arc · new adult · new release · review · romance

Ache by S.M. Soto

Ache
by S.M. Soto

Rating: ★★★
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What happens when you fall for the boy next door?

Bea Norwood had the market on normal. Drama free life? Check. A single-mother who doubled as her confidant and partner in crime? Check. A neighbor and best friend she trusted more than anyone? Check. But that was until the day her mother remarried. The day that changed everything.

When her best friend’s cousin, Liam Falcon, is sent to live with his aunt and uncle to clean up his act, Bea finds herself falling for the boy next door. With their hearts so infinitely entwined, Bea turns to Liam as her only escape from her new step-brother’s daily torment at home. Bea thought their love could conquer anything. But she was wrong. Love was for fools, and she was the biggest fool of them all. When Liam left Lakeport, he took her heart with him, shattering the organ to pieces.

Six years later, Liam takes a trip back to Lakeport to visit his family, and to see HER. His first love. The girl who holds his heart. The same girl who shattered it six years ago without looking back.

Liam is hell-bent on seeing Bea again after six years, but what he finds tears his heart in half. Bea Norwood is a shell of the girl he fell in love with. Underneath the baggy clothes, and pale skin, he knows she’s still in there somewhere, he just needs to find her. Liam will stop at nothing to win his girl back, but sometimes, ignorance is bliss, and Liam isn’t prepared for Bea’s truth.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Before heading into my review, I want to warn readers: approach this with utmost caution. Written in blunt and honest words, the depictions of harrowing real life circumstances will grip your heart without remorse and brutally tear your emotions into unrecognisable shreds, rendering you speechless and emotionally drained, as the heavy and heart-wrenching scenes aren’t eased in carefully or alluded to in vague detail.

Liam Falcon is the boy who captured my heart, and the man who saved my life.

I experienced a variation of emotions reading Ache, but the one that made a real stand is anger. Pure, intense vexation unrivalled by anything else. Bea’s mother is an irredeemable and irresponsible character wrapped up inside an impenetrable bubble of picture perfect husband and stepson, too blind to notice what occurred inside what is supposed to be a family home.

For six years. Fucking six no one noticed or interfered. And when Bea’s mother’s dream world shattered, life is hard and she abandons her daughter for the nearest hotel because her incompetent degenerate ass can’t cope. And Bea’s mother’s attitude made me realise something: Bea’s fear to admit her truth goes beyond being threatened. When your mother, someone meant to love and care for you, is too self absorbed and self centered to realise something is changing their child in irrevocable ways, then who will listen, or believe your truths?

Bea’s my sun, my moon, and all my stars – the entire universe combined.

Separated into past and present, both sections are interspersed with flashbacks that follow Bea and Liam’s romantic relationship as it undergoes an innocent beginning and traverses a heartbreaking separation, until it finally reaches the present day. I find flashbacks difficult to manage and introduce in romance as they disrupt the momentum and create a jarring effect. Bea and Liam’s connection could have easily been outlined in flashbacks without needing to separate it into two parts. I lost a connection to this couple’s relationship and discovered innumerous character and romance gaps by this timeframe division that make it difficult to consider this narrative second chance romance.

Our love was written in my scars, just as it was scattered across the stars.

S.M. Soto writes beautifully and brilliantly, but despite her writing ability, I wouldn’t recommend this. Readers might consider this difficult to read. I found the abuse pushed aside the second chance romance, dominating the scenes and actions of almost every character. Considering the abuse’s commanding presence, it disappointed me to never witness the heroine become a survivor—she remains a forever victim.

arc · new adult · review · romance

Wrath by Claire C. Riley

Wrath (The Elite Seven #3)
by Claire C. Riley

Rating: ★★★
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I’m a motherless son to a father who hates me. Fury has lived and breathed in my black heart for so long, it’s a part of my soul now. The only thing that’s ever mattered to me is protecting my twin sister, Sabella, from my father’s temper.

So when the chance to join a secret society presents itself, there’s no question I’ll do whatever it takes to become a member and earn my place in the ranks of only the most Elite.

With a taste for the deviant, I’m drawn to the darkest of desires, and no one ever leaves my bed unscathed. My task: seduce Patience Noelle, St. Augustine’s sweetheart and the mayor’s beloved daughter—then break her heart.

Sinning is what I live for, and deviance is my passion. Failing has never been an option.

But what happens when my sin becomes my curse—when destroying the only woman I’ve ever wanted is my key to protecting my sister? Accept your sin wisely, for the tasks given to earn your place are not for the weak…they’re for The Elite.

This isn’t just my chance, it’s my legacy and reckoning.
I am Samuel Gunner.
I am WRATH

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

The Elite Seven continues as dark, deranged and dangerous as before. I’m learning to expect the unexpected; don’t assume we’ll receive answers and romance isn’t a priority in this series. I wanted to love Wrath—a man hellbent on enacting revenge on an unloving father with a penchant for sexual deviance used to conquer and destroy an innocent woman called to me. However, the execution was lackluster.

I don’t love like most. I love darkly, cruelly, and brutally, or not at all.

Driven by hatred and fuelled by vengeance inspired by harrowing childhood experiences, Samuel Gunner won’t stop until the Elite Seven notices his presence. But when they finally notice, in an unexpected turn, Samuel is torn between protecting Sabella, his twin sister and luring the mayor’s sweet daughter, Patience.

Patience Noelle is an endearing, innocent woman caught within this devious game. I admired the attitude she showed Samuel, creating an enemies to lovers vibe with an irresistible and delicious chemistry between two opposites. Intense and heated, the encounters between Samuel and Patience are sexually deviant, passionate and filthy. And the way Patience manages to keep Samuel grounded—the rare occurrences of sweetness to soothe the raging bitterness—makes my heart flutter tenfold!

I’m not the good guy, and I’ve never claimed to be. I’ve surrounded myself with rage and darkness, embracing the hateful side of myself for so long, it’s become a living thing inside me.

I loved these two characters together, but the moments we witness between them is awfully limited, making it difficult to fully appreciate their chemistry. Reading the beginning and ending of this novella made me lose interest—Samuel’s backstory was far too descriptive, a massive information dump essentially that could’ve been disclosed through flashbacks or passing remarks. And the crude sex scenes featuring other woman to highlight Samuel’s deviant nature wasn’t really necessary.

Wrath sets a different tone for this series. It is lengthier, written with gripping scenes and tantalising encounters that made this difficult to step away from; however, it is missing more moments between Samuel and Patience, as well as deeper insight into the Elite Seven. In saying that, if you are into mind-numbing and jaw-dropping dark romances; a dominant hero; an endearing heroine, I recommend picking up this series because while it does lack in certain areas, it is good for what it is!

arc · new adult · review · romance

Pride by J.D. Hollyfield

Pride (The Elite Seven #2)
by J.D. Hollyfield

Rating: ★★★★
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The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

But who said the devil was a he?

In my world, she was out to cause havoc on all our lives.

She’ll use the one thing I care most about to control me—force me into her Elite world, filled with sin, deceit, and power. And under her spell, I’ll lead a sinister brotherhood of seven at one of the most prestigious universities in New Orleans.

Seven tasks set forth by the devil herself, promising nothing less than the forbidden fruit of power. What they don’t understand is it will all end in bloodshed and regret.

They call me the alpha. The one in charge. The one with pride bigger than any task I could be given. And my pride won’t let me be anywhere but at the top of the food chain until she gives me what I truly want.

My task is Meghan Thorne.

She’s too pure for me to touch, too good for me to ruin—and the only thing standing in my way to freedom.

Accept your sin wisely, for the tasks given to earn your place are not for the weak…they’re for The Elite.

As they say, pride comes before the fall.

I am Mason Blackwell.

I am Pride.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

I can’t get over how twisted and deranged this novella is. J.D. Hollyfield pulled this series along, giving us deeper glimpses into The Elite Seven’s corrupt and devious world while skilfully keeping this intertwined with Lust. Sinfully delicious and compellingly manipulative, Pride will captivate your attention in its darker, more erotic entirety. I can’t seem to turn away from this enormous clusterfuck!

With the thirst for revenge and hate flowing inside me, there was no room for anything else. I could barely see passed the retribution I set to viciously achieve. But then she came along.

Having bounced from home to home, Mason Blackwell is used to monsters lurking within the shadows. When the Elite Seven approaches Mason—using his younger sister as incentive and collateral—to complete dishonest tasks and assume his position as Pride, he is pulled further into this darkened secret society of influence, manipulation and unfathomable benefits. Despite his assigned sin, Mason is selfless, swallowing his pride and egotism to protect Evie and his newfound family of brothers.

But the deeper I plummet into the abyss of our forbidden attraction, the heavier my emotions become, and I know it’s no longer just physical between us.

I didn’t know what to expect from Megan Thorne—it wasn’t a seeming innocent teacher hiding intense sultriness and unexplored kinkiness. She’s naive, loyal with fault and wholly inexperienced when dealing with romantic relationships. However, she’s an admirable sexually liberated and intelligent woman with so much goodness within this crazy world.

It is kind of difficult to consider this a romance; I wasn’t expecting it to be so though after reading Lust. Mason’s relationship with Megan is more defined and despite their initial encounter being unrealistically over the top, everything that happens afterwards between them will ignite your Kindle. It is intense, explosive and downright filthy.

Seeing some teasers for Wrath is making me excited to find out more about Samuel Gunner—Wrath, the next Elite Seven, in this strange albeit fascinating world.

arc · new adult · romance

The Risk by Elle Kennedy

The Risk (Briar U #2)
by Elle Kennedy

Rating: ★★★★
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Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

It’s official—I need more Jake Connelly and Brenna Jensen.

Elle Kennedy doesn’t disappoint whenever she writes amazing stories about these near-perfect and wonderfully captivating hockey players. I’m not sure how she does it, or why we even deserve these fictional boyfriends, but we’re indeed blessed, fellow college and sports romance loving friends. The Risk is such a good combination of sexy and sweet, with an emotionally satisfying and joyously humourous setting. It uses the enemies to lovers trope without fault, while adding forbidden romance and pretend dating to make this epic.

She’s bold and fierce, and those qualities combined with her beauty make her a force to be reckoned with.

Relationships aren’t Brenna Jensen’s top priority. She’s content keeping hookups casual, shattering eager hearts and moving forward in life. But Jake Connelly is proving himself to be difficult to resist with an irresistible charm and delicious self-assuredness that draws her towards him. When Brenna finds herself caught within an impossible situation, she enlists Jake to be her pretend boyfriend, but for every fake date, he wants a real date.

I mean, my heart certainly knows what it wants. It wants Jake Connelly. But news flash—my heart is reckless and stupid.

Brenna is my newest favourite heroine in this series. She’s sassy, witty and confident, despite the survivor’s guilt she harbours and the awful things she experienced from her past. Beneath her fierceness there’s a guarded sense of vulnerability we receive glimpses of. And a wonderfully compassionate, somewhat unexpected loving heart that makes this woman real and easy to appreciate. I didn’t think it would be possible to love her more, but that happened. From her teenage struggles, strained relationship and questions of self-worth, watching Brenna overcome these hardships but still be one boss lady made me admire her tenacity.

Being Harvard’s hockey team captain, Jake is naturally cocky without being overbearing; a womaniser with a hidden sweet, romantic side. And despite having secured a position with Edmonton’s Oilers next season, Jake is determined to push his college team to victory. I adore a cocksure, assertive athlete without the douche attitude—it only makes this hero even more appealing and irresistible. Jake will have your undying attention and affection, stuttering and stammering and falling all over yourself because you’re smitten as hell. I, along with Brenna, couldn’t resist everything about him—his wit and charm, his charisma and confidence and passion for everything he dedicates himself to.

“I like having you like this,” I whisper. “On your back. Legs spread.”

Chemistry between these two has been brewing for such a long ass time and even when they’re bickering and disagreeing on something, the banter is absolute perfection. They have this perfect amount of push and pull, hard and soft, honesty and hesitancy with some of the hottest and sexiest scenes together that is brimming with so much passion it singes the pages. I almost spontaneously combusted reading that secretive bedroom romp!

I love that this author constantly raises the question and concern of misogyny inside the world of sports journalism. Sadly, Brenna experiences this dreadful behaviour firsthand while trying to enter the field. And even worse, real life women are subjected to unwarranted sexism everyday. We’ve all heard the “jokes”, the mumbled comments and unacceptable outbursts. Brenna and other women attempt to dismantle the toxic environment, something I’m grateful for and profoundly proud of.

I’m officially his groupie. But that’s okay, because he’s my groupie. We root for each other.

The Risk lived up to my expectations, but there’s little things that pulled my rating down. I was loving every moment until we started heading towards the epilogue. Jake annoyed me when he thought out of his arse instead of with what is an intelligent brain (sometimes), but I still forgave his choices (I’m weak for Connelly, don’t judge me). I felt the epilogue wrapped up quickly and focused more on personal achievements rather than relationship progression. Damn it, I want more Jake, okay?! Otherwise, this is such a perfect treat, as always, from Elle Kennedy. It reminded me so much of her other series, Off-Campus, as it emanated a similar vibe. I’m dying to have more Hunter and wouldn’t object to Brooks, so I can’t wait for The Play!

arc · new adult · new release · review · romance

Lust by Ker Dukey

Lust (The Elite Seven #1)
by Ker Dukey

Rating: ★★★
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I was born with wealth, athletic ability, and looks that could melt the panties off a nun.
I had a clear path to success.
Until fate dealt me a cruel blow, leaving me empty and in need of purpose.
My only focus now is to become part of The Elite—a secret society in one of the most prestigious colleges in the world.
But everything comes at a price, and with The Elite, you have to earn your place.
Lucky for me, being sinful is in my DNA.
The only obstacle to full initiation is my task: seduce the un-seducible, the forbidden, and lure her with the sins of the flesh. Easy for a man like me…in theory.
She started as my task, but what happens when the lines between lust and love blur, and the need for power rages war with the need for her?
Accept your sin wisely, for the tasks given to earn your place are not for the weak—they’re for The Elite.
This is my life, my chance, my legacy.
I am Rhett Masters.
I am Lust.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

What a ride! And interesting introduction to what will become a captivating series centered around a secret society promising an unrivaled amount of wealth, prestige and benefits. I wasn’t really sure what to expect—maybe a dark, erotic romance of intrigue, debauchery and manipulation. However, this isn’t dark, or even erotic as the romance is pushed aside to create the foundation for the series.

I would still take lust over love every fucking time. Fuck love.

Chastity Griffin appears to be shy and timid, but there’s inextricable boldness and feistiness hidden beneath her appearance. She’s smart and sweet, with a touch of innocence about her demeanor, but there’s this admirable sensuality about her, too. It balances the dark wildness and teetering instability within Rhett.

Rhett Masters is desperate to escape from reality. Crushing guilt after losing someone and his father’s insufferable attitude have pushed him towards drowning in women, drugs and liquor. Conceited, arrogant and feeling an unhealthy amount of invincibility, nothing is forbidden or dangerous. Rhett embodies lust, however, more so through reputation than action.

My entire high school years were built on my reputation of panty peeler, pussy realtor, heart stealer.

It is one reason for pulling my rating down. I assumed this short story would be filthier, more forbidden and teeming with an intense amount of eroticism, finished with a dash of passion and romance to sweeten the connection. And that is my second reason for lowering my rating—the romance is minimal. When Rhett and Chastity are together, the pages explode with sexual tension and witty banter. You can sense unexplored chemistry between them that would have made an excellent forbidden romance.

Lust is a violent desire, destructive and uncontrollable.

I can say one thing for certain—I’m excited to continue delving deeper into this world of secret societies and sinfully devilish assignments. Ker Dukey’s writing is fantastic, the emotions will roll you over straight away, the pacing of this short story is decent and the concept of this series captivating.

arc · contemporary · new adult · review · romance

Fixed by Emma Louise

Fixed (Flawed Love #2)
by Emma Louise

Rating: ★★★★
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He’s my best friends brother.
She’s not over her ex.

Elliott.

I should have seen it coming, my world being shattered by the man that was supposed to love me. But I didn’t and now I’m trying to find the pieces of me he left behind. 
Duke.

I can’t fix her, not when I’m just as broken as she is. I should leave her alone, she’s too good for me. But, fighting the attraction that pulls us together is getting harder everyday.

It doesn’t take long until we’re a tangle of limbs and pleasures. 

No promises are made, no guarantees. 

Just a vow to keep our hearts out of the bedroom. 

Simple, right? 

Except, now we both have to try and avoid getting cut on each others broken parts.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Fixed is my first story by Emma Louise—a second chance romance between a single mother and her best friend’s older brother. It screams ‘forbidden’. Taboo. However, it is filled with heartache for someone who forget what self-love is; for another who has returned to Savannah, a little bruised and shattered himself.

Something about her calls to me on a level that I don’t understand.

Divorced and feeling defeated, Elliott is re-learning to love herself; to re-acquaint herself with long lost confidence and independence. She’s alone, desperate, raising two young girls within a home that isn’t hers. But she’s determined to never beg another man for anything. Duke is finally returning to Savannah after leaving the military, ready to discover his purpose and start living. Despite being Elliott’s opposite in appearance—she’s wholesome, whereas he’s gruff and rough around the edges—they compliment each other well!

“I can give you this if you want it. Me. It’s not much, but I guarantee you I’ll make it good if you say yes. The only promise I can give you is that our hearts won’t get hurt.”

Elliott is an inspiring woman. I admire her tenacity; it is difficult to love yourself, to know your self-worth, when someone, who’s supposed to have unconditional love for you, repeatedly crumbles your self-esteem. Doing this, whilst raising two inquisitive children, is an incredible feat that every modern woman experiencing a similar hardship deserves an applause.

Duke and Elliott have an intense, heated chemistry that they initially refuse to embrace. However, once they allow their insecurities and hesitation to fall away, they’re passionate and explosive after years of quiet fervid longing. In seamless manner, Duke fits in Elliott’s life, becoming an admirable father figure to Brooke and Bailey, and loving both of them with ease.

contemporary · new adult · new release

Release: Jock Rule by Sara Ney

Jock Rule (Jock Hard #2)
by Sara Ney

Rating: ★★★
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Kip Carmichael is no pretty boy.

He’s a rough. Dirty. Giant. Hair so unruly, and a beard so thick, his friends on the team call him Sasquatch.

The first time Sasquatch lays eyes on Theodora “Teddy” Johnson across the keg at a party one night on Jock Row, she’d been relegated to the sidelines by her jock hungry “friends.”

Week-after-week, he watches beautiful but bashful Teddy getting overshadowed, and overlooked. Sasquatch finally broad shoulders his way through the crowd, offering to to be her hairy godmother. But the minute their eyes meet? He’s a goner.

Teaching her the RULES for winning a jock will be the easy part. Not falling in love with her is going to be a losing game.


Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog.

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