Review: Dirty Nails by Regina Bartley

Series: Standalone
Release Date: February 1, 2015
Publisher: Regina Bartley
Genre: Dark Romance / Romantic Suspense
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★ ½
From the outside looking
in, this life may seem jacked up. People may think that I’ve completely
lost my mind. They only see the bruises. They don’t know that Maxwell
Costin saved my life, and that I owe him everything. I’m alive because
of him. So when he tells me to keep my mouth shut, and do what he says
then that’s exactly what I do. And if anyone asks about the dirty
bodies, the dirty floors, or Max’s dirty hands, I know nothing. Even if
the man asking is dark and dangerously sexy. I will not break. Try me…

***Recommended
for ages 18+ due to graphic language, sexual content, & mature
subject matter.*** This book is not for the weak at heart. You have been
warned! 

Dirty Nails was recommended to me by a reader. I asked what everyone’s favorite 5 star book was and this one popped up.  I sought it out on Goodreads, fell a little in love with the synopsis and one clicked.
The first forty percent of Dirty Nails was not a five star book, for me.  I found myself only slightly interested in the story. I was not fully connected enough with Shay to understand her unquestioning attitude towards her situation.
That being said, she really does have an interesting back story. It’s dark and all sorts of wrong, had I felt slightly more entranced by Shay herself, I would completely fell into the story.
As it was, it took nearly half of the book for me to be fully hooked.  I’m not telling you the first half is bad, it most certainly is not and it’s crucial story building. What I am saying is that the second half of the book was much more my taste.
Shay believes herself to be the lone survivor of a family tragedy. Saved by the man who was her father’s best friend, taken care of at times, abused at others. She knows no other life. She knows not the secrets that surround her. She never questions her life or Max.
Until Sketch arrives in her life. Making her feel things and eventually showing her that everything she thinks she knows isn’t at all what it seems.
I think I should hate Max. Well, I know I should hate Max. However, the biggest feels I had in this book came from him.  The villain, the abuser, the monster.  He’s so hot and cold and I wanted to unravel him, figure out what makes him tick.  Sadly, his story isn’t really told. Maybe we can talk Bartley into that. I think it is something that needs development.  His obsession with Shay was never fully explored and I want it, damn it!
That is kind of the crux of my issues with this book. So much yet to explore.  As I said, the story really picks up half way through and from that point it’s a bit of a fast ride.  I would have liked it to slow a bit and  dive into Sketch and Max a little more. It was somewhat rushed.
Does it sound like I didn’t like the book? Man, I hope not. I really did. I needed more though. I still want more! Dirty Nails is a good dark romance that had the makings of being a GREAT dark romance.


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Review: Something Real by Lexi Ryan

Series: Reckless & Real #2
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Ever After, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★ ½
http://amzn.to/17IBr2x
After everything blew
up on Christmas, Liz walked away from me, and I let her. She said she
needed space and a chance to pursue her dreams. But we both knew she was
running from the mess she made. Now the political campaign she used as
an excuse to leave is bringing us back together and I’m proving to her
what she really needs—not just the hot nights, greedy hands, and
undeniable physical chemistry. What she really needs is something real.
What she really needs…is me.

There is something about the way Ryan writes that turns me into this other person.  A person who tears up, who’s heart beats rapidly, who’s breath catches when she reads.  I’m not typically an emotional reader, yet Ryan’s books get to me. Every. Damn. Time.
At the end of Something Reckless, Liz and Sam are both heartbroken.  Twisted circumstances and political games have laid ruin to the the shaky foundation their relationship was built on.  Five months later is where Something Real picks up.
Liz is just going through the motions of life’s everyday tasks.  A husk of the woman she once was. She misses Sam, she longs for a life like her sisters all have – happy marriages and babies.  She could have that someday, with someone, but her heart won’t move past the man who didn’t trust her, didn’t fight for, threw her away.
Sam is coming to terms with his unyielding feelings for Liz, with the blame he undeservedly threw at her, with his callous treatment of her, her feelings and her heart.  He’d do anything to have her back in his life but like every other time they’ve tried, a secret from the past threatens to ruin them all over again.
The first third of this book was a total emotional read for me.  I felt everything both Sam and Liz felt. Especially Liz.  But then they confront each other and something was missing for me. I got so angry that Sam didn’t fight for Liz, that Liz didn’t need him too.  I was irritated that they could risk heartache all over again with so little care to the fragility of Liz’s heart.  I wanted to throat punch Sam and smack sense into Liz.
Those were not feelings that dissipated quickly.  I kept waiting for Liz to realize she deserved better…and she does eventually.  I kept waiting for Sam to step up to the plate and find a way to fix everything.  Sam lacked the conviction I needed from him, but I still love the guy for always trying to do the right thing, even when it’s so completely misguided.
That’s the only issue I had though, I just wanted more fight.  Other than that, Something Real delivered everything I’ve come to expect from Lexi Ryan. Drama, raw emotion, real characters and twists – so many good twists!
http://amzn.to/1wFaKSD http://amzn.to/1wB5lBF

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Reveal: Echo (Black Lotus #2) by E.K. Blair

Series: Black Lotus #2
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: E.K. Blair
Genre: Psychosexual Thriller

It’s been said the longest echo ever measured lasted 75 seconds, but I can assure you, this will last much longer. The bang deafened the world around me, muting everything into nullity, allowing the reflection of its destruction to live far beyond its intended life.

It will follow me forever, destroying me—destroying you.

You want answers?

So do I.

http://bit.ly/1thny3h



They say when you take revenge against another you lose a part of your innocence.
But I’m not innocent.
I haven’t been for a very long time.
My
innocence was stolen from me. Taken was the life I was supposed to
have. The soul I was born with. The ruby heart embedded in a life full
of hopes and dreams.

Gone.
Vanished.

I never even had a choice.
I mourn that life. Mourn the what-ifs.
Until now.
I’m ready to take back what was always meant to be mine.

But every plan has a fatal flaw. Sometimes it’s the heart.

http://amzn.to/1wXTldC
BANG was one of my favorite reads in 2014, I’ll add my review of it below.  If you like totally fucked up shit, this is the series for you! 😉

If, like me, you like
your romance laced with all things dark and sinister…this is the book
for you. To say I was surprised by where the story of BANG went, would
be an understatement. Blair expertly took me on a wild ride from start
to finish.

Vengeance is a funny thing. It comes in two forms.
Some seek vengeance as retribution for a grievance crime against an
innocent person. Wanting to right a wrong. Wanting something good to
come out of something bad. Others will seek vengeance in a much more
evil and twisted way. Wanting more bad to come out of the original
crime.

Either way, you feel you are in “the right” for seeking such balance. Even if you aren’t.

The
twisted tale of BANG is very much a story of vengeance. A woman so
desperate to cause some level of pain on the persons she believes were
instrumental in ruining her life. What she will do for her vengeance
has no boundaries.

Until she meets someone that shows her a
different way to live. Someone who gives her what she never had, what
she never knew she needed and can bring a little light to a life full of
darkness. But the web is too well weaved to escape it that easily.

BANG
is not a book for the faint of heart. There are some extremely
horrific moments in it that if they don’t make your stomach turn, you
aren’t quite human.

One thing that I truly loved about BANG is
how well Blair wrote the characters. Even the ones you should hate by
the end of the book, are really difficult too. They are not black and
white people, their lines are blurred and you can’t help but sympathize
with them on some level.

BANG will disturb you, rattle you,
excite you, make you sweat, make you cringe, make you hot. It’s an
intense read with an ending that will have you sad, livid and guessing
at what is to come.

BANG is one of my favorite reads of the year and I think it will be lingering around in my brain for months to come.


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Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Series: Standalone
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★ ½

The sheriff’s son,
Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy
Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from
the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her
everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and
bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with,
Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one
knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when
a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party,
and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out,
Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of
knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody
believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost
of her silence might be more than she can bear. 
With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage
examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act
of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that
refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?
 What a stupid thing it is, to care about a girl.
All the Rage is a gripping story of a damaged girl and her terrifying life, written in Summer’s signature style; wonderfully broken.
Romy makes a mistake, one that so many people make every day. But her mistake leads to a horrific act. A horrific act that leads to a life of hate. A life of hate that leads to twisted circumstances, causing her to lose everything.  Her father, her friends, her sense of self worth, her sanity.
Time passes or it doesn’t, but it must – because it has to.
Being inside Romy’s head was not always easy. It nearly brought me to tears on several occasions, and I’m not a crier.  She has so little faith in people and life. She has no real identity anymore, she sees herself as something like a walking dead girl.  Anyone who does see her as more than she believes herself to be, she keeps at arms length.  Romy’s head is a sad, lonely place.
Normally, my review would talk about the characters and what I loved or disliked about them. This review won’t be that way. The secondary characters are just that, secondary.  This is Romy’s story, hers alone to tell, hers alone to live, hers alone to survive.  I had big emotions for this girl.
I imagine leading him behind the school and into the trees. I imagine stomping on his skull until all his fine, sharp features have turned to pulp. Until all the parts of him that are too familiar disappear.
All the Rage could have been a perfect story for me.  It has so many of the right elements, it’s emotional, dark, twisty and heartfelt.  There was one thing that just didn’t work for me.
I felt like Romy’s story needed to end with a little more resolve, a little more hope.  You have a teenage rape survivor. She goes through hell but lives through it, although not well.  The ending just leaves so much up to the imagination and I wanted to see Romy begin on a path to being a stronger person for everything she’s gone through.  I think that’s important.  I think that’s where Summers was leading readers but I needed more.
Regardless, of my feelings on the ending, I still loved it.   All the Rage is a beautifully written story that needed telling. 

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Review: Prick by Sabrina Paige

Series: A Step Brother Romance #1
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Sabrina Paige
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Source: Purchased from Amazon
Rating: ★★
I can’t stop thinking about that prick.
Caulter Sterling is a prick.
A filthy-mouthed, womanizing, crude, spoiled, arrogant prick.
The tattooed, pierced, panty-melting-hot son of a celebrity.
I hate him.
He’s slept his way through practically every girl at Brighton Academy.
Except for me.
I’m the good girl. The responsible girl. The 4.0, class president, studied-so-much-she-never-lost-the-big-V girl.
And in celebration of graduation and adulthood, I just made the worst decision in the history of ever.
I lost my V-card to the devil himself.
It was just one night. So what if it was mind-blowing? Hit it and quit it.
Except I just found out that my father – the Senator, the Presidential hopeful – is marrying Caulter’s mother. Oh, and this summer? We’re hitting the campaign trail.
One big happy family.
I’m totally f**ked.
Since reading Penelope Ward’s highly popular Stepbrother Dearest (which I loved!), it seems like step-brother romances have been coming out of the woodwork. Stepbrother Dearest definitely wasn’t the first book that I’ve ever read that dealt with step-sibling romance, but it seems like there has been a definite influx of this kind of romance ever since the success of Stepbrother Dearest. I mean there’s this one, and this one, and this one, and this one and countless others. 
PRICK by Sabrina Paige garnered quite a buzz since it’s release and I thought I would give it a try since I do love reading a good taboo romance. The blurb totally caught my attention, and how could I pass up on reading about a tattooed, pierced asshole? 
The plot of PRICK is pretty simple. Virginal and smarty-pants, Kate, goes to the resident male whore and bad boy of her school, Caulter, to help her get rid of her pesky V-Card. He doesn’t know she’s a virgin but they still share a passionate night that neither one can forget. A few weeks later,  Kate’s U.S. Senator father and Caulter’s Hollywood movie star mother, informs them that they’ve been secretly dating and plan on getting married soon. Kate freaks out that she did the nasty with her future step-brother but can’t stop fantasizing about him. The news doesn’t phase Caulter and he continues to drive Kate crazy with his assholeness as he tries to get back in her pants.
Now, the whole reason why readers are so interested in step-sibling romances is for it’s taboo factor. Kate and Caulter’s relationship is supposed to be forbidden, but how could that be when their parents aren’t even married when they first got together? Yes, their parents were in a relationship, but it’s unknown to each of them. And when these two are living under one roof, it never felt like they had to keep their “relationship” a secret because no one was ever around. To me, it never felt like it was a secret or forbidden romance.
And speaking of romance….there was absolutely none! When the couple spends 80% of the book bickering and not even engaging in ANY kind of conversation, how does that convince me that they are falling in love? Caulter is supposed to be the “prick” in this story but I found Kate to be just as much of an asshole as Caulter. The chick loved playing hide the sausage with the dude, and it seemed like that was all she really cared about. Sure they had tons of sex, but it was all gratuitous, and it didn’t portray them as a young couple falling in love. And quickly glossing over their “growth” in a matter of a few sentences towards the end was not enough to convince me of their personal, emotional, and relationship growth. 
Another problem that I had with this book were the ages of the characters. It wasn’t necessarily their ages that bothered me, but more of the characteristics they possessed at that age, specifically Caulter’s alpha behavior. Now, I love me a good alpha male, but Sabrina Paige did not convince me of Caulter’s alphaness in this book. I’m sorry but NO 18 year old male is THAT alpha male. Sure 18 year old boys can be cocky and arrogant, but alpha? No. It felt like Paige was trying to convince me that Caulter acted like some mature man but in reality, he was still very much a self-possessed kid. Even with all his filthy mouth and “you are mine” declarations, he still came off as a very, immature young adult. 
If you’re the kind of reader that’s only into lots of meaningless f*cking then you might like PRICK. In my opinion, there are far better stepbrother romances out there (like Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines, Rival by Penelope Douglas, A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers just to name a few) that offer a great story and characters that are more than one dimensional. If you’re the type of reader that requires more substance and depth from a story and it’s characters, then I would skip this one. I can definitely see how erotica lovers would love this book, but unfortunately for me, this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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Review: Now Leaving Sugartown by Carmen Jenner

Series: Sugartown #4
Release Date: March 11, 2015
Publisher: Carmen Jenner
Genre: New Adult
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★ ½
http://amzn.to/1F4GdVc
Pepper Ryan grew up the
troublesome, spoiled child of a rock god. With her less-than-stellar
parentage, and the bipolar disorder that has plagued her existence, to
say this little firecracker is a handful would be the understatement of
the century.
Sammy Belle spent more than half his life saving
Pepper. He’d been her strength, her sanity, and the protective brotherly
figure she never wanted to have.
They were never meant to be together.
They gave in anyway.
And just when Sammy thought he had everything he wanted, Pepper ran.
Now
twenty-three, Pepper returns to Sugartown, a failed tattoo artist with
one too many screws loose who’s down on her luck, wielding an ice cream
van as beaten up as her heart.
Sugartown’s most coveted bachelor
has always been content with the quiet life he leads until Pepper, the
hellion from his past, returns to test his strength, his patience, and
perhaps even his sanity. But two can play at that game, and Pepper is
about to learn that Sam can give as good as he gets.
Can this
good country boy survive Pepper’s cruel city world, or will the whole
thing be put down to a bout of temporary insanity?
One thing is for certain:
He’s crazy about her.
She’s just crazy.

Warning:
Intended for an 18+ audience. Contains sexual content, oodles of
profanity, a firefighter so hot you may need a very cold shower, and one
pink-haired crazy Harajuku girl. May also contain traces of nuts. Some
scenes within this book may be a trigger for certain readers.
Fucking Jenner.
She got me with this one, I have to admit.  I shed a tear. Damn it all.
I went into Now Leaving Sugartown knowing I would love Sammy and being extremely apprehensive as to how I would feel about Pepper, she was raised by Holly after all – and her mothering skills were something I questioned.
I came out of it really loving them both.  Which is something, because Pepper isn’t the easiest to love, on the surface.
Pepper has issues. In spades. But they aren’t really frivolous or manufactured. For the most part anyway.  She has real problems and she never learned how to deal with those problems.
She never had to. Sammy was always there to take them away, to make things better. Until Pepper realized that staying in Sugartown and being with Sammy – wasn’t what she could do.  Thus beginning years of ‘getting by’, maintaining, but not really living and never loving.
Pepper’s ass landing back in Sugartown leads to hard decisions, big mistakes, epic breakdowns and the possibility of happily ever after. But not after one hell of a long, tough struggle.
That struggle is what did me in.  The moments of complete and utter despair. The minutes spent in a dark, sad and lonely mind.  The times when you feel there is no hope for this girl, for the love of her life or their future. That struggle is scary and broke my heart, for both Pepper and Sammy…the man that just wants to love and save her…just like he always has.
Love isn’t always enough to fix every problem and Sammy has to endure some pretty horrible things in an attempt to help the only girl that has ever mattered. His trials were no less heartbreaking.  I felt all the turmoil right along with him.
This is not just a sad tale of a broken girl though. In signature Jenner style, she sprinkles in some witty remarks and crazy hijinks to balance it out. 
Now Leaving Sugartown is an emotional end to the series and I was happy to see Sammy get to tell his story, it’s a good one – an important one – one that teaches you that life isn’t always rainbow farting unicorns.  Sometimes you’re handed a shit deal but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve better…sometimes it just takes extra effort and a whole lot of love.

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Review: Flick by Abigail Tarttelin

Series: Standalone
Release Date: March 15, 2015
Publisher: Atria
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★
A modern-day Romeo and Juliet
with a voice reminiscent of the rawness of 1970s punk, this
knockout coming-of-age story is told by its charming protagonist Will
Flicker

 
 Set in one town in the northeast of England,
this is the story of a brilliant, unforgettable moment in the life of
two teenagers: a sweet taste of young life, a love letter to hope.
Marooned by a lack of education and a lack of generally anything else
better to do, Will, a.k.a. “Flick,” muses on the artistry behind being a
stoner, whether Pepsi is better than Coke, and why the new girl in town
is just so much hotter than all the familiar slutty girls—or “slappers
and professional-abortionists”—he counts among his friends. As his
relationship with Rainbow, the new girl in town, develops, Flick finds
himself torn between the constraints and loyalty he feels to his old
life and the pull of freedom that Rainbow represents.
Okay…where to start.
First, the synopsis claims “A modern-day Romeo and Juliet
with a voice reminiscent of the rawness of 1970s punk
” – and I was really excited to start this book after reading that little tidbit! Unfortunately, this is not the feel I got from Flick. At all. Ever. At any point. Nope.

Second, the synopsis also claims “lack of education”.  Uh..no. Again, just nope.  He goes to class, he gets good grades, he goes on these ridiculous tangents that are absolutely, totally, 100% meaningless but fucking well thought out none the less.  He’s not a dumb kid, he’s not uneducated.  
Flick is really just an uncaring dickhead.  He uses the excuse of living in a dead-end town, to be a wasted youth.  Which is a pivotal part in the story and there is a real lesson that can be learned from that.  Though, I don’t think it’s delivered even remotely as powerful as it could have been. 
A new girl, Rainbow, moves to town and Flick finally finds some meaning in his life. He falls in love but she’s not willing to aid his life as a stoner.  At this point, several options could happen.  

Some that could deliver strong endings.  Some that will fall flat. Which is exactly what happened, for me, with Flick.
The ending was so anti-climatic.  Furthermore, the entire story was.  There is no excitement, there isn’t any moment where you feel like shit is about to hit the fan, the story follows a shallow and expected arc.
Also, I found myself skimming so much of it.  There were pages and pages of randomness where I just kept asking myself – why is this part of the story? It didn’t give me anything in character development, it didn’t really further the story, it was fluff.  I think those pages would have been better spent on developing a relationship between Flick and Rainbow.  There was so little there, I could not for the life of me figure out what the hell they saw in each other.  They go from a two sentence conversation and the next thing you know they are having sex.
Which leads me to another thing… This book is based in the U.K. and I know they have vastly different legal age determinations there than they do in the U.S.  I felt like I had been pushed into the deep end of teen sex and debauchery.  Flick is fifteen, yet talks like a cocky perverted adult.  This was not a Young Adult book in my opinion.  It’s very mature in language and content.  Which is completely fine, but it still left me disconnected. This is not how I seen teens. Yes, I see them do drugs and have sex…I’m not naive to that but this was just much more over the top.
While I absolutely respect the idea of the message in Flick and I really did enjoy the style in which Tarttelin writes, this just was not a strong enough story for me.  I’m not so turned off that I won’t look at other titles from her, but Flick won’t be hitting my favorites bookshelf either.


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