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What I Read: June 2016

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I read a bunch of books off my TBR list and from the library this month. I’m really trying to limit how many books I buy these days. I mean, with thousands of books on my Kindle already I should be able to find something to read, right? Theoretically at least. I have the best of intentions. Really I do. 

1. Bring on the Dusk by M.L. Buchman– Five nations surround the Caspian Sea, five nations desperate for the vast resources there, and willing to go to war. It will take all of Claudia and Michael’s ingenuity to avert disaster. As they discover how right they are for each other, it will take even more to breach the walls they’ve so carefully built around their hearts…

This is one of my favorite series. I love all the books in the series. You get to see a lot of the same characters and catch up with them each time. This book was one of my favorites in the series. The action was great, the romance was a slow-burn, and the drama was minimal. Highly recommend. 

2. Once Pure by Cecy Robson– Sofia Tres Santos remembers a time before her life went sour, before her innocence was ripped away, before she began punishing herself with risky behaviors and unworthy men. Now, at twenty, she just hopes she’s ready to rebuild some of what she lost. One way or another, it always comes back to her childhood friend and longtime crush, Killian O’Brien. As strong as Killian is, Sofia has always been his one weakness. He knows Sofia has suffered and wants to ensure she’s never hurt again—not like before, and definitely not under his watch. When Sofia agrees to work at his mixed martial arts gym, Killian seizes the opportunity to help and protect the sweet girl he’s always cared for. And yet, as he trains Sofia to defend herself using his hard-hitting MMA techniques, he’s drawn to the vulnerable beauty in ways he never expected. As Sofia grows stronger, she also grows brave enough to open herself up to love. And along the way, she challenges everything Killian believes to be true, showing him that no matter how much he dominates in the ring, the real battle is fought in the heart.

This is another series that is a favorite of mine. It follows a family and each book stands alone. I love the way the characters are entwined in each book. There’s lots of drama, but in a good way. The stories are in depth and realistic. I definitely recommend starting this series from the beginning, there are 3 books in the series and this is the third one.

3. Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn– If you’re Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane’s in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes. After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel’s death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret. Shane’s been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too – for sleeping with his wife’s best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate’s ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer. Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate’s only choice is to fight for the future she deserves – with or without Shane.

Oh this book. This book broke my heart. I loved every single word and I was so sad when it was over. I’d say this book is probably on my top 10 favorite books ever list. It was THAT good! You have to read this one. 

4. 738 Days by Stacey Kade– At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting. Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will. Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he’s sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four. To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

This book grabbed me from the very beginning and would not let go of my attention. I stayed up so late to finish it because I had to know how it ended. The premise got me from the first time I read the blurb and I knew it would be amazing. It surpassed all my expectations. The main character, Amanda, was superbly written with realistic reactions and phobias. The portrayal of her family was very believable. This book was fantastic. 

5. Mother Can You Not by Kate Siegel– There is nothing more wonderful than a mother’s love. There is also nothing more annoying. Who else can proudly insist that you’re perfect while simultaneously making you question every career, fashion, and relationship decision you have ever made? No one understands the delicate mother-daughter dynamic better than Kate Siegel—her own mother drove her so crazy that she decided to broadcast their hilarious conversations on Instagram. Soon, hundreds of thousands of people were following their daily text exchanges, eager to see what outrageous thing Kate’s mom would do next. Now, in Mother, Can You NOT?, Kate pays tribute to the woman who invented the concept of drone parenting. From embarrassing moments (like crashing Kate’s gynecological exams) to outrageous stories (like the time she made Kate steal a cat from the pound) to hilarious celebrations (including but not limited to parties for Kate’s menstrual cycles), Mother, Can you NOT? lovingly lampoons the lengths to which our mothers will go to better our lives (even if it feels like they’re ruining them in the process).

If you’re not following the amazingly hilarious @crazyjewishmom on Instagram then you are missing out. Her posts about her mom’s text conversations are so funny. She wrote a book about growing up with her mom and it is so funny. I actually read it twice and it was awesome. If you like to laugh, have an overbearing mother, or are a fan of hers on Instagram then you must read this book!

6. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker– The majority of our joys, struggles, thrills, and heartbreaks relate to people, beginning first with ourselves and then the people we came from, married, birthed, live by, live for, go to church with, don’t like, don’t understand, fear, struggle with, compare ourselves to, and judge. People are the best and worst thing about the human life. Jen Hatmaker knows this all too well, and so she reveals how to practice kindness, grace, truthfulness, vision, and love to ourselves and those around us. By doing this, For the Love leads our generation to reimagine Jesus’ grace as a way of life, and it does it in a funny yet profound manner that Christian readers will love. Along the way, Hatmaker shows readers how to reclaim their prophetic voices and become Good News again to a hurting, polarized world.

I love Jen Hatmaker. I love her alot. If I lived closer to her I might stalk her. I already stalk her on Instagram and Facebook. She’s amazing and funny and real. And this book is one of my all time favorites. I’ve read it three times. Anytime I feel really down about the way my life is going I re-read this book. I highly recommend it!

I have quite a few books picked out already to read in July so I’m hoping for a few more 5 star reads! I need some great stuff to read while I’m lounging by the pool. 

 
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What I Read: May 2016

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I read 17 books in May! That’s a lot of books and most came off my TBR lists or from the library so I didn’t spend a lot of money on new books last month. I read a pretty wide variety of books last month and enjoyed a lot of them. 

1. The Absence of Olivia by Anie Michaels– My name is Evelyn. I met Devon and instantly fell for him. Weeks later he fell for my best friend. Never one to make waves, I watched as they started a life together. I stood by as their family grew, was the maid of honor at their wedding and the godmother to their children. All the while, I was longing for him, watching as he became the perfect husband and father. I was never jealous. I wasn’t even angry that my best friend had the only person I wanted. I had simply resigned myself to living without his love, but still being a part of his life. Then, one terrible day, my best friend died. She died and we all struggled to live life without her. Slowly, as the pain eased, our eyes opened and Devon finally saw me. This is a story about second chances and second choices. This is the story of how my life changed in the absence of Olivia.

This was a definite 5 star read for me. I loved every single word. I thought the book was going one way and then it went another way and I was all “WOAH NELLY” but it was amazing. I cannot recommend this one enough. 

2. Savages Urges by Suzanne Wright– She’s a lone wolf with a cause. As a volunteer at a shelter for lone shifters—the same one that rescued her—Makenna Wray has dedicated her life to finding homes for its residents. And when she discovers that a teen in her care is related to Ryan Conner, the broody, handsome-as-sin enforcer of the Phoenix Pack, she’s eager to help connect the two. She just wasn’t prepared to feel a connection of her own. Lone wolves are loners for a reason—and most of them bad. Or so Ryan assumes until he meets the mysterious Makenna. Quirky and sensual, she seems to enjoy riling him, especially when she refuses to discuss her past. Although there is no mating bond, he’s sure she’s the one. All he has to do is be patient and wait. But when another pack’s sinister Alpha comes sniffing around, threatening Makenna and her shelter, this enforcer is ready to let his wolf off the leash…

This is book 5 in the Phoenix Pack series and it was as amazing as the rest of them! I love this series. If you’re a fan of shifter romances then you will love this series. 

3. Gabe by Maryann Jordan– Former Special Forces brothers-in-arms now working together to provide an elite security service in the southern city of Richland. Gabe Malloy, dedicated to his brothers, spent his weekends with cheap booze and easy women. When some of his friends finally settled down, he wondered if he would ever find the woman of his dreams. He just never expected to encounter her in an alley. Jennifer Lambert worked as a social worker for the city and would often take food to the elderly residents in her building. One night, in an alley behind a restaurant, she was startled by a tall, handsome man wanting to assist. Giving him the cold shoulder, she left…but dreams of him followed her long into the night. Gabe knew the independent Jennifer was a woman worthy of knowing, but convincing the beauty that she needed him was the challenge. Raising her young brother plus the responsibilities of the elder center, had kept her from looking for love…but she took a chance on Gabe. Now that he found her, can he keep her safe when someone threatens her and those she loves? Calling upon his brothers, Alvarez Security races to save her before it is too late.  

This was a great start to a new series. I enjoyed the main characters and how real they were. There wasn’t any unnecessary over the top drama- everything that happened added to the storyline. I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!

4. Always Watching by Lynette Eason– The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common–they’re also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son. But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she’s next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.

Again, this was an amazing start to a new series. I loved the idea of the female bodyguard and she was a fabulous main character. I enjoyed the connection between the characters and I loved the fast paced story line. I’ll be reading the rest in the series for sure. 

5. I Want My Epidural Back by Karen Alpert– If you are the kind of mom who shapes your kiddo’s organic quinoa into reproductions of the Mona Lisa, do not read this book. If you stayed up past midnight to create posters for your PTO presidential campaign, do not read this book. If you look down your nose at parents who have Domino’s pizza on speed dial, do not read this book. But if you are the kind of parent who accidentally goes ballistic on your rugrats every morning because they won’t put their shoes on and then you feel super guilty about it all day so you take them to McDonald’s for a special treat but really it’s because you opened up your freezer and panicked because you forgot to buy more frozen pizzas, then absolutely read this book. I Want My Epidural Back is a celebration of mediocre parents and how awesome they are and how their kids love them just as much as children with perfect parents. Karen Alpert’s honest but hilarious observations, stories, quips and pictures will have you nodding your head and peeing in your pants. Or on the toilet if you’re smart and read it there.

Oh man, this book was hysterical. I laughed out loud so many times while reading this. It literally took me 7.75 hours to read this entire book because I could not put it down. Karen Alpert, better known as Baby Sideburns, is absolutely hilarious!

6. Hetch by River Savage– Saving lives is the end goal. It’s a responsibility I live with every day, the reason I wear the badge. Built on a brotherhood that runs deeper than blood, this way of life has become my very existence…Until Liberty. I thought I was saving her. I never expected her to be the one saving me.

The synopsis doesn’t really tell you much about this book. It’s the first in a series called Men of SWAT and it was really good. It was fast paced, high energy, and surprisingly emotional. I enjoyed watching the main characters work their way to each other and let me tell you, the way they “met” was absolutely hysterical!

7. The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole– Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning, summoning the nerve to take back her past. She’s determined to forget her old life and is looking for an artist who can tattoo over the scars on her back. Trent Andrews, local legend and owner of the Second Circle tattoo studio, has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And in spite of her mysterious past and the difficult road ahead, he quickly realizes that Harper is funny, smart, and–under her ridiculously oversized clothing and SPF 100 sunscreen–totally hot. He’s happy to take on the challenge of designing a meaningful and deadly full-back tattoo for her. But when cryptic messages start appearing on Harper’s phone, strange deliveries arrive at her door, and Second Circle is vandalized, Harper is convinced that her ex-boyfriend has tracked her down, and worse, that he knows about Trent. Running was the only thing that saved her last time, but now that she’s started to put down roots in Miami, she’ll have to decide if she can finally fight back instead.

What a book. This one gave me a book hangover. I stayed up way too late to finish it because I had to know how it ended immediately. I loved the main characters and the secondary characters were equally fantastic. I can’t wait to read more books in this series. 

8. Abruption by Riley Mackenzie- Everyone has a plan. Dr. Guy Hunter secures his dream fellowship with a beautiful free spirit by his side. Two unexpected blue lines don’t even shake his resolve—he is on his way to having it all. Until he isn’t. Jules Chiappetti loves her boisterous over-involved Italian family but is determined to pave her own way. An MBA and boardroom job is her ticket out. Until it isn’t. Four years later, Guy is consumed by the challenges of being a single father, still struggling with the aftermath that derailed his life and left his son with special needs. He doesn’t realize his world went dark the same day his wife’s did, until Jules, his son’s new nurse, shows him the light.

This book. Oh this book tugged at my heartstrings. As the mom of a special needs kid it was like a warm familiar blanket reading about what the main characters did for the little boy. I felt myself nodding along at certain parts. I enjoyed the build up of their relationship and their very realistic doubts and fears. I did not see the ending coming. It was a total and complete shock, which is the best kind of book in my opinion!

I have a whole bunch of books picked out to read in June. We have a beach trip coming up and I can’t wait to dive into a few books with my toes in the sand! 

 
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What I Read: April 2016

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I read a whole bunch of books in April and a majority of them came straight off my TBR lists! I’m slowly but surely making progress on thinning out those lists. I read 16 books so I’ve narrowed this list down to my favorites from the month. 

1- Find Her by Lisa Gardner– Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure. Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who’s never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she’s become, and a bedroom wall covered with photos of other girls who’ve never made it home. When Boston detective D. D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime—a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him—she learns that Flora has tangled with three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape. And now it is all up to D. D. Warren to find her.

I borrowed this new release from the library because it sounded so good that I couldn’t wait. This is book 8 in the DD Warren series but I think it can be read as a standalone. I’ve read a few of the other books in this series but not in order and I wasn’t confused or lost reading this one. This book was really good. It kept my attention and interest up until the very end. 

2- A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole– One kiss lasts a moment. But a thousand kisses can last a lifetime. One boy. One girl. A bond that is forged in an instant and cherished for a decade. A bond that neither time nor distance can break. A bond that will last forever. Or so they believe. When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation? Rune’s heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.

Oh my heart. This book. It made me cry the ugly cry. It was amazing and heartbreaking and I could not put it down. I read this entire 316 page book in one day. It was that good. The epilogue…oh the epilogue. You need to read this book. 

3- Protecting the Future by Susan Stoker– Wolf and his fellow SEAL team members have saved many lives, and been in even more harrowing situations, but their latest mission might prove the most difficult of all. Charged with rescuing American soldier, Sergeant Penelope Turner, from the clutches of ISIS, the men infiltrate the refugee camp where she’s believed to be held. The conditions are horrific, the search nearly impossible, but Penelope herself could prove the key to their success…if the SEALs can interpret her clues. An unforgiving desert, perilous mountain terrain, a rising body count and insurgents on the hunt…all of this and more stands between the SEALs completing their mission and returning home to their women, left to bravely deal with fears of their own stateside. Sometimes a mission is more than one team can handle. With a little help from newfound friends, the SEALS won’t stop until they’ve won the day. Failure is not an option.

This is the final book in the SEAL of Protection series and I loved it. I truly loved every book in this series and this one was great because it featured the whole team and all the wives. I’m so sad that this series ended but there is a spin off series that features some of the Delta Force members we met in this final book. So I have something to look forward to. Sniff. 

4- Rescuing Rayne by Susan Stoker– As a flight attendant, Rayne Jackson is used to cancellations, but she never dreamed her latest would lead to a whirlwind tour of London with a handsome stranger…or a life-altering night in his bed. One evening is all the enigmatic man can give her, and Rayne greedily takes it, despite suspecting it will never be enough. Heading home after another extreme mission, Keane “Ghost” Bryson hadn’t planned to seduce someone during his layover, but Rayne is too sweet to resist. Being a Delta Force member means lying to protect his identity, which is unfortunate, considering Rayne seems made for Ghost, right down to the tattoo on her back. For the first time in his life, regret fills him as he slips away the following morning. Both are shocked when, months later, they meet again—under the worst possible circumstances. Seems fate has given them a second chance…if they can survive the terrorist situation they’re in. If Rayne can forgive Ghost his lies. And if Ghost can trust Rayne to be strong enough to endure the secrets and uncertainty that come with loving a Delta Force soldier.

This is the spin off new series I mentioned above. This is book one and it is fantastic. The storyline kind of starts right where Protecting the Future takes place so it’s an easy transition to this new series. I loved seeing old characters and meeting the new team. The book was fast paced and intense. I highly recommend. 

5- Grayson’s Vow by Mia Sheridan– Kira Dallaire is desperate. Some challenges in life seem too hard to overcome. With little money, and even fewer options, the quick-witted and vibrant twenty-two-year-old needs to reinvent herself. Known for her generous heart and impulsive personality, she devises a survival plan, possibly her most outrageous idea yet. Grayson Hawthorn is losing hope. Some obstacles in life seem too hard to overcome. Betrayal definitely being one of them. With limited capital, and dwindling resources, he is attempting to resurrect his failing family vineyard, a self-imposed vow seemingly destined to fail. That is until a young woman enters his office with an outlandish, unexpected proposition impossible to refuse. What begins as a temporary business arrangement, soon evolves into more as vivacious, spirited Kira challenges detached, arrogant Grayson to want more from life. To want more for himself. But as their wills clash and fiery passion ignites, they’ll realize that sometimes the past creates walls too difficult to climb, and that lies and deception rarely precede a happily every after. As Kira and Grayson race toward their destiny, they will discover that some vows are meant to be broken, and others are worth risking everything for . . . even your very own heart.

I enjoyed this book. The premise of a marriage of convenience is not new but I enjoyed the spin that Mia Sheridan put on this story. I liked both main characters a lot and the secondary characters really added to the enjoyment of the story without taking it over. 

6- Sustained by Emma Chase– When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand. Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be. Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I’m going to Mommy & Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal’s office. Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids. And that — that, I know how to do.

I almost didn’t read this book because I’m not a big fan of reading romance books from the male point of view. I’m so glad I decided to give it a chance because it was easily my favorite book of April. The story is great, the characters are fantastic, and it kept my interest the entire time. This is book 2 in the series and I haven’t read book 1 yet but I’m definitely going to after reading this one. 

7- Southern Pleasure by Kaylee Ryan– They tell you that a parent’s love is all consuming. I never put much thought into it. Not until the minute I heard her take her first breath. That little girl is my world. I’d do anything to protect her. My ex signed over her rights and her family vowed that my daughter didn’t exist. Now that she’s gone, they want my little girl. They’re trying to say I can’t give her what she needs. I’ve known Evan all my life. Our families farms run parallel with each other. He and my brother Aaron have been best friends for as long as I can remember. What they’re trying to do is wrong. He needs my help, someone he can trust and I’m more than happy to do it. I volunteered without hesitation. I should have thought about what it would be like to have our lives intertwined. I should have thought about what would happen when our time together ended and how my heart would feel when I had to walk away.

This was another marriage of convenience type of book but with a spin. I liked the premise a lot and then when I started reading I couldn’t stop. I had to know what happened and how it all worked out in the end. I enjoyed the characters a lot and their connection felt real and natural. I definitely recommend this one. 

I read so many good books in April! And May looks good too with several that are popping out at me from my TBR list. A glass of wine, the hot tub, and a great book….what could be better?

 
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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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