Wednesday, February 22, 2017

REVIEW: Black Hearts by Karina Halle

For Vicente Bernal, truth is all he’s known. The son of an infamous drug lord, Vicente was born to help run the family business, which means he’s been raised on a throne of sordid pasts and dirty laundry, violence and pride. But when Vicente stumbles across someone he’s not supposed to know about – a woman from his father’s checkered past – he sets out to California to find her behind his father’s back.

What Vicente doesn’t expect to find in San Francisco is Violet McQueen, the woman’s twenty-year old daughter. Beautiful and edgy with a vulnerability he can’t resist, Violet tempts Vicente from afar and though he promised himself he’d stay away from her, curiosity and lust are powerful forces. Besides, Vicente has always gotten everything he wants – why shouldn’t he have Violet too?

Soon his wants turn into an obsession, one that sweeps Violet into his games as they fall madly, deeply in love with each other, the type of first love that can drive a person mad.

But it’s a love with tragic consequences.

Both the truth – and the lies – not only threaten to tear them apart, but threaten their very lives.

Someone has to pay for the sins of the fathers.

And they’ll be paying the price with their souls.

Black Hearts is a BRAND NEW STANDALONE DUET - the second book and conclusion, Dirty Souls, releases March 17th.

Published February 19th 2017
Source: Author; Purchased
Purchase a copy: Goodreads | Amazon


Shel: Were you guys as excited and surprised about this novel as I was? Was I the only one who didn't know until recently that this was something Karina Halle was working on? Maybe I was? I don't know...sometimes I get into my own bubble and don't keep up with all of my favorite authors like I should. So when I saw that this book was coming out and it involved Javier's son and Ellie's daughter I was 1 million percent excited and eager to revisit these characters. I never in a million years thoughts we'd get a shot at meeting up with Javier and Louisa and Camden and Ellie again much less have their kids involved as young adults. OMG.

Court: I squee'd hard core when you told me, girl. I didn't realize this was coming and when I did it was basically released so I was so EXCITED! The Artists Trilogy was how I conned (heh, get it) Shel into being as obsessed with Karina as I was and I am so glad. Then Dirty Angel and then these characters solidified themselves in all of their completely deranged, insane, holy calzone I die glory as some of the best characters we have ever had the pleasure to read. They're antiheroes...unreliable narrators...and just seriously an amazing group of people to get lost in the pages with. They do still have me terrified to travel to Mexico, but maybe someday I'll get over that. 

Shel: As you can imagine the minute this book hit my kindle I was all over it and it totally owned me. I couldn't put it down until I was finished. I have theories (some confirmed), questions (so many questions), and concerns (my heart is still racing!). As you can see from the synopsis (see above), Javier's son, Vicente, and Ellie's daughter, Violet, end up together for various reasons and the relationship that develops between them is dynamic (and hot..I should totally mention it's really sexy). It's also built on deception and truth and passion and other things that I can't quite describe--all adding up to something that I couldn't seem to tear my eyes away from and based on how it ended, I know that I'll be equally consumed when the second book comes out in a month.

Court: You can totally read this series without reading the others, in case you were wondering...but it is one intense thrill ride just like those series were. I do like knowing up front that this is a duet, so there is more to come. I haven't read something that had me quite so captivated in a bit, but somehow Karina Halle always is someone who can pull it out of me. I read this in one sitting, and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! Ugh, it was so they meet is more of a slow burn than I was expecting and I liked that a lot. 

Shel: I have so many thoughts right now. Thoughts that are stumbling over themselves as I try to figure out how I feel about all of the characters involved and what their motivations and intentions are--but I suppose what I want to share with you now is that you should go into reading this novel as blind as you possibly can. I found that not knowing much made flipping each page that much more exciting. I had no idea what would happen next or why--and even though I feel like I have a little bit more of an understanding because of the ending, I still feel like I have a lot more to learn. 

Court: I was dying. A starving woman for more details, and I liked how we get each morsel of information as Violet does. I did appreciate our vast knowledge of this world so we do KNOW the things that Ellie and Camden experienced...and Violet knows something is up with her family, but she can't quite figure out what. That is a whole novel to be delved into in the next one just because that is oh my goodness, just messed up. These kids world is about to be flipped on it's head by a tornado. 

Shel: Here are my questions (and some might be spoiler-y so you may want to stop here if you want to take my advice and enjoy the novel from a place of ignorance about its goings on):

  • Who is following Violet? Does Parada know and isn't saying--I noticed he's left some details out of his reports? Is he setting up Javier and Vicente?
  • What will Vicente do? Will he be loyal to his place in the world, his family, or his new feelings towards Violet?
  • Will Violet embrace the darkness and strength she's acquiring--and what will that look like and mean?
  • What will Ellie and Camden do? And Ben? What about Ben (omg--I want his story so bad now!)
  • What the hell is Javier up to? And Louisa--she's too cunning, surely she's somehow involved?
  • How is this all going to end? Halle hasn't been kind to these characters in the past and I know she's capable of mass destruction (which is why I love her), so who is she going to destroy and will I make it out alive in the aftermath of her character destruction?
Shel: Karina Halle--you surprised me with this novel--not for any reason other than I wasn't expecting it to be written and now it's all I can think about. I cannot wait for the next one to come out and I can't help but hope Ben gets a book too. Unless you kill him off? Please don't kill him off. Court: ME TOO! DON'T KILL OFF ANY IMPORTANT CHARACTERS WITHOUT ANSWERS DANG IT! Okay, sorry for the yelling y'all! Haha. I am so very excited for the next one as well, and I will be waiting these luckily few shorts weeks with bated breath! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

REVIEW: Triumph by Cecilia London



Admittedly I was a little nervous to start this final novel in the Bellator Saga series but can you blame me? Cecilia London has had me on an emotional roller coaster for five books and I had no idea what she had in store for me--would I be terrorized, crying, laughing, swooning, or would she introduce me to a whole new set of emotions? Good news, Triumph was the perfect ending to this series and all of the armor I put on to steel myself from the hard stuff was wholly unnecessary. The characters were softer, funnier, and just seemed better equipped to handle the world they were living in. Instead of cringing in anticipation of what would hardship or horror Jack or Caroline would encounter, I was smiling and hopeful and fist bumping with them (in my head, of course). Make no mistake, there were still moments when I still held my breath in nervousness or felt the prickle of anxiety but my prevailing mood as I read was one of relief and happiness as Jack and Caroline continued to triumph (see what I did there? *insert eye rolling emoji here*) over the evil that had descended on their nation.

 After going on such an emotional journey in the previous five novels, Triumph was a welcome respite from the heaviness and loss that Caroline and Jack endured; it managed to honor the seriousness of the events from the previous books while also imbuing a sense of hope for better days to come.

Now that all six books are out and I have some closure with these characters I can't help but feel excited for all of the readers who are new to this series..and maybe a little jealous that they can read all six books back to back. This series is unlike any other series we've reviewed--it has politics, intrigue, horror, psychological aspects, romance, friendship, rivalries, and, of course, baseball. Every single one of these aspects is explored deeply and with a sustained attention to detail that makes the entire series feel cohesive and thoughtful and purposeful.



“All of your ideals, your hopes and dreams…they cease to matter if you abandon them in your darkest hour. We have to see this through to the end.”

Jack McIntyre and Caroline Gerard have never shied away from a challenge. As dual commanders of the American rebel forces, they now face the greatest adversity of their lives. Every decision has permanent consequences. Relationships are tested and restored. Hard truths come to light. When the reality of their situation finally hits them, there is one thing they know for certain.

No sacrifice is too great for love.



Cecilia London is the pen name of a native Illinoisan currently living in San Antonio, Texas. She's filled several roles over the course of her adult life - licensed attorney, wrangler of small children, and obsessed baseball fan, among others. An extroverted introvert with a serious social media addiction, she is the author of The Bellator Saga, an epic, genre-crossing romance series. You can catch all of her quirky updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or at her website.



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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Hard Wired

Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell


Excuse my gross over the top flailing enthusiasm for this series but I'm just minutes off of reading Hard Wired and I'm all *heart eyes* emoji for this series and these characters and especially Megan and Santino (I hope it's not rude to call you by your first names?).

Okay. So. You know what? Ian and Jesse are kinda a hot mess. Both of them. They're both this interesting mix of confidence and insecurity and longing and it totally works. Having these characters show us, immediately, who they are was comforting and relatable. They both have things they're working on or working through and they both have things they're almost scared to hope for and I love that Megan and Santino let them be flawed and stay flawed. There were no magic fixes and no perfect answers; these characters moved through each rough patch in moments of honesty and awkwardness and tension and funny conversations and through these they grew to know, understand, love, and support each other. None of this happened without the growing pains every relationship has and that's why I loved this novel so much--I could imagine each of these moments playing out in real life and I know that many people have experienced similar growing pains.

Other things I loved? I enjoyed that in this book (and the series) Megan and Santino give us a chance to explore the cyber world and all of its glory and nastiness. The segments of the online community that are toxic as well as the ones that are supportive seemed, in my limited perspective, to be accurately reflected and while it's only a taste of the vastness that is the online world, it gives this novel (and series) that much more relevance. I know that I'm not the most widely read person in the world, but I read a lot and I feel like we don't see nearly enough of how relationships of all sorts are formed and evolve online; I love that each book in this series shows us different aspects of that part of our world. I also love that each book in this series gives us characters that represent diverse backgrounds. I very much appreciated how Ian was depicted--his need to be who he needed to be--and how Jesse responded. It wasn't always pretty or easy but it was real. I've felt exactly how they've both felt--the hesitation to respond and wondering if I'm saying or doing the right thing, and the anxiety of waiting to hear back once I've hit send on something that I hope I said right. And not to be overlooked in all of this is how sexy these two are together; Ian and Jesse are hotness personified *fans self*. Also having Kai and Garrett sneak in there every once in a while is just the icing on the's fun to go back to the two who first started this series.

Maybe not the most important thing I have to say, but something I feel is important, is that I love that Jesse and Ian get to have the HEA that is perfect for them--that their being together is a blending of who they are and who they want to be; that it's supportive and not erasing. Megan and Santino, you guys are such a good team and I love what you've done in each novel in this series. I selfishly want more. I'd love to see Beau, among some of the other personalities you've introduced, have a shot at some CyberLove but if that's not in the cards, I hope to see more of your collaborations because I've loved everything you've done.

Title: Hard Wired 
Series: Cyberlove, #3 
Authors: Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell 
Publisher: Megtino Press 
Release Date: February 13, 2017 
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance / Gaymers   

Blurb:My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There's a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life. But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I've known online for years. And he'd known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends. Now we're back online, and he's acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don't plan to let him forget.

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Check out All the Books in the Cyberlove Series

Strong Signal

Fast Connection

About the Authors

Megan Erickson

  Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better. She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | FB Group        

Santino Hassell

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author. Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences. Social Media: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | FB Group | Patreon   

Friday, February 17, 2017

REVIEW: Royally Screwed by Emma Chase


Shel: This novel is the ultimate modern day fairy tale--there's a prince, a woman running a business that's days away from foreclosure, some interesting family dynamics, and a few nefarious people in the mix.  There's also laugh out loud scenes, hotter than hot chemistry, and a happy ever after that just makes your heart burst with happiness. Royally Screwed won't get you bogged down in serious stuff--it's truly a light read with only a few emotional pit stops on the way. If you haven't read this one yet and you're looking for a fun escape, grab this novel and be prepared to laugh and swoon in the fairy tale world Emma Chase has created. You'll read it in a day and be ready for the next one. In romance-landia this fun fantasy is a fantastic deviation from the dark, heavy broken hero or heroine. I highly recommend it and can tell you that the second book, Royally Matched is just as delightful. 

Court: Oh my goodness, this book was amazing. It's everything Shelley has said. It's fun. It's free spirited. I even shed a few tears, can you believe it? (Shel can totally believe it!) There were some intense moments between the two of them, and some seriously insane bad choices on a couple people's parts but I really enjoyed every single page. This world is beautifully created, and Emma Chase does not disappoint on the humor. I love the prose. The characters. The supporting characters. I am SO GLAD there will be more of this set of people, because they're really good for my brain to be around. I need more, and luckily for all of you...the next book is coming out SOON! Have fun. Enjoy this book, because Emma's writing is 100% WORTH IT! 



Nicholas Arthur Frederick Edward Pembrook, Crowned Prince of Wessco, aka His Royal Hotness, is wickedly charming, devastatingly handsome, and unabashedly arrogant; hard not to be when people are constantly bowing down to you.

Then, one snowy night in Manhattan, the prince meets a dark haired beauty who doesn't bow down. Instead, she throws a pie in his face.

Nicholas wants to find out if she tastes as good as her pie, and this heir apparent is used to getting what he wants.

Dating a prince isn't what waitress Olivia Hammond ever imagined it would be.

There's a disapproving queen, a wildly inappropriate spare heir, relentless paparazzi, and brutal public scrutiny. While they've traded in horse drawn carriages for Rolls Royces, and haven't chopped anyone's head off lately, the royals are far from accepting of this commoner.

But to Olivia, Nicholas is worth it.

Nicholas grew up with the whole world watching, and now Marriage Watch is in full force. In the end, Nicholas has to decide who he is and, more importantly, who he wants to be: a King... or the man who gets to love Olivia forever.

More info about the book and writer: