RERUN Reviews: Bang by E.K. Blair

RERUN Reviews: Bang by E.K. BlairBang by E.K. Blair
Series: Black Lotus #1
May 9, 2014
Genres: Dark Romance
Pages: 418
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Also in this series: Echo
Also by this author: Echo
Amazon US
Goodreads

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.

**Due to the dark and explicit nature of this book, it is recommended for mature audiences only as some scenes may be particularly disturbing.**

Rerun Reviews features reviews by Debbie, previously published on Keep Calm Read Romance or Talk Supe — and reviews by Ali previously published on GingerRead Reviews.

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 grievous crime against an innocent person.  Wanting to right a wrong.  Wanting for 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 people she believes were instrumental in ruining her life.  What she will do for her vengeance has no boundaries.  

But maybe people like me aren’t supposed to be saved. Maybe I’m just destined to bear the weight of the demons that lurk among the good.


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.  

The heart is a weapon—a self-inflicting weapon—that if not trained properly, can destroy a person.

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.  

About E.K. Blair

New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling author, E.K. Blair, takes her readers on an emotional roller coaster with her books. A former first grade teacher with an imagination that runs wild. Daydreaming and zoning out is how she was often found in high school. Blair tends to drift towards everything dark and moody and has been noted as ‘The Queen of Dark and Twisted’. Give her a character and she will take pleasure in breaking them down, digging into their core to find what lies underneath.

Aside from writing, E.K. Blair finds pleasure in music, drinking her Starbucks in peace, and spending time with her friends. She’s a thinker, an artist, a wife, a mom, and everything in between.


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RERUN Review: On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

RERUN Review: On Dublin Street by Samantha YoungOn Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Series: On Dublin Street #1
Published by Signet July 2, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 372
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.

Rerun Reviews features reviews by Debbie, previously published on Keep Calm Read Romance or Talk Supe — and reviews by Ali previously published on GingerRead Reviews.

After reading On Dublin Street I was surprised to find out that this was Samantha Young’s first venture into the adult romance category. I was totally astounded by that little tid-bit because On Dublin Street was so incredibly awesome. If you are a sucker for a sexy man with an accent then I can tell you right now you will be falling and swooning hard for Braden Carmichael. Weeks after reading this book I am still thinking about that sexy Scotsman. I’m kind of kicking myself right now because I’m just getting to this review and not told you about the awesomeness of this book.

College student, Jocelyn ‘Joss’ Butler has been living on her own in Scotland for the last four years. Joss had lived through enough heartache and loss that would last a lifetime. She loses her mother, father and younger sister in a single tragic vehicle accident at a young age and has been on her own ever since. So as soon as she graduated high school in America, she quickly jumps on a plane to moves to Scotland, her mothers homeland. Not wanting to suffer through such tragic heartache again, Joss keeps everyone around her at an arm’s length. She’s unwilling to let herself care for others, including her roommate and new friends in Scotland. After her best friend and roommate moves to London, Joss is on the hunt for a new flat and finds a vacancy for a beautiful flat on Dublin Street.

“Our attraction was nuclear. I had never known anything like it. It made Braden Carmichael extremely dangerous to me.”

“Why the hell did he have to be the human version of a sexually charged nuclear weapon?”

On the way to visiting her new potential home and future roommate, Joss has a chance meeting with an alluring Scotsman. They unexpectedly share a cab ride and from the instant she meets this mystery man, Joss recognizes her attraction to this stranger. Although she’s attracted to sexy Scotsman, Joss is put off by his flirty ways and cockiness. Leaving the mystery man in the cab, Joss goes on to inspect her new flat and agrees to move in with the young and beautiful, Ellie Carmichael.

Unbeknownst to Joss, Ellie happens to be the younger half-sister of Braden Carmichael, the stranger she shared a cab ride the first time she visited Dublin Street. The two unexpectedly meet again when Joss steps out of bathroom totally naked and runs into Braden in the hallway of her flat. Not only is Braden Ellie’s brother but he also happens to be the owner of the flat and feels he can walk-in whenever he pleases. Braden makes it clear from the very beginning that he’s interested in Joss and even tries to stake a claim on her even before they start any sort of relationship. Although Joss acts put off by Braden, she’s unable to keep herself around him and finds out that he’s not so bad to be around with. She’s extremely attracted to him but as her rule in life, refuses to let her self get close to him. Braden presents Joss with a “friends with benefits” deal where that can satisfy each others desires and needs with no strings attached.

“After last night, there’s no denying the promise of what’s between us. I’m not backing off, so rather than coming up with a new defense – which I’m sure I’d find highly entertaining – just give in, babe. You know you’re going to eventually.”

From the moment Joss and Braden get together, their relationship was absolutely electrifying. Braden will completely sweep you off your feet and consume all of your thoughts. Even with his cockiness and bluntness, you will not be able to ward off his charms. Braden totally had me from the moment you meet him in the cab ride scene and he continued to woo me till the very end. I found his aggressive and dominant persona to win Joss over completely sexy. With his determination, Braden was the first person in years to crack the protective wall Joss had built ever since she was a freshman in high school. He not only wanted to break down her barriers but he was willing to stick around even when Joss was hurdling through all her personal issues.

Joss was an interesting character. Although I found her never ending melodrama annoying at times, I couldn’t find myself not liking her. Seeing the barriers she’s created throughout the years is understandable, especially after suffering a great loss at such a young age. It’s a little heartbreaking to see her isolate herself because of her fears. Joss thinks that if she just lives in the now, she won’t set herself up for heartbreak in the future. You are with her when she finally starts to let herself feel for others around her and you see her wanting to make a change in her life and psyche. Some of the scenes I really enjoyed while Joss was working through all the muddle in her head took place in her therapists office. Her therapist didn’t push her to do things but allowed her to work things out in her own pace. She was even able to let Joss workout her feelings for Braden and the therapist was a fan of him from the very beginning.

“You’re a good person, which makes the fact that you don’t trust anyone really hard for the people who care about you.”

Everyone I follow who said this book was excellent was absolutely right! On Dublin Street was such a wonderful treat and I devoured this book in about a day. It was an emotional, angsty and enthralling read that me wide-eyed and glued to my Kindle. I really enjoyed seeing Joss grow and learn how to love and trust those around her. Braden is able to teach her how to trust and love someone whole heartedly. Ellie is even able to teach Joss that it’s easy to care for folks even with all of their faults. With Braden and Ellie’s help, Joss is able to learn that loving someone should not be something that we fear and that she is only holding herself back from finding peace and happiness by withdrawing herself from those who love and care about her. Like I said I was shocked to find out that this was Samantha Young’s first adult romance novel. On Dublin Street had all the passion and intensity that I crave in adult romances. Ms. Young created captivating characters and an emotionally and sexually charged story that will leave you wanting more, more and more.


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RERUN Review: True Love Story by Willow Aster

RERUN Review: True Love Story by Willow AsterTrue Love Story by Willow Aster
Published by Willow Aster February 24, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 385
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

Growing up in an idealistic home, Sparrow Fisher is sheltered and innocent. When she meets Ian Sterling, a musician who is rising in popularity, she instantly falls for his charm. They run into each other over the next few months and eventually begin an unconventional relationship.

At different places in their lives, Sparrow is off to college in New York, and Ian is traveling the country with the band. When they see each other, all seems wonderful and lighthearted, but when they’re apart, Sparrow is left to wonder if Ian really cares about her the way he says he does, or if she’s just another pretty face to him.

Once their relationship steadies, they’re both happier than they’ve ever been, and it’s hard to not get caught up in the magic they have together. Until something so devastating comes to light that threatens to shatter everything they’ve built with each other.

True Love Story is a story about the real highs and lows that come with a relationship—happiness, pain, angst, and finding out if love really is enough.

Rerun Reviews features reviews by Debbie, previously published on Keep Calm Read Romance or Talk Supe — and reviews by Ali previously published on GingerRead Reviews.

People when I tell you that this book is amazing, please, please, please believe me whole heartedly. I absolutely loved this to the very core of my being and cannot stop gushing about it. Willow Aster’s debut novel, True Love Story, is the type of book that captures you immediately, especially when she opens with this…

“It has been a year, two months, and seventeen days since I last saw him. Two years, ten months, and five days since he broke my heart – well since I knew that he had broken my heart. Technically, he began breaking my heart the moment I met him, five years eleven months, and one day ago.” 

True Love Story begins in the present time where we meet 23 year old Sparrow as she’s waiting to board a plane headed for New Orleans. The person she has been avoiding for the past two years happens to walk up to the very same gate she’s waiting in. Ian Sterling was her first true love and the man who brought her so much joy, sorrow, and shattered her heart into a million pieces. She tries to avoid him, but as fate would have it, he spots her before she can get away and he is determined to not let this opportunity to talk to her slip away. The two eventually sit next to each other on the flight and Sparrow thrusts us back five years and recalls the moment she met Ian and how her life would never be the same afterwards.

“I see this face every night when I close my eyes. All day long, I think I see you, everywhere I got. I’ve dreamed this so many times, I’m not even sure you’re real right now. Are you really here?”

When Sparrow first meets up and coming musician, Ian, she is the 18 year old daughter of a preacher and is on the cusp of starting her new life as a college student in New York. While she loves her seamlessly perfect life, Sparrow is ready to branch out and unfold the secrets the rest of the world holds. She may be the preachers daughter but she regards herself differently and has always liked to march to the beat of her own drum. The moment she meets Ian, she’s rocked from her axis and the attraction she feels for Ian is instant and undeniable. Over the next few years they have a few more encounters but the attraction between the two never fades and the two grow closer and closer. Eventually, they allow their attraction and feelings to spill and the two embark on an all-consuming relationship that will change them forever and teach them important lessons about love, lies, trust, and forgiveness.

“Ugh What has he done to me? I’m talking in romance novel terms.”

I absolutely loved Sparrow. She has this incredibly cute quirkiness about her that was absolutely infectious. Although she’s introduced as the innocent and virginal preachers daughter, she’s not oblivious or too naive as some might have first perceived. She’s extremely smart, motivated, and brave enough to branch out. She might not have always made the best decisions when it came to her love life, but it was necessary for her to learn about the facts and truths about love.

Like Sparrow, I was instantly allured by Ian’s mystique. He’s described as being absolutely gorgeous and the added fact that he’s a rockstar makes him absolutely irresistible. But Ian is a very flawed character and he’s honest and up front with Sparrow from the beginning and warns her that he is not a good person. So, from that moment on you know he’s bound to make a mistake along the road but the heart wants what it wants and Sparrow’s heart wanted Ian even with his flaws. As much as I loved Ian, I did want to hurt the guy for nearly breaking our heroine. But just like Sparrow, Ian also learns the reality about love and what it really means to love another. Although he might have learned the lesson too a little too late, I was pleased that he was able to redeem himself (somewhat…and eventually); and that when push comes to shove, he forced himself to change for the better. 

“It’s a powerful feeling to know this magnetic, dangerous, quirky, beautiful sexy…man wants me. Agony is almost worth it if I could just be with him.”

Sparrow and Ians love story definitely had some highs and lows and as I was reading this book I found myself to be totally submerged in the emotions that Sparrow was feeling through out this whole journey. Every single one of her reactions and emotions is what I would have gone through if I were in her shoes, which is what made this book so true and real.

Willow Aster’s tale of Sparrow’s first, last and only true love was brilliantly honest and emotional. While True Love Story gives a good dose of angst, there wasn’t anything over the top or sensationalized. Instead, Aster presents a story that felt incredibly organic, and as the book title alludes to – a true love story. I found the epilogue to be perfect and left me believing that sometimes love is strong enough to save you and bring you back from the depths of despair you might have been thrust into.

“All this searching for something, someone, ANYTHING to dull the ache that he left…I know it will never be filled. He’s the only one I’ll ever love.”

Once again, I must state that this book was brilliant and highly recommend it to all contemporary romance readers (especially, new adult lovers). I cannot wait to see what else this author has to offer in the future and I will now be desperately waiting to get this book in paperback form to add to my ultimate favorite bookshelf.

 

 

About Willow Aster

Willow Aster is the author of USA Today bestseller, True Love Story, In the Fields, and Maybe Maby. Willow loves nothing more than writing the day away—anywhere will do. Her husband and two children graciously put up with her endless daydreaming; otherwise, the writing would never get done. She’s also an avid reader, and has been known to walk, cook, and clean with her nose in a book. She’s lived in Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, and California, but Minnesota has captured her now and doesn’t seem to be letting go. Although shy, this lifelong writer and artist is convinced that the best part of this career for her is meeting and connecting with readers, authors, and all of those in this community of lovers of words.


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RERUN Reviews: Back to You by Priscilla Glenn

RERUN Reviews: Back to You by Priscilla GlennBack to You by Priscilla Glenn
Series: Standalone
Published by Priscilla Glenn October 20, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N

When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.

Or that it would end so painfully.

Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.

As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome?

Rerun Reviews features reviews by Debbie, previously published on Keep Calm Read Romance or Talk Supe — and reviews by Ali previously published on GingerRead Reviews.

BACK TO YOU begins with our heroine, 26 year old Lauren Monroe, applying for a preschool teaching position at Learn and Grown Day Care. After impressing the head of the school, Lauren is immediately offered the position. On her first day of school Lauren welcomes a new student to her class but is stunned and surprised that she’s the daughter of her ex-best friend from high school, Michael Delaney. Seeing Michael after eight long years automatically floods Lauren’s mind with the memories and strong emotions she had kept tucked away or tried to forget. Being that she’s Michael’s daughter’s teacher, Lauren is unable to avoid him forever and must face the man that changed her so many years ago. Michael Delaney was the only boy in Lauren’s life that had totally captured her heart but would ultimately break it and leave her unable to truly give herself away to another man. 

 

She couldn’t help but smile at the irony of the fact that the baddest boy in school could somehow always make her feel like the world was good.

 
The story of BACK TO YOU is told between the present and flashbacks from Lauren and Michael’s time in high school and moments in Michael’s younger years. Lauren and Michael were an unlikely pair from the time they met and became friends back in high school. Lauren was the sweet, quiet, and follows the rules by the book kind of girl while Michael was the mysterious, volatile, and troubled teen. Although there were several rumors floating around about Michael, Lauren feels drawn to Michael and befriends him. Over the years the two become best friends and carve a special place in each others lives.
 
 
Michael was a misguided teen and lacked the love and an attention a young boy should have been receiving from his mother. The guilt his mother had been burdening him with over the years eventually leads him to believe that he will never be good enough for anyone. For Lauren, Michael was everything she’d ever wanted. Even with all of his faults and issues, Michael was all she ever wanted. But no matter how hard she tried to penetrate the wall he’d erected and show him how much she loved him, Lauren was still unable to convince Michael that he was not the bad person he’d been led to believe. It’s Michael’s fears of being a disappointment that eventually leads him to break Lauren’s heart and leave her feeling betrayed. 
 

I always knew I would fall in love with you, but you were never supposed to love me back.

 
While the story of BACK TO YOU isn’t all that new or unique, it’s Priscilla Glenn’s execution that makes it distinct and beautiful. You discover these two characters when they are young and vulnerable teenagers and then as adults who are still coming to terms with the consequences of their actions. Lauren still struggles with the heartbreak she suffered by Michael. Michael was her first and greatest love and one that she obviously isn’t able to forget. Michael has settled down since his high school days but still carries the same insecurities and emotional bruises from his childhood. Priscilla Glenn lets you fall in love with Lauren and Michael’s love story not only when they’re teenagers but as adults. For Lauren, this story is about her finding the love she had lost and getting a second chance at holding on to that love and never letting go. She rediscovers why she fell in love with him in the first place through her memories from the past and spending time with him and his daughter in the present. As for Michael, it’s about his redemption, forgiveness and regaining the trust he’d lost so many years ago.
 
Sometimes if something is really important to you, it gets stuck in your body. So even if your mind thinks that it’s gone, it’s still there, kind of hiding inside of you, just waiting for you to remember. It never goes away.
 
For lovers of contemporary romance, or for those who are looking for a sweet, emotional story full of love, second chances, and redemption, then BACK TO YOU is one book you’ll want to add to your library. Priscilla Glenn has definitely made her mark with this touching story that will leave you laughing, crying, and discovering ever lasting love.
 

 

 


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