Double Review: Giving It All and Trying It All (Books #3 and #4: Naked Men Series) by Christi Barth

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Logan Marsh never stays in one place for long. Through his family’s foundation, Logan spends his days traveling to the world’s most dangerous places to deliver disaster relief, which really puts a damper on his sex life—until he reconnects with his high-school crush. Stranded together in the Caribbean, they enjoy a steamy fling that awakens feelings Logan has ignored for too long. But family drama calls him away from her sweet embrace . . . or so he thinks.

Brooke Gallagher loved being a home economics teacher and cheerleading coach. Then an unexpected tragedy forced her to take some time off. Now she’s back in D.C. and despite the intensity of her tropical encounter with Logan, she’s shocked to bump into him again. Logan’s dealing with his own issues (including a newly discovered half-sister) and he’s itching to get back on the road. More than anything, Brooke wants to be there for him. But first, he has to decide if love is enough to keep him in one place.

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Source: Netgalley and Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

**Spoilerish for previous books in the series**

For the better of every calendar year, Logan Marsh is unreachable.  Though he’s a trust fund kid with no financial need to work, Logan has chosen to spend his life serving as a disaster relief worker for his family’s foundation.  Ever since he literally led the rescue effort to find his friends in the Alps, Logan has had a driving need to help others in distress.  For the most part, Logan lives out of a duffle bag and beyond the next disaster, Logan doesn’t do much planning for the future.  The only regret he has about his life is how much he misses when he’s off the grid.  You know, stuff like two of his best-friends getting all attached and entangled in long-term relationships, his father’s illness and impending retirement, and the appearance of a half-sister he knew nothing about.  Yeah, you miss a lot when you’re off the grid . . . . .

Brooke Gallagher just can’t seem to get past the heartache she has experienced since the death of one of her students.  Everyone, including her therapist and parents have told Brooke it’s time to move on, but she is lost in the fog of heartache.  In an effort to “snap her out of it,” her parents sent her on a tropical vacation.  Unfortunately, a hurricane blew in just after she landed leaving Brooke sure she’s never going to catch a break.  But, the universe has a sense of and need for balance which manifests as Logan Marsh stranded in the same airport as Brooke.  Brooke and Logan were the best of friends in high school and she has carried a torch for him ever since.  Maybe a girl can catch a break. . . . .

The unexpected reunion between Logan and Brooke starts out as an agreed upon one-night stand.  Brooke is on the verge of leaving DC and Logan is just waiting on the next natural disaster to pack his bags for another round of off the grid.  But, things don’t always go according to plan which leaves Brooke and Logan spending increasing amounts of time with one another.  With Brooke, Logan feels connected to his life in DC and better able to handle some of the huge changes that are happening in his life.  Brooke isn’t just a sounding board, but a voice of calm and reason; she helps Logan see things from different perspectives which allows him to move forward.  And there’s the spectacular sex 🙂

Brooke cherishes her time with Logan.  They have such a long history which makes their relationship comfortable and familiar.  Their high school friendship has blossomed into something so much bigger, better and that frightens Brooke to no end.  Logan has made it crystal clear, he isn’t a long-term kind of guy and he will be leaving town which just breaks Brooke’s heart.  Rather than tell Logan how she feels, Brooke chooses (yet again!) to keep her feelings to herself and hope all will work out for the best in the end.

The Bottom Line:  Yeah, the Naked Men series is still going strong with the addition of Logan and Brooke’s story.  Logan carries so much guilt that he is nearly crippled by it.  Logan’s need to help is in overdrive which causes him to be blinded to alternative ways to help others.  For Logan, it takes huge changes thrust upon him and Brooke’s support to help him see he van have it all and not also be selfish.  What I enjoyed most about this read is the role reversal.  Logan is sort of the drama queen and Brooke is the steadying force that calms him down and helps him see what his life can be if he is open to change.  In effect, Brooke and Logan are exactly what the other needs and this makes for a very sweet romance.  As you should expect by now, there are also some yummy naughty bits, some drama, and some serious funny in this read.  I told you, the series is still going strong 🙂

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Order. Attention to detail. Never leaving anything to chance. These are the qualities that make Riley Ness such a terrific federal agent . . . and a pain in the ass to everyone else. The only time Riley lets loose is when he’s hanging out with his closest pals. So when he’s thrown together with gorgeous, flighty Summer Sheridan, Riley’s brain tells him she’s a ticking time bomb—but his body doesn’t want to play by the rules.

Riley has to be the most irritating man Summer has ever met. The brooding hunk thinks he needs to teach her a few lessons about real life, while she’d rather show him how to enjoy it. But her BFF’s all but engaged to Riley’s best friend, and besides, their intense physical chemistry is all too real. Summer just needs Riley to try to meet her halfway and take a chance with the one thing that matters: his heart.

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Source: Netgalley and Purchase

My Rating: 4/5 stars

**Spoilerish for previous books in the series**

Riley Ness is the planner among the Naked Men.  He is the organizer, the cautious one, the check-the-supplies-multiple-times guy.  In short, Riley never allows himself or the other ACSs to go or do anything without considering and assessing every possible danger.  Nothing escapes Riley’s critical eye!  What do you expect from a guy who was lost in the Alps as a teenager? 

As an adult, Riley has taken his threat assessment skills to a whole new level.  Though his parents had aspirations of Riley holding a prominent position in some lofty organization, Riley has chosen instead to work in the traffic division of the NTSB.  Along with his team, Riley assesses wrecks and collisions from every angle to determine what caused the accident and if there are any measures that can be taken to prevent similar situations in the future.  Riley is all about safety and he will do whatever it takes to ensure no one else suffers the way he and the other Naked Men did when they were kids.  Riley’s attitude and exactitude haven’t ever caused him problems where the ladies are concerned until he meets Summer Sheridan.

Summer is everything that triggers Riley’s anxiety.  She is reckless, spontaneous, adventurous, and doesn’t give a damn about planning for the future.  Summer’s presence in Riley’s life isn’t going to end anytime soon since the best-friend of Griffin’s girlfriend.  The only thing Riley can do to prevent her from causing a dreaded anxiety attack is to avoid her at all costs.  Trouble is, she smokin’ hot and likes to push his buttons at every available opportunity.  Riley doesn’t just sit there and take it which means he is constantly interacting with Summer and they’re constantly pissing each other off.  Sounds like just the right recipe for some angry/awesome sex, right?

Angry sex is all it should have ever been between Riley and Summer, but as they begin to open up to one another, they find true friendship and the basis of a real relationship.  Both are oxen-level stubborn which means changing even a little or compromising is going to be difficult.  Riley wants Summer to be more careful and Summer wants Riley to be more adventurous.  What ensues are moments of hilarity, sweetness, naughtiness, and pure terror.  Both are stretched way beyond their comfort zone before all is said and done and both are certain that if they aren’t careful, they’re going to lose the best thing that has ever come into their respective lives.

The Bottom Line:  The Naked Men series slows down a bit for me with this fourth installment.  I am still loving the actual Naked Men so much, but Summer is a bit hard to take.  Summer tends to be very aggressive in her attitude and behavior which makes her somewhat off-putting.  With that being said, I ended up liking Summer once all the madness played out and she Riley got to the HEA.  As with each of the reads, the story of the Naked Men as a group has evolved as more women come into their lives.  I like to see this playing out as the romance in each book plays out.  There is evolution among the individuals and the group as a whole which keeps the series both consistent and fresh.

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About the author and where to find her:

christiCHRISTI BARTH earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series.  Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.

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Double Review: Risking It All and Wanting It All (Books #1 and #2: Naked Men Series) by Christi Barth

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Griffin Montgomery helps people. As a teenager, he kept his best friends alive after their soccer team’s bus crashed in the Alps. Now, as a Coast Guard search and rescue pilot, he saves lives with reckless abandon—until he goes too far and earns a lengthy suspension. Working on the Naked Men projects keeps his mind busy, but Griff’s itching to get back in the action. That’s when he finds his latest rescue mission: a pretty wallflower who’s stuck in her comfort zone.

Chloe Widmore doesn’t take risks. As a professional letter writer, she gets enough excitement out of expressing other people’s emotions. So when the hottest man she’s ever seen invades her coffee shop, Chloe surprises herself with how much she wants to be with him. Routines make her feel safe. Griff makes her deliciously unsafe, in so many ways. But falling for him is one risk she might just have to take . . . whether she’s ready or not.

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Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Nothing bonds a group for life like a near-death experience and that’s exactly what happened to the so-called ACS’s, or as they like to think of themselves, the Naked Men.  As teenagers, Griffin, Knox, Riley, Logan, and Josh were good friends, but after surviving a horrific crash in the Alps, they were brothers for life. 

Fast forward a lot of years . . . .

Griffin Montgomery has spent his life helping others.  First, he led his friends out of the Alps and toward safety when they were teenagers, and now he works for the Coast Guard as a search and rescue pilot.  Griffin is known for his daring rescues and though they make for dramatic and newsworthy moments, they often get him in trouble with his superiors.  His latest rescue was not only dramatic and newsworthy, but just enough to get him grounded and on leave.  Which is precisely how Griffin finds himself in a cute little coffee shop hitting on the nerdy girl with all the pens and the smart mouth. 

Chloe Widmore is the very definition of cautious.  Thanks to a horrifying event while in college, Chloe has spent her adult life in the smallest, most controlled and ordered environment she can manage.  She works from home (or the coffee shop!), she limits her circle of friends, and she never travels beyond her comfort zone, ever.  Griffin Montgomery is the hottest man Chloe has ever met, he’s charming and intelligent, outgoing and sophisticated, and far, far more experienced than Chloe, in so very many areas.

On the surface, Chloe and Griffin have little in common except their shared tragedies and wicked fierce attraction.  Initially, Griffin sees Chloe as nothing more than another notch on his considerable bedpost, but that impression fades quickly.  With her sharp wit and even sharper tongue, Chloe challenges Griffin in ways no other woman ever has.  He’s interested in Chloe and before long he even develops feelings for her, but all that comes to a crashing halt when Chloe drops her little bomb, she’s a virgin and wants Griffin to be her first.  With the speed of a cheetah, Griffin hauls ass back to his friends where he unloads the whole mess.  Because of their collective aversion to relationships, help from his friends is probably the least likely kind of help Griffin needs, but with their bond, he has no one else to turn to. 

The Bottom Line: Risking It All is a solid start to Christie Barth’s Naked Men series.  I won’t even lie, I though this book and its title were going to go in a whole other direction and when it didn’t, well, I was still totally satisfied and hooked.  Griffin and Chloe are both strong characters, and while this is, at its heart, a romance, the story is also about Griffin and his friends.  I totally dig how Barth unloaded the whole story of the ACS’s in the very beginning rather than dragging it out, bit by bit throughout the reads.  Their story informs the reader and very much informs the relationship Griffin and Chloe are trying to build.  There are some naughty moments in this read, some serious moments, and some seriously funny moments between the ACSs.  In fact, though I liked the romantic aspect of this read, I liked the dynamic between the men far more.  So much so that I immediately dove into book two, Wanting It All.

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After narrowly surviving a bus crash in high school with his best friends, science geek Knox Davis resolved to become so successful that he could have anything and everything he wants. Now he’s über-wealthy, a huge business success, and a notorious ladies’ man. Knox refuses to limit himself to one woman, but when his latest conquest—a blond beauty from the Alaskan bush—challenges his superficial ways, Knox begins to see the world through her eyes, and finds he likes what he sees.

A nurturer at heart, Madison Abbott wants to put down roots. She left Alaska to meet Mr. Right—and to track down Logan, the half-brother she’s never met. Instead, she finds Knox. Although the sexy-as-sin bachelor may not seem like marriage material, Madison’s starting to think that Knox is The One. But Knox refuses to settle down, especially once he learns that Madison is his best friend’s little sister. Now it’s up to her to convince Knox that she’s everything he really wants. 

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley and purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Holy Hell!!  Darcy Owens is a woman after my own curse word laden heart!! 

Since she was ten years old, Darcy Owens has been in love with her best friend, Sean McKenna.  For a decade, Darcy has sat aside and watched as Sean has dated his way through the greater Boston area without ever stopping to look and see the woman right in front of him.  Knowing Sean is dense beyond belief, Darcy has satisfied herself with simply being his foul-mouthed, hilariously blunt, always there when he needs her, friend.  Yeah, it sucks being friend zoned.

Sean McKenna is the consummate good time guy.  If there’s a party to be found, a beer to be drunk, or a woman to be hit on, Sean is there.  While he may play harder than most, Sean also works hard.  Sean has dedicated his life to building his contracting company and making it nothing short of a roaring success.  He works with a partner (who is also a mentor) and between the two of them, they are ready to tackle a huge, reputation making project.  If Sean, his partner, and the company are going to pull this off, they’re going to need an interior designer and Sean just happens to know one.

When Sean brings Darcy into the hotel project he finally begins to see her as something more than his forever friend.  Trouble is, he still isn’t quite seeing her as a woman, but as a girl who has some really cool skills he needs to get a job done well.  It isn’t until another man on the project starts sniffing around Darcy that Sean finally opens his eyes and gets a mind-blowing look at the woman before him.  What he sees scares the holy hell out of him and he must make Darcy his.  All he must do is overcome several problems including: 1) Darcy’s emotion-laden speech laying out her precise feelings for him, 2) her not telling him about being a card-carrying member of the virginity club, 3) the whole “what if we wreck our friendship” problem, and 4) Sean getting the hell over himself, being a man, and owning up to his feelings for Darcy.  Should be simple!

The Bottom Line: Darcy makes her big, bold, sassy presence known in The Best Part of Me and just rolls on in bigger, bolder, and sassier in Not in My Wildest Dreams.  Since they were ten years old, Darcy and Sean have been perfectly paired.  They have always been there for one another, always supported one another, but never crossed the line from friends to lovers.  Darcy doesn’t push the issue until she is forced to and Sean is just too dense to see what’s right in front of him.  Though the struggles these two go through aren’t pretty they sure do strengthen and solidify Darcy and Sean as a couple.  In fact, I think as the series moves forward, these two are going to become the center of the group and I am all kinds of excellent with that scenario.  Onward and upward, Jamie Hollins.  I’m ready for the next book in the McKenna series.

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About the author and where to find her:

christiCHRISTI BARTH earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series.  Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.

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Double Review: The Best Part of Me and Not in My Wildest Dreams (Books #1 and #2: McKenna Series) by Jamie Hollins

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He’s content to stay in the shadows… Ewan McKenna’s days and nights are filled with drink orders, beer kegs, and noisy bar customers. Now that he’s put his tumultuous past behind him, he’s more than happy to live a solitary existence running his family’s pub. After years of walking the line between good and bad, Ewan now needs control and order to rest peacefully at night. What he doesn’t need is the fiery, intriguing woman who’s found her way into his thoughts and his bed.

She’s ready to step back into the light… Spending the summer getting her hands dirty in her aunt’s garden in a tiny town outside Boston is exactly what Quinn Adler needs. She’s ready to shake off the grief of losing the people who meant the most to her and to start feeling again. What she doesn’t expect is to find a man who sets all her senses on fire. When the pieces seem to be nearly in place for a bright future, everything falls apart.

Will Quinn’s love be bright enough to cut through the darkness of Ewan’s past?  

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

Ewan McKenna is a most unusual man.  Despite his youth, Ewan is perfectly content with his life, something most don’t achieve until they are far older than he.  Ewan runs his family’s bar in Ballagh, a small town outside of Boston, he engages in the occasional bare knuckle scuffle to burn off his aggression, he minds his own damn business, and he has a no-strings-attached woman in his bed any time he desires.  Ewan has sown his wild oats, done some very bad things, and learned from his lessons.  He has no desire to repeat the mistakes of his past and it is that very thing that keeps him from entangling himself with a woman for more than one night.

Quinn Adler has been living in a fog for the better part of a year following the death of her parents and the need to drop out of her graduate program.  Everything Quinn knew and loved was taken from her in a single horrible moment and she’s trying to find her way again.  In that spirit, Quinn has packed her bags and moved in with her elderly aunt in Ballagh for the summer.  She fully intends to immerse herself in the landscaping of her aunt’s property and try and sort out what she wants for her future.  What she doesn’t intend to do is become entangled with a man even if he is the hottest thing she’s ever, ever seen. 

From the beginning, Quinn and Ewan have a prickly relationship that involves a whole host of aggravating one another.  Neither seems to be able to say the right thing and both try to maintain and air of confidence as a way to mask their respective insecurities and attraction to one another.  As the days and weeks go by, Quinn settles into life in Ballagh.  She makes new friends, she learns the lay of the land, and she even tempts cranky pants Ewan into something more than a one night stand.  Just as Quinn starts to believe she can be happy again and have a life beyond her sadness, Ewan pulls the rug out from under her and unsettles her world once again.

The Bottom Line:  From start to finish, this book was all about Ewan!!  Even when he’s got his head planted firmly up his ass, he’s still the strongest and most enjoyable of characters.  He’s gruff and grumpy, strong and sexy, and stubborn and loyal.  In all, he’s just short of perfect.  Make no mistake, Quinn is quite likeable too and she becomes more so as the story unfolds.  Quinn blossoms as the plot deepens, she finds her way out of the darkness and forges a future for herself and Ewan, you know, once he pulls his head out of his ass.  This read is an excellent blend of drama and naughty, past and present without any one aspect overwhelming another.  In addition to Quinn and Ewan is a strong cast of secondary/supporting characters who nicely round out the story.  Overall, I found The Best Part of Me to be a very good start to a new series.

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Source: Netgalley and purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Holy Hell!!  Darcy Owens is a woman after my own curse word laden heart!! 

Since she was ten years old, Darcy Owens has been in love with her best friend, Sean McKenna.  For a decade, Darcy has sat aside and watched as Sean has dated his way through the greater Boston area without ever stopping to look and see the woman right in front of him.  Knowing Sean is dense beyond belief, Darcy has satisfied herself with simply being his foul-mouthed, hilariously blunt, always there when he needs her, friend.  Yeah, it sucks being friend zoned.

Sean McKenna is the consummate good time guy.  If there’s a party to be found, a beer to be drunk, or a woman to be hit on, Sean is there.  While he may play harder than most, Sean also works hard.  Sean has dedicated his life to building his contracting company and making it nothing short of a roaring success.  He works with a partner (who is also a mentor) and between the two of them, they are ready to tackle a huge, reputation making project.  If Sean, his partner, and the company are going to pull this off, they’re going to need an interior designer and Sean just happens to know one.

When Sean brings Darcy into the hotel project he finally begins to see her as something more than his forever friend.  Trouble is, he still isn’t quite seeing her as a woman, but as a girl who has some really cool skills he needs to get a job done well.  It isn’t until another man on the project starts sniffing around Darcy that Sean finally opens his eyes and gets a mind-blowing look at the woman before him.  What he sees scares the holy hell out of him and he must make Darcy his.  All he must do is overcome several problems including: 1) Darcy’s emotion-laden speech laying out her precise feelings for him, 2) her not telling him about being a card-carrying member of the virginity club, 3) the whole “what if we wreck our friendship” problem, and 4) Sean getting the hell over himself, being a man, and owning up to his feelings for Darcy.  Should be simple!

The Bottom Line: Darcy makes her big, bold, sassy presence known in The Best Part of Me and just rolls on in bigger, bolder, and sassier in Not in My Wildest Dreams.  Since they were ten years old, Darcy and Sean have been perfectly paired.  They have always been there for one another, always supported one another, but never crossed the line from friends to lovers.  Darcy doesn’t push the issue until she is forced to and Sean is just too dense to see what’s right in front of him.  Though the struggles these two go through aren’t pretty they sure do strengthen and solidify Darcy and Sean as a couple.  In fact, I think as the series moves forward, these two are going to become the center of the group and I am all kinds of excellent with that scenario.  Onward and upward, Jamie Hollins.  I’m ready for the next book in the McKenna series.

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Paperback

About the author and where to find her:

jamieJamie Hollins was born and raised in rural Northeast Ohio. After graduate school, she embarked on a perilous career in Human Resources where she met plenty of real life characters. When she’s not writing or chasing after her toddler, she enjoys reading and golfing. Jamie lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and their dog, Winston.

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Review: Kiss Marry Kill (Book #1: Iron Clad Security Series) by Sidney Halston

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He’s been chasing a memory . . . It was just supposed to be a regular Thursday afternoon…and then he saw her. Sitting in seat L214, one seat over from his at the baseball game, right next to her douche of a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. An impromptu kiss for the kiss cam, and Jax knew his life would never be the same. Five years and a tour in Afghanistan later, Jax is back stateside running his own private security firm, Iron-Clad, with his best friend. He isn’t the man he used to be… but Megan isn’t the sexy and sweet, though sheltered, twenty-two-year-old he left behind, either. And she’s in trouble.

…but now they’re on the run.  Megan Cruz has made something of herself. She’s turned her dreams of pop stardom into a reality. But when a deadly stalker breaks into her home claiming to be her number-one fan, the only person she can turn to is the boy who got away. But Jax isn’t the same carefree charmer who stole her heart, then broke it when he joined the military. This man is seductive, hard, guarded. And he’ll do anything to protect what’s his.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: ARC from author and purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Can a few short days really change your life?? For Megan Cruz, the answer is a resounding, yes!  In just a few days, Megan walked away from her long-term boyfriend, abandoned her parent’s dream for her of law school, and struck out on her own which turned into a meteoric rise to fame and fortune as lead singer of a wildly popular band.  All because of a crazy hot kiss and a few smokin’ hot days with a soldier on his way out of town.  Yeah, a couple of days really can change your life.

Fast forward five years . . . .

Fame comes at a price and for Megan Cruz that price is a stalker who has not only threatened her sense of safety, but has also threatened her life, and her future with her band.  He’s sent threatening letters, left her “gifts,” and even gone so far as to break into her home.  The last event found Megan shaking in her closet, gripping a large knife, and looking at the man who changed her life five years ago.  In five years, Jax has honed his skills, opened his own security firm, and never forgotten about Megan Cruz.  To see her so shaken and scared, triggers every protective instinct Jax has and it’ll be a cold day in hell before she’s hurt again. 

Within hours, Jax has all but taken over the investigation into Megan’s stalker, moved into her house, and has his team setting up military-grade security in and around her house. He also found a moment amid all the activity to say hello and tell Megan how good it is to see her again after so many years J  For Megan’s part, her world has been turned upside down, and the only thing that makes sense is Jax being back in her life.  This Jax isn’t the carefree, easy to laugh young man of five years ago, but an older, more mature man who is serious, hardened by his experiences, and impossibly sexy.  This new Jax is a cat of a different color and despite the seriousness of her situation, Megan wants to know more about him and be as close to him as possible. 

Jax isn’t dumb enough to try and lie to himself about his attraction to Megan, but he isn’t going to let it get in the way of protecting her.  Her life has been threatened, repeatedly and if he loses his focus, Megan could lose her life.  What Jax doesn’t quite get is the fact Megan isn’t the shy, retiring girl he met five years ago, but a strong, independent woman who has learned to get what she wants.  Yeah, the situation may be seven levels of awful and it’s going to get far worse before it gets better, but Megan is determined to have Jax.   All she has to do is get through his tough exterior and survive a few more crazy attempts on her life.

The Bottom Line: Kiss Marry Kill opens with the drama and doesn’t do anything but continue to up the tension ante throughout.  There’s the sexual tension, the tension between Jax and his team over his protection methods, and the implied tension over the stalker.  With every new incident, I got a little deeper into the drama and crankier and crankier at Jax for not seeing the obvious right in front of him.  Megan and Jax are just one of those fated couples you love to see together . . . . finally!!  Traditionally, Halston has put her characters through the wringer before allowing for their HEA, but Kiss Marry Kill may just take the cake.  Jax is strong, sexy hero who knows how to look after a woman, care for her.  Megan is strong and independent though not dismissive of her situation and how serious it is.  The flashbacks to the past inform the present and help the reader understand just how the relationship between Megan and Jax gets so intense so quick.  This is one of my favorite writing techniques, the past and the present in a single read, and Halston pulls it off without a hitch.  There’s plenty of action, drama, and truly yummy naughty bits to keep the viewer involved from start to finish and hoping for an early release date for the next book in the series.

Pre-Order now for the March 28, 2017 release date: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

About the author and where to find her:

sidneySidney Halston lives her life with one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”–Mark Twain. Or even simpler, “Just Do It”—Nike.  And that’s exactly what she did. After working hard as an attorney, Sidney picked up a pen for the first time at thirty years old to begin her dream of writing. Having never written anything other than very exciting legal briefs, she found an outlet for her imaginative romantic side and wrote Seeing Red.That first pen stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing.  Sidney lives in South Florida with her husband and children. She loves her family above all else, and reading follows a close second. When she’s not writing you can find her reading and reading and reading. She’s a reader first and a writer second.  When she’s not writing or reading, her life is complete and utter chaos, trying to balance family life with work and writing (and reading). But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Release Day Review, Excerpt, and Sweepstakes: Damage Control (Book #2: Dirty Money Series) by Lisa Renee Jones

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The only thing more dangerous than a dark secret is a damaged heart…

Shane Brandon has been pushed to the brink, torn between his corrupt family and his explosive, all-consuming desire for Emily Stevens, who he now knows is not who, and what, she seems. Has he trusted the wrong person? Will she, not his brother Derek, be the ultimate destruction of his family Empire?

Emily tries to run from Shane, but he will stop her, confront her, force her to reveal all — one hot touch and kiss at a time, under every intimate detail of who this woman is, and what she wants, is exposed. But as he tears away the dangers of the unknowns with the woman in his bed, and in his heart, The Martina Cartel has set their sights on his company, his family, and the one piece of leverage they believe he won’t gamble with: Emily.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

There is absolutely no rest for the wicked when it comes to family drama, drug cartels, and a dead sexy woman on the run. 

Damage Control picks up exactly where Hard Rules left off, with Shane desperately trying to understand why Emily is pulling away from him and hiding a boat load of secrets.  Given his inherent trust issues, having Emily deceive him may be a betrayal he can’t come back from. 

In an effort to better understand Emily and what she’s dealing with, Shane forces the issue until Emily unloads absolutely everything.  To say he wasn’t expecting the story he gets is a vast understatement.  Emily is on the run from one of the most ruthless hacking groups on the planet, a group her brother is involved with up to his butt.  To make matters worse, her brother has stopped contacting her and cut her off from the funds needed to support herself or run with if push comes to shove.  If Shane has his way, and he usually does, Emily will not run again, but will stay by his side and let he and his trusted team get her out of the mess she finds herself in.  Furthermore, Emily is still advantageously placed within the Brandon business to spy for Shane and help him sort out the huge mess created by Shane’s evil brother and ruthless father. 

Though she is hesitant to endanger Shane and his inner circle, without her money, Emily is out of options and leaving Shane, given her feelings for him, is all but impossible.  Additionally, Emily is now totally invested in helping Shane right the boat that is his family business and she doesn’t like to leave work undone.  Shane’s father, though grievously ill, still has his head in the game and is intent upon seeing more ill deeds done before he checks out for his dirt nap.  Shane’s brother is becoming increasingly reckless and his dealings with a dangerous cartel are threatening more than just the company.  Emily’s strategic location within the company allows her access to a great deal of information and material which she constantly feeds to Shane and his security team.  The game is certainly afoot, but with so many balls in the air, it’s hard to say who is going to survive. 

The Bottom Line: Before anything else, I want to point out how extremely grateful I was to find a long passage at the beginning of the book reminding me of what came before.  I felt completely refreshed and apprised of the situation before diving into Damage Control and it made this read so much better!  Damage Control is one disaster after another with threats and danger cropping up at every turn.  In between bouts of panty-melting sex, Shane and Emily must navigate the shark-infested waters of their lives if they are to ever be free from all the danger surrounding them.  While a few things get straightened out in this read, Damage Control is really all about building the drama and setting the stage for the next installment of the series.  There is no way in hell the Dirty Money series is over and, if my suspicions are correct, it has a very long way to go.

Excerpt from Damage Control (Book #2: Dirty Money Series):

“You make me remember I need to be good and right in my choices.”

“Do you ever question doing what is good and right?”

“There have been times when I felt like my hand was forced.”

“When you were a lawyer?”

“No,” I say. “I manipulated the law, as does every attorney, but I never broke it. I’m talking about when I’m with my family.”

“Did you go where they lead?”

“Not so far.”

“That sounds like you might.”

“I don’t want to be them.”

“You aren’t them. You don’t have to be them.”

“I know that,” I say. “But you just keep telling me so I don’t forget.” Her legs hit the bed frame and she grips my arms.

I lean into a kiss and she pulls back, her hand pressing on my chest. “Wait. Now it’s my turn to say talk to me. Are you okay?”

“Death happened. The one thing I can’t control. It’s not the night to push me to stop protecting you. Not tonight. Can you do that?”

“Yes. We can.”

“We,” I repeat, “and that word sounds as good on my tongue as I know you’re going to taste. I’m going to make love to you properly. The way I plan to many times in our future.” I reach down and untie her robe, letting it fall open; my fingers sliding underneath just far enough to tease her nipples. They pucker beneath my touch, and her lashes flutter, settling on her cheeks. “But when it’s over, I’m going to fuck you hard and fast again.”

I tug gently on her nipples and she bites her lips. “Look at me,” I order gently.

She opens her eyes, and there is desire in their depths, but there are shadows there too,. I do not think she intends for me to see doubt or uncertainty that wasn’t there before. That I do not like or wish to know ever again. I want it gone. Now. Tomorrow. Forever. I reach up and rip the silk tie from her robe, wrapping it around my hand, before I reach up and caress the robe off her shoulder, letting it tumble to the ground.

“Give me your hands,” I order, but it’s really a question: Does she still trust me?

She studies me for several beats, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly, and I do not know what she sees in mine, but she offers me her hands. I wrap the silk around her wrists then lean in close to her, my cheek against her cheek, my body touching her nowhere else. “Now you’re at my mercy.”

“Yes,” she agrees. “I am.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Warm.”

My lips curve with the answer that is every bit the combination of sweet sexy honesty I’ve come to expect from her. “I’m going to make you warmer.”

“Promise?”

I go still with that question, which on the surface is innocent, but I wonder if it truly is or if it’s about those shadows in her eyes. “I promise,” I say. “And you know, I never—”

“Make a promise you don’t keep.”

“Exactly,” I say, and her reference to my previous words tells me that I am not the only one on a mission of trust, and I intend to deserve hers.

I bring my hands to just above her shoulders, letting them lightly touch her before beginning a slow caress downward. She makes a soft little sound that has my cock thickening and my blood running hot, but I won’t rush this. My lips follow, tracing a line down one of her arms, then the other. I lean and caress my lips over hers, a feather light touch that teases me, if not her.

I take her hands in mine, pressing them behind her head. “Hold them there, for me, so I can see all of you. Understand?”

“You intend to tease me incessantly,” she says, without so much as a hint of hesitation. “Yes. I understand.”

I wrap my arm around her waist and pull her naked body against me, my free hand on hers above her head, our mouths a breath apart. “I intend to lick every part of you, and then do it again, so yes. If that’s the definition of incessant teasing, then yes. I am going to tease you incessantly.” I close my mouth down on hers, my tongue licking into her mouth, a deep, hungry tasting I force myself to end far too quickly. “That was the beginning. Should I could continue?”

“Yes. Please.”

“Please,” I say. “I like that.”

POWER.png

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About the author and where to find her:

lisa renee jones bioNew York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT SERIES, and is now in development by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland, Austin Powers, Must Love Dogs) for cable TV. In addition, her Tall, Dark and Deadly series and The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series, both spent several months on a combination of the NY Times and USA Today lists.  Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 40 books translated around the world. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann.  Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.  Lisa loves to hear from her readers.

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SWEEPSTAKES

Review: Sheltering Lawson (Hope Parish Series) by Zoe Dawson

sheltering-lawson

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Lawson Edwards has been running for so long, she can’t remember what it’s like to have a normal life. Destitute, living in her car, this former stripper hits Suttontowne and lands a job as a waitress at Outlaws. It’s only temporary until she gets enough cash to run again. Staying in one place too long wasn’t safe. But when Ethan Fairchild finds her after she faints from hunger, she just can’t shake him. He’s solid and strong, caring and protective. But Lawson cannot and will not involve him in her problems. There can be no happily ever after for her in his arms.

Ethan Fairchild ran off after a nasty fight with his preacher father who wanted Ethan to follow in his footsteps. It wasn’t what he wanted and the expectations for Ethan’s future were too much. Ethan joined the Marines and after his discharge returned back to his father and Suttontowne. Now he’s busy partnering with Chase Sutton on his Bait and Tackle business and still bartending for Outlaws. When he finds Lawson on the ground outside of Outlaw’s, he helps her and his sixth sense tells him that she’s in trouble. It isn’t until he learns of her current desperate circumstances that he realizes what kind of trouble. He wants to help her, but his heart has different plans when it tumbles for her. Will she trust him and make a stand—with him or flee and break his heart?

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: ARC from author and purchase

My Rating: 5/5

Lawson Edwards has been on the run for the better part of a year.  In that year, she’s done things she never imagined having to do, she’s lived in a way she never knew was possible, and she’s never stopped looking over her shoulder.  As fate would have it, her days of running have come to end right outside the one place in the world she will be able to find all the help she could ever ask for. 

Lawson comes from a wealthy southern family with ties to nearly every level of society.  She’s known wealth and the best money can buy, but in the last year, that’s all been cruelly ripped from her.  Make no mistake, Lawson doesn’t have to have the money, she can get by without it, but she would like to stop running, stop constantly looking over her shoulder in fear, and find a place where she can settle down.  The demons Lawson left behind when she ran are leviathans and facing them is sure to cost her life.   With few options and even less money, Lawson decides Suttontowne is as good a place as any to rest for a bit and replenish her funds. 

As luck would have it, Lawson is just outside of Outlaws and Brax is need of a good waitress.  Lawson needs job and is willing to work to earn her keep.  Within just a few days, Lawson feels right at home and with each new person she meets, she finds Suttontowne feels more like home.  A dangerous feeling for a woman who can’t be found.  Even more troubling is Ethan Fairchild, the sexy bartender who seems to want nothing more from Lawson than to help her.  Ethan is startlingly handsome, has a heart of gold, and may be more dangerous to Lawson’s safety and security than the leviathans from her past.  It’s always risky to become entangled with a man, particularly one who can so easily steal a woman’s heart.

Ethan Fairchild has spent his life in service to others.  Ethan wants his life to matter, he wants to help others, but he isn’t sure his father’s plan for him to become a preacher is the way. For many years, Ethan has put off telling his father the truth of his feelings, but Lawson’s presence and her influence make the procrastination far more difficult.  Being close to Lawson, helping her, and even loving her means being honest about every aspect of his life and facing his father with his truth.  Ethan vows to do just that once he knows Lawson is safe and nothing can hurt her.  As their relationship deepens and Lawson begins to open up to Ethan, he is sure he can help her if she will only allow it.  Getting through to her is a prickly business as Lawson is just about the most stubborn human Ethan has ever met and he’s friends with the Outlaw triplets 🙂

As things come to a head, both Ethan and Lawson know, without doubt they want their respective futures to include one another, but in order for that to happen they must face their issues.  Before Lawson can even board the plane, her past comes roaring into town in the form of her husband and father-in-law.  They come wielding nothing short of ill intent and a tire iron and if Lawson doesn’t keep her wits about her, she’s not going to get her happily ever after. 

The Bottom Line: For the time being, Sheltering Lawson is to be the final book in the long-running Hope Parish series and it is above and beyond a fitting end.  On top of being a really, really good read, Sheltering Lawson also features damn-near every character from the series.  Oh, their appearance isn’t gratuitous, but a part of a well-planned and wonderfully written plot that brings the entire series full circle.  I have loved this series from the very beginning and even this many books in, the plots are still interesting and fresh, the characters still full-bodied and real, and the consistency is just incredible.  This is a series that will absolutely hold up over time and be well worth revisiting!

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About the author and where to find her:

Zoe Dawson

Zoe Dawson lives in North Carolina right on the Mason/Dixon line. She discovered romance in her teens and has been spinning stories in her head ever since. Her heroes are sexy males with a disregard for danger and whether reluctant, gung-ho, or caught up in the action, show their hearts of gold.  Her imagination runs wild with romances from sensual to scorching including romantic comedy, new adult, romantic suspense, small town and urban fantasy. Look below to explore the many avenues to her writing. She believes that it’s all about the happily ever afters and always will be.

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Hope Parish Series News from Zoe Dawson

hopeparishrolopolo

Hi everyone, it’s good to be back here. I’m one of her biggest fans!

I’m piggy-backing on my latest release in the Hope Parish Novels series and Rolopolobookblog’s review—Sheltering Lawson. As many of you may already know, I have twelve books in this series, but six of them are novellas, so I’ve renumbered them to better reflect the stories. Here’s the new breakdown:

Hope Parish Novels

A Perfect Mess, Book #1: My Review

A Perfect Mistake, Book #2: My Review

A Perfect Dilemma, Book #3: My Review

Resisting Samantha, Book #4: My Review

Handling Skylar, Book #5

Sheltering Lawson, Book #6: My Review

Hope Parish Novellas

Finally Again, Book #1: My Review

Beauty Shot, Book #2: My Review

Mark Me, Book #3: My Review

A Perfect Wedding, Book #4: My Review

A Perfect Holiday, Book #5

A Perfect Question, Book #6

All of them are standalone reads, but if you want to be introduced to relevant characters in the latter books and keep the timeline pure, I’ve also listed them here in the order they were written.

A Perfect Mess

A Perfect Mistake

A Perfect Dilemma

Finally Again

Beauty Shot

Mark Me

A Perfect Wedding

A Perfect Holiday

A Perfect Question

Resisting Samantha

Handling Skylar

Sheltering Lawson

Any way you read them, I’m sure you’ll enjoy each word of my emotional, compelling stories. For now, I’m moving my attention to other stories, but I’ve still got some additional characters kicking around inside my head, so the Cajun cousins are an option along with The Outlaws: The Next Generation. Those kids will grow up and have adventures of their own. The possibilities are endless.

All buy links for the entire Hope Parish series can be found HERE

So what’s next, Zoe? I’m so glad you asked! I’m starting a new series: SEAL Team Alpha with four books released this year! That’s four gorgeous, bad ass warriors and their gritty, steamy stories for you all to consume. I will be releasing Ruckus in June, Kid Chaos in July and Cowboy in August. Then, Tank will release in November. And, now for the cover reveal for Ruckus! Yeah, catch your breath and let me know what you think!

About the author and where to find her:

Zoe Dawson

Zoe Dawson lives in North Carolina right on the Mason/Dixon line. She discovered romance in her teens and has been spinning stories in her head ever since. Her heroes are sexy males with a disregard for danger and whether reluctant, gung-ho, or caught up in the action, show their hearts of gold.  Her imagination runs wild with romances from sensual to scorching including romantic comedy, new adult, romantic suspense, small town and urban fantasy. Look below to explore the many avenues to her writing. She believes that it’s all about the happily ever afters and always will be.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Page | Goodreads | Blog