arc · review · romance

Black Sheep by Meghan March

Black Sheep (Dirty Mafia Duet #1)
by Meghan March

Rating: ★★★★
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Every family has a black sheep.
In the infamous Casso crime family, that black sheep is me—Cannon Freeman.
Except I’m not a free man. I’ve never been free. Not since the day I was born.
I owe my loyalty to my father, Dominic Casso, even if he won’t publicly acknowledge me as his blood.
I’ve never had a reason to go against his wishes… until I met her.
Drew Carson turned my world upside when she walked into my club looking for a job.
Now, my honor and my life are on the line.
Going against my father’s wishes might buy me a bullet straight from his gun, but black sheep or not, it’s time to make my stand.
She’s worth the fallout.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Queen of suspense-filled and angst-ridden cliffhanger endings, Meghan March didn’t disappoint with Black Sheep! She’s delivered an addictive and enthralling narrative—a forbidden romance between two complete opposites caught within a twisted situation that can’t be seamlessly unravelled. Full of grit and danger, the allure of this duet will render you riveted and invested in the sordid details of justice and retribution.

“You don’t know what you want from me because you’ve never had a man determined to set you on fire, just so I can fan the flames. I’m going to show you.”

By intertwining herself with a formidable man dripping in sheer confidence and utter dominance, Drew Carson is flirting with inevitable danger. Despite said danger emanating from a deeper, darker world, her unwavering determination is admirable though somewhat foolish as she endeavours to find closure. She’s a fascinating enigma—a combination of numerous identities and buried secrets that form into this interesting, multifaceted character.

“There are a million things that should stop me, but not a goddamned one will. I staked my claim. I meant it. You are mine.”

Cannon Freeman exudes uncontested dominance. Consuming and intense, there’s no refuting the irresistible allure that surrounds this enigmatic anti-hero, or the commanding aura shrouding his notable presence. Despite having criminal associates, there’s a certain amount of surprising goodness lurking inside this hero as he carefully treads the delicate line between corrupt and honest that eases the tension in this duet.

“Careful. You’re going to give me the impression you’re running from me… which will only make me want to chase you.”

Drawn together by an immediate connection and irrefutable chemistry—despite the forbidden nature of it—Drew and Cannon have an earnest and fervent relationship, a fiery storm of wanton passion, that is on edge waiting to be unleashed. When it does, it goes up in flames full of desire and hidden affection, you can feel the heat singe the pages!

Black Sheep is fast-paced, but the suspense remains intense and enthralling. Shrouded in secrets and revenge, the excitement of witnessing certain events unfurl will leave your mind reeling and emotions soaring because, as it is with Meghan March, the ending is always a nail-biting, teeth-clenching cliffhanger.

arc · new adult · review · romance

The Rebel of Raleigh High by Callie Hart

The Rebel of Raleigh High (Raleigh Rebels #1)
by Callie Hart

Rating: ★★★★
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Silver

Hit me.
Kick me.
Hurt me.
Hate me.


There’s nothing that the students of Raleigh High can do to Silver Parisi anymore. Over the past year, she’s had to endure more pain and suffering than most people are asked to bear in their lifetimes. She’s a pariah, an outcast, a ghost. She’s also never been one to take shit lying down, though…despite what half the football team might say.

With only one hundred and sixty-eight days left of the school year, it won’t be long until graduation, and Silver’s planning on skipping town and leaving Raleigh firmly in her rearview mirror…

Until he comes along…

Alex

Orphan.
Degenerate.
Reprobate.
Deviant.
Alex Moretti’s earned most of his labels, and he’s not ashamed of a single one of them. He’ll earn far worse before he’s finished with his new found ‘friends’ at Raleigh High. Having spent years being ground down under the boot heel of society, it’s time for a little payback. And if exacting revenge upon the heads of the Raleigh elite means he can also help the beautiful girl who hovers in the shadows, then that’s all for the better.

Oil and water. Fire and ice. The differences between Silver and Alex are broader than any chasm. To reach one another, they must take a leap of faith and fall into the divide.

And falling?

Nothing good ever came from falling.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Different from anything she’s ever written before, Callie Hart astounded me with this dark, young adult narrative. It ensnared my attention. Enthralled me. Shredded me to bits. I’m still in tatters—my heart exhausted and emotions wrenched from the hard subject matter weaved through the chapters. For the endless heartache that afflicts the characters. It is depicted in brutally honest terms, with grit and angst intense and unrestrained in deliverance your senses will be chaotic from overload.

“I’m not going to force you to fall for me, Silver. You’ve already been forced to do too much. But don’t blame me if I try and change your mind.”

The Rebel of Raleigh High isn’t an easy read—the raw, vicious nature and malicious intentions of some characters, though kind of cliche, is reminiscent of real life situations and runs deeper, more depraved than expected. Silver Parisi’s ferocious resilience and headstrong determination, despite her harrowing experiences with callous rumours and sexual assault followed by continuous mistreatment is an admirable testament to this heroine’s steadfast courage.

“I also happen to think that you’re the most beautiful fucking thing I have ever witnessed with my own two eyes. I am watching you just as much as you’re watching me… and I don’t trust myself to look away.”

But the genuine beauty of this romance is witnessing the transformation of Alex and Silver. Within a school full of innumerous assholes, the insensitivity becomes somewhat overwhelming. Somehow amongst the adversity, Alex and Silver bare their souls, forging an unwavering connection of truth, honest affection and fierce strength that can’t be rattled or dismantled. Rebellious and flawed, these authentic characters find solace together—a beautiful reminder that there’s brightness within darkness. Someone will eventually believe your truth when everyone else won’t.

If you want a read that features a heroine with unbelievable perseverance; a fierce, protective hero with a hidden caring side; romance that will shred your heart, succumb your emotions to erratic chaos and make you feel everything for the characters, I recommend The Rebel of Raleigh High. It is intense, though somewhat long in certain sections, is still beautifully written and all-consuming.

arc · review · romance

What We Do in the Night by Stylo Fantome

What We Do in the Night (Day to Night #1)
by Stylo Fantome

Rating: ★★★★
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Just five months ago, Valentine O’Dell started working at a very special kind of club – one where you can dance the night away, or live out your greatest fantasy. She’s learned to lose herself to her nights, forgetting all her day time woes as she charms every man she meets. It’s easy enough to do when she doesn’t let her feelings get involved.

Then Ari Sharapov walked in and changed everything.

Working for his father’s law firm has left Ari with very little control over his life, so when he meets Valentine for the first time, he sees a girl who is desperate for someone to take care of her. To take over her. So what he can’t get for himself in the day time, he’ll simply take for himself at night. But when power struggles lead to real feelings, who’s actually controlling whom?

Some relationships are better left in the dark.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Welcome to Caché, an exclusive club of debauched affairs and lascivious desires, where you can chase the darkest fantasies, binge on hedonistic experiences and satisfy untamed cravings of titillation. Two complete opposites—one rich, demanding utter domination; the other poorer, willing to submit—intertwined by insatiable lust and unrestrained affection; confined by an arrangement of convenience make this forbidden romance an irresistible intoxicant.

He was rough and aggressive and dominant. He probably tore his opponents apart in the courtroom, and he was no different in the bedroom.

I have a terrible obsession with foul-mouthed, asshole heroes—the meaner, the better in my opinion. Without doubt, Aaron “Ari” Sharapov is rude, conceited and cocksure of himself. Part of me wanted to despise this character’s self-centered and egotistical attitude, but the moment an unforeseen tender side is exposed in Ari, my heart melted and whatever he lacked romantically, he sure made up with an alluring, formidable sexuality.

She wondered if he had any idea that his idea of punishment was her idea of pleasure.

Valentine O’Dell self-sacrifices to ensure home life is somewhat easy. During the day, she’s sweet and demure, a determined college student in design management, but the nighttime is reserved for seduction and inciting the headiest pleasures to surface. Full of fire and ferocity, her resolute perseverance is an admirable symbolism of inner strength and unfettered devotion to family.

“You’re really bad at this whole fantasy thing.”
“I think it’s more that you’re really bad at this whole reality thing.”

Ari and Val have an irrevocable heated chemistry, twisted together by an irrefutable and intense, forbidden connection. He wants to dominate. She’s willing to submit. Despite coming across as opposites, Ari and Val are complex contradictions who are each other’s perfect, sweetest counterparts. Fused together by an irresistible magnetic pull, this couple’s dramatic relationship, together with Ari’s unflinching obnoxious behaviour and Val’s fearless innocent make the beginning of an interesting duet!

“When the sun goes down, you become mine, Saint Valentine.”

arc · new release · review · romance

Forever and Never by Ella Fields

Forever and Never (Magnolia Cove #2)
by Ella Fields

Rating: ★★★★★
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Lars Bradby was supposed to be my forever.
That was before we found out he would become a father at the tender age of eighteen.

For years, he’d watched me.
For months, he’d wanted me.
For weeks, he’d chased me.


Relentless and infuriating, he turned my stubborn heart into something pliable and weak.
Sly and honest, he worked his way into my life as though he’d always planned to be the focal point of it.


In love and naive, even when our future seemed bleak, I believed in us.
Heartbroken and desperate, I tore my bleeding heart from my chest, wanting only the best for him.


In doing so, our forever wasn’t just interrupted. It was chased away with one irreversible decision after another.
And now, we could no longer see it beneath the heaping piles of debris we’d left in our wake.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

How do you find words accurate enough to describe the intense rush of emotions, or the relentless bombardment of thoughts that you feel finishing a read as evocative as Forever and Never? Heart-rending only scratches that surface. I’ve been shredded, left in tatters to wallow in my wrenched emotions of immense sadness that is as equally fierce as my devastating happiness. Raw and bruised, my heart is exhausted, but also enthralled in irrevocable ways by this bittersweet romance.

“I don’t want to be your boyfriend. I want to be your world.”

I’m in absolute love, truthfully and unconditionally, with Lars Bradby. Beneath his “bad boy”, carefree attitude is someone with numerous, fathomable facets waiting to be discovered—a kind heart and unwavering dedication disclosed through a secretive romantic side. Combined with an unfettered devotion to everyone he adores, Lars ensnared my full attention rendering me totally stunned and enamoured.

Guarded and stubborn from past experience, Daphne Morris doesn’t know what real love or genuine affection is. Complex and multi-faceted, her heart is fortified by long established, untrodden walls, but when these begin to crumble piece by piece, my whole being ached for the insecurity and weakness that came through her outward appearance of confidence.

You could meet your first love, possibly your soul mate, but there were always conditions for those who didn’t deserve them.

Forever turned into never; love transformed into hate, but that didn’t make me love this less, because love isn’t easy. Sometimes it is bittersweet and filled with unending heartache, but the genuine beauty of this romance is seeing real love endure treacherous waters of terrible decisions and unfortunate circumstances. Nothing is eased in, or written in vague detail—it is raw and brutally honest in every realistic depiction making your emotions soar; leaving your beating heart aching.

I say it all the time: Ella Field’s writing is delightfully poetic, a seamless flow of bittersweet, realistic moments soothed by enchanting sentences that ensnare your attention. It will leave your heart tattered and mismatched, but the true authenticity and deliverance makes this heartrending narrative resonate with readers. Difficult and angst-written, the journey is worthwhile because there’s nothing more charming and endearing than witnessing true love prevail.

arc · new release · review · romance

Violent Ends by Jessica Hawkins

Violent Ends (White Monarch #2)
by Jessica Hawkins

Rating: ★★★★★
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I had a life, love, and future to give. Until my enemy took a wife.

The devil has a name, and it’s Cristiano de la Rosa. On my wedding day, he was the last man I expected to see standing at the altar. He wants to make me his queen. His brother wants to rescue his princess.

Getting Cristiano to lose control becomes the name of the game, and the stakes are life and death. But as truth and lies blur, loyalty is tested, and our chemistry threatens to reach the melting point, the prize grows less clear. Either freedom no longer means what I think it does, or Cristiano is as devious as everyone says, and he’s mastered the art of playing my mind.

All I know for certain is that nothing is certain. And all you need to know? This is a love story.

But even love stories have to end.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

From a seamless flow of enchanting moments and enthralling intricacies, I’ve found myself totally charmed and unconditionally enamoured by this sinfully decadent series. Violent Ends is more sordid, full of wicked sexual tension, rife with inescapable angst and featuring the filthiest, dominant anti-hero—the outright debauched insinuations increased tenfold— all weaved together to create a devious, sexually heated and emotionally raw narrative.

Her fear both excited and calmed me. Her tears were mine to collect and soothe. Her pussy was mine to devastate and worship. And lick and explore and fuck.

I have been officially ruined by Cristiano de la Rosa. His unfathomable series of hidden facets and untold secrets, threaded together beautifully, manifests itself into an unreadable, ruthless man doused in confidence, lascivious domination and raw sexuality. Despite the inexorable intimidation in Cristiano, it is soothed by an unforeseen sweetness and fondness for Natalia, creating an attractive, irresistible allure to this merciless character. He will leave you wanton and compelled, ready to spontaneously combust and unashamed in your attraction to this dangerous, but caring man.

I stared at him, utterly perplexed at the puzzle before me. This was exactly what I’d feared. Not knowing whether to hate him or to feel something else entirely.

Natalia Cruz’s defiant attitude matures—she’s less naive, more fierce—with an unrivalled stubbornness and closed-mindedness to follow it. In some aspects, her inevitable confusion, mistrust and aversion is understandable, but the continuous complex warring between body and mind becomes frustrating. Once certain rumours are justified, secrets are unveiled and brutally honest truths are delivered, Natalia’s harsh judgments are challenged, steadily changing into acceptance that made is easy to love her once again.

For every door she slammed, I would open another. I’d pursue her. I’d break down that defiance until I found myself in her sweet core. She would cross over into the darkness. And I’d be waiting with open arms.

Powerfully seductive and beautifully devilish, Cristiano’s dominant attitude, brimming with undeniable wickedness and intense fervor, is an irresistible enticement. Full of animosity, but eased by desire and soothed by flourishing affection, Natalia’s inner submissive blossoms in slight measures in this slow burn romance, leaving me absolutely thrilled to discover what kind of connection this couple will have.

Walking that fine line between hate and admiration only seemed to kindle our sexual attraction.

Violent Ends is all-consuming and angst-ridden, rendering you entranced; your heart erratic, your mind chaotic and emotions racing tenfold. Compelling in deliverance, this romance won’t disappoint—Jessica Hawkins amplifies the sensations and heated connection budding between Natalia and Cristiano as it continues down a dark albeit wonderfully satisfying path.

arc · new adult · review · romance

The Perfect First by Maya Hughes

The Perfect First
by Maya Hughes

Rating: ★★★★
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“How long do you last in bed?” Those were her first words to me, swiftly followed up with, “And how big would you say you are?”

Persephone Alexander. Math genius. Lover of blazers. The only girl I know who can make Heidi braids look sexy as hell. And she’s on a mission. Lose her virginity by the end of the semester.

I walked in on her interview session for potential candidates (who even does that?) and saw straight through her brave front. She’s got a list of Firsts to accomplish like she’s only got months to live. I’ve decided to be her guide for all her firsts except one. Someone’s got to keep her out of trouble. I have one rule, no sex. We even shook on it.

I’ll help her find the right guy for the job. Someone like her doesn’t need someone like me and my massive…baggage for her first time.

Drinking at a bar. Check.

Partying all night. Double check.

Skinny dipping. Triple check.

She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met. The walls I’d put up around my heart are slowly crumbling with each touch that sets fire to my soul.

I’m the first to bend the rules. One electrifying kiss changes everything and suddenly I don’t want to be her first, I want to be her only. But her plan was written before I came onto the scene and now I’m determined to get her to re-write her future with me.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Maya Hughes has started an addictive series featuring irresistible footballers in Fulton U. Despite the countless sports romances floating around, the unique creativity and authentic quality of this narrative prevents it from becoming reused material. With innumerous sweet moments, intense chemistry and stomach-aching humour, The Perfect First ensures your attention is captured and thoughts consumed by this endearing romance of perfect firsts.

I was tired of being me, and the only way to change that was to stop being afraid of what I wanted.

Persephone Alexander’s innocence is charming and refreshing, though her chaste nature doesn’t mean she’s naive. Unashamed and unassuming in conversation, her lack of tact creates an amusing meet cute situation that left me guffawing in absolute delight! Quiet, fierce rebellion unveils itself, as Seph’s determination to experience certain moments before she’s suffocated by an authoritative father’s demands comes to fruition, making me invested in this heroine’s transformation from introverted to free-willed with confidence.

I’d give her the other firsts, as many as I could, because if I gave her too much, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from never wanting to stop.

I love a conceited football hero—the cockier, the better—however there’s no denying that hidden sweetness and kind-heartedness creates an irresistible character with dimension. Despite Reece Michaels odd but entertaining meet cute with Seph, he isn’t deterred by the unusual situation. By starting a friendship, Reece provides Seph more than firsts; he also brings friendships and connections, both encouraging and heart-warming gestures that allow this quirky heroine to flourish into a self-assured woman who understands her self-worth.

She’d gotten so fully and completely under my skin, I didn’t know how I’d existed before I met her.

“Sweet” isn’t an accurate definition to truthfully encapsulate the undeniable connection between Seph and Reece. Intense and unbreakable, the friendship they form transitions into an undeniable, romantic bond full of immense affection and charming chemistry that latches itself to your mind, ensnaring your full attention. It tugs on your heart-strings, dousing you in all the good feelings that come with reading a humorous, contemporary romance. Wherever Maya Hughes directs this series, I’m keen to have more of these footballers!

arc · new release · review · romance

The Marriage Effect by Karla Sorensen

The Marriage Effect
by Karla Sorensen

Rating: ★★★★
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Logan Ward doesn’t want any more women in his life.

Being a football player and legal guardian to his four younger sisters means his playbook is full. However, one of them just landed in the hospital, which gives his brother the shot he needs to challenge Logan for custody.

Legal counsel says there’s only one thing Logan can do—find himself a wife.

Paige McKinney doesn’t always think things through.

Like walking away from her modeling career without a thought of what might come next. She really doesn’t think it through when she proclaims herself Logan’s fiancé at the hospital, simply because the sexy—albeit grumpy—football player forgot his cell phone at a party and security won’t let her pass. It’s not her fault it was overheard by the worst possible person.

A bargain is struck, and a fake marriage is the perfect solution. But the simple solution creates a whole new problem: they’re not as different as they seem. The reluctant groom has fire inside him, and his impetuous bride is about to light the match.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

When Karla Sorensen releases a sports romance, I know a sure, beautifully written narrative full of belly-aching humour, delightfully sweet moments, heated chemistry and heartfelt emotions is guaranteed. The Marriage Effect doesn’t fail to ensure your mind is enamoured; your heart bursting with so much warmth and enchantment from this faultless marriage of convenience between two seeming opposites.

Paige and I were the same. Whatever fire burned inside her, I had it in me too. I’d just never met anyone who made me want to let the flames consume me. Who made me want to see how hot they could burn, what heights they could reach, what we could reach together.

Irresistible and enigmatic, Logan Ward is an obsession waiting to happen—a man who broods and quietens, but behind the facade harbours a secretive characteristic: a loving sweetheart with an unwavering affection for his sisters. Full of sass, ferocity and unrivalled feistiness, Paige McKinney can’t be ruffled by anyone or anything, but she’s unsettled and the unforeseen weakness in this woman creates a complex, realistic character.

Despite coming across as opposites, this couple is bound together by an irrefutable connection that manifests itself through their marriage of convenience. It is filled with a combination of passionate chemistry, sexual tension and affectionate endearment, you won’t even realise this is slow burn as every moment shared is an enchanting intoxication that’ll ensure you remain invested in this couple.

There was a time in my life when falling in love felt impossible and unattainable, and now I was in love with five people in different ways.

Packed with so much heat, tender moments and genuine emotions, this will become your newest sports romance obsession. But, no matter the sweetness, The Marriage Effect is also about bonds we share and sacrifices we make to protect our family that will fill your heart with many sensations.

arc · new adult · new release · review · romance

Cruel Fortune by K.A. Linde

Cruel Fortune
by K.A. Linde

Rating: ★★★
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I finally have everything I ever wanted—fame and fortune and literary success.

Only one problem: I lost my muse.

He was tall, dark, and handsome. Broody, enigmatic, alluring, and right for me in every way.

Until he wasn’t. Until I lost everything.

And I can’t lose it all again. I’ll do anything to keep it.

Even seeing him again…

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

In Cruel Fortune, New York’s Upper East Side returns with no shortage of malicious intentions, devious seduction and deceptive characters. Brimming with maddening pretences and frivolous schemes, the intensity rushing through this sequel will leave your mind stunned, heart racing and emotions unsettled as unexpected situations surface and the dramatic events continue to unfold.

They would lie, cheat, and steal for what they thought belonged to them.

Natalie Bishop goes back to Manhattan, the city of indescribable entitlements and inevitable exclusivity where her heart was shattered into minuscule pieces. Despite the deception, the devastating lie and destructive personalities that altered her perception of Manhattan, Natalie is finding herself returning to—staying—in this heartbreaking city, with charm and beauty that is both irresistible and indescribable, a twisting combination of bittersweet moments and wrenching experiences, to finally accomplish her long-lived dreams of becoming an author.

Abandon. That was what his lips tasted like.
Bliss. That was what his hands felt like.
Reverence. That was what his body sang to me.

Despite the immature scenarios and pettish actions, I’m kind of obsessed with this mess. Cruel Fortune is reminiscent of Gossip Girl and Dynasty, the trash-filled, drama-fuelled television shows that somehow capture my attention, leaving me riveted and invested in fictional characters’ inconsequential bullshit and trainwreck lives.

However, no matter my love, Natalie’s bewildering decisions made my teeth hurt from how hard they ground together in frustration. Her revenge-esque attitude doesn’t concern me because, to be quite honest, I’m living for the kind of transformation that will make Natalie finally have some backbone against Katherine. I lost respect for Natalie, reaching a firm conclusion that she’s weak and feeble, controlled by hormones and indecision instead of having strength and perseverance. Her attitude towards everything—Lewis, Penn, the crew, her career is such a complete disappointment.

This world chewed me up and spit me out. And they just keep fucking winning. Even when they’re wrong, they always win.

With lies and secrets, the tense atmosphere and brilliantly constructed environment of toxic deception and venomous intentions, New York’s treacherous Upper East Side will have you consumed and captivated as these characters’ “perfect” lives unravel. Cruel Fortune wasn’t needed or necessary to be honest, just a convenient excuse to drag this series out and ensure there’s a plausible reason to separate Penn from Natalie. It bided time to amplify the series’ finale, make us desperate to have more Penn and see Natalie find herself falling into the Crew’s drama—again. With that said, I do like this author’s writing and will await the finale in Cruel Legacy.

arc · new adult · review · romance

Gluttony by K. Webster

Gluttony (The Elite Seven #6)
by K. Webster

Rating: ★★★★
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My life has been served to me on a gold platter to be devoured by my silver spoon.

Money, money, and more money. It’s the backbone of the Goddard name. I’m the only son, so it’s all mine for the taking.

But sometimes money isn’t enough. I always want more, yet nothing seems to satisfy me.

My father has made sure I become a part of The Elite Seven. Where most candidates are chosen, I was given my place. Everything comes at a price, though. Luckily, I can afford any price—no one has more money than God.

The Elite Seven have their initiations. My assignment is personal and beneath me: steal a car and send a warning. It’ll hurt my best friend in the process, but we both made a pact going into this. There’s no line we won’t cross.

My task makes an ugly turn and I nearly take a life. Such a small, unimportant person—someone no one would even notice was gone. She’s a problem my money and power can easily sweep under the rug.

It’s what my father wants. It’s what my brothers want. But when she finally opens those big, innocent brown eyes, I realize I’ve found what I’ve been searching for my entire life. I don’t want my little problem to disappear…I want to keep her.

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

Money is my legacy, but I want something money can’t buy.
I am Baxter Samuel Goddard V.
I am Gluttony.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

K. Webster delivered an enthralling installment featuring a lead character who embodied his assigned sin and was more complex than expected, confronted unexpected matters within a secret society and established a relationship that flourished and bloomed. Gluttony maintained a perfect balance of romance and intrigue, furthering the story-line surrounding the Elite Seven without disrupting the momentum or disregarding the burgeoning relationship between God and Zemira.

“I hate how we got here, but I’m not hating that we’re here.”

I assumed nothing more than some entitled, self-absorbed and conceited asshole in Baxter Goddard, but his character captured my attention, leaving me riveted and captivated. Hidden complexity is waiting to be discovered beneath his superficial over-indulgent and materialistic personality, an undeniable pleasant surprise that made this story great. Brimming with self-hatred and intense insecurity, God expressed selfishness and selflessness in equal measure. But, Gluttony goes beyond this—it focuses on God’s growth as he traverses the ramifications of destroying someone’s life… almost.

Zemira is in my blood, in my veins, in my soul. Burning through me like lava—hot and explosive. Changing me. Evolving me. Hiding the ugly parts and molding me into something new.
I yearn to be new and whole and better.
I crave to transform into someone a girl like Zemira deserves.

Zemira Coleman is perhaps my favourite heroine in this series. Despite the hardships she has experienced, Zemira’s strength, outlook and philosophies are awe-inspiring. Her kindness and stability manage to balance God’s chaotic, perturbed life, the perfect counter and lesson that exhibits there’s more to life than money and power. She’s also, quite easily, the only developed character within this series. Unorthodox, though somewhat romantic—perhaps because it is the only developed romance in this series—God and Zemira have a connection that is unique and refreshing as they inspire and support each other through difficult situations.

Me, the girl with nothing, gave the man with everything something worth having: love.

Gluttony transcended my expectations, showcasing what this series should have achieved. K. Webster’s writing is fantastic, a combination of compelling and enthralling, as she balances the romance and darkness within a shorter format without wavering. Shame we needed to wait five sequels to have this moment.

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*

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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.