Monday, October 26, 2020

REVIEW: Man in Charge by Laurelin Paige


  MAN IN CHARGE (Man in Charge Duet #1) by Laurelin Paige Release Date: October 27th    



Man on Top followed by Man in Charge are such fun, escapist reads. Man on Top starts with a bang (heeehee, I couldn't help myself) and is the perfect bite sized set up for Man in Charge, the first book in this duet. 

Speaking of the first book, am I the only one who had throwback vibes to the romance community circa 2014? I loved it. Rich, mysterious, hints at unhappy family life kazillionaire and bold, compassionate, up and coming but not made it yet heroine updated for the 2020 reader, anyone? Surely you felt it too? It was part waiting for the other shoe to fall, because you knew that it had to, and part sexy fun and thinking, yes, girl--do your thing! The angst of the impending cliffhanger and the inevitable thing that was bound to happen had me cringing and flipping pages as fast as I could. And now, of course, I'm eager to see how Laurelin Paige tortures her characters (ahem, readers) and then gets us to that happily ever after. Fortunately for us, we won't have to wait too long--November will be here before we know it and I'm so here for it!





   Blurb: The Sebastians own this city. Hell, they own the whole world. All I want is one little piece of it, a corner that I can call my own. So when my boss runs away to “find herself”, I seize the opportunity and dive head first into the Sebastian’s glamorous universe. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted—fast paced and high stakes—and, even though I don’t fit in, I’m excellent at faking it. Until I come face to face with the man in charge, Scott Sebastian, the arrogant, playboy heir with the mind of a devil and the body of a god and a mouth I can’t stop thinking about. He’s infuriating. He’s a distraction. He’s the man who wants me in his bed as much as I want to be there. And, if I get too close, he’ll be the one person who could expose me for what I really am—a fraud.    


  About the Author: With millions of books sold worldwide, Laurelin Paige is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author. She is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Killing Eve or Letterkenny, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She's also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn't do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio. She is represented by Rebecca Friedman.


REVIEW: All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne



All Scot and Bothered is the 3rd or 4th novel I've read by Kerrigan Byrne and she's definitely a one click for me. The minute I start reading her work, I am immediately engaged in the characters and the plot and find myself speeding through it, even while lamenting that I'll be finished with it because of the speed I'm flying through it. This novel, was exactly that experience--addictive, hard to put down, and supremely satisfying. 

This novel was the second in a series of the Red Rogues and it featured Cecilia and Ramsey. From the first moment they shared a page, the sparks were flying and the conundrum was evident. I loved her innocence, independence, and strong sense of self and I loved his in ability to resist her. Their push and pull was angsty and perfect; I loved that he tried so hard but was just so unable to put her out of his mind and that she, too, was smitten. Gah. I'm just smiling thinking about them.

The plot and the ideals that the women of the Red Rogues hold are equally addicting. I found myself intrigued by the mystery of the codex and while I wasn't stunned by the big reveal, I was more surprised than I usually am. I also love the idea of these women and their stories and backgrounds and how loving and supportive they are of each other--I'm very much looking forward to the third novel in this series.

As I told Court the other day, I absolutely Kerrigan Byrne and am dying to read her backlist and everything that comes out in the future. If you're new to her work, you should pick up one of her novels--you will not be disappointed!


Saturday, October 24, 2020

REVIEW: Follow Me Darkly by Helen Hardt


I've seen Helen Hardt's novels in the years we've been blogging but for one reason or another, or none in particular, I've never gotten around to reading anything by her. So while I was cruising around NetGalley the other day, looking for something new and different, I saw Follow Me Darkly and thought, what the heck, let's see what this is all about, and requested it. The NetGalley gods were kind and before I knew it, hurricane days gave me time off work and a new book to try. 

My initial thought when I looked at the cover was that it had that old school FSOG feel to it. Are you seeing that too? So I went into the reading wondering what, if any, similarities there would be. I'm not sure if going into it with that mindset made me see various nods to that famous book, if I was imagining it, or what (so I asked Court to read to confirm or deny what I thought I was seeing) but I definitely saw some easy comparisons to FSOG. That being said, this wasn't some knock off--it definitely had it's own thing going, and it's evident that Helen Hardt has a lot of writing experience. The pacing and dialogue and building tension worked well. 

The story of Skye and Braden is one part insta-chemistry. These two feel the tingles early and often. Their sexytime starts almost instantly and is a constant. If you're looking for pages of erotica, featuring a bossy and brooding alpha male, this book has got you covered.

The story is one part push and pull--they both want a sense of control but really only one of them seems to have it at any given time. While it would seem obvious who has the ultimate control, it's never just that one person. Sure, he has money and power and a controlling demeanor, but he can't stay away from her and that makes her a pretty powerful figure, doesn't it? To be fair, she's equally addicted to him and his orgasm giving, so while she has THE say so when it comes to what he wants, she gives in freely. 

The story is one part mysterious history. He has a secret. She wants to know. Simple, right? Nope. It appears, from the ending of book 1, that it is and will be more complicated. I have a feeling we're going to think we know certain things and then we'll find out that there's a lot more to it than we suspect. 

As to the nods to FSOG, you've probably already picked up on some--he's a powerful rich dude, she's a young up and coming; he wants her to join him in a world she's unfamiliar with; there are some touching things that remind me of Christian (did you see those too, Court?); and of course, the secret, that seems to involve a certain someone, and I'm assuming some lurking danger.

All this to say that this novel was super easy to devour in an afternoon. Parts of it hit for me, parts of it seemed over the top, but true to form--I'll be reading what comes next to see how it all goes down. 



I’ve always been a control freak. But he makes me crave submission…

Working for a hotel heiress and social media influencer may not be my dream job, but at least it allows me time to do what I really love—take photographs. Pretty good for a wholesome farm girl from Kansas trying to make it in Boston. Life may not be easy working for a diva, but at least I know what to expect.

Until blue-collar billionaire Braden Black strides into the office. He’s beyond handsome and sexy, but also domineering with a definite hard edge. I’m not sure why he’s interested in me, but within a few weeks, he’s showing me a world I never knew existed.

He’s opened up a side of me I can only face in the dark, and it’s quickly becoming an obsession. How can I give up something this addictive—even if his secrets could ultimately destroy me?

Thursday, October 22, 2020

REVIEW: The Queen by Tiffany Reisz


This summer of quarantining has had me exploring new writers and returning to ones who've created worlds that I want to escape into. Tiffany Reisz's The Original Sinners world is one that brings me comfort and security; I know I love these characters and I know I'll enjoy the escape the minute I open the book.

The Queen was a surprisingly emotional book for me and I suspect it may have been for many fans of this series too. I don't think I was prepared for how intense the years of discord between Nora, Kingsley, and Soren would be. The struggle for Nora and King to live without their priest was real but needed. I felt for Nora because I could feel her deep desire to be her own person and yet her even deeper desire to belong to Soren. I understood her wanting things to be on her own terms and to read through that pain and longing was emotional and so good. 

I was equally unprepared for the pain that Soren conveyed. Reading his dialogue and his reactions ... his struggle and knowing that he knew what he was doing and the pain it caused them all was ....umf...intense. 

This novel got me good, y'all. I had to put it down a few times because I just got so caught up in it.

It wasn't all intense emotions, though. They all came well equipped with their snarky banter and quips and I'm always here for that. And of course there were sexy scenes and a supporting cast of characters we've all come to love. The Queen also filled in many of the gaps I had in how certain parts of their collective history came to be. The notes and research and memory Tiffany Reisz must have for these characters--I cannot imagine. 

I remember the build to the release of this novel. It was one of those things that readers were excited about and yet dreading because it felt like an ending. In many ways that bittersweet was evident--the ending was perfect but just sad to think that it wouldn't continue on forever. The one benefit of waiting years to read it is that not only are their other Tiffany Reisz books to dive into but with Priest now out, I know that maybe The Original Sinners may never be again but these characters will live to see another page.



Once upon a time, Nora and Søren made a fateful deal—if he gave her everything, she would give him forever. The time has finally come to keep their promises.

Out of money and out of options after her yearlong exile, Eleanor Schreiber agrees to join forces with Kingsley Edge, the king of kink. After her first taste of power as a Dominant, Eleanor buries her old submissive self and transforms into Mistress Nora, the Red Queen. With the help of a mysterious young man with a job even more illicit than her own, Nora squares off against a cunning rival in her quest to become the most respected, the most feared Dominatrix in the Underground.

While new lovers and the sweet taste of freedom intoxicate Nora, she is tempted time and time again by Søren, her only love and the one man who refuses to bow to her. But when Søren accepts a new church assignment in a dangerous country, she must make an agonizing choice—will the queen keep her throne and let her lover go, or trade in her crown for Søren’s collar?

With a shattering final confession, the last link in the chain is forged in The Original Sinners saga. It’s the closing chapter in a story of salvation, sacrifice and the multitude of scars we collect in the name of ecstasy—and love.

Originally published in 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

EXCERPT: Man in Charge by Laurelin Paige


  MAN IN CHARGE (Man in Charge Duet #1) by Laurelin Paige Release Date: October 27th  
  MAN ON TOP #0.5 


  Blurb: The Sebastians own this city. Hell, they own the whole world. All I want is one little piece of it, a corner that I can call my own. So when my boss runs away to “find herself”, I seize the opportunity and dive head first into the Sebastian’s glamorous universe. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted—fast paced and high stakes—and, even though I don’t fit in, I’m excellent at faking it. Until I come face to face with the man in charge, Scott Sebastian, the arrogant, playboy heir with the mind of a devil and the body of a god and a mouth I can’t stop thinking about. He’s infuriating. He’s a distraction. He’s the man who wants me in his bed as much as I want to be there. And, if I get too close, he’ll be the one person who could expose me for what I really am—a fraud.   ***************************   Excerpt: “Oh my God, he was a Sebastian,” I repeated to myself.” There are several of them around here,” a voice said at my side. An annoyingly delicious and familiar voice. “Dime a dozen.” I turned to find myself face-to-face with the stupid-hot player, and damn if he wasn’t even hotter close up. “You,” I said, a bit scornfully because I was feeling contemptuous about the way he lit every nerve in my body on fire. “You,” he said in turn. His tone seemed to both appreciate my scorn and know full well the source of it. “I was hoping we’d meet again.” “I was hoping we wouldn’t.” “Funny, I don’t believe you.” He wasn’t an idiot, and the truth was glaringly evident. I couldn’t stop staring. My eyes were magnetically drawn to him. He was so gorgeous, it made me need to take a seat, and I was already sitting. His hair was lighter, I realized, than I’d figured in the dark. Brownish-red with golden hues, so perfectly messy in distribution that it had to be natural. His eyes were a killer blue. I’d always been a sucker for blue eyes. And for stupid-hot player types. It was like he’d been ordered up for me specifically, a Tessa Turani cocktail guaranteed to make me mind-numbingly drunk from just looking at him. “Can I buy you a shot?” he asked, as if I needed alcohol when he was in my system. Somehow I managed to pull my gaze away. “It’s an open bar.” “In that case, I can afford to buy you two.” He summoned the bartender who hadn’t gone far, that nosy little spy. “Four shots of…” Blue Eyes looked at me. “Tequila all right?” How had he known? “The source of many a bad decision.” “Tequila it is.” He was so smooth. Much smoother than the liquor would be, I knew from experience. Yet, I didn’t object when the bartender put the four shots in front of us, along with a shaker of salt and a bowl of limes. Just seeing the setup made me want to take my clothes off. Or maybe it was Blue Eyes that did that. He knew how to fill a tux, and I had a feeling he looked even better with it off. He and the bartender knew exactly where this was going. How dumb was I? I held up a single shot. “A little obvious, don’t you think?” “That I want to be one of your bad decisions?”   


  About the Author: With millions of books sold worldwide, Laurelin Paige is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author. She is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Killing Eve or Letterkenny, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She's also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn't do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio. She is represented by Rebecca Friedman.


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The Virgin by Tiffany Reisz


I love that this series is a series of frame stories within a frame of the entire series. There's something comforting about picking up a read and knowing a little of what to expect and the thing I've appreciated about this series is that for a while now I've known where the journey ends. I've learned that it's not the SHOCKING! ending that I crave in this series; it's the journey to get to where I know I'm going that holds my attention. 

Don't get me wrong, Nora and King and Soren all have surprises up their sleeves but that's just an added bonus to the storytelling that's happening in this series. In The Virgin, we learn what Nora was up to in the year she lived in her mother's convent and how she became a writer and we learn how Kingsley meets and falls madly in love with Juliette. So much to love about these stories told in a parallel time and universe--all being told to us through the lens of sharing a bedtime story on the cusp of very special wedding. 

I'm racing through these novels. I'm helpless against these characters and their long and storied pasts and I know I'm going to be incredibly sad to get to the last book but I'm planning on enjoying the journey to get there. 



For years, Kingsley Edge warned Eleanor the day would come when she, the mistress of a well-respected Catholic priest, would have to run. She always imagined if that day came, she’d be running with Søren. Instead, she’s running from him.

Fearing Søren and Kingsley will use their power and influence to bring her back, Eleanor takes refuge at the one place the men in her life cannot follow. Behind the cloistered gates of the convent where her mother has taken orders, Eleanor hides from the man she loves and hates in equal measure.

With Eleanor gone, the lights have gone out in Kingsley’s kingdom. When he learns the reason she left, he, too, turns his back on Søren and runs. On a beach in Haiti, Kingsley meets Juliette, the one woman who could save him from his sorrows. But only if he can save her first.

Eleanor can hide from Søren but she can’t hide from her true nature. A virginal novice at the abbey sends Eleanor down a path of sexual awakening, but to follow this path means leaving her lover behind, a sacrifice Eleanor refuses to make.

The lure of the forbidden, the temptation to sin and the price of passion have never been higher, and Eleanor and Kingsley will have to pay it if they ever want to go home again.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

REVIEW: Snapped by Alexa Martin

I absolutely 1 million percent LOVE this series. Every single one of these books is wonderful. They combine so many things I enjoy: sisterhood and bonding, hilarious characters and scenarios, swoony athletes, heartfelt storylines, and the sense that these stories are rooted in a realistic experience. I will forever be grateful for stumbling upon the first novel in this series, every single novel is a complete delight to delve into. I couldn't possibly pick one as a favorite butttttttttt I will say that Snapped is easily at the top of the stack for me.

This particular novel stands out for all of the things mentioned: the friendship bonds are strong, the comedy hits every time, and the hero is a quiet, strong, disciplined character. It's the main thrust of the plot that really grabbed my attention and kept it: equity in football when it comes to black athletes, coaches, owners, and retired players. I didn't know I was looking for this as a major theme until it appeared and I then I fell even harder for this series than I already had. I appreciated how Alexa Martin approached all of the nuances and also really educated me about some things I hadn't even considered (the retired players and their benefits--I HAD NO IDEA!!). If I have any gripes it's that I wish I had more of this novel to read. 

The Lady Mustangs were in full effect in Snapped and I truly adore them all. Actually, reading this novel has me wanting to reread the entire series all over again. But there was one wife I'm hoping we see more of in a future novel: Vonnie. And if I'm going to be really greedy? I'd love for some of the new secondary characters to have a novel of their own too. I guess what I'm saying is that I would love for this series to never end but if it does, then I hope that Alexa Martin has more things up her writing sleeve because I'm a HUGE fan. 

Elliot Reed is living her best life—or pretending to. She owes it to her dad’s memory to be happy and make the most of her new job as Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs. Things are going well until star quarterback Quinton Howard Jr. decides to use the field as his stage and takes a knee during the national anthem.

As the son of a former professional athlete, Quinton knows the good, the bad, and the ugly about football. He's worked his entire life to gain recognition in the sport, and now that he has it, he’s not about to waste his chance to change the league for better. Not even the brilliant but infuriating Elliot, who the Mustangs assign to manage him, will get Quinton back in line.
A rocky initial meeting leads to more tension between Quinton and Elliot. But as her new job forces them to spend time together, Elliot realizes they may have more in common than she could've imagined. With her job and his integrity on the line, this is one coin toss that nobody can win.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

REVIEW: The Bribe by Willa Nash



Shel: The Bribe is Devney Perry writing as Willa Nash —a whole new adventure with a writer many already adore. Court: YES! So exciting!  

Shel: The Bribe seems to be laying the foundation for a series of interesting characters, small town romance, and intrigue. In this particular novel, Lucy and Duke’s, we not only get to see the sparks flying between these two wonderfully sweet characters, we also get the lay of the land in Calamity. We meet characters who just feel destined to have their own novels, and we begin to create a map of back stories and locations that will most likely feel like home by the time the series is finished. Court: And these are my favorite. I love stories like this, but I also like writing that gets you sucked into a world that you can see and feel and really are invested in right away. These characters have a lot to them, and the writing is great and really is what makes that possible. And as I say a lot, companion novels are my favorite as are mountain men and law enforcement so it is a trifecta of a series start that I am personally very excited for. 

Shel: And while I’m not saying a lot about Lucy and Duke—it’s not for a lack of enjoying the characters. I did. They’re the salt of the earth type people-characters easy to like and root for. Their conflicts are minimal and easy to rectify and their love story is sweet. But I all seriousness, while I enjoyed the escape their novel gave me, I equally enjoyed imagining where the rest of this series will go. Court: Exactly. They're easily enjoyed characters from the get go. How we meet our MC's is a fun escape, and how things progress from there is just a lovely time spent with this book. I love characters I can root for, and really fall in love with and these two fit that bill to a T. 

Shel: Devney Perry fans are going to have fun with this new thing she’s trying because even under a pen name, it still feels like home. Court: YAS! I agree. I am in favor of this and can't wait to read more from this series! 

The Bribe by Willa Nash is now live!

Duke Evans didn't expect to interrupt a beautiful woman in a staring contest with a bison on his favorite hiking trail. He also didn't expect to see her again after rescuing her from the surly beast. As the sheriff in Calamity, Montana, he's had his fair share of surprises but none as pleasant as pulling over a shiny black car and finding his mysterious hiking companion behind the wheel.
Only, she lied to Duke. She gave him a name as fake as her hair color. According to her driver's license, her real name is Lucy Ross, the famous country music singer whose sudden disappearance has been a hot topic in the media over the past two weeks.
He's not sure why Lucy lied about her identity or why she's in Calamity. And she's not talking. Instead, she offers him a bribe to keep her secret.
But Duke doesn't want her money. He wants to know why this woman is on the run. And as long as the star shines on his badge, he's going to find out.

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Meet Willa

Willa Nash is USA Today Bestselling Author Devney Perry's alter ego, writing contemporary romance stories for Kindle Unlimited. Lover of Swedish Fish, hater of laundry, she lives in Washington State with her husband and two sons. She was born and raised in Montana and has a passion for writing books in the state she calls home.

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REVIEW: Varsity Rulebreaker by Ginger Scott


We're so excited to celebrate the release of 𝐕𝐚𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐑𝐮𝐥𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐫 (The Varsity Series, Book 3) by Ginger Scott? We are in love with Cannon and have a hard girl crush on Hollis! This is the final book in a mature YA romance series! Check out the excerpt below and one-click yours today!

Varsity Rulebreaker (The Varsity Series Book 3) by Ginger Scott
Cover Designer: Ginger Scott


Shel: The last installment of this series, might be the best. It's a tough call because I've enjoyed them all but I really really love the story of Hollis and Cannon.

Court: I really think you're right! It is hard, because they were each so good on their own but I am really glad we get this series to really enjoy each couple, get the best of Ginger's writing, and also get a really great friend group that we get to see in various scenes in each book together. I love companion series and this one made me very happy! 

Shel: Ginger Scott digs into the various challenges of being a female athlete trying to break into a male sport, in addition to the challenges it brings to a high schooler, at a new school, with your dad as the coach of the team. WOWZER. Hollis faces an uphill climb from the very beginning of this novel and it's a fairly unrelenting climb at that. Between sexist teammates and a parent who is on the warpath, it felt hopeless at times. It's interesting because at first even Cannon contributed to the strife and conflict that was at the heart of this novel. But it was oh so rewarding to see him quickly see the talent and perseverance Hollis had. Seeing him overcome some of his own personal struggles and really grow into the person who would be a match for Hollis was the perfect ending to this series. He'd been a mysterious guy in the background who was now one of main stars and having him plus our other favorites in the series have some page time made this such a fulfilling end to the series. Plus the series epilogue was just the cherry on top of the most delicious sundae. 

Court: THANK THE LORD we get dual POV! That is what I think made this even better for me. We get in both of their heads, and they're really dealing with some pretty in depth problems...we get to see them navigate things that they go through a gamut of emotions for, and ultimately struggle with doing the right thing sometimes and what that is. It is the ideal coming of age novel, because they're seniors and dealing with some real world things for their lives and how they grow like Shel said and conquer (or don't) certain things is really good for making me think and how I would've responded in the same situation. Also, as usual, Ginger and her epic first kiss scene writing, as well as just how real these two are in their journey...just made me over the moon for this book!

Shel: While I'm sad to see these guys go (and am ever hopeful that we'll see them pop up in an anthology or a short piece), I'm so glad that I got to "meet" them. This series reminds me of some of the first novels of Ginger's that we read and are definitely now going in the "favorite" stack. Court: Yes, this is 100% a favorite! Her writing, as usual, is divine, and I absolutely LOVE this book!  

★☆★Read FREE w/Kindle Unlimited★☆★

Vote for Varsity Rulebreaker on the October 2020 Most-Anticipated Reads list:

Varsity Rulebreaker

Book 3 in The Varsity Series by Ginger Scott

Hollis Taylor is allowed to break the rules. She’s coach’s little girl. And she’s good. If that means she gets to bump one of the guys for the starting catcher’s job on the Public High baseball team, then the others on the squad better suck it up and deal.

But breaking rules has taken Cannon Jennings far in life. One of the nation’s top pitching prospects, he came here to throw to his cousin and show college recruiters everything he could do on the mound. Taking his signs from a girl was not part of his blueprint, especially one that screwed over his favorite relative and best friend.

Too bad he broke the biggest rule of all before he knew exactly who she was.
It was just a New Year’s kiss. Totally forgettable. Especially under the circumstances.
So why can’t he stop thinking about it?

This is book 3 in The Varsity Series by Ginger Scott. You can start this series of stand-alone mature YA sports romances now with Varsity Heartbreaker and Varsity Tiebreaker.

“Well?” I lift a brow.

His stare is decisive. No more blinking lashes to lull me into submission. I’m being dissected solely by the dominant glow of his swimming-pool blue eyes. His nose is pink from being out in today’s sun and reflective clouds. His wet hair is drying right before my eyes into touchable waves that I imagine in my fingers. I’m thankful my arms are crossed to hide them because I can feel them twitch.


I flinch at his sudden answer, most of me prepared for him to bail on this little wager. By the way he rounds the table and motions with his hand for me to step back, I start to tremble at the knees. Cue ball palmed in his left hand, stick grasped in his right, he steps into the space between me and the table and comes close enough that I can feel the warmth of the breath he exhales from his nose.

“Pardon,” he says, and I step back several feet to lean against a pub table.

Cannon positions the ball a little off-center then dabs one more dusting of chalk on the end of his cue, blowing the dust away while he looks at me, his eyes focusing away from the tip of the stick and onto my gaze. His mouth quirks on one side, and it’s in that small look that I know I’m done. I’m so fucking screwed.

He lunges over the table in a smooth pivot, bringing the stick back slowly and getting the feel of the slide before letting it rip, knocking the balls in all directions and quickly sinking one of each—a solid and a stripe. His eyes on the center of the table, he rounds it, his tongue sticking out the way Michael Jordan’s always did when he was deciding whether to put the game away with a dunk or a little fadeaway from the top of the key.

“You got a preference?” he asks.

“I…well…” I stumble on my words, his sudden confidence really nailing me to the floor.

He chuckles then bends down, lining up a shot at a solid.

“It’s alright,” he says, quickly leaning his head to one side to glance up at me and wink. “It won’t matter.”

And it doesn’t. He proceeds to sink his initial target, and then every other solid ball on the table, sometimes two at a time. I’m half expecting him to drain the eight-ball without even looking. He has to work at it a little, though, what with so many of my balls still on the table and in his way. He calls the side pocket and when the ball falls in easily, I breathe out heavily enough to flap my lips, then I drop my stick.

“Two out of three?” I scrunch my lips up with my pathetic attempt to regain my edge.

“You think it will matter?” He lays his stick on the table and saunters toward me.

My nervous knee begins to twitch, and I find myself rocking where I stand to try to keep my legs busy and my blood flowing. Cannon stops about a foot away from me, and he looks down at the floor as he slips his hands into the pockets of his jeans. I draw in his scent, letting it numb my nerves like the venom of a scorpion. I got sloppy, arrogant even. And that trust I felt so sure of is waning a little now that he’s calling in his bet. I gave him a free pass to surprise me, to ask something of me or dare me or…that’s the thing. It’s the unknown. I did that. I did that!

My hands balled into fists at my sides, I roll my shoulders back and lift my chin, determined not to let my worry shine through.

“Bet’s a bet,” I say, shaking my head with tight lips. I had no idea I was going up against a pool shark.

“That it is,” he says, glancing up while keeping his head low. The way he peers at me through the strands of his hair that now shadow his eyes is both ominous and so freaking enticing.

“Five a.m. Saint Peters Gulch. Tomorrow.” He leans in and for a moment I think he’s going to kiss me, but instead he pauses while forward on his toes. “I’ll let you know what you owe there and then.”

I swallow and he sees it, his eyes darting to that place on my neck that betrays my bravado.

“Fine,” I gurgle out.

He laughs lightly and falls back to give me some space.

“Relax, Hollis. I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it.” With one last wink, he brings his hands from his pockets and claps them a few times to remove any leftover chalk. I force myself not to look over my shoulder as he leaves, and I keep that promise to myself, spending the next twenty minutes playing out the rest of the balls on our table and realizing I never even had a chance.

𝐕𝐚𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐫
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𝐕𝐚𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐓𝐢𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐫
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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

REVIEW: Pride and Papercuts by Staci Hart


The Austen series is coming to an end. The final book in the series is LIVE! I'm so excited to read Pride & Papercuts, a modern love story inspired by Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice! Have you grabbed your copy yet?

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I can't think of a better send off of this series than Pride and Papercuts. Laney and Liam were perfectly infuriating and passionate and exactly what you'd want to read in this modern take of Pride and Prejudice

From the first novel in this series I've been curious about Laney and her stand-offishness when it came to the family business; I suspected it had something to do with the expectations of her mother and her gender but I wasn't sure. My suspicions were confirmed and I found that rather than be annoyed at Laney's stubbornness when it came to her decisions, I really identified with her. I, too, am stubborn and passionate and sometimes make decisions guided by those traits and I sometimes felt like I was looking into a mirror when I read how conflicted she felt about how she felt about working for the family business. It was both comforting and informative to see her work through it all and begin to find a way to make herself and her family happy. 

Additionally, I wondered who would snag Laney's heart and make it their own. Enter Liam. The most infuriating man Staci Hart could possibly create for Laney. He was so insulting, so controlling, so seemingly ice cold and so quick to put his foot in his mouth when he spoke to Laney. Unbeknownst to her, he was also completely smitten with her, burning so hot for her, even when he didn't know it, that we all knew when they FINALLY got it together, it was going to be so good. And it was. But man oh man did Staci Hart make us work for that. Laney and Liam were two snarling cats anytime they were close to each other. Their immediate first reaction to each other was to be as contentious as possible even when their brains and hearts were telling them to SHUT UP. It was so much fun to read.

I loved every second of Pride and Papercuts so much so that I tried to drag out my reading for as long as possible. I loved the conflict and tension between Laney and Liam, the family drama, and the added bonus of Jett and Georgie's romance, as well as seeing the Bennet family one last time. I cannot speak highly enough of this series, and especially this novel, and cannot wait to put a physical copy on my bookshelf. 

Hate is a strong word.

Depending on the company, loathe is a good substitute. Abhor might be a little fancy, but it gets the job done. But the word that really sums up how I feel about Liam Darcy is, without question, hate.

He doesn’t seem to think much of me either. The second he lays his fault-seeking eyes on me, he sets out to oppose me. Everything about him is imposing, as if he consumes the nearby air to power the rise and fall of his broad chest, and it’s clear he resents my presence on his advertising team. Every idea I have is shot down. Every olive branch I offer is set on fire by nothing more than the blistering coals he calls eyes.

In return, I light him up with my words.

It’s not as if he can dismiss me, since I work for his client, Wasted Words. Instead, he’s forced to tolerate me, which seems the closest we’ll ever be to friends. Fine by me.

I can be civil and still hate Liam Darcy.

But if there’s more to him than his exterior shows, I won’t be able to hate him at all. I might stumble over that line between love and hate and fall right into his arms.

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey. When she's not writing, she's reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Saturday, October 10, 2020

REVIEW: Better Than People by Roan Parrish



Every Roan Parrish novel I've read, I've enjoyed and Better Than People continues that trend.

This is the story of Simon and Jack. Simon is probably the shyest character I've ever come across and Jack, a cantankerous one--at least on the surface. Putting them together might seem insane but the way that Roan Parrish writes them, they truly work. As we get to know them, we learn that Jack is really intuitive and kind and battling some hurts and Simon is witty and gentle and ....also battling some hurts.Watching them in my mind's eye as they get to know each other and fall in love was heartwarming and I was so glad that the conflict was relatively gentle--I seriously could not have handled Roan Parrish doing anything too torturous to these two. 

The thing I most appreciated about this novel was Parrish's treatment of Simon's shyness and anxiety. She never had Jack try to "fix" Simon and she gave me some really great insight into what some of my more anxious students might be feeling. It was instructive and helpful and a really good reminder about how it costs absolutely nothing to extend kindness and grace to anyone who needs it. 

As the title of the series indicates, I believe we're going to see more of the secondary characters and I look forward to seeing that, as well as how Simon and Jack are perceived from an outside perspective, should we be so lucky to see them again.

My only complaint is that Jack was completely fascinated with a house miles away and that fascination just kind of disappeared. I'm hoping it's because it's going to tie into another book in the Corbin Wale was tied into this one. 

A very solid, heartwarming read that has me excited for chilly, sweater weather. 



Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs.

Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise.

Being with Jack—talking, walking, making out—is a game changer for Simon. And Simon’s company certainly…eases the pain of recovery for Jack. But making a real relationship work once Jack’s cast comes off will mean compromise, understanding and lots of love.

Monday, October 5, 2020

REVIEW: Every Little Thing by Samantha Young


Ever since I got glimpses of Bailey and Vaughn's interactions in The One Real Thing, I've been wondering what the combination of her fire and his ice would great. Turns out it creates a lot of steamy encounters, a lot of denial, and lot of interesting conflict. Both Bailey and Vaughn have deep seated hurts from previous parts of their lives and it's these hurts that impede their abilities to like or trust each other. And yet...and yet they do find ways to let their guards down, only to have them flying up again and again. It's through desperation to avoid what's happening to them and the explanations that their friends and family members demand that the true stories of Bailey and Vaughn's hearts come out and once that happens, we all know it's only a matter of time until their hearts will find each other. Their sparks when they resisted and when they didn't resist (!!) kept this novel moving quickly. 

Not only was the story of Bailey and Vaughn interesting, the secondary characters have been woven in so well, that I'm very much looking forward to knowing what their back stories are and who their love interests will be.

Hartwell, Delaware—the perfect place to get away from it all, and find what you never knew you needed…

Bailey Hartwell has many reasons to feel content—her successful business, a close circle of friends, and her steady boyfriend…even if their romance feels staid after ten years without a serious commitment. The only challenge in her life comes in the form of sexy businessman Vaughn Tremaine. She thinks the ex-New Yorker acts superior and that he considers her a small-town nobody. But when Bailey’s blindsided by a betrayal, she’s shocked to discover Vaughn is actually a decent guy.

Vaughn admires Bailey’s free spirit, independence, and loyalty. As his passion for her has grown, his antagonism toward her has only worsened. Every little thing Bailey does seduces him. But when Vaughn’s painful emotional past makes him walk away in fear he will hurt her, it opens an old wound in Bailey, and she uncharacteristically retreats.

Once Vaughn begins to realize he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he has no choice but to fight like he’s never fought before to convince Bailey that the love they’ve found together only comes around once in a lifetime.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

REVIEW: Night Shifts Black by Alyson Santos


Like many, I've recently found myself with extra time and quite a large number of unread novels on my Kindle. So when Colleen Hoover recommended Limelight by Alyson Santos I immediately remembered that I had an Alyson Santos novel on my Kindle--Night Shifts Black. With extra time on my hands, I decided to dive right in. 


How dare you let me go this many years without reading this novel. It was exactly the quiet novel I needed--which is interesting because it's rare that you see a novel that features a rock star considered quiet, but it is. It's intimate and reflective and takes some interesting turns. I thought I knew where this novel was going and I was wrong. Isn't that the best? Sometimes...and in this case, yes. A novel surprising you in ways that you didn't anticipate just really elevates it in my eyes, especially when you go into with no expectations and no knowledge of what you're getting into. 

Callie and Luke. Luke and Casey. Casey and Callie. How they all fit together and how they stay together was quite a journey of history, tragedy, tough love, and hope. By the end, I was immediately ready to plunge into the rest of the series to see how these guys are doing, which I'll be doing shortly. 

SIDE NOTE--while reading past the last chapter, I saw that the writer had a video made for one of the songs and I watched it and once again was mad that I haven't been reading this writer for years! How cool to see such a multi-talented writer showcase her many talents. Wow. 



The powerful story no one saw coming.

His name is Luke. But nobody knows that. He was an iconic musician before he gave up music. But nobody knows that either. They also don’t know he’s twenty-seven, that he used to have an infectious laugh, and that he’s way too young to be widowed. They certainly don’t know the rest of his tragic story. All they know is that he comes into their café at the same time every morning and stares at the same chair at the same table. They know he’s strange. They know he interrupts their breakfast with a cold blast of air as he hovers in the doorway, mustering the courage to confront a piece of furniture.

No one asks why. No one cares. He’s fine with that. He’s done with life. This isn’t even his story anymore. It’s actually Callie’s, the young writer who sat in his chair one day.

This novel is a work of fiction and intended for mature readers. Events and persons depicted are of a fictional nature and use language, make choices, and face situations inappropriate for younger readers. Please note this book also addresses the issues of depression and suicide in a compassionate, realistic manner. This book can be read as a standalone, but the story continues in Tracing Holland.
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