The Young and the Submissive(The Dom of Her Life #2) by Shayla Black, Jenna Jacob and Isabella LaPearl

Book Description:

Published: October 29, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

Raine Kendall has everything a woman could want…almost. Sexy, tender Dom Liam O’Neill is her knight in shining armor, but Raine is constantly pinching herself. Is he too good to be true or is this growing connection one that could last a lifetime? She’s constantly torn by her abiding feelings for her commanding boss, Macen “Hammer” Hammerman, especially in the wake the mind-blowing night he cast aside the barriers between them and ravaged every inch of her body.

Hammer, Liam’s former best friend, can’t stop coveting Raine. But Liam is determined to hold and guide the woman he loves and see if she can be the submissive of his dreams. However, he’s finding that her trust is hard won and he needs a bloody crowbar to pry open her scarred soul. So he risks everything to win her once and for all. But once he’s put his daring plan in motion, will it cost Liam his heart if he loses Raine to Hammer for good?

Review –

WARNING:  This book has a menage m/m/f and explicit sex and BDSM.

I read the first book in The Doms of Her Life series in 2016. See https://kathysbookbag.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/one-dom-to-love-the-doms-of-her-life-1-by-shayla-blackjenna-jacob-isabella-lapearl/

I never got around to read the others so I looked on Audible and they are included in the Romance Package, which I have so I thought I’d try the next book in line.

This book continues the story of Raine, Macen and Liam.  As the prior book ended, the two men were engaged in a competition to win the woman they both love.  In this book, Liam realizes that he is not making progress with Raine’s submission.  As he learns more about her past, he recognizes that he alone will not be able to heal Raine.  When he and Macen put aside their differences to help Raine, Liam can’t help but fear that he might help Raine, but lose her.

These characters are beginning to reveal themselves to one another.  Secrets and pain are shared and thus the beginnings of what might be a strong stable relationship is being developed.

Raine does get on my nerves at times, she seems so whiney  but maybe it is just the narrator. I am definitely Team Liam but I’m afraid his gentleness could be his undoing.

I love this series!

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The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Book Description:

Published: January 2, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Review –

The title character, Anna Fox, is thirty-eight  and lives alone in a costly house in uptown Manhattan. We soon learn why she is so often peering out her window. She is agoraphobic and has not left home in nearly a year, but she delights in spying on her neighbors. Otherwise, Anna drinks a LOT of wine, mostly Merlot, and watches countless black-and-white movie classics — “Gaslight,” “Rebecca,” “Strangers on a Train” and “Spellbound” are among her favorites.

Anna’s husband has left her and taken their 8-year-old daughter with him. She talks to them by phone and vainly begs him to return. She’s a child psychologist and still advises a few patients by email, but mostly she is alone with her wine, her movies and her cat. She also has a tenant, a handsome carpenter who lives in her basement. His presence injects a bit of “will they or won’t they?” excitement into the story, but mostly she is content to spy on her neighbors.

Then, Ethan Russell, a boy of 16 who lives across the street, arrives bearing a gift from his mother. He is a good-looking, friendly lad: “He looks like a boy I once knew, once kissed — summer camp in Maine, a quarter century ago. I like him.” Anna meets Ethan’s parents, Paul and Jane, and Finn’s plot kicks in.

The Russells are a troubled family. Ethan hints that his father is violent toward his wife and son. Anna uses her binoculars to learn more, and one day sees what she believes is an act of violence. She calls the police, who investigate and find no problem. They think Anna’s wine consumption — two or three bottles a day — along with the many prescription drugs she consumes, have impaired her judgment. (Anna cherishes George Bernard Shaw’s quip that alcohol is the “anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.”) She continues to spy on the Russells, and dark deeds soon unfold.

Although Finn’s plot must not be revealed, it’s fair to say that his characters are rarely who or what they first appear to be. And that his story ends with a series of mind-boggling surprises. The Woman in the Window is first-rate entertainment that is finally a moving portrait of a woman fighting to preserve her sanity

I  only gave it four stars because it was slow in places and almost drove me to start drinking Merlot!!!!

End of Watch (Bill Hodges Trilogy #3) by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: June 7, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The spectacular finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers—In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.

Review –

After finding out that Holly Gibney, a character from the Bill Hodges Trilogy was in the Outsider, I remembered that I had not read/listened to the third and final book in the series. Upon completion of the Outsider I found End of Watch on Overdrive and quickly devoured it.

It starts up where book two ended (I love it when authors do that!).

“It’s always darkest before the dawn,” King cheerfully reminds us at the very outset of this work of mayhem and murder, closing a trilogy devoted to retired detective Bill Hodges and investigative partner Holly Gibney. Yes, it is, and “darker than a woodchuck’s asshole,” too, reminding us that we’re in King’s New England, where weird things are always happening. Bill—well, his real first name is Kermit—has a doozy of a case from the very start: those weird things leapfrog back to the first volume, to a time, seven years before the present, when the perp of the so-called Mercedes Massacre drifted off into comaland. Throughout the trilogy, King has both honored and toyed with the conventions of hard-boiled crime fiction, and it seemed as if he’d be staking out that genre as his own; now, though, he steers back into the realm of horror that for sure belongs to him, for the baddie, Brady Hartsfield, who had merely been an incest-committing mass murderer before, has now acquired psychic powers and is experimenting merrily with ways to convince the innocent to kill themselves—and perhaps worse. Having lost some mobility, Brady is deeply ticked off—and, as King writes, “Being in a situation like that, who wouldn’t want to kill a bunch of people?” Right, and it’s up to Kermit/Bill and Holly to stop “Z-Boy,” as he’s now calling himself, from further mischief, very much more easily said than done. Suffice it to say that heavy machinery—having been run over, King hates cars, and having grown up when he did, he doesn’t have much use for gizmo technology, either—figures into both the crime and its cure, and suffice it to say that both are exceedingly messy.” Kirkus Reviews

I loved this book and the series and highly recommend it!

The Outsider by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: May 22, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

Review –

Mr. King, the Master of Horror, has done it again!

Those who’ve read a good doppelgänger or evil twin novel, might think that they have The Outsider all figured out just a few chapters in. But also, whoever has read Stephen King knows that things usually aren’t that simple.

Let’s start from the beginning. Terry Maitland, a much-loved Little League coach and all-around perfect father, husband and neighbor is accused of committing a heinous and unspeakable crime. An eleven year old boy has been found murdered and violated in a local town park, and all evidence in form of fingerprints and eyewitnesses point to Maitland as the murderer.

But there’s one catch: Maitland was out-of-town that day and security cameras confirm his presence in a massively attended event outside of town. How could he be in two places at once? Has Maitland found a way to commit the perfect murder? Or could he be innocent and the real murderer still remains walking the streets?

As the truth of Maitland’s guilt or innocence becomes blurred by the impossible and the improbable, a charismatic and esteemed character from King’s Mr. Mercedes trilogy makes an important appearance, (applause, applause, applause)turning the case and all the characters in The Outsider in a whole different direction which is not totally or completely unexpected.

There most definitely exists a boogeyman in The Outsider, but King makes it difficult to unveil. By mixing a collection of frightening old wives’ tales and word-of-mouth legends from different cultures and civilizations, King has giving us the ultimate monster for these very frightening times. One that digs into subconscious fears and well-kept secrets, which makes everything much too real.

Fantastic read/listen!!!!!!

Vicious (Sinners of Saint #1) by L J Shen

Book Description:

Published: December 27, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Emilia

They say love and hate are the same feelings experienced under different circumstances, and it’s true.The man who comes to me in my dreams also haunts me in my nightmares. He is a brilliant lawyer. A skilled criminal. A beautiful liar. A bully and a savior, a monster and a lover.

Ten years ago, he made me run away from the small town where we lived. Now, he came for me in New York, and he isn’t leaving until he takes me with him.

Vicious

She is a starving artist. Pretty and evasive like cherry blossom. Ten years ago, she barged into my life unannounced and turned everything upside down. She paid the price.

Emilia LeBlanc is completely off-limits, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. The woman who knows my darkest secret, and the daughter of the cheap Help we hired to take care of our estate. That should deter me from chasing her, but it doesn’t. So she hates me. Big fucking deal. She better get used to me.

Review –

I always love a good “love/hate” relationship in my books and this one has it in spades !!!

Barron Spencer, more commonly known as Vicious, is a great anti-hero.  HE IS NOT A NICE MAN.  He’s not a good guy in disguise, he’s never redeemed, and he’s never apologetic for the cruel things he does, the cruelest of which is to Emilia, the heroine.

The story starts in the past.  Emilia is the daughter of ‘the help’ who looks after the home Vicious lives in.  She overhears a conversation he is having with someone and from that moment on he is determined to get rid of her.  He’s afraid she heard something he didn’t want her to know.  There is another issue, though, and that is that Vicious is attracted to her.  They are in the same grade at high school.  But when she starts dating one of his good friends, that’s it, he blackmails her into leaving her home, her family, and everything she loves.

The story picks up years later when Vicious runs into her at a bar she’s waitressing at and he decides he’s going to meddle in her life again and then sets about it.  He makes her an offer she can’t refuse, working for him, and he proceeds to run her life.  The reason Vicious has pulled her back into his web is to use her in a revenge plot.  The only reason Emilia allows it is that she has always had feelings for Vicious and sees a side to him that he hides from the rest of the world.  Since the story is told in first person in alternate POV, we get to see the same glimpses Emilia does.

I found this book a very compelling read, though not the easiest  at times. Although Vicious has no real redeeming qualities, Emilia sees him for exactly who and what he is.  She doesn’t connect the dots until later, but goes into the relationship with both eyes wide open and prepared for heartbreak.  I like her as a heroine, I really do.  She’s been through fire because of Vicious and has come out very much stronger because of it.  I give huge kudos to the author for writing such a controversial yet gripping male protagonist.

 

 

 

Stinger by Mia Sheridan

Book Description:

Published: September 23, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

Grace Hamilton was the girl with a plan. She knew exactly where her life was going and prided herself on always achieving her goals. It was who she was, and how she lived her life. She never stepped outside the lines, and never considered what she might desire and whom she was actually trying so hard to please. Until him . . .

Carson Stinger was a man who didn’t play by any rules except his own. Working in the adult entertainment industry, he didn’t care what others thought, and took each day as it came, no direction, no plan. He knew what women wanted from him and believed it was all he had to offer. Until her . . .

When circumstances forced them to spend several hours together, they walked away changed. But for two people who never should have meshed, overcoming the reality of their vastly different lives wasn’t possible. At least not yet . . .

THIS IS A STANDALONE SIGN OF LOVE NOVEL, INSPIRED BY SCORPIO. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Review –

This was my first reading by this author and she  weaves a wonderful story of two polar-opposite people, who are in the wrong place at the wrong time or, maybe, the right place at the right time. It all depends on how you look at it. Porn Star meets Law Student. Definitely not something I would normally be drawn to, but how about ex-porn star turned Navy SEAL meets law student, turned D.A., now there’s a story!

The story itself spans years, but we keep tabs on both players and what is going on in their lives. I absolutely love the romantic scenes and the shift from sex to love. Carson and Grace are a perfect couple, even if it takes a five years to figure it out. The bond that they created years before shifted how they saw themselves and the choices that they made. All because of one weekend. LOVED IT!

 

Unmasked Volume Three (Unmasked #3) by Cassia Leo

Book Description:

Published: August 15, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

My entire life has been unmasked.

Everything I thought to be true has been called into question.

Whom do I trust? What do I believe?

With two men promising to keep me safe and one promising to give me my life back, which path do I choose?

Masked or unmasked?

Review –

Volume Three opens with Daimon showing Alex that he is alive, that he still loves her, and he knows that she is carrying their baby. Daimon tries to tell her the more of her past and the truth about her parents and the prince and princess. Daimon tells her that Nick is a bounty hunter but Alex does not believe him until things start to fall into place.

Nick and Alex are on a boat racing to get to the plane to take her to meet her parents. But Nick slips up and calls her Alex. Can someone please tell me if that was a flaw on the writers part because I remember Nick telling Alex that he knows her name is not Alyssa and is Alex and that her parents are the prince and princess. So my question is even though he continued to call her Alyssa how was that a slip REALLY. I think Alex confirmed the information when she agreed to meet her “parents”.

That was just one thing that bothered me in this installment. The rest are too numerous to mention, surficce it to say, I’m glad I’m done with this series.

 

Unmasked, Volume Two (Unmasked #2) by Cassia Leo

Book Description:

Published: June 25, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

I left my former life – and my mask – behind.

Running from a past where I was born unloved. A past where I was betrayed by love.

Running from an organization with limitless power and stealth. Running for my life.

I never expected to find love on the run. Not in a tiny seaside town on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Not without my mask.

But it seems as if my sad story is being rewritten with someone else’s pen. But whose pen is it?

This question haunts me day and night. And I get my answer on a perfectly decadent evening. When I come home to find my bedroom perfumed with the scent of death.

He’s here.

Review –

Like the first book this one is all over the place and a little difficult to follow but hang in there, answers start to come when the book changes to Diamon’s point of view and  Alex’s world starts to turn upside down!

Alex is now going by the alias Alyssa, hiding out in the Canary Islands, trying to figure out her past. Diamon led her to believe she is the kidnapped daughter of the Princess of Monaco – so ridiculous, but could Diamon be telling the truth and she killed him anyway? Who exactly were her parents then? Now she has time to think and  isn’t one hundred percent sure she killed Diamon.

She is incredibly suspicious of everyone, especially Nicholas, the beautiful Spanish man who befriends Alex. I think since Alex was locked in her basement as a girl, then trapped in her apartment as a young woman, her senses are heightened. She can smell Diamon in her house and on her clothes and it turns her on completely! God knows Nicholas doesn’t do anything for her. Alex’s world will never be the same – her body is changing, she is out in the open without her thick mask of makeup, & her feelings about Diamon are torn – she called him “my protector & my enemy.”

I didn’t like this installment nearly as much as I did the first and wasn’t sure if I’d finish the series, but WTH, I might as well.

 

 

The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson

Book Description:

Published: January 3, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

In December 2017 the famous porn star August Ames committed suicide in a park in the Conejo Valley. It happened a day after she’d been the victim of a pile-on, via Twitter, by fellow porn professionals – punishment for her tweeting something deemed homophobic.

A month later, August’s husband, Kevin, connected with Jon Ronson to tell the story of how Twitter bullying killed his wife. What neither Kevin nor Ronson realized was that Ronson would soon hear rumors and secrets hinting at a very different story – something mysterious and unexpected and terrible.

In The Last Days of August, Ronson unravels the never-before-told story of what caused this beloved 23-year-old actress’ untimely death.

Review –

Until Ronson, a Welsh author, starts digging, the popular theory surrounding Ames’ suicide is that she died in response to being dragged on Twitter after making homophobic comments.

Ronson delves into these comments, gradually revealing what was said, who @’d whom, and whether Ames even saw the most vicious tweets before she died. Ames’ widower Kevin Moore has some cockamamie reasoning for why he doesn’t think the tweets were homophobic (they were), but that’s not the real issue in the podcast.

The real issue appears at the first episode’s end, when Ronson drops an interview with Ames’ friend and fellow porn actress Emma Hix. Hix says Moore had asked her to “hold a lot of things in” and not expose Ames’ “dirty little secrets.” And we’re off to the races! Except that Ronson opens the next episode with an attempt to contextualize the blood-chilling audio—deus ex machina-style—from his perspective at the end of the podcast’s investigation phase, 10 months in the future: “This will not turn out to be a murder mystery,” he says. I think that may be a big reason we all like Ronson so much—he’s got one hell of a story to tell us, but he doesn’t want to unfairly smear Moore as a murderer, in case you don’t finish all seven episodes.

The twists and turns of The Last Days of August exhausted me. Ronson runs back and forth between subjects like a reality show producer; Moore won’t let Ames hang out with her friends, Moore says Ames’ friends are pressuring her to do drugs, and so on. It feels like nothing solid ever comes out of the interviews. I can’t promise you’ll finish August feeling like a great veil has been yanked back from what Ames was thinking or what truly happened to her. But August is a fascinating show that manages something truly curious: It presents people from the porn industry quite nakedly, and you never even see them.

At the end of this sad tale nothing has been solved. No one truly knows by August Ames decided to hang herself on a stormy night in December of 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above, August Ames with husband, Kevin Moore in 2016.

Unmasked, Volume One (Unmasked #1) by Cassia Leo

Book Description:

Published: June 10, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

I was born into this world unwanted.

I spent the first hours of my life unloved.

I spent the first eighteen years of my life with the parents who tried to shelter me from the harsh reality of my existence.

But you can’t un-write a sad story if the ending is literally written all over your face.

So I moved out and now I hide. I have a night job that pays the bills. Every night, I put on my mask and walk to work.

Then one night, I hear and see something that will change my purpose in life… forever: a murder that will bring him to me.

He says he wants to protect me. And, through a series of events I can’t fully make sense of, I find myself believing him.

But our nightly visits are always cloaked in darkness. I don’t know his face and he will never know mine.

I was born into this world unwanted. I will leave this world unmasked.

Review –

WTH !!!

This has to be the strangest book that I have listened/read in a very long time, I mean my mouth was agape at the end. I couldn’t believe it!  Still can’t.

This series has three parts or volumes and this first installment explores Alex’s past, the notion of beauty, the necessity of hiding, the consequences of secrets and betrayals. You can easily devour this first volume in one sitting  Enlivened by the author’s expert writing, you’ll be lured in by this sinister tale and fascinated by this 19-year-old girl whose actions are so unexpected that it keeps you guessing at what will surprise you next. Certainly the end was shocking in more ways than one!

A chilling mystery where desire, deception, secrets and betrayal mix in a deadly combination that leaves you wanting more.

Five stars.