Law and Disorder by Heather Graham (The Finnegan Connection)

law-and-disorder

Law and Disorder by Heather Graham

Trust the enemy? 

Desperate to escape her kidnappers, Kody Cameron can turn to only one man…and he’s holding a gun. Outnumbered and trapped in the deadly Everglades, she has little recourse, but something in this captor’s eyes makes her believe she can trust him. Does she dare to take the risk?

Undercover agent Nick Connolly has met Kody before and knows she might very well blow his cover. Though determined to maintain his facade, he can’t let Kody die. He won’t. And his decision to change his own rules of law and order are about to make all hell break loose.

The Finnegan Connection

Let me first say this book is related to the Finnegan family, which Heather Graham readers first met in “Flawless”. I want to put that out there because this series is definitely different than what Heather Graham readers are used to. I’ve read over 20 books from this author and this book definitely kept me surprised.

One thing I really enjoyed about this story was that it felt really fast paced to me. The action starts from the first page. I, personally, enjoyed that because it was easy for me to stay engaged, instead of wondering what the mystery is. I guess I would say this story is more about the actual action, as opposed to the mystery in the story. As readers, we know right away who the bad guys are and what they are after.

With this author, I always enjoy the history that is seeped into the story. In this book, our crooks after a treasure in southern Florida and they believe Kody is the key to helping them find it. I’m a history buff and seeing the past come to life in the story is always enjoyable for me. While mentioning history, I also have to mention that Kody and Nick also have history. Not just in their meeting but also in their life. One facet that I have always loved about this author and her characters is that while they have had bad breaks or lost loves, it never turns into a bitterness party. Our characters are mature enough to communicate and I appreciate that because I don’t enjoy getting caught up in past drama that doesn’t really enhance the story much.

One feeling that I couldn’t escape with this book was feeling that the author might be trying to reach out to new readers with this series. Kody and Nick do have somewhat of a “whirlwind” romance and it did feel somewhat like insta-love to me. I don’t have a problem with that, but I do know long time readers of Heather Graham might not be used to it. For me, I enjoy anytime an author pushes themselves outside of the box while still writing a great book.

I would absolutely recommend this book. Like all Heather Graham books, I was so engrossed that I didn’t even realize I was at the 70% mark until I was there and then like a good bookworm, I had to finish it off. I appreciate the venture outside of the norm for the author and found this cast of characters really enjoyable.

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Exposed by LL Collins

exposed

Exposed by LL Collins

What do you do when all your secrets– and your heart– are exposed?

Natalie Anderson has spent her life being strong for everyone else, always putting herself last. But that has come with a price because the stress and secrets are affecting every part of her life. Looking and acting the part is one thing, but feeling it is another. She knows she’s at a crossroads and she needs to make a change, starting with loosening up and living a little.

Kai Pierson is done being a grunt. He’s finally worked his way up the ladder and he now finds himself a rep at the hottest label, representing the hottest band in all of rock music. He’s living the life…alone, but he’s okay with that. It’s the way it needs to be.

Though they’ve never met in person, they become friends and spend hours talking about life. When the chance to meet arrives, neither of them are ready for how they feel when they see each other for the first time.

But when Natalie’s secrets are exposed, will she be able to put it all behind her and find her own happiness, or will the lies destroy her once and for all?

Welcome to the final act in the Jaded Regret series. Consider this your backstage pass to the show!

This book was unlike I’ve read before. I don’t want to give this as a spoiler, but I do know many people appreciate a trigger warning, so I will say that Natalie very clearly has an eating disorder. I thought the way the author wove this fact into the story was beautiful.

No, I’m not saying the eating disorder is beautiful. What I mean is that as this story is happening, you don’t really realize anything is wrong with Natalie. We don’t see what she looks like. So when she is particular about not liking her photo taken, or sees herself with fat on her stomach…that didn’t strike me as unusual. For me, I also don’t like my photos taken and I know I see things in myself that others don’t. I am not sure if this was the author’s intention, but for all the social media things we see about women’s figures and how women are expected to see themselves, this was one of the first times that I felt bad about how badly I see myself. Seeing Natalie’s behavior and not thinking it was alarming was shocking to me.

When Natalie and Kai finally meet in person, he starts breaking down those walls. My favorite piece of Kai was that he was effortless. When he makes Natalie feel sexy, or good about herself, its not because he has to try and do it. He’s just speaking his heart to her. I also really admired that Kai did the right thing. When he was worried about her, he knew to act on it.

I know that, especially for book bloggers, its easy to say everything is your favorite, or every guy is your book boyfriend. Its hard because there are so many authors out there that write these amazing books for us. But Kai and Natalie are probably one of the most realistic couples I’ve ever read. I feel confident that there are couples like Natalie and Kai all over the world, facing the world together, and having to face their demons while still going through everyday life stresses.

I would absolutely recommend this book. It was an incredible story of love, strength, and having the ability to move on with your life.

Island Kisses: A Billionaire Love Story by Krista Lakes

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Island Kisses by Krista Lakes

After hundreds of catastrophic dates, she never expected to find love.

Harper Thomas loves bad dates. She goes on hundreds of them a year, and then blogs about them online to make her living. When her sister signs her up for a new dating service, Harper’s not expecting to find anything other than more ridiculous men. She certainly isn’t planning to meet him…

Gabe Honors is one of the billionaire owners of Kindling Dating. He also happens to be Miami’s most eligible bachelor, but his search for love has never been successful. That is, until he decided to use his own dating service. The first time he meets Harper, he knew that she was the one. However, in order to make sure that it really was love, he kept his identity a secret. He soon finds out, secrets never mix well with love…

Can a billionaire CEO finally stump this bad-date-blogger? Can Harper look past the money and find the man? Or will they only be left with memories of their island kisses?

Island Kisses is the ninth book in a series of standalone billionaire romances. If you like sweet stories on the beach, then you’ll love this story of a regular girl and a handsome stranger falling in love.

Just to be totally upfront, I am on Krista Lakes’ ARC team. And when I first signed up, my blog was newer. I mean, it still is really new, but she was one of my earlier posts and I had even less of a clue on what I was doing then as opposed to now. But it was one of the best things I have ever done.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, hot, sweaty, steaming romance. But I also truly do love the love story. And whenever I read Krista Lakes, it reminds me of the same happiness that I get from reading two of my other favorite authors, which are Susan Mallery and Samantha Chase. I enjoy seeing the main characters have that true love connection and the physical connection just adds more fuel.

Harper is absolutely hysterical. I actually found myself feeling for her with both her mom and her sister nagging on her about finding a man and settling down. Even though they drove me crazy, it really made me wonder how many other young women have family members doing something similar to them as I type. The fact that Harper was able to keep her cool with both of them meddling a fair amount was incredibly impressive. I would have cracked a long time ago.

We also meet Cora, who is Harper’s best friend, and she is just as funny and even more lovable. I have a few friends in my life who could easily be my own Cora, and that made the story even more authentic and easy to identify with. It was funny because before I finished this book, I was joking with a friend through facebook messenger about wanting her to hook up with a model and the more I was trying to be funny, the stupider stuff I said. And she laughed. Or she laughed via messenger, and I assume she is laughing when she says “LOL”. None of the below! Haha.

lolmeme

So the synopsis lets you know that both Gabe and Harper are not necessarily hiding things from each other, but they aren’t entirely forthcoming. The way Krista spun this was not what I expected. I know I say that frequently, but I honestly expected Harper to keep dating other guys just the blog and then Gabe to find out. That was instantly where my mind went.

In fact, I was so dead set on that happening that I kept getting nervous as the story went on because I was waiting for Gabe to find out. Mini spoiler alert: I was super wrong. Not even in the ballpark. No end zone. Fantasy league mega failure here.

Gabe is just fantastic. One thing that Gabe does consistently is that he respects Harper. Even in Harper’s internal monologue, she takes notice that he is respectful of her. He wasn’t trying to gain a one-night stand from her and he was interested in getting to know her. I found it fascinating with Harper’s past failed dates, the guys are so clearly not interested in her. It made me think back to men I had dated before I was married and when I looked back, I realized how not interested in me they were. (I mean, that’s obvious since I’m not married to them but you know hindsight is always 20/20).

I am truly happy that I discovered Krista Lakes. Her books are light and she balances the drama with the love story flawlessly. I don’t say “light” and mean they aren’t serious or silly. They just always leave me in a good mood. I’m ecstatic for the characters when things work out and heartbroken right along with them when things don’t go as planned. I would recommend any of Krista’s books for anyone who wants to relax with a great story and just enjoy themselves while reading.

As a side note: you may note this title is listed in the Kisses Series. These books can be read as a standalone, so if you haven’t read anything from Krista before, you could easily start here and be perfectly fine.

Tuscan Heat by Anise Storm

TuscanHeat

Having known each other since birth, Mario De Palma and Melania Barone fought worse than siblings. That all changed one evening when dueling tempers exploded into a night of passion and desire under the Tuscan Heat.

Three years later, Melania finally has all she’d ever dreamed of… a successful Italian restaurant… a group of close knit friends who were more like sisters… and a single lifestyle on the shores of South Beach. Occasionally she wanted more, but two out of three wasn’t bad.

After enjoying world-wide culinary success, Mario returned to South Beach intending to open a restaurant of his own. That isn’t the only reason he returned to Florida, though. He moved home to claim the one woman who hadn’t left his mind since their night together in Italy.

More than tempers explode when they reunite, especially once she believes that he’s out to sabotage her restaurant. Will Mario be able to convince Melania of the truth before a force of nature threatens to end that dream forever?

“Tuscan Heat” is a new book from Anise Storm, and it follows Melania and Mario from childhood to adulthood.

Melania is basically a high-functioning brat. She is just such a high-tempered, over the top personality. The thing is, she is only that when she is interacting with Mario and her family. With her friends and employees, it was like an entirely different person. It was somewhat off-putting to me because she is living in a luxury condo, with everyone driving a luxury car, and then she’s sort of treating her core family group like garbage.

Mario, on the other hand, actually comes off fairly endearing throughout this book. Basically, he’s been in love with Melania for years, and is now trying to actually act on it. However, I didn’t think he went about it in the best way. He went from being very endearing to sex obsessed and then semi-dominant at the end. This book went from focused on love to focused on sex and kept swinging.

I know people, and ultimately characters, can be multi-faceted but these characters gave me a bit of whiplash.

One thing I did really like about this book is that we do see Melania’s friends throughout the book and the great relationship she had with them. However, what confused me on that was why it was mentioned so much in the book. Partway through, I was not entirely sure if the book was focusing on the love story of Melania and Mario, or the friendship with her friends.

I think this book has great promise and I can say that I read the book fairly quickly as its 156 pages in length. This is just my personal opinion, but I feel like if the author chose a focus and stuck with it, this book would be even better. She has a great story going and it definitely kept my attention. It was just that several times I found myself sort of feeling like the characters behavior seemed off-kilter or the book went in a direction that not aligning with the story well.

I liked the overall premise of this story, but one thing that sort of left me feeling conflicted was that this seemed to be a lot of stories in one. We go from this friends to enemies to lovers story, great friendship story, sort of luxury Miami living and back and forth. Then at the end, there is a slight touch of BDSM. Because things kept moving, it made it hard for me to really cement in my feelings on the characters or the love story itself. This may not bother the average reader and I don’t really deduct “stars” based on my feelings for this.

I would definitely love to read more from this author and I would be excited to see what she comes up with in the future.