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
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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
Goodreads

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
Goodreads

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.

Revenge.

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!  
 
 
 

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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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Review: Second Chance Season by Liora Blake

Review: Second Chance Season by Liora BlakeSecond Chance Season Published by Simon & Schuster June 20, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Copy for Honest Review

Return to Liora Blake's Grand Valley series with Second Chance Season, in which an avowed country boy meets an ambitious city girl who reminds him why dreaming big and taking a chance is worth the risk.

Garrett Strickland is unapologetically country, fiercely loyal, and all about living in the present and not dwelling in the past--even if he was once on his way to a lofty agricultural sciences degree that would guarantee the brightest of futures, only to end up back home when his old man died, leaving behind a debt-ridden family farm that was impossible to keep afloat. After that, it was easy to see why dreaming big wasn't worth the heartache of losing everything. And until he crosses paths with a city girl who's hell-bent on kick-starting her own future, he's sure that good enough is just that.

Cara Cavanaugh is ready for more from life, even if that means changing everything; including dumping her long time boyfriend, turning down a lucrative job at a major newspaper, and leaving behind the upscale suburbs of Chicago where she grew up. Now, she just has to pray that temporarily relocating to the middle of nowhere in Colorado will be the first step in building a career as a freelance writer--all she has to do is prove she's got what it takes to make a name for herself. Unfortunately, her tony country day school is as close to country as she's ever been. But when a goodhearted guy who looks like he just stumbled out of a country music video offers to help, she ends up falling hard...and discovering that the perfect story, as it turns out, is a love story. And it's theirs.

This is my second title by Liora Blake and I can definitely say she has become one of my all time favorite authors!

I read First Step Forward the first standalone in the Grand Valley Series last year in November and it fast became one of my top reads of, well ever.  Loaded words I know…  But trust me it was that good, I am about to go on and on, so let me stop here and focus on Second Chance Season the second standalone in the Grand Valley Series.

Garrett and Cara have the best chemistry!  Not the kind where they touch and there’s this spark and you roll your eyes, cause really that doesn’t happen unless your sweater just came out of the dryer causing static.  But these two had smart dialogue as well as witty retorts.  I found myself enjoying simple situations they were in because they honestly meshed so well and I could not get enough.

Garrett moves back to Hotchkiss his hometown with a few credits shy of a degree after tragedy occurs and he has to sell his family’s plot of land.  And after all of that is said and done he does not continue on with his degree or anything more that requires him to abandon the comfort zone that he has placed himself in.  While he seems content working at the co-op living his life day to day Cara enters his life and unknowingly reminds him that it is okay to want for more than just what you have.  That can be a very scary realization, and for Garrett that’s exactly what it was.

Cara on the other hand was living a mundane life with a boyfriend who felt more like a glorified friend than a partner.  She quits her job opting for a freelance writing life that brings her to the little-big agricultural town that is Hotchkiss.  On assignment she is learning the ways of life for all ranching and farming type owners.  What she didn’t expect was to fit in as best as she did as a city transplant could in a little town.  Garrett becomes her mentor of sorts and helps to introduce her to a lot of people who offer their story to her and give her a first hand experience in their craft.

As you can guess things escalate from their very first run in with one another and they come to agree on 3 months together, that’s as long as Cara will be working on her story and well they both are more than eager to devote that time to on another.

While there were obvious differences between them it didn’t matter…

Cara is rich with a trust and Garrett has a small savings.

Garrett knows who he is and Cara is searching for her true self.

The list could go on and on but what does it matter when they are together everything seems so right?! So where is the conflict, when do things get rocky… the three months are up and sadly thats when things do get rocky, and you know what, it was so damn hard to read.

It was sad because while Cara and Garrett felt something so real they were able to continue on with their lives without one another.  Yeah they could have holed up and practically died but reading about them going on with their habitual routines was some how more depressing.  Like yeah I practically loved you but I still have to live, SAD RIGHT?!

Fast forward to the end and… sike! I’m not telling you, because SPOILER ALERT! Lol.  As you may have guessed this is one of my FAVE reads of the year and I have not been able to stop talking about it since I read it.  It’s that story that you instantly want to re-read because you don’t want to spend a second missing them but instead want to be fully immersed in their world.

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Chat Review: Trust by Kylie Scott

Chat Review: Trust by Kylie ScottTrust by Kylie Scott
July 18, 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 372
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author: Twist
Amazon US
Goodreads

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen year old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers. While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

When Ali started reading Trust, she gushed over it a little bit and that got Tiffany’s attention. This is Tiffany’s first Kylie Scott book, but we get the feeling she’ll be back for more! (Somethings never change, I’ll stalk Ali for LIFE. -Tiffany)

 

Three words to describe Trust?

Ali: Honest. Brave. Mature.

Tiffany: Real. Funny. And I’m going to have to go with mature also. 

Ali: Right? It doesn’t have that all too familiar whiny teenage feel to it. Both Edie and John were pretty down to Earth and reasonable.

Tiffany: Is it too soon to want to re-read?! I could use some more John and Edie in my life.

Ali: Not at all, I’m ready too!

Do you think you would have handled the robbery like John or like Edie or completely different?

Tiffany: I’m not sure to be honest. I would like to think I would be a John, especially if I had my kids with me or even without, he did what he could and that’s definitely more than most.  Actually you know what I’m pretty sure I’d be a John and then when all is said and done, I would be an Edie.  

Ali: I’d also like to think I’d be like John, all level headed. But, I think that would only happen if there were people I loved with me. Otherwise…I’d freak the fuck out.

Tiffany: Fuck that was an intense beginning…

What was the one thing you loved most about Edie?

Ali: For me, I think her self awareness. She’s not a shallow girl. Even though she’d love for a boy to like her, she’s not overly insecure about it. She still has that vein of vulnerability that all us women do, but she’s still very honest about it all. She was one strong chic and liked how she took strides to to live her life on her own terms.

Tiffany: I always agree with you Ali! Lol.  But really though I love how she was apologetically herself without also being pretentious.  Without spoiling much I adored the way she went about a certain relationship with her friend.  She displayed that you don’t always have to forgive someone because of who they have been to you and more so once you do decide to forgive them DOES NOT mean you have to allow them back in your life.  That, I liked, A LOT. 

Ali: Yep! It wasn’t only the way she dealt with that relationship though, that same assuredness showed in a couple spots with John.

Did you like the way the relationship between Edie and John evolved?

Tiffany: YES! I know we talked about this when you were sort of in my hood a few weeks ago but that is something I loved MOST.  I love YA but sometimes I get turned off by how unrealistic it could be… Let’s be honest there’s more pining and wanting then there is actually having in HS and then all of a sudden like the sex is explosive, like come on I’m an adult and don’t know some of the tricks that are happening in YA books.  

They became friends first and then shit got awkward, they way IT REALLY DOES.  I’m just really remembering how much I love John right now and I am now having a hard time focusing. >.< Back to their evolution, right, it was perfect and true to their age and due to what happened to them they both began changing and I was happy they had one another through that. 

Ali: Yes, yes, yes! I always think that authors who aren’t actively involved in a teenager’s life, should not write teenagers. I don’t know if Scott has teens, but she definitely wrote them as if she does. I think it’s easy to forget that a lot of teens are really quite grown up, more so than some adults, and are completely able to navigate a relationship the same as adults.

This goes back to that overall feeling of maturity in Trust. I think this book will not only resonate with a new, younger fanbase for Scott but will also do well with her current readers who love her adult work so much.

Overall thoughts about Trust?

Tiffany: I LOVED IT.  The beginning started strong and I was a little worried with what might follow. But that’s what I get for jumping to conclusions. The time line followed through with perfection. Chapter after chapter, I fell further and further in love. I honestly feel repetitive because I seriously want to do nothing but fawn over this book and I have said how much I love it like a million times already. Overall it was an amazing story about a REAL relationship, REAL evolving characters, REAL situations, all of it just felt entirely REAL. As previously stated this may have been my first Kylie Scott book but it is no where near my last.  

OH MY GOSH WAIT.

We have not talked about have much I loved one of the car scenes… John, oy vay JOHN!!! Ali I know you know which part I’m talking about, ugh it would totally be worth missing curfew for!!!

Ali: Hahaha, I’m surprised it took until the end of the review for you to bring that up! And yeah…broken curfew…restrictions galore…ALL WORTH IT.

I basically agree with all you just said to sum up this book. So, I’m going to finish this up and maybe head right back in for a re-read!

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About Kylie Scott

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.


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