Review: Control (Book #1: Shamed Series) by Laura Marie Altom

Title: Control Series: Book #1: Shamed Series Author:  Laura Marie Altom  Format: Kindle Edition, 286 pages Published: September 16, 2014 by Loveswept  ASIN: B00J6YBOM4

Title: Control
Series: Book #1: Shamed Series
Author: Laura Marie Altom
Format: Kindle Edition, 286 pages
Published: September 16, 2014 by Loveswept

Purple Goodreads


Never again. Fleeing her hometown to escape an abusive marriage, Ella Patton swears she has surrendered to a man for the last time. But while living under a new name, she meets a kind, handsome stranger who seems different—and will be moving on soon, making Ella reckless enough to break her rules. With a kiss, the stranger opens the door to desires Ella believed she would never know. Then he makes an unexpected proposal.

A dot-com billionaire from humble beginnings, Liam Stone is a man whose past has made him compassionate yet guarded—much like the beautiful, secretive woman he stumbles upon in a remote Southern town. Though he intends only a dalliance, when the time comes to return home to San Francisco, Liam cannot bear the thought of leaving her behind. But when he tries to entice her to join him, he finds the tables turning dizzingly fast. Suddenly a little seduction becomes a huge battle for one thing: control.

Source: Netgally

My Rating: 2-3 stars

My Review:

Let me say from the beginning what the character, Ella Patton endures is beyond disgusting and I in no way mean to belittle or demean (nor pretend to understand!) the experiences of abused women. With that being said, I simply don’t understand the appeal of this book nor these characters.

When Ella Patton escapes her abusive husband, Blaine she has no intention of every seeing him again. As far as Ella is concerned having a crap job at Wal-Mart and barely getting by is totally worth being able to sleep every night knowing her husband can no longer get to nor harm her. Ella allows only a few to get close to her and even those few have no idea who she really is or what she has endured. Though Ella’s life certainly isn’t ideal, she is safe and with every dollar she manages to save, she is one step closer to moving even further away from her abuser. Ella understands completely that she is broken and will likely live the rest of her life alone.

Liam Stone never intended to be stranded in a small town in Arkansas but when his plane unexpectedly needed repairs he decides a few days off the radar is just what the doctor ordered. Though he is used to the very, very good life, Liam finds himself in a rat hole of hotel and taking most of his meals at the local Wal-Mart snack bar. Liam’s first encounter with Ella is unlike anything he has ever experienced and his second is one of the most profound of his life. Within 24 hours, Liam makes it his mission to make Ella his no matter what it costs him. To be fair, Liam is a stone cold billionaire and there is very little in the world that he can’t afford. No matter what Ella’s conditions are, she will be returning to California with Liam.

Though his proposition doesn’t go exactly as planned, Liam convinces Ella to board his plane and return with him to his homes (!) and life in California. For the first time in his life, Liam is considered something far beyond a casual fling and it scares the living hell out of him. Ella is ridiculously skittish and though she discloses some of what has happened to her, she keeps a great deal to herself. Ella wants to be close to Liam but his attitude and actions often make that very, very difficult. Ella’s own skittishness and insecurities also come into play on a regular basis making their relationship a virtual powder keg. From the beginning, Ella and Liam hold back from one another causing problem after problem to arise. Ella has no idea how she fits into Liam’s world and Liam has no idea how to manage his very intense feelings.

Over a very, very short period of time Ella and Liam go through the wringer. Ella’s baggage is enough to fill a warehouse, her decision-making skills are based solely on self-preservation and, her ability to trust is non-existent. Liam is a child in a man’s body who is, at this stage in his life and career not used to being denied anything. Assuming Ella will simply fall into line with his grand plan, he often blunders with her when he doesn’t get his way. Liam can throw a serious fit and the results are often far more damaging than he anticipates.

The Bottom Line: In an effort to be completely fair to the author, even in ARC form this book is well-written and has little to complain about from a purely technical perspective. With that being said, the best and only truly good part of this read for me is the explanation of Ella leaving her abusive husband. From this point forward, it all went downhill for me. What Ella and Liam put one another through is well and truly ridiculous. Between all the secrets they each keep, the stupid stunts each pulls and, all the extraneous crap with the minor characters, this read becomes a hot mess from the beginning. Which begs the question, why did I keep reading? The easy answer is, I really don’t like DNFing books that Netgalley has been gracious enough to gift me.

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Double Review: Alaina Claiborne and Blackwood Crossing (Books #1 and #2: British Agent Series) by MK McClintock


Title: Alaina Claiborne Series: Book #1: British Agent Series Author: MK McClintock Format: Paperback, 2nd Edition, 257 pages Published: January 8, 2013 by Trappers Peak Publishing LLC   ISBN: 0615742505

Title: Alaina Claiborne
Series: Book #1: British Agent Series
Author: MK McClintock
Format: Paperback, 2nd Edition, 257 pages
Published: January 8, 2013 by Trappers Peak Publishing LLC
ISBN: 0615742505

Purple Goodreads


How far would you go to avenge your family and save the one you love?

In nineteenth-century England, Alaina Claiborne had a loving family, a cherished friend, and devoted servants. She spent her days riding across the grassy hills of the English countryside, joyful and at peace.

Then tragedy strikes and her world is forever changed. Searching for those responsible is her only focus… until she meets Tristan.

Tristan Sheffield, a man of many talents, searches out those who don’t want to be found. His past is filled with secrets and deeds he would rather leave deeply buried. However, when his life unexpectedly entwines with Alaina’s, he soon discovers they share more than a mutual desire to catch a murderer.

On their hunt for a man driven by greed, Tristan and Alaina find that love is the greatest weapon against evil, and they’ll stop at nothing to survive.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Alaina Claiborne is my first MK McClintock read and I have to say, I am quite taken with this author. This read has all of the things I love in an historical: a brave, determined and well-ahead-of-her time heroine, a wonderful setting, an excellent plot and, a hero who is just as good as he is bad. Here’s the skinny:

Alaina: Though she seemingly has the perfect life, Alaina is haunted by a past she just can’t quite remember. All she really remembers is being thrown from the carriage, a voice and, her best friend and parents dying. For ten years Alaina has tried to move beyond that most awful night and has found solace in her home and horses. All is right in Alaina’s world until her long-lost best friend’s family home is bought and a handsome stranger moves in.

Tristan Sheffield: Though he is a peer of the realm, Tristan often eschews (that was a big word for me :)) his title in order to work for the government as a sort of spy. Tristan and his crew (read: friends) are very good at gathering information, taking down criminals and, remaining in the shadows. It doesn’t do a spy any good to be known to any and all.

The Plot: From the moment this book opens you know there is something smelly in the state of Denmark. Alaina’s calm and mostly peaceful life is on the verge of being upended as she begins to remember the horrible night that claimed her parent’s lives. Tristan and Alaina figure out quickly they are not only after the same result – figuring out what happened to her family – but are extremely attracted to one another. With their common goal as a unifying force, the two embark on a harrowing journey that involves a fake marriage, a trip across the ocean, multiple injuries and, Alaina kidnapped on more than one occasion. With every step closer to the truth, Alaina and Tristan understand that they cannot be without one another and no matter the cost, they will fight for the truth and each other. As the plot reaches its climax, things get awfully dicey, the big bads are revealed and Alaina has a few surprises of her own for Tristan.

The Bottom Line: I really enjoyed this read and was taken in by it instantly. Alaina is definitely a lady but she is also strong, cunning, clever and, determined to solve the mystery of her family. She faces a great many hard truths and bears up under each new revelation and does what has to be done in order to achieve justice. Alaina is quite the surprise on several occasions and I found myself rooting for her more and more as the plot unfolded. Tristan is dashing and daring, strong and sexy and, totally willing to give up the life he has known for years in order to be with Alaina. I like how Tristan and Alaina work so well together and truly become a partnership; they are so good together and their relationship really does enhance the overall read. The mystery and the suspense are just right for this read and with the supporting cast of characters, this is a well-rounded read.

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Title: Blackwood Crossing Series: Book #2: British Agent Series Author: MK McClintock Format: Paperback, 283 pages Published: June 2, 2014 by Trappers Peak Publishing LLC  ISBN: 0991330609

Title: Blackwood Crossing
Series: Book #2: British Agent Series
Author: MK McClintock
Format: Paperback, 283 pages
Published: June 2, 2014 by Trappers Peak Publishing LLC
ISBN: 0991330609

Purple Goodreads


If you had to make a choice, would it be loyalty or love?

Torn between loyalty to her family and refusal to marry a laird she despises, Rhona Davidson accepts a dangerous proposal from a man she knows only as Blackwood.

Leaving behind a life of leisure, Charles Blackwood bravely serves his country with honor and the skill of a trained British agent. When his newest case returns him to the wild Highlands of Scotland, he is faced with a choice between killing a man and saving the only woman he has ever loved.

Charles and Rhona join their lives, only to discover that their choices will result in bloodshed, unless they can uncover a truth long buried, deep in the Highland soil. 

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

My Review:

Round two of MK McClintock’s British Agent series is better than the first and I thoroughly enjoyed the book one, Alaina Claiborne! Blackwood Crossing is the story of Rhona and Charles, two former lovers who are together again but under the most terrible of circumstances.

Rhona Davidson has always known her father hates her but she never thought he would stoop so low as to marry her off to the man that murdered her mother. In an effort to protect his investment, Rhona’s bastard of a father has asked for an escort from his home to her future husband’s. When both Rhona and Charles realize what is being asked of them they each try to play their roles and deny what they feel for one another. The first time Rhona met Charles, he was on a mission and was forced to lie about his identity and his endeavors but he never lied about feelings for her. For the first time in his life, Charles was in love and when he returned to England, he fully intended to have Rhona with him but her bastard father (I really can’t stress enough how awful he is!) intercepted Charles’ letters and effectively separated the two. For far, far too long Rhona has assumed that Charles only wanted her for the purpose of completing his mission and once he was able too, abandoned her.

From the moment the trek to the wedding begins, things just don’t add up for Charles. When the group (including Tristan!!!) is attacked, their boss is less than forthcoming with information, Rhona’s brothers are threatened and, the story of her mother’s death is called into question, everyone involved knows there is more to the story than simply marrying Rhona off. Charles is used to danger and intrigue but when Rhona becomes involved he wants nothing more than to protect her and for the first time in his life, doesn’t give a damn about completing a mission. The problem is, Rhona is awfully determined to figure out what really happened to her mother and what her brothers are involved in. If there is a way to salvage what is left of her family (excluding her bastard father, of course!) Rhona intends to find it even if it means (often) defying Charles and risking her own safety.

Once again, McClintock doesn’t give her characters much of a chance to breathe and once the plot starts unfolding things really get good. Charles and Rhona (and the rest of the crew from book one!) set out to discover just how deeply disturbed one of her brother’s really is, just how greedy her father truly is and, how well and truly loved her mother was prior to her death. The uncovering of the truth is exactly what Rhona needs to have some measure of peace and once everything and everyone are put into their proper place, Charles desperately hopes Rhona will find an added measure of peace with him.

The Bottom Line: For as much as I liked Alaina and Tristan from the first installment of this series, I liked Charles and Rhona more. Rhona is a whole new level of determined and confident and I love that in my heroines. Given the time and place, Rhona should be all kinds of demure and only interested in finding a husband but instead, she is determined, intelligent and fiercely independent. Rhona doesn’t need a man but she wants Charles and he is an excellent match for her strong will and personality. From start to finish I enjoyed this read with its cast of solidly constructed characters, a plot that involves murder, intrigue and secret societies and an HEA that is well-deserved for both characters. Needless to say, I am absolutely on board for the third installment of this series, Clayton’s Honor which is due May 15, 2015 and is already available for pre-order. Yes, I totally one-clicked 🙂

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“Ms. McClintock weaves a thick tapestry of mystery and romance in her historical setting . . . Multiple twists and unexpected alliances hook the reader into her complex tale . . . Bravo Ms. McClintock!”- InD’Tale Magazine

“This is a wonderful book with suspense to keep me on the edge of my seat and surprises to keep me guessing. The main characters—a feisty heroine and a strong, gentle hero—are just the kind I l love and the villains are worthy of being hated.”

-Verna Mitchell, author of Somewhere Beyond the Blue

“For avid readers of historical romance, you will not be disappointed. The book has all the elements you love – suspense, mystery, murder, intrigue, adventure, high-speed chase, and romance all wrapped up in the everyday lives of 19th century aristocracy in England and Scotland.”

-Donna McBroom Theriot, reviewer at

About the author and where to find her:

MK McClintockWriting stories of love and adventure from another time

MK McClintock spins tales of romance, mystery, and adventure inspired by the heather-covered hills of Scotland and the majestic mountains of home. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, she lives and writes in Montana.

-2014 RONE Award-Nominee for Alaina Claiborne -2014 Crowned Heart for Excellence from InD’Tale Magazine for Blackwood Crossing and The Montana Gallagher Collection

2015 Crowned Heart for Excellence from InD’Tale Magazine for A Home for Christmas

Learn more about the author at . MK is a member of Romance Writers of America , Women Writing the West , and Authors of the Flathead .

Genres: historical romantic westerns, historical romantic mysteries, western short stories

MK is published with Trappers Peak Publishing LLC.

Contact & Connect (blog)

For interviews, review requests, and questions, please email

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Million Dollar Que$tion by Ellie Campbell


Title: Million Dollar Que$tion Author: Ellie Campbell Format: Paperback, 350 pages Published: April 25, 2015 by Across the Pond Press

Title: Million Dollar Que$tion
Author: Ellie Campbell
Format: Paperback, 350 pages
Published: April 25, 2015 by Across the Pond Press

Purple GoodreadsSynopsis:

 Just as a huge financial scandal throws New Yorker, Olivia Wheeler, from wealth and success to bankruptcy and shame, struggling impoverished single-mother Rosie Dixon wins an unexpected million pounds. Good luck? Bad luck? Who can tell? Both women have more in common than they realize. While Olivia struggles to survive her humiliations, fleeing broke and homeless to London, shy unassuming Rosie discovers sudden riches arrive with their own mega-load of problems.

Can workaholic career-obsessed Olivia find a passion for something earthier and warmer than power and prestige? And can Rosie sift through envy and greed to discover true friends, true family and even true love? Two strangers who’ve never met. Yet neither realises how each is affecting the other’s destiny or the places their paths touch and fates entwine.
But will they surmount the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?

That is the million dollar question.

 Excerpt from Million Dollar Que$tion:

Rosie Dixon perched herself on the hard plastic chair, watching the drawing take shape. A line, followed by a squiggle. Snake maybe? Then what looked like a head of a person with ears on top. And was that a saddle on its back or—

‘Do you like it, Miss?’ Emily asked.

‘Oh yes, it’s good.’ Rosie smiled encouragement as the young girl plucked another crayon from the Tupperware box and worked earnestly, tongue curled stiffly against her cheek in concentration. ‘Extremely good. I love the bright colours you’ve chosen.’

Finished, Emily pointed at the purple object. ‘What do you think that is?’

‘Um. Let’s see.’ Rosie peered closer. It vaguely resembled a bear, although how that fitted in with the ‘My Family at Home’ project, heaven knew. She didn’t want to offend but… ‘What’s his name?’


Ah yes. ‘Bruno the bear. Of course.’

‘Bear?’ The girl shook her two perfect bunches and wrinkled her tiny freckled nose. ‘It’s not a bear, Miss, it’s a chocolate Labrador. Mummy’s boyfriend has one. Durr…’

‘Well it’s lovely.’ Rosie stood up. ‘And I’m Rosie, remember?’

Not that Rosie didn’t appreciate being called Miss, she did. Made her feel like a teacher, although the rather less grand title of ‘Teaching Assistant’ suited her fine. She’d been working at Avondale Infants for eighteen months now, supporting primary-aged pupils in classes of thirty-plus without needing to fret about parents’ evenings, lesson plans and the mountains of paperwork expected of a real teacher. She loved the small children and the hours meant she could still collect her own two sons from junior school.

‘Miss?’ Max, angelic curls disguising an impish spirit, frowned at his latest creation. ‘Can you help me?’

‘Shove over then.’ She nudged him playfully, as she squeezed beside him. Who’d have ever thought that she, shy little Rosie, always too timid to raise her hand in class, would be making a difference, however small, in the world of education? Just showed that good could come from the direst of situations. Even if it had taken a broken heart and some other God-awful trials to get her here.

She tucked a lock of shoulder-length hair behind her ear and handed Max a glue stick.

All things considered she really was incredibly lucky.


Mid-morning, the kettle in the staffroom had boiled and Rosie’s fellow teaching assistant, Gemma, was handing round the custard creams. Also in her early thirties, Gemma was recently divorced and had a secret obsession with The X Factor’s Simon Cowell that Rosie was sworn, on pain of death, never to reveal.

‘Anyone got an astrophysics degree?’ Carol, teacher of Orange Class, leafed through a stack of forms, eyebrows furrowed. ‘Certainly need one to fill in all these bloody risk assessments. Talk about ’elf and safety!’

Rosie joined in the laughter as she dropped a teabag in a smiley face mug. She was about to ask her colleagues, flopped onto chairs for their short break, if they were all right for beverages when Pauline Dawkins, Admin Officer, sidled up, a giant birthday card tucked under one paisley-clad arm.

‘Barry’s fiftieth. Whip-round,’ she hissed, spy-like from the corner of her mouth, as if the sole male teacher might burst in and discover the dastardly plot. ‘Drinks and cake at four.’

Pauline took her charge of The Birthday Book extremely seriously. Rosie had suffered the same ordeal when she’d turned thirty-three in March.

‘Oh, I’d love to be there, but I’ve my sons to pick up.’ Dutifully she scribbled, ‘Have a great day, Barry!’ unable to conjure anything witty or mildly original.

The envelope under her nose was stuffed with pound coins and larger notes. Rosie opened her ancient leatherette handbag, pushed aside her soggy egg sandwich and peeked inside her purse.

A lonely fiver lay folded next to a single fifty pence piece.

Her heart sank. That cash had to last the next two days until her monthly salary reached her bank. The twins, being eleven, always needed money for this or that and Charlie’s cheque was late again.

But then again poor Barry had recently lost his wife. Fifty pence seemed so stingy and she’d never dare offer the five pound note and ask for change.

There was an uncomfortable beat. Rosie’s fingers froze. Nobody was paying attention but still damp pooled in her armpits and along her hairline, her insecurities running rampant under Pauline’s scrutiny.

Was she assessing the havoc a runaway husband could create? Maybe worse – thinking it no wonder he’d strayed? If Rosie had once felt young, pretty and loved, it had all vanished with the end of her marriage. She cursed herself for not finding something smarter to wear than the skanky black cords pilled from the washing machine and a faded cotton blouse (Selfridges Sale 70% off) which sagged where it used to cling. And she’d totally messed up her hair attempting to add subtle honey-gold streaks from a Superdrug box to her mousy-brown frizz and ended up with tiger stripes instead.

Blow it, she thought, and handed over the fiver with a flourish, smiling to silence the warning pang from her gut.

‘Ta ever so.’ Pauline stuffed the note in the envelope. ‘We want to buy him a special present. Poor devil’s all on his lonesome…’ She broke off, fiddling with the plastic ID badge dangling from her neck. ‘I didn’t mean…well, it’s different for you with those darling boys, never a dull minute in your house, I’m sure.’ Her eyes fired with matchmaking zeal. ‘Now there’s a thought. Don’t suppose you and Barry…?’

‘No. Really.’ Rosie tried looking appreciative instead of appalled. Bearded bespectacled Barry was even more tortuously shy than Rosie and any attempts to speak made him extra nervous. They only had to reach the kettle at the same time and Rosie could feel her hands sweat, watching him twitch and stammer. As for fireworks, there’d be more sparks with two squibs in a rainstorm.

‘Just an idea.’ Pauline shrugged it off. She was basically a kind woman, Rosie thought, whatever catty things people said – just maybe a touch too blunt for the fragile sensitivities of a mostly female environment. And it must be excruciating asking people to hand over cash.

Pauline left to corner someone else and Rosie slumped onto an empty seat, tea forgotten. Two years since Charlie had walked out and no one – except Rosie in the secret corners of her soul – believed he was ever coming back. The beautiful home they’d spent ages lovingly doing up had been sold, Rosie and the boys now installed in a tatty two-bed terrace in a scruffy housing estate, where luckily the neighbours had welcomed her as one of their own.

Better off without him, everyone declared. What self-respecting woman stayed with a cheat after all? Outraged friends wanted him to suffer and occasionally Rosie did too. Not in a nasty, vengeful way, but at least to experience a few twinges of her own devastation.

She had fantasies in which he came crawling back, grief-stricken over what he’d carelessly tossed aside. She’d imagine herself on the arm of Colin Farrell, wearing a fiery-red figure-hugging dress, strikingly elegant, flawlessly made-up, her belly flat and her legs mysteriously three inches longer. She’d be ice-cool, telling him it was too late but usually in these daydreams – and she knew it was wrong – just as Charlie left, dejected, her stony heart would relent, she’d apologise to Colin, kick off her heels and run to Charlie’s joyful arms.

Other times her sleep betrayed her. She’d walk in the kitchen to find Charlie cooking spaghetti bolognese, wearing only a chef’s apron and an endearingly rueful smile. Silly stuff. Like last night – they’d sat in the bath together, him soaping her back. So convincing was this dream that in the morning she’d lazily stretched out her arm to him, forgetting that his side of the bed was empty and cold. He’d been her best friend and lover for so long. Not easy persuading her subconscious to switch from love to hate. Or even indifference. And he’d been such a caring father to Luke and Tim. Were they truly ‘better off without him’?

Determined not to submerge into despondency, she jumped up and tackled the backlog of crockery clogging the staffroom kitchenette.

Damn. She’d thought she’d got past all those predictable emotional stages, familiar to her as commuter stations. Denial. Shock. Anger. Depression. Last stop – Guilt – where she still lingered, scolding herself for not leaping to action the second Charlie’s secretary warned her about the female customer who showed more interest in the showroom’s Sales Manager than the vehicles on sale.

And why hadn’t she? Jumped? Leapt? Fought?

Because it had been unthinkable. Laughable even. With the red flag flapping inches from her face, Rosie had brushed it away with a smile, too certain of her husband to fall for that alarmist nonsense. This was Charlie, after all, her soul mate, who’d rescued her in her darkest hours, made her believe in her own worth after years of her mother’s jibes. He loved her even if she had grown two dress sizes finishing the kids’ meals, barely ever wore make-up, slumped around the home in baggy sweatshirts and couldn’t stay awake to watch an entire film when the boys were finally in bed.

‘…first out. Hey, what’s so fascinating about that sponge? You’ve been staring at it ages.’

Rosie hadn’t realised Gemma had joined her at the sink, let alone that she’d been speaking.

‘Sorry, Gem.’ She came out of her daze. ‘What was that?’

‘I was saying that as long as it’s not last in, first out, ’cos technically speaking…’ Gemma pushed her glasses up her nose and gave Rosie a meaningful glance before picking up a tea towel.

‘Technically speaking…?’

Gemma sighed as she wiped a saucer. ‘Rosie, you dingbat, did you hear a word I said? That meeting with the union reps yesterday, Carol’s just filled me in. They’re talking staff cuts. Redundancies. Teaching assistants in particular. Some of us – God knows how many – are for the chop!’

 Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Paperback: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 About the author and where to find her:

Pam Burks and Lorraine CampbellEllie Campbell is a pseudonym for sisters, Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell who collaborate across the mighty Atlantic, finding writing together the perfect excuse for endless phone conversations. They are equally passionate about travel, animals and the great outdoors. Although Pam lives near London, with husband, three children and a dog, while Lorraine is on a Colorado ranch near wild and wonderful Boulder with husband, five horses, five cats, one dog and four chickens – they both believe in enjoying life to the fullest, be it discovering new remote locations or going on trail rides in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

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Review: Blackout (Book #1: Lost Girls Series) by Chris Myers

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Title: Blackout Series; Book #1: Lost Girls Author: Chris Myers Published: April 27, 2015 ISBN13: 9781942630036

Title: Blackout
Series; Book #1: Lost Girls
Author: Chris Myers
Published: April 27, 2015
ISBN13: 9781942630036

Purple Goodreads


No restraining order will stop Dare from protecting Teal…

The blackouts started happening when Teal was eight. There are long periods of her youth she doesn’t remember. She has woken up in strange places, feeling disoriented and unaware of how long she’s been out.

After two years abroad attending a private school and sessions with a top-notch psychiatrist, she’s been deemed cured. The blackouts have ceased, or so Teal thought, until she wakes up in a ditch back home in North Carolina. Dare, the man pulling her broken body from the wreckage, has a restraining order against him. He’s no longer the clean-cut boy she went frog gigging with but road-hardened. His lean, muscular arms, riddled with tats, drag her out of the SUV. She should fear him, but instead, his touch sparks memories that tell her she once worshipped him with all her heart.

Source: ARC from author

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

My Review:

Teal Covington has some sort of craptastic life!! At just eight years old she was attacked, her head split wide open like a melon, her best-friend was accused of molesting her, her mother disappeared from her life and, she began blacking out. In an effort to shield Teal from the small town fallout and harassment related to the events of her childhood, her father moves her to Paris where she spends two blissful years having only one blackout. Though Teal is thankful for the blackout reprieve she feels far from cured and desperately wants to understand what happened to her that fateful day ten years ago. In order to understand her past, Teal has to confront it and that means returning to the scene of the crime.

Returning to North Carolina is not something Teal ever thought she would do but her grandmother (a most delightful, Lulu!) needs her and if she is ever going to be cured, North Carolina is the place to be. Before she can even get home, Teal blacks out and buries her car in the swamp where her nightmare began. Before she can go down with the ship so to speak, Teal is rescued by her one-time best friend, Dare Tucker. The ten years between now and then have been both very good and very hard for Dare. On the one hand he has grown into the sexiest man Teal has ever seen and on the other hand, he has become hardened, cynical and, angry.

Dare Tucker only ever wanted to get out of his home town and become a veterinarian. The day he rescued Teal Covington in the swamp changed the course of his life and got him labeled as a sex offender for a crime he didn’t commit. Based on what Dare knows, Teal drove the final nail into his coffin with her testimony to the judge and though he has tried to forgive her, he just can’t forget how she derailed his life. To make matters worse, fishing Teal out of the swamp after her wreck gives Dare a chance to really see her. Dare is instantly struck by Teal’s beauty and though he wants to be mad at her, he just can’t control his body’s and heart’s reaction to her.

Within days, Teal knows coming home was the best and worst thing she could have done. She has a new therapist (a seriously funny and caring, Miles!) who is helping her understand the events of her past, she is actively pursuing why Dare hates her and thinks she hung him out to dry and, actively trying to push past her insecurities and stand on her own two feet for the first time in her life. Teal is determined to understand her past and someone is very intent on her not discovering the truth. It doesn’t take long for Teal to realize the closer she gets to the truth the more danger she is in. Her home is invaded, her security is threatened and those she chooses to be close too are in serious danger. Before all is said and done, Teal and Dare will rip the Band-Aid off a slew of old wounds, expose a crazy number of bat-shit crazy people and, find a way back to one another.

The Bottom Line: As always, Myers has created a crazy-complicated plot that is surprisingly easy to follow. There are more twists and turns in this plot than a crazy, country road but Myers takes you through it all with the smoothness and ease that only comes from a seasoned writer. Teal is a walking contradiction with her strength and her determination balanced by her vulnerability. She needs to understand her past in order to have any sort of future and she is willing to endure a whole lot of awful to get to her HEA. Dare is the highlight of this read with his actual physical strength balanced by a very caring nature. He and his brothers (whom I would love to know more about!) are a crazy mix of personalities that are ultimately loyal to one another and those they care for. Dare’s past has haunted him for ten long years and if he can do more than lust after Teal, he may have a bright and well-deserved future of his very own.

The big reveal in this story is somewhat expected but the extent to which everyone is involved and the activities they were involved in is most unexpected. The reveal regarding Teal’s mother is as interesting as it is abhorrent and adds a whole new level of ick to this read. Finally, there are the naughty bits with Dare and Teal. In general, I was quite pleased with the naughty bits – Dare is quite hot, after all – but some of the language was a bit off putting for me. I don’t mean the dirty words but some of the adjectives used to describe the bits and pieces. No girl’s vagina should ever be referred to as a squeezebox, especially in the midst of sex. With that being said, I certainly didn’t let this one minor element distract me (too much!) from my overall enjoyment of the read. Honestly, if you haven’t yet discovered Chris Myers, it’s time you do so and Blackout is a fine place to start!

 About the author and where to find her:

Chris Myers suffers from an overactive imagination. She spent her high school years writing torch songs for fantasy guys then moved onto writing thrillers, new adult, and young adult. She has a real job but would love to write full time. Her books have won and placed in the finals and semifinals for several awards including Paul Gillette, Rocky Mountain Gold, and Amazon Breakthrough Novel. Chris lives in Colorado with her daughter, her better half, and BeBe, a rambunctious Bichon.

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Excerpt: Betrothed (Book #1: Magic Matched Series) by Lola White


Title: Betrothed Series. Book #1: Magic Matched Series Author: Lola White Format: ebook, 270 pages Published: March 27, 2015 by Totally Bound  ISBN13: 9781784305055

Title: Betrothed
Series. Book #1: Magic Matched Series
Author: Lola White
Format: ebook, 270 pages
Published: March 27, 2015 by Totally Bound
ISBN13: 9781784305055

Purple GoodreadsSynopsis:

 In witching society, magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love.

Humiliated by a string of broken betrothals, Ileana Lovasz only wants freedom from her manipulative grandfather. So when she’s forced into meeting her next suitor, she decides to give the budding relationship all she’s got.

Eliasz Levy simply wants an alliance with Ileana’s brother Silviu, a man rising through the witching ranks. That is, until the Lovasz woman arrives at his home and stirs up emotions Eliasz never thought to feel.

Silviu has bigger things on his mind than his sister’s marriage. Georgeanne Davenold, Silviu’s betrothed and the key to his rise in power, is back in his life after a ten-year separation that left her distrustful of his intentions. Their union is a novelty, spanning the divide between matriarchal and patriarchal Families. Their union is also alarming, combining the influence and magic of two witches only heard of in myth and legend.

Ileana, Eliasz, Silviu and Georgie must build an alliance that will help them all get what they want, but with too many lies and too many enemies, the game they’re playing turns treacherous.

When the two women come under attack, neither Silviu nor Eliasz knows which is the target. They only know that they will protect the women their hearts have claimed as their own, even though that means defying the traditions of witching society, risking every goal they hold dear and confronting the dangerous members of their own families.

Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series. 

Excerpt from Betrothed (Book #1: Magic Matched Series):

“Georgeanne Davenold is now old enough for me to do exactly as I wish to her, without her Family’s interference.”

Vasile stared at his son for a long moment, leaving Silviu feeling weighed and measured, evaluated in a way he’d grown used to, years before. It still wasn’t easy to keep calm under the silver stare.

“Don’t lose your head, my boy. This isn’t some female to take without consideration.”

Silviu hefted a brow. “I’ve never had any complaints.”

Vasile scowled. “You put your damned heart on your sleeve and you’ll lose every advantage you’re likely to gain with that girl. She’s been molded in Madeleine’s image. Do not underestimate her.”

“That’s exactly what you want, Father. A woman as strong as Madeleine. Her entire life has been arranged by you for that very reason. She was always meant to be Madeleine’s second reign.”

“And your first, but she’s your weakness,” Vasile spat, abruptly leaning forward in his chair. One rigid finger drilled into his desktop, emphasizing his point. “I don’t know what the hell it is about her, but I could see it the moment you met. Do not jeopardize all we’ve worked toward for a female who will never allow you to be her weakness. She has her own agenda and, with the sole exception of that Beltane night, she’s never given us any reason to think she would be willing to put it aside to please you!”

Surprise held Silviu for a breathless moment, a hideous vulnerability sweeping over him at how easily his father had read him. He cleared his throat with effort. “We both want to lead the covens. What makes you think her agenda wouldn’t match mine, if properly explained to her?”

“You won’t win the heart of a matriarchal female,” Vasile countered. “You’re too…male, for any of them. So, don’t even bother to try.”

Silviu hid the fear spearing through him by slouching back in his chair, a deliberate insouciance that was all that ever truly fooled his father. “I know. It’s a political alliance, not a love match.”

Vasile lost some of the tension in his shoulders. “Only Georgeanne can unlock your full potential, only she can provide a conduit for all the magic that should rightfully be yours. Together, you could join the Families, power from both sides of the Schism. Just think! You will rule with your combined power over all the covens.”

“Just as you wanted, Father.”

With one last searching glance, Vasile shifted back in his chair, a crafty gleam sparkling in the depths of the eyes he finally turned on his daughter. “Eliasz wants you.”

“That’s ridiculous,” she scoffed. “He doesn’t even know me.”

Vasile shook his head. “There is no earthly reason why the powerful Levys would want to ally themselves with our Family except Eliasz’s lust. We aren’t politically relevant.”

“But that will change,” Silviu said.

“Yes, but no one in the Levy Family knows the extent of my plans.” Vasile raised a brow at Ileana. “You will do everything in your power to keep Eliasz’s attention and win his heart. Do you understand me?”

Ileana’s eyes went wide. “Throwing me into Eliasz’s bed, then?”

Vasile pointedly eyed the tiny skirt riding high on his daughter’s thighs. “Are you going to tell me you’re a virgin?”

“I won’t tell you anything on the matter at all, Father.” Ileana cocked her head. “What makes you think this time will be any different from before? Grandfather is going to find some reason to pull back from this alliance.”

Vasile’s hard face went rigid. A low growl ripped from his throat. “The old fool has no idea how much he’s cost this Family. He is the reason we have no power in the witching world, but so long as he wields the magic of our bloodline we have no weapon strong enough to bring him down.”

“We need this alliance,” Silviu said, turning to take Ileana’s cold fingers and squeezing gently. He tried to give her comfort, hope. For so long, they’d been each other’s support in the face of their Family’s machinations. “The Levys are no joke, Iley. This one will go through.”

“You can’t promise that,” she argued.

“We’ll do our best.” Vasile rapped his knuckles against his desktop. “But you’ll have to do your part, girl. Wrap that man around your finger. I know you can do it. You can be very charming when you put your mind to it. People naturally like you.”

“Convince him to elope with me, perhaps?”

“If need be, yes.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Silviu glanced at his sister, the sudden calmness in her voice sounding alarms in his skull. She only used that tone when she was about to challenge the archaic, patriarchal rules they were forced to live by.

Vasile seemed unaware as he moved on to his favorite subject—intrigue. “Now, as for the meeting with the Levys, I will expect very specific things from both of you.”

It was nearly the witching hour before they were given permission to leave their father’s presence, lectures and orders still ringing in Silviu’s ears. When he slipped out into the cold hallway, he shut the study door behind him carefully, calmly and with complete control.

Only then did he lean back against the wall, close his eyes and let a shudder born of too many emotions to fully contain roll through him. Tension and intrigue fell from his shoulders, making him feel half his weight, now that his father’s focused gaze was no longer resting on him.

“Now’s your chance, Silver,” Ileana whispered.

He nodded. “And yours. We will both be bolder than we’ve ever dared before.”

“I’ll give it everything I have,” she promised.

Dragging in a deep breath, gathering his cracking armor of calm around him once more, Silviu set off toward his bedroom, making his own plans for Georgeanne Davenold that had nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with pleasure.

Totally Bound | B & N iBooks | Amazon 

 About the author and where to find her:

Lola White writes what she writes, which is erotic fiction. Sometimes horror, sometimes paranormal, sometimes romance. It’s all sexy, but never predictable because she likes to twist reality at its edges in her stories. She likes delving into the emotions of her characters, finding their strengths and weaknesses, and seeing (and showing) how they get themselves out of whatever trouble has found them—if they can. Don’t try to label her collection of tales beyond the most basic description, EROTICA, because she writes whatever story comes to mind, whatever speaks to her. She’s certain something in her library will speak to you, too.

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Once Upon an Alpha

Review: Hard Ride: A Novel in Three Parts by Opal Carew

Title: Hard Ride Series: Part 3 of 3 Author: Opal Carew Published: April 28, 2015 by St Martin's Press  ISBN13: 9781466878679
Title: Hard Ride
Series: Part 3 of 3
Author: Opal Carew
Published: April 28, 2015 by St Martin’s Press
ISBN13: 9781466878679

Purple Goodreads


Liv never expected to rekindle her romance with her college boyfriend, who’s now a hard-bodied, tattooed biker. And she never imagined sharing herself with his entire gang.  Shock can feel Liv pulling away from him, just like she did all those years ago. Her lies are a painful reminder that she’s not ready for anything more than a good time in bed, but he’s not willing to let her go. He lost her once, and it’s never happening again. Faced with losing the one thing he’s always wanted, he must prove to Liv that what they have is more than physical and that his heart is in her hands. But is she ready to give him hers?

Source: Netgalley

My Rating for the entire series: 4 – 4½/5 stars

My Review:


The final installment of Hard Ride opens with Liv and Shock rushing off to be with her dying sister. Though Liv assumes she will be flying solo and saying her final goodbyes to her sister she quickly discovers Shock is in it for the long haul and has no intention of allowing her to go through this ordeal alone. As if this weren’t enough, Shock also covers the cost of an extremely experimental treatment that allows Liv’s sister a second chance at life. Yowsa!!

When things with her sister are once again on the up and up, Liv and Shock return to crew and determine to work on their issues. Both are crazy for the other but they are also both very scared of revealing their true feelings. Complications and situations from both their pasts are an ever-present issue and if they can’t move beyond those issues then there is no chance of a future.

As the emotional side of their relationship continues to roller coaster, the sexual side blossoms in a most delightful way. One emotion regarding Shock that Liv is crystal clear about is her trust in him. Liv knows in a bone-deep kind of way that Shock will never hurt her (sexually at least!) but will push the boundaries of her comfort zone. Still willing to experiment and broaden her horizons, Liv agrees to literally serve as Shock’s slave and the two embark on an afternoon of light BDSM, group sex and, a stunning amount of orgasms. Liv certainly broadens her horizons and shatters the boundaries of her comfort zone all while growing closer to Shock. Though the two have certainly been together before this particular experience, it is really this experience that allows them both to fully acknowledge their feelings for one another be brave enough to give voice to those emotions.

The Bottom Line: I know exactly what to expect when I dive into an Opal Carew read. I get characters I will like and who are at least a little bit broken and in search of healing, I will get some (sometimes a lot!) of pretty fantastic sex sometimes with a little bit of kink and, I will get a plot line that doesn’t really tax my brain but keeps me interested and generally entertained. I got exactly what I expected in the Hard Ride series and very much enjoyed the read. I found myself particularly drawn to Shock as he is a fine contradiction: outwardly he is a hardened, tatted up biker who enjoys the freedom and lack of responsibility associated with riding with a crew but when you dig a bit deeper you discover he is all of those things and so much more. Shock is also an intelligent and very successful businessman who values honor, ethics and self-respect over money. He is kind, caring, respectful and completely in love with Liv.

Hard Ride’s plot really doesn’t make you work too hard but it is engaging. Liv’s sister is dying and if serving as a sexual partner for hire for a month is what Liv has to do to save her sister, then she will do it. The medical issues in play sound really, really nasty but it pretty much just takes a very expensive wonder pill to save the day J This may sound hokey and all too easily dealt with but I don’t care. The sick sister is just the means by which Liv is reintroduced to Shock and Hard Ride is really their story! Loads of sex, Shock and, HEAs all around made Hard Ride a pretty good read for me!!

Amazon | B & N | iBooks

Hard Ride: A Novel in Three Parts by Opal Carew

Title: Hard Ride Series: Part 2 of 3 Author: Opal Carew  Published: April 14, 2015 by St Martin's Press  ISBN13: 9781466878662

Title: Hard Ride
Series: Part 2 of 3
Author: Opal Carew
Published: April 14, 2015 by St Martin’s Press
ISBN13: 9781466878662

Purple Goodreads


 Liv never expected to find herself trapped in an alley facing a band of rough bikers. And she certainly never expected to see him again…

When Shock encounters an old flame in a dark alley, it sends him spiraling. She’s still as beautiful as ever, but she seems to have fallen on hard times since college, and he’s concerned about the risks she seems to take. In order to keep her safe and finally have her for himself, he makes a sensual deal: his help for her complete submission. But will Liv be able to let go of the past and fall for the hard rider?

Source: Netgalley

My Rating for the entire series: 4 – 4½/5 stars

My Mini – Review:


Part two of this naughty novella series opens with a very adamant Liv refusing to go home as Shock has insisted.

Both Liv and Shock have so many emotions warring with each other that they can’t see clear to what they both really want. Shock doesn’t want to be the second guy who forces Liv to have sex and Liv no longer wants to feel broken and afraid of being with a man. Screw the contract, Shock wants Liv and has since college. Liv wants to be with a man but more importantly, she wants that man to be Shock.  Once she is able to convince Shock of her absolute willingness to be with him (no matter if there is a contract!) the two embark on a somewhat comfortable arrangement. Shock is far more experienced and open-minded about sex than Liv is but Liv is willing to experiment on a slow and steady basis. Liv’s naïveté about sex is as exciting to Shock as it is endearing. He understands Liv is willing but he also understands that he has to take things very slowly with her. Additionally, Shock truly likes Liv and wants to be sure she is treated with respect.

While Shock’s intentions are certainly good and his actions with Liv speak of nothing but respect his past is a factor and when Liv is confronted with it, she is all but slapped in the face. Apparently, Shock has a habit of contracting women and Liv feels as if she is nothing more than another sexual partner for hire. Her anger only intensifies when she realizes she has true feelings for Shock and doesn’t want to be just another notch in his bedpost. Fear of rejection and the cold, hard truth keep Liv from actually talking to Shock and the two are forced, yet again into a most uncomfortable situation.

Shock realizes almost instantly that Liv is so far beyond a sexual partner for hire but he knows she is skittish and has as much experience with relationships as she does with sex. Shock wants to tell Liv how he feels about her but fear keeps him from opening his mouth. He tries to show her how he feels through a beautiful night out and tender moments but the message doesn’t quite seem to be getting through. When Liv’s attitude changes and she won’t tell Shock why, Shock is totally confused, angry and, hurt and Liv is angry and hurt. The remedy? Behave like children and act out and irrationally. Just when things seem to be coming to a head, the truth of the whole situation comes out and Liv is forced to tell Shock (and the others!) the real reason she is with them all and why she needed the money in the first place. With one phone call, Liv’s world is turned upside down . . . .

Amazon | B & N | iBooks