Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn't believe in love--at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can't resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can't afford distractions. She's been hired to plan the wedding of the year--a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he's not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything--including her well-guarded heart--will she find out what matters most.
He began to kiss me slow and deep, as if the world were about to end, as if it were the last minute of the last hour of the last day. The things he did with his mouth, his tongue…it was like a conversation, like sex, the way he found what I wanted and gave it to me. There was more pleasure in that kiss than in any act of physical intimacy I had ever known.
And now finally, the book I feel like I’ve been waiting years for – Joe Travis, the forgotten brother! I wasn’t sure if Lisa Kleypas was ever going to write his story and she posted online a few years ago that she didn’t have plans to ever write his book. COME ON now! You can’t have a series based on a family and not give all the siblings a book – my series OCD couldn’t have handled that. But thankfully Lisa heard our cries and now we have Brown-Eyed Girl, Joe and Avery’s story.

Avery is running a wedding and event planning business with her half-sister, a woman she just recently met thanks to dear old dad running around on his women and never staying in one place for too long. Avery met her sister Sophia in the hospital where their dad eventually died. They lost their dad, a man neither of them knew very well, but found each other and are trying to make a go of their business as they’re gaining exposure and things are picking up. It’s at one of the weddings Avery is planning where she meets Joe.

“Now it’s my turn to talk.” The sound of his voice in my ear was pure sin. “I’m the guy who’s right for you. I may not be what you’re looking for, but I’m what you want. You’ve been alone long enough, honey. It’s time for you to wake up with a man in your bed. Time for the kind of sex that lays you out, owns you, leaves you too shaky to pour your morning coffee.”
He pulled me more fully against his thigh, the intimate pressure making me weak with desire. “You’re going to have it every night, any way you want it. I have the time for you, and I sure as hell have the energy. I’ll make you forget every man you ever knew before me. The catch is, you have to trust me first. That’s the hard part, isn’t it? You can’t let anyone get too close. Because someone who knows you like that, he could hurt you – “

From the start Joe is attracted to Avery and wants her, but he’s going to have a battle on his hands. She’s locked her heart away after having it crushed by her former fiancĂ© when he left her the morning of their wedding. For Avery, it hurts too much to love someone only to have them disappoint you in some way, so that’s not a game she’s going to play. But good luck trying to resist a Travis – impossible! Joe sweet talks her with that southern charm and while I would have fallen all over him within about 5 seconds, he has to take his time with Avery to get her to start to come around.

I have to admit, my expectations were sky high for this book. Not only was it the final book in my favorite series ever, but I’ve been waiting years to get my hands on it. After my first read through, I was a little underwhelmed. Now, that’s not to say the story is bad, no way. Joe is quietly charming and Avery is a likable heroine. I was just expecting something a little bit…more. With Sugar Daddy we have the entire life, good and bad, play out for Liberty and watching her fall in love with the brooding Gage. Blue-Eyed Devil is the heaviest story-wise dealing with abuse for both Hardy and Haven and seeing them, especially Hardy in helping Haven, rebuild her life again. Smooth Talking Stranger with fun loving, charming Jack getting Ella to lighten up, eat a burger and help her deal with the potential loss of raising her nephew. Brown-Eyed Girl didn’t really have that hook for me. Sure Avery has some big career choices to make, and she has trouble letting anyone get close, but there wasn’t that thing that really made this book stand out as the prior books did.

That said, the Travis charm was still sparkling on page and we get plenty of Travis family scenes. True to their original story, Hardy and Haven have some heavy drama going on in their lives and I admit, when they came into the scenes in the background, I really wanted the POV to switch to Haven so I could get their story told through her eyes. Instead, we stay with Avery as she’s with Joe through all the family drama and it’s fine, but I still really wanted to see first hand what Hardy and Haven were feeling as they were going through something very scary.

Brown-Eyed Girl brought a satisfying end to the Travis series and this is the type of contemporary series I hope Kleypas brings back to life in the future. She has a way of writing southern, family stories that just make the characters and the scenes come to life and her writing makes this reader fall head over heels into the story. I can’t recommend this series enough and I’m so happy to now have Joe’s book for the shelf to round out the series.

Much later, Joe showed me the photo after he’d loaded it onto his laptop. A bright wash of light had imparted a pearly glow to my skin and turned my hair ember red. The eyes were heavy-lidded, the lips full and slightly parted. The woman in the photo was seductive, inviting, radiant.


As I stared at the image in wonder, Joe wrapped his arms around me from behind and whispered in my ear, “Every time I look at you…this is what I see.”

Rating: B

Release Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Lisa Kleypas: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Travis Series Revisited: Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

One glance and I knew exactly who and what he was. The classic alpha male, the kind who had spurred evolution forward about five million years ago by nailing every female in sight. They charmed, seduced, and behaved like bastards, and yet women were biologically incapable of resisting their magic DNA.

Ah, Jack. He’s the charming Travis, the guy who loves women. He’s a known ladies man but after being dumped by a woman in his past that he thought might be the one, he’s kept all other women at arms length. His sister, Haven, is worried about him because she wants someone who wants Jack for Jack and not for his money. Enter Ella. A woman who could care less about what Jack has and in fact, really doesn’t want much to do with him at the start. She’s got her hands full with another man, age – about 3 weeks old.

Ella is called in when her sister drops her newborn off with their mother and checks herself into a mental wellness center. Ella’s mother wants nothing to do with being a Grandma so in steps Ella. She puts her life on hold and leaves her boyfriend Dane who also wants nothing to do with kids, to take care of her nephew. After incorrectly accusing Jack of being the baby’s father, Jack doesn’t fade into the background but instead does what he can to help Ella and Luke. He hooks her up with Haven who now has an empty apartment and Jack finds reasons to be around Ella. Whether it’s helping her track down Luke’s real father or putting together a crib, he’s drawn to Ella.

"Back to what? A guy who bails on you when you need him? What's Dane doing now that's more important than helping you? Fighting for the rights of endangered ferns?"

I stiffened and pushed away from him, irritation jolting me out of my fugue-state. "You have no right to judge Dane or my relationship with him."

Jack made a scoffing sound. "That half-assed excuse for a relationship was over the moment Dane told you not to bring the baby to Austin. You know what he should have said?...'Hell, yes, Ella, I'll stand by you no matter what you do. Shit happens. We'll make it work. Come home now and get in bed.”

I loved this story for many reasons. One, Jack. The man is fun, charming, sexy, and playful and he gets Ella to loosen up and play with him. I also loved Ella, a woman who is trying to do the right thing for her nephew and who fell hard and fast in love with that little baby boy. Ella’s also trying to hang on to her dying relationship with Dane, a man who is all wrong for Ella, but he’s the man she thinks she wants and not the man she actually needs. Jack is the opposite of what Ella thought she wanted and Ella is not at all like any of the women Jack has been with before and in their own perfect way, they mesh.

Also engaging is the relationship Jack has with his siblings. He’s just a fun loving guy with everyone in his life. He’s close friends with Haven, he looks up to and respects Gage and he goes out and has fun with Joe. He’s a guy’s guy who works hard, plays harder and enjoys the chase when it comes to convincing Ella to take a chance on him.

"I respect you," he murmured. "and your views. I think of you as an equal. I respect your brains, and all those big words you like to use. But I also want to rip your clothes off and have sex with you until you scream and cry and see God."   ~ Jack

Smooth Talking Stranger was actually the first book in this series that I read. I remember clearly being in Barnes & Noble 6 years ago and seeing this new release on the shelf. Having never read Lisa Kleypas before, the blurb sounded good but I remember thinking, do I want to spend hardcover money on a new to me author?! I took a chance and found the series that is my #1 go-to on the bookshelf.

What I didn’t realize was that the build-up for Joe’s story at the end of Smooth Talking Stranger with the accident he and Jack have was never meant to be continued. Egads Kleypas, seriously?! I’m not sure how or why she thought that Joe shouldn’t get a book, it took 6 long years but he finally finds his heroine in Brown Eyed Girl out August 11th.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Travis Series Revisited: Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.

~Haven Travis

Book 2 in the Travis series by Lisa Kleypas is Blue-Eyed Devil (BED). I have a lot of favorite books that I’ve read over the years, but when I need a comfort read, when I need a good solid dose of romance, hell when I just need Hardy Cates, I pick this book up. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read it and it ended up being the book that I read at the right time in my life. It struck a cord and stuck and while the storyline is a bit heavier than the other books in the series, dealing with abuse that both the hero and the heroine suffered during different points of their lives, Kleypas brings to life one of the sexiest, intense and sweetest heroes I’ve ever read. When HEA-Reads was just a baby and I was co-blogging with my friend Kristin, we found every excuse possible to do a blog post about this book and Hardy. It’s safe to say that he was and still is the hero we put at the top of pretty much any list.

As was the case with Sugar Daddy, the story is told from the heroine’s POV, this time it’s Haven Travis’s turn. After being kissed senseless by Hardy at her brother Gage’s wedding reception, Haven doesn’t take Hardy up on his offer to run away with him right then and there and instead goes back to her boyfriend, soon to be husband, Nick and it ends up being the biggest mistake of her life. Nick is abusive and over the course of many months, he wears down Haven’s self-esteem and she becomes a shell of the woman she once was. After enduring the worst blow up Nick has had, he rapes her, beats her up and throws her out of the house, she calls Gage who drops everything, no questions asked, to come get her. After divorcing Nick, Haven slowly recovers with the help of her brothers and starts working for Jack. Through her job she reconnects with Hardy and he will not let this woman out of his life again. He pursues her, he stands by her through all of the issues her abusive marriage is making her work through, including being comfortable with intimacy again. Once she starts talking to Hardy about her past, she lets everything out and Hardy stands by her, strong as ever, and helps her work through everything. They have a few bumps along the way, but with everything they both went through in their past, seeing their romance play out on page, it’s captivating in a way that not a lot of romances are and it’s a story that I keep coming back to time and again when I need my comfort read.

“If you don't want to have sex, I don't want to talk about our feelings."

He scrubbed his hand through his hair, looking confused. "Well, that's for damn sure the first time a woman's ever said that to me.”

For as much as I love Hardy (more on him later), I love Haven just as much. I especially loved the moments she has with her brothers and seeing their different relationships develop. Gage has always been a paternal figure in Haven’s life and she goes to him most often. We don’t see a lot of interactions between Haven and Joe but her relationship with Jack was the most the fun. They’re the siblings that tormented each other (usually Jack tormenting his younger sister) growing up, but as adults they’ve become close friends and there was a sweetness to their relationship that we see in not only BED but in Jack’s book, Smooth Talking Stranger, that I really enjoyed.

Fun family moments aside, let’s face it, the real draw to this book was their romance and one Hardy Cates; a man who grew up dirt poor in a trailer park to becoming a successful multi-millionaire business man. He has drive, he wants more, heck he wants everything and now the only thing missing is a woman to stand by his side. While he wasn’t expecting Haven, he will not let this woman go. As he tells her, she slows him down, in a good way. She quiets all the voices in his head telling him he needs to achieve more, do more, earn more, be bigger and better. She slows it all down and even Liberty can see the change in Hardy, a change for the better. Plus, the man is just a big sexy Texan with that slow drawl. Impossible to resist.

“What you should really be sorry for," he continued, "is that for the rest of my life, I'll have to avoid wine cellars to keep from thinking about you."

"Why? Was kissing me that bad?"

A devil-soft whisper. "No sweetheart. It was that good.”

From their first meeting in a dark wine cellar, to an elevator rescue and a night when Hardy learns about Haven’s past and helps her move forward into a future filled with love, this book just got to me. Is the story really complex and intricate? Not really. Is the romance epic? Maybe not. But there is just something about the way Kleypas crafts a story that slowly draws me in much like her characters and with BED, she brought to life Hardy and Haven, two characters that even years after being introduced to them, I still can’t get enough of.


Friday, July 31, 2015

The Travis Series Revisited: Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

So, I’m alive! I know, long time, no blog post. Life has a way of speeding by and with little bumps in my personal life (running + injuries = lots of time in PT), reviewing took a bit of back seat. I’ve still been reading but I’ve found myself in the biggest reading slump I’ve ever been in. Everything I’ve read over the past few months was just fine. Fine. There is NO worse word for a reviewer to think after finishing a book then that it was fine. Because writing a ‘fine’ review for every book means every review started to sound exactly the same. Now I have read a few winners recently, most notably the next Archangel’s Guild book by Nalini Singh (Naasir’s story!) is a must read. And possibly my most anticipated book in years is finally out in August, Joe Travis’s story in Brown Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas. That book and the Travis series is what brought me back to the blog. It’s hands down my most re-read series ever, with book 2 Blue Eyed Devil being the book I’ve read more than any other. We all have that book, the one that we picked up randomly one day and read and the stars aligned because it’s the exact story that we needed at the exact right time. For me, it’s Blue Eyed Devil (BED). The story itself isn’t all the complicated or complex, although it does deal with domestic abuse, so the storyline is a little heavier than in the others books. But Kleypas has a way with words and she especially has a way of writing southern, Texan heroes that makes me fall in love. Fall in love with the hero and heroine. Fall in love with the setting and years ago when I first picked up BED, it made me fall in love with contemporary romance and changed my book life.

With the upcoming release of Brown Eyed Girl, the last in the Travis series, quickly approaching, I did another series reread, cover to cover starting with Sugar Daddy. While I’m not going to review each book, as I was reading the stories, new things popped out and maybe it’s because I’ve been reading a lot of stinkers lately, but these books for me have stood the test of time and still come out on top of all of the other hundreds of books I’ve read. With that, here’s part 1 of a 4-part posting series with the book that started it all, Sugar Daddy.

The span of three or four minutes is pretty insignificant in the scheme of things. People lose hundreds of minutes everyday, squandering them on trivial things. But sometimes in those fragments of time, something can happen you'll remember the rest of your life.

Sugar Daddy introduces us to the powerful and insanely rich Travis family. Oldest son Gage, his half-siblings Jack, Joe and Haven and their father Churchill. We also meet our heroine Liberty and the boy her teenage heart fell in love with Hardy Cates. With the story being told from Liberty’s POV, and starting out with her as a young teen, we see all her struggles and the place Hardy has in her life, being her protector in their trailer park in the poor town of Welcome, Texas. Hardy goes off to make something of himself, crushing Liberty’s heart into a million pieces. But when her mother dies suddenly, Liberty becomes the mom to her infant sister Carrington and grows up fast. She finds work in a salon, she becomes friends with Churchill Travis and through that friendship she meets Gage – who hates Liberty from the start. Of course that just makes their romance all the sweeter, seeing Gage fall for her page by page.

When I first read Sugar Daddy, I was SO invested in Hardy as Liberty’s hero. He gets a huge chunk of page time, the first half of the book and we don’t even meet Gage until the second half. That’s a slight annoyance, Gage deserved more page time, but it’s a small blip in an otherwise addicting story. But Gage makes the most of the time he does get on page and he’s hard to resist. When the ever-dependable and often brooding Gage gets laid up with the flu and has no one in his life to help him, Liberty’s big heart can’t say no and she goes to him. Their relationship changes after that one visit and I went from being completely pro Liberty & Hardy to Gage all the way. There’s just something about seeing this larger than life, successful businessman, who’s hard and tough around the edges, brought to his knees by a woman he can’t live without. And sure Hardy has to come back to rock the boat but by that time I was completely in love with Gage and Liberty and their romance that gained steam with every page.

“What are you thinking?" he [Gage] asks.

I [Liberty] know Gage hates it when I cry - he is completely undone by the sight of tears - so I blink hard against the sting. "I'm thinking how thankful I am for everything," I say, "even the bad stuff. Every sleepless night, every second of being lonely, every time the car broke down, every wad of gum on my shoe, every late bill and losing lottery ticket and bruise and broken dish and piece of burnt toast."

His voice is soft. "Why, darlin'?"

"Because it all led me here to you.”

While we learn all about the bigger than life Travis family, this was Liberty's story to tell. I loved being able to follow Liberty first as a young teen growing up in the dirt poor small town of Welcome. Watching as her mother made mistake after mistake with the men in life, and then becoming pregnant with Liberty's young sister Carrington. Liberty then takes on the role of mom to Carrington, even though she's still a teen and needs her own mother, who dies in a car wreck not long after Carrington is born. We see her struggle to make ends meet, but she wants so much more out of life not only for herself but for Carrington. With some help she never realized she was getting, she goes to beauty school, gets a steady job, meets Churchill and her life is never the same after that meeting. I absolutely loved seeing Liberty's life play out, seeing the strong woman she becomes and seeing her finally find love and happiness with a man she never saw coming. She's a memorable heroine and in a series filled with strong Texan heroes who take over the minute they come on page, Liberty held her own and her story is one that I'll never forget.

Sugar Daddy was my introduction to this powerful family and to a strong heroine that I loved getting to know in Liberty. And it served as a great introduction to Hardy, being able to see the childhood he pulled himself up from and it lends itself as a great lead in to Blue Eyed Devil, book 2 in the series and my absolute favorite book, period.

(to be continued...)


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: The Bourbon Kings (Bourbon Kings Series #1) by J.R. Ward

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal....

For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

The Bourbon Kings introduces us to the Bradford family. Their family is the leader in the bourbon industry, their estate is a small city in and of itself and within the walls of their mansion lies so many secrets and scandals, it led to a new revelation with every turning page. Our leads are Lane and Lizzie. Tulane (Lane) is the rich son of William Baldwine and has been living in New York for the past two years with zero desire to go home. He left his heart with Lizzie and after their relationship came to a screaming halt, he left but not before marrying another woman he knocked up. He left her behind, she lost the child (at least that how she tells it) and Lane has been licking his wounds on his best friend’s couch and playing poker. When he gets a phone call that the woman who raised him was ill, he heads home. It’s derby week, something Lane wants nothing to do with, but his family’s estate hosts a million dollar pre-derby party for the richest of the rich and Lane finds himself right in the middle of not only that, but many family secrets and drama that comes to a head. Through it all, the only person he wants to see is Lizzie. The woman he still loves and will do anything to be with again.

Lizzie is the head gardener at the Easterly estate (Lane’s family home – I know so many different names that all reference the same people) and the last thing she wants to do is face Lane. She made the mistake of loving and trusting him once only to be burned badly, but he’s back and she can’t escape the inevitable meeting they have. Whether she wants to or not, she still has feelings for him as well, but it’s not easy for her to forget the past, especially with Lane’s wife living on the estate. But of course, Lane and Lizzie have it out, put their feelings out there, good, bad and ugly and for Lane, Lizzie ends up being the one calming presence in his life that is spinning out of control.

Ok, talk about family drama. It’s like a cross between Dallas meets Southern Charm. There are so many different family threads and dynamics going on, it’ll be impossible to give you the full picture of everything and everyone we’re introduced to. There are four siblings, Lane, the oldest brother Edward, the missing brother Max and the maybe she’s wicked or maybe she’s just heartbroken sister, Gin. All the siblings are interesting and their stories are built up in a way that has me really curious about each of them. Edward is dealing with physical and mental scars from his past. Gin is dealing with being basically sold by her father into marriage but (spoiler alert – there is a rape scene. It’s quick on page, not incredibly detailed, but still it’s there and it’s uncomfortable) she has a weird love-hate-love relationship with another man, her baby daddy, who has no idea he even has a teenage daughter; I can’t wait for that little bomb to drop. And there’s the missing son Maxwell. No one knows where he is, what he’s doing, only that he’s off the grid and that makes this reader’s ears perk up.

The siblings are just the tip of the characters we’re introduced to. Many friends, enemies and business associates come on page and everyone has a connection to something that’s going on. There’s of course scandal, lies, murder, you name it, this soap opera-esque drama has it. And that’s what ultimately kept me hooked into the story.

What didn’t have me interested was the romance between Lane and Lizzie. There was absolutely no spark between them on page. No chemistry. Nada. Zilch. And you and I both know that J.R. Ward can bring the romance and the sexy on page, but it was just non-existent for Lane and Lizzie and that was disappointing. For being the leads of this book, I found them to be the most boring characters on page. I was so much more interested in everyone else and the supporting characters are the reason I’ll come back for book 2, just to see how things that were set up for them play out.

Even with a romance that was a big miss for me, I enjoyed the family drama that played out and all the various storylines that were set up for future books. Ward wrote the scenes in such a way that I was able to picture exactly what everything looked like, how the estate was set up, even down to hearing those strong southern accents in my head. The drama was over the top and kept me interested and for now, I’ll be back to see what drama unfolds next.

Rating: C+

Release Date: July 28, 2015
Publisher: NAL
J.R. Ward: Webpage | Facebook
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eBook provided by publisher for review* 


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Moonlight on Nightingale Way (On Dublin Street #6) by Samantha Young

Logan from Echoes of Scotland Street is back with his own smoldering story, as the New York Times bestselling On Dublin Street series returns…

Logan spent two years paying for the mistakes he made. Now, he’s ready to start over. He has a great apartment, a good job, and plenty of women to distract him from his past. And one woman who is driving him to distraction…

Grace escaped her manipulative family by moving to a new city. Her new life, made to suit her own needs, is almost perfect. All she needs to do is find her Mr. Right—or at least figure out a way to ignore her irresistible yet annoying womanizer of a neighbor.

Grace is determined to have nothing to do with Logan until a life-changing surprise slowly begins turning the wild heartbreaker into exactly the kind of strong, stable man she’s been searching for. Only just when she begins to give into his charms, her own messy past threatens to derail everything they’ve worked to build…

The final On Dublin Street series book brings us Logan, who we first met in Echoes of Scotland Street, as an ex-con who’s trying to put his past behind him and start his life over. His next door neighbor, Grace, isn’t so pleased with his many late night visitors and she’s even more annoyed with the thin walls between their bedrooms. They don’t get off on the best foot but when a teenager comes to Logan claiming that he’s her father, Grace is there to help and finds herself hooked into Logan’s life more than she ever expected or wanted to be.

Grace grew up being verbally abused by her mother and finally cut her entire family out of her life years ago. She’s still “removing the venom” as she describes the flashbacks she’ll have to things her mother used to say to her, so her self-confidence isn’t the best. But she has a tight group of friends, her self-made family and she’s making a good life for herself. Now, she’s pulled into Logan’s life and she finds herself falling hard and fast for her irresistible neighbor who needs her help.

This series has been a little up and down for me, I either loved the books or didn’t care for them so I was pleasantly surprised with how easily I got hooked into Logan and Grace’s story. I was intrigued with Logan when he first came into the series during his sister Shannon’s story and I couldn’t wait to learn more about him. He’s sexy, he’s got that bad guy edge and I loved seeing him get thrown for a loop when his, possible daughter, shows up. It’s a plot line that I love more times than not and it worked for me big time here. I loved the daughter, Maia, I thought she was smart and my heart went out to her and her life prior to trying to find Logan. I really liked Logan and how he tries so hard with Maia and how he lets his guard down with Grace. I was especially drawn to Grace. I found her to so likable, so normal and I liked how she fit into Logan and Maia’s life and how taking a chance on Logan helped her finally get rid of the final demons that had been in her ear about her past for far too long.

Logan and Grace together = SEXY. Logan is a total alpha in the bedroom and Grace loves it. She flat out says if she trusts the man she’s with he can do anything he wants in the bedroom. When Logan hears this – yeah it’s all over at that point! They were sexy in the bedroom (or up against the wall) and they provided emotion strength for each other as they both have some issues from their past and present to get through.

I also appreciated that there was no real unneeded angst. Sure, this couple has some bumps along the way, but never did I think “really?” when it came to how they handle the problems that do come up. We get to see plenty of our old friends come across the page, Shannon gets a lot of page time and I always like learning who has kids now and what each past couple is up to.

This ended up being a book I read in a day and I wasn’t expecting to get drawn into the story as much as I did. Logan and Grace are so dang likeable and I loved seeing their relationship unfold. With this being the last book in the series, I appreciated the final chapter and Samantha Young giving us one final update for each couple. It’s a sweet way to end this series and I’m left looking forward to seeing what Young has in store for us next.

Rating: B+

Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: NAL
Samantha Young: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review: Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling Series #14) by Nalini Singh

The “smoldering heat, epic romance, and awesome action” of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as two Arrows find themselves caught in a chilling conspiracy that spans all three races…

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.

A new enemy makes themselves known right from the start when Aden and Zaira, two incredibly strong Arrows, are captured and have devices implanted in their brains effectively cutting them off from the PsyNet and any help. They manage to escape, but it’s a life threatening journey that has their path crossing with a remote Changeling group. Aden and Zaira have a lot to focus on – trying to put a face and name to the new threat that is targeting not only the Arrows, but the changelings and other groups trying to cause fighting between them. In addition to that, they’re also trying to create a new life for all Arrows and if that’s not enough, they’re trying to figure out their own relationship and emotions, both things so incredibly new and unknown for all Arrows.

Ah, the Arrows. This very tough, almost a last line of defense group of fighters who were created from a young age to be completely Silent, showing zero emotion and to be the ultimate fighters and killers. With Silence gone and emotion finding its way back into people’s lives, the Arrows aren’t adjusting well. Those who have been Arrows for years may be beyond being rehabbed. The young have a better chance but need a strong leader. Enter Aden, the man who’s going to lead this group into a new way of life, a better way in his mind. He needs help and it comes in many forms. The Es are still present, many are partnered with an Arrow to help ease them into this non-Silent world. He has help from the Changelings in showing the children how to interact together like normal kids. It’s heartbreaking to see these children be so nervous about a simple thing like a hug and having Aden lead by example and give comfort to those who need it is the role model they need . Aden is so focused on everything else around him, he needs someone to take care of him – enter Zaira.

Zaira, to say she had a traumatic past, would be the understatement of the year. She’s incredibly powerful and her parents made sure to beat her completely down when she was a young girl. They abused her until she finally snapped and at the age of seven she killed both her parents in a red haze of rage. To this day, Zaira is still afraid of completely losing herself to that rage that still lives inside her. She’s managed to stuff it deep down, but with the fall of Silence and emotions becoming so very real, she’s afraid that she’ll hurt those she cares about most and that one person to her is Aden. When she was young, he was the one young boy who gave her hope. He was the only one who ever showed her any kindness and from that point on to Zaira, he was hers. She’s so very possessive of him, but in a way that made me feel for her and for everything she’s gone through. Aden wants Zaira by his side and as his mate, but Zaira resists, not sure that she can be the person Aden needs.

Personally, I’m always more drawn to the Changeling stories in this series. There’s something so fun and sweet about seeing the Changelings come together, play together and interact. They are FULL of emotion. So to have a love story about two Arrows who are just now learning about love and dealing with all these feelings that they’re not too sure about, well, I was the one who wasn’t too sure about it to be honest. Aden and Zaira don’t have an ‘in your face’ romance. They don’t steam up the pages and my first thought of their love scenes together definitely wouldn’t be to describe them as sexy, but there was just something about these two people that got me and that worked so well. I really loved how Zaira was the one who took her job of looking after Aden so seriously. She loves him in her own way, and even though she warns him time and again about her and how she’ll act around him (possessive to a high degree!), he wants her completely and when she finally lets him completely in, it’s worth the entire build up.

My favorite storyline outside of seeing Aden and Zaira’s relationship unfold was the building of the Arrows new community. I loved seeing Aden and Zaira interact with the young Arrows and the young Changelings. It’s sweet to see these two people get more comfortable in their roles as leaders and do what their people need them to do. Whether it’s making the tough decisions for their people in the public eye or giving a simple hug or word of encouragement to someone who needs it, Aden and Zaira both lead the charge for their people and I loved seeing them do it side by side.

There’s a part of me that hopes the next book takes us back to one of Changeling packs, I miss the feel of those stories a little bit. They’re what drew me into this series to begin with. But I did enjoy getting to know much more about the Arrows, and especially Aden and Zaira. Two people who meant so much to each other years ago and were able to find hope and happiness together.

Rating: B

Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Berkley
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Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

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