BOOK REVIEW: Deacon by Kristen Ashley

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Deacon has an ugly history, a history that broke him, leaving him a ghost of a man. Out of necessity, he left the normal world to descend into the criminal world and found he fit. So he stayed. Cold as ice and living off the grid, Deacon has no intention to connect, not with anyone.

Then he returns to some remote cabins in the Colorado Mountains and finds they have new owners. One of them is Cassidy Swallow, a young woman willing to work hard to live her quiet dream in a house by a river surrounded by aspen and pine.

Suddenly, Deacon finds he’s at war. Cassidy’s pull for him to connect is strong. He fights it, but he loses, always coming back for more. But when he does, he gives her nothing.

From the first time she sees him, Cassidy knows Deacon is dead inside. She knows he’s the kind of man who could destroy a woman. But one night when Deacon’s control slips, Cassidy takes a chance.

He might break her. He also might be her dream come true.

review

“Not easy, fightin’ your pull. Wantin’ to be right here. Knowin’ I was no good for you. Prayin’ you’d get a man so when I’d come back I’d have a reason to stay away.”

Some fires don’t ignite at first contact, it might take some time and patience to get that first spark and see it turn into a bright flame, but once it starts burning, you feel its heat all the way down to your bones, seeping in, infusing you with its warmth, and making you wish it’d never lose its glow. That is the way I see the story of Cassidy and Deacon. A slow burning romance igniting over almost a decade in time, this is a love story that is not designed to set your pulse racing, or make you feel like your heart has gone through a spin cycle. This is a story to warm your heart, soothe it, give it hope, and it stands to show that the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is not always correct.

“… cabin eleven was home to me for a few days every year, the only home I had, ‘cause you were there.”

We meet Cassidy in her early twenties—a young woman fresh out of college whose dream of living a quiet life and running a small group of cabins for hire in the midst of the Colorado wilderness has taken her away from her family in Oklahoma and made her invest all of herself into making her vision a reality. The cabins are run down, her live-in boyfriend is no help at all and a constant financial liability, her daily life revolves entirely around fixing the cabins up, improving them, caring for them and her patrons, leaving little time to do much else, and yet Cassidy never loses motivation. Her little business remains a constant source of pride and fulfilment because in the middle of “rock, pine, aspen, columbine, fireweed, wild iris, and glacier lily” is exactly where she has dreamed of living ever since her parents took her there on a skiing trip when she was thirteen years old.

“I had a near-overwhelming urge to go to him and wrap my arms around him. Tight. And maybe never let go. For eternity.”

Shortly after buying the cabins, she meets John Priest, her first visitor—a man whose emotionless face and rugged looks scare her at first, but also seem to draw her inexplicably to him. Five months pass before she sees him again, and when he returns, Cassidy is single and living alone in the middle of the Colorado mountains, her heart a little bit more lonely than the last time they saw each other, but her dream still driving her forward and her business slowly thriving as a result. And so for the next four years they maintain a routine—John Priest always showing up unannounced, always renting the same cabin, and his sporadic visits never lasting more than a few days—but as much as Cassidy tries to get closer to him, to break though the ice with small acts of kindness and friendliness, he remains an impenetrable, unmovable mystery.

“We don’t change. You’re a good woman, Cassidy. But we don’t change.”

Until one night changes everything. Changes them both. And Cassidy finally meets Deacon, the man behind the ghost that is John Priest. They do not get to know one another by probing each other with endless questions, instead allowing their bodies and their hearts to lead the way. Cassidy still knows very little about the man now sharing her bed every night, or how long he would eventually stick around, but her every instinct tells her to trust him with her heart. To risk it all even for a fleeting chance of being happy in his arms.

“I knew down to my bones I couldn’t bear a life of longing for him, wondering how it could have been if he gave me what he was offering me right now at that moment. The chance to get in.”

And this is where this story becomes quite a departure from any previous Kristen Ashley romances. The slow pace, coupled with a very unique balance between the main characters, is what makes this story so realistic and relatable on so many levels. The physical aspect of their relationship is what moves the entire relationship forward, deepening their intimacy, strengthening the trust between them. Deacon’s job still frequently takes him away for prolonged periods of time, testing that trust, but he always returns to Cassidy, and she always welcomes him back.

“In this bed, out of it. Naked or not. No boundaries. All in. Nothin’ held back.”

As Deacon slowly disengages himself from his old life, there are demons from his past that he cannot let go of, thus risking everything he has built with Cassidy. This is a story about trust as much as it is about love—a man learning to trust himself with a woman again, a man needing time to become ready to accept what is right in front of him, and a woman who gave him just that—time—guiding him out of his own darkness simply by loving him no matter what and trusting her own heart with him. Cassidy’s patience and persistence made her one of the strongest heroines I have ever had the pleasure of finding, the true measure of her character being her ability to forgive, to risk her own heart time after time because she recognized something rare in Deacon, and she held onto that dream until the very end. I greedily wished we could have delved even more into her pain at times, as those moments of sorrow would have added a further facet onto a truly magnificent female lead.

“… there would always be a part of me that would long for him. There would always be thoughts in the back of my mind plaguing me, haunting me, making me wonder, if he let me in, even just a little, how it could have been.”

It seems that Kristen Ashley can do no wrong in my eyes because I keep falling in love with her stories book after book, connecting with the characters heart and soul. I love stories that focus on less-than-perfect heroes, good men who have made mistakes in their lives, who do not trust or give their hearts easily, and I especially love when these stories also explore the connection between love and trust in a relationship, specifically relating to the sexual aspect of that relationship. I read this book in one sitting, and it felt like I took one breath and didn’t exhale until the very last page.

And I probably should have mentioned that the characters are into bondage… Can these stories get any better?!

“Love is trust, Cassie, you taught me that.”

4halfstars

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Unfinished Hero – Recommended Reading Order and Purchase Links
(standalone stories with interconnected characters
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KnightAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Creed: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
RaidMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Deacon: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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The Author

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Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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BOOK REVIEW: Lead by Kylie Scott

Lead

As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it’s booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.

Lena’s not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry.

But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.

review

“I don’t know why the f*ck I put up with you.”
I shrugged. “No, me neither. But you keep paying me so I keep hanging around.”

She’s done it again! Kylie Scott has given us another absolutely flawless instalment in the Stage Dive series and this one just might be my new favourite. It’s a story that made me laugh as many times as it made my heart clench, and every part of it, every single word was just perfect. There are scenes I have read so many times, I could recite them by heart, and on every single re-read I experienced a new emotion, saw a new side of the characters’ multifaceted personalities. This is in essence a story of unrequited love, of two people falling for one another very differently—with different perceptions of their own rapidly growing feelings for each other and with different emotional capacities to deal with those feelings. I loved being in these characters’ heads, loved dissecting their strengths and weaknesses, and I absolutely adored how much attention was paid to the natural progression of their relationship. This book is the very best example of the kind of story that leaves me breathless and makes me never want to stop reading.

“Fancy falling for someone you didn’t even particularly like half the damn time. Who did something so stupid?”

Lena Morrissey stopped believing in love when her heart could no longer bear the constant disappointment from always falling for the wrong kind of man. She is sarcastic, strong-willed, and she does not let others walk all over her, even if her stubbornness ends up costing her her job. But when her outspoken, sassy personality is the very reason she is offered to become a live-in assistant for the lead singer of Stage Dive, she is not sure whether this is a joke or the best thing that has ever happened to her. Shortly after meeting the grumpy and yet utterly irresistible rocker, however, she fears she might be in more trouble than she ever bargained for.

“Verbally sparring with Jimmy was fast becoming more fun than I’d had with most other men naked.”

Jimmy Ferris’ perfectly groomed appearance might give him an air of poise and self-control, but behind closed doors Jimmy is moody, hot-tempered, hard to live with on the best of days. His poor emotional coping skills have resulted in addictions that cost him dearly and almost made him lose everything he has ever valued in life. Unable to work with any of his past sobriety companions, he is coerced by his bandmates into hiring Lena into that role, knowing all too well that he has met his match. His dynamic with Lena is one of constant bickering, both personally as well as professionally, but when faced with his first meltdown while in his employ, she proves to be the only person he trusts to see his deepest fears and triggers. He lets his defences down with her, showing her the man very few people in his life get to see, and their bond grows.

“Don’t hate me, Lena,” he whispered. “You want to be mad at me when I do dumb things, that’s fine. But don’t ever hate me. I couldn’t take that, not from you.”

As their relationship changes over time and Jimmy begins to depend on her strength in his darkest moments, so does Lena’s growing infatuation with her boss. She falls in love with him silently, reluctantly, fully aware that she should not be feeling that way, but incapable of fighting it. She knows that he would not return those feelings, so she hides them, pines after him secretly and pretends that nothing has changed between them. But when her secret is no longer that and their working arrangement is at risk of ending, the only solution to their predicament is to find ways to make Lena ‘get over’ her crush… even when the only thing that remains to try is to sleep with one another.

“Lena, focus. What was the frown for?”
I stared at his cock, mesmerized. Even incased in rubber it remained a thing of true beauty. Had I any talent with a pen, I’d have written in poems. A haiku perhaps.
“Lena?”
I was hypnotized, helpless. Cock-struck.

One of the main strengths of this story is the way the author shaped these characters, subtly but impeccably, and the way she made their differences the very thing that makes them so perfect for each other. She gave us a plus-sized heroine whose physical appearance in no way defines her as a sexual woman or diminishes her fearless personality. And then she gave us a hero who is physically flawless, but a complete mess inside, unable to cope with emotional closeness and harbouring unresolved abandonment issues. Their every interaction is explosive, hilarious, unforgettable. As a couple, they clash at every turn and yet they make complete sense. The dialogues in this story, as in all the previous books in the series, are simply fantastic, carrying Ms Scott’s signature humour in almost every character interaction. They are clever, unforced, and always fresh. I simply couldn’t get enough of them.

I rarely find myself loving and connecting with every layer of a given story, but in this case, I truly adored every last word. This series keeps getting better and better, which is rather scary since it was perfect from the very beginning. An absolute, super enjoyable must-read.

“You okay?” I asked.
A nod.
“Feeling a little emotional, huh?” I petted his hair. “That’s okay. It was an emotional blow job.”

5stars

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Stage Dive – Recommended Reading Order and Purchase Links
LICK_new play Lead Deep
Lick: My Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Play: My Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Lead: Amazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA | Paperback
Deep: Amazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA | Paperback (6 Jan 2015)
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The Author

Kylie is a long time fan of erotic love stories and B-grade horror films. She demands a happy ending and if blood and carnage occur along the way then all the better. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and one delightful husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

Connect with Kylie: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire

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Fiercely independent Camille “Cami” Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn’t have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with a first weekend off in almost a year.

Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt.

Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlor to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red.

As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever—even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.

In the first installment of the Maddox Brothers books, readers can experience the rush of reading Beautiful Disaster for the first time, all over again.

review

“I’ve had a lifetime of wrong. You’re the only thing that’s right.”

I should probably start this review with a small confession—I was not a Beautiful Disaster groupie when everyone was proclaiming their undying love for Travis “Mad Dog” Maddox and naming their daughters Abby. Not because I did not like it, but simply because I never read it when it was first released, and thus never embraced the craze. As curiosity got the better of me and I finally decided to dive in, while I appreciated why this story was loved so desperately by so many readers out there, I think I was too old to swoon over nineteen-year-old bad boys and obsessive first loves. But I totally got it. I got why this story, this tumultuous type of relationship, appealed to such a wide and varied audience, and how it earned such a loyal cult following by providing the reader with the type of escapism that reminds us all of our first loves, of how impetuous our young hearts once were, and of how crazy and hot-headed that first rush of hormones truly made us. This book, once more, is a reminder of it all, albeit on a more subdued level, but still succeeding in re-awakening the memory of those troublesome years when we were finding ourselves, our place in the world around us, and navigating through life on our own for the very first time, regularly losing ourselves in the oblivion of it all. And all the while adamantly believing that every feeling, every emotion, every mind-blowing ‘first’ was the sum of all we would ever get to experience in life.

“No one has ever wanted someone as much as I want you.”

As we return to the delicious world of the Maddox brothers and the young women who steal their hearts at last, we finally get to know Trenton “Trent” Maddox, Travis’ elder brother and the son their widowed father depends on the most. A bad boy of sorts just like his younger brother, Trent’s heavily tattooed façade and hot temper give the impression of walking through life without feeling deeply or becoming emotionally attached to anyone, but nothing could be further from the truth. Beneath this defiant mask hides a sensitive and heartbroken young man whose fear of experiencing loss again, coupled with never having faced his past traumas, have made him a brewing pit of anger and irritability. But just like every fire has a source, every yin has its yang, and Trent’s ‘antidote’ comes in the form of a brown-haired pixie with curves in all the right places and an outspoken personality to match.

“It’s a small town. You shouldn’t have burned all of your bridges.”
“There’s a few I haven’t lit a fire under. Yet.”

Camille “Cami” Camlin is the girl next door, the oldest child and only girl in a family of all boys, a young woman whose confidence does not stem from the effect she has on the opposite sex, but rather from her self-awareness and determination to be independent in life. And unlike most females of her age, she has remained impervious to the Maddox charm while growing up, and even more so in her early twenties as she has watched them add notch after notch to their headboards. Trent and Cami have known each other all their lives, but were never friends as such. His reputation has always preceded him and thus made him an unwelcome dating candidate in her eyes.

“I’d seen him flirt, seduce, and evade since we were kids. There was absolutely no trick Trenton Maddox could play that I wouldn’t be ready for.”

However, when a Maddox sets his mind on something, he is not to be easily persuaded to change it, and once he enters Cami’s life, Trent is there to stay. Ignoring all her insistent attempts to drive him away and discourage his efforts, he makes himself at home in her daily life, becoming a friend she didn’t know she needed, loyal and protective, all the while not making it secret that he wishes for more. Or that not even Cami’s long distance relationship with a boyfriend she rarely sees would deter him from pursuing her.

“I was just thinking now was as good a time as any to acknowledge that you’re perfect and it wouldn’t suck if you fell madly in love with me anytime soon.”
“I have a boyfriend.”
“Speed bump.”

The more time they spend with one another, and the more he treats her as if the world revolved around her, the more she starts questioning everything else in her life and facing it all one by one. Trent represents the mess, impulsiveness and uncertainty her past has taught her to fear and avoid at all costs, but he is also the mirror of many qualities she has always wished to eradicate in herself, and the more she allows herself to accept him as he is and all that he embodies, the more she starts accepting those traits in herself, no longer perceiving them as flaws. On the other hand, Cami is a grounding force for Trent’s volatile Maddox gene, his desire to make her love him making him want to be the type of man to deserve her affections. They are opposites in so many ways, and yet when they are together, those differences are what makes them so perfect for one another.

“Have you ever wanted something that you knew you shouldn’t have? That it was wrong on every level, but you knew you needed it?”

This is in essence a story of two people becoming each other’s passage into adulthood by giving one another the courage to grow up and face their fears. It’s a story that held me enthralled from the very beginning, happy as a clam to indulge in the simplicity of the fantasy of a ‘bad boy’ falling for the ‘good girl’, of a boy pursuing a girl relentlessly, shamelessly and with all his might. I did feel throughout the entire story, however, like I was missing a vital clue, a key of sorts to unlock the motivation behind the heroine’s actions, and I have to admit that until the very last page, she was a paradox to me. But then everything came together all of a sudden, the puzzle pieces all magically falling into place and I found myself speechless, frantically cataloguing the clues we were given unsuspectingly, and finally understanding her character. A few gaps in the story still left me wishing they had been explored and capitalised on more to make it an even more cohesive and emotionally richer storyline, especially references to past events that clearly affected the characters in a way that they now needed to overcome them. But I am hoping that subsequent instalments in this brand new series will fill those gaps and that as we got a new glimpse into Travis and Abby’s story, we will get a similar one into Trent and Cami’s as well.

This book is an absolute treat for the Beautiful Disaster fans out there, old and new, and one cannot help but fall in love with yet another Maddox brother. It left me greedy for more and with a sudden interest in getting “cashmere comfortable”.

“I’m a f*ckup, but I’m going to get it figured out. I swear. Just . . . don’t give up on me, okay?”

4stars

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Maddox Brothers is a spin-off of the Beautiful Disaster series
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Beautiful Disaster: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Walking DisasterAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
A Beautiful Wedding (novella): My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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BOOK REVIEW: Alpha by Jasinda Wilder

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The first time it happened, it seemed like an impossible miracle. Bills were piling up, adding up to more money than I could ever make. Mom’s hospital bills. My baby brother’s tuition. My tuition. Rent. Electricity. All of it on my shoulders. And I had just lost my job. There was no hope, no money in my account, no work to be found. And then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I found an envelope in the mail. No return address. My name on the front, my address. Inside was a check, made out to me, in the amount of ten thousand dollars. Enough to pay the bills and leave me some left over to live on until I found a job. Enough to let me focus on classes. There was no name on the check, just “VRI Inc.,” and a post office box address for somewhere in the city. No hint of identity or reason for the check or anything. No mention of repayment, interest, nothing…except a single word, on the notes line: “You.” Just those three letters.

If you receive a mysterious check, for enough money to erase all your worries, would you cash it?

I did.

The next month, I received another check, again from VRI Incorporated. It too contained a single word: “belong.”

A third check, the next month. This time, two words. Four letters. “To me.”

The checks kept coming. The notes stopped. Ten thousand dollars, every month. A girl gets used to that, real quick. It let me pay the bills without going into debt. Let me keep my baby brother in school and Mom’s hospice care paid for. How do you turn down what seems like free money, when you’re desperate? You don’t. I didn’t.

And then, after a year, there was a knock on my door. A sleek black limousine sat on the curb in front of my house. A driver stood in front of me, and he spoke six words: “It’s time to pay your debt.”

Would you have gotten in?

I did.

It turns out $120,000 doesn’t come free.

review

“You’re here because I own you, Kyrie.”

It is with great sadness and disappointment that I write this review today. I have loved every single book that I have ever read by this particular author, her stories always having the power to transport me into a world where all my senses are heightened, my emotions no longer my own, a world where I become one with the characters. However, that was not the case with this book. From reading the excerpts, I was certain this story would be right up my alley, never doubting for a second my overall enjoyment of it. But I guess not all stories are for everyone, and this one simply was not the one for me.

“I own you but you will submit to me willingly.”

The premise of the book itself is pure brilliance. Kyrie, a girl struggling to make ends meet—the only provider for a mother who requires constant medical attention, and a younger brother who is still in college—receives a mysterious but desperately needed cheque in the mail with no accompanying explanation. The cheques keep arriving month after month, their substantial value allowing Kyrie not to worry about money for the first time in her adult life, but the mystery behind them never lessens, four cryptic words on the first three cheques making it certain that nothing in life comes for free: You Belong To Me. And that there would come a day when someone would eventually come to collect.

“What—what are you going to do to me?”
“Everything. But nothing you won’t enjoy.”

A year later, her ‘benefactor’ sends for her, her compliance never being in question as the alternative of paying back the funds is unfeasible, and so the real mystery begins. A world of opulence and luxury, her every need and want met, an excessively affluent but tenaciously private man behind it all, whose attentiveness is only matched by his insistence on withholding his identity from her and gaining her trust first—the story is unravelled slowly and methodically, the chemistry between them being and remaining the focal point of the story itself.

“Have you ever really given yourself to a man before? I don’t think you have. And certainly never to a man like me.”

And so we set sail on this erotic adventure with no known course ahead of us or compass to guide us, no clue whether it would be a bumpy ride or relatively calm waters all the way, simply letting ourselves indulge in every scintillating interaction between the main characters, the constant enigma of the whole situation designed to keep our hearts racing page after page. It is a story of sexual discovery as much as it is a mystery for us to unveil, Kyrie’s gradual but willing submission to a man she knows nothing about except her own body’s reaction to him driving the story forward and setting its pace. It is first and foremost a game of sexual frustration and domination, the erotic component of the storyline overshadowing all others, even character development at times, leaving no doubt in my mind as a reader that the purpose of this story is to titillate the senses, rather than engage the mind.

“You can scream as loud as you want, sweet thing. No one can hear you.”

Regrettably, though, my senses remained unaffected. As ‘out there’ as some sex scenes were, I failed to feel anything more than a slight shiver from time to time, their mood never quite reaching my sensory receptors. And I was desperate to FEEL. I found myself wanting to skim over the most intimate scenes between them, making me question my own sanity in the process. I never connected with either of the leading characters, nothing in their given traits appealing to me on a personal level or making me understand their actions. Their behaviour felt erratic, disjointed at times, the heroine’s in particular as hers is the only voice we get to hear. Her awkward internal monologues designed to give us an insight into her feelings and doubts made me cringe, their pseudo-philosophical tone sounding out of place and forced to serve the storyline rather than providing a foundation for it. I never understood either character, simple as that, and I wish more time had been spent on moulding them into credible human beings instead of inundating our heads with unnecessary references to pop culture, garments worn by the characters or exclusive brand names. They added nothing to the overall mood of the scenes, other than a level of superficiality that I am not sure this story demanded. The entire story overflows with details, conflicting ones at times, and lacks the actual ‘glue’ keeping it together.

“It looked a bit like the dress Jennifer Lawrence wore to the SAG awards.”

When the time came to ‘assemble’ it all, the backstory plotline felt sudden and rushed, almost as if it did not belong in this book, and I walked away dissatisfied, unmoved, frustrated, never wanting to hear the words you are mine again in my life. And I am still unhappy. I am unhappy that this story is so inconsistent with this author’s previous works, I am unhappy that this industry is tailoring the stories that are written rather than the other way around, and I am unhappy that I am unhappy. Because all I sought was an escape and the only thing I wanted to escape from were these characters. But I also have no doubt in my mind that this book will find its willing audience that will love every moment of it.

2halfstars

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BOOK REVIEW: Play by Kylie Scott

playMal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl.

Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?

review

“Whatever you’re imagining, it’s bigger.”
“I’m not imagining anything.”
“I’m serious. It’s basically a monster. I cannot control it.”
“Malcolm—“
“You’re pretty much going to need a whip and chair to tame it, Anne.”

This book should come with a medical warning because I’m pretty certain that I strained a couple of stomach muscles while reading it! Who would have thought that a sexy rocker romance would also become one of the funniest books I have ever read? A love story first and foremost, this is a book that had me in stitches and made me devour its pages like I was starving for them. A brilliant sequel to an all-time favourite, this book can be summarised in one word – MAL.

“He’s kind of like a puppy on steroids. Doesn’t know his own strength.”

Mal Ericson is the ever-popular Stage Dive drummer, known for his easygoing personality and his filter-free mouth. He is the light of every party, the incorrigible flirt who sleeps with women but never dates them, but he is also the peacekeeper in the band, the one who injects humour into every situation and manages to diffuse tempers even when all they feel like doing is rip each other apart. But behind every did-he-just-say-that type of ‘Mal-inism’ hides a man who is a lot more profound and sensitive than he lets others believe. Mal is a man who allows very few people in his life to see past his comedic façade, until one woman catches his attention and completely throws him out of his element.

“Why does everyone insist on being heavy all the f*cking time? Life’s too short for all this over-sharing. You’re here. I’m here. We can help each other out and have a good time while we’re at it. That’s all that matters.”

Anne is a woman who has put her entire life on hold and her every dream aside to make sure her sister would not suffer the same fate. She is a born giver, someone who rarely says ‘no’ to people and who always puts the needs of those she cares for before her own. Her indiscriminate generosity and willingness to help others has brought her to the point of facing eviction, and yet she remains determined to make it on her own in life and keep caring for the ones she loves. When she meets Mal at one of the band’s many parties, she is starstruck by the object of her every teenage fantasy, but even more surprised by his obvious interest in her. And yet, as ‘crazy eyed’ as she gets around him, she does not fuss over him or indulge his antics, making her the perfect type of woman in Mal’s eyes.

The very next day, Anne finds herself with a new roommate, a pretend-boyfriend and more public attention than she ever bargained for. And that is when the Mal Ericson ‘one man show’ takes off and I seriously suggest warming those stomach muscles beforehand because every word that comes out of his mouth is hilarious.

“I’m not sure I can stick my dick in a woman who doesn’t even know who John Bonham is.”
“Stick your dick in?” … “Did you actually just say that?”
“Make love. I meant make love…of course. I would never just stick my dick in you. I would make mad passionate love to this sweet, sweet body of yours for days, no weeks. It would be beautiful, pumpkin. There’d be little angels, and birdies, and you know… all just hanging around, watching. Perverts.”

They pretend, they tease each other, they play the roles they’ve agreed on, but as their attraction grows and every touch, every kiss becomes more real, soon neither of them is faking their feelings anymore. And as one of them faces one of life’s cruellest heartbreaks, they are forced to learn very quickly what it means to be a couple, and that loving someone means no longer having to suffer alone.

A truly well-rounded and flawlessly written story of two complete opposites attracting and becoming each other’s unexpected happy ending, this is a book that I will want to re-read any chance I get. If I could have asked for one thing to make it even more perfect in my eyes, I would have wished for a heroine who made a man like Mal work a bit more for her affections, made him ‘sweat’ on occasion, and not always forgive his actions so easily, but when it comes to a book like this one, a book that you cannot help but thoroughly enjoy cover to cover, any wishful thinking is a pure act of reader’s greed. This is a splendid marriage of romance and comedy, a possibly even better book than its stellar prequel, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes their love stories with a side of giggles.

“Life’s a song, Anne. Let’s play.”

5stars

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Stage Dive – Recommended Reading Order and Purchase Links
LICK_new play Lead Deep
Lick: My Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Play: My Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Lead: Amazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA | Paperback
Deep: Amazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA | Paperback
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The Author

Kylie is a long time fan of erotic love stories and B-grade horror films. She demands a happy ending and if blood and carnage occur along the way then all the better. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and one delightful husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

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BOOK REVIEW: A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire

abeautifulwedding

You know that Abby Abernathy unexpectedly became Mrs. Maddox. But what do you really know?

Why did Abby pop the question?

What secrets were shared before the ceremony?

Where did they spend their wedding night?

Who else knew about it . . . and didn’t tell?

Everything about Abby and Travis’s elopement was top-secret . . . until now.

Fans of Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster will get all of their questions answered in this whirlwind tale of the wedding day (and night!) – and as with all good stories, this one will definitely have been worth the wait.

review

“We mirrored each other’s cheesy grins. I didn’t care that we must have looked absolutely ridiculous. It was like we were getting ready to jump off the highest high dive into the deepest river that fed into the most magnificent, terrifying waterfall, right onto the best and most fantastic roller coaster in the universe. Times ten.”

Those who know me well might know how afraid and fairly unwilling I have been to read Beautiful Disaster. I was late to that ‘party’, aware only of all the hype surrounding the book, its resident bad boy, and some of the themes that left me certain I would find them questionable as well, so I put it aside, pretended it didn’t exist, never really planning on jumping on the ‘Travis Maddox train’. But, like in most things in life, when enough trusted people tell you that you HAVE to do something, you start questioning your resolve and eventually take the plunge into something that equally terrifies and intrigues you. And let me be honest with you, the story I read was so very different to what I had expected to find. As much as I wanted to keep some of my reservations, it didn’t take very long for me to become so totally absorbed in the story and its characters, so much that it was impossible not to become invested in them. This is not a story that was intended to become a ‘how-to’ manual on dating, or a lesson in young adult behaviour – this is pure and utter escapism in its most distilled form. It’s a winning formula in character development that will find its audience in every reader, young or old, who gets a thrill whenever a bad boy is ‘tamed’ by a good girl in a book. And it certainly helps when the bad boy falls so hard for the girl, that his entire perception of life changes. Beautiful Disaster was a book I loved, it took me on an emotional journey that I did not expect when I first started it, and it kept surprising and moving me page after page. Now, I admit that there was a scene or two I wish had been thought out a bit more, putting greater emphasis on its potential readership, but I honestly felt that they did not warrant more than a passing concern as they fit the storyline, stayed true to the characterisation of the main players, and at the end of the day, they fed the overall fantasy that the book was offering to us. So, if you are like me and have stayed away from this story thinking you wouldn’t like it, rest assured, this is a book that deserves all the praise it got and still keeps getting from readers because once it grabs you, you will not stop daydreaming about it.

“The only thing I’m afraid of is a life without you, Pigeon.”

Having said all that, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted and needed to read the novella that expands on one of the most beautiful but also skimmed over moments in the book – the wedding. We know Abby and Travis got married in Vegas, we know what events led them to that decision, but this time, we get to find out why Abby proposed to Travis in the first place, what was going through their minds during those twenty-four hours, the doubts, the fears, and of course, we get their first wedding night as Mr and Mrs Maddox.

“He was mine, and I was his. If I knew anything at all, it was that only those two things mattered.”

The story begins moments after the fire at Keaton Hall, the emotional aftermath of that tragedy still very present in Abby and Travis’ minds. They are grateful to be alive and to have come out of it unscathed, but they mourn and struggle with the guilt from knowing so many of their classmates were not so lucky. As TV coverage of the fire scene keeps those wounds open and only exacerbates their guilt, Abby also finds herself terrified of losing Travis. She knows the authorities would do all in their power to name a culprit, and she is not prepared to allow for Travis to be that man. So she proposes… and he accepts. Hoping that a wedding would be seen as the last thing a guilty man would be doing after such an ordeal, she takes Travis away to Las Vegas with the intent of marrying him, all the while saving him from prison being her main concern.

“If I pulled the wedding off, and kept Travis out of prison without him knowing why, it would be my best bluff yet.”

What Abby does not expect are the feelings that come along with the impending marriage, the subtle doubts, the fear of losing the man she would do anything to save, the sudden realisation that she is going to be married at nineteen years old. But for every doubt there is a much stronger certainty in her heart that loves like theirs don’t come along every day and that there is nothing she wishes more than to be forever tied to the love of her life.

“A Maddox boy will take you all the way to the edge, but if you go with him, he’ll follow you anywhere.”

As this wedding is the culmination of all of Travis’ wildest dreams, we get to see a slightly different, a lot more settled version of this young man. He is still constantly afraid of losing Abby, but he no longer seems to need violence as a venting mechanism. He is calm, confident in his feelings for the woman he wishes to marry, and his joy is contagious.

“I’m probably not going to make sense for the next six months while I try to process the fact that I’ve gotten everything I’ve ever wanted.”

I truly never expected for a novella to affect me as much as this one has, and I most certainly did not expect it to be so emotionally multi-layered. It is the perfect marriage of angst and fairy-tale-like romance, a conclusion like no other to a story that has paved the way for so many others in the New Adult genre, by giving us a story that you’d connect with at any given age and a bad boy you cannot help but love and cheer for. If you loved Beautiful Disaster, this has to be your next read.

I must say that breaking my own rules and going back on my word has never tasted as sweet.

“You’ve changed everything. You’re tomorrow. You’re the apocalypse.”

5stars

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Beautiful – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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walkingdisaster
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Beautiful Disaster: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
Walking Disaster: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
A Beautiful Wedding (novella): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
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BOOK REVIEW: Falling by E.K. Blair

FALLINGSometimes it takes someone else to show us what we are truly capable of becoming.

Suffering from years of violent abuse, Ryan Campbell has learned how to keep people from getting too close. But when you shut yourself off, people get hurt along the way. Never caring much about others, Ryan creates a world in which he doesn’t have to feel.

When Ryan meets Candace Parker, all of his walls slowly begin to crumble. Not sure of the truth of who she is, he feels his mind is playing tricks on him. Unable to force out the thoughts that consume him, Ryan is haunted by visions that torment him every time he looks at her. He finds himself swallowed by guilt and blame, but he’s unwilling to turn his back on the one person that could possibly save him.

You’ve heard Candace’s story in Fading, now hear Ryan’s.

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“I’m sure she can hear my heart pounding, but I need her to hear me. I need her to feel it as it thuds in my chest because I need her to hear me falling for her, ‘cause that’s what’s happening here – I’m falling. I never wanted to before, but with her, all I want to do is fall. Fall into her. Fall so deep inside of her heart so that I never have to be without her.”

Revisiting an ‘old friend’ is always an exercise of apprehensive excitement for me, Fading being one of those perfect books in my eyes that very few stories have managed to match in intensity or overall impact on me as a reader. But while Ryan played a crucial role in that storyline, only ever hearing Candace’s voice made it a very unilateral account of a young woman’s battle to overcome a trauma. As much as I loved Candace as a heroine and felt every painful bit of her brave struggle to reclaim her life and herself in the process, hearing Ryan’s voice has been like a dream come true. This book follows the same timeline as Fading, even takes it a few steps ahead, but it is in no way a re-telling of those events. This is very much Ryan’s story, beginning to end, and while having read Candace’s story is a definite advantage as that knowledge fills the gaps that this book does not linger on, this is a unique account of a man falling in love for the first time in his life.

“All I know how to do is care for myself. I’m selfish just like he was. I’m not a provider the way a man should be; I’m a taker. I stay disconnected – and take.”

Ryan has lived an emotionally detached existence for most of his adult life, never really paying too much attention to the string of nameless faces that he bedded and never saw again. His history of abuse at the hand of his father have made him apprehensive of getting too close to a woman, always fearing that his father’s legacy of violence would run through his veins as well, given the right circumstances. His conquests stay short-lived, superficial and always free from expectations. Until one face is all he can think about – the shattered body of a young woman, beaten, raped and abandoned naked in the alleyway behind his bar. Her helplessness and the violence of what was done to her torment him day and night, those images etched in his mind, unable to escape them, and taking him back to his childhood through flashbacks of watching his mother being viciously beaten by his father.

“I’m him. He’s part of me. He runs through my blood. I hate him. I don’t want to be him, but I am.”

When Ryan first meets Candace, he immediately suspects she might be the same woman whose life he most probably saved that fated night, but the more he gets to know her and develops feelings for her, the more his mind refuses to believe it is her. Everything about her indicates that she has survived a life changing ordeal, but not having known her as the vibrant and cheerful young woman she once was, he explains her behavior to himself as shy and reserved. As you would carefully approach a wounded animal, he patiently waits for her to lower her defenses and let him into her life, following her lead as to how close he gets to her.

“She’s broken. I see it clearly, but whatever it is that’s haunting her, I wanna make it fade. I wanna make it fade and make her fall too – with me.”

As Candace slowly starts trusting Ryan and their mutual feelings for one another take centre stage, we watch them fall in love, one step at a time, cautiously but irreversibly. While in Candace’s book we watched a broken young woman learning to trust a man again and re-discovering and re-accepting her sexuality again, this time around, we stand witness to a man learning to love for the first time, discovering the selflessness and overwhelming helplessness that comes with those feelings, and finding a new purpose in life in the guarded but compassionate eyes of the woman before him.

“You’re everything I never thought I wanted, but when I met you, you were everything I needed.”

We might think we know this story, but the more we read it, the more we realise we never knew Ryan at all. I found myself enjoying being in his head a lot more than in Candace’s, his journey being one of inner change and discovering his own capacity to love, rather than one of recovery. He is a character I loved from the get-go, and while this book was a lot more narrative-driven rather than focused on the inner turmoil of a broken young woman, even his actions spoke volumes about the kind of man he is and how far he is willing to go for the woman he loves.

“I love this girl beyond anything. Love her from a place in my heart I never knew I had.”

A splendid conclusion to a stellar series, one that makes me want to stand up and applaud Ms Blair’s ability to tackle difficult themes with unquestionable skill and sensitivity. I give this book and the series as a whole my Six Stars of Excellence for consistently giving us stories that engage both our minds as well as our hearts, and for bravely paving her own way as an author who follows no one’s lead.

“When I met you, I found me.”

6stars

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Connect with E.K.: WebsiteFacebookGoodreads
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Fading – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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FALLING
Fading: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
Freeing: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
Falling: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
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The Giveaway

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BOOK REVIEW: Before We Fall by Courtney Cole

beforewefall_322x500Sometimes, one dark moment is all it takes to turn your world black…

For 24-year old Dominic Kinkaide, that moment took place on the night of his high school graduation. One dark incident changed him forever. He’s a hardened actor now, famous in the eyes of the world, but tortured in his own. He doesn’t care about much of anything, except for losing himself in the roles that he plays.

23-year old Jacey Vincent doesn’t realize how much her father’s indifference has affected her. She is proof that sometimes it isn’t one specific moment that wrecks a person, but rather it’s an absence of moments. She’s like a bird with a broken wing-strong yet fragile, as she tries to float through life, finding acceptance in the arms of random guys, one after the other… to fill the void that her father left in her.

Until she meets Dominic.

After jaded Dominic and strong-willed Jacey are thrown together, his secret and her issues create a dark and damaged energy that will soon turn their attraction to each other into an explosive storm.

Even though when the clouds have cleared and the dust has settled, both of them are almost obliterated… they’ve learned a priceless lesson.

Sometimes, before we fall… we fly.

review

“Don’t love me… Or I’ll break you. I won’t want to, but it will happen.”

Familiar authors rarely surprise me anymore, as I can usually foresee the bounds of their comfort zones, but I am gladly proven wrong from time to time and, let me tell you, this was definitely one of those occasions where I simply did not know what hit me. Never in a million years did I expect this author to so boldly delve into the taboo world of dark sexual fantasies by giving us a character that I wanted to kiss and punch all at the same time. This book was a thrilling ride from beginning to end I hope to see much more of such ‘boldness’ from someone I now call one of my favourite authors.

“I get off on watching other people’s pleasure. Or I get off when pain is involved. Or I get off when something is far, far over the line of normal. I don’t get off by my own participation.’

Dominic Kinkaide is a bad boy by name and an ever kinkier one by nature. World famous actor, adored by legions of women everywhere, he appears to have everything he could ever want, but no one really knows the real Dominic. He lives a scandal-free public life, whereas his deviant personal life where pleasure and pain are sinfully entwined together remains a fiercely protected secret, only known to those closest to him. His every sexual proclivity is driven by the darkness of his past that has trapped his soul into an endless loop of self-hatred and distrust of the world around him.

“I love watching pain. It distracts me from my own.”

When Dom meets Jacey, a young waitress at one of his brother’s infamous house parties, he is drawn to her girl-next-door type of beauty and intrigued by her wild streak, but he quickly dismisses her as just another groupie who would do anything to sleep with a famous actor. Life, however, seems intent on keeping their paths crossed and after a series of unexpected events, Dom and Jacey find themselves facing ninety days of community service to be served together at a local youth club. As they spend more and more time together, their attraction grows, but for very different reasons.

“I’m giving someone a chance, for the first time in a long time, to prove to me that she’s not like everyone else.”

Jacey has always been a wild child, known for her reckless and irresponsible ways. The tragic culmination of her latest relationship fiasco having finally set her in the right direction, determined to learn to stand on her own, make something of her life and stop picking flawed men who only use and abuse her. Dom appears to be like every man she has ever dated, emotionally detached and unpredictable, but Jacey’s heart senses also a very vulnerable and broken part in him that she cannot help but want to fix. She is attracted to his good looks, but even more to his inner turmoil and self-deprecating ways which bring out the carer in her and make her desperate to save him. She sees the pain he hides and sees her own brokenness through his eyes.

“It’s like he saw me… He saw that there’s something so fundamentally wrong with me that my own parents don’t want anything to do with me. That I’m flawed.”

When they agree on a friends-with-benefits arrangement to satisfy the growing attraction between them, all they expect is a no-strings-attached affair of mutual convenience, where they get to ‘scratch an itch’ and fulfil each other’s fantasies. But, from the very beginning, the pace of their relationship is driven by Dom, creating an imbalance between them that triggers the emotional remnants of every bad relationship Jacey has ever been in. As she quickly finds her voice and forces Dom to start opening up to her, she opens a Pandora’s box she never expected to find. Old memories re-emerge, past tragedies come back to life and Jacey finds herself facing more of Dom’s emotional baggage than she ever bargained for. And a man who believes himself to be unfixable.

“… I’m just a shell, completely empty inside.”

This is a beautiful story of emotional recovery, of two weary souls finding each other, unexpectedly falling for one another and exorcising each other’s demons simply by letting themselves be loved and loving in return. Regardless of how broken these two people are or how unworthy of love they believe themselves to be, we are given another heart-wrenching tale filled with hope and promise, where taking a chance on happiness outweighs any possible downfalls. If you love a flawlessly written, meticulously interwoven story that will make your heart race and clench at the same time, I urge you to meet this bad boy and the girl whose love saved him from himself.

“I’m very, very capable of hurting you… but not if you don’t let me.”

5stars

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Beautifully Broken – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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If You Stay: Amazon US | Amazon UK
If You Leave: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK
Until We Burn (novella): Amazon US | Amazon UK
Before We Fall: Amazon US | Amazon UK
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The Author

CourtneyCole_pic_croppedCourtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.

Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.

Connect with Courtney: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
The Giveaway

To win an eBook copy of Before We Fall, please enter below. By entering, you are accepting the following Giveaway Conditions. This contest is open internationally.

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BOOK REVIEW: A Matter of Truth by Heather Lyons

AMOT_cover

Not long ago, Chloe Lilywhite seemingly had it all: a prized spot on the Magicals’ Council as lead Creator, a loving fiancé and Connection, and a wealth of good friends. But the poised young woman she projected was nothing more than a façade. Her parents all but disowned her. Power plays and accusations of murder within the Council rocked her confidence. And most difficult of all, her secret, a secondary Connection to Jonah’s twin brother, Kellan, became painfully impossible to resist. Desperate to gain control over her rapidly unraveling existence, Chloe did the unthinkable: she ran away.

Now living and working in Alaska under an alias, Chloe is slowly discovering who she is and, more importantly, who she wants to be. But the more she tries to leave the Magical world behind, the harder it becomes to stay hidden. The Elders are back with a vengeance, and the stakes have never been higher. Chloe finally has to make a choice: embrace her pre-ordained Fate or pave her own way in the worlds. One thing’s for sure, though—she’s finally up for the challenge.

review

“Sometimes family is more than blood. Sometimes a family is built on love.”

For someone whose comfort zone definitely does not lie in the Urban Fantasy genre, I seem to be unusually giddy every time I dive again into the enthralling world of the Fate series. And then just when you think a series could not possibly get any better, you find yourself inhaling page after page, delighting in every word, every uniquely weaved sentence, every unexpected storyline development from an author who not only consistently delivers exceptionally high quality prose, but whose writing skills are only matched by the sheer genius of her imagination. This third instalment of the series did not only live up to every expectation I had, it simply blew them away.

Chloe Lilywhite has left her entire world behind and escaped to a remote town in Alaska, a new identity concealing her past and giving her the chance to start afresh. She has abandoned the two men she loves the most in the worlds without even saying goodbye, hoping that her disappearance from their lives would help them mend their strained relationship and give them a chance to find happiness. But while her newly assumed name offers her the anonymity she needs in order to distance herself from her old life, her memories and dreams are not as kind, tormenting her and constantly making her question her decisions.

“Sometimes it’s hard to move on, when memories refuse to let you go.”

Loneliness would make her aching heart even heavier had she not found an unlikely new family who’ve quickly accepted her as their own and whose love has soothed some of the longing she constantly feels for her two Connections. Will and his father have become the family Chloe has never had at home, showing her the power of something her own parents have never given her – unconditional love. They sense Chloe’s emotional baggage but they give her the space to face her own demons, their unyielding support being the very thing Chloe needs the most right now.

The dangers of Chloe’s reality are never too far away, however, the Elders eventually tracking her down and renewing their attacks on the young Creator. With Will’s unexpected help, she succeeds in making progress in her fight against the vicious beings, but the Elders are not the only ones to find her. As her location is revealed, Chloe decides to return to Annar, not only with new knowledge of the Elders’ weaknesses, but also with less confusion in her mind and her heart.

“Connections don’t define you. Having a partner doesn’t define you. Love doesn’t define you. You have to do that yourself. You have to decide who you are, what you want, and where you want to go. But when you do find somebody you want to share your life with, it needs to be for the right reasons.”

But coming home also means facing the one she hurt the most with her sudden departure. Her time away might have helped her accept and make some sense of her conflicting feelings towards her two Connections, making her also realise the difference between them, but that knowledge came with a hefty price to pay – the pain of the one man she loves the most in the worlds.

“… forever is a really long time when your heart wholly belongs to a person who doesn’t reciprocate in kind.”

This is in so many ways Chloe’s journey of self-discovery on her path to becoming master of her own feelings. At the end of this book, Chloe is no longer a pawn of Fate – she has taken her future into her own hands and owned up to all her actions and mistakes. The romantic angle in this instalment is breathtakingly moving, we watch her choose the love of her life and fight for his affections, doing all that is in her power to become worthy of his love again. We watch their relationship gain new foundations, grow, take flight and become unshakeable. It is a sight to behold.

With the introduction of lovable new characters, new developments in their battle against the Elders and strengthened bonds between our key players, we are set on another rollercoaster ride and this time it definitely feels like we’ll need to fasten those seatbelt real tight.

I said it a million times before and I’ll say it again – this series is exceptional. Unique. Addictive. Compelling. You will become part of this world, you will grow to love these characters, you will wait for the next instalment with bated breath and you might even find yourself telling the author how the story should end. Not that I would “ever” do something like that.

 “You’re the person I’d want to be with even if there were no Connection.”

5stars

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Fate – Reading Order and Purchase Links
AMOF_new_cover
Beyond Fate_Cover
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Buy A Matter of Fate (Fate #1): Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
Buy Beyond Fate (Fate #1.5): Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
Buy A Matter of Heart (Fate #2): Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
Buy A Matter of Truth (Fate #3): Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
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The Author

Heather_pic_croppedHeather Lyons has always had a thing for words. She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher.

Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.

Connect with Heather: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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BOOK REVIEW: The Edge of Always by J.A. Redmerski

EdgeofAlways_322x500

Camryn Bennett has never been happier. Five months after meeting on a Greyhound bus, she and her soul mate Andrew Parrish are engaged-and a wedding isn’t the only special event in their future. Nervous but excited, Camryn can’t wait to begin the rest of her life with Andrew, a man she knows in her heart will love her always. They have so much to look forward to-until tragedy blindsides them.

Andrew doesn’t understand how this could happen to them. He’s trying to move on, and thought Camryn was doing the same. But when Andrew discovers Camryn is secretly harboring a mountain of pain and attempting to numb it in damaging ways, there is nothing he won’t do to bring her back to life. Determined to prove that their love can survive anything, Andrew decides to take Camryn on a new journey filled with hope and passion. If only he can convince her to come along for the ride…

review

“… there comes a time in a person’s life when you have to face something so horrible that you feel like you’ll never be the same person again. It’s like something dark swoops down from somewhere above and steals every shred of happiness you have ever felt and all you can do is watch it, feel it go, knowing that no matter what you do in your life that you’ll never be able to get it back.”

It is not everyday that you get that perfect love story that makes you smile every time you recall it, but Camryn and Andrew’s beautiful romance is one such modern fairy tale that will never stop making me smile. And theirs was a happy ending that I truly hoped to see more of. In this sequel to the much beloved The Edge of Never, we get to watch our fearless kindred spirits find their place in the world, forge their own path to happiness and never take a single moment of it for granted.

After facing their pasts and finding a common direction in life, Camryn and Andrew are more in love than ever and on their way to becoming parents. Pregnancy is not something they planned or hoped for so soon in their young relationship, but they have embraced it wholeheartedly and adjusted their plans for the future to accommodate their impending parenthood. Nevertheless, as ecstatically happy as they are about it, there is still a small part of them unable to settle down in the one place and accept the monotony and predictability of the life before them. They suppress those doubts, prioritise over them in light of the little bundle of love they have created and cannot wait to meet, but those thoughts are always there, making them secretly wonder whether they have indeed found the bliss they were so desperately seeking.

When tragedy knocks at their door and shatters all their plans, the only thing keeping them afloat is the relentless love and support they so unconditionally give to one another. But while Andrew manages to recover from their loss by accepting life as it comes, for Camryn this is the last painful drop that makes the cup run over, bringing back too many unresolved feelings of pent-up hurt, fear and disillusionment with life. Unable to confront her own pain, she runs away from it, finding solace in numbness.

“You’re the world to me,” I whisper onto her lips. “I hope you never forget that.”
“I’ll never forget… But if I ever do, for whatever reason, I hope you’ll always find a way to remind me.”

Determined to save her from herself and not allow her fear to taint their happiness, Andrew takes their future into his own hands – another road trip, another voyage of self-discovery, but this time hoping to find the life that fits them best in the big world around them. Through a gently paced storyline, we watch them grow stronger individually as well as a couple, their love becoming an unshakeable constant driving them forward. We watch them reconcile their past and their future like pieces in a puzzle, each piece fitting them and only them perfectly, and cherishing every precious one of them.

“We met on the road; we grew to know and to love each other on the road. It’s where we were meant to be for however long, and it’s what we’re going to do until it becomes clear that we were meant to do something else.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this next step in their life journey, it may have not grabbed me as fiercely as the previous one, but it reflected these characters just perfectly. I found the writing style slightly less engaging, partly due to the pace, but also due to a high level of detail in the most random of scenes, but it still made me turn those pages, hungry for more of their story, desperate to see them find their happy ending. Or their own path to it. This is an incredibly emotional tale of learning to live one’s life honestly and by being true to oneself, rather than to what others might expect of us. Happiness is a fleeting and rare gift and Camryn and Andrew find it by never letting life pass them by.

“We truly lived our lives the way we wanted to live them, not the way the world expected us to live.”

4stars

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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks
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The Edge of Never – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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The Edge of Never: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks
The Edge of Always: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks
Song of the Fireflies: Amazon US (4 Feb 2014)
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The Author

jredmerski_croppedJ.A. Redmerski, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Edge of Never lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children and a Maltese.

She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries and is a huge fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Connect with Jessica: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Other books in the series or related posts:
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