James Oliver French – Return to Me (Review, Excerpt, Interview, & Giveaway)

Return to Me by James Oliver French

Source: Review by Request
Copy Provided by the Author
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

What would you do if the man you loved vanished without a trace?

Kyle and Todd meet at a party in their freshman year at college. They fall in lust at first sight, then deep in love. In spite of Kyle’s melancholy past, their future together looks bright. Then Kyle disappears, leaving Todd heartbroken and alone, and their dreams in ruins. Fifteen years later, Todd is a successful but lonely psychiatrist. He still hasn’t come to terms with the loss of his first love. When a dangerous amnesiac arrives at the hospital, Todd is forced to confront the past, and is driven to find answers to the questions that have haunted him all these years.

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Sylvia Day – Captivated by You

Captivated by You by Sylvia Day

Series: Crossfire #4
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gideon calls me his angel, but he’s the miracle in my life. My gorgeous, wounded warrior, so determined to slay my demons while refusing to face his own.

The vows we’d exchanged should have bound us tighter than blood and flesh. Instead they opened old wounds, exposed pain and insecurities, and lured bitter enemies out of the shadows. I felt him slipping from my grasp, my greatest fears becoming my reality, my love tested in ways I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to bear.

At the brightest time in our lives, the darkness of his past encroached and threatened everything we’d worked so hard for. We faced a terrible choice: the familiar safety of the lives we’d had before each other or the fight for a future that suddenly seemed an impossible and hopeless dream…

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Kat Bastion & Stone Bastion – Two Bar Mitzvahs (Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway)

Two Bar Mitzvahs by Kat Bastion & Stone Bastion

Series: No Weddings #3
Source: Review by Request
ARC Provided by the Authors
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summer heats up in this third book in the No Weddings Series, where Cade Michaelson strives to balance his and Hannah Martin’s new relationship with the growing demands of his financial success.

Waiting for Hannah has been the best and worst kind of torture. Now I can claim her as mine. We believe we’re done with the past and can move forward together.

Hannah grows stronger than ever as she trusts in me—trusts in us. And when obstacles appear, she shows a surprising fierceness that rivals my own.

However, all is not perfect in paradise. Things get chaotic while I try to juggle multiple businesses, an ex from hell, and a girlfriend I’d do anything to keep. And in the middle of the whirlwind, I recklessly think I can handleeverything.

But when all the madness is over, will I have everything I want—will I still have Hannah?

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Lorelai LaBelle – Nothing More Beautiful (Review, Excerpt, Interview, & Giveaway)

Nothing More Beautiful by Lorelai LaBelle

Source: Review by Request
Copy Provided by the Author
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

There’s nothing more beautiful than love. There’s also nothing more dangerous . . .

Bakery owner Maci Goodwin is 25 and has never experienced the big O. Not once. She’s been with five guys—and five duds. Sexually reserved, Maci finds herself paralyzed when it comes to bedroom exploration, despite the unbridled encouragement from her enlightened friends.

Then, after a spell of failed online dating, Maci meets Vince Forte and everything changes. He’s a man who has it all—looks, brains, and billions in the bank. The fierce attraction between them is undeniable, which ignites feelings Maci has never felt before, and she realizes she can’t get enough. After composing a list of their secret sex fantasies, the two set out on a series of kinky adventures, where they discover a world neither of them has ever imagined. It is a world of lust and love, pleasure and patience, and unexpected deviance . . . But will the list bring them together like they hope, or will it send Maci running back to her prudish, O-less life?

Nothing More Beautiful is a sensuous journey of experimentation, romance, and passion. Featuring spurned friends, long-lost lovers, deranged ex-business partners, and not-so-natural disasters, Maci’s story takes the reader on a fun, sexy tromp through the City of Roses, craft beer, and sexual freedom.

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J.R. Ward – Lover Mine

Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #8
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the darkest corners of the night in Caldwell, New York, a conflict like no other rages. Long divided as a terrifying battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the city is home to a band of brothers born to defend their race: the warrior vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.

Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.

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My sweet John Matthew finally gets his own book – and the result was romance, heartbreak, action, suspense… and a dash destiny…

(Spoiler Free if you’ve read the previous books)

The essential truth of life, he was coming to realize, wasn’t romantic and took only two words to label: Shit. Happens.
But the thing was, you kept going. You kept your friends and your family and your mate as safe as you were able. And you kept fighting even after you were knocked down.

I have a tendency to become overly-attached to fictional characters; John Matthew is definitely in that category. I’ve watched him grow – literally and figuratively – over the course of this series, and while I was incredibly excited for him to get his own book, I was also nervous as hell… What was going to happen to John Matthew?

All I could do was sit back, let J.R. Ward take me on a wild ride, and cross my fingers that everything would turn out OK for a character I’ve come to adore.

JOHN MATTHEW

“No, you’ve got it all wrong, John.” Reading his emotions, she shook her head. “You’re not half the male you could be because of what was done to you. You’re twice what anyone else is because you survived.”

My sweet (not so little any more) John… Readers of the BDB Series watched him grow up and struggle to overcome the tragic circumstances of his past… The lost, scrawny, scared orphan managed to secure a place in my heart and it’s been amazing to watch his story progress.

All of the characters seem destined to hit rock-bottom right before they’re given their own book. John was spiraling out of control in the wake of Tohr’s return to the Brotherhood, and the epic failure of the pseudo-relationship with Xhex. Even before John’s transition, he was helplessly enamored with the female head of security at ZeroSum… When Xhex was kidnapped by Lash at the end of Lover Avenged, John completely lost it.

XHEX

There was no way to comfort the lost boy he’d been back then.
But she had the grown male.
She had him right in her arms, and for a brief moment of whimsy, she imagined that she was never, ever going to let him go.

I was worried about pairing John up with the infamous Sympath badass female known as Xhex… John had been through so much tragedy in his life, and Xhex didn’t seem to have nurturing bone in her body… Turns out, Xhex is a perfect match for John, and she proves her worth over the course of this book.

On a side note: We saw how lethal Xhex can be in Lover Avenged, but she really spread her wings in this book. The female is a fighter with skills that will make your jaw drop. She’s simply incredible. In a series which has become hit-or-miss with its female characters, I was hugely impressed with Xhex!

“You don’t go after what’s mine. Now be a good boy and gut yourself.”


The overall pacing of this book was AMAZING. J.R. Ward likes to weave multiple story-lines together, but never has that been as beautifully accomplished as in Lover Mine.

The side-stories and flashbacks coalesced in a way which was both seamless and satisfying.

John’s connection to Darius was explored through the pages of the Brother’s diary – and included insight into multiple characters of the series including Tohr and Wrath – as well as a few others which were a surprise right up until the reveal.

BLAYLOCK & QHUINN

I miss you. I miss you so fucking bad it hurts, but I don’t know how to find you even though you’re right in front of me.

I ache for these two… Their story has been progressing over the last several books in the series and I am eager to see them find their Happily Ever After together… Honestly, I’m so invested in Blay & Qhuinn, that I’m not particularly interested in reading Lover Unleashed (Payne’s Story) – I just want to skip straight to Lover At Last… But I’m a good little girl, and I’ll read everything in order… Even if the anticipation is killing me…

J.R. Ward – Lover Avenged

Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #7
Source: Personal Library
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood novels have introduced readers to a “different, creative, dark, violent, and flat-out amazing” (All About Romance)world. Now, as the vampire warriors defend their race against their slayers, one male’s loyalty to the Brotherhood will be tested-and his dangerous mixed blood revealed…

Caldwell, New York, has long been the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and owner of a notorious night club that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King and leader of the Brotherhood.

Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood-even though his sister is married to a member, for he harbors a deadly secret that could make him a huge liability in their war against the lessers. As plots within and outside of the Brotherhood threaten to reveal the truth about Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in his darkening world, Ehlena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him-and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

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Rehvenge’s Story brings back the hard-hitting action and suspense we’ve come to expect from this series!

((BEWARE OF SPOILERS))

…every once in a while, from out of the blue, someone reaches the quiet place where you spend your private time and changes the way you see yourself…

I’m cautiously optimistic… I feel like we’ve reached a turning point with this installment, and I sincerely hope the momentum continues with the subsequent books.

As usual, the stories surrounding all of the secondary and tertiary characters stole the show:

  • Beth and Wrath feature prominently in this book.
  • John Matthew has a giant role.
  • Doc Jane has several cameos.
  • There’s a shift in the Brotherhood.
  • Lassiter the Angel has some awesome dialogue.
  • The Scribe Virgin is moping around like an empty-nester.
  • Lash plays a great big part in this book, which I think will appease the readers who have been less than thrilled with the amount of pages taken up by the Lessers

But the Stars of this book were Rehvenge and Ehlena:

REHVENGE

His glowing amethyst eyes saw everyone and cared about no one.
Rehv – or the Reverend, as the human clientele called him – was a drug lord and a pimp who didn’t give a shit about the vast majority of people. Which meant he was capable of, and frequently did, anything the fuck he wanted to.

Rehv is the infamous Zero-Sum club owner who has a larger than life personality which is only enhanced by his Sympath heritage… Talk about a hard-ass with a heart of gold…

EHLENA

“Must the world always be so harsh, I wonder,”

Ehlena is a nurse in Haver’s clinic – and what do you want to bet she was the nurse who helped Phury evacuate the patients in Lover Enshrined? I bet she was… Anyway, Ehlena is your quintessential care-giver who believes that every soul is worth saving… Plus, she winds up being a smart female with a spine of steel. I mean, the woman goes toe to toe with Xhex! :O

Unfortunately, the Romance portion of the plot between these two was firmly in the whole “I love her but I don’t deserve her” vs. “He’s dreamy but he’ll never love little ‘ol me” trope, which I loathe… Complete with some “I’ll push her away so I don’t break her heart” behavior. Not cool, J.R. Ward… Not cool..

Now for the more spoiler-y thoughts:

(Read at your own risk)

Wrath is now completely blind. I have to admit, it hurt my heart to know he wouldn’t be able to fight with this Brothers any more… I don’t think anybody wanted to see him lay down his daggers for good.

Also, you know I’m a dog lover… So I was stoked to meet Wrath’s Seeing Eye Dog, George… but that’s not nearly a bad-ass enough name. I think he should be Ghorge… You know how much the Brotherhood likes to throw an extra H into a name 😉

The scenes from inside the Sympath Colony were amazing… J.R. Ward really tapped into a cinematic quality with the visuals on that one. The cell which held Rehv, as well as the apparatus he was attached to… Not to mention the darkness and creepy-crawlies…


John Matthew has long been my favorite character of this series, but he needs to get his shit together. His little emotional roller-coaster throughout this book was exhausting… He’s had to go through so much shit in his life before his transition, and he seemed to be in such a good place… Then he found Tohr, had sex with the Symath of his dreams… And he just checked out, got drunk, and started driving me nuts.


I know J.R. Ward is a fan of making characters hit rock-bottom before she gives them their own book, but seriously… Get it together John!

Shay Savage – Transcendence

Transcendence by Shay Savage

Source: Personal Library
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s said that women and men are from two different planets when it comes to communication, but how can they overcome the obstacles of prehistoric times when one of them simply doesn’t have the ability to comprehend language?

Ehd’s a caveman living on his own in a harsh wilderness. He’s strong and intelligent, but completely alone. When he finds a beautiful young woman in his pit trap, it’s obvious to him that she is meant to be his mate. He doesn’t know where she came from; she’s wearing some pretty odd clothing, and she makes a lot of noises with her mouth that give him a headache. Still, he’s determined to fulfill his purpose in life – provide for her, protect her, and put a baby in her.

Elizabeth doesn’t know where she is or exactly how she got there. She’s confused and distressed by her predicament, and there’s a caveman hauling her back to his cavehome. She’s not at all interested in Ehd’s primitive advances, and she just can’t seem to get him to listen. No matter what she tries, getting her point across to this primitive, but beautiful, man is a constant – and often hilarious – struggle.

With only each other for company, they must rely on one another to fight the dangers of the wild and prepare for the winter months. As they struggle to coexist, theirs becomes a love story that transcends language and time.

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Jae T. Jaggart – Angel Angel, Burning Bright

Angel Angel, Burning Bright by Jae T. Jaggart

Series: Seven Deadly Sins Story #2
Source: Review by Request
Copy Provided by Author
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when Management offers up two supernatural beings so darkly seductive, in a test so twisted, that their target cannot choose between them?

Michael Rei has been called a musical genius. His life revolves around the concert stage. At nineteen, the threat of death lays behind, and the world lays before him. But something strange and alluring comes calling at the height of his triumph. Two men, that he, torn between brilliance and innocence, cannot resist.

The stakes are high. The highest. But Michael is greedy. He can have both men, for a while… But once he choses between the two, the consequences will be eternal…

A standalone, second in the Seven Deadly Sins series, after Cash: Angel, Demon, Rock Star.

Contains wicked behavior, perverse mind games, m/m/m action, a lot of sweat and a pink haired, violin-wielding best friend ready to take on any evil doers.

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An amazing, poignant continuation of the Seven Deadly Sins Story Series!

(Spoiler Free Review)

Life.
Music. Connection with the world.

Taking this audience out of their mundane skins. Making them feel.
This was his gift. His magic.

This is an Erotic Paranormal MM Romance featuring:
Angels,
demons,
musicians,
intrigue,
suspense,
heartbreak,
lust,
love,
and some seriously HOT MMM Menage action…

A Dangerous Game – Angels and demons playing for the soul of Michael Rei, a musical prodigy who splits his time between sold-out concert halls and dreary hospital rooms. He has spent most of his life fighting just to survive, so when he’s offered the opportunity to really LIVE for the first time, he grabs hold of it with both hands.

Because he was greedy. Because he wanted it all. Because for a long time he’d thought he would have no time left, and that now he could have anything, do, anything, his only instinct was one word to it all: yes. Always, yes.

Michael is certainly enjoying his days wrapped in the sheets between two gorgeous men who claim to be lawyers, but little does he know he’s merely a game to these men… So when emotions begin to run far deeper than anyone had anticipated, the game gets dangerous.

As you may recall, I adored the first book in this series (Cash: Angel, Demon, Rock Star) and I was absolutely thrilled to continue this series. It is such a fun premise with a highly erotic bent which sneaks up on the reader with sweet romance and beautiful themes of life and sin…

As a reminder, the first book in this series is FREE on Amazon, and I sincerely hope you’ll check it out. It is absolutely worth your time! This is a serial series which features stand-alone stories. I’ll certainly be the first in line to read the next book in the Seven Deadly Sins Story series!

***I was graciously gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***

L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov – Capture & Surrender

Payoff (Market Garden, #6)Capture & Surrender by L.A. WittAleksandr Voinov
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Series: Market Garden #5
Source: Review By Request
Copy Received from Publisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ever since his partner died, Frank has resigned himself to staying single. He wards off the loneliness by spending time with friends on the paintball field and running his high-end brothel, the Market Garden.

After one of his most lucrative rentboys quits, Frank is thrilled when a gorgeous replacement walks through the door. A former US soldier, Stefan is hot, bold, and perfect for the Market Garden’s clientele, especially those with a thing for camouflage and drill sergeants. He’s perfect for Frank, too, except Frank has a rule about not getting involved with his own rentboys.

During a frisky game of paintball, Stefan makes it clear that he doesn’t care about the rules. Not the rules of the game, and definitely not Frank’s refusal to get involved. He captures Frank on the field using stealth and cunning, and makes it clear that he’ll do anything to keep a hold of him off the field too.

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Market Garden gets serious with the fifth installment.

(BEWARE OF SPOILERS)

…everything about this seemed like a recipe for disaster.

But even if he was headed for the mother of all car crashes, he couldn’t bring himself to hit the brake with everything he had, not for his sake, not for Brandon’s sake, or Market Garden’s, or sanity, or morality, or because it wasn’t fair or even very balanced.

Seemed all he could do was grip the steering wheel and keep going until something stopped him.

We’re talking about heavy emotion and serious subjects with this one…

There’s still plenty of kinky fun going on in Capture & Surrender (more on that later) but this one packs on content and emotion unseen in the previous titles in this series… And I ate up every page.

As a side note – this book was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, and it is well deserved.

FRANK

That silent companionship was as important as the scorching sex, maybe more important in the long run. He could relax with Brandon in his life, and that gratitude was so deep it nearly brought tears to his eyes.

Frank is the owner of Market Garden. He is surrounded by London’s top-shelf Rent Boys, yet he goes home alone each night…

BRANDON

Brandon grinned at him, and every time he did that, something shifted inside Frank, some weight, or maybe his heart, or his whole damn collection of organs swapped places.

Brandon (aka Stefan) is an American who came to London to escape his past. As an ex-military man with a cocky personality, he pushes all of franks buttons…

But Frank doesn’t get involved with Rent Boys…

He has his reasons:
The main issue being addressed here is that Frank, is HIV positive. He watched his partner die from the disease, and his accounts of that are tragic beyond belief. Completely heart-wrenching.

Frank didn’t want Brandon to suffer so much that the final drawn-out tone on Frank’s ECG monitor would be welcomed.

With that in mind, the courtship of Frank & Brandon goes beyond the standard taboos they would have faced:

Employer / Employee
Older / Younger
John / Rentboy

…because status had to be disclosed.
Decisions had to be made.

How much were they willing to risk?

This was a level of intense emotion which took me by surprise at first. Market Garden hadn’t really addressed any potential relationship drama outside the john / Rent Boy dynamic… But I’m so glad L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov took a chance and addressed some rough issues. It was emotional, beautiful, and completely worth reading.

*clears throat*

In lighter news…

The Kinky paint-ball games were wonderfully sexy and inventive!

“It’s essentially capture kink.”

Stefan’s eyes were bright.

Frank went on. “Basically, you capture someone on the field, he’s yours. Capture a team’s flag? Your team gets the spoils.”

“Spoils of war.” Stefan beamed. “I like it.”

“Figured you might.”

That’s right, to the victor goes the kinky sex!

There’s the requisite safe-words, etc, and Frank and his buddies referee the players… But it made for some seriously hot interactions between players hooped up on adrenaline and testosterone.

They should really sell spectator tickets…
Just sayin’

In addition, I loved the boisterous friendship between Frank, Emily, Geoff, & Mike.

Emily pointed a finely manicured nail at Brandon. “You, sir, are encouraging them.”

“Me?” Brandon showed his palms. “I was merely suggesting we pay homage to God and thank Him for all the food and wine and company. And stuff.”

“Uh-uh.” She shook her head once. “I paid for this stuff and turned it into something presentable and edible. You say grace to anyone, it’s Saint Emily O’Malley of the Sisters of Infinite Patience with Obnoxious Men.”

“That’s a bit of a mouthful, darling.” Mike straightened his napkin.

“That’s what she said,” Brandon muttered, and Mike burst out laughing.

How do I get invited to that dinner party? I’d love to see more of that group…

Abigail Roux – Touch & Geaux

Cut & Run (Cut & Run, #1)Touch & Geaux by Abigail Roux

Series: Cut & Run #7
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

After having their faces plastered across the news during a high-profile case, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have become more useful to the Bureau posing for photo ops than working undercover. Just as Zane is beginning to consider retirement a viable option, Ty receives a distress call from a friend, leading them to a city rife with echoes from the past.

New Orleans wears its history on its streets, and it’s the one place Ty’s face could get him killed. Surrounded by trouble as soon as they land, Ty and Zane are swiftly confronted with a past from which Ty can’t hide—one with a surprising connection to Zane’s.

As threats close in from all directions, both men must come to terms with the lives they’ve led and the lies they’ve told. They soon discover that not all their secrets are out yet, and nothing lasts forever.

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