Stranded: A Winter Romance Duet by Samantha Chase and Noelle Adams

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Stranded by Samantha Chase and Noelle Adams

What happens when two people who are supposed to hate each other are stranded together in a winter storm? Cool down after a hot summer with two fun, festive winter romances available together for a limited time.

Moonlight in Winter Park by Samantha Chase – When Hope barges into the mountain retreat of her brother’s boss, demanding that he not be forced to work through the holidays, she doesn’t except to be trapped alone with him in a snow storm. And she doesn’t expect them to give into the attraction that was there all along. But will the magic still be there when the storm is over?

One Night in the Ice Storm by Noelle Adams – When she returns to her hometown for the holidays, Rachel doesn’t expect to be stranded in an ice storm with only David Harris for company. Eight years ago, David took her virginity and then broke her heart, and she doesn’t plan to forgive him. She thinks she doesn’t care about him anymore, until one hot night…when the ice finally melts.

Okay, so my guilty pleasure (and its not even guilty because I am not ashamed at all, y’all), is Christmas in July. So when I was given a Christmas duet book in August, it was like a perfect storm. Like, believe me when I say I could have had a panic attack from my excitement.

So let’s start with Book 1: Moonlight in Winter Park

This book was so sweet and yet started out so sadly. We meet Hope and her brother, Ted. They are both dealing with the grief of their parents loss but while her brother is just working non-stop, Hope is hanging onto traditions and trying hard to help them live on. I really felt for her. She was just trying so hard. Hope harbors some resentment towards her brother and his boss, the elusive GB James, who is always demanding more hours and then asks Ted to work over Christmas. Hope is beyond angry.

In the meantime, Hope does meet a nice man named Beckett, but its only the early stages of a few dates. As Christmas approaches, Hope makes plans with friends until she gets a call for Ted about his fiance’. Of course, she can’t get a hold of Ted since he’s off with his boss but she manages to find them out in the mountains at a winter park resort. Ted sort of pulls a fast one on Hope when he realizes that Hope knows his boss. The elusive GB James is also Beckett.

It was so fun watching them fall in love. I mean, it truly was. Its so easy to read romance and not love every single love story and every couple, but seeing Hope and Beckett both change around each other was really heartwarming. There are aspects in the story where we see Hope somewhat understanding why Beckett operates the way he does, but we also see Beckett coming around to Hope’s side of things, where he should ease up a bit.

I don’t want to add more because it’ll spoil it for you, but its just fantastic. Trust me on this.

Book 2: One Night in the Ice Storm

This was my first experience reading Noelle Adams and I was definitely not disappointed. The story starts with Rachel coming into town to visit her mother but there is an ice storm in town and its intensifying. Rachel’s mother and brother are stranded in town, and a longtime family friend, David Harris, stops by to check on her. However, he also becomes stranded.

Rachel and David’s dynamic is sort of hilarious because he’s insistent on helping her and she’s hell bent on having no help at all. When we realize the backstory that David took Rachel’s virginity years ago and then left her high and dry, then we realize her hatred for him. Hatred that is still really love. And David’s feelings for Rachel have clearly never changed, not once in eight years.

Again, I don’t want to give away the ending because that would be spoiling a great ending for you.

I am eagerly hoping that Samantha and Noelle hook up again to do a book duet or possibly write something together because I definitely think their styles meld well and I loved both of these stories.

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Reaper’s Fire by Joanna Wylde

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Reaper’s Fire by Joanna Wylde

New York Times bestselling author Joanna Wylde returns to the “wild and raw”* world of the Reapers MC with the story of Gage and Tinker…
 
The club comes first.
 
I’ve lived by those words my whole life—assumed I’d die by them, too, and I never had a problem with that. My Reaper brothers took my back and I took theirs and it was enough. Then I met her. Tinker Garrett. She’s beautiful, she’s loyal, and she works so damned hard it scares me sometimes . . . She deserves a good man—one better than me. I can’t take her yet because the club still needs me. There’s another woman, another job, another fight just ahead.
 
Now she’ll learn I’ve been lying to her all along. None of it’s real. Not my name, not my job, not even the clothes I wear. She thinks I’m nice. She pretends we’re just friends, that I’ve still got a soul . . . Mine’s been dead for years. Now I’m on fire for this woman, and a man can only burn for so long before he destroys everything around him.
 
I’m coming for you, Tinker.
 
Soon.

Forgive me readers of the world, for I have sinned. This is my first Joanna Wylde book. I know, a thousand apologies does not make up for my transgressions. But alas…here I am.

I wasn’t looking forward to reading this book. I’ve been so busy, just had back surgery, insert more whining and bullshit excuses. But commitments are commitments. So I started reading and then stayed up all night reading this damn book. So thanks, Joanna!

Initially, I did not like Gage aka Cooper (I will refer to him as Cooper because throughout the book, Tinker knows him as Cooper). He was just so brash. Which yes, he’s a biker on a mission so its not like I expected him to be a sensitive hibiscus flowering or anything but damn. Like woah, Cooper.

I loved Tinker. She was just the shit. And yes, I will need to edit this for Amazon, but for here, I can curse and I shall. Tinker is just badass all the way around. Between her soon to be ex-husband, her dad, her chocolates company, and grief that she was carrying inside, I literally have no idea how she did it. There were so many times that I expected her to break down and she just keep chugging along. I think I saw so much of real women in Tinker’s character. You can’t just languish in your sorrow, you have to keep going. Seeing Tinker’s grace through everything was inspiring.

I’ll tell you, Joanna Wylde knows how to make you hate a character. Like, is Talia still out there? Because my rage for her is still boiling. What a wicked little bitch! Oh my gosh. She was absolutely awful. Like there is a villain and then there is this Talia character. My lord. Uff.

Another piece of this story that I liked is that while we don’t ever get the solid ages on Tinker, Cooper, Carrie, Darren and company, we know they are a little bit older. I enjoyed that because characters that are a few years older have different viewpoints, but also different insecurities and things they aren’t insecure about. When I first saw the teasers for this book, I was a bit taken aback. I didn’t think I’d like the book. But then as I realized the characters are a little bit older (and I’m basically meaning they aren’t early to mid 20’s), the teasers made more sense and didn’t seem as harsh to me as they initially did.

One last piece of the puzzle that I loved was the epilogue to this story. I don’t want to give it away but I thought it was a really beautiful way to almost bring the entire story and all of its characters full circle.

I definitely plan to check out more of Joanna Wylde’s books (I have a friend who is obsessed with them and she always raves about them). So I would definitely recommend this one because its hot in more than one way (and once you read the book, you’ll know what I mean)

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

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A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER…
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

Catalia “Cat” Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods-and her homicidal mother-have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm-until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

So I heard the Washington Post did this amazing review of this book and it sparked my interest. Yes, my blog does a lot of romance but romance books can be done so many ways. I think that is one my favorite things about the genre as a whole. You can have fantasy, smut, mystery, light-hearted, shifters, etc. Just anything.

But this book. Wow. It blew me away. I want to just hug Amanda Bouchet forever for this book. I keep trying to find new words to express my adoration (no lie, I busted out the thesaurus), but nothing is adequate. This book is just…all the feels. All the everythings.

We first meet Cat at a circus, where is she hiding but she’s already caught the eye of Beta Sinta, who is a warlord. Cat is on the run from Andromeda, and throughout the book, we see different variations of the Gods, including Zeus and Poseidon.

The attraction between Cat and Beta Sinta (who is also known as Griffin; Beta Sinta is more of his title) is one of the more authentic connections I’ve seen. Which seems sort of ironic for a book set in a fantasy world. But they have this incredible connection to each other. Griffin does not hide his affections for Cat at all, while she fights it. Then she meets his family and its unlike anything that she has ever experienced. Cat grew up in an environment where she was treated poorly and hurt purposely. Initially, its really hard for her to conceptualize a family that gets along and doesn’t treat each other poorly.

Griffin wants to lead with Cat, but never sees herself as a leader. But when the time calls for it, Cat naturally leads. I felt like I aligned with Cat, and to be entirely honest, I think a lot of women would align with Cat. When something needs to get done, she steps in and makes it happen. She isn’t waiting around for someone else to decide or ponder on what the next step. She follows her instincts.

I don’t want to give away anymore because then I’d start getting into some spoilers and this book was one that I loved so dearly and I would hate to ruin it for anyone else.

This book was just everything. The saddest thing about it was that it ended and that the next book isn’t out until January. Absolutely fantastic. You must read this because its one of those books that you sit down with and the next thing you know, the day has passed and you’ve spent your day in an entirely different world.

When I’m Dead by Erin Lee

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When I’m Dead by Erin Lee

Violet Hoffman is a planner. She’s had more than enough time—especially on holidays—to think this through. There’s really no point in turning back. Now, armed with a plan, Violet only needs to pull the trigger. She runs through her list of essentials: Motel room, check. Bottle of pills, check. Razor blades, check. Purpose, check. Knife? Yup. Voice ready to be heard. Got it. Revenge, coming right up.

Violet is ready. After all, she decides, everyone is born for a reason. For most of her life, she’s been different. Since she was nine years old, she’s carried a secret that made it impossible for her to be normal. For a decade, she’s been torn between loyalties and healing. But now, finally an adult, Violet can let it all out. And it isn’t going to be pretty. But then again, being ‘pretty’ and ‘special’ really aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.

When I’m Dead is the story of an eighteen-year-old abuse victim alienated by her family. Ignored by a faulty system and shuffled from placement to placement, Violet is finally old enough to be heard. Sometimes, the best messages are given without words. And Violet’s always been a person of action. Where will Violet’s plan and actions take her? Will she finally get her message across? What will they think of her, when she’s dead? Will they even notice?

 When I first heard about this book, I had to spend some time thinking about whether or not I wanted to read it. The synopsis lets you know this isn’t going to be winning any awards for cheerfulness and there is no love story here. Only heartbreak. That said, I recently turned 32 and I had decided to make 32 the year of branching out. Nothing insane, but just saying yes where maybe my instinct would be to say no.

I feel like this book  eviscerated me. I honestly felt like my insides turned raw and muddy from reading Violet’s story. This story is told from Violet’s perspective, starting way back when she was little. It was heartbreaking to hear this little girl, who most adults would just dismiss, be so intelligent and know full well what is going on. I know we hear about these things happening in the news, in terms of child abuse and molestation, but you always hear the glossed over, legal version of events. Seeing Violet at such a young age knowing that she shouldn’t have someone spend the night because she needs to protect them was heartbreaking.

When things finally start to change, I couldn’t tell if I felt worse for Violet or better. A recurring theme that kept going through my mind was that how can a child comprehend this and make sense of it all. I mean, it just seemed so incredibly unfair to this poor girl, who truly did nothing wrong get punished over and over and over again by the system.

I don’t want to give away this story so I don’t want to say much more. But my honest feeling is that this book should absolutely be required reading for foster parents, guidance counselors, government leaders, attorneys, judges, anyone in family law; and the list could go on and on. Hearing this experience from the child’s point of view was mind-blowing and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since I finished the book.

In Deep by Callie Harper

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Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2aXomJX

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2awYXSk

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2aMFEJh

iBooks: http://apple.co/2arI1lf

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2afeKc9

Chase is an Olympic swimmer going for gold.

Focused, driven, intense.

Emma is a blogger going for the scoop, and she has the perfect in. She’s gotten herself hired as his physical therapist. With all that intimate time together, the secrets from his past don’t stand a chance.

And neither does she.

Can you hold my towel? I needed it to dry myself (and my kindle) off after reading Emma and Chase’s story. Who knew swimmers could be so sexy? For someone who is in the water so much, Chase managed to stay just dirty enough to light my kindle on fire.

This story starts with Emma and Chase meeting because Emma is going to be his physical therapist for the upcoming Olympics. First off, I loved how the author kept this story real time. Chase is preparing for the Olympics in Rio. I really enjoyed that because it actually made me more excited for actual Olympics.

I loved Chase. I’m sorry, ladies, but be prepared to replace your other book boyfriends. Chase is focused, intense, and driven, just like the synopsis says. But he can also channel all of that into a woman and he does…into Emma. Chase is into Emma, and once he finally tells her, he is all in. I admired that about his character. He could have easily been someone wanting to play the field, but he only had eyes for Emma.

Emma has to be one character that I felt I could really relate to. I mean, of all of the many books that I have read, Emma’s character and how she feels and is torn on certain things was really something I could understand. From the synopsis, we know Emma is also a blogger. However, its not really her blog, its her friend, Tori’s. And Emma doesn’t enjoy the gossipy side of the blog like Tori does; Emma prefers more heartwarming and truthful stories.

The chemistry between Chase and Emma was off the charts. It felt so natural. I thought the author did such a good job with Chase’s character, in particular. He pushes Emma sexually, but its very gentle and its not ever into something crazy. Chase was just the right amount of dirty talker, where it actually made sense.

I really admire how the author brought the story to a climax in regards to the blog issue. No spoilers here (I’m sorry, but its obvious that will be the main conflict for our lovers). I felt Chase and Emma both acted exactly like you’d expect them to. The author didn’t try to make things more dramatic than they were, or make Chase and Emma react more crazy or anything.

I also appreciated that she touched on the fact that Emma and Tori’s friendship maybe isn’t the healthiest and that they are starting to grow apart in terms of wanting different things from life. I feel like that’s how real life truly goes. We have some friends that while we still think their nice, we just grow apart and as we get older, our values may change and that sort of changes the tone of the friendship.

I loved the way this story ended and I can’t wait to see what happens for Liam and everyone else in this group of friends in the future.

Monday by E.L. Todd

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Monday by E.L. Todd

I don’t believe in destiny.

In fate.

Or in soul mates.

But I believe in Hawke.

My life has never been whole since my parents left forever. I have my brother, someone I can barely tolerate most of the time, and I have my best friend, Marie.

And I have myself.

But when Hawke walks into my life, there’s an immediate connection. Our eyes lock and an unspoken conversation is exchanged. For the first time in my life, I actually feel something.

But he doesn’t.

He keeps me at arm’s length and pretends there’s nothing between us when there clearly is. I’m not the kind of girl to wait around for any guy, so I don’t.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t in the back of my mind.

Our paths cross again in a way neither one of us expect and it changes everything. Was it destiny that made it happen? Was it fate?

Or was it something else?

You guys know by now that I really don’t hold back in my reviews. I always try to keep any criticism constructive and I never want to tear someone apart. So I agreed to read this book and I was just not feeling it. I don’t mean the book itself. I was just feeling lazy and tired and all kinds of blah. But I made a commitment and I will honor that. And I am so happy I did.

Just to be up front, Hawke is friends with Axel, who is Frankie’s brother. So I never like those stories. Like, they just never make sense to me. I hate the whole “hide the relationship from the older brother” thing.  This book is also the first in a series and I don’t always loves series. Basically my point in here is there is so much about this book that I should have really hated. And yet…I loved it.

E.L.Todd managed to make me love a book that had several themes in it that I normally avoid. That is NOT an easy feat. But she did it. One aspect I truly admired how was how she handled the entire situation of Axel and Hawke being friends and Axel not wanting Hawke to date Frankie. Mild spoiler here: Hawke just has a man to man conversation with Axel about it. I cannot put into words how much I loved that. In other books with that “forbidden relationship” theme, I always wish the characters would just grow up and address the real issue and they never do and it becomes a mess. So the fact that Hawke stepped up to the plate for Frankie was just extremely admirable to me.

Another facet that I was swept up in was that both Frankie and Hawke have issues. They talk about them but yet, they don’t. Some readers might find that frustrating but I felt it made sense for Frankie and Hawke. They truly have that soul mate connection and its one of those things where words aren’t always needed to convey what the soul is feeling.

This story does cover aspects of abuse and death. Its not the main theme of the story but I had a deep respect for how the author showed how family deaths and domestic abuse in the family has long lasting effects on someone. I think some stories cover those events as they happen but its more rare to see the long lasting effects on the characters. So I appreciated that we see Frankie and Hawke both working through their issues.

This book is the first in a series, but I would not say this book ends in a cliffhanger at all. This is definitely not the end of Frankie and Hawke’s story, and I am ready to dive into the next chapter of their story.

Waiting for Midnight by Samantha Chase

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Waiting for Midnight by Samantha Chase

Maddie’s hoping for a little holiday magic with her sexy neighbor Noah…

For the last year, Maddie’s been trying to get Noah’s attention, but to no avail. Until a busted light bulb, a broken ladder and a concussion lend a hand. Now with the holidays right around the corner, she’s hopeful that she’ll finally get her wish to kiss her sexy neighbor as way to kick off the new year.

Did you guys know I really dislike summer? I do. Normally, I run warm so during the summer, I feel like I’m just a moment away from melting into the pavement. But then there is this beautiful thing called Christmas In July. And QVC does it, and Hobby Lobby already has their fall and Christmas stuff out, so I’m feeling better. And then along comes Samantha Chase, with a Christmas novella. YES!

Our story starts out with Maddie and her best friend, Keira, at Halloween. Keira is already making plans for Christmas and New Years during Halloween. Do we not all have that friend? I do and while I admire their excitement and planning skills, they also exhaust me. How the hell do they do it? I can barely keep track of the week I’m in.

Keira is trying to, unsuccessfully, convince Maddie to try online dating or anything else so that they will have someone to kiss at midnight. Maddie is definitely not feeling it. She’s had her eye on her neighbor, Noah aka Sergeant Sexy. Keira knows this, but Maddie hasn’t actually done anything about this crush.

Noah and Maddie do finally come together through the darkness of a burned out light bulb and a wonky step ladder. Its very sweet when things finally start to come together for Maddie and Noah. I say this because Noah is used to being alone and then he slowly lets Maddie in. Seeing him realize how much better life can be is really heartwarming.

But bad habits are hard to kick, and Noah reverts back to his old ways when he has a moment of panic with Maddie.

I really don’t want to say much more because it’ll give away the ending, which is just…ahhh…fantastic. Trust me when I say Samantha Chase won’t disappoint you.