Given (Highest Bidder #4) by Lauren Landish and Willow Winters

Book Description:

Published: March 3, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

I knew she’d ruin me. But I wanted her anyway.

I was born into wealth and my name comes with a reputation.
One I’ve upheld and leveraged for power.
Now everyone owes me and I plan to keep it that way.

Until she’s offered to me. My sweetheart. Only for a single month to repay a debt.
Her tempting curves call to me and beg me to risk it all.
I shouldn’t take her, I shouldn’t even consider his offer.

Women like her bring men to their knees.

But there’s something in her baby blues. They’re haunted by what lies behind them.
She sees through me, leaving me nowhere to hide.

I knew taking her would destroy me, but it only took one taste.

Now I’m addicted. And I’m not giving her back.

*Given is a full-length standalone DARK romance with an HEA, no cheating, and no cliffhanger.

Review –

While I like usually enjoy the writings of Lauren Landish, this one fell flat. It was very predicitable and totally unrealistic, especially when it came to Arianna’s injuries from the whipping Danny gave her. Supposedly it was done over three hours and when rescued Zander had his doctor stitch her up and that night she felt well enough to cuddle is bed ???!!!!! I DON’T THINK SO.

Given is the fourth book featuring the men of Club X, it is however the first I’ve read may go back for the others, if nothing else, to see if they are more realistic.

 

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Soulless (King #4) by T.M. Frazier

Book Description:

Published: February 23, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Soulless, is part two of Lawless.

The finale to Bear and Thia’s epic love story.

Review –

Do not read this as a stand alone. You simply must first read them in order: King ,Tyrant and Lawless.  Call it sage advice.  Call it a moral imperative.  Call it because-I’ve-read-them-so-I-know-what-I’m-talking-about-trust-me-on-this-one-eh?  Call it what you want but please do not attempt to start this series at Soulless.  There is a reveal so utterly game changing that you probably really, really want to know why your mind is blown away so righteously.  Me- I can barely see through the chunks of grey matter siding down my forehead and between my eyes for what it’s worth.

 Lawless, left us dangling for our lives at a cliffhanger that was equal parts beautiful and sad.  I hate cliffies, but Lawless was Bear’s story and there was no way I was passing that up so there I was dangling away until Soulless dropped into my lap.  The King series builds book upon book.  To care about Soulless, you first have to understand King.  The dark story of a man lost on his own dark path and the young woman he saves along the way.  He has two friends, Bear and Preppy and together they have a brotherhood forged in blood and loyalty.  King walks his path with Doe and they both make it out alive. Bear is just starting his own tumultuous journey and when a series of events tear him away from his MC and reunite him with young, troubled Thia, both of their lives hang in the balance.

Soulless is the culmination of carefully planted seeds and plot twists that make me mighty proud of author TM Frazier.  My chief complaint regarding the first three books has been that there is so much good, gritty, dark substance that I revel in, but then, there is always a departure where the envelope is pushed too far and I am jarred out of my sweet reading spot because something completely odd or non sequitur occurred.

 It happened in every book and I shook my fists to the heavens each time.  It was akin to drawing a weird, awkward line through a masterpiece.  Never enough to turn me completely off- but enough that it absolutely bears mentioning.  Nevertheless, King was powerful stuff and the break out star Preppy captured my heart in every way, even though he is the most foul mouthed hottie I have ever run across.  The quiet force in the King series is Bear.  Bear is the son of the most awful MC President you could fathom. In fact, imagine the most depraved club president you can, then imagine him ten times more brutal and conscious-less, and only then can you begin to scratch the surface that is Chop. Walking away from the MC is by blood or casket in this world, so Soulless begins and ends with the conflict between Bear and his evil incarnate father, Chop.

Thia is Bear’s heart beat.  Drawn to her years before and reunited when she needed him most, their connection is tangible and wild.  He knows little about love, but knows he wants to care for and protect Thia.  The daughter of a deranged mother and murdered family, Thia is also searching for a home- a place where she is loved and safe.  Bear’s in every way, their bond is rock solid and the catalyst to THE BIG REVEAL.  They fight for, along side and on the behalf of the other- equals in their own way.  Thia was no whimpering willy, and she was not ridiculously courageous either.  She was just your average broken woman, trying to keep all the pieces together.  I seldom disagreed with her actions and I enjoyed her point of view.  Bear’s point  of view was so full of emotion and longing that I wanted to beat his father bloody for everything he did to ruin Bear.

It is a miracle that Bear survived his old man and was remotely salvageable as a man.  It is astonishing that these two people with royally messed up backgrounds survived at all.  Good thing they did, because their sexual chemistry is off the charts.

The best parts of Soulless lends itself to epic spoilers that I don’t dare ruin for readers.  There is a new female character that I am convinced will be prominent in the next book.  I’d like her to be a surprise, but she is a savage and the hint of her background that we do receive begs for more page time in the future!  Books 1-3 are all fast reads, so the journey to Soulless will pack a punch – but will be quick and worthwhile.  As expected, T.M Frazier did not break her pattern of “wait – what?” scenes and I spent about twenty-five pages more perturbed than I have ever been in my life.  But then I arrived at 99%- the epilogue… and all was forgiven. The who, what, where, and how- meaningless. 

Spoiling an ounce of Soulless would be such a disservice, the best I am willing to do is give you a warning.  This is a violent series and both primary couple’s road to their HEA’s are paved in blood and bones.  It is dark, but deliciously so.  You will laugh, cry, cringe and have your mind blown, so if you are game, give it a chance.  If you are looking for well dressed, polite young men courting their crushes with sweet tea and cupcakes, this is not the series for you.  The only character in this series who dressed well at all wore a bow tie, pressed shirt and slacks- and was perhaps the most visceral dangerous of them all.

Thank you TM Frazier for another mind-blowing experience.  Five stars!!!!!!!!

The Highway (The Highway Quartet #2)

Book Description:

Published: July 30, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When two sisters set out across a remote stretch of Montana road to visit their friend, little do they know it will be the last time anyone might ever hear from them again. The girls–and their car–simply vanish. Former police investigator Cody Hoyt has just lost his job and has fallen off the wagon after a long stretch of sobriety. Convinced by his son and his former rookie partner, Cassie Dewell, he begins the drive south to the girls’ last known location. As Cody makes his way to the lonely stretch of Montana highway where they went missing, Cassie discovers that Gracie and Danielle Sullivan aren’t the first girls who have disappeared in this area. This majestic landscape is the hunting ground for a killer whose viciousness is outmatched only by his intelligence. And he might not be working alone. Time is running out for Gracie and Danielle…Can Cassie overcome her doubts and lack of experience and use her innate skill? Can Cody Hoyt battle his own demons and find this killer before another victim vanishes on the highway?

Review –

I’m sure I was not the only reader/listener that exclaimed WTF  when a six of the way through this book Cody Hoyt was killed off. (Sorry for the spoiler but I am pissed!) 

Here I am reading The Cody Hoyt Series, Book Two and BAM he is shot more than once in the face, at close range, and buried  his truck and all. I had to stop listening for several hours because I was in total disbelief. Surely the author, made a mistake, maybe it’s a dream sequence, like in Dallas, but no, it was for real.

The series has since been renamed The Highway Quartet, but killing off Cody killed more than just his character. It meant that his ex-wife, Jennie, and his son, Justin, won’t be in future books. Nor will Gracie and Danielle Sullivan and their  divorced parents because there were all part of Cody’s world.

I went on the finish listening to the book and one of the bad guys was caught (no spoilers here-but Cassie, Cody’s partner, learned well from him) but the main baddie, The Lizard King (a trucker who preys on women and rapes, tortures and kills them) gets away.

There are two more books in the series and I will read/listen to them but they just won’t hold the same appeal to me since Cody will be missing.

Still can’t get over why C. J. Box would kill him off!!!!!!!!!

 

 

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.

Heartsick (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #1) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: September 4, 2007

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him she eventually saved his physical life by calling 911 and turning herself in, but Archie’s existence has been fundamentally ruined. Although Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, Archie is in a prison of another kind—addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie’s a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she’s right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth—he can’t stay away.
When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. Either way, Heartsick makes for one of the most extraordinary suspense debuts in recent memory.
Review –
This story is very sick and twisted, which makes or an EXCELLENT read.
Archie Sheridan is on so many pills for the pain and suffering of being kidnapped and tortured for ten days (she set a trap for him and Gretchen drove nails into Archie’s ribs, removed his spleen while he was awake, feed him handfuls of pills, carved on his torso and made him drink drain cleaner, just to name of few of her tricks and against rather steep odds Archie fell madly in love with her) by the beautiful serial killer, Gretchen Lowell but he has been called back from medical leave to lead a new task force and try to catch a new serial killer, dubbed the After School Strangler. Add in Susan Ward, whose father died when she was 14.  She’s a  pink haired reporter doing a piece on Archie, since he is a celebrity of sorts and as a freshman at Cleveland High, where one of the recent victims attended school, she may or may not have had an inappropriate sexual relationship with her drama teacher. Archie realizes almost too late that Gretchen has actually been setting her own trap, and Susan is the intended victim.
I won’t say who the After School Strangler turns out to be but as the story progresses it’s not hard to predict the outcome and that’s okay because there’s MUCH more to the book than the solving of the current crime. The characters run the show in Heartsick, which refers to the heart carved on Archie’s chest by Gretchen, and it’s much more satisfying to learn what happens to them AFTER the crime has been solved. 
Archie decides to quit seeing Gretchen on Sundays and try to reunite with his family and Susan tries to be a better reporter.
Fans of the serial killer genre, crime/mystery fiction readers and anyone who appreciates a first-rate suspense thriller are gonna eat this book up and since Heartsick is just the first in a whole series of Gretchen Lowell/Archie Sheridan novels, the fun’s just getting started.  
I have already started the second in the series called Sweetheart and can’t wait to see what Gretchen has up her sleeve for Archie this time around.
 Five stars!!!!!

 

Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

Book Description:

Published: September 15, 2017

Format: E-Book

One girl disappeared. After fifteen years, her cold lifeless body was found on the damp forest floor. Not an inch of her was unmarked by the horrors she endured. Alone, malnourished, abused in horrific ways; this was how she died.

One girl was found walking the streets, covered in dirt and scars. She had no memory of who she was, where she came from, or what happened to her. Even though the marks on her body attested to years of heinous abuse, her strength shone through at every turn.

Revenge and justice were sworn.

Years of searching brought up nothing but dead ends. Detective Niko James was too late to save his childhood friend, but he vows not to let down another.

The clock is ticking and the trail is pitch dark.

Review –
PitchDark is a very dark and gritty thriller, one that was difficult to read at times.  It’s intense, heartbreaking, edgy, and raw.  So be aware, it’s very explicit with the details of  child abuse.
It’s been fifteen years since Niko’s childhood friend, Aislin, has disappeared and in his heart he knew she was abducted while his parents and the police just thought she ran off.
A body is found in the woods covered with scars, old and new, and open sores, cuts, scrapes, and old and new bruises. She is identified as Aislin. Niko is heart-broken and angry because he hadn’t rescued her from such torture.
Later a girl is found walking the streets, barefoot and with similar markings on her body as the dead girl and she has no memory of who she is or her previous life.
While Niko helps to find out who this girl is and who did this to her (because he’s positive the same individual killed Aislin)he begins to get close to her and develops feelings he knows he shouldn’t.
I’m not going much further with the story because it would be too easy to include spoilers. Just surface it to say that it’s well written with engaging characters. Sometimes it seems draw out and repetitive but even that didn’t take away from the storyline although because of that I only gave it four and a half stars.
Excellent who-dun-it but there are many triggers and it’s not a romance so if you are easily disgusted and traumatized; stay away from this book!

Redemption Road by John Hart

Book Description:

Published: May 3, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Imagine:

A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free. But for how long?

And deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, the unthinkable has just happened…

This is a town on the brink. This is a road with no mercy.

After five years, John Hart returns with Redemption Road, his most powerful story yet.

Review –

This book is set in a  small city in North Carolina. The protagonist is police detective Elizabeth Black, who has been put on suspension because she appears to have used excessive force — 18 bullets — in killing two men in the basement where they were raping and torturing an 18-year-old girl. “Hero Cop or Angel of Death?” a newspaper headline asks.

Adrian Wall, a fellow officer whom she once idolized but who was convicted of murdering a woman in a ritualized way,  finishes serving his time and arrives back in town, and the killer strikes again. Besides sexual chemistry, Liz and Adrian share a reluctance to tell the truth about the incidents that have brought them under suspicion, and their motives for silence are the same: protecting someone else.

Liz’s campaign to clear Adrian is hampered by her suspension and her sizable shoulder chip. She has alienated her father, a rigid-minded minister, most of her fellow officers, and the brutal warden of the prison in which Adrian was confined. On the other hand, she has lavished motherly affection on 14-year-old Gideon, the vengeance-seeking son of the woman whom Adrian was convicted of killing, and Channing, the girl whose rape occasioned all those gunshots. 

This story is so convoluted and gets more so deeper into the plot we go. There is buried treasure, we find out who the serial killer is and the warden and his henchmen get there just due. BUT…Beckett, Liz’s partner of four years is paralyzed from a gut shot given by the warden, and exited his back, Gideon is left behind because he also needs urgent medical care at the end and Liz, Adrian and Channing one on the run.  BUT… there is an hea but you’ll have to read or listen to this book yourself to find out what it is.

Fantastic book!

Five stars!!

The Obsession by Nora Roberts

Book Description:

Published: April 12, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

“She stood in the deep, dark woods, breath shallow and cold prickling over her skin despite the hot, heavy air. She took a step back, then two, as the urge to run fell over her.”

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

Review –

I’ll start off first saying that this book may be too much for readers who have a difficult time with stories of abuse, physical and emotional, as well as murder/serial killers. Naomi’s father was a monster. Plain and simple. And as this was told from multiple POVs, there are parts later on where we see things from a killer’s mindset which was not pretty. But it was definitely relevant to the story and helped to see just how twisted the individual was.

“The characters, both main and secondary, I thought, were great. Brave Naomi had been through so, so very much and I liked that she was still working on her issues regarding her traumatic past. Because of that, she didn’t want to get close to Xander. I liked him as well and thought he might seem a bit *too* good to be true, but I got such a kick out of his easy way of teasing Naomi, getting her to smile. I thought their connection rang true as well, starting off with physical attraction and evolving into much more. And I would be remiss not to mention Naomi’s uncles Seth and Harry. I absolutely adored them and how they supported Naomi and Mason throughout their lives.

What I really liked overall about The Obsession was how Roberts was able to take what could have been a dark and very heavy story and basically added in contemporary romance to lighten the overall tone. There were some great lighthearted moments between Naomi and Xander, with their quick-witted bantering as they got to know each other. Plus Naomi’s dog Tag was like comic relief in several scenes. (One involving a Cone of Shame which was hilarious and realistic to a dog owner!)” taken from harlequinjunkie.com 

Fantastic Read!

 

 

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With You (Torn Asunder #0.5) by Nashoda Rose

Book Description:

Published: December 20, 2013

Format: Free Digital Book/Second Reading

Sculpt is an illegal fighter.

He’s also the lead singer of a local rock band.

No one knows his real name.

And from the moment I met him, he made me forget mine.

In order to convince Sculpt to give me self-defense lessons, I had to follow his one rule—no complaining or he’d walk. I didn’t think it would be a problem. I could handle a few bruises. What I hadn’t anticipated was landing on my back with Sculpt on top of me and my entire body burning up for him.

I tried to ignore it.

I failed of course. And having a hot, tattooed badass on top of me week after week, acting completely immune to what he was doing to my body—it was frustrating as hell, so I broke his rule—I complained.

Then he kissed me.

Author’s Note: This novella is Sculpt and Emily’s beginning and how they met. It is an extra and not required to be read before “Torn from You”. Their story and what happens to them is the novel “Torn from You”.

Review –

I first read this book in January 2014 and loved it then and now that I have read more erotic romances/contemporary romances and have a better understanding as to what makes up a great ER/CR I love it even more.

Sculpt, whose real name is Logan, is an MMA fighter and a member of the rock band, Torn Asunder. Emily wants to learn some self-defense moves and choose Sculpt to be her teacher. For five weeks he teaches her what she needs to know and doesn’t make a sexual move on her, but then he does and everything changes.

Emily has never had a boy/man pay attention to her as Sculpt does or treat her the way he does. She gave him her virginity and he tells her he love her and that she belongs to him and the next thing she knows she’s kidnapped and being tortured and sexually humiliated in a dirty basement. END

Hows that for a CLIFFHANGER ?

In the next book, Torn From You, we find out that Sculpt/Logan is working for a human trafficking/sex slave ring in Mexico and it’s his job to break and train the women as submissives so they can be put on the auction block. Raul, the boss, allows Sculpt to keep Emily as long as he wins MMA fights. Emily can’t wrap her head around the fact that he used her the long time and now is responsible for her torture and sexual abuse.

The series is well worth reading and though the mood is very dark and things look seemingly inescapable Logan and Emily do get their HEA at the end.

This is a great ER/CR series.

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Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Description:

Published: February 9, 2016

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Review –

This book takes up exactly where the first book left off (I love it when authors do that) and  even though it has been a year since I read the Red Queen, I had no trouble falling back into the story line.

There is so much action, heartache,heartbreak,angst and death in this installment of the series I don’t know where to start. BUT, I’ll try.

Mare has found her brother, Shade, a new blood, like herself, whom she thought was dead and he joins with her and others to find other new bloods to recruit to fight Maven before Maven can find them and kill them or worse be manipulated by the queen.

Mare spends the majority of the book being suspicious of everyone – she’s been betrayed far too many times already in her 17 years – and her suspicion carries over to the reader as well. I spent most of the book with absolutely no idea of who was trustworthy and to be honest, I still am not 100% sure, especially with the characters I want to trust most.

There was also a slew of new characters come into play in this book and some we get to  know while others  we’re merely told how they came to the group after the simple recruitment of the first Newblood, Nix. Suddenly we have around 10-12 new characters stirred into the mix, with no idea how they got there or why we should care about them. Character development for what could have been interesting side characters was instead merely highlighted 

There is sadness, loss, tragedy, and sacrifice and the ending is a definite cliffhanger, but I loved it and now have to wait until February 2017 for the third book, King’s Cage to be released. Can’t wait!!!

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