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What I Read: March 2016

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I read a lot more books this month, mainly because we spent quite a bit of time in the hot tub so I had some time to catch up on my reading. And I read quite a few great books from my TBR list! I knocked 7 books off my main TBR list which was a great start for me!

1- Into the Fury by Kat MartinA faceless menace is threatening lingerie models on a cross country tour, and Ethan Brodie is there to defend and protect. Ethan’s learned the hard way that beauty is no substitute for character. So even though Valentine Hart is one of the most breathtaking women he’s ever seen, he’s keeping his hands off and his eyes open. Or that’s what he tells himself. Then one of the models is murdered, and the closer Ethan gets to the answers, the closer he finds himself to Valentine—and the hotter the pressure feels. There’s more to Val—more to the other girls—than he could have guessed. But one is keeping a secret that could kill them all.

This was a good book that kept my interest throughout the whole story. I enjoyed the characters and will definitely read the next book in the series. The secondary characters were well developed and I hope to see them in other books later in the series. 

2- Blue by Danielle Steel– Ginny Carter was once a rising star in TV news, married to a top anchorman, with a three-year-old son and a full and happy life in Beverly Hills—until her whole world dissolved in a single instant on the freeway two days before Christmas. In the aftermath, she pieces her life back together and tries to find meaning in her existence as a human rights worker in the worst areas around the globe. Then, on the anniversary of the fateful accident—and wrestling with the lure of death herself—she meets a boy who will cause her life to change forever yet again. Thirteen-year-old Blue Williams has been living on the streets, abandoned by his family, rarely attending school, and utterly alone. Following her instincts, Ginny reaches out to him. Leery of everyone, he runs from her again and again. But he always returns, and each time, their friendship grows. Blue glows with outsized spirit and an irresistible mix of innocence and wisdom beyond his years. Ginny offers him respect as they form an unusual bond and become the family they each lost. But just as Blue is truly beginning to trust her, she learns of a shocking betrayal that he has been hiding. Is it a wound too deep to heal, or will she be able to fight the battle that will make them both whole again?

I really enjoyed this book. The main characters really evoked strong emotions during the story. Danielle Steel is always good for a tear jerker story and this one was no exception. I really disliked Ginny’s sister and brother-in-law throughout most of the book but they were necessary to add a little drama to the story. I highly recommend this book. 

3- Shades of Gray by Maya Banks– The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business. Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background. Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t… P.J. and Cole were sharpshooting rivals on the same KGI team and enjoyed a spirited, uncomplicated camaraderie. Until the night they gave in to their desires and suddenly took their relationship one step further. In the aftermath of their one-night stand, they’re called out on a mission that goes terribly wrong, and P.J. walks away from KGI, resolved not to drag her teammates into the murky shadows she’s poised to delve into. Six months later, Cole hasn’t given up his search for P.J., and he’s determined to bring her back home where she belongs. Bent on vengeance, P.J. has plunged into a serpentine game of payback that will make her question everything she’s ever believed in. But Cole-and the rest of their team-refuse to let her go it alone. Even if it means sacrificing their loyalty to KGI, and their lives.

This is book 6 in the KGI series but it can really be read in any order. I’ve only read a couple of the other books and none in order and I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I’m going back and reading the rest of them in order. Definitely recommend this series!

4- Hopeless Vows by Rachael Duncan– It was a modern take on an arranged marriage that was supposed to lead to my happily ever after. The rules were simple: 1. Marry a complete stranger chosen for you by professionals. 2. Live together as man and wife for eight weeks while cameras record your every move. 3. Make a decision to stay together or get a divorce. Call me crazy, but I had complete faith in the process, until I saw who was waiting for me at the end of the aisle. Austin James has never met me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know him. With no other choice, I say my vows and pray I can make it through the next eight weeks. Then I’ll leave. What connects us is my best kept secret, and I’ll protect it at all costs even if that means walking away from the only person I’ve ever cared about.

I loved this book. It was like an episode of Married at First Sight in book form. The main characters were great, and Austin was truly swoon worthy. There’s a big secret in this book that you don’t know until the end but when it explodes- boy does it explode. Definitely a 5 star read!

5- Dare to Run by Jen McLaughlin– Lucas Donahue is not ashamed of his criminal past, but after a brief stint in prison, he’s ready to go legit and live a normal life. The problem is, no one leaves the gang without permission—even if he is one of the boss’s top men. Plus someone’s placed a hit on him. And then there’s that feisty little bartender who’s going to cause him even more trouble. Heidi Greene knows to keep her distance from a ladies’ man like Lucas—even if she can’t keep her eyes off him. When he rescues her from an attack in the alley outside her bar, she’s forced to stay by his side for safety. But the longer she spends time with him, the greater her chances are for getting hurt in more ways than one.

I enjoyed this book. It’s book 1 in a new series and it set up the rest of the series really well. I liked Heidi- she was strong and fearless and didn’t take crap from anyone. Lucas was just hot. Seriously, HOT!

6- Fighting Dirty by Lori Foster– With the life he’s led and the muscles he’s gained, Armie Jacobson isn’t afraid of anything. Except maybe Merissa Colter’s effect on him. It’s not just that she’s his best friend’s little sister. Fact is, she deserves better. Women pursue him for one night of pleasure, and that’s all he wants to offer. Until rescuing Merissa from a robbery leads to the most erotic encounter of his life. Good girl meets bad boy. It’s a story that rarely ends well. But Merissa is taking matters into her own hands. No matter how he views himself, the Armie she knows is brave, honorable and completely loyal. And as past demons and present-day danger collide, they’re both about to learn what’s truly worth fighting for.

This is book 4 in the series and it was as fantastic as the other 3 books. I’ve been waiting for this one and it did not disappoint. I love how Lori Foster brings back all the characters from previous books- it’s like visiting with old friends. The two main characters in this story, Armie and Merissa, are just so good together and I was so happy to see it work out for them. 

7- New Leaf by Catherine AndersonWhen Taffeta Brown was viciously betrayed by her wealthy husband, she lost everything—including custody of their daughter, Sarah. Now that Taffy has moved to Mystic Creek, Oregon, to start over, she unexpectedly meets the one man who might help her get Sarah back. Barney Sterling, a local lawman, finds himself drawn to the lovely, guarded Taffy, but he’s stunned by her proposition—that they marry immediately to improve her chances of regaining custody of her daughter. Barney takes marriage too seriously to commit himself to a woman he hardly knows. Yet soon his sympathies fall with the desperate Taffy, and pretending to be in love becomes the easiest part of the plan. But they have no idea what they’re up against, or what they’re willing to risk to make a miracle come true in Mystic Creek.  

This is book 2 in the series and while not as good as the first one, it was still a good story. I enjoyed seeing the characters from the previous book in this story. The premise was great but the ending was a bit rushed and I wish it had been more developed. Still worth the read. 

8- Dark Promises by Christine Feehan– Gabrielle has had enough of battles, of wars, of seeing Gary Jansen, the man she loves nearly lose his life when it isn’t even his fight. Once he was a gentle and very human researcher. Now he’s a fearless and lethal Carpathian warrior with the blood of an ancient lineage coursing through his veins—a man Gabrielle still needs and desires and dreams of with every breath she takes. All she wants is a life far away from the Carpathian mountains, far from vampires and the shadows cast by the crumbling monastery that hides so many terrible secrets. But Gabrielle soon learns that promises made in the dark can pierce the heart like a dagger. And she isn’t the only one in search of answers in the corners of the unknown…Trixie Joanes has come to the Carpathian mountains in search of her wayward granddaughter, fearing that she has been lured there by something unspeakable. Instead, Trixie has stumbled into the path of a desperate man and a woman in love and on the run. And they’re all fated for the lair of a mysterious ancient with revenge in his soul and the undying power to make bad dreams come true.

One of my favorite authors and one of my favorite series ever. This is book 29 in the Dark Carpathian series and it was great. I’ve been waiting for years for Gabrielle and Gary’s story to happen so when the twist happened early in the book I was shocked and my heart actually sank. I almost stopped reading in protest. But I ended up being really happy with the way the story went. 

9- Jacob by Kris Michaels– Victoria Marshall didn’t cooperate by dying in the Afghani hell-hole like the CIA expected. Defying all probability, a privately-funded black ops group led by a handsome, sexy-as-sin southerner pulled her out of the warlord’s prison cell and brought her home. Even half out of her mind with pain Tori knew this man was special. She made a date with the commander to meet one year later at a restaurant of his choice. Keeping that date was the best thing she ever did. Jacob King found little physically attractive about the woman he saved from the warlord’s camp, though it was hard to see what lay under the filth and suppurating wounds she suffered from countless beatings. He admired her brave humor in the face of her agonizing injuries. This kind of tough-minded woman was someone he’d like to know as a friend. He never expected the leggy, blond bomb-shell in the red dress who showed up for their date. But then he never expected she would save his life, either. In a world of shadows, smoke, and dangerous covert missions, where people routinely vanish and living one more day was never a given, Tori and Jacob fight to build their happily ever after.

I loved this book. It was amazing. I’ve never read anything by this author before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Military books tend to either be amazing or really cheesy. Thankfully this one was amazing. Victoria was a beast. Seriously, she’s my hero. The story was fast paced and exciting and kept me interested the whole time. I already bought the next 2 books in the series, that’s how much I enjoyed this one!

10- SEALs of Honor: Mason by Dale Mayer– Kill or be killed. Part of an elite SEAL team, Mason takes on the dangerous jobs no one else wants to do – or can do. When he’s on a mission, he’s focused and dedicated. When he’s not, he plays as hard as he fights. Until he meets a woman he can’t have but can’t forget. Software developer, Tesla lost her brother in combat and has no intention of getting close to someone else in the military. Determined to save other US soldiers from a similar fate, she’s created a program that could save lives. But other countries know about the program, and they won’t stop until they get it – and get her. Time is running out… For her… For him… For them.

This was another military book that was done well. It was a little more over the top with drama than the one above. But it was still good. Tesla was another fantastic strong female lead character and she didn’t suffer from any too stupid to live moments so that’s always a plus. This is book 1 in the series so I can’t wait to read the others. 

11- Deathless & Divided by Bethany Kris– Lies and love. This is how a war starts. A life for a life. That’s the mafia way. Damian Rossi owes his life to a man who is ready to collect. That payment comes in the form of an arranged marriage to the daughter of another leading family in the Chicago Outfit. He’s ready to follow through, even if that means making sure Lily knows she’s his. Lily DeLuca isn’t being given a choice. Forced home to marry a man she doesn’t know and back into a life she’d rather forget, her world is full of half-truths, buried pain, and uncertainty. But Damian is nothing like she expects. His motives aren’t clear. Her beliefs are being tested. When it comes to this world, no man can be trusted. Someone is ready to flip the Chicago Outfit on its side all for the promise of something better. But no one runs a clean game and these men play for keeps. When blood begins to paint Chicago red, four families will be divided by loyalty, hatred, and revenge. There is no hiding. There is no safety. No one is deathless.

A mafia book! I love me some mafia books. And combine an arranged marriage with the mafia and I’m pretty much in heaven. But it took me a bit to get into this one. I enjoyed it but compared to some of my favorite mafia books this one wasn’t as great as I’d hoped it would be. 

12- Hitched by Karpov Kinrade– What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…Or it changes your life forever. He called me “wife.” This man standing naked in front of me. Tall. Dark. Sexy as sin…He’s my husband? Disjointed images from the night before, the night I can’t entirely remember, float into my mind. Meeting him in the bar. Sharing tidbits of our lives. I own a company that plans bachelor parties. He’s a pediatric heart surgeon. We both live in Las Vegas, but we come from very different worlds. And then I remember that kiss. The way his lips brushed against mine, gentle at first, then harder, deeper, with more urgency. Sex in the elevator. Hot, forbidden, delicious. I remember the way he made me feel. The way our bodies fit perfectly together. But I don’t remember marrying him. And now, he won’t let me go. Dr. Sexy who saves children for a living. He wants the summer to prove we are meant to be. I can give him a summer. But can I give him a lifetime?

A oopsy drunk marriage in Vegas? Yes please. This book was really good. The main characters were great and they had good chemistry together. There was very little real drama and focused more on them trying to make a marriage work. I enjoyed it!

13. Wrong by Jana Aston– I have a history of picking the wrong guy. Gay? Player? Momma’s boy? Check, check and check. 
Now I can’t stop fantasizing about one of the customers at the coffee shop I work at between classes. It’s just a harmless crush, right? It’s not like I ever see this guy outside of the coffee shop. It’s not like I’m going to see him while attempting to get birth control at the student clinic. While wearing a paper gown. While sitting on an exam table. Because he’s the doctor. Shoot. Me. But what if, for once, the man I’ve had the dirtiest, most scandalous fantasies about turned out to be everything but wrong?

This book was pretty entertaining. It made me laugh out loud a few times. But the male lead character was a little controlling and it got annoying. I wanted to smack him a few times. But overall it was a good book and I’ll read the next one when it releases. 

14. The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers– Five years ago, Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption. Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother. Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He promised he’d never stray again, and she trusted him. But when Juliette intercepts a letter to her husband from Tia that contains pictures of a child with a deep resemblance to her husband, her world crumbles once more. How could Nathan deny his daughter? And if he’s kept this a secret from her, what else is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl. And before long, the three women and Nathan are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted. Riveting and arresting, The Comfort of Lies explores the collateral damage of infidelity and the dark, private struggles many of us experience but rarely reveal.

This was a really good book! I enjoyed the different view points from all the characters. There were parts that were a little bit of a stretch but the story flowed well. I really did not care for the male lead character at all. He was a schmuck. But I found myself lost in the story a few times and couldn’t wait to see how it ended. 

15. Valor in Darkness by Isla Dean– Suzanne Smith started her life from scratch in the tiny coastal town of Valor, Maine after narrowly escaping death at the hands of her former fiancé. Now her life is quiet, simple, and calm—just as she wants it. Legendary Buster MacKade finished out the last baseball season with a World Series win and a torn rotator cuff. Returning to his snowy hometown in Maine to rehabilitate before heading to spring training, the national hero is fascinated and frustrated by the private woman across the street who keeps her emotions frozen under a stoic surface. Struggling to stay distant from a man who spends his life in the spotlight, she knows she can’t afford to step out of the shadows—it could mean risking her life. But when a picture of the two of them lands in the local news, she quickly becomes part of a national headline and a series of events begin to terrorize the town. Danger is creeping closer than she knows. Suzanne must decide between hiding in the dark forever, or staying and fighting for life and love.

This was a good suspenseful book that had some twists. I thought I had it all figured out but in the end I was surprised. The pacing could have been better and I wish the ending and the big reveal had been drawn out a bit more. But all in all it was a pretty good book. 

Like I said, I read quite a few books in March. I hope to read at least that many in April too!

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What I Read: February 2016

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I was so overwhelmed with trying to put my master bathroom back together again this month that I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted to but I did find a few favorites. I only bought one of these books this month, the rest were either borrows from the library or from my TBR list.

1- Defenseless by Corinne Michaels– My life is a secret. His life is dangerous. We’re both stubborn, calculating, and controlling. Mark Dixon doesn’t know what he’s getting into. He doesn’t know his games could cost us our lives. I have to do what is necessary to keep us alive, and that means guarding my heart. But I know I’m defenseless against him, and in the end, he’ll force me to surrender.

I enjoyed this book. A SEAL and a CIA agent…right up my alley. It was fast paced and the characters were developed well. It was a solid 4 star read for me. I’m not sure why it wasn’t a 5 star read. I think maybe I wanted more development in the main characters relationship. And for a CIA agent she seemed a little naive. But it was a good book and I will read more in the series if it continues. 

2- Indecent Proposal by Molly O’Keefe– With his chiseled jaw and his thick blond hair, Harrison Montgomery was born to lead. Four generations of Montgomery men have served the state of Georgia and now he’s next in line. Harrison, though, is driven to right wrongs: namely to clean up the political mess left by his father’s greed and corruption. But Harrison must first win his congressional bid, and nothing can get in his way—not even an angel who served him whiskey and gave him a shoulder to lean on and a body to love for a night. Problem is, she’s pregnant. Scandal is brewing and there is only one solution: marriage. Damage control? Ryan Kaminski can’t believe that a cold, calculating political animal now inhabits the body of the emotionally vulnerable stranger who’d given her the most unforgettable night of her life. Really, she doesn’t want anything from Harrison, except to be left alone to have her baby in peace. But Ryan is broke, jobless, and essentially blackmailed by Harrison’s desperate family to accept this crazy marriage deal. For two years, she will have to act the role of caring, supportive wife. But what is Ryan supposed to do when she realizes that, deep in her heart, she’s falling in love.

I loved this book. I’m a huge fan of the arranged marriage and marriage of convenience story lines so this book was my kind of story. I loved the angst and the conflict. I really liked the main characters. I liked that Ryan wasn’t a weak simpering woman. She was strong and didn’t take any crap. Definitely a 5 Star read. 

3. Darkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks– The enigmatic Hancock has been both opponent and ally to the KGI teams for as long as they’ve known him. Always working a deep game, Hancock’s true allegiance has never been apparent, but one thing is for certain—he never lets anything get in the way of duty. But now, his absolute belief in the primacy of his ultimate goal is challenged by a captive he’s been ordered to guard, no matter how much she suffers in her prison. She’s the only woman who’s ever managed to penetrate the rigid walls surrounding his icy heart, but will he allow his perplexing feelings for the beautiful victim to destroy a mission he’s spent years working to complete or will he be forced to sacrifice her for “the greater good.

This is book 10 in the KGI series. I’ve only read 2 of the other books and I wasn’t lost at all so I think this one definitely stands alone. Although I am going to read the rest of them because I liked the characters. I loved this book. I wasn’t sure going into it that I was going to love it because it seems very un-romance like to have the male lead willing to sacrifice the female lead for any reason. But it worked in the story. You have to read it to see how and why. 

4. The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton– Football pro Mick Riley is an all-star, both on the field and in the bedroom. But a sexy, determinedly single mom just might be the one to throw him off his game. For years Mick has been taking full advantage of the life available to a pro athlete: fame, fortune, and a different girl in every city. But when he meets and beds confident, beautiful event planner Tara Lincoln, he wants much more than the typical one-night stand. Too bad Tara’s not interested in getting to know football’s most notorious playboy any better. As the single mother of a teenage son, the last thing Tara needs is the jet-set lifestyle of Mick Riley; even though their steamy and passionate one-night stand was unforgettable. Tara’s life is complicated enough without being thrust into the spotlight as Mick’s latest girl du jour. Tara played the game of love once and lost big, and she doesn’t intend to put herself out there again, especially with a heartbreaker like Mick. But when Mick sets his mind to win, nothing will stop him. And he has the perfect play in mind.

I’ve read a couple of the other books in the Play by Play series and really enjoyed them. This is book 1 and I figured I should read it too. I liked this book. It was a solid 4 star read for me. There was a lot of smexy time and it did detract from the story a little bit, which is why it wasn’t a 5 star read. Still a solid book and worth the read.

5. Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb– Dennis Mira just had two unpleasant surprises. First he learned that his cousin Edward was secretly meeting with a real estate agent about their late grandfather’s magnificent West Village brownstone, despite the promise they both made to keep it in the family. Then, when he went to the house to confront Edward about it, he got a blunt object to the back of the head. Luckily Dennis is married to Charlotte Mira, the NYPSD’s top profiler and a good friend of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. When the two arrive on the scene, he explains that the last thing he saw was Edward in a chair, bruised and bloody. When he came to, his cousin was gone. With the mess cleaned up and the security disks removed, there’s nothing left behind but a few traces for forensics to analyze.  As a former lawyer, judge, and senator, Edward Mira mingled with the elite and crossed paths with criminals, making enemies on a regular basis. Like so many politicians, he also made some very close friends behind closed—and locked—doors. But a badge and a billionaire husband can get you into places others can’t go, and Eve intends to shine some light on the dirty deals and dark motives behind the disappearance of a powerful man, the family discord over a multimillion-dollar piece of real estate . . . and a new case that no one saw coming.

I just adore the In Death series. This is book 42 and I’ve read every one of them, some of them I’ve read multiple times. They are just THAT good. It’s one of those series where you just feel like you know the characters and you really care about them. If you haven’t yet started this series, what are you waiting for? Go. NOW! 

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What I Read: January 2016

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This year I have committed to reading as many books off of my TBR lists as I can. Yes, I said TBR lists. It’s ridiculous how many unread books are on my kindle. I have a problem. I’m a book hoarder. So instead of buying every book that catches my eye, I’m concentrating on finding those hidden gems already on my Kindle. All of the books I read this month are books that came straight from one of my TBR lists. 

January Reads:

1- Life Support by Candace Calvert: Nurse Lauren Barclay put her life on hold to keep a watchful eye on her troubled sister. It’s why she’s back in Houston. But that means confronting the brooding physician assistant who caused painful turmoil in her family–and left Lauren with memories her heart can’t forgive.PA and single parent Elijah Landry is no stranger to stormy relationships, including one with his father, who is threatening him with a restraining order. It won’t stop Eli from protecting his disabled brother–or from making peace with Lauren. He wants that and so much more.But as Lauren and Eli draw closer, a powerful hurricane roars toward Houston. Survival instincts take priority and everything changes. Can hope weather the storm?

I liked this book. It’s a Christian Fiction book so it was very clean but it didn’t center totally on religion. The story was good but it lacked action. I thought the hurricane storyline would have some action but it was more drama driven. Still a good read though. 

2- Her Vigilant SEAL by Caitlyn O’Leary: Sophia Anderson takes care of everyone but herself. She will stop at nothing to keep her family safe. When she goes searching for her runaway little brother in a bad part of town, she becomes the one in need of rescue. Navy SEAL, Mason Gault, faced many dangers while in the line of duty. No matter how bad a mission has gone, he finds solace in three things: His family, friends and the waves of the Pacific. When he hears a woman’s screams for help, he charges in to save her without a second thought. Sophia is burdened with scars from her past. Mason understands that empowering her spirit is just as important as protecting her well-being. As their love and passion soars, so do threats against her. Can Mason continue to be the compassionate white knight that she needs, while ensuring her safety?

This was actually my first 5 star read of 2016. I really enjoyed this book. Plenty of action, plenty of steamy, plenty of hot SEALs. The storyline was fast paced and the characters were interesting. The MC, Sophia, was hard-headed, stubborn, and strong. I liked her a lot. She wasn’t a weak, silly, girly girl who waited around to be saved. Definitely worth the read. This is book 1 in a series but no cliffhanger ending.

3- Her Loyal SEAL by Caitlyn O’Leary: Lydia Hidalgo is still defiant as she and her family are sentenced to death at the hands of the Mexican drug cartel. Not knowing if she will survive, her one request is that her sister will be cared for. Clint Archer and his team mates will stop at nothing to rescue Lydia and her family from their captors. Having to carry this brave woman for five days through the jungle creates a bond that he cannot resist. The closer they get to civilization, the slimmer Lydia’s chance of survival becomes. The Midnight Delta SEAL team work desperately to get her the help she needs, while Clint finds himself losing his heart more each day.

This is book 2 in the same SEAL series. It was a good story with action and a strong female lead. I liked this book but I loved book 1 more. I would definitely recommend reading book 1 first because the story overlaps. I’ll read book 3 when it comes out even though this one wasn’t my favorite. 

4- Talon by Carian Cole: The concept was scary but exciting… Marry a total stranger. Live together for six months. Journal everything. (Feelings. Fights. All of it.) After six months, we each get $50K in trade for our journals, whether we stay married or not. But the goal is to commit to the experience and see if the relationship experts could put together the perfect matches. I have never been lucky in love. This was my chance to find my soulmate. I couldn’t wait to meet the man the experts felt was perfect for me. My hopes were immediately dashed when I saw him at the altar. I married my worst nightmare. Right?!

And this was my second 5 star read of the year. This book is number 4 in a series but I have not read the others and this one definitely stands alone. I loved this book. I love watching shows like Arranged, Married at First Sight, and Married by Mom & Dad. I think they’re fascinating and this book is the print version of those shows. It was so good! 

5- Bury the Hatchet by Catherine Gayle: He was poised to be an elite goalie for a contending team. Hunter Fielding has long since proven himself to be one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. The problem? His former team had another (slightly better) backstop. They left Hunter out to dry, the upstart Tulsa Thunderbirds claimed him in the expansion draft, and he made a few stupid comments about backasswards Oklahomans. Now the T-Birds say the only way he can redeem himself is to make nice for the media with some local goody two shoes who’s made some mistakes of her own. Oklahoma’s sweetheart could do no wrong until she could do no right. Tallulah Belle Roth was the reigning Miss Oklahoma USA until a night of out-of-control drinking, a naked foray in a hot tub with very bad boy, and a bunch of lowlights on TMZ. Now she’s been stripped of her crown and is facing the censure of the same people who made her out to be Little Miss Perfect. Tallie won’t ever get her title back, but her life is another matter—and the only way the public will allow her to do that is if she presents herself as happily settled with someone else under Oklahoma’s eye. The marriage is to be in name only—one year of sickeningly-sweet lovey-dovey PDA, all to get their detractors to bury the hatchet. Those kisses and tender moments for the cameras take an emotional toll, though. Can in name only be enough?

And this was my third 5 star read of January. Holy cow! This book was so good. It’s the first in a new series by Catherine Gayle and it centers around hockey. Again, the arranged marriage storyline is one I enjoy so this book was right up my alley. I loved all the different dynamics and relationships in this story. I will definitely be reading the other books in the series. 

6- The Best Goodbye by Abbi Glines: The look on Rose’s face had screamed that she was hiding something. Hell, she’d practically run away from me. There was something to that. I knew there was…After ten years in the employ of a mysterious crime boss, River “Captain” Kipling is ready to leave his sordid past—and his cover occupation as an upscale restaurateur—behind him. The only thing standing in the way of his “retirement” is his commitment to launch a new restaurant in the resort town of Rosemary Beach. With his sister, Blaire, nearby, Captain can delay his dream of running a humble bar on the waterfront, but the unwanted attentions of his head server, Elle, have him itching to get out. Until he notices Rose Henderson, the new server at the restaurant. All he knows about the pretty redhead with the cute glasses is that she’s a hardworking single mom from Oklahoma. But there’s something overly familiar about her laugh…something strange about the way she looks at Captain.

This is book 12 in the Rosemary Beach series and while each book is a standalone it helps to read them in order so you know the characters. I enjoyed this book but it’s definitely not my favorite in the series. I had a hard time connecting to the characters and I didn’t love the storyline. Still a good book but not one I would read again. 

Pretty amazing that I ended up with 3 five star reads in January and all of them came from my TBR lists! That tells me I definitely need to get those books read before I buy new ones. So I’m staying the course- read the books on my TBR lists and only buy new books from my must-read authors. Bonus- think of all the money I’ll save!

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10 Nonfiction Books On My 2016 Reading List

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It’s no secret that I read a lot, right? Most of the books I read are fiction- I love romance, romantic suspense, mystery, contemporary fiction, chick lit….I love them all. But I also love to mix it up with some non-fiction books too. I have an abundance of them saved on my Kindle just waiting for me to get to them. This year I want to make a point to read at least 10 of them, if not more. These are the top 10 non-fiction books that I already own that I want to read this year. It’s a mix of funny, inspirational, parenting…

1- Carry on, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton– Glennon Doyle Melton’s hilarious and poignant reflections on our universal (yet often secret) experiences have inspired a social movement by reminding women that they’re not alone. In Carry On, Warrior, she shares her personal story in moving, refreshing, and laugh-out-loud-funny new essays and some of the best-loved material from Momastery.com. Her writing invites us to believe in ourselves, to be brave and kind, to let go of the idea of perfection, and to stop making motherhood, marriage, and friendship harder by pretending they’re not hard. In this one woman’s trying to love herself and others, readers will find a wise and witty friend who shows that we can build better lives in our hearts, homes, and communities.

2- I Heart My Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert– Once upon a time you and your partner had a perfect life: dinners out, weekend mornings cuddling in bed, brunch with friends. Then you gave birth to a poop machine (or two). Now, it’s all about the pediatrician, breast pumps, princess dresses, and minivans. And discovering that your pride and joy is actually a little A-hole. When your son wakes you up at 3:00 A.M. because he wants to watch Caillou, he’s an a-hole. When your daughter outlines every corner of your living room with a purple crayon, she’s an a-hole. When your rug rats purposely paint the kitchen ceiling with their smoothies, they’re a-holes. At times like these, it’s only natural to want to kill them (or yourself). But it’s against the law (and there’s the suicide hotline). Plus, there’s that whole loving them more than anything in the whole world thing. In I Heart My Little A-Holes, Karen Alpert shares hilarious stories, lists, and deep thoughts on the joys and horrors of raising children. Accompanied by cheery illustrations and photos I Heart My Little A-Holes will make you laugh so hard you’ll wish you were wearing a diaper.

3- Sh*tty Mom by Karen Moline– Sh*tty Mom is the ultimate parenting guide, written by four moms who have seen it all. As hilarious as it is universal, each chapter presents a common parenting scenario with advice on how to get through it in the easiest and most efficient way possible. With chapters such as How to Sleep Until 9 A.M. Every Weekend and When Seeing an Infant Triggers a Mental Illness That Makes You Want to Have Another Baby, as well as a Sh*tty Mom quiz, this is a must-have, laugh-out-loud funny book for the sh*tty parent in all of us.

4- Ketchup is a Vegetable by Robin O’Bryant– If you don’t have anything nice to say about motherhood, then… read this book. Robin O’Bryant offers a no holds barred look at the day to day life of being a mother to three, running a household and the everyday monotony of parenting. It’s not always pretty but it’s real. Whether she’s stuffing cabbage in her bra… dealing with defiant yet determined daughters… yelling at the F.B.I… or explaining the birds and the bees to her preschooler… you’re sure to find dozens of humorous and relatable situations. From the creator of Robin’s Chicks, one of the South’s most popular blogs on motherhood, misunderstandings and musings, comes a collection of essays that will not only make you laugh and cry, but realize that you’re not alone in your journey.
Sit back and relax, pour yourself some “mommy juice,” throw a fresh diaper on your baby and deadbolt the bedroom door to keep your kids out… because once you start reading you’ll be too busy wiping away tears of laughter to wipe anybody’s butt.

5- Moms who Drink and Swear by Nicole Knepper– Attention all potty-mouthed, cheap-wine-drinking mothers: Prepare to meet your match. Any bad thought you’ve had about your kids, Nicole Knepper has had worse. Much worse. It’s not that she doesn’t love her kids. It’s that she understands what a mind-f*?% it can be to try to civilize those wild little beasts. Based on her hugely popular Facebook page, “Moms Who Drink and Swear,” this book reveals why family dinners are like herpes, how to avoid smashing toys that are being fought over, and the joy of hearing that your son has murdered his imaginary friend. As Nicole rants and raves about caring for children (without crushing their souls), family togetherness (without too many tears), the saving grace of girlfriends (and vodka), and love and marriage (and all the baggage that goes with them), she gets to the heart of what every exasperated mom is thinking, just much funnier.  

6- People I Want To Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann– Jen Mann doesn’t have a filter, which sometimes gets her in trouble with her neighbors, her fellow PTA moms, and that one woman who tried to sell her sex toys at a home shopping party. Known for her hilariously acerbic observations on her blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Mann now brings her sharp wit to bear on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood in this laugh-out-loud collection of essays. From the politics of joining a play group, to the thrill of mothers’ night out at the gun range, to the rewards of your most meaningful relationship (the one you have with your cleaning lady), nothing is sacred or off-limits. So the next time you find yourself wearing fuzzy bunny pajamas in the school carpool line or accidentally stuck at a co-worker’s swingers party, just think, What would Jen Mann do? Or better yet, buy her book.

7- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson– When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it. In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.

8- Nobody’s Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle– There is nothing as precious in life as a friend who knows you and loves you in spite of yourself. Yet over the last couple of decades, we’ve substituted the joy of real friendship with cheap imitations. We settle for “community” on Facebook and Twitter and a series of text messages that allow us to communicate with someone without the commitment. We like each other’s beautifully filtered photos on Instagram and delude ourselves into believing we have a community. But real friendship requires effort. It’s showing up, laughing loud, and crying hard. It’s forgiving and loving and giving the benefit of the doubt. It’s making a casserole, doing a carpool pickup, and making sure she knows those cute shoes are 50 percent off. Written in the same comedic style as the New York Times bestsellers Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room, Nobody’s Cuter than You is a laugh-out-loud look at the special bond that exists between friends and a poignant celebration of all the extraordinary people God had the good sense to bring into our lives at exactly the right moments. From the friendships we develop over a lifetime to the ones that wounded us and the ones that taught us to love better, Melanie Shankle reveals the influence our friends have on who we were, who we are, and who we will become. And on a day when our jeans feel too tight, our chins have decided to embrace hormone-related acne reminiscent of our teen years, and our kids have tested the limits of our sanity, they are the ones who will look at us and say, “Nobody’s cuter than you!”

9- A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson– There’s nothing quite like family—for good or bad. But in a world where we sometimes know more about the Kardashians than we do the people sleeping right down the hall, it’s easy to forget that walking through life with our family offers all sorts of joy wrapped up in the seemingly mundane. There’s even a little bit of sacred sitting smack-dab in the middle of the ordinary. And since time’s-a-wastin’, we need to be careful that we don’t take our people—and their stories—for granted. Whether it’s a marathon bacon-frying session, a road trip gone hysterically wrong, or a mother-in-law who makes every trip to the grocery store an adventure, author Sophie Hudson reminds us how important it is to slow down and treasure the day-to-day encounters with the people we love the most.

10- Ever After by Vicki Courtney– Most every woman dreams about having a family and a building a home. We grow up on a steady diet of fairytales and chick flicks that drive our dreams . . . and leave us with a sugarcoated version of reality. We want it all: the prince, the kiss, the proposal, the ring, the castle, and eventually, the kids in smocked rompers playing cheerfully on the perfectly manicured lawn. Our hopes and dreams are pinned on the world’s version of happily-ever-after. The problem is, the fairytales and chick flicks end where real life begins. We never see that follow-up scene where the prince and princess argue at 3 a.m. over who will get up with the colicky newborn. Or the princess reluctantly returns to work to help pay the bills and feels the stress of juggling work and family. And you certainly won’t see that part where the princess moves her last child into the dorm and realizes the bulk of her identity has been based on being a mother. The truth is, marriage and motherhood are hard. Few of us are prepared to handle the balancing act of being a good wife and a good mother, without one or the other getting the short end of the stick. No matter how much we give or how hard we try, we never quite feel like it’s enough. And heaven help us, we always imagine every one else is doing a much better job. In Ever After, best-selling author Vicki Courtney addresses the realities of marriage and motherhood, the difficulties and the blessings. It offers women a behind the scenes glimpse of what a fairytale really looks like on the average day for the average wife and mom. Poignant, funny, and even cathartic, Vicki shares mistakes made, lessons learned, and memories to keep. Most of all, she reflects the hope and promise that God meets us in the middle wherever we are in the journey.

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My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2015

I read a whole lot of great books in 2015 and definitely found some favorites! I didn’t read as many books in 2015 but I think I read a lot of really good ones- quality over quantity is always good! I had a hard time narrowing down my favorites into a list.

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1- The Price of Love by Laramie Briscoe– Harmony and Reaper thought life would be easier once they sealed the deal. Stage personas put to the side, settling into marriage should have allowed them to be Hannah and Garrett to the world at large. Boy, were they ever wrong! Pressure from record companies, fans, and the people surrounding them put their brand-new union under the strain of the entertainment machine. Long nights apart, quick meetings in hotel rooms, and new faces on the music scene were not what either of them thought they would have to contend with. When love is strong, emotions go haywire, and frustration is at an all-time high, everyone’s true colors are revealed. Hannah and Garrett have a decision to make – is fame worth the price of love?

This is book 2 in the series and it was as amazing as book 1. I highly recommend this series. There are 4 books and 1 novella. I’ve read books 1 & 2 and the 1.5 novella. I have books 3 & 4 waiting for me on my Kindle!

2- Night Hush by Leslie Jones– When Army Intelligence officer Heather Langstrom’s military convoy is ambushed and she’s taken prisoner, she knows she’ll need all her strength and courage to survive, escape her captors, and report the whispers of unrest brewing in the Middle East. Delta Force Captain Jace Reed isn’t one to throw caution to the wind, but when his team stumbles upon beaten and weak Heather fleeing the terrorist training camp they’ve been dispatched to destroy, he’ll risk everything to get her to safety. Once back on base, they learn her convoy’s ambush was no accident … she’d been targeted. As the evidence of an impending attack mounts, Jace and Heather uncover a deadly terrorist plot that could kill hundreds of civilians. But Jace’s protective instincts and Heather’s fierce independence put them at constant odds. And as they close in on the extremists, they must learn to trust one another in order to save innocent lives … even if it means sacrificing their own.

This book was so good. Book 2 is out now and I have it on my Kindle so I’ll be starting it soon. I love military books and this one did not disappoint.

3- The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson– Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief. Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady’s prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her? Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days. When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn’t just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she’s capable of ever giving again. As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there’s more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there’s more to life than death.

Oh this book. It made me feel all the feels and I even shed a tear or two. It was wonderfully written and realistic. It also featured a mom in the middle of a hectic life, raising kids, and managing a house. I could relate to her, and I could see myself in her reactions. 

4- Bound by Honor by Cora Reilly– Born into one of the leading Mob families in Chicago, Aria Scuderi struggles to find her own path in a world where no choices are given. Aria was only fifteen when her parents betrothed her to Luca – The Vice – Vitiello, the oldest son of the head of the New York Cosa Nostra to ensure peace between the two families. Now at eighteen, the day Aria has been dreading for years is looming dangerously: her wedding to Luca. Aria is terrified of marrying a man she hardly knows, especially someone like Luca who got his nickname ‘the Vice’ for crushing a man’s throat with his bare hands. Luca might be one of the most sought after men in New York thanks to his good looks, wealth and predator-like charisma that radiates power, but the society girls throwing themselves at him don’t know what Aria does: that the bad boy aura isn’t just a game; blood and death lurk beneath Luca’s striking gray eyes and arrogant smile. In her world a handsome exterior often hides the monster within; a monster who can just as easily kill as kiss you. The only way to escape the marriage to Luca would be to run away and leave everything she’s ever known behind but Aria can’t bear the thought of never seeing her family again. Despite her fear, she decides to go through with the marriage; Aria has grown up among predators like Luca and knows that even most cold-hearted bastards have a heart and she has every intention of working her way into Luca’s.

I adore this book. Actually I adore the entire series. I have a serious love affair with mafia stories when they’re done well and this series is done well. I’ve read the first 3 books in the series and they were all fabulous. I still need to read book 4 and book 5 should be released soon. 

5- Fire Down Below by Debra Anastasia– Dove Glitch is embarrassed about everything above her knees and below her belly button. When she has to fill a delicate, embarrassing prescription the last thing she needs is a sexy-as-hell (and brand spanking new) pharmacist behind the counter. Johnson Fitzwell’s first day of his dream career also happens to coincide with the exact moment Dove needs her feminine meds filled. His glorious voice is way too loud–as in, he should be counting down the hits with Ryan Seacrest kind of loud. Thanks to Johnson’s handsome face and gorgeous jaw line, Dove dives headlong into her waking nightmare and asks for a vagina-scented cream. How could she not fall for him? Dove’s only active goal now is to get Johnson to kiss her right on the lips. Either set. However, his horrible girlfriend is one of many obstacles preventing her from making that fantasy a reality. When Dove defends Johnson in the most unhygienic, unconventionally gross way in the middle of a crowded restaurant, their tender, slightly tantric relationship is off to a galloping, farting start. Each print copy of this book will be dipped in holy water by my mom, and glared at by my father as he purses his lips. Neither will help. So, drop your pants and turn to the left and cough. I hope you’re not allergic to latex, because it’s time to fill your prescription. Anally.

If you like raunchy, laugh out loud books that will alternately make you giggle and blush then this is the book for you. I laughed so hard while reading this one. And book 2 was just released so I can’t wait to dive into that one!

6- Blocked by Jennifer Lane– College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. ¡Híjole! Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her. Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President. When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?

This book was really good. It doesn’t kill you with political stuff but it’s really interesting to see the premise played out in the pages. There’s enough politics to make it interesting and enough romance to keep it enjoyable. I enjoyed it a lot. Book 2 was just released so I’ll be reading it soon. 

7- The Consequences of Loving Colton by Rachel Van Dyken– My name is Milo Caro and I have a confession to make. I’ve been in love with Colton Mathews since I was five. He should have known that sharing a cookie with a sugar obsessed little monster would do the trick–it sealed his fate. So really, the fact that he’s sporting a black eye, a limp, almost got ran over by a car, and was nearly responsible for another person’s death? Right. HIs fault. Not mine. I made a pact with myself–this weekend would be different. I’d come home for my brothers wedding, smile, and Colton would naturally melt into my arms, we’d get married have five kids, live in a house by the river, and get a dog named scratch (clearly I’ve thought this through). What really happened? I punched my brother in the face, Colton kissed me and apologized, I lied about having a boyfriend, oh and everyone wants to meet the mystery man. They say laughter always comes before insanity–ha, ha. All I wanted was my brother’s best friend…instead I’m sitting in prison. Let this be a lesson to you all…life rarely happens the way you want it to. Damn cookie.

Oh my gosh- this book is hysterically funny. When a book makes me laugh so hard that the whole bed is shaking and my poor husband wakes up- that’s a funny book! Book 2 was just as good and I cannot wait for book 3!

8- Carter Reed 2 by Tijan– Carter bought his way out of the mafia to protect Emma, but when an old ghost returns to the Mauricio Family, a chain of events starts that can harm everyone. While Carter must decide to return to the Mauricio Family or not, a face that is oddly familiar to Emma comes into her life. She’s given the chance to discover more about her family while tension between the rivaling Mauricio and Bertal Family comes to a head in an explosive way. The truce is officially off, and when the two worlds collide, Carter’s decision is made. He didn’t start this war, but he will end it. He will do anything to protect Emma. 

This is book 2 and it was every bit as good as book 1. I love this series. It’s another mafia book and it’s exceptional! If you haven’t read anything by Tijan then you need to. This series and her Fallen Crest series are 2 of my absolute favorites. 

9- Burn by Suzanne Wright– Part of a small demon lair in North Las Vegas, tattooist Harper Wallis lives a pretty simple life. That changes overnight when she discovers that her psychic mate, or ‘anchor’, is a guy who’s rumored to be the most powerful demon in existence. Compelling, full of secrets and armed with raw sexuality, Knox Thorne is determined to claim her as his anchor, creating a psychic bond that will prevent their inner demons from ever turning rogue. The billionaire also wants Harper in his bed. She’s not so sure she wants either of those things. No one seems to know what breed of demon Knox is, only that he’s more dangerous than anything she’s ever before encountered. But he refuses to walk away. And when an unknown danger starts closing in on Harper, it seems that Knox is the only one who can keep her safe. As Prime of his Las Vegas lair and a successful businessman, Knox Thorne is used to being in control. He’s also used to people fearing and obeying him. Harper does neither, which unexpectedly amuses him. Unpredictable, elusive, and complex, she draws Knox and his inner demon like nothing ever has. Knox is used to getting what he wants, and he wants Harper. He’ll have her, and he’ll keep her safe from the threat that looms over her. Because Knox protects what’s his. He won’t allow anyone to take her from him. Even if it will mean letting the demon inside him rise and wreak the havoc it was created to make.

I’m not normally big on demon books but this author is one of my favorites so I gave the book a try. And it ended up being one of my favorites of the whole year. The story is fantastic! I cannot wait until book 2 is released. 

10- Letters to Love by Soraya Lane– When her sister Lila and brother-in-law Gray are killed in a tragic accident, Bella is named as guardian to her two young nephews. Then she discovers that she’s expected to co-parent with Gray’s best friend, and grief turns to shock. Noah has always driven her crazy, and Bella’s sure the arrogant, handsome Navy SEAL is the last person she wants to share a life with. Just as it seems they’ll never see eye to eye, letters from Lila start to arrive—letters she wrote in case they ever ended up in this situation. And so the reluctant couple follows her instructions, spending ever more time together as part of their unexpected, unconventional family. Forced into an impossible situation, will these letters from the past bring them together?

Another book that made me feel all the feels. It was so good. Watching the 2 main characters navigate through their own grief while trying to raise their nephews was both touching and painful. I love books that can make me feel the emotions of the characters and this one definitely did that. 

Reading is one of the great joys in my life and I cannot wait to find out what my favorite books will be in 2016. 

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