Review – Mangled Hearts by Felicia Tatum

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Title – Mangled hearts
Author – Felicia Tatum
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Pages – 118
Reviewer – Laura

*** Copy provided by Author in exchange for an honest review***

Blurb:

Francesca and Cade…

Can two loves find their way back to each other despite an addiction and a hardened heart? Will their love overcome it all?

Francesca Taymon is young, successful, and broken. A tragic accident years ago haunts her to this day, and she blames only one person–the one that holds her heart. When she finally gets her first case, will she be able to handle seeing him again? Can she do her job and keep her heart intact?

Cade Kelling doesn’t take life seriously. He’s reckless and irresponsible, drinking all his problems away. When his parents bail him out for the last time, will he be able to handle seeing Francesca after all of these years? Will he be able to tell her what really happened that night five years ago or will he lose her forever?

And the most important question….
Can these mangled hearts be mended?

Opinion:

I really enjoyed reading this book as the story line captured my interest from the very beginning! I think this book is very well written, and I love how each chapter switched between both characters points of view.

My impression of Francesca Taymon initially was that she was going to be quite a weak character that just let people walk all over her and tell her what to do. As I continued to read however, I found I really quite liked her, and she ended up being this strong-minded girl with more confidence than I anticipated at the beginning.

A similar change of heart occurred in my opinion of the character of Cade Kelling – like Francesca, my view of him was pretty poor at the beginning of the book. I thought him to be, quite frankly, a loser! He didn’t seem to want to help himself or get over his problems and the fact that he just went to alcohol for an easy fix of everything wrong in his life really annoyed me! I was therefore really happy when he finally started to listening to the people that love him and decided to help himself!

All in all “Mangled Hearts” was an interesting and enjoyable read that kept me intrigued from the beginning, and I would definitely recommend it!

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Review – The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year

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TITLE: The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year (Book #1)
AUTHOR: T.L Steffe
GENRE: Young Adult – Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 168
REVIEWER: Nicole

BLURB:

For eighteen-year-old Monroe Reid, life is full of change. Her long-time best friend, Lennon Walker, confessed his true feelings for her and she hasn’t spoken to him since. That was eight weeks ago. On top of that, she is about to leave her family, who is growing increasingly distant from her, and begin her journey of independence in her freshman year of college.

With Lennon headed in the opposite direction of the country, Monroe knows she needs to confront their situation ASAP. Lennon has a shaky history and has struggled with obstacles in his past, while Monroe has always been his constant rock. Now, she is struggling with the blurred lines of their friendship.

Once at college, Monroe quickly finds herself in a world filled with new friends, opportunities, and a potential love interest.

Bad boy Brayden Stryker knows there’s something special about Monroe the moment he lays his eyes on her. It doesn’t take long for her to fall for him, especially when he confides his darkest secrets to her.

Can Monroe trust Brayden, or will he break her heart, leaving Lennon to pick up the pieces? Freshman Year is a tale of friendship full of love and laughter, and heartache and despair

REVIEW:

If you are drawn to college romance and love triangles genres you are going to love The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year!

The protagonist of this story is Monroe, who is about to set off and start her first year of collage away from her family and best friend, Lennon. Before she leaves, Lennon a.k.a “Infamous”, expresses his true feelings for Monroe, leaving her confused and conflicted about her true feelings. Once she gets to College she meets Brayden a.k.a “Dream boy”, she realizes her feelings for Lennon was nothing like what she feels for Brayden. Brayden and Monroe fall in love fast but Brayden has a dark past and secrets, can he overcome his past? Will he trust Monroe with his secrets? And will their relationship survive despite his demons?

The first thing I have to express is opposite sex best friends in my opinion never works – though always make an interesting fictional love story! There is always one that starts to feel more than friendship, leaving the other person: A – feeling the same and they develop a fantastic relationship and a love story forms, or B – the other person doesn’t feel the same, they try to remain best friends, which we all know just can’t work and results in the platonic person losing their best friend, which is very sad.

So now that I have expressed my feelings on that matter, I have to say that I was constantly juggling between being on team Lennon to team Brayden in this story. I would be rooting for one of them and then they would go and do something stupid and I change my backing – in the end I was left being on team Lennon but this could once again change in the future.

Both Lennon and Brayden’s characters are damaged with a hell of a lot of baggage, terrible childhoods and lots of dark secrets. The scary thing is they both kept expressing how they “needed” Monroe, to me they were showing clear signs of desperation rather than love, especially Brayden in the end for his character definitely has major issues that are yet to be revealed.

I liked Monroe’s character, I like her personality which was likeable and real for girls her age, but I do feel at times she plays Lennon as back up at times to console her feelings regarding Brayden but once again this is how opposite sex best friends become tricky.

The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year is a quick, easy read with great flow and pace and a great college romance/love triangle plot.  The only negative I will point out is we still know nothing about Brayden’s character which is frustrating, and I only wished I could understand him more to be able to connect with his character. Also, Monroe’s family are hiding something or going through some sort of turmoil  which  we still don’t have a clue about either, but I guess this is the hook to bet the reader invested and wanting to find out these unanswered questions – well Steffe has piqued my interest and definitely has me hooked!

So I guess I will have to wait until Book Two: Sophomore Year to see what awaits in this installment which will be very interesting I must say…will it be Brayden or Lennon? Or a new damaged character in the mix?

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Review- Carnelian (The Chalcedony Chronicles # 1) by B.Kristin McMichael

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Clever, clever, clever!

Title: Carnelian (Chalcedony Chronicles # 1)
Author: B Kristin McMichael
Genre: Young Adult/ Science Fiction (Time Travel)
Publication:
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 209
Reviewer: Kelly

Synopsis:
Everyone has a past, but for most it isn’t so far in the past as Seth Sangre. His past is literally from thousands of years ago. Seth’s past led him to the present seeking something that might help him save his country from destruction. He has been in the present for over three years now, and he just found exactly what he has been looking for.

Mari had dreams of college being a fresh start, one where she would start over and not fall for the good looking player like high school. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what ends up falling into her lap on the first day she moves into the dorms. Now she has to hold to her promise to herself not fall for the handsome Seth Sangre. But he doesn’t plan to make it easy for her. Seth has already marked her as his next conquest. As the semester progresses Mari learns that Seth might just have a past of his own that’s literally in the past.
Suddenly, Mari finds her future along with her past put into question. She’s connected to Seth far more than she ever wanted to be, and maybe he isn’t the player who she thought he was. If Mari can trust her heart enough to follow him, Seth will lead Mari on an adventure of a lifetime-and reveal family secrets she never knew existed.

Opinion:
Carnelian is a refreshing take on a modern college tale. McMichael has created characters that are not your “run of the mill” college students. There is no bleach blonde cheerleader or wealthy sorority boy. Granted there is still the super hot football star, but he is not the usual stereotype. He is soulful, insightful and exotic looking. His female counterpart is a tall red haired beauty, with an Indian best friend. I loved this more realistic and multicultural look at college life.

Then there is the storyline. It is not about fallen angels, vampires, dystopian societies or mythical creatures. For a dynamic change, it’s a mysterious adventure about time travel and ancient societies. It felt like a cross between ‘The time traveller’s wife’, a college romance novel and a history book. Well done McMichael! It kept me engaged from the beginning to end.

The romance between the two main characters is teased out in the opening chapters, keeping the reader wanting more. Mari is a strong, intelligent character who is cautious and calculating about beginning any new romances. Seth is aloof and persistent, with witty charm and charisma that makes you swoon! The combination of these two characters creates a perfect balance for the story, and maintains the momentum of the plot.

My only small criticism was that the middle was a little lack lustre there for a few chapters . The reader was left wondering what was going to happen next as the main characters romance had already been explored. The rapid pace of the last few chapters, however, made up for this lull in the middle. I was turning the pages faster than I could read properly, in order to get to the end. And what an end it was! It left me wanting more, but unfortunately I will have to wait patiently for the next instalment.

Summary:
B Kristin Mc Michael has created something punchy, refreshing and dynamic. Cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

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Review – That Dating Thing by Mackenzie Crowne

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Sweet, Sexy, Romantic!

Title – That Dating Thing
Author – Mackenzie Crowne
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Pages – 196
Reviewer – Laura

*** Copy provided by Author in exchange for an honest review*** 

Blurb: 

The daughter of Wall Street’s most notorious stock swindler, dog trainer Rylee Pierce has perfected the art of flying beneath society’s radar.

Prosecutor, Cooper Reed, is a threat to her carefully hidden truths, but how is a woman supposed to resist a man capable of handling a psychotic Great Dane while charming her out of her panties before she has the chance to blink?

Opinion:

I found this book to be a very enjoyable and easy read!

Rylee Pierce – After everything she had been through with her swindling, criminal father basically ruining her whole life, I found her character to be determined, strong and extremely kind hearted. I felt so sorry for her by the end of the book as it just seemed her past would continue to haunt her and she would never get a chance to be out of the media’s eye and live a normal life.

Cooper Reed – Well, he just sounds extremely sexy! After the first few chapters I was convinced he was just going to be this chauvinistic pig who only wanted Rylee for one thing. However, I’m pleased to say that he turned out to be very romantic and sweet, and by the end,I really started to love his character!

All in all “That Dating Thing” had the perfect balance of fun, wit and romance that I thoroughly enjoyed and would definitely recommend to anyone who has not read it already!

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Review- Mirage (The Destined Series # 1) by Ashley Suzanne

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Marvellous Mirage! 

Title: Mirage (The Destined Series # 1)
Author: Ashley Suzanne
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 182
Reviewer: Kelly

*** Copy provided by Author in exchange for an honest review***

Explanation:
Mirage is the story of Mira Adams a newly graduated college student who tragically loses her fiancé to a motorcycle accident. Mira and Danny met on orientation day in their freshman year. They have been inseparable ever since. Danny’s best friend Skylar was always around, as was Mira’s best friend Kylee. Together this foursome navigated their college years, all graduating on the same day. On graduation day they decided to take the boys bikes out for a ride. This is when tragedy arose. The bike Danny and Mira were on wrecked and Danny didn’t make it. Mirage follows the lives of Mira, Skylar and Kylee in the months following Danny’s death and how they survive without him.

Opinion:
The story starts with a bang! Mira has just lost Danny to a motorcycle accident and is left utterly devastated. As a reader you are invested from the very beginning as you want to find out what becomes of Mira, Skylar and Kylee and how they can possibly recover without Danny. The plot line of the story then follows a seemingly predictable path, where you know just how and who Mira is going to seek comfort from. Then WHAM, the predictability ends in Chapter 4 and the path you thought this book was going to take does not go there at all!

The rest of the book has you grappling for answers, wondering what is going to become of the main protagonists and how Ashley Suzanne will end it. The paths you think the characters will go down are completely different now, especially with Danny’s passing. The once inseparable foursome seems to be poles apart. The best part, that leaves you GOBSMACKED, is the ending!

Suzanne wrote this book using dual protagonists Mira and Skylar. It was necessary to have the two characters points of view as they are often in different situations throughout the story. The time jumps within the novel also require this dual point of view so that the reader can catch up to what has been going on in each characters life. This style of writing also allows the reader to see how each character was feeling, how they were coping without Danny and through their inner monologue- if this was the life they thought they would be leading.

My one and only criticism with this novel was the poor editing! There were grammatical and punctuation errors in at least every chapter. Although tiny and sometimes irrelevant it makes it hard to appreciate the story as a polished and published piece of fiction with so many mistakes. My advice would be to have it re-read and edited!

Summary:
Mirage was an unpredictable, romantic and engaging read. The ending made me jump straight into Inception, the next book in The Destined Series.

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Review – The Boys of Summer (Book #1 Summer Series) by C.J Duggan

A BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY AUSSIE STYLE!

Title: The Boys of Summer (Book #1 Summer Series)
Author: C.J Duggan
Pages: 321
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Nicole

*** Thank you to The Three Bookateers and C.J Duggan for the opportunity to be involved in That One Summer Blog Tour ***

BLURB:

It seemed only natural to nickname them the ‘Onslow Boys’. Every time they swaggered in the front door of the Onslow Hotel after a hard week’s work, their laughter was loud and genuine as they settled onto their bar stools. I peeked through the restaurant partition, a flimsy divider between my world and theirs. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw them, saw him … Toby Morrison.

Quiet seventeen-year-old Tess doesn’t relish the thought of a summertime job. She wants nothing more than to forget the past haunts of high school and have fun with her best friends before the dreaded Year Twelve begins.

To Tess, summer is when everything happens: riding bikes down to the lake, watching the fireworks at the Onslow Show and water bomb fights at the sweltering Sunday markets.

How did she let her friends talk her into working?

After first-shift disasters, rude, wealthy tourists and a taunting ex-boyfriend, Tess is convinced nothing good can come of working her summer away. However, Tess finds unlikely allies in a group of locals dubbed ‘The Onslow Boys’, who are old enough to drive cars, drink beer and not worry about curfews. Tess’s summer of working expands her world with a series of first times with new friends, forbidden love and heartbreaking chaos.

All with the one boy she has never been able to forget.

It will be a summer she will always remember.

REVIEW:

C.J Duggan put the biggest smile on my face while reading this story, being a proud Australian who is entering the summer months my excitement has been magnified knowing what Duggan has captured is to come!

Duggan has created a town called Onslow which captures the true essence of summer and holiday time in Australia in the outback. She perfectly details the heat and humidity which would send the townspeople crowding around a lake to cool off, necessarily followed by seeking out entertainment at the local pub The Onslow Hotel. The promise of cold VB beers on tap (proud Australian beers) would be the most sought after action/social event the town would have along with the famous pool room being the meeting place for the hot, gorgeous, hand working, down to earth country boys – Aussie Style!!

The Boys of Summer, protagonist Tess has just finished year eleven at high school, which was a nightmare of a year, due to her ex-boyfriend Scott being bitter about their break up and branding her “Tic Tac Tess”. Tess, wanting to move on from her horrible year was looking forward to spending her summer with her two best friends Ellie and Adam, relaxing and swimming at Lake Onslow. The only problem with Tess’s plan is that Adam has been forced to work his summer holiday at his Uncle Eric’s restaurant at the Onslow Hotel. Not wanting to work his holiday on his own, he convinces Ellie and Tess to come and work for the summer so they can still spend their holidays together. But when Adam, rather stupidly, hurts himself at a party his parents send him to live with his Nana in the city as form of punishment. This leaves Ellie and Tess to work at The Onslow hotel by themselves. Before the disappointment of what her summer was pending to become can sink in, Tess finds herself serving her long time crushToby Morrison and his friends, who Ellie labels “the Onslow Boys”. The Onslow boys quickly befriend Ellie and Tess and they start to spend time together. The attraction and desire between Tess and Toby is undeniable but there is only one problem, Toby has a girlfriend – Angela. Regardless, the more time Tess and Toby spend together the more Tess feels like her connection with Toby is not one sided. So is Toby giving mixed messages? Or is he attracted to Tess and much as Tess is to Toby? And if he is, what does he plan to do about it?

I loved watching Tess’s character grow and develop throughout this story. From wanting to be in the shadows and not be seen by her peers to maturing and wanting to be seen and chasing what her heart desires. Letting herself be vulnerable and to do so also to gain confidence. This change was all due to Toby’s character, for the chemistry between Tess and Toby’s characters is undeniable, you could feel the sexual tension between these two characters from their first meeting. I loved the pace Duggan took to evolve their love story keeping me engaged, making me consume the pages wanting these two to get together.
I found Adam and Tess’s relationship interesting and I feel there is definitely more involved in this friendship from Adam’s side. It was obvious to the reader he treats his relationship with Tess different to his friendship with Ellie. I would have loved to witness more of a confrontation or conflict in this friendship for I guarantee if Tess’s character was willing to want more out of their friendship Adam’s character would jump at the chance!

The Onslow boy’s characters really do make this story come to life and I loved all of them. You have the hot, sexy Toby who has high morals and values and Sean who was in the lime light a bit in this story and accepted outcomes and situations. You have Stan and Ringer who were present but didn’t go deep into their self story’s they just added personality to the story. But I have to say it was Chris’s character that I found the most intriguing. The bar man has eyes and ears everywhere and knows everything yet doesn’t get involved in people’s business. I would love to know his thoughts throughout this story as he seems to be a quite broody type. I found his character likeable because there is so much more to his character and they always say it’s the quite ones you have to look out for!

Duggan delivered a well written story about first love and summer romances. I love that this is just the start of this series and that we get to explore and focus on other members of our beloved Onslow boys, I would definitely read this series there is a boy for all types of personalities to become your next favorite book boyfriend, my question to you would be which Onlsow boy will win your heart?

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The Summer Series: https://www.goodreads.com/series/92873-summer

About C.J Duggan

C.J Duggan is the number one bestselling Australian author of the Summer Series! C.J lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia. When she isn’t writing books about swoony boys and 90’s pop culture you will find her renovating her hundred-year-old Victorian homestead or annoying her local travel agent for a quote to escape the chaos.

Novels in the Summer Series includes: The Boys of Summer (2012), An Endless Summer (2013) and the highly anticipated, soon to be released That One Summer (2013).

For more on C.J and ‘The Summer Series’, visit www.cjdugganbooks.com

Check out the Summer Series trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTMF8Pprxew

Review: Journey Through the Sattara by Renee P. Brooks

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AN UPLIFTING TALE OF OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

Title: Journey through Sattara
Author: Renee P. Brooks
Publisher: Renee P. Brooks
Release Date: October 16, 2013
Pages: 268
Genre: Fiction
Reviewer:  Debby

*** Copy provided by Author in exchange for an honest review***
Blurb:
Journey deep into the heart of the Sattara Jungle where the story of two rival tribes (the Ja’Ka Tribe and the Ya’Tu Tribe) is captured.

After years of war and bitter rivalry, their revenge for one another is halted by what is believed to be a curse placed on them by the Gods. Six years of famine, poverty, and grief steal the livelihood of the two tribes, and they have no choice but to settle their differences.

Despite the hatred buried deep in the hearts of the men and women of both tribes, they try to reach some kind of common ground. After the birth of two blessed children (Su’Ma born to the Ja’Ka People and Ne’Ya born to the Ya’Tu People) they divide their newly discovered territory and set forth rules that are very simple for all to follow.

No trading, No communication, No cohabiting, No mating between members of the two tribes, and the biggest rule of all No Crossing Into The Other’s Territory For Any Reason. All is well until Su’Ma and Ne’Ya meet up in the jungle at age 15. Captivated by one another, they break the one rule that has the worse consequences. The breaking of that rule excites the fire between the two tribes that can only be put out in one way. War! [… ]

Review:
Journey Through the Sattara by Renee P. Brooks, is a very unique work of fiction that takes the reader back to the very roots of storytelling.  Presented as a fable, Brooks’ narrative is told through a stripped back, third person omniscient voice that not only relays the motivations, thoughts and feelings of her characters, but also the important lessons that the reader is to take away from her text. Paired with an interesting plot that diverges and converges around the two tribes at the centre of the book’s conflict, Journey Through the Sattara keeps the reader interested from the very first page.

While I was, at first, surprised by the way the book was written, once I got my head around the writing style I found I really enjoyed it and became quickly immersed in the story and interested in its characters.  I loved this book for its straightforward themes and clean, simple storytelling.  Brooks explores several classic themes, star crossed lovers, the bonds of family, betrayal, day vs. night, dark vs. light, gender roles, overcoming boundaries, freedom and exploration without sounding stale or repetitive.  These themes are sprinkled with a hint of magic spread through the pages that is always closely linked with the wonders of nature.  There is an appeal to a way of life that our modern society has largely forgotten, and that is a respect for one’s elders and the wisdom and knowledge they hold within from their experiences to pass down to new generations.

Within the construction of the protagonists, Ne’Ya and Su’ma, there are several layers of tradition, spirituality, self-discovery and growth that the reader is slowly exposed to throughout the reading of this moral and lesson-fueled adventure.  As we follow the paths of these two, special individuals we are exposed to the different cultures and beliefs of their respective tribes and introduced to the themes of light vs. darkness and good vs. evil.   Where Ne’Ya’s  Ya’Tu tribe is matriarchal, nature and spirit based, Su’Ma’s Ja’Ka tribe is about patriarchy, physicality and brute force.  While the two main characters come from very different sides of the spectrum, it is the combination of the best of both worlds that creates such a special bond between the two main characters and drives them along the path to their shared destiny.

Following the arc of the narrative, the reader is introduced to the many supporting characters that will play intrinsic roles in seeing the protagonists through their trials and tribulations.  One special married couple from Ne’Ya’s tribe who take the two outcasts into their home and treat them as they would their own children.  We meet a host of brave children and one significant young girl with a helpful ability.  We are also introduced to another tribe entirely who are able to embrace the “otherness” of Ne’Ya and Su’Ma without any sign of the intolerance their own tribes show each other.  Most definitely my favourite supporting character has to be Jungle Cat, whose unique “persona” becomes a treasured asset to the battles that Ne’Ya and Su’Ma have to face along the way.

Throughout this story our protagonist’s encounter betrayal after betrayal, but at the same time closely knit bonds and loyalty keep them safe from experiencing too much tragedy.  This tale illustrates the importance of family, whatever form it may take, as well as the significance of growing up and the lessons we learn along the way from both our successes and failures.  The author extends a message to her reader’s at the beginning of the story to “never give up” and through the narrative she explores all the difficulties and trauma we can face both at home and out in the wide world.  Her character’s don’t ever give up, even upon arriving at their destiny they realize there is always more work to do and more growing to be done.  It is an inspirational message wrapped up in a unique and exciting adventure.

I most certainly commend Brooks on this self-published narrative and appreciate that she has been able to share with the world something that is pure and enriching.  While it may not have the sex and scintillation of other works of fiction in the popular market, and it may not be as perfect as if it had been churned out by a major publisher, the roughness adds a measure of authenticity and it is perfect for an uplifting read.

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Review – Tie the Knot by Cynthia Rayne

SCORCHING HOT!

Title: Tie the Knot (Novella)
Author: Cynthia Rayne
Pages: 60
Genre: BDSM / Erotic Romance
Reviewer: Nicole

*** Copy provided by Author in exchange for an honest review***

BLURB:

John “Sax” Saxon wants his estranged wife Maggie back in his life and in his bed. As his submissive. During their whirlwind courtship and short-lived stint as a married couple, he’d kept his kinky desires to himself, worried that his sheltered wife wouldn’t understand. Now that they’ve separated and counseling has failed them, he has nothing left to lose. Sax is going to show Maggie just how pleasurable submitting to him can be. A Romantica(r) BDSM erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

 

REVIEW:

Ok…. I have taken my cold shower to calm down and stop myself from blushing and my body from buzzing, so I could write this review! Tie the Knot by Cynthia Rayne is a scorching hot novella. I have read quite a few erotica books in my time and I usually don’t find them to my taste as they are generally too expressive and at times too far-fetched for my liking.  So I was surprised to find that Tie the Knot is more of a mild level BDSM / Erotic story which made it more accessible and relatable. This story would be a fantastic introduction for reader looking at getting acquainted with this genre.

Tie the Knot is about John Saxon and his wife Maggie who have recently separated due to the breakdown of communication in their marriage. The communication breakdown is quite simple; John has kept a secret from his wife that is now affecting their relationship.  John has a sexual fetish and fears that his wife will run to the hills if she had any idea what he truly desired.  John’s love for his wife and his need to have her back in his life trumps his fears so, with trepidation, he confesses his sexual desires to his wife and is surprised to discover that Maggie’s love for him makes her open to try anything to make this relationship work. What they both don’t expect is how Maggie adapts so easily to his desires, to the point where John has awakened Maggie’s own sexual fetishes and desires!

This novella is extremely well written with a believable plot with good content and depth. The plot moved along at a fast pace, jumping straight into the thick of the story from the very first page to a very fulfilling ending, conquering all the desires needed for erotic genre readers.

I felt Rayne portrayed believable and well rounded characters. The presentation of the main character’s different personalities was very pronounced, with John’s character being the very stereotypical closed off, expressionless Brit to Maggie’s character being the naïve inexperienced, devoted wife.

Being a novella and only 60 pages long this is a quick read that will awaken desires you didn’t even know you had and you might need to take a cold shower!

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Review – Prayer for the Dead by Nicki Scalise

 

HAVE YOU SAID YOUR PRAYERS?

Title: Prayer for the Dead (Book #1 Revenants in Purgatory)
Author: Nicki Scalise
Pages: 221
Genre: Adult – Paranormal Romance
Reviewer: Nicole
 
*** Copy provided by Author in exchange for an honest review***

BLURB:

A story about a girl who lived, died, and met a guy… in that order.

Is it possible to find true love and happiness, while condemned to purgatory until the end of days?

Olivia Brennan wasn’t eager to find out. Working for a division of Purgatory and Associates, her job consisted of one headache after another, caused by the impatient souls waiting to move onto eternal paradise. After a hard day at work, she was most content to stay home, watching reruns or reading a book. Aside from a few friends occasionally
forcing socialization, her afterlife was nothing special.

That all changed the moment Drake walked into her life. He was handsome, charming, and had a sadness behind his eyes she could relate to. It seemed that Fate had finally brought her a kindred spirit…

But could Olivia move past her own dark regrets of the life she left behind or would falling for him demand the ultimate sacrifice—herself?

 

REVIEW:

Congratulations to Nicki Scalise for delivering a fresh and innovative paranormal romance filled with humor, suspense, love, loss and friendship.  What an incredible effort for her debut novel!

Olivia Brennan, the protagonist in Prayer for the Dead, is a “Revenant”, struggling with the darkness of guilt, pain and grief resulting from her decisions and actions when she was alive. Revenants are souls who, for all intents and purposes, are dead but they walk the middle plane of existence and purgatory to the end of time. Revenants are created when a person dies and moves on from the land of the living without a proper funeral or prayers for them. Without a service or prayers there is no absolution, without absolution there is no chance for your soul to leave purgatory.

Olivia works with her brother Tore, best friend Devon and friend Portia at Purgatory and Associates. Her job is to process souls who get to move on to “Paradise” or to “Silence”.  Silence is a separate state of purgatory where souls must spend eternity alone, unable to interact with anyone or anything, living or dead, and they never move on for they become lost.

It is when Olivia is dragged along to go clubbing with her friend Portia that she meets Drake. Olivia had never felt a more physical or emotional connection to anyone while she was alive or since she has been dead, but little does Olivia know that from the moment she meets Drake the rest of her existence will never be the same again!

The characters in this story are very well rounded.  Each character is emotionally exposed at some point throughout the story as they reveal their own personal desires, insecurities and battles.  This is a perfect set up for the reader to witness the characters interact with each other, open up, grow, mature and develop throughout this series.

I really enjoyed the portrayal of Olivia’s personality.  She has such a great sense of humor, which had me laughing out loud as I followed her train of thoughts. I found her to be a strong lead character and while she is flawed and shows weaknesses in this story, I can sense her character becoming quite strong and of some importance throughout the series.

The chemistry between Olivia and her best friend Devon is off the charts! The way these two characters know and understand each other is very enjoyable to read and this could be wishful thinking but I am hoping this friendship develops throughout the series.  Whether the development would be mutual or one sided is yet to be seen.  I am hoping my prediction is correct as I didn’t feel the same electricity between Olivia and her other potential love interest, Drake. I felt very little chemistry between Olivia and Drake, which I think is mainly because I found his character somewhat weak.  I could feel my dislike for his character grow throughout the story, especially when he identifies with his weakness but doesn’t have the strength or drive to change.  I am intrigued to see how Drake develops throughout the series and maybe he will redeem himself, thus changing my opinion of his character.

In Prayer for the Dead, Scalise creates a unique story around Revenants and Reapers as well as introducing new paranormal identities such as Necromancers (witches of the dead).  While simply putting in a cameo in this story, the reader is given yet another indication of the direction of this series.  This direction comes with a guarantee that the next installment is going to be filled with more new and interesting paranormal identities and forms.

Prayer for the Dead was well written with great plot flow and pace that kept the reader constantly engaged.  The plot twists and turns and cliffhanger ending leave the reader wanting the next book to the series immediately.   I am sure the next installment is going to expose a whole new dimension to this series!

If you are looking for a fresh, new paranormal romance series to read, I highly recommend this book and in the meantime my advice to you…..don’t forget to say your prayers at night!

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Review- Fire Country by David Estes

Fire Country by David Estes book one[1]

THIS BOOK IS ON FIRE!

Title: Fire Country (A Dwellers Saga Sister Novel, Book #1 of the Country Saga)
Author: David Estes
Genre: Dystopian
Publication: Createspace Independent Publishing
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 261
Reviewer: Kelly

***Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy***

Explanation:
Fire Country is a story told through the eyes of fifteen year old youngling Siena. Siena and her people are called Heaters, and they occupy this hot, dry and futuristic land. The Heaters have limited life expectancies, due to the overbearing heat, with only a few reaching beyond their thirtieth birthday. The ruler of the Heaters is Greynote Shiva, as at thirty-five years old he is currently the oldest surviving male. Siena’s father is one of the top-ten Greynote leaders, and the next in line to be their ruler as he is thirty-two years old.

Siena is a day-dreamer and is constantly scolded by her teachers at school. She is frequently ridiculed by the other students who see her as weak. He father often beats her for embarrassing their family. Siena’s one true friend is her fellow Youngling Circ. Circ has been her friend since they were Totters, then Midders and now as Younglings. Circ is a Hunter who is strong, an exceptional athlete and handsome too. He always protects Siena at all costs.

Siena and Circ are both about to turn sixteen. It is stated in Heater Law that at the age of sixteen all females will have to become Bearers. That means for Siena that at the upcoming Calling ceremony she will be matched with an eighteen year old boy, so as to bear his children and continue on the Heater race. Circ will continue honing his Hunter skills and providing food and protection for the Heaters, until he turns eighteen and becomes part of the Call.

Amongst the Heaters there are some that are not happy with the structured regime of their people. The Law that does not allow people to decide upon their own destiny, has created a rebellious group known as the Wild Ones. The Wild Ones have run away from their families, the village and the Law to live as they please. The Wild Ones are feared by the Greynotes, despised by the villagers and secretly envied by the defiant few.

Opinion:
David Estes has created another great novel! Fire Country had me intrigued from its opening statement:

Article 56

 A Bearer shall, upon reaching the appropriate age of sixteen years old, be Called to a man, no younger than eighteen years old, to Bear children, immediately and every three years thereafter.

This is the LAW.

The feminist in me was outraged that this was Law. I could not think of anything worse than being told that for the rest of my life I would just be bearing someone’s children! Someone, who I didn’t like or even get to choose. The fact that this was going to happen to sixteen year old girls was also very hard to swallow. Thus this opening statement had me rapidly reading the whole book! I read the book in two days as I was so infuriated with the Law that I had to find out the outcome immediately!

This novel reminded me somewhat of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. That book is also set in a dystopian world where certain women are forced to become Handmaids, who bear the children for the future. I despised the concept of that novel so much that I, unfortunately, didn’t finish the novel. The difference with Fire Country was that Estes paints Siena as the down-trodden, underdog who unfortunately is going to be turning sixteen. Unlike Atwood, who wrote the Handmaid, Offred, as a detached and inaccessible character, Estes has written Siena as a character the reader could easily sympathise. She has that idealistic personality where she can see the bigger picture. She is not someone who is happy with her life being mapped out for her and she can see a brighter future elsewhere. As a reader you are intrigued to see where her ideals lead her.

Now this is me with my teacher hat on; my one criticism of this book was the dialogue. I know it is a futuristic world and the characters speak differently, but sometimes it was difficult to appreciate that the characters were intellectual people when they are using slang, shortening words and not pronouncing the endings of words. Given my profession I despise bad grammar and poor pronunciation of words.

Summary:
Overall, Estes wrote another fantastic story. It was new and refreshing and left you reeling for more. I cannot wait to read Book Two in the Country Saga- Ice Country.

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