Book Review · Romantic Suspense

Book Review ~~~ Surrender Series #1

THE GUILDED CUFF by Lauren Smith

Every passion has its price . . .

Journalist Sophie Ryder has been following Emery Lockwood’s story since she was a little girl. There has always been something in his haunted eyes that she couldn’t resist and now, when she’s certain he holds the key to solving a string of kidnappings, she’ll do anything to speak to him. Even if it means venturing deep into the seductive world of the Gilded Cuff, a luxurious BDSM club on Long Island’s Gold Coast and Emery’s personal playground.

From the moment Sophie enters his shadowy, sensual domain, Emery Lockwood knows this tantalizing new little sub was meant to belong to him. However, Sophie wants more from Emery than just pleasure . . . she wants his past. And that is something he isn’t willing to give—no matter who is asking. But every moment he spends with Sophie, Emery feels his control slipping and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he surrenders to her heart, body, and soul.

Review – 3.25 stars

I won a copy of this, and book 2, a long time ago in a FB party. However the last few years I have seen me sign up for far too many arc books/teams, to the point that I wasn’t getting chance to read anything else. This year I’ve cut right back, and am determined that the majority of books will be ones I choose to read, rather than arc commitments.


So, on to what I thought of the book. Overall I enjoyed this, there were a few plot holes, a couple of continuity errors and this could never be considered BDSM in a month of Sundays, but it was still entertaining and good enough that I read it through to the end. This is a review that will probably focus on what stopped this being a 5 star read (and it had the right elements to get there) and will seem quite negative. So I will repeat again, this is between liked and really liked for me. It was a positive reading experience and I will continue with the series when time allows.


First of all, a very short spanking and set of cuffs does not a Dom make, I’ve read less vanilla sex scenes in pure contemporary romances. Emery was more of a Top than a Dom, the sheer fact that (quote) “He always gave her what she asked for” and he said “We’ll talk about this later. I want to know what’s upset you, but we’re running late”, said it all. The first quote makes me think of him more like a Daddy Dom, spoiling his Little sub something rotten. However no Dom worth his salt would EVER not want to know what was upsetting his sub immediately he was aware of her distress. I wish the author had not tried to go down the ‘kink’ road, the book would have worked so much better if he’s just been a man that liked to be more dominant/in control in the bedroom rather than keep saying he was a Dom but showing very little evidence.


The timeline is very short and left everything feeling far too “insta” for my tastes. However I went with the flow on it, especially given that I did feel the connection between Sophie and Emery. The chemistry between them allowed me to buy into them being swept away and indulging in unusual behaviour due to the tide of passion that they were caught up on. I’m not a huge fan of insta-love but strangely, despite my preference for a longer time line, I did buy into the depth of their feelings. It also helped that Sophie and Emery were both incredibly easy to like characters, not to mention that the plot was very interesting and easily held my attention.


Thankfully the majority of things that didn’t really work were so minor it didn’t throw me out of the story. For instance Sophie reminisces on how her heart was broken 5 years earlier, by a guy who didn’t respect her job as an investigative journalist. That would have made her 19, which seems very young for such a job – don’t most journalists need a degree first? At 24 she still barely had the life experience for the job, at 19 I’m sure she’d have just been making the coffee! There was a slight paranormal/sixth sense explanation for some of her work success, which personally I didn’t mind and, for me, it did strengthen the story line.


For someone as security paranoid as Emery, with a tech firm that had some amazing gadgets, somehow the bad guy managed to plant a bug in the property? He couldn’t get into the property to finish Emery off but he could get in to plant a bug? Hmmm, plot hole. There were also a couple of continuity type things – a soaking wet T-shirt being described as pyjama’s (though she had slept in them so perhaps in the US that term might be used), a set of leather cuffs morphing into gilded cuffs before being replaced with – yep – leather cuffs, and a reference to Sophie being 11 when her friend was abducted, when every other reference said 7.


However despite that I still liked this book. As a romantic suspense it does a good job, it wasn’t too far fetched or too predictable.


Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Gilded-Cuff-Surrender-Book-ebook/dp/B00SMCO8GA

Book Review · Omegaverse

Book Review ~~~ CHOOSING HER ALPHA

CHOOSING HER ALPHA

by Isoellen

Sasha’s situation has reached critical mass.

Her mother is dying, and her step-father Merrick is a jackal waiting to stake his claim the second she is legal. In her world, Sasha is promised a choice. But if Merrick gets his way she will be married before anyone can protest against it.

Desperate to secure the futures of herself and her workers, Sasha makes a dangerous gamble… She seeks out Constantine Kane, the most feared and respected man in the 12 Sectors.

Sasha has made her choice… Will it be one she lives to regret?

Warning: This dystopian romance explores 18+ themes including scenes of violence, sexual content and power exchange. 





This is a great omegaverse read, especially for a debut novel.


Towards the lighter grey end of the “dark spectrum”, Choosing Her Alpha is a great addition to the omegaverse genre. The sex is all consensual, though there are a few scenes of violence and a near miss scene. Isoellen has created a dystopian future that reminded me a little of that in the O’Kane series of books by Kit Rocha. I’m not suggesting any copying, this is definitely it’s own book and a really great one too. Several friends had recommended this book as one to read, and since it was in KU I decided to give it a try. I’m so happy I did because this proved to be a very captivating read, I really didn’t want to put this one down.


It’s pretty difficult to do anything other than adore Sasha, a strong and determined girl who cared about those around her. In a world where fertile Omega’s are already quite rare, she displays gifts that truly set her apart. This is one area that I would have liked to have seen more detail on, or to have it play a more significant role in the story. In fact there were a couple of different plot strands that allowed a more detailed picture to be painted of Sasha’s background and life, but that didn’t really add to the story going forward.


Whilst the members of Kane’s harem weren’t the nicest of females, I liked that the author didn’t go down the route of all other females being nasty and bitchy to the heroine. In fact there is a good blend of supporting characters to give the story extra depth.


The story is quite slow burn, we have to wait a fairly long time for the first sex scene between Kane and Sasha. There was just so much great story within the pages that I didn’t miss them. In fact I felt it made the relationship between Kane and Sasha feel more believable. There was also some necessary world building that took place in this time.


The epilogue is written from Kane’s point of view with him reminiscing over certain events, allowing us to understand his actions and reasoning. Whilst it was really good to understand some of his motivations and feelings, in future I would love the author to have both point of views scattered throughout the book. It doesn’t have to be a 50/50 split, but including it more frequently does allow us the reader to form a deeper bond with both characters.


This is an author I will most definitely be keeping track of and reading in the future.



Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Choosing-Her-Alpha-Isoellen-ebook/dp/B082VH1D6F

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Book Review · Power Exchange · Romantic Suspense

MISSING PIECES ~~~ Book Review

Missing Pieces series
by RJ Gray, Stella Moore and Rachel Blake




Finding Rowena by Rachel Blake

Synopsis

Adopted as an infant, Rowena Erikson has a nearly perfect life with wonderful, loving parents and her sexy, dominant husband, Octavius, who adores her.

She’s always wondered about her biological family, but never thought she’d actually meet them – until an extraordinary series of events reveals she has not just one, but two identical sisters.
She is a triplet!

However, her newfound family is nothing like she imagined. Each sister is struggling with her own heartache, and as Rowena has learned the hard way, perfect is just an illusion.

Publisher’s Note: This story contains elements of power exchange.



Review – 3.5 Stars

On balance Finding Rowena is an engaging and enjoyable read and one that I recommend if your looking for a lighter BDSM/ DD read. The characters are likeable, Rowena and Octavius are already a couple so whilst there wasn’t so much of a romance there is plenty of steam both BDSM and discipline wise. The pace was good and there are some great supporting characters.


There were a few minor issues that meant I wasn’t able to rate this any higher than “liked it”. The first is that it felt as if I’d arrived in the middle of a story or series of books, characters and situations were spoken about as though I already had knowledge of them. This proved to be quite distracting at times and left me floundering a little.


The book also felt a little more tell than show. Since Octavius/O/Bear/Daddy (perhaps one name would have been sufficient?) and Ro were already in a dynamic and married this didn’t prove too much of an issue in terms of believing in their relationship. However it DID impact on what felt like a very abrupt and slightly out of left field decision at the end. Because we didn’t hear their ‘mental thought processes’ it felt like choices and actions came out of nowhere.


The final thing was that I wasn’t quite sure what the actual main focus of the book was, which also played into me being a little surprised by the ending. I thought the story was heading somewhere else altogether! There are quite a few loose ends left at the end of this book, which I assume will be picked up and form part of both Teagan and Evelyn’s stories.


I liked this enough that I do intend to continue reading about them all.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Finding Teagan by RJ Gray

Synopsis

Will Teagan open herself up to be loved unconditionally by the new people in her life, or will she put up her defenses and shut everyone out once and for all?

Growing up as an abandoned orphan, Teagan Smith is determined to make something of herself while providing justice for abused women and children. As a ballsy, independent police detective, she does just that. Her career is fulfilling even while her personal life is nonexistent…
Until the moment she looks up and sees her identical twin sister on television, a sister she didn’t know she had. Using her detective skills, she discovers not one but two identical sisters. Triplets.

Teagan suddenly goes from having no family to an instant sibling group. Not only does she have two sisters to contend with, but her brother-in-law’s best friend is a dominant, nosy, and incredibly sexy former navy Seal who won’t take no for an answer. He challenges Teagan to love not only him, but herself as well. He makes demands that even her training could have never prepared her for.

Publisher’s Note: This steamy contemporary romance contains elements of power exchange.





Review – 4 Stars

This is a very pleasant read, maybe not the deepest of stories but it was both captivating and entertaining. Luca and Teagan were immensely likeable characters and I found it easy to buy into their feelings for one another. The book easily held my attention and I loved how Luca supported Teagan as she struggled, disciplining her but also treating her with respect and care.


This is a Domestic Discipline story, with elements of power exchange, but whilst it was discussed a fair amount we actually saw very few discipline scenes first hand. I felt the balance of plot, steam and discipline was excellent, the pace and story never dragged. Whilst I’m not sure that type of relationship would be for me, the author definitely portrayed it in a way that made it easy to understand and also to enjoy. I always wonder when the guy says “you’ll answer to me”, who exactly HE will answer to, but then he shows just how thoughtful, caring and dependable he is, so I let it pass!


I’ve not read RJ Gray before but I will make an effort to do so in the future.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Finding Evie by Stella Moore

Synopsis

New beginnings come at a price…

Adopted into a life of wealth and privilege, Evelyn Berkshire’s ivory tower has become her prison. Her fiancé, the charming, newly elected governor of Oregon, is a monster, and she is convinced she will never escape. That is, until she meets the sisters she was separated from at birth, and they refuse to abandon her to a life of hidden bruises and fake smiles.

Through her sisters, she finds the pieces of herself she never realized were missing, including the adorably nerdy former Navy SEAL, Jason Campbell. Evelyn is drawn to his quiet strength, and he quickly becomes the rock she clings to when her life spins out of control.

But when their carefully crafted escape plan takes an unexpected turn, her faith in her new family is put to the test. Can Evelyn trust them to do what’s right, or will she strike out on her own and risk the lives of everyone she loves?

Publisher’s Note: This steamy, action-packed romance contains elements of power exchange.




Review – 4 Stars

This was. at times, quite an emotional read and I found myself not wanting to put it down. Most of the story is tied up in this book, with Evie finding the perfect man in her Daddy Dom, Jason.



One of the impressive things about this book is that the secondary characters still feel true even though this book was written by yet another author. The plot was really captivating, the pace held my attention from start to finish and I really, really enjoyed every moment of reading this.


Missing Pieces is a fantastic series and one I’m very happy to recommend.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Finding Forever by Rachel Blake, RJ Gray and Stella Moore

Synopsis

Three sisters, separated at birth, identical down to their DNA. For over thirty years, they lived without knowledge of each other’s existence until one fateful night changed everything.

Now, a new revelation is testing the bonds of their relationships. Hidden family secrets and broken promises threaten to tear them apart and destroy the family they’ve just begun to build. And it’s not just their relationships with each other on the line.

Can they work past their differences and face these trials together? Or will these three sisters once again become nothing more than strangers who happen to look alike?

Publisher’s Note: The steamy conclusion of the Missing Pieces saga contains mystery, secrets, and elements of power exchange.




Review – 4.5 Stars

After reading the first book I so very nearly didn’t complete this series, thank goodness I had KU and decided to give book 2 a chance because I have to say the stories have gotten better and better. I really, really enjoyed this tying up of loose ends, this securing of futures, this learning to love and forgive.


As others have said, the writing flows seamlessly and there is never a feel of certain scenes or chapters having been written by one particular author. It felt as though one hand had written this story. A story that captivated me from the off, took me down some very unexpected paths, nicely showed that the guys weren’t perfect either and was packed full of adventure. It was also stuffed to the gills with feels and emotion. I may have found myself blinking away tears on more than one occasion!


The epilogue is Hallmark-ly sweet. On paper it was overdone, far to sugary and impossibly perfect. However I loved every darn minute of it and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Bravo ladies on a great series of books.





Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Missing-Pieces-4-Book-Series/dp/B084T1Y44Z/


Book Review · Dark

Book Review ~~~ In the Garden of Discontent



In the Garden of Discontent by Lily White

In the Garden of Discontent

by Lily White

Release: February 19, 2020

Genre: Romantic Suspense



An at times difficult read, jam packed with abuse, helplessness, neglect and misery.


This is more “psychological Lily” than “dark Lily”, an into the pits of hell mix of both. Please don’t ignore the warnings on this one!


This is one of those books that frequently switches between past and present, though it’s always made clear both WHEN you are and who’s point of view you were getting. The story is built mainly from the flashbacks, and I must admit I did struggle a little bit around 35% or so. I came close to skimming this because I was just getting a little frustrated, wanting to get somewhere in the now. However I set it aside and when I picked it back up the next day I couldn’t put the book down, so it was either me in an off mood or the story started moving in a way I needed it to. It doesn’t matter to much which one it was because after that I just couldn’t put this down.

“I love you, Ensley Bennett.”
My teeth slammed together, and I screamed, a noise tearing from my throat that has been stuck there since I was a kid.




I really, really, REALLY didn’t care for Noah at first, but as I saw the pain and misery he had willingly endured as a child/teen my feelings did a total 180 flip. And then I had to avoid thinking too much about the years he had spent in prison because that just broke my heart and crushed my mind.


Our pain had raised the boy, but prison had shaped the man.



He was the firm anchor that held Ensley’s sanity in place whilst her body and soul were battered by the storms and terrors of her life. She lived in a miserable pit of hell, let down by the very people who should have protected her. To be honest I didn’t care either way if Noah had killed her parents, they didn’t deserve any kindness.


There were so many things that could potentially make you dislike Ensley, her decisions, her secrets, her refusal to ask for or accept help. But at the end of the day we have to remember that she was a child, a victim of neglect and abuse, a girl who survived the best way she could and who wanted more for Noah. He was the best thing, the only thing of joy in her life, and because she loved him she wanted to set him free.

Noah had owned me since the moment he watched me from his window and called out to me the first time. I may not have known it then, but I knew it now, and was a better woman for it, his name was chiseled over every bone and branded on every organ.
I was his.
In body. In mind. And in spirit.







God this isn’t an easy read, and you’ll find yourself both loving every word whilst hating them. Hating the evil, the pain, the suffering but loving Ensley and Noah, two survivors who just never gave up.

He never stopped loving me.
Not when we were kids.
Not while he was locked away.
Not tonight.
And I just cried, the sobs shaking every part of me.
His arms a cage that kept me safe.




This book made The Five seem quite sweet and light by comparison. Don’t say you haven’t been warned, but DO give this a chance if you love a dark, psychological romance.

Noah’s mouth was next to my ear, a gritty whisper dragging me back, his erection rubbing between my legs.
“I loved you every time you couldn’t love yourself. Every time you hurt me. Every time you ran away.”

Still, he whispered, the words a low growl from how hard he f**ked me. “I love you, Ensley.”
Another thrust, the slap of skin.
“Always have.”
Another. “Always will.”




Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50498768-in-the-garden-of-discontent

Blurb:

This is a love story.
It’s brutal.
Heartwrenching.
Terrifying, honest, and raw.

But a love story nonetheless…because it is so beautiful.


Ensley:
Noah Carter was the type of guy that every girl wanted.
Gorgeous. Talented. Smart and kind.
He was the world that revolved around me even though I didn’t deserve him.
But then something went wrong.
He snapped maybe, just lost his mind.
I found him the night my family died, their blood staining his hands.
I put him in prison. I got my revenge.
But then years later he broke free and stole me away from my life.


Noah:
You couldn’t know Ensley without wanting to strangle her.
She was beautiful. She was wild. She was the girl next door.
I grew up with her by my side.
I watched her destroy herself while I held on.
I protected her when she had been blind to the danger that surrounded her.
I let her go once, only to find her again.
She would see me this time no matter what. 

Buy Links: Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/39BPPK7
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/323vxGX
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2SG75He
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2UUN7eU




Praise:

A barbaric love story of mangled hearts, who despite standing in ravaged lives, find love in stolen hours in the darkness of night. It hurt my heart to go on, yet I couldn’t stop. ~ Shabby, Book Bistro Blog

A truly unique, unpredictable, raw, heartbreaking and utterly riveting read! ~ Kitty Kats Crazy About Books

A love with no limits, no restrictions and no bounds. A pure unconditional love. This story is so devastatingly heartbreaking. It is raw, gritty and disturbing. ~ Literati Literature Lovers

Giveaway: https://www.facebook.com/authorlilywhite/photos/a.693425087366777/3632050363504220/?type=3&theater





Excerpt: 

Leaning down, Noah trapped my bottom lip between his teeth, the hold a punishment, the sting a balm. A part of that ugliness inside me fractured, that tiny amount of pain enough to knock something loose until its was rolling around and rattling.

Opening my lips with his, he swept his tongue into my mouth, filling me with his taste. 

I was held up only by his grip on my shirt, balanced only by the strength of his arm and shoulder. My head fell back as he kissed along my jaw and down my neck, teeth scraping the skin, his bite sinking into my shoulder.

Lifting his head, he pressed his mouth against mine and moved to shove me against the wall, trapping me in place.

“I won’t fight you anymore, Ens.” 

Noah spoke against my mouth, his knee coming up between my legs, spreading them until he could bring it up further. I rubbed against him, desperate to soothe the throbbing pulse that beat for only him, but he grabbed my hip with his other hand and held me still.

“Not anymore. You want to feel something? You need a release? I’ll give it to you, but not like this. I’m not a teenage boy whose hand can be forced. Not by you, and not by anyone.”

Our pain had raised the boy, but prison had shaped the man.

Tears welled in my eyes, the need so overpowering, that I slapped at him with my hands. He didn’t wince at my blows, he only pushed me tighter against the wall trapping my body with his own.

“Please…” The word tumbled from my lips, my body crumpling against him.







Author Bio:

Lily White is a romance writer who likes to dabble on the taboo side of eroticism. She is most known for her Masters Series, Target This, Wishing Well, and Asylum. In addition to dark romance Lily writes contemporary romance, taboo romance, and psychological thrillers. Lily enjoys stretching her writing muscles by continuing to challenge herself with each book she publishes.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlilywhite/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/lilywhitebooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lilywhiteauthor/

Website: www.lilywhitebooks.com



Book Review · PNR · Reverse Harem

Book Review – Midnight Fae Academy #1

MIDNIGHT FAE ACADEMY #1
by Lexi C Foss




A reverse harem, bully (enemies-to-lovers) paranormal romance.

5+ Stars

Wow, this book will grab you by the throat, push you up against the wall and seriously f**c with your mind. And you’ll enjoy every moment of it.



This felt almost like a bully romance at first, poor Aflora was treated so badly by both Shade and Kols. I totally and utterly wanted to throat punch them both. But then we start seeing another side to each guy and they rather grew on me and along with Zeph they make great partners for Aflora.


There are so many mysteries swirled together and just as one strand unravels, and we learn something new, another puzzle pops up to take its place. I was utterly captivated and completed the story in one sitting. Just couldn’t put it down, desperate to read the next page and find out what would befall our beleaguered heroine next.


Aflora is a very gentle and kind soul, but that isn’t to be mistaken for weakness. She’s thrown totally into the deep end of life at the Midnight Fae Academy without even a kiddy arm band to stop her drowning. This is a culture that clearly believes in being cruel to be kind, or perhaps they’re just arrogant, thoughtless dicks. I’m still not sure if I like Shade, if I bumped into him in the street I might just poke him in the eye on Aflora’s behalf. Kols and Zeph grew on me, sometimes like a bad spot that you wanted to lance, but grow they did.



I only hope that Lexi C Foss is busy writing because I really, really need to read book 2. Like read-it-yesterday need to read it.






𝙒𝙚𝙡𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙈𝙞𝙙𝙣𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙁𝙖𝙚 𝘼𝙘𝙖𝙙𝙚𝙢𝙮.
𝙃𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘿𝙖𝙧𝙠 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙨.
𝙑𝙖𝙢𝙥𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙨.
𝘼𝙣𝙙 𝙘𝙧𝙪𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙛𝙖𝙚.

A forbidden bite led to my capture and recruitment.
There are no flowers here.
No life.
Only death.

I’m an Earth Fae who doesn’t belong here.
They can play their little mind games all they want, but I’m going to find a way back to my elemental world. Even if it kills me.

Except Headmaster Zephyrus is one step ahead of my every move.
Prince Kolstov won’t stop cornering me.
And Shadow–the reason I’m in this damn mess to begin with–haunts my dreams.

My affinity for the earth is dying and being replaced by something more sinister. Something powerful. Something deadly.

The Midnight Fae believe this is my fate.
They claim that I was “recruited” for a purpose.
To battle a rising presence.
Or to die trying.

I don’t owe them a damn thing. But if I have to pass their trials to find my way home, then so be it. I survived a plague and far worse in the Elemental Fae realm. An ominous energy? Please. What a joke.

Give it your best shot.
I’m waiting.
And don’t you dare bite me.
Or I’ll make you regret it.




Author Note: This is a dark paranormal reverse harem trilogy with bully romance (enemies-to-lovers) elements. Despite Aflora’s opinions on the matter, there will definitely be biting. Shadow, aka Shade, guarantees it. This book ends on a cliffhanger.




Purchase Link: https://geni.us/AYIdTM


Available in Kindle Unlimited