BOOK REVIEW: Three Little Mistakes by Nikki Sloane

I sell sex, sin, and pleasure, but it isn’t just my business, it’s my entire life. I get off on the power of controlling it all.

She’s the one woman I can’t have.

She threatens everything, and yet I can’t stay away. There’s a beautiful, sexual creature inside this timid girl that’s desperate to claw its way out. I’m going to set it free, even if it brings my empire tumbling down.

I have to believe she’ll be worth all the little mistakes I’ve made.

review

Who could I become beneath him?

Whoa! This was quite possibly one of the kinkiest, filthiest, my most titillating reads of the year, and my skin is still burning from every single mind-blowing sex scene in it. A red-hot delight that occasionally even pushed me to the limits of my own comfort zone, this is a story intended to make our hearts race and our bodies ignite, and the very light BDSM tang to it only added to the overall allure of it all. If you’re in the mood for a book that takes charge and never lets go…of your undivided attention, or you’re simply looking for a kinky ‘bed warmer’, this book will make your toes curl cover to cover…and possibly even give you a few ideas.

“I could be charming. My eyes were kind and my smile warm, or so I’d been told, and I played up the old southern accent I used to have when needed. I disarmed. No one suspected the wolf beneath my surface, and only a handful of people knew about him.”

We met Joseph Monsato in the first two books in the series, as the owner of the ‘blindfold club’, a man who reeks of power and authority, and never lets his guard down. Even with an impressive portfolio of very successful establishments around the city, his favourite and his most profitable club remains his only illegal one—the high class brothel where men pay escorts to fulfil their dirtiest sexual fantasies. And while known for occasionally ‘sampling his own product’ by having casual, consensual sex with the women who work for him, those ‘scenes’ rarely do more than satisfy a physical need in him, never leaving him craving for more or unleashing a possessive streak in him. Until a bright-eyed, self-assured young woman walks into one of his clubs and catches his eye. And then hooks him deep by simply evading every single question he throws her way—so deep that he finds himself constantly thinking of her and hoping he’d see her again.

“I watched men worship the naked bodies of beautiful women every Friday and Saturday night at my blindfold club, using their mouths, their hands, their cocks . . . but I’d become desensitized. The scenes on the security footage did little to arouse anymore. But this girl with the shocked expression? She started a burn inside me and brought me to life. Dangerous and thrilling.”

At twenty-three, Noemi has always followed her family’s carefully laid plans for her future, and while she was raised to be sensible, cautious, poised, she craves the freedom to be herself—to speak out, instead of always biting her tongue, to become an assertive woman who is in control of her own fate, instead of allowing others to keep a tight rein on her, to accept the sexual woman inside her who confidently acknowledges her sexual desires, instead of being ashamed and even a little afraid of them. Her attraction to Joseph, a man fifteen years her senior, baffles her, scares her, makes her want to run the other way every time she is near him, and yet his dirty mouth and his brazen propositions are as irresistible to her as the air she breathes, to the point where they become all she thinks about, day and night.

“Do you want to be bad?” I did, but twenty-three years of doing the right thing were hard to shrug off.

Before they know it, they are deep under each other’s skin, nothing left of the ‘casual’ arrangement they’ve entered into, and each sexual encounter bringing them closer and closer to ridding themselves of the binds of their own minds and pasts. Joseph’s dominance and need for absolute control trigger a sexual awakening in Noemi, and under him, she becomes wild and uninhibited, and eventually more confident and outspoken in other aspects of her life. He makes her feel alive, free, powerful, while her devotion to him compels Joseph to question his own mantra of ‘nothing lasting forever’…until one last secret between them puts all they’ve worked hard to build between them to the test.

“You’d be my submissive.”
“What?”
“You’d give me control over you.”
“I have enough people telling me what to do.”
“But my control would set you free, Noemi.”

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of this very sexy read, I found myself wishing that one particular secondary storyline had been explored in greater depth, capitalising on the angsty emotions it could have stirred in readers, rather than being wrapped up quickly, and too easily, even though it represented the nail-biting climax we had been waiting for from the start. It did not affect my enjoyment of the story, however, just left me hungry for more in that regard.

I’ve known for quite some time now that this author can write scorching sex like nobody’s business, and this book just proved that once more. But regardless of that very appealing fact, if you’re looking for a tantalising read, a story of finding your perfect match in life who empowers you to be the person you were meant to be, and make you feel safe to believe in a ‘forever’, a story that stirs up the romantic in you and satisfies a need for kink, look no further. And you might even walk away from it like me, thinking that perhaps three is never a crowd…or four for that matter.

I’d asked if she wanted me to ruin her, and she’d done it to me.

4halfstars

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Blindfold Club
(standalone stories with interconnected characters)
threehardlessons

Three Simple Rules: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Three Hard Lessons
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Three Little MistakesAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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BOOK REVIEW: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

thebourbonkingsFor generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

review

“You’re the love of my life, whether you’re with me or not.”

I have the biggest book hangover ever. I am literally struggling to find things to occupy my mind with just so I wouldn’t go back to re-read this fabulous, oh-so addictive, sinfully moreish book, because at the end of the day, no matter how many times I flip those last few pages, no new ones are going to appear. The first instalment in The Bourbon Kings saga, this is the devastatingly compelling story of a very prestigious Southern family from Kentucky—the Bradfords—and it follows the four Bradford siblings and all the scandals and heartbreak entailed upon them by being born into such wealth and privilege. The best way I can describe the feeling of reading a book such as this would be to say that if Dynasty and Downton Abbey had a baby, this would be it! I am telling you, this book will ruin you, break you, steal your breath away so many times, you’ll be breathing into a paper bag by the end of it, and once you recover, you’ll be begging for more more more!!

“I was almost over you, Lane. I was getting my breath back, my life back.”

While the story as a whole is comprised of a number of intertwined subplots as we get to hear several distinct voices belonging to each Bradford son or daughter, as well as their romantic interests, this book in a way belongs to the youngest Bradford child—Jonathan “Lane” Tulane Baldwine—and the woman he lost two years before but never got over—Lizzie King. Lane has been wasting his life away for two long years, hiding from the world in New York City and spending his days either drinking or playing poker, but the ill health of the only quasi-parent he’s ever loved suddenly brings the prodigal son back home, to a house he never wanted to see again, forcing him to face the woman he cannot stop thinking about.

“The one man she never wanted to see again . . . was going to come home.”

Lizzie has been working at the Bradford Family Estate for ten years, working her way up to become one of their most valuable employees. Independent, diligent, proud of her hard work and determined to make it on her own in life—nothing prepares her for the return of the youngest Bradford son, her body betraying her from the moment they lay eyes on each other again, but two years of separation have not even dimmed her heartbreak or the sting of his betrayal. Lane, however, is a changed man, unwilling to let the love of his life slip through his fingers once again, and prepared to do whatever it takes to convince her to trust him again.

“I’m prepared to be a very patient man when it comes to you. I will seduce you for however long it takes—give you space if you need it or follow you tight as sunshine on your shoulder if you’ll let me. I lost my chance with you once, Lizzie King—that is not going to happen again.”

Lane is not the only Bradford we get to fall in love with in this book, his sister Gin’s and older brother Edward’s storylines being even more captivating and intense at times. Virginia “Gin” Baldwine, is a woman who lost her self-respect a long time ago, a woman who feels deeply and hates herself for all her downfalls, and yet for all those around her she maintains an air of pride, perfection, superiority, and complete emotional detachment. Spoiled by a lifetime of depraved luxury and blessed with good genes, Gin is used to getting her way in everything, especially the men she sleeps with, but ever since she was a teenager, she has loved one man and one man alone—the only man she can never have. For almost two decades, she has played a torturous and unhealthy cat-and-mouse game with Samuel Theodore Lodge III—Samuel T. to his friends—a successful attorney and old family friend, always one-upping each other with their sexual conquests while maintaining a very casual friends-with-benefits arrangement between them. But when two very headstrong people play a cruel game with each other for too long, they eventually end up forgetting why they started playing it in the first place, possibly losing the only chance they get at finding their happily-ever-after.

“To sacrifice her body at the altar of money? Fine. She would do what she had to.”

And then there is Edward Baldwine, the eldest son and heir apparent to the Bradford ‘throne’, a man whose broken body coupled with a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his father have forced him to leave his old life behind, and become a recluse who spends his days training horses and his nights drowning himself in self-pity and alcohol. But even as a shadow of his old self, his heart continues to ache for Sutton Smythe, the daughter of the Bradfords’ biggest competitor and Edward’s best friend since childhood, a woman he never claimed when he had a chance to but secretly loved all his life.

“You must know that I fell in love with you a long time ago. You must know it. How could you not? I’ve been following you around for years— is that why you hate me?”

While he fall head over heels with each Bradford sibling and the people they are destined to love forever, we also see them facing one common problem, a monumental setback that would change all their lives collectively and would require them to either join forces…or watch reality as they know it disappear in a puff of smoke.

A sinfully addictive telenovela-esque collection of jaw-dropping twists and turns, secrets and lies, set against a very enthralling backdrop of Southern wealth and privilege, I never wanted this book to end. Ever. I loved all the main characters, felt heartbroken over all their storylines, and cannot wait to see where the series takes us. In the meantime, I’ll be the one rocking in a corner, begging the universe to make the wait for the next book as short as possible.

“This is . . . your time, Lane. God has provided you with a sacred duty to keep this family together. You are the only one who can do it. This is all falling into place because it is your destiny to bind the blood once again. It happens every couple of generations. It’s happening now. This is your time.”

6stars

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BOOK REVIEW & EXCERPT: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

review

“Jamie Canning was my first crush and my first love. But he was never mine to have.”

Be still, my beating heart… It doesn’t happen every day that two authors you love decide to write a book together, so this collaboration had me bouncing off the walls from the moment I got word of it, but this story, this sexy, fun, enchanting story was all I hoped it would be, and so much more. A wonderful testament of both these authors’ extraordinary talents, this is a story that pulled me in from the very first page, the flawless prose as captivating as the charismatic characters in it, but it was its heart-warming quality and the sheer emotion driving this love story forward, not to mention the blazing chemistry between the two leading men, that owned me cover to cover.

“I have the same damn weakness I’ve always had… My weakness is him.”

Former best friends, fellow hockey prodigies, Wes and Jamie used to spend every summer together at hockey camp, until a naughty little bet blurred the lines of their friendship, resulting in four years of silence between them. Now in their early twenties, both of them hockey stars in their own right, they unexpectedly find themselves in the same place at the same time, and memories of some of the happiest moments in their young lives start flooding back, every single one of them tied to those summer camps spent as best friends. But only one of them really knows why their friendship ended so suddenly.

“How do you apologize to someone for cutting them out of your life without so much as an explanation?”

As the star player of his college team and with an NHL contract already in the bag, Ryan “Wes” Wesley’s future could not be any brighter, his only regret in life being the loss of his best friend, the only man he’s ever loved, the very reason he was eventually forced to face the truth about his sexuality. His love life now being nothing more than a string of commitment-free hook-ups, Wes enjoys his freedom and ability to focus solely on his hockey career, but seeing his former best friend again stirs up in him feelings he thought were long gone, feelings he’s always known would forever remain unrequited. And memories of a time when those weeks spent together each summer were all he would look forward to all year long.

“My life has been chaotic for as long as I can remember, and I always dealt with it alone. My parents’ criticism, my confusion over my sexuality. But for six weeks every summer, I didn’t have to be alone. I had Jamie, my best friend, my rock.”

Jamie Canning never understood why he had lost his best friend from one day to another, always suspecting that their last wager might have affected them differently, but never accepting in his heart that one night of drunken stupidity could have ended a six-year friendship. So when Wes unexpectedly makes contact with him again, Jamie’s heart offers no resistance, eager to have his friend back and desperate for answers.

“Life is just a little brighter, a little louder wherever Wes is.”

One last summer before their professional careers take off, one last summer camp as roommates, six weeks to relive old memories and make new ones together—Wes and Jamie might be hoping to rekindle an old friendship, but they end up uncovering much deeper feelings for one another, feelings that would change the course of their futures forever. As they explore each other’s bodies and their own hearts in the process, we watch two young men come to terms with a reality that neither of them ever thought possible, their desire for each other only eclipsed by their unwavering determination to put their friendship first. We watch a young man being finally able to express all he’s ever felt for his best friend after a decade of secretly longing for him, and another young man facing a side of himself he never knew was there, a side that equally confuses and excites him, but also a side of himself he refuses to deny—both their journeys being equally compelling and believable.

“Was I hiding something from myself? Or was there nothing to suppress?”

A love story that hooks you in with its simplicity and honesty, I fell in love with every moment of it. It’s a story of two friends becoming lovers, of two men falling for one another and being willing to change their lives in order to put each other first. It is not a story about the struggles of being gay, about coming out to the world or one’s battle with their own sexuality—the focus of the story remains on the irrevocable bond and the sexual attraction between these two men, and the courage it takes to put love first. The perfect blend of sweet and sexy, this tender romance was such a delightful read!

“Loved you every summer since I was thirteen years old. Love you even more now.”

4halfstars

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excerpt

Boston’s skyline comes into view from my bus window well before I’m ready.

It’s a mere ninety minutes from Northern Mass to TD Garden. And I’m from Boston. The Frozen Four is always played at a neutral rink, but if anyone has a home ice advantage this year, it’s me. Playing in the Bruins’ arena is my childhood fantasy come to life.

Apparently it’s my jackwad of a father’s fantasy, too. Not only is he pumped up to invite all his asshole colleagues to my game, he can look like a hero on the cheap. He only has to spring for a limo, not a charter flight.

“You know what I like best about this plan?” Cassel asks from the seat next to me as he flips through the itinerary that our team manager passed out.

“That this event is like the puck bunny world headquarters?”

He snorts. “Okay, sure. But I was just going to say that they’re putting us up at a nice hotel, not some sleazepit off the interstate.”

“True.” Although the hotel, whatever it is, won’t be nearly as grand as my family’s Beacon Hill mansion a few miles away. I’d never say that, though. I’m not a snob, because I know that opulence doesn’t stamp out ignorance and unhappiness. Just ask my family.

We spend the next half hour snarled in traffic, because that’s just how it is in Boston. So it’s almost five o’clock by the time we’re finally unloading the bus.

“The gear stays!” our student manager shouts. “Take only your luggage!”

“We don’t have to schlep our gear?” Cassel yelps. “Baby, I’ve arrived. Get used to this treatment, Wes.” He elbows me. “Next year in Toronto, you’ll probably have a personal assistant to carry your stick around for you.”

It feels superstitious to talk about my NHL contract before the Frozen Four. So I change the subject. “That’s awesome, dude. I love it when another guy holds my stick.”

“Teed that one up for you, didn’t I?” he asks as we grab our duffels off the sidewalk where the red-faced driver has tossed them.

“Sure did.” I let Cassel enter the revolving door first just so I can grab the door by its handle, holding it with a tight lunge and trapping him inside.

Stuck now, Cassel twists around to give me the finger. When I don’t let go, he turns away and reaches for his belt buckle, setting up to moon me and whatever slice of Boston happens to be walking past the hotel on a windy April Friday.

I let up on the door and give it a shove, smacking him in the not-yet-bare ass.

Ah, hockey players. You really can’t take us anywhere.

Then we’re in the shiny lobby. “How does the bar look?” I ask.

“Open,” Cassel answers. “That’s really all that matters.”

“Truth.”

We find an out-of-the-way place to stand while we wait for the team manager to sort out the hotel rooms. But it’s going to be a while. The lobby is busy and getting busier. Our end of the room has a distinctly green-and-white color scheme, with our Northern Mass jackets everywhere.

But on the other end of the room another color catches my eye. It’s orange. Specifically the orange and black of another team’s jackets. They’re filing through the same doors we just entered, shoving each other and generally acting like testosterone hounds. It’s all very familiar.

And then the room tilts a little as my gaze locks onto a sandy blond head. I only need the oblique view I’ve got to recognize the shape of his smile.

F*ck me. Jamie Canning is staying at this hotel.

My entire body tenses as I wait for him to turn his head. To look right at me. But he doesn’t. He’s too engrossed in conversation with one of his teammates, laughing at something the guy has just said.

He used to laugh with me that way. I haven’t forgotten the sound of Jamie’s laughter. Deep and husky, melodic in a carefree kind of way. Nothing ever kept Jamie Canning down. He was the epitome of go-with-the-flow, probably because of his laidback California upbringing.

I hadn’t realized just how much I’ve missed him until this very moment.

Go talk to him.

The voice in my head is persistent, but I silence it by wrenching my gaze off Canning. With the colossal amount of guilt lodged in my chest, it’s now become even more evident that I need to apologize to my old friend.

But right this second I’m not ready.

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Other books by these authors…
theyearwefelldown
theyearwehidaway
blondedate_new
theunderstatementoftheyear
TheShamelessHour

The Year We Fell DownAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
The Year We Hid AwayAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Blonde Date (novella): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
The Understatement of the YearAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
The Shameless HourAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

Connect with Sarina: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

The Deal: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
The Mistake
: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

midnightrescue midnightalias midnightgames midnightpursuits
aftermidnight midnightaction midnightcaptive midnightrevenge

Midnight RescueAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Midnight Alias
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Midnight GamesAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Midnight PursuitsAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
After Midnight (novella): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA
Midnight ActionAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Midnight CaptiveAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Midnight RevengeAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback

Connect with Elle: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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BOOK REVIEW: King of Hearts by L.H. Cosway

Welcome to the City, London’s most prestigious square mile, where finance reigns and Oliver King is a rising prince.

I used to rule the world.

There might be wolves on Wall Street, but there were crocodiles in Canary Wharf. Some of us craved money. Some of us craved power.

I liked money, and power had its advantages, but what I really wanted was to excel, to surpass the men who came before me. I never cared much for love and romance until I met Alexis.

I could feel it the very moment she walked into the interview, with her outspoken charm and vivacious personality. She cast all the others in shadow, made me laugh when life held no humour. Our friendship should have remained professional, but it wasn’t long before the lines started to blur.

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Well, I never foresaw where my plans would lead, and only in my darkest hour did I finally see the light…

You can have all the money and prestige in the world and still be the poorest man alive. And love, well, I hate to use a tired old cliché, but love can be the thing that truly sets you free.

review

“I could lose the run of myself inside a woman like you, Alexis. And I fear if I made you my queen, I could no longer be a king.”

I’m going to be totally honest with you—I picked this book up on a whim based solely on its eye-catching cover. I had no idea nor did I wish to know what it was about as I was looking for a book to surprise me, to make me fall in love with its story and its characters, a story to woo me somehow after so many had left me unfulfilled and aching for a truly superb read. And after just one paragraph I was almost certain I had found a gem, but the more I read, the more I adored every single thing about this book—from its quirky and utterly addictive writing style, to two of the most loveable, compelling and downright delightful characters I had come across in a very long time, not to mention a storyline that I never saw coming, its twists and turns keeping me on the edge of my seat start to finish, and making me turn those pages faster than a speeding bullet. This is quite possibly one of the best books I have read in a while, so incredibly uplifting and engaging, a startling story that is nothing short of amazing in its uniqueness, and it made me want to read every single thing ever written by this terrific author.

“Sometimes we see someone and they just suit us. They’re beautiful to us in every way. You’re that person to me.”

Alexis Clark is a bright young woman in her late twenties who’s spent her life selling herself short despite her innate intelligence and ability to do whatever she sets her mind to, so when she applies for a job as executive assistant at one of the top investment banks in the country, she holds little hope of actually getting the job. But from the moment she opens her mouth, it becomes apparent to her soon-to-be new employer that she might be the perfect candidate for the position.

“You’ll have to get up a lot earlier in the morning to offend me, Mr King.”

Oliver King might be a self-made powerhouse in the banking world, a confident and successful executive in his early thirties, but he never expected someone like Alexis to walk into his office looking for a job, and even less to find himself giving it to her. Her directness and honesty feel like a breath of fresh air in an industry built on pretences and insincerity, and from their very first interaction she not only succeeds in demonstrating her quick wit and cleverness, but also in doing something very few people in his life ever could—to make him laugh. And so it takes no time for the lines of their professional relationship to start blurring more and more each day, a very unique camaraderie forming between them, and their daily interactions becoming something they both look forward to with anticipation.

“Having you around makes the day that little bit more interesting. I enjoy the spontaneity of never quite knowing what you’re going to come out with next.”

However, when an underlying attraction between them starts blurring those lines even further, putting into jeopardy both their working relationship as well as their friendship, Alexis blurts out the first thing that comes to her mind, hoping this would curtail any further inappropriateness from her new boss, thus convincing him that she bats for the other team. And while this little white lie buys their friendship the time it needs to grow without them succumbing to the raging sexual attraction between them, their feelings for one another grow too, so once the truth is uncovered, nothing can stop the bedroom fireworks from happening. Or for their hearts to become irrevocably entwined.

“I want to f*ck you so hard, Alexis, so hard you’re still feeling me inside you tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow….”
Okay, did he just hit me with a side of Shakespeare in his dirty talk?
I died.
I died dead.

But do not think for one second that this is just another predictable office romance scenario, because everything that happens up to this point only sets the stage for the ‘real’ story to take place. The plotline is divided into two distinct time frames and I cannot even hint at the events in the second one without giving too much away and depriving you of all the ‘feels’. The character evolution alone is fascinating in its extensiveness and complexity, both Oliver and Alexis having very trying journeys to travel emotionally, as individuals as well as a couple.

“Do you ever wish, Alexis, that your heart was just that little bit smaller, so that you didn’t have to care quite so much?”

This is so much more than just a love story—this is a story of the staying power of true love, a story of human endurance, of courage, or patience, and of love’s ability to survive a human spirit’s darkest hour. The connection between Alexis and Oliver is sheer magic, its strength palpable in the smallest details, and its beauty leaving us breathless even through occasional giggles and tears. I love a story that makes me genuinely invested in the wellbeing and happiness of the characters, and there is so much to love about Alexis and Oliver, so much to connect with and so much to be inspired by. From every angle, this was the perfect story for me, flawless in its delivery and impossible to put down. I was looking for a superb read, and somehow I stumbled across an epic one.

“I never stopped loving you, not even in my darkest hour.”

5stars

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Hearts – Reading Order and Purchase Links
heartsoffire

Six of Hearts: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Hearts of Fire: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
King of HeartsAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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BOOK REVIEW + EXCERPT: Racing the Sun by Karina Halle

racingthesunWhen I’m traveling, I feel like the secret to my life, to myself, to really becoming, is one step ahead. It’s in the next destination, the next town I get lost in, the next stranger I talk to. It’s always next but never here…

After six months of backpacking and soul-searching across the world, Amber MacLean is flat broke. There are worse places for a twentysomething to be stuck than the Amalfi Coast, but the only way she can earn enough money for a plane ticket home to California is to teach English to two of the brattiest children she has ever met.

It doesn’t help that the children are under the care of their brooding older brother, ex-motorcycle racer Desiderio Larosa. Darkly handsome and oh-so-mysterious, the young master of the crumbling villa tests Amber’s patience and will at every turn—not to mention her hormones.

When her position turns into a full-time nanny gig, Amber grows dangerously closer to the enigmatic recluse. But can she give up the certainty of home for someone whose closely guarded heart feels a world apart from her own?

review

“I should have known from the start that this man was going to give me a reason to stay.”

Have you ever walked away from a book with the feeling you could still taste it, smell it, all your senses in withdrawal because for as long as it took you to read that book, you were there, in it—walking those cobblestoned streets, feeling the sunshine on your skin, hearing the chirpy song of the cicadas, lavender and lemons filling your nose with their tangy scent, while your eyes basked in the devastating beauty of the landscape before them? This story was that book for me, Karina Halle’s evocative prose transporting us to the south of Italy, on a journey of self-discovery and introspection, where a young woman travels the world to find herself and love ends up being her ultimate find. A delightful reading escape, I could not stop myself from devouring this story, loving every single word.

“I’m just this useless, helpless, average little human being who will never live up to her potential.”

Twenty-four-year-old Amber McLean has been backpacking around the world for the past six months, searching for a reason not to go back home to California, where she would be forced to become the ‘responsible adult’ her parents wish her to be, even though she knows that the happiness she is looking for in life can never be found there. But gallivanting across the globe has only depleted all of Amber’s savings, not bringing her any closer to finding herself, and only making her even more desperate to find a reason not to return home. With only enough money left to reach the Italian Amalfi Coast and live there for a week before going completely broke, she finds a job on her first day there—teaching English to two young children on the breathtaking island of Capri—but she soon discovers that her new job is a lot more complicated than she expected it to be.

“If you can handle that man, then you can handle the children. Then you can handle anything.”

With two badly behaved and grieving children, a run-down estate, and a moody twenty-nine-year-old ex-motorcycle racer for a boss, Amber is out of her depth from the get-go, but everything about the lonely Larosa family tugs at her heartstrings and makes her even more determined to stick by them and help them find peace and happiness again. Not to mention that each encounter with her boss leaves her hot and bothered, and more than a little curious about all the secrets behind his reclusive ways.

“This is starting to sound like Beauty and the Beast. Oh my God, am I Belle? Is he an Italian Beast? Did I just stumble into the best scenario ever?”

And so Amber’s true adventure starts, as she slowly shows the Larosas how to be a family again. But her greatest challenge proves to be the oldest member of the Larosa family, Desiderio, who’s own fears and broken heart have frozen him in time, unable to feel anything since the day he lost it all at once. By not running for the hills every time he shows her his darkest side and tries to push her away, she forces him to let his guard down, jump-starting his heart and life again, and so what begins as a vacation romance quickly becomes the greatest love story of her life.

“I hate to think that one day I’ll be back home, dreaming of the man who liked me just the way I am.”

However, while her lover’s life might be finally moving in the right direction, Amber finds herself at an ever greater crossroad than before, struggling with the knowledge that Desiderio’s happiness might eventually cost her her own. It’s a story about the time-old question of whether love alone is enough to make a person happy, our heroine having left one uncertainty behind for another, this time taking a leap into the unknown and taking a chance on love putting not only her future, but also her heart on the line. I loved the way Amber remains true to herself until the end, following her heart, but also listening to reason, her every decision being a perfect reflection of the person she truly is. Her struggle felt real to me, honest and relatable, making her a heroine that was incredibly easy to connect and sympathise with, as well as be inspired by. Her parents’ constant criticism is like a little voice in her head that keeps telling her that she’d never amount to anything, and forever remain a disappointment to them, and yet she keeps taking risks and seeking happiness at all costs. This story might not be as ‘edgy’ or as ‘daring’ as some of Halle’s earlier works, but it is no less unputdownable or compelling, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

“Life works out the way it wants to.”

4halfstars

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excerpt

“Let’s go for it,” I tell him.

He goes first, pulling himself along, and I have the plea­sure of watching his beautiful back and shoulders work above the water, mirrored by his ass and legs below the surface.

I am not as graceful. I hang there like a fat orangutan and shuffle myself along until we’re just inside the cave. Then I let go of the chain, falling into the water, but Derio’s arms are around me, keeping me afloat.

The cave seems so black and dark in front of us and behind us; the tiny opening only lets in so much light.

“I thought the cave would be blue,” I tell Derio. By now the water is a lot warmer and my body is getting used to treading water.

“Just wait a moment,” he says and swims farther in.

Now this is feeling a bit more like nightmare territory. I paddle after him and try not to think of what could be lurking beneath my feet.

“Did you know,” Derio says, his voice bouncing off the unseen walls of the cave, “that in ancient times, Tiberius, the emperor who built Villa Jovis, used this cave? They have found sculptures and artifacts from that time period at the bottom.”

“So there is a bottom,” I muse, spitting out some of the salty seawater.

“It is very far down,” he says, and I detect a slight tremor to his voice. He swims over to me, his features becoming lighter as he nears me and the entrance to the cave. “But I hear it is sandy, if that helps.”

Normally, a nice sandy ocean floor wouldn’t scare me as much as a nebulous rocky one, but in this cave everything is kind of scary.

“You know what else is special about this cave?” he asks, an arm circling my waist.

“What?”

“There were many ancient orgies in here,” he says with a wag of his brows.

I burst out laughing and the sound echoes around us. “You and your ancient orgies, my God.”

“It’s true,” he says, “they would swim in here and have sex with the witches and sea monsters.”

“Your imagination both frightens and intrigues me.”

He smirks and then looks between us at the water just below my chin. I swallow and follow his eyes. Our legs turn from white to black as the water around us slowly becomes a saturated blue, the color of sapphires, and we become floating silhouettes.

“The sun is hitting the water,” he says with a smile. “Out there somewhere. The light comes in through the entrance, as well as an opening farther below.”

It’s like magic. Slowly, the cave walls begin to lighten just a little and the water lights up as if lit by blue glow sticks. The water stretches far back and the cave ends up being a lot longer and higher than I imagined. In less than a minute, it goes from something unknown and scary to something spell­binding and surreal. Our bodies in the water are black, lit from below, while neon blue reflects off the bottom of Derio’s strong jaw and alights in his dark eyes.

He kisses me, his lips wet and salty. His hands slide up and down my sides as he swims forward and I glide backward until I’m pressed against the side of the cave.

Don’t forget to check out Vilma’s Book Blog tomorrow for the next episode in the RACING THE RELEASE excerpt chain, and follow along with all the other stops for the full Racing the Sun excerpt…

Day 1: Heroes and Heartbreakers
Day 2: Maryse’s Book Blog
Day 3: Natasha is a Book Junkie
Day 4: Vilma’s Book Blog
Day 5: Rock Stars of Romance

Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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Love in English – Reading Order and Purchase Links
loveinenglish
LoveInSpanish
whereseameetssky_CR

Love, in EnglishMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Love, in Spanish: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Where Sea Meets Sky (spin-off): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Racing the Sun (spin-off): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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BOOK REVIEW + EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENE: Maldeamores (Lovesick) by Mara White

Belén: I’ve loved Luciano ever since I can remember, desired him before I even knew what it meant. He’s always been the only man in my life—my constant protector, and his rejection only intensifies my need.

Luciano: I’ve never known a love more fierce than the one I feel for Belén. But I force myself to deny her no matter how much it hurts.

Our love is a sickness and both of us are infected.

Because there’s no cure for being from the same family.

review

“When will I ever be free from this sickness? When will love stop feeling like a curse?”

It doesn’t happen very often that a book makes my mind spin in such a way that it takes me weeks to collect my thoughts, rein in all my initial reactions, and get over my inherent reflex to just scream at it. Because this book was just…whoa! And while a taboo scenario such as this one almost always makes my skin quiver from the forbidden allure of it all, Lucky and Belén’s tale redefined everything I thought I needed in a love story in order to walk away happy, it crashed all my preconceptions to smithereens, and it left me reeling in a haze of second thoughts. This is not a traditional romance by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a romance nonetheless, and a very poignant one at that. It is undogmatic in its approach, bold and broad-minded in the way it presents this unconventional love story to the reader, and it pulls us in like a whirlpool, regardless of what we keep telling ourselves we should be thinking, or feeling. Skillfully written, the unique prose as much a part of the story as the evocative scenes it describes, this is a book that was difficult to walk away from, nearly impossible to stop thinking about, and I’m still mulling over it, dissecting it in my mind and slowly coming to terms with the fact that some love stories hurt until the very end. And beyond.

“I’ll die without you. There will never be anyone else for me, Lucky. Ever. I don’t want there to be.”

Raised in one of the poorest New York City neighbourhoods by two first-generation immigrant sisters from the Dominican Republic, Luciano ‘Lucky’ Cabrera and his cousin Bélen have been close since birth. Their earliest memories of falling asleep in the same crib, of always being there for one another, and of loving each other for as long as they can remember, have shaped the way they felt about each other all throughout childhood, making their unbreakable bond something that equally confused them as well as gave them comfort.

“Belén. My cousin. My own heat wave. The flame to my fire.”

We follow them through adolescence and into early adulthood, we witness all the ways such a unique bond between two first cousins could become an inextricable part of their emotional makeup, ultimately playing a key role in whom they end up falling in love with—each other.

“My glass heart sits trapped at the bottom of a honey jar with Lucky’s name permanently written all over it.”

But loving one another has always felt like a curse for Lucky and Belén, their hearts and bodies drawn like magnets, but their minds telling them that such a love is wrong, abhorrent, and never to be. We feel their struggle from the moment they become aware of those feelings, we see them hide them, battle them, succumb to them, hate themselves for them, and that struggle continues to define the way their perceive relationships, love, and even their own sexuality. For Bélen, Lucky has always been the only man in her life, someone who made her feel safe and loved, and the only man who has always ignited her body in a way no one else could. But while Bélen expresses her feelings towards her cousin openly, her innocent heart always winning over reason, Lucky tries to deny his heart what it desires the most, knowing that Bélen is the only woman who could ever quench the ever-raging fire coursing through his veins.

“Belén had a way of opening me up that was addictive. I wanted to f*ck her. Jesus Christ, did I want to f*ck her! I wanted things from her that I never wanted from a girl.”

And yet, he keeps fighting her advances, wanting her to have everything in life—children, a husband to feel proud of, a proper family—everything that he could never give her.

“I’ll keep pushing you away, Belén, a million times if I have to. All that means is that I love you better than I love myself.”

A story of tremendous passion, of a love that should never be, of a bond that endures no matter what in all its tortuous beauty, and ultimately, shines selflessly and for all eternity. But do not expect to be able to predict its fate, because the author keeps throwing curveballs at us from start to finish, and the sting of them never stops hurting. Often in the best possible way. This is a book I will recommend wholeheartedly to anyone wishing to have their mind stretched, prickled, aroused, shocked and even stunned into silence in the end, at least for a moment, because this is a story that will leave you agonizing over a million different feelings, pondering over a million possible aftermaths, and if you’re anything like me, eventually feel at peace with it all.

“What happens if one of us moves on and the other can’t move at all?”

4halfstars

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exclusive

For those who have already read Maldeamores, this is a deleted scene that takes place after the first kiss, but before the night of Lucky’s graduation…

Lucky

If I’m being completely honest, getting my dick sucked was the real reason I came to this party. Plus, I had to get out of the house. My ma had her man over and fuck if I’m gonna sit there and listen to the two of them argue. Smoke in here is thick enough to give you a free contact buzz just from walking in the joint. House party in the Heights, the reggaetón beats sound out into the night like a fog horn; one that warns everybody on the block they ain’t getting to sleep ‘til six in the morning.

I do two shots of Cuervo with some hick from the corner who won’t shut up about all the honeys on the island. I could care less what he thinks, but I nod, tip my beer back and scan the room for Yari. I see Jaylee instead, he parts from his group and throws his hand out in greeting. Somebody passes me a spliff and I got no choice but to smoke the damn thing.

“You just get here?” He asks me holding in his hit, his voice chopped and swallowed, coming tight from his chest.

“Doing shots with some guy who just arrived from the island,” I say nodding in the direction of the newcomer who seemed eager to make friends. Too bad for him; round here we roll in brotherhoods that go back to the cradle.

I toke deep and cough out the burn that stings my throat and my lungs. I reluctantly swig from the bottle of Henny they been passing around. I get fucked up by default, without even trying to. Leaning against the wall I knock my head back and close my eyes for a second. I don’t want to be here, but it helps me to get physically away from her. Being in the same building is wearing me thin. I got to keep my defenses up all the time and the stress is a bitch.

Belén. I know she’s home. Studying or reading, maybe already asleep in her bed. I can’t explain how just thinking about her calms me down. Knowing she’s doing the right thing, somehow makes up for the both of us.

Belén is my better half, the sweet and good gravitate to her like a magnet. I can’t hold back the bad from hunting me down no matter how hard I try to shake it. But, Len is innocence. She’s pure gold to my lump of black coal and I want it to always stay that way. I sure as hell won’t ever let it be me who corrupts her.

I scan the room again for Yari and spot her saddled up with some chicks from the block. Yari’s ass in jeans is distracting, Yari in a skirt—it’s impossible to keep my hands off her.

I whistle at her because I’m too messed up to walk across the room. She shoots me a dirty look and gives me her back. I laugh at her trying to play me like she’s hard. In a minute she’ll be stripping for me más rápido qu’el diablo.

“Lucky is your cousin coming? Esa tipa is fucking fine,” the guy beside me says, catching me off guard.

“I know you didn’t just say that to me!” I roar, sticking my face in his and jabbing at his shoulder.

“What the fuck, man? Calm down. I think Belén is hot. I see her at school. Why you got such a problem?”

I feel Jay tug on my shoulder and I shrug his hand off.

“Say it again, mother fucker,” I shout as I jab two fingers into his ribs. “Say it again to my face!”

“Fuck, man, calm down!” he says leaning in like he’ll fight.

“It’s cool, bro. I’ll take care of it. Luck, go find your girl. They were just hanging out on the fire escape,” Jaylee says.

He pushes me away. He blocks the asshole with his body and I stagger toward where I last saw Yari.

“Don’t bring up his cousin, yo,” I hear Jaylee explain. “It’s a sensitive subject.”

Yeah, I guess so,” the guy says and I got a mind to turn around and punch him. But I’m too drunk to land a good fight and I’d rather fuck instead.

I sneak up behind Yari and grab her around the waist and pull her up against my chest.

“Get lost, Lucky,” she says dryly.

She doesn’t mean it. That’s just Yaritza, always trying to act tough. I let my thumb graze over the bottom curve of her breasts and hug her into me tightly. Then I gently bite her earlobe through the fan of her hair.

“Yari, come fuck me,” I whisper smiling, but loud enough so all her girlfriends can hear.

Their grins are smug. They all know what I come looking for.

“Ladies,” I say, dragging Yari away backwards.

“Prick,” Yari says, escaping my hold.

Precisamente eso,” I say, yanking her into a dark bedroom.

I stumble around until I find the edge of the bed. I’m usually smoother than this but my head is swimming from the booze and the thick joint I smoked with Jay. As soon as we’re alone she throws her arms around my neck. She might front for her girls, pero es un cuero la nena, Yari’s always down for a quick fuck.

She kisses me and I devour her lips grabbing the back of her head. I run my hands through her thick, dark hair and pull her tongue into my mouth.

“Suck me off, Yari,” I say into her ear. She lets out a sigh like she’s annoyed but her hands are lightning quick to open my fly. She slides my jeans down with her as she kneels in front of me, her hands immediately grabbing my shaft. I’m used to Yari going down on me, she’s been doing it for years. Her nails are fake and feel like intruders, interrupting my skin against her skin. Yari’s mouth is hot, I fuck her face hard the second she swallows my dick all the way in. With my hands on her head, I fist her long hair—silky, thick, dark hair that reminds me of Bey’s.

I find a rhythm and let my head relax back. I don’t even remember to touch her tits cause my thoughts took a detour just imagining Bey’s hair. How it smells when I’m close enough to her to feel it on my face. I think about her little ears and slope of her jaw. Her sweet, full lips and her pink tongue, when I first pulled it into my mouth. The sound of her breathing when we used to sleep in the same bed. My whole body absorbs the memory and my legs almost give out from under me. I love the idea of her asleep, of just having her close to me.

The more turned on I get, the more the memories flood me. Her round ass in sweats, a white T-shirt stuck to her skin once when we got caught in the rain, mascara dripping down her cheeks—God, how I wanted to take her. Throw her on the ground and make her mine before anybody else ever got the chance.

The night I caught her with him. Humiliated in the elevator, the heated flush of her face. Her wet panties in my hand, the blue dress falling off her shoulder. The swell of her breast, how the material grazed her hardened nipple. The smell of her sweat, the taste of her lips, the slip of her tongue, so timid, when I first pulled it into my mouth.

Belén.

Her heart.

Its insistent beat.

That look in her eyes when she wants to do more than just touch me.

Her complete trust in me.

Fuck. That day when I had her up against the refrigerator. So innocent, but desperate to rub herself all over me.

“Belén, I’m gonna come, baby,” I say, my voice strained from desire.

Yari stops. She slaps my dick away from her face.

I open my eyes in the dark.

The visions slip away. Yari stands and shoves her feet back into her shoes.

“Yari, I-“

“Lucky, I hate you! Don’t you even try to explain!”

I close my eyes and let my body fall back onto the bed, not even bothering with my pants.

Belén.

My cousin.

She’ll be the end of me if I’m not careful.

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Maldeamores is a standalone prequel to The Heightsbound Series…
FearofHeights

  Heights of DesireAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Fear of HeightsAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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BOOK REVIEW: The Allure of Julian Lefray by R.S. Grey

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: Justin Timberlake Nudes!

Lily, you predictable perv. I knew you’d open this email faster if I tempted you with a glimpse of JT’s “PP”. Well, put your pants back on and grab some bubbly because I have much better news to share.

I GOT A JOB!

As of tomorrow, I’ll be the new executive assistant at Lorena Lefray Designs. I am SO excited, but there’s one itty bitty problem: I won’t be Lorena’s assistant. I’ll be working for her older brother, Julian.

I know what you’re thinking- “But Jo, what’s the problem?”

Google him. Now. He’s the man in the fitted navy suit whose face reminds you that there’s hope yet for this cruel, ugly world. Keep scrolling…Do you see those dimples? Yup. That’s the Julian Lefray I will be reporting to tomorrow morning.

Lord, help us all.

XO,
Jo

review

“He was sharp lines, hard edges, subtle lips, and inviting eyes. Every detail blended into an alluring combination, one that called to me like a bad habit.”

There are some authors who never fail to make me feel happy while reading their books and R.S. Grey is one of those authors, as I’ve come to rely on her distinctive sense of humour and ability to pen sexy, light-hearted romances that make me swoon though fits of giggles time and time again, not to mention that she writes sexual tension like a boss. This story was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. Once I started reading it, I pretty much gobbled it down in a single sitting, glued to the pages and the feel-good vibe of the story, and I still catch myself smiling every time I think of these characters. A delightful, fun read start to finish that I recommend wholeheartedly.

“First, I needed a joke to break the tension between us. Why’d the chicken cross the hard body of Julian Lefray?
To get laid.
Which came first?
The chicken or me?
Shit. I was in trouble if I couldn’t think of a non-Julian related sex joke.”

Josephine Keller is twenty-three and broke. She left her small home town in Texas and moved to New York City to pursue her dream of working in the fashion industry, but her hopes and dreams slowly start withering as she struggles to find a job, thus facing the very real possibility of having to give up her ambitions and return home defeated, proving all those who did not believe in her right. A chance encounter at a Fashion Gala, however, proves to be the very opportunity she’s been hoping for, resulting in a job she desperately wanted, if only her new boss weren’t also one of the best looking men she’s ever laid eyes on.

“He didn’t even know the effect those dimples had on my girly parts. One word: Ijustgotpregnant. Yeah, that’s one word.”

Julian Lefray might come from money, heir to his family’s old-money fortune, but he’s worked hard to build his own wealth, loving the independence it gave him from his family’s tight strings. He loves power and responsibility, but finds no personal fulfilment in the monotony of the corporate world, craving for a challenge. And that very challenge comes in the form of a curvaceous brunette begging him for a job, a job she would be perfect for, if only he could keep his hands off her.

“Josephine was quickly becoming my favorite fantasy.”

As they commence their working relationship, their mutual attraction is at the forefront of both their minds, but the more they get to know one another, the more that attraction grows into something they cannot ignore. They fight it, pretend it is not there, but their every thought is consumed by that attraction and the feelings they fail to hide at every turn.

“The continuous tease of having to be around him the last few weeks had built up the desire in my veins. Each day the passion had built with no outlet for escape.”

Now, you might think this is just another repeat of the well-knows scenario of girl-falling-for-her-wealthy-boss, but everything about this story feels fresh and unique. We are given a modern Cinderella-style setup where the “Prince” could very well ride in on his white horse, sweep the heroine off her feet and thus save the day, but this heroine is no helpless damsel in distress. She is proud and independent, and most importantly, determined to pave her own way in life, at the cost of her own heart if needed. Even at her lowest point, she never loses her drive, bravely forging ahead, and eventually “saving” herself.

“A weaker woman would have thrown herself at him a long time ago. Me? I had goals. Goals that didn’t include seducing Julian Lefray, my one and only friend in New York City.”

A charming love story, heart-warming and engaging—there is truly nothing I did not love about it. I loved the quirky characters and the sexual tension between them, I loved the humour with which this author never fails to paint even the bluest of situations, I loved the depth of emotion driving this story forward, but I loved its positive outlook on life the most, never showing life as anything less than a glass half full.

“Do you always carry a t-ball in your pants?”
“Jesus, Jo. Can we not talk about youth sports while I’m aroused?”

5stars

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