Monday, July 31, 2017

2017 July Favorites


One of us is truly very sad to see July go, mainly because that means the day job resumes and summer vacay is over. The lazy days of reading all day, hanging with the girls, and having no obligations is the absolute best! Also the best? Our picks for this month are really great reads. If you see something that looks good, click on the cover and it'll take you to Amazon.


 



 


The Red by Tiffany Reisz-- "The Red is a short novel that will check off many boxes for many readers: interesting characters and situations (I'm betting google image search will be used often by readers) and sensual erotica in blending of fantasy and reality that will hook you in from the first chapter." Our review is here.

Give Me Hell by Kate McCarthy-- "I didn't realize how much I'd missed the Badass Brigade and their hot mamas until I started reading Give Me Hell and within one paragraph I was completely entrenched in their world and simultaneously trying to speed up my reading to see how everything would be resolved, and slow down because I knew I'd be sad when it was over. Unfortunately? Fortunately?, my desire to see what would happen with Jake and Mac superseded everything and I COULD NOT STOP READING until I was finished. And guess what?! I loved every second of this read and am, in fact, really fucking sad that it's over. Seriously sad, y'all." Read more from this review here.

Trust by Kylie Scott-- "What makes this novel so readable, though, is that those harder emotional moments are balanced out with a lot of humor and vulnerability and awkwardness and I think that, especially, is something that teens will relate to. It's that jumble of all sorts of emotions that may not always seem to go together (and they way she expresses them) that makes Edie so fun to read. " From our review here.

Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker-- "KA Tucker can write anything. Right? Aren't we all in agreement? I mean seriously everything she writes has me glued to my kindle and completely absorbed--so absorbed that when I reach the ending I'm always trying to tap for the next pages and am sad when there aren't any." Take a look at what else we thought in our review, here. 

The Darkest Sunrise Duet by Aly Martinez-- "The moral of this story is that Aly Martinez knows how to pack an emotional punch and she will not hesitate to knock you out with it. She'll hit you with the sads, the happys, and the laughies and I'm telling you once you start this duet you will not be able to stop. The story of Charlotte and Porter and all of the people impacted by the disappearance of Lucas is one that will grab your attention quickly and you won't be able to put it down until you're finished (so block out some time to read uninterrupted so you don't have to yell at people when they are trying to do things like talk to you). Grab this duet and enjoy!" Our reviews for this duet are here and here.

The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent-- "Starting The Unrequited at 7 pm probably wasn't my smartest idea ever because once I started it I had to finish it. There was no way I was going to sleep without knowing how Kent was going to end this story. Having never read anything by her, I wasn't entirely convinced there would be a HEA...maybe a HFN but HEA? I wasn't sure. And you know what, because of the way Layla and Thomas were written, I was really going to be okay with however it ended with them because I believed the characters could handle it.  So I read all evening and early morning until I finished, which was about 3 am and holy hot hell, Layla and Thomas are some fucked up characters (and I mean that in the nicest way possible, I think)." Find our review here.

CHAPTER REVEAL: So Good by Nicola Rendell




Coming August 7th




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On the roof of a house outside Truelove, Maine, master carpenter Max Doyle looks down through a skylight and sees the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on. She’s naked, she’s gorgeous, and everything about her is perfect, down to the ball-busting tattoo of a rose that wraps around her hip. But it isn’t just any woman making his knees buckle. It’s his best friend, Rosie Madden. And as he stands there, mesmerized and precariously close to toppling off the roof, he knows he’ll never, ever be able to look at her the same way again.

Rosie can’t help but notice that Max is suddenly acting very strange—lots of long stares, totally tongue-tied, and not at all like the slightly cocky hunk she’s proud to call her best friend. She can’t figure it out, until later that night when Max rescues her from the world’s worst date, challenges her to a game of pool, and shows her just exactly what she’s got him thinking about. Repeatedly.

But life is complicated. Rosie’s cat, Julia Caesar, wants to eat Max’s dog Cupcake for an afternoon snack. A dream job threatens to pull them apart. And another glance through the skylight changes everything, one more time. Yet try as they might, they can’t go back to being just friends, because falling in love with the one you’ve always adored?

It feels so good.



1
Max

I wasn’t planning to see her naked—I swear to God, I wasn’t. The day was a scorcher, one of those godforsaken New England summer days that makes a guy wonder how he ever said fuck you to winter. I stood on the roof her house, three stories above the Maine woods, with a far-off view of the ocean. It was pretty, yeah, like the kind of shit real estate companies put on complimentary calendars. But in that heat, it was like standing on top of a goddamned toaster, turned all the way to burnt. I could feel that shit in my socks, straight through my work boots. At my feet was a stack of shake shingles, old school, to replace the ones that were missing. Her house had a few slow leaks, and one over her bathroom that made the ceiling look like a huge Rorschach test. She said it definitely looked like a rose in bloom, I said it definitely looked like Batman. But I told her hidden meanings wouldn’t make shit for difference when the ceiling collapsed into the tub, so there I was. Fucking miserable work, but I was glad to do it. Glad to do anything for her—anything she needed at all.
In the forest on every side around the cottage, the cicadas screeched. It sounded like a needle squeaking off a record player. I knelt down by the stack of shingles, using my utility knife to score a line through one to fit a nearby gap. I snapped it with my hands and tossed the scrap end off the edge of the roof. A trickle of sweat ran down my forehead, and I wiped my face with my forearm. One droplet got away, sparkling in the sun. It caught my eye, and I watched it fall, as it landed on the skylight window with a splat.
​And that was when it happened. Boom.
​There she was, right under me. She couldn’t have been more than six feet away, but she felt even closer. I had a direct line of sight down into her gorgeous, soft cleavage, bright and pure in the sunshine. Maybe it was the heat, or maybe it was the surprise of seeing her, but at first I didn’t really process that it was Rosie at all. My dude brain said, I want that woman.
​Then my regular brain said, Don’t be an asshole, man. It’s Rosie. Have some respect.
Respect I definitely had, but of course I’d thought about seeing her naked before. She was so fucking beautiful that any man would have thought about it. Sometimes, like right then looking down into her dress, I couldn’t fucking help it. Sometimes we’d be out doing something ordinary, like eating dinner, or I’d be changing her oil, or she’d be teaching me to do shit I should have learned at some point in the last 34 years, like iron a dress shirt without screwing up the collar, and I’d catch myself watching her cleavage rise and fall as she breathed, or thinking how nice her legs were, and I’d think, Holy hell.
Now she was directly underneath the skylight. The angle of the sun cast my shadow down the roofline, away from the skylight, so I didn’t give myself away. Like that, I watched her. I gave in to my dude brain and just took her in. Her light brown hair glinted, and a beam of light caught the curve of her shoulder.
That was when the goddamned striptease started, beginning with the left strap of her sundress.
Her movements were graceful, sexy, sassy—the sway of her hips, the shake of her shoulders. I realized I might be in real fucking trouble, because I loved that sexy sass. It wasn’t normal Rosie-cute. It was naughty, like nothing I’d ever seen her do before. I liked it so much, I couldn’t look away. She shimmied out of her sundress, and it fell to the floor in a pool at her feet. No big deal, I tried to tell myself. I’d seen her in her bikini a thousand times. This was no different from that.
Except it was, because then she reached around to undo her bra. Before I could tell myself Don’t look, dude. It’s Rosie, don’t look, it was too fucking late. The straps slid down off her shoulders, and for one perfect second got caught on her nipples, swinging in the air before falling to the floor.
Holy…
I pressed my clenched fist to my mouth and groaned into my hand. All my blood was leaving my head. The roofline was getting wobbly.
It wasn’t like I didn’t know her curves; we’d spent whole summers on the beach—I knew her shape and her softness, I knew her lines and her freckles. Every curve of Rosie Madden was sacred in my book. Fucking douchebags on the beach giving her eyes had to answer to me and my eyes, right behind her. She did that to me—I was one punch away from defending her honor, always. But this? This was different. Seeing your best friend in a bikini at a clam bake is one thing. Protecting your best friend from assholes with wandering eyes is part of the guy-girl best friend creed. But seeing your best friend, absolutely naked in her bedroom, without knowing she can see you? That was a different deal.
…Shit.
Part of me knew I should keep my eyes off of her. She thought she was in private, I had no business spying. Anyway, I didn’t want to be that guy. I hated that guy. But the other part of me, fuck. The other part of me was nothing but want.
Then she bent at the hips, and time slowed down, like some kind of stop-motion Jackie Chan kung fu sequence. All the cicadas went silent, at least in my head they did. The wind stopped blowing through the trees. It was just her, and her perfection, in the sunshine underneath me. I felt like I was on one of those glass-bottomed boats, looking at a world I never knew existed.
She tossed her bra aside, and it landed on her neatly made bed. She shimmied out of her panties, shaking her ass as she did. I growled into my fist, and that’s when I went down into a crouch.
Because as she shimmied I saw it in a V above her ass. My kryptonite. A skimpy thong.
All these years, all these decades, I’d had her pegged for cute cotton panties—pastel polka dots, thin stripes, shit that was sweet and sensible. But I was so fucking wrong. Black. Strappy. Tiny. Not sensible at all. Now it was in a rolled-up ball at her ankles. Using her toes, she plucked her panties from the floor, and caught them on one finger.
Fucking A.
She was completely naked, not a thread on her. Every thought I’d ever had got sucked out of my brain, like dishwater down the sink drain. What was left was only one true thing, and it wasn’t about her ass, or her skin, or her breasts. It was the one thing I think I’d always known but never let myself feel. Until that moment.
She is the most beautiful woman in the world.
Part of the reason I thought that was, yeah, obviously, she was fucking stunning, every inch of her straight out of a dream. Not just my dream, either. Guys would slow down on Main Street to give her the elevator stare, and I’d quietly crack my knuckles and give them don’t-you-fucking-dare stares. But the other part, the part that wasn’t in my gut but that was in my heart, was that I fucking adored her. Adored her so hard it hurt.
She crouched down to pick up her dress, lifting the delicate straps with her small, sweet fingers. She pivoted, so I had a view of her other side of her body for the first time. There it was.
The tattoo.
I groaned again. I wasn’t prepared for this shit; three stories up, that body was dangerous. It was a rose tattoo, snaking around her hip, on the milk-white skin that was always under her bikini bottoms. The part of her I’d never seen. It was serious ink, real art, not some namby-pamby temporary tattoo or some amateur shit she might’ve gotten in an hour at a tattoo parlor on a dare on a cruise to Puerto Rico. It was complicated, detailed, and artful. Multiple visits to some tattoo artist, touching that creamy skin—goddamn.
It took every fucking ounce of strength I had, but I did manage to look away. I felt as disoriented as if I’d been sucker punched. Not cotton—lace. Not cute—hot. Not my friend—my fucking fantasy.
She was so important to me, such an integral part of my world, that I’d never let myself think of her as more than what she was. She was like running water, or electricity, or the sunshine itself. She was one of those things that was perfect exactly as it was, and one of those things only an idiot would want to change. I never looked at her and thought, I wish I could have more of her than I do already. That would be like thinking, I wish I could turn that cold glass of water into a swimming pool. Or, I wish electricity came through the air. Fuck that noise. Perfect things are perfect things, and Rosie Madden was a perfect goddamned thing, from the tips of her toes to the freckles on her nose. And that rose, holy fuck, that rose.
I was strong, but not that strong, and I let my eyes move down again. She’d disappeared from view, mostly, except for the edge of her ass. I watched her rifle through her closet, and a few dresses fluttered onto her bed. On her bedside table, I caught a glimpse of the picture she always kept there, of the two of us together. The memories flew back at me like a runaway train. The first time I’d ever seen her was the day my parents and I moved to Truelove, at the start of middle school. The first time I ever saw her, she was volunteering at the community gardens. She had a smudge of dirt on her cheek, and I thought she’d looked super badass. I’d helped her dig up carrots and had been too fucking tongue-tied to say a goddamned word.
That’s how I felt, all over again times a thousand.
I’d never made a move. She’d cried on my shoulder through a line of guys who were never good enough for her. Jocks and pricks and a brief and seriously unfortunate stint with a guy who was a drummer for a reggae band who I hated so much it made me grind my teeth. But I never said shit about it. She was perfect even when she made mistakes. Tips of her toes. Freckles on her nose.
Never mind that rose. Like Banksy took on a temple.
One more time, I glanced down. Now she was sitting on her bed, and I saw that dark V shadow between her thighs. Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck. I watched her put on a pair of red panties. Equally skimpy, equally not-sensible, equally ball-busting. They were only tragic because they hid the parts of her I’d never seen before.
Christ. All. Mighty.
As the world started to spin, I realized fixing the shingles could wait. I’d been working on old houses long enough to know that if you found yourself on a dangerously sloping roof and felt like you might be less than 100% on the ball, you needed to reconsider your game plan. I needed to get my shit together—that body had me totally fucking derailed. So I made my way down the roof, basically bouldering down backward. I focused on my grip, and my steps, like a climber coming down from Everest without enough oxygen. When I got to the gutter, I worked my way around the corner, standing on the eave, and hooked my leg over my ladder, making sure to put one foot after another and keep a tight grip on every rung.
When I stepped off the ladder, I grabbed a bottle of water that she’d left for me and filled up my palm and then splashed my face. My sweat stung my eyes through the droplets of water, and I rubbed away the tears. I heard the hinges on the screen door creak. “All done?” she asked.
I opened my eyes. They stung like hell, but I didn’t give a fuck. There she was, in a dress I’d seen before. Striped and sweet. But now I knew the secret. There were red panties under there. Red. Cherry red. My eyes fell on that part of her hip that I knew was inked.
“Max?”
I managed somehow to snap out of it. “Sorry. Getting there. Spotted something weird with the skylight.”
Rosie cocked her head. “Were you up there? Above my room?”
Awesome, dude. Smooth. “Just noticed it out of the corner of my eye.”
“I don’t like you being on the roof.” She pursed her lips. “Too steep. Promise you’ll get some ropes up there or something? Promise?” She reached out and put her hand to my arm, her fingers with their short pink nails pressing into my tanned skin. I had a quick but totally unavoidable image of her gripping my forearm in a very different situation. I want that. So fucking...
Oh, for fuck’s sake.
When I didn’t answer—I knew that if I opened my mouth the first words out would be You. Me. Right Now.—she looked up at the roof and squinted into the sun. She peered suspiciously up at me and shifted her nose, kind of like a bunny. Adorable. She wasn’t very tall, so whenever she looked at me she had to lift her chin, which used to be cute. But now looked…like everything I’d ever wanted. “Have you had too much sun?”
​I was vaguely aware that she’d said some words, but I wasn’t hearing them because I realized that I couldn’t see her bra straps, so that had to mean she was she was wearing a strapless…
Knock. That. Shit. Off. “I’m good.”
“Mmm.” She nodded and furrowed her delicate eyebrows, which had never looked so pretty as they did at that moment. I didn’t even know eyebrows could be pretty. They’re eyebrows, for fuck’s sake. But suddenly I felt like for the last ten years, I’d been looking at her through a standard definition television, with a shitty cable connection. Now someone had handed me an HDMI cable, and she was in 1080 dots per inch. Christ.
“Lemme make you a sandwich. You’re acting strange.”
Rather than answer her, I dumped the remaining half a bottle of water over my head, like Andre Agassi used to do between break points at the French Open.
“Ham? Or turkey? I’ve got both. Or chicken salad!” She clapped her hands together, compressing her cleavage. “Do you want a pickle?”
She means an actual pickle, you fuckwit. “Surprise me,” I told her, and dragged my eyes off the curve of her cleavage. I grabbed the bottom of my T-shirt and pressed it to my eyes. I had to get out of there. I needed a cold shower, or a call from my tax guy, or an unexpectedly urgent trip to the DMV—anything to stop myself seeing her stark naked every goddamned time I looked at her. Anything to get my mind off that ink.
As I wiped my face, she cleared her throat, and I dropped my shirt. “What?”
She pressed her lips together and rocked back on her sandals. “Nothing!”
I followed her eyes and glanced down at my fly, but the stallion was still in the barn. “Come on,” I said, finding myself smiling right along with her. “What are you looking at?”
“Just…” She swallowed hard. “Looking good there, champ.” She glanced at my stomach, where I’d shown her my bare abs. She made a fist and gave me a mock punch, soft and sweet. “That P90X is working great for you.”
Here we go again with the fitness videos. For everything else she was—beautiful, smart, funny—she was also a fucking ball-buster sometimes. She’d worked up this whole narrative that I spent my nights with Tony Horton on my houseboat, getting cut and doing reps while I drank protein shakes with a straw straight from the blender. It was her only explanation for why I didn’t have a girlfriend. P90X it had to be, she’d said. Or maybe, she’d whispered like a co-conspirator, “Jazzercise.” Now, though, I had a better idea than ever about why I was so picky: not a single woman held a candle to her. I’d been fucking blind to it, but now the mist had burned right off. “I’ve never even seen the opening sequence. Never have. Never will.”
“They’re streaming now!”
​“Christ.”
Rosie snorted and made a long wheeeeee. “Sure. Surrrrrrre,” she said, stifling her giggle. “One ham-and-turkey, coming right up.” She spun on her sandals and disappeared into the house. Hips swinging. Red panties invisible, but not to me.
Not anymore.
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Nicola Rendell writes dirty, funny, erotic romance. She likes a stiff drink and a well-frosted cake. She is at an unnamed Ivy and prefers to remain mostly anonymous for professional reasons. She has a PhD in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from schools that shall not be named here. She loves to cook, sew, and play the piano. She realizes that her hobbies might make her sound like an old lady and she’s totally okay with that. She lives with her husband and her dogs. She is from Taos, New Mexico.


Author Links



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Friday, July 28, 2017

REVIEW: The Brightest Sunset by Aly Martinez

    

OUR REVIEW:

Shel: As you may recall, when I completed The Darkest Sunrise I was D.Y.I.N.G. because that ending was wow: Court: Heard that...wow, is right.


Shel: So, of course, when The Brightest Sunset was made available to read I DID NOT HESITATE to jump right into reading it. In my brashness to see what was happening with these characters I made one fatal error--I did not mentally prepare for the wall of emotion I was about to hit, and boy did I hit it. And then I hit it again and again and again. The Brightest Sunset picks up in the scene that ends The Darkest Sunrise and it's just as emotional, if not more, in book 2 as it was in book 1 (especially because then we get into the aftermath). As a matter of fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I think book 2 is more emotional than book 1 and that's saying a lot because book 1 was filled with scenes that tugged at my heart or made me smile. The Brightest Sunset had me crazy with angst; poor Court had to deal with this via text last night: Court: IT IS! Because we're getting to know our characters in book one, and I love how Aly sets this up. She gives us so much about each person, and we're chewing on it, and deciding what we think...then blam! Shit gets real. It hits the fan. And we're left with a WHOLE new book to really get to the nitty gritty of whatever is going on...I love that all avenues can get fleshed out this way. We have a beautiful story arc and enough pages to get what we want out of it and be wanting more only because Aly's writing is so good, and not because the story wasn't complete. 

Shel: OMG. The 2nd Aly Martinez book is trying to kill me.
Court: I'm sure! She's so good at that.
Shel: I'm about to start pacing like I'm watching the Saints in the playoffs. If she doesn't give me a break...
Court: Lmao!
Shel: I keep putting it down and grabbing it back because I CANNOT handle it.
Shel: FML
Court: Lol!!! No sleep til Brooklyn for you.
Shel: No joke!

And then this morning, after I finished it at late o'clock last night: 

Shel: I've got a huge book hangover thanks to Aly Martinez. 

Shel: These texts do not lie. I seriously was pacing and throwing down my Kindle only to pick it right back up because I couldn't handle what was happening or about to happen but I had to know what the hell was going on. Court: She made me absolutely speed read this book because in turn I too had to know immediately what was happening! And did breathe a lot like that. 


Shel: Just as I was reaching peak anxiety levels, Aly Martinez had mercy on me and I was able to begin to breathe again and smile again and feel all warm and fuzzy and then Ka-Blam! She hit me again with  another case of major feels. GDI!!! Dude. Once again my heart was pounding and I was frantically reading to see if what I thought was happening was happening--the pages could not turn fast enough. (P.S. Brady, you are such a turd. Why are you such an asshat?!!!). And then she finally relented and gave me an ending that was so sweet and tugged at my heartstrings--it was one of those smiling while crying moments. Court: Ugh. There were a lot of times that certain characters made me want to smack them, then love them, hug them...high five them (especially her momma) and ugh, this was soooo gooooood! I say that a lot, but y'all. Beautiful book. Beautiful duo, and I absolutely could not get enough of the characters. The premise was intense, and I really had no idea where the story might go and that is a beautiful thing! 


Shel: The moral of this story is that Aly Martinez knows how to pack an emotional punch and she will not hesitate to knock you out with it. She'll hit you with the sads, the happys, and the laughies and I'm telling you once you start this duet you will not be able to stop. The story of Charlotte and Porter and all of the people impacted by the disappearance of Lucas is one that will grab your attention quickly and you won't be able to put it down until you're finished (so block out some time to read uninterrupted so you don't have to yell at people when they are trying to do things like talk to you). Grab this duet and enjoy! Court: I really second this idea. Buy the books. Make time to read them, and then literally get sucked into the wormhole of Aly Martinez writing world because we have literally loved and devoured EVERY SINGLE ONE we have read. Immediately. It's like we have Aly-itis, and you should officially be diagnosed...A Great read, and I'm so glad to have read it.

The Brightest Sunset (The Darkest Sunrise Duet, #2)

Purchase it Now

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Synopsis:


Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.
Bullshit.
Words destroyed me.
“I’m sorry. She didn’t make it.”
“Daddy, he can’t breathe!”
“There’s nothing more we can do for your son.”
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.
Lies.
Those syllables and letters became my executioner. I told myself that, if I didn’t acknowledge the pain and the fear, they would have no power over me. But, as the years passed, the hate and the anger left behind began to control me.
Two words—that was all it took to plunge my life into darkness.
“He’s gone.”
In the end, it was four soft, silky words that gave me hope of another sunrise.
“Hi. I’m Charlotte Mills.”
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The Darkest Sunrise (The Darkest Sunrise Duet, #1)

Buy it Now

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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You won't want to miss this amazing series!

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AUTHOR INFORMATION:

 Originally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her four young children. Never one to take herself too seriously, she enjoys cheap wine, mystery leggings, and baked feta. It should be known, however, that she hates pizza and ice cream, almost as much as writing her bio in the third person. She passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a super-sized tumbler of wine by her side.  
AUTHOR LINKS:

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NOW LIVE: Alex in Wonderland by Max Monroe




Disclaimer: Exercise caution while reading. Evidence shows that Matt Hadder's vibrant sexiness and alpha manner may lead to confusion, arousal, and questioning the necessity of one's own moral code.
*Authors may not responsible for any subsequent illegal activity.

BUY LINKS:

Google Play: Coming soon!


From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Max Monroe comes a new, sexy, and exciting twist on fairytales.

I’m Matt Hadder. 
I’ve been called ruthless, savage—even brutal—by the men and women who work for me. And I’ve earned my reputation.

Wonderland Inc., a party planning organization for every major player in the world, is Oz, and I’m its Wizard. I can make anything—drugs, prostitutes, deals—appear for a night and disappear just as quickly.

This doesn’t make me good or bad—it makes me essential.

Wonderland Inc. was my life, until a beautiful contradiction of innocence and impurity, obedience and rebelliousness named Alex Little stepped in and turned both of our worlds upside down.

Welcome to Wonderland, Alex. 
A place where everything appears normal. 
But we’re all mad.