There was a time when I loved to read MC books but, eh, not so much these days. I really enjoyed the ones I read, but for me the subgenre ended up feeling very “samey” due to the “expectations”, or maybe even limitations, that pinning a label to a book seems to engender. The same could be considered true, to a similar or lesser extent, for Rock Star, Sports and Mafia romances.
Some readers love the familiarity, the knowing what to expect and what order events will happen in. The fact that some authors have a single series 20 or 30 books long is testament to that fact, and I respect their choices and decisions. But those choices aren’t for me. I get bored, so what for some is “comfortable and familiar” quickly becomes “the same old, same old” for me. Horses for courses.
So after much internal debate I’m going with All Screwed Up, by AJ Adams, for two reasons. The first is that she’s a great author and this book really did hold my attention. The second is that it features an MC that is based in the Lincolnshire town of Skegness. Now if you’ve ever had the “pleasure” to visit the delight that is Skegvegas and observed it’s multitude of caravan holiday parks then you will understand why I nearly died laughing at the thought of an MC operating within it’s confines. They’d be run out of town by the old dears on their mobility scooters. 😂😂😂
A well crafted, captivating and thoroughly enjoyable story.
Spirit is definitely full of just that, a tough cookie of a heroine who, even when life kicks her down, paints on a happy face and thinks of others. Coop is a mystery wrapped up in an enigma, all parceled up in one gorgeous package. Both of them have secrets, both of them have known suffering, both of them are loners, used to coping on their own.
When Coop first met Spirit he really didn’t impress me, he wouldn’t take a polite no and then took offence when she stretched the truth to fob him off. It took a loooooong time but Coop did eventually realise just how wrong he had been, but not until Spirit has suffered through a few fraught encounters, and a lot more, with him.
I don’t want to say too much due to spoilers, so I’ll stick with how much I loved these characters. We get glimpses of old favourites, from previous books, though this story could very easily be read standalone. Neither of the main protagonists are perfect, they both have made mistakes but equally they are incredibly loyal people. The chemistry between them felt very natural, meaning it was incredibly easy to believe in the developing relationship.
The romance between Spirit and Coop is only one element of the book. There are also a couple of different mystery elements and plenty of action filled plot that add up to one really great read. Ruthless Sinner is quite a long book, allowing plenty of time to fully develop both the characters and the story line. It was the perfect balance, so that nothing felt rushed but at the same time it didn’t drag either.
I sort of guessed who the bad guy was, though it was more of a hunch. I wasn’t totally convinced it was definitely that person, for a while, and I did waver over other suspects too. The suspense element was really well written through the story and the big “show down” was unexpected, twisty and amazing. I loved how it drew in previous elements of the story, how it sort of drew a line under things and allowed a fresh start of sorts.
Elements of the book are pretty thought provoking too. Coop is a “chemist” who cooks up drugs for the cartel to sell, he kills other bad guys and makes no apologies for that. Spirit, with no qualifications and in need of money, spent a brief period as a sex worker and she seemed to be the more judged for that past. She had done nothing to harm anyone, but was a pariah in her community. Looked down on, disregarded as trash, yet she had the most caring and forgiving soul. In real life I really wouldn’t want to know a Coop, because drugs to ruin lives, but (a) this is fiction and (b) in all other aspects he was a very honorable man. He drove himself into the ground to try and ensure the safety of local women. He was also loyal to those who had earned his trust and respect. We can be pretty quick to judge and in some ways this is a case of ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’.
TL;DR In summary this is an action packed, well written, steamy mafia romance with two great main characters and a fantastic plot. Highly recommended.
Blurb Determined to get her mother the healthcare she needs, drop dead gorgeous Spirit Westcott works as a stripper, not caring that it cements her reputation as the Beauview village bad girl. But when Spirit falls foul of John Cooper, the newest member of the notorious Zeta Cartel, she loses her job. Furious, Spirit confronts Coop–only to discover his secret drug lab. When Coop decides to save her, by disappearing her and keeping her captive, Spirit is less than impressed. However, she quickly learns that Coop has an even deadlier secret, and one that may drag her into the abyss. When dangerous, single-minded John Cooper learns his best friend was murdered, he resolves to exact bloody vengeance. The knowledge that his prey is a Zeta, one of Mexico’s most dangerous cartels, doesn’t stop him. Coop joins the organisation, only to discover that finding his prey won’t be easy. To his annoyance, sexy Spirit Westcott is also a spanner in the works. After embarrassing him in public, Coop suddenly finds himself saddled with her as an unwanted captive. Then, just as things couldn’t get worse, a killer starts to pick off Beauview village girls. As Coop is drawn further into the cartel, he is forced to make decisions that may cost him his life–and that of his love.
This weeks prompt for Bookish Friday, hosted by Lauren and Georgi, is “Animal Sidekicks”. My initial thoughts were that the Famous Five was the last book I read with an animal sidekick, then I realised all those Dragons of Pern books would count too. I’m probably going to stretch the prompt so much that it will be in danger of snapping – would Rincewind’s Luggage, from The Colour of Magic, count? Maybe not but Lady Sybil’s swamp dragon’s would.
Hedwig, Harry Potter by JK Rowling
This is probably the closest choice, and most widely known choice, that will appear in my list. I loved reading the Harry Potter books and was so sad at Hedwig’s ultimate fate.
Novo and Boz, Cats of War by Carol Van Natta
Novo and Boz are genetically modified cats who help Kedron (H) and Ferra (h) in their bid to prevent a sinister plot coming to fruition. The fact that Kedron and Ferra fall in love along the way was an added bonus to this great little sci-fi novella.
Ruthless Sinner releases today, so there will be a review on my blog tomorrow. The heroine, Spirit, is an exotic dancer who manages to upset Coop, the local organised crime’s chemist. Tiger’s love of hard wood floors and 2000 thread cotton sheets helps smooth things over and seal the deal between this quirky pair.
At the start of Rogue Wave, Milo is the only ‘person’ that Cutter really has any time for. Except Milo is his dog and in this story he really is this man’s best friend. Brave, loyal, fierce, demanding and fond of treats, though whether that describes the man or dog I’ll leave for you to decide!
Nibbles befriends our heroine, Avalon, whilst she ventures to complete a perilous task whilst in a foreign land. He is a mousebot and proves to be both a faithful friend and a useful ally in troubled times. Condemned is one of the few reverse harem romances where the male characters have all had their own personality. It’s a Cari Silverwood book so you are automatically assured of great world building and a genuine sci-fi feel to the story.
If a mousebot pushed things this takes things beyond all reckoning. Nora is the heroine and this is one hot and steamy pet play book. It won’t be for every reader – I didn’t think it would be for me either, but boy oh boy Ms Stone wrote one scorching hot, erotic romance with this one.
These books are really unusual for mafia romances but also very intriguing and captivating.
So far I’ve read read Jorge’s book (Twisted, #5) and then this. Whilst the characters, and timeline, overlap slightly I’ve not found it difficult to pick up the story and read it as a stand alone. The stories are cleverly written to avoid (too many) spoilers for other books. It barely took any time to be drawn into Songbird and I soon find myself totally engaged by both the unpredictable plot and the fantastic characters.
Whilst there are some very dark events in the book they never feel too gruesome, with either much of the detail skimmed over or the specifics given in retrospect. This always felt like a mafia story, but one that very much breaks the mould, giving the genre a whole new perspective and feel. And definitely in a good way. It definitely has moments of a ‘British’ feel to it, but not overly so, at least to my mind. Though as a Brit I’m not sure if I’m the best judge of that or not.
I adore how the inner thoughts of the main characters often had an air of narration about them. Not only did it lend a wonderful humour to the story but made both Arturo and Solitaire into very engaging, likeable and warm characters. The plot ducks, dives and weaves it’s way along whilst providing ample opportunity for Arturo and Solitaire to fall for each other, along with plenty of reasons for us, the reader, to fall for them too.
This author just writes in a way that speaks to my heart and soul and I very much recommend this book to all romance readers.
“You’re the big boss.” She looked up at me and smiled. She was dressed in a cheap cotton shirt and jeans that should be on the burn pile, but that smile was pure gold. This girl had guts. “I told José he was a fool to try and cheat you,” she said. “I wasn’t part of it, and I don’t work for you. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” She’d heard about our policy protecting bystanders. Of course it doesn’t apply to anyone whose eyewitness testimony can put me in a courtroom. Well, try to put me in a courtroom. In Mexico nobody would dare accuse me, and I’ve enough resources in England to guarantee a police investigation would come to nothing, but it’s not my style to take chances. Solitaire would be going into the ground along with Escamilla. “Mr Vazquez,” Solitaire gave me her best smile. “I don’t expect something for nothing.” She dropped her voice. “You’d like me,” she whispered. “I’ve heard about you. We’re the same.” “Are we?” “Yes, I can make you very happy.” She brushed my hand over her cheek and then kissed my palm. “I’m a very good girl,” she said quietly. “Unless you prefer a naughty one?” She sucked my thumb, and I was instantly rock hard.
When cartel boss Arturo Vazquez discovers his girlfriend Gina is a DEA rat and his deputy Escamilla is staging a take-over, Arturo fixes his problems by killing everyone – except for Solitaire, Escamilla’s unwilling mistress. Solitaire is intelligent, tough, and shares Arturo’s interest in BDSM. Arturo falls head over heels but someone is leaking information – and the evidence point at Solitaire.
Songbird is a complete and self standing novel in the Zeta series. Warning: This bad boy dark romance contains explicit scenes of dubious consent, graphic violence and strong language. It is for adults only.
Twisted is just the perfect title for this tale of lies, betrayal and deceit.
Whilst this is a long book, well over 7 hours of read time, not once did I get bored, feel like the story was dragging or consider any of it to be filler. AJ Adams has written a captivating, complex and convoluted tale that simply held my attention from start to finish. Its length meant there were times I HAD to put this down, at some points sleep and work just got in the way. But I didn’t WANT to stop reading. I was desperate to see what would happen to Jorge and Persia next.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I could very easily see this story being turned into a film. It has action, peril, sinister plots, lies and secrets, blackmail and the prerequisite romance all packed into it’s pages.
Talking of Jorge and Persia – wow what a couple! An in-charge, alpha hero with humility and a hard as nails heroine whose strength had been forged in the fires of hell. If you don’t fall in love with this couple then you have no soul!
If you’re not familiar with AJ Adams’ work then you need to know that she doesn’t just write a romance, she writes a story. And not just any old story but one that takes you on a non-stop, fast-paced journey that twists, turns and weaves into something huge and amazing. The writing is also excellent, her prose is so easy to read, the plot is easy to follow and their is a subtle warmth, at times almost humour, in the dialogue and thoughts of the characters.
This is a book I’m happy to recommend to a whole slew of readers. It’s got plenty of organised crime detail for the mafia lovers, it’s got a great romance for the contemporary lovers, it’s got masses of action for those who love a good adventure and it’s a fantastic book for those that just want something of quality.
Persia York has the face of an angel and a reputation that’s pure gutter but she will do anything for her family. Forced into debt-slavery to save her brother, things aren’t what they seem. No matter how hard she works, Persia can’t free herself. Worse, she publicly disses Jorge Santos, the leader of the Zeta cartel, and is catapulted into a turf war. Abducted and a helpless captive of the deadly drug lord, Persia decides she’s had enough. It’s time to fight back.
Dangerous, devious Jorge Santos doesn’t take shit from anyone. When a meeting with a rival turns ugly, Jorge goes to war. Determined on destruction, his first step is to abduct his enemy’s most prized possession, the beautiful but mouthy Persia York. But Jorge soon learns his victim is not as easy to break as he thought and to his shock, he falls for his adversary’s woman. As the war heats up, the cartel boss is forced to make decisions that may cost him his life – and his love.
A ruthless man on a quest to win no matter what it takes. A woman intent on holding her own, even if it destroys her.
Twisted is a compelling tale of vengeance, murder, cartel violence and finding love in the darkest of times.
Warning: This bad boy dark romance contains explicit scenes of dubious consent and graphic violence.