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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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250 Books In 365 Days: Books I Loved In August

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Well Summer is over and the kids are back in school. I had high hopes that this would mean a little more free time for me to read but the first week of school brought reality crashing back down on my head. There’s no free time. So I’ve been reading in little spurts here and there- waiting at the bus stop, waiting at football practice, staying up way too late to finish just one more chapter. I did read some great books in August though!

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1. Taste by Cambria Hebert– Spencer Waller’s main purpose in life is to protect and serve. After spending years in the military, he gets a coveted spot on the Secret Service detail protecting the president. Spence doesn’t have time for women or all the work having a relationship with one requires. But just because he isn’t looking for a lady doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate a beautiful one when he sees her. And he makes it a point to see one in particular every single day. Elle Bond has literally chopped and fried her way to the top of the food chain. Earning a coveted position in the White House as the president’s personal chef, she figures her professional life can only get better. Her personal life, on the other hand, could use a little bit of an overhaul, and because of that, she tries to ignore the charm-dripping cookie thief every time he comes into her kitchen. After all, she knows better than anyone that just one taste of something good is never enough. One night after work, Elle is assaulted, threatened, and given an ultimatum. She can’t go to the police, and she sure as hell can’t do what she was ordered. But she has to. Or else. Pale, shaken, and scared to death, Elle confides in Spence, and his protective instincts take over. Together, Elle and Spencer have to uncover a sinister plot and stop it before someone ends up dead.

This book is part of a series but they are all stand alone reads that don’t have to be read in order. I have read several of them and they are all fantastic. The perfect amount of romance, danger, and suspense. I highly recommend this series. 

 2. Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter– When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self. Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.

I went into this book blind based on the recommendation of a reader friend of mine. She said not to read the blurb, to just read the book. I never do this but I took her advice and I loved this book. It was strange, I had no idea what was coming, and I loved it. Throw away your preconceived notions and read this one! 

 3. A Will To Change by Beth Rinyu– Will McAdams is a New York City firefighter who has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, never quite measuring up to his parents standards. He lives his life without regrets, and answers to no one. The women love him and he uses that to his advantage, making it clear that he only has one use for them. Gabby Spencer is a nurse in the burn unit of a busy New York City hospital. Her guarded personality doesn’t allow many people into her life and her patients take the place of her lack of family. She masks the pain that she is harboring deep inside with quick wit and sarcasm. When Will becomes one of Gabby’s patients they form a special bond and soon become each other’s solace. But Will doesn’t see her like every other woman in his life. She means the world to him and he feels an underlying need to always protect her – most of all from himself. Even though he wants her more than he’s ever wanted any other woman, he’s not willing to take that next step and jeopardize everything they have. When jealousy and pain begin to overtake their once perfect friendship, will Will’s fear of falling in love and never measuring up, cause him to lose the one and only woman to ever own his heart?

I love this author. She makes me feel all the feels when I read her books. This is a companion novel to A Cry For Hope, which I also loved. If you’ve not read her work, you’re missing out!

 4. Hard Knox by Nicole Williams– Knox Jagger. The name inspires resent in every male at Sinclair University, want in every female, and contempt in Charlie Chase. Charlie can be summed up in three words: independent, independent, and independent. To Charlie, Knox epitomizes everything that’s wrong with college males: prolific one-night stands, drunken senseless fights, and a body that hints at prioritizing gym time over study time. As an up-and-coming writer for Sinclair University’s newspaper, Charlie’s tasked with getting to the bottom of who’s been dropping little white pills into girls’ drinks at parties. In an ocean of All-American boys sporting polo shirts and innocent smiles, Knox is the obvious suspect. As evidence piles up against the bad boy of Sinclair, Charlie becomes more and more certain it isn’t Knox. But when her drink is dosed at a party and she wakes up on Knox’s couch the next morning, Charlie’s left with more questions than answers when it comes to Knox Jagger. How can Charlie ever hope to uncover the truth behind a guy so closed off he’s become . . .Hard Knox.

I love me some Hard Knox. I wasn’t sure I would like this story- the heroine is a little off-putting and judgmental in the beginning. But she grew on me. This was a great story.

 5. Nikolai by Roxie Rivera– After a brush with death as a juvenile delinquent, Vivian swore she’d never stray across that line again—but there’s just one problem with her plan to stay on the right side of the law. She’s completely, irrevocably and unabashedly in love with Nikolai, the Russian mob boss who saved her life. From the moment Vivian appeared in his life on that tragic April night, Nikolai felt himself inextricably bonded to her. She’s the bright light in his dark world and the only thing that keeps him from sliding deeper into a life of crime and violence—a mobbed-up life he can’t escape no matter how hard he tries. After Vivian is ripped from his arms in a brazen blitz attack, Nikolai will stop at nothing to get her back—but rescuing her and keeping her safe in his arms isn’t enough. Suddenly, Nikolai’s only chance to keep her safe is to do the one thing he vowed never to do—he’ll drag her deeper into his shadowy world and bind her to him forever. Because their tangled pasts are about to collide and the shockwave threatens to bring Houston’s criminal underbelly to its knees.

You know how I love mob books and this one is fantastic. It’s part of a series that I recommend reading in order to get the full background. This one is probably my favorite of the series but it’s a close race. 

 6. A Whole New Crowd by Tijan– Taryn grew up in a different world. Her boyfriend was a criminal. His older brother was part of a gang. They weren’t great people, but they were her family. Then everything changes when she’s adopted by a family in the neighboring town. New family. New friends. A new world. She’s elated. This is her chance for a new beginning, but secrets start being revealed and Taryn learns her new life has ties to her old one, ties that she’s not happy about. Her new family might not have been the lucky break she thought she had. Now she’s not only fighting to live that new future, but she’s fighting to survive as well.

I love Tijan. It’s a fact. Her Fallen Crest High series is still one of my favorite series of all time. This book was a little darker but it was really a great story. I loved the heroine, she was bad ass! 

 7. Thin Love by Eden Butler– Love isn’t supposed to be an addiction. It isn’t supposed to leave you bleeding. Kona pushed, Keira pulled, and in their wake, they left behind destruction. She sacrificed everything for him. It wasn’t enough. But the wounds of the past can never be completely forgotten and still the flame remains, slumbers between the pleasure of yesterday and the thought of what might have been. Now, sixteen years later, Keira returns home to bury the mother who betrayed her, just as Kona tries to hold onto what remains of his NFL career with the New Orleans Steamers. Across the crowded bustle of a busy French Market, their paths collide, conjuring forgotten memories of a consuming touch, skin on skin, and the still smoldering fire that begs to be rekindled. When Kona realizes the trifecta of betrayal—his, Keira’s and those lies told to keep them apart—his life is irrevocably changed and he once again takes Keira down with him into the fire that threatens to ignite them both.

This book is so good. I loved that the author showed both the present and what happened in the past. There were 2 characters in this story that I wanted to kill. Like for real murder, y’all. I must say- this is not an easy love story. Kona and Keira were totally dysfunctional as a couple, bordering on toxic. It was intense and uncomfortable to read about at points but it was just so good. Highly recommend!

 I’m hoping to carve out some time in September to read because several of my favorite authors have books coming out during the month. Did you read anything good in August?

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250 Books In 365 Days: Books I Loved In July

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I’m still trying to figure out where July went. It’s almost time for the kids to go back to school but I feel like summer just started. What a bummer. I didn’t read as many books in July as I planned to because we were busy having fun. But I did manage to find some favorites during the month. If you missed it, on Monday I posted about how I fill my Kindle on a budget for those of you who love to read as much as I do. 

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1. Go With Me by Elyssa Patrick– I, Daphne Fox, have a few things to confess: 1. I hate Nick Brady. Loathe. Abhor. Can’t stand him 95% of the time. 2. That other 5%? I’m not talking about that at all. 3. People think I’m lucky for surviving the car crash. I disagree. 4. Nick is the only guy who makes my nightmares go away. 5. I won’t love him, though. Love is not worth the pain. I, Nick Brady, have a few confessions of my own: 1. I don’t hate Daphne Fox. At all. 2. I find her scar sexy. Just like the rest of her. 3. I may be her older brother’s best friend, but that’s not going to stop me. 4. I love her. 5. And I’m going to do everything I can to have her.

 I loved this book. It was the classic big brother’s best friend falling for the little sister story. It was emotional and deep and I could feel the connection between the characters. Highly recommend.

 2. Nero by Sarah Brianne– Nero is the king of Legacy Prep, living a life of power. Elle is the school’s punching bag, living a life of fear. The only good girls Nero knows jump in his bed when he tells them to. The closest Elle has come to a bad boy like him is in the cafeteria line. The mob boss gave him orders to find out what she knows. Her mouth is sealed.

 I had to kind of suspend reality and morals in order to fully appreciate this book but once I did that, I loved it. It’s a mafia mob style book and I admit, I’m a sucker for those. 

 3. Completely Wrecked by Shayne McClendon– Elizabeth Clayton has been in love with Dylan Lange since they were in elementary school. Uncomfortable in her own skin and in possession of a kind and gentle heart, she never expects him to see her in a romantic light. When she stumbles upon him, battered and unconscious, it starts a chain reaction that will span more than a decade of interactions between them filled with pain, devotion, love, and loss. Take a journey with Lizzy and Dylan that will make you laugh, make you ugly cry, and (hopefully) encourage you to take a look around and appreciate the love and positivity in your own life. 

This book has a trigger warning and it definitely needed one. Child abuse and child death are part of the theme so be warned. I was unsure about this book until about halfway through. I kept putting it down and coming back to it. But somewhere around halfway I was totally engrossed in the story and could not put it down. The story made me cry real tears and that hardly ever happens. It’s not an easy story to read though. 

 4. Breathe With Me by Kristen Proby– Mark Williams has loved Meredith since he was seventeen. A successful man with a strong family, he’s worked hard to move on from Meredith breaking his heart all those years ago. When his path crosses with the only woman he’s ever loved again years later, Mark knows there is nothing he won’t do to keep her in his life. But when the going gets tough, will Meredith stick around or will he lose her again? Meredith Summers is a dancer. One of the first things she learned in following her dreams is that timing is everything. She has spent the past ten years following her dream touring with mega-stars while trying to forget the high school sweetheart she left behind. Now she’s back in Seattle, running a successful dance studio with her best friend Jax and determined to move on from her gypsy past. Until the day she sees Mark Williams and time stands still. It’s as if no time has passed at all when Meredith finds herself in Mark’s arms again. The chemistry, the bonds and the love are as strong as ever and hearing Mark whisper breathe with me in her ear is a balm to her wounded soul. But will she grab onto this second chance at love, or is the timing all wrong for them again?

 This is book number 7 in the With Me In Seattle series. This series is one of my favorites and every book is amazing. This particular story is a second chance at love storyline and I love those. Highly recommend the whole series but it does need to be read in order. Also- if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited then all 7 of the books in this series are free to read. 

 5. 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. A face that makes girls weep – check. Abs that can shred Parmesan cheese (the expensive kind) – check. Enough confidence to shift the earth’s gravitational pull – double check. 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.”

 It’s not a secret how much I love soccer and that love extends to books about soccer players. But I’m very particular- the books must be accurate. Nothing worse than someone who knows nothing about the sport trying to write a book around it. This book is fabulous. It’s more romance focused than soccer focused and I loved the whole story. You’ll enjoy this one even if you’re not a soccer fan. 

 6. Pieces Of Olivia by Melissa West– Olivia Warren used to be a normal girl with a bright future. But on one fated night, everything changed. Hiding the scars of her past up her sleeves, Olivia transfers her enrollment from Columbia University to The College of Charleston, determined to pursue her own dreams for the first time in her life. She intends to allow herself a bit of alone time to heal… that is, until she meets Preston. Preston is best friends with her roommate, completely hot, and off-limits. But the chemistry between them is instantaneous—and as the pair begins to spend more time with one another, their feelings for each other build into something undeniable, something powerful enough to heal Olivia’s deepest scars. Olivia tries to put her own past behind her and trust Preston, but she discovers that his past might be more present than she ever bargained for.

 This book is the first in a series but it’s not a cliffhanger ending, I hate those. This is a very emotional book and I could feel the butterflies in my tummy as I read. I loved the main characters, neither of them inspired eye-rolling and scoffing. 

 7. 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 might be a favorite book of all time for me. It’s completely violent, totally without morals, and absolutely amazing. The author describes it as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets the Sopranos” and that is so accurate! Be warned though- this is a mafia book and it’s dark. But if you can get past the dark tone, it’s an amazing read. 

 Here’s hoping for more great books in August! Happy Reading!

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