Tag «in love with a criminal»

Single Sundays: Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

Single Sundays: Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

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 Say You’ll Remember Me (from Goodreads):
When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Katie McGarry fan. I read everything she writes because she has this incredible talent for writing stories I love to read. I didn’t know I could enjoy the YA Contemporary genre until I read her Pushing the Limits Series.

The Plot:

There’s a lot going on but in a great kind of way. I never found a dull moment with this story. I got so wrapped up in both Drix and Elle’s personal stories and their time together.

I thought the end was a little melodramatic and I don’t really get the title (and I hate that it puts a Taylor Swift song in my head) but it didn’t dampen my overall love for this story.

The Characters:

This is where Katie McGarry shines. She can write some great teen angst. I think the main reason she does this so well is that she gives her teen leads real problems. These kids aren’t upset about mundane issues; they’re upset with how the world puts them in boxes and how they want to break free from them. They just come across as so genuine and I get so into their stories.

The Romance:

Super cute! I wish we got to see more of them talking as their relationship blossomed but I loved the tension between these two anytime they shared a scene together.

My Rating: 5/5


This book had the right amount of everything. Just a great read to get lost in!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, politics
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Sinful Truths by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: Sinful Truths by Ella Miles

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:

Sinful Truths Series is a spin-off of the Truth or Lies Series

book3 book3


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Sinful Truths

This is a spinoff of the Truth or Lies Series.

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

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


My Expectations?

Without a doubt, Truth or Lies is my favourite Ella Miles series. So I was ECSTATIC that she was planning two spin-off series focusing on characters that I would love to spend more time with. Sinful Truths is the first series to come about and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Compared to its predecessor, I thought this book started a little slower. There were quite a few unanswered questions at the beginning that had me a little hung-up but as things fall into place, the picture becomes clearer and it captivates your attention. The stakes are just as high here and that adds some depth to the plot that I love in Ella Miles’ novels.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Some of those unanswered questions bothered me because it made things seem a little sloppy in terms of the plot. But I should always know that Ella has something mind-blowing in store…

It also took me a lot longer to warm up to the romance. These two have great physical chemistry and they have this whole forbidden love attraction happening, but I didn’t find it as alluring as the original series. I’m hoping the depth I’m looking for comes out in the future novels as we get to uncover more about these characters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea where this series is going or how it will relate further to the original series. But this is a trip I cannot wait to take!


–February 19, 2020– Book #3: Reckless Fall

This installment was a little on the slower side for me. Our leads are at a defining moment and that means we get quite a bit of self reflection. I wanted a little more drama and excitement.

With the original series, Truth or Lies, our leads have the on-going competition lingering in the background. I find this series so far lacks that overarching subplot. Yes, there are inklings that something larger is afoot but I find each novel is a more episodic, ending on a cliffhanger to keep you invested for the next installment. And that’s definitely not a bad thing, I just miss that white-knuckle tension Ella Miles can add to her novels.

–February 27, 2020– Book #4: Tangled Promise

I think this was a pretty crucial book in the series. Our leads have to start making big decisions for themselves and each other and I like how that test their relationship. I haven’t been entirely sold on their bond but this book helped me to see why they are such a great pair together.

My other complaint with the series so far is that there hadn’t seemed to be an overarching plotline but I think that it is starting to take shape here. I’m really excited for the trajectory of the last two books!

–April 9, 2020– Book #5: Fallen Love

Compared to others in the series so far, this was all about the relationships and testing loyalty. And that puts are characters in quite the bind. Overall though, I thought it was dry until the massive twist at the end!

–April 18, 2020– Book #6: Broken Anchor

This was super action packed. Never a dull moment in terms of the plot. It was perhaps a touch over the top but this whole series has been so I expect nothing less. Lots of twists and turns so I liked that I didn’t know how it would end.

Overall: I’m still not the biggest fan of Zeke and Siren’s romance but I can appreciate their loyalty to each other and how far they are willing to go to save the other. Plus, it was great to see returning characters from the original series and have the build up for the next spin-off!

My Rating: 3/5

Sinful Truths 4/5 | Twisted Vow 3/5 | Reckless Fall 3/5 | Tangled Promise 4/5 | Fallen Love 3/5 | Broken Anchor 3.5/5


A promising start to a great spin-off series that will captivate new fans as well as satisfy the returning.

Read if You Like: dark romances,
Avoid if You: dislike mentions of sex crimes and the like



Synopsis for Sinful Truths (from Goodreads):

She saved me.
Pulled me from the depths of the ocean.
Siren—her name fits. She is beauty; her voice heavenly.
But unlike the mythical version, Siren didn’t lure me to my death.
She saved me.
And now, seeing her about to be sold to the highest bidder, I know it’s my turn to save her.


I was raised to always tell the truth, no matter what.
And it’s served me well.
Until today.
Today, I wish I could lie.
Because my truth put me here—about to be sold.
A lie could set me free.
But I always tell the truth, even when I lie.

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Series Review: Reverie by Monica Murphy

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


Synopsis for His Reverie (from Goodreads):

I knew from the moment I first saw her she was the one. The only girl I could ever want.
The only girl I could ever love.
She is light.
I am darkness.
She is innocent.
I’ve done too much.
She is good.
I am bad.
She is my every dream.
I should be her every nightmare.
We come from different worlds. She’s…perfect. And I’m…
Somehow she wants me anyway. So we’ll grasp at what we can. We’re going to make this summer count. She’s my secret. And I’m hers.
The problem with secrets is they never last for long. And when others discover we’re together, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.
Because Reverie Hale? She’s mine.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Reverie
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 2 (His Reverie, Her Destiny)
Book Order: Chronolgical
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2014 – August 2014
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read pretty much anything by Monica Murphy so it’s no surprise that I had the first book sitting on my Kobo shortly after its release. And like many books I own, I don’t get around to them until years later (thought it’s no fault of their own).

I was eager to start this forbidden “New Adult” love story and I made sure to pick up the sequel from my library as my card was expiring to binge read the series.

The Concept:

First and foremost, I would classify this story as Young Adult and not necessarily “New Adult”. To me, “New Adult” stories take place the summer after high school to the first year after graduating college. These characters are still in high school and to me, it reads like your more dramatic YA contemporaries.

One thing I enjoyed about His Reverie is that it is mostly told through Nick’s POV with the occasional diary entry from Reverie along the way. It’s not often that you get a romance novel told solely (or close to) from the male POV so I enjoyed that fresh take.

The Plot:

This story centers itself on a very dramatic first love. Monica Murphy has a knack for writing dramatic YA and it definitely shows in this series. It reads almost like a soap opera but the characters are pretty grounded so it isn’t as over the top as you expect.

The Characters:

I really liked these two. Nick is trying to do his best given the crappy hand life has dealt him but his heart is in the right place. You really want to root for him after all the stuff he has gone through.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure about Reverie at the start. I’m not always the biggest fan of the “innocent” heroine and their accompanying naivety but she really grew on me as the series progressed. I think she has the best character development in the series of the two.

The Romance:

If you enjoy stories about all consuming first loves, this is one for you! I thought these two were cute together but I needed to see more substance to their relationship. To me, they are in lust not love for a majority of His Reverie. It’s a very insta-love connection, one that is mostly based in attractiveness and this unspoken connection. Later on in the book it is implied that they talk and bond over other things but I felt like their feelings developed much too fast for me to be completely convinced it’s true love.

Series Rating: 3/5

His Reverie 3/5 | Her Destiny 3/5


If you like lots of drama in your YA contemporaries and stories about first loves, this is a great (and shorter) series to pick up!

Read if You Like: stories about first love, lots of drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: dislike lots of drama


readingchallenges   2018 Take Control

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Trope Thursday: Crime Families [7]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.

So I haven’t been the most proactive about getting these posts out on a monthly basis but that’s ok! I’m back this month with a new trope!

I dunno how I came up with this trope but it was on my list of topics for the year. I think as a society we have this fascination with the law and the people who break it. You see it everywhere from court trials of infamous cases to fictional TV shows based on crimes (Criminal Minds, Law and Order, CSI) to the people/families who commit the crimes (Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos). I know I’m a sucker for a good “crime family” story and I’ll explain why below.

October’s Trope: Crime Families


crime family is a unit of an organized crime syndicate, particularly the Mafia (both in Sicily and in the United States), often operating within a specific geographic territory. In its strictest sense, a family (or clan) is a criminal gang, operating either on a unitary basis or as an organized collection of smaller gangs (e.g., cellsfactionscrews, etc.). In turn, a family can be a sole “enterprise”, or part of a larger syndicate or cartel.

~Wikipedia (“Crime Family“)


For the sake of this post, I’m sticking with books or series that involve families that perform syndicated crime. I’m not focusing on characters that have had run-ins with the law or simply have a criminal past. I’m focusing on books that have organized groups that perform crimes.

Common Features:

  • Dark love
  • Possibility for Forbidden/Taboo Love
  • Loyalty
  • Violence
  • Crimes
  • Mafia
  • Revenge
  • Motorcycle Clubs
  • Debts to be Paid

What I Like About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I love books that have me on the edge of my seat and I find books that centre around crime families have that suspense to them. You never know who to trust; there’s always the risk of mortal danger; and the stakes always seem to be higher. It makes for a thrilling read.

I’m a sucker for a good villain and I find your crime family stories supply some truly evil and despicable bad guys.

I also like the aspect of family and loyalty to that family. Some of these families can be so dysfunctional that they work so it’s a neat aspect to watch unfold. They say blood is thicker than water and I think that always rings true in novels that focus around crime families.

What I Dislike About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I sometimes find that the books can go too far with the “shock factor” and things seem out of hand. Then that just makes the whole plot seem ridiculous.

While I do enjoy the occasional dark romance, I sometimes find romances in crime family stories really straddle that line of toxic and unhealthy. Yes, fiction is fiction but I don’t overly enjoy how normalized and romanticized some of these toxic relationships get in these books.

Books that Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

Perhaps one of the darkest novels I’ve ever read, I loved this serialized series for many reasons. A kick-butt heroine bent on revenge, a passionate romance and some pretty dire circumstances, this novel will keep you on your toes! It’s the darker side of a motorcycle club.

>>Series Review: Gypsy Brothers


This series is all about family and the loyalty you feel to that family (or maybe why you don’t). There’s just so many layers to this series and it provides ample character development throughout. Add to it an overarching plot with the motorcycle club and you’ve got yourself one wild ride.

>>Series Review: Thunder Road


Others: Son of the Mob  |  Heist Society

Books that Didn’t Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

This series is here for two reasons: 1) the somewhat abusive romance and 2) the boring leads. Sometimes I thought these two had great chemistry and then our “hero” would “show his dominance” and it just turned me off immediately. It was cringe-worthy–even though I had prepared myself for the darker romance.

>>Series Review: Kingpin Love Affair


“You know when teenagers attempt to act like adults and it just makes everything a little awkward? That’s what the plot is in this story.”

Everything here is super over dramatic thanks to the young ages of the cast. It just pushed the drama and the like over the top and made everything seem unbelievable. I think if this was a New Adult Series with older leads, it would have been better. This was definitely a guilty pleasure read for me because it’s like a bad, cheesy TV show.

>>Series Review: Made Men


Others: Once Upon a Crime Family  |  Crossing Stars

Do you enjoy books with the “Crime Families” Trope?

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DNF Series Review: Youngblood by Liz Reinhardt

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


Synopsis for Fall Guy (from Goodreads):

Evan Lennox is going nowhere fast. She’s living with her grandparents after her parents bailed on her, she got kicked out of her posh private school, her ex-boyfriend proved to be the biggest sleaze imaginable, her former best friend is a back-stabber, and her current best friend is stuck in backwoods NJ. To top it all off, one teeny, tiny fire she lit to burn some memories of her ex goes a little out of control and winds up igniting a good piece of a very powerful family’s pecan orchard.

Evan lands her pampered behind in court and gets sentenced to community service. Which she knows she deserves. But the hard labor and humiliation may be her undoing.

Until she meets Winchester Youngblood on the site.

Everything about him is tricky, confusing, not at all what it seems, and so sexy, Evan can’t resist pulling closer. But every step she takes to get to know him gives her more of a reason to back up and put him as far out of life as she possibly can. Because Winch is one hundred percent complicated, and Evan isn’t looking for that. At all. She needs to meet a nice, responsible guy, not share searing kisses with the charming hustler she met after they both got sentenced in court.

But Winch is so much more than what he seems, and Evan finds out that she’s falling hard for the guy everyone underestimates and writes off. And Winch realizes that Evan is the one person who’s ever challenged him to ask for more out of his life, and her courage inspires him to try to be the person she sees when she looks at him. With every single odd stacked against them, Evan and Winch need to find out whether they have what it takes to fall for each other.


Series: Youngblood

This is a spinoff of the Brenna Blixen Series.

Author: Liz Reinhardt
# of Books: 2 (Fall Guy, Perfectly Unmatched)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot *Spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September – December 2012
Source & Format: Own–eBook


Disclaimer: I stopped reading Fall Guy at 17% (Middle of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how I came across this one years ago. I bought The Fall Guy in September 2013, around the time I became interested in the New Adult genre and was getting my hands on anything in the genre so I can assume that is the reason why.

What drew me to this title is the concept of these two meeting in community service after committing crimes. I like romances that start in different ways and I hadn’t come across something like this before.

What I Liked:

–Alternating POVs–

I like my romances to have alternating POVs because it provides better character development. It gives you insight into both characters and allows you to get a better understanding of who they are.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Set in High School–

I thought this was going to take place in college, not while Evan was still in high school. I kinda missed the “kicked out of her private school” part of the synopsis so it threw me for a loop when in the next chapter she talks about going to school. And while Evan is in high school, I think Winch is actually in his 20s. Which is fine but it rubbed me the wrong way because he acts like he is in high school sometimes. He just lacked that much needed maturity.

And you know when high schoolers start acting like they are privileged 30 year olds? Totally got those vibes here and it makes everything seem so over the top.

–I-want-you-I-don’t-want-you Tug of War–

I’m all for sexual tension but this was a little too much for me. They were constantly eyeballing each other’s body parts and getting ready for sexy times between tiny bouts of banter. Then, when they would try to progress further, one of them would pull away knowing that they shouldn’t let this relationship develop any further.

I read some other reviews while contemplating whether or not to continue and lots of people stated this was something that continues for the rest of the novel. I don’t mind back and forth for a small portion of the novel, but the entire thing, it’s just too repetitive for me.

Will I Finish It?

Never mind the fact that I can’t get the second novel through any eBook store in Canada, but this one just isn’t for me any more. So I will not be finishing it.

Series Rating: DNF

Fall Guy DNF | Perfectly Unmatched N/A


If you like over the top YA/NA contemporaries, this is a good one for you!

Read if You Like: soap operas, lifestyles of rich
Avoid if You: want more depth to your romances


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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


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


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


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


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


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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Fresh Fridays: Hellion (Billion Dollar Bastards #1) by Emmy Joel

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:

Billion Dollar Bastards Series

Other books in the series:


Synopsis for Hellion (from Goodreads):

Prison darkens their past. Ink colors their skin. Vengeance fuels their ambition.

Addiction has a name.

Once a coldhearted brawler who ruled the streets with his fists, now a billionaire contractor who rules society with his wealth, Malcolm Bradshaw has only one priority: Pharaoh Construction. Built on lies and ghosts that need to stay silent, it’s his gateway to Texas elite. But when he agrees to restore a centuries-old estate for the wedding of American royalty and long-buried human remains are found during excavation, his self-made kingdom is put in jeopardy. He’ll walk through hell before he backs down from anyone–especially Cate Lois, the introverted archeologist sent to look over his shoulder. From the shyness of her smile to the secrets in her eyes, she’s a drug he knows he shouldn’t touch.

It looks like sin. It talks like temptation.

Mysteries of the past and backroom business dealings don’t faze Cate. Taking what she needs and walking away was never a challenge before. But shadowing Malcolm, who beneath his expensive suits and easy charm is a tattooed son of a bitch, rattles her. What started as a plot to appease her blackmailer and steal a collection of rare artifacts becomes irrevocably complicated the moment Malcolm strips her down to bare skin and naked lust.

And what it doesn’t destroy, it turns into pure, decadent ecstasy…


Series: Billion Dollar Bastards
Author: Emmy Joel
# of Books: 3 (Hellion, Rival, Saint)
Book Order: Connected by Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Rival, is to be published in May 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Mystery
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley via Author–eBook | Thanks so much Emmy Joel!


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked if I was interested in reading Hellion, I was drawn to the description for a few reasons. One being the mystery behind the human remains and the jewels. That sounded positively juicy! Recently, I’ve found myself drawn into the world of romantic suspense (something I never really enjoyed before) thanks to a new fascination with mystery novels (last year it was fantasy novels, I guess 2017 is all about the mysteries). Add to that the danger of 3 criminally-convicted male leads and I was very excited to see what danger this series would bring.

What I Liked:

–Reads Like a Soap Opera–

I don’t know how many people know about the Soap Opera, The Bold and The Beautiful, but it’s this 30 minute soap opera with a tiny cast of larger than life characters. Their lives are all intertwined through romances, family and work, which means there is a ton of drama and secrets.

Reading Hellion reminded me of that show in the sense that you have these characters that are all linked together but you aren’t quite sure how. Everyone is looking out for themselves and everyone has a secretive past. Add in some drama about the jewels, the intrigue about the body and a dash of somewhat forbidden romance and you’ve got yourself one non-stop story.

–Not Full-Blown Erotica–

I don’t mind sexy times in my novels but I wouldn’t say I am a fan of full-out erotica (you know the ones with very little story and a whole lot of sex). So I was a little worried when I saw this labeled as “erotica” and looked at the page size. I didn’t want to read 125 pages of smut and then get a few pages to quickly wrap up the mystery plot (and no shame if you do want that!).

But there was a great balance between the sex scenes and the mystery. It switched the narrative to the actual plot when it needed to and returned to the romance at the appropriate times.

–The Mystery is Woven Throughout the 3 Novels–

I like that the mystery aspect is something that is continued throughout all the novellas. I feel like it just helps tie the books all together besides having the 3 men all be good friends and business partners.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Novella Format–

Obviously from my above comments this story has a lot of positives to it. It has all the right components to make for a great trilogy. However, it does suffer greatly from the novella-size format.

Everything just felt a little underdeveloped to me.

I wasn’t really sold on the romance because I hardly felt like these two interacted with each other. I felt very little chemistry between them and that made their hasty romance even more of an insta-love situation (which I’m not a fan of even though I was expecting it here).

And while the mystery is going to be carried out over the next two stories, I do feel like it was very “rushed” here. I would have enjoyed it being a little more layered and developed.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait to find out the conclusion for the mystery and there is one particular couple that has me curious to see what is in store for them. Maybe the next two will be longer…

My Rating: 3/5

Hellion 3/5 | Rival TBP | Saint TBP


This (will be) a great summer weekend binge series once all the books are out for fans of shorter stories that pack a lot into them.

Read if You Like: romantic mysteries, bad boys
Avoid if You: dislike novella format, want straight-up erotica

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Spin-off Saturdays: Saints of Denver 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:

Saints of Denver Series is a spin-off of the Marked Men Series

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Saints of Denver

This is a spinoff of the Marked Men Series.

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 4 (Built, Charged, Riveted, Salvaged)

There is a prequel novella called Leveled

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2015 – June 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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

This was originally a review of the first 2 novels in the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications.


My Expectations?

To say I was excited for this series was an understatement. I had been anticipating Built before this spin-off series was even announced and I was dying to finally read this story.

Over the last year, Jay Crownover has become one of my favourite authors. Her books each have a unique flare to them but still evoke all the right feels when you read them. I simply devour any of her books and I always make exceptions to put her books on hold at the library despite my self-imposed limits.

So yah, I was just a little excited to finally read Built (and Leveled too!)

How does it compare to the original?

GAH! Built was absolutely fabulous! It evoked so many feels and was so hard to put down!

It had all the charms of the original series (complete with cameo appearances) plus a little something more that makes this series unique. You still get blazing hot passion between these characters and AMAZING character development but there is this little something that makes this series its own. It’s hard to put my finger on what that “little something” is (if you know, please tell me below!) but whatever it is, it sure works!

Anything I Didn’t Like?

That when it was finished it was over? And now I have to wait for the next one?

My Thoughts on Leveled:

I actually read Leveled after I read Built thanks to the way my holds worked at the library but it definitely doesn’t matter when you read it/if you read it at all. Leveled was a great way to wrap up the Marked Men Series and transition readers over to this one. It fills in some of the time gaps and gives you little hints about what to expect in Built.

This was my first Male-Male Romance and I don’t think it will be my last! It was super sweet and felt like a full story despite its novella size. It was a perfect way to bring closure to a certain character that I’ve wanted to know more about since Rule–and Jay Crownover did a great job with it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to see what happens in Charged. There was just enough build-up in Built (pun intended) to make me super excited to see what is in store next! Is it May yet?


–July 31, 2016– Book #2: Charged

This book was sizzling!

Thanks to the little hints we got in Built, I was eager to start this one. It was just as much fun as it was serious and I really enjoyed that. The suspenseful plotline near the end was a welcomed surprise as well.

These two had a great connection that balanced their relationship in a fantastic way. I’m not sure what stopped me from totally loving them together (maybe it was the slight insta-connection they had?) but, regardless, I enjoyed their journey from start to end.

Can’t wait to start the next one!

–October 6, 2017– Books #3 & 4: Riveted & Salvaged

Both these books were focused on couples I’ve been dying to read about since the Marked Men days and they didn’t disappoint. It was just fantastic to see these scorned people finally get their happy endings.

For both books, I felt a little underwhelmed by the dramatic plot lines. In Riveted, it felt like a rehash of an early story at times. Which is fine, just not as refreshing as I wanted. For Salvaged, I think the drama felt a little rushed near the end but it still provided closure so no biggie.

I found the love scenes in both novels were a little dragged out more so than I remember in the previous novels. Not that they are filled with crude detail or anything but Crownover really gives you every thought that runs through their heads so it’s quite lengthy to read. I was reading these on the plane so it was a little awkward to read when someone could read over my shoulder.

Regardless, these were solid books and a great way to wrap up this entire world Crownover has created. As a fan, I can’t say I was disappointed.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

[Leveled] 5/5 | Built 5/5 | Charged 4/5 | Riveted 4/5 | Salvaged 4/5


Another great series by Jay Crownover. Fans of the original series will love this new cast of characters and new readers who love all the feels! Definitely worth a read!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, character development
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance



Synopsis for Built (from Goodreads):
Sometimes you have to tear everything down to build something new…

Sayer Cole is frozen inside. At least, that’s what it’s felt like for as long as she can remember. She’s yet to let anyone past her icy exterior – and the one guy she thinks might melt her heart couldn’t possibly be interested in someone so uptight.

Rough, hard and hot-as-hell, Zeb Fuller has rebuilt his life and his construction business since protecting his family sent him to jail all those years ago. His elegant client, Sayer, makes him feel like a Neanderthal in denim, but despite the many hints that he’s been dropping to get to know her better, she seems oblivious to his charms.

Just as things finally start to heat up, Zeb’s past comes back to haunt him and he needs Sayer’s professional help to right a wrong and to save more than himself. As these opposites dig in for the fight of their lives, fire and ice collide in an unstoppable explosion of steam…

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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


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.


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.


Series Review: Marked Men by Jay Crownover

Series Review: Marked Men by Jay Crownover

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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Synopsis for Rule (from Goodreads):

Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight-A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want—and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, Sad to See Go (2015), Best New Adult
Series: Marked Men Series

There are two spin-off series: Saints of Denver & The Forever Marked

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 6  (Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological

Note: You can read each book as a standalone but they all follow a chronological order of events that may spoil an earlier story if you choose to read a later book first.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Bad Boys, Drama
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2012 – April 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook & Paperback


**This post was originally published as a Series Review of the first few of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Marked Men series is a review blog fan-favourite. Whenever I browse a New Adult fan list, some character or book from this series graces the list. So, I decided to bite the bullet and take a chance with this series despite my hesitation after reading the synopsis for Rule.

My Review:

I was hesitant to read Rule for two reasons: one was that the synopsis gave me the impression Shaw was going to be an airhead (not sure why when I reread it) and two was the fact that Shaw was Rule’s “dead twin brother’s girl”. I’m not a fan of reading stories where one person is unfaithful or there are love triangles; so when I read this line and the line that Shaw has “loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him” I winkled my nose in distaste thinking if she was his twin’s girlfriend, why did she love Rule?

I should have known that there was more to this book than the synopsis. Because the truth of the matter is: this book wasn’t what my first assumptions were–AT ALL! I actually really enjoyed Ruleone of the best New Adult stories I have read in a while in all honesty!

Shaw was a great, strong character and nothing like I assumed she would be; Rule was just plain awesome and together I really could see how they worked. The plot was also unexpected and a lot more suspenseful than I anticipated despite the fact that certain aspects were rather predictable. Regardless of its predictability, I still had a lot of fun reading it and it managed to capture my attention from start to finish.

I was super excited to read Jet simply based on the small taste we get of the leads in Rule. However, when I finally did read it, I felt like something was missing. I felt like there was more focus on their personal individual lives than there was with them as a couple; which was totally fine but not what I was really expecting when I picked up the book. I guess their relationship wasn’t as apparent to me as it was with Rule and Shaw and I just needed that little bit more.  I also felt like this book was acting as a bridge for the rest of the books in the series because we learn more about each of the Marked Men and their histories so it made me really excited to read the rest of the series. So while Jet was a good follow-up, it just wasn’t entirely what I was expecting so I gave it a lower individual rating than I thought I would.

Rome was more on par with what Rule was to me. I laughed, I cried and smiled to myself throughout the whole book. I really felt the relationship with this couple more so than in Jet. There was a good balance between them working on their relationship as a couple and them working on their individual lives. I would say it is my favourite of the series. It also served as the perfect segue to Nash which I immediately picked up after finishing Rome despite exams and a mountain of library books.

Nash was super cute and everything I thought it would be. It was a great blend of character growth and romance and also has a awesome message/theme about self-esteem which I really appreciate. And, no surprise, it made me super excited to read Rowdy.

Rowdy was everything I thought it was going to be though I didn’t find it as addicting as I expected it to be (though I did read it really fast!). I think it was because this couple has a strong history between them so everything felt like it was already established between them. But I still thought it was super cute and I liked the more dramatic/suspenseful elements featured in this novel.

Asa is going to be the last novel of the Marked Men series which makes me sad despite being super, super excited for this novel. I feel like this story has been building since Jet so I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

Future Spin-offs:

My understanding from reading Jay Crownover’s website is that she is planning a similar spin-off series that is set in the Marked Men universe but doesn’t directly involve the cast we see here. One character who makes a very brief appearance in this series is already slated to get a book. I’m hoping that two characters that I would love to see get a book but I guess we will have to wait and see what is in store!

Read my review of the spin-off: Saints of Denver


–June 2, 2015– Book #6: Asa

I finally grabbed a copy of Asa and while I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped, it was still a very solid novel. As I said earlier, Asa’s story has been building since Book 2 and it was nice to finally have it all wrapped up. It definitely picked up near the end in terms of plotline and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

Asa was a great way to wrap up this series but also get you excited for the spin-off series. I already have a few ideas about who the next set of leads will be but I definitely expect to be surprised with some things!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Rule 4/5 | Jet 3.5/5 | Rome 5/5 | Nash 4/5 | Rowdy 4/5 | Asa 4/5


I’ve really enjoyed reading this series because it is so addicting and fun and just really well done! If you like tattooed swoon-worthy heroes and strong independent heroines this is a great series to read!


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