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What I Read: February 2015

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 I read a lot of great books this month. I made a serious dent in my TBR List and discovered a few new favorites! As a reminder, I’m sharing my 5 Star and 4 Star Favorites every month this year. 

5 Stars = I loved it and it has an honored spot on my all-time favorite, will read again, list

4 Stars = I really really liked it but I won’t read it again

 

February 5 Star Reads:

1. Again For The First Time by Raven St. Pierre– “Marry me” were the last words Luke thought he’d say to a perfect stranger. Then again, Lissette never dreamed she’d actually say “yes”. But she did…The odds are against them from the start of their less than conventional marriage, but the couple quickly realizes that their newfound love is absolutely worth the risk.

I was really interested by the premise of this story. I wanted to see how it worked and how it would end. I was totally engrossed in watching the two main characters try to create a relationship when they were strangers. The supporting secondary cast of characters were fantastic and added a lot to the storyline. I will definitely read more books in the series as they are released. 

2. Shatter by Erin McCarthy– Kylie Warner prides herself on being optimistic, but after finding her best friend in bed with her boyfriend and flunking chemistry, her upbeat attitude has taken a dive. Even an impromptu hook-up with her sexy new chemistry tutor only brightens her mood slightly. After all, it’s not like she’ll ever see the tattooed scholar again. While he’s a whiz at complex equations, Jonathon Kadisch has trouble when it comes to figuring out women. So when Kylie tells him that she’s pregnant after their night of passion, he’s at a complete loss. He’s prepared to be a good father—unlike his own deadbeat dad—but he’s less prepared to fall for the genuine and alluring blonde bearing his child. With emotions running high, Kylie wonders if Jonathon’s devotion is out of growing love or looming obligation. And when heartbreak threatens to tear them apart, Jonathon will have to fight for the only girl who’s ever made him feel whole.

This is the 4th book in the True Believers series but I have not read the other 3. The back story was easy to follow and I didn’t feel lost in the story line. I enjoyed the relationship between the 2 main characters. Warning: this book does include graphic description of a miscarriage so if that’s a trigger for you then you might want to skip this one. It made my heart ache for the main character and I was rooting for their relationship. There was a lot of story packed into this one book with multiple storylines going on at one time but it’s done so well that you don’t feel confused or overwhelmed. 

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 my heart. This book tugged on heartstrings I didn’t even know I had. I could feel the grief practically jumping off the pages in the first few chapters of the book. Being a mom of 5 kids it was really easy for me to project myself into the main characters life and feel her grief. I loved everything about this book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

4. Want Me by Cynthia Eden– Sophie Sarantos has a weakness for dangerous men. She doesn’t like safe lovers—she likes men with a wild, rough edge. But Sophie may have attracted a lover who is too dangerous, even for her. Someone is stalking Sophie, slipping into her home, watching her day and night. The stranger seems to know all of Sophie’s darkest secrets, secrets that should never be revealed. Out of options, Sophie turns to ex-solider Lex Jensen for protection. Lex is part owner of VJS Protection, Inc., and Sophie hires him as her bodyguard. She thinks Lex is one of the “good guys” out there, but she couldn’t be more wrong. Lex has his own secrets. Dark, deadly secrets. And as his feelings for Sophie grow, Lex knows that he is going to have to stop pretending to be a gentleman and, instead, he’ll have to show Sophie who he really is. A man trained to kill. A man too used to evil. A man who will take any risk…as long as he can claim Sophie. Because there is one thing that Lex wants in this world…one person he desires above all others…Sophie. And no one will hurt her, not on his watch. 

I love a good suspense story with some romance thrown in and this book did not disappoint. It’s book 2 in the Dark Obsession series and it’s as good as the first one. The main characters were stubborn and hot and had some great chemistry. The storyline was tight and moved along at a fast pace. I can’t wait to read the third book- all 3 books in this series are standalones with continuing characters. 

5. Intoxicate by Tessa Teevan– Marry me. Two words Kalli Montgomery never expected to say out loud to Xavier Cruz, even though she’s been in love with the sexy, single father for as long as she can remember. Unfortunately, she hasn’t just been friend-zoned for the past ten years. No, even worse, he’s treated her like a little sister, no matter how hard she tried to prove she could be so much more. When she agrees to spend the summer as the caregiver for his daughter, Lily, she knows it’s her last chance to finally make him take notice. As unexpected circumstances threaten to disrupt his home life, Xavier’s desperate to keep his family together. He’ll do whatever it takes, even if it means marrying a woman he doesn’t love. For Xavier and Lily, Kalli will do just about anything, even at the risk of getting her heart broken in the process. Little does she know, sometimes love isn’t quite as unrequited as one may think. Xavier sees her-he always has. And the vow he made all those years ago never to go there with his best friend’s little sister is wavering, and it’s wavering fast. When they come up with a plan that leads to wedding bells, it’s a no brainer. This marriage of convenience has one rule: absolutely no falling in loveEasier said than done. Throw together a girl who believes rules are meant to be broken, and a man whose whole career revolves around following orders and you get a recipe for disaster. What could possibly go wrong?

I have loved every book in this series- this is book 4. They are all fantastic and the stories flow right into one another but they are all standalones. I am a sucker for marriage of convenience stories and this one was great! You don’t necessarily have to read them in order but I would recommend it- you’ll get so much more out of the stories if you read them in order.

6. Laces and Lace by Toni Aleo– Nine years ago, things were perfect. Lacey and Karson had found their happily ever after in each other…or so they thought. How do two people who were meant to be move on from that once-in-a-lifetime love? Lacey has a strength inside her that comes alive with the things she’s most passionate about. She’s a fighter, a survivor, and has everything she’s ever wanted but the one thing that matters most—love. Karson is doing the one thing he loves most—playing hockey for the Assassins, yet he knows regret. He knows his life has been missing the one thing he walked away from so many years ago—Lacey. Nine years later, and neither has been able to succeed in moving on from what was, what could have been, and who each of their hearts still beats for. When a chance encounter during a fateful night has their paths crossing again, will the tether still attaching their souls allow them to face the past, present, and a possible future? Can two people with fate on their side find a way back to each other? Overcome all the obstacles in their way to finally live life together to the fullest?  Or will they let those around them and the circumstances they face, along with questions and doubt, ruin a second chance at the life they both deserve? 

I’m a huge fan of Toni Aleo’s Assassins series. I love hockey and I love sports themed romance books. This one was great because it combined a heart-wrenching story of breast cancer with a sports theme. Toni Aleo created a couple of characters in this book that I wanted to nut punch which just added to the angst I felt while reading. You don’t have to read the series in order but I recommend it!

7. Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb– Eve Dallas has solved a lot of high-profile murders for the NYPSD and gotten a lot of media. She – with her billionaire husband – is getting accustomed to being an object of attention, of gossip, of speculation. But now Eve has become the object of one person’s obsession. Someone who finds her extraordinary, and thinks about her every hour of every day. Who believes the two of them have a special relationship. Who would kill for her again and again. An aggressive defense attorney who’s sparred with Eve in the courtroom is the first victim, but she isn’t the last. The messages left for Eve at the crime scenes chill her and turn her stomach. It doesn’t get much more personal than this – and Eve refuses to hand the investigation over to anyone else. With a murderer reading meaning into her every move, handling this case will be a delicate – and dangerous – psychological dance. And Eve knows that underneath the worship and admiration, a terrible threat lies in wait. Because the beautiful lieutenant is not at all grateful for these bloody offerings from her “true and loyal friend.” And in time, idols always fall.

I love every single book that J.D. Robb writes in her In Death series. They are just all-time favorites and I will read every single one again and again. If you’ve never read this series, start immediately with Book 1. You will not be disappointed. 

8. 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’m a huge lover of Mafia romance books. I recently found this series and was hooked immediately. This book was great. I loved the premise of the girl forced into a marriage with the head of a mafia family- I know, so totally un-PC of me. But it was a great book. I loved the main characters and how they learned to relate to each other while still navigating the mafia world they had to live within. 

9. Bound By Duty by Cora Reilly– Dante – The Boss – Cavallaro’s wife died four years ago. On the verge of becoming the youngest head in the history of the Chicago mafia, Dante needs a new wife and Valentina was chosen for the role. Valentina lost her husband, too, but her first marriage had always been for show. When she was eighteen, she agreed to marry Antonio in order to hide the truth: that he was gay and in love with an outsider. Even after his death, she kept his secret, not only to preserve the honor of a dead man, but also to protect herself. But now that she’s about to marry Dante, her castle of lies threatens to crash. Dante is only thirty-six but already feared and respected in the Familia, and he’s notorious for always getting what he wants. Valentina is terrified the wedding night will reveal her secret, but her worries prove unfounded when Dante shows her the cold shoulder. Soon her fear is replaced by confusion and indignation. Valentina is tired of being ignored. She’s determined to get Dante’s attention and desire, even if she can’t get his heart that still belongs to his dead wife.

This is book 2 in the series from above. It was as good as book 2 and maybe even a little more angsty than book 1. I loved it. I absolutely cannot wait until book 3 is released!

10. 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.
 

I will warn you up front, friends. If you are a stick in the mud, don’t like potty humor, or are a prude then you should walk away from this book immediately. Fortunately I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy so I found this book hysterically, laugh out loud, funny. I did, in fact, laugh out loud through a great majority of this book. If you are expecting a deep well of literary prose that will make you contemplate the meaning of life then this is not the book for you. There’s a lot of crass humor, unbelievable but humorous incidents, and penis talk. In other words- I loved it!

February 4 Star Reads:

1. The Untouchables by J.J. McAvoy– Everything Melody Callahan has ever been told about her past is a lie. Her father lied. Her husband lied. But like all secrets…they come out. Not only is her mother, Aviela, alive but she won’t stop until she tears down everything Liam and Melody have spent the past year building. With a new target on their back and the media now focused on their family as the Presidential election approaches, Liam and Melody must fight on two battlefronts. Melody is torn between being in love with Liam and wanting to kill him for lying to her. Being in love and showing love are two different things in her world. Liam wants to do anything to protect his family even if that means hurting the people he loves. Family is everything… but what happens when they’re out for your blood? Everything they have been through is nothing compared to what is coming…

This is book 2 in the Ruthless People series. Book 1 was better but this one was still good. Book 1 had a whole lot of action while book 2 was mostly story. I did enjoy seeing the progression of the marriage of the 2 main characters. I hated that the book ended on a cliffhanger and I’m anxiously waiting for book 3 to released in a few weeks!

2. Rock Him by Rachel Cross– Asher Lowe, rock god, notorious womanizer and rebellious son of ruthless billionaire Sterling Lowe, has spent two decades building Spade into the most successful rock band of the era and living down to his father’s expectations. His antics on and off stage are the stuff of fantasy and legend. Fiercely independent Maddy Anderson doesn’t back down from a challenge, even when it hurts. She’s spent ten years dealing with chronic illness and is succeeding on her own terms, just a semester away from finishing her degree and starting her lifelong dream of a career in education. When tragedy strikes, Asher’s life is torn apart. He hires Maddy to care for his dead sister’s child, and discovers he has a lot to learn about love and commitment. She makes him want to be the kind of man who can care for them both. But can this rock star make the leap from sexy front man to family man or will their bright future be sacrificed to the past? 

I really enjoyed the heroine in this story. She suffers from RA, which I have personal experience with, and I loved reading about how she overcame her struggles. The relationship she formed with the little girl in the story was heart warming. The hero in the story was kind of iffy for me- he’s what kept the story from being a 5 star read. I still recommend this book!

3. The Hooker and the Hermit by L.H. Cosway– Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much. Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite. When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together. What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is? 

Another sports book! This one was really funny. I enjoyed the main heroine so much- she was hilarious and a total socially awkward introvert. I can relate. I enjoyed reading about her coming out of her shell and embracing new adventures. 

4. Lights To My Siren by Lani Lynn Vale– Sebastian had one rule. No women on the back of his bike. Period. The one time he broke that rule, he killed the woman that was carrying his child. Then comes Baylee Roberts. She makes Sebastian want to break every single rule he’d ever implemented. Hell, but she even makes him consider that dreaded H word. A helmet. Baylee Roberts innocently walked into her bathroom never expecting that she’d find a man in there. It is her bathroom after all, and she lives alone. From the instant he placed his hat on her head to protect her from the sun, Baylee’s mind becomes filled with thoughts of a certain biker. She really shouldn’t go there. There’s no telling what kind of dangerous things he does for The Dixie Wardens MC. Nothing is ever as easy as it should be. Their relationship’s one of them. Baylee’s brother is a cop. Baylee’s father is a cop. Which inevitably means that Baylee’s going to have certain hang-ups about being with a man like himself. Sebastian has a lot on his plate with his busy job as a firefighter, a single father, and the vice president of The Dixie Wardens MC. Not enough, though, to keep him away from Baylee. When a series of arsons rattle their hometown and puts Sebastian’s life on the line, Baylee finally realizes the only fire Sebastian can’t put out is the one inside her heart.

I love MC books when they are done right. I hate the ones that are full of domestic abuse and demeaning women. I gave this series a chance on a whim and I really enjoyed the first in the series. The heroine was strong and knew her own mind- she wasn’t going to be a doormat for anyone! I will definitely read the other books in this series. 

Did anyone read anything really great this month that I should put on my TBR list? If so, let me know!

**Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card right HERE!

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What I Read: January 2015

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I’m going to switch up how I do my monthly book posts this year. I read so many good books last year and I only featured a fraction of them in my monthly book posts. I want to be able to share more of them with you guys. Last year I only shared my 5 star, absolute favorite, will read again books. This year I want to share some of the others too- the 4 stars that were really good and ones a lot of you will probably enjoy too but don’t necessarily make it into my all-time favorites list. I’ll separate the books into star ratings so you’ll know which ones are my favorites.

Just so you have a frame of reference, this is the scale I use when rating the books I share here on the blog and on Goodreads:

5 Stars = I loved it and it has an honored spot on my all-time favorite, will read again, list

4 Stars = I really really liked it but I won’t read it again

3 Stars = I liked it but there were issues with the story for me personally (ie- not connecting with characters, etc)

I won’t be sharing any 2 or 1 star books on the blog because what’s the point. Obviously I won’t be recommending them so why share? If you want to see all the books I’m reading in 2015 you can follow along on Goodreads with me. 

5 Stars Reads:

1. One Day at a Time by Laramie Briscoe– Reaper and Harmony are finally off the road and ready to just be Garrett and Hannah. Excitement turns into fear when they start to learn more about each other. Gone is the glitz and glamour of hotel rooms and living on the road. Now it’s real-life, and they have to learn how to deal with one another on a day-to-day basis. Will they be able to withstand the pressure, or will they fold under the weight of the public machine? They know the only thing they can do is take it one day at a time.

This is book 1.5 in the Rockin’ Country series and you do need to read book one first. Book One, Only the Beginning, was on my 5 Star list from last year so I highly recommend this series. It’s about a country star and a rock star who start a relationship and the books are so good. This one is a novella that leads into book 2, which you’ll see below. 

2. 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 Rockin’ Country series and you do need to read both book 1 and book 1.5 before this one. As I stated above, this is one of my favorite series ever. I love it and I’m anxiously waiting for the next book in the series….there better be another book. 

3. Silver Thaw by Catherine Anderson– After years of living in fear of her husband, Amanda Banning has left him and moved to Mystic Creek, Oregon, for a fresh start. But she’s having a tough time providing for herself and her six-year-old daughter. Writing her secret yearnings on slips of paper and sending them into the wind helps her cling to the hope that things will get better…and that she can find happiness again. Jeb Sterling has no idea that the handwritten messages he finds scattered across his land are the first hints that his life is about to change. Nor does he understand why he feels so compelled to help Amanda Banning and her daughter when a cold snap leaves them temporarily homeless. Maybe he’s inspired by Amanda’s courage or perhaps by her beautiful brown eyes. Either way, the man who once renounced love suddenly finds himself willing to do anything for the pair. Amanda seems to have given up on her dreams, but Jeb refuses to quit until he makes her every wish come true…

Catherine Anderson has been a favorite author of mine for at least 15 years and this book is one of her best, in my opinion. Drama, suspense, love….it has them all. 

4. Razorblade Kisses by R.L. Griffin– Her name is Emery Shaw…Emily Sanders…Emma Simpson…Ericka Smith. Her family was well off, she ran. They looked for her, she hid. They found her, she ran again. Tragedy strikes, she gets even.The fact is, she doesn’t know who she is, she tried to run, to hide and make a life for herself, but that backfired. No one knows her except her best friend Rachel, if that’s even an adequate word for what they are to each other. Rachel helps her build a life for herself below the radar, which is fine until the unthinkable happens knocking Em out of her unfeeling cocoon. When her house of cards comes tumbling down she runs again, until the one person who can change her mind finds her. 

I can’t say too much about this book because you really need to go into it blind so you can have the full experience. But I will tell you that I stayed up until 3am to finish it and that rarely happens. I could not put it down and I was more than satisfied when it was over. 

5. Once Loved by Cecy Robson– Every memory Lety Tres Santos has from her childhood comes with a scar—some emotional, some physical. Her father is an abusive drug addict, and her mother enables his destructive behavior. College offers Lety a fresh start . . . until her father finds a way to ruin that, too. Now, after losing her scholarship to kick off junior year, Lety must somehow stay in school, pay tuition, and turn a deaf ear to the whispers that follow her. And she intends to do it all without Brody Quaid’s help. Brody is a lacrosse star, a 4.0 student—and as a freshman, he fell hard for the beautiful and spirited Lety. But their relationship crashed and burned because he couldn’t break through the walls she’s put up around her heart. With Lety hurting more than ever, Brody strives to win her back and make her believe in real love and true partnership. That will mean opening up secrets locked away in his own past—and trusting someone more than he’s ever dared. Lety knows how painful it can be to depend on the wrong man. She also knows how much Brody wants to do this the right way. But it takes more than sizzling desire to move on and build a future together.

This is book 2 in the Shattered Past series. The main characters, Lety and Brody, story starts in book 1. You don’t have to read book 1 to enjoy this one but I recommend it so you understand the background of the characters. Book one, Once Perfect, was a 5 star read for me last year. This book was really good and I loved the relationship between the characters.

6. 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.

It’s no secret that I come from a military family and I really enjoy books based around the military…when they’re done right. And this one was done right. It was a great storyline and full of action plus romance. The characters were believable and easy to like. I can’t wait for book 2!

7. Playing it Kale by Keary Taylor– It was one of the scariest things I’d ever done: walking out on stage, opening my mouth, and singing for everyone at that wedding to hear. Because I’m awkward. I always mess things up, I forget my lyrics, and guaranteed, I’ll do something weird. I’m a nerd, a lab assistant. Not a pop star. But that night, I met someone who changed my life forever. Kale McCain. World-famous model, ladies’ man, not a flaw to him. And the most unexpected thing happened—sparks flew. Everything about Kale is smooth: his attitude, his voice, his body… He is my polar opposite. But somehow, him—me, we work. Then there was the video he made. Us together, me singing, him grinning like I was the sun, moon, and stars. And my simple life exploded. Suddenly, the world has a new celebrity couple to obsess about. We’ve barely started a relationship. Now there’s all this pressure. When our once seemingly perfect life gets shaken, will we come out stronger, or will what everyone has been saying about us—that this is too quick, too serious, and that we’re too young for this to be real—come to truth? I’m Whitney Ford, and from the second Kale McCain walked into my life, I knew it would never be the same.

I’m a sucker for a celebrity romance. This one was really good. It is book 4 in a series but I haven’t read the other books so this one can be read as a standalone. I’m definitely going to read the first 3 now though because this one was so good. 

4 Star Reads:

1. In Bloom by Katie Delahanty– My name is Olivia Bloom and I. Am. Free. I left for LA with everything I owned piled into my old Volkswagen and dreams of becoming a costume designer. Little did I know I’d wind up designing for a lingerie company—yeah, not sure how I landed this gig—and taken under the wing of two young Hollywood insiders. The fashion shows and parties were great, but life really got exciting when the seriously hottest lead singer of my favorite band started to fall for me. How does someone like me, an ordinary girl from Pittsburgh, wind up in the arms of the world’s sexiest rock star—surrounded by celebrities, fashion, and music—and not be eaten alive? Berkeley is everything I’ve ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, but the paparazzi, the tabloids, the rumors, it’s all getting a bit too crazy. My life has become every girl’s dream come true, if only I don’t blink and lose it all.

This is another celebrity romance and it was good. I enjoyed the characters and the story line and I will read book 2. 

2. 39 & Holding by M.R. Joseph– My name is Greer Walker. Mom of two. Friend. Daughter. Dance instructor. And, let’s not forget—a woman scorned. For the twenty years my husband and I were together, I gave him my soul, my life, my everything. What did I get in return? Heart break, crows feet, stretch marks, and a slew of insecurities. You see, my douchebag ex-husband of fourteen years dumped me for a twenty-five year-old, real-life Barbie Doll with a large repertoire of medical enhancements. He crushed my heart. His affair destroyed me. There were signs—lots of them—but I didn’t see what was right in front of me. Or maybe, I didn’t want to. Somewhere along the line, things changed. With my eyes wide open, I vowed to never go through that kind of heartache again. I don’t need someone to make me feel special or beautiful, or sexually charged. Hell, I can take care of that part on my own if you know what I mean. It’s been twenty years since I last dated. I have resigned myself to the fact that I’ll be alone. But…There’s always a but. And with age comes wisdom. Like I said, I had come to grips with the fact that I’d always be alone…until gorgeous, dominant, and sexy Nick Costa walked into my life—or rather drove right into it—and made me feel all sorts of things that this woman right here has no business feeling. He has me asking myself questions that I never thought I’d hear myself ask. Can I allow someone into my life again? Can I risk being hurt? Can Nick deal with all the insecurities the fallout of my marriage produced? I am thirty-nine, for crying out loud. Can I start all over again? Can I let go of the past and possibly move on with my future? Could Nick Costa be my future? 

This book was hysterical. I laughed a lot while reading this one. The only reason it didn’t make the 5 star list is because I won’t read it again. What made it so great was the anticipation of what was going to happen so it’s not really a re-read for me. But I still highly recommend it!

3. Winter by Frankie Rose– Avery Bresllin took a leap of faith when she changed her name. As Avery Patterson, she is no longer the daughter of a serial killer. No longer the girl who was bullied and abused through high school. A fresh name and a fresh start at Columbia University means Avery can leave all that behind. There’s only one thing marring her dream of a clean slate. Luke Reid has a lot going for him: sex appeal, badass tattoos and insane musical talent. Despite his guitar skills, his calling in life has always been to serve and protect. A NYPD cop by day, singer in rock band D.M.F by night, from the outside Luke seems like he’s got it made. But falling for a girl whose father was accused of deeply sinister acts—a man whom Luke shared a devastating history with, himself—only serves to complicated things. Pieces of a puzzle…. Four symbols, four methods of destruction. A trade. Borrowed wings. Dark secrets that threaten to destroy.

I really enjoyed the suspense in this book. The romance was really secondary to the suspense plot, which worked for me in this book. It didn’t make the 5 star rating just because it’s not one I will read again now that I know the ending but I will definitely read book 2. 

4. Love Lonely by William C. Cole– When an injury forced David into an early retirement from his professional hockey career, he accepted a position to oversee the operations of his father-in-law’s thoroughbred horseracing division. David’s wife Sandy is referred to as one of the most influential and beautiful women in the world. However, her official role as the family’s philanthropist requires an exhaustive amount of time away from home. Upon her return from a recent trip, Sandy took notice of her husband’s attraction to his assistant trainer Renée, instantly recognizing the magnetism between them. Renée is a petite young French girl who is suddenly given the opportunity to work closely with David soon after the head trainer is forced to resign. Now traveling companions, with each passing day, the sexual tension between the two intensifies. Sandy knows all too well that she is on the verge of losing her husband. Will she be able to alter her existing secretive lifestyle to save him? Or is it too late.

I enjoyed this book a lot but there were a few things that bugged me. I can’t go into detail or it would ruin the story. I didn’t like the way a few things were handled within the story and the reactions to certain aspects were not totally realistic. But I will read book 2. 

5. Call Sign Karma by Jamie Rae– Distraught over the loss of her brother in a fighter jet accident, Tinklee Pinkerton decides to follow in his footsteps and prove the tragedy wasn’t his fault. But when she’s chosen as the first woman to fly the Air Force’s F-35, her plan for a life that revolves around work is thrown off course by a handsome, mysterious stranger…Thanks to Locke’s seductive British accent, sweet nature, and one too many beers, Tink is soon inspired to throw caution to the wind and herself into his arms. She thinks maybe love can heal after all—until she discovers Locke is her superior officer. Tink has no problem risking her life in the air, but with everything on the line, is she brave enough to risk her heart on the ground?

This is another military based book. It was good and I enjoyed it but it’s not a re-read for me now that I know the ending.

6. Mayhem by Jamie Shaw– When college freshman Rowan Michaels meets gorgeous, up-and-coming rock star Adam Everest, she knows a player like him is the last thing she needs after her ex-boyfriend shattered her heart. But she can’t stop thinking about the kiss they shared on his tour bus. On the first day of school, Rowan is stunned when Adam saunters into her French class. He’s soon failing miserably, and, on a whim, she offers to tutor him. But Adam doesn’t recognize her as a makeup-free, glasses-clad college student—a far cry from the beautiful, mysterious “Peach” he met at his concert. During a wild weekend on tour with the band, Rowan can’t help falling for the sweet guy buried beneath Adam’s rocker persona. Yet she knows she could never compete with the girls constantly throwing themselves at his feet. She’d just end up hurt … again. Peach is all Adam thinks about, though, and when Rowan realizes this, she has a decision to make: stay just friends to protect her fragile heart … or reveal the truth about the night they met and admit she’s fallen completely, hopelessly in love with him.

This is another rockstar book and it was really good. It did require me to suspend reality for parts of it, which is why it wasn’t a 5 star read for me. But I will read the other books in the series. 

I hope that gave you a few new books to add to your TBR lists! I already know February is going to be a great reading month for me because of some of the great books that are coming out, including the newest J.D. Robb book!

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My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2014

I read a whole lot of books in 2014. My goal was to read 250 books in all of 2014 and I read 402 books! Some were amazing, some were good, and a few were downright awful. I’ve shared my favorites every month but wanted to share my top 10 Favorites of the whole year. If you haven’t had a chance to read these then I highly recommend them. These are not in any particular order and as always, these links are not affiliate. 

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1. Dark Wolf by Christine Feehan– Skyler Daratrazanoff always recognized the miracle that was Dimitri Tirunul, a man beyond any dream that had ever engaged her nights. But she was human. Vulnerable. He was Carpathian. Nearly immortal. She was nineteen. He was an ancient. Yet she held half his soul, the light to his darkness. Without her, he would not survive. Caught between the two warring species, Dimitri has spent centuries hunting the undead to keep his people free, and humans safe. He had survived honorably when others had chosen to give up their souls. But now, marked for extermination by the Lycans, Dimitri found himself alone, and fearing for his life. But salvation was coming… No Lycan would ever suspect someone like Skyler to dare mount a secret rescue operation. A teenage girl. A human of untested abilities. But she had something no one else had. She was predestined for Dimitri—as he was for her. And there was nothing stronger for Skyler than her desire to see her life-dream come true. Whatever the risk.

It’s no secret that the Carpathian series by Christine Feehan is one of my all time favorite series but that doesn’t mean I love every book. Some are much better than others and Dark Wolf was definitely one of my favorites in this series. If you haven’t started this series I highly recommend it- start with Dark Prince and read them in order to get full enjoyment out of the stories. 

2. The Night Is Mine by M.L. Buchman– First in a thrilling military romantic suspense series based on the real-life elite helicopter pilots who transport Navy SEALs and Delta Force teams in and out of combat and covert missions. (SOAR are the heroes of Black Hawk Down.) Buchman’s heroine flys the most dangerous military ops and tries to find the one man who can be a hero in her own life. Ace-pilot Captain Emily Beale goes undercover as bodyguard to the First Lady, with her rugged commander, Major Mark Henderson, who is determined to cover her back. Can she learn to keep her desire at bay before her covert mission implodes.

I just started reading this series earlier in the year and it’s fantastic. I’ve read all of them and they are all really good but the first one is still my favorite. I loved both main characters, there was a ton of action, and the heroine is a bad-ass. The romance doesn’t overshadow the action and the heroine suffers from no too-stupid-to-live moments which is always a refreshing change. All the books in this series are standalone reads with continuing characters but no cliffhangers. 

3. Fighting Temptation by K.C. Lynn– Julia Sinclair is your typical innocent good girl with a heart of gold. At sixteen she moved to Sunset Bay, South Carolina, to live with her Grams after losing her mother to cancer. This is where she met some of the best friends she will ever have and one in particular who will forever hold her heart. Jaxson Reid is your typical tattooed bad boy. His past and soul is as dark as the tattoos he bares. He flies through life and girls with no attachments and no emotions… until he met her. One fateful night brought Julia and Jaxson together. They formed a friendship and a bond so strong it was unbreakable. Jaxson fought the temptation of anything more with Julia because he knew he would never be good enough for her. When he found his control slipping he left the one girl, who meant everything to him, to join the Navy. But one passion-filled night has Jaxson letting go of fighting temptation which will forever alter their relationship. A few years later Jaxson comes home to make things right with the one girl who’s ever meant anything to him. Except someone isn’t happy that Jaxson has returned. Someone who thinks Julia is theirs and they will stop at nothing to make sure it stays that way… forever. Now Jaxson will not only fight to protect Julia but will also battle the new and existing demons that haunt his soul. 

I seem to have a thing for series as this is book 1 in the Men of Honor series. This book was fantastic- lots of action, hot military heroes, and another bad-ass heroine. That’s a winning combo for me. I highly recommend all the books in this series- they are all standalone reads with continuing characters but no cliffhangers.

4. Only the Beginning by Laramie Briscoe– Hannah “Harmony” Stewart has lived most of her adult life in the spotlight. It hasn’t always been easy. One heartbreak almost ruined her. Some days it’s hard to keep a smile on her face and stay positive, but there are a lot of people counting on her to keep it together. Just when it seems like she’s at the pinnacle of her career, her life takes a turn. She meets a man who challenges everything she knows about herself and makes her question if the life she’s living is for her or for the Nashville machine. Garrett “Reaper” Thompson is tired. Touring and keeping up appearances with his band “Black Friday” is beginning to wear him out. He’s ready for a change, ready for something different. When he meets Hannah at an awards show, he knows that she’s the one, he knows that he can’t live without her. The problem? Their own insecurities, their fans, her ex-boyfriend, and the media themselves. Can they look past it all and come through on the other side? For their story – this is only the beginning.

I fell totally in love with this book. I think I read it in about 3 hours, and was up way too late to finish it because I could not stop reading. I had to see how it ended. This is book one in the series. I have book 1.5 and 2 already on my Kindle but haven’t had time to read them yet. They are at the very top of my TBR list though. 

5. Sweet Addiction by Jessica Daniels– Wedding hookups never amount to anything. Those who partake in this wicked little activity know the rules. Get in. Get laid. Get out. There’s no expectation of a relationship. It is what it is. Dylan Sparks knows the rules. She’s familiar with the protocol. And she engages in the best sex of her life with a complete stranger at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding. Reese Carroll doesn’t care about the rules. He wants more than just one night with Dylan. And he’s too addicting to pass up. Sweet Addiction is the story of one girl’s struggle to keep things casual, and one boy’s desire to never let her go.

If you like your books hysterically funny with a side of romance then you will adore this one. I snorted soda out of my nose while I read this one- it was that funny. And it’s book one in a series. I have book 2 already but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. The books in this series are standalones with no cliffhangers.

6. Stupid Girl by Cindy Miles– After her senior year of high school leaves behind nothing but heartache, Olivia Beaumont is sure of this: She’s no stupid girl. She sets out for Winston College, promising herself that she will remain focused on her first and only love – astronomy. But all it takes is cocky sophomore Brax Jenkins and an accidental collision with a football, to throw her entire year off course. A quick-tempered Southie who escaped the inner city streets of Boston to pitch for Winston, Brax is known to play way more fields than just the baseball diamond. So, when his name is drawn to take part in his fraternity’s hazing dare, Brax eagerly accepts the mission to take Olivia’s virginity. But he doesn’t plan on falling hard for the sweet and sassy Texas girl who sees right through his bad-boy persona. As Olivia and Brax battle their feelings for each other, echoes of the past year begin to surface. A boy who once turned Olivia’s whole world upside down reappears, and “harmless” pranks wreak havoc. Pretty soon the aspiring astronomer is on the verge of revealing her most difficult, heartbreaking secret. All the while, Brax must wrestle with the irrevocable dare, and Olivia struggles against all logic as she does the one thing only a stupid girl would do: fall in love.

This book made me feel all the feels while I read it. There were more than a few “OMG- that did not just happen” moments that brought tears to my eyes. Book 2 in the series comes out next year and I cannot wait to read it. This is a standalone book with no cliffhanger. 

7. Scoring Wilder by R.S. Grey– With Olympic tryouts on the horizon, the last thing nineteen-year-old Kinsley Bryant needs to add to her plate is Liam Wilder. He’s a professional soccer player, America’s favorite bad-boy, and has all the qualities of a skilled panty-dropper. Not to mention Liam is strictly off limits . Forbidden. Her coaches have made that perfectly clear. (i.e. “Score with Coach Wilder anywhere other than the field and you’ll be cut from the team faster than you can count his tattoos.”) But that just makes him all the more enticing…Besides, Kinsley’s already counted the visible ones, and she is not one to leave a project unfinished. Kinsley tries to play the game her way as they navigate through forbidden territory, but Liam is determined to teach her a whole new definition for the term “team bonding.” 

I was a soccer player so I have to read any book that revolves around my sport. This one was fantastic! The heroine was funny, smart, and bad-ass. The male main character was hot with a capital H. It had a little of a forbidden love vibe but mostly it was just a great romance with a strong storyline. I hope there is a sequel!

8. Ruthless People by J.J. McAvoy– To the outside world, they look like American Royalty, giving to charities, feeding the homeless, rebuilding the city. But behind closed doors is a constant battle for dominance between two Bosses, cultures, and hearts. Ruthless People is a romantic crime fiction set in modern day Chicago, and follows the life and marriage of Melody Giovanni and Liam Callahan—rivals by blood and leaders through fear. Their marriage, arranged by their fathers in hopes to end years of bloodshed between the Irish and the Italians. Liam believes he’s getting a simple-minded wife, one he can control, one who bends to his every need . . . the complete opposite of Melody. She knows exactly what type of man he is, and would rather die than give up the power she has spent her life building. The Mafia of the past has evolved, and with rival bosses gunning for them, Melody and Liam will have to learn to work as one to take down those who stand in their way.

Oh man. This book. I was hooked from the first page and I don’t think I put the book down until I was finished. Then I read it again. Because holy cow- it was good. The heroine was more bad-ass than any other female character I’ve read in awhile. She shot the male main character. He totally had it coming. There was a lot of violence in this book- it was a mafia book so it was expected. I cannot wait till book 2 comes out early next year!

9. Inked Ever After by Elle Aycart– Tattooed bad boy James Bowen is about to marry the love of his life. Everything would be perfect if it wasn’t for the tiny detail that his bride-to-be is freaking out big time. And trying to hide it from him. Tate Cooper is losing it. She loves James with all her heart and wants to be married to him; it’s the getting married that’s killing her. Still grieving the loss of her father and brother,and totally overwhelmed by the wedding arrangements, she’s in full emotional meltdown. But James deserves a happy bride, not a high-maintenance, sorrow-filled, guilt-stricken one, and, by God, she’s going to give him that, even if she has to paste on a smile and fake it till she makes it. James doesn’t know whether to be amused or pissed. He understands she’s running scared, but there is no way in hell he’s going to allow this to continue; he’s going to push her to confront her fears until she happily embraces their ever after.

I love these characters. This is book 2 and you really should read book 1 first so you’ll truly understand the relationship between the main characters. I loved this book- and the male main character reminds me of Matt. Both books are really funny and totally HOT!

10. Hard As It Gets by Lauren Kaye– Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey’s tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome–pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He’s left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander’s daughter. Loyalty won’t let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn’t expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees. Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge.

Book 1 in the Hard Ink series was so dang good. Lots of action, lots of hot military men, and a really great bad-ass heroine who fit right in. I loved every thing about this book. I’ve read the other books in the series too and they are all great but this one is my favorite. All the books in this series are standalone with continuing characters but no cliffhangers. 

So those are my Top 10 books of the year. I haven’t decided what my reading goal for 2015 is going to be but I’m so excited about some of the great books that are expected to be released in the next few months. 

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250 Books In 365 Days: Books I Loved In November

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November was a good book month for me and I know December is going to be great too because there are a few books releasing that I’ve been waiting so impatiently to read! There were lots of Kindle book sales and price reductions in November so I stocked up and filled my Kindle with tons of new books- now I just have to make time to read them. I also bought myself a little Black Friday present- a new Kindle Paperwhite. My old Paperwhite was the one with only 2 GB storage and it was almost totally filled up. The new one has 4 GB of storage and it went on sale for $99! So I snapped it up and I’m going to trade my old one back into Amazon for a credit of $63 since it’s like new! Not a bad deal if I do say so myself! Now I have plenty of space to add new books. 

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1. Lush by Beth Yarnall– Billionaire businessman, Cal Sellers, knows how to get what he wants. And what he wants is Lucy Monroe. The problem? He had her once and lost her with one careless, arrogant act. And now she’s standing in his office demanding her old job back. Cal has no intention of rehiring her as the co-host of his home shopping TV show, Pleasure at Home. He has an altogether different position in mind for her—as his wife. If Lucy wasn’t so desperate she never would’ve stepped foot in Cal Sellers’s office, let alone the block his building stood on. Lucy’s a survivor who managed to break free of her ex’s terrible abuse, but now he’s back and more determined than ever. He wants their daughter, Poppy, and will stop at nothing to get his little girl back. Lucy will do anything to protect her daughter, including marrying Cal Sellers. Against her better judgment, she agrees to Cal’s proposal and finds herself married to a very different man than the one who broke her heart two years ago. As Lucy’s ex grows bolder and more violent, Cal and Lucy find themselves fighting not only for Poppy, but for a forever love that could be the one thing that will save them all.

This book was so good. I didn’t even read book one before diving into this one (book two) but it didn’t matter. I was sucked right into the story. I wonder where I can find myself a billionaire? Hmmmm…..

2. Protecting Alabama by Susan Stoker– Alabama didn’t have a good start to life. Emotionally and physically abused by her mama, Alabama spent her high school years in foster care. People let her down, time after time, and she’d learned to rely on only herself. Christopher “Abe” Powers earned his nickname because he tolerated nothing less than absolute honesty from the people around him. Finding the bar scene stale and having watched his friend and teammate, Wolf, find the woman of his dreams, Abe was determined to find someone to share his life with too. Alabama and Abe had no idea their paths would cross and their prayers would be answered, but like most things in life, nothing is ever as easy as it seems at first. Two words would change both their lives and they’d have to fight hard for their happy ever after. 

This is book two in a series and I did read book one, Protecting Caroline. It’s not totally necessary to enjoy this story but book one was good so I recommend it. I really liked this book. I loved the main character, Alabama, and I wanted to smack the male hero a few times. I highly recommend this series. 

3. Changing Lanes by Katie Graykowski– Professional Football Player, Devon Harding found his soul mate at the age of seventeen. Trouble is, he can’t remember her last name. For the last fourteen years, he’s been waiting for The Universe to send her back to him. When that day comes, he nearly falls all over himself to get to her. But he plays it cool and waits for her to come to him. And she walks right past him. Pediatric Oncologist, Laney Nixon has only been in love once—at the age of sixteen. For the last fourteen years, she’s looked for him, but not know his last name has made finding him impossible. But when she comes face-to-face with him, she doesn’t recognize him. Can Devon get her to remember the past so they can have a future?

This was a good read. It’s book 3 in a series and I have read the other books but you don’t have to read them to enjoy this book. I enjoyed the romance in this book even though I wanted to smack the main character a few times. She was pretty quirky. 

4. Broken Course by Aly Martinez– Seven years ago, my life changed forever. One accident and the person I saw in the mirror no longer resembled the woman I used to be. I was lost and confused inside my own body. I felt alone and disconnected from the world, carrying the incredible weight of guilt and loss that wasn’t even mine to harbor.Then fate led me to Leo James. He taught me that crazy could be perfectly normal and it shouldn’t hurt to breathe. Don’t get me wrong. Leo isn’t perfect. He has his own cross to bear, and the truth is, that might be why I fell for him in the first place. But despite everything he does for me, learning to forgive myself is infinitely harder than overlooking the flaws of another.Now, the secrets and lies of our past have begun to dictate our future—threatening to ruin us before we get the chance to try. Perhaps we were cursed from the start. Or maybe, just maybe, the remnants of our fractured lives will fit together to form one whole, where love isn’t questioned and being happy is…well, easy.Can a second broken soul be enough to fill the voids of my own? Or will such scarred pasts prove too much for our love alone to overcome?

I loved this book. It’s book 3 in a series and you should read Changing Course (book 1), Stolen Course (book 2), and Among the Echoes (book 2.5) first so you get the full emotion of this one. I hated the main character, Sarah, in book one and book two. Hated her. But in this book I really loved her character. I could see the events of the other books from her point of view and I felt for her. You have to read this series- it will knock your socks off!

5. Temper For You by Genna Rulon– Meg Adeio has led a life of isolation—not by choice, by necessity—until one act of heroism forces her out of seclusion. Despite a past shrouded in mystery, Meg is “adopted” by an eclectic group of friends that become the family she never had. Life was good for the first time in…everOr it was until Westly Black reappeared on her doorstep. She knew he was the last man any woman should give her time to—only good for one thing—yet a temptation no woman could deny. Wes might make her life messy, but Meg’s eyes were wide open and she had it under control. At least she thought she did. When past and present collide, loyalties are tested, forcing Meg to sacrifice her future to protect those she loves. Temper For You is a gripping story of regret, deception, and redemption – filled with raw emotion, sarcastic wit, intrigue, and love’s propensity to forgive.

This is book 3 in a series but it can be read as a standalone. However, you should totally read the other 2 books. They are fantastic and you’ll enjoy this one so much more with the back story. I loved this book! I love the friendship between the girls and the guys. This book has some action and some romance and one heck of a great storyline. 

6. The Duet by R.S. Grey– When 27-year-old pop sensation Brooklyn Heart steps in front of a microphone, her love songs enchant audiences worldwide. But when it comes to her own love life, the only spell she’s under is a dry one. So when her label slots her for a Grammy performance with the sexy and soulful Jason Monroe, she can’t help but entertain certain fantasies… those in which her G-string gets more play than her guitars’.Only one problem. Jason is a lyrical lone wolf that isn’t happy about sharing the stage—nor his ranch — with the sassy singer. But while it may seem like a song entitled ‘Jason Monroe Is an Arrogant Ho’ basically writes itself, their label and their millions of fans are expecting recording gold…

Oh I loved this book. I loved it something fierce. The characters were great and neither of the main ones got on my nerves at all, which rarely happens. I didn’t want this book to end! I hope there’s another one coming soon!

7. Assumptions by Melanie Codina– Leeann Bradley is a college graduate who has achieved many of her personal goals, all because she follows the rules she’s set for herself. It’s simple, you work hard, enjoy life, surround yourself with friends and family, avoid jumping to conclusions … and oh yeah, don’t date college athletes. These rules have worked well and taken her down the path she wants in life. So what’s a girl to do when temptation, in the form of a sexy college soccer player, is placed right in the middle of that path? Deciding when to break the rules has never been easier for Leeann. But when assumptions are made, and more than just the rules are broken … will she be able to find her way down that path again? And what happens when it’s no longer the path she’s meant to take? Until now, Jonathan Baxter had one primary focus in his life, soccer. All decisions made, have been based on how it could affect his ability to play soccer. His grades, his choice of college, any type of extracurricular activities, were all carefully assessed. All of it has made playing college soccer possible. But when an injury sidelines him for the foreseeable future, and jeopardizes his dreams, he has to work even harder than before. Rehabilitating his injury becomes his primary objective. Until he meets Leeann, a physical therapy assistant whose touch has the ability to make him lose focus. She has him thinking there could more in his life—in his future—than just soccer. So what’s Jonathan to do when Leeann assumes he’s just like every other jock out there? He has to prove her assumptions wrong. 

So we’ve established many times that I love soccer. I played it almost half my life and I adore any book that revolves around it. So this book caught my eye immediately and it did not disappoint. The hero was hot and just alpha enough to be the perfect book boyfriend! Highly recommend this one!

Did you read anything great recently?

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250 Books In 365 Days: Books I Loved In September & October

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 I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to read as much as I normally do. Plus I’ve been making an effort to go bed before midnight so that cuts out my prime reading time, 12-2am. I’m kind of in book withdrawals right now but I have high hopes that the next few months will be better now that we are all getting adjusted to our school schedule again. I did read several really great books in September and October though so happy reading! Due to my 31 Day series that ran every day in October this list includes both my favorite books from September and October.

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1. Dissonance by Drew Elyse– The first time Logan ever saw Charlotte, she was staring up into the rain. Logan is searching for direction when his new roommate makes that entrance. With a body of pure sin, giant bright eyes, and the voice of an angel, she has his attention immediately. But everything about Charlotte is also screaming “hands off.” Charlotte is hiding. She made a life of pretending, and she is happy to keep it that way. Physically and emotionally scarred by the secrets of her past, the last thing she needs is a gorgeous roommate asking all the wrong questions. Their mutual attraction and devotion to music may be too strong to keep him at arms length, though. Can they find a way to resolve the dissonance between them?

This book was so good. It was full of pain and angst and strength. I loved it and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series. It is a HEA ending with no cliffhanger.

2. Reed’s Reckoning by Ahren Sanders– Arianna ‘Ari’ Williams thought she experienced the depths of true love until the man of her dreams dismissed her with no explanation. Heartbroken and humiliated, she found herself changing the course of her life and picking up the pieces of her shattered heart. Now four years later, she has a successful career, amazing friends, and a young son with crystal blue eyes that reminds her every day of the love she imagined. Emotionally she has moved on but the wounds never healed. Reed Matthews has it all. Playing professional football was always his dream. Being one of the most successful wide receivers in the league comes with money, fame, and all the women he wants. Even with all his wishes coming true, he never stops thinking of the one woman that owned his soul four years ago. A chance encounter brings Reed to the realization that Ari Williams not only hid a life changing secret from him, but also things weren’t as they seemed all those years ago. He’s determined to get her back and build their lives together. When the truth behind their deception is revealed- friendships are tested, families are torn apart, and the one person behind it all is relentless. Can Reed protect those he loves and build the future he dreamed of?

Oh the feels in this book. I loved Ari- she was strong and determined and independent. I also loved Reed- he was also strong and determined to do the right thing. I love books with surprise babies so this storyline was right up my alley. There were some major bad people in this story that I wanted to throat punch. I highly recommend this book.

3. Be My December by Rachel Brookes– I knew the exact moment I’d become a ‘yes’ girl. December 16th, a cold winter’s night, four years ago. The night my innocence was stolen, the night I made the mistake of saying no—a mistake I’d never make again. The dream of a ‘happily ever after’ was now a locked away myth. I promised myself that I’d never return to the place of my worst nightmare, that I’d never let anyone get close, but then again, I never thought I’d meet someone like him. The intense, confident and beautiful Ky Crawford. I had no plans to become someone’s Prince Charming. I couldn’t be. I refused to be. My plan was simple—do whatever it takes to correct my biggest mistake, my one regret that now controlled my life. I was on track. I had plans, but then everything changed when I saw her—the girl in the red jacket, the girl who I was told couldn’t say no. The reserved yet stunning Eden Rivers.

I clearly was on an angsty kick last month because this book was also full of angst. I felt so much pain for the main character, Eden, and I totally could get where she was coming from. There were a few twists and turns in this book that while I saw them coming that didn’t make them any less gut wrenching or gasp inducing. Definite 5 star read. 

4. Boarded By Love by Toni Aleo– Jude Sinclair here, hockey player for the Bellevue Bullies and lover of all ladies. Hockey’s in my blood, and not to sound full of myself, but I’m good at it…really good. The draft is within my reach—it’s mine to take—but that’s not the only reason people know my name. They know me because of my way with women. They know the score, and I aim to please. I just tend to stay away from repeat performances. In other words, I don’t do relationships beyond my family and friends. I’m happy with life. However, I should warn you that my story and how I see it playing out is about to change due to a certain redhead on campus. She’s beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking. She’s my game changer. He’s trouble from the moment I see him. I don’t know what I’m thinking, but from the moment I meet his gaze, I’m his. It’s a scary feeling. I’ve never trusted anyone outside my aunt and uncle—and even that took months. I didn’t have it easy growing up. My mom was usually strung out, and she didn’t give me a second thought. Drugs and the men who paid her were more important to her. It was horrible, but I’m stronger today. Because of my past, security is what I need most. Money assures me that I can take care of myself today, tomorrow, and next month. I don’t want to ever be hungry or go without again, so I work hard for every penny. Oh, by the way, I’m Claire Anderson. I’m a hard-studying sophomore at the University of Bellevue, dancer for the school dance team, and a burlesque dancer at a club, but that’s my secret. You may think you know how our story ends, but you have no clue. It’s not easy falling in love… or living happily ever after. At first it may seem so, but when is anything worth having ever won without a fight?

I love sports books with some romance on the side. Toni Aleo’s hockey books are some of my favorites and this one is no exception. She balances the romance with the world of hockey and the story is divine. Plus, if you’ve read her previous Assassins series then so many of those characters show up in this book! I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

5. Love Always, Kate by D. Nichole King– Dear Diary, Leukemia’s been my life since I was eleven. Now, six years later, I want my life back. Only I’m not sure what that is. The test results came back today. 22,000. Which means I’m officially out of remission—again. I have three options: 1. Another round of chemo. 2. A super-new experimental drug. 3. Dump it all— forget the meds and treatments and enjoy the time I have left. I think I know what I want. Then, in walks Damian, changing everything. I mean, everything. He’s got his own set of issues. It binds us together, you know? We understand what it’s like to lose what matters most in seconds. Still, the last thing I need is to have someone else to crush if I can’t fight hard enough. And the last thing he needs is someone else to grieve. Never mind. I’m down to two options now. Somehow I know that whichever one I choose, the result will be the same. With the sand in my hourglass seeping to the bottom, I hope there’s enough left to show Damian that life’s worth living. Worth fighting for. Worth dying for. Love Always, Kate

Oh this book. It tore me up. I rarely shed actual tears while reading a book but I cried like a baby at this one. Sometimes you just need a book that will make you cry and this one will. It was just fantastic. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I’ll just say you should read this book.

6. Running On Empty by Christy Reece– Having survived a brutal childhood, Sabrina Fox believed she could handle anything. That was before she watched the love of her life die before her very eyes. Brokenhearted, her emotions on lockdown, she finds purpose and hope as an LCR elite operative rescuing victims from some of the most volatile places in the world. As a covert ops agent, Declan Steele was used to a life of danger and distrust, but when the one person he trusted and believed in above all others sets him up, he’ll stop at nothing to make her pay. Finally rescued from his hellish prison, Declan has one priority—hunt down Sabrina Fox and exact his revenge. Trusting no one is a lonely, perilous path. Sabrina swears she’s innocent and Declan must make a decision–trust his heart or his head. As memories of their life together returns, he realizes just how treacherous his torture had been and the target of his revenge shifts. But when Sabrina is taken, retribution is the last thing on his mind. With the assistance of Last Chance Rescue Elite, Declan races to rescue the only woman he has ever loved before it’s too late.

This was a fantastic start to a new series. The premise of a married couple separated by tragedy and supposed betrayal grabbed my attention immediately. And this story lived up to my expectations. The story was full of action, and pain, and angst, and redemption. I loved it! 

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1. Lost in the Beat by Gracen Miller– Jase Collins lives for the stage and the perks of rock stardom. His wild antics and high-profile affairs have earned the sexy drummer the title of Hot Wired’s bad boy. He’s not quite as jaded as his fans think — but just jaded enough not to recognize the best thing that’s ever happened to him until she walks out of his life. And he doesn’t even know her name. Fallon Morgan has had her life mapped out since high school. She’s earned a full ride scholarship to UCLA with the driving goal of earning her doctorate. Nothing can derail her dreams — except maybe a one-night stand with the infamous Jase Collins. His chilly reception the morning after convinces her to put her biggest mistake in the past and move on without looking back. When Fallon’s life takes a dramatic turn, she finds herself with no one else to turn to for help. Jase is obnoxious, demanding, and yet surprisingly tender. Though it chafes her to depend on him, the more time she spends with him changes her perceptions of the bad boy rocker. With each passing day she finds more and more faith in the man behind the public persona. If she can learn to trust her feelings, she might be willing to risk her heart.

I really like this series. If you haven’t read book one, then I highly recommend it. It’s a rock star series and each book is a standalone but they tie into one another so I would read in order. I can’t wait for the next release. I think I loved book 2 more than book 1!

2. Dare to Kiss by S.B. Alexander– Besides her family, Lacey Robinson’s only other love is baseball. She’s on top of the world when Arizona State University approaches her to discuss a scholarship. To be the first girl ever to grace a college boys’ team is beyond what she has ever dreamed. Her fastball is impeccable, her curveball equally as good, and her slider annihilates anyone who dares to step in the batter’s box. But fate has its own way of throwing curveballs. When she loses her mother and sister to a home invasion, baseball and her dreams die with them. Tragedy has a way of seeping deep into her psyche, causing nightmares, panic attacks and blackouts. Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, her psychiatrist recommends a change of scenery and picking up the things that she loved to do, and for Lacey that is baseball. After a move clear across the country, only two things matter to Lacey—overcome her PTSD and make Kensington High’s baseball team. But trying out for the team comes with obstacles—the captain, Aaron Seever, doesn’t want a girl on the team. Her life is further complicated when she meets Kade Maxwell, a tall, sexy and drool-worthy bad boy who has a magical touch that awakens her feminine side and a kiss that slowly erases her nightmares. But getting involved with him may be dangerous when Kade’s archenemy returns to town to settle a vendetta. To complicate matters, her PTSD has taken a turn for the worse. She has to find a way to heal otherwise she may not have a chance at anything in life, especially love.

I loved this book so much. I love most books about sports and I especially love it when the heroine plays sports. This book made me sad, angry, and enraged- all in the space of a few pages. Any book that makes me feel all those feels at one time is a good one!

3. Down and Out by Kelley R. Martin “Tattooed package of sin.” That’s how Savannah Ryan would describe her new boss, Declan Whitmore, the deliciously tatted and pierced fighter who holds the top spot in Boston’s newest underground fighting organization. She’d also describe him as bossy, arrogant, and—depending on what he does to piss her off that particular day—an asshole. It’s that aloof attitude, along with Savannah’s witty comebacks and tight little body that land her on his radar. Unfortunately for her, Declan is relentless when he sets his sights on someone, both in and out of the ring. Unfortunately for him, this recently reformed bad girl is trying to go straight after heading down a dangerous path. She’s not going to make this easy for him. In fact, she’s going to make it—and him—very, very hard. Declan’s not worried, though. He’ll have Savannah come hell or high water, because if there’s one word he’d use to describe her, it’s “MINE.”

I laughed out loud so many times in the book. The things that came out of Declan’s mouth were pure gold. I really liked both characters and the heroine was strong without being over the top and annoying. Declan…..well, he’s book boyfriend material!

4. Maximum Risk by Jennifer Lowery– It should have been a simple rescue mission…Retired Pararescueman, Quinn Wolff, wrote the book on how to stay alive during a mission when he founded Wolff Securities, an elite private sector security firm. When he fast-ropes down to save missing humanitarian aid worker, Avery Marks, in the remote mountains of Azbakastan he isn’t prepared for the brave, stubborn woman who challenges the rules he wrote in order to protect her. But when it comes to matters of the heart nothing is simple… Avery Marks learned a long time ago to take care of herself, but when her convoy is attacked, her friends and coworkers murdered, she has to rely on the aid of intensely capable and handsome, Quinn Wolff to get her safely out of the country. His skills keep her alive, but his kisses put her in danger. In danger of losing her heart. That’s a risk she can’t take ever again.

This book was so good. So so good. And it’s the start to a new series but don’t worry- it’s not a cliffhanger. I don’t read cliffhangers if I can help it. There was a lot of action in this book but there was a ton of emotion and dramatic family dynamics too. I highly recommend this one!

5. Once Perfect by Cecy Robson– Evelyn Preston’s future once looked perfect—until her wealthy father was caught in an embezzlement scandal and took his own life. Alone and struggling to pay her college tuition and bills, Evelyn finds a job as a waitress at the ultra-hip nightclub Excess, where she used to have more in common with the privileged private-school clientele than her fellow staff members. But something attracts her to the sexy six-foot-four bouncer and underground MMA fighter Mateo Tres Santos. Although they’ve led different lives, their troubled pasts bonds them in both survival and love. Mateo is ex-army who wound up in prison for assaulting the man who harmed his sister. Now he’s feeling the same protective impulse for this petite blond waitress. When Evelyn experiences a panic attack at the club, Mateo comes to her rescue. And when Mateo is wounded shielding her from a brawl, Evelyn returns the favor and comes to his aid. As their attraction intensifies, Mateo is determined to find out what nightmares are lurking in Evelyn’s past—even if that means tackling his own to save her. 

I liked the setting of the nightclub in this book. There was a lot of action and drama without being over the top. I felt sorry for the heroine, her life was turned upside down out of no fault of her own and she was doing the best she could. Mateo was HOT, and protective, and so alpha. I loved it! This is book one in a new series but it’s not a cliffhanger.

6. Riot by Jamie Begley– Ice: As president of the Predators’ MC, my men and I are used to preying on the weak and those stupid enough to cross our paths. So why does a straitlaced teacher make me sit up and take notice when I see her for the first time? The brothers all think she makes me weak, and believe me, weak in their eyes isn’t where I want to be. She wants me to prove she means more to me than the club, and when I fail, she thinks she can just walk away. She’s wrong. I’m a Predator, and nothing escapes me. Grace: As a teacher, I’m supposed to want to educate those who want to learn, right? That’s what I believed until I was told I’d have to teach a class at the prison. I didn’t move to a town labeled as one of the safest places in America only to be faced with a bunch of Predators. He expects me to trust him despite being the reason I’m trapped in the middle of a prison riot. His club means more to him than I ever will, and if I give him a chance, he will break the fragile peace I have managed to find. It’s not the first time I’ve had to escape a predator. 

I almost didn’t read this book. It didn’t look like my kind of book. I was so wrong and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. It was like Sons of Anarchy and I love me some SOA. It’s book one in a new series but it’s a standalone. 

I have a bunch of books on my TBR list for November so I have high hopes for some more great ones to share with you next month. Did you read anything good this month?

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