Review: Maybe by Amber L. Johnson

Series: Standalone
Release Date: Feb 12, 2015
Publisher: The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House
Genre: New Adult
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★

Letting go is hard. Admitting you need each other is harder.

Portman loves her job. A writer for Breakout! Magazine, she shadows and
showcases up-and-coming bands. When her next assignment takes her to
Austin, Texas, she can’t wait to add the city to her map of places she’s
visited. Places she’s left without looking back. Her plan is to keep
moving on, and the last thing she needs is a man holding her back. She’s
not going down that road again.

Tyler Macy is stuck in a rut.
Despite his exceptional talent as a musician, he has chosen to take a
back seat with his music and let others grab the limelight. Wounded and
mistrustful, he doesn’t appreciate his friends’ efforts to bring him
back to center stage. Emily comes onto the scene and sees his full
potential, but he fights to stay in the shadows, shutting her out before
she can add to the scars another woman gave him.

For Tyler to
find his music again, he needs to accept the help that Emily and their
friends offer. When he discovers that his muse lies underneath Emily’s
skin, it is still not enough to keep her from walking away. Neither will
admit what they really want until it is too late.

Emily is once
again thrown in Tyler’s path when she is assigned to join them on tour.
Despite the pain in his past, Tyler sees that she is worth it, even if
she’s stolen both his heart and peace of mind. In order for them to be
together, they both must discover whether the music and their passion
are enough to overcome the obstacles that separate them.

Maybe finding love is worth the risk.

Typically, I go into a book with some sort of expectation.  Maybe was a departure from that. I had none. I had heard about Johnson’s Puddle Jumping, but knew nothing really about it or Johnson herself.  While the synopsis gives a good idea of the story, I didn’t know if it would be gritty, soul bearing or light.

I was pleasantly surprised by where Maybe took me and the emotions it brought.

Emily has a pretty bad ass job.  She’s a scout for a music magazine. Traveling the country, meeting bands, writing them up and then watching as maybe their careers take off.  It’s a get in, get the job done, get out kind of gig that works for Emily. No strings, not ties that bind, no chance of getting hurt. Again.

Tyler’s life is music.  It’s everything he is and everything he has is wrapped up in it.  The things outside of his music have hurt him in ways he does not know how to heal from.  But past hurts are bleeding into his musical life as well, he’s lost his inspiration, holing up in the dark places of his mind blocks him from creating anything new. He needs a muse but not the heartbreak that comes along with one.

The connection between Tyler and Emily was something I kind of adored. It felt true, nothing really seemed forced or contrived.  Same goes for how that connection progressed and how it ultimately fell apart.  Emily doesn’t make fleeting, life altering, decisions based off of a connection she feels with someone she has just barely met.  She sticks to her bigger life plan.  She sees the situation for what it is, a man scared to commit, scared to take a leap of faith, scared to try for love for fear of losing everything even if never trying means losing it anyway.

Emily understands it because ultimately, she feels somewhat the same.

But sometimes, what is meant to be, will be. Life has a way a of placing you in the path of your destiny no matter how much you fight it. That rings true for Tyler and Emily and when they find each other again the connection they felt before is still there, still strong, still sexy as hell.

Speaking of sexy…one part of Maybe I really enjoyed was that for a New Adult title, it’s not erotic or gratuitous.  The sex is hot but it’s there to further the story, it has purpose.  

Johnson does a great job of balancing the fun and light moments with the darker, sorrowful ones.  There were times where I smiled and times where I was truly sad for the turns Emily and Tyler’s lives had taken.  Maybe is  not a rip your heart out and stomp on it type story, but it’s definitely a story that will make you feel. 

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Reveal: Clear by Jessica Park

Title: CLEAR: A Death Trippers Novel
Age: NA
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Author: Jessica Park
Cover Designer: The Cover Lure
Release date: February 17, 2015
Stella Ford’s grasp on reality is already loose, and it’s about to come undone.
When the college junior flees Chicago and leaves her toxic family behind, she heads for coastal Maine to find the one person who brought her peace years ago: Sam Bishop. But the Sam she once knew now has painful secrets.  
Stella is determined to heal them both. Healing, however, is a challenge when the walls of her everyday existence collapse. And when Sam’s best friend is his worst enemy.
When the line between life and death blurs.
When an end is just a beginning.
When lust and rage rule.
Yet during extraordinary chaos, there can be extraordinary love, even if that love comes with a twist.
Welcome to death tripping.

A thriller, a paranormal, and a passionate romance, CLEAR crosses genres and breaks boundaries.

Jessica is the author of LEFT DROWNING, the New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE (and the companion piece FLAT-OUT MATT), and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.

Please visit her at and on Facebook at and Twitter @JessicaPark24

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Review: Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr

Series: New York Leopards #3
Release Date: April 14, 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★

Tamar Rosenfeld has
been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since
they were twelve years old. She’d always considered it destiny that
they’d end up together…until Abe was drafted and she professed her
feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was
like nothing she’d ever felt before, and it’s nothing she’ll ever
Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a
reporter for one of New York’s premier athletic websites. Determined to
stop being the safe, boring girl she’s felt like for most of her life,
Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new
city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.
destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar’s decided to move
on, Abe’s realized she’s the only woman for him. When he confides the
truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a
chance on the very man who’s been holding her back all these years.

Sadly, I had a couple of issues with Imaginary Lines.  I very much enjoy the world of the New York Leopards and Abe has been an compelling character in the previous titles. However, my adoration for him was not enough of a beacon to shine through the dark spots.
Tamar and Abe grew up together, best friends with very close families.  Their mothers always envisioned they’d grow up, fall in love and marry.  Tamar always hoped for the same.  Her love for Abe was not returned though, instead heartbreak is what he handed her and for four years they avoided each other.
Now their worlds are thrown back together by careers and Abe is ready to dive into a relationship with Tamar, but the idea of another broken heart delivered by the man that ever held it, is scary enough to keep Abe at arms length.
That was the aspect of Imaginary Lines I really connected with. Friends to lovers is an idea I often gravitate too, it’s an idea I love…I think love should start with friendship.  And Abe…well, he would be an easy friend to love.
The adult Abraham is a pretty genuine guy.  He’s easy going but with his own small insecurities. He’s sweet but still strong. He’s a ‘guy’s guy’ that ladies love.  Abe has few faults.
Tamar is an easy character to understand. Having your dreams pinned on someone only to have them all crushed, would easily make you apprehensive if he eventually gave you the attention you had always hoped for.  Her desire to be with Abe and her fear of it were both easily felt.  Tamar, despite her insecurities, has a strength about her.  She’s willing to fight for her beliefs and for those she cares about and that helped me like her more.
So…that’s the good stuff.  But there were small things that kept throwing me off.  Keeping in mind that I was reading an advance review copy, perhaps some of those things were cleaned up before final publication.
My biggest issue is this:  Abe and Tamar are both Jewish, yet many times throughout the story they say God.  As an example, after they kiss at one point, Abe says something along the lines of  ‘Oh God, Tamar’.  Now, I don’t know many Jews – but I know they don’t say or even spell the name God. Right? That’s what I was always taught anyway.  I would let it slide if they seemed to be non-practicing Jews, but that isn’t really the case.
Again, maybe that was cleaned up before publication, but it really should have never been there in the first place.
Another issue I had was my constant questioning of everything that had to do with the relationship between the team and the reporters.  It just never felt fully believable to me.  Which caused me to pause multiple times and try google searching if that was really how shit worked.  It’s very difficult to lose yourself in a story if you are constantly fact checking.
Well, that’s my story… I think maybe it’s time for me to let this series go.  As much as I love a hot football player, I just need more authenticity in the story.

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Rag Time with Uncle Neal and Jeff #4: On Every Street by Karina Halle

**Rag Time with Uncle Neal and Jeff is a monthly feature where two
drunk dudes read mommy porn. All for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!**

Welcome to Rag Time with Uncle Neal and Jeff!  This is what
happens at Ali’s house when boys are left unattended, with beer and smut. 
This first video was sent to us as a gift one night when we were out of
town. They were tipsy and Ali had a paperback laying there, curiosity got
the better of them.

It was so well received that the boys have agreed to continue the hijinx
by reading an excerpt (of Black Heart Reviews choosing) every month. 
Got a particular excerpt you’d like to see them read? Let us know! 😉

When young con artist
Ellie Watt decides to call herself Eden White and go after the drug lord
who ruined her as a child, she never expects to fall for one of his
henchmen. But Javier Bernal is no ordinary man. Subtly dangerous and
overwhelmingly seductive, Eden finds herself passionately in love with
Javier, the very person she’s set-up to betray. With her body and heart
in a heated battle against her deep need for revenge, no one will walk
away from this con a winner.

Takes place six years before
Sins & Needles. It can be read before or after Sins & Needles
and may also be read as a standalone.

Karina Halle is a former
travel writer and rock music journalist and a NEW YORK TIMES  & USA TODAY bestselling
author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Experiment in Terror
and other wild and romantic reads. She lives in a 1920’s farmhouse on a
bucolic island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and
her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails,
and devours a lot of books.

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Review: Landslide by Jenn Cooksey

Series: Standalone
Release Date: January 27, 2014
Publisher: Jenn Cooksey
Genre: New Adult
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★

For Erica and Cole, the bond of friendship was forged in childhood.
torn and broken by grief, that bond will become paramount as two
friends look to one another for comfort, strength, and hope in the
aftermath of loss. On a journey taken both together and alone, Erica and
Cole search for healing and life born anew. Although when mistakes,
secrets and betrayal are revealed, the two must each learn to accept
that even saints and some angels are human and people aren’t always who
they appear to be.
But in the age old struggle to forget and
forgive, realization dawns. And with it, so does the understanding that
sometimes, the sturdiest foundation for the future lies buried in the
dust of the past. Because, for some people…
…love is friendship caught on fire.
I am a big fan of Cooksey‘s Grab Your Pole series and while Landslide is a departure from GYP into more mature subject matter, it still holds Cooksey‘s signature writing style with a depth of emotions and a hint of humor.
Landslide pretty quickly throws you in the deep end of despair, but this isn’t really a tale of tragedy.  Landslide is a story of true love and how it spans years, even if you aren’t fully aware of it.  It’s a tale of how people come in and out of your life and how the smallest of events can have just as strong of an effect on your future as a large event.
Cole was a very unexpected character, for me.  I liked him from the very start, the way he guarded his thoughts was something that grabbed my attention immediately.  He’s, mostly, a very selfless guy but that isn’t how he comes across to most and learning his reasoning for being that way kept me turning the pages.
I can’t say that I had that same instant attraction to Erica.  It really took time for her to develop, but I think that’s because she never really knew who she was. You are able to see that more as the story goes along.  She isn’t always very honest with herself, she easily sets thoughts aside that might disrupt her carefully balanced life. Until she’s forced to really examine it all.
Being honest with themselves is only part of the problem these two have, being honest with each other is a much bigger one.  But there are reasons for withholding the truth, and some of those reasons are incredibly heart breaking.
I did have somewhat of a lost in translation moment in this read.  There was a point where the strong connection I had been feeling, faded. There were a lot of details that needed to placed just so, but I think I was ready for everything to combust or converge. I was ready for the big feels.  However, after a couple of chapters, it picked right back up and perhaps even grew.  
Cooksey writes a story that is equal parts happy and sad.  There are moments of heart warming togetherness mixed in with complete soul wrenching heartache.  It’s the combination of those two things that makes this such a solid New Adult debut for Cooksey.
If this seems like a vague review, it’s because it is a vague review.  Landslide isn’t the easiest book to talk about without giving away some key details. Which I really don’t want to do.  So, I’ll leave you with the this:  Landslide is an incredibly endearing story of loss, love, friendship, duty and growth.

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Reveal + Giveaway + Playlist/ Prologue: Without Me by Chelle Bliss

Without Me Ebook nook

Series: Men of Inked

Author: Chelle Bliss

Book Number: 5 – Final Book in the Series

Character: Anthony Gallo

Genre: Erotica, Erotic Romance, Contemporary

Release Date: Late March/Early April 2015

I’d led a selfish existence.

I liked who I was. Hell, I loved myself.

Women threw themselves at me and I took what they offered without remorse. I promised them nothing.

I sank my teeth into life, holding on to the bitch like my very existence depended on it.

Time passed.

Women came and went.

The second I let my guard down and released the hold I had on life… What was my award for such carelessness?

A love so spectacular and heart wrenching that it threw me for a loop. When I was in too deep to escape, my greatest fears became reality.

This is my story.

My downfall.

My salvation.

Without Me Playlist

★★Click here to read the Prologue★★

USA Today bestselling author Chelle Bliss crafts stories about real-life scenarios with fantasy Alpha males.
Her writing includes humor as well as steamy sex.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Cover information:
Photo by Eric Battershell Photography
Cover Model – Thomas Yarborough Training
Cover Design – MGBookCovers

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the DNF journal: The Rose Master by Valentina Cano

Release Date: June 2014
Publisher: Reuts
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Copy provided for honest review

The day Anne Tinning
turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that’s hardly the most
upsetting news. She’s being dismissed from the home she’s served at
since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor
maid for a place she’s never heard of. And when she sees the run-down,
isolated house, she instantly knows why:
There’s something wrong with Rosewood Manor.
with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and
inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as
the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear.
Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself
alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.
the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is
something else in the house with them–some creature that stalks the
frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on
harming her.
When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with
its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth
about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she
isn’t prepared for. The creature is very real, and she’s the only one
who can help him stop it. 
Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she’s grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.

Harumph.  I’m pretty sad about this one.
The Rose Master is a bit of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, placing Anne is a mansion owned by a mysterious master.
What I enjoyed of the 37% that I read was the creep factor. Birds dropping dead, invisible hands trying to drown you, animal scratches at your bedroom door at night.  All of those things really worked for me.
What didn’t was the characters. I just didn’t care. About any of them. Even Anne, who seemed a little hot and cold. And I get that she’s a maid but I can only read so many chapters about her cleaning the house before I’m ready to snooze. I don’t like cleaning in real life, I sure as hell don’t want to read ten straight chapters of it.
It’s not badly written, what I read of it anyway.  It has potential to be something I could really love, if it had more developed and interesting characters. 

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