"Dark Alpha's Claim" Pays Homage To A Darker Kind Of Romance

25944712 Title:  Dark Alpha's Claim
(Reapers #1)
Author:  Donna Grant
Format:  eARC
Length:  166 pages
Publisher:  St Martin's Press
Rating:  4 Stars

Dark Alpha's Claim is the first in an exclusive new series from New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant!

There is no escaping a Reaper. I am an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I am coming for you...

My whole existence is based on taking what Death wants. Born to eliminate Fae guilty of unforgivable crimes, my reckless, wild nature makes me the perfect assassin to carry out Death's bidding. I've seen more sinister and violent dealings than anyone could ever imagine. But it was the sight of her face that stopped me cold. I've never wanted a woman-never mind a human-so badly; never felt my heart, hardened by death, burn brighter and hotter until it burst into flames. She is everything I desire. The kind of woman that compels you to stake your claim on her, to let the world know that she's yours. A Reaper saving her life will only attract danger, but I vow to protect her at all costs from the Fae that hunt her, and keep safe the woman who has claimed me, body and soul.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
The Reapers are a hard group to place within the strata of the Dark universe. Said difficulty of placement being due mostly to their dwelling on the periphery of things, when it comes to interaction. They are the Black Ops of the supe world. As such they are often spoken of by others, definitely feared, but never invited to dinner.

Enter Jordyn.

This lady puts the lead in leading lady in a big way. For better or worse, her need to know who and what she is, puts her on a path filled with obstacles that she proves ready to overcome at every turn.
She accepts the knowledge of the existence of supes with just the right amount of fear to balance her curiosity.
She is never one to back away from a fight.

Leading man, Baylon, seems out of his depth when it comes to his feelings for Jordyn, and what to do about them.
Although, in his defense, he is entitled to be a just a tad cautious given the war with the Dark Fae, and that falling in love marks him for death by his boss.

Who just happens to be...


This is a very quick and fun read. Given the fact that the series is new, there is still a lot of room for the world building that has to begin anew. Because of the setting apart of the Reapers from previously introduced character groups.

The sex, while sensual, is much less of a central focus this time. Being very skillfully supplanted by physicality of the battling sort.
But given the almost innate chemistry that the romantic leads share in this case. The magnetic pull that they share is a very corporeal thing, nonetheless.

This is a great start to a very promising series. Can't wait for book two.

I was provided with a copy of the literary work referenced above. All opinions expressed there in are mine, and have not been influenced in any way by St. Martin's Press or those acting on their behalf.

About Donna
Donna Grant Donna Grant is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels and novellas spanning multiple genres of romance.

She was born and raised in Texas but loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her throughout the United States as well as to Jamaica, Mexico, and Scotland. Growing up on the Texas/Louisiana border, Donna’s Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding.

Her childhood dream was to become a professional ballet dancer and study under the amazing Mikhail Baryshnikov. Though she never got to meet Baryshnikov, she did make it to New York City and performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Later, Donna’s love of the romance genre and the constant stories running through her head prompted her to sit down and write her first book. Once that book was completed, there was no turning back.

Donna sold her first book in November 2005 while displaced from Hurricane Rita, a storm that destroyed portions of the Texas Gulf Coast. Since then, Donna has sold novels and novellas to both electronic and print publishers. Her books include several complete series such as Druids Glen, The Shields, Royal Chronicles, Sisters of Magic, Dark Sword, Dark Warriors, and her new series, Dark Kings.

Despite the deadlines and her voracious reading, Donna still manages to keep up with her two young children, four cats, three fish, and one long haired Chihuahua. She’s blessed with a proud, supportive husband who loves to read and travel as much as she does.
You can contact Donna any time.

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Grand Central Publishing Presents: How I Married A Marquess + Giveaway

Josephine Carlisle, adopted daughter of a baron, is officially on the shelf. But the silly, marriage-minded misses in the ton can have their frilly dresses and their seasons in London, for all she cares. Josie has her freedom and her family . . . until an encounter with a dark, devilishly handsome stranger leaves her utterly breathless at a house party. His wicked charm intrigues her, but that's where it ends. For Josie has a little secret . . .

Espionage was Thomas Matteson, Marquess of Chesney's game-until a tragic accident cost him his career. Now to salvage his reputation and return to the life he loves, the marquess must find the criminal who's been robbing London's rich and powerful. He's no fool-he knows Josie, with her wild chestnut hair and rapier-sharp wit, is hiding something and he won't rest until he unravels her mysteries, one by one. But he never expected to be the one under arrest-body and soul . . . 

With determination, she snatched a glass of punch from a passing footman and weaved her way across the room, unable to tamp down her growing curiosity about him and the inexplicable yearning to meet him. Would those midnight blue eyes be just as intriguing up close? Would that mouth would be just as sensuous?
    Sighing at her own foolishness, she slipped through the crowd like a moth drawn toward a flame. She should have been watching over her brothers. At the very least, she should have been watching for Miranda Hodgkins. Instead, she was stalking a handsome stranger, lifting her glass ever so slightly as she glided toward him, bumping her arm against his—
    And spilled punch across his jacket sleeve.
    “Oh, I’m so sorry!” She gasped as his hand immediately took her elbow to steady her…or to keep her from spilling the rest of the punch, she wasn’t certain which. But when she glanced up at those sapphire eyes and a warmth stirred low in her belly, she didn’t care.
    Oh yes. Those eyes were just as intriguing up close.
    With a shake, she collected herself. “How awful of me!” she exclaimed and brushed her fingertips at the few droplets of punch still clinging to his sleeve.
The two Sinclair ladies excused themselves with a touch of embarrassment for her, which Josie didn’t give one whit about. Especially when the corners of his mouth curled sensuously at her in amusement.
    “No harm, I assure you.” His voice came as a deep purr.
    She cleared her throat at the responding shiver that scattered through her like warm rain. “I’m so terribly clumsy.” She continued to brush at his sleeve long after the punch had been cleared away, inexplicably unable to stop herself from touching him. “Everyone’s always saying, ‘Josephine Carlisle, how absolutely clumsy you are!’”
    She thought she saw knowing laughter sparkle in his eyes before he sketched her a shallow bow. “Miss Carlisle, something tells me you’re not truly as clumsy as you protest.”
    His words were just cryptic enough to give her pause and make her wonder again who this man was and why he was at the earl’s party when men of his caliber never came to Blackwood Hall. But at least they were now engaged in conversation, and she had managed to accomplish the meeting—albeit by the most wretched self-introduction in history—without having to seek out someone to do the honors for her. And she didn’t feel the least bit guilty at her subterfuge. Just hearing that voice had been worth it, no matter how briefly the meeting might last.
    Deep in her heart, she wished it would last a good long while.
    She smiled apologetically. “I do hope I haven’t ruined your jacket.”
    “It’s fine.” His eyes swept deliberately over her as he murmured, “Very fine.”
    Her heart skittered. Good Lord, was he flirting? With her? Despite her uncertainty, she blushed like a debutante at her first ball. Goodness.
    “You’re not dancing.”
    “Pardon?” she breathed, her foolish heart daring to hope that he might be asking…But no. His words were only an observation, not a request, and her stomach plummeted with disappointment.
    Of course, he wasn’t asking her to dance. Why on earth would he make such a request of the clumsy woman who’d just doused him with punch? As if this man ever had to request a dance in the first place. Most likely, the London ladies would have all sought out his dance card if men possessed such things. And then her pride sank even lower as she realized she’d done exactly that herself by approaching him in such a pathetic ruse.
    He nodded past her toward the dance floor where couples twirled in the roiling knots of a quadrille. “You’re not dancing,” he repeated.
    “I’m saving my toes for the waltzes,” she offered, curious to see how he would respond to that.
    “Ah, toe preservation,” he replied with mock gravity, his eyes gleaming. “A noble cause.”
    She smiled, strangely satisfied at his answer. Truly, she would have been incredibly disappointed had his response been anything less entertaining. “Indeed, sir, but perhaps I’m biased since I have a personal interest in the matter.” She gave a small laugh. “Ten, to be exact.”
    When he followed the dart of her eyes to her slippers, which she wiggled beneath the hem of her gown, he slid her a charming grin that trickled its way down her spine with a languid warmth. The laughter caught in her throat.
    Entertaining? Well, that was the understatement of the year. This man was utterly captivating. And for one shameless moment, bewildered at how he could draw such an inexplicable reaction from her so immediately, she wanted very much to become his captive.
    “And you?” She cleared her suddenly tight throat and hoped her voice sounded much steadier than she felt. “Why are you not dancing?”
    “I prefer the side of the room.” Then he leaned in slightly as he admitted in a low voice, a faint smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, “So much easier that way for beautiful ladies to purposefully spill punch on my sleeve to gain my attention.”
    Her mouth fell open, and she gaped at him. Speechless. Both at his audacity at calling her out for her ruse and for claiming she was beautiful. And at her reckless desire to hear him say it again.
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My Thoughts
How I Married A Marquess offers Historical Romance fans so much more than the "marriage market" scheming and seductions, beddings, and weddings that are hallmarks of its genre.  
Here, readers are presented in the character of  Miss Josephine Carlisle, a woman who, by no fault of her own has been excluded from the one thing that her beauty, intelligence, grace, charm, and societal position as the daughter of a Baron, should have guaranteed her.
A marriage to a peer of the realm.
Her crime?
Having been born an orphan.

This book allows readers to take a very close look at what life for an adopted female child of the ton may have been.
We are there to bear witness to Josephine's realizations of what the questions surrounding her true parentage and bloodline come to mean in a world where one's entire life as based on just that.
What we come to know about young Miss Carlisle, is that though her blood may not run blue, her heart is pure gold.
As time and time again she proves that she is willing to risk life and limb in the effort to make life better for those that she holds dear.

Enter Thomas Matteson, Marquess of Chesney...

A man besieged by the demons of of his past.  But determined to do whatever it takes to put the past behind him and get back to the work he loves.
The work of a spy.
In order to do that however, he must first solve the mystery of highwaymen that have been plaguing the countryside surrounding that estate of his longtime friend, the Earl Royston.

Little does he ever suspect that his covert endeavors will put him face to face with a puzzle that he will want to solve more than any other.
Miss Josephine Carlisle.
With flashing eyes, a biting wit, and a beauty to rival Aphrodite.  It is clear from the start that this privileged Miss is no pampered ballroom beauty.  Although who and what she is, and the secrets that hide behind her smiles speak of a pain that seems to twin that of our dashing Mr.
Drawn to Josie in a way that he can neither understand, nor resist.  Thomas soon comes to find that the secrets that his lady love holds, are a lot closer to the more sinister ones of his friend than he ever could have imagined.
Secrets that, if not solved in time could mean tragedy for all.
This third installment of the Secret Life Of Scoundrels series, offers readers a fully fleshed story.
A story, as was stated earlier, that is very far removed from the ballrooms and bedrooms business that usually wins the day in Regency reads.
In this story we find mystery, intrigue, social commentary, fiery passion, as well as the romance that we expect.
What we do not expect however, is the power reversal that goes on between leading lady, Josie, and leading man, Thomas.
A long time sufferer of PTSD, Thomas's frailty makes him a character that readers can bond with and feel for from the beginning.   The fact that his leading lady acts as a silent but sympathetic balm to his pain, allows for the great strength, intelligence, and fortitude that she shows as the read progresses.

In fact, it is that self same strength, intelligence, and fortitude, that makes Josie as a character, and the book so readable.
Whether taking the bull by the horns in the bedroom, or in life; you know that whatever Josie does is going to be done with a flare and thoroughness that only she can achieve.

Thomas, on the other hand, presents readers with the trail that must be followed.  He acts as a guide to mystery, adventure, romance, passion, and a happily ever after that readers will never forget.

Reviewer's Note:  How I Married A Marquess is the third volume of an interrelated companion series. Though it is suggested that the series be read in its intended order, it is not necessary to do so.

Reviewer's Note:  The review found here has not been influenced in any way by Grand Central Publishing or its agents. The opinions expressed herein are those of the reviewer alone.


Anna HarringtonAnna is an English professor in Chattanooga, Tennessee and a lover of all things chocolate and coffee. She's a member of RWA and when she's not hard at work writing her next book or planning her next series, she's watching BBC and piloting her own aircrafts. 

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See Why "You Can't Always Get The Marquess You Want" Has All The Romance You'll Ever Need

Title:  You Can't Always Get The Marquess You Want
Series:  (Masters Of Seduction #2)
Author:  Alexandria Hawkins
Format:  eARC
Length:  352 pages
Publisher:  St Martin's Paperbacks
Rating:  5 Stars

They call him Chance, though in truth the Marquess of Fairlamb feels bitterly cursed: A long-ago family feud is still standing in the way of his heart’s desire. Lady Tempest is the daughter of his father’s sworn enemy, the Marquess of Norgrave. She is beautiful, innocent, and utterly untouchable. But some seductions are just too good to resist…

Turns out Tempest is a woman of her own mind—and a true romantic who will overcome every obstacle to be with the man of her dreams. But the odds are against handsome, wickedly charming Chance if he intends to win Tempest as his bride. Will he choose loyalty to his family—or risk everything he has for the woman he yearns for? -Goodreads

My Thoughts
This case of "the daughter of my enemy is my enemy."  At least that is, until I fall in love with her.  Is the best example of a Hatfield vs. McCoy style feud brought to the English ton, that this reviewer has had the pleasure of reading in some time.

Though the lion's share of the grudge lies with the elders of both the Fairlamb and Brant bloodlines.  It becomes very obvious, almost from page one, that the elder sons of both factions have absolutely no interest in burying the hatchet.  Unless, of course, the burial of said weapon was to take place deep within the skull of one of the two parties.
The acrimony between these two men is to such an extreme that they are prone to engage in fisticuffs 
at the slightest provocation, and walk around for much of the read sporting the bruises as proof. 

It appears however, that said rancor is not as great an issue for the females of at least one side of this war.  The Brant girls, though aware of both the feud, and the Fairlambs, have been most thoroughly cosseted against any of the finer details regarding its combatants.  Meaning that they know nothing except that they are to avoid the dastardly Fairlamb clan at all costs.  Chance or Mathias Fairlamb, in particular.
A task that wouldn't be difficult at all for any of the Brant girls if...they knew what he looked like.

So, when a chance (no pun intended) meeting between Chance Fairlamb and Tempest Brant results in a kindling of the Brant male ire, and the interest for one in the other between Tempest and Chance.
Things get very interesting, to say the least.

This is a story that is both irritating and entertaining in equal measure. Seeing Chance and Tempest flout both convention and the edicts issued by their parents in their efforts to be together is both exciting and fun.  The fact that both the reader and the younger players in this drama spend about 95% of this read in the midst of a battle with no clear cause...down right exasperating!
In defense of the grand plot twist however, kudos must be given to the grand reveal of this long held secret and all the drama that ensues in its wake.

This is a wonderful romance for those who enjoy stories filled with secret trysts and forbidden love.

Reviewer's Note:  This is the second novel of a companion aeries that can be read in any order

 *Reviewer's Note:  I was provided with copies  of the above referenced literary works for the express purpose of review.  All opinions expressed therein are mine, and have been in no way influenced by St. Martin's Press or those acting on their behalf.

About Alexandria
Alexandra Hawkins 
Alexandra Hawkins is an unrepentant Anglophile who discovered romance novels as a teenager and knew that one day she would be writing her own. In "The Lords of Vice" series, she has combined her love of English history, mythology, and romance to create sensual character-driven stories that, she hopes, will touch readers' hearts.

You can also find me at:

Fan page: www.facebook.com/lordsofvice

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Will Readers Dare To Solve The Mystery of "Mr And Mr Smith"?

27876307Title:  Mr. And Mr. Smith
Author:  HelenKay Dimon
Format:  eARC
Length: 210 pages
Expected Date Of Publication: May 24, 2016
 Publisher: Loveswpt 
Rating:  2 Stars

Secrets and seduction make for an explosive combination in HelenKay Dimon’s edgy, thrilling new series, which kicks off with a novel about two men who can handle any threat—except the one posed by desire.
Fisher Braun knows how to keep a secret. As a covert paramilitary operative, his job—and his life—depends on it. He’s at the top of his game, ready for action and always in control. No enemy has ever brought him to his knees, but one lover has: Zachary Allen, the man currently sharing his bed. The perfect package of brains and brawn, Zach is someone worth coming home to, and Fisher hates keeping him in the dark about what he does. But the lies keep Zach safe. Until the day Fisher loses everything. . . .

Zachary Allen is no innocent civilian. Although he plays the tech geek, in reality he’s deep undercover for the CIA. In a horrible twist of fate, the criminal enterprise he’s infiltrated has set its sights on the man whose touch drives him wild. Zach would do anything for Fisher—except blow his own cover. Now, in order to save him, Zach must betray him first. And he needs Fisher to trust him with all his heart if they want to make it out alive.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
When Fisher Braun returns home after a mission to discover his home burgled, and his boyfriend taken; he is devastated!
Apparently not as devastated as when he finds out that boyfriend that he has been lying to, has been lying to him as well.

Just what is it that these two lovebirds have been lying about...you ask?
Try everything!
So imagine Fisher's surprise when he is taken.  Only to find himself being tortured at the hands of the man he loves.

Yes, it seems that Zachary Allen has more than a few secrets.  The biggest of which being that he was sent by the CIA as a double agent to get close to Fisher.  Fisher, the self same Fisher Braun, working undercover for the British division of the same CIA!  The thing is...they never specified just how close.
Now these two lovers must find away to get past the personal betrayal, and get down to the very impersonal business of making their case against an international crime syndicate, a mission accomplished.

This story starts out very strong.  The opening action, the suspense, and the utter shock of it all is enough to hook the reader without fail.  Unfortunately, the story starts to fall apart soon after its wonderful start.

The story killer?
None other than Fisher himself.
Or Fisher's feelings, to be more precise!

It appears that it is fine for Fisher to lie about his life and his job.  But the fact that his lover is guilty of the same crime, for the same reason...is utterly unacceptable!
This poor book goes on for pages with Fisher not being able to get over the fact that Zachery lied to him.
Yes, he also risked his own life to save yours!
But...He lied!
Yes, you told the exact same lies.
But...He lied!
Yes, either of you could be killed at any moment.
But...He lied!
Let's have lots of hot sex
Even though...He lied!
Whine, whine, and whine some more!  With breaks for hot sex!

It seems that this story is trying to be one of those romances where there is just enough action, suspense, or whatever the subplot happens to be to justify the romance as a focus.
Sadly, there is nowhere near the amount of story or character development necessary for that to happen here.
Equally as disappointing, is the rushed ending.
Great sex does not a great story make!  

 About HelenKay
HelenKay Dimon spent the last twelve years in the most unromantic career ever - divorce lawyer. After dedicating all that time and effort to helping people terminate relationships she is thrilled to write romance novels full time. Her books have earned praise, appeared on besteller lists and won numerous awards. Her first single title, YOUR MOUTH DRIVES ME CRAZY, was featured in Cosmo as a "Red-Hot Read" for August '07 and spotlighted at E! Online. Her novella, "It's Hotter At Christmas" from the KISSING SANTA CLAUS anthology, was featured in Cosmo as a "Red-Hot Read" for November '09. 
 Find Her:  Twitter / Web / Goodreads / Facebook

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Find The Truth Of Feel Good Romance In "Sweet Little Lies"

27161224 Title: Sweet Little Lies
Series: (Heartbreaker Bay #1)
Author:  Jill Shalvis
Expected Date Of Publication:  June 28, 2016
Publisher:  Avon Books
Rating:  4 Stars

Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .

As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.

Fall for him—hard . . .

Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.

And then tell him the truth.

Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
This is a book for those of us who dare to believe in wishes, fate, and the promise that for every hurt there is a balm.
Pru and Finn's story is one built on all of those things. Along with sex so hot that the book should have age restrictions and come wrapped in brown paper. A colorful supporting cast that leave readers wanting to know each of their stories. Scenery to die for, and drama, drama, drama!

There is so much to see, do and feel, that one has a tendency to ignore the lightening speed at which things between the stalwart bar owner, and his lovely boat captain take place. All you know, or seem to care about is that these two are great tastes, that taste great together.
Add in the purely altruistic motives that lead to all of the sexy, fun, panty-melting, and just plain 'oh my god...this is so sweet' moments to be had within this read!
You will be sold! On the book, on the characters, on all of it!

The only thing that keeps this book just shy of five stars, is the speed with which one comes to solving the equation that makes up this book's formula. You almost have to make yourself forget that you see it in order to see the book through to its conclusion. A conclusion that leaves your emotional investment, (which by this time is at an all time high)
screaming to know how things end.

The ends do justify the rather round about means, in this case however.
There is plot redemption to be had here in a big way.
Especially for those of you who like your 'happily...' complete with a bit of grand gesturing and a sneak peek at book two!
This is a brilliant start to a wonderful new series!

The review above has been given by me in exchange for an advanced reader's copy of the afore referenced work. Copy provided by Avon Books through Edelweiss.

About Jill
Jill Shalvis 
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras with her family and far too many assorted quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental.

Look for Jill's latest, ONE IN A MILLION, on shelves and e-readers now, and get all her bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold.

Visit Jill's website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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Sourcebooks Fire Presents: My Kind Of Crazy Book Blast + Giveaway

Title: My Kind of Crazy
Author: Robin Reul
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Buy Links:
Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/YbTUX
BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/YbTYN
Indiebound- http://ow.ly/YbU6g

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

Excerpt for My Kind of Crazy:

So here’s the thing. It’s not like I woke up this morning and said, “Hey, I think I’ll light the 100-year-old Eastern Red Cedar tree in front of Amanda Carlisle’s house on fire today.” Because I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, my mind doesn’t go straight to arson. Honestly, the first thing I focus on is how fast I can get from my room to the bathroom without my dad’s girlfriend, Monica, trying to chat me up while I’m awkwardly standing there in my boxers.
            I’d read online that how you ask a girl to Prom can completely make or break a guy’s chances. I wanted to do something special that Amanda would never forget. Apparently it worked, just not the way I intended. ‘Use sparklers to spell out PROM’ the article on the Internet said. There was even a picture with them all lit up on the ground. Totally idiot proof.
I snuck into her yard like a ninja under the cover of darkness and tried to jam the sparklers in her lawn, but the soil was hard and unyielding. I looked around, desperate, and then I spied a nice soft patch of mulch underneath the cedar tree near the side of her yard. It was perfect, and the sparkler slid in easily. A few minutes later, I had them all lined up just like I’d seen in the picture, and once they were lit, yelled, “Amanda!” I actually had to call out twice because she didn’t hear me the first time. Then she came to the window and gazed down as the sparklers fizzled down to the ground and--boom!
Turns out that was fresh pine mulch underneath that cedar. Pine trees produce turpentine, so I might as well have lit those sparklers in a pool of gasoline for how quickly the mulch caught fire.
I didn’t know what to do, so I ran. Which is why I’m now hiding behind a bush across the street in her neighbor’s yard. This is definitely going down in history as the most epic promposal fail ever. And then, as if things couldn’t get more catastrophic, they do.
Baseball is practically a religion where I live in South Coast Massachusetts. People take their Red Sox pretty seriously, and the die-hards decorate their trees with red and blue streamers every season in a show of support. The Carlisles are no exception. And it doesn’t take long for the flames to catch and race the length of those ribbons into the dry branches above.
From where I’m crouched down, I have a perfect view of the Carlisle house. I can see Amanda’s eyes widen and her jaw drop open as she observes the quickly escalating situation in her yard. She pulls away from the window, I’m guessing to call the fire department. We should probably talk about Prom some other time.
            With things clearly going south, I do what any sensible person would do: I get the hell out of there. Of course, a sensible person wouldn’t have put sparklers in a pile of fresh mulch directly under a highly flammable tree. Hindsight is 20/20.
So in the most casual way possible, I hook my backpack - which is loaded with empty sparkler boxes - over my shoulders, hop on my bike, and pedal away from the scene at what I hope passes for a normal speed. Cool as a cucumber, that’s me.
I reason for a brief moment that, perhaps, Amanda didn’t actually see me there. Even if she did, she doesn’t know me all that well so she might not recognize me. I am wearing black jeans, and my Batman hoodie conceals my medium-length, stick straight brown hair, so I am sort of camouflaged. Not to mention, those flames were pretty distracting.
The fire station is about five streets away, near the library. I start to worry that the firemen won’t get there fast enough and Amanda’s whole house might burn down. I know I’m a lame-ass chicken shit for hightailing it out of there, but the last thing I need is Dad on my case for something else. As far as he’s concerned, I can’t do much right. I would like to say he’s just being an asshole, but lately I’ve been wondering if he’s onto something.
            I consider turning around and heading back to Amanda’s, which would be the right thing to do, but I swear I’m about to piss myself with fear so I pedal faster, listening for the sounds of approaching police sirens. For good measure, I jerk my bike off the main road, cutting through the back alleys toward home.

Praise for My Kind of Crazy

“I had so much fun reading this book that it made want to accidentally set things on fire. Great characters you instantly care for, and a lot of heart.” -- Adi Alsaid, author of Never Always Sometimes and Let’s Get Lost
“MY KIND OF CRAZY is for everyone who felt they never fit in and weren't sure that they wanted to.” --Eileen Cook, author of Remember and What Would Emma Do?
“Hank Kirby will steal your heart, Peyton Breedlove will set it on fire, and then together they’ll mend the pieces.” --Shaun Hutchinson, author of FML and Violent Ends
“MY KIND OF CRAZY is my kind of read, and Reul, the best kind of writer.” --Gae Polisner, author of The Summer of Letting Go and The Pull of Gravity
“Funny, authentic, and, at turns, heartbreaking.” -- Jessi Kirby, author of Things We Know By Heart
“A sensitive look at two teens with complicated histories learning to build a future together.” Kirkus

About the Author:
Robin ReulRobin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. And unlike Hank, she does not know how to ride a bike. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. My Kind Of Crazy is her first novel. Find her at robinreul.com

Social Media Links:
My Kind of Crazy Landing Page: http://books.sourcebooks.com/my-kind-of-crazy/
Twitter: @Robinreul
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobinReulAuthorPage
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Warm And Cozy Romance Tangles Reader Heart Strings In "Knit Tight"

25937705 Title:  Knit Tight
(Portland Heat #4)
Author:  Annabeth Albert
Format:  eARC
Length:  112 pages
Publisher: Lyrical/Shine
Rating:  5 Stars

It’s no secret that Portland, Oregon, has some of best restaurants, shops, and caf├ęs in the country. But it’s the hard-working men who serve it all up that keep us coming back for more...

One of Portland’s hottest young baristas, Brady is famous for his java-topping flair, turning a regular cup of joe into a work of art. Every Wednesday—aka “Knit Night”—hordes of women and their needles descend on the coffeehouse, and Brady’s feeling the heat. Into the fray walks a tall, dark, and distractingly handsome stranger from New York. His name is Evren, and he’s the sexy nephew of Brady’s sweetest customer, the owner of the yarn shop down the street. He’s also got a killer smile, confident air, and masculine charm that’s tying Brady’s stomach in knots. The smitten barista can’t wait to see him at the next week’s gathering. But when he tries to ask Evren out, his plans unravel faster than an unfinished edge. If Brady hopes to warm up more than Evren’s coffee, he’ll have to find a way to untangle their feelings, get out of the friend zone, and form a close-knit bond that’s bound to last a lifetime…  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
The tale told in Knit Tight is one that heads right for the heart.  But this beeline straight to readers' emotional centers, has almost nothing to do with what is going on between the two leading men.
As it turns out, the part of the story that consistently keeps tender feelings in its vice-like grip, is all of the family drama that swirls around Brady and Evren. 

Brady, the 20-something, up and coming barista extraordinaire, is blessed with the looks of an angel,  a boy next door charm, and artistic skills involving coffee and foam that would make Michelangelo stand up and cheer. 
This should be the best and most free-living time of Brady's life.  But the tragic loss of his mother and step-father in an auto accident, has lead to his having to become guardian to his younger siblings.
Making him and his heart a package deal, and changing the way that he approaches relationships forever.

Leading man Evren, appears to have everything together.  A knit wear designer from New York; Evren is the walking embodiment of Brady's dream lover.  But the man of Brady's dreams is stuck in a personal nightmare. 
The agony of watching his beloved aunt, and sponsor of the coffee house's Knit Night, fight a losing battle with cancer.  

Authoress, Annabeth Albert, is known for shining a very glaring spotlight on very real issues within the course of her romances.  Thankfully, Knit Tight is far from the exception to this formula for dramatic gold.  If anything, Annabeth has seemingly pulled out all the stops, with poignant scenarios hitting the reader from every side.
As if outside stressors of family and fear are not enough; Evren's insecurities about Brady's bisexuality, coupled with his personal quirks and idiosyncrasies threaten to destroy them from within.

This is a book that some may find difficult to read.  Due to Evren's negative view of bisexuality.  
While it is true that this issue does prove quite a sticking point for our leading men, watching the growth and compromise that they both engage in for the sake of the relationship that they prize...makes the read.
This is a book that is based in life.  Life that is flawed, imperfect, ugly, painful, beautiful and meaningful.

Reviewer's Note:  Knit Tight is the 4th installment in the Portland Heat companion series.  This is a series that may be read in any order.  Or in the order in which it is intended 

*Reviewer's Note:  I was provided with copies  of the above referenced literary works for the express purpose of review.  All opinions expressed therein are mine, and have been in no way influenced by Lyrical/Shine or those acting on their behalf.


About Annabeth:
Annabeth AlbertFrequent tweeter, professional grammar nerd, and obsessive reader, Annabeth Albert is also a Pacific Northwest romance writer in a variety of subgenres. 
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

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The Understated Honesty of "Good Girl" Translates Into Damn Good Reading

28185836Title:  Good Girl
Series:  (Love Unexpectedly #2
Author:  Lauren Layne
Format:  eARC
Length:  220 pages
Expected Date of Publication April 17, 2016
Publisher:  Loveswept
Rating:  5 Stars

Lauren Layne brings all the unpredictable heat of her USA Today bestseller Blurred Lines to an all-new cast of characters! Country music’s favorite good girl is hiding away from the world—only to find herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.

Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.

Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
Slut, brat, home wrecker, and diva are all words that have been used to describe Jenny Dawson.
Just as playboy, trust-fund baby, and lazy have all stood in as descriptors for Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott.

Good Girl is the story of how, when a twist of fate and a couple of not so little 'while lies' find these two living together amid the ramshackle splendor and tranquility of a dilapidated mansion owned by Preston's father.  They begin to step out of the shells of who they have been made to be, and come to terms with the wounded, tender-hearted, love starved, and very normal people that they really are.

While leading man, Noah, is sure to garner major points on the "brooding, loner, distant lover with great hands and a hot body" scale.
The "down home" sweetness and very "Taylor Swift-esque" vibe to Jenny's story, make her character one that readers are able to take to heart almost without thinking about it.

There is no questioning the injustice of what she has suffered at the hands of the "spin doctors" of the great Hollywood publicity machine, the vicious gossip mongers of the tabloid press, and public opinion as per social media. 
So when Jenny's effort at finding heaven and herself, in the wilds of Louisiana, lead her into the path of the sinfully sexy Noah...

Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott is relatively new to all the pomp and circumstance that  his four names, and the legacy of power, wealth, and privilege that they signify has come to mean for his life.  The second son that his magnate father neither wanted nor acknowledged.  It was only the tragic death of Preston's half brother and claimed heir, that led to him being anything other than just Noah.  The real him. The son his mother raised, and the real man that this lost boy has been struggling to rediscover.

Setting plays a big part in the creation and maintenance of this story.  Because it is location that keeps
our two main characters in close proximity to each other, and provides them with their reason to be there.

The fun starts however, when the walls come down, allowing both Jenny and Noah to see that they are far less adversaries, and more kindred spirits than either of the two could have ever thought possible.
Special mention must be made of stellar cast members Ranger and Dolly.  Whose special brand of furry fabulousity, paired with their unequaled talent for charming their way into enemy territory goes along way in uniting our willing but wary lovebirds. 

It is very true that the chemistry between Jenny and her dark night in shining tool belt is very hot.  The secrets, interactions, and emotional investment that developments between these two inspires within the reader, makes the story even hotter.
This is a wonderfully light and engrossing look at what happens when the quiet truths of  love's warm glow outshine the fantasy of fame's spotlight.

*Reviewer's Note:  I was provided with copies  of the above referenced literary works for the express purpose of review.  All opinions expressed therein are mine, and have been in no way influenced by Loveswept or those acting on their behalf.

About Lauren

Lauren LayneLauren lives in New York City with her husband (who was her high school sweetheart--cute, right?!) and plus-sized Pomeranian.
Five years ago, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan.
She writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush, and in her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.
When not bringing The Sexy, she likes to blog about her Instagram addiction, and why mean girls are the worst.


Plots and Secrets Are Enough To Drive Readers Into A Fevered Frenzy While Reading "Smoke And Fire"

Smoke and Fire (Dark Kings, #9)Title:  Smoke and Fire
Series:  (Dark Kings #9)
Author:  Donna Grant
Format:  eARC
Length:  384 pages
Publisher:  St. Martin's Paperbacks
Rating:  5 Stars

-She wanted to touch him. There had always been something about being in his arms that made her feel as if she could tackle anything and the world wouldn't dare get in her way...

A dragon shapeshifter and a computer mastermind, Ryder is sent to guard Glasgow after a devastating Dark attack. But when memories of an explosive affair come back to him-in the flesh-Ryder cannot help but want to protect the woman who haunts his dreams. Even if means shifting into the dragon he was never supposed to reveal...

Kinsey could never get enough of Ryder. His every touch only left her wanting more. But now that she's seen him in his true form, Kinsey's world is rocked to the core. She knows that to stay-and feel-alive, she must be with Ryder. But is Kinsey's passion worth the risk of danger that comes with being a part of Ryder's dark and fierce world?  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
Reading the newest offering from Donna Grant's Dark Kings series, while truly an endeavor of the heart; is one bound to leave readers with many more questions than answers.
The reason for this?
The great number of reveals and revelations peppering this read with their explosive plot twisting goodness.
When you add in the new Reaper element, coupled with the heartrending story of love lost and rediscovered, (as embodied by Ryder and Kinsey) and not one but two...yes two power struggles.
One is never quite sure where to look first plot wise. 

With all of the hidden agendas, betrayals, and revelations going on in everyone's camps, the complete absence of any physical combat on the part of either the Dragon Kings or the Dark Fae barely garners notice.
Especially when one comes to realize that this new and decidedly more cerebral approach to battle, allows the reader a panoramic view of every player's hand.

All of the goings on with Ulrik, The Dark Fae, and both Con and Rhi's personal lives, also have the unexpected effect of overshadowing Kinsey and Ryder's story for the major portion of the book.
Not to worry though.
Ryder and Kinsey may be the tech geeks of Dragaen, but there can be no doubt that their definition of nerdy is definitely HAWT!  

In an effort to remain on the non-spoilery side of things.  This review will not contain the usual narrative insights and armchair play-by-plays that have become a hallmark of the reviews found on my blog.
What I will do is to provide you with a road map of sorts, to the must-see parts of this read.
Ulrik and Mikkel's lopsided power struggle.
Revelations about Con
Rhi, her watcher, and her decisions.
The deal with Henri.
WTF is going on with the Dark Fae?
Is Kinsey who and what she claims?
Reapers and the Dark Fae.
The real questions that this book leads one to ask, are ones best left to the author.

With the entrance of The Reapers into the last two books of the Dark Kings series, and no book 10 in sight.  Are we to infer that answers to the Dragon King dilemma are to be addressed in the new Reaper series?

Here's hoping that the thrill ride that is Dark Kings #9 doesn't mark the end of this bastion of dragony, swoon-worthy, pretzel plotted, sensationally sexy, faefelly fierce reading wonderment!   

Reviewers' Note:  Smoke and Fire is the 9th novel in the Dark Kings series.  Though the majority of the novels published early on in the series may be read in any order.  It is very strongly suggested that novels #6, #7, and #8 be read in their intended order.  As they set the stage for events occurring in book #9.
 *Reviewer's Note:  I was provided with copies  of the above referenced literary works for the express purpose of review.  All opinions expressed therein are mine, and have been in no way influenced by St. Martin's Press or those acting on their behalf.

  About Donna
Donna Grant Donna Grant is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels and novellas spanning multiple genres of romance.

She was born and raised in Texas but loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her throughout the United States as well as to Jamaica, Mexico, and Scotland. Growing up on the Texas/Louisiana border, Donna’s Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding.

Her childhood dream was to become a professional ballet dancer and study under the amazing Mikhail Baryshnikov. Though she never got to meet Baryshnikov, she did make it to New York City and performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Later, Donna’s love of the romance genre and the constant stories running through her head prompted her to sit down and write her first book. Once that book was completed, there was no turning back.

Donna sold her first book in November 2005 while displaced from Hurricane Rita, a storm that destroyed portions of the Texas Gulf Coast. Since then, Donna has sold novels and novellas to both electronic and print publishers. Her books include several complete series such as Druids Glen, The Shields, Royal Chronicles, Sisters of Magic, Dark Sword, Dark Warriors, and her new series, Dark Kings.

Despite the deadlines and her voracious reading, Donna still manages to keep up with her two young children, four cats, three fish, and one long haired Chihuahua. She’s blessed with a proud, supportive husband who loves to read and travel as much as she does.
You can contact Donna any time.

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Love And Family Are Both A Choice The Heart Makes In "Always For You: Jack"

25982502Title:  Always For You:  Jack
Series:  (Joe's Boys #1)
Author: Alexis Morgan
Format:  eARC
Length:   296 pages
Publisher:  Loveswept
Date of Publication:  April 19th, 2016
Rating:  5 Stars

Praised by Susan Mallery as a bestselling author whose “heartfelt, touching stories never disappoint,” Alexis Morgan introduces Sergeant Joe’s Boys: three brothers living up to a legacy of courageous military service—and pursuing the women who have captured their hearts.
No one understands family loyalty like Jack McShane. He’d do anything to honor his foster father’s last wishes, even if it means putting his own plans on hold to manage Joe’s construction business. An ex–Special Forces operative, Jack thrives on the thrill of globe-hopping rescues. But now he’s needed closer to home. His foster mother has her hands full with a troubled teen, and when Jack meets the hired tutor, he discovers a woman who stirs his protective instincts—and his deepest desires.

Caitlyn Curtis knows that good looks can hide a hot temper. After an abusive marriage crushed her dreams of a happy ending, she swore off men—until one intoxicating dance in Jack’s strong arms breaks down every emotional barrier. Tough but tender, he leaves Caitlyn yearning for more of his gentle seduction. Despite the violence he’s seen, Jack is a good man. And even though passion can be dangerous, the promise of Jack’s kiss tempts her to believe that love is a risk worth taking.

Advance praise for Always for You: Jack

“Engaging and charming, Always for You: Jack is a story of fulfillment, forgiveness, and passionate romance. The combined strength Jack and Caitlyn wield when facing anyone who threatens to break their bonds is incredible. I can’t wait for the rest of the series.”—Vonnie Davis, author of the Highlander’s Beloved and Black Eagle Ops series

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

My Thoughts
Always For You: Jack  is far more drama than romance.  Leading man Jack McShane, is that perfect blend of tough and tender, sure to inspire both desire and curiosity in the reader.  The lose of both the foster father, who raised him, and his place in the Special Forces unit that he loved, leaves Jack more in need of the nurturing effects of home, family, and his foster mother's delicious dinners than ever before.

Faced with the choice between striking out on his own, and fulfilling his foster father's last wish that he take his place as the head of the family construction company.  Jack is a man in flux.

Until Ricky.

A boy alone, abused, hunted, and in need of help. Help, that only Jack, and those closest to him are able to provide.

Over 50% of this book is spent introducing readers to Ricky, and the host of issues plaguing him.  It is clear from the start that Ricky, and his situation serve as a very clear mirror for Jack.  A mirror that Jack is determined to never see broken.

When Jack's efforts to help Ricky lead to their meeting the beautiful but reserved Caitlyn Curtis; hired to tutor Ricky in all the subjects that he needs ensure that he is on track for the coming school year.
 The previously child-centric  plot takes on a decidedly more adult romanticism.
Sweet...but definitely adult.

The care and understanding that Jack shows to both Ricky and Caitlyn, lets you know that all of the goodness that has been put into Jack by his foster parents, lies just under the surface of his gruff exterior.  Waiting for just the right people!

This is the perfect grown up romance.  Jack and Caitlyn are very careful to consider Ricky in every decision that they make involving the progression of their relationship.
There are some hot and heavy moments between the soldier and his lady.  But the passion is always tempered by an almost reverent amount of care for tender hearts and wounded spirits.

The ultimate "feel good" read.  The characters, homey setting, and personal tone in which the story is communicated to the reader, goes a long way in spinning a uncomplicated but powerful yarn, meant to remind one of the true meaning of family.

Reviewer's Note:  I received a copy of the above reference literary work in exchange for the honest review provided.
Said review was not influenced in any way by Loveswept, or those acting on their behalf.

About Alexis
Alexis MorganAlexis Morgan grew up near St. Louis and received a B.A. in English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She and her husband have made the Pacific Northwest their home for more than thirty years, where she launched her career as a writer. She is published in paranormal romance, fantasy romance, American West historicals, and most recently, contemporary romances with her new Snowberry Creek series.   

Find Her:  Goodreads / Facebook / Web / Twitter 

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