Review: UnStrapped by Nina G. Jones

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5 break neck Stars

Some characters walk into our lives, whether it by books or movies or some other method, and crawl into our hearts. They touch something profound in us in the telling of their stories; provide a mirror for us to see our own lives through a different perspective. We get attached to them as we walk their journey with them, cheering for them, crying for them, screaming at them. They become part of our own story, to an extent, and that is one of the greatest gifts we can ever hope to gain – company, along for the ride.

Taylor Holden and Shyla Ball are exactly those kind of characters. When the Strapped series started, we met a completely cold, closed off, disengaged Taylor completely in control of his life and those around him. Scarred and broken from his past. Shyla was shy and content to stay that way. She was quiet and disengaged in her own way, fully content to ride the flow of her life as it unfolded before her. One spilled cup of coffee later and they found their lives jack-knifed into each other in the craziest of ways and their story is one that will stay with me forever.

This series has so many threads moving through it, I couldn’t quite begin to wrap my head around how Nina G. Jones was going to wrap them all up in three little books. There was no way she would be able to successfully tie everything together in a way that made sense, gave Taylor and Shy the happy ending they so completely deserved and dealt out the justice those around them also deserved. Not only did she prove me utterly wrong, she nailed it so completely that I had to read this last book twice.

UnStrapped not only delivers everything a fan of this series could ever hope for story wise, but it also cracks these characters open so wide that we get to see them fully bloom into their complete and amazing selves, individually and together. Taylor and Shyla step into their own skins in such a gorgeous way throughout this story, meeting each other where they are and bringing out the very best in each other. There are moments of exquisite tenderness, heartbreak, humor and intelligence. And the sex. Jaysus, the sex scenes. Jones has completely outdone herself with the heat factor in this book.

I fell in love with these characters immediately. And I fell in love with Jones’ writing immediately. She is able to ensnare every single sense and light them on fire with even the simplest of scenes and that ability combined with the incredible depth built into these characters and their story makes for a series that stands alone amongst its contemporaries.

Jones has crafted a final book in this series that starts at a break neck speed and never once lets up. She is ruthless in her pressure upon these characters and the incredible obstacles she places before them. But such are Taylor and Shy that they leap each one with grace and dignity and as a reader, you just stand back, mouth agape, wondering how the hell they just pulled that off. And then a smile pulls your mouth wide as you realize you don’t care, you’re just stoked you got to watch it happen.

The Strapped series will be with me forever. As sad as I am to see it end, I’m just thrilled that I got to go along for the ride. To have these characters with me, their wickedness and wit, their insanity and singular way of looking at the world, their risk taking and courage, is a gift I’ll take out and admire for a long time to come.

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Review: Blue by Ivory Quinn

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4.5 delving deeply Stars

Trust is a very tricky subject. A lot of stories have been written about trust – the breaking of it, the earning of it back and the realization of it. All in a hundred different ways. Almost all of them painful in one way or another – even when trust is realized, vindicated, it tends to bring pain as its light shines on all the times when it was broken. Trust is at the root of all human interaction – so to write a story all about the path to it is a hard and dangerous thing to do. One wrong move and you plunge your characters and readers off a cliff. But done well? Those are the stories that live forever.

Blue will live forever. Not only as a character, but this individual story will stand on it own within The Darkness Falls series as a fearless investigation into trust and how it affects and influences human nature.

Noelle continues to be one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever had the great pleasure to read. She is fearlessly insightful, not only into herself, but those around her. She is willing and able to claim that which she needs to continue growing and is unafraid to ask for what she wants and deserves. If Redemption saw her step into her own skin, Blue sees her own it. She is sure of herself in a way I think most people only dream of – even in the face of additional and completely unknown new challenges. Even if the face of losing the one she loves most.

Blue continues to be a force to be reckoned with. He gets hit with brick after brick in this new book and he just keeps going. He displays immense courage in this book as he embraces the true meaning of submission that is genuinely inspired by another human being instead of simply required. We get to watch him process his role with the people he loves most and it’s a hard roller coaster of a process, but he embraces it fully and with more true courage than a lot of real life people would ever be able to summon.

This book is not just about love or life or friendship or family. It’s not just about how we all choose to walk on this planet either with or without those things at our side. This book peels back the run of the mill definitions of human nature and relationships and then asks to go even deeper. To really examine motivations behind what we hold most dear, including our definitions of right and wrong and what we allow in our lives.

On top of all of that, Ivory Quinn has written a damn good story that is funny, heart wrenching, sweet, steamy and intelligent. The pacing is beautiful as we walk alongside Blue and his journey deeper and deeper within himself. He and Noelle are gorgeous as always – beautifully honest and yet so achingly tender and careful with each other. They dance an incredibly beautiful waltz with each other in this book that has you on the edge of your seat by book’s end.

Truth and trust go hand in hand and both are incredibly difficult to embrace once they’ve been shattered. But the one thing that is so often overlooked is that while it is incredibly difficult to piece back together those shattered pieces, it is possible to allow them to grow again from the seed of love. And often, it’s so much stronger when given from that foundation.

When inspired from within there is no greater or stronger gift than that of love, truth and trust. The Darkness Falls series is a gorgeous example of exactly that – the human journey at its most honest.

Cover Reveal: Killer Queen by LH Cosway

We are pleased to share with you the cover for Killer Queen, the companion novel to Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway, scheduled for release on October 20th. Isn’t it gorgeous?!

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Synopsis

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome…

Come inside The Glamour Patch club to see the star of our show, Miss Vivica Blue.

Do you want to read my diary you nosy little devils? Have a glass of champagne (you’ll need it) and get comfortable because you’re in for some crazy shenanigans brought to you straight from the horse’s mouth.

I can be whatever you want me to be: boy, girl, a little bit of both.

If you have a problem with a man in a dress then best be off with you. If males in make-up give you the willies, then I’ll say au revoir and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

So, who are we left with? Ah, a fine collection of curious souls. I want to tell you a tale of love, because those are the most glorious kind. I want to tell you about real love, a love that transcends labels and gender stereotypes.

The moment I first laid eyes on my Freda I knew that we were kindred. Well okay, I also knew I wanted to get into her pants, but that’s beside the point. My world was a grey place. I was at my lowest ebb. Then she came along and patches of colour began to spring forth. One day the daffodils were yellow and before I knew it, colour was everywhere, lighting up my life.

Love is not about how we appear on the outside, it’s about the soul contained within.

Our story was not a conventional one, but it was ours, and that’s what made it shine.

Killer Queen is a companion novel to L.H. Cosway’s contemporary romance, Painted Faces. It contains scenes that take place before, during and after the original story. It can also be read as a standalone.

Cover Designed by: Letitia from Romantic Book Affairs

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Excerpt

I was immediately happy to be left alone with my most recent object of attraction, and tried to think of a way to endear myself to her. She seemed a little defensive, and I didn’t like it. She was focused intently on stirring a pot of simmering bolognaise, not paying me any notice. Deciding to take the bull by the horns, I walked across the room and stepped up right behind her, taking her by the hips and affectionately resting my head on her shoulder.

Sometimes, forcing physical closeness with women worked for me. Not that kind, I’m not completely depraved. Often though, women liked it when I took them into my arms for a hug or pulled them onto my lap to sit. Unfortunately, Fred’s entire body went ramrod straight the moment I touched her. I instantly regretted the move, but at the same time I didn’t. Her supple hips felt good beneath my palms.

“Smells delicious, Fred,” I told her, brazenly giving her a squeeze. It was ridiculously inappropriate, but I wanted a reaction out of her. Needed one. Still, she barely moved and instead gave me a one word reply, “Yep.”

I leaned closer, allowing my breath to whisper across the back of her neck. She shivered and I think I saw her breath hitch, which made me grow a little hard. “The wine cost twenty Euros, and I got it from the off-licence down the road.”

“Oh, very la di da, Viv. You must be a big spender.”

I grinned, liking how she was subtly taunting me by continuing to call me by a woman’s name. “You like calling me Viv, do you?”

“What can I say, feminine blokes really do it for me.”

Enjoying this interaction, I decided to up the ante a level…or twenty. I spoke low and quick into her ear. “I can do that, if it’s what you’re into. In fact, I can be whatever you want me to be. I don’t think it is, though. I think you’re the kind of woman who likes a man to take the lead.” Then I pulled her hips back into mine. The feel of her soft arse flush against my cock did wonderful things. Wonderful things. I was having visions of throwing her over my shoulder and carrying her into my apartment so that I could have my wicked way with her. Unfortunately, my forwardness was not taken in the manner I had intended. Pulling swiftly out of my hold, she lifted up her stirring spoon and pointed it at me, as though it were a weapon that would keep me at arm’s length.

Okay. Listen here, back the hell up or I’ll knee you in the balls.”

 

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AboutTheAuthor
LH Cosway

L.H. Cosway has a BA in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilisation, and an MA in Postcolonial Literature. She lives in Dublin city. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favourite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books.

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Review: Black Lies by Alessandra Torre

Black Lies Cover

4.5 mind-bending Stars

I think everyone at one point or another has said, “I just want to be fully loved. For all of me.” As those words trip poetically from our mouths they seem so simple. So easily achieved. The problem lies in the fact that there are always pieces of ourselves that we hold back. Either for fear of rejection or because we’re not ready to show them to the world. Or maybe because we just don’t know those pieces exist.

Layana Fairmount is a perfectly trained woman of high society. Single. Beautiful On the surface, she would be the perfect catch as the perfect trophy wife. The problem is that there’s much more to her than just a shiny exterior. She’s smart, shrewd and has a heart of gold. This combination has her relatively happy, single, and throwing herself into charity. And while she keeps a level eye on the social scene, she’s refused to play.

Brant Sharp is a modern day tech genius. He’s a bit of a recluse – preferring to spend all of his time on projects rather than people. He is insulated and protected by this handpicked inner circle. His life is well arranged and progressing along quite nicely on his path towards continuing to make history.

Then Layana and Brant crash head long into each other and everything changes. For both of them. Lana has to claw and fight her way through Brant’s inner circle to gain access to the man she wants. And Brant has to have the patience of a saint to keep Lana.

It’s not often that you get to read a relationship like this. Where both parties are head over heels in love, where both are committed for the long run, where both come face to face with challenges in the relationship and laugh lightly in their faces. There is immense struggle and heartbreak, but there is no drama. This is gritty, in your face, down in the trenches warfare for love.

And it is gorgeous. Alessandra Torre has taken a lantern into the human soul fractured and show how exquisite it can be. She has choreographed an intense story rife with deep characters, suspense and incredibly well preserved plot twists that take the reader on an exceptional ride.

You know something is off with Brant from the beginning. The brilliance Torre displays is not in the issue itself but how she weaves its revelation into the greater story, specifically into his relationship with Lana. It is paced so gloriously that even if you think you have it all figured out, it will still knock you for a loop. Make you gasp and applaud Torre’s audacity for writing such a story and the characters’ ability to weather this particular storm with such astounding grace.

Wanting to be loved wholly and unconditionally is part of being a human, I think. What we all forget when we launch our search for such a love, however, is that there are so many parts of ourselves we can’t see until someone holds up a mirror and shows us our own truth. I hope we can all be as brave as Brant and Lana when we come to face with these mirrors in our own lives.

Cover Reveal: Forgiving Gia by Gina Whitney

 
Title: Forgiving Gia (Rocker Series: Two)
Author: Gina Whitney
Genre: Erotica BDSM
Expected Release Date: October 20, 2014
Cover Designed by: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design & PhotographyHosted by: Lady Amber’s Tours
Blurb:
Abel Gunner is a Dom rock-star with legendary skills in the bedroom. He swore he wouldn’t fall for another women after scheming manipulative Morgana. Until, he met his new Sub Gia Mastro. His darkened soul longed for her submission, affection, and ultimately love. Her pain brings the pleasure he craves. They share a deep connection that has him craving the love he never asked for. Her smile calms the beast that rages within. Gia loves Abel more than life itself. But, Abel is devastated by what he perceives as lies and deceit and threatens to destroy what little happiness Gia’s ever known. Her life hangs in the balance. His life depends on forgiving her. This couple must face many truths: Is love enough to overcome the damage that dwells within? Gia’s experiences with love have been nil. Until meeting the infamous bad-boy rocker Abel Gunner. Swept up in a mind-bending Dom/Submissive love affair she’s force to make decisions that have both helped and hurt their relationship. Gia’s mother has betrayed her in the worst possible way. Abel’s ex-girlfriend Morgana an unbearable thorn. When she wakes her reality is stripped of meaning. Abel, has walked away from her leaving her imprisoned with torment within her own mind. They both have to face their demons before they can embrace a future together. In the end, they’re faced with two choices: Fight for love or die with their demons.
 
 
 
 
Gina Whitney grew up reading Judy Blume, and Nancy Drew books. She was raised in the town of North Valley Stream, New York(Long Island)and attended community college for fashion design. At 19 she opened a boutique. She recently published her first paranormal romance novel Blood Ties. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging with family and friends. She shares a home with her wonderful son’s PJ and Drew, and their 200lb Mastiff Hercules. She currently lives in Massapequa, New York. Reading has always been a passion and obsession. You can usually find her typing furiously while shouting obscenities over her latest work. She also enjoys a good laugh, being snarky, espresso, and above all steamy swooning angst filled novels. She’s pathologically obsessed with True Blood(Eric ;), Games of Thrones, Borgias, Vampire Diaries and Originals. You can also find her chatting it up with readers on Facebook.


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Review: Surviving Goodbye by Morgan Parker

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5 spectacular Stars

I read A LOT of books. Most of them are really good. Most of them I spend a lot of time talking about and putting them into people’s hands because they deserve to be read. Every so often, however, I get a truly special book. I end up savoring it. Wanting it to last because the story is so good, I want to live there forever. The characters are so alive, so three dimensional, that I want to invite them over for dinner. Everything about it just thoroughly leaves me smitten, exhilarated and begging for more.

This book is one of those few. This book is one of the most gorgeous stories I’ve ever had the honor to read. This book had me smirking, belly laughing, growling and sobbing several times over.

Elliott Fitch learns from his wife that his daughter is not his biologically – while his wife is on her deathbed. So not only is Elliott left to deal with the death of the love of his life, but her confessed infidelity. He has to figure out how and if that affects his relationship with his daughter. How much is biology worth when it comes to real family? How much is motive worth when it comes to something like adultery? Elliott is left in a swirling vortex of anger, hatred, betrayal and confusion that sucks a year away from him before he comes out of the emotional coma enough to start semi-functioning again. Before he can consciously decide what he needs to do to make peace with his life as it stands currently tipped on its axis with no hope of every righting itself again.

Lena Fitch is Elliott’s daughter and she has no intention of making his life any easier. In fact, in her 17-year-old wisdom she’s going out of her way to help wake her Papa Bear up out of his comatose state. And it works. They find their way back to each other despite the hurt and abandonment and confusion.

Watching this lost father and this lost daughter figure it out and end up solid is one of the most beautiful journeys I’ve ever read. It is intense and honest and tremendously heartfelt.

You’d think Elliott’s life would be plenty full with a dead wife, her life altering confession and a teenage daughter. But no. He needs a love interest too. And that love interest is Veronica. She of blue hair, tattoos and an ability to get anyone and every one to talk to her. She is much younger than Elliott, has a 5 year old daughter and crawls under his skin from the very moment he first lays eyes on her. Knows he is immediately attracted to her and intrigued by her. And as with all the very best literary relationships – she brings out the very best in him. Takes his very best qualities and amps them up 110% until they are so overwhelmingly charming, I wanted to crawl into the book and steal him away from her.

This book is Morgan Parker’s masterpiece. If you’ve been following my reviews at all, you know already know how much I love and admire his writing. But this one? This one is inspired. This one is so lovely I wanted to read it again the moment it ended. This one is a perfectly told story about love that so fearlessly explores every single facet of the concept that I willingly was swept up with the characters in every minute.

I am unabashedly, all out, no hold barred in love with this book. The writing is flawless. The pacing is perfect and keeps you perfectly perched on the edge of your seat for its entirety. The characters are subtle and relatable and so real that I want to move next door to them. Parker always shows me how perfectly he balances the innate subtlety of his writing with the incredible heat and intelligent humor intrinsically encapsulated by it. It inspired me to bark with laughter, pant from the heat and sink into the story of it all without even thinking about it. His writing takes me away from conscious choice and simply allows me to feel.

Books are written about love every day. I read books about love every single day. Ninety percent of them are really good and appeal whole-heartedly to the hopeless romantic in me. But this one? This one appeals to my very human nature. Appeals to that in me that believes that, in the end, love is always right and love always wins. Even when it’s saying goodbye.

Review: Unlit Star by Lindy Zart

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4.5 momentous Stars

Your whole life can change in a moment. One connection. Making eye contact with one person. One choice. One new piece of information. Everything can tilt off of its axis in one singular moment. But what really matters is what you choose do to with what that moment inspires. The options are endless, really. You can embrace that moment, allow it to change you or you can shut it down. Ignore its existence and hold onto life before. Even though we very rarely have control over those moments, what we do with them, how we allow them to change us, is entirely within our control.

Delilah is given one of those moments very early in life. She’s just 18 years old when her life turns upside down. And in that moment, she harnesses everything she values most about her to lift herself above it and chooses to use it as fuel to live a life that makes tangible everything she is. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Especially as she continues to integrate new knowledge that continues to change her on a daily basis. She is a gorgeous mass of incredible energy that she channels into teaching everyone around her what it is to see the world through her eyes. She wears her spontaneity like the most fabulous pair of stilettos ever invented. She offers her compassion like a magic wand, effortlessly touching everyone around her with it. She uses her honesty like the world’s most perfect lock pick, freeing people around her to look at their own world with new eyes. She is a force to be reckoned with and I absolutely adored her.

Rivers is broken. He had his own moment when he was sucked into the propellers of a speedboat and his life was irrevocably changed forever. His path sent into a spiraling detour for which he has no compass. Until he comes face to face with Delilah and she lets him borrow hers. Together they figure out a new path forged from her strength and his humor, her eccentricity and his unabashed love. Together they become fearless explorers in this new world in which they find themselves and watching them map it out is a glorious thing to behold.

Lindy Zart has written more than just a YA novel in Unlit Star. She has crafted a moment for anyone willing to embrace it. These characters offer themselves up selflessly to anyone wanting to walk the path with them. They have a tremendous amount to teach about courage and love and I was honored to be invited into their world, even for but a moment. The pacing is perfection. The unveiling of the inner workings of characters and story is done so skillfully you become completely absorbed into the journey. This book is just flat beautifully written.

Moments arrive on our doorstep every day. They can change us, challenge us and make us better if we allow them to. Pick up this moment, pick up this book. Let it crawl inside of you and show you the world through its eyes. It’s a beautiful sight to be sure. And one that can change you if you let it.