Review: Bad Neighbor by M. O’Keefe

Review: Bad Neighbor by M. O’KeefeBad Neighbor by M. O'keefe
Series: Bad Boy Romance #1
November 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

He's sexy... He's dangerous... He's right next door.

I gave up everything to save my sister from a monster, and now I’m lying low in this rundown apartment so I can stay out of danger. Hiding from everyone.
Except for the guy in apartment 1A.
He’s rude. Silent. Muscled, mysterious, and hot as hell. I don’t know if he likes me or hates me, but the more time I spend with him, the less it matters.
I want him.
And for the first time in my life I'm going to go after what I want.

She doesn’t belong in my world.

From the second 1B moves in, I know she’s keeping secrets. She doesn’t belong here, much less with a street fighter like me.
But that doesn’t stop me from craving her. Her softness and sweetness. She’s a drug, and suddenly I’m addicted.
I know someone is going to try and hurt her and I can’t let that happen. But unless I push her away and get her out of my world, that someone could be me…

If you are not already reading O’Keefe, you should start. She’s got a way with unique characters that never fails to make me fall in love. I’ve read her Everything I Left Unsaid series and have a special little love affair with it’s darkly romantic perfectness. Bad Neighbor, while still giving you a full spoonful of edginess, is a much lighter read.

Most of that lightness comes from Charlotte, with her sunshine dresses, slight nerdiness and bumblebee window treatments. She’s nothing short of adorably awkward. She’s found herself in a shabby apartment complex, in a run down part of town, with little money – after selling off all her belongings to help her sister flee from a bad relationship. Charlotte never expects to find herself tangled in a strange relationship with her hot and cold and mysterious neighbor, Jesse. But that is exactly where she lands and when her sister’s past catches up to her, every future fantasy Charlotte had started to build, is threatened by a stark and possibly dangerous reality.

I really enjoyed Charlotte and Jesse’s ‘push and pull’ relationship. It’s obvious they both want the same thing but neither really understands how to go about getting it. Charlotte has some female insecurities and Jesse has a lifestyle that he would never wish on sweet and innocent Charlotte. So, it’s a fumbling sort of thing mixed with a few really sexy scenes. Which makes for quite a page turner. 

Bad Neighbor is a quick read, without too much drama and strife but enough going on to keep you fully invested and wanting more! Good thing book two in the Bad Boy Romance series comes early May – with a surprise baby, no less!!

 

About M. O’keefe

Molly O’Keefe has always known she wanted to be a writer (except when she wanted to be a florist or a chef and the brief period of time when she considered being a cowgirl). And once she got her hands on some romances, she knew exactly what she wanted to write.

She published her first Harlequin romance at age 25 and hasn’t looked back. She loves exploring every character’s road towards happily ever after.

Originally from a small town outside of Chicago, she went to university in St. Louis where she met and fell in love with the editor of her school newspaper. They followed each other around the world for several years and finally got married and settled down in Toronto, Ontario. They welcomed their son into their family in 2006, and their daughter in 2008. When she’s not at the park or cleaning up the toy room, Molly is working hard on her next novel, trying to exercise, stalking Tina Fey on the internet and dreaming of the day she can finish a cup of coffee without interruption.


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Review: Twist by Kylie Scott

Review: Twist by Kylie ScottTwist by Kylie Scott
Aprill 11, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US
Goodreads

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he's been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they're emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets... apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.

Twist is tricky book for me to review. I’m a big fan of Kylie Scott. She always draws me in with her humor, her unique characters and fun, yet emotional, story lines. But something about Twist felt…different. Not because it didn’t have all the things you expect with a Scott title. It did. They were there. But it took longer for them to surface, I suppose.

It was a bit like reading two books. The first 50% and then the second.

The first half is fairly slow paced, as we learn how Alex finds her way from Seattle to Idaho. It’s a cute take on mistaken internet identity, she believes she’s been getting to know one person but it turns out the real person returning her emails is his – much more responsible (and bearded) – brother, Joe. A lot of time is spent with the struggle of being lied to and of trying to re-trust someone after such a betrayal. All important stuff and I appreciate the realness of the timeline here.

But man, did I want them to remove some clothes earlier. 😉

I’m slightly kidding there. Mostly.

Once you  get to that half way point, the pace changes and the story heats up. It also allows for the characters to relax enough for that familiar funny to kick in. I really enjoyed the easiness between Joe and Alex at that point. They fit together really nicely, pushing each other just enough without making it too hard for the other person, as they both struggle with relationships in their own ways.  

By about 80%, I was fairly over the fact that we had a slower start. Then Scott pulled one of my all time favorite, and hardly ever used, moves.

In so many, many romances you hit that spot in the book. You know it’s coming. You know about when in the timeline (80ish %) it’s going to surface. It’s the all too familiar ‘break up’. Right? You know it. Something happens and one person gives up or leaves the relationship for one reason or another. Then you spend the next 10% of reading with them separated, before head is removed from arse and they reconcile.

We’ve seen it time and time again.

Well, Scott twisted that up a bit. In my favorite way. I won’t say how because I don’t want to be a spoilery bitch. But it’s different and I’ve only seen it in a few titles. That isn’t to say that there isn’t that emotional climax. It’s there, it’s just different and I fucking loved it. I re-read the last 20ish %. Twice.

While I would probably rate the front half about a two star, the second would be quite near a five. I ended up really enjoying it, as a whole.


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Review: Black Sheep by Zara Cox

Review: Black Sheep by Zara CoxBlack Sheep by Zara Cox
Series: Dark Desires #2
Published by Forever Romance March 14, 2017
Genres: Dark Romance, Erotica
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author: Porn Star (I #1)
Amazon US
Goodreads

In a family of cold-hearted black sheep,
I, Axel Rutherford, am the blackest.
My father has hated me since the day I was born. The feeling was mutual. In the shady underworld that was my legacy, Cleo McCarthy became my light. She was beautiful, passionate, and my whole world. So naturally my father had to destroy us. First he sent me away. Next he claimed Cleo as his own. But now I've returned, and nothing will stop me from taking back everything that is rightfully mine.

He was the love of my life - when my life was still my own.
We were young enough to believe we would last forever, Axel and I. But neither of us realized how cruel life - and our families - could be. Now I'm trapped in a gilded cage: desired by Axel, who must never know the full truth, and controlled by his father, who would sooner see me dead than free. And I wouldn't even care, except that it's no longer only my life at stake.

Black Sheep may be the second installment in Cox’s Dark Desires series, but it is so loosely related to the first book (I, Porn Star), that you do not have to read that title before jumping right into this one.

Jumping in is exactly what I suggest you do! Black Sheep mixes second chance romance, a dirty talking hero, and scandalous deceptions with an easy expertise.

Axel is the estranged son of a mob boss. His father is desperate to bring him back to the fold, by any means. Including tempting him with the love of his life, Cleo, who left Axel’s bed in the worst sort of betrayal.  Axel has plans of his own, however, and Cleo and his father sit in the center of them. You get a bit of a Romeo and Juliet – star crossed lovers – feel with the added danger of mobster lifestyles.

This story moves fairly quickly, but is full of twisty secrets. Cleo hates Axel for reasons he doesn’t know. Axel hates Cleo for reasons she doesn’t know. Neither has the full story, they’ve been fed lies and half truths for so many years. The hatred, though, only feeds the sexual tension that still sizzles between them, which leads to some steamy sex scenes. Even though the story is a bit rushed at times, you still feel the depth of the secrets and the hurt of the betrayals. I found it very easy to like both Axel and Cleo, right from the start.  Seriously, Axel’s dirty talk was an A+, for me!

The ending could have been fleshed out a little more to my liking, but overall Cox vastly improved in style and emotion from I, Porn Star to Black Sheep. Which has me eager for round three, Wicked S.O.B., due out this August.


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Review: The Evolution of Ivy: Poison

Review: The Evolution of Ivy: PoisonThe Evolution of Ivy: Poison Series: The Evolution of Ivy #1
January 30, 2017
Genres: Psychological, Sociology
Pages: 287
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US
Goodreads

They won't recognize the new me.

But they know the old me well—the me she harmed, and the me he loved.

She thinks she has him. But I'm going to take him back.

He thinks she's the one. But I'm going to show him he's wrong.

I thought it was over. But now I have a chance.

The Evolution of Ivy: Poison blipped onto my radar because of the blurb. I mean, read it, chick sounds devious, vengeful and determined. I love that kind of shit. I like taking a peek into the heads of crazy people.

Ivy is that. Crazy. Devious. Vengeful. Most definitely determined. It’s not likely that you will like her. It’s not likely that you will understand the lengths in which she will go to get what she wants.

Or, at least, that’s how I came out of this read. Ivy is not really the hero in this story. There isn’t one. I finished the last page of this book basically disliking every single character. Yet, you don’t hate Ivy either. It’s a really twisted feeling. You want her to win but you know she doesn’t completely deserve to either. It’s all a lot of mindfuckery.

I don’t even know how to start to describe the story, there is just too much to giveaway and nobody likes a spoiler. The basic gist is that Ivy and Brookes were childhood friends of the closest kind. He left for a time and when he came back, Ivy had changed physically and their friendship didn’t survive it. It’s a betrayal Ivy has carried with her forever and now she’s in a position to enact some revenge.

The thing is…it’s hard to get behind exactly who she wants her wrath to fall on. It’s not Brookes but, in my eyes, he’s the one who had stabbed her with the sharpest knife. Again, it’s a bit of mindfuckery, your feelings reading this book are all over the place. Something I really didn’t mind, at all. You question a lot of the motives and feelings of the characters and I appreciate that so much.

One issue I had was with was the pacing. There were a few times the story fell off for me, it’s awfully slow at times. Another issue – there is one strange side story unraveling that I don’t fully understand it’s purpose. It threw me off track. I’m sure it gets explored more in the next book and hopefully it’s placement will become clear at that point.

Final thought – it’s not a bad debut. Campbell shows some promise as an author with a great imagination and a twisted sense of portraying right and wrong. I’ll absolutely be picking up the next book, I just won’t really be biting my nails in anticipation.


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Review: The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy

Review: The Possessions by Sara Flannery MurphyThe Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy
Published by Harper Collins February 7, 2017
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US
Goodreads

In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances

In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as “bodies“, wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.

But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls.

After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets.

A tale of desire and obsession, deceit and dark secrets that defies easy categorization, The Possessions is a seductive, absorbing page-turner that builds to a shattering, unforgettable conclusion.

After I finished reading The Possessions, I had to use my Phone a Friend to discuss the genre labeling. I’ve seen some call it a romantic thriller, but I wouldn’t call it that. I’ve seen some call it a fantasy, it is in a sense, but that didn’t seem quite fitting either. We settled on psychological thriller. It’s absolutely got the psychological part down, the thriller part is there but slightly more understated.

In fact, so much of this book is written in an understated way. More on that in a minute, first let’s get to the housekeeping bit.

Edie spends her days as other people. She channels them for money, with the help of a little white pill. She never remembers the experiences, it’s as if she falls asleep for awhile as a deceased spirit takes over her body. Then she wakes as herself again. Herself, however, isn’t much of a person. She rarely socializes with others, she has more possessions belonging to dead people than she has of her own. She moves through her day always waiting to escape herself and become someone else. Someone dead.

She looks at me as if I’m the invading spirit in her child’s body.

Edie is very good at moving through her life in a systematic and cold way. She has to be in order to avoid a past she won’t discuss and does not want to remember. Patrick, a new client, makes that all the more difficult. He’s hired her to channel his wife who’s death is surrounded by questions. Edie immediately feels a connection, but that connection is more with Sylvia, the dead wife, than with Patrick – the man she believes she’s falling in love with.

The Possessions introduces an interesting and thought provoking plot. If you could, would you want to contact a deceased love one? To what end or purpose? Is it healing or does it draw out the process of grief? All of these things are touched on in this tale. But one other thing is, as well. If a spirit could inhabit your body for a short period of time, could they do it for longer? Would they ever want to leave it?

For a crooked second, Sylvia is in the room with me. A drowned specter, white skin peeling away like fruit rind, eyelids eaten into filigree by the fish.

For Edie and Sylvia, that’s the key question, as Sylvia becomes more and more a part of Edie and Edie is all too willing to let her stay. To be her. The more time she spends as Sylvia, with Patrick, the more she digs in to Sylvia’s life…and her death. A search that eventually uncovers everyone’s secrets, including her own. 

Back to that understated part. Murphy wrote this book with a slow pace that still keeps you excited enough to turn the page. It’s written with a creepiness that’s indirect, I guess would be the word for it. It’s not blatant on the page. You feel like you are reading normal, every day thoughts of a lonely and quiet woman, until she thinks of wanting to slide her fingernail under skin and peel it all away. Then it’s right back to a sense of quiet normalcy.

It’s a strange read, very different than anything I’ve read in quite a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did wish the end had been a bit stronger, but it felt genuine to Edie’s character, so I won’t give it too much flack. It’s a solid start to Murphy’s career and I’ll be watching for more from her. 

 


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Review: The Unwanted Wife by Natasha Anders

Review: The Unwanted Wife by Natasha AndersThe Unwanted Wife Series: The Unwanted Series #1
Published by Montlake Romance March 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 249
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

No one had ever looked at her and seen perfection—until now.

Delicate, titian-haired Theresa Noble has met her father’s associates in the past, but the gorgeous, Italian-born Sandro De Lucci leaves her speechless. Eighteen months into their marriage, however, Sandro has turned to ice. Desperate to escape a relationship that has proven to be as stubbornly passionate as it is cold and hateful, Theresa summons up the courage to ask for a divorce. But before he’ll grant her request, Sandro demands something from Theresa: a son.

The stalemate sickens her. Never mind that Sandro has yet to introduce Theresa to the large family that means so much to him. Or that Theresa overhears her husband on the phone with a mystery woman. Most damning is that Theresa senses, in Sandro’s treatment of her, the behind-the-scenes machinations of Jackson Noble, her cruel father. From the depths of her anxiety, Theresa must seek an empowering truth about the husband who calls her, with such cold affection, his cara, his beloved.

Revised edition: This edition of The Unwanted Wife includes editorial revisions.

For days and days, Debbie was telling the rest of us that we needed to read this book. She specifically told me that it gave her similar feels to Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn, a book I really enjoyed and cried at while reading. Something I just don’t do often. Well, I picked it up and she was absolutely right. It broke my heart in much the same manner.

Theresa married Sandro for love. What she didn’t realize was that he did not have the same motives for marrying her. While his cold demeanor towards her surfaced rather quickly, it took her a year and a half to finally realize that she is more than the nuisance Sandro treats her as. In their shared bed, he’s an attentive and giving lover. Outside the bedroom, he wants little to nothing to do with her. When she gets the courage to ask for a divorce, he gives her one condition. She can have her divorce, after she gives him a son. Now she must navigate a life with no purpose aside from being a brood mare and an unwanted wife to the man she once loved. 

Theresa is somewhat of a doormat, but when you get her history, you understand why. Normally, I am not so much a fan of this type of character but it works perfectly for this story and you do see her will to fight for herself.

Sandro, on the other hand, starts the story off as such a dickhead. You do eventually get an understanding of why he acts as he does, though there were still times that I was not very sympathetic to his plight. He does come through at pivotal times. I think I would have enjoyed an occasional trample through his brain, however.

I was on the verge of tears from start to finish, while reading this book. You cannot avoid feeling for Theresa. It’s such a depressing existence and Anders writes it in a way that each time you think there might be a little relief for your heart, you’re wrong. A new barb gets thrown and you are right back to feeling the sadness. I never, actually, cried but my eyes were welling with tears for much of the story. Which, I could not put down. Reading this over the holiday was a bad idea, I was ready to kick all my family out of my house so I could get back to reading.

I think Anders has cemented herself as one of my go to authors when I’m in need of some super-angsty-all-the-feels type reads. Well done.


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Review: Honor by Jay Crownover

Review: Honor by Jay CrownoverHonor by Jay Crownover
October 18, 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Audio
Source: Purchased
Length: 10 hours 15 minutes
Also by this author: Better When He's Bold
Amazon US
Goodreads

Don't be fooled.

Don't make excuses for me.

I am not a good man.

I've seen things no one should, done things no one should talk about. Honor and conscience have no place in my life. But I've fought and I've survived. I've had to.

The first time I saw her dancing on that seedy stage in that second rate club, I felt my heart pulse for the first time. Keelyn Foster was too young, too vibrant for this place, and I knew in an instant that I would make her mine. But first I had to climb my way to the top. I had to have something more to offer her.

I'm here now, money is no object and I have no equal. Except for her. She's disappeared. But don't worry, I will find her and claim her. She will be mine.

Like I said, don't be fooled. I am not the devil in disguise… I'm the one front and center.

Let’s start with a bit of a disclaimer. If you are a fan of the Marked Men series by Crownover, you may not like this book. Reversely, if you are NOT much of a fan of the Marked Men series, you may really enjoy this one. I know some of her long term fan base struggles with Crownover’s more suspenseful bad guys. I, however, do not. I enjoy the baddies. I enjoy the danger, the rough and tough world of The Point and characters it breeds.

Nassir is nothing like any character I have ever read. The prologue tells his past, in all its chilling and tragic glory. Nassir is an ex-terrorist, born and sold into some horrific situations, raised in hate.  He isn’t that anymore, but he’s still not good, he’s just a different sort of bad now and only one thing even remotely tames him.  Keelyn.  The only woman he’s ever loved and never had.

If you’ve read the Welcome to the Point series, you are already aware of these characters. While those titles will give you a bit of a back story on Nassir and Keelyn, you don’t have to read them first to pick up on Honor’s story. Keelyn has left The Point, Nassir stayed behind – building his empire – and is now determined to entice Keelyn back. Back to his city, back to his side and finally into his heart.

It’s clear from the beginning that both want the same thing, ultimately, they want to be together. Yet they are both such strong personalities, they continually butt heads on how to get there. Nassir is controlling by nature, Keelyn is determined to stand on her own.

The romantic struggle between these two isn’t the guts of the story, though. The real story lies in all the outside forces determined to drag Nassir, and everything he cares about, back to Hell. And also, what he and Keelyn learn about life and themselves, in the course of fighting those forces.

Crownover balances the scales of good and evil beautifully with Honor. Finding something worth holding onto in a world of bad things, some light in the dark, some hope in the midst of so much despair.

It’s no great hidden secret that I consider Jay a friend of mine, so you can take this with a grain of salt, if you so wish. But I do truly mean it when I say that her writing has grown so much over the past few years and this book proves it.

About Jay Crownover

I’m supposed to share interesting details about myself so that my readers get to know me so here we go in no particular order: I’m an natural redhead even though I haven’t seen my real hair color in years, I’m a big fan of tattoos and have a half sleeve on either arm and various other pieces all over the place, I’ve been in the bar industry since I was in college and it has always offered interesting insight into how men and women interact with each other, I have 3 dogs that are all crazy, I live in Colorado and love the snow, I love music and in all reality wish I could be a rock star not a writer or a bartender but I have zero talent so there is that.
I love to write, love to read and all I’m interested in is a good story with interesting characters that make the reader feel something.
Thanks for taking the time to check my stuff out….


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