Until You (Fall Away #1.5) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: February 18, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

Have you ever been so angry that hitting things felt good? Or so numb that you actually felt high? The past few years have been like that for me. Traveling between fury and indifference with no stops in between.

Some people hate me for it, while others are scared of me. But none of them can hurt me, because I don’t care about anything or anyone.

Except Tatum.

I love her so much that I hate her. We used to be friends, but I found out that I couldn’t trust her or anyone else.

So I hurt her. I pushed her away.

But I still need her. The sight of her centers me, and I can pool all of my anger into her. Engaging her, challenging her, bullying her…they are my food, my air, and the last part of me that feels anything human.

But she left. She went to France for a year, and came back a different girl.

Now, when I push, she pushes back.

Review –

If you’re expecting Until You to just be a retelling of Bully in Jared’s POV, well, you’re in for a lovely surprise. Until You has so much more than what happens in Bully, and the timeline is longer. We get more of the year that Tate left for Europe (when Jared is totally moping about how Tate won’t be there for him to bully), more flashbacks of Jared and Tate’s childhood , and  more of what happens after the end of Bully. And Penelope Douglas writes this all with Jared’s no nonsense, totally badass POV. 

What is it with boys who are totally hot but complete jerks? And WHY do I still keep on loving them? Maybe it’s the sweet side that they show only to the women they love, or maybe it’s the whole redemption thing, but whatever reason it is, I can’t stop reading about them! And Jared is probably my all-time favorite jerk. He’s the jerk of my dreams. The lovable jerk. Sometimes he takes it too far, but whenever that happens, we know that he feels guilty (even though he tries to be badass and not show it). 

We get to see how devastated Jared felt when he came home from his father’s, and how he kept spiraling downward, and pushing Tate away. But then, when Tate comes back, everything changes for him. It’s not so easy to bully her or to bottle up his feelings for her. Because no matter how many times Jared tries to push Tate away, she is always in his heart. And when he’s finally done with the bullying… He turns on the charm because he knows Tate can’t resist him, just like he can’t resist her, and the two of them together are explosive.

Jared’s lantern tattoo!!  The sweetest thing I’ve ever read. Until You is perfect. Reading from Jared’s POV about how much he loves Tate, and how he tries to redeem himself is just the best thing ever. Penelope Douglas is a goddess for creating one of my favorite book boyfriends.

Fantastic read!

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Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar

Book Description:

Published: May 2, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Pallavi is an aspiring writer living in California. Her mother, Usha, is thousands of miles away in Delhi – and obsessed with finding her daughter a husband.

In Madhuri Shekar’s ingenious Evil Eye, hilarious back-and-forth via phone and social media takes a shocking, supernatural twist when Pallavi meets the perfect man – leading to a climactic showdown that will leave listeners on the edges of their seats.

Review –

“Usha is convinced that the Evil Eye, a curse that brings continuous misfortune, was cast upon her daughter, Pallavi, in the womb. What else could have possibly left her driven, career-oriented daughter edging closer and closer to 30 without a prospective husband? Determined to set Pallavi on the right path, Usha arranges date after date with potential suitors—but after yet another setup fails, it seems her efforts are proving fruitless. But in an unexpected turn of events, Pallavi becomes her own matchmaker when she meets—and quickly falls for—Sandeep, a young Indian-American entrepreneur. And though she expects her mother will be elated with her finally finding a man, Pallavi is distraught and confused to find her mother growing increasingly suspicious of Sandeep’s motives…and his true identity.

Told through a series of phone calls and voicemails, this Audible Original penned by award-winning rising star playwright Madhuri Shekar transitions seamlessly from a light-hearted family dramedy to an unexpectedly supernatural thriller. With an endearing cast of well-rounded characters, sharp, natural dialogue, and a shocking edge-of-your-seat climax, Evil Eye is a can’t-miss tale about cultural miscommunications, family secrets, and the lingering echoes of trauma.

Please note: This audio contains strong language, distressing situations, and descriptions of abuse and violence that some listeners may find upsetting. Discretion is advised.” Audible Originals

Fantastic short story that will keep you captivated from beginning to end.

 

The Next Girl (Detective Gina Harte #1) by Carla Kovach

Book Description:

Published: April 2, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong.

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again …

Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results.

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive.

Review –

Four years ago, wife and mother Deborah Jenkins disappeared without a trace. The police did everything possible to find her but it was all to no avail. Her husband, mother, and two young children have all come to terms with her probable death, and although it hasn’t always been easy, each of them has begun to figure out what life will look like without Deborah there. And then, an abandoned infant is found outside a nearby library, an infant who’s DNA matches Deborah’s, and suddenly, the investigation into Deborah’s disappearance is active once more.

Detective Gina Harte remembers the Jenkins case well. She wasn’t the lead investigator back then, but she’s familiar with the investigation nonetheless, and now that Deborah’s case is in the forefront of everyone’s minds again, she’s determined to reunite the woman with her family, no matter what it takes. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. The original detectives did their job thoroughly, and in spite Gina’s efforts to find something they missed, nothing jumps out at her. But Gina knows that Deborah is out there somewhere, most likely the victim of unimaginable horrors. After all, how else could she have given birth to the baby girl who was left outside the library?

Gina would love to devote all her attention to the Jenkins case, but her personal life is pretty messy. Her adult daughter is in the process of planning a memorial celebration for her late father, a man who had once turned Gina’s very existence into a living nightmare. Gina doesn’t want to participate in the celebration, but neither does she want to ruin her daughter’s memories of her father, so she keeps the truth to herself, something which pushes the two women further apart. And, as if all that isn’t enough, Gina is sleeping with one of her direct superiors. Neither of them would go so far as to call what they have an actual relationship, but they’re both aware it’s very much against the rules, so they’ve been meeting in secret for the past several months.

The story is told from four different points of view. Most of our time is spent with Gina, but we also see things from the perspectives of Deborah, her husband Luke, and Deborah’s captor. For the most part, this narrative style works well, although spending a significant time in Deborah’s head took a little bit away from the mystery itself. The identity of her captor isn’t revealed until the end of the story, but his motivation for abducting Deborah is laid out pretty early on. Fortunately, there were still a number of things to be discovered about Deborah’s ordeal, and Gina’s race to uncover the truth definitely kept me listening.

If violence against women is a trigger for you, you’re might not want to pick up this book. Deborah suffers horribly at the hands of her abductor, and the author goes into quite a bit of detail about what has been done to her over the years of her captivity. Plus, Gina’s former husband was terribly abusive, and she is still dealing with flashbacks and nightmares about the abuse.

I thoroughly enjoyed with book and look forward to reading the next one.

 

Owned ( Decadence After Dark #1) by M. Never

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

“I like you collared, baby. I like you naked, I like you mine.”

Ellie Stevens has lusted over Kayne Roberts since he first walked into the import/export company she works for a little over a year ago. As Expo’s most important client, Ellie has always kept a safe distance from the man with the majestic blue eyes – until temptation finally gets the better of her. Impulsively, Ellie invites Kayne to one of Expo’s infamous company parties her flamboyant boss is notorious for throwing. Unbeknownst to Ellie, the god in the Armani suit isn’t just the suave entrepreneur he portrays himself to be. Underneath the professional exterior is a man with a secret life, dark desires, and nefarious contacts.

In a hidden corner of a trendy New York City lounge, the spark kindling between the two of them ignites. Unable to resist the sinful attraction, Ellie agrees to leave with Kayne, believing she is finally bedding the man of her dreams. Little does she know when she walks out the door, she’s about to be OWNED.

***Content Warning***

Owned is a dark erotic romance. Please pay close attention to the use of the words dark, erotic, and romance. It has intense sexual situations, a Master/slave relationship, mild abuse, and some violence. Reader discretion is advised.

Review –

I read the Kindle version of this book in 2015 and I found it on Audible in their Romance Package so I decided to read (listen) to it a second time.

 What I really liked about this book compared to a lot of BDSM focused books is that Ellie’s had a thing for Kayne for awhile. You usually see it where the heroine is a little more reluctant to get into a relationship with the enigmatic businessman, but I felt Ellie was a little more of the kind of person  who knows what she likes, even if she’s a little too afraid to go get it at first. There’s reasons, and they make sense, but I just liked that she liked him!

And Kayne… he’s got more than enough secrets for the both of them. He’s holding back in a way, too. While Ellie is keeping a safe distance from Kayne for business reasons, he’s keeping his secrets for his own personal reasons. The contrast was a really interesting mix that I enjoyed. There’s a lot of reasons for them to not be together, but I still wanted them to come together.

And, oh boy, when they threw caution to the wind and went for it, it was smoldering! The sex scenes are intense. I loved the Master/slave aspect, too. It’s not something you really see in a lot of books, at least not to this level. I liked that this kind of shed light on a different side to BDSM than the usual, and while some parts left me feeling a little worried, I enjoyed reading it a lot.

As long as you know what you’re getting into, this is a great book. It’s got those mysteries and forbidden attractions that I can’t seem to get enough of, the steaming hot sex scenes that I want in almost all of my books, and watching the story and relationship unfold between Ellie and Kayne was really exciting. They’re a cute couple, despite being more than a little kinky, ha,I loved them!

Listening to the book was sooo much hotter than reading it. The narrators, Muffy Newtown and San Crowley, do a fantastic job and make it blistering hot!!!!

Please heed the above warning because there could be many triggers in this book/series.

Unattainable (Undeniable #3) by Madeline Sheehan

Book Description:

Published: September 20, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

Warning: This is not a virtuous and tender love story. It’s chaotic, ruthless, and tragic. This story takes love and kills its innocence, steals away the pure moments, and crushes the hearts of the broken. A story born in childhood, tying one girl to one boy, leads to a destructive path—that hurts more than it doesn’t, that shatters more than it heals—testing the love that binds the two through a lifetime.

Tegen Matthews is the daughter of Dorothy Kelley, a club whore in the Hell’s Horsemen. A plain little girl, Tegen falls into the gritty world of the motorcycle club. When she meets a sweet, caring boy, she embraces the warmth and affection he shows her. Cage West is the son of the president of the Hell’s Horsemen. Tall and blond with deep brown eyes, as he grows up Cage realizes the power of his dimpled smile and smooth drawl. With one chance encounter, Tegen becomes forever tied to Cage. Following is a wayward journey that is filled with regrets, mistakes, and heartache, pulling at the threads that hold them together. Cage and Tegen fight hard but love harder, and in the end, what matters is where the journey takes one girl and one boy, who have been twined with one another since the beginning.

This is Tegen and Cage’s story.

Love doesn’t erase a broken heart, and it sure doesn’t change people. But no matter how old, how flimsy, how frayed the rope of love is, it keeps you tethered to the people you love.

Review –

This series is not an easy one and it’s not for everyone. There’s rape, death, killing but there’s also love and laughter.  The Hell’s Horsemen are not good guys only to the eyes of the ones they know and love. We get the past, present and a glimpse into the future. How will the future go? Who knows and I’m not guessing cause I’d be wrong. Again.

A little insight to the characters…

Cage. We all know him as Deuce’s son and a man whore. You think you know him but you don’t. Changes are coming for him whether he’s ready or not.
Tegan. She’s a fire-breathing dragon who has huge balls. She lives in the past when the future is right in front of her.
Dirty. BE PREPARED. His story is NOT pretty. We get into his past and it’s brutal and ugly. He is the way he is because of it. You have to have an open mind with him. The way he thinks will gut you. His actions will slay you. His future…
Ellie. A beautiful flower that will show her beauty to the one who needs it most.
Deuce. G*d damn the man.

All the characters in the alphabet  are in the story. I’m not here to tell you when and where they pop up. You will be surprised and shocked. You will feel elation and sorrow. You will just FEEL. This is what an author should do. Make a reader step out of their comfort zone, put you in another persons shoe and make you think would you do anything different.

This is the best one yet. I found no fault in nothing and no one. The storyline was not what I expected. The characters are not what I thought them to be.The author takes us into a darker side of the Hell’s Horsemen but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. You will shed happy and sad tears so have tissues in handy. Keep an open mind with everything and everyone and you won’t be disappointed.

 

Living Without (Hawks MC Caroline Springs Charter #4) by Lila Rose

Book Description:

Published: October 26, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

For the past four years, Nary May’s heart belonged to Saxon “Vicious” Black. Despite the painful reality of unrequited love, her feelings never strayed, no matter what he did. But there comes a time when surviving means letting go.

What she never expected was to find herself fighting for her life and trying to survive a new form of torment threatening to swallow her whole.

Saxon was broken. Never feeling worthy, the last thing he ever wanted to do was taint the woman he loved. But it was easier to push and walk away than leave himself open for more heartache. However, when faced with the possibility of losing Nary to the monsters that invade her dreams, the time to run was over.

To save her means risking it all, but to continue living without his heart was no longer an option.

Review –

This book was recommended to me as being a dark and edgy MC themed romance so i HAD to give it a try.

Right away I knew this was not the usual MC story I was used to, because it takes place in Australia! I had no idea that there were MC club in Australia. On top of wrapping my head around that, there were the narrators-I was very disappointed. The female did okay but the male’s voice was too high-pitched that it made the biker’s dialogue almost comical. I was very distracted by the whole thing.

The story line was dark because there is sexual assault (sorry had to warn you), but it is not graphic or salacious at all. It will tug in heart strings.It was a great story for the characters of  Nary and Saxon..the only thing I would have liked to see was some counseling for Nary and Kelsey…you can’t go through something like that and not need some external support, but the story or Nary’s abduction, what she and Kelsey endured, the rescue, the retribution, the healing, and the resurrection was done very well by the writer. 

I will not be reading other books in this series.

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

Book Description:

Published: May 30, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Love. Lies. Murder. A lot can happen… COME SUNDOWN

Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…

But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?

As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together.

 

Review –

Nora Roberts always tells a good story that balances romance and suspense, but in this title, the narrative is deeper, the mystery is more layered, and with Alice, Roberts moves into another level of exploring physical and emotional trauma and the powerful healing power of family and love.

If you haven’t guessed-I’ve given this book five stars!  Once I started this book, it was very hard to stop listening, it was seventeen hours and seventeen minutes long, so I had to stop in order to keep up the appearance of do a little something around the house.

Over two decades ago, rebellious Alice Bodine ran away from her Montana home to make her fortune in Hollywood—only to head back three years later. But her return was derailed when she was captured and made prisoner by an off the grid religious fanatic. Flash to the present day, when the Bodine estate is a thriving dude ranch and luxury resort. Bodine Longbow, Alice’s niece, works hard ensuring that the day-to-day operations at the resort run smoothly, even as she comes face-to-face with her childhood crush, Callen Skinner, who has returned to Montana from California. As the attraction builds between Callen and Bodine, Alice miraculously escapes her captor and is welcomed back into the family fold. Her tale of abuse and torture at the hands of her captor coincides with the recent brutal murder of two young women. The suspense continues to rise as law enforcement searches for the killer and Alice’s kidnapper.

The combination of details of ranch/resort life, the strength of the women of the family, mixed with romance and mystery make this a five-star read, for sure.

Definitel   put this one on your TBR list!

Pennies (Dollar #1) by Pepper Winters

Book Description:

Published: July 18, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

“I’m not the hero in this story, girl. You’d do best to remember that.”

Once upon a time, I was an eighteen year old psychology student.
Now, I’m a man’s property.
Stolen and sold, I’ve been decorated in bruises since the day my world changed two years ago.
I suffer in silence, I crave freedom, but I never break.
I can’t.
Until he arrives.
Elder Prest, the only man to look at me and see me. The only man more ruthless than my owner.
He wants me for reasons I don’t understand.
He claims me for one night then leaves and never looks back.
Until he returns.
And life becomes much more complicated.

Review –

This story is told in multiple POVs, but is centered on the experiences of Tasmin, aka Pimlico. At eighteen, Tasmin has led a privileged and sheltered life. When she is taken from one of her mother’s formal functions, her existence as she knows it comes to an end. Tasmin becomes Pimlico, a sex slave.

Purchased by Alrik, a sadistic and cruel man who refers to himself as “Master A”, Pimlico lives in constant terror. She suffers unspeakable acts at the hands of Master A and his friends. He takes pride in his visciousness.

When Elder Prest sets eyes on Pimlico, he is equally intrigued and enraged. He finds himself having to fight back his urges to take her for himself, while also wanting to kill Alrik for his abuse of the slave girl. He’s no stranger to deviant acts, a notorious criminal himself, but something about Pimlico calls to him.

Pimlico, despite the horrors she’s endured, does not break. She is defiant to the end, even as she submits in calculated measures to survive. She does what she has to do to survive, but she will never give Master A what he wants most…her voice.

The more she remains silent the more vicious Alrik is to her. 

Elder comes and goes between dealings with Alrik and each time he leaves “Pim”  is beaten and subjected to horrible things because Alrik thinks she likes Elder more, DUH!!!!!! Elder isn’t the one beating her, now is he? His jealousy gets to the point that he and two of his goons are going to take her voice by cutting out her tongue and at the last minute Elder comes in and kills two and helps Pim kill Alrik and then he steals her for himself.

Though this book is VERY VERY dark most of the beatings are left to the readers imaginations and the sexual acts are implied. BUT, what a ride. After reading, I had to decompress by reading/listening to something of a different genre.

I do intend to read the rest of the series, because I’m now totally addicted to Elder Prest!

 

Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Review –

Last year I received this Post-It Note holder in a subscription box(I forget which one) but hadn’t read Caraval yet, so really didn’t appreciate it’s meaning until later.

 

The world of Caraval is one part amusement park, one part Venice, and one part game show, painted in all the colors of a gothic circus. Girls in gowns rustle their way down dark hallways, searching for clues that will win them a wish — but some girls have more need of wishes than others.

Scarlett has led a life made small by abuse. She and her sister Tella dwell in constant fear of their cruel and violent father. Tella beats against the bars of their golden cage, but Scarlett keeps the peace as best she can, desperate to protect them both. She has given up on her childhood dream of attending Caraval, a magical performance that blends theatre with an adventure game, resigning herself to an arranged marriage that will offer her — and Tella — a true escape from their father.

When an invitation arrives from Legend himself, the mastermind creator of Caraval, beckoning the sisters to a mysterious island and offering them a place in the game, Tella forces Scarlett to abandon her plans of calculated safety in favor of an adventure. But it soon becomes clear that Legend has other ideas. He steals Tella away and makes her the prize of Caraval, leaving Scarlett no choice but to win the game.

Scarlett knows that everything she experiences in Caraval is a part of the performance, but the line between fantasy and reality starts to blur, especially when it comes to Julian, a sailor boy who has joined the game. Like everyone she encounters in Caraval, he isn’t what he seems — and she can’t resist his help or his company. As the nights of the game progress, she sinks deeper and deeper into a story that grows ever darker, and gets further and further from the safe future that was almost within her grasp.

Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets. For you see, Caraval is the world of the game, which feels like a journey into a dark branch of Disneyland, where the animatronics have feelings and don’t like you very much, and the expensive cupcakes may have poison in them.

Loved this book and am looking forward to reading the next installment in the series, Legendary, which comes out in May of this year, because what appears to be a happy ending isn’t at all what it seems.

 

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Book Description:

Published:July 25, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Review –

Alice and Jake are on top of the world on their wedding day and then receive a strange gift and an invitation to join The Pact, a very private and exclusive organization which supposedly will help them maintain a healthy marriage.

They accept, and realize very shortly The Pact is an abusive,dangerous and maybe murderous cult-like club with no way out. Alice is accused of infractions and taken to a Pact prison facility and sentenced by a Pact judge to wear a neck brace-like contraption for the purpose of focusing more on her marriage and less on her job. Jake tries to seek answers from a woman he knew while in college but she seems afraid to talk to him. Later he is taken to the prison facility, has his head shaved, suffered electric shocks for hours and stripped naked and anchored between two large piece of plexiglass and rolled into the prison cafeteria for all to see. After several days he is allowed to go home.

Alice and Jake discuss how they can get out of the group and things come to a head when Alice is kidnapped and Jake has to travel to Ireland to find and talk to the founder of The Pact. This is does and without giving anything away, he find Alice is okay and then there is the ending.

There was two ways the book could have ended and I would have been alright with either one but I must admit the decision made by the couple surprised me.

Below is a list of a few of the rules provided in the Manual (required reading, in fact members were told to memorize it)

“The Manual,” a huge tome in tiny print containing regulations like those of Unit 3.12, Health and Fitness, which specifies that neither partner may gain more than 10 percent of what they weigh on their wedding day. Other rules require that couples exchange thoughtful gifts monthly, take a trip together once a quarter, always answer a spouse’s telephone call, and never, ever mention The Pact to anyone. Also mandatory is timely attendance at the group’s parties, meetings, and one-on-one sessions. “

Five stars!

The cover does bother me-not sure about the significance of the red tentacle looking thing.