A Mother’s Lie – Jo Crow

a mother's lie

A Mother’s Lie
478 (I know, right?) pages

3.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ten years ago, Clara McNair’s parents disappeared and she became the lead suspect, causing her to run away from the whispers and threatening townspeople. Today, she’s back in her hometown recording a documentary in anticipation of the ten year anniversary. Despite the townspeople following her every move and making their desire for her to leave obvious, she sticks with the film in order to make enough money to pay for her two year old son’s, James’, cancer treatment. But when bones are found on her parents’ property and attempts are taken on her life, is she strong enough to endure it all for her son?

Clara was a little frustrating. She’s a highly educated woman with a sordid past that has experienced quite a bit in her young life, so when she just keeps making dumb decision after dumb decision, I stopped caring. A lot of the secondary characters were kind of cookie cutter and it was easy to predict their actions.

The writing is spotless and the story moves steadily (despite being a longer read) and is difficult to put down. It is a psychological thriller, so of course there’s a twist, and I really want to say I didn’t see it coming, but to an extent I did. I don’t want to give anything away but *not really a spoiler but SPOILER* when a character is presented as nothing but good and perfect and 100% on the main character’s side, I get suspicious. And so when the villain was revealed, I just had a ‘yup, knew it’ reaction when I really wanted a ‘NO EFFING WAY’ reaction.

Despite my hang-ups, the author has a lot of potential and I’ll be keeping an eye out for her future works.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Survive – Sally Mason

survive

Survive
286 pages

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Survive is the second book in the Trapped series but can be read as a standalone.

Aeree has survived a horrific trauma. Unfortunately, that trauma led Aeree to do something drastic, landing her in jail for a bit. Her lawyer, Mitch, manages to get her out and marries her immediately after. Now, despite living a comfortable life, she’s stressed. Stressed about not being able to keep a job, about keeping Mitch happy, about her father, and more. So Mitch decides a short get-away to the mountains is just what she needs. But it doesn’t take long for her little trip to not only worsen her stress, but to put her life in danger.

Just like Mason’s previous book, Trapped, you need to go into this book blind. Knowing too much of the story would definitely ruin the experience. The plot is unique and something I’ve never come across before. It moves steadily and never slows down. Something I always love about Mason’s writing is that her heroines are strong and resilient, and Aeree is an amazing heroine. When she fights back… god, it’s beautiful.

There are references to rape, violence, and bulimia, but it’s never gratuitous and is just enough to make the reader on edge. Still, keep it in mind if those are triggers for you.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Thirty Days of Shame – Ginger Talbot

Thirty Days of Shame

Thirty Days of Shame
218 pages

3.5 ⭐⭐⭐

Thirty Days of Shame is the second book in a three-book serial. It ends with a cliffhanger. If you haven’t read Thirty Days of Pain, the first book in the series, beware because this review may contain SPOILERS.

TDoS picks up a month or two after the end of TDoP. Willow has managed to get her cousins and aunt away from her uncle and Sergei, her captor. She’s careful to take any and all precautions to prevent being found, but it doesn’t last and she’s soon back with Sergei, forced into another thirty day agreement to be his captive. Willow doesn’t go easily, but when she realizes she’s safer with him than without, she gives in and Sergei resumes his torment.

By the end of book one, Willow has become fed up with everything: Sergei, her uncle, herself. She gets angry and doesn’t hesitate to show it. Unfortunately, as book two progresses, she becomes even more enamored with Sergei and loses a lot of her fire. Yet, Sergei is just as abusive as he was before, if not more so. He goes out of his way to hurt her (emotionally and physically) and she knows it, yet it’s still her sobbing and begging, always. I wanted her strong and mad, not desperate and broken.

The reader is finally given an explanation of Sergei’s past, explaining why he does what he does. And even though I cried at his backstory, his violence was excessive and I wouldn’t mind much if only Willow wasn’t falling more in love with him every time he beat her. He’s the villain and the hero, and I realize it’s not easy to write such characters. My problem is more with Willow’s reaction to his violence. She justifies that she deserves what he doles out, that no matter what he does to her she’ll always love him, and that she will fight for him. Sergei needs to show more growth and emotion and fight for her, not the other way around.

I love dark romances, but their relationship is more fitting for a thriller about Stockholm Syndrome rather than a romance. Sergei is too manipulative and domineering of a character for me to want to root for, but I’m still going to see this series out to its end. And hopefully, book three will finally give Willow the upper-hand.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Christmas Possess – Josie Litton

christmas possess

Christmas Possess
100 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

Chase is determined to give his girlfriend, Marisol, the perfect Christmas. They’re both busy people, but Marisol always manages to put others before herself, and Chase thinks the season of giving is the perfect time to give her all she could wish for.

Initially, Christmas Possess was supposed to be published after Chase and Marisol’s story, Possess, was published. Unfortunately, the author had to postpone publishing Possess until next year, meaning CP is technically a long epilogue, just without the rest of the story.

On its own, the book is a cute holiday novella and perfect if you’re looking for something light-hearted and short. As a story, though, there isn’t much plot and it comes off like I described earlier; like an extended epilogue. There are numerous references to Chase and Marisol’s past, and since I have no knowledge of that past, I was confused by some of the story. Not only that, but since their relationship was established in Possess, there’s really no development between them. It felt more like peeking in a neighbor’s window rather than actually knowing them.

The steam is light, but good for what’s there. It’s well-written and what I know of the characters, I liked. However, considering there’re no conflicts, Marisol is barely on the page and most of the book is Chase’s inner-monologue, it was just too slow and dull for me to really enjoy it.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Hard For Her – Sienna Ciles

hard for her

Hard For Her
221 pages

DNF at 29% (skimmed the remainder)

Holly is back on the market after leaving her fiancé for putting his job before her. She’s set-up on a blind date by her best friend, but is embarrassed when the guy stands her up. In swoops “handsome, stylish, charming young man”, Alex, to the rescue. He buys her a drink or five and takes her back to his place where they knock boots even though Holly’s ‘never done anything like this before’ and she’s ‘not that kind of girl’. Holly wakes the next morning to find a note from Alex that he had a work thing and would be back ASAP, and she leaves hurt because he put his job before her, just like her ex.

giphy (14)

I started skimming at the 29% mark because I couldn’t stand the elementary writing style. The flow wasn’t organic and I couldn’t get into the story. It felt like every object, person, piece of lint in the room was being described to me, it was that excessive. And the adjectives. God, the adjectives, so many unnecessary and repetitive adjectives. Here’s a taste: “…glancing over at me with his deep, seductively captivating blue eyes.” Not too bad, but imagine reading stuff like that every two paragraphs. It was too much.

The characters were one-dimensional and nothing I learned about them came naturally. I don’t want to read that Alex is ‘six foot one, 215 pounds with bright blue eyes and a build like his father’s’ all in one paragraph. And I definitely don’t need it repeated back to me ad nauseam. I’m reading a book, not a match.com dating profile. Even worse, I didn’t care for the characters. Alex was a wimp that couldn’t figure out how to tell his assistant, big-boobed (I was reminded of that fact every time she was on page. Every. Time.) Alicia, to stop sexually harassing him. And Holly was childish and irrational. She runs away to Virginia after a misunderstanding? The juvenile banter between her and her best friend didn’t help endear her to me, it just annoyed me that she was an adult woman speaking like a teenager.

The plot isn’t interesting, the writing is hard to get through, and the intimate scenes are corny. Pass on this one.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

One More Night – Rebecca Hunter

one more night

One More Night
221 pages

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Alice is settling down for a meal at a pub in Stockholm when a man approaches her. He introduces himself as Jonas Hällström, an author whose manuscript she happens to be looking at. What at first seems like a sexy and intense man hoping to convince Alice to buy his book, turns out to be much different. In fact, Alice caught Jonas’s eye at a book expo earlier that day, so when he sees her at the pub, he’s eager to meet her. Thus begins their passionate love affair that spans three countries and several months.

Jonas is a romantic yet tortured hero with little faith in himself and Alice is just going through the motions of life, afraid of trusting the wrong man. Common sense is telling them that getting involved isn’t right, but their chemistry is too intense to fight. The characters are likable, but both have troubled pasts that are still somewhat in the dark to the reader even by the end of the book.

The segues from each portion of the story are awkward and leave the reader with a lot of questions of what happened in the interim. It doesn’t detract from the romance and intimacy of the story, but it interrupts the flow and experience of getting to know the characters. And by the ending, I was left feeling a little unsure of their future. A more thorough/concise epilogue may have changed that.

Despite some issues with the format, the book is a nice change from the typical ‘ex-con pursues good girl’ trope and is definitely worth the read.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Unorthodox Dom – Lilah E. Noir

unorthodox dom

Unorthodox Dom
66 pages

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Unorthodox Dom is a prequel to Unorthodox Therapy, the first book in the Unorthodox Trilogy, but it can be read as a standalone.

Prior to the events that happened between Lina and Thomas in Unorthodox Therapy, Thomas was an insecure young man looking to expand his horizons into BDSM. UD follows his relationship with Kat, his first sub-turned-girlfriend, and gives insight into how she impacted his life. Despite few scenes containing Lina (heroine of Unorthodox Therapy), Thomas’s obsession with her is evident. For a time he manages to refocus his efforts on Kat, but anytime he sees Lina, she unwittingly tempts his demons, leaving Thomas feel dirty as if he had emotionally cheated on Kat.

Much of the story is centered on the process of Thomas training to become a dom, so sex permeates the plot, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s a short, entertaining story if you’re in the mood for something more erotic. Personally, I wish there had been just a bit more of Lina in the story. I missed her.

There is scene that can be construed as MFF, but isn’t technically a menàge, so keep that in mind.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Dating My Friend’s Daughter – Penny Wylder

**Release Date: November 21, 2017**

dating my friend's daughter

Dating My Friend’s Daughter

Novella length

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Michael Foster walks into work one day to find an alluring redhead waiting at reception. Running late for a meeting with his business partner, Jack, he’s unable to meet her. That is, until Jack is introducing said redhead, Cora, to Michael as their new intern – and his daughter.

There’s a lot of sex. The plot is thin, but what’s there is interesting. Michael and Cora don’t spend much time getting to know each other… at least, non-sexually. Getting a feel for their love is difficult, but their physical chemistry is powerful and convincing.

It’s a quick, entertaining read that’ll come in handy if you’re trying to ‘get in the mood’.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Mr. Control – Maya Hughes

mr. control

Mr. Control
Full-length novel

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

One awful afternoon, down-on-her-luck Mel happens to meet a little girl named Esme. Mel’s unable to find Esme’s parents, so she takes her to the diner where she works. When well-known billionaire, Rhys, walks in, heads turn. Mel soon finds out that Esme is in fact Rhys’s daughter and Rhys soon after makes her an offer she can’t refuse… well, she tries to refuse, but he’s all alpha about not letting her so she doesn’t.

Right off the bat, Rhys’s need for control is evident, but Mel isn’t a pushover so there’s a constant push-and-pull. Their silent battles are overwhelming, but sexy. Rhys has this way of speaking into Mel’s ear from behind that just *shudders* gets me every time. As desirable Rhys was, he still managed to eff things up, of course. But Mel doesn’t just roll over and take it. She’s proactive and resilient, and I think that was my favorite thing about the story: Mel’s strength.

The ending is a bit rushed, and for as strong as Mel was, Rhys could’ve/should’ve groveled more. *Subtle Spoilers* The reader is given insight into Mel’s suffering, but not much on Rhys, the one I wanted to see suffer (because like it or not, both of their pain was Rhys’s fault). He even refused acceptance of the gifts and letters Mel sent Esme. No no no, that’s beyond harsh and slap-worthy. But alas, no slaps. 😦

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Toy – Normandie Alleman & J. Chase

**Release Date: November 14, 2017**

toy

Toy
Full-length Novel

1 ⭐

Marisol has one last chance to keep her job as a journalist for a tabloid magazine, and her best shot is by interviewing rich playboy, Park. But Park isn’t interested in just answering questions for free. No, he wants her body.

I had to force- FORCE- myself to finish this book, it drove me that nuts. For starters, Park was an absolute douchehat. He basically held her job hostage unless she slept with him. He went out of his way to make Marisol uncomfortable and unhappy, all because he was playing a game and he had to win. And Marisol, God, she’s TSTL. She hardly stood up for herself, whimpered or teared up every other page, and her issues with Park were always resolved as such: ‘Grrr, I’m super angry at you oh wait you want to bang me? All’s forgotten!’ No. Just… no.

The plot was just nothing but convenient coincidences and really incompetent villains. *Subtle Spoilers* Example: One villain is so stupid she basically admits, ‘yeah, I did this crime for money and power and your stupid Marisol is just too sweet and loyal and in love with you to betray you herself’. That’s how the author chose to resolve a disagreement between the H/h? Ugh. And then! Two women that were capital ‘C’s to Marisol and Park help save the day at the end? And one just happens to have a dad in the FBI and the other is a genius hacker? Gahhhhhhhh!

Two things I really hate are when a story’s main conflict is a matter of poor communication between the H/h (not the only conflict in this story, but a big one) and when the day is saved by unbelievable coincidences just to save the plot. And this book had both.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.