192: A Dark Mafia Bodyguard Romance by Nikki Belaire

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192: A Dark Mafia Bodyguard Romance
272 pages
3 ⭐⭐⭐

It started out so strong. There’s an intriguing backstory and a super possessive bad-boy hero with a heart of gold (at least for the heroine) and that’s always promising. The hero, Roan, is the heroine’s bodyguard and he desperately wants to save her from her abusive husband Arturo. But after the first 20%, it slows down to the speed of a glacier. There’s no more exciting near-death scenes or “oh no what’s going to happen” moments. It becomes all about convincing the heroine, Viviana, that she has been mistreated and subsequently, the hero spoils her and treats her with kid gloves.

The story is only told from Roan’s POV, and I think that made it harder for me to connect with Viviana because I could not stand her. She’s beyond frustrating with her kicked-puppy behavior, but because of her history, it’s realistic and I do get it. Viviana is fragile. She’s robotic. She’s so submissive and terrified of having her own opinions/thoughts that I never understood what Roan saw in her. And then it hit me: he has a savior complex. He literally rescues kidnapping victims for a living so of course he gets a high from rescuing and taking care of Viviana. But she’s isn’t a rescue animal; she’s his love interest and that doesn’t work for me. Still, if you prefer stronger heroines, avoid this book like the plague.

I really liked Roan. He’s chivalrous and protective and sexy and just a whole bunch of goodness wrapped in one package. He’s the best part of the story, but as much as I liked him, he constantly uses derogatory female terms as internal insults anytime he has feelings.

“Okay, now that I’m done fantasizing like a bitch ass pussy[…]”

“Despite my pussy ass giddiness[…]”

“Please god I almost fucking cry like a pansy ass[…]”

“I roll my eyes at myself for behaving like a pussy ass girl[…]”

“But I’m a pussy ass bitch, and I want to get home.”

And on and on it went. Every once in a while is fine, but I have a pet peeve for repetitiveness, not to mention the author is contributing to the association of femininity and negativity that really needs to die.

The climax is less than thrilling and a lot less eventful than I anticipated. Sure, they’re on the run/hiding for about 75% of the book, but once the villain shows he’s there for all of one scene and doesn’t even really speak. It’s like watching someone scoop your ice cream with the speed of a sloth, and once they pass it to you, you manage to get one good lick in before it all falls off the cone and SPLAT!

Safety SPOILER: Hero has been celibate for over two years and has been working with the heroine for only three months. Heroine’s husband has been trying to get her pregnant since they got married three years ago, but she doesn’t enjoy it. No OM/OW scenes.

Triggers SPOILER: Violence, domestic abuse, mentions of a non-consensual relationship between the heroine and her husband. 

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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One Hot Daddy by Kira Blakely

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One Hot Daddy
1043 pages (this story ends at 34%)
DNF @21% (62% if you consider that the book ends at 34%)

JFC, what the hell was I thinking when I started this book without first looking at the reviews?

First of all, it’s riddled with clichés. You have the naïve, small-town girl that’s new to the big city for a new job and desperate to prove herself. But uh-oh! She falls for the forbidden boss literally the moment they meet.

Then you have the badboy rock star turned magazine editor that has been reformed of his drug and sex addictions since having a kid. And the moment he sees the heroine BOOM! Boner. But he can’t sleep with her because of the no-fraternization policy even though he has slept with another woman he works with in the past and she’s clearly still hung up on him to the point that she treats the heroine like shit. But she’s so good at her job! She’s irreplaceable!

Secondly, this hero was just skeevy with his thoughts. Here are some gems (all after he meets the heroine):

Some random band guy: Dude, you remember ten years ago? When we playing that show in Queens? You grabbed that girl in the front row, lifted her onto the stage, and just started making out with her in the middle of the song.

A mad smile stretched over Quentin’s face in memory. He remembered that girl, how she’d pressed her lips onto his and lifted her legs around his waist.

“That was around the time when you got that tat in Paris.”

“I still have it of course,” Quentin said gruffly […] “Otherwise, I wouldn’t remember her name now.”

Wait, dude seriously got a tattoo of some random chick he hooked up with?? Di-fucking-sgusting.

**********

Thinking about the heroine:

Her thin yet toned legs had been reminiscent of any groupie from his former band days, legs that had wrapped around his waist countless times as he’d fucked them from above- almost never remembering their faces, nor their names. Seeing Charlotte out there had forced him through countless memories, gorgeous ones.

**********

As he’s pulling his dick out to wank it to “thoughts of the heroine”:

He remembered getting naked on stage, more than ten years before, and penetrating some raucous groupie in front of the drum kit, as fans watched nearby.

**********

Thinking about how he shouldn’t pursue the heroine, but how if he did, she’d be so for it:

He’d watched them [groupies] dive after him, during his shows around ten years before [btw, we get it, most of this shit happened ten years before]. He’d flaunted it, bragging about the women who’d done anything he asked. And now, Charlotte was his employee, bound to do whatever he asked, regardless.

This sunuvabitch is seriously contemplating how easy the heroine would be because he was in a position of power and had the ability to ruin her if she refused. He’s mentally prepping sexual assault.

**********

This is AFTER he’d already started sleeping with the heroine:

As he paced through the hallway, a tiny redheaded nurse walked past him, shuffling her ass from side to side. She had a tight, taut waist, a small, bird-like neck, and lithe feet, which pulsed across the linoleum at the speed of light. She wasn’t like these other hulk-like nurses. She was different. During his rock-star days, he would have branded her as fuckable and shoved her into a closet, stripping her panties to the floor. But Quentin felt nothing.

Well now wait a minute. He felt nothing? Um, no, pretty sure he was feeling some significant growth in his pants based on his thought process there.

Also, hulk-like nurses?

As a nurse, I am 100% offended by this on behalf of all nurses. Nurses are there to help patients and save fucking lives. Not be eye candy to asshole perverts and screw this author for contributing to such a ridiculous stereotype.

But I can’t say I’m surprised since almost all characters were just shallow caricatures based on overdone stereotypes that I’m seriously sick of seeing.

There’s the MCs and their clichés I’ve already pointed out. Then the flamboyantly gay friend that so wants to sleep with the heterosexual hero. Then there’s the hero’s coworker that happens to be the vindictive former fling that’s so hung up on her sexual past with him that she shouts it from the rooftops. Then there’s the professional competition that takes her job too seriously, but gets super jealous of the attention H gives the h and eventually resorts to bitter taunts. The ex-wife’s new boyfriend that has some boring job and wears khakis and turtle necks because ew, gross, right? Then the adorable yet too smart for her age daughter. And finally the ex-wife, who actually gets a pass because she wasn’t spiteful and out to cause drama. So, yay for creative deviation.

And finally, and I’m going to say finally not because it’s my last problem with the story but because I just want to get this review over with: the doormat heroine. The hero has sex with the heroine and she falls asleep at his place. He gets a call at 4am with a legitimate emergency. And instead of waking the heroine up and briefly explaining he needs to go and he’ll see her later or something, he tells her to get out. He’s back to the no-fraternization policy all of a sudden even though he’s already slept with the heroine numerous times, so he figures this is the perfect opportunity to be a dick and push her away.

When he doesn’t come in to work the next day, the heroine starts harassing her boss aka the former fling about where the hero is and it gets back to him and he gets pissed that she didn’t catch on that he was pushing her away. When he returns the following day he refuses to even look at her or acknowledge her existence. When she outsmarts him in one of his meetings, he storms out pissed. Then former fling proudly informs him that she has dutifully fired the heroine. Does hero get mad? Nope, he feels guilty for saying something snarky to former fling. Then he rushes out to go tell the heroine she’s not fired because even though he doesn’t want to be with her, she is really smart and good for the magazine. He finds her on the street bawling her eyes out with makeup running down her face. He has a sudden change of heart and kisses her. And she lets him. And immediately returns with him to work with a smile on her face and blissed that he wants her. She said nothing to him about how he treated her. Nothing.

And that’s when I called an end to my torture because I just can’t with this anymore. I never want to think of this book again.

Sin by M. Malone & Nana Malone

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Sin
288 pages
4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sin continues with Matthias’s story that started in the prequel, Before Sin. Plus, we’re finally introduced to the heroine, Gemma, a double agent for the government organization ORUS and The Family, an organization that specializes in human/drugs/weapons trafficking. Like Matthias, Gemma has history with the deranged “Family”, and although she wants to bring them down, her main objective is to save her friend, Sabine. She agrees to infiltrate the organization while reporting back to ORUS, but things go awry when the Family gives her orders to capture and kill a target: Matthias.

It’s hard to explain the book without giving away too many spoilers and you definitely want to go in without any preconceptions, even though much of the plot is pretty transparent. There’s a lot of secrecy and deception in the story, but the reader is almost always aware of what’s going on.

Matt and Gemma are both unique and break countless romance clichés. I mean, **SPOILER** dual virgins here, people.

And they’re fairly young (somewhere between 18 and 23? And Gemma is at least a couple of years younger than Matthias) and have traumatic pasts, so their virginity is believable. 

Matt: you just want to hug the guy and pet his hair and make him feel better. He’s not a whiner or anything, but he’s genuinely convinced he’s a terrible person. He is crazy and dangerous though, but Gemma manages to tame him and bring out his soft side without even trying. She also manages to bring out his worst, though, and when that happens…

And Gemma, she’s an amazingly strong heroine. Not just because she’s a spy and manages to physically fight men without losing, but because she never backs down. Not once. If you’re looking for a non-doormat heroine, Gemma’s your girl.

There’s a healthy balance of both romance and suspense and plenty of fight/action scenes to get lost in. There are also some triggers: **SPOILER** violence (some against the h); references to rape/forced prostitution (of both adults and children); death of a child by suicide (9 year old girl that only appears in the one scene). Plus, there’s a huge cliffhanger with a heavy Manchurian Candidate or Winter Soldier influence.

Safety: Safe. Both virgins. The heroine seems to have some experience with kissing and touching, hero seems to have no experience at all. 

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

::Release Day:: Sin by M. Malone & Nana Malone

 **Review to Come**
Blurb
I’m a bodyguard. I walk softly and carry a
big…stick.
Too bad I have no idea how to use it.

I know what you’re thinking. How the hell do you end up a virgin when you live
in a city known for easy access?

But my focus is protecting the women of New York…not fulfilling my every
desire.

Then I meet her.

 

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Coming Soon
Releasing June 19, 2018

A.C.H.E. by M. Never

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A.C.H.E.
217 pages
⭐⭐⭐

For three years, Everly’s stepfather and mother kept her locked away in her bedroom for reasons she didn’t understand. When she was 16 years old, Everly fell in love with one of her step-father’s foot-soldiers, a 24 year-old named Tage who promised to get her out. Then one night, everything went awry and her life was uprooted. Eight years later she’s working as a legal secretary and simply getting through life rather than living it. She eventually forms a friendship with Alec, one of the attorneys, which soon evolves into more. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she doubts her ability to keep the life she’s finally achieved.

The story is emotional and angsty and passionate, but it was missing something, too. I didn’t feel the connection between Ever and Alec was as strong as her connection with Tage. Alec was sweet, but he actually started out as a douche. He insulted Ever’s appearance one of the first times they spoke to each other, but then takes it back later because he finally saw her all dolled up at a work function. If he wasn’t attracted to her because she was wearing glasses and braids and minimal makeup, I doubt he’d be attracted to her just because she let her hair down and put on some mascara. It was shallow, and I don’t appreciate shallow heroes or heroines. And Tage… he was just flighty. He knew what he wanted but that didn’t mean he did a damn thing about it. No, it took realizing Ever was finally moving on from him to realize what he could lose. With two heroes like that, how do I root for either?

There are several scenes between Ever and each man independently and there’s even more between the three of them. They were hot, but there were so many that they started to repeat and I started to skim. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it was too much sex; it became redundant.

I was really disappointed with the ending. There were a lot of unanswered questions and it was honestly a little sad. Hopefully there’s going to be another book to wrap it up, but as far as I know, that was it. It was a letdown.

Safety and Trigger Spoilers: MFM scenes, cheating (by h on one of the Hs), mild violence, and a sex scene where the heroine is underage and the H is 24.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Before Sin by M. Malone & Nana Malone

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Before Sin
Novella
4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

There isn’t too much to say about this story as it’s short and simply sets the scene for the next book(s).

This is the prequel to Sin. It gives some background info about Matthias, the hero, which is integral to understanding his story in the book Sin. The plot isn’t too involved, but it’s a good starting point and interesting enough to make me curious about reading the next book.

It’s a little sad, a bit humorous, and has a good amount of excitement.

::Release Day:: Before Sin by M. Malone & Nana Malone

**Review to come**

Title: Before Sin
A Sin Duet Prequel
Authors: M. Malone & Nana Malone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Blurb

They say love is all
around.

Yeah, for everyone
but me.
It sounds crazy, I
know. Breaking News: badass bodyguard for the nation’s top security firm
doesn’t know how to talk to women.
That’s it, folks. I
have no game. Luckily my newfound family at Blake Security accepts me exactly
as I am.
But there are things
in my past, secrets, that I’d do anything to protect them from.

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Coming Soon
Releasing May 29, 2018
Releasing June 19, 2018

 

The Savage Wild by Roxie Noir

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Full-length novel
2 ⭐⭐
The book starts out with Imogen trying to get to Yellowknife after a delayed flight has screwed up her arrival time. Panicking about what to do she asks a flight attendant what her options are. The flight attendant sees a man she’s been sleeping with that happens to be a pilot who has a history of chartering private flights for a hefty sum. The man happens to be Wilder Flint, someone from Imogen’s past that happens to hate her as much as she hates him.

There’s clearly something that happened between Imogen and Wilder when they were in high school, but it takes several flashbacks before we find out what that is. All we know is that both feel like they’re the wronged party and have held onto their hate for ten years. But the more I read, the more I realized that Wilder is one of the worst heroes ever, and Imogen needs revenge some groveling.

I’ll hide the rest of the review under a spoiler tag, because it’s chock full of them.

The flashback scenes are brutal. Wilder was the rich, popular football star in high school and Imogen was the middle-class, weird nerd. But for some reason Wilder found himself drawn to her and he pursued her… despite having a girlfriend, Melissa. Wilder would take Imogen to secret locations and have sex with her in the back of his dad’s car over and over again, but once school was in session, she ceased to exist. Imogen had to watch Wilder making out with Melissa in school, had to hear about the gifts he would send her for holidays (like when he drove over two hours to get Melissa a gift he couldn’t find close by), but apparently Imogen got the better gift: his dick. This lasts months until Imogen finally realizes that Wilder will never break up with Melissa, so she threatens to tell her unless he does. Wilder doesn’t take that well.

“And you think she’s gonna believe you? […] You think that, if you, Imogen Gustavo, tell literally anyone in the whole school that you’ve been screwing me, they’ll believe you?”

He proceeds to tell Imogen he couldn’t give a shit if she leaves, because he’ll just start fucking Melissa finally.

She thinks I’m going to break up with Melissa – my picture-perfect cheerleader girlfriend – for her, the weird nerd.

********************************************************************************

Hell, no. Imogen can barely string two sentences together when she’s in a group of people. I can’t tell my friends that she’s my girlfriend, I can’t take her on dates and shit. No one would ever talk to me again.

********************************************************************************

At worst, Melissa will come to me, crying prettily, and ask me if it’s true and I’ll say of course not. I’ll wipe away her tears and it’ll be everyone’s word against Imogen’s, and in a couple of months maybe I’ll get up her short little cheerleading skirt.

Imogen does tell Melissa by showing her a sound recording she accidentally made of Wilder giving her oral. Melissa freaks and steals Imogen’s phone, then returns it. Not long after, Prom happens. Wilder and Melissa win king and queen, and as they’re in the middle of their dance, the recording comes on over the sound system. But only Imogen can be heard, since Wilder altered his part out. Imogen runs out as Wilder smirks at her.

Accurate portrayal of what I wanted to do to Wilder at that moment.

Imogen never returns to that high school.

Seventeen years old or not, Wilder was beyond cruel. I don’t care if he was young and spoiled and under parental pressure, he lacked all sense of morality. And the entire ten years they’re apart he spent hating Imogen and blaming her for what happened. That’s why when they’re reunited as adults, he’s just as cruel as ever. He insults her parents.

“Your parents finally win the lottery? I used to see them always buying tickets.”
“No.”
“I had a feeling they still hadn’t quite made it.”

He flirts with and gropes the flight attendant he’s been screwing in front of Imogen hoping to make her jealous. He contemplates leaving her while passed out unconscious after the plane crashes. After they’re rescued he makes an attempt of getting Imogen to give him a chance, but she doesn’t believe he’s changed and tells him no. He gets pissed and immediately thinks this:

I want to find another woman here – literally any woman would do – seduce her in five minutes, tell her my name just so she’d scream it loud enough for Imogen to hear when I fucked her. I want to pull someone’s hair and imagine Imogen, on the other side of the wall, crying.

Yeah, how dare she not believe he’s changed and that she could trust him??  *Sarcasm*

Imogen does make him grovel a bit and rejects him 2x, but more people deserved to know how shitty he treated her. He should’ve shouted from the rooftops what a dick he’d been, but sadly Imogen caves after a few weeks of him skyping her almost daily. Because it proved he was “invested”.

Despite somewhat redeeming himself as a person by the end, I can accept that Imogen forgave him, but I can’t accept that she gave him a chance romantically. People change with time/age, but if he was able to be so callous before, he could do it again. I would never be able to trust the hero, and I can’t believe the heroine could either.

The only reason I didn’t DNF was because the story is well-written and researched. And I did like Imogen’s excitement over her profession, but that doesn’t come close to making up for what I had to suffer through with the hero. 

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Positively Pricked by Sabrina Stark

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Positively Pricked
375 pages
2.5 ⭐⭐

Jane and Zane meet under less than positive circumstances. Other than having practically the exact same name, Zane and Jane have nothing in common. She’s a lowly catering assistant with a heart of gold, and Zane is an arrogant billionaire that seemingly takes pride in his heartless ways. So it’s no surprise that Jane manages to lose her job shortly after working at one of Zane’s parties and he’s the one behind it. After a confrontation or two, Jane finally has an interview; unfortunately it’s at one of Zane’s hotels. Expecting to speak with an HR rep or kitchen manager, Jane’s shocked when she’s sent to Zane’s office and immediately offered a position as his personal PR manager.

I speed read the first 30% of the book since the hero was so off-putting and his manwhore history was brought up by every female the heroine spoke to. At that point I slowed down since the hero and heroine were finally going to be spending a lot of time together. And they did, but it was purely as employee/employer. It took until the 70% mark before they even admitted their feelings for each other all the while the hero was parading countless other women in front of the heroine. He even had a scheduled date with another woman the night before they admitted their feelings to each other. During all of this, Zane’s super possessive of Jane. He scared other men away and let his employees think she’s his mistress (his mistress that must be exclusive to him, but not him to her).

He had his cake and ate it too.

I liked Jane. She stood up to Zane and didn’t bow to him simply because he was rich and hot. She should’ve made him grovel more for his treatment of her, though. Zane was a prick, but he was sometimes sweet to Jane and by the end of the book it’s realized that most rumors about him are either untrue or exaggerated. Except for the ones about his playboy ways, those were true. 

I’m sure plenty of readers will love this book, because it is well written and edited, but the hero and heroine didn’t spend enough time together for me.

Safety:H with OW after knowing and liking the heroine. They’re exclusive once they’re officially an item (which isn’t until the 94% mark, btw.) 

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Naughty Boss by Whitney G.

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Naughty Boss
127 pages
2 ⭐⭐

Another manwhore and (unconfirmed but I’m like 99.9% sure) celibate heroine. At least he was celibate after meeting her. Too bad he still tried to get it on with other women in the meantime but his poor little woody-woo just couldn’t get into it because his saucy executive assistant was so damn hot.

The heroine had a decent backbone. Until the hero whipped his dick out, then her brain melted and dripped down her body to form one super brain located at her coochina.

And can the guy be the one embarrassed for a change? I’m so tired of the heroines looking like brainless dunces in front of the oh so sexy heroes. I mean, this chick was almost definitely making six-figures, yet she managed to send her boss the email where she bitches about him whilst drooling over his wizard-wand of a cock that she meant to send to her best friend. She doesn’t do this just once though, she does it TWICE. C’mon, heroine whose name I’ve already forgotten in the forty minutes since I finished the book. Get your shit together.

Oh, and there were editing and factual errors (like families skating at Rockefeller Center at 3am. What parents would take their kids skating at 3 frickin am?), but I won’t even get into that right now…