January Reviews

Ana Belle never wanted anything more than to hang up her apron, jump on her Vespa and ride off into the sunset, leaving Sugartown in the dust. Elijah Cade never wanted anything more than a hot meal, a side of hot arse and a soft place to lay his head at night where he could forget about his past. But you know what they say about wanting: you always want what you can’t have. Nineteen year-old virgin Ana is about to discover that’s not quite true because a six foot three, hotter than hell, tattooed, Aussie sex god just rode into town. He’s had a taste of her pie and he wants more– no really, Ana bakes pies for a living, get your mind out of the gutter. She’d be willing to hand over everything tied up in a big red bow, there’s just one problem; Elijah has secrets dirtier than last week’s underwear. Secrets that won't just break Ana’s heart, but put her life at risk, too. When those secrets come to light, their relationship is pushed to breaking point. Add to that a psychotic nympho best friend, an overbearing father, a cuter than humanly possible kid brother, a wanton womanizing cousin, the ex from hell, and more pies than you could poke a ... err ... stick ... at. And you thought small towns were boring. Welcome to Sugartown. *Content Warning. Intended for a mature 18+ audience. Contains explicit sex, oodles of profanity and a crap-tonne of AWKWARD.

Ana Belle never wanted anything more than to hang up her apron, jump on her Vespa and ride off into the sunset, leaving Sugartown in the dust.
Elijah Cade never wanted anything more than a hot meal, a side of hot arse and a soft place to lay his head at night where he could forget about his past.
But you know what they say about wanting: you always want what you can’t have.
Nineteen year-old virgin Ana is about to discover that’s not quite true because a six foot three, hotter than hell, tattooed, Aussie sex god just rode into town. He’s had a taste of her pie and he wants more– no really, Ana bakes pies for a living, get your mind out of the gutter.
She’d be willing to hand over everything tied up in a big red bow, there’s just one problem; Elijah has secrets dirtier than last week’s underwear. Secrets that won’t just break Ana’s heart, but put her life at risk, too. When those secrets come to light, their relationship is pushed to breaking point.
Add to that a psychotic nympho best friend, an overbearing father, a cuter than humanly possible kid brother, a wanton womanizing cousin, the ex from hell, and more pies than you could poke a … err … stick … at.
And you thought small towns were boring.
Welcome to Sugartown.
*Content Warning. Intended for a mature 18+ audience. Contains explicit sex, oodles of profanity and a crap-tonne of AWKWARD.

Welcome to Sugartown by Carmen Jenner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t think I’ve seen sugar sweet, humor and intense dark situations be mixed in one book. Even after sleeping on it I am not sure how I feel about this book. There are many pieces of it I liked very much. The characters were all great and the setup of the next book has me wanting to read it but I guess my issue is with the dark parts. I like dark books when you know that it’s a dark book going into it, you’re prepared mentally for it going in. But the warning on this book leaves out two very important things. An extreme sexual assault in a very intense scene and a then a rape in another scene. I don’t understand quite why the author chose to show us this 19 year old virgin who bakes pies for a living in the pie shop that was her mother’s dream before she died of cancer, is basically is raising her 6 year old step brother who has the cutest lisp, has a man whore as a best friend but no matter what these two have each other’s back and then rips her world apart not once but twice.
__COULD BE CONSIDERED SPOILERISH__
The first 50 percent of the book was very humorous watching Ana and Elijah fall in love. Her the very mature but innocent 19 year and him the mysterious bad boy stranger who comes to town to work in her father’s motorcycle garage. You knew Elijah had a bad past but we were given no specifics until right before that first intense scene 50 percent in. I am assuming the author wanted to make us as shocked as Ana was when a group a Hell’s Angels assault them. Now I’m all for slowly letting us get to know the characters which the first 50% of the book was but by the hero not telling Ana anything she was so traumatized over what happened she ends up getting herself in another situation with devastating consequences. Until the very end of the book the heroine only knows violence when it comes to penetration sex.

In the end I can say I couldn’t put the book down until I’d finished it. But its left such a bitter taste in my mouth I cant really decide how I really feel about it. I’m going to give it a 4 rating as the first half of the book was very funny and engaging and even though the 2nd half was some very dark stuff I was still rooting for Ana and Elijah to get their HEA.

Back to YouBack to You by Jessica Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heartbreaking look at a man whose given his life to the Army and ended up not only losing his family but he also lost himself and has no idea how to repair the damage he’s caused and become a normal functioning person away from war.

Trent and Laura’s story started in Because of You. At first glance we thought they had the perfect marriage with two children. But before long everything came unraveled. When that book ended not only had Trent lost good men along with two of his closes friends were wounded he was also being accused of crimes that if convicted he faced being court marshaled and his wife served him with divorce papers.

This book picks up with Trent going home to try and salvage not only his reputation but also his marriage. This book shows us why this series is called Coming Home. My heart broke for Trent for most of this book. The author did a fabulous job of showing what its like for these guys seeing what they see over there and having to come back home and try and act like they haven’t seen the atrocities they have and then try to have a normal relationship with their wives and children. We’re also given the view of the army wife who stood by her man through many deployments basically playing the role of single mother for years and she was ok with that until Trent stop communicating with her and lied about the reasons for all of his deployments.

The root of this book is about two people who used to love each other deeply then realizing that they are no longer the two people they married and then getting to know each other again and seeing that it doesn’t matter that they’ve changed because the core of their love is still there.

I’ve wanted Trent and Laura’s story since I first read Because of You and I was not disappointed.

After the Storm (KGI, #8)After the Storm by Maya Banks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the book for Kelly family interactions. Its always good to see how everyone is doing. It was also nice to see Rusty grown up and how mature she has gotten and that she has finally almost gotten rid of that big chip on her shoulder and that it was her wanting to pay it forward in helping out someone she recognized as herself at that age that started this book. The Sean/Rusty surprise in this book was the best thing about it.

That being said I liked the book up until a little over half way into it. Then it got weird. I understand why many reviewers are using the word creepy as it did kind go that direction. It felt like it morphed into the Colter realm and that type of fast declarations just didn’t work in this book especially considering what Eve and her siblings were running away from. It was just too weird.

This in no way will deter me from reading future KGI books. All authors have a book in a series that just doesn’t work for some. There is no way I would miss Sean and Rusty’s book and with the sweet side we got to see of Swanny in this book looking forward to his..

Badlands (Aftershock, #3)Badlands by Jill Sorenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great conclusion to Owen and Penny’s story. If you haven’t read Aftershock I would recommend reading that book first so you understand the dynamic between these two and what its taken for them to finally get to a point where its possible for them to be together.

Owen and Penny met after an earthquake left them buried under a freeway. She was 16 and pregnant and estranged from her Mexican American family due to the pregnancy. Owen was 19, in prison and part of a white supremacist prison gang with racist tattoo’s over his body. But Owen was part of the gang for survival only and he became infatuated with Penny during their ordeal and ended up saving the group trapped by managing to escape and get help. After getting out of prison Owen wanted to better himself and Penny’s father played a part in that but with a stipulation that he wasn’t to ever be more to his daughter than a friend.

Five years later Owen is part of Penny’s father’s security team as he is now running for president. Owen’s been assigned to guard Penny and Cruz, her son he helped deliver. Penny and Owen both have feelings for each other but just have just silently pined for the other for their own reasons. The three of them are kidnapped by Owen’s brother and group of other gang member and taken to the Badlands and held for ransom. They manage to escape and during there trek through the desert we learn more about the horrible childhood Owen had and the atrocities done to him in prison. Those things have made Owen have intimacy issues and it takes Penny’s love for him to help him start to work through them.

Normally we see the woman in a book being the one that’s been sexually abused and the effects of that. In this book its Owen who has the deep emotional scars from what happened to him in prison and all the mistakes he made that got him there. But through all of that he still has the kindest heart and you root for him on every page he is on. I am so happy we finally got Penny and Owen’s story as they both deserved a happy ending to all the heartbreak that came before it.

Shatter (Phoenix Rising, #4)Shatter by Joan Swan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

MITCH!!! You couldn’t help but fall for this tough as nails lawyer that was always much more who had resources galore and even though he didn’t have a special power he became just as big a part of the team as the rest with his sexy gruffy self.. Throughout the books we learned there was a woman many years ago that hurt and betrayed him and it seems she is tied to what happened to the firefighters in that warehouse.

As this is the 4th book in the series and we’ve been given lots of information on Senator Schaeffer and his research with chemical and biological weapons that’s been at the core of this series. While gathering information on Schaeffer they come across a 3rd scientist who had worked on the project that affected them all and it turns out to be a woman Mitch loved 7 years ago. This book picks up with Mitch locating her and years of secrets both personal and professional finally come to light. As these two work through their personal issues the threats against Mitch and Halina have them heading to the rest of the team where as a whole with all their unique gifts try to finally bring an end to Schaeffer and his rein.

Mitch has always been such a unique character and his woman needed to be the same. Halina Beloi was certainly that woman. This was a great addition to the series with lots of answers finally given and quite a few threads wrapped up. Some of my favorite moments from the book were Tex the dog who only takes orders in Russian and Tai who was the comic relief.

Poughkeepsie (Poughkeepsie Brotherhood, #1)Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was exhausted by the time I finished this story. I mean that in a good way. What you cant tell from the blurb about the book is this just isn’t about 2 people. This is an ensemble. There are 3 couple plus others that all get plenty of face time.

The base is 3 foster brothers who couldn’t be more different but yet their tragic pasts have bonded them tighter than any blood relation could have done. All three wear tattoos to symbolize there bond and those tattoos are who they are.

Music Clef – Blake is a homeless man that always had a gift with playing the piano. He’s also traumatized from something from his childhood that makes him deathly afraid of the sun. Blake has the sweetest soul and manners. He has hung out at the train platform for a long time just to get a glimpse of a woman who smiles at everyone. Livia is also a person with a good soul and treats others how she would want to be treated. She has always noticed the homeless man and wondered his story. She is happy in all aspects of her life except when it comes to her relationship with her boyfriend who wants to become more. When she finally strikes up a conversation with Blake she realizes this is her soul mate and wants to learn everything about him and help him with his fears. Their journey to love was a beautiful one to watch. But there were roadblocks along the way. Namely the ex-boyfriend who doesn’t want to let Livia go.

Cross – Cole who had a hard time with the things they had to do as children wanted atonement and ended up at a Catholic church and became the assistant to the Priest running the church. Even though he tries to practice what he preaches some behaviors are hard to break. When Cole meets Livia’s sister Kyle they also have that realization that something special is there. But Kyle is not like her sister. She has been punishing herself for years with booze and men because she thinks she is the cause for their mother walking out on them and their father. Kyle is also a foul mouth smart aleck who provides a lot of the humor through the book. It takes some tragic things happening to these two to before they can have their HEA.

Knife – Beckett was the oldest of the three. He knew when they all reached age they would have to leave the foster care system and then would be on their own with no money or protection. Since he got out first he decided there was only one way to do that. Murder, running drugs, women and guns. No matter the things he has done his love for his brothers is strong and feels if he ever lost one of them he wouldn’t see a reason to stay on this earth. Beckett is certainly what you would call the anti-hero. He does plenty of unspeakable things but most are done because of his love for his brothers. One of the people that work for him is a beautiful assassin named Eve. Eve was defiantly the most complicated woman in this book. She started off as a sweet woman in love with a man and they were going to have a baby. But when in a blink of an eye they were both taken away from her she vowed revenge on the person responsible and trained herself to become a deadly assassin to kill him. That person was Beckett.

As you can see there is a lot that goes on in this book. There are plenty of other characters that play a big part in the story – some not so good and some you come to care about as much as the main. This is a continuing series where we will get to see all the characters again. Beckett and Eve’s story is far from over and I’ve learn we get to meet new characters in the next book that are just as intriguing

Return to Poughkeepsie (Poughkeepsie Brotherhood, #2)Return to Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes the best intentions blow up in your face. A year after the first book ended Beckett who has been hiding out from the law makes a decision to walk away from everyone to see if he can change his ways and become the type of person that should be around his growing family and Eve. Five years later Beckett is trying his best but leaving Poughkeepsie unguarded has meant that new players are looking to move in and they put his family back in the crosshairs making Beckett have to come out of his self imposed exile.

As with the first we bounce back and forth between Beckett, Eve, Cole, Kyle, Livia and Blake. Eve by far has some of the best page time. Even though she hasn’t heard from Beckett in years she is still doing her best to protect his family and him. When she learns of the coop to try and overthrow Becketts old business and that targets maybe on the brothers and their wives heads she infiltrates enemy camp. When Livia is kidnapped, Beckett is called back and heads start to roll.

There were many highlights during this book. Seeing Beckett actually trying to change and the ways he tries to do that are quite humorous. Its also clear that no matter their beginnings that Beckett and Eve belong together and their weird kinda love totally works for them. We are also introduced to a police officer named Ryan that Livia’s dad requested go undercover to find out who is trying to take over Beckett’s territory and to also hopefully capture the man himself. Ryan has just broke up with his girlfriend at the start of the book and she’s crazy. (view spoiler)

What to me makes a great book is when you come to care for all the characters and getting to continue to read about them and care about what is happening to them just as much as you did in the first book. There is nothing stale or repeated in any of the characters in this book. If nothing else I’ve come to love them more.

At the end of this book we get quite the preview to the next book which was great in that it looks awesome but bad in that its going to 2014 before we get it.

An Undying OathAn Undying Oath by HK Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Always interesting when a story starts out one way and then morphs into something totally different.

We meet Samantha James on her 28th birthday. She is an insurance adjuster who is good at her job but doesn’t really like it. She is also put her emotions on shut down since her father left her and her mother when she was 9. This has meant that relationships are not long lasting for her. She’s currently been with her latest boyfriend almost a year and all she can think about is she needs to end it. Every year on her birthday her father, who was a geneticist when he left them, sends her an enormous amount of money. This year she gets another package and assumes its just the money but when she opens it she finds a strange canister. When her boyfriend is killed and her mother almost killed she begins to realize that the canister is at the heart of what is going on but no one believes her conspiracy theory.

Here’s where the story changes. Three members of a Special Forces unit were exposed to chemicals in Iraq that altered them. They have traced the origins back to Samantha’s father and are trying to stop any further makings of this WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction). But the government likes there new found WMD and will go to any lengths to get it back since Sam’s father destroyed all evidence of it.

Sergeant Justin Shaw (who was one of the ones exposed) ends up saving Sam’s life and keeps her close as they try to figure out what’s really going on in the middle of traitors and terrorism. Which side is her father on? Will Sam be able to ever lower her defenses enough truly care about this man who is unlike any she has met before?

This was a great combination of suspense and paranormal.

In His EyesIn His Eyes by Nina Pierce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At the forefront this is a search for a serial killer. But its also about a couple trying to repair their marriage, a FBI agent obsessed with finding the killer he has been hunting for years even to the point of insanity and possibly losing his job.

During her separation from her husband while she files for divorce Maggie Callaghan unknowingly catches the eye of the serial killer who plans to make her his next victim. The story bounces between many characters to give us a good look into the lives of each while also letting us until the sick mind of the killer.

Everything is more complicated than it seems. When it starts out we think Alex Callahan is man who emotionally disserted and cheated on his wife, but as the story of their life is shown to us from Alex’s point of view that is not the case. Your impression of him changed as the book goes on and you can see nothing is more important to him that his wife and their three kids. Also through much of the book the killer also does a great job of deceiving and Maggie doesn’t realize she has a stalker until its almost too late.

The author also pulls no punches in having many characters that you come to care about and get to know but yet doesn’t hesitate to make any of them not expendable to the wrath of the killer.

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