Thue Hunt- Alice Ward

the hunt

The Hunt
Full-length novel

3 ⭐⭐⭐

Caitlyn is a struggling artist that still lives with her grandmother and moonlights as a waitress at a crappy diner at night. One evening, a handsome but arrogantly rude man named KP comes into the diner, insults her, then proceeds to proposition her. Being understandably turned off, she rejects him, which only intrigues KP more. Caitlyn clearly isn’t interested in the promiscuous affair KP is offering, so he decides to become a better person and do everything he can to catch her.

This book could’ve been really good. The relationship between Caitlyn and her grandmother and KP and his brother were deep and affectionate. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get the emotions expressed between KP and Cat. KP literally began stalking her, but why? She was beautiful, a challenge, fine. But I got no sense of connection between them. The formation of their relationship felt like Cat was trying to force herself to like KP and KP trying to force himself to want more than to just sleep with her. Why would they even bother? I just don’t get it.

The story is emotional and heartbreaking at times. And it would stand out as a truly beautiful story of family and love… if only I didn’t have to read about the Hero having sex with another woman not the heroine. I get that KP was a manwhore, but I didn’t need it shoved down my throat. If the author must include a sex scene like that, at least don’t make it four pages long and contain much more description than any love scene between the H/h. It’s perfectly ok to fade to black. And the fact that KP still considered Rachel better at sex, but oh, he was in love with Cat so he was willing to have a more “vanilla” sexlife doesn’t set their relationship up for success. I am convinced if those characters were real people, I would be counting the days until KP broke and cheated on Cat because he wasn’t totally satisfied. That’s not love. That’s settling.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Romeo: SEALs of Vegas – Mia Kenney

romeo

Romeo: SEALs of Vegas
127 pages

2 ⭐⭐

Katalina Martinez is hired to paint the bedroom of Romeo Cruz’s soon to be niece. I have no idea how she got the job, and why it’s going to take several weeks to paint a bedroom, but whatever. It doesn’t take long for Romeo to discover that Kat has secrets, but they won’t stop him from having what he wants: Kat.

I know it’s only 127 pages, but I feel like I just read the cliff notes rather than the actual story. There’s no chemistry between the characters. They meet, Romeo’s pretty much a jerk, and Kat behaves like a scared toddler, chewing and curling her hair with her fingers. I have no idea what they see in each other since the author never bothers to develop the characters beyond a superficial level.

There’s no tension in the book, sexual or action. Kat is caught up in some serious stuff, but as soon as it happens, Romeo swoops in, experiences zero setbacks and saves the day. And what happens to the big bad villain? His demise is barely mentioned or acknowledged. After the crap he put Kat through, the author should’ve spent more time on that. Instead, the author tried to focus on too many things and alienated the things that actually mattered.

I understand a big attraction of romance novels is the push and pull. She pulls away, he pushes to keep her, on and on. But some of the stuff Romeo says overdoes that and it becomes creepy and abusive.
“And I always get what I want. She thinks she can run off and hide, avoiding me forever. I have no doubt she loves me.” Says the stalker of his victim.

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“Pike hasn’t brought up anything about Kat leaving me. I know she didn’t mean it though.” What does she have to say or do for him to understand that she means it?

There’re too many continuity errors. *Spoilers* First of all, how long have they been sleeping together? It seems like just days, but by the end scene she already knows she’s pregnant? Either the scenes are described insufficiently for me to tell that significant time has passed or Katalina knew the moment she got knocked up. And her name. Isn’t Katalina her fake name to hide from Cisco? But when she comes into contact with her brothers at the end, they keep calling her Kat and not Anna. WTH.

The book tried too hard to be too many things (romance, suspense, action, erotica, familial drama, etc), but they all fell flat, making it a complete mess. Don’t waste your time.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Mom’s Fiancé – Cassandra Dee

my mom's fiance

My Mom’s Fiancé
Full length

3 ⭐⭐⭐

18y/o Lacey meets a well-endowed stranger at a club, where they proceed to “get familiar”, if only physically. Next afternoon, Lacey attends her mother, Amanda’s, engagement party. Since it’s Amanda’s fourth marriage, Lacey hasn’t yet met the groom. So, surprise, surprise when she discovers 45 y/o Jake Mason is her soon to be stepfather – and he also happens to be the guy she shagged at the club.

In favor of full disclosure, this book is really, very dirty. Not much conventional love-making in the story, so keep that in mind.

Lacey was sweet, but sometimes too sweet. She didn’t have the best willpower. Gonna be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Jake’s. It took him way too long to get over himself and finally treat Lacey with some respect. He needed to grovel more for what he put her through. And especially for even considering hooking up with Amanda *see Chapter 10*.

There were some continuity errors that bugged me. Mostly concerning how old Amanda is and was when she had Lacey. Not a big deal, but I’m a stickler for consistency, so it got to me.

Not the strongest book, plot wise, but if you’re into the weird, taboo and dirty, and looking for a jiller, then look no further!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

SEXT – Penny Wylder

sext

SEXT
Full length

3.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Clove arrives home from a less than stellar date one evening to see she’s been followed home by the guy she just rejected. He’s drunk and pushy, but then he becomes physical and insistent that Clove give him what he wants. Thankfully, her hunky doorman, Zayne, jumps in to rescue her and get rid of the d-bag. Sexting ensues, and insta-lust soon turns into insta-love.

The plot is unique for a romance, especially considering their less-than conventional beginning. It’s well-written with some prime sex scenes, so that’s always a plus. There are some inconsistencies in the book. IE. Is Andy a woman or a gay man? At 9%, Andy is referred to as “she”, but later on is very clearly a gay man. And the interaction between Zayne and Nick, his bartender friend is never explained. They’re acting strangely and Clove even contemplates asking what’s up, but nothing ever comes of it, making me question why the scene exists in the first place.

Zayne is sweet, but still very sexy. Clove is a real woman with real needs and refuses to apologize for it. Until the main conflict of the story happens, then her confidence takes a definite tumble. The identity of Zayne’s crazy ex was obvious (to me) early on. I would’ve liked it to be a bit more surprising. The ending was sudden and more of a HFN than an HEA, but it was satisfying enough.

Not my favorite Penny Wylder story, but I like it more than most of her older stuff.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Goddesses – Swan Huntley

the goddesses.jpg

The Goddesses
320 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

Nancy moves with her husband and twin teenage sons from San Diego to Hawaii for a fresh start. Hoping to reinvent herself and meet new people, she joins an early morning yoga class. She immediately bonds with the teacher, Ana, and begins spending most of her time with her proclaimed “soul sister”. Further alienating herself from her family, Nancy prioritizes to one person that seems to actually see the real Nancy. Only, does Nancy see the real Ana?

Nancy is confused about her identity. Who is she? Who should she be? Being a woman that moved to a foreign country –where my native tongue is hardly spoken- for my husband’s career, I can identify with her loneliness. Living somewhere new where you’re unknown is both exhilarating yet terrifying. There’s a perfect opportunity to reinvent yourself, to escape the pre-assigned roles you’ve been living. With no one around to remind you who you are, who you’re supposed to be, it’s overwhelming figuring out your new purpose. Despite understanding the Nancy though, I found she’s excessively judgmental and pessimistic, making it hard to like her.

Ana is an extreme character, yet predictable. Her behavior hinted a bit too obviously at her secrets, so I wasn’t surprised when they came to light.

*Possible Spoilers*
The ending reduced my rating of the book. The whole story is a slow build-up to what should have been a life-changing confrontation, but of course that doesn’t happen. Instead, Nancy simply wipes her hands clean of Ana, knowing full well that she has a new target in sight. It seems like self-preservation to just walk away, but when Nancy’s thoughts reveal the truth of her mother’s death, I realized that she’s not just selfish, she’s practically heartless, all in the name of her own best interest.

I’m conflicted on my feelings for this book. For too long I just kept wondering ‘where is this going?’. I’d call The Goddesses a slow-paced, but entertaining familial drama, with a dash of psychological thriller, and an abundance of Hawaiian scenery descriptions to last a lifetime.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Loaded – Roxie Noir

loaded

Loaded
322 pages

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Alex works for La Carretera, a Mexican cartel based in California. His boss gives him the job to go to a fancy weddning and kidnap the daughter of an accountant that’s about to rat out to the Feds. Simple, yeah? Nah, shit hits the fan and he gets more than he bargained for.
Tessa has no clue her father has been working illegally with La Carretera, so she is thoroughly confused when she’s unexpectedly abducted after hooking up with the handsome Alex at her friend’s wedding.

The chemistry between Alex and Tessa is -hoo-
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Alex is the perfect bad-boy, but he does have a soft side he only shares with Tessa. Tessa is feisty and doesn’t take crap lying down. Considering the circumstance they’re in the angst is totally appropriate and unforced. Despite Alex being a kidnapper though, he’s quintessentially the modern knight in shining armor. His goal is to keep Tessa safe and he puts his life at risk to do so.

The plot moves and moves and there’s little opportunity for boredom. Even the smallest interactions between the H/h is engrossing, that’s how strong their connection is. And the ending… the best ending I’ve read in a romance in a long time. And it’s not cheesy!

It’s just so good. Read this book.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Absinthe – Winter Renshaw

absinthe

Absinthe
338 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

That cover…
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Anywho… Halston is a teenager with a traumatic past living with an uncle she hardly knows. To fill her time, she downloads a dating app and goes by the username: Absinthe. She immediately comes across someone by the username: Kerouac. Their online relationship lasts a couple of months before Kerouac decides it’s getting too serious and he ends things. Halston’s hurt, but refuses to cry over it, so she deletes the app and expects to never speak to Kerouac again. Soon after school starts, however, she is sent to the principal’s office for cursing in class. And low-and-behold, she comes face to face with Kerouac, AKA Principal Ford Hawthorne.

The characters are really well-developed and have interesting back stories. Halston’s past has definitely shaped her, so she’s impulsive and immature at times, but she’s strong and refuses to be a victim. Ford has some anger and resentment issues that make him abrasive, but his care for Halston is endearing.

The pacing of the story is slow. Halston and Ford don’t spend much time in each other’s company the whole book. Most of their interaction takes place online and they’re separated for 5 years (yes, five) so it’s hard to believe their undying love for each other. It doesn’t help that the five years they’re apart is skimmed over. Chapter to chapter it becomes “Another Year Later”. It’s hard to stay invested in the story and characters when all I’m getting is a glimpse of their lives. HOWEVER, I do love that when they’re separated they don’t conveniently run into each other again. Halston has to actually look for Ford and go out of her way to bring them back together, so thank you for not using the cheap plot device of coincidence, Ms. Renshaw.

If only the H/h actually spent time together, this would’ve been an amazing read.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Devil in the Countryside – Cory Barclay

devil in the countryside

Devil in the Countryside

348 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

In 16th century Germany, over a dozen children, countless livestock, and a few women were gruesomely tortured and murdered, being literally torn apart to pieces. Devil in the Countryside is an historical fiction based on those murders, attributed to the mythical Werewolf of Bedburg.

The book understandably takes creative license in the telling of the story. Not all of the characters actually existed and not all of the events actually occurred. It’s almost impossible to expect the book to be written in true to 16th century wording and format, but it too often uses modern-day expressions in the dialogue that really pull you out of the story.

The plot is accurate to the time, because it is super depressing. So many good people are punished in horrible ways over mere speculation. Thanks to the metaphorical nearsightedness of the characters, it was hard to like most of them. Their eagerness to judge and condemn was disturbing… even more so when you consider that stuff like that actually happened.

Despite the length and being drawn out at times, I was still left with too many questions. The author doesn’t actually provide an opinion on who the werewolf may have really been. A lot of the characters practically fall off the page and aren’t given much of an ending, but it especially bothered me with Hugo. That poor kid needs a hug, STAT.

The book is entertaining, although slow in parts. But fair warning, there are graphic descriptions of torture and death that may be hard for some to stomach.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Hung – Anne Marsh

hung

Hung

148 pages

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pick Revere is wildlife firefighter in a small, isolated town in California. Fire is his life, yet petite Sarah Jo manages to catch his eye. Not only for her looks, but because she very clearly is running from something. She’s constantly on edge, looking over her shoulder, dressing in oversized clothing to hide her appearance, etc. The closer Pick and Sarah Jo become, the more determined Pick is to find out her secrets, but Sarah Jo isn’t sharing.

The characters are easy to like. Pick is the sweetest manly man I’ve come across in a long time. Honestly, I can’t think of a flaw of his, he’s that perfect. And thank goodness he is so sweet, because Sarah Jo can be very stubborn at times. At first she’s quiet and jumpy, but she gradually comes out of her shell, and her resilience stands out.
The plot is straight forward and evenly paced.

Some problems: there were a lot of typos. Too many, even for an ARC copy. Also, I wasn’t happy with the ending. It was too ambiguous about their future, even for a HFN ending. I was left questioning if Sarah Jo was even going to stick around, and then it suddenly ends.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Savior – S.L. Scott

savior

Savior

354 pages

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Savior is the final book in the Kingwood Duet. It follows Savage, which must be read prior to Savior in order to understand any of it.

*Spoilers if you haven’t read Savage*
Savior resumes where Savage left off. Sara Jane is rushed to the hospital after being shot by Alexander’s enemy and it pulls you in immediately. Alexander is terrified of losing SJ and most of the first 10% of the book is his introspection on how much he needs her. That his life is only worth living because of her.

“Is there a way to trade my life for hers, my sins for hers, to die in her place instead? What kind of deal can I strike? What bargain can I negotiate? Tell me. Fucking tell me and I’ll do it. Anything.”

When SJ wakes from surgery, your heart breaks for everything they’ve lost. Neither one knows how to cope with their pain, so there’s some animosity from SJ towards Alex at first. It doesn’t last though, because he’s the reason she breathes. And he’s only living for her. And life is hard, but still so good because they have each other. Because nothing means more to them than the other. Am I getting on your nerves yet with my redundancy? Because that’s pretty much the gist of the first 30% of the book. At first, it’s heartrending and powerful, but after endless declarations of their undying love and little movement with the plot, it just becomes enough, already.

Once the plot gets moving, it’s interesting and hard to put down. There is a pretty big plot point that happens about 75% in that is nerve-wracking. However, much less time is spent on it than necessary. And THEN there’s a HUGE twist not long after, and I was still left with countless questions even after I finished the book. I don’t expect to have all of my questions answered when I read a book, but something as big as this demands more explanation than what’s provided.

I loved Savage . It was the perfect blend of romance and suspense. Unfortunately, Savior was too unbalanced for me to give it 5 stars. I am happy Jason is getting his own story, though. That guy needs a HEA.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.