would read it first because it shows you the event that inspires the “revenge” in the actual novels. It’s a shame it isn’t a full novel because I really love the story of these two leads but for a novella, I thought it was well done.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I expected too much from what are essentially extended novellas. I love the premise but hate the execution. If you love lots of sexy times and little plot, this is a great series for you!

Read if You Like: harlequin romances, lots of sexy times
Avoid if You: don’t like insta-connections, want more plot

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  • Heated by J. Kenner (Most Wanted Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: Most Wanted by J. Kenner

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

Series: Most Wanted Trilogy
Author: J. Kenner
# of Books: 3 (Wanted, Heated, Ignited)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: hot (BDSM: Mild) (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

While I didn’t love how the Stark Trilogy ended, I still really loved the world and writing J. Kenner created–so I wasn’t giving up hope yet on her works. Hopefully the plan for this series to keep each couple contained within their own individual book would eliminate the problem of over-extended characters and storylines that wrecked the Stark Trilogy. Believe it or not: not every erotica romance about a billionaire and his girl needs to be a solo trilogy 😉

First up in this line up is Evan and Angie. Evan is briefly (and I mean very briefly) introduced to us in the Stark novella, Take Me. It wasn’t enough to peak my interest but I admit I was interested in how things where going to unfold about two chapters into Wanted once I started reading it. Evan and Angie have a cool spin on how they know each other: he’s quite a bit older than her (maybe 5 or 6 years) and is very close to her favourite uncle so she is completely off-limits. I’ve read about the heroine being in love with her older brother’s BFF but never this particular case. Needless to say, the sexual tension is there and it isn’t this “I just saw you now I need to have you” tension either. You can tell that they have a connection that isn’t just conjugated from thin air in the span of a minute.

However, I didn’t appreciate being reminded of this connection and her “want” of him constantly (it would be a fun game to count how many times “want” is used throughout the book because it is a lot!). Even worse was that it was reiterated using different words within a few sentences of each other. I found the first half of the book was a lot of regurgitation on Angie’s unrequited feelings towards him so nothing really happened. It’s a shame because I think the side plot that happens more in the last third would have been a lot more fun to play with earlier in the story.

Heated focused more on the plot right from the get-go. I loved how it started with the mystery and how Sloane described everything. It made things seem more suspenseful and gave the book a different feel from the previous novel. Unlike Wanted, these two characters don’t know each other so the relationship is one of those insta-connection ones; though it wasn’t too over the top. The middle of the novel diverts away from the mystery plot-line and focuses more on their relationship so I liked seeing them connect on that level. I definitely enjoyed it more than Wanted.

I’ve been waiting to read Ignited since Wanted when we got introduced to the two leads. Unfortunately though, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. The BDSM element is much stronger in this novel as it deals with a dominate-submission relationship: which I don’t like reading. I also wanted to see their relationship expanded a bit–they both sort of jumped into bed with each other and I wanted more sexual tension between them leading up to that moment. I just didn’t like the execution of this novel which means I gave it a lower individual rating (3/5 stars).

One thing I really love about Kenner’s work is that it isn’t totally sex-based and it isn’t overly descriptive or flowery in language. There actually is a story and not every other page is a sex scene. As for the BDSM, it is really quite tame. If you want a series that has more extreme BDSM and lots of sex, read Maya Banks’ Breathless Trilogy instead of this one.

Conclusion:

I didn’t love this series but I enjoyed reading it. It’s lighter on the BDSM stuff which I appreciate but I wish it had more plot to it. I guess I just missed the drama that I expect from contemporary romance novels; and while this book had it (and I loved the criminal, darker edge to it), it just wasn’t enough to satisfy me. So if you want a book with more sex scenes and a dash of plot on the side, this is probably a good one for you to read!

Rating: 3.5/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No

Similar Reads: Rush by Maya Banks (Breathless Trilogy #1) and Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard Series #1)

Synopsis for Wanted (from Goodreads):
He is everything I crave, all I desperately want—and he is everything I can’t have.

Evan Black embodies my every fantasy. He is brilliant, fierce, and devastatingly handsome. But he is also headstrong, dangerous, and burdened with secrets.

My family warned me to stay away, that I could never handle Evan’s dark dealings or scarred past. Maybe I should have listened. Maybe I should have run. But our desire is undeniable, and some temptations you just can’t fight.

And from the moment we touch—the passion between us consuming us both—I know that I will never be the same.

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