New Release: Wish You Were Mine by Tara Sivec + Giveaway

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Story of Us and Fisher’s Light comes a new, standalone novel—a heartwrenching story about first loves and second chances that will make you fall in love all over again….




Five years.  I would have stayed away longer if I hadn’t received the letter.Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about her, haven’t missed her smile, haven’t wished that things were different.

The last time I saw my two best friends, I vowed to not stand in the way of their happiness, even if that meant I couldn’t be a part of their lives. Cameron James and her emerald-green eyes were too much of a temptation and I couldn’t stay and watch them together. Cameron deserved better than me. She deserved him.

But now that I am back, things are different.  I’m not going to stand by and watch the woman I’ve always loved slip away again. I’m done living my life with regrets and I’m ready to tell her the truth. And I’ll do whatever it takes to show her that I always wished she was mine.

Book Links:  AmazonB&N  | iBooks  |  Kobo 

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(courtesy of Forever Romance)


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Chat Review: Grip Series by Kennedy RyanStill by Kennedy Ryan
Series: Grip #2
September 24, 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 434
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

**STILL is the conclusion of Grip & Bristol's emotional journey. You must read FLOW, the prequel, and GRIP, book 1 before beginning STILL**

I'll be there.
Through thick and thin.
Ride or die.
You can count on me.

The promises people make.
The vows we take.
Assumptions of the heart.
Emotion tells us how we feel, but has a way of plunging us in boiling water, burning away our illusions, testing our faith, trying our convictions.
Love floating is a butterfly, but love tested is an anchor.

For Grip and Bristol,
Love started at the top of the world
On a Ferris wheel under the stars
But when that love is tested, will they fly or fall?.


Technically, we will be chatting about the entire GRIP series: Flow, the prequel novella, book #1 Grip and book #2 Still. We can’t really tell you what’s going to happen here, this was an unexpectedly emotional series and our black hearts are just going to bleed all over this page. 


Q. Three words to describe the Grip Series?

Ali: I have three words. One for each book. Flow is the BONES of the series, the foundation. Grip is the BLOOD. Still is the HEART, the key to making it all of it work. Okay, fuck this. I have so many more words than just three. THIS IS THE MOST RELEVANT ROMANCE YOU COULD BE READING RIGHT NOW. And…you should be reading it. Not only for the romance, for the brilliant perspective on racial tension and stereotypes, or for the heart stopping words Ryan writes in regards to healing, or for the absolutely poetic way she has written these three books. But, for all those reasons combined. You will learn something from these books and hopefully it’s something you can take with you and teach someone else. 

Tiffany: How am I supposed to follow up to that?! Ali you legit just went Iz on me and I’m like stuck on stupid right now trying to pull up the dictionary! Lol. But okay three words let me try… POIGNANT because so many scenes throughout the entire series moved my emotions and forced them to exist outside of the space I gave them.  CONSEQUENTIAL because every action had a consequence whether it be hurtful or helpful, it proved how we all need to be more accountable in this world.  And lastly I think I am going to have to say LIFE, this book is real life with the added benefit of romance.  Grip and Bristol lead a LIFE we should aspire to have, their ever present awareness and curiosity in all facets of life are awe inspiring.  

Ali: You are so right. We should all aspire to live a life as full as them!



Q: Flow while just as vital as Grip and Still set up a foundation and possibly a tone for Bristol and Grip’s relationship, how did you feel going into Grip? 

Tiff: I was excited and oh so nervous.  I felt like from the start Bristol was this unknown of sorts. Grip saw her as this powerhouse and curious soul from the start and I loved that but I think he was the only one. Her parents and even Rhyson (at the time) for a lack of better words just didn’t get her or her motives. I don’t even think I answered this question properly but going into Grip after the many years later I felt “READY” well I thought I was ready, till Kennedy Ryan was like SIKEEEEE.

Ali: Same. For those who originally met Bristol in the Soul series, she was a mystery. She was intriguing, for sure, and you couldn’t help but be curious about her relationship with Grip. But, unknown, she was. As was he. So, Flow was essential reading to get that background and it made me so excited to see how things would shake out in Grip.

Tiff: I just finished the first the first book in the Soul Series, like half ass obsessing is not something I am capable of… I know though, I’m late to the game!


Q: Quick question, on a scale of 1-10 how much time do you want to spend on a rooftop with Grip? 

Ali: 10×10. All day. Every day. No questions asked. That man is sexy. And fucking sweet. Sexy sweet!

Tiff: The answer is infinite, I would like to spend an infinite amount of time with him up there while he reads poetry and does dirty things.  He is filthy, AND I LOVE IT!

Ali: Filthy is so true. His sniffing…fuck. Who would have thought that could be so fucking hot?

Tiff: FIRE! He was so dirty, I couldn’t even deal!


Q. Did Still go in any of the directions you anticipated?

Ali: Hell to the no, man. Nowhere even close. To be brutally honest, I expected more of what we got in Grip. Celebrity and racial prejudices getting in the way of a #gripstol happy ever after. I DID NOT SEE WHAT HAPPENED COMING IN A MILLION YEARS. And even though it was so emotional and I cried (and cried and cried), I loved that Kennedy went there. Brilliantly went there.

Tiffany: FUCK NO!! I am in total agreement with you, while they still battled racial prejudices I was still expecting that to be the main war. WRONG. I loved that you cried as much as I love the book!  You are greedy with your tears so basically it’s like Kennedy won a grammy. The direction she went set her apart from so many books right now, and it wasn’t just the direction but the execution. As hard as it is, I could live in that rawness with them time and time again, that’s the kind of s*d I love.  <- Is that a spoiler? I put an asterisk in the word… HAHHAHA.

Ali: Hahaha, like she won a grammy!! Her execution was genius. No other word for it.


Q: Racism and reverse racism were not issues that Kennedy shied away from in the least and the way she portrayed each side was so relevant.  But she also softened it for us and readers to understand and process it. Was there any one quote that spoke to you directly?

Ali: So many, but the one that stood out for me, is the one Bristol used to make a very important point. “Too many of our American systems are built on bias. The irony is that these biases are often inextricably, if unconsciously, connected to our own sense of superiority. The very biases that make those in power feel stronger, better, actually weaken them. Our biases are our blind spots, and we need others to guide us in the darkness of our own ignorance.”

This spoke so true to me. But, I also loved that when Kennedy was guiding one character with the words of another – it was done with patience and understanding. We see people, in real life, so easily write off ignorance with insults and more hate. It’s no way to change someone’s perspective. Kennedy showed it can be done with rational conversation and I loved that.

Tiff: “…Ignorance is a naturally occurring state. It’s not what you feel guilty about, it’s what you do something about. We are born not knowing, and our experiences feed us information. You limit your knowledge and understanding of not only your place in this world, but the place and plight of others by doing what you’ve always done and knowing only what you’ve always known. Position yourself socially and intellectually to know more, to understand beyond the scope of your experiences. That is how we evolve as individuals and as a society.”

That spoke to my soul and while I know so many of us do what we can we have to do more.  We have to try harder, we have to progressively move forward even if we are doing it singularly at first.  There are so many truths I feel this book will impart on us, I know it opened my eyes and heart even more.  I’m not blind to the injustices of the world but this passage truly made me dig  deeper within myself.  These words I am grateful for.


Q. Final thoughts?

Tiff: Quick to the point… Life and death do not care what color you are, what God you do or do not pray to, the amount of money you have or do not have.  We all enter and leave this world the same way. The first breath in and the last breath out, we may get there differently but it will all happen the same. Love who you want and be who you want, but DO NOT hate anyone for doing that. This book is powerful, something everyone could benefit from reading whether you are a romance reader or not. Also when can we read it again, because I want to see Ali cry! Hahaha!

Ali: Now I’m not sure how to follow that. This series is further proof that humanity needs to adjust our perspectives and opinions of others, but it’s also proof that we CAN. It may not stick the first time, or the fourth time, but eventually…we can learn and evolve. Society may struggle with this time and time again, hopefully in lesser and lesser forms. But as long as we have people willing to teach and to love, indiscriminately, we’ll continue to grow.

Gah! This is all so deep for a romance review. Then again, this is much more than a romance.





About Kennedy Ryan

Kennedy Ryan grew up in North Carolina, but loves living in Atlanta with her husband (tall – check, dark – check – handsome – check), and her handful of a son. Though she knew, like writers often do, that she was supposed to tell stories, the road to fulfillment has been paved with “some of everything” jobs that kept her family eating and living indoors. With her degree in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Tar Heels!), she has focused on writing for non-profit organizations and even doing some non-fiction ghost writing. Only in the last few years did she start telling stories again.

In addition to being a devoted wife and mom, she’s also passionate about serving families living with Autism. Her son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two, and she has made it her mission to help as many families as possible find the resources and services they need.

I am just as passionate about the REAL LIFE stories I tell as I am about the worlds I build in fiction. Some of these use my given TINA DULA and some are written under my pseudonym KENNEDY RYAN.

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Chapter Reveal: Exes with Benefits by Nicole Williams

Chapter Reveal: Exes with Benefits by Nicole WilliamsExes with Benefits by Nicole Williams
September 18, 2017
Also by this author: Mister Wrong
Amazon US

***He wants a second chance. I want a divorce. To get what I want, I’ll have to give him what he does.***

From New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Nicole Williams:

The only benefit I want from my ex is a divorce.

We got married for all the wrong reasons. The one thing we got right was our separation. I should have known better than to think I could bet on forever with a guy like Canaan Ford. Everything about him screamed impermanent, from his wild eyes to his restless soul.

When I left him and the small town I’d spent my whole life in, I swore I’d never go back. Never only turned out to be five years. Canaan claims he’s changed, but he hasn’t—same knowing smile, same rough demeanor, same body crafted from sin and sinew. And yet, something is different. He thinks this is his chance for redemption. My disagreement comes in the form of divorce papers dropped in his lap. He refuses to sign them. Unless . . .

He wants a month to prove himself to me—that’s his offer. One month to make me fall in love with him again and if I don’t, he’ll sign the papers. As much as I want to say no, I agree. I can suffer my ex for a short amount of time if that’s what it takes to be free of him once and for all. I fell for him once; I won’t make that same mistake twice.

He says we’re not over. I say we were over before we got started. Only one of us can be right, and I can’t let it be him.

We’re pretty excited for this book and so thankful to have an early chapter – check it out!


Chapter 1



It was the one relationship guarantee we could all expect. Whether it was death or circumstance, tragedy or choice, it was the only promise we were assured. Goodbye. It had been coming since the day we met, and now it was here. Sooner than I’d hoped. Even sooner than the sensible segment of me had predicted.
Still, it was later than maybe I should have expected out of a relationship with Canaan Ford.
I’d been waiting all night for his truck to rumble up the driveway when it finally did just past two a.m.. Before his footsteps echoed up the stairs, I shouldered the couple of bags I’d packed and waited in the shadows of the hallway. My paintbrushes were sticking out of one of my oversized totes, tickling the underside of my arm. I’d packed everything that seemed important at the time, but now, I wasn’t sure that what I’d stuffed in my bags mattered at all.
It was late, dark, and Canaan would be coming home exhausted, hurting, and some degree of drunk. He wouldn’t see me, and I could just slip away without him knowing.
Maybe I should have left before he made it back, but whenever I tried, my feet froze to the floor before I could make it to the door. I needed to wait for him to get home first—to make sure he was okay before I left him. That might have been a messed up model of morality, but most of Canaan’s and my relationship was messed up, from the beginning to now, the ending.
He struggled with the key in the lock before shoving the door open and clomping straight toward the couch. He’d stopped crawling into bed beside me after a night of fighting and drinking months ago, like he thought it would spare me the pain of seeing him bloodied and plastered. It never had. The black eyes, the swollen lips, the bruised ribs; they were that much worse in the light of morning.
Canaan had barely crashed onto the sofa before his breathing evened out. Still, I waited another minute in the hallway before moving into the living room.
Don’t look, Maggie. Don’t let yourself look at him.
I looked. Of course I looked. I never listened to what was best for me—if I had, my life would have wound up so much differently.
He was already passed out, sprawled across the couch we’d bought at a yard sale the summer before . . .
Before all of this.
One arm and one leg were hanging off the end, his face tipped far enough toward me I could gauge the type of fight he’d been in tonight. A good one by Canaan’s definition—the best kind. The type where his opponent got in as many hits as he did. The type of fight that made him almost question if it would be the first one he’d lose. Canaan loved the challenge, the fight. He thrived off of chaos, seeming to wilt when life was simple. I used to admire that about him, and maybe I still did. It just wasn’t the life for me. I couldn’t live life like it was a battle—not anymore.
He was passed out hard, but I still crept slowly toward the front door, my heart thundering as the boards creaked below me. Even though I was moving toward the door, my eyes stayed on him.
Look away.
I couldn’t. Canaan was the best part of my life. And the worst. The best memories. And the worst. He was the high and the low and I was so damn tired of the sick cycle I thought would kill me one day.
As my hand cupped around the cool doorknob, my eyes burned. This was it. As resolved as I’d felt in the weeks leading up to this, I felt like I was being torn in half by walking away. I knew if I stayed, this relationship would be the end of me. But at the moment, leaving felt like the same.
Lying on that couch, he looked so vulnerable. Almost like he needed someone to protect him. From the world. From his demons. From himself. I’d tried. God, I’d been trying for what felt like forever, but the only thing I had to show for my efforts was scars and pain.
One of his eyes was swollen shut, his bottom lip three times its normal size, and he’d split the same eyebrow open again. It was going to need stiches. Six, I guessed. I’d gotten really good as estimating the number of stiches needed to seal a wound.
A sob rose from my chest, but I managed to swallow it back down. He was the only boy I’d ever loved—the only one I’d ever come close to loving. In some ways, he was perfect for me. But in more ways, especially lately, he was entirely wrong for me.
That was why I needed to leave. We might have been good together, but we weren’t good for each other. I knew that now.
I opened the door slowly, so it wouldn’t make a sound, then I let myself take one last look at the life I was leaving behind before I forced myself to walk away.
Now that I wasn’t looking at him, moving was easier. Each step down from our little apartment above the garage came quicker, so by the time I reached the ground, I was jogging.
Canaan’s truck was parked right beside my old car. Ancient was maybe a better description of how “mature” my car was. It was almost like he’d known I was going to leave tonight, because he’d parked his truck so close I could barely crack my door open half a foot. Getting my bags tossed into the backseat and managing to wiggle in through the door was a tight fit, but I made it work.
The moment I was inside, I jammed the key in the ignition and turned it over. I didn’t pause. I didn’t flinch. The hardest part was behind me, and now I needed to keep moving.
Easing my car around the truck, I noticed the one light burning inside the big house in my rearview mirror. Grandma knew what was happening tonight and was keeping her light on for me as her unique way of expressing that no matter what, she was here for me. She’d keep the light on—even when it felt like there was nothing but darkness around me.
My throat constricted as I kept backing down the long driveway. I’d tried saving him, but it had cost me almost everything. I was taking what I had left and saving myself.
As I rolled past Grandma’s front porch, my gaze shifted from the rearview mirror to that little garage apartment I’d lived the last eleven months in. The door was open, light was streaming from inside, and a dark, towering shadow loomed in the doorway.
My foot instinctively moved toward the brake. Canaan was too far away for me to determine the look on his face, but I could imagine it. It came easy since I’d known him as long as I had. Knowing his face was like second nature.
He stayed unmoving in that doorway for a moment, my car doing the same. It wasn’t until he started moving down the stairs that my foot flew back to the gas. If he got to me before I made it out of this driveway, I wouldn’t leave. I knew it. Walking away from someone I loved was hard enough, but Canaan wasn’t just someone I loved—he was someone I’d shared everything with. He’d walked with me through the hardest part of my life, and I’d walked with him through his. We’d been each other’s beacon, shelter, and compass through all of life’s shit . . .
So how had we gotten here? To this hopeless, dead end of a place?
He was charging down the stairs now, taking them two at a time. How was he able to move that nimbly when he’d just been comatose on the couch?
The windows were rolled up, but his shout broke through the glass, sounding so close it was almost like he was pressed against me, whispering it into my ear.
He sprinted the moment his feet touched the ground, his long arms pumping hard at his sides.
“Canaan, don’t,” I whispered inside the car, my lower lip trembling as I focused on the driveway behind me. “Please don’t.”
I didn’t miss the shadow that had appeared in that lit window. Grandma was watching me leave, witnessing Canaan trying to convince me to stay. Before, his attempts had been successful, but not this time. I couldn’t stay for him one more time—I had to leave for me.
“Maggie! Please!”
Canaan’s shouts were so loud, they were going to wake up the neighbors a few acres over. Each word emanated like a blast inside the car.
“Let me go,” I whispered as I swung the car onto the street.
Right before I could punch it into drive and hit the gas, Canaan swooped in front of the car. His chest was moving hard from the exertion, his snug white tee stained with fresh and dried blood. His face was so messed up it was practically unrecognizable, but I couldn’t help seeing the young boy with a clip-on tie walk up to me when I was frozen on a porch step, appraising me with those wild gold eyes before holding out a tiny box. How had that boy, who’d saved me back then, become the ruin of me now?
When I revved the engine, he didn’t move. Instead, he slid closer so his legs were pushing against the bumper. He raised his arms like he was surrendering, his unswollen eye landing on me. “I’m not letting you leave. Not without a fight.”
A breath rolled past my lips—a fight. Everything was a fight with him. He couldn’t land enough hits or take enough. His guilt wouldn’t let him.
Cranking down the window, I made myself glare at him. It was harder to achieve than it should have been. “I’m not something you win or lose in a fight.”
His jaw moved as he pressed his hands into the hood of the car. “You fight for what’s important. That’s the way life is. And you are worth every fight I have in me.”
“You’re too busy fighting everyone else—including yourself—to fight for me.” My sight blurred as I stared at him. So little of the person I’d fallen in love with remained. So little of who he’d fallen in love with remained in me as well. “I can’t wait around, watching you kill yourself one fight and drink at a time.”
He wiped at his split-open brow, leaving a streak of blood on his forearm. “I can change.”
My fingers tightened around the steering wheel. How many times had I heard those words come from his lips? Those same lips that claimed ownership of my first kiss?
“Yeah, you can.” I steeled myself against him a little more. “That’s not your problem. Your problem is that you won’t change.”
“This time I will.” His head whipped side to side. “It’s taken this, you trying to leave me, to slap some sense into me.”
I’d tried leaving so many times. This was just the furthest I’d ever made it. “I’m not trying to leave you. I am leaving you.” I made myself look at him. I made myself appear strong when I felt so very opposite. “This is it.”
He slowly came around the side of the car toward me. I rolled up the window halfway, aiming my eyes at the road in front of me.
“One more chance.” Even from a few feet back, I could smell the alcohol on his breath. I could smell the sweat and blood on him mixed with it, the trace of perfume that didn’t belong to me.
“You’ve had a thousand one more chances.” I studied him from the corners of my eyes, knowing better than to let them lock on his when he was this close. “This was your last one.”
“Maggie . . .” His hands formed around the lip of the window. His knuckles were split open and swollen, dried blood covering them. Still, I wasn’t sure I’d ever craved having them reach for me more. I wasn’t sure I’d ever needed him to pull me to his broken body and soul more than I did right then.
In that moment, I might have needed him more than I needed air, but I couldn’t give in. Kicking the habit was the only way to cure myself.
“Let me go, Canaan.” My legs were trembling as my foot moved back to the gas.
His head lowered so it was in line with mine. “You’re my wife.”
My left hand curled farther around the steering wheel, until I couldn’t see the gold band circling my finger. “No. I was your wife.”
His head dropped for half a second, his eyes flashing with defeat right before. “I love you.”
​My chest ached. The man was the boy again, and I wanted to save him the way he’d saved me. But I couldn’t. The only person who could save Canaan Ford was Canaan Ford.
“I promised to love you forever, and I will.” My foot touched the accelerator. “But I can’t spend forever with you.”
His hands braced around the window harder when I rolled forward. “I made a promise. To you, and to myself. A promise to love you forever. To look after you as long.”
When I found my mind drifting to that overcast afternoon eleven months ago, my heart wringing when I remembered the way he’d stared at me as we repeated those phrases in the courthouse, I shook my head. Good memories weren’t enough. Hope wasn’t enough. Empty promises weren’t even close to enough.
“We exchanged vows.” My eyes focused on the road in front of me, letting go of the dead end beside me. “There’s a difference between saying them and meaning them.”
When my foot pushed down on the gas, Canaan moved with the car. “I’m not letting you go. I’m not giving up.” The car moved faster, his feet pounding the asphalt as he struggled to keep up.
“I know. But I’m giving in.” Breaking my own rule, I let my eyes meet his before punching the gas pedal as far down as it would go. “Goodbye.”
That was enough. Hearing that word shocked him just enough to still him. For one second. I didn’t ease up on the gas, not even when I heard his fists pounding the trunk as he struggled to keep up.
“I can change!” His footsteps were thundering after the car. “I will change.”
With him behind me, I let the tears I’d been fighting fall. Everything I’d ever known—my whole life—was getting smaller and smaller behind me. With every tick of the odometer.
“MAGGIE!!!” His voice pierced the air one last time before I was too far away to hear whatever came next.
It was morning by the time I stopped seeing his reflection in the rearview mirror, still chasing me into my new life.



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Review: A Strange Hymn (The Bargainer #2) by Laura Thalassa

Review: A Strange Hymn (The Bargainer #2) by Laura ThalassaA Strange Hymn by Laura Thalassa
Series: The Bargainer #2
May 27, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Also in this series: Rhapsodic
Also by this author: Rhapsodic

Siren and soulmate to the King of Night, Callypso Lillis survived the clutches of Karnon, the mad king, and his twisted prison. But the nightmare isn’t over. Callie wears the physical reminders of her time as a captive, and mounting evidence suggests the Thief of Souls is still out there.

When a fae celebration thrusts Callie and her mate, Desmond Flynn, into the Kingdom of Flora, they take their investigation with them. But under the bright lights and striking blooms of the realm, they find there are more immediate issues to deal with. No place is more uniquely savage than the great fae halls, and no amount of bargains can save Callie from royal intrigues.

Fairies play dangerous games. Some want love, some want vengeance, some want flesh, and some want things too unspeakable to utter. One thing is for sure: no one is who they appear to be. Not even Des, who only grows more enigmatic with every passing secret.

But the Kingdom of Flora has its own secrets, from bleeding trees to branded slaves and missing guards. Something is stirring in the land of all that grows, and if Callie isn’t careful, it will claim everything and everyone she loves—and her along with it.

The obsession continues.

If you didn’t see my reviews for Rhapsodic, book one in The Bargainer series, you can go read me gush >here<. If you did see it, you know that I fecking loved it. A whole lot. It’s my favorite book of 2017 so far. That said, I had very high expectations for A Strange Hymn.

Mostly, it lived up to those expectations.

Cassie and Des have to travel to the Flora realm for peace making and to continue the investigation of the sleeping warriors, missing men and creepy ass children. This really allowed the level of fairy treachery and trickery to be raised quite a bit – and I loved it all. There is little better I like in a fantasy than deceitful fairies, this story gave me plenty.

The romance was still hot and heavy, not over the top or graphic, yet a very strong aspect of the story itself. The reader really gets to know Des better in this part of the story. His background is slowly revealed. Slowly is the key word there. While I understand Des is a secretive and reserved dude, the pace of the story sometimes lagged for me with him. I didn’t always understand his reluctance to share information with Callie. Though, every time he did, you fell that more in love with his vulnerable side and that made up for some of it.

As for the actual mystery they are trying to solve… In Rhapsodic, I truly fell in love with how incredibly creepy this plot line played out. I missed that in A Strange Hymn. The new elements that were revealed are still quite unique and I was entertained and enthralled by them. I just wasn’t as fearful of them, if that makes sense.

So, those were issues for me. The pacing at times and the change in creep factor. However, the last 15% of the book had me obsessed all over again and that’s where I stand now. Obsessed. Waiting. Obsessively waiting.

I still strongly recommend this series. Thalassa is a strong story teller with a refreshing perspective on adult romantic fantasy that I think many readers would enjoy.



About Laura Thalassa

Born and raised in Fresno, California, Laura Thalassa spent her childhood cooking up fantastic tales with her best friend. Lucky for her overactive imagination, she also happened to love writing. She now spends her days penning everything from paranormal romance to young adult novels.

Laura Thalassa lives in sunny Santa Barbara, California with her husband, author Dan Rix.

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Review: Rhapsodic (The Bargainer #1) by Laura Thalassa

Review: Rhapsodic (The Bargainer #1) by Laura ThalassaRhapsodic by Laura Thalassa
Series: The Bargainer #1
November 15, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 326
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Length: 9hours 46minutes
Also in this series: A Strange Hymn
Also by this author: A Strange Hymn
Amazon US

Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.

Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want... at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.

But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.

For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken.

If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one.

Can we talk about this book for a minute? We really, really need to.

Rhapsodic is like…the perfect cup of coffee. You’re out to breakfast and the waitress pours your first cup. Then, you painstakingly add just the right amount of cream and/or sugar or honey or cinnamon or whatever additives you use to make that coffee JUST RIGHT.

Rhapsodic is that cup. It’s fantasy, complete with all the sexiest and most evil supernatural creatures you could want. It’s romance at it’s heartbreaking-ly best. It’s humorous, but never in a cheesy or over the top way. As if that all was not enough, it’s singed with this absolutely creepy, deliciously horrific plot line that kind of just scares the shit right out of you. Boom – perfect cup of java.

I guzzled it right up and am waiting for my refill.

Teach me again how to be someone’s nightmare.

Shall we take a quick break from my gushing to learn a little bit about the story? Sigh…I suppose.

Most of Rhapsodic is written in both the present and flashbacks to the past. We first meet Callie as a teenager, in deep trouble. With little option, she calls on the one person that can save her. The Bargainer (Des). Not a man you want to owe favors to if you can help it, but Callie really sees no other way out.

Seven years later, he’s popping back into her life and ready to collect on that favor and the many, many others she asked for in the year they first met. Some debts will be easy to repay, others will put her life in danger.

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of bouncing between past and present. However, it really worked here. Those bits gave us the foundation for Callie and Des’ relationship and how it’s really a second chance romance of sorts. It adds so much to the level of emotions this story produces from the reader and gives you a sense of Callie’s struggles, insecurities and current state of raw stubbornness to never be a victim again. I couldn’t help but love this girl.

Hell couldn’t give me a more wicked man; heaven couldn’t give me a more perfect moment.

Now, Des. Shit. This guy. Melted me. Utter goo, I tell you. He’s so dark and dangerous but when you get his honeyed moments, they are sweeter than sweet. Toothache sweet. I just wanted to lick those moments!

And the villain – ahhh, loved it! Thalassa wrote that like it came straight out of a horror book. It’s Fantasy, yes, but at it’s most disturbing. I don’t want to give anything away but the synopsis mentions missing warriors being brought back catatonic and with a baby at the breast. Creepy, yeah? Much more than you think.  The images now implanted in my head from this story are vividly disturbing. Of course, that only makes me love it more. Anyway…not only does Callie have to help solve this mystery but she has to survive a similar fate.

If you’re a romance reader that will generally shy away from Fantasy or even Urban Fantasy, due to lack of the sexy – have no fear. Rhapsodic has you covered. In spades. The sexual tension is spot on, the actual ‘get down’ moments were as well. Again – perfect cup of coffee!

I love you. I’ve loved you from the beginning. And I will love you long after the last stars dies. I will love you until the end of darkness itself.

Quick note on the audiobook, as I both read and listened, Susannah Jones nailed the narration. Could not have picked a better person! Not only do I want to binge all of Thalassa’s books now, but I want to binge all Jones’ narrations as well.


About Laura Thalassa

Born and raised in Fresno, California, Laura Thalassa spent her childhood cooking up fantastic tales with her best friend. Lucky for her overactive imagination, she also happened to love writing. She now spends her days penning everything from paranormal romance to young adult novels.

Laura Thalassa lives in sunny Santa Barbara, California with her husband, author Dan Rix.

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Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Review: Illegal Contact by Santino HassellIllegal Contact by Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #1
Published by Intermix August 15, 2017
Genres: M/M Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel.

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin's timeout is over…

This was my first Hasell novel. Honestly, he wasn’t even on my radar until this year’s RT Convention when *someone* practically begged me for an ARC copy of this book that happened to be in a goody bag I received. I’m a nice girl and I gave up that copy. Only later to regret it when I started hearing such great things. But thankfully, I was still able to snag a galley and I now I don’t have to hate that *someone* for tricking me out of my book! 😉

Illegal Contact starts out with a pretty rough character, Gavin. A pro football player who’s found himself on house arrest for a season. He’s not very likeable to start. Unless, you like the cold and bossy type. I do. Noah is a complete contrast to Gavin and when he shows up to interview for Gavin’s PA position, I immediately liked the balance between the two. They both push each other’s buttons but always seem to learn something about themselves in the process.

While there is an immediate attraction between the two, the romantic relationship is slow to start. For many reasons. Noah doesn’t know Gavin is a bisexual. The public sure as Hell doesn’t know that Gavin is bisexual. Then, there is that whole boss/employee thing. When it does take a turn though…damn, man. It’s hot as fuck but also so freaking sweet. Seeing a big, strong personality completely softened by a man who just plain makes him better is something you can’t help but swoon over.

After about the first 25% (which was maybe just a tad slow for me) of this book, it became so hard to put down. I really enjoyed both of these characters and even their side kicks. I’m definitely looking for my next Hassell read, his combination of steam, emotion and life complexities hit the spot!


About Santino Hassell

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

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Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Review: Nevernight by Jay KristoffNevernight by Jay Kristoff
Published by St. Martin's Griffin Genres: Fantasy, Dark
Pages: 448
Format: eBook, Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon US

Nevernight is the first in an epic new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author, Jay Kristoff.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic ― the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.


Nevernight is far from a romance but nevertheless I felt myself completely romanticizing the fantasy, relentless bloodlust, and intricate characters!  The depth to each and every character was so dimensional I could have fell in love with the book for that single reason alone!
Sentence after sentence felt like a love letter of sorts, one that I never wanted to end. And in a way it hasn’t, this is only book one and two more installments are still to come.  
A little forewarning however, if you do not like dark reads and are squeamish with the occasional throat slashing, this is not for you. But if you do… THEN READ THIS BOOK! I promise you will fall deep into the dark and in love with this story and all things Mia. 
Mia Corvere is a 16 year old assassin who just paid her tithe to be accepted in The Red Church. Basically if there were an Ivy League school for killers without a doubt The Red Church is it.  She is set out on a clear path to become a Blade and a devout killer Blessed under the Mother to kill the men who left her and so many others orphaned.  Sounds simple enough right, you would think, but simple isn’t even an afterthought in this case. 
Newly in a house of killers she is finding that everything is much more than what it seems, and becoming a Blade is more than just about her own revenge. Mia begins questioning how much of herself she is willing to compromise not that she has the highest morals to begin with to be honest (and that’s just a singular reason of why I love her so much gentlefriends).  I have a hard time with heroines at one time or another in any and every book but for what seems like the first time in awhile I loved MIA CORVERE through every damn chapter!  Sure she will have respiratory problems by the time she is 21 from all the smoking she does but hey you can’t win them all.  Summed up I would have to say she is like a mixture of Juno (just not pregnant), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), and of course an essence that is all her own complete with a forever present crudeness.  
I know I said this isn’t a romance and I stand by that but there is an unspoken connection Mia shares with another character and their entanglements make for a hot scandal!  Although, I loved the relationship she had with just about every character where it was friendly or not. 
Alliances are made with deviant intentions, crimes are committed with out right brutality, and at the end of it all everything seems justified in the most unlikely of ways.  And I promise you by the end all you will NEED is the second book! 
Lastly I have to say this book was so well written and thoughtful, the follow through of not only the current happenings but the back story were so sophisticated.  Jay Kristoff made everything so easy to visualize and the foot notes added a flare that I am not used to, but as you can guess, I LOVED IT.  In the mean time till book two is out I plan on binging on this authors back log like my life depends on it!  




About Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, THE ILLUMINAE FILES and THE LOTUS WAR. He is the winner of four Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, nominee for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards, named multiple times in the Kirkus and Amazon Best Teen Books list and published in over thirty countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all of this as you are. He is 6’7 and has approximately 13030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.

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